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Photo Walk: Boston

Yesterday I went on a one-on-one photo walk with a fabulous, professional, photographer named Saba.

(BTW, I haven't had much photo editing time so today's photos are watermarked and not much else.)


I prepared for the day by taking opiates and covering my arm with pain patches.  (She's probably freaking out if she's reading this.  "You were on opiates?!")


Yes, I was.

I didn't want my arm to be a factor in the two hours I was SO looking forward to while here in Boston.  The good thing is, my arm held up through the photo walk.  The bad thing?  I think the pain meds made me forget every last drop of photography knowledge I've ever learned.  I felt forgetful, nervous, and unsure of everything photography-related in the company of a photographer who knows so much.

(We won't talk about the other bad thing which, I'm sure you've guessed, is how my arm felt once the pain meds wore off!  Um, STILL feels – ugh!  I wish Dr. Painless was here – that says a lot, doesn't it?)

It was a wonderful photo walk though.  I loved every minute of it.

Saba gave me a historical, informative, tour at the same time she taught me about photography and pointed out great shots with her experienced eye.  

As an example, she explained to me the details behind the Shaw Memorial.  Then, with pure enthusiasm she exclaimed, "Just look at the hand on the sculpture!"

The sculpture has a hand?

Why yes, it does ….

That hand, became one of my favorite photos of the day.

Boston has won me over with its complete, and utter, charm.


I can't wait until I have the time to pour through the rest of my photos.  I promise I won't make you look at all of them.  

(I know I have several Bostonians following the details of my trip.  I will upload several Boston photos to a separate album on my photo site once I'm back home and have a chance to go through them all.)

I wish I could bottle the quaintness here and take it back to Orange County with me.

Sigh … taking several hundred photos home with me will have to suffice.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Randomness From Boston

I'm apologizing upfront for the quality of my posts this week.  I have very little time to sit down with my laptop here, I've got family members sharing my hotel room (which means NOISE, interruptions, and general chaos), and I'm just plain wiped out by the end of each day.

I've taken over 300 photos so far, but I've had maybe five minutes to glance at the ones I've taken.  I'll have lots of stories and photos to share with you in coming days, but the best of them may be a day or two down the road … possibly even next week, if things don't slow down a little.

Instead, today I'm just going to make a list of what I've been doing/thinking/experiencing on this trip.  

•  I can't look at another bowl of clam chowder for a long, long, time.

•  I'm going to cry when I say good-bye to my daughter this week.

•  It's absolutely beautiful in Boston.

•  It has been hot as hell here, but not that humid.

•  I've been outside every day, so far, from morning until sunset.

•  The Duck Tour was fun.

•  I'm not getting enough sleep.

•  I've eaten too much and the low-carb thing hasn't worked so well on this trip.

•  Don't mix alcohol and pain meds accidentally.  Ever.

•  I took a Swan Boat ride in the Public Garden and I enjoyed it way more than I should have.

•  I think Swan Boats are probably designed for three year olds.

•  Pizzeria Regina in the North End is to die for.  

•  Why doesn't California have pizza that even comes close to Boston/New York?

•  Everything about the North End is fabulous.

•  I don't know who Saint Anthony is, but the feast/festival for him was a blast.

•  I'm starting to get a feel for the layout of this city, but that doesn't mean I won't get lost again.

•  I don't like cannoli, and I might be the only person on earth who feels that way.

•  There are much better places for seafood here than Legal Seafood.

•  I wish I had time to go to Salem and visit all the fun witch stuff, but I don't.

•  Today, I'm taking an hour or two just for photography.  I can't wait.  No family members allowed.  : )

•  Something is biting me here and it isn't mosquitoes. 

•  Does anyone know what's biting me? 

•  I went on a tour of Fenway Park.  It was very hot.  

•  The Fenway Park tour guide was absolutely funtastic.

•  Yes, I do love baseball.

•  Fanueil Marketplace is nice, but overrated.  

•  Or maybe I'm just used to outdoor malls?

•  I'm not going to have time to do everything I want to while I'm here.

•  My arm hurts like hell.  Think:  travel, luggage, and a camera that hasn't left my side for a moment in the last several days.  

•  They don't make pain meds strong enough for my pain levels right now.

•  It's worth it – I'm living my life, not watching it pass me by.

•  Remind me of that when I take my next shot with my camera and gasp in pain.

•  Don't tell Dr. Painless, but I haven't worn my brace even once on this trip.  (I'm already in too much pain – I can't bear it!)

•  People here have been very nice to me.  

•  People here are REAL.  

•  It will be difficult to go back to the superficial people of Orange County.

•  The Prudential Center – wow!

•  I haven't gotten a minute of museum time yet and if my son has his way, I won't.

•  I've never seen so many bronze statues in my life, they're everywhere.

•  I love all the big trees.

•  I love all the OLD mixed with NEW.

•  There's so much more to tell you, but I have people clamoring for my attention right now.

•  I hope you'll be patient.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Boston: First Impressions

I spent most of Saturday traveling to Boston.  It made for a very long day.  I arrived, however, in time to have some infamous New England clam chowder for dinner. 

It was good (!), by the way.

I've never been to Boston before, so I thought I'd share some of my initial thoughts with you now that I've had some time to explore.  Also, I'd like to thank so many of you who gave me (via email and/or Twitter) tips on making the most of my Boston trip.  I've been getting Boston tips for weeks now.  Honestly, I have the greatest group of Internet friends!

First of all, Boston itself is a very beautiful city.  Here's a photo of the Back Bay area.  I'm staying somewhere back amidst those buildings.  (And no – I can't be more specific because the city is still a confusing maze to me.)  All I know is, I'm not too far from the two tallest buildings on the right side of this photo. 


I'm visiting at a time when the city is having perfect weather.  I hate being cold and probably wouldn't enjoy Boston nearly as much in winter.  Right now, however, it's spectacular.

Second observation, they really like brick here.  It's everywhere (and very charming).

Third, it's immediately apparent there's mass confusion in this city about the letter R.  The letter, for the most part doesn't exist.  It's a silent letter R.  Car is pronounced caw.  Chowder is chowda.  

Unless, of course, there's no letter R in a word … and then it's added for no reason at all.

Whose idear was this R mutation anyway?

It took me a good half hour to figure out a man meant Arlington Street when he gave me directions to Awwinton.  So confusing!

One of the first things I did was go on a Duck tour.  The "ducks" drive on land, but also drive in water.  They're amphibious vehicles.  It makes for a fun land/Charles River tour.

Duck The duck tour gave me a nice overview of the city before I began walking around exploring on my own.

And um, exploring on my own …?

Might have resulted in getting really, really, lost. 

I thought I was headed to the Back Bay and I ended up lost in Charlestown – for hours.  The two places are in total, complete, opposite directions.  There are no taxis in Charlestown on Sunday afternoons.  Just in case you were wondering.

But I'll save that vacation-gone-awry story for later.

Have I ever mentioned I have absolutely no sense of direction?

Um, yeah ….

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Beacon Hill

I'll have a "real" post for you tomorrow.  (I'm still getting settled here in Boston.)

In the meantime, I thought you might like to view a photo of historic Beacon Hill.

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Where’s 24?

This game is sort of like Where's Waldo?, but instead we're playing Where's 24?


Assuming I have a decent Internet connection at my hotel, I'll be updating from the east coast for the next several days.

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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A Rare Sighting

About once each summer, a tropical storm will blow north from Mexico to Southern California.  When it does, we get really hot temperatures, humidity (which is uncommon in our desert-like climate), and once in a great while, rain.

I know a lot of you get storms frequently in the summer, but we don't.  It's a big deal when any type of storm comes our way.  This week, we've seen temperatures over 100F/38C every day.  Some areas of Southern California have also seen thunder storms, rain, etc.  

So far, here in Orange County, we haven't had any rain but this was the view from my backyard yesterday afternoon.


A thunder cloud!

Are you laughing at me?  

You probably are but, trust me a thunder cloud is very unusual for The OC.

I thought the clouds were very majestic and powerful looking, even though they failed to deliver any rain.

A little while later I took a closer shot as the cloud changed shape.


Did you look closely?


Wait …

How old am I?  

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Admitting I’m Scared

When I first began writing Twenty Four At Heart post-car accident, I was in a very bad shape, both physically and emotionally.  (Much worse than I ever wrote about.)  I try not to think about that time period because it was a really, really, horrible time in my life.

People ask me for updates on my status often.  I write about my progress, but I worry I'm boring you when I give updates.  Lately, things have been changing at a rapid pace and, at times, it makes my head spin trying to keep up with it all.  

As an aside:  I wish I'd started in with a pain management doc years ago.  If you ever find yourself dealing with a lot of pain for ANY reason, please realize what I did not – there's help out there.  My doctors (well, some of them) were excellent at what they did, but pain management was not their expertise.  I went through a lot more pain than I needed to go through.

Also, I have to say I cringe when people write and tell me I'm inspiring.

I'm not inspiring.  I wish I could say I was, but I'm not.

I've cried, gotten angry, sworn at the world, indulged in pity parties, felt depressed, and asked "why me?" more than my fair share number of times.  Folks, there's nothing inspiring about me.  Nothing.

And now … now, I'm scared.

Logically, I know I shouldn't be.

And yet, ugh!

I met with my pain management doctor, Dr. Painless, again this last week.  It looks like I will be moving forward on the path towards having electrodes implanted in my body to help manage my pain.  Doing so involves two minor procedures/surgeries, and yet – my heart freezes at the thought.

I've had SIX surgeries already and all of them were a BIG.DEAL compared to what lies ahead.  Implanting electrodes under the skin is minor stuff.  Emotionally, however, there's something inside me that runs cold at the thought of walking into yet another surgery center.

I'm the one in control of this situation.  Implanting electrodes in my body is not something I HAVE to do.  It's something I'm choosing to pursue because I've lived with high levels of pain for over four years.  Electrodes won't make my arm or shoulder work again, but they *might* make my pain decrease substantially.

There's also the possibility less pain will result, long term, in more function.  It may not, but …?

I've had electrical stimulation at physical therapy.  For a long time I even had a portable electrical stim unit strapped to my body and I walked around all day with it.  (Of course, I made lots of jokes about my personal stimulator!)  Electrical stimulation did help with my pain although it didn't completely eliminate it – and when the stim stopped, the pain came right back.

Boring 3 sentence explanation:  Electrical stimulation works by interfering with the pain signal sent from the nerves to the brain.  It kind of "scrambles the signal" by blocking the transmission of pain messages to your brain.  Instead of pain, you feel a mild tingling sensation which TRUST ME is much easier to live with than pain.

These are the steps I will be moving through over the next several weeks once I return from my trip back east:

1.  Consulting with a pain psychologist.  He has to approve me as a good candidate before anything can move forward.  (Meaning, he needs to believe I won't freak out at the idea of having something implanted in my body and start screaming Alien!  Alien!.)

2.  Meeting with Dr. Painless to discuss details.

3.  Procedure #1 at the surgery center to put in temporary electrodes with an external charger.  This is done to see whether the electrodes help my pain levels, are in the correct location, blah, blah, blah.

4.  Removal of temporary electrodes about a week later.  This isn't *supposed to be* a big deal.  (but ouch?)

5.  Another meeting with Dr. Painless to discuss results.

**  If the electrodes don't help, or don't help very much, everything stops here.  If they do help, I proceed to step #6.  **

6.  Procedure #2 at the surgery center to put permanent electrodes into my body along with a pacemaker-type device which acts as a battery/charger.  This is a bigger procedure than putting in the temporary electrodes, but still not a major deal.  I don't think.  And yes, the device will be visible as a bump/bulge under my skin because there's not much fat to hide it under on my arm or shoulder.  The electrodes/charging unit last about ten years before needing to be replaced/removed.

7.  Follow-up visits with Dr. Painless.

At my visit with Dr. Painless this week there was a patient at his office saying good-bye to him.  She had one of these devices implanted and it has helped so much she no longer needs to see Dr. Painless.

Can you imagine?  Being pain free after years of being miserable?  I try, but I can't even imagine ….

Electrodes don't work for everyone or for every type of pain.  There's no way, at this point, to know if they'll work for me.

In the meantime, Dr. Painless is helping me in other ways.  He's given me lidocaine patches which act like giant numbing band-aids I can wear on my arm and shoulder for 12 hours each day.  They help a lot.  How I wish I had been given the patches earlier for my worst days at physical therapy!  It would have made such a difference.  

He's also given me prescription anti-inflammatories, narcotic pain meds (which I've had ever since the accident, but hate taking), sleeping pills for the nights when the pain flares to brutal levels, topical medications to help with pain, etc., etc.  He's got a giant bag of tricks.

I'm still in pain. 

In fact, as I write this I'm in a lot of pain.  (It is, I know, time for the pain meds I try so hard NOT to take.  I suppose it's my own fault for being so stubborn?)  The high pain level as I write this is, in large part, due to my daily swimming and the brace I'm now wearing several hours each day.  And yet, both are important – vital really, so my arm and shoulder don't atrophy away to nothing and become even more painful.

So why do I have this gnawing fear of moving forward?

I know it's not logical.  I don't HAVE to have the electrodes implanted.  If the temporary electrodes don't work, the permanent ones won't be implanted.  In fact, if I'm honest the electrodes having nothing to do with my fear.  I know they have a good chance of helping me.

I want to be pain-free, or as close to it as I can get.  I dream of holding a camera without gasping in pain.  My arm may never function normally, but less pain could be life changing.

My fear stems from the thought of walking back into a surgery center.  There are so many horrible memories which come rushing back at the very thought of it..  Overwhelming, pain-filled, memories of surgery, after surgery, after surgery ….

Logical or not, I'm scared.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Valet

About a month ago, I was in a local photography store when a man struck up a conversation with me.  Initially, we started talking about photography, camera lenses, and things of that nature.  I mentioned some photos I had just taken and he asked what I was going to do with them.

In hindsight it was kind of a strange question.  (What does anyone do with their photos?)  Without thinking I answered, "Oh, I'll be posting them next week."

"Post them where?" he inquired.

Careful not to mention the actual name of my blog, I answered, "Oh, I sometimes do a little writing on the Internet."  

(Ahem, almost every day … but I didn't mention THAT.)

This led to a host of questions as to what I write about. 

I had barely answered, "It's a lifestyle blog – I write about my life here in Orange County, share photos, and …. "

Before I could say another word, the man began talking and I don't think he stopped for the next forty five minutes.

He wanted to share with me his Orange County stories.

As it turns out, the man had owned, for many years, a valet company.  His company serviced a lot of the "best" restaurants, hotels and establishments in Orange County.  He said, "There's absolutely nothing I haven't seen."  

The Valet proceeded to tell me story, after story, after story.  He flung around the names of celebrities and the richest of Orange County's rich.  His stories had the ring of truth.  I can spot a bullshitter a mile away and this man was sincere.

What I learned from him, however, is the rich go to a lot of work, and spare no expense, to have illicit affairs.

I've never had an affair, but I imagine it's a lot of work to keep up with two separate relationships regardless of your finances.  I can barely keep straight the lives of the people who live in my house, let alone adding anyone else into the mix.

The valet told me about celebrities paying him to "hide" their cars so their spouses/friends/acquaintances wouldn't see their cars where they weren't supposed to be – whether it be a hotel or a restaurant.

Can you imagine?

"Excuse me, here's an extra $100 for you to go hide my car until I'm ready to leave."

He also told me stories of people paying him to drive them back to where they were supposed to be in the first place.  That's right – they arrived at a hotel with someone they shouldn't have, presumably enjoyed their rendezvous, and then paid a valet generously to drive them back to wherever their car had been left.

As an example, Jack tells his wife he's at the local sports bar with the guys.  He drives there and leaves his car, visible, in the parking lot.  His girlfriend picks him up and they go to a hotel.  Jack leaves his girlfriend, cozy in bed at the hotel, at 2 a.m. and pays the valet to take him back to his car at the sports bar.  From the sports bar, Jack then drives back home to his wife.

So much planning!

The valet also told me about people who paid his attendants to drive them to other locations.  For example, Mike shows up at a fancy restaurant.  Mike told his wife he has to attend a business dinner there.  Mike pays the valet to park his car in a visible spot.  He then slips the valet an extra $100 to drive him a few blocks away to a nice hotel where he will be meeting his mistress.

I've used men's names in my above examples, but The Valet told me stories revolving around both men and women.  I know affairs are common.  I know rich people in other locations probably do similar things.  It just never occurred to me before that anyone would go to so much effort.

I suppose there's nothing new here, but it's new to me.  

I walked away stunned at the amount of work, deception, money, and effort people put into pulling off an affair.  If it's worth going through that much to spend time with someone other than your spouse – why not just get a divorce?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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My Latest Project

Today's subject is outside the realm of my normal blogging material, but I'm going to share it anyway.

Wait …

Do I ever have normal blogging material?

I think not.

In which case … it doesn't really matter, does it?

I'm in the midst of an emotional two weeks right now.

We put my son on a plane for college last Saturday.  I bawled, and bawled, and bawled.

This is his second year in college.  You'd think I'd be used to saying good-bye, but if you're a parent who has ever sent your kid to live 3,000 miles away, you know there is no such thing as getting used to it.  My son stored most of his belongings with college friends prior to summer break so he didn't need us to fly back with him and help him get settled this year.

My daughter, however, will be departing this week to ALSO live 3,000 miles away for school.  Of course, she's going to be in an entirely different state than my son because they have to make things as difficult and as expensive for their parents as possible.  I will be taking my youngest son (still at home) back east later this week to help get her moved into her apartment.  I will do the supervising and my fifteen year old son will do the lifting.


I only have one working arm.

Having two kids move to the other side of the country within a ten day time span has been emotional chaos, plain and simple.

Two years ago, with the best of intentions, I bought a family recipe book for my daughter.  She was in her first college apartment and the timing seemed appropriate for a gift related to cooking.


It's a beautiful book.  You're supposed to fill it up with family recipes to share with those you love.

Hmmm … I see nothing in the above photo about eating a low-carb diet?

This particular book came with beautiful recipe cards, lined pages, and tab dividers to make it easy to compile.


My only complaint about the book I chose, is there are simply not enough pages in it.  Yesterday, I ordered a few sets of page refills so I'll be able to add more recipes in the future.

Many years ago, my mom gave me a similar book and I treasure it to this day.  I love that the recipes are in her handwriting.  I love the time she took to put the book together for me.  The book itself, makes me feel cherished.  I also use it more than any other cookbook I've ever owned.  The recipes are full of comfort and familiarity, warmth and love.

And yet …

The book I bought for my own daughter has sat here, untouched, for two years.

Once I purchased the book, I quickly realized the amount of writing that would be involved.  I wanted to write the recipes in my own handwriting, as my mother did for me, not type them.  It's hard to explain, but seeing the recipes in my mom's handwriting is almost like hearing her speak.  I wanted to give the same gift to my daughter.

I quickly realized the project would involve more than my injured arm was capable of at the time.  I've learned to do many things left-handed since my accident, but writing is not one of them.  Although my right hand is not damaged, it takes arm-power to move my hand for any length of time.  I'm in very short supply of arm power.

In fact, I think it would be accurate to say I have NO arm power.

My daughter's cookbook has been left abandoned, filling me with the guilt of unfulfilled promises.

She leaves this week.

I decided I would get the book done prior to her departure come hell or high water.  I set a goal to work on the book every day until she leaves.  I even bought an archival quality, waterproof, fade proof, non-bleeding (all that!!) pen and I'm working diligently on her recipe book.  I'm slowly making progress, despite taking frequent breaks whenever my arm rebels.


I hope someday this cookbook will mean as much to her as the one from my mother now means to me.

This book is truly a labor of love.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Seriously? Did You Just Do That?

I was in the grocery store last week when an incident took place I just can't shake.

I had gathered all the needed groceries in my cart, stood in line at the check-out stand, and it was finally my turn to be rung up by the cashier.

Midway through scanning my items, the cashier sneezed.

This was no ordinary sneeze, this was a big, wet, clearly-sick, juicy, snot-spraying, completely un-contained sneeze.  It scattered mucus particles all over my groceries.

Did I mention a lot of what I was buying was produce?

(Being on a healthy eating kick, and all ….)

Um, gross?

As I recoiled in revulsion, the cashier just went right on scanning my groceries.  She didn't apologize, say "excuse me" or even acknowledge she had just sprayed my fruit and vegetables with a coating of germy green slime.

I felt my stomach turn, and I resisted the urge to bolt from the store leaving all the groceries behind, unpaid for.

It got worse, if that's possible, before I left.

Once all my items were scanned, I paid using my bank card.

While the transaction was processing, the cashier grabbed a kleenex and began blowing her nose.

This was no ordinary nose blowing.

This was a BIG.DEAL. 

It began with actual nose blowing (of epic proportions), and concluded with fingers slightly covered with tissue digging deep into her nostrils in search of giant morsels.

I tried to look away, but the horror I was witnessing kept me riveted.

Suddenly, she tossed the snot-covered tissue into a trashcan at her feet, grabbed my receipt out of the cash register with her unwashed hands, and handed it to me saying, "Have a nice day."

She immediately began processing/handling the grocery order of the woman behind me in line.  She never washed her hands or used any type of hand sanitizer.  

It's now a week later and I still can't seem to scrub the horror of the experience from my brain cells.

What would you have done?

Should I have refused the groceries?

Should I have made a comment to her?

Should I have reported the disgusting-ness to her boss?

© Twenty Four At Heart