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A Day Off

I'm taking a day off.

I did want to let you know, however, Mocha is doing really well and improving every day.


The last two days were beautiful here, but now we're expecting more rain.

I hope you're enjoying your weekend!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a relaxing, happy, and very Merry Christmas – however you may choose to spend it!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Christmas Eve

I love the twenty four hours prior to Christmas.

Our house is busy, but relaxed.

The shopping is done, the decorating is done, and everyone is home and together.

I'll be spending a lot of time cooking over the next two days.  I'll have help from my daughter.  It's a time to enjoy and savor after all the pre-holiday madness.

I'll also be doing some last minute wrapping.


For some reason, I never manage to get all the wrapping done ahead of time.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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If It’s Not One Thing …

* I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of support for Mocha.  She seems to be improving with her medication and we just picked up one additional med for her.  We will be watching her closely for the next few days and hoping for the best. *  

Yesterday morning was a morning of emergency helicopters and firemen attempting to evacuate/rescue people in my neighborhood.

Flooding much?

Our house is fine.  At least, as of right now, our house is fine.

* My back patio a few days ago before the worst of the rain. *

Here's a link to the ABC news clip on the events in my neighborhood from yesterday.  Sixty people were rescued, thirty houses evacuated, and five homes were "red-tagged" as being unfit for residency.

(I apologize for the 8 second ad at the beginning of the clip!)


The video is not in a format I could embed into my post.  You'll have to click here to see my neighborhood and what it has been like the past few days.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Heavy Heart

When I woke up yesterday, my beloved chocolate lab, Mocha, did not greet me.

She did not run to my side, as she usually does, filled with joy to see me.

She lay on the ground not moving.

I approached her.

She gave me a sad, pitiful, look without so much as raising her head from the ground.


I sat down next to her.

"Thump," her tail wagged one time, weakly.

I knew, instantly, something was very wrong.

Mocha tried, eventually, to stand.

She staggered as if she were drunk and paced in wavy circles.

She lay down again; the effort to move was too much for her.

Mocha is eight years old.

Labs can live 12 years, sometimes more.

The night before she had been fine, but now she was not.

I called Briefcase at work.

I'd like to say I stayed nice and calm, but I didn't.

If you've ever truly loved an animal, you understand.

I can't lift Mocha.  I probably wouldn't be able to lift her even if both my arms worked.

Briefcase came home from work and rushed her to our vet.  She stayed with the vet all day, and then we received a call explaining her diagnosis, informing us of a vet bill for $700, and notifying us we could come pick her up.

(Seven hundred dollars?  I should have been a vet!  Also?  See, holiday expenses and bad timing.)

Apparently, the vertebrae in Mocha's neck is deteriorating causing bone to rub on bone.  Although she seemed perfectly fine 48 hours ago, now she is in pain.  Severe pain.

The thing is?

I'm not entirely convinced we have an accurate diagnosis.

Mocha's balance seems completely off.  She staggers when she walks.  It doesn't seem to add up to neck pain.  Or can pain make a dog pace in circles and stagger like a drunken sailor?

Our vet gave her steroids and pain killers to reduce inflammation and hopefully make her feel better.  We have to watch her closely now and hope the medication can keep her comfortable.

If it doesn't, or if there is further deterioration, our vet suggested we take her to a dog neurosurgeon for major spinal surgery.  I won't do that.  Not because of the cost, although I'm sure it would be astronomical.  I won't do it because a positive outcome is questionable.  Also, I couldn't bear to subject her to such a traumatic surgery and the pain it would cause.

If the medication can't help Mocha, we will have to put her down.

My heart is hurting …

Really, really, hurting.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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It’s Hard to be Entertaining When Your House is Flooding

I'm staring at my laptop, then glancing anxiously at the rising level of water in our backyard.  Our grass is flooded, our patio is flooded, rising water is threatening to come into our house, and a portion of our palm tree fell onto our neighbor's lawn yesterday.  I haven't seen rain like this since El Nino  ever!  The weather people tell us it will get worse before it gets better, with Wednesday being the most intense day of all.

How can more rain possibly fall from the sky than what's falling right now?

How can my outdoor/backyard drains handle more, when they so clearly can't handle the rain that has already arrived?

Yesterday I woke up before dawn and made the trek to LAX airport again.  It was my second trip there in four days.  This time I drove in low visibility and heavy rain to greet my daughter.

Southern California freeways are not designed for weather of any kind.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that "car accident" whispers in the back of my mind whenever I drive in treacherous conditions.  Perhaps that's the case for everyone who has ever been in a major accident?  The damage to the psyche is sometimes as permanent as the damage to the body.

I made it to LAX and back safely.

All of my kids are now here, gathered under one roof, for the holidays.

I'm grateful.

And yet …

I keep glancing, anxiously, at the rising water level outside my door.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Twas A Week Before Christmas

OK, so there's really only five days, not a week, left before Christmas.

It's raining here – and not just a little bit.  The meteorologists refer to our current weather condition as a "Pineapple Express."  That means, all the tropical moisture that is supposed to stay in the tropics is here instead, dumping copious amounts of rain.

On ME.

Thanks a lot, Hawaii.

Orange County (vs. Los Angeles or San Diego) is getting the worst of this particular set of storms.  Since I live by the mountains, I'm getting even more rain at my house than the rest of Orange County.

* Puddle and raindrops in my (very flooded) backyard *

I've got family in town and quite honestly, I don't know what to DO when it rains.

Rainy weather, when it lasts for more than a day, mystifies me.

What do you cold weather people do all day?

I'm restless and stir crazy.

I cook, I bake, I do some gift wrapping.

I get up and pace a lot.

I read for a few minutes and then feel a need to stretch my legs.

I pace again.

I look out the window and wonder at the fact there's still rain falling from the sky.

I grumble about my arm hurting more in the rain.

I do some arm stretches and exercises and then I sigh.

I play Angry Birds until it makes me angry.

I take a lot of bokeh photos because I'm surrounded by holiday lights, so why not?


(Some of you have asked for a post explaining how to create pretty bokeh and I'll try to have that for you soon!)

I pour a glass of wine, start a fire in the fireplace (even though it really isn't cold because it's a tropical storm), and stare at my computer screen while thinking I should be writing.

I consider opening a Netflix account but I realize I rarely sit still long enough to watch a movie except, once every several years, when a Pineapple Express comes to town.

I scratch the dog's ears.  She loves me for it and wags her tail.

I consider running out to pick up the last few stocking stuffers I need, but veto the idea because it's raining.

Orange County people hunker down in the rain.  We don't go out in it for God's sake.  Not unless we absolutely have to.  

We might get wet or something.


People here do not know how to drive in the rain.

You're taking your life in your hands if you get on the roads.  Literally.

On Saturday I took my youngest son to the mall to shop for his girlfriend.  We saw three car accidents on the way.  Once we got there we barely survived rabid OC women doing last minute shopping.  My son looked around in astonished fear as women pushed, and shoved, and elbowed him as they frantically bought everything in their path.

At one point, we sat down on a bench.

"Just watch them," I said.

And he did.

Nipped, and tucked, and frenzied in their quest for the perfect holiday gift, crazed shoppers scurried around us.

"They're ridiculous," I explained.

"Yes," he nodded.

And then we left and came home.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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We're getting rain here.

It doesn't happen that often.

Especially like this … it's expected to last for several days with only mini-breaks along the way.


I love the photo opportunities rain provides.

The beauty of the raindrops on the leaves.

The reflections inside the drops themselves.

There's beauty everywhere.

We just need to take the time to look and see it.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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To Make You Smile

I have family arriving today from out of state.  I'll be continuing to post between now and the new year, but if I miss a day here and there you'll know why.  My house has turned into official chaotic, holiday, madness for the next two weeks.

For *some reason*, having family in town makes my mind flash back to this particular scene from Christmas Vacation.  Even if you've seen the movie numerous times, the two minutes depicted here are sure to make you smile again: 




© Twenty Four At Heart