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I’m Blinking, Not Winking

:: Blink ::

:: Blink ::

:: Blink ::

"Hey there, how ya doin'?" he asked leering at me.

I looked away, blushing.  

I wasn't trying to WINK at the man I passed.  I just have a bit of a one-eye BLINKING problem this week.

Eye

I woke up a few days ago with a scratchy, red, right eye.  Fortunately, the very next day I had my once-a-year eye check-up.  

Isn't that eye-ronic?  

Talk about timing!  

My weird not-so-imaginary, less-than-a-full-blown, ailment couldn't have timed itself more perfectly.

"What's going on?  Why's your right eye so red?" my eye doc asked immediately.

"Allergies?" I asked.

"No …," he said peering into my eye.  

(He loves it when I give him an EYE-full!)

"Is it going to fall out?" I asked.

He laughed, "You're always so funny, Suzanne."

(Um … I was SERIOUS!  I think I have a little bit of an eyeball-phobia.)

As it turns out, I have a clogged tear duct and it's no big deal.  It should get better on it's own in a few days.  In the meantime I'm supposed to use moisturizing drops to keep my eye wet and put warm compresses on the area of the clogged duct each night.

NOT A BIG DEAL!  

It doesn't hurt, my eye just feels kinda scratchy.

I later explained to my pharmacist I need something to get me a little wetter, and asked if he had any suggestions.  Then I promptly began stammering and turning all sorts of shades of red.  I tried to explain what I meant and he openly snickered.  

(I am SO overdue to write a series post about my pharmacist!  Coming soon to 24 ….!)

I'm also supposed to wear sunglasses for now on when my eyes are digesting piles of brick dust as I photograph baseball games.  As it turns out, if you station yourself by third base you, and your eyes, eat a lot of dust as players slide (or run) by you.  

* For those of you who aren't baseball fans, brick dust is what they put on baseball fields.  It makes the infield that sort of reddish color.  It's also what causes me to do so much laundry. *

In any case, if you run into me this weekend – maybe now you'll understand.

:: Blink ::

:: Blink ::

Or did I mean …

:: WINK ::

:: WINK ::

       ?

P.S.  The above photo REALLY IS my eye!  Aren't eyeballs freaky?   

© Twenty Four At Heart

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My (so far) Favorite Apps

Not all of you have the same phone I do, but don't go running away quite yet.

A lot of the same apps I'm learning to love on my iPhone are available, or will be soon, on other phones too.

Several of my friends have recently purchased new phones and asked me to share with them which apps I find myself using the most.  Since I've had the same conversation four times in the last month, I thought I'd write my thoughts here.  Next time someone asks me what apps I like, I'll just send them a link.

Just kidding!

Of course, I always love to hear what other people like too.  I've found all my favorites from friends and readers.  

You people are the best!

I use the Twitter app a lot, Facebook less, and the Weather Channel at least once a day.  Go ahead and laugh at me about using the Weather Channel.  (I want to know if it's going to be in the 70's or 80's … is that okay?)

I've, of course, tried a lot of photography apps.  I know Instagram is the trendy social media photo app right now, but it doesn't thrill me the way it seems to thrill everyone else.  I think it's great for sharing photos, but the photo quality doesn't do a whole lot for me.  Photo quality is important to an obsessive photo person like me.

So?

My favorite photography app right now is Camera+.  I love the ease of use with it, and I love the variety of filters, etc.  It was initially recommended to me by a Twitter friend who is a professional magazine photographer and editor.  It's the photo app I come back to most frequently.  (My second favorite is 100 Cameras.)

If you're new to photography and want a basic how-to guide, Photo Caddy might be a helpful app.  It gives tips, suggestions, and typical settings for different situations.  

The app I use the most every day, however, is a productivity app called Things.  Things is expensive as apps go (I think it was $9.00), but I live and breathe it – all day, every day.  Things is, so far, the best to-do list, get yourself organized, don't forget anything, app I've seen.  Are there better apps out there?  Maybe, but I haven't found them.  (I have, however, found several productivity apps which don't work as well for me.)

I've had an insanely busy few weeks and Things is the thing keeping me on track.

My two favorite music apps are Pandora and Shazam.  I don't think I need to explain those, do I?  (Maybe I do?)  Briefly, Pandora is like a personalized radio station in your pocket and Shazam identifies music and tells you what you're listening to.

My favorite vice app is Wine Ratings.  Oh, how I love this app.  I used it when BevMo recently had their five cent wine sale.  It's worth every penny if you like to try new wines and step out of your wine rut.

You ARE in a wine rut, aren't you?

(I knew you were!)

I keep a running grocery list on Grocery Gadget and do my grocery (and pharmacy) shopping off of it.  I no longer make a "regular" grocery list … it's all done through this app.  I love using it when I'm out and about and suddenly remember I need something on my next trip to get groceries.  I add it to my Grocery Gadget list immediately because it's always with me.  (Fewer forgotten items means fewer trips to the store.) 

I'm really not that much of a game player, but when I'm waiting for PR to come out from baseball practice, or sitting in a waiting room somewhere I'll play them.  What am I playing?  Well, most of the time it's Angry Birds, Tiny Wings or DoodleJump.  Again, I don't play games enough to need a lot of them.

I find myself using Lifestyle apps a lot on the weekends.  I like Yelp, AroundMe, Wikihood, Where and YPmobile best.  They each have different strengths, and all of them have been valuable to me at different times.

FlightTrack is a must-have travel app if you, or someone in your family, travels by plane a lot.

Educational.  My dad spent his career working for NASA, which rubbed off on me a little.  I like both the NASA app and Star Walk.  I realize these are nerdy apps, and not everyone would be interested in them.

I have other apps I like a lot too, but the ones I've mentioned today are the ones I use the most on a day in, day out, basis. 

What am I missing?

What are your favorites, or the ones you rely on the most? 

I love hearing from you, because you have the BEST ideas!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Learning Curve

My new lens arrived yesterday morning.  I strapped it to my monopod and shot a couple quick practice shots in our backyard.  A few hours later I was off to shoot another high school baseball game.

When I got home at the end of the day, the sun was setting.  I raised the lens with a very weary, painful, arm and took one more photo.  It ended up being my favorite of the day.

HBw

* Posted in the Miscellaneous album in my gallery. *

Isn't that just beautiful?  

It goes to show, the unplanned photos are often the best.  I think I'm going to like the new lens.

This is what I learned yesterday:

•  There's a learning curve with a monopod.  I might have bopped myself in the face with it a few times.

•  There's a learning curve with a 100-400mm lens.  (Let's just leave it at that!)

•  I'm getting the hang of this sports photography thing and my photos are already vastly improved from a week ago.  Yay me!

•  Photographing a 2-3 hour high school baseball game is very physical and not just for my bum arm.  I felt like I had actually played the game by the time I was done.  Maybe I can call it exercise????

•  Someone is always going to be angry they have to pay to purchase photos.  Do they really think I should spend hours photographing, editing, uploading AND developing photos for free?  Do they not realize it costs money to do that?

•  Uploading and editing hundreds of photos is a pain in the ass, but taking them is a joy.

•  Brick dust and sweat aren't attractive on me.

•  A pain pill on an empty stomach is always a bad idea no matter what.

•  Hummingbirds are so much prettier than high school boys.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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My Brain – Unexplained

•  Oh, look!  Pretty flowers at Trader Joe's for only $5.00.  They'll cheer me up which will surely make the pain better.  I just know it!  I'll take them home.

IMG_0264
•  Why is it when you email the parents of the high school team with the password to the team photo gallery, at least one person will email you saying the site is broken when, in fact, they've just misspelled the password?  Why wouldn't they check their spelling prior to emailing you about the "crisis?"

•  I love daylight savings time.  I wish we could keep it all year.  I hate the first week, though.  I also hate when I have to wake up in the dark.  The sunrise provided some consolation yesterday:

_MG_4171

•  I baked bacon over the weekend instead of cooking it in a frying pan.  It came out great.  I doubt if I'll ever cook it any other way again.

•  I have a game to shoot today.  After that, my arm will get more than a week off.  It needs a rest, badly.

•  Whoopee!!  My new lens arrives this morning.  It's a 100-400mm and I can't wait to get my photo-geek hands on it.  Few things in life are more exciting than buying a new lens.

•  PR had to make "Mexican Hot Chocolate" for his Spanish homework the other night.  It had chile powder and cinnamon in it.  It was okay.  I think it could have done without the chile powder.

•  The Torturer gave me a do-at-home tip to help my pain level yesterday.  I'm sharing this minor news with you, because some of you are forever mad at him for past dramas.  He also refrained from telling me to put the camera away forever.  (That must have taken a lot of restraint on his part.)

•  My Internet hasn't been working very well.  An Internet Man is coming out today to take a look at it.  If he doesn't fix it, I will have severe withdrawals in 3 .. 2 .. 1 …!

•  Oh, look!  Trader Joe's has SHAMROCKS!  I love shamrocks.  They're perfect for hiding chocolate gold coins in.  (The leprechauns bring chocolate gold coins and then later in the day I serve leprechaun sundaes.  A leprechaun sundae is made out of mint chip ice cream, has chocolate syrup and whip cream on it and is decorated with the gold coins left earlier in the day.)  Sadly, leprechaun sundaes are not low-carb, and I don't indulge in one myself.

IMG_0265
•  Do you think leprechauns will come to your house this week?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Why I’m Fighting This Fight

I'm writing this while sitting outside on my patio.  I'm enjoying the beautiful weather, the mountain view, a cup of tea, and a few moments of quiet.  My retrievers are napping at my feet, happy to have me home.

Right now, my arm is covered with three large pain patches, which is the maximum number a person can safely wear, or so my doctor tells me.  (Twelve hours on followed by twelve hours off … never to exceed three pain patches at a time.)  

My bionic arm is turned up to the highest frequency it's currently programmed for.  It's a frequency I rarely use because the high frequency, in and of itself, often hurts.  I've already taken prescription strength ibuprofen, a narcotic pain pill, and cocooned my shoulder in heat.

And still …

The pain is breathtaking – awe inspiring really.

I've asked myself, more than once, the question I've recently heard from some of you.

Why am I doing this?

Why am I so determined to live my life behind a lens?

Why am I photographing a season of nonstop baseball games for a local high school?

Why do I do something I know will only cause me substantially more pain?

Why?

On Saturday, I was at the baseball field when a visitor stopped by to watch a portion of the game.  The visitor was a woman I knew from the local sports community before my car accident.  I also saw her during the first few months after my accident.  At the time, my life consisted of nothing more than surgery after surgery.  Since then, our lives have moved in different directions.  We've been out of touch for several years.

There she was though, stopping by to catch a few moments of a local high school game.  The first words out of her mouth when she saw me were, "You've got a camera in your hands again!"  She said this with a huge smile on her face, genuinely thrilled to think I'm able to resume this part of my life.  Photography, she knew, was a huge part of my life prior to the accident.

Her words echoed in my mind for the remainder of the day.  Memories rushed back of years, and years, and years of traipsing everywhere with my camera around my neck.  Recollections of the hundreds of baseball games I've attended over the years, all with my camera by my side, also came back to me.

I thought back to the day I received my current camera.  I didn't know if I'd be able to even hold it, but I bought it anyway.  I bought it because I knew if I did, I'd find a way to use it come hell or high water.

For the first time since the accident, I've realized the stubbornness determination which exists inside me.

I've also realized I'm capable of enduring more pain than most people have the ability to even conceive of.  The pain is always there, wanting to stop me in my tracks.  There are moments when it does, but then I forge on.  I do so, not because I'm strong or "inspirational," but because to do otherwise is unthinkable.

I've gained a new perspective on how much I hate being told I'm disabled and/or that I'll never be able to do certain things again.  Since the accident, I have refused to accept the words "can't," "don't," and "never again."  I hear these words.  I listen to them, I acknowledge them, and then I go about my life as if they were never spoken.

There are around one hundred people involved with the team I'll be photographing for the next several months.  Out of all those people, only two are aware there's anything "wrong" with me.  To everyone else, I'm a normal person.  I'm a photographer.  They don't know I'm "disabled."  They don't know the pain I live in, or the increased pain I experience when I use my camera.  

I wear long sleeved shirts to cover my scars and pain patches when I'm in public.  I've learned to use my left arm, and hand, in ways to make my motions seem normal even when they're not.

I'm a fake.  

I'm an impostor. 

And yet, it's a victory of sorts because they don't even know.

I'm fighting, daily, to have a semblance of the life I was "supposed to have" prior to the accident.  

Living my life the way I want to live it causes me increased pain.

But what kind of life would it be if I gave up the things I love?

What kind of life would it be if I let my pain, my injuries, my disability, dictate how I live my life?

And so yes, there are times when the pain is so intense – even I second guess my choices.

But it's a fight worth fighting …

It's the life I was meant to lead.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Japan

It's difficult to comprehend everything that has happened, and is happening, in Japan.  I've been in several large earthquakes, but I can't even imagine experiencing a quake with an 8.9 magnitude.  

Years ago, I was driving near the epicenter of a big earthquake and my car was picked up and moved to a different lane.  Buildings crumbled, bridges fell … and yet that earthquake didn't begin to compare to what Japan has just experienced.

Tsunami.

I can't get over the videos of the tsunami.  I think the photos will be etched in my brain forever.  I know the ocean.  I love the ocean.  I'm in awe of the power of the ocean.

But the tsunami footage?

It's beyond incredible.

Several of you emailed me worried about the tsunami effects here.  We were fine.  Beaches were closed as a precautionary measure.  (Mainly to prevent looky-loos who have no understanding/respect for the ocean from being stupid and getting hurt.)

Nuclear meltdown(s).

It's even harder to wrap my brain around that one.

My heart aches for everyone affected by these tragedies.

Those poor people.

My heart hurts.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Lake Mission Viejo

When Briefcase and I first married, we lived in a small starter home in the city of Mission Viejo.  The city, and the Mission Viejo lake, hold a special place in my heart.

LMVw
© Twenty Four At Heart

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Countdown to the Weekend!

PR had a great day celebrating his 16th birthday yesterday.

I'm shuttling my guests up to LAX airport today.  It's about an hour drive each way if there's no traffic.  There WILL be traffic so I imagine the errand will take several hours to complete.

(By the way, the guests had nothing to do with PR's birthday – the timing was pure, exhausting, coincidence.)

Tonight?

Tonight I plan to do nothing but enjoy a glass of wine and hang out on my couch.

To say I was overextended this week is an understatement.

Tomorrow is another baseball game to photograph.  (Number five for the week – egads!)

For now, I thought I'd just share with you this humor from the airport, which is currently undergoing some construction.

IMG_0238
© Twenty Four At Heart

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Knock, Knock??

Are you still there?

Thank you for your patience while I'm completely out of my mind this week busy for a few days.

Today is PR's 16th birthday!

Sc0021c550
He's the little one on the right.

Except?

He's not little anymore.  In fact, he's bigger than me.  (*sob*) 

My house guests leave Friday afternoon.

By Monday, I will (hopefully) be back to my normal routine.

Yesterday, I took my guests out to lunch in Laguna.

We had beautiful, perfect visiting-from-the-east-coast (never-been-to-California-before) weather!

IMG_0248
The above shot was of my car thermometer as I was driving around Laguna.  My guests were in heaven!  (It was in the low 30's back at their home.) 

Here are a few shots from my afternoon.

My car GPS:

IMG_0247
I've lived in California my whole life and I STILL think it's awesome to see all the blue showing up on my GPS indicating OCEAN!

Remember the flooding I wrote about back in December?

CautionW
It washed out a portion of the boardwalk at Laguna Main.  They're rebuilding the damaged section now.  Do you think it's marked clearly enough?  Maybe they need a few more caution signs?  How much do you want to bet someone will still manage to fall off the boardwalk?

LLGw
I'm in love, love, love, with the above photo.  (I'm crazy about the lens flare.)

Yes, I AM a photo geek – why do you ask?

Here's what my arm looked like yesterday:

IMG_0250

Those are Lidoderm pain patches wallpapering my body.  Pretty?

I think it's safe to say, I shouldn't be photographing baseball games.  The lens I need to use is big and heavy.  The games can easily last three hours.  My pain level is currently off the charts after taking, (very poor), photos of just one game.  

I have another game to shoot this afternoon.

What the hell was I thinking with this official team photographer stuff?  Maybe the monopod I ordered will save me.  It should arrive for next week's games.

Will I ever accept just because I want to use my arm, doesn't mean I'm able to use it?

Denial is really an art form, isn't it?  

I seem to have perfected it.

One last Laguna Beach photo, via my phone ……

IMG_0246
Ahhh … it was such a beautiful day yesterday!

* Yes, this post was written under the influence of pain meds.  Did I make sense?

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Girls, Girls, Girls!

I'm sorry for the half-ass-ish-ness of this post.  (And possibly a few more posts to come.)

I'm crazy out-of-my-mind busy with house guests, PR's 16th birthday this Thursday, and a baseball tournament which accounts for FIVE games in a one week period.  

I could just NOT blog … but that's sorta against my religion.

On the other hand, have I mentioned I love my iPhone?

I especially love the camera on it.

I hope you don't mind if I update you with iPhone photos until my life settles back into a normal routine.  

Last Friday night was Girl's Night Out.  

I got together with a couple girlfriends and went to a local Money Town bar.  The people watching was fantastic – there were plastic OC/Barbie women everywhere.  One woman, sitting in a booth near us, was particularly entertaining.  She had long, long, bleached-pure-white hair, all sorts of OC fakeness going on … and her foot in her date's crotch all night.

It was good for a lot of giggles since the entire room was watching her elaborate foot action.

Of course it was too dark to get decent photos in the bar.  I forgot to bring my tiny Canon S95 camera (which takes excellent low light photos).  I'll try to go back to the same bar sometime soon – just so I can bring you pictures of some real (plastic) OC people.

My night began with a pomegranate martini:

IMG_0213

I'm not a big drinker … which is code for saying I get drunk on one drink.

But did I stop after ONE drink?

No, I did not ….

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Cheers!

Drunk girlfriends:

IMG_0220

They seem to be having a good time.

I had a good time too.

In fact, by the end of the evening I looked like this:

IMG_0209

I should be embarrassed to show you the above photo, but hey … it's not the first time I've humiliated myself by over sharing.  

(And I'm sure it won't be the last either!)

© Twenty Four At Heart