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Mr. Mantis

On Friday, a praying mantis (or “stick bug”) was on my garden hose.

I didn’t see it.

I grabbed the hose to turn it on, and the GIGANTIC BUG walked onto my hand.

My heart nearly stopped and I frantically waved my hand sending it flying through the air.

An hour later, I looked down while working and saw the very same praying mantis at the foot of my desk.

(My back door opens constantly letting Fred in and out … Mr. Mantis must have snuck in.)

It turned its eerie head and looked right at me.

It stared.

I stared back.



Of course, I couldn’t kill it because they look like humans in some weird stick-bug way.

Also, Mr. Mantis was spectacularly LARGE … by praying mantis standards.

I mustered up my courage, grabbed a magazine, scoot Mr. Mantis onto it, and put him outside.

I’m not kidding, an hour later he came to my back door where he kept peering in at me.

He remained in the vicinity of my back door, watching me, for the remainder of the day.

When I fed Fred in the evening I didn’t see Mr. Mantis and I was relieved he had finally gone away.

I promptly forgot about Mr. Mantis and his weird obsession with me.

Later, Friday night, I was watching an episode of Ray Donovan while I did some paperwork.

Fred came over to give me a kiss and seemed suddenly obsessed by something at the foot of my chair.

I assumed I must have dropped a crumb of food at some point during the last 24 hours.

(Fred rarely concerns himself with anything other than snuggles and/or food.)

As I peered down at the ground to see what Fred was looking at,

I felt a very soft tingly feeling on my right forearm.

I glanced at my arm and, there just inches from my face, was MR. MANTIS SITTING ON MY ARM!!!!

I’m not exaggerating one bit when I tell you I let out the loudest, most piercing, blood-curdling, scream of my life.

I have new neighbors next door and I’m amazed they didn’t call for the police.

(I swear, I’m not a person who screams at bugs normally but this bug was haunting me!)


As I screamed, I jumped up, flinging Mr. Mantis to the floor.

Fred got all excited and began wagging his tail furiously as he searched for Mr. Mantis.

There was total chaos for a few minutes.

Long story short, Mr. Mantis is now deceased and no longer with us.

Before you tell me how NICE praying mantis bugs are,

Let me inform you they eat their mates – sometimes after decapitating them.

They really aren’t THAT nice!

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Fred Eating Rain!

Fred isn’t used to rain – due to California’s horrible drought.

We had a short summer (monsoon) storm the other day.

Fred, being a true water dog, couldn’t wait to play in the rain.

He wasn’t quite sure why water was falling from the sky.

In case you didn’t see this short video on my Facebook stream,

I decided to share it here today.

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I can’t believe we’re already in the second week of September.

I’ve had a volatile personal situation going on for the last couple weeks.

It has REALLY stressed me out.

Sometimes, being nice is a great way to resolve things.

And ….?

Sometimes it’s not.

I might have moved into high-octane mode yesterday.

I feel so much better now, as a result.

(I can only take negative energy for so long before I combust!)

Saying, “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take this anymore,” is often what it takes to get a situation resolved.

A few of you have inquired after Fred.

Fred didn’t go with me to L.A. last weekend because of the extreme heat.

(Fred has gone with me to L.A. on some previous trips.)

Instead, he stayed home and enjoyed the air conditioning, early morning beach walks, etc.

I was gone two days and only one night.

Fred was spoiled rotten in my absence.

When I returned, Fred covered me with slobber and kisses.

Fred is shedding like CRAZY right now due to the heat.

I’ve been brushing, and brushing, and brushing him.

I recently found a couple areas where his fur had matted.

I felt terrible – how could I have missed those spots?

(To be honest, it’s easy to miss an area because FRED IS ONE GIGANTIC, SUPER-SIZED, DOUBLE COAT OF SUPER LONG FUR EVERYWHERE!)

I apologized to Fred for my error and promised to be more careful in the future.

He slurped my neck with his long tongue to let me know I’m forgiven.

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Filling In The Gaps

I didn’t intend to go missing for so long, but with a holiday weekend ….!

Anyway, HELLO!

It’s burning-up hot here which is pretty typical for September.

I spent a couple of last weekend’s days in L.A.

I stayed at The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica because I’ve become addicted to that place.

Huntley © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty

View from my hotel room  —  The Huntley Hotel, Santa Monica, CA (iPhone)

They always roll out the red carpet for me and give me one of their best view rooms.

I squeezed in some fun time along the way – which was very needed.

My daughter and I had dinner at Sugarfish.

(Really great sushi!)

I also did a little shopping on Abbot Kinney in Venice.

Abbot Kinney  — looking very Venice Beach-ish!

I walked from one end of Santa Monica all the way to Venice just for the hell of it one day.

(It was about four and a half miles.)

I took photos.

My arm popped off me one day and back into place the next day.

(Neither one felt very good!)

I had a great lunch at Joan’s on Third.

I even had a chance to stop into an art store and explore for awhile.

(I used amazing financial restraint while I was there!)

Most importantly, it was just nice to have a change of scenery for a couple days.

Isn’t it amazing how much better life can seem with just an occasional change of scenery?

I feel refreshed!


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A Week I Wish I Could Forget

This week was crazy, and insane, and bad in so many ways.

But …?

Today is Friday.

And it’s a “long,” holiday, weekend here in the United States.

I’m going to try to forget all the negativity, and focus on enjoying my weekend.

I’ll be up in L.A. doing some photography work part of the weekend.

I, also, hope to get a few hours of art time.

(There wasn’t a single moment to relax all week.)

We don’t have any great art stores here in Orange County.

I hope to visit one (or two, or three?) art stores during my twenty four hours in L.A.

Fred would probably like a trip to the beach too?

Sunset in Laguna – photo taken with Fred’s assistance!

I can see already the weekend will be over way too fast.

By the way, Fred is so tall now ….

How tall is he?

Yesterday, when his tail wagged – it swiped a LARGE tumbler of iced tea right off the table.

Ice cubes and iced, jasmine, tea went everywhere.

Fred looked behind him at the spilled mess.

He was puzzled.

Who was behind him creating such havoc?

Then he decided he could help clean it up by munching on the ice cubes.

Fred LOVES ice cubes.

Oh Fred!

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Blogging Schedule

I’m changing around my blogging schedule.

I wanted to let you know so you don’t worry if I “disappear” now and again.

I’ve decided to reduce my posts to 2-3 per week.

Real life is not allowing for more than that right now.

Twenty Four At Heart will remain alive and active ….

But, I won’t be posting every single day Monday through Friday.

To be honest, I can’t talk about most of my life publicly now that I’ve become a “known” entity.

I have cities and corporations (clients!) peering over my shoulder.

So, I end up only writing about “safe” topics and that just isn’t very exciting.

I have plenty of exciting things going on in my life, but they’ve become “un-bloggable.”

You can still find me on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, etc.

And, of course, I will still be HERE.

I just won’t be here five days a week!

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Fred The Newf – 10 Months

Fred turned ten months old on Sunday.

I took him to the beach for a sunset walk to celebrate.

It’s been so hot lately.

Fred wanted to spend some of his beach time hanging out on the cool, wet, sand.

Fred – Now a 10 Month Old Newfoundland Puppy!

Fred now weighs approximately 130 pounds.

(He kept moving as I tried to weigh him which is why I say “approximately.”)

Every time we go to the beach, Fred gets a lot of attention and love from total strangers.

He doesn’t seem to mind.

(When Fred gets tired of it, he lays down and sighs.  “Why must everyone want to LOVE me?”)

Fred likes to go to the beach.

He enjoys the sand, seeing lots of people, meeting other dogs, and helping me take photos.

He’s afraid of waves that might “get him” when they approach.

They’re fine from a short distance away, but they’re scary up close!

I think Fred will gradually get used to waves as he matures and spends more time around them.

Fred currently LOVES “still” water, sprinklers, and water coming out of a hose.

Sand is fun to run in, to dig in, and to make his belly feel nice and cool.

Fred gets very excited when he realizes he’s getting a trip to the beach.

I was so happy to get some good shots of him at sunset.

It isn’t easy during tourist season when the beaches are crowded.

For Sunday’s walk, we were lucky enough to find a fairly unoccupied little cove.

Fred is a Newfie adolescent now.

He’s morphing from puppy to adult …

And, such a handsome one at that!

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What Professional Photographers Know

Everyone has a camera these days.

Everyone, therefore, calls themselves a photographer.

And …?

That’s fine.

I think it’s awesome photography has become so popular.

But … there are a lot of problems in the photography world. (!!!!)

Some of those problems are downright dangerous.

(I’m sure you’ve read news stories of photographers being killed while taking photos on train tracks, etc.)

A few years ago I met a woman, about 30 years old, who told me about her love for photography.

She was (and still is) very much a “fan” of my work.

Her photos weren’t very good when we first met, but she was eager to learn.

I encouraged her to keep at it, to follow her passion, and most of all, to have fun.

Over the last several years, I’ve watched her abilities (and photographic results) improve.

It’s made me happy to be on the sidelines watching her growth.

I’ve tried to encourage her when we’ve had contact.

I’ve truly enjoyed seeing her learn and begin turning out nicer images.

This woman has a full time job and family.

She doesn’t shoot often – maybe only a couple hours each month.

About a year ago, I noticed she was becoming cocky and arrogant.

I saw social media posts where she bragged about being a photographer … acting as if she were a professional instead of the hobbyist she is.

OK, let’s be honest, you might have thought she was an *award winning* professional from all of her bragging.

I watched, and read her posts, in silence.

I even read a not-so-subtle jab she wrote about me as her opinion of herself grew.

And then, I got an email.

She was “devastated.”

She had gone to the beach to shoot some photos.

She put her camera bag “far enough away from the water to be safe” and began taking photos.

A few minutes later, her bag and her two best lenses were swept away – along with her wallet, her phone, her keys, etc.

She hadn’t realized it was high tide.

She told me it had taken her “forever” to save for the lenses and it would take “years” to recover, financially, from the loss.

Of course, I feel bad for her.

Am I surprised by what happened?

No, not at all.

Three things struck me immediately.

You will never catch a professional landscape/seascape photographer shooting near the ocean without full knowledge of the tide and current situation for that day and time.

I check tide and sea conditions before I pack my gear, again when I arrive at my destination, and oftentimes again while I’m shooting.

Rogue waves can (and DO) happen ….

But, you will never, ever, EVER see me surprised by high tide or the daily ocean conditions.

Preparation is vital for any type of professional photographer.

(If I was shooting on train tracks you can be damn sure I’d know the train schedule!)

[P.S.  Please don’t ever take photos on train tracks!!]

Second, professional photographers always (always, always!!) have their gear insured.

If I drop a $3,000 lens against ocean rocks, you’ll hear me swear.

You won’t see me cry.

My gear is insured and it can be replaced.

You can’t afford a lens unless you can also afford to pay to have it insured.

It’s as simple as that.

Camera gear is frequently stolen.

It also breaks.

And, accidents happen.

Insurance is a must unless you can afford (and are willing) to replace your gear at a moment’s notice.

Third, you are legally responsible for any damage you do while out shooting.

So, you think you’re a pretty good photographer and you decide you want to give lessons to a few friends?

You charge them a few bucks each and head out to do some shooting.

And then, there’s some type of accident …

Someone gets hurt.

Or, someone in your group accidentally damages something.

The next thing you know, you’re getting your ass sued and you have legal costs you never dreamed of.

Do you have an extra $60,000 sitting around to pay a lawyer?

Are you completely surprised to find out you could lose your home and/or all your personal possessions if it’s a big lawsuit?

Being a photographer brings on all sorts of liability issues and you damn well better know what they are.

That’s why professional photographers protect their homes and personal possessions, legally, by being incorporated.

(Legal terms for this vary depending on the state you live in.  For me, I’m an “LLC.”  I am not an attorney, so please contact an actual lawyer if you need clarity on this!)

Again, I am sorry for the loss my acquaintance incurred.

At the same time, perhaps it’s an opportunity others can learn from ….

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Final Friday

Today is the last Friday I consider to be summer.

This has been the longest, most boring, summer of my life.

I’m glad it’s over, even though I know the heat waves will go on … and on, and on for months to come.

Hopefully, monsoon season will end soon?

Monsoon clouds at the beach.

The heat is much more bearable when it isn’t humid.

September gets busy for me, and I’m glad.

The bulk of the tourists will soon leave “my” beaches …. which means I’ll be out shooting more.

I’ve also got a couple short trips etched on my calendar for September.

I love all things FALL, do you?

This weekend, I’m going to attempt to give GIGANTIC FRED a shower.

That should be a very interesting experience.

I’m guessing he’s around 130 pounds now?

If I get a chance, I’m also going to meet with a contractor about some work I need done.

There are three bathrooms in my house and they ALL are in desperate need of a remodel.

I can’t get all three done at the same time.

I hate to even think about what a bathroom remodel costs?


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How Hot Is It?

How hot is it?

It’s so hot, birds have been drinking from (and bathing in) Fred’s water.


How hot is it?

After running zillions of errands in the heat yesterday, I decided I didn’t want to move from the air conditioning all evening.

Also …?

I need to move closer to the beach.

I’m getting tired of the HOT in my canyon.

(That’s what he said!)

Fred and I are going for late night, and very early morning, walks together.

He’s not happy about missing his late afternoon walks, but it has been way too hot for him.

(We play football inside the air conditioned house instead!)

Fortunately, we haven’t run into a mountain lion yet.

Yesterday, Fred and I witnessed an amazing sunRISE from my backyard.

Monsoon clouds make for awesome colors!

Sunrise  –  Monsoon Clouds Over The Mountains

In other randomness,

My airline ticket to New Zealand has been purchased!

Woo hoo!

And no, I have not, yet, booked a single hotel.

I need to get on it, because I know things are booking up quickly for February.

The other night, when I couldn’t sleep, I pulled out my watercolor paints.

Girl WC © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

My painted girl might look like a poodle?

Clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing with watercolors but it was fun anyway.

There’s nothing like a little midnight, insomnia-induced, art.

I feel like, when it’s hot like this, all I really do is constantly refill hummingbird feeders.

(Four huge, 32oz, feeders each day!)

I make the hummingbird food too … four gallons at a time.

I get tired of it when it becomes a daily thing.

(But, the poor hummingbirds are very hot and thirsty, right?)

And, I also seem to be making ice all the time.

The icemaker on my refrigerator has been broken for years so I’m always making ice.

(Fred gets ice added into his water bowl when it’s this hot … otherwise his water would be about 100F.)

Oh, and then there’s refrigerated melon.

I don’t seem to want to cook and/or eat “real” food.

A slice of cold melon is really all I want.

It was the only thing I bought at the grocery store yesterday, too.

I could swear a man at the store made a comment about me.

And yes,

I AM the woman with the big melons!

Melons © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W