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Bee Problems

I’ll be giving away a variety of photography-related things on my photography page/blog this week.

You can click on the “Photography” tab each day in my navigation bar to see what’s new,

And/or you can subscribe to my photography feed.

Hint:  Today I’m giving away an Instax Mini 50S Instant camera !


Yesterday I mentioned a swarm of bees invaded my backyard.

They’re still here, although in fewer numbers.

They’re very aggressive bees (!!) and the minute I walk outside they zoom angrily around me.

They follow me.

It’s so bad, I’m avoiding going outside.

I’ve taken down our hummingbird feeders because the bees had discovered one of them by the end of yesterday.

I feel bad for the (zillions) of hummingbirds who keep zipping around looking for their feeders.

I’m not even letting our dogs in the backyard because the bees are so aggressive.

Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery

The bee in the above photo is the same kind of bee, but the photo was taken before the swarm arrived.

I’ve been told it’s likely they’re Africanized Honey Bees.

I’m on my way back east today.

I’ll be back in California on Monday.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate traveling?

I love BEING places, but I hate the whole airport/airlines/security hassle/sitting scrunched up for hours scene.

If the bees are still here when I get back, I guess I’ll have to find a bee company (??) to relocate them.

(I don’t see a hive, but I live in an open canyon area and it could be nearby.)

I won’t be posting this weekend but (if there aren’t any travel snafus) I should have a post up late on Monday and/or on Tuesday.

In the meantime, I’ve warned everyone at my house to stay out of the backyard.

My daughter is highly allergic to bees so …


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Updates and Follow-Up

I’ll be giving away a variety of photography-related things on my photography page/blog this week.

You can click on the “Photography” tab each day in my navigation bar to see what’s new,

And/or you can subscribe to my photography feed.

Hint:  Today I’m giving away a Sling-O-Matic 10 ThinkTank Camera Bag (valued at over $137)!



You know what’s crazy?

Trying to pull off five blog giveaways in five days, along with spending a morning at the hospital for a CAT scan, taking a cross country trip, having a teenager home from school mid-week, and also fitting in forty bazillion other things!

Who does that?

•  We have big waves here this week.  (The above photo was taken at The Wedge in Newport Beach – a famous surfing spot.)

•  I wanted to let everyone know yesterday’s CAT scan was fine.  I think I have “post eight surgery traumatic medical syndrome.”  I get very anxious having to go into hospitals and/or be in a medical environment now.  It isn’t normal.  If I ever have something seriously wrong with me, I’ll need to get over it (or get a therapist to coax me through medical appointments).

•  The worst part of the test was they needed my bum arm to be up over my head.  It doesn’t go over my head, so they moved it as far as they could.  It sounds like a little thing, but having it stuck pinned up like that was enough to send me into a bad pain flare-up.  It sucks.

•  My husband’s friend, The Best GI Doctor In The World, has already gotten in touch with me to let me know the CAT scan results were good.  My appendix is not planning to burst at the moment, and my bionic implant in my abdomen is not infected.  Whew!

•  I’m so glad I was able to get the results before I take off on my trip.  Of course, they still need to figure out what’s going on but hopefully it’s something minor.

•  I did not pee on anyone yesterday!  (You may have to read yesterday’s post to understand that statement.)

•  A huge swarm of bees showed up on my patio late yesterday and decided to stay until it got dark.  I’ve never had that happen before.  If you have any “getting rid of bee swarm” suggestions, I’d appreciate it.  It was incredible and scary at the same time.  (Do you think they’ll be back today?)

•  I’m sorry I don’t have a more interesting post today, but I’m absolutely exhausted.

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Medical Anxiety

I’ll be giving away a variety of photography-related things on my photography page/blog this week.

You can click on the “Photography” tab each day in my navigation bar to see what’s new,

And/or you can subscribe to my photography feed.

Hint:  Today I’m giving away YOUR CHOICE of one of my gallery prints in a high gloss 8 x 12 float mounted METAL PRINT (valued at over $270)!


I apologize in advance, I’m not myself today ….

Do you ever have days/weeks when you feel like you’re getting bombarded with STUFF?

My head is swirling right now.

I hope you don’t mind if I jot down some of the randomness streaming through my brain –

Sometimes it helps just to write it out.

•  I’m fasting for today’s CAT scan.  It seems archaic to have to fast for a CAT scan.  Isn’t modern technology better than that?  (I can’t have an MRI because I have too much metal in my body.)

•  I’ve been instructed to drink 32 ounces of water an hour before the CAT scan and not pee.

•  Clearly, the radiologist doesn’t understand I’ve given birth to three kids.  I’m absolutely incapable of doing that.

•  I think I was incapable of that even before I gave birth to three children.

•  I wonder how long it takes to get the results of a CAT scan??

•  I’m supposed to fly to the east coast and back in the next week??

•  Have you ever tried to do something nice for the world and been shocked when someone views it with suspicion?

•  Yes, I am naive.

•  Self driving cars are now legal in California.  A Google Car would not have run a stop sign and hit me.

•  Self driving cars pay more attention to what they’re doing than most human drivers do.

•  Fresh rosemary from the garden makes the most wonderful smelling roast chicken.

•  Dr. Painless brought up the concept of further arm/shoulder surgeries yesterday.  It freaked me out.

•  A lot.

•  Of course, I rejected the idea.  I am d-o-n-e with surgeries.

•  I can’t un-hear his words though.  In fact, his words insist on repeating themselves inside my head, over and over again.

•  The mere suggestion sent me reeling.

•  I’m having a lot of medical anxiety this week.

•  Again, I apologize.

•  Hopefully, I’ll be more “together” tomorrow once the #$%&@  CAT scan is behind me.

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National Pain Awareness Month

I’ll be giving away a variety of photography-related things on my photography page/blog this week.

You can click on the “Photography” tab each day in my navigation bar to see what’s new,

And/or you can subscribe to my photography feed.

Hint:  Today I’m giving away ONE copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4!


September is National Pain Awareness Month.

Originally, I didn’t plan to write a post in “honor” of it.

But, as I contemplated meeting with my pain management specialist today, I changed my mind.

I know most of you have followed my story long enough to know I’ve been to the depths of hell pain-wise.

(Several times.)

Most of you already know about the car accident, and about the many surgeries I’ve experienced in the last six years.

You already know I live with day-to-day challenges, and seemingly always will.

I’ve gotten a lot of support from a lot of people the last six years.

I don’t want to whine, “It hurts!” over, and over, and over again.

But guess what?

It hurts.

Over, and over, and over again.

Sometimes the cruelty of people’s words hurts too.

People who don’t “get it” at all.

Are there people in this world who “fake” being in pain for attention or to gain access to prescription drugs?

Yes, there are.

Are there people who embellish the pain they actually feel because they want attention and/or drugs?

Yes, there are.

Are either of these two situations the case for the vast majority of the estimated 75 million Americans living with pain?

No, they’re not.

Most people who live with chronic pain are doing everything they can to strive for a better quality of life.

It isn’t easy.

It’s damn hard.

I really can’t emphasize that enough –

It’s damn hard.

Most people experience pain in their life – usually for a short while.

To live with pain as a companion day in and day out for years is exhausting.

It takes a toll on a person’s body, relationships, work, and demeanor.

I met a very nice woman at the beach the other day.

(Hi Kim!)

A chance encounter turned into a long conversation.

At one point, as she asked about my photography, I mentioned the fact my right arm doesn’t work.

She was surprised.

“I’d never know!” she exclaimed.

I moved my sleeve and her eyes widened as she saw just one of my (many) scars.

This is the thing …

You can see scars, but you can’t SEE pain.

Pain is an invisible demon.

I can’t speak for other people, but I know I do my utmost to appear cheerful and happy and positive even when my pain levels are high.

And yes, there are times when I’m cranky, or bitchy, or quieter than normal because I can’t pull my shit together enough to be otherwise.

My pain doesn’t ever go away.


I’ve put together a couple lists of suggestions for those of you who know someone suffering from chronic pain:

Things you should NOT say to a person living with chronic pain:

•  So-And-So had surgery and was back playing professional football a week later.

•  You get what you put out into the universe.

•  You seem depressed.

•  I know pain; I sprained my ankle once.

•  I work-out to the point of pain.  I know pain.

•  You must have bad karma.

•  No pain, no gain.

•  If you pray, God will take your pain away.  ** Please see the comment I wrote in the comments section of this post about this.  **

•  You can just push through it.

•  You just want attention.

•  Don’t think about it, or you’ll make it worse.

•  Snap out of it!

•  You take pain meds?  You must be addicted!

•  AGAIN??

•  Be grateful – it could be worse.

Suggestions on what to say instead:

•  I’m sorry you have to go through this.

•  If you’d like to talk about it, I’m happy to listen.

•  Is there anything I can do to help you?

•  I’m here for you.

•  I know doing XXXX is difficult for you, I’d like to help.

•  Can I give you a hug, or would that hurt you?

Many times the best thing you can do is just listen.

People living with chronic pain need to be able to talk about what they’re going through so they can preserve their sanity.

I sincerely hope you, and the people you love, don’t ever have to experience chronic never ending pain.

I also hope, in some small way, sharing my experience will make the path a little easier for others.

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Let’s Have a Party!

Woo Hoo!

The long overdue, “Let’s Celebrate Suzanne’s Website Being Done Party” has arrived!

I’ll be giving away a variety of photography-related things on my photography page/blog this week.

You can click on the “Photography” tab each day in my navigation bar to see what’s new,

And/or you can subscribe to my photography feed.

Hint:  Today’s photo feed giveaway may not be sexy, but it’s a helpful item for everyone, not just photographers.

Okay then ….

I have a really busy couple weeks coming up.

It stresses me out even thinking about it.

I took a self-imposed time out over the weekend.

I can forget about everything, except what I’m doing, when I’m working on long exposure beach shots.

It’s nice (rejuvenating!) to get lost in a combination of nature and creativity.

Unfortunately, I never seem to be able to come back from a beach photography trip anything less than a complete sand-covered-soaking-wet-disaster.

On my most recent trip, I had the best of intentions.

An hour into shooting I was sitting on wet sand with my tripod set-up low to the ground.

Not too bad …

After all, what’s a wet, sandy, butt?

But, after awhile I was the only one left on the beach.

It was dark – the “blue hour,” as photographers call it.

I had moved a little closer to the rocks.

The tide had come up.

I still sat on the sand.

The waves occasionally came up to my waist – emerging my tripod and my ass in cold, salty, sandy water.

I barely noticed.  I was absorbed in what I was trying to capture.

It wasn’t until I got up to leave when I realized how MUCH sand those waves had coated me with.

I think I brought a good portion of Newport Beach home in the car with me.

Have I ever mentioned how long it takes to clean photography gear that’s been to the beach (with me)?

Newport Beach:  Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery

It was worth it though.

It was such a beautiful evening.

(Also?  I think I want to live in that house on the cliff!)

P.S.  Don’t forget to stop by my photography page and enter to win some good stuff this week!

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Best Sunset of The Year?

It’s hot here, and still (most definitely) summer despite what the calendar says.

At the end the day yesterday, I decided to spend “just an hour” at the beach with my camera.

In fact, I wasn’t sure I’d even get to the beach in time for sunset and I didn’t really care.

I was pretty certain it was going to be a mediocre sunset.  (I just planned to shoot a couple, long exposure, black and white shots.)

I was wrong about the “mediocre” sunset.

Really, really, wrong.

My brain is still trying to process how incredibly AMAZING the sunset was.

It might have been the “best” sunset I’ve ever seen.

I think it was definitely tops for the year.

I didn’t take a single black and white photo, and I ended up staying at the beach until it was dark.

I took this in Newport Beach, on “Big Corona.”

Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery

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How Important Are Gadgets To Your Life?

**  Woo Hoo!!  Next week will be a fun week!  I’ll be hosting contests and giveaways on my photography page!  Make sure to check in every day or subscribe here!  **

The iPhone 5 begins shipping today.

People are waiting in line, overnight, to be the first to get it.

I like gadgets; I like technology.

My smart-phone has made my life easier and so much more convenient.

(It has also made it much harder to turn “off” work.)

Obviously, I love cameras and lenses too.

(Click Photo to Purchase)

And my laptop.

And my Kindle.

And my husband’s iPad when I occasionally borrow it.

And yet?

I have never understood why people spend the night camping out for a new phone.

(Conversely, I realize many of you probably don’t understand why I take photos with an expensive professional camera instead of a a camera phone.)

I was chomping at the bit to get the Canon 5D Mark III camera when it came out.

I put off getting a full frame camera for over a year, just waiting for the Mark III  to be available.

I guess we all have different gadgets and/or technology we “love.”

My current phone happens to be an iPhone.

It’s two years old, and I’m “eligible” for a new one.

And, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I will get a new iPhone in time.

And I’m sure I’ll like it.

(I’ll especially like the improvements to the camera, of course.)

But, I see no reason to camp out, stand in long lines, or make an event out of getting a new phone.

Almost every new piece of technology has a few bugs when it first hits the market.

I’m perfectly happy waiting awhile for those bugs to be resolved.

Are you a phone fanatic?

What’s your favorite gadget and/or type of technology?

And would you stand in a line for hours/days so you could be the first to have it?

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The Whirlwind In My Brain

Wow – what a week I’ve had.

•  I’ve been asked to be on an advisory committee of a local business.  On Tuesday night they took me out to a wonderful dinner.  It was a great night out.

•  There are so many good things going on in my work-related life right now.  It’s almost difficult to absorb it all.

•  On the other hand, I’m so busy, I’m struggling to keep my head above water.

•  I’ve sold a lot of prints in the last few weeks.  Some have been photos taken at private events.  Many have been the Eye Candy Photos I share with you here and/or on Facebook.

(Muir Woods, San Francisco  —  Click Photo to Purchase)

Side note:  If you want more information about how I took the above photo, you can read about it here.

•  I’m in AWE of how beautiful landscapes/sunsets/eye candy photos come out when printed on metal.  (Metal Prints are different than Metallic Prints which are also beautiful.)  I’m going to add more available sizes/shapes of prints on metal.  They’re gorgeous!  I might purchase one for our house, but I can’t decide which one??

•  Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive of my photography in any way, shape, or form.  I am so grateful to be able to hold a camera again.

•  I PROMISE I will be hosting some contests/giveaways next week.  If it hasn’t been website technical problems, it’s been new window chaos, travel, or a poorly behaved appendix.  I’ve been in a chaotic whirlwind.

•  Just to make sure I don’t get too excited about the positives in life, The Neanderthal ripped my arm to shreds yesterday.  It’s really horrible to go through treatment, but it helps me function.

•  Remind me:  it helps me function!

•  A few of you asked if I need to have my appendix out.  The answer is:  I don’t know yet.  If the CAT scan (still unscheduled) shows any lingering inflammation, then yes.  If my appendix has returned to “normal,” no.  If it suddenly gets worse, yes.  I hope not.

•  On the other hand, the “computer” in my abdomen has been recalled.  If I have to get my appendix out, and if it can be a planned appendectomy (vs. an emergency one), then I will have the computer/bionics removed at the same time.  I’d rather have everything done in one surgery vs. two.

•  Sheesh!  I’m a bionic mess.

•  I don’t want to even think about surgery.

•  If my appendix doesn’t interfere, I’m planning to be in North Carolina at the end of this month, in San Francisco sometime in October, and in Austin in November.

I think I need a day off.

Maybe I’ll grab my camera and disappear for a few hours sometime soon.

Do you ever need a few hours of down time to recharge your batteries?

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File That Under Appendix

On Monday, I took a break from The Big Window Project to make a trip to UCI Medical Center.

I almost cancelled my appointment with my husband’s friend, The Best GI Doctor In The World.

But I didn’t.

I’ve been feeling a lot better since I began taking massive doses of probiotics, but ….


There’s still been this nagging sorta-sharp pain in my abdomen.

Dr. Google has only been confusing me so, “just to be safe” I went to my appointment.

UCI is a teaching hospital.

That meant first I got to meet with a nurse, and then with a “fellow,” and only then with The Best GI Doctor In The World.

I have a hard time being serious with anyone fellows, and fellows are very serious people.

Also, I tend to apologize for being at medical appointments, all the while telling whoever I’m just fine.

This can be confusing to fellows, but The Best GI Doctor In The World (TBGDITW for short) wasn’t as easily fooled.

It isn’t that I’m trying to give misinformation, it’s just that I’ve been through a lot of medical trauma in my life.

I convince myself (and anyone else who asks) I’m FINE, because I really WANT to be fine.

Mr. Fellow seemed okay with the “I’m fine” concept.  He told me I might be overdoing it just a wee bit on the probiotics, but I think that was about it.

(What??  Living on yogurt and kefir and taking fistfuls or probiotic supplements a few times a day is too much??)

The Best GI Doctor In The World has more experience.

He seemed to know I probably would not be taking up his time if I was indeed FINE.

TBGDITW (after greeting me with a hug) looked at me a bit puzzled, as if I’m an especially challenging specimen on his microscope slide.

I do that to people.

I really do.

I look like a nice normal person, but then I open my mouth and talk.

Anyway, TBGDITW asked questions, and then pressed on a spot in my abdomen.

I said, “Ow!”

He nodded his head.

I knew immediately what was going on.

Dr. Google has practically made me a doctor in my own right.

I confidently said, “That’s my right ovary.”

“No, that’s your appendix,” said TBGDITW.


So much for Dr. Google.

I had decided my right ovary was dead or dying from lack of hormones??

But no, I guess not ….

Apparently, an appendix can become inflamed and then calm down and be normal.

But it doesn’t always calm down and become normal, of course.

Sometimes it explodes and kills you.

Sometimes it explodes and TRIES to kill you, but you get saved before it can.

Other times it acts up when you’re in Hawaii on vacation, then calms down when you’re at home working, and then waits awhile as it ponders acting up again.

He thinks that might be what’s going on.

TBGDITW is going to “take a look” at my appendix via a CAT scan whenever UCI can get it scheduled.  (Relatively soon.)

It’s not an emergency because my symptoms have been improving, not getting worse.

But, of course, that could change at any time.

For instance, my appendix might start hurting quite a lot after its been poked and prodded by a doctor.

Of course, TBGDITW will be checking out other things too when he does the CAT scan, just in case.

It turns out there’s a lot of stuff inside us that can cause abdominal pain.

In the meantime, I’ll keep eating a lot of yogurt and taking probiotic supplements.

Also, despite my wise-ass sense of humor,

I’m very grateful The Best GI Doctor In The World took the time to see me (and my appendix).

I realize he’s accustom to taking care of people with much more serious diseases.

He’s a good guy.

I’d definitely want him in my corner if I was facing any of the really horrible diseases he fights.

It’s also comforting to know someone like him is out there taking care of the people who need him.