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When Weekend Plans Fall Apart

My weekend began last Friday afternoon when I came down with a killer sore throat and fever.

By Saturday, I added lots of snot to my Sexy Factor.

Amazingly, I’m perfectly fine now.

(Except I feel like a gigantic marshmallow from sitting around all weekend!)

It was just a slightly-more-than-24-hour bug, I guess.

As a result, my belated birthday plans for Saturday night were cancelled.

This, apparently, is the year I completely skip my 24th birthday.

It is just not meant to be.

I’m raising a white flag.

I officially give up on having a birthday celebration in the year 2012.

I did get a great present, though.

Briefcase didn’t know what to get me for a birthday gift this year so he suggested I “just order something photography-related.”

I was happy to take him up on his offer.

My self-ordered gift arrived just in time for my Sick Weekend.

(Come to think of it, since he left his offer vaguely open-ended, maybe I should have ordered the Canon 1DX instead?  That bill sure would have shocked the hell out of surprised him!)

While I was playing with my new birthday toy, the rest of Orange County was out enjoying a beautiful, spectacular, weekend.

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

I drank tea, gazed longingly at my camera, wiped snot from my nose, and tried to cheer myself up by beginning the process of learning how to use a Wacom Tablet.

(Yes, I really have been the only photographer on earth who wasn’t already using a graphics tablet.)

I’ll write more about my Intuos 5 in time.

For now, I’ll share this:

•  Yes, I am a nerd.  What was your first clue?

•  If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, a graphics tablet is sort of like an iPad except you draw/paint on it.  Nothing shows up on the all black tablet though.  (That’s the confusing part!)  What you draw shows up on your computer instead.  Sort of.  It involves making your hand draw/paint in the correct part of the tablet that corresponds to your computer screen.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

•  People weren’t kidding when they told me there’s a  2 – 3 year week learning curve with a tablet.

•  Eye-hand coordination has taken on a whole new meaning since I began teaching myself how to use it.  (Apparently, I don’t have any?!)

•  Parts of my brain clearly don’t function.  (There’s a reason why Paul Newman tells me I have some of the same needs as a “neuro” patient???)

•  It’s good for our brains to learn new skills, right??

•  In spite of my lack of innate ability, I’m already falling in love.  I wish I had made the purchase sooner.

•  Seriously, this toy is magicaland you know how I love my toys!)

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Very Pretty (!) Long Exposure Beach Sunset!

My technical problems have been resolved.

As promised, I’m now making this long exposure, beach sunset, photo available for purchase.

It’s unusual to make a long exposure right into the sun like this, but I it has been getting a very favorable response.

It was taken in Laguna and it’s titled:

One Thousand Sunsets

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

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Ghosts, Haunted Hotels, Etc.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I kind of like the idea of ghosts, but I can’t say I really believe in them.

Last week, I stayed in the famous, supposedly haunted, Driskill Hotel.

(It’s a beautiful hotel and I highly recommend you pay it a visit if you ever have the opportunity.)

I specifically requested a room with a ghost when I made the reservation.

As a result, I was assigned a room in the old(est) part of the hotel.

Of course, even the older parts of the hotel have been renovated.  My room was beautiful.

After a long day of travel, I unpacked quickly.

I immediately attempted to plug in my many sources of technology (Kindle, phone, laptop) for recharging.

The outlets kept “spitting out” whatever I tried to plug in to them.

I’d like to say it was because the outlets were old/outdated … but they weren’t.

The outlets/electrical are very modern at The Driskill.

I tried three times (several different plugs) and finally, I said out loud:

It’s not funny, stop it!

And guess what?

I tried again, and all the plugs stayed plugged in.

Was a mischievous ghost having fun with me?

I didn’t really think so, but … maybe.

It was, at the very least, odd.

I left a short while later to explore an evening in Austin with my camera.

I returned well after dark, saw nothing strange upon entering my room, and promptly fell asleep.

I was gone all of the following day, and returned to the hotel exhausted on Saturday night.

As soon as I entered the room, I noticed it just felt different.

How do you explain a feeling?

I immediately noticed a few things were out of place.

For example, a small bag of toiletries which I had (absolutely, positively!!) left in the bathroom were on the floor in the far back corner of the closet.


It made no sense at all.

The bag had never been in the closet, or near the closet.

How did it get there?

I looked around the room, and noticed a few other things had been moved.


I found myself wondering if I really was in a “known” ghost room?

I was tired.

I was in quite a bit of pain.

I took a pain pill so I’d have a chance of sleeping.

I didn’t feel at all worried or afraid by the strange things-have-moved-in-the-room occurrence, but I admit my curiosity was peaked.

I had trouble falling asleep (lots of pain!), but eventually I did.

During the night, I woke up a few times hearing a loud, persistent, knocking/banging sound in the corner of my room.

There was nothing there.

I fell back asleep.

The same thing happened again – three times.

I found myself, half asleep, muttering “be quiet” to my empty room.

And then …?

LOUD, KNOCKING, BANGING in the corner of the room.

I fully woke up, sat up in bed … and a thing came out of the wall.

Yes, a THING.

I don’t know what it was.

It did not look like Casper the Ghost, and it did not look like a person.

It was mainly black, but not completely black.

I don’t know what it was – but it DID startle the hell out of me.

And then it seemed to be sucked right back into the wall.

Poof!  It was gone!

The banging stopped, and I “knew” whatever it was wouldn’t be back.

I couldn’t get back to sleep for quite awhile.  (My heart was pounding!)

Did I see a ghost?

I can’t say that I did.

Did something very strange happen?

Yes, most definitely.

I’ve told a few friends about my ghost/haunted experience.

Paul Newman asked if “it” was a girl or a boy.

“I don’t know,” I answered.  “It was a THING.”

“Did it have boobs?” he asked.

(Such a Man Question!  Is it every heterosexual male’s fantasy to have a ghost with boobs show up in their hotel room?)

“No, no boobs.  It was a big THING.”

One of my girlfriends asked me, “Do you think you really saw a ghost, or did you hallucinate because of the pain pill?”

“I did not hallucinate after taking a pain pill,” I assured her.

(Let’s be real here folks, I’m a chronic pain patient – my body is USED to pain meds.)

So, what exactly did happen in my hotel room?

I don’t know.

I honestly, don’t know.

Do YOU believe in ghosts?

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Technical Problems – !


I’m a woman with very little patience for technical problems.

I’m sorry – you can’t buy this photo because my photo site isn’t uploading photos properly right now:

One Thousand Sunsets – Available for Purchase Sometime Soon.  Maybe? 

Isn’t it a pretty photo, though?  (The exposure was 5+ minutes.)

Once my technical problems are fixed, I’ll make it a one click photo.


I spent way too much of my yesterday working on my photo site problem, and I made no progress whatsoever in getting it operable.  Wasted hours = lots of frustration.

As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t had time to write anything for my photography page in the last week.

I’m feeling overwhelmed with stuff to do right now.

So … how about a look inside the randomness of my brain?

•  I have no travel (currently) planned for the rest of 2012.  I’m hoping I’ll get caught up on the many things I’m behind on.  (However, since the holidays are racing towards us – maybe not!)

•  I don’t recommend spending your birthday on planes and in airports.  It sucks.

•  I make incredible pot roast.  And yes, it was 85F yesterday … but cooler weather is on its way.  (Supposedly!)

•  When you have a really sick kid you worry a lot even when they’re legally an adult.  Especially if they’re 3,000 miles away and you can’t assure yourself they’ll be just fine.  (He’ll be fine.)

•  I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year, as usual.  I always love doing it.  But no matter how I try, or how much I coerce my family into helping, it’s a very difficult holiday pain-wise.  Really, the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas puts me over the edge every year, even though I do love holidays.  (And I really love having my family together!)

•  Today I’m getting my haircut AND a bikini wax.  (Two different salons!)  I guess that means I’ve got a hairy day ahead of me?  I feel guilty taking so much time away from work for maintenance, but on the other hand – fuck it.

•  Paul Newman is a good addition to my life.  He’s helping me.  He “gets” me, physically.  (Ahem??)  He’s also highly entertaining.  The two of us together are ADD-ish on steroids.  Our conversations probably hit on a bazillion inappropriate humor topics per every 20 minutes.  Seriously, people would pay for the entertainment if they could listen to us for an hour.

•  Paul Newman watches every thing I do.  Little, itty, bitty, movements.  He distracts me with intellectual conversation.  He doesn’t seem to be paying attention, but he’s actually analyzing every minute movement I make.  Then all of a sudden he’ll say something and I realize there must be a hidden microscope he’s watching me under.  It’s kind of creepy.  It is.  He’s got a hell of a lot of gears moving (all at the same time) in his brain.

•  Someday I should write a book about the various “caregivers” I’ve encountered since the accident.  An Orange County medical tell-all book!  Oh, the things I could share!

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I Voted And I Got A Discounted Shirt

I waited in line for an hour to vote yesterday.

I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes to vote.

A few of the voting machines weren’t working.

It seems odd that our cell phones are more dependable than current voting machines.

After I voted, I went to the mall to run some necessary errands.

(I might be the only woman on earth who hates malls and hates shopping?)

Nonetheless, I was happily surprised when a Gap sales person told me I got a 20% discount off a t-shirt I was buying.


Because she noticed I was wearing an “I Voted” sticker on my cleavage.

Who knew?

P.S.  I’m so glad the election is over.  I’m tired of political ads – and politics, in general!

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More From Austin, Texas

I promise to write about something other than my trip to Texas tomorrow.

Today, however, I’m still going through Austin photos.

Have I mentioned it was hot there?

Apparently not as hot as it’s been the last six months, but hot!

It’s hard to stay hydrated when traveling.  Flying is very dehydrating in itself.

Also, I’m not used to humidity …  I sweat a lot while I was in Texas.

(You wanted to hear the good with the bad, right?)

Carlos, very politely, told me I was “shiny.”

Awhile later, I indicated I might pass out on him if we didn’t find water soon.

He thought I was a total joy to be around.

Shiny and demanding!

I decided to use my fisheye a lot on this trip.  (It’s more of a city lens than a seascape lens.)

Here’s a look at our photowalk group towards the beginning of the day.

More people joined us along the way.

It’s so fun to be around other people, of all levels, who share a passion for photography.

(I wish Orange County had a more active photography community.  Sigh ….)

I always love having the opportunity to shoot in a city.

I get a chance to photograph so many things I don’t see every day at home.

Downtown Austin, Texas

Downtown Austin:  Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

For instance, tall buildings are awesome.  (Lines!  Windows!  Arches!  Fun!)

Also, Orange County is very modern and new.

In Austin, I found old mixed with new.

There’s affluence and poverty just a few feet apart.

Taken in East Austin:  Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I also had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people.

Austin has no shortage of interesting people.

No one seemed to mind me photographing them either.

I loved it!

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Adventures in Austin, Texas

My trip to Austin, was very interesting.

It was a lot of travel for a three day period.

I always underestimate how tiring sitting on planes/in airports can be.

(It didn’t help I had a terrible pain flare-up the night before I left.  I got NO sleep Thursday night, and then left for the airport Friday morning.)

There should be a rule somewhere in the universe stating you must BE in a city/location for at least twice as long as it takes you to travel there and back.

Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?

After a very long day, I arrived in Austin early Friday evening.

I was excited to be staying at the famous Driskill Hotel.

The Driskill is such a treat.

It’s so rich in history – it’s just an amazing place.

I could have, happily, spent my entire way-too-short trip just photographing details of the hotel.

The hotel is supposedly haunted.

I requested a room with a ghost, so I was put in “the old historic” part of the hotel.

Did I see a ghost?

I’m not sure ….

Did a few weird things happen?

Yes, they did.

I chalked it up to the fact the hotel is old (built in 1886), but maybe –

Just maybe, I had a mischievous ghost in my room.

Friday night, I walked around Austin a lot just to get a feel for my surroundings.

6th Street is a popular hangout spot for local college kids and music enthusiasts.

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

I walked (and walked and walked).  I talked to lots of people I didn’t know.  I took photos, and eventually I returned to The Driskill.

The next morning I met up with Markus Spiering (from Flickr) and many Austin/Texas based photographers for a photo walk.

Photo by Bill McNeill

Didn’t Bill do a GREAT job taking this pano shot of our very large group?  He’s awesome!

(I’ll share more about the photo walk in a separate post.)

After the walk was over, a lot of us went to a restaurant for beer lunch.

A new friend, named Carlos Austin, offered to tour me around more of Austin in the afternoon.

(My afternoon with Carlos also deserves a post of its own – we saw some amazing stuff!)

The end of the day found us in the popular SoCo (South Congress) area enjoying a margarita or two.

Those of you who are celebrity stalkers might find it interesting to hear Val Kilmer was seated behind me at the restaurant.

Afterwards, Carlos and I ran down the middle of (very busy!) Congress Street trying to get a good shot of the setting sun as it lit up downtown.

It’s pretty amazing we weren’t hit by a car or arrested.

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

Eventually, night began to fall.

Exhaustion from a whirlwind two days set in.

I thanked Carlos for being an awesome tour guide and returned to my haunted hotel.

Sadly, most of Sunday was spent on my return trip to California.

P.S.  Within my first two hours of being back home, my dog barfed three times.  My life is magical, isn’t it?

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Austin, Texas and Haunted Hotels

I’m away today, but I’ll be back on Monday.

Hopefully, I’ll come back with a few good shots and maybe even a story about my “haunted” hotel.


P.P.S.  I’m 24 again!  How amazing is that?!

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Glimpses of Me

Oops – if  you’re a subscribed reader, you might have received a partial feed of this post yesterday.


Because I had a technical problem called – human error on my part.

My apologies!


Have I shown you the cool photo I took at LAX airport last time I was there?

I was exhausted from flying back from North Carolina.  (Flapping my arms for all those hours is very tiring!)

I stopped on a bridge/overpass … overwhelmed with luggage and crap.

Still, I know a good photo when I see one so I threw everything on the ground long enough to take a shot.

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

•  Yesterday, prior to the arrival of trick-or-treaters, I attempted to put a candle inside our jack o’lantern.

I noticed the jack o’lantern was filled with mold.

(Not just a little mold.)

The jack o’lantern was filled with big massive, VERY HAIRY, green, ALIVE AND WANTING TO GRAB ME mold.

I pondered this horrifying situation for a minute.

Then, I had the following email exchange with Briefcase:

24:  You need to come home early.  We have a crisis!!!  The pumpkin has mold growing in it and I’m afraid to put my hand in it to put a candle in there!  : )

Briefcase: Mold is good for you – that is where penicillin comes from!

I didn’t bother to respond.

Men are just so different from women – why bother to try and educate them to the horrors of LONG-HAIRED-HAIRY mold?

Instead, I eyed the now-scary jack o’lantern for the remainder of the day in case the mold leaped out of it and chased me down.

•  The Torturer didn’t like making eye contact with me when he was doing stuff to me.  Paul Newman prefers eye contact.  It takes all kind of men, doesn’t it?  (I can’t help but compare the two of them.)

•  Paul Newman has promised he won’t abandon me.  The fact we’ve discussed my deep PT abandonment issues, tells you a lot about my emotional scars.

•  The Torturer texted me with birthday wishes this week.  That was very nice of him.

•  I am realizing now, my arm/upper body has not gotten the care I needed for the last two and a half years since The Torturer Debacle.  Some of the intermittent treatment has helped me to function day to day, but it’s very evident my body/my injuries need more.  A part of me wonders how different life would have been if I hadn’t had such an abrupt end to my treatment with The Torturer.  Would I be “cured” by now?  I think I definitely would be functioning at a higher level.

•  Paul Newman is very, very, good at what he does.  The man really knows his shit and he “gets” my physical injuries probably better than anyone ever has.  Every woman needs a man who understands her body, right?  (Gawd, I hope he isn’t reading 24 today – there’s not a man on earth who needs a bigger ego!)

•  Never tell a PT you felt “great” after your last treatment.  He will immediately think he went too easy on you and make sure you never say those words again.

•  I’m learning to push down with my right hand/arm.  Yes, I do need to re-learn the most basic of things.  It’s very frustrating and SLOW.  I have no patience with my own ineptitude.  None.  How can such simple things be so damn hard?

•  I think I’ve turned into a grown up.  I don’t like Halloween candy.  If I’m going to splurge on something sweet, I’d rather have a bite of high quality chocolate vs. Halloween candy.

•  I have crazy, mad, skills at turning almost any statement into an inappropriate sexual innuendo.  I don’t know why none of my teachers ever appreciated my gift when I was growing up?

•  I’m staying in a (supposedly real) haunted hotel during my Austin trip.  When I made my hotel reservation they asked if there were “any amenities” I’d like to request in my room for my arrival.  I asked if I could get a room with a ghost.  They laughed.  I wasn’t joking.  What could be more fun than spending a night with a ghost and possibly capturing him-her-it on camera?

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Halloween – Orange County Style

Happy Halloween!

Where did the month of October go?

I love seeing how people decorate their homes for Halloween.

People go all out with decorations on Balboa Island in Newport Beach.

It’s fun to walk along the boardwalk and look at all the houses and decorations.

(BTW rides will be free on the Balboa Fun Zone Ferris Wheel from 4-8 pm today/tonight as long as you’re in a costume.  How fun would it be to hang out there for awhile and then take the ferry over to the island for an hour or two?)

I snapped a few Balboa Island/Halloween photos recently so I could share them with you.

Some of the Balboa residents have clearly spent too much time partying in the sun.

See what happens if you spend day after day drinking tropical cocktails on your beach house porch?

A lot of the docks are also spruced up this time of year.

It makes me want a dock.

(I would probably spend way too much time making it look festive.)

Speaking of the island boardwalk –

You never know what might show up as you take a walk.

As long as nothing reaches out and grabs me, I’m okay with it.

I bought some really pretty orange marigolds for my front porch this year.

They’re nestled with several pumpkins and one jack-o-lantern.

Walking around Balboa Island made me feel like an inadequate Halloween decorator.

Even simple decorations look cute on the island.

Why is that?

Does everything seem cuter when you’re in a beachy, island, environment?

Of course, some of the decorations I saw weren’t at all simple.

I want to trick-or-treat at the above house.

I wonder if they’d mind having an adult show up?