Posted in vacation


Today is the last day of my Hawaii vacation. Sadly I must board a plane tomorrow and return home. In some ways, I look forward to it. I have a great job and great friends and coworkers. I’m also looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

I have much to share, which will likely happen on the weekend, when I hope jet lag is finished kicking my butt. I have had quite the adventure and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to visit Hawaii!


Posted in photography, travel, vacation


Vacations are a doorway to an alternate reality, at least they are for me.  Vacations are a glimpse of what my life could be like if I could ever woke up and was a (paid) creatively-driven photojournalist or had married a younger, more chiseled (former navy seal or hot photojournalist) clone of Rick Steves or someone who works for him. For 7-10 days or so, I get to live that fantasy, traveling via plane or car hopping from city to city, gratefully accepting the hospitality of others so I can live at least as a creatively-driven traveling  photographer, even for a short time.

Morning fisherman, Hermosa Beach, CA
I photographed nearly everything I could.  I practiced my street photography, I took postcard-esque photos, I recorded events and places, and I shot my life as it was happening.  I was so relaxed and content and just soaked in all the different things, places and people as much as I could.
Murphys, CA
It’s strange what goes through my head when I see what most would ignore as plain or mundane. For example, the above shutter was a random object that I couldn’t walk past until I took this picture.  It turned out better than I had imagined.  I will look at this picture and I will think of that tiny town and the slow pace.

I came back Sunday and was attacked by a thick coating of pollen, quite a bit of which came from this tree:

The pollen-related headache and opening the door and walking back into my apartment quickly snapped me back to reality, the reality where I work a day job, I pay have and pay bills, and photography is just a hobby (and I’m not married to a chiseled former navy seal traveling photojournalist).  I cherish each vacation I get, because the alternate reality helps me enjoy my current reality, but not only that, those short bursts of alternate reality show me that life is possible and maybe not as far out of my reach as I think.

The reality of vacations is just a preview for my retirement into full time photography, whatever that looks like.

Here are some other random photos from the trip.  Will post more later.
Candy Store in Murphys, CA
Sidewalk Snail, Hermosa Beach, CA
Near Rancho Palo Verde, CA
 Near Rancho Palo Verde, CA
Near Rancho Palo Verde, CA
Posted in vacation, Yahweh's fingerprints


Many people are not just assessing this past year, they are pondering the ending of the first decade of this century.  While I can see the value of re-evaluating and seeing how far we’ve come as a people or even on a personal level, I can’t seem to get myself into the mood to look backward, or even into my rearview mirror.

All I can seem to do right now is look forward.

I’ve been off work since Christmas Eve, which has been wonderful.  It’s been over two years since have had this much time off and nearly a year since I’ve been off for more than a long weekend.  It’s taken until yesterday to truly feel myself relax.  I went to a movie (Avatar in 3D) and then I drove around to a couple of stores and looked at furniture (which I’ve had very little time or energy to do).

I’ve been sitting on the floor or in a camp chair since I moved last April.  I decided that I would never buy furniture if I didn’t let go of the old, broken, uncomfortable items first.  I never dreamed it would be eight months later that I would have an actual chair to sit in, but here I am, in this beautiful, comfortable chair.

Granted, my tastes are not necessarily wholesale, discount, but my checkbook right now is.  I went first to Danish Impressions to let myself dream of what one day my living room will look like, then I drove to TABS and walked the whole store before I found this leather recliner.  It was already discounted, on sale, and they took an additional 20% off.  I couldn’t believe the price (about $200 less than I had budgeted for) and the salesman delivered it himself when he got off work so I wouldn’t have to pay a hefty delivery charge (TABS is less than a mile from my place).

I was feeling pretty good about the whole deal when I went to talk to E & C in my apartment complex’s management office.  I asked about how much my rent would go up (I got in here on a very generous deal last spring) and E said that they had decided all rents would stay the same (and would even for my very generous deal). 

I started crying and if you know me, I have always been uncomfortable with my tears.  Usually, if I’m crying, I’m angry, and most often with myself.  Then I grabbed E and hugged her (twice).  I had been contemplating moving again if the rent went up too high and now, through even more generosity from strangers, I can stay in this apartment that I really, really like…and I can do so without sitting on the floor.

After my chair was delivered, I sat in it and cried some more, completely overwhelmed by God’s provision, and grateful beyond words.  I have been mocked, belittled and teased for my decision to get rid of my old furniture and not run out and buy new items (with money I don’t have) by people who either have more cash than they can spend, or who choose to live shackled by debt (and I have tried that route and it is not a good way to live!).  One even said they wouldn’t come over and visit me until I had furniture.  These people do not understand how far I’ve come in how I respect money, and/or they don’t comprehend the concept of waiting on God for anything, and I have a feeling my chair will not be good enough for them because there is only one.  That’s ok.  They can kiss my… floor pillows.

To the people who came over and enjoyed my company and hospitality while sitting on cushions on the floor, you can take turns sitting in this comfy chair.  I know you rejoice with me and my blessings, because you loved me before, when I had very little, and you will remind me if I forget how blessed I am.  To you, I am so very grateful for you friendship and support.

A friend reminded me recently that I have to let go of what I was to be anything else in the future and she’s right.   I remember what I let go of to have what I have now, and as I nearly fell asleep in this chair last night, I thought of all the things I want to do and hope to be and began to visualize what I must let go of in order to become what I know I can be.

I don’t make resolutions, but this I know, change is coming, and I will not fight it if I can help it.  I’m up to my neck in water borne outside of my comfort zone and I need to just lift my legs and go with the flow and see where I go. 

Posted in pop culture, random, vacation


The following story was born because of a movie buff named Greg. He’s my friend Sharon’s uncle, and while we were at his house in Felton, he handed Sharon’s husband, Thomas, a DVD of The Magnificent Seven and told him he HAD to see it. In fact, he asked Thomas to write a report on it. Sharon, Thomas and I were discussing this proposed report and decided that Uncle Greg would get his report – but it wouldn’t be what he expected.

Thomas watched the movie while I was in San Francisco. When I got back, he and Sharon were discussing the proposed movie report/review and Sharon thought we should spin it a bit. In Thomas’ job, he experiences people who live in an alternate reality in their minds, so as we talked, The Magnificent Seven started to take on a whole new personality.

After I got back from vacay and my brain had time to rest, the following is what I came up with for Uncle Greg’s report/review. Keep in mind I’ve still yet to see the film in its entirety, and any similarities to the actual movie are not really… all that intentional.

The Magnificent Seven, the real story.


Chris Adams has a problem. His life as a bicycle cop in Monterey has him bored to tears. So, on the advice of his boss, Chief Calvera, Chris decides to go on vacation to spice up his life a little. While relaxing in a little village in Mexico, Chris goes into a coma after he goes horseback riding and gets bucked off his horse.


Our story begins when Chris wakes up in a tiny village in old Mexico… the old Mexico full of cheesy costumes, bad Spanish accents and classic cowboy lines like, “We deal in lead, my friend.” The villagers insist that the infamous bandit Calvera, who has continually raided their village of peasant means, will be back to finish the job and they beg Chris to help them.

Chris, a big hearted, bald, chain-smoking bicycle cop, now hidden beneath black Old West clothing and a tough as nails demeanor, believes he is dreaming, back in the sanitarium, or at worst, in purgatory, but he decides to help the villagers. Chris walks the town in search of help from the villagers, but he soon realizes he is in a town full of pacifists and will have to call on some old friends to help him defeat Calvera.

Chris, now off his schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder medication since he is in old Mexico where those medications haven’t been invented yet, calls upon the voices in his head for help, voices he hasn’t heard in years.

“We need a Personality Posse,” Chris muses.

The first personality to resurface is Chico, who apparently likes math and is from Chris’ left brain. “This is the kind of arithmetic I like,” Chico has been known to say. Chris could never really trust Chico, so he sends him on his way. Chico, however, is persistent, and lurks in Chris’ mind just out of his consciousness, until Chris finally decides to activate him and allow him to join in the plans to defeat Calvera. Chico also represents Chris’ libido, as he is constantly distracted by a peasant woman named Petra.

Next, Chris’ bff personality Harry Luck resurfaces. Harry’s Achilles heel is greed, and he believes Chris is going to get rich off this venture, so he’s all in.

After Harry starts dreaming of counting his pesos, Vin pops back into Chris’ consciousness. Vin, who looks remarkably like a badly made Steve McQueen clone, represents Chris’ addictive personality, as he has just gone bankrupt from his gambling addiction. Since Harry believes he’s going to get some money taking down Calvera, Vin can’t help but tag along.

Chris searches his mind for the worst of his deeply hidden, splintered personalities. He chooses Bernardo O’Reilly, who needs money as much as Harry and Vin do, but in O’Reilly’s own mind, he’s just an eccentric millionaire who likes to chop wood and he takes the job for kicks.

Chris also calls on Britt, who is lightning quick and likes shiny things, particularly switchblades. Britt also has an affinity for Schlitz beer. Finally, Chris allows Lee to join the posse. Lee has a pretty face, but is on the run from the law because, as he proudly boasts, he has no living enemies.

Chris believes that seven is a good number of voices to listen to, and seven isn’t necessarily a crowd, so he and his newly formed Personality Posse ride to the next village and buy some guns and ammo from the great great grandfather of a future arms dealer. They return to the village to make good on Chris’ promise to help.

Chris, and alternately, the Personality Posse, train the villagers in early era peasant guerilla warfare. Chico keeps getting distracted by Petra, and the villagers don’t seem to notice or care that Chris talks to himself quite often.

Calvera returns to the village and gets in quite a snit over the villagers hiring Chris to train them in early era peasant guerilla warfare. Calvera leaves the village, but Chico wanders off and discovers that Calvera has plans to teach the peasant villagers a lesson.

Chris and the Personality Posse debate over whether they should leave the village and chalk the failure up to lessons learned. Vin isn’t sure they should honor their contract, but Chris and a majority of the Personality Posse overrule him, reasoning that since they’ve gotten the villagers all riled up with a heightened sense of self esteem and a desire to lay down their lives for freedom, they should stay and fight.

An anonymous member of the Personality Posse decides to make a preemptive strike on Calvera’s camp and off they go. Unfortunately, they have a “d’oh!” moment because Calvera isn’t there. He has already made it back to the tiny town and conquered the villagers, who cannot carry out early era peasant guerilla warfare on their own.

Chris and the Personality Posse return to the village and stare down Calvera, but Chris blinks. Calvera, feeling slightly intimidated by the crazy American who argues with himself, takes Chris’ guns and banishes him from the village.

The Personality Posse is outraged and forces Chris to return to the village the next morning to show Calvera who’s boss… all, except Harry, who is counting his pesos and decides to sit this one out.

During the heat of battle, Harry feels a little bit like a git for leaving Chris and the rest of the Personality Posse in the lurch, so he goes back to help out and ends up getting killed. Of course, an extra personality, when it is killed in the mind, can never resurface in reality.

O’Reilly, who earlier had given a rousing speech to some villager children of how brave their parents really are, dies saving the urchins. Lee and Britt also die in the battle, proving that lightning speed isn’t always quick enough and that living enemies can really be annoying.

The villagers are inspired by the bravery and sacrifice shown by the Personality Posse and suddenly they have a total recall of their early era peasant guerilla warfare training and start throwing chairs, rocks, axes, sticks, and whatever they can find at Calvera and his men.

Chris finally shoots Calvera. Calvera wonders, as he lay dying, why an American who mumbles to himself would help a bunch of Mexican peasant villagers, but dies before he can have the epiphany.

After the dust settles in the village, all that remains of the Personality Posse are Chico and Vin. Chris is feeling rather lonely as only two voices are heard in his head and he isn’t used to the echo. Unfortunately for Chris, Chico, who has long been distracted by Petra, decides to stay behind with her in the village and start a family. Chico retreats to the far recesses of Chris’ brain, and is never heard from again. Now, Chris is left with Vin.

Chris and Vin ride out to the cemetery to pay tribute to the rest of the Personality Posse. Chris stares at the graves stoically, knowing he will never hear from them again.

Chris says to himselves, “Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.” Vin, thinking that defeating Calvera was definitely a win decides that Chris is too pessimistic for his own good, and decides banishment to Chris’ grey matter is a better option than listening to Chris’ negativity, so he disappears into the recesses of Chris’ mind and renders himself mute.

Chris finds himself alone again… without the aid of medication. This notion frightens him so much, he awakens abruptly from his coma. He decides to leave the hospital and enjoys the rest of his vacation on the beach at Cabo, watching local children make sand castles with their imaginary friends.


Posted in random, vacation


Today was a “down” day, a “do nothing” day. After arriving back from California on Monday, Tuesday morning I was back at work and I hit the ground running. Thursday and Friday the store was immersed in year-end inventory, and by Friday night, I was worn out.

So I woke up about 9 this morning with the intention of not doing a whole heck of a lot. My intentions went downhill quickly.

My allergies have been bad since I came back to Houston, so I decided to try to clean my room and “de-dust” it.

I took down the curtains from my “wall” that hides my shelving units in my room to wash. Then I washed my sheets, rugs from the bathroom, and my regular laundry. I vacuumed the entire apartment and used my “shark” vac to hit the lamp shades, blinds, sheers, and other dust target areas. I also cleaned my bathroom and worked on a “movie” of my vacation.

Not bad for doing “nothing.” ha ha

And of course, since one of my nicknames is GRACE and I didn’t have any weird accidents during my vacation, today I totally made up for it. At some point during the cleaning frenzy, I managed to turn a burner on in the kitchen. We have a gas stove and I’ve been uber paranoid about it since we moved in, so normally, I find myself checking the dials whenever I’m near it. I don’t know when I turned it on, but I was vacuuming down the hall and smelled gas. I thought it was the dryer, but as I rounded the corner I saw the back burner aflame (and not just a little aflame, either). I still don’t know when I bumped the dial on the stove, but I’ll definitely be more careful as I vacuum the kitchen next time.

Also, since I’ve been back, it’s rained EVERY day, and it rained every day while I was gone. It’s incredibly humid and green here. Such a drastic change from my vacay.

Speaking of vacay, besides working on the movie, I scanned all my brochures and my fortunes from all the fortune cookies I had while I was gone. I laughed, as most of these were apropos for my trip. For example:

When I got this one, I laughed. Now that I’m through with inventory at work and have time to reflect on this trip, I know this one will play itself out. It may be all in my mind, but I feel different and I look forward to the next phase of my great transformation.

More on that later…

Posted in vacation


Because of a big storm in Texas, we had to take a more Northern route to go around it. I saw Utah and parts of Colorado on my way home. The ride got a little bumpy about an hour out of Houston, but we made it without incident.

I noticed the jump in humidity immediately. My hair went frizzy and my clothes were sticking to me and that was while I was still inside the airport. lol

I’m chilling now, getting everything ready for a smooth transition for the return to work tomorrow.

For some reason… I’m a little tired, but grateful for a wonderful trip!

Posted in vacation


Yesterday we drove over to Yosemite, about 2 hours East. We entered the park just before nine in the morning and left just beore nine in the evening. It was a glorious day, filled with the most breathtaking scenery and fun. We started off in Yosemite Valley and then drove up to Tioga Pass, through to Mono Lake, then back through Tioga Pass, then home.

Some scenery:

Tenaya Lake

Half Dome from Olmstead Point

Tuolomne Meadows

Mono Lake

It was a long day, but it was quite enjoyable. There’s so much to do at Yosemite, that even a week wouldn’t do it justice, but I feel honored to be able to have even seen as much as I did. It is a rare moment that nature brings me to tears, but after we passed through Tioga pass, the scenery was so breathtaking, I found myself teared up and thanking God for allowing me this beautiful day to learn to appreciate all He’s made for us to enjoy.

Tomorrow, I’ll get on the plane at noon California time and be back in Houston by 6 PM. I will be sad to go, but grateful for this opportunity to see family and friends and spend time in nature (which I love, but never seem to find the time to do).

I will be back to work on Tuesday, tired, but happy.