Snow Day!

Not really, I did mean to get up early to catch the sunrise on the top of Mt. Diablo, that just didn’t happen.  The alarm went off at 6:30a, I had to tell Alexa twice to turn it off before I woke up at 7:30a.  Another reason I’ll never be a great photographer, I can’t wake up to greet the day anymore.  For ten years I’d wake up at 4:30a for work then rowing, I never want to see a “4” and an “a” together ever again.

I’ll wait for the sunset, or maybe head out today some time and get some shots?  I’m sure my neighbors appreciate I slept in and didn’t wake them up with my drone at sunrise.

Otherwise, I’m just doing my own thing again today, still nursing my tailbone bruise/fracture.  This really took me down again, it’s been over a week now and not feeling any better.  I hate complaining about health stuff, it makes me feel 100 years old, it’s just that I was really hoping to get back on track with getting in shape.  That week was looking good with the swimming & skiing, then this.  I’ll walk a few miles to crawl to the fridge for icy/hot & heating pads.

Forget about bike riding, yoga, swimming…perhaps I should actually go to the Dr.??  IDK??  Last time I went was when my heart actually hurt after the smoke and they didn’t whip out the stethoscope, which seems to me to be Dr. 101??  Plus there’s nothing they can do about it besides tell me to do what I’m already doing.

On the “where to live” front, still up in the air.  I found the cutest place in Pacific Grove, a place I love to go.  One thing’s for sure after all this snow, glad I didn’t go for Tahoe!  I don’t know if I could handle being injured and not being able to dig myself out of a condo or dig my car out all week.  There’s hunkering down, then there’s hunkering down with no cable or internet for days…that would be the worst part!!  One storm a few years knocked it all out, my son was with me, we looked at each other and said, “We’re out of here!”  We drove back to Walnut Creek before the roads closed.

We looked at this awesome place in Pt. Richmond that had a dock in front of it.  For that we’d have to sell our house, which I’m just not ready to do yet.  Tick tock on my life choices and not doing anything about it.  Again, I’m the only one up for a change of scenery after living here for 27 years.  My son and his wife love it here, the only way they can afford to stay is if we keep the house.

As cool as the Pt. Richmond house was, it’s not a “destination” like Pacific Grove.  I would never say, “Hey, let’s go to Pt. Richmond for the weekend!”  That Pacific Grove house had a separate unit for guests or a little artist studio for myself (I know, I still consider myself somewhat of an artist).  I still have all these dreams, when in reality I’ll probably have to move back to Manhattan Beach and take care of my mom so she can stay home (there might be cats involved).

 

 

Camera Ready

The problem with getting older and being a half-ass photographer is that to keep up you have to upgrade your equipment every few years.  I upgraded a few months ago to a Sony a7ii with a 28-70mm lens.  It was a package deal from Mike’s camera last November, it’s replacing a Sony Nex5 I’ve been using for the past 5 or so years.  I bought both cameras from Mike’s, there are a lot of advantages to still buying from a camera store – one is the classes and ongoing support for the camera.

I bought a nice camera for my son once from Best Buy as a graduation present, the guy practically spit into the lens to clean it as we watched in horror.

Last night I went to a Sony seminar at Mike’s to learn a little more about the camera.  I’m very familiar with cameras, not above going to find out what new features I might be missing and a few tips.  One of them being that I’ve been cleaning the sensors wrong, I’ve been laying the camera down flat and blowing into it so the dust can just go right back in.  It’s little tips like that I go for.  I’ve taken many photography classes, it’s amazing how much I forget and how obsolete my college classes are.

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Darkroom class 1997??

My first camera was a Pentax K-1000 my parents gave me for my 16th birthday in 1978 (photos above are from Manhattan Beach, 1978).  Sadly, between my boys that camera has been lost 😦  I used that camera up until my youngest was crawling around in 1998, then I switched to my first digital camera that was about $1,000 with 500k of memory.  You had to anticipate the shot, once you held down the shutter it was almost a minute before the camera actually took the picture.  By that time my boys were on swim team,  I switched the slide shows to all digital for swim team and Junior League those years.  I still have pictures of every kid in Walnut Creek, now 25 year olds.  I remember someone saying they thought digital would never catch on, there’s always a naysayer.  I was all over it!

This only shows pics, the songs were copyrighted:

Then I got an ill-fated job with the Contra Costa Times as a contracted out photographer and bought a Minolta something or other.  Honestly, I didn’t do much research on it, I took the advice from a guy at our office who is really into cameras.  I had to cancel a job at 5am due to spending the night in the emergency room with my husband, who severed something in his knee the night before playing volleyball.  It was a 3 day shoot, luckily I was not the main photographer, but I had a babysitter lined up all weekend for it.  Not surprisingly, I never got a call back for work again.  I also quit Junior League, he was down for months with surgery and couldn’t drive.

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Quitting Junior League was interesting, not sure if they knew why I had to quit but not one person called to see if I needed help or if we were OK? I petitioned to become a sustainer, that was a no.  When I bought my Sony Nex5 I was in that class at Mike’s camera coincidentally with a woman who was a big sustainer, she recognized my name.  She thanked me that night on upgrading JL to all digital, gave me all the credit for making them cutting edge in technology at that time.  That was nice, especially because the end seemed so, “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

Then came the iPhone cameras which gave photography a whole new twist, making virtually everyone a photographer.  Somewhere in that time we got a Cannon Rebel digital, replacing a film Cannon my husband had.  When the cameras on the iPhones got decent, you have a camera with you at all times.  I have no problem whipping out my iPhone for pictures, it’s so convenient.  People who know nothing about photography starting getting awesome shots, those selfies look better than posed shots a lot of times.  With FB and Instagram photography blew up (good & bad, kind of killed writing & photography for a living in general).

Below is Golden Gate with my iPhone, Hawaii sunset w/ Sony Nex5 & looking out from Manhattan Beach Pier Marine lab with the new Sony:

I still like to have a nice camera though, and a drone for fun.  I was using the drones for work before we hired two 25 year olds to replace me.  Now I use it for fun, it’s a whole new world in photography and technology that’s fun for me.

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3D with images on the left to practice AutoDesk Recap 360, a few hundred images.

This one is with the drone, about 800 pictures I did years ago when drones still crashed & flew away.  The drone technology has advanced to just pressing the button, instead of crossing your fingers as your pre-flight routine.

Not sure if I’m losing my “eye” as  I age or if people are just so damn good at it now!  On my Instagram (@hellereng) I’ve had several known photographers follow me and I’m super flattered.

Glad there are still some actual camera stores around, many are gone.  Camera and book stores used to be my favorite places to go and browse around, I miss that.  Amazon is bringing the books stores back, after they made a clean sweep to make sure there are no Barnes & Noble competition (Which is fine by me, B&N wiped out small books stores first).  Time marches on, still trying to stay cutting edge if at all possible.

The Featured image is of Lou Silva & Rob Ryan from a volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach when we were teens in 1978.  They have both passed on, can’t believe I got this shot.

Where to live??

Still nursing a bruised tailbone from my Tahoe trip, it’s such a bummer!!  Every time I feel good to go, something happens to disrupt my flow (or bum my high).  At least it wasn’t my back again, that takes me out for months.  My truck is pretty much the only car that’s comfortable at least, I went to dinner with some childhood friends then drove back home.

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A little overboard on the Photoshop??  Donner Lake

I’ve looked at houses in Tahoe before, thinking that wouldn’t be a bad place to retire?  My husband doesn’t share that dream, last time I went up to look at just condo’s I stopped short when he said he doesn’t envision himself up there.  It’s true, I’m the one who goes up all the time and I haven’t actually skied the past few years with all the life events that have been in the way.  Getting a place up there without being able to actually ski would be a real bummer!!  One of the times my back went was after skiing, cleaning the cabin, then driving home – Thank God I was home!!  I plugged something in, down I went for at least a week of not being able to move.

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No filters – Donner Lake

One thing I’m not is a good cook, there are no good restaurants up there either.  I went to El Toro Bravo in Truckee for the worst Mexican food ever, I needed a steak knife for my tortilla it was so stale.  How do you screw up a cheese enchilada?  I found out.

When I got back to my full house, with a dirty kitchen waiting for mom to come home and clean, I wanted to cry.  I’d like just once to leave a clean kitchen, go downstairs 10 min later and not find a knife on the counter with crumbs all over the place.  Just to re-cap, my son and his wife with their dog are living with us.

Manhattan Beach is not within financial reach, besides, the new MB is not my scene.

When I got home I zillowed places in Monterey, found a cute place & hopped in the car yesterday to check out open houses.  The first one was the one we liked the most.  It’s small, walking distance from everything.  It’s a historical house that has been updated, some of those houses have not been updated at all.  We checked out a really small house in Pacific Grove that was about the size of the boat, the agent recommended we go to another house we might like.  YIKES!!  It was a mish-mosh of bad additions, the tour ended when I opened a closet emitting a smell of what I think was a dead body in there for 50 years.  I ran out, pissed at the realtor that suggested we even go there.

The other houses we checked out were very similar to the houses of MB past, little beach houses on small lots that were probably the same builder?  Most of those houses in MB are gone, torn down for some gross display of wealth.  There was always money in MB, the difference now is that people used to actually own their houses.  The only difference between Pacific Grove and MB is warm water, the water up here is freezing!!  Still, not cheap anywhere in CA regardless.

Walnut Creek was perfect to raise my boys, have a business, etc..  What I don’t want to do is what my IL’s did, move to a remote place that’s hard to get to.  They retired to Ojai, not close to any major hospital, airport or walking distance from anything.  Even in MB, the specialists are all in downtown LA which isn’t an easy drive for my mom.  It’s at least close to LAX.  In WC I can walk to Kaiser if I need to, that’s a big bonus.

Who knows??  I’ve been gone most of January, whenever I go through a place I wonder if I could live there?  Besides college, I’ve only lived in suburbia, it would be fun to switch things up a bit since I’m not tied to a school district, school schedule or work schedule.  We were joking I could work at that Pacific Grove golf course for Coursco again.  I worked at the golf course here for 7 years, I’m sure they’d recommend me.  Or I could just write in that cool coffee shop all day after paddle boarding…

Injured in Tahoe

Alright universe, walking it is!!  I keep trying to do the things I used to do, pretty well I might add, and get nailed by some random fall or something taking me out again.  I was on a roll!  I swam some laps the other day, was feeling good about taking things slow to build up my endurance, now this :(.

OK, there are worse places to be (and worse injuries) but I was really looking forward to downhill skiing for the first time in about 3 years.

Oh, I should probably mention that it’s just a bruised tailbone – I’m not in traction or anything a few months of advil won’t cure.  3 years ago I did a condo ski lease and was practically living up here to knock “ski bum” off my bucket list.  I’d work in the mornings, then hit the slopes after lunch with my season pass.  One sport I hadn’t tried was XC skiing, there’s a really nice place up in Tahoe-Donner where I thought I’d go ahead and try it.  At first I was like, “This is boring!”  The next day I was totally sore and had such a good workout from it, I went all in.

My feet just can’t handle ski boots all day anymore, I did get a ton of skiing in that year with my mid-week passes.  It was lonely though without my boys, we used to come up here all the time.  At Sugar Bowl I skied one day with this guy who had a house in Bisbee, we were on the lift together and I can’t remember how it came up?  But we skied together the rest of the day.  Finally my feet were numb and I said I was bouncing out, he followed me to the car.

One of the things he said to me was he was seeing someone who separated from her husband for him, but he really didn’t want that kind of “relationship.”  He wanted to be casual, when she left her husband he felt a little choked by the whole thing (I guess it was fine the way it was?).  I didn’t pay much attention to his story until he walked me to the car.  I gave him a “Heller hug,” which is known to be rather cold.  He said, “I want a real hug.”  He didn’t get one, I was pissed.  Driving off I finally got the moral to the story, he was available for his kind of relationship.  Swing & a miss buddy!

It would be one thing if he looked like Aquaman throwing it out there (kidding), I was insulted on a few different levels.  The rest of the season I skied alone.

I’ve been on the road for family stuff this Jan, just wanted to escape to my own little place I love to get a few non-stormy ski days in.  My warm up was supposed to be XC skiing again with an easy loop, then 2 days at Sugar Bowl.  Unfortunately, a pine tree branch I didn’t see until I was right there was about 5′ over the tracks and I tried to avoid it then went back to far on my ski’s and fell on my ass – the branch won.  I felt it right away, I’ve done it once before trying to snowboard with a hard fall when the kids were little.

Things could be worse, it just takes skiing out while I’m here.  It probably prevented a worse injury?  Sometimes I think skiing is an orthopedic surgeon’s dream come true.  I stood in a lift line at Northstar once when a snowboarder maneuvered the fence and slammed right into me.  I was fine, you just never know what can happen??

 

So far, so good 2019

Despite being rainy and cold everywhere I’ve been and being publicly called out on FB as looking to move into a trailer.  I covered a lot of ground this past few weeks, now I just need to get back into shape which was not even on my NYR list of things to do.

I have a Garmin watch with a HRM on it to guide me.  Over the summer, swimming laps and riding my bike everywhere, I was the Vo2 of a 34 year old.  I felt really good about that, bragging rights actually to anyone who still listens to me.  In New Mexico I was able (forced) to walk the dog a few miles, getting my HR up to an acceptable range.  Last checked, 36 years old.

To my horror, when I got back home I hopped on the scale to see 5 lbs and the Vo2 of a 40 yr old – that train ride & Wetzel Pretzel lunch added 4 yrs & 5 lbs!!  I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed my whole life!!

With the smoke, getting sick, then weather I haven’t done much.  Those pounds went on when I turned 50 and nothing I do can get them off!  I’ve just been accepting it, glad for the bikini bod I had up until that 50 mark.

Back to the gym I go…even though I kinda hate gyms, or the gym “scene.”  Nothing like fighting your way for a spot in yoga class where you’re supposed to go to be calm & relaxed.  At 5’9″, I’m the tall dork that can’t see without my glasses in the back of the class.  I’m also not flexible, or spiritual, so I can’t do half the poses.

I remember being in Bali in a gorgeous outdoor studio overlooking the ocean with my son.  The rest of the class were hot, 20 yr old Australian surfer boys with a few perfect 20 yr old girls to match.  I was old lady in the back of the class, which was fine because I was actually in shape.  She said we were going to do a head stand, I said I was out for that one.  She went into a speech on how some people won’t try it because it’s that time of the month (she probably said some spiritual thing about menses?) and other women problems I might be having that would prevent me from even trying.  I bit my tongue, I wanted to say, “How about I can’t do a headstand?”  Geez.

You never really appreciate that you were in shape until you’re out of shape.  Do you have to get out of your warm bed first and stop writing?  Oh…I guess so 🙂

Stuck on a Train

It’s been pouring in LA all week, with no plans to get back to NorCal on my journey I figured the best thing to do is have an adventure and take the train back.  I love trains, a friend of mine took 13 hours getting back over the Grapevine on I-5 – normally a 5 to 6 hour drive.

I scheduled an  Uber driver last night to pick me up, giving me plenty of time for rain and traffic to Union Station in downtown LA.  All went well, got to the station dry despite the rain.

My business class tix got me into the 1st class lounge where there were drinks and snacks before we got on…then the delay.  NBD, an hour for a new engine.  Now I’m sitting in Burbank while the new engine conked out, I would say for almost an hour now?  Well, I wanted adventure!!  We’ll see if that’s going to include a night in Burbank at a Motel 6 or something?

This is just a shame, I was really hoping it would be a rainy day train ride up the coast.  Now I have no idea what’s going to happen?

While I was in Manhattan Beach, I went to the new marine lab at the end of the pier for donor day.  My mom was involved with the original lab, it was nice they had a special day for the previous volunteers.  Got a few good shots when I was down there at least before the rain.

An update, we’re back at Union Station in LA awaiting????  Ugh.  Made a quick field trip to grab lunch & possibly a latte, the bathrooms at the station were full of homeless.  I went back to the 1st class lounge at the train station to use those bathrooms, then tried to hit Starbucks but the line was too long.  Grabbed a Wetzel Pretzel hot dog to come hang out on the train some more.  It’s actually more comfortable on the train than in the station.

At least I grabbed some food, I had made a 2p dining car appointment that of course didn’t happen.  If we ever get moving, I’ll keep writing.  Right now I’m just a tad worried I’ll be on this train for 2 days before I get back.  When the train took off the 1st time, I was like a little kid taking pictures.  Now I’m just kinda blah and over it.

2 Days later:  That turned out to be a 7 hour delay, we left at 5p instead of 10a – getting in at 5am to Martinez.  The coastline was totally dark, pitch black actually, didn’t get to see a thing past Van Nuys when it got dark.  I didn’t write the rest of the ride because I was like a zombie.  The good news is, when I finally got home and re-woke up to call Amtrak gave me a trip voucher.  When the train started rolling I grabbed dinner from the dining car then just vegged out the rest of the ride.  I didn’t even read or watch a movie, just tried to enjoy the ride.  I must have slept a little?  I kept waking myself up snoring 🙂  Sorry to the rest of my car-mates.

Planes, trains & automobiles January.  Drove to New Mexico, flew to LA then the train back – reverse order – also lengthy.

While in Manhattan Beach I got to spend the week with my mom for her birthday.   Got a few pics I’ll post from that and some others of my LA time.  It rained most of the time, I did get to have some much needed GF time.

I also had an interesting FB exchange (I gotta get off FB!!).  While it rained I was checking out Zillow in Carlsbad and noticed what I thought were vacation trailers close to the water.  I have a few FB friends in Carlsbad, did a shout out to see what those were?  When I looked into it more I saw it was a over 55 retirement community (which I qualify for but not ready to go there just yet).  The dirt rental was about $1,500 when I looked it up a little more.

In the meantime, a friend’s wife who just became a real estate agent started posting pictures of trailer homes on my FB page.  When I said I wasn’t ready for a retirement community, she started posting pics of a trailer park in Hermosa Beach.  So now my “friends” think I’m looking into trailer homes??  Haha, I’m sorry but I don’t see a $500k trailer in Hermosa Beach as a smart investment.  I don’t see anything down there as a smart investment right now, it’s crazy expensive.  She most likely thought I was trying to get my foot in the door down there, I can’t imagine inviting my childhood friends over to my trailer for dinner?

I’m leaving the post up though, for some reason I think it’s hysterical!!  We played golf with some guy about 20 years ago who lived in the tree section and I said, “I grew up in the tree section!”  He said, “It must be hard to not be able to afford to live where you grew up?”  My husband & I laughed on the way home, we don’t live there because we’d have A-holes like him for neighbors.  People spend so much time thinking others are jealous of them they don’t realize they’re coming off as pricks.

I had a good time down there with my mom and a few GF’s though, it was really nice.  I can always go “home” and spend the time with my mom.  I’m so glad Amtrak gave me a voucher, I really want to take that train trip during the day to see that coast route!!  Thought I’d spend a rainy day, clinking glasses in the dining car watching the sunset in someplace other than Van Nuys.

These are finally leaving Union Station, where the train was on the coast and my view from there 😦

& yeah, I’m still a little grouchy from my trip – I actually did have a great time despite the FB trailer park incident.

From El Paso to LA

Or from real life to fictional reality, where $$ rules the day here instead of being on government shutdown furlough.  Got out of there before Trump came to town to say, “Thanks for taking one for the team for my wall guys, you’re doing the right thing!”  In the meantime, the Christmas Visa bill is about to roll in.

It’s heartbreaking for me to travel through there sometimes, that’s my family down there at the border towns.  Both sets of my mom’s grandparents lived in Bisbee, AZ, she grew up with all her first cousins.  The difference was my grandma’s parents had some money.  My mom was able to go to University of Arizona, become a stewardess for American Airlines and get out of Bisbee at 18.  I was always jealous when I went there for the summer that my cousins got to grow up there and be “loved.”  While I grew up in Manhattan Beach with no family close by and a brutal social caste system of where you ranked in terms of what street you lived on and how much you weighed.

Honestly, those are “Problems of abundance” one of my super wealthy friends told me once.  My cousins didn’t end up in Bisbee, the copper mines shut down and they had to move too.  The job that provided a really good income for my grandpa with a decent retirement was gone soon after he passed away.  My mom’s generation had to scatter to the available jobs, which were at smelters, prisons and border patrol.

The cousins of my generation I’m still in touch with, one just picked me up in Las Cruces yesterday for breakfast and dropped me off at the hotel airport shuttle.  I love seeing them, they bring me back down to earth and always have.  One of her sisters told me once when we were kids she was jealous of my etch-a-sketch, the technology at the time.  When she told me that, I had the new  IPad in my purse.  We were laughing about how it never changes, but I really didn’t know how poor they were growing up.  One clue could have been a 2 bedroom house with 5 kids??

Another cousin is not doing well at all, she’s joined the ranks of the meth zombies.  I saw her last 4th of July, she was sober after one of her boys had OD’d.  She’s a few years younger than me and must look 20 years older.  She was so pretty, athletic, never had a chance.  She grew up in my great grandparents house (grandfather’s parents).  Her mom eventually sold the house for her own drug addictions.  She just lost another son who has 6 kids and was in prison.  The meth mom of the grandkids dropped them all off with her family and took off.  I don’t have one grandkid, she’s got maybe 10 already and is younger than me.

Maybe that’s an extreme case, it’s still pretty common in towns where there are no jobs.  The jobs that are there now, especially those border towns, are government jobs where they’re now on furlough too.

But I’m in Manhattan Beach now, where the Tesla’s & Range Rovers head West off of  Sepulveda and everyone is tan, rich and beautiful.

Don’t mean to sound bitter, it’s just an abrupt culture shock!!  I actually love it here, I’m a beach girl through & through – or at least a water girl.  I’m very lucky my mom left Bisbee when she did, or I would be the one on furlough or meth.  Problems of abundance, I mean that in an eye opening, grateful way.

One last (hopefully) Trump comment:  He’s known for not paying or thinking people should be paid at all, he could really give a shit about that part of it…who BTW is most of his base desperate for jobs.  That jacket he made Melania wear (or maybe she picked her own $30 statement jacket?) is how they are.  Although I have no opinion really about the wall, except $7mil is a tad overboard when the walls in place now are surrounded by mountains on either side, I do think screwing his base to get it makes a real statement.

That’s enough thinking for today, I gotta get outside!!