Thursday, July 15, 2010

The week in summary...

Last Friday I wrote a blog and never posted it. Ha! Silly me. The reason I'm posting it now? I'm too crunched to write up an entirely new entry, and I wanted to share the news!! Stacy Doss, the woman trying to adopt two year old Vanessa and hitting roadblocks, won her appeal! She has a stay on the order to turn Vanessa over. Granted, it's not a conclusion to the story, but at least she can keep Vanessa for now. I'm so, so happy for them.

I had an amazing weekend at Gene Winfield's place out in the desert putting a transmission in fellow Gasoline Girl Kristin's Studebaker. Look for a post soon over at Motor Dolls.

And now, here is last weeks, week in summary:

Monday: Big Waves at the Wedge
Tuesday: New local-boy player for the Anaheim Ducks Hockey Team
Wednesday: Off work to wait for the refrigerator repairman
Thursday: Preview of Fan Fest for the Allstar Baseball game
Friday: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

I'm gonna say right now... this is probably the most boring post I've ever made. So why not delete it? Well... I like to torture my readers.  ;)

There it is! Not too bad of week. No huge, tragic stories. Shooting high waves at the famous Wedge surf spot is always a thrill. They got to about fourteen feet on Monday. Too big for boards, but a few crazy dudes went out to body surf. And the crowds! Of course, the lifeguards blamed them on us for reporting the heck out of the high surf. Hundreds of people headed out to the end of the Balboa Pennisula to take a gander. Of course, they all found it pretty amusing when one of the big waves doused me! Luckily, I kept the camera dry. Sometimes in order to get the most dynamic shot, the photographer has to get into some funky positions.

Generally, along with our news story, we have to shoot a tease. That's where the reporter gets on camera and says, "I'm blah blah at the Anaheim Convention center, where you too can be an All Star! I'll tell you more, coming up at six." or something like that. I've got to give kudos to my reporter who donned a batting hat, got in front of the pitching machine, and managed to get her spiel out PLUS give a holy whack to the ball flying her way. Pretty impressive.

Today's story, medical marijuana. There's been an ongoing battle in a few municipalities to keep medical marijuana dispensaries out of their cities. Lake Forest gave a shut down order about a month ago based on some zoning issue. Today, the appellate court ruled in favor of the dispensaries, and they were allowed to reopen. It's a weird thing shooting inside a dispensary. Many don't want to be seen in there, even though they are legally there with their prescription (although I do sometimes question whether some of these people are really sick).

But I'm over work for the week, and ready for the weekend! Tomorrow, I'm heading to Gene Winfield's place in Mojave to help fellow Gasoline Girl Kristin put a new transmission in her '55 Studebaker. Granted, I have to get up at like four a.m. to try and beat the heat, but it should be a really interesting day.

Sunday, it's off to the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally! Woo hoo!

Later gators!

Friday, July 2, 2010

I know there must be a legal reason, but...

...can't Judges just use common sense sometimes???

Yes, I'm going to rant a bit. When a story touches me this much, I can't help it.

A couple of days ago, I told you about Stacie and her struggles to adopt Vanessa, a baby she's had since birth.

Today, Stacie made yet another court appearance. Friends and family showed up outside the court to support her. It took about forty-five minutes behind closed doors before Stacie emerged. It was clear from her face the news wasn't good. The judge decided to hand the case over to Ohio, which means Vanessa will be taken from the only mother she's ever known, and put into foster care until an adoption hearing which is scheduled for the end of the month. At that time, she will more than likely be given to the paternal grandmother.

My goal with this blog is to share what it's like to be behind the camera while covering a news story. In a case like this, it's hard not to show emotion, even though as a photojournalist, I should hold it together. The pain and anguish in Stacie's voice when she relayed what happened in the court room was palpable. I couldn't help but cry. Everyone did. At least I could hide behind sunglasses and a camera. I can't imagine how devastated she must feel knowing she's sending her daughter into the unknown, and there's nothing she can do about it. And what about this innocent little two-year-old? How will she survive being ripped from her family and given to strangers?

Yes. There are two sides to the story. Mr. Mills is the birth father and has rights. But the birth mother made a hard decision to protect her child and give her child the chance of a better life. Her other two children with Mr. Mills are being raised by his mother. After she had the baby, and gave her to Stacie, she had her tubes tied. She's trying to do the right thing. Even her parents (who we interviewed via phone) agreed Vanessa should stay with Stacie in California, not be brought back to Ohio and a dysfunctional family.

 Here's the deal with the father, Benjamin Mills Jr. He was convicted of domestic violence (mug shot above). He has four (five counting Vanessa) children, none of which he has custody. According to court docs, he dragged Vanessa's birth mother by the hair and beat her until she was unconscious. The police found clumps of her bloody hair around the house. How could a judge in his right mind rule to take this kid away from a situation where she is adored and will have the opportunity for a wonderful life and throw her back into a potentially dangerous situation with a man proven to show violence toward women?

It makes zero sense.

There's still hope. Stacie has already filed an appeal. The birth mother and the birth mother's parents believe it is unsafe to bring the baby back to Ohio. They want Vanessa to stay with Stacie.

But as it stands, in 16 days, Stacy has to hand over her daughter to strangers, and never see her again.

The website again if you want to help:  Operation Vanessa

This is one of those situations where I hope the media can stimulate enough attention to maybe help.

Later gators...

OMG!!! As I'm sitting here writing this, some idiot on his way to turn himself in to parole just punched and then slammed the doors of my van. Dang!! What's wrong with people???

Weekend. Weekend. Yes, it's the weekend. Tomorrow I get to be a Motor Doll and play with my '48 Ford.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Woo hoo!!

The beginning of May, I hit a wall. I'd been working non-stop on my novels for six years, had signed with an agent for one of them, did seven rewrites for her (including converting it to Young Adult), went through the whole publisher submission process--only to realize, it wasn't quite working in its new form. Agent and I parted ways. I didn't like what the novel had become. I tried to get back to it, and rewrite the novel in the true spirit I'd intended, but for the first time in my life, I hit major writer's block. I'd rewritten the book too many times, to the point I just couldn't see it anymore.

So I gave myself a break.

My one month rest turned into two. I was beginning to doubt if I'd ever be able to get back into it. Over the last couple of weeks I tried to dive in, but was basically just rearranging words. This morning, it hit. Not just inspiration, but the solution. I figured out what was wrong.


I can't express enough how relieved I am. I love this project. I can't give up on it. For the first time in months, I'm eager to write. Can you believe it???

Just wanted to share. Now... I have work to do.  :)

Later gators!