Like a moth drawn to the light, each week I find myself reading the Real Estate section of the Los Angeles Times, even though I have no intention of buying anything, particularly now when prices have soared out of sight and belief. It is a great vicarious experience to look at glossy photos of homes I could never afford, palaces of the rich and famous. Adjacent columns provide additional information about young actors, singers and athletes who are in the process of selling their current multi-million dollars properties in order to relocate to better quarters.

I enjoy fantasizing about touring some of the featured properties with mountain or ocean views (or both), gigantic pools, libraries, spas, indoor screening rooms, massive kitchens and all of the other perquisites for the good life.

I sometimes wonder how it is still possible to care about such relatively unimportant things after what I see and hear each day at the hospital where I work, but I am too, too human. Even after a day of dealing with very sick people, I can become upset at something trivial.

The other day I was waiting in my surgeon's office for a routine follow-up for a procedure I recently had. I picked up a glossy magazine from the coffee table, the October edition of Dream Homes, Los Angeles, that features magnificent homes for sale in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

The pictures were glorious, much more detailed than those in the Times. Further back in the magazine were more photos of more villas -- in the Eastern U.S., Canada, Greece and other faraway locations. When I turned one page, I found myself sucking in my breath, not so much at the elegance of the offering, but its location. A magnificent two-page spread, with colored photographs, is headlined "Thailand."

The photos on the right-hand side of the page capture the usual images of paradise: white, sandy beaches, with boats floating gently on calm azure seas, palm fronds swaying in a light breeze, a sky with puffy white clouds and an inviting blue sea, with just a hint of a wave, cresting white in the distance. A glimpse of craggy rocks is visible in the mist beyond the sea.

The accompanying text describes the "Luxury Seaside Villas" planned for Phuket, Thailand. It offers the reader the "chance of a lifetime" to live in this glorious place. One can choose from two different plans, each incorporating elements of Thai design, such as inter-connected pavilions and lotus ponds. The "open pavilions and terraces…allow one to experience the soft caress of a warm tropical breeze and peaceful ponds…" We are assured that this secluded location will provide a peaceful, private lifestyle, while being close to modern conveniences, shopping and modern hospitals. Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, is hailed for its "coral reefs, exotic marine life, sparkling sandy beaches, and the brilliant turquoise Andaman Sea."

The artist's renderings depict some family members frolicking in their huge swimming pools, while others relax at adjacent patio tables, shaded by large white umbrellas. One woman has just emerged from her luxury car in the attached garage. All is serene.

"This truly is as close as one can get to paradise!" exclaims the text. And it can all be yours, starting at just $3 million.

Outside the doctor's office, it was raining and gloomy. I stopped at the pharmacy to fill a couple of prescriptions on my way home. Then I pulled into my cracked, narrow driveway and entered my kitchen through the rear entrance of the house. I turned on the lights and turned up the heat. How blessed and secure I felt to be back in my home, out of the rain, nestled in my own peaceful little corner of paradise.