Chapter 26: Decorating and More

October through December 2009

In case you want to reach us:

Land address is:
4708 Galicia Way
Oceanside, CA 92056
Land line: 760•509•4832

October — The Decorating Begins

Now that we had a semblance of a home — i.e. we have furniture — we needed to spruce it up a bit. In early October we selected a two-lady decorating team to aid us in our choices. They guaranteed they would be careful with our money, and they were.

We picked out carpeting for our bedroom (I like warm feet when I get up at night), and decided to put a cork floor in the kitchen and in the TV/Ken’s office.  Cork is great on the feet for a kitchen, but has to be treated kindly. No harsh chemicals or waxes. Just a little vinegar in water every week or so.

We also selected a patterned carpet to put under the dining room table. As it turned out, that didn’t work.  As an area rug, it did not go wall to wall, and the dining room chairs would slide off it, onto the tile. Fortunately, it fit perfectly under the two couches, as an area rug.

Our decorator ladies put us on to a great place that would build cornices for the dining room, living room and kitchen, plus some window coverings for the bedroom. 

October 6

I'm still not used to the fact that everything is either up-hill or down-hill; hardly any level streets or roads. I ordered a cart for our recyclables and Ken put it together. However, our recycle pick-up fellow growled at us the second time we used it, because it ran into the street — it was on wheels and our driveway is downhill. Poor guy. He would take one bin off the cart and the rest of the cart would disappear down the street. So, we now use it in the garage, but carry the containers out.

When we first bought this house we discovered a charming piece that was attached to the front door. We thought it looked like angels. It was attached to the left side of the front door frame (left as you look outside), between the door and the screen, and the top was tilted toward the inside, which as I understand it, is proper for a mezuzah. However, there was no parchment in it.

The home had been owned by a Mr. Simon, and we assumed that the piece was a Jewish good luck piece. I looked up the letter and the Internet site said it was the Hebrew letter S. We wondered if the letter on the top angel was for “S” as in Simon? We decided to leave it there, thinking we could probably use a little good luck.

However, after being firmly in place for what I imagine is a very long time, it suddenly dropped from the doorway and landed on the floor (didn't break). Rightly or wrongly we assumed it didn’t want to live with us.

So, we sent it to Norma and Stan Cohen, hoping that it might bring them further luck in their efforts to sell their house. They wrote back and said it was indeed a mezuzah and that the “S” was the Hebrew character representing God.

The Decorating Begins

October 8 Friday

Here we were, thinking that the inside painting would start on October 22, giving us a couple of weeks to figure out how to get out of Dodge (we planned to take the Moose to somewhere near San Diego, and spend a few days seeing the zoo, Balboa park, etc.).

However, just got a call and they are coming Tuesday!  Don't know whether we can pull it off and get out of here. My guess is that we'll stay and watch it unfold. On top of that someone is coming Monday to clean all the grout in the living room/dining room and showers. How much fun can a person have?

Tuesday Oct 13

As the painting was going on, the grout fellow was cleaning all the tile floor and shower grout, Bill and Mitch came to put in the new door leading from the laundry room to the garage. (The laundry room is really just a hall, and with the garage door opening in, there was no room for hooks or anything on the opposite wall. So they reversed the door, opening it into the garage. We also added those pull aside screens for three doors and they were being installed. One day there were 11 of us here.

Left: Louis our painter Right: Mitch and father Bill putting in a door

Ken had the advantage of being able to turn his hearing aids off. So, he could work on his computer without listening to everything that was going on around him. (How's that screen size for a computer monitor? It doubles as our TV in the evenings.)

Here are a few more pictures. Below is Ken's office after painting/decorating (with a few Christmas Santas on the floor). The floor may look the same, since the original was a light wood, but the new floor is cork.

Before and after painting

Kitchen, post decorating. We added a metal lattice over the patio furniture. Looks like wood, but isn't.

You may remember the big crane picture over the table in our old homes. Looks nice here along the entry wall. You can see some of the Santas scattered about, as well as the patterned carpet we moved from the dining room to the living room. The little greenery on the right is part of an ongoing plan to use succulents on the patio. Our good friends — the twins I knew from highschool — Ruth Kornhauser and Betty Castro are contributing lots of plants to our efforts.

The atrium

We have this open-to-the-air atrium between Ken's office and the kitchen. It's great for adding light and air to the house, but we didn't know what to do with it. Some people put trees there. Some close it in for extra room. Ken wanted to do something whimsical with it, and so you have it.

The first step was to create a deck. Our two creative folks — Bill and son Mitch — decided on this look, with a path leading to the end wall, posts with ropes, and stones on either side. Then the mural was done by Virginia Ann Holt. She used an umbrella to keep the sun out of her eyes while painting.

Here's the finished room. Virginia matched the color of our inside painting in a "dabbed on" faux look with some bricks peeking through in the corners. So far, the reactions of people seeing it for the first time range from "Oh, my!" to "That's different." Oh well, we like it.

October 28-30 San Diego Wild Animal Park

In order to avoid some of the chaos, we went back to the park in Escondido where we stayed during the summer.  As long as we had extra time, we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, near Escondido. 

For a fee you can take a ride in a big balloon. It's teathered to the ground, but gives you a big overview of the whole park (we didn't go). The whole park is nestled in a valley, though the park itself is quite hilly. It's often used to house rare animals, like the white rhino, which is almost extinct. (I think this is the picture of the white rhino.)

I wish I had taken notes during our trip on a small tram through the African portion, but I didn't and so some of the details have now escaped me, as I write this two months later.

The lion area is quite popular, and thanks to glass, you can get up quite close. As you can see above, the lions are fed rabbits (frozen, not alive). I would suppose they get other food as well.

You can see how the giraffes love the tree bark. In the lower right picture a wire mesh is being put around a palm tree so that they don't kill it.

When animals first come to the park they are quarantined for several months. This poor fellow on the left will eventually be joined with his other kind, but looks pretty lonesome. Same for the giraffe.

And of course feeding the ducks is always park of any animal experience for the kids (adults, too). You can see this duck was quite fascinated with Ken's shoes.

November 13

When we returned home we took our winter clothes from the Moose to the house. When I went through the pockets I found lots of plastic “Missy bags,” which I always used for our walks. Sad reminders.

Early December

Camp Pendleton:

We've been having a couple of days of really loud noises, even some that rattle one of the windows in my office. I thought maybe it was a series of small quakes, but after looking up some stuff on the Internet, what we seem to be experiencing is a practice from Camp Pendleton. According to one article, they are "M198 howitzers and M777 cannons" that are being fired. Ken says the cannon fire goes faster than the speed of sound, so what we're getting is the effect from breaking the speed barrier. The article was responding to complaints from people in Oceanside. The camp commander reminded the complainers that "After all, we are at war and our men must be prepared." I wrote our nephew Peter Mitchell, who was a Marine stationed in Iraq and who has made many trips to Camp Pendleton. When I wrote him about the noises he said:

"I can confirm ALL the aforementioned. I was an artilleryman as a young Marine, and I cut my teeth on the M-198 (em one-niner-eight) howitzer. When the atmospherics are just right, artillery booms can carry for miles. But it would be lullaby music to this old Marine. That noise used to put me to sleep."

Getting Back to Handwork

I haven’t used a sewing machine in years, but decided to get one so I could at least take up the hems in some slacks and maybe make placemats for the dining room.  I’ve also started knitting a cap that will be sent to a soldier in Iraq. I talked to Chip about it and he said these caps are godsends for keeping the sand out of noses and mouths.

When should you doubt your GPS? A trip to Palm Desert December 2-5

We decided to take a short Moose trip to Palm Springs, to check out an RV park that we'll travel to with others from our Ocean Hills RV club (our first trip with the club), in March. It was in Palm Desert and called Emerald Desert. I had looked at the route on Google before we left, and it showed taking I-15 North, then I-215 on a Northeast angle, a short trip on 60, then I-10 straight in. If you can imagine a right triangle, this was the 90-degree angle. So we ignored the GPS when it suggested we get off on highway 79 at Temecula.

Even though there were lots of moutains, the roads were smooth and wide. Chicken that I am (was), Ken drove the whole way. The trip north of Escondido on I-15 is beautiful, but hilly. We passed a community in a valley called "Welk Village" (Lawrence Welk, of course, who played at Pacific Ocean Park when I was in high school).

I-215 North (remember those snow-capped mountains)

Emerald Desert turned out to be a lovely park. While we were sitting out one late afternoon we were treated to the sight of a hot air balloon looking as if it were coming down for a landing. We had one "nice" dinner out at Morton's, which turned out to be just a short trip away (actually, I was not impressed, except for the prices).

Until the trip home, I was pretty confident that “Harold” — that’s what we call our GPS — would know the right routes. However, we had one wild ride this weekend on our trip home, thanks to him.

The adventure started almost right away. Remember that highway 79 that Harold suggested on the way up? Well, that was part of the route he chose. But, what the heck, do what Harold says and see what happens.

I was driving as we left the campground (my turn, I thought). Harold took us out of town on 111 and then a turn to 74. It wasn’t five minutes and I knew I was in trouble. We were on a two-lane highway headed for heaven (that is, straight up a mountain), with no way to turn back. With a 40-foot motor home pulling a car, turning around and going back is not an option. S-turns around blind corners is not my thing.

By the time Ken agreed to take over and I found a spot we could pull over onto the side of the road — called “turn outs” — the parade of cars that accumulated behind me was really long. I expected some of them to wave their fingers in that “darn you” fashion, but most were polite and waved their appreciation with a full hand.

On the way back

The rest of the 40-mile horror trip continued while Ken sweated it out. I would have taken some photos of the scary turns and deep drops, but my mind wasn’t working very well and I didn’t do it.

There were hairpin “S” turns, warnings for ice, and the sides of some roads simply fell off to nowhere. I thought I was a white-knuckler when it came to flying in an airplane, but this was ten times worse. Ken is a kind man and he pulled off the road anytime a turn-out area had been designed, in order to let others pass. As a result of all that, our brakes started to smell, and the turn-outs and slower driving added about an hour to what — as the locals call it — the "shortcut." Yeah, right.

Interestingly — but no surprise — we did not see a single motor home on our trip (smarter folks than we), nor any commercial trucks. But we did see beautiful scenery (when I had the nerve to look), and actually some spots of snow on the side of the road of the downward trip. A couple of days later the news reported that rain had frozen on those roads, so we were grateful to have gotten there earlier.

When we got to Temecula the road became four-lane and we sighed a big sigh of relief.  We pulled off into a parking lot to recover a bit and have a taco, before heading home. We looked at the GPS settings to see what they were, and the “fastest route” was the selected setting, which in most cases keeps us on interstates. Not this time.

Can you imagine all of this on a curvy two-lane highway?

We couldn’t get home fast enough, unpacked our stuff and headed straight for a nice cold drink.

So, my advice if you want the ride of your life from the San Diego area to Palm Springs, take route 79 to 371 to 74 (or back 74 to 371 to 79) and see what excitement really is.  The one positive outcome is that after my short turn in a scary situation, I don't think any highway driving — despite the hills — will bother me. I've also learned that if I have any doubts, use Google to confirm.

Becoming a Charger fan

Ken and I lived in Tampa when the Buccaneer team was formed (1976). We struggled through the first season with no wins, and through the second of 11 losses before its first win against the Saints. That made us  thirty-three-year fans when we left Florida. It was always a struggle: games won or lost in the last two minutes seemed to be Buccaneer ball. Coaches came and went. Quarterbacks came and went. But we stayed faithful. When in California we decided that we would need to become Charger fans (couldn’t get the Bucs game here). It’s not easy to switch teams: learning new names, new plays, new venues. HOWEVER, I just want to say, “Goodbye Bucs and Hello Chargers!” They are wonderful to watch, and haven’t lost a game since we arrived.


Eric, Andy, and their friend Scott Martin were here for Christmas. I fixed their favorite meal from their grandmother: Kessler Ribchen, which is a whole smoked pork loin with kale. If you like greens, go to the table of contents in my cookbook at: Locate "entrees: veal, lamb, pork" and click on Kessler Ribchen. It will download a printable PDF. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I bought Ken an altitude watch (wish we’d had it on the trip out because I was always wondering how high we were). He discovered that we are living over 350 ft. above sea level (our house). If I remember correctly that’s the highest point in the whole state of Florida.

Gabriel, the older Wheaton is quite a character. His favorite thing, it seems, is hiding his nose under Eric's armpit, or on the right, turning his back to the action. Scott sat down on a bench in our doggy park, while Tatum and a very large black poodle played about. Gabriel wanted none of the action.

Andy holds Gabe and Eric with Tatum. Scott is in the background, and Ken peeks around Eric's shoulders. We have a gate at the front of the house, which is wonderful for the dogs. They can chase up and down the side of the house, as well as on the patio, and can't get out.

I didn't have a wonderful place for my Christmas tree, but here it is. I got to California with all the decorations, but no tree. I don't remember giving it away, but I must have. I bought a small 6 ft. tree and that held about 60% of my ornaments.

Back to Golf

Years ago when we quit golf at Laurel Oak, we said we'd take it up when we got too old for tennis. Well, now that the hard courts here have scared us silly, we've decided to take another look at golf. In Ocean Hills we have an 18-hole, par-3 (one hole is a par 4), walking course, included in our monthly payment, so there are no additional fees.  We can do that, I'm sure.  Then, we ran into a fellow telling us about a golf club 4 miles from here and touted how great it is and how reasonable are the fees. We went to check it out today and here's the skinny (yes, we joined).

Fee to join: $0.
Monthly dues: $385
18-hole cart fee: 13.50
9 hole fee: 7.00

Can you believe? Shadowridge is a full 18-hole championship course with clubhouse (lunches 6 days a week, dinners 4 evenings). The views are beautiful, with all the hills and valleys. We both felt very "at home" there and recognized that we had missed the "Laurel Oak effect." We go back on Tuesday to be "fitted" for golf clubs. Turns out that Carlsbad (our next door town), is the home to many golf club manufacturers, Taylor included. Shadowridge hosts the computerized system for Taylor clubs (takes about an hour per person). 

So there you have it. A golf club that used to have high entry fees compared to today (they were $10,000 a few years ago), has bitten the bullet and figured out how to live on dues. You have to commit to one year, but after that it's month at a time.

Here are some pictures of Ken getting fitted. You can see the little knobs that are attached, all over his body. As he swings those are recorded on a computer.

Ken could see the TV on the floor, while Joey monitored the computer. At the end of quite a few swings, along with putting, the computer spits out its recommendations.

Yes, I did it, too, but I wasn't about to have any pictures taken. Our clubs have been ordered and are mostly here. We are both taking a lesson next week to see if any of our old memories are still around. We'll let you know how that turns out.

I'm sorry for you (having to read such a long chapter). Maybe you just looked at the pictures. That's what I would have done. In any case, love to you all. Time to go watch some of the playoff football games and eat some popcorn.

Go to Chapter 27