Chapter 31: Catching Up

July-August-September, 2010

The last line in the previous chapter was "July and August look to be a little slower." How right that was. As you can see, I didn't write anything for those two months — plus September. HOWEVER, September has been something else.

I want to include a couple of things before you dig in (I suspect this is so long many will give up and not get to the end). So:

Yes, we finally gave up on AT&T (virtually no service here). We bought HTC Android Incredibles, which are similar enough to iPhones that I'm beginning to do okay. Our new numbers are:

Ken — 760 420-8169 Shan — 760 560-8898

The second thing is something for the ladies. If you haven't already tried it, please buy some Blue Dawn Direct Spray. It has totally changed the way I clean up dishes that don't go into the dishwasher. Try it, you'll love it.

July and August: Tomatoes

In the last chapter you saw pictures of the upside-down-tomato growing device. Actually, they did pretty well. They started to drag on the patio so we had to tie them up.

Ken watered and fed them faithfully, and we finally had some very sweet tomatoes. We also has some really ugly caterpillars! At a distance they looked almost like a row of tomatoes. I cut the first one in half like our gardener does. Yuck! That was enough. The rest found their place in a plastic bag in the trash.

July 26

Last summer we became friends with Donna and Dennis Bernaiche, a couple from the RV park in Escondido. They come to California for the summer and are from the Phoenix area. While they were here again, they visited with us, bringing their darling girl Phoebe.


Parties, Parties, Parties

Sometimes we miss the fact that there is no restaurant in the community. However, if you attended all of the parties put on by all of the clubs, you could be eating out 3-4 times a week. The tennis club hosted a party where people were to dress like their favorite sports hero. (In case you can't guess, Ken pretends to be Payne Stewart.)

July 29-29: Los Angeles

We combined several events at the same time in LA. An old friend — John Powers — was going to be at the Marriott Airport Hotel for a few days, and Linda and David Habif would be in LA to visit daughter Meredith, husband, and new grandchild. So, we drove to LA: had lunch with the Habifs, dinner with John (sorry John, I forgot to get a picture), stayed over one night, then breakfast with Eric and Andy, and headed home. Whew! all that in 24 hours.

June and July

Ken has been anxious to get back to his writing, and finds that the set-up in the present TV room isn't working for him. So, we started our real estate lady/friend Debi Vail (we bought our present home from her), to start looking for a house that had some very specific characterisitcs. First, it had to have an office for Ken, separate from the TV room. Second, it should have a South-East view from the back, and third, we wanted "long" views out the back (we didn't want to start at someone else's backyard). And last, Ken really missed his ice maker from the Laurel Oak home, so he wanted to be able to put in an icemaker.

It was important for me to have a laundry tub (can you believe this house doesn't have one?). We looked throughout June and most of July. And then, the "right" home came on the market. It had what we wanted and more. The house is on a cul-de-sac, which means that it has a pie-shaped lot, giving us lots more patio room.

Left: Front at street, before entering yard. Right: Courtyard view after entering from street.

Left: Front courtyard view from kitchen Right: The view is over a valley that leads into a canyon.

The house had been built at a time when they were not so fussy about additions; it had a nice 11x13 office, with another 5x13 room at the end of it. We never did figure out what that room was for. If you want to see the floor plan, download the pdf. Floor Plan

Here are some inside views.

Left above : looking at the front door and out the dining room window Right: looking down stairs from the loft

Above: from the entry way view of the stairway wall and loft wall (see later what happens to those). Cute girl is our decorator Deby.

You can see how the loft and the stair walls make the lower level fairly dark. This picture was taken with the previous owners' furniture in it.

On July 25 we put in our bid, lower than the owners wanted, of course. Once we had the results from the "house detective," we decided to lower the bid again, knowing we would be doing some updating to the home. Finally Debi pulled it off and we were off and running. Their house was only on the market 5 days. We put our present house up for sale and it sold in about 2 weeks. The new owners agreed to let us stay until the new one is ready, which hopefully will be by October 28th when our "rent-back" ends.

Updating Begins after House Closed on September 10

We started three efforts simultaneously: new kitchen cabinets, new stairs, construction reconfigurations (master bath, Ken's office, wet bar). The stairs finished first.

The Stairs

A local company called Staircrafter and its owner Gregg Kuzara and team began the dismantling. The stair wall and loft walls came down. We decided on maple wood railings with black wrought iron balusters with a curly pattern similar to the musical treble clef (we're going to put the piano up on the loft). The steps would be wood with grit added to make them slip-safe. Gregg made the step a little longer so that Ken's big feet would fit. The last thing they did was to apply a germ preventor to the hand rails. This stuff will last two years, according to Gregg. It's a new technology that is being used in hospitals, and he included it at no cost to us.

Left: before Middle: Taking down the stairwell wall Right: Taking down the loft wall

Left: All walls down Middle: Finishing the ballustrade placement Right: after — finished stairs

Left: the Staircrafters team, Gregg Kuzara, owner, and his team Right: Germ preventor being applied

Other Updates in Progress

The kitchen will get all new cabinets, made of the maple and finished in light oak, just like the stairs. Here are two "before" pictures. We kept the granite and are working around it. The leftmost picture is what the cabinets looked like before (they had refaced them).

We had a pass through cut into the solid wall between the kitchen and dining room. Now, from the kitchen you can see through to the new loft railings and out through the sliding doors to the south-east view. Lots of light.

Left: Before cutting through Right: After cutting

Ken's office was odd. Someone early on had added a 13x11 room, exited with a set of sliders. Then they built a 5 ft. wide room at the end of it, with the only entrance from outside. It seemed to be just an outside storage room, but it had a window onto the patio. So, we had the wall torn down and now the room is 13x18. Left below are the joists left after the wallboard was removed. You can see the outside door, and the window (covered). After all the wall was gone, they covered up the door so it no longer exists.

This is the other end of the office, with a beautiful northerly view onto the front courtyard.

Here are some changes being made to the outside. On the left there was a huge bed of very old roses, which we removed. We'll probably put in a deck instead. Also, on the other side of the hedge there were two large vegetable-growing areas which we had cleared. Don't know yet what they'll be.

Just so you don't think all of this is a neat process, here are two pictures showing how bad it is. One is the garage and the other is what the new shower looks like at the moment, before laying the tile.

San Diego Quilt Show, September 24

I am really enjoying the ladies in the Sewing Club. I've become re-interested in quilts, so when the San Diego Quilt Show came up, I enthusiastically agreed to go. We could have driven to the Convention Center (where you may know the Comic Con convention happens each year). However, we took the Coaster, which begins in Oceanside and ends in San Diego. It's only $6.80 round trip for seniors and includes all the transfers to local trollies when you get there. You get your ticket from a machine.

Left: Getting a ticket Right: The Coaster has an upper deck for viewing the coast as it travels south.

Left: Our four quilters Right: Getting on the trolly in the city.

Ticketing is very interesting. No one takes them. The assumption is that if you took the Coaster and transferred to the trolly that you bought a ticket. I understand that there are random checks, and anyone without a ticket is in for a very large fine.

The convention center seems to run many blocks long and is very pretty. The Quilt Show was at the south end of the convention center and we got off the trolly at the north end. It was a really long walk back. the picture on the left below shows how long it is. The one on the right was taken from the inside. It's quite impressive. I got distracted looking at all the quilts, and forgot to take pictures. I did buy a quilting table, however, that will have to be picked up in Poway next week (haven't a clue where that is, but evidently not too far).

One stop along the way back to picking up the return Coaster was old town, or the original downtown San Diego. Lots of good restaurants, I hear.

Carlsbad Art Fair, September 26

Ken had the idea of having a trompe l'oeil picture on the door along the stairway — perhaps make it look like a wine cellar door or something. So, we went to the Carlsbad Art Fair, which was having a sidewalk-painting contest. My niece Lori had taken me to a terrific one in Palm Beach, but this one was a bit disappointing. No trompe l'loeil, but some nice art and sand sculpture, in any case.

The picture above right depicts a scene from Alice in Wonderland. I did a poor job of getting it, but you can see Alice in the upper right, and most of the Cheshire Cat in the bottom part of the picture. It was all created using colored t-shirts, laid about. Very creative.

You may remember the fields of flowers like the American flag. The Art Fair was above the fields. This photo is looking down from the fair, across the flower fields (awaiting the next planting), across part of Carlsbad to the ocean. Ken had a churro before we left.

Safe and Secure?

We have felt really safe here. There seems to be no vandalism or theft (unless you count people who occasionally dip into the refrigerator at the club and pilfer someone else's lunch). As a "55 or older" community, the lack of high school kids makes vandalism and petty theft pretty unlikely. However, we were shaken to the core this week end when we received a call that said several motor homes in the lot had been robbed and ours was one of them.

We immediately went to see and found — of course — the door unlocked and the window at the bedroom jimmied. There are two windows in the Moose that are dedicated to fast exit in case of a fire. If you push on the bottom part of the window, it swings out. The bedroom window was one of those, so I suppose it made it easy for them to get in.

We found our own screwdrivers scattered about as they removed items. Gone was the dash DVD and GPS (we never used it, so no loss), our portable GPS (we have another in our car), and the monitor from the back-up camera (camera at the end of the Moose still intact) and of course our big 45" LG TV set.

Left: DVD and empty hole for back-up TV Right: arm where TV used to be

Surprisingly, Ken's iMac, which was stored under the bed, was gone also. You can see where they lifted the mattress. Under the bed was the computer, where now only a lonely cord resides.

Conclusion: they have been in motor homes before. They knew about the fire escape window and that there is storage under the bed. Getting the computer out wasn't easy, since the end of the bed snugs up under the vanity, which moves out when we take the sides out. They didn't know how to extend the side, or couldn't find the right switches to make it work.

So, we didn't feel too violated. Many things were not taken and most are easy to replace. Of course we had to call the police who suggested since it was under $5,000 that it could be reported on line. It was late in the day, so we locked up (under police observation) and went home, deciding to return Monday to look carefully at what was gone and make our list.

Next day about 1:30 we headed to the Moose and were totally shocked to find the door unlocked again. Inside was a real mess. This time EVERYTHING electronic (plus some other stuff) was gone. They had hit us again! So many strange things about this. The back window looked exactly the way I left it. I assumed that somehow they managed to find a key that fit and simply walked in. The police came back out again, this time opening up a case number and sending a forensics person to see about finding fingerprints (none found). The forensics person said she'd been to Ocean Hills CC a number of times as a witness to a death where there was no medical history, but never for a crime.

Jennifer, dusting for prints

Both police contacts said it was probably an "inside job:" either a resident (can you imagine one of those old folks over 55 crawling in a window?), or an employee (more likely, with friends).

Tonight is our regular monthly RV meeting, so I can imagine what the topic of conversation will be. Two other rigs were hit the first night, but not much taken. I don't know if there were others on the second night, but clearly they had been interrupted the first night in ours and came back to take the rest.

The Village Flea Market

The first Saturday in October there is an all-village flea market, held in the front parking lot. Individuals and clubs may have a table. The Woodchucks (people who like to make things with wood) host a hot dog stand and a "free" table where donations go to Camp Pendleton. I was frankly surprised that Ken wanted to go with me, but he was the one who found many things to buy, one of which was a one-year-old unused printer, to replace the one stolen from the Moose.

Weather Update

What a strange non-summer. It was completely cool through what should have been the hot months: seldom over 72 degrees. And now, September 28th as I write this, we've had two days approaching 100. Everyone seems to be a little confused about how cool it has been, even the weather man, since the rest of the country had a blazing summer.

So, that brings you up to date as of October 2. I'll write more when we have the move under our belts and the new house is finished.