Monday, June 27

Life is Good

Quilting has been pushed to the back burner once again. But just for a little while. I can start practicing golf this week to see how my shoulders hold up. My right shoulder is now unhappy because it has been doing extra work.

Our Dallas friends, the ones we met on the South Pacific cruise last year, found a great deal on a transatlantic crossing and asked us if we wanted to go. We had said NO to travel this year because we wanted to spend our discretionary dollars on a few things for the house, like the new TV and bed and some other accoutrements. But travel is not only fun to do, it is also fun (uh, necessary) to have something exciting to look forward to. So we said yes and sprang into action Sunday to get it booked because it is almost sold out.

This is a repositioning cruise, which is why it’s so cheap reasonable. It goes from Southampton to Boston, New York City, and down the coast to Miami. The cruise lines send their ships south in the winter and they offer great deals to go along for the ride. We enjoy days at sea, and there are a lot of them! We will play bridge with our friends every day, and not have to make the bed or cook a meal for two whole weeks.

We have not been very diligent with our diets lately, in fact we have been downright sloppy and our clothes are getting tight. Being that today is Monday I took a deep breath and stepped on the scale. It wasn’t terrible, but I have to get back on a very-low-carb diet NOW!

Saturday’s party went very well. I’d say it was a success, people really enjoyed the wine and food. We liked the format but it was a lot of work and a mountain of dishes to do! 40 glasses and 30 plates, plus the serving dishes. JJ did most of the cleanup.

It was a beautiful evening, the weather could not have been more perfect, and we sat outside.
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JJ plays bridge every Friday with the guy on his right (below). The people flanking them are in their mid-80s and still like to socialize and drink fine wine. They are the sweetest people ever, I just love ’em. And not just because they went gaga over my quilts.
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Marilyn (below, right) invited me to join Tijeras Creek Women’s Golf Club. I just might! Marilyn plays in the low 90s, which is a little daunting. She’s a pistol. I like her style.
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Everything went according to plan and on schedule, but when it was time to do the meat course I got behind and pressed a guest into service to carve up the lamb, which he did happily.
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While he did this I had a moment to snap a photo. The lamb was delicious, by the way.
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The next day our neighbors invited us out to dinner and we went willingly. There are a lot of sweet little neighborhood gems in San Juan Capistrano, which is all of five miles away, and six of us gather once a month to try a new one. This is an actual winery. We ate outside and listened to a terrific guitar player who played all our favorites from the 60s-70s. And they have a GF menu! Hot diggity!
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Life is good.

Saturday, June 25

Wine Pairing Dinner

One thing JJ and I have going for us is JJ likes to open and share his fine wines (with thems that appreciate them), and I’m a pretty good cook. Well, maybe not such a good cook as the fact I that used to be in the restaurant business and I can cook for a crowd with no fear.

The stage is set. All we need are people. Happy people. Ten hungry, thirsty people.

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Here’s what the menu says. It falls somewhere between a fancy sit-down dinner and an appetizer buffet.

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We’ve never done a dinner party quite like this, it’s experimental. If it’s successful (i.e. worth the effort), we may do it often. In theory it sounds great but I do have to keep my wits about me and pay attention to the clock, at least until the lamb is on the platter and then I’m done. All the prep work was done yesterday. Nothing to do today but read my book and write this blog.

I don’t know that I’ll have time to snap photos of the food when it’s served up, it’s probably going to be pretty chaotic, so here’s what we’re having: Four courses—First course is shrimp cocktail and a cheese plate. Second course is stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. Third course is rack of lamb, stir-fried steak bites, and asparagus. Yes, it’s labor intensive. But nothing’s too good for my sweetie, who wants to entertain his bridge friends. The fourth and final course is stilton cheese, dark chocolate, and fresh raspberries.

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Monday, June 20

Day of the Dad

Fathers Day is one of the holidays WE traditionally host. In this case it’s good to be the eldest generation because the kids handle most of the holidays and we get to be guests. Being older does have its perks sometimes. The menu is always JJ’s choice. I made ribs, baked beans, and potato salad.  Everyone said the ribs were the best they’d ever had. I did them entirely in the oven because it was too hot to cook on the grill.




We had planned to have a picnic/barbecue but it was 95° so we stayed inside. We watched the U.S. Open and then we watched the Cavs trounce the Warriors. 


Savannah (8) and Papa had a silly staring contest with eyes closed. 


Savannah likes to watch Netflix in our room. She totally approves of the new bed.


We have had a cool, gloomy June. Until Friday when someone turned on the blast furnace. I adore cool foggy mornings but I have to say my mood noticeably lifted when the sun’s rays woke me up. Not that it was low to begin with.

I enjoy sitting out on the terrace with my morning espresso before the sun gets hot. Bliss.
 

In the absence of golf, I have been binge-watching Mr. Selfridge (PBS). What a great series! It’s a period piece, not unlike Downton Abbey, about a department store and the scandalous goings on among the staff at Selfridges Department Store in London in the early 1900s. Total fun.
 

The shoulder report is: GOOD! This round of PT is really helping. The therapist and I are both confident I’ll be able to play by mid-July, just in time for the dreaded hot weather. I can finally do things like pull up my knickers without searing pain. So things are looking up!

Saturday, June 11

Around Here

This old gal is still dealing with a sore rotator cuff, but I am back in physical therapy (oh the pain) and I expect to be able to tee it up again in mid-July. Gawd, I hope. Not only can I not play golf, I can’t push a quilt, so I have been filling my days doing other things. Things like watching movies on the big TV, and reading. Next week I want to start a new quilt, I can at least do the piecing now, and I can swing a golf club a little, so I can practice. Fingers are crossed that these activities go well and I’ll be off and running. I miss golf a lot, and I miss my golfing friends too.

I made more pillows for the couch. We like this couch (a sectional), but the red doesn’t work in this room, so the pillows help mitigate the red for now.

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We went to a few parties. One was on a boat. Here are a few of our pals, gathered on the bow. One of the best things about living among a bunch of fun neighbors is when you go to a party you know at least 75% of the people there and everyone is happy to see a familiar face, especially if you show up after they’ve had their first glass of wine.

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It was misty and gloomy in Newport Bay today. Look, a little regatta (there is a sailing academy here).

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The yacht once belonged to John Wayne. Now I wish I had taken a photo of the paintings of the Duke hanging in the salon. Oh well. He’s rather a celebrity in these parts, our airport is named for him. The Duke used to drink at the bar at Chez Cary, and he and JJ talked over drinks many times.

Oh look, someone got a photo.

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We got a new bed. Boy, did we need one. We think the old mattress was 15 years old. We inherited it when we bought the desert house, so we aren’t sure, and it wasn’t a great mattress to begin with. That’s kind of freaky in itself. It had some pretty deep indentations when we got done with it. We decided to get a split mattress because JJ likes to sleep propped up otherwise he gets acid reflux. He would use five pillows to prop himself up and fight with them all night long (ask me how I know).

This is not our bed, but our bed does this. It’s pretty cool. I like raising it up for reading or watching TV, but when it’s time to go to sleep I like to be flat. One touch of a button does it. Notice how high off the floor it is. Ours was so high I felt like I was sleeping on a perch. We had them come back and put shorter legs on it so the short person (that would be me) could get in and out easier. I could do it okay, but who knows in five years. They were more than willing to fix it. Now I can sit on the bed and have my feet touch the floor, and I don’t have to do the high jump to get in.

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Well it looks like we are getting low on wine so we’d better go to the store.

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Sunday, June 5

Fun and Friends

We had a few friends in this weekend. Our dear [old] friends Mike & Marty, who live in Paso Robles, were in town to take care of some tangled legal issues with her aging mother’s will, and they spent a few days with us. It was an impromptu visit and we had a nice, relaxing time together, playing cards and just hanging out together.

Mike and Jim share a passion for wine, and an appreciation of the finest wines. Here they are opening and tasting some luscious pinots and zins that Mike brought.

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Over on the other side of the island, Marty makes the salad.

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The best thing about friendships that span three decades is that you share so much history you are more than friends, and being together is like sliding into a pair of comfy slippers.

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We had a surprise visitor in the parsley. I discovered him when I was gathering rosemary for the gluten-free focaccia I made. JJ jettisoned him over the fence for me. You gotta wonder how he found his way into this pot.

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We love new friends too. This is Steve, a guy in my golf group. I introduced him to Holly, Michelle’s best friend, and they are having a great time together. So we had a little party to introduce everyone to each other. Steve is a jolly guy and we all approve. And we think Holly approves too.

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This is Holly, who is like a daughter to us. She and Michelle met at Chico State. They are “sisters from different misters.” They are lovely, wonderful kids and we are so proud of them both. Holly is vice president at Hallmark Channel, and Michelle is an entrepreneur with a successful business brokering electricity. Just look at those mega-watt smiles.

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We had a simple dinner of Pasta Four Ways. Holly is vegetarian so we had two kinds of sauce, one with meat and one without, and Michelle, Savannah, and I can’t do gluten, so we had two kinds of pasta. I managed to get one shot of the food, we had three antipasto platters—this meat one, and a pile of grilled zucchini, plus skewers of mini mozzarella and cherry tomatoes with basil and balsamic glaze that Holly brought.

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Now we have mountains of dishes to do and I need to turn the guest room back to a studio. But it’s all good.

Monday, May 23

Ob La Di

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on.

Thought I’d best check in lest anyone think I’ve floated away. I haven’t. I’m still standing.

I’ve been doing a lot of things, but not taking any pictures. What—a post without pictures? Almost!

Now here’s something completely different. They came to measure the floor to see where the slab has torqued. Why? Well, if you remember, things are slipping, pulling the walls away from the floor and ceiling here and there.

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It’s called a manometer. Definition: An instrument for measuring the pressure acting on a column of fluid, with a U-shaped tube of liquid in which a difference in the pressures acting in the two arms of the tube causes the liquid to reach different heights in the two arms.

It appealed to my science-nerdness and I was completely curious. It’s actually a very simple concept, being that water seeks its own level. The water in the reservoir and hose is a constant. On the other end of the hose is a rod with a tube, and when the rod is touched to the floor, the water will go up or down if the floor is higher or lower in that spot. And then you get a map of the entire floor. Or, more correctly, the slab beneath.

It’s just another step in the ongoing saga of the five houses on our street whose slabs have torqued. No, it’s not fixed yet. Yes, they’re going to. It’s the when that’s impossible to pin down. Eventually.

In other news, my shoulder seems to be a little better this week. I wish I could say it was a lot better, but it’s a little better, at least I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m going to start physical therapy again. PT is seriously painful and I had to take some time off because my shoulder doesn’t like it one bit (read: I couldn’t take it no more). It likes better to do nothing at all, to be luxuriously perched on a pillow like a pampered pet. But that isn’t the best thing for it in the long run. Amazing how long it takes for something like this to heal. A broken bone would have healed by now (six weeks). Picture from Facebook: I miss my golf clubs. Seriously.

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Our little neighborhood of 50 Del Webb homes (there are 286 residences in the geezer community) held a potluck party yesterday. We usually do a thing in the street on warm summer evenings, but this time we held a brunch. There used to be a big welcome center here, and now that the developers have moved on to greener pastures it has been turned into a big party room. It comes equipped with big round tables and chairs to seat 100, a commercial kitchen, and the big doors open up to comfy outdoor seating under the umbrellas. What a nice gift from the developers. We had about 70-80 people, and we had bloody marys, fruits, endless pastries and endless egg dishes (all with bread in them of course), ham, sausages, but NO BACON! Still, the brunch was fabulous.

After brunch our friends Tom & Deborah from Carlsbad came to look at the house two doors down that is going up for sale in a few days. Everyone on our street knew they were coming and wanted to meet the potential new neighbors. Our next door neighbors actually showed up at our door and the impromptu party was terrific fun. But I don’t think they will be buying that house because it’s way overpriced—yes it has a lot of upgrades, but you can’t put a price on upgrades, houses are only worth what the current market is worth, at least in California. And, as Deborah so aptly put it, why should we pay a premium for stuff we don’t care about. But other houses will become available over time. We are so grateful to live here. Everyone is.

That’s pretty much all the news. I haven’t spent much time in the studio—my shoulder was so painful I couldn’t even draw—but I’m going to start up again now. I think. I hope. But I’ve read a couple books, and I’ve watched a lot of basketball and a few new series (amazon prime) on our new TV. Things that I ordinarily wouldn’t have time for.

So all is well. Life is good.

Wednesday, May 11

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

We downsized quite a bit when we moved into our new digs, and some of the furniture is too big for the house. Like this piece, for example:

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When we bought it we needed something to fill up the huge, cavernous great room. But in this house it’s about 110% too big for the room. It dwarfs the space.

That, and it only houses a small TV. JJ loves to watch sports on TV, and we often sit in the [tiny] bedroom watching the larger TV, sitting only a few inches away from it. So I said, Look. Why not just fix the problem already. Watching sports is one of your greatest pleasures in life and life is short. Get a new damn TV.

So we put a new TV on the wish list and it recently came to the top of the list. But making the change seemed like an unsurmountable task. Where to start?

First we had to get rid of “The Brown Monstah” as I call it. We took color photos around to the three big consignment shops in the area and they all said sorry, not interested, nobody wants them anymore. Figures. So we called Salvation Army, and if you know anything at all about how this works, you know that you have to put your donation curbside. But they relented when we told them we are old.

But when they got here and saw the size of the thing they had to move they said, “No Seenyore, uh-uh. No way. Hasta la vista.” Then JJ got hot and looked like he was going to pop a vein and they said, “Okay, okay Meester, we take it.”

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If this thing makes it there in one piece, I’ll be surprised.

But it’s gone. Bye bye. We also sent the TV, but the audio components were old and didn’t really work.

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We shopped online at potterybarn.com and found this. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but it works and we had some coupons and free shipping, so this is what we got.

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We called cousin John to come put it in. John does great work. He is expensive, but very efficient, thorough, and neat. He knows his stuff and does it right. And you can call him any time, day or night, if you forget how to turn it on.

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Here it is in it’s new home. It is hooked up to the internet and I can get all sorts of music and videos. The new receiver/amplifier is great and we have for-real surround-sound now. and a subwoofer that works. What a difference—ohmygosh it’s fantastic! And just in time for basketball finals.

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