Monday, October 24

The Big News Is

It. Is. Raining!

Good thing I rescheduled golf from today (Monday) to Wednesday. Pretty smart cookie I am. Our "golf commissioner" said he doubted it would actually rain, but we are getting a good soaking, complete with lightening and thunder, which happens maybe once in 10 or 15 years in coastal southern California. But I'm hunkered down inside, not going anywhere until golf on Wednesday. 

JJ got me an iPad Air for my birthday--which was three months ago, but we don't generally buy each other birthday and Christmas gifts, we get what we want/need when we want/need it, and we stick to a budget so we can afford to take once-in-a-lifetime trips a few times a year.

Which is what we are doing soon (more on that in a minute). So JJ asked me if I was taking the laptop on the cruise, and I said I didn't think so because it's a hassle to deal with at the airport and internet at sea is painstakingly slow. It's sometimes good off the ship in the port terminal, but you can't count on it. So off we went to Best Buy--I already knew exactly what I wanted and they had it in stock. It's an iPad Air.

Man, is it sweet. It is a for-real computer and comes with word processing and spreadsheet software. Unlike my Dell PC laptop, where I had to add ($) a word processing program. And if you can't figure out how to do something, like turn off the bluetooth or set the alarm for example, you can ask Siri to do it. Siri will write a note or schedule an appointment with a reminder, you don't have to type in anything. You can ask it where is a drycleaner or if you will need an umbrella today.

I love technology. Seriously. I'm glad I lived long enough to see all this cool new stuff. I still need my Kindle, because that's where all my books are, and Kindle doesn't share very well with iStuff as far as I know.

We are leaving on a cruise this week. Not a glamour cruise, but a transatlantic crossing, a "repositioning" cruise. Every fall they take the cruise ships to warmer waters (and back in spring) like the Caribbean or South America. People like to go south in winter to get warm and cruise the tranquil, turquoise waters of the tropics.

Because on a repo cruise you spend most of your trip at sea and not in exotic ports, which cost the cruise line big bucks to dock and they pass this expense on to the customer, the price is rather reasonable. Not exactly rock-bottom, but a good value. They are still feeding you and making your bed every day, and shaking your martinis and entertaining you in the evenings.

We are going with our friends Bill & Sarah, who we met on a transpacific cruise last year. I can't find the pictures...I'd ask Siri but I haven't loaded any pictures onto iPad yet. Anyway, these are our Dallas friends, and they invited us to go with them. We will play bridge every day while crossing the Atlantic, which takes 6 or 7 days, and nobody has to cook or do dishes or make a bed for 15 days. We do get a few overnights in port, notably Boston and New York City.

This is Celebrity Eclipse, a sister ship to the Millenium that we were on a few years ago. 

Blu, one of the many dining options onboard.

Wine cellar. 

Martini Bar.

World Class Bar. I like the sound of that. 

I haven't decided for sure yet but I'm considering not taking my big camera, instead using the camera in my cellphone--the iPad has a camera too, and it might be fun to experiment with. There won't be a whole lot to capture out there on the high seas anyway. 

This week we are packing and getting some grooming services done. We fly out Friday evening, arriving in London mid-morning Saturday. Our friends arrive from Dallas around the same time and we will go directly to the ship, where we have been invited to a sailaway party at 5. See you when I get back! 

Sunday, October 16

You'd Never Know

We are completely back to normal around here. All the construction and touch-up is finished and the house professionally cleaned and polished. JJ is back to playing bridge and I am back to playing golf.

Today you would never know they had been here or the extent of the project. They pretty much had to rebuild the frame and secure the interior walls to it.

I thought I'd show you a little B&A (Before and After). I got the big camera working again. The battery had started to swell and I couldn't get it out of the compartment without a tool (paring knife). It too is all better now. Wish I could say the same for my golf game. 

This is one of the corners of the office, which was the room that was pulled up from the slab. It lifted about 3/8" from the floor.

They had to cut all the walls away so they could re-bolt it to the slab.

And they had to re-hang the doors and straighten and lower the jambs.

Here is the finished wall today. 

This was one of many ceiling corners. 

They have drilled into the new frame and bolted the walls to it. 

Here it is today.

This was the shower enclosure before. The whole thing pulled away from the ceiling.



We're so glad to get this behind us. We were at a party last night and our neighbors are all nervous because their turn is coming. 

Now I can work on a new quilt project and my golf game. 

Thursday, October 6


My planets are not aligned today. 

There is a lot of activity in the house today--I think there must be 10 or 15 contractors here. So I got my for-real camera out to take some proper photos but it wouldn't turn on. Dead. Hmmm, must be the battery. I have two others, so I put in another battery and no dice. I went to put in battery #3, but battery #2 seems to be stuck in the camera. Sigh. Fugeddabout it. So these photos come from my phone. We are sequestered in the studio today, and for something to do I decided to make a blog but my blog-writer program wouldn't open. Oh, bother. 

There are so many trucks on our street this morning I joked that we were going to have to get valet parking. Geezers on their morning walks stop to ask what the heck is going on in there. We should post a sign explaining it.

We've got drywallers to patch the cracks.

Painters of course.

We've even got guys to straighten and true-up the door jambs. These guys are real artisans. They see things we don't see.

We've got master carpenters. They work in the attic. But I have seen pictures; there is three days worth of lumber up there. 

This is the insulation being blown in (returned to) the attic. 

And last, but not least, we've got Moe. Moe is the ambassador who comes every day to organize the team and soothe the homeowner's ruffled feathers, laugh at their jokes, etc. He returns at the end of the workday (around 3:00) to give us the plan for tomorrow and make sure everything is cleaned up. 

They are scheduled to be finished tomorrow (Friday). After a walk-through inspection, the cleaning crew will arrive. It will be so good to be done with all this and not have to get up and move the cars out of the garage. These guys show up ready to go at 7:45. They are all great guys, hard workers and very conscientious, and very good at what they do.

Saturday, October 1

Two Things I Know for Sure

One, if we ever have a hurricane this house will still be standing while all the others in the neighborhood will be rubble.

Two, insulation really makes a difference and I will never buy a new house again.

Not much has changed except the calendar month. It’s October!!! Wheee! I dig October because it means cooler days ahead.

Okay, that’s the good news. Let’s dig right in to the happenings around here. Where to start…

This is a section of the wall of our office, it’s the room that lifted off the floor about a quarter of an inch. It’s Ground Zero. They removed a section like this around the entire room so they could tighten the bolts back down to the slab. They had actually pulled loose. That was some wind! There is still a tiny gap between the floor and the baseboards. I am very concerned about the floor when they pull up the tape, tape is not kind to this particular floor. We had to have the floor repaired 4 or 5 times when we first moved in and when they pulled up the tape…well. This time I’m ready for ‘em and loaded for bear if there are tape marks.


Moving right along, they have started to repair the drywall. I guess this is progress. The drywallers were supposed to come back today (Saturday) to finish this job but something happened and they left the place a mess for us to live in all weekend. There is shit everywhere and we are not happy. Ordinarily these guys are really good guys—all-stars—but the drywall gang? Not so much.


I can’t show you pictures of the attic although it’s tempting to climb up there to see, we had framers in the attic for 2—or was it 3—days, pounding. Supposedly they built a new frame on top of the existing frame and fastened the trusses to it with the proper clips (see my previous post if you’re interested).

They had to remove the insulation in order to get to the bare…wood? Who knows what’s up there. They brought this awful machine to suck the insulation out of the attic and it made a horrendous noise and smell like a gang of Harleys in the garage. The smell of diesel gave me a piercing headache for two days.


That’s a shitload of insulation and we can really tell it’s gone because the house gets very hot during the day. I thought about feeling sorry for the framers working up there, but…nah.


Once they got the frame in place they had to fasten the ceiling to it. There nail holes like this on EVERY SINGLE interior wall.



Lovely, isn’t it. Said no one ever.


This particular corner wall, the wall to the right is the office and the wall to the left is an exterior wall, so when the office lifted up it took this piece with it. You expect some settling cracks with a new build but this wall is riddled with them.


All in all, the guys are very conscientious, but I am ready to turn the page to a new chapter. My patience has run out. They say one more week, but you know how that goes. Then there are the painters and a cleaning crew.

Other’n that, we’re good! We are healthy, anyway.

Thursday, September 22

House Disrepair

As you may know, we moved into a brand-spankin’ new home a couple years ago. This is the third brand-spankin’ new home we have bought in our career as grownups. I didn’t think anything could have been worse than our first one, where there had been a labor dispute during the final phase (which was where our house was of course), the experienced contractors walked off the job, and the builder had to hire anyone he could get to finish the houses on our street. As a result, a lot of the finish work was horrible. Ours was mostly cosmetics, poor cleanup, and water damage (it was an El Niño year), but nothing as serious as our next door neighbor, who had a two-story house, took a bath and when she pulled the plug she discovered that the drain was not connected to anything and all the bathwater ran through the floor to the dining room below, ruining their family heirloom dining furniture. The tub only went halfway through the hole in the floor/ceiling, so I guess they were lucky in that respect.

There are a million stories like this in California, mainly because production houses are built wiki-wiki and with the cheapest materials possible, and a lot of contractors are skinny, hard-drinking, dubious dudes. The houses aren’t worth a shit, it’s the dirt lot they sit on that is where the steep prices come from. Location, location, location. In our case, we have a 2200 square foot house and the price tag was around a million. That’s about $485 per square foot. Unbelievable, huh.

So here we are, two-plus years later, and our house is coming apart at the seams. No, really.

Last fall, as in most years, we had a powerful Santa Ana wind and it felt like the walls were being blown in by the Big Bad Wolf. As it turns out, they were.

Because of these winds and the fact that the hills are alive here, houses are built to be flexible. Slabs torque, walls move, earthquakes happen, it’s all part of the magic that is California. Bear with me. After many months and various engineers and experts crawling around our house, I finally have a grasp on what and why this happened. But first, pictures.

This is the first spot we noticed where the wall separated from the ceiling.



Then we saw more and more places like this. It was scary because we didn’t know how much bigger it would get. As it turned out, this was about it. But still—holy shit!


Then the wall started lifting from the floor, or maybe the floor was dropping down, we didn’t know. We put the coins in there to show scale.


We even had cracks outside. Yikes!

We had more engineers and specialists in here than you could imagine. No one really knew what they were up against, and no one wanted to assume responsibility ($$). Who messed up? Was it the slab guys? The framers? The farmers?


And then we learned some of our neighbors were having similar cracks, but we were the only ones whose floor was falling. So we were what you might call ground zero.

Speaking of ground zero, this really is it. The attic. Sort of makes me think of the movie Poltergeist.


Are you still with me? We have learned that the fault lies in the trusses. What’s a truss? I am so glad you asked! Truss 101, coming up! No! Not that kind of truss! Please!



THIS kind!  The trusses are fastened tightly to the exterior walls. But not the interior walls, which divide the rooms, are not load-bearing, and are supposed to remain in place when something makes the house move (earthquake, wind, big bad wolf). When they are installed correctly. Which they weren’t.


In a nutshell, when the house moved with the wind, it took the interior walls with it. Capisce?

Here’s how it looks today. Pictures are worth 1,000 words.




They are literally unbuilding the house. We are in day four of a three-day job, and my guess is they’re barely at the halfway point.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your stewardess speaking... We regret any inconvenience the sudden cabin movement might have caused, this is due to periodic air pockets we encountered, there's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your flight... By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?”

Saturday, September 17

Just More Golf Stuff

Probably pretty boring for you. But it’s what I have been doing outside of reading and cooking and taking care of house/home. Oh, and a few parties. We party a lot around here, that’s for sure. Once a week it seems.

First up, I played in a golf tournament and our team won. By a mile. I was teamed up with my so-called “Kinda sorta future son-in-law maybe,” Steve, who is in my golf group—I introduced him to my stepdaughter Michelle’s best friend Holly, whom I have known since she was a kid, and who I adore. They have been dating (do they still call it that?) and having fun for about six months. Happy, happy.

Anyway, back to my golf story. We played what’s called a scramble, where everyone hits their ball from the tee and then the team (usually 4 but we were 3) decides whose ball landed in the best position then everyone hits their next ball from that spot. They keep choosing the best position to hit from until the ball is holed out. It’s a fun team experience. Back to Steve: Steve hits the ball a ton—an eye-popping distance.  Needless to say we hit his ball most of the time. It would take me at least two strokes, maybe three, to get where his ball lies in one. The other guy on our team, he was great on approach shots, so he did his part, and we strategized that I, the weakest player, would putt first so they could read the line. Well, pretty much most all of my long putts went in the hole. It was crazy! We couldn’t believe it. We shot  64! I was the scorekeeper and I remarked how much fun it was recording 3s and 4s instead of 5s and 6s. We had only one bogey all day. Nobody else could believe it either, so we had to convince them it was an honest score. The prize was a box of balls and a golf cap, both courtesy of TaylorMade where one of our member’s sons works, plus bragging rights. Here’s a picture of Steve:



That evening we had our annual golf dinner (lasagna and garlic bread—which I couldn’t eat [gluten] and I was starving), and I left my phone home because I wouldn’t be using it, not even thinking of its camera. Oh well. Trust me when I say we had a great day and a fun evening. The weather was absolutely perfect.

The week before, I played with my gal pals at Arroyo Trabuco. There had been a fire the day before and it was still smoldering, so I got out my phone, which has usurped my worthless camera which has been shelved. Here are photos:




Sad, isn’t it. They say it was started by a golfer who hit a rock with a golf club and it made a spark. We all thought a discarded cigar was more likely, but I suppose the rock thing could happen if the golfer was hitting out of the rough, it’s pretty dry out there. And often windy.


You can tell it’s fall around here because football is dominating the TV. During the week, the political news keeps us entertained. It’s a crazy election.

Friday, September 2

End of Summer Wrap-up

August has slipped away and we are at the threshold of Autumn. Although here in the southwest Autumn is really only a date on the calendar, because September and even October are some of our hottest months. And even November, if we get a lot of Santa Anas. When most of North America enjoys a nip in the air and the first snowfall, we are still wearing sunscreen and white sandals.

I don’t have a lot to report for August, but I did want to report that all is well with JJ and me. I’m still here. I got beyond my shoulder tendinitis and returned to golf, which made me very happy. I pretty much sat on my can for the four months I was dealing with that, which means I put on some weight and man is it hard to take off!! Mornings have been cooler lately so I have been able to walk around the hood in Geezerville and get my heart pumping. It’s hard to get motivated to get out there, but once I do, it feels GOOD! And I have more energy throughout the day. All I have to do is lace up my sneakers and step outside.

I didn’t do a damn thing in the studio, either. It was hard to push a quilt with my painful shoulders, which is where the push/pull is generated from, and my vision is less than ideal when doing close work, which is what I do when I do it, not to mention I use invisible thread. I have a magnifying gizmo on my machine and my reading glasses are 3.25 these days. Distance vision is pretty good, but I can’t see detail up close. It’s very hard to describe.

IMG_2885 copy

Anyway, I’m going to give making some art a go. I have some ideas and plenty of fabric, and I’m out of excuses.

So what did I do in August? Well, I watched a lot of Olympics. Actually my husband did, he loves anything with a score in it, and Track & Field is his favorite of favorites. He has a lot of favorites when it comes to sports, and the Summer Olympics only comes once every four years, so he was glued. Mostly I watched it by osmosis, looking at the TV as I passed through the room, only actively watching the gymnastics, which was captivating. I held my breath during the balance beam routines.

We went to a summer concert in Carlsbad and all the little girls were doing backflips and cartwheels. I told Savannah about it and of course she had to show me she could do them better than anybody. That girl spends as much time upside down as she does upside up. The rodeo was in town last week and we had the fam & friends over for a post-rodeo barbecue on the terrace Saturday.

We had a fire in Silverado Canyon, near where I play golf, and I took a photo of it to show JJ because he said it was not smoke, just clouds. They got the fire out within a 24-hour period. There is so little water left that our golf courses are no longer allowed to water. This is the first hole at Tijeras Creek, and it looks pretty good, but there were way too many bare spots out there. I think brown dead grass is the wave of the future. It is already like that in Palm Springs, only the tees and greens are green, the rest is ugly brown. Doesn’t help the homeowners real estate values any. These are some mega-expensive homes.


Right before I tore up my shoulder (April) I took some pictures of the prickly pear cactus blooming on #16 at Tijeras Creek. Now that I am back, the flowers have come and gone and we are left with the prickly pears. These will turn purple and get big and juicy, like a plum. Stay tuned. You could pick them but they have hair-like prickers on them that you can’t see but you can feel. Ask me how I know. I wonder why they don’t call them prickly plum cactus.


I have also been caught up in the political news. Every day more and more secrets about HRC’s emails are revealed and it is really interesting! I don’t discuss politics here on The Pages, and I am neither a republican nor a democrat. Not officially, anyway, but if you must know, I lean toward conservatism, and I don’t favor either of the candidates. But it is SO interesting! JJ has long been a political junkie but I wouldn’t say that applied to me until lately. But now I’m hooked!

One more thing: My cyber-friend Mary recently blogged about traveling vicariously through other people’s blogs and she showed some photos from Italy. Well, here is one more Mary, I took it last November. I bet you can guess where.