Tuesday, April 15



We went up to the new digs today to go over a few things with the foreman. He read through his list of upgrades to make everything was correct.

He showed us where this pipe goes, where that vent goes, HVAC system, sprinkler system, trusses, joists, and he explained how a house is built without load-bearing walls or posts. It was very interesting.

There is a lot of paper and plastic that goes into a house these days. Copper pipe is a thing of the past. It’s red or blue poly plastic pipes for hot and cold water. I guess when you think about it, plastic is probably better because it doesn’t corrode.  IMG_1109

They put up the outside styrofoam stuff and chickenwire, and it is starting to look like a house. Two coats of stucco will be sprayed onto the surface you see here. 007-001

We have windows now, too! Tomorrow they will put in the pink insulation and the next day the drywall goes up. The foreman said it will really go fast after that.

Here’s a peek at our street. 004

Friday, April 11

Whine on Wine-Waiting Woes

And other Winey anecdotes.

This has been my week—waiting for wine. You may already know this, but J is a wine collector. He started this hobby when we lived on the Central Coast, in wine country, and the house we lived in had a proper wine cellar.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of that beautiful cellar, or the beautiful wine, older photos have all been put on disk, which are currently in a box in a storage warehouse, in a galaxy far away.

But here is the story. J got into wines, he became a wine snob (a good thing), and he started an enviable collection. We even went to France and Italy for wine, and he has some bottles of French Bordeaux worth over $1,000 each. He didn’t pay that for them, but that’s what they’ve become worth in the decade he has stored them.

Then he got that weird illness and we moved to the desert. We had to buy a wine fridge to store the wine in, and it is full. So he has had to quit most of the wine clubs, except for two he can’t bear to let go of, Talley and Kosta Browne, which you can’t find and you can no longer join their clubs—they’re closed to new members. So they’re exclusive, and J has stayed with them. They make lovely, exquisite wine. Not that we drink it, mind you, we just tend it. We drink supermarket wine like everybody else.

At one point we were members of way too many wine clubs, and I miss those wonderful wines that came twice a year, spring and fall, but storing the wine has become a hassle. Case in point: Last summer, two days before we were to leave for the coast for 6 weeks, I noticed the temperature on the wine fridge was climbing. By the hour. J was out on an errand, then we got busy, and I forgot all about it.

Until that night. Just as I was drifting off to sleep I remembered. “J, wake up! I almost forgot to tell you, the temperature in your wine fridge is 70!” (Wine likes to be 55-ish.) In full panic mode, we took the wine out of the fridge and turned down the AC. Remember, it was summer, with daytime temps in the triple digits, and nights not much cooler. Even when we were gone we set the thermostat at 93, but that is not cool enough for wine or any other living thing. It’s a hostile environment out there. 

The next morning, a Sunday, J got the wine into storage (I did nothing, J and the wine guy did all the work) and all was well. Eleventh-hour disaster averted! We eventually got the empty wine fridge repaired, and when we move into the new house the wine will come home. Temperatures are much lower at the new digs, by the way, so the fridge won’t have to work as hard. Sidebar: Our garage fridge died, too. We lost three refrigerators out there. Anyway, when we came to the coast last month, we moved the wine from the storage vault in the desert to one in The OC. You may remember I came up with that idea when faced with the prospect of schlepping many cases of wine up 24 stairs.

Okay, so that’s the backstory, what’s it got to do with this week? Well, we have been waiting for a shipment since Monday. It was sent to the old address in HOT La Quinta by mistake, it got put back on the truck, brought here to the coast, then the delivery man couldn’t get past the gate (unknown to us), and, finally, after several phone calls and tracking SNAFUs, we have located the wine and it is to be delivered today. We have been house-bound waiting for this delivery each day for four days.

Which all boils down to this: I have nothing to report for the week except a good case of Cabin Fever. We did get an invite to go on a pre-drywall house tour next week, the general contractor offered to show us the wiring and plumbing et al that will eventually be hidden behind the walls, so if we have any problem in the future we’ll know where to look. That’s the idea, anyway. He obviously doesn’t know who he’s dealing with, LOL.

Life is short. Drink your wine!

Sunday, April 6

Beautiful SoCo

(South Coast.) For lack of a more creative title.

We had a great week—albeit a lot of down time in the apartment because it has been COLD here, but we got out and about.

We went to the Padres’ Opening Day at Petco Park. Free hats!DSCF1288

Petco Park is a beautiful ballpark, and it’s right downtown, which I love, and it’s easy to get to and from. Below, the military is bringing out the American flag. There must have been 250 of them. DSCF1292

Because it’s a really big flag! The Padres lost to the Dodgers, but it was a good game and we had a great time. DSCF1295

We briefly considered living in a high-rise downtown because we both think it would be really neat to live IN a city and be close to the theater, restaurants, etc, but, in reality, we’re a little old for that. I think it fits better if you’re in your 40s, working, and upwardly mobile. The prices were reasonable enough (and the views to die for), but the HOA fees were astronomical: Like $3,000/mo. No lie. No way.

We went to see the Patriot Tour, with Marcus Luttrell and some of his Navy SEAL pals. Marcus was the guy who wrote, and was depicted in, the movie Lone Survivor. Here’s Marcus—I snapped this photo sans flash with my phone—it turned out pretty good considering it was dark and he wouldn’t hold still. 095

Now, Marcus just stands up and tells the horrifying story of how Operation Redwing really went down; in his own words. He told how the Hollywood version doesn’t come close to capturing the intensity of the event, and, having heard him describe it in vivid detail, I could understand why. He is one tough dude, but he’s also a very humble man. And extremely lucky to be alive. Extremely. We met other wounded heroes as well, and there were more standing ovations than you could count. Powerful stuff.

Next up, we took a ride up to The OC to see the house; on a beautiful SoCal spring Sunday.

Below, the garage and front door. IMG_1104

Below is the dining room, and the dark angular shape at the bottom right will be the island. You can see our view, and when we get some grasses planted you won’t see those rooftops below. We didn’t get a slider door there because it would have cost several thousand bucks and there is a door on the right side. IMG_1106

Looking back at the house, this shows the covered patio. It faces southwest and catches the ocean breezes. It will be sunny in winter and shady in summer. The dining room window is to the right, and at the right edge of the shot is the bedroom door opening. We got a big double slider there. IMG_1110

It was fun and exciting to walk around inside it, partly because the model is reversed so everything feels backward. It’s SMALL! Yikes! Well, as someone told me, we’ll live outside more. Good. Oh, and it’s so quiet there…

Sunday, March 30

At The Beach

I did a little redecorating here at the Pages, it was time to let go of the desert/golf image in favor of something more like Orange County (“The OC”). These are the hills east of San Juan Capistrano.

But today we are “AT” the beach. We are in Leucadia, which is part of Encinitas, which is part of North County, which is part of San Diego.Capture

I am sitting where the red marker is in the lower right. The Coast Highway (PCH) is where the aqua pushpin is, and the railroad tracks are marked by the green pushpin, which means we hear the railroad much more than we hear the ocean. We can’t see the ocean at all.

When we go walking we have to trudge up a hill to a long, one-way road that runs behind the first row of beach houses. You can barely get a peek at the ocean for the walls between the mansions. DSCF1278

We see some cool houses here. We see a lot of houses that were built in the post-war era—some, like the one above, have been restored. You could buy this house for about 4 million.

But if you bought it, you’d probably tear it down.DSCF1277

Because the house is worthless. The land is what’s expensive. You’d tear down the 2000 square foot bungalow and put in something like this. If you can afford 4 mil for the lot, you can build the house for a million-plus, so it’s no big deal really. DSCF1276

Now, the above house is on the inland side of Neptune Ave, so it’s only worth about 2.5 million. The beachfront houses block the view, but if you build it high enough, you can see over the houses in front of you.

Of course, if you don’t have that kind of dough, you’ll have to get creative. Rooftop seating can be had for under $50 at Target.DSCF1286


It’s good to have a reminder of what the beach was once like.

Here’s something you don’t see every day; we must be getting close to a beach access point.






We are at the end of the road. This staircase leads to the ocean. There is a [free] parking lot behind me, very nice. We don’t go all the way down because then we’d have to climb all the way back up. We have enough stairs to climb back at the apartment. But we’ve gotten used to going up stairs and now it’s nothing. Roar!


That’s our little walk, it takes about 45 minutes up and back.

Thursday, March 27

Granite Update

Here’s how the granite SNAFU ended.

After several emails back and forth with our design person (she never returns the call), we were told that we could only select from FOUR pre-selected granites, that all others were off-limits. Wha? You didn’t tell us this before we wasted a whole day on this exercise…exercise in futility, that is. How ridiculous is that.  

So, of the four, I present the one we went initially to see and said no to…


I mean, ICK! PFFT! Can you imagine? Whose idea is THIS!

The other one was the purple-y one, which a lot of you liked, but I thought it might be a TAD overwhelming, especially before my morning coffee.

Long story short, thwarted and miffed, we went back to our original selection, which we were okay with—not overjoyed, mind you, but okay with—before we tried to get creative.

Here it is. Good ol’ safe mottled brown. It works. And we saved $7000.


We looked at Silestone—engineered stone—but that stuff just looks dead to me! It’s kind of creepy. Jim likes it even less.


We’ve stalled off the design center (it’s the least we could do) on our final decision until Sunday, because we may decide to go up there to play touchy-feely with the Silestone samples before we commit.

I have one more thing to tell you: DON’T EVER GET THIS! 001

It is the absolute worst piece of crap—whoever designed this ought to be fired. The water shoots out like a high-pressure washer and splashes everywhere, no matter how gently you try to ease it on. I have seen this at Lowe’s and Home Depot recently, and on the REMOTE chance that you are thinking of upgrading your plumbing and this caught your fancy, RUN!

Just a little public service message from Rian’s Pages. Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 25

The Slab Yard

We took a trip up to Anaheim to select the granite for our kitchen. We had two choices at the design center—a murky grayish pink that looked like vomit, or Uba Tuba, which is black with opalescent flecks. We turned our noses up at both of them, which meant we had to go further afield to find one. And at additional expense, I might add.

The slab yard. There were almost too many to choose from—this is just one row. 001

We had initially chosen something called Mascarello from a tiny sample at the design center. When they “held up” the full slab (below) for us to see, we both went “yuck.” Cool how they do it though, huh.


So we meandered through the yard and narrowed our favorites down to five. We’ve perched our elbows on a lot of different granite over the years and we’ve grown bored with the typical brown fleck, and of course we want something different, something we’ve never had before.

This piece, Nascarado, knocked our socks off. But it’s a lot more expensive (we don’t know how much more yet) because it’s quartzite. It looks like a painting and has wonderful, subtle colors throughout.Nascarado

This one, Aurora Borealis, is fabulous but my feeling was it might be too dark against the brown cabinets (see bottom photo). Those swirls really are purple—huge wow factor. 004

This one is called Golden Crystal and we both like it even though it’s brown, but it’s got character, and it’s affordable. (The dark part is the reflection of the building behind me.) Golden Crystal

I went ape over this one, Taj Mahal, but Jim didn’t like it. And it’s quartzite, so it’s more delicate AND more expensive. But OOH! So unusual. Taj Majal

Finally, this one, Tortuga, caught our eye. It’s definitely a contender. I love the subtle greens. It’s ART!Tortuga

As long as we were up in The OC, we went by the new house. It was a gray, drizzly day and I only had my Point ‘n Pray camera, but here is a shot (from the moving car) of the community of Sendero in Rancho Mission Viejo. it reminds me of an amphitheater the way it’s shaped. The red arrow points to our house.

013b copy 

We couldn’t go up to the lot because they were working, but we’ll get up there on a weekend soon. This is a shot from the design center. Yes, they do build them close together in southern California, but we’re used to it.

015a copy

You are welcome to weigh in on the granite, please feel free! In fact, I’d appreciate your opinion. Below is a pretty fair (color) representation of the cabinets and backsplash. That little square was the granite sample—it looks nothing like the slab.

Cabinet and backsplash


Saturday, March 15

Life’s a Beach

I couldn’t resist that.

But it is. I was driving up PCH (Pacific Coast Highway 101) yesterday and I was giddy with joy at being back at the coast. It feels like I have come home.


We fixed the bed, which sags (badly), we put a row of three pillows in the middle and now we are sleeping much better (and waking up with fewer aches and pains). One side is worse than the other so we take turns.

We found out that our house will be done sooner than expected—mid-June vs. end-July—that was a nice surprise. And if our planets align just right, the owner of this condo will be able to rent it out in July and we can avoid paying [$$$] rent for that month. It’s possible he could get three times as much for it in July, so he has an incentive to try.

I researched golf clubs in The OC, and looky what I found:


It’s three miles from my new house. How cool is that. Can’t wait!


We have been watching the fifth and final season of Breaking Bad. We are hooked on this show! If you haven’t seen it, or want to watch it again, it’s on Netflix. It’s about a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher who turned to cooking meth to provide for his family when he found out he has terminal cancer. Which went into remission, but he kept on cooking and became a real badass.


The builder of our new house has a cool interactive website where you can put your furniture in place and see how it will fit. That’s how we knew what to keep and what to get rid of. I turned the picture so it would fit in the space better.


Everything [that we kept] fits perfectly. The teal chair is not outside the house, the wall is the middle dotted line, we got the two-foot extension. I put the buffet inside the hall closet but it might fit in the hall.