Friday, September 30

Overseeding or Why Desert Golf is so $pendy

It’s autumn, and time to change the grass. Huh?

Golf courses in the desert use two kinds of grass. Bermuda in the summer, Rye in the winter. Why? Because each grass is finicky. Bermuda loves heat. The hotter the better. But when the days start getting shorter, the Bermuda turns brown and dies off, just like deciduous trees turn colors and drop their leaves. You can still play on it, but you wouldn’t enjoy it and golf courses couldn’t charge the ridiculous prices they do. So they put rye grass seeds down, and the rye grass will live until it heats up again.

This Bermuda is starting to turn brown. Look—some idiot did not sand his divot. Tsk.
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But it doesn’t really die, it goes dormant. It’s sleeping under there. The gardeners have been busy taking up the dead Bermuda so they can lay down the rye. It’s like raking leaves. The lighter green areas will soon be lush green, and the moguls will turn golden brown.
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Just look at all this dead grass! It’s stinky. We do get clouds. Rain, too.
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This is what it will look like in about a month, when the course reopens for the season. It’s nice to hit from that lush green grass. The brown stuff, not so much. It’s scratchy like straw. The ball behaves unpredictably, and not in a good way.
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In the spring, the Bermuda will wake up and everything will turn green, and the Rye grass will die forever. And, because they took out the dead stuff last fall, the fairways will be fresh, healthy, and not thick. You still want to stay away from those moguls, though.
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As a golfer, I knew about overseeding because every golf course closes down for a month right about now, but I didn’t understand it completely until I lived here. So now you know, too.

Wednesday, September 28

Let’s Cook Greek Tonight

Do you like Greek food? Where you live you are probably getting into fall weather, but here in the desert we are just beginning to emerge to the outdoors.

This is my recipe for Souvlaki. It’s very easy. You can make it with beef, lamb or chicken. It is healthy and won’t hurt your diet.

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First you have to marinate the chicken (in the fridge) for a few hours:

In a zip bag:
boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS white wine
juice of one lemon
fresh or dried oregano
Greek seasoning
finely chopped garlic, as much or as little as you like

Meanwhile, make the tzatziki:
Greek yogurt (plain, low-fat—Voskos is a good brand)
1 cucumber- peeled, seeded and shredded, and the water squeezed out
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
a little drizzle of olive oil

For the salad:
Romaine lettuce
red onion, thinly sliced
Greek olives
Feta cheese crumbles
tomatoes, chopped
green pepper, thinly sliced (we can’t tolerate them so they were omitted)

I dressed the salad with a little fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. That’s all.

Grill the chicken, pile on the salad, and serve with the tzatziki and pita bread. I brush the pita with olive oil and grill it with the chicken. Serve with a crisp, dry chardonnay. Clos de Bois is a good choice.

Shopping list: BS chicken, olive oil, white wine, Greek (or kalamata) olives, oregano, Greek seasoning, pita bread, Greek yogurt, Feta cheese, garlic, 1 cucumber, 1 lemon, red onion, Romaine lettuce, Roma tomato, green bell pepper.

OPA!

Friday, September 23

My Back Yard

Sunset. It is so beautiful here. Sure, it was 110 degrees today, but that’s what air conditioning is for.
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Another look, through the pepper trees…
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I don’t miss the central coast weather, but I do miss those cold nights sitting in my hot tub…
In other news, I’m still battling my cold but I am improving. I did get out to buy shoes for my trip to Africa.

Aren’t they fun? They’re kind of like a sneaker but they have a lot of gnarly tread for light hiking. No socks necessary! They’re Mephisto’s and they were 40% off! They’ll be great on the cobblestones of Europe or on the trail.
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Now to find the energy to go for a walk…but I think it’s coming!

Well, that’s all that’s even remotely interesting. Hope you have a wonderful fall weekend!

Wednesday, September 21

Best Laid Plans

I had grandiose ideas of what I would accomplish in the three weeks at home before we leave for Africa. The list was long. I would walk or work out on the elliptical every day and lose the ten pounds I put on over the summer, I would go shopping for a few needed items of clothing and new walking shoes—and break them in—before the trip, I would spend some time in the studio, I would clean out and winterize the motorhome, I would shampoo the carpets in the bedroom, I would…
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Alas, none of that happened. Instead, I had jury duty, a summer cold stopped me in my tracks (tissues not pictured), and I rationalized that the carpets could wait until our return. I was too foggy-headed to think about making art and I could order safari clothes from a catalog. I still have to get the shoes, but I indulged my need to rest above all else.
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I actually watched ten minutes of a soap opera. I never got those. Now that social mores are so much more relaxed and accepted, what in the world can they do to be shocking today.

Looking on the bright side, the timing couldn’t be better. I didn’t get sick until I got home and I will be better before we leave. Everything else can wait. Except the shoes.

Thursday, September 15

Fun on the Way Home

Some things about the Southern California freeways crack me up. This bridge always makes me wonder. They planted trees on this bridge. How can trees grow on a bridge! This is a relatively new freeway (I-210) so only time will tell.
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Another thing I find amusing is how they disguise cell towers. Look closely and you will see that this tree is a cell tower. Look even closer and you will see that we have not cleaned our windows in a while. Sorry about the dirty window, but we need to buy a ladder so we can clean them.  It’s on our list of things we need to get around to. Some day.
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Here’s one disguised as a palm tree. How clever.
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The tree on the right is a phony. An interloper.
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Big trucks are scary when  they pass. On some freeways the lanes are so narrow your mirrors practically touch. And their draft blows you into the next lane a little too much for comfort. While I’m on the subject, you should give motorhome drivers a wide berth—we ain’t truckers. Don’t confuse us with someone who knows what they’re doing. We have limited visibility and we’re old. Just sayin’.
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And then there’s wind. We have to go through the Banning pass every time we go anywhere. Think it’s windy here? Sometimes a wind gust blows you into the next lane whether a car is there or not.
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There are a gazillion of these wind turbines out here in the Banning pass. Because it’s damn windy, that’s why. 
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Well, that’s all for now. We will sleep in our own bed tonight (although the moho bed is very comfy) and get back into our routine tomorrow. See ya around.

Wednesday, September 14

The Grand Finale

Temperatures in the desert are back in the double digits and we are [finally!] making our way home. We are camped out under the trees in a swanky RV resort near Solvang, California.
But before we left Pismo Beach, we went to the beach for a last walk on the pier and one more cup of beyond-belief clam chowder from Splash Café. 
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Catching up with old friends has been hell on the waistline. It seems there is no shortage of wining and dining when we and our friends gather. I’ll have to spend hours on the elliptical every day. Or else buy new clothes.
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Alan & Cheryl drove up from Los Angeles to meet us for a couple rounds of golf. This is Alisal, one of my favorite courses. Did you ever see the movie Sideways? Remember the golf course scene? This is the place.
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Another famous locale from the movie. (Where Miles met Maya.) I love this place.
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Cheryl and moi at The Hitching Post. She beat me by two strokes today. Dammit.
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The guys.
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Life continues to be a great big blast. Thanks for stopping in!
Next stop: Home. I am SO looking forward to getting back into the studio. But first, a nap.

Wednesday, September 7

Beautiful Day

By the time I awoke, the sun was already breaking through the fog in Pismo Beach and it promised to be a warm, sunny day and I had a date to go golfing with Carolyn. Oh happy day.

This is my pitch shot from 80 yards out on the impossibly long par 5 ninth hole at Blacklake. J always challenges me to get bogey (+1) on this hole. I one-putted for a six. It can be done!

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I ran into another old friend at the turn. Del and I played many rounds of golf together over the years. What a nice surprise. But this is a small town and we have been running into people we know everywhere we go—to the point where it has gotten to be a little scary. Terrible picture—we’re all “golfy.”

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I never want to forget how beautiful these eucalyptus trees are with their twisty trunks and shredding bark.They’re hell on a golf course, though. Right Cheryl?

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Later we went to dinner with Carolyn and Tom.

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The view from the window. The fog is rolling in and after I snapped this photo it obliterated the sun for the day.

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The night before, we had dinner at Bob & Judith’s. Judith just returned from Italy and made us the most delicious antipasto and fettuccini Bolognese. She is a brilliant cook, and, if that wasn’t enough, she won’t let you help with the dishes.

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It’s not easy to party this much for three full weeks in a row. But we are doing our best.

Monday, September 5

Too Much Fun

I can tell you this, when I get to the Pearly Gates, I will be breathless, saying “What a ride! What a life!” I sure hope there is an Afterlife, because just imagine how much fun we’d all have there!

Here are Strider and Delilah with their parents Ed & Deb. Ed & Deb retired last year and bought 46 acres on the central coast, and are almost finished building their beautiful spread. We know them from back when they first came to Southern California, 25 years ago. Strider and Delilah are Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Nice dogs.

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We went wine tasting and had a lovely picnic.

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We spent the weekend with our good friends and former neighbors Bill & Jeanne. We played bridge for two whole days non-stop. I couldn’t figure out how to make the camera timer work so Jim snapped the photo. This lifestyle is hell on the waistline!

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The dogs are Chase and Buddy. Chase (left) is 6 and Buddy is 14--that’s about 100 in people years. He is old and has congestive heart failure, but he can still catch the ball. When we lived on the central coast, I used to pitch balls over the fence to Buddy with my ball launcher and he never missed one. They’re Border Collies. Great dogs, and very smart. It was hard to say goodbye to Buddy because I know I will never see him again. He’s so sweet.

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We went to Jocko’s for dinner. Jocko’s is the sleaziest dive around, but they serve great steaks at bargain prices. J says, “Just don’t look at the floor and you’ll be fine.” It’s kind of a tradition in these parts. If you haven’t eaten at Jocko’s, you ain’t shit.

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Here we are at the bar waiting for our table. It is early, we had a 6:00 reservation, and it still took the better part of an hour to get seated. But that’s Jocko’s—it’s always like that. A small Spencer steak for $21 is about four inches thick and could feed a family of five.

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Well, that’s all for now, more fun is on the calendar, and more golf! We are booked solid! It’s great! Until next time, Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 1

Campfire Tales

We have been enjoying the central coast and seeing friends. Hey, it’s cold here! Drives home the point of why we moved away—validation. Here’s our campsite. Notice the front tires are off the ground. Yikes! Makes for a jiggly house, but the site wasn’t level and we like it level otherwise every thing rolls downhill, the microwave door hits you in the ear, stuff like that.

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We went wine tasting with Mike and Marty. The four of us go way back, over 25 years, and J and Mike go back even further. We were close friends until they moved to Indiana. They have since returned to California and are living in Paso Robles. It was so good to see them. After the wine tasting we cooked steaks and sat around the fire back at the campsite. Old friends are the best.

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We had dinner with Ron and Nancy, former neighbors. Ron and I both worked on the Cypress Ridge website, and the four of us used to go golfing together. We had a great time at Sea Venture in Pismo Beach, where the view made up for the lackluster food. But that’s pretty standard on the central coast. There are two grades of restaurants here: Not Good and Not Bad. After dinner we want back to our campsite and built a nice, warm fire. And got toasted.

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See you ‘round the campfire!