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.



Tuesday, March 11

Endings and Beginnings

You know the old saying, when one door closes…

We drove over to the coast Sunday, me with the wine in my SUV—AC going full-blast to keep the wine happy—and Jim following. Both our cars were packed full.

We got to the apartment about 5. I had this idea on the way over—why don’t we take the wine to a proper storage vault instead of carrying ten cases of wine up 24 stairs (and back down in five months)? The temperature at the coast is between 68-75 on any given day, but it’s not as good as a constant 65, which is what the wine needs. He thought the idea was brilliant.

We carried as much stuff from the cars up the stairs as our legs (and hearts) would permit, and we went out for chow. Exhausted and famished, we stopped at the first place we saw, Pandora’s Pizza, on Coast Highway, or PCH as it’s commonly called. We got lucky. The pizza was very good. We’ll go back—next time we’ll walk, it’s only a block away.

The next day we drove up to The OC (what I call Orange County) and took the wine to a swanky vault with crystal chandeliers (how very OC). It’s about 40 minutes from here to the new house, an easy and pleasant drive up the coast. 

As we rolled south, I got two emails. The first one was from our builder, letting us know that construction had begun on our new house. The second was from the escrow officer letting us know escrow had officially closed on our desert house. I thought the timing was pretty freaking profound, I must say. Almost simultaneously.

We are in Encinitas, in “North County” (which is actually San Diego County). North County consists of a string of tiny beach towns along PCH. It hasn’t changed much since I lived here in the late 70s. It has grown exponentially, as has all of SoCal, but most of the growth is east of the interstate; the beach cities look the same—the same shacks but with different names as businesses came and went over the years. In fact, J got a message from his BMW saying he needs brakes. I remembered a European auto repair shop in the area (because I had an MG when I lived here) and it’s still here.

The apartment condo is small but nice. It has been completely gutted and redone, with bamboo floors, vinyl window frames, granite, travertine, glass shower, stainless, wall-mounted big TV—all very nice. 

We chose an upstairs unit for security (it’s the beach, after all) and the quiet. It is very quiet. We are a block from the ocean but there's no view, just trees. I can hear the surf at night, if I try real hard. 

If walls could talk—I wonder what it looked like when it was first built. My hunch is it was built in the 70s, and the kitchen didn’t have granite countertops but 4” tile, set on the diagonal. The fridge might have been harvest gold, and there definitely would have been no microwave oven, although microwaves were coming in then. The carpet would have been either drab green or golden brown shag, and there would have been a wall between the kitchen and living area, which has since been knocked out to let the light in and make a bar. There is an open bookcase where the pantry/broom closet would have been.
PS: I love the climate at the coast better than the desert but my hair curls more. 

Sunday, March 9

We're Back!

At the beach.

Man what a grueling weekend. So tired. We are in an upstairs apartment in Encinitas and not very used to stairs, so we have tired legs tonight. This will be a quickie, and only if I can manage to not fall asleep at the keyboard before I finish.

The moving van showed up (late) Saturday morning, except it wasn't a moving van, it was more like a bob-tail truck. Small. The movers did a fine job packing it creatively in order to get as much stuff in as they possibly could, but they ran out of room at about 75%. Oops.

Oh but what could we do. Nothing. So we went out to get some dinner. Our choices were limited because the BNP Paribas tennis matches are going on and the valley is jammed. All restaurants packed, and we looked like maw and paw from the flats.

We decided to tackle the Tackroom Tavern, which is a dive bar/grill at the polo club. It fit perfectly and it wasn't crowded. Probably because they don't have great food. Actually it isn't all that bad, we were just early, it was full when we left. I don't know if you can see the saddles that you can sit on while you belly up to the bar. Yeehaw.

The next morning the two old dudes showed up with this. (They were terrific, by the way.)

And it was filled to the brim when they left. What was the estimate guy thinking! He was WAY off! Well, the good news is, we only had to pay for the first truck, or about 75% of what it might have cost if he got the estimate right. 

This was the last piece to be loaded onto the truck. (We left the barstools behind.) 

The desert is beautiful, no regrets for the four years we lived there, we enjoyed it, but it's time to go home to the coast. 

Now, rest. 

Tuesday, March 4

Are We Having Fun Yet?


We are just about all packed up, we have maybe only a half-day of packing work left to do, plus some errands like taking another boatload of stuff to Goodwill, and the time to be casual about it all.

We went over to the coast today to see the new digs and to take some things to the “beach house.” Which is, in reality, a teensy apartment/condo. A vacation rental, and our temporary home for the next five months.

I played in the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” tournament at PGA West Monday. It was so much fun. There were little black dresses and glamorous hats, long black gloves with rhinestone bracelets, long cigarette holders, and of course pearls.


Janice and I got there early so we could warm up. The photo does not do justice to the majestic grandeur of this setting. The string of white dots are perfect pyramids of golf balls. This is a high falutin’ club and there will be no schlepping of buckets of dead balls that you paid for; no no no. These are here for you, along with tees and anything else your heart might desire.


We played a four-person scramble, which means one person hits the ball and everybody decides which one they like the best and then they all play their ball from that spot. I don’t know if you can tell, but the tee boxes are diamonds. And amethysts, rubies, emeralds, etc.

Here’s a close-up. Yes, the grass is really that perfect. And if you’ve been following me for any length of time you know what that red rock means.


We played the Palmer Private, which is a ball-buster of a course. It is long, and it is difficult. This the course where they play the Humana Classic. Hey, if you can play here, you can play anywhere.


It was my last golf here in the desert, so it was a little bit bittersweet. It’s SO beautiful here. It is that.

But when we went over to the coast today (six hours on the road total), it felt like we had come home. Here are the fruits of our labors:


It’s hard to see everything and the photo is woefully inadequate, but check out those river rocks for the shower, aren’t they cool? I resisted them for a long time but they really add a punch of color and interest.


I fell in love with the tiny mosaic tiles that will be the backsplash in the powder room. They are 1/4” and just the sweetest thing.

All along I have had nagging doubts about one thing or another—like when you make a quilt and look at all the fabrics together and you see the outliers.

But today, finally, everything meshed. Perfectly.