Wednesday, July 20

Lazy Days of Summer

I have been decidedly unproductive lately. I had intended to return to golf today but my shoulders are still iffy and one more week won’t hurt. If they don’t get better I may give up golf altogether. Yes, the thought has crossed my mind and, to my surprise, I am really okay with it. It has been hot—and playing in the searing summer heat is not my idea of a good time. I know I used to complain about too-early tee times, but here we tee off around 10, so we are out there in the midday sun in summer. That’s a headache waiting to happen. So I can wait.

I was at book club yesterday and, looking out the window, I saw this magnificent arbor of Palo Verde trees. I had to go get my camera. Aren’t they beautiful.

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Palo verde translates from Spanish to “Green Stick.” The branches of these trees are green year-round. “What is that, Father?” “Why Son, that is a Green Stick Tree.”

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I walked beneath the arbor to get some more photos and it was a hive of activity. Bees everywhere—hundreds, if not thousands. I thought about my mother, who was so deathly afraid of bees. I have no fear of bees. I tried to capture some bees in a photo but they were moving way too fast.

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See any bees? Maybe one, but you could sure hear them.

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The ground below is littered with tiny yellow petals. We had one of these trees many years ago and it was a mess to clean up every summer. I could see it from the front window—glorious. It was the centerpiece in a cactus garden, and cleaning up the yellow petals from the prickly cactus was impossible. So we didn’t.

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Here is one of our clubhouses. That tree is a Jacaranda. They are beautiful in spring, but they have lost most of their purple flowers by now. There is one at the end of every street in our section of the community.

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This is the book we read in July, The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende. We all liked it. It’s hard to say what it’s about because it is about so many different things. It covered WWII, Japanese internment camps, forbidden love, and weed-smoking seniors in a retirement community. It was a real chop suey of a story.

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Tuesday, July 12

Fire

Everyone knows Southern California has wildfires. It’s a fact of life here, just like earthquakes and El Niño winters, although the latter hasn’t produced much rain in a very long time, and we’re in a serious drought, so it’s tinder-dry out there. All over the state.

This is the view outside my front door. We live in what is considered a “high-risk fire area.” No lie. Just look how dry those hills are. The nearest hill, there are sprinklers to keep the drought-tolerant plants alive to prevent landslides should we actually get rain someday, but those dun-colored hills beyond? Quietly waiting for a spark. Plus it’s fairly windy up here.

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Yesterday I was doing housework and smelled smoke. Sniff sniff, yep that’s smoke. I went outside to see the source and saw smoke in the sky. Just a little, so I went to the back and this is what I saw—smoke, and the wind was blowing this way.

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I called 911. They were already on it.

A few minutes later it was bearing down on the neighbors’ houses, and it was coming right at us. You could hear it as it gobbled up the dry grass.

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Here comes the OCFA helicopter to drop fire retardant. If there are swimming pools nearby, the copter can suck up water from them, or from the ocean, by way of that spout thing hanging down. We have a pool at the club but it’s not chopper-accessible. The copter circled round and round for hours, going and returning with retardant. This was a small fire, but in a major fire they bring in commercial jets to drop massive amounts of retardant.

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The firefighters have arrived and they are chasing the fire up the hill, away from the houses.

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The OCFA copter comes in for another drop.

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You can see the firefighters on the ridge. This was a very small fire by comparison, but you never know—even devastating fires start small and, if they get hot enough, create their own wind and can consume whole neighborhoods faster than a speeding bullet. You can only watch and hope for the best.

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It’s only a matter of time before these hills burn. But a three-truck fire station is less than a half-mile away, and there are fire breaks up there that you can’t see from here. I hiked up the hill this morning and saw them—I hadn’t noticed before. They had this fire out in three hours and it didn’t even make the five o’clock news. But it makes you grateful and thankful for firefighters.

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And our house has no exposed beams. It’s completely sealed. And we have a whole-house sprinkler system.

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When the devastating Laguna Beach fire happened in 1993, they learned what a good idea that was.

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Sunday, July 10

Epiretinal Membrane

I have recently been diagnosed with Epiretinal Membrane, or Macular Pucker. It’s not a happy thing, but the good news is I don’t have Macular Degeneration, which is what I was initially diagnosed with…whew, that was depressing!

So what is this thing? It’s a film, or tissue, that grows over the retina like Saran Wrap. Like used, wrinkled Saran Wrap. What causes it? Age, mostly. Genetics probably plays a part. Everything’s genetic nowadays. Hey—you live long enough, stuff goes south.

I googled it to try to get some pictures to show you what it looks like from my point of view, but I didn’t have much luck. This is kinda close, I do see things in pixels a little like the picture below. I have it in both eyes., but my right eye is way better than my left.

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But that doesn’t really capture it. So I Photoshopped some pictures to show you.

The wrinkles aren’t laid out in a grid pattern like below, they’re more like random tree branches, but the idea is the same.

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Looking at vertical lines is really difficult—I can’t stand to look at my stainless steel refrigerator, it makes me crazy. The lines are broken.

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Thank goodness for my good eye!

The first time I noticed something was wrong, I could not see the green and white rope on the golf course. I couldn’t see it to step over it and almost did a face-plant on the fairway. I was bitching about why don’t they just make it solid white so you could see it, and my playing partner suggested I get my eyes checked.

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Okay, so now what. They can do surgery and pull it off, but that’s some scary stuff—me not think so!

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Enough about that! I am fine, and I am making excellent progress with my shoulder and my golf swing. 98%! I was going to play this week but decided to give it an extra week while I practice, practice, practice! Today I finished the whole bucket [small] and even used my driver. A milestone! How do I feel? I ache and I’m tired. But I’m not in pain.

We are going to a paver party tonight. What’s a paver party you ask? Well, down in the flats (as opposed to the hillside where we are) five houses are built around small cul-de-sacs, and the shared driveway/courtyard is covered with pavers. So one pod (I call ‘em pods because I don’t know the proper term) of five houses take turns hosting the other pods. JJ’s bridge partner lives in the host pod and we are invited. It’s a pot-luck and we are taking little meatballs in grape jelly and BBQ sauce. Weather promises to be postcard-perfect.

Saturday, July 2

Working My Way Back

I went to the driving range yesterday for the first time since I injured my shoulder in early April. I was feeling pretty good and it was a cool, cloudy morning so I got out there early and bought a small bucket ($7). I can’t lift my bag [frowny face] so I only took a few irons to work with.

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I took it real easy and only took half-swings. I don’t want to reinjure my shoulders—they both hurt now, I don’t know why—but I have to start working my way back.

I hit some decent shots, at least shots that made my heart feel good, but it hurt and I couldn’t finish the bucket. It made me sad to have to leave a dozen balls in the tray because I couldn’t hit them all. I didn’t want to push it; my shoulders were on fire and starting to swell. So I took a couple Alleve and a Vicodin, and I iced my shoulders and watched Mr. Selfridge on Amazon Prime. I am a little stiff today, but no real pain. Whew!

The shoulder joint is a very complicated thing.

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I am also working on my stamina by walking around the hood every day. Golf is a bit of an endurance sport, it may look easy running around in those little carts, but it takes four-plus hours to play and you need stamina to hang in there for 18 holes. I have been sitting on my can for too long because even walking hurt. No more excuses, I’ve got an important game coming up at the end of the month and I want to give Cheryl a run for her money!

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We have no plans for the Nation’s birthday this weekend, but we have several neighborhood parties and barbecues on the calendar in July. Tonight we are meeting friends for dinner in the Harbor.

As if living here wasn’t perfect enough, THISImage result for down arrow is just ten minutes away.

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That’s all the news. Eat a hot dog for me!