Sunday, August 31, 2008

Goodbye Infiniti

The end of an era. Richard owned the Infiniti for 13 years and he sold it yesterday to a very tall chap from Escondido. He bought it for his son who crashed his car. We advertised it on Craig's list
with no result and finally he put it in the Penny Saver which yielded some results this week. He also lowered the price from the original $5000, to $3000. It was sold for $2750.00.

What a great little car! It took us to the airport inumberable times and waited for us patiently to return enduring all the indignities of public parking lots - sometimes even bearing inclement weather when parked outside. Never failing significantly, the only problems I had with it were purely operator error..forgetting to turn the lights off on two occasions. I loved the car - it was a "don't care" car and I could park wherever I wanted and not worry about door dings or renegade shopping carts or rock dings. Of course, little happened to the car no matter where it
was put.

I hope it likes it's new home and the young man who will operate it will be careful with it and get another 100,000 miles of service.

Friday night and a movie

We seem to have little time available for recreation now. I can't say we aren't having fun with the Rancho but it's very demanding and eats up all of our time. In a rush, we left the Rancho together and got down to the auto repair place where Richard had left the SUV for removal of over-spray. Side bar: Jaime damaged the truck one day while working on the stream. Oscar knew of a cheap auto repair place in town. Meanwhile Richard backed the SUV into the truck and further damaged it plus made $5,000 worth of damage to the SUV (conventinal estimate). SUV was repaired via the Mexican underground economy for about $2000 while truck repairs were about $1500 - $1000 our damage and $500 Jaime's.

Car transfers were made and it was 4:45 when we ran out of here to Temecula for the 5:00 movie. We made it by 5:20 and missed a bit of the movie opening. Traitor, starring Don Cheadle. I liked it very much except for another sappy ending. Nobody seems to be able to write a script with a satisfying, not sappy, conclusion. Plot was fast-paced, very current (Muslim terrorists)and chilling. The essence of the plot was an attempt by terrorists to have 50 suicide bombers on 50 buses right in the heartland of the US and they chose
Thanksgiving Day for the show. There's a good twist in that Cheadle puts the bombers all unknown to each other, on the same bus!!

After the movie we ate a good dinner at a Japanese Teppanyaki House in the Bellagio shopping center. We entered with some reservation, not knowing what to expect. The restaurant has a bar up front and a passageway into the place which follows a large stream. At the end of the walk, the restaurant opens into a large noisy hall, with about 12 teppanyaki stations each seating about 20 people. All tables seemed full. We ate in the dining room and ordered off the menu - calamari, gyoza, eggplant, 10 ingredient fried rice, Richard (one unagi). Food was excellent - piping hot, right out of the fryer/oven whatever. Service was excellent - our little waitress was appropriately pleasant and just personal enough (telling us that she doesn't eat raw food) to make you relax and trust her - this is quite a trick. She brought the food quickly, checked back on us a few times, cleared the plates away swiftly. It was a good experience and we will go back. A nice surprise and a good evening out together and leaving El Rancho behind for a while.

Down by the old Mill Stream

The stream project is moving toward completion. Oscar and Elbow (aka Abel) have completed the following work: cleaned out the whole length of the stream; laid the first half with our concrete chunks rescued from demolition; built up the culvert at the beginning of the property - poured footings and directed the water; concreted in the beginning of the stream; repaired the road holes at all over passes; built a drain to dry out the wet spot in the grove; removed all the tires and shored up the sides with concrete bags; built new gates with nifty wheel operation for two spots and also built a grate for one spot in the fence. I picked out rocks at Southwest Boulder and will send Oscar over to actually select rocks that he and the crew can move. We will get one ton of the largest rocks they can manage, then one ton of large cobbles (15" across) and one or two tons of medium sized rocks. Scattering them along the stream should improve appearance and make it look pretty good. Planting will be a challenge because so many weeds want to grow's wet and really fertilized.

It's satisfying to have this job done. The "stream" had become a dirty ditch and now is an attractive feature of the grove. Between this improvement and Jaime's work shoring up branches and keeping order, the grove looks really good. I hope we will be ablet to keep it all up. There's a lot of investment made but the Rancho will be our permanent and last home, so it should be good looking and comfortable.

My Left Ear

I made an appointment with an ENT because my buzzing Left ear does not seem to be improving, in fact I think it's getting worse. Difficulty hearing things on the phone and a distorted perception of music are the final, intolerable symptoms driving me to seek out help.

The audiologists test revealed that I have 40% hearing loss, particularly in the higher range of sound in my left ear. Right Ear is functioning well. Using Ron's finger rubbing technique, it's quite obvious, the difference in the two ears. A separate trip to the ENT resulted in a cursory diagnosis of nerve damage due to viral infection. This is an uncommon occurrence; nor is it uncommon to have hearing loss accompanied by tinnitus. The ENT ordered an MRI to rule out the possibility of an auditory tumor. Blood work was also ordered which revealed a small under-performance of my thyroid gland which can be corrected and under-performing thyroid is related to tinnitus. Plot thickens.

The distortion of sound is annoying but compared to deafness, I can't complain. Sound is not what it used to be. Sometimes the buzzing drives me mad - makes me cranky and a little panicked that I can't get away from it. Makes you want to rip your ear off. I do look forward to losing consciousness at night and escaping for a while. On the construction site, when the compressor is running or the nail guns are firing off, I can't hear anything. I just tell people I can't hear them and wait for quiet, then resume conversation. Most people are understanding about this. Poor Richard bears the brunt of constantly repeating himself.

Richard also visited the doctor this week to see about the lingering severe pain that resulted from his fall off the bike. He has three cracked ribs and a bruised lung (likely). At the same visit he had several small skin thingies removed and now has scabs on face and neck. He will be having the skin peel done soon - he calls this the "crab boil".

I guess I could ask Sharon to pray for my Left Ear. Seems terribly trivial compared to 2 million people flooded out in India. I wonder if they have a prayer value rating scale?

I should have listened to more music while I could.

Windows and Fireplace

At week's end, two big accomplishments: windows are installed and the fireplace covering with Canyon Rock has started. Windows latches and controls are disappointing. Two windows aren't working properly and the latches are falling apart. We've called DixieLine to get some attention to these problems. The windows do look good however.

The Rock looks really, really good. After so much agonizing, I'm pleased with the result. I don't think Tony the mason is so pleased as he probably underbid the job. His guys accidentally browncoated our beehive fireplace - it's being stuccoed and the stucco people s should do it.

we are working on kitchen, bathrooms, lighting, plumbing and some roofing issues. Nothing goes smoothly at all..there is always something to unravel. Another good thing this week is that we received pictures of the door made in Bali along with photos of gate and railings and it all looks wonderful. They will be shipping it all out soon.

Buster and Pink: Just a note to remember..the boys are getting pretty big. Buster 11 pounds and Pinkie (Inkie Stinky Pinky) is 7 pounds - much slighter and tinier. They eat together and Pinkie still gets all he wants to eat. Buster pins him down for clean-up from time to time. Pinkie caught a rabbit, they've gotten several mice and love running around at the Rancho. After the workers leave, the cats move into the house and climb all over the rafters and everywhere they can squeeze themselves into.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday with Jim

Jim needs new flooring because of a leak in his kitchen. All the flooring on the kitchen, TV room, family room, living room and piano room will be replaced. We visited a carpet/flooring store in Yorba Linda and looked at some samples. The salesman was the classic glad-handed, "We'll take good care of you Mr. Ryckenbosch" type. At some points, my jaw was hanging open, the guy was so corny. Jim has confidence in them because they did a good job of refinishing his floors which now will have to be removed. This chap had a "smoking hot" deal on hand scraped flooring from China, $10.00 per foot installed.

We had lunch at Jim's neighbors who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. She had her wedding albums out and on display and it was very interesting to read them. She was a debutante and raised in Westwood, a UCLA graduate. He apparently was a very smart, nobody as his lineage was not on the record. They stayed at the Santa Barbara Biltmore on their honeymoon and the second night at none other than "Tickle Pink" which was $16.00 per night. How funny. I asked him if they were going up to Tickle Pink again in the near future and he said it was very difficult to pry her out of the house. 50 years will do that to a person. Big congratulations to anyone who can last together for that long.

Sadness still overcomes me when I visit Alta Drive. I miss Eilleen and keep waiting for her to appear to make a sandwich or open a bag of treats from Trader Joe. It's still hard for me to believe that she's dead sometimes. It all seems to be a bad dream.

Jim has a new Lexus! Very nice car and it suits him well. He likes driving it so far.

Summer is running away from us fast. I wish we had summer for 9 more months 'til the house is finished. It would be so nice to have the long days and the warm weather as the rancho is so nice this time of year.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday and getting a slow start. Thursday and Friday the heating and air conditioning people came and did a lot of engineering. The metallic arms are crawling all over the house and look like a MRI of the house guts. The ducts take up more space than they should and we are having to give up some storage space to accomodate them. Meanwhile the framers continue to slog along trying to repair the miscalculation on the upstairs trusses. I've taken everything to the architect and am waiting to hear back from them.

Also pressing is the selection of stone (I'm having an awful time), electrical matters - Richard has very strong ideas about lighting, and finally finishing up the Bali things. I may make a last ditch effort at the stair railing...the risk is about $1200. Buying the railing here and installing it will be over $5,000.00 which is ridiculous for 8 stairs.

The plumber should be starting next week and the fireplace extension will be installed. The only thing preventing the mason from getting in and doing the fireplace is my stone selection. The other thing pressing is selection of someone to install the exterior doors.

Meanwhile the stream is coming along. Oscar feels the prep will be completed this weekend and they will concrete it all in next weekend. I've asked for a price on Elbow digging out the front courtyard and building the short wall at the front.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 9

The roof sheeting is coming along. Most of the eaves have been framed in. A chimney was added late on Friday. The turret looks very good and adds a lot to the house.

Richard completed the roofing documents and we sent them in on Friday. Windows have arrived at Dixieline and the heating and air conditioning people are being held up by the framers. We have a problem with the roof line to the upstairs deck that has to be solved tomorrow (architects). Also we have to get the new engineering drawings for cutting into the trusses to make room for the heating and air conditioning.

Several visitors (Pam, Ina and Sharon) to the house have helped with choosing the stone for the fireplace and I think we are almost there. We have the plate for the front and the new electrical connection kit is waiting for pick up at Hennings.

Very busy at the moment. We'll have to find installers for the exterior doors - UBuildIt wants to make a bid. As usual it's a big deal when they get involved. They are more trouble at this point than they are worth.

Richard and I went to see Brideshead Revisited on Saturday night and enjoyed it. Had Osso Bucco next door at the Italian wasn't very good - dry and overcooked. Came home and watched some of the Olympics which were very entertaining and exciting. The opening ceremony was splendid.