Thursday, April 20, 2017

Welcome to Chatsworth, California

As we adjust to life in CA, we've discovered several differences from the east coast.

Right away we noticed the prevalence of homeless people on the streets of LA. We have been told that homeless make their way to cities with good climates. Makes sense. The traffic is exactly what you have heard about - constant and heavy. Aggressive drivers are also very common. The highways are called freeways and are referred to with the article "the". People give directions by saying you should take "the" 405 to a certain town or "the" 100 toward another. Sounds very strange to me, but I suppose I'll adapt and start talking like that myself

Shopping is everywhere. It feels like this must be the strip mall capital of the world. Everything is spread out with large parking lots - not friendly to do errands on foot. Wine and spirits are available for sale in 7-11, CVS and Target in addition to the grocery stores. Like in Target, there are small Starbucks kiosks is in the big grocery store chains. When I go shopping, I'm already in the habit of carrying shopping bags with me. I always have a small tote bag in my purse. The stores here do not give free bags. When you start checking out, they ask if you want to buy bags. Hopefully, they are reducing the number of wasted bags.

Once in the grocery store, shopping is an adjustment as well. Not all the brands I'm used to from the east are here. For instance, there is no Perdue chicken.  Butter is packaged four sticks to a one pound box, but the sticks are shorter and thicker than back east! Why? No idea.

Advertising is done on the side of panel vans. Rather than these vans driving to the next customer, they remain parked all day in one place. They are like movable billboards. Since they're often parked right outside large parking lots, they make it difficult to see to exit. I find their placement very annoying.

After spending plenty of time researching towns and commutes, Tom and I searched for a place to live along with the help of a relocation firm. We learned that by going a bit farther out of Los Angeles, we could have a much nicer place to live (more space both inside and out) for a substantially lower rent. The only drawback is the commuting time for Tom. He considers it being paid to commute. When the office moves to Woodland Hills, he will have a nice commute.

We chose to rent a house rather than an apartment in order to fit the furniture we brought with us. It is more space than we need for two people, but it does have room for everything and lots of built in storage There are still empty storage areas - maybe I should go shopping! It also has a large covered (shade!) patio area which is perfect for our outdoor dining table. There is another seating area for the rest of our outdoor furniture and a pool. We never expected to have a pool, but since the rent includes a pool service, all is well.  We expect to find it very pleasant when the warmer (hot!) temperatures arrive. (right now, the pool water is still very cold) Another plus is the rent including a gardener - no mowing required of us. The property includes palm trees, bird of paradise and a lemon tree which is currently providing plenty of fruit. 

We still have work to do to consider ourselves done. It's a bit like playing house. We're trying to make it look nice and comfortable without putting a lot of money into it - it is a rental after all. I'll give you a brief tour of the place so you can envision where we are.

all on one level

shaded patio area with built in grill
look closely - there are lots of lemons

caption necessary? I don't think so

Now for the inside:

living room with repaired chess table

master bedroom - tulip tapestry from Belgium

kitchen with eating area that leads to the patio

table at its smallest - 4 extensions are under the guest bed

We have our beautiful Swiss table in the dining room, but otherwise the room is still a work in progress. We need to put some things on wall. 

There are two other bedrooms and office/music/chess/sewing/whatever spaces for each of us. In order to see those, you have to come visit. 
So far, we have been very pleased with our landlord. Rosa is extremely responsive to us. We gave her a list of things that weren't quite right when we moved in and she had someone come over to repair or replace most items within a week! The outdoor grill didn't work and at first she planned to provide a portable one. Then Rene, her handyman and now my friend, convinced her to replace it with a new built-in grill! We've used it many times already. Today, the fireplace and chimney were repaired. Rosa chose the more expensive option which will improve our energy costs! Wow! I hope she doesn't choose to sell before we want to move. She has a property manager, but for the most part the communication is directly between the landlord and us. I don't know why she is paying a property manager, but that's not my problem. I am sure not involved like this in our rental property. 

The other interesting aspect to the fireplace is it is equipped with a gas starter. The idea is to light the gas first to warm the chimney. Next you put logs on the grate and wait. When they have caught, turn off the gas. No kindling needed. I said "isn't that cheating?" "This is the way we do it in California!" 

Garbage may not be exciting, but it has been different everywhere we've lived. Every house in the neighborhood is provided three containers by the LA Department of Sanitation. Green is for yard waste and vegetable peels, blue is for all recycling and black is for garbage. They all go out on the curb once a week (same day) and three trucks come around to empty them. The trucks only have a driver since they have mechanical arms to lift the container and dump the contents into the truck. If one of your containers is broken, the sanitation department replaces it. (I just got a new black container since the other wouldn't roll anymore) I've always wondered whether mixed recyclable materials in one container actually get separated and recycled. I know it's possible, but does it really happen? I'll probably never know the answer, but I do appreciate the convenience. 

We are just beginning field trips from our new home base. Stay tuned for pictures of the California Poppy Reserve and a weekend in Paso Robles (which will include wine tasting).