Do I feel guilty when I leave the ice and snow of Maryland for  the sunny, warm (albeit overly-dry) climate of Northern California, for the month of January?

Well, maybe a little. The positives way offset the negatives, though. Much as I love the routines of the little farm in Middletown, where I live, I don’t mind taking a break from breaking up the ice in the chicken house so my dozen hens can get water. I don’t miss getting out the snow shovel so I can get down my front steps. I don’t miss jumping over piles of snow to get from the street to the sidewalk, and into my restaurant and market in downtown Frederick., even though I do miss the people and the action there.

“Hey,” I tell myself,”I’m 81 years old. If not now, when?”

What do I find when I move into the house in Carmel Valley that I rent for a month? Other than good weather, I find a peaceful setting in which:  a flock of wild turkeys casually wander around the property; deer poke there heads out from the trees; a big vegetable garden  supplies some of the needs of the Carmel Valley Ranch (where my house is); and beekeepers watch over bees making honey.


Turkeys on a Stroll

PLUS,..there’s golf to play, a beautiful ocean coastline to admire, art galleries to wander through in Carmel, and a host of good places to eat, most of them on the casual side.


 Grilled chicken at Café Rustica

But the most  important part of it all: I get to connect with my kids and grandkids. Three out of four kids live in California, and the other would fly from Texas just to play golf, even if he didn’t care about seeing me! They can’t all come at once, so they take turns, fitting in two or three day stays coordinated with their own kids school/work schedules.So far I’ve seen son Chris, with his wife Whitney and their three young boys; Rhodes, Wilson and Clay; and daughter Carey has visited, with Tim and sons Sammy and John (Alison and Michele couldn’t make it).


Clay (l.) and Chris

I also got a chance to take a side trip of my own, driving 3 1/2 hours to Lemoore, where my stepson Boris is stationed as a navy pilot. I met some of his squadron mates, took a tour of the base, and had a chance to see what it was like to “fly” a simulator.



Was it the pull of family or a passion for golf that brought grandson Sammy Romer out from New York for the weekend, and back in time for work Monday morning, on the red-eye? Of course, he just wanted to see his grandpa! Anyway, with Sammy, brother John, and their dad Tim, I had a great time playing a round at Cypress Point. Carey came out to watch our struggles (the struggles being mostly grandpa’s).

foursome (2)

3-Generational Foursome

Curtis and Leonard will be coming later, and Borya is also planning a trip up from Lemoore. On top of that, brother Brooks is going to try to get up for dinner, if Kate’s recent hip replacement is doing well enough.

A great family time, and, if I’m lucky, the ice will have melted by the time I get home!