Marsha Lee

Living Elegantly in Palm Desert

4th and Lenora, Seattle, Washington

The contrast between where I was this past week-end and where I was the week-end before reassured me about the flexibility of human-kind.  From Friday through Monday (It didn’t rain on Thursday.) I listened to traffic swish through soggy downtown Seattle streets 15 stories below my hotel room, several sirens wailing in concert, and stared out into the drippy gray sky at the construction site so much taller than my room, and the Space Needle off in the distance a mile or two, which lights up in the misty night like an alien Christmas Tree.

Just a week before I basked in a quiet resort, set far from the busy buzz of traffic, with two wonderful friends in the sunny California desert snowbird mecca of Palm Desert in a one story condo off the street with a patio that looked out on a pool and spa shared by 4-5 condo owners.  “Palm Desert is a city in Riverside CountyCaliforniaUnited States, in the Coachella Valley, approximately 11 miles (18 km) east of Palm Springs.”  Wikipedia

The week-end activities were relaxing, and I never got lost once (another story for my Seattle adventures!!)  While one friend slept in, another went running. To keep physically active take pictures of expensive, elegant desert homes for all of you, I ambled along sun-kissed streets that pointed towards the Santa Rosa Mountains (I think).  You may not know it yet, but I have NO sense of direction!  Actually there are several ranges surrounding Palm Desert.  I just didn’t know which direction I was facing.  You can read about them by clicking the link above or downloading this PDF which I found on the City Of Palm Desert website.  By now you know more about Palm Desert than I do, but read on…

Most of the homes were built about the same time as the Space Needle (1962 World’s Fair) I would guess, and although they are low, and the Needle is high, they all have that modern, aliens-gave-us-the-floor-plan look.  These houses by themselves might not be so spectacular and alien, but coupled with the landscaping they captivated my imagination.

Outer-spacy, almost planetary, definitely alien-influenced

I didn’t know whether to be more interested in the houses or the landscaping.

In case you want to move to this Palm Desert neighborhood, one of the houses was for sale for just over 1 million dollars.  To console yourself if you would love to move here, but don’t have a spare million dollars, the summer temperature is regularly 117 degrees.  It was about 75-80 during the day while we were there in mid-November.

For these homeowners privacy prevails.   Unlike the homes in Berkeley or Shell Beach, anywhere on the coast, or in large cities, like Seattle, which are also outrageously expensive, all of the Palm Desert homes sprawled instead of spiraled upwards.  So if you have a fear of heights or tend to fall (smilingtoad), Palm Desert might be a preferable place to spend your millions rather than one of the aforementioned locations.

Need a place to park your car?

I’m thinking that driving might be important here in the desert.  I guarantee you that if you live in Seattle, you will NOT enjoy winter driving, but I veer off course.  It could be that folks living here don’t ACTUALLY drive their cars.  It may be that the garages that populate the landscape are for protection only.  Who knows, V., there might be three vintage cars parked inside, safe and clean from the driving sand storms.  Hmmmm….

oops, car showing!

Of course if you run out of room in the garage, you can always park in the driveway.  Or possibly they have company.  No need to park on the street here!

Peek-a-boo I see a car.

The problem is that if you leave your car in the driveway, the neighbors can see it, and it spoils the landscaping.  OK, I really don’t think that anyone would think of this yard art as spoiled.  Those mountains are real, by the way, not photoshopped in.  Seattle has mountains, too, you just can’t see them most of the time because the sky is so thick.

For Sale

I’ve already put my name on it, but it’s expensive enough to share.  This is the unit that is listed for a mere $1,000,000 + change.  I have never been a real fan of 60s architecture, sorry Mary, but after seeing these homes, I think I could move right in and be fairly satisfied not to remodel them to look Craftsmanish or English Tudorish.

With the ceramic border in the fence and roofline, this home made me think of a live-in swimming pool.  How great would that be?

There were lots more, but I don’t want to bore you.  Hope you enjoyed this amble in the park street of someone’s dreams.  Happy Thanksgiving in a few days.  I’m actually glad I live where I do.   Aren’t you glad V.?  (He dodged a bullet on that one!!!)

14 comments

    • What a small world!!! So you could write and tell us what the inside of one of those beautiful homes looks like!!! Where were you raised in Seattle. My late husband went to Ballard High School, then his family moved off Aurora Avenue N. at about 150th.

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      • I graduated from Garfield High School. My husband was a general contractor and we remodeled several homes at the Reserve, in Indian Wells and around the valley. They were spectacular! We live in a modest remodeled Adobe with solar and energy efficient and LOVE the desert. My husband grew up here in the desert, Indio… I am now a desert lizard lol

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      • My husband would have loved to move to the desert. He hibernates in the winter – even in CA! We are just getting solar energy on our home. There’s no getting solar in Seattle. The comparison between Seattle and Palm Desert was pretty drastic. I grew up in Portland, OR and thought that it was heaven on earth. It took me a long time to reconcile hat desert could be beautiful. Clearly it is!

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  1. Lassie, this was most intriguing!! I would LOVE to see the inside of one of those places. Yes! VERY extra-terrestrial-esc. Fascinating! Imagine if they had a parade of homes. Well, fabulous!! That last one reminds me of a house I see here all the time, and I too instantly thought “live in swimming-pool”. I MUST do one of my own ambling-around posts, you really have me inspired here. And har har about the mention there. I could just see me spilling off some roof. I hope you noticed lizards afoot.

    It was another day of fantastic weather in Florida. There was a vitative, cool, inspiring wind, long shadows of late afternoon crawling about the landscape, with russet light glowing on the façades of the historic homes that glittered across the way. I had to go there and photograph. Thome was with me again. Poor lad. We abandoned the art fest which was closing down, and began to meander into the historic neighbourhood. I snapped away absolutely possessed. We had ambled into Gone with the Wind, without the drama. Well…so I thought, anyhow. We came upon an park with an old family cemetery. It was peaceful and tranquil. Walked from there, languid tendrils of Spanish moss billowing in the wind, quiet white-washed porches with still rocking chairs begging to be photographed, rooftops bathed in red sunlight…ah it was grand. Suddenly, after we took a turn, we found ourselves in a very old marina. A great mansion overlooked the glass waters below. It was glowing in the glorious aurific gold. We puttered along, possessed, when suddenly a man in his fifties pedaled toward us. I suddenly wondered if we might be trespassing. I was bolstering myself. Then the words of ecstasy oozed from his mouth, “Enjoying the GLOOOW of the evening?”I noticed a beer in his hand. He seemed to just be leaving a closed business. Perhaps he’d been enjoying a party on a boat. Well, he harmlessly pedaled away. We ambled back into the neighborhood, a dog’s watchful eye upon us as we went.

    Well, we began to make our way back. We found the main road as the light was quickly dissipating. The din was extremely odious, so as we walked along, I mentioned to Thome, “Ah, here’s a road through the neighbourhood again that leads us right out of here, devoid of the noise. Sound good?” Of course it did. So off we went. I raised the camera for one last shot, a photo of a 60s adobe-style home, yellow stucco. It almost looked like a micro-castle. Suddenly, a young bloke began hooting to me. I looked over. He was a strapping bloke, quarter of a century in years, and was donning a dainty, pale-pink cardigan. This looked a bit ominous. He went through a series of gorilla-like poses, asking me to take his photo. I took a few snaps, but could hear they weren’t going to be any good, then said, “Ah thankee thankee. Best be on our way now!” And we began to walk quickly when the bloke bugled, “Oh naw, wait up!” Oh bother.

    “What ya doin’ just old housin’?”

    “Yes,” I responded. Thome said nothing. This was vaguely feeling familiar.

    “Oh where you from?” he asked.

    “Chicago originally,” I said, “You must be from here.”

    “Yep, born and raised on this very street. I live just down there in the purple house.”

    He was referring to an impressive historic house near the entrance of the neighbourhood, near the museum.

    “Ah brilliant!” I said, noticing the darkness increasing.

    “Yeah, this is cool, cuz I don’t usually get to talk to the people that come through here. They’re like really old (I think he meant the tourists), but you all are like my own age.”

    That is it, I was thinking, dying the ‘do grey and walking with a limp from now on.

    “Sorry if I’m slurring my words, I just took some cold medicine and codeine,” he went on.

    Grand, grand…

    Well, I smiled and kept looking for opportunity to escape, Thome a silent and still statue beside me.

    The fellow went on about how he always wanted to do old housing, how he liked photography, and so on. He popped a cig into his mouth, offered us some, we declined, he lit it, and went on, “So, this your brother?”

    “Oh no!” I said without realizing where this bloke was going, “he’s me old chum,”

    “You sure you’re from Chicago?” he asked.

    “Oh yes, but of course, I live here, well down the way, on the sea,” I might have declined mentioning that.

    “Oh cool, cool. I just didn’t wanna get all awkward here if he was like your boyfriend, cuz, er, I think yer kinda cute, ya know”

    Well, now I was going to end it and escape. This is where bumbling charm gets one into trouble. It was time for the Sober, Serious, and I needed exit strategy.

    “Ah yes I see,” I said laconically, “Well, we better be on our way, it is late.”

    “Do ya have like a blog of somethin?”

    “Oh yes,” I said involuntarily.

    Blast me.

    Well, suddenly he had blog address, and I agreed if he emailed me to meet up sometime for tours of the houses, with Thome invited he said. Oh grand, grand.

    Finally, after 8 handshakes and thank-yous from Marlin (good thing I did not ask “like the wizard?” as I remembered later that that is of course Merlin. I never get that right…) we were at last free to vapourise down the street and vanish.

    And I fear I did it again,

    Blast me! Cheers,

    Autumn Jade

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    • You are hilarious as ever. another great post!! You do get into it! I have had my occasions like that as well. In Seattle I was walking home alone from the movie. It was misty, but not raining, and was about 10:00, I think. There was one other night that I was wandering the streets at 11:30, and I went 8 blocks the wrong way, but I think this was the next night. The man crossing the street at the same time I was started talking to me. I remember he said he was an attorney, and he asked where I was going. I told him I was going to a dance. I was going back to the hotel to change clothes. Long story short, he asked me if I wanted to come up to his hotel room. Now get this, I am 61, and he had to be your age. What’s up with that??? I thanked him for the compliment, and said I was happily married. We talked for a second longer, and he moved along, probably to catch up with the next old woman he saw. The adventures never end.

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      • Oh lassie! I love sharing our adventures together. That second to last line you wrote was too funny in your wording. That happened to me mum all the time. Poor lass. One time, she and Sir went to a place called Old Chicago, to see a musician my mum had met earlier that day, play guitar. Well, they planted themselves at the glazed bar and ordered some lime-laced, bubbling club soda. Then, in the usual fashion, Sir decided he had to visit the restroom. As soon as he’d puttered off, a bloke in his thirties planted himself beside me mum and began with the flirtation. Jode, me mum, displayed her ring. “I’m sorry, thank you, but I’m happily married, so no, I’d rather you not buy me a drink, thank you.” Well, the bloke decided to buzz off for a bit. Sir returned, and suddenly the bar-fly re-appeared, “Please, let me buy you a drink?” he asked me mum again. Sir turned his aquilline nose toward the bloke and said sternly (which is rather comical, because, well, it’s Sir and Sir does not do Stern, he’s just not Irish enough, though he tries to be, being an Irish-convert), “Uh, I’m her husband,” he coughed. “Oh great,” said the drink-buyer smoothly, “Can I buy you both a drink then?” Well, they ended up not seeing the musician afterall, departing from the bar whilst the bloke drank the two drinks by himself. Ah life is too fun.

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      • Funny! Well my friend didn’t even want to buy me a drink – straight to the hotel room. Who does that? Do I look like a prostitute in my blue jeans and my wool dress over them like a long shirt, and by huge black coat over that? I don’t think so! So I meet the guy for 2 seconds, and he automatically assumes that I would want to hop in bed with him – married or not, that wouldn’t happen! I just thought it was too funny! It was my second 20 some-odd year old person trying to offer me an enticing few hours with them. The first one was at the corner of my own street. Of course, I said about the same thing, and we parted company, but when I got back from my walk the police were there to ask me questions. Apparently he asked the two 13 year old girls walking up the street before he met me. I couldn’t even remember what color his car was. Talk about taking him seriously!!

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      • Wow, that is incredibly bizarre and rather scary with the other bloke near where you lived, and asking wee lassies! The other man, most peculiar. Young blokes would come up to Jode often, she being thirty years older. Perhaps they have been watching too much Mrs. Robinson. Usually never happens to me (not from young blokes). That Merlin, or Marlin I mean, was the first, and he was not so direct. Usually young men think I’m one of them, or a little boy. Now lass…imagine the awkwardness of being approached by women, thinking you are a bloke? VERY awkward and rather disturbing. One night a woman in her thirties went so far as to grab my face and try to kiss me as I was trying to sail by! Then the old men…

        Yes, I really should just go for an old biddy grey-haired look, huge goggle-glasses, break out the cane, the shaky gravely voice, and the shawls, many, many shawls. I really am quite the grannie at heart. I’m often called Grannie Babby by my grandchildren, I mean dear old chums.

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      • Yes, it took me a while to figure it out, in my daft way. In my comment box it just said Living Elegantly, and then it had a wee snippet, and I was all corn-fused thinking it was some sort of spam, I said to myself, “What?! With my ‘millions’?? This is one odd spammer, assumes that someone called a “smilingtoad” has millions to spend on ‘elegant living?’ what sort of spammer is this?!” Then I caught a glisk of tchistorygal, “AH!” and I floated over to your post. Thanks so much for the mention! Yes Sir and I will certainly be cursitating about having adventures I’m sure XD Have fun! Cheers,

        Autumn Jade

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