New beginnings, my love for Ranch

I spent last night with my Mom and Dad in their fifth wheel in Oceanside. I wrote about them last year, my parents and their fifth wheel, and how much it reminds me of the farm I grew up on back in Missouri. I’m one of those sentimental types that hates to let go of anything. And, with two days until my wedding, I needed that one last night with my parents before crossing over the “threshhold.” My mind has been full of past roads that led to this one.
I’m sort of at a loss for words due to all the emotion that is inside my heart. I have been so touched by my good friends and those I work with at this paper, I just want to share my gratitude to those who read my column. I would also like to share some of the ups and downs that led me to where I am now.
Some of you know I have been married before. This will be my second time around. Most look at divorce as a failure. But for me, it has been the foundation for why I live in this community. Almost 10 years ago, my ex-husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Rancho Santa Fe. At the time, I was distraught over the move. We were still married and we had to move here for his career. I did not know anyone here. I was pregnant with Jackson and I felt so isolated and alone. When Jackson was born, my world was filled with his presence. I started to adapt to the quietness of the Ranch and the bright lights of L.A. faded with time. 
After my divorce from Jackson’s father, we remained good friends and placed our disagreements behind us for Jackson. My ex-husband remarried before me. He is still married to Jill. As a mother who now has a stepmother to a son, I am so lucky she is in my son’s life. Jill is kind to him and he just loves her, too.
Seven years later, our lives have all moved forward with some heartache and hard times. Three years ago, my ex fell ill from spinal meningitis. Fortunately, he pulled through. Jill stood by his side during this hard time. Real love grows stronger during tough times. I felt so thankful that Jackson also had his stepmom. At this time, I was still single, dating only a little. I began to wonder if I would remarry again like my ex did.
In the summer of 2007, my sister Tracy Chapman came out to see me. I was in the process of moving, so Jackson flew back to hang out with the grandparents in Iowa. While my sister was in California, I showed her all my hangouts — Mille Fleurs, the track, The Inn, and the Plaza in Del Mar. When my sister met Robin Shull (we were already friends), she simply said, “Why not that one, Machel?” 
As you might have guessed, that “one” turned out to be the man I am marrying this weekend. These last few years were not easy. They were sometimes tough and trying. Yet, thanks to wonderful friends, I managed to rebuild my heart, meet Robin, and fall in love with Rancho Santa Fe, too. Robin’s family has also been incredibly good to Jackson and me. I feel so blessed that they have accepted us both with open arms.
Now I have a career with this paper. What I love about those I work with at the Rancho Santa Fe News is they are just the most wonderful group to be around. Always positive and upbeat, I am inspired by my peers. Everyone here is so passionate about what they do and how much they love The Coast News Group. Writing this column has been an incredible experience. I have met many more Ranch residents and discovered so many lovely stories under the eucalyptus trees, and I love it just as much as the rest of you locals.
As I drove past the ocean this morning in Carlsbad, away from my parent’s fifth wheel, I remembered how I came to the Ranch. I remembered all of the roads that led me to this one. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for those who have been so good to me and have offered their friendship along the way. Life is not always easy or perfect. However, if you hold fast to your dreams, sometimes they happen … even if it’s a little later than expected.  
Around town
On June 25, Willis Allen celebrated Friday with “Dog day afternoon at Willis Allen.” Everyone was encouraged to bring their dogs to work. Now that’s what I call the royal mutt treatment and a fun place to work. Michael Citrin was kind enough to share a photo from that fun day in Rancho Santa Fe. Pictured are Michael Citrin with Ashton and Shammy, Chris Peters and Brooke Hansen with Gunner, Gary Wheeler, manager of the Willis Allen dog sled team, Deb Weir with Abby and Kim Kraft with Wylie. Thanks Michael for sharing with our team.
On June 27, Melissa Williams hosted a beautiful bridal shower for me at Mille Fleurs. If any of you read my column enough you know that this is one of my favorite places in Rancho Santa Fe. Twenty women arrived in style to enjoy a late afternoon glow inside the restaurant, adjacent to the courtyard. I must say that day ranked in the top five favorite days of my life. Melissa was such a sweetheart to take care of the entire event. All my friends enjoyed wonderful finger foods, fine cheeses and wines, compliments of the hostess. I introduced each of my friends and told one little story about how they have touched my life. I have included the group shot for you to see in my column. My favorite treat for the day had to be that my mother, Micky Kay Penn, was in town to sit right next to me. Thank you to Mille Fleurs for doing such a marvelous job and to Melissa Williams’ family for making such a wonderful day for all of us to remember. The second best treat had to be the cake, which was homemade by the Willams family.  Think blueberries and buttercream! Just wonderful.
On July 1, I was invited to stop by Morgan Run by Carol Bader from the Del Mar Hat Company. Carol had a trunk show there in the spa area. Embellishments was also there with a few good friends. Get ready for track season. It’s just around the corner. If you need a hat, look up The Del Mar Hat Co. Carol has been featured in many Southern California magazines, such as 944 and Ranch and Coast. I snapped a lovely picture of these beautiful women on a gorgeous day in Whispering Palms. Thanks for keeping me in the loop Carol. Go to for more information before it’s too late.
Later that evening, I stopped into Mille Fleurs to enjoy Tad Sisler playing the piano and see some of the locals out and about on a Wednesday evening. I ran into Lara Grow and Heather from Delicias restaurant. You may recognize these beauties as the two prettiest bartenders in town (Jill Drouin, too!). I always love to stop in and see them. I also ran into Karian and Tom Forsyth. They were thoroughly enjoying Tad’s music, and I felt lucky to be out in the middle of the week for a change. Thanks Heather and Lara for letting me share your photo in my column.
On July 4, I ventured to Rancho Santa Fe to enjoy the spectacular Fourth of July parade. Maybe it’s because I’m from a small town, but who needs the beach when there is a parade like that going on? The RSF Rotary Club had lots of goodies for the huge crowds. The highlight of the parade was when Congressman Brian Bilbray came up and took a photo with me. Each year the parade grows in size and with the announcer from the Community Center, it was a smash. If you missed the parade, make sure you are there next year. I snapped a gorgeous photo of Don and Lisa McVay right after the parade.
On July 8, I walked into work to discover my office had been decorated with fabulous white wedding bells and ribbons. All of those I worked with surprised me with a gorgeous cake and gift certificate to Macy’s for the wedding. I am going to brag now about the editorial, graphics and sales departments. My co-workers are just incredibly wonderful and are always so pleasant to work with each day of the week. Even though there are weekly deadlines, the pressure doesn’t show in this office. Thank you so much to everyone I work for — Jim and Chris, Laurie, Phyllis and the rest of the gang for just always being so nice. I am grateful to be in your presence.


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