Machel's Ranch

A retreat to Pauma Valley and a birthday celebration

Being a Midwest farm girl originally from the foothills of the Ozarks in Missouri, you might understand my draw to the sleepy, remote town just east of here — Pauma Valley. My in-laws have a ranch there, which means Robin and I are able to retreat down into the valley where the peacocks run wild and authentic Mexican dinner for two is priced under $30.Nestled amongst citrus groves and avocado trees, this hidden jewel is set neatly against the backdrop of the Palomar Mountains. The vivid, lush emerald colors of the hillsides resonate in a zen sort of way for us both whenever we are fortunate enough to make time for a quick mountain getaway.

An orange glow outlined the hillsides as we drove down into the valley on our most recent trip to Pauma. The sharp turns on the road are such if you overshoot the angle on the curve you might not live to see tomorrow.

Once in Pauma Valley limits — population 871 — the world is quiet. The two-lane road opens up to rows of citrus groves that stand so tall you are unable to see the tops of the hillsides as you drive through town. If you miss the turnoff into the driveway of the main thoroughfare, be prepared to keep driving a couple of miles to find another exit to make a U-turn — which was exactly what happened to us that evening.

After driving two miles back into town, we located the sign that marked our destination: The Lazy H Motel and Restaurant. The sun had set. Dark blue colors were marked by the black horizon. The motel is barn apple red with white trim, accented with a shake-shingle roof.

This haven is surrounded by tall trees with sweeping long branches. The moon was full. The sign on the door said open. When Robin and I walked through the doors of this well-kept secret 45 minutes east of Rancho Santa Fe, we smiled a knowing smile. We had entered into another time and space where life exists quietly in the tranquility Pauma Valley.

Around town

Ranch resident Violet MacDonald celebrated her birthday in the beginning of May. You may know Violet as one of the most elegant and regal women in Rancho Santa Fe. Though featured in a local magazine with her amazing garden surrounding her secluded estate, Violet would never be one to brag. However, that’s what I will gladly do for her.

I have included a picture that captures a fulfilling moment at her birthday celebration. Surrounded by her grandchildren that day, Violet MacDonald exudes love for all of her many blessings. Happy belated birthday Violet, you deserve it!

On May 16, I received an amazing photograph from Ranch realtor Michael Citrin with a description in his own words: “This unique plant, in the eichium family, was introduced to my property above Lake Hodges about 3 years ago. Since then, it has issued spores and has popped up in a couple of locations. The plant starts out looking like a weed, but with water only, it shot a spike and then bloomed. The spike grew in less than 2 months and it is just astounding. The flowers last about a month and then it dries. I have invited many people over to look at them and no one has ever seen anything like it.” Thank you, Michael for sharing for this photo with the readers! Wow.

On May 19 and May 20, Fresh Start supporters and volunteers were there to help change the lives of children who needed treatments which included: 10 reconstructive surgeries on children ranging from the ages of 1 to 21; eight patients who received speech therapy; and 12 patients who received laser treatments. Also, there were many other post-operative appointments that were made that weekend.

Amanda Thompson, development manager of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, was kind enough to share this exciting news with me. Congratulations to all of those that were involved on this very special weekend.

On May 21, I received an exciting photo that captures the exuberance of baseball amongst fathers, coaches and sons. The Del Mar Majors Yankees team did not win all of their games or maybe advance into the play-offs as far as they hoped they would, but in the end their efforts of sportsmanship and team camaraderie is captured here at their final celebration after their last game. Sometimes a picture does paint a thousand words.

On May 22, I heard from an old friend of mine Elle France. I am always excited to reconnect with those who have been wonderful friends to me at different times in my life. How exciting to hear from her now that she and her good friend Kathryn Hiskey have successfully launched a dating service here in San Diego.

KATELLE is the name of their matchmaking service that caters to men and women looking to meet other singles. While other matchmaking services may just focus on finding a “wife” or a “husband” for their clients, KATELLE offers matches for those that may just be looking to date casually.

Elle and Kathryn also offer one-on-one coaching that can help their client be more readily prepared to find the perfect match they are seeking; albeit temporarily or permanently. I have featured a cool picture of them here, just in case you may be looking for a service just like this but don’t feel like signing up on an online dating service. If you may need some guidance in your own search for cupid’s arrow, visit

On May 24, I found out some exciting news from Tad Sisler. Many of you Ranch residents probably know Tad from Mille Fleurs piano bar on Wednesday nights here in town. He is a dynamic musician with a warm personality that adds to this town’s nightly scene. Tad has informed me of an important documentary project he is involved in called “Legends Among Us.”

This documentary will include the lives and artistry of many musicians who may have been forgotten without this project. If you are interested in donating to help preserve the memory of important musicians who deserved to be remembered, visit

If you have a fun event you would like Machel Penn to cover, contact her at

Zsa Zsa Gabor takes a few tips from the “Mother of Western Yoga,” Indra Deva, far right, during a 1960 session at Golden Door.   Courtesy photo/Golden DoorTri-City Medical Center has introduced the Zilver PTX drug-eluting peripheral stent — a self-expanding, small, metal, mesh tube that helps prevent the clogged artery from narrowing again. Courtesy photoThe theatrical biography “Zora” is part of the Oceanside Public Library Big Read program centered around “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Cheryl Howard, of The American Place Theatre Company, plays Zora Neale Hurston in “Zora.”  Photo by Promise YeeMural artist Linda Luisi demonstrates live painting during the fundraiser. Paintings were auctioned off to raise funds for the Rancho Coastal Humane Society. Photo by Promise YeeDavid Zito

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