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Observations of a recent immigrant to Grover Beach

A charming little community I had never heard of until less than a year ago



This week's guest commentary comes to us from none other than my own father, Don Hornaday, who recently relocated from Lake Forest to the Central Coast. In exchange for the privilege of sharing his formidable collection of books and music, my wife and I keep his cactus in bloom and prepare what he calls the best food he's ever had. His ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease is also featured in this week's cover story on medical marijuana (see page 8).

-Staff Writer Jeff Hornaday

I'm here at the invitation of my son, whose name you may recognize if you are a regular reader of the New Times. Jeff is an ace newshound for that esteemed periodical. I say this with a father's justifiable pride.

You may not know of Jeff, and therefore think he must be Fred's brother or Fred's something else. And who is Fred? A product of Jeff's imagination going back 20-plus years.

Dissatisfied with the label stuck on him by his parents, Jeff chose to re-identify himself as Fred. The name should actually have been Geoff, but we feared he might be unable to spell his own name and would thereby develop any number of complexes. Little did we know he would reject our choice anyway. So now you know why to this day Jeff is known as Fred to his contemporaries and to most of the citizens of the Central California coast. More than you ever wanted to know, right?

But I've not yet finished circumnavigating the family name. My charming daughter-in-law is proof that Jeff is a better chooser of spouses than names. Prominent in the SLO art world, Mrs. Jeff is known by a variety of monikers. Her parents named her Franziska, a nice name for a nice German kid. Franziska Hofmann. You can see the attraction to Jeff. If he were really Fred the two of them could share monogrammed aprons while preparing the meatless meals they both thrive on. But he isn't really and they can't so they don't.

Pacha is her nom de paintbrush, or other tool of the artist. You may have seen her featured in the New Times and perhaps know of her success in recent local art competitions. Talent easily trumps any charges of nepotism in this case.

So with her having these two names established, why am I not satisfied? The name Franny strikes me as a nice Americanization of Franziska. Beyond that, it brings back happy memories of my college days and of JD Salinger. Every English major in those days was either going to be another Salinger - or be his definitive biographer. As far as I know no one has turned either trick. But who is a more unforgettable character from the pages of Salinger than Franny Glass? Holden Caulfield. But who else?

How do the three of us get along in our polynomial Grover Beach abode? Just fine especially considering I have some rather serious medical problems rendering me immobile for much of the time and asleep most of the time when I should be awake. Need a label? Parkinson's disease has been identified as the primary villain in our story.

Here is as good a life as I could hope for. Where would I be had Jeff and Franny not taken me in? If you think the two of them go far beyond what could be expected of them in such circumstances, you are right. I keep busy watching Franny work on her art projects and Jeff pursue his hobby of landscaping and gardening. We anticipate having a prize-winning cactus garden and growing most of our own vegetables.

We watch videos and listen to an extensive CD collection. They feed me better than I have ever eaten and make my life as easy as possible. We're still looking for some bridge players, but that will come.

I do as much walking as I can, always in the company of at least one of my housemates. They occasionally take me to a local park or beach for more extended exercise, though my lack of stamina usually makes it necessary to be pushed in a wheelchair.

Contrasts with my previous home in Orange County are obvious, with my preference being for Grover Beach over Lake Forest, at least at this stage of my life. Who would miss the heat, congestion, and smog? Franny and Jeff give me all the companionship I could ask for, though I do miss a few special friends from Orange County. The telephone is always handy, of course, and I have already had a few visitors since moving in January.

Franny and Jeff have several friends who drop in once in a while. They offer pleasant company. I am intrigued by the language I hear in the SLO/Five Cities area. Sounds like a lot of refugees from Southern California in the '60s. Everything is cool, everybody is a dude (you supply the inflection), and the most well thought out rejection of the most philosophical concept is summarized by the expression no way. This idiosyncrasy I have learned to overcome with the simple response way. Language is all mimicry of course, and it is wonderful to hear what an exceptionally intelligent German can do with the local variation of English.

So I'm here, and here is a wonderful place to be. I'm confident it will only get better as we push toward summer and become more familiar with the neighborhood. ³


Don Hornaday is eagerly waiting for the long-term effects of living in Orange County to wear off. He can be reached at don@new-pagadee.com.

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