Monday, February 27, 2012

Dominique's Memorial in Valley Center

In a land long, long ago and far, far away, The John Evans family lived at a quaint seven acre ranch in a never heard of place in North San Diego County called Valley Center.

The love affair that I had with my favorite ex husband, John, was made all the happier because of the addition of his two daughters, Dominique and Wendy.

We had a small Arabian Horse Ranch, which was really more of a hobby, and a big yellow dog we rescued from the pound named Wrecker.  It was there that I fell in love with Dominique.  She taught me how to ride horses.  Not until much later did I discover that Arabians are the kind of horses full of fire, meant for endurance and long days in the hot desert sun.  Dominique told me one day, "Just put on this bare back pad and the reins, then let's go gallop the horses on the trail on the longest flat stretch we can find.  Just lean forward, grab onto the mane and you'll be fine."  Luckily she had a Step-Mom that would fall for just about any scheme she could dream up.

Dominique with Angel. She's not even wearing a bare back pad!

The years we lived there were filled with fun, laughter, trail riding, watching really bad B horror movies and eating at the only local restaurant, Fat Ivor's BBQ joint.  The days in Valley Center continue to bring all of us many fond memories.

John came up with the idea of getting a drought resistant plant, and planting it, along with Dominique's ashes, on the property.  Of course, we had no idea if anyone lives there now or what we might encounter.

As You may have guessed, the address of the Ranch was 29105.  Can't pull anything over on this crowd.

In my world, this sign means "Welcome"

When we arrived, we found out that someone does indeed live in the "modular home" which is really a fancy name for a double wide.  I'm trying to be polite here, but I'm here to tell you that no matter how much decking you surround said structure with, you can plant all the bougainvillea you want to make it look pretty - if your house sports a license plate - it's a mobile home!

We knocked on the door and since no one was home, off to work we went with our shovel.  Rapidly.

Here is where some of the ashes of our dear sweet Dominique reside.  Beautiful plant!
We took a memorable tour of the property, tears filling our eyes.  I left a special letter I had written to Dominique wedged in between some woodwork by the horse workout arena.

Wendy, Angela and Jessica in front of where we planted Dominique's plant.

Wendy's daughter, Lauren. You can see the horse workout arena in the background.

Next it was off to Fat Ivor's Rib Rack for "All You Can Eat Here" Ribs.  Next time you're in Valley Center, you must check out these ribs.  They fall right off the bone.  The three large beef ribs with all the fixin's was about all I could eat.  The family laughed and told old family stories.  I could feel Dominique sitting at the laminated picnic table with us as songs from the 80's played in the background.

Now let me explain a little something to you about Dominique's father, John, and his eating habits.  He loves buffets.  Perhaps it comes from a military background where you grabbed a tray and went through the mess hall line as fast as you could, eating as much as young growing men can.  Dominique always made fun of him for that.  She enjoyed fine dining - not mess hall eating.  Valley Center has not changed very much in the past twenty five years.  With one exception.  The Valley View Casino.  This is not just any casino.  It boasts the Mother Of All Buffets!  No one in the family wanted to go to this monstrosity of a place, set amongst the peaceful bucolic setting of Valley Center, but off we went - for dessert.  Just parking at this place makes you feel like you're at a major International Airport complete with immense concrete parking structure.  All I can say is - thank God for minors.  We were not permitted to enter because Wendy's kids, Conley and Lauren minors.

Instead we went to a deli and ice cream shop where the weirdest thing happened.  When we walked in, we saw a woman sitting at a table with two other people.  She looked so much like Dominique that none of us could take our eyes off of her.  She had the same hair, a little pink color added to it, a laptop, just like Dominique always liked - to cozy in with for writing sessions at coffee shops, the same mannerisms.  Freaky!

When we left, I just had  to take a photograph of her.  I pretended that I was taking a video with my IPhone, but then zoomed in on this unsuspecting woman and snapped the shot.

As Angela and I were pulling out of the parking lot, a man who had been watching me from inside the deli came running out to our car.  He looked to about thirty five, perhaps an ex-marine,  "Tell me you were taking picture of the window and not my wife." Mr. Ex Marine demanded.  I broke into nervous laughter.  The guy looked like he was ready to start something up!  "Should we tell him"?  Said I.  Angela took over.  "Our sister just passed away, and your wife looks just like her" she said with her head hung.  What else could the guy say but a lame "Oh"

I will not leave you with a photo of the Dominique look alike in the spirit of protecting the innocent.

Instead, here's a photo of the lovely Dominique.  She inspires us all to live life with class.  Dominique, we love you.  Thank you for spending the day in Valley Center with us.  We all felt you there, laughing right along, and giving Mr. Ex Marine a run for his money.

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