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Stories by Leslie Ryland

Pine Valley – way past suburbia

Pine Valley Store, Pine Valley Bridge, Laguna fire, fall foliage

We didn't have a street address in Pine Valley I took my children on a trip to my past. Friday after Thanksgiving, I herded Rebecca, Angela, Johnny, and Ben into our van. Lucy, who had ...

La Costa, Del Mar, Valley Center, Talmadge, Ramona, San Ysidro, Lemon Grove, City Heights, University City, Mission Beach, Julian, Carmel Valley, Scripps Ranch, East Lake, Linda Vista, Serra Mesa

At home in San Diego

Where I live, no major high-volume road cuts apart the 'hood. People can cross the street without becoming dead. The amoeba-shaped Balboa Park Municipal Golf Course and grid-busting canyons have made a rabbit warren of the streets.

The Valley Center far away from Harrah’s casino

At the end of a winding asphalt road, past boulders and gated ranches, past riotous tumbles of magenta bougainvillea, past dirt roads that disappear into orange groves dappled with midday sun, you'll find Peter Schaner. ...

Michelle Taylor and Paul Galkoski

Third time’s a charm

“We were dancing,” Mr. Galkoski says. “Things went so well, we drove down to La Jolla Shores.” “We sat on a bench talking and making out like a couple of high school kids,” Miss Taylor says .

Zach Starr and Sascha Clark

The perfect San Diego couple is from Texas

“I heard Sascha had broken up with her boyfriend. I went out to dinner with a bunch of my friends. Afterward, we went to the place where Sascha worked. I asked her for her number.”

Rich and Brooke Toscano

Status update after a year of marriage

Just last week, Mr. and Mrs. Toscano celebrated their first anniversary. “Rich took me salsa dancing at Café Sevilla,” Mrs. Toscano says. “I had been browbeating him for a year to take me dancing."

John Beaver and Deanna Johnson

The long-distance relationship that worked out.

During their early college years, Miss Johnson and Mr. Beaver broke up for two years. “We had been together for so long. We both had growing up to do. We needed to go our separate ways.”

Corey Allen and Cheryl Abitria

Touchy-feely in Vegas

Miss Abitria’s parents were less than thrilled. “My mom and dad are from the Philippines. They’re very traditional. They didn’t like the tattoos. My dad said, ‘This guy’s got a lot of baggage.’“

Dave Duncan and Sherry Eden

Sherry proposes to Dave...who sleeps on it

“We shopped all day in the Diamond District in downtown L.A.” Mr. Duncan says. “It took eight hours. We went into more than eight stores.” “We found the stone at one store and the band at another.”

Katie Kovacs and Josh Englefield

She thought of becoming a nun before Josh.

“I had dated other guys, I always had the sense that they wanted me for a trophy. Josh was different. It was as though he looked into me. He asked me questions and listened to the answers."

Kevin Leinum and Breanne Taylor

Hey, Breanne Taylor, look here.

“We ended up playing volleyball that Sunday at South Mission Beach. I had told her on Friday that a group of us were going to play. A single woman wouldn’t show up. But there she was.”

Mimi Grifkin and Steve Rasky

The cat pays love’s price

Miss Grifkin, 42, shoots Mr. Rasky a teasing look. “He said he was 42. On our second date, I asked him for his ID.” “She actually asked to see my driver’s license. Can you believe it?”

Kathryn Stafford and Michael Strom

He was Batman and I was Wonder Woman

"They work you like used-car salesmen. It always comes down to a meeting in a little room. The salesperson is on one side of the table saying, ‘Do you want to make your girlfriend happy and buy today?’”

Gabriela Arroyo and Jose Luis Rojano

A fine art proposal

The couple went on their first date to Busalacchi’s about a month after they met. “He was so nervous when he asked me, he kept saying, ‘You can think about it if you want.’“

Melissa Ortaleza and Kenneth Cook

I said ‘I love you’ at Buffalo Joe’s

“We were talking. Melissa got distracted by a bug. I used that opportunity to take the ring out of my pocket. I got down on one knee and said, ‘I love you. Here’s the ring.’”

Jeff Klassen and Desiree Slane

Temecula surfer to wed punk-rock accountant

They went on their first date at Chili’s off Mission Gorge Road near SDSU. “I knew he liked me because he wanted to take me to the movies after dinner even though we hadn’t planned on that.”

Matthew Lyons and Kristina McDonald

In love with a Marine’s 17-year-old girl

“He told me that he had a thing for Japanese girls. I grew up in Okinawa and moved here when I was 11. I told him, ‘I’m only half Japanese, so it wouldn’t work out.’”

Jeremy Pleso and Jocelyn Lee

Picked up permanently at Yogi’s

Mr. Pleso told Ms. Lee to leave the room for a minute. When she came back, he was standing by the Christmas tree. He spoke to her in terms of endearment, asked her to marry him.

Bethany Skinner and Michael Burke

Quiet lass snags armored knight

“It was cold, so Bethany had on my jacket. I got down on one knee and reached into the pocket of the jacket she was wearing and pulled out the ring box.”

Carolina Celaya and Wayne Morris

Sexy grease monkey gets hot massage

“I wanted the cheapest service. Wayne kept trying to sell me other things, like, did I want the car vacuumed? He was wearing his blue mechanic’s uniform. He was a little dirty. He looked hot."

Erwin Castillo and Brianne Stewart

Erwin has no bad qualities.

Ms. Stewart gazes at Mr. Castillo. “Erwin is so loving and considerate all the time,” she says. “He has no bad qualities. Most everyone has things about them that get on your nerves. Not Erwin.”

Bree Henderson and Ryan Cornforth

A Navy guy makes his move for a home run

He decided to stay with the baseball theme. “We had seen people get engaged at the stadium. But it was so cheesy. They just put your name on the big screen, ‘So-and-so, will you marry me?’”

Scott Weinpel and Leslie Smith

“I’m not interested in guys all that often,” Ms. Smith admits. By the time they went out on their first one-on-one date, she already knew she liked him. She even told him.

San Marcos

Looking for a representative cross-section of San Marcos residents? Try the 24 Hour Fitness in the Vons center at San Marcos Boulevard and Rancho Santa Fe Road any weekday morning around 6:30. As you walk ...

100 grateful San Diegans

Family, health, job, fun, cel phone

Diane Jones30Marketing DirectorMarriedCollege AreaInterviewed at the Natural History Museum, Balboa Park I’m grateful that my father — he’s 63 — is healthy and happy. He had an accident last year; he had a flesh-eating bacteria ...

San Marcos choreographed gymnastics

Tiffany and the optionals

At 5:25 on an early summer afternoon, the sun still blazed outside the big metal roll-up doors at Stars and Stripes Gymnastics. Inside the San Marcos gym, coaches’ commands and the squeak of the parallel ...

31 San Diegans on California's death row

Bernard Lee Hamilton, Ivan and Veronica Gonzales, Susan Eubanks

When Judge William Mudd sentenced David Westerfield to death on January 3 of this year, Westerfield joined a special subset of San Diegans. Of the 616 inmates on California’s death row, 31, including Westerfield, were ...

Six San Diego men take an imaginary leap across the gender divide

If I'd been born a woman

“Don’t be such a girl.” I hear the boys taunt each other at the playground near my house. “Don’t be such a girl.” Nothing could be worse. Most men agree. Sitting on the couch with ...

Judge Dick Murphy runs for mayor of San Diego

Vote for me I'm an attorney

On a clear November morning, Judge Dick Murphy can see most of San Diego from the corner of his backyard. On a hillside in the saint-named streets behind St. Therese Catholic Church in San Carlos, ...

Dick Murphy announces San Diego mayor candidacy at Mission Trails

Soccer parents show up

On the day Judge Dick Murphy officially announced his candidacy for mayor of San Diego, a lazy Santa Ana wind meandered through Mission Gorge. In the main parking lot at Mission Trails Regional Park, a ...

Judge Dick Murphy hosts mayor campaign party at Gaslamp Quarter art gallery

He had given this speech before

What do you do if you're a superior court judge and you want to be mayor of San Diego? You take an unpaid leave of absence and ask your friends for campaign money. On a ...

Pine Valley girl recalls the 1970 Laguna fire

Red sky

In the fall of 1970, California caught fire. Between September 25 and October 3 that year, the U. S. Forest Service recorded 16 fires that consumed over 528,000 acres statewide. From Humboldt County in the ...

What San Diego lawyers wear to court

The district attorney is a pretty good dresser

"You’ve got 12 people in the jury box, and all you need is 1 or 2 who don’t like you for some reason, and you may lose a case on that basis."

Welcome, GOP Convention Delegates, to San Diego, City of Shame

The maid had been referred to the Wilsons by Neil Morgan’s wife. The legality of her work status was still not known, said Davies. He said Wilson’s ex-wife Betty had handled all of the other details.