The 4th day is always the longest driving day - 616 miles; all I can do at my age. We did it with only 4 stops. If I could live in the US full time, Flagstaff would be very high on my list of possibilities. The population is about 70,000, it has a University and a historical district that is wonderful. Brew pubs and restaurants abound. It is 100 kilometres from the Grand Canyon, 4 hours from Las Vegas, 1 hour from Sedona. It is situated 7000 feet above sea level. A terrific town.
It has been 2 months and 19 days since I last wrote on the VOX. I am disappointed with myself. I have become really, really lazy. Quite a bit has happened since February 6th and I am going to try to remember it now.
- First and foremost Joan "Joanie" turned 66.
- I played my first tennis match in a USTA League. My partner was a very good friend and good player and we did not do well. As a matter of fact not doing well became a bit chronic. We took some lessons together and we promised our captain that we would do better (improvement everywhere but the scoreline). I think that it was good for us. We were both playing better at season end. Those on the other teams should watch out next year. Carol also played on a USTA team. I think that she really enjoyed the competition.
- Carol and some girls friends took a "time out" at Newport Beach for a few days. I have the photographs - nice scenes of jugs of margaritas with the Pacific ocean in the background. Hmmm -- very nice. I took a drive in the desert looking for the "lost mine shaft" -- nope, did not find a thing.
- Carol continued with her tennis lessons with Isabel -- like I couldn't help -- I would have said, "hit the ball, hit it harder!"
- The Pizza Party was a big event for Carol and I. A niece of good friends of ours was coming to visit. She was also entered in a "pizza" competition at a Las Vegas food conference -- a bonafide food star. Ashley's competition recipe was pizza with double-smoked bacon, smoked cheddar, and caramelized onion tomato sauce. Carol and I could not resist inviting her to build pizzas for a party at 99 VW. 14 people were invited to eat from-scratch, home-made pizza from a cheap old Frigidaire electric oven. Another good friend demonstrated pizza on the BBQ. Wonderful night in spite of having to scrap the tomato sauce footprints from the the living room floor in the morning. Wonderful, wonderful evening.
Ashley came 6th in the Pizza Conference
- Early March is the Indian Wells tennis tournament. We spent 5 nice day watching tennis - how about the return of Del Potro from the 4th row! It really does make you humble when you realize how much better the professionals are at the game. My best hit is their worst hit.
- A real treat - time out from tennis to visit the Getty art museum in Los Angles. We took a hotel room on Malibu beach -- a really nice experience. We should have rented surf boards. The next day we visited the Grammy Museum in downtown LA. -- a very nice treat again.
- Tennis -- tennis -- tennis -- mixed in with the end of season party -- party. These get togethers are where folk are trying to get rid of the wine, beer and liquor leftovers.
- Finally won a couple of matches in the USTA league. Turns out competitive play requires a different set of skills from everyday tennis -- winning.
All and all a great season. It is good to be home though. We are looking forward to the yard cleanup, Eryn's 1st birthday, our new dish washer, and visits with folk we have not seen since last year.
Here is a photo taken by Bronwen of Eryn having lunch while waiting to catch a flight at Palm Springs International Airport.
For the past week we have had family as company. It has been a quiet visit as Eryn is just 9 months old and she does need her sleep. Tuesday night we invited all of the husbands who's wives were away (husbands left to dog-sit) to join us for burgers and beer. Ken and Gary were the victims of that evening. Last night we met Bill and Linda in Palm Springs for Happy Hour at the Matchbox and an introduction to Eryn, then did the Thursday night street fair.
Not certain yet what is happening today. Tomorrow our little family heads home.
Silver Sands decided that we would enter a team into a USTA league this year (over 55, doubles, each court no more than 7.0 total on the Richter scale). Some people want to practice. So we are going to do drills this morning. 68 years old and some whipper-snapper is going to yell "move your feet". Some people will do anything to hit one ball in a hundred better. I am just adopting a new approach to the game - I call it "What would Willie do?" Does Willie practice for his concerts? Hardly.
Finally saw the outlaw legend himself. Willie came to a casino in the valley and we had four tickets. The show was billed as Willie and Family. Family consists of "family" members that have toured with Willie for over 40 years. The lineup included his sister, Bobbie, on the piano; drummer Paul English, harmonicist Mickey Raphael and bassist Kevin Smith. Billy English joined in 2010 to help his brother Paul after he suffered a stroke the same year. Willie is now 82 year old and there have been rumoured health scares in the past 3 months that cancelled the early parts of this tour. He performed for a solid 75 minutes, running through many of the best songs in his vast catalog including: Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground, Back On The Road, and Crazy. A portion of the set was dedicated to old Hank Williams songs. Although it is difficult to find good young singers here in the valley, there are always legends flying through.
If anybody is wondering how we have been affected by the rain in Palm Desert - it is the first real rain we have had here in our 5 years of visiting. We managed to work in 2 hours of tennis before it started to sprinkle. About 11AM the rain really started and it kept up for about 7 hours. Our eavestroughs overflowed (must be full of Bougainvillea or grapefruit). Here is a photo of the mountains covered in snow this morning.
We went out for dinner in the rain with a bunch of friends and neighbours. Murph's Gaslight for "family style" fried chicken - pails of beef barley soup followed by great platters of pan-fried chicken with bowls of mashed potatoes, kernel corn, black-eyed peas, and gravy, accompanied by platters of corn bread and dinner rolls, and finally finished with strawberry short cake. We could only eat about half of the chicken on the platters, so they came by and topped each platter up to full again, and then give everybody a doggie bag to take the chicken home. More than once I heard "it really is is good fried chicken". Cholesterol counts in the neighbourhood are off the scale this morning.
Tonight we will be avoiding all of the potential terrorist sites in Palm Desert. We will not be watching Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper on CNN. We will not even be watching all of the angst and concern over the terrorists on CNN. Quite honestly the terrorists are a waste of time. We hire governments to deal with terrorists.
We are going to use our precious time to see Star Wars (the movie). Tomorrow, ahh, it is a new year we will be visiting with some friends from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Seattle, Colorado, California, Alaska - - all of us assembled here in Palm Desert solely to share some of Jim Johnson's New Years ham. Marinated lovingly for 3 or 4 days then slow roasted for 10 hours, served with rye bread and a good dollop of Dijon mustard. A terrific way to bring in the New Year.
!Hint: Carol and I wish everybody a healthy dollop of Dijon mustard in the new year.
Happy New Year all!
We are waiting impatiently for 7:30 AM PST to roll around. It would not have mattered what time was chosen for the online christmas morning meet-up on the web (aka FaceTime), we would have been impatient for that time to arrive.
To fill the few minutes before the call - we started christmas eve in the morning with a couple of hours of tennis. I expected to see more of the players dressed in red and wearing antlers, but it was just pretty typical drop-in tennis. When play was finished people seemed to sit, drink coffee and eat cookies for a little longer, and there were cheers of "Merry Christmas" as people drifted away, but otherwise a typical southern California morning here at Silver Sands.
The afternoon was spent picking up a few last minute supplies for christmas dinner and then off for christmas eve dinner at Fresh Agave one of the several good Mexican restaurants in the valley - ok, one of several Mexican restaurants that know how to make a good margarita and also serve good Mexican food. Dinner was with good friends from the San Francisco area, Amy and Robin. Amy is also my partner in crime with our little website venture.
I may have put my foot into christmas day. We have been invited to dinner with some other friends Ken and Carol (of Seattle). I have made a big fuss about turkey cooking bags - how easy they are to use and how wonderful the turkey cooks that the traditional cooking method is being nervously abandoned for the new method. If the turkey is not ready on time, if one morsel is not cooked perfectly I will be roasted on Boxing Day. i await my fate.
Listening to a lot of Dallas Green, You+Me, and City and Colour - all Dallas Green. I have managed to signup for Pandora One. Hope I can haul it back to Canada in the spring.
A few months ago I caught a glimpse of a documentary on TVO titled Don't Panic, The Truth About Population. I needed to see the rest of this documentary, so I found it on YouTube. It is about an hour long, but the presenter was so energetic and his messages so exciting that I did not want it to end. In fact I have watched it more than once. Hans Rosling, the presenter is a Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician and public speaker. I have concluded after watching a few presentations by Dr. Rosling that I do not know very much about the world. I have always felt that we were making progress on the important gender, health and economic issues, but then there is the despair built by CNN groaning on and on about the problem areas of the world, seldom showing the progress, just focusing on politics and shootings. Watching a bit of Hans Rosling can be a tonic for all of the negativity of normal broadcasting. I recommend watching:
When you are finished, if you enjoyed it, try Googling for more video presentations. I was not disappointed.
I am thinking about sending out christmas cards. Here is a candidate: