I could not wait until 2014. 2013 has been such a good year for Carol and I that it deserves to be ushered out. Later tonight (9PM PST) we will watch the new year come in as a New York broadcast. That is as it should be for people our age. The new year should come in 3 hours earlier if you are past 65. Midnight should be left for those who are not snoring at that time.

LasCasuelasTerraza

Earlier we drove into Palm Springs and had a Margarita at Las Casuelas Terraza. Just one though. Margaritas make Carol silly. A friend recently told me "having one is having a Margarita; having two is drinking". Earlier, we had a call from the Powrie home in Collingwood. We have spent many a New Years Eve at the Powrie's with good friends from the old neighbourhood. Carol and I both miss them tonight. I miss the Mushroom Soup too. I am in my PJs (we are home now). It is dark in the court yard. I will BBQ by flashlight this evening and love every second of it. We have chairs for the table, and a loaner for the top. All is good.

After dinner we will settle in to watch Dick Clark. I know he is dead, but somehow we will keep the tradition going. Happy New Year! to all friends and family. You are very important - take good care of yourselves. See you in 2014.

I don't often drink beer, but when I do, I drink Caguama | December 22, 2013

My favourite beer and I can only get it at Ralph's just down the street. 32oz of beer from El Salvador for $1.99, and it helps me earn a further discount at the gas pumps. Cross-marketing is a wonderful, wonderful thing; the more I drink, the further my car will go.

Bought three pot lights at Home Depot and had an electrician install them (bill to come). They buzzed. Called him back and he said get a new dimmer. Installed a new dimmer as recommended by Home Depot. They buzzed. Bought new spotlights and installed them myself (electrician money spent). No buzz yet, but not finished. I am playing tennis at Shadow Mountain (uppity tennis club) this morning and do not have time to finish the job.

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Micky Newbury

music

I first heard of Micky Newbury in the lyrics of a song by Jennifer Warnes. I have become quite a Micky fan. He was a pretty unique talent that I wish I had been able to see. Here is a 1 hour show that I recommend:

ChairBoxes LivingRoom

A bunch of boxes arrived tonight. We now have chairs at the counter, and we were able to sit quite civilized and have dinner. I thought that I would also include a photo of the living room (yes, I did hang that mirror all by myself). After it was hung I started wondering about earthquakes. Have I done it correctly for a house sitting right on top of the San Andreas Fault? Today I went to Ace Hardware and asked if the technique I used was correct for this part of the country. I also asked some residents at the complex. Everybody had the same response - if there is a good earthquake, the mirror will be the least of my worries. Only one person asked if it was above my pillow in the bedroom.

A glass top has been ordered for the dining table. It should arrive December 21 so that we can have our Xmas dinner on a table. We are now known in the neighbourhood as the couple without chairs, without bar stools, and no table. We are being invited out a bit as a result. When I think of it, it is a pretty good scam we are pulling. Once the glass top arrives, it will likely all end. But for tonight we eat someone else's cooking.

Today was Bronwen's concert. It seems funny not being there. The Festival Wind Orchestra put a lot of effort into their productions and they are very professional shows. Carol and I enjoy it every time. I will be working with the orchestra to make certain that they hold their Xmas concert in June or July in the future.

Carol's sister Sue is not doing too well right now. She is mid-way through her chemotherapy, and this week she took a tumble and broke her arm. She has been hospitalized for the past four days while they get her healthy enough to set the arm. We are holding our breath. Our thoughts are constantly with Dave and Erin.

I partnered with the tennis pro's father (remember the 80 year old money player) against a couple of much younger players yesterday. We lost pretty miserably 4-6, 2-6. I was definitely the weakest player of the four. I think that Leoncio was pretty pissed with my play. Leoncio is not used to losing. In all fairness, I am willing to use the 70 years that our team gave up, as an excuse. It would appear that he is not so inclined.

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Where in the wide wide world is Bronwen?

December 14th is the annual Xmas Concert for the Festival Wind Orchestra. See if you can find Bronwen in the photograph below.

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The table has arrived! Well, not the whole table. We thought that the glass was too green, and that it was 4 inches to big. Remember, we only want 56", not 60". We start the search for an appropriate glass top tomorrow. We really do like the base though, and we met a delivery family (Fabricio, and his son Damian) that will pick up anything in the valley and deliver it to our home for $65. How can you beat that! One issue that I can see looming is that Carol now thinks that she is an accomplished "consignment" shopper. I am not sure that is a good thing. Still having our meals using lawn chairs and the breakfast bar although I expect this to change soon.

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Partied with our American friends on Saturday night. Carolling started at 4PM followed by pot-luck appetizers at 5:30PM. About 60 people at the clubhouse, but only 4 ladies carolling. I thought of joining in, and then thought better of it. Home in bed watching TV by 8:30PM.

Sunday was 6 hours of cruising the consignment and other furniture stores. We still do not have a table of any sort, so meals are awkward and I am still typing up hill. I think that we have found a used glass top table though. We will be going back to a consignment store in Indio to look at an iron base with a 60" glass top. Carol will allow a maximum of 56" for the glass top, so we are really only interested in the base. I can get an appropriate 56" top on the internet for $160, but the shipping to our door is $300. Hmmm. Something should give here. I wait and see.

I was pretty certain that I would be constantly engaged in discussion by our American friends and neighbours about the activities of Rob Ford. In my mind I had prepared a group of throw-away lines that I thought might end the conversation without all that much discussion. To my surprise, There has not been that much talk of the mayor, and that which has happened was quite likely started by me.

When I meet new people they always ask where I am from, and I reply "Ontario", or "Toronto", or "Collingwood, Ontario", depending on how much data I think is necessary. Not always, but at least once for each of these answers, the person asking has responded "Oh, eastern Canada". Usually, the conversation also has a short section about Rob Ford.

One of my American friends hit the nail on the head; Americans do no know much about Canada. They do not carry a mental image of the map of Canada in their heads the way Canadians do of the United States. I once corrected a new friend by saying that Toronto is more central, and they were OK with that, but then informed me that they must have been thinking about Montreal being in eastern Canada. This is all OK, and Canadians should expect this, (really, I think we like it that way). The map of Canada should be important to Canadians, not Americans. Americans do have more important things in this world than Canada to think about. To get back to my friends point:

"the shame is that one of the few things that Americans now know about Canada is that Rob Ford is the mayor, that he is a criminal, and there is nothing the city, the province, or the federal government can or will do to remove him from office".

"One of the few things that many Americans now know about Canada". Ouch! To exaggerate, the American experience of Canada may be limited to the Iranian hostage situation of 40 years ago, and this is now being challenged by the Rob Ford story. Ouch. We have truly fallen from grace.

Thank goodness Black Friday is over. Not that Carol and I have finished furnishing this place, but that the thousands of Americans are now out of our way.

Shopping

We still have lots of work to do. In the past, if a clerk asked if they could help me, while I was loitering, waiting for Carol, I always said "I think that my wife has been kidnapped by store personnel, can you tell me what the ransom is?". These days I just explain that "I am with the lady over there, the one working on her black-belt in shopping".

Really though, we are down to just a few hundred things. Right now I am sitting on a lawn chair, with my laptop on the breakfast bar; you could call it up-hill typing. I can angle the screen so that I can see it, but the tops of the keys are nearly out of sight. I could use a bar stool.

Although I have focused on the shopping, we have taken time to play. With the exception of Sunday, one, the other, or both of us have played tennis each day, and yesterday (Sunday), I watched an exhibition match between Isobel (club pro) partnered with her 80 year-old dad Leoncio against an 18ish whippersnapper and his father. It was a nice 2 set win for Isobel and dad.

Isobel and Leoncio are from the old days of tennis. When she was a little girl growing up in South America, Leoncio would arrange "cash games" with Isobel as his partner to supplement his coaching. She has that same look in her eyes when talking about it that I am certain I have, when I think of merry-go-rounds.

This morning we both have some play time, then we are heading into LA to look at bedroom furniture. Yea!

We arrived in Palm Desert Tuesday afternoon, Really glad to be here, but both of us pretty grumpy bears. One look at the new, empty vacation home immediately overwhelmed both of us. It is one thing arriving to a clean, furnished rental home with internet, TV, cutlery and dishes; it is quite a different feeling arriving to an empty shell. Decorating was a fun thought several months ago, but not today.

It is day three in Palm Desert now and we have started to settle in. Cutlery and a TV has been purchased. Dishes may come in the next couple of days. We now have towels. After tennis today we can go looking for a dresser.

Black Friday was a bit of fun. We started at BestBuy on Thursday evening (Sales start at 6PM and run all night). Got in and out with the TV of my choice in 20 minutes, and not once did I feel that I might be trampled. Saved about 25% (you never really know). Met a couple in the payment line from London, Ontario who now live here full time. The next store was Kohl's where there was a deal on 82 pieces of Oneida cutlery for $47. I kept handing it to Carol. She kept setting it down and picking up a set of 65 pieces for $159. I would take it out of her hands and replace it with the $47 set. She would just set that one back down. I was saved by the length of the checkout line. It was taking forever, and eventually Carol abandoned her purchase. We have cutlery though; found the same stuff at another store, 65 pieces for $99. Gotta love Black Friday.

Today Carol is having a tennis lesson and playing in the drop-in round robin. I have played three days in a row and I am taking the day off. I have been playing even though I have been suffering from flu-like symptoms (and I do mean all of the symptoms). I think that I am on the mend, but at one point it felt like 2009 in Italy all over again.

Time Warner will come by today to hook up the internet at the shack. I am using the new connection at the clubhouse at this time. Once we are set up at home, I can get back on the air and post some photos.