I do not think that Rogers ever did anything right the first time for me when I was their customer. If I called to cancel a block of stations, they would do it but then add the Rogers Magazine to my account, somewhat negating the savings that I was trying to achieve. Not so with Time Warner. I called them last week to ask for my service to be restored when I got here today, and they told me that everything was being restored 5 days ago. They had recorded my wishes from last spring and were going to execute on the day we agreed back then. I was pretty certain that when I got here I would have to call for some reason. So far not so; everything is working fine.



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.

  1. First and foremost Joan "Joanie" turned 66.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Carol continued with her tennis lessons with Isabel -- like I couldn't help -- I would have said, "hit the ball, hit it harder!"
  5. 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

  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Eryn Having Lunch

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.

Bronwen & Eryn

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.

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.

SnowOnSanJacinto PanFriedChicken

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.

Star Wars


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.

Terrorists Kathy and Anderson

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.

Star Wars

Happy New Year all!

Arrived safe and sound on December 1st and we have settled in very nicely. The house had been cleaned and the furniture moved out into the patio, but we needed to get food and water. I always leave a few bottles of beer and wine in the fridge when we leave so there is not a lot of pressure. Tennis started the next day so the social side is also under control.

Carol arrived with some gruesome headaches and I arrived with my sinus faucets wide open. Some antihistamines and pain killers and we are starting to come around.

Yesterday we purchased some gardening tools and started to spruce the place up a bit. We intend this to be a lower investment year, so it seemed appropriate that Friday we were at Best Buy purchasing a new washer and dryer and today we have ordered a new front entrance door. The good news is that we feel quite at home. Temperature is in the low sixties at night and mid seventies during the day. We cannot complain about that.

I dragged my baking steel 15 pounds of steel to California (put it on Carol's side of the car to balance the weight) to master BBQ pizza. The steel was heated to about 500 degrees (F) and then I slid a homemade pizza onto it. The result - about 1/16th (ok, maybe an 1/8th) of an inch of carbon, then 3/8th of an inch of nearly cooked dough covered by the toppings. The toppings were good. Carol and I ate enough carbon to filter our liquids for about a week. Next I will try the oven, I have had quite a bit of success with this at home. Gotta keep pushing the envelope though.

We are watching Anderson Cooper's annual Heroes show. Very inspiring! A must watch every year.

Hope all is well in the North.

Mid-sized drive yesterday, and best of all - Carol drove for two hours; I had a midday nap. The weather was much, much better - blue skies and dry pavement - 80MPH the whole way. We stayed at a Drury Inn, so some of you know what we had for dinner. The steamers were as good as ever. It is now 6:30AM and we are up and showered and ready to go. There is one more time change so we will easily be in Palm Desert by noon.

With not much to do last evening, Carol started planning the entertainment calendar for this winter. First up:

early December at a local casino; just cheap tickets.

Getting old is miserable. You lack the stamina you used to have and muscles give up when they are needed. We did not get out to see Coco in Austin. After a full day of driving in the rain (9 hours) we were just too tired to leave the hotel room. Instead we slept. Then got up and drove in dreary grey rainy weather for a good part of today. Finally the forecast says that we will get some good weather. We did stop yesterday in Shreveport LA for lunch. Ken Whitaker had sent along the lunch suggestion:

Herby K's

Have a look.

  • Ken: Happy Thanksgiving! I am recovering from overeating yesterday. We're going to the new James Bond movie this evening and will leave Boise tomorrow to head South. It looks like we will be arriving in PD in the evening on Monday 11/30. Are you guys going to be there by then? If not let me know when you will be arriving and we'll try to get tennis set up.

and then later when Ken heard that we did go for lunch -

  • Ken: I hope you had a Shrimp Buster and went inside where there is a profile of an Indian shot into a piece of metal by the original Herby K. It's now run by the ex daughter-in-law of the founder. The son (her ex-husband) had a drug problem and the daughter-in-law used to run it with the mother-in-law (wife of Herby K) until she died.

That area of town died around the bar but they never moved. They tried expanding to a second location but that didn't work for some reason. We went there after my mother's and my father's funeral. As a kid my mother and father would sit in one side of the old wooden booths and the 3 boys on the other and Dad would drink draft beers from big frosted glasses.

We did have Shrimp Busters - very nice.

Ken referred to the "area of town dying". There were two or three blocks of buildings that have been abandoned and are falling down. the restaurant is right in the middle. If it had not been raining we would have explored and taken photos. Very interesting.


california music

A short driving day made even shorter by listening to Richard Dawkins narrate his auto-biography. An amazing life. One of the campaigns supported by Dawkins that I am most interested in is "Ask For Evidence". The thinking is that when you are presented with "claims", you should look for evidence that supports those "claims". You should do this for new drugs, diets, religion, Donald Trump. Here is the place to go Ask for Evidence.

After checking into the hotel, we walked to the music district and spent a couple of hours at Robert's Western World a honky-tonk and country bar. Most Nashville bars were closed for Thanksgiving, but the ones that were open were busy and hopping. Robert's Western World is three doors down from Tootsie's (closed) and was featuring "The 12 Hour 6th Annual Eileen Rose & Silver Threads Thanksgiving Show" - happy smiles on our faces. We stayed for hours 4 and 5 of the marathon, and they were still yakking, honking and singing everything in sight. The 82 and 80 year old 2-stepping couple at the next table were regulars out enjoying the music, the dancing and a couple of 2 dollar beers. Nice, just what you hope to see in Nashville.

Today we are off to Jackson Mississippi. Why? We are trying to get as far south as we can before we head into the storm that has hit northern Texas. The weather maps show that if I can get into southern Texas before turning west, we might miss a lot of bad weather. I am following the map at US Weather Service and it shows a clear path along the Rio Grande.

Today is Black Friday!