Talk shows, the street fair, some football, and a dinner party.

My Sunday Morning talk shows started at 7:00am local time, so I got out of bed before that and made my cup of coffee.  I sort of missed my PVR — and had to flick between channels during commercials just so I could get a taste of what each of the networks had to say. In between I sorted my laundry and did two loads of that. 

I got on my bike and cycled down to the street fair, just down the road from my place, at College of the Desert parking lot. It reminds me of the Mesa Market in Phoenix. It’s open every Saturday and Sunday and then everything gets packed up so that students can park their cars there during the week. I’d been there before, six years ago when we spent a winter here. I think nothing has changed. The same booths that were set up then are still there. They have live music and a wide variety of gadgets and tools and clothing and ‘art’ and jewellery. It’s open from early morning until 2pm, but today as I was wandering around at noon some of the shops were already starting to pack up their displays. Well, I wasn’t really shopping for anything anyway.

When I got back to my place I was hungry and made myself a sandwich. There were two CFL games on TV today — the second one was a playoff game between Calgary and the Bombers. I worked on one of my crosswords and switched back and forth between football and golf on TV. I wasn’t really following any of the games. I don’t remember who won the first CFL game, and it sure looked like the Bombers would lose in the fourth quarter of the second game (I just checked — and yes, the Bombers lost) when I finally turned off the TV to get ready to go out.

I was invited to Darrel and Cari’s for 5:00. I left home at 4:30 on my bike. Shorts, a sweater, and a light jacket. It was already cooling off and it would be a colder ride home. I made a pitstop at Albertsons to pick up a bottle of wine. I put it in my backpack and cycled on the big wide sidewalks up to their place at Desert Willow. It was almost dark by the time I got there just after 5pm but I was nice and warm from pedalling.

Ken and Brenda are staying at the Penners until this coming Thursday. The five of us sat on the outdoor veranda under the heater and caught up on the day’s adventures. Ken and Darrel are off to play golf at The Palms tomorrow. They had visited the big PGA store today — it’s not far from my place and it sounds like it’s worth a visit. Supper was served — big steak kebobs and potatoes and asparagus. It was excellent. The evening was excellent. It was very kind of Darrel and Cari to invite me over again and I enjoyed meeting Ken and Brenda. 

I cycled home a little after 9pm. Like the residential developments in Phoenix, there are very few street lights here, so it’s REALLY dark at night. I felt completely safe riding the empty sidewalks the four miles back to my place, although I had to slow down and almost stop regularly. The sidewalks are zigzaggy and I had to be careful not to ride into a big palm tree whenever I was blinded by the headlights of oncoming traffic. The friendly girl who often monitors the entrance into my country club already knows me and quickly opened the gate for me. 

At home I cleaned up the dishes I’d left in the sink. I even played my guitar for a bit. I was going to write my journal but exactly around that time I suddenly got very tired and headed off to bed. I’d leave the writing of this until tomorrow morning.


Firecliff, round 2

The alarm woke me up at 6:00. I got up and made coffee and eggs and toast. Saturday, minus the bacon. I caught up on the latest news. I got myself dressed for a day at the golf course. My tee time today was for 8:50, so I wanted to be at the course by 8:30. And I was. I met Darrel and Ken. I went in to pay. Paul came driving up in his cart and I loaded my clubs next to his. And off we were.

Firecliff is truly a beautiful golf course. Sure, there are be sand traps all over the place, especially at strategic locations near where a tee shot may end up, and certainly around most of the greens. But last week when I golfed here I don’t think I was in more than one bunker. Well, not so today. I managed to find the bunkers early and regularly.

Ken and Paul are good golfers. Paul hits a long fade on every tee shot, and he parred his share of holes today. It was good to visit as we rode along the fairways. After 9 holes my score was 5 strokes poorer than last week (3 sevens!) — an even 50.

I did a bit better on the back nine — one 8 and NO sevens. Final score was 96. A lovely day and a fun morning.

Darrel and Ken had lunch at the course, and Paul and I joined them for a beer. After lunch Paul went home and I went to Darrel’s to pick up Reg’s golf clubs (I’ll be taking them home at the end of the month) and had another beer up in the condo with Darrel and Ken.

I headed home around 2pm. I stopped at Albertsons (grocery store) to get some of the items that are on my list. When I got home I was starving. I roasted a couple of hotdogs on the BBQ and wolfed down 2 hotdogs. Then I sat down in the living room and watched a couple of episodes of Shark Tank and wrote my blog post.

I slouched in my chair for the rest of the evening, working on my web project and watching SNL.

and the walking man walks…

After lunch I decided to ‘warm up’ and go for a long walk. I headed down to El Paseo, the famous high-end shopping street here in Palm Desert. I was just about to cross Hwy 111, a busy 6-lane road just a block before El Paseo, when I saw a car lying upside-down just up the road. The driver had crawled out of the rear door and was sitting, basically unharmed, on the curb beside the car. He had a tiny scratch on his arm. He said he’d lost control of the car when the front tire went flat. That seemed a bit hard to believe — the speed limit is 45 as the road is right in the middle of town.

I walked up and down El Paseo for a while. There are blocks of boutiques, high-end retailers, and fancy restaurants. All the major luxury brands — Burberry, Escada, Grayse, Gucci, Ralph Lauren — expensive clothing, jewellery, art and antiques. Both sides of the road are lined with parked Jaguars and Porsches. The only shop I actually entered was the Apple Store. I had to check out the new MacBook Airs. One of these days…

It’s interesting that unlike clothes and cars, in the world of phones, the rich and the plebeians all get the same deal. I’m always amazed at how Apple, with only about 10 different products to offer, builds big beautiful stylish stores, where customers are ENCOURAGED to touch the merchandise, and ongoing help from the techies is free long after the warranty is off the product. And no matter if you buy the entry level phone or the latest top-of-the-line phone or ipad or computer, everyone gets the same operating system, exactly the same user experience.

I walked and walked until I was hot and tired. I made my way to the Westfield Mall. I found a couple of pairs of golf shorts for half price at Macys. Then I went to my new favorite hangout, the movie theatre, and asked what movie was playing next. I bought a ticket and went in to watch Robert Redford’s swan song, “The Old Man & The Gun”. I hadn’t read or seen anything about the movie so was pleasantly surprised. First of all, it had quite a few big names starring in it — Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, and TOM WAITS! A very good way to rest my legs and cool off from an afternoon of walking.

I walked home in the dark. I thought I might go grocery shopping, but when I got home and looked at what I had on hand I decided to stay home — mac & cheese and leftover meatballs. I listened to the new Mark Knopfler and Mumford & Sons albums and worked on my web project until I got tired of that. I watched the CBC News and went to bed. Gotta golf game tomorrow morning and I need to be at my best!

Dentists, golfers, and old ladies

Had my usual coffee and cereal at around 7:00. I worked on a web project for most of the morning, taking breaks to read the news and listen to some Wilco. At around 11:00 I got on my bike and went for a bike ride. I ended up stopping at a couple of dentist offices downtown — I was hoping they could make a little adjustment on my braces which have been bugging me a bit. It’s amazing how many dentists there are in these retirement centres! Just like in Phoenix, it seems that there is an “urgent care” clinic and a dentist office at every corner. Gotta keep these old bodies from falling apart completely, I guess. I was just cycling around, checking out the neighbourhood, and was pleased to find that the Total Wine store just a couple of blocks from my house has plenty of Pilsner Urquell on hand, although I’ll have to visit them again when I’m driving the van — it’s a bit risky to transport a six-pack of bottles on the bicycle! Anyway, in the end I learned that no dentist in California is going to put their pliers in my mouth if I’m not their patient for fear of getting sued. America is, in the words of Warren Zevon, the land of lawyers, guns, and money. And wildfires too, I guess. (My brother emailed me, asking “What’s your opinion on the forest management practices there? Did you find them grossly mismanaged too?”) Fortunately there are no fires, and no wicked snowstorms, here in the land of country clubs and Betty Ford clinics and green fairways with pretty fountains to catch an errant tee shot and dentists who won’t adjust your braces. 

After lunch I continued slouching on the couch and coding on my MacBook — this surely can’t be good for my sore back! I checked GolfNow for a ‘hot deal’ — shoot! everything is discounted after 2:00pm — after all, the sun sets at 4:42 so fat chance you’ll finish 18 holes. And that’s how I ended up at Cathedral Canyon at around quarter after two. I paid $25, put my bag on the back of a cart, and headed for the first tee. I hit two balls off the tee, both good shots! I was zipping right along and caught up to the couple ahead of me on the third hole. They waved me to play through, which I did. (I pocketed my second ball and proceeded to hit a great 8 iron shot over the water hazard to within 12 feet of the pin with the couple looking on. Then I drove up in my cart, walked smartly onto the green, and sank that putt for my second par! “Nice putt,” says the man. I smiled, thanked them for letting me play through, and drove off to the next tee box. For the record, that NEVER happens — almost without fail, when someone lets me play through I get nervous and make a TERRIBLE shot.) It was clear sailing after that — I continued to play well and finished the front nine in an hour. But I caught up to a backlog of golfers on hole #11. So I took out that second ball and played two balls on holes 10, 11, and 12. And for good measure and I did that loop twice. By the time I got to the 14th hole it was 4:30, time to return the golf cart and call it a day. Besides, my back, which I’d strained a bit on Sunday, was starting to stiffen up and I needed to rest up so I can play again on Saturday. Not a bad afternoon, though. 

When I got home there my phone twanged that there was a new photo from Max in our shared photo album. I had a nice FaceTime visit with Max and Alex. He is reading and doing crafts and playing piano and always happy — and happy to FaceTime with me. The joy of my life. I had a fine supper of pasta with mushroom sauce and some very spicy meatballs — and looked over the playbill at the cinema. I drove down to the theatre and watched “Tea with the Dames”, a ‘documentary’ featuring 4 old English actresses sitting around and talking. Meh, maybe that is a little TOO quiet for me — I didn’t really know many of films they referenced and there were absolutely no car chases and nothing got blown up and not even a hint of a love scene. But I stayed awake right till the end. Back at home I made myself a nice drink and watched the CBC National News. I even managed to catch the opening monologue of Kimmel and Colbert, which starts at 11:34 here. But I’m quite sure that by 11:44 I was in dreamland.

Jets game, burger, and Netflix

After breakfast I worked on my computer for most of the morning. I finally updated and posted all my blog posts for this trip — maybe that is why I have so little to say tonight. I thought about going to another movie in the afternoon but got sidetracked. Max and Alex and I FaceTimed for a bit and then I went for a walk. I bought some groceries at Albertsons and walked back to my house. The Jets were playing at 5:00 but the game was blacked out on my TV — so I found a site that was live-streaming it on the internet and watched it on my computer. I barbecued that big fancy burger I bought yesterday and loaded up a cheese-bun with all the condiments I could find in the fridge. And I sautéed the asparagus I got from Robert and Arlene and had myself a fine and fancy supper. Then I sat on the couch in the living room and watched some TV and some Netflix. And that’s it for this Wednesday. 

Tristone Tuesday at the Movies

After breakfast I went for a bike ride around the country club. Homes on the Monterey Country Club surround the 27-hole private golf course, so each home has a view of the course. The home I am renting is on the fifth hole of one of the 3 nine-hole courses. I look out at the ladies’ tee, just at the beginning of a large water feature on this par 3 hole. I should say ‘forward tee’ — I see lots of old guys teeing off there too. And the country club straddles the WhiteWater River channel — a big ‘ditch’ that almost never has water in it. So the road going through the channel offers the cyclist a chance to coast down and then get up out of the seat and gear down and pedal UP.

That’s my place, at the bottom, marked with the red star. 

After lunch I decided to take advantage of ‘cheap Tuesdays’ at the Palm Desert 10 Tristone Cinema — $5.75 tickets all day. I saw two pretty good movies today.

What They HadThe first movie I saw was “What They Had”. What a great performance from the cast, especially Hilary Swank. And I really enjoyed the story too. The movie reminds me of “Away From Her”, another film about Alzheimer’s. In this movie a brother and sister have to come to terms with aging parents where the mother suffers from memory loss and the father is determined to keep her from going to memory care facility. A sad movie but a satisfying end.

The second film was okay, but not nearly as moving as the first. “Can You Ever Forgive Me” stars Melissa McCarthy. It is a biographical drama based on an American author who became famous for her forgeries of famous authors’ letters. It’s a good performance and an interesting story, but it paled in comparison to the first movie I saw today. Maybe it’s better not to see two movies in a row???

It was about 6pm and dark outside when I came out of the theatre. I drove to Trader Joe’s to see if there was something there that I could turn into a supper for myself. Not really. So I went up to Albertson’s and bought some fancy meatballs and a pre-made burger go with some pasta I had in the cupboard. When I got home I decided to bake the meatballs and leave the burger for another day. I must say, I made a pretty good supper tonight! Alex had sent me a text earlier in the day, wondering what I was up to now that I had no ‘activities’ booked. I sent her a photo of my impressive dinner setting.

I watched a couple of episodes of “The Office” before heading off to bed.

Holiday Monday

Well, after an action-packed weekend here, today would be a ‘day off’. No golf. No visitors. No agenda. I celebrated ‘Veteran’s Day’ by doing just about nothing! 

After breakfast I sat down and for most of the morning I wrote entries in this blog, which I was WAY behind in. I FaceTimed with my folks. I watched the golfers from my patio — it sure reminds me of six years ago when Sue and I stayed for part of the winter in the Chaparral Country Club, another private country club located right next to the Monterey where I am now, and every morning we sat and watched the old ladies in their pimped-up golf carts enjoying a round of golf.

After lunch (pizza and wings leftovers from yesterday’s supper) I put on jeans (yes, jeans! it’s cool here for the next few days) and went for a walk down to the Westfield Mall. It’s just over 2 miles from my house to the cinema there. It is one of my favorite movie theatres — I discovered it six years ago and it is one of the reasons I came here now. Lots of good movies, not just Hollywood movies, but artsy films and foreign films as well. So today I went to see “A Star is Born”. Not bad. Lots of hype, and Lady Gaga is very good in it. I watched the Netflix special about her a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes when a movie gets a lot of rave reviews I’m a bit disappointed when it doesn’t meet my expectations. 

I walked home after the movie — man, it gets dark early here. By 5:30 it is too dark to golf. Gotta keep that in mind if I end up booking a cheap round on GolfNow — it might be hard to finish a complete game if you teed off at 2:00.

I have a fridge full of food. Supper was grilled cheese sandwiches and sliced pork. Then some TV (no, no Monday Night Football for me!) and a bit more blog writing and by 9:00pm my battle with the sandman ended.

One more time…

Today I slept until the alarm woke me. No panic — today’s tee time was for 7:00. Cool morning again, but by now I know the routine. Start with sweater and jacket and a hot coffee — and by the third hole we’ll be peeling off layers and lotioning up our noses.

Robert was waiting for me at the course. November 11, Remembrance Day. The last day to golf Mountain View — it was closing tomorrow for overseeding and wouldn’t open again until Christmas Day. As we headed to the first tee all I was determined to golf better than I did yesterday.

Robert and Rudy at Mountain View Golf Course

We were paired up with two big hitters, Brian and Barry, from Seattle. They’d flown in at midnight the night before and were hoping to golf 36 holes per day for the next 3 days, after which they were flying back home. They’d be hitting from the back tees; Robert and I would play the more reasonable ‘tan’ tees. 

The great thing about golf is that even if YOU are playing crappy, you can enjoy the other players’ success. Man, it was fun to watch these boys play, especially Barry. He would more-or-less walk up to the tee, wiggle his club a few times, and then wind up and WHIP that club so hard he nearly jumped out of his shoes — and that poor golf ball had no choice but to sail down the fairway. And when Brian had a birdie on the first hole, they asked us if we would mind if they would have a little celebration from time to time. No, they wouldn’t just drink their mini (airplane) bottles of Fireball; they also like to listen to music, if we were okay with that. Nothing too wild, they said. And so for the rest of the morning we were entertained by the sounds of “Today’s Country” (most of the songs were about drinking, and some of that ‘country’ music sounded more like ‘country rap’, and it stayed on loud throughout — no breaks at tee-off or on the green!) and fairly regular Fireball celebrations. Brian and Barry were great golf partners — very friendly and completely relaxed and so entertaining to watch, never mind good athletes. 

When we reached the 18th green I asked Barry if he would mind taking a photo of Robert and me. He obliged, and then said something about doing a handstand. Huh? Oh, he says, his ex-wife had been taking yoga classes and had called him up to ‘brag’ that they had learned how to do a handstand. “Phooey!” says Barry, unimpressed. “Who can’t do a handstand?”

“Well,” says I. “I can’t do a handstand. Can you?”

“Of course,” says Barry.

“Show me.”

And with that, Barry puts down his putter and bends over and does a handstand. Whoa! As the money spills out of his pockets, I line him up for a photo.

“Hold on,” says he. “I’ll give you a photo! I’ll count down 3-2-1, and you get ready to take another photo.”

And that’s how I got a photo of Barry standing on his head!

What a great morning! (And I finished the day 10 strokes better than yesterday, to boot.)

We loaded the clubs into the van and after a quick stop at Ralph’s for wieners and buns, we went to Robert and Arlene’s RV park for lunch. After lunch Arlene packed an assortment of groceries into a couple of bags for me to take back to my house — they were packing up and getting ready to go back home, and I got whatever they would not be needing after today. We arranged that the Dycks would come to my house later this afternoon, and we’d go out for pizza. Which we did.

I was watching the end of the Bomber semi-final game on TV, and had the Jets queued up on another channel when Robert and Arlene arrived. We had a G&T and watched a bit of hockey. Then we went up on Cook Street to Billy Q’s for supper. A great little place it is — the pizza is very good, and they even put the Jets game on for us. 

The Dycks gave me a ride home and left me the leftover pizza and wings for my lunch tomorrow. We said goodbye — they are leaving early tomorrow morning for Phoenix, where they are parking the motorhome and driving their Honda home. They’ll be coming back to Phoenix next March.

Mountain Views

I woke up way before my 6:00am alarm. Had half a banana and yogurt and I was off to the golf course. It’s about a 10-minute drive from John’s house to the Desert Willow Golf Resort. It was another cool morning. Sweater and jacket to start. Today I was riding with Bob — which meant that the Penner brothers were riding together! Hmmm… this could be interesting!

The Desert Willow Golf Resort features two 18-hole courses. Yesterday’s course, Firecliff, was green as green could be — it had been reseeded in October. Today’s round was on the Mountain View course, which would be closed after tomorrow for reseeding. The views were just as spectacular but the fairways were not lush and green like yesterday’s golf.

Whereas my start had been so good yesterday, today’s round (final round of 115!) would be a humbling experience. But score isn’t everything. I may not be a very good golfer, but I have a good time.

After our round Bob and I stopped at Ralph’s (grocery store) to pick up sandwich meat. Then back to Darrel’s for lunch.

After lunch Reg, Bob, and I decided to go for a hike. There are many good trails nearby. Reg remembered hiking the Art Smith trail, which begins (or ends) at the south end of town. We drove down Monterey, past the Bighorn Golf course, and parked the van at the small parking area beside the road. And off we were. Up, up, up. Stunning views of the resort community below, with snow-white sand traps on the green golf course. We met other hikers going up or down. I think we hiked for nearly an hour until we were almost at the top of the hill. Photo time. We met a couple of women who had started at the other end of the trail up in Cathedral Canyon at 7:30 in the morning — and were nearly done — quite impressive! As we turned to go back, a couple of guys on mountain bikes came zipping by us, bouncing from rock to rock! Crazy.

I drove the boys back to Darrel’s condo and went back to my house. I FaceTimed with the kids — gave them a quick tour of where I would be hanging out for the next 3 weeks. I showered and headed back to Darrel’s for happy hour and supper. Tonight we had big beef kebobs — another delicious meal.

With all that exercise, we were not going to be partying all night. I said goodbye to Bob and Reg (they were flying home tomorrow morning) and headed home. Tomorrow again — early to bed, early to rise, with another morning golf game on the schedule.

Morning golf at Firecliff, dinner at the Cork Tree

Darrel, Reg, Bob, and me at the first tee at Firecliff

An early morning today. I was at the Desert Willows golf course by 6:30, only to find Reg waiting impatiently for his clubs which were in my van. We registered and drove to the first tee. It was a COLD morning in Palm Desert; especially after a week of quite hot temperatures, this morning there was a bit of frost in some of the dips on the fairways.

I started my first game off playing quite well — and after nine holes my score was 45. Unfortunately the back nine were not quite as kind to me, and I ended up with a final score of 99. But the course was lush and green and each hole was absolutely beautiful.

We headed back to Darrel’s place for lunch. Sandwiches.

After lunch I decided to see if I could find a garage that would look at my brakes on this Friday afternoon.

I found a Good Year service centre a few blocks away and they took a look at my van almost right away. I actually thought I’d had my brakes done this summer, but as it turned out that was only the front brakes. I needed new rotors and brakes for the rear axle. So while they worked on the van I went across the parking lot to the big Walmart Supercenter and did a bit of a grocery shop. I returned to the van just as they were lowering the hoist. I loaded my groceries into the van and drove back to my villa. I unpacked and showered and then headed back to Darrel’s condo for happy hour.

Darrel had reserved an outside table for the four of us at the Cork Tree, a restaurant not far from his condo. We had a fine supper together.

After supper I dropped the other guys off at their condo and headed back to my villa. Because checkout time was 10 or 11 in the morning, and I would be out on the golf course during that time, and because John’s place (which I rented from the 9th to the end of the month) was available to me, I ended up packing up all my stuff and moving to my ‘new’ home in Palm Desert this evening.

I was tired and ready to go to bed by the time I had moved all my stuff, including the fridge stuff, to my new home, and went to bed early. I set me alarm for 6:00am so I wouldn’t be late for tomorrow’s 6:50am tee time.