Sue's new golf clubs

Susie Q celebrates a birthday

Saturday morning, so that means bacon and eggs. Followed by some reading. Sue called her mom and Alex. We’re coming home this Thursday and we need winter jackets in the car for the ride home from the airport.
Sue's new golf clubsLunch. Then we went to Mountain Brook Golf Club. Sue got some new Callaway Clubs for her birthday. And the best part is — they work! We went to the driving range and Sue hit a small bucket of balls — and nearly EVERY ONE of her hits were good ones! It was almost unbelievable.
Then we played nine holes. The first hole was a disappointment — what happened? But as we continued to play (not another soul on the course, and the day was beautiful!) it was clear that Sue was striking the ball a lot further and higher than she did before. So that was very encouraging.
We came home and showered and got dressed up to go out for supper. Birthday dinner at House of Tricks in TempeWe had reservations at a restaurant in Tempe: House of Tricks. We sat outside (under the propane heaters and next to a big open fireplace) and had a wonderful meal. It was a fine evening.
We were back home by 9pm. Time to watch a bit of TV. Time to upload a couple of photos and post my journal entry.
Tomorrow is Sue’s sixtieth. Yikes. You’d never know it to look at her. It’s hard enough to keep up with her. She’s younger and healthier and hotter than most 50-year-olds. She’s amazing. I always say that I am one of the luckiest people in the world. And Sue is a big part of that. I am so lucky to have her as my best friend for life. I love her very much.
Tomorrow I will be hanging out with a senior citizen — for real. I’m looking forward to it.

Reading, Hiking, Movie

Read in the morning. I’m reading the Dave Bergen book “The Matter with Morris” and Sue’s reading the Steve Jobs biography. After lunch Sue baked some not-so-monster monster cookies. Then we hiked up (to the very top) of Silly Mountain before coming back down and having our cookie snack with a G&T. The day was sunny and probably warmer than any day this week.
After supper (leftover manicotti) we watched our TV shows. Then we watched another of Jill’s movies, “Meet Joe Black”. It was pretty good. It was pretty long! Still, even though Sue was tired and it was already 11pm, we watched the CBC podcasts (At Issue and Rex Murphy), before she went to bed.
Van-Morrison-live-bootlegI had been downloading a collection of 60 Van Morrison bootleg albums all day, and before going to bed (at 2am!) I looked through them and added some of them to my iTunes playlists.

No clubs for Sue, free bike for Rudy

Skyped with Dave Driedger for a while this morning — discussion about dates for their visit here in January/February. Then we went for a bike ride. It was cool enough to wear cycling jackets, but otherwise nice and sunny. We talked to a homeowner about the big 35,000 single-family home that is being constructed up on a hill not far from our place.
Cruiser bikeOn our way home we passed a home with a bunch of boxes piled up as garbage — and noticed a ‘broken’ bike sitting there. It looked like it was also being thrown out. I went back and asked the owner about it — she told me I was welcome to have it. So Sue and I went to pick it up with the van. The back wheel had no tube. Back in our garage, I used one of the tubes we bought for our hybrid bikes and pumped up both tires. With a little adjustment, the bike soon looked almost good as new. In fact, the tires look completely new! It’s not really a cruising bike, but we think it will be great for some of our guests to use for cycling around the neighborhoods here.
Hole #11 at Mountain BrookAfter lunch we had to hurry to get to the golf course. We had hoped to buy some new clubs for Sue today, but Dale, the owner, wasn’t in. So we used our regular clubs and headed out for a 2:45 tee-off. Some discouraging holes for both Sue and me — but in the end we both had fun. It turned out that our 9-hole scores were actually about average for us! And with the early start, we ended up running across the road after hole number 9 and golfing a couple of extra holes. Well, hole number 12 had a big water hazard. I splashed 4 balls before finally smacking a shot near the green. Just then the guy came around to collect the flags — we were not really supposed to be there. Now we had to shoot for greens without a pin to mark the hole. Well, it was cooling off quickly and we need to skedaddle to get back to the parking lot before dark.
Bad Moon RisingAn almost full moon was rising above Superstition Mountain. Gorgeous.
Back at home I checked to see what was on tap for Thursday Night Football; and figuring that it would be a Steelers’ blowout over the Browns, we decided NOT to go to the Firehouse Bar. In fact, we didn’t even order pizza. Instead, Sue warmed up some leftover spaghetti and made a salad and we had our own supper at home. We watched NFL online.

Don’t listen to those weather reports

The forecasters proved that they’re no better at guessing the weather in Phoenix than they are in Steinbach. This cold and cloudy day turned out to be a little cool and quite sunny.
Still, we spent most of the day inside. Sue went to do a big grocery shop at Bashas in the morning (in order to cash in on the once-a-month “Senior’s Day”).
After lunch we decided NOT to go for a bike ride and NOT to go golfing because it was too cold outside. Instead, we went for a long walk to Walgreen’s to return our movie rental. On the way there we stopped in at the golf course and talked to the owner (Dale) to get a price on golf clubs for Sue. He gave us a good price on ordering the Ping clubs that Sue got fitted for yesterday. But he also asked us to consider the Callaways he has in stock. We’ll probably go for the Callaways.
After we dropped off the movie we walked back home along the highway. Looking at the beauty of the green golf course and the setting sun reflected in Superstition Mountain, we knew we had made the wrong call about golfing today — it was another very nice afternoon.
Sue making manicottiSupper was the usual — that is, absolutely fantastic! Sue was hungry for manicotti. Although she said it was a lot of work to make it she is rarely happier than when she’s got a bunch of food to prepare.
Wow! and it tastes as good as it looks!After supper we watched our TV shows. After The Colbert Report I picked one of the movies here in the coffee table and we watched that. It turned out that “Mr Brooks” was a pretty good movie — entertaining, at least. After that a bit of TV and then to bed.

‘Ping’-makers and a ‘sing’-maker

Wow, what a great day (again)! Cool but sunny morning. Had to hurry to get breakfast and shower done before heading out to the golf course for a 10 o’clock group lesson. For $20 each, we joined 16 other golfers in the cool of the morning and headed out to the practice range. Our teacher, Jack, was a 74-year-old pro who had recently had back surgery. The 90-minute lesson was divided into 3 sections. Instruction, practice, instruction, practice, instruction, practice. And the instruction was very helpful. Right off the bat I felt like I was making headway. Although I hadn’t been using my #1 driver, I decided I should see if with a bit of help from the pro I could get it working for me. And in each of the 3 parts of the lesson I learned how to make the club work for me. I certainly wasn’t hitting the ball as straight and as far as I’d like to, but at least not every shot was veering off to the right. And Sue too was feeling good about her progress — getting some good lift on the ball and more distance than before. After the lesson the instructor and his sidekick (Mark, an airline pilot and neighbor to Jack) gave us some tips about shopping for the right clubs for Sue. They recommended that we go to the Ping factory in Phoenix and get fitted, then bring the results back to the golf club and give the owner/manager (Dale) a chance to quote on the set. Which is what we then did.
Sue at the Ping factory getting a fittingWe went home for lunch and then hopped into the van and drove the 1-hour drive out to the Ping factory. We signed up to have a specialist measure us and analyze our swing — and then recommend some custom-made clubs for us. It was fast and efficient, and Sue especially felt that the girl who worked with her really helped her find something that will work for Sue.

A 'sing'-maker at the Superstition Center mall in MesaAfter our visit to the Ping factory we stopped at the Superstition Center for a bit of shopping. Again, lots of success. Sue managed to find some slippers for herself. We had a nice cup of coffee in the mall. On our way out we had to stop and take a photo of a small shop offering custom-made “sings” which a guy was making by carving your name into a piece of wood with a router. Then we headed to a Fry’s store where Sue got some sheets for her mom and I rented a Redbox movie.
It was late (after 6:30) by the time we got home. We barbecued chicken and Sue made ‘cheesy rice’ and salad for supper. Then we watched the Daily Show and Colbert. We watched a bit more TV and then watched our DVD, “Water for Elephants”.

Back on (the) course

Today, finally, after far too long being stuck indoors, the Nikkels headed back out to Mountain Brook for 9 holes of golf. It was great. It was a bit cool, but the sun was shining and we had a fun time. No waiting. No one ahead of or behind us. And we finished in record time, home by just after 5pm. Our score for nine holes wasn’t anything great, but we are not without hope. (And tonight I read that the weather just a bit east of us here isn’t NEARLY as nice as it is here — see the photo from the Winnipeg Free Press.)

Winter blast hits New Mexico
Stranded travellers consider their options during the closure of westbound I-40 at Nine Mile Hill in Albuquerque, N.M. Monday. A severe winter blast struck most of New Mexico on Monday, closing hundreds of schools and shutting down I-40 from Albuquerque to Gallup that forced motorists to seek emergency shelter.

We read in the morning — and I finally finished the “Irma Voth” book. Not that much fun of a read. Sue is about 200 pages into the Steve Jobs book. And tonight we got another Amazon box delivered — more books!

After another great supper (leftover cheeseburgers from yesterday, with potatoes and a fruit salad, YUM), we watched Monday Night Football. The game wasn’t all that exciting, so in between I switched to the 7pm repeats of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.We ended the evening by watching the CBC National (Live Streaming).

Lose, Lose, Lose

All my teams lost today.

The morning began with a great pancake and fruit breakfast. My morning news shows were good as usual. The weather looked sunnier than what was forecast (although still quite cool).

A day of NFL losses for RudyThen it was time for NFL Sunday. And that’s where things went wrong. In the first game the Vikings lost to Tim Tebow and the Broncos! In the second games the Green Bay (undefeated) just barely beat my NY Giants. And Arizona beat Dallas! And the Colts almost overcame the Patriots’ big lead (but not quite, and so they are still without a win).

Sue went for a run and picked up a few groceries. We barbecued burgers. At least THAT was turning out right!

In the Sunday Night game the Lions had far too many penalties to have any chance of beating the Saints. And so I lost all my games! And Sue, who has a knack of picking the winners, won all her games. Oh well, at least we’re not both losers!

Rainy Saturday

It was cold and rainy all day. At first I thought we would go golfing this afternoon — maybe even 18 holes, since few golfers would be out today. But Sue thought it would be too cold and as it turned out it was raining all day. But that did NOT dampen our day at all.

Bacon and eggs for breakfast after we skyped with Ed Peters. Then I read a few more chapters in my (boring) Miriam Toews book, Irma Voth.

Screenshot of the web page for our Utah photosAfter lunch I decided to continue with my travel web updates. I sorted through our photos from our drive down to Arizona. I made a new banner. I captioned (sort of) the photos. I even tried writing an Applescript to help me insert the capture date into each caption. I finally uploaded the finished site at around 5:30.

Sue returned our movie rental and went to Bashas to pick up a roasted chicken. She started supper and then we sat down to watch one of the movies in the big coffee table in our house. First movie: The Family Stone. Supper: mashed potatoes with cream gravy, corn, salad, and roasted chicken — outstanding!

We finished the first movie after supper, then watched a second one, Slow Burn. Chocolate-covered cherries (and blueberries) were the movie snack. All-in-all a pretty good start to the weekend. Weather forecast for tomorrow (and for the beginning of the week) looks like lots more cool temps. We’ll see.

Shopping in Mesa

This morning I finished what Sue started: I culled and captioned our Arizona photos from last spring and uploaded them to our travel gallery website. It took me all morning. We ordered some books and some Christmas gifts from Amazon — they are supposed to arrive here just before we leave for home on the 15th.

arizona-web-screenshotI had the leftover pizza for lunch. Then we got into the van and headed out to the Superstition Springs shopping center. We went to a big sporting goods box store and looked at some golf clubs (a birthday gift for Sue). The salesman was quite good and we may go back there to make a purchase. He even suggested that we check out another shop that specialized in consignments — maybe we can find a good deal on some used clubs.

We spent some time at the big Macy’s in the mall looking for bedding for Sue’s mom. Didn’t buy anything here either. I DID manage to have an ice cream cone while Sue shopped. We left the mall and headed for a Trader Joe’s grocery store not far from there — and at least there we had some success: Sue came out with two bags of groceries! The used golf equipment store had oodles of men’s golf clubs but not much for ladies. The only way we’ll go back there is if Dave Driedger comes with us and advises us on what’s a good deal and what’s a rip-off.

It was Friday rush-hour traffic all the way back home. When we got home I booked a Redbox movie online and went to Walgreen’s to pick it up while Sue started supper. I barbecued some sausages. Then we settled down to watch our movie: “Submarine”. Hmmm… so-so, although the popcorn was good. After the movie we watched some CBC news from home. Then to bed.

Household chores

Cold and cloudy today. Quite a difference from what we’ve experienced here before. And the forecast is more of the same for the next few days.

After breakfast I fiddled around on the computer for most of the morning. Sue did some laundry. Sue wanted to ‘clean up’ our Arizona photos from last spring. After lunch Sue began culling photos, whittling down the 630 photos to about 250. I read another couple of chapters in “Irma Voth”, the Miriam Toews novel. Then I had a short nap.

Rudy vacuuming the kitchenWe went for a quick hike on Silly Mountain. I wore jeans. It was cool at first, and we even had some raindrops towards the end of the hike. When we got home I vacuumed and then we sat down to watch the news. The kids skyped us. At around 7pm we left for the Firehouse Bar for Thursday Night Football.

We ordered a medium supreme pizza and watched the Seahawks defeat the Eagles (and thereby remove all hopes for playoff football in Philly). There were a few other people in the bar but really it was surprisingly quiet. When we got home Sue watched some crap TV and I wrote my journal.