Rudy has done some research about golf lessons and this morning he strongly encourages me to go. Despite some misgivings I hop on my bicycle and head off down Monterey to Magnesium falls and follow the bike path along the wash until I get to the driving range and golf lesson course. I meet my instructors Mary and Greg. In the initial conversation with Greg I learn that he is originally from Winnipeg, although he left a long time ago (1978). He is about my vintage and as we make small talk it comes around to weather in Wpg (bad) and government (equally bad according to him). He is a bit of a conspiracy theorist and says he is so glad he was not living in Canada during Covid. He said he watched the news and it all seemed like it was a bit of a shit show in Canada. He is sure that Trudeau Junior is a nut case. (“You remember his father don’t you?” he says to me, raising his eyebrows knowingly.) He quickly moves on to government control and manipulation. I dance and sidestep the conversation. Thankfully soon all the others arrive and we move on to the golf lesson. Today we are learning how to hit a golf ball out of a sand trap. I am the least experienced in a crowd of aging seniors. In fact I feel like quite the spring chicken. And although I may have an advantage of mobility and dexterity I am easily the most clued out. Thankfully Greg takes pity on me and give s me some pointers on grip and swing. I actually do quite well. I am able to climb in and out of the sand trap without any trouble. Margy has hip trouble and it is more difficult for her. Brad has more mobility but very thick coke bottle glasses. But despite all our infirmities and other strikes against us we do fairly well. Mary, the other instructor with a bit of a superiority complex, regals us with her professional golfing life. It is interesting but these stories leave me feeling just a little bit inept and does not add to the value of the lesson. Soon the hour is up and we all head back to our exciting seniors life away from the golf course.
My exciting life involves biking back to our place and planning what we will have for supper. This may seem mundane but I am positively enjoying my cooking life. I decide to make refined beans, Mexican rice with tomato, spices, lime, and cilantro and chorizo tacos. This involves a quick bike to the grocery store for a few supplies. My trip ends up being longer than it needs to be as I am waylaid at the baby clothes section of the store and I look for deals in the sale racks. Bingo, I find a sunsuit for a sweet little grand girl and something peachy for a blond blue eyed child that is coming later in April. It’s dark before I get home. I quickly make the food and we enjoy it. Afterwards I take my phone flashlight and make my way to the hot tub and pool and enjoy some evening air with a swim and a sit in the spa. I arrive back at the house to find Rudy deep in a documentary. I leave him to this and I retire to bed.
Miracle of miracles. Today we are expecting rain in Palm Desert. We wake up to grey skies and it feels like a day that we should stay in. We spend the morning doing computer work (Rudy) and crafts (me). By noon we get our rain. All 5 drops of it. Actually there is a bit more but the pavement does not stay wet for very long. I do go out a bit but it ends up being a very relaxing day.
Contrary to what I usually find relaxing but have developed a love for here in Palm Desert, I decide to cook. I search the internet for ideas for supper and decide on a comfort food evening meal. I have all of the ingredients I need in the fridge and cupboard and settle in to an afternoon of cooking. I peel potatoes, chop broccoli and fry bacon for a broccoli salad, and insert cheese and ham into chicken breasts. Because we are going gluten free I research an alternative to bread crumbs and end up browning almond flour to dredge the chicken breasts. After puttering in the kitchen I set out our meal of Chicken Cordon Bleu, mashed potatoes, dijon garlic sauce, and broccoli salad. Yum. All in all it is a great day of relaxation. After supper the storm that was promised actually materializes. There are huge bursts of thunder that blast loudly outside. We are content and cosy inside and we settle in for the rest of the evening.
It’s my birthday and I am turning 64. Rudy is off golfing this morning with Robert and Arlene and I have a full morning planned for myself. I forgo the morning walk on the streets around our house and hop on my bicycle and head to the Bump and Grind Trail at the edge of town. I’ve got my hiking shoes on, my water bottle with ice, my sunglasses and my hat. I lock my bike to a railing at the trailhead and head up the slope. It is very hot and dry and I should have left earlier in the morning to avoid this heat but here I am. I hike for about an hour. I could take more trails or a longer one but I am satisfied. I hop back on my bike, make a few stops for a couple of crafting supplies and head home. Once at home I am on to my next activity: swimming. Oh, the water is so refreshing after a hot sweaty climb.
Rudy arrives home in time to shower before we head out for some birthday celebrations. There isn’t much chance for me to dress up here so I take this opportunity to put on a dress (and tights for warmth) and we head to an air-conditioned theatre to watch, Holdover. Both of us have no idea what the movie is about. Rudy has read something in the New York Times about how this movie is set in the 1970s and that it is made to look like it was shot during that time as well. It’s true, they do manage to make it look that way: a little grainy, the colour not quite up to today’s standards and maybe even the sound a little different than nowadays.The movie hits the spot for me. It is nostalgic, sentimental (with a good message), and predictable. A very nice choice for someone who hates too much suspense, can’t watch if there is too much violence, and really wants to relax instead of sitting on the edge of my seat all the time. I even shed a few tears. A win all around for me. Needless to say it is not Rudy’s favourite movie although he claims he enjoys it. But then again, it is my birthday so I guess it is fitting that I enjoy it. For those of you who think the movie is shlack by my description, you are wrong. There is lots of great acting, some good ideas to ruminate on, and some great cinematography. After the movie, we walk down the riverwalk (an artificial landscape with rocks, shrubbery, water, etc.) to the restaurant I have requested. We order lettuce wraps, spicy chicken, and a Singapore noodle dish. Yum! So good!
The whole day has been a win for me. I love being a year older!
On one of my conversations with my daughter Miriam she asks me what I do each day. Scrambling for something new to say I falter. I really don’t do much new each day. I should have loads of adventures to talk about. I feel I need to validate my existence here. And then suddenly it comes to me. Something really stupendous and impressive that makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.
“Each day I complete a triathlon,” I say.
She chuckles. Well, it is not a continuous event. But I do swim and cycle and run (well maybe a few steps but mostly it is walking) each day. Yes there are a lot of breaks. And no, most of it is not very strenuous. But really isn’t participation good enough. Today when I went for my walk I spent some time smelling the flowers. Well at least taking pictures of them and enjoying them. Most triathletes work so hard that they don’t necessarily notice the beauty around them. I mean, it is hard to focus in on the flowers when sweat is streaming off your forehead into your eyes. So I prefer a less strenuous workout and as a result I really get to enjoy my surroundings.
It’s Sunday and depending on how you are marking your week it is either the end of the week or the beginning. Really, for us, it makes no difference. I no longer suffer from those Sunday night feelings of sadness that the weekend is done and a slight sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I will have to be on top of things as far as lessons, and energy for students goes come Monday morning. It is funny how once you leave that behind you hardly can remember the end of the weekend feeling. But I do remember it a bit and I am grateful for this great relaxing time I am having.
Today the big plan is having Robert and Arlene over for supper. We have the whole day to prep for that. But knowing how doing nothing eats up the time we start on the lasagna making right away in the morning. The supper menu is Rudy’s idea so I say that I will be his sous chef. Rudy says he already had a Sue chef but that I can be his Naomi chef. (I write this only to give an indication of what kind of low level humour I have to put up with.) Anyway, we continue on some about 10 minutes until I get a phone call from one of my offspring and Rudy is left to finish the lasagna by himself.
After this I dig into the new David Bergen book, Away From The Dead. I really do not surface at all the whole afternoon. I basically lie on the bed with my kindle propped in front of me. At first the book seems slow, but as I continue I am drawn in by the characters. The book has lots to say but a person needs to let it sit for a while and ruminate about the times and the people caught in them. Each character tries to find a path within their given culture (both individual family and community), beliefs (religious and political), and unique personal ways of viewing the world. If there are fingers pointed by Bergen, it is not specifically at any one group or individual. Of course there is the fact that Mennonites play a central role in the book and so much of the lens is focused on that group. But, of course, there are individual decisions made and lives lived within any given cultural group. In the end I was struck by how the time that we live in and the issues and our understanding of them affect our understanding of the present and also of the past. Not a new thought but one worth unpacking. How does a person find their way amidst so many conflicting ideas and values in a given situation?
Well after I reemerge late afternoon I have only a couple of choices to make about my life and none of them earth shattering. Should I make the garlic bread or the caesar salad first? There is no wrong choice! Thank goodness!
Dinner with Robert and Arlene is great. We talk about how we don’t get together at all in Steinbach. Each of us is busy with the daily expectations of family mostly, work for some, and close friends. But here in Palm Desert the four of us have time to sit and ask each other questions and develop our friendship. It is lovely to do.
Well my golf career continues. And I am having some success. After an early morning walk (part 1 of the daily triathlon) Rudy suggests a game at the local par 3 learning course down the road. I am in. We (by we I mean he) packs the clubs in the van and we head down to the course.
We share a bag of clubs which is carried mostly by Rudy. That is the job of the caddy and I have not put a fight up about that. The caddy also suggests which club to use for each shot and he often lets me know. By the end of the round I am making my own choices as I begin to get the feel of things. I am happy to say that I had so much fun on the first nine holes that we decide to another nine. I can’t say how great it feels to know what it is that I have done right if I get a great shot. Up until now it has seemed mostly random but I am beginning to have some control on my shots.
I won’t bore you with the rest of my day which consists of more of the same that I do every day.
Callum and Augusta wake me up early for a video chat. Callum is silly and chatty and worried about the firetruck he sees in his book. Not much disturbs that boy but a fire siren is one of those things that is distressing to him. Video chats are pretty incredible for grandparents who are far away. Rudy has breakfast and leaves for golf. I get my walking shoes on head out the door. But not before I have downloaded a podcast on my phone. I need a little something to get me mulling over some new ideas. This podcast is by This American Life and is called Is That What I Look Like? It explores the ideas that even if we think we know ourselves really well we are often surprised by other’s observations. It can be superficial (our physical looks) but perhaps more jolting is when how we perceive ourselves (character and actions) is completely different when viewed by someone else. Certainly this is food for thought and worth mulling over. But also frustrating as I think about the number of people I know and how they might each be able to make an observation about something about me that I am totally in the dark about. Do I need to start quizzing people? Is there any purpose to that? I guess that these observations might help me make changes but to be at the whim of everyone’s observations seems tiring and might knock the ground out from under me. I am tired even thinking about this. Perhaps I will go to the pool for a swim or maybe ride my bike. The observations needed when doing these activities involve watching for cars (biking) and taking note of the concrete edge of the pool when swimming. Yup. That’s what I’ll do.
These posts may get a little boring for the reader. Please feel free to make a wide pass. Rudy says that it probably only important to us so as we have a record of what is happening. Frankly I would just as soon cut and paste the same information each day, perhaps rotating the use of pictures, and mixing up the paragraphs. I wonder how long it would take Rudy before he realized. I think he has quit reading them himself. And if he reviews them any time in the future it might just be a joke he can appreciate.
Well something slightly different did happen today. At least for me. Rudy and I went down to the small par 3 golf course just a ways from our place. It has a driving range but we went straight to the 9 hole course. I feel like I have gotten way better and had a lot of fun whacking the ball. I actually can hit balls straight and am getting pretty acceptable with my driver off the tee. I even did some okay shots with the 7 iron. I had loads of trouble in the sand trap that I managed to get myself into. But all in all I deemed it acceptable. When asked if he had fun golfing, Rudy responded noncommittally, “Hmmm, okay.” So I had to rephrase it. “Did you have fun with ME?” His answer was more positive so, although he wasn’t jumping up and down, I take it as a win.
After golf, I went for a swim and a hot tub. Rudy joined. And then I went off on my bike to the store to get some groceries for supper (stir fry) and to find some golf shorts for Rudy. You can really tell that nothing is pressing on my schedule when I have time to dawdle through stores. And suddenly the light starts to go. The sun goes down early especially with the mountains surrounding the city. So I headed home, cooked supper, and we settled in for the evening.
Rudy’s tee time is at 6:40 this morning. In my subconscious I register the fact that Rudy is up early but I really only wake at 7. This is much too late for a phone call to Ana so instead I relax and drink tea and have breakfast. Yum, real bread, packed with nasty gluten and smothered in peanut butter is delicious. I know I don’t have to eat the same things as Rudy but so far it has been much easier to do that. After a slow start with a couple of cups of tea I go out and get 2 golf clubs from Alex’s bag and bungie cord them on to may bike. I cycle down to the driving range not too far away and get a large bucket of balls to whack at. I situate myself between an older gentleman who has a chair set up nearby to take breaks and a younger man who is whacking furiously without a break. Initially I feel self conscious but as time goes by I just settle into my own little world. I don’t have great success with the 7 iron but manage a few good hits. I have way better luck with the driver and after all is done, I am satisfied and also a little stiff. Back on my bike I head home and then decide to go the long way around just to get more exercise.
Rudy comes home after lunch. Has all the work been done for the day? Perhaps. I spend some pool time, read some of my book, catch up on some phone calls to family, and do a bunch of nothing.
Daylight savings time or just the excitement of being here or perhaps the habit I have of talking on the phone with Anastasia on her way to school causes me to wake up early. Today it was 4:40 when my eyes opened and there was no sleep after that. So I puttered around until it was time to call Ana and had a great chat. Rio said to his mom in the course of the morning, “Don’t embarrass me, Momma.” Yikes, kids are like sponges and repeat a lot of stuff. I guess he is just trying out some phrases that he can use in his teenage years.
Rudy and I take our morning walk around the area. What can I say other than it is great as usual. So beautiful and peaceful. Breakfast is crepes (gluten free of course) with fruit. Rudy is listening to a new Bruce Cockburn album which I find somewhat tedious for the most part. At one point during a 9 and a half minute song I mention how I am not so fond of it. It is basically mumble mumble in a minor key for a looooonnnnnng time. Rudy rebuffs this by saying how great a resolve it has. Listen to this he says. It switches to a major key with horns and harmony and is quite lovely. All this to say that it is nice to live with someone who has a greater understanding and appreciation of music than me and although I certainly have not been convinced to like the mumble chanting, I can appreciate some of the other stuff once Rudy paints a picture of what is great about it.
After this we pack up our golf clubs and head to the driving range just up the street at the College of the Desert. The sun is high by now and by the time we have finished I am hot and sweaty. But it is a whole pile of fun and I actually make some good shots. I enjoy a good activity and if I can figure out a bit how to tweak things to get better, I am totally satisfied.
Rudy and I spend some time at the pool and then in the hot tub and then mix up some gluten free pizza dough. I lie on the couch and fall asleep and when I wake Rudy has continued on with the pizza project and we have supper. Rudy pronounces the gluten free crust acceptable. I am not so excited about it but it fills the stomach.
In the evening we watch a couple of episodes of the Netflix special, All The Light You Cannot See” based on the book by Anthony Doerr. It is good and the actress who plays Marie is incredible especially since it is her first time acting.
We are off to bed fairly early as Rudy has a 6:40 tee time in the morning. Yikes!