Cloudy Wednesday

That’s about as exciting as it got today! I did a bit of computer work in the morning. After that we both spent most of the day reading. Sue finished her book, “Girl Runner” by Carrie Snyder (8.5 out of 10), a book she borrowed from Val. I got about halfway through my book, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.” I even had a short little nap in the afternoon. We went for a walk around Mountain Brook and I picked up a DVD at the Redbox at Walgreens. After happy hour we had spaghetti for supper. Then we watched a couple of movies: A Most Wanted Man (another John le Carré story, just as convoluted as “Tinker, Tailor” a couple of years ago), and “A Birder’s Guide To Everything” (so-so), a movie I had downloaded a month or two ago. We watched Jon Stewart and went to bed, where we fell asleep to a rerun of the James Taylor/Carole King concert on PBS. When I woke up at around 2am I could hear RAIN on the rooftop!

Rainy Morning in GC

It poured at night! and it was still raining in the morning when I got up. We hadn’t seen that here in Gold Canyon since we got here four weeks ago. Well, that really put a ‘damper’ on my plans for the day! Now I would have to read my book INSIDE.

After breakfast I spent most of the morning NOT reading — but instead I went through all the channels on our Shaw box and made a bit of a TV guide for us. Sue was sorely missing her buddy Charlie Rose. It turns out that Charlie may only be available on a PBS EAST channel, meaning he’ll be on WAY past our bedtime! A good thing I have hooked up my ‘aerial’, where we get a Tucson PBS channel which airs Charlie Rose at 5pm most weekdays — so he’ll be able to join us for happy hour.

After lunch we drove to Santan Village — we were out of coffee beans and needed to make another visit to Costco. Sue had another shopping list so we spent the afternoon at the big outdoor shopping center. We headed home at around 5. I’d been roped into trying a new brand of gin by the salesman at the Total Wine store, so we set up a little ‘taste test’ when we got home — and proved that I had indeed been ‘roped in’. Oh well.

Xmas LightsAfter we finished our G&Ts we had to hurry to get to Ed and Val’s for our 6pm supper date. Along the way we got a little side-tracked by all the Christmas decorations and lights out on Sandtrap Road! Wow! People are nuts here. Frosty the Snowman and icicle lights hanging from the eaves — Gold Canyon hardly knows what RAIN is, never mind snow. Even the bright almost-full moon looked dull hanging out overhead on this street!

Xmas LightsLyle and Carly, who are visiting the Peters this week, made supper. Well, Carly had a terrible cold and apparently Lyle did most of the cooking. Indian food. Delicious. We ate a lot and had a nice visit. The Peters family was planning to go see the Grand Canyon tomorrow. They were going to leave quite early so we said goodnight at around 9:30.

I caught the last 5 minutes of the Cowboys-Bears game when we got home. Sue went to bed early — trying her best to catch up on all the hours of sleep she missed the night before. I watched the news and the late night talk shows and managed to stay up until 1:00. Making progress on that front!

All kaflooey

The sun came back. Another beautiful day in paradise. Started with a couple of great cups of coffee — made with fresh new beans from our Costco trip yesterday. Sue spent most of the morning ‘doing the books’ and at the kitchen table and cycled to the Wells Fargo bank. I’m still trying to putt four balls in a row on our little putting green in the backyard (I can hole 3, but invariably the fourth one misses). After lunch I poked around in the garage and ‘organized’ my golf clubs. We went to the Mountain Brook course a bit early for our 3 o’clock tee time and got on early. I had had a pretty good game on my last outing (to Longbow) so I wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. I should have known better, but I took out my six iron on hole number 4. DUMB! It’s like I’ve never golfed before — kind of like it was here at Mountain Brook 4 years ago. But I didn’t give up, and my next shot followed the first one into someone’s backyard. And then when I took out my trusty lob wedge my shot veered off sharply to the right. And so did my nine iron. And my sand wedge. What? I know I’m a crappy golfer, but this is ridiculous. By the time we finished the ninth hole, with the first hole open and still plenty of light left in the afternoon, we didn’t even WANT to go for a few extra holes.

Back at the ranch I added and re-added my score card. Hmmm… Sue got the rice and asparagus fried up while I barbecued the pork chops. We’ve not barbecued a lot since we arrived here a month ago.

I still have a few movies in iTunes that we haven’t watched, so we decided to watch one of them tonight — “I Am Love”. I had downloaded it in two parts. When the final credits rolled by after one hour, I realized we had watched ‘Part 2’ first! No wonder the movie seemed weird. We watched Part 1 and filled in some of the details. Still, not a great movie. In hindsight it may have actually been BETTER watching it this way! With all that farting around and trying to figure out what was going on, we’d frittered away the better part of the evening. Time for the CBC news. Sue went to bed while I tried to stay awake in case anything good happened on TV. I finally surrendered and went to bed too. And what’s Sue not watching on the bedroom TV? a PBS all-star tribute to the music of Bruce Springsteen! We watched that, and managed to stay up until it was over at 1:00am.

More Garage Sales in GC

Saturday. The first Saturday of the month. We think it must be a day for garage sales. And as we sat and ate our bacon and eggs we watched numerous cars idle by, stopping to look at the open garage door across the street. I guess our neighbour didn’t realize it was garage sale day at Vista Point (our community)! It reminds me of some friends of ours whose garage looked like a garage sale about to happen, and who had to CLOSE their garage doors on Thursday mornings in the summertime.

Sue and Rudy at sunsetSo, after breakfast, we got on our bikes and scouted things out. Not many open garage doors on our street. Actually, not many sellers in all of Vista Point, although there were some good deals to be had. Too bad we’re not looking for bar stools or an almost-new all-wood dining room suite. No, we’re sort of looking for some table games, or some toys for when Max comes for Christmas. And maybe even some cheap Christmas lights and decorations so we can fit in with the Mountain Brook folks. But not today. So we cycled out to Mountain Brook — no garage sales there — but we saw signs for an ‘estate sale’ and we followed those up the mountain. Hmmm… we’re probably too late — thinks looked pretty ‘picked over’, although Sue DID buy some more serving dishes.

After lunch Sue read and I putskied around and worked on my TV aerial some more. I ended up going into town (Apache Junction) and getting some stuff from ACE Hardware. There was some kind of street market on the Old West Hwy — the road was closed so I had to detour — and so it took me a long time to get there and to get home. And on the way home all I could see ahead of me was the setting sun brilliantly lighting up Superstition Mountain. The sky had been cloudy and gloomy all day but now, at around 5 o’clock, the clouds opened up in the western sky just so the sun could get one last peak at the mountain.

I hurried home so that Sue and I could hike up the little hill behind our house to see that ‘purple mountain majesty’. And as we sat and watched, the mountain and the valley below it put on a little ‘slide show’ for us, changing colors every minute or so. Here’s a gallery of some of my photos — even looking west, out across the desert, the blanket of clouds were tinted with ‘pastel’ pinks and purples.

After supper (leftover spaghetti) we decided to start watching some of those ‘series’ that so many of our friends have told us about but we don’t know anything about. So we watched the first 3 episodes of “Orange is the New Black”. Not sure about it. We switched to CNN after that, and ended up watching 2 one-hour ‘Lisa Lin’ documentaries, which were very interesting (i.e. we didn’t fall asleep during the show!). And then to bed.

Giants Win! Who Cares!

Another Sunday. Another NFL day at GC.

We got things started with a ‘telephone’ call from Max — on his toy phone. He’d just had pancakes for breakfast and he told me he was looking forward to flying to Phoenix in a big airplane and Opa and Oma would pick them up at the airport. But first they would have to wait for their suitcases. Well, Opa and Oma sure are looking forward to that day too.

We watched our Sunday morning shows and followed that up with a pretty nice breakfast of our own — French toast with peanut butter and fruit and bacon!

Two TVs - NFL SundaySue read outside in the afternoon. I diddled around, putting on our putting green and doing an hour’s worth of work for Koop. I didn’t really watch the 11:00 NFL games; we didn’t get the Vikings or the Giants on our channels, and I didn’t really care about Indianapolis game. I was more interested in the late afternoon games. In fact, I really wanted to watch TWO games — the Arizona/Chiefs game and the Seahawks/Eagles game. So I set up the bedroom TV next to the living room one and watched both! And when I saw that the Giants had blown away the Titans and the Vikings beat the Jets in overtime I thought this could be a big ‘turnaround’ day for me — for a change the teams I cheered for WON! Well, not quite. The Cardinals won, but so did the Seahawks. And then, after we’d watched 60 minutes and ate half of the pizza Sue picked up from the Hitching Post, we watched the Patriots beat the Chargers. I guess I expected that.

After the football games were over we watched the CBC News and ate some homemade crackerjack popcorn. And went to bed.

Sidewinder revisited

We had a 12:25 tee time at Sidewinder booked for today, joining Ed Peters who is going home tomorrow. Since our last outing at Mountain Brook was so discouraging, I really needed to go hit a few balls on the driving range before the game. So this morning Sue and I picked a few clubs out of the bag (6-iron for me) and walked across the road to the Gold Canyon Golf Course. Our ‘gold card’ membership gets us ‘free’ driving range there. We each smacked a big bucket of balls, and it looked like I might have ‘fixed’ something. (Not surprisingly, the solution is to NOT swing hard and let the club do the work! I knew that!)

When we got home I noticed some ‘garbage’ down the street where a neighbour was getting his air conditioning replaced. I managed to ‘salvage’ a wooden palette and took it home to make (another!) homemade TV aerial. Not enough time to finish it though; Sue had lunch ready at 11:30 so we’d be ready to leave at noon. I quickly called my parents to check up on them (they’re doing fine, enjoying various Christmas concerts at church) and then we headed back across the road.

Sue at SidewinderOur threesome was joined by an older gentleman, “Bob”, at the course. Sue’s driver is still working pretty good for me — I really need to ‘get my own’. The temperature was 75 degrees, a light wind, just enough clouds to keep the schnoz from getting sunburnt. The game was going well, too. And we had fun. Both Sue and I played with the same ball for most of the game — that is, until Hole 15, where my second shot went into the pond. Three times in a row. And I was doing so good! So that balooned my 47 on the front nine — to 100 for the game. And Sue just keeps on swinging that easy swing of hers and playing great golf.

We got home ‘early’ (before sunset) and while Sue made the G&Ts I got back to work on my TV aerial. Following the instructions I’d found online, I cut and bent my pile of coat hangers and assembled them on the palette board, until Sue got mad and ordered me out to the barbecue. I gobbled down my supper and got back to my project, scanning for ‘new’ channels on the bedroom TV. Hey, I got the local ABC station! This is working!

And now Monday Night Football was starting — Falcons at the Packers. Should be a close game — for the first 5 minutes! And sure enough, Green Bay had a comfortable lead at halftime. So I’d sort of lost interest in the game, and was busy downloading episodes of the TV series “Suits” that Sue and I want to start watching. Sometime in the fourth quarter, I noticed that Atlanta was making a comeback. Not a bad finish! Atlanta scored 30 of their 37 points in the second half, but it was too little too late — Green Bay won 43-37.

Went to bed and watched a bit of late night TV on the bedroom TV — Jimmy Kimmel tonight, now that we get ABC. Exciting! Well, at least I thought so. Sue keeps reminding me that for the 3 or 4 minutes that I manage to stay awake watching late night TV any channel would be good enough!

Farewell to the Peters

Tuesday. That means it’s garbage day here at Vista Point. Yippee! Okay, it’s not THAT special — we have TWO garbage days a week here.

Superstition Panorama
After breakfast we got our bike shorts on and went for a ride around our ‘loop’. Another beautiful day here. I had to stop on the way back (after climbing the ‘big’ hill!) to take a photo of ‘our’ mountain. Ever since we first came to Gold Canyon 4 years ago, Superstition Mountain has been a landmark for us. And for prairie folks like us, who really don’t know anything at all about a mountain on the horizon, we’ve come to love and appreciate our mountain. Dinosaur Golf at SuperstitionNo matter how mixed up and crazy some of the little bays and cul de sacs here are, or which hole you’re on at the golf course, you can always orient yourself by just looking up to Superstition, from whence cometh our sense of direction.

When we got home Sue took out the shears from the garage and proceeded to give the big bougainvillaea bush on our front yard a haircut. Too many ‘dead’ branches. Sue had gotten permission from the owners to do this. Now our big garbage bin, which had just been emptied, is full again — with thorny branches. Good thing Friday is another Garbage Day.

After lunch Sue went to the pool to read. I did some work on the computer and made a couple of phone calls. I also got the leaf-blower out and cleaned off our putting green in the backyard. I putted for a bit — still can’t get 4 in a row in.

We had an early supper and then went to Ed and Val’s for 6:00pm. In the spirit of the season, they greeted us with a couple of Christmas hampers — all the leftovers from their fridge, etc. They are coming back at the end of January, so I guess they didn’t really need to pack more than the one little suitcase they put in the van. We headed to the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix and dropped them off at the WestJet gate. Said goodbye and Merry Christmas.

We tjriesled our way down to the IKEA store in Tempe on the way home. We were looking for some chair cushions for our kitchen chairs at the house. Man, that is a bizarre system of so-called store layout those Swedes have invented:  winding and circling and following arrows on the floor like a giant game board for shoppers. But I guess it works. We found our cushions alright, but then followed that maze around most of two floors towards the exit, all the while picking up more things that we didn’t know we needed! We finally managed to find the checkouts at the end, where we quietly stood in a long hardly-moving line for the final half hour before making our escape. The 35-mile drive home was less complicated and way less stressful.

At home, we snacked on more of that homemade caramel popcorn and watched the news.

Practice makes per… no difference!

Woke up just before 7:00 to the sound of my phone ringing in the kitchen. What’s up? It’s still dark here. I answered the FaceTime call — it’s Max, sitting at his breakfast table, eating pancakes, and giving Opa a call. They’re coming to visit in Phoenix real soon! A great ‘wake-up’ call.

Scrambled eggs for breakfast. No, it’s not Saturday, but the Christmas hamper from the Peters had another dozen eggs in it so we had to celebrate.

After breakfast I worked on some websites for a couple of hours. Sue did her exercises and laundry. It was another beautiful day here, 10 degrees above normal.

Mountain Brook Hole 12After lunch Sue took her putter and marched across the road to the Gold Canyon putting green to ‘practice’ her putting. She’s of the opinion that practicing on OUR little putting green in the backyard doesn’t help anything. We’ll see. I putted in the backyard — got 3 in a row in quite a few times, but that fourth ball just won’t listen.

At around 2:45 we went to Mountain Brook — we had a 3:15 tee time. It was a slow day at the course, and as we drove there we noticed that there was no one on hole 9. So we asked if we could walk the BACK nine today, and they said okay. So that’s what we did.

Mountain Brook Hole 18We both had only good drives! Really good drives! It must be Sue’s driver which we are ‘sharing’. Now if only all that putting practice would pay off on the greens. But no, after a fun time walking the back nine, we finished with a 50 for me, 55 for Sue. And it’s the putting that’s letting us down. We threw our clubs into the van and headed to the grocery store. As we drove there Sue announced that the best way to improve would be to NOT practice, to NOT go golfing every day — all that practice actually HINDERS your progress!

We bought a couple of steaks at Bashas and went home to barbecue. The evening was warm, the sun setting on the mountain. After supper we watched a movie I’d downloaded, “The Immigrant”. Too bad my download didn’t include subtitles for all the Polish parts of the movie! But I think we ‘got’ most of it. We followed that up with the pilot episode of “Suits”. That was good, too. We tried to keep our eyes open long enough to watch Jon Stewart and then to bed.

Harafish group photo June 2008
Harafish Bookclub – June 2008. That’s Phyllis in the middle, in the white jacket.

One more thing: Sue reminded me that I hadn’t said anything in yesterday’s entry about the news of her friend Phyllis, so I’ll add that here. My sister Irmy invited Sue to join her Winnipeg bookclub (Harafish) about 15 years ago. The other 5 or 6 members were mostly librarians. Phyllis was one of them. The group met once a month. At their October meeting, just before we left for the winter, they were surprised that Phyllis didn’t attend. They found out the next day that Phyllis had had a stroke, and was in the hospital. The stroke had affected her one side and she’d lost her ability to speak. And for the next month Irmy would send us updates to tell us how she was doing. It looked like things were getting a bit better at first, but in the last week Phyllis was not making progress. Then, yesterday at noon, Sue got an email from Irmy that Phyllis had died that morning! Quite a shock. Phyllis was 60 years old, younger than Sue. She was still working but so looking forward to retiring and seeing more of the world. (We’d stayed at her son Peter’s apartment in Paris a year ago.) And now she is gone. R.I.P., Phyllis. Just another reminder that we need to take the opportunities to do what we want to do while we still can. And if that’s golfing in Arizona for the winter then that’s what we should do.



Happy Birthday, Sue

I woke up next to an older woman this morning. (Old people like old jokes like that.) For much of the morning Sue was either on the phone or on her iPad getting birthday wishes. I went for a bike ride around the loop while Sue sat outside in the sun and read. Our neighbour looks to have moved into her house — she was planting a new cactus in the front yard and a carpenter was building a patio roof structure similar to what we have in her backyard.

Sue at 63 at the Tempe MarketplaceAfter lunch we drove into the city. First stop, IKEA — to exchange those seat cushions for larger ones. Then we had the GPS guide us the long way around up to the Tempe Marketplace. We’d not been there before and wanted to go watch a matinee at the Harkins theatre there. We wandered around the outdoor mall for half an hour before going in to the movie. We saw “The Theory of Everything”, the story of Stephen Hawking. Sue cried through some of it, although it wasn’t a sad movie. In fact, we both thought it was a very good movie.

Sue at 63 at the Tempe MarketplaceAfter the movie we drove back to the restaurant we’d gone to for Sue’s 60th birthday three years ago. We got the table outside, next to the big wood fireplace, and had a very nice dinner.

Back at our house we watched the last quarter of the football game (Arizona won) and the CBC ‘At Issue’ panel on the news.  And THAT’S how we celebrated Sue’s birthday!

Four in a row!

Four in a row!Today, before lunch, Sue and I went to the Gold Canyon Golf Course to hit balls at the driving range. We swung our clubs for over an hour. I actually tried out a TaylorMade driver from the pro shop, but was disappointed. I can hit the ball very well with Sue’s driver — so I’m tempted to buy one just like it for myself.

As has become my custom, I watched “Holmes on Homes” on TV while we had lunch. The hour-long show was followed by a second episode, so I stayed on the couch to watch it as well. When I woke up I heard Sue, sitting in the bedroom, talking on the phone. I went outside and practiced my putting. I’ve been putting better lately, in part because I’ve been practicing on our little backyard putting green. Until today, I just couldn’t seem to get all four golf balls to sink in a row. I could sink three almost any old time, but until today I could not get the fourth one to follow. And, if it’s anything like the game of golf itself, once you break a hundred (or ninety, or maybe someday, eighty) apparently it is easier to repeat the feat from then on. And so I expect to be able to putt four in a row from now on.

I noticed that my internet was acting up — I couldn’t access any of the sites on my server. So I spent an hour on the phone trying to get to the root of the problem. I ended up in a long ‘chat’ session with Mediacom, our ISP here in Phoenix. I’m convinced it is their system that has me locked out — but the ‘techie’ on the chat session wasn’t very helpful. I’m hoping that it will get corrected soon. In the meantime I’m using my phone as a ‘hotspot’ to connect and to post to my site. Not ideal.

After supper (pizza) we sat in front of the TV and watched a couple more episodes of “Suits”. We also watched a movie on Netflix (“Stuck in Love”). So-so. News at 11:00. Good-night.


Apparently we won’t have a ‘special’ date format like this again until 01-02-03, 89 years from now. We started off our Saturday morning with a FaceTime call from Alex and Max. Today Tim and Alex are having their big annual Christmas Dinner Party, so it’s a busy day for them. After making our morning coffee and bacon and eggs, OUR day wasn’t all that busy! It was cool and RAINY this morning! low, heavy clouds hid Superstition completely from view. And it poured at night — all our patio furniture was sopping wet.

Heavy clouds over Superstition Mountain.
Heavy clouds over Superstition Mountain.
Sue in her 'winter' golfing outfit. The sun is trying to break through the clouds on the mountain.
Sue in her ‘winter’ golfing outfit. The sun is trying to break through the clouds on the mountain.

Sunshine! Beautiful weather for golfing the back nine.
Sunshine! Beautiful weather for golfing the back nine.
One of those 'lucky ducks' blocked my errant golf shot and kept my ball from going into the pond!
One of those ‘lucky ducks’ blocked my errant golf shot and kept my ball from going into the pond!

We didn’t know whether the golf course was even open today, but Sue called to confirm before we headed to Mountain Brook for our 12:30 tee time. Not too busy at the course, which was great for us!

It was cool, sweater and jacket weather, winter gloves and hat and scarf weather for Sue! But we had a great afternoon. We both golfed pretty well, under 50 on the front nine. And it seemed to get nicer — warmer and sunnier — with every hole we played. By the time we were halfway around the back nine we were sorry we hadn’t worn shorts and short sleeves! My 45 on the front nine didn’t hold up and I finished with 100. Still, okay for me.

We came home for happy hour and skyped with my parents. They’ve had some exceptionally nice weather at home too. Here the sun, which had burned away the shrouding around our mountain, painted Superstition in pinks and purples. Sue made a delicious curried pork and mashed potatoes dinner. And then we settled into our stations in front of the TV and watched an episode of ‘Suits’. After that we watched a bootleg copy of “Still Alice”, a movie based on a book by the same name. Sue’s bookclub had read four years ago. The movie was great! We watched the first 1/2 hour episode from “The Trip to Italy”, a British comedy series, before going to bed.


Breakfast while watching our Sunday morning shows. Then, after Fareed, I watched NFL Countdown — the countdown to another Sunday of football at our house. And from 11:00 until sometime in the evening when it became clear that the Cowboys would beat the Eagles, I sat on the couch and watched football. (Giants won, Vikings lost, Cardinals didn’t play. Seahawks, Broncos, and Patriots won, and the Packers lost! Oh well, for what it’s worth, I still think that at the end of February the Broncos will beat the Packers in the Superbowl.) It’s my last ‘football-all-day’ Sunday this year. Sue is happy about that. She had to get out of the house, just to get away from the TV noise, and go for a long walk. Bonus: She came home with boxes of Christmas chocolates from Walgreens.

Although it doesn’t feel at all like Christmas here in our place, the countdown to Christmas has begun. Next Sunday our kids will be here. Sue and I are looking for things to do with them. Sue’s marked her calendar for local church Christmas programs. She’s got baking and cooking to do. We have bags of goodies that I’m not allowed to touch — “they’re for when the kids come!” It’s all I can do to keep her from stringing up ‘icicle lights’ on the house! If it didn’t feel so wrong, we’d have stopped at one of the Christmas tree lots next to Walmart and jammed one of those poor spruce trees into the van next to the golf clubs. And, in all truth, I’m counting down the days too. I too am looking for things to do and places to go with our visitors. I only hope that we have enough time to do all the things we’ve got to do! Let’s hope that Tim and Alex don’t want to come here for a RELAXING Christmas vacation — that ain’t gonna happen!

Christmas Shopping

We went for a long walk in the morning. I was trying out the ‘MapMyRide’ app on my phone — it tracked where we went, how far, how fast, how high, how many calories… Yikes! that can take the fun out of a boring old walk pretty fast. But we wandered around another residential area and saw some great views of Dinosaur Mountain.

After lunch we went into town. First to Apache Junction. Knick-knacks, some groceries, some Christmas things, etc. Even a stop at the Fruit Market for more of that. Then we went back to IKEA one more time. Those $5 seat cushions are costing us about $15 in gas! Now the ‘new’ ones are even shorter than the first set we bought, so we went back to exchange them for the original ones. And, just for the ‘fun’ of it, I took the scenic route there. Thirty-five miles each way. Through Gilbert and Chandler and Tempe. We enjoyed some rush hour freeway traffic on the ride home.

I over-barbecued (according to Sue; I thought they were just right) some pork chops to go with the fried rice and salad that Sue made for supper. Then we watched another two episodes of ‘Suits’ before switching over to Monday Night Football. The game was in the last quarter and the Saints easily won over the Bears. Two pathetic teams. Then the news and off to bed.

Counting the Score

Today we did some counting. Mostly, Sue did some A-ccounting. All morning she was busy with her calculator and her iPad and her little notebook and pencil. And I had the printer hooked up to the computer and was printing out statements. Once a month I have to answer questions like “What’s this $32.45 charge from VALEROINTHEZONE for?” and I have to stop whatever I’m doing and try to figure out what the MasterCard shorthand stands for and what I (or often Sue!) bought there. The more we are not ‘in business’ the more accounting we do. By the end of it all, in spite of all Sue’s worry and warnings, we’re not broke (yet). (And it seems that the less I use Sue’s iPad, the more I am at fault for icons and buttons that may have changed position or function since the last time we ‘did the books’.) Anyway, all that doing BUSINESS meant that we did NOT go to the driving range this morning as planned.

In fact, we had to hurry through lunch so we could get to Mountain Brook for our 1:45 tee time. Cool weather today, but once again, the afternoon sun meant that we golfed in shirt sleeves until midway through the back nine when the layers started to come back on. I tried out a ‘demo’ driver from the pro shop — and, for the most part, it worked pretty well. Not as well as when I pulled out Sue’s driver by mistake and hit the ball straighter than I had with the trial club! But I’ll give the driver another try — maybe with a “senior flex” shaft it will be right for me. We skipped Hole #2 because 3 old ladies, one of whom could barely walk!, were ahead of us, so we jumped ahead to Hole #3. We figured we’d rather golf 17 holes than watch this gong show and get in at most 9 holes all afternoon. So in the end, just like our ‘accounting’, we had to ‘estimate’ what we might have gotten on Hole #2 and ’round up’ our scores. While we’re not getting much better golfers, we’re probably not getting worse either. And we had fun.

In the spirit of the season, Sue made a pot of chilli for supper. It almost felt like we had gone for a sleigh ride and carolling with our church group! After all that whacking the ball around in the cool afternoon, I ate heartily. Actually, I ALWAYS eat heartily. Then ‘the usual’ — a couple of episodes of ‘Suits’ (with appropriate ‘snack breaks’ while Sue visits on the phone) and the CBC News before going to bed early again.

Christmas Times A-Coming

Sue with 2 batches of cookies mapmyride_01Sue finished her book (Lisa and Laura Ling’s North Korea book — how fitting, since today Sony Pictures announced that they will cancel the Christmas opening of their anti-Kim Jong-un comedy “The Interview” because of threats from hackers — reportedly backed by North Korea!). I did some computer work — although very little ‘hacking’. Then, before lunch, Suzy Homemaker got out her oven mitts and made another batch of chocolate-chip cookies. Yep, we’re getting ready for the holidays here — we can hardly wait until the kids arrive on Saturday. I can hardly wait until I can have some of those ‘treats’ Sue has stashed in our pantry and on top of the fridge — chocolates and peanuts — no, don’t open that, it’s for when the kids come for Christmas!

After lunch we went for a walk. I tried using my ‘MapMyRide’ app again — it counts all my vital statistics while I walk and even maps my route. Except it STOPPED halfway through the walk, when Sue and I were walking the golf course. We were walking the golf course because it was kind of cool and misty — no golfers out today. We stopped at Walgreens on the way home and Sue picked up more Christmas lights for our tree. Sue decorated the fake tree and even tried to hang a stocking for Max. It’s looking festive in here. We watched “Locke”, one of the many new movies I’ve downloaded before supper.

O Christmas TreeI picked up Chinese from the Great Wall restaurant at the corner for supper. After supper we had the usual: a couple of episodes of Suits and the CBC News. Ice cream and (freshly baked) cookies for snack. Three more sleeps.

Winter Golf

It’s cold here today. We decided to ‘warm up’ by going for a brisk walk before lunch. We walked across Gold Canyon to Bashas — picked up some bread — and back home again. According to that new ‘MapMyWalk’ app on my phone we waked almost 9 kilometres.

After lunch (the ‘usual’, sandwiches, but with very fresh bread today!) we drove to Mountain Brook Golf Course. We’d booked an ‘online special’ for 1:45pm. I guess the weather forecast (cold, cloudy) meant few golfers were booking tee times — we hardy Manitobans will brave any kind of weather for a ‘deal’! We ended up being paired up with a couple of older guys who are parked in the RV Park across the road for the winter.

Sue wearing jacket and hat, putting.After the first two or three holes the sun came out and it warmed up a bit. Golfing was fun, but our games were not very good. And by the end of the afternoon it was quite cold again. The old guys didn’t have jackets and they looked VERY cold. We finished our round (both shot 106) and went home to warm up. Leftover Chinese for supper.

We finished the first season of ‘Suits’ tonight and followed that up with a LONG movie, ‘Boyhood’. I’d heard that it’s Obama’s favorite movie of the year. We both liked it too. It was filmed over about a dozen years, and it follows the growing up of two children in ‘real time’ so the main characters actually grow up as the movie progresses. After the movie we watched the ‘At Issue’ panel on CBC and the Daily Show before going to bed.

Gettin’ Ready for the Guests

It feels like Saturday. Well, except for no bacon and eggs. When I looked at the list of movies playing at Superstition today and suggested to Sue that maybe we should go to a movie this afternoon I got a VERY quick and stern “NO” back. We are BUSY today. We have a lot of things to get ready for our visitors. Yeah, but they’re only coming in the mid-afternoon. Rudy, I have a LONG list of things that I need to get done. Okay, that settles that. You’d think the king and queen are coming. Well, okay, they are, and they’re bringing the prince with them.

While Sue did laundry and cleaned and reorganized the bedrooms and bathrooms (we’ll be sharing a bathroom for the next two weeks), I got out the Dirt Devil (first time since we’ve been here!) and vacuumed the house. The carpet remnant we found in one of the closets has been neatly trimmed and rolled out in the middle of the living room — that’ll be Max’s play area. One of the extra chairs came out of that same closet and now has a new ‘booster seat’ attached to it at the dining room table. Toys and presents are now wrapped and bagged and parked beneath the fake fig ‘Christmas’ tree. It was all Sue could do to keep me from taking the van to the carwash, which I haven’t done since the day we arrived (and really don’t need to either, but when I saw the photo on SteinbachOnline of all those filthy cars driving along Main Street, I got a little itch to wash the car).

Sue in front of Dinosaur and Superstition
Dinosaur and Superstition Mountains

After lunch Sue took our (nice shiny clean) van to Bashas and re-stocked the pantry. More or less reorganized the kitchen, to make room for everything. Those kids of ours better eat a lot! Speaking of which, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is that after tomorrow the topic of our conversation on our daily walk will NOT be ‘what should I make for supper for when the kids arrive on Saturday’. Speaking of which, we went for our afternoon walk after the groceries were all packed away. I still can’t seem to get my little MapMyRide app to stay ON for the whole walk — so once again, about a mile into the walk, I check my phone and, sure enough, that damn thing is on ‘Pause Workout’. And I didn’t even touch it! Instead of ENHANCING our walks, that phone is turning me into one of those people who walk down the street and bash into other people or hydro poles. Sort of like spoiling a golf game by having to look at your phone for yardage after every shot (you know who I’m talking about!) So, to compensate for the spoiled walk (maybe even the spoiled day), Sue agreed to stop at the Hitching Post for a quick beer on the way home. Which we did. And we had deep-fried mushrooms to go with our ‘Kilt-lifter’. Ah, it doesn’t take much to make the boy happy.

Sunset on Dinosaur and a cactus
Yep, another sunset on Dinosaur

Back at the ranch, we showered and watched Brian Williams read the evening news. Then, after supper (leftover chilli — not serving THAT to the kids!), we watched another of my movie downloads — this one did NOT feature Chinese subtitles, although it too began with a couple of screens addressing us as ‘Members of the Academy’. (Yikes, with all the emails I’m getting from Redbox offering me codes for free rentals you’d think I’d be content watching legit movies!) Well, this time we struck out. “Mr Turner” was about as boring as it was long. As members of the academy, we will NOT be nominating this one.  I have no idea what we watched after that but Sue managed to stay awake and do a bit of channel surfing before somehow dragging me into bed. One more sleep.

They’re here!

Oma and Max at the airportAfter bacon and eggs for breakfast, we went for a hike up Silly Mountain. We stopped at Bashas on the way home. After lunch Sue and I went to the driving range and hit balls for nearly an hour. And then it was time to go to the airport. I checked the flight — all good, on time, maybe even a few minutes early. We got to the airport at 3:20pm — just about the time the plane landed. And there they were! Three smiling faces. Oma got a big hug from Max and so did Opa. While we waited for the luggage Max and I went for a walk around the parking lot. Counted the yellow taxis all in a row. Watched a puppy and his owner waiting for visitors to come through arrivals.

We drove home — and I guess I was so excited I missed the turnoff to Gold Canyon. After a short detour we got to our house. After a snack Max and I went for a little hike up the mountain behind our house. We saw the sunset from up there. Then, before it got too dark, we headed back down. Tim was barbecuing chicken and Sue had made potatoes and salad. Supper. Lots of visiting and enjoying Max. When I tucked him into his own bed at around 8pm he went quietly to sleep. Nice kid. The rest of us did our best to stay awake but by 10 o’clock we too were in bed.

The Long and Short of It

Got up just before 7 — and there were Alex and Max sitting in the living room. All happy. All had slept well. Sunday morning. The shortest day of the year. Let’s see how much we can pack in.

Sue warmed up those frozen cinnamon buns and cut up some fruit for breakfast. I made a pot of coffee. The booster seat we bought for Max to use works great. He is such a happy (and talkative!) boy. After sitting around in the morning it was determined that we would need some more toys for Max. So we all piled into the van and headed off to the Mesa Marketplace. We did a big loop around, looking at the displays (of junk), Max riding in his stroller and conveniently just out of reach of most of the things he all wanted to have. Not too much in the way of toys there. What next?

I want all of theseWell, there’s a big Walmart just around the corner. Let’s try that. Surely it won’t be a zoo of last-minute Christmas shoppers this morning. And it was okay — we had some success there, coming home with a truck and trailer and some Hot Wheels and toy animals. Of course, Max would have liked to have pretty much ALL the things he saw there, but eventually we put all the stuffed Disney toys back into the display bin.

Tim golfingBack home, we had lunch. Sat around a bit and then Tim and I went to Mountain Brook for a game of golf. Nice sunny day. Shirt sleeves until around 4pm. And while the women and child went for a long walk around the neighbourhood, Tim and I scattered balls around the golf course. Shot not so good a game, but had fun. The course was open and we finished 18 holes before dusk.

The longest driveSue had been making hamburger patties in the afternoon, so after a quick change and a chance to warm up a bit, Tim barbecued those for our supper. Max was busy flitzing around the house. His favorite activity is getting chased by one of the adults. Lots of laughing. Meanwhile, I settled into my place on the couch and did my best to stay awake just in case the Cardinals staged a massive comeback against the overwhelming Seahawks. But it was not to be. And by the time that sorry game ended we’d lost Max and Alex to their beds and Tim and Sue were fading fast. So was I. So are the prospects for the Cardinals in the playoffs. Oh well. What did I expect?

Tomorrow will come soon enough — and the days will be getting longer.

Shopping Day

red_balls_at_targetAfter breakfast we were off for a morning of shopping. First stop, a Target store, hoping to find a nice hat for Max. Although we didn’t find a suitable hat, we DID have fun playing on the giant red balls outside the entrance.

Max at the PlaylandThen we continued on to the Santan Village Shopping Center, a big outdoor mall. While Tim and the ladies went shopping Max and I played in the playland in the courtyard. Lots of other parents and grandparents had the same idea. Max has as much fun watching other children as he does playing himself. So we did a lot of that.

Alex and Max deciding what to orderAnd after we’d checked out the pet store and Max had proclaimed that he ‘wuved’ every little dog behind the glass, we found the others and had lunch at one of the many restaurants in the complex. Max, sporting the new hat his parents had found and bought for him, ordered macaroni and cheese.

We managed to make it home just in time for ‘nap time’. And while the girls went for a bike ride around ‘the loop’, the boys listened to some Joe Cocker tunes (he died today) and then caught up on some shut-eye. When the girls got back and we’d all been awakened, Opa and Tim and Alex and Max went for a ‘hike’ up the hill behind our house to check out the sunset while Sue worked on supper. And while there was a bit of a haze in the air, and some clouds in the west kept the mountain from getting as red as it often is, we enjoyed not only the view but the walk as well. Just enough ‘exercise’ to warrant another visit around the supper table.

scraping-out-the-pie-plateAfter supper Max entertained us for a while until he was off to bed. Alex made one of her delicious Christmas desserts (marshmallow squares) for dessert — and I got to scrape out the plate. Then we dug out the games we’d borrowed from Ed and Val and the four adults played “Apples to Apples” at the dining room table until sleep overcame us and we all headed off to bed as well.

Zoo Day

Rudy and Max on the Merry-Go-RoundToday was a bright, sunshiny day — perfect for a visit to the Phoenix Zoo. Knowing that Max would need his afternoon nap, we decided to see if we could get out of the house nice and early. And by shortly after nine we’d finished breakfast and were on the road. We’d never been to the zoo here before. We got there just before 10:00, right about the same time that about 20 school buses emptied their loads at the front gate. But we managed to ‘leap-frog’ the teachers with their classes of children and the zoo was big enough that we got to see the things we really wanted to see without any delays. So we saw giraffes, tigers, lions, monkeys, elephants, and a sleeping rhino. And deer, birds, and snakes too. And the best part of the zoo may have been the merry-go-round.

We finished the zoo visit around 11:30 and headed back for home. Along the way we stopped at a burger restaurant and had lunch outside on the patio there. Then home, just in time for nap time. While Max, Alex, and I slept, Tim and Sue went to the Fruit Market in Apache Junction and to the grocery store to pick up things we needed for supper. I took two golf clubs and went across the road to the driving range to hit some balls. After about thirty minutes or so Tim and Max joined me there. The three of us went for a long walk and ended up at the kids’ play structure not too far from our house. Max had a great time climbing and sliding until we decided it was time to go back home.

Watching TV with MaxSnacks around the table– and supper soon after. We watched a Mickey Mouse Christmas movie until it was time for me to read Max a bedtime story and tuck him in. Then we watched an episode of “the trip to Italy” and some CBC National News before Sue and I bid goodnight to the kids and excused ourselves to the bedroom.

Christmas Eve

The best part of the morning is seeing Max’s big smile when he comes into our bedroom to see that we’re finished sleeping. The best part of breakfast is watching Max finish his fruit and cereal. He’s a hearty eater. He’s a very loveable little boy. He makes mornings more fun!

going for a walk with SueAfter breakfast Sue and I went for a long walk. I needed to get a photo of a Santa hat on a cactus to include in a reply to an email we got from some friends in Germany who sent us Christmas greetings including a photo of THEIR christmas tree. Got one. Santa CactusWhen we got back from our walk I had a shower and we all had an early lunch. And then Tim and I had to hurry across the road to the golf course to make our 12:30 tee time at Sidewinder.

Christmas Eve. What a good day to go golfing. No one ahead of us, no one behind us. Just the two of us — the golf course was ours. And the sun was shining–probably the nicest day we’ll have. And the game started off just as fine. a TWO on hole 4In fact, I had a TWO on the par three hole #4 when my tee shot landed just inches from the hole. But the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. When our three hours were up Tim shot a 99 and I had a score of 103. Not great but not bad. And I was up a couple of balls on the day — and still playing with the ball I’d started with.

Max and the girls had gone to a nearby park when we got home but got home soon after. Then Tim and Alex took the van to pick up Chinese food for our supper while Max and I went on a short hike up the hill behind our place. I showed Max how not to touch the ‘pokey’ cactuses — and had quite the time getting those barbed needles out of my thumb.

Going for a walk with MaxBy the time we were back from our walk the food was all set on the table. Yummy. Good eating for our Christmas Eve meal. And then we all got back into the van and went for at least an hourlong ride to look at Christmas lights. Max’s favourite: those lit up reindeer with their heads ‘tuwning awound’. I did my best to accommodate him until Max’s head was the one nodding up and down. When we got home he didn’t want his bath nor a night snack. Just straight to bed, all tuckered out. The end of a perfect day. Well no, we’re not quite done yet — first we’ll eat quite a few too many of those tasty chocolate-covered peanut butter balls Alex made while we were out golfing. And a bit of TV. AND THEN, around 10 o’clock, our Christmas Eve is complete. Let’s hang up the stockings, set out the milk and cookies, and go to bed.

Christmas Day in G.C.

Good morning. Merry Christmas. Time to open some presents.

Max got a big sticker book for Christmas. And a new ‘bike’. And then we had crepes and bacon for breakfast. Already it was a ‘special’ day!

After breakfast we hopped into the van and drove out to the parking lot at Silly Mountain. And while Tim and Alex and Sue made it all the way up to the top, Max and I got about halfway up. Max did pretty good and got lots of big smiles and ‘Merry Christmas’ wishes from other hikers who passed us on the way.

After lunch we lazed around and napped a bit. After Max woke up Alex and I walked him up the big hill behind our house while he ‘rode’ his new Stryder bike. We almost missed our ‘happy hour’ snacks that Tim prepared for us.

Sue made salmon for supper. And then, after reading Max his bedtime story and tucking him into bed, we cued up a Netflix movie on TV and watched “Love Actually”. Well no, not ALL of us watched it. I dozed off pretty much as soon as the movie started and finally dragged my weary butt into bed before it was over. Too much excitement for one day!

Boxing Day

Against their better judgment, Alex and Sue thought today would be a great day to go shopping. Which they did. Right after breakfast. An ‘all-day’ shopping trip to the Chandler Fashion Mall. My guess is they either had lots of things to return or they will have.

After the girls left, I took Max to the play structure in the park not too far from our house. We started out with Max on his new Strider ‘bike’, but after about a block of that I ended up carrying the bike while Max doddled along behind me, completely distracted by every house with Christmas decorations on the yard. And there are quite a few. And now that I measure the actual distance using Google Maps I see it is 1.3kms to the park. So that’s a pretty long way for those little legs to walk — there and back, plus a whole lot of motoring around at the park in between.

We spent the morning there. The sun was shining so even though the thermometer said it wasn’t very warm out, it wasn’t unpleasant. A couple of parents stopped by and helped their little sweet peas teeter-tooter, swing, and slide. Max ended up sitting on the ground with his new bike lying beside him while he baptized it with sand. I sat on the bench and watched. Eventually I thought we should head back home — surely Max must need to go pee by now. And then, on the way, we got distracted at the car wash — and had to watch a guy wash his dirty dune buggy on the trailer behind his truck. And finally, when that was done, we continued on our way only to be met by a familiar face riding a bicycle toward us. Daddy! what’s he doing on a bike? Nevermind, what are WE doing out here? It’s 12:30, W-A-Y past lunch time! Tim hurried back to barbecue the hotdogs while I did my best to keep Max focused on getting back to the house in time for lunch.

After hotdogs Max went for his nap. Tim and I watched a bit of golf on TV. When I woke up Sue and Alex were sitting on the couch next to me, back from their shopping trip. Success! All around.

After a little snack it was time to get everybody ready for supper out. The kids took us out to the Mexican restaurant for our Christmas gift. Good times there. Too cold to sit outside in their patio, even with heaters going. So we sat inside and were entertained by Max.

The ride home included a few detours to look at all the Christmas lights (again). And Max was adamant that we find some of those ‘cool reindeers with their heads moving all around’. (There must have been some big sales for those wire mesh lit-up reindeer at Walmart this fall!)

Back at the ranch, after a quick bath and a bedtime story, Max was down for the count. The rest of us enjoyed some dessert and watched another episode or two of “The Trip to Italy” on TV. And that’s the end of another successful day!

(No photos today — Sue took my phone with her to the mall all day, and so all I have to go on is my photographic memory.)


Another Milestone

Max eating bacon and eggsBacon and eggs this morning! and sausages too! Saturday morning at the Nikkel house.

After breakfast Sue and Alex went for a walk. Max and I went out soon after to watch the garbage truck come around and empty all the garbage cans which were sitting at the end of each driveway. Very noisy. Very interesting. And then Max got on his Strider bike and we ‘cycled’ around the block, looking for interesting cactuses and maybe even some barking dogs or meowing cats. Found a few. We ended up heading up the big hill because Max wanted to see that big (Chinese stone) statue that one of the homes has guarding the front door. And if we see a reindeer that’s “moving his head around” that’s a bonus. We got to the top of the hill and headed back down. But Max is easily distracted — his curiosity keeps him from going in a straight line. So it took us a while to make it down. And by the time we got back to the house the others were waiting (anxiously, impatiently) because now I was going to risk being late for our tee time at Mountain Brook for twelve noon.

The girls dropped Tim and me off at the course — and then went to shop groceries and back home for naps while Tim and I slaved away at the course. The weather was quite cool (we actually covered our bougainvillea bushes with sheets for the night to keep them from freezing) but the sun was shining and as long as we were out of the breeze it was pleasant. We were joined by Shawn, a chiropractor from Phoenix, who was clearly a better golfer than the two of us. He teed off from the black tees, and then we two teed off from the whites. I started off okay but was a little embarrassed when on Hole 2 my tee shot dribbled off the tees into the scrub ahead of us. I re-shot my tee shot and scored a 6 on that par 3. Not a great beginning! But I hung in there and concluded the front nine with three pars in a row! A 43 on the par 35 front nine. My best nine holes this winter! This won’t hold up!

Breaking 90 at Mountain BrookAfter a beverage break we continued on the back nine. Once again my start was less than auspicious — a six followed by a seven. But there followed a TWO on a par 3, then a par, then another TWO on the next par 3, and then another par. And when all was said and done I finished with 44 on the back nine, for a total of 87! I BROKE 90! And looking at my scores for the last couple of weeks, I’ve not even broken a hundred more than a couple of times!

The girls and Max were waiting for us in the van in the parking lot when we finished our game — great timing! We drove back home and had happy hour and appetizers. Then Max and I went to Walgreen’s to pick up a DVD rental while the rest of the team worked on getting supper ready. Pasta and barbecued shrimp. Yummy. We all ate heartily. All that excitement (and sunshine and wind) sure works up an appetite.

After supper Max and I did a puzzle. The others cleaned up supper and played on their devices. After Max was tucked in we had a Skype call from the Penner family — live from their celebrations at Mart and Virlon’s house. And then it was time for night snack!

A little after nine we finally got that DVD going. Let’s see if we can stay awake for a good part of it!

End of the Regular Season

I woke up when I heard Max’s noisy battery-powered toy car driving around in the living room. It’s quarter to seven — time to get up.

I made coffee and tuned in CBS Sunday Morning on the TV. When Max heard the opening trumpet fanfare he said it was soon time to go to church. We are all creatures of habit!

Making BreakfastSue did NOT make french toast as per my request. No, there would be no more bacon frying up our house this morning. We had ordinary toast with peanut butter and jam. Or, in the case of Tim, we had JAM with a bit of toast to hold it up. And Sue and Max had PORRIDGE!

After breakfast Alex and Sue went for a long walk. I watched a bit of NFL Sunday before the first game began at eleven. Today is the final slate of regular season games for the NFL this year — and there are still a few playoff match-ups to be decided. Max was feeling a little grumpy — fussing with another tooth trying to work its way through his gums.

When the girls got back from their walk they got lunch ready. Everyone felt better after that. Max went for a nap. I got a bit excited when it looked like ‘my’ teams would win for a change. My Giants, who are out of the playoffs anyway, were beating the Eagles. The Cardinals looked like they had a good chance against the stumbling 49ers. The Lions were in pretty good against the Packers. Even the Seahawks were down 6-0 to the Rams at halftime. Of course, all of that quickly reversed itself as the afternoon went on, and all ‘my’ teams LOST! I’m starting to understand what it must feel like to be a Bomber fan!

Max playing in the kitchenTim and Alex were going out on a date tonight — leaving us to spend the evening with Max. He set up a bit of a camp in the kitchen. He played with his sticker book. Sue did a puzzle with him until the Cardinal game was over. Then we bundled up, took the flashlight, and marched off to the Hitching Post for supper. Chicken tenders and fries. Max ate heartily. And in between bites, he SANG heartily. And when we let him guide us home after supper, that flashlight shone at the stars, the moon, passing cars, cactuses and Christmas lights — everything EXCEPT our path.

Back home, the Sunday night game was already in the second quarter when Sue got Max into his PJs and read him his bedtime story. And before the game was over, the kids came back from their evening out, shopping bags in hand. I tried again to get some of my downloaded shows (“The Trip to Italy”) to play on my AppleTV but the streaming was too slow and we gave up. Oh well, it was 10:30, bedtime for most of us.

A trip to the ‘Pokey Cactus Park’

A doughnut for Max!Sue sent Alex, Max, and me out to Bashas to pick up some things for breakfast. We came back with doughnuts for everyone. A big pink one with sprinkles for Max. It was a hit — even better than homemade porridge!

Sue announced that we should ‘aim to leave by 9:30’. We were going to take a trip to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, a 320-acre nature park located about 20 minutes east of Gold Canyon. Ed and Val told us about it — said it was worth the trip. The forecast for today was sunny and not too cold, a perfect day to go to the park. And what did we expect to see? Lots of ‘pokey cactuses’. Ever since Max and I went on that hike up behind our house and I showed Max how NOT to touch those cute teddy bear cholla cactus plants, he reminds me of that mistake. And he is very wary of touching any and all plants here in Arizona.

We got to the park almost at the scheduled time and set off for the 1-mile trail walk around the park. Lots to see! Great for kids Max’s age. The highlight was near the start, when we sat down at a water fountain and a hummingbird came down and performed for us, flying right at us, then backing up, and then taking a bath in the fountain.

After about 2 hours of sight-seeing it was time for lunch. We drove home and had the usual: sandwiches and chips and a monster cookie for dessert. Then Max headed off for his nap, the girls went to the pool to read (and watch the big Amish family take over the pool!), Tim did some phoning, and I took my six-iron to the driving range.

When I got home Sue was working on getting supper going. The rest of us took a trip out to the Goldfield Ghost Town not far from our house. We knew it was late in the day, but we really only wanted to do a quick walk-around and maybe take a little train ride around the town.

By the time the sun was painting Superstition with reds and oranges the temperature was cooling down enough for us to head home. Supper was well on its way, and a new cake was sitting on the counter.

After supper we all watched Max run around for a while. I skyped with my Mom for a while. And after Max had his bath and got tucked into bed, we watched “The Trip to Italy” on Netflix.

Last nice day in G.C this year?

Max on the couch outsideWell, it’s the second last day of the year. And it is supposed to be a nice day today. And it’s supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow. So… we’d better do all our fun outdoor things today.

After toast Sue and Alex and I went for a bike ride. I got the short end of the stick and rode the crappy old mountain bike. I had to work pretty hard to stay with the girls. Then, when we were on our way back, about a mile from home I got a flat tire. It seemed to be a slow leak, so I pumped up the tire and cycled as fast as I could before it went flat again. Meantime, Tim and Max were tooling around on Max’s Strider — Max seems to be getting the hang of that bike! PLUS, they got to watch the garbage truck when it came by to pickup the trash bins and dump them into the truck. Exciting times!

Max and Alex at In-N-OutAt around 11:30 we got into the van and drove 20 minutes into town to have lunch (again) at the In-N-Out Burger place. Lots of fun there too. We sat outside under the patio umbrella and ate our burgers and fries and drank our milkshakes.

The girls dropped Tim and me off at the golf course at Mountain Brook for our 1:00 tee time. We were joined by another golfer, a nice man who lives in the RV park across the road. The beautiful sunny day and the threat of not nice weather tomorrow made for a busy day at the course. We needed the whole afternoon to finish 18 holes. But we had a very fun time. It was back to reality for me — the 95 that I (and Tim) shot today was more in line with my skill level than last game’s 87. But I felt like I made many good shots and I look forward to more scrores in the LOW 90s and maybe even lower.

The girls came to pick us up from the course at 5:30. We went home to wash up and change and then we all walked across the road to the restaurant at the Gold Canyon Golf Resort. We had a very nice dinner there — and after I finished my plate of scallops I was happy to help Max with his “Kid’s Burger and Fries”. Plus, because he was by far the cutest kid in the restaurant, the manager arranged for Max to get a big dish of chocolate ice cream for dessert — and I helped him finish that as well.

When I got home I got to read Max his bedtime story. After he went to sleep the rest of us sat in the living room and visited. If only people would ask us, we’d have answers to most of the complicated problems in the world today. Still, even experts like us get weary — and so, after some of Sue’s cake for dessert, we trudged off to bed by 10:30. But we can sleep in tomorrow — it’s supposed to rain!

Last day of the year

Max with umbrella outside in the rainNo rain when I got up at around 6:30. I got Max from his bed and we sat and read stories. I made coffee. Everyone else eventually found their way to the living room.

Tim, Max, and I once again went to Bashas to pick up some doughnuts for breakfast. We also picked up some more things while we were there. Max is quite the hit here — people give him a big smile and compliment him — I think they are all grandparents who wish their grandkids were here with them. The bakery lady gave him a free cookie to eat while we shopped. By the time we got home there were sprinkles of rain. And by 9 o’clock it was raining steady. It did that more-or-less all day.

Steaks for supperTim got the steaks he bought ready by marinating them and trimming them. Max inspected; it will be a fine barbecue for supper tonight. The Max and I went for a walk outside, just to check out the rain. Max managed to find quite a few puddles to splash in so that by the time we got back home his runners and socks were soaked and his hands were frozen.

Tim and Max reading storiesAfter lunch Alex and I headed into town to see a movie; “Mockingjay: Part 1”, another in the Hunger Games series. Although the movie was over 2 hours long, it was enjoyable enough that it seemed shorter than that and we didn’t even finish the whole bag of popcorn we’d bought. When we got home Max had just awakened from his nap. Tim read him some stories and they played on the iPad. We had happy hour at the table and then the cooks in the group started getting supper ready. Still, it rained. Tim barbecued the steaks to perfection out under the patio roof in the backyard. Supper was great!

Max entertained us for a while after supper — he’s been such a delight these past 10 days. He wakes up happy and he goes to bed happy. So, once again, after a bath and a bedtime story, Max went to sleep. And now the four of us had the evening ahead to try and stay awake until ‘next year’. At around 9pm Tim opened up a bottle of champagne and we had some of that with the tasty marshmallowy treats Alex and Sue made today. We tried to avoid playing table games by pretending to enjoy some schlocky “New Year’s Eve” TV specials.

So, Happy New Year everyone. We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet / For auld lang syne. Twenty-fourteen has been a blast. See ya next year!

Happy New Year

Frosty Van

Woke up same time as usual. Furnace is going pretty steady these days. All the rain yesterday and the cold temperatures at night resulted in a frosty cover on Superstition Mountain. A frosty coating on the van too! Yikes! Almost like living in Manitoba!

Before Sue had finished making bacon and eggs I hopped on my bike and pedalled up the small hill behind our place to get a few photos of the rising sun lighting up snow-covered Superstition Mountain.

Going to TargetThen, after breakfast, we got into the van and went for a ride through Mesa. We ended up at the Target across from Superstition Springs Mall. And when the Target didn’t have any crazy sales we headed across the street to the mall. Max had a lot of fun riding the escalators and elevators with Tim and me.

Max and Opa on the Merry-go-roundBut the highlight for him was when we discovered the merry-go-round near the food court. Opa joined Max for a few loops on the zebra. Then we all got back into the van — if shopping has anything to do with exchanging cash for big bags of returnable outfits this visit was a total bust — and headed back for home. We stopped at the Jack-in-the-Box fast-food restaurant in Gold Canyon and brought the burgers to our house for lunch.

Max went for his nap and I took the van to the gas station for a fill-up — the fuel warning said I had 1km to go on my tank! — and filled my tank with just-under $2.00 gas. Sue did laundry and Alex read. Tim was using the hair dryer to defrost our outdoor A/C which had a layer of white frost all around it. After a call to the A/C repair guy I found out the A/C is a combination air conditioner and heat pump — so what we were experiencing was normal for these conditions. Okay, that’s a relief. Got an email from Dave D — they’ll be arriving in G.C. tonight.

When Max woke up (happy, as usual) from his nap, he and I went out for a ‘bike’ (Strider) ride.

We ended up at the Vista Point hill again, so we parked the bike and climbed to the top. The sun was out, but it was still very cold. Max didn’t seem to be too bothered by the temperature though — he managed to find a pool of ice-cold water in one of the big rocks at the top of the hill and had his fingers in there, fishing out little stones and branches. Nose running a bit, but no complaints.

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We got home for happy hour, soon followed by Sue’s supper. And then we sat around and were entertained by Max for an hour or so before he had his bath and was ready for bed. I read him the Three Bears, got a big hug, tucked him in, and turned out the lights on his smiling face. One more day with my little buddy and then he and his parents head back into the frozen north.

We watched a bit of TV and had a little dessert and then wandered off to bed too.