NBA game in Phoenix

Thursday: Moving day for the Driedgers and Neufelds. Dave took two loads in his car to Tom Sung’s apartment (on Idaho Road). At around 4pm we left for Phoenix.

Neufelds, Driedgers, and Nikkels at a pre-game dinnerDave had ordered us NBA tickets on We parked not too far from the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix and headed to the place where we had agreed to meet. The restaurant we had picked was closed but our friends were there waiting to meet us. We decided to go to another restaurant (Majerlys) just down the street.

Rudy with banners at the Suns' game Watching the Phoenix Suns game Watching the Suns play

After dinner we went to see our NBA game – the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Phoenix Suns. It was an entertaining game even though the Suns lost. Steve Nash played well and was the top point-getter.

A big waning moon guided us back to our home near the Superstition Mountains.

More golf lessons

Friday: Rudy went for a golf clinic (driver) in the morning at Mountain Brook (presented by two young golf pros) – and came back feeling positive about what he learned. Kaaren and MaryLou arrived at our house around 4pm. The boys were golfing 9 holes at Mountain Brook.

Sue and Rudy at Wine Canyon Sunset on the Gold Canyon Golf Course Wine-tasting on the Wine Canyon patio Rudy roars at a good one.

We all met at Wine Canyon for wine tasting and appetizers and great sunset views of the Gold Canyon Golf Course. We picked up a couple of pizzas at the Firehouse Bar & Grill and all had supper together at our house. After supper we watched ‘The Debt’, a movie that Ken and Kaaren had seen before and recommended – but Rudy and Sue both slept through parts of the movie.

Tebow tanks

Saturday: Rudy and Sue re-watched the movie from last night (The Debt) – and were glad they did. It was a very good movie. We walked to Walgreen’s to return the DVD before having a late lunch back at our house. We watched NFL playoffs – first the Forty-niners beat the Saints, then the Patriots walloped Tim Tebow and the Broncos. Sue and Alex talked on the phone quite a while. We had leftover chicken for supper.

Giants Win! Giants Win! Giants Win!

Sunday: The usual routine today. Fareed and Reliable Sources on CNN, French toast with Sue, NFL Countdown, sit and watch football.

Game one today, the Ravens just barely eked out a win over the Houston Texans. Then Game two.

Eli Manning beats the PackersWow! From the start the Giants looked like they were in the game. Taking it to the Packers. Eli was able to move the team up and down the field. Even when the refs blew a crucial call, the Giants were not to be deterred. Aaron Rodgers looked terrible — and when he did throw a good pass his receivers couldn’t catch the ball. It ended with the Giants winning 37-20 in Lambeau Field. Shocking!

Next Sunday New York will be in San Francisco, winner to go to the Super Bowl. It’s too bad I’ll miss the latter part of the game because I’ll be at the airport picking up the Hildebrands.

Supper was leftover chicken (again!). Weather was coolish, with a few drops of rain overnight. Tomorrow the Driedgers and Neufelds are off to Sedona for a couple of nights. Sue invited them here for supper on Thursday night. Tomorrow Al and Shirl are here in the afternoon — golf and supper.

We watched the Golden Globes in the evening — lots of beautiful people and it looks like there are a whole lot of great movies we still have to watch.

Al & Shirl Visit Gold Canyon

Monday: After making a few ‘business’ phone calls Sue and I went for our morning hike up Silly Mountain. We walked quickly and managed to find a ‘new’ trail with great views of Superstition Mountain (under a dark cloudy sky — remnants of the weekend’s cool rainy weather). We were back home for lunch (and a load of laundry) by noon. After lunch Sue went to Bashas to buy supplies for tonight’s dinner.

I was sitting at my computer when Sue walks in with Al (Sue’s brother) and Shirl. They are staying in a trailer in Chandler. We had booked a 3pm tee time at Mountain Brook, so after a short bit of looking around our place we were off for 9 holes of golf.

Al-and-Shirl-golfingThe weather once again cooperated — it turned out to be a perfect afternoon for golf. By the ninth hole the sun was setting and doing its best to paint the shadows on Superstition Mountain.

We barbecued steak for supper. Sat around the table and visited. Had frozen yoghurt for dessert. By around 9pm Al and Shirl left. We arranged that we would take a drive out to their place in Chandler later this week. A bit of TV and then to bed.

(Another) Very Good Day

Tuesday: What a great day! Made a couple of phone calls this morning and then read my book again — which I hadn’t done for quite a few days. We had a late lunch. Sue went to Bashas to pick up some groceries. Then we high-tailed it out to Mountain Brook for our 3pm tee time. We hit a bucket of balls on the driving range before the round. Our games were okay — not as good as we thought we could have golfed, but the sky was clear, the sun was shining, and we were having fun.

After golf we went to Walgreen’s to pick up our movie rental. Then another stop at Bashas for beer and hotdog buns. I burned the burgers on the barbecue a bit, but that was probably the only disappointment of the day. After supper we sat down to watch our DVD — a pretty good movie called “The Ides of March”. After the movie we watched Frontline on PBS. All in all, a very good day.

Visit with Al & Shirl in Chandler

Wednesday: A bit of reading this morning — still reading my Osama book which I find very interesting. After lunch we hopped on our bikes and returned our rental to Walgreen’s. Also took a spin through Mountain Brook (hoping to see Eric and Joyce?) on our way home. I did my best on the downhill but only managed 62.1 kph — 1 kph less than my record.

After showering, at around 4pm, we headed out in the van. We were supposed to be at Al & Shirl’s mobile home at around 4:30, but our ‘pit stop’ at the Wine Store in Santan Village took more time (and money) than we had planned on. Still, it was a good stop.

Shirley was sitting in a lawn chair on the driveway, reading, when we pulled into the trailer park. After a short tour of the trailer (where it appears they have put in some serious time cleaning and fixing things up), Shirley suggested that we go back to Santan to a Mexican restaurant for supper. Which we did. And there I stood outside and waited for them to show up. Which they didn’t. And Sue was none too happy about me ‘taking off’ on them. But they knew the address, and the direction, and they programmed it into their GPS.

Finally Sue asked to use the restaurant phone and phoned Al. They were lost. Just around the block. (Well, actually, as it turned out, they had missed the turn-off and had done a 12 mile loop along the 202 freeway first!) Okay, I’ll stand out here a bit longer and flag them down while Sue sits in a booth inside the restaurant and warms up. My shorts and sandals are NOT the right gear for this. And they don’t come driving by. For a long time. Sue finally calls Al again. Where are they? In front of such-and-such a restaurant. Hey, that’s 50 yards from where we are! I go back out to wave them in. They park the van. They were lost. Oh well, now they’re here. Let’s celebrate.

We had a nice meal. Then we visited. Then we started talking about whether or not Al should buy that trailer. And Sue and I basically said what we thought — which was exactly what we had decided we would NOT say. And Rudy thinks that Al will probably still buy it, and Sue thinks that Al will probably NOT buy it. We’ll see. Anyway, after all that, we still had a good visit. We’ll likely see them one more time before they head back home.

Back home we stopped at Bashas (what else is new?) for some more groceries before unloading our purchases and restocking our fridge. Then a glass of wine and some late night TV. And that’s the kind of day it’s been.

Farewell to the Neufelds

Thursday: I woke up early today — like around 5 a.m. I spent a bit of time at the computer. After breakfast I read my Osama book — and continued to read that throughout the day. At around 11 Sue and I went for a decent hike around Silly Mountain.

After lunch Sue called Ken Neufeld on his cell phone — and found out that our friends are going golfing (18 holes) after lunch. We tried to book our own tee time but were surprised to find that nothing before 3:50 was available. That’s too late for us — we are hosting a dinner party tonight and need to be home for them by around 5:30. So we decided to forego golfing today. We both read for most of the early afternoon. Then, at around 3:30, we went to the golf course and hit a couple of buckets of balls. Didn’t really settle anything.

We came home and I showered while Sue started supper. And soon enough, our friends showed up. We sat around and visited; then I barbecued, then we had supper around the table. It all turned out pretty good. The food and the conversations were both great.

Our friends , the Newfelds and the Driedgers, seem to have had a good expeience here. Tomorrow the Driedgers will take Ken and Kaaren to the airport and bid them farewell. And then on Sunday we will take the Driedgers to the airport for their trip to Hawaii.

We watched a bit of ‘news’ (Republican Presidential debates) before going to bed.

Weekend Ahead

Friday: I was going to read this morning — but that was before I got Skyping with Mary Ann Loewen who is in Bolivia. The Loewens have two new MacBooks and need a bit of help setting things up. After at least an hour on Skype I still had a couple of minutes to read before our 11 o’clock bike ride.

Went to Walgreen’s and picked up a DVD rental (Super 8). When we got home we had lunch and then I really did read for nearly 2 hours. Finished my “Looming Towers” book.

At 3:30 we teed off at Mountain Brook. The warm sunny day had brought out more golfers than usual. That meant the golfing was s-l-o-w. I started off very well, parring hole number 1 and 4. But after hole number 5 I packed it in — Sue was especially frustrated with the group ahead of us and thought she’d ‘encourage’ them by pressuring them on the tee blocks. I walked back to the clubhouse and got a small bucket of balls. Best move of the week! After scattering half the bucket all over the driving range with my #1 driver, I put it back into the bag and worked on my fairway wood. And I shot farther and straighter than ever before. Dave and MaryLou also golfed nine and stopped by on their way off the course. When Sue arrived we hopped into the van and headed to the Firehouse Pub to order a pizza.

At the Firehouse we again met Dave and MaryLou — so we had a beer with them while we waited for our pizza. Back home we had supper and then sat down to watch the Daily Show and Colbert Report. At 8pm we watched our movie — science fiction directed by Stephen Spielberg. Boring! After 10 Sue played a bit of Scrabble on her iPad while I updated my journal.

Championship Weekend

Saturday: Since I forgot to update yesterday’s events this will be an entry for  the weekend.

Yesterday (Saturday) we had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Then Dave D came over to ‘do some business’. Sue was cleaning up for the weekend — Ed & Jessie are coming for the week tomorrow. We went to the fruit market before lunch. Another big shop for lots of fruit for not too much money. We also went to Fry’s for groceries. Got home after 1pm and had lunch. At 3pm Dave stopped by to pick me up for 3pm golf. MaryLou came by and worked on her Carillon article and blog post while Sue baked monster cookies. Dave and I had a nice nine holes, although my great idea of using my 3 wood instead of my driver didn’t work out as well as I had hoped.

For supper we barbecued burgers. Then we got into Dave’s car and went to see a movie at 7:30 — “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” — a pretty good movie, although not 5 stars. The Driedgers dropped us off and we went to bed not long after we got home.

Sunday: After breakfast and watching Fareed, Dave and MaryLou were at our place by 9am. We took them to the airport for their flight to Honolulu. We got back about 90 minutes after leaving — a quick roundtrip. Then we settled in to watch the NFL League Championship games.

Game 1, Ravens in New England. Game went quite well — an exciting game that the Ravens could have (and should have) won — except that their receiver dropped a touchdown pass in the final minute, and then the field goal kicker missed the opportunity to tie the game by kicking it wide. So the Pats won 23-20.

Game 2, Giants at San Francisco. Another great game. We watched the first have (and had a little snack. The half ended with the Giants ahead 10-7. Then we got into the van and headed to the Sky Harbor Airport to pick up Ed and Jessie Hildebrand. We listened to the game on the radio while we waited in the ‘cell phone waiting’ lot for the Westjet flight to arrive. When they arrived Sue met them and we got their bags into the van and hurried home. Luckily the game ended in a tie — and we were back home in the house in time to watch the overtime period. The Giants won with a field goal after the ’49ers fumbled a kick return.

After the game we sat down for a late supper — kind of a ‘faspa’ that Sue had prepared for us. A bit of visiting and we were all in bed by 11pm.

A Day with the Hildebrands

Monday: After morning breakfast (toast) and a couple of hands of bridge, Ed and Jessie and Sue and I went out for a hike. We hiked up Silly Mountain behind our house; we hiked to the top of the front 2 peaks and then circled back along the Superstition View trail. It was time for lunch by the time we got back. The weather was great: not hot, a bit cloudy, just right for outdoor activities.

Ed & Jessie at Mountain Brook GolfAfter lunch we hung around at our house for a bit — Ed had a little nap outside and I had a shower and Sue read. Then we headed out to Mountain Brook for nine holes of golf a little after 3pm. Again, despite the forecast for afternoon showers, the weather turned out perfect for golf. Cloudy, not too hot, no golfers to slow us down or hurry us up. And although Sue had a poor game, the rest of us had a wonderful time. We finished our round at around 5:30. Ed completed 9 holes at 1 over par (36), Jessie scored 5 over par (40). I’m not sure what my score was, but for once, my fairway wood performed well — most of my tee shots were longer and straighter than I’ve shot so far. Now if only my putting were a little better.

We drove around our loop before going home, and still got to see a rose-coloured sunset reflected on Superstition Mountain. Wonderful!

Sue made spaghetti and meat sauce for supper. And after a few more hands of bridge she made banana flambé for dessert. A little more bridge. At 10:30, after watching a bit of tennis (Australian Open) we headed to bed.

Golfing with Ed & Ed

Tuesday: Breakfast, followed by a couple of bike rides: first Ed and Rudy went around the loop while Sue and Jessie shopped groceries. Then the girls took the bikes while the boys sat and read. Lunch at 12. A bit more reading. Our Amazon order (a digital photo frame) arrive so I ‘borrowed’ the memory card from my camera and loaded it up with our travel photos — and boxed it all up again, ready to be delivered to Sue’s mom.

I had emailed Ed & Val and invited them to join us for our golf game. At 3:15 we picked up Ed Peters and went to Mountain Brook for nine holes. My drives were not as good as they were yesterday, but in the end my score was a bit better! I shot 48, Ed Peters shot a 46, and Ed H won with a 42 (not quite the 36 he scored yesterday). But the sun was shining, the temperature was about 68, and we had fun.

I barbecued the salmon for supper — which was delicious! Then we cleared off the table and played bridge until 10:30. We’ve arranged to go hiking to the hieroglyphics tomorrow morning at 10 (Ed & Val will join us) and then drive to Gilbert for an afternoon golf game and maybe a drink with Al & Shirl (they’re heading for home on Thursday — and will take our photo frame home for us).

Hieroglyphic Hike and afternoon golf

Wednesday: After breakfast we got in the van and drove out to the parking lot for the hike up Superstition Mountain. We were going to go with Ed & Val as well, but Ed phoned and said Val was really not feeling well at all, so they would not be doing the hike. So it was the Hildebrands and Nikkels — well, actually it was a LOT more people than the four of us. It was probably one of the nicest days we’ve had here in Gold Canyon this winter, and quite a few other people thought it might be a good day for a hike. Still, the hike was worth it — we took some photos of Ed and Jessie up at the petroglyphs. We got back to the house at around 12:30. Just in time for another terrific lunch!

Then in the afternoon we went to Greenfield Lakes Golf Course, near Santan Village Shopping Center. We’d arranged to meet Al and Shirl there at 5pm to hand off our gift (a digital photo frame with our photos) for Sue’s mom (she’s turning 88 tomorrow). Al and Shirl are leaving tomorrow, driving back to Manitoba. We actually met them on the parking lot of the golf course — and they teed off just a few minutes after our foursome. The golf course is an ‘executive’ course — mostly par threes — and it was very busy this afternoon. We spent more time waiting than golfing. But the weather was great and we had a pretty good time, even though I at least didn’t really golf very well.

We had a beer at around 5pm, said goodbye to Al and Shirl, and then headed back to our house. We had (another) great supper — barbecued chicken breasts and potatoes and salad. A small ice cream for dessert. Watched some more tennis (Australian Open) while we played bridge. Today the girls won most of the hands (and the tennis matches too — the men’s finals are later tonight, at around 2am!). Tomorrow we’ve scheduled a ‘free day’.

Tortilla Flats & Bridge

Thursday: This morning, after breakfast, I tried to book tee times but ended up canceling everything. So no golf today. Instead, it was to be a reading day. Ed and Jessie watched the Australian Open Tennis semi-finals replayed on TV. Then I showed Ed upload photos to his blog. Then, after lunch, we decided to go for a ride. We headed out to Tortilla Flats for an ice cream. We got back to our house by about 5pm. The four of us went for a walk along the back nine holes of Mountain Brook, ending up at Bashas. We bought shrimp for our supper. Met Ed and Val shopping there too.

Sue and Jessie made shrimp stir-fry for supper and then we played bridge till bedtime. Tomorrow we’re going to try booking 18 holes of golf.

18 Holes at Mountain Brook

Friday: This morning Sue and I went for a quick bike ride to Walgreen’s and back while Ed and Jessie went for a hike up Silly Mountain. Showered and had lunch. Not a lot of time until our 1:45pm tee time. It was a busy day at Mountain Brook but the group ahead of us moved along at a steady pace and the group behind stayed well behind and didn’t give us any pressure. The warm sunny day never materialized. But the day was fantastic. Our golf was a lot of fun. We just barely managed to finish the 18th hole before 6pm — and it was getting quite dark. But we finished!

On the way home we stopped at Basha’s and Ed bought some steaks for supper. Sue got an appetizer going and prepared the steaks. I barbecued. Supper was great. We’d had a phone call from Ed and Val, and they dropped by just as we were finishing our meal. We had a nice visit. Val had a terrible cold and was not feeling all that great. They’re picking up the Foxes tomorrow and we’re taking the Hildebrands to another house in Phoenix then too. After Ed and Val left we dealt the cards and played one last rubber of bridge. Lost to the girls. Then off to bed.

Farewell to the Hildebrands

Saturday: Our final breakfast with Ed and Jess was bacon and eggs. Then they packed their things and loaded up the van. By noon we were off. First stop: the big Mesa Marketplace Swap Meet. Today was the warmest and sunniest day so far, and the marketplace was packed. Ed and I wandered around the outside aisles and Sue and Jess did their own thing. We’d agreed to meet at the center food court for hotdogs and beer, but it was too noisy and crowded and when we finally met there at 1pm we decided to go somewhere else for lunch. We ended up driving to the Apache Junction Fruit Market first. We loaded up with fresh fruits and vegetables (the Hildebrands were buying supplies for their next week) and then headed all the way to Gilbert for another shopping stop at Trader Joe’s. But first, a quick stop at the Peter Piper Pizza Parlour, a ‘Chuck-E-Cheese’-style restaurant, for lunch.

After Trader Joe’s we drove along Baseline Road all the way past Tempe out to just north of South Mountain, where Ed and Jess are staying for another week, sharing a rented house together with 3 other couples. We made one final shopping stop at a nearby Fry’s grocery store. It was about 4:30 by the time we got to the Legacy Golf Resort where the Hildebrand’s house was. We unloaded their groceries and luggage. The home was very nice; 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a great view of the 16th fairway and the South Mountains. We had planned to go for a hike in those mountains, but it was quite warm and probably getting a bit too late for that. We were just having a drink on the patio when one of the other couples who were staying at the house arrived. They joined us for a drink and then left to go out for supper. Ed ordered Chinese food for us. We picked it up and had a last supper together at the house. Then we said our goodbyes and headed back to our place — a 50-minute drive. It had been a very fine week spent together with the Hildebrands; but it was also good to have our house back to ourselves. We poured a glass of wine and watched some crappy TV. By 10pm we were tired and went to bed.

Dramatic Conclusions

Sunday: Woke up at around 4 this morning, and finally got out of bed at around 5. Turned on ESPN and lucked into the final 2 sets of the Australian Open Men’s Tennis Final. Ultimately Djokovic beat Nadal in five sets to win his fifth Grand Slam title. It was the longest Grand Slam singles final in the history of professional tennis, lasting nearly 6 hours. It was over at exactly 8:00am our time, just in time to watch Fareed on CNN!

After watching our CNN morning news shows we had French toast with strawberries and blueberries for breakfast. After breakfast we went for a walk to Walgreen’s to pick up a movie. We stopped at Bashas on the way home to pick up sandwich meat for our lunch when we got home. We skyped with Tim and Alex and then Sue sat outside and read (finishing her book) while I sat inside with a book on my lap, “watching” golf. Actually we had tried to book tee times at Mountain Brook today, but they were hosting a tournament and so we couldn’t get on (we booked for tomorrow). I woke up from my nap just in time to watch Kyle Stanley make a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole to wipe out what once was a seven-shot lead and then lose a playoff to Brandt Snedeker! The second dramatic sports program today!

After supper (leftovers) we watched 60 minutes and then the movie “The Help”, our DVD rental. Another film to check off our “Oscars” list. We had a bit of chocolate and a cup of coffee as we watched the CBC “At Issue” program on the computer. Sue went to bed while I updated my journal and watched a movie on TV.

Better than 50/50

Monday: Title reference to the movie we watched tonight, which was better than its title suggested. So was this Monday.

Breakfast, followed by our annual “Nikkel State of the Finances” update. Got out the old spreadsheets, looked up our credit union accounts, and tried to get a picture of our ‘net worth’. Well, it’s a whole lot less complicated than it used to be! At least on the ‘income’ side. Still, all-in-all, we’re doing okay — the secret is to spend less than you ‘earn’ and to be content.

A hard-core hike up and around Silly Mountain followed. Good work-out followed by (another) great lunch (sandwiches, what else?)

We had an email from Ed Peters asking if he could join us for our 9 holes of golf. So Ed and Mark Fox joined us at Mountain Brook at 3:15 — Mark walked the course while the rest of us blasted balls in various directions. Lovely warm day; not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Drinks at Ed’s after the game — Val is still feeling crappy but now has new medication and is hoping to salvage the last few days of her 2-week ‘vacation’ in Gold Canyon. We talked about maybe hiking up to the hieroglyphics on Friday.

After chicken enchiladas for supper (YUM!) I Skyped a bit with Tim (a little tutorial on Illustrator) and watched the rerun of Colbert Report before popping in tonight’s DVD: 50/50. Started out as a nice little movie, but I did not see then end of it. I’ll watch the parts I slept through tomorrow morning before breakfast.

Oscar Count-down

Tuesday: Read a bit after breakfast, and then went for a bike ride at 11. Went to Walgreens to return our DVD (50/50) and pick up my next one (Contagion). Home for lunch. After a quick shower we hopped into our van and headed into Mesa. First stop: a golf shop where I got my old hybrid utility club regripped. Then we went to a shoe store and Sue bought some new running shoes. Then Target for some cosmetics (while Rudy enjoyed popcorn and Coke). Then at 3:20 we were in the big Harkins 25 Theatre, sitting there with our 3D glasses, watching Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo”. Not bad, not great, but it’s got 11 nominations for the Academy Awards at the end of February and we have to work our way through about 10 must-see movies before then. We were back home just as the sun was painting Superstition Mountain pink. Supper was a great salad and leftover enchiladas. Then Daily Show and Colbert reruns. Skyped with Alex re haircut (bangs). Watched our “Contagion” video — so-so. A bit of schlocky news channel bla-bla-bla about the Florida Republican Primary. Late night TV and to bed. Whew!

Haircuts and Golf

Wednesday: Read my “Art of Fielding” book in the morning. Sue went to Basha’s after breakfast to take advantage of the monthly (first Wednesday of the month) seniors’ sale day. She came home just in time for an early lunch. At 12 she had a haircut appointment. Meanwhile, I sat down in the garage and cleaned all our clubs and sorted out our hodgepodge of golf balls. When Sue came back from her haircut it was time for my own haircut (by my favourite hairdresser — Sue).

Sue tees off at hole #16By 3:00pm we were off to Mountain Brook for our 3:20 tee time. We had thought we’d hit a bucket of balls first, but when we got there they said we were up next. First hole: bogies for both of us. Not bad. Second hole: same. Third hole: the foursome ahead of us let us play through (so we immediately shanked our shots and piddled our way down the fairway). But after that? Clear sailing. I think I parred hole #4, and birdied hole #5! And there was no one ahead of us for the rest of our game. In fact, after finishing #9 we decided to run across the road and see how far we could get on the second nine. And we both shot well on hole number 10. At some point the guy comes around and starts collecting the flags, but we pretty much played 8 of the back 9 holes. The weather was great. The sky was pink. We holed out number 18 just after 6pm and still had enough daylight to see what we were doing.

We drove by Walgreen’s on our way home and returned last night’s movie and picked up tonight’s: Drive, starring Ryan Gosling. Once home we started up the barbecue and had cheeseburgers and corn-on-the-cob and fruit salad for supper. Watched our Daily and Colbert reruns at 7 and then settled in for our movie at 8pm. Another perfect day in paradise!

Hiking to the Hieroglyphics and Afternoon Matinees

Ed & Val, Rudy & Sue, Shirl & MarkThursday: Ed and Val and the Foxes picked us up at 10 and we headed out to the parking lot. Took a group photo and then off we were.
The day was just right; not too cold, not too hot. Once we got up there we took a couple more photos, including another ‘timer’ special where I didn’t quite make it up to the group in time for the camera ‘click’.
After lunch at home Sue and I hurried off to the IMAX cinema on Signal Butte — and watched two more ‘oscar-nominated’ films: first, “War Horse”, a 2.5 hour WWI movie which we thought was ‘okay’, not ‘great’; second: “The Descendants”, starring George Clooney, a movie we both really liked.
Almost a group photo Filled up with gas on the way home. Got home at around 7pm, Sue quickly made a salad and we had spaghetti with meat sauce for supper. Then I called Ed and invited him and Val over for coffee. I watched the overtime win by the Jets and then Ed and Val were here. We got the latest updates from them, had a nice visit. Ed borrowed our van for going golfing tomorrow. We won’t be needing it because we are getting up early to pick up Dave and MaryLou from the Sky Harbor Airport.

If it’s Friday it must be pizza night

Friday: Started out as a not-so-good day but it sure picked up as it went along. I woke up at around 7, had breakfast, and tried to track Dave and MaryLou’s flight from Honolulu to the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Looked like they might be here early, but that didn’t stop us from farting around all morning and leaving later than we probably should have. The guy  across the street from our house was standing at the end of his driveway, shivering in the morning cold, golf bag at his side, waiting to be picked up by someone. Asks me where I’m off to. The airport. Traffic will be terrible because of the Phoenix Open up in Scottsdale. I’ll be late for sure. We drive Dave’s car to the airport, no GPS, and when I get there I’m there just in time — Dave and MaryLou are there with their luggage, waiting. We discuss whether or not to go to north Scottsdale to watch the Phoenix Open — MaryLou is not really interested but will go if I say so. I know Sue doesn’t really care to. I defer and we decide to go back to our house, have a second breakfast, lie around, do laundry, wait for our 3:00pm tee time at Mountain Brook.

We have lunch at 1 because we had that late breakfast. I’m tired, think I need a nap, maybe I should read that book that’s barely half read, but in the end I watch some Phoenix Open on the Golf Channel (hey, I didn’t know we got that channel!) and then when 3:00pm rolls around we have to hurry to get to the golf course. Ed Peters still has our van (went to Camelback to golf) so we all pile into Dave’s car (okay, here it is, it has a stone chip on the windshield from our trip to the airport this morning) and unload our clubs at the course and it’s time to go tee off and we do that and my shot is okay, second shot even better, and I friggin birdie the first hole! Well, it’s one step forward, two steps back; but overall, I’m playing pretty good and sure am having fun. At the ninth hole up walks Ed Peters, delivering our van to us (it’s on the parking lot).

After golf the girls go home and Dave and I go to pick up pizzas at the Firehouse Bar & Grill. We watch the finish of Day 2 at the Phoenix Open on the TV there while we wait. Bring home two slightly burnt pizzas. Have supper. Then, just as we are finishing watching the Daily Show and Colbert Report reruns, the doorbell rings and it’s Ed and Val and Shirl and Mark come for a visit. We all stand around and drink wine and talk loudly. Some of us laugh from time to time. Not too much. Good times. Just like old times. Review the highlights of the day — some of us were golfing here, some were golfing fancier courses, some were shopping, some were reading. Some were doing a good job of holding off the effects of jet lag.

By 10 the company has left. We sit at our respective computing devices and ‘do some Facebook’. Okay, probably not Facebook. MaryLou’s computer dies. But it recovers, so that’s good news. A little talk about the benefits of backing up. Okay, now it’s time to go to bed. It’s after 10:30pm, a respectable hour to go to bed. Finally. I was getting tired of ‘hanging in there’.

Yep, another perfect day in paradise. Welcome home, Dave and MaryLou.

Golf, Golf, and more Golf

Saturday: Woke up and Sue made bacon and eggs for us and the Driedgers. We watched a bit more of the Phoenix Open this morning. It was exciting to see the thousands of fans cheering on the golfers at the sixteenth hole. Sue and MaryLou went shopping for supplies for tonight’s barbecue with Dave’s brother and sister-in-law.

After lunch the other Driedgers arrived from their place in Scottsdale. Paul and Shirley Driedger live in Leamington. They’re here in Phoenix for a few weeks and Dave and MaryLou plan to spend some time with them later this month. We sat around for a while and then the Driedger foursome was off to Mountain Brook for an afternoon of golf. Sue talked to Alex on the phone for a bit until it was time for us to also head off to the golf course. Hit a small bucket of balls before going for nine holes. We finished at around 5:15 and went home to prepare supper for the visitors. The Phoenix Open third day was done so no more golf on TV tonight.

The Driedgers stopped to do a bit of shopping before coming here after their 18 holes of golf. The sun was setting. It was Saturday Night!

We had crackers and cheese and drinks and visited for a while. I barbecued and Sue and MaryLou got potatoes and salad ready. Then we sat around the dinner table and sang the Doxology. Supper was good. Visit was good too. We drank about half the half case of wine that Dave bought at Bashas. At around 10:30 Paul and Shirley said goodbye and left for their place in Scottsdale. We cleaned up the table and watched a bit of Saturday Night Live before crashing for the night.


Giants win the Super Bowl

Giants Win the Super Bowl


Kyle Stanley wins the Phoenix OpenBefore turning our full attention to the Super Bowl we watched the final day of the Phoenix Open where Kyle Stanley, who last week blew a seemingly sure victory at Torrey Pines, came from eight shots back to overtake a stumbling Spencer Levin and win.

The Good Ole Hockey Game

Detroit visits PhoenixMonday: Went for a hike up Silly Mountain today — with Sue and Dave — MaryLou opted for a v-e-r-y  l-o-n-g bike ride instead. We got home after nearly 2 hours of hiking and had lunch. Showered and got ready for the trip to Glendale. At around 4pm Dave and I left for the hockey game, which started at 6pm. Along the way we stopped at a golf store and Dave got a couple of his clubs re-gripped. I thought we had lots of time but we actually only got to the arena just before 6pm. And we didn’t have tickets to the game. Fans at the hockey gameLuckily there were lots of ticket sellers near the parking lot. We strolled along and negotiated a couple of ‘cheap’ seats for $25 apiece. But we still hadn’t had supper! So we after we got our tickets we sat down in one of the many restaurants in the ‘Westgate’ complex outside the arena and had a big platter of cheeseburgers and onion rings and a couple of beers. The first period was nearly over by the time we got to our seats. The arena wasn’t sold out, but we were surprised that about half the fans were cheering for Detroit — wearing Detroit gear and cheering loudly when the Red Wings scored their (only) goal! It was a pretty good game — the Coyotes outplayed the Red Wings and deserved their victory. We were out by quarter to nine and home by 9:30. The girls had watched “Jane Eyre” and were sitting at the table visiting. We watched a bit of shlocky TV and then one-by-one headed off to bed.

Empty Nesters

Tuesday: Said goodbye to our friends Dave and MaryLou today. They were busy packing and planning their next adventure this morning. They didn’t even stay for lunch (missed another great sandwich!) because they were going to visit some other friends. I watched the “Jane Eyre” movie that the girls watched last night while we were at the hockey game. Sue sat outside and read. After the Driedgers left we sat around and twiddled our thumbs for a bit. Felt a bit lost. What next? What should we do? We frittered away enough time so that we couldn’t even go see a movie. Finally Tim Skyped me and asked for a bit of help with a logo — and once again I had purpose in life! At four o’clock Sue commanded that we go for a bike ride, so we returned the DVD to Walgreen’s and picked up a new release for tonight. The best thing about the bike ride was that I finally broke my speed record. 65kphThe weather was a bit cool, but really not cool enough to NOT go golfing — but we didn’t. When we got home Sue started supper (leftovers AGAIN!) and I showered. After supper we watched our shows before putting our movie on at 8pm. “Anonymous” is nominated for Best Costume at the Oscars. Story about who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Sue said she didn’t get any of it. I found it interesting if not great. A bit of David Letterman and then off to bed. Goodnight, Dave and MaryLou, wherever you are.

Rained all day (not!)

Wednesday: Doddled around all morning again. The forecast for today was for rain, so we did NOT book any golf. We haven’t golfed since last Saturday. But the day turned out to be just like every other day here in Arizona — beautiful!

Finally, at around 11, we went for a brisk walk to Walgreen’s to return our DVD. Hurried back for lunch, we both showered, and then we hopped into our van and headed out to the Harkins Theatre on Power Road for our first (1:00pm) movie: The Artist, a black and white silent film which is nominated for 10 Academy Awards. The theatre was surprisingly full. The movie was pretty good. At one point I was nodding off and Sue pulled out the pack of red licorice that we’d bought at Walgreen’s in the morning — and that help to keep me awake. At the end of the movie we just about ran down the hall to Theatre #2 to catch the next film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Again, the theatre was packed and we had to sit in the seats in the front section, craning our necks to see the big screen. The movie was good — we’d seen the 3 Swedish versions on DVD last spring and this version was probably better than that. We got out of the cinema at around 5:30 and headed back towards Gold Canyon. Sue had a little grocery list — mostly paper towel and kleenex and stuff like that — so we stopped at Walmart on Signal Butte and picked those things up.

It was 6:30 by the time we were heading east on Highway 60 looking at Superstition Mountain — and it was still not totally dark! Quite a change from just 4 weeks ago. At home we called Paul and Kathy, and then barbecued cheeseburgers (actually bacon burgers) for supper. Watched a bit of TV. Then we watched a couple of Oscar-nominated documentaries (downloaded on my computer) before watching late-night TV and going to bed.

Back on (the) course

Thursday: Sue and I read our books this morning. When I called the golf course to book a tee time I learned that the first available after 3 o’clock was at 4:10pm — and considering that yesterday the sun was only setting at around 6:30 I took the late tee time. I called Koop and we talked a bit about his trip to the Super Bowl. After lunch Sue decided to clean the windows in our house. I continued to read while she cleaned. When she finished we had a beer and then headed off to the golf course, just in case we could get on a bit early. Nope. So we ordered a small bucket of balls and spent a bit of the time on the driving range. We teed off at 4:10 and right away I had a par on the first hole! Sue did not — and by the third hole she’d announced that she absolutely hated the game of golf.

Two tee shots on the green
Rudy and Sue's tee shots on the green on hole number 7

Well, things improved from there on and by the time we finished hole number 9 not only was the sun still peaking over the horizon, but Sue’s disposition had improved considerably.

Sunset on Hole 9
Sunset on Hole 9

Another perfect afternoon in Arizona. We went home and Sue whipped up a most delicious supper: curried chicken over rice-a-roni and a salad on the side. Yum. After supper we skyped quite a while with Werner (and then Karen) Pries and with Tim and Alex after that. Then we watched one of the Oscar-nominated documentaries, “If a Tree Falls”, which I had downloaded on the computer. We had fresh pineapple slices for ‘night snack’ and watched David Letterman before calling it a night. Can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.

Friday Night (and afternoon) Movies

Friday: I got up and watched the second half of the documentary “If a Tree Falls” (I’d fallen asleep last night while Sue watched it). Did a bit of computer work this morning. Then I went and sat outside and read my book, “The Art of Fielding”, which I’ve borrowed from Dave Driedger. It was quite warm today! After lunch I finished reading the book. We planned to go for a walk but it was a bit too warm during the day. So instead, we watched a second Oscar-nominated documentary, “Hell and Back Again”. Yesterday’s film made you think about ‘terrorists’ — and maybe even sympathize with the radical fringe. This afternoon’s movie was the story of a wounded soldier who returns from the war in Afghanistan — but left me feeling somewhat depressed about the war and American gun culture and the hopelessness of it all. After the movie we drove to the Firehouse Bar, parked our van, ordered a pizza for an hour later, and went for an hour-long walk around Mountain Brook. Temperature was still warm, sunset was magnificent. We stopped at Walgreen’s and rented the DVD “The Warrior”. Took our pizza back to our house. After supper we watched a bit of TV, then “The Warrior” (Nick Nolte is nominated for Best Supporting Actor), then a bit more TV with our night snack (pineapple with pomegranate).

Movie, golf, movie

Saturday: Bacon and eggs interrupted our morning movie, “A Separation”, a wonderful film from Iran nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Original Screenplay. It’s one of my downloaded movies and it has subtitles and there’s no way we could stay awake watching it at night, but it was an excellent way to spend a Saturday morning! Sue and I both really liked it. We headed into Apache Junction to the Fruit Market to restock our fruits and vegetables for another week. We always come away from that market with a van full of food and marvel at how much fresh food you can buy for $20-30.

In the afternoon I watched a bit of golf on TV and Sue sat outside and read. Then at around 3:30 I called the golf course and asked about our chances of walking nine holes — and was surprised to learn that it wasn’t busy and we could come on over. So we did.

rudy-tee-shotsue-tee-shotsunset-on-superstitionSue’s golf game was encouraging, mine a little less so. That’s the beauty of golfing with a partner: it’s never a complete write-off. And really, any afternoon walking the fairways at Mountain Brook with a beautiful red sunset reflecting on Superstition Mountain is pretty good. After we finished our nine holes Sue went to the putting green and I took a small bucket to the driving range. Time well spent.

We went home (Highway #60 is now plugged with traffic as the Renaissance Festival has started again — it will create a traffic jam on our road every weekend for the next 6 weeks!) and Sue presented a great supper (curried chicken leftovers). We watched a bit of TV and then put in our DVD rental, “Real Steel”, nominated for Best Visual Effects. Sue pronounced it one of the lamest movies we’ve watched — it was a silly movie about fighting robots.