Hot Deals, Hot Springs, Hot Mess

After an early lunch we got into our air-conditioned van and headed west on Hwy 10 to the Desert Hills Premium Outlet mall, about half an hour from our place. It was already stinking hot outside and the forecast was for even hotter. We parked the van. As Sue made her way from store to store I did my best to find a bench in the shade along the way and watch people. I’d say that if it wasn’t for tourists from China and Asia, sales wouldn’t be 10% of what they are here — nearly every group of Asian tourists were carrying multiple bags from some of the high-end stores here. And after about 90 minutes Sue also had a shopping bag to carry back to the van.

outlet-malls-1 outlet-malls-2

We stopped for an ice cream at McDonalds before heading back east to Desert Hot Springs. Along the way we again passed the valley of the windmills. Thousands of them.


golf-desert-dunes-1We’d booked a 3:00pm tee time at good old Desert Dunes — where twice before we’d been more or less blown around the course by the high winds. Although the winds were not a factor today, the 4:00pm temperature hit 97 degrees. And this is NOT an easy course. So once again, the first hole humbled us and more or less blew up any chance we had of finishing with a decent score. So let’s not mark that one. Let’s just have fun. Good idea, but even that didn’t last for long. By the seventh hole I was having a hard time keeping ‘Little Miss Grumpy’ from throwing her clubs into the desert. And although the thermometer read 97, it actually wasn’t too bad — lots of ice water to drink, shade in the golf cart, and a gentle breeze. golf-desert-dunes-2And because the game is called ‘golf’ there were several occasions when we had terrific shots, or chips, or putts. Usually not all three on one hole, but sort of scattered about. By 6:20 we had completed 18 holes and were back in the white bake-oven that is our van. Open the windows. Head out on the highway. Looking for adventure. And whatever comes our way. Next stop? A ‘restaurant’ that Sue said I should not name in my (public) journal. Let’s just say that it is a favorite of mine, and the name rhymes with ‘Back in the Jocks’. Ordered a bacon-double burger and one of those new ‘Hot Mess’ burgers. Hurried home.

Sue made a fruit salad — there, now this is a ‘healthy’ meal — and poured herself a glass of wine while I opened one of those nice german St Pauli Girl brews. Man, that’s good eatin’. After supper Sue called Arlene (in Phoenix). We watched some TV and listened to our hot water tank rumbling away in the garage until it was time to close up this day and start thinking about that first cup of fresh coffee that will usher in tomorrow.

Friday Night Out

I skyped with Alex and Max in the morning while Sue had her head reshaped and re-coloured. It took most of the morning too, and it was probably close to 2 o’clock by the time she got home and made lunch! Sue puttered around in the afternoon, finished her book, tried to get some sleep, while I worked over a logo for Oak Leaf. Sue hadn’t slept much last night so by the time it was happy hour, and after looking over the TV guide and finding NOTHING, she wasn’t feeling very ‘happy’ about anything. She’d gone to check out the new Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar across from the hairdressers in the morning and was told that by 6:30 there was a 1-hour line-up. But since we’d had such a late lunch it didn’t really make sense to go for an early supper. Should we order in from the Italian restaurant across the road? Yeah, but then what? Well, can’t you find a good movie to rent on Redbox? Hmmm, not really. Maybe we should go out for a movie? No, I don’t want to order in a pizza and then go out for a movie. I checked the movies and to my surprise (delight?) I see that the Palme d’Or is running a whole bunch of foreign films, documentaries, Oscar nominees! Yeah, but now I’ve feshpaelt everything with all my farting around and Sue is NOT a happy camper. Oh boy. Okay, let’s go down to El Paseo and see if we can’t get a pizza at the California Pizza Kitchen, and then still make it to the cinema for an 8 o’clock movie. Whatever! So that’s what we did. And lickety-split we’re parked and get a table. Even got to see some of the cruisers still parading up and down the street. What kind of pizza should we order? I’m trying be as nice as I can — how about the special here on the front of the menu? It’s essentially a caesar salad on a thin crust. And some avocado rolls as an appetizer. I’m cheerleading as hard as I can here, but the other team is not going to be won over tonight. We enjoyed our meal, slowly finished the glass of wine, and still made it to the theatre with half an hour to spare. We sat in the empty theatre, waiting for the Chilean film No to begin. Slowly a few other couples join us. It’s already five after eight and still no film. Sue is a bit concerned. Plus she’s cold. I give her my sweater. Finally the movie begins. It’s Spanish, with subtitles. It’s about the 1988 plebiscite on the rule of dictator Pinochet, so the film feels very 1980s. And the story is riveting. I think it’s fantastic, the perfect film to keep Sue awake. We’re out a little after 10. I miss a couple of turns on the way home which gives us some extra time to discuss the movie. Sue has missed it all! What was that about anyway? So did that happen after Pinochet or during his presidency? Oh boy. We get home, Sue turns on the TV, checks her email, and goes to bed. I turn off the TV, turn out the lights, go finish up my project on the computer. I’m tired too. Crazy, eh? You do nothing all day and you fall into bed as tired as if you’d been splitting firewood in the bush all day.

Lazy Saturday at home

Well, the title says it all. While I ate my bacon and eggs I noticed that the pool was just about full to overflowing! I called Teddy and he instructed me to turn the pool’s water tap off — he seemed to know what the problem was and presumably it’ll get repaired sometime soon. I Skyped with Koop for a while — he toured me around his office and kitchen renovations — and we talked about some web projects. After breakfast I cleaned the leaves out of the pool (apparently we had a big wind last night) and then spent most of the rest of the day on my iMac, trying to work through some SASS tutorials. Sue did some laundry and sat outside and read her new book. At one point in the afternoon Tim Snider skyped — so we got to meet Martina, who is 3 months old. Later we skyped with our kids — Max was looking as fine as ever, despite his cold. I was about to go light the barbecue when I noticed a missed Skype call from Ed Peters — so I called him back and we visited for a bit. steak-dinner-2 steak-dinner-1Then it was time to get supper going. Sue had trimmed the steaks and made rice and an avocado salad — so our supper was fantastic (as usual). We spent the evening watching some old reruns of Dateline and Restaurant Impossible. It’s been hot here now for 4 days in a row, but the temperature in our house stays comfortable — although today we had most of the ceiling fans going.

A recession on the course

Woke up in time to watch our Sunday morning news shows. Lots of leaves in the swimming pool so I cleaned that up. French toast for breakfast. Worked on the computer until it was time for lunch. In the afternoon we went to Rancho Mirage for our 2 o’clock tee time. I got myself dressed up in green for St Paddy’s Day, hoping for a bit of good luck too. The day was perfect for golf, but the course was as unbusy as we’ve ever seen it — I guess the tennis finals have their share of fans today. rudy-golf-mirage-1 sue-golf-mirage-1The thing about our golf game is that, just like the stock market, it goes in cycles. And right now that cycle is in the 2008 phase. But you know what they say: you have to stay in it and believe that over the long haul you’ll be ahead. We joined up with another couple (from Alberta) for the last 9 holes. We got home at 5:30 and had a little happy hour. Great! Worked on the computer for a bit, then watched the news and had supper — Sue’s ‘best’ supper so far (but not mine!). I did a bit more work on the computer — trying to figure out SASS (a computer programming language) — and then one more episode of ‘Restaurant Impossible’ before going to bed.

Visitors from Goodyear!

Man, the pool was FULL of leaves this morning! And another 30 or 40 lemons were lying below the lemon tree. We had big wind here last night, and it was still blowing pretty good when I woke up at 7. So after a quick breakfast I was out there screening the debris out of the pool while Sue gathered lemons. We had some cleaning up to do today — we’re expecting visitors from Goodyear this afternoon. So that meant we had to do some more cleaning up. Sue swept the patio, the entrance, the driveway. I carried out garbage and got out the vacuum cleaner. It seems the more we clean, the more places that need cleaning appear. I got a break from the vacuuming when Max skyped. We had a lovely visit. Then back to work! It seemed a lot warmer than the 77 degrees the thermometer read. When we were all done cleaning we showered and had lunch. Sue started making appetizers and supper. I went back to work on the computer. Then at about 4:00 Robert and Arlene arrived. I just happened to spot them on the driveway across the bay — hmmm.. that looks like Robert. And it was! Quick tour of the house. We had drinks outside on the patio — joined by a few flies which must have come down here from Arizona. We moved inside for appetizers and more visiting. It turns out that the Dycks know nearly everything there is to know about our lives, courtesy of this blog. That meant that whenever I got a fact wrong in one of my stories they could correct me! Keeps the BS to a minimum!

Robert insisted that he didn’t want to do any of the fun and exciting things I had planned for them — he preferred to just do the everyday boring things that Rudy and Sue do when they’re home alone. That ruled out the foreign film and the visit to the art gallery across the street. And we learned that Arlene knows more about Palm Dessert than we do, thanks to the many times she’s been here with the Coleman family. I guess touring around the area wouldn’t be that interesting for her. So there we were, the four of us sitting on the couch, doing what we normally do when we’re home alone — watching ‘our shows’ — Colbert and Jon Stewart.

rob-arlene-visitSue served a mexican torte thing for supper. We discussed our lives. What good children we have. A little dispute about who had the cuter grandchild was finally resolved with a showdown of who had the MOST photos.

Tonight, for once, the Scrabble game on the ipad had a night off. Right now everyone except me is fast asleep, but I’m sitting here updating the journal. I better head off to bed — I’ve got an important golf date tomorrow.

So this is what we do when we get company…

Sue didn’t sleep from 4 to 6. She blamed it on my snoring. I don’t recall any of it. I woke up at 7. Happy. As usual. It’s going to be (another) great day. Coffee brewing. Robert’s already sitting outside reading his ipad. Oh yeah.

Robert and Arlene after the walkRight after our breakfast the gardener guys showed up and started up their leaf-blowers. I GUESS WE’LL HAVE TO TALK A BIT LOUDER. We walked around the neighbourhood with our guests. Talked business. Okay, not really, but we had a brisk little walk, enough to warrant a shower when I got home. And then it was time for lunch. As per usual, when we have visitors we have a ‘make your own sandwich’ kind of lunch instead of the (preferred) usual complete ‘platter’. Oh well, Sue thinks it’s so much nicer than ‘the usual’.

Robert decided to take a little nap after lunch before our 2:30 golf tee time. I went to do a bit of computer work before getting ready for golf. When I next check up on the others, there are Robert and Arlene and Sue each on their yoga mat in the living room, doing stretches and exercises. Yikes! It’s time to go golfing. Warm outside; cloudy, but warm. It’s going to be perfect for golf. We drive down to Rancho Mirage. Arlene says I think we’ve golfed here before. Yeah, right. So have we, but that isn’t going to make this any easier.

The Dycks and Nikkels at Rancho Mirage Country ClubAt the clubhouse, the Dycks pay for our round of golf. Thank you very much. We head out to the driving range. My seven iron. About 1 out of 8 shots actually go anywhere near the 150 yard marker. Then we get into our carts and head off to hole number one. First drive — into the water. But Rudy, you usually hit such nice tee shots! Well, not today. But let’s not let that put too big a damper on our game. There’s always the next hole. The foursome ahead of us are really slow. Finally, at around hole number 12 we pass them. Wide open country ahead. We drive up to hole 13 tee blocks. Time for a photo. Let’s all be in it. Isn’t this a pretty hole?

We finish the 18th hole. Tired. Don’t really want to say this, but we’re ALL a little disappointed with our scores. We all lie that it’s more about THE FUN WE HAD than about the golf shots.

We take a little diversion on the way home and go to Sherman’s Bakery and the girls select some appropriate ‘no-fat low-calorie’ (but still sinfully delicious) desserts to go with our supper. Then home.

Bathroom breaks. Cold beers. Snacks. Sue and Robert start working in the kitchen. It’ll be a steak barbecue.

And as you might expect, supper was super. Steaks were great, potatoes, asparagus, salad — all great. After supper we retired to the living room and watched a bit of TV — first the last few minutes of the Chicago-L.A. hockey game, followed by a show about where to get the ‘best steaks’ in America. It was all we could do to hang on until we got our special desserts and then be allowed to high-tail it to bed. Some of us didn’t quite make it that long. But Sue FINALLY deemed it the right time for dessert and we quickly gobbled down our chocolate mess on a plate. Delicious. Then, as the time-keeper’s clock S-L-O-W-L-Y wound it’s way down to 11:00pm, we all headed off to bed. A good day.

The Countdown Begins: 10

Ten days left here in SoCal before we load up the paddy wagon and head for home.

Robert and Arlene leave for homeWe had breakfast with Robert and Arlene — Sue was happy to make bacon and eggs for the final meal together. It’s been fun to have them here with us for the last two days. We had a leisurely morning and saw them off at around 11. They are heading back to Phoenix where they will be hosting Robert’s siblings at the end of the month.

Skyping with Max and AlexWe skyped with Max and Alex before lunch. We hadn’t seen them for a couple of days — and it was fun to see them again. Max is such a happy boy and trying to grow up as fast as he can — with each skype call we notice a change. It will be fun to see him in person again in a couple of weeks.

sue-rdg-bkyardAfter lunch (back to the prepared plates, with small sandwich and chips and a cookie now the we’re not hosting visitors) Sue sat outside in the shade and read her book. I read the news and looked over some programming tutorials online. Around happy hour time I went out and we shared some pistachios and a beer. It was a beautiful spring day — and even here, where everything is irrigated and lush and green, even here there are signs of Spring. Bare branches are suddenly sprouting green leaves and colorful flowers, and bees and hummingbirds are checking them out. So I decided to take a walk around the yard and photograph some of the flowers.

After watching the evening news Sue and I went for a walk, stopping at the Vons across the road to pick up our Redbox rental for tonight. Back at the house Sue warmed up supper while we watched our comedy shows. I didn’t really have high hopes for the movie, Anna Karenina — I’d read some of the reviews, and although it won one of the 3 Oscars it was nominated for, that was for costume design — the movie looked good but the plot got a bit muddled by the screenwriter and in the end we’d have to knock it down a star or two in the ratings.

After the movie we watched a bit of the discussion about the new Canadian Federal Budget on CBC’s At Issue panel (online). But it was hard to keep our eyes open and by 11:00pm we were in bed.

The days are getting shorter

After breakfast we had a little visit with Max (via Skype). He’d slept 10 hours and had just finished another 2 hour nap. And he was VERY happy and VERY cute.

Somewhere around 10:30 it was time to go for a walk. The day was quite warm, but not stinking hot. We headed out on Ginger Rogers and stopped at the mall on Monterey. Picked up a few things and once we were nicely cooled off, headed back home. Along the way we stopped at Macdonald’s for a quick lunch. When we got home Sue headed out to her spot in the shade in the backyard and I sat down at my computer.

We had to hurry our showers and hurry out the door and even drive through a couple of just-barely red lights to get to the Palme d’Or theatre in time for the 4:20 showing of “The Gatekeepers”. But we made it. The cool thing about the Palme d’Or is that they are showing lots of small independent films, including foreign films. Today’s movie was one of the five best foreign film nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards. It tells the story of Shin Bet, Israel’s secretive internal security service, from the perspective of six of its former leaders. The description doesn’t sound at all interesting, but Sue and I really enjoyed the movie and even had a little movie discussion on the way home.

When we got back to the house we watched a bit of TV. No pizza tonight — too many leftovers in the fridge. We had leftover steak and fried potatoes. After our comedy shows we watched “Kitchen Nightmares” and the first part of “Shark Tank” and … well, actually we had ‘cued up’ a couple more shows after that but that’s around the time I pulled a Max and fell asleep on the couch. I don’t remember what time it was when Sue dragged me off to bed, but we’ll see tomorrow if 10 hours of sleep really is the secret to happiness.

When life gives you lemons…

Tim and Max sleigh rideBacon and eggs for breakfast. Skyped with Max for a while — he’d just come back from a sleigh ride. Still lots of snow in Manitoba. Not here. I cleaned the fallen leaves and flower petals out of the pool and Sue gathered up the lemons that had fallen to the ground overnight. lemons-on-counter
Huge lemonWe have so many lemons we don’t know what to do with them. There are bags of them in the garbage. The nicer ones Sue has washed and put on display on our counter, but we just don’t know how to use them up. I’m sure we’ll end up throwing them all out. Some of the lemons are HUGE, as big as a grapefruit.

I had a long Skype call with Koop — got lots more work. His renovations are nearly done and his new printer is hooked up. Sue read out on the patio and I sat in my office chair at my computer for the rest of the morning. We had lunch and then we got ready for our golf game. We’d booked tee times at Palm Desert Golf Club — we hadn’t been there since early February — before Tim and Alex came for a visit. Tim and I went there twice, but Sue couldn’t remember the course layout at all.

Rudy and Sue at Palm Desert Golf ClubWhen we got there we were partnered up with a single, Scott, from Chicago. He was a pretty good golfer. The course starts off with a couple of par fives in a row. We all played well; I think we bogied the holes. At the end of the first nine I had 3 pars! Well, I think I had a 9 on at least one hole, so it wasn’t THAT great. But we had some good shots. Sue in the golf cartSue is playing better all the time — good drives and very good putting. And we had a good time. The weather was perfect — not too hot. We had no waiting at all on the front nine, but I guess they’d let a bunch of golfers onto the back nine so it got backed up towards the end. So it was slow going, and the sun was setting, and it was starting to cool off nicely (probably the nicest golfing weather happens on the last hole — kind of like the last round of water-skiing when the lake is like glass).Sue putting on hole 18

After golf we stopped at the Albertsons to pick up a few groceries. Then home. It was after 7 o’clock. I barbecued chicken in the dark while Sue cooked the pasta and made an avocado salad. We watched some TV until we were too tired to stay awake — and went to bed at around ten.