Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Nixon, Happy Hours and Sunsets

I associate San Clemente with Richard Nixon.  I remember news reports talking about his Western White House.  I haven't found his home here but I have found a beautiful beach town.  We are in a hotel with an ocean view - of course across a major street and over some trees - but an ocean view nonetheless.

We originally came here to stay in a timeshare that we traded for but when we arrived it just wasn't acceptable.  The bleach odour in the room irritated my eyes and the place was just a tad too rustic.  So we moved over to our old standby a local Hilton.  We are in the Hampton House which is a nice little, clean hotel,  The staff here is great and the laundry has helped a lot!

Yesterday we walked the San Clemente Trail and enjoyed beautiful views of the ocean, surfers riding the waves and incredible houses/apartment buildings hugging the sides of the hills lining the shore. See this blog for a great description of the Trail

Yesterday was clear and warm so we were able to easily walk without too much worry about the weather.  As we looked up at the houses and the other buildings we talked about how these are the houses that are affected by mudslides when it rains.

And then of course it rained today.  Hard and for most of the day.  My cel phones constantly buzzed flash flood warnings.  On a personal note this is exactly the kind of day that I find most uncomfortable - windy, chilly, damp, rainy - every bone ached and I wanted to get back either to the desert or as a last resort the dry cold of Saskatchewan.

Both last night and tonight we found the happy hour at Fisherman's Wharf Bar and Restaurant.  This restaurant is located right beside the pier and has an unobstructed view of the ocean and at the Happy Hour an unobstructed view of the beautiful sunset.  And the sunset was glorious on both days - the sunny day and the rainy day.  Check these out.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Hunter's Birthday

My son Mark and his wife Reesa have two children - Hunter and James.  Today is Hunter's 4th birthday.  He is having a kid's birthday party in a few weeks with a few other kids who are having birthdays around now but today was family birthday day.

Hunter's special event was to go to see Noah's Ark at the Skirball Cultural Centre on Sepulveda Boulevard.  The Skirball Centre is a combination kid's playground, museum, art gallery and community centre.  The Noah's Ark area is made up of three different rooms/areas that allow kids to interact with different aspects of Noah's Ark.  There is one area with mechanical animals that the kids can interact with by turning knobs, pulling levers, etc.  The animals are beautifully made from 'found" objects.  The second area is a climbing room - basically the interior of the Ark.  And the third room is an arts and crafts room where the kids can draw pictures or do other things related to Noah's Ark.

They sell tickets and you are only allowed into Noah's Ark at your appointed time and you can only stay in there for two hours.  There were lots of people in there but it wasn't too crowded and the kids didn't have to wait to play at the various stations.

We also went through the Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams exhibit. Adams' pictures, amongst other photographers pictures and a variety of documents such as newspapers, letters, etc. documented the internment of Japanese Americans during the second world war.  Canada's behaviour was not better.

The exhibit was very moving and educational.  Adams pictures are stark and clearly represented the bleak atmosphere of those camps.  The descriptions downplayed the clear violation of these citizens human rights and made clear the bigoted and racist views held by too many Americans.  It was a shameful time for the country but also a time for those families to be proud of what they accomplished and what they were able to endure during those days.

The little party tonight was highlighted by the delight Hunter displayed when he opened his gifts (we gave him two star wars figures - Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader - and some books) and by the birthday cake Reesa made for Hunter.


Friday, January 01, 2016

Back to blogging!

Ok it has been almost four years since I have written anything to this blog but its a new year and we all make unrealistic resolutions so bear with me.  I intend to resurrect the blog and I'm aiming for a few entries a week.  I think I want this more as a place to diarize what I'm doing and some of the things I am working on both personally and at work.  I'll still write the occasional entry about my thoughts on a wide variety of subjects.

There's a good chance no one will read this but I know I am doing this more for me than to attract an audience.  But if I do attract your attention and you have something to add, something to comment on, or just something you want to say please do make comments.

We are in Los Angeles visiting Mark and Reesa and their two children - Hunter, their son and James, their daughter.  It is Hunter's fourth birthday tomorrow and we wanted to be here to celebrate with him.

I am not teaching this semester - I taught last summer - and we spent a few weeks at our place in Scottsdale. On Sunday we will go to a week in a timeshare in San Clemente where I will be able to get myself and my work organized for this coming semester - non-teaching doesn't mean non-working.  I have lots of projects and obligations going on this semester to keep me busy.

Then we head to Tallahasee to spend a few days with Jay and Dori and their daughters Riley and Julianna.  And then down to Miami to spend time with Stacey, her partner Harris and his son Noah.

I can't imagine how I got so old to have 5 grandchildren but I do have them and I enjoy every minute I'm with them or even just thinking about them.  My only wish is that we were all closer together so that I could see them more often and watch them change and grow.

I can see just explaining some of the things I've mentioned in this entry will occupy a number of the future entries for this blog.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Presentations, Accidents and Grandchildren

Wow I didn't realize that I have neglected this blog for so long.  Lots has happened between August 4 and now.

Boston:  I attended the Newcomers activity on Saturday evening and was very impressed at how welcoming members of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE)are to new people.  I met a number of interesting people and will try to stay in touch with them.  I think I'd like to get involved in this organization.

Val Mulholand and I were scheduled to give a presentation on the Balfour Project on Sunday morning.  We did that and those folks who did attend - 5 people seemed quite interested and gave us their email addresses so that we could send them our powerpoints and other information about the project.

Right after the presentation on Sunday We headed for the airport and flew to Miami.  Stacey had  found a new apartment and had already bought most of the furniture - this new apartment is unfurnished.  She is hoping she will be in the apartment for the next few years.  We worked with Stacey moving her stuff from one apartment to another, organizing the new apartment and buying the bits and pieces that she needed to move in and feel settled.

On Thursday we rented a car and drove from Miami to Tallahassee to see Jay, Dori and Riley.  The drive is just over 7 hours but it is basically all on the Florida Turnpike - many lanes and very high speeds.

We experienced a sight that will remain with me for a very long time.  A woman was weaving in and out of the traffic.  But she wouldn't wait for the traffic to open for her in the next lane but she would accelerate into the smallest gap to change lanes.  We both commented on her driving as she went past us.

Somehow she got behind us and she came barreling past us on the right - we were in the far left lane of four lanes going in our direction.  She came up behind a slower car and started to move to the lane on her right.  Without looking she moved towards the right but a truck/SUV was beside her and she swerved back to the left.  We were traveling at probably around 90 miles per hour.  She tried again - this time she tried to accelerate into the gap in front of the truck but didn't make it.

She clipped the corner of the truck and they both went  out of control right in front of us - we were perhaps three car lengths behind and to the left of the collision.

I slammed on the brakes but was mindful of the cars behind and beside me.  It literally happened in slow motion - I drive around the debris that was flying and watched where the car and truck were careening.  When they finally came to a stop a number of cars pulled over to see what the condition of the people were in the car and truck.  Fortunately all passengers and drivers were ok - other han being scared beyond belief.  The truck actually had a young child in it but she was ok.

Once we saw that things were in hand we kept on going - we were determined to get to Tallahassee before Riley went to bed.  As it turned out we got there later than we planned because of a flipped semi-trailer as we were entering Tallahassee but fortunately Riley was still up.

What can I say about Riley - she is smart, she is beautiful, she is growing, she is curious, she is talkative. 

I haven't seen her in person for a year - I am amazed that she has all her teeth and that she speaks so well.

When we drove up she was standing at the door and all we could see was her eyes peeking through the window - and when we cam into the house greeted us with a cheery hi!  She is incredible.

She has taken to Babi very well - almost won't leave her alone - and is a bit cool to Zaida - but that doesn't stop us from talking and enjoying things together.

She is so ready for preschool and interaction with other children - she will do so well in those circumstances.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Fenway Park and Uno Pizza

I am attending the Association for Teacher Educators Summer Conference in Boston now.  As part of the registration package I was able to buy two tickets to last night's Red Sox game again the Minnesota Twins.

The day was hot yesterday and very humid.  We walked the half mile to the T stop at Central square.  That walk, as short as it was, induced heat and sweat.  Anyone that knows me knows that under most circumstances I don't tolerate sweat very well!

We got onto the T and made our way to the Park Station where we could get the D Red Line to Fenway.  Park is the intersection of the Green Line and the Red Line.  It is a massive station as the Red LIne has a number of options - B, C, D, E.  The D line is the train that stops at Fenway.

The subway stations in Boston are famous for not having air in the them - or at least not having much circulation.  At the best of time the air is heavy, warm and stagnant.  Thousands of Boston regalia bedecked people were in the Park Station waiting for the D train.

Stale, hot stagnant air and thousands of people crowded around the track made for heat, humidity, smells, sweat and massive discomfort.

But wait, it gets better!!!

Announcements were being made that are never intelligible to me.  But suddenly the mass of people started moving to a different track.  Turns out there was a power outage or disruption and the D trains were now out of service.  So we all moved over to another track where we could take any train but the E train and get off at Kenmore station and walk to Fenway.

Needless to say we were cheek by jowl waiting in the crowd. The trains were moving slowly on the tracks but had been backed up so there was one train after another.  By this time I was beyond "perspiring"  I was out and out sweating - and so was everyone else around me.

The train cars were being packed with humans intent on their bread and circus - sardines have luxurious space compared to these train cars.

None of the trains stopped in front of us so as each train came to a stop the crowd shifted towards the closes door.  It is easy to see how a small person could lose their footing and be trampled to death.

Finally we got on a train and stationed ourselves against two seats occupied by a young man and a young woman.  I feel sorry for them because they had all of this mass of humanity precariously hanging over them.

As the train stopped and started I realized I could move my feet - I was not planted well and when I ntried to get a more stable footing there was no place to go - my feet were trapped between everyone else's feet.  I had to hold on for dear life with my hands as the train stopped and started.

By this time I was no longer sweating - the fluids were just pouring out of my body.

We finally made it to the station and of course the exit from the train was on the left side and we were facing the right side door near the driver which meant we needed to move back through the car to get out.  Not every one as getting out so some assertive behaviour was called for.

Finally we were on the street and headed to Fenway.

Fenway is an old beautiful baseball park - open air and reeking with history.  Unfortunately air conditioning doesn't really work in an old stadium.  So as we walked around from grandstand 130 to grandstand 8, through the concession areas, etc. breathing and maintaining any kind of cool were difficult - sweating continued.

We found grandstand 8 and began climbing the steps up, up, up to where our seats were located.  We were under an overhang - good in case t started raining - not so good if you wanted to breath - the air did not circulate - at all - period - but the humidity did accumulate.  After a while I yearned for the cool of the packed train ride - it was impossible under that overhang!!!

We found ourselves sitting beside some a family.  The father was sitting next to me.  He was wearing shorts and had his wallet or something in the lower pocket in his shorts.  He was a bit bigger than me - the seats were a lot smaller than me - and his wallet or whatever it was extended a good 6 inches into my seat area - poking into my thigh - he was oblivious.  Whatever it was in there had sharp edges.

Then the game started and I looked up to see the field and saw......... a pole.  We were in the right field grandstand and I had a clear view of all of the fielders.  I could see the short stop, second and third baseman and the pitcher - and that was it.  There was no way I could see first base or home plate.

So a recap - I couldn't breath, I was drowning from the humidity which may not have been so bad because I was becoming dehydrated from all the sweating I was doing and I had a clear view of the outfield.

All of this for a mere $60 a seat for seats we found out were face valued at $30

We left after the fifth inning.  Which was unfortunate because we really came to sing Sweet Carolyn during the 7th inning stretch.

We made our way out of the Park and went to Uno Chicago Pizza.  In air conditioning and in front of a 50 inch High Def tv we ate our dinner and watched the end of the game.

Now I just need to understand why people go to these games and subject themselves to all of this?????

Thursday, August 02, 2012

What's missing?

When I was in China the first time i started to get unsettled after the first few weeks.  Couldn't figure out what it was - we talked about the strange surroundings, but that didn't seem to be the problem, we talked about the work but that was pretty much the same as the work we did at home.  We talked about the food and finally realized we hadn't eaten bread the whole time we had been in china.

That was the feeling today as we made our approach to Boston - it was so incredibly green.

Phoenix is desert and I hadn't realized how brown it was.  It s beautiful in its own way and I love the feeling of the desert but it is almost monochromatic - shades of brown.

Phoenix and Boston are different in other ways - for me the major difference is the use of space - I like wide open places - and Boston is not that in any way - houses and buildings seem to be on top of each other. Phoenix on the other hand is so spread out - at least in Scottsdale - that it is hard to see the city with all of the empty space around.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


We're in and basically settled in our new place in Scottsdale.  I am enjoying the area.

I seem to enjoy the desert.  A few years ago we spent some time in Joshua Tree National Park just outside of 29 Palms California and I fell in love with the desert

The area around our condo is populated but the way the developments are built it actually looks very rural - very desert.  The spaces are open and there is a lot of sky - yet all around us are mountains

We are just over a kilometre from a little shopping mall with a Frye's (a supermarket), some restaurants, our bank and a Starbucks.  In the winter it will be a nice walk - right now it is like walking on the surface of the sun. 

There is a clubhouse on site here - they call it the great room - with a theatre, a gym and a large pool with a larger deck surrounding it.  It is quite comfortable and they always have ice water, iced tea and coffee available = as well as popcorn

Tomorrow we move out and into a hotel near the airport and then on Thursday we're on to Boston

Monday, July 30, 2012

Home (?) At Last

Last night we slept for the first time in our new Scottsdale home.  The last couple of posts have described a bit about our efforts at outfitting this place but I don't think I have told the whole story here.

A few years ago we bought a vacation home in Belize.  We were in on the ground floor of a new development being done by a friend.  We were amongst the first to give them the go ahead to build our place.  We made adjustments, reconfigured some of the house design and eventually our casita was finished - number 14 in Caribbean Blue.  You can see the progress of building here .

Unfortunately we have been waiting for too long for the development to progress and to become anywhere close to operational.  We decided to give up on that property and look for something a bit more reliable and closer to home.

Our friends Sheldon and Tannis Mindell had been talking about buying a vacation home too so we teamed up and decided to buy together.  Three years of looking and debating and discussing. And finally early this year the right place came available at the right price and we bought it.

Arrangements were made to have renovations and upgrading before we came to Scottsdale.  We held back on a number of things like the final painting until we got here to ensure that the colours were right, etc.

Last Sunday we all arrived and spent the week buying everything necessary to make this place into our home away from home - beds, couches, chairs, tables, etc.

Although all of the renovations aren't quite complete Helene and I moved in on Sunday and spent the night here for the first time.

We are looking forward to many nights here - holiday, getaway or just plain living nights

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I wish I had more to say about the day but I drove, the women shopped, I waited, I drove the women shopped, I waited and on and on.

But it was a productive day - we have a lot of the furnishings for the condo purchased and organized for delivery.  Now we just have to wait for the last renovations, painting and repairs to be done.  Helene and I are hoping to move in on Sunday night.

Tomorrow is washer and dryer, television and side tables day - another day in paradise!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm not a shopper

We shopped for furniture today for the condo in Scottsdale.  We seemed to drive back and forth between Scottsdale and Tempe quite a few times.  But in the end we were successful and the mattresses, bedstands and tiles were found and ordered.

Banking was a different story.  It seems American banks are very provincial and very mistrusting. We still can't clearly understand how long it will take for one of our cheques to clear in order for us to get the money we deposit.  We spent some time with one of the bank personnel and still don't really have many answers.

The simple issue is that we want to have access to out money as soon as we deposit it - or at least know when we will have access.  The answer we get is that they will allow us to access the money when the cheque has cleared the Canadian bank and our bank says that the time delay depends on the Canadian bank - which could take up to 6 weeks - absolute nonsense.  We have an appointment tomorrow to see if we can't straighten this out.

I am enjoying the environment here - it feels like the prairies - wide streets, a lot of sky, etc. but phoenix is surrounded by desert and mountains - it is quite spectacular.

The heat is another story - we spent a lot of time in 100 plus degree weather - but i seem to be able to tolerate it quite well - the cliche is that it is a dry heat - and that seems to be quite tolerable - instead of washing over me in a torrent of humidity it more or less envelops me in a warm blanket - sometimes it is too warm but  not that bad at all