Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Work" in the desert....

It's been a great month for completely vegging out especially for Jim as he really needed it.

We have decided that we should accomplish something when we're down here and while Jim doesn't have any pressing deadlines he is enjoying getting started on the Huxley bio. We've decided to set aside 3 hours a day at some point during the day. Work for me is painting, getting started on Yoga for my back and general flexibility, and learning some Spanish. I've got my painting set up permanently now and enjoyed playing around with the watercolours yesterday.

Jim has received some encouraging response for teaching at the University of Costa Rica in the winter so we plan to spend Feb/10 there even if nothing develops this year so we're both reading up on the country and working on our Spanish.

Funnily enough we seem to have quite a few contacts for information about the country. Tom and Claire, who we golf with down here (and in Victoria), have some good friends who are professors at the university. They met them a million years ago when they were all working in Columbia. Heather (in my bookclub) has a son who is currently spending a year there and they have visited the country. Katie and David's daughter, Vicky, spent a few months there recently as part of her gap year. Monique knows a couple who have spent quite a bit of time there and even are thinking of relocating there. And the list goes on!

My mini hair dryer is coming in handy again (Elaine used it when she was here) to dry the paint.

Kerry has been encouraging me to get into Yoga for over a year. I did manage to buy the videos she recommended and I bought this kit at Target for $20...pretty amazing value I think. It included the mat, DVD, ball, band, strap, chart, and info booklet.


I took a few photos the other day out back of our place as the sun was going down.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Photos of Harmony...what an absolute doll!

These were taken in the hospital so she's no more than two days old. As Kerry says, she's so gorgeous and alert. Grandmothers are usually right when talking about their grandchildren!

Kerry, David, Katie, and Harmony.

Mother and beautiful.

I guess this is the nurse and Harmony...what beautiful eyes!

The Parker Hotel

A very famous place for the rich and famous next door to us. We had to take Elaine there since it's such a hoot. This year we must get to lunch there just for fun. A very popular place for weddings and very pricey...very old Palm Springs style.

Elaine at the door.

Elaine and I on the "Elvis Pilows".

I love this 6 seater bar.

I guess you'd call this decoration and the next art deco.

They have great grounds and you can see why it's a popular place for weddings.

Langostino Tails

Trader Joe's puts out a "Fearless Flyer" every once in a while and they focus on special things they are featuring and give ideas about how to use the products. One thing Elaine pointed out while she was here was the Chilean Langostino Tails (frozen)...12 ounce bag for 8.99. From their flyer:

"In Chile, they're tradionally combined with a bit of mayonnaise, chopped onion and cilantro served over lettuce for a salad."

This is what is pictured here but we were a little disappointed since the flavour wasn't great. I guess we're too used to wonderful hand peeled shrimp and fresh crab at home. The texture was not bad. I think I'll use the rest with a steak...doing the recipe but heating them up in melted butter and serving them warm.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Palm Springs Art Museum :: Exhibitions :: Current Exhibition

This is a great exhibition at the Museum. We didn't have a lot of time with Elaine to do it justice so we'll go back on another free Thursday.

Palm Springs Art Museum :: Exhibitions :: Current Exhibition

"Snow far so good"

John sent me this photo he took in West Van Feb 22 with the message title above. And this morning I get a message from my neighbour, Susan, saying they got a few centimetres of snow last night. Nanaimo got 20 centimetres and schools are closed!

Well...the temp at the pool was showing 70 F in the shade when we arrived at 10am and at 4pm it was showing 80 F in the shade.

- John Denniston photo

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A big welcome to Harmony!

Roger and Kerry became grandparents Feb. 23 at 9:45pm! Their daughter, Katie, gave birth to a beautiful 7 pound baby girl.

From Kerry:

"Women's Hospital is a wonderful place...the birthing suite is so comfortable, with ensuite bath, soaker tub, bed for dad. There is no nursery anymore. Women give birth in the room and stay there with baby and husband. Nursing care is one on one and so personal and caring. Katie says it was what she wanted...a home birth atmosphere with all the medical backup at hand just in case. David was great...never left her side. We made a good team but Katie was so strong...we're so proud of her. The baby is adorable...really a combination of both of them, black silky hair and dark wideset eyes in a little heart shaped face. Many pics will follow soon! Her name is Harmony."

How tremendously exciting for everyone and we wish everyone the very best! I had tremendous fun today shopping for baby clothes. My blog readers will be anticipating photos with great relish.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Funky old Palm Springs

On Saturday we had lunch in downtown Palm Springs at the Mexican restaurant "Las Casuelas"...a place we go with all our guests. Sat. afternoon they have a band playing so it's especially fun to eat there. Not many dancers in the afternoon but this little guy was very cute.

We had a lot of fun looking at all the crazy places in downtown PS. Amazingly Elaine found a wonderful one of a kind glass piece for her gold chain. It was in a store that you would never think you would find anything like that!

Now, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We had a lot of fun looking at things on this $5 rack. We actually bought one of these sweaters since it was cosy and we would never wear a cardigan outside the house anyway. I think Richard might be coveting it for his annual bad sweater party. I know Don will be wondering why Elaine didn't buy the lovely blouse she's holding up...isn't the bow just the perfect touch?

The perfect no care dogs!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I was really rather perplexed by all the praise for Slumdog so I asked Richard about it because I knew he liked it a lot and he usually has good reasons for being enthusiastic about a film.

Richard's comments:

"I saw The Reader and I wholeheartedly agree that Winslet deserves Best Actress but I still think Slumdog was a slightly more important film because it advances the medium and deals with new subject matter. The way they captured city life with minimal disruption of the city's life was unprecedented. Remember, movies have only been shooting in city streets since WWII and it's extraordinarily difficult to do it without shutting everything down and faking everything. Getting Mumbai right is important because it is the poster child for globalization, a subject whose complexity can make one feel small. But through the story of a small child, Slumdog brings us closer to understanding the massive and overwhelming social changes taking place around us right now."

I think I was focusing too much on the rather hokey love story aspect and not seeing the other things Richard mentions. And of course even the hokey love story is very "Bollywood" I guess and shows a lot about the culture. I kinda figured I didn't quite get it!

And we were just watching the news and we learned that some of the young actors were from the slums and are still there and that the film was low budget. I wouldn't have believed I am beginning to be rather intrigued by it all.

Elephant Bar mon amour

We had our last meal out after playing golf on Sunday at the Elephant Bar before heading home to get our last swim and tub together before the Oscars. I must say we all enjoyed the very entertaining format this year.

We decided to order things we hadn't ever had at the Elephant Bar...not hard to do since they have a wonderful menu. Only one photo of the food since we got engrossed in eating before thinking about taking pictures. Jim had a pulled pork sandwich, Elaine and I split a Calamari appetizer and an Ahi Tuna appetizer...all fabulous. The photo show 1/2 of the tuna serving...unbelievably generous for 10 bucks and then I have my 20% discount card...what a deal for $8.

We had a great week with Elaine...she was the perfect guest! But I know her boys (Don and Oscar, the cat) will be thrilled to have her home.

We hadn't really looked at the cocktail menu since we've always had either wine or beer but we saw a fabulous looking drink going by and asked what it was. It was a Pina Colada, one of our favourite drinks so we'll have to have one of those. Elaine wanted a picture of the description so she could try to duplicate the recipe so here it is.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not so Itty Bitty Film Review: "The Reader"

We went to see this film last night and all three of us agreed it's the best film we've seen in years and after recently seeing Slumdog none of us can understand how Slumdog can be so well considered. It's just not in the same league in terms of depth, complexity, story, acting...even all the technical filming stuff as far as I'm concerned.

There are many things to discuss and think about in this film and I can understand why Monique was so keen to discuss it after she had seen it a few months ago and when I told her I had read the book. Well, of course, I had read the book around 10 years ago and I can barely remember what I read last week.

I think a key idea for me was when the survivor's daughter said to Michael when he visited her in NYC was "Let's at least BEGIN with the truth." Certainly there's been a lot of untruthfulness around the terms of people saying they didn't know what was going on, the Catholic church not taking responsibility until very recently etc. I believe Hanna tried to tell the truth in the trial but of course it seemed absurd in the new context that she was in. "We were guards and it was our job to guard them not let them escape" "We had to get rid of the women because we had to make room for all the new ones."

I don't believe Hanna's behaviour was justified but I think it is understandable because humans are very adaptable to their surroundings. Adaptibility is often our greatest strength and in cases like allowing atrocities to occur our greatest weakness. And there is the parallel irony that those who survived the camps were the most adaptable in many cases.

Most sensitive good people seem to have adapted quite well to accepting local homelessness and poverty and distant famine and collateral damage(i.e. innocent people being killed in current wars) And perhaps we will be in a court one day and our weak pleadings of "What could we do? We weren't directly involved. We were trying to help these countries achieve freedom and democracy." "We were fighting the war on terror." will seem equally absurd in the new context.

The law professor is trying to teach his students to think like lawyers and this means that "It doesn't matter what you think or feel about it. It's not about morality. It's not about what is right or wrong. It's what is legal." But is the law such an ass? It appears that "rule of law" is the best way we have developed to get justice. A flawed system for a flawed species.

I think the film did end with a bit of hopefulness in humanity understanding itself. Michael begins the healing process and I think "healing" is the correct word. Healing does not mean justice has been served or forgiveness even. But I believe we have a human need to heal our emotional wounds just as our body heals our physical wounds. Perhaps the survivor's daughter began a healing journey herself in keeping the Hanna's tin for personal treasures.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Palm Springs Museum of Art

Elaine was very impressed with this is quite fabulous. A few things that caught my eye this time.

I absolutely adore this painting!

Richard, remember your Lone Ranger underwear?


We went to El Paseo yesterday and Elaine found some goodies that I won't mention as they are a surprise for Don. Great shrimp crepes for lunch at a restaurant Jim and I will return to for dinner.

Lazing in the sun while Jim played golf then out for dinner at a local French Bistro where Elaine treated us to a fabulous meal. I had goose liver pate and bouillibaisse; Jim had mussels and the duck, and Elaine had a Caesar and the peppercorn steak...all absolutely fabulous and a great wine William Hill Cab which we bought a bottle of at Ralph's on the way home.

Dinner menu

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another day in paradise...

Our usual morning poolside, off to Trader Joe's for goodies, afternoon poolside, then showed Elaine Palm Springs and went to the Palm Springs Museum of Art. She was very is a magnificent building, setting, and collection. Then to Grill-a-Burgers where we had a great table for viewing the Thursday night market. We were right in front of a stall where the cutest little dog was modelling doggie clothes. Our server said the little dog loved her since she fed him bacon.

We went to the Camelot to see Slumdog Millionaire and Elaine couldn't resist kissing the bighorn sheep. She is really is missing you, Don!

Elaine and I with the gorilla at Grill-a-Burgers.

Anticipating our burgers.

Elaine not quite knowing how to tackle her Oh La La Burger (Carmelized onions, boursin cheese...)

As you can see I know exactly what to do with my Blu Job Burger (blue cheese, bacon...)

Jim had the Bababloo Burger...jalapeno peppers etc.

This little dog is a great marketing device for these folks.

Kerry, you would have enjoyed seeing these quilts.

I don't know why Jim isn't looking thrilled to be making our breakfast...fabulous apple smoked bacon from Bristol Farms.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sausage from Bristol Farms

We had some wonderful saucage last night for dinner along with a great bottle of wine Elaine treated us to...we are being very spoiled these days.

The top is Chicken Apple and the lower is Pork Garlic.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Great times minus one important thing...

We had a great day today and so glad the weather is now completely cooperating for Elaine's visit. Of course the missing ingredient is our darling Don who is usually with us when we travel with Elaine. We are all missing you very much, sweetheart, but we know you are getting tremendous pleasure that Elaine is having a super time.

Since we are in full battle with enticing photos I'm not going to post Don's latest photo of his stew after he stirred it (even for me who doesn't like stew I would have to admit it looked good!)

The three of us at the Elephant Bar.

Macademia nut encrusted fish and chips. This is one of my favourites that Elaine and I split along with my Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls...yum.

This is something I discovered the last time we played golf and ate at the Elephant Bar...absolutely delicious soup and sushi. Jim ordered it this time and he may never order anything else again if he can remember the name..."Tempura salmon roll and Pan Asian Soup with Teriyaki chicken skewer".

Last week we had a slice of this wonderful Banana Cream pie at Marie Callender's. Before this I really wondered what all the fuss was about pie in the US. The crust is like Fern's kidding. You can buy a whole pie (lots of varieties) to go for $6.95 and that is six big servings. I would be proud to serve this to guests at good as anything Pure Vanilla has.

These chocolate muffins were also at Marie's. I guess they're someone's idea of heaven but we all felt revolted.

This is more our idea of what is great for breakfast...fresh grapefruit off a tree in our development. Don, remember those fabulous grapefruit we bought when we went to Anza-Borrega Park when we were in San Diego together that year? That was a year that had more rain than usual and the wildflowers were fabulous. I wasn't into taking photos then but you were and you and Elaine gave us this great little album of super photos of those desert flowers and our time in San Diego. I think this is going to be that kind of year too with all the rain they've had. There is a silver lining.

Elaine gave me these wonderful sunflower that go perfectly with the colour scheme in our condo.

Elaine reading after a tough day poolside, golf, and dining.

The Red Tomato and House Of Lamb - Home

We had a great meal with Don and Carole and Elaine here last night. It's close to us and quite funky...very much like Nick's in Vancouver. The Poys were just in the desert for a few days and now heading out to Scotsdale where they hope they will get warm...they started in San Diego and the cold weather has been following them.

The Red Tomato and House Of Lamb - Home

Beautiful day today and we just got in from the pool and now are heading out to play golf and have lunch at the Elephant Bar. I'm sure Elaine will love it.

Elephant Bar Restaurant - Home

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The battle continues....

So this is what real men eat...where's the beef?

Don's beef stew.

We have Tropicana AND Cashew Butter...

And who would have yucky old cantelope when you can have strawberries, mango, and bananas?

Elaine at the battle station.