I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Monday, December 28, 2009


It's Monday night and a week ago right now I was playing Bingo at Alibi's. It seems so long ago. As I am thinking about it, my phone rings with a message. It's from Ron. 'At Bingo' it reads. I text back; 'Wish I was'.

I want to go back.

Spent most of today unpacking, doing laundry, and moping about. I also call the insurance adjuster and leave a message saying that I am giving him until the end of next week to offer a settlement for the fall I took back in June or I am speaking to a lawyer. I'm done being nice about it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I wake up early and it takes about ten seconds for a familiar knot of anxiety to tighten in my stomach and then run like an electrical current through my body. I have been waking up this way for the past month or two, and it's not fun. I haven't had it once since I got to Palm Springs. I didn't miss it a bit.

I get up and dressed and pack the remaining bits up and lock my bag. I get it and my carry-on to the front door and then go say hi to Bob and Ada who are in the kitchen. Bob points to a plate of pancakes and tells me that they're gingerbread and to help myself. I haven't ever had gingerbread pancakes before. I get a plate out of the cupboard and fork one onto it. I don't like syrup so just spread a little butter over it and it's delicious.

I ask Ada if she would mind if I picked a few oranges to bring home for my kids to try as they have never tasted anything like the ones she grows. She tells me to help myself. So I go into the garage and get the picker. It's a long handle with a small wire basket on one end that has wire fingers extending off of the edge. These trap the fruit at the stem and then when I pull down on the handle, the fruit drops off of the tree into the basket. I pick ten Tangelos - part orange part tangerine. As I am out there I notice that one of the trees seems to be growing Japanese oranges. I go over and pinch one and, sure enough, the skin feels loose. I pull it off and peel and eat it right there. It's the best I've ever had, despite all of the seeds.

I get a text from Ron saying he will be here in fifteen minutes. I ask Ada if she'd like me to strip the bed but she says to just leave it so I go back into my room and make the bed. I leave a thank you card propped up on the night table. I check the closet to make sure I haven't left anything in there but the crucifix lights (and yet I still manage to leave behind my favourite pants hanger I got in England) and as I do I hear Ron arrive. I say my goodbyes to my lovely, gracious hosts and they repeat their invitation to come back any time I want to. I thank them profusely and very reluctantly leave the house for the last time. This trip.

We put my luggage into Ron's car and I say that I hope it's not overweight. As he picks up my big suitcase he says he knows overweight and that's not it. He gets in his car and I in mine and I follow him to the airport. I don't have the GPS anymore, I took it out of the car when I got home last night and left it on the kitchen table for Bob. Ron leads me to the car rental return and, after a quick inspection, the clerk signs it off and I climb into Ron's car and he drives me to the terminal. I tell him how much I have enjoyed the trip and his generosity to me. It's a gloriously sunny day without a cloud in the sky and I say that I am not looking forward to getting back to the mess of my life. He says he understands but that often it just takes a bit of a reprieve such as I have had this past week to give you a fresh perspective when you get home. I take encouragement from his wise words and pray that is the case.

I leave another thank you card on the seat addressed to both Ron and Eric when I get out of the car. Ron puts my luggage on the curb and we hug goodbye. He drives off as I drag my cases into the terminal. When I get to the counter and put my bag on the scale, it's overweight by five and a half pounds. I hope the agent will let it go but she suggests I transfer some stuff to my carry on. I was trying to keep that light as I had a bit of trouble getting it in the overhead rack on the flight here and I didn't want that problem again. I manage to remove the offending pounds and I am off to my departure gate.

I read my new book the entire flight home and am so engrossed in it that I have no idea we are landing and when the wheels hit the runway, I practically jump right out of my seat. I thought we hit something. It really scared me.

We are about half an hour ahead of our scheduled arrival time so Rob and Ashleigh are nowhere to be seen. I text her and get a text back that they are at Bellis Fair Mall and just on their way to the car. Soon they show up and it's great to see them. It is surprisingly sunny out, although very cold, and it makes for a nice drive back to Canada. I get through customs just fine with the oranges, they never ask if I have fruit. Just the dollar value of goods and if I have any firearms or pepper spray.

When we get to my place, it's freezing cold as I turned the baseboard heaters down the morning I left. I turn them back up and we leave to go get a Starbucks instead of me making a cup of tea here. It's just too cold. I give each of them an orange and Ashleigh eats hers right away and can't get over the flavour and how juicy it is.

Soon they are on their way home. They are tired after a busy Christmas season and driving most of the day to get me. I call Shonah. She is heading back to Kelowna tonight, her dad will take her to the airport. But before then there's time for me to see her. I go pick her up from a friends place in Langley and we go to Boston Pizza for a bite to eat. It's good to see her and get caught up on her life and she is eager to hear the details of my trip. After a couple of hours together I drive her to her dad's and give her a big hug goodbye. And I give her an orange.

I drive back to my house and when I get in, the silence is deafening. I miss being with people already. I am a people person. I don't like being alone. You'd think I'd be used to it by now but I'm not. I am going to take some proactive steps to change this part of my life. I don't want to be lonely any more.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I have a bite of breakfast with Ada and Bob and their niece, the older one. Everyone else has gone home. I head over to Ron's at about ten and when I get there, everyone is just lounging about except for Nelson, who is in the kitchen, and Ron who is sweeping up more broken glass from under the bar. Jane is the suspect. I go help Nelson wash and dry the glasses from the party and then empty the dishwasher. That done, I go sit in the living room with Matt and Michael and they are talking about the party. Apparently this is the morning-after tradition. Matt and Michael deconstruct the entire evening and talk about all the little juicy bits. They are deep into it. But then Michael stands up and says to Matt, "Come with me." and they leave for the guest bedroom and close the door. I feel awkward. Obviously they didn't want to talk in front of me so my being here has driven them away. Ron comes into the living room and I say as much to him.

"Nonsense." he says. "Don't feel bad at all. They do this every year, they are like two old women. They love it and they're having a marvelous time in there." He hands me a book about Palm Springs and tells me to relax by the fire and asks if I want a cup of tea. I do but get up to make it myself. I don't want him to feel he has to serve me and keep treating me like a guest. I like feeling like family, and he has told me that is what I am.

So with a cup of tea and an interesting book, I sit in the chair by the fire, the Eames chair that was once owned by Greta Garbo, and put my feet up on the matching footstool. Life is good here in Palm Springs.

Soon Geb arrives and we sit on the couch facing the kitchen and the boys, finished with their gossip session, come and join us. We talk some more about the party. Geb pipes up with "So I have to say that Sandra here wins the award for the best cleavage of the night." All the guys enthusiastically agree. I am embarrassed but laugh it off. "I walked into the house," Geb says, "looked over at the bar and saw a woman sitting there in this gorgeous dress and thought 'who is that beautiful woman?' then I realized, 'it's Sandra!' I was so surprised." The other men make some comments on how great they thought I looked and I tell them what the actor said when he saw me and my reply. They laugh. I tell them I had second thoughts about wearing the dress without a camisole and they protest that I made the right decision. I love these guys!!

Everyone is ready to go out for brunch. I ask if they would prefer to go alone as men, because if they would I am happy to do something else but they scoff at that and insist I come along. So we head over to Azul's for their (apparently fabulous) brunch. We get seated and settled in and then discover that the brunch is served on Sundays only. They just have a lunch menu available as it is after noon. Everyone wants breakfast so up we get and back into our cars to head over to Pinocchio, as they serve breakfast all day.

Once settled in there, we pour over the extensive menu and drinks are ordered. I don't know what I want to drink until I decide what I am eating. I say as much and Michael, who is sitting beside me, says he is the same. I decide on Eggs Benedict and they come with a side of fried potato cubes. I am starving! Matt orders a huge Margarita and as he sips it, Ron and I eye it enviously. So we each order one, even though that isn't something I would normally have for breakfast. When they come and I taste it, it is STRONG. I don't like Tequila but I seem to always forget that is what they are made with. I haven't had many Margaritas in my life, but enough to know by now that they're not my favourte thing to drink. However this drink is so huge that the more I drink it the better it tastes, so it's all good. And the eggs and side of potatoes are delicious. We eat and laugh and have a great time. My mind keeps straying to the fact that this is my last day here and tomorrow this time I will be on the plane home. But I push the thought away and concentrate on the here and now. Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Once breakfast is over, we head into the street and just up at the end of the block is a bronze statue of Lucille Ball sitting on a bench. I get my photo taken with her. The guys have decided that they want to go look at some retro furniture stores so we agree to meet them at a particular one. But first, Ron wants to make a stop and so by the time we are ready to go meet them, a phone call confirms they aren't there anymore. They have moved on to a different place so we head over there.

It's a huge second-hand furniture place spread out over three or four buildings. Ron turns his nose up at the place, saying it's mostly junk but when we get in there it's anything but. The place is packed with retro stuff from the sixties; huge sectionals that you only see in magazine spreads about Hollywood homes; loads of patio furniture, a whole section of it in ornate white painted wrought iron, which I love. I see four white Shabby Chic style French Provincial dining chairs for four hundred dollars. Those would be four hundred a piece at home. I covet them. I don't have any dining chairs since I let Ashleigh have most of my furniture. But I don't have a dining table either so the chairs wouldn't be much use at this point. But if I lived here and was furnishing a place, I'd have a field day in this shop.

After half an hour or so of wandering about, we finally find a couple of the guys but Ron is done with the place. Although he did spy a lounge chair that he thought would look perfect on his pool deck. It was a big circle woven in exactly the same material and same color his other furniture is in, with a fat white cushion on the bottom where there was just enough room to lie down. I try to talk him into buying it but he balks a little at the eight hundred dollar price tag and says in a couple of weeks it will be marked down. I don't think it will last that long.

We drive back to Ron's and lounge about for the rest of the afternoon. I leave at about five to go home and get a head start on packing. The guys are all lethargic after a big brunch and a busy week and are heading off for naps so it's a prefect time to leave.

We are going to meet at eight at a restaurant called Johnny Costa for dinner and then we will go to the Ingleside Inn to have drinks at the famed Melvyn's. I can't wait! Ron drove me through the grounds earlier in the week and told me that it is where all the old Hollywood stars used to come and play. There are small bungalows lining the drive that look so familiar to me, I am sure I have seen photos of this place in books I have read. The restaurant and bar has seen a lot of celebrities through it's doors and I am excited to go there tonight.

I get my packing done in short order, everything (except for the string of lights - I leave them behind in the closet) fits fine in my suitcase as I packed pretty light, so decide to take a nap. I am still suffering from missing a nights sleep earlier in the week and it's been a busy few days. I wake up with just enough time to get ready and set off for the restaurant. Ron gave me directions but I punch the destination into the GPS for safety. I end up getting lost as the GPS had me turn way too soon. So I get back to where I know where I am and follow Ron's directions instead and arrive just fine. Only, when I pull up to the curb, I realize I am an hour early. Our reservation is for eight not seven. I am bang on time for seven. I ponder going in and sitting at the bar to wait but decide to just wait in the car. The hour seems to drag by but eventually I see Jane and Scott arrive. I wait until I see Geb and Matt walk up to the door before I get out of the car and join them in the bar.

Soon everyone is there but the party sitting at our tables are lingering and so we don't get seated until close to nine. There's a dozen of us here but Paul isn't among the number. I had asked the guys if he was invited and they said he was. I guess he had something else to do. I find out later that he never got the invite as one thought the other had called him and no one called. Such a shame. I bet he would have loved to be here and I would have loved to see him again before I leave.

When we are being seated, Shaw takes my jacket and scarf, folds them neatly, and places them on a spare chair in the corner after pulling out my chair for me. I am impressed by what a gentleman he is. I say as much and say to Ron that I am being royally spoiled. Ron leaves to visit the mens room and when he returns he says to me, "You know, I was thinking about what you said about being spoiled. You've said that a few times over the past week. This is not being spoiled. This is how gentlemen treat a lady who is gracious and charming such as yourself. You should be treated like this all of the time and the men up in Canada are gits and need to be taught a lesson or two on how to treat a lady. You deserve nothing less, my dear." I have to say that I am having a hard time not letting all of the compliments I have received over the past week from this stellar group of gentlemen get to my head. I can honestly say I have never been treated so well, felt so cared for, or felt so adored. They definitely could teach heterosexual men a thing or two about dressing well, being perfect gentlemen, and making a woman feel fabulous.

It's going to be very hard to leave tomorrow.

I order the Chicken Alfredo with a Ceasar salad. The salad, when it comes, is huge and I can't eat half of it. And I only eat half of the entree. My appetite has really shrunk this past year. I should weigh a fraction of what I do for the amount I eat.

After a couple of hours over dinner, we head over to Melvyn's. Eric wants to come with me so I won't get lost, even though it's just a block over. I protest that it isn't necessary but he insists that I not go alone. So we get into my car and drive over. We all arrive at the same time and when we go inside, I am dazzled. The place is right out of a movie. I am sure it hasn't changed in decades and it has the genuine feel of old Hollywood. The Maitre'D is fabulous; he looks like he's been here for eons. He knows Ron by name and seats us at several small tables grouped at the back of the bar. We are right by the entertainment, a man of some vintage playing the piano and singing old hits from the Rat Pack days. He's really good. And there are couples dancing on the small dance floor. One couple, who look to be in their sixties, are dressed to the nines; she is in a red satin corset trimmed with black lace and a flowing black skirt, he is in a matching red tie, white shirt and black pants. They are obviously having the time of their lives. It's so fun to watch.

Ron has left the table for a bit and when he returns, he hands me a book, Palm Springs a la Carte, written by the owner of this place. It's the story of how he came to own it and the running of it for the past thirty or forty years. I thank him and he tells me that, were Mel here, he would have autographed it for me but he left just before we arrived. I would have loved to meet him. I page through the book and it has photos and I can't wait to read it. I will read it on the flight home.

A couple join us, two men, and the older one I feel I have seen or met before. It turns out I haven't but he's a well known Hollywood producer. He knows Ron as he produced a movie Ron directed in Toronto last year. I must have seen his photo somewhere or maybe seen him on a DVD talking about the movie in those extras I always watch. We are introduced and he seems surprised that I am a script supervisor. I don't think many of us get invited to places like this. I feel very privileged to be here and am not taking it for granted one single bit. As I sit here for the next hour, the music is too loud for conversation, so I bask in the feel of old Hollywood and the glamour that I am surrounded by. I try to commit it all to memory so that it will carry me through what I am facing when I get home.

This has truly been one of the best weeks of my life and has left me feeling as though, no matter what is ahead of me in the next month or so, I have this to not only recall and dwell on, but to come back to whenever I want to. Bob and Ada have already told me that I am welcome to come back and stay with them anytime. I told them not to say it unless they meant it because there would be nothing I would love more. They insisted that they would love to have me stay with them anytime I wanted to come back. And so I will be back. I just have to come back.

Friday, December 25, 2009


It's Christmas Day! I wake up late to the sounds of someone arriving at the front door. It sounds like a lot of people. Turns out it's some surprise visitors for Bob and Ada... her niece and husband and their 4 year old daughter. Unexpected. They are planning on spending the night and Ada shows them into the second spare bedroom beside mine.

We are supposed to be at Ron's by 11 for brunch so I hop in the shower and get about getting ready to go. I drive myself over to Ron's and the rest follow shortly after.

Nelson is making mimosa's and there is a plate full of scones freshly baked by Eric. I help myself to a scone with butter and jam. There's a bowl of what looks like whipped cream cheese as well so I pass that over. I find out later it was a bowl of clotted cream, my absolute favourite thing to eat with scones and I missed it! Oh well. The scones melt in the mouth and didn't need the cream anyway. Well done Eric!

Ron has free long distance to all of North America from his house phone and he tells me to call my kids to wish them Merry Christmas. I call Shonah and rib her for not texting me last night to say she arrived safely in Vancouver after flying down from Kelowna, as I had asked her to do and she had promised me she would. She's having such a good time, she totally forgot. She didn't want to spend Christmas eve and morning with her dad and his wife and her kids so she is with my good friend Fran who's daughter has been friends with Shonah since kindergarten. She was there over night and is having a fabulous time, as I knew she would. I try calling Christopher but he's not answering. I get Ashleigh and Rob as they are driving to the grandparents for the day. We have a lovely chat and she tells me to call her later when Christopher will be there so that I can talk to him. I tell her I will try.

We are waiting for Ron's sister and husband to arrive but after a couple of hours they still haven't arrived so we decide to get on with it. Everyone moves outside to the patio and Ron plays Santa, handing out the gifts. It's great fun to see what each one gets and it's a really great window into what their likes are. For instance, Matt gets a lot of vintage things including a floppy vinyl record from the 50's from Geb, and two fabulous vases from the 40's from Ron; Michael gets books and a pair of silver cuff links; Ged gets a lot of vintage items; when Scott and Jane finally arrive, he gets drinking glasses wrapped in tooled leather - very western looking - from Ron, and a Brooks Brother's jacket from Michael, who is determined to de-cowboy Scott and turn him into a class act. Nelson gets silver cuff links in the shape of transformer heads and he is beyond excited with them. He also gets a lovely cashmere sweater. Bob gets a vintage book about something historical that has him reading for the next half hour. He later comments on how much he loves it. I get a CD of Vera Lynn - I loved a song that was on the radio in Ron's car a couple of days ago and when I said as much when it was over, he told me that it was Vera Lynn. The gift card says it's from Crawford, Ron's dog. I am so touched. Ron is such a thoughtful guy and this gift shows just how much so. Michael and Brian give me a gorgeously scented gardenia candle in a glass jar with a sliver lid. My big gifts from Ron was the car rental and the money he gave me; far far more than I should have gotten, that is for sure. Geb gives me a mug that is painted black and comes with chalk so that you can write whatever you want on it. Ada gives me a towel set. Matt gives me a string of lights in the shape of crucifixes and a key chain with a picture of Jesus encased in amber. Nelson gives me tabs to mark the books of the Bible to make it easy to find them. It makes me laugh that, because I am a Christian and they know it, I get religious themed gifts. Matt tells me that he loves the lights and wishes he had a set but they were the last ones in the store. I can't exactly give them back to him but I'd like to as I find the lights a bit sacrilegious and won't be putting them up anywhere so he may as well have them.

Ron gets the flamingo tie he passed up at Brooks Brothers from Nelson. He gets a set of wooden hangers engraved with his initials from Michael. He loves the martini shaker from me. And his favourite gift is a leopard print bicycle seat from Eric. It matches his leopard print lined basket attached to the handle bars that Crawford travels in.

The sun is actually hot and there isn't a cloud in the sky. I am loving this so much. I thought I would really miss my kids today but I don't. I know they are having a good time with their grandparents, their Dad, and the rest of the family. And I feel very much at home here, strangely enough. I mean, most of these people I had never met before a few days ago yet I just love them. There is such a generous spirit among all of them and they are a lot of fun. I have been welcomed with open arms and the men have been absolute gentlemen and have treated me extremely well. I feel doted on at times, and that is something I am not used to but sure could get used to it in a hurry. It's going to be very hard leaving here. But I try not to think about that and concentrate on living in the moment and enjoying every bit of this.


I ask Nelson if he has ever been up the tram and he says he hasn't. I would really like to go and I am thinking that, if it's open today, it won't be very busy probably - it being Christmas Day. I ask him if he wants to go and he says he would love to.

Things are winding down here. The gifts are all opened, the wrapping paper and boxes are piled together, and Ron wants us all to clear out so he can get ready for the caterers. The plan is to go home, rest up a bit, and then get dressed up for the party tonight. Cocktails at seven, dinner at eight. We have about three hours so it's a perfect time to go up the mountain.

We stop off at my place so I can change into more appropriate clothing - it's cold up on that mountain, there's even snow. That done, I drive us up the long and winding road that quickly gains a thousand feet in altitude every few miles. It's a seven mile drive from the visitors center at the bottom, where I got the map yesterday, to the base station for the tram. We start to see parking lots on the way up, each have a name of an animal. We park in Grey Squirrel, the second to last one that we find - so pretty close to the base, and catch the open-air bus that travels between them up to the base. I am sitting on the end of a bench so the wind coming in from the window once we get underway is an arctic blast and I am freezing. None too soon we pile out and walk into the building. It's packed. There must be two hundred people in line waiting for the next tram. And twilight is descending. I ask the ticket agent if we will make it into a tram before dark and she says we won't. I look at Nelson. "I want to see the view, I don't want to go up in the dark." I say. Nelson agrees. So we leave and decide to come back tomorrow. Then on the drive down, as I think about it, I tell him "I am not fussed about coming back. I hate crowds and the thoughts of being in one of those trams with 79 other people isn't very tempting." He says he feels the same way so that's that then. I will leave Palm Springs without going up the mountain, a major tourist attraction (reminds me of leaving Paris without going up the Eiffel Tower - four hour line-up). But I really hate crowds.

I drop Nelson off at Ron's just as the caterers are arriving. Ron is moving his car out of the driveway so that they can park there and he gets out once it's parked at the curb and motions me to park in tight behind him. I roll down my window and tell him I am not staying, just dropping off Nelson and going home. "Fine, fine. See you at seven for cocktails then." he says and I drive off.

When I get to Bob and Ada's, more guests have arrived. Another couple with their daughter who is about 21. This is another of Ada's nieces and the mother is Ada's sister. When I catch Ada alone I ask her if they are staying the night and she confirms that they are. I ask where they will sleep? She says she will put them on the couches. I feel bad because I know they were waiting to hear if they'd have company before they said yes to me staying with them. They weren't supposed to be getting any, but now here everyone is. I tell her I am sorry and ask if she would like me to take a couch so that the couple can have my bed but she won't hear of it.

I read in my room for a bit and then get ready for the party. I brought a lovely black dress that has a plunging neckline and shows quite a bit of cleavage. I can't decide if I should wear it with a camisole or not. When I was in the BVI I wore the dress to the party I had for Ashleigh and Rob the night before the wedding and wore the camisole. A few nights later, we went out to go dancing and I didn't wear it. My kids never complained that mom was being rude, so I decide that it's not too showy and I will go sans camisole. I spend a fair bit of time getting ready, doing my hair and makeup, as this is going to be an up-scale crowd and I want to look my best.

Even taking extra time to get ready, I am ready an hour early. I don't want to sit in my room for an hour. I don't really want to intrude on the family time going on in the living area. So I decide to leave for Ron's early and visit with Michael and Nelson or whoever is there and ready for the party.

When I knock on the door, Ron answers and he is in shorts and a tee-shirt. Oh-oh. "I know I am early and I don't care." I blurt out before he can say anything. "Oh my god!!" he exclaims. "What part of 'cocktails at seven' don't you people understand?" and opens the door to reveal another guest who arrived 10 minutes before me. I walk in and am introduced to Miguel, who is at the bar pouring himself a glass of scotch. I help myself to a Malibu and Coke, and we sit on the couch and get to know one another as the caterers buzz about the kitchen and the men of the house are nowhere to be seen, getting dressed I assume. Miguel is a really sweet guy, gay of course, and I learn that he is from a city deep in Mexico, that most of his family still lives there, that he goes back to visit every couple of years, and that he owns a vintage furniture shop here in town. As we get acquainted, slowly the men start to appear. First Nelson, then Michael, then Eric, Brian and finally Ron. Soon other guests start to appear and the party is in full swing.

The guys have done an amazing job of the back yard. It's all lit with strings of lights and spot lights. The outside bar has candles lit, as does each table. It's gorgeous. There are two large patio heaters keeping it nice and toasty out there and the guests spill out onto the chairs grouped around the pool. Soon the caterers are ready, and so Ron and Eric get behind the bar and Ron makes his annual Christmas speech. He keeps it short with a welcome to everyone here, and tells us how - because this past year has been so abysmal for all of us in film - this party almost never happened. But then, at the eleventh hour, he got his first movie - his only movie - of 2009 from Disney and that enabled him to keep things as they should be at Eight-Oh-One. He raises a glass to us all and to a better year to come, and then declares that 'dinner is served'.

It's a buffet-style meal so we get in line and help ourselves to a marvelous turkey and ham dinner. I keep to turkey as that means Christmas to me. It's a delicious meal and as I sit at the bar to eat it, Paul sits with me. Paul is someone I have only known from Ron's FaceBook page. He was in training as a butler last year and now he is with a wealthy family in Ontario. I have a wonderful time getting to know him, and I just love him. He has a great sense of humour and has a way about him that is very endearing. Why is it that all the most charming, funny and sweet men have to be gay? It's such a waste of a good man. I could get very discouraged by it if I wasn't having such a great time.

There's an actor at the party that I haven't seen for a year since I worked with him on one of Ron's movies. I also worked with him at the very beginning of my career as a script supervisor. I am delighted that he's there and give him a huge hug when I see him. He tells me that I look stunning and that he sees that 'I brought the girls along' as he nods to my chest. For a second I am mortified and then I brush it off and laugh and say 'they always come along, they just always don't get to come out.' and he laughs. It's the only reference anyone makes to my daring choice, although I do get told a few times by both women and men that I look stunning or gorgeous. It does wonders for my self confidence even though I don't believe I look that good. I am still packing way too many excess pounds for that.

Ron's sister has a reputation at these parties for getting a little too tipsy and breaking glass. Apparently a couple of years ago she broke, not one but two Tiffany wine glasses. Since then, they don't come out of the cupboard when Jane is around. Because it never fails that she breaks glasses, she is under orders to use only plastic cups. She is sitting near me, holding her drink high in an orange plastic mug, and talking with a friend sitting beside her. I look over at her just in time to see the mug slip through her fingers and land squarely on top of a glass her friend just placed on the floor. It shatters loudly and everyone within earshot looks over. "Ooops." Jane sheepishly says. Ron comes over to investigate and stops in exasperation. "Oh my god!!" he exclaims, "A plastic cup and you still managed to break a glass." He goes for the brush and dustpan and cleans up the glass as Jane totters off to find another drink. Not ten minutes later Matt notices that she is drinking from a glass. "Isn't Jane banned from using glass?" he asks his friend... and as they watch the glass slips from her fingers and shatters on the floor. "Yep," his friend replies, "and that is why."

At about nine thirty over half the guests have left. What?! This is a Hollywood crowd. I thought these people partied until the wee hours of the morning? By ten, everyone is gone except for me and those staying at Ron's. "Where did everyone go?" I ask, "I thought this party would go to at least one." Michael pats the spot beside him on the couch. "Come sit by me, Sandypants." he says. He has taken to calling me that and I think it's sweet. I go sit by him and he puts his arm around me and pulls me close. "We are all getting old and this is the result." he says. "Well I am the oldest person here," I say, "and I sure am not ready for the party to be over." We sit like that for a while and talk a bit about the day and how wonderful it was as Nelson cleans up the bar and Ron putters about the kitchen. Eric has passed out in the bedroom from exhaustion and Crawford the dog is curled up beside him. Brian sits in the chair by the fire. I think perhaps Brian is older than I am. Michael says he believes it's the best Christmas he's had in Palm Springs thus far and he is so happy I am here. He tells me I have to make it an annual event and, although I have kids and can't imagine not spending Christmas with them year after year, I think he might be right. I might have to make this trip my new Christmas tradition.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I am not a fruit eater. I like berries and the rest I like in a pie. That's about it. But I decide I have to try an orange straight off the tree. So I go out and pick one and bring it back to the kitchen and slice it into segments. It's so incredibly juicy that I have to eat it over the sink. And the taste is like no orange I have ever had... sweet and full of flavour.

Today the plan is to head over to the huge outlet mall for more last minute shopping with Nelson. I don't really have anything I need to buy, although Michael mentioned getting my gift there today so now I am thinking I need to buy everyone a gift. But I have no idea what everyone likes, I just met them all. And I don't want to blow through the money I have. I don't know what to do so I decide to go and just see when I get there. Even if I don't buy anything, apparently it's worth going just to see how huge it is.

I drive and Nelson figures out the route there on the GPS that Bob has loaned me for the duration of my stay. It's pretty much a straight line on one road between where I am staying and Ron's place, but the first time he tried to explain it to me, I was already confused... I get turned around so easily. So Bob took his GPS out of his truck and now I have it and it's been great. I love those things. I used one in my rental car in Florida to find my way to Key Largo and it took all the stress out of the drive. I hate driving somewhere I haven't been before if I am alone.

We get there in short order and Nelson is dying for a coffee so we hit Starbucks first and sit outside in the sunshine and chat for a bit. He is eager to get going so we agree to meet back in two hours and he heads off. I stay for a while longer to soak up some sunshine. It's December 24th and here I sit in nothing but jeans, a tank top and a light sweater and I am warm. Amazing.

The outlet mall is HUGE. It is spread across a couple of roads and is the size of three big malls. I wander from store to store, trying to figure out what I would buy everyone. I am not making any headway. Then I go into a large kitchen shop, Le Gourmet Chef, that has a lot of gourmet food. There are samples to try and I find a couple of dips that are out of this world. One in particular. So I decide to buy some dips and a huge bag of gourmet pretzel sticks, and take that to Ron's for everyone to eat tonight. That will be my gift. I love the idea. That done, I wander about the shops some more but I am really not into it. I hate shopping, to tell the truth. I am the sort that goes when I know what I need - make a beeline for where I can get it - and then get out. I find it exhausting to browse and after an hour I am pretty much done. Today is no different. As I am thinking I will head back to that bench in the sunshine, I run into Shaw and Brian. Shaw joins me and I tell him I would like to find a bookstore (as I am thinking I would still like to get something for Michael and I know just the book) so we scout around with no success and finally go into a store to ask where to find one. Turns out there are no bookstores here. Wow. Hundreds upon hundreds of shops and not one bookstore? Apparently there used to be one a couple of years ago but it closed down. What a sad commentary that is on the American lifestyle. We wander about some more and I can't believe that I am in the company of this incredibly handsome man and I am enjoying it while it lasts. Although, I figure everyone is thinking, what is SHE doing with HIM. They probably think he's my son. I hate being old.

All too soon Shaw is wanting to find some jeans so he goes off on his own and I go to the bench in the sunshine. I buy a cinnamon pretzel and go get my water bottle from the car and sit down. Little birds suddenly join me, all about my feet, and I realize they are eying my pretzel so I toss bits of it to them between bites. They end up getting almost as much of it as I do.

I get a text from Nelson saying he will be another hour. I can't stay here another hour. I want to get back so I text him and say I am done. He texts back and says he will catch a ride with Michael and Brian so I am free to go. I head back to Palm Springs and stop at the Visitors Center. I want to see some of the homes owned by the stars in years gone by and there's a map available for a couple of dollars here. I buy it and drive into town to see what I can find.

I had told Ron I wanted to see Liberace's house and he drove me past it yesterday. It was right behind that little courtyard I was in on the day I wandered around town and I had no idea. So that is the first place I drive to so I can take some photos of it. I pull into an empty parking lot right across the street from the house and jump out of the car with my camera and take a few shots. I used to have a book by Liberace that was all about this house and how he decorated it. I can't remember much but I do recall that the place seemed a whole lot bigger inside than it looks from the street. I get back in the car and drive around to the side of the house to see how far it goes back and it goes back quite a ways. I can't see much over the wall other than the roof and a small tower in the center. The house next door was also owned by Liberace and was where his mother stayed when visiting.

I pull out the map and head over the main road to the area called Movie Colony. I find another house there owned by Liberace and it was where his brother George stayed when in town. I guess he liked his family close but not too close. There's a cool mailbox in the shape of a grand piano at the end of the driveway and a few Greecian-type statues at the front of the house. I wish I could see inside these places.

I drive around some more trying to find more places on the map. I find Hedy Lamarr's house and the first house owned by Frank Sinatra. But I am finding it challenging to drive, follow the map, look for addresses, and see what I want to see so I give up and decide to come back with Nelson as navigator, or better yet, come back with Ron driving so I can take photos.

I drive to Bob and Ada's and decide I need a nap. I am worn out. I figure I will sleep light so don't set an alarm. I wake up with barely enough time to get ready... I slept like a log. I see to my hair and makeup, dress up a bit, and when I walk into the living area, Bob is watching White Christmas on the TV and Ada is gathering bags and bags of gifts together to take to Ron's tonight.

I gather all of the gifts I have and just as we are loading everything into the truck, Eric calls and says that they are still out shopping so to come an hour later than planned. So we go back in the house to watch the end of White Christmas on the telly. The hour goes by fast and soon we are in the truck and driving across town to Ron's.

When we get there, Ron is busy in the kitchen making pasta. It seems so strange to see him working like this. I am used to seeing him sitting in his directors chair, people at his beck and call, and him - working hard at directing - but never doing more physical work than picking up his iPod out of the little portable stereo dock and spinning the wheel to select the next group of songs for us all to listen to while the lighting guys are working. In the past few days I have seen him up a ladder, sweeping the sidewalk, tidying his house, doing dishes, and now cooking. It's kind of the same feeling I had when I discovered, somewhere back in grade three, that my teacher didn't live at school and had a family and another life.

I tell Ron about the dips and pretzels and ask if he'd like them out now or wait for tomorrow. The appetizers he put out are pretty much gone so he's very happy I have more and tells me to put them out. I go about doing that as everyone is bustling about putting gifts under the tree, hugging, laughing, and generally having a fabulous time. I tell Ron to try the wasabi ginger dip and he does and loves it. I hear him later telling people to try it, it's amazing. And it is. I wish I had bought a jar to bring home with me. I also bought a dip called 'Dirty Martini' and it's a cream cheese concoction and is yummy.

Soon we are sitting about the place with plates of pasta and salad on our knees and having a great time. Nelson is playing bartender and making sure everyone has a drink. The night goes by very quickly and it seems way too soon when Bob tells me that they are ready to leave. I reluctantly get my coat and hug my goodbye's.

It is alarmingly cold outside at night and tonight it feels like it's almost freezing. We shiver our way to the truck and I look up to see a perfect sliver of silver moon suspended in an indigo sky above the inky black outline of the mountains. There are no street lights allowed in Palm Springs so that one can see the stars. It's breathtaking.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It's Wednesday morning and Ron said he'd be here between ten and ten thirty to pick up Ada and me for the annual trip into Hollywood to go Christmas shopping at The Grove. Ada heads out with Bob to Eric's shop and says that she will get Ron to pick her up there, so I wait alone. I am ready a bit early so I go sit outside the front door on a rocking bench seat to enjoy the sunshine. The view is so pretty... the citrus fruit trees, of which there are twenty-five on the property, the tall palm tree in the yard and the mountains in the distance.

After about an hour of waiting I send Ron a text asking if he forgot me and he says he will be by in thirty minutes. I decide to take some photos of the property and the inside of the house, so I won't ever forget it. This house used to be owned by Patrick Macnee of the 1960's TV show, The Avengers. It's a spacious rancher with a lovely interior and spectacular grounds. There's even an outdoor kitchen.

An hour later and still no Ron, so I go inside and bag all of the Skor bar I made into individual zip-lock bags and then put each one in a tiny gift bag. I write 'Merry Christmas ~ Sandra' on each one and put them into two large bags. Then I go back outside to wait.

Two and three quarter hours after I was supposed to be picked up, I hear a car pull up, the doors open, and Nelson's laugh. I gather my jacket and purse, lock the front door, and we are on our way.

We stop off and pick up Ada and Eric at the shop, and after a quick stop for gas and some munchies we are finally, FINALLY on our way. Yippee!!

It's a long drive in to LA and not at all what I was expecting. I had visualized a long road winding through barren desert with cacti and some wild life. Instead it's a freeway passing by strip mall after subdivision after junkyard. Soon we see smog on the horizon and I comment that we must be getting close.

I see the HOLLYWOOD sign and excitedly let everyone in the car know. I take some photos of it and before long, we are somewhere I remember being back in the 90's... CBS studios (I went with my husband at the time to be in the audience for The Price is Right. Despite said ex being in a crabby mood, it was a lot of fun for me). And across the street is The Grove! We park on the roof of the parking lot and take a moment to enjoy the three hundred and sixty degree view and take some photos. Then it's downstairs to meet up with Michael, Brian, Janey and Scott. But I am going to have to split off from the group right away and keep an arrangement to meet up with a guy who is also taking the same online screenwriting course that I am. I made the arrangement a couple of weeks ago. He has been texting me all morning about the time to meet, where to meet, how to get to The Grove, which 'Grove' is it (there's more than one?) etc, etc. I finally turn my phone off as it's costing me a lot to keep texting him back. That and the fact that I don't want to miss a moment with Ron and everyone else has me wondering if this was such a good idea. I especially want to go into the Italian restaurant we are all headed to right now for a bite of lunch as I am starving. But before I can take a moment to duck in with them to at least meet Michael, who is waiting for us inside with Brian, the fellow is at my side. I had spotted him just before he spotted Ron and me from across the crowd and I'd hoped he'd just wait there for me, but he didn't waste a second coming over to introduce himself to everyone. I have a really bad feeling about how this is going to go. Movie people, especially directors and producers and such, are very wary of strangers who know what they do and want to 'meet' them. Everyone wants something from them and so you learn that there is an expected code of conduct and to just put your hand out and introduce yourself before they make the first move isn't welcomed. I cringe both inside and out, tell the gang I will see them later, and start to head away. The guy finishes shaking hands with everyone and then follows me.

He doesn't want to go find a coffee shop until he finds his kids, so we stand around for ten minutes or so as he scans the crowd for them. He says 'hi' to me again an it's awkward. I am feeling like I just want this to be over. But, once he finds his kids and they head off again, we get a drink and sit on the rail by the fountain and spend about an hour talking about the course and other stuff we'd talked about online and it goes really well. He's a nice guy and he's got a good heart - he did redo my website for me for free - and I like him. But finally I say I should get going, I am anxious to meet up with everyone, and so we say goodbye and I head off to look around the shops a bit.

I am seeing a lot of little girls with Pleasant Company dolls and I am beginning to think there might be a PC store around somewhere. Sure enough, I find it almost right away and I am awed as I go inside. My girls each used to pour over the American Girls catalogue and, once we moved to Seattle, I bought each of them a doll and a lot of their accessories. The girls always wanted to visit a store so that they could take their dolls out for tea in the tea room. But there was no store in Seattle. I take out my camera and take pictures to show them later. On the second floor there is an area that has a 'room' dedicated to each doll. I walk around looking for Samantha and Kirsten's, the dolls my girls have. I can't find them. So I ask a clerk and she tells me that both of the dolls have been discontinued. I am so surprised, and disappointed that I can't take a photo. The woman tells me that those two dolls and their accessories are much coveted and are worth five to ten times what I paid for them if you put them on eBay. Wow. I decide I have to call Shonah and tell her where I am and when I do she laughs and says 'really?!'. Then I tell her what her doll is worth and she is shocked but says she would never sell her. I am glad. I always envisioned their daughters discovering them in a box somewhere and playing with them one day.

After an hour or so of browsing around, I send Ron a text and ask where he is. He tells me that they are still all at the restaurant and to come on over. So I head over and see them all sitting at a table outside. It's just getting dark and it's cold out but there are heaters all around the patio so it's cozy. I finally get to meet Michael and he looks exactly like he does in his FaceBook photos. It's so great to finally see him in person. I catch him looking at me and he smiles and says that I look so much better in person than I do in my photos and that there's a lovely 'softness' about my face and that "you're quite lovely. Really." He is so sincere and I am very flattered. I thank him and he tells me he means it. We sit around the large circular table for the next hour or so and I get to know everyone. There's Shaw, a tall and extremely handsome young man of thirty or so - who insists on taking off his jacket and draping it around my shoulders, Ron's sister Jane and her husband Scott, and a lovely lady I recognize from Christmas past photos on Ron's FaceBook page. She works across the street at CBS and popped over for a bit. We munch on appetizers, Ron orders me a Malibu and Coke, and there's lots of conversation, sometimes more than one going at a time, lots of laughter, and I feel supremely happy and content. I haven't felt this good in months.

Everyone still has some shopping to do so Ron and Jane take off together to find something, Nelson and I go off in another direction and we all agree to meet up in half an hour by the fountain. We end up bumping into Ron and the three of us browse and shop together until it's time to meet everyone else. It's now fully dark out and the lights on the trees amaze me - one in particular. Every single branch is wrapped in lights and the effect is breathtaking. The fountain is lit and the water dances in time to the music. The giant Christmas tree, the biggest I have ever seen in my life, is spectacular. The entire place is like a wonderland.

Apparently, someone spied Josh Groban shopping in Barnes and Noble earlier in the day, with his family. I am so bummed I didn't see him... although on second thoughts it's probably for the best as I would have had to say hello and what a huge fan I am and how I've been to every concert he's had in Vancouver and would he mind singing something for me (ok, maybe not that)... basically a make a total fool of myself.

Eventually, we make our way over to the agreed meeting place. Once we all are gathered, and it takes a while as people keep escaping, we head to our cars, stop to take some photos from the roof down to the Christmas display, and then to drive to Musso and Frank for dinner. It's a great old Hollywood landmark and many famous people frequented the place back in the day. A quote from the website: In the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s, the golden years in Hollywood, almost everyone in the entertainment business dined or drank at Musso and Frank. Through the years, waiters served Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Cesar Romero and many more. But the restaurant was also known for it’s clientele of famous writers. The famous back room was home to William Saroyan, John Fante, Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, William Falkner, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and many more.

Ron tells me, as we wait for our drinks, that Humphrey Bogart sat at the back where we are seated now, and that Clark Gable used to sit at the bar. The place hasn't changed at all over the years, apparently, and even a few of the waiters have been here for 50 plus years. I bask in the history as I sit there.

I order a steak and when it comes, it is the best steak I have had in my life. I like mine done medium well and it melts in my mouth.

All too soon it's time to leave and head back into Palm Springs. But first we make a stop at a graphic novel and comic book store for Nelson. We spend about half an hour in there and then get on our way. I am sad to leave Hollywood behind because I don't know when I will be back... it was 13 years since the last time. I hope it won't be that long 'till the next.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Bingo is at a bar called Alibi over a restaurant called Azul and when we arrive, there's about 30 people ready to play. We get two cards each and we're off! It's not like normal Bingo - not that I go out to play it ever, the only other time I did was when I was staying with a cousin in England who's a Bingo nut - this Bingo you have to match it in a pattern. It takes me a few minutes to get the hang of it.

The guy calling the numbers is the owner of the place and every half hour or so he offers a smoking special on either drinks or appys. One dollar shots... twenty five cent quesidilla slices... that sort of thing. So we add those to the drinks we already have and it all adds up to a very fun evening. I win a pair of thick black gloves lined with fleece, men's, so give them to Bob and he loves them.

There's a lot of good looking men playing bingo but, unfortunately, they're all gay. It's something I will discover about this town. Lot's of handsome men... all gay.

It's Tuesday morning and I head over to Ron's at about 10 to see what the boys are up to. Ron and Nelson are going to the gym so I decide to explore the downtown street and we will meet up later for lunch and after, head up the mountain on the tram. Ron gave me a bit of a tour through town yesterday so I know where I want to start out... a charming little corner called 'Coffees' where there is, funnily enough, a coffee shop and then a group of shops with a courtyard in the back that Ron says is quite lovely.

I go into a store first called Just Fabulous and spend some time browsing the cards and the great books they have on Palm Springs and the ones on old Hollywood movie stars like Grace Kelley and Frank Sinatra. There's also a lot of risque books and cards, fridge magnets, etc. that I guess appeal to the gay crowd. There's also a super annoying sales woman who won't leave me alone and every book I pick up elicits a commentary from her on how great it is and how I need to buy it. I end up leaving a lot sooner than I would have liked to because she is so annoying. I buy a small book for my friend who just had a birthday - 'Things to Do Now You're 60' - she will love it. I also get a couple of thank you cards for when I leave.

I saunter on through to the back of the place and, sure enough, it's lovely. There's a small grassy area with chairs and tables scattered about for people to sit and enjoy each others company while sipping on beverages, and at the back there's an adobe wall with a couple of beautiful doors behind a wrought iron gate, with a small fountain to one side and lush plants everywhere. I snap a few photos and then continue on down South Palm Canyon Drive to more shops.

I stroll into one that sells moccasin shoes just to see how much they are. I used to wear nothing but moccasins or a certain type of leather sandal popular in the seventies in the summer as a teen, and I still recall how comfy the moc's were. As I am browsing, a very interesting looking old man comes in the store and has a chat with the owner. We both exit the store at the same time and I comment to him on how windy it has suddenly gotten and that I heard on the TV this morning that it's supposed to get up to sixty-five miles an hour. We end up walking to a bit of a sheltered spot and then chatting for the next fifteen minutes. He tells me his name is Ernie Montes (he gives me a business card before we part and it says Ernest Y. Montes) and that everyone in Palm Springs knows him. He has lived here all of his adult life and is a building contractor who did mostly painting. He has painted the homes of all the big stars that ever lived here and has a lot of stories. He also fought in the war with General Patton until he was wounded on D Day. He suggests that he buys me a coffee and that we continue to chat out of the wind. I readily agree and we go sit inside a little coffee shop just down the block. I am sitting here listening to the stories he tells and wondering if they are all true or what. He tells me that he lives now in a home that was owned by Frank Sinatra ('Ron would love to hear this', I think), that he's been married to the same woman for sixty-six years, and that the nicest person he ever worked for was a movie star who worked in the silent films with Valentino called Alistaria Ingalls (when I look her up later, I can't find any such person). We spend about another hour together and I am so happy I met this guy. It's moments like this that no money can buy.... meeting interesting people and listening to their stories. Before we part ways, he wants to trade a bracelet he's wearing for anything I might have. I scramble through my purse but there's nothing there to trade; I gave it a cleaning out before I left for the trip. So I pull two thin silver colored bangles off of my wrist and he is happy. He feels it leaves each of us with a bit of the spirit of the other. Once outside the coffee shop, he is reluctant to leave and keeps coming back for another hug. Finally, he goes one way and I go the other to continue exploring the town.

When I meet up with Ron, it's been decided that it is too windy to go up the tram today so we pile into his car (over my protests that I will get a parking ticket and Ron's assurances that I won't) and head out of town to Palm Desert. There's some shops there and Ron needs to buy a Kitchen Aid mixer for Eric's mom. And he wants to take us to lunch at Tommy Bahamas. On the way he pulls down his visor and a red envelope falls out. "Well, what have we here?" he says and then reads my name on it and hands it to me. I open it and it's a Christmas card with a woman turning the lights on at the Christmas tree and the caption reads "This tree isn't the only thing getting lit tonight." Inside is a wad of US cash and a note saying 'NOT A WORD! - Love Daddy-O'. I look over at Ron in shock and he won't let me say anything, so I just say 'Thank you... thank you so much.' and it seems so inadequate. Now I won't have to worry about paying for my meals or buying a few Christmas gifts and a thank you gift for Bob and Ada. It is amazing what having money will do for ones stress level.

When we get to the restaurant, we take a seat at the bar and I excuse myself to go to the ladies room. When I come back there's a cocktail waiting for me called 'frostbite' and it's delicious. When I open the menu, the meals are all named for Caribbean Islands and there's one called Tortola Tortilla Soup, and one called Saba Steak Salad. SIGH... takes me back. Nelson and I decide to split the San Juan Coconut Shrimp appetizer and then I order a chicken dish (can't recall the name). The coconut shrimp are more like prawns and are delicious.

After lunch we head to the kitchen shop for the mixer and then over to Brooks Brothers where Ron buys a pair of pink pants with little blue flamingos embroidered all over them. At first look, I thought they were pajamas. He buys a matching pair of socks, blue with pink flamingos, and passes on the matching tie. Then we head over to Crate and Barrel where, while Ron goes off to find Nelson, I buy him a Christmas present - a martini shaker that has a clear plastic body with sparkles in between two layers, kind of like a snow globe. When you shake the martini, the sparkles float all around the thing.

It's dark when we head back into town and when we pull up to my car, there's a parking ticket under the wiper. I am dismayed and as I climb out of Ron's car I hear Ron say "Give it to me. Nelson, go get it and give it to me." He does.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Up at 3:30 am after not being able to sleep because the spare bed was just a mattress on the floor and still covered in the plastic I had on it while stored. I didn't have any sheets or quilts unpacked for it so just used a couple of throw blankets. My daughter and her hubby are tucked into my bed and that is as it should be as they both have to go to work after dropping me at the airport in Bellingham at 5:30am.

The flight down is uneventful, although cold sitting by the window, and it's great to see Ron and Nelson as I wait for my bags to appear on the carousel. As soon my bags are in the car we zip over to the BEAUTIFUL home I will be staying in for the next 6 nights. As we pull up to the walled property, I see a huge yellow ball hanging from a tree. "What is that?" I ask Ron. "A grapefruit." he replies. "No way!" The thing is as big as a 5 pin bowling ball. He proceeds to tell me that there are orange, lemon and grapefruit trees all over the property. I am delighted and amazed.

The homeowners aren't home so we drop my bags in my lovely 'red room' and I hang a few of my nicer clothes up in the closet before Ron whisks Nelson and me away for Mexican food for lunch.

He pulls up at a restaurant in the heart of town and I love the look of the place... all adobe with palapa-type roofing. We walk up to a grass-roofed bar and each take a stool. Ron orders us each a Margarita. When they come they are enormous! We raise a glass to each other and order our meals. The bartender puts warm tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa in front of each of us and I remember why I love eating Mexican food in the states so much. I could make this my meal, it's that delicious.

As we eat, I ask Ron if there's anything I can do to help him get ready for Christmas, as he just arrived two days ago from shooting a movie in Toronto for the past three months. He tells us that he wants to get the lights up on the outside of the house so I tell him to put us to work. Once lunch is over, we head to his house.

His place is a lovely home on one level, as most Palm Springs houses are, and is a much coveted Alexander home - designed by Robert and George Alexander in the early 60's.

We drag out the stepladder, four boxes of LED lights, and one box containing a big snowflake that lights up. I undo the first string of lights and we get a system going where Nelson holds the ladder, I pass up the clips and feed the string of lights to Ron up on the ladder. We start at the west corner by the garage and I hand little plastic clips up to Ron. The clips have one end that clips onto the flashing and the other end has a clip to slide the string of lights into. After about 20 minutes of work we are close to the peak of the roof and I make the point that we may not have enough lights. It seems to me that the peak is not in the center and that there is more on the side we haven't lit than the side we have, and we are half way through our lights. I suggest we may need another string. Ron disagrees and climbs down off of the ladder, and as Nelson moves it over, steps back to take a look at what we've done so far and lets the end of the string of lights he's holding drop to the ground. As we stand there and look, suddenly the weight of the string hanging down pulls the string overhead out of the first hook and then... with a quiet 'tick, tick, tick' the rest of the clips let go of the lights right across the whole half we just finished. At the end, they hang off of the last clip for a second or so, and then that one lets go and they all hit the ground. We are, all three, frozen for a moment, and then Ron turns to us and says "Well then." And we start to laugh. For me it was the kind of laughter where you can't get a breath and the tears flow. Still laughing, Ron walked back to the beginning and Nelson followed with the ladder while I remained doubled over, I just couldn't get a grip. It was something right out of a movie, although it would take forever to set that up, and the visual was replaying in my head. Even later that night as I was falling asleep in bed, I started to laugh again just thinking about it.

Ron rented me a car at the airport for my Christmas present and so we pile into it with Ron at the wheel and drive over to another car rental place and Ron gets himself a car. He doesn't drive one when home, he rides his bike and just rents a car whenever he needs it. Once we have that, I follow him back to the house I am staying in, his boyfriends parents place, and I get to meet Bob and Ada, my hosts. They are so welcoming and kind to me, and I just love them on sight. Ron and Nelson leave to run some errands and I settle into my room before it's time to leave with Bob and Ada and meet back up with the boys for BINGO!

All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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