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...

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.

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