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...

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.
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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