Most mornings in the past month or so we have heard a couple of owls calling from a tree right behind our coach here in Jojoba Hills SKP Resort. At 5:30 or 6 in the morning I am not likely to jump out of bed and run outside to look for them. Recently I have heard them at dusk when sitting quiet. Usually by the time I react it is too dark for viewing or photos. A few days a go I went out, without a camera and before I could see them I spooked them into flying off, it was a pretty sight, but brief and no camera.

This afternoon I heard them and grabbed my Cannon G16 and ran out the door. Here are two photos of one of the two owls:
The other owl flew off while Carol and I were watching, we never saw it until it took wing. You can enlarge the images by clicking on them.

It would appear that some part of our world is not affected directly by the insanity in our government. 


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Thinking Too Much

I am the grandson of an immigrant from a despised country. My paternal grandfather left Russia, or more likely Belarus in today’s terms to seek a better life in America. He landed here in 1905 and got work in Rochester NY in the men’s clothing industry. He was a cutter, the first step in the process of making a coat is to cut the pattern from the raw material. Eventually he started his own shop cutting men’s coats. The story is long and convoluted and not particularly germane to the next step, My grandmother came over and met him and they married and had my father, Emanuel (Mannie).  Mannie got a Bachelors Degree and Master of Science in Chemistry from the University of Rochester. After serving  in the army in England in WWII, which was after I was born, he started up a a couple of businesses. Ultimately he created Nalge Co to manufacture plastic bottles and other equipment for laboratories of all sorts. You may be familiar with the Nalgene Water Bottle so many people carry around. That was a byproduct of the business. 

His siblings went on to degrees as well, his sister became a nurse and served on the hospital trains from the front in the European Theater and his younger brother graduated from PT Boat training as the war ended. He went on to get a PhD in Physics and has had a remarkable career, he continues to attend meetings now into his 90’s 

Mannie’s two children have advanced degrees and have continued to contribute to the welfare of the communities they belong to. The grandchildren sport PhD’s and and their own successful enterprises. Needless to say the country would be poorer in some small measure had Isadore Goldberg, nee Sklaroff, been prevented from immigrating because he came from a “shit hole” country. 

Another point, drive through Appalachia and you will find people living in conditions no better than those other places he was condemning. Coal miners work the mines because there is no other work for them, not because they love the mines. Take a tour of a mine that has been cleaned up for tourism and tell me how much you would have to be paid to spend your working life down there, and a short life it would be. Read about life in Appalachia and tell me that immigrants from there would be welcome in the country envisioned by him.

I have avoided politics in this blog for a long time. I cannot be silent like the Republican leadership, I cannot contain myself any longer.


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That Season

The Solstice approaches and the days continue to shorten. Holidays pile on and make their demands. We too make changes and take in new opportunities. 

In addition to all my other activities and Jojoba Hills (reminder those are Spanish “j”s pronounced like “h”s)  I have joined the hiking group. I went on my first hike with them on 12/12 and survived. It was supposed to be a 7 mile hike, but through some missed turns it was more like 8 or 9 miles depending on whose pedometer one chooses to believe. Mine said ten!  Here’s the gang gathered at the picnic table that marked the missed turn and our lunch stop:

After lunch we decided to continue on for a bit and we started getting to view like this which justified the increasing tiredness in my legs:

We had some excitement when we came across a buck lying in the brush. He got up and starting running in circles. It became clear he was injured and soon we were able to see that he had injured one eye and kept turning toward that side. We felt almost as threatened as him and backed off quickly. As always it is hard to see animals injured in the wild and know that there is nothing to be done. 

In the mean time, since I have nothing to occupy my time I have taken up wood carving. Billy Outlaw, yes that is his name and he is our immediate neighbor, is a fine carver and teacher. My first project is a bear and I am working from another carver’s finished product, as you can see I have a ways to go:

I am still making myself visible at every event and gathering in the Park as I pursue the Board seat. I am having fun doing it and last night Carol and I went to a Park Dinner Dance and were up and dancing a lot with Valley Winds Big Band playing. 

We also have made another addition to our site with wonderful screens on the awning so we can block the hot sun in its season and the wind in its current season.   

You can see it reducing the sun glare 🙂 The screens can be all the way down or up or one position in between about 6 feet off the ground. Next we have to have the site remodeled a bit for better traffic flow. 

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Some Excitement

Top news is we have a high wind warning. Santa Ana Winds at 35 to 40 gusts to 50 and maybe a rare one to 80mph! I have stowed the chairs in the shed and battened down everything else. The coach can be ready to roll in 15 minutes and the Jeep is good to go.  The alert includes fire warnings as you might imagine. I was just outside and it is mild and breezy at the moment.

We are in Jojoba Hills Election season. Tueday and Wednesday we had 3 forums of candidates – that’s me – for the Board. Each afternoon I got to move among 3 tables of members and address them with my credentials and goals and answer their questions for 25 minutes. Some one referred to it as speed dating. With some guidance from a friend I prepared handouts:

P3  Paul’s Plans for Progress 

The card has three bullet points  which helped to guide the discussions and questions i was asked.  I have Park emergency numbers on the back of the card.

A day later: High wind warning are still on and there are fires visible from our park. 

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Staying Put

It looks like we will be staying put in Jojoba Hills through January. There is nothing wrong with us or the coach. We haven’t made any travel plans and we both have committed to working for the good of the community. Carol is running for Vice Chair of Hilltoppers, our social organization. So far she has no competition. She also is instrumental in getting our internal emergency support system running. I am running for Board of Directors of the corporation. There are four of us running for 3 open seats. The election is February 1, for both organizations. We are both working at the committees we chose to become involved with. I admit I enjoy organizational work and find it interesting and challenging, more so than carving wooden figures which I have also started to do. 

Yechiel likes to call me daily during one of his drives. He has found it is difficult to find a moment when I am not engaged in some activity the precludes a lengthy conversation. The most common afternoon activity is Bridge, it is possible to get a game almost any day in the card room.  Even early in the morning – early being a relative term – I can be found with the tech crew having coffee and reviewing the complaints about TV, Internet or Phone that have been called in since our previous meeting. We choose up teams and go off to see if we can solve the problem, usually with good success.

Thursdays I organize breakfast with ROMEO  at a local restaurant. We carpool about 30 minutes away and have a fine time repeating the same jokes and stories we have told every week. Oh, ROMEO stands for Retired (Really) Old Men Eating Out.   

All in all it makes for a busy day without golf or Pickle Ball. I know this seems rather placid compared to our usual running around the world and country, but we do enjoy it. Also the local politics are interesting. The late Alan Bernstein Jr taught me many years ago that organizing groups of people to achieve good ends is a sport that can be rewarding in itself. Until then I just did it because I thought I supposed to.

Thanksgiving in Borrego Springs

We are settled in to Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort for four nights. Miriam and Yechiel  are just a few miles away in a rental house they have with a friend. This makes five adults and three teenagers. We are outnumbered. This is especially true since one of the teens is female, not a category Carol and I have much experience with. 

I am grateful that I am able to share this experience with the love of my life, Carol, and we can still enjoy a drive in the coach and time with family. That we both enjoy so many things we do together and many things that we each find enjoyable on our own. Although we thrive on family and community, we also are really fine just being alone together. 

I am grateful that we live in a country where our life style is possible.  While we do not agree with much of what our government is doing we are free to express our thoughts and beliefs and are not compelled to express our fealty to the administration. We have seen the other side of that coin in our travels to places where that is not true as we see in Zimbabwe, which we visited last year and other places in Central Asia which we visited even more recently. When I really get depressed about our government I think about where in the world I might be happier with the government. The only place that comes close is Canada. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Enjoy your feast and the people you share it with, we will!

Too Long Between Posts

Since we landed in Jojoba Hills it seems we have been on the run.  We have both thrown ourselves into our activities as if we had never left. I won’t recount every committee meeting or get together as much because I can’t remember as it would be a total bore. I am running for the board of directors, as if that would surprise anyone, and Carol is reactivating our 4911 service which provides a park member, trained in CPR with an AED, on call when 911 is called to assist while waiting for First Responders to arrive. We have spent a day in Los Angeles with our family there as well. I get tired just thinking of all we have done. Oh yes, I have been playing Bridge 

The weather has gone from midsummer highs in the high 90’s to Fall with highs in the 60’s with no intermediate. The sunsets continue to be wonderful.

This view is from the pool deck looking over Palomar Mountain taken during Happy Hour in our newly updated covered patio.  If you follow me on FaceBook ,  you have seen this image.

Our next “move” will be to Borrego Springs for Thanksgiving with Yechiel and family and Miriam Katz family. That will have us out of the park for four days.  We have been exploring the candy store offered by OAT but with two trips scheduled already we are taking it slow for a bit.  

As I look back over posts from years ago it appears we have become a bit more sedentary. However, in those days we were spending a lot of time in Rochester and our RV journeys were just that journeys.  We plan to mostly stay in Jojoba Hills this winter and resume travel in May to Ireland. The plan is, as always, subject to change.

Man Plans and God Laughs – Settling In

It has been a very busy couple of days since I posted last. We decided to press on a bit after we left Las Cruces with the cracked windshield. I thought to stop at Pilots Knob, BLM land just into California, for the last night on the road.  Another cliche “the best  laid plans” are modified by Road Repair.  Some genius closed two exits off I 8 just after entering California, one of them being the exit we were counting on and the immediate following exit so that an easy return was not to be achieved. We got off at Grays Well Road Imperial Sand Dunes Park. This is adjacent to the border with Mexico and is a wonderful playground for people with noisy motorized sand toys.  Darkness did not stop them, but by 10:30 PM most were sitting at their campfires or tucked it. We took our favorite road The Imperial Highway aka S2 through Anza Borrego and on to CA 79 and home.

Pulling into our site was easy after a month of nightmares about how we would be able to get back in with the new hard awning. With me guiding from the ground, Carol eased it into place like the pro driver she is. We were greeted by Diane and Al as we dismounted to size up the entry and waited until Monday to have an evenings Happy Hour with them. The coach is set up for extended living, until Thanksgiving anyhow. The new windshield is on order, new batteries have been installed in the golf cart (not planned – but) and we  are settling into life. That means I have been to three meetings and Carol also and I haven’t gotten to play bridge, yet. Outdoor work is curtailed by extreme heat – about 100 as I write – and high winds bringing the threat of fire, not to be ignored in these parts.

It has been great fun reconnecting with our Jojoba Hills Community. At the Monday Meeting, Carol and I got in a long line of newly returned members to tell the stories of our travels since leaving in May. I was also welcomed as a candidate for a seat on the board, the only candidate for three open seats. Time will tell what other insanity I will choose. Carol  has signed up to run for Assistant Chair of Hilltoppers, the social organization.   

I Spoke too Soon

Uneventful just added an event. Not a show stopper, but a major annoyance. A couple of days ago some aggressive driver swerved in front of us and kicked up a stone that chipped the windshield. Not even worth mentioning. Got my a hold of our insurer and and arranged for a chip repair at the site in Las Cruces while the coach was being washed and waxed. 

The immediate chip repair was fine, but there was another large chip higher up and as soon as the tech laid the template around it it ran in three directions. New windshield will be ordered as soon as we get to Jojoba Hills. I am hoping they can do the replacement on site.  It’s always something.

The coach is beautiful with its fresh coat of wax. I must admit I  always have this done here by Sal’s Magic Touch . They are efficient and not terribly expensive. 

Seeing the World/Seeing the US