Day in Idyllwild with the Londons

In our time on the road we continue to stay in touch with friends from all parts of our lives. An important part of my life was four years at Brown University. From those years several friendships endure. Among them are Toby and David London. It happens they come west each year and are within an hour of Jojoba Hills. One year they visited with us here in Aguanga and last year we visited them in Palm Desert. This year we decided to meet half way in Idyllwild. The following is a sample of pictures from that visit:

We met at Dores Mountain Art Garden on CA 243 on the way to Idyllwild. We were joined there by Shari, the daughter of friends from Rochester. We spent a long time with Dore looking at the sculpture he has all over his land and then at the small gallery housing photography on metal by his wife Trish Tule. We will soon have a piece of Dore’s work to mount on our shed.

We drove in to Idyllwild and found lunch at Gastrognome, a place that we had excellent reviews for. For a wonder there was a table for 5 available. We enjoyed the meal and were allowed to stay on at the table with no pressure. Finally we took a walk around town and left in plenty of time to be off the road before sunset.


Busy Times

Well February 1st was an interesting day. Ballots had been rolling in for the board election since mid December. They were opened and counted and then the announcement that I came in fourth for three positions. To a certain extent there was a whew emotion as our plans for travel open up. A board position requires more time spent in the park and devoted to the park. I my most immediate comment to myself was “I can go on the Tuesday hike this week after all.” While I was going through that process I was approached to take on a major committee chair position. Then I was further propositioned for it and by late afternoon I was on the phone with the board member who is liaison to the committee verifying that it was okay to submit my name to the board . More when the board gives its approval.

Carol is happy with the new project and my not being on the board. My well wishers all say “next year” and I am saying we’ll see about next year when the time comes.

Carol is still is Covesville, where it is cold and has snowed some. The kids(!) should be boarding their flight out of Jo’burg soon. They land in Dulles sometime Tuesday AM and will decide how to get back to Covesville when they are on the ground. Carol flies out of Charlottesville on Thursday. 

I have been playing a lot of Bridge, helping put up a TV antenna on the top of one of the water tanks (if you follow me on Facebook you may have seen these pictures):

Bud with new antenna


Gregg taking down old antenna
Ground support

And otherwise staying busy and out of trouble. This was the kind of volunteer project that happens regularly around the park. If it needs to be done those who know how work with those who don’t to make it happen. I call it fun. If I had to do it, I might call it work.

The patio is almost done. I will post pictures in a day or two of the finished, but incomplete patio. Carol and I still don’t know  how we will furnish it.

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Alone in Community

We have been married 53 1/2 years. In that time we have each traveled on our own from time to time. The longest time may have been eight days when I flew to Israel for meetings while Carol flew to Long Beach to welcome a new grandson. I made it for the Bris, 8 days. A couple of weeks ago we got a call from Dan and Malena that they needed to go to South Africa for a memorial for Malena’s brother from another mother. Could we chaperone and chauffeur the boys in Charlottesville while they attended and then did some touring  since they were already there for 16 days.

I couldn’t go. Months ago I put my name in to run for the board of directors of Jojoba Hills and I made some commitments to continuing board members and to myself to be present. Our election is tomorrow – there are 4 candidates for 3 seats and board training commences on Monday February 5. Carol is off in Covesville VA providing adult presence and driving the boys to their classes and events. She won’t be back until late night Thursday the 8th. I am lonely and I miss her. Even as I write I am looking up to where she normally sits to see what she is doing and when I finish I will miss her final edit and comments.

I am in community and the only time I have alone is in the evening. I am continuing to go on hikes, go to JCATs meetings and play Bridge. Tonight our neighbors had a Howling at the Moon event and I went and met some new members and guests in the park and even got to talk to people I know, but have never gotten the chance to talk with. I looked over my shoulder a couple of times to see who Carol was chatting with.

Tomorrow is our annual meeting and election day. The sealed ballots have been submitted and will be opened with appropriate pomp and security and counted, in secret. I will attend the meeting which will continue with other matters including a floor vote on the budget. By mid afternoon I will know the results. I expect that Carol, running unopposed as of now, will be elected to Co Chair of the Social organization – Hilltoppers – and everyone tells me I am  sure to win, but I’ve heard that before and will wait for the count.

As I said at the beginning I am alone and lonely, yet I am surrounded by some of the nicest, friendliest people I would care to know. They aren’t letting me feel lonely when I am in their midst.

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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. 

I am posting this on as well as FaceBook and Google+. The mail demon does not seem to like my posts any more and is returning them.  If you want to keep reading, please go to any of those sites and choose to follow me or get notices.


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!

Seeing the World/Seeing the US