Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sunday evening Jerry and I went to the Indian Wells Desert Symphony at McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. The special guest star was Peter Nero and what a treat - a privilege, really- to see and hear this master of masters. I've seen people who can make things look easy, but Peter Nero made playing the piano look effortless - so much so that if someone had said,"Go on. Esther. Go up there and take a turn on the Steinway," I honestly believe that I could have done so. That's just how amazing he is!

It was fun watching the orchestra players watch Nero. He is a musician's musician. His medley tribute to Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story is something that will remain in my head forever.

This is our last symphony before leaving for Vancouver Island, April 1. The Classical Mystery Tour, Peter Frampton, Jose Feliciano - it's been a great season for the symphony, and for us.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


The citrus trees are blooming and an orangey-lemon scent permeates the air. It is the most exhilarating feeling to be immersed in such heavenly aromas when one does the simplest things, like going to the mailbox, or taking a walk, or opening a screen door.

There's been a bit of a heat wave (for this time of the year) in the desert with temperatures soaring into the high 90s for the last week or so. People who live here year round are a little distressed, as they worry that the summer heat will be starting early and lasting longer than usual. And it can get very hot! Temperatures soar to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks on end.

"Usually, I don't mind the heat," one woman told us when we were out to dinner one evening. "It's hot, but it's a dry heat and that makes all the difference." Her phrase reminded me of my days in Saskatchewan where the winters are harsh. People described the cold as being a dry cold, thereby implying that the cold wasn't as bad as the cold in more humid places. When I lived in Ottawa, I found this to be true. I felt way colder there, even though the temperatures weren't as low.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Where Everyone Knows Your (Dog's) Name

It's a club of sorts. The dog park in Palm Desert is a wonderful facility for dogs and their companions. It comprises two large fenced and secure areas (separate areas for larger and smaller dogs) on the grounds near The College of the Desert. Sid and I walk over almost every morning (with temperatures in the 90s, it's important to go earlier in the day). Sid loves seeing all the college students on their way to classes. At the park, Sid runs and jumps and plays with the other canines who are mostly friendly and happy sorts. The owners sit on benches under a nice shaded canopy and talk, as the dogs romp. Sometimes we throw balls and play with the dogs, but mostly the dogs play amongst themselves chasing each other into frenzies.

Above are pictures of Sid with a few of the regulars - Buffy, Farfel, Hoola and Sparky. Sid and Hoola are the same age and are especially fond of each other.

Puppy Daze

It's been a whirlwind trying to keep up with our furry pal, Sid. So many people told us puppies were a lot of work, and we just nodded and smiled and thought, "Well, we've had puppies before." Like childbirth, I guess we just forgot what the experience was fully about. It's been almost non-stop!

We enrolled Sid in doggy school the first week and it's been awesome for us and Sidney. Lori and Sara, the women who conduct the Good Canine Citizen Program at Dream Dogs are incredible. Sidney enjoys going every week and especially loves all the other dogs in the class. He is the youngest (and most exuberant) in the class, but catches on quickly. Jerry and I go together and thoroughly enjoy the experience of working with Sid in a totally positive way. The emphasis is based on the notion of what you want the dog to do (as opposed to not focusing on the negative behaviour). An important difference.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This David Phelps sculpture is one of my favourites in the park near our home. The Dreamer is larger-than-life and never fails to make me pause and smile no matter how many times I pass it.

This morning we woke to the roaring sounds of Santana winds in Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs and all the surrounding areas. The Santana's rage at over 60-80 miles per hour and even higher in the mountain passes, often uprooting trees, tearing off palm fonds, snapping poles in half, and generally wreaking havoc. The sand storms can ruin the paint finish on cars and even pit windshields. In some places, road advisories warned people not to drive because of poor visibility due to the swirling sand. This is a little reminiscent of the snow storms in Saskatchewan!

Jerry and I stuck close to home today, only venturing out to take Sidney for his walks. Although our little enclave of homes has a lot of protection, Jerry had to stake one of the trees to prevent it from being uprooted by the winds.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

And Puppy Makes Three!

Well, it's a little over a week since we picked up Sidney at the Palm Springs Airport and our lives haven't been the same since. Several (short) walks a day, puppy massages, play times, treat times, and both of us trying to be as consistent as possible. It's been a lot of fun, but it's exhausting! When people say puppies are a lot of work, they aren't kidding.

On Saturday we started puppy obedience classes and are working at reinforcing good puppy manners and basic commands, such as sit and stay (good luck). Sidney has the "sit" command down pat and to date, has had only one accident in the house, which was not his fault. We both are vigilant about taking Sid out several times a day and that has certainly helped. We also have to be on puppy watch for his constant love of, and need for, chewing everything in sight. We substitute appropriate chew options such as Kong toys made for this purpose and have taken to puppy proofing our house (e.g., no slippers or shoes left on the floor).

Sidney loves the two older labs named Lucy and Murphy (the best trained dogs we have ever seen) who live a few houses away. When we take Sid for walks he always lingers by their house hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Sid was over the moon this morning when he saw them. Lucy and Murphy wagged their tails politely, and like the elder statesdogs that they are, they tolerate his very enthusiastic tail wagging and licking for a little while before they wander back to their home.

Monday, February 19, 2007

This morning Jerry and I spent part of the morning picking the last of the fruit from the trees in the garden. The picture above is just a sample! Already buds are beginning to flower for the next batch of oranges, lemons and grapefruit. Once the trees begin to flower, they emit the most delicious citrus scent that permeates the air.

The first time I ever experienced the thrill of eating an orange fresh from a tree was in Spain. And having spent most of my growing-up years in Saskatchewan means that I never take this pleasure for granted. Vitamin C never tasted so good!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Today it finally happened. We picked up Sidney M. Doodle from the Palm Springs Airport and brought him home.

Sidney received a warm welcome from us and our groovy neighbors next door who put up a cool banner on our garage door.

Our sweet puppy appears to be making a smooth transition from his former training and stomping grounds with Marybeth and her wonderful family in Washington. After frolicking in the snow, our 85 degrees Fahrenheit weather must be a big change. So far, Sidney is fascinated with the palm trees and the swimming pool. He is a sweet creature: the fun has begun.