Book One – 78mph

Ruth and Mo's selfie at the airport

Ruth and Mo at the Toronto airport

Maureen (my mom) got on the plane from Calgary to Toronto at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning — the start of the trip to Ontario. A few hours later, she’d landed at the Lester B. Pearson Airport, and Ruth was there, in her Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight. That’s the car they’ll be using for the upcoming road trip. Off they went to Ruth’s cottage, just over two hours away.

Staging the Cottage

The cottage is for sale, and Ruth and Mo will be busy getting it into sales shape, making it into, as my friend Nancy used to say, “the prettiest cottage in the area!” The staging will begin in earnest today, uncluttering furniture, moving some onto the porch and perhaps garage selling the excess, but that’s still not decided. The cottage is being sold turn-key, I believe, so everything included, still, the staging needs to be right to get the buyers interested!

I got a Magic Jack call from Maureen yesterday afternoon. I know many people who use Magic Jacks to make VoIP (Voice Over Internet) calls — but you do need to have an Internet connection to make them, so she called me from the local libray. Later, we switched to Facetime — she has an iPad and I have a MacBook Air, and Facetime is an easy way for people using Apple products to communicate with each other. She sent me some pictures she’s taken to upload them to the blog.

Ontario countryside

The Ontario countryside – Photo by Maureen O’Shea

Maureen said she and Ruth had had a wonderful lunch at the home of friends of Ruth’s and her dearly departed husband — but I’ll let her tell the story. However, the scenery is beautiful, as Ontario is, and I’ll share one of Maureen’s pictures with you so you can see it too.

Notre Dame Hounds and Wilcox, Saskatchewan

It was a quick chat for a couple of reasons. I’d published a story on Monday on The Hockey Writers about the Four Hounds in the Stanley Cup Finals – these are four boys who all went to school and played hockey at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, a school where my dad, Doc, my sister Bridget and I all attended — and my mom had volunteered for several years on their Alumni Board, so we have a lot of interest in the school. Since the Chicago Blackhawks won, and Hound Brad Richards had played such a great role in that last game, I’d spent part of the morning on the phone with 74-year-old Terry O’Malley — 3 time Canadian ice-hockey Olympian (one time bronze medal winner) and former Notre Dame Hounds‘ coach, about his memories of Richards as a Bantam AAA and Junior A player. And then, because he had a fishing story for me — about lobster fishing with Richards’ parents, Glen and Delight, and he mentioned a dear friend of my mom and dad’s, John Weisshaar, I had to give the Weisshaars a call. They live in Ontario now, and Johnny, a farmer, school bus driver, coach and team manager from Wilcox, can tell the stories and has a great memory for a guy in his 8th decade. I spoke to his wife Roseline for quite a while too..I’d visited them two summers ago, and I miss them, especially since they’re some of the handful of people left who were good friends with my dad. Roseline, who has had Multiple Sclerosis since 1958, has never let her disease stand in her way of being Roseline. That’s probably why they were chosen the Godparents for my younger sister, Lisa: great character and a great character!

I find it hard to believe that people like John and Roseline are getting older. In my mind’s eye, they’re still super active and in their 50’s. But not any more, now that’s me. Roseline tells me, “Colleen, it’s hard to get old.”

My mom was only at the library for half an hour and soon, Ruth was back from running errands and off they went again. Maureen has some stories in the pipeline which I know you’re going to love to read and hopefully we’ll get them published this week!

Happy Birthday to Deborah

Today is my cousin, Deborah Rowbotham’s, birthday. Deborah will certainly enter into this blog from time to time, she’s one of my mom’s favourite road trip and golf partners. Happy Birthday, Debba Dear. Have a great day on the golf course (I know that’s what she’s got planned!) The picture of Deborah on the left (doesn’t she look great?) was taken after she and Maureen participated in the Huntsman World Senior Games in the golf category last year — but, as usual, that’s a story better left for Maureen to tell than me. It’s Deborah’s “Bus Pass” day, as my dad used to say, the day that seniors everywhere used to wait for to get reduced travel rates on public transportation. If, as my mom says, 78 is the new 65, then Deborah, you’re probably turning 50 today! Hooray!!!

And One More Thing…

You can follow my mom on Twitter — she’s @sevenpars (the day she shot 7 pars was a proud moment). She’s getting more and more followers, but her biggest follow so far this week is UK publication, Lady Golfer Magazine! Check them out. She only has 20 Twitter followers so far, so I’m impressed. Well done, Maureen, and Lady Golfer Magazine, my mom is certainly your target audience! Kudos to you too!

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Peter and Verna

My dad, Peter – who loved to wear a hat – and my oldest sister, Verna

My dad, Peter Stone, was an avid baseball fan.  He was 2 when his family immigrated to the US from Sweden, and 15 when his family re-immigrated to Canada, so, of course, he had played baseball growing up!  There were seven boys in his family, and every single one of them would rather be playing baseball than doing pretty much anything else. They used to say the Stones could field their own team!  

My dad’s twin brother, Paul, lived just 1/2 a mile from us, and we had a major rivalry when it came to The World Series.  Our family cheered for the National League and Paul’s family cheered for the American League.  Some of my 9 brothers and sisters were fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, but I was always a fan of the Dodgers. Back then, they were called the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Always a Dodger Fan

When I was young and it was baseball season, the entire family would be glued to the RADIO in the living room, listening to the play-by-play of the games. Long before television — and even longer before the sports broadcasters used visuals to help explain the game, we would create graphs of our own, to follow all nine innings (and sometimes more!) in a scribbler. Someone would be designated the scorekeeper, tracking the runners, the hits and the outs.  For those of us children still in school, mysterious ailments would inevitably arise, forcing us to stay home when our team made it to the final series.

After I became an adult and the World Series was televised, all of us found it nearly unbelievable that we were finally able to see our favourite players in person!  Although we’d get the newspaper – The Regina Leader-Post – with its pictures of players and coaches, seeing them on television was like a dream come true and, somehow, it made us love them even more.

Breaking my heart

Loving a team meant swelling with pride when they did well, and living with disappointment when they did not. As a 16-year-old, I first experienced heartache, because of the Dodgers. They led the league by 13 games in August, but lost in a three game series to the New York Giants for the pennant. The Giants, of course, later moved to San Francisco, where they still are.

In ’52, they played with my heart again, this time preventing those nasty Giants from having back-to-back pennant wins, winning the pennant.  That team had some high-powered batters, the likes of Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. Other players I remember were Pee Wee Rese, Billy Cox, Roy Campanella and Carl Erskine. Despite all that batting power, the pennant was all they could muster, as they then lost the World Series to the New York Yankees.

Nineteen fifty-three was another heartbreak year, although the Dodgers’ roster was pretty much the same as it had been in 1952. They posted a winning season of 105-49 but lost the World Series 4 games to 2 and, like the year before, to those damn Yankees.

In 1957, the team moved to Los Angeles where it has continued its history as the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even though there was a romantic attachment to Brooklyn – a part of the greatest city of all, New York City, the Dodgers no longer having “Brooklyn” in front of their name, wasn’t all that disappointing to me. I rather thought their move to L.A. might be better for me — since L.A. is much closer to home and with the greater proximity, I felt my chances of ever being able to see them play in person had just increased.

The great betrayal

No, the change of location didn’t bother me very much. What my greatest disappointment was with baseball, and I don’t know when this started, was when players started being traded, and no longer stayed on the same team forever, like they used to back in the 40’s and 50’s. When a player was traded to another team, it felt like a knife had sliced through my heart. A trade, to me, was the great betrayal.

Dodgers' Training Camp

Maureen at the Dodgers’ training camp in 2015 next to the statue of Tommy Lasorda .

Back in Sun City, after the road trip to La Quinta, I had the opportunity to go to the Camelback Ranch, in Glendale, Arizona to watch the L.A. Dodgers in spring training. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that both the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox use. I was there with my youngest daughter and her family. We stood and watched as the pitchers ran laps around the complex before starting their practice; we sat and watched as the coaches and the pitchers went through their routines.  On leaving the field, the pitching coach gave a baseball to my granddaughter, Lily. He picked her out as she had a pink cast on her leg because of a broken her ankle, which was a very nice gesture.

If the creek don’t rise

Unfortunately, I’ve not made it to a Dodgers game yet, but it is certainly on my bucket list. And, if the creek don’t rise…someday I will go!



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Destination La Quinta, CA

Our very first road trip together didn’t happen until the first week of March, 2015, to visit some of Ruth’s relatives.  We left Sun City, Arizona on Thursday after lunch and headed out on the I-10 towards Palm Springs, California.

To tell you the truth, there’s not a lot to look at along this particular Interstate — especially in Arizona, where all you see is sand, flat rocks and, occasionally, a smattering of small bushes scattered in the desert.  But before we knew it, we were at the California border and, yes, they still have a check stop to see if you are carrying any fruit with you.

With the change of state also came a change of scenery. Now there were at least a few mountains to break up the desert monotony!

Destination La Quinta

We had no trouble finding our destination.  Ruth’s relatives were renting a home in the gated community at the La Quinta Country Club, about 40 minutes outside of Palm Springs.  Turns out, they found it through Vacation Rental By Owners – a website that puts renters together with homeowners. I’ve also used their services, and know others who have too, and I’ve never heard any complaints.

It was a very large, southwestern -style home with an attached casita (and, lucky me! I won the draw to have it for the duration of our stay!)  The house was quite high up from the fairway, facing north and had a patio leading to the swimming pool and hot tub.  It was so beautiful to have breakfast outside watching the goings on of the maintenance crews and golfers below. Hummingbirds were everywhere (to the feeder and away, again) and one evening we had a Great Blue Heron come wandering close to the house – I managed to get a picture of it with my iPad and I’ve included it here on the left. I know it was a Great Blue Heron because the folks at helped me identify it. Thanks, JimBob, PaintedBunting and Liam for the confirms!

Friday morning ,we had an early tee time at the South course at the Golf Course at Terra Lago.  I’ve golfed the North course many times, but had never golfed the South one before.  Anyone I’d ever asked about Tara Lago always recommended the North course and we soon knew why!  The South course criss-crosses back and forth and back and forth — with a lot of water — and sand!  We even got mixed up as to where we should go several times — boo!  Truth was, it was a bit too difficult for some of the people in our foursome.

Saturday morning, we were off to the La Quinta Art Festival – which is one of the most famous art festivals in the entire USA. There was jewelry and paintings – paintings of every size – large, larger and largest – and some of the artists were taking orders for reprints or custom works. In addition to the art, there was entertainment – quintets, soloists – it was a beautiful setting. But man, oh, man, was it hot!

Way Cool!

Ruth and I were looking for something cold to drink when we came across a stand selling Icelandic Glacier water. Both of us fell in love with that bottle at first sight – it’s square, not round like most of the bottled water that you find, and we thought it was sort of cool that there, in the desert-like existence of the Coachella Valley, we found water that comes all the way from Iceland! I kept the bottle, I love it so much.

Indian Springs – Great Golf!

Sunday was another golf day.  We played the Indian Springs Golf Club in Indio.  It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm and — bonus — there was absolutely NO WIND!  The course is very well laid out, without surprises: what you see is what you get!  Lunch is always included with your green fee and the food is excellent — I’ve played this course several times and the food has been great every time!  Soup, sandwich and a beverage is my idea of a great way to relax after golf.

Road Trip

Palm Desert

I also had family in Palm Desert that weekend – my daughter, Lisa, and her family. They’d come for a weekend getaway and were staying at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa.  Gord came to pick me up to have a visit and dinner with them and, to my surprise, one of my daughter’s close friends was also there.  We had a wonderful evening together — and lots of laughs!  

My son-in-law took me back to my “casita” around midnight and Ruth and I were back on I-10 around 9:00 the next morning. Before we knew it, we were back in Sun City.  All in all, it was a great weekend.  Even if our first road trip ever gave us a mixed bag when it came to the golf, we had good food, good company — and a lot of good fun.

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