• Picnics at the beach...

    Picnics at the beach...

    My life

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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Road Trip
Ruth driving

Ruth driving

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!

Great Blue Heron on the golf course at the La Quinta Country Club

Great Blue Heron on the golf course

Great Blue Heron on the golf course

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 WhatBird.com 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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Grapefruit tree
Grapefruit tree

The grapefruit tree in the backyard at Ruth’s condo in Sun City, Arizona

I’ve known Ruth since September, 2013 after I moved into the condo apartment building at Discovery Ridge in Calgary, Alberta.

I was just arriving home from golfing and we met in the hallway.  She asked if I had been golfing and I said that I had been, (which was a pretty good guess on her part, since I was dressed like a golfer!)  She said she golfed as well.  I then asked her if she played bridge, by any chance, and she said she did.  We became friends immediately.

We had a couple of bridge games the following months and then Ruth was off to her conto in Sun City, just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, for the winter. Last summer, she spent some time at the cottage at Sauble Beach, Ontario and then went to Europe for a month.  But before leaving for Sun City for the winter once again, she asked me if I’d like to come to down and spend mid-February to mid-March with her there. I said yes, it would be a welcomed relief to the dreariness of winter — and, knowing Ruth, a lot of fun!

I arrived at her place in the late afternoon and she asked if I was up for going to a card/birthday party that night.  She said there would be about 20 people there and we should take some wine with us and arrive by 7:00 p.m.

I thought to myself, “How are all 20 of us going to play cards???” I would soon find out!

It was the first time that I’d ever been to Sun City, but I’ve known about Del Webb’s self-contained community for seniors for decades. Opened in 1960, Sun City is a subdivision of 40,000 residents — and it’s built exclusively for active seniors — there are residency restrictions that require at least one resident in each residence be 55 years of age or older. There are other Sun Citys — but the one where Ruth has her condo is the original Sun City — which is now seeing residents who are the grandchildren of the original owners.

Playing 65

But back to playing cards! It turned out we had two tables of eight and one of four and we played a card game called “65”.  Now that number has nothing to do with age, although judging by the folks at the tables, it might have been!  Every player needs to play with 65 cents and it’s similar to a game called Five Crown. If you want the last card that has been discarded, you can buy it for 5¢…but you also have to take four more off the deck, so your hand gets bigger — which isn’t necessarily a good thing!

That’s because the point of the game is to rid yourself of all your cards.  Needless to say, this card game is a take-off on rummy, and at the end of the game, you are lucky to have any coins left from your 65¢ stash! This group likes to have a couple of drinks while they play, and the game is usually over by 10:30 p.m.  It was a lucky night for both Ruth and I as we were the winners!  Not a big pot, but bragging rights.

Sun City

Sun City Welcome Sign – Sustainablehealth.org

We golfed.  We shopped at consignment stores, looking for furniture to outfit Ruth’s condo.  We played bridge at one of the Sun City’s community centre — and even went to live entertainment at one of their recreation centers a couple of times for the incredible ticket price of $13! Once we saw a fantastic Barbra Streisand imitator — and she flipped her hair around to make you think it was really her, and another who impersonated Neil Sedaka, too. And the $13 didn’t just include the Las Vegas-style of show, but bratwurst and sodas too!

We had dinner parties, and went to a couple of banquets, went lawn bowling — the time flew by. Repeat the above for four weeks and that was the theme!  We had beautiful weather almost all the time but a few times we were really cold out there on the golf course. Going south in the winter doesn’t always guarantee the heat.

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