Tuesday, April 7, 2020


        I arrived on Christmas Eve, dumped my bags, drove to Wok and Roll for Chinese Christmas Dinner at a restaurant owned by a Jewish Santa that works on Christmas.  I am blessed.  Great meal and took some food home for Christmas dinner.

      Well Christmas Day I was off to Denny's for their Senior Christmas Dinner Special.  I had to break my Vegetarian regimen for 2 slices of Turkey breast, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy with Green Beans and Cranberry Jelly.  It was nice and a treat I deserved.

      The Chinese announced the discovery of a virus infecting the population of Wuhan. My maid cleaned my house before I arrived on Christmas Day and I noticed she left sanitary wipes in both bathrooms.  The Clorox Wipes said on the label...kills human Coronavirus!
That label was made a long time before China brought the virus into the world spotlight but the media make you think it's a new virus.  A new outbreak not a new virus but a killer one without a cure.
        Miriam cleaned the condo before I arrived.  I love that I can depend on her.  She took some things I offered her for Christmas and to give away to someone that can use them.   More to sort if I hope to free myself up to start traveling again.  I plan on making Mexico my base so have to decide to sell my condo and rent a place or rent out the condo and still rent a place but for a shorter time.  Then I can travel.

     I had ASU classes to sign up for, Doctor's appointment, Eye Exam and Script first (haven't seen correctly since July when my retina detached), and update my scripts and get a referral from my Primary Care doctor to see a Dermatologist about this red rash on my nose for a month!

      Sunday Affair in the Scottsdale Center is always a fun afternoon.  Today was Native Americans from around the State selling their creations and entertaining the Gringos.

    TGIF Happy Hour (one of my Meetup groups) was having a gathering this Friday after Christmas at the Chart House.   I arrived and greeted Polly and Bill the originators of the organization which they turned over to someone else to take over.   I just like to meet people but it is rare when I meet someone that I really enjoy talking too and would like to pursue a relationship with.  I do have lots of nice female friends whose company I enjoy and want to keep seeing.
       When I looked over to find a barstool I noticed a very attractive and classy lady sipping a wine and sampling a Carpaccio of Beef appetizer.  She positioned herself one seat in from the corner, leaving stools open on either side of her.    I sat near her and immediately we seemed to hit it off with a great conversation about travel.  She said she was Dutch and had lived in Amsterdam and just returned to Santa Monica from living in Yelapa near Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.  Well that was a coincidence.  I took her back to her son's home where she was visiting the grandchildren, family , and her son for the holidays with her Cocker Spaniel named Buddy.
         I had gave her my card and contact information and suggested she email me if she is free and would like to do something away from the family.  They were going to Sedona the day after New Years so that was nice. We decided to go out for lunch and visit the MIM for the afternoon before.

         We did and had a nice afternoon and lunch.  I noted that she was very thin and also that she ate very little. Her son called and invited me to join her that evening for his daughter's birthday party.  I declined and dropped her off.

          I had a full day of the eye doctor and my personal doctor while she said she needed that day off for herself.  During the party the Daughter in Law was drinking and made some rude remarks that sparked an argument so she was looking forward to a day to do nothing.  We did meet again that evening at the Chart House for Happy Hour when she told me about the difficulty she has with this woman.   I politely listened to her vent until she relaxed and we parted but planned on exchanging contacts so I might visit her when I come to visit my daughter in California. Lots of Fireworks that New Year's Eve.
          I didn't hear from Skye, that is her name, for a couple days and made an attempt to text her (blocked) and emailed with no reply.
           A few days later I receive a message that her Daughter in Law, got in an argument with her son while taking a few day with the family to visit Sedona and took Uber back to the house and kicked her out.  She and the dog took Uber to a nearby hotel until her flight in two days back to Santa Monica. 
         I attended a weekend Art Sale on the Waterfront one beautiful afternoon.

           Meanwhile Shari emailed me to meet for lunch at La's Thai Restaurant.  She had been in Switzerland visiting her Iranian family for the a summer vacation.  She has had a dental practice in Phoenix for 20 years and I met her at a 50+ Meetup Happy Hour.  We went out a couple times and after learning she was going to be in Amsterdam while visiting her parents, I gave her my Tourist Pass to use and a book on Holland to study so she could decide what to do when visiting.  She was busy when I returned from Mexico but now was free to join me for lunch and tell me about her trip, what she thought of Trump's killing the Iranian General and get my card and book returned.  We had a lovely lunch but our Thai restaurant was closed so we went to a Mom and Pop Mexican Restaurant called Frank and Lupe's.  It was nice and I had a Vegetarian Burrito. Tureen's out Shari is also a Vegetarian.

       Marjorie had traveled to Zambi and was visiting her daughter in Coos Bay Oregon when I returned but was also back in Scottsdale now so I called her to join me for Happy Hour at Toco Madre.  I had booked a dinner there with a Meetup group but found bad reviews and expensive prices so decided to visit for Happy Hour and find out what it was like.  Very upscale, excellent service, beautiful place, nice menu but the little food we had was so-so and the drinks as well as the food was very pricey and over valued...so I cancelled my dinner reservation.

    Debbie was in town visiting Sonya and Mark, so we got together for dinner one day.

    I started my classes at ASU Downtown campus , with a class in Art History from the Greeks, Romans, etc.  The first class was a qualified Professor of Art History with no talent as a Lecturer or accrual Teacher.  He did stand in front of the class but turned his back on us frequently to read the slide projection that we could all see and read also.

    The following week he stood in the back of the room while we all looked at the slide projections while he narrated the script of each one.  Once in a while he would share a personal experience while visiting these site.  When he said the Monestarties on these Greek peninsulas that   date back to 1200 or something of the sort, required a reservation and no women or children were allowed.  Then he said you also had to supply credentials and qualify as to your reason for visiting these 12 or more Orthodox Christian Monasteries.
     My question was "Why are you showing us something we can't visit?"
     He said time was up and see you next week. I left and got an all day parking pass first from the "coordinator" because I was returning for my first class with a travel writer who I attended his Travel Writing lessons a few years ago. 
      Meanwhile I ducked across the street to Heritage Square and had a snack and a cup of great Cordato.

         I visited an exhibit about Black Migration into Phoenix to pick cotton and how it changed Phoenix.

          I was excited to hear this talk about travel.   This time it was a lecture about River Cruises around the world.  I knew and liked him.  He actually talked to us and addressed us most of the time.  Occasionally he would turn to the projection screen but refreshingly rarely.  I thanked him after.

    A few weeks have passed with my exercise, college classes, concerts and events.  I am really enjoying it.  Marjorie invited me to join her and her neighbor Clareen for Happy Hour at Ron's home for a boat ride!  John and Jean, friends of ours joined us and we took off on Ron's boat to see a beautiful view of Phoenix/Scottsdale as the Oasis it is.  Beautiful.


    The weather had been cold but since turned nice and warm for a few days so I borrowed Joy's bike that was being stored at Marjorie's place and the two of us took an afternoon bike ride.

     I had emailed my good travelin friend Anita who lived less than a mile away to see if she was busy.  She spends her summers in her home in Oklahoma where her son and his family run a cattle ranch.  Anita has a pet cow names Baby that she has adopted and she visits with her granddaughter.They have traveled the world together.   She was hosting guests/friends from China, Hong Kong and Singapore but finally got back to me for Happy Hour at Tony's Urban Ristorante Italiano.  We got all caught up on life and our travels and plans.
          We did get together after her Chinese guests left.  She said they reported a different story about the Coronavirus then is being reported.  This is a few week later now that I report the same misinformation coming in from Hong Kong News...so who knows. It was a pleasure to attend a Jewish Film Festival movie with her.  Love in Suspenders was fun and entertaining.  The actors were stellar.  Later Anita invited me over to watch the first foreign film to get an Oscar for the Best Film of the Year.  She rented it on Direct TV and we enjoyed an evening of Popcorn,wine and a comedy thriller with a surprise ending.
         Trump did not like it but the director and producer said it was because he can't read the subtitles.  That could be...I hired a Manager for my restaurant and never knew he couldn't read until 2 months later.  That's the truth.

         I signed up to see Mark Tarbell at a Ceremony commemorating his second season and Emmy award for his food show Plate and Pour.  Marjorie went with me.

   I attended my Senior Weight Training session with Bennett Copp , an 85 year old ex army paratrooper , as I have been doing for the last few weeks.  Bennett, and authority on Olde Irish Music and Ballads , trained me over 5 years ago.  This is my first season back so I was looking forward to his expertise and his constant monitoring and coaching you if you weren't maintaining the right posture or too much weight on your machines, not warming up or cooling down, lifting to fast and not getting the full benefit. I admired and appreciated his expertise.  He could get down and demonstrate what he expected...at 90.  We all listened and benefited by his consul.
     His quiet, polite. insistence on how to perform each exercise , changed my life at 74.  I am now the healthiest I have ever been thanks to not just Bennent but I do take chair exercises 2 times a week also.  The strength trained contributed the most to keep my muscular abilities at their maximum and enabling me to keep my life at it's peak.  That is important at this stage in life and requires someone that understands that.  Bennett also told me they laid him off today.  His term is over next week. My father died after 27 years working as an independent contractor for one company.  My mother was laid off after 15 year of cleaning the village of Attica offices once a week ...she was 75.  They wanted to hire an outside contractor rather then have to maintain her as an employee with benefits. Welcome to Capitalism at its greedy worst.
    60 Minutes did a special on the number of 50-59 year olds that are being shoved out the door in favor of young , half the price, applicants to fill the job.  This group is now the most expendable of all.

          A few shows I've attended while enjoying my "Season" as a Snowbird.

     The stock market is crazy. A solar energy stock I bought jumps  over 32 dollars in two days.  I suspect it will crash or go down until the uncertainty of the election is resolved.  It will start after the Primaries...then go into limbo according to the "polls".   Then who the hell knows...that's the gamble.  I'm cashing in now and waiting for ????.

   Well it's another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody.  Ain't got no money or no place to go....so I stop at Wok and Roll for a beer with the Chief and friends.  Chief gave me the book "Our Dangerous President Trump"...all highlighted.  We both agree with each other about politics and the State of the Union.  I left with the others but headed for the Roaring Fork.

     I managed the only seat left at a 25 seat bar.  I had a glass of wine then the crowd overwhelmed my area when the couple to the left were paying the check.  The Vulchers moved in and hovered over the whole section of the bar, hoping to lay claim to those two seats.  Then there bartender pulled in another seat and asked me to move over one so four people could sit.  Of course because by that time a new couple had moved in on my right.  They were from Long Island and had been coming to Arizona for 30 years on short visits to see his brother.  They had a daughter that is a Pledge at West Point.  We talked....well I talked about my working for the longest term Superintendent of West Point
in history and blah blah blah about General Abrams, my tour, my life, my restaurants....and they left?
       He gave me half his Big Ass Hamburger he couldn't finish to take home.  I gave him my card in case he wanted to hear more ?  You think?

    I attended the Chieftain's Farewell concert last night and was really impressed and entertained. There was an Irish Astronaut that played her flute at the Space Station while floating in air (that visio clip was shown) then she did a couple of numbers.  She teaches at ASU Explorer program and her 19 year old son is one of her students.  Also to entertain us was the Phoenix Pipe Band , Firestone Choral group, a Scottish singer, local Irish Dance Troupe and the Chieftains with outstanding talent.

Then the Al Chili with Lila Downs.  Marjorie and I stopped at Scottsdale Center before we went to the MIM for the concert.

       The performance was Lila Downs, of Oaxaca, very best.

         Thursday is my full day.  I started it with another big loss on the Stock Market over Virus fears. No control and nothing I want to sell.  I had some cash from selling options, so could make it through this year without touching my savings.  Next year if this is still going on I may have to sell the condo and start enjoying my savings..VN again.  Japan. Amsterdam...I have so much to do.  Well can't leave until we get a vaccine!
     So I left around 9:45 for my Scottsdale Shadows chair exercises.  Very intense and energy filling movements that use every muscle in your body, with breathing, slow movements, but works up a sweat.   I usually take a quick game of pool after for practice.  The pool room was in use today so I headed back to the computer and sold some of the last of my Facebook options for $1800 at a strike price of $200 with a June expiration.  It was $187 today and the future for turning around the virus impossible for the next 6 months at least.
       It was time to visit Bennett Copp, my 90 year old Senior Strength Trainer that at 70 years old he understood that Scottsdale had the highest concentration of Seniors of any city in the U.S. and ,being a weightlifter, WWll Army Paratrooper in the South Pacific, then the Korean War before retiring back in NYC where he grew up in the '30s living in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in Queens.  While there he attended NYU under the GI Bill for his Bachelors of Science then on to a Masters degree.  Did I mention he dropped out of High School and joined the Army Paratroopers but took the GED Exam and received his High School Diploma. 
       I met him 5 or 6 years ago while trying to get off the couch and regain some strength I knew I was losing due to aging.  He was a knowledgeable trainer then at 85.  He really got me motivated by proving I could regain muscle, energy, posture, and fitness level that I had not known for at least 10 years.
       Bennet knew I used to go to the Dubliner and as an Irish Music Buff would recommend the songs, musicians, and singers he knew from growing up in the Irish neighborhood and pursued his love of the music his whole life.  Most were traditional ballads.  I gave him one of my copies of a Celtic Pride "Crossroads" album.  He loved it and said he listened to it everyday in the car.  In turn he wrote down some songs and singers that were his favorites.  One song "Parting of the Glass" I discovered was both Irish and Scot farewell ballad and it was sung by Seane O'Connor , and about twenty others.  I loved the words.
      So Bennett has been fired for 3 complaints since he started work for the Parks and Recreation of Scottsdale 20 years ago with his program for seniors.  One was in 2014, another 2017, and one this year.  The man who is in charge, Mr Prior,  who fired him,has had over 23 complaints against him so we all stand by Bennett and found out his replacement has a prison record.  We asked the head of Parks and Recreation to Step down and reinstate Bennett.
       I asked Bennett how he got the love of Irish music when his family background was Russian? He said because he was Irish.  But how could that be if your family was from Russia.  He replied...You live in an Irish Catholic neighbood in Queen in the '30's,  you become Irish from assimilation!  If he doesn't get reinstated and the Head of Parks and Recreation (Who we all sent a letter of protest to) doesn't step down, I would like to Honor this special person at the Irish Cultural Center with the song Parting of the Glass and an Irish toast, with some music and even dancing.?
       I joined the "Chief", my Happy Hour buddy and his friend at Frasier's, a new HideAway Bar he told me about.

   Friday I took a class on Gratitude.  The Instructor knew her stuff and covered all the bases.  I was very satisfied and came away full of Gratitude. I gave blood that afternoon.

    Saturday I visited the Highland Games but parking was full so found parking on the roof of parking garage for free that was 1/2 miles away.  It was hot and after walking a short distance, got leg and ankle cramps and pain.  I waited and started again....after three or four stops and starts I arrived at the gate and stood in line to pay $17, with discount , for admission.  As I entered, I noticed a British car exhibit and decided to take some photos thinking it was included in the admission price but they wanted an additional $5, which I thought was taking advantage so wandered around taking photos of the Clans, food stalls, and was getting hungry.  The lines at all the stalls were about 20-30 minutes.  I finally bought a bottle of water for $3 that came out of a bucket of ice but when I took a drink it was warm.  The music I longed to hear was The Travelers with Scott Jeffers but it wasn't for another hour.
      I returned to the car and stopped at World Food and bought a salad to take home.

      Monday I drove out to visit Larry at Shangri La.  He's been a friend for over 30 years.  I stopped at Jar's, the new dispensary that took over Zen that opened over 6 years ago.  They added an outdoor building that house the facility for making Cannabis Concentrate.  I bought one cartridge and returned to visit Anita.  We were to watch the Oscar nominated JoJo movie and have our Happy Hour at her home.  The movie was nice and visiting Anita was always a pleasure.
Wildflowers in Bloom

Larry had been having radiation treatments on his nose for cancer.  My nose had the same signs but my dermatologist froze it off then it came back.  I was worried so went in to have a biopsy done today. 

       I visited the Contemporary Art Museum to see the new exhibit.  Met another Vietnam Vet that served at the same time I was there.  His was not a pleasant tour.  We talked a bit about a table that appeared to be made of different types of wood but turned out to be Corn Husk and was made in Oaxaca.

        The next day a visited the Scottsdale College Gym to try walking some.  I ended up cycling in place on a machine after cramps took me down.

       Menko, my handyman, arrived this morning to start work on a small remodel to remove the fluorescent lighting along with the overhead fan in the kitchen and replace it with new "spot" lighting with dimmers.  I was getting giving blood and returned as he was finishing up.  I'll be working around plastic hanging from my kitchen for two more days.

     Well maybe his stay will be longer.  He never stops work except for an occasional break and has been meticulous about quality and perfection.  Today was major stock market loss of over 10% MORE of what I had already lost.
       I decided to try my luck at the Casino.  First time this year.  I waited about 20 minutes to get on a table with the "old guys or day time afternoon regulars".  I knew the Doc and he called me by name.  We talked about my retina detachment.  He knew about the week after the operation and consoled me with encouraging words but it was not to be the case.  Not much can be done at this point.  I played badly, had lousy cards, and made some stupid mistakes.  I lost it all and decided to celebrate St Pat's day ahead of time.

     I called Duffy to see if he wanted to join me for a beer at the Dubliner, our old haunt and his neighborhood Pub.  He was sick with a cold, in bed, and fatigued.  I stopped in while Melissa was tending bar and greeted me with ...a Pint of Guinness?  ...and 2 Fish Sliders please.  I could have Irish Avocado Toast (Irish Soda Bread).  An old acquaintance, Mike, arrived from work for a beer and we talked a bit.  I had another Pint and a cup of Homemade Chili that very tasty.  I bid a Happy St Pat's to all and ran into Declan coming in the door from his day's work.  We hugged and exchange hellos.
           It was good to see him.  He has his own Irish Wolfhound Pub and an Irish Wolfhound.  He runs his own construction business and competes in IronMan competitions to raise money to help children with lisps to smile again.  He was one of their biggest and most successful promoter they brought him and his wife to Vietnam to meet the children and visit.
     I was coming down Route 51 toward Camelback and my radio went out along with all my lights,except red flashing ones indicating the battery.  I managed to get the car to Marshall's garage just at 6 pm and though it was locked up there was a man in a truck outside.  He was the owner and gave me a ride home while providing a space to park overnight.  I explained what was wrong and he assured me they would fix it and have it running tomorrow.
      Well that was the one lucky thing.  Menko was still working and cleaning up.  He will be back again tomorrow to hopefully complete the painting and install the last lights.  I found out he was Dutch and speaks it. His whole family.  He visits Switzerland and Amsterdam Holland frequently to see family.   We had a lot of common interests.
      He left and I settled in to a movie with John Lithgow called Tomorrow Man.  Very strange but poignant lesson in how we obsess over unrealistic fear of events that never happen.  This movie was made for the CoronaVirus and ME!  I should have a yard sale...sell everything except the condo. Get rid of the car, and all my non essentials then apply for Residency in Mexico and get down there ASAP.  While there, I can plan to sell the Condo and hopefully will have more certainty as the Virus and my savings settle down.

      Speaking of savings, Marshall's Auto shop quoted me $950 to replace my alternator.  Bad timing but nothing I can do at this point without enough Cash to trade it in for another. OK it will be ready tomorrow afternoon.  When it rains...it really rains, then pours, then the tsunami comes.
       They did have my car ready the next day as promised. I'm going to end this part of the Blog as we are now in a Pandemic.