Thursday, April 28, 2011

Social Butterflies

Ron and I are each other’s best friends. Over the years we have been a couple, we most enjoy spending time alone together. Occasionally, close friends are invited over for cocktails, dinner, or special celebrations. We share some events (Symphony, Opera, Cubs game) with friends. Family is spread across the country, and our infrequent visits and gatherings are joyful for us.

Facing retirement three years ago, we discussed a mutual concern about how we would meet new people and make friends. Historically, most of our friendships came from our work environment.

We had no idea that when we selected Prescott and Talking Rock Ranch (TRR) as our long term home we would be quickly and enthusiastically embraced by the community. It has been an incredible bonus to our new life in Arizona.

Suddenly, we are social butterflies! Between events planned by TRR Club and our new neighbors, our calendar is full when we are in Prescott. In a typical week, we golf, hike, dine at the club, and attend Friday Happy Hour. The Barn fitness center is another place to catch up with friends. We’ve attended neighborhood parties, private dinner parties, and spontaneous gatherings in people’s homes and on back patios. Last fall, we hosted a cocktail party for about twenty friends. And Ron’s culinary skills have been exercised on several occasions by having friends over to dinner, as we did just last night.

It’s amazing what comes out of old-fashioned neighborliness. When someone is injured or sick, help is always nearby. If a friend experiences a loss, people are ready to step in with a supportive and comforting presence. Need a ride into town? You’ll get multiple offers. There’s no reason to celebrate events alone, because people are always eager to make merry with you. It feels great. Really great.

Our relationship as a couple has been enhanced by this activity and social stimulation. It’s enjoyable to open our hearts to welcome new friends, and we look forward to sharing all the fun with our long time friends and family.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Twenty + Eight

Many of Runaway Boomer’s readers are already aware via Facebook that Ron and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary yesterday. And we celebrated in style! When considering our options, we talked about spending several nights in Phoenix or Las Vegas, playing golf, and having a nice dinner. However, it seemed unnecessary to spend money for travel and a hotel when we live in a resort community in Prescott. Talking Rock Ranch has all we wanted – golf, fine dining, and a nice place to stay (our own home).

We started our special day with a quick breakfast and coffee at Coop’s, Talking Rock’s little convenience store and gathering place. Then we headed for the driving range to warm up for a round of golf. The weather was warm and clear, and we enjoyed the company of one of our good friends on the course. For dinner, Talking Rock’s Chef Richard Saldivar treated us to a menu customized to our request. It began with a beautiful salad of fresh greens, apple, poached pear, candied walnuts and goat cheese. The main course was Surf & Turf; small filets perfectly grilled and sweet lobster with melted butter, served over creamed spinach. Dessert was beautiful (see picture below). Fresh raspberries and strawberries were nestled in puff pastry with a creamy filling. (Yes, we’re going to the fitness center today…)

As much as we enjoyed our meal, the best part of the evening was all the congratulations and best wishes from the staff at Talking Rock (like family), and the many friends who stopped by our table to chat. Once again, the warmth of our adopted community added a unique glow to our experience.

So we’ve been married for 20 years, but Ron often amends that to “20 + 8”, since we met in 1983 and dated for 8 years before wedding. He feels he should get at least partial credit for the 8 years, and I must agree. We have shared half of our lives together thus far, and look forward to many more years of love and companionship.

We extend our sincere thanks to all of our friends for being part of our lives and sharing our happiness.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's Walk 18

We just purchased a golf membership in Talking Rock Ranch in Prescott. Oh boy! This will allow us to play without worrying about greens fees accrued in the course of a month’s play. Today, we’re heading out to golf for the second time this week. I continue to work on my handicap, and am still very inconsistent with my game. I did manage a Par and a Birdie when I played on Tuesday – but those are the exception rather than the rule.

I am becoming more intimately familiar with the course and its challenges. It all used to be one big mish-mosh in my mind, but now I can walk the course mentally in pretty good detail. It’s helping me with club selection and strategy (that is, as much as someone at my skill level has a strategy).

HOLE 1: A fairly simple hole, unless your drive goes wild right into the retention pond…
HOLE 2: A straightforward Par 4, right behind our house!
HOLE 3: On this tough little Par 3, you have to hit over a small desert scrub-covered hill on the left. I use a 3 wood. “3 on 3” is how I remember it.
HOLE 4: The beautiful sweeping fairway on 4 often is a runway for jackrabbits.
HOLE 5: A oddly challenging hole, fraught with fairway bunkers.
HOLE 6: Ron has nicknamed this “The Death March”. It’s a 606-yard Par 5 that gives my 3 wood a workout. Very little hope for us chicks to par this hole. The best I’ve ever done is a double bogey, and happy to get it.
HOLE 7: Another Par 3. I use my 7 wood – “7 on 7”.
HOLE 8: Native landscape on the left and bunkers on the right. Stay in the middle, for sure.
HOLE 9: Front 9 finishes with a Par 5, and a water hazard on the right. Hit too close and your ball bounces right- splashing into the pond. The ducks scatter when they see me coming.

THE TURNAROUND: I recommend the panini-grilled hot dog. Delicious.

HOLE 10: A wide open, forgiving fairway. A fresh start for the back 9.
HOLE 11: Nicknamed “The Chasm”, on this Par 5 hole you must hit over a deep, dry ravine before approaching the green. I have lost many, many balls on this darn hole.
HOLE 12: Here, your drive has to fly over a “mini chasm” to get to the fairway. Not so bad. The green is elevated, which is a bit tricky.
HOLE 13: An uphill Par 3 surrounded by bunkers. If your drive misses the green, you are probably in trouble.
HOLE 14: My least favorite hole for a reason I have yet to determine.
A beautiful day on 15.
HOLE 15: The course’s signature hole is at a higher elevation, with a downhill approach to the green. The view of Granite Mountain is spectacular from the tees.
HOLE 16: A Par 3 where I very nearly got a Hole-in-One earlier this week. My first birdie on this course.
HOLE 17: A fairly straightforward Par 4 on the home stretch.
HOLE 18: This Par 5 is a tough way to finish, with prevailing winds often in your face from the west. Watch out for the big bunkers on the right, and the water on the left!

It’s a beautiful and challenging course – and it’s helping me become a golfer!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Lift Me Up

I love Chicago. But this time of year is trying. March teases you with a few pleasant days, but then cruelly makes it clear that it’s not truly Spring yet – not in Chicago, you fool. The dull gray, cold, damp, days drag on into April. Daffodils are barely poking their greenery into sight, but are a few weeks from blooming. When it came time to travel back to Arizona for a while, I was anxious to escape to sun and warmth.

Yesterday was a long travel day. At about 9:15am we caught the 80 bus west on Irving Park to the Blue Line station. We transferred to the el to O’Hare. Amazingly, Security at O’Hare was a breeze, so we waited about 2 hours at the gate until our flight departed. Upon arrival in Phoenix, we had about 45 minutes before our scheduled shuttle to Prescott (a 2 hour ride). Once in Prescott, we caught a taxi to our house, finally arriving home at 6pm local time (8pm Chicago time).

Knowing that the cupboard was bare here at the house, we headed immediately to the club for dinner. There was a crowd on hand for Prime Rib Buffet Night, and many people we know were in attendance. What actually caught me a little off guard was the warmth of our welcome back to Talking Rock Ranch…

As people realized we were there, they left their tables to greet us, with handshakes, hugs, and kisses. The warmth washed over us. We had a long chat with Chef, who was interested in where we have dined lately in Chicago. Several friends stopped by our table – one sitting down to visit for a few minutes. The food and beverage director and the bartender made a point of coming by to welcome us back. As we were leaving, we saw more friends who greeted us enthusiastically, and we both got hugs and kisses from our favorite server. We left the club last night with full tummies and full hearts (and a few invitations to play golf).

When we decided to invest in a home in Talking Rock Ranch and settle here, we knew that we had found a special place. What we didn’t realize is that we had found so many special friends. The more experience we have in the community, the more we appreciate how perfect it is for us and how uplifting to our spirit.

Thanks to a few of the people of Talking Rock who made last night an unexpected joy: Connie, Chef Richard, Ryan, Beth, Sara, Rose, Jayce, Terry, Jim, Kathy, Lonnie, Carol, Don, Bruce, Dean, Mike, and Jan. (I’m sorry if I left anyone out – I was kind of overwhelmed!)