Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Palm Springs Follies

At left: the Serval - common in Africa, weighing 15-30lbs, 41- 61 inches in length, amazing hearing.

At Right: the Caracal- found in India, Asia & Africa, one of the best hunters in the cat family, weighing 35- 50 lbs

Part I

After a late start on Sunday, Tenley and I arrived at Grandpa Duke’s house in Palm Springs to do a few days of house/dog sitting. We spent the afternoon getting groceries and settling in. Ten loves Grandpa Duke’s house because he has alot of floor space and not alot of furniture, so her world was suddenly filled with acres of carpet for crawling and endless pathways for practicing walking while holding on to Mommy’s fingers. Not only that, but there was one of those living breathing stuffed animals to chase around! After dinner I put Ten & Heidi (the pointy dog) in the stroller and we went for a walk around the neighborhood. My late grandparent’s, and now my father’s, house is in the old part of Palm Springs where there are only street lights on major streets, but not in the residential areas. I love walking here at night: you can see so many stars, and the warm desert breeze makes them twinkle; and when I was a child everyone illuminated the palm trees and cactus in their rocky front yards with colored up-lights. It was like walking through an aquarium without the water. After our walk, Ten had a bath and went happily to sleep in James’ Pack-N-Play (on loan as a crib). I made muffins and then headed off to do battle with the wiener dog for space on the 30+ year twin bed with the permanent Roger Schilken dent in it.

Part II

Tenley slept in until 9 on Monday, and after her breakfast we went over to the senior community to see Great-great Aunty Violet. She was asleep when we arrived, so we went into the gathering room of her cottage to hang out until she got up. One of the staff came over to talk to us, and after the usual comments about how cute Tenley is and how old she is, the girl got a quizzical look on her face and said “You didn’t just adopt her from China, did you?” “Yep! She’s been home 11 weeks.” I answered proudly. The girl looked stunned. “Oh my God! She’s real!” she exclaimed. “Very” I responded (knowing that I myself have thought that same thing on several occasions). She looked embarrassed as she explained “We’ve all heard Violet talk about somebody getting a baby from China, and we all just thought...” she trailed off. “You thought she was crazy.” I supplied. I laughed and told her not to worry that Violet was a little off occasionally (when you’re 94 you’re allowed to be) but in this case she was lucid. We had a nice visit and then headed home for a nap and a dip in the kiddie pool.
My nap was interrupted by a phone call from my Aunt Sandra who is in a health care facility in Palm Desert. Seems my Aunty Violet (her mother) called her to say I was in town. So the next thing I knew I was heading over to meet her friend Debbie so I could get baby shower gifts she’s had for me since April, and directions to her facility so I could visit her since we would be in Palm Desert on Tuesday anyway. :::sigh:::

Part III

Tenley woke up early on Tuesday, which fit in well with my plans to be at the Living Desert ( as close to their 9 am opening as possible. We got there with plenty of time to get oriented and head to the giraffe habitat for the 10 am feeding. The giraffes are like Pavlov’s dogs: they ring a bell at 10 am, and the big guys lumber over to the raised platform for treats of apple & carrots which the more than willing guests like Tenley & I place on their long gray tounges. We then headed over to the show, which I was glad was only 30 minutes – and surprised at how much attention Tenley paid to the animals they introduced. She seemed genuinely interested (pointing & grunting) in the Coati (a member of the racoon family), the Serval (whose big ears can hear rodents in their burrows underground) and the Caracal (a member of the mountain lion family). We also strolled around the desert habitat and saw Bat-Eared Foxes, Aardwolfs, Warthogs, Bobcats, and Ocelots.
Tenley fell asleep (rather like the Cheetahs) and we left and headed around the corner to see Aunty Sandy. We had a nice visit with her, and then we headed home for naps. The nice surprise of the day was that Jeff came down to have dinner with us! We headed over to Ruby’s on Palm Canyon which has a nice large patio for dining al fresco – perfect with the mild balmy nights in the lower desert right now. Tenley charmed the nice couple from Cornwall, England at the table next to us, as well as: the lady with the dog by the rail, the gay couple by the window, and the waiter.
Soon it was Wed., and I was packing up the car so we could head home after one more quick visit with Aunty Violet. Aunty Violet was thrilled that we came again, and thrilled that the nice Chinese lady who has the room next to hers was finally able to meet Tenley. The Warrior Princess slept all the way home to Riverside, content in the knowledge that she had conquered the desert.

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