Christmas Eve was sunny and warm. I played volleyball while Janice walked and then went for groceries. Later, while I was playing music, Janice swam some laps before we headed to Randy and Mary’s for a backyard cocktail party.
Pictured are some of the musicians on Christmas Eve. The only woman, Pearl, is a Newfie and, except for Randy, the upright bass player, who’s from Michigan, the others are from Ontario. From left: Newt, in the orange; Alec and Palmer.
After the cocktail party Janice and I went to Los Chicos Mexican Restaurant in Zephyrhills for dinner, where we had Chile Rellenos and then pulled pork with Salsa Verde and Cactus. We’d never had cactus before so it was both unique and delicious. JR, you were right, it’s from the Prickly Pear Cactus, which can be found around Kamloops.
Back at the park, still on Christmas Eve, everyone had lined the streets with plastic milk jugs lit from within by candles. Kind of like luminous white pumpkins every eight feet. It was very cool, with the odd camp fire glowing, and groups of people wandering around, some singing carols.
Christmas morning was warm and sunny again so I played volleyball while Janice walked and swam laps.
It seems that most Americans do Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners early in the afternoon. Our neigbbours, Freya and Ken, (relatives of our other neighbour’s, Jim and Rose) had a sit-down Christmas Dinner for fourteen, and we were placed right at the centre, fully engaged with turkey, ham and all the fixings by 1:00pm. Everyone who contributed to the dinner contributed their take on the traditional Christmas meal resulting in an unusually large number of different dishes. It was all very gracious of them because, except for Jim and Rose, we hardly knew anyone.
Pictured are: Christmas Dinner with hosts Ken and Freya. Ken is Roses's dad - pictured at bottom. Most of the people at the dinner play and sing gospel music.
Janice and I went for a miles long walk after the dinner but that had a minimal effect on the turkey hangover. Later we played Newfie Bingo with Jim, Rose, and more of their relatives, Cheryl, and The Other Jim.
Boxing Day, (which Americans don‘t recognize) we woke to spotty rain and brisk winds. After a cool, wet and windy walk around the park, the idea of lounging around, taking it easy while watching a little football, became more and more attractive.
We went for another less bitter walk at halftime. Janice went out for a couple of things while I caught the whole of The Jets loss to The Bears.
Before dinner I took two out of three games of Eight Ball from Janice. Later, we laid low, Janice getting a scratchy feeling at the back of her throat. By morning a full blown sore throat was the reality.
I had scheduled an appointment at the Ford Dealership for new tires for the truck. I asked them to look at the brakes at the same time because, at speed, they were chattering slightly. The good news was: The tires, which have to be ten ply and load rated for a one-ton truck, including mounting and balancing as well as a wheel alignment, came in at just $557.00.
Of course Jim had insisted on giving me a ride to the dealership. It was still cold so he asked us to choose an activity or destination to eat up some time while we were without a vehicle. Jim’s just one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back and is always there for everyone.
By the time Jim and I got back, Janice decided that she could handle a bit of bowling. Jim and Rose were up for it too. The lanes turned out to be of the Ten Pin variety, which none of us had played at for the past thirty or so years. Turns out that Ten Pin is actually easier than Five Pin, especially for Janice, who pretty well sucks at Five Pin. She finally backed her claims over the years that she’d do better at Ten Pin. Jim was the ace though, winning two out of three games.
Janice and Rose show their form bowling.
While we were bowling I got the call from The Dealership - The Bad News: The truck needed new rotors in the front; the rear rotors needed to be turned; of course it needed new brake shoes and whatever else they do when they do a brake job; it was also time for a power steering flush. All-in all it was another $950.00 on top of the tires.
Jim and Rose suggested we celebrate with fish and chips at The Chowder House - Rose had a coupon. Why not? When you take that kind of kick in the wallet, what’s another fifteen bucks?
Pictured are Jim and Rose at The Chowder House. Jim retired from thirty-one years as a Production Worker at GM Canada while Rose worked fourteen years in a plastic factory. They've been together since early high school and have grown kids as well as a bunch of grand kids. Jim tells his kids that if there's anything left when he goes, he's made a mistake somewhere.
As I write this, Janice nurses her throat on the couch while Jim and I wait for the call to go back to The Dealership for the truck.