Monday, February 28, 2011

Torme's Jazz Bar & Restaurant in Palm Springs

This past weekend I finally checked out a new hot spot in Palm Springs called Tormés. Located on North Palm Canyon Drive, it is a jazz bar and restaurant is  named for singer Mel Tormé whose high-tenor voice was so smooth beautiful & velvety he was nicknamed the "Velvet Fog". If you don't recall, Mel Tormé, was an accomplished American musician, jazz/pop singer, composer and arranger. He was a drummer, and actor in radio, film, and television, and a prolific author of five books. No doubt most people are familiar with his most well-known classic holiday song "The Christmas Song" (also known as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" which he co-wrote.
Tormés Jazz Bar and Restaurant is owned and run by Melissa Tormé (daughter of Mel Tormé) and her husband Ed Wald. I've had my eye on the place for awhile since they opened but have not been able to check it out until now. Tormés has a warm and inviting club atmosphere and is easy on the eyes. A sizzling bar area leads into the main dining room, where a tight stage sits as a focal point. Banquette table booths line the walls, creating a cozy, clubby feel. The walls feature restored vintage photographs of many of the great vocalists of jazz and standards, from Sinatra, Martin, Davis, Garland, and of course Tormé himself.
We were seated promptly in the main dining room at a great table by a cheery hostess. The evening had a rough start when we sat at the table for 25 minutes before our server greeted us. I was fuming, just seconds away from calling the restaurant from my table to ask for a server. HOWEVER, our server quickly apologized for the oversight. It was a snafu on table assignments or something. I made a point of informing her that I am a "local" and hoped the restaurant would impress me. (Believe me, it can be a very long summer for restaurants once the tourists leave). For restaurants to survive year round, they usually need support of the locals to hold them through the off-season. To her credit, she stepped up and made it right. I was happy with the service and food, and will definitely go back.

A diverse menu with reasonable prices, Tormés offers everything from veal piccata, filet of beef, halibut, salmon, gourmet pizzas and a range of perfect appetizer light dishes too. The live music truly adds to the atmosphere and makes Tormés feel different from other dining establishments in Palm Springs. 
Here, local and national musicians are headlined continuing Palm Springs' long-running ties to entertainment. It is rare to find supper-club type restaurants thriving and doing both music and food well. Tormés has a good vibe and should do well here in Palm Springs. The Palm Springs Savant gives it a "Three Palm" rating, so check it out. 360 North Palm Canyon Drive 760-327-1773

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Adventures of Sheldon & Duncan: Out for Exercise

It has been awhile since I've written of The Adventures of Sheldon & Duncan, and then yesterday I found inspiration for a new episode. The weather forecast for Southern California was menacing; threats of rains, wind and record cold temperatures. I envisioned a weekend being locked inside with the poodles unable to go out to play. Being young, large and energetic dogs, they need their daily exercise. Normally they go out several times per day to play- and burn off some steam. With the forecast of a long rainy weekend I decided to take them out a few times before the rains arrived. They love going for walks, especially when we get to one particular spot where it is safe to let them off-leash to run. Here is a short video clip of them out for exercise:

As you saw from this video, standard poodles are pretty good athletes. They love to run at high speeds and chase each other, taking turns at who leads in the game. It warms my heart to see them happy like this, enjoying their free time. It also serves as a reminder that some breeds need to run, and if paired with a home lifestyle that cannot offer that outlet, dogs can become unhappy and do naughty things indoors. So there is my PSA to urge folks to do your research on the needs of a breed before bringing one into your home. Meanwhile, both Sheldon and Duncan had another adventure while out for exercise. As it turned out, the rain was short-lived in the desert, and Palm Springs was spared most of the wintry-weather that fell on Southern California. So in the end, the poodles had access to their usual exercise adventure, repeated just like this video above. Indeed, it is good to be a poodle in my home.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saving Money on Electricity & Teach Kids Too!

Why is is that electricity is so expensive? At least here in Palm Springs we have wind farms with hundreds of wind turbines generating a huge amount of green energy for Californians. My brother recently told me that in certain states, power has been deregulated, meaning that consumers can choose who to buy their power from for their home. More competition usually means lower prices for the average household, which is nifty. Here in California, electricity has not been deregulated yet, (hopefully soon). For those of you interested in finding out more on deregulated energy, go to the LucaEnergy website for more information.

As I understand it, with deregulation the local utility basically becomes nothing more than an electricity delivery company. Households can choose an alternate source for the who generates the power they use. No matter which company you select, you still utilize the same local utility to deliver electricity, provide service read meters, and even billing, so it makes it very easy to save money. I'm very much in favor of alternative energy sources, which is another reason I am so hyped up about this stuff.

The tough part is there are only 20 states with energy deregulation, so you need to check to see if your state allows you to save money with choosing your power source. Hopefully deregulation will become available to all states, although I'm sure some politicians are dragging their feet because they get kickbacks from special-interest lobby groups, but that's just my theory.

I also saw something cute on this website- stuff to teach kids about alternative energy. They have a bunch of really cute things to buy that help kids learn at an early age. I love things like this, better than the usual kid toys and video game junk. As a reminder this is not a paid post, but I am happy to give a plug to the website that sells it. This same website also sells a bunch of stuff to help reduce the energy you consume in your home, or live a more green lifestyle. 
This banner will take you to a shop of energy saving products. Again, this is not a paid post, just me plugging a website that I think is great.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Bowl of Antioxidants & Health

One of the most important decisions one can make every day is what is consumed. Experts tell us that what we eat is equally important as what we don't eat. Fresh, whole foods, minimally processed- particularly dark colored vegetables and fruits are excellent. Processed, prepared foods laden with too much salt and sugars are bad. Everyone knows that, right? If I had one piece of advice to give, it would be to avoid things ready-to-eat in a package, and look for fresh foods. I've been trying to consume more berries. Deep, dark colors like blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are packed with antioxidants whose health benefits are numerous and well documented.

I am also a fan of dates. Living in Palm Springs, we grow all sorts of dates right here in the Coachella Valley, so its easy and inexpensive to buy dates. Dates are pretty good for you too. They are rich in potassium, calcium, sulfur, iron, phosphorus, copper, manganese and natural oils. Just one a day helps add to a balanced diet. Interestingly, dates are known to help with intestinal disorders, weight gain, heart problems, diarrhea, and relieve constipation too. Dates are not like prunes. I dislike prunes, but love dates. You can cook and bake with them, or eat them raw. I like to slice up dates and saute them with things like chicken or pork. I like them up for salads too. Lots of ways to enjoy dates and get the health benefits along the way.

So the next time you are thinking about what to snack on, go for a bowl of fresh mixed berries, and throw in some dates too. If you want to buy some dates grown here in the Palm Springs area, there is a local date farm called Shields  You can order dates online from their website. You can even follow them on Twitter @ShieldsDateGrdn (As always this is not a paid post, just me offering information).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Best in Show: Westminster Dog Show Final Night

Tuesday evening was a night of surprises and excitement at the Westminster Dog Show.  I've spent the past five days in New York in various events and activities around the dog show for business, but I truly enjoy the experience as well. I'm sort of old school with this dog show in that I like to dress up for the evening show and mix and have fun. I wore my poodle cuff links (see photo below), even though none of the poodles placed for their groups on Monday night. Still, I wore them to show my enthusiasm for the breed that are so closely embedded in my life.
My Poodle cuff-links, I just love 'em!

Tuesday night featured Sporting, Working, Terrier Groups followed by Best in Show. (Monday was Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups). I must admit, I had my eye on the Scottish Deerhound from the very start, but I didn't expect him to win. I had picked the Bearded Collie or Pekingese for some reason. Needless to say I was thrilled with the judge's pick.
judges in the ring with the new Best in Show
Judge Paolo Dondina of Monterchi, Italy pictured here with his Best in Show pick GCH Foxcliffe Hickory Wind, a 5 year old Scottish Deerhound.
As a representative of my employer, Natural Balance Pet Foods at the show, I was also Tweeting live from Madison Square Garden, using the Twitter hashtags #WKC and #WestminsterDogShow in all my Tweets. I was also happy to participate in an online fundraiser with a Twitter social media network organized under the #PawPawty hashtag. The special tag for Tuesday night was #WKCPawPawty to benefit Save A Pet rescue in Grayslake, IL. It was great social media comradery too!
As a live correspondent at the show, this PSA was recorded for the good folks at BarkWorld Expo
For those of you who followed along with all the Tweeting and live coverage, we sure had fun! It was a unique experience for us all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Day at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Yesterday was the second official day of the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I spent the entire day at Madison Square Garden, shoulder to shoulder with the handlers, judges and groomers. It is always an interesting blend of activity under one roof. The differences in dogs alone is enough to give pause. The tiniest of tiny toy dogs to the most giant breeds are benched (meaning they remain assembled on display when not being shown). The Westminster Kennel Club is an all-breed, benched show so there are lots of dogs to see while walking around. 
Dogs and their handlers are from all over the country competing in the most prestigious show in the US. I read somewhere that the Westminster Kennel Club is the longest running sporting event in American History, after the Kentucky Derby (horse racing). The sport of Dog Fancy has officially been around since the early 1900's, but of course human affection for dogs dates back thousands of years.
As the day progressed, there were plenty of sights that that caught my eye. This one (photo left) was an interesting switch. Most tables, it was the dog getting groomed. But here, it was the handler being groomed by the dog's groomer. I loved how her dog looked on while her handler's hair was brushed! Cute, huh? Well it seemed to me anyway!
A nervous moment of jitters of both the dog and handler.

Exhausted, but happy to be in the limelight.

This terrier was super cute with a great personality.

This cutie was standing on his grooming table patiently while he was given a hair trip. I just loved the towel draped around his neck, almost as a person would in a barber shop. I chuckled to myself because even if a few hairs fell onto his shoulder, his shoulders are covered in fur too. But maybe I was missing something.
He was also getting a manicure/pedicure. He extended his paw quite readily and stood perfectly still. These are the sort of things you don't often think about or see when they cover dog shows, so I just had to include this in today's post.
She is Pretty in Pink, don't you think?

a deflated St Bernard who didn't place in his breed group

Mickey won Best in Breed for St Bernards

isn't this a great line up- look at them all....

Wonderful Irish Setters

I love this photo, ready for the judge, please!

Stay tuned tomorrow for more photos!

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Begins

Welcome to another year of coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. By now you know I am in New York City with my company, Natural Balance Pet Foods participating in this revered dog show. I'm privileged to have many years of personal experience at Westminster, so it is familiar territory for me. Knowing a number of judges, handlers, groomers and such has provided first-hand knowledge of the sport of Dog Fancy. I love the pet industry in general, and feel very fortunate to continue to work within it. 

Before I go any further, I should emphasize yet again that There are many many really excellent dogs (and cats) living in shelters across America that need a good home. If you are considering adding a dog to your home, please do some very simple research online and then visit your local shelter. You just may be surprised by the wonderful dogs that just need a second chance.

The Hound Group assembles
Dog Shows like Westminster showcase the traits and qualities of various dog breeds. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about the needs of breeds to determine if they are a good fit for your home and lifestyle. Westminster is the ultimate reality show, with elimination rounds taking place all day long to identify the Best in Breed to advance to each group, and ultimately Best in Group.
I've always enjoyed viewing each group of dogs and cheering on my favorites. Of course, I've had the opportunity to learn more about what makes each breed "standard" and "winning" to earn the vaulted title of Champion (CH) or Grand Champion (GCH).
Each group is fun to watch and pick one's favorites. Within the Toy Group I was partial of course to the Toy Poodle, but it was not meant to be this year. At left in the center is of friend Mr Kaz Osaka, a well-respected handler and groomer of poodles. Sadly, none of the poodles advanced to the finals, so they won't be competing for Best in Show on Tuesday. But they sure were swell, all the same!

The judging ring for the Toy group, before all the dogs entered the ring. I'm not personally a toy dog fan but some make really fun pets. I'm just thrilled to be here sharing all this excitement. I used a combination of personal opinion, knowledge of each breed and audience reaction to pick my own favorites within each group.
Betty White speaks about Adoptions and shelters

This photo of Havanese is for Diane @CosmoHavanese

I was busy Tweeting live via Twitter from Madison Square Garden, providing my own silly brand of commentary of each group and dog type. I'll be back Tuesday evening with more live commentary from Madison Square Garden, where at the end of the evening a new Best in Show cup will be awarded. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wonderful Weekend of Westminster

I'm not sure where the last year went, but here we are at another Westminster Dog Show.  I've attended this show for a very long time and each year I still find it exciting and interesting too. For those of us who enjoy the Dog Fancy, it is a real treat to be around all these dogs and enjoy their own distinct personalities. This weekend was action packed, including the Pre-Westminster Doggie Fashion Show, (pics here) a "Doggie Wedding", the Show Dog Awards, a Yappy Hour shelter benefit and an exhibition for dog fanciers which is still running at the Hotel Pennsylvania.
The dogs involved at Westminster need to burn off some pent up energy and keep fit too! These "Jog A Dog" treadmills do the trick. I get a kick out of seeing the dogs hop right up on the treadmill and walk on it, in a very matter-of-fact manner. Not sure why I find it so amusing, but I just do.
Me and my dear friend Miss Candy
Aside from the work aspect of being at Westminster, it is also nice to see old friends again and chat about the dogs we love. Dog shows have plenty of non-glamorous aspects to them, but there are nights when you get to dress up and celebrate these wonderful creatures who bring so much joy into our lives. Today and tomorrow I'll be at Madison Square Garden most of the day working with and talking to the show handlers, groomers and judges- all behind the scenes stuff you won't see on television. I'll try to get some photos to share if I can.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gearing up for Westminster Dog Show

There is only one Westminster. It is the granddaddy of Dog Shows here in the US. Dog lovers have once again descended on midtown Manhattan to compete for Best in Show at New York's fabled Madison Square Garden. The hotels and streets are filled with Champion Dogs and Bitches who have proved their worthiness over a series of local dog shows around the country over the past year and longer.

Organizers of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show wisely incorporate a strong focus on animal rescue and adoption as part of the promotions around the sport of dog breeding, handling, grooming and showing. There are of course, thousands if not millions of really excellent dogs and cats in local shelters waiting for a good home.

Watching the Westminster Dog Show is actually a great way to learn about various breeds, as they always include information about the breed traits, temperament and needs. This is the single most important thing people forget to do when they decide to add a pet to their home. It's never a good idea to pick a pet just on looks or what you've seen in a movie or on TV. Always read up on a pet's traits and needs before making a decision. Consider your own lifestyle, schedule, home environment and budget as factors in the decision of which breed to add to your life. Certain breeds are known to be great family pets, while others can be more focused on just one human. Some dogs have high energy needs and long to run- those wouldn't be a great choice if you live in a small apartment or don't have the free time to take the dog for the exercise it will need. So watching Westminster on TV is a handy step toward increasing your knowledge of various breed types.

When you go to a shelter to adopt, ask questions about the breed and be honest about your own limitations as a pet parent. Incidentally, if you are on Twitter, search for the  hash tag #pawpawty to help shelters!

I've been attending Westminster for the past eight years- maybe longer I forget! It is so much fun to be around all the dogs who are clearly having FUN. You'll notice it when you watch the show on TV, when a dog wins, they get excited and smile, jump around and often kiss their handler. It is almost as if they know. Who knows, maybe they do!

Over the years I've had the opportunity to get to know hundreds of people who enjoy the sport of showing dogs. Is everyone perfect? No certainly not. But who among us are? By and large, the overwhelming majority of people who show dogs do it out of the love of dogs, and are exceptionally proud of their breed.

It was here that I became introduced to Standard Poodles. They love-love-love the show process. They clearly love to be groomed, primped and fluffed. I've actually caught my own Sheldon looking at himself in the mirror when he returns from the groomer. It is hilarious that he knows he looks good and wants to admire himself.

Anyway, as I attend the various events here at Westminster I'll try to capture some moments and share them on the blog and on Twitter. Pets are my passion. My only regret is that my two standard poodles are back at home in Palm Springs. But come to think of it, they are probably relaxing poolside with a bowl of Evian Water while I am bundled up in New York. I'm perfectly OK with them getting whatever they want! Catch the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on the USA Network Monday and Tuesday evenings.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On Being in Egypt

You may recall I visited Egypt in October of 2009 while visiting the Aegean Sea. Egypt was both the highlight and low-light of the entire trip on many levels. But I loved Egypt, no matter what. That's why I'm saddened to see what's going on there right now. I was mesmerized by the ancient history; it is truly the birthplace of civilization. I can still recall the sensation of touching the pyramids as if it were yesterday. I tend to do that when I travel, I try to feel any "vibrations". I've always been strange like that, its my spiritual side I suppose. Anyway being in Egypt felt oddly familiar, almost as if I had walked the sands before in a prior life. My trip to Egypt met-and exceeded all of my expectations. It was as intellectually stimulating and beautiful as I had conjured up in my mind after years of reading about ancient Egyptian history.

We hired a private guide to take us through Cairo and Alexandria. He was an Egyptologist who worked part time as a guide but his passion was studying and the preservation of Egyptian artifacts. He brought us to so many places that gave us an experience we just wouldn't have had on our own or with an American tour group bus. We spent time sitting in a mosque, learning about Islam. I was fascinated.

But Egypt was also the low-light of the trip. Extremes in society. An overbearing President. Poverty. Overcrowding. Polluted rivers and streams. I recall our journey in from Port Said- a speeding van escorted on either side by soldiers in jeeps heavily armed. The entire road we traveled into Cairo was shut down for us to pass through. It was jarring, but I assumed it was life in that part of the world.

It troubles me to see what has become of Egypt. The protests, violence and blood that has been shed are disturbing. I suppose it has been oppressive for way too long. The only difference is that the people have awakened and are now demanding more. The scenes on television and on the internet are incredible. Selfishly, I am grateful that I was able to visit Egypt and spend time while it was still safe. I'll cherish those memories of Egypt. My thoughts are with the people of Egypt struggling for basic freedoms. Let's home what comes next will eventually provide peace and a better life for Egyptians and its neighbors.
For those of you interested, here are the links to my posts on Egypt from October, 2009:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Basics of Blogging and Joining the Conversation

Recently I was interviewed by CBS for a news story they were working on about Blogging and Social Media. Naturally, I was happy to participate. After all, I enjoy blogging and various aspects of social media- I believe it is changing the world as we speak. Long time readers know that this blog was initiated because I wanted to share information about what it is like living in the beautiful desert of Palm Springs. 

I've been fortunate to be able to attend a wide range of social events and to meet many interesting people along the way. Of course, living in a place that boasts "having more stars than there are in the sky" means it isn't unusual to be sitting next to a famous person while having lunch, or to rub elbows with the likes of Brad Pitt while sipping a martini. In addition to all that, I truly love this city, and want to spread the word about how great a place Palm Springs is to visit.

I suppose being The Palm Springs Savant it helped that the local affiliate here in Palm Springs KPSP CBS-2 wanted to run the story. They posted excerpts of the TV interview on their station website (see clip below).

Reporter Kate Cagle was wonderful to work with, and also posted this article on the CBS-2 website. Kate does a great job demonstrating how easy it is to start blogging and using other tools such as Twitter and Facebook. This article is part of a series on technology and social conversations, so I would recommend checking it out, and don't forget to Tweet back at Kate that you liked the story. Her Twitter name is @KateCagle and her TV station name on Twitter is @LocalTwo Oh give me shout out on Twitter to me too @RickRockhill

The Basics of Blogging and Joining the Conversation

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No Kitchen, No Problem!

Well I still don't have a functioning kitchen yet. I arrived back home last night  with my fingers crossed, hoping that something would be working. The remodel is progressing fine, but just not with any appliances or working sinks. No kitchen?  No Problem! It certainly means no cooking yet for me. That meant another night of dining out. It was off to my favorite spot in Palm Springs for dinner, Melvyn's restaurant at the Ingleside Inn. I've been there rather frequently since my kitchen remodel work began. So much so that the waiter greeted me by name and asked if I wanted the Chicken Pot Pie even before he handed me the menu. I suppose I am a creature of habit, but really, am I that predictable? Brian, the Maitre' D at Melvyn's asked about the kitchen remodel. He joked that he was going to call my contractor to ask them to go slower so I'd continue coming back for dinner next week too! At any rate it was another delicious meal. Tomorrow is a new day, and that brings fresh hope of appliances and sinks. A boy can dream.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The King's Speech

It was a lovely weekend in Palm Springs, in fact almost too nice not to be outdoors. However earlier in the week I had set my mind on going to the Regal Cinema to see The King's Speech. No matter how nice the weather was, I was going to see this film! Admittedly I am a bit of an Anglophile, so I knew I would enjoy the film. Having lived in England many many moons ago I remain to this day affected by and inclined toward, all things British (which includes England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland for those of you interested). But once again I digress. Back to The King's Speech.

Above all, this is a film with two broad themes: overcoming obstacles in one's life, and friendship. The film is based on a true story, about England's King George VI. It starts with a aging and unwell King George V (played rather well by Michael Gambon) and the goings on of The Duke of York (Guy Pearce), heir to the throne who is scandalously infatuated with American soon-to-be-divorcee Wallis Simpson.  Upon the death of his father, he becomes King Edward VIII and is basically having one big party after another. His mind is on the love of his life, Wallis and nothing will stand in his way of pursuing the relationship. As the monarch is also head of the Church of England, he is not permitted to marry a divorced woman. Therefore he abdicates the throne, which is immediately thrust on his brother, Prince Albert or "Bertie" (amazingly portrayed by Colin Firth) who suffers from a bad case of the stammers and fear of public speaking.

His wife, Elizabeth (known to the world as the Queen Mum in later years) offers support, love and encouragement to help her husband conquer his fears (Helena Bonham Carter offers up an inspirational performance here). She introduces her husband to a speech therapist Lionel Logue, a rather unorthodox therapist who engages in a series of amusing and insightful sessions to cure the future and then newly crowned King of England.

Despite being two completely different men, with very different backgrounds in every manner, they unknowingly forge a friendship that lasts through their lives. At stake is an ever-rising threat from Adolf Hitler who eventually declares war on England. The story builds to the King's coronation and then to his defining moment, The King's Speech to his nation where he informs them the nation has been drawn into war with Germany. The King learns about himself, his life and about friendship. 

The story is quite inspiring and very entertaining. It has genuinely funny moments and despite having seen the film here among a theatre of Americans, it felt very much like the entire audience connected with the King. As a matter of fact, when the film ended the audience applauded, which took me by surprise.

If you are looking for a feel good film with a dash of history, I highly recommend The King's Speech. It's worth the two hours of your time. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Doing What They Said They Would Do

Over the last few weeks I've been a part-time General Contractor of sorts. In truth, just half of a part-time GC (or does that make me a quarter of a GC?) I'll introduce you to my other part-time GC in a bit. But I digress. It all started with the decision to do a bit of a re-fresh on the kitchen. Let's just re-do the cabinets, I thought. And maybe adding a new cabinet here or there also seemed to make sense. There was quite a bit of unused space in the kitchen, hmmm.

Insightful and clever as you are, gentle reader-doubtless you know where this is going. Yes, the little kitchen refresh turned into a tad bit more. A decision to replace the cabinets was followed by some new appliances. It also seemed logical to re-purpose some of that other unused space into a  butler's pantry. Can you believe that we didn't have a pantry for our butler?  Seems like a crime, I know. So we built one.
Shortly thereafter there was the hideous realization that the new appliances we ordered were larger than the opening of our front gate. So the courtyard would need re-doing. Then of course there was an electrician, plumber, dry-wall work, carpentry, tile work etc. I think you get the full picture by now. None of this was ever planned and suddenly I found myself in the role as a mini-General Contractor, coordinating all these projects, craftsmen and such. Fortunately I can tell the difference between a wrench and a ratchet, and was able to pull it off. I also studied at the Pretend-General Contractor Academy of Lollypopland so I am most definitely qualified.

There were a hideous amount of details and decisions to be made. Who knew that sink faucets came in options of cold water only? Whoops. Well anyway I'm finally coming to the point of this post. Much to my delight, every craftsman and company who has had a part in this production have fulfilled their word and did what they said they would do. 
Let me pause to introduce you to my co-General Contractor for the job. Meet Mr Sheldon Gryffindor, contractor extraordinaire. Here he is, in what would soon become the butler's pantry, looking out the window. All the construction debris didn't bother him in the least. He kept everything running like clock-work, helping to ensure everyone did their jobs.

Let me back up a bit on the project and start with Lowe's. Working with the Lowe's kitchen design team was a detailed process. Two designers in the Palm Springs store Bruce and Gail were knowledgeable and helpful. Kraftmaid cabinets (made in the USA I am pleased to report) built and delivered high quality cabinets on-time and exactly as ordered. I was amazed with the service by both Lowe's and Kraftmaid. Lowe's told me what to expect from Kraftmaid in terms of phone calls, verifications and delivery details. And by golly that was exactly what they did. Considering the cabinets were designed here in Palm Springs, built in Ohio, shipped by railroad, then delivered to my house by truck, on-time and in perfect condition was amazing. Kraftmaid called me the day before to estimate delivery time window and then called again the morning of delivery to provide a half hour delivery window time. It sure made things easy.

The cabinet installer from Lowe's was a professional carpenter named Javier who did an impressive job with great attention to detail. Needless to say I am delighted with the new cabinets.

The courtyard was demo'd to provide free access to the appliances, which have been installed on-time. The electrician has performed more work ever initially scoped; cutting some 60+ holes in the drywall to position all the outlets, light switches and such. As you might imagine the dry-wall guy will get a nice paycheck with all the patchwork. It is all coming together nicely, and without any major glitches. 
Mr Sheldon helped me select the granite for the counter tops, which in and of itself was surprisingly difficult to decide on the right look. I finally found an interesting pattern called Rainforest Green (see left). I purchased this granite from VIP Floors in Palm Springs, who I also might add, were terrific. My co-GC Sheldon Gryffindor sniffed out the granite and gave the final approval, and with that we were on our way toward the final phase of the kitchen re-do.

With so many horror stories out there about home improvement projects, I felt compelled to share my story of good experiences. On reflection of this project, it occurred to me that everyone did what they said they would do. Isn't that refreshing?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Visit To Mount San Jacinto

At the moment, it seems that most of the US is covered in snow, with cold, icy conditions. Rather than being a jerk and boasting about the weather here on the desert floor of Palm Springs, I thought I'd take you 10,000 feet above sea level, up to the top of the San Jacinto Mountain. A quick ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway brings one to another climate, just overlooking the desert floor. Welcome to Mount San Jacinto State Park.
Here, the temperatures are usually between 30 and 40 degrees cooler than the desert floor below. During the summer months when it is 100 degrees (or more) the tram offers an easy escape to cooler temperatures. During the winter months, the top of the mountain receives a healthy share of snow. Being an east-coaster by birth, at times I miss the snow, so its a real treat to walk in the snow even if just for a short while. Last week while up at the top of the tram, someone in my group (who is a native Southern Californian) had never seen or touched snow before. She was thrilled to make a snowball for the first time.
People don't often associate snow with Palm Springs, but I assure you we have it- several feet in fact. Its just 10,000 feet above where I live everyday. Most of the time I just look at the snow capped mountain from my back yard while I sip my cawfee in the morning. As a side note, this photo (above left) is of the desert floor, looking back down onto Palm Springs while at the top of the mountain.
This photo at left is while up on top of Mount San Jacinto along the hiking trails. Nature offers such beautiful scenery, all we need to do is take the time to appreciate it. People often ask me what I like best about living in Palm Springs. My answer is always the same- the incredible beauty of nature. This is probably not the perspective of Palm Springs one might expect to see here on this blog, but it is very real. It is also my own little way of showing empathy for the rest of the country dealing with the snow. Hang in there! And if you really can't take it anymore and just need a break, come visit us in Palm Springs.


This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.

It is for entertainment purposes only it, so just lighten up and just enjoy it. Life is short, live in the moment.

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