Monday, December 26, 2005

A Quiet Christmas

With no kids here, it was a quiet Christmas with no fanfare this year. We went to June & Roger Dorner's house on Christmas Eve day to have dinner with them (and their kids and grandkids). Yummy.

Yesterday, on the actual Christmas Day, they met us at the Royal Fork Buffet since their kids had to go back home (to Moscow, Idaho) early Sunday.

What did Santa bring? He delivered the car early, and reserved us a place in Palm Springs (see pictures above) for the month of February. We've been very good this year.

This complex is called
Canyon Shores and we've stayed there several times. Click on the link to see more pictures and get more info. We love the convenient, central, location in Cathedral City, which is on the east edge of Palm Springs and west of Palm Desert. Our friends, Bud & Dorothy McIntire, live across the street at Cathedral Canyon Country Club where they have 27 very interesting, difficult, water laden holes of golf. I've played very good to very bad rounds of golf there. :-)

We'd love to hear about your Christmas and what's in store for the new year. You may e-mail us at:

Holiday Cheer!
Max & Carol Williams

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Golf Bags

Here is a picture of (most of) the golfing gang I hang out with. I call them the "Golf Bags". This is the group I play golf with on Tuesdays (if I'm not too busy working)... and we are all members of the Three Lakes Golf Course, so we play on our regular ladies day which is Thursday during the golf season. I didn't actually play much golf this year, but they let me hang out with them whenever I have the time.

During the winter we take turns hosting, and get together on Tuesday to play Farkel, which is a dice game also known as 10,000. Every year at Christmastime we get together at one of our homes and have a salad and dessert potluck. We don't make assignments, just bring what you want... and it's always amazing at the balance and variety. We've never yet had ALL desserts or ALL salads but it's always ALL good. We take an annual Christmas photo and this one was taken yesterday, December 20th. Unfortunately, there were about four of our regulars missing for various reasons.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Grandma's Fudge Recipe

My friend, Amy, who recently moved here from Nevada gave Max and me a wonderful box of Christmas goodies. In the box were two mugs with hot chocolate mix, a candy cane and a tin of fudge made from her Grandma Betty Huxford's fudge recipe. Amy was very close to her Grandma and she died this year, so this batch of fudge was made from the heart in remembrance of her Grandma. This is the story of Amy's efforts to get the fudge just the way Grandma used to make it:

Dear Carol and Max,
Here is some FUDGE I made from the heart. I was thinking about my Grandma and some of her Christmas cooking. I remember her making holiday cookies, popcorn balls, and fudge. A few years back I helped her make fudge for the family. So… my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be a good idea to make fudge and put it in small tins as a part of gift baskets for both sides of the family and close friends. It was a well thought out plan with good intentions.

So here is the FUDGE STORY:
(I am now convinced that FUDGE is a very bad word)

I dug through many boxes to hunt down Grandma’s recipe book. Found the fudge recipe and scurried down to the store and bought all the ingredients. Everything was going as planned until the actual fudge making process began.

The instructions said to boil until it forms a soft ball and folds. So I kept boiling and boiling until the crap started to crystallize! I took it off the burner and as it started to cool it turned into one massive concrete ball! I ended up with this rock hard blob that adhered itself to the bottom of the pot. It was stuck in there so bad I literally had to throw the pot away. Somehow I missed the “soft” ball stage!

Round Two:
I dug up an older pot to cook with just in case round one was repeated. This time I cooked the liquid until it started to fold and then I took it off the heat and stirred it for awhile until I realized it was getting very hard in a hurry. This batch did make it to the cooling pyrex but after it was completely cool it was hard enough to break every tooth in my mouth. I think we could use this batch as additional blocks for the retaining wall.

Round Three:
I felt I was getting closer to making edible fudge. All I had to do is pour myself another drink and cook the liquid for a shorter amount of time. That should do it right? Mmmm…..well, I stuck to my plan of more drinking and less boiling. I took the liquid fudge substance off the fire much earlier this time. As it cooled I stirred, and stirred, and stirred. I was so confident that this batch was going to be perfect I added a bunch of expensive walnuts to it. I poured the warm fudge into the pyrex and waited for it to cool. As it cooled it was supposed to harden. I waited, and waited, and waited. It did harden some but not to the classic fudge consistency that I had expected. The fudge looks more like a soft brownie but it is edible and does taste good. I cut it up and individually wrapped the pieces just like Grandma used to do (which was an ordeal in itself that I will not go into).

Round Four:
After a semi-successful batch, I got the urge to make one final attempt at the perfect fudge. I scraped the bottom of the butter barrel and used every last teaspoon of sugar in the house. This was it, there were no more ingredients to do another batch after this. It had to be done right. I thought about this “soft ball” thing and realized what that means. You drop some boiling liquid onto a plate and when it cools it should form a soft ball. That is the point when you take the fudge off the burner and start beating it until it “folds”. Brilliant! So, I boiled the liquid for awhile and then started making splatters onto a plate. They were not making soft balls, but they sure did taste good. I think my theory was correct with the soft ball idea, but I kept eating all the drippings before they became totally cool enough to make a ball, oops.

At this point I was totally “FUDGED up” and just wanted to eat a piece of my creation and be done with the project. I got nervous that the substance would crystallize again so I took the last batch off the burner and started to beat it. I had used all the walnuts in the previous batch so this round would be nut free. I poured the last of the fudge into the cooling pyrex for the final attempt. This might have been it? Well, as close to “good” as it is going to get. It is still a bit soft but at least you won’t break any teeth!

Final Conclusion:
I now know why Grandma always had drinks while making fudge. I learned that making fudge is no easy project but love my family and friends enough to attempt making gifts that are truly from the heart. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!
The Greenhalghs

Friday, December 09, 2005

Our New "Baby"

O.K... here it is, the replacement for the Mitsubishi... and the reason the Mitsu is on the selling block.

This is a 2006 Ford Five-Hundred SEL All-wheel drive. We love it. This vehicle has just received a top safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, so we're certainly pleased with that. Here's the announcement:
"Ford Five Hundred is the only car to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick-Gold” status — plus the government’s 5-Star Crash Test Ratings in four categories, even without the optional front seat side air bags installed".

One of the reasons we bought a new car was to have a little larger (and safer) vehicle for highway driving. With the price of fuel these days, we decided it's not "responsible" to drive the van much since it only gets an average of 14 mpg. The Mitsubishi, although a great car that we love, is just a little to small for long trips. We do plan a trip to Palm Springs this coming February, so the Five-Hundred will get a good road test. We're looking forward to that!

For all the details and a complete interior and exterior tour of this car, click here.

Have a great week-end!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My Beloved Mitsubishi

Today I take on the sad task of preparing my beloved 1999 Mitsubishi Galant for it's next proud owner. Tomorrow I will post a picture of the reason we're selling this car. This 1999 Galant has been lovingly taken care of, with oil changes every 3,000 - 4,000 miles and regular transmission fluid changes, as well. There are about 88,000 gentle miles on it. It's a very comfortable car, with plenty of power on the road. It's front-wheel drive, has air conditioning, and very good heater, and power windows. Gas mileage runs about 20 mpg around town and over 30 mpg on the highway. If you're interested in an excellent used car, give me a call. I'm starting the price at $4900 (with some room for negotiation). 509-670-7840... or e-mail me at:

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Happy Holidays!

May a warm glow follow you through the Holiday Season
and into the New Year!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mission Ridge - Opening Day

Tomorrow (Saturday) is opening day for our local ski area, Mission Ridge. So, it was good timing for tonight's viewing of Warren Miller's latest release("Higher Ground"). We went to the film, at the convention center, with our friends Troy & Amy Greenhalgh. Troy and Amy (who recently moved to Wenatchee from Sparks, Nevada) love to snowboard, so they were pretty jazzed about going to see the film.

Max & I could only reminisce about the good old days and ponder our fond memories of days gone by. We remember the days when we would pack a lunch and eat on the mountain between runs. We used to love to take off at noon during the week and go up for half a day of skiing. But, we quit skiing several years ago, after Max was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Max said his brain would tell him to turn, but his body wasn't responding like it should... so he decided that was a sign that it was time to quit!

Mission Ridge is really an excellent ski area, featuring lots of light powder snow and a wide variety of runs for the skiers of every skill level. The new high speed quad chair should be a great asset and, even though we are currently getting lots of real snow, the expanded snowmaking capabilities will also be a great advantage to a consistent and extended season for the upcoming season.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Last of the Leftovers

Tonight was the night for the batch of homemade turkey noodle soup. All the other leftovers are gone, so I took the scraps and the leftover stock and built a masterpiece with noodles, and veggies and turkey... and added dumplings on top. YUM! Turns out I had more "stuff" than broth, so I'll have to make some more stock before reheating it tomorrow.

I had a hard time getting a picture of this because the camera lens kept fogging up.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Feast

The turkey was plump and brown when it came out of the oven... and we were feeling pretty plump ourselves after the Thanksgiving feast at our house. J.R. came up from Yakima and Jeff came over from Renton, so I cooked a 12# turkey and all the trimmings. As always, I love having the leftovers so I don't have to do any real cooking for a few days. I'm looking forward to putting together a big pot of turkey noodle soup, and adding some dumplings on top!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Blessings

Max & I would both like to extend our warmest regards to everyone for a very Happy Thanksgiving.

We are so grateful for our many blessings, most of which derive from our love for each other and for our family and friends.

Carol & Max

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Miss Nellie / Meet Maggie

Nellie is the name I gave to the GPS navigational system built in to Lana's mini-van. I loved listening to "Nellie-the navigator" guide us through the maze of round-a-bouts, in her British accent. I miss hearing: "Your route is being calculated" and "Prepare to turn left at the next exit". Imagine this in the British accent.

I miss Nellie so much I went shopping for a navigational system of my own when we returned home. As luck would have it, Costco was selling the Magellan 360 Roadmate, which is a portable GPS navigational system that you plug into your cigarette lighter and attach (with a suction cup) to the windshield. I just got it a couple of days ago, and am enjoying getting to know this new navigation system..."Maggie Magellan", a poor (but good looking and smart) cousin to Nellie. I particularly like the lighted panel feature, which makes it really easy to keep track of upcoming turns during night driving.

When we were in England, our son-in-law, Rob, and I spent part of an evening shopping online for a new Ford Five-hundred, which is the car I would like to get someday. It is all-wheel drive, has a large trunk for my real estate signs, and sits a little higher than most cars which would make getting in and out easier for Max (and me too, of course). If anyone is Christmas shopping for us, I do like the "silver birch" exterior color. :-)

Anyway, the built-in navigation systems are listed at $1995 as an add-on! I blinked hard at that... and am now appreciating the $599 portable system I bought at Costco. The other great thing about the portable system is that it can be moved from car to car... or, in our case, car-to-van. Sometimes we travel in the van and sometimes we take the car on trips. With the cost of fuel now, we're inclined to take the car (1999 Mitsubishi Galant) on trips these days. It gets just about twice the mileage as the van, and is quite comfortable. Of course, we can't take as much stuff with us or crawl in the back and take a real nap, like in the van. Oh well, compromises and sacrifices must be made in the name of being environmentally and financially responsible.

I've been testing Maggie around town and am looking forward to seeing how she performs on a real road trip. Stay tuned for that report in the future. Oh... and I programmed Maggie to speak in a British accent too. How cool is that?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Typical English Village

This excursion was taken on Saturday, October 22nd. I absolutely love all the villages throughout the country. It would be easy to spend all day just wandering around enjoying the ambiance.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a fairly typical English village. If you click here, you will be linked to a map of Bourton so you can get an idea of where it is in the country. You can zoom in and out from the left of the map screen. If you zoom out and locate Stratford, that's the proximity of where Solihull is (where Lana & Rob live).

Most of the homes that were on the main streets of these villages have been converted into hotels, restaurants or gift shops. Notice how narrow some of the streets are? It's not uncommon for side view mirrors to get damaged in traffic... and, of course, they drive on the wrong side of the street!

Remember, you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thanks To Our Veterans

I'd like to take this moment to pay tribute to my Dad, Bruce Normond Klock (1913-1964), who was a veteran of World War II... and also to all the past and present soldiers, who risk their lives to preserve our freedoms.

God Bless America

The DeVere Belfry

The DeVere Belfry is a beautiful course, which has served as an International Ryder Cup Venue. Lana called earlier in the day to see if I could get on the course to play 9 holes this day (Friday November 4th). Before they would commit to allowing me to play they wanted to know my handicap. They agreed to let me play when we told them my handicap is "12". But, as it turned out, it was a cold day and I was suffering from some kind of cough and cold so we settled for taking pictures and buying some souvenirs.

Solihull Continued

Although we're back in the good 'ol U.S., I've still got digital photos and info to share about our trip. Here are several pictures taken right at the Solihull Mall area.

On our last day in England, Lana took us to the mall where they set up an open air market on Fridays. Here they sell anything from produce and cheeses, to jams, breads, pot pies and a variety of other things. Down the lane from this produce stand was a food stand selling ostrich burgers. Yes Ostrich burgers. Max, Lana and I all had one. They were quite good... not a strong flavor, but the meat was a bit dry. If I were to make them at home, more condiments would have made them even better.

The next picture is a shot of the buildings across the street from the Mall. If you enlarge the next photo, you will see the huge Starbucks coffee sign in the window. The next photo is of a line-up of taxis waiting to take on passengers... then a picture of the two-decker buses. All of these photos were taken in the same general vicinity. Notice the brick inlaid streets. Very nice.

After leaving the Mall area, we drove out to the Belfry golf course. See pictures of that in the next post.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

We're Back

We arrived home safely late Saturday evening, with our friends June and Roger Dorner waiting at Pangborn Airport for our arrival. Since I was so tired that everything was looking blurry, it's probably a good thing I didn't have to drive anywhere. A chauffeur was a welcome bonus.

I've posted a picture of Horizon Air here as a reward for being the only airline that could manage to depart or arrive on schedule. We flew United the rest of the trip and not one single leg of the trip departed or arrived on schedule. We are talking major delays, not just a few minutes here and there. On nearly every leg we feared for not making our connecting flight, or that our luggage would not have time to be transferred. I can't say that I would ever choose United Airlines again, if I had the choice. But, Lana & Rob took great care of us, we had a great trip and we ARE home safe and that's what's important. Lana was so diligent in taking us somewhere nearly every day. She has really studied English history since she's been there and we were quite impressed with her knowledge. She is also teaching a family history class at the library (through the college).

I still have a few pictures and comments to post about the last days of the trip, but my floppy disk drive isn't working for posting pictures... so they'll have to wait a little longer. They cover our trip to the Solihull market (for ostrich burgers) on Friday and our visit to the Belfry golf course... where I didn't play, but picked up a few souvenirs.

My major challenge during the trip was doing business, in spite of the 8 hour time difference. I was, quite literally, getting up in the middle of the night to make phone business calls to clients and other agents.

It would be difficult to pick a "highlight" of the trip... other than just being with Lana, Rob and the girls. We did so much, and it was all good!

It's fun to travel, but there's no place like home!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Center

Before returning home from our tour Tuesday, we stopped in Stratford-Upon-Avon to pick Lara up from school. It's only about 20 miles from Solihull and she generally takes a combination of the train and bus to get to and from. But, she had a piano lesson scheduled for 4:30 and didn't have time to take the train. Anyway, while driving through the town, I took some pictures of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Unfortunately, we are here between seasons and there are no performances scheduled now.

Hatton Boat Locks

Driving through the countryside, we have often crossed over canals with long narrow boats parked along the canal banks. I asked where the canals go and Lana said she's not sure because there is a very comprehensive and complex canal system in England. My curiosity got the best of me, so I went searching for a Waterways Navigation Map. I did find one, which shows an overview of the entire countries canal system. WOW. You can, literally, go from just about anywhere in the country to anywhere else by canal. It may take a while, but you can get there by boat. For anyone who is interested, I will show you the map when we get back home. It's too big to scan in and display. The map shows the miles, number of locks and time needed to go between locations. For example the map shows: 8-23-7 between Warwick and Kingswood. This means it is 8 miles, utilizing 23 locks, and should take about 7 hours to navigate. So, as you can see, this is not a fast mode of travel.

According to a brochure I picked up, canal mania was sweeping the country in the 1790's. In 1793, an act of Parliament authorized the construction of a canal from Warwick to Birmingham. This canal provided a link in the chain of canals joining the industrialising inlands to London. Raw materials came from all over the world, where they were used to produce many things... like spices, tea, sugar, etc. Locally, the canal meant cheap transport of coal helping to power local industry, such as the cotton mills... and keeping the home fires burning, literally. Major improvements were made to the canal system in the 1930's.

The canal locks near where Lana & Rob live are the Hatton Locks, near the historic town of Warwick (where the Warwick Castle is). I have inserted some pictures above, but here is a link to some more pictures of the Hatton Locks, and some additional information.

The first picture above is how the boats look along the canal. If you enlarge the photo, and look closely, you can see me standing in the right foreground. The second picture is a close-up of one of the locks. The third a look up the ladder of locks, and the fourth a look down the ladder of locks. I believe there are 21 locks at this particular lock station.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More From Warwick Castle

Here are a couple of pictures I took outside the Warwick Castle. The second picture is of Max and Lana sitting in the garden outside the castle. The first picture is their view from this spot. This is the back of the main section of the castle. Be sure to click on the images to enlarge them.

Warwick Castle

After leaving the car museum, we took the short drive over to the Warwick Castle (pronounced War-ick). Of all the castles we've ever visited in our travel, I found this to be one of the most interesting. The way they had the displays set up, you could get a feel, walking through the castle, what it was really like in those days, dating back to medieval times. Taking pictures is no simple task, due to the massive size of the castle. Rob and I walked the 536 steep steps to the top of the watch tower to get a bird's eye view of the castle and grounds. I've posted a few pictures, with less than ideal lighting, but to get a better tour of the castle, click here, to visit their official website. If you click on "The Castle", you will have several link options. Or, here is another website, with great pictures.

The first picture above was taken from the tower, overlooking the main living section of the castle, but this is a small portion of the castle and grounds. The second picture has even poorer lighting, but if you click on the image to enlarge it, you will see my face (catching my breath from the climb). It was not only long and steep, but dark inside the tower during the climb up. From this vantage point we had a fabulous view of the Warwick Cathedral, in the distance, the town of Warwick... and far off into the distance.

The Mystery Man

Many of you have never seen a picture of our son-in-law (Rob), who I have referred to but never posted a picture of. That is because he works alot and hasn't been able to go with us on our journeys... until yesterday. Rob took the day off from work and drove us to the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, England (near Warwick) and then on to the Warwick Castle. Here is a picture of Rob and Max in front of a 1931(?) Model A, the same kind of car Max learned to drive in.

The Heritage Motor Centre is a huge collection of British Motor cars, dating back to 1896. The Trust owns about 300 cars, of which about 180 are on display at any given time. Most of these cars are on the Austin Healey, Jaquar and Land Rover family tree. The Centre is set on 65 acres of ground and includes not only the museum but also a 4-wheel drive off-road demonstration track, a quad bike track, and a childrens driving area (Go-Karts).

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Chocolate Heaven

Cadbury World is a chocolate lover's Heaven on Earth. When you first enter the Cadbury World exhibit, you are presented with two different kinds of Cadbury chocolate bars to munch on during the tour. About 1/3 of the way through you get another two bars (different kinds), and about 2/3 of the way through there is a demonstration area where live demonstrators give you information about certain processes and give you all the samples you want. The exhibit has a very comprehensive history of the business, dating back to the early 1800's... and a complete tour of the factory and a bunch of other displays. Of course, at the end, there was a large gift shop to buy anything and everything "Cadbury". I bought quite a bit to bring home, hoping there will still be some left by the time we actually get home!

The Cadbury chocolate business was established by a strict Quaker family who, over time, developed one of the most impressive business models in the world. They paid a fair wage and, eventually, the entire town of Bournville was created around the Cadbury chocolate business. The Cadbury's wanted their workers to have good housing, medical facilities and everything else to make life pleasant so they built housing and hospitals and parks and other facilities for the families. The name Bournville was chosen because the "Bourn" water canal ran through the area... and, of course, "ville" was added to denote this was a village.

So strict were the Cadbury's in their faith and hiring practices, no married woman was employed at the factory until the time of World War II. The Cadbury family felt a married woman's place was in the home, and a woman working would encourage her husband to become lazy and live off her income. During the war, however, when the man labor was in short supply, they changed their employment policies and have continued to employ single and married women ever since.

Bournville and Cadbury World are only about 1/2 hour from our homebase, in Solihull. This is really a very central location for touring from. We've certainly seen a lot so far and ALL our adventures have been day trips.

Have a wonderful day (and be sure there is chocolate involved),

"There is nothing so valuable as a good friend... except, perhaps, a good friend with chocolate".

Friday, October 28, 2005

Real Estate Report From England

For those interested in real estate information, please visit my real estate blog, where I have posted one article and hope to do more as time permits.
Cheers from the olde country,

Picture is sunset over Broadway, England.

Usk At Dusk

These pictures are dark because our last tourist stop of the day was just before dusk at the ruins of the old Usk Castle. If you click on that highlighted link, you will see lots of great pictures and some additional information. There is also a link to the official Usk Castle website.

The pictures above are of me on the castle grounds and the second picture is of Lana and all three girls. The site caretaker was extremely friendly and informative. We are glad we made the effort to get there before returning to homebase for the night.

Bravo to Lana, the official chauffer for this trip. She's been working overtime, getting us to and from all the sites safely... and cheerfully. Truth be known, she is absolutely loving England and has really gotten into the English history. She is sometimes a better tour guide than the real ones. We haven't gone on any official group type tours, but I'm referring to those tour guides on-site at the various places.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

China, Cathedrals & Countryside

Well... today we spent the entire day out and about with Lana and all three girls. Our main destination was Wales... specifically the town of Usk where Max's ancestry is traced back to the 1850's.

On our way to Usk, we stopped in Worcester (pronounced Woorster) where they sell fine bone china. We didn't buy any, but we did look through the various shops. We saw everything from a tea cup for as little as £7.50 (about $15 US) to a soup ladel for £595 (or about $1200 US dollars). Don't even ask how much the plates or other items were! The currency is "pounds" and "pence" here. Prices for goods are very similar here, except for the horrid exchange rate.

The first photo above is of the Worcester Cathedral, which we did not have time to stop at. The second picture is that of the Wales countryside as we travelled to Usk. There are miles and miles of beautiful countryside just like this. The third picture is taken from the bridge (over the River Usk) going into the town of Usk.

Oh... and after we left the town of Usk, we stopped at the Records Center in Cwnbran (pronounced Coonbrawn) to try to find some birth records for some additional family history work Lana is doing. She was quite thrilled to be in THE location where the original records are on microfiche and microfilm.