Saturday, March 31, 2007

Best Birthday Party Ever

After six days in the hospital, Marilyn was glad to get home. Steve and Carol were in town and came over late that afternoon. A short while later Ann also made an appearance. As the sun set, we moved outside to sit by the pool. Marilyn was concerned that we had missed celebrating hers and Carol's birthday and may miss Steve's which was a week away. With her uncertain medical schedule she didn't know when we would celebrate so she called for an impromptu party right then. Carol and Ann bounded off to the store for cake and ice cream. Steve started a fire in the fire pit. Carol and Ann returned shortly with a cake and ice cream. The cake was decorated in a bowling theme with a ball striking ten pins. None of us bowl, but it at least said happy birthday and was globbed with that special birthday frosting made of a mixture of sugar and petroleum byproducts.
Carol and Ann placed and lit candles representing the three life milestones. We sang the "special" birthday song and the three blew out their candles.....almost.

I thought this year would be different for Steve. For 28 consecutive birthdays he failed to extinguish all his candles. Well, make that 29 consecutive birthdays now. One lone candle re-ignited causing Steve to pause and consider the lifetime implications of being an April Fool's baby.

With cake and ice cream tucked away, Carol entertained us by demonstrating how she can actually see around rope. Steve stoked the fire pit with wood keeping the warm glow alive. I mentioned I had a lot of cardboard boxes to burn. Marilyn and I usually sit by the fire and toss pieces of cardboard in to keep the blaze alive. I failed to impart the "pieces" concept to Steve who put entire boxes in the fire. It reminded me of the Hindenburg diaster as flames burst into the night.

With no presents, a bowling cake, and cardboard ash in our hair we called it a night for our quickie 3 in 1 birthday celebration. Marilyn commented to me that it was the best birthday party ever.

Like Cats and Dogs

Steve had a theory. If Piggy the dog who had never injured any animal and Dwight the cat who had never had contact with a dog could be introduced in amicable conditions, then the two would bond and be life time pals.

Let's see how this goes.

Steve entered the garage where Carol and Piggy waited. Seeing Piggy, Dwight went for high ground fast which happened to be Steve's head.
Bending over Steve moved Dwight closer to Piggy for formal introductions.

Piggy jumped, slobbered and tugged at her leash at the sight of Dwight. Dwight dug claws deeper into Steve's back as he stared down the jaws of death.

Steve attempted to reason with Piggy while Dwight clung to his shoulder.

Carol took her turn too at developing cat scratch fever. Don't worry Carol, I'm sure the lacerations will heal before the wedding.

This noble experiment turned out as I expected. Steve should have known this would happen. Had he spent more time studying in school and less time at Taco Bell, he might have read the teachings of Aristotle who millenia ago performed this very experiment. At the end of the experiment he proclaimed his conclusions which loosely translated from the ancient Greek were "Ouch! get this damn cat off my head". Words of wisdom from the ancients. If ancient wisdom wasn't enough, just fill in the rest of this phrase: fighting like ___ and ____. I'll give you a clue. It's not Pelicans and Sheep.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wind? Cave?

In January, I thought I would combine exercise and sightseeing. I planned to climb all the local peaks around the valley before it got too hot. Too hot is when you see the lizards walking around on stilts. Murphy's law states that every man has at least one plan that will not work. Murphy may be right since I've only made one hike and it's already over 90 degrees. I choose the Wind Cave as my first heart building challenge. Not too hard, only an 800 foot rise over a mile and a half.

Not much rise in the first half of the trail but the second half made up for it. Although I brought water with me, I left it in the car thinking I wouldn't need it. That was a big mistake. Although I left the water, I did take my radio so that if I did go down from heart attack, heat stroke, or dehydration, I could at least keep tabs on efforts to rescue me.

Getting tough now

Tough climb, nice views

I finally arrived at the Wind Cave after close to an hour. Although they call it the "wind cave" I found no cave and no wind. A rock overhang providing scant shade is all that lies at the end of the trail.

The Wind Cave

Fortunately, the Park Service placed a sign saying "You have reached Wind Cave" so people won't wander all over the mountain looking for a cave and some wind.

The climb down proved much easier than up, duh. I got a good workout and since the rescue helicopter wasn't dispatched, I guess no water was enough water. I also gained insight into the naming of this landmark. It's called the wind cave because people get winded looking for a cave.

Cousin Loraine's Wedding

On a beautiful February day in an old Mesa neighborhood, Loraine and Rusty tied the knot. Rusty's back yard was the appropriate place since Loraine's and Rusty's backyards join. They had been neighbors for years.

I coaxed Dillon into a smile even though he was wearing a suit with a blue flower in the lapel.Cousin Nita flew in from Germany to attend the wedding.Congratulations Rusty and Loraine

New Cat

For as much joy and happiness that our two cats bring us, I'm shocked that we would add a third to the family. I won't go into the story of how we obtained him, but let's just say Marilyn and I are extremely compassionate people. It's easier to say this than to say we made a big mistake. His name is Dwight. Although our other two cats don't like him much, they're tolerating him as much as we are.

Our oldest cat, Daisy, is 20 years old and has all the traits you'd expect from a cat that age. None good except for the sleeping 22 hours/day. Scruffy is 12 and as cats go, not bad to have around yet still not as good as not having a cat. I was hoping that after they lived fulfilling cat lives, they would pass peacefully, we'd have short memorial services for them in the back yard, and bury them along with their litter boxes and live out the rest of our days with unshredded furniture. With the arrival of Dwight, that cat-free day is in the far distant future. In fact, Dwight may end up burying me. He is pretty good at burying "things" in the litter box.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Christmas Eve 2006

This year our family Christmas Eve dinner was held at Robert and Kim's house for the first time. The usual suspects showed up. Before dinner, Carol jumped on the backyard trampoline to make sure her recently acquired engagement ring was solidly on her finger.
Still on

Inside, Haley directed Robert and Jim on dinner preparation.

Hey! does grandpa know what he's doing with that turkey?

After dinner, Santa made a special visit and delivered some presents. Why on Christmas Eve? I'll get into that another time. For now let's just say he has some scheduling issues. Since Tatum and Haley are the only kids, we have to have to share the excitement of Christmas gift opening through them. Although the electric helicopters Jay and I got were pretty cool. With wrapping paper carpeting the living room floor, everyone adjourned to the family room for a game of "Deal, or no Deal". Since Steve doesn't have TV service in Flagstaff, he didn't quite get the game which is a shame since he could have walked away that night with quite a chunk of change if he had only understood the game. Deal, or No Deal

At the end of the evening, Kim lead us in a caravan to a ritzy neighborhood to see some spectacular Christmas light displays. These were the kind of people who don't care about their carbon footprint. But then again neither did the people in the endless line of cars edging through the neighborhood to see the spectacle.