Monday, December 24, 2007

To the Top (almost)

Marilyn and I resumed our "climb every mountain" plan. The plan is to climb every mountain in the Phoenix area. Our plans to do it last winter were put on hold when Marilyn was diagnosed with leukemia. Since neither of us are in shape we chose one of the easier climbs first. The Wind Cave is located in Usery Mountain Park. It costs six dollars to get in the park. I'm guessing the six dollars covers the cost of the little entrance building and the salary of the guy inside who collects the money.
It was a brisk December morning with few other hikers as we started up the trail. One lone hiker who started with us bounded ahead after telling us he climbed this trail every week day. At six dollars a climb, that's $130/month just to tromp through the desert. I would have told him he could get a nice gym membership for far less but he was already well past us.
Halfway up the trail, the climb was taking its toll on Marilyn. She hadn't exercised for the past year and it was showing. Rest stops became more frequent as the trail steepened. Two thirds up the trail we called it quits for the day. We probably could have gone on slowly, but Marilyn had Christmas shopping to do when we returned and needed her strength for that. Since she might be buying presents for me, I didn't press her to go on to the summit. We documented our achievement with a photo showing us proudly two thirds the way to the summit. We will give it another try in about a week.
Had it not been for the urgency of Christmas shopping, we would have stopped at the park entrance building and asked for a couple of dollars back since we didn't make it all the way to the top.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We had Thanksgiving dinner at our house again this year. We expected most of the family to show up. While Marilyn was cooking inside, my job was to heat up two turkeys on the grill outside. We had ample debate between us on whether this was a good idea in light of the unfortunate incident last year. Last year we had two pre-cooked turkeys. All we had to do was heat them up. We heated one in the oven and one outside on the grill along with a ham. When carving time came, I hit something solid in the middle of the turkey heated on the grill. It was a ball of ice. Marilyn claimed I didn't have the heat high enough and I said she hadn't thawed the turkey fully. But, here's the thing. Based on my rudimentary knowledge of physics, placing a thawed turkey in a 270 degree grill doesn't cause ice crystals to form into a clump the size of your fist after two hours. The turkey wasn't thawed. Marilyn can dispute this when she starts her own blog.

This year we (Marilyn) decided to do both turkeys on the grill and the ham in the oven. They must have been fully thawed this year since I found no permafrost in either bird when carving.
Steve and Carol arrived first and we caught up on their adventures in Flagstaff.

Robert, Kim, Tatum and Haley arrived with tales of woe. On the way over they had made a sudden stop in traffic which hurled the deviled eggs they were bringing. Hurled deviled eggs may not be attractive to the eye, but they're just as tasty as unhurled deviled eggs. Haley was sick and Robert had tickets to a game and couldn't stay. Kim decided to take Haley back home but not before Haley presented us with some fine Thanksgiving art work she had crafted. We thanked her and placed the drawings prominently in our art center (refrigerator).
Jim, Linda, Mark, and Jay arrived topping off the guest list. Stories were told. and pictures snapped.
The younger generation listened semi-intently while Daisy, the ancient fur shedding, one toothed, snot dripping, deaf cat looked for a lap to curl up in.
Dinner went well with talk about nothing and everything. Everyone commented on how much more they enjoy hot turkey over frozen turkey. We went over everyone's Christmas list as we do each year. I think this is a dangerous thing to do. You can almost count on receiving more than one of whatever you utter unless it's expensive. Then you won't get it. That's why it's always safe to say "socks" or "liquor" when your turn comes up. You can always use more than one of those. I think Jim figured this out long ago. He always has nice socks.
During the after dinner chat, Tatum wandered off and befriended Daisy. After a half hour with the cat, she came back to the table. Her eyes were watering with the dark red circles around them. She was beginning to resemble a raccoon. Among Daisy's other less than noble traits, her fur is highly allergenic. That's why I avoid touching her whenever possible and I'm not even allergic to cats. I think her continuous sinus problems may even stem from the fact that she is allergic to herself.
Last Father's day, Steve gave me a beer brewing kit. He said he would help me brew up my first batch. Steve is an experienced home brewer. An experienced home brewer is someone who has had to clean up the mess in the house after a fermenting bucket explodes. Steve meets the criteria. He brought the wort pot down from Flagstaff so we had everything we needed. What better time to start brewing than right after Thanksgiving dinner. We cooked the wort out on the side burner of the grill and rapid cooled it in the swimming pool. After sterilizing the bucket and brew paraphernalia, we mixed a five gallon batch. I set it in the shower stall of the spare bedroom to ferment. It will take about four weeks for the finished product. If it works out, all those who had liquor on their Christmas list...well, you know what they'll be getting.