Monday, December 21, 2009

Let It Snow!

If you hadn't heard already, those of us living in the northeastern portion of the States got some snow this past weekend. After I got Walter settled into his new home with fresh water, I was determined to head down to the West Village for a holiday party I had been looking forward to for a while - so blizzard or no blizzard, I was going.

Except.

Except I had an outfit all planned that revolved around a skirt. And suede boots. And when the reality check of looking out the window confirmed that was out of the question, I floundered around for quite some time in search of a replacement outfit. Why does this happen? The rational part of my brain gets that my evening will not be ruined by wearing the wrong shirt or jeans but ration somehow flies out the window when it comes time to get dressed. Various wardrobe changes ensued with Diana Krall's Christmas music blaring, I tried different tights and boots and sweaters and ultimately decided that jeans with boots would work best.

And honestly, it was the most practical choice considering the lack of cabs and the need to trudge three blocks through the snow to the subway. Bundled up under hat and scarf and coat, I realized all my careful hair drying was a waste of time. Oh, New York weather, how you like to undo all my best efforts.

Other than getting a little confused when it came to hunting down the right building and walking a half a block too far into icy snow pelleting my face, my journey there was relatively uneventful and I was the second guest to arrive an hour and a half after the start. We thought we would have a very intimate party but people dragged in dripping and shivering until we had a good sized group. And can I just say, my friend has the coolest studio apartment I have ever seen! Giant windows looking out into the snow and a real fireplace! A couple of us wanted to ask future guests to pick up a Duraflame but others seemed to worry it would get too hot or the fireplace might not work. At any rate, I met a lot of new people and had a really great time.

With a blizzard raging on outside, fun stories being told and new friends with whom to become acquainted, it is difficult to convince oneself to bundle up for the journey home. I learned that others were heading in my same direction so we each pulled on our numerous layers and compared the merits of this person's boots and that one's coat (the full on sleeping bag puffy coat won best coat!) and said our goodbyes before heading out into this:



and this:


Good thing I chose to wear jeans and boots!

I don't know how you would react at facing a trek through unshoveled sidewalks to the subway with more snow falling at 130 in the morning, but this was my reaction:

I threw a couple of snowballs at one member of our party who was not as excited about the snow - but then he wasn't wearing boots!

I thought it was all so beautiful:


When we got to the subway entrance, we found a couple of guys who were taking advantage of the fresh snow to build a snow man and of course we had to jump in and snap a photo:

Once in the subway we thought most of our night's adventure was over but it was just beginning. The girl in the green coat and I were both heading straight up the west side but our male friend needed to get to the upper east side. The E train came first and for those of you unfamiliar with the New York subway, that train runs up the west side to 50th Street and then heads east and connects with the east side line. My stop is just one stop beyond 50th but this wasn't a night for walking extra blocks and my fellow west sider had to go further up the west side so we agreed to take whatever train came first and we'd just transfer at 42nd Street if the E came first. The east side guy insisted on riding the train with us to each of our stops as we were getting on the subway. We tried to inform him that the train was perfectly safe at this time of night and the three of us were having a fairly animated and likely loud conversation about the relative safety of the subway at this hour - and when I say lively, I should clarify that all three of us are lawyers.

At some point a gay couple (probably in their 40s) seated next to us on the train chimed in that they were the sort of ruffians we needed to watch out for and what followed usually only happens in sitcoms - the more vocal half of the couple began giving our east side friend a hard time about his fashion choices for the evening - everything from the fact that he was wearing sneakers to the style of his jeans (which he called 2004 cut from some mall store I forget the name of at this point and then mocked the poor guy when he said he got them at Banana this year!) and the beanie he was wearing!! He did concede that his jacket was stylish. Yup, in the middle of the great pre-Christmas blizzard of 2009 that grounded planes and stranded thousands of holiday travelers, my new friend was mocked on the E train for his fashion choices. The guy even called him bridge and tunnel! Which is the ultimate insult as far as Manhattan residents are concerned because it means you are coming from somewhere far flung - like Jersey or an outer borough. The irony is the gay couple lived in Queens so they are literally B&T when all three of us live in Manhattan. Thanksfully, the fashion police left me off the list of grievances despite mocking my friend's very practical, very warm Uggs.

The best part of the whole exchange occurred as we got off to transfer at 42nd Street when we were telling our friend we now insisted he stay with us so he would be safe on the train and not get accosted by any more gay fashionistas. And then - AND THEN! - a very fashionable young gay sauntered by in his luxe black coat, furry booties and black furry hat and told us not to let them get to us. Only, he said it funnier. And with a lisp as he practically bounced away and we agreed the only thing more stereotypical about his parting statement would have been that snap and lean back move. I told him I liked his hat and he tossed a thanks over his shoulder as we collapsed in laughter on the platform.

Where we continued to stand for at least 15 minutes before we decided to venture out in search of a cab rather than wait for another train to show up. Within about 90 seconds of being above ground I managed to hail a cab but only after having a police officer in a patrol car use his bull horn to tell us to get back on the sidewalk - an instruction I promptly ignored in favor of hailing a cab.

I snapped a couple of photos of my street from my window and fell into bed.



This one shows how windy it gets at my place - that is snow stacked up against my window - there is no ledge.



Sadly, I was not able to spend Sunday enjoying the snow. Instead, I had to find my way to work for a client meeting. Which meant a walk down Fifth Avenue trudging through this stuff:




Snow does add a natural deterrent to jaywalking though:


But if you are thinking the storm had any ill effects on retail the last weekend before Christmas, well, this is what I had to weave my way through on Fifth Avenue Sunday afternoon to get to my office:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Christmas Tree


As the first snow flurries fell yesterday afternoon in the 2009 blizzard that ruined many people's travel plans, I met someone. A French-Canadian someone. I even took him home with me.

His name is Walter. Please don't say anything about how un-French his name is. He is a little sensitive about it. We tried out Jerome but he responded so much better to Walter. I think his sensitivity stems from being snubbed many times for his lopsidedness:

I told him his lopsidedness is what attracted me to him. That and his soft needles with the silvery underside.

Like many activities, purchasing a Christmas tree is a little bit different in New York City than most places. I've written about my little local tree lot and the hassles of acquiring a tree before but yesterday was such a perfect New York moment, I thought I'd share anyway. It has, after all, been four years since I last had a Christmas tree. I debated and debated whether I wanted to go through the hassle of getting a tree but when I was out running errands yesterday and the snow started falling . . . I knew I needed a tree. Besides, this year I am hosting my parents for Christmas so we have to have a tree, right? Where would we put the presents if not under a tree?

Besides, I have been going out of my way all month to walk along this little stretch of sidewalk where I slow my pace and take deep breaths so that Christmas can waft through me.

There is nothing else in this City like the smell of pine trees stacked up on the sidewalk that can make me slow my pace and take deeper breaths (most smells have the opposite effect on me). Already carrying a couple of bags from holiday shopping, I walked up to my tree guy (the cute one who is there every year) and said "I would like a Christmas tree." He had just failed to convince a stingy man to purchase a lopsided little Fraser Fir at a discount. My tree guy spun the little Fraser around for me and suggested the bad side could be turned toward the wall. I loved it. But I thought it would be better to check out a couple of others before buying the first deformed little tree I looked at. But even as I asked monsieur tree purveyor to pull out various trees and spin them around and explain the different types, I knew Walter was the one.

So I asked him to wrap Walter up while I ran across the street to get more cash at the bank.

(okay fine,I added a bit of extra snow to the photos, but only because the real snow didn't photograph! This is about what it looked like in real life!)

Despite the delivery services offered, I chose to haul my tree home on my own. Why? Because my old friend impatience kicked in. I wanted to go straight home and start trimming my tree, not wait around for it to show up in a few hours at the delivery guy's whim! The trouble wasn't the size or shape of my tree, it was the two other bags I needed to carry and the tree stand I had to purchase that didn't fit in any of my bags. But being the stubborn independent that I am, I trucked off best I could.

Happily, just after I crossed the first intersection facing two long cross-town blocks between me and my front door, a kind stranger offered to grab the back of the tree and walk me to the end of the block. We walked that block in silence at a quick pace with the snow falling faster, weaving between other New Yorkers out to finish their shopping before the promised blizzard arrived. At the end of the block, I thanked my chivalrous helper and he wished me happy holidays and warmth spread in my heart as I thought how untrue the stereotypes of New Yorkers can be. But I still had a block to walk and soon the warmth in my heart was replaced by me simply sweating under my down parka, scarf, hat and thick wool sweater. I stopped repeatedly to readjust my grip on Walter's trunk and to pull the straps of my bags back onto my shoulders and once to switch everything to the opposite side.

Once I was home, I set Walter up in his stand and gave him some water and had some dinner to let him rest a bit before the trimming.

But I didn't have to wait too long before lighting him up and adorning him (a bit haphazardly) with ornaments while listening to Christmas music and watching the snow fall silently outside my window. I didn't have a fire, but I lit a candle to add to the ambiance. I have to admit, it really got me in the mood for Christmas and now I am counting down the days. At least the days until my parents arrive and work ends on Wednesday night. I'm hoping time slows down after that so we can savor it all with Walter keeping us company.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Past

I've been a bit worried about my memory lately. Normally, I have loads of useless memories, anecdotes and reminiscences all clammering to get out. But for this holiday season, I've been coming up blank. So I pulled out a cd of family photos my sister gifted me with a photo album for Christmas last year and decided to take you on a hodge-podge tour of Christmas memories as sparked by the photos I found. In no particular order, let's dive in:

This was Christmas 2004 aka, one of those awkward all adult Christmases. This photo made me remember my sweet puppy (who was so not a puppy here), enjoying Christmas with the family perched on his bed and happy to gently remove his gift from the gift bag. Wow, I miss Malcolm a lot. He loved Christmas. That might sound like a weird thing to say about a dog but I know he looked forward to being the Jingle Dog every year because he would get really excited when that jingle collar he is wearing below would get pulled out and he hated taking it off post-Christmas. In fact, my mom often left it on him for an extra month or two because he liked it so much. I think he walked with a bit more spring in his step just to have those bells jingle merrily to announce his comings and goings.



This next photo is from 1993. I was a freshman in college and home for a break from crazy roommates. That Sharp TV box in the lower right-hand corner was my surprise to beat all surprises gift - my own TV! I didn't watch a lot of TV in those days but it saved me from being subjected to my roommates' Days of Our Lives habit and allowed me to catch up on my Utah Jazz fanatacism. It was my one and only TV until about 2003 and was hauled through many moves during my nomadic 20s.
1993 was also the year when an unknown person or family decided to gift us with the 12 Days of Christmas - amplified. My family was in pretty poor financial shape (to say the least) and receiving a different set of gifts for those 12 Days for each family member made that one of the most memorable Christmases of my life. The presents usually came stacked up (as in the above photo) and individually labeled with a warning to open on Christmas day. Somehow our benefactor knew each of our sizes and we all received sweat shirts and sweat pants as well as brand new Sunday outfits which my sister, Mom and I are modeling below.



We also each received a flannel shirt and jeans - it was the 90s after all. Aren't we a photogenic family?

About ten years prior (I'm guessing around 1983), I stumbled onto an unexpcted family theme - a childhood distaste for pants. My siblings and I all seemed to have gone through a phase where we only wore oversized t-shirts for Christmas revelry. Before I let you see the next photo, I should point out that my dad was neither drunk nor high. Nor was he lighting anything up in this photo (I am guessing he is applying chapstick), I suspect he was just overly exhausted from staying up all night playing Santa and being urged out of bed before he was ready by four excited children. Other things I love: my sister setting up her My Little Pony stable, the fire and all the Christmas debris everywhere.

Here is another photo of that same year with a better view of our awkward looking tree that seems pretty full everywhere but the center.


I'm going to guess this next one was from the following year (about 1984) judging from the background which was in a house we only lived in in that year. But note once again the pants-less state of my brothers. Also, I should mention this was the year of Transformer mania. My brother did not get a Transformer, he got a fancier more expensive kind my dad picked up on a business trip in Boston (I think). My brother hated it at first because it wasn't a real Transformer, ignorant of the fact that this one was fancier and more expensive.

What I remember about that particular Christmas was receiving two items: my first camera (the long, flat skinny kind that took weird film) and a really awesome two-part sled. Below is one of the first photos I took with my fancy new camera of my little brother on my cool new sled - the Screamin' Owl!

I should warn you before you scroll too far down toward these next few photos. These two Christmases - I think 1990 and 1991 are infamous in my family for their awkwardness. I'm really not sure which photos belong to which years but I'll start with the better of the two (surprisingly) which I think was 1990. We all look like we can't wait for our mom to let us get away, right? In my sister's defense, she looks pretty cute. And my youngest brother doesn't look nearly as awkward and annoyed as my other brother and I.
But this next photo is an enduring family joke which we fondly refer to as "Slap Bracelet Christmas". Remember slap bracelets? Can you spot one in the photo below? While you are looking, take note of the wreath on top of our tree that is trying to make a run for it, the scribble of hair I was trying to pass off for bangs and the looks on each of our faces that indicate we just want this painful photo taking thing to be over.
But there's more. We continued the torture by singing carols around the piano. Why am I the only one that seems to be enjoying this activity?
Enough of the ugly, take a look at Christmas in 1977 when I was adjusting to being a big sister and got my first violin. Also, please note that I am the child in the photo, yes, I look a lot like my mom in this picture!
Or 1986 when I had a bad perm and didn't want to admit to my parents I knew about the whole Santa thing but didn't really want to get dolls for Christmas anymore. Oh, the painful tween years.
I will leave you with one final flashback from 1992. I don't remember anything in particular from that Christmas but I will say this photo really makes me wish I was having Christmas with my siblings this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

weekend fun

I had an amazing weekend full of so many great things that I would love to share with you. Unfortunately, it is nearly midnight on Sunday night and I am exhausted after all of the fun and amazing things that happened all weekend so it is taking all my mental powers to write this boring introduction to a few highlights of the weekend. So without any further fanfare, I'm going to jump right in and start with Friday night.

Do you recognize the woman in this photo?
That is right, Friday night I met the one and only Pioneer Woman. And you will never guess what she said to me! "You look familiar." I was a bit star struck (blog struck?) and I asked if she has seen my blog. She was so warm and friendly and chit-chatted so easily. She told me to facebook or email her. I haven't yet because, well. Just look at what happened for the rest of my weekend. (I'll tell you more about meeting her later).

You might be wondering what I ended up wearing to the fancy dress up party Friday night. Thanks for all of your votes but I ended up going with a third option. You see, Thursday night I went looking for a new top to wear for my dessert party and of course couldn't find anything I liked. But I did find this amazing dress and fell in love with it. And it was on sale, so I wore this instead:
 
It was literally about zero degrees outside that night so not the greatest weather for fancy parties but I had good cab luck on my way down there. Unfortunately, I was not as lucky post-party. The party was held down on Wall Street which is pretty dead in the evenings anyway. I thought luck was on my side when a cab stopped to let someone out. As I shivered on the corner waiting for the guy to pay and get out, I realized there was a problem. The passenger was extremely intoxicated and was refusing to pay and he and the cab driver were yelling at each other. The door was open so I finally yelled at the guy to just pay and get out because it was freezing. He leered at me and made incomprehensible mutterings and soon the driver was out of the cab yelling at the guy to pay an additional $40. Then I figured out the problem. I asked the cab driver if the drunk guy had puked in the cab. When the driver said yes, I opted for a long subway ride and then caught a cab for the three block walk because I probably would not have survived it in the cold.

Saturday was baking, baking, baking and more baking. Somehow I managed to get everything together just in time for the party. And I must say, I think it all turned out really well this year. Here's a quick peak at the spread: 
A couple of new items I added to the menu are French macarons:

While they were far from perfect, they passed as the real deal and I think I know how to improve them for next time. This year I ended up improvising a couple of other items that ended up being a big hit all in the spirit of not wasting anything. First up, I made marshmallow to top my brownie s'mores and had some extra so I thought back to my spring peeps experiment and decided to give it another whirl and this is what I came up with:

Snowmen! Aren't they cute? Someone even mentioned them to me tonight.

The other last-minute impulse item were these:

I had made three different frostings for three different dessert items and had quite a bit of each left over. There was less than two hours left before the party started and I hadn't yet showered for the day but my friend asked if there was anything else we could frost. My solution? Cake pops! I experimented with making cake pops one other time with a couple of friends and the results were disasterous so I probably should not have gone down this path but I had some brownies I'd baked in miniature cupcake form but they turned out a bit ugly so I wasn't planning on serving them so I thought why not try? This is where hours and hours and hours of blog reading can really pay off! I've read about cake pops on Bakerella's site and Pioneer Woman's site so often, I was able to throw these together without instructions.

We smashed the brownies up into the three different frostings, rolled them into balls and stuck them in the freezer for a bit to help them keep their shape. I dug around in my cupboard and found some white chocolate chunks which I melted with a little bit of cream and then died it red. We then dipped the balls, added sprinkles and I got in the shower while my friend finished the process because we were getting dangerously close to guest arrivals and no one needed to see me sans make-up in my yoga pants covered in flour.

As we were making this little concoction I referred to them as brownie balls and my friend said that sounded a little dirty so we started brainstorming other names which somehow devolved into Santa's balls (seriously, that is way worse than brownie balls!) and finally Rudolph's nose. But the Rudolph name didn't roll off the tongue so easily so ultimately they were called reindeer balls. Awesome, I know but somehow we all found it hilarious all evening. Oh, and people loved eating them! They were delicious. I think the reindeer balls may need to find a permanent place on the baking roster.

Today was spent sleeping in very, very late (I was up until 3 with a couple of very kind guests who helped clean up), brunching with my friend who traveled all the way from Connecticut to help me prep for the party (this is two years in a row I've had overnight guests for the party and I think it is the way to go!) and then we saw the movie Up In the Air - which I loved. I sent my friend back to Connecticut and traveled up to Inwood for a friend's party and from there I went to another party.

Needless to say, it has been a very long weekend - a good one - but a very long one. So I need to get to bed and prepare myself for the work week which actually includes a couple more parties! Gotta love the holidays!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

help

I'm going to a fancy dress-up holiday party Friday night (unless I freak out about my dessert party and decide to stay home and bake instead) and I'm trying to decide what to wear. Here are the choices:

I wore Option 1 to a wedding this past summer and Option 2 to a wedding a couple of years ago (big difference in camera quality from 1 to 2, right?). If I wear Option 2 I wouldn't go quite so literal with gold dress and gold jewelry. I'm not promising I will take your advice, but I'm curious to know which you think I should wear. Take my poll!

Which dress should I wear?

Option 1

Option 2

  

pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

memorial

This morning I attended a memorial service for the father-in-law of a very dear friend. The death came quickly and unexpetedly this weekend following a Havan (a Hindu purifying ritual) and birthday celebration for my friends' daughter who turns one tomorrow. The Havan was held in the home of my friend's in-laws and when we arrived on Saturday, her father-in-law welcomed us warmly at the door and gathered our coats and soaking umbrellas and directed us toward the garage to store our shoes. He was vibrant and happy and so full of life. He seemed very proud to be hosting a celebration in honor of his granddaughter and urged us to eat and drink. On Saturday the house was full of friends and family who braved a cold and rainy day to travel to Long Island. He passed the next day. It was remarked several times this morning what a blessing it was to have so many loved ones surrounding him just before he went.

Throughout the service this morning, that was primiarly in Hindi, my mind drifted to my own loved ones - the ones I have lost and the ones I have nearly lost. Earlier this year, I lost my paternal grandmother and I have a very lengthy post reflecting on her memory that I will one day finish and share. Fifteen years ago yesterday, I nearly lost my own father when I was only 19 which means this is always a week when I place another mile marker in extra time I have enjoyed with my dad.  Just two years ago, he tried to leave us again. A couple of times. So attending a memorial service for the loss of a friend's father feels personal. Both at my grandmother's funeral in March and the service today, I could not stop my mind from wandering to the line of thinking of what if it was my dad? I think my friend's husband's eloquent remarks about his father especially touched my heart when he said something to the effect of how grateful he is for the memories of his father others have shared with him because they help fill the gaps when he wasn't with him.

At the end of the service, I sent both of my parents a quick text that simply read "I love you." My dad replied "What a pleasant surprise msg. I love you, too." and I am now looking forward more than ever to my parents' visit two weeks from tomorrow.

There is one more thing I would like to mention that swished around in my brain as the pundit chanted about the soul and reincarnation (as explained by a friend who understood some of the ceremony): the after-life. I have mentioned before that I have many doubts and questions about the faith I was raised with. Despite my religious upbringing, faith is not something that comes easily to my mind and heart. I do, however, believe in an after-life. I do not pretend to understand it but I have to say I feel deep in my heart that my grandmother was reunited with my grandfather 21 years after his death and I pray that my friend, her husband and his family can find a similar solace and peace with this unexpected death and continue to celebrate the life of a man who, from all accounts, was generous and loving.

Monday, December 07, 2009

private blogging

so.
How have you been?
I have a little confession to make - I feel comfortable saying this here because we are hidden behind lock and key and password protection so none of the bad guys can get in.

I hate private blogging.

Hate it.

While I am the biggest of skeptics when it comes to get rich quick schemes and really any type of home sales thing (I believe they are all ultimately pyramid schemes - sorry if you are in one), I simply do not trend toward paranoia in the blogging world. The only reason I made the incredible difficult decision to blog privately is due to a job application process that demands a bit more discretion.

However, I find private blogging completely unmotivating.

I am sorry.

One of the thrilling aspects of blogging for me was the sense of community. The opportunity to learn and grow from reading snipits of other people's lives and find a connection with strangers. I have also been surprised to find myself drawn to people online with whom I may or may not have become friends with had we met in real life. I have also received a huge amount of encouragement from my readers to keep writing in the form of comments (oh, how we all crave comments, right).

Not that my comments have dropped off or anything since moving to private. I've actually been impressed with how much people continue to read.

It is just that I somehow don't have as much motivation to write. Maybe I am just in a writing slump that is completely unrelated. I have a handful of posts sitting in my drafts pile that I will try and just finish and push out and maybe that will help push me through my slump.

But mostly I just wanted to say hi, I'm still here. Pretty busy with work and December madness. My dessert party is on Saturday and I have to confess, I am not that excited this year. I keep looking at it as a bunch of work without a lot of upside. I don't know why my attitude sucks.

Maybe because I spent all day yesterday decorating my apartment and couldn't really get into the spirit of the whole thing.

Maybe because two sets of lights died.

Maybe because there weren't any fun holiday movies on tv to help alter my mood.

Maybe because I know I am going to be cutting it all a little too close since I haven't baked or prepped one thing and I don't even have a realistic list of what I'm making this year!

Maybe I am just irritable because I now have a weird hip injury that sprang out of nowhere.

Maybe I just feel like the response to my evite have been lackluster . . . .

Or maybe I should stop complaining, be grateful that I have been blessed enough to have a very good year filled with wonderful friends and just enjoy the opportunity I have to do something I normally love (baking).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving Week

Last week was fantastic. I went home for a week that was jam-packed with food, friends and fun. Below is a quick pictorial snapshot of my week.

I went straight from the airport on Saturday to this place:
With this buddy:

It was chilly but a fresh churro, hot chocolate, a blow out game in my team's favor and enough layers to make me look pregnant helped keep me warm.

After the game we took a self-guided tour of the re-modeled library. It was beautiful but I was a little disappointed that my favorite study corner with the big comfy leather chairs that were perfect for curling up with a pile of history books was redecorated to look like this:

It is now the least cozy corner of the library. Honestly, where were chairs like this when I was in college?

Oh, and how do kids these days accomplish anything? Every kid we saw was on YouTube or Facebook when we walked through the library.

On Sunday, after slogging through one of my sister's "easy runs" that involved one almost vertical hill and a very long gradual hill that left me with sore calves for three days, I stole a friend away from her family and jumped on a very small plane for a side-trip.

To St George! To visit my house and to try and coax stories out of my grandparents about their courtship. By the way, you only have about one more year left to land on that skinny little bluff in St George and feel like you are somewhere remote and exotic. After that they will have a fancy new airport that probably has more than one tiny runway on a bluff.

After hiding out in the kitchen from my grandparents' home teachers, enduring a conference call for work and paying taxes on my well (after deciphering the directions offered up by my grandparents that involved a lot of "you know where the old store was, right?" in place of street names), Emily and I were lucky enough to drive off in a nearly mint condition 1984 (or '86) Buick Park Avenue in search of adventure.

Before the adventure part started (or maybe it was the start of the adventure), we stopped for giant mugs of Diet Coke at a surprisingly delicious restaurant in Virgin, Utah (uh, yes, there is a place called Virgin, Utah and it is essentially the gateway to Zion . . . fill in your own jokes).

I tried to remember the name of the restaurant so I could recommend it since the fish and chips and nachos were both excellent but I forget. Emily? Any chance you remember? It is the place that sells bumbleberry pie and looks like this on the inside. (bumbleberry pie is amazing in case you were wondering, we had to practice our pie eating skills for thanksgiving anyway so we took one home to my grandparents)

Before long we were drinking in views like this:

I wanted to hike Angel's Landing (that peak in the mid-ground above with the steep slide to the left) but decided not to kill Emily. Or to have her kill me off out of frustration for tricking her into such a hike. Besides, my calves were sore from my run. So instead, we started at a trail head I hiked Thanksgiving week 1993. Yup, my memory for dates is that ridiculous. We started with a short walk to Weeping Rock and then I talked Emily into hiking to Hidden Canyon.

Somewhere along the way I shrunk or Emily grew since we are normally about the same height . . . or so I have always thought.

It was a gorgeous day and a beautiful hike but Emily opted out when the trail involved chains and looked like this:


Am I the only person who gets giddy and excited when the trail turns to a thin cliff edge with chains?

Maybe I just love it because the reward is a view like this:

Seriously, look how happy this made me!

Emily also indulged me and agreed to the short walk to the mouth of the Narrows because I do not believe one can visit Zion without making the pilgrimage. And one day I will convince someone to hike the Narrows with me.


We saw some wild turkeys gloating over immunity to turkey day by virtue of their luck of being protected in a national park.

We also made a quick drive over to visit Checkerboard Mesa just as the sun was setting:


How can you not be jealous of our sweet ride?

I really wish I could be back in Zion right now so I can be looking at views like this again:

But we had to hop back into the tiny plane and head back to Salt Lake:

Where I ran around visiting people, listening in on work conference calls and catching up with old friends before settling down to an evening of pie making with my sister and mom on Wednesday night.

Thanksgiving morning I questioned my sanity when I got up early not to cook the turkey but to run a 6k with my sister and her husband. A 6K up City Creek Canyon which means straight up hill for about 2 miles at an elevation that is approximately 4,700 feet above my customary sea level jogging path along the Hudson River. Going up, I had to walk a lot. And I kept chanting Ralph Wiggim's line "It tastes like burning" since the air quality was pretty subpar. But the way down? That part was awesome. Nothing hurt except for a minor side-ache near the end and since the course finished in Memory Grove I was able to remind myself that I have walked this course countless times with my dog Malcolm when I lived in the Avenues in college, after a fight with my boyfriend late at night (uh, sorry mom, I was young and dumb), again with Malcolm when I lived behind the capitol. I knew how far I needed to last so I managed to keep a steady pace despite the lack of sign postings and despite the fact that I left my nike-plus thing at my sister's that morning. I finished with a time of 41 minutes and change which was better than I had hoped for all those points when I was walking up.

Of course, after it was over, I was just excited to finish prepping our Thanksgiving feast!

My mom, my sister and I raced around the kitchen for several hours while my parents made a couple of trips back to their house as well. My dad carved the turkey:
And Jaymon laughed at us:

The food was delicious:

But I must say the people were my favorite part:

Especially these two:

Friday we braved Black Friday with an afternoon trip to the outlet stores in Park City where the crowds weren't too crazy but we stumbled into some 50% off stores that offered great bargains. That evening I also got to meet Michele's one week old little one Joshua who was enchanting (and hungry!) and eat some of her family's leftovers. Sad to say I totally forgot my camera so I don't have any pictures of cute little Josh.
I bookended my trip with another football game. My sister and I weren't the only ones wearing red but we were definitely in the minority and were rivals with our mother and uncle in blue.

We weren't far from the band and I cheered loud enough to embarrass my sister and my mom and that is all I will say about the game which dragged on for far too long into the cold evening and ended sourly.

I jumped on a red-eye flight that night and spent my last vacation day sleeping and unpacking. And today, I want to go back and do it all over again.
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