Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Vacation!

Mom's Christmas Tree

  After a very long day of flying in from London, I finally made it to Albuquerque last Monday, and hit the ground running! As of this writing, I'm still there. I was supposed to be back home yesterday, but Heathrow is so badly snowed in that all the flights were cancelled. Now, I'll be returning to the kingdom on Christmas day. It's kind of a slow evening tonight, so I thought I'd catch up on a bit o' the bloggin.

Mulling things over

  My second night here, Mom and I tore her kitchen a new one with a super bake-fest. I started things off by mixing up a big pot of mulled wine, which she had never tasted. Naturally, it was delicious. Meanwhile, Mom's little white puppy contented herself by wrapping up in a blanket on the sofa.

Riley Burrito

  And so the baking began. Sugar cookies. Chocolate chip pecan cookies. White chocolate macadamia nut cherry cookies. Gingerbread men. Cranberry bread. I went into decorator mode, making a bunch of different colors of royal icing, and frosted things up.

  After the cookies were finished, I made a couple dozen red velvet cupcakes and got extra fancy with the Christmasy decoration, taking what I learned from my supercake baking experience.

Perfect for winter weddings

Cupcake overkill

A hot slice of this and a cup of coffee=breakfast

  The next night, the fam got together for dinner, and we had the traditional feast: turkey, mash, yams, bread, cranberry, beans, vegetables, etc. It was delicious and I had to loosen my belt.

  The eating has continued in earnest since then, and I think I might just have to jog back to England to burn off all this excess weight. I've eaten a lot of Mexican food (it's been years since I've had anything even close to authentic; nice try Spokane, DC. Not you, London). I've had pizza from my old fave, Dion's, and I've enjoyed a bounty of hot green chile. I'll miss all this when I'm back in the land of ox-tail soup.

Strike in progress

  One morning, I met my Mom at the bowling alley where she's on a league so she could intro me to her friends. After I met them, I grabbed a lane and played three games. My scores? Not bad for a guy who hasn't bowled in three years.

Surrogate Jeep

  I also went hiking/rock climbing. To make it more exciting for myself, I waited until a big winter storm moved in and obscured the mountain with snow and rain and fog. It was kinda surreal driving a Jeep exactly like mine only red. Especially since I don't even own my Jeep anymore.
  Making matters more interesting was my doctor, who I saw shortly after arriving. I'd had some foot pain for the last few months and ignored it, but it really started causing issues with my dancing/movement/combat at school. I was diagnosed with torn tendons in my left foot, and he was none too happy that I had just "worked through it." I was told to tape my foot and take it easy for a few weeks. Hiking and rock climbing are easy, right?

Foreboding and awesome

Rugged beauty

  The climb was wet and freezing (as you might expect), but fantastic. I had my camera along and snapped a few shots. Since the conditions were bad for electronics, I tried to protect my gear as best I could. Yes, you read the word "tried" in there. That should clue you as to where this story goes. I'll cut to the chase and just say that there was a short in the main board, and Canon now has my camera. I expect a rather expensive repair bill. Adding insult to injury, I dropped my SF knife while I was at the top of a fairly high cliff. Not a good day for equipment, apparently. By the time I hiked back down to the Jeep, I was soaking wet and paritally frozen. Good times!

Rockin' out

  Not willing to leave my knife cold and alone on the side of the mountain, I headed back up the next day. After a fairly short search, I found it underneath some snow at the base of the rocks. Score!

Cliffhanging on day two

  I only really had one butt-puckering moment up there when I took a bit of a reach on the rocks and got myself stuck. On one side was a solid cliff face, on the other side was a sheer drop. After a couple of deep breaths, I was able to unstick myself from my predicament and back up a bit. Where's the fun, though, without a little risk?

Shooting so fast, he's a blur

  One night I went to Retros sports bar, where my Mom and some of her buddies like to hang. She brought a big platter of my cupcakes and announced to the bar that they were free of charge. I had a lot of drunkies complimenting me on my baking and decoration skills. Sort of a strange scenario for a young man in a sports bar.

Thanks anti-redeye, for giving me satan eyes

Rancho Lamberto

  I got a chance to drive out to Dad's house as well, where my Stepmom had cooked up a tasty pot of posole. Delish. Did a little walking around in the woods, took a few pictures, saw Dad's new project- a waverunner he's rebuilding the engine on.

  It's always nice to revisit the place where you grew up. The familiarity of the trees, the dirt, and of course, those deep, deep blue New Mexico skies is always welcome.

Shootin' some stick

  Got to hang with my old friend Bryan one night, too. We shot a few games of pool, had a couple of drinks, then headed out to O'Neill's pub for some dinner and more drink. The food was great (here I go fooding again), but the best part was catching up for those few hours. It also helped that we were pretty evenly matched at pool. I came away with my dignity somewhat intact.
  Like I said, this trip is still going on. I've seen a couple more friends since then, had some more tasty meals. Got 1 and 1/2 days left here til I try again to fly back across the pond. Maybe I can squeeze in between snowstorms. I don't know how England is doing without me!

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