Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Joe turned 40 on July 19th, and we had a lot of fun with that during our weekend in Phoenix. We started down on Friday at noon, leaving Flagstaff with Joe, Jack, and our grandnephew Nathan, fresh from a week visiting his Flagstaff grandmother. About halfway down the hill (which is what we say when traveling from Flag to Phx), we realized that the Corolla's A/C is no longer working, and things got much warmer after that. Phoenix was having temps in the 110s plus monsoon humidity, so by the time we got to Rhonda's house, we were pretty warm and sweaty, especially Joe, who got to have Jack sitting on his lap most of the time. Fortunately for us, Rhonda and Andy were willing to let us borrow transportation with A/C, so we went to our first party on Friday night in fairly good style. Kim Marchbanks put together a party of 13 or so, plus assorted children, for friends who used to go to First Southern Baptist in Glendale. We ate and talked and laughed until well after 11:00 and Joe and I gave our little speech about how we arrived at this big decision, with lots of support and interest from all.

The second party was on Saturday, with just a few family members at the Miracle Mile Deli in the Arrowhead Mall. Joe and I took a little time to cruise the mall and Joe decided that all the clothes were either too old or too young for him, and that must be the problem with turning 40! We met Jill, her daughter-in-law Jaysen, Jill's grandson Logan, and our cousins Tib (newly naturalized after four tries and over 40 years living here), Julie, Debbie and Andrew. Miracle Mile does the only decent pastrami sandwich in this country (I tried them in NYC, no good), so we enjoyed both the food and the company quite a bit, and the cousins had lots of travel and Asian living advice.

The last party was on Sunday, when 33 people crowded into Rhonda's house for her fantastic green chile burros along with red and green tamales and everything else that goes with Mexican food. (Rhonda said we didn't need to have Chinese food, because that's not what we'd be missing.) We had Rhonda's family (children and grandchildren), David and Pam and all the children and grandchildren from their oldest son (we don't even know some of their names, there's so many), Jill and her youngest son's family, cousins Gene and Glenda, Dorothy and Maxine, friends Kay and Charlie and a couple of girls (Nicole and Mariah) who may or may not be related. We gave our speech (for those who don't read the blog), and we also had birthday cake and three family songs. In our family, we choose a tune and write alternative lyrics suited to whatever special occasion is at hand. I thought we were just going to do one song, mainly for Joe's birthday but with a bit of China thrown in. I wrote some quick lyrics to the tune of the Cincinnati Reds fight song (yes, they have one, and the Cincinnati Pops did a very nice version on an album called "Play Ball!" so look for that at whatever passes for a record store these days). However, Jill and Rhonda surprised us with a new version of "Chinatown, My Chinatown," and then Kelly's family came up with their new version of "Hey Jude" (creatively called, of course "Hey Joe). That song made it to Jill's Facebook page, if you can find it. It was a great party, and my dad would have enjoyed it as much as we did, but of course we imagine he's been busy this week lecturing the recently deceased George Steinbrenner on how much he messed up as the Yankees' owner. Sorry about that, Mr. Steinbrenner.

The plan for getting back to Flagstaff in the non-air conditioned Corolla was to leave late on Sunday night after all the festivities and drive in the (relatively) cooler night air. It was a great plan except for one thing: the Corolla's temperature gauge would not come down from the overheating position. We drove about ten miles, heater blasting (which was how we used to solve the problem in Joe's Cavalier), before we gave up and got back to Rhonda's about 12:30 Monday morning (when the temp was only 101 degrees). Joe joked that back when he was 39, he would have pushed on to Flag despite the gauge, but now that he was 40, he thought we should play it safe. Andy said we could borrow his van for the next couple of weeks, so we called AAA and had the Corolla towed to its new owner, my nephew Aaron, who is a very talented mechanic and promptly changed the faulty thermostat and will refit the A/C system for new freon. The tow truck driver (Jim) turned out to be a guy exactly my age who went to my rival high school, but not my grade school. He did a nice job taking away the first car I ever bought myself, and it will be missed. Also missing from our lives is Jack, who has moved to Rhonda's house, but I'm just not going to write about that.

Next week: we celebrate our 12th anniversary and try to clean out the office. Will we succeed?

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