Sunday, September 30, 2012

Acclamations for Alta

The last time I visited Grandma Alta, my 98 year old great-grandmother, she demonstrated her keen alacrity and sound poignancy in a conversation with my father, her grandson.
Alta: "How are those little grandchildren of yours?"
Mark: "They sure are growing fast."
Alta: "Grandchildren tend to do that.  They grow like weeds."
I appreciated her complete grasp of the irony of situation.  She told her 58 year old grandson how fast grandchildren mature.  Generations became moments to me while in the presence Grandma Alta for the last time.  This experience demonstrated that although her physical being had somewhat deteriorated, her lucidity did not decrease in the slightest.  I recall “immaculate” and “lush” among a few of the last words I had with her. Grandma Alta was always as clever as she was kind.
Perhaps it was Grandma Alta’s intelligence that had such a salutary effect on her life.  Her prowess in dialogue and her complete lack of diffidence made her an enjoyable conversationalist and endeared her to all those with whom she exchanged words.  Her jocular nature couldn’t help but fill you with mirth.  I never left Grandma Alta’s house feeling angry or frustrated, but on the contrary, because of the location of my interactions with my great-grandmother I am still convinced that Fairview Utah is one of the happiest places on earth. 
One of my fondest memories of Grandma Alta was hearing her patriarch, and fortuitously, her neighbor and relative, pronounce upon her a patriarchal blessing.  It was a unique experience to hear the patriarchal blessing of a 95-year-old lady.  Much of what was said was the narration of an already well-lived life.  Much of what was said was a paean to her assiduousness in following the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps some might think that receiving a patriarchal blessing at the age of 95 is a bit belated.  To those who follow that line of logic I would say the following: you did not know Grandma Alta.  She did not need a patriarchal blessing to remain faithful.  She had an innate indefatigability of doing what is right.  This sacrosanct document is more for her posterity to reassure us that one can successfully lead an upright and honorable life.  The memory of our grandmother does much to inspire us into following her righteous example. 
There is no eulogy adequate enough to describe Grandma Alta’s significance.  There is only one phase that comes closest to heralding her prominence.  Alta Osborne’s comeuppance is no less than exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.   
            In an effort to never forget the profound effect that my great-grandmother had in this world and in my life, my wife and I have decided to give our first-born daughter the name Alta.  May the posterity of Alta Osborne be half as magnanimous as she was.
Nathan E. Shepherd

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Impossibility of the Brick Oven Pizza Challenge

I have always perceived the idea of a food eating challenge as sacrosanct; the winners quite deserving of our adulation and respect.  I have highly revered these super humans capable of consuming large quantities of food, notwithstanding their voraciousness.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery and on Thursday, August 2nd 2012, I imitated the avidity of the Great Ones.  

Brick Oven, located in Provo Utah, offers an insurmountable challenge: You, along with a friend consume a pizza with a diameter of 29 inches and an entire decanter of root beer within a one hour period.  This is no modicum; a 29” pizza is equivalent to four 14” pizzas.  My friend Zach and I decided we would rise to the occasion and, mathematically speaking (A=(pi)(r^2)), each consume 330 square inches of pizza and one liter of root beer. 
The rules of the engagement were as follows: the two of you have one hour to eat and drink all that is brought out, you have one hour to do so, you may not leave the eating area, and your pizza must have four toppings.  Zach and I, the both of us not being too terribly fastidious, ordered, olives, green peppers, and onions to meet the requirements while dividing the forth topping between mushrooms and pepperoni on each half.
I don’t know if the unruly din or cavalcade of Brick Oven workers arrived at our table first but the voluminous monster appeared ex nihilo under our noses.  The clock began!  What ambrosia!  What wonder beheld our taste buds!  We took to our task with alacrity and devoured half of the pizza in less than 20 minutes.  It must have been an awe inspiring tableau; half of the rations vanished with less than one third of the time allotted having past.  The manager himself said that this was an unprecedented pace.  It seemed as if we had found our rhythm, a cadence contributing to the evaporation of that mass of food (no doubt aided by our new found mantra “Don’t stop till’ you get enough” provided by the background music of Michael Jackson). Little did we know that just as marathon runners hit a wall at mile 18 or 19, so too do pizza eaters collide into a similar barrier at 200 square inches.  With each bite our disposition increased in consternation.  Recalcitrance replaced readiness as our pallet became more and more petulant.  With each perfunctory bite the remnants of the massive giant became decreasingly tantalizing.  Perhaps volition for victory and one and half pounds of cheese result in an internecine outcome.  The crux of the whole matter isn’t necessarily the quantity of food consumed, but the unsupportable tang of dough and sauce and cheese.  To put one more bite into our mouths was to trigger our gag reflexes (verified by our request for buckets from the obsequious restaurant staff).  Utterly nonplussed at our powerlessness over the few pieces of pizza remaining, we ignominiously sat at our table as the one hour time limit expired.  Which was more deleterious: failure to complete the eating challenge, or the thousands of calories seething within our stomachs?  I daresay the not the latter.       
While our pride may have been piqued this experience was not all together futile.  What a great opportunity for us to get the gang back together and contend for prominence in the feasting arena.  Friendship was further forged, camaraderie was further fortified, and after it was all said and done, our situations were ever more soporific.       

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dear Blog,

Today makes 366 days of marriage; one year of surreptitious splendor.  Despite having been hitched for twelve months now I have failed to herald our dealings as a married couple.  While our marriage may no longer be in its incipience, this blog unequivocally is in a state of infancy.  Yes, a year has passed as well as a year of inexorable qualms  In the past I have had a propensity to yield to my own torpidity, but the beginning of a new year of marriage smatters into smithereens past inclinations towards apathy.  Rather than continue to succumb to a crestfallen condition, I will promulgate our present proceedings with renewed resoluteness.


To celebrate one year of marriage Jessica and I spent the weekend in Park City.  While Jessica is an expert mountain biker, adroitly maneuvering through hairpin turns and managing to deftly descend slopes with considerable cant; I on the other hand somehow managed to tumble out of my bicycle while it was completely stationary.  The trail we embarked upon that morning was a convolution of chaos, marked with a melange of roots causing a veritable rattling of the bones.  The trees bordering the thoroughfare required me to drop my head and contort both sides of my body in a concave manner almost simultaneously to elude injury.  The inconceivability task of evading the foray of trees, limbs, boles and quarry of rocks, lamentably deposited in the in middlemost section of the trail, resulted in a flagged and fatigued fellow.  Notwithstanding my groaning, griping and shambling down the mountain, Jessica withheld all forms of derision.  On the contrary my clement and compassionate companion encouraged me to greater exertion.  The propitious reassurance from my better half in combination with the continuous goading of the Blue Rhino's horn (the seat of my bike) I was able to successfully complete the arduous odyssey.