Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Lunch - Curry, Testosterone and Methane Digesters

Dear Ed,

Hope you are feeling better every day!

Never let it be said that the Lizard Lake Newts and the Seattle Old Boys aren't on the leading edge of environmentalism, sustainability, and green technology!

After viewing several Youtube videos on methane digesters and biogas systems the Executive Board of the Lizard Lake Newts Rugby Football Club decided to install an experimental biogas processing plant. Any gas produced would be used to help heat the Lodge and provide energy for cooking. Studies showed that the wind wasn't sufficient enough year round at the lake to produce enough electricity consistently to offset the cost.

Denis, during a phone conference on stress issues, commented that he had observed, on numerous occasions visiting the Lodge, that there was indeed enough hot air produced in the Old Boys Lounge to turn a wind vane and produce more than enough power. He also observed that there was sufficient methane produce down in the U-35 lounge, that if captured, would provide for all of the kitchen requirements.

Out here in western Canada they are a rugged and proud group of individualists. They choose not to participate in being a bilingual nation. So trying to interpret the animation about methane production that was narrated in French was a bit cumbersome. So cumbersome in fact that they decided to elicit support from the Seattle RFC Old Boys. Specifically those with experience in construction, pipe fitting, stress analysis and plumbing.

Well, that was right up the alley for Denis who worked the stress issues, Ray and Jim D. who worked the plumbing issues, Burt for the pipefitting, Jim Bob and Drifty for construction problems, Ken for project management and Marianne for scuba requirements with backup from the Wanker who flew in from Norway.

The team assembled up at Lizard Lake over the US Memorial Day weekend to construct a biomass digester capable of supporting all of the Lodges' energy needs for the next century. They would also assembly a carbon sequestration system to bury excess carbon dioxide deep beneath the waters of Lizard Lake.

Construction went fairly smooth, except Ray convinced the executive board to install a 5000 gallon tank instead of the 500 gallon tank from the original proposal and to tie the septic system in with the digester and sequestration system.

The only real problems came after the surveyor made a mistake that put the sequestration pipe too close to several pilings on the dock. That was solved by cutting a fairly significant v in the pilings for the pipe to run through. It was approved by the board because the stress numbers were 1.5 times higher than projected maximum load of 6 people on the dock.

So, over the course of the long US holiday weekend, the crew from Seattle managed to get the bulk of the project laid out, dug, assembled, welded and generally put together except for some minor details like connecting the fittings at critical junctions and crossovers, setting various pressure relief valves, and final buy-off by local and province inspectors.

All seemed to be going fine. By the end of the summer special tests were conducted that showed a small amount of methane was being produce, but not in the quantity that was expected.

"Oh well," was the executive board response, "it probably needs some tweaking, we can wait until the holidays when Seattle Old Boys visit for the Ice Queen weekend!"


Christmas Eve had arrived at last. The Lodge looked fantastic! The corp of moms, aunts, cousins, sisters, grandmas and friends worked hard to get it decorated.

Husbands spent hours cutting boughs to be woven into pine scented garlands that were hung from fireplace mantles, support beams, doorways and around porch railings. Lights were strung, mistletoe hung, bells were rung, and all was right in the world of Lizard Lake and the Lodge.

Putting the festivities and failures of the previous night behind them - the cobweb fires, axes through clubhouse doors, infidelities, deep fat fried duck feet, and old friendships renewed - everyone from the Seattle Old Boys and the Lizard Lake Newts Rugby Football Club were looking forward to the Christmas Eve all-you-can-eat curry lunch, and later, the crowning of the Ice Queen.

Many more guests had arrived, Old Boys from locales around the world - Norway, Australia, England, Florida, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington.

Colin and Jennifer arrived early to begin cooking their South African curry. Ken and Jennifer puppadoms, naans, Denis and Pam a pork vidaloo, Alex, Diane, Jim, Burt, Nordmark, Gordon from England, Greg from Florida, Marianne from Connecticut, Ray, Peggy. Others began prepping for Masalas, Rogan Josh, Goanese curry, fish, lamb, pork, beef and vegetable curries.

Spices - saffron, cumin, ginger, cardamon, paprika, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, split peas- were laid out beside piles of sliced onions, garlic, tomatoes, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, okra, spinach, potatoes.

Relishes and chutneys, raisins, mint, cucumber, yogurt, coconut, mangos, banana, and peaches plated and ready to be served.

And chili peppers. Chilies! Green and red. Hot little devils!

And this was the start of a major problem.

A problem because of all the friendship, goodwill, glad tidings and general sense of well being that was stewing in the kitchen.

A problem because mimosas, screw drivers, bloody marys, gin and tonics, Pimms, and beer consumed prior to and during the job of tasting and re-seasoning the dishes, resulted in a sudden and exponential increase in the intensity of flavors and the use of more, and more, and more of those little green and red devils.

"Not hot enough," bellowed one old boy!

"More garlic," roared another!

"Moooooore gin!," yelled another!

More chilies, more ginger, more curry powder in this dish, more fenugreek in that dish, saffron here, mace there, more garlic, more chilies, chilies, chilies!!!!!

And it was never enough, because testosterone fueled and ruled the kitchen this day! The leathery taste buds of these Old Boys ruled. There was little logic, no feminine touch, no feminine intuition, no control over the cooks by those who must be obeyed. It became a competition, a competition at its worst!

It was mayhem, culinary mayhem.

Chilies tossed around and into dishes emulating a Malthusian growth curve!

And Sarge, sitting in the background - somber the last 16 hours and quite sober- just smiled like the Cheshire cat.

And then it was announced that lunch was served!

And Ed -for now that's all I got!



P.S. Harold and Vic also send their regards!

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