Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ok I'm in the Spirit now.

December is always such a busy time. I do not find it easy to get "into the spirit of Christmas" I've seen all the TV specials dozens of times, even the new ones are just like the old ones. Shopping gives me a headache. I never really know what to give as gifts. There aren't any gifts that I really want that I can have. The things that do it for me are music and family. Jesse, Cori and the grand kids are doing the in law turn this year, so we won't see them for Christmas. I went to San Francisco on Friday and brought Thea home from college and Sara got in from BYU late Friday night. As for music, last Saturday we had our church Christmas party , a breakfast this year with a performance by the Tintabulations a bell choir that plays with the Reno Philharmonic. They were great. 12 members some playing as many as four bells at a time. Then last Sunday night I sang with the Methodists choir in a Handel's Messiah sing along. What incredible music and to think he wrote it in about two weeks. Then last Tuesday the Douglas High School Madrigals came to the office and sang to us at the office. (Probably had something to do with the fact that Marla just made all new costumes for them this year. 90 separate pieces of clothing.) I paid for the material so I got the concert. Doesn't seem fair. Today the church choir sang the annual Christmas program followed by the annual rendition of silent night complete with all of Helen Jone's string students playing violins and cellos. The shopping is done. The decorations are up. Sara and Thea are cooking up a Storm. Jared and girlfriend Erin will be hear for Christmas and I'm in the Spirit.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Grandma Bettie Goes Hard Rocker

We have a family tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving. This year we saw The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. It is the true story of Michael Lewis, who became one of the highest paid defensive ends in NFL history. He was a poor boy from the projects and got taken in by a wealthly white family in Memphis. He tested in the lowest 5% in all categories except being protective in which he tested in the top 2%. He was a gentle giant but figured out defense in football. A very good movie and a touching story. A great Thanksgiving flick.

Last night at Grandma Bettie's suggestion we went to Reno through a binding snow storm to see the Trans-Siberian-Orchestra. (eat your heart out Glasmanns) It is kind of a Black Sabath version of Manhiem Steamrollers doing Christmas Songs. We had tickets on the fourth row. We could see the swet on the guitarists upper lips, feel the heat from the pyro-technics, and tell when the violinists were faking it. Great light show, very loud music, lots of talent and energy and on occasion very lovely. Did I mention it was loud. At times I thought that maybe it was a little too loud and crazy for Grandma Bettie, but everytime I looked over to see how she was doing she had a smile on her face. ( She did pass out ear plugs to everyone around her.) Afterwards she said she loved it and it was a once in a life time experience.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A little perspective

I don't know if it is the economic difficulties of the times or the fact that Marla has been sick in bed all week but I decided to commit the time to watch two classic films about hardship and oppression: Richard Llewellyn's "How Green Was My Valley and John Steinbeck's "Grapes Of Wrath". It was my first time with either story,due to my Southern California Public Education. I suspect the books would be better but the pictures and images were very moving. Llewellyn's story is set in a Welsh coal mining town. Grapes of Wrath is a story of a Oklahoma share cropper's family fate in the depression and dust bowel. Both stories were about hard times, corruption, and oppressoin. Recommended viewing for anyone thinking they have it bad in America today. Hopefully we will never see times like that again in this country but unfortunately that is how things are in other parts of the world. Count your blessings everyone.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A little visit to Illinois

This past week I had Waddell and Reed meetings in Kansas City. Marla flew to Chicago on Wednesday and I came up after my meetings on Friday. We are staying with Jesse and Cori in their house in Freeport Illinois. Today we took a field trip to Galena. It is three miles from the Mississippi River on a tributary on the Galena River. At one time it was a very rich community with it's wealth coming from lead mining and river boats on the Mississippi. (Interesting how things change.) It was also the home of Ulyssis S Grant. After walking around down town and a delicious Italian meal we stopped in at the Apple River Fort. This fort dates back to the 1830s. Abraham Lincoln was stationed here as a 23 year old member of the Militia. We always enjoy seeing the country and hanging out with the grand kids. Their parents are OK too.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yup the garden is done for the year.

Actually there are still potatoes, carrots, and beets in the ground and gallons of apples still in the trees. Last night we had an unexpected snow storm. Six the eight inches of heavy wet snow. This was lake effect snow from Lake Tahoe, a rarity for us. The lake effect snow usually goes to the north to Carson City or Washoe Valley. Carson didn't even get any rain in this storm. October 4 is pretty early for snow in the valley. Of course our power went out and of course the back up generator didn't work. Goes right along with the broken freezer and washing machine this week.

Fall Harvest Project

We have so many apples this year that I proposed to President Ogles of the Spanish Eagle Valley Branch of the Church that we have project to have the members make their own apple sause. (Pure de manzana) We would supply the apples and the goods to make apple sause and apple juice. They would pick the apples and work with Marla to make the goods. We had a good turn out and a good time was had by all. The idea of "food storage" is somewhat lost on the latinos. Marla and I were prepared to go into high production having each family take away 10 -12 quarts of apple sauce and a gallon of juice. They arrived late and after about an hour Marla told me they were done. (10 quarts done) I told them they had to keep going. At 10:30 we had to start cooking lunch. One of the Trujillos friends came and was a profesional entertainer in Colombia. He found my guitar and started playing and singing. So we had to listen to him and he was really good and then a little dancing and then it was time for lunch with more singing and entertaining. In the end we put up 31 quarts of apple sauce that they took with them and about 8 gallons of juice. (we drank one gallon) It was a successful activity. I think all had a good time. (Apples are not a big part of the hispanic diet.) So I still have about 100 gallons of apples on the trees.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Hunt

This past week I went with Don and Bret Dixon on a Deer hunt. In the Ruby Mountains. I have always wanted to explore the Rudys and I enjoy Don and Bret's company. So it was an outing. We left Sunday afternoon and drove as far as Winnemucca ( That's where the gas almost ran out so we stopped so as to not make purchases on the Sabbath) We camped in a truck stop in the Airstream. Monday we made it to our camp in the Rubys. We spent the next Three days looking for deer. The deer tags that Don and Bret drew were for Black Powder. We needed to be within a range of around 100 yards to be effective with the cap lock rifles we were carrying and we needed a buck. We saw about 40 deer over the course of the week. We usually saw them 2 or 3 at a time. If we were close enough to shoot them they were does. If we found a buck ( and we only saw about 5 ) they were too far away. So we didn't kill bambi. ( I actually was not that excited about shooting a deer. I was more interested in the chase.) We saw lots of country in the Rubys. We hunted the ridge tops, and aspen groves, the valley's and meadows. We found beaver dams and saw the mess beavers can make of the forest. We saw some antelope and golden eagles. At one point Bret had a mountain lion stocking him. His saw the lion and we saw his tracks circling around behind him. We suspected the lion scared the deer away so we left also.

We cooked up some good dutch oven meals. Chicken and Rice, Corned beef and Cabbage, Rib Eye steak and dutch oven potatoes.

Hunting is an interesting experience. There are two approaches and we tried them both. One way is to have one person walk through a thicket of aspen or pine nuts and try to flush out the deer. The other two hunters wait on the outside of the thicket to shoot the deer as they come out. The other way is to hide in a area where deer will pass through and shoot them as the pass by. We would split up to do this to increase our odds and success. This would entail waiting for hours by one's self and trying to be still and quite. In this setting it is amazing what can to seen and heard. It was so quiet that just breathing seemed to be a major racket. In this quite I could hear the cows in the valley miles below us. I could hear trucks on the road miles away. I would usually hear the deer's hoof steps before I would see them. In all of my time in the mountains I don't think I have ever spent hours just listening and watching.

Hunting won't be first on my list of things to do with free time. ( and it takes a lot of time) But, I enjoyed the company and exploring the mountains and living in the wild ( in an airstream) for a few days.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sheriff Bob

Well Deputy Sheriff that is. Our friend Bob Hines was just sworn in a Douglas County's newest Deputy Sheriff. The Hines family moved to the Valley a couple of years after we did. Their two boys Andrew and Tyler were friends with Jared and their daughter Allison is good friends with Thea. We have been in each others homes often through different activities in the Church. Bob has led an interesting career. He was 28 years with the phone company, many of them as a manager. He left Verizon and went to work for a motorcycle sales organization, when that didn't work out he sold Cadillacs and Buicks. In fact he helped me get a great deal on our Caddi. He was a great sales man. He always made sure the care was clean any where I went. In fact it was a little embarashing if I even got a spot on it because he would come over and clean it. When the economy went bad and the car business dried up he sold time shares up at Lake Tahoe. Everything he has done he has tackled with great enthusiasm. It has been a real example to me. After 30 years of work he has decided to go in a whole new career in law enforcement. Bob asked us to give him a charator reference and write a letter of recomendation. He is embracing this new direction with the same enthusiasm as always. Good luck and best success to Sheriff Bob.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The nest is now empty

This weekend we took Thea to college. She is attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. It is an interesting school in that the campus is downtown San Francisco. The University owns about 30 buildings downtown. They have their own bus system that connects the properties. Thea's dorm is the old Commodore Hotel. It was built in 1928 to house merchant marines in between sea trips. The University has converted it into a dorm. Thea's room is on the sixth floor. Her room mate is Ashy Johnson a Fashion Design major from Fresno. They both are the youngest and last to leave home in their families. Fortunately we were able to move her in on Friday because the elevator broke on Saturday. The AAU seems very business like and things were well organized for all the new students arriving. AAU has about 8,000 full time enrollment.

Work hard and good success to Thea!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

La Boda

Yesterday Jesus Lopez and Cristal Mendoza from the Eagle Valley Spanish Branch got married. Jesus is a convert of five years and he brought Cristal to church and introduced her to the gospel. She was baptized last February. It is a great example of how the branch has blessed the lives of the Hispanics in the area. Next February they will be able to go to the Reno Temple and be sealed. President Ogles performed the ceremony to be followed by a six hour ( short by branch standards) reception with great food and dancing. We could potentially three families sealed in the temple next year.

An Eagle and an Antelope

When I was Young Mens' President about two years ago, I had two young men that I wanted to see get their Eagle Scout award. Blaine Frogget got his Eagle two weeks ago. I was not able to attend because of a work commitment. Then last tuesday Scott Maxwell received his Eagle. He asked me to present his award. That would be eagle number 21 and 22 in my scouting career. Both Scott and Blaine gave me their Eagle mentor pin. It is my third. ( Adam Campbell was the first). No one in the Ward seemed to know what to do to get Eagle papers submitted so I offered to help Blaine and Scott with theirs. Blaine works in my office so I gave him the added incentive of no paycheck until his papers were in. He went about eight weeks with no pay but it worked. Even though I was released two years ago, I feel my work is now done in the Ward YM program. Scott Maxwell's Dad was one of the participants on the 2007 Wood Badge course. (Antelope patrol) He received his beads that night as well. It was a special night for the Maxwell family and I was very happy to be a part of it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dan and Bertha Bowman

Fifteen years ago when we moved to Gardnerville, one of the first families we met was the Bowmans. I was assigned to be Dan and Bertha's home teacher. They both love to talk. Our home teaching visits would usually end with Dan saying, "you sure don't talk very much" and then Bertha would say "you never gave the poor boy a chance to open his mouth." This wa after about two hours. As it turned out we lived on the same block in Springfield Virginia. I was three years old at the time and Dan and my dad both worked at the Pentagone in Washington DC. They were not members of the church at the time and I'm not sure if my parents knew them but casually.

When I was called as Bishop of the CVII Ward, I had a very strong impression to call Dan as the executive secretary. I fought the feeling thinking we would never get anything done with Dan talking so much. I called him anyway and he was the best executive secretary I have every seen. He was remarkably quite during our meetings and only chimed in when asked for his input on something. He had dogged determination in lining up my appointments. One time he called me at work and said "Bishop I've been calling this person all day and they don't answer" This was around 10 in the morning and he was calling for a youth interview. I suggested he wait until they got home from school. Dan served in that capacity for five years and was my only executive secretary.

He and Bertha are both 88 years old now and they are moving to Monterey to an assisted living center close to their son Danny. We will miss them dearly. It feels like a chapter ending. I hate chapter ending. Best success to you Dan and Bertha!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fruits of the Harvest

So we plant a garden and an orchard. We dig, water, weed, prune, spray for weeds, spray for bugs, scare off the birds and finally get something worth eating. Today was canning day. Marla, her mom and me ( I was mostly the go pick and clean guy) put up 20 quarts of peaches and 20 pints of jams and jellys. (peach jam, plum jelly, and plum/apple jelly)

It's amazing how much work goes into getting a bottle of peaches. We could buy a number ten can at the store for $2.39, but there is something gratifying in going from dirt to finished product. There is a good lesson for life in the Law of the Harvest. One has to work before enjoying the fruits.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Across Nevada and back

As the newly appointed Nevada Area Wood Badge Coordinator, and not sure exactly what my new job entails; I thought I would drive out to Ely and Camp Success to see how this year's Eastern Wood Badge Course was going and maybe help them break down the camp. This would entail driving across the state on Highway 50, something I have always wanted to experience. Highway 50 is described as the loneliest highway in America. This name has actually acted as a tourist draw and many people want to drive the road. Just past Fallon (home of many Whitaker relatives) is a real honest to goodness sand dune mountain, aptly named Sand Mountain. The dunes rise 600 feet off the valley floor and are built by constant winds off the Carson Sink where the Carson River disappears into the desert floor in one of the driest parts of the driest states. Of course it was raining when I drove through. Past Sand Mountain is the Middle Gate Pony express station. The old station is in ruins but there is a bar and sometimes a gas station. Just past the station is the famous (for these parts) hanging shoe tree. This is giant cottonwood tree, probably the only one for 50 miles. It has hundreds and hundreds of shoes hanging from it's branches. I don't know why, perhaps the proximity to the bar has something to do with it. The miles roll by and several 6000 and 7000+ foot passes go by and we ( me and Pepper) go through Austin and the town of Eureka. Austin has about 300 people has a higher elevation than Lake Tahoe and is part ghost town and part Landers County Seat. Eureka is an hour down the road and has about 1000 people. We are in high country now. The country is very scenic.

After 340 miles we arrive in Ely. Ely has 4,000 people and a few smaller towns in the surrounding area. It supports three wards of the LDS church and is about 25% LDS. It is closer to Salt Lake than to Vegas or Reno. Certainly the biggest town since leaving Fallon and 259 miles. From Ely we headed up into the Schnell Range of Mountains reaching almost 12,000. The Scout camp was at about 8,000 feet. We passed through typical high desert chaperal, then aspens, then pine and fir forests. The vegetation was very lush at the camp. The grass in some places was four feet tall.

The Wood Badge course appeared to be a great success. The Council had 65 participants and 43 staffers at the two courses this year. That is probably a record. At the closing assembly I introduced Liz Finley as the Course Director for 2010. Then is was repeat the drive in reverse. We got home about 10:30 PM. I was very tired but enjoyed the chance to see the state almost from the west to east borders. I saw a band of wild horses, poney express ruins, along with pioneer ruins, ghost towns that were once thriving mining towns with populations bigger than today's Gardnerville or Minden. We passed through valleys completely unpopulated for a hundred miles and some of the last open range in the country. Lots of time to think, sing to Pepper, ( so to stay awake) and listen to numerous recorded blogs and a new Clive Custler book.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

nauvoo pictures

Hello, all of Jeff's readers. This is his girl- Jesse. He asked me to send him some pictures from our recent adventure in Nauvoo and the quickest way for me to cyberspace them was to hijack his blog. Enjoy!

At the Lands and Records Office

Pioneer Passtimes

In the Seventies Hall

Joseph Smith's clerical office in the Red Brick Store
The Mansion House
Lucy Mack Smith Homestead
The Nauvoo House
Lucy Mack Smith homestead, from behind
The Temple from Parley Street
Statue at the end of Parley Street

Room where RS was organized
Pioneer Memorial at the end of Parley Street

Sunset on the Mississippi

Demonstrations at the Family Living Center
Parley Street looking out onto the Mississippi River
Parley Street