Sunday, December 26, 2010


Our instructor in High Priest Group today told a really funny story. I believe it was a story that came from one of the General Authorities.

There was a woman at the airport waiting for her flight. She was hungry, so purchased a bag of cookies from the convenience store. Of course being inside the airport she had to pay a premium for them.

In the waiting area there was a bank of seats facing another bank of seats with a table between them. There was a man sitting across the table from her.

She took a cookie from the bag which was now on the table. The man also took a cookie. She was miffed but didn't say anything.

She took another cookie and another cookie, and each time she took one the man also took one. She started to get really angry. How dare he!

Finally there was one cookie left in the bag. The man gestured for her to take it, which she did. But by this point she was so angry that she got up and stomped over to wait in line for her flight.

Once aboard the plane and situated in her seat, she opened her purse.

There was her bag of cookies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

King Herod

This is my "palace" (the Primary room) at our ward Christmas party last night. I had a blast; the ward members went from room to room on their "Walk Through Bethlehem". I had a little speech about how wealthy I was because I was greedy. I explained that I had sent the Wise Men to Bethlehem but they never sent me word. Then I gave them a ring pop to remember me by.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

Sally and I rarely watch television, and in fact don't even have a useable set. The only one we have is hooked up to the Wii. So we watch a lot of movies on the computer, thanks to Netflix, Hulu, Fancast, etc.

It came to me that it would be fun to review some of what we watch. What you will read here talks more about me than it does about the movies, of course, but that's the point of this blog anyway.

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain was a complete delight and something of a surprise. I don't know wat I was expecting, though with Hugh Grant as the main character Reginald, there is generally going to be a "gentle soul" who may or may not also be a klutz.

Well he is not a klutz, and is in fact a cartographer on tour with his boss fixing up map problems for Her Majesty.

They stop in a small southern Welch village whose claim to fame is Ffynnon Garw, reputed to be the "first mountain in Wales". Only an earlier survey missed the fact that the peak is 16 feet less than the 1000 needed for mountain status.

The village is incensed and under the impetus of the local pastor and "Morgan the Goat" (played by Colm Meaney of Star Trek fame) the townsfolk decide to add the missing 16 feet, and 4 to spare.

Betty from Cardiff (played by Tara Fitzgerald) is set in Reginald's path to entice him into going along with the plan and eventually they fall in love, though TEWWUAHBCDAM is not exactly a love story. Well it is a love story, but more the love of the local citizens for their village and their mountain.

What I liked best about this movie was the was the whole town came together despite obstacles and long-running feuds. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Eldred G Smith

Eldred G Smith was the last functioning Presiding Patriarch of the Church and as such was a direct descendant of Hyrum, the brother of the prophet Joseph.

While at BYU one Sunday evening I went to a fireside where Elder Smith was the speaker. I was fascinated by all that he knew and by the things he talked about that I had never even read about. Of course as a relatively new convert (this was after my mission, so I had been a member for about 4 years), all this stuff that everyone else had grown up with was intriguing.

I remember he was talking about the box that Joseph had commissioned to keep the plates in and safe while he was translating them. Joseph described it as being a wooden box, or chest, with a lid and a lock.

Then Eldred Smith reached down under the podium, brought something out and put it down in front of him and declared "This is the box".

I was so moved by the experience that I have never forgotten it. I even went up afterwards so that I could see it. It was plain and worn with age. And it had held the golden plates.

Bekah kept me awake

Every year, like clockwork, we piled the whole family into our 9-seater VW van and made the trek to Utah.

We had learned that the 12-hour trip went faster and easier if we went at night so that the kids slept. I'm sure millions of parents have done this over the years.

Well the problem was, of course, my staying awake. We solved that by having a designated talker - Bekah - sit up front with me and keep me from dozing.

She was the perfect choice.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tomato Soup

I don't know why I don't like tomato soup. I never have, maybe never will.

I remember that when I was in grade school before we moved to Paris (I went to Hill School in Novato, CA) I only got to buy my lunch every once in a while.

You guessed it, almost every time, lunch was tomato soup.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

We Do It Too

I've come to the conclusion that Fast and Testimony Meeting is a strange LDS mashup of FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I just finished watching Dan In Real Life again.

I connect in so many ways with Dan and with the movie and any time I am feeling maudlin it is a good movie to immerse myself in. I have it on my iPhone so I can watch it when I feel so inspired.

Dan lost his wife while he still had three daughters living at home. Four years later he meets and falls for Marie, who unfortunately is in a relationship with his single brother Mitch. Of course all this happens at the most inopportune time, a family reunion where Marie and her relationship to Mitch take center stage, pushing Dan and Marie's love-at-first-sight underground.

Dan is the only member of the family who is exempt from participating in the family talent show. Regardless, he and Mitch sing a duet that eventually becomes a surreptitious love song by Dan to Marie. She knows he was singing to her and afterwards asks him: "What was that?"

"I couldn't stop myself"

"What am I supposed to do now?"

"Can't do anything. He's my brother"

"Why did you sing for me, then?"

Sally and I used to sing to each other, when we were courting. We don't do that very much any more, though I do write poetry to her.

I am moved by the closeness of his family and also by the way they accept Marie from the very beginning. I am also moved by the mutual love Dan and Marie feel, from the beginning it is never one in love pursuing the other; they fall for each other right away. I am moved by the loyalty that Dan has for his brother. And I am happy that, unlike many movies, the story continued right through to their marriage, instead of leaving that to your imagination.

The Cows Make It Special

In Switzerland you can drive up to the top of a mountain, and when you reach the top if you get out of your car or your funicular and walk over the summit you will find a beautiful little meadow and no houses. There will be a small herd of cows munching away on the grass.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


David and I had the great good fortune to be able to attend a live performance of "A Prairie Home Companion" in Spokane when he (David) and his family were up here on a visit.

I've been listening to APHC on NPR for decades, and I'm glad that my love for it has rubbed off on at least one of my kids. It is a throwback to a less stressful, more peaceful time in our country and Garrison Keillor and his staff (Guy Noir, Fred Newman, Tim Russell, Sue Scott, Dusty and Lefty, The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, etc.) seem like old friends. Garrison is a master story teller and I never tire of hearing what he has to say.

I remember once, a bunch of years ago, in his "News From Lake Woebegone" segment, he talked about driving home after Thanksgiving dinner when he was a kid. Seated in the back seat, his sister next to him, the lights of oncoming cars whizzing past, he mused at what Thanksgiving meant to him and how warm it made him feel. Then his sister leaned over and put her head on his shoulder to sleep the rest of the way home.

That story moved me, because it could have been me, and it could have been Karen and I have all those same feelings.

A new (to me) singer that he has had on his last few shows is Andra Suchy, and I must say that I was very impressed with her. She had a good range, and interesting voice and was so clear that you could understand every word she sung. I look forward to hearing more from her.

Saturday's performance was the fastest 2 hours I've ever spent.

No Cousins?

I heard an article on NPR that talked about the consequences of China's Only One Child policy that has been in place for the last 30 years. In other words, more than a generation.

The effect that really chilled me was that not only do today's kids not have any brothers or sisters, they also don't have any first or second, and maybe even third cousins.

I like my cousins! I've even gotten to live close enough to a couple of them to have a relationship, though I have neglected most of them for all too long. But my life definitely would have been poorer without them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Disneyland, In Utero

In August of 1979 I was scheduled for a week-long IBM class of some kind in Los Angeles.

We have some friends (Kim and Mary Purgaugh, to name names) in Rialto, which is next door to San Bernardino, California, and about 60 miles from Los Angeles. I talked my boss into letting me trade three "free" nights of staying with our friends for two nights in the Bonaventure Hotel, which would have otherwise been too expensive for the whole week.

The Bonaventure was fun. Our room was wedge shaped, but every room had a view of the outside.

The class schedule allowed for one free day before we had to get gone, so of course we had to go to Disneyland. Now honestly, I could have lived without going to Disneyland, but Mildred insisted.

At this point she was 8 months pregnant with David, our middle (#4) child, and I have to say that she was a real drag ;) But we really did have fun there.

I'm sure there were others of David's sibs who went to Disneyland in utero, but he was definitely the closest to delivery.

Master of the iPhone 3G

Okay, "master" is probably too strong of a word, but I did something I had thought of but had never dared. I opened up an iPhone.

The on/off switch on Sally's iPhone started going wonky a while ago and then finally stopped working entirely. Now normally this wouldn't be a total disaster because you can press the Menu button to turn it on and then just wait for it to time out and turn itself off.

Well situations started arising where it really needed to be rebooted, which of course requires holding down the on/of switch for a while. I can't remember what the straw was this weekend but it finally became unusable without a reboot, which was impossible to do.

I found a video online put out by a group that specializes in fixing and helping people fix Apple products. With less fear than before (since it was unusable anyway) I dug into it and got it down to the very bottom where the battery is.

Of course tearing down any machine is generally easier than building it back up, and I didn't find a video on that. :) But little by little I worked at it and figured out all the gotchas and got it put back together. I probably went through a dozen cycles of getting it all put together, finding out it didn't work or didn't work correctly, and tearing it back apart. When I finally got it all the way, solidly and correctly put back together, it worked like a champ and Sally was happy.

The on/off switch? It still doesn't work.

Hopefully there will be another post in a while where I report that I found a new on/off switch and got it installed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Can You Believe, Father's Day = Spokane?

Lost in the passage of time is the fact that Father's Day was invented by Sonora Dodd in 1910, in Spokane, Washington.

The Spokane City Fathers want the country to take note of this and are kicking off a year-long celebration of this observation and this fact.

Cecile Charles' Gallery of Thum in Spokane commissioned noted local watercolor artist Emma Randolph to paint Sonora's portrait. A reception in Sonora's honor (and Emma's 87th birthday) will be held the first Friday of June, 2010 in the Gallery of Thum.

Visit Cecile's website for details and to see Sonora's portrait. Additional articles with Emma's painting are available at Cafe Press.

Monday, May 17, 2010


A Prairie Home Companion is coming to Spokane!

I guess most people don't think of this as a momentous occasion, but I've been listening to it (on National Public Radio) for decades, and even just listening to the opening lines warms my heart.

For those of you who are interested, and don't know what A Prairie Home Companion is, google it :) but the Reader's Digest version is that it is the brainchild of Garrison Keillor, who is one of the great storytellers of our time. His show is based on the formula of "old time" radio that was popular before television, and has lots of folk music and skits.

Even more sweet is that my son David and his family (wife and 1.5 kids) will be here that weekend. David is also a PHC fan and is going with me.

(It's June 12, 2010, if anyone wants to join us).

One other act coming to town that I don't think we're going to get to, unfortunately, is Celtic Woman, and you really have to see them to understand. They each have music talent pouring out of every pore, and together they are absolutely dynamite. They are coming May 20, 2010.


So my six-year-old grandson Cameron usually comes to our house before school starts and we take him there. Monday (today) is normally an exception.

This morning when I went to leave for work I saw three little girls crossing the street. The last one, a pretty little blond girl (named Sierra, we think) had a little bouquet of tulips that I think may have come from the flower bed across the street.

I told her that her flowers were very pretty, then she asked me if we were going to take Cameron to school. I told her that today was his mommy's turn to take him.

She started to leave, without the flowers, which she had put on the shrub. I reminded her of them and she said "oh, these are for Cameron", gave them to me and ran off :)

I Love a Parade

Okay, I'll admit it, I love parades.

Spokane has (and has had for 72 years) a traditional parade on (I think) the third Saturday of May, called the Lilac Parade. It actually has a longer, more formal name than that, but Lilac Parade is easy to say and remember.

Two of the ham radio groups I belong to have been associated with the Lilac Parade for decades, and this year's parade, held two days ago, was the second one I've been able to be involved with.

We basically provide communications between the different areas of the parade, from the staging area, over the entire route, and up to the very end. We were this year stationed at every major corner and every minor corner, the side streets along the way.

I drew one of the PA areas this year. The announcer announced every entry that went by and gave some background (and some P.R.) for the entry.

Naturally, there are always entries that break down, never show up, or go out of turn. As soon as one of those situations is discovered it is relayed to the five PA hams, we tell their announcer, and then he isn't surprised when the wrong entry shows up.

I had a blast!

I was moved by a lot of the entries, but there was one special one that I enjoyed the most. It was the Spokane Library Book Cart Drill Team.

Need I say more? :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dance Festival

I was a member of the church for one year and two weeks when I left on my mission. That wasn't a lot of time to get to know how to "be" a mormon.

But two things I did get to do were Roadshows and Dance Festival.

I lived in Novato, California and we were in the Santa Rosa Stake. The stake went all the way up north to Willits, and all the way south to the Golden Gate Bridge.

We did Dance Festival at three levels, first on the ward level, where we performed out in the back parking lot, then on the stake level, where we drove the 33 miles to the stake center and performed there, then on the regional level.

The regional dance festival must have taken in the whole Bay Area and was held in Spartan Stadium of San Jose State University. And what a thrill it was! 1500 kids all out on the football field, dancing, together, under the lights.

To this day I remember what a moving experience that was, and how impressed my parents were, sitting up in the audience. They didn't attend a lot of church stuff I did, but they did attend that.

Generator Brushes

My dad went through a phase where everytime something went wrong with one of their cars it was always "generator brushes". Heaven only knows how he picked that as an excuse. He even extended it to me and Mildred. When something went wrong with one of our cars, he of course asked us if our generator brushes had gone bad.

Well, one day they went bad :)

When Are You Leaving?

My father told the story of when he was first away at college (which was Dartmouth, class of 1939) and came home for his first visit.

I guess my grandfather asked him "When are you leaving" by which, of course, he meant "We are happy to see you, how long will you be able to be with us?". My father, of course, took the other meaning "Okay, you've barely gotten inside the door, now when are you leaving?".

My dad didn't talk much about his relationship with any of his family, but this was a great insite into his relationship with his dad. I wish I had more of them.

Washing Dishes in the Temple

When I was a student at BYU they began building the Provo Temple. The construction site itself was great, it gave us an excuse to take someone of the opposite gender on a drive and make out.

Anyway, when the construction was almost complete my best friend Dave Schepps and I got jobs in the cafeteria washing dishes. I don't know why we got those jobs, but it seems like the cooking staff were all full-timers, whereas we were students and could only work part time.

It was a fun job. We had an automatic dishwasher where all we had to do was put plates/silverware/glasses/whatever in containers and run them through. If they didn't come out clean we would run them through again.

But best of all was this 1/2 horsepower garbage disposal that would grind just about anything, at least until it got jammed. Then we were really in trouble.

All the people who were eating the food could see was a window where they deposited their dirty dishes. We would stand on the other side of the window and do what we did. But while I was there, I sang. Songs from Broadway, or church songs, or whatever.

The Temple President, President Clark, pulled me aside once and told me the singing was good, but too loud. So I toned it down.

The best thing that came from the experience was that when Mildred and I got married I asked President Clark to perform the marriage, which he did.

Quarante Litres

One of the perks that US military people stationed in Europe had was a reduced price on gasoline. Now I doubt very much that the price of gasoline was very high anyway, by today's standards, but still, it made it cheaper for us to drive all over.

The way it worked was that my dad could buy coupons worth 10 liters each at work. We then just needed to find a gas station that displayed a special symbol, that of the army quartermaster. Then we could buy gas just using the coupons.

Our routine was that my dad would order "quarante litres", which was about the extent of his French. Quarante litres means "40 liters" and it's roughly 10 gallons. He gave them four coupons and away we went.

But as the oldest, and the one that spoke the most French, I guess it was my job to make sure they didn't go over the 40 liters.

Well, one time they did, and my dad had to pay cash for the extra, and I was sure in trouble...

The Officer's Club

In telling this story I might be embarassing my sister Karen, but I hope not. She probably doesn't even remember the incident.

We lived in Paris, France from December of 1959 until the summer of 1962. My father was an Air Force major, stationed at a joint military command there. I was 11 when we moved there and 14 when we left.

Everyone who has seen a picture of Paris has either seen the Eiffel Tower or the √Čtoile. √Čtoile means "star" in French, and it is so named because there are 12 major streets that feed into it. There is a major street that rings the familiar monument, which is actually the French Tomb of the Unknowns.

Well on that street was the Officer's Club and we would go there from time to time either for a special event or for the Sunday buffet.

We were there for some event once. My memory was that we were all dressed up and a bunch of the kids were off in an area away from the parents. We were sitting in easy chairs when a girl that I was really interested in came over to the group. My sister poked me and said "Stand up and let her sit in your chair".

Well I was embarassed, to say the least, and have never forgotten that. And of course I have no idea who the girl was :)

Stake Conference

Last week in Stake Conference we got moved to a new ward. Actually, 35% of the stake members got moved into different wards, this is going to be an exciting time.

So with the new ward came a new meeting time. We're now back to the 0900 schedule and we have time after church to do stuff. I've been a slackard in my blog, but I think today I will try to whittle down the list I keep in my iPhone of things I want to talk about.