Saturday, October 6, 2012

Conference Memories

I hope I haven't blogged this before.

I'm in my first General Conference session in Connecticut. Since I don't have Internet access in my little apartment I have come to the church building to watch.

Being in the Eastern time zone we are offset by two hours from Utah. So our sessions are 12-2, 4-6 and 8-10.

This reminds me vividly of General Conference in my mission field. It was April of 1968 and I was assigned to labor in the city of Geneva. The Mission Home was close and we were all invited to listen to Conference on WNYW, short wave rebroadcast at 2:00 am.

This was only my fourth General Conference since my baptism in September of 1967.

I was so impressed that my Mission President (grandson of Joseph Fielding Smith) and his wife (granddaughter of LeGrand Richards) knew all of the General Authority speakers just by hearing the first few words they spoke.

I don't remember what was said that day but I do remember the feelings I had as we sat around that radio.

Today reminds me of that.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Journey, Day 8

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Today is the day! It was an easy drive, comparatively speaking, from Rhinecliff to West Hartford. I wanted to go there first because Bob Pearce, my best friend from high school many years ago, and his wife Trudy live there.

I probably should have called first, but I wanted to surprise him. It typical Bob fashion, he just took it all in stride.

We have not seen each other, though we have talked, for over 10 years. At that time, after Mildred had died and when I was first getting to know Sally, I flew to State College (well not exactly, but David and April picked me up wherever it was that I flew into) and we drove to West Hartford and stayed with Bob and Trudy.

The next day was Agnès' wedding in the Boston Temple. West Hartford is only about two hours from the temple and they were very gracious to let us sack out there that night.

The next day we travelled to Boston, did the wedding, then came back to West Hartford. On Sunday I was taking the train to Chicago to meet up with Sally, but there was time to go to New Haven and go to church there. Here I am 10 years later, in that same ward!

I sat and talked with Bob for a while, then got back on the road for New Haven.

I had talked to the Bishop down there a few times and he had recommended a small studio apartment that one of his members had recently vacated. I made arrangements with the landlord to look it over, and it only took me 5 minutes to know that it was just right for my needs. I spent the rest of the day moving stuff out of the car and shopping for what I needed.

Journey, Day 7

Friday, August 10, 2012

Today was my Whoops Day, the day I built into my schedule just in case things when wrong somewhere. So instead of pushing on to New Haven I took the day off and spent it with Paul and Melina. Paul had taken the day off from work.

Frankly, we didn't do a whole lot. Paul had made me a dentist's appointment in Kingston to get my flipper fixed, and the 45 minutes they quoted us when I checked in turned into an hour and 45 minutes. And cost me $100.

They wanted to charge me $200 to fix the silly thing, but I talked them down.

Meanwhile Paul and Melina did their weekly shopping. The Kingston Bridge is a toll bridge, so they only go there when scheduled. The alternative would be to drive down to Poughkeepsie, and it's hardly worth that trip.

After that we dropped Melina at home and Paul and I went out to a you-pick farm. They weren't technically open that day, but the farmer had some real nice fruit in the cooler that he sold us. I got white peaches.

Paul had been planning a barbecue for that evening, but because it had been raining off and on all day he settled for cooking inside. After dinner we played a couple of games of Rummikub and went to bed.

Journey, Day 6

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I'm really tired, but this should be a short leg, just 5 hours. 

Pennsylvania is very green and very pretty and the landscape continues on into New York.

Out of State College I got back on I-84 toward New York. Just as 84 would have crossed the Hudson River and headed towards Hartford, I got off it and headed north along the river. Then at Kingston I crossed over and took a short jog south to Rhinecliff.

Rhinecliff is part of the bigger Rhinebeck and is absolutely gorgeous. The whole Hudson Valley is that way and Rhinecliff is basically just a whistle stop along the way, forgotten by the hustle and bustle of the modern mall.

Paul and Melina live in a very old home just a 5-minute walk from the train station.

Journey, Day 5

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Today was planned to be a lot easier, it's not so far from Ann Arbor to State College.  A quick trip down to Toledo, then across Ohio and half of Pennsylvania. Again, had I not been pressed for time I would have loved to stop by Pittsburgh and see my family there. But I pushed in.

Now David and family had left Houston for State College just about the same time I left Spokane, Saturday the 4th.  So when we (Mary and Alyson came with me) got there, they were still trying to figure out which box had what in it.

Still, it was nice to spend time with them, as it had with everyone else on the trip. 

Journey, Day 4

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Iowa was a surprise to me. Today's plan was to go from Des Moines to Ann Arbor, which meant I would travel across Iowa, illinois, a tiny bit of Indiana and half of Michigan. 

I expected Iowa to be like Nebraska, only flatter. It turned out to be hilly, green and pretty.

The route (I-90) just skirts the southern side of Chicago, an area the locals call "Chicagoland". If I had not been pressed for time I would have gone into Chicago just for the heck of it.

I dragged into Mark & Mary's about 8:00, enough time for tacos and a game and then I crashed.   

Journey, Day 3

Monday, August 6, 2012

Today was a really long day, and not very interesting. 

Cheyenne is at the very eastern edge of Wyoming. My goal for the day was Des Moines, Iowa, so essentially I crossed the whole state of Nebraska and went into Iowa.

Central Nebraska, where I crossed, is definitely agricultural. Lots of fields of what looked like corn, not. Lot of hills. Not a lot of activity on my radio, either.

No car problems today. Maybe it was related to the altitude.  I went from 6000 feet down to 1000 feet by the time I got to Omaha. 

Journey, Day 2

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I didn't get as early a start this morning as I would have liked. I was tired from yesterday's stage and we got to bed late last night. 

The plan called for going back up to Salt Lake and catching I-80, which will be the pathway for pretty much the whole trip. Today's stage would take me from Salt Lake to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

After some interesting terrain as I drove out of the mountains just east of Salt Lake, the rest of the day was pretty boring.  I found no radio stations I was interested in (in other words, no NPR) and nobody on my ham radio. Lots of time to think.

Later in the day I started having some car problems. It happened mostly when I was going uphill, and the engine would just cut out for a few seconds. It would start going again, but still, it was worrisome.

I passed the Continental Divide again, just as I had done yesterday in southern Montana. The big difference this time was that the sign that declared Continental Divide also said the elevation was 7000 feet.

Some time later we reached the summit of another mountain and then the altitude was 8064 feet.  I was surprised I think because the mountains I am most used to driving over, the Sierra, are more obvious about climbing, whereas this came more gradually.

I was making such good time that I considered going past Cheyenne, but then when I actually got there I had had it and was ready to stop.

I am hoping the car problems are related to going uphill at that altitude. I have turned off the air conditioner to lighten the load on the engine. 

I am staying in a Motel 6 tonight. Cheyenne, by the way, is over 6000 feet high. I thought Denver was the only state capital over a mile high, but now I know better. 

Journey, Day 1

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Knowing this day would be the longest stage of the trip, 12 hours, I had hoped to get an early early start. But last-minute preparations the night before got us in bed late. Then it was hard to leave my sweet Sally, hard for both of us. 

I've made this trip through Montana on I-90 East to I-15 South so many times that I didn't see anything new and wondrous. Frankly this part was drudgery. I missed Sally already and just wanted to get down to Pocatello and see Amanda. 

My visit with Amanda was short but sweet. She looks really good and was in good spirits. In many ways she and I view the family dynamics similarly and it's always nice to spend time with her. 

But I was worried about the 2-3 hours of driving I still had and how tired I already was so I left her earlier than I would have liked. 

By the time I got down to Salt Lake everyone had decided to meet at the Leatherby's there. Leatherby's is an old old family favorite from the days when there was one in Fremont. Luckily they serve a really good Chef's salad so that I could keep to my carb-free plan that has been serving me so well. 

It was nice seeing everyone. Rebekah was leaving the next day for her Mexican cruise, so she couldn’t stay too late. And I was really tired, so I couldn’t stay too late. Still it was 0100 before I got to bed and to sleep.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Journey, Day 0

Before I begin the next few posts, some background information needs to be given.

I lost my 5 year 5 month job with Critical Logic on May 31, 2012. It was neither welcome nor unexpected. The company had lost its biggest client and we all knew it was hurting.

There were two of us who were laid off that day. Since then, on the last day of July, five more were laid off, everyone who was left got a 20% pay cut and the corporate headquarters have been subleased.

But on with my story. I immediately put my résumé out in, the premier site for tech jobs. Inquiries started poring in. I had many interviews, including one in Bellevue, WA and Boulder, CO.

Nothing gelled though until NCR in East Haven, CT. On July 23, 2012, I got the call from my agent, Jamie Martin, that NCR wanted me, and that once a background check and a drug test were complete, I could start!

The first three months will be a "try before you buy" period for both of us. I will be a contractor, which means that either they or I can terminate the relationship at any time. If everyone is still happy after the three months they will make me an offer to be a permanent employee. I won't even think about moving my family there until they do.

I have gone through so many emotions since that day, plus lots of getting ready and saying goodbye. I will try to talk about all of them in the posts to follow, though I will start out with just the trek from here to there.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Holding Alyson's Hand

Alyson did so well while she was being blessed this morning. She was moving her arms around so I sneaked my right thumb out and put it in her right hand. We held hands through the rest of the blessing :)

I wish I had thought of that sooner and had held Jocelyn's hand too. She was blessed just 10 weeks ago :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bumper Sticker

Happiness is a passed pawn

Sunday, March 11, 2012


There are many emotional experiences that I have had that I have not yet put to pen, but it is time for this one. Our Stake President's talk in Ward Conference brought back these memories.

My third city on my mission was the French Mediterranean port city of Toulon. This area had four elders and two sister missionaries. My companion was Elder Larry Wride, and he had only been there a couple of weeks.

Two weeks before my arrival, Elder Wride and his companion had met a young lady named Antoinette Palmièri. Antoinette was a nurse working a night shift that gave her a lot of spare time. In that time she had completely read the Book of Mormon.

We quickly settled into a comfortable routine with her. One afternoon a week we would go over to her house, she would serve us cold limonade and we would talk.

Prior to finding the missionaries, Antoinette had been studying with the Témoins de Jéhovah (Jehovah's Witnesses). At some point they had pushed to meet her parents, and that turned into an awkward, embarrassing situation. That was why we met with her when we did, because we wouldn't run into her parents.

District Conference came and President Nelson told us "Brethren and Sisters, we don't have time to spend with investigators who are not ready to accept the Gospel. When you go back to your area, challenge any who are not progressing and drop the ones who will not take the challenge."

It was with much fear that I approached our next visit. We were comfortable and I didn't want to upset our relationship.

I asked her "Do you believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God?"


"Do you believe that Joseph Smith was was a prophet?"


"Then what do you have to do?"

"I guess I have to be baptized"

She talked to her parents, and they not only said "Heck No", they said "You join and you leave".

So she left home and joined the church.

A year or so later she had reconciled with her parents and the family had relocated from Toulon to Grenoble. One Friday evening she had her bags packed and said goodbye to her family, explaining that she was going to spend the weekend with a friend.

She got on a train to Geneva where President Nelson set her apart as a full-time missionary, serving in the Franco-Belgian Mission. A year a a half after my return I was fortunate to go back to Europe and spend some time with her and her companion.

After her mission came a temple marriage and five children (very rare in France). Life hasn't been perfect for her, but it may have gone down a whole different path if Elder Wride and I had not done as we were asked.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We Got Lost

When my father got promoted to major in 1955 we couldn't live at Fort Meyer any more. We moved to a house on North 3rd Street in Arlington, Virginia. The area was called Arlington Forest and it was right on Highway 50.

Around the corner and down the hill was a forest. One day my sister Karen and I decided to go exploring. We started at the end of the forest by our house, and just walked and walked.

Eventually we figured out that we were lost. I remember that I was part scared that we were lost, and part scared that we would be in trouble.

Eventually we ran into a woman who knew us. She took us home.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Taking Down the Tree

I'm watching my daughter's family take down their 2011 Christmas tree and thinking about what a bittersweet moment it is.

In our family at least, we approach the Christmas season with so much anticipation. In its own way it is the High Holy Day. I know that in Gospel terms, Easter is probably more important (if I may use that term), but Christmas is Family, and Giving, and Happy, and our Savior all rolled into one.

The day after Thanksgiving, weather permitting, is Christmas Tree Day. Mostly all my children's families follow this tradition. They look forward to it, and those who can go out and cut a fresh one. The choice of a tree is full of passion and some level of compromise. It is generally trimmed that day, or at least by the end of the weekend.

Even just getting out the boxes and bins of ornaments is loaded with emotion, as old, familiar friendships are renewed. Some of these are just baubles that have withstood the test of time and small fingers. Others are homemade, with the picture of a kindergardener pasted on it, or one with a year on it, a symbol of a special time that may not even be remembered.

Over the next month gifts start to appear. They arrive in the mail, they get wrapped early just because, and sometimes we never even figure out where they came from.

Wherever the tree is, that's where the gifts stay for the next week, in little piles by person. The wrapping paper has been (very carefully) thrown away, but the room is an extension of everyone's bedroom and closet.

Then comes the New Year, and It's Time. We regret the end of Christmas. We put everything away, out of sight, but certainly not out of mind. The tree gets consigned to the curb, to be picked up some day by the garbage collectors. We de-Christmas the whole house.

We have a saying in our family, whenever someone asks what something is that we don't want them to know about yet. We tell them "It's too close to Christmas".