Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Les Grusendorf

Yesterday was Knott's Soak City water park. I would have ordered a slightly hotter day for this activity if it had been up to me but the day wasn't bad and I managed to get a couple of burns as it is. In the first picture here you can see Alex and myself coming out of the shoot of a giant funnel. In the second picture it isn't all that clear but Alex and I are hitting the bottom of the two very tall and very steep slides. Alex is on the left and his slide has a couple bumps in it while mine is straight down and you feel like you're leaving the slide. You hit the bottom at a very high rate of speed. Sarah will be coming out of the tube on the left very soon and MacKenzie is still in the tube on the right. In the final picture you can see Sarah's head in the water trough and if you look closely you can see MacKenzie coming out of the tube. All in all it was a great day and I'm only a little bit pink.

Just out side of our back door was a huge willow tree. The tree must have reached a hundred feet into the air and I think it's roots went just as deep into the ground. Not long after we moved in, our sewer backed up and it only took a few calls to learn that the man who could solve every problem in Rosemary was Les Grusendorf (8). Les was an old fellow who was the town maintenance man. He was the nicest guy and he knew how to do anything. I gave him a call and the next thing I knew he showed up on my doorstep with a sewer snake. It worked like a charm but unfortunately I had to repeat the operation about once every three months. I got to know Les very well in the time we lived in Rosemary. He had every tool you could want and I borrowed many of them. I used his cement mixer, I borrowed his saw horses and he helped me on many projects. Just a few days before Brandon was born (June 2, 1984) our sewer backed up again. I knew it would not be a good idea to bring a baby home to a house with no sewer so off I went to borrow the town sewer snake. As luck would have it, this time when I shoved the snake down the sewer it caught on a chipped piece of the sewer pipe and folded over. When I went to pull it back it jammed and that snake was not going anywhere. I estimated where the snake was caught and unfortunately it was right behind our doorstep so we would not be able to get a back hoe in there. I called Les and told him my situation and he promised to come by the next morning and look at it with me. The morning of June1, 1984 Lisa went into labor. I was all excited because I wanted to miss work but Lisa told me that it was nothing and that I should go into work. She would call me if the contractions got serious. When Kira was born Lisa was in labor for more than twelve hours so it didn't seem like there was much of a hurry. Imagine my disappointment when she never called. I worked a full day and then came home. We went for a walk over by the water ponds (9) and we finally decided to head on into the hospital. Once we got into the hospital we found out that she was barely dilated. How frustrating. Lisa slept that night and I basically just sat in the chair beside her. In the middle of the night I was getting hungry so I headed down to the waiting room where they had stuff to make toast. Lisa was having very regular contractions and I had them timed so I set my watch and headed for the waiting room. As soon as she was ready to have another contraction I ran back to her room so she could squeeze my thumb during it. I then went back to the waiting room to check on my toast. We went back and for th like this for a while until Lisa told me that I was driving her insane. She could hear me running down the hallway and she knew that if I was coming to her room she was going to have a contraction soon. I thought it was quite funny. Finally as dawn approached things moved very quickly. It came so quickly that it kind of freaked Lisa out. Brandon was born somewhere around 7:00AM and I was dead tired. I was also bummed because it was a Saturday and I still didn't have any excuse to skip work. June 2 is also my sister Fara's birthday so that was kind of special. After we finally got Lisa and Brandon settled in I dragged myself back home looking forward to a nice long nap. Imagine my surprise when I pulled in the driveway and there was Les Grusendorf digging a big hole behind my back porch by hand. I wanted so bad to go to bed but how could I leave this old man digging a hole in my back yard? I grabbed a shovel and hopped into the hole to help him uncover my sewer line. My arms felt like rubber and I thought I was going to pass out. It was all I could do to throw the shovel full of dirt up out of the hole. We did finally reach the pipe and with Les' help we fixed the pipe for good. Finally I was able to thank Les and send him on his way home and I went and slept like a baby.

Rosemary Scouts

Today we had planned to hike out to these waterfalls that are supposed to be big enough that you can swim beneath them. It was a five mile hike but when we looked into it we realized that the falls dry up in the summer time. We didn't want to hike five miles in to see a mud puddle and then hike five miles back so we planned a trip to the beach instead. After a full day in the sun yesterday no one was up to exposing too much of our red skin to the sun again so we ended up walking on the beach and having lunch beside the water. It was a great day. I just love being with my kids. We picked out a few beach houses that we think we will buy. Well, maybe it will have to wait until after I make my millions.

Not long after we moved to Rosemary they called me to be the scout master. This was a problem since I knew absolutely nothing about the scouting program. I did know a lot about scouting however so I accepted the challenge with enthusiasm. To make matters worse, the scout group committee met on the same night as we had scouts. The group committee was the one place I might have received some sort of training to be a scout master but I guess that wasn't to be. As a kid growing up I loved the outdoors. Lester and I used to hike into the mountains in Waterton Park and throw our sleeping bags down anywhere. I seldom worried about trails and we never worried about fire rings or that kind of nonsense. We also never took a canteen since there were many streams and we'd just drink out of the streams. I also don't think we ever owned a tent, we just took our chances. We did have a scouting program in our ward but all they ever did was play floor hockey in the gym. Every Tuesday night we played floor hockey. I hated it. I also never earned any badges but not because I didn't care, it was because I was never given a chance. My scouts were a varied bunch, some loved sports and some hated sports. I didn't want my non-sports lovers to go through what I did so half the weeks we'd play a sport and the alternating weeks we'd do something I loved. We didn't work on badges because I didn't know anything about them but I gave them the kind of scouting experience I had. I remember one week we put aluminum foil in a pop bottle filled with water and Draino (NaOH) and put a balloon over the top of the pop bottle. The reaction produced hydrogen gas which filled up the balloon. We'd then tie the balloon and let it float to the roof of the gym in the church. That soon got boring so we taped a string to the balloon and lit it on fire. When the fire reached the balloon it ignited the hydrogen and made a nice fire ball. We timed it so that the balloon would explode in mid air before it hit the ceiling. I wasn't too worried about black marks on the ceiling or it burning because hydrogen doesn't do that but I didn't want to take a chance. There were times when I was afraid the explosions would attract the attention of the people in the group committee but if anyone came in the gym we had our ropes there and we just pretended to be working on scouting stuff. We also made hot air balloons. If you dip a cotton ball in alcohol and hang it under a dry cleaning bag and light it, it will fill the bag with hot air and it will float. One day when we were doing this it was too windy so we went in behind the church (3) where we were sheltered from the wind. It worked fine until the balloon floated above the church and the wind caught it and sent it for a loop. The balloon stabilized but by this time the bag was on fire. We now had a fire ball flying through the air. I was worried about a brush fire so I sent my scouts running after the fire ball. It landed in Bob Henderson's (11) stubble field and by the time we caught up to it the stubble was on fire. It's a good thing we had a bunch of us there because it took all of us stomping to get the fire out. I swore all of my scouts to secrecy and told them if they ratted me out I'd probably get fired from my scout master job. I don't know if any ever told or not but I never got in trouble. We also went on camp outs which was my favorite part. Looking back we were terribly unprepared but we camped the way I used to camp as a kid. I remember one time we drove up to the mountains and when we saw a likely spot we pulled over to the side of the road, found a good place to leave my car and we hiked into the tree's. We found a good spot by a stream and there we pitched our tents. I think we had tents, but maybe we didn't. Another time we did a winter camp out on lake Newell. We took fishing poles and went ice fishing but I've never been able to catch fish. A couple of the boys caught some nice pike but I didn't. I tied a lot of hooks though. It was a very cold day (below -20) and I couldn't believe it but one of the boys brought a coat with a broken zipper. I might not be prepare like I should but I always brought good equipment. Another activity that I remember well is one night we went out to Leonard Dressell's farm and pulled the kids around the yard behind a truck in the snow. Leonard had the hood of an old car that he pulled behind his truck. That was a lot of fun. I think I even took Kira on that activity. I guess the Lord knows where my heart is because even now, more than twenty years later I'm still the scout master in our ward. My boys now usually make "Eagle" and I know how the badges work but we still go camping and learn how make fires properly. I love it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

George Riel

Yesterday was a great day. Our first stop on the week of fun was the air and space museum in Balboa park. They have a Star Trek exhibit and my family was kind enough to humor me and let me go. I was able to get a picture of my bridge crew. I especially like my communications officer there in the background. It was then necessary for me to beam down to the nearest planet with a group of my officers. Following the Star Trek exhibit we went and saw an Omni max film about the Egyptian mummies. It was very fascinating. It was even more weird when they showed us a picture of Ramses (the one who negotiated with Moses and the Israelites) and said, this is probably the only face from the bible that we will ever see.
My work at Global was fascinating. When the founders of Global left 3M they brought all of the files that had anything to do with thermoelectrics that they could find. My new boss, Layne Wilson, took me to a file room and showed me a stack of about a dozen file boxes and said, your job for the next six months is to read these files. It was wonderful. Also, at Global I met George Riel. What a unique person. George was the only other active member of the church who worked at Global and we hit it off perfectly. The best way to describe George is the mad scientist. He was a genius and used to do math problems during his spare time just for the fun of it. He dressed like a nerd and didn't worry the slightest about what other people thought but his faith in the gospel was unshakable. We would spend hours discussing obscure inventions and potential new technology. He quickly became one of the best friends I have ever had. He would give you the shirt off his back. Very few people understood George, his mind definitely worked very different than most peoples minds but I loved him. Once we moved to Rosemary George (7) and I car pooled. Our ride into work and back every day was always a time I looked forward to. George taught me many things and if I only had the money, I could get rich building the things that we invented in that beat up old blue truck of his. It was a sad day when George accepted a job offer with another company and he packed up his wife and his many children and left Rosemary.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ben has a motorcycle; Art

This week is going to be our summer vacation. With the kids in sports it is very difficult to get away so this year instead of taking off somewhere we are going to do a bunch of fun things here in town. Saturday was the end of an era. Shortly after Sarah was born Brandon made the profound comment, "well, no more kids for this family, we don't have any more seatbelts". He was referring to our brand new Chevrolet Astrovan. It has served us well for more than 13 years but when the transmission went out a while back it just didn't seem worth fixing it. I was going to just donate it but finally we decided to sell it. Lisa figured it would actually be worth money but I was quite skeptical. This weekend some real estate agent in the neighborhood had a neighborhood garage sale so we decided to sell some of the stuff we got from our neighbors across the street. At the same time we put a for sale sign in the van window. I was also finally convinced to list it for $1,000. I thought that would scare everyone off but we had more interest in the van than anything else. I sold it in the first fifteen minutes. Even with a shot transmission. As we were sitting there minding the shop (garage sale) the mail came. I got a letter from some outfit called AARP. I wondered who on earth that could be. It turns out that because I'm going to be turning fifty soon I am now a member of the "American Association for Retired People". I don't know if I like the sound of that but hey, I now qualify for some discounts. Let's see how much that is worth.

A week ago Ben came to the realization that him and Sharley need a second vehicle. They can't afford a car and with the price of gas what it is they decided that they needed a motorcycle. Justin also did that when he was in school and since they are going to be in Arizona (Justin was in Florida) they figured that a motorcycle can be a year round vehicle. I had a motorcycle in Canada and I felt indestructible on it. Now that my son is driving one it doesn't seem nearly as safe. I told Ben to be careful because Sharley is way too young to be a widow.

Rosemary was a new and wonderful experience for us. As I talk about Rosemary I will refer to the map above using a number in brackets to indicate where the place is that I'm referring to. I wanted to use a satellite image but I guess Rosemary isn't big enough to warrant a high resolution image. Our house (1) was on the southwest corner of Tulip and Florence. It faced Tulip street. When we moved into Rosemary all of the streets were gravel. Eventually they paved Railroad Ave and Center Street as far as Lupin but that was it. There were some unusual things about Rosemary that seemed strange at first but eventually it just became a part of the wonderful experience that was Rosemary. When it came to religion the town was very divided. Half of the town was very devout Mennonites (2) and the other have was very devout Mormons (3). There were a few others scattered in there but not many. Even the graveyard (4) was divided with Mormons buried on one side and Mennonites on the other side. Oddly enough there was even a Buddhist Temple (5) in town. While it seemed odd what it really meant was that there were a lot of very good people in the town and they all watched out for each other. It was a wonderful place to raise your kids. Our block had about five houses that faced Tulip street and behind the houses running down the middle of the block was a back alley. The other half of the block had one very old and run down house and the entire half of the block (6) was a fenced in and they had a bunch of cows. A very old and somewhat decrepit man lived in the house with his son named Art. Art was a loner but a nice guy. I talked to him often and grew to like him but it was obvious that he was avoided by most of the people in town. That was understandable because they lived in squalor. The entire yard was filled with manure that smelled to high heaven and neither Art nor his father had very good hygiene. The cows also looked severely malnourished and were no more than bones with skin stretched over them. One day when I was at work I received another one of those panicky phone calls from Lisa who was nearly hysterical. It seems that one of Arts cows got out of his yard and was standing in our yard feeding on our flower bed. Lisa was pregnant with Brandon and was scared to go out there and didn't know what to do. I told her to send Vlinder out and I figured the dog would chase the cow away but eventually she just called a friend named Harold Unruh and he took care of the cow. I've often wondered what became of Art. Over the years I got to know Art fairly well. Before we left Rosemary he got a job at a pig farm and got rid of his cows. I know he was working to get his drivers license and buy a car. That would go a long way to helping him fit in.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rosemary, the two moves

Yesterday we finished painting Sarah's room. We still need to put her bed and furnishings back but at least it is now blue. In the afternoon the family (at least the two youngest members of the family) went to see "The Dark Night". It was fun.
On July 30, 1983 we said our goodbyes in Edmonton, which was especially hard for Lisa since this is the place where she grew up. It was also where she was living when she was baptized as a young teenager. We found a small house to rent in Bassano on 2nd ave and 7 th street. Or in that area somewhere. It was a small little single story white house with a partial basement. I can't remember all who helped us move but I do remember Mom and Dad were there and Lester and Barbara and Jackie and Ross. Greg and Gaylia might have been there too but I'm not sure. On July 30, 1983 we rented a small U-haul truck, loaded up our stuff along with our little baby who wasn't even a year old yet and and headed down highway 21. When we were almost to highway #1 the truck stalled and left us stranded on the side of the road. What a helpless feeling that was, remember, this was long before the advent of cell phones and we were on a deserted road. Most of the people in the group were ahead of us. All of my worlds possessions were on that truck and it was in the middle of nowhere. The good thing was that part of my "worlds possessions" included my tool box. I figured that for the motor to run it needed air, gas and a spark all at the right time. I started with the spark since that was easiest, I pulled a plug and turned over the motor and it sparked (good). I checked the air cleaner and the choke plate and the throttle and that all looked good. I then pulled out the fuel filter and blew through that and that seemed to work and then when I put it all back together the truck started. What a relief. I'm sure it was just vapor locked and would have worked fine if I'd just been patient. It was a hot day. We all arrived safely in Bassano and most of our stuff went into the small basement to be sorted through later.

On August 1 I started my new job and Lisa went about setting up our first real house. In Edmonton we lived in a small town house which in reality was bigger than the house we moved to but it just seemed different since it was a whole new life for us. We made several trips back to Edmonton in the next few weeks and on one of these trips we got a dog. I had never really planned on getting a dog but we were talking to the Jim and Barbara Palmer and their Border Collie had just had pups. They were so cute and I loved the idea of having a Border Collie so we added a little puppy to the family. She bounced around like a little butterfly so Lisa let me name her Vlinder which in Dutch means butterfly. While I had never planned on a dog I had always pictured myself with a cat but Lisa figured that a dog was enough and we didn't need anymore animals. One day I was at work and I got a phone call from Lisa. She was crying hysterically. When I finally got her calmed down enough to make sense of what she was saying I got the story from her. Apparently she had been downstairs going though some boxes and when she opened one of the boxes a mouse jumped out of the box right into her face. We got a cat. We named the cat "Dragon".

I'm not naturally a very outgoing type of guy and it isn't natural for me to go out of my way to meet new people but we felt very welcomed in our new ward. Lisa of course is the exact opposite of me and she wanted to meet everyone. We had met a couple of families in the ward before we moved there. My mom's cousin was Elna Hall and her and her family lived on a farm just outside of Bassano. They were one of the first people that we met. They are a wonderful family and their son in law actually worked at Global. Lisa's Mom's cousin was Reg Kesler and he had a ranch outside of Rosemary. We didn't see him much and I don't even know if he lived there but his daughter Pat Norton lived in town. We immediately became very close to both the Halls and the Nortons. Lisa of course wanted to know everyone else so for the first few weeks after we moved we went and visited many of the families in the ward. I was worried that we might be intruding but we seemed welcomed everywhere we went. My memory is a bit vague on this point but some of the families that I think we visited are Bill and Roselynn Easter, Noel and Laveve Crapo, Delyle & Leone Sorensen , George and Ula Horneburger, Bob and Karen Baxter and I'm sure there are others.

A month after we arrived in Bassano, Kira had her first birthday. I remember the Halls were at her party and I think the Nortons came as well. As our first year went by it became more and more obvious that most of the people we associated with lived in Rosemary and we eventually came to the decision that we would burn less gas if I drove to work everyday and we lived in Rosemary. While we felt a bit like we were deserting our friends in Bassano (the Halls and the Baxters) we believed it was the right thing for us to do. We started looking around for a place to buy in Rosemary. The memory of me talking to Valerie Watson on her back doorstep kept coming into my mind and I thought this would be a nice place to live. Imagine my surprise when I learned that they had moved into a new house and the old one was vacant. We eventually bought the house and as soon as our lease was up we moved to Rosemary.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Memoires of Rosemary

I'm going to do something for the next week or two that I have needed to do for a while. I know it may be a bit boring for some of you so I give you permission to skip the next few blogs if you don't want to read them. I've always wanted to write my autobiography but I just don't have time. For over a year now the Easters in Rosemary have been encouraging Lisa and I to contribute to a history of Rosemary that they are preparing so as a way to get started on my own autobiography I thought I would start with Rosemary. After all, that is a major part of my life and it is where 4 of my 6 kids were born. I've been accused of remembering history a little different that the rest of the world (mostly my wife) so I do reserve the right to make mistakes that may require corrections later. I'll especially need help getting names correct so if you recognize someone who's name I've omitted or gotten wrong please correct me. In fact, I will welcome any contributions I can get. Roselynn, this is for you.
In the spring of 1983 I was preparing for graduation from the University of Alberta. I was graduating as a metallurgical engineer and in Alberta that usually meant you would be working in the oil patch probably doing welding processes. Unfortunately, unlike 2008, 1983 was a bad time for the oil patch with prices very low no one could get a job anywhere. I sent out at least a hundred resumes and had gone on a few job interviews but with not much success. As graduation approached I became more and more anxious about what I was going to do. During my third summer and then through my fourth year I had been working with a professor doing research work and he told me that he would keep me throughout the summer but he couldn't go beyond that. One day I was riding the elevator with one of my professors and he very casually said to me, "how would you like to live in Bassano?" I asked where Bassano was, figuring it must be some foreign country. Who would have thought it would be in Alberta. As it turned out, Bassano was a small town on highway 1 just west of Brooks. Through a very strange turn of events, there was a company in Bassano called Global Thermoelectric Power Systems Ltd. Global manufactured thermoelectric generators and sold them throughout the world. Global was formed by a group of people who left the 3M company. 3M made the generators that went to the moon with all of the Apollo missions. They first got into thermoelectrics in the 50's when everyone expected thermoelectrics to become a major source of power but once reality set in and they realized that thermoelectrics were not going to be more than 10% efficient they decided that thermoelectrics didn't really fit into their image of a tape company and shut the division down. Many of the employees working on thermoelectrics decided they could make a business of this and started their own company. The main product made at 3M was a 120 watt generator used for cathodic protection of pipelines and so Alberta was a major customer. The salesman responsible for Alberta had become good friends with a prominent farmer in Bassano and used to go pheasant hunting in the area. The Alberta government also had extra money and tax breaks for companies starting in rural areas and so with an investment from the farmer (name?), tax breaks and pheasant hunting, Global Thermoelectric was born.

Global wasn't actually looking to hire anyone but I followed the prompting of the spirit and made a trip down there anyway. They interviewed me and were interested since they didn't have any materials specialists and were just following recipe's to make their semiconductors. I was eventually turned down but again, following the spirit I persisted, never giving up. After several trips and many prayers they finally hired me on at $25,000 a year. I thought I was going to have money coming out of my ears. Reality hit very quickly. In my entire graduating class I was the only one to get a job right out of college.

During one of the job interviews I decided to go for a tour of Rosemary. There was no ward in Bassano and they all met in Rosemary which was about 25 miles east of Bassano (about 1,000 people). If I thought Bassano was small imagine my surprise when I first drove into Rosemary (about 300 people). Bassano at least had paved streets. The Bishop of Rosemary was Don Gibb and I found out that one of his councilors was Mark Watson. I believe Bill Easter was the other councilor. It turned out that Mark Watson lived in town so I looked up the address and talked to his wife Valerie. They lived in this tiny little house on a corner lot and I remember standing at the back door under this huge willow tree. It was a beautiful day and I remember thinking how lovely this place was. It was a little house but a huge lot and it had a huge garden in the back. I loved the town and I felt good about everything.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sarah is at Girls Camp

Today was just another day with nothing special going on. I'm working hard to get caught up on the inevitable long list of emails that I get while I'm gone when suddenly I get an email with the following message and picture.

Hey daddy its sarah I love you!!!! Show mom too and I love her as well!

This was a bit of a surprise because Sarah is at girls camp and supposed to be in the wilderness. As you can tell, she is in the wilderness but apparently one of her leaders blackberry has a signal. It brightened up my day. Last night I got home and we painted Sarah's bedroom. Lisa likes to surprise the kids when they go away for a while.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Memphis - day 2 - Graceland

This morning we hopped into the car and headed south on highway 55 to Batesville Mississippi. We left at eight o’clock this morning and it was already 90°. Crazy. The meeting went well, it was definitely not a battery problem but it does look like the phone has a problem. I couldn’t open the phone up but I’m guessing a cap popped or something right in the woman’s ear and now she has ear problems. I suppose that is going to cost us thousands of dollars. We then headed back up the 55 and exited on Elvis Presley Boulevard. Gee, I wonder who lived there? We pulled in the Graceland parking lot and learned that it would cost $27 just to go inside the gate. I may have mentioned before that I’m not much of a music fan so I’m not sure if I would have paid that much money for the full tour (I probably would have, it’s Elvis after all) but I certainly wasn’t going to pay $27 for less than an hour. I did my best to get a picture from the street but I think they purposely planted a bunch of big trees just to mess up people like me. At least you can see the building. I also got a picture of the Lisa Marie and one of Elvis’s fancy convertibles. Then it was off to the airport. I was scheduled to layover in Minneapolis for an hour and a half so I decided to wait and get something to eat there. I’m not sure how I ended up with a window seat, I really prefer an isle seat but windows are OK unless you get a fat person next to you and then I get claustrophobic as I’m squished against the window. Imagine my horror as this monster of a man came walking down the isle. I prayed, “please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me!” After all, what are the odds? You guessed it, he plopped his 400-pound body in the middle seat. Rolls of blubber overflowed the armrest into my space and to make it all worse, he smelled bad too. So there I sat squished against the wall of the plane taking deep breaths trying to say calm. I tried to read my book to keep my mind off of my predicament and then my prayers were answered. It so happened that the fat mans wife was sitting a few rows up and her middle seat was empty. He went and tortured his wife. I looked over at the isle seat and there was this tiny little girl with a look of relief on her face. I asked her if he was gone for good. She said she hoped so. The plane taxied from the gate with no one in the middle seat. I love it when that happens. We got out to the end of the runway when the captain gets on the speaker and tells us that something very unusual has just happened. They just lost all of their hydraulic fluid. I knew right then that this was going to be a very long day. I’m not sure what the hydraulic fluid in a plane does but it must be very important. I’m quite glad that they didn’t lose it five minutes later as we were gaining altitude. Hydraulic fluid must control things like the rudder and ailerons and I’m sure it is there for a reason. We get back to the gate and they bring on the mechanics. I’m just waiting for them to tell us we need a new plane. Eventually they boot us all off the plane and tell us they’re going to fix it but I’m just waiting for them to get a new plane. They then say they have a scheduled departure time but “just in case” they’re going to rebook everyone on different flights. Immediately a huge line forms and I say to myself, “this is going to be a long day” and I go and buy myself barbecued pork. It was very good. I then get on the phone with North West and rebooked myself on later flights, meanwhile, everyone else is still in this huge line. My original flight landed at seven but now I’m not going to get in until around midnight. Yuck. I then ate my delicious pork and I also bought a sweet potato pie. I’m told it is famous in Memphis. I’m saving it for the flight but it looks very good. Let’s hope that the rest of the day goes better than the last two hours.

Update, my original flight finally left at 5:10 (about three and a half hours late) and I’m now in Minneapolis. I obviously missed my original flight so they rebooked me on a 9:15 flight. Guess what? The flight is an hour late. This is very frustrating. To make matters worse (as if that’s possible) because I was added to the flight at the last minute I have a middle seat. I hate middle seats. The only good news today is that while I was waiting I talked to Kira. She is in Salt Lake at a double reed conference. This is a worldwide conference of renowned double reed players and she was asked to perform for them. That is a real honor and puts her up there with the best in the world. She performed this afternoon and did well. She was quite nervous but I knew she would do well.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Memphis - day 1 - Beale Street

Today I am in Memphis Tennessee. It was surprisingly interesting tonight. I'm here to see another lawyer about a phone that supposedly burst into flames and made a woman deaf. Highly unlikely but I have to take a look at the phone. I flew out of San Diego this morning at 11:30 so I didn't have to get up at some insane hour and it was a direct flight so it went quickly. My first shock was when I walked off the plane into the ramp and it was like walking into a wall. It was a hundred degrees and very humid. To think I was wondering while I packed this morning if I should throw in a jacket, just in case. Mike said that he heard that Memphis was famous for their barbecued ribs so we checked into the hotel and headed off for Beale Street looking for the Blues City Cafe. As we approached down town we came around a corner on the freeway and there was the mighty Mississippi river. It really is a grand looking river. I have never heard of Beale Street before but I guess it is famous. Supposedly a lot like Bourbon street in New Orliens but smaller and not as famous. We got there and the street is all blocked off. I don't quite know what I was expecting but this isn't it. It was a fun looking place. We'd been told that the place to eat was Blues City Cafe but some guy flagged us down on the street and offered to let us park in a stall that was marked "no parking at any time". He assured us we wouldn't get ticketed so we tipped him $5 and took his word for it. He told us that the place to eat was BB Kings. We went into BB Kings but they were playing loud music and it was way too noisy so we went across the street to "The Blues City Cafe". As we were trying to decide where to eat I noticed that the sidewalk has a bunch of musical notes embedded in it with music stars names on them. I didn't know who they all were and Mike thought I was joking. He was quite disgusted when he realized I was serious. I did find one name I recognized. The ribs were excellent barbecued ribs. I love it when they cook them until they look burned but this was just a little too much. The burned part actually tasted a bit like ashes to me but it was still good and I enjoyed it so much I had fried apple pie for dessert. What a dessert, it was served in the frying pan they cooked it in and the butter was still in the pan. A big scoop of ice cream and I just packed away all of the calories I burned on Saturday and then some. Very good though. After we ate we decided to go for a walk down Beale Street. It was really a happening place. I saw the FedEx Forum where the Grizzlies play. I really don't know who the Grizzlies are but that is what the sign said. I saw another bar called Pat O'Reilly's. It is supposed to be famous for their moonshine during prohibition but I took a picture of the hallway leading into the place because I thought it looked pretty cool. I guess the original Pat O'Reilly's eventually moved to New Orleans once they became legal again. We stopped in another bar and listened to some guy do a Johnny Cash imitation. I don't think he looked anything like Johnny Cash but he really did sound like him. They not only had bands inside the bars and restaurants but they also had bands out on the streets. Some of them actually sounded pretty good but you know how much I love music. I was ready to go home long before Mike was. I think he was a little disappointed that I didn't want to go sit in a bar and listen to them all night. They also had a few horse carriages going up and down the streets. One of them them looked like the pumpkin chariot out of Disney's Cinderella. It was covered with flashing blue lights that you can't see too well. Finally Mike decided it was time to go home. I was good and didn't say once that I wanted to go. He could just tell that I was done listening to loud bands. It became pretty obvious that Elvis lived around here at one time. We asked around and learned that Graceland is only a few blocks from our hotel. Now wouldn't it be a shame to be that close to Graceland and not go see it? We stopped by on the way home and it looked like it was still open but we decided to gamble and go see it tomorrow in the day light. I didn't want to pay money and get kicked out in half an hour and we should be done tomorrow in plenty of time. I did take a picture of Lisa Marie (that would be his airplane). Can you believe they actually have Elvis' airplane parked out in front of his house? It is strange being in a place this hot. We are in the car and forget how hot it is until we open the door and get brutally reminded. Even now it is midnight and according to the TV it is 90° outside. Thank goodness for air conditioners. How did the pioneers ever manage?

Yesterday was also a long but fun day. We got up early again because Brian Wilson (our friend going on a mission) reported at 9:00 and they're on the south side. We've been used to sleeping in since our meetings don't start until 12:30. Brian gave a very good talk and I can tell already that he's going to be a great missionary. After their meeting Alex figured that since he'd already gone to church that he was done for the day. He was quite distraught to learn that we were then going to our own ward. Mackenzie came in to town last night to go to Batman with Alex and his friends. It was so late and they live so far out she just stayed the night and we all went to church together this morning. After church Ben and Sharley came over for dinner and it was good to have everyone here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

PQ5K Fun Run

Today was a great day except for the fact that we had to get up at 6:00 AM. In celebration of July 24th (for you non-Mormons, that would be the day that the first Mormons entered the Salt Lake Valley) the stake had a 5K fun run today. It is weird because I have been running 3 miles (5K) three days a week now for several months but I was very nervous about today. I suppose that is because there are several people in our ward who run a lot and I didn't want to look like a fool. Lisa, Alycia, Alycia's boyfriend Craig and Sarah ran with me (well, Lisa actually walked it) and we had a blast. We started at our Stake Center and ran to our ward building. We were trying to figure out how we were going to get back to our car at the stake center when Alex informed us that 6:00 was way too early for him but he wanted to show up for the pancake breakfast. That worked out perfect. I tried to get Ben and Sharley to run also especially since they still live in the stake but they too were not about to get up at six. The race was fun except I was quite disappointed with the start, they didn't have an official start so everyone just took off at random and I got caught at the traffic light and left with the second group. Because there was no official start there was no time kept either. I really wanted to see what my time was because I'm convinced it was my best time yet for 3 miles. When I run alone it is really hard to push yourself but in a group like this I always wanted to pass someone. Alycia, Craig and Sarah and I all started off together. I really wanted Sarah to try and win it because I know she could come close and she might even be able to be the first girl in. Craig also runs cross country so he too could have had a good chance. Sarah wanted to just enjoy herself and stay with us so we ran together and had a good time. Unfortunately, she's been sick all week so half way through the race she decided to stop and use the rest room at the gas station. I thought about waiting for her but decided instead to keep going and I figured she would have a good chance of catching up to me. About this time Alycia started to tucker out so I headed out alone. I found some kids who were going a pace that made me work and stayed right behind them. Sarah crossed the finish line just a few minutes behind me. While I was still recovering Sarah and Craig decided to run back and walk with Lisa. They're nuts. I couldn't have done too bad because there were not many people there when I got in and like I said, I was in the second group to start. Tonight we went to the missionary farewell for a good friend of Ben's. We have become good friends with the family. This poor boy has really been wanting to go on a mission ever since Ben left more than three years ago. He hasn't had any moral issues but it seems like one thing after another has come up and only now has he been able to go. He is very excited and so are we all. He was thrilled to see us but Ben was obviously the one he really wanted to see.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Bush Lady

July 11 was Abrams birthday and I dedicated my post for that day to him but I can't pass up the opportunity to mention that July 11 was also mine and Lisa's twenty seventh wedding anniversary. What an adventure it has been. It was difficult to imagine way back then what our lives would be like now with six grown kids and even a couple of grandchildren. I love my life and I wouldn't change any of it for anything. I do feel bad though because I don't have a decent picture from our wedding to share and I didn't get a single picture of Lisa and I at Ben's wedding. I'm sure the photographer does but I don't have any of them yet. I had a scout camp this weekend and so Lisa and I celebrated our anniversary Saturday night instead of Friday night. The scout camp was a blast. I really wish I had taken my camera but it was at the beach with the family. We hiked up a trail to the top of this low mountain ridge but from the top where we were you could see the Salton sea to the east and the ocean on the west. We really couldn't see the ocean but supposedly if the day is really clear you can. It would have been a very nice picture. We got home around three in the afternoon and then I showered and cleaned up for our anniversary dinner. We went to this fancy Italian restaurant in Del Mar and then the plan was to go to a movie afterwards. We were too tired and just came home after dinner. Pretty pathetic don't you think? It was a beautiful dinner and Del Mar is lovely at any time of the day but it was beautiful last night. Today as we pulled in after church I noticed this little bush in front of our house was shaking and suddenly a branch fell to the ground. It really caught me off guard and I was quite confused. We pulled up in front of the bush and I noticed that our neighbor was inside the bush trimming it. If I hadn't seen the branch fall from the bush I don't think I would have ever seen her in it. It was really very funny.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Abram Bernard Jones

When Ben was in elementary school he became very good friends with a boy named Abram Jones. By the time they were in middle school they were like brothers. That made Ben's life in middle school a lot easier since Abrams grandma was the principal of the school. I think Ben got a free pass from a few of the teachers since he was best friends with Abram. Abram became such a part of our family that he was like one of our kids. The reverse was also true, Ben had a change of clothes and a tooth brush at Abrams house since he was there so often. Abram would also walk in our house without knocking and help himself to what ever was in the fridge. Abram had a smile that stretched from ear to ear and he knew how to enjoy life. As the boys grew up they went their different directions. Ben went on his mission and Abram and Derek headed to Canada to enjoy a year of snowboarding before they continued on with their lives. We talk a lot about illegal aliens down here but Abram and Derek were illegal aliens in Canada. One day Abram and some friends went hiking in the mountains of British Columbia and while they were enjoying one of the spectacular views that you find in the Canadian Rockies the ledge that Abram was standing on gave way and he fell to his death. It was a very tragic day for all of us. Because of his lovable personality, Abrams life had touched hundreds of people and his funeral was the biggest funeral I have ever been to in my life. We held the funeral in our church here in Penasquitos and so Lisa planned most of it. The church was so full it looked like we were having stake conference. There were more than six hundred people in attendance celebrating his life. Abrams death was especially hard on Ben who was on his mission and unable to come home. It was truly as if he had lost a brother. Since that day Abrams family has planned a get together every year on Abrams birthday where all of his friend and family gather together at La Jolla Shores beach (the boys loved body boarding) and we have a fun day with lots of food, sand and sun. Just like Abram would want it. They also have a blood mobile there so we can all donate blood for a good cause. I want to take this time to give this tribute to a young man who was like one of my sons. Abram Bernhard Jones. The first picture is Abram at Ben's eighteenth birthday party. The second picture is Ben and Abram at magic mountain. The third picture is Ben, Abram and Chuck at the Jones cabin in Mexico. The fourth picture is the same three kids but at eight grade promotion.

Abram getting ready to board the bus for a Mt Carmel football game.

Ben and his friends at Ben's eighteenth birthday part. These guys are all very good friends.

Ben, Abram and Derek at their graduation.

Our family skiing at Brighten with Abram as just another one of the kids.

Ben and Abram getting ready for Prom.

Abram at Ben's eighteenth birthday party.

Ben, Abram and Derek in our backyard.

Abram and Tom. Tom is Alex's ball python named after Tom Riddle in the Harry Potter books. Thanksgiving before Ben left on his mission.

Ben and Abram after their last high school football game.