Victor in Vianden

We have just returned from a trip to Luxembourg.  I really am exhausted and don’t want to take the time to tell a whole lot.  So you are only going to get an abbreviated version.

Yesterday we went to visit the Catholic church in Harelbeke, Belgium.  We then went to Kortrijk, Belgium and of course Amanda had to go to the chocolate shop for Belgium chocolate.  We did some window shopping, being tempted by some of the goods in the stores.  The suits were out of my range, as is about everything with the exchange rate with the Euro/Dollar.  We did snap a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Afterward, we made our way back to Oostrozebeke and prepared for the trip to Vianden.  We drove through the beautiful Ardennes on the way and into Germany.  There was a storm the entire way so everything was highly misted and especially green.  We drove past Brussels, Liege, and stayed at the Grand Hotel de Vianden.  It was very pretty.  Amanda and I went for a late night walk through the city for some photographs.  The bars were full but we enjoyed the sights.  Victor Hugo lived in Vianden for a spell.  We saw the house he lived in and the bridge with his name and bust.

Today we arose and went for a tour of the Vianden Castle/Chateau.  It was beautiful.  Originally there was a fort on the site in the time of Julius Caesar.  The current castle was built during the 13-14th centuries.  It fell into ruin but was restored in the 1970’s – 1980’s.  Vianden was the last town to be liberated in Luxembourg in 1945.

Afterward, we drove through the beautiful mountains to Luxembourg and went on a tour of many of the cities sights.  We saw the Notre Dame there.  It was gorgeous with a huge, high wall.  Who would ever have thought?  We ate lunch at Pizza Hut of all places.  Talk about going for the local cuisine.  I did have toasted bread with goat cheese on them (At Pizza Hut!)  Did you know Luxembourg had a 1,000 year celebration?  963 to 1963.  How is that for old?  The downtown market area reminded me much of London or Manchester, but the architecture is different.

We finished our trip to Luxembourg and came back to Oostrozebeke, Belgium.  We will visit Antwerp and Brugge in the next couple of days before we make our way to Paris.

Anyhow, I have uploaded more pictures in the European Trip Album from the last two days for your viewing pleasure.

Europe Trip – June 4-5

We have arrived in Belgium!  What a relief.  I cannot tell you.

We flew out from Boise airport.  We were fortunate to catch a non-stop flight, from LA!!  Boy, if there is anything near torture, try flying through the night in a very cramped space.  After 9.5 hours on the plane, we landed at London Heathrow.  We found our way through the Underground to Kings Cross Station.  Amanda went and found Platform 9 & 3/4 of Harry Potter fame and took a few pictures.  We waited, checked in for Eurorail at St. Pancras Station, and enjoyed a Cornish Pasty.  A first for Amanda, a beloved memory for me.

We climbed aboard the Eurorail which treated us to a trip through the Chunnel.  France proved to have beautiful scenery.  We got off at Lille, France and switched trains.  We rode to Kortrijk, Belgium.  James met us at the station and now we are in our digs at Oostrozebeke, Belgium.

Funny thing, we knew we needed to get to Kortrijk but we forgot to bring James & Catherine’s phone number and address.  Meaning, when we arrived, we were totally at their mercy.  We couldn’t catch a taxi to their home, and we could not call them.  It is sure a good thing James showed up with his little Toyota.

We find ourselves babysitting while J & C are off to branch council.  We put the kids to bed in 15 minutes, take a shower, and crash ourselves!  We are exhausted

Be sure to check our joint Blog.  Amanda will include some pictures there with some commentary.  I will also upload to a new European Album all our photos we deem of sufficient quality to share with the world.

Welcome to June. It is already all planned out!

Boy, am I glad June is here!  My wife has joined me after our long separation from job and school.  What a relief.  I don’t have to worry about her stressing herself out or being picked up by a much more dashing, intelligent, catch of a man.

We leave this week for what may be the trip of a lifetime.  How many times in a lifetime, if ever, does one get to go to Europe for 6 weeks?  We will be starting with friends in Belgium, working our way to Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, The Netherlands, England, Wales, Scotland, and who knows where else we may stumble.  We really cannot afford it, but why not live with some reckless abandon for a little while?  There are so many friends who do so every day of their life and seem to make it through their whole lives.  Granted, their quality may be diminished some.  But what is lost by worry seems it might be made up by the large home and toys that the self-proclaimed responsible typically don’t get to enjoy.  We leave on the 4th to return on the 16th of July.

We signed a purchase contract for a home this month.  Somewhere around the 22nd of June we will be closing on a humble home in Oklahoma City.  Who would ever have thought my first home purchase would be in Oklahoma City?  Did I ever think I would move or live in Oklahoma City.  Most certainly not.

Amanda and I just hit all three of the Idaho temples this past week.  Amanda had never been to any of them.  We have now hit all three Idaho and 11 Utah temples.  Before year end, we will have three more in that geography alone to hit to make it complete once again.  I am very sad I will be in Oklahoma City when the dedication of the Twin Falls Temple takes place.  Being so close to home, and wanting a temple closer for so long, now we get one and I cannot attend.  Amanda and I will be helping with the open house in July.  I guess that is some solace for missing the dedication.  I believe Idaho Falls and Manti are still my favorite temples.  The Rexburg Temple has so many gorgeous rooms.  However, for some reason I still prefer the sessions that are split up into all their sections.  Manti and Idaho Falls Temples both have you moving between all the rooms.  Manti has the pioneer value and beauty with a live session, but the simplicity of Idaho Falls with its rooms and movement make it a favorite.  Salt Lake certainly has the beauty but the place seems more like a zoo than a temple, especially in the summer with all the sealings.

This past week Amanda spent a day with me at work doing bench testing.  It was a beautiful day and we spent nearly all of it in Minidoka.  The Minidoka Longhorn Cafe and Whitesides Dairy was enjoyable for me.  The wastewater we play with is less than beautiful but it is part of life.  Whether we like it or not, we all have waste and somebody has to deal with it.  I thought Amanda was going to throw up at one point when we were doing some filteration.  She kept it down, luckily.  The day turned out well.  Except for the fact Amanda picked up a tick somewhere.  Not only did she pick him up, the tick dug in and started to sup near the middle of her calf.  She was not a happy camper when she discovered him.  A little polish remover and she backed right out.  Hope she got plenty to eat for the long stay in the septic tank.

For the first time in what must be at least 8 years since Grandma Ross passed away, all my siblings were back together.  Becky was coming through Southern Idaho so Scott organized a BBQ.  All five of us where there.  It was really quite a bit of fun and I enjoyed myself.  Even though we were never really close, I am glad we are still cordial and can enjoy ourselves when we get together.  Vicki, Dad’s first wife, was even there.  Dad and Jan were there as well.  Andra brought Brian and Daniel and little Daniel was certainly a favorite.

I know I have not been writing as much.  Despite more people reading the blog than ever before, I just don’t feel like I have much to write.  A couple of people want me to write more relevant things that would pertain to them, but how does one write interesting things for everyone?  Then, how does anyone write for someone else and keep their voice and soul into it?

Oh the nothingness

Here I write once again.  Sometimes life seems so full of everything, and other times as if this broad expanse of nothingness.  The variety of individuals I have the privilege of being with is amazing.  Their view, their outlook, the goals, their aspirations, their weaknesses all seem to vary so much.  The variety and style prompts me to proclaim how wonderful and amazing they are.  The intelligence that is so encompassing held by just a dozen people is staggering.  Yet, sometimes I wonder if they know one iota of anything concerning themselves and eternity.  People seem to be so good, wonderful, and helpful and in the same breath so greedy, selfish, and conceited.  What an education far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
Sometimes I wonder about the words of C.S. Lewis about when one recognizes themselves, that becomes the basis of pride.  Yet, one star is greater than another, one is always greater than another.  Perhaps we can recognize our own individuality but should be highly cautious about setting ourselves up over other people.  That is what the world is teaching.  You are special, it doesn’t matter what anyone is or does, you are better than they are.  That is false.  We are special, we are individuals, but we are a part of the fabric and an essential player.  We cannot be independent of all others.  No man is an island.  To think we are to be our own man, independent of the God who created us, and the fellow citizens of the earth only creates a bunch of insufferable show offs.  It breeds relativism and more conflict in the world.
While I have no doubt of the place of America in the role of the world, I find it scary that we subscribe to the belief I just mentioned.  I remember in England when an American could not understand one with the local dialect, they met it characteristically with talking a little louder and asking a question a little slower.  It wasn’t them who had the problem, it ws the individual speaking!  We expect the world to revolve around us and pay us all the respect we believe is our due.  We claim the rest of the world has pride and arrogance, even ignorance; when I must admit I think we are the one guilty of the charge.  Is it any wonder the French have problems with us?  In their history individuals given power rather than a government has produced “The Terror”.  Why wouldn’t we expect them to react the way they did when we gave more over arching powers to the executive?  When the power of waging war and of going into battle was given in their country, it led to a man seeking to rule Europe.  Add that to their condition of their neighbors who have taken them over because of what they deemed as right.  Of course France is not supportive of our going into another country to further ideals of democracy.  We can see why they don’t like capital punishment, the guillotine is a national symbol still to them.  That is something they will forever buck at.  What is more, we hover and watch them and give them the cold shoulder.  Not as a brother in the world should do, but as a lesser creature.  Someone who is to not be associated with on the playground.  We act the bully, and then when they bristle or don’t fall in line, we scorn and mock them.  Try and turn our friends against them to persuade them to be with us.  Looking back, that bully did hold their power for time.  What ever happened to the bully.  I hope we became more mature, that we all become equal, but it isn’t true.  I know of three who bullied me in elementary and junior school, and sadly they find themselves on the lower of the totem pole in life today.  I do not know if this would be true generally or across the board, but it is in my life.  Sadly, I expect the same thing will happen eventually to us as a nation.
Then I look at other nations who are different.  Others with different goals and perspectives.  We eye them with caution and expect they must have questionable motives.  The uncertainty always creates fear doesn’t it?  “I have often thought to myself, what is to be done?”  Education is our only hope.  Just like Thomas Jefferson I find myself thinking that our only hope would be education and the constant expansion of our understanding.  It must be understood, retained, and constantly built upon.  Just like Joseph Smith taught of the need for increasing light and knowledge, Thomas Jefferson admonished, and Allan Bloom admonishes we must find and constantly be analyzing.  We find our beliefs, seek out further light, compare it to what we have, and throw away what doesn’t work.  Leave it behind, keeping a faithful record of where we have been.  Sadly, such a case does not seem to be on the books today.  Like I mentioned the case of relativism seems to be taking hold with all its disastrous underpinnings.  James Madison made it clear that without the moral compasses and moorings that come from religious principles, the looking out one for another, democracy would drift and fall.  Without morality democracy will pass as all the others have before our time.
Odd isn’t it.  We are so smart, yet we never counsel with history.  Is it any wonder we are so seriously admonished to remember.  Rather than condemning, let us seek.  Rather than finding our lines and demanding nobody to cross over, why don’t we step over them ourselves and act as more faithful pilgrims and wanderers?  The glory of God is intelligence isn’t it?  When slapped, turn your cheek and move on.  Service to your enemies and comfort to those who are weak.  Revenge is never the order of the day.
It all starts with the individual.  From there the example is powerful.  There is great hope in the world.  There is great possibility of potential.  Why are we focused on fear?  Why not look to the future?  Fear only cripples.
Inside the world, in my own personal life, there is much to look forward to.  I find in myself a growth and a bright outlook.  It all comes in the name of Amanda Hemsley for me.  Burton K Wheeler and Jared Diamond have been my meat recently.  Not to mention the studies of Iranian business deals and American history that have been my research.  There has been a constant barrage of information which have helped to temper me and my zeal.  Somehow though, the introduction of another who is to be considered as yourself changes things drastically.  My vision has expanded not only of the world from her eyes but the view from my own.  It tempers the excitement of youth even more, but gives more drive for the future.  Somehow the clutch of individualism is disengaged and one finds themselves propelled faster and further along the road of life.  I am not even married yet!  The walk continues, but it is taking on new vistas.  I leave the Rocky Mountains with dizzying height and glamor to the more humble and open expanse of the plains.  It is not that there is less to see, nor is there less to experience.  It is just different.  The ecosystem is just as open, but a new road.  The anticipation is great.  Where will it take us?  How far will it take us?  Shall we circle the earth or walk slowly to Blair, Nebraska?  Either one, I am content.
She is most beautiful, captivating, and sublime.  I have not potential to describe the connection in those eyes and how far the warmth of her body seems to penetrate.  This world is definitely beyond the physical.  We don’t even know all the aspects of the physical, but already many doors are open for emotional and spiritual travel.
I found one of her hairs today.  It glistened and somehow represented something so far away.  It was only a memento that was obviously manifesting of her presence.  Yet she is so far away.  This part is not even living, but yet it speaks of her.  How many hairs in the world do I see, yet lose their true significance.  I have eyes but do not see.
Life is more than just me.  I focus on myself so much, everything revolves around my life, because that is me.  It is unavoidable.  But the greatest joys come in the life of others.  Burton K Wheeler’s experiences are now a part of my own.  His personality has become a part of mine.  While the stories and the times may melt, I have been changed and can clearly link it to him.  The same with Cecil D Andrus’ life.  On and on and on.  Oh if I could implore more people to record their lives and write their stories!  What I would not give to read the same of my ancestors.  My grandmother’s journal was a portal into another’s life.  However, that life is an extension of me.  While Brother Wheeler is far more removed, he is still a part of the country I now life, and that is part of me as well.  I was so sure to go out and define the world and change it according to my view.  I am coming to find out that the world has created much of what I am.  It has changed me.  It used to be such a negative view.  I always knew what needed to change and what I was to do.  Now it is the opposite.  What can I learn from it to apply in life.  I seek more and more.  Dismissing those which are of lesser quality and holding to those which are more true.
Is it any wonder we are exhorted to seek out knowledge.  It is the only thing that will save us.  Especially that knowledge which is most important.
Amanda came to visit over last weekend.  All my time with her is something to be cherished.  We learn so much from each other.  I learn so much from her.  She amazes me.  She is so pure and wonderful.  She makes me wish I was better, glad I receive her love, and yet honoured.  I love her and hope we will forever build upon that.  We are both just humble enough to learn from each other and to walk the path together.  As we grow, how much more sweeter can it possibly become?
Oh the nothingness of man.  God rules the nations and the earth inasmuch as we let him.  He oversees all and knows all things.  May we learn of him rather than to pontificate to the world what they should know.  There is so much to learn.  May I always be learning and seeking?  Rather than the one giving instruction.  Reminds me of Socrates always asking the questions rather than giving the answers.  Good night.