Oklahoma Swearing In

Perhaps a little outdated, but I thought I would share a couple of photos from the day I was sworn in as a Licensed Legal Intern on 10 February 2010.  This is the Oklahoma Supreme Courtroom.  Pretty cool little room with some amazing wood and plaster work.

Oklahoma City University inductees, Unknown, Paul Ross, Justice James Edmondson, Leo Mendez, Unknown

Oklahoma City University inductees, Unknown, Paul Ross, Justice James Edmondson, Leo Mendez, Unknown

A mug shot with me and Justice Edmondson.

Justice James Edmondson and Paul Ross

Justice James Edmondson and Paul Ross

Let’s not forget Amanda!

Paul & Amanda Ross

Paul & Amanda Ross

 

 

Oklahoma City Chairs

I have thought a little about Oklahoma City today for some reason or another.  Here are a few pictures from the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

The memorial has 168 bronze, stone, and glass chairs representing those who died from the bombing.  Each one has the name of the person it represents etched on the glass at the bottom.  The architects arranged the chairs in separate rows signifying the different floors of the building on which the person died, near to the place at which they worked in the building.  Five chairs on the far west side represent people not in the building who also died.  Smaller chairs represent the children.  Mothers who were pregnant have their unborn children listed under their names on their chair.

DSCN4420

DSCN4418

DSCN4419

DSCN4427

I graduated once

Since it is the season of graduations and I am fortunate to have just participated in one, I thought I would give a little personal post about some of my earlier formal graduations.  I am sure there are other graduations I probably participated in, but I do not have photos of them, at least that I am aware.  Like graduation from diapers,  which consists of a diaper on the head with a tassel.  Or graduation from elementary school, which would consist of a wedgie (and a tassel!).

Here are my Kindergarten Graduation Pictures.  The Graduation ‘ceremony’ was held in the West Minico Junior High Auditorium in Paul, Idaho.  I can still remember the day, both sets of Grandparents being present, and some of the program.  It was quintessentially the same program that Andra, my sister, would go through two years later and I remember that occasion for her.  I am assuming I graduated Kindergarten in the spring of 1984.

Now we can forward more than a decade to graduation from high school.  I graduated from Minico High School in Rupert, Idaho in the spring of 1997.  I swear there are photos out there of the occasion, I have seen them.  It does not seem my family has any at the actual ceremony, and whatever my Grandmother had is with her stash, wherever that might be since she passed away.  That could be the dump, but I guess it is in a drawer somewhere in Alaska.  Maybe some day…  This is a photo in my Grandmother’s home in Paul, Idaho.  This photo was taken on my Grandma’s birthday and probably taken by her.  I am still pretty thin, excited about life, and wearing that new class bling, I mean ring (that was rudely stolen by a home invader in 2009).

Forwarding a few more years, here is a picture of graduation from Utah State University in Logan, Utah on 17 December 2005 with a BS in Law & Constitutional Studies.  By this point I am days away from marriage to Miss Amanda Hemsley so she joined me in the photo, along with future in-laws (my Dad and Jan are in the photo too, to my left).  I even got some fancy cords again!  Two more of my grandparents had passed away by this time and the last one was unwilling to attend.

Now the latest event in my graduation history.  Graduation on 15 May 2011 from Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with a Juris Doctor.  Not only is my Dad and in-laws in the picture, my family has been joined by the newest addition of Aliza.  I doubt there are further formal graduations in life, besides death, awaiting in the future.  But at least we have some of these graduations in photograph.

I am such a ham!

Look at the cool hood.

A duck story and the Gores

Here is a picture of our latest visitors here in Oklahoma City.  Kevin and Jean Gore from Walkden, Greater Manchester, England.  They visited and stayed with us for two evenings and about two days.

I first come to know the Gores in 1998 as I was preparing to leave for my mission to the UK.  The Bishop from the Hazelton Ward, Paul Tateoka, sent word through his brother in my ward, Ted Tateoka, that I needed to call this couple from the UK.

The Gores were staying with one of the missionaries who had brought them into the church, who lived 5 miles or so down the road from me.  I called the Meacham home and had a nice visit with Kevin for about 30 minutes or so.  I obviously had my mission call, but I do not recall knowing that they lived in my mission.  Kevin knew I was in the mission so he told me a few interesting things and we hung up the phone.

I admit I completely forgot about this conversation with Kevin Gore until my first Sunday serving in the Eccles Ward (now Swinton) of the Manchester England Stake.  I stood there shaking hands with members and introducing myself when a man asked if I was Elder Ross from Hazelton, Idaho.  I apparently looked dumbfounded so he informed me that I had spoken with him on the phone before my mission.  Granted, this was the first time I laid eyes on him.  Well, that started a relationship that has now come down through the years.  I served in the Eccles Ward for about 6 months, although since there were two sets of missionaries, me and my companion had the other half of the ward.

The Gores were probably one of the closest families I had in that ward, although there were a couple.  Before we left late in 1999, Kevin and Jean Gore treated all four of the missionaries to a very nice roasted duck dinner.

Time has a way of marching on, and so it has done with this friendship.  Brad Hales, Amy Hales, and I visited the Gores again in the summer of 2003 when we went to England for a convert baptism of a lady who Elder Hales and I had once taught (in Runcorn Ward).  I think we spent two evenings with them at that time, although our time was limited because they were working and we had other people in the area we also visited, but Jean made us a roasted duck dinner again!  We did not request it, but she made it, and it was fabulous.  We again enjoyed our time with them, although limited.

The Gores were kind enough to invite us to the wedding of their son, Ian, in Springville, Utah in 2004.  Brad Hales and I visited, partook of the food (no roasted duck!), and enjoyed a good evening with our British friends.  The Gores came to visit Utah in 2008 again, but we were only able to enjoy a light dinner at Olive Garden together (again, no duck, only in England!).

Amanda and I made the trek over the water again in 2008.  This time we again spent 2 nights with the Gores in their home on Trinity Crescent.  Both in 2003 and 2008 I knew the neighborhood well enough I could still drive to the home without much difficulty.  Jean once again made her now famous roasted duck dinner!  I honestly think this is the only times I have ever eaten duck in the past decade, if ever in my life (other than what they call duck at the Chinese buffet).  The Gores were more than kind in allowing us to stay with them, use their computers, talk family history, and even hosted a little get together of other members of the Swinton Ward I still knew and asked about.

Here we are in 2011, 13 years later after the phone conversation, and the Gores have come to visit us!  Sorry, we did not treat them to a roasted duck dinner.  It would have been an insult to Jean’s cooking.  Their son, Ian, had moved from Springville, Utah to Bentonville, Arkansas.  Kevin and Jean wanted to come down to visit the Oklahoma City Temple and, we feign to believe, us.  We drove out to Pops Soda Shop in Arcadia.  We also ate out at our favorite little Mexican joint and then we treated them to capers and artichoke pasta the night we made them dinner.  We played a couple of games of Ticket to Ride and just enjoyed our time together.  Thanks for being such great friends and keeping in contact through the years!

When is the next time we will see the Gores?  And, the question you all want to know, will there by duck involved?

2008 in Review

This morning while everyone sleeps, I thought I would give a quick year in review.  Wow, what a year.  Probably the best year of my life.  I hope I can continue to say that every year!

One year ago, it was the first day of being laid off in my life.  Good ole Bank of America laid off the entire Wholesale Division.  My life as a underwriter came to an end as the mortgage industry was obviously in signs of trouble.  I decided to leave the entire industry.  Boy, am I glad I did!  1 January 2008 brought a month of trying, scrambling to find out what to do.  I had severance for a year and my job working professionally as a genealogist.  That carried us through.  I have been doing genealogy for the same family over the Christmas Break to supplement our income.  That is certainly a great blessing.  I know it is a blessing to their family and those who have gone on before as well.  I have probably added more than 2 or 3 generations on each of their family lines.

The first week or two of January I received an offer for employment in Pasco, Washington covering the states of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming for Inlande Environmental Resources.  I would be making more than 10K more, have my own vehicle, card, and a whole lot more.  The only downside is I would be in Idaho most of the time while Amanda would remain in Virginia to finish her education.  We decided it was a great offer, much better than our options in Virginia, and could help open doors for the future.  The end of January, Brad Hales flew out, and we made a cross country trek in my pickup.  Brad has always been a very generous, kind friend.  Who would have thought a mission to England would have such long lasting repercussions?

February through June found me working for IER working with existing customers and making new sales.  The only big contract I found was with J.B. Swift in Hyrum, Utah.  It was 2 or 3 truckloads a month at present.  They were having so many problems with Thatcher Chemical that it was a fairly easy sell.  Honestly, I was just at the right place at the right time.  I really don’t think I personally did anything that really made the sale but it made me a favorite with the bosses.  We opened quite a few doors.  The big thing I enjoyed was the travel.  Salem, Portland, The Dalles, Weston, Pendleton, Gresham, and more in Oregon.  Toppenish, Yakima, Zillah, Sunnyside, Grandview, Pasco, Kennewick, Wenatchee, and Colfax Washington.  Wenatchee was another example of just being in the right place at the right time.  We were solving a foaming problem with apple concentrate waste.  We just had the right chemical but became known as the defoaming expert!  I also traveled all over Utah, Vernal being the most exotic visit.  I sure enjoyed Inlande Environmental.  They were really good to me and I enjoyed working for them.

May rolled around and I decided to accept an opening at Oklahoma City University for Law School.  I announced it to my bosses and they were more than accepting.  They knew when they interviewed me for the job I was seriously considering law school.  They were so good to me!  In fact, they let me keep my salary through to August while Amanda and I took our trip to Europe and here to Oklahoma City.  Amanda also graduated in May.  Amanda’s parents and I flew out for the big occasion.  We sure had quite a bit of fun!  During the time there we packed everything to move all our stuff to Oklahoma City.  We did a little sight-seeing as well.  Monticello was probably my favorite place to visit and I was fortunate everyone else wanted to go as well.  In the end, I flew back to work in Idaho and Amanda with the in-laws drove to Oklahoma City in a moving truck, and from there to Kaysville in the car.

A big first for the year.  We purchased our first home!  A quaint little 30’s home near 23rd Street NW in Oklahoma City.  A wonderful little home with plenty of things to keep me busy but still liveable.

June rolled around and then Amanda and I went on our very expensive weight loss program.  I can boast losing about 20 pounds running around Europe.  We spent six weeks in Europe.  Many, many firsts for both of us.  We visited friends in Belgium and they were very kind to treat us.  Primarily, it was perfect for getting over jet lag!  We then went crazy in traveling for the next 6 weeks.  About 4 days in Belgium.  We attended a Stake Conference in Antwerp and attended dedicatory prayers in Dutch.  That prepared us for Brugge, and where we spent our next few days in Amsterdam.  We saw the sights and even made a trip to Den Haag.  Off we shot across The Netherlands, across Germany to Berlin, and down to an ancestral home in Dresden.  I still think Dresden was probably my favorite place.  Even better than Vianden or the rest of Luxembourg.  Dresden is also near to Meissen which was another ancestral home.  I would love to spend a week in Dresden.  We shot across Germany through Leipzig down to Augsburg.  There we were based to hit Munchen, Dachau, and Fussen for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.  Then we headed off to visit Stuttgart with Neuffen and Holzgerlingen (ancestral towns) before heading to Salzburg.  Salzburg was definitely another favorite.  Gorgeous town.  Then off to sweltering Venice via Innsbruck.  There we spent time in a very different culture and climate in a city on the water with no water to drink!  After Venice, up through Padua to Zurich and down to Bern.  Bern was definitely another favorite.  I really wish we could have spent some good quality time there.  Then off through Lausanne and Geneva for a few wonderful, long, unorganized days in Paris.  If there was ever a point Amanda and I were getting tired it was in Paris.  More with each other than with the city.  But we really enjoyed Paris nevertheless.  If we had been stuck in Amsterdam during this time, we may have been in marital breakdown, but Paris made it bearable.  After Paris, we headed back to Belgium for a day or two before flying off to Prestwick, Scotland.

We then were in a car for the next 3 weeks!  That day we made our way through Glasgow before ending in Edinburgh for some wonderful times there.  We really liked that city.  I could certainly feel we were back in the United Kingdom.  There is a flavor in the air that reeks of Britain.  From there we worked our way down through Manchester, Liverpool, Northern Wales, Birmingham, Bath, Dorset, and finally to London.  In the UK we spent two weeks of it in the old stomping grounds of the England Manchester Mission.  We visited loads of people I knew and tried to balance that with seeing the sites for Amanda.  I think we did a good job.  We also caught up with some long time friends, the Gores and the Byroms.  We also met up with my old missionary companion Elder Gheorghe Simion and his wife who now live in Liverpool.  After the mission we visited ancestral homes near Birmingham, even stumbling on a cemetery in Halesowen with plenty of ‘my’ Coley line.  It was fun.  Bath was quite a bit of fun crashing that night with a cousin in Milton Abbas, a gorgous little Dorset town.  They treated us very, very well.  Then off to London crashing with the Jeppesen’s in Weybridge.  We spent our remaining time with them in their posh house until we flew out.  All in all, we loved our entire trip.  Paris could have used a bit more planning, but the trip as a whole was utterly marvelous.  We feel very, very blessed to have been able to take the trip.

We landed in Utah and the gears started grinding in different ways.  I tried to make sure everything was a successful transition for IER and we headed out for Oklahoma City.  We arrived here the very last week of July.  Before August had arrived we had moved all our possessions into the home and started setting up for the next few years.  I went to work on the yard, Amanda went to work on the inside.  We came to know our ward, get lined up for school, Amanda a dental hygiene license, and job.  Everything fell into place within a month.  I was rolling with law school and Amanda had a job blocks from home.

The rest of the year was fairly uneventful.  I sat trying to recoup some of my weight lost in Europe (I have been unsuccessful, not that I really want it back) in the law school library.  I picked up squash here again.  Amanda works her days away.  I am slowly remodeling a bathroom with all that extra time.  Amanda took up sewing our Halloween costumes and organizing Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Then the year was over!

All in all, what a year!  I feel highly blessed of heaven.  Who could ask for anything more?  We have started paying off student loans for Amanda.  We are also paying for some work done on the house and what little remains of our trip to Europe.  We paid off the washer and dryer, now the refrigerator next.  Then we can start socking it away for retirement (since our retirement took quite a hit in October and since!).  Plus there will be plenty more to do to the house if we should really want to invest.  But all in all, God has been very good to us.  May he continue to light our paths and may we continue to do what is needed to bring down the extra blessings!  I am looking forward to 2009, although I think it will be much less eventful than 2008.  But hey, who knows?

Jennie Ann Bremer Britzman

I know you are all clamoring for an update.  Here are a few interesting items. 

In some solemn news Aunt Jennie passed away on Sunday.  I don’t know why she was referred to as Aunt Jennie.  She was my Grandma Ross’ first cousin.  Jennie Ann Bremer was born in Ogden on 18 October 1916.  She was born to Frederick William Bremer and Jantje (Jane) Van Leeuwen.  Jantje was my Great Grandmother’s (Berendena ‘Dena’ Van Leeuwen.  Her family moved to Bellflower (Long Beach) California about 1925.  Jennie married an actor in 1933 by the name of Harry Heiser.  He was from Delaware originally.  They were divorced after only a year or two.  Jennie made it sound like the times were hard and the stress made him unbearable.  She then married William Doughtie in 1938 in LA.  This too was a short marriage.  I honestly cannot remember if Harry or William was the actor now.  I am pretty sure it was Harry.  In 1953 she married Robert Floyd Britzman.  They had two children, only one of which lived to adulthood.  Richard was living and taking care of Jennie the past few years.  Robert died in 1967.  I am not entirely sure what Robert did but he left Jennie with a nice endowment for the remainder of her life.  She remarried Harold Ross (my Grandpa’s brother) about 1976 but that marriage very quickly ended.  It was annulled it was so quick.  There is a whole story to go along with that but I won’t pursue it here.  Jennie traveled extensively throughout the world.  She had stories from Rome to the Great Wall of China.  She lived to the ripe age of 91.  I often visited Jennie in her house in Washington Terrace.  We would take lunch down at a little hole in the wall mexican restaurant on 24th Street.  The last time I saw Jennie was the 23rd of February when we went to lunch with Betty Donaldson after her endowment.  I will miss her and her laugh until we meet again.  I have placed Jennie’s three photos to the front of the Van Leeuwen Family Album.  The store her father ran in Southern California as well as pictures of her parents are right after.

Amanda and I attended ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ put on by the local Jewel Box Theatre here in Oklahoma City.  We were very pleased with the value for our money.  We both purchased tickets with our student passes and found it was a theater in the round.  For the most part it was very spartan in props other than what the actors carried on their person.  Regardless, they did very well.  The singers became noticeably weaker as the show went on.  It started out so energetically but ended a bit sluggish.  This was one of their last performances after a couple of weeks.  I remember well the days of trying to coax the voice to perform just a little more after weeks of performances.  It can be a tiresome schedule.  However, my experience was the closer you got to the end the more in the groove you found yourself.  Awkwardness gave to energy and excitement.  I am disappointed the night before their last show it seemed to end in such a way.  It is a church run theater in their 51st year.  It must be handed to them for their diligence and tenacity.

Last night we had dinner with Dan and Liesel Martin.  Of course their beautiful 11 month old daughter Linea joined us.  He made us a meal he had the first night of his mission in Pennsylvania.  Potatoes and chicken gravy on waffles!  It was very good.  I thought it would taste a bit like having it on bread or Yorkshire Puddings.  It did.  It is one of those meals that give you a happy tummy.  We played Cranium afterward.  We did not win but I did feel a little smarter after successfully answering a couple of the questions.

I received a message from Victor Wayment on Sunday.  I had sent him a picture from the day my Grandpa went to the draft board at Camp Douglas.  Victor was able to tell me the picture was taken on 16 Oct 1942.  How he knew that, I haven’t a clue.  He was able to name 5 of the 7 individuals in the photo.  One of the two Grandpa could not name he put a name with and even gave me the contact information for Kenneth Barrow.  One of the two he could not name was one Grandpa could not name.  That hole still remains.  However, he named one of the other individuals differently.  Who Grandpa thought was Jim Jardine Victor named as Glen Geilman.  It just happens that Glenn Geilmann married Evelyn Van Leeuwen, another first cousin of my Grandma Ross.  I called and visited with Glen and he certainly remembers going with Grandpa and Victor to Camp Floyd.  He also thought Jim Jardine was there.  Perhaps Jim is the unknown.  I haven’t a clue.  At any rate, I am also sending a picture to Glen as well and Kenneth Barrow.  Hopefully they can name the unknown and clarify Jim Jardine/Glen Geilman.

Lastly, today is my sister’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Andra Ross!!  She e-mailed me today telling me about moving into their new home in Rupert.  I guess they have done quite a bit of work on it and it is coming alone nicely.  As with any other project, there is plenty more to do.

Well, I have to sign off.  More homework to complete.  I want to be sure to make it to bed with plenty of time to be rested up for the Constitution’s Birthday tomorrow.  Happy Birthday!!  Oh, it happens to be my birthday as well.  Happy Birthday Paul Ross!!  Amanda and I are going out to eat on Friday night since law school isn’t very conducive to large, long dinners on a school night.  Thanks for the birthday cards!

Preston, England

Another more relaxed day in England.

Today we received word the paperwork and everything has all been signed for our home.  The paperwork is off to Oklahoma City for the official closing on Monday.  I don’t know what could really change now.  By all accounts, we are now the proud owners of a little home in Oklahoma City.  Or at least we have a title to a home with a significant lien for a bank somewhere.  Hopefully everything continues to work out like it has so far.

We ran to the Preston England Temple today.  It is one of my favorite temples.  There is something in the simplistic beauty of it I adore.  Amanda agreed.  It is on par with the Rexburg and Vernal Temples for the simple elegance within.  We snapped a couple of pictures.  We also ran into a member I knew in the Wigan Ward.  He is now in the Temple Presidency and enjoyed a good visit with him.  We were supposed to go over and visit this evening, but our plans crowded it out in the end.  We had to reschedule it for tomorrow sometime.  We are going to work it out in church.

Afterward, Amanda and I ran into Preston.  I showed her the town center where the missionaries preached the gospel for the first time in the British Isles.  It is in Preston that the longest continuing unit of the church operates, the Preston Ward.  We ran out of time to go to the flat where Parley P Pratt and Orson Hyde were attacked by the legions of the devil.  We did not get a chance to see Avenham Park or the beautiful River Ribble where the first baptisms took place outside of North America.  We did not get over to see the apartment where President Hinckley received his famous “Forget yourself and go to work” letter on Wadham Road.  Perhaps sometime in the future.

We came back and were relaxed some more with the McCabes.  They treated us to a fine meal of South African descent.  They lived in South Africa for a number of years.  Later this year they are immigrating to Australia!  How is that for exciting.  When we make it to Australia, we know who we will be calling on!  Amanda and I made a call at Tesco today and purchased a Pavlova.  Boy, was I glad to get my hands on one.  We consumed it after dinner as one of our desserts.  Mmmmm.

I realized yesterday was the anniversary of Joseph Smith’s death.  I wonder specifically what he is doing these days.  What or where is he up to doing work?

Tomorrow we are off to attend the Wigan Ward.  Then we will go visit some of the new converts I helped bring into the church.  Sadly, I don’t think any of them are active.  But we shall find out.  I did find out Jim Monks knows where one of them lives.