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Perhaps a little outdated, but I thought I would share a couple of photos from the day I was sworn in as a Licensed Legal Intern on 10 February 2010.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

 

 

James Sharp

Here is a photograph of James Sharp.  This is another of the photographs I have that I wish to make available to others.

James Sharp was born 7 January 1840 in Misson, Nottinghamshire, England to Thomas Sharp and Elizabeth Cartwright.  I wrote about his parents, the family’s conversion to the LDS faith, and the trip to America in his brother’s short biography, Sharp-Bailey Wedding.

Siblings William and Isabella continued west with a LDS wagon train and James stayed behind with his sister Elizabeth in St Louis.  (Read more about Elizabeth here.)  James and Elizabeth did not join the LDS faith with their mother (Elizabeth), William, and Isabella.

James married Eudora Elvira Mann 3 March 1863 in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee.  Eudora “Dora” was born 1 May 1845 in Nashville.  We do not know much of the life story, so how he met Dora and married her in Nashville we may never know.  The two made their home in St. Louis though.  James worked as a pork packer and initially started out in business with Patrick Muldoon around 1870.  Here is the run down of the St. Louis directories.

1869 [FHL #980635] James Sharp with Muldoon and Sharp at 1612 Biddle.
1870 [Gould's p. 797] shows the same.
1871 [Gould's p. 601] the same, but also lists Sharp, James pork packer r[esident?] at 1119 N 17th. {FHL #980,636]
1872 shows Muldoon and Sharp at 1015 N 17th [N 17th goes from 1701 Market North to Angelica.]
1875 [p. 1171] Muldoon and Sharp, Pork Packers and Provision Dealers, 904 B’way.
1885 Sharp, James, Muldoon and Sharp 904 to 912 S 2d, r 2715 Mills. [There are now 7 pork packers listed, only 1 in 1875.]
1887, James C. Sharp is listed as a clerk at Muldoon and Sharp.
1888 is Sharp, James and Co., same address, te no. 2208.
1890 James Sharp and Co. now includes Sharp, James C. as cashier and Sharp,George as Clerk. All 3 at 3641 Finney Ave.
1895 Shows both James Sharp and James C. Sharp as packers, George W. Sharp as Manager and William M. Sharp as Clerk at James Sharp and Co., 904 S 2d. James C. now resides at 4354 Morgan, the other 3 still at 3641 Finney.
1896 and 1897 now show William M. as manager and George W. as supt.; James and James C. simply identifed as with Co.1898 directory is missing.
1899 Company not listed. James C. (same address) is broker; George W. is just listed, at 1811 Laflin; William M. and James are just listed, still living at 3641 Finney.
1900 James C. at Sharp and Westcott; George W., clerk at Manewal Lange Bakery, 3204 Morgan; William M. litho.,at home.
1901 James Sharp now resident at 4573 Page boul; James C. com. mer. 736 Bayard av; George W. still clerk at Manewal- Lange Bakery, resident at 3009 Easton. [William M. not listed]
1902 James C. mngr. Sharp Mnfg Co., 411 Fullerton bldg., r. 736 Bayard av;.George W. and William M. are both clerks, rresiding at 3156 Easton av.
1903 James still at 4573 Page boulevard; James C., ins., 721 Olive, r. 3732 Washington boul.

As you can probably tell from the information above, James put his children to work and included them in the business. James retired at 55 and turned the business over to his boys.  By 1898 they had run the business in the ground, supposedly because of their like for being horsey (horse-racing).

James and Dora had 5 children.

Eudora Mann Sharp born 13 January 1864 and died 11 January 1938, both in St. Louis.  She married Alexander A Bryden, who worked in the coal business.

Ida Lee Sharp born 8 October 1866 and died 23 December 1946, both in St. Louis.  She was unmarried.  She worked as a school teacher.

James Carlisle Sharp born 26 December 1868 in St. Louis and died 4 November 1952 in Valley Park, St. Louis, Missouri.  He married Emma Manewal (and divorced) and Madeline C Grimm. He had a department store.  Emma was the daughter of August Manewal, one of the confederation of bakers who formed the National Biscuit Company (NABISCO).

George W Sharp born 10 March 1871 in St. Louis and died in 1964 in Sand Springs, Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Apparently he married a lady named Effie Olive, but we know nothing more about his life or her.  He was badly disfigured after being kicked in the head by a horse at 3 years old.

William Muldoon Sharp born 4 October 1874 and died 24 March 1915, both in St. Louis.  He also remained unmarried.

Eudora died 3 March 1894 of cerebral meningitis.  She was listed as living at 3641 Finney Avenue.  She was buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery 5 March 1894.

James died at 68 years old on 24 February 1908 at the Bryden residence at 4573 Page Boulevard.  He fell from a Page Avenue car (assuming trolley car) according to his obituary.  He was on his way home from a lodge meeting when he stepped from a car in motion.  He was injured in the fall on the 22nd, not clear how, and died on the 24th.  He was a founder of St. George’s society and served as a treasurer for several year.  He was also a member of the Merchants’ Exchange and a veteran member of the St. Louis Lodge No. 5, I.O.O.F.  He was buried on the 24th, also at Bellefontaine Cemetery.

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?

The big 30, sweepers, and concrete

Yep, I finally made the 30 pounds I wanted to gain after returning from the severe weight loss I suffered in England.  Just Kidding.  After last night’s 12 oz of prime rib, I may be pushing the pre-England weight (which I have never actually reclaimed).  Really though, yesterday was supposedly a momentous occasion.  I lived to the ripe age of thirty.  So what do I have to account for my birthday?  Approximately at 10:08 AM CST I passed the 30 year mark in age.  I passed it at school preparing for legal profession.  I spent 11 hours at school, my wife picked me up, we went to dinner at a steakhouse, and I ate so much I had to come home and go pretty much straight to bed.  Does that sound old or what?

I guess if we count the dozens of Facebook messages and comments, in-person birthday wishes, phone calls, and e-mails I guess it was a pretty good day.  Thanks to Facebook, more people knew about the birthday than I would ever have imagined.  Who would have thought Facebook would have changed our lives so much in a few short years of our existence?  Really though, I am very appreciative of everyone’s sympathetic mourning.  In all honesty, I really don’t feel any older than the day I returned from British soil in December 2000.  The only thing physically I may have to mark any passage of time would be the deterioration of my eyes, which I attribute more to law school than I do to age.  Age to a guy doesn’t really seem to matter.  Unlike women who round it up to the nearest quarter century.  (Kinda like guys losing weight in the mirror where women gain it).  We wear the same clothes were wore ten years ago and think it really is ten years ago, and that we look it.  It really was just another day for me with an excuse to go out to eat something beyond what we really should have paid for.

Moving beyond the birthday, I have a couple of observations to make.  Just some musing and thoughts I can provide, even if not from wisdom.

This deals with more of quirky Oklahoma.  I had to learn some more of the lingo recently and thought I would share.  In church a few weeks back, I was asked to help sweep after classes was done.  I agreed and was assigned to sweep each of the classrooms.  Dutifully, I went to the janitor’s office and got a broom and dustpan thingy.  Each of the classrooms though had carpet!  After trying to sweep up the little chunks in the classrooms I finally just went and got a vacuum and then vacuumed each of the classrooms.  I made a mental note that I needed to inform the Elders Quorum President that the classrooms have carpet and not floors for sweeping.

A week or two later we are serving in the temple and find ourselves on the cleaning crew after the last endowment.  As I go to the janitor’s
office, the lady tells me to sweep the endowment rooms.  I then walk towards the broom with a nagging knowledge that the endowment rooms
have carpet.  I thought, “Wow, these Oklahoman’s sure do things the hard way.”  As I went to leave she asked me what I was doing.  I said,
“I am going to sweep the endowment rooms.”  She then pointed at the vacuums and said, “Why don’t you take a sweeper, it will be a whole lot
easier.”  Suddenly, a light dawned in my aged mind and I said something like, “you mean you call vacuuming ‘sweeping’?”  She nodded with a
puzzled look and told me to go sweep.  As I was sweeping the carpets with the sweeper, I wondered what they called the motion of using a
broom on floors.  Brooming?  Scooting?  Brushing?  Scratching?  I still don’t know.  I was afraid of looking like an idiot to ask anyone.  I
will probably find out soon enough.  “Brother Ross, will you go scoot the floors in the far hall for us?” I will be walking to the janitors
office looking for something to do some scooting.

Our sprinkler system continues to go in between the rain clouds.  For the most part, much of the pipe is in place and most of the heads are on.  In fact, most of the trenches are even filled in.  But the rain keeps coming nearly every weekend and the poor sprinkler system people cannot seem to get it finished.  Need rain?  Put in a sprinkler system.  Kinda like washing the car.  Do it, and the rains come.

I have continued to remove the concrete pad in the backyard.  It has turned out to be a multiple month workout!  Who would have thought a little 8′ X 12′ concrete pad would take 3 months to remove only half?  As lazy as that makes me sound, let me add some flesh to this ‘pad’.  It turns out that this little pad in the backyard has concrete 9 inches thick in places!  Thank goodness the individuals didn’t have access to rebar, but they were kind enough to put a layer or two of fence in the concrete near the bottom.  I purchased a 20 pound sledge hammer thinking I could have the thing done in a week.  This long later, and I am only half done.  I had to buy a spike to break the stuff apart.  I had to pull out my little sledges to drive the spike.  I had to dig around the perimeter of the pad so as I cracked it, it had somewhere to go.  Once I get a crack, I have to take the spike to it and then hope the fence inside will break.  As it slowly severs away, I have to bend it back and forth until the fence wire finally breaks.  Then I heave the block to the side and start again.  This process is painfully slow, exhausting, and in our humidity, draining.

What really justifies my taking so long deals also with the garbage man.  With these massive blocks of concrete, I have considerable weight problems.  The garbage truck will not pick up a garbage can that weights more than roughly 100-125 pounds.  So I can put about 2 cubit yards of concrete in the bottom and I am really pushing the limit.  Any extra garbage on the top just might throw me over.  There is more though.  The garbage truck is like a stinky old man with a hernia though.  If the garbage can is overweight, the driver has to rev up the truck to get the hydralics where they need to be.  Doing this speeds up something inside the truck and the 3 minutes the truck sits on the side of the road trying to pick it up, or get it all the way upside down leaves a huge puddle of garbage ooze compressed from within the truck.  It stinks, looks disgusting, and we pray for more rain.

I have two garbage cans, but in the past month, two of them have been left for me to reallocate half the load to the other garbage can.  Meaning, I lost two weeks in the last month alone where I could not send more concrete to the garbage cemetery.  So my little pile beside the pad has continued to grow, week by week.  I had another can rejected last Tuesday, so again this Tuesday, I cannot add more to the garbage going out.

The sprinkler man decided not to use one of his trenches, so I must confess, it is filling up with concrete chunks.  Anything smaller than about 4 cubit inches usually ends up in the trench now.  When it is within about 3 or 4 inches of the top of the trench, then I fill it in.  The extra dirt will be used to fill the gaping hole where my concrete pad was located.  I am going to have to get a load of dirt in to fill this hole I am creating.  Geez, if it isn’t one thing or another!  Amanda warned me that it was not necessary the concrete pad be removed.  Now I wish I had listened.

 

Great Uncle and Aunts

Who would believe the 25th of February is almost here?  I cannot believe how fast the months fly when you have your head in books.  The odd part is that I don’t feel like I am doing a very good job of keeping up with the reading.  I cannot tell you how excited I am for the next semester where they add one more substantive class and remove the writing class.  What will I do with life then?  I need to start working on being more diligent and proactive.

In visiting with a couple of the 2L’s I feel somewhat comforted with the notion of what is called mental fatigue.  I think my eyes finally just accepted the fact they are going to be tired and quit twitching.  Who knows. the twitch probably just moved to my neck or shoulder with a slight noise from the mouth when I do it.  At any rate, this is not a new phenomenon.  I thought perhaps I was going prematurely old or something wrong with the synapses in my brain where I would think one thing and completely say another.  Just today in visiting, rather than saying doctor, I said dentist.  To correct myself, I went to say doctor but somehow defendant come out.  After a short pause, doctor finally came out.  I laughed, Andrew laughed, and the conversation went on.

This weekend was a delightsome weekend.  My Great Uncle Donald and Aunt Lolane Andra came to visit.  They arrived on Friday and left this morning.  They finished their mission around the 6th of February and have been working their way through the country back home.  They stopped for a week in Nauvoo, then a week in Branson, and a weekend in Oklahoma City.  They are next headed to Tucson.  They will spend a few days there and up to St. George for a month or so before up to Chubbuck/Pocatello.  Don and Lolane are sure a lot of fun.  We went to the Western Heritage Museum here in Oklahoma City.  I enjoyed it.  Like most museums though, my feet and knees grew tired of the walking around endless hours on hard floors.  I will need to go back to truly appreciate much of what was there.  We went out to Pops Soda Shop in Arcadia and enjoyed a meal.  Don and Lolane particularly enjoyed it.  We all did.

Sunday we ventured to church.  They thought the ward was very open and friendly.  I am pleased the ward was so open and friendly to them.  It wasn’t quite so much when we got here.  But it certainly has improved.  Afterward we ran out to the Oklahoma City Temple and walked around the grounds and took some pictures.  After serving in the Washington DC Temple for the past 18 months they were quick to notice how tiny the temple is here.  That most certainly is true!  I assured them it was well used and loved.

We wandered off to the Oklahoma City Memorial.  The weather turned out to be beautiful.  It could have been a little warmer, but it was sure a nice day.  They really enjoyed that as well.  It really is a well-done memorial.  We returned to our little home to enjoy a full meal and many hours of games.  We filled much of our time on Saturday with games as well.  We sang some old songs together, chatted about old times, visited about family, and genuinely had fun.

On a sad note, I also received news that my Great Aunt Lillian Jonas Talbot passed away on Friday.  She was born in 1930 and lived in Layton, Utah.  She was the sister of my Grandpa I knew the least growing up.  She was the one who let me borrow my Great Grandma’s journals to type them up which are available here on the blog.  She was also the one who had my Great Grandma’s photo albums and let me borrow them to pick out the photos and scan them.  So I came to know her considerably more in the past 10 years.  Apparently she had been to the temple on Friday and she came home and sat down in the chair in the living room and was playing with the dog a little.  When my cousin came back from a run to Walmart, she thought she was taking a nap.  But when she came in, she was gone.  How is that for peaceful and quick?  I hope I am as fortunate.  The funeral will be on Wednesday.  I wish I could go but the cost and time from school are too much for the moment.  I wish the family all the best.

Amanda will surely post some photos from the weekend on our joint blog.  It was an eventful and productive weekend.  Now time to start making up what studying I did not get done!

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?

Family History Haunting

Life continues to go well for Amanda and me.  Another week has flown by with little more than a blink.  It is alarming how quickly they seem to be going.  There are a couple of notes to make besides that of school and work.

I received an e-mail this morning letting me know we now have well over a foot of snow at the homestead in Idaho!  How exciting is that?  We are still in the 80’s here.

Amanda and I have organized a Halloween Party on the 25th of October.  We are pretty excited to have a little get together of about 25-30 here at our home.  We are really looking forward to it.  We are even going to get our sewer half of our plumbing done before then so we have our main bathroom’s sink and toilet available.  Baby steps!  Hopefully they won’t look behind the shower curtain to see the missing bathtub and rotten floor.  One of the guys at school has joked about coming as Mom.  It will be the 10th anniversary.

I went to another little auction yesterday up in Guthrie.  If you wouldn’t believe it, I found another couple of steals.  I came home with some Shakespeare volumes (from 1881!) and about 150 other books for $2.50.  Some of the other books included a Hemingway set of 3, a Dickens set of 4, and 1930’s Treasure Island, and other random interesting books.  Looking online, I could make over $100 for my $2.50.  However, most of the volumes I could sell I wanted for my own collection.  We kept about 20.  The other 100+ will be going to the thrift store.  I did find a little hall table for $2.50.  We will have to sand it down and clean it up, but Amanda has already declared she loves it.  I walked away with a bow saw, a water cooler, and other little random things.  It was worth it.  Holt, from school also went, and he picked up some great deals too.

Today was a busy day.  We didn’t set our clocks for getting up so we missed the first 15 minutes of church.  We missed Amanda being sustained on the Enrichment Committee.  We also missed the Sacrament.  I am feeling a bit inactive since we have now missed it for two weeks.  Apostasy setting in!  I made up for it after church.  I went with the missionaries and we tried to find about 15 lost sheep for more than 3 hours.  We were able to locate some good information.  I was happy to report about 15 individuals to the Elder’s Quorum President with address updates for at least 8 of them.  Most of them are not in our ward so they will have to be sent elsewhere.

I haven’t told anyone, but I have been asked to teach some of the family history classes for the new FamilySearch.  My first class was on Friday night.  There were about 50 people there.  I was slightly deceived on what I was teaching.  I thought I was teaching a small number of family history consultants for the Oklahoma City Stake.  Nope.  I was teaching Family History Stake Directors for the entire Oklahoma City Temple District.  There were individuals there from Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  All over the temple district!  The class was apparently such a success they delayed my teaching the second class for a week.  Rather than teaching the second lesson this coming Friday, I am now re-teaching the first lesson with the entire Stake’s Membership invited.  Yikes!!  Meaning, we are setting up the cultural hall for the lessons!!  So much for keeping under the radar for callings in Oklahoma City.  Here I am teaching all who choose to attend from the entire stake.  Not to mention with the temple district’s consultants invited to come back for the second lesson and third lessons.  The funny part was my Bishopric told me they would let me coast a little since I am in law school.  They just wanted me to help with lost sheep and Home Teaching where needed.  Somehow I ended up with a class teaching a stake??  Oddly, it isn’t even a calling, I was just asked to teach the class.  This family history thing is haunting me!  It just won’t leave me alone!

Time to sign off.  I need to read a little bit for my torts class tomorrow.  Yeah for negligence.