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.

Auctions

Today was the day I wish was every day!  Our neighbors trust had an estate auction.  Several of the guys from law school brought their wives and we made a day of it!  We came out with a boatload of goodies.  All for the price of about $200, a heavy-duty display desk, very antique camel-back trunk, 6 foot oval mirror, 10 foot fiberglass ladder, levels, saws, 10 extendable aluminum ladder, railroad typewriter desk, tool box, drills, crow bars, wrenches, a small bookshelf, and several box loads of junk.  In the lots we purchased, we came out with lanterns, books, serving trays, bread maker, rotisserie, lamps, harmonicas, pipes, gold plated tableware, and plenty more.  After what we got, we still have about 6 boxes to take to the thrift store!

We had lunch here at the house with our buddies.  A couple brought their wives and children.  One couple even purchased a sofa, washer, dryer, hutch, lamps, and more!  Another couple walked away with a sewing machine and its table for $2.50!!  I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

Anyhow, on an interesting note, our neighbor across the street put a old recliner out on the curb.  I mean like a 70’s recliner where the fuzz on the recliner upholstery was worn off.  What is more, it has been sitting out there for a week.  I saw this old man pull up in a little Ford Ranger looking at it.  He looked like he was very interested in it.  I walked over to help him since it appeared he wanted it and was struggling with it.  It was light enough I could pick it up to put it in the back of his truck.  He mentioned that he was a Katrina survivor.  He said the old folks home he lived in down in New Orleans was completely destroyed.  He came up during the storm to stay with family.  Well, they are kicking him out this month after living with them for 3 years.  He said he was getting an apartment and didn’t really have enough left over to furnish it.  Hence why he was looking for reject furniture.  I told him I had a whole bunch of stuff I was going to take to the thrift store he was welcome to.  He came over and picked out salt and pepper shakers, cooking utensils, frying pans, and more for his new home.  I was glad I could help out!  I told him I had a desk he was welcome to if he wanted it.  I showed him the new desk I picked up today and he said he was interested.  Since his truck was full he wanted to know if he could pick it up tomorrow.  He asked what I wanted for it.  I threw out a number that was twice what I paid for it (I paid $15).  He seemed interested and said if he decided on it he would come back tomorrow.  I feel bad for getting twice what it is worth if he does come back.  I think I will just offer it to him for what I got it.  There is a good deed for the day.  I gave a poor old man something more.  Tomorrow I hope I can help furnish his apartment a little more.  Perhaps I will just give it to him.  I don’t think he would agree to that though.  We will see.

Time to close out.  Church comes bright and early (8:30!!).

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!

Visitors in OKC

I have uploaded a couple more pictures to the 2008 album.  The first is of our first visitors to our humble home in Oklahoma City.  Pete and Heather Schultz stopped by on their way to Louisiana.  They could not stop long so we treated them to dinner, a little conversation, and they were on their way.  They were so quickly in and out I don’t believe they even used the restroom.  But hey, they got some of Amanda’s great home cooking.  I hope they travel safely.  They were planning on crashing (not literally) somewhere between Dallas and Houston.  It has been at least 10 years since I last saw Heather.  She graduated two years before me.  Pete looked and seemed familiar to me but I don’t know when I would have met him.  He seemed to remember me as well.  Anyhow, it was great to catch up with them.  I cracked a joke at one point I learned might have been very insensitive.  I really don’t know, I hope not.  It probably will be the last time they come to visit.  Hopefully it is due to location and not my bad humor.

The next three photos are some of my soon-to-be world famous mushrooms.  I have been growing quite the crop of them.  I think we had so much dead matter in the lawn from a very dry summer and then the watering every day for the reseeding helped the crop.  As you can see, some of them were up to about 10 inches across.  I haven’t a clue if they were edible, but I am sure I could have sold them either way.  Good money if they were the magic kind!  In the one picture you can see me pushing my little reel mower.  Yes, I purchased a reel mower brand new!  I have to admit, I believe it is the most novel thing in the neighborhood.  At least a half dozen people have stopped and asked me where I got it.  One guy even wanted to know how it worked.  I explained it and he went on his merry way.  The one neighbor across the street who asked to mow our lawn regularly, commented it would be great for saving gas.  That was one reason I purchased it.  Next, it would be an instrument of exercise.  I also know they are supposed to be much kinder on cutting the grass.  Rather than whipping and ripping the grass, this slices it nicely.  It promotes happy grass!

The last picture is of an intruder in our home.  You will notice by his size, he is more than 3 inches across.  Yep, he is a little Wolf Spider.  Harmless, but enough to make Amanda on pins and needles for weeks.  Spiders are usually friends, not enemies.  Amanda is not so sure.  Therefore the poor little creatures meet an untimely end in our home.  The best part about wolf spiders is they will eat cockroaches.  That argument still doesn’t convince Amanda we should keep them alive, even if I transport them from the home.

Amanda found herself a job.  She starts on Monday.  She will be working at the Dental Depot just a few blocks from our home.  She will be administering anesthesia full time.  The one thing she thought she would never need or use is now her first full time job.  I just hope it isn’t mind numbing work!!

I continue pressing along in school.  I am very much enjoying civil procedure and torts.  Contracts is a bit dry and we haven’t really got into legal writing and analysis.  Apparently it will be a doozy.  I am enjoying Ambulance Recognition and look forward to Ambulance Pursuit next year.

Law School Orientation

The Sprinky post received quite a number of comments.  I appreciate hearing from you.  For those of you who have requested, there is a photo of Sprinky available in motion.  He is in the 2008 album.  If you look closely you can see the water swirling in front of him.

On to other business, it has been a crazy couple of days.  I am starting to get my feet wet in the practice of law.  They are breaking us in quickly with a week of orientation.  They might as well call it, “The Crash Course in Writing Briefs”.  I am sure I have little or no idea what is really in store but I am enjoying it so far.

We have heard from the President of the Oklahoma Bar Association giving us advice.  Justice Yvonne Kauger of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma swore us in.  Our professors have done all they can to get the point across we need to study hard.  I have found 4 other LDS students with whom I have already studied and car-pooled.  Things are looking good.  The comments of one professor already have me thinking in my moments of down time.  He told us that we have to make the decision we are going to pass the bar exam now.  Every decision from this point out will be in conjunction with that decision.  Shall I watch TV or study the law.  Shall I do this or study the law.  Pointing out every indiscretion could keep us from learning and weaken our position of passing the bar.  Wow, for a test more than 3 years down the road, my seconds now will matter?  Looking at it in that light, we have either been preparing or not for the past 20 years haven’t we?

Then again, the scriptures teach us to think like this regularly for the bar exam, the Final Bar.  With a capital F.  Every day, every thought, every action, every desire is making up our constitutions for the final day.  The thought of our little moments now making a big difference later are not new to Saints.  D&C reminds us to labor in what is called today, not for tomorrow.  Alma refers to live as a probationary state.  Even President Monson in his maxims talks of acting today for in living for tomorrow we end up with a bunch of empty yesterdays.

I head back to my studying.  Just this night, I have learned TB centers are considered nuisances in close proximity to others.  Undertakes as well.  Cemeteries and mausoleums are not.  Slaughterhouses are not.  Who knows what the next case will teach me.  Obviously we are learning about nuisances and the legal rules applying.  This is just a class to teach us how to read cases and brief them, this isn’t even a real class yet!  However, the most hilarious line tonight was about how the people wanting a mausoleum don’t have the grounds to sue.  Obviously, if they had the grounds, they wouldn’t want a mausoleum!  I went back and reread the statement and saw I read it wrong, but dang it was funny at the moment.

You want to know what is even more sad?  I have been doing some genealogical research on a couple of lines in Washington.  All the cases I referenced are from the State of Washington.  This mausoleum is from Tacoma, Washington and the case is in 1920.  My first thought was, “I wonder if there are any Andress’, Jonas’, or Carpenter’s in this Mausoleum?”  The slaughterhouse case was from south of Colville, Washington.  Colville just happens to be the town where I have several individuals who disappear and I cannot find where or what happened to them.  Not to say the slaughterhouse is my answer, but I have personally been to all these locations in the past 6 months!  Perhaps that is what is making the first few days so interesting.

It’s Sprinky, such a wonderful toy!

I have uploaded about a dozen new Jonas photographs.  They are from the cousins in Washington State.  They have been sitting in my e-mail for months now and I finally pulled them out, cataloged them, and posted them!  I still have not named the rest of the European Trip photos.

I have to mention my new toy.  Yesterday at Ace Hardware, my favorite place in Oklahoma City, I was looking at sprinklers.  I was going to reseed some of the front and side lawns and knew I would need a good sprinkler.  I don’t know what overcame me, I just had to!

All those lawns I sprayed, I saw this certain type of sprinkler.  I always thought they were really cool and wanted one.  Additionally, if I ever had a sprinkler catch my hose or have problems, it was typically this same sprinkler.  It was a love/hate relationship.  My Grandma had one until she got a sprinkler system.  He is one of those fancy little sprinklers that look like a miniature tractor.  Their front wheel goes over the hose and the hose is a track for the sprinkler to follow.  Then the water going through the sprinkler turn the little transmission so that the wheels propel it forward and it also pulls its hose behind it.  They have been around since the early 60’s and I think they are ingenious!  With the new lawn, I would have to keep it moist for the seed to germinate and I didn’t want to keep moving the sprinkler.  I broke down and purchased it.

Upon returning home, I announced my new purchase.  As I was a bit sheepish about the whole thing Amanda asked how much he cost.  She then emphasized the point we will have to go without food for an entire week to pay for my indulgence.  In the process of our laughter, I slipped and called it a sprinky instead of a sprinkler.  Well, that is his new name.  Every time I see him wandering the yard doing his job, I laugh and think of his name.  Yep, if only purchasing a car these days brought about the same passion.  Sprinky might as well be my pet.  Since he is a bit more expensive and novel, Ace warned me about this, he tends to walk off.  Therefore, with great pride, at the end of his watering day, I unhook him and put him in the garage on the bench, right next to the pickup.  I am retaining some of those itty bitty farming roots; parking my tractor in the shed at night!  Perhaps one day I will even pull out some wax for him…

As I crawled out of the crawl space, I saw him sitting there waiting patiently.  I had to turn him off to enter the crawl space.  The song came for the Slinky commercials.  “It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s such a wonderful toy…”  Well change the name to Sprinky and it works perfectly.  Now as I wander my little piece of ground, I either sing the Slinky song or the portion of “Give Said the Little Stream” where it might apply to some small part, “I’m small I know but wherever I go, The grass grows greener still.”  The first would be about him, the second would be his theme song.  (I am laughing so hard I am crying!  This is hilarious!)

On a more somber note, I have inspected the underbelly of my home.  The ruling has been pronounced.  The plumbing has to be replaced.  One bathroom has to completely be avoided because any flow of water in the bathroom creates a flow under the home.  Additionally, I have two floor joists that have twisted off their piers and a structural/foundation company has to come in and place a joist beside them to lift the home back up.  Just happens to be, those two joists are beneath the other bathroom, utility closet, and hot water heater.  All the plumbing there has to be moved to allow for the floor joists.  Besides, what is present is a patchwork of 70 years of plumbing.  I would do it myself but I have lead sewer pipes, copper running pipes, PVC for the main bathroom, and this hosing stuff for the utility closet.  With such a mess and having to move it, might as well rip it out and start over.  What is even worse, I have pipes still connected to other pipes that are so corroded they are sawed off, but still connected to water pressure!  Did I mention our cold and hot water to the washer leaks so bad the pipe looks like a rust pillar?

The next pronouncement is more happy.  The termite damage as a whole can be confined to two parallel boards in the subfloor of the home.  My impression was I had whole floor joists that were missing from termites.  Not true!  I have termite damage in the subfloor, very little in the hard wood floors, and in the 2X4’s at the base of the NW and SE corners of the home.  We will start a termite treatment and all should be well.  While I do have sagging in the NW corner of the home it is not from termites.  So when I have the floor joists fixed, they will also jack up the NW corner of the home and we will be good to go.  The sagging that was experienced in the home is from poor construction, not termites.  Initially there were 20 foot expanses of floor with only a 2X6.  No wonder the rooms were all sagging!  As part of the closing, those sagging floors were fixed.  Why the twisted beams were not corrected, as per the contract, will be discussed with the owner of the company this coming Monday.  I do have another company coming in to give us a bid for the remainder of the work, as well as plumbers for the plumbing.  All in all, our little home’s underbelly should be good to go after about $5,000.  That hurts, I don’t like it, but it has to be done.

The part that will hurt the worst is the home was redecorated with the sagging foundation and floors.  Jacking up those two parts of the home will definitely show some cracking and need fixed, as will replacing our plumbing in the walls.  Those expenses I can fix and pay for later.  I am sure the tile floor in the bathroom will need serious fixing as well as the new shower and sink in that bathroom.

Anyhow, enough of our home woes.  This home will be set for the millennium when I am done with it.  Now, like waiting for water to boil, just waiting for that grass to grow with Sprinky’s tender care.

Packing it into the nest

I uploaded another 340 photos for those who are interested.  They cover the remainder of the time we were in England.  They start about Harlech, Wales through London.  I have not named them yet, nor the ones from the last batch.  I will be sure to let you know when I finally do.  Which really means, you shouldn’t look at them until I have them all named!

Another day in paradise.  We keep plugging along.  We finally gathered all our possessions from rented space into the nest today.  At least we have the account closed with U-haul storage now.  They seem like good people.

Our washer was delivered today.  Our large purchases from Lowe’s are now complete.  Frigidaire has reaped some income from our purchase of a refrigerator, washer, and dryer.  (I also learned yesterday I have spelled refrigerator incorrectly all these years.  I spelled it refridgerator.  Darn English language.)  Interestingly, the man who delivered the blessed washer asked where in Utah I was from.  He deducted it from my 801 cell phone number.  I confessed my wife was from Kaysville and he admitted he grew up in Layton.  Small world.  I found out he is now an ordained minister whose sermons go over the trucker radios.  I wouldn’t have thought of a ministry over the radio, but all the best to him.  I found out he wasn’t allowed to attend LDS services growing up, and then did when he could.  He joined the church and then his mother moved to Oklahoma.  He had some questions that he apparently asked the Bishop and the Bishop couldn’t answer them.  I don’t know if he didn’t want to hear the answers or if the Bishop just wouldn’t or didn’t take the time.  He gave me the three main questions and his e-mail address.  I have dropped him an e-mail to confirm the address and then have to start putting together the answers befitting his situation.  Here they are in a nutshell.  If you would like to write with suggestions on how to respond, I would appreciate it.

The end of the new testament states, ‘The End of the Prophets’.  If it is the end, why do we have Joseph Smith or any others afterward?  A typical evangelical question posed.  I will have to establish what a prophet is, what prophecy is, and that even the Savior himself was a prophet.  Then we can build from there.  Certainly cannot forget Revelations stating that to have a testimony of Jesus is to have the spirit of prophecy.

The second question dealt with the old testament stating there was no God before, and no God afterward.  If we believe that, how can we believe in a separate Godhead and other ‘Gods’?  This one is a bit more tricky to build common ground.  I will have to revisit and do homework.  This is another common protestant question designed to create doubt.

Lastly, the question probably most difficult, and one I may not answer as I intend to go in order and discuss them slowly.  For the doctrines really don’t make it clear and it is one of those areas of gray.  I have my thoughts lined out but they are mine and not really to be shared.  Besides, I cannot back them up with doctrine and I don’t think he is interested in statements of latter day prophets.  But, once we become God in our little world elsewhere, is it given to us, or do we create it.  Next, what do we do once we have our own world or universe?

Coming back down to earth.  We found a dead mouse behind some drawers.  Amanda was not happy.  I just laughed.  After all, being a country boy you might as well say I grew up with mice.  But we did work out a deal.  I remove the mice, dead or alive, and she changes the diapers.  I don’t like diapers, she doesn’t like mice.  Boy, am I glad we got that worked out!