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.

Welcome to June. It is already all planned out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ides of July

There is not loads to report for this week.  I have applied for probably nearly 50 jobs online.  I have an interview tomorrow for a position with Combined Insurance.  Who would have thought?  What are the chances? Grandma worked for Combined for 30 years.  I have in essence sold Combined Insurance for 6 months of my life.  That is probably the equivalent that I spent with Grandma out on the road selling insurance.  I sure loved it.  Funny what we remember isn’t it. 
There was a couple of times we went to Soda Springs to sell.  I remember the Caribou Lodge.  It was my first time going over, I must have been about 4-6 years old.  We were in the old 1974 two door Mercury Cougar.  What a car.  As we came down the pass from Lava Hot Springs we hit a pheasant.  The old car took it in the headlight cover.  So when we needed the light, we were Popeye into Soda.  Grandma liked the Red Baron pizza and she promised that she would treat me.  Accordingly, we went and bought one and took it back to the Caribou Lodge.  It was only then we realized that we did not have an oven.  Grandma went down, and knowing the owners well, asked if they would cook it.  They agreed and we ate Red Baron Pizza.  It sure was good.
This was my first time on the road selling with Grandma.  She had taken me several times to other places close like Kimberly, Twin Falls, Wendell, and American Falls. I always felt so loved.  She would buy me clothes and completely dress me for the week.  This week, she bought this little red suit that had zippers over the pockets.  It was a short sleeved shirt with shorts.  She gave me the permission to carry the money if I promised not to lose it.  So I would zip it up in my little pockets and keep it safe all the time.  Made me feel like a million bucks. 
Every morning we would get up and she would make oatmeal out of the packets.  She had a little warmer that you put in the coffee cup and it would boil the water in the cup.  She would pour the water in with the oatmeal and we had the little feast every morning.  She would comb and part my hair with a duck’s tail in the back.  I felt like a little prized doll the way she took care of me.
It was this same week that we stopped at this home to visit some people.  That is one thing I remember, we always had leads.  Grandma never knocked not knowing who lived there.  This house was on a corner or curve in the highway.  I could probably take you there today, even though I was only about 5.  We were sitting in the front room of the home and the people kept commenting on how adorable I was.  Being a little bashful I asked to go in the backyard.  I went out and stood at the back fence watching a baseball game.  Never had seen a baseball game.  I was thrilled, it was warm, slight breeze, and the shining metal baseball bat.  Our visit came to a close and they were begging Grandma in front of me if they could keep me.  She asked me if they could keep me and I remember breaking out in tears. They thought I was so much more adorable.  It would be funny to know who lived there and see if they even remember this.  I very much doubt it.
One of the best parts about being with Grandma and doing this insurance business was that when we set out to drive there, she would give me all the lead cards.  Sometimes there would be up to 200 of them.  It was my job to take a look at the map and figure out where things were.  Then I would go through and organize the lead cards according to street, and then line the streets up to area.  This was a big job coming to towns like Idaho Falls/Rexburg.  I remembered I became quite the pro.  The entire week we came back to the car, I could tell her the house number of the next house, and then would direct her how to get there.  I became a master at map reading and directions.  Even to this day, I can look at a map, get a good feel for where anything is, and I can know how to get where I need to go.  Coming to Richmond, I think Amanda is constantly amazed that I already know where everything is.  I already know the main streets, where they are, and where they go.  Even in church today, changing our ward boundaries, I knew all the roads they talked about.  This has been a great blessing to me.  All thanks to my beloved Grandmother, and Combined Insurance.
It is funny how much we remember.  At least me.  I have noticed that others are not so fortunate.  I remember that same week going to the sulfur mines and Grandma showing me where the Circle A trucks were.  She took me and showed me where my Uncle Doug lived at the time.  (Uncle Doug moved from there about 1987, which means I was definitely younger than 8.  I remember going to Grace, Idaho and Grandma showing me where Evan was raised.  I cannot take you there now, even though I have tried to find it.  Evan and Grandma divorced in 1987 as well.  I remember her taking me to the Minne Tonka caves, Bennington, Georgetown, and even little Niter.  Oddly, driving through Chesterfield a few years ago, it seemed too hauntingly familiar.  I still don’t know if it was from an expedition with Grandma or if it was for family history purposes.  (I did later find family history links)
This weekend we went to Northern Virginia.  Amanda and I have made a commitment to keep President Kimball’s challenge to the Saints that if circumstances permit, members should attend the temple at least once a month.  I have done this ever since I came home from my mission.  I have done it pretty well since I was endowed, except for several months in the mission when missionaries were not allowed to attend the temple.  Accordingly, Amanda and I needed to attend for the month of July and thought now was as good time as any.  We went up Friday night, stayed with Dennis and Gwen Thompson, who I lived with when I worked in Washington, D.C..  We spent the evening, caught up, and planned out Saturday.  Saturday, we went to the temple, dropped Miss Mandy Lundstrom off at the Baltimore Washington International Airport, drove to Annapolis, Maryland; and then crashed back at the Thompson home.  I did 15 initiatory at the temple and Amanda/Mandy both did a session.  We got lost getting there as we talked and passed every single junction for a free way.  Mandy was staying with the Thompson’s.  Oddly, she was the old girlfriend of Brad Hales, my good friend and old roommate.  She was going to ride the train from Springfield clear to BWI with all her luggage. Knowing how horrible that is, how much I hate traveling with luggage, I offered our services.  Plus she got to go to the temple one last time.  Amanda and I then ran to Annapolis to see the historic downtown.  Sadly, we got there 5 minutes after they closed the statehouse.  But we drove around a little longer.  The Maryland Capitol is the longest used Capitol in the U.S..  It has also served at the United States Capitol while the current one was being built.  It was in this very building that General George Washington resigned his commission of the Continental Army.  Wonderful history.  The College of St. John is right by as is the United States Naval Academy.  The town reminds me so much of Britain.  I love it.  I recommend all pay a visit there.  Go to the Capitol when it is open. I did last year and enjoyed it.
Anyhow, we came back to Richmond this morning and got ready and went to church.  They reorganized our ward, but as we did not know anyone, it did not make much difference to us.  At least we don’t have to attend another ward.  It was a good day.  At least we got a new lesson, no more of that adultery lesson we had for the last 3 weeks.