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?

Laundry list of escapades and visits

Amanda and I just returned from a 4 day visit to Utah/Idaho.  It was like a breath of fresh air into my life.  It was just what I needed.  Sorry it has taken so long, but here is some of what we did.

We arrived at Norfolk, Virginia airport at 6:00 in the morning to fly out for Salt Lake.  I am seriously considering if it was worth the $150 we saved to have two layovers.  I thought I would die from the trip.  We flew from Norfolk to Detroit, Michigan, then to Minneapolis, Minnesota on to Salt Lake City, Utah.  I think on each flight I became motion sick.  The layover would cause the sickness to subside and then we took off again.  It was a form of torture.  By the time I arrived in SLC I felt sick, weak, and irritable.  We went to bed pretty early to combat jet lag and my feeling sick.

Friday dawned bright and early.  I was up well before everyone else and was ready for the day before 7 AM even thought of rolling around.  We had crepes for breakfast.  The Hemsley family had a new crepe maker and it turned out to be a great purchase.  They were good.  I always liked the feeling of biting into a warm crepe with cold ice cream oozing between your teeth.  We found our way to Salt Lake again to pick up Bryan and attend the Salt Lake Temple.  I was really not feeling well and I ended up with a pair of pants that were far too tight.  I am glad I switched them out.  I am sure I would have passed out if I had kept them and not switched them for a larger waist size.  The session went well and Sherise, Amanda’s cousin, was beautiful.

After the endowment session Amanda and I split up.  Brad picked me up and we headed north for an evening of visiting and fellowship.  I changed at the Hemsley house and went on our way.  Our first stop was Lillian Talbot.  Lillian is my mother’s father’s sister.  I returned the three journals I typed up from 1961, 1962, and 1963.  I was glad to return them.  We visited for a few moments and went on our way.  The next stop was to Lona Jonas.  She is the sister in law to Lillian who we had just left.  We had a good visit with her.  She told us about her operation on her forehead and eye which came from a piece of glass working its way to the surface after 55 years!  Our next step took us closer to the Wasatch Mountains with a visit to Jennie Britzman.  She is my father’s mother’s mother’s daughter’s daughter (1st cousin to my Grandma Ross).  We had an interesting visit.  I discovered she had another husband I never knew about!  Brad turned out to be very interested in learning about Jennie.  He asked all the right questions and so I learned some family history things I hope I have not missed often in other family members.  How in the world did I ever not ask or find out she had another husband?  Brad really found her story fascinating and we enjoyed ourselves with a good laugh.  It doesn’t seem that she is 90 years old.  Her son Richard came home while we were there and we had a good visit with him as well.

We wound up the conversation and made our way to downtown Ogden to visit Mary Coley.  Her relationship to me is two fold.  She was married to my mother’s father’s brother, Irwin Jonas.  He was killed in WWII and she went on to marry Arthur Coley, Irwin’s Uncle.  It was an interesting story.  I knew that I did not have her parents in my family history so I had some questions to pose.  She answered them all with amazing clearness despite her being 89 years old.  She grew up in Minnesota and met Irwin while he was in training for the military there.  They were married and he went off to the war effort.  He wanted her home in Richmond, Utah when he came back so she moved out there.  She lived with Great Grandma Lillian Jonas (Lillian’s mother, Lona’s mother in law, Irwin’s mother).  It was there she lived when Irwin was killed.  At dinner with my Great Great Grandmother, Martha Coley, Art (Arthur) walked in one evening and asked where they had dragged up Mary.  They were married shortly after.  Anyhow, she does not remember her parents but was able to tell me their names.  Her mother died when she was very young and she was raised by a foster family.  She also gave me the names of her foster parents.  So I have some research to do but have Mary’s lineage.  She also told us of her conversion story to the church.  That was very interesting as well.

We made our way to the home of Dave and Betty Donaldson after Aunt Mary.  Dave is my Grandma Ross’ brother.  We originally were going to stop at Grandpa’s but there was a man in a ten gallon hat sitting in his living room that we could see from the road.  So we decided to come back.  It wasn’t far since Dave and Betty live next door.  We had a good little visit with Dave and Betty.  Dave just had his knee replaced in the past few months.  He feels more confident and strong in his new knee than he does his other.  Plans are to replace the other probably this fall.  After all, we would not want to miss a perfectly good summer or fishing laid up in bed at home.  Next we found Abe and Caroline Gallegos home.  Caroline, my Dad’s sister, had just stepped out of the shower.  We visited with Abe for a while and Caroline emerged.  We talked about her new found love of family history, viewed photos.  Meanwhile Brad visited with Abe.

The night was running out and we had to be in our best shape for the long haul Saturday.  After the Gallegos home Brad dropped me off at the Hemsley residence and went to stay with our old roommate, Mark Morris, in Salt Lake.

Friday turned out to be a long night.  I had not recovered from whatever it was I had.  I wanted to blame it on the flight, but the usual suspect of a cold sore (which I always get after flying) showed up before I left Richmond.  I felt sick enough Friday evening Bryan made a run to the store for some Pepto Dismal (the correct spelling).  It is the first time I remember in my life having PB and it sure seems to have done the trick.  I awoke up at 1 AM in emergency situations.  I went on to vacate my entire system of any remnants of food.  I panicked after tossing the perfectly good hamburger in the toilet when it came up  all red and pink.  My brain kicked in to tell me it was only the evidence of PB.  Before the night was finished, it felt I had puked every thought of food I had entertained for the past week.  The rest of the system went on to winterize itself.  By the time I went back to bed at 3 after a shower and a cleaning of the throne I was feeling much better about life.  That constant sickness from the flight was gone.

Saturday dawned bright and early.  We were headed off to Salt Lake City for the sealing ceremony.  We were parked found our way through the temple maze for the sealing party and visited with friends and family for a while.  Before long we were ushered up to a sealing room and we waited for the happy couple and sealer to appear.  Travis and Sherise made their way in followed by Elder Bednar.  It was your typical sealing except Elder Bednar gave some very direct advice before the sealing.  Usually it tends to be a rather superfluous group of niceties which are showered on the couple.  He gave the couple, and for those listening in the party, a direct sermon on several topics I don’t think this is the place to disclose.  I do remember coming out of the ceremony thinking, “I wish they would teach that in General Conference.”

We waited outside in the beautiful spring weather for the couple to appear for photos.  I made a few quick expeditions around temple square and even looking at deconstruction and construction sites bordering temple square.  The flowers and grass didn’t look real.  (They were as testing went on to prove)  The couple made their appearance, we spent the next 45 minutes under the loose commands of a photographer and I made my escape.

Brad appeared and we made a quick venture to the Church Museum to see the exhibit on the Tabernacle.  We trekked northward changing clothes at the Hemsley’s and pressing on to Cache Valley.

Our first stop upon arriving at in that blessed valley was in the city of Nibley.  We stopped to visit Larry and Margo Anhder but they decided not to be home.  We visited with Cynthia Farnsworth around the corner who Brad worked with at the city of Nibley.  It was a good visit.

We left Nibley and headed into Logan to visit Sunshine Terrace.  During school Brad and I used to go down and visit all the old luvs who were there.  Brad only had one of hers still living, Thelma Freeman who is now over the 104 mark.  She remembered Brad very well and even asked if he was off to spray lawns in Malad.  It was a good visit with her.  Even thought she is pretty well death and blind, she remembered quite a bit.  She began to give Brad a rundown on all her grandchildren and I excused myself to go see if anyone I used to regularly visit was still alive.  Nope, they were all gone.  Even Eula Waldron who I thought would live for a good while longer had passed away last fall.  Harriet Elison had passed away last summer.  Apparently right after my last visit she passed.  I felt kinda bad knowing every single person I used to visit while at USU was now dead.  Good for them I suppose.  I decided not to start up any new friendships with an old luv as I didn’t know the next time I would be around to visit.  I went back to listen to Brad and Thelma talk about how she wasn’t going to die until Brad was married.  She openly admitted she wants to die but the Lord just doesn’t seem to want her yet, or perhaps it was because Brad wasn’t married yet….

We left and wandered our way around Utah State University.  Fascinating how quickly things can change.  The new library is completed and we wandered its corridors.  Don’t know if I think it was designed very well, but it was certainly interesting.  The Merrill Library was gone with only the stark increase in the size of the Quad to mark its passing.  We paid a visit to Dentist Office #6 to visit with Matt Geddes and Lucas Garcia for a good while.  Justin Siebenhaar also showed up and we were able to visit with him too.  We did not remain long before we headed out.

Ellis and Geri Jonas we found in their van.  Brad and I did not figure out if they were coming and going.  They said they were waiting for someone (who did not appear while we were there) and yet talked about dinner (so were they coming or going?).  It was good to visit with them for a while.  They gave us the scoop on Ron in Afghanistan, BJ in the hospital, Amie a new house, Jennie a nice guy who she might marry, Ryan and his wife, Julie with her leg, Dan and his job, and the whole story that went with the family.  Geri is just so funny in how she tells it.  Brad and I got a good kick out of it.  Ellis seemed to be more with it than I remember him for the past 5 years.  He has thinned down quite a bit which the Dr.’s wanted him to do anyway.

Allen, Marie, Kade, and Kallie Lundgreen were where we spent our next hour.  Richmond, Utah seems like time is treating it well.  Marie told us the entire latest saga for the city.  The city is publishing a new history but nobody seems to like the author except a few who like to stir up trouble in town.  There is a story unfolding about public records from the old North Cache High School that was torn down which now want to be taken back probably only to be destroyed or lost.  We talked about some history and the story inevitably moved towards Mom.  The best part, I offered Marie a Eureka vacuum cleaner from the 1950’s that I have been lugging around for over a year.  I finally remembered to take it, had it where I could take it, and remembered to give it.  All in all, we enjoyed the reunion and laughs.  It was if I had never left.  Brad sure got a kick out of it.  He thinks we are all crazy.

Next we enjoyed the new highway in Southern Idaho from the Utah border to Preston.  How nice.  So totally cruisable now.  We stopped at the home of Larry and Barbara Andra to visit.  They were not home.  Brad and I took a good look and tour of the new facilities Larry has set up and his new ride in delivering lawn spraying services.  Those new guys have it good!  He has a brand new truck with a new trailer and two 500 gallon tanks.  He appears serious about this whole lawn spraying business!

It was as we climbed into the car we realized we really needed to get moving in order to make it to Blackfoot in time to even catch the last 30 minutes of the reception.  We did a little speeding up the old highway past Winder, Banida, Red Rock, Downey, and Virginia.  We had some good conversation.  We decided we both really like Inkom and could live there some day.  We rounded through Pocatello and made our way to Blackfoot in good time.  We arrived 15 minutes before the reception was scheduled to end.  We went through the line, did our hugs, ate some cake, and enjoyed the family meal in the kitchen.  It was the close of a good day.  We started with Travis and Sherise and ended with them too (not to mention frog eye salad!!!).

After the reception, we watched the fireworks and the send off.  I have to admit, I can’t stand some of the cheesy traditions that accompany marriages and receptions.  I am glad Amanda and I left most of them out.  We loaded up some food for the road and made the way across Southern Idaho to Kasota.  On the way Brad read some really good articles from the latest Summit Magazine from Brigham Young University – Idaho.  We both decided that if we were going to school this fall out of high school, we would both choose YofI.

Sunday morning dawned far too early for us.  We arose, had some wonderful country biscuits and gravy and headed to church.  Church was quite enjoyable.  I really enjoyed the completely humble tone in which the meetings took place.  Elder’s Quorum’s lesson was on Testimony by President Kimball.  Every single person shared some thought and all, except one, did it in a completely humble tone and perspective.  I was not only impressed by the tone of those who participated but the fact that all participated.  It was not even encouraged by the teacher.  I don’t ever remember becoming emotional in Elder’s Quorum as it is usually the least spiritual of all the church meetings.  Sunday school was by Sister Crane and she did well.  Ted was totally shocked when he sat with his family to find us sitting with them.  Sacrament was Fast & Testimony Meeting.  I really quite enjoyed it.  President Merrill bore his testimony and I very much enjoyed it.  President King also bore his testimony which was powerful.  I followed President King which was a bit intimidating.

After church we made a quick trip home before making our rounds for the day.  The first stop of the day was at Sergene Jensen’s in Heyburn.  This was Brad’s first meeting of Sergene and he commented that he could definitely tell she was an Andra.  It was the first time I have seen her in probably 5 years.  We had a good visit while there.  Brad talked golf with Neil from Filer while I fixed Sergene’s computer, her cell phone, and chatted about her son Andy.  She had a pacemaker put in last December which was a surprise to me.  But she thinks it was a worthwhile investment as it has drastically improved her golf swing.  Neil says he wants one now.  It was a good visit.

We went to visit my Aunt Jackie afterwards.  We found Willie, Jackie, and Jesse all home for the day.  Willie was just leaving for work but it was a good visit.  I visited with Jackie for a good while.  Brad wasn’t feeling well so he went and took a nap in the car.  We discussed a variety of things, none of which are worth mentioning here.  Pretty much it boils down to she seems like a lost soul who isn’t willing to make the changes necessary to get her life back in order.

We went to visit a friend of Brad’s, Eli Hansen but he was not home.  We did visit with Eli’s mother, Teri for a few minutes.  We then attempted to pay a visit to Scott and Chris Horsley, but they too were not home.  We stopped to visit Brad’s great Aunt Ora Barlow.  We had a good little visit with her.  I guess before she married Woodrow (Woody) she was married to a Jones.  Her son Lenny popped in and visited with us while we were there too.  It was interesting to hear some of the dynamics of another family.

We attempted another visit to the Horsley home without success and we headed to visit the Orton family.  Kevin, Megan, Ryan, and Kegan were all there.  I wanted to visit with them but had to so I could get a picture with Ryan and Flat Stanley.  As you are aware, I helped with his Flat Stanley project (FS has his own album!).  So chatted about Tran-Systems, Circle A, Ag Express, Washington DC, life in general, the positioning of the stars in the cosmos, and other various lowly conversations.  The actual camera for the photo was at Kevin’s parents so we made the trip to Paul for that.  Brad and I did a quick driving tour of Paul to see what changes have been made.  It is still there, I can verify that.  They are also getting a new city park across from the Stake Center and Harpers are finally subdividing the property next to the Stake Center.  Paul, Idaho is on the boom!

Brad wanted to nap some more so I left him in the car to snooze.  I went in and had even more interesting conversations.  We discussed the lifestyle of the polygamist fundamentalists in Utah.  Wow, I never knew all the ways you could cheat the United States Government!  But the polygamists have it worked out to a ‘T”.  Kevin’s mother became a polygamist and they are sure she is dead but will not report it so they can continue to collect the Social Security Checks.  They mooch the system from the crib to death.  If I didn’t believe in honesty I might be tempted to do the same.  The conversation with Dennis and Derith Orton turned to other subjects until I received a phone call from my Dad wanted to know if I was still planning on dinner.  Yep, the time had arrived and I did not even notice it.  I had to end the conversations rather abruptly and made my way home.

Dad usually is very relaxed about food and eating times but I found out Andra was the instigator.  She was all in an uproar for some reason and wanted to get out of there.  She gave us some reason with Brian needing her somewhere but we could tell it was a lie.  She left in a huff without saying anything for a good bye or even hello.  In addition, she left the present that was intended for her.  I am amazed at how easily people can treat their own family badly and think it is okay.  Perhaps those who are closest to us we can just expect they will understand and we can be as selfish as we want.  That was the extent of any real time with my sister.

Dinner turned out to be very good.  Dad made the t-bone steaks in his usual fashion with the barbeque grill and sugar cure.  It was very good.  Made me wish we could afford a bit more meat to eat on the grill in Virginia.  We had baked potatoes, steaks, salad and plenty more.  It was good to sit down and eat a meal with Dad, Andra who ate only a little bit very quickly, Brad, and Jan.  We talked health, Idaho, family, and a variety of issues.  It was good quality time with the family.  Brad finally decided it was time for him to crash.  He asked for a blessing which we gave him and he crashed despite the fact it was only 8:30 p.m.  I visited with Dad and Jan a little longer before I borrowed Dad’s truck and went to pay a visit to the Tateoka Family.

I roamed up to the top of the hill at Kasota and visited with Ted and Becca.  We lounged around for a while as I told them about the events so far during the weekend.  Ted was quite fascinated with the advice given by Elder Bednar and took the opportunity to pat himself on the back some.  We had a good laugh.  He went with me for a drive to AgExpress (I want to call it Circle A) and we filled up Dad’s pickup for him.  We talked about life in general.  He told me about his struggles in the Bishopric and some of the cases that are before him.  I can sympathize and honestly hope I never serve in that type of capacity.  It sounds like a nightmare in many ways.  I know there are many blessings that come, and Ted openly admits those.  We talked about marriage, women, work, and several other topics.  In the end, he had to be home at a descent hour.  I dropped him off and went home.

Monday again dawned far too bright and early.  Brad arose and was feeling much better after about 11 hours of sleep.  We got ready, loaded the car, said our good byes, and headed out.  Ted wanted us to stop by for breakfast.  We found him at his parent’s place and we had a great breakfast of ham, eggs, toast, and plenty more.  We were stuffed.  We spent some time talking before Ted had to go back to work on the farm.

We went to visit Dustin McClellan at his home.  We found him in the work shop and we took a good look at the Old Dodge.  She was covered in dust and bird droppings but still looked good.  Dustin says he is going to clean her up and get her going again now that spring is here.  Plus he has just finished doing his spring field work and had a week before his next phase.  We visited for a while in his house and we looked around to see what he has done differently.  Next, we stopped by AgExpress and visited with Dad and he introduced me to most of the people in the office.  I knew Michelle and remember Sean.  We said our good bye’s and headed off to Paul and Kathy Duncan’s.

Kathy had forgotten we were coming and we found her in her pajamas still cleaning up after the weekend.  She quickly changed and we visited for a good hour.  She insisted we eat lunch with her and started making food.  Brad and I thought we would both pop if we ate more after a big breakfast.  It turned out to be really good barbeque chicken, salad, and cheesy potatoes.  Brad really liked the desert.  Paul came home and ate with us and we had a good visit about farming, the dairy, and life in general.  Their whole family is doing well and things are good.

We had to get moving once again and we took the old highway 30 out to the Raft River exit.  We took the freeway and got off to head out towards Rockland.  It was a beautiful drive with the stormy clouds, the scenic valley, and the crepuscular drama.  We paid a visit to Leo and Rhea Udy a few miles of Rockland approaching Roy.  It was a really good visit.  I quite enjoyed our conversation.  They have served several church missions.  Two or three of them in helping with engineering projects in the building of temples.  One was with Nauvoo and I think there was one or two more.  They also served in Adam-Ondi-Ahman.  They have known Jack and Janet Duncan since their days in Oregon.  It was also interesting to learn about the Udy history.  This was even more true in light of the Udy Lawn Spraying business my Uncle Larry has.  Rhea is Brad’s great aunt.  We spent our time there and needed to head out in order to be able to pay a visit to Grandpa and make it to Kaysville in time for a party there.

We left the Udy home and took the drive to Malad, Idaho.  We took some time to stop at Twin Springs and a quick drive through Holbrook.  It seemed strange to us to be able to drive through a town literally in the middle of nowhere and know many of the people who live in the homes and much history of the area.  We crossed the pass into Pleasantview and talked about our crazy day recording cemetery tombstone names in Samaria.  We finally arrived in Malad and took a look at all the lots that I am thinking of buying there.  We took some pictures with the phone and left just as the rain was starting to come down again.

We caught I-15 south and got off to drop back into Plain City.  We stopped by Uncle Dave’s again to drop the picture off we neglected to do the first time.  That is another long story, but I have been trying to get that photo back to its owner for a good two years now.  One person takes it, can’t deliver it, and it keeps coming back to me.  At one point, so I would not forget it, I placed it on a desk in Provo so I would always see it.  The weekend I went to take it back I forgot it because Brad, of all people, hid it because he didn’t like it sitting out.  Anyhow, I hope it is the final step to finding its way back to Ed Telford.

We stopped and had a good visit with Grandpa.  He seemed a bit down from the latest waves of death in his circle of friends.  It was still fun to see him and spend some time with him.  In the end he didn’t seem like he wanted to talk much so we said our good byes and headed out.  We made our last stop at the Olive Garden in Layton in order to meet the Hemsley family.  Brad and I discussed our weekend and figured out we really quite enjoyed ourselves.  To top it off, we figured out we had reconnected, visited with, and spent time with at least 43 people since Friday morning together.  That seemed like quite the group of people.  We felt content in our activities.  I came back with 4 pages of family history notes.  Brad was able to see family he had not seen in about 2-8 years.  Best of all, we just enjoyed the company and the sites of Idaho/Utah.

It was Scott Hemsley’s birthday and we ate out at Olive Garden to celebrate the event.  Derek did not join us but it was a good dinner and we had some good laughs.  They are a good family.  I am happy to claim them as family and to have ties with them.  We went back to their home (Brad left for Provo and did not eat with us) and watched The Terminal with Tom Hanks.  It seemed highly fitting since we would again be spending a whole day in traveling by plane.  Amanda’s grandparents came over and we visited with them some.  Finally we crashed since we had to leave at 5 a.m. and felt we needed the rest.

The flights went okay.  I don’t like riding in the very back because sometimes you feel every bit of turbulence.  I think I regained my motion sickness every time we were on descent to the airport.  The winds and tossing just doesn’t do much for my stomach.  The last flight put me under and heater vent or something that blew warm air on me the entire flight.  So I turned on my cold air nozzle to high and suffered with the torments of hot and cold air blowing on me.

We arrived at Norfolk, kissed the ground and went to the Odom home in Newport News.  They fed us some Chinese (which was very nice of them!) and we went home.

There is the end of the narrative of the trip to Utah and Idaho.  I know it became a bit of a laundry list of things we did.  But I did not want to write it by hand in my journal and I type so quickly.  Plus I know some of you would be interested.  So viola, there you go!

Old Journals

Time has been flying by lately and I have been thinking or watching for something to write about.  It seems that some of it is so common knowledge, I wouldn’t dare post it here.  I still find so much of the ordinary as little miracles.  It seems so mundane that I would not want to bore the reader (which I have already started).
Then there are the little things that keep happening around us.  Anna Nicole Smith died.  The Colts won the Superbowl.  The Presidential contenders already starting.  Snow in New York.  Storms in Florida.  Sabateurs and terrorists in Baghdad are to be strangled.  Pelosi wants a plane.  Debate over whether the holocaust happened.
In the little world of Paul, everything marches to a different tone.  I suppose I just don’t see the world the same as others.  In fact, I seem to have the complete opposite of ideas about everything.  Since there always seems to be such a stark contrast, I don’t bother writing it.  Perhaps it is the fear of sarcasm.  Probably more of looking the fool.
For a note of news.  I received my journals in the mail this week.  The journals that were taken as evidence in my mother’s murder trial.  They were taken for what reasons I don’t think I will ever really know.  So, it has been since before 25 October 1998 that I last saw these journals.  Opening them, I feel like I am opening an old book from the 60′s.  Indeed, they smell like my Great Grandma Jonas’ journals.  (Which I am half through her last one)
Wow, I caught a glimpse into the mindset of a boy who turned 18 in the first book.  I found a boy who was getting ready for his first big move.  The first move from home.  The first move from family.  I was dying to get out and petrified at the same time.
I read of my wonderful, amazing, loving roommates.  They are still my dearest friends even today.  We communicate less, but I love them dearly.  I see into the mind of a boy who was very innocent and pure.  I feel the emotions of a boy who is disowned by his mother.  Stressed and devastated by the divorce of his parents.  Enthusiastic and zealous in learning a new religion.  Eager and a little too anxious after the girls.  There is the life of a young man whose stupidity is embarrassing.  In the same pages I am astonished by the insights of a boy who I would aspire to be.  Some of the mundane details are frightening that are noticed.  Yet, as dates come and go, I wonder why some of the most important events of life were not recorded.
I honestly see this person as so far away, foreign, and alien.  Yet I feel, somehow, the deepest intimations of the words.  Even the placing and style of the words on the page are familiar.  It scares me.  I laughed, I cried, and my heart swelled.  It was interesting to read the entries of others.  Some personally placed, others who were dictated to for the daily entry.  I read of the littlest events that were huge and read nothing of some of the largest.
Horrifying was to try and decipher what the investigators placed a marker for.  Some of the notes were damning to my father.  Sadly, some very important details and rumors which put him in a very bad light.  Perhaps I forgot them, perhaps I repressed them, perhaps time drifted them with time.  Other notes were of terrible destructiveness to my mother.  I record outlines of conversations with her on the phone which make me shutter in memory.
There were some events which were so extreme I could not seem to comprehend them now.  How after one conversation, I literally wept for hours.  My roommates horrified knew the details of what was taking place.  My heart broke into a million pieces.  My whole life crashed in one night.  It was with detail I emerged from that room to find my roommates sobbing as well.  They did not know what to do.  I sat at the piano and started to play.  James sat by me and told me he loved me.  I started sobbing and went to hide in my bedroom again.  He grabbed me and hugged me in the hall.  There I stood, embraced by James, bawling.  Within seconds I felt another embrace, and another.  Altan, Tom, James all held me tight.  We cried together that night.  They were my dearest friends and my world at that moment.  We all sat down afterwards and read the scriptures.  The Spirit manifest at that point was something I will never forget.  The love that enveloped us.
I describe my love for Kyla, Jennalyn, Amanda, Trisha, and a whole score of girls.  I talk of my heros and greatest examples.  Duncan, Tateoka, Christiansen, and Jentzsch families.  I had my first personal visit with my Grandparents and came to know them.  It was the first time I came to know my Grandma in a new light.  My life was beginning to be flooded with light despite the deep darkness hovering in all the pages.
It was a spiritual experience to read these pages.  They don’t even seem real to me.  Only hours later did my heart swell as wide as eternity in happiness and joy that I was this person.  I inspired myself.  Yet at the same time, realized what I had lost.  I have lost too much of that innocence.  I am now too mental, too cathartic, too doubtful, too old.  It was with a certain horror to witness what life had done to me and some of the decisions I have made.  I must needs repent.
Anyhow, it was a new experience.  In the end, I only scanned the last two books.  I lost interest and my memory became more keen.  It was so much as a story as just rehearsing something I already knew.  It is like learning to crawl again.  You just don’t have much patience for it after a while.
There were 4 journals they returned.  One is missing.  The good news is that it was the last.  I had just started it and was only into it about a month when it was taken.  It was probably 30 pages full at the max.  I am somewhat disappointed as I think those would be some of the most interesting.  What did I realize as things drew closer.  I knew things would break loose.  What was my reaction the night Dad told me he was going to engage Meta?  What was my feelings the night before the farewell?  What about shopping with Meta?  What did October and part of September hold that are now lost?  The Jerome County Sheriff insists they returned all the journals.  What happened to #4?  (There was another journal not placed in the numerical order.  An apocryphal one if you will.  Oh, I am currently on journal #17).
What does the next 10 years hold?  Will I read then of now and think similar things.  How stupid I am, yet how innocent.  How inspired and zealous?  I sure hope not.  Perhaps in 10 years, I can look back and say I was such a pitiful stig.  I complain, think too much, and am pathetic.  I have to change a few things to return to innocence.

Interesting Days

It is strange how coincidence seems to play into our lives. Even I, a low staffer, an Idahoan, who is of very little importance in the realm of all men who have walked upon the earth have the privilege of meeting such amazing men. There are giants around us and we very seldom realize it. Most of those will never be  recognized or accredited for what they do. However, today I wish to pay tribute to the common man (men and women, you know what I mean…man is not without the woman, and woman not without the man). There are souls around us who affect us so deeply that they forever change our course. Most of them are the every day run of the mill who humbly go about doing their duty. Many men do what they can to get by, others in service to others oblivious and often doing more damage, but then there are those who know what they need to do and do it well. Those who seek to do what they do well, live their lives to the best of their capability who influence the most.This week I met a man by the name of Mehmet Ali Talat. He paid a visit to Senator Smith. He is the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It definitely is not every day that we meet the President of a small country. What is more, one that is a bit more questionable in the eyes of many nations. Besides that, he is a very powerful man. He came with his entourage and sat in the office for a while (the Senator was meeting with the President of Starbucks…how ironic) and then left to visit with the Senator in his office. I do not know the culture, I do not know the man, but he seemed very deliberate and almost unhappy. The whole group seemed almost dire in many ways. While I can boast that I met the man who leads another nation, he left little or no influence upon me.

The same day, I met a man named Bob Livingston. A representative from Louisiana that served in the house for over 20 years. If I remember right, he was even Speaker of the House of the United States for a short time. A powerful man in the United States who served for a third of most people’s lives. (While there are hundreds of people in the U.S. government and I have come to learn it is just another job, it still holds a mystique) He sat with me for a few moments and was so concerned about his blackberry he couldn’t even visit for a whole five minutes. Another man who influenced millions of lives, but in lasting tribute will have little more than name recognition to go with his face in my life. Do we recognize the influence we could have on people, but due to our own concerns and selfishness do not take the opportunity to reach out more often.

If you would not know it, I was giving a tour this week and while explaining the Capitol Ceiling (which is always accompanied with my looking around while explaining rather than peering up a dozen noses) and I recognized a man sitting on one of the benches on the outer parameter. I excused myself from my tour group for a moment to go say hello to the Governor of Idaho, my beloved home state. I walked over, shook the hand of Dirk Kempthorne, and introduced myself. He looked pensive and contemplative. I somewhat regret having visiting with him as he seemed almost melancholy, but I was thrilled with the opportunity. Here was a man who took a few moments to say hello and learn a little about me. He did not brush me off and seemed somewhat interested. This man, while definitely with his own thoughts, took a few moments out to focus on the one. He will have a much more lasting influence than the President of a small nation or Speaker of the House. Nevertheless, many don’t like the Governor, but he seemed much more willing to care about other people than the first two.

In that tour group that I excused myself from was a former Senator of the State of Oregon. Neil and Mary Bryant were a different breed though. They were engaging, willing to share of themselves and learn of others, and even reached out to meet others. They and their friends Neal and Linda Huston were fun to take on the tour as they were so willing to get along and be a part of society. They are good individuals who loved to learn. He tried to stump me on historical facts of the United States of the Pacific Northwest (which my knowledge is not very good, I just got lucky that I knew his answers). They were by far the best people I met that day. While not as impressive in stature of the world, they left an impression that will be much more lasting.

With all that said, I want to recognize some of those who have affected my life the most. Colleen Jonas. Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ. Milo Ross. Sandra Jonas. Amanda Hemsley. Brad Hales. Kathy Duncan. Ted Tateoka. Kevin Orton. Nicole Whitesides. Laurel Hepworth. Marie Lundgreen. Kathryn England. Anna Badger. Chris Horsley. Megan Duncan. Dustin McClellan. James Cazier. Tom Kunzler. Altan Hardcastle. Warren Crane. Gene Hansen. Lorn Duff. I am sure there are more, many more. Thank God for good souls who reach out and connect with people. Who care more for others than they do for themselves. May God forever bless those who have affected my life and may I return the favor to all I come in contact with.

By small and simple means

Things continue to go very well for me.  I am blessed far beyond what I could hope for.  Sometimes it seems that things are slowing down, but things continue to move forward.
A great turn of events for me.  I have been invited to act in part of the role of assistant press secretary.  I do the clips and that takes a good hour of my day.  I enjoy it, I have my space in the mail office where I can do it.  It is an honor and I don’t mind working on a project that is solely my own.  For the rest of the time I am here, I will act in this position, unless they hire someone.  It is nice to have this because I can call it my own and I am not always depending on someone else to do their part or that someone else will do it.  I can do it, do it my own way, and there is not the little struggle if someone else wants it.  The best part is that I am respected more for being a part of the office, not just an intern to do the slightest whim of whoever wants.  I mean I still do, but they ask more politely and are more willing to work with me.
It is nice to have full access in my e-mailing to the whole office.  It is even better to have a window that I can look out and see the Supreme Court building.  In visiting with Chris, who is the press secretary, I have had a chance to get to know him some more.  He gave me a contact in Charlottesville too!  That will come in handy.  I have had numerous chances to visit with him now, and he keeps asking me questions.  I have enjoyed getting to know him more as well.
Today offered a unique opportunity.  If anyone happened to be watching the Finance Committee on CSPAN, they would have seen me enter the committee twice and present some paperwork to Senator Smith.  Both times I walked in as Senator Grassley was speaking.  Jacob said he saw me on the screen back in the office.  Now I can say I have been on official government tv now!  Anyhow, nothing special, but it was interesting.  I would not have known had it not been pointed out to me that they had seen me.  Funny how things are happening when we don’t realize it.
Today is also a little highlight in the life of Paul.  A tribute I wrote for the Senator about Rosa Parks will be entered into the Congressional Record.  Which means, while I cannot prove it was me, I have my words and work now represented in the official record of the United States Government.  I think that is exciting.  I hope I get another opportunity to write more.
The weather has continued to pour and pour and pour.  Apparently they are blaming some of it on the tailings of Wilma and Alpha.  Who knows.  I just know that I love it because it reminds me so much of the mission field.  Things are green and wet and yesterday I smelled a smell that reminded me so much of England.  Oh what I would not give to serve another mission, and especially in England.
Well, things are going very well.  Kathryn told me in the office that she appreciated how hard I work and that I am always working on something without having to be asked.  She said that was the reason why Chris asked me to help with the newspaper clips.  I am honored.  It is those little things that make all the difference.  I hope that I may always take care of the little things, and that great things will come to pass.  As my first mission president always said to me, “Take care of the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves.”  Thanks to President Bruce Stucki and Ted Tateoka, who drilled the scripture in Alma about the small and simple things home.  Hopefully I will never forget either lesson.