Even Here, Snow is Exciting

When you live in California, the first sign of anything that even remotely looks like snow, people get excited.  Even here, snow is exciting.

I was sitting in my office in Rochester when I heard someone walking quickly across the room saying, “It’s snowing!  It’s snowing!”

A bunch of people gathered at the window.  I could hear them talking and debating.  Finally, the group consensus was, “It’s just rain.”

However, some areas did report some flakes blowing around, but nothing stuck to the ground or structures.  It was just too warm outside for it to stick.

So, we end November without any snow.

I find it funny what people remember about weather.  Because of my walking and bike riding, I believe I have a pretty good recollection of what weather is like on particular days of the year and times of the year.  Now, I do not have such recollection for this part of the country, as I’ve only lived here (full-time) since June 22nd of this year.  However, if people are the same wherever you go, then it will hold true that people don’t really remember weather patterns from a day-to-day basis unless there is something that connects them to the weather that day.

For example, people might remember the weather on a certain day because it was their birthday, Christmas, or they had a family outing planned that day.  However, just getting up and going to work each day normally doesn’t cause people to connect the date with the weather.

However, if you are getting up in the morning, and going for a walk or bike ride, or even if you work outdoors, you might pay closer attention to the weather.  When I was riding my bike daily, I was charting my miles.  When I didn’t ride, I marked, “No Ride – Rain”.  After my ride, I would note where I went, along with the miles, and a short note like, “very windy”, “very cold”, “hot today”, etc.

As a result of this, I began to realize that in the San Francisco Bay Area, early June can be quite windy, foggy and cold in the mornings.  For several years in a row, I noted that on the summer solstice, even though it was the longest day of the year, it could be quite chilly in the mornings and windy during the day.

Now that I’m blogging daily (and walking), it will be quite easy to track the weather patterns here.  I have been told this November has been unusual, but over the years, it will be interesting to see if my experience correspond to people’s memories.  As for November 30th, NOAA reports two newsworthy incidents on this day for Western New York – 1975 when areas of Buffalo (about a 2 hour drive from here) got 12-24″ of snow that day.  The storm continued for several days dumping a total of 48″ in some parts.  The other was 1991 when 50 mph winds downed power lines in Orleans County.  (Sorry, nothing for Monroe or Wayne Counties.)  But, in 1996, Wayne County got hit with 8 to 12″ of snow on November 27th.  (The max. 24-hour snow fall for Wayne County runs 8-12″ for any given month according to NOAA.)

As for now, November closes without any snow in Palmyra.

After work, we had a barbershop quartet practice at the Nickell’s home.  Things are coming together.  Saturday’s the BIG day.  We’ll practice Thursday night, and that’s our last chance to get it right.

Time for a Walk

I decided after church today that I would go for a walk through the Sacred Grove.  With Elizabethe in California, it seemed like a suitable thing to do.

Prior to taking my walk, I enjoyed a delightful morning at church.  The kids in Primary were wound-up and restless.   Although it must have been tough for their teachers, for singing time they really belted out the songs.

We had a long choir practice followed by a quartet practice at Mark’s house.  It is less than one week away for our first performance.  (For those in Palmyra, it is on December 5th at 7pm at the L.D.S. Church on Temple Road which is south on Stafford Road and runs between Stafford and Rt. 21.)

After finishing dinner and baking a dessert for tomorrow’s Family Home Evening, I drove to the Welcome Center and prepared to head out on my walk.  I had no sooner entered the grove when a familiar face came towards me.  It was Paul O’Donnell.  (Paul, it was nice seeing you today.)  We talked for a while and he continued his way and I began my walk.  I pointed out a hornet nest high in the trees not far from where we talked.

Hornet Nest

I’m glad I took my walk when I did.  First, it was a treat running into my good friend Paul.  Second, it was quiet and peaceful and gave me a well deserved break.

Alone in the Grove

I never really feel alone in the grove.  No, I don’t feel paranoid either.  But, being in the Sacred Grove when nobody else is around is a special treat.  I always feel my Heavenly Father’s love in the grove and I feel His spirit near.  It is one of those places where you can sit, ponder, read, pray and listen.  In this world today, there are few places you can do that.

Dusk and Moonrise – Sacred Grove

I sat there until I knew I’d better head back to the parking lot so the site missionaries aren’t sending out a search party for me.  The moon was out and the scattered clouds behind the trees made this duo-toned scene that I did the best to capture with my camera. 

Moonlit Creek – Smith Farm, Palmyra

I hope I never take for granted that I live this close to the Sacred Grove, or the Palmyra Temple, for that matter.  It is nice to be a 5 minute drive from both of them.  It was also neat to come out of the grove on a trail that faced the temple.  The temple was lit up and it was like coming through the woods towards a glowing campfire. 

Milkweed Pods

The plants took on a different hue with the dusk’s light.  The milkweed and dried reeds along the creek almost had a glow about them.  I probably could have stayed a bit longer, but the light was fading quickly and so I grabbed one last shot before heading back to the car.

When You Do…

When you do what you have always done, you will get what you always have got.

That’s good advice for people who wonder why their life is stuck in a rut.    I have to wonder why so many people don’t get this simple concept.   You want to grab them by the shoulders and look them in the eyes and say, “Well then stop doing it.”

It’s like the guy at the Seven-Eleven store buying lottery tickets.  He wonders why he can’t buy a house, drives a car that is held together with baling wire and duct tape, and he owes half of his friends money.  Yet, when you suggest he saves that $20 bill he says, “Yeah, but I could hit the big one tomorrow.”

So, get away from your s0-called-friends who drag you down.  Exercise some self-control and start thinking about tomorrow.  Dress for success.  Find someone who is very successful and befriend them and listen to their advice.  Find someone else that life has dealt them a hard-blow and give them meaningful service.  Resolve to be the best you can be.

And, for Pete’s sake, watch what you put on social network pages.  Really, is that how you want to be remembered?

So, here’s a confession… I once got involved with Amway. 

You’re probably thinking that everyone my age at some point has got involved with Amway.  Well, you’re probably right. 

I learned some valuable things from it.  Let me share them with you.

  1. There are no get-rich-quick schemes.
  2. The richer you are, the harder you will work at getting and staying rich.
  3. If it is too good to be true – it is.
  4. Multi-level marketing is the hardest way to get rich.
  5. Since it requires hard work to get rich, you better find something you enjoy doing and get rich doing that.
  6. Getting rich at the expense of can lead to legal trouble or even criminal charges.
  7. Never invest what you can’t afford to lose.
  8. What may work for you, may not work for me.  We all have different talents, likes and dislikes.

Now, here are some other things I’ve picked up along the way regarding success:

  1. Any work, even fast-food, is better than no work.
  2. I’d rather be digging ditches or picking up litter as long as I am providing for myself.
  3. Self-esteem is directly linked to self-sufficiency.
  4. Don’t fool yourself thinking that you’ll meet successful people in a club or a bar.  Successful people are too busy to sit around drinking.
  5. Never let your employer, supervisor, or client, see you smoking a cigarette, drinking anything other than water, milk or a soft drink, or doing any sort of drugs. (This includes pictures you post on the Internet.)
  6. Don’t smoke, drink or do any sort of drugs.
  7. When doing business-to-business transactions be on top of the game and be honest.
  8. Never do anything that would bring embarrassment to your parents.
  9. Choose friends who live the type of life you live, or would not mind living.
  10. Recognize true friends.
  11. Be friendly to everyone.
  12. Shun evil.
  13. Believe in the truth.
  14. Choose the right and let the consequence follow.
  15. Be confident.
  16. Be humble.
  17. Define success and work towards your definition of success.  If along the way you discover your goal is not what you want, change your goal, change your direction of travel, and proceed.
  18. If you get knocked down along the way, get up and start all over.

 Here are some questions for the ones who haven’t quite figured out what success is and how to get there.

  1. Are you employed?  If not, what are you doing to make yourself employable?
  2. What is your long-term view of life? (You do have a long-term view of your life, don’t you?)
  3. When was the last time you gave meaningful service?  (example:  helped an elderly person by doing yardwork for them, gave of your time working for a charity, etc.)
  4. The last time you had time on your hands, what did you do?   Did it help you get ahead?
  5. Did you pay a tithe?
  6. Did you give to the poor?
  7. Did you pay yourself by setting aside some money for your future?
  8. Do you have a budget (written down – otherwise, the answer is, “no”)?
  9. Subtracting 8 hours per day for sleeping and 2 hours per day for eating, what do you send the other 14 hours doing?
  10. Is the activity that takes the most time (see last question) helping you get ahead in world?
  11. Does your success hinge on other people?  If so, who are they, and why does YOUR success hinge on them, and what do you have to do to break free from their control?

Now go, and make it happen.

Thanksgiving 2009

First thing I did this morning was to bake one of my rich gooey cakes.  This one had pecans in the crust.  The plan is to take it to dinner at the Morse’.

I took Elizabethe to the airport this morning with a couple of stops along the way to deliver some gifts to some of Elizabethe’s visiting teaching ladies.  Traffic was nice and light so it was a breeze.

I did a lot of organizing in my office when I got back to the estate.  Every time I would make a trip to the house, I’d carry something else back to the office.  Bit by bit, the breakfast-nook is getting cleared out.

About 3:30pm I headed over to Gary & Geri Morse’ home.  I met two of their sons – Joe and Bret.  Jeff and Karen Wilcox were also there.  We had a very nice dinner and sat around talking afterwards.  None of us are in to sports, so when you aren’t in to sports, you spend your time on Thanksgiving Day being sociable.

I’m amazed how much Gary and I think alike when it comes to the type of trouble we got into as boys.  I’m sure God knew exactly what he was doing by spacing people like Gary and me miles apart when growing up.    But, we survived our childhoods and now that our  own  kids are grown, we can tell those stories without worry that our kids might try the same stupid stunts.

Well, I can honestly say, I am thankful to be alive.  I’m grateful that I survived childhood.  But most of all, I’m thankful for all that God has given me – a loving wife, wonderful children, friends in abundance, a country where we enjoy more freedoms than anywhere else in the world, a nice home, a good career, my health, the talents I’ve been given, and I could go on, and on.

“Count your many blessings;
“Name them one, by one.
“Count your many blessings;
“See what God has done.
“Count your many blessings;
“Every doubt will fly,
“And you will be singing as the days go by.”

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving evening.

My Daughter’s Business

My daughter Rebecca is in the process of getting her business off the ground.  We’ve spent a lot of time talking and I’ve pitched in with help on her web site and photos and such.

So, a little commercial here…

If you live in the Utah Valley, or know someone who does, and you have little girls, Rebecca really puts on a nice “spa party” for them. 

After work today, I spent time working on some of the photos from the one she did here.  Here’s another example of her work…

Hairdo by Rebecca (click the photo to visit Rebecca's site)

In a few minutes, the guys are coming over for a barbershop quartet practice.  We have a little over 1 week before our first performance.  We’re going to do 3 numbers – Jingle Bells, Coventry Carol, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  It’s going to be December 5th at the Sounds of Christmas Concert here in Palmyra, New York.

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, and Elizabethe will be off to California to spend time with her family.  I’m holding down the fort here.

May everyone have a lovely Thanksgiving.  Please take time to express your thanks for those things that make this a free nation.

Office Work

With high-speed Internet, and my desk in my office, I was ready to test it out today.  10mbps down and about 900kbps up and I was cookin’. 

I had to take some kraft paper and put it over the windows.  The sunlight coming in causes some terrible glare.  I’ll have to talk Elizabethe into making some curtains for the windows, or find some sort of suitable blinds.

Office with Computers

It’s kind of a wiring nightmare right now.  I have to re-route cables and zip-tie them and make it neat, but hey, it is useable at last.

Elizabethe and I worked at the temple tonight.  When I got there, the parking lot was about empty, however, it was quite busy.  I had to learn some quick Spanish.  I think I botched it.  But, the Spanish-speaking guests thanked me for my efforts.   (Maybe it is time to break down and purchase Rosetta Stone software for learning Spanish.)

Another Sunny Monday

Today was pretty uneventful.  My morning walk was down to the dock and back.  Nothing spectacular to photograph.  The sky was kind of boring.  Clear.  No color.  No clouds.  And, it wasn’t cold enough to make the canal steam.  Oh, well.

There is no snow in the forecast either.  (And people in Utah and Idaho teased me about moving here.  You’ve already had more snow, but less precipitation than we’ve had.  Oh, and colder temperatures. )  That’s fine… we’ll get our snow and I’ll gladly shovel the driveway.  I’ll post the photos when it happens.

Extra Help

Sometimes, in spite of how much practicing a musician does, mistakes will still be made.  I marvel at those who can play a difficult piece without a single mistake.  The link between my fingers and brain doesn’t work that way.  I can take a simple arrangement and play it perfect 3 times in a row and on the 4th time, totally fat-finger it.  Other times, I can never get it straight.  As much as I practice, it just comes out wrong.

Today was one of those days where I had to play a hymn that I couldn’t quite get it right.  However, when it came time to play it, the rough areas came out smooth.  I’m not saying I didn’t make a single mistake.  But, I made far fewer mistakes than I did when I was practicing.  This just goes to show that sometimes we receive extra help — divine help.

Years ago as a 20-year-old missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I remember a ward mission leader who was a machinist.  Brother Engle said the knew that God helped him at his work and made up for is inadequacies.  He said the equipment he used was only accurate to so many microns, but he was able to beat those tolerances.  I do not really think I understood what he was saying until this calling as ward organist.  Now I know what Brother Engle was trying to say.

Office Furniture Frustrations

If you own any office furniture that is made of particle board, you know about putting it together.  You get a little baggie full of hardware that you must match up to the roughly translated instructions.  Well, if you have ever disassembled the furniture, and misplaced the specialized hardware pieces, then you know about the frustration I faced today.

The corner unit was about 48″x48″x30″ and was the only piece disassembled so it would fit on the truck.  Since the move, I have seen the small roll of tape holding the screws and other pieces together.  Now that I need those pieces, they are nowhere to be found. 

A trip to Lowe’s revealed that they have a section called “Furniture Hardware” and wouldn’t you know it, every piece I need is not carried.  Things like #10 2″ wood screws with small hex counter sunk heads could not be found.  I found 2.5″ and I found 3″, but no 2-inchers.  Or, 1.5″ cam bolts with toggles.  Too specialized for Lowe’s inventory.

I had to make do.  Robbing parts from other pieces, I figure I would spread the missing parts throughout the assembly and hope things are strong enough to do with out them.

It took me most of the day, but came evening, I had it all put together and in place.

Office with Furniture in Place