On Their Way Home

I got up bright and early to take Jennifer, Spencer, Texas and Marilyn to the airport.  They are on their way back home to California.

Zonked

It was a fun week watching my granddaughter zonk-out on the table at Tom Wahl’s, watching Texas shovel the snow, sledding down the hill behind the library, having a lobster feast, getting take-out from Happiness Garden, and just spending time with my daughter, her husband, and kids. 

9th Snow of the Season, December 28th, 2009

Texas wasn’t in a very good mood.  He did not want to leave (ah… sweet).  But, when I explained that he would miss mom, he changed his mind very quickly realizing that mom was going home.  It was also his 3rd day wearing the shirt I bought him that says, “Don’t Mess with TEXAS”.

They came to do the work on the fireplace and discovered the $2000 liner I purchased will not fit.  UGH!  So, more waiting for the fireplace to get completed.

As this is the last post of the year… I want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year.  May we all keep a prayer in our heart that our freedoms and liberties our forefathers fought so hard to obtain are preserved.  May we keep a prayer in our heart that men, all over the world, will gain a desire to live and keep God’s commandments – for that is the only way to be truly happy.

Amish and Mennonite Trip

Today was a clear sunny day so we decided to take a road trip.  Spencer remembered visiting what he thought was an Amish general store years ago.  We set out to see if we could find one. 

Our first destination turned out to be a bad lead.  So, we started searching for the second one.  (Now, before you ask why we didn’t search for them on the web, you must remember that Amish people don’t use the Internet, and unless someone else puts the information out there, you can’t find them via the Internet.   In fact, when we did find an Amish cabinet-maker, his business card said, “No Phone – We’re Amish!”) 

We did find an Amish cabinet-maker.  He was a delightful man named Dan.  He let us wander around his shop.  Much of his furniture was simple, but very practical.  He incorporated ideas that were very useful.  My favorite was a folding bench.  Stack a bunch of these against a wall and you have instant seating for lots of people with very little space to store them. 

I didn’t take any pictures because Dan asked that we should not.  Amish people are of the Mennonite faith, but not all Mennonites are Amish.  And, they have no ties to the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  

Dan directed us to Sauder’s – A Mennonite-owned country store.  This place was GREAT!  It was better than Trader Joe’s in both selection and quality.  We stocked up on some cherry jam, pumpkin butter, almond butter, cashew butter, cheddar cheese curds, and some candy.  Jen and Spencer also got lots of goodies to snack on.  I will be going back to Sauder’s.  (For my LDS friends, it is about 5 miles from the Peter Whitmer Farm.) 

We stopped at the Peter Whitmer Farm so Jennifer’s family could see it. 

Walton’s and the Nelson’s – Peter Whitmer Cabin

We had lunch at Tom Wahl’s.  I was a bit disappointed.  Although their burgers were fresh, they just didn’t have the impact of an In and Out Burger.  

Texas Enjoying a Chocolate Shake at Tom Wahl’s

I guess part of my disappointment was there was too much mustard and mayonnaise on the burger, a little lettuce and no pickles, onions or tomatoes.  Imagine a fried patty with mustard, mayo and lettuce.  My shake was okay, and the onion rings were pretty good.  Bethe had a pulled pork sandwich which is what I wish I would have ordered. 

Marilyn Enjoys a Chocolate Shake BIG Time!

 From there we headed to Macedon to hit the slopes one last time.

The Nelson’s Hit the Slopes

I decided to go down head-first…

Brent Heading down the hill

After that, all Texas would do is go down head-first too…

The Kid is a Real “Fred” on the Sled

At the end of the day, I reminisced with Texas about the week.  He listed off all the things we did together – shoveling snow, sledding (twice), going on a walk, visiting the Sacred Grove, and more.  I guess he takes after his grandpa in that he likes shoveling snow.  If you are going to enjoy something, it might as well be something you must do from time to time like shoveling snow.  I get up in the morning and if there is snow on the ground it is like, “Oh, BOY! I get to shovel the snow.”

Waiting for the Contractors to Come

We purchased a wood-burning stove back in November.  At the time the contractor gave us an estimate, he said 4 weeks.  Four weeks came and went and some, so I went into the stove store.  The store manager was quite embarrassed and called the contractor on his cell phone.

The next morning I got a phone call saying they best they could do is come to install it on December 29th. 

So, here it is around 10:20am and I just got a hold of the contractor’s office and the receptionist said they are, “Trying to round everyone up.”

There are some real group-dynamic problems in the building industry, especially when it comes to residential work.  I know a few guys whom I can depend on their word, but most of them do light construction and cannot do it all.  So, for the rest, you fall mercy to an industry that is full of people who can’t seem to manage their time or employees very well.

One would think with the economy the way it is that if someone has money to pay a contractor that the contractor would bend over backwards to accomodate them.  But, I understand that many of them have to deal with day-laborers who are not reliable.

We hired one guy who for a while seemed to be reliable. Then, one day, he failed to complete a job and just seemed to vanish.  He was quite embarrassed when we ran into at Lowe’s.  We commented that we would like him to come finish the job so we can pay him.

Another month went by and we wrote him a letter giving him a deadline to complete the job, or we would withhold payment.  That was a few months ago and we still have not hear a single word.  The deadline has  come and gone.

I really would like to hear about good, reliable contractors in this area.  It would be nice to know whom you can count on, and whom you cannot.  In the mean time, I anxiously await my wood stove installation.

Sledding in Macedon

I knew this morning I would wake to snow.  The reports have been pretty consistent that it would snow on Monday.  It did.

I got up and went out and started shoveling the snow off the driveway.  A little later, my son-in-law, Spencer came out and helped shovel.  Diana then came out and I asked her to do the front porch and then salt the walk ways.  Later, Texas came out and I gave him the small shovel from the car and he helped.

Grandson (Texas), Grandpa (me), and Son-in-Law (Spencer)

A little later, the driveway, sidewalks, porches were all cleared of snow.   The walkways were salted and we were ready to head to WalMart to get Texas some mittens and to buy a sled.

Sleds have sure changed since I was a kid.  WalMart had a plastic tobagon for $10.  It turned out to be the best choice.

Behind the library in Macedon is a large hill that is perfect for sledding.  We stopped there and hiked up the hill.  Texas took the first run.  He just flew down the hill.

He pulled the sled back up and this time, Texas AND Grandpa went down together.  Towards the end of our run, we got turned sideways and spun-out.  We managed to keep it upright, and we had fun.

Texas Making a Run Down the Hill

Next, Jennifer tried it.  Texas took a couple of more runs.  Spencer took Marilyn down the hill.  And, then it was time for Grandpa and Texas again.

This time, we were going pretty straight and then suddenly turned sideways and rolled.  We both rolled the same direction and I’m amazed Texas managed to keep from being run over by me.  When we both came to a rest, Texas stood up and his hood was filled with snow and he was wandering around like the headless man on the AT&T commercials.  He finally cleared the snow and announced, “I’m done.”

We came home and after a short rest, Texas and I went out and built a snow man in front of the mansion.  (It wasn’t very big, but to a 3 year old, it was a masterpiece.)

Texas and his Snowman

They are still taking a nap, and I’m catching up on e-mails.  When they wake, it is time to go buy some lobsters for a lobster feast tonight.

Spencer bought 8 lobsters.  Wegman’s had them for $6.75 a pound.  We came home and boiled them all and ate until we were just stuffed.  We had shrimp and cheeses and crackers and… well, it was enough food that nobody could complain about being hungry.

Another Warm December Day

It was another warm December day.  The sun came out and it continued to melt much of the small patches of snow in the area. 

After church, we had a quick lunch and I took Jennifer, Spencer and Texas to see the Sacred Grove and the Smith Farm.  Texas kept commenting that he was afraid the birds would come carry him off.  We had to explain that he was too big, and if one did come down he should grab it and put some BBQ sauce on it.  That seemed to satisfy his fear.

We drove up to the Hill Cumorah so they could see the view from the top.  By then, Texas was dead to the world so Grandpa just sat in the car while he slept and Jen and Spencer went to see the view from the top of the hill.

Christmas with the Kids

Today’s rain melted what little snow was left.  It was in the low 40s/high 30s most of the day and it rained pretty much all day long.

We opened presents with Jennifer’s family once they got up today, and I made my traditional Christmas breakfast (a day late).  We had waffles and sausage and bacon with all the other goodies to go along.

Spencer needed to pick up some stuff from WalMart, so I gave him a tour of the area as we ran to WalMart.  We also went out to Everson’s and Spencer picked up a lot of syrup for his dad and others back home.  Les Everson was there and we had a nice visit.

It’s Christmas Eve

The other day in WalMart, the lady at the cash register said, “Happy Holidays”. 

I returned with a, “And you too.”

The lady who was bagging my purchase then looked at me with a pleasant smile and said, “Merry Christmas.”

Her smile and Christmas wish caused a warmth to come over me, and I returned to her and said with all sincerity, “And a Merry Christmas to you too.”

I was watching a special on the History Channel about the birth of Jesus Christ.  It was interesting that through the study of the planets and stars, they came up with a date of  April 17th, AD 6 (if memory serves me right) as to when Jesus Christ was really born.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have believed since April 6th, 1830, that the birth of Christ took place on April 6th.  It seems scientific and historical research is leaning more towards our belief as the years go by.

Jesus, the Greek form of the Latin name, Iesus.  Most likely, Jesus would have been called Yahshua in Hebrew (or more commonly Joshua in English.)  Christ wasn’t his family name, but a title meaning Messiah.  Hence, Jesus the Christ seems a little more fitting in our language.  

No matter the name – whether it be the Messiah, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Yahshua, I AM, Alpha and Omega, the Light of the World, Saviour, Redeemer – he is the promised Savior.  And, as I have stated in the past, I reverence this period when we traditionally celebrate his birth even though I belive we’re off by a few months. 

Although I find the end of his life more significant to us than his birth, his birth was a fulfilment of prophecy by many  prophets.  He had to be born of a virgin.  He had to be born in humble circumstances.  His birth, by no means insignificant, was announced by angels and “heavenly hosts” who sang to shepherds.  Nowhere in recorded history to we have widely accepted texts that talk about angles and heavenly hosts coming to announce the birth of anyone else.

Tonight, as you gather your family around, read the account in Luke, chapter 2.  Imagine what it must have been like to be a Jewish shepherd tending your flocks.  Imagine the fear as men dressed in illuminating white descended from heaven and told you to “fear not”, and that they brought “good tidings of great joy”.  Imagine what it would have been like to be told the long-awaited Messiah (Christ) is born – someone your people had waited for centuries to come.  Imagine running to the place the angels told you about, and finding a mother holding an infant boy and thinking to yourself, “This is Him.  This is the Promised Messiah”.  Imagine hearing, and seeing heavenly hosts who came with the angels to announce his birth.

He was born.  He did live.  He lived, and was crucified in a most cruel manner, but before he died, he suffered for the sins of the world.  Thinking they might put an end to the movement he created, they took him, scourged him, spat upon him, mocked him by renting his clothing and placing a crown of thorns upon his head, and then they took him to Golgotha where they nailed him to a cross and lifted it up for him to further suffer and die.

Removing his body from the cross as the Hebrew sabbath approached, they placed him in a borrowed tomb, placed guards in fear that his body would be stolen, and rolled a large stone in front of the door.

The sabbath came and went.  It was the day we know as Sunday, and Mary came to visit the tomb.  She found the stone had been rolled away from the door of the tomb.  She entered in and found the tomb empty and the clothes he had been buried in folded and laid where Jesus’ body laid only a couple of days before.

Fearing his body had been taken by the Romans, she left the tomb, saddened and weeping.  A man, she think he was the gardener, asked, “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?”

As he called her by name, she recognized him as her resurrected Lord and said, “Rabboni” (master).

Others witnessed angels rolling the stone away men in “shining raiment”, angles.  Others witnessed the angels announcing the Savior’s resurrection from the dead.  Many hundreds, if not thousands witnessed him before his ascension in to heaven.

It is Jesus’ the Christ gift to all of us that we will be resurrected after we die.  It is his gift to all those who accept him and keep his Father’s commandments that will be able to return to live in his presence.  And, it is those gifts to us that make his birth, his life, his suffering, his death and resurrection so important to each of us.

 Over the years, my own personal hardships and trials have led me to know my Savior lives.  His life is not a fantasy to me, nor is it a passing belief.  It is much more.  I’ve come to know the importance of his birth, as well as his teachings, his suffering, his death and resurrection.

So, at this Christmas season, when we celebrate his birth, I wish you a very, Merry Christmas.  (And, comes April, don’t be surprised if I wish you a Merry Christmas again.)

Now, THIS is SNOW

I got up at the 5:50am scheduled time.  I immediately showered, dressed and bundled up and started cleaning off the snow.

Using the “stick your hand in the snow” method I have determined that it is about 3.5 inches of new snow.  (Very light powder.  It is 19F outside.  I mean, this stuff is light and fluffy – more air than water.) 

I started doing the driveway.  I was about done and it just started coming down in large clumps.  Large dry clumps, but large clumps.  And, the problem with dry snow is that it doesn’t compact.  So, when you shovel it, any wind will just blow it away.

By the time I got done, snow had already started to accumulate where I had shoveled.  I threw some salt on it, and it created little black holes in the newly fallen snow.  Those holes might be enough that if the sun comes out today it will melt all of the snow on my driveway.

On the way to Rochester, I made my stop at Sunoco to fill my 52oz mug with diet soda.  I couldn’t help but snap a shot with my iPhone…

Looking South towards Pal-Mac High School

You can’t really tell from the photo, but the snow isn’t real deep.  Counting the accumulation, about 4-5 inches in places.  The photo looks bleak because of the huge chunks of snow.  It isn’t real windy, but the snow is coming down in clumps about 1″ in diameter.

Now, here is the strange part.  The wind is coming from the west here in Palmyra.  But, as I drove west on SR-31, the snow got less and less.  And, when I got in to Rochester, it was hardly snowing at all and there was only about 1/2 inch on the ground.  All I can figure is the wind was sweeping down off Lake Ontario and making a 90-degree turn towards Palmyra somewhere in that 17 miles between Palmyra and Rochester.

I do hope we get a snow storm just like we had in Palmyra this morning again after the 26th.  Jennifer and Spencer are going to be here and I’d like to take Texas and Marilyn sledding behind the Macedon Library.  (They have a big hill there and it is the community sledding hill.)  Oh, that does mean I better pick up a sled at WalMart on the way home.

Check out the pages section of my blog and read the page on “How to Shovel Snow” if you haven’t already.

——

Here’s my report card for my “representatives”:

Congressman Maffei – F – why?  Voted for the House bill without reading it – by his own admission

Senator Schumer – F – why?  Writing my wife and telling her he is glad she’s supportive of the bill when she wrote him asking him to vote NO on the bill.  When I read his response to her letter my only thought was, the man is a moron and should be voted out off office.

Senator Gillibrand – F – why?  On her web site she says that more than 47 million Americans are without health insurance, and 2.5 million of her constituents are among them.  Hello, Senator?  If you have 2.5 million constituents that don’t know about Medicaid, then YOU have not been doing your job. 

The fact of the matter is, we DO have government heath coverage.   Call it MedicAid, MediCal, MediCare, etc., it is tax-dollar funded insurance.

You Can’t Call This Snowing

I’ve noticed the media is making a huge deal about the “snow” here in the east.  I’m not saying there is no snow on the east coast, but the media really blows things out of proportions.  What a shame.  It really does everyone an injustice.

It’s like when Elizabethe and I came to Buffalo in October 2006.  We had a layover at LAX.  The TV kept showing the same house with snow up to the rain gutters.  I commented to Elizabethe that each shot was of the same house, and in some cases, the same shot too.

As we flew in to Buffalo that afternoon, I was watching out the window as we approached the airport.  You couldn’t see any snow at all on the ground under the approach path except at the corners of parking lots where the snow plows had plowed it.

Did it snow that day?

Yes.

Was it really bad like the news made it sound?

No.

Were people without power as a result of the storm?

Yes.  But then, people have been without power for many other reasons too.  The fact of the matter is, the storm was early in the season and caught people off guard.  Had it been the same storm in December, January, February or March, people wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

Today’s blowing around of flakes all day long hardly constitutes a snow.  In fact, none of it even started to appear on the sidewalks until after the sun went down.  Even then, the snow was just a dusting.

Around 9:30pm as I left the Palmyra Temple, the snow was starting to stick.  But still, we are not talking anything more than a light dusting. 

All this said, if it keeps this up all night, we should have some accumulation by morning.

The Dahneke’s grandson went through the temple tonight.  It was really neat to see them there with their son and his family and his grandson.  Bart had the look of a proud grandpa.  I was really happy for him.  Brother and Sister Dahneke just shined with joy.

I ran to WalMart on my lunch break to pick up groceries for the week.  I ran in to Tom Chapman and his wife.  It seems I’m always running in to them at WalMart.  But, this is a small town and chances are, you’ll always see someone you know no matter where you go.

Speaking of small towns, I think that is what makes the quality of life better in a small town.  In a small town, kids are less likely to get in trouble because everyone knows their parents.  In a small town, people are more likely to treat each other with kindness because of the close proximity to each other.  In a small town, people are more likely to help one another because you are more likely be friends.

Zoning laws in larger communities really have destroyed the quality of life.  That is the main reason I left California.  In California, it is nearly impossible in most communities to walk to the store, doctor’s office and post office.  Zoning has these business placed far away from where you live.  This means, to do most anything, you have to take some form of transportation.    Suburbia, which was once thought to be the ideal setting for family life, has really destroyed the closeness of families and communities.

I spent the first decade of my life spending most of my time at my grandparent’s home.  They had a corner store.  It was just a small house that had been converted into a market.  My grandparents did MOST of their shopping there.  If they didn’t have it, you could let the owner know and they would get it.  It was years before I learned that my grandparents even owned a car.

When I retire, I may not even pull my car out of the garage except to drive the 2 miles to church.  For that, I might even walk to church some of the time.  The exercise you can get in a small town can be incidental to living in a small community.  I can walk to the Village Hall.  I can walk to the park.  I can walk to the barber.  I can walk to the grocery store.  I can walk to my doctor’s office.  I can walk to the post office.  I can walk to the pizza parlour.  I can walk to a couple of sit-down restaurants.  I can walk to several of my friend’s homes.  And, if push comes to shove, WalMart is close enough I could ride my bicycle to WalMart, Lowe’s, or some of the other larger businesses in neighboring villages.

 Now that it has been over a year since the last major election, and the economy continues to slide into the toilet, we can start waking up and realizing that the media is not our friend – whether it be the weather or politics – they are not our friend.  Zoning laws and other government controls are not good for us, our families and communities.   I think it is time we get back to basics.  We should get back to small businesses ran out of homes within walking distances from our front doors and elect politicians who will let us do just that.

Now, I’m going to go to sleep knowing I might have to shovel some snow in the morning.  But, as for today, you really can’t call this snowing.