Monthly Archives: September 2014

Church History

Church History

Church history (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is fun.  Whether it be modern church history (1800s to present) or Book of Mormon archeology, I find it fascinating.

My recent trip to Vermont was prefaced by Elizabethe’s reading out loud the book Willard’s Cumorah.  Here’s an example of a fascinating fact…

About 3 miles from Hill Cumorah, a hill was discovered that had a 10′ wide by 10′ deep trench with skeletal remains that were thrown in to the grave “promiscuously” (their word).  Yet, so many people think there is no evidence of a great battle near Cumorah.  Yet, the book of Mormon talks of at least 1/4 of a million people killed in that great last Nephite battle.

Much has been done to quash the archeological findings of the area.  Some very unintentionally.  For example, one man finding a copper breastplate had it turned in to a bowl.  Prior to laws being passed regarding the finding of such relics, people did what they pleased with what they found on their property.

I’ve yet had time to research this hill that had the large ditch, but it has me curios.  The book had a photo and yes, it looked like bodies were just tossed in to a mass grave with no preparation.  Doesn’t that go along with this statement?

And it came to pass that there were ten more who did fall by the sword, with their ten thousand each; yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen; and their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth. (Mormon 6:15)

This was written after a battle on Hill Cumorah that left nearly 250,000 Nephites dead.  They had gathered for months for this battle, and lead by Mormon and his captains of 20,000, all by 24 men were slain.  (This did not count the opposition’s dead.)  With that many bodies, what were they left to do?  My guess is they raked them in to these big trench graves.

What comes next in the Book of Mormon is one of the saddest sections in the book.  I hate to end on a sad note, but we should accept this as a modern-day warning:

17 O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
18 Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.
19 O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!
20 But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.
21 And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.
22 O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy.

Leaves and Mowing

Leaves and Mowing

When you combine leaves and mowing you end up with a full grass catcher and you empty it often.  Such was the case today when I mowed the lawn.  1.8 acres and lots of stopping to empty chopped leaves and grass.

One difference between leaves and grass is that grass chops and is more compact.  Leaves don’t chop as much and leaves a lighter mixture in the grass catcher.  Even when you empty it, because of the fluff of the leaves it can blow around still.

I got all done and stepped back to take a look at my plush green carpet of grass only to see it was already covered with leaves again.  Ugh.  Elizabethe asked, “Did you think the leaves weren’t going to fall?”  Well, of course not, but at least wait until I get cleaned up.

The grass is quite dry and I’m hoping we get a good rain storm to green it up.  Some parts are looking kind of brown which is unusual for around here.  It is looking like a California lawn.

I spent the rest of the day catching up on my blog entries for the time I was gone.




Today we received blessings.  As you know, yesterday we got to our hotel (also a blessing) with a dead battery and this morning we called AAA for help.

They called back and said they don’t carry a battery for my car and suggested they could tow me to Advanced Auto where Advanced Auto would replace the battery. (Free installation with purchase.)  I called Advanced Auto and they had the battery, but the guy didn’t know if they would be able to replace it.  I explained our situation and he said we should come in and he would take care of us.

I went to put our belongings in the car and discovered there is no way to open the trunk when the battery is dead.  That’s a bummer.  I had to stuff all of our luggage in to the back seat.  And, because the automatic door locks wouldn’t unlock, I had to unlock all 4 doors from the driver’s side which wasn’t a pleasant task either.

The two truck arrived and he took us to Advanced Auto where the guy there recognized the driver as a friend of his and that opened the door to some great service.  By 10am they had the battery replaced and we were on our way again.

At this point, I was only concerned about getting home safely.  Yesterday’s drive was quite stressful.  I knew if our car stalled out, or if we turned it off, we wouldn’t be able to get it started again.  So, I was happy to have been blessed with circumstances that allowed us to get on the road again.

Because we could now stop, we stopped at Taco Bell for breakfast.  (Now, there’s my type of breakfast.)  I was a little annoyed when the manager there was barking orders at the staff and then she went outside for a smoke with her boyfriend.  This was one of those things you see happen on Mystery Diners.

After a quick breakfast, we got on the road again.  We made it home around 3pm and found all was well at home.  We got the car unloaded and then took a nap.

We still managed to feed the sister missionaries.  Sister Flores has a new companion, Sister Ferreira from Brazil.  We had salt potatoes, pork chops, cauliflower (from our garden) and a spinach (also from the garden) salad.

Sister Ferreira is quite new and is still learning English.  She related a funny story that the mission president said, “Sister Ferreira you will speak Spanish and English.”  She informed him that she speaks Portuguese.  He informed her that he wasn’t asking what language she speaks, but telling her what languages she will be speaking on her mission.

Elizabethe seemed to enjoy speaking to her in Spanish while explaining things.  Sister Ferreira is anxious to learn and is cheerful.  I bet she will be speaking fluently before she leaves Palmyra.



Lane Family Reunion

Lane Family Reunion

Today is the Lane Family Reunion.  This is the reason for our trip… or the main reason… or should I say Maine reason? We were asked to follow Elizabethe’s cousin to pick up his daughter at the nursing home where she lives.  He needed another set of muscles to help load her and her wheelchair in to the van.

From there, we stopped at A.C. Moore for her to do a little shopping and he needed my help to load her in to the van there too. We then headed to the church for the reunion.

We arrived at the church the same time Kevin and Karen Lane did.  (They live down the road from us in Fairport, New York.)  It was nice for me to see some familiar faces. One inside, we saw Elizabethe’s Uncle Bob Kendall — another familiar face!

I was asked if I’d take a few candid shots and a big group shot.  I did and here’s the entire group…

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The Lane Reunion Attendees

They also celebrated Elizabethe’s great-aunt’s 102nd birthday.  Yes, that’s right, she’s 102 years old and she will probably live to be a 112 or more.

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Turning 102

As soon as the reunion was ended, we hopped in the car and started our way back to NY.  We had hotel reservations in Queensbury, New York for the night.

As we drove, every time I would stop I would smell that rotten egg smell (hydrogen sulfide).  I thought we must have got some bad gasoline and it was causing the car exhaust to smell.

We stopped for dinner at this little New Hampshire pizza place (which was some of the worst pizza ever… but never mind that).  When we returned to the car it wouldn’t start.  I opened the hood and there was the source of the H2S smell — a cracked battery.

I got a jump from a guy in the pizza place, and with the car running, we started the drive to the hotel.  Elizabethe got AAA on the phone and they informed us it was too late for their battery replacement service.

With a prayer in my heart, I trusted God would get us safely to our hotel.  The GPS led us to the remote road and announced, “You have reached your destination.”

There was no hotel.  It was then we noticed the GPS said Schroon Lake and our hotel was in Queensbury.  To make things worse, the directions I printed from MapQuest directed us to Schroon Lake too!!!  This set us back while driving on a defective battery.

God came through and delivered us safely to our hotel.  It was 11pm at night and originally, the GPS said we would arrive at 8:50pm., and we retired for the night.

Vermont to Maine

Vermont to Maine

Today we are driving form Vermont to Maine.  We will pass through New Hampshire which it will be interesting to see if it is as different than Vermont.

As we were getting ready to leave, I noticed a map that had an ad for the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream plant.  That will be a lunch-time stop.

We headed back to the Joseph Smith Birthplace Site for some more photos.  It was foggy and I was a little concerned about getting some of the photos I still needed, but the fog eventually burned off.  Before it did, I got this shot…


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Rays of Light on the old Smith Property

This was near one of the ginseng plants.  Joseph Smith, Senior, had gone in to business raising ginseng.  The idea was to export it to China and get rich.  Well, it didn’t happen.  He was ripped off by a business partner leaving him some $1,800 in debt.  They managed to pay off the debt and left Vermont with nothing.

Our next stop was Ben & Jerry’s.

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Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

We decided to avoid the tour.  There was quite a crowd and we were just there for the ice cream anyway.  Elizabethe got a cone with some chocolate hazel nut ice cream (haze something) and I got a sundae with 5-layer coconut ice cream topped with hot caramel and walnuts.  Now, that’s a lunch.

As we drove towards Maine, we drove through Montpelier.  Yup, that’s the capital, but you’d never know it unless you spotted this beautiful building…

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Montpelier, Vermont

I say you’d never know it because the town has less than 8,000 people.  We’re talking a SMALL town.  This makes Montpelier the smallest state capital in the U.S.A.

Like I said, I found Vermont a bit strange.  You have all of that forest, but I did not see a single logging truck the entire time we were in Vermont.  It is extremely rocky and mountainous, which might have something to do with the difficulty of logging there.  It is a beautiful state this time of year.  One last comment, if you think people in the deep south talk funny, visit Vermont.

We continued on through New Hampshire.  There, things seemed more of what we are used to.  There were more businesses and places to eat, however, I was holding out for some Maine lobster.

As we entered Maine, we drove through the town of Fryeburg.  This caught Elizabethe off guard because her father was born in Fryeburg and she thought it was on the other end of the state.

Eventually we made it to her relative’s home where we would spend the night.  He welcomed us in, showed us to our room.  It’s been a long day.

Vermont Here We Come

Vermont Here We Come

Vermont Here We Come.  Elizabethe and I pulled out after my networking meeting this morning.  We’re heading to White River Junction, Vermont, where we will spend the night.

The leaves are already starting to turn in and around Palmyra, so I’m in hopes they will be in full blaze at some point of our trip.  We are heading north, a higher altitude, and further east.  (They say the color changes start in the northeast and head their way southwest.)

Trivia…  Did you know that the leaves change color because of a lack of sunlight and not the change in temperature.  The color change is because the plant cannot produce enough chlorophyll (the green in leaves) and as the chlorophyll leaves the leaves it leaves them yellow, brown, orange or red.

We drove north through Saratoga Springs, New York.  Yes, that town made popular in the 70s by Carly Simon’s song, You’re So Vain.  Well, I guess it was popular before that for horse racing, but as a teenager I had never heard of it before the song.

I was right.  As we headed in to Vermont the leaves and colors became more pronounced.  It’s quite beautiful and I would imagine by next weekend it will be more spectacular.

We stopped in some little town to eat our lunch.  While there I noticed this bridge and walked 1/2 way across to get this shot.

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Somewhere Around Whitehall, New York

Sharon, Vermont

We eventually arrived at the Joseph Smith Birthplace site.  The sun was getting close to setting, but it gave me a chance to get some golden-hour photographs.  This is located in the middle of the state, nestled away in the mountains.


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Joseph Smith, Jr., Birthplace Monument

Elizabethe rested in the Visitors’ Center while I hiked around taking photographs.  I had a list from the church’s historical department of images to capture, and it was my guide as to what I should find.  I took a trail that said it was the “new” trail to the Hale foundations.  It was steep.  VERY STEEP.

Once in the bottom of the gully, I found the foundations and the stone wall and took my photographs.  I didn’t want to come up the same way I came down, so I hiked down the road.  It was a dead-end.  I knew there was a road up, but I must have missed it.  It was getting dark so I doubled back, found the road up and out, and hiked it.  The Visitors’ Center closes at 7pm and I made it out around 6:55pm.

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Highway Marker at Turn-off

We drove from there to White River Junction, Vermont, where our hotel was.  There were lots of hotels, but few places to get dinner.  I asked the guy at the front desk and he recommended we drive a couple exits to the north and would find several places near Dartmouth College.

Yeah right.

It was a trendy area, little to no parking, and every place looked expensive.  (I’ll say it now.  I found Vermont strange.  Very few fast-food places and towns and villages that looked quaint, but unwelcoming.  More on this later.)

We headed back to the hotel and were about to settle on a McDonalds near the hotel (only fast food we saw in the area) when I saw a Chinese buffet.  It was behind a gas station (which is also odd), but it was open.  The place was sparse on vegetables, which was fine with me, but at least we got a hot meal that wasn’t burgers and wasn’t expensive.

The room at the Holiday Inn Express was NICE.  We got a free upgrade and this thing was bigger than most people’s first homes.  It had a huge bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and a dining room.  Had I known that, we would have brought food to cook.  But, there was no way knowing we’d get an upgrade.

Pack for the Trip

Pack for the Trip

Today I pack for the trip. Tomorrow we leave for Maine and all points in between.  I’ve never been to any of these places so it should be an adventure.

When packing for a trip it is always a good idea to use some sort of check list.  Since I’ve been packing for trips ever since I was 12 years old (Scout camping trips at that age), I occasionally get lulled in to security thinking I can get it all without a check list.  I hope this is not the case for this trip because, yes, you’ve got it, I didn’t use a check list.

After attending my networking meeting in Rochester, I headed to Wegman’s to get some provisions for the tip.  For this, I had a list.  Tortillas for wraps, sodas to drink, crackers and cheese to snack on, etc.  I didn’t get any produce because we have produce galore from our garden and I’m sure we’ll take something.

The rest of the day was spent getting things ready.  Now, for a photographer, this means charging all the batteries, formatting all of the memory cards, cleaning lenses, packing the camera bag so you can get to everything, etc.  This also means anguishing over the equipment you wish you had for those pictures you think you might get.  I know of no other profession that goes through that type of anxiety before a trip.

Wide angle lens – check
Telephoto lens – check
Medium format digital camera – nope – need more money
Filters – check

And the list goes on…

I think I’m ready for the trip.  Only tomorrow will tell.


The Backside

The Backside

We often don’t see the backside of many things.  For example, we don’t see the backside of our own head.  Today, I went looking for the backside of a local landmark.  Why?  Because the church requested a photo of it without any modern structures.

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The Backside

Although there are a few buildings and a utility pole, I can take those things out through retouching.  Without those terraces and buildings, the hill looks so small.  The idea is perhaps this is how it looked to Joseph Smith in 1823.

I’ll be going back to get more autumn colors.  Hopefully, the parts will arrive for my panoramic tripod head soon.  (I’m building my own non-nodal tripod head which will allow me to create some giga-pixel images.  The above is about a 32MP image.  I’ve got another that’s about a 148 megapixels.

In our district meeting this afternoon they showed many examples of pictures they would like to see for General Conference.  So, I’m on the search for people of all ages to pose for watching conference on technology.  (I won’t be photographing them as a group, but individually.)  I’m thinking I could use a Primary-aged child, a teenager, a young adult, an adult in their 30-40s, another in their 50-60s, and then someone in their 70-80s.

We had decent attendance at the temple again tonight.  As I was working the recommend desk, a sister from Rocklin, California, came in.  I commented that I used to ride my bicycle from Fair Oaks to Rocklin down Sierra College Boulevard just so I could ride down that long hill.  I think she was surprised to run in to someone who even knew where Rocklin was.

My remote viewer for my camera is supposed to arrive tomorrow.  I’m quite excited as I have it all figured out in my head what this rig is going to look like and how I’ll use it.  Basically, this will allow me to hoist my camera high in to the air (23′) on my painter’s pole and to be able to view and control it from the ground.  And, I can also do other “remote” camera stuff.

Another idea I had for it was a photo booth.  Hmmm… I just might try it out at some ward party or other function.  Caveat public.

187 Years Ago Today

187 Years Ago Today

I love “This Day In History” spots and so here is mine.  This day in history, 187 years ago today, a young man in Palmyra, New York, returned home with a set of ancient gold records.  It was the morning of September 22nd, 1827.

Four years earlier, Joseph was concerned about his standing with God.  In the spring of 1820, Joseph, being confused about which church to join, went to the grove behind his family’s home off Stafford Road.  Upon finding himself alone in the grove, Joseph prayed to ask God which church he should join.

To his astonishment, a pillar of light descended until it rested upon him.  He saw two personages standing above him in the air.  One of them, spoke to him, calling him by name and said, “Joseph, this is my beloved Son.  Hear him.”

Joseph was then instructed he should join none of the churches.  A full account can be found here.

Three years after his vision in the grove, Joseph was concerned about his standing with God.  To the best of my understanding and knowledge, he had not prayed since his vision.  This time, he was in his bedroom and as he prayed, he said the room began to fill with light.  Soon a conduit opened and a man appeared to him.  This man identified himself as an ancient prophet.  The messenger told him of a marvelous work that is about to come forth.  He also told him about an ancient record hid in a hill not far from the Smith Farm.   This vision was repeated 3 times that night.

The next day, Joseph told his father what had happened, and his father instructed him to where the angel said the plates were.  Joseph went and recognized the spot immediately.  He found a large stone showing above the ground, and got a stick to use as a lever to remove it.  He did, and there, inside a stone box, were the plates as described along with other artifacts.

He went to remove the plates and the messenger appeared and stopped him telling him it was not the right time.  He was instructed to return annually to that spot until it was the right time.

Hence, September 21st and 22nd are important dates around here.

This morning, to commemorate that event, I joined several missionaries from the New York Rochester Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as we took the walk from the Smith Farm to Hill Cumorah.  This is a walk Joseph Smith took several times.

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Smith Log Home

I was told they were leaving at 7:30am, so I thought I’d show up at 7:15am.  To my surprise, they were already on their way.  They met at 7:00am.  Oh, well.  No harm done and I was able to join in with the group and got them to pause for this (above) group shot in front of where it all started.  (Actually, this is a modern restoration of the log home that would have been here.)

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Old Stafford Road with the Smith Farm in the Background

At the end of the old Stafford Road segment I asked the group to pause for a picture looking back at the Smith Farm.

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Stafford and Smith Roads

Down the street about a mile is Smith Road.  How appropriate.  So, again, I asked them to pause for a picture on the corner of Smith and Stafford Road.  It’s a great excuse for me to catch my breath.

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On Top of the Hill Cumorah

Finally, we all made it to the top of Hill Cumorah.  (Funny story… a few hours after this, I was shopping at Wegman’s and the sister, front and center (black and red top) was there with her companion.)

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Sisters Pose for a Selfie

There were a lot of “selfies” being taken along the hike.  These three posed to get the monument in their photo.  And, speaking of selfies, this week’s Church News (Deseret News, Church New section) featured this:

As already mentioned, I went to Wegman’s to grocery shop. Got a few snack items for our road trip later this week.

It’s only 4pm, but I’m winding things down for the day.   I started a few hours earlier than normal.  I’m sure my boss will let me leave a few hours early.  Oh, wait, I’m the boss.  Okay… I’m leaving.

Connection Failed

Connection Failed

The prayer had just started when someone’s tablet announced, “I’m sorry, I cannot find a connection.”  I thought the timing was funny.  Connection failed.  It was just too funny for it to happen at that time.

Person Saying Prayer:  Our Heavenly Father…
Computer Voice:   I’m sorry, I cannot find a connection.”

Seriously, that is kind of funny.  Fact of the matter is, our connection to our Heavenly Father is always open.  It’s the channel coming back to us that has the hard time.

Our congregation was completely full today.  We had a huge tour group from England.  They really sang out too.  It was really nice to have them present in Priesthood Meeting as they added to the volume ten-fold.

The Elders came to dinner and we had MRE meatballs.  Yes, that’s right.  We had some MREs that needed to be rotated so I heated them up while serving them with fresh mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, and a salad.  The MRE meatballs were quite good.  They had less filler and more meat than what we have purchased at the store.

Tomorrow I get up early to go join some missionaries as they walk from the Joseph Smith Farm to Hill Cumorah in commemoration of Joseph Smith receiving the plates.  There is actually a novel written about this journey called The Farm Boy and the Angel.