Scranton Here We Come

Scranton Here We Come

Scranton here we come!  After lunch we loaded the car and started the drive to Scranton, Pennsylvania, for my speaking engagement tomorrow.

Our day started with Stake Conference.  President Clawson was released and President Woodworth called as a counselor.  (Bill Woodworth had been serving as a bishop.   His call came as no surprise to me.)

Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer was presiding over our conference and he gave a wonderful talk about the Book of Mormon.  He shared some amazing insights.  He pointed out things that Joseph Smith would have not known.

It’s sad that there are so many people who will not read the Book of Mormon because they erroneously believe it is a false book written by Joseph Smith in an effort to deceive people.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  Every time I read it I discover things I hadn’t noticed before.  For example, it contains chiasmus that we didn’t know about until people analyzed the Book of Mormon with computers.  An example Elder Schwitzer pointed out was that Nephi (son of Lehi) was depressed.  As an M.D. he cited evidences that Nephi suffered from depression and Joseph Smith wasn’t educated enough when he translated the book that he could have made up a character with these symptoms.

After conference we drove to the Harmony, Pennsylvania, site.  They have no re-routed the road, Joseph & Emma’s home is about done, as is the Hale home.  The stake center is coming along and there are two new monuments just outside the stake center, and it is looking good.

copyright 2015 db walton
Harmony, PA, Chapel

Like the Fayette, NY, building, this building will host a visitors’ center where visitors can start the tour of the site.  This has been a long time coming.  Once completed (estimating late summer) it will be a welcome place for tourist to visit and learn about the restoration of the priesthood, translation of the Book of Mormon, and the ordinance of baptism as restored by John the Baptist.

copyright 2015 db walton
Priesthood Restoration Monument

We arrived in Scranton around 6pm where we were met by a wonderful group of professional photographers.  They treated us to dinner and then we retired for the evening.

copyright 2015 db walton
Dinner with the Folks at NPPPA

Occipital Headache

Occipital Headache

I’ve been having Occipital Headaches the last few days and this morning I was able to pinpoint the cause:  Bad dreams.

That’s right, bad dreams.  Every night that I’ve had one it came on in the middle of the night and when I woke I woke out of a bad dream and with an excruciating headache.  I didn’t make the connection until last night’s bad dream followed by a headache event.

To the young man who years ago told a deacon’s quorum we were teaching that stress cannot cause physical pain, I wish I could grab you by both ears, turn your face towards mine and say, “You’re wrong.”  I am learning first hand what PTSD is all about.  It is emotionally, physically and mentally challenging and painful.

I told the doctor there isn’t enough said about non-veteran PTSD sufferers.  His comment was chilling.  He said that over 80% of the patients he sees suffer from PTSD brought on by rape, physical abuse, accidents and other forms of trauma besides those who suffer battlefield trauma.

About the only time we hear about it in the media is when someone commits suicide.  This sends the impression that PTSD sufferers are suicidal.  This is not the case and suicide is quite rare (less than 1%).

The good news is there is Cognitive Therapy treatment for PTSD.  PTSD is one of those things that doesn’t respond well to drug therapy (like anti-depressants), and so cognitive training helps us learn to re-train our thoughts which in the long run helps us respond differently when we have the problem-causing thoughts.  It’s not a quick fix, but I’m keeping a positive attitude that it will be a way to work through this.

In the mean time, I deal with painful (literally) symptoms like these headaches.    I’m hoping now that I know the headaches seem to follow a bad dream that somehow this cognitive therapy will help the bad dreams eventually go away.  Staring at the undercarriage of a car and thinking, “I’m going to die”, is what started it.  Now I just need to convince those subconscious that all is okay; it was a one-time event and all is going to be okay.  (Easier said than done, but I’ve got to think positive.)

—–

Tonight at Stake Conference I joked with President Clark that I was prepared to perform the entire Beatles White Album for prelude tomorrow.  He laughed and said, “If anyone can pull it off, you can.”

I love my stake president.  He’s a good leader, example and friend.  The fact that we can openly joke about stuff like that says he’s got a great sense of humor too.

I told him I was having difficulty trying to figure out how to play Revolution on the organ.  He smiled and asked about Helter Skelter.  We both laughed and I added that Little Piggies wasn’t going to be a problem, albeit a little sacrilegious.

Yes, we have fun joking around, but when it comes down to it, I take my calling as organist seriously.  My prelude and postlude music is from the hymnal and I play each him with feeling.

Joyful House

Joyful House

A joyful house is one filled with the laughter of children.  Our guests this weekend brought a lot of laughter and joy to the Beckwith Mansion.

A friend from Pittsburg, California, contacted us about room availability.  Before long, we had booked her nephew’s family for their family tour through the region.

We get a lot of older couples (without children in tow) staying here, but there is something about a house full of children’s giggles and smiles.  It was also fun to walk out in the front yard and seeing children tossing a Frisbee around while mom was taking pictures and dad loading the ice chest for the day’s venture.

Before long, they were off for the day.  Later when they returned, those old enough went to the temple while grandma stayed behind to watch the little ones.  One of them drew a picture and presented it to Elizabethe…

 

A Letter from a Child
A Letter from a Child

Later I heard the sounds of children in the basement family room having fun playing with the toys.  Their laughter and giggles is quite welcome here at the Beckwith Mansion.

That’s what it is all about… families.

I have a speaking engagement on Monday in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  I’ve got to throw a few things together for it.  It’s not like teaching here at the studio where things are close at hand.  If you don’t pack it, you won’t have it.  So, I’ve got to focus on getting ready.

The Beckwith Mansion is located in the Village of Palmyra, New York, and is classified as a tourist home.  Think of us like a Bed and Breakfast, except we don’t serve meals.  Lodging is affordable and you may use our kitchen to serve your meals.  We are also walking distance from several restaurants in the area.  To make reservations call us at (315) 359-5280.

Our Harbor

Our Harbor

Did you know there is a Port of Palmyra?  It’s our harbor off the Erie Canal.  It’s a place for boats to dock and be off the main flow of the canal.

copyright 2015 db walton
Port of Palmyra

When I first came to this area as a tourist, I was excited to see the Erie Canal.  Immediately, “Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal”, rang out in song.  What kid doesn’t learn about the Erie Canal in school?  (Okay, perhaps nowadays things are different.)  Even in California my children were taught about the canal.

The canal turned Palmyra in to the Queen of the Canal in the early 1800s.  Money flowed in to Palmyra and hence some of the big mansions and houses in that period.

It was a nice day for a walk.  It was a little warm, but not too hot.

While I was out walking, I found a pair of abandoned shoes and gloves.  It is strange what you find.

 

copyright 2015 db walton
Abandoned Gloves

That could make for a cool photo scavenger hunt — find articles of clothing.  Even funnier… have someone who has to wear what you find.

Age of Lack

Age of Lack

I took a course in college titled, “The Age of Incoherence”.  Perhaps this decade should be called the age of lack of responsibility.

It seems the pattern today to not accept responsibility, or plan for responsibility.  “It’s okay to do it as long as you don’t get caught,” is the message sent.  Yet, many actions have long-term consequences that may not even be realized until after this life.

Laws are passed that on the short-term, seem good, but years down the road have a devastating effect on society.  People do things that in the short-term, have little effect, but repeatedly doing them takes its toll (example – drugs, body disfigurement, etc.)

I’ve decided that from now on, I’m going to ask a business before I do business with them, “How much liability insurance do you carry?”

I know, that may sound silly, but it goes back to responsibility.  If their services or products cause damage to my property, what remedy do I have if they don’t have insurance?

In other words, I want to reward responsibility.

This is funny…

I recently responded to a list about wedding photography suggesting the author  add to that list that the photographer should carry liability insurance, and I gave some reasons why.  Someone responded, “But liability insurance is expensive and someone will have to pay.”

Okay… for a wedding photographer in New York, liability insurance runs about $1.10/day.  Even if you only do one wedding a year, it will only add about $400 to the bill if you were to pass that on to the client.

Imagine your doctor saying, “Malpractice insurance is expensive.  You’re going to have to pay if you want it.”

Google THIS

Google THIS

I find Google to be a frustrating company.  I want to yell to them, “Google THIS!”

The issue is this… I go searching for something local.  Rather than return a list based on the distance from the city I’m searching in, it gives me a list based on Google rankings.

Why is this a problem?

Let’s say your traveling, and you come to Palmyra.  You search for photographer and it shows you someone who is 20 miles away.  Your initial reaction might be, “Palmyra has no photographers.”

While I struggle to keep my Google Maps listing on top for Palmyra, New York, I shouldn’t have to invest that type of time and effort for something that should be as simple as distance from the search point.

It not only affects my business, it affects my travels too.  When you roll in to town and you’re looking for a bite to eat, you don’t want to be directed 30 minutes away to a restaurant.  (That happened to us last year in Vermont.)  It turned out had it been by distance, we would have saved an hour, and ended up eating at the same place.  There was a restaurant across from our hotel that Google Maps didn’t show.  We drove 30 minutes, looked at what was available, and turned around and headed back to our hotel.  That’s when we noticed there was a restaurant across from our hotel.

Thanks Google.

Most of my searching these days is done with Bing.  Bing not only provides more relevant results these days, but it also rewards me with points.  500 points and I get a $5 certificate for Amazon.com.

—–

Even though Memorial Day weekend was technically over yesterday, we still have a lot of lingering visitors to Palmyra.  At the Beckwith Mansion we have two rooms occupied, but what really amazed me was the number of cars at the temple when we pulled in.

I met one man from Salt Lake who I saw at Church on Sunday.  As we talked, it turns out they are spending the better part of a week here.  I thanked him for taking time to do what can be done in Palmyra.  He responded with, “I know.  There’s a lot to do here.”

AMEN!

Trip Planning

When you are doing your trip planning, please, please, please, do not rush your visit to Palmyra — especially if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Stop an think about it for a minute… you’re visiting the most sacred location next to the Garden of Gethsemane (for a great talk, click here).

If you are ONLY interested in LDS sites, allow 2 days for your visit here (3 if one of them is a Sunday).  But, if you’d like to spend a week here, I can give you recommendations to keep you quite busy and entertained.

 

5 25 15

5 25 15

I guess only a number geek can appreciate 5 25 15.  Yes, the date today is all add multiples of 5 – 5, 15 and 25.  It doesn’t get any better.

It is also Memorial Day – the day we honor fallen soldiers who died in the defense of this country.

I missed the parade because the weather report said it was going to rain and I had to get the lawn cut before it rained.  Well, I did, and then it didn’t rain.  I tell you, weathermen get away with screwing up on a regular basis.  Wouldn’t be nice to tell your boss, “Hey, there’s a 50% chance I’ll get this report to you,” and still keep your job?

Elizabethe wanted me to use the grass catcher, but being in a hurry to get things cut before the rain hit, I decided to just cut the grass.  It saved me 2 hours (about how much longer it takes to use the grass catcher), but I better use it the next time.

My FineArtbyDB.com site has some photos under the LDS section.  They are both from the Smith Farm.  One is of Crooked Creek, and the other is inside the grove.

Another Turns 30

Another Turns 30

Today, another turns 30.  Yes, another one of my children has turned 30.  It’s making me feel old.  I’ll get over it.

We joked back and forth about how she has now passed me up.  (I’m 29, I told her, but she wasn’t buying it.)  In reality, the last few months she has been 1/2 my age, but not any more.

Happy Birthday Amber!

copyright 2015 db walton
Amber

We had quite a crowd at church today.  The Young Single Adults in the area are having their conference this weekend, so many of them were attending our Sacrament Meeting this morning.

—–

After church I made a chicken dish for the missionaries. It’s quite easy and tasty.  Here’s the recipe…

1 boneless chicken thigh per person, pounded thin, coated with buttermilk or plain yogurt, and then coated with flour seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, marjoram, paprika, oregano, and then pan-fried in oil.

Cover the fried chicken with a scoop of hot marinara sauce, top with a slice of provolone cheese and garnish with slices of cooked, sweet, Italian sausage.

I guess you could have pasta with it, but I served it with salt potatoes (a regional classic around here.)

After dinner, I took a few pictures of the missionaries with Elizabethe in the garden.  These will be submitted to create.lds.org.

 

copyright 2015 db walton
Missionaries Helping Pull a Few Weeds

Our next stop was Rochester for a fireside with Dan Rona.  Dan is from the Tribe of Judah (i.e. a Jew) and he is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I’ve known about Dan for decades.  It was nice to finally meet him and hear him speak, especially after having been to Israel.

While I was hoping for more pictures and discussion about places and events, I was pleased with his details about Jewish customs.  I love how he put the following (and I’m summarizing)…

  • Jews believe the priesthood has been lost and needs to be restored (they are waiting for a Messiah ben Joseph)
  • Catholics believe the priesthood was never lost (i.e. the keys were passed to Simon when Christ announced he was Peter (the rock) and upon him the church would be established)
  • Mormons believe it was lost and has been restored (the keys were lost after the apostles of old were killed, and then restored by Peter, James and John to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery)
  • Protestants don’t believe it is needed (many say they receive authority from the Bible)

While I’ve often looked at the difference between the Catholics, Protestants and Mormons,  I’ve never included the Jews in that list… until tonight.

Sunny and Cool

Sunny and Cool

Today is sunny and cool.  In the shade it can be quit chilly, but in the sunshine it’s nice.  I figured that makes good walking weather.

With it being Memorial Day Weekend, there were a lot of people at the Smith Farm.  The parking lot at one point was about 50% full.

While walking through the grove I met folks from Indiana, Utah, Pennsylvania, New York (of course), but not many from the west.

copyright 2015 db walton
My Favorite Spot in the Grove

Someone asked me today, “Do you think they know where the actual spot is?”

My response is this… if anyone does, they would not tell because they would not want people doing stuff like this to it…

copyright 2015 db walton
Vandalism in the Grove

I don’t know who “BYA” is, just that he visited in 2012 and vandalized on of the trees in the Sacred Grove.  I would hope by now that he has repented.  And, for this very reason, vandalism, I think the location will remain sacred to those to whom it has been revealed.

Those trees that were there in the spring of 1820 know, as do the rocks that witnessed that special event.  I wonder how many people actually stop and think about the significance of that event.

Let’s think about this…

  • A boy, who has never prayed out loud before, goes to the woods behind the family log home to pray.
  • As he prays, he says a light descends and when it rests upon him, he looks up and sees two men.
  • One man, calling him by name, points to the other and says, “This is my beloved Son.  Hear Him.”

This was 195 years ago.  Has anything happened like this since?

Going back in biblical history, the closet thing that comes to it is 2,000 years ago when Jesus goes to John the Baptist to be baptized and we hear the voice of the Father announcing him as his “beloved Son”.

So, when you think about Palmyra, think about what is claimed to have happened in the Sacred Grove.  Take a reverent walk through the grove.  I’m sure if you ask, God will let you too know what happened there.

copyright 2015 db walton
The Sacred Grove

New Symptom

New Symptom

I have a new symptom from the accident.  Numbness in my right leg.  I looked at a nerve diagram and it follows the nerve where the impact took place.

I made an appointment and they immediately x-rayed my spine.  That struck me as odd, but I think they want to eliminate that as the source first.  I go for an MRI in a couple of weeks.  In the mean time they started me on a regime of prednisone.

One brief moment when 2,000 pounds of steel slams against your body sure changes your life.  I do cherish the day when my week isn’t occupied by one or more doctor visits.

Elizabethe and I headed to Best Buy after my doctor appointment to look at new monitors for her computer.  We found a $150 32″ one.  She’s elated.  This thing is huge.  She can now have two browser windows open side-by-side to do her genealogy work.

While the size is really nice, I don’t believe it has the gamut to do photography retouching.  I love my LaCie monitor and would only replace it with something that has a wide gamut to avoid banding and other low-gamut issues.