Warmer and Rainy

For my California friends who think I’m nuts for moving to Upstate New York, today was warmer and rainy.  In fact, more of a sprinkle than a rain today.  It was wet enough that I skipped taking a walk.

Bruce, Sam, Mark and I practiced for Saturday evenings concert.  Things are coming together.  We’ve worked out some patter for between our songs.  Elizabethe and her arts-and-crafts group were in her work room and so we went in there and went through the numbers.  Sarah, a 10 year old girl from church is now our first groupie.  (It’s nice to have fans.)

I do think that 3 times through Santa Claus is Coming to Town is my limit.  It hits an A-flat (above middle C) and that is dang high for a man to sing. (Okay… stop it with the jokes.)  Between now and Saturday night, I need to coddle my voice.  The least bit of congestion or hoarseness and anything above F will be hard to sustain.

We started taking about names for the group:  The 4 Bs – Bruce, Brent, Bass and Baritone — B4 (before) — Palmyra Pipers (just think of the tongue twisters we could do with that one) 

So, if you’ve got some ideas for catchy names for a barbershop quartett in Palmyra, New York, leave a comment.  We will really take them into consideration.

No Snow or Frost

As I head out the door this morning the dry was clear, dry and there was no frost.  Okay, here’s the strange part, as I took my walk, the frost started forming.  Never in my life have I ever seen this.  In fact, at one point I walked onto a board walk – no frost.  But, when I turned around to go back, where my boots had stepped there was frost in the pattern of my boots.  (That is, the frost was forming where my boots made contact – not the other way around as you would see if I stepped on a frosty board.  Thus, my foot prints were of frost, not in the frost.  There was no other frost on the boardwalk.)

By the time I got home, the grass and leaves were covered with frost.  I know from living in California that dew often sets in the early morning hours.  Having had an early morning newspaper route, I’d often see windows of cars as they started to form dew and by the time I was done delivering newspapers, all the cars would be covered with dew.  But, this is the first time I’ve ever seen this with frost.

My trek today was down a trail that paralleled the Erie Canal.    There was a great view of this hill just north of the village.  I guess I was meant to move here.  The name of the hill is Walton Hill.

Walton Hill, Palmyra, New York

I also came across this bird’s nest. 

Bird’s Nest along the Erie Canal

Elizabethe comes home tonight.  She’s been in California visiting family there.  It will be nice to have her home.

Oh, I forgot to mention, Hanna is back at Happiness Garden.  Hanna is the owner’s, Jerry’s, wife.  If you haven’t tried their chow fun, stop in and order some vegetable chow fun.  The best I’ve ever had.  (Chow fun noodles are about 1/2″ wide, unlike the skinny chow mein noodles which are more like spaghetti in their size and shape.  They have a nice chewy texture that you don’t get with the skinny noodles.)

Happiness Garden is located at 212 E Main Street, Palmyra.  Tell Jerry and Hanna that Brent sent you.  (Don’t forget to order cheese won tons!)

December 1st and 1st Snow

After yesterday’s blog about no snow, I get up for my walk this morning and there’s about 1/2″ of snow on lawn and roof.  (Ground is too warm for it to stick on the roads and sidewalks.)

I bundled up for my walk, but I didn’t zip my coat.  I got outside and realized, the air wasn’t very cold and it was warm enough that I did my entire walk with my coat unzipped.

Studio December 1st, 2009, 6:30am

My usual loop has been down to the boat dock. (Which I now realize is called, “The Port of Palmyra”.)  I took several photos, some of which you will see here.  As I was about to end the loop, I noticed even the snow on the grass was starting to melt. 

Port of Palmyra - December 1st, 2009

A couple of people I passed commented about finally getting snow.

I noticed the Village Park has the gazebos decorated like a carousel.  It kind of looked neat this time of the morning.

Palmyra Village Park - 1st Snow of the Season

I got back to the house and it looked cool with the light dusting of the snow.  I think I’ll use one of these images for a Christmas Card.


Beckwith Mansion - December 1st, 2009

Now, from a different view as a watercolor…

The Beckwith Mansion

By lunch time, the snow was all melted.  In fact, there wasn’t much evidence that it even snowed.  But, that has been my experience during my visits the last few years.  If there is snow in the morning, it will be gone by the time you get back from work, and if there is snow when you go to bed, it will be gone when you get up.  There will be some pockets of accumulated snow, but for the most part, it doesn’t stick around long.



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.)