Bent Blade

Bent Blade

This is the first bent blade since switching to the heavy duty blades.  A brick hidden in the leaves caused the bend.  I’m so frustrated.

The good news is in spite of a bent blade, I have much of the leaves picked up.  We will hire someone to do the rest.  I’ve had it with that mower this year.

Elizabethe is on the hunt for a new bag.  She wants one that is narrow and will fit under an airline seat.  She’s very particular.

We looked at Best Buy, Staples, BJ’s and we even looked at tool bags at Home Depot.  Best Buy hardly carries anything in a roller bag.  Staples, the choices are a little better, and BJ’s is always hit-n-miss with those type of things.

Gift Cards

We are also hunting for gift cards for grandchildren and children.  Because we have so many to purchase, we are looking for special offers.  For example, buy $50 worth of gift cards and get a $5 gift card free.

The Hunt Goes On

The hunt goes on after we get home.  Elizabethe is looking on-line for a suitable bag.

I know my experience with finding the right camera bag was difficult.  I ended up paying about $300 for a bag that is really only worth $150 max.  Why?  Because it was the ONLY brand/model I could find.

 

 

Women

Women

Elizabethe gave an excellent talk about women in church today.  Several people came up to me and asked me to tell her how good it was.

With her permission, I am sharing it.

Elizabethe’s Talk

When I was a young teenager I wondered if we were male and female in our premortal existence or if that was part of the choice of who we are and who we will be in this earthly life. Then The Family Proclamation came along and answered my question:

“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
——From the church website under the topic of Women

“Women are a necessary part of the plan of happiness, and that plan cannot operate without them. Women participate in the work of salvation, which includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, teaching the gospel, and caring for the poor and needy. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, every woman in the Church is given the responsibility to know and defend the divine roles of women, which include that of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. They stand strong and immovable in faith, in family, and in relief. Women participate in councils that oversee congregational activities throughout the world. They also have, by divine nature, the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings.”  N Eldon Tanner 1973

From the beginning God has made it clear that woman is very special, and he has also very clearly defined her position, her duties, and her destiny in the divine plan. Paul said that man is the image and glory of God, and that woman is the glory of the man; also that the man is not without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord. You will note that significantly God is mentioned in connection with this great partnership, and we must never forget that one of woman’s greatest privileges, blessings, and opportunities is to be a co-partner with God in bringing his spirit children into the world.

A Conversation with a Client

Some years ago when I was working as a computer professional, one of my clients with whom I had worked for some time expressed his gratitude and appreciation, but asked me how a woman with such obvious intelligence and skill could belong to a religion that was oppressive to women?

I was very surprised and began to educate him a little about life for a woman in the Mormon church. I told him about how we can teach and pray and sing and lead.  The main thing I talked to him about was about how our leaders respect us and how they speak to us. If you listen to our leaders speak to our men you will hear them telling the men to do their duty and to live up their responsibilities and how they should do this. They often encourage the men to be more like the women in their devotion to the gospel. But at the Women’s Conference and when they speak to the women, they tell them, “Don’t be so hard on yourselves,” and “Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing, but don’t lose yourself in comparisons, or in always feeling that you should do more. “

I talked to him about the fact that for men there is no choice, they are to be the providers and protectors for their families. They do not have a righteous choice to NOT work. But women have the choice to work or not work as suits their needs. Women are consistently encouraged to pursue an education. Women are asked to choose wisely and not jeopardize the welfare of their family and children, but we do have a choice.

But what I most appreciate about the Lord’s plan was the freedom and the respect to allow women to be primarily homemakers and nurturers, without the burden of having to also work outside the home and provide for their families. As I went on, his attitude and understanding changed dramatically. He began to understand how much the gospel principles, when practiced according to God’s plan, free us and ennoble us to be all that we can possibly ever be.

My Mother’s Quote

My mother had a lovely quote which unfortunately, I could not find to use in this talk, of one of our church leaders asking the men to whom he was speaking to be more like the women of the church. I quoted that to him and said

Elder John A. Widtse wrote:
“The place of woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him. In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel, which is the only concern of the Church, was devised by the Lord for men and women alike” (Improvement Era, Mar. 1942, p. 161).  Spencer W. Kimball – October 1979

Within those great assurances, however, our roles and assignments differ. These are eternal differences—with women being given many tremendous responsibilities of motherhood and sisterhood and men being given the tremendous responsibilities of fatherhood and the priesthood—but the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord. . . .
Some women . . . must work. We understand that. We understand further that as families are raised, the talents God has given you and blessed you with can often be put to effective use in additional service to mankind. Do not, however, make the mistake of being drawn off into secondary tasks which will cause the neglect of your eternal assignments such as giving birth to and rearing the spirit children of our Father in Heaven. We wish you to pursue and to achieve that education, therefore, which will fit you for eternity as well as for full service in mortality. . . .
Quentin L. Cook April 2011

Author and historian Wallace Stegner wrote about the Mormon migration and gathering to the Salt Lake Valley. He did not accept our faith and in many ways was critical; nevertheless, he was impressed with the devotion and heroism of our early Church members, especially the women. He stated, “Their women were incredible.” I echo that sentiment today. Our Latter-day Saint women are incredible!

Divine Qualities

God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.

A recent United States study asserts that women of all faiths “believe more fervently in God” and attend more religious services than men do. “By virtually every measure they are more religious.”
. . . . We of course told her about the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations that are guided by women presidents. We noted that from our earliest history both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.

The recent highly acclaimed book American Grace reported on women in many faiths. It noted that Latter-day Saint women are unique in being overwhelmingly satisfied with their role in Church leadership.

Several years ago I attended a stake conference in Tonga. Sunday morning the three front rows of the chapel were filled with men between 26 and 35 years of age. I assumed they were a men’s choir. But when the business of the conference was conducted, each of these men, 63 in total, stood up as their names were read and were sustained for ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood. I was both pleased and stunned.

After the session I asked President Mateaki, the stake president, how this miracle had been accomplished. He told me that in a stake council meeting reactivation was being discussed. His stake Relief Society president, Sister Leinata Va’enuku, asked if it would be appropriate for her to say something. As she spoke, the Spirit confirmed to the president that what she was suggesting was true. She explained that there were large numbers of wonderful young men in their late 20s and 30s in their stake who had not served missions. She said many of them knew they had disappointed bishops and priesthood leaders who had strongly encouraged them to serve a mission, and they now felt like second-class members of the Church. She pointed out that these young men were beyond missionary age. She expressed her love and concern for them. She explained that all of the saving ordinances were still available to them and the focus should be on priesthood ordinations and the ordinances of the temple. She noted that while some of these young men were still single, the majority of them had married wonderful women—some active, some inactive, and some not members.

After thorough discussion in the stake council, it was decided that the men of the priesthood and the women of the Relief Society would reach out to rescue these men and their wives, while the bishops spent more of their time with the young men and young women in the wards. Those involved in the rescue focused primarily on preparing them for the priesthood, eternal marriage, and the saving ordinances of the temple. During the next two years, almost all of the 63 men who had been sustained to the Melchizedek Priesthood at the conference I attended were endowed in the temple and had their spouses sealed to them. This account is but one example of how critical our sisters are in the work of salvation in our wards and stakes and how they facilitate revelation, especially in family and Church councils.

No Apologies Needed

First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan.

I especially appreciate this element of Heavenly Father’s plan. After 20 years of raising children in a home where I was pressured to contribute financially, I have a deep and abiding appreciation of the Lord’s plan that frees us as women to be thoroughly committed to our families when they are young and they need us.

I am very grateful for Heavenly Father’s plan and to be His daughter and to know that I am loved and appreciated. I know that His plan is the best way for us to be happy in this life and in the next.

Philadelphia Temple Dedication

Philadelphia Temple Dedication

Today is the Philadelphia Temple Dedication.  Elder Eyring is dedicating it after a short cornerstone ceremony this morning.  We had to get up at about 5:30am in order to get there on time.

Marathon

There’s a marathon in Philadelphia this morning.  We’ve been warned about street closures and traffic.  So, we’re heading to the temple very early.

The Wait

We got here early.  While waiting I am getting pictures of the attending guests.

copyright 2016 db walton
Three Brothers Await the Cornerstone Ceremony

The older of the three told me last night he “thought in his mind” about this day and how he would see the temple.  He went on to talking about how he saw himself inside the temple and all the things he invisions he would be doing.  What a wonderful testimony of the importance of temples and the impact they have on our children.

Getting Set

The media was given a 4×16 foot area.  I think there were three of us crammed in to the closest 4×4 part of that.  It was cozy.

copyright 2016 db walton
People were lining up early to see the cornerstone set

Claiming my space, I walked around getting pictures of the crowds.  The lines went out the gates and around the side of the block.  Everyone was reverent and polite.

copyright 2016 db walton
People are given footlets to keep the temple clean

Once they got near the temple, they are given white footlets and then walk on carpet runners.  This is done to keep the temple clean.

copyright 2016 db walton
President Eyring Address the Crowds

The cornerstone ceremony was short and sweet.  President Eyring explained the cornerstone represents Jesus Christ.  In former days, cornerstones were laid at the start of construction.  In modern construction, it is cemented in at the end as a symbolic gesture that Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of the church.

Wonderful Feeling

We left with a wonderful feeling.  Philadelphia is truly blessed to have a temple.  The saints in the temple district are thankful and happy.

 

Empty Nest Again

Empty Nest Again

We have an empty nest again.  I took Natalie and her sons to the airport.  Of course, I cried.

The last few weeks have been wonderful.  It is nice getting to know my grandchildren better.  We did some fun activities.  Now I’m hoping my son-in-law gets a job at a big airline company so they can fly out here whenever they want.

Picking Up

While picking up around the house we have discovered a lot of things left by our children and grandchildren. While they left various food items in the refrigerator, we are also finding socks, shirts, sippy cups, toys and more.

I’m sure we’ll find more months down the road too.

Back to Work

It is time to get back to work.  I have retouching to do, emails to answer, and other work related task.  They were put on the back-burner while we had family visiting.

Here is one of the pictures I took of my granddaughter in film noir style.  Her mom wanted it to look like and old aged photo, so pardon the effect applied.

copyright 2016 db walton - Empty Nest Again
Film Noir Look

 

I also have paying client photos I’m working on too.  My work this week is cut out for me.

Cancelled

Cancelled

They cancelled my missionary meeting today.  This freed me up to do stuff with the girls and their children.  While I had this extra time in the middle of the day, Elizabethe and I still have our temple shift tonight.

They went off and did some shopping.  It is a good thing we have small fridges in the rooms.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t have room in our refrigerator.

Our plan for tomorrow is to go to the Strong Museum of Play.  We’ve never been there.  This will be a first for all of us.  Then, on Thursday we plan to drive to Harmony, Pennsylvania, and see the Priesthood Restoration Site.

Happens Every Year

Happens Every Year

It happens every year around this time.  I get a call asking if I will do a portrait in the Sacred Grove.  I explain why I don’t photograph in the Sacred Grove, and they still schedule a portrait session one I explain why.

We end up taking the portrait outside the grove,  usually with the grove in the background.  I don’t photograph inside the grove because it is a special, sacred place.  How many places on earth do you know of where God and Jesus appeared?

I can think of only a few others.  It is hallowed ground and I do my best to respect it as such.

Tonight’s family was especially fun to photograph.  A couple with their 5 adult children, their spouses, and their children had me do a big family photo and then individual family units.  Grandma and grandpa also did one with their 10 grandchildren.

What made it special for me is they were able to pull this off.  They were able to get the entire family to take time off and travel to Palmyra.  I can understand why they want the family portrait.  This is something that is only going to happen once in a lifetime.

Stressing

I have to admit I was stressing earlier in the day.  I knew it was a big group, and I was stressing about the light, my equipment being ready, carrying all that equipment 1/4 mile to the location.  In the end, I shouldn’t have stressed.  It worked well.

France

I returned home to hear France had a terrorist attack.  Last I heard over 70 people dead.  A big truck (like a semi-truck) ran in to a crowd celebrating Bastille Day.  70 people died and many others were injured.  Police shot and killed the driver before more damage could be done.

Reading in the Book of Mormon it hit me hard.  Things like this aren’t going to change until people start keeping God’s commandments, especially those dealing with morality.

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

It is Thanksgiving 2015 and I have a lot to be thankful for.  While my gratitude extends beyond this list, first and foremost, I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves me, my wife who is my best friend and eternal companion, my children and grandchildren who bring me joy beyond measure and all the bounty God has blessed me with.

Elizabethe and I have great plans for the day.  Today we are going to do absolutely nothing.  Yup, you heard me.  We are just going to lay around and be lazy.  No fancy meal.  No going anywhere.  We’re just going to enjoy each other’s company all day.

I did pick up my phone and noticed I had nearly 100 new e-mails.

Seriously?

Am I getting that many e-mails of gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving?

I looked and sure enough, they were all Black Friday invitations.  I saw them as invitations to “opt out” of their e-mail campaign.  I despise the entire “Black Friday” sales thing.  I dislike getting all of these emails too.

We bing-watched one of Elizabethe’s favorite TV shows that had recorded on the DVR.  After a couple of episodes we both commented on how unrealistic the entire show is.  I think the highlight of the TV watching was BYU TV’s Joan of Arc.  What a wonderful documentary.  I highly recommend it.

After a while, I got bored and picked up my phone and looked at Facebook.  Big mistake.

What is it about people that makes them turn to stupidity when they get on social media?

For example, one person was posting about how Christopher Columbus started Thanksgiving… huh?  Another posted an absurd list of companies that with a little research (i.e. typing the claim into Google)  would show them the list is making erroneous claims.  And those two examples don’t even begin to touch on some of the political claims.

At one point in the day I started to laugh.  Elizabethe asked what was so funny.  I looked at the clock and said, “It’s after 5pm and it is getting dark and we’ve done absolutely nothing today.  We haven’t got a single thing accomplished.”

In her sweet and loving way, she assured me that she’s enjoyed just spending the day together talking and … doing nothing.

So, I put my phone away and realized I was bored with doing nothing and suggested to Elizabethe we call it a day.

First Monday Flowers

First Monday Flowers

Today is the First Monday Event and 4 friends came over where we stat around and photographed flowers.  This was more of an exercise in doing time exposures with flashlights, but flowers make a great subject.

copyright 2015 db walton
Rose Lit by LEDs
copyright 2015 db walton
Rose Straight-on

The nice things about photographing flowers inside are 1) you don’t have to contend with the wind.  Even the slightest breeze will interfere with your picture, and 2) you can photograph from the comfort of a chair.  No fussing around with trying to get to the right height to shoot the flower.

So, it was a successful First Monday.  I’m enjoying the results of my flower pictures.

Elizabethe and I talked to a lady from Children Awaiting Parents.  They are looking for photographers to voluntarily photograph the children.  This goes right along with an idea I’ve had about starting a non-profit organization that would coordinate with photographers and adoption agencies to provide high quality portraits for the orphans’ file.  While it would be quite an undertaking, it would be a worthy cause.

The lady took us around their office and showed pictures other photographers have done.  She went down the list of the photographers they’ve used, and I didn’t recognize a single one of them.  That aside, I think I can help promote the idea and get some high-quality photographers involved.

Hark Hark Hark

Hark Hark Hark

Hark Hark Hark ’tis children’s music.  Children’s music oh, how sweet.  Yes, today was our Primary program at church.

It is one of my favorite Sundays of the year.  These children, ages up to 11, get in front of the entire congregation and sing songs and give short little talks.  It is the singing that I love.

During one of their songs, two little girls appeared to be in contest as to which one could sing louder.  Mouth open wide, the words came out loudly.  Smiles appeared on everyone’s faces as you know she was loving every moment of it.

I sat next to a guy in Priesthood Meeting who turned to me and asked about my being a Walton.  He said his daughter lives in Idaho Falls and told him she is a friend of a guy named Walton on Facebook.

I suggested we look on Facebook and see.  Sure enough, his daughter and I are Facebook Friends.  In an effort to understand how we became friends on Facebook, I asked, “Is your daughter into photography?”

“Big time,” he replied.

Well, there’s the connection.  And, it goes to show what a small world it is.

Speaking of Priesthood…

I love my Band of Brothers.  These men, many old enough to be my father, are the cream of the crop.  When I was laid up many of them stepped in to help me.  One loaned me his chair that helps you go from reclined to standing with the push of a button.  Not only did he loan it to me, he got it some of the guys to help him deliver it and set it up in my bedroom.

This is not all, a friend recently had a second brain tumor removed.  This is the second one in just a few years.  These guys have got together, and within a few days have scheduled daily rides to and from chemo-therapy for this man.  We’re talking 3-hours a day, 5 days a week for the next several weeks.  It took about 2 days for all of those ride commitments.

Next Saturday, we will all get together for a chili dinner.  After that dinner, we will join millions of other men, across the world, for our semi-annual conference.  While the conference will be broadcast on BYUTV and the Internet, I enjoy being there with these men who live in our area and watching it together.

Here’s a sample of why I love being around these men.  (click here)

 

 

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.