Anxious to Get Home

Anxious to Get Home

I’m anxious to get home.  It is nice seeing friends and family, but I really dislike California.  I didn’t realize how much I disliked it until this visit.

There are just enough crazy people on the freeway that it becomes scary.  I saw two cars playing cat-n-mouse and endangering everyone in their path.  I saw a LOT of very aggressive drivers, and others who are simply rude.

Just the traffic situation makes me glad I live where I live.

Spending the Day

We returned the rental car this morning.  Enterprise gave A-1 service.

After returning the car, we borrowed the van (I figured it wouldn’t overheat going to and from the NutTree).  We picked up our See’s Candy to take home, and had lunch at Rubio’s (a Mexican taco place you won’t find in NY.)

We planned to take Elizabethe’s mom to dinner, but just before we were ready to leave, Jeff and Brenda came and invited to take us to dinner.  We ate a nice dinner (ice cream) at Fenton’s.  This is my last chance to have Fenton’s Swiss Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Fenton’s Caramel Sauce.

To the Airport

After dinner, Marilyn took us to the Sacramento Airport.  We’re on our way home.

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.

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.

2016 Annual General Conference

2016 Annual General Conference

Today was the 2016 Annual General Conference.  This is always my favorite weekend of the year.  I gladly give up all other activities this weekend (and it seems to be the most popular weekend for organizations to hold activities) to participate in General Conference.

Think about it, will you, that for 10 hours you can listen to prophets, seers and revelators.  It’s the modern day equivalent of sitting   at the feet of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Moses.

A few years ago, I mentioned that to a co-worker.  He asked, “So, did they share any epiphanies?”

I could sense some sincerity in his voice, yet a bit of skepticism.  His question caught me off guard.  I had to think.  Since then I’ve tried to listen more closely to the speakers.

So, what stood out from today’s comments?

  • It was reiterate that what is said in General Conference is spoken by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and is the mind, will and word of the Lord.
  • A warning was given to those who discount what is said in General Conference.
  • President Uctdorf warned against discarding family relationships and encouraged us to maintain and strengthen them.
  • President Monson urged priesthood holders to live in such a way that they can exercise their priesthood.

Tomorrow we have 2 more 2-hour sessions.  Much more will be said.

You can watch Conference here:  https://www.lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng


The Priesthood Chili Dinner went well.  Last year, we ran out of food.  This year, we had plenty.  It was a good meal and as always, good company.

This year there was also more corn bread.  I really like a good cornbread, and this time there were some very good ones.  (One brother, John Rutkoski, always brings good cornbread.  We joked about how he was the first and I was a second witness that cornbread goes with chili.)

As I left the Priesthood session I was surprised at the 1″ of snow on the ground.

 

Restoration

Restoration

I used to laugh when I’d hear people at the phone company use the word “restoral” instead of “restoration”.  In fact, I still would.  I do photo restoration, not photo restoral.

Three old photos delivered to me by a client were in need of restoration.  If they could only talk.  Old pictures have a story to tell.  I guess that is why it is so important to preserve the images.

It is also important to preserve stories.  I wish I could convince my family of that.  My blog is proof that I’m convinced of that.

While most of the time I write about the present, I need to take time to write some old stories from childhood.  I recall my daughter Amber (mostly, some of the other girls asked too) asking, “Dad, will you tell me a story about when you were a boy?”

Well, here goes…

The Electric Fence

We lived on Teal Avenue north of Pocatello near the Green Triangle and adjacent to the Thunderbird Drive-in.  There were only three houses on the street, and they were building more.

I found the breaker box on the utility pole and somehow (how?  I’m not sure.  I was only about 5 or 6) understood that electricity was in that box.  And, I somehow knew if I connected a wire at the top of the fuse and at the bottom I would have ELECTRICITY.

So, I turned it off with the large lever on the side.  Poked one end of the wire in to the top of the fuse, and the other end in to the bottom of the fuse.

I then began to place long stakes about 4 feet apart and stringing the wire around each stake to create an “electric fence”.  It was an area about 30′ in diameter.  I then threw the switch in to the on position and POP.  Sparks everywhere.

I guess it was then I realized that  you can’t put 110v AC through a loop of wire and have an electric fence, but you could create a lot of orange, yellow and white sparks.

That was my first and last attempt at making an electric fence, but it wasn’t a failure.  I still maintained my interest in electricity and electronics.

copyright 2016 db walton
Me Around 1959 or So

Coming Home Today

Coming Home Today

I’m coming home today.  After a week long tour in Tennessee, it will be nice to come home.

My shoes were nearly worn through and I had about 2 hours before I needed to be at the airport.  I went to the factory outlet mall near the Grand Ol Opry.  None of the stores were open yet, so I waited it out in the car until they opened and then went in and bought some new shoes.

From there I filled the tank on the rental car with gasoline and headed to the airport.  Once at the airport I noticed many of the airport shops had souvenirs that the stores in town did not have.  One was moonshine hot sauce.  It doesn’t contain any alcohol, but vinegar and peppers.  So, I bought a couple of small bottles — one for Elizabethe’s miniature shelves, and the other to actually taste the stuff.

The flights home went smoothly, and before long I was back on the ground in Rochester.  I didn’t realize how much better traffic was until I got back here.  It was so nice to be back home.

Elizabethe called me when I was in Egypt asking how far I was from home.  She then requested I call when I’m nearing the driveway.  Hmm… I was wondering what she was up to.

Elizabethe met me in the driveway and asked me to come with her to show me something.  I was wondering if a tree broke or something like that.

We got to the back north-east corner of the yard and she showed me a circular patio.  A while back I drew out my idea for a circular patio for a fire pit so we could sit with guests around an open fire and roast marshmallows and enjoy the fire.  I was blown away.

What blew me around more was she explained how she had asked friends and family to pitch in with both money and labor to get this built.  I was just blown away to the point where I teared up I was so touched.  She told me they have been invited to come tomorrow for a BBQ.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to Lowe’s to purchase the fire pit.  I’ll take pictures once it is all put together.

2014 Mothers Day

2014 Mothers Day

The nice thing about Mother’s Day is you don’t have any extra church meetings.  The nicer thing is, the Primary Children sing during Sacrament Meeting.  Sitting on the stand, I don’t get to see their faces, but the faces of the moms was worth it. The elders are coming for dinner so I made a cake for dessert with lots of pecans.  I also made fried rice and chao bao chicken for dinner.  (I hope I got the right name for the chicken dish.)

One of the speakers in church, talking about mothers, quoted someone who said if you add mothers out of the movies and TV shows you remove much of the conflict.  They pointed out that much of our entertainment is without strong mother figures.

Of course, my biggest contention with entertainment today is a total disregard for family.  Family gets defined as those whom you work with or your friends.  What a bunch of dysfunctional crock.

Take many of your leading characters (and I’ll start with shows I watch):

NCIS – Leroy Gibbs – mom’s out of the picture, and he doesn’t get along with dad too well.
NCIS L.A. – “G” Calhan – Orphan
Blue Bloods – probably the best show on TV as far as family values, but  mom’s gone, grandma’s gone, one son is married, daughter divorced

I think you get the picture.

Now, the sitcom Last Man Standing, I think it does a fairly decent job with the mom character, but then sitcoms are made to make people laugh, and sometimes, those laughs are at the expense of decency — or poking fun at a family member.  Take the show I Love Lucy.  Both Ricky and Lucy were brunts of the jokes; neither came across as highly intelligent.  That said, the show normally had a decent moral message.

A new sitcom recently came on — Surviving Jack.  Elizabethe and I started to watch a couple of episodes, but the themes became obvious and were targeted at the pre-pubescent male.  I don’t find vulgarity funny.  Now, what we saw before it got bad could have lead to some funny stuff.  The dad’s a hard-nosed doctor who has a funny form of discipline.  I got a kick out of the opening of the show where he was using a leaf blower and implied he was going to use it to do the dishes.  (You’ve got to admit, the visual imagery of someone using a leaf blower to clean dishes in the kitchen is funny.)  But, you throw in vulgarity and it stops being funny and moves to the realm of disgusting.

Good moms are the glue that holds society together.  Good moms, coupled with good dads, are the building blocks for people who turn in to good citizens and parents.

A little something to watch…

https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation

The Heat Wave of February

Wow, has it warmed up today.  This morning everything was frozen solid, and then as the day progressed, it all started to melt.  Then, it started to rain, and things melted even more.  Then, around dinner time, it started to snow like crazy, but the snow soon turned to rain.

Can you say, “Slushy?”

I gave a presentation at the Tri-County Networkers about destination vacation photography.  Here’s the concept…

When you go on a very important vacation, rather than be absent from the photos (or having a loved one absent from most of them), and rather than missing out on all too precious candid photos, hire ME!  A destination vacation photographer.

What does it cost?

Well, that all depends on the duration of your trip and my expenses.  As to my expenses, get me there, pay for any travel, taxes and fees associated with getting me there, as well as transportation to and from the airport and parking while there, provide me with lodging and meals, and pay a modest fee for my services.

What do you get?

You get all of the digital files sized as 600×400 pixels and sized at 4×6 inches x 300 dpi.  The former you can use on social media and send in e-mails, the latter you can print up to 4×6 inches.  This includes any landscape or scenic images I shoot.  You also get a letter from me stating you have a limited use license to print 4×6 prints and display the images in the Internet.  (Note, the limited parts are these:  You cannot sell or use the images for commercial purposes – i.e. if you had your own business, the license doesn’t allow you to use the images in advertising.  Any prints larger than 4×6 I ask you purchase the prints directly from me so I can guarantee the quality.)

What do I do?

I try to be as unobtrusive as I can so I don’t interfere with your vacation.  I follow you around and get pleasing candid photos of you and your family.  At your request, I am always close by so you can say, “Hey, Brent, get a picture of use with Mickey Mouse”, or “Make sure that mountain is in the background,” or whatever the case may be.  I’m basically at your beckoned command.

My typical goal is 300 images a day.  I average about 400.  There have been days I’ve shot as many as 1000.  But, for a week vacation, you might easily expect around 2500 to 3000 images.  I typically deliver the images on media you provide.  (i.e. a USB drive of some sort).

What if we want some private time?

If you want private time, you simply tell me and tell me when and where to meet you for more photos.  You can invite me to eat with you, or you can send me off to eat by myself.  You can engage me in conversation or you can ask me to site quietly and only speak when addressed.  It’s all up to you.

Here are some sample photos…

copyright 2014 db walton
Sample Candid Picture While on a Tour
copyright 2014 db walton
Sample Candid Photo

 

And, here is a “posed” photo…

copyright 2014 db walton
Posed Photo

And, here is a photo of one of the scenic sights of the trip…

copyright 2014 db walton
Scenic Photo (Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem)

As to the nitty gritty…

I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, or other disruptive activities.  I have a passport and I’m ready to travel. I’m not real picky about foods and I’m adventurous.

So, whether you’re going to be going on a local day-trip, or an extended vacation abroad, I’m the photographer for the job.

D. Brent Walton is a Certified Professional Photographer and Photographic Craftsman with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and an active member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).  He is fully insured for both liability and indemnity.  You can see his work at www.dbwalton.com and www.FineArtbyDB.com

 

Home Teaching and Family

I once home taught a family whom I was told will only allow Brother Walton to enter their home.  I remember feeling frustrated that nothing was happening in their lives, but at least they’d talk to me.  It wasn’t until I was released as their home teacher that the husband became active.  I was happy, but at the same time questioned my abilities as a home teacher.  Why didn’t they get active when I was their home teacher?

Back in the mid 1990s, I home taught another family.  I will be the first to admit, I’m not the greatest home teacher.  I struggle with getting out each month and often question whether I’m doing any good.  I don’t believe in just going through the motions, however, yet often times, I feel that is exactly what I’m doing — going through the motions.

Occasionally, I connect with a family I’ve been assigned.  That’s a good feeling, but what is an even better feeling is when a family connects with you.  Even better yet is when you both connect.

And, so it was with this family.  There was a connection.

A few years ago, through social media, I re-connected with this family.  Over the last few years, I’ve been kept abreast of happenings within the family:  divorce, struggling to make needed changes, struggling to get active in the church, re-marriage, being sealed in the temple, daughter deciding to serve a mission and new additions to the family.

You never know what’s going to happen.  I’m just happy I got assigned to home teach her family way back when she was a young mother married to a guy who wasn’t a member of our church.  I thought for sure he’d join the church and the two of them would get active.  Little did I know that marriage wouldn’t last, and neither would her next one.  Little did I know she’d meet a guy who was taking the missionary discussions.  Little did I know he’d join the church, marry her, and take her to the temple and they would be sealed.  Little did I know her daughter would decide to serve a mission.  You just don’t know what is going to happen.

All of this has renewed my faith in home teaching.  I honestly can’t take credit for any of this; I’m just thankful God gave me the opportunity to get to know her and see how her life has been blessed.  And so it is with home teaching:  Sometimes you shouldn’t get caught up in believing you are there to do something.  Just go along for the ride and trust that God will work his miracles.

And, since my home teaching is done for this month, next month when I knock on the door of one of my less-active families, I’ll take hope in knowing that someday I may be hearing about a visit to the temple, or a son or daughter leaving on a mission and I’ll say to myself, “I remember when I used to home teach them.”

copyright 2013 db walton
Merry Christmas

Grandpa Again

This morning around 4am (MT) another grandchild was born.  Natalie and Ben are now the proud parents of this little guy…

Grandson
Latest Edition to the Family

It was exciting to get the news.  Natalie went in last night and they induced her in fear of complications.

Being a grandparent is one of life’s greatest rewards.  I do wish we lived closer to our children and grandchildren, but as they are all spread out, throughout the United States, Elizabethe and I are thankful for the Internet and modern technology that keeps us in touch.

—–

Last night I took my new purchase, a Canon 40mm f2.8 Pancake lens, to the Sacred Grove and Smith Farm.  I will write more about this lens in my blog at http://www.dbwalton.net.  In the mean time, here’s a photograph from this morning.  (Something that new grandchild can look back at and say, “This was the morning I was born.”)

copyright 2013 db walton - all rights reserved
Cornfields Outside Macedon Center, New York
copyright 2013 db walton - all rights reserved
Lily in My Garden, copyright 2013 db walton – all rights reserved

 

—–

The Palmyra Pharmacy had it’s grand opening tonight.  It was a whose-who of Wayne County in attendance.  We had our Senator Mike Nozzolio, Assemblyman Bob Oaks, Mayor Chris Piccolo, former Mayor Vicki Daly, and lots of businesses owners and local residents in attendance.

copyright 2013 db walton
Ribbon Cutting

 

By the way, please note, all contents of this blog, including photographs and text, are copyrighted.  Any reproduction, copying, re-posting, distribution, etc., is prohibited by law unless legally licensed from the copyright owner.   Although this copyright is not required by law, it is being mentioned as courtesy to keep the unknowing from legal consequences.