Monday, May 27, 2013

"Make It Go, Stretch"

Dear Uncle George:

I have a problem with too many buttons.  I mean so many options and a girl  likes options.  Except when it is necessary they be in order so that they can make things "go."

I don't like to be bothered with making things "go," so 16 years ago tomorrow I had a son so he could do it for me.   You know, turn on the TV.  The DVD.  Movies.  Nothing you know anything about, but trust me, worth it.  

It really has worked out well for me.

All I have to say is "Make it go" and the men in my life hop up, thrilled that they can serve me at anytime and my every whim.  :)  Not.

"Mom, can't you learn to do this yourself?"

 But I know I have succeeded in my mothering when he says "I know, make it go"  BEFORE I ask.  Who says all that brainwashing I did when he was young didn't paid off?

How does one retrace someone else's steps 106 years after the fact?  How does someone make a journey like this "go?"

Well, the obvious answer is there has to be some sort of footsteps recorded to retrace.

I know..brilliant deduction, eh?  Which is hard to believe that I basically failed Deductive Logic my freshman year of college.  I remember the professor running after me one day and telling me if I just tried harder, he was sure it was in there.  Ha UAA professor!  You were right, but only 26 years too early!  He would be so proud.  Wait, is this even deductive logic?

So, fortunately for me, because you were a great record keeper and meticulous about washing your feet, I am able to do just that.


Retrace.  Weird word.  When I hear the word "trace" I think of a documentary of ballerinas who are anorexic and had to trace their bodies one day on giant butcher paper so they could see a true representation of what they looked like.  It is called "body dis morphia" which I think I have because I always have thought I look like I weigh 400 pounds (which I don't, although I may or may not think I do today, so maybe I need to get some butcher paper out...)  But like your compulsive feet washing, I am sure there is some sort of medicine for me.

Here, on this stormy day (who says that 200+ people coming to my best friends house in 5 hours to eat BBQ can't be fun in a tornado?) I am thinking of some great resources.

Resources about you.

Just reading through this amazing book of your mission.  It is known as "Church History in Black and White" edited by Richard N. Holzapfel, T. Jeffery Cottle, and Ted D. Stoddard.  Richard seems to actually be one busy fella....BYU professor, editing books, writing articles, and serving as a mission president--coincidentally in the Alabama, Birmingham mission, where I served mine on visa delay (shout out to ya'll!).

I tracked him down about a year and half ago to see what he thought about my idea of the "mini mission" and he was like, "Youin' should do it."  Well, he didn't really say "youin'" like Billy Geer I taught from my time there but it makes it sound more fun.  I doubt professors say "youin" in their daily conversation....perhaps if my logic professor had, maybe I would have been motivated.

Get a copy today!

Actually, let me add my disclaimer here:  
I know these pictures stink.  But some cameras need to have some distance  to perform but when your arm is not  connected to Stretch Armstrong's body (speaking of Stretch Armstrong, let me insert a photo here that I did not take---thanks Google--and I didn't even need my personal Google Assistant Greg L. to find it for me!) a girl does the best she can.  My brother had one.  The coolest thing about Stretch is when his magic stretch body finally tore, it "bled" some sort of toxic red gel.  Stretch, like Iron Man, was vincible!  Looking at this picture below, Stretch seemed to spend a lot of time hugging himself.  They have medication for that, too, Stretch. 

Here is another example of crappy photography...oh, I mean of Church history maps and guide books.  This is by LaMar Berrett, who I don't know says "youin" or not.

As always, it is not my fault that these pictures stink.  See, the Boy and Girl are having some sleep over somewhere in the famous meth lab capital of Missouri (see Independence) and Mr. Fun is still checking his eyelids for holes.  That leaves me and the five catties, who really are pretty useless to me since they don't have opposable thumbs to hold the books up at a decent distance.  You know, as I type this, what purpose do those five cats really serve?  Hold on for minute, I gotta run an errand to the local shelter and drop five somethings off.  :)

One more picture to tease you.  Richard I have called him accidentally for the last 15 years, did another book called "Old Mormon Kirtland and Missouri."  It has been very useful, not only to me but for the others who have used it to get around when they come to visit us here in Zion.  As you can see for yourself, someone spilled something weird on it (definitely not beer because I did not take it to the party at Eddy's house.) I bet you just said to yourself, "Who the heck is Eddy?"

Uh, you were known by "Ed" or "Eddy."  Hello, Richard's black book on page 3 of the Introduction told me so. I have known a couple Eds in my life.  Ed D. who used to always say "eat, eat" when you would go to his house.  There was Eddy H. who I went to school with most of my life.

One time grade school Eddy hosted a huge kegger at his house (yeah, I was there....don't judge) (in case you are, I wasn't LDS back then)  that got busted by the cops, WAY out on the end of Funny River Road (before it was paved.)  My boyfriend went to it without me, and I remember the look of shock he had when my friends and I showed up.  There was a very good reason I learned years later but since this is supposed to be a spiritual sort of blog, it will remain a secret.  But let's say it involved a fella named Jon.  The most impressive things I remember about Eddy H. was that he had great penmanship in the 4th grade and that he got his driver license at 12 or some crazy age because the "hardship" law applied to him.

That said, I will stick with your name of George.  It is funner to say.  And it doesn't remind me of hiding in a closet from the cops.  :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Have We Met Before?

Dear Uncle George,

You know, this is not the first time I have thought long and hard about you and your photographs.

It was March 2011.

Sorry I didn't really think more about you since then, but I have been busy cruising the West Indies and surviving trying to cross the street in Calcutta.  And don't forget figuring out the new name of our 6th rescue cat (and before you get all judgmental on me, I didn't bring him home and he doesn't live in the house....I just give him little snackies so he will perhaps stop gnawing on his lower leg.  See, not my fault).

As I am known to do, I took myself on a little day trip to the nearby, but not to be confused with some amazing metropolis like Gower (no offense), town of Richmond.

As I wandered about, I took photos for fun.  No project, no purpose.  At that time, I was fully immersed in shooting the construction process of the Kansas City Temple, and visually, just needed a break.  If you want to refer back to it's amazing journey:  see here  Over 85,000 views, give or take a few.

Richmond has nothing to brag about (no offense) but it had some important LDS folks reside there.  But you already know that.  That is why you went as well.

The strange thing is that my idea of following your mission down to the day did NOT come for this idea I figured out over a bowl of won ton soup or watching "24."  Sorry, but when I am involved in those moments of nirvana, I cannot be bothered with focusing on much of anything else.

You can read about it here:

My point is, Uncle George, that perhaps we are destined to be intertwined like this.  :)  Do you like won ton soup?  If so, I'm in!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Let's Take a Field Trip

George in Independence/Kansas City:   April 24, 1907
Rose about 5:30 am.  Washed my feet.  Prayer with Elder Harris.  He then took me on to the Temple Lot.  This is a beautiful place--quiet and pleasant.  Agreeable to the eye.  I felt it a privilege to be in this land which the Prophet of the Lord designated as the center stake of Zion.  I arranged to make a picture of the mission home, when the instrument was blown over and so damaged by the wind that I could not make the picture.  I went to Kansas City.  Very windy all day. Supper at the mission headquarters and then to the office to assist with the mail.  They sent twelve sacks today.

Val:  April 24, 2013
Dude, have you heard of OCD?  It is a behavior for folks who struggle getting past certain fixations?  I think you have it.  You seem to be concerned with the cleanliness of your feet.  Just the night before you washed your feet to refresh them.  How dirty could they get in bed all night?  My boy has a therapist if you want her number. Just sayin'. 

I like how you roll.  I read with interest that your camera (the MAJOR player in this mission you are serving) blew over and broke so you took yourself on a field trip to the city to check out "for a penny to make a plate with your name on it, listen to popular songs, and test strength."  Procrastination is something we know about in this house.  But I won't rat anyone out (Mr. Fun).

April 24th has been a special day for me for the last 25 years.  It was the day I was baptized a Mormon in Anchorage.  It was a hard decision for me.  My friends were mad.  My parents didn't get it.  My boyfriend freaked out.  Initially, it was a very hard period for me.  

I read that you were baptized on 6 Jan 1869 in Salt Lake.  To Mormon immigrant parents, George and Mary Ann.  Did you know there is a strange story that comes with them?  After they immigrated (or is it emigrated? I can never remember), they crossed the plains in a wagon train.  The irony is that their wagon train leader was Brother Andrus.

So what about it, you say?  Well, besides being known for the first stake president in St. Louis as well as having about 1,000 wives (just kidding, it was only 999--jk), and of course being Mr. Fun's grandfather (and for bragging purposes, Mr. Fun comes from the first wife), Milo was that Brother Andrus.

So, Mr. Fun's great great grandfather lead my dad's great grandparents across the plains.  They knew each other.  They traveled together.  They were hungry together.  They shivered at night together.  They danced by the fire together and maybe they buried the dead together.

It must have been disappointing for George and Mary Ann to have some of their children stay Mormon and some leave the Church, my dad's grandmother being one of them.  The same said woman who gave you the journal you recorded your story of your mission in.   The same journal that I am taking your story from.  Isn't it weird how full circle life is?  When I joined the church, we had no idea that my dad was a descendant of any of you, little lone from Mormon pioneer stock.

Life for me has come so far since those first few months I joined the Mormon Church.  I married a Mormon.  I have Mormon kiddos.  I have Mormon friends.  I served as a Mormon missionary (including the walking and biking they are known for).  I have Mormon volunteer work.  And I have a testimony of Jesus Christ, who I believe to be the Saviour of mankind because I fell in with the Mormons.

This year was extra nice for me.  Jimmy, the tile guy, came over to grout my kitchen counters and walls.   And the highlight was Brother Smith stopped by.  From much as one stops over from there.  He and I have been friends for 24 years...and while I do not eat fish eyes and think they are good, we have the most important pieces of life in common.  Loving people and sharing our hope in an eternal future with God.  

One more thing.  Mail.  Do we know some mail in this house.  Not only do we know our mailmen's name of that last two homes we have lived (shout out to Blaine and Mark), but The Girl and I are singlehandedly keeping the US Postal System working.  I have always loved to send a great postcard or thank you.  The Girl, well, she is surely motivated.  At least for another 13 months and 20 days, give or take.  Boyfriend Jon, like you, is serving a mission.  In Salt Lake City (shhh....we don't say it out loud).  So you are here and he is there.  Weird, eh?

And in closing, let me just say that she would pay good money for twelve sacks of mail from him.  :)


Monday, May 6, 2013

Welcome to Zion

Written by Uncle George:  April 23, 1907
Woke up in Bison, Kansas at 4 am.  A farmer says the stone fence posts cost about $.15 each.  Windmills.  Notice the wheat is about 3 to 4 inches high.  The train brought me into to Kansas City at almost dark.  I reached the mission headquarters after 10:00 pm, 302 South Pleasant Street, Independence.  I am thankful to get out of the the noise, bustle, dust and smoke of Kansas City.  A wash and foot bath;  I felt refreshed.  A poor colored man asked me to allow him to carry my equipment.  I told him I was not going any farther.  Was hungry and wished a nickel, which I gave him.

Val: April 23, 2013
Like your mission, my mission will actually be broken up over a year span.  Like I always say, "It isn't my fault."  Just like finding myself an owner of 5 cats, sometimes things just get off my organized, detailed track.

Last year, this very day (May 6th) we were dedicating the new KC temple.  Since there is much work involved with hosting 75,000 folks and getting geared up for a prophet of GOD to stop by (hello, let's do a little cleaning shall we), some things have to be rearranged, calendar-wise.
Mr Fun gets his traffic man on

Dedication Day May 6, 2012

Don't be alarmed that I am grabbing Seth.  
I have a history of doing should ask about Chitzen Itza

I still went to Independence on the days you were there, it is just that happened a year ago.  No worries, Uncle, because I took notes!

It actually works out because I couldn't get to Palmyra last summer on August 13th anyway.  I was with my girl and Carol, and we were en route to the Star Wars Convention.  

For a fellow who has not heard of Star Wars, which by the way, I met some folks from Sweden a few years back who also had no clue what Star Wars was (there no excuse for this--they are from this century!).  As it sounds, there was a war in the stars.  :)  Just to help you visualize the movie, I am including a photo for you:

The man in black is super scary, has some kind of respiratory challenges and sired a whiny boy that is still pouting about not getting to go into to town to buy some power converters.  First world problems, Luke.

So my April 23rd, 2012 looked like this:
Laundry.  Edited some photos (of who knows what), gave three haircuts, did some housework, and it was sunny and clear.  I try to sleep in each morning as long as I can, but in spring and summer months is usually no later than 6:30 am.  I did not get the 4 am gene.

The highlight of the evening was taking Mrs. Fun, the yellow mini (but of course) down to Union Station, where you hopped off your train.  It was a pretty night.  We were escorted by Aubrey's big, studly boyfriend, Jon, who naturally we had to strap on the roof of the mini because he is just too darn big to ride inside.  We needed an escort since the city is dangerous at night, alone by a big park with some Occupy Wallstreeters nearby and he was game enough to do it.

I think we will kick off our photo adventure with a little black and white.  I want to ease you into to color.  And as you might have heard, black and white really captures the moment (see Sixteen Candles).  


Now, cutting you some slack since you had been up since 4 am, I am not going to fault you for not hauling your butt and your gear up the neighboring hill to the south to check out the city in color.  


The good news is that unlike when you were shooting and to be mindful of the cost of negatives, paper, etc...we have a full-fledge photographic free-for-all in our day and age.  It is called digital.  And it makes EVERYONE feel like they are a photographer, especially those of us who have taken a class at the public library in Edgerton.  While you had some fun photos on your trip I am sure, I have decided to add in my own flavor.  Hey!  My blog.  My rules.

When you use digital, you can take as many stupid pictures as you want!

One last note.  I liked your sentence about giving a nickel to a hungry man (we don't say "colored" in this day and age--it is considered rude).  

I, too, have given nickels here in Kansas City to those who hunger as well.  I have see much suffering of others in my day, around this world, and we should talk about it some time.  My point is good on ya.  :)