Sunday, October 27, 2013

Am I (in) Wicked? Not so much

Written by Uncle George:  May 1, 1907
Lunch on the train--eggs, cookies, prunes etc. Made a view of Quincy while waiting for the train.  On to the boat without a moment's delay.  Mississippi River.  A new experience for me.  Arrived in Nauvoo.  Went to bed at hotel about one and half miles uptown.

Val:  May 1, 2013
I had a couple hash browns and imported grapes from Chili for breakfast. I would have preferred some prunes because I live like an old lady most days, but they weren't on the menu.

And if you have ever driven through Chillicothe, Wheeling, Kearney, Hamilton, and Marceline to name just a few, you would know that just finding hash browns is a feat in itself.  Humanitarians would call this stretch of land a "food desert."

We are not in Independence anymore, Toto.
Welcome to rural Missouri.

The Grand River-- flooded.

Wheeling is the home of the Girls State Basketball Champions... in 1975.

No cell service.

I saw chickens running around in someone's front Kansas City.  A yard that should now be listed as an honorable mention in "Rural Landscaping in the City for Dummies."

I saw Jim Saccaro lives in Brookfield, which means nothing to anyone except his family I suppose. Well, them and me.  His nephew, Nicholas, is a great guy and seeing their last name makes me instantly smile.

Marceline is the boyhood home of Walt Disney.  His dad owned the butcher store.  Main Street Disneyland looks just like Main Street Marceline. The Great Locomotive Chase cartoon is a shout out to the rail road that runs through town.

I am also a fan of Marceline because it has a Sonic, home of scrumptious lemonade with real strawberries. Something I could not get if I were on had traveled by train like you.

No lemonade in sight

And you also know, besides liking a good lemonade when I am in the mood, I like to take the scenic byways.  One this trip was Hannibal, MO.
I know Hannibal.  

I hadn't been there before BUT when I was in the 6th grade, I was cast as Aunt Polly in the Tom Sawyer play/movie.  I had to sing.  I had to dance.  I was videoed, which it really is a true crime that no one knows where that bad boy video ended up....not.

Pat M., the kid who had a significant identity crisis and lacking some serious tethering to reality in regards to the fact that he thought he was Arthur Fonzerelli (aka The Fonz), was Tom.   And it is a sad tale to report that he grew up to have a not-so-settled story and that his Fonzie years were, unfortunately, his best.

I had a pink gingham dress, complete with shawl, and they made me wear a scratchy, grey wig.  And spectacles.  I loved that dress but hated it, too, because you couldn't wear a bra with it.  Not that I had much concern in that particular area, but I always felt immodest without knowing what it was called.  I was so uncomfortable about it as a matter of fact, that when they filmed our part of the movie, I had the teacher make everyone leave the room so they wouldn't see me.  I guess that is a the price of payment when you pick the only girl with a gingham dress in town to play the part.

I didn't see too much gingham print when I saw the "Wicked" play last week.  Which the end of the first act...holy hannah.  I didn't get to fly up into the sky in my play.  Now I know why I didn't make it to Broadway. Stupid flying.

Since Hannibal and I had met before in 1981 in the music room of Soldotna Elementary, I decided to have a snack and enjoy it's feeling.  A little picnic on the Mississippi River. Yep, it was nice.  Yep, it was quiet. Yep, I bought a Japanese teacup to remember my time because nothing evokes a nice memory of Hannibal, Missouri like a teacup made in Japan during WW2.
On to Quincy. 
Just when you think it is not possible to stuff another moment's fun into this day filled with no internet, wait!  There's more!

Quincy doesn't look like it has changed much.  A little dirtier.

But I do have a good Holy Ghost story.

I was driving around looking for your picture place.  You would not think that it would be hard to find the highest point in a town of about 413 folks, but it was. Street after street I could not find the space I should be.  And I knew it.

Sometimes, even I am not too dense to know when to pull the car over to ask for help from Heavenly Father.  So I did.  His voice told me to drive north two streets and turn left.  I did and came to some screwy T weirdness in the road.  His voice told me to keep going west, even though the T was not very inviting.

Sure enough.  There is was.  The park and its entrance I needed.

For some reason, this photograph made the mission real.  That we literally were standing in the same place.  The same day.  I know it sounds dumb, but today it was real.  And I cried.

Only the General saw my tears.

Nauvoo, the Beautiful.

It really is, you know.  Beautiful.

A flowing creek waterfall welcomes you town.

You turn a hilly corner, and you are greeted by the temple.

A pioneer history complex.

What is not beautiful about these things?

The sun was going down and I had an urgency to get as many shots as I could.  I was basically running from place to place with no explainable reason.  "Why run, Val?" I said to myself. I have three more days here.  Why run?

The flowers were gorgeous.

The temple was gorgeous.

The sunset was gorgeous.

After sunset, I had myself some real food (see ya, hashbrowns).

While the day was long and weird, I think my hotel selection was my favorite thing.  It was in the Hotel Nauvoo.

So what you say?  It used to be called The Oriental Hotel....the same hotel you stayed in.  :)
(but let's be real, there isn't a single oriental person, place or thing within about 300 miles from here)

Obviously they wanted to keep it as authentic as when the pioneers were there...because there was no internet.  For four days.  FOUR days.  Four DAYS.

It looks like it is going to be a long, isolated four days. But you survived, so I know I can.

With, or without, some prunes.  :)


Friday, October 4, 2013

The Queen of Cow Towns

Written by Uncle George:  April 27, 1907
Feel very well satisfied with the record made of the temple lot pictures.  This eve visited the main business part of town.

Val:  April 27, 2012
My day, today, seemed to be connected to dead men.  Not that I am a "deadist" like being a "racist" or a "ageist" but it is a bit disturbing to be spending your day thinking about not only one, but two dead guys.

Fortunately, I had to The Girl with me so it made it feel less weird.

Love note to dead man #1

You are ready to hit the road and get the "hell (uh, Mr. Fun...I'm quoting) out of Dodge" as my dad would say.  For years I wasn't sure that Dodge was a real town.  It is a real place, found in the great state of Kansas.  Since moving to the mid west,I have brushed up on my geography.  I can hear The Girl now..."You don't know where Dodge is?  What did they teach you at school in Alaska?"  Well, why did I care to know where Dodge is?  I was in Alaska.  Now, Nebraska and it's farm strong folks....that is of interest to me (maybe be Alaska and Nebraska rhyme) use for that knowledge.

She had the same reaction when I learned that Julius Caesar was a real guy (a couple weeks ago).  I thought it was just a title like "President."  No one here was named President.  And imagine if that was their name and they won the office of President they were be called President President.  But as a side note, don't bring up the President or anyone else who works for the government.  Sore subject this week.

Dodge is also otherwise known as the "Queen of the Cow Towns."  For reals.  It just doesn't have the same ring, does it?  "Let's get the hell out of the Queen of the Cow Towns."  I can't see my dad saying that.

This day was a Saturday so I wanted to make a pit stop and give you one last Independence shout out.  But it didn't start well.

The freeway was closed.

Instead a mass of folks for the group picture, I had one.  The Girl, who is still questioning my intelligence.

I hit every light on the freeway-closing detour (holy cow, significant first world problems).

And I was in a hurry.  "Oh Val, do tell us why!"

I was the guest speaker at a Hospice Luncheon.  And I had the picture frames that had the gifts for the guests.  They were framed prints, and even in the back of the tight-spaced Mini, they still slide all around.  I was waiting for one of them to careen into the back of my head.  And The Girl thought I was dumb before.

My talk was about care giving our bestie:  Tom.

There are a number of blog entries in another space if you are so inclined to find it, but suffice it to say it was an honor to speak of him.

Here is a great picture of him.  Before he got sick.

I guess the Hospice folks think our story is a good example of a good example because after this luncheon, I spoke at their company retreat for 400 and then later sat on a panel of religious diversity.  There was the Amish, a Jew, a Muslim (who refused to sit next to me) and me, the Mormon.  Sounds like we should be walking into a bar or something, right?  :)  Which none of us would, I think. But I don't know. We didn't discuss that at the panel.

Speaking of drinking, the day was so long that when I got home, I had not one but TWO virgin pina coladas.  One for each hand.  An idea I learned from a song by Garth Brooks I heard on my radio...I bet a song the Amish don't know (radio...get it? he he)  

This picture isn't of that day--it wasn't my first time, but you get the drift.  The Girl is "photobombing" me.  Notice her hand?  I can't tell you what that means in Alaskan terms, but suffice it to say that some drunk guy explained it all to me when I was waitressing the night shift at the local town cafe.  And all I can say is "oh my."

One more thing about this trip...I forgot the camera.  Hello, the whole point of this mission.

Sadly, this is not the only time I will forget to bring the camera when going to your history site.  I think I forget because my brain is swimming in important knowledge like where Dodge is and would my dad would really say "Queen of the Cow Towns."


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just Breath

Dear Uncle George,

I have had to take a small step back from the photo world, away from its sorting, weeding, editing, taking, blah blah blahism so that I can do some really interesting things.

Like vacuuming.  Paying bills.  And sometimes making dinner.

Seeing all these animals in one place actually 
is very embarrassing.  

Actually, Heavenly Father knew what timing would be exactly right for me to start my mission.  Life has been driving the car as The Boy's therapist says, which in psychology world is apparently a bad thing.  Well, she doesn't say "bad" but some nice 11th grade word like "undesirable."  Coming from Alaska, we prefer the phrase "jacked up" whether we have an 11th grade education or not.  Whatever the phrase is for the mid west, it happened to me.

You can read all about here:
(In Rotary, when we cross different programs to promote each other, we call that "cross pollination."  And in Alaska, my dad calls it "North Road, cross-eyed, ***** inbreeding.")

It is all different now.  It is strange, weird and wonderful.  But only to an extent.

Most people are running around this country with their "hair on fire" (not be confused with "Man On Fire"--a very violent 10 year old movie that we finally saw edited last night---well, all but the last 15 minutes because the "tape" ran out--speaking of tape, duct tape anyone?--which growing up, duct tape was such a precious commodity in my house that the tape literally had an entire kitchen drawer to itself.  Creasy Bear must have stopped by my old Alaska house which is now a thrift store to pick some up--which to answer your question, no, I cannot see Russia--but some pretty dang amazing mountains).

 This is Fun's parent's porch

People are sooooo busy letting their life drive them that many of them would pay a zillion dollars to have a more time.

Now that we, as a family (because I mean really, if it is happening to someone in the family, it really is happening to everyone--yep, learned that in the $261/hour psychology session) have survived so many things, not just this summer but in the last several years, things are going SO good right now it almost scares me.

Like having too much free time. For some folks, it can be "undesirable."  Some folks like me.

It is not that I make bad choices with my free time. I am not looking at naughty things on the internet or sitting home watching Jerry Springer. I am not spending too much money at the Wal-Mart or eating fancy meals somewhere fancy like Overland Park.  Or Trimble.

It is just that I am a worker.  A "builder" as Foster Sister Juni said to me once."There are builders and there are takers," she said.  I bet she would be surprised I remember that conversation.  Especially since it was years ago and seriously, I cannot remember what I did Thursday.  But in two months, I will remember what I did on Thursday after it has processed through the Rolodex of my epileptic mind.

I didn't realize how much time RYLA--Leadership Academy really required.  I didn't realize there are some pieces that I will miss terribly.  And there are some things I will not.

I will miss these kinds of life changing moments for kids

I will miss seeing the talented kids 

Most of all, I will miss the amazing people who I have loved and worked with for a decade.

But now is my time, I have figured out, to focus on myself.  Which, looking at those words, it is very out of character for me to say it.  Focusing on myself is not something I do.  It is not my style.  It is not my nature.  

But it is necessary.  And somewhat....sorta....kinda welcomed.

I feel guilty about taking alone walks everyday.  I feel guilty that my schedule is not packed to the gills and that I actually have days in a row on the calendar that I have unconsciously and consciously carved out for myself.  What does a girl do with all this time?

Projects at home.


Travel.  Travel.  And travel some more.

See things like art museums, have snacks like herbal Chinese water in a fancy teacup, and watch "America's Top Model" with the family (don't let Mr. Fun trick you, he watches too...we can't stand Alexandra and Jordan...just get over it Jordan....perhaps she needs The Boy's psychologist phone number).

And breath.  As that Faith Hill song says "just breath."
So, as I catch my breath, I have learned some things about myself.

I like club dance music.  Not the extended versions.   I don't know what they are saying but I like the beat. Super duper loud.  I am losing my hearing anyway, so what do I care. jk

I like traveling alone.

I like to text.  So handy.

I like walking three or four miles alone everyday.

I like to be able to look at my images more objectively which I can then weed faster.

I like not taking pictures of people.  I already knew that, but it is really clear to me.

I like having a clean table.

I like having a new porch roof.  I REALLY like that.

I like reading books about modern art and a Jesus book that is not LDS.  There is some really really good stuff in there about how I can improve my relationship with The Savior.

I like to listen to one song over and over when I am working on the computer.  I mean for hours.  The first time I did it is when we listened to "Flash Gordon" for 5-6 hours, blaring.  It was the day we buried Tom and he loved that song.

I like recollecting of the amazing life I have been blessed with.

I like giving stuff away.

I like do small acts of service.  No organization.  No expectation.

I like thinking about my past.  The friends that we have known before we got to Missouri.  Sometimes I miss them so much that the other day I cried in the kitchen while making Hawaiian Haystacks.  Fortunately, I had my Rotary medal on which made me feel better.  Sometimes I wear it when I cook because, I mean really, where else can a girl wear a medal?  

Foster Sister Juni and Sheri
We have been friends since 9th grade.  Eh, just a mere 30 years.

Tiel and I have been friends 24 years.
You know where we met?  Leadership camp.  In Alaska.
Natalie and Cheryl
I consider these ladies some of my best friends I never see.

Man, I love me some Rotarians

It has been "cathartic" (this has to be a college word--thanks VT Alanna) to define myself again.

I am learning to like it.  A lot.

With this breathing "treatment" comes so new adventures.  New loves in my life to be enjoyed.

And of course, my photography mission.

Boy Scout Centennial

Temple Gold Leafing
Wet again.  Sensing a theme here

Thanks for listening to the ramblings of some great-grand niece you haven't met.  Yet.

One more thing, speaking of Rotary, I am "back in the boat" as Dave says.  Word is getting out and it won't be long that I will have plenty to keep me busy.

Breathing treatment will be over. 

And that is "desirable."  :)
Love,  Valsy