Monday, July 7, 2014

Who needs a memory? I have a camera.

Dear Uncle George,

If you weren't dead and I was a better texter, I would pull a sort of Britney Spears and text you a note.

And it would read something like this..."We need a break."

I know the last time I wrote on this blog was in March.  It isn't because I don't love you.  It isn't because I needed a break then.  But I do now.

I have been busy.  I hate it when people say that.  I hate it that everyone tells everyone else how busy they are.  Like a badge of honor.  "I am busy.  So busy.  So super busy.  Look at me.  My busy is so much busier than your busy that I barely have time to tell you how busy I am."  I hate it as an excuse.  But it is the truth.  And today, it is mine.

And of course, since my Sea Monster is broken I can't tell you what I have been so busy doing.  You certainly could read all about why I don't know what I have been doing the last four months, but I don't remember which post it was.  But that said, I do remember I wrote one.  And it had some creepy picture of some body part from the stem of a brain.   Nice.  Everybody likes a visual.

Wait!  I have the answer.  I will look at my photography files!

So, I know I took a trip to California to have a tea party with my niece who is my Mini Me (little shout out to Willie Nelson "Free Willie" t-shirt circa 1974)

I know that I went to "Take Your Child To Work Day" with my dad.  So what that I am the oldest one ever in the history of the world to do it.

Personal time was short.  Then I had the whole photography missionary gig to do.

Welcome to spring in the Midwest.  This is Orrick, Missouri.  Home of a F-3 tornado. 
Gee, I sure could have used my dad's hard hat here.

I welcomed home about 25 World War 2 vets from an Honor Flight.  This fella was about 90.  Look how good his skin looks.

I saw a bunch of happy Mormons help the city of Independence beautify a park for kids with special needs.

AND I made a new best friend named Jason or Travis.  I think.  What I particularly liked is that he gave me a tour of his "ink."  And recommended a artist in Blue Springs.  Bless his heart, however, I am true blue loyal to a guy named John Monk.  That is of course, if I finally ever give in and get a henna on my hand.  

(I think his name actually is Jason Mason--for reals)

Hung out with 12 amazing other Missourians at a leadership academy.

Enjoyed every sunset I could get my eyes on.

Collected some money for the poor 

Welcomed home Boyfriend from his two year mission.  
The Girl waited faithfully the entire time.

Saw some really cool looking people.

Enjoyed a pretty spring at the Temple

A pretty wet spring.  :)

Here is where I am at right now....I am leaving in two days to go west.  I am going to drive the Mormon Pioneer Trail from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City Utah then to San Diego, California.  

Then I will drive the Mormon Battalion Route home though the Southwest.  

Of course Mrs. Fun will be my chariot.  And I will be gone about a month.  And, once again, I am going alone.

Even you won't be with me, since you didn't do this trip.  I guess that we did your mission last summer.   And now I will do mine.  


Monday, March 10, 2014

My Fun Tank Is Full

Written by Uncle George:  May 4, 1907
Rose before 6:30 am.  Ice one quarter inch thick. Turned out a beautiful day.  Made a number of negatives. We made a view of casks, barrels, and wine cellar of Arthur Cambre, who left this property to Benedictine sister, who had the wine emptied out, twenty thousand gallons running down hill.  Dull and cloudy in the afternoon.

Val:  May 4, 2013

Dear Uncle George,

My fun tank regarding Nauvoo is full, as Dave says. Or my wine barrel as you wrote.  Either way, it is beyond full, actually.

I am sick of rain. I am sick of being cold. I am sick of no internet.  I am sick of only eating eggs and toast (well, not really--but I added that in for dramatic effect).  I am sick of reruns of "Golden Girls" on the only station that comes in.  And I am lonely.

You and I, we travel the same.  We go it alone.  We take our time, both on the road and at the sights.  You develop your glass plates when you find a place to do it and I download my images to the "crap top" as The Girl calls it with the sticking space bar and slow internet (hey now, slow is better than none I say). I can't edit because the monitor is too fuzzy, so even after they are downloaded, I can't cull them.  Sometimes, I can't even really tell ifthey (hello sticky space bar) are fuzzy ornot.  Which is nerve-racking because if they are blurry, then I won't know until I get home and then not only will I have wasted my time in 2013 doing these images but then I will have to use more of Mr. Fun's money and come back again in 2014.

Which I know he will really, really love.  Not.
And about the lonely thing.  I am not one who feels lonely.  I remember consciously feeling lonely only a handful of times in my whole life.

Recollecting, I know exactly the time I was the loneliest.

I had traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark for a week on my way to Sweden for a Rotary conference.  I was by myself.  It was not my first time traveling alone or far.  However, it is the first time I arrived somewhere and did not have a place to go.  I was staying in some guy's apartment who had crappy art and it was early morning when I got there.  And he was gone.  All day.  (Yeah, regarding staying in some stranger's apartment...uh, don't tell my parents.  Or my husband).

And you thought I was kidding about the crappy art.
It was of an eskimo dragging a bloody, dead seal 
across the tundra.

So there I was, in broad daylight, in a parking lot in some random country were I didn't speak the language. I had a giant suitcase and carry on.  A single woman.  And I was exhausted from the trip.  Did I mention that it was a grocery store parking lot?  Lots of folks wandering by.  Lots of folks.

Uh, yeah.

I knew there was no way that I was going to be able to stay awake.  So do I lay down in the trees where no one can see me? Or do I sleep in the parking lot?

I slept in the parking lot. On top of my suitcase.  With the carry on as my pillow.  And all the folks wandering by.

I was so afraid.  I didn't know a single person in a country of 5.5 million people.  And I couldn't speak to them even if I could.

Sometimes, one IS the loneliest number.
Nauvoo had nothing on that day in Copenhagen.  Like today.  I saw a guy photographing eagles on the side of the road.  And a sign that September 8th, there will be Mule Festival in Kahoka, which I am not sure where that is since I don't know what state I was driving  through at the time.  There was a giant bull statue by a gas station.  And on the radio (how appropriate) "Small Town" by John Mellencamp (he dropped the Cougar years ago...I don't know, as it was the coolest part of his name).  Wait, let me google it.

The answer:  Cougar was his stage name, he hated it, so he ditched it.  And he was born in 1951, which makes him really really old.

Man, by the time I finish looking up everything on the google, I am pretty sure I am going to be the smartest chick on the planet.  Just sayin'.

Temple Lot

Nauvoo House Cornerstone
that held the Book of Mormon Transcript

Snow-Ashby Duplex

Old Wine Cellar

Corner of Bane and Water Street

Water Street

Red Brick Store

Val's Nauvoo Pictures

Here are some shots from Nauvoo that I really enjoyed.  It rained so much that everything was bolder in color and contrast.

An unexpected sight in Nauvoo

I loved loved the hearts inside the flower

Relief Society Room in the Old Red Brick Store

 Memorial of Joseph and Hyrum Smith
I think I saw every person in Nauvoo climb under those horses

I am not gonna lie.  This is one of my favorite pictures from the Nauvoo trip.
This is in the middle of literally no where.
Proof that if you don't manage your money right in Hollywood, 
you end up dead in a field in Missouri.

Lesson learned, Herbie the Love Bug.

So, I thought I was done with Nauvoo pictures, but today, perusing through them, I realized I have some more that I need to share.  So, psych!  The Nauvoo fun is NOT over yet.  

Where are those barrels full of wine, again?  :)


Friday, January 31, 2014

Let Me Check My Notes

Written by Uncle George:  May 3, 1907
Decided to go to Carthage with Elders Rassmussen and Ralphs.  Brother Charles took us over in a surrey. Cloudy and cold.  Visited the jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith and Patriarch Hyrum Smith were killed. Saw the hole in the door made by the bullet, the window from which the prophet jumped.  Such a cold, stormy day that we did not remain long.  It was after 9:00 pm when we reached Nauvoo and thankful to get shelter from the cold. Much of the time I had to hold an umbrella in front to keep the snow from our faces. We kept our spirits by singing the songs of Zion.

Val:  May 3, 2013

"He talked fancy to me.  I got confused."
That, my dear Uncle George, is my answer to everything.

Why I dress bad.

Why I haven't showered in two days.

Why I eat too many dark chocolate truffles.

Why I drive the Mini too fast.

Why I feel snarky about an employee at the KMart.

Why I listen to hip hop, affectionately otherwise known as gangsta, music.

And why I have five cats.

That said, as I continue my "all fun, all the time" stay in Nauvoo, I KNOW that I read some church talks on the fancy new IPOD.  I even wrote it down on what the kids now-a-days call "old school"--paper and pen.
( Speaking of "old school," share random, completely unrelated story here:)

This is a little shout out to the young worker at the Kmart from two years ago.  I went to the store to find a an atlas so The Girl, Carol and I could haul our cookies to the Deep South for a three week girl trip.  We ate snacks.  We saw stuff like plantations and basket weavers on the side of the road.  And of course (insert your jealous eyes here)---attended the Star Wars Convention.

This is not the droid you are looking for

Drats, I hate it when we accidentally wear the same thing to a party

Look at my awesome Sound of Music/Admiral Akbar shirt!

See my little blond girly in the red in the front of the buddies?

In case you wanted to see me in my movie star pose 
(the secret is the crossed legs) as an action figure

Getting a little "ink" at the Celebration
(that is slang for tattoo for my LDS buddies who read this)

SOOO, that snotty KMart girl obviously did not understand the severity for my need for a road atlas because this delicious Star Wars experience was on the other end of the road.  

When I searched through the store with no success, I asked her to show me where they were at.  Her reply went something like this...."Uh, yeah, my IQ is average but my manners and respect to a store customer and my elder is that of about 24....uh, yeah...I am not really sure what an atlas is....I mean, it is soooo old school. Can't you just use your phone?"  

Uh, yeah, I could use my phone.  To call your mother and explain to her that she needs to have a conversation with you when you finish your shift, after you stop at the Hot Topic to pick up your t-shirt with Gumby on it that says something profound like "I don't have manners."  Yeah, I can use my phone.

The moral of that story is that the KMart does not carry atlases.  And that I am obviously "that mom" because I took my kid to a Star Wars Convention.  Yeah, it's how I roll.

Back to the mission.  Shutting down random rambling.
So, I used my IPOD in Nauvoo to read my scriptures.  I thoroughly enjoyed a talk that I would love to share with you, but I seemed to have had some sort of brain disconnect.  Not only are the scriptures I have written down not correct, neither is the cited author or the name of the talk.  So while it apparently was so great that I took notes, I apparently couldn't be bothered to write down the correct reference.  

I know what you are thinking, Helper.  Look it up, Val.  Yeah, got it. 

What notes I do have include the following phrases:  littleness of soul, the greatest good, pray in heart and vocally, promote His glory, and do the greatest good among our fellow beings.  There was something about a woman named Deborah, the window makers wife.

And that is all I got.  I feel like that Jerry Seinfeld episode where he writes down some sort of joke and spends his day trying to figure it out.  

The bottom line is that the IPOD talked fancy to me.  And I got confused.

In all seriousness, today was a very lovely day.  You don't usually hear that phrase when visiting a jail in a freezing, pouring rainstorm (as you know) but today you do.

There is something to me that has always stood out about the stairs in the jail.  Of all the places I have visited to this point, this is the only building that I know Joseph Smith had been in.  The stairs connect me to him.  Somewhere that we have both been.

And you know, it isn't about him.  It is about the respect that I have for someone who gave everything, even his own life, for the cause he felt to be just.  God had prophets in ancient times.  The scriptures say that He is unchanging.  So it makes sense to me, anyway, that He would have prophets in our day.  Why not?

Back in Nauvoo (in which I did not need an umbrella in the car to keep the snow from my face...and I doubt that I was singing any songs of Zion....I was in my Maroon 5 place at that time) I got to see the Joseph Smith movie at the visitor's center.  And according to my notes, I went to the temple.  And that the paintings of a garden were "most amazing, with Calla lilies."  

Apparently my note taking for the entire day was pretty jacked up (hello broken Sea Horse) because I can't tell you where I heard it, but I liked the phrase someone somewhere said "While we were building the building, we were building us."  I am pretty sure it is in reference to the building of the Nauvoo Temple....yeah, that's the ticket.

The bottom line is that it was a great day.  To be in sacred places is always so good for the soul.  Typing it even now makes my heart feel full of peace.  

One more thing:

It is good thing I found an atlas at a gas station before I came to Illinois because given my epic note-taking fail today, I might not have even remembered where I was.  

And because uh, yeah...I had no cell service in Nauvoo, KMart girl.