Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Importance of Temple Work, by Peter

 Peter gave a youth talk in sacrament meeting this last Sunday. Here are the notes he used to give his talk:

The Importance of Temple Work

(Introduction) I have been asked to give a talk on the importance of temple work. Obviously, temples are closed right now, but that doesn't mean we can't prepare for them to open again. So why are temples important? In the April 2020 general conference, Elder David A Bednar explained. "We do not build or enter holy temples solely to have a memorable individual or family experience. Rather the covenants received and the ordinances performed in temples are essential to the sanctifying of our hearts and for the ultimate exaltation of God's sons and daughters." This means that the things we do in the temple are important for us and the people we do the ordinances for. When we do baptisms for the dead, we give these people an opportunity they didn't have when they were alive. While temples are temporarily closed, we can still prepare for them to reopen. One thing we can do is family history. With family history, we can find our ancestors and relatives who need these ordinances done. Then, once temples re-open, we can take these names to let them receive the ordinances they need. Another thing we can do is have a temple recommend. As Elder Rasband explained in his talk in this recent general conference, our temple recommend isn't just something that allows us to enter the house of the Lord, but it is also a badge of obedience that shows we are willing to serve God. (bear testimony)

Friday, October 16, 2020

What I Do When There is No Place to Go

The last several months of "safer at home" has meant a lot of time spent within my own four walls. Of course, I'm a homebody anyway, so I'm probably not home much more than I was before COVID and quarantine, but I've had more time with my family around, and less time on the desktop computer that I share with Peter. Of course the usual things like housecleaning and laundry haven't changed much, but I have had a lot of free time on my hands. Here are some of the things I've been doing to keep myself busy over the last few months:

Books read: 

  • Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge Series (20 books), 
  • Charles Todd's Bess Crawford Series (9 books), 
  • Jacqueline Winspear's Masie Dobbs Series (Books 1-10... I have 5 more to go). 
  • Miscellaneous Agatha Christy books 
  • The first six or so Lillian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who..." books 
  • and I don't know what all else I might have picked up to read in an afternoon.

The first three above are historical fiction mysteries placed during or shortly after World War I. What can I say? I've been on a mystery kick lately.

Crafts done:

For my birthday in May I acquired a needle felting kit, and I've had a blast with it. I started with the patterns supplied with the kit, and then branched out on my own a bit.

In July and August, I made a bunch of little key chain animals which I gave to my mom and sisters at our sister's party in September. Thanks April for taking pictures of them for me!

More recently I made bait for a "catting" pole.

Earlier this week I made myself a new skirt (with a pocket!):


Since I was called to be a ward organist at the beginning of the year, I've done more practicing of the piano than I have over the last several years. I don't have an organ, so I spend a lot of time practicing my fingering, trying to play as smoothly as I can without using the pedals. 

While Hannah was here, we enjoyed playing duets, with me on the piano and her on her viola. We worked hard to learn a Celtic Hymn Medley. (We got it from here.)

I've also done some composing in the last few months. I created a medley of I Know That My Redeemer Lives and I Believe in Christ for piano and viola. You can listen to it here. (This is a computer generated version... Hannah and I did record a live performance, but I think it was on her phone and I don't have it.) If you are interested, you can download the piano sheet music here, and the viola part here.

Less Productive Stuff:

I'm not always productive with my time. I've solved over 500 Einstein's Riddle Puzzles, conquered 4000+ levels of Lily's Garden and played countless games of spider solitaire. I think I've also watched almost every episode of all seven seasons of Star Trek TNG.

So, that's most of my day-to-day life between the big vacations and events. How have you been keeping busy?

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Catching Up on the Last Few Months...

 It's October already. It's October of one of the strangest years I've ever experienced. I realize I've gotten behind on my blogging this year, so here are some highlights of what has happened since our Yellowstone vacation in July:

Last half of July: 

  • a few meetings, a dentist appointment, an orthodontist appointment. Not much really happened as most of stuck around pretty close to home.


  • Josh got a job at the Mile High Flea Market, working in concessions. The flea market is only open on weekends, so he has been working on Saturdays and Sundays. Luckily with home church and meeting at 9am when we do meet at the church, he has been able to attend sacrament meetings either before or after work. He works at "Delectables", a place that sells ice cream, tornado potatoes (like a cross between curly fries and potato chips) and funnel cakes among other things.

    One Saturday, the rest of us went to the flea market to see what it was like. It's kind of a cross between a giant garage sale, a farmers market and a shopping mall. There is also an amusement park section, but that was closed due to the COVID 19 thing. We wandered around to see what all was there. We got ice cream and a funnel cake at Delectables. Hannah bought some new shoes. I bought some strange fruit that we found out later is called rambutan.

  • School started for the boys. John began attending Colorado School of Mines. Some of his classes are online while others are in person. Because of Covid, he hasn't been required to live on campus, so he is living at home and commuting the 1/2 hour drive to Golden each day he has in person classes.

    Josh began his senior year and Peter began his sophomore year of high school online. 

  • Hannah travelled to Recife, Brazil to spend some time with Moroni Torres, a young man she met while serving her mission in Brazil. He was released from his mission a couple months after Hannah returned home, and while the two were already communicating daily online, they wanted to spend some time together in person now that they were no longer missionaries.


  • I started teaching seminary! I teach an in-person class for 28 sophomores and juniors at the stake center at 6:30am four days a week. We meet in the gym where the students' chairs can be spaced 6 feet apart, and we all wear masks, except for me when I'm teaching. On Wednesdays, the students are supposed to do seminary online, so I get to sleep in a bit that day. The subject this semester is the last half of the Book of Mormon, and I'm really enjoying teaching and getting to know my students.

  • Hannah managed to return home from Brazil in spite of a nightmare of cancelled flights and changing itineraries. Thankfully, Moroni stuck with her until he could watch her board a homeward bound plane. I picked her up from the airport late Friday morning, and that same evening, Hannah, Steven and I set off to drive her to school at BYU-I in Rexburg, Idaho. 

  • We arrived in Rexburg on Saturday and unloaded Hannah's things at her new home in Rexburg. She and two international roommates (One is from Mexico and the other from Chile) share the upstairs portion of a small house on the east side of campus. After doing some grocery shopping and grabbing some lunch, we hugged Hannah goodbye and Steven and I set off on the return trip home.

  • Two days after our return from Idaho, I boarded a plane to fly to Salt Lake to spend a few days with my mom and sisters in Sandy, Utah. We had a blast just talking, hiking, playing games, eating and laughing together. 

  • Peter got a part (well, parts, plural, since there are a lot of short scenes) in the high school's fall play, "The History of Dating." The performance will be sometime in early December, although whether the audience will get to watch in person or electronically is still to be determined.

  • Steven, after many frustrations at work, decided that the place where he has been working since March wasn't allowing him to fulfill his potential, and so left there to begin a quest to find a new job that would better fit his talents and skills.

  • Josh and Peter began attending high school in person two days a week. The other three days are still online: one day they have Zoom type classes at certain times, and the other two days they are just given assignments to complete at some time during the course of the day. 
  • Our dishwasher fizzled, losing its electrical power. After several days of handwashing dishes and a battle to move the dishwasher from its haven under the kitchen counter, we discovered that the place where the house's aluminum wiring was connected to the copper wiring of the dishwasher had melted or blown up or something equally devastating. After much frustration and conversations with friends, neighbors and a couple friendly Lowe's workers, Steven was finally able to install an electrical outlet behind the dishwasher and add a plug to the dishwasher itself (so it didn't need to be hardwired in) and replace a connection for the water hose, thus rendering the dishwasher usable again.  (My hero!)

  • Today, Steven was sustained and set apart as the second counsellor in our ward's bishopric. His dad drove out from California this weekend so he could be here to ordain Steven a high priest. I'm grateful for his worthiness and his willingness to serve wherever the Lord has need of him.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

It All Happened at 1:30 in the Morning

 (by Steven)

Last night at 1:30am, MaeLyn and I were fast asleep, as we often are at that time of night. We were jolted from slumber however by a loud, shrieking, piercing sound as something came in suddenly from the window and streaked across the room. We were both out of bed and on our feet in an instant, fearing that maybe the sound had come from a Russian guided nuclear missile, or maybe the lead ship from an alien invasion force, or possibly even a rabid squirrel. We decided to investigate.

We turned on the light and the first thing we saw was our cat Lala looking guilty. Had he had anything to do with giving the Russians the coordinates to our house? Had he led the alien invasion force right in through our window? Had he chased in the rabid squirrel? Before we had a chance to ask him he ran down the hallway away from us.

Taking a flash light so we didn't wake up the rest of the house we followed him down the hall. He had stopped near the piano, not wanting to go any further. In fact he seemed to be watching over something, making sure it did not escape. Fearing for my life but knowing what I had to do, I shined the flashlight under the piano bench. And that was when I saw it:

A cute and fuzzy little bunny rabbit.

Now our cats have brought many things into the house over the years: grasshoppers, mice, lizards, birds. Some were dead while others were still alive. This bunny rabbit was still alive and though it was obviously a very young baby rabbit it was easily the largest thing our cats had ever brought inside. And the strange thing in our minds was that we never considered Lala to be much of a hunter. In fact, I think this may be the first time he has ever brought anything into the house.

Anyway, after a short chase we were able to catch the cute and fuzzy little bunny (who was very soft) and release him back into the wild. We then closed the window and told Lala to stop waking us up at night. And then we went back to bed. The end.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Family Vacation Part 2: Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park

We first took our kids to Yellowstone park when Josh was around a year old. The kids were disappointed because we said it was a park, but there was no playground where they could play. This time, I think they enjoyed it a little more.

Steven's mom rented a cabin in Island Park, ID, and it was a really nice place for the 16 of us to stay. (Kathy, Andy and Megan and their two kids, and Karen's husband Joe and four of their kids plus the six of us. Karen wasn't able to come due to breast cancer and chemo treatments... I hope she enjoyed her quiet time at home that week.)


The best thing about Yellowstone is the scenery. Between the mountains, the rivers and the waterfalls, not to mention the trees and the geysers, there are so many beautiful vistas that it is breathtaking any way you look. 


Yellowstone is famous for its geysers, fumaroles and hot springs. There are some amazing and beautiful things to see here, besides Old Faithful.

This thing was like a giant steam kettle at a raging boil just hissing loudly and blowing off a ton of steam.

This is called "Dragon's Mouth Spring". It really looked like a dragon's cave with the steam from the dragon's mouth pouring out. It sounded cool too, but that is hard to capture in a picture.

More hissing steam coming out from under rocks. They say that the geothermal features in Yellowstone are due to a giant volcano underground that went dormant thousands of years ago but is still bubbling and churning under the surface, but I still wonder if dragons aren't involved with it somehow. Likely there is a huge chamber filled with treasure hidden just below somewhere that requires many dragons to guard and keep safe. I think scientists should look into this.

Hannah and her cousin Kaylee overlooking Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the real-world equivalent of the Eye of Sauron, though I don't think it has the same kind of magic powers. It still looks cool.


Another fun part of Yellowstone is the wildlife. John saw a bear, but here are the animals of which we were able to get pictures.

One of the first places we visited was a thing called Mud Volcano. There was a wooden walkway that lead up to the Mud Volcano and railings to prevent you from accidentally jumping into the Mud Volcano. But just to make sure nobody got any funny ideas they had two bison (aka "buffalo") stationed next to it giving people the stink eye just like bouncers in some fancy night club. Needless to say we did not even think about jumping into the Mud Volcano.

This raven was the parking lot attendant in on of the little turnoffs we stopped at. He just hopped around keeping an eye on things, particularly watchful for negligent people who carelessly would drop food. Dropping food was frowned upon by the park management and this raven made sure to clean up any spills so as to not give other people any ideas.

(Also, something we learned on our rafting trip was how to tell the difference between crows and ravens. Both are black birds that are about the same size. But under their wings are special feathers called "pinons" that help them in flight. Crows have four under each wing but ravens have five. So the difference between a crow and a raven is just a matter of a pinon.)

Everywhere we went there were signs telling us to stay at least 25 yards away from any wildlife (and 100 yards from bears). The only problem was, most of the wildlife can't read. This little chipmunk for example, was not maintaining proper social distancing.

This is either a deer or an elk, which has some cool antlers.


This is another deer or elk looking thing. One of the downsides of visiting Yellowstone is that you see so many cool wild animal things that after a while you just get sort of ho-hum about seeing more of them. By the end of your trip you are so desensitized to seeing wild animals that you start getting mad at all the other inconsiderate visitors who are slowing down to look at some cute bear cub and its mother playing in the center of the road that you just want to honk your horn and drive around them. "Get out of my way you wild animals! I'm hungry and we're having pizza tonight!"


There are also a lot of things to do in the park. We did a lot of driving around, just admiring the views, but we also got out and did some sight seeing and hiking. For a while, the kids (and Steven) sat on every bench they came across in order to rate it. 

A rare picture of Steven and MaeLyn. Normally one or the other is behind the camera so I'm not sure how this happened.

HANNAH: Wow, this bench is just the right height! And the back is pretty comfy.
PETER: Also, I like the added benefit of arm rests on the sides. That was really thoughtful.
HANNAH: Agreed. I'd give this one 5 stars.
JOHN: This bench is terrible. Way too low to be enjoyable.
HANNAH: Um, that's the place for the wheelchairs.

Steven, Hannah and Josh went river rafting, and then we all went out for ice cream at an adorable little ice cream stand in Gardiner, just outside the north entrance to the park.

In all, we had a really fun time. We enjoyed spending time with family. We enjoyed seeing the wonders of God's creations. And, as usual, we were grateful to be able to return home again at the end of the week.

Family Vacation 2020 Part 1 : Boysen Reservoir

Day 1

We weren't in any particular hurry that morning. We woke up at a reasonable hour. We had breakfast, finished packing and loading the car, and headed out around noon. We stopped for a late lunch somewhere in Wyoming, and arrived at our campsite at Boysen Reservoir in the early evening. 
The first thing we noticed about the campsite was the bugs. They were everywhere! Blessedly, they weren't mosquitoes... they didn't bite. But they were long, thin moth-like things with no appreciation for personal space. We tried to shoo them away, but they wouldn't shoo. They had no fear and got into everything! We could only brush them away, and then brush them away again a minute or two later when they came back. 
In spite of the bugs, it was a nice campsite with a gorgeous view. When we arrived, we had plenty of time before dark to explore the river behind our campsite, set up our tent, and start a fire for cooking hot dogs and s'mores. It was a relaxing, no-stress start to our vacation.

That night the famous Wyoming wind struck. The tent didn't come down on our heads, but the thought that it might kept us from getting much sleep that night.... I guess there's a reason the river below us is called "Wind River".

Day 2

A little sleepily, we arose from our sleeping bags to prepare for the day. In honor of the 4th of July, Steven hoisted an American Flag to fly over our campsite. That morning we explored the area, seeing the town, the dam, and other points of interest. That afternoon we went to a swim beach to cool off and sunbathe for a little while.

That evening we returned to to our campsite for meatloaf cooked inside onion shells - Delicious!

Peter forgot to put on sunscreen while we were swimming, so he was a bit burned and sore for the next few days. 

That day we also added several more guy lines and stakes to support our tent. Josh decided to sleep in his hammock that night. After we went to bed, the wind struck again. Some time towards morning I composed a haiku in honor of the wind:

Wind buffets the tent:
Fly flaps, poles dance, walls billow...
The first night was worse.

Thankfully, the wind seemed to have blown a lot of the bugs away. While there were still billions of the little buggers, they were definitely fewer than there had been when we arrived.

Day 3

Steven had made a delicious breakfast with cream filled french toast sandwiches. This was a Sunday, so we mostly stuck around camp. We carved wood,, read books and played games. At one point, we drove into town to hold our family church service on the lawn outside. (And we were surprised when the sprinklers came on suddenly!)

Steven baked bread in his dutch oven and that evening, he made a delicious berry cobbler for dessert!

Day 4

We packed up the tent and loaded our gear in the tent to head off for our next adventure: Yellowstone Park!