Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Anna Rose

This is a collage of Anna Rose when she was a baby.

This Anna Rose after a big day of fishing.

This is Anna Rose...growing...growing...

Happy Birthday, Anna Rose. It is hard to believe that you have grown up so quickly. Now, you are a wonderful young woman, happily married, ready to have a baby girl of your own.

May you have a most spectacular birthday! Love your Mom and your Dad.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Be of Good Cheer"

President Monson gave an excellent talk during the April 2009 General Conference. The High Council in the Cheyenne Wyoming Stake used President Monson's talk as the basis for our June talks. His talk inspired me to write the poem below, which I used in my High Council talk to the Young Single Adult Branch.

Be of Good Cheer
(from President Thomas S. Monson’s conference talk, Ensign, May 2009, pp. 89-92)

For us to be truly cheerful, we must lift our heads high,
shun the notions of misfortunes and utterlessness,
and sing Hosannas even during the most difficult times.
We must rise from our beds of affliction,
knowing full well that God is with us—
For He has said time and time again,
“Be of good cheer, and I will lead you along.”
With a promise of that magnitude,
why we do still sit idly by, often wrapped
in tattered blankets, slumped in armchairs
or buried deep in our beds, singing
“Woe is me, woe is me?”
Cannot we not be like the German widow
of whom President Monson spoke—
When her children had died,
she dug graves with only a tablespoon.
“Her despair was all consuming….” Yet
the spirit prompted her to get on her knees.
With a fervent “Dear Heavenly Father”
and with more despairing words and heavy, heavy heart,
she knew that she must trudge forward,
ever forward, ever faithful, even on moonless nights,
knowing, finally, some day, that she would be reunited
with those whom she loved
and “return— together—“to her Heavenly Father.
For the Lord has said, “They who have endured
the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it,
they shall inherit the kingdom of God….
and their joy shall be full forever.”

Darrel L. Hammon
June 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

What a great day today! Father's Day. I spoke in the Buffalo Ridge Ward and used the same story about the "iron rod" that Anna Rose used in her blog. We must be totally in tune.

Hailey wrote her blog about me, too. What can a father say when both of his daughters spend time writing about him on their blogs? I love them both very much.

Why I enjoy being a father to Anna Rose and Hailey...

I get to hang out with their beautiful mother.

We prayed for both of them over many years, and they came to our family as "miracles babies."

We watched them grow up, finally get hair, and learn to walk.

I was able to coach them in T-ball and basketball.

I was able to baptize and confirm both of them.

I watched them grow from beautiful babies to even more beautiful young women.

I sat mesmerized as they played the piano in numerous piano recitals.

I spent time in the garden with both of them. They loved planting gardens with their dad.

We enjoyed the "Santa Parties" in Idaho Falls with Santa, the cousins, and the pinata downstairs.

We were able to spend time climbing trails and snagging cool rocks.

I thoroughly enjoyed going on "daddy-daughter" dates to wherever they wanted to go.

Spending time with them in the temple was completely enjoyable.

I had to learn to keep my mouth shut at tennis matches when they were doubles partners and went to state (Montana)

I thoroughly enjoyed watching them in Speech and Drama and act in many plays since they were little girls starting out in Missoula Children's Theater.

Going on trips to Seattle; Rainey Creek in Swan Valley, Idaho; Yellowstone Park; Phoenix; Philmont Boys Scout Camp in New Mexico(this is another entire story); Disneyland; Quartzsite, Arizona, and Algadones, Mexico with Grandpa and Grandma Hammon; Martin's Cove, Nauvoo, Sharon, Vermont, Palmyra, New York, Kirtland, Ohio, Niagra Falls(Hailey); Costa Rica; New York City (Anna Rose)--just to name a few.

I was humbled to be in attendance and serve as a witness at both of their weddings in the House of Lord--Idaho Falls Temple for Anna Rose and Mt. Timpanogas Temple for Hailey.

And there are so many activities that I could fill up pages and pages. They were delightful children and are now delightful young women with lives of their own with their husbands and soon-to-be-children (Anna Rose).

May the Lord bless them like He blessed/blesses Joanne and me.

Love you tons and tons.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nothing is Sacred at Our House

I dedicate this poem to my mother who has since passed beyond but who made some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever.......

Nothing is sacred at our house

My mother hides chocolate chip cookies
in the freezer, her hidden cache
for snowy weekends

and long trips to the city.
She thinks no knows they are there.
She locks the freezer

and hides the long, thin key.
Little does she know
that we know

the key’s secret hiding place
beneath the charcoal lighter fluid can.
Our small hands borrow cookies,

some frozen and some still warm,
from the carefully stashed plastic bags
and Tupperware containers.

The cookies disappear
much like the potato chips
and marshmallows did last month.

Sometimes she asks us why
we do not eat much
breakfast or lunch or dinner.

We look at each other,
knowing our cookies thaw
beneath our beds.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The MIlking Stool

My father was not one to give presents, except in his latter years. He expected work from his sons. Consequently, when we moved to the country, he bought a cow so we would learn to work and to rise early. On the other hand, I love presents, and my father gave me one not too long ago just before he died. It was my old cow milking stool.

He delicately handed it to me as if it were a newborn baby. I took it and ran my fingers carefully across the top. I remembered painting it once with a drab, pale creme color. Despite the cold mornings and lying in the barn for many years, the stool's simpleness still filled me with early morning tales. The creme paint had flecked off in most places, revealing old gray two-by-fours, fitted together like a cross, full of ancient slivers. All of the edges were nicked, and a crack ran from one end of the top to the other. Brown paint spots were splattered on the top. I could not smell them, but stains from a mixture of manure, hay, grain, and straw were now embedded in the cracks in the wood.

My cow milking days were filled with Dickens' words: "They were the best of times and the worst of times," particular on cold mornings when Bossy, our cow, rushed in to licked up her gallon of rolled oats coated with molasses. On snowy mornings, steam rose from her back quietly like fog on a hidden pond. I brushed off the snow and then dried her with a gunny sack. I did not want tiny drops of snow mixed with cow sweat dripping down my back or face during milking.

Below zero weather invariably brought a closeness between cow and boy. She was warm; I was cold. Gently, I pressed my head in her dried flank and carefully began milking. Her chomping the grain mixed with the steady flow of milk in the pail orchestrated a cadence to the brisk morning. The more the milk filled the bucket, the deeper the sounds.

Foam rose to the top of the milk. Our cats seemed to know when the foam was ready. Stretching, they emerged from their warm hiding places, strolled over to where I sat on the stool, and rubbed up against me. I stopped and brought their dishes into the milking area. Cupping my hand, I pulled the foam to the side and out into the cats' dishes. I returned to milking, and the barnyard cadence began again, now replete with the cats' gentle lapping of their morning brew.

Sometimes I entered the musical fray, whistling some tune I knew. Bossy finished her breakfast dessert, turned, and looked at me. She shuffled her feet, perhaps trying to keep tune with the music. I readjusted her hobbles, and she stood quietly, waiting for me to drain her of a night's production.

When I finished, I dropped the stool into the straw and kicked it up against the wall. Knowing that their time was up and not wanting to get caught under Bossy's sharp hooves, the cats scurried away and waited for more foam.

As I opened the barn door, a blast of frigid air met me. The warmth that Bossy and I generated fled from the barn. I removed her hobbles and beckoned her to go to the corral. She hesitated, also feeling the warmth dissipate, then headed out to the hay that my brother had strewn into the manger.

Milking cows by hand and squatting on a two-by-four stool brought a sense of doing--of building strong hand and forearm muscles, of understanding a cow's rhythm and temperament. Although I fought her tail during summers, I learned to capture it in the hobbles. Her dancing irritated me, and I retaliated by raising my voice or cooing, "Sooooo....Bossy," hoping my soothing voice would calm her down.

When I arrived home from my father's, I went downstairs and sat on my stool, once again balancing myself and wondering where the time had gone and why dad had kept this milking stool for so long. As I balanced on my stool, I felt again the swishing of Bossy's tail, heard her mooing as her utter grew tighter by the minute because I was late again, and heard dad’s voice saying, “It will teach you to work and get up early.”