Saturday, July 2, 2022

Sunset HOA Summer Picnic 2022

HOA Summer Picnic
June 2022

We have never chosen to be a part of an HOA (Home Owners Association). When we purchased our townhome, it was part of an HOA. Within a few months of moving in, we had the HOA annual meeting, and I was elected the president. It has been mostly a pleasant experience. One of those pleasant experiences just happened last Saturday.

We had our first summer picnic beneath the shelter in our little park. We had an incredible turnout, the temperature was not too hot, and we had plenty of shade. Everyone brought a blanket to sit on or chairs to sit in, and their own plates and utensils.

And the food everyone brought was spectacular! Many of the HOA owners are experienced in food preparation, and it showed. For me, there were some of the best potluck dishes I have had were prepared. Plus, the desserts were divinely delicious if you had left room for them.

Here is just a sample of the food—macaroni salads, fruit salads, macaroni and cheese (so delicious), little pigs in a blanket, homemade rolls (these were so, so good!), pork chop casserole (that may not be the name for it, but I name it that), chicken tenders, and loads of watermelon. 

For dessert—cinnamon rolls (to die for!), German chocolate cupcakes (delicious!), cake, and doughnuts.

The amazing part with all this is that even after we all loaded our plates once or twice—thrice for some—it seemed like we still didn’t make a dent in the food. We had great conversations and became better acquainted as many of us are fairly new to the HOA.

Many new HOA owners were in attendance. One of them said to me as he was leaving, “Thanks! We were able to meet so many people.”

Several HOA owners commented, “We ought to do this more often.” So we think we ought to do another in September. It may take some of us that much time to shed some of the poundage after eating such a large quantity of the delicious food everyone brought.

Many, many thanks to everyone for their participation and wonderful smiles!

See you in September!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Weekend at Big Sky, Montana, full of fun, snow, and grand memories!

Spending time with family is a precious thing! When you spend time with them over a four-day period in Big Sky, Montana, it is an incredible time, no matter what the weather might have been.

For Christmas, Anna Rose and her family gifted us a trip with them to stay in Big Sky. On Wednesday, we began our journey at 8:00 p.m. Yes, that was a bit late for us, but Joanne had to work until then. We drove to Pocatello, Idaho, and stayed the night.

The next morning we attended a sealing session in the Pocatello Idaho Temple, a beautiful building sitting on a hill on the eastern side of Pocatello. We had not been to this temple, and we were excited to do some vicarious work for some of Joanne’s ancestors. We arrived early, so one of the sisters in the temple took us on a mini-tour of the temple. It was so peaceful inside!

Once we finished and then did a bit of food shopping in Idaho Falls, we headed to Big Sky. The closer we arrived at our destination at the bottom of Lone Mountain, the more snow we saw, piled close to the road and into the trees.

Once we arrived, Joanne and I did a little exploring and took some pictures of the snow and the stunning landscapes of the surrounding area, thinking we might not get out because of the forecast of rain and snow the entire time we were going to be there. Anna Rose and her family arrived late. 

The next day, there was a break in the weather, and we hurried over to the Ousel Falls Park Trail, a 1.6-mile hike that meanders along the Gallatin River that was gushing and swirling with dirty brown water all the way up to the falls. The trail was a pretty easy one, for the most part of it. We stopped frequently and took pictures of the beautiful surroundings.

When we arrived at Ousel Falls, we were greeted by an overflowing, loud waterfall. A huge amount of water was spilling over the edge of numerous rocks with a huge pine tree stuck in the middle with one end jammed into the side of the mountain, making for even more gushing flow over the top.

There was a scary walk down—at least this time of the year—to the bottom of the falls. Of course, it was cold and slippery on the way down, but a few of us walked down the steps, clinging to the iron rod on the side of the trail to the bottom. What a gorgeous view with tons of water just gushing over the top, splashing blatantly in the gorged river below, and spewing mist and droplets of water everywhere. We loved the view, and we took a bunch of photos and videos. The power of water is amazing, for sure.

We started back and stopped at a picnic table. Anna Rose and I walked back to the car to pick up the sandwiches and chips. It wasn’t that far back. We had a nice talk, grabbed the food, and headed back to the picnic table. We had a delicious PB&J sandwich with chips meal as we listened to the pounding Gallatin River to the side of us as it rushed by.

On Saturday, we drove over to Bozeman, had lunch with Elise, one of Anna Rose’s friends from high school, and then toured the Museum of the Rockies. It was fun to wander through the various exhibits. The dinosaur section was spectacular. The Museum of the Rockies has a wonderful exhibit of all sorts of dinosaurs, including the T-Rex that Kathy Wankel, a colleague of mine and the former nursing director at Miles Community College, found on BLM land near her ranch in Miles City. We drove back to the resort in a rain storm. But the ride was beautiful! There is something about rain in the mountains in the spring.

For the rest of the weekend, we ate more food and snacks than we should have, played games, drew and painted pictures, wrote and read poetry, chatted, and watched the rain and snow tumble out of the sky, but we were safe and warm inside.

We did attend Church at the Big Sky Branch on Sunday morning. What a wonderful and dedicated group of saints. We sang hymns and listened to two great talks. Afterward, we had a delightful conversation with the branch president and members of the branch.

We all arose early on Monday to ready ourselves for the trundle home. Much to our surprise, over five inches of new snow covered everything at our level. Joanne and I went outside and began cleaning off the vehicles and shoveling the snow away from them.

The scene was actually beautiful to behold. Think of your favorite white Christmas and the dazzling snow and drifts. That’s what we saw: snow that covered the ground, the trees, the bushes, vehicles, buildings, everything, all quiet, and a giant hush spread across the valley and the mountains as the snow continued to fall. You almost wanted to break out into Christmas carols.

Soon, after breakfast, cleanup, and packing the vehicles, we all headed down the hill to less snow and rain but still beautiful as everything was covered with a blanket of snow all the way through West Yellowstone, Mack’s Inn, and Island Park. We loved our weekend with Anna Rose and her family!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Mission Reunions: A Time to Greet, Reminisce, and Share/Make Memories!

Sister Hammon and I thought about the many reasons why we love mission reunions, and these are just a few that we came up with. We suspect you all have many, many others.

Everyone who stayed for the photo! 
We love missionary reunions…

We love seeing our missionaries and feeling their love.

We love catching up on what is happening in their lives.

We love to see the new additions to the families.

We love meeting their new spouses and significant others.

We love to feel their jubilation as they greet each other.

We love to receive and give abrazos.

We love renewing our friendships.

We love seeing the smiles on their faces when they enter the room.

We love that many of them make great efforts to come to the reunion.

We love to feel their spirits. 

We love sharing our love and counsel.

We love taking pictures and recording memories.

We love seeing our senior couples and expressing how much we love them and how much our missionaries love them.

Los Shirley, Hammon, and McBride (Elder and Sister McBride were
supposed to come to our mission while we were there, but because
of a variety of reasons, including COVID, they came after.)

We love reminiscing about our missionary experiences.

We love that they did not want to leave because of the love they feel for each other.

We love that they enjoy each other’s company.

We love that they make new friends.

We love sharing in their joys and their challenges.

We love standing in holy places and being with true disciples of Jesus Christ.

We love spending time with members of our missionary family who have become our eternal friends.

So many thanks for a delightfully wonderful evening with so many missionaries, their families, and friends. 

A huge thank you to Sister Marlene Shirley who took all but two of these pictures. Not only did she and Elder Shirley bring lots of treats, she is always ready with her powerful camera to record the history of the California Riverside Mission! These photos represent just a few of the photos she took. If you would like to see more, please visit Marlene Shirley's Facebook page.

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).