Saturday, October 31, 2009

October snows

In my previous blog, I told you about the October snow storm. Here are some pictures of our home and the surrounding snow drifts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Today is going to be one of those days. The College closed yesterday at 1:00 p.m. because of massive amounts of snow falling and blowing all over the place. True to Wyoming form, the winds have been piling up snow as fast as it can. I shoveled a two-foot drift yesterday morning, just to get out of the driveway. By the time I arrived home, the snow had blown in my hole to the house and then some. My wonderful wife had been out shoveling, and I finished opening up the hole so I could drive back into the house.

This a.m. I awoke early, checked the road reports, etc. Plus, I received a call from the College--too much snow, too much wind, too much blowing the snow back into the roads that they have been trying to keep open since 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. They suggested closure. I called our PR person and closed the Campus. So,anyone reading this blog this a.m., particularly faculty, staff, and students, please stay home and inside today. Please no unnecessary travel. According to the Wyoming road reports, the roads are in terrible shape, and they suggest "no unnecessary travel."

My drift in front of the garage is back and is bigger than yesterday. Yes, everything looks so beautiful, so white--from the inside. I will have to don my winter duds and go outside sometime today to dig another hole, but I shall wait until later when the wind ostensibly dies down.

What is up with all this snow so early in the season? Some people say, "Well, this is the way it used to be." So I guess we can say that global warming has not arrived to Wyoming.

Everyone, take care today. Keep inside. Have fun with your children. Students, get your homework done before you go out and play in the snow.

Have a wonderful day! I'll have pictures later on today.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

“A Temple of Learning via Youth Conferences and Spiritual Angels”

The following essay just won 3rd place in the Alumni Spirit Week writing contest at BYU-Idaho (Ricks College):

For a young man growing up in Menan, Idaho, just a skip over the stoic Menan Buttes and over the mighty, meandering Snake River, Ricks College loomed large on the hill. Yes, we attended almost every youth conference at Ricks, watched basketball games on the “big boys’ court” in Hart Gymnasium, played basketball and volleyball in the auxiliary gym, earned our swimming merit badge in the swimming pool, and even spent time in the Library, working on various merit badges. No matter how many times I walked the halls, ate in the Manwaring Center, or just sat on top of Table Rock on the north butte, I was always in awe of Ricks College as a formidable institution, one that, perhaps, was beyond my reach.

During those early years, I did not initially equate Ricks College with Sarah Ann Barnes’ phrase: “A temple of learning.” I cannot remember my leaders discussing learning in this way. Perhaps, they did, and I just did not get it or I was not paying attention. Dances, swimming, basketball, staying in the dorms, and the all-you-can-eat buffet seemed to encompass my teacher- and priest-age mentality. But I knew I felt something different when I climbed from our leader’s car and stepped foot on the campus.

I still remember the first time I cautiously strode through the doors of the Manwaring Center. Chills and sense of awe mixed with feelings of excitement overcame me. I wondered whether I should even be there. But entered I did, and the more time I spent on campus, the more I captured the feeling that I belonged. Perhaps, that is how the spirit touched a young man whose home was not the most spiritual. It was on this campus where I was tutored in the spirit, feeling something strong pounding in my chest during youth conference testimony meetings. Was that the spirit touching me? Was I beginning to enter the “temple of learning”? But come there to learn, to go to college? Now that was a different story.

In my home, however, going to college was not necessarily discussed as the thing to do. It was something I wanted to do, but money was an issue. Having eight children, my parents struggled with the everyday needs of a large family. So, I worked. Perhaps, this integration of work and earning posited a stronger feeling of doing the Lord’s work so I could come home from a mission, go to college, and make something of myself.

Even after my mission, the “thirst” was there, but the container full of financial liquid was not. I still had to work hard in order to attend. After almost a year working, and I enrolled so that my thirst could be quenched. Although I still had to live at home, I had money enough to pay for tuition and books and a job to pay for gas and essentials.

The fifteen miles to Ricks College did not initially seem like a burden, except in the winter and the tortuous drive from Menan to Rexburg and driving over the very scary Thornton Bridge. But the moment I drove on campus after one of white knuckle drives through snow drifts and near misses of trucks and cars passing simultaneously on a very narrow bridge, sometimes only inches apart, I felt at home, relieved that I had made it without injury.

Yes, I can look back on it now, and as Sarah Ann Barnes said, “the memory [of those days] fills my very soul with joy, for [truly] it seemed that angels of God…” helped me navigate the terrain and the personal challenges that periodically beset me. But even more than that, Sister Barnes’ and Elder Eyring’s messages of having the spirit as a constant companion rang true, each day that I drove to the campus, parked, and sauntered to the Manwaring Center, the Library, Hart Gym, Smith Building, and others.

Ricks College, now Brigham Young University—Idaho, is a temple of learning. While I did not see it in the beginning as a young teacher or priest at youth conferences, I came to know it as a student because—finally—I possessed a “recommend for learning,” one that I acquired over time through patient diligence. I learned that I was worthy of a college education, and Ricks College boosted my confidence and propelled me to go beyond my own self, my own trappings. Surely, Sister Barnes’ “spiritual angels were there” to lead me by the hand.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dad's Birthday

Today, my Father would have been 82-years old, having been born in 1927. Unfortunately, he had a massive heart attack a few years ago and died on his driveway in a little farming community in Idaho. He died so suddenly, none of us were able to say a proper goodbye.

I had just talked to him the Sunday before he passed away. We had a nice visit. He had just arrived home from his "snow birding" in Arizona and was attempting to begin the never-ending task of keeping an acre of land spruced up.

My Father liked to spruce up stuff. He always had a wonderful garden and great flowers, particularly the peonies. Over the years, he had given me starts of various flowers, and most of them have done well. Unfortunately for me the peonies have never flourished in Wyoming, and I doubt they will. The raspberries I have transplanted in north-central Idaho and eastern Wyoming have done great. After Dad died, I transplanted some raspberry plants to Wyoming. They definitely have not flourished. This past summer as I stood there contemplating the plight of my raspberries, I wished my Dad had been there at my side to tell me what I needed to do. He just had a knack for growing things and knowing what to do.

I also miss going to Arizona in the winter and hanging out on the BLM property that he and my mother used to park their trailer on. Even after my Mother passed away of colon cancer, Dad carried on the tradition of motoring south when the temperature hit 32 and freezing in eastern Idaho. When we visited, the ritual was always this: We would stop in, have a wonderful Dutch-oven meal with friends outside around the campfire (Dad was always the campfire guy); visit various people we had met the year before; spend the night in the trailer, get up the next morning and drive to Yuma and spend the night; have breakfast at the buffet in town where it seemed that our we were the youngest one in the restaurant; drive to Algadones, Mexico, to purchase different things, including his and Mom's medication; drive through the date farms; stop and get a date shake; and then drive back to the trailer where we spent time just chatting and listening to the coyotes--yippers, Dad would call them. We always had a great time.

Sometimes I would go by myself, but most often I would take the girls and/or my wife, and we would have a great time. The girls loved to go because the "snow birds" loved little children because they reminded them of their grandchildren at home. When we visited various people, it seemed like "trick-or-treat" because all of them had some snack to give to the girls. I was amazed at the relationships my parents made as snow birds in Arizona.

Dad taught us how to work. He made sure that we always had a cow to milk, chickens to raise and feed (100 chicks every spring), pigs to slop, and horses to feed and take care of. One of my jobs was to work in the garden, which I loved then and still love today. He tried to teach me how to build things. Unfortunately, I didn't take to it, but my little brother did. He is now a great cabinet maker and can build anything.

Plus, Dad volunteered in the community and help the elderly. We had next door neighbors on both sides of us. My brothers and I hauled wood, chopped wood, shoveled more snow than we wanted, pulled weeds, and did other odd jobs for them, never taking a dime. Dad insisted on service, including working on the farm, irrigating, pulling weeds, and harvesting potatoes. I am sure we weren't happy with some of it, but we learned to serve others, truly a trait that all of us have carried with us.

So, Dad, on your 82nd birthday, I salute you and wish you a great birthday. If you can, send me a message on how in the world to grow raspberries on the high plains of eastern Wyoming. I would appreciate it.