Monday, May 30, 2011

Too many pictures...too little time

My name is Valerie and I have a problem.

Actually, probably several problems if you ask my family. 
Or friends.

But that is a blog for another time.

The problem of today that I would like to discuss
amongst ourselves is the problem that
digital photography has brought into my life.

In the past four days, I think I have
taken about 1,200 pictures.

At least. 

Don't tell Mr. Fun.

Even just now, I just flashed him
my best big brown cow eyed smile to
distract him from the fact I am on the computer.


And still more again.

Digital photography is a super cheap deal.

That is of course after you buy all the junk that you
need to do it. 

The great downfall for me now personally is that
I cannot stop taking pictures.

I have the camera in the purse. 

I have the big camera. 

I have the bags to haul them around in.

I have some time.

Well, the time thing is actually up for discussion.

I have the same 24 hours as everyone.

I have a family.

I have a houseguest...usually only on the days
that end in a "y" (as my mother would say).

I have several commitments that end up
taking more hours than a full time job.
None of which I am not paid.

I have a green truck that is starting to rust
out from under me.  Fortunately, it
still holds my weight when I stand on the cab
to get that right shot.

Typing that sentence just  now...
I see why the construction workers
call me the "crazy lady" at the temple site.

When most people take pictures, they may sit on the
sim card for days or even weeks.

I take so many at one time that I cannot afford
to leave them on the disk.  I need the space.

I have thousands of pictures from that last two months alone
in dated files.  Pictures that need to be weeded and tossed.
Resized for sending.  Sent to their subjects so they
can have them. 

I have so many that they are starting to slow down the computer.

Isn't she adorable?  From a reception that I was
asked to shoot this weekend.

Was at the temple this morning.  Got this.

This is a picture from the temple last week...
from the same storm that leveled half of Joplin.

I have pictures downloaded I haven't even looked at yet.


I still have pictures from our British Island trip TWO years ago
that I haven't weeded out.

And we are going to AK in a month! 
For three weeks. 

I can't even venture a guess how many
pictures I will take there.
The thought actually makes me
want to throw up in my mouth a little...


Houston, we have a problem.

Well, I gotta go....
the sun is shining on the leaves in the garden
just the right way and the camera battery is charged.

PS:  Mr. Fun, I can't help it.
"[They] talked fancy to me and I got confused."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Brother Angel Moroni meets The Church Ladies

Dear Brother Angel Moroni
I always feel a little bit bad that I do not drop you a note until after these events, but since you can’t climb down from your perch to join in the fun, it seems kinder in the long run. 

 Speaking of long runs (running of any length seems long to me) there has been a lot of excitement about the Temple Fun Run of last month.  I have met people who even are planning their attendance for next year, so I hope you are in the mood to host another one.  Word is out that you know how to get your “Mr. Fun” on.

 And speaking of hosting, I wanted to give you a little background of why there were some ladies at the temple a few days back. I know you saw them.

Carrying lawn chairs.

Sipping cold lemonade (sorry we were rude and didn’t offer any to you…but your hands were otherwise occupied).
Wearing sandals.

 Of everything I figured you would connect with, I knew you would like the barefoot look…given I have never seen you in shoes.

You know they say you should have good shoe support if you are going to be on your feet all day.

All day?

I think Salt Lake Temple Brother Angel Moroni could tell you a thing or two about being on your feet a long time.  Try 118 years.  He doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear so I think it will work out ok for you as well.

 It is part of the job description I am sure.

 So, these ladies are sometimes known as “the Church Ladies.”  They belong to a local congregation (although I don’t know how “local” it is when you have drive 20 minutes one way to get there) of the LDS Church.  They are part of the church’s formal organization of women known as the Relief Society.

They have been meeting almost monthly for years for a journaling class.  They have written about all sorts of topics from their own perspective.  Stories of holidays.  Travels.  Family stories.  Anything that gives them a chance to record their story for their own personal histories.

They meet together to read their story out loud.  Some write pages of experience.  Some write a very little.  Some don’t write at all but come along anyway…(hey! I resemble that remark).

This month the theme was sharing a special story related to the temple.  The leader, Tina, thought it would be nice if we met together at the temple grounds.

She was right.  It was nice.

These are humble ladies who were not there to show how “super Mormon” they were.  They were there because they all had something to share. 

It was a lovely evening. 

No rain.  No big wind.  No scorching heat (hey, wait!  Are we still in Missouri?  J)

 I thought you would especially enjoy their activity given you yourself were a big journal-er in your earlier days.

I mean you were the last to record writings in the Book of Mormon. 

You carried those plates (journals) all around the land with you. 

You did some abridging work as well. 

Millions of people have read what you have written.
That makes you, my friend, a writer.

As a matter of fact, when I was a full time missionary, one of the most effective scriptures we would share with anyone we talked to were words encouraging people to pray and ask God to know truth for themselves.  Words your wrote.

Super great advice, by the way.

After the story time was over, a couple of us went over to see the temple up closer in the dark. 

I don’t usually come to see you in the dark of night because most photography doesn’t come out so great when there isn’t light. 

However, it was our lucky night. 

Not only did we get to enjoy the “light” that these ladies shared with their sweet smiles and sunny stories earlier in the evening, the temple was lit up from the inside out. We could actually enjoy the beauty of the newly placed pieces of stained glass in the windows. 

Way cool.

Brother Angel Moroni, we sure are enjoying you.  Just so you know you are a topic of conversation around the whole Kansas City area. 

I met a non-Mormon fella named Dave at the grounds recently who is doing the electrical work on the inside of the temple.  He said the number one question he is asked is “What is the story with the golden angel blowing that horn?”

No worries, Brother Angel, I explained you. 

And he liked your story.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bob the Builder Award: Meet Mose Gingerich, the Amish "Harriet Tubman"

The Girl stumbled upon it last night on the National Geographic station. 

It is a documentary about young people who choose to leave or run away from their Amish community.  Too bad for some of them and that electricity thing...some of them would find this blog very useful in their decision making.

Surprisingly, the largest population (and growing) of these folks is here in the middle of Missouri.  Columbia to be exact.  They have a leader.

And his name is Mose.

Mose is in the white t-shirt
of course I liked he was in shorts and work boots...

Mose is an "ex-amish" as they call them selves.  He has been in  "out in the world" (Amish translation:  Satan's grasp) for 7 years and now runs a half-way house of sorts for those people who need to figure out how to get acclaimated in the "world."

He clothes them.  Feeds them.  Teaches them work skills that translate to this world.  Helps them get birth certificates and social security numbers.

And helps them buy a car---their biggest desire.

I was deeply touched by his compassion, his sensibility, and groundedness.

I feel like I know a couple things about the Amish.

I know they make de-lic-ous bakery goods.
I know they wear plain colors and got a cool hat (well, actually Weird Al told me that).
I know they are simple, shave their legs, play Rook with friends, and use batteries and sky lights to supply light in their buildings.

I took a tour once of the Amish community about an hour from here.  Their numbers doubled when they allowed their members to wear deoderant.  And own trampolines.

I am part of a super "structured" religion and I am not one to go into the doctrines of another.  I do like to learn about them.  I have seen many, participated in many (the wine drinking of the catholics of Birmingham England was a fun one  :) services, and it is not my place to worry about what the others ones are doing or believing.  

What I learned last night that regardless of what religion, life experience, or social structure that someone may be departing, or leaving to live more as they choose to live, everybody needs a buddy.

A modern day "Harriet Tubman" as Mose called himself.

For whatever reason, I was feeling Mose and his role in life right now.

Maybe it is because we have another guest staying with us.  Misti.  A-dor-able.  No offense to our last month African guests, but Misti speaks english.  A plus.  And doesn't fry goat.  A double plus.

(speaking of goat, contrary to rumor, I do NOT know about the missing goats from the neighboring farm from down the street....)

I feel as though I have "Mose-d" a fair number of folks in this world. 

But out of respect of God who has trusted me to do it and those who we have loved along the way, it is too private to be written here.

The documentary is going to be replayed if you are interested:

Here is to you Mose.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meet Me at the Eastern Gate

 This is what these last few days have felt like. 
A glimpse of sunny at the end of the long stormy day.
The kind of sunny end that looks so neat friends
call each other all over the place to go outside to see it.

The kind of moment that makes you feel like
Wow, I am glad I stopped to see that.

Friday morning, on my way to the post office, I heard
that Tom was going to pass away. 
Maybe in the next day or even two.

So Cheryl's box is still sitting in the truck,
waiting to be mailed as I write,
and I went to Tom's. 

I held his hand. 

I told him I was proud of him
for all these years he has endured. 
Never whining. Never mad at God.

And I told him that he could leave
his broken body and be free.

He stared at me blankly.

I don't think he was there in his body
right then.

I know it doesn't make sense....but he was gone.
Only for a moment. 

You know how I know.
Because he was resting comfortably.

For almost five years, we have watched him
sit, stand, lay, rock, jostle and every other
action verb you can utter in pain, trying to
be comfortable.  And now,
with a cancer the size of a volleyball in his
stomach cavity, I can't imagine it is any
easier to find a way to position yourself
without pain.

That is what I noticed on Friday. 
He was laying peacefully. 
Like he was painless.

I even told my family later. 

Hospice must have seen it too because
they lowered his pain meds.
Which, have been amped back up today.

Painless.  It must feel so good to him.

There is something else that I said to him
Friday morning.

"Do you remember where we are going to meet?
In Heaven?"  I said.

"Yes," he softly answered. 
"The Eastern Gate."

Ahh.  He remembered. 

When my Grandma Ag died a few years ago,
there was an old Baptist song that my family
wanted played at the funeral.

"The Eastern Gate."
Some song from the 1940's.

Tom was kind enough to find it on the internet
for my mom to take with her to funeral.

If you know Tom,
a song from the 1940's is not his cup of tea.

I haven't been to Heaven.
I don't know if there is some sort of
information center there.
You know, one that will
have the outline of where everyone
is hanging out...sounding
trumpets or whatever it is
we will be doing in Heaven.

I like to have plans and details settled,
irregardless if it is Heaven or not.

So I asked Tom since he was going to
get there before me, could we meet at
the Eastern Gate and he could show me
around.  Introduce me to some of his
friends.  Give me a lay of the land.

For some reason,
feeling like I have some sort of control
that we will meet again in a place I wish to be real,
makes his passing a little easier.

That it isn't the end of our friendship.

LDS folks believe that families can be married
for eternity ("sealed")
which in turn means you will
already have some space staked out
together in Heaven. 

So while the Allisons have
the comfort to know that they
will see their boy, Tommy, again and be
together, friends don't have that
"sealing" promise. 

For people like me, who are raised to consider
friends to be like family, having an
 "Eastern Gate" plan is a good start.

He thinks it is a fine idea...
as long as we don't have to sing the song. :)

Wanna hear it?
Here is a contemporary version of it:
(and I mean that in the loosest sense of the word)

Tom is stable for now.  He lived through the weekend.
The hospice people say he is "remarkable"
...this man that "won't be pinned."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Post script: Shoes count and temple fun run

Two things: 

The final count of pairs of shoes collected from Rotarians in northwest Missouri  (see last blog entry) was 16,350.  That means 16,350 children who were shoeless won't be anymore.

The Fun Run at the Kansas City Temple was held Saturday.  It was a blast.  Here is the blog post about it:

Happy Monday Monday.