Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review - A Cold Train Coming by Larry Barkdull

I have often read and enjoyed Larry Barkdull's articles in Meridian Magazine.  His thoughts on rescuing wayward children seem correct and are very inspirational.

Because of my interest in his articles, I was tickled to discover a book he wrote had somehow made it's way on to our book shelf.  (Booklogged obtains books from everywhere.  No telling where this one came from).

I finished it today, while waiting for drywall mud to dry.  It was wet and stormy outside and cozying up with a good book seemed just the ticket.

It is Fall in Ft. Benton, Montana, 1942.  The war is raging and 14 year old Ben Colby is in love.  He is also in turmoil.  His father has depression.  His mother is overwhelmed.  His brother is ill.  Money is tight.  Tensions are high.  And a cold train is approaching through mounds of isolating snow.  Trying to make sense of it all, Ben writes letters to God.  He gets no answers...Or does he?  That pretty much encapsulates the story, but really, the story is about a dog named Shep...Or is it?

I enjoyed this novel very much.

Four Stars  ****

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Have an Ancestor Who Came Over on the Mayflower

This evening, Sweetie and I were watching Who Do You Think You Are.  In this episode Ashley Judd is researching her ancestors.  She follows her family into New England and eventually traces them to the Plymouth Colony and to one William Brewster who came over on the Mayflower.  It was pretty exciting because she learned a lot about William's story, the religious persecution he suffered and his imprisonment in England before being able to leave for America.

I began to wonder if any of my fairly recently discovered New England lines might trace back to the same voyage.  Statistically it is not that much of stretch to be among the descendants of those few.  Each generation is currently adding thousands to their descendants.  I remember taking a genealogy class at BYU where the professor explained that it is a statistical impossibility, for example, that anyone out of Europe was not a descendant of Charlemagne.  Each generation results in myriad more families marrying into his lines.  With that notion in mind, I suspected that such might also be the case with the Plymouth Colony.

I went to and clicked on my own family tree.  Knowing which lines go into New England I began to examine each seeking those that lead, first, into Massachusetts.  In moments I found some and not only did a line lead back to the Plymouth Colony but actually lead to the very same William Brewster!
What a thrill to be sitting here watching my very distant cousin Ashley Judd walk into the very jail cell in which Brewster and William Bradford had been incarcerated.

It is one thing to know their names, but to see their places and hear their stories, is my favorite part of Family History.

For those of you who are related to me, here's how it goes:

      William Brewster came to Plymouth, Massachusetts on the Mayflower in 1620.  His son
      Jonathan Brewster, 1593-1659, presumably came with him.  He is buried in New London, CT (that's
                                                        info for you Steve).  His daughter
      Mary Brewster, 1627-1645, died in Plymouth, MA.  Her son
      Ezekiel Turner, 1650-1703, died in New London, CT.  His daughter
      Lucretia Turner, 1698-1756, also died in New London , CT.  Her son
      William Calkins, 1724-1762, died in New London, CT.  His daughter
      Temperence Calkins, 1758-1785, died in Brome, Quebec (I think).  her son
      Stephen Scoville, 1783-1869, died in Scugog, Ontario.  His son
      Oliver T. H. Scoville, 1824-1894, is buried in Unionville, MI.  He was a Civil War Vet.  His daughter
      Amaressa Scoville, 1844-1872, she is buried next to her parents in Unionville, MI.  Her daughter
      Mary Elizabeth Beattie, 1875-1904, she is buried in Afton, WY.  Her daughter
      Hazel Beattie Brown Dabel, 1897-1968, she is buried in Freedom, WY.  Her son
      Winslow B. Weber, 1922-1999 is also buried in Freedom, WY.  His son is

Now, as I traced this back to me I found a few date mistakes and find myself a bit skeptical the Ezekiel Scoville, husband of Temperence Calkins is actually Stephen Scoville's father.  I've been trying to decide a family to work on for the Family History Class I'm currently taking and think I now have my answer.  I need to be sure of the parentage of Stephen Scoville.  Pretty fun project.  I've been to Stephen's grave on Scugog Island in Ontario and am very anxious to confirm that the pedigree in Family Search is correct.

I don't mean to single out this particular ancestor.  I'm sure William Brewster is someone to be pleased to have in my family tree.  But there are thousands, some famous, most not, who mean just as much to me.  I love them and love discovering their stories, leaning of their courage, faith, faults and trials.  It's such a wonderful time to be alive.  A time when I can sit in front of the TV and watch such inspiring stories come alive, while holding my computer on my lap and searching records from the past, right here in the comfort of my own home.  Contrasting that with my stroll down the street in the recreated Plymouth Colony, and my visit aboard the tiny ship that carried my ancestors across a raging sea, I count myself truly blessed that they sacrificed so much so I could enjoy this - in complete freedom!

Friday, April 8, 2011

That's Gross!

The toilet tank began leaking the other day.  It appeared to be coming from where the water supply attached to the tank valve.  I tried tightening it and only made it worse.

Seven year old Megan was over and I asked if she'd like to join me on a trip to Lowe's for some toilet guts.  "Gross!  Papa, that's gross!  Still, she accepted the offer and off the store we went.  We sang along with our co-favorite song from Great Big Sea, called Here's to Charlie Horse, a song about rallying together and solving problems and other things that matter like that.  It's a zippy, rousing tune and we belted it out at the top of our lungs.  Newfoundland music always elevates my mood.  I wanted to link arms and do the grapevine across the parking lot, but already Megs is starting show some prudent inhibition.

We headed for the plumbing department and were accosted by a helpful associate who asked what we were looking for.  "Toilet guts," Megan volunteered with a clear hint of disgust in her tone.  Amused, our guide ushered us right to the spot.  They don't make toilet guts like the used to - thank goodness.  We got out of the store without too much damage, though I did find a new color for our African Violet collection.  Cheap too.  I've been thinking about propagating some of Betty's but that takes nine months from leaf to blossom.  Holding out my hands palms up I weighed nine months against $2.00 and succumbed.  But I digress...

Back at home we tore the tank off the toilet and began disassembling the old guts.  Megan noticed quite a collection of silt in the bottom of the tank.  "Gross Papa!  Is that poop?"

"No this water gets in line before the poop.  The poop all goes down the drain when this water gets dumped into the bowl."

"So what is it then," she asked.  Not convinced.

"It's silt."

"How's it get in there?"

I explained that this is a very old house (by her standards) and that in the old days the spring runoff caused the tap water to get roiled.

"What's roiled?"  she wanted to know.

"Muddy," I said.

"Gro-oss!  Did you drink it?"

"Of course!  One gets thirsty you know."


"Anyway the silt or mud would settle out of the water and obviously collected on the bottom of the toilet tank."  I explained.   I thought about cleaning it out, but it hasn't hurt anything so far, and who knows who'll be helping me and what questions will be asked the next time I have to replace the guts.


"Yes dear?"

"Did everybody drink the muddy water?"

"Yes dear."

"Why didn't you just buy bottled water?"

"Wasn't invented yet."

About this time I gave myself a blood blister when the pliers slipped off a nut.  Megan thought it was a good time to let me be alone.


"Yes dear."

Did you drink the muddy water in the spring time too?"

"Yes dear."


"Did anything happen?"

"Well, our skin turned brown when we bathed and the cows started giving chocolate milk for a few weeks."


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


My allergies have been working me over the past couple of days (mostly nights).  They're normally not bad enough to justify the expense of medicine, especially since they allowed it to be sold over the counter so my health insurance won't help pay for it any more.  But this week hasn't been quite normal.

Two nights ago I took some sinus headache medicine and that kept me awake most of the night, then last night, thinking I'd better not do that again, I cleaned my head out with a rinse with the Neti Pot which lasted long enough to get to sleep but not for long enough to get me through the night.  I was up at 3:00 and didn't get back to sleep until six.  I managed to sleep until the phone rang at eleven and have been lying around nursing a headache ever since.

I really don't know what I'm allergic to.  It usually begins around the end of February so it is probably the elms which begin to bloom so early.  Then it is usually done by the time the Purple Mustard (Chorispora Tinella) quits covering the desert meadows with their Eastery carpet.  In about another week I'm going to have to head South and East, maybe out on the Old Bonanza Highway so I can enjoy that pastel delight.  Acres and acres will be blanketed with mustard.  It stinks, but I think it's one of the prettiest Springtime delights.  I'll suffer for it.  But most nice things come at a price.  Purple mustard has a tiny little flower.

And would hardly be noticed if there weren't billions of them.  I love that notion - strength in numbers.  I guess the same is true of pollen.  Cough, cough.

 I get another little allergy spell in the Fall and that's about it.

As allergies go.  Mine aren't so bad.  I have acquaintance who suffers horribly for months and months.  Another friend claims to be allergic to alcohol.  "Every time I drink, I break out in handcuffs," he complains.  A nephew is allergic to peanuts, dangerously so.  What's a lost night's sleep compared with anaphylactic shock!

So, I'll ache and wheeze a little, enjoy the return of spring and flora and then celebrate the day when my swollen membranes shrink, relax and inhale the breath of life quite freely again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

95 Years and Counting. Or Living a Life that Counts.

I stopped in to see Brother Len in the hospital this morning.  He's in the ICU after having had his gall bladder removed on Monday.  The ICU is mostly a precaution on account of his advanced age.  "That gall bladder served me well for 95 years." he tells me.  "Can't very well complain."

He's not on any pain medication and was sitting up smiling and giving the doctor a hard time for not releasing him to go home.  He's not too happy spending his days in the hospital, something he's had very little experience with in his long life.  He's got everybody laughing and wondering how someone so old can still be so well.

His daughters are here.  His son came over the week end.  No spring chickens themselves.  They are fussing over him and giving me contradictory asides as he explains that he's good as new.  My money is on Len's opinion, not theirs.

I'm sure Len is anxious to get home and back to the Temple.  He rarely misses a day, faithfully serving in the House of Lord day, after week, after month, after year.  He's an institution around here.  He was Principal of the old Naples Elementary before it was torn down in 1966 or so.  Later he moved to Ashley Elementary, where he was Principal during all the years my daughters attended.  He seemed very old back then.  He still claims that Sweetie was the best PTA President they ever had.  He probably says that to all the girls, but the sincerity in his eye tells me he's right.

Like yours and mine, Len's days are numbered and shall not be counted fewer than God intends.  I'm thankful that today, God intends to leave him here a while longer.  I'm also thankful that He let me stick around long enough to enjoy Len's joyful, wise countenance, one more time.  Makes me want to hang in there, like Len.

Monday, April 4, 2011

General Conference, Did I Miss Anything?

I've got to admit that I dozed off a couple of times during Conference.  I'm not proud to admit it.  But it happened.  On Facebook I noticed a number of such confessions.  I appreciate everyone's honesty.  It gave me comfort to know I wasn't the only one.

A few of those comments suggested that they'd have to make up for it by reading those talks they missed when they come out in the Ensign.  That's great.  Sweetie mentioned that I missed a great talk on pain by Elder Richards.  This morning I went to and listened to it in its entirety, just as if I hadn't fallen asleep.  What a wonderful blessing!  I think I'm going to listen to a different talk every morning for a while.

We no longer have to wait for the Ensign to come out.  And... if we should have something come up, or perhaps have to work during the regular broadcast, we are free to go online and enjoy Conference any time we wish!  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Two Reasons I Look Forward to Conference

The most obvious reason is that it is such a feast to sit at the feet of the prophets!  Their inspired words always inspire and lift me.  This conference was no exception.  What wonderful guidance we were so freely offered.  I marvel at the humility of these fine servants of the Lord.  Too often we think of them as celebrities who just go around motivating and encouraging us.  We hardly notice that behind the scenes these men and women perform Herculean tasks that involve monumental decisions and tremendous organizational and leadership effort.  There's is not an easy task of comfortable notoriety.  Theirs is a complete, entire and constant commitment of consecration.

That leads me to the other thing I so eagerly anticipate about Conference.  Here in Utah we get to watch documentaries about the Church in between sessions.  Presentations about Temples being built.  Missionary efforts abroad.  Tours of the Tabernacle Choir.  Things like that.  This Conference marked the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Church Welfare Program.  Much of the programing between sessions of Conference focused on that.  What a wonder to behold as Latter-day Saints from all around the world sacrifice time and resources to care for those in need.  Organizationally, that alone, is among the most incredible efforts on the planet today.  Producing, preparing and storing our own commodities, having our own distribution systems in place, responding to immediate needs here and abroad, requires an army of laborers and we seem to never lack for those who will step forward to serve.

Tears rolled down my face as I learned of a Ward, who, on Christmas day went out to a Church vineyard to prune the grapes in preparation for next year's growing season.  They called it a gift for the Christ Child.  Farm workers themselves, having little time off, they chose to serve the Lord on that precious day they were not required to work for their employers.  Legion, were the examples of faithful Saints quietly stepping forward to meet the needs not only of friends and neighbors, but of total strangers a world away.

In my own Ward I marvel at all the hours that are quietly spent serving, loving and watching over one another.  Spread that blessing across the globe, as it surely is in over 28,000 Wards and Branches, and it's power and magnificence is truly magnificent!  What a blessed time to be upon the earth!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Parley P Pratt's Pre-Priesthood Pizza Party

My cousin Steve is LDS Institute Director at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.  Last night the men of the Tute held an activity in conjunction with the Priesthood Session of General Conference.  Because of the time difference the meeting doesn't begin on the east coast until 8:00 PM.  So at 7 Pm they had "7 P's" or "Parley P Pratt's Pre-Priesthood Pizza Party."  What a great idea!  I wanted to do the same here in our Utah Ward, but alas, didn't hear about it until yesterday.

When I got to the Stake Center to enjoy Priesthood Meeting I sat by a good friend of mine who is an Elder's Quorum President.  He was crying.  We were 15 minutes early so we had a good talk.  He'd just been out trying to rally some Quorum members to the meeting.  He had failed.  There he sat all alone, feeling inadequate for the huge responsibility he bore on his sturdy shoulders.  I don't know if there is anything one can say to offer comfort at such a moment.  He wants so badly to bless their lives but too often they refuse his invitations.  I suppose the Master feels the same way.

I suggested we try the 7 P's next fall, which cheered him some.  But then I sat there wondering if I'd feel any better if they came for the pizza instead of the blessings inherent in sitting at the feet of the prophets.  Is there satisfaction in success if they are baited into attendance by their appetites instead of their testimonies?  Do we want them to learn to be good for pizza?  Or good for nothing?

On the other hand we are invited to be fishers of men, perhaps a little bait is in order.
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