Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holiday blog - 2014

Nativity scene I took at our Ward Christmas party
It is hard to start a new blog. Evidently I haven't done enough musing since returning to Missouri. Or maybe I depended too much on Mongolia and our mission as easy and enjoyable subject matter. Doing a blog is hard work but so is writing a column. There is something about deadlines and obligations that motivates me. 

I realize that no news isn't exactly good either. So I've turning over a new leaf. 

This blog will be transferred to Musings in Missouri as soon as I get it designed and located on the Web. In the meantime, here it is. 

I will post our Thanksgiving photos, trip to NYC and Christmas photos to bring you up to date on our lives. 

But first - a status report. I had a health scare with a low heart rate. After wearing an EKG halter for 24 hours, upon viewing the results the cardiologist asked me, "Were you an athlete?" and practically kicked me out of his office with no return appointments. I don't remember being particularly athletic and my wife assured the doctor emphatically that I was not.  

I have a calling as a marriage and family relations teacher in our Sunday School and Darlene has a Family History Consultant calling. We have been called to serve as ordinance workers in the St. Louis temple. We will serve the morning shift during the 3rd week of every month. 

Darlene does a lot of work with food preservation, and emergency preparedness, Our home is back to the way we like it and I have run out of seasonal landscaping and gardening work to do.

Darlene helps out with our daughters who live by us in St. Louis, teaches piano to the grandchildren, travels to North Carolina and Pennsylvania to be with and assist two other daughters. Our St.Louis life is filled with grandchildren, church and home improvement activities.   

I will be doing some photography projects including a book on our mission in Mongolia. I will be looking into a writing a book on farm family business and personal communication. I have four speaking engagements in Iowa during January. I will also be signing up for a Russian language course at our local community college. 

Enough of that, here are some of our favorite pictures from our holiday and travel adventures. 
Gypsy couple with three grandchildren at Halloween 

Thanksgiving week. We went to Wilkes-Barre PA to visit our daughter Tally and her family.  Three other daughters and their children were able to come to Pennsylvania for a mini-reunion. 

A group of us went on to New York City for two days of touring. We headed back early to beat a winter snow storm moving through Pennsylvania. 
View from top of the Empire State Building 

The Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty from the shoreline 

World Trade Center number one 

Sept. 11 Memorial - waterfall where one building stood
Names of the victims surround the waterfall on all sides

Grand Central Station - our group is lined up in center
We went to Central Park and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Magnificent!

Plaza with sculptures 
Knights with armor and flags with coats of arms 

Washington crossing the Delaware

One of our favorite Marie Callas paintings
The New York street scene and Times Square was a highlight. Part of our group caught "Matilda", "Wicked" and "Beautiful" musicals one the two nights while we were there. 
Trevor and Alec Barney with street performers 

Statues of Liberty walking around on stilts 
Back to PA, We beat the snow storm back to Wilkes-Barre. It snowed a fluffy, soft eight inches and we we able to build an eight foot snow man. Also pictured is Tally and Eric's new home.Beautiful home in a picture perfect winter scene. 

Besides the great Thanksgiving meal, the cousins and Aunt Trista played games 
Christmas Eve Dinner. 

Christmas Eve Dinner with the St. Louis families and grandchildren at our home 

Our Mongolian and Hungarian nativities

Our grandchildren enact the nativity

Santa pays a visit

He attracted a lot of attention

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The last blog - a surprise visit, hot air Balloons, and a glimpse into what's next

Balloon glow - St. Louis
A surprise visit. As we were preparing to return to Missouri from our three week trip to Utah, we heard from our son Tyler that he and his family would be returning from Japan for a nine day family visit. We were delighted to hear this news. Instead of waiting a year to see their family, it meant “now”.
Tyler and his son Gideon
The rub was that one day after we made it back to St. Louis, they asked us to pick them up at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, six hours one way from St. Louis. 

We had a serpentine belt break on our Durango just outside of Rawlins, Wyoming. The location was extremely fortunate and we had a relatively quick but expensive repair and we were on the road again.

After one day at our home, I was on the road again back to Omaha. On the way to pick them up, I used this trip to pick up a few more items from an Amish store near Jamesport, Missouri.

Tyler, April and their four children flew from Okinawa to Alaska to Omaha to meet me with incredible timing just as I was driving up to the main gate at Offutt AFB. We drove all night, arriving at 4:00 am at our home. 

We hosted their family in our home. Having their family in St. Louis set off a wild and busy week of reunion and cousin activities.
Cousins getting together
sitting - April, Tawny, Tassa - standing Mariah and Tyler
Fire pit fun

Others join the fun. Our oldest daughter Tara had previously arranged to attend a dermatology conference in St. Louis so that meant four of our seven adult children and 14 cousins would be reunited.
Left to right - Tara, April, Tyler, Tassa. Tawny, and Brian 
Two cousins didn't make the picture 
Kesner family with Brian's parents
Our daughter Tawny’s in-laws were also arriving midweek for a planned visit from Pocatello, Idaho to join this burgeoning mass of humanity.
Ourselves with our two newest grandsons, Max and Gideon
Balloon glow.  One special event we enjoyed together was the annual Balloon Glow event held at Forrest Park. 

This is a prelude to a Hot Air Balloon race to be held the next day. I hadn’t attended before but Darlene had. 
Two grandmothers walking with progeny to the Balloon glow
It was a wondrous surreal event - well worth the hassle of crowds and traffic coming and going.
Camping out in a crowd
Hot air  balloon
Our group fortuitously met up in the middle of the crowd and watched in awe as all the balloons would fire up and light up simultaneously at three to five minute intervals. 
Firing hot air into a balloon

Dazzling colors

If you are ever in St. Louis in September, put this on your calendar.
Our new post-mission life. Our company left on Saturday and Sunday and we are finally into our daily routine. I got some good news on my heart health and am managing my diabetes through an effective low carbohydrate diet. 

I have picked up a couple of speaking engagements ad have one farm family business consultation in the offing.

Darlene has been called as a Ward Family History Consultant (what else?) and I will be starting an eight week marriage and family relations class on Sundays beginning Oct. 12.

Last blog. This will be the last regular blog for “Musings in Mongolia”. The blog will remain on the Internet for viewers to read for background information and photography about Mongolia. 

From time to time I will add church-related information about Mongolia, reunion events about Mongolian returned missionaries and announcements about a future publication of a photographic journal of our mission.

I will be starting a new blog, “Musings in Missouri”.  This will be a more traditional family blog though I am still contemplating offering social and cultural commentary and advice on the blog also. This will be a work in progress.

Working with my son-in-law, Darin Andersen, I will be revising my website, to make access to my archived writings more user friendly. 

I will also be writing a new book on family farm relationships to go with my two other books on marriage and farm stress. I think I will be busy. I know my wife Darlene will be busy and productive. It is her nature.

Thank you all my dependable and faithful reader/viewers who received “Musings in Mongolia” so well. It chronicled an unbelievably rewarding two years of our lives and we were pleased to share it with you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Finishing our trip

The Ogden temple - to  be dedicated Sept. 21

We had a busy three weeks in Utah. Here some of the highlights. On a previous blog we documented our time visiting family and friends in Utah Valley. 

The remainder of the trip was spent visiting our daughter,Trista, and her husband, Darin, and their six children in Logan, Utah and Darlene’s brother, Ron, and his wife, Kathie, in Cove, Utah near the Idaho border.

          Visit to Providence and Cove, Utah

At Trista’s home, we enjoyed the grandchildren and helped with many projects, both with the yard and in the house. 

Luke's (on left) birthday breakfast 

After the garage was cleaned and organized

During our last week we saw a performance of the Wizard of Oz with two of our grandchildren being in the production. 

                      The Wizard of Oz
Grandsons Collin and Luke were in the play
Curtain call for principal actors
The Wicked Witch of the West

Utah State - Idaho State football game
I also took Ryan to his first football game where we watched Utah State play Idaho State. 
Part of the action
Flag twirlers during halftime show.
Grandson Ryan getting a hug from Big Blue

Unbeknownst to me, the rest of the family ended up with free tickets and we all watched the game together.  
Ron and Darlene
At Ron and Kathie’s, we exchanged stories from their mission to Hungary and our mission to Mongolia. It was special to share each other’s experiences in the mission field. 
Ron and Kathie Felsted extracting honey - neighbor on right

They have a small farm and enjoyed their peaceful life with them for a couple of days. 
The Franklin cemetery near Cove, Utah

They live less than a mile from the Franklin cemetery where my mother’s parents are buried.
My grandparents' grave 

A visit to St. George
We traveled to St. George with them to visit Ron and Darlene’s 95 year old uncle who lives there in an assisted living facility. 
St. George temple
Swimming at the motel
Jay Taylor - Darlene's uncle

Scott Taylor
It was a sweet visit. Uncle Jay is alert and sharp in his thinking. It was fun to share our mission experiences with him and his son Scott.
Uncle Jay, Ron and Kathie Felsted, Darlene, and Scott Taylor Jay's son and Darlene's cousin

Elder Palmer’s mother had arranged for us to meet President Benson’s parents who live in St. George. They are currently serving a full time membership support mission in their Stake. 
John and Kathleen Benson

They were gracious and hospitable hosts for us as we presented a power point program on our mission in Mongolia. 
Benson family and the Palmers and Farmers

They also invited several of their family members who live in the area to come also.
It was special to meet Sister Palmer and her daughter Annalisa. She has been a big fan of this blog. You can tell by her many comments she made online.
Jeanette Palmer and Darlene

Besides Sister Palmer, we connected with Elder Odd’s family in Menden, Utah. They served us a lovely meal and then we showed our pictures of Mongolia. 
Elder Odd's parents, brother, sister and grandmother in Menden Utah

We formed friendships with their sons in the mission field and now we are making friends with their parents. It was special.

            The Ogden temple open house

One last event was attending the open house at the Ogden temple with our daughter and son-in-law, our granddaughter Leah and with the Groesbecks, a couple who served with us in Mongolia. 
Darin and Trista with daughter Leah on left

It was a special time together as we viewed the beauty and grandeur of this new temple.
The Groesbecks with Darlene at the Ogden temple open house

We and the Groesbecks traveled up the canyon to Huntsville to visit the Richardsons, another couple who served with us in Mongolia.  
The Groesbecks, Richardsons, and Farmers at the Richardson home in Huntsville, Utah 

They live in Huntsville, Utah – the boyhood home of President David O. McKay. We all reminisced about our times together in Mongolia and renewed our friendships.

So long  to our wonderful visit to Utah