Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vehicles, vehicles!

Bill is the Vehicle Coordinator for the mission and even though this does not involve oil changes or fixing brakes, it keeps him very busy.  We have received 5 new Chevy Malibu's in the last month, two Toyota Corolla's are waiting to be picked up as soon as the paper work is done, and 4 Fords are in the works.  This creates many phone calls, faxes, computer work and more phone calls for him.  These cars have to be delivered to missionaries and the cars they have been driving are brought to the mission office to be cleaned, inspected, repairs made to any incidental damage, advertised and sold.

In addition to this, three cars have been involved in accidents since we got here.  The first one happened the weekend we arrived back in August and it was caused by the missionary going around a corner at too high a speed, skidding and taking out the right rear fender/bumper on a guard rail.  The next two happened General Conference weekend.  A deer tried to cross the road and didn't survive the impact with the car.  And a pickup driving toward the missionaries car lost a wheel which sped down the highway and hit the missionaries' car then went under the car.  Damages came to over $6000 for that one, but because it was a fairly new car, it was not totaled. Fortunately, there were no injuries with the exception of the deer.  Needless to say, that creates a lot more phone calls, paperwork, reports, faxes, etc.

However, not all is unpleasant.  A week ago Wednesday, we found out the damage to the "tire accident" car was going to take more time to repair than first estimated.  One of the new cars needed to be delivered to Elders West and Papa in Ithica, which is about 100 miles from Utica.  The elders with the damaged car were in Cortland, which is half way in between.  So Bill drove the new Malibu and I drove our car and we went to Ithica, found their apartment without much trouble (thank goodness for the GPS which seems to work a lot better here than out West), dropped off the new car and picked up the old one.  The elders were a tiny bit disappointed--the old car was a 2008 Malibu, same color as the new one, and didn't look a bit different!  Somehow, it just didn't feel like a new car.  We visited for a few minutes then headed to Cortland.  Again, we found their house without much trouble, but we couldn't find Elders Spotz and Dalton!  We rang what we thought was the bell to their apartment, but no one answered.  So we called them (thank goodness for cell phones--every missionary companionship has one) and they said they would be there shortly, they were just around the corner.  We waited another 10 minutes because just around the corner was a few blocks and they were on foot.  They were grateful for the wheels, they had already been on foot for two weeks.  They took us up to their apartment--they live in a big, three-story colonial that had been divided into three apartments.  They live in half of the second floor and we were impressed with how clean it was.  I wished we had brought cookies...  Again, we visited for a few minutes then drove home.  Cortland is a pretty town with some really impressive old buildings.  We took a short detour and drove past the Catholic cathedral the elders told us about.  It was close to 200 years old and beautiful.  I wished it had been a better day so we could take pictures, but it rained all day.  In spite of the rain, it was a beautiful drive, the leaves were still colorful and we enjoyed the outing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Conference Weekend

Before I get started on this weeks report, I should clear up last week--Bill and I have been married nine years, not eight.  I'm not sure where my brain was...

We had two conferences this weekend.  Elder Paul B. Pieper of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy came to hold a Mission Conference with the New York Utica Mission.  Because our mission is so large geographically, he held meetings in Albany on Thursday, Potsdam on Friday, and Syracuse Saturday.  We attended the Syracuse conference.  We had a great time.  We met some missionaries we hadn't yet met and got to visit with some we did know.  Elder Pieper spoke for three hours (with a few rest breaks, thank goodness).  He taught the missionaries about the importance of teaching doctrine in order to help investigators and new converts face and overcome problems.  He quoted David B. Haight, "Nothing touches the soul but what it leaves its impress on our soul.  Everything you do either invites the spirit or chases it away.  Distraction does not have to be evil to be effective."  He taught us to fill our minds with goodness.  No good thought is ever lost.  We should focus on what is clean and right and good.  Instead of trying to drive out darkness we should fill our minds with light.  He said that planning is creating faith to go forward and revelation comes when we are moving.  He was really great.  After having lunch, we headed back to Utica.

At 6:00 I headed to the Stake Center for choir practice and found that the Priesthood Leadership meeting was still in session.  It had started at 4:00 p.m.!  Choir practice finally started about 6:20 and I realized that most of the people in the foyer were just waiting to get into the chapel for the 7:00 session of Stake Conference!  I called Bill and explained that the chapel was already 3/4 full and if he wanted a seat, he should come soon.  Practice was dismissed at 6:50 and when we got to the chapel, it was nearly full and the cultural hall was mostly full, too.  Bill had managed to get a seat in the chapel and save one for me.  We enjoyed hearing from President and Sister Bulloch and Elder Matthew Eyring who is an area Seventy living in Boston. After a rest song, Elder David R. Bednar spoke for an hour.  Wow! what a great man.  He taught us the gospel, focusing on the Atonement, the Savior, and the blessings of the Gospel in our lives.  He challenged us to get new copies of the Book of Mormon and read it through, marking every passage that is a variation of the phrase, "In the strength of the Lord."  He said it would change our lives.

Sunday morning we drove to Rome where we met in the Rome Free Academy auditorium for the morning session.  The Stake Presidency was reorganized and we heard from the outgoing and incoming leaders.  President Malcheck had served for 9 1/2 years.  He told us that when he was made Stake President, he told his boss what was going to be expected of him, that he might have to miss work for funerals, meetings, etc.  His boss was very understanding and accommodating.  (I should remind you at this point that there has been a flurry of news coverage this week about the Reverend Jeffress's comment that Mormonism is a cult).  When President Malcheck got to work Tuesday morning, his boss passed him a note that read, "Are you going to attend your cult meeting tomorrow?"  And he wrote back, "No that's Thursday."  We loved that.

After the rest song we heard from Elder Eyring and Elder Bednar.  The stake leaders were quite short winded and Elder Bednar had a full hour to teach us again.  He told us some stories that he told us he didn't want to have recorded in blogs that would show up everywhere.  But one story I can retell.  He reminded us what "Hot Wheels" were and told us that his sons loved to ride them around the cul-de-sac where they lived, going as fast as they could, then turning sharply, which would cause the rear wheels to skid.  One day two of them were out riding and the younger of the two was going too fast and skidded into a parked car.  Brother (this was before he was an apostle) and Sister Bednar were watching from the living room window, and when they could see that the boy was not seriously hurt, and that the older boy was going to help his brother, they watched to see what would happen.  The boys came into the house and made their way to the kitchen.  Then there was much screaming and howling as the older boy poured dish detergent on the scrape that covered most of the younger boy's arm.  Then louder screaming as the scrape was scrubbed until it was deemed clean, then rinsed off.  Then a brand new tube of Neosporin and a full box of bandaids were located and 3/4 of the neosporin was wiped over the scrape, up and down the arm.  Then the bandaids were applied, one after another till most of the bandaids were used.  Tears were dried and the little one grabbed what was left of the Neosporin and bandaids and headed outside to find his friends.  He showed them his "Owie" then proceeded to apply the salve and bandaids to his friends arms.  And the moral of the story?  The boy, after having been cleansed, after having received the healing balm, wanted to share this great stuff with his friends!  And that what all good people do when they have received the healing balm of the Savior--they want to share the good news with their friends!  And that's what missionary work is all about!

More Fall Color

I thought I would share some more fall color and discovered that it's not easy to catch the brilliance.
This is the bush outside our front door that I shared a couple of weeks ago--it is much prettier now than then, but it doesn't look much different in the picture.  Oh well, it is still pretty.

These trees are across the driveway from our apartment--we can see them from our dining room window and I enjoy watching them at lunch time.  Their color is much deeper, too.

We pass this tree on our way to and from work every day.  It's colors are brilliant orange.

This tree is in the church yard next to our office.  Beautiful yellow and orange leaves on the same tree!

I don't know what kind of tree this is, but I've never seen leaves quite like this.  They turn this lovely color of red just a few leaves at a time, while all the rest remain a deep green.  I think I came close to catching the real color in this picture.

This tree is a beautiful bright yellow and stands across the driveway by our office.  We had a rain storm Friday afternoon with really heavy wind and the tree is almost bare now.  When we went out to get in our car after work, it was plastered with little yellow leaves.  After two days of driving, there are still some leaves clinging to parts of the car.
So, if any of you have any suggestions on how to get a better picture of the true brilliance of these trees, I would sure like to hear them.  As you can see in some of the pictures, there are still plenty of trees that haven't changed color and I would really like to catch it in color.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eight Years!

Tuesday we celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary with a loaf of banana bread I had baked on Saturday.  Neither of us had time to shop for presents, so we decided to take a trip instead.  We made reservations at Prospect Point Cabins on Blue Mountain Lake in Adirondack Park.  We left work early Friday afternoon and drove up, about a 75 mile trip. This was the view from our cabin door Saturday morning.

This is a view of the interior--as you can see, quite rustic.  It had a living room with a day bed plus chairs, a dining table and full kitchen, plus two bedrooms and a large bathroom with bunches of towels in case we wanted to take a dip in the lake.  Since we had to check out by 9:00 a.m., we didn't.

We drove up to Indian Lake for supper Friday evening since there were no restaurants in Blue Mountain Lake.  Bill had a generous chicken club sandwich and I had tempura shrimp served with orange ginger sauce and corn pudding.  The pudding was kind of like a savory custard with whole kernels of corn and green chilies.  It was great, once I got accustomed to the texture.

This is a view of the cabin we stayed in.  We had half of the downstairs portion of the cabin.  We wondered what the upstairs accommodations were like.

Breakfast was served in the main cabin and was scrumptious--scrambled eggs and mini soufles, muffins and waffles, sausage, bacon and meatballs; fruit and steel-cut oats with all the fixings.  We sat with a family from Rochester that had been coming to Prospect Point for four years.  Very nice people.

We were a little disappointed with the autumn leaves.  We were expecting bright reds, golds, oranges and yellows like the pictures you see of Vermont.  However, there were lots of trees that had already lost their leaves and maybe one in ten that had turned a modest shade of yellow or red.

One of the kitchen staff told us that the peak of color had happened last week, but that this wasn't a really good year.  A lot of the leaves got knocked off by all the storms over the past couple of weeks, so there just weren't many leaves left.  You can see some of them on the ground in the picture above.

There are so many lakes in Adirondack Park, that they started naming them by number--Eighth Lake, Seventh Lake, etc.  I think this is Fifth Lake.  You can get a better idea of the lack of color in these pictures.  But it was still beautiful.

Old Forge is a tourist town located in the southern end of the park.  It has many curio shops, antique stores, what-not shops and hardware stores--I counted three!  One is called the Old Forge Hardware Store and More.  And it really is.  It is huge, with lots of rooms and additions.  They sell hardware as well as gifts, gourmet food, log furniture,clothes, books, toys, kitchen wares including cookie jars, curios and what-nots.  This picture is of the yarn room which had all kinds of yarn from acrylic to merino wool, alpaca and whatever else you can imagine.  It was fun browsing, but I couldn't imagine a project that I would want to spend $8-$9 (and up to $25!) a skein on.
 The Touch of Ritz was a whirligig place with all their wares displayed outside.  There were animals, insects and fish and a small school bus, bicycles, motorcycles, windmills, etc., all with whirling parts set in motion by the wind.  It was fascinating, but I was reminded why I had always liked this sort of thing but had never purchased one--$75 seems like a lot to pay for a polyester toy that will probably only last one season.

When we got home Saturday afternoon, we drove out to the chapel in Oneida for a baptism and discovered that the last five miles of that trip was full of trees with the most beautiful autumn leaves!  Much prettier than what we had seen in Adirondack Park.  The color had developed since last Sunday and will probably be gone by next week.  We are surely enjoying them while they last.

It's been a wonderful eight years and we are looking forward to many more together.

Farmers Market

This is the Whitesboro Town Hall.  It was erected in 1807, as noted on the picture below of the plaque above the door.  Isn't it a great building?

Apparently, it was not built to be a town hall, as it was donated by the Honorable Philo White in 1860!

Across the street from Town Hall is the village green.  Whitesboro is a village, not a town or city.  Every Monday afternoon since early August, local farmers and artisans gather, set up booths, and have a Farmers Market.  You can't see this woman's big kettle very well, but she makes kettle corn and sells it for $4.00 for a small bag or $5 for a large one.  The one you see on the table is large, but the small isn't much smaller.  We buy a small one and it lasts us two days.  Yum!

This farmer has about 6 varieties of apples.  We bought about 5 pounds of Galas for $5.00.  They are smaller than most Galas that you buy in the grocery store, but they are very tasty.

This woman sets up every week, but I'm not sure she sells much--I haven't seen very many customers with money in their hands.  She has crocheted goods and baby clothes (you can see a display of burp rags).

This booth sells maple stuff--cotton candy is hanging on the left, bottles of syrup and bags of maple candy on the table.  We bought cotton candy a couple of weeks ago and the maple favor was delightful.

Now this is what we really came for: vegetables of every variety and we bought a head of savoy cabbage.  First one I've ever tasted.  It has a milder taste than regular cabbage, although the farmer told us it had a "bolder" taste.  We have made cole slaw as well as steamed cabbage and found it very good.  We also got bell peppers (50 cents each), beets (haven't had fresh beets for a long time), cucumbers, and Italian plums.  We have bought corn on the cob the last three weeks and it was to die for; not too mature and really sweet.  We've had fresh corn almost every night since we bought the first cobs.

We didn't buy any of these, but we were amazed to see that this is the way Brussel sprouts grow!  Who knew?
As you can see, we have eaten really healthy for several weeks.  The vegies are so fresh and good, we make entire meals out of them and have a hard time not over-eating.  There are several more venders, including two that sell goat cheese that is really good.  Unfortunately, Halloween will be the last time they will have it this year.  We will miss it and look forward to them resuming next summer.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A little housekeeping

When we arrived in New York we moved into an apartment on Clinton Road.  It is in a very large complex that consists of more than 24 buildings and meanders over several acres.  They are called the Sadaquada (the accent is on the first syllable, secondary accent on the third syllable) Apartments.You can see two buildings in the next picture.  There are very large trees throughout the complex, as well as beautiful lawns and flowers.  We are in building 6, apartment A.  We think it is the nicest apartment we have had on our missions. We think the buildings are more than 40 years old, but they have been very well maintained. We are very happy here.

This is actually the building east of ours, but it looks very similar to ours.  I took this picture because the flowers and bushes in their front yard are beautiful, but they don't show very well in this picture.
When we moved into the apartment, the only furniture we had was two chairs and some bookcases in the living room; a table and two chairs in the dining room; a chest of drawers, two end tables and two twin beds in the bedroom!  The only overhead lights in the apartment are in the dining room and bathroom, so the two small table lamps in our bedroom were hardly adequate.  

But after two and a half weeks, the Riedelbachs finished their mission and were ready to head out on a vacation, visiting their kids in Sarajevo.  The Mission was closing out their apartment and opening this one for us (ours is only a mile from the office, the previous one was 10 miles away), so all of their furniture came over to our apartment.  Below you see the results!

We also bought several lamps.  This one has a paper shade that has a very Oriental feel.

As you can see, our kitchen is quite small.  However, we have lived with smaller!  You will notice that there is a dishwasher, which is a first.  Can you tell I'm happy about that?  And a full size stove!  Much better than a hot plate and a toaster oven.

After we had been here a month, we bought this kitchen island that we found at Wal-Mart.  It provided a place to put the microwave and storage for silverware and a lot of stuff that was sitting on top of the table.  Yeah!

We also got a king size bed which we put in the master bedroom (yes, it is a two bedroom apartment) for which we bought a beautiful pale gold bedspread with matching valances.  I tried to upload pictures of this lovely room, but blogspot wouldn't cooperate.  So, unless I find some excuse to put the pictures in a different story, you'll just have to be content with my description.