Sunday, July 17, 2011

So let me tell you about my weekend. It all started two weeks ago when DJ Micaiah (that's short for disc jockey) invited me to go to the Palmyra Pageant. I'd never been and I'm usually game to do anything legal, moral, and ethical at least once. So we met at his apartment at Davis Square in Somerville bright and early Friday morning. He disc jockeyed the 6 hour trip there.

We arrived around 1ish at a KOA in Canandaigua, about 15 miles south of Palmyra. I wasn't crazy about camping but I also wasn't crazy about forking out for a hotel bill on this trip. When we got there, DJ discovered this HUGE "bouncy pillow" on the campground. It looked like it's made of a tough elastic plastic and is big enough for several adults to jump on. But there are rules. And I didn't see the rules. So without knowing it, I immediately broke the first two: 1. Wear socks and 2. Don't flip. What's the purpose of a bouncy pillow if you can't flip? But it's not the flipping that became problematic. I developed and popped a huge, THICK, deep, blister on my big toe from the hot elastic plastic from jumping barefoot. It was 90 degrees and I know that's winter weather in Arizona country, but I've never truly been an Arizona girl, even though I was born there. One habit I did develop in AZ is wearing as little as possible. That includes on my feet.

Then we went swimming. My favorite part of a swimming pool is the diving board, you know, so I can flip. But they didn't have a diving board. So I decided to see how long I could wade in the deep end. It's a funny thing about Mormons. Once we discover the other is LDS, it's like an instant comradery develops. That's how it was at this camp. Lots of Mormons there for the pageant. There was a cute little French-speaking family at the pool that kept me entertained while I tested my wading endurance abilities. They were from Montreal. The dad served his mission in Taiwan and knew one of my cousins who served there - Joshua Westover. The mom, Karen, had three adorable kids and looked like an athlete. My raw blister starting stinging after 40 minutes, so I reluctantly threw in the towel. When I was drying off, the youngest boy of that family, probably about 3, embraced my right leg like a long lost friend. Karen was embarrassed but I was flattered. As a single person, I love getting hugs from cute boys!

Before retiring for the evening, the two boys I went with (Micaiah and Jason) and I went to Palmyra to scope it out (my second there. I was there in 2004). We drove passed the pageant site and to the Sacred Grove, where we walked around. We left Jason in there to take care of some personal spiritual business. I slept pretty well that night in the car. Yes. Alone.

The highlight on Saturday was a session in the Palmyra Temple. The windows and Celestial Room are amazing! It's the 16th temple I've gone to a session in. (Other places include California, Massachusetts, NYC, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington, DC, and Colonia Juarez, Mexico). Then the guys decided they wanted to see Lake Ontario 20 miles away. But we kept passing fruit stands. And DJ Micaiah decided he wanted some fruit. So we had to find a Bank of America ATM. After asking every blond girl along the way where the nearest B of A ATM was, two hours later we finally found one that we'd passed by. Then we spent the next 4 hours looking for a clean, sandy piece of Lake Ontario beach. No such luck. We did find one beautiful area with open green space and shady trees, but like everything else, the beach was rocky. The other areas were full of green stuff with big (2 feet long) dead fish strewn about.

We finally gave up and went to the Palmyra Pageant at Hill Cumorah. But not before stopping by a fruit stand. I bought freshly picked raspberries. After having been to a million Mesa Temple Easter Pageants, I've become jaded to pageantry. But it did have some cool special effects and it was cool seeing Joseph Smith (who we met earlier) get the gold plates on the actual Hill Cumorah right before us. The pageant started at 9:15 and ended about 10:30. One pageant member estimated there were 6,000 people in attendance.

On Sunday, since the boys felt jipped from getting in good beach time the day before, they decided the finger lakes was the way to go. So we hit the biggest one. Cost: $3.00. Fun: limited because the lifeguards watch every move you make. We found that out after Micaiah swam to me wading knee deep in the water, swooped me up over his shoulder, carried me to an area of sufficient depth, and slam dunked me into the water. Fortuately I had my swimsuit on. Unfortunately, I had my only clean shirt on over that. It was a wet ride home. We did stop in Albany where I took pictures of the state capital - the 21st state capitol I've been to. Albany rivals the Connecticut state house in detail and beauty. Downtown Albany is stunning though. Very original architecture. They have a building called "The Egg." Can you guess what it looks like?
So that was my adventurous trip to the Palmyra Pageant.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sweet memories

So I decided to follow the crowd and blog. Everyone else is doing it! Sometimes I think I lead a pretty exciting life so it just makes sense to share it with everyone. I will start off with my most recent thoughts.

I've been thinking lately about my childhood and how wonderful it was to grow up in my neighborhood next to my Grandma and Grandpa Russell, especially when my cousins came over. Oh the memories. The sleepovers. The scary movies. I am so lucky to have such fun cousins and to have grown up with them. They are such good people.

And then I remember spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa Westover's just two miles away. When we knelt for evening prayers, they always thanked Heavenly Father for having me over. It was so sweet. Their home was a little piece of heaven. Grandma Westover used to make the best cream puffs in the shape of a swan. She loved children and she loved her grandchildren. Grandpa Westover was always so positive and exemplary, and a beautiful man, even in his 80s. Grandma Westover would've had to fight me for him if I'd been around in the 1930s.

It was from my attentive grandparents that I developed my lifelong passion for family history. Family history is more than just names, dates, and places. It is finding out and remembering who you are and where you come from and why you are the way you are. I take after Grandma Russell the most I think, at least physically.

As I have read about my ancestors, I can pinpoint exactly where I get certain traits.

From my Grandpa Russell's father's mother, Harriett Brewer, I get my passion for genealogy. She once flew to Connecticut from Arizona to do original research in her old age. As a result of her efforts, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City acquired a large collection.

From my Grandpa Russell's mother's father's father, Joseph Fish, I get my passion for history. He meticulously kept and published a valuable history of Arizona Territory.

From my Grandma Russell's father's mother, Margaret Mortensen Ray, I get my love of beauty and desire to have things look orderly and beautiful.

From my Grandma Russell's mother, Juanita Stout, I get my passion for learning and teaching. (I actually get several doses of that from several ancestors, including my mom and Grandpa Russell, both of whom received degrees in education and my mother's mother's father's father, Edward Milo Webb, who started and presided over Snowflake Academy in Arizona). Before she got married in 1914, Juanita Stout attended the University of Utah and taught school.

From my Grandpa Westover's mother, Adele Bushman, I get my organizational skills. My mom says that despite raising 11 fine children, she managed to keep a clean house.

From my Grandma Westover's mother's father's father, David Cluff, I get my passion for adventure. He started out in eastern New Hampshire and had his 12 children (1 girl, 11 boys) in Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa, before settling in Utah. Born in 1795, he was 82 in 1877 when he decided he wanted to move to Arizona - because he'd never been there. Brigham Young once said of my great-great-great grandfather "David Cluff is so imbued with the spirit of pioneering that it is very difficult for him to settle down for any great length of time in one place."

So there you have it. I might add that I credit my ability to handle the cold weather well (despite growing up in the hottest spot in the country) from my three Scandinavian great-great-grandmothers - Margaret Mortensen from Denmark, Joanna Erickson from Sweden, and Mary Ann Petersen from Denmark.

Now I must study geometry so I can do good on the GRE this summer and get into a good school for a masters and PhD in . . . history! What do I want to be when I grow up? A history professor (at Columbia University!)