Sunday, June 5, 2016

I'm still here........and still alive.......

Oh wow............I know it's been a long time since I posted, and I cannot write one tenth of all that has happened in that time. This is going to be an extremely quick over-view........AGH!!!! and now I realize I was behind then! This is going to be scary!
  • March 15--District leaders' training. I was in charge of the food again and we ran out!!!! No one told me you needed two pieces of meat per person when you are feeding men!!! (I know, I should have known from experience..........I think).
  • March 16--the senior missionaries had an outing to Selma, the civil rights sites and the Hyundai manufacturing plant near Montgomery. I had been less than enthusiastic about it, but was so thankful to learn more about civil rights in the 60s......or lack thereof. That was a good learning day for me.
  • Our son Daniel participated in a competition at Mississippi State, in Starkville........since it is in our mission, we went to watch. So fun! He and his partner were to build a garden bench in an hour and 50 minutes, never having seen the plans. They were given all the materials they needed. I was just hoping they would finish...........they took first place!!!!!!! It did look really nice and all that was lacking was 23 screws........... We met the sister of one of our Sister missionaries. Bonus!!!
Lovely antebellum bed and breakfast, spared because Columbus, MS was a "hospital" city for both armies.

Back of the house where we stayed in Columbus, MS.....I loved the ferns on the back porch
  • We had transfers (always a busy week and tiring) and MLC (stress-time for me) the next week....... All went well and we were thankful
  • March 26--blood donation. We have been blessed to be able to donate every two months since arriving! RAH!!
  • March 27--we had dinner at the mission home.......don't remember why, but it's always delightful to meet with the other senior missionaries and with President and Sister Hanks.
  • April 1--sisters' training. I was asked to speak about unseen angels who attend us and help us. I wanted to say the "right" things and it was not difficult to talk about it........I've had lots of help.
  • April 8 & 12--I was privileged to take a smocking class. I was the only one in the class! And they still had it!! So fun!!
  • April 14--the senior missionaries wandered the Tannehill Iron State Park (that was fascinating. I would like to go back 'cause we didn't have enough time), toured the Mercedes Benz manufacturing plant in Vance, Alabama, and ate at the Bright Star Restaurant (the oldest family owned restaurant in Alabama).........yummy food too.
The bricked up furnaces at Tannehill
  • April 17--attended church in Magnolia, one of the "oldest congregations" in the South, and probably built the first LDS chapel in Alabama--gorgeous setting. It was ward conference, so the stake people were there. Brother Martin gave us a "tour" of the old building, dedicated by Charles Callis and where LeGrand Richards gave at least one sermon.

The color and one room reminded me of Marion

  • April 20--the Newmans left to attend their daughter's graduation from BYU with a Masters--we were quite alone in the office till the Biron/Langleys came on...........
  • April 24--we took them to church with us in Ensley and had them over for dinner. They are from New Hampshire and have different last names because (her words) When we got married I told him he could change his name if he wanted to.
  • April 26--the Newmans returned for their last week to train Elder Biron and Sister Langley
  • April 30--the senior missionaries drove to Demopolis to see some antebellum houses and help move furniture into a new apartment of another senior couple who would be arriving a few days later.......the moving took much longer than anticipated, but we had a great time together.

"Bluff Hall" overlooking the Tombigbee River in Demopolis AL

Transom in Bluff Hall

quilt made of silk pieces--by hand, of course

All that is left of the bluffs since the damning of the Tombigbee River. They were 4-5 times that back in the day....
  • May 3-5--transfers again and...........
  • May 6--The Newmans left for good :-( Spanish missionaries' training........more food. I had it catered by a Mexican bakery owned by members, but that didn't relieve the stress--I was worried that it wouldn't be there and then it was somewhat short. But no complaints..........
  • May 8--we spoke in church for Mothers' Day. We were to teach of mothers in the scriptures.
  • May 10--MLC again.........
  • May 12--we took a young sister who is waiting for her mission call from Ensley  to Tuscaloosa to work with the sister missionaries there. She had a great time. We drove home in a really bad storm. While she was with the missionaries we toured the Alabama football stadium and a place called Moundville--mounds built by ancient Americans for the "upper class" to live on. 
Where Alabama's "upper class" watch the football games

The only two I recognized.............

  • May 17-25--zone conferences in Tupelo, Mississippi; Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Bessemer, Alabama...........always a very tiring two weeks. We were coming home from the Huntsville conference when some sisters called and wondered where they would find their car keys. We were sick........stopped along the freeway and looked through the trunk and back seat. We drove back up on the 19th to take a new car and look for the keys. Our prayers were answered........we found them...........
  • May 21 was another blood donation day
  • May 26--Went to Montgomery with senior missionaries to tour Maxwell Air Force Base and see a restored old beautiful home that is now law offices for a past stake president in Montgomery.........absolutely gorgeous!
  • May 27--Sister Langley finally got Elder Biron to go to the doctor to check on his "upper respiratory infection".........turned out to be lung cancer which had spread to his shoulder and hip........he left the next morning for Boston. She left Sunday, May 29, with her son. Our thoughts and prayers have been with them much of this week. 
  • So Roger and I are trying to take care of things in the office! AGH!!!!! Thankfully, everyone is so patient and I have spent hours on FaceTime with Sister Newman to make sure I am doing what needs to be done. It's kind of scary...........I found out yesterday I had sent a release certificate to the wrong stake president! Thankfully, I have time to send one to the correct one. 
The time is passing so quickly. We have MLC on Tuesday this week, a last dinner at the mission home with the senior couples, transfers the next week, and temple sessions with the young missionaries the next...............busy, busy, busy............. You can see it doesn't leave a lot of time for writing on a blog! Though I wish I had...........

Sunday, April 17, 2016

3 of ??..........catch up.......HA!!!!

.........at this rate I will never catch up.........so here are some random pictures of our travels (and very little writing) from another day with Richard.........

Who knew Alabama has covered bridges!?!?!?!!!!! We didn't till someone told us, so we had to go find them...........I think we found three, and the courage to drive across each one. This first one, we wondered about, till we saw a local drive across it..........

Horton Mill Bridge built in 1934

Some people can grow daffodils at random.........(sigh)..........

Easley Bridge built 1927

Swann Bridge built 1933

On the "top" of Alabama...........overlooking Guntersville Lake a.k.a. the Tennessee River......there are lots of dams and locks that have made it navigable but it has also backed it up into all the little valleys

Ahhhhh.................the thrill.............do you know........the first stage of this rocket, from the bottom to the first black ring, is just an enormous fuel tank? It's 138 feet long and was depleted in just 2 1/2 minutes! Got the whole thing off the launch pad and 38 miles into the air going 6000 mph! Just incredible to me.........the second stage, up to where it slants in, burned for 6 minutes, got it going 15,300 mph and 114.5 miles up........where it could enter earth orbit.......... Someday, I'm going to see it go up. I realize it will be an "old re-run" by then, but I still think Daddy and I will enjoy it.

The actual capsule of Apollo 16. It's been to the moon and back!!!!!! (and does look kind of beat up)

I love how the shuttle is "peeking" over the top of it's massive fuel tank. I can't tell you much about the shuttles.........it was Apollo that captured my heart...........

.........and when I go to space, I'm not going to need one of these..........we had a great time together...........

Sunday, April 10, 2016

2 of ?? .........catch up............

Richard came for a visit--part 1


It was so fun to have him come! And we had saved visiting Sloss Furnaces to go with him. (picture courtesy of http://www.slossfurnaces.com/)


I learned that day (again) of the sacrifice of so many who "built" this country. The "greatest generation" were not great just because they went to war.........I will try to give you a "picture". Just a warning--- this is a big place and these are "big" people ........almost larger than life...........

They began building Sloss furnaces in 1881, just when the South was beginning to recover from the war. In April 1882 the furnaces "went into blast"--(cool phrase). And once "in blast" they had to stay "in blast" because there would be no way to melt the iron if it cooled inside the furnace. In the first year they produced 24,000 TONS of iron........pig iron......so called because of the way it was formed--looking like a sow suckling her piglets--heavy piglets though, each weighing about 40 pounds.

 Every thing seemed oversized........Paul Bunyan size...........above is half a fly wheel used to power the blowing machines to blow the hot air into the furnace. Below--a wrench........

Most of the buildings, pipes, boilers, etc........most of what you see........is just to create enough hot air--some 1800 degrees F., I believe--to blast into the bottom of the furnace to burn the coke hot enough to melt the iron out of the ore. (Very elementary explanation and terms, but I'm kind of elementary myself). Maybe you can sense I was fascinated.............and awed.........

Below is the bottom of the furnace. The upper "hole" is called a tuyere (pronounced tweer) It delivers the hot air from the "stoves" into the furnace. The lower hole is where the molten iron would come out. No one was there to explain things, but I assume the iron would then run down the cement trough into the wet sand of the "casting floor" (behind us) that had been molded to make the "pigs". Everything sloped gently "downhill" from the furnace in this direction.

A borrowed picture...........a casting floor from a furnace somewhere else.

Now, here's an explanation that says it all....... "The men who broke up and carried out the iron from the sand casting beds were called iron carriers. Edward Uehling, inventor of the mechanical pig casting machine, described their work this way: "When the iron had cooled down to the temperature of solidification, but was still red hot, the iron carriers began their task. They covered the pigs with a layer of sand, then put on shoes with thick wooden soles, walked on the hot iron, and with crowbars broke the pigs off the sow and with sledge hammers broke the sow into pieces the length of the pigs. This was as hot a job as a man could stand, but it had to be done. If the pigs were allowed to get cold, it would not only be more difficult to break the pigs off the sow and the sow into pieces, but the iron could not be carried away in time to mold up [the sand] for the next cast. ...Only one man in ten is physically fit to be an iron carrier, and the best of them cannot stand up under the strain for many years.... The task of breaking up and carrying out the iron from the casting beds of even a modest-size furnace is not a fit one for human beings. If it were possible to employ horses, mules, or oxen to do this work, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dumb Animals would have interfered long ago, and rightly so."

There was no explanation of how they carried it out--still scorching hot. And yet they did it!

Between 1927 and 1931 they mechanized the charging--kind of (more later)--and the casting. The man who wrote the explanation above invented a way to pour the molten iron into a metal "pig" mold--no sow--on kind of a conveyor. No more sand molding. I don't know how to explain in words, but thankfully, the "iron carriers" were displaced. I hope they were given an "easier" job somewhere else in the whole process.

The tunnel where the raw materials were measured and then taken to the top of the furnace. The coke or coal (I'm still not clear on that score), iron ore and limestone were brought in on trains above the tunnel--a smoky, dirty place where they loaded wheelbarrows until it was mechanized, put them on an elevator then taken across a "bridge" to the top of the furnace and hand-dumped into the furnace! There were toxic gases up there! The furnace was built to trap those gases and then used them to fire the boilers to create the steam to turn the blowers to move the air through the stoves and to the furnace........incredible process!!! Back to charging the furnace............on either side of the light in the above picture you can see what looks like boxes on the ceiling--they are chutes where the materials came into the tunnel.

The "door" was excessively short...... And the picture below--the marvelous mechanical way to charge the furnace! RAH!! So no men would have to be at the top to dump the wheelbarrows! Though they still had to be below to fill the conveyor........again, I hope no one lost a job, but were able to do something less dangerous and less strenuous.

I'm sure it as a very "rough" workplace, but I have to admire those who were willing to do such work. As a whole, they were good, hard working men with families to feed and educate. We owe them more than we have "given"........ I have to ask myself, "what legacy am I leaving for those coming 100 years from now."

 P.S. I have dozens of pictures............ if you want more, let me know.............

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1 of ?? .........Catch up...........

It was pointed out to me the other day (quite emphatically, I might say) that it has been an entire month since I last posted. She is absolutely correct. But in my defense.........we have had an unbelievably busy month and are so thankful the Masons arrived a week ago. It still hasn't slowed down much because of all the things scheduled and it just takes a little to get up to speed. He is making a heroic effort and doing very well............ So during that month we would come home and fall into bed. We were just really tired every night--and/or on the road way too late............

Okay........so let me think about a whole month ago. Really, it's been a month of moving missionaries opening/closing apartments and zone conferences. I wrote about some of the zone conferences. Well, the next week we had the conferences in the northern part of the mission. We drove the truck, pulling the trailer, because we had beds/furniture to haul around. We inspected all the cars during zone conference. Thankfully, the weather was not rainy. I didn't mind the cold--which was not too bad, again thankfully. I just didn't want to be wet. We even cleaned out apartments and moved Elders when we went to Montgomery for our "senior outing" on the 4th.

First you have to indulge me by looking at our MLC lunch on March 1..........We had Cafe Rio chicken salad.... front to back, fresh tortillas from the Mi Pueblo supermarket--yummy; pinto beans, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro and the tomatillo dressing. Then they pick up a glass of water and back into the room to sit down. We put the tables right down the middle of the hall so they can go down both sides. President Hanks does not like time wasted dishing up food!

This if from the other end so you can see Sister Newmans beautiful fruit......... Then we had a blueberry dessert Roger has been wanting me to make for ever so long.........

The trees are blooming!!!! Aren't these lovely things? Sorry for the wires and cars........

I don't know what these red things are either.........just out in the forest, along the roads. And I also recognize the red bud......I love those. I'm going to plant one when we get home!

This statue is in the middle of an intersection in Demopolis.........

Okay........ March 4....... we had a "senior outing" in Montgomery at the state capitol........... a beautiful building. I love the history and all.............. Out in front of the building they have an arc of flagpoles for all the state flags in the Union. Cool! They were putting up new flags the day we were there. And at the foot of each state flag is a stone that is pretty obviously sent to them from the State. I had thought, "granite, of course" but I suppose it could have been red sandstone?

What's this, Nancy? Hawaii has some black pumice........

The front of the capitol building............ It burned to the ground somewhere around 1840 so this one was built not long before the war...... wide marble steps all down the front...... not Alabama marble. We learned later--maybe I have a picture.......ahhhh, the suspense!!

 Just inside the front door gorgeous circular stairways on both sides. I love the soft lighting and the creamy walls with the dark wood. (I really think the walls are whiter than the picture. The second one is more accurate.)

The rotunda.......yes, it's really pink......

This is the Senate Chamber....... the infamous room where they voted to secede from the Union. It still makes my heart sink.......

I wonder if this picture was behind the Speaker's chair at that time.......I'm sure it made his heart ache.

The paint is "eye fooling" paint. It looks like moulding and raised panels, but really, it's a flat wall. It is a really pretty room. That's the "peanut gallery"--so called because people would sit up there and throw peanuts down when they were displeased with something or someone.

And down the stairs............

The "Executive Residence".......because Lincoln lived in the "White House".....they don't call it that, though the tourist books call it "the first White House of the Confederacy". (I think it looks very much like Lincoln's house in Springfield--though a different color.)

The capitol from the front porch of the Executive Residence. A side view. The clock is in front--oh! and it looks like the state flags are on this side, not in front like I said. Sorry.

Inside the State Archives (or something like that) the walls are Alabama marble. Aren't they beautiful! Alabama marble was used for the Washington D.C. temple. I think also the Supreme Court building and the Lincoln Memorial.......don't quote me on that, but I think so. Oh! notice the marble on the floor? Barely in the bottom right of the picture? It's Tennessee marble. Why? you ask didn't they put Alabama marble on the floor as well? "Because you don't walk on Alabama marble"!