Sept. 28- Oct. 4: A Pearl of Great Price

 

Last letter, I forgot to write about one other party. I threw a “1L Law School Party,” the week before school started, and invited all of my classmates in the entering class. It was outside in my backyard and we had plenty of food and sat around in camp chairs. So much pulled pork. One of the students, Erin C., brought a delicious lemon poppyseed cake, and it was wonderful to meet each other and talk about our hopes and fears for the upcoming school year. Normally the school puts on some functions, but there were no in-person activities sponsored by the school, and those who did come to the party, were so grateful for the chance to meet one another, and most of my closest law school friendships originated from this night.

I have always loved general conference week. I do miss attending in person and seeing the great congregation of saints meet at the conference center in Salt Lake City. However, we are still blessed to hear from God’s living prophet, and that is what counts. I fondly remember playing legos and tinker toys in the church lobby during Saturday’s sessions as a kid – much has changed since then.

Towards the very end of this conference, Elder Holland referenced 1 Nephi 1:2. It’s right at the start of the Book of Mormon, literally on the first page, and I’ve read it countless times, yet he shared a new insight. Part of the verse reads,

I Nephi,…having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days…make a record of my proceedings in my days.

As Elder Holland pointed out, we will have MANY afflictions, but we shall be blessed in ALL our days, as we follow the covenanted path. I know that is true.

This week has been one filled with no afflictions, and an exceedingly many blessings.

I’m now some 6 weeks into law school. The time has flown by. I love studying the material and learning how the law works. We had our first test, and while much remains to improve, I appreciated the feedback, and am excited to keep learning.

So far, two things seem clear. First, I need to be in a courtroom setting. I can’t imagine handling contracts and doing research without much interaction or opportunities to speak. Tanner is doing transactional law and will be focused on researching, drafting, negotiating and advising. It’s an important work and I admire those who do it. Going in, and seeing Tanner’s enthusiasm for the work led me to think it might be a good fit for me as well. 6 weeks in, I cannot imagine ever, ever doing this type of work. It holds no interest for me, and I am fascinated by courtroom arguments and litigation exploits.

Second, I have been amazed by my classmates. Given that much of our extracurricular activities that are normally so prominent in law school are non-existent, I didn’t anticipate getting so close to my fellow students. Instead, I count them among my best friends, and their ambitions and talents are truly inspiring.

Last Sunday, I delivered the poem I had written to Jules. Since then, it’s been an absolute whirlwind. Monday, she got off work at 11 pm, called, picked me up spontaneously, and we went to pick something up from someone off of KSL. It was really fun. Sometimes the best times aren’t planned. Tuesday, the plan was to play spikeball with Tyler and Eliza. Jules had a commitment though, and asked if instead, she could take me to dinner at 5 pm. Of course I agreed, and at 5 pm, sat waiting, amused at the fact that I was now on the opposite side of how it normally is, i.e. getting picked up instead of doing the picking up. 5:10 came and went, as did 5:20. Finally, she called, apologizing and letting me know that she was in Payson, had just left the temple with her family (her nephew received his endowments to leave on his mission that day) and was on her way back to Provo. And then asked if I wanted to have dinner with her family. And so it was, that at 6 pm, instead of eating at Cupbob Korean BBQ, I was at her brother’s house, meeting four of her siblings, her mom and dad, and like 10 nieces and nephews. And, it was really fun. Her family is amazing. They are obviously very close-knit, and when her dad just wanted to talk about the federal reserve, I was in my element. Of course, the trains being played with and the track being built, made me feel at home.

Wednesday September 30, I hung out and had ice cream with Jules and her sister Rachel. Then we walked Rachel home and made thank-you cards together. And, we may or may not have kissed. There are no witnesses. But someone did want to run all the way home, ecstatic at how everything has been progressing.

Thursday, Jules worked from 6:30 am – 11 pm so I called an emergency meeting of the Knights of the Hot Tub and we reunited at the Isles to catch-up after I finished up all my law school classes and homework.

Friday, she worked another extra long day, but my luck held out, as she came by at 11 pm again, and we went together for a walk around the neighborhood.

Here’s the pictures from our first date. She painted my picture, and i painted hers. Obviously, she’s much more talented in this regard.

 

Saturday, we had dinner at Tanmarie’s after the afternoon conference session, and then snuggled on the couch and talked from 10 to midnight after she got back from the women’s session.

And Sunday, was in Jules’ words, the best date yet. I had dinner with Porter, then met her for a walk, followed by some swinging at a park, and then we did facials, putting clay masks on, and listening to some hymns. It was sooooo relaxing and fun. In the picture, I had already started taking mine off, before she took a picture.

So, it’s been a good week.

In other news, I received an email saying that Ancestry.com had updated my genetic dna profile. When I saw the changes, I felt ripped off, as its dramatically changed, and shows that their estimates aren’t close to being accurate. I could have given a better estimate just off of my family tree. So if you’re thinking about paying for a test, my strong recommendation would be to not waste your money on one. Here are the updated results:

52% england/northwestern europe

32% scotland

6% norway

5% sweden

5% ireland

For FHE, we played cabbage ultimate. Everyone loves this game! It’s like ultimate frisbee, but instead of a frisbee, you throw around a cabbage. Last week, we did an egg drop, from Blueridge’s balcony. In this picture, some of the eggs are being dropped. Remarkably, not a single egg cracked.

This week for book club, we started Doestevsky’s “Demons.” One of the members, John, has been having a hard time and just had a birthday so Dr. Scott and his wife had the group over for a steak dinner. I whipped up some chocolate pies for dessert, and loved the dinner. I think we all enjoyed simply conversing over the meal, instead of focusing solely on the book.

One more conference quote from Pres. Nelson:

“I am not saying that the days ahead will be easy, but I promise you that the future will be  glorious for those who are prepared, and who continue to prepare to be instruments in the Lord’s hands.”

July 28 – September 26: Do you hear the people sing?

“Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again”

First, the quote of the week. Talking with Breyer on the phone, listening to her talk about one of her favorite subjects, the names of her future children, she said:

Breyer: “If I had 26 kids, I’d name each of them after a letter of the alphabet.”

Me: “That’s a lot of kids!”

Breyer: “And a lot of fun!”

It’s been a crazy two months. Hopefully from now on, now that I’ve “caught up,” things will be more consistent for the next few months. Here are some highlights. Soap opera highlights just to clarify.

Right after getting back from Texas, I invited Emmalyn (Annemarie’s sister) over for a fun group activity. And she let me know that she was quarantining and had tested positive for Covid. I think that was the first person I personally know who received a positive result. That list has since grown considerably. At the time, it served to dutifully remind me of the precautions that must be taken. After she was released from her quarantine, we have been able to have some fun activities together and it’s been getting to know her better. She held a small birthday gathering at Vivian Park, and Porter and I went and enjoyed the fire, seeing so many stars, and feeling the cold night air of the canyons ever so slightly hinting at a fall quickly approaching. Emmalyn’s roommate, Sarae, and I chatted it up quite a bit and skipping forward ended up going on a date. We hiked Buffalo Peak for the sunset with Dillon and his girlfriend Brooke.

The date went pretty bad, and I was surprised how difficult it was to converse. I guess something must have changed as before it was super easy to talk to Sarae and be with her. Previous to our date, Emmalynn, Sarae, and their roommate Natalie, had come over for a dinner in my backyard and the date experience was a complete 180* from our previous interactions. I shrugged my shoulders and wasn’t upset or concerned, and thought oh well, at least it seems like Dillon at least is having a great time. This is a minor episode that is important for two reasons. First, turns out I was completely wrong, and Dillon and Brooke were not having a good time. After we left, she told him she needed a break and asked him not to text or call her for 10 days so she could have some time to think about their relationship. Completely surprised Dillon as well. The 10 days came and went, landing on a Tuesday, and she asked to meet up with him and talk on Thursday. Dillon could see the writing on the wall, so he sent Reigen and me a text,

“Yo I’m getting dumped Thursday. Hot tub?”

One of the most amusing messages I’ve ever received. So we went Thursday and heard how Brooke didn’t want to talk at his house, so he hopped in her car and she brought him to the temple, even though that’s the place people normally get engaged at. Not dumped. He related how she shared all her thoughts, and knowing what the result would be, was just tapping his foot waiting for the tub. Of course, even the thinnest pancake has two sides and I’m not trying to make her out to be the villain. I thought she was very nice, just not the right time for them to be together and am sharing because 1). I think it’s a hilarious story. 2). The boys are back together again. We’ve since had some more time at the tubs, the gym, and eating ribs. Good times!

Backtracking, the second important thing that happened as a ripple effect from meeting Sarae was messaging J. If we’re only using initials, that’s a pretty good sign. J. and I had communicated briefly over facebook while I was working on selling a housing contract. Next thing I know, we’re talking about a whole lot more than housing. Before the hike with Sarae, I had invited her to go watch Emmalynn perform in the play “The Music Man.” She couldn’t go, but said she’d love to go on a date a different night, which is what led us to Buffalo Peak.

I am a fan of the Music Man, and wanted to go see it regardless. So I asked J. She likewise couldn’t go, and said she’d be up in SLC for the next two weeks, but said “don’t forget me.” Two weeks came and passed, and I didn’t forget, but I also had just started school and didn’t really want to take a flyer and go on a date with someone I hadn’t met in person yet with so much other other things happening. But then two days later she messaged me, wondering what happened. Which led to a date, that turned out to be very, very fun. I (tried) painting a picture of her, and she did a great portrait of me.

Our second date was a hike up Battle Creek Falls. We passed the waterfall, which is where I planned on stopping as do most of the hikers, and kept going up the trail. And it was absolutely stunning. I loved seeing the fall colors, and we were surrounded. I’ve heard that the fires in the area and even the smoke from California have caused the leaves to turn colors a few weeks before normal, and we were blessed by that.

She is fairly direct, and our first date, asked suddenly who I was going to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election. So on our hike, I wasn’t caught too off guard when she suddenly asked how many kids I wanted. I responded with my usual line of, “well, I think it’s more up to the wife…but I think 8 is a great number to start with.” Generally, that’s the part that together with any mention of wanting to live on a farm in the future, causes my dates to cross me off mentally, so I understood the risks. You can imagine my surprise when she responded with admiration, noting how many of the guys she goes on dates with always say only 1 or 2 kids. And then added that she thinks 10 is a good place to start. Lest you think this is a crazy idea, she is the 11th of 13 kids, so she knows much better than I do what such a large family entails.

That’s a very long way of saying I have been constantly surprised and impressed by so many things, this just being one example of how our life goals seem to match quite well. In terms of love of God, love of Family, and love of Country, our priorities are very much aligned. We left the hike and went to Taco Amigo, which has incredible fresh peach shakes. I actually heard about them on LinkedIn from a connection, and have been wanting to try them out. For any one in the area, they are expensive at $14 total for our two medium shakes (which are quite big), but I’d give them a 10/10. We parked in a nearby parking lot, talked more, ate our shakes and then finally made it back to her house.

She also shared a poem that she wrote about her semester studying in Jerusalem. So logically the only thing to do was write a poem and share it with her. I’ve never been good with verse, but I think it was just because I hadn’t been inspired. Turned out quite good in my opinion, being very complimentary and humorous. Titled, “Pumpkin Bread in Autumn,” I brought that over with a fresh loaf of Pumpkin Bread today. I’ve been called bold, but I was a little nervous reading it aloud, and am happy to say that we have another date planned for Tuesday. Is my excitement only a matter of youthful over-exuberance? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Time shall tell…

Now that the important stuff has been noted, I’ll add that I’ve switched houses. I am living one block east of where I was. It’s in a little duplex and not nearly as spacious as my previous residence. I am rooming with my friend David Kaiser, and then two other people we met upon moving in, Jayson and Tanner. They are both gamers and keep to themselves to an insane degree, but David and I have been having a great time and enjoying our new ward and having fun adventures. The most hilarious thing happened one of our first housewarming events, right after we moved in, when I invited an apartment of 6 girls over for pizza. It was a spur of the moment decision one Sunday, yet I thought that surely we could make pizzas no problem. David and I had been given two giant bags of shredded mozzarella cheese, about 5lbs each. They were clear bags labelled only with an expiration date on them, and had been stored in the freezer until this moment, when we figured we’d put them to use. Additionally, I had a 32oz bag of mozzarella cheese already opened I needed to finish off. I made two pizzas for Tanmarie, delivered those, and then rushed back. 5 of the girls showed up, and David and Porter were keeping them company. I quickly threw together a few pizzas. I finished off the smaller mozzarella bag, having just enough for one more pizza. Then, I used the larger bags for the rest of the pizzas. They came out of the oven, and we all excitedly took a bite. Of course, Porter and David had spent part of the last 10-15 minutes extolling my pizza making virtues. In a moment of luck, for which I shall be forever grateful for, the girls and Porter started eating the first pizza, while David and I went for one of the other ones. The first bite was funky, and the cheese didn’t look melted which was strange, but I went ahead and took a second bite. My oh my. After that second mouthful, I looked at David, who had just taken his second bite, and we both started laughing.

The big bags of mozzarella cheese were not bags of cheese at all. WE JUST PUT HASHBROWNS ON OUR PIZZA!!!! It was a hilarious moment, and I felt bad for not having much food, but the girls all thought it was hilarious as well, and we’ve all shared many good laughs and become good friends. A lunch that shall never, ever, ever, be forgotten!

One other activity I’ll share happened a few weeks later, when David and I decided to host a party outdoors at Kiwanis Park entitled, “Be wise, Eat fries, Meet Nice Guys.” We invited everyone in the ward, and advertised unlimited french fries with some outdoor games. We bought 30+ pounds of potatoes, some sweet potatoes, 10 lbs. of apples, and had lots of sauces. The first batch of fries cooked quickly. Unfortunately, what we didn’t realize was how each successive batch took longer. We ended up cooking about 20 pounds of fries, only had time bake 4-5 pounds of sweet potato fries, and our visions of delicious apple cinnamon fries came to naught. We quickly cut them up into simple slices, threw in a bowl of watermelon slices, and called it good. Everything was eaten, and some 45-50 people from the ward showed up, exceeding our expectations and providing a great venue to meet new people.

Of course, now that I’m in a new ward, the 101st, it means I’ve left my old one, the 92nd. My first week back from Texas, I showed up and Bishop Miner also appeared. He had been in quarantine due to his age for several months, so that was a surprise. Until the stake president also showed up and it all made sense. Bishop Miner was released, and a new Bishop, Bishop Myers, called. Talking with Bishop Miner after the meeting was one of the most meaningful moments I’ve had this summer, this year, or even since living in Utah. Serving with him has been a life-changing experience with many blessings and lessons learned. He expressed his sincerest gratitude for what I’ve done, and due to Covid, we had to remain 6 feet apart, which felt completely inadequate. And as we bid each other farewell, our eyes locked as I began to walk off. We couldn’t shake hands, to say nothing of a hug, and I struggled to make sense of the whole experience until a few days later when we read Canto 26 from Dante’s Purgatorio in book club: 

“Hearing my father [figure] and the father of others

My betters and whoever has come to use

Sweet graceful rhymes of love say his own name,

 

And without hearing or speaking I walked on

A long way, thoughtful, gazing at him, 

But because of the fire went no closer.

 

When my sight had feasted enough upon him

I offered my whole self at once to his service

With that earnestness that makes others believe.

 

And he to me, “You leave a mark so deep, 

Through what I hear, and see clearly, in me

That Lethe cannot wash  it out nor fade it.”

I had been debating whether or not to move, and the departure of Bishop Miner helped push me towards a new location. It seemed like an appropriate time for a new beginning. The new Bishop seems wonderful and I’m confident that the ward will be wonderful there. The one aspect that did make me want to stay was the calling of Mike Reid, former PGA tour golfer, as second counselor in the bishopric. The few weeks that I was there, I was amazed by his humility. He joined the church after coming to BYU to play golf for their team, and is an example of someone who is dedicated to the gospel and helping others. He shared lots of funny stories about BYU stories, lots about Steve Young, as they are very good friends. My favorite, whether apocryphal or not, involved Steve Young trying to bring the team down the field for a game-winning score. He wasn’t super famous yet, and had been put into the game after Joe Montana went down with a minor injury. When he got into the game, one of the field judges pulled him aside and told him that his daughter was currently at BYU. Steve Young thought, ok, that’s great, but I’m trying to win the game here. So he runs off to the huddle, and they run a quick play. Then the judge motions him over again, so Young runs over, rolling his eyes, and the judge says, “She’s a student at BYU Law school, just like you are!” Sort of annoyed at this point, Steve hustles back, and runs another play. The succeeding play, saw him get hammered as he threw the football, resulting in an interception and sealing the end of the game. Steve had been in the league long enough to know when a hit was clean, and he thought the defense had done everything right and there was nothing to complain about. Except then, as he’s getting off the ground, he notices a flag, and the friendly ref announces that the hit was roughing the passer, which meant the play didn’t count, and the 49ers would have another shot to keep playing and win the game. This time, Steve ran over to the judge, confused, and letting him know that he thought the hit was clean and wondering why it was called. The ref held his hand up and said, “This is her name, here’s her number.” This time, Young got the message, and when he was back in Utah, they were able to go on some dates.

For what it’s worth, Reid tried to set me up with his niece, but I haven’t been able to get him out on the links yet. Stay tuned. I’m hoping we can play one round together.

Talking about which, my commercial lender contact, Kevin Ford, has come in clutch, and the last two weeks, he’s had me out for four! free rounds at Sleepy Ridge. It’s been amazing, and my game is looking better.

I also started up a law student golf group, and have gone out a few times with them.

Talk about a dream foursome. Trevor Furner, Tanner, and Avery Benesch.

Couple closing thoughts from August: (chronologically this letter is a mess)

On my way to the grocery store one day, I saw Will Hamilton walking along the sidewalk. He’s a good friend from Crestwood, and I quickly pulled over. He ended up accompanying me to the store, and we formulated a plan to have a small pool party and bbq that saturday. Brian Crane came down from Boise, and Carson visited from Logan. There was also a couple friends still at the Crestwood who joined us, and we had a good time. After, Carson, Rachel Arnold and I decided to hot tub jump, and went and visited three places in Provo. I ended up going to the Crestwood Ward the next day on Sunday, and loved seeing Bishop McKell and Brother Tronson again. I’ve been back for an fhe too, and just can’t quite seem to say goodbye.

Before starting to go out with J., I went on a few dates with Rachel N. She is a teacher from Arizona, and after our first date, she invited me over and we made zucchini bread together. That was my first time trying that, and we’ve got a good recipe now.

When I first returned from Texas, my roommate Logan was preparing to be married in only a few days. It was interesting to see the very end of that process. He’s been a good roommate. Also of note, our other roommate, Tyler, proposed to his girlfriend Eliza. I’ve been there since the start of their relationship last year, and its been quite the process. I’m very happy for them, and they will be getting married end of November.

i love D&C 3:1. It says,

“The works and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.”

The days come and go. Pandemics come and go. Trials come and go. The path to happiness and peace will always be there regardless of what happens. As we walk the gospel path, we will have happiness and peace and will help fulfill God’s purposes, and the plan that He has for each and every one of us.

Texas part 2: July 16-27

And so my idyll continued in the land of sagebrush and bluebonnets.

Breyer took me to her gymnastic class and I saw her pass off an impressive gymnastic move (I think its called the backward handspring). 

A truly incredible candid. Breyer, hand on her hip, and leather glove on for protection, nonchalantly holds a banana as Miller hurls a playing card in an effort to cut it in half.

__________________________________________________________________________________

My time in the Lonestar State was limited however. Saturday July 18th, while driving back from South Dakota, I received a phone call from Dean Stewart, dean of admissions at BYU Law. She called offering a 1/2 tuition scholarship to BYU, which I happily accepted. I had been holding out hope for a full-ride, but felt grateful for the chance to attend BYU, and see that dream of mine come true. Additionally, the phone call itself was something of a miracle. My phone had no service through all of Nebraska, and parts of South Dakota, and we were quickly approaching the Nebraska border where my service would end. In fact, the service quit out right at the conclusion of our 7+ minute call.

To back up a few days…

One of my summer goals was to visit the last 4 continental states I have never set foot in, namely Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Due to my change of plans and heading to Texas, it didn’t look likely.

I mentioned the idea on Sunday July 12th, as we looked at some old photos as a family. I was using the projector to show the pictures to everyone, and after showing my Boise trip, I pulled up an online map to show my audacious route that I had planned. And thus, we were talking about the great North.

I threw the idea out of making a trip, and it was bounced around intermittently like a pinball, while we laughed and laughed at all the old memories.

Monday saw a comment or two offered in support. Tuesday, was a, “Let’s do this!” 24 hours, and by the afternoon support was consolidated and the crew was packing for a 4-day adventure of a lifetime. It took some convincing to get us going on Wednesday, but Dad has long wanted to go to Mount Rushmore and that was the key. Cooper opted to stay home, and Mom wasn’t jumping at the bit over a 40 hour roundtrip car-ride (plus she had to work,) so the Prius passengers were Dad, me, Sawyer, Miller, and Breyer.

We finished packing late Tuesday and left early Wednesday morning for Oklahoma. One important detail is that it was agreed upon (partly by necessity), that this trip would be travelled “Hunter-style,” aka no plans/reservations made in advance.

We cruised through north Texas, Oklahoma, and made our way into Kansas (one of my longtime favorite states) around lunch. We hauled until Salina, and then stopped at the legendary Hickory Hut BBQ. I ate here once years ago (maybe 2012??) and it was love at first bite. In 2014, I tried stopping by on my way to college, only to reach it when it was already closed. This time, lady luck was on our side, and I again cherished each bite of the world’s best sandwich, The Texas Slammer. My oh my so delicious.

I had been curious as to whether the males or females would talk more during the trip. That question was answered by 2 pm, as my rough word count after the first 8 hours looked like this:

-Dad: 1,356

-Hunter: 450

-Sawyer: 1,532

-Miller: 7

-Breyer: 18,641

Yet, they were 18,641 happy words, and often quite amusing.

Our travels kept us going north and I loved seeing the heart of America. Small towns and lots of farms. One fun stop was at the Midget AutoRacing Hall of Fame. Alas, to the chagrin of the younger kids, this was not for midget race car drivers, but for the type of car. That night, we made it until Chadron, Nebraska, population 5,800. I had looked up hotels along the route, so we knew they had a Holiday Inn there. Holiday Inn is my favorite hotel chain, and I lobbied that it was a good place to spend the night. It was about 10 pm when we pulled in, and we were just under 2 hours from Mount Rushmore (where the hotels were substantially more expensive).

Dad got us a room, we unloaded and made it to room 209, given that the first floor was sold out. We had travelled 993 miles, and were all in high spirits, anticipating the wonders and adventure that the next day would bring.

Thing is, the next day started off a lot earlier than anybody had expected.

I woke up suddenly to screams. And as I type this, the chills I felt come back. These were blood curdling screams and I did what came first into my mind – I started screaming too. Not in a “help me, something is wrong” type of way, but in a “the world is ending right now and I don’t know where I am” manner. Its amazing what the voice is capable of.

It took me a second to realize what was going on. The mind-numbing white strobe light didn’t help at all. Figuring it out, I switched tactics from screaming to shouting, “CALM DOWN!!! CALM DOWN!!!” I don’t know if that helped at all, we were all so confused, (Dad shouting “Where is a light?!?!” and screams still being heard), but a few seconds later we all came to the realization that it was the fire alarm going off, and I flipped a light switch on, and we shuffled out. Correction, we shuffled out, Dad calmly went to use the bathroom, while the rest of us were waiting to get the heck out of Dodge. Nevertheless, we made it out of our door, saw all of our neighbors sticking their heads out asking if anyone knew what was going on, and continued down the stairs to the front lobby. Our bewildered neighbors followed our lead. Apparently our action moved them out of their daze, and they followed us down, many of them shoeless, dentureless, and epitomizing the ‘deer in the headlights’ stare.

It was a long 30 minutes, as the volunteer fire chief in the town woke up and came down to check the situation out, the hotel general manager woke up and came down, and then they both shrugged their shoulders, said they’d keep trying to figure out what set it off and told us all we could return to our rooms.

On our way back to our room, I freaked out and started feeling really bad, fearful of what could happen. In my mind, it was the classic “cry wolf” scenario in which the fire hadn’t been discovered and now that the alarms had been manually turned off and our guards put down, we would all burn later in the night. That kept me and Sawyer both up for nearly three additional hours, until around 5 a.m. I finally dozed off….

Too much to say, I must sum up.

We visited Mount Rushmore the next morning. It exceeded expectations and we spent a few hours there. One highlight was meeting Daryl Redcloud, the great (x4?) grandson of Chief Redcloud. He provided an interesting perspective. Next, we traveled to see the Crazy horse monument. A quick peek was sufficient and we headed to downtown Keystone. Meandering, we loved the old-time styled shops and ate at a local pizzeria. The crowds were amazing. A few people had masks, but for the most part, you never would have guessed we were visiting in the midst of a pandemic.

After stopping by a Norwegian Chapel, that evening, we took a drive through Custer State Park. I think this was my favorite place that we visited. I LOVED the scenery. Truly breathtaking. The rock formations were otherworldly. We ended up getting a little lost, and I may or may not have been acting as co-pilot at the time. Yet, we saw lots of wildlife including two buffalo, and after some scary moments, worrying about long-dead indians and miners, and stopping for a rattlesnake on the road, we made it out of the park.

That night was much less eventful, and we enjoyed a good sleep in another Holiday Inn, this one located in Rapid City.

Friday morning we went to Deadwood, famous as the place where Wild Bill Hickok was shot dead while playing cards. We visited his and Calamity Jane’s gravestones and wandered around the town, now filled with casino’s before making a stop at Sturgis. Sturgis is a small-town of about 6,000 people, but every summer holds the world’s largest motorcycle rally, with between 400,000-800,000 attendees. We were 3 weeks too early, but the town was already in full-on preparation mode. After a quick stop at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, we stopped at a national cemetery where some of Custer’s 7th calvary members were buried, and started our way home.

Lunch was late, but we were trying to make it to Wall Drug and succeeded. I first heard about it years ago, from reading a Richard Paul Evans book, “the Walk” and have wanted to visit since. As has my father, so we eagerly watched each billboard go by, and made it to the tiny town which has nothing except for this gigantic drugstore/mall. It has everything imaginable, and then some. I bought a belt buckle for one of the belts I made with Sawyer, then we hightailed it from there, and hit the highway again.

We were on our way to the Badlands, when I received the call from Dean Stewart. I had told her a few weeks earlier that my minimum to attend BYU was a 1/2 ride, and sure enough, that’s what they offered. Since then, I’ve gone over and over our conversations, wondering if I should have asked for a full-ride. I think they would have given it to me. But, who knows, and I consider myself very blessed to even be accepted and now attending school at BYU.

We cruised through the badlands, and while it was extraordinary, I don’t think it measured up to the heights that Custer State Park set. To be fair, everyone says that at sunrise and sunset the reflecting light illuminates the park and is spectacular, and we were only going through in the afternoon.

We tried one small hike, but with our limited supply of water, we ran out, and called the attempt off due to the 100+ degree heat. That was our last stop in South Dakota, and we went all the way  to North Platte before stopping for a night. It took us 15 tries to get a hotel, but we were eventually able to spend the night at a new motel 6.

The next day saw our return to Kansas. My oh my, I just love Kansas. We again stopped at the Hickory Hut, and my stomach is growling just thinking about eating there again. It is the BEST BBQ. We made additional stops at the midpoint of the continental USA, and then at the cabin where “Home on the Range,” was written. I loved that quick detour, and could feel the peace that exists living off of the land, on the prairie, scraping out a living, and communing daily with nature.

3 days. 6 states. 2,000 miles. We were back home again.

Before I left to go to Utah again, a member of the Granbury Ward, Bro. Cranford, got Sawyer, Miller and I, out to play golf at one of the nicest public courses in Texas. That was a blast, and a perfect ending. Sawyer had one of the best approach shots I’ve ever seen, birdieing the first hole. My best shot came on the 7th, a dogleg left over a lake. I drove the green, 340 yards away, then sunk the 20 foot downhill eagle putt. Sawyer and Miller are thus some of the few people who have ever seen my screaming eagle dance. Not that they wanted to or will ever be able to forget it now. And Miller. The kid knows how to do a Happy Gilmore, and he beat his front nine score by 10 shots, by doing the routine on every tee shot on the back. Unbelievable.

I planned to leave Monday July 27th, but last minute decided to stay one more day. Twas as wonderful as the rest, and we were able to get in some chinese checkers and other games. We also went and saw the german shepherds at the rescue. Given that I was going to BYU, I know that it wasn’t a good time to get a pet. But Mom wanted to go and I was sure it would be fun. Hilariously, it took about 5 minutes before Mom and Miller concluded that they needed to get one of the dogs. I guess they were just going to miss me too much 🙂 And sure enough, within 10 hours of me leaving, they went back and picked up the dog, now named Dodger. I also said goodbye to Cooper, unsure if I’d see him again before his mission, and headed out dark and early Tuesday morning for the long, lonely drive back to Provo.

The next missionary: Going to SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA!!!!

Texas Part 1: July 1-15

When I last left off, I had all but assured my admittance into BYU, and had ramped up my travel plans to leave the next day, July 1st, for Texas.

So, on Wednesday July 1st, after an evening of ribs and hot tubbing, I headed at 6:23 am for another long drive. It passed uneventfully. Aunt Jenny sent me an early birthday present and instructed me to buy some snacks for the journey. Those helped and the miles flew by. All 1,184 of them. As part of my last-minute preparations the day before, I stopped by Discount Tire to fix a tire that was flat. I had been using my spare in the interim, and thought that it would be wise to have the extra on-hand just in case. They advertise free flat repair, and I foolishly dropped it off (due to a long wait time,) and went golfing with Mike until it was done. I returned, picked the car up, thanked them, and headed out. Little did I know. They didn’t hand me a receipt or comment on anything. Instead it was my dad who called later, wondering if everything was alright. Turns out while I was golfing, they called him (even though I left my phone number and asked them to call me,) and had him authorize and pay for 2 tires. I was fuming by the shady business technique, realizing it was the last day of the month, and probably done by some some employee trying to their monthly quota. They told my dad that I needed four new tires, and the only reason he didn’t purchase all of them was his remembrance that I had relatively new tires – he just didn’t remember how many. I found out after they were closed and couldn’t delay the trip, but needless to say, as soon as they opened in the morning, I called Discount Tire to rant. And rant I did. The manager refunded $75, and I vowed never to go back again. I suppose in the scheme of things its an extremely unimportant episode, yet it served to show me how many people are taken advantage of, and how the “righteous indignation,” (which I use liberally here,) which I felt, should be used to help those in need and to advocate for the voiceless. Its a lesson I hope to take with me throughout law school and in the workplace.

I made it safely home to Granbury near 2 a.m., and was thankful to have arrived without incident. At noon, I had my interview with Dean Stewart. I did dreadful, and my over exuberance vanished. A good friend at the law school, Nicol, helped cheer me back up, and I was left to wait for official news.

The first trip we took was to Tyler, on Friday July 3rd. As usual, there were lots of games and swimming. Different this time, were wins against Aunt Janel and Evan in ping-pong. I woke up on the 4th feeling great. Only a week earlier, I had fully expected to experience a 1/4 life crisis. Turning 25 felt monumental. Not only does it mark the halfway point of my 20’s, and the halfway point to 50, it also is the age someone can be elected to the House of Representatives. As always, I had to take a deep look at where I was. It’s crazy how much doing well on the LSAT helped. And of course, being with family helped immeasurably. The day was topped off with some delicious carrot cake and trivia questions.

We left Sunday morning and made it back to Granbury. Here are some pictures of fun activities:

Miller playing disc golf. The matches usually were a toss-up between him and Sawyer.

But I still had fun with them. I’m getting used to losing to my younger siblings in events that I once viewed as guaranteed wins.

Cooper launching his shot.

Porter rounded out the top-3.

Sawyer helped teach me leatherworking skills. Here, I finally finished cutting and stamping my design (Dad remarked how our house sounded like a telegraph office, with tap-tap-tapping for hours at a time,) and am staining it black.

Cooper received the Melchizedek Priesthood was ordained an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. July 12, 2020.

Breyer was inseparable from Waggie. Here they are, with me too, in one of her forts. Waggie was dragged into her bed and spent hours an end in confinement but was a good sport the whole time. It didn’t help that she kept an endless supply of treats on hand to help him stay still.

My goal of having an Amazing Race came to fruition. Luke and Aunt Janel visited from Tyler, and on Friday the 11th we had a 4 team race. Here, Luke and Cooper, aka Stone Spooner and Squirts MacIntosh are introducing themselves for the hype video. The other teams were Aunt Janel and Sawyer; Dad and Miller; and Porter and Breyer. For a couple of hours, the teams danced and sang, completed tough puzzles, ran to spots around the neighborhood, and worked together through-out. Dad and Miller dropped out, unable to do some of the tasks, and in the end it was a nail-biter finish, with Sawyer and Aunt Janel just edging out Porter and Breyer. For their efforts, the winning team won $50. We took lots of footage and I hope to edit it into a video.

This is right when the teams are about to sprint off and find their first clue.

Sawyer and Aunt Janel – the ultimate winners – completed one clue by learning and showing the 8 mandatory bodybuilding poses used in competitions.

Dad dancing and singing his solo “Dancing Queen.” Blackmarket copies of this video are being sold for $10,000’s….or will be. Watch 20 seconds and guarantee your day will be happier. Here you can see part of his famous dancing style.

Here’s team Proletariats, opting to do a puzzle instead of a tough trivia challenge.

And doing their hype video.

Finally, here is Luke struggling to finish off the raw beet to get their next clue.

The race was truly epic, and due to popular request, we had an encore the next day, so Mom could participate in it. Friday she had been at work. There were new teams, new challenges, and new winners. My favorite challenge for this one, was where the contestants had to learn and dance a traditional Indian dance, the Bhangra.

To close part one of my trip to Texas, here is a scripture I love, Hosea 10:12.

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

I testify that as we seek the Lord, he will fulfill his promises and rain down blessings upon us, even that we might have a fulness of joy. This trip home has been perhaps my all-time favorite trip to see the family. I think it is because we tried to follow the admonitions above.

We sang. We played. We laughed. We ate. We bonded. We loved. And we sought after righteousness.

Reaching the Summit: June 22-30

Mt. Nebo is the highest peak in the Wasatch Range. The snow finally melted to allow an ascent, and I decided to give it a shot. Doing so turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined – compounded of course by human error. Thursday June 25, I left at 7:30 am with my ward friends Maddie and Sandra. The mountain is about 15 miles south of Provo. That’s as the crow flies, but I didn’t think it would be too much farther following the roads. I had approx. 70 miles left in the tank, and figured if I needed to, I would stop on the way back or at a gas station closer to the mountain as the farther south you go, the cheaper gas is.

Turns out, after a few miles, we turned off onto a rural road, and there was no gas station. But instead of turning around, we pressed on thinking we would be fine. Then we made it to the mountain, and the road up wound around and around the mountain, taking a full 18 miles to get to the trail head. Except we were also going up, and our gas mileage was awful. At the trail head, and our gas reading had gone from 70 miles to 11…..in other words, we weren’t going to make it back. Yet, in stubborn denial, I parked and we started the hike.

It clocks in at just under 9 miles round trip. Reviews stated the “first four miles in are easy.” Whoever wrote that must have lived a difficult life, because it was not easy. We huffed and puffed through the thin air, with our breaks becoming more frequent. One lovely aspect of this hike is that it is far less popular than Mt. Timpanagos and we only saw a few hikers and one group during our climb.

We made it 3.5 miles and then encountered the steep uphill part. Each step became labored, and picking out intermediate goals helped. Our crew of three,a turned to two, as Sandra bowed out, some 600 vertical feet lower than the peak. Which means she had made it up the first 11,300 feet but the last bit involves some climbing and her fear of heights made it impossible for her to continue. It’s rated as a class-3 scramble,  and there is no marked trail. It’s rather simple – however you can make it up, you go for it.

This is a photo of Maddie and I on one of the false summits – there is a ridge to cross and then another bit to go up. We left Sandra below and she snapped a picture of our climb.

Maddie and I both made it all the way to the top, and it was amazing. Yes, the views, but mostly the feeling of accomplishment having done something hard and not given up.

The way down was less demanding but still arduous and our knees took the brunt of the pain. Of course, there was never any thought of quitting on the way down. We enjoyed much more enlightening conversation returning, aided by our ability to breathe easy. The clouds came in covering us, and the relief was accentuated as cool rain pitter-pattered our hot necks and freshened up the meadow to where it smelled like a dream.

We are standing here on one of the few snow spots left.

We made it back to the van, and the idyllic wilderness bared its teeth as we had to face the truth that we needed gas desperately. Our original intention to coast down the mountain and seek help at the bottom quickly failed as the our meter continued to sink. With 5 miles left in our tank and with 12 miles left of the mountain, I started pulling over and talking to RV campers. The first had no gas left, but with the second I struck paydirt, interrupting a family and their BB gun shooting to plead for petrol. They had plenty for their generator, and were kind enough to share, even refusing any payment. When Maddie and Sandra (still in the car) saw me get the gas can, they started cheering loudly for the benefactor. I confess that like Uncle Zach, I too, have secretly wanted to run out of gas at some point, just not like this – after an exhausting hike and with two ladies, so it was a relief to find that Good Samaritan and make it down safely.

I returned to one of the best messages one can receive – a dinner invite with Aunt Becky! She was in town to see Kayla, Ryan, and Scout, and I quickly showered and made it back to Springville to see them. A delightful evening followed, and although I didn’t want to intrude too much on their time together, when a return invite for the next day was offered, there was no way I could refuse. Porter joined me for round two. It was wonderful remembering some of our New Hampshire memories from years past, and the food Kayla made exceeded all expectations – but let’s be real, Scout was the star. Talk about a well-behaved baby! She’s a cutie, and my time holding her passed without a mishap.

It was during these days that my thoughts of going to UCONN solidified and I began listing some belongings for sale. I had reached an agreement for the bookcase and some other items, (including the last month of my house contract) when I got cold feet and asked for a few more days before I officially sold everything. And I am very glad I did. On Tuesday June 30th, I would find out my LSAT score and if UCONN would have in-person or online classes this fall. Then, I figured on Thursday I would bid Utah adieu and head to Texas by way of Mt. Rushmore –> Fargo –> Minneapolis –> Menoumonie, WI –> Lincoln, Missouri then Granbury. And from Texas to Connecticut. I didn’t think my score would improve much and regardless if UCONN had all online classes, a move was required to get in-state tuition next year.

Tuesday morning, the UCONN news implied some in-person classes. I was up at 7, and had an email regarding my LSAT score by 7:05. I refused to look at it yet though, and continued my daily routine. At 9:30, at the gym with Jacob and David, I finally decided to open it up. (I wanted the adrenaline to increase the weights.) Lo and behold, my eyes didn’t believe the result. My score improved 5 points to 169!! 5 points might seem small, but provides a huge boost.

Turns out, I still couldn’t set a new weight record, and I didn’t care a bit. All of a sudden, so many new possibilities opened up, illustrated by my call to Tanner. The first thing he asked was if I was joking. Assured I was not, he asked if I’d be applying to other schools.

I apologized to the people in line to buy my belongings, and let them know everything was off the table. Before I could reach out to BYU, they messaged me, offering congratulations and an interview was set up for Thursday.

Thursday was to be my travel day, and so I decided to leave the next day, Wednesday, but go straight to Texas and without moving. Before I could get ready to leave, I had a very important commitment. Dillon, Reigen, and I had planned one more “Boys Night.” We have had good times in the past, and yet this Tuesday night surpassed them all. Dillon smoked a couple racks of ribs, and we all chipped in for those and brought some sides and dessert. That gluttonous fest was followed by to the Isles Apt. Complex hot tub and pool where we stayed for a few hours. Simply put, if it had been my last night in Utah, I couldn’t imagine a better way to leave.

At home, I packed in 20 minutes, and then struggled to sleep, still amazed at how the day had turned out.

My first thought, and the recurring feelings I had throughout the day involved mostly gratitude. Truthfully, I’ve struggled mightily to study since quitting my job. While I’ve hinted at that, I’ve been ashamed to admit quite how little. I don’t think I put in the effort at this time to deserve the increase. While I have tried to help those in need and and serve those around me, I do know that many people, especially family, have prayed and even fasted for me. I credit all improvement to that. Thank you.

 

June 15-21: Atlas Shrugged

  1. Rapid-fire for this last week. And lots of pictures.

-The long-anticipated LSAT happened Monday morning. My roommate Tyler offered to let me use his laptop, and it went off without a hitch. I’d guess I did better, but because  the exam was moved online (with virtual proctors), it was shortened to 3 sections from 5, and I don’t know how that will affect the bell-curve based scoring.

-Tuesday was my first completely free day with nary a worry on the horizon as they say. As the sun and rose and set, it saw me go practice golf at the newly renovated East Bay, work out, and then try to write a little and work on some projects. Except I kept getting distracted by food blogs.

-amazing race….this idea has been fermenting around my brain for a while. I wrote out some tasks for a family contest, and then watched a few episodes to help facilitate further ideas. Coming to Texas July 2020.

I also conducted some experiments and came up with some new recipes:

–papaya salsa, seen here with nachos…verdict: the papaya detracts from the salsa as a whole.

a new shampoo…ingredients: beet juice, baking soda, coconut oil, aloe vera, and eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils.

Pouring the finished product. Turned out AMAZING! Hair felt and looked great. Downside is that fresh aloe vera goes bad after a few days, so it has to be used up quickly.

lots of vegetables were cooked and eaten this week.

flower arrangements were made.

New fruits taste tested include “rambutan,” very popular in southeast Asia. The first one I tried must have been rotten, as I couldn’t even finish the little guy. I would have stopped there, but had to at least attempt the others so as not to waste. They were much better, and validated google’s remark that it is known for its “delicious taste.”

Sunday we had the usual dinner with Porter a la brasileiro and scrabble game and then a Father’s Day themed Jeopardy game via zoom with the whole family.

Annemarie and Tanner did a great job putting on the show, and I hope it becomes a family tradition. Heaven knows it will be tough, nigh impossible, to top this year’s edition, but I’ll let them worry about that part.

I went on two dates this week. Recapped out of order:

Saturday I had planned to go hiking with Yazmin. We were going to do a short sunset hike near Salt Lake City, but our double partners cancelled so we made it a zoom date instead. This was my first time trying a virtual date and I’m not a fan. It felt awkward and impersonal. We talked from 8-8:45 and I asked her on a real date to which she agreed. Here’s the important part: As soon as it ended, I saw I had missed a few calls. This was perfect timing as someone was looking for a priesthood blessing at 9pm, and hadn’t reached anyone else. It was cool to be reminded once again how God is aware of all of our needs. If I had gone to SLC, I wouldn’t have been back before 10:30.

The other date was date #3 with Hannah. We ate mochi ice cream balls and walked on a mountain trail while conversing. Mochi is a japanese treat made of a outer rice dough covering (providing a weird texture), and filled with a coconut cream interior. “Eh…” followed with a shoulder shrug summarizes my reaction. While good and refreshing on such a hot day, I think normal ice cream tastes better. That “eh…” could also summarize my thoughts about the date. We apparently got the same vibes, because we haven’t talked since that night and both seemed content to go on our separate paths. Nevertheless, after 15 months of only first dates, I enjoyed going on a 2nd and a 3rd date.

And while I’m on the subject of love, here is one of the most pertinent scriptures in my opinion. It comes from Alma 38:15, and amazes me how relevant counsel given 2000 years ago still is. The world was utterly different at the time, yet applies fantastically to dating today.

“Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.”

The entire chapter was recommended to me by a professor as great advice for recently returned missionaries, and this verse in particular stood out as testifying how one must have control of emotions and passions in order to feel true love. If faith and doubt cannot coexist, then neither can lust and love. 

 

June 8-14: Bonds of Affection

Two dates happened this week, but I should clarify that this post’s title comes from Matt Holland’s book about Winthrop, Jefferson, Lincoln, and their idea of charity – nothing else.

Tuesday I had a date with Sarah, whom I met via Mutual. She is studying English at BYU, and served her mission in Singapore. For this date, we made acai bowls. Robert and Haylie came over as well, and we cut up a bunch of (mostly) tropical fruit and blended up some acai. My favorite is made by blending acai with a little of guarana and banana, but we made do with just the acai and banana. Adding a little condensed milk on top, they turned out delicious! We then played scattergories and bananagrams.

Friday was my second date with Hannah. It was PERFECT! A lot of that has to do with things I can’t control – weather, crowds, etc – so it was wonderful that allwas well. I picked her up at 7:30 and we drove half an hour up to Squaw Peak, talking the whole time and enjoyingour time together. We made it to the trailhead and headed up, through the wonderful meadow and to Buffalo Peak. This time, we made it at the right moment, and even though some clouds rolled in, saw a beautiful sunset. We found a small spot to sit, and then Hannah surprised me by pulling out homemade cranberry/blueberry muffins. I had mentioned that they are my favorite type, but I never imagined she’d make them for me. It was very kind. We stayed a little too long at the top talking, and by the time we made it back to the van, it was quite dark out.

 

Deseret Industries opened up this week, and on Wednesday I made a trip with Porter to check out all the new inventory they put up. I ended up buying  some new books and a pair of temple shoes. And a golf bag that I quickly resold for a nice profit. They always price bags super low, so I try and pick up one every visit, and it usually pays for anything else I buy.

Thursday I went golfing at the Ranches with Mike and Kimball.

Last Sunday, some ladies from the ward commented that they really wish that more social events would happen in the ward. At that time, official activities were a no-go, but we decided to do a little get-together at a park. We all brought some food and grilled burgers and hot dogs, and played some outdoor games. About 30 people showed up, beating my estimate, and it turned out well…even if I lost in spike ball. 

Saturday was also my final time studying for the LSAT, which felt amazing, and I made sure to give Porter all the books and study material. No mas for me.

It’s been a week of cleaning all-around. We had our carpets cleaned. My email inbox is under 20 for the first time in three months.

And, after a few weeks of temperatures in our house daily reaching 80 degrees, the repairman fixed the problem so our swamp cooler is now working again. Talking with the rental management company was frustrating as it took two weeks and preliminary visits for what was in the end a 10-minute fix. My sleep has improved since then as I no longer wake up due to the heat.

Sunday Porter was the beneficiary of leftover burgers and this little guy. Meant to be a pie, turned out more like a pile of strawberries with a crust underneath.

We played scrabble, and this time I lucked out with unbeatable letters – played ‘laxities’ for 80+ points – and cruised to the finish line.

We had a good time talking about dating and I learned a lot, getting his opinion on some very relevant issues that I was wondering about. And he gave me a priesthood blessing as I take the LSAT tomorrow morning.

This scripture from the Book of Mormon struck me today. It’s Alma 31:35. Referring to Alma and his struggles to preach the gospel, it says:

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren…”

I know that we are all beloved daughters and sons of our Heavenly Parents. As we view others as our brothers and sisters, and people with divine potential, our enmity and rancor will disappear. All of it.

June 1-7: Pilgrims, Pulses, and Pistols

The week started off great, with a visit to the gym with David. Since it reopened a few weeks ago, we’ve been very deliberate with our exercises and worked towards maxing this week. First up was bench press and I was surprised (and proud) to get 275 lbs. That’s a new record for me! Other records continued to fall throughout this week and all I can say is – these numbers brought to you by lentils. Ok ok, while I have continued to eschew supplements or any whey protein, I am trying to increase the amount of protein I consume given that I’m still barely eating any meat. I have started mixing a few Tbsp of peanut butter + 2 tsp of flax seed + 1 banana + 1 cup of chocolate milk. It’s delicious, and rejuvenating! One serving is 21 g of protein.

Monday night our Come Follow Me was blessed to have Aunt Jenny join. This week’s focus was on testimony and she shared some inspiring stories, previously unknown to me.

The lentil experiment of the week involved making a hummus-like paste. It’s good with nachos, cucumbers, and rolls. I didn’t get the taste quite like I wanted, but thought I’d get some feedback from two non-biased testers aka my roommates. Here are their reviews:

“Ew!! this tastes like dirt!”

“Yep, dirt is about right. Although, after four or five bites it’s not as bad as the initial taste.”

Tuesday saw a return to sand volleyball. I was at home doing some studying, looking longingly at the beautiful weather when Reigen invited me to go play. We met up with Justice, Allison, Allie, and one of Allie’s friends. We played 3×3 for a while and then some newcomers challenged us to 6×6. After we just couldn’t go anymore, we went back to my apartment and had milkshakes. I’ve missed Reigen since he moved end of April and was glad to play some vb with him.

Thursday was the long anticipated date with Victoria. We hit a snafu a few hours before, when our doubles bailed. The plan was to hike Buffalo Peak and watch the sunset, and I didn’t want us to go alone. Porter came through big time by agreeing to go, and then I bumped into Emmalyn (Annemarie’s sister) at the library. We talked a few minutes and I headed home to get ready. I almost made it home, all the way down the 8 flights of stairs too, before feeling impressed to go back. Thankfully Emmalyn was still there, and I invited her to go with us. She was game to go along and I appreciated getting to know her a little better.

Long story short – my phone quit working out of nowhere, right as I left to go pick up Victoria. So I didn’t have her address. It’s crazy how reliant we can become on our devices! Despite being discombobulated by the sudden turn of events, I remembered the name of the (giant) apartment complex at least, and after knocking 3 doors and talking to those residents who pointed me a little closer each time,  the fourth door was the right one, and I met Victoria. Thankfully, I remembered Emmalyn’s address, and we zipped over before getting Porter to complete the gang and actually head to the hike. We were running 15 minutes later than I had planned, and missed making it to the peak for the sunset by a few minutes. nevertheless, it was a beautiful, beautiful hike; I think the Sound of Music opening scene could have been filmed there. We made it to the top and back before it got too dark, and I intend to go back and make a repeat hike.

Victoria is from Miami, served her mission in Phoenix, and is studying Math Education at BYU. We were set-up by her sister Cat (Catherine).

Friday night I went to see Kelson’s new living space. He was supposed to go to Phoenix for an internship, but when that was moved online, the company decided to put him in a Marriott in Provo for the entire summer. I’m jealous. I guess he was feeling kind of lonely though, after a week of no roommates, and had a small party to formally welcome his new accommodations. We ate and played a little Mario Kart before I called it a night and skedaddled.

Sunday, I had a dinner date with Hannah. I was acting kind of persnickety, but Hannah’s attitude helped change that quickly. It was a blast – she was really easy and fun to talk to. She brought a fresh pineapple (unexpectedly) which we turned into a fruit bowl for dessert, insisted on helping with dishes, and I was thoroughly impressed by the end of the date. She is from Iowa, served her mission in Nicaragua and is studying Exercise Science and Wellness.

Talking with my family, I report on any dates I went on and have begun to start the conversation by saying, “I had a fantastic time. _______ is a great kissener!” I think the younger siblings are catching on, but that sentence gets Dad’s attention in a hurry, and his “What?!!?!?” is followed by me saying, “I said she’s a great listener. What did you think I said?” Don’t worry, there’s no canoodling going on here.

Although, I talked to Aunt Shirley on Saturday and she shared the secret to golfing and getting a hole-in-one, so maybe there needs to be a kiss or two. I’ve been trying for years, so I was mightily impressed that shehshe succeeded in hitting a hole-in-one at a course in Wrentham, MA. Logan, my new roommate, discovered some mail that had fallen and gotten stuck and one of the letters he pulled up was an envelope filled with old photos Aunt Shirley had sent a month ago. I thoroughly enjoyed going through them and seeing faces of loved ones from a time now long gone. I had never seen these photos before, and wondered at 5-day old me, and thrilled to a photo of see Kayla and I from Christmas 1995.

Other notes:

-I’ve been playing the organ almost daily lately. Now that I’m home during the day, it won’t bother any one.

-I started my application to join the Mayflower Society. It’s much more rigorous than I anticipated, and will require some painstaking work to finish.

  1. -fasting has gone from being dreaded to truly a time to rejoice. I’m thankful for the opportunity to fast each month, and know that God recognizes our sacrifice of forgoing those two meals and donating the money. I’ve seen far too many miracles to think otherwise.

-the daily number of covid infections has tripled in Utah. I think its good to zig when others zag and zag when they zig. Now that everyone is going out, its not as safe, and my excursions will be getting cut down shortly.

-I’m thinking about getting a dog. Which would complicate living arrangements. Which would be a HUGE commitment. (Maybe I need that?) And which I am not regarding lightly. I’ve been checking this society’s facebook page daily though, so I don’t think the thought will go away quickly. I budgeted months ago for a firearm and have yet to get one. Perhaps a puppy could take that spot instead….

I mean, look at this guy!

Tanner and Annemarie even shared some possible puppy names: Warren, doc, Eisenhower. I personally like Duke, or Boston (boss for short). The run-away favorite so far though is Coolidge.

Reading 2 Timothy, it seems to be a very prescient book of prophecy – about persecution. This week, I picked up on the key to both appreciating and persevering through tribulation. It’s found in chapter 3 verses 14-15:

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make there wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

I testify that it is through the scriptures we learn the wisdom of God and will have the strength and fortitude to stand strong and be not ashamed of our Lord.

 

May 25-31: It ain’t over lentil it’s over!

2020 is now more than 40% through. Blows me away how quick it has gone.

Monday was Memorial Day, and I did spend some time reflecting on those who gave the full measure of devotion. I had nothing planned, but my evening was rescued by Dillon. He came by in the afternoon to bring some of the first spinach harvest from our garden. It’s been wonderful to eat, and does taste different from the spinach bought at the store. The leaves are also much thicker.

We talked for a while, and then Dillon invited me to come over later that night for a Memorial Day party. His father was a veteran and died in 2018, so the holiday is special to the family. The family was doing it with one of their neighbors, who I’ve referenced before as we had an EQ activity at their guest house. That is where this was held also. Of course, there was lots of amazing food. We numbered 9, and had no shot at finishing it all, so we brought leftovers home.

The ribs were great – but the beans were unbelievable and took the top spot in my opinion.

We ate and talked. Then we talked and ate. The day slowly turned into night, and we put Jumanji 2: the Next Level on the outdoor tv and watched that. It turned out to be a very fun and enjoyable night.

Thursday was my roommate Tyler’s b-day. We also had a new roommate, Logan, move in. He is very good friends with Tyler and I’ve gotten to know him throughout this last year. Spencer moved out in march due to covid, so Logan (who will be taking my room in the fall), moved in to Spencer’s room. Thursday also began summer swimming, as Porter’s pool at Glenwood opened up.

The pool was so nice, and Friday found me there again. This time, I stayed too long and got sunburned. I quickly fell into an easy routine of swimming and chess these two days. Though I haven’t played hardly at all recently, when the Utah Federation reached out to me for an online tourney, I was ready to jump into it a little more.

With Dillon on Monday, we had hatched a plan to watch World War Z. It’s a nice apocalyptic, pandemic-causing-zombies thriller starring Brad Pitt. John H., David K., Jacob C., Aaron R., Logan, Dillon and Dave all came over for it. Aaron brought pizzas and we had some other snacks as well. And 2 hours of suspenseful action until a vaccine was created to save the world. It was a fun night. Admittedly I was spooked, and didn’t want to go outside at all after. We were supposed to start watching at 7 so it would finish while it was still light out; however the pizza was running late as were a few others so the movie ended at 10. And it was dark. Although I resisted the temptation to move the fridge and couch in front of our doors before going to bed, I think that is the only zombie movie I’ll be watching for a long time.

Saturday night, Kami C. came over for a dinner date. We made the food together and settled on a course of salmon, rice, and zucchini. Everything turned out surprisingly well, cooked quickly, and I had a fantastic time. Kami is from Idaho, served her mission in San Antonio, and is studying nursing at BYU.

Sunday Porter came over like always. He did not get the salmon this time. Instead, I have been experimenting with some lentil recipes and he was the lucky recipient. He was a very good sport about it, and the food turned out better than either of us were expecting. That food being whole-wheat pasta served with a lentil sauce. I cooked some lentils, threw them in the blender, and started adding ingredients until it tasted alright. The winning recipe:

-3 cups (cooked) lentils

-1 Tbsp powdered sugar

-1/2 cup golden raisins (just in case you were worried the lentils wouldn’t provide enough fiber).

-1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

-1/2 tsp white vinegar

-1/2 tsp garlic salt

-1/2 tsp salt

And now a joke:

How do legume wars end?

With a peas treaty.

Lentils have been disregarded for too long. They are a super food in my opinion. The world needs someone to do to lentils what George Washington Carver did to peanuts. And I’m going to give it a shot!

Of course, as much good as lentils can do to our bodies, the souls of the world really needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The last few days have been filled with riots and protests over the death of George Floyd. In my 24 years, I have become fully convinced, that until we can comprehend how we are all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we will have cause to cry and reason to weep. No government can truly solve societal problems. We need the gospel. I love this quote from President Ezra Taft Benson:

“It is my conviction that the world needs, as it needs no other thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the people of the world want what the gospel will give, but they do not realize it. They want the anchor which the gospel provides, which gives them the answers to the problems that face them; that brings them a feeling of security and a feeling of inner peace. The gospel is the only answer to the problems of the world…Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite [people] of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family.”

may 18th-24th: I fell into a burning ring of fire

Yep, still reading the Inferno. And while the mutual dates have continued, I haven’t fallen in love yet.

There were three dates this week. The first was with Lauren on Thursday night. She’s from Arizona, served a mission in Montana/Wyoming, and wants to be a nurse. She came over to my house and we sat at the kitchen table and painted watercolors while conversing. It was a fun (and simple) date, and I then walked her home.

Saturday, I went out with Maddie. Quick background: Last week, Porter is good friends with her younger brother. They were all on a camp-out together and Porter thought he would get along well. All of this was happening unbeknownst to me though. I received a text from Maddie introducing herself and then a few minutes later one from Porter quite funny. I texted more with Maddie throughout the week than any one before, and I was quite excited to go out on this blind date. I called her and we marked a picnic for Saturday at Draper City Park. My friends Kimball and Aubrey met us there, and we played bocce ball and corn hole and ate some pasta and watermelon. Maddie is a student at UVU, studying business and currently works for the church in the Seminaries and Institute department. She served her mission in Atlanta.

And the third date was on Sunday. This one was with Fernanda, from Petropolis, RJ, Brazil. She is a student at BYU and LOVES to paint, so we also did watercolors. I picked up a couple of pointers from her and had another good time.

More than anything, I wanted to be more social this week and simply go on some dates. Mission accomplished. For those who may be wondering, I always like to note where people are from, what they are studying, and where (if applicable) they served their mission. I know that this doesn’t even begin to define who they are and the myriad assortment of talents and interests that they have. Yet, I am amazed at all the wonderful people I am constantly meeting and am blown away by how amazingly different people are, and that is in some very small way indicated by those three facts. The world is a lot bigger than I can imagine, and it’s filled with talented, hard-working kind souls who truly care about others and intend to leave the planet better than they encountered it.

Eating healthy, working out. The gym is open Monday-Friday, and then they close over the weekend for “deep cleans.” I’ve been going with David, and we made it all 5 days this week. My days have fallen in to an easy routine of waking up, having breakfast and free time until 8 am, then reading scriptures and studying until 10 am. At that point, I meet up with David in the gym and we work out for just over an hour, then I go running, and return home to shower. Lunch is at 12, and I try to be in the BYU Library at 1 to start studying.

The reality is, this is the most time I have put into working out and focusing on eating healthy, and I think I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.

Another benefit of quitting my job is that I’ve had time to ponder, meditate, and just think creatively. And yes, there are now 4 small-business ideas that I want to try. I’ve been working with my new friend Klaus, on golf tours in Brazil. He is from Vienna originally, but married a Brazilian, and has lived there for 18 years now. he leads tours, both for Brazilians wanting to go overseas to Europe, and for Germans to Brasil. I am partnering with him to try and get the american market. I think the key will be the corporate travelers who have a day or two free while they are there on business.

Porter came over Sunday and this is what we had for lunch. I kind of want to do a food blog, and so I’ve been working on presentation.

We played Scrabble again, and this time I barely emerged victorious after a furious comeback and lots of luck. The last letter I drew was the blank which allowed me to both take advantage of a triple word score and go out first.

The other notable event of the week was “The Re-Match.” I partnered up with Kimball and we faced off against c-i-l Mike and Bowen at Talon’s Cove Golf Course. We tried and we failed again. Bowen and Mike won the first two holes and we couldn’t ever catch up. When they won the 8th, it was officially over. These 2×2 matches have been a lot of fun, and I want one more shot at beating Bowen, so round 3 will be soon.

I’ve really been struggling this week to decide if I even want to go to BYU Law School, or if UConn is the right place for me. I’ve compiled a list of pros/cons to help me weigh the factors. It’s a tough call. In the midst of this, I am more  thankful than ever to know that God has a plan for each and every one of us. I know if we try and live worthy of the Spirit, He will guide our footsteps and all will be well. 2 Nephi 32:3

“Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.”

What struck me reading this is that it is not enough to read good books. It is not enough to read the scriptures. We must be buried in the actual words of Christ.