It was so great to see all my friends again. I haven't been to Utah for 10 years! Kids have grown up, some have moved out! Our hearts are still the same, though. We're all still great friends.I left Saturday, July 12, and Jane Kessler picked me up at the airport and took me home. From there we went up to Ogden to visit Colleen Gillis and family, then to Draper to visit Angelo and Deanna Carlini. I hadn't seen them for 23 years! E-mail is so great -- and Christmas lettters! We've been corresponding all this time and it felt as if no time at all had gone by.Angelo is doing well after his stroke. It was just so good to see them again.That's me in the middle with my good friends, Angelo and Deanna Carlini
Deanna took Jane and I through her garden and back yard, then we sat to chat on a log swing her son Aaron made for her. Her granddaughters, Adam's daughters, from Arizona were visiting and they greeted us like they hadn't seen us in ages (when we had never even ever met them!) and then Aaron's daughter dropped by and we got the same greeting. What wonderful people! I remember taking a photo of Jay Kessler, too, but I guess it didn't turn out... too bad. He's a great guy and I enjoyed talking with him. He's now bishop of his ward in Magna, UT
I love vacations when I can travel to Utah and see all my all friends.
The next day Jane took me to "Music and the Spoken Word." She is a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I felt so honored to be able to go to that with her.
She had to be there early, so I investigated the Conference Center grounds
... some of me!
I tried to be creative....
The tabernacle is in the background
Brigham Young with the SLTemple in the background
The entrance to the Joseph Smith Memorial building from the promanade. The Nauvoo Cafe below. I thought we were going here for lunch on Tuesday, but we went to the restaurant on the roof instead. Still, I did get a nice image reflection of Brigham Young's statue.
And I got to set up some shots of the temple and new reflecting pool.
At least I think it's new. I don't remember seeing it before, but it's been 10 years, so......
Then I had to get in line to go inside the Conference Center. I think I could have spent another hour outside taking pictures around Temple Square. As it was, I had been out there for 1 1/2 hours already. The temp was slightly cool and I'm glad I had my jacket. The weather was wonderful!
Once inside, I got to see all the goings on of the behind the scenes rehearsals and set ups for "Music and the Spoken Word." It's the longest running radio broadcast -- I believe 74 years now. It's also broadcast on local and satellite television.
It was amazing to see all the cameras -- and they were in the faces of the people on the ends of rows. I don't know how they can concentrate with all the cameras gauking at them... but they do it every week, so they're probably used to it. We were allowed to take pictures and videos during the rehearsal. I only had my video on my little, very inadequate, camera, so I got some sound, but the video is not very good.That's Jane: third row up, far left (red hair)
Jane is pretty much in the center of this shot
Once they started performing, you had to be very quiet and you couldn't take photos or videos. Once the closing credits were done, we all let loose with applause and a standing ovation. I am always moved by standing ovations. I imagine they get a standing ovation every week. I wonder if they ever get used to that...
I was surprised and pleased to hear them sing the song "All My Trials." At first I didn't remember why I knew the words. Then I remembered I sang it when I was in high school in my guitar trio. I'll have to e-mail it to them so they can hear it, too.
So, after all was said and done, the announcer said, "I'd like to introduce a visitor to Music and the Spoken Word today. President ...(pause)," I just thought it was a president of some company or something, "...Thomas S. Monson -- and his wife and daughter."
We all gasped and looked around. Then he stood up and was sitting right in the front row!!! We hadn't seen him sneak in!
So, I thought, I better high tail it over there before everyone gets in line to shake his hand. So I make it to the front and try to push my way past this guy who put his hand out and said, "I don't think you want to go any farther."
I said, "I just want to get close enough to take a good picture. I have a really lousy camera." Then I tried to advance.
"I think you'll want to just stay where you are."
"Can't I just get a little closer?"
Then it dawned one me.... this must be a body guard!!! So I just took a photo of him with my lousy camera. But I saw him with my own two eyes and took a picture with my own two hands.
President Monson is sitting down in the front row in the grey suit.
blurry photo... oh well....
not as blurry, but I had to shoot from a distance through a crowd
There was a retirement tribute after the broadcast so that took up their rehearsal time. President Monson was present because he is the advisor for the choir. Jane told me President Hinckley was the advisor for the choir ever since he was a lowly clerk. He just kept the advisor position with every step up he made in the church. Then, she said, once the prophet is the advisor for the choir, are you gonna just give it to some lowly clerk again? Anyway, President Monson annouced to the choir who its new advisor was going to be -- "It's me!" he said.
How Providential was that? That I was able to see and hear the prophet while I was in SLC?! He spoke to the choir during the tribute and he told stories, of course. I love his stories. What a great man....
Then, Jane and I went to a random sacrament meeting somewhere, then back to her house for lunch. Then she drove me down to the Meyerson's in Sandy, UT. I knew I would see Jane again on Tuesday when a few of us were getting together to go to the SLTemple for a session, so the parting was not painful.
It was so good to see Bonnie and Mike again, even though I had just seen them the Sunday before. They flew out to NJ to see Travis and Jenny and Lexi. I wondered if they were going to be home in time to see me!!They have a new dog -- Dodger -- a poodle/Bichon mix. I wanted to dognap him and take him home with me!
I pretty much no sooner got there than I was whisked off to Dale and Shannon Erling's house in Pleasant Grove, UT. When I got there, the Clarks were there, too! Yippeee! More people to see!
Lisa, Anne, Kelly
Dale and Shannon now have 5 kids. Who'd of ever thunk it? It was so great to see all his kids. I've known Dale since he was a teenager and met Shannon when they got engaged on my first trip to Utah in 1992.
Shannon, Sarah, Dale, Nathan, Jacob and Rachel. Baby Joshua was up in his crib.
The Erlings' new baby had a very eventful birth. He was delivered at home by the EMT next door. Unfortunately little Joshua ended up spending 2 weeks in the NICU. He has to be quarentined for 6 months and can't go near people. I wish I could have held him. He was so tiny and cute.
It was great to see the Clarks, too, and their daughter, Anne. I can't believe she is 17 now. She was 7 the last time I saw her. I was so happy to see them!
Good times....good times....
The next day Bonnie and I went to the movies and saw "Emma." That was really good. It had me in tears at the end. Then she took me to Tai Pan, I think it was called. It was a home furnishings store. I don't think there are any around here. It was nice. We still have the same taste, I noticed.
We chilled the rest of the night, I think. I can't remember what I did. Maybe I took a nap. I was suffering from jet lag the whole time. At any time of day I would just crash and have to take a little nap.
I can't believe Bonnie can see the Jordan River temple from her master bedroom! And she told me there is going to be another temple built closer to the mountains and she will be able to see that one, too.
It just doesn't seem fair. Philadelphia is the only metropolitan city that doesn't have a temple. I didn't realize that! What is holding us up from having a temple!? Zannah says tithing, priesthood and baptisms. But we're baptizing a ward a year! Maybe soon....
Tuesday Bonnie and I set off for the SLTemple. There we met Jane, Joanne Blood and Nancy Ballard! It was so great to be with them again and in the temple. We did an endowment session, then went over to the Joseph Smith Mem'l building for lunch on the roof.Joanne, Nancy, Jane and Bonnie at the top of the Joseph Smith Mem'l Building overlooking the SLC Temple -- breathtaking!
We had all brought photos and we shared stories and told each other about our lives. Bonnie had never met any of them, so now she knows some of my friends who used to be in the Doylestown ward. She was brought into the covetous group (haha).
Joanne, Jane, Bonnie, me and Nancy. Amy, our cute waitress took this shot. Is it just me, or are people just friendlier in Utah?
Joanne, Jane and Bonnie
Jane had to dash off to a temple wedding at the Jordan River Temple at 4 p.m., so we said farewell at about 3:00. What a life! Go to one temple in the morning and another in the afternoon. *sigh*
I still can't believe Bonnie and Mike let me use their car to drive all the way to Idaho and back! What a tremendous gift! Because I didn't have to take the shuttle to Rexburg, I was able to pull off the main drag (I-15) and do a side trip to Smithfield, UT!
The next day I left about 8:30 a.m. and headed to Smithfield to see the Elder who baptized me in 1981. I hadn't seen him for 10 years either. The last time I saw him was at the 1998 CES Symposium I went to when I was a seminary teacher back then. I found him on the Internet! I had lost contact with him since 2000. He now has 12 children! WHOA!
Elder Poulsen and child #10Mary Ellen and baby Caden (#12)
It was so wonderful to see Elder Poulsen and his family. All his kids are darling and his wife doesn't look a day over 25! Being with him brought back so many good memories of my conversion. I was able to tell him my conversion story again and he liked hearing it. I was there for about 2 hours, then I headed north.
I traveled from Smithfield to Rexburg in about 3 1/2 hours. I got to my girls' apartment with about an hour to spare before I went to see Zannah dance! Yippeeee! Her roommate, also a dancer, was having her choreography final and Zannah was one of her dancers. It was one of two times I got to see Zannah dance again! It was great! Then we snuck out of that auditorium and headed over to another to see Zannah's other roommate's final for her directing class. That was nice, too. Sandy and Jewely went with us, and Zannah's friend, Chris.
Zannah in Cara's dance
Those next 4 days are so blurry because I was so tired, I don't remember all I did. I forget what I did Wednesday night, if anything but sleep. But Jewely's roommate Mandy gave up her bed to me because she needed to pull an all-nighter to study for her finals. She said she would have slept in the living room anyway. I was happy to sleep on the couch, but she insisted. I actually slept in a bed every night, the last night in Jewely's bed. Good girls, all.
Thursday and Friday were filled with finals for all three of my kids. I saw them haphazardly. When Jewely was in-between finals on Thursday, we went to "Circle of Love" -- a bridal shop. When we walked into the store, I saw this beautiful dress on a manikin and said to her, "That is one of the loveliest dresses I've ever seen.... it's probably too expensive."
We picked out about 6 dresses to try on. The shop girl, Camille, was very helpful. She overheard us talking about the dress on the manikin and asked if we would like to try that one, too. I said, "Well... we're on a budget." When she told us the price, it was at the cap of my spending limit. "OK!"
Beautiful Jewely and her beautiful wedding gown
So Jewely tried it on and she looked so beautiful! She tried on two other dresses, too, but they did not compare to the first. Photos don't do it justice. She looked beautiful in it. It was perfect for her. She has to wear 2" heels, though, but she wants to! And we have to rent a slip. We made arrangments to go back the next day for a fitting.
A close-up of the lace overlay
That evening the 4 of us went to Courtneys for dinner in Sugar City. It was so great to see them! I can't believe I forgot to take pictures while I was there! I was in a daze and ready to crash at any moment. Too bad.... Zannah took a picture of Mai, their little girl, on her cell phone. That's the only picture we have of that night.
Sandy said he couldn't believe that Mike Courtney wasn't a giant! He remembers him as being this really tall guy. Now Sandy is less than 2" shorter. haha
We headed back to the apartment where Zannah and her roommates were throwing a bridal shower for Kristi, who is getting married in August. They wanted to do it before school was out. It was amazing, with finals and all, that about a dozen people showed up! It was a cool shower. I got a lot of ideas for activities for Jewely's shower.
Below, Shalee and Zannah model their toilet paper wedding gowns
Roommates: Mandy, Shallee, Kristi, Cara and Zannah
Unfortunately, Jewely had a study group to go to and left just before the shower and came back just as the last guest was leaving. She wasn't even in the group shot of the apartment mates.... boo*hoo!
Friday was hectic. We went for the fitting in-between Jewely's finals again. Then, just as we were done, I realized we could head over to Zannah's dance final and see her dance again. YAY!
Jenni and Zannah -- Haute Flash!
(believe it or not, they didn't realize what they had named it!)
After that, I helped Jewely pack up her stuff and fill boxes to ship home and worked on that while she took her last final, which ended at about 5:30. I took Sandy, Seth and Jewely out for dinner while Zannah attended Kristi's and Cara's graduation. Then Jewely and I went back to the apartment and cleaned. The other mates didn't get back till really late and I guess they were up during the night cleaning because they had to be out the next morning. I went to bed because I had to drive to SLC the next day.
Sandy came over and helped us load the car and we headed off for the airport -- about 4 hours give or take. Even though the girls' flight left about 3 hours earlier than mine, they had a layover and mine was direct. We arrived in Phila. about a 1/2 hour apart. James and Jewely reunited after months of a long distance relationship -- and all's well that end's well.
(Wow.... it took me all day to publish this blog....)