Friday, December 31, 2010

If I Were An Artist

Each morning I look for trees still in red and gold colors. This morning in Lafayette there was a deep blue dark sky before sunrise and the waning crescent moon with the bright star above it seen through the trees that still have some colored leaves on naked branches. What a glorious sight to behold. If I were an artist I would attempt to capture it on canvas.

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

When I was a little girl my mother allowed my younger sister and me to call random Vallejo numbers at midnight and ask, "Is this one nine five two?" When they'd say we had a wrong number we'd yell, "1952!" Good times. I've done my share of dancing on New Year's Eve and we would have snack attack foods on the table, darts, games, videos and dancing to encourage our children to stay home with us. One memorable Eve in San Francisco Paul squeezed onto our couch with Michael and me while we watched two videos, Alaska and Wild America. Michael and I would dance and of course watch Dick Clark and the ball drop in Times Square and kiss at midnight with a toast of sparkling cider. One year in Concord Michael and I played Chinese checkers with three homes each. We finished it a couple nights later. Making memories is important when that's all there is left. Happy New Year. 2011 here we come. Here's what was happening a while back: December 31, 1843, Nauvoo, Illinois. About fifty musicians and singers sang William W. Phelps' New Year's hymn under Joseph Smith's window.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Remembering the Birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Remembering the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith

What Vermont was like in December 1805

Prophet's birthday fits with season
During a year when Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned king of Italy, and Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific Ocean, there were no headlines to herald the birth of a humble boy in Sharon, Vt.
His mother, Lucy Mack Smith, barely mentioned her son's birth in her book, "The History of Joseph Smith."
"We had a son whom we called Joseph, after the name of his father; he was born December 23, 1805. I shall speak of him more particularly by and by," she wrote.
Joseph's lowly pre-Christmas arrival in a frame home on Dairy Hill was that of a common man.
But his life was entirely uncommon.
Although times were tough, Joseph was born into a family of faith, unity and industry that prepared him for his future calling as a prophet of God.
Gary Boatwright Jr. and Don L. Enders have both worked for the Church History Department as historic site researchers for many years. T. Michael Smith and Kirk B. Henrichsen have also researched Joseph's birthplace. They were not there for Joseph's birth, but they can paint a picture of the circumstances surrounding the important event.
The background
Following the marriage of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack Smith in 1796, Enders said a series of unfortunate events led the couple and their three children to Sharon, Vt.
"Life had begun full of promise for Joseph and Lucy. But within six years, shortly after the births of Alvin, Hyrum and Sophronia, they had the very unfortunate circumstance of an economic downturn," Enders said. "There was the misconduct of a business partner of Joseph Smith Sr. There were unwise decisions on their part, and just bad luck. They lost their farm and home. They were destitute. They had to make a living through hard work and labor."
Following the sale of their farm, the family moved from Tunbridge, Vt., to Royalton Township, Vt. The family remained there for a few months until they were offered a small home and adjoining land to rent in Sharon, which Lucy's father, Solomon Mack, had purchased in 1804.
The birth
As the frigid New England winter gripped the Vermont countryside in December 1805, a fire likely provided some warmth in the humble frame home where Joseph Smith and his family lived.
The home was not insulated, Enders said. The walls were likely no more than an inch or two thick, so even when the fireplace roared with flames, the room's temperature remained low. Lucy was likely confined to a bed in the one bedroom, Enders said.
"Winters in Vermont are bitterly cold with lots of snow," Boatwright said.
In those days, Enders said, midwives and other women assisted in the birthing process.
"They knew the process and were pretty darn good," he said.
It's possible that Lucy's mother, Lydia Gates Mack, was present because the Macks lived nearby.
Male doctors were viewed as specialists who supposedly handled difficult situations. Historians think Lucy encountered complications because a doctor was called in to help deliver Joseph.
As prophesied in scripture by Joseph of Egypt, the newborn was named after his father, "And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation" (2 Nephi 3:15).
A doctrinal dissertation by Larry C. Porter published by BYU contains an interesting footnote about the birth of Joseph, although the source is ambiguous. The title of the dissertation is "A Study of the Origins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816-1831."
The footnote reads, "I, John D. Springs, M.D., have told a family story concerning Dr. Joseph Denison of South Royalton, Vermont, who delivered Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saints. The story was told my mother by her aunt, Mrs. Louise Elder, who had cleared out the house of Mr. Denison after the death of him and his family. The report was bound in his account books of delivering a son for old Joe Smith. Under a later date he had put a note on the same entry saying, 'If I had known how he was going to turn out I'd have smothered the little cuss.'"
What was Joseph's first Christmas like two days later?
There were no trees or decorations, no Santa and no gifts, Enders said. Those traditions didn't come until later.
"The Smith family was descended from Puritan stock, and Puritans did not celebrate Christmas," Enders said. "Christmas celebrations at that time basically meant attending meetings where there was preaching, not play or activities. Ministers preached about the birth of Christ, his life and mission. Those were solemn days, maybe something of a Christmas feast, but not much beyond."
The monument
One hundred years from the day of the Prophet's birth, President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the LDS Church and nephew of Joseph Smith, dedicated the monument that stands atop Dairy Hill today. The monument is made of granite carved from the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Solomon Mack farm was purchased by Junius F. Wells in 1905. Wells oversaw the construction of the 18-ton monument and a memorial cottage.
On the 200th anniversary of the Prophet's birth, then-LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed church members around the world from the hallowed site.
"Two hundred years ago, on this very day, in this very place, there was born a child who was prophetically named Joseph after the name of his father," he said. "He became the prophet, seer and revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gave his life in testimony of the truth. … We are here on this significant anniversary, in the very place of his birth, we pay tribute and honor. We give praise and reverence. We give thanks to the God of heaven for his appointed prophet in this the dispensation of the fullness of times."
e-mail: ttoone@desnews.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our 29th Annual Christmas Caroling Party December 21

On December 21st, the winter solstice and night of full moon, after the total lunar eclipse the 20th a dozen souls met for the annual caroling party plus two elders and a friend dropping by as we sat down to potluck dinner. Paul was brought home in time for dinner by his friend having Amtraked from Provo on a four-hour delayed train. What a great gift for me that was. We caroled our neighbors, shook their hands, they took our picture and we enjoyed our sleighbell-carrying singing together with six-year-old Jaden in the lead. Our family was always big enough to carol in case no one else joined us but we've generally had a crowd of a dozen or so. We returned for hot chocolate, hot spiced cider and cranberry herb tea and desserts by candlelight followed by a raucous white elephant gift exchange and late-night visiting. Thank you friends and family for wonderful times and memories. This is our second party without Michael. We all miss him and love him.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A CHRISTmas Story

December 17 the historic Provo Tabernacle was gutted by fire. This gorgeous edifice is survived by the figure of Christ salvaged in the ashes.
From the newspaper: Remaining gable of Provo Tabernacle roof razed

By Donald W. Meyers
The Salt Lake TribunePublished Dec 23, 2010 03:42PMUpdated Dec 20, 2010 11:04PM
Provo • The remaining portion of the historic Provo LDS Tabernacle’s roof was taken down Monday, officials said.
Fire Chief D. Blair Camp said the roof gable and brickwork on the west end were removed as part of an effort to stabilize the shell of the 127-year-old building that was destroyed in a Friday fire.
“The contractors that have been hired by the church are working on stabilization, and they have to take a few bricks down here and there,” Camp said. “It’s not going to be anything major.”
Camp said investigators went inside the building Monday, but a full investigation will start after the walls are stabilized and investigators can safely sift through the charred remains of the Tabernacle’s roof, balcony and pews.
The fire was called into dispatchers at 2:43 a.m. Friday, and firefighters who arrived a minute later found the inside of the building ablaze, forcing them to fight the fire from outside.
The fire, which burned until Saturday, gutted the building. Among the items recovered from the fire was a picture depicting Jesus Christ’s second coming still in its frame, with all but the figure of Christ blackened.
The fire launched an outpouring of grief, as residents came down Friday morning to see the burning building. On Sunday, a tribute to the Tabernacle was presented at Utah Valley University, along with a performance of Lex de Acevedo’s “Gloria,” which was to have been performed in the Tabernacle.
The Provo Foundation has established a fund for people to contribute to the Tabernacle’s reconstruction. Deputy Mayor Corey Norman, the foundation’s executive director, said the fund was set up in response to people’s desire to see the Tabernacle rebuilt, even though its future is uncertain.
“I’ve told them from day one that we have no idea what the church is going to decide,” Norman said. “But if that time comes, we want to provide residents an outlet to feel like they are contributing.”
LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said the church is waiting for the investigation to be completed before deciding what steps to take.
This gives me goosebumps every time I read it. occ

Monday, December 20, 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse

Tonight there's a total lunar eclipse and I stayed up to see the entire moon become a giant golden ball. I won't be around for the next one, December 21, 2094. Tomorrow is the first day of winter and a full moon. We've often had our caroling party on the first day of winter.

Moonwatchers treated to total lunar eclipse
Associated Press December 21, 2010 06:47 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle
Time: 11:26:04 PM. The onset of a total lunar eclipse is seen from the San Francisco Bay Area on the night of Monday, December 20, 2010, through the morning of Tuesday, December 21, 2010, the winter solstice for the Northern hemisphere. According to NASA, the eclipse is only one of two total lunar eclipses on the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere in the last 2,000 years. The other was in 1638.
Images View All Images (25)

(12-21) 06:47 PST NEW YORK, (AP) --
Skywatchers got an early holiday present this year: A total eclipse of the moon.
Hanging high in the sky, the moon slowly turned from bright silver into a red disk early Tuesday.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth casts its shadow on the full moon, blocking the sun's rays that otherwise reflect off the moon's surface. Some indirect sunlight still pierces through to give the moon its eerie hue.
The 3 1/2 hour celestial spectacle was visible from North and Central America where skies were clear. Portions of Europe and Asia only caught part of the show.
The totality phase — when the moon was completely immersed in Earth's shadow — lasted 72 minutes.
Since the year's only total lunar eclipse coincided with winter solstice, the moon glowed high in the sky.
The last time this occurred was more than three centuries ago on Dec. 21, 1638. It will happen again on Dec. 21, 2094, according to U.S. Naval Observatory spokesman Geoff Chester.
Lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye, unlike solar eclipses.
The next total lunar eclipse will occur in June 2011 and will not be visible from North America.Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/12/19/national/a080058S38.DTL#ixzz18lZdpnKy

Posted on the Christmas Newsletter of Hogan/Vallejo

Twenty-nine years ago our small family went caroling in our San Francisco Parnassus Heights neighborhood including the fire station on Stanyan Street and we've gone caroling every year since, days before Christmas Eve. We moved to a second neighborhood also with a fire station and a third neighborhood with a police station. When our children had their run-ins with the law they still came caroling with us but preferred waiting outside the police station. When we moved to Concord we were just in a neighborhood and enjoy the same route each year, food, hot cider and chocolate, and a white elephant gift exchange. One year unbeknown to me I invited cousins who hadn't seen each other in years until they met at our house. The youngest in the group is asked to carry the jingle bells and we have old music sheets handed out at the McLaren Lodge tree lighting decades ago. One of our carolers sings in the Temple Hill Choir. The rest of us have trouble carrying a tune but we have lots of spirit. A daughter learned the recorder, one son learned the clarinet and sax, one son the trumpet and he favored us with tunes one year. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Olie Conklin-Chavez, 64

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why Didn't I Think of This Before?

I've ordered some of my favorite TV shows on DVD having lamented for years their demise and how much I miss them. Now that I have a decent DVD player and remote I'm ready to be entertained.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

135 Renida Street

This is the address I grew up in but the house looked nothing like this. I planted a small tree on the left side which I later learned was a mulberry that stood bigger than the house. The yard was grassy with an apple and an almond tree in the front and a nectarine off the back porch. I hesitated to put this picture here since it evokes nothing of our modest home but here it is anyway. I was born on Woodrow Avenue, Phil refers to it as the green house, not far away and sometime around 1948 after Rosella was born Mother bought this dwelling built in 1940 for $5,000. I slept in a double bed with my younger sister, and Mother had a walk-through bedroom between the stairs leading to the second floor and the kitchen. None of the lower bedrooms had a closet but there was a wooden portable in the hall just outside the bathroom. We used the upstairs for storage of clothes and furniture unless we needed to rent the downstairs, then we lived upstairs with nothing but a hotplate. Since there is only one bathroom in the house this must have been a challenge. Before Mother died in 1962 we moved in and out of Don and Bev's home on Bonita Court while Mother was hospitalized. Once the mulberry was cut down and the front yard paved over I stopped going there. In talking with Richard and Phil the Davis family lived on Woodrow consisting of the four oldest with their parents. After their divorce Mother married my father and they lived there a while with Phil and Joyce. Don and Rich went to live with their dad. I know my father wanted Mother to get out of the bar and restaurant business. Both Rich and Phil remember me living on York Street as a baby. Rose says she was born in the back room of the Chick Box. When Mother lost the York Street home to foreclosure we may have stayed at the apartment near the bar and restaurant before moving to Renida Street. The kicker is I never knew I lived at the York Street home.