For the longest time I've had this little red 1 staring at me from my iPad screen.

It was also on my iPhone...and on the Mac. Notice I said 'was' on the iPhone and Mac. I updated these yesterday.  It took for. ev. er. Bleh on updates. I'm hesitant to update the iPad because it took so long on the other two. I know, first world problems. I'm neither here nor there on the updated iPhone and Mac, different look for the same functions...I suppose if I were more savvy on all the bells and whistles of both I'd have a stronger it is, eh. 

So with the updates to the phone and Mac I felt the need/urge to update the blog. Much like the phone and Mac I've been slow to update this little blog of mine. It's not that I haven't had blog post after blog post running through my mind over the past four months, I've had a million...yep a million, it's just that I've fallen off the blogging wagon. And as is the case with falling off wagons, it's so dang hard to get back on. I'm not the only one that's fallen off though (there's always comfort in knowing you're not the only one) several blogs that I follow have had fewer and fewer posts of late. I suppose the hoopla that is/was blogging has died down (is blogging so yesterday?). Here I am though, attempting once again to get back on this wagon.

Rather than try and update everything of the last four months, and take for. ev. er like the iPhone and Mac, I'll just begin where life is at the moment. At the moment, life is much like it was four months ago except that since his release as stake president Hank is home all the time now, the summer was cool (for Texas standards), we have more cows, I've traveled to see the familia in PDX and PHX, work is good, and Rocket Man is even more adorable than ever. 

Let's see how long I stay on the blogging wagon.



This Fourth of July began early in the morning to put out our flags and to take a quick tour of the ranch, to make sure all was well on the range.

I have the coolest app on my iPhone that let's you do all sorts of fun edits, one of which is a double exposure. 

I like how it turned out, except for the annoying power lines. I should have taken the flag from a different angle, I think that would have made for a much better composition. Oh, yeah, the app is Afterlight, you really should have it on your phone.

The Fourth of July is all about family, friends, and food. Hank's family has had a gathering on this day for, well, forever! There is always an enormous amount of food, as there always is at family gatherings. I decided to take a different approach to the here's-what-we're-eating speed. The aftermath!

It didn't take long for the dessert tables to look like the other one. Like locust in a field we are.

Then there are the friends and family, we are many. 

This handsome fella is one of the newest naturalized citizens, he became one a few days ago, I'm so happy for him. He's married to one of my dear friends, he's from England.

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I love the fireworks, especially the way Portland, Oregon does them, which I will be missing this year, (insert sad emoji here). I love the patriotic swell that happens today. Above all, I love that I can say that I am a citizen of what I think is the greatest nation. Perhaps that's a bit bold, but it's how I feel. 


Around Here

New month, new post. But I'm posting about what happened last month...because right now, that's how I roll.

Hank and I took a much needed trip to see Rocket Man and Larry. Our usual method of travel is to fly from our regional airport to DFW and then on to PHX. We thought we'd shake things up a bit this time and drive to Big D and fly Southwest. We've decided that we will not go this route again, unless absolutely necessary.  We aren't hayseeds afraid of big city traffic woes, but why subject yourself to them needlessly. Seriously, why? And, Hank agrees with me, middle seats should be outlawed. 

The last time Hank and I flew Southwest was four years ago, the trip there was an experience to be remembered.  We hit a torrential rain storm that caused highways to close and turned city streets into rivers. Oh, man, was that ever nerve wracking! Love Field has done some MAJOR renovations in preparation for the repeal of the Wright Amendment. I was very impressed.  

Tagging your own luggage was interesting, getting that little sticker straight is harder than it looks. But, then again it could have been the person putting the tag on.

After this trip to Arizona I've come to a conclusion, dry hot is worse that humid hot. In a couple of weeks time I've experienced both and I'd rather be in a sauna than an oven. You sweat in both, but humid keeps my face and skin from feeling as if it's on fire and about to flake off. I did go for a walk, once, while there. I was impressed with the plants that were in bloom, more than I expected. I've grown accustomed to seeing a lot of this...

...but not much of this.

I'm told that the south end of the Phoenix valley is much more green and lush, with nary a scorpion to be found...I don't believe it. It all looks brown from above. 

Of course, I would be remiss in not sharing photos of my beloved Rocket Man. He's learned that when the camera/iPhone is up that one must say 'cheese' (much like his mama did at his age) but hasn't mastered staying still long enough for the camera to capture the moment. 

He loves books, Thomas the Train (oy), fixing things with his tool kit, and most of all, hanging with his Papá. 

They are inseparable. And here's the reason why, I've decided they are twins separated by fifty two years. Hank is on the left, Rocket Man on the right. 

Am I right or what?!

On another note, in a previous post I told you that Hank was being released from his calling as stake president. That took place June 15,  it was most bittersweet. I know that I speak for him when I say that we were humbled by the outpouring of love and well wishes and concern of how we would manage once the dust settled. We are doing in fine. I will admit that it was a bit odd to have him seated next to me on Sunday, we haven't done this in over thirty years. I'm sure it was odd for him too. 


Adieu Au revoir Adios

I've been wanting to write this post for, oh, the past couple of months, but for one reason or another I couldn't or didn't. First, I couldn't because the time was not right to do so. Second, I didn't because I couldn't find the words to express what I feel and think.

As ominous as all this might sound, it's not. 

Okay, V, cut to the chase. 

After nine, almost ten, years of serving as the stake president, Bart, aka Hank, is going to be relieved, or in Mormon terms, released, from his service. Which is and isn't a big deal. It isn't a big deal because, as Mormons know, no calling is forever...well unless one is called to be an apostle and that's a whole different thing. But it is a big deal because we will miss being and see the people of this stake. I include myself in this because on the occasion that I traveled with Bart I was fortunate enough to get to know many of the members of our stake and I have grown to love them. And though I know I will see some again, others I may not. And this makes me sad.

Some have asked if Bart/Hank is ready for this, from my perspecitive I'd have to say yes and no. Yes because some of the matters of the stake have weighed heavily on him (rest assured, I do not know details, I just know from demeanor and an increase in gray hair that he has worried and prayed a lot over the last nine and a half years) and 'no' for the same reasons I mention I will miss his being the stake president.  

The love we have felt, Bart more directly than I, from the members of the stake is immeasurable. As with all things in life, the good always helps trump the bad. No matter how heavy the load was at times, there were always events and people that made that load lighter.

Today, for the last time as stake president and stake president's wife, we traveled to the farthest congregation in our stake, Idabel, Oklahoma, two hours one way from where we live. This is a small congregation, but that doesn't diminish the obvious love they have for the Gospel and their willingness to live it. The size of the congregation means that, sometimes, others have to pinch hit when someone is gone, Bart got to do that today. The Sunday school teacher was ill and no one else was prepared to teach the class, up to the plate, the stake prez. He was a natural, of course we wouldn't expect anything less. In this congregation there are many members from the Marshall Islands. They are warm, loving, and kind. Many are limited in their ability to speak English, but that doesn't stop them from expressing their love. Take a minute, well actually more like four, to watch this video.  Please forgive the sloppy camera work, I was bawling my eyes out and trying to shake hands at the same time.

To say that we felt honored and humbled is an understatement. Let me share with you the detail of some of the necklaces/ties Bart received.

I asked one of the ladies how long it took to make one of these, nonchalantly she said, 'twenty minutes, except for the wall hanging (that's the last photo), that took longer.' In my mind I yelled "TWENTY MINUTES", oh, wow. I'm always amazed at the handiwork of craftspeople. These lovely people also honored me with these...

The earrings are made of coconut shells, the bracelet and ring are made of waxed string. Beautiful.

I made the mistake of admiring a hair clip one of the ladies was wearing, before I knew it, she took it off and gave it to me. I said 'no, please, I was just admiring it and wondering if you'd made it.' Another member of the congregation admonished me to take it so that I wouldn't offend her. I was then told that it is their custom to give what has been admired. I was humbled. This too was handmade.

I've been asked by numerous people if I'm looking forward to having my husband back. I've never viewed his service to The Lord as a loss or that he's been 'gone'. Bart and I have been married for thirty two years, twenty seven of those years he has served in one capacity or another that has required that he travel extensively or be in one meeting or another. I don't know what it's like to have a husband at church, sitting on the same pew as me, every Sunday, or having him home after church every Sunday...this will take some getting used to. Wish me luck. 

Photos of Hank by Justin Hackworth (more on him later :) )