End of Year Indecision

If people make resolutions at the start of a new year, do they make indecisions at the end of the year?

So, I was thinking about 2013 and some of the craziness going on in the world.

We’ve become a society of excuses.  It’s just the way I am.  It’s so-n-so’s fault.  If only (fill-in-the-blank).    I’m waiting for a check to arrive.  And so the excuses continue.

Why not take the bull by the horns?

The opposite of indecision is a resolution.  Some times, I think we get stuck in ruts because that’s all we know.  The paradigm we know keeps us from seeing what other solutions are out there.

So, for 2014, no excuses.  No indecision.  If Plan A doesn’t work, there is always Plan B.  And, if Plan B fails, try Plan C, and when you run out of plans, come up with something else.

Of course, make sure you read my book.  http://25things.dbwalton.com

Happy New Year!

Family History vs Genealogy

We had a nice 5th Sunday presentation about Family History.  I like the quote that was mentioned.  It was to the effect that family history is the dash between the dates.  (i.e. birthdate and death date)

I’m glad I’ve been so faithful about updating my blog.  Sometimes, I should probably write more meaningful stuff.  In two days, I will be doing my last blog entry for 2013.  After that, this blog will be printed in a book form and added to the collection of books on the coffee table.

I wish some of my ancestors would have been better about keeping a written record.  As far as I know, my parents and grandparents didn’t keep journals (with the exception of Grandpa Knowles’ mission journal).  I do have the journal of my great-grandfather’s 2nd wife.  Although not related in lineage, she sheds great insight as to the type of man my great-grandfather was.

Genealogy is the lineage and descendants of your ancestors.  Family history are the stories about their lives.

newspaper story about Joseph Knowles
Grandpa Knowles Newspaper Story

Now, had I not known Grandpa Knowles personally, I wouldn’t know a whole lot about the man.  But, I was fortunate to spend the 1st 10 years of my life with him on a regular basis – almost daily.

copyright 2013 Jeniifer Nelson
Joseph and Rebecca Knowles (by Jennifer Nelson)

And, so it is with my grandmother.  Fortunately, I got to know her better because she outlived my grandfather by 10+ years.

The family history work falls upon those of us who knew these people.  If we don’t record it, that history will be lost, and what a tragedy that will be.

So, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, write it down, type it up, video it, record it, do something to preserve those stories.  Generations to come will thank you for having done so.

Joseph and George Knowles
Joseph and George Knowles in their Butcher Shop
marraige license
Joseph Knowles and Rebecca Allen Marriage License
dinner at grandmas
Dinner at Grandma’s (Yes, that’s me in the high chair)
The Allen Girls
The Allen Girls


Where Did the Snow Go?

You’ve got to love this part of New York.  One day the ground will be white, the next day it’s all green.  All the snow has melted here at the Beckwith Mansion.  The grass is green and we’re expecting rain.

I started the day by fetching some firewood and building a fire in the wood furnace.  I have a 9am class and I want the parlor to be warm for the class.

The class went well, and we covered all the aspects of using a point-n-shoot camera in various situations.  The student seemed pleased and ready to go try out her newly found information.

After the class, Elizabethe and I watched our Christmas present from our grandkids.  They gave us the movie Brave.  I liked it.  It was a nice movie.

By the way, those interested in classes should visit http://www.palmyra-ny.com where you can find various photographic workshops and activities.

The SAD Days of Winter

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing.  Today was one of those days.

I will admit, Vit. D and Melatonin supplements have been helping.  Mostly, they help me get a good night sleep, and by not feeling tired during the day helps chase away those winter blues.

We’ve come a long way in understanding the science of the brain.  We still have a long ways to go.  We understand how things like serotonin, melatonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and other brain chemicals affect our mood.

They have drugs to help control some of these brain chemicals, but I’m leery about the long-term impact, and any drug that requires a constant maintenance dose.  I’m even more suspicious about so-called natural or herbal remedies.  A few, over many years, have been proven effective.  However, recent news reports about the unreliable sources of these herbs is of concern.

There’s no real answer as to what can be done when SAD hits.  Self-talk works best for me.  That is, reminding myself what the cause is, and that it will soon pass helps.  However, what works for me might not work for the next person.  For some people, going for a walk helps.  For others, getting some full-spectrum light offers relief.  In any event, the disorder is real and is nothing to be discounted.

People have commented about my having moved to the Rochester area and the lack of sunshine here.  I’ve taken that in to consideration, however, anyplace can have an over cast day.  Even living in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, could result in staying indoors where it is air-conditioned and result in SAD.  (There is a link to a lack of exposure to sunlight and SAD.)  I also read where sunblock lotions can contribute to SAD.  (Yeah, take your choice – depression or skin cancer.)

My best advice for those with loved ones who suffer from SAD is patience.  Acknowledgement of their mood’s link with the weather is often a huge help.  Also, understanding that suggested activities may not be what the person with SAD wants to do.  Yeah, staying in bed all day isn’t a good choice, but see if you can get them to come up with an activity that will get them out of bed.  In any case, there is no activity that will work for everyone; we’re all different.

Today, for me, I attempted some creative outlet to fight the SAD.  I decided to work on a painting.  Uhg.  It only frustrated me.  And, as part of the weather, some of the things I would like to do aren’t possible because of the temperatures.  (And, other times it might be because of rain or wind.)  So, I gave it up, ate dinner, and called it a day.

Day After Christmas 2013

I’m not the type of person to run out and go shopping the day after Christmas.  In fact, I’m at that point in my life where if I can avoid a store, I will.  (Unless it is B&H Photo.)

I spent most of the day working on the photos I took Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I got them posted and uploaded to the various web sites.

Meanwhile, Elizabethe went to visit Sister Broadbent with her quilling supplies to teach her the art of quilling.  She returned later with a loaf of homemade bread.  Elizabethe was all excited because it wasn’t “whole wheat” (like I make it.)

copyright 2013 db walton
Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus


Elizabethe has been setting up her new Christmas present.  I gave her a little tablet PC.  (Pretty slick.  It’s was about 1/3 the cost of an iPad and runs the full-blown Windows 8.  If you can run it on your desktop PC, you can run it on this thing.   You can’t say that about an iPad and an iMac.)    Anyway, it’s an Asus and came with the keyboard and Microsoft Office.

By the way, anyone interested in joining me in New York City on the first Monday of the year, we’re catching the GoBus in Rochester and arriving in NYC at 7am.  We’re then having breakfast and heading to B&H Photo.  After B&H, we’ll grab lunch and wander around taking photos.  We then catch the bus back to Rochester at 5pm.

Christmas 2013

We got up this morning and started fixing breakfast for the missionaries serving in the Palmyra Ward.  Pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns and all the trimmings were on the menu.

The missionaries arrived, and after our breakfast, we presented them with stockings full of goodies every missionary can use.

copyright 2013 db walton
Missionaries with their Stockings

I figured since they were here, I’d have them make some place cards and I’d photograph each of them with the cards as a Christmas message for future Christmas’.

copyright 2013 db walton
Sister O’Leary Displays Her Card

Once the missionaries left, we started cleaning up and then we opened our gifts.

When I opened mine from Elizabethe, it was in the original shipping envelope.  This is funny, because Elizabethe never opened it to check.  So, I cut the envelope open and it is something I had ordered for my business.  I guess I still have to wait to receive my Christmas present.  (Too funny.)

We watched a bunch of Christmas movies and by about 8pm, I was falling asleep.  I guess I’m getting old.

Spending Christmas Eve with Missionaries

In December of 1976 and again in 1977, the saints of the Littleton, Colorado, Stake put on a Christmas celebration for the full-time missionaries serving in the Denver area.  I will be forever grateful to those saints who feed, entertained and kept us from getting homesick during those Christmas seasons.

Today, Elizabethe and I loaded the car and headed to Pittsford where we spent a good portion of the day with the full-time missionaries.  We started with a large group photo.  It took me about 2 hours to get the lights setup.  On of the senior elders assisted me with arranging the chairs and moving the ladder.  It was going to be a learning experience, but such is life.

After a delay due to weather affecting the arrival of some of the missionaries, we began the daunting task of arranging them for the photo shoot.

copyright 2013 db walton
The Plan
copyright 2013 db walton
The Chairs and Stage
copyright 2013 db walton
Looking Towards the Camera
copyright 2013 db walton
The Final Shot

The missionaries had a white-elephant gift exchange.  I was pretty amazed at some of the silly gifts.

copyright 2013 db walton
Elder Earns His Halo

Yup, even halos for elders.

They had a nice lunch and then the missionaries had games and a movie.  Elizabethe and I decided to head home and enjoy a quiet evening.

The night was spectacular. There was a fresh inch of snow on the ground, the air was crisp and clear, and you could see all the stars in the sky.  It was a storybook Christmas eve.

Home Teaching and Family

I once home taught a family whom I was told will only allow Brother Walton to enter their home.  I remember feeling frustrated that nothing was happening in their lives, but at least they’d talk to me.  It wasn’t until I was released as their home teacher that the husband became active.  I was happy, but at the same time questioned my abilities as a home teacher.  Why didn’t they get active when I was their home teacher?

Back in the mid 1990s, I home taught another family.  I will be the first to admit, I’m not the greatest home teacher.  I struggle with getting out each month and often question whether I’m doing any good.  I don’t believe in just going through the motions, however, yet often times, I feel that is exactly what I’m doing — going through the motions.

Occasionally, I connect with a family I’ve been assigned.  That’s a good feeling, but what is an even better feeling is when a family connects with you.  Even better yet is when you both connect.

And, so it was with this family.  There was a connection.

A few years ago, through social media, I re-connected with this family.  Over the last few years, I’ve been kept abreast of happenings within the family:  divorce, struggling to make needed changes, struggling to get active in the church, re-marriage, being sealed in the temple, daughter deciding to serve a mission and new additions to the family.

You never know what’s going to happen.  I’m just happy I got assigned to home teach her family way back when she was a young mother married to a guy who wasn’t a member of our church.  I thought for sure he’d join the church and the two of them would get active.  Little did I know that marriage wouldn’t last, and neither would her next one.  Little did I know she’d meet a guy who was taking the missionary discussions.  Little did I know he’d join the church, marry her, and take her to the temple and they would be sealed.  Little did I know her daughter would decide to serve a mission.  You just don’t know what is going to happen.

All of this has renewed my faith in home teaching.  I honestly can’t take credit for any of this; I’m just thankful God gave me the opportunity to get to know her and see how her life has been blessed.  And so it is with home teaching:  Sometimes you shouldn’t get caught up in believing you are there to do something.  Just go along for the ride and trust that God will work his miracles.

And, since my home teaching is done for this month, next month when I knock on the door of one of my less-active families, I’ll take hope in knowing that someday I may be hearing about a visit to the temple, or a son or daughter leaving on a mission and I’ll say to myself, “I remember when I used to home teach them.”

copyright 2013 db walton
Merry Christmas

Lesson on the Atonement

Today in priesthood meeting Brother Baker presented one of the best lessons I have ever heard on the atonement.  It was eye-opening to me, especially at this Christmas season when our thoughts are turned to Christ.

Although it was based on a talk by Richard G. Scott, which I had heard when he gave it, Brother Baker presented it in a way that brought new concepts (for me) to life.

Living in a time when so many people flaunt their sins, the lesson brought to light the intent of the person.  Rebellion is sin.  I never quite thought of it in that light.  Yes, I recognize rebellion against god’s commandments as sin, but I never thought about people transgressing a commandment out of weakness and not rebellion.  Of course, the ultimate determination of one’s motivation will be judged by him who has taken upon him our transgressions.


My friend John came to Sacrament meeting today.  It was nice to see him there.  My being the organist came up in conversation, and so I invited him to come listen to the prelude music and the Sacrament meeting program.

I’m sure blessed to be surrounded by good friends.  I went through my list of friend on Facebook with the intent of “unfollowing” those who were continuously posting foul comments and using coarse language.  I was surprised that most of those postings only came from a couple of people.  The rest were all good, considerate people.

After church Elizabethe and I went and delivered Christmas bags to families I home teach.  We had some great visits.  Again, I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by great people.

Using just food on hand, I made sweet-n-sour chicken, string beans with oyster sauce, a shrimp soup and rice for dinner.  Sisters Graham and Killen were our dinner guests.  I also made a caramel apple gooey cake for dessert.

Right vs Wrong

Watching the Hobbit brought to mind the battles in stories.  Many good stories contain a battle between right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and vice, etc.  And, I got thinking about today’s era.

There should never be a question about what is right or wrong.  In fact, most people, upon doing something wrong feel a twinge of guilt.  Then, if they keep doing it, that guilt goes away.  It’s just like the blister you get on your hand the first time you play on the monkey bars.  Over time, that blister turns to a callous and it stops bothering us.  The irritation hasn’t gone away, we’ve just become desensitized to it.

So it is with sin.

When Elizabethe I married, we had an agreement.  It was simply, if God says it’s so there is no debate.  It’s avoided most conflicts in our marriage.  There’s no question about entertainment and lifestyle choices.  We read what the Savior and prophets have said and we do our best to follow their teachings.

What’s tough, and I’d hate to be raising children in this era, is that so many call good evil, and evil good.  It’s a sign-of-the-times.  Isaiah warned against it.  (Is. 5:20)  And, it’s taken us to the point where all someone has to do is say, “That’s wrong”, and immediately they are labeled as a “hater” or “_____phobe”  (you can fill in the blank with most anything these days).

I think there is an evil design afoot when one person says, “That’s wrong”, or “That’s a sin”, and others label them as “haters”.  You can still like (or love) someone even if you don’t like their actions.  Heck, if that weren’t so, every parent would end up hating their own children in time.  After all, don’t children, at some point, do something that displeases their parents?  So, are all parents “haters”?

Even God gave us a list of 6 things he hates:  A proud look, a lying tongue, shedding of innocent blood, devising wicked imaginations, being quick to get in to mischief, lying and sowing discord.  That doesn’t mean God hates the sinner.  He’s just laid out the rules.  In fact, he loves us so much, in spite of our sins, he sent his Only Begotten to provide us with a way back in to His presence.

So, how do we fix this broken world?

I don’t know, but I do know I have to start with myself every morning.  And, as maudlin it sounds, ask, “What would Jesus do?”