The weather in Virginia is an Adventure......many people here say if you don't like the weather to just wait a few minutes and it will change :) That certainly has seemed to be the case for a number of days since we got here. One day last week we noted a really beautiful sunset as we left the office. Almost as pretty as the Arizona sunsets, but not quite. :)
Friday night we attended the ward Christmas party. There had been a couple of ladies at the church most of the day getting all the decorating done and by the time we arrived (10 minutes early) the cultural hall was beginning to fill up. The ward provided turkey and ham and everyone was asked to bring a side dish and a dessert. It wasn't a fancy party and we left before Santa arrived but the bishop told Elder Ashton that there were more than 300 people there. The decorations for each table were a limb cut off of local shrubs and the table cloths were brown paper :)
The tables were placed so close together that there was only room for one person to walk between the tables at a time. We sang a rousing version of the 12 days of Christmas and I was surprised at how many of those in attendance got into acting out the verses.....we had maids a milking, lords a leaping, swans a swimming, etc. Quite fun.
Saturday morning dawned too cold for Elder Ashton to get a bike ride in so he drove to a cemetery. By the time he got back at 10:00 I was ready to go get a pedicure.....but it was still cold outside so I put on my socks and my loafers and wondered what we would do about getting the nail polish dry so I could put them back on. Never fear......those nail techs know just what to do whether they are in Arizona and want you to wear sandals that don't touch your toenails or you are in Virginia in the winter. When she was about done with the pedicure the nail tech said to me, "You have sock?" It took me a bit but I finally realized she was asking me if I had socks with me. I told her I did and she said , "Oh, good." When she finished painting my toenails she grabbed a tiny fan and aimed it at my toes for about 10 minutes. Then she came back and said, "You get sock now." So, I got my socks out, she painted something that looked like honey on my toenails (I think it was some kind of thick oil) and then tore off a small piece of plastic wrap and wrapped my toenails in it, then slipped my socks and shoes on......and off I went on our exploring adventure with toes wrapped in plastic wrap ;-)
We drove to Norfolk (the locals here say that the last syllable should sound like you are cussing or you aren't saying it right).....I can't force myself to say it like the locals so I get teased for my pronunciation. We went to the Nauticus Museum that was right on the water front and down right close to the shipyard. The USS Wisconsin, a battleship that fought in 3 wars - WWII, Korea, and the Gulf War) is moored there and is open for tours. As we were touring the ship, I said to Elder Ashton, "Who would have thought in the last few years as I struggled with health issues that I would be climbing around on a ship?" I feel truly blessed to feel so good!
Before I climbed the ladders on the ship we toured around the museum some and walked the deck of the ship. It was HUGE!....seemed almost like a floating town.
The museum had displays of some of the fancy silver that was used on the ship for serving the officers and other important people.
Did I mention that this ship was HUGE? Elder Ashton wanted to take a picture of me next to the guns to show a little perspective on the size of things.
And I took a picture of him standing by the shells that went in those guns.
As you can see, the day was pleasant and sunny when we started our tour, but by the time we left a couple of hours later it was getting cloudy and windy and I thought I would freeze standing outside waiting while Elder Ashton walked to the parking structure and came back with the truck!!!
These two extremely large black chains ran about half the length of the ship, I asked Elder Ashton what they were for and he said they held the anchors, which were lowered into the water using some kind of heavy equipment........I'm not mechanical enough to know what it was. I think each link on the chain was about 3-4 feet and weighed about 1000 pounds but can't remember for sure.
Another interesting thing we found after we had climbed the ladder to a higher deck was a number of bicycles hanging just beside the staircase.
As you can tell, the moist salty air causes some problems with the metal on the bicycles. As Elder Ashton and I were discussing what the use of the bicycles might be I told him there might have been sailors like him who just loved to ride their bicycles and maybe they rode them around the deck of that huge ship just for the exercise ;-)
Another interesting place on the ship was the dining hall. They had the tables decorated nicely with centerpieces and you can see some of the warming equipment in the background. Also note the the chairs look like they are pretty comfortable. There was an old reel-to-reel movie player in the back of the room so I think the room may have also been used for entertainment.
In a couple of entries on this blog I have mentioned that there are lots of squirrels around and I think I found one reason for that when I stepped outside the other day. As you can see, it was a nice day with the sun shining and no rain falling out of the sky so I took the opportunity to look up. I was surprised by what I saw in the tree right outside our front window.......hundreds of pinecones. I'm guessing that means lots of food for the squirrels to store :)
Two mornings later when we walked out our door, we found FROST on the cover on Elder Ashton's pickup bed - that was yesterday morning and it was really cold and I was glad I was wearing my long trench coat. However, this morning was nice and sunny and I went to the office with only a sweater on, but by afternoon it was pouring rain and there was about 2 standing inches of water in the parking lot when we left to come home.
Time is flying by and I have decided that is because we stay so busy! Last Thursday I finally made it to Virginia Beach (I was supposed to go there in 2007 when we came out to Virginia for work to look at some court software but never made it to Virginia Beach because it was too snowy. If I had any spare time I would try to find the court and ask them to show me that software we missed seeing in 2007 :) When we got back to the apartment, I made dinner for Elder Ashton and me and two of the young sister missionaries....Friday we had work and a party, Saturday the regular chores and exploring, Sunday we had church, went to a member's house for lunch and then cooked dinner for 3 of the young elder missionaries, then back to work in the office yesterday and today.
We are still having quite an adventure, climbing around historical things, and trying to find our way around this part of the country. When we are out and about, I think Elder Ashton and I spend about 1/3 of our time trying to figure out how to get where we want to be without running into the water and having to backtrack to find a different route. With all the water around us in the bay and falling from the sky on a regular basis, don't be surprised when you see me next time....I believe I am turning into a mermaid with long golden hair :-D