Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Fiesta Adventure

Sunday, May 24

I continue to be interested and drawn to the different kinds of Flora and Fauna in Virginia- so different than what I have experienced in any place I have lived.  As we were going into the office on Monday, I noticed the leaves on the tree that had the three squirrel nests in it.....they almost look like fern leaves.

Tuesday we spent part of the afternoon picking up new cars at the Toyota dealership which is about 20 miles away.   We took a couple of other people from the office with us and brought 3 of the six cars back.   Later that evening we took the Assistants to the President with us and brought the other 3 back.   As we were headed out there, I noticed a couple of varieties of trees along the road that I hadn't noticed before and really wanted to grab a picture but I had left my phone at the office.   The wind was blowing the trees in such a way that I noted the different variety of leaves - one looked almost like a tropical tree of some kind. and the other just looks like a giant fern plant - not really a tree.   I saw more on the way to Norfolk on Saturday, but we were driving so fast I couldn't even get my phone out before we were past them :(

Wednesday we experienced a very heavy was pouring down for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  

Do you notice the size of the splash pattern as the drops are hitting the sidewalk and the pavement.   In the second row of cars are  4 of the new ones we picked up on Tuesday night.  We got six new cars for the mission, 2 red, 2 white, and 2 blue - very patriotic for this memorial day time of year! 

Elder Ashton has quite a bit of work to do when he gets a new car  - he has to get that new car into the system and make some packets that go in the glove box, then he has to decide where to assign the new car and make arrangements to get the car they are currently using back to Portsmouth where he inspects it, gets any damage or broken things fixed and when it is all fixed up he sends details about it to Salt Lake.   They price the vehicle and tell him to go ahead with selling the old vehicle.   Right now he has sold one vehicle, has another for sale and one more coming right up.   Soon he will put these 6 new vehicles in the field and will have 6 more to sell.   I have threatened to get him a nice plaid sportcoat and wide tie from GoodWill and get one of those advertising boards that people stand on the side of the street with and make him into a real used car salesman.   For those of you that know Elder Ashton, can you get a mental image of that? LOL

Thursday morning as we were leaving for the office, Elder Ashton had to run back into the house to get his hearing aids which he had forgotten.   I stayed in the truck and enjoyed the show of nature with 3 squirrels that were running up and down and leaping between branches on the tree right in front of me.    My imagination ran wild with me and I thought it might be a love sick male squirrel chasing after a female and she wanted nothing to do with him....she was even willing to make a 4 foot jump between branches to try to get away from him!   I think Elder Ashton questioned my sanity a bit when he came back out and I was laughing and told him what I was laughing about.   Even here in the "city" it is almost like being in the woods with all the little critters that run around the parking lot.

Here's a picture of the next phase of the tree in the parking lot that I have been following.   Lots of red dots on the leaves right now - so many that some of them have run together and made almost the entire leaf red.

The office/church building was full of about 60 missionaries all day Thursday and half the day on Friday.   It is such an uplifting experience to be around them and see their smiles and their enthusiasm for the work.  We have been away from home 7 months now and have been here in Virginia for about 6.5 months and I feel like I am getting to know some of the younger missionaries pretty well.  One of my favorite things is to get a big hug from the sister missionaries when they come in.  The missionaries got some training from Salt Lake City via Skype and Elder Ashton and I had the opportunity to video them practicing the things they learned.   One of the Elders I was working with was 6'6" tall and I had a hard time getting him and his smaller companion in the picture without cutting off some of his head - course, I never said I was a very good photographer.  In addition to that, I always get to help serve the meals and clean up when we feed the missionaries.   I'm always glad to do that, but between cleaning out the storage shed on Wednesday and doing some bending and lifting associated with that and setting up tables and chairs on Thursday and serving and cleaning up on Thursday and Friday, my body was not so quietly reminding me that I have arthritis in lots of joints and it really doesn't like that too, by Saturday I had to tell Elder Ashton I didn't think I could climb around on the tall sailing ship we went to see and would sit in the park and enjoy the weather and take a few pictures.

The ship sailed into the port and was located at the waterfront park.....when I got out of the truck I noticed a sign with another mermaid on it and finally figured out that the mermaid is the logo for Norfolk.  It was a beautiful little waterfront park and a beautiful day so lots of families were out enjoying the sights and the day.

I thought this was a neat picture - the fountain spurts in front of the roses.

An even more entertaining thing and better picture was the two girls having a great time running through the fountain.   By the time they finished, the one in the yellow pants was completely soaked and had the biggest grin on her face!
You can see there are other boats/ships docked there at the port.   In the background note the large ship and the upper part that looks like it is wrapped in white plastic.   Elder Ashton and I have wondered about that several times and finally got an opportunity to talk to someone who works in the shipyard and he said it is indeed wrapped in white plastic and that is to save the environment from dust and chemicals that may be released into the air when they are working on the ship.   I asked him if the companies were more worried about the environment or the workers because someone else had told me the white plastic was to protect the workers - he just laughed and said, "It's not the workers they are worried about."

A different view of the pier and the ships.

This is part of the "tall ship" from Mexico that docked in Norfolk from Thursday through Monday.  

Another view of the "tall ship"

People boarding the "tall ship" for the tour.

More of the "tall ship" with the sails all rolled up - picture in your mind what this would look like if the sails were unfurled.

There is some guy in a hat up there on the "tall ship" talking to one of the navy men from Mexico - Do you recognize him?   He learned that this is a training vessel and I learned from my research that it will spend 7 months sailing to different ports around the world as a gesture of good will.

Another view of the ship from further away where you can see both masts.

This picture is from a news article announcing the arrival of the ship.   I think those sailors must be CRAZY to stand on those cross arms like that.

Our Virginia container garden.   Elder Ashton decided he wanted to try to grow some tomatoes and chilis and try to talk me into making some salsa.   The one Chili plant has a couple of blossoms and the  tomato plants look like they could blossom within the next week.

The rain storm we had in the middle of the week caused the largest tomato plant to tip over, so Elder Ashton visited the Home Depot that is directly across the street from our apartment and figured out some cages to hold them up.   Seems we get almost enough rain for them - have only had to pour a pitcher of water on them a couple of times.

The magnolia trees have continued to bloom and the large trees with the saucer size flowers are almost completely covered.   I noticed a smaller tree the other day with smaller flowers and did a little research - I think it is called a tea cup magnolia.   Crepe myrtle trees are trying to get ready to bloom - I see buds in the tops of the trees.   I have also noticed some century plants (or something like them) that are blooming or getting ready to bloom......hopefully I'll capture more pictures this next week to share with you next weekend.

Just about ready to flower

Noticed an interesting type of conifer......note how all the branches and needles point downward and it appears the needles are quite fine.

We are still having a great time and learning new things almost every day....and we don't have all the work done yet, so we will keep working on through the heat and humidity.   We are looking forward to having some of our kids and grandkids visit us next month....that should be great fun!

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