Back in the very olden days (before wheels were invented my kids would say) I used to play a song on the piano and some of the words went like this, "Oh it's a long, long time, from May to September." But I am here to tell you it isn't - it's not even a long, long time from May to October which will be here in a few short days. We are so busy here in the mission that the weeks go flying by and every week I wonder how we got from Monday to Friday so quickly. All around us we see signs of autumn approaching and I am sure that cold weather will not be too far behind that. In fact, it has only been warm enough in the office for me to wear sandals one day this week.....and I really don't like to wear close-toed shoes but I do want to keep my toes warm.
Following a "regular" day in the office on Monday, Elder Ashton left with Elder Wright to drive down to Kinston, North Carolina. This week representatives from Salt Lake were here along with some technical people to install "tattle-tale" boxes in all the mission cars, plus Elder Ashton needed to inspect all the cars in the mission. There are 78 cars in the fleet he manages and every car is assigned out to at least one set of missionaries - some are shared by two or more sets of missionaries. We also have several areas in the mission where the missionaries do not have access to a car so it is a biking area. Elder Ashton tries to keep enough bikes in good repair to keep that going and also make sure all the cars are maintained and repaired properly so it keeps him really busy! When Elder Ashton went to Kinston he left the truck with me, so on my lunch break I went exploring a few different areas in Portsmouth. I was really proud of myself that I didn't get lost and was able to make it both to our apartment and back to the office without any wrong turns. I saw this bright plant at the base of a tree in a yard and just had to snap a picture of it.
This reminded me a little of the "Indian Paintbrush" that used to grow almost as a weed in Wyoming. Sure is a pretty salmon color.
Wednesday was more of the same in the mission - Elder Ashton and Elder Wright went over to Newport News to inspect more cars and have more "tattle-tales" installed. That left us 3 women in the office and we planned that we would party with salads and fruit, but it got so busy we couldn't all break away for lunch at the same time so there was not much partying going on.
Thursday was the last group of cars for inspection and installation and that was held in Portsmouth so there were lots of missionaries in our building that day. Once the training portion of the meeting was over, Elder Ashton had about 14 missionaries lined up around his desk all asking him questions at the same time! I tried to help out by handing them their inspection sheets and trying to answer some of their questions but most needed Elder Ashton's expertise. The conversation around his desk was so loud that OSHA would have required that we wear earplugs to protect our hearing! I got the distinct impression that the missionaries were pretty worried about the "tattle-tales". The boxes record their driving and warn them of some infractions, others they get no warning but a report goes to Elder Ashton, to President Baker, and to Salt Lake Fleet Management and the missionaries may lose driving privileges for those infractions. The one that counts against them the most is driving without a seat belt! Other infractions that are noted are speeding, hard breaking, speeding up too fast, turning a corner too fast, going airborne.....and I can't remember what else. As the representative from Salt Lake was explaining the program, he noted that the most important thing is to make missionaries aware of their driving habits and to keep them safe.....of course, to the missionaries the most important thing is that they don't lose their driving privileges. It will be interesting to see how this goes once Elder Ashton starts getting the reports.
At about 5 o'clock on Thursday one Elder brought a bicycle wheel into the office and said it had a broken spoke. Elder Ashton was trying to help him get it fixed, but noticed when he turned the axle to get the spoke out that one side of the axle turned and the other stayed stationary....he had more than a broken spoke - he had an axle that was completely broken into 2 parts. That meant a trip over to the apartment where the Assistants to the President live to get some bicycle parts as Elder Ashton was asked to move out of the little closet where he had his "Bicycle Shop". On the way over to the apartment, I noticed several more signs of fall.
Even the small landscaping bushes are starting to turn a pretty coral color.
Scattered throughout several of the trees are bight red (scarlet) leaves. I don't think I've ever seen those before.
More red leaves
Still more red leaves. I find it interesting that the tree is mostly green - no yellow leaves. I guess they must turn from green to red.
This tree seemed to have one branch that is beginning to change color and the leaves look quite pink. We have a tree like that in our parking lot, but every time I think about taking a picture of it, it is raining outside. We've had quite a bit of rain this past week and it has caused the tides to rise - and also the river. As we came back from church today I noticed that a couple of the boat docks in the river near the bridge we cross are almost submerged. More rain is predicted for the next few days so it should be interesting to see how that goes.
Several times this week I noticed this little ground cover plant as we were coming and going from the office. I am intrigued by the tiny, delicate flowers. Each flower is about the size of my pinky toe nail, yet very detailed. We certainly live in a beautiful world full of all kinds of detail!
Saturday as we were driving home from the grocery store, we drove back over the road we took the other day and I tried to grab a few photos......they didn't turn out very well because it was raining but I thought the starkness of this dead tree with the vines climbing up it was interesting.
I think the rain spots make it even more interesting ;-)
We drove around a bit after church today trying to see how high the river was. It is a little high, but I was most surprised to see the heron in the grasses along the river. Can you see it?
One last pretty little flower I found as I strolled around the parking lot today before it started to rain.
Today marks 11 months since we entered the MTC. The time has flown by and I have learned a great deal about myself - my strengths, my weaknesses, how to spend 24/7 with my husband of 48 years and still like him, how to love people around me who have had much different life experiences than I have, and how to survive without those family hugs that I miss so much. I have found the best cure for missing family is to get busy with the work I was called her to do and then I don't miss them quite so much. I've also learned a much deeper appreciation for my country and those who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to establish it.....I've loved visiting historical places and have several more I want to see in the next 7 months. And I have almost learned how to say y'all ;-)
This adventure has been more work, but also more rewarding than I ever could have imagined when we left Arizona last October!