We’re stuck in Ohio because of the weather

July 1st, 2013

We made it to the airport at the last possible minute due to the heavy rains and resulting traffic issues including a severe accident on I-71. We waited in a traffic jam for about 30 minutes and finally arrived at the airport only thirty minutes before our flight was supposed to leave the airport. Fortunately security didn’t have a big backup and we got through quickly. When we got to the gate there was not agent there and passengers were still sittings there. The flight had had been delayed for about an hour due to the weather and had not arrived yet. Because of this delay we would quite certainly miss our connecting flight in Atlanta and would then have to spend the night in the airport waiting for the next flight out, which didn’t leave until about 7am.
Not wanting to spend the night in the airport, I decided to call my sister Eli, who works for the airline. She suggested that we call the reservations desk and tell them our predicament and see what they could do for us. It was very reassuring to speak with her and get her guidance concerning our predicament. We were overjoyed to have our flight rescheduled for 7 AM Tuesday morning. The only problem remaining was, could Robyn and Eric keep us for the night?

Robyn reading to Oliver

Robyn reading to Oliver

We called them and they said could, so we are staying with them tonight. Now we get some “bonus” time with our Columbus grandchildren. It was fun walking back into their house and having them come out and greet us with their smiles and enthusiasm. We’re so grateful that we have family here and they are able to assist us!
Now I need to figure out how to get caught up at work, being away an extra unplanned-for day…

Our time in Ohio this week

June 30th, 2013

A fun last lunch before finishing the move

We have had a wonderful visit with Robyn and Eric and their family, and with Tamara and David and their family. I had been in Ohio only a little over a week ago with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir so I had seen the grandchildren recently, but Grandma had not seen them for about a year. They were very happy to see each other! We took an overnight flight and arrived at their home late in the morning on Thursday, before Eric came home from work. We had a little time to spend with the children and get re-acqiainted with them before Daddy was home and we needed to get moving things into the moving truck.
Robyn and Eric's new home!

Robyn and Eric’s new home!

This afternoon we helped move Robyn and Eric into their new home in Massilon, about 5 miles from where they lived before but they are still in the same ward. There were two ward members from the area that helped get the truck loaded, and at the new home there were several families who were there to help get things moved into the new home. The help was wonderful and very welcome! Grandma and I stayed at there with their family Thursday and Friday nights, assigned to the girls’ room (while the girls stayed with Henrik in his room). The new home is very nice and accommodates them well at this time. We were very impressed that so many friends and neighbors offered their assistance to get the move taken care of.
What a beautiful family!

What a beautiful family!

We enjoyed a nice lunch there after Mierae’s baptism and met some of their close friends. We are very proud of her decision to be baptized a member of the church! Mierae was given some birthday gifts and had a nice group to be there to share her joy of the occasion.
We drove to Columbus Saturday afternoon and through an enormous storm on I-71 that was the heaviest rain I have driven through in a long time. The deluge lasted about 30 miles or so and went through areas of construction. It was all the wipers could do to keep up, but it let up as we approached Columbus.
Mom and Rebekah prepare the birthday cake

Mom and Rebekah prepare the birthday cake

We have had a lovely visit with Tamara and family in Columbus including their church meetings. Today we celebrated Megan’s third birthday. Rebekah and their Mom worked hard on a special cake for the celebration. We also had delicious home-made pizza and salad along with a nice berry smoothie for dinner. I have seldom seen a little person more excited to open her birthday gifts than Megan was at this time. She just screamed with glee when she opened an umberella, and the beautiful doll from her other grandparents is her closest companion now. The got a backpack playhouse and a few other fun things including some “magic” slipper shoes.
Blowing out the candles!

Blowing out the candles!

Megan was very excited to open her gifts, so excited that she even forgot about cake and ice cream her mother and sister had worked so hard to prepare for her. It was so fun to see the excitement in her eyes and her voice. We had a really fun time and her siblings enjoyed this almost as much as if they had been receiving the gifts themselves. Their family tradition indicates that the birthday person blow out their candles before we sing happy birthday to them, so we did this. It was a nice variation on the way we do it! We are very blessed to have our wonderful grandchildren and know that they are all loved and wanted by their families. The gospel of Jesus Christ has had such a profound effect on our upbringing, and we are by grateful to have the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in our lives. Te teachings of the restored church have been a wonderful blessing in our lives. All of these grandchildren are growing up so fast! It was really fun to play some games with them and see them interact with each other. We look forward to our next family reunion!

Grandma Hill is doing very well indeed!

June 22nd, 2013

I got home from the Tabernacle Choir tour last night after being gone for 10 days and watched as Grandma Hill walked (carefully) down the stairs tonight with no assistance. We are very proud of her courage and tenacity as she recovers from her recent health issues.

New entryway into Grandma’s home.

She has a handsome new front porch built by family members that will make it easier for her to get into and out of the house. The handrail has been ordered but has not yet arrived and will be installed soon. She has things at her fingertips in her bedroom and a family member with her at all times to assist when needed. She is eating well and although her blood pressure is still a concern her health is remarkably good under the circumstances. We look forward to having her around for many more years as we work on our family history and other associated tasks.

Day 10- Tabernacle Choir Tour: homecoming!

June 21st, 2013

We were happy to find that the concerts we presented were successful and that it was now time to return home to our families. We are grateful to the people behind the scenes that made it possible for us to present our message to the many thousands for whom we sang. The stage crew including those who set up and took down the risers, the organ, the sound system, moved in and out all of the wardrobe cabinets, moved luggage in and out, and all of the myriad tasks that need to be taken care of to make it possible for such a series of concerts to take place. Some of our colleagues are still on their way home and won’t get here for a few more days, driving the trucks with all of the equipment back home. We salute you for your hard work! Thank you for the opportunity of sharing with others the joy in music we feel as we share our love of God, of music, and of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. And thank you to our families who also allow up to participate and be away from them while we pursue the endeavors of sharing this with others in person at other places.

Breakfast at the hotel in panoramic view.

Breakfast in the hotel was relaxing and each of the three groups left on buses for the airport in an orderly fashion. I was impressed with the organization that was put into place making it a very smooth process to get our bags checked in a special place, get through security, and then get onto the aircraft for our trip home. We encountered the roughest air I have experienced recently shortly after reaching our cruising altitude of 33,000 feet. Due to the dangers of moving around the cabin, this delayed our delicious meal but we enjoyed the time and the flight went quickly because of the circumstances.
My group traveled using Trax and Frontrunner back to Utah County. It was a relaxing and fairly uncrowded trip, and we were able to talk with other passengers about the trip and our experiences. Thank you everyone for a memorable trip, my last as a singer in the choir.

Day 9- Tabernacle Choir Tour

June 20th, 2013

Today was a wonderful culmination of the music-making we have done as we shared our music and message with the people of the North Central States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Last night and this morning we had a little free time to visit places in the city. It is a beautiful place. We marveled as we drove into town on our buses, through St. Paul and then into Minneapolis. What a busy place this is! There are beautiful parks and parkways we walked through and many beautiful museums and churches.

A group from the choir visiting the sculture garden

I went with a small group of choir members to visit a modern art garden that we were told was “not to be missed” when visiting Minneapolis. The beauty and intricate planning that went into the organization of the park were immediately evident. We enjoyed the wonderful cool weather, and there was no rain on this day during a period of many weeks when there has been much rain in this area this year.

Spoon and cherry representing the sculptor and his wife

I went with my roommate, Cal Simmons, to visit a few of the beautiful churches we could see in the area.

Basilica from the bridge over the freeway

The Hennepin Avenue church has a large beautiful steeple that is very appealing. They have a beautiful art collection we looked at and a comfortable large sanctuary made of stone and wood, with a beautiful 4-manual tracker pipe organ in the front.

Pipework of the tracker organ in the Hennepin Church

Services at this church must be very enjoyable for their parishioners at this lovely location. We also visited the Basilica of Saint Mary just a few blocks away from the first church. It is over 100 years old and is said to be the “Pope’s church” or the place he would visit should he come to the city to visit with the people of his faith. This spacious building was also very well taken-care-of and beautifully lit.

Organ console in the Basilica of Saint Mary

The organ is a 4-manual Wicks instrument with a large console near the front of the building, which plays the pipework in the front corners and the center of the front of the building, both areas of which are behind that large altar area that is seen from the congregation and thus not immediately visible from a seat in the building. I asked about recordings of the instrument and was told that none were available at this time. The acoustic of this beautiful building must certainly be very complimentary to the sound of the organ. These was a lovely representation of the beautiful sights to be seen in the city.

Me and a few of the men from my section in the last concert

The concert went very well tonight and was a lot of fun for us. The audience was greeted by someone from Minnesota Public Radio who indicated that it had been 22 years since the choir had been in Minnesota and asked the audience to take the pitchs he gave and have them sing “welcome back” in 4 parts, making a c-major chord. Their simple welcome was beautiful and delightful to us! The large crowd was very enthusiastic and responded readily to our music. The guest conductor at the end was a man who is some kind of professional musician, who won an a written contest sponsored by MPR. He wrote that 30 years ago when he was 2 years old their family had visited Sat Lake City and were going to hear the choir perform, but he was behaving badly and caused

Day 8- Tabernacle Choir Tour

June 19th, 2013

This morning we left very early on a long day of traveling towards Minnesota where the last concert will be held Thursday night. On the way we stopped at Black River Falls, a small town near the Black River where the location near the river and supply of white pine made it possible for the supply of lumber to be cut and moved to the water to be floated down towards the Mississippi, where it would be routed to Nauvoo for the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.

City of Black River Falls

The supply of lumber anywhere near Nauvoo was much less plentiful. It was said that the trees were growing so thick and straight and tall, that one could walk a great distance under them without being in the sun. Their branches were limited to the very top of the trees where the sun was so there were few knots in the wood along their tall trunks. Many were as much as four to five feet around so there was a lot of wood there. The choir created and paid for a monument that was installed in the large green central park of the town where an aquatics center was located at one time.

Here I am standing behind the monument to the loggers.

The monument is to honor those who spent many years there laboring to harvest the timber needed for the temple. Several people also lost their lives during the seasons when the materials were floated down the river as they helped clear log jams and were drowned in the river.
In 1911 the City suffered a tragic flood in the early 20th century that washed away many businesses and much of the downtown area. They build a very large canal to carry away any similar flood waters in the future. This canal runs by the side of the park. There were about 2,500 persons in attendance at the dedication ceremonies and the choir performed three pieces for them with piano accompaniment. Elder Craig Cardon of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke to the crowd explaining the significance of the site and the lumber that was produced for the temple from the site. It was a moving tribute to a group of pioneer loggers who were largely unknown but who made a major contribution to the construction of the Nauvoo Temple through the harvest of lumber materials at this location.

Day 7- Tabernacle Choir Tour

June 18th, 2013

Today we had a great day because we didn’t have to get up early. We had breakfast and lunch on our own so no special schedule other than we needed to be on the bus by 12:30 for a departure shortly thereafter for Madison. I went with a friend. To visit the Harley Davidson museum. Harleys are manufactured in Milwaukee. It was very interesting.

A view of the stage with the organ pipes.

We arrived at the Overture Center for the Arts at about 2:30. What a beautiful theatre! It has a very large stage with a 55-rank (?) pipe organ. Rick’s solo was better than ever on that instrument. Then entire instrument is on heavy tracks that allow it to be moved (slowly!) back to the back wall of the stage area to open up even more depth. The orchestra shell swings from the sides to cover the front of the organ when it is retracted, and the ceiling moves up and becomes as if it were a flown piece of scenery.

A view of the house from the front

The room is finished up with maple so the wood is very light in color. The theatre has a very high ceiling, and features three balconies with a total capacity of about 2200 persons, and this concert was sold out. Rehearsal went very well, and our guest conductor was selected to represent the Music Teachers around the country. He was terrific; it was really nice to have someone who really knew the music (not to take anything away from our other guest conductors).
We had a very nice catered dinner in the beautiful lobbies of the Concert Hall and enjoyed each other’s company for a short while. The concert was memorable for many reasons, especially for the superb acoustics of the theater. We will remember this place as one of the beautiful treasures in our history for having had the chance to perform there.

Day 6- with the Tabernacle Choir

June 17th, 2013

We were able to sleep in a little later today and get some rest before traveling to Milwaukee. This wasn’t a long trip, only about 2 hours but we went directly to the venue and had a rehearsal without getting into hotel rooms first.

Dinner at the Hilton

We walked the three blocks and went to dinner there before the performance. We are staying in the beautiful old Milwaukee City Center Hilton Hotel, probably built around 1920. Much of the beautiful period elegance has been restored and it is a beautiful place to stay. The concert was very successful and a lot of fun. Our guest conductor was the Archbishop of Milwaukee who seemed to be a very nice person. He did a great job too!

Four MTC tenors: Mike, Randy, Brad, and David.

Here I am with some good friends in the choir in this photo taken before tonight’s concert. We have spent many years performing together and I will really miss my close association with them! They will all be staying on when I have finished out next week.

I am told that Grandma is doing very well. Thanks to Richard and Yvonne for coming out to visit over the weekend and for their very kind help and assistance. Mom is staying with her tonight (and did so also last night). When I called they were watching a movie together so Grandma could get to sleep. I don’t think it will help. The movie is the North Avenue Irregulars. Too funny to go to sleep during that one!

Day 5- Tabernacle Choir Tour

June 16th, 2013

The story of the night last night was the weather. Things went really well for the concert but the weather forecasters showed a major storm moving east from Texas that went clear up to the Canadian border.

Output of weather radar reports. We were at the location of the blue dot just above Chicago.

They expected heavy rain in the area around 6pm, just before the concert was supposed to start. We saw lots of clouds at that time, and they had experienced rain in the earlier afternoon. When we arrived it has been raining and was quite cool. As the rehearsal went on the sun came out and brightened up the theater and the park around it, but the clouds continued to be present. After the rehearsal and our dinner the clouds looked a little more ominous but we were praying that the rain would wait. No rain came and then at the intermission we checked the radar reports for the storm. It had divided itself and was moving south and north of where we were while everywhere else was getting a good soaking. The only explanation was that our prayers were answered. Quite miraculous!

We had a very nice day today beginning with Sacrament meeting this morning. Elder and Sister Cardon spoke about the importance of faith and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost in our lives. The Italian speaking members were invited to sing a hymn in Italian as a special number, which we really enjoyed. I took a nap this afternoon and did some reading, as well as listening to some BYU Devotionals from many years ago.

This was our nice dinner!

Dinner tonight was delicious as you can see, and we ended the day with a wonderful fireside presented by one of our own, Ron Gunnell, who takes care of arrangements with the guests we have for the Christmas and other special concerts. It was fascinating.

Day 4- Tabernacle Choir Tour

June 15th, 2013

Sign at the entrance to the Park

The beautiful park and the Concert Stage Center

Internir of the Concert Hall Area

We had a wonderful experiece today at Ravinia near Chicago, Illinois. We drove from Indianapolis today, and had to take an alternate route due to road construction. The alternate was closed in one place too so we had to go through a residential area slowing us down even more. After a nice rehearsal we had a very nice meal on the site. I noticed right away that the organ sounded better her than in the other venues so far on this outing. The guest conductor at the end of tonight’s concert was a military man who represented all of the armed services personnel who protect US interests around the world. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star for valor in circumstances that were a peril to his life. We noticed right away that the stage and performing area at this location is much like what we are used to in the Tabernacle and we were comfortable with the way things sounded. Mack is having a great time, especially on the Rossini Gloria and he said that he was very comfortable with it. The encore was decided by the concert attendees (by calling a number from their cell phones and entering a code representing their choice) was “Climb Every Mountain”. At the other two venues so far we had sung, “God Bless America”. It was a great evening in a wonderful setting!