Sunday, April 01, 2018

Happy Easter!


Happy Easter to all!

I wrote this over the last few Sundays as I reflected on the Savior and his atonement.

Close your eyes for the next few moments. Imagine the Savior standing before you. He is much taller than you. The expression on his face is one of kindness and love. At his side is a table draped in a white cloth. Upon the table a loaf of bread rests on a plate and a cup stands near to it. His piercing eyes penetrate your soul and you find it difficult to meet his gaze. You are content to kneel before him and beg his pardon for your weaknesses, for failing so many times, for not being kind to his children as you passed them on your walk through life.
He speaks your name. He doesn't reference a list, he doesn't ask an assistant to remind him of who you are. As you hear your name leave his lips you feel the love in his voice. You are aware that He knows you perfectly, completely.

You respond to his call by looking up to his face, unable yet to speak. In his eyes you see kindness, patience. Your sins replaying in your mind, you recognize He is aware of your thoughts.
Still you see love emanating from his face. You look for condemnation in his expression but there is none. Neither, though, is there acceptance of your misdeeds.

He takes the bread and breaks it placing the pieces on the plate. You watch his hands, noting the marks in his palms and wrists. He lifts the plate and extends it to you.

You look up again at his face and hear him utter these words: “Take, eat. Do this in remembrance of me’” You look again at his marked  hands holding the plate with sacred bread. As he speaks you seem to feel these words spoken to your heart. Come, follow me. Do the things which you have seen me do. Covenant with me now that you will keep my commandments. Covenant with me that you will feed my sheep.
The love in his voice overpowers our natural desires. You want to serve Him. You want to please him. You want to serve all you meet.
Reaching forward you partake of the bread. In your mind you see His life. You see him teaching, healing, lifting. You see him hanging on the cross, calling out to His Father and His head falls to his breast as life leaves Him.

He speaks again. Now the cup is in his hand and he offers it to you. “Take. Drink. Do this in remembrance of my blood which was shed for you!” Taking the cup, your hand shakes. You see Him kneeling in the Garden in Jerusalem, Gethsemane. His hands are on the ground, his body shaking as he prays for relief. Again your failings and sins return to your mind and your heart starts to feel the anguish that you see laid upon Him. But this is not all. You see him next tied to a post stripped of his raiment, a Roman soldier striking him with a scourge over and over. He is forced to stand and a heavy beam is placed upon his shoulders. He is forced to carry the instrument of his death to Golgotha. He is marched to the hill of crucifixion. He stumbles repeatedly, exhausted from the beating, the hours of suffering in the garden, standing through three illegal trials through the previous night without sleep. The soldiers tire of the stumbling and abuse him, swearing, spitting and kicking at him. They lays their hands on a spectator near and order him to bear the crossbeam the rest of the way.

At last they reach the end of the march. There the beam is thrown down and His strong arms are stretched across it. Soldiers hold his hands and feet in place as six great nails are driven through his flesh. He hangs for tortured hours, the pain and anguish he is bearing is yours.

Then he is dead.

You see the cup in your hand. You notice the nail prints in his feet.

Jesus’s eyes seem to say, “Follow me. Do the things which he have seen me do. Inasmuch as he have done it into the least of these, my brethren, he have done it into Me.”

“Don't dwell on your mistakes. Turn from your sins and look forward to what can be. Follow me and I will lead you. Love your neighbor and I will forgive you.”

“Covenant with me now that you will follow me and keep my commandments.”

This opportunity is ours, to make this covenant anew each week. It is not a reset button. It is a saving ordinance that we can receive each week if we prepare our hearts and minds to receive and make this covenant.

The living Jesus Christ himself offers this ordinance to us. He has offered his body and life and He extends his power and grace to us to make us His. He can heal us. He can make us whole. He can ease our suffering. He can replace our despair with hope. All of this He can do if we turn to Him, if we seek Him, if we follow Him.

God wishes for us to join with Him in his mission of saving His children. Not all will accept his message but all are loved by Him. All suffering is worthy of empathy. Like Simon, who bore the cross for the Savior, we can ease the burden of the Savior. But we can help him by easing the burdens of our neighbors, friends, family, and even our enemies.

This Easter and every Sunday, even every day, I hope we can reflect on our risen Savior's life and love and sacrifice and commit our lives to his service, that is, serving one another.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Goose Soup, or why I will spend 15 minutes to pluck a bird.

The trip last fall to hunt pheasant and geese with the Mavy brothers is a great memory. Three days of beautiful weather (for northern Wyoming) and good opportunities for birds. A first coon hunting experience, and to top it off, having one of my sons with me who enjoyed everything including more than 30(?) hours of driving.

The first morning of hunting began with sneaking on a pond at first light to hunt geese. It went extremely well and leaving the pond an hour later we had eight geese in the truck.

Normally my male kinfolk simply cut the breast meat out and toss the rest of the bird but I asserted at the time that they need to roast a whole goose and try goose soup. I explained a little of how its done but I wanted to share my approach to these menu items. For me its worth plucking the whole bird when you can get two meals for a family the size of mine and both meals are incredible!

For directions on how to roast a wild goose go here:
I don't follow the recipe to the letter in that I don't make stuffing and I don't put pepper in the brine. I put the bird and brine in a 2.5 gallon zip-lock bag and leave it in the fridge for at least a day before cooking. And it doesn't take more than 90 minutes in the oven after you sear the bird to get it to 160º. If the temperature reaches 155º without stuffing than you are probably good to remove the bird, cover with foil for 15 minutes and then cut and serve.
Tonight I cooked the goose to 160º (a little pink) in a roaster pan in the oven. There was room in the oven so I wrapped some potatoes in foil and fit them in on the shelf around the outside of the pan. Some steamed carrots and salad rounded out our meal.

Goose Soup
After your lovely roast goose dinner clean the meat off the bones (including the legs) and cut it up fine. We had 12 ounces of meat left over when we were through eating. Throw the carcass and the skin that everyone didn't eat into a pot of water and cook it until bedtime. All that fat and bones will give excellent wild goose flavor and provide the broth for your soup. The next step can be done immediately or you can wait until you want to prepare the soup to eat; you can refrigerate now or after. The drippings, solids, and bones need to be removed. A gravy separator works great for this step, especially if it has a strainer-type top. I use one similar to the one below. It catches all the stuff you don't want in the soup.
Trudeau 0991105 Gravy/Fat Separator
Everything solid caught in the strainer or that you spoon out can be tossed. The drippings (liquid fat on the top) can be used to make gravy or sauces. The broth is your next dinner! Taste and see if you need to cook it down or add water to dilute. It doesn't need a lot of help with the salt and pepper from the roasting. But add whatever vegetables (celery, carrots, onion?) and seasonings you wish to make it what you want. I think its amazing, plus its good for you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ruth's first backpacking trip


A few summers ago, we had just been camping and had taken niece Emma to a lake with her name. She caught a fish (her first?). It was a fun easy trip and got me wondering if there were other lakes with our family names that we might visit. Playing on Google Earth (addiction confession) I found a Ruth Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness. It is not far from the north edge of Yosemite and a one or two day hike from the nearest road. Emigrant Wilderness is also know for its beauty and fine fishing so I began my efforts to convince Ruth to go. I searched for other water features with our names and I don't recall any coming up.

A trip to Ruth Lake is more than 12 miles one-way. This means at least an overnight stay, preferrably more to relax and rest the feet after that distance. Close to Ruth lake are several other lakes and points of interest (at least to me).
Breaking the trip down to four-6 mile hikes makes it a minimum of three nights. Keep in mind that the elevation of the trail varies from 8500' to over 10,600'.

At some point I was convinced by wise friends that a warm-up hike would be a good idea to see if Ruth would be up to an adventure of this scale. I started looking in the Lake Tahoe area for trails and campsites with a view. I found lots of trails with amazing views. Most campsites along the trails in the wilderness areas do not have a view of the big lake.

Settling on the Desolation Wilderness I soon found that we had to choose a zone in the wilderness and reserve our first night AND camp in that zone the first night. Being summer, demand was high and my choices were really limited (10 days before hike). After searching through the areas within a day's hike of the trailheads, the Velma zone seemed the best choice, if not the only zone available. It includes Upper and Lower Velma Lakes as well as Granite Lake and Azure Lake. The Velma lakes are each about the same distance from the trailhead, about 4.6 miles and about 2000 feet of climb. So it would be a good hike to compare to my future backpacking plan.

I purchased the permit online, $5 per person for the first night plus $6 reservation fee, totaling $16. The only thing lacking gear-wise was footwear for Ruth and a backpacking tent (women like their privacy) but I found a cheap one on Craigslist two days before our trip, and boots for Ruth the same day (blisters to come). Ruth would use an ancient external frame pack, possibly a BSA model from 30 years ago, and I would use my own slightly newer external frame pack. gave us a forecast of 50-70 degrees, breezy with gusts up to 20mph.

We woke Monday at 5:45am and started preparing to leave, hoping to be on the trail by 8:30am. The Forest service rents bear canisters for free so I wanted to pick one up before we hit the trail. We didn't get to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center to rent the canister until 9:30. There I bought a map of the Desolation Wilderness and we headed to the trailhead, just a few miles from the visitor center.

Eagle Falls Trailhead is directly across Highway 89 from Emerald Bay at the southwest edge of Lake Tahoe. There are two parking lots at the location but they were both full and with heavy traffic and road construction conjesting the road we were forced to park about 1/4 mile south of the trailhead on the roadside. The sun was bright and it was already warm~80 degrees. I was wishing I had worn lighter clothing instead of jeans. Our packs seemed light. We had weighed them the night before without water, mine at 24 pounds and Ruth's at 19.

The trailhead was a beehive. Tourists coming and going to see Eagle Falls, Backpackers and hikers headed up and down the trail. The trail was very intimidating from the beginning, with lots of stairs. Eagles Falls is just 100 yards up the trail and features a bridge over the stream and a pool above the fall big enough for lots of people to wade or swim. Just after the falls is the wilderness boundary and a lot fewer people. The trail climbs aggressively over much of the next mile in a southerly direction toward Eagle Lake; the trail is not very wide as it skirts the side of the steep Maggie's Peak-North. Much of the trail is shaded by firs and cedars but a lot of the trail is in the open, skating across smooth granite with the trail marked by hand placed rocks to define the edges.

We decided to rest after a mile at the conveniently placed Eagle Lake, a mile from the trailhead and 500' higher. The lake is in a steep-sided bowl nestled between two ridges of granite. There were lots of day-hikers and swimmers enjoying the lake so we took a couple pictures and continued our hike.

As we climbed higher the trees thinned out and Ruth noticed more Jeffrey pine with its butterscotch scented bark. I have to say here that one of the highlights of this hike is the ever-changing aromas as the landscape changes between granite outcropping, lush alder groves, dusty pine forest, musky montane chaparral (couldn't identify this particular stinky shrub), and sub-alpine marshland--do mosquitoes have a smell?!

Hikers were much fewer above Eagle Lake. For the next couple miles we played trail leapfrog with a group of young adults, most of whom were hiking in sandals. Their destination was two mile beyond our own. I can't imagine backpacking in sandals! We still crossed paths with day hikers and backpackers on their way out of the wilderness and I usually asked them where they had been.

Over our heads on either side the bare granite peaks towered, hiding Lake Tahoe and long distance views from all but a couple points on the trail. I felt some trepidation as we climbed that we might never get out of the canyon and have the view open up around us. But I shouldn't have worried. Our trail pretty much topped out after 2.6 miles where we met the Bayview trail, an intense sister trail to the southeast. There is a low dome of granite just north of  the trail. I ventured out alone here while Ruth waited and was treated to a view of Tahoe as well as the water cascading down from Lower Velma Lake toward Eagle Lake. Nowhere on the trail was this view possible so it was definitely worth the scramble up this little dome.

The trail bends west here and another mile of easy up and down brought us to another fork in the trail. To the left was the trail to Dick's Lake, to the right was the Velma Lakes trail. Turning right we were now traversing a gradual descent heading northwest straight for the Velmas. We decided to stop for lunch. A flat granite boulder provided a spot to munch and enjoy a catnap before moving on. We knew we were getting close to our destination and the anticipation of hitting the trail's end was growing.

We continued slightly downhill for nearly another mile when we noticed a body of water to our left. We had reached Upper Velma Lake! Now to find a campsite. The lake looked marshy, as in mosquito heaven. Wilderness rules dictate camping at least 100' from water and the trail. We were also instructed to camp in established sites if possible and that those sites were marked. I planned on camping on the far side of the lake so we trekked on.

Continuing with the lake on our left we soon crossed the outlet of Upper Velma, a beautiful creek that looked worthy of a swim. We pressed on though, hoping to find a place to relieve our shoulders of our packs. We found a place where we could cross by hopping across dry rocks. Upper Velma was as clear as could be. I half expected to see fish swimming but the water did not appear deep and I had recently read that efforts are being made to remove trout from these Sierra lakes to increase the native Yellow-Legged Frog populations.

Mosquitoes gave us a warm welcome as we circled the lake heading south. Ever on the lookout for a campsite we crossed the outflow from Lake Fontanillis into Upper Velma. Most of the west shore was either sloped granite or marshy areas infested with bloodsucking insects. We had to walk more than 1/2 mile around the lake before finding a decent site at the south end. It wasn't marked, but we had yet to see a marked campsite so we didn't feel bad about the location. We camped a couple hundred feet from the lake hoping the mosquitoes wouldn't find us. A stream fed the lake not too far to the east where we replenished our water supply.

It was around 3pm by this time. We set up camp and decided to nap. The afternoon sun was too warm in our backpacking tent so I put up an extra rainfly to shade us. Shade, combined with a slight breeze, cooled us off enough to enjoy a decent nap.

At dinner time I told Ruth she had to light the stove by herself  since it was her first backpack adventure. She lit the stove extremely well and in no time (about 13 minutes) we were enjoying beef stroganoff a la Mountain House. I surprised her with dessert of freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches.

We debated hiking back to see Lake Fontanillis but we were both still tired and too footsore to make the effort. We prepped our camp for the night. We had rented a bear canister but it wouldn't fit in my pack so we had left it behind. We placed our stinky garbage far from camp for the night and double bagged our smelly goodies with baking soda. Other measures were taken as well to keep the bears away but we didn't have any nighttime visitors nor did we hear about any others who did.

We slept as well as we could expect on a couple inches of cushion. With sunrise we enjoyed instant oatmeal for breakfast and then we were off on a walk to Lake Fontanillis. Lake Fontanillis is about 200 feet higher than Upper Velma and the outflow from Fontanillis is almost entirely over a smooth slope of granite. Some of the flow is a sheet of water more than 20' wide! It looks like a fun slide but the slope is broken up just enough to discourage riders.

Climbing the granite hillside was vigorous exercise and we were glad to reach the top. Lake Fontanillis was beautiful and seemed vacant of human activity. We wished we could spend more time there but it was only an overnight trip. The view from the edge looking over Upper Velma and over Tahoe was gorgeous and really made the trip worth it.

At this point the inevitability of the return trip was upon us. We headed back where we had stowed our packs ready to go and began the hike back to the Suburban. We chose a slightly different route out, making our way along the stream we camped near up to the Dick's Lake trail. We found a little pond there that was great for swimming. It was nice to cool off and hike with clean feet. Soon we met up with the familiar trail. Yesterday's memories of the different parts of the trail came back to us as we hiked down, places where we accidently lost the trail, met other hikers and their advice and stories, rocks we had rested on.

I always detest getting back in the car after a trip like this. Its like waking from a pleasant dream that you know sleep won't bring back.

All in all it was a great trip and I would do it again. I had an amazing and enjoyable time and a new adventure with my best friend, who didn't complain at all, even with blisters forming on her heels.

Sunday, June 08, 2014


Mom and Dad have a mission blog!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Applegate Mavys, Second String - by jason

Tonight, as a family, we watched the LDS First Presidency Christmas Devotional. Of course it wasn't live as it actually was broadcast two weeks ago. But this was our first chance to see it. The lights in our home were turned off except for the Christmas Tree. The kids all sat quietly while we listened to the beautiful music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square. One by one each of the boys fell asleep and I was filled with joy at being able to gather with my family at Christmas time celebrate the birth of our Savior through music and inspiring words from our church leaders.

I've reflected lately on why I  feel differently at this time of year than others. Why does the "Christmas Spirit" invade my heart and mind at this time of year and not so much the rest of the year. I know that Jesus Christ IS the Son of God, that he resurrected the third day after he was crucified, that he suffered for the sins of all who would repent, so that we could return to our Father in Heaven. And that knowledge effects how I live my life. And logically December shouldn't be any different.

But it is. Maybe you know why. Or maybe you have your own reason why. One reason why I feel different is because of the many happy memories I have of this time of year. From childhood to adulthood to parenthood, so many memories make this the best time of year, remind me of friendships with people that are far away, and this season gives the promise that there is hope for many more great memories.

Perhaps the biggest reason that it feels different is because, inspite of world events, there is a greater measure of peace on earth and goodwill to men in our communities at this time of year. Eleven months out of the year Christmas, Christ really, seems to be forgotten by popular culture and the main stream media. But come Black Friday, before in some cases, the music we all know and love is pumped out by many radio staions and in the majority of retail establishments (it causes us to part with our money more freely). And I'm not against it at all. I've realized it brings me joy knowing that so many people around me whom I don't know are celebrating with me, that we are unified in some small way in our faith in Christ. And the fact that we can publicly worship in song and tradition is one of the greatest blessings we enjoy in this land.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Years Day Talk

One of the first things I learned as a full-time missionary was that God follows patterns. He follows a pattern for speaking to his children and calling them to repentance. He follows a pattern for teaching us divine truths. He follows a pattern in blessing our lives for our obedience to his commandments. This is a profound faith-promoting principle. With this fact planted firmly in our minds we can go forth in any endeavor without any predictability of the outcome but with the knowledge that our righteous efforts will yield blessings and our heed to the commandments will sanctify us and fill our hearts with peace and good will to men. We can work with the assurance that God will lead and guide us in our efforts as long as we are diligent and obedient.

Let’s look at the example of young Nephi and his brothers in attempting to retrieve the brass plates from Laban. The commandment was extended by the patriarch and leader of the family, Lehi.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)

Nephi’s attitude from the very beginning is a lesson to us in faith and trust in the Lord as well as devotion to the Being he recognized as his true king and ruler of heaven and earth. Nephi was confident in the outcome of his future labors and he must have had some good lessons taught by his parents to have that kind of faith. Lehi said of his elder sons:

And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord, because thou hast not murmured. (1 Nephi 3: 5-6)

In contrast, Laman and Lemuel had poor attitudes regarding what they saw as their father’s requirement. I would like to point out that the scripture does not say that Laman or Lemuel refused to their father. I am sure that they would not at this point have challenged the authority of their father. I hope that each of us do not follow their example of accepting a commandment, and murmuring against the Lord or his annointed servants because of the perceived difficulty of the task.
Nephi demonstrated his willingness, even up to the loss of this life, to complete the work that had been placed upon his shoulders. He ventured into Laban’s presence after his brother’s life had been threatened. He even returned to Jerusalem after his own life had been imperiled by Laban.

As members of the church God gives each of us responsibilities. As I prepared this talk I was at first immediately humbled by my inadequacies and my shortcomings. I am a detail oriented person. I have always been interested in understanding how everything around me works. In my tasks I am intent on perfection and become frustrated with my mistakes and perceived imperfections. What I see as flaws in appearance of my work or performance seem to me, as if viewed through a scope, to be more glaring than the good qualities of what I may be or make.

I am sure we have each had moment where we questioned why God has given us responsibility. We see our faults and deficiencies as Paul stated: “For now we see through a glass, darkly…” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We must remember this fact. Our perception of ourselves and of our worth is limited by our mortal human nature and by the veil that we passed through at birth.

Our vision of ourselves can also be skewed by our choices and our desires. One of the devil’s most effective tools is guilt. A man striving to follow the Savior may at times feel guilt for previous sins or mistakes that casts a shadow over his mind and clouds his perception of his divine nature and potential, his individual worth, and most importantly his capacity to improve.

The Savior taught that our weaknesses are an enabling gift. According to this words recorded by the prophet Moroni:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them (Ether 12:27)

We can view our weaknesses as blessings from the Lord that remind us of our dependence upon his grace and infinite love. Our weaknesses put in greater relief his perfect life and can inspire gratitude and determination to follow his example. Our Father in Heaven knows that we are not perfect and still he loves us because we are his children. Each of us is of great worth to him and through our weaknesses we can become strong in faith and trust in the Lord and strong in living the commandments of Lord.

As members of the Church we are commanded to meet together often. In addition to Sacrament the Priesthood meets regularly in quorums and conferences. According to the Handbook for Administering the Church, “the primary purposes of quorums are to serve others, build unity and brotherhood, and instruct members in doctrines, principles, and duties” (p. 40).
President Stephen L Richards (1879–1959), former First Counselor to President David O. McKay, taught: “A quorum is three things: first, a class; second, a fraternity; and third, a service unit. Within it the men of the Priesthood learn of the principles of the Gospel, establish true brotherhood, and carry forward the work of Christ. It is a God-given association from which they derive more of lasting advantage than from any other fraternal organization in our society. Its prime purpose is to encourage and safeguard the individual.”

Just imagine what great things are possible for a group of united priesthood holders who sit in council together, teach one another the gospel and serve without expectation of compensation. They become strong in faith and focused in purpose, and endowed with the power of God, to serve His children who may feel weakened in testimony, struggling financially or in health, or grieving for loss in their family.

The contrast immediately comes to mind of a group gathered around a bar consuming intoxicating drinks or vapors, creating an altered state of mind where their benefit to mankind is questionable if not completely negated.

In a recent priesthood meeting here in the Highlands ward we were each asked to write our testimonies as a means of preparing ourselves to do missionary work. I am grateful for that opportunity that was presented that day. And while I didn’t have enough time to write everything I wanted I want to share what I wrote with you to close my talk.

I know that God lives, that He is the father or our Spirits, and as our father He loves us.
I know that he desires our happiness and wants us to return to Him where we can enjoy everything he has.
I know that Jesus Christ is our Heavenly Father’s son, that he lived, he suffered the eternal penalty for our sins if we would repent, that he was crucified and gave up his life, and that he resurrected on the third day.
I know that because our Father loves us He sends us messengers with his words. I know that Joseph Smith was one of these true messengers and that he literally saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon was translated by him through the power of God.
I know that the Book of Mormon is God’s word. I know we can improve ourselves and our lives by studying the Book of Mormon and applying its teachings to our lives.
I know that God is interested in us and will help us through our struggles, sometimes through miraculous means. His power is on the earth today and is at work.
The Lord gives us commandments and when we make covenants of obedience with him we are blessed. Keeping our covenants will surely bring us back into his presence.
In the name of Jesus Christ,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A musician in the making

This year Rachel completed fifth grade. One of the opportunities for fifth grade students is to participate in band. Pomo School's band includes trumpets, saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and drums. The school district is lucky to have quite an inventory of instruments.

Rachel's first choice was saxophone, but there weren't enough initially so she chose to learn the clarinet. She did very well as a first year. At the end of year concert she even got to play a clarinet-piano duet with the music teacher, Mrs. Margaret Miller.

We didn't have a video camera so we recorded this at a later date.