Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year everyone!

Twelve years ago my brother Robes gave this talk while serving as the Bishop of the Boca Raton Ward. I always share it with friends this time of year.


A talk by Bishop Robes Patton to the Boca Raton Ward

December 29, 1996

[This talk was read by Ellen Patton at Robert Pitchforth Patton's funeral on October 2, 1998 with the following introduction: I had heard about this talk from Kim's sister Holly so when Robes visited me in Boston in February of last year I asked him to bring a copy on a disk. We sat at my computer and as I formatted the document I asked him to give it a title and he said, "Closer to Heaven in '97". Kim said a lot of people asked her if he really set that many goals in one year. He did set a lot of small goals and then chipped away at the list. She said she was the tortoise and he was the hare. He made lots of progress with small goals and was always satisfied with what he accomplished. He never reached every goal but would re-evaluate and move onto the next year.]

In the past, I have made various New Year's resolutions that were a bit out of the ordinary.

Once, I set a goal to spend the year not influenced by time except at work. So I arrived a tad late for a few engagements, but found my stress level decreased.

Several years ago, my wife and I made a resolution to find and contact people who had influenced our lives or people we enjoyed spending time with who had drifted from our lives. Since then, we have reconnected with a number of good friends and our lives have been enriched by these relationships.

When people move into the ward, I try to sit down with them and outline the goals I have set for members here. My goals are quite simple: Be happy and make progress.

Now, a lot has to fall into place for us to meet these objectives. More than likely, we must be keeping faithful to personal religious practices such as personal prayer, family prayer, Family Home Evening, temple worship, Sunday meeting attendance and magnifying our callings. Serving others, extending a hand of fellowship and becoming a ward family.

These goals may sound simple. And for some, they might be simple.

For me, they are not.

They are daily challenges.

If this stuff was easy, our leaders wouldn't have to remind us all the time that these factors bring us closer to the Lord and salvation.

As Brother Cano, our high council representative, said a few weeks ago, if we don't all get to the celestial kingdom, it won't be as much fun.

With just a few days left in 1996, I hope you will take some time to reflect upon what you learned and how you lived last year. Please take time to contemplate positive goals for 1997. They don't have to be complex. They don't have to be lofty. Simple, solid goals can help us reach high levels of spirituality, peace and happiness.

As we come to the end of a year, I have been thinking of goals and resolutions I can set for the upcoming year.

I would like to share some of the feelings I've had about my goals for 1997 in the hope that it might provide some food for thought as you evaluate your lives this week. Maybe my list will help you think of some goals of your own or maybe it will just give you a list of things to remind me during the next year.

So here are some of the things I hope to accomplish next year:

At serious times, be more serious.

At less serious times, be less serious.

Show fewer forehead wrinkles, which my wife says accompany a scowl.

Find more to care about deeply.

Listen to loud music softly.

Listen to soft music loudly.

Read more books.

Gain an appreciation for and a better understanding of fine opera.

Live with zeal and passion.

Continue to love my work.

I was disturbed by an article I read this week in which Nina Shea of Freedom House, a human‑rights organization, explained that Christians are the chief victims of religious persecution around the world today. So I would like to do what I can to alleviate or end such persecution.

In that same light, do whatever I can to promote peace.

Discover and articulate righteous dreams for myself and my family and work toward making them come true.

Honor my parents.

Be a better brother.

Be a better brother-in-law.

Be a better father.

Be a better bishop.

Be a better husband.

Use my baseball mitt more.

Ride my bicycle more.

Sing louder.

Spend one less night in the hospital than I did in 1996.

Read one play by Shakespeare.

Pray more on my knees and less in my car.

Bring a feeling of family to Family Home Evening.

Find ways to extend our Family Home Evening to those who need to feel more part of a family.

Surprise people.

Laugh more.

Cry more.

Read my scriptures more.

Do enough genealogy to find out exactly where in England and Scotland my ancestors originated.

When I am in a city with a temple, attend that temple.

Be a more attentive listener.

Strengthen my testimony.

Be a good Christian.

Feel the power of the atonement.

Live my life and live the gospel at the same time.

Be more charitable, more Christ‑like and more compassionate.

Be happy.

Make progress.

It is my hope and prayer that we can all find peace, happiness and growth in 1997. That we can grow closer as a ward family. That we can feel the guidance of the spirit and the loving influence of Jesus Christ in our lives. Amen.

Long overdue baby gifts

For months I've been meaning to make capes for two newborn baby boys. And, today, I finally made them (another thing to cross off the list)! One of them is the sixth boy and he probably has more clothes than his one sister! And the other is the first boy but I wanted to make something for him. The boys probably won't use these capes for a few years but EVERY KID NEEDS A CAPE!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Photocard Give-away!

I am having a give-away for 6 of my photocards (2 birthday cards, 2 wedding cards, 2 new baby cards) at midnight New Year's Eve night. Leave a comment on this post and you may be the random winner! If you want to tell one of your resolutions you can. I'm going to!

ME: Use more of what I have (clothes, fabric, books/library card, food, note cards)

Happy Happy New Year!!!

Fixing stuff

My vacation is fleeing by and I'm trying to cross off lots of things on the 3-page "to do" list. Yesterday I took my diamond necklace to a local jeweler to be repaired (it broke a year and a half ago). It will be done in two weeks. Two weeks? Doesn't he just have to drop the diamond into a new pendant?! Yesterday I also took my sewing machine in to be serviced/repaired. It was no small task getting to the South Boston shop only to see a big sign on the window that they had moved to Quincy! I wasn't happy since I had called to find out their hours and there was no mention of a new location. Oh well. I got back in the traffic I had just been in and found the new shop. The good news is he repairs the machines quickly and it was ready today! All that for $45. My machine is humming and I'm getting some projects done tonight.

My friend and I had lunch (at 2:45pm) at Famous Dave's which was worth the drive to Braintree. They even gave me $5 off my meal since I was a first-timer. The ribs were delicious!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Today is John and Robyn's anniversary (18th, I think). They are one of the happiest couples I know.

Court of Honor

Kyle Duke received his Eagle Scout award tonight. It was a great Court of Honor and really cool that all his siblings were there. Kyle is one of my favorite kids (I guess technically he's not really a kid since he's 18). There were lots of nice things said about his character and leadership skills. He's done us proud!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another LaPierre wedding

Tonight was Jamie and Michelle's reception. There were lots of treats, a chocolate fountain and a hot chocolate bar! Jamie is the 6th Loppy to tie the knot. Congrats to them as they start their life together.

I've been waiting months to see this movie and I went on Christmas Day (I even went the day before to buy my ticket!). My brother Robes worked with John Grogan (the author of the book that the movie is based on) at the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and I've met John. Just another Brush With Fame. I really enjoyed the movie.

Yesterday I received John Grogan's Christmas card via email. Here is part of it: In 2008, we added a new member to the family menagerie: Woodson, a Labrador retriever puppy who had a role in the Marley & Me movie. We fell in love with him on the set in Miami, and several weeks later, after shooting moved to Pennsylvania, the producers presented him to us as a gift. We love him to death even though he gives old Marley a run for his money on the mischief front. Just this morning he snatched a dozen eggs off the counter and bit into all of them before we could rush in. “Bad dog, Woodson!”

Friday, December 26, 2008

Piling up the Christmas loot

This is a very important picture. It was taken with my first camera (a Kodak instamatic of my very own)! On the back of this picture I wrote: Ellen's Christmas Gifts - 72. I remember those gifts like I got them yesterday. The gold cap, hair ribbons, "American Gothic" puzzle, red bandana, blue furry slippers, a stuffed mouse, oil lamp, candy and a few other things. It makes me sad to see my green stocking in this picture. My Aunt Shirley made us each a stocking when we were born and though I remember having it my first Christmas in Boston, it has disappeared. We always got candy, nuts, and an orange in our stocking. I think that's a pretty fancy display of my gifts on a beautiful gold chair.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry CHRISTmas

A few years ago I was visiting friends in my ward around Christmastime and inquired where they got a nativity scene much like this one. Their daughter Ashley had made it out of clay (the mom collected them)! I asked if I could pay her to make me one (she said no) and then she delivered this to me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve with the Petersons

Delicious food, enjoyable entertainment, reading a Christmas story, special gifts for family members, making memories with wonderful friends.

Christmas: Plan B

My friend was planning to be with her family in Utah for Christmas but hurt her back shoveling snow last weekend and had to cancel her plans. She's in a world of hurt. [Well, she's feeling better thanks to T3 (Tylenol3) but is still in a lot of pain.] The good news is that I was able to contact Santa Claus and he re-routed some Christmas socks (it was too last minute to make pajamas) and a stocking filled with treats for her. I visited my friend tonight to deliver the gifts and a nice note from Santa Claus himself. Tomorrow I'm taking Meals on Wheels over (Mexican food--her favorite) which I hope will be a decent Plan B.

Ho Ho Ho!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The twelve days of vacation

As of 5:30pm today I am on vacation... for twelve days...sing along with me...

12 days of sleeping in
11 projects to tackle (that I can't do while working full-time)
10 DVDs to watch
9 goals to set for '09
8 friends to visit
7 friends to call
6 letters to write
5 recipes to try
4 movies to see
3 sewing projects
2 states to visit
1 vacation that will be good for my soul

And, I'm tossing my alarm to the partridge in the pear tree.

I took this photo in Woodstock, Vermont in December, 2001. I love the Christmas lights on the covered bridge.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Nativity

My sister-in-law made this origami nativity for her brother's family a few years ago.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"It is in giving that we receive."

--Saint Francis of Assisi

OH--------the weather outside is frightful...

...and having only one hour of church was delightful! I hitched a ride with my 4-wheel driving neighbor and enjoyed some lovely musical numbers, a good talk by our good bishop and wishing friends a Merry Christmas.

I just dug my car out. Mr. Plow Guy helped me out a bit by plowing the many inches of snow piled up in front of Bluebell. I think tomorrow I'll be on the bus.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I love this photo that I took on the streets of New York City a few Decembers ago.

Holiday Recipe Extravaganza: Mint Brownies

I've posted a few holiday recipes on the side bar to the right but these are worthy of their own entry!

Mint Brownies (my old piano teacher's recipe)
3 one oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups flour
pinch of salt
3/4 cups chopped walnuts
3 T milk
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 t. peppermint extract
5 drops green food coloring
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt unsweetened chocolate and 3/4 cups butter in top of double boiler or over very low heat. Beat eggs and sugar until light. Stir in flour, salt and nuts. Add to chocolate mixture. Pour into greased 9x13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool. In bowl cream 1/4 cup butter until light. Beat in powdered sugar, milk, peppermint and food coloring. Spread over cooled brownies. Let stand 1-2 hours. Melt chocolate chips with 3T butter. Spread or swirl over green topping. When set, cut into small squares or bars.

the ONLY place to eat

My friends and I decided we'd brave the storm and snow and go to dinner. At 10:30pm. We were starving! We called a few places (Cheesecake Factory, Chili's, The Border Cafe, even Bickfords) and no one was answering the phone. And then I called Bill & Bob's. They are usually open until 2:00am and the guy said they were open and, "We're not going anywhere." So my pregnant friend cleaned off her four-wheel-drive car, picked me up, we picked another friend up, and drove to Bill & Bob's and enjoyed a late night dinner. Tacos never tasted so good!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Choosing Christmas tree evokes battle memories

By Robes Patton
Sports Editor
The Daily Sentinel, Scottsboro, Alabama, Thursday, December 19, 1985

The holiday season is supposed to bring out the best in people, but it doesn’t always work that way. Family tradition, as a matter of fact, can draw the worst from even the mildest-mannered group. I know I’m not alone in surviving battles over Christmas tree decorations, festive meals or holiday entertainment. Our family had a unique tradition of staging a mild riot as we decided on a Christmas tree. My parents provided a learning experience by going to the source -- well, as close as we could get -- for our tree. So we’d pile in the car and Sluggo (our affectionate moniker for Dad) would drive us down to the Los Angeles railroad yards -- which won’t ever be confused with a Montana mountain or Connecticut forest. What wildlife existed along the way won’t ever be mistaken as inhabitants of a national forest either. We’d zip off the freeway near City Hall and pass the downtown bus depot, which, speaking of tradition is traditionally tucked in the finest corner of our nation’s cities. We’d continue past the Midnight Mission, countless winos and the garment district before we’d find the temporary forest. Entering the packed railroad yards we’d watch the workers unload trees, listen to salesmen shilling, and wonder why the flocked trees didn’t melt and how it snowed pink and blue. Each of us would inevitably pick a different tree: one taller than the house could withstand, one fatter than the space between. My mother would always choose some funky fir that looked like something you’d clean anti-aircraft weapons with, and Sluggo would always worry about price. We’d wander around to the different lots and try to find a tree that had just been handed down from the boxcar. That way, we could be assured it was fresh from the ground, not exposed too long to the trappings (and air) of Southern California. We never considered the trees had been grown on a farm a good sleigh ride from L.A. It was strictly our version of scrambling through the woods in search of the properly nurtured sapling. As the night wore on and tempers grew short, we’d argue and complain in favor of our chosen pine, then barter with each other and offer our finely-tuned points of debate. Sluggo would end the squabble the way Dads usually do (as traditional as the holiday season itself): he chose what he wanted and said “No more arguing...and I don’t mean perhaps.” It’s been a few years since I’ve passed through the L.A. rail yards, but I’m sure the trees still arrive and the smell of Christmas trees wafts across the asphalt. And I’m sure, of course, that one or two arguments rage over which tree to buy, keeping alive another venerable holiday tradition.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas carols

We always have wonderful musical numbers at church and at activities and today was no different. I enjoyed the carol these sisters sang (it was one my brother and I always hummed to each other).

You better watch out!

Christmas Party