Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016 – Tear out flower beds, Mow at Carthage

Today was a long day of work. Sis. Johnson worked in Nauvoo and continued to tear out more beautiful flower beds. She pulled about half of the flower beds from the “Women’s Garden” behind the Nauvoo Visitor’s Center.  
Next Sis. Johnson went to the Lyon Drug herb garden and pulled most of those beautiful flower & herb beds. These are the very same flower beds we watered yesterday. But, today they are gone!  Sis. Johnson pulled and hauled away so many flower beds she had to make three trips to the compost pile to unload. 
Sis. Johnson has pulled a lot of flowers. But more significantly, Sis. Johnson did all of the driving including backing up the big trailer to the compost pile. I say it is significant because yesterday was the very first time she has ever backed up a large rig like this. The rig is a large 10 passenger van with a 20ft long tandem trailer on the back. Today she did it all three times, perfectly; you can add “Trailer Backer” to her list of new skills she has acquired since she’s been on her mission.

I spent my whole day in Carthage cleaning sidewalks and mowing the Visitor’s Center Lawn as well as the Bushnell House lawns. Neither location has been mowed since last week but the grass is growing so slowly it didn’t look overgrown at all. Normally I mow all of the lawns every 4 to 5 days because the grass grows so fast but there has been no rainfall for three weeks and the weather is much cooler now so the grass isn’t growing very fast.
My last job was at the visitor’s center. I cleaned the sidewalks were all of the terracotta planters used to sit. They left a muddy circle and white calcium ring on the sidewalk were each one sat for so long. They also had roots that had gone down through the drain holes on the terracotta pots and into the brick sidewalk below. I used a hoe to cut off all of the roots. After a thorough sweeping and blowing with the leaf blower, the sidewalks looked a lot better.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016 – Boss’ on field trip, Watering, Durell Nelson, Sally & Richard Done, Stinging Nettle

Today we were on our own; both of our bosses, Scott Higley and Richard Hancock were in St. Louis today on a tour of the St. Louis Botanical Gardens with the interns. The Botanical Gardens is where Richard got his start as a horticulturalist after college. He worked his way up until he was the caretaker of two of the greenhouses.  He learned his craft well.
Richard left us a list of things “To Do” before he left. We were kept very busy. We started by watering all of the greenhouses and the benches. That’s when we met Pres. Durell Nelson. He’s the First Counselor in the Nauvoo Temple Presidency. Pres. Nelson was the head groundskeeper for all of Nauvoo and Carthage for 38 years before retiring. He also served as the Stake President of the Nauvoo Stake for many years. He was looking for us because he had a question about the Ginkgo Biloba tree at the Bushnell House in Carthage. He was hoping to get some “sucker shoots” from the base of the tree. I told him I was sorry but I was on a campaign against all sucker shoots on all of the trees in Carthage. We had a nice visit though and he even helped us finish our watering chores.
Our next assignment was for Sis. Johnson and I to take the watering truck and do the usual watering of all of the flower beds and planters all over the grounds of Old Nauvoo. Even though a lot of the flower beds & planters have been pulled during the last few days, the watering still takes a couple of hours to finish. 
Our next assignment was to pull weeds from around the “Purple Weeping Beech” tree in the front lawn of the visitor’s center. Since the limbs are “Weeping” and hang all the way to the ground, it hasn’t been weeded or cleaned all summer and there were a lot of weeds and several volunteer walnut trees growing up through the canopy. It really was a mess and Sis. Johnson & I really worked hard at cleaning it up.
The worst part of the cleanup of the Weeping Beech tree was the “Stinging Nettle” among all of the weeds under the tree. I discovered the Stinging Nettle the hard way while I was pulling weeds. Both of my wrists, just above my gloves, started to burn! I decided to back out from the thick growth of weeds to see what I was really pulling. That’s when I notice I was pulling a very large group of Stinging Nettle plants. There were still a ton left to pull but from then on I was much more careful and Sis. Johnson and I finished the job without further incident or pain.

When we used to work in Carthage we would be surprised by unexpected visits from old friends who happened by. Well, we’ve only been working in Nauvoo a few days and it happened again today. It was a pleasure to see our old friends, Sally & Richard Done from Arizona. They are returning from the open house of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple and they’ve been visiting and touring a lot of the church history sights on their way home. They served a Senior couple mission in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 2011-2013. We had a very nice visit with them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 – Farewell to YSSM’s in Mission Trg. Meeting, Hauled away more of the pretty flowers, Edward Hunter Excavation

This morning’s weekly Mission training meeting was very good and instructive as usual. What made the meeting even more special was that Pres. Hall asked all eight of the departing YSSM’s (Young Single Sister Missionaries) to be seated up front facing all of us. This week all eight of them are going home, having served their 18 months as full time missionaries.  At the end of the meeting we had a very tender moment. All of us, the Senior missionaries, stood and sang “Farewell Nauvoo” to the YSSM’s. We were all in tears as we sang, especially the YSSM’s. It was a powerful and touching moment.
“Farewell Nauvoo” is a very special and powerful song. It holds special and very deep meaning for all of us in the mission. It is sung at the end of the play we perform in “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo.” It highlights those early pioneers who had to say farewell to their beloved Nauvoo, their homes, their fields and their Temple view. Then cross the Mississippi River and head west into the vast unknown wilderness.

For farewells like this morning we sing it to our fellow missionaries that are departing for home and saying “Farewell Nauvoo.” Here are the lyrics to the final verse:
And so we go and hide our aching hearts
No one will see our tears when we depart
This home we leave will shelter memories clear
Of all that we hold dear in Old Nauvoo
Farewell Nauvoo – Farewell Nauvoo
At work Sis. Johnson was on the watering truck all day. I did the same thing in Nauvoo that we did in Carthage yesterday.  The crew I worked with took down and hauled away the large planters and flower beds along Nauvoo’s old main street, Visitor’s Center and at various homes, including Pres. Hall’s home.
Again, it was a heartbreaking sight to see all of those beautiful flowers going to the compost pile. But it had to be done before the killing frosts of October hit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 – Pull Pots & Flower Beds from Carthage Visitor’s Center
The long awaited dreaded day has arrived. Today we pulled out and threw away all of the terracotta planters and all of the beautiful flower beds. Oh the tragedy, the mayhem and the carnage. Our beautiful flowers Sis. Johnson and I have cared for all summer at the Carthage Visitor’s Center are gone. We weren’t the only ones saddened by the heartbreaking scene; the other missionaries came out to watch with long faces at the painful event. 
This morning we hauled to the dump all of those beautiful flowers that lined the sidewalks of the visitor’s center. What a sad scene, about ten of us from FM arrived at about 8:00AM and we were done and cleaned up by 10:00AM. But never fear, we will return sometime in October with thousands of tulip bulbs. The flower beds will rise again in the spring like “The Phoenix”, ablaze in beautiful color once more.
The average first frost in Central Illinois is around the 20th of October. But it can happen as early as the 20th of September.  When it does happen, all of the beautiful flowers in Carthage would have been dead and flat of the ground overnight. So, in order to be proactive and maximize the staff resources available to the managers at FM, today was the best day to pull the plants because we had enough help to get in and out quickly and cause as little disruption to the guests of the visitor’s center as possible.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016 – Recycling Planters, Watering, Yard Work

This morning in our 7:00AM prayer meeting at FM (Facilities Maintenance) the managers honored Elder and Sis. Stevens who are going home this week. They’ve served their 18 months on their mission and both of them have worked in FM the whole time. We are good friends with the Steven’s; they are in our “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo” cast with Sis. Johnson and I.
A busy day of work today. It’s time to remove and recycle all of the terracotta planters in Nauvoo. We started on the main street named Mulholland in downtown Nauvoo where the FM placed about 30 very large terracotta planters along the sidewalk in the business district last May. Today we loaded all of the planters in my big trailer and hauled them to the compost pile for recycling at the FM compound.
Next we went to the visitor’s center and removed and hauled away another 30 planters. All of the terracotta planters in downtown Nauvoo and at the visitor’s center were very large and some were extremely heavy planters. Sometimes it took 3 men to lift them into the trailer. About half way through the project our managers, Scott and Richard brought two tractors with front loaders to make the job a lot easier on all of us. 
While I was helping with the planter removal project Sis. Johnson was watering the rest of the planters that weren’t being recycled today. She also watered most of the flower beds in historic Nauvoo. She was using the big water tanker truck to do the watering. The project took her all morning.
My next assignment was to water the FM’s greenhouses. Later I helped Richard blow all of the fall leaves away from the historic sites on South Main Street in historic Nauvoo. It is “Fall” and the leaves are definitely falling. However it is only the start. Really there aren’t that many leaves to blow away but they are unsightly none the less. When we start having overnight frost, then we’ll really be in the leaf cleanup season.

Back at our new house I spent about three hours working on weeds, trimming, pruning, raking and hauling. My dump truck is almost full of all the clippings. But the grounds around our new house (It’s called the Haas House because the last family to own the house was the Haas family) look a lot better now. Sis. Johnson has big plans for the flower beds.