Monday, July 18, 2016

A Chinese Kitten

Livia and Sparkle reading intently
My grand-niece Livia lives in Beijing with her Mommy, her Daddy and her two brothers. (She's in the middle.) So, when her Daddy found a couple of abandoned kitties on the roof, she got her wish - her very own little kitten.
This is what kitties do!
Livia named the little fellow Sparkle.  He's a little cutie pie of a kitten.  As all kittens are!  He is also very brave.  As all kittens are!

"I think I can!"
Funny, he doesn't really look Chinese.

A Kitty smaller than the headphones
I don't think Sparkle knows how lucky of a kitty he is!

Sleepy Baby
He's very cute, and obviously very loved.  Sparkle is a very lucky Chinese kitty indeed!

Even Daddy likes him!
Daddy likes him too
What more can a little Kitty ask for?

Little Girl Kisses!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Farewell to Sabrina

Suria, Carmen, Sabrina and Tiffany
It's difficult when someone you care for moves away.  Sabrina had been with my company since way before I came on board in 2008.  She was a vital part of the Corporate Marketing team - she was also the last of that original Corporate marketing team to leave the company.

That leaves me.  I've been around the longest now of all the marketing group in the company.  It's a weird feeling.

Tiffany, Nikita and Mengzhao
But, as is often the case, Sabrina's decision to leave had little to do with our company, and a lot to do with moving to the State of Washington to be able to provide a better life for her family.  Tough decision, but a good one for them, I believe.

Sabrina - I miss her acerbic wit
And so it was, back in May, that the Marketing ladies took Sabrina off to a farewell luncheon.  We went to a Chinese-French fusion place called Savoy in Alhambra.  The food was very good!


We sat outside under the awnings
Sabrina had 'trying escargot' on her bucket list, which is why Suria had brought us all here to the Savoy.  She knew they served escargot.  We allowed Suria to make the menu choices for us all, as the dishes were served family style.  That turned out to be an excellent idea!

We allowed Suria (right) to make some menu choices for us
I have to admit, despite my many travels in the world, I'd never had escargot (snails) either.  I was surprised to find that I really liked them.  Of course, they were drowned in butter and garlic - what's not to like?

The last, lonely escargot on the above plate got snarfed up quickly
The other dishes were delicious as well.  There was a spicy Asian curry and also Italian pasta dishes. It had looked like a lot of food when Suria was ordering, but we really chowed down on it.  With gusto.

There was little left after the feeding frenzy.

The dishes were varied, but each was delicious
I've always enjoyed the company of my female coworkers.  They are bright and kind and fun to be with.
My second helping of linguini
It was a fun get-together.

Sabrina has been gone a couple of months now.  I still miss her.  It still seems strange to not see her on the other side of the building, in the Corporate offices.

Hope all is well, my friend.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pickering Ward Dinner

My neighbor George looks pretty nifty holding that bouquet!
My Ward (congregation) is a fun and kind one.  We are like a big, extended family and always have a good time together.  On Saturday night, we had a dinner - a farewell to the delightful missionary couple from Utah who have been serving us with love and commitment for the last 18 months - as well as a summery fourth of July bash.

The place was packed!  The Allens can be seen standing in the middle, speaking with my neighbor Sheree.
The Ward provided grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, while everyone pitched in with salads and desserts.  There was so much good food there!

View of our table - Amy did the wonderful sunflower centerpieces
As always, there is a lot of chatter and catching up.  We have fun together.  If you look hard, you can see the tables set up with all the food along the back wall.


Our former Bishop, center, and his good wife (in green) were there

The atmosphere was festive
There was a bit of entertainment, too!  Below, you can just see me peeking from behind the piano.  Here the lady missionaries are singing with my neighbor Heidi on the guitar.

Yes.  I have lots of good neighbors!


The Sisters did a couple of numbers, and here the Elders are singing with them as I accompany them. These are such good kids.  They brought a wonderful Spirit into my home the night they came over to practice.  I love playing for them.


Some of these photos are mine, but I also stole a good deal of them from Maristella Boyle (Thank you!).
My favorite rambunctious kid, Noah, and his mommy


David with one of the Elders

Maristella and Emily


Emily, Jessica, Zairah and Sheree


Sister Judy and Maristella
I'm going to miss the Allens so very much!  It's like getting additional family for a year and a half.  I've loved getting to know them.
Elder Allen (right) and Brother Gonzales
Sister Mariner fashioned beautiful leis for both the Allens.  That was so thoughtful of her!

My neighbors Sheree and her sweet little redheaded cutie pie, Zairah
Our Sister missionaries are both from Canada - but from opposite ends: Vancouver and Nova Scotia!

The Sister Elders attacking Heidi
Come worship with us on Sundays!  You will love having these people in your life!




Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Reception In Bend, Oregon

Nils and Rachel cut the cake
My nephew Nils wed his beautiful bride Rachel a few short weeks ago.  There was a reception in their honor in the Salt Lake area following the ceremony at the LDS Salt Lake temple.

Last weekend, they took off to Rachel's hometown of Bend, Oregon, for another reception.  This time, it was a more casual open house.  It still looks like it was fun.

The cake looks yummy!
Relatives and friends from the Pacific Northwest came flocking to wish the young couple well!  Some drove from very far away.

As there had been a theft of some personal items during the reception in Salt Lake, a high tech security company was enlisted to make sure that didn't happen again!

Christian looking like a Fed
Just kidding!

My youngest nephew Christian stood guard, taking his job VERY seriously.  I love that photo!

The funniest photo, though, is the next one!  Late Saturday, after the open house, everyone decided they needed a Walmart run before the return trip to Utah.  They didn't want to be breaking the Sabbath unnecessarily.

Rachel thought it would be funny to wear her wedding dress to Walmart.

Rachel, Nils, Christian and mom Kirsti at the Bend Walmart
Sadly, there are so many strange characters at Walmart that (a) Rachel didn't look particularly odd wearing her wedding dress there and (b) few people gave them a second glance!

That kinda made my day.

I hope it made you smile as well.




Thursday, June 2, 2016

Jack is Six

Happy Birthday, Jack!
My cat Jack turned six years-old yesterday.  The years we have spent together have flown by.  I enjoy the companionship of my little furry buddy.  We do everything together.  I think Jack is very nice to have around.
What to get the cat who has everything?
I puzzled over what to get Jack for his birthday this year.  His favorite toys are his plastic coated springs and he plays almost exclusively with them.  He got a catnip banana last year.  The turbo track he loved so much and played with for 6 months solid is not so fun anymore.  His super spinning battery operated toy that he got for Christmas turned out to be more fun to watch than to actually play with.

Then I saw it.  A video for cats.

A video?  Mom?  Are you nuts?
I tried to carefully explain the concept to Jack before we began.  "This video is specially designed for kitties, Jack.  It has everything a cat could want to see.  Give it a chance, Jack.  Now you can have your stories, just like Mom watches her stories on TV."

Jack wasn't buying it at first.
If you say so, Mom.
Then I turned on the video...

Look!
 Jack's reaction was instant.  He immediately climbed up next to the TV screen to check out this wonder.  He ardently watched the gerbils, the birds, the squirrels and the rats and the hamsters... he was mesmerized.


"Do you like your 'stories', Jack?"

"Be quiet Mom!  I'm concentrating!"


Later, I explained that we were going to turn everything off for the night, but if he wanted to watch his stories, he could watch them any time, he just needed to tell me.

I began tidying up the living room, and made my way to the bedroom, when I noticed my little guy just sitting on the floor of the living room - gazing up at the blank screen of the TV.

"You want to watch some more?" I asked.  He just kept staring at the switched off TV.  I figured he was letting me know in a pretty obvious way what he wanted! "Okay, you can watch until I go to bed."

I turned the TV back on, slipped in the DVD once more, and Jack settled onto the cushion of a near-by chair, staring up at the screen like a veteran couch potato.

The thought occurred to me I may not get to watch "my" shows ever again!  Ha!

Happy Birthday, Jack!  I'm so glad you are in my life.

Monday, May 23, 2016

17th of May in Norway


This lovely cake approximates the red, white and blue crusaders' cross of the Norwegian flag
We're a week late, but Happy Norwegian Independence day!  May 17th is a special day in the country of Norway.

My second cousin Marit and her husband Jan
 The 17th of May is the day all the schoolchildren march in parades all over the country.  They are dressed in their Sunday best and all carry the red, white and blue Norwegian flag.  Those who have the national costumes, or bunad, wear them on this day.  In the photo above, my second cousin Marit shows off her beautiful Lier bunad, which is embroidered by hand with the apple blossoms of the Lier valley where my mother was born.  Her jewelry is also authentic Norwegian - with brooches of ancient design.

The Lier bunad was designed by another relative, Ruth Strand (My mother's cousin Willy's wife), and was accepted as the official bunad of the Lier valley in the 1970s.

Marit and her husband were just recently released from their service in the LDS temple in Sweden, where Jan served as Temple President, and Marit served as Temple Matron.  They are truly wonderful people.  They have a bunch of beautiful kids and grandkids.

Jan, Marit and a couple of the grandchildren
It looks like this year's celebration was sunny and pleasant.  I've attended May 17th celebrations in the past that were COLD and rainy!

Here (below) Marit stands with other women in their National dress - note the beautiful embroidery on the back of the bunad on the right.  Every one of these dresses follow established patterns from the valleys of Norway; every one of them is a work of art.


Other countries parade their armies, their tanks, and weapons of war on their national holidays, someone once said.  Norway parades and celebrates its children.

Cousin Marit and her family live in Drammen.  This is a lovely city about 40 minutes west of Oslo by train.
Cousins Matts and Jonas (Both my 2nd cousins once removed)
My Oslo-based first cousin Gro always has a full table for her 17th of May dinner.  I think of our 4th of July paper plates, paper napkins and hot dogs and cringe a little when I see how she's set her table for this fun holiday.

Cousin Gro Lene's table is set for company
My mother used to go to this kind of trouble for parties, too.  I think the gene for elegant parties missed me.

Gro took this photo (below) of the celebration in her Nordstrand neighborhood of Oslo:


The entire country shows up for these parades and mostly celebrate with hot dogs and ice cream.  It's a colorful, and peaceful holiday.

May 17th has passed, however, I do hope you have an opportunity for some terrific family gatherings this summer!
Cousin Gro Lene with my brother Jay