Saturday, July 30, 2011

Good Friends

When two old thespians get together, there's always a lot of story-telling and laughter.  My friend Lauri is one of the finest comic actresses around.  I consider myself blessed to have shared the stage with her a time or two.  [Among other productions, we've done Blithe Spirit, Camelot, and, more recently, It's a Wonderful Life together,]  In a perfect world she would be rich and famous and entertaining millions on a regular basis...  Instead, she occasionally graces the small stage at Whittier Community Theatre, and uses her talents to entertain the students she teaches and inspires.

I really enjoy getting together with her.  We recently spent a few hours together for a nice, relaxing steak dinner.  As much as I think there are great benefits to a vegetarian lifestyle, I have to admit there is nothing like a good steak every once in a while.  We got a special that included ribs and prawns.  Oh yum.  Hog heaven. 

We don't see each other often, so it was great to catch up. Good food, good friends and laughter are such a great combination.

Yours Truly

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Morfs Celebrate Their 50th

My brother's In-Laws are two of the nicest people on the planet.  I have grown to love them dearly, and I love it that when we see each other we sit down for a real gab fest every time.  As I believe I have mentioned before, to my niece and nephews they are called by the Swedish Mormor and Morfar (literally Mother's mother and Mother's father), and nick-named the Morfs.
Here is their wedding picture, from 50 years ago.

Merwyn and Britt
Here is a wonderful picture Linnea took of them a few weeks ago.  Don't you just love it when you hear a marital success story?  I mean, it just shows that it IS possible to love someone, marry them and truly live happily ever after.  How nice to have someone loving and kind to weather the storms of life with.

It's no accident that the cake was decorated in Swedish colors!

Hans, Arne, Eric, Britt, Merwyn, Kirsti and Anna
Here are the Morfs with five of their six children.  (I believe Linnea took all the pictures, with the exception of the Morfs wedding photo! That was a bit before her time.  For more of Linnea's wonderful photos, see

I'm sure glad my brother went to that Swedish club dance umpteen years ago and met a little blond girl named Kirsti.  I can't imagine what my life would have been without the association of these terrific people.  And I kinda sorta think my brother would have missed out on a lot of good stuff, too.  Ya think?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Personal, Folks!

From my brother's Deseret News blog:

"This is personal, folks. Glenn Beck said on his show that the youth camp on Utoya island in Norway where scores of young people were slaughtered by a madman last week was a camp that "sounds a little like the Hitler Youth or whatever."

Unlike Beck, Norwegians actually know what real Nazis were like. My mother, may she rest in peace, was a Norwegian who spent her teenage years under Nazi occupation. My grandfather was a member of the Labor Party that ran the camp on Utoya, and he put his life on the line in the underground fighting against Nazis during World War II.

Whether I would agree with his politics today is irrelevant. My grandfather is my hero. He was arrested by the Gestapo more than once and tortured. Once he was turned in by a member of the Mormon congregation over which he was branch president. But he never gave up the fight.

He wasn't alone. Scores of patriotic Norwegians and their children were tortured, sent to frontlines as cannon fodder or executed by Nazis during those years. To even raise the name of Hitler in this manner during the aftermath of the biggest tragedy in Norway since the war years is not only insulting, it's painfully ignorant.

But here's the best part. Glenn Beck asks, "Who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing."

Turns out a tea party group in Florida sponsors just such a camp for kids.  [see the Desnews blog for the link:]

I wrote my own, similar letter to Mr. Beck!   But since it's unlikely he will read it, I'm posting it here.  Sometimes you have to take a stand:

Dear Mr. Beck:

I don't think you have any idea how horribly offensive your comments regarding the Norwegian Labor Party summer camp were - in likening them to the Hitler Youth. It shows a deplorable ignorance of facts.

Norway suffered horribly during the 5 years of German occupation during WWII. I know, because I was raised on stories about things that happened then. You see, my mother was born and raised in Norway, emigrating to the US in 1950.

My mother was forced to attend a real Hitler Youth camp as a young Norwegian. As a patriotic Norwegian, she suffered for it!

Even mentioning Hitler Youth in the same sentence with a pleasant 5-day youth camp just creeps me out. I can't believe you would use those terms! I'd like to see you use Hitler Youth and, say, Boys' or Girls' State programs across America in the same sentence!

Likewise, the Norwegian Labor Party was started by people who earnestly sought humane treatment for workers in Norway. I know this, too, from my family history, as my grandfather and his brothers championed the Labor Party back in the 19-teens and 1920s. They fought for humane conditions and fair wages for the ordinary laborer in a time when frightful conditions existed.

To Norwegians, in a tiny country with a population of only 4.8 million, this is their 9/11. I can't believe you were so disrespectful and insensitive of the grief they are experiencing as a nation.

I think you totally deserve the flak you are getting for your idiotic and poorly thought-out statement. The press in Norway is having a field day with it, I see. I hope you are not planning a Scandinavian vacation real soon.

Maybe you should be more careful next time!

Anne-Berit's Daughter
Marianne Evensen

Thanks for letting me vent.  I feel better now.


A Girl Named Hayley

This is a girl named Hayley.

Hayley is the granddaughter of a wonderful woman that I loved very much for her creativity and enthusiasm, a woman I performed with on many occasions; and the daughter of another wonderful woman who is a dear friend.

Hayley is a beautiful girl.  To me, she looks like she stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

But it's a dry heat...

This is my handsome and intelligent friend Steve.
Steve is an engineer.  Steve lives in Arizona where it is hot.
Very very hot.
Steve likes to experiment.
He decided to try baking cookies in the car during the 3-hour Church block on Sundays.
Anyway, I believe that's how it started.

Here you can see the dashboard "oven".
The cookies turned out beautifully, and were delicious.

Next, Steve tried baking bread in the car.  (Yup, bread!)
 He's a Scout, so there's no stopping him...
 Amazingly, the bread baked...
It doesn't look great, but it was totally edible.

Thanks for sharing your culinary experiments with us, Steve!   I always knew you could bake in a car in the summer without a/c, I just didn't know  you could literally bake in the car.  It boggles the mind.

It's also a good reminder not to leave kids and pets in the car!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Memory Lane

 John Foster and Lillemor at Frogner Park in Oslo, following his LDS missionary service in Germany.  John and his mother found the LDS church and joined when John was in high school.  I remember the surprise of seeing him at the old Phoenix 5th ward chapel one Sunday.  "I know you!" I said.  We had gone to the same grade school. 

LDS people often say, "I don't know where I'd be if it weren't for the Gospel."  John would always chuckle and comment, "I know where I'd be.  Central Methodist!"

Methodists evidently make great Mormons.

Sister Foster, John and Lillemor
These pictures have to be from the early 70s.  John got to tour Europe with his mother following his mission and went north to visit my aunt in Norway.

Sister Foster was a wonderful woman, and one of the pillars of the old Phoenix 5th ward.  I remember her fondly.  She had a brilliant mind, read voraciously, and was always interested in everything

Upon his return to the USA, John married, had a gazillion kids, and became a high school counsellor and Scout leader in Utah.

I found these pictures when going through some old stuff, and thought people might get a kick out of them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Terror in Oslo

It sounds so much like one of my mother's stories of living through World War II in German-occupied Oslo, that it's hard to wrap my mind around it - a bomb going off in a government building downtown Oslo, windows blown out across a wide area - many confirmed dead and countless injured.  At the same time, a lone gunman mows down people at a Labor Party-run children's summer camp on a little island not far away.  The whole town in chaos.

I have so many friends and relatives in Norway.  My heart goes out to them at this difficult time.  I haven't been able to think of anything else all morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

All Landed Safely

The big news of the morning is that the space shuttle Atlantis arrived back on earth, landing safely in Florida.

The little news of the morning (but big to me), is that my little grand-niece and grand-nephew and their mom landed safely in China and are home.

I had been so worried about them traveling so far by themselves.  We're talking more than 24 hours of travel, two plane changes, and one young mother with a rambunctious 23-month old and a 4-month old baby.  I had prayed especially that Holly would have kind, helpful people around to help her throughout the journey.

Livia and a helpful Fredrik

My prayers were certainly answered!  We received this post from Daniel yesterday:

".. Holly arrived just fine at 11:30 last night. Somebody from the airplane helped her carry the kids down to the baggage check. We all arrived at the apartment a little after midnight, after which Fredrik played with his toys until early this morning. It was a pretty long night for Holly, and I really don't know when they are going to sleep.

"Holly told me that everybody was really nice to her once she arrived in Shanghai. Having a diplomatic passport made a big difference, plus everybody wanted to look at the kids. She told me that a big crowd gathered around her after a little kid saw them and shouted that they were Asian-Caucasian mixed babies (Chinese people think that mixed babies are cuter, for some reason). We'll have to get used to big crowds of people poking at our kids."

I really got a kick out of that, so I had to share.

I mean, I think our babies are cuter - but that's because they're OURS, you know?  I think this little family is going to have a very interesting sojourn in China.

My brother writes: "It's kind of strange to think that I have such ties to China now. I mean, it's only been 40 years since Nixon made his famous visit over there. It was always this exotic and kind of forbidding place. Now I have a son who speaks the language and lives there, and I have two grandkids who are half-Chinese. Go figure."


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Leaf on Greenleaf

I nearly had an accident this morning as I was driving down the main street in Uptown where I live.  There was AN ART just springing up right in front of the public parking garage boldly standing where no art has stood before.

Since I've recently been down this street and don't remember seeing this, I can only assume it's fairly new.  It's tall!  And it's really beautifully detailed. 

By the way, my friends coined the term "An ART" long ago as a catch phrase for all public art - most of which is abstract and often seems oddly out of place.  I must admit, though, this "An Art" fits in well.  I got a kick out of it. 

The idea of a giant green leaf on Greenleaf Avenue is appropriate - and more than a little humorous.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jack's Brothers

Jack O'Neill
My Jack comes from a good sized family.  There are three brothers and an adorable sister named Lucky.  They are all very nice kitties and don't get into too much trouble.  Jack is the smallest of the boys.  His brothers live in Torrance, so I get to see them every now and then.

Here is Jack's brother Leo.  Except for the white spot on his muzzle, he looks just like Jack!  He was happy to pose for this picture:

Then there's Piper.  Piper is the largest of all the boys.  (Although I've been told that Leo is actually heavier.) He is black and white, so he takes after his father.  He also has a white spot on his muzzle - just like Leo.

He was hard to photograph.  He is usually very friendly to the weird lady with the camera.  But he doesn't like his picture taken.  First he hid up in the cat tree:


Then he scampered into the kitchen for a snack.

I thought I heard him exclaim, "No comment!  Talk to my publicist!" as he stalked off into the laundry room for some privacy.

It's hard being a blogger sometimes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

God Bless Your Comings and Goings

Norwegian folk dancers in traditional bunad garb performing at the Folk Musem at Bygd√ły
There is a wonderful Folk Museum outside of Oslo, Norway which has a collection of ancient dwellings gathered from all over Norway.  You can wander through this outdoor collection at leisure, getting a glimpse of how my ancestors lived from a couple hundred years ago clear back to Viking times a thousand years ago.  There are many living displays that make it fun, such as ladies baking lefse, or folk dancers such as those shown above, There's also an indoor museum with all kinds of displays about everyday life in ancient Norway.  It's a remarkable place, and one I never grow tired of visiting on my infrequent trips overseas.

One of these homes is completely decorated on the inside with what can only be described as a painted wallpaper of sorts..  It's as if a very creative person got snowed in one winter with nothing to amuse him or herself with but a variety of paints and some brushes.  I can't imagine how much time it must have taken!

You can see a delightful 360-degree image of the main room of this home by using this link:

Living Room from Akkerhaugen in Sauherad, Norway

In another home, someone has neatly painted the following words across the door lintel:

Gud bevar dine ingang og utgang nu og i evig tid.

Translated: God bless your comings and goings now and forever.

The first time I saw this, I remember standing there for a long while looking at it, and wondering about the person of faith that painted it so many years ago.  It really moved me.  I can't think of a nicer sentiment to have across your doorway for those living and visiting there.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bon Voyage, kiddos!

 This is little Livia.  She is going on a long trip on Tuesday...
 ...with her brother Fredrik (shown here playing on Livia's crib)..
...and her mommy (shown here with Fred).

We're going to miss you guys!  But I think Daddy has been pretty lonesome in China and will be very very happy to see you.

The family will be in China for 2 years on assignment with the State Department.

I think Grandpa and Grandma are going to miss them alot.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Okay, I couldn't live in the Los Angeles area without commenting on this weekend's shut-down of a 10-mile stretch of the 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.  It's been a huge media event all week long.

I actually got a call this morning from an out-of-state family member asking me if this shut-down was going to affect my life.  (Thanks, Merlene!)  The answer is, no.  But, it's the thought that counts, right?

I personally think this will be one of the great non-events of the year.  So far, life has been uneventful around here.  Most people got the word and are staying home.  It's nice, actually.  Of course, I'm too far east of it for it to immediately affect me. 

30 something hours more to go!  Stay tuned.

Addendum: Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm:

Well, looks like I was right!  It was a huge non-event.  The 405 was back in business by early afternoon today.  As a friend of mine said, "Amazingly, Angelinos can refrain from driving when called upon." 

We should do this once a year.  Think of the benefits!  Think of the cleaner air!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mr. Bunny

Mr. Bunny
Yesterday, as I left for work, I casually asked Jack where Mr. Bunny was.  "I haven't seen Mr. Bunny around for a few days," I said.  "Where did he go?"

When I came home from work last night - there was Mr. Bunny sitting in my comfy chair, just waiting for me.
Jack and Mr. Bunny playing
 Now, you can't tell me that was just a coincidence! 

I have a smart little kitty!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chinese Luncheon

Every year since I've been with my company (an engineering firm in Monterey Park, California), one of our senior engineers takes the whole office to lunch.  He's Chinese, so it's always a Chinese luncheon.  There is a huge Chinese population in Monterey Park, so we have lots of places to choose from.  These, of course, are places I probably would never think to venture into on my own, where they all speak Chinese and many of the dishes are quite foreign.  So, for me, it's rather like taking a vacation to China without leaving home!

For the past couple of years, we've gone to a dim sum place, this time it was a seafood restaurant.
Ben, Jonathan and Frank
The office crew was packed into two round tables and, as you can see, everything was served from a a lazy susan in the middle.
We started with a simple chicken soup.  It probably doesn't look very tasty in this picture, but it was very good!

Danika and Sabrina perusing the menu we really didn't need
Danika and Sabrina are part of the Corporate marketing team.  I'm the L.A. office marketing team.  Yep, just me.
Frank, Barbara and Ulises
Here's the other corner of our table.  Barbara has been such a good friend.  She and Ulises are married and have two delightful little boys.

Eric's nose (sorry, Eric!), Mike, Albert, Gerardo and Edward
You can see how crowded this restaurant is!  It was a little crazy.  I didn't even manage to get pictures of everyone in our group.  But I did try!
Edward, Giuseppe, Steve and Doug (standing)
This is always such an enjoyable outing every year.  I think it's more fun to me because Doug chooses the dishes that are served and there are always a few surprises - things I've never tried before.  Most of it was delightful. (A couple of things are just not in my Western idea of tasty menu items - but just a couple.) I particularly love the vegetables.  There was an eggplant dish in gravy that was really yummy, and perfectly steamed asparagus, spicy chicken, melt in your mouth scallops, delicately seasoned fish fillets and lots of other delights. 

I have such wonderful coworkers.  I count that as one of my great blessings in life.  It's fun to have a lunch with them like this.  Thanks, Doug!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Couple of Hunks

Parker and Malan Lai
The paparazzi caught up with these handsome fellows at the Baptism on Sunday night.  Parker was good at smiling for the camera! 

The Lais are another great family in my ward.

To me, there is nothing more wonderful than seeing a good Dad in action.  I mean, being a father must be important.  God asks us to call Him "Heavenly Father", doesn't He?  Out of all the titles He can claim, that is the biggy.  All you Dads out there, take a moment to ponder that! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

4 Birthdays & a BBQ

Amazingly, I have two girlfriends with July 6th birthdays, so I was forced to celebrate twice (yes, huge hardship!) last week.  First, Elaine and I enjoyed a birthday cookie with fruit and ice cream.

I promised I wouldn't take her picture, but I managed to get 3 fingers (Yikes, I didn't see her right hand!  Make that 7 fingers) and a thumb in there - ha!  They're cute, aren't they?

Then the next day, Rose and I enjoyed a quiet dinner and lots of talk.  I love my friend Rose.  She's a good lady.

Then as if that wasn't enough, there was the big party with the gang for Elaine, plus Abbie and Jackie.  They celebrated their birthdays with masses of presents and cards.  It was mayhem, I tell you!  Almost too much fun for one week.


Maura was a good sport, and carried Barbara - well the iPad that was Barb - around a good part of the evening.  Barbara was participating in this shindig from Virginia via Skype.  God Bless Skype.

Hi Barb! It's great that you can virtually attend our functions.  (Hi Maura, you look great in pink!)

The surprise of the evening was a superb grilled dinner by our personal chef, master barbequer Mark.
A good time was had by all.  Happy Birthday everyone!

Vacationing with the Morfs

My brother's kids all call their Haneberg grandparents by the Swedish Morfar (literally mother's father) and Mormor (mother's mother).  Some time along the way, they became the Morfs, and their car is, of course, the Morf-mobile.  I'm glad the kids have had this wonderful association with the Morfs throughout their lives.  This includes the yearly trip to the Pacific Northwest.

I know where I'd like to be right about now!  (See below!)

Andrew, Christian, Uncle Eric, Kirsti and Morfar

Christian and the beautiful Haneberg women, Kirsti, Britt and Anna
The Morfs celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary while all the kids were together.  I wish I could have been there.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

No More Strangers

I got to attend a baptism over at the Stake Center tonight for a young woman named Lilia.  It was a lovely experience.  If you really want to feel of Heavenly Father's Spirit, attend a baptism.
Elder Stout and Lilia take care of the paperwork while Bishop Rodriguez looks on
Elder Smith, Lilia and Elder Stout

Many of our ward members were there.  Here are Elder Ibey and Sister Little.  Brother Little is in the background
Brother Ibey is our ward mission leader.  I really love him.  He's so kind and humble.  He makes our Gospel Principles Sunday School class so much fun.  I get a kick out of his enthusiasm.  He conducted the meeting.
Brother Randall, Sister Balke and Sister Egan with mscellanous Elders in the background
Sister Balke gave a lovely talk on baptism, and Sister Rodriguez gave a very personal and meaningful talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Here is our newest ward member with Bishop and Sister Rodriguez:
Sister Rodriguez, Sister Castro, and Bishop Rodriguez
Welcome to the Ward!

The Apostle Paul said it best:

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners,
but fellow citizens with the saints,
and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22