Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Need A Little Christmas Now!

My Office Window After the Christmas Spirit Grabbed Me
You know that song from "Mame"?  "Haul out the holly, put up the tree before my spirit falls again!" And the refrain, "We need a little Christmas right this very minute!"

That's how I felt on the day before Thanksgiving. It was the last work day before the holiday and I couldn't bear the thought of coming back to work after a 4-day weekend to a bleak and bare office.  In a frenzy of good cheer, I hung up all the Scandinavian Christmas posters I'd purchased from Ingebretsens on-line in a weak moment following my birthday last month.
The Poster on the Door Proclaims Christmas is Here... in Swedish!
Suddenly the office was filled with Nisser, Tomter and good old Norwegian Glaede.  For you English speakers, that's just a few Christmas Elves and some Holiday Joy.

As I stopped by the market on way my home two nights later, I saw that I wasn't premature in my outburst of holiday cheer.  The local stores were hopping on the holiday band-wagon.

I used to be upset that we barely got to celebrate Thanksgiving before Christmas related stuff appeared everywhere.

This year I don't really mind.

Bring it on.
My Local Ralphs Market the day after Thanksgiving

So, Noel everybody.  Season's Greetings.  Be of good cheer. 

The Christmas Season is here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Little is Never Enough Time

Hey!  Wake up! Time to go! Your Missionary Teddy, Elder Bear is already up!
All good things must come to an end.  I had the best time with my family while they were here for a visit.  I've been able to enjoy the time we spent together all over again through my blog posts over the past few weeks, so thanks, dear Readers, for indulging me!  I'm so glad Jay, Kirsti, Anders and Christian came for a visit.  It was too brief, but it brought me such happiness!

It was hard to say good-bye.

Our sleepy family getting breakfast at IHOP
  We were all pretty tired that last morning.  Having a nice breakfast seemed to perk everyone up.
Me and my terrific bro
I am so lucky to have a brother like Jay.  Life would have been a lot harder if it weren't for him.  He has always been my rock - through the last few years especially.
Photo courtesy J. Evensen
Like the song says:
I have a family here on earth
They are so good to me
I want to share my life with them
Through all eternity.
Families can be together forever
Through Heavenly Father's Plan.
I always want to be with my own family
And the Lord has shown me how I can!
Thank heavens (Literally!) for that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in China

Thanksgiving Menu
The Chinese branch of the family had an unusual Thanksgiving experience.  Daniel commented it reminded him of "A Christmas Story", as they went to an American Style restaurant in Shenyang for the holiday.  (But as it was not Christmas, they didn't get the "Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra Ra-ra-ra-ra".)

Turkeys were available through the Embassy, but would have been too big for their little family.
 Dinner started with bread...
.. followed by a little appetizer of shrimp and asparagus.
 And then there were salads..

Escargot soup anyone?
Our beautiful Holly got an escargot and mushroom soup, which she said tasted much like clam chowder.
Russian Borscht
According to Daniel, "Nothing says old-fashioned American Thanksgiving more than a good Russian Borscht."  Thanks, wise guy!

A sorbet to "cleanse the palate"

Fred enjoyed the popcorn
 There was free popcorn for the little kids.
Livia was impressed by the balloon
 There were also bright balloons for the kids.  I think that's a nice touch!
Thumbs up on the entree
 Holly chose a fish and steak entree, which she enjoyed, according to Daniel.
Livia had a more basic Thanksgiving meal!

It was pork chops for Daniel
I think it looks like the Chinese branch of our family had a great Thanksgiving feast!  Thanks to Daniel for taking such great pictures.  I feel like I was there.

Hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Christian at the pumpkin patch.  "All the earth is God's own field."

For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet.... Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?
~Rebecca Harding Davis

This Thanksgiving, I just had to take a moment to say how thankful I am for my blessings.

I'm so grateful for my wonderful family, who show me in so many ways, large and small, their love for me. 

I'm thankful for kind and loving friends.  I have so many good people in my life.  Bless you all for all that you do to brighten my otherwise lonely life.

I'm thankful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that blesses my life every day.  I don't know what I would do without that blessing.  How wonderful that the priesthood has been restored to the earth, and that there is a prophet of God once more.  I am thankful for the guidance and comfort that comes from that knowledge.  What a tremendous blessing that is.  I'm privileged to associate with the Saints.  (Go Pickering Ward!)

Thanks to all you who take the time to read my musings - I appreciate your comments!  Blogging has added such fun to my life.  I love you all.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

His Eye is On the Sparrow

Dining al fresco with the sparrows
I recently had lunch at a restaurant called Baja Fresh, smack dab in the middle of the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles.  There was a huge flock of sparrows lunching there, too.  My pictures don't do justice to how many birds were there, as I had already dispersed many of them just by sitting down.

There were hundreds. 


Hundreds of little cute, fat sparrows, just hoping for a tiny tidbit of a taco or burrito or rice from an unsuspecting diner.
Fat and Happy
They all looked remarkably well fed.
Christian and the birds
My Norwegian grandfather, Einar, loved sparrows.  He was always rooting for the underdog.  (Can you call a bird a dog?  Is that mixing metaphors? Maybe in this instance it's okay!)

He would carefully cut old bread into small cubes and take them to the park to feed the birds.  He would chuckle when the tiny sparrows would flit in and out, stealing the bread from the larger birds and ducks.
He would have loved the sight of all these happy little sparrows living large.

May you also live large this holiday weekend, no matter what your circumstances may be.  Remember that God, whose eye is even on the sparrow, is especially mindful of you, His child.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time to Say Good-Bye

Let's hope it's dead... the scorpion, I mean!
In spite of Elder Nils' clowning around, I know that he has been a good missionary, and has developed a great love for the people of Altamirano.
Baptizing with Authority from God
Teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is really what it's all about.  Spreading the good news - that there is a prophet of God on the earth once more!  That God is real, that His only begotten in the flesh, Jesus, is the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

I know my life is blessed because the priesthood of God, the authority to act in God's name here on earth, has been restored and is at work all over the world.  God loves all his children, and wants to bless them!  That's what missionary work is all about.
Another Baptism Day!
We recently had word that our Elder Nils has been transferred to the City of Cuautla, which is closer to Cuernavaca and Mexico City.  It was a dusty, 7-hour bus ride to get there from Altamirano.

Elder Nils has also been given a new calling: Zone Leader.  He will now be in charge of other missionaries and helping to direct their work.  It's an honor to be given this calling, especially after less than a year in the field.
The wonderful people of Altamirano, Mexico
There were many tears shed as Elder Nils left the little area he had so grown to love, but he has left behind a legacy of faith.

I'm grateful for Elder Nils and his letters. They lift and inspire ME.

How exciting to be directly involved in impacting people's lives for good!  In helping to change, lift and encourage our Heavenly Father's children, we bless their lives and our own.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Heart Leaps Up

A Welcome Home from Jack in the window
When I come home late at night, there is a little furry face at the back window waiting for me.  Since Jack usually watches the world from the front door window, which faces a pleasant courtyard, I can only assume he has heard my car pull into the garage and is watching for me as I cross the back patio.

Seeing his little sweet face in the window always warms my heart.  It's nice to know there is someone at home waiting for me, even if it's only a little cat.

Whose face warms your heart when you come home from a long day?  Don't forget to tell them you love them and appreciate them.
At home, Jack will deny he missed me at all!
Of course, as soon as I get home, it's business as usual and Jack will disavow any sentimental attachment to me at all!  He's the strong, silent type, you know.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Farm in Benxi

Daniel and Holly were recently invited out to visit a farm in Benxi, which is in the countryside not far from Shenyang, China where they live.  The farmer had black pigs.  I've never heard of black pigs before, so I thought maybe you haven't, either.  Fortunately, Daniel has provided photographic evidence of their existence.

Fred meets one of the famed black pigs of Benxi
 They're kinda cute!
The mighty Chinese black pig
I've since discovered that there are black pigs everywhere, it's just that this city girl wasn't 'in the know'.

Yummy luncheon spread at the farm
In Chinese culture, the pig is associated with fertility and virility.  To bear a child in the Year of the Pig is considered very fortunate.  A child born in this year will be happy and honest.  The next Year of the Pig begins on February 5, 2019 and runs until January 24, 2020.  I'm just telling you now so you can plan accordingly.
Everything looks pretty yummy, but not all of the dishes sound quite so yummy.  For example, even Holly refused to try eating caterpillars.  Daniel tried them and said they weren't bad.

I'm with Holly on this one!

Daniel said the black dish on the end is caterpillar cocoons. Yum.

I could not see the ducks in this picture without thinking of the book about "Ping the Little Duck on the Yangtze River".  I'm sure Benxi is nowhere near the Yangtze, but I still thought of them.  My knowledge of China is sadly lacking.  That's why I'm glad Daniel is helping to educate me.

Fred loved the ducks
 According to his dad, Fred was quite taken with the ducks and ran after them all day.  The ducks must have been thrilled.  I mean, how often do they get chased by a 2 year-old Chinese-American kid with Norwegian and Swedish ancestry?

It's as the French say, "unique au monde!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wolf Whistles

Sitting on the pier at Santa Monica, I heard wolf whistles.  I didn't assume they were for me, but you never know!

When I looked around, I saw this guy on a bicycle with 5 exotic parrots.  The parrots were doing the whistling!

He eventually parked and set up shop.  He let people hold the birds and take pictures.  It was quite entertaining.

Maybe the wolf whistles were for me.  It's comforting to think that someone out there finds me attractive.

Even if it's one of our feathered friends.  And he's probably doing it just to show off.

I'd better just stop blathering on now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On the Pier

A foggy day at the beach in Santa Monica
Sometimes, living in Southern California, you can forget what season it is.  So it was when my family was visiting.  It was easy to forget it was late October. 

It was a bright, sunny, and pleasantly warm day inland, but as we got closer to the beach, the more fog there was!  I thought it was chilly, too.  That didn't seem to stop people who had come to sight-see and enjoy the Pacific ocean.

Jay on the quai (which really doesn't rhyme, but looks like it should!)
Coming from a land-locked state, the kids really wanted to go to the ocean.  I was surprised when Christian jumped into it with all  his clothes on.  I was dressed for winter, and he didn't seem to mind the cold water!
Kirsti shopping
There were plenty of vendors and things to see on the Santa Monica pier.  I think I saw people from every corner of the world pass us by.
A rather wet Christian and his mom
 9 year-old Christian will soon tower over his petite mom.
Towards land
There were lots of other families out enjoying the day, even though you could barely see the ocean, much less romp in it without freezing!
Even socked in with fog, there were plenty of people
My family on the pier
For me, despite the chill wind, any place is heaven where my family is.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Nils with an unwelcome guest
I suppose this is a follow-up to the "Strange Critters of Altamirano" post I did a few months ago.  Being a missionary in a jungle environment is not without it's creepy crawlers.
Just some extra protein, right?
 I think Elder Dahl's mom is probably fainting right now.  If I were his mom, I would.
What the heck is this thing?
I was hoping some entomologist out there could tell us what the heck this thing is.  It looks like the Stranger From The Black Lagoon's mini-me.  Then a friend advised me it was a spider scorpion. 

In any case, I don't ever want to meet one in person.

Hope you weren't eating your breakfast when you read this post!  Sorry 'bout that!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Antique Train

Christian exits the old train at Knott's

Kirsti, Christian and Anders' knees
When my family was here, the boys did the wild rides, but we decided to do a few of the more sedate rides at Knott's together.  Here we are on their antique train.
Christian and the rest of Anders
The train doesn't go very far or very fast, but it's an interesting piece of history. 

This was one of a few trains built that did not run on steam, but kerosene.  It's now been converted to run on diesel fuel.  It also wobbles, which was an interesting sensation.

The train originally came from Colorado, which made me wonder if my grandfather, who worked for the railroads there, had ever been on it once upon a time!