Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Raymond, the California Lizard

Do you see him?  
Raymond decided the Mexican Iguana (or Geico Gekko) was getting way too much press time on this blog (see last Tuesday's post), so he was out taking a stroll in the delightful California sunshine today, and practically darted across my feet, trying to get my attention.  He managed it without much effort, zipping past me in the company parking lot as I left my office building to go to lunch.

He is a cute little guy, excuse me, Dude.  He is a cute little Dude (he is, after all, from California), and obliged me by posing very quietly next to the sidewalk.  While he was poised, frozen with fear - or was it just artful posing - in the dirt, I swear I could just hear him thinking (just like my kitty playing in his boxes and bags), "You can't see me!  You can't see me!  Seriously, there's nuthin' to see here, move along!"

I almost bought it for a minute... but then I realized he knew perfectly well I had already seen him.  I think he just wanted his picture on the internet so he could brag to his friends.  "Don't you think that photo captured my essence?  I think that lady got my good side.  You know, I'm related to Godzilla, on my mother's side. He ate Tokyo, you know.  Our family has a long history with Hollywood... do you think I'll get an agent from this?"

As far as I can tell, Raymond is a Great Basin Fence Lizard, one of the most common of Southern California lizards.  (But, hey, don't tell him that he's common!)

When I looked at him closer, I could tell he'd fairly recently lost a part of his tail. I wonder if he was just molting, or if he lost his tail in a more dramatic way?

Ready for my close-up!

Raymond, or Raymundo, to his friends, blends in nicely with the dirt next to the porch of our office building.  We're up on a hill, surrounded by trees, so all kinds of wildlife can be found wandering around, including a pair of beautiful ring-tailed hawks who have a nest on the hillside below the southwestern side of our building.  If I ever manage to capture a photo of them, I'll be thrilled!

Now that I think of them, I wonder if the hawks have tried to have Raymond for breakfast, hence the short tail?  Maybe there's a story there.

Well, whatever the reason for his short tail, it was fun seeing the little dude outside this afternoon.

Lizards eat garden pests - all the "bad" bugs that can ruin gardens - so they are a benefit to any gardener.  When I was a little girl, growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, there was a family of lizards who lived under the eaves of our house by my bedroom.

I always thought of them as good luck because of that.

So, I'm just spreading a little good luck around today: from Raymond, the little dude, through me, to you out there in cyber space.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The 30th Olympiad

 I love the Olympics.

I'm not a huge sports fan, and certainly not an athlete, but I have a special place in my heart for the Olympic games.  I watch them avidly.  And... even though I'm more partial to the winter games, which I blame on my Norwegian heritage... I am just enjoying the heck out of watching NBC's excellent coverage of the current games.  

Yes, I will admit it.  I've been pretty much glued to the TV since the Queen announced the games were open on Friday night.

Me in my Olympic shirt
I got my Olympic shirt off the NBC website last month, so I could be dressed appropriately while I watched.  (They have great service, by the way.)

Okay, I've admitted before what a total geek I am.  Now you have photographic evidence!

[Speaking of Her Majesty, long ago I played the Queen as the emcee of a Ward talent show.  I did a pretty good job, too, if I do say so myself.  I'm not sure the Queen would have approved.  But, you never know.  
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II
Pretty in Pink
I had a few people trying all night to make me break character.  I nearly had to have them executed, or at least sent to the tower in chains... it was a real challenge not to.  I don't know how the Queen herself manages to control herself sometimes... It would be such a temptation.  'You don't like my hat?  Off with your head!'...]

Luckily, as we all discovered on Friday night, she's got a pretty good sense of humor!

Daniel Craig as James Bond
The best bit of the opening ceremonies, I think (and many critics appear to agree with me), was the Queen becoming a Bond girl.  She's an incredibly good sport to have done that bit at all, even with a stunt double!

Of course, that's all everyone was talking about afterwards!  Did you see it?

I have to admit I greatly admire the Queen of England.  She's one of those women who never lets you down.  I wouldn't trade places with her for all her wealth and power.  Yet, she's taken a role in life she didn't ask for, and performed it with a keen sense of duty, and a great deal of intelligence and dedication.

I watched a show where some style "experts" talked about doing a make-over of the Queen.  I beg to differ.  For her age and position, I think she's perfectly dressed.  I shudder to think of her dressed in faddish, or youthful fashions. [Off with their heads for suggesting it!]  She looks great, and, even though I'm a patriotic American, I'll gladly sing, "God Save the Queen" with gusto and totally mean it.
It was a lot of fun to see famous faces at the games, like David Beckham, Mohammed Ali, Mrs. Obama, and of course, my favorite guy, Mitt Romney.

I love it when our American athletes enter the stadium.  I get all misty eyed over them.  Even with their Chinese uniforms and French berets (who comes up with this stuff, anyway?) I felt such pride in my country!

It was so great to see the British team, too.  They have every right to be proud of their country as well.  They're doing a great job of hosting these games.  I love Britain, too.  I count myself lucky to have had many wonderful visits there.

I have ancestors who came from Devon in England, to America, in the 1620s.  So, I can get excited about them if I want.  It's okay.  I have a gene for it.  It's here somewhere.

There is something magical about the Games.  I feel it when I see the athletes from so many nations, gathered together in peace and goodwill for a few brief summer weeks.  I feel it when a competitor, from a small, obscure country, wins a gold medal.  I can only imagine the sheer joy felt in his home country when that happens.  I feel it when I see the look of joy in a spectator's face and realize I'm seeing a competitor's mom, dad, brother or sister.  I feel it when I see the crowds of cheering spectators lining the roads, watching the bicycle racers.

The Olympics celebrate all that is good about the world we live in - and all about everything that is good in us as human beings.  It's about determination, hard work and excellence.

I get choked up when all the athletes enter the stadium with their various flags.  I think to myself, "Heavenly Father's children are so beautiful!"

Wouldn't it be lovely to keep that warm fuzzy feeling with us all the time, and not just for the Olympics?

Friday, July 27, 2012

You Can't See Me!

Wow, Mom!  You ordered some stuff on-line and got this nifty bag in the mail?  That's really cool...

Betcha can't see me.

I'm the great and invisible cat.

Pay no attention to the whiskers in the bag...

What lump on the carpet?  It's not moving!  It's NOT!

You can't see me.

Remember that.

You.  Can't.  See.  Me...

Have a great Friday and a wonderful Weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Nate Fillion and Joss Whedon entertaining fans of the TV show, Firefly
Just to show you what a geek I really am, I know exactly where I was Memorial Day weekend, 1977.  It was the weekend that the very first Star Wars film, A New Hope, premiered.  I remember, because my friends and I had seen the trailers for Star Wars and were anticipating its release with great excitement. (We sometimes forget how truly different it was from anything we'd ever seen before!) 

I remember because I was at a Star Trek convention, Westercon, in Phoenix, Arizona that weekend, with several of my close friends.  

I remember because one of the speakers that weekend was David Gerrold, the author of that immortal original Star Trek episode, "Trouble with Tribbles", and all he could talk about was having just seen Star Wars - three times!  It had only opened the day before, but that's all anyone could talk about.


I'm a geek.  And my geekiness goes WAAAAAY back.

So, this past week, my geek friends and I got together for a mini-ComicCon.  By that, I mean we got together at a friend's house and watched San Diego's famed ComicCon 2012 panel segments from YouTube on a large-screen TV.  It was nearly as fun as actually being there, without the crowds of people and endless waiting in long lines.

A couple of these friends had actually attended ComcCon.  They provided the color commentary.  

It was fun.  In fact, because I'm now old and cranky, it may have actually been more fun than really being there.  But I digress...

For those of you in the known Universe who don't know what ComicCon is, it began many years ago as a small Comic Book and, by default, Science Fiction, convention in San Diego, California.  In the intervening years, it has grown to a convention of behemoth proportions.  I think something like 120,000 people attend now [Note: I've since been told it's over 130,000!], and Hollywood has glommed onto it for their nefarious publicity purposes.

Most Comic Book and Science Fiction fans don't mind, because they're film fans, too.

Me, too.

So, of course, we thoroughly enjoyed the Firefly 10-year reunion. An estimated 10,000 fans waited patiently in line to see that panel. In spite of how fun it must have been to see Joss Whedon and the cast in person, I'm rather happy we missed that melee.  And we had a blast watching the Marvel Comics panel - complete with Robert Downey Jr doing his Tony Stark thing right out of the movies!  Those are such fun films.

One thing Elder Nils and I are going to have to do when he returns from Mexico: have a Marvel movie marathon.

Yes.  It's sad, but true.  Nils is a geek, too.  It's one of the things we share.  And it's nice to know that the fannish gene I got made it to the next generation of our family as well.

So, now you know my biggest secret.  Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone!

The Marvel Comic movies include my favorites above, among others

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

High Tech Waiting Rooms

Dr. Sanjay Gupta and another CNN Health Channel host entertain and inform
Okay, I've been to the doctor a lot more recently than I would have cared to.  However, recent changes to waiting rooms all over the Southland are making this a more interesting event.

My hospital has long had high tech entertainment in their waiting rooms.  I was surprised, however, to find it in my General Practioner's office recently.  My primary doctor has come into the 21st century, and it's both charming and alarming.

Charming, in that it helps to pass the time.  I took the above photo while waiting to see the doctor for a recent appointment.  Instead of staring at the other patients or reading a months old magazine, I was able to watch an informative piece of journalism about diabetes care which even featured recipes tips and demonstrations.

Alarming, in that you can't escape the slick video magazine even if you want to!  I don't always want to hear/see health news, particularly when it features stories that make me feel slightly uncomfortable.  Also, what good is it to show me cooking demonstrations in a waiting room?  I'm not going to be engaged enough to start taking notes, as I'm nervously waiting my turn to be poked and prodded by a medical professional.

Also alarming in that I'm obviously somehow paying for all of this technology.  My office visit HMO co-pay has recently risen to $30 a visit, which just seems exorbitant.  I feel like, between losing pay for taking time off work and the costs of seeing a physician, I can literally no longer afford to be sick!

I fear recent federal legislation will continue to drive those costs upwards for ol' middle-class me, while 83 percent of physicians surveyed say the new Affordable Health Care act makes them think about quitting!
 (See "Is your doctor going to quit because of Obamacare?", on www.jayevensen.com/opinions.html article from 7/10/12)

So, what do you think?

I guess there are no easy answers, and I do like being entertained in the waiting room.  I just hope my doctor hangs in there.  I like her.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Geico Gekko in Acapulco?

The little green house guest
(Hey!  Say that title line three times really fast!)

My nephew Nils, currently serving as an LDS missionary in the Cuernavaca, Mexico mission, found this little green creature in his apartment this past week.  And, yes, I know the picture is sideways.  The little guy just looked better from this angle.

Elder Nils claims it is a baby iguana.

As I can't see the ridge on top of his head, I'll just have to take Nils' word for it.  Personally, I think it looks like the Geico Gekko. You know who I mean - that little green guy with the British accent who sells insurance on TV.

...he's kinda cute, isn't he?  And his on-screen personality is very sweet.  I wonder if he's nice in person.

So, what do you think?  Iguana or Gekko?

You know what I think?  I think maybe the Geico Gekko has been vacationing in Mexico.  It's been known to happen.  All kinds of celebrities vacation in Acapulco, don't they?  Quick!  Call the Paparazzi!

Film at 11.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Hometown Hero

My friend and coworker, Barbara, wrote me recently to share a proud moment.  Her daughter Katy has been named one of Torrance, California's Home Town Heroes as part of that Southern California city's Centennial Celebration!  What an honor.

All of Barbara's children are currently serving in the military, and we often get requests to pray for them when they are being sent into difficult or dangerous situations.  I'm always happy to do that.  They are all good kids, and great soldiers.  I appreciate their sacrifice and service to our country.  

I also appreciate their Mom's sacrifice and service to our country.  It's not easy having your kids so often in harm's way.

As far as Katy goes, her mom claims she has always said, "Whatever my brothers can do, I can do better, cleaner and faster!"  Her motto is, "I am woman, hear me ROARRRRRR!"

This is perhaps not surprising from a little girl who has always had a poster of Rosie the Riveter in her room while growing up.

At 21, Katy is a Petty Officer Navy Seabee.  She has been in the Navy for 4 years and already has her mechanical engineering degree.  She hopes to also have her civil engineering degree, and maybe more, by the time she's through.  

She's currently working on repairing old machinery for the Navy. Her mom says, "her specialty is old engines.  She's a proud grease monkey, just like her father.  You can always find her sleeping on top of her babies (the huge ship engines) when they are underway."

Good going, Katy!

Petty Officer Katy leading her Division
I am woman, hear me ROARRRRR!
When she's not defending our country, Katy loves to hang out with family and friends.  She is a marvelous cook, who enjoys barbecue, old fashioned Cuban food and a nice Crème brûlée for dessert (Yum!  Me too!).  A graduate of West High School, Katy enjoys playing board games, and visiting historical locations.  She's also got a soft heart for animals.  From what I hear, she would take in every stray she sees, if she could.  

Her mom proudly states, "The women in our family always say they're better than Martha Stewart!  We can cook, clean, do laundry, bear a child and fight for our country!"

I just have to say, "Wow."

Katy's banner is currently flying high on the northeast corner of Madrona and Torrance Boulevard - one of Torrance's busiest streets.

We are so proud of her, and all our Home Town heroes, wherever they may be.  God bless you all.

Long May it Wave

Friday, July 20, 2012

Brotherly Love

I thought you might enjoy seeing Jack's brothers, the terrible twosome, again.  They are still up to their usual shenanigans and just as funny as ever. If you've ever had a sibling, perhaps you'll find these scenes familiar.

Who hasn't fought over the best seat in the living room?

[I remember it as "Dad!  Dad!  He's touching me!" and its corollary:  "I'm not touching you!  I'm not touching you!"]

Or ganged up on Mom and/or Dad to bend them to your will?
What Dad sees first thing in the morning...

Have a terrific Friday and a great weekend!

Photos by MBT

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Costa Azul District

The Missionaries of the Costa Azul District of the Cuernavaca, Mexico Mission

The week of March 9th, 2012, an announcement was made of the calling of 110 new mission presidents in the Church throughout the world.  (110!  Wow.)  They began their service this month (July, 2012).

These included 9 new presidents in the Mexico area, including my nephew Nils’ mission, the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission.

Here in the Cuernavaca Mission, President Alin Spannaus, whom Nils had really grown to love, was replaced by Bruce C. Kusch.  President Kusch has already made some changes.  

Above you can see the missionaries of the “resized” Costa Azul district.  President Kusch and his lovely wife are seated in the center, with Elder Parra and Elder Nils on either side of them.  They look like a handsome bunch of kids, don't they?

[And Elder Nils' recent post is right.  He is ridiculously tanned.  Not bad for an American kid of Scandinavian descent!]

President Kusch and his wife look like a very nice couple.  It's exciting to see the missionary work keep moving forward.

Thanks for sending pictures, Elder Nils!  Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Warm July Day

I saw a tee-shirt in a catalog recently with the above quote on it.  I may have to order one.  It just hit a chord with me.  Maybe it's just that an awful lot of my friends have birthdays this month.  It has put me in a reflective mood.

I mean, my friends sure are getting older.  I don't know when I started hanging out with such a pack of older women.  It sort of crept up on us, too.

The other day, lounging about in a friend's Jacuzzi, the conversation drifted.  We found ourselves comparing our various medications, when it suddenly hit us  - good grief, we're reduced to this -  we're discussing our medications!

And then came the next thought - how dang old we all are these days..

Not my friend's Jacuzzi, but close enough

As always, that thought came as a surprise - because inside we're really only 29... still.


Although that mileage varies.  My mother used to protest that she was only 18 on the inside.  I think she may have had something there.

As I drove in to work this morning, there was a song on the radio that went something like:

You and I
We will dance 'til we die
We'll be young forever!

I chuckled to myself and thought: I remember that feeling.  Vaguely.

But, I have to add, as long as you are able to hang out in a Jacuzzi and have friends to share the moment with, life is still pretty good.

Hold that thought.

And Happy Birthday to the whole dang bunch of you July babies!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bones at the Mall

Fred and the dinosaur encounter
When you are two years old, the world still has lots of surprises.  Actually, when you are my age, there are still a few surprise around... but that's a post for another day.

Fred recently met a dinosaur for the first time. And in keeping with our firmly held pro-dinosaur tradition on this blog, I had to post photos of the encounter.

He thought the dinosaur was pretty cool!

I'll bet it could swallow Fred in about two bites if it really wanted to.

Providing, of course, if it was real.

I suppose that would help.  (And be very distressing!)
Doesn't look like that little fence will do much to contain the creature!
You don't often see dinosaurs at the mall.

Perhaps that's a good thing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Miss Livia Goes Shopping

Livia is a typical girl.  She likes PINK.
Livia, age one, is well on her way to a lucrative modeling career.  She is an expert shopper and is already familiar and comfortable with the camera.

That's half the battle, right?

Shenyang is a big city.  There is a lot of shopping in the big city!
Miss Livia enjoys shopping.  The only thing stopping her, appears to be that walking is still fairly new to her.

When shopping, this budding fashionista is only hampered by her tiny legs
 It's a shame the displays are so high up!  But that doesn't seem to deter our little shopper.

It doesn't stop her from checking out the merchandise... 
Hmmm.  The price is right, but the fabric isn't quite what I'd hoped.  ...Oh, and it might be a little too big.  Just a little.

Do I look fat in this?  Tell me the truth?  
 No woman is entirely happy in front of a mirror.  Even a tiny one.

Modeling for Daddy
 But part of the joy of shopping is modeling our purchases for our family and friends!

On the catwalk...
 Don't I look great?  Shopping really is fun!

A new summer dress for Livia
Livia decides to go for a demure, high fashion model look here.  This blue flowered sleeveless number is a cool look for summer.

Posing with mommy with my new dress
 But when you know you look good, you can't help enjoying it!

Stopping to smell the roses at the mall
 It's always important to look for accessories while shopping.  How about some fresh flowers?

Posing for the camera - fluff up those skirts!
An 'on location shoot' at the Fushun Ocean Park.  Here Miss Livia sports a flowered pink ensemble topped with a pale pink shrug boasting a ribbon closure and tiny ruched sleeves.

Livia is famous.  She gets attention wherever she goes.
The above picture was taken at a Shenyang Mall toy store.  The employees all gather around Livia when she comes.  They like to play with her.

Being a fashion icon is hard work, but our super model Livia keeps her cheerful attitude when the cameras are rolling

Yes, Livia is an expert shopper.  We'll soon see her on the pages of Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle Magazines.  Especially when her mommy can't find the booster seat...

Our sleepy little shopper
Even the most experienced shopper gets tired.  It's been a long day at the mall!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Friday the 13th!

Emily Anne
As it is Friday the 13th, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on a little black cat who once crossed my path. Her name was Emily, and she brought me such joy for nearly 20 years.
My Emily made me forever associate Friday the 13ths with good things.  I would always tell her it was "her special day".

"Meorfff", she would answer, agreeing with me.

So, have a lovely good luck day today, wherever you are!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Acapulco Elders

Elder Nils and Elder Parra
"He's big," was one of the first things Elder Nils wrote about his new companion in the Cuernavaca, Mexico mission.  "And he plays basketball."

This is Elder Nils' first ever native Mexican companion, Elder Parra.  He was so thrilled, not just to have a native companion, but one who is, according to him, "the most hard-working Elder in the mission".

That's saying a lot.

Because all of Nils' companions have been good guys and hard workers.

Playing in the sand on P-Day
According to our man in the field, the work is moving right along in Acapulco.  They had a great week, and Nils mentions that they have many baptisms lined up for this coming week.  For one thing, he's thrilled with all the families they are teaching and with their humility and willingness to read the Book of Mormon and attend church.

It made me think about my own life, and how willing I am to do things to further the work of the Lord in the world.  How humble am I?  How much do I really trust in God?  How willing am I to read the scriptures daily and attend church regularly?

I'm always so happy to hear from Elder Nils each Monday.  He has an unfailing cheerfulness and a great commitment to the work of the Lord among the people of Mexico.

If the above pictures from Preparation Day are any indication, I think the same can be said for Elder Parra.