Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Quick Trip to Washington, D.C.

Daniel and some All-American Pizza

My nephew Daniel loves pizza.  He has always loved pizza.  

It's no wonder that, when given the opportunity for a quick business trip from his post in China to Washington, D.C., he would be sure to get a pizza fix!  

We, The PIzza
His sister is now living in D.C. with her husband, so she joined him at the Pentagon City Mall food court for a little pizza indulgence.

Looks yummy!

Okay, I'm hungry now!
Daniel's sister, my lovely niece Linnea
I had no idea there was a huge shopping mall underneath Washington, D.C.  If there was a holocaust, we could all live there for months... hey, maybe that's the idea!

The food court at the Pentagon City Mall

The D.C. Metro

Somebody's idea of a political statement
As I've mentioned in these pages before, the girls in our family are really into the American Girl dolls.  So, it's no wonder when Daniel's wife, Holly, asked that he be sure to visit the AG store in D.C., his sister Linnea was happy to oblige!

She made sure he got there.  Apparently, these dolls are a father's worst nightmare!

Just kidding.


I think Daniel is a good daddy to visit this store for his little girl.  Don't you?

Daniel didn't have much time to spend doing fun things.  He suffered from jet lag the entire time he was here in the States, and then it was time to return to China.

I'm glad he was able to fit in the most important stuff - like visiting with his sister, eating pizza, and shopping for his sweet girls back home.

You have to have priorities in life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Celebrating Creativity

Amy's marvelous watercolor
 - the boy in the middle grew up to be her husband
Last Thursday night, our Pickering Ward Relief Society had a lovely evening showcasing some real talented ladies in our congregation.  I had been looking forward to this evening ever since I heard it advertised.  However, as often happens, I got tied up at work and barely made the last 10 minutes.

Still, I was able to see the displays and talk to people, and take lots of pictures which worked out great.

We have some wonderful talents among the sisters in our Ward (congregation)!
Ashleigh gave a presentation on photography

The Force is strong with this one!

I love this little boy - the light saber is bigger than he is, and  the beard just makes this picture even better!

The young Jedi warriors using their powers for good
My photos of Ashleigh's photos - that sounds strange! - don't do them justice at all.  They were beautiful.

Our Relief Society President, Laurel (center), her daughter Jessica (holding grandson Noah) , and Relief Society Counselor Janette (right)

Jessica's children's book illustration 
I had no idea that Jessica painted.  Her delightful primitifs were such fun to see. They have actually been published in her brother's children's book.

Our Relief Society
I know it doesn't seem like a huge turn-out for this event, but we have a small ward, and a tiny Relief Society, so it's actually not bad!  We have a couple of other artists in the Ward, who weren't featured in this evening's program, including Deonne (in the white sweater).  Caroline's husband Carlos also is a talented artist.  (Caroline is the blonde in the middle of the row.)

Amy's watercolor work in progress
I've always admired people who can do watercolors.  I've always dabbled in acrylics because I'm a mess when I paint, and invariably end up with it all over me.  I also seem especially to make a mess of watercolors.  I get the paper too wet, the paint colors get muddy - again, I'm a mess.  So, when I see pristine work such as this, it really delights my eye.

I'm a huge fan of Amy's work (see the first piece of this post).  I think she needs to do more! I'm so thrilled to see her working on this new piece (above).

I understand Amy did a presentation on how to work with watercolors before I arrived, which I would have loved to have attended.

I did catch a bit of Ashleigh's presentation on photography, though.  I love her photos of her boys.  I also love these photos of the babies.
We learned the tricks of how to take these kind of pictures
 without hurting the newborn!
What a fun evening.  The theme of the program was from Timothy:  Neglect Not the Gift That Is In Thee.  Not a bad thing to remember.  Everyone has gifts and talents that enrich our lives and make the world brighter.

Perhaps "Neglect Not the Gift That Is In Thee" is a good idea for a goal this year.

What do you think?

What gifts have you been given by our Heavenly Father?  How might the further expression of that gift or gifts make your life happier and more fulfilled?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dillon's Irish Pub

Stars on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame" at Hollywood and Vine

One of the joys of living in Southern California is being able to visit Hollywood whenever you feel like dodging a lot of traffic.

This past Saturday I stopped by Dillon's Irish Pub, right on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, for a very fine lunch with a friend.

Dillon's looks like it pretty much stepped right out of the 'old world'.  It's an Irish Pub, for sure, but it's also a sports bar, and people in the back room were watching the soccer match and being very enthusiastic about their team.  Our lunch was punctuated by lots of "oohs" and "Aahs" and loud yells.  It was actually rather funny.

The food was great. I had a seared Mahi-Mahi that was truly yummy.  I noticed there were a few Irish staples on the menu - like corned beef and cabbage.  Oh, and the digital clock on the wall was counting down to St. Patrick's Day!

 The weather was a perfect sunny California day.

I love L.A.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fred loves Fish

Fred the underwater explorer
On a recent trip to an Aquarium, my great-nephew Fred was mesmerized by the fish in a bright display.  Evidently he really likes fish and thinks they are cool to watch.

I supposed most of us feel that way.  They are cool to watch.

Don't grab too much
Don't throw them!

I've never warmed up to having a pet you can't, well, pet.  I enjoy eating fish too much to seriously consider them in the true pet category.   Looks like the kids are having fun, but still.

You can't hug a fish.

Or kiss one...

Well, you could, but euwwwww....

You also can't brush them, or cuddle with them.

Or dress them up in funny clothes.

Cute, but non-cuddly, little fishies

My nephew Daniel writes:
When you put your hands in this slot, small fish come and bite your fingers.  It feels like they are kissing your hand.
Okay, so maybe they do kiss... but I'm rather suspicious that they are actually trying to eat you!

I think Fred liked the fish anyway.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Very Cool Miss Livia

Hey, who's that behind those Foster Grants?
Life has been very good to our little Americans in China.  Here is my nephew Daniel's youngest, Livia, modeling for us.  Our stylish Miss Livia has some very cool sunglasses, I see. 

She is still quite the fashionista!

I can see she is very busy growing and growing.

That's what little kids do best.

Working the Play Doh!
 Livia likes playing with her friends, and she has quite a few of them.
Japanese Mell Chan dolls
My nephew says these Mell Chan dolls are all the rage with the little girls. They can do all kinds of things, however, the instructions for them are all in Japanese!  

Living in Asia makes being a parent a little more exciting, I suppose.

I told Daniel he just needs to learn Japanese before Livia grows up!  (He already speaks German, Mandarin Chinese, and Korean, so it's not an impossible request.)

Livia with her friends very busy playing!
I think kids play pretty much the same way all over the world.  That gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I can't wait to see Livia and her big brother when they come visit this summer!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sohlberg, A Norwegian Artist

A Flower Field Up North by Harald Sohlberg
I recently visited the Norwegian National Gallery of Art's website and was pleased to find one of my favorite artist's works posted on their digital museum.  The National Gallery is slated for a big move in the near future as a new home for their exhibits is being built down by the old western train station, not far from the town hall (Rådhuset) in the Oslo harbor area.  Currently it is housed in an ancient building close to the base of the hill whereon sits the King's Palace, about a block off Karl Johannsgate.

(All the photos of these Harald Sohlberg paintings were taken from the museum's website.)

I have a couple of favorite Norwegian artists, and Harald Sohlberg is one of them.  His works are just marvelous to me, rich in colors and so loving in their depiction of Norway, a land that I, too, love.

Summer Night
If you are ever in Oslo, you will enjoy a visit to Nasjonalgalleriet, as the National Gallery is called.  My grandfather used to take me with him on visits there when I was just a little girl.

His favorites were all the romantic movement artists from the middle 1800s. (I don't think he cared for the neo-Romantic movement from the turn of the last century, of which Sohlberg's work is illustrative, quite as much!) Grandfather's sister Elida was married to an artist, and Grandfather knew many of them personally.  He loved art, and enjoyed sharing this love with me.

Night Glow
Even at 4 years old, the museum became one of my all-time favorite places to hang out.  They have a wonderful collection.

A Winter night in Rondane
The first time I saw the above painting, titled Vinternatt i Rondane, it knocked my socks off.  It was hidden away in a small room up on the third floor of the National Gallery, and took up nearly the entire wall.  The colors were so vibrant, I fell in love with it immediately.  That was my first experience with Harald Sohlberg's work, and I personally felt it would have been better showcased in a bigger room.  I hope it will have that chance in the new facility.

I don't know much about Harald Oskar Sohlberg (1869-1935) himself.  In his self-portrait he looks like an intense, and handsome, young man.

I try to go visit Sohlberg's works whenever I'm in Oslo.

Harald's self portrait 1896
When was the last time you visited an art museum?  What kind of art moves you?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Visit to Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls
"This is the most beautiful expression of God's Glory I have ever seen" - Desiree
I love my friends.

I especially love when my friends go to beautiful and fun places and send me the photos!  My friend Desiree recently took a trip to Multnomah Falls.  The falls are not far  - a 10 minute drive! - from where Desiree lives in the state of Oregon (USA).

She says it's been a fairly mild winter for her so far.  There hasn't been much snow at the lower elevations and they've only had one short freeze.  Right now the weather is in the 40s and 50s (F).

Even though they haven't had much winter this year, the waterfalls are running at full capacity due to all the rain they've had. "That's how the Cascade Mountains got their name", she adds. Yes. It's from the cascades of water.

Multnomah Falls is called "The grandaddy" of the 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.  Only three waterfalls in the United States are higher than its 620 feet.  There is an upper pool which cascades into the lower falls you can see below and to the right.

There is a trail that zigzags to the top of the falls from the Multnomah Lodge, and a beautiful footbridge in the middle of the gorge so you can get up close to the roaring water and feel the mist on your face!

Multnomah Lodge
Multnomah Lodge is owned and operated by the US Forest Service.  It was built in 1925 and is a very popular recreation site, drawing large crowds in the summer.

You can just see the magnificent Multnomah Falls behind the lodge.

Another Cascade near Multnomah Falls
This cascading creek is near Multnomah Falls along a scenic highway.  It's not far from Angel's Crest Falls and trail.
A Trumpeter Swan
This is a Trumpeter Swan.  They come to Multnomah for the winter and return north in the spring.  Desiree came across the family in the pool (below) and couldn't get any closer for fear of spooking them.
Trumpeter Swan family near Rooster Rock and Multnomah Falls
This pool of water is at the foot of Rooster Rock, one of the Columbia River Gorge volcanic rock outcrops that cascades with water all winter.

The adult Trumpeter Swan is all white with an upright posture and straight neck.  These swans are the largest species of waterfowl.

Rooster Rock
 Rooster Rock is a naturally occurring basalt obelisk.  The monolith was mentioned by the explorers Lewis and Clark.  The original Chinook name for the column was rather colorful, so the name was later modified so as to not offend the public.

If you're really interested, you can look it up yourself.

Rooster Rock Monolith was noted by explorers Lewis and Clark
 Rooster Rock State Park is located east of Corbett, Oregon.

The Splendor of God's Creation
Desiree writes:
I remember when I was in high school my mother bought a calendar from the Sierra Club and there was a photo very similar to this (above).  I was always an adventurer and I wanted to get out and see the natural beauty of America.  When I first came to Oregon in 1978 as a young Forestry intern, my boss brought me to Multnomah Falls - and all of the vegetation was just like the Sierra Club calendar photos.  It was a dream come true.
Thanks, Desiree, for sharing a bit of this beautiful corner of the world with us!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy President's Day!

President Abraham Lincoln and President George Washington
Yesterday was President's Day holiday here in the United States.  When I was a kid, we'd get Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 12th, AND George Washington's birthday, February 22nd, off school.  We'd sing little songs about them, like:
Washington and Lincoln,
You were both kind and true.
Today we sing your praises and we honor you!
Or this one (my favorite!):
When Washington was president a long, long time ago
He dressed so very funny, t'would make you laugh, "ho-ho!"
His hair was white and tied with bows
And he wore buckles on his toes
His pants were up around his knees
His hat three-cornered, if you please
When Lincoln was our president a long, long time ago
He dressed so very funny, t'would make you laugh, "ho-ho!"
His beard was long and black as night
It covered up his chin all right
His coat was down around his knees
His hat a stove-pipe, if you please
I think that getting two days off school like that was a pretty good deal back in the day.  Especially in (to quote Gilbert and Sullivan) "such a beastly month as February!".

Now, because we seem to need more 3-day weekends, we've got one Monday holiday, named "President's Day" to honor them - and pretty much all our former presidents, too, apparently, right in between February 12th and 22nd.

Not that everyone had the day off yesterday, as I soon found out when I tried to find someone to play with me! it was a tough job, but I managed to do some fun things anyway.

Long story short, I totally enjoyed my day off work yesterday, and had a truly wonderful weekend.  In fact, I was so busy having fun that I totally forgot to post a blog yesterday.  (Oops!)

Not a bad way to celebrate!

Friday, February 15, 2013

DMZ Water

Water... Cool, Clear Water...

Step right up, folks!  Get your water fresh from the Korean Demilitarized Zone!

You read that correctly.  It's straight from the demilitarized zone.  Not exactly what I dream of when I want  a refreshing drink of water!

"Yes," Daniel writes.  "This is real."

Some marketing person thought this up one day.  And got paid for it.  Holy cow.  Of course, people are buying it! I mean, my nephew did!

I'm not sure I'd drink it... how do you feel about that?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Whoever Finds This, I Love You


There is an old song by Mac Davis that I feel the need to share today.
It goes like this:

On a quiet street in the city a little old man walks along.
Shuffling through the Autumn afternoon.
And the Autumn leaves reminded him another summer's come and gone.
He had a long, lonely night ahead waitin' for June.

Then among the leaves near an orphan's home a piece of paper caught his eye,

And he stooped to pick it up with trembling hands.
And as he read the childish writing, the old man began to cry,
'Cause the words burned inside him like a flame.

"Whoever finds this, I love you!"

"Whoever finds this, I need you!"
"I ain't even got no one to talk to!"
"So, Whoever finds this, I love you!"

The old man's eyes searched the orphan's home,

And came to rest upon a child with her nose pressed up against the window pane.
And the old man knew he'd found a friend, at last,
So he waved at her and smiled.
And they both knew they'd spend the winter laughing at the rain.

And they did spend the summer laughing at the rain,

Talking through the fence,
Exchanging little gifts they'd made for each other.
The old man would carve toys for the little girl,
And she would draw pictures for him of beautiful ladies surrounded by green trees and sunshine,
And they laughed alot.

But then on the first day of June,

The little girl ran to the fence to show the man a picture she had drawn,
But he wasn't there!

And somehow, the little girl knew he wasn't coming back.

So she went back to her little room,
Took out a crayola and a piece of paper, and wrote:

"Whoever finds this, I love you!"

"Whoever finds this, I need you!"
"I don't even have no one to talk to."
"So, whoever finds this, I love you!"

Today is a good day to tell the ones you love that you love them!

I hope you have a delightful day, wherever you are.  Whatever your relationship status may be at the moment, know that you are loved.

Happy Valentine's Day!