Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scary Monsters on the Rise - Part Trois!

My Jack's little sister, Lucky, as a kitten
Halloween is that time of year when sweet little benign kittens suddenly become vampire beasts with attitude! Take Jack's little sister, for example.  Who would have thought she'd grow up to be such a little minx?

Miss Lucky strutting her Vampire Costume
BEWARE, all you high fashion models out there!  Miss Lucky the Vampire is coming for you!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scary Monsters on the Rise - Part Deux

Miles!  You are SCARY!
Have you become a scary vampire, flying through the air?
Save us from the scary Halloween Miles monster!

Um, No.  Just yawning.


False Alarm.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scary Monsters on the Rise!

Mild Mannered Miss Holly Berry
It's almost Halloween!  What are you going to dress as?  My friend Holly decided to go with a chic, avante garde bunny ear look.

Holly posing for the camera
I think she looks quite stunning in pink.

Thank you, Holly, for giving us a glimpse of your Halloween costume!  It's hooowwwwlingly good!

Holly's sister, the cat Cassie, is still trying to decide what she wants to dress up as.

Is Cassie just thinking, or is that a Cassie Monster arising?!
If this photo is any indication, I think Cassie looks pretty scary without dressing up!


Monday, October 28, 2013

October is My Favorite Month

Before it's totally gone I have to go on record as saying that October is my favorite month.  When I received the above photograph from my Oregon-based friend Desiree, I knew I had to just do one post in praise of the month of October!  It is a beautiful month, and (sadly) it will be gone in just a few days.

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,

And turn your eyes around,

Where waving woods and waters wild

Do hymn an autumn sound.

The summer sun is faint on them —

The summer flowers depart —

Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,

Except your musing heart.

 - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Friday, October 25, 2013

Archie and the Pineapple

Archie pretending he's a guest star on Psych
This is my friend Archie the cat.  Archie lives in North Hills with his two humans, a couple of doggies, and many (many!) kitty siblings.

Archie just wants to cross your path this Friday to remind you that Halloween is coming!  He's trying to go Hawaiian in this photo, with a pineapple that's almost bigger than he is.

Pineapples are a symbol of hospitality and good will.  So, perhaps he's just being his charming, welcoming self.

Or perhaps he's trying out an idea for a Halloween costume.

Archie is a good kitty.  Black cats can be very hard to photograph, but he looks devilishly handsome in this photo, don't you think?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Visiting Ireland: Glencar Waterfall

Idyllic Ireland
My friend Lisa is quite the world traveler.  However, her heart belongs to Ireland, and her last couple of overseas trips have been to that emerald isle. She has graciously consented to share her ramblings with us in this picturesque corner of the world.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much I as did when I first saw them!

Mom armed for picture taking

I think I'll just keep quiet and let you enjoy the beauty of this place...

The famous Irish poet, W.B. Yeats often visited this waterfall when he was young.  He mentions it in a poem he wrote about the Irish folklore associated with fairies and changelings called "The Stolen Child".  Here is an excerpt:

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.

Okay, that lamp post just reminds me of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!  All we need is a faun.

I hope you have enjoyed this peaceful walk to the Glencar waterfall.

Stay tuned for more posts on beautiful Ireland!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Changing of the Guard

Högvakten protecting the palace
My brother tells a merry tale about trying to see the changing of the guard at Stockholm's Tre Kronor palace.  Traffic was miserable, and parking non-existent in the old town area of the city.

He finally had to let the kids out of the car to see the guards just so they could have the experience, and park many blocks away - barely making it back on time to see the end of the ceremony.

Usually saying the  'changing of the guard' evokes images of the red coats and tall hats of the Queen of England's Buckingham Palace Coldstream guards.  In Sweden the palace is guarded by a royal guard comprised of members of the Swedish Armed Forces called the Högvakten.

The Royal Palace, or Kungliga Slottet, in Stockholm, Sweden is the official residence of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.  It is a major royal palace.

The actual residence of the King and Queen is at a palace named Drottningholm.  

Don't you wish you could say that?  Yes, this place that I live in, that's just my "official" residence.  My actual home is a castle...

The Stockholm Palace is located on an island in the old town, or Gamla Stan part of Stockholm.  It was originally called "Tre Kronor" or 3 crowns, because of its towers.  Although the towers all burned down in a terrific fire in the 1600s, and the 'new' building doesn't have towers at all, the name stuck.

The Royal Palace in Stockholm from the neighboring church
There has been a royal palace or fortress here at this site since the 13th century.  The original fortress was built to defend lake Mälaren.  
The Royal Palace seen from behind
This palace has 1,430 rooms, 660 with windows, and is one of the largest royal palaces in the world still in use for its original purpose.

The Bernadotte Gallery
In the 1800s, the Swedish people asked Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon's celebrated generals, to come be their king.  This Frenchman took the name of King Carl Johan, or Charles XIV John.

He initially brought his wife, Désirée, with him.  She was never particularly happy in Sweden and found excuses to return to her native France, but their son Oscar considered himself Swedish and founded the Bernadotte line that still rules Sweden.

Désirée Clary
She was the daughter of a Marseilles merchant family
The Bernadotte Kings ruled Sweden and Norway until the peaceful dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905.

The offices of the King, the other members of the Swedish Royal Family, and the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden are located in the Stockholm Palace.

The King's Council Chamber
The palace is used by the King for performing his duties as the Head of State.

The Meleagers Salon
I love the Aubusson wall hangings!  Just one of those could fund me for the rest of my life.... sigh.

The Salon of Pillars
The palace has obviously been renovated a few times in its ancient history.

Vita Havet
All I can think of, looking at these pictures, is (1) how many people it would take to keep this palace with its 1,430 rooms maintained and (2) what great parties we could have here!

Hope you've enjoyed seeing these glimpses of a Swedish Royal Palace!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Lord Speaks

This is an article which appeared in the Church News on October 12, 2013.  I felt it was worth repeating!

General Conference

It would be difficult to find an issue that members of the Church might face that wasn't addressed in the spiritual feast that was the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the proper understanding of priesthood power to questions concerning marriage, mental illness, difficult struggles with unanswered gospel questions, the roles of women and how to deal with life's sorrows and challenges, leaders of the Church were inspired to provide counsel and instruction on matters specific to this point in time.

Together, these messages bore powerful testimony to the truth that God has restored His Church upon the earth in the latter days with power and authority and that He has called a prophet to lead the people.

Mostly, they testified to the concern an Almighty God has with each individual in a personal and intimate way, and His desire to comfort and heal.

President Thomas S. Monson, whose life and ministry has been a testament to how the Lord loves and blesses the individual through the ministering of His servants, emphasized the comfort and strength that can come through living the gospel, even during times of extreme trial.

President Monson (Center) flanked by his counselors

"The history of the Church in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times, is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer," he said during his Sunday morning conference address. "The reason? They have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives. This is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head-on, and to emerge victorious."

This simple and beautiful formula may not be the type of message the world would expect to hear in a time of such confusion and disarray, and yet it is profound, powerful and true. The world is moving away from the teachings of the Savior, questioning and rejecting elementary and foundational doctrines and reaping sadness and problems in return. Clearly, there is a great need to return to the God who created them, set them on earth and loves them perfectly.

President Monson's message was especially powerful and poignant given the sorrow he himself acknowledged feeling since the recent death of his wife, Frances. He noted their 65th wedding anniversary would have been the day after conference ended. "She was the love of my life, my trusted confidant and my closest friend," he said. "To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings."

Sadness and suffering, he said, "are universal." They come even to the Lord's prophet, and they come for a reason.

"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were — better than what we were, more understanding than what we were, more empathetic than what we were, with stronger testimonies than what we had before."

Each conference seems better than the one before, precisely because each one is a set of messages from the Lord to His children tailor-made for their needs at an exact moment in time.

General conference blesses the world in ways of which the world is largely unaware. While nations and their inhabitants struggle against rampant wickedness and its many consequences, the Lord speaks through His leaders in a collective voice that is clear, unambiguous and available to all. Their words are priceless treasures guaranteed to bring happiness and joy. They provide a blueprint for ways in which Church members can bless the world, and they are a loud and ringing declaration that the Lord lives and loves all people of the world.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Perfect Birthday

Linguini with pork. Yum.
I had a great birthday last year, which included lots of really yummy food.  I'm obviously so emaciated that folks feel the need to...  no, that can't be it.

So, I've waited long enough to share.  Let me tell you all about it!

First, I got several phone calls before I even left for work in the morning.  The calls were from people who live out of state.  Each actually sang Happy Birthday to me!  That was the best.

When he heard it was my birthday, the kid at McDonald's high-fived me.  He's my bud.  I stopped by for my breakfast burrito on the way to work and he was so sweet. Later, the ladies at work took me out for a lovely lunch at a tiny Mexican place, we had a good time and laughed a lot.  Laughing is an important birthday component when you are as old as I am.  

Then, later, I came home to find my neighbor had made me a delicious dinner.

Garlic Toast
After dinner, we watched a movie and then I was surprised with a birthday cupcake!  I had my choice of a bunch of flavors of gourmet cupcakes.  Can you believe that?  I chose Peanut Butter and Jelly.  It was an awesome cupcake that really tasted like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, actually filled with grape jelly filling!  And, even though it was a small birthday cake, it came complete with candles and singing.

It doesn't get much better than that, friends!

I was so blown away by all the fun things, I forgot most of the day's photo ops.  So, you'll just have to imagine everything except the red pepper sausage linguini and awesome garlic toast.

It was a really lovely day.

This year... well, this year was even better!

There was a big party the weekend before, then there were lots of dinners, well-wishes and spending time with people I truly love throughout my birthday weekend.  Good food, good conversation, terrific surprise presents, and even a little cake!  The weather was beautiful.  Hey, what more can you ask?

Thank you, all you friends and family who made it possible.  I know some of the best folks EVER.  You all make my life more enjoyable.

I hope you've had a terrific birthday (or two) just like this at one time or another in your life - and may we all have a few more!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

No Post Friday!

Just a brief note to let you know that I will be enjoying my birthday tomorrow, Friday the 18th.  See you on Monday.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Teeny Taco

This is my friend Taco.  He is a teeny tiny  Chihuahua
My co-worker and friend Veronica has a little tiny dog named Taco.  He is a sweetheart.  He came into her life by accident, but he stole her heart almost immediately.

It wasn't heard to decide to keep him.  I mean, look at that sweet little face!

When you are teeny, sometimes it's good to have a few places to hide.
Taco has a few favorite places to hide - like under the couch.  He finds hidey places everywhere.

Taco stashes his toys in little hidey places all over the house.
Taco is sometimes a little frightened being left in the house all alone all day while his humans are at work.  It helps that there are lots of places to hide where he feels safe.

Here is Taco being bad - tearing up one of mom's dolls.
Even when they misbehave it's hard to be upset at these little sweethearts for long!

What's funny is that Taco doesn't see himself as a teeny tiny guy.  Despite his size, he thinks he is muy macho and just as big as the most ferocious doggy!

Muy Macho Taco getting ready to go bye-bye
Bye Bye, Taco!  Have a nice ride with your humans!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A New Life in Canada

Ottawa, Canada sits at the confluence of three rivers, the Ottawa, the Gatineau and the Rideau Rivers.  These were all historically important to the development of the city of Ottawa, and for commercial (and later, recreational) purposes.  During the winter months, these rivers freeze, forming the world's largest skating rink!

Ottawa at night
Remember my nephew Daniel who has been living in Shenyang, China?  Well, he and his little family recently moved to Ottawa.  They will be stationed there for the next two years.

An impressive entryway
 They were able to find a charming house with a small garden.  It looks perfect for their growing family!

The kitchen is Holly's favorite room

The living room looks a bit bare

There!  That looks better
 It is perhaps easy to see that our whole family are book-a-holics.

A partially finished basement gives ample room for kids to play

The formal dining room has become a child-friendly haven

A spacious bath

A bedroom?

Another bedroom

Dinner time
Moving across the world has its challenges!  Daniel writes that they've been serving meals off the kids' little table for weeks until they were able to get a full-sized dining room table.

This home looks so warm and inviting.
I love this shot through the back door to the garden

According to Daniel, the garden is full of squirrels!

This looks like a fun place to play.  I love the deck!

And the garden is small, but beautiful

This looks like the perfect place for two little ones to spend their days!
Okay.  Number one, I want this house.  Number two, I feel like moving to Ottawa right now.  I suppose I should wait to see what it will be like in the winter... but for right now, I'm ready to go!