Monday, March 31, 2014

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet...

...I feel the books and DVDs come tumbling down...

The Quake was centered in the La Habra / Brea area directly east of me

Friday night we had a little excitement in my neighborhood.  I was watching an old Cary Grant movie on DVD around eight o'clock, when we had an earthquake.  It was a little one, a 3.4.

It turns out this was just a foreshock.

Then, at 9:10, a bigger one struck.  I had just decided to go to bed, and was in the doorway of the bathroom.  I ended up just standing there while everything shook around me.  I stood for what seemed like a very long time in the doorway (20 seconds is an eternity in these circumstances), holding onto the door frame, waiting for the house to stop shaking all around me.  It was disconcerting, to say the least!

It's been quite a while since we've had such a strong quake.  It took a few minutes for my heart rate to return to normal.

My cat Jack hid under the bed.  He didn't come out for a LONG while.

An AP photo showing the damage to a La Habra Walgreens Store

The phone started ringing.  I had several calls and texts asking me if I was all right.  I was fine.  The house was fine.  I had photos and DVDs and books topple, but nothing was broken.

This turned out to be a 5.1 magnitude jolt centered in the La Habra/Brea area which is directly east (and perhaps a little south) of me.

Lucky for me, the power didn't go out.  I quickly turned to a TV station showing the news. Reports were just coming in about the quake from the news media as a third quake (this turned out to be a 3.6) struck around 9:30 p.m.

Trader Joe's in Brea
It's just wine, folks, not blood.  Luckily no one was hurt
This photo was sent around via Facebook
Around ten o'clock, my neighbors came to check on me.  They had been at a restaurant on the east side of Whittier when the bigger, 5.1, quake struck.  They watched in amusement as their waitress ran out of the restaurant, screaming.  Then George turned calmly to Ray and quipped, "I sure hope she put in our order first.  I'm starving!"

Beauty Supplies hit the floor in La Habra
Photo NBC Los Angeles
Of course, it's hard to go to bed after an adrenaline rush like that.  I stayed up, watching the news coverage on Channel 9 while we continued to have aftershocks.

We had a lot of them.

There have been more than 140 aftershocks from Friday's quake
It was funny watching the news.  They were live at Caltech with seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones.  They had an earthquake sensor that would buzz when there was a quake.

I like Dr. Lucy.

Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones

As I was watching TV, I felt aftershock upon aftershock.

After each one, about 2 seconds later, the buzzer at Caltech would go off and there would be a small delay before they'd read off the magnitude:  2.6!  2.4!

It was rather funny at the time.

A bit freaked out, I had a tough time getting to bed.  The thought ran through my mind that perhaps I needed to stay dressed "just in case".  I finally went to bed around 1 a.m.

I was awakened frequently through the night by aftershocks.

The Chevron station in La Habra
Saturday I ran around doing errands, and things seemed fairly quiet.  Then, as I was sitting eating a late lunch, around 2:30 p.m., another aftershock hit.  This was a 4.0 and strong enough to really unnerve me.

The aftershocks continued on Saturday evening. Again, I had trouble going to bed.  It's like your whole body is on Red Alert.

With all of these experiences, I'm always wondering if it's building to something worse, or if we have already experienced the worst of it.

Life in California.  It's always exciting.

So, that's my big report.  Nothing broken at my house.  Some homes "red-tagged" in Fullerton, I believe Poor folks!  (That means the house is so badly structurally damaged that people have to evacuate.)  No one killed or seriously injured, thank goodness. Just lots of nerves jangled and homes rattled.

My cat Jack just wants to sit in my lap a lot now.  (This is a new thing for him.)

I see we've had 14 earthquakes in the greater Los Angeles area already today, as I write this.  Time to replenish the earthquake kit and restock the pantry with canned goods and bottled water.

Life goes on.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Hockey Player

Jack "playing"  with a shoelace
This is my cat Jack.  

He really loves to play with these spring thingeys (see below).  They are his favorite toy.  Jack's Aunts, Jackie and Maura, gave him a bunch of these when he was little.  They started it!.  We've since had to buy more. 


Jack plays hockey with these things.  Then they mysteriously disappear. There must be a hundred or more of these things hidden all over the house.  We've been spring-less for a while now, because he's already squirreled away all the ones he got for Christmas.

I've always joked about the fact that when we eventually move, we'll find them under every surface in the house.

Recently... well, make that all this week - plumbers have been tearing my place apart.  We're getting copper piping and all new plumbing.  That's a good thing.

However, the mess is incredible.  It's starting to wear me down, man.

Jack, on the other hand, has been having incredible fun, mainly because his springs have been mysteriously resurfacing.

I came home one day to find about 10 of them scattered throughout the living room.  Jack was in the middle of the floor batting them around like crazy.


Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Relief Society Birthday

There was a very good turn-out for this fun evening
Every year the Relief Society celebrates its birthday in March with a dinner and a special program.  From my guess, this has been going on since 1842 when it all began.

Our Pickering Ward Relief Society celebrated this year by holding not just a dinner, but a talent show, featuring the talents of the lovely women in our congregation.

Watching the performers
We are a talented bunch!

Enjoying each other's company
 We had a delightful light dinner and some good conversation.

Sister Mariner singing a Bob Marley tune
She did a beautiful job.
 The talent show part of the evening showcased a very wide range of talents.

Karina and Keyla dancing
Mother and daughter rocking the house
 There was some singing, a few dance routines, and all kinds of displays.

Deonne's art work in pastels
(You can see a glimpse of one of my paintings in the back on the left)
 It's rather amazing all the things our friends and neighbors can do!

More of the display of talents - sewing and music
I'm not sure, but I think these are Ellen's, too.
I was proud of Ellen for playing. I don't get to hear her play very often any more.  I was too chicken to play a solo.  However, the congregation gets to hear me every Sunday, as I'm the church organist.

Does that count?
Ellen plays a solo
I thought perhaps Evangeline would play something as well.  She is also a talented pianist.  However, she chose to do a reading.  She had a lot of funny, and pithy, things to share.

Evangeline does a reading
 I really had an enjoyable time watching my sisters display their many talents.

Some of my artwork and novels on display
I admire people who can sew, crochet and quilt.  Those things are not my talents!

Andy gave a little talk about Talents.  She mentioned that everyone has talents.  Some talents aren't showy. They may be something simple, like being able to say the right thing, having a listening ear, or always being cheerful.

Andy speaks on the subject of Talents
Among her many talents, my mom had a talent for keeping a perfectly clean house, for example.  This is a talent I did not inherit.

I've already chronicled how we were treated to a belly dance routine (see my post of Thursday, March 20th).

The lady missionaries also performed a musical number.
The Sister Missionaries perform a musical number
We were also treated to a Tongan hula.

Another of the Mariner girls performs a sultry Tongan hula
It was an eclectic program, to be sure!  I tried to get photos of everyone who participated, but I may have left someone out.  If I did, please forgive me, it was by accident, not design.  I had a really fun time.

What an enjoyable evening with my sisters.

Thanks to all of you for sharing all your wonderful talents.  I'm lucky to associate with you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Opera in Lille, Part Deux

The current production at the L'Opera de Lille
Yesterday I posted a blog about my friends attending the opera in Lille, France.  I thought maybe you'd like to know a little bit more about this lyric coloratura soprano who sang the main role of Sandrina in the Mozartian opera they went to see there, Ms. Erin Morley.

Erin is one of the word's most promising young artists.  The Metropolitan Opera is her home company. During the 2011-2012 season, she appeared in the Met's Grammy award-winning Ring cycle.

My friend Bente with Erin Morley backstage in Lille at La Finta Giardiniera
She was recently hailed by critics as a "major success" when she stepped in at the last minute to sing all performances of Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier at the Met.  Not bad for a young girl from Utah still at the start of her professional life!

Erin as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier
Following her appearance with the Opera de Lille as Sandrina in La Finta Giardiniera, she will appear in Dijon (yes, the place where the mustard comes from) at the Opera de Dijon.  Later in the season she'll be singing Gilda in Rigoletto in Munich, Germany with the Bavarian State Opera.

Erin Morley
Future engagements include leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera in a new production of Der Rosenkavalier, as well as appearances at the Opera National de Paris (Paris, France) and the Wiener Staatsoper (the State Opera of Vienna, Austria).

Erin singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
You may remember Erin from her past performance (2011) with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's interesting to note that Ms. Morley's father is a physician who sings with the choir.  Her mom is an accomplished violinist in the Orchestra at Temple Square.  (Morley's mom is also my friend Bente's cousin. Lots of musical talent in this family!)

This is a young woman to watch.... and listen to too!  I'm so happy to have been able to tell you a little about her here in this blog.

Shine on!
To learn more about Ms. Morley, visit
FOLLOW her on Twitter: @morley_erin

Photos taken from L'Opera de Lille website, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir website and the Erin Morley website.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

At the Opera in Lille

Two of my favorite people in the whole world!
My dear friend, Jan-Åke and his beautiful wife Bente.
One of the great things about living in Europe is that when you want to go to the opera in Lille, France, you can pretty much just do it.  It doesn't take months of planning, or a transatlantic flight.

Must be nice, huh?

My friends Jan-Åke and Bente are currently back in Bente's native Norway (Jan-Åke is Swedish) after years of living in places like Belgium and England.  That didn't stop them from jaunting down to northern France to catch a performance of Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) at the beautiful Lille Opera house.

Bente has always had a love of music.  She's one of those incredible musical overachievers who graduated from Juilliard. I've been lucky enough to hear her perform on many occasions.  She is a keyboard virtuoso. What a talent!  

With friends at the opera
Isn't this opera house glorious?  I thought you'd enjoy seeing it.

Lille is an ancient University town, and quite beautiful.  The opera they went to see was the first opera Mozart ever wrote.  He dashed it off in 1775, at the tender age of 18, while living in Munich.

This opera was a special draw for my friends because someone they knew was performing in it!
Backstage at the Opera with performer Erin and prop Garden Hats!
They got to go backstage and meet with Erin after the performance.  They also got to take this lovely photo of Bente and Erin wearing the hats featured in the production.

I believe they are going to go hear Erin sing as the production travels to other European capitals.  Maybe we'll get to see a glimpse of other fabulous opera houses along the way!

Thanks, Bente, for sharing your visit to Lille!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jack's Brothers

Leo and Piper chilling with their daddy
Jack, the cat, comes from a very nice family of three brothers and a sister.  Their little sister Lucky lives up in North Hills with a whole bunch of other adopted cat kids.  Jack's two brothers live in Torrance with an older adopted brother named Nimitz.

I was able to visit with my little Jack's siblings recently.  I found both Leo (the grey and white cat on top) and Piper (the black and white farther down) are doing very well.

They are a very chill, California family.

The boys, when they aren't getting into LOTS of trouble, are content to hang out with their human dad watching TV and playing video games.

When I got home from my visit, I told Jack that his brothers are doing very well and that they said Hi!  He was happy to know that everyone was doing fine.

Leo and Piper still chilling with their daddy
Hope you are also doing fine.

Jack and I are doing great, too.

My Jack, playing with a shoelace

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Art of the Belly Dance

Jessica spreads her wings
Last Thursday we had a delightful evening at our Pickering Ward Relief Society birthday celebration.  As you may know, the Relief Society is the world's oldest and largest women's organization.  It is a world-wide sisterhood embracing a multitude of cultures and millions of women.  Our little ward Relief Society is small, but we are mighty talented.

To celebrate this year, our ward decided to put on a talent show.  I'll chronicle the rest later, but today wanted to focus on our beautiful Jessica and her belly dancing.

Entering the cultural hall in a flurry of shimmering gold
 I suppose some may look askance at such a display at church.  (I hope that sentence made you smile.)  However, belly dancing is an ancient folk dance form from the Middle East and is really beautiful to watch.

Jessica performs her belly dance while the lady missionaries look on
(There's a sentence you don't often see in print!)
Our Relief Society really enjoyed Jessica's performance.

I have to admit I took a belly dancing class in my youth.  It was a lot of fun. Sadly, you need knees to be able to belly dance, so my belly dancing days are over.  It's your knees popping up and down that actually give you the undulating hips needed for this dance form.

Besides giving you good muscle tone, belly dancing can increase the suppleness of your torso, increase spine strength, improve posture, and do other good things for your health.

In ancient cultures, both men and women belly danced.  Actually, they still do.

Jessica without her wings
 I wish I'd been able to get a better photo of Jessica's costume, but she was always in motion. (It never occurred to me that night to just ask her to pose later!  Doh!)  The costume was beautiful.  It had detailed embroidery, sequins and beads sewn into it.  It was a good color for her, with her flaming red hair, as well.

Poetry in motion
I loved the lovely fan work she did with the "wings" of her costume.  Jessica told us she used to perform with a troupe locally.

There are apparently lots of local troupes.

If you'd like to take a belly dancing class for fun and health, do it!  It's really a lot of fun.  My co-worker Sabrina did precisely that and is now performing with a dance troupe out of Long Beach.

My friend Sabrina's Long Beach Belly Dance Fusion troupe (she's second from the left)
You get to wear really cool outfits, too.  I was once told that what we perceive as "tradiitional" belly dancing costumes were actually cooked up by some 19th century Parisian costume designer for an Arabian Nights sequence of the ballet at the Paris Opera.  Traditional costumes in the Middle East are much more conservative, modest, and often, at social gatherings, Belly Dancing is done in regular clothing by regular people, not professionals.

Kinda blows the mystique, though, doesn't it?

I think I prefer the really cool, exotic costuming.

Shake it, baby!  Shake it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Life Well Lived

Howard "Deac" Hunter
September 21, 1922 to March 2, 2014
Let me just put it in writing: I love my friend Deac.  I was going to write "I loved Deac", but that just isn't true.  Just because he's passed on doesn't mean I love him any less.

Howard "Deac" Hunter was a truly great man, one of those delightful, and truly good, guys who come along all too infrequently in life. In fact, he was such a great guy, such a good friend, and so full of youthful energy, I tended to forget he was old enough to be my father.

I first met Deac not long after I moved to Whittier, California, nearly 25 years ago.  I had called to inquire about tickets to the Whittier Community Theatre. On this occasion it was Deac's beautiful wife Nora who answered my call.  By the time I hung up the phone I had been invited to join the WCT and was well on my way to performing in my first show (Blithe Spirit) with these good people.

My friend Deac passed away on Sunday, March 2nd at the age of 91 at his home in Whittier, California, surrounded by his family.  To say he will be missed is a gross understatement.  He leaves a huge gap that will be impossible to fill.

The lovely service was held at the Hillside Chapel at Rose Hills
It's no coincidence that I met the Hunters through the Community Theatre.  Deac loved acting, he loved singing, he loved telling stories and entertaining. He was a mainstay of the theatre for more than 50  years.  

On Monday the 17th, his very talented theatrical family put together a lovely service as a memorial to their extraordinary husband, father, uncle, and grandfather.

Howard David Hunter, Jr.was born on September 21, 1922 in Colorado Springs to Aletha and Howard "Pop" Hunter. He was raised during the depression years in Ralston, Nebraska with his brothers and sisters, Ida Mae, Bob, Walter and AJ.  

During World War II he enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a bomber pilot, flying 35 missions over Germany. I didn't realize that his nickname Deac came from this time of his life.  Howard, a man of integrity and honor, even at the tender age of 22, kept the other young soldiers in line and out of trouble, earning the nickname The Deacon.  He wore the title with pride for the rest of his life.

Upon returning from the war, he enrolled at Pomona College on an unofficial football and poker scholarship. It was there he met his future wife, the lovely and talented Nora Brink. They were married in 1948 and last summer celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. They moved to Whittier in 1951, where they lived for over sixty years, raising four children.

Nora was truly his partner in life, keeping up with his demanding work, interests and hobbies.  She shared his passion for family, and for the theatre and would work tirelessly backstage season after season.

It was a beautiful day up at Rose Hills for the service
Deac's early career out of college was spent helping build the new family business, Hunter Tools. He sold Magic Tip Screwdrivers and Smitty Wrenches out of his car trunk at first and later from the block-long plant in Santa Fe Springs.

In the mid 1950s, he began teaching at Stevenson Junior High School in Los Angeles. Soon he created his own drama program for the school and went on to teach drama for the next 26 years at both Stevenson and John Burroughs Junior High. When he retired, the school district changed the name of the theater at Stevenson to "Hunter Hall."
In 1961, he followed his brother Bob and brother-in-law Jack Heller into the Whittier Community Theater. There he directed me in "You Can't Take It With You" some years ago. He was always fun to work with. He was also a kind and patient director.

Over the next 50 years he served as president, board member, perennial director, legendary actor, and the voice on the answering machine for the WCT. He continued to act into his late 80s, performing in the yearly Victorian Feast to benefit the Whittier Historical Society.

I was once at a Belles Lettres book club meeting at the Whittier Historical Museum and to my delight, there was Deac, in full costume, ready to perform for some Historical Museum function that evening.  He greeted me then, as always, with a bright smile and a cheerful "Hi, Marianne!"

What many people don't know about Deac is that he was a founder and first president of the Hunter Foundation which provides vocational scholarships to Whittier Union High School District graduates.

At the podium for the Hunter Foundation awards
Deac loved being with his family most of all. 

He looked forward to long cross country road trips with his family every summer and hosting a family reunion every Thanksgiving. 

Rather humorously, he is remembered for loving to play poker, bridge, and golf. 

Deac used golf as a thinly veiled excuse to spend time with his children and grandchildren. He played his last round of golf with them at the age of 91.  They tell me he still had the best golf swing of them all, even at that age.

The chapel holds 185 people, and it was packed
These mourners are enjoying one of the delightful videos the family had prepared to honor Deac

He is survived by his wife Nora, his children, Susan (Michael) Eiden, Scott (Paula), Kathryn (David), and Clark. His grandchildren are Emily Eiden (Trevor) Murphy, Alex Hunter, Andrew Eiden, and Nora June Hunter. He has one great-granddaughter, Ava Hunter, and a second great-granddaughter (Murphy) due in July.

A handsome young Deac in the 1960s
Ironically, the last time I had a good conversation with Deac was at a funeral last year.  He expressed to me at that time that he knew it would be his turn to pass soon.  I told him by the time you are of a certain age, so many friends and loved ones are on that "other side of the veil" that dying can't possibly be a bad thing.  After all, they will all be there to greet you!

I still hold firm to that conviction.  I figure there was a loving crowd to greet Deac at the pearly gates on March 2nd - and they probably threw him a big Welcome Home party.

Since he's been on the other side for a few weeks now, I'm fairly sure he's already organized a theatre troupe and is having a great time directing and acting in his favorite shows.

I also strongly suspect that one of the first things he heard as he passed were the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant..."

Much of this was taken from Deac's formal obituary
 which appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune
 on March 12, 2014. 
 I've added my own thoughts and memories.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Irish B & B

Pearse Lodge B&B

With it being St. Patrick's day yesterday, it seems only fitting that we post a little more about the lovely emerald isle, Ireland.

This is about the Bed & Breakfast establishments of Ireland.

If you've never stayed at a B&B... well, let's just say you haven't truly experienced a far away place properly.  A B&B gives you a bit of local color in a way very different from staying in a hotel.

Kathy taking a photo of the quaint B&B
This B&B was either in Sligo itself or in County Sligo... or close to it.

Yes, that's me.  So precise.  It's a lovely place, though.

The rooms were quaint
Quaint and comfortable is how I'd describe most B&Bs.

Lisa really loved the door handles and old-fashioned keys.  She had to take a photo of this for us!

Here's the door to their room.

A room named Hazel

Here are the keys to the room named Hazel.

I have never met a room named Hazel before.
The keys
Well, now we have.

That's what you get with a B&B.  Named rooms instead of numbers.  It's more homey, don't you think?

The keys in the door
I hope you had a delightful  St. Patrick's Day!  We Americans have rather made St. Patty's day our own, you know.  We celebrate quite enthusiastically!