Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A MIddle Eastern Luncheon

My Co-workers Barbara and Carmen
The Administrative staff of the Los Angeles office of our engineering firm enjoys a luncheon once a year with our boss, Eugene.  It was especially poignant this year as he is leaving the company to go on to bigger and better things.  He will truly be missed!

Me and Eugene
I feel like we should have taken him out to lunch, not vice versa.  However, the company is doing a big luncheon tomorrow, so that will have to do.

Eugene drove us up to Glendale where we had a Middle Eastern feast at the Shiraz Restaurant.  The Shiraz Restaurant is an Armenian establishment and one of the oldest Middle Eastern restaurants in Glendale.

The Shiraz Restaurant
This (above) is actually the rear of the building.  We came in through a shady walkway from the back parking lot.

The rear entrance to Shiraz
It was a very warm day in Southern California yesterday!  And very windy.  When they asked if we'd like to sit inside or outside, we all hesitated.

The lovely interior of Shiraz
When we discovered the outside seating was in a fully covered patio area, we said, "Yes!"

The garden seating area had ceiling fans and a beautifully peaceful atmosphere
This was truly a lovely and peaceful setting for a meal. We came early, so there were no other diners sitting outside. We were able to talk and laugh in private.

The office staff.  We make KOA tick.
I love Middle Eastern food.  Shiraz has, as their claim to fame, wonderful kabobs.  When I saw the Filet Mignon kabob on the menu, I knew that's what I wanted!

By the way, I usually spell it Kebab, but I see they spelled it Kabob on their menu.  When you are dealing with a foreign language and a non-English alphabet, who knows?  Right?  Translated: they are delicious...

The Shiraz menu
We had a little trouble deciding what to order.  Everything looked really good.  But we ended up going for the Kabob entrees.

Barbara and Carmen perusing the menu.  They chose the Filet kabob too!
The service was excellent.  The first course arrived quickly.

Barbara chose a garden salad.  Eugene had Ash-Mast soup.  He let us try some.  It was a vegetable soup with cilantro and yoghurt.  It was tasty.

Ash-Mast soup
Carmen and I chose the lentil soup.  I've always liked lentils.  These were wonderfully seasoned and just a little spicy.  Nice!

I'm not used to eating a great deal for lunch.  The lentils filled me up just fine.  

But then came the main course:

The Filet Mignon Kabob
Oh, Yum.

The meat was tender and juicy and the veggies were grilled just right.  I loved this dish.

They served a platter of fresh greens as condiments.  There were fresh basil leaves, radishes and onions. There were also some lemony green leaves that I felt I should be able to identify, but couldn't.

I tried it all.  It was all good!

Eugene ordered the chicken.  It looked every bit as good as our filet chunks.

The chicken kabobs
We discovered somewhere along the way that we were perfectly color coordinated for the restaurant's garden decor. It made us laugh.

To end our meal, we were brought fresh oranges and strawberries.  Terrific!

It's nice to work with good people you also consider friends.  I'm glad we had one last luncheon with Eugene.  He's been one of the best bosses I've ever had.  What a good man!  I wish him well.

Anyway, I would heartily recommend this restaurant if you're ever in the Glendale, California area.  They are located on Glendale Avenue.

For more information, visit their website at

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easter at the Embassy

Our Easter Princess - My Great Niece Livia
I hope it's not too late to post Easter photos.  It was only a week and a half ago, right?  Well, I just got these great photos of Livia and Fred's Easter celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada!

Spring appears to be finally appearing after a long winter.  It was warm enough for the Embassy to host a fun event for their children on the Embassy grounds.  It looks like they had a pretty amazing time celebrating there.

Even the Easter Bunny showed up!

Just between you and me, I find these huge Easter bunnies a bit terrifying.
At least this one had a nice expression.
Livia (Bottom left corner above) doesn't quite know what to think about the Easter bunny.  I agree.

The kids also took part in a spirited Easter egg hunt on the Embassy grounds.

Fred takes off, while Livia takes a moment to pose for the camera
Hmmm... maybe there are directions here as to where to find the eggs... okay, maybe not!

Look what I colored!

The Embassy children gathered for a group shot with Mr. Bunny
What an adorable bunch of children.  Having parents who work for the State Department doesn't make for an easy life.  These kids must learn to be resilient and adaptable to constant change.  It's nice that the Embassy puts on these fun events for them.

 A fun time was had by all!

Canada's Parliament building as seen from the Embassy grounds

Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 Family History Fair!

Linda Serna in the middle of her presentation
Every year the Orange County Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Center puts on a Family History Fair.  Each year it gets better and better.

If you are into Family History, as I am, and even if you're not, there was something or someone to spark your interest and excitement for family history research at this fair.

This year's fair was held the day before Easter, so it wasn't perhaps as well attended as I've seen in the past, but there were still at least 500 people there.  It's a free, all-day event that is well worth attending.

Janet Hovorka
Keynote Speaker Janet Hovorka got everything off to a great start with a wonderful presentation about the joys of family history research which she titled, "Creating a Culture of Family History in Your Family and Your Home".

One of the tidbits she shared was how excited her 14 year-old son became about family history when he found ancient Norse warrior Thor on his family tree!  That was just one of many fun stories that were told throughout the day.

The Orange County Stake Center
The fair was held at the Orange County Stake Center.  It was packed, as usual.

The O.C. Family History Library
The Orange County Stake Family History Library has a knowledgeable staff and a very busy core group of patrons and volunteers that make this fair possible each year.

This year, I met several friends at the fair.  Not only was Lisa there, but my co-worker and friend Danika and her lovely mom Ruth.  Danika is an avid genealogist.  I enjoy hearing her stories about her escapades in ferreting out her family lines. She has become quite the researcher.

There always seems to be some rather miraculous happenings when people start digging into their family history.  It's as if, say many researchers, these people just want to be found.  And they are helping from the other side of the veil.

Danika and her mom, Ruth
One of the many highlights of the day was Gary Shumway's insights into everyday life in Colonial America.  I enjoyed that very much.  History and Family History are inseparably intertwined, you know.
Gary Shumway, PhD
If you are interested in Family History, think about attending the fair next April.  Believe me, it is time well spent!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Through the Eyes of a Child

Christ washing the feet of His disciples
Could it be Judas seated at the far left?  He looks guilty to me!
 Now through May 3rd, some see the Children's Art Exhibit at the Los Angeles Temple Visitor's Center.  The Los Angeles LDS Temple is located on Santa Monica Boulevard, not far from the 405 fwy.

This incredible exhibit is made up of art by Primary children of the Los Angeles Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as from the nearby neighborhood children from the St. Paul the Apostle school.
Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday
I love this art!

I love the composition of the top picture. However, the Palm Sunday one above is my favorite.  I really just delight in this happy Jesus waving at us above from his donkey perch and the kids waving their palm fronds. Even the sun in this picture is big and sunny and cheerful. This lovely work of art makes me happy just looking at it!


This artist took time to carefully label all the apostles.  I like that Jesus' name is in bold at the top.  That's nice.
I wish I could give these young artists the recognition they deserve, but they are anonymous at the moment. I'm hoping I get to see the exhibit and can see all the art the way it should be viewed, in person!

What lovely art work!  Come see the Savior of the world as seen through the eyes of a child.

 The Visitor's Center exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Los Angeles Temple

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gabby's Easter

Now this is very interesting, thought Gabby, as she sniffed the Easter basket!
This is Gabby.  She was a stray kitty that my nephew Anders adopted right before he left to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He's currently in Texas, preaching the gospel, while Gabby is waiting for him to return.  

Gabby got her name because she talks a lot.  I find that a great quality in a cat.  I like cats who talk.  My Jack is the strong, silent type. (I like him too, of course, but we communicate mostly by mime.)

Gabby got to experience her very first Easter this year.  Gabby found it all very interesting!

Here is Gabby posing for the camera.
Everyone who knows her says she is a talkative sweetie pie.
So, to have a great Easter egg hung, you need to begin with some colored eggs.  Then you must to hide them in tricky places - like a planter...

An Easter egg lurks
 .. or anywhere on the patio... or the garden...  Then you add in a little boy.

This is my nephew Christian.  He is eleven.  His Mom thought he might be too grown up for hunting Easter eggs this year. No, he protested.  It's Easter, after all.

Hunting for eggs
 So the hunt was on!

Finding treasures on the backyard fence
 Mom and Dad had hidden the eggs in some clever places.

Checking the trees
 Some eggs were hidden high and some were hidden low.

Hmmmm... I thought I saw another one down here
Gabby decided she needed to have the full Easter egg hunt experience.  She began following Christian around the garden!

Whatcha got there!  I want some too.
 Gabby really liked the eggs!

I want to eat this one.
Gabby followed Christian until all the eggs were found.

Thanks for all the help, Gabby!
 Gabby later discovered that the eggs had come from a carton.  That was very interesting, as well.

Inspecting the egg carton
Gabby had a good time on Easter Sunday.

So did Christian!

I think I made a pretty good haul, says Christian
 He couldn't have done it without Gabby, of course.

Miss Bianca Turns Two

Bianca with her Aunt Sylvia
I remember having a friend, many years ago, who had taught his daughter how to answer the question, "How old are you?" by saying, "Terrible Two!"

Of course, it came out more like, "Tehw-boo Tooooo".

You get the idea.

Remember the little sweetheart who was trying on her mommy's shoes last month?  Little Bianca had a birthday a week ago Tuesday. It's hard to forget a kid's birthday when they're born on tax day!

Miss Bianca celebrated turning two with a big cake and lots of relatives.  You can see what a little cutie pie she is.

Bianca really loves playing in the water.  Her parents have caught her more than once playing with the water in the doggy's water bowl outside on the patio.

Bianca playing in the dog bowl
So, mom and dad decided she would enjoy a toy where she could play with water to her heart's content, and leave the water dish to the doggies.

Good idea, mom and dad!

They shopped around and found the perfect water themed play station.  Sounds like a good toy for some warm summer days.

Daddy brought home a really cool thing,
but it had to be put together before Bianca could play with it
Good thing that daddy is a whiz at all things mechanical!  He had Bianca's toy water park together in no time.

It didn't take long before it was a fun contraption to play with!
Look at all those gadgets and gizmos!  Perfect for adding a bit of imagination... and some water. Bianca's new toy was a complete success.  She had a great time splashing around in it.

Bianca with her new toy
I know she's only two, but she looks very grown up, doesn't she?

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Cousin Baraka

My Handsome Cousin Baraka
Recently I got to meet my cousin Baraka for the first time.  Actually, he's my first cousin once removed - he's my first Cousin George's youngest boy.  

I should perhaps explain that my dad came from a family of 10 children.  I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 first cousins, just on his side of the family.  I have cousins I have never met, such as Baraka's dad, George, who currently lives in Hawaii.  George is the principal of a Christian school there.

I had heard that Baraka was living here in the area attending Long Beach State.  I guess I was a little shy about getting around to meeting this fellow.  It took some chatting on Facebook with him and his sister Charlotte for me to feel comfortable enough to finally arrange a meeting.

We finally hooked up at the Olive Garden restaurant in Downey, California, one evening, along with my Cousin Mary (George's sister, Baraka's Aunt) and Mary's delightful daughter Leah.

My Cousin Mary and her daughter Leah
I had met Mary once, many years ago, at a family reunion in Durango, Colorado.  My dad's side of the family calls Durango home base.

It was so good to see her again and get to meet her lovely daughter Leah.  I was really impressed with Leah. She is a twelve and a half and really great kid.

It was such fun meeting these relatives!  They're the closest to me, geographically speaking, of any family I have.  But I was nervous meeting them.  I mean, we're family, so even if they don't like me, they're stuck with me, right? Ha!

I'm sure Baraka thought I was a lunatic with a camera
Baraka's mom hails from Kenya, and from a place not far from where President Obama's family comes from.  He said he gets comments that he looks like President Obama all the time.  Truth be told, I thought he did look a bit like President Obama with a bit of my cousin Alan thrown in.  He also sounds very much like my brother's boys.

I found that I felt instantly comfortable with him.  Like my genes said, "Whoa!  Family!"

I discovered that Baraka, who is 25, is majoring in Mechanical Engineering.  He is also very nice.
Baraka (on the far right) with his siblings, Charlotte and Amani
I arrived with photos of our patriarchal greats - Baraka's great-grandparents, 2nd great grandparents and 3rd great grandparents, and a little chart so he could tell how they/we were connected.  It was strange telling this young man, who was part Kenyan and a Lutheran, about his Norwegian Mormon ancestors.  It was probably weird for him as well.

Isn't family great?

Below you'll see the photos of  my paternal grandparents, who are also Baraka and Amani's great-grandparents, (and their half-sister Charlotte's adopted great-grands):

Pearl Ethel Stivers Evensen
Through Pearl Stivers, we are related to folks who fought in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.  Her earliest American ancestors first arrived in America in the 1620s.  We're "Heinz 57" Americana through and through by virtue of Grandmother Pearl.  (All the rest are purely Scandinavian!)

Pearl died the year before I was born, so I never got a chance to meet her in this life.

Axel Hermand Evensen
Through Axel, we are related to Norwegian and Danish Mormon immigrants.

I think that makes us about as American as a family can get!

When I think about our very international family it makes me very happy.  I think we are so very lucky. I hope now that the ice has been broken that I'll get to see more of my California branch of the family.