Monday, June 30, 2014

Dirty Work

The ravages of several earthquakes
I needed to clear out the storage area beneath my apartment on Saturday.  I hadn't been in there for about 10 years, and hadn't realized that those boxes I had once put away so neatly and carefully covered with plastic, had been flung all over the place by a few jolts of Mother Nature and then further scattered about by a number of wild critters.  (It had been home to at least one furry creature for a while.)

It was a mess.

We could barely get the door open!
As I began going through these boxes, it hit me how many teaching materials there were.  One box contained manuals and books for the ESL (English as a Second Language) classes I had taught.

Another box was full of Relief Society and Sunday School manuals.  There were notes and pictures and other paraphernalia accumulated during a life spent teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was like seeing the documentation of an interesting and fulfilling life well lived (well, so far, so good!). It was like one of God's tender mercies in the midst of the stress of having to move this stuff.  That was a good feeling.

I was able to toss a great deal of stuff and organize some of the rest.

Through this process, I don't know what I would have done without the help of my home teacher, Darryl and his wife Karin.  It took a couple of hours of hard, filthy work, but with their help, I was able to get everything sorted out.

Karin and Darryl
I should stress the fact that most of the hardest work was theirs.  Filthy, tired, sunburned and disheveled, we went out for burgers afterwards and had some good laughs.

God bless good friends.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Where's Jack?

Where could my Jack be?

 I thought he was right here!

 There he is!

MOM!  Can't you see I'm HIDING?
Okay, Jack.  Have fun.

Hope you had a nice time in the garden.  I love you, Jack.

Love you too, Mom!

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Guys

My brother with two of his four boys: Christian (Left) and Nils (middle)
Here are my handsome guys: my brother with two of his four sons posing in their Sunday best.

Last Sunday marked a milestone as Christian, who just turned twelve, was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood as a Deacon.

This is a big deal in a young man's life.  You go, Christian!

The boys who were missing?  Daniel, the oldest, who is currently living in Ottawa with his family, and Elder Anders, who is currently serving as a Latter-day Saint missionary in the great state of Texas.

[Please note their sister, Linnea, is alive and well and living with her husband in Washington, D.C. You can follow her blog, Lille Gumma, through a link on the right side of this page.]

There's just something about a sharp dressed man, isn't there?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Restaurant for Uptown

Paulette's old place is getting a make-over
On the north end of Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier, in the area known as "Uptown", there is a large home.  It's the remnant of another age, when the business district didn't go quite that far up the street.   Now, it's in the middle of a commercial block.

Back when I moved to Whittier, there was an interior decorator named Paulette who owned the place.  It was perfect for her business.  Since she retired and left, no one has been able to make a go of it.  It's been sitting vacant for years.

Part of the problem with the property is that it sits far above the street.  Without a street presence, per se, few ventured up the stairs when it housed retail establishments, or even noticed it was there.

I snapped this on a "drive by" the other morning
You can just see the man up on the roof on the right, working on the exterior.
A few years ago, someone attempted renovating the interior.  It was going to be a jazz club at that time.  Then the market tanked and the place sat empty again.

Well, last month things started changing!  There was suddenly a dumpster out back, and workmen busily scurrying around.  They've since totally gutted the entire place.

The back view.  The concrete flooring is coming up.  You can see the pile of concrete chunks on the right.
I have no idea what's going with that.
Busybody that I am, I've chatted with various workmen.  They've mentioned that it is quite large on the inside, especially now that the entire interior has been gutted.  It's going to be a restaurant, they say.

One young man who was at the work site said he thought it was going to be something like an Olive Garden.  (Hmmm... really?)

Another person has since told me it will become a "high-end" restaurant, and that the new owners are pouring a lot of money into the place.  I've even heard they are going to put in an escalator to bring people in from the street!  I'm starting to get excited as I see the work progressing.  It will be a fun addition to the neighborhood.

I wasn't really thrilled when the jack hammer starting banging at 6:30 this morning, but I reminded myself this too shall pass.

So, what kind of restaurant do you think is going into this space?

Stay tuned!
The view from my car window

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How Lovely

The Newport Temple
I live in Whittier, California, which means I'm about an hour's drive away from the Newport Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I had the opportunity to go there this past Saturday.

The main entrance doors
It was a perfect summer day.  The flowers on the grounds were in bloom, and it was so peaceful. Several weddings were apparently taking place there that morning, and there were crowds of people taking wedding photos with happy brides and grooms.

The bas relief on the lintel above the door depicts the resurrected Christ appearing to his disciples
It's hard to describe how exquisitely beautiful the interior of this building is!  Temple interiors are often photographed prior to their dedication to the Lord.  Once a temple is dedicated, it is a sacred place where only church members in good standing are allowed inside, and photography is prohibited.  Anyway, I tried finding shots of the interior online for you, but nothing came up.  So, I'll just have to try to describe it for you.

The Angel Moroni on top of the main tower
This temple is close to the Pacific Ocean, so the interiors are decorated in the colors of the sand and sea.  The carpets are a deep golden sand color, and one interior mural depicts the shoreline with the sea in a deep marine blue, together with various wildlife - gulls and animals as are found on these shores.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.
The Angel Moroni detail
There is a lot of rich dark woodwork, too.  It frames the arched doorways.
It was a beautiful Southern California day
There is a feeling of deep peace inside all temples.  They are places to step away from the world, and focus on the things of God.
The grounds are lovely - I like cypress trees
While I was sitting in contemplation in the beautiful Celestial room, with its incredible, shimmering chandelier and gold-trimmed pilasters, strains of the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing the Brahms' requiem, "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place" kept running through my brain.  I sang this with a choir many years ago.  It's been on a loop in my mind ever since:

How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!
For my soul, it longeth, yea fainteth,
For the courts of the Lord.
My soul and body crieth out, yea for the living God.
How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!
Blest are they that dwell within thy house,
They praise thy name evermore.

How lovely is thy dwelling place!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blue Toes!

Tracy hard at work
I decided to do something completely different at my last pedicure.  I know, it's not a big deal to some, but since I usually like my toes to be red or deep pink, it was a big deal to me.

Yes, I opted for blue toes this time!

Happy toes in progress
There's something about having your toe nails done that just makes you feel pretty. 

I'm not sure why I resisted getting pedicures for so many years.  I was sure it was going to hurt, and I thought my feet were ugly.  Then my friend Rose took me to get my very first pedicure.  I remember I sat there while the pedicurist massaged my legs and feet thinking, Why didn't I do this years ago?

My happy toes
So, Saturday I got the deep turquoise color to match my new Sunday dress - and it did, perfectly! (I'm wearing some cropped pants in this photo, so you don't get the full effect.)


My feet are happy once again.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Play with Me!

Mom!  Play with me!
My little boy Jack loves to play.

He still drags around his old shoe lace, and he still sits patiently by my chair in the evening when I'm reading, trying to get my attention.

He is a sweetie pie.

Sometimes the opportunities for play are delivered by the mailman:

We got a package!
... Like when I got my mail order sandals!  (Yes, I know it looks like I got a mail order cat. But that's just Jack playing around!

That mailing pouch was just the right size for my boy.  He thought it was really cool.

New shoes!  This smells veeerrrrry interesting!
Jack... better get out of there, now!

Okay, I'll be good.  I promise.
Do you believe that face can stay out of trouble?  

Me neither.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Just Another Day in Paradise

The Verizon guys waving good-bye
I went downstairs to get in my car to go to work the other day, and low and behold - there was a Verizon truck and some workers set up right in front of my garage.

"How am I supposed to get to work, guys?" I queried impatiently, and with a bit of apprehension.  I was already running late.

"No problem, Ma'am!" they said.  They quickly and pleasantly moved out of the way, and even waved good-bye to me.

Nice guys.

Getting back to business
Life in Southern California can be interesting.

Like the day I followed the Los Angeles County Coroner's van for a good part of my commute.

Following the Los Angeles County Coroner's van on my commute
Call me crazy, but I kept looking for Dr. Quincy, M.D., and came to work feeling sad all over again about Jack Klugman having passed away.

Then there was the day I waited for a long while by the mall in a mad traffic snarl.  As I got closer to the mall, I saw there were police, fire trucks, Caltrans workers and hazmat guys everywhere!

California Highway Patrol blocking the way
The problem was actually just a little past the mall near the ramps to the Pomona (60) Freeway.

There were cops and Caltrans workers everywhere.
When I got closer, there was a tanker truck lying on its side, looking like a dead bug.  I couldn't help but wonder how it got that way.  

The tanker truck - luckily for us the tank hadn't been compromised, but there was a small diesel fuel spill
I often wonder what happens to drivers who crash these big things.  This one looked like it had tried to take the turn for the freeway on-ramp too fast, but who knows?

I once knew a hazardous materials trucker who had a small car cut him off, sending him into a frenzied attempt to avoid hitting other cars around him.  The end result was in him hanging half-way off the Vincent Thomas bridge.  It was pretty exciting, and not his fault.  He walked away from that one, but just barely.  It was a harrowing experience.

When it's quiet you can hear the insurance premiums rising all around you.

Every day brings a new challenge in the big city.

One morning I got to Cesar Chavez Boulevard to find my way to the office (The office building complex up on the hill) totally blocked.  I had to get creative in finding my way to work that morning.

I have no idea what that was all about!

On my way to the office
Which, to quote Roseanne Roseannadanna, just goes to show there's ALWAYS SOMETHING!

Hope you have a calm, safe, and happily uneventful day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Churches of Palmyra, New York

The prophet Joseph Smith writes in his history:  "... there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist."

He lived in upstate New York at the time.  First in Palmyra, then in Manchester.


"I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia."      

Not sure which church this is, but one of these was there in Palmyra
at the time of Joseph Smith's first vision
"...I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong."

Downtown Palmyra today
"My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others."

Palmyra's church row
"In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?"

Western Presbyterian Church, Palmyra
Erected A.D. 1832
"While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of Jamesfirst chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

The Palmyra Latter-day Saint Stake Center sits across from the Temple
"Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible."

The Palmyra Temple
Holiness to the Lord - The House of the Lord
"At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in  darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that, is, ask of God.  I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

"So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

"After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. "

The Palmyra Temple
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
"...I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

"When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

The First Vision
by Minerva Teichert (one of my favorite artists)

For more information, check out:
Photos by Daniel Evensen
Extracts From the History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Christian!

My nephew Christian and his mommy with his cool birthday cake!
My youngest nephew, Christian, just turned 12 yesterday.  That's a big deal birthday.  I asked him if he felt any older.

"No!" he protested.  "I'm young!  I want to be young!"  I told him he didn't have to worry about that for quite a while yet.

Still, it seems like only yesterday he looked like this:

Christian in 2010
That's how he looked when he last came to visit me.  Now he's taller than his mom.  (Which isn't a difficult achievement, now that I think about it.)

A nine-year-old Christian with his Mom and Dad and Mickey at Disneyland
This coming Sunday Christian will be ordained a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood.  It's one of those milestone events in a kid's life.  
I see Mom made her classic Castle Birthday Cake to celebrate.  Hooray for Mom.  She has made a fair share of those cakes through the years!  You will note it is topped with both the Norwegian red-white-and-blue flag, as well as a blue-and-yellow Swedish flag, as is appropriate for their family.

Happy Birthday, Christian!  Thanks for always making me laugh.  You're a terrific kid.