Friday, August 29, 2014

My Man Jack

Jack is a serious young man
I love the shot of Jack above.  He looks like a young, intense actor posing for his first head shot. Doesn't he look ready to tackle Hamlet or Torvald Helmer in a production of Ibsen's A Doll House?

Jack is a sweetheart, but as I have mentioned before, he is a muy macho kind of guy.

It's taken years to get his wiggles out.  He now will actually submit to being a lap cat for a few minutes every morning.

It's darn amazing, I tell ya!

Jack enjoys morning cuddles with his mom at the start of each day
Here we are discussing the news of the day (above), right after breakfast.  It's our cuddle, er, I mean, our discussion time.

After that, Jack has a bit of a workout.  (See below)

Jack has fun playing
I love the above photo because, even in its fuzziness, it shows you his fantastically long and flooooofy tummy fur. It grows in two different directions and comes to a point right at the bikini line.  This makes for an adorable cowlick that I love tickling.  He was actually half sitting, half standing while playing with me in this photo.  He is very cute when he does this. But please don't tell him that!  It would destroy his muy macho image!

You probably should NOT mention that I love his long flooooofy tummy fur, either.  He's sensitive about some things.  And did I mention he's muy macho?

I did?

Well, it's true.

My guy Jack.  He's my man.

Jack is an intelligent, well-rounded young kitty cat man
I'm going to enjoy a long Labor Day Holiday weekend with my guy!

Look for my next blog post on Wednesday, September 3rd.  Enjoy your holiday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Travels With My Aunt

Tante Lillemor and me at the Henriksens in Oslo
It's Throwback Thursday!

Today I thought I'd post a few pictures of me and my Aunt Inger-Mari Strand Henriksen, also affectionately known as Lillemor.  The above photo was taken at my Aunt's inlaws' home in Oslo, Norway, in the 1990s.  (Her husband's brother's place.)  She was already a widow then, and treasured her relationship with her husband's family.

Everyone would remark on how much we looked alike.  I think I look more like her than I did my own mother, her sister!  We always had a special bond.

In Whittier, California, at the Rocky Cola Cafe
When Lillemor came to visit the United States in the early 1990s, I was so thrilled.  She gave a wonderful speech at the Norwegian Mission Reunion in Salt Lake City on that occasion, and also took time to visit me in California.

We sometimes referred to Tante Lillemor as "Lolo".  When I took her to the Rocky Cola Cafe for ice cream, she misread the writing on the front of the building and declared, "Look!  Isn't it funny! It's called the Lolo Cafe?"

My dear Tante Aase flew with her from Salt Lake City on that visit.  Here they are at Disneyland with Mickey.  That was a lovely day.  Tante Aase is in her mid-90s now and starting to slow down a little.

My aunties, Lillemor and Aase, with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland
In the late 1980s, while my Dad and Merlene were living in England, we had a fabulous vacation there.  Lillemor flew down from Norway at that time, and we had a great visit.  I believe this photo (below) was taken in Canterbury, but wouldn't stake my life on it!  We did quite a bit of traveling on that trip.

A rather windblown me with Lillemor in England in the 80s
Lillemor passed away in 1999, after a brief illness.  I still miss her a great deal!

Thanks for indulging me in this quick trip down memory lane!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Black-Footed Baby

The little baby kitty is sleeping
The Hogle Zoo, outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the few facilities participating in the "Species Survival Plan", a cooperative breeding program among designated zoos to help save endangered, or nearly endangered species, such as the Black-footed cat pictured here.

My friend Meldee and her husband Don love the zoo and the cats there.  They took these photos some time ago when there was a new little Black-footed cat there.

Isn't this one a sweetie pie?
Sometimes I feel like somebody's watching me!
Black-footed cats are named for the black soles of their feet, and not the color of their paws.  They are indigenous to far-away places like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and can also occasionally be found in Zimbabwe and Angola.

They are one of the smallest wild cats in the world.  And, weighing in at somewhere between 2 and 5 pounds, they are adorable.

Hey!  You with the camera, I'm sleeping here!
These cats are nocturnal and eat a lot.  They can consume a third of their body weight every night and rarely sleep more than 14 hours a day.  (I knew a guy like that once...)

These guys may be small, but they are aggressive and successful hunters!  They will eat a variety of small mammals, birds, insects and reptiles.

I was sleeping here!  Go away!
These babies roar!  They are very vocal and emit a loud and deep, throaty, "RRAAOUUH" when they feel it necessary.  Looks like the little fellow above already has learned the roar!

Baby be all grown up and looks more like this now:

Photo:  Hogle Zoo
Aren't they beautiful?  I love kitties.  I somehow don't think this one would sit on my lap.

Folklore says these tiny black-footed cats can bring down a giraffe by leaping on its neck.  It remains to be seen, but I'm betting we shouldn't discount it.  These little guys look pretty tough!

Photo: Hogle Zoo

I'm grateful to zoos such as the Hogle, who participate in programs such as the SSP (Species Survival Plan) to help these various species survive.

Back off!  We are still FEROCIOUS!
Photos: M R Love

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's Not Too Late!

It's not too late to order your season tickets for the Whittier Community Theatre's 2014-2015 Season.  Do it now!  The first show opens a week from Friday!

The season kicks off on September 5th with a classic Broadway Musical: The Pajama Game.  This is a gem I saw as a child on Broadway in its original run.  This is the entertaining - and romantic! - show about a pajama factory and its labor relations that made Shirley MacLaine famous.

This show runs for three weekends.  Don't miss it!

Next up?  The Lion in Winter, the James Goldman tale of the real historical figures Henry II of England and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Their three sons, Richard, Geoffrey and John are all jockeying for their parents' favor, but only two will become kings of England.  This is a rousing tale of a dysfunctional, but incredibly powerful family.

In February, the theatre presents Johnny Guitar, another musical!  This one is the winner of several Best Musical awards.  It is a fast-paced, family-friendly musical, one that is bound to delight and get you toe-tapping.

Lastly, Neil Simon's full-length farce, Rumors, will play beginning May 29th.  It's one of those crazy shows that will leave you breathless from laughing.

Come, support your friends and neighbors in developing their talents!

Call (562) 696-0600 to order your tickets today!  
For more information, visit the Community Theatre website:

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Eiffel Tower

My friends Angie and Glenn in Paris

"I like the Eiffel Tower because it looks like steel and lace."
-Natalie Loyd

When the Eiffel tower was first built as the entrance arch for the World's Fair in 1889, many people thought it was awful and that leaving it up after the Fair was going to ruin the Paris skyline forever.  Today, it's one of the most well-known structures in the world.

Glenn and Angie climbed up to the top this summer, eschewing a 2-hour wait in line for the elevator.  I so could not have done that! 1,050-feet of stairs is not my idea of a good time.

Looking down at the wimps in the line below
In spite of that, millions of people climb the Eiffel Tower every year.  It's had more than 250 million visitors since its opening.  Its design has been recreated all over the world, including a half-scale replica in Las Vegas and a full-scale tower in Tokyo, Japan.

The view along the clim
The Tower is located on the Champs de Mars in Paris.  As I mentioned earlier, it is over 1,000 feet tall.  It stood as the tallest man-made structure in the world until the Chrysler Building claimed the title in 1930.

The Palais de Justice as seen from the tower
"To breathe Paris is to preserve one's soul"
-Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
The view from the top is divine.

"I wish I could go to Paris right now."
-Emily Proctor ... and me

Friday, August 22, 2014

Holding Paws

Jack and his mom's foot
Always in motion is the kitty!

We have good times together, despite (or possibly because of) Jack's wiggles.  And sometimes we just hold paws.

What can I do, people?  Mom is a girl, she likes that stuff.
Jack was doing this the other night, and it was so sweet - so I grabbed the camera and got a couple of pictures in.  You will note that he wouldn't keep his head still long enough for me to get off a good shot.  And I tried.  These two happen to be the ones out of the bunch that show Jack using the most restraint!

But you know how it is... Jack always has to move to see what I'm doing.  Of course.  He's a cat.

I love my little kitty.  He is a lot of fun.

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Just one more week until the Labor Day Holiday!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ferocious Wild Beasties

A small sleeping Sand Cat at the Hogle Zoo looks very much like a domestic cat
-photo: M Love
The Hogle Zoo outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, is home to a lot of beautiful wild cats of all kinds, including these little Sand Cats which are adorable and don't look dangerous at all!

Sand Cats are the smallest of all wild cats.  They are approximately the size of small domestic cats, weighing in around 4 - 8 pounds, reaching lengths of no more than 36 inches, and heights of 10-12 inches.   In other words, they are smaller than my little cat, Jack!

Of course, they really are dangerous and quite wild, no matter how cute they look in these photos.

From the ISEC website - a little sand cat in motion
Sand Cats live all across the Sahara Desert, from Morocco in the west to as far as Egypt and the Sudan in the east.  They also occur in the Middle East and there is thought to be a small population of them in Central Asia.

These are true desert dwellers, with numerous adaptations to an arid lifestyle, and a soft and dense sandy brown coat that blends in well with their environment.

Their thick coat - they even have long, dense hairs covering the soles of their feet - insulates them well from both the hot sands and intense desert cold and helps them to move easily over shifting surfaces without sinking.

Tradition holds that these tiny cats were the companions of the Prophet Mohammed and his daughter.

Another little cutie pie Sand Cat at the Hogle Zoo.
These cats are nocturnal and sleep during the day
In the Sahara they are known as "the cat that digs holes".  The Sand Cat burrows to dig rodents out of the sand for food, and also digs burrows for shelter.

Sand Cats are listed as Near Threatened in the wild.  Because they live in vast, arid locations, they're difficult to study and it's also difficult to estimate their numbers.  However, they are threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and collection for the pet trade.

According to the Mother Nature Network, they went extinct in Israel around 1994.  Since then, the Zoological Center of Tel Aviv has been working with a European breeding program to improve their numbers.  A litter of four sand cat kittens was born at there in 2012, so things have been looking up since then.

They are certainly among the cutest endangered species in the world.

Rotem, the Sand Cat from Germany and her four little Sand Cat kittens
In Tel Aviv, Rotem, the little female Sand Cat shown above with her litter, came from Germany in 2010 to be a part of this new breeding program.  She was paired with Sela, a male cat from Poland.  Zoo officials were a bit worried about the tiny kittens at first, but Rotem turned out to be a wonderful mother and all the four kittens were healthy and happy.

The kittens were transferred to other zoos once they were old enough to leave their mother.  In this way, it is hoped the breed can continue to reproduce and be saved from extinction.

At the Hogle Zoo in Utah, they are listed as the "Arabian Sand Cat" and given the title of "SSP Animal".  This designates an animal that is in danger.  The SSP, or Species Survival Plan is a program that began in 1981 as a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected species in zoos and aquariums across North America.  The Hogle, and other Zoos like them, are helping preserve the Sand Cat through breeding programs, research and public education.

There are no Sand Cats at the Los Angeles Zoo, however, they have a sweet couple over at The Cat House, the EFBC's Feline Conservation Center in Rosamond, California, which is in the Antelope Valley about 20 miles north of Palmdale in northern Los Angeles County.

The Cat House is home to more than 70 feline residents, including these cuties (I love these 'mug shots'!):

Fath, a male Sand Cat
Born in October, 2009 at the Cincinnati Zoo, he came to California in 2011
Freta, Fath's girlfriend
Born in 2011 in Tallin, Estonia
Freta came to California in 2013.  They make a cute couple, don't they?

If you'd like to know more about the Sand Cat, and how to help in their preservation, you can visit the following sites:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Whitmer Farm

Fred at the door of the Whitmer Farm
Most Latter-day Saints are aware of the testimonies of the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.

But these 11 men, impressive as they are, were not the only people besides Joseph Smith who had direct encounters with the gold plates. David Whitmer, for example, one of the Three Witnesses, related that his mother, Mary Musselman Whitmer, also saw the plates, quite independently of anybody else and under the most matter-of-fact circumstances.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in this room
It was through David, the fourth of nine children, that the entire family of Peter Whitmer Sr. had become acquainted with Joseph Smith in 1828. Eventually, a substantial part of the translation of the Book of Mormon occurred at the Peter Whitmer farm near Fayette, N.Y. (Later, on April 6, 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be officially organized there.)

During that period, the place was a hive of activity; Joseph Smith and his wife, Emma, and Oliver Cowdery were boarding with the Whitmers, and other people (including curiosity-seekers) were constantly coming and going. Much of the burden of coping with them fell upon Peter’s wife, Mary.

“My father and mother had a large family of their own,” David later explained. “The addition to it therefore of Joseph, his wife, Emma, and Oliver very greatly increased the toil and anxiety of my mother. And although she had never complained, she had sometimes felt that her labor was too much, or at least she was perhaps beginning to feel so.”

The three special witnesses of the Book of Mormon as older men
One day, though, probably in June 1829, when she was going out to milk the cows in the family barn — where, David happened to know, the plates were concealed at the time — she met an “old man,” as she described him, who said to her, in David’s account of the story, “You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tired because of the increase of your toil; it is proper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.”
Thereupon,” David said, “he showed her the plates.” And this unexpected encounter “completely removed” her feeling of being overwhelmed, said her son, “and nerved her up for her increased responsibilities.”
Afterwards, Mary was able to describe the plates in detail. John C. Whitmer, her grandson, reported that he himself had heard his grandmother tell of this event several times. He summarized her experience as follows:
“She met a stranger carrying something on his back that looked like a knapsack. At first she was a little afraid of him, but when he spoke to her in a kind, friendly tone and began to explain to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house (that is, the translation of the Book of Mormon), she was filled with unexpressible (sic) joy and satisfaction. He then untied his knapsack and showed her a bundle of plates, which in size and appearance corresponded with the description subsequently given by the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. 

This strange person turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them; after which he told her to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer, promising that if she would do so, she should be blessed; and her reward would be sure, if she proved faithful to the end. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell.”

Five of Mary Whitmer’s sons became official witnesses of the Book of Mormon. (as part of the experience depicted below)

The prophet Joseph Smith shows the golden plates to the eight witnesses
Oliver Cowdery, one of the Three Witnesses and the principal scribe during its dictation, baptized her into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Seneca Lake on April 18, 1830, when the church was less than two weeks old, and he married her daughter, Elizabeth Ann, in December 1832. 

The Whitmers gathered to Missouri with the Latter-day Saints, and there Mary died at 78 years of age in 1856, still a faithful believer in the divine origin of the gold plates and the book that had been translated from them.
According to Jesus, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:16). Plainly, the Lord still follows this pattern, and Mary Whitmer can justly be counted the 12th witness to the Book of Mormon.
The Whitmer Farm Chapel
Today there stands a Latter-day Saint Chapel close to the Whitmer Farmhouse  - a testament to those early Saints who struggled and often suffered for the gospel's sake.

- Taken from an article by Daniel Peterson, Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Go Speed Racers!

Each August our company hosts a company-wide picnic.  This year the picnic was actually held indoors at the K-1 Speed go-kart racing facility in Anaheim.

It was a lot of fun.

My co-workers
Derry, Bruce, Alan, Ana, Joe*, Juan, Walter, Sabrina, Edward, Carlos, Ulysses and Bianca
and three unidentified guys on the podium
I work with great people.  Surprisingly, out of six company offices, our Monterey Park location employees did very well as racers.  Perhaps we're just more competitive than the rest?

The karts are green, eco-friendly electric karts that can go up to 60 mph!

My little friend Ava came in 3rd in the kid's division!
Not bad, Ava!
I was thrilled that my little six year-old friend Ava (who has been featured on these pages before) placed third against some much older kids!  Way-to-go Ava!

Sabrina, Ana and Ivy
You go, girls!
These lovely ladies (above) are all in my office.  Sabrina is a marketing coordinator (just like me but with excellent graphic arts skills).  Ana is an engineer and Ivy is a planner and GIS specialist.

I really enjoy my co-workers.  They are a great bunch of people.

A good time was had by all!

*not his name

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Love Lock Bridge

The Art Nouveau Paris Metro sign
There is a wonderful quote by Amy Thomas in her book, Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light that goes like this:
I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you.  You search for answers. You wonder what it all means.  You stumble, and you soar.  And, if you're lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.
I've been fortunate to see Paris a few times in my life.  My friends Glenn and Angie also got to visit there this summer.

The obelisk at the Place de la Concorde silhouetted against the settting sun
...and as the l'heure bleu descends upon a bustling city of light, two American tourists check out the Pont des Arts, or, as it is now called: Love Lock Bridge.

Angie on the bridge
"Love Locks" are appearing in cities and towns around the world.  The idea is that you and your sweetheart attach a lock, perhaps with your names and initials written on it, onto a bridge.  You throw the keys into the river below as a symbol of your eternal love - a love never to be undone. 

A British newspaper credits this craze to a novel by Italian author Federico Moccia, who included a romantic padlocking scene in his 2006 book.

The Love Locks
 - from the L.A. Times
In Paris, the beautiful Pont des Arts footbridge was so weighed down by the thousands of locks attached to its sides that a section of the grillwork actually collapsed in June of this year!

You can see the temporary wooden panel over the missing section in the photo below.
The Damaged Bridge in Paris
- from the L.A. Times 
This rather weird tradition has already crossed the pond to New York.  Last year, New York City's rather unromantic transportation department removed 5,600 locks from the Brooklyn Bridge.  Yup, they just invested in some bolt cutters and went crazy.

Fearing bridge collapses, some European cities have also started to crack down on the love lock lovers, making it a crime to attach the love locks.  They are also using bolt cutters to remove them from the historic bridges they appear on.

So, what do you think?  Romantic gesture, or public nuisance?

There was no experience, I thought, quite as wonderful as being an American in Paris.
-Ann Mah