Friday, May 29, 2015

Morty the Dog

This is Morty the dog.  He was a much beloved dog, before his untimely passing from cancer.  A friend of mine shared this photo with me, saying it was a friend's dog.  He added that he loved this photo, as it showed Morty facing bravely into the wind, stalwart and unflappable.

Well, his spirit was unflappable.  His fur was madly flapping.

I found I immediately thought of Lionel Jeffries as King Pelinore in the musical film version of Camelot.
Lionel Jeffries
His whiskers had that same wild abandon.

Here's to our beloved pets - the Mortys of life - who give us joy and unconditional love - and sometimes make us laugh and smile.  They often show us amazing courage and faith in their short time here on earth. 

Rest in Peace, Morty.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Meet Olaf!

Olaf Louis
Meet the newest member of our family, Olaf Louis.  He was born last night L.A. time (actually 12:47 EST May 28th) to my nephew Daniel and his beautiful wife, Holly.  He's a big kid, weighing in at 8 pounds 1 ounce, and he's a tall kid at 21 inches long!

He joins the other new member of our family, Annika Linnea, who was born to my lovely niece Linnea and her husband Jeff on tax day, April 15th.
Annika Linnea

Little Olaf has a big brother and sister at home who are excited about meeting him!

Olaf's family: Dad Daniel, big brother Fred (almost 6), Livia (4) and Mom Holly
I love how the family is growing!  We have been so blessed.

Babies are wonderful.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I Nominate - Mary Beth!

Mary Beth and her husband at a Stake Valentine's Dance
When I heard about the new Chobani Flips #BreakYouMake project, I immediately thought of my friend Mary Beth.

Yes.  That Chobani.  The ones with the yummy Greek yogurt.

The idea of this promotion is to nominate someone you know who truly deserves a break.  Mary Beth is one of those terrific people who is difficult to describe in a few words.  She's simply a wonderful lady.

Does she need a break?  Totally.

Mary Beth at a recent birthday party
Mary Beth was a stay-at-home parent, then began working part-time at her children’s school as they got older.  She and her husband’s decision for her to be a stay-at-home mom was a difficult one.  Living in Southern California it’s hard making ends meet, even with both parents working.  To have one parent stay at home means all kinds of sacrifices, such as her husband riding a bike to work so Mary Beth could have the car for the children’s needs, growing her own vegetables, or wearing hand-me-down clothing instead of buying new.

Mary Beth and her husband discuss his five years serving as Bishop of our Ward
as Elder Allen (far left) looks on
I’ve never heard Mary Beth complain. Once the decision was made, she put a smile on her face, tightened her belt, and made it work.

Mary Beth and Dan celebrating the marriage of their beautiful daughter, Marisa
(Her three sons are standing on the right)
When her husband was called to be the Bishop of an LDS congregation, or Ward, six years ago it meant more personal sacrifices.  Dan works full-time as an engineer, and the new church calling meant long Sundays at church, and several evenings a week away from his family.  It meant the phone ringing off the hook daily – mostly with calls from Ward members with problems to be solved.

Mary Beth and her mother-in-law Evangeline
Mary Beth bore all this with a smile and a kind heart.  She was an exemplary help-meet for her husband during his five years of service. (He was recently released and is now a Sunday School teacher for the youth.)

Mary Beth has served faithfully in many different church callings throughout the years.  She is now serving as the Stake Primary President, a position that oversees the LDS children's program throughout the city of Whittier where we live.

As I searched for photos for this blog, I noticed most all my photos of Mary Beth were of her participating with other women from our Ward in friendship and kindliness.  I don't think I've ever seen her in a bad mood.

Mary Beth surrounded by friends at the yoghurt shop
Mary Beth has always been one to step up and do kind, thoughtful and helpful things without provocation.  She’s the woman who shows up at your door unannounced with a pan of cinnamon buns, just because she thought you might enjoy them.

This same woman fought a battle with her health - a little extra weight - and won - by announcing, "It's just a behavioral problem!  I can conquer a behavioral problem!"  

And she did.

(I have to admit I kinda sorta hate her for that!  Okay, I'm kidding.  Maybe.)

Mary Beth and Dan (on the left) amidst part of the cast of the Ward Roadshow
When the Ward put on a roadshow, Mary Beth got her whole family involved. Not because they had the extra time to do it, but because she thought it would be a fun and wholesome experience for her boys.
Raising their Lamanite swords high!
I heard she rehearsed her boys - and her husband - relentlessly so their performances would be excellent.  She succeeded.

Posing for a cast photo
Does Mary Beth ever take time for herself?  I have a feeling she is way down at the bottom of her own priority list.  While that's an admirable quality in a good friend, I know she needs a break!

I am reminded of Proverbs 31 when I think of Mary Beth.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Mary Beth and Dan welcome a new member, Lilya, to our Ward
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

If anyone needs a break, Mary Beth does!  Love you, my friend.  Thanks for all the good things you do without ceasing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day - Italian style?

Eastbound on Hollywood Boulevard at Vine
Memorial Day is a day for thoughtful remembrance of all those who have given their lives so we can enjoy our own lives in the way that is most pleasing to us.  I'm so grateful for the freedoms we experience living in the good ol' USA.

As I was sitting at home on Monday morning, bemoaning the fact that I had nothing fun to do and still felt rather rotten from a persistent upper-respiratory virus, I got a text message from my neighbor.  "Do you want to go to lunch at 1 pm?" it read.

Yes, I did.  However, I was quick to point out that I was't feeling well and might be contagious.  

Miceli's of Hollywood has been around since 1949
My friend is a nurse, and he didn't seem to mind.  So, I happily (albeit rather slowly!) got dressed and we took off for Hollywood.

Yes, Hollywood!  When you live in Southern California you can do that, you know.

We went to an Italian place known as Miceli's, a family-run Hollywood institution that's been around since 1949.  It's right off Hollywood Boulevard.  The Boulevard was packed with tourists taking advantage of the 3-day weekend!

Angel, age 6
To our delight, at Miceli's there was a little midget restaurant manager who made sure we were well taken care of.   Angel, who is six years-old, was very attentive to our needs.  I watched him making the rounds of all the tables in our area, solemnly asking the patrons if everything was okay.

What a cutie!

I'm not sure about the child labor laws aspect of this - but I'll bet the kid was having the time of his life in his cute little shirt and tie.  I'm also pretty sure he was having a much better time hanging with mom and/or dad at the restaurant as opposed to being with a baby-sitter.

We enjoyed his attentive service very much.  (I only wish my camera took better photos in low light conditions!)

Miceli's is an interesting place with a lot of old world charm.  The ceiling is festooned with empty wine bottles.  They are autographed with names and dates and some bear interesting slogans.

The colorful ceilling
This (below) is my neighbor, George.  He is exceptionally kind and always fun to be with.  I'm very glad he lives next door and doesn't mind when I have germs.

My handsome neighbor George
Oh, here (below) is the back wall of Miceli's.  I love the pizza-bearing Mona Lisa on the left.   It was quite dark in the restaurant, but you can still make out the pepperoni pizza Mona is holding.

Pizza!  So that's why Mona has that secret smile!  That made me laugh.

Mona Lisa with a pizza
Ray came along with us.  Ray was visiting for the weekend from Virginia. It was so much fun to see him again! Ray is a very handsome man, but he does hair shows and some enterprising hair stylist had recently made him a blond for a show.

He says he's letting it grow out a bit before he cuts it.  It was an interesting "look" for him. I won't say who it reminded me of, but I think a fake red nose and big, oversized shoes would have completed his ensemble nicely.  (Sorry, Ray!  You know I love you!)

A smiling Ray
The food was good.  I got a Vermicelli Putanesca that was a bit skimpy on the vermicelli and a bit overloaded with tomato chunks.  The sauce was excellent, however.  Those are Greek olives in there.  Yummy.

Vermicelli Putanesca
It was so nice to get off my death bed for a few hours and do something fun.  Even if I promptly went home and slept for a couple of hours!

A sniffling and coughing Yours Truly at Miceli's
I appreciate good friends.

I appreciate having a 3-day weekend.

I appreciate this wonderful country we live in and the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices of so many.  Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ice Cream Social

Evangeline, Karina, Keyla and Deonne chatting with Ellen B. (hidden on the right)
 It's always fun to get together with my Relief Society Sisters.  And, if there's Ice Cream involved, so much the better!

Yes, we all got together the other night to eat ice cream, share books, and make bookmarks.

Jessica chases after her little boy, Noah, while Adria works on a bookmark
It was a low-key activity.  We're a small bunch.  But it was a lot of fun.  We had the opportunity to talk a lot, which I really enjoy.

Laurel and Judie (standing) guided the bookmark activity
We also had the opportunity to make our own ice cream sundaes with all kinds of toppings, like fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate sauce, hot fudge and caramel.

Jeannie, Ellen I., and Mary Beth
I really enjoy these evenings with my Relief Society Sisters.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Norway in Full Bloom

My beautiful cousin Gro Lene with her hunk of a husband
According to a friend who lives there, it was a COLD 17th of May celebration this year in Oslo. They had to turn up the heat!  It sure looks beautiful, though.

The above photo is my cousin Gro Lene in her Norwegian folk costume, or bunad.  Isn't she lovely? She tells me her costume is from Telemark where her mother's family is from.  Beautiful!

(Remember the World War II movie, "The Heroes of Telemark"?  Yes, that Telemark.)

Her husband is also wearing a folk costume.  I think he's quite handsome in it!  Well, he's a nice looking man however you dress him.  I love my cousin.  I feel sad we haven't seen each other for umpteen years.

They were expecting guests after the parade:

Gro's table set for 17th of May festivities
I love that the table looks like it was done for a magazine photo shoot.  Amazing, isn't it?  This is how my mother used to do her tables as well.  This is how I was raised.

That made me think of my friends and our pending Memorial Day celebration.  As I looked at this table, I thought of our usual paper plates and plastic cups, forks and knives.

I think we Americans may have lost something in translation!  What do you think?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summa Cum Infans

Jeff gets his Doctorate with Annika in hand
Boy, do I love this photo (above)!  It's my nephew-in-law Jeff getting his Doctorate from George Washington University.  It's also his daughter, one month-old Annika's, introduction to the world.  

I love the expressions on everyone's faces.  What is it about babies that does that to people?  Isn't it wonderful?  Wouldn't it be great if we could bottle the essence of that warm feeling we get when we see cute babies and use it whenever we feel low?

Annika at the DPT Ceremony
Annika evidently went to all the graduation festivities.  Pretty cool for a NEW girl.  I hear she is extremely popular wherever she goes.

Annika at her Dad's commencement
My brother said he overheard someone talking about the "Class Baby".  I think that's adorable.  [When I first posted this, I wasn't aware that the Class Baby was a "thing" at GWU!  Apparently this is a tradition at the University.  Who knew?  - Well, now we do!]

Doctor of Physical Therapy and Baby of Inordinate Cuteness
No, he's not proud of that little girl!  Not at all.

The following day, the University's graduation convocation was held on the Mall in front of the Washington monument.  What a spectacular setting!

Graduation ceremonies are always exciting. This one, with such an historically significant venue seems even more so. The future awaits!

However, it looks like all the hoopla didn't impress little Miss Annika one iota.

Jeff, Linnea and baby Annika
But I see she was wearing her school colors for her first public appearance.  Way to go, Annika!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hurrah for the 17th of May

Red, White and Blue Norwegian Flags
Photo: Scandinavian Kitchen
You may ask what the big deal is about the 17th of May.  The answer is imprinted deeply into every Norwegian ex-pat and American of Norwegian descent's heart:  It's Norwegian Constitution Day!

This is a big deal in Norway.

Every child in the nation will march in a parade on this day, carrying a red, white and blue Norwegian flag.  The whole country is awash in red, white and blue on this day. People will wear their national bunad costumes, like this award-winning Lier bunad which was designed by my mom's cousin's wife, Ruth Strand:

The apple blossoms of the Lier Valley are embroidered on this beautiful dress
Photo: Norwegian Bunad
It's lovely and heart-warming. It's a celebration of the nation's children and the goods things in life.

I've been lucky enough to spend a few 17th of May celebrations in Norway.  It's a lot of fun.

The 17th of May parade in Karl Johansgate in Oslo
Every school has its own banner
Photo: Aftenposten
In Oslo, every schoolchild, from the youngest elementary schoolchild, to the college-aged, will march up Karl Johansgate past the Royal Palace.  The King and his family, with great royal good will and a lot of stamina, stand on the porch smiling and waving to them the entire time.

This takes hours.

The only break comes from the silly college-age kids and their pranks, and the school marching bands which are interspersed among the children from their school.

Then, everyone goes home to eat hot dogs with mustard, wrapped in potato tortillas, followed by some ice cream.

Seriously.  Everyone does that.

The King's Palace at the 17th of May
Photo: Norway's Official Website Abroad
 Looking for ways to be more Norwegian?

Here in the Los Angeles area there's a 17th of May celebration every year at the Norwegian Seaman's Church in San Pedro.

This is a true Norwegian 17th of May celebration at the church with a parade around the neighborhood, traditional Norwegian food (pølser, rundstykker, brus, bløtkaker, marsipankaker, og kaffe), speeches, and of course games and ice cream for the kids.

If you live in Minnesota, I'm sure it's even easier to find a celebration!

For 18 ways to be more Norwegian, check out this hilarious (and very true!) blog post from the Scandinavian Kitchen in London through this link:

Bløtkake with berries
Photo: Norway's Official Website Abroad

Have a great weekend, everyone!

For more information on the country of Norway, check out Norway's official website abroad:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

TBT: In the WayBack Machine

My Great-Grandfather Nils with his wife Margrethe surrounded by their children and grandchildren
For Throwback Thursday, let's take a little trip back in the WayBack Machine to the turn of the last century.

The photo above is of my father's side of the family.  You see my great-grandfather Nils in the middle.  He was originally from Ringasaker, Norway.  His wife, Margrethe, is next to him on the right.  She came from the Danish island of Bornholm.

They met in Salt Lake City, and eventually settled in the Mancos/Kline area in the LaPlata mountains of southwestern Colorado.

My grandfather Axel Hermand is standing in the back on the far right.  His wife Pearl is seated in front of him (next to Margrethe), holding my Uncle Clifford on her lap. Pearl was still a teenager in this photo!  She had married Axel at age 15 and had Clifford the following year.

Nils and Margrethe's daughters were Agda Kjersti, Evine Christine, Dagmar Constance and Hilda Margrethe.  The children in the photo are Agda and Evine's I believe. Nils and Margrethe actually had eleven children, but only five lived into adulthood.

My Uncle Wendell writes:
Margrethe had a happy home, even though Nils was very strict with the children. There, on the 17th of July 1895, twins were born to Margrethe, but they did not live. This greatly saddened Margrethe and Nils, making five of their children who had passed away in infancy. Nils took their tiny bodies to their old farm in Jackson for burial. On the way home he camped overnight among the pinions east of Red Mesa. There he unburdened his sorrow in prayer and pleaded for a knowledge of the reason why so many of their children were taken from them. That night he dreamed that he was at a large banquet. He was very busy waiting on the guests. The long banquet table was loaded with good things to eat. At the end of the table sat Christ Himself. When Nils approached Him, Christ told him that he would be waited on after awhile. Upon awakening Nils felt cheered and comforted.

Nils and Margrethe were faithful Latter-day Saints who endured many hardships in their lives. Through all their trials, they buoyed each other up and remained firm in their faith.  They both passed in 1939, having been married for nearly 60 years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

La Femme Nikita's... Birthday!

Ivy, Nikita and Sabrina
For her birthday celebration this year, Nikita asked if we could go to Bollini's Pizzeria Napoletana on Garfield in Monterey Park.  It's not far from the office, and the thought of Italian food made everyone immediately say, "Yes!  Let's go!".

Checking out the menus
Veronica, Ana and Laura
I'd never been to Bollini's before.  It was charming on the inside and packed with a boisterous luncheon crowd.
Sabrina and Yours Truly
It didn't take me long to peruse the menu. I was in the mood for pasta.  So were others in our group.  Veronica and Ana ordered a pizza to share.  It came out first, looking hand-tossed, crispy and totally yummy.

Our waiter was a nice guy.  I'm surprised he heard any of our orders with all the ambient noise from other diners.  It's a noisy place.
Our waiter
When our pasta orders finally arrived, I was delighted that my pasta carbonara was served with the egg on top!  You can't see it in the photo, because I had already mixed it into my pasta before I remembered to take a picture.  But it was really authentic carbonara, guys! Pancetta!  Peas!  Silky sauce! Really yummy!

My pasta carbonara
I'm not sure what everyone else ordered, but when they saw me get out the camera, they showed me their dishes:
Laura ordered what looks like a spaghetti dish
Everything looked very tasty.  After the photo op, we all attacked our pasta with great gusto.
Sabrina chose penne pasta in what might have been an arrabbiata sauce
Someone at the table next to us was also celebrating a birthday.  The balloons lent a festive air to our corner of the restaurant.
Birthday Balloons at a neighboring table
We always enjoy going out together.  I love these good women.  They are a joy to work with.

Veronica, Ana and Laura posing prettily
Hope you had a great birthday, Nikita!  It was fun celebrating with you.