Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Bianca in the pumpkin patch
My three-year-old friend Bianca is turning into quite the beauty!  Here she is on a school trip for Halloween - visiting a pumpkin patch, and wearing a really cool spider hat - that she made -  on her head.

Teacher is helping Bianca hold a big pumpkin!
This is the fun part of Halloween; the part of Halloween that I love: kids dressing up, pumpkin patches, trick-or-treating.  The silly and happy part of Halloween that every American child should experience.

There was also a petting zoo!
Bianca got to pet the goat and the alpaca
Kids and animals have so much fun together.  It's great that Bianca's pre-school let's them have these experiences.

I think Bianca liked the bunnies!

There were also bunnies.
I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween!  Don't let the goblins get you!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Birthday Luncheon

Pioneer Woman's dishes are so charming and colorful
I love that big bowl!

Imagine my surprise when, on the Friday before my birthday, I walked in to my office to find a big, very heavy box sitting on my desk.  It was gaily wrapped and had a big sign on it saying "Happy Birthday!"

I opened it and to my surprise discovered it was from my co-workers Barbara and Carmen.  It was full of really cute Pioneer Woman stuff from Walmart.  I was so surprised!

Drinking glass and cutlery were in a beautiful teal color
There was a full set of cutlery, and one place setting for me - just perfect!

There was also a set of measuring cups.  I realized I had mentioned one day, in passing, how much I liked the Pioneer Woman line and wanted to get me those measuring cups. I've had the same beat-up tin measuring cups since forever.  These (below) are whimsically colored and have pretty designs.  I love them!

Barbara had listened, and marched right over to the store to get them for me.  That really touched me.

Later, the ladies in the office took me out to lunch at Ciro's, my favorite Mexican place. It is located in the area of Los Angeles known as Boyle Heights.  It's an area you don't want to be in after dark!  Ha!  However, they have the best avocado salsa in the known universe.

The waitress bringing Nikita her lunch
Ciro's has a great reputation, but it is a tiny place.  There were six of us, and they barely found room for us, pushing two tables together.

Ivy and Mengzhao
Mengzhao's birthday is two days after mine.  We went to another great Mexican place for that. But that's a post for another day.

My friend Barbara
I work with such great ladies.  They are just the best.

Carmen is a better cook than the guys at Ciro's... just sayin'
Here is the avocado salsa (below).  I could eat an entire meal of nothing but, like, a huge tub of that and chips.

Guacamole salsa.  I LOVE this stuff!!
Their spicy salsa (below) is good, too.  I like to combine the two.  I like hot salsa, but it has to have flavor and not just burn your mouth.  This stuff fills the bill nicely.

Regular Salsa
I ordered chicken and beef flautas (see below).  They came with rice, beans, guacamole and sour cream.  They were very delicious!

Flautas, rice and beans... with more guacamole!
A couple of the others ordered soup.  I forget what this soup is called (see Ivy posing with it below), but it looked delicious, too.  It has huge hunks of vegetables, and a huge chunk of beef, plus a delicious broth.  It reminds me of the soup my grandmother used to make.  You usually need an extra plate and a knife and fork, too, to eat it properly.

Ivy posing with her lunch
It is a very hearty soup.  It actually looks great, but I have to admit I've never tried it.  Barbara's (below) had an order of rice with it.
Barbara's soup
I was told you have to squeeze limes into the soup before you eat it.  Here is Carmen squeezing the limes into her soup:
Carmen's soup
Unfortunately the glare from the light fixture ruined this shot (below).  The sign on the wall says: Greetings from East Los Angeles!

Greetings from Los Angeles
What a lovely day this was.  I am so blessed to have great co-workers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Angel's In Heaven

Angel at 17
I received a note from my friend Desiree yesterday.  She wrote "Angel passed today and joined her Angels in Heaven.  She will meet me at the Rainbow Bridge".

You may remember Angel from many blog posts about Desiree's wonderful fairy garden up in Oregon.

Angel heading for the Rainbow Bridge
Desiree wrote further:
After I buried her in the Bonica Rose garden near her sister, Silhouette, I said a prayer.  Twenty minutes later a flock of Canada Geese flew directly overhead in two "V"s.
I think that was a fitting tribute to a sweet a loyal companion.

A flock of Canada Geese
Desiree continues:
 ... I thanked Angel for taking care of me for the past eighteen years.  She loved me through some of the hardest days when my back was broken and I could only lay in bed and pray that I would be able to walk one day.  She slept next to me and made me laugh!  I miss her and so look forward to seeing her again with God.

Where the Bonica Roses bloom
What a gift these little fur children are in our lives!  

Rest in peace, sweet Angel.

All in God's Grace

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nara, Deer Sanctuary

Beautiful Nara Park
The City of Nara, Japan, is unique in that the deer there are free-roaming and EVERYWHERE you go.  It's estimated there are 1,200 wild sika deer that have free range of Nara, and have been wandering around there for centuries.

Feeding the deer
The deer were once considered messengers of the gods, and when one encounters them, one bows.  Or gives them snacks.  I guess it works either way.  I've heard the deer will actually bow back.  That's cool.

George says the deer are quite aggressive, looking for food and literally prodding tourists into feeding them.  However, they are sweet and very tame, so they pose no real threat.

Petting the tame deer
Ever since I heard of this place, the notion of having free roaming deer throughout a city has delighted me.  The deer were demoted from being symbols of the Divine after World War II, but they are still considered National Treasures and are treated very well.

Tourists flock to the city, and I can certainly understand why.  I think the deer are beautiful.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Daniel and Olaf
My niece-in-law Holly took this photo of my sleeping nephew Daniel and his son Olaf over the weekend.

It totally cracked me up - mainly because I sleep that way, too!

Do you think it's genetic or something?


Hope I made you laugh this Monday.  Have a great week everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Cousin Elaine

Elaine Bard
June 12, 1943 - October 18, 2015

Elaine Elma Evensen Bard, age 72, of Vernal, passed away October 18, 2015 at the Uintah Basin Senior Villa. Elaine was born on June 12, 1943 to Clifford Hermand and Elma Elevena Peine Evensen in Durango, Colorado.

Since third grade, Elaine wanted to be a teacher, which she fulfilled for 37 years. Twelve of those years she spent at Kirtland Central High School where she taught English and Journalism. Those were very special years with very special students who year after year brought State and National Honors to the school in English writing contests, photography, and yearbook layout designs. She loved teaching and getting to know her students. Elaine enjoyed working with her students and seeing the lights click on when they grasped an idea.

She taught on the secondary level and finished her career at Utah State University Uintah Basin Campus. Her health kept her from teaching past 2005. She taught in Missouri, Utah, and New Mexico. Music, serving others, family and genealogy brought great joy into her life as well.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she served in various ward and stake callings. She also served a mission in the Davao Philippines Mission. Elaine loved her nieces and nephews and their children. She especially spent time with Karen's children. Her “ya a te en” niece, Tessa, was dear to her.

Oh, how she loved and adored her grandson, Andrew, who took many trips and enjoyed experiences with her. She is survived by her grandson, Andrew Clifford Bard, who is the love of her life, serving in the US military; brother, Ronald (Shirley) Evensen, of Provo; her favorite sister and long-time friend, Karen Christensen, Farmington, NM; and special friend Alice Heater, Avalon.

She was preceded in death by her son, Darren Bard; a brother, Val Evensen, and a brother-in-law, Brent Christensen.

Elaine's family is grateful to her friends and neighbors who so willingly gave their time, love, and other help during her years of health struggles. She thanks her Aunt Louann Evensen for being there at the various Wasatch Hospitals.

Elaine (in the blue dress) at 22
I will miss my cousin.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Birthday Celebrations

Ruby's is a fun place for burgers and milk shakes
For my birthday this year I was treated to a burger and a milk shake by my good friends Randy and Jana.  It was so much fun to see them and catch up!

I hadn't seen them in a very long time.

They are still as nice and as goofy as ever.  We talked nonstop for three hours.

Randy and Jana, posing

That's why we're friends.  Well, not just the talking part.  Also the goofy part.  Maybe equal parts goofy and friendship and gabbing.

Jana and I
Then, the following day - on my actual birthday, my kind neighbor George took pity on me.  He knows how I hate to spend my birthday alone, so he invited me to a yummy spaghetti and homemade meat sauce (my favorite!) dinner.

I'm so lucky!

I have great friends, huh?  (And I still get a party!  Stay tuned!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tokyo National Museum

My friend George writes:  The Tokyo National Museum is not a very large museum, as far as national museums go, however, each piecein the museum is exceptional.  They have definitely chosen quality over quantity.

I just thought I'd share some of these photos with little in the way of editorial comments.

The beauty of each piece announces itself.

This bird (above) has sung it's sweet song for millennia, during which time the little warriors (below) have been frozen in their pursuits for us to delight over.

I love the little people around the base of this urn!
What men or gods are these? ...
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

I'm always amazed at what ancient people accomplished without computers or any kind of modern technology.

They had skill, artistry, grit and determination, though, and with that they did marvelous things.

It's amazing how these colors are so vibrant about so many years!

The National Museum
As Keats once wrote:

When old age shall this generation waste,
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Largest Wooden Building in the World

Bishamonten, one of the Nio, watching over Todai-ji and its precincts
Todai-ji's Daibutsu-den Hall is the largest wooden building in the world.  The Buddhist temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the historic monuments of ancient Nara, Japan.

Inside is the Daibutsu, or Great Buddha (see dark Buddha below).  It is one of the largest bronze figures in the world.  It was originally cast in the year 746.

The altar at Daibutsu-den
In 2011, the Todai-ji Cultural Center opening to the public featuring a museum to exhibit other treasures from the many temple halls within the temple complex. There is also a library, research center, a storage facility and an auditorium.

The gardens are beautiful
Some of the structures on the grounds are open to the public.  Over the centuries, the buildings and gardens have evolved into a unique and organic and living temple community.

Here is the great Buddha, the Daibutsu or Todai-ji:

Daibutsu of Todai-ji
Just to give you some idea of scale: The statue is over 49.1 feet high and consists of 437 tons of bronze and 130 kilograms of gold.  The face of the Buddha is 17.5 feet high.  The eyes alone are over 3 feet tall!  He has 960 curls on his head.

The halo which surrounds him is 87 feet in diameter and contains images  over 8 feet tall.

According to Wikipedia, they recently x-rayed the Buddha statue and discovered that a human tooth, along with pearls, mirrors, swords, and jewels were hidden inside of the knee of the figure. These are believed to be relics of Emperor Shomu, the 45th emperor of Japan (701-756).

The Main Hall
There are two 28-foot dancing figures - guardians - at the great south gate protecting the complex.  These are from the 12th century and are called the Nio.  They were extensively restored between 1988 and 1993 by a team of art conservators.  Up until that time, the sculptures had never been moved from the niches where they were originally installed.

Komokuten, one of the pair of guardians in the Daibutsuden
The area is prone to earthquakes, so it is remarkable that these statues and structures have fared as well as they have.

The complex preservation project cost nearly $5 million.  It involved a restoration team of 15 experts from the National Treasure Repairing Institute in Kyoto.

The Main Hall
The Great Buddha Hall, or main hall, has been rebuilt twice after fire.  The current building was finished in 1709.  It is immense (187 feet by 160 feet!), but smaller than the original building which stood on this site.  There has been a temple on this site since the 700s.

The Kyoto area has 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shinto shrines.