Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving with the Office

Walter, taking a panoramic photo of our party, while Joel and Stephen look on
I love my co-workers.  There.  I've said it.  I enjoy them very much and am happy to come to work every day.

One KOA tradition, started many, many years ago, is having a Thanksgiving luncheon the week prior to Thanksgiving.

This year, instead of bringing food in, we opted for going out to Marie Callender's for lunch instead.  It was a lot of fun.

Gerry looks like he is sitting alone, but he isn't!
The food was yummy and good spirits ran high.

Danika, Carmen and Sabrina
Danika, smile at me!

These photos were taken on the sly, so some are better than others.  At least you get the idea of what it was like.

There were several tables and people seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Eric smiles for the camera as others are lost in conversation
Well, except for one person who had an unfortunate accident when the new, and very nervous, waitress dumped not just one, but two large, iced drinks down his back.

I didn't get a photo and names are being withheld to protect the innocent... and the guilty.

That part wasn't very fun.

Yummy turkey and stuffing!
The food was great, however.  We had our choice of traditional turkey, a chicken/broccoli pasta dish, or the all-you-can eat salad bar.

I believe most of us chose the turkey.

My only complaint was getting my piece of pumpkin pie sans whipped cream!  That was a sacrilege!
What is wrong with this picture?
This was the first of two Thanksgiving meals for me.

So you see, I am very Thankful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving

May you be able to enjoy this holiday with family and friends close by!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

An Heritage in the Lord's Service

These are my four nephews.  From left to right:  Daniel, Nils, Anders and Christian.

They are handsome dudes.

But more importantly they are intelligent, kind and good people.

They are men of valor and integrity.

I love them!  A Lot.

Daniel served as a Latter-day Saint missionary in Germany and Austria.  Nils served in Mexico. Christian is still too young  and Anders... he's coming home today.

This (below) is the boys' great-great-grandfather Nils.  He was the one who set the pattern on our Dad's side of the family.  He served two missions in his native land of Norway for the Lord. What's more, he served 'without purse or scrip'.  That's an old-fashioned way to say he had no money and no printed materials, like books and pamphlets, to help him.  He was a man of great faith, as was his wife.
My great-grandfather Nils (above)
This is my dad's family (below)

My dad, middle row, far left; my grandfather Axel, front right

My dad is in the middle row on the far left.  He served as a missionary to Norway, too. 

My brother also served as a missionary.  He broke with tradition when he was sent to the country of Sweden.  We forgave him!  (That is a joke.  He had no control over this.)

He sent me the selfie below last month:

He likes to play with funny settings on his camera.  This is supposed to look like a photo from the 1950s, and it succeeds very well!

Today Anders, my third nephew, returns from serving an honorable mission to the great state of Texas!

Anders, far left, attends a baptism
On Monday, my brother, Anders' father, wrote in his last letter to Anders:
Well, this is it. You have served faithfully for two years. You have blessed the lives of many people in Texas. I know this from the things you have told me and the photos you have sent. People's lives have been changed forever, and that would not have happened if you hadn't come on a mission. There is nothing better you could have done with your life the past two years. I am proud of you, son. I know the Lord is proud of you, too. I hope you feel the calm assurance of a job well done. 

I wish I could be there today as Anders arrives home and steps off that plane from Texas.  

There is nothing better than serving and helping our Heavenly Father's children wherever they may be in the world.

We currently have three young men serving our congregation in Whittier, California.

As they taught us on Sunday, I couldn't help thinking of my family's heritage of faith in God and service to His children.

Pickering Relief Society

It's something I'm very grateful for.

PS:  As I was finishing up this post, I got the word - He's HOME!

Elder Anders at Salt Lake Airport

Monday, November 23, 2015

Riding Rickshaw

My neighbor attests to the fact that Japanese Rickshaw drivers are amazing athletes! They are able to pull people around in their vehicles all day without complaint.

They also know their way around town well and at times can a be a good resource for information about the city they serve.

Rickshaws cater mostly to tourists these days, but there are locals who still use them to get around in, as they are much more maneuverable in heavy traffic than a car.

George had fun talking to these Rickshaw drivers.

These guys were not only highly physically fit, but they were charming representatives of their culture and city.

Seems like a crazy, but honorable way to earn a living.

Have you ever ridden in a Rickshaw?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jack is Helping

This is Jack.

He is helping me to box up some books.

He thinks the boxes are a fort.

He is also protecting us from evil monsters.

Oh.  Hi, Mom.  Just keeping us safe from scary monsters.

Have a great weekend, everybody!  And stay away from scary monsters!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meanwhile, Back in China...

Daniel and Livia in the Forbidden City
The Chinese branch of our family is settling into life in Beijing, China very nicely.  They do get to play tourists on occasion, as evidenced by the above photo of my nephew and sweet little Livia in the Forbidden City.

The photo below shows chubby baby Olaf in a rather bare apartment in the Capital city.  (Daniel says it's huge.)

Daniel with baby Olaf
I'm anxiously awaiting more photos of life in China, but they are slow in coming.  Daniel is busy with work and he laments that internet connections are slow at times.

I can't wait to learn more about life in Beijing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Kyoto Castles

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

Here are a few photos of some of the temples and shrines, that my neighbor George recently visited, and the beautiful gardens that surround them.

This almost looks like a peaceful caretaker's cottage (above).  What do you think?

The details of these ancient structures (below) are exquisite.

This (below) seems like an idyllic country scene.

I love how the pagoda (below) peeks above the roof line of the village.

Even the placement of the trees seems deliberate.

These structures have a fairytale-like quality.

I think the time of year (late summer/early fall) is just perfect in these photos.

An old covered bridge - reminding us that the winters can be hard here.

These zen gardens are so lovely.  Why do I have the urge to run through the sand and leave my footprints behind?  I'm such a brat.

Someone has taken the time to rake these so beautifully, leaving no trace of themselves behind.

Have a peaceful day!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Whittier Community Theatre does an excellent job portraying this classic dramatization of a young girl's diary, the story of Anne Frank and her family.

The cast of Diary of Anne Frank
Anne Frank and her family hid in the attic of an Amsterdam business building during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

The theatrical version of this story has touched audiences world-wide since its premier in 1955. Now, 70 years after the end of World War II, it is more meaningful than ever.

There are only two performances left: 
Friday, November 20th, and Saturday, November 21st, at 8 p.m.  
Ticket prices are $15 General Admission, $12 for Seniors (62 and above), Juniors (under 18), Students and Military with current ID.  

Call 562-696-0600 for reservations.

Don't miss this gem. The Diary of Anne Frank is a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming odds.

P.S.  Help the WCT feed the less fortunate this Thanksgiving by bringing a non-perishable food item to the basket in the lobby.  If you do, you will receive a free goody from the snack bar at intermission.  All contributions will be donated to a local Whittier food bank.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hiroshima Peace Garden

Perhaps it is appropriate that I post this today, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and other places around the globe.  These are the gardens of the Hiroshima Peace Garden and Museum in Hiroshima, Japan.

The Children's Peace Monument
This area was once the political and commercial heart of the city.  After the bomb, it was a wasteland.  Four years after the bombing, it was decided that area would not be redeveloped, but instead devoted to a memorial dedicated to the victims and the promotion of peace in the world.

The Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
There are two main buildings here which explain the history of Hiroshima and the aftermath of the nuclear bomb which was dropped on August 6th in 1945 at 8:15 a.m. and killed 140,000 people.

Many of those who died passed away from leukemia, one of the side effects of radiation from the bomb, many months after the bomb dropped.  

The stories told here are very moving.  

It's important for us to understand the lessons of history.

The Peace Memorial Museum
It is a quiet place for contemplation and thoughtful remembrance.  Some find it emotionally upsetting.  My friend said he found it sad, but also beautiful and peaceful.

In the scriptures we are commanded:
And again I say unto you, sue for peace, not only to the people that have smitten you, but also to all people; and lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation of peace unto the ends of the earth; and make proposals for peace unto those who have smitten you, according to the voice of the Spirit which is in you, and all things shall work together for your good. - Doctrine and Covenants 105: 38-40 

We have also been told that there will be no peace in this world except for the peace that Christ brings to each of us through His gospel:

Peace I leave with you, Jesus told his disciples, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, also admonishes us that true peace comes only through obedience to the commandments of God:
O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments!  then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.. - Isaiah 48:18

Friday, November 13, 2015

Guess Who Comes Home soon?

Elder Anders (right) and Elder Householder
Guess who is coming home in less than two weeks?  Yes!  Elder Anders!

After serving the people of Texas with honor, he is returning in all his earthly glory just in time for Thanksgiving!
I don't think he can believe it, either!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tokyo Skytree

The Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree is located in the Sumida district of Tokyo, Japan.  It's actually a broadcasting tower, but it also houses a restaurant and observations decks.

The tower is the primary TV and radio broadcast site for the region surrounding it.

It's very tall, measuring 2,083 feet in height. It has been named the world's tallest free-standing tower by the Guinness World Records people.

The tower is quakeproof, having a central shaft that is resistant to earthquakes.  It was designed to absorb 50 percent of the energy from an earthquake...

... which is good, because it's in earthquake territory!

Work on the structure began in 2008 with a groundbreaking ceremony and was completed in 2012. The first week it was open, 1.6 million people visited it!

There have been problems with chunks of snow and ice falling from the tower during the winter and damaging roofs of buildings in the neighborhood!  Apparently the jury is still out whether it was a good thing to build this huge tower in this neighborhood.  Many complain that it has brought little economic benefit to the area, despite record numbers of tourists.

In spite of this, it's really a rather incredible tower.

George took this really cool photo of Tokyo from one of the observation decks:

The View from the Sky Tree
I love that nighttime skyline with its contrast of dark and light.

Would you be frightened to ascend to the top of a tower like this?  It may be intriguing, but I think it seems a bit scary, too!