Monday, May 23, 2016

17th of May in Norway

This lovely cake approximates the red, white and blue crusaders' cross of the Norwegian flag
We're a week late, but Happy Norwegian Independence day!  May 17th is a special day in the country of Norway.

My second cousin Marit and her husband Jan
 The 17th of May is the day all the schoolchildren march in parades all over the country.  They are dressed in their Sunday best and all carry the red, white and blue Norwegian flag.  Those who have the national costumes, or bunad, wear them on this day.  In the photo above, my second cousin Marit shows off her beautiful Lier bunad, which is embroidered by hand with the apple blossoms of the Lier valley where my mother was born.  Her jewelry is also authentic Norwegian - with brooches of ancient design.

The Lier bunad was designed by another relative, Ruth Strand (My mother's cousin Willy's wife), and was accepted as the official bunad of the Lier valley in the 1970s.

Marit and her husband were just recently released from their service in the LDS temple in Sweden, where Jan served as Temple President, and Marit served as Temple Matron.  They are truly wonderful people.  They have a bunch of beautiful kids and grandkids.

Jan, Marit and a couple of the grandchildren
It looks like this year's celebration was sunny and pleasant.  I've attended May 17th celebrations in the past that were COLD and rainy!

Here (below) Marit stands with other women in their National dress - note the beautiful embroidery on the back of the bunad on the right.  Every one of these dresses follow established patterns from the valleys of Norway; every one of them is a work of art.

Other countries parade their armies, their tanks, and weapons of war on their national holidays, someone once said.  Norway parades and celebrates its children.

Cousin Marit and her family live in Drammen.  This is a lovely city about 40 minutes west of Oslo by train.
Cousins Matts and Jonas (Both my 2nd cousins once removed)
My Oslo-based first cousin Gro always has a full table for her 17th of May dinner.  I think of our 4th of July paper plates, paper napkins and hot dogs and cringe a little when I see how she's set her table for this fun holiday.

Cousin Gro Lene's table is set for company
My mother used to go to this kind of trouble for parties, too.  I think the gene for elegant parties missed me.

Gro took this photo (below) of the celebration in her Nordstrand neighborhood of Oslo:

The entire country shows up for these parades and mostly celebrate with hot dogs and ice cream.  It's a colorful, and peaceful holiday.

May 17th has passed, however, I do hope you have an opportunity for some terrific family gatherings this summer!
Cousin Gro Lene with my brother Jay

Monday, May 16, 2016

Introducing Mr & Mrs Evensen!

Nils and Rachel exit the Salt Lake Temple as husband and wife
My nephew Nils is a new husband!  He and his lovely Rachel were sealed for time and all eternity in the LDS Salt Lake Temple on Saturday.

The iconic Temple of Salt Lake City in the spring
The Salt Lake Temple figures large in our family history.  Nils' grandparents and great-grands were married there.  (His parents were married in the Seattle Temple as Nils' mom's grandfather was a Sealer there at the time, if I remember correctly.  That's a lovely temple, too.)

The weather complied beautifully.  It had been raining buckets off and on for weeks before the wedding, but luckily, the sun came out on Saturday to aid in the picture taking.

On the temple grounds as newly-weds
I heard 70 couples tied the knot there that day!  It gets rather crazy in May.

The reception that evening was a lot of fun.  All sorts of friends and relatives came to congratulate the pair.  There was a huge crowd there.
Stepmom Merlene (standing) and Nils' second cousin Caitlin
My cousin Maribeth was there with her husband and daughter from Logan.  Caitlyn and her dad were taking off for Peru the following day.  They are visiting Machu Picchu and other historic sites in the lands of the Inca, celebrating Caitlin's recent graduation from college.  (Sounds like the trip of a lifetime!)
Cousin Maribeth, Merlene and Maribeth's husband Alvan
Also on hand was a dear old friend of Nils' dad's.  Jay and Paul grew up together in Phoenix.  Paul came by with his wife Ann.  I have fond memories of Paul's mother, who is a fabulous musician and gave me my only lessons on how to play the organ many years ago.

Merlene with an old friend from Phoenix: Paul and his lovely wife Ann
I'm grateful that Merlene sent me the random photos of the reception!  I'm sure more photos will surface in time.

Rachel and Nils are boarding a Disney cruise ship in Florida as I type this.  They are off on a Disney cruise of the (real) Caribbean!

Sounds like a fabulous honeymoon for two really great young kids.

I wish them all the best.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Jack's Fort

I realized one day that Jack has essentially made himself a fort at the end of the living room sofa.  He has carefully set up the pillows all around him.  It's a little cat-size comfy place.

He will retire to his comfy place in the early evening, waiting patiently for me to go to bed.

If I stay up too late, he will begin to poke and prod me into retiring.  He is very strict, this petit chat gris.

I may begin calling him 'His Eminence'.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends.

Friday, May 6, 2016

My Little Jack

My little boy sleeps soundly on my lap
It's been a while since I've posted about my kitty.  My little Jack is such a terrific companion. I sure love him.  He's taken to our new apartment very well.

He sometimes hangs his head over the side of my legs.
I think he's watching for bugs.  Because you never know.
He sleeps with me at night, enjoys hanging out with me in the evenings, and plops into my lap in the early mornings when I'm having breakfast and getting ready for work.

He enjoys tummy tickles, and also gives excellent hugs.

I love my little boy.

May you be blessed with such a loved one in your life.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tiffany (background), Brian, Carlos and Ivy at one of the three stations set up with food

Today our company had a Cinco de Mayo potluck.  Our pot luck luncheons are always top notch. There are so many different people in our engineering firm, from so many different cultures, that the food is always a surprise and a delight.

Today was no exception!
One table had everything from Mexican casseroles and crispy tortillas to ceviche
It all began with a couple of email blasts to the employees at 9 a.m.  We were alerted to the fact that there were TexMex scrambled egg casserole and warm churros in the kitchen for breakfast.  They were really good!

From there, we segued to lunch around 11:45 a.m.  There was so much good food!  We had to lay everything out at three different stations in the kitchen.  (I suddenly realized I forgot to take a photo of all the goodies in the Conference Room!  There was a large platter of huge cocktail shrimp in there, as well as all kinds of Mexican beverages in huge containers - horchata, tamarino and other delights.)

Desserts included a beautiful bundt cake,
 but there were also taco fixings and salads to be found on this table
Our engineers like to eat! (Okay, I do too!)  It's fun trying all the different goodies.  We have a large percentage of Asian employees, too, so they bring fun things from their culture as well.  You never know what you might end up with on your plate!  I saw everything from tamales to Chinese noodle dishes.

It's hard to see, but here we have Carlos, Suria, Tiffany,
Ivy and Brian filling up their plates
Our luncheons are always enjoyable.  People often go to lots of trouble and expense with their dishes. It's certainly more fun than the usual sandwich I pack along for lunch!

Someone even brought an elaborate chafing dish.
Carmen's spicy chili rojo was in the crock pot on the right
Carmen is known for her delicious salsa.  Today, she not only made salsa, but a mean chili rojo. That's a meat dish with chunks of beef in a red chili sauce.  It was very spicy and quite delicious!

We gathered in the Corporate conference room to eat.  For a while, intent on our food, no one said a whole lot.

Enjoying lunch around the conference table
They take out the big, executive chairs and bring in smaller, office chairs so we can scoot more people around the table for these events.  They even brought in a smaller table today, to accommodate the crowd.

Joe smiles as everyone else tries to ignore the lady with the camera
There was so much delicious food, and plenty of everything. I really enjoyed everything I put on my plate.  I believe we were all happy campers!

Edward, Juan and our company President, Jimmy, enjoying lunch
Several of our younger engineers complained that the plates were too small, so they were forced to go back for seconds.


I'm on to you.

For dessert, there were more churros, bundt cake, chocolate-walnut brownies and these adorable little cowboy hat wearing cupcakes.

Cute little Cowboy hat wearing Chilis decorated the cupcakes!
Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Writing on the Wall

Judy and David busy at work
What do you put on a long, blank wall above your bed?  In earthquake country you think twice about that. No heavy thing should go up there, for sure.  But what should it be?

I searched for a long time before I came upon the perfect thing.  A stencil.

Missionary duties are varied!
It was hard finding the right message, though.  I considered Disney themes and various Biblical quotes.  One day I happened upon this text:  "All I have needed thy hand hath provided, great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me."

I began to cry.  I thought of how the Lord has lifted and sustained me, particularly through the last twenty years, through all manner of difficulties. I knew it was the text I wanted on the wall.

So, I purchased it and tucked it away for awhile, as it seemed a daunting task to get it on the wall correctly by myself.

I didn't know where the text came from, but through some simple research discovered it was from a poem written by a man named Thomas Chisholm.  He penned this poem in 1923 about the goodness of God over his lifetime:

Great is Thy Faithfulness
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

The stencil looks nice over my bed.
And it won't fall down and kill me in an earthquake!
It's funny, but the framed art photo on the left is from the same time period as the poem.  My newly-wed grandfather purchased it from an art shop in Oslo in the early 1920s because, he said, he thought it looked so much like my grandmother.

Putting the stencil on the wall seemed like a tricky task for one person, so I waited until I could enlist some help for the effort. Last night the lovely missionary couple serving in our Ward, Elder and Sister Allen, came by and it didn't take much coaxing for them to put the stencil on the wall for me.  Bless them! It was a fun evening.

I am delighted with the results!

The Lord truly does bless us in myriad ways.  I'm grateful for the good people in my life.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Annika is One

My niece and her little cub, Annika
Our little Annika turned ONE on tax day last month.  It's nice to have a big event to remind one of a birthday.  It's rather hard to forget April 15th!

Annika has already had her first date.

He seems like a nice boy.  He let her drive, after all!

They grow up so fast...

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tulip Time In Oregon

Desiree's Tulip Pots
Okay, I'm late with this one.  Tulip Time has technically passed, but I have been a slug about posting anything for the past few months, and I'm trying to make up for it.

So there.

Desiree, my Oregon correspondent, writes that her pots popped up with Hyacinths in February, and in March came the Tulips in Easter colors!  You can see from the above photo she wasn't kidding.

Right now the Lily of the Valley and Columbine are probably in bloom.  We'll have to see them later, I suppose.  By July the garden will be going crazy with blooms of all kinds.

I asked for a photo of her kitty Rocky - a very macho kitty like my Jack - and I got this note:
I finally cornered Rocky in the bathroom to get him to sit still so I could get a picture of him.  He's a "lounger" ...
I also notice he's sticking his tongue out at his human mom as she's trying to take his photo.  He's a little character!

Rocky sticking his tongue out.  He doesn't like photos!
Under her young cherry trees, Desiree has planted Apricot Perennial Tulips.  I didn't know there were perennial tulips until I read her post and saw the photo.  They're pretty, too, aren't they?

Meanwhile, in other parts of her garden, the white and pink bleeding hearts were just beginning to bloom (in the back, below), while the Adder Tongue (foreground) are looking lovely.

Adder Tongues and Bleeding Hearts
I love the colorful names these beautiful flowers have.

Thanks for sharing this brief tour of parts of Desiree's Oregon garden with me.

Happy Monday!
Have a great week!