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My nephew Sam sent his friend Flat Stanley for a visit. We've been having fun hanging out in Fresno and also driving to other parts of California. You can check out our adventures at tumblr.

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Recently, I took two of my nieces to San Francisco for a weekend. They have become experts on Korean pop music--mostly from reading tumblr blogs and watching videos on youtube--and their enthusiasm was infectious. They spoke with confidence about the companies that produce K-Pop, the bands, the cultural practices unique to this genre of music. Needless to say, my newfound enjoyment in Korean pop is linked closely to my love for my nieces . . . but I find that I also really enjoy its dance/movement and stylistic choices. Here's one of my favorite videos that my nieces introduced to me:

We listened to bands like Super Junior, 2NE1, and Big Bang all across northern Nevada and as we descended into San Francisco. We also went to the closest thing we could find to a Korean section of the city, namely Japantown. Oddly enough, I'd only driven through that area, never walking around the plaza, streets, or malls that are in that part of town.

The highlight of the entire trip proved to be lunch at a place called Seoul Garden. My nieces really wanted to try Korean barbecue and this restaurant proved to be a great introduction. We chose bulgogi (beef) and we all really loved it and the banchans that are served with each Korean meal, yes, even, nay especially, the kimchi. We also enjoyed the process of creating ssam: extracting the meat from the grill on our table, placing it on a big piece of romaine with some of the banchans, and then creating a packet of meat/veggies that we ate by hand. It was a fabulous meal.

If you'd like to know more about Korean barbecue, you might watch this Eat Your Kimchi video which features a pork version (start at about 2:25 if you want to go straight to the food portion of the video). You could also watch the series The Kimchi Chronicles on Hulu to learn more about Korean cooking.

Seoul Garden

1655 Post Street

(inside mall, second floor)

San Francisco, CA

This year I celebrated Christmas with my family for the first time in a few years. I didn't take many photos but here are a few, including my mom in her Norwegian sweater and the family enjoying Rachel's Beatles Rock Band.

Dad and Mom
Dad and Mom
Mom and I
Mom and I
Kathee and Diane
Kathee and Diane
Jim and Addie
Jim and Addie
Beatles Rock Band: Rachel and Jim
Beatles Rock Band: Rachel and Jim

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This Christmas season, I've been reflecting on a couple of whimsical family traditions my family has.

  • My dad saving all the gifts he buys for my mother so that I can wrap them
  • The gift without a label that my dad always says must be his--and it is . . . because he buys it for himself
  • Aunt Rosie's punch, frozen orange juice and sugar crushed and mixed with 7-Up
  • My mom's willingness to have a turkey again if we want it . . . and something else if we don't
  • The Christmas afternoon movie we usually go to
  • The punch lines my brothers and I repeat. Sample: It almoht Cwitmat! (yeah, I know, that means nothing to you if you're not in my immediate family)
  • Our favorite Christmas song: Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence singing "That Holiday Feeling" which I'll share with you. Merry Christmas!

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If you've been reading my blog, you know that my grandfather passed away in June. As we were going through his things, we found photo albums which chronicled his 98 years of life. I enjoyed going through the photos, seeing the pictures that had meant something to him over the years. I looked at pictures of relatives I couldn't identify, but also pictures of aunts, uncles, and cousins; places my grandfather had visited; pictures of my grandmother who we lost in 1994 after a long bout with Alzheimer's disease; photographs of my parents and siblings. Here's a photograph I especially love of my parents and grandmother in 1980. I love how happy, beautiful, and young my parents look. I love the mischievous look on my grandmother's face.

But this is not another entry about my grandfather, it's an entry about . . . my sense of style. In grandpa's photo albums, I also encountered a number of pictures that reflected something important about me; to use my family's word, I love to wear "garbs." You may ask, "What is a garb?" The best example that comes to mind is an outfit which combined my brother's hand-me-down, button collar, brown plaid shirt; a blue calico cotton skirt that served as a costume for a pioneer day parade; and pink, fuzzy, knee-high socks. In other words, there are days in my life that I don't care what I throw on, as long as I'm comfortable. Generally, I know enough not to leave my house dressed in a garb. And my adult garbs basically take the form of wearing my favorite pair of shorts (or velour sweat pants in winter) every day, all day until I leave to run errands, teach, or meet friends.

In one of the pictures in grandpa's photo album, however, I'm in Cornish at my grandparents' house . . . and I'm wearing a garb. Outside. Where anyone can see me. Admittedly, it's 1974 and fashion faux pas abound. My brother Dave is wearing plaid pants. Jim's dressed all in red and has a funny look on his face. Ted looks normal (although he sits apart from the rest of us foreshadowing how, just a year later, Ted would stay in Utah to go to college while the rest of the family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), but my mom and Matt are covered up enough that who knows how well their clothes match. And me? Look closely. Does this outfit work? I'm wearing a knit top, plaid cotton seersucker (yes, that's right, seersucker) bellbottoms, and scuffed waffle stompers (as we called them in Utah). Yes, I'm sartorially blessed. Don't send the fashion police or "What Not to Wear" to my door. I know how to put an outfit together.

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Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my grandpa and grandma on their farm in Cornish, Utah. My dad tells stories about thinning sugar beets, but my memories revolve around alfalfa and cows. I liked watching Grandpa and Dad herd the confused and recalcitrant cows into the milking area. The milkers were strange looking contraptions with rubber tubes that attached to the udders then squeezed rhythmically as the milk fell into the metal container below. Grandpa would then pour the fresh milk into a large vat in which the milk swirled around, stirred by a metal paddle. Every so often, he'd give us a ladle of milk fresh from the vat . . . or we'd drink the creamy milk as we ate my grandmother's banana nut bread. Grandpa, dressed in his pinstriped overalls, was also an expert at "pitching kanuch," at least I think that's what he called shoveling up the cow's excrement. He was a small man but a hard worker.

In later years, I watched my grandfather at my grandmother's side as her health failed due to Alzheimer's. Grandpa sold the farm and moved into Logan, so he could visit her each day at Sunshine Terrace. I remember how lovingly he interacted with his wife, whom he had known since childhood, even though she no longer recognized him. Still, the residue of their love must have left some trace, as Grandma responded to him so positively. At times, Grandpa missed her so much that he would silently weep as he sat beside her bed. I suppose these images will always typify love for me.

After grandma passed away, my grandfather spent a number of years living on his own in his little house in Logan, Utah. When I was in town, it was always enjoyable to visit him and hear his stories--Godfreys are great story tellers and laughers. My grandfather's gentle kindness always characterized our interactions.

More recently, he'd been living in an assisted living center. Every so often, I'd go to the center to eat lunch with him. He had a table full of friends that he liked to eat with . . . but when I visited, he'd forego that pleasure to sit with my parents and I. More regularly, we would visit him in his room and tell stories. I'd ask him about farming and he'd describe tractors and hard work. He'd tell stories about his youth, the depression, the childhood of my father, and his career as the school bus driver in Cache County. He'd offer me the chocolate that he could no longer eat because of diabetes.

My grandfather's life was full of simple pleasures and joys: pride in his children, the satisfaction of work well done, the love that he felt for his family and friends, the faith that was such an important part of his identity. My life is richer for having loved and been loved by him.