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[Comments] (1) nightly ritual: Every night, after Dalton is in bed and Maggie is close to bed, she wants to play Handy Manny with me. This usually consists of me being required to find some household article for the tools to fix, while Maggie takes turns giving the tools a ride on her back. Because, when we play Handy Manny, Maggie inevitably turns into a horsie named Bullseye.

[Comments] (3) got milk?: Sigh. I don't think I'll ever get the hang of pouring milk from a bag. And for someone who hates waste, this is extremely frustrating.

[Comments] (6) living large: What did I do today at work? Let's see. I went to lunch at Sunny's with Ross, Alan, & Brad. I judged a cheerleading competition (in which my subarea won but I was very impartial). And I passed out bonus awards. Quite a day.

Firstly, the cheerleading competition. What a spectacle. One of the teams wanted to spray streamers and silly string. But since Silly String is not found here, they instead sprayed around shaving cream. Then another team was covered in some sort of talc. By the end the place smelled like a barber shop.

Then the awards. People hang them in their cubes here, which at first I thought was nice, until I realized the award amount is printed right on the award. I guess Indians are pro-salary transparency. Which also seems true because twice in Hampi complete strangers asked me my salary, which I refused to disclose.

Tomorrow is the big cricket match amongst the subareas. I'll be wearing white in support of my team--the West Vipers. It's alliteration because, much like Germany, India also mixes the v & w sounds.

Welcome to India!: Where a shave and a haircut really are two bits!

[Comments] (2) the back door in: Well, if I can't go to France, I'll just have to go to Colonial France. Pondicherry here we come! Save some foie gras for Maggie and some es cargot for Dalton!

[Comments] (3) the end of an era: My dear, sweet Grandma June passed away on the 12th of February at the age of 93. I'm really going to miss her.

A few memories I have include:

1. Spending summers with her when my mom had to travel for work. One summer I remember in particular was that my cousin Natalie had the chicken pox so Jodi and I both got it as well. I think I was around 8 and Jodi was 6. We sure missed our mommy but Grandma took good care of us. I don't know why I remember this, but one of my aunts wanted to check out Jodi's tummy for chicken pox, pulled up her nightgown, and Jodi was going commando because the pox were so itchy! My kids will never have such a memory, since chicken pox is now vaccinated. The summer trips always coincided with Pioneer Days in Lehi so we would watch the parade, attend the rodeo, and have a yard sale at the farm shop.

2. I remember riding in the back of my grandpa's old truck late at night somewhere, I don't recall where to, with those itchy wool blankets on us. Grandma loved those blankets (they don't make them, or anything, like that anymore now, do they) because when we re-did the cabin, she insisted on on those being kept. Life was simpler then so riding in the back of a truck was ok. We sure loved that truck.

3. I remember lots of sleepovers at her house, most notably with cousins Casey and Cameron. Grandma would make us chocolate malts, and we could have seconds or thirds if we wanted them. She would also let us stay up as late as we wanted to. We would usually watch Night Court followed by the Late Show with Carson. We always wanted to watch it to act grown up but honestly we had no clue what was going on. I still look at that old brown convertible couch downstairs and wonder how we all used to fit to sleep on it. We always wanted to sleep on the trampoline outside but Grandma wouldn't let us.

4. I lived with Grandma for two weeks before I got married while I was otherwise homeless at BYU. That was when Grandma first introduced me to Lawrence Welk. At first I had no love for the show, until I finally realized that Mr. Welk was one cool cat. He had all the ladies smiling!

5. Food at Grandma's was always an adventure. Let's see, there were the peanut butter tomato sandwiches, peanut butter miracle whip sandwiches (which I loved more than life but now get queasy just thinking about it), the coffee cake sans coffee, the chocolate cake with milk on top (something we ALL still do with chocolate cake!), and of course, cinnamon sugar toast for breakfast each morning. Also, when Nacho was living there, he worked at Little Ceaser's so we also got free pizza a lot. This was back when it was still pushing the pizza pizza thing so there was always plenty of cold pizza.

6. The frugality. Oh the frugality! I still remember when Grandma bought the car Jordan has now. She made Ford take the tape deck out of the car to save $40 or something like that! This was circa 1989ish, the year Jamie got married and the year we went with Grandma to Zion's. I remember we stayed at Motel 6 (where else with Grandma!) We had two rooms and Jodi and I slept with Grandma. The next morning, she had us make the bed. She said if we made our own bed there would be no need to tip the chamber maid that night. She also told me I sleepwalked outside that night looking for my mom. I also remember we loved to put the sprinkler on under the tramp and Grandma would come out and turn the water down, we'd sneak and turn it higher, and this was a neverending cycle.

7. Disneyland! I'm a disney kid, thanks to Grandma. Every fifth winter (ie 80, 85, 90, and 95) she rented a whole bus for the Holbrook's and we went to Disneyland! Of course we stayed at Motel 6, but still. I remember the 90 trip because my dad got really sick there so Jodi and I hung out with Scott and Michelle and Natalie and Cameron the whole time. I think I secretly wished Scott and Michelle were my parents a lot, and that Natalie and Cameron were my siblings. I thought they were so lucky to have their grandparents live next door to each other, across the street from their house. Also, that trip, one of Michelle's suitcases didn't make it on the bus so I also remember my mom and Michelle sharing wardrobes. The 95 trip saw me as an awkward teen, but we ruled the school and got to play in the park sans parents. Susie and I have grandiose plans to do something like this with our family as well one day (ie caravan to Disneyland, not rule the park).

8. The cabin. I will never forget that old cabin. I loved it. I also love the new cabin. Every time I think about moving from UT, I think of missing the cabin and decide against it.

9. Grandma was the first to meet Maggie. We drove all night from Costa Mesa to UT when Maggie was two months old for Mother's Day. Since we were exhausted we stopped in Lehi. Grandma would not let us leave. She and Maggie had a very special bond. Maggie loves puzzles to pieces because of Grandma June.

10. Her house. Words cannot describe. Rachel and Leonard stayed there after my MIL Frances's funeral and I don't think they'll ever be the same. The wallpaper, the washer in the kitchen next to the stove, the carpet, etc. That house is so vintage and I cringe at the thought of anyone else living there, unless Jodi gets it. My grandparents built that house when they were newly wed and settled into the farming life in Lehi.

11. In my later years, each of my aunts and uncles were asked to take a day with Grandma June. My mom got Monday. Susie went to visit Grandma more than anybody else. I was so touched at the way Susie loved Grandma. We used to invite Grandma to live at our house all the time when she was lonely. Grandma was laugh and say how sweet it was that Susie would offer her home when they weren't even related. But we were totally serious.

12. Also in her later years, I saw how lonely Grandma was. She was so excited for any visitor at all. She would insist on a restaurant as long as it had Coke. We could do McD, IHOP, Winger's, but not Wendy's because the line is too long and not Arctic Circle because they serve Pepsi. She made up her own menu items everywhere we went. One time we insisted on Cafe Rio and she kept saying she felt uncomfortable because the restaurant seemed like Mexico to her!

13. Our weekly visits to Grandma became pretty routine. Maggie would make a mess of the toy box, and Grandma would ask us to play her songs on the piano. We learned a new primary song, Purple Pansies, from Grandma that is not sung much these days but is now a favorite of Maggie's. Often Grandma would tell us that she was going to lie down and die and she would get the phone and put it on the piano so we could call the paramedics when she was gone. That got harder to hear each time, and I'm certainly glad that's not how it went down. I was at Frances's house when she passed and I didn't want to go through that again.

14. Weather permitting, we also used to take Grandma to the cemetery to visit her husband and my Uncle David, who died about five years ago. One time my mom got a flat tire there so we had fun giving directions to the AAA guy! We were there quite a while, all got sunburned, but loved the experience nonetheless. I'm sad Grandma died in winter; I shudder at the thought of putting her in the cold earth.

Well I'm going to miss the funeral, but we knew that was possible when we came to India. And maybe it's for the best. Grandpa Holbrook died when I was six, Grandma Chadwick when I was eight, and Grandpa Chadwick when I was 23. Due to my young age, I didn't know my other grandparents well. I was by far closest to Grandma June and I think the funeral would be hard for me. I'm happier to be away from it all. Incidentally, I'd probably get stuck as a pall bearer or something and I'd just rather not.

On a very personal note, we spent Feb 12-14 in Pondicherry on a little vacation. We decided not to take the computer so that if Grandma passed we could enjoy our trip. Because traffic in Bangalore is insane, we left at 4 am on Saturday (FR night in UT). Our driver called us at 4 am to let us know he was here, which woke me from a dream. I dreamed I was in India but I flew home to see Grandma. She was telling me how she just couldn't die. I told her about Susie's mom's experience, wherein she related that she also had a hard time dieing. Susie's mom said she finally had to accept the fact that, despite her independence the past 14 years, she felt like she couldn't die until Susie's dad Roy was able to come and get her. She said she finally accepted that, and she passed the next day. I told that story to Grandma, she said she felt that was the answer she needed, and she died in my dream. Seconds later, my phone rang to wake me.

I didn't share this dream with Susie until we got to Pondicherry Sat afternoon, as I wanted to mull it over first. I'm not a visionary person, not at all. But when I turned on the computer today, the email from my mom said that she spoke about/with Grandpa a lot the past few days, and I had this dream the about 15 hours before she died. I don't know what it means, other than I was thinking about her that night when I went to bed, but it means something to me I suppose. Susie says Grandma used to ask her all the time about her mom's final days, since we were all there with Frances up until the end.

Grandma would have no problem with Grandpa getting her. Grandma was a widow for 25 years, and I never saw her date once after he died. They were madly in love.

I'll miss Grandma, and I really don't look forward to telling this to Maggie tomorrow. We mailed her a package from India last week but I'm sure she never got it. I had asked Susie to mail a package a few weeks ago but oh well, she didn't. I feel bad about that. But the older I get, the more comfortable death gets. It's hard to grow up and lose people but that's just life. I remember when Susie's Grandma Rosie died, Frances said she was officially an orphan. With both my parents still alive, I get the sentiment a little now that all of my grandparents are deceased. I love you Grandma and wish all happiness.

25 mph: We left for Pondicherry (Pondy) at 4 am on Saturday the 12th to beat the Bangalore traffic and also to ensure the children were asleep for most of the trip. Our driver was accommodating. We made it through Bangalore in record time, including taking the 5 km toll road above the city through to Tamil Nadu. The first 110 km were a breeze on a four lane freeway with natural flowers growing in the middle lane. It reminded me of the 99 in Bakersfield.

The next 110 km, however, left us reeling. It was on a two lane national highway through some of the most beautiful scenery known to man. Palm trees in rice paddies, sugar cane fields next to quaint little villages, large mango trees creating a natural canopy over the road, with monkeys swinging from the trees. But enough about the scenery. The road literally left us reeling. An endless mire of potholes, each one bigger than the last. If I didn't know better, and I don't, I would swear that either WWIII is already done and over with, or aliens really did land, though not in Area 51, and brought a slew of meteors with them. What a mess. But luckily we were not in a hurry and none of us got sick. We all wore our seatbelts. The last 70 km were once again on a good road all the way to Pondy! There is also a town along the way with a famous temple and meditation house. We must have seen over 100 white people in this small town finding themselves. I was shocked.

Pondy was fun. A quaint seaside town, French-Indian style. Our hotel was awesome! There was a pool on the roof, 6 floors up, with beautiful views of the town below and in the distance the Bay of Bengal. While Dalton napped each day, Maggie and I played in the pool for hours. Susie couldn't believe how long we were gone. Maggie loved that she could walk in the very large kiddie pool and loved making the water splash over the edge. From the pictures, the edge looks scary but it wasn't. The only glitch here was that the pool attendant wouldn't let me wear my shirt in the pool, which I wear to save on sunscreen, which I didn't bring to the pool with me, which made me frustrated. But nonetheless, major daddy-daughter bonding time took place.

Food was included with our stay (though not drinks, boo to them) and it was high quality Indian food, the only kind I'll touch. They supposedly had international cuisine but all we saw were pasta with huge peppercorns. Italy would be so disappointed. But Italy wasn't there, since the hotel mostly catered to the French and snooty. They also played Yanni and muzak in the dining hall while wrestling played on the flat screen. Maybe that's the international cuisine. I knew once I saw our bathroom I picked the right hotel, as there was a shower door, no bucket in the bathroom, and an extra roll of toilet paper. A five star hotel with meals included for only $110/night. Only in India!

Our first night we let our driver sleep in the car park of the hotel (his choice, I offered him money for a room) and took an auto to the Promenade, the 2 km stretch of rocky beach in town, littered with the locals touting their wares, seaside cafes, and a mix of French and Indian memorials, including the biggest statute of Ghandi yet! He's everywhere, including every little town we passed through, but this one took the cake a la Marie Antoinette. We ate some pastries and visited a restaurant promising Italian ice cream. Who were they kidding? Since when does soft serve count as gelatto? But again since the place was packed with the Swiss and not Italian, it'll be our little secret. It was such a nice evening we walked home.

Sunday morning we headed 10 km south of town to a beach house on an estuary and took a $3 boat ride to a private beach. We saw flying fish in the water! The beach was fab. They had bungalows on the beach to get some shade. Apparently the tide is really bad all on the east side of India, and Pondy is the only resort town, and also the only place where you can actually get in the water. But still no swimming. And just to make sure, there was a gentleman on the beach brandishing a bamboo pole and a whistle for any non-law abiding citizens, of which there were many. The water was nice and cool to mix with the oh so hot sun and I was content to wade. We saw several crabs and posed for thousands of pictures. One man was kind enough to ask if he could post the pictures of us on Facebook. We don't mind.

I was concerned when we first got there since we were the only ones wearing swim suits. They don't exist here. Men either wear jeans and polos in the water or they strip and wear their underwear, which, when wet, leaves very little to the imagination if you catch my yucky drift. Women are more conservative and swim in their sarees.

Then it was back to the hotel pool and on to the promenade for another nightly stroll.

Monday morning we visited the handmade paper factory and bought the place out for less than $30. I guess when labor is cheap, the world is yours for the taking.

The drive home was ok. Maggie and Dalton both slept and so I was able to talk to Sandeep (I sat in the front to avoid car sickness) and also caught up on Anna Karenina on the Kindle. Sandeep was intrigued with my gadget. We got home at 9 pm last night. Then today was back to the grind.

Our pics are up at our picture blog. We leave for Hong Kong in two months!

[Comments] (2) Obituary: Link:

June Walsworth Holbrook 1917 ~ 2011 LEHI, UTAH - Helen June Walsworth Holbrook, age 93, died at home of natural causes on Saturday, February 12, 2011. She was born December 16, 1917, in Salt Lake City, Utah to Ralph G. and Mable Earl Walsworth. She graduated from East High School and the University of Utah with a major in Business. She was in the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and maintained her membership for 60 years. She worked on and off throughout her life as a secretary taking shorthand and doing bookkeeping. She met Ray Garn Holbrook at the "U". They graduated together the same year and were married on November 1, 1939 in the Salt Lake Temple. They lived in Lehi, Utah owning and running Holbrook Farms. He died December 2, 1987. She was a member of the LDS Church and served in the Primary and Relief Society. She typed the ward paper and the announcement sheet. She did temple work in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple and also worked in the Employment Center. She taught arts and crafts for Lehi City for many years. She was also a member of the Daughter's of Utah Pioneers. Survivors include children: Susan (James) Chadwick, Midvale; Stephen (Gail); daughter-in-law, Birgitta; Bryce (Sherrie); Scott (Michelle), Lehi. Also survived by sister Dorothy Brown Wetzel and brother Richard G. Walsworth. She has 30 grandchildren and 63 great-grand children. She was preceded in death by a son, David, in 2006. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 19, at 11:00 a.m. in the Lehi 2nd Ward, 500 East 300 North. Viewings will be held on Friday from 6-7:30 p.m. at Wing Mortuary, 118 East Main, Lehi and Saturday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the ward. Interment, Lehi City Cemetery.

the seventh day: Church was great today. I really enjoyed Elder's Quorum. We also attended the baptism of an elderly lady and a family with two teenage boys. The missionaries were all smiles today; I remember feeling happy on those days as well.

I got to be a witness for the baptisms, and I felt bad that they had to re-do the very last son twice. On the third time, another person performed the ordinance. I went and told the brother not to worry, that my first baptism took three times to get it right, and practice makes the technique perfect.

In Hong Kong we had the luxury of hot water, if the ward actually did their job and got the heater turned on in time. This happened about half the time, which is why I usually tried to pawn the actual baptism off on someone else. I don't do well in cold water. Here it's just always cold, and I felt bad for all of them. If they didn't pollute the streams here, that would be a much better option I would think. But I'm not sure how many people are fortunate enough to have hot water here, so maybe it's a moot point anyway.

Maggie witnessed with me, and made lots of comments about Tyler and Hannah's baptisms and how she'll get baptized, but first she'll turn seven and next she'll turn eight and then and only then. She asked me why these people were all older than eight so I explained it to her as well. Maggie loves church and asks thoughtful questions.

little ralphie: Susie is constantly telling the kids to stop their couch acrobatics. Fine, she says, when you fall and crack your head open, go cry to Daddy, she tells them. I'm not sure I've ever seen a head actually crack open. It must be a motherly thing, in the same vein as shooting one's eyes out. Hopefully Maggie and Dalton never want a Red Ryder beebee gun!

[Comments] (1) doing it wrong: Today I had to play a solo piano performance in sacrament meeting. I also had to teach Elder's Quorum. I must have done well today, because I was asked to teach Sunday School next Sunday.

Every time someone makes a joke and everyone laughs at church, Dalton bursts into uproarious laughter. Dalton has also learned his alphabet thanks to some movie we borrowed from the Erickson's. Dalton gets us up every morning at 7 am, which is very annoying, especially because he's tired by 10, when it's time to go to work.

Maggie is happy because we bought a flashlight at the store. Her new favorite game is to play shadow puppets on the wall with her Handy Manny tools. We tried to buy batteries for the flashlight until we realized that the flashlight recharges by plugging into the wall. It wouldn't be useful on a camping trip, but the society here is very battery-averse we've discovered.

Work is very busy and, just like in the US, I find myself counting down the days until April 15. We also leave for Hong Kong on the 15th. I can't wait.

I've been watching Hey Dude re-runs on youtube in the evenings, which would excite Jodi and make Nathan cringe. I am also reading a travel booklet about places I'll never get to see in China. It's taught me lot about the formation of the states into India, why there are border disputes in the north, etc. I've learned a lot about this country and wish I could see more of it, but travel to many places is still tough, as the roads are not proper and the trains and buses are too slow with the kids. I would love to glance upon the Himalayas in Darjeeling or visit the caves on Elephant Island in Mumbai or possibly even safari in Rajastan with the camels, but oh well. We'll explore the South and enjoy the Kerala backwaters, the Goan beaches, and the hodge podges of Bangalore.

Maggie turns four in 10 days. I keep telling her she can't turn four, and will have to turn two, Mork style. She disagrees.

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