31 December 2008

Holiday Fun

Happy Holidays, I can hardly believe they are about over. We have had a great time and have loved having Shelby home. She scared me yesturday when she passed out...She is fine, she just got light headed. But I thought I would share some of our holiday pics with the family. Savannah was wishing someone would post on the blog...So here goes. I hope you all had a great holiday! Love you and miss you!

12 December 2008

Jolly Holiday

If you haven't met him yet, you will. If you have met him, please be reacquainted. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! This is Dal Pal, signing in from the Deutchland, a la Allens. My holiday cards have been photographs the last few years, but seeing how I've been hampered with little-to-no stamp/post office abilities, I'm sending digital this year. The red bird is a symbol of prosperity, which I hope keeps you this coming year. I love all of you and will be anxious to squeeze on each and every one of your necks, next time I see you. Feathers and pecks (Red Fred's way of saying 'hugs and kisses')!


01 December 2008

on my christmas list

how long has it been since i posted poetry??? since ever, really. so i decided to write a poem

on my christmas list
is a brand new doll
to replace an old and forgotten one
a shiny bracelet
to match with my shiny necklace
a little toy angel
to put on top of next year's christmas tree
and last, but not least
the gift of peace.
world peace.

how do you like it??? i made it up, once again, 'on the spot', and i felt like getting out some poetry. so...hmmm...

26 November 2008

Missing You, Missing Tofurkey.

Thankful for all of you! Down to the very last gizzard!
Love feathers from the Arabian Sea...

24 November 2008

Use the Force... I think...

Sticking with Jones' "star-war themed title" I share the following funny, of this wk. I've started a sequence with the first *weapon* in kalari: LONG STICK. Um. Yeah. It's pretty much what it sounds like: me and my teachers grab these long sticks, a special kind of bamboo, and then we go about sparring with a crack-crack here and a crack-crack there, here a crack, there a crack, EVERYWHERE a crack-crack! Needless to say, I'm loving it. It's like my *jedi*/use-the-force light-saber training I did as a young boy, jumping on the trampoline, imagining myself as a Thundercat or with Luke and Lea is FINALLY having a place in this in the world. So, don't discourage young'uns that like to play swords,... they may very well use it someday. ;)

Anyways, Rajeef and I were sparring and it was during a morning practice. I stand at LEAST a foot taller than this wonderful, dark-skinned, white-toothed Indian wonder. As he is usually always laughing, once we get into sequences he is stone-faced and I follow suit: no time to smile while trying to kill your opponent.

The sequence lasts about 2 minutes, moving up and down the kalari pit. We lean towards one another, and with relaxed but focused energy send the stick flying and cracking more quickly with every practice. If you forget a move, there could be the unhappy incident of a sudden BAM to the head or shin or shoulder. Concentration on the here and now is important.

As we are sparring, I notice Rajeef is squinting and then dodging his head this way and that... the way someone would move their head if trying to move if sunlight were in their eyes. He was doing it often enough, that I made a small mental notice: an obvious advantage for me. But wait, we're in the kalari pit: there is NO sun shining in... what is he doing?

With a final CRACK we back away in lion posture and then stand and bow to each other, signifying the end of the sequence. Rajeef's glow-in-all-places teeth open in a wide smile and he points to the front of the pit where our clothes are stored, where the oil table is, and says:

"Dallas, you go use towel. You sweat. I cannot see. It get in my eyes."

Not only is the idea that one of one's personal body fluids (in this case, SWEAT) is FLINGING and FLYING around in wild abandon, hitting innocent passers-by without invitation, completely grossifying, BUT that it is also BLINDING them as well... well, that's just odd and sick. Sick-odd. Gross. Yuck. And stinky.

The truth (which some of you have heard from my typing finger-tips): I have NEVER sweat like I have here, during my kalari training sessions. I underscore past lines of text: I LITERALLY leave a trail of sweat on the clay floor and if I'm standing in one area for a few minutes, it begins to pool. Call me Swamp Thing. Call me Sweat Thing. But at any rate, for what happened between Rajeef and myself, I should be labeled with "thing" somewhere in the name.

Rajeef and I laughed for a few minutes. Danesh (the other teacher) as well. There is the now-standing joke that we are calling the weapon "sweat stick" instead of its ancient and proud, historical "long stick."

The moral of the story: sweating ON your teachers CAN give you a strategic advantage in your relationship to them. How do you think Luke actually ended up being able to take down his darkened, and plastic-made Darth-Father? You think it was the Force that actually allowed him to serve the final severing blow, do you? Or was it something else? Something more... "personal" ... something more "slimey"... But don't take my word for it. Skip to the chapter on your own DVD collection of that fitful but historical star-battle and see for yourself.

May the Sweat be with you...

17 November 2008

Elder Graham Squared! (You Gotta Read This)

Hey there family!
What an exciting and interesting week! As you now know, I am in Rio Bravo, working with Elder Moreno, he doesnt have to much on the mission. We are getting along great, and he is a real humble guy that has a great testimony – he just needs to share it better! But yes, we are working together in this rather large area, trying to have investigators in two branches, activating and reorganizing the registries (I am the secretary of my branch) and building and sharing the restored gospel. The Lord has blessed us a whole bunch, because we are striving to be 100 percent obedient, new investigators, friendly people, great lessons. Now its time to baptise.
You know that we had the awesome chance to visit the temple in Monterrey again, and give ear to two apostles of our Lord. We woke up at 3 in the morning to get there on time. Once there, I was in the presence of someone very dear to me – Elder James Graham. I saw him, he looks very much the same, and gave him a big hug. We were both pretty much speachless, in english and spanish. But we made our way into the chapel at the church building there, and by a little miracle I sat two seats next to my dear cousin. We sat and read scriptures, and I couldnt believe what was happening in that moment. Elder Neilson and Elder Scott wanted to shake our hands individually. Elder Graham and I stood shoulder to shoulder his arm wrapped around me, we waited until the moment when Elder Neilson shook our hands asking the question – are you two related? Elder Scott is short but powerful, and speaks beautiful spanish. We were instructed, then had us leave quite too fast. I said goodbye to Elder Graham, I couldnt record it because they told us we couldnt bring cameras. They didnt tell that to Elder James, so we got a picture! I also did see Elder Heftel, but I seriously did not recognize him until I looked at him for about 5 minutes. It was great to see everyone!
Then we headed home and watched an amazing cultural event that was held in Mexico City in a stadium called Azteca – one of the biggest staduims in the world! It was a phenominal event, and both President Monson and Eyering were there presiding. It threatened rain, but President Monson said yesterday that he said a prayer to God asking Him that it would not rain on the show. Everything went perfect. It went through the story of the Nephites and Lamanites, then through lots of history of the united states of Mexico, lots of acting and TONS of dancing – it was amazing, and I loved every minute. They also had a great orchestra and chior – and then the missionaries came out. I dont know if Elder Bamgartner was in there, but there were hundreds I believe. Thousands of people put a lot of work into that – it was a testimony booster. I love every seconed I get to hear President Monsons voice – because I know it is the voice of the Lord.
Then yes, we watch both sessions of the dedication of the Mexico City Temple. Wow. How blessed am I? To hear several talks by apostles and prophets. I was touched by the principles that were taught. I know how real the plan of Salvation is – every now and then hundreds of memories flood into my mind at once, and I know they are full of purpose. This life – it is so precious. And it is part of an amazing plan. I wish I could recount the experiences I have had this week – people finding purpose to their life and realizing the beauty and necessity of the Book of Mormon.
I now hold temples in the highest regard. I very anxiously await the happy day where Ill take my future wife there. We will be sealed. Even death cant stop it. I will be with my family.
I cant, cant express my love for every single one of you. There are always difficulties, always challenges, especially right now. But we´ve got our family. I seriously dont need anything else. I look forward to hearing your voices this upcoming month.
Yes, I am happy and healthy. This week was way to freakin fast. The past two days were a blur. Its getting very cold here. Its cold but there is no snow, just dust. Cold and dusty. Some sort of insect egg broke open in our house and literally flooded the floor with millions of gnats. I swept them up and made a disgusting pile. I breathed in gnat wings. I cleaned a bathroom that hadnt been cleaned in years, The streets flooded once again, saying hello to me. I lost my bike pedal and my one brake doesnt work. The back of my shirts are stained with mud flipping up onto my back. Our branch piano is so out of tune that its difficult to pick out the song being played. Me and Elder James Graham switched name tags! The dogs hate missionaries. Our branch president doesnt live in the branch boundries. Whew.
There are some facts about my life right now!
I love you.

11 November 2008

My New Glasses

I'm not really the one to post a lot, but my mom was taking forever on this!!! FYI, I got glasses yesterday and I was wondering what everyone would think of them. Heres some pictures to look at. (I also curled my hair so I might look really different there.)

03 November 2008

Lilly's New Past time

Lilly has taken up drawing. She loves it. I am not kidding when I say she will sit for up to an hour. I can't remember all my other kids and the age they did things, but I think 22 months is pretty young for such an interest. I might not remember well though. I bought her some washable markers and she goes to town several times a day. She takes it very seriously. She gets her face right down by the paper. I will have to scan some of her great work someday. It is really funny actually. We love it!

Halloween in Florida!

It was actually very much like Halloween this year. The weather was perfect. A little chill in the air. Not too much but for us it doesn't take much to get us excited! There was a big football game that night so Savannah and Mady were at the game. The other girls did the neighborhood with a large posse....


Family! I am in the musical Oklahoma...and I would love to see some of you (I wish all of you could come...) but I have put a lot of time into it. I am not a main part, but it has been a great experience for the most part. If you would like tickets, please let me know. The nights are Thursday-Saturday this week and next week. Love you guys and hope you will come and see!
Love abigail

02 November 2008

Halloween and Happy Birthdays

Good grief!!! I kept hitting the wrong thing. Sorry! Just want to say it is the time for more photos of all our little gobblins. I know you all have digital cameras and you all took photos of your kids, so let's see them on the blog!!! We saw the Hayes goblins and the Stan Graham goblins, but there are lots more that we missed and we want to see them. Come on!

Also Happy Birthday to Will Hayes and Bo Graham! Hooray for you! Hope your birthday was good and hope you know you were remembered. We love you! Let's have some photos of the birthdays too. xoxox Mom/G.G.

Halloween and Happy Birthdays

Halloween and Happy Birthdays

Halloween and Happy Birthdays


Trick or Treat

Just wanted to share some of our Halloween Fun! We got home from a day in Munich (Hard Rock Cafe for dinner:) love it!!) and ran to grab our costumes and run outside to trick or treat. We learned how to say "it" in german...i can't spell it right, but phoneticly it sounded like this
"zoo-sus or-na-zours" and that my loved ones is how they are saying their version of trick or treat. We are really happy that our neighborhood even had trick-or-treating, celebrating halloween in germany is only about 3 years old!! Anyway, we had some fun! Check out my cute super heros!!
We had an incredible hulk...
Spiderman was in the house too!! She wore that mask all night, handing out candy and so on....she got a lot of words said to her that she didn't understand...she was in heaven!!
We've had Bruce and Jan here for the past week, we're dog tired from all the fun and sight-seeing....but it's been great. We have a place to stay folks, and LOTS of places we still want to see...you could come see them with us!! Love you!!!

01 November 2008

Halloween Hooligans

The kids pulled in some good booty this year. Too bad the dad legislature just passed a fat daddy tax on all earned Halloween candy....

Spidey could hardly wait to get out and knock some doors.

She loved posing for the camera over and over...even with a missing earring...

Nelson went as Nelson.

Grandma and Grandpa came and did some trick-or-treating with us.

"I'll trade you a....."
(Mary tried to eat all her candy before Will could trick her out of the good stuff.)

Exhausted from the battle, Will sleeps on is sword to protect his precious loot....

This girl took a nap earlier in the day....bad news at bedtime.

This girl didn't take a nap, and fell asleep in the weirdest position....

Our little Beauty Queen

Pumpkin Pickin'

We paid a visit Pack's Pumpkin Patch out in West Farmington last week. It's okay for a pumpkin patch in Utah, I guess. It's just so hard to compete with the ones we visited in Virginia. Maybe it's the lack of trees and, therefore, the lack of color surrounding the patch. We enjoyed ourselves just the same. Take a peek at the pickers below:

Mary showcasing her booty...nice.

27 October 2008

Some India, Sans Photos

The day before I headed out, I stopped by Pictureline - the camera shop I do a lot of stuff at. My digital SLR has been acting up lately. They take a look at it and as they are going to charge me for cleaning it, they end up saying, "Um... your camera is on its way out. And... don't worry about the cleaning charge. It's free."

So, I didn't bring a digital with me. So funny. And ironic. I have my old trusty Canon AE-1. Film. Going to do this whole thing in film. So, that is why there is no photos. What fun is a blog w/o photos?! I know!

But, I'm here. Pleasantly sweating. Listening to hundreds of car horns as they zoom by the internet cafe. I have come into town today, to visit a bank, buy some water, and do a little internetting. My fellow student, Sanja, is working on a paper she has to have done before she leaves for Chennai in the morning, so we made the rickshaw ride here for a few hrs.

Speaking of rickshaws: you all need to try one! Just get two wheels, a few planks, some handles from some poles or something and then get your kids out in front and have them pull you around! What a great cultural teaching experience! I was reading how India was introduced to the rickshaw from the Chinese, in the later 1800s. They are auto rickshaws here and I can come into town for about .75 cents.

India is colorful. Dirty. Sacred. Mystical. Warm. Wet. Load. Quiet. And by the sea.

I am doing a physical training here, for 6 wks. It's called KALARIPPAYAT. It's an ancient martial art where you do sequences and postures taught to you by your guru and it is a beautiufl thing to watch!

Everyday I wake up at 7:00a. By 7:15a, Ramesh (our teacher) honks the horn and we run out and pile into a tiny van. We drive for about 15 minutes to the Kalari ... or "the pit." It is a clay rectangle pit, dug straight into the earth, in the jungle. It has a thatched roof and clay walls and a clay floor. There is incense burning on all four walls as you descend into the pit a few steps.

I pull off my towl and I'm wearing a tiny, white loin-cloth! So funny! Then, we put oil all over our bodies. This oil helps our muscles heat up for practice, so we can be flexible and limber. The oiling takes about 10 minutes. We put it EVERYWHERE and we look very shiny when we're done.

Ramesh (our teacher) then starts commanding us to do certain forms and sequences - stuff I've been practicing for a number of months. But b/c of the climate and the oil and the plain rigors of the practice, I IMMEDIATELY begin sweating. It is a joke now, but I literally leave a trail of wet behind me b/c my body is perspiring so much. Just yesterday, my teachers were laughing b/c my body was emitting so much steam. They said, "You are FIRE!"

We kick. We lunge. We hold squatting postures. We fling about. All the while, in bare feet and bare everything else. You would see it and think this is something from the ancient days of India. Our teacher, Ramesh, is shorter than I am but has been doing this his entire life. In fact, that is all he does: teaches Kalari. He is very strong, very disciplined, but you get him out of the pit and he is like a smiling school boy: very nice and charismatic.

There are 4 students here, right now. Me and Aubri (a friend of mine from SLC) and Sam and Sanja. Sam is from Britain but hasn't been there in 3 years. He's been living in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. Sanja is Yugoslavian by birth but lives in Austria. She and Sam are really fun, interesting people and we all get along very well.

Yesterday I started Long Stick. Which is exactly what it sounds like. I'm starting to use a big long stick and cracking it against my teacher. Its hard trying to remember the hand positioning, the movement of the feet, keeping your body at the right angle, etc, but they seem to think we are doing well. In fact, after the first day of training, our guru - Sherifka - said we had really good teaching. They are throwing lots at me and Aubri. And we are picking it up as fast as we can.

Practice goes until about 9:30a and then we go back home. I walk directly to the beach, which is about 50 yds away. It is the Indian Ocean, but more directly the Arabian Sea. The water is deliciously cool - and not too cold. Just right! I soak for awhile and then walk back to the cottage.

As you walk into the cottage, Lakshmi (our cook) has prepared a home-made Indian breakfast! There is always more than we can all eat. I especially like it when she makes watermelon juice, grape juice, or a banana shake. All the ingredients she uses are very much from here. Nothing we have or are eating is anything like home. Except the pancakes... they are like Swedish pancakes mom fixes. We drink hot Kumen water or Chai and get tired, real fast.

We get up and shower, tape our feet, and either snooze for a while or pull out a book. We have the rest of the afternoon to our leave with another meal around 2:30p. I have been doing lots of reading. Some recommendations:

1. Gilead, by Marilynne Robison
2. A New Earth, by Echart Tolle
3. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
4. The City of Joy, by Dominique Lapierre

At 4:00p, Ramesh is honking the horn again and we repeat the drill over, all suited up in new, fresh loin-cloths (except the girls, of course, they are very much covered!). We do an hour practice as eventing approaches and then peel back home around 5:30p. Jump in the Sea. Shower. Sit down and eat.

The evening is VERY chill as we sometimes play cards, Sam strums his guitar on the porch, Sanja meticulously goes at her Sudoku book and Aubri kinda flitters around doing all sorts of things. I have been working on my new bird-design idea/company: Red Fred Bodoni and his Fine Feathered Fonts. I'm happy to say I have some great things planned, made, designed that I hope to launch after the first of the year. I'm so glad I have my lap-top, even though the power goes out nightly at a certain time, and we go about lighting the candles as if nothing has happened.

I usually hit the hay around 9:00p. Pretty tired. We repeat this. Over and over and over.

There is a lot of time to think. To listen. To try and understand myself more and better. To think about suffering and sanctity. What would you do if you had nothing around you that reminded you of your home or the people you came from? Where does your mind drift when you realize you are just a little piece of sand on vast coast of millions of other sand particles? The waves seem to be hypnotic as they caress my thoughts at night.

I find myself grateful. Happy. And at times, longing for the companionship of those I hold close to my heart. I would love for them - you - all to be here, just b/c it's beautiful and like nothing we know back home.

Yesterday, I was fed by a stranger. There seems to be nothing more kingly than to be provided for by somebody that has no other intention than to simply give. It made me think of my parents, of all parents, of the nature of love towards others. I was walking by a coconut grove and a man had some young boys scamper up a tree and drop me a coconut. I drank the fresh milk straight from the coconut and just sat with the 3 of them for a spell. Hardly a lick of English escaped our lips, but we understood the connection of sharing and caring.

I decided to write this lengthy post b/c I am not in frequent contact at all, but wanted to give you an idea of what life is like for me right now. Very simple. Very basic. Very sweaty! :)

I love you all. Love reading about the Elders, the kiddos, and seeing Doug and Angie's heads on those AMAZING bodies! Please know I think about all of you and pray for you. Thanks for your prayers. They do my body good!

Take care!


7 of 9

21 October 2008


Landon sent us a few pictures yesterday, and a great sound file. I have sent the sound file to mom, since I can't attach it here, and she will send it out. You need to listen to it. He is totally south of the border now...

Here are some fun pictures of Mexico, and some of the people he loves.

By the way, a couple that he found and taught in his prior area, who were ready for baptism except for getting married, have now been married and baptized, and are moving toward the temple. He is hoping for the experience of going through the temple with them before he comes home, like James and his beloved family.

He mentioned that the word is he will be a senior companion on this next transfer, and he worries a little about the language barrier. However, I think I reads and speaks the language well. On occasion he says he has to ask people to repeat what they say, but that is fine.
He also says the girls there try to touch his blue eyes. They are somewhat of a novelty.


20 October 2008

Just trying to take all your money...

Hey lovies! I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, soooooo much for all of you who helped me with my swim-a-thon! It was a killer; I swam 200 laps, but I survived. But I do need any donations you guys have made. If you write a check, it is for Wasatch High School. My mailing address is
3383 E. Wild Mare Way
Heber, Ut. 84032
I do need that ASAP!
You guys are so wonderful. Everyone is so impressed that my family supports me so much. They were like "dude, I would never call my family. I dont even know all my cousins". That just makes me so grateful for how close our family is. It is such a wonderful blessing. I love you all! We are the GRAHAMS!
love abigail

19 October 2008

15 October 2008

More pics

hey all.....I am on a roll....more pics to enjoy...now Mom can't give me any grief that I never send pictures...hope my kids can make the coveted fridge space.