"A (wo)man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of (her)his life in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of beautiful God has implanted in the human soul."- Goethe

Monday, August 30, 2010

Poem of the Week

The following poem was actually published in our school's literary magazine, probably because it isn't the happiest of themes. I was so excited to see it in print only to discover that there was a typo in it! Arg! I now bring it to you a good old-fashioned sonnet that is typo free:


“I was abused” sliced through warm night’s silence.
Recovered from awkwardness, I said that
I still loved her, yearned for her happiness.
We chose to be married, why was she sad?

We were good for each other, and yet, she
would stay up some nights silently sobbing.
what frightened my love that she could not sleep?
Black Voice in her head, constantly calling.

That night she sliced carrots while I read and
lounged. She chopped and let the pain win. Each strike:
echo of deep scars on her arms and hands.
“Let me be happy!” she begged of the Voice.

Why not ask me? Why couldn’t she converse
with the man who loved her despite that curse?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Family Photos!

It was about time to get another family picture because we have a new addition to the family and Alaina was leaving for a while, and honestly, does there need to be any specific reason to take family pictures? I didn't think so. Lovely Katie was our photographer, and here are some highlights:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From the Bookshelves

The most recent audiobook I've finished is Pigs in Heaven, by Barbara Kingsolver, who is the phenomenal author of The Poisonwood Bible. Her writing is tightly woven with a multitude of themes and metaphoric imagery.

Here are options of topics and sub-topics to pursue for a critical analysis of this book:
  • silence: sound, noise, fixing noise with WD-40
  • solitude: wandering = wondering, home, "single runs in the family", runaways
  • saving someone's life and eternal link with that person
  • luck: bad luck, belief in, Lucky Buster, Casa Suerte, luck in gambling
  • pigs: price of, Pliedes = 6 bad boys and mother who wouldn't let go, pig farm, slaughterhouse, Francis Pig and his ironic death
  • racial boundaries: % blood relative, 1/200 with claims on Cherokee Nation, 1/4 Methodist who declines claims on Nation, Alice's role, tribal vs. individual mentality, "Being Cherokee is more or less a mindset", "Who do we blame?" "The times, ignorance, the notion people always seem to get that they know what's best for somebody else."
  •  storms: thunder, rain, and how they apply to points in plot, turtle that won't let go until it thunders
  • turtle: Turtle herself, meaning of names, Stand catching a snapping turtle
  • birds: birds in apricot tree, mulberry bushes around peach tree to keep birds away, weed birds, shooting pigeons, coyote eating dove eggs, pet birds of suicidal manager, raising ostriches vs. bees, Barbie as "exotic bird trapped in a rotten cage," goose round-up, Mr. Green
  • "Anybody can get worked up if they have the intention. It's peacefulness that is hard to come by on purpose."
  • salmon: going home, tattered, fighting a long struggle only to meet with Sea Lions at the top, "you shouldn't forget who made you" and tie-ins to solitude and wandering
  • cars: car parts, resurrected truck, dodge, Turtle in cars, car parts store, Harland's headlights
  • heaven: Heaven, Oklahoma, "Everybody knows the way to Heaven," pigs in heaven, Welcome to Heaven sign
  • gossip: as public service for people with communication problems with their own hearts
There is always so much in Kingsolver's books, and she is a fantastic storyteller in addition to being a literary genius. I always love her explorations of feminism and racial issues. As always, I'd love to discuss this book with anyone who has the inkling.

Happy reading!

Family photo shoot

My family had a photo shoot a few days ago, and while our lovely photographer was taking the professional pictures, my camera got hijacked. It turns out that we got some pretty good candids. I think those are my favorite kind, anyway! I think from now on I'll bring my own camera to photo shoots to pass around. So, here is a peek at some of the pictures that ended up on my camera.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Latest Project

For the last few weeks, I've been working on an envelope pocket book for Alaina that she can take with her to the Philippines. There is an envelope for every month that she will be gone, which contains a journaling prompt that each person in our family has responded to. So, every month Alaina gets to pick a topic of choice then read 10 pieces of paper full of unsolicited advice on that topic.

The most difficult part was getting everyone to cooperate and turn in their responses on time. We didn't do too shabby, I have to say. Go team! This book wouldn't be such a gem if I was the only one who contributed to it, but it is quite the treasure trove with everyone's cooperation.

As far as the design is concerned, I kept it as simple as possible because this sucker needs to be travel-friendly--and will probably get thrashed--so no extra embellishments. Special thanks to Anna, who helped me put together the final touches on time. Thank you, thank you!

To make this 6" x 6" envelope book, I punched 3 holes in the bottom of each envelope for C-rings and reinforced the holes with clear reinforcement labels. I then covered the envelopes with paper. Just below each flap, I sewed 1 or 2 buttons to the paper as a flap-catch before gluing it down because I didn't want the journaling blocks to snag on anything inside the envelope itself. I wrote the appropriate journaling prompt on each envelope flap and inserted all corresponding responses from the family.

Bon voyage, Reina. We'll be thinking about you every day!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Poem of the Week

Here's a poem I wrote about piety and hypocrisy. I love to throw absurdist humor into my poems. I think they're better that way.

Take Care of your Soul—it’s Flapping in the Breeze

My next-door neighbor’s going to hell.
I know because his soul
has hung on his clothesline since 1982.
To me, it’s like a warning sign:
“Beware of Dog”
but slightly more dangerous because souls are involved.

If he ever does hang up a sign
it should probably say:
“Beware of Vicious Un-souled Man!”

I’m certain it would be better if others could recognize him
as the crafty and elusive man that he is, but
most people ignore his abandoned soul.

One of these days, though, I’ll shake it out, and wash it,
then leave it ironed, starched white, and folded on his porch,
just in case he’s forgotten about it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


My beautiful sister, Alaina, is leaving for the Philippines in less than a week, so we took a trip up the canyon to take enough photos to last us a year and a half. I don't know how I changed the settings on my camera, but several of the photos are in RAW format, and my computer won't recognize them so I'll have to wait until Monday to change the file type. Drat.  Meanwhile, here are a few of the available pics of our gorgeous surroundings and Reina that were taken using the automatic setting.

Good luck! We will sure miss you, Reina. We'll always be sending good vibes your way.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recent Read

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a classic and one of the early feminist-thought novels. (Yay feminism!) It was so unconventional when it was written that it was promptly banned. Banned books are my favorite.

There is a lot of punch packed in this small novel. Let's start with recurring images that carry weighty significance. You'll want to pay careful attention to the following when reading this book because each may lead down multiple avenues of interpretation:
  • birds and wings
  • water, ocean, born of water
  • old and new bunches of violets
  • wedding bands and related hand gestures
  • walking through an ocean of grass
  • running from prayers
  • Pontellier mansion under construction and half torn asunder
  • giving birth and re-birth
  • the children
In addition, aside from the main characters, the secondary characters bear some significance. Try exploring the nature of the following supporting characters:
  • the two lovers
  • the lady in black with prayer beads
  • Mariequita
  • Dr. Mandelet
But wait, there's more. Consider these debatable themes as well:
  • traditional vs. conventional familial roles
  • property and ownership (especially regarding marriage and children) and subsequent solutions to related problems, if any
  • independence fostering independence or dependence fostering dependence from generation to generation
  • motherhood, characteristics of so-called motherly women
  • outward conformity with inward questioning
  • giving the non-essential, or one's life, but not one's self
  • dupe to illusion and awakening to reality
  • not acting like oneself or becoming a new self

From the Potter's Wheel

This is one of the first successful pieces of pottery I ever made. I love the way this handle feels around my fingers.

It makes me smile every time I pull my own art from the kitchen cupboard because it isn't just pretty to look at, it's useful as well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From the Bookshelves

I just finished listening to the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, and it's pretty good. Pretty darn good. I usually have a hard time with pioneer narratives, and early church history, but the way Pratt wrote was entertaining as well as faith-inspiring.

If I could only pick a single theme from the book, it would be "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?". Parley recounted endless examples from his own life, as well as from others' experiences he knew of, that all circled around this theme. Everything returned to the fact that nothing is impossible for people when the Lord is on their side. The Lord was inexhaustible in his goodness toward the early saints.

Other topics of discussion worth mentioning are as follows:
  • religious fervor and involvement of early saints
  • the dynamics of the early church vs. policy changes in the modern church
  • life-and-death struggles met with unsurpassed sacrifice for a higher spirituality; willingness to completely live the laws of sacrifice and consecration despite life-threatening challenges
  • modern visions, dreams, miracles, signs, and wonders as well as modern curses and plagues (Rotting flesh, anyone? That's what several mob members got in later years.)
  • revelation for specific individuals appearing in modern scriptural canon (How cool would that be to have inspiration specific to you canonized? I'd hope it wasn't a chastisement.)
  • religious belief that America was designed to provide a means of bringing forth the fullness of the gospel, yet amazing amounts of resistance (The rhetoric that stood out most to me was concerning the abuses and crimes perpetrated by mobs and government: "Was this America in the 19th century? Were these the scenes transacted in a constitutional republic? Yes. Verily, and worse.")
  • Boggs as an archetype of Herod of old, or Pharaoh, for that matter
  • Phelps swearing like a sailor to save his life following a jailbreak
  • Mormons as an "intrinsically vagrant race" (Perhaps my antsy-ness comes from my pioneer heritage.)
As always, I'd love to discuss this read with anyone interested in doing so. With these few theme pointers, it might be easier to make cohesive thoughts on this book. Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poem of the Week

The following is a prose poem I wrote. The most frequent question I get about it is if the guy in the poem is my husband or somebody else I know. Heavens! If Kirk were like him in any way, I wouldn't have married him! While I know some men like the character in the poem, never in such an extreme, this poem isn't about any individual specifically.

Perfect Match

He has a habit of drop-kicking neighborhood cats when he gets home from work with his tool belt in flames. I’ve learned to ignore the flying felines even though my first pet was a cat. When he comes back inside, his tools turning to ash in his hands, I know the rule: food first. So I quietly spoon out his meal and wait for his plate to empty. Then I can talk, but only one thing: “Do you want more?” Grunt means yes. I don’t know what sound he makes for no because he’s never turned down seconds from me before. After, he gets up and takes a shower, which puts out the flames and steams the whole house. I stay downstairs and take another extinguisher from under the stairs and spray down the kitchen chairs and table. I clean up the dishes, wipe down the walls, and gather the singed cats. Then I write “extinguishers” on the shopping list on the fridge with the remaining bits of charcoal.

Monday, August 16, 2010

From the Sketchbook

This is sketch I did of my grandpa. He always had twinkly eyes and a wry smile like he knew he just said something he oughtn't. Graphite on Paper.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Who doesn't Love a Picnic?

Mom arranged a picnic with Aunt Charlene and Uncle Burl while at the last family reunion, so on Monday, we all met up. A new family picnic tradition started this year is for every single person to bring a surprise dish to share with everyone else. We used to be super organized and make sure we covered all the food groups.

Not anymore! Now we all just bring what's available and hope it works out, which is much more adventurous. So far, we've had some pretty well-balanced picnics. Kirk and I brought blackberries freshly-picked from the monster bushes in our backyard. Mmm...tasty!

There's nothing that feels quite as good as gathering together for a meal with the people you love most.
What's a Nielson family get-together without lots of activity? We can always count on Scott to bring his backpack full of frisbees. After all, he is quite the frisbee-playing adonis!
Playing 500 with Kirk is about as fun as licking a battery. You know it will be painful, but you just can't help yourself every once in a while. Kirk would reach up and pick the frisbee out of the air like nobody's business while the rest of us jumped pathetically, trying to reach higher than Kirk could.
Lastly, no Harmon can resist a mean game of cards. Just you try and outwit Charlene and Burl in 5 Crowns.