"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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My New Favorite Book

My new favorite book is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey. This will be one that I read over and over. Kesey has this knack, just like Flannery O'Connor, to put things in a hilarious light only to hit one on the head with the true and very serious nature of whatever situation he's pseudo-mocking. I love it so much I could marry it!

I don't even know where to start with this irreverent little gem...probably general themes that reoccurred throughout the novel:
  • machination of modern America, dehumanization
  • tools in the Big Machine: those who work to repair machine and keep it going while others work to destroy it, lack of responsibility because the machine itself has become its own entity
  • lunacy: pretending to be crazy making one crazy, crazies with more sense and awareness than so-called normals, self-admitted lunatics vs. committed
  • retribution on those not personally responsible for original hurt
  • gender roles: stereotyping, function of sex in healthy relationships
  • race: stereotypes, representational, expectations and duties based on race
This isn't your grandmother's book. I would only recommend this book to mature readers who like thought-provoking themes more than exciting plots.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Entertaining Mystery

Although there isn't any literary value in Thirteen for Dinner, by Agatha Christie, it is still entertaining and worth listening to. (By literary value, I mean the existence of multiple levels of interpretation and understanding, well-developed imagery, meaningful metaphors, and analogies.)

It was pleasant to get caught up in the plot and fun to guess who the murderer was. I really was guessing the whole time, too!

Most of all, I can't help but think how interesting a character Christie herself must have been to write such classy murder mysteries. I imagine she was a lot like a family friend we have who is spunky and quick-witted regardless of her age and arthritis. Do you imagine Agatha Christie to be old and spunky like I do?

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh no, you didn't...

Heck yes, I did! After a week's worth of curing and conditioning, we now have a floor-to-ceiling Freedom of Speech wall in our house. We've had five contributors thus far, and hope to have many more. Booya!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Harvest Time!

We're enjoying eating our delish garden harvest as well as putting up fruit. This year we grew radishes, peas, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, onions, corn, beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, and of course, my favorite herb garden.

Right now we're trying out a new fruit leather recipe (thanks, Anna!) and can't wait to see how it all turns out. The samples Anna let me try were scrumptious, and the recipe is pretty simple if you want to try it out too:

2 C blended fruit
2 T honey
1 T lemon juice
(spread on parchment paper and dehydrate, about 12 hrs)

Some of my favorite autumn memories are with my mom in a steamy, sticky kitchen, bottling peaches, pears and grape juice. It's just cool enough outside that a hot kitchen is perfect, and the company's not bad either. One of the most satisfying sounds is the pop! of sealing canning jars. We've gotten a good system down over the years: one person peels, cuts, and stuffs the jars with fruit while the other person mixes the juice, scalds the fruit, takes the old peels to the compost pile, and mans the canner. It's so busy, but so much fun!

This is the best time of year: my dad (taking after his dad) can say with pride, "Everything we're eating for dinner tonight came from our garden!" Now I can say it too. If only cheese and beef could be grown in a garden *sigh* ...maybe in heaven.

I love the feeling of being self-sustaining!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Poem of the Week

It appears I'm a couple of weeks overdue for a poem of the week. Here's a little ditty based off of a dream that Kirk shared with me and that I turned into a poem about self-augmentation. Inspiration comes from everywhere!

Never Pin My Face Just Shoot Me

Grandma’s face fell in her soup
which burned her so she yelled
she gets like that cause she’s old and
I put her face back on with pins.

I don’t need pins I’m quick and firm
you can shoot me but please don’t pin me.

I won’t get old cause I don’t want to
or at least I’ll try hard to stay whole
but today I pinned my Grandma’s skin and
next week I’ll start pinning my mom.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's just one of those books

I love love love the book Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. It's just one of those books that I will never tire of re-reading. If you've ever seen the movie Awakenings starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, which I also highly recommend, this book has many similar themes and ethical dilemmas. The book was written in 1958 and this movie came out in the 90's. A movie was also made based off of Keyes's novel called Charly, (no, it's not the same as the cheesy LDS romance movie) but I haven't seen it yet so I don't know how good it is. Let me know if you've seen it because I'd love to know what you think.

There is so much in this book, but because most of the topics of discussion are rhetorical and interconnected, it is clearer if I just use "moral dilemma" to encompass all facets. Themes of interest and thought-provoking points are as follows:
  • moral dilemma
  • "the more intelligent you become, the more problems you'll have"
  • intelligence and ignorance: benefits of each, caliber of problems for each
  • language: as a barrier or a pathway depending on intellectual extremes
  • subconscious: idea that nothing in our minds is ever gone
  • reconciliation of old self and new self after a mighty re-birth
  • "men dedicating their lives to studying more and more about less and less"
  • affection: intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to neurosis

Most novels fit into a certain type of narrative, and this story is one of many fantastic creation narratives (think the Bible and Frankenstein). Creation narratives always have complex questions regarding the consequences, ethics, and responsibilities surrounding creation, right of possession creators have over creations, and the individual needs and feelings of the created being, so there is a lot to digest. Could it get any better than this? Love love love it!

Happy reading!

Sweet Sneaks

I found this old pair of canvas shoes that I used to have in high school (in fact, I'm pretty sure I wore them to my Junior Prom) and they were begging to be decorated. I would never begrudge anything that asked to be doodled on, so I got right to work.

It wasn't very much work at all (although removing the tongue from the shoes took some fancy fingerwork) and it reminded me of the days in jr. high and high school when I would doodle on anything that was close to me: paper, shoes, desks, pants, my hands and arms...good times.

I went through two permanent markers to finish these suckers and just drew or wrote whatever came to my mind. This pair ended up being what I lovingly call my wingtips. I'd love to do this on colored canvas shoes or using multi-colored markers next time around.

A Classic

I've been feeling a bit under the weather this week, but I've still kept busy! I finished Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I thought it would be one of those Jane Austen-esque society romances, and although there were some traces, they weren't focal to the story.

It was a ghost love story with a redemptive ending. I just love redemptive endings, don't you? Well, the following are some items of note that I picked up on:
  • language: how to use it to make others more or less comfortable, how it distinguishes class
  • wildness vs. tameness
  • literacy: power of literacy, keeping foes illiterate to remain dominant over them
  • revenge and subsequent redemption
  • cursing and punishing children because of fathers' transgressions in the long-term
  • heaven and hell: different for each person and don't always match with the heaven/ hell one's beloved imagines
  • power contained in one's hatred or love for another
  • birthright: rightful heir, impostor children, right eventually conquers
Happy reading!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Last Picnic of the Season

For Labor Day, we hopped in the old 'burban for an impromptu drive and picnic up a somewhat nearby canyon. The drive was gorgeous and high in the hills we could see touches of autumn creeping in the tops of some of the trees.

Before we started, though, we had to wait too long while Dad topped off the fluids.

Luckily, the warm food was still just warm enough when we stopped at a frequented camp site to lunch.

Our impromptu picnic consisted of delicious burritos and tacos; it couldn't have been planned any better!

Then we finished off the pleasant afternoon with a ride on a canyon dirt road that was so bumpy that the side mirror broke off. There's nothing quite like exploring together as a family!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What can one do with an empty frame?

That's a good question. Thanks for asking. Aside from using an empty photo frame as a prop in a family photo shoot, a body can also:

1) Purchase a choice roll of aluminum screen from a hardware store
2) Trim it down to fit the back of the frame
3) Use a staple gun to secure the screen tightly to the back of the frame
4) Insert decorative brads through the screen
5) Hang frame on wall
6) Hang jewelry on brads

Tips: enlist the help of little brother to detangle dozens of necklaces that have been stuffed in a single drawer for years, and repeat if necessary if amount of jewelry exceeds amount of space on frame.

I {heart} Murder Mysteries!

Every once in a while, I have to read something just because it sounds like fun, and not because it needs analyzing. (Although, I have to admit that I must force myself to consciously avoid analyzing books automatically when I read them. It can be a difficult task.)

The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie is one of those fun books. As always, it has a twist at the end.

Happy Reading!

New Read

Jhumpa Lahiri is an author we studied in our women's lit class, and she is one of the best short story authors I know of. I always thought that writing short stories is one of the most difficult creative writing genres to pull off, but Lahiri makes it look so easy.

The Namesake, however, is a novel, and Lahiri does such a wonderful job. Here are several themes to look out for when reading this novel:
  • names: unspoken names of husbands for various reasons, never thinking of someone's name when you think of that person, taking or not taking husband's surname, pet names/ good names, lost name, sacred nature of individual names, namesake, pet name turned good name, last name turned first name, name change, Ashima's address book because she is keeper of names and numbers, naming infants, nameless child, names can wait
  • paper and the written word: books, newspaper clippings, diary, address book, reviewing letters, "The Overcoat," phone book in India, collecting magazines to throw them away
  • bracelets: identification, wedding gifts, security deposit
  • pregnancy and being a lifelong foreigner
  • time: American minutes, time difference, watches
  • rebirth: christening, born twice, personality changes with name changes, renaming someone claims that person
  • solitude: loneliness, pride in doing things alone, "He was teaching me to live alone"
  • trains: accident, losing things, finding people, significant events and disasters
  • I can't: instances when different characters used these words
  • deliberate decisions to Americanize
  • art: paintbrushes, relatives who create art, art class
  • graves: rubbings of names, cremation of loved ones, shrine and picture as closest thing to a grave
  • returning, "I'm coming" = goodbye, "Remember this journey we made together. We went together to a place where there was nowhere left to go."
Happy reading!