Peculiar Treasures – 22 September

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Do we have some amazing, incredible, bizarre and wonderful links for you this week! The links are grouped loosely by theme (all brought to you by the letter “W”), so read on and have a peculiar treasure or twelve to start your week of well.

On writing: Did you know writing has health benefits, from your lungs to your liver, your mood and healing capabilities? Or watch someone explain “My job is that I lie to children” with humour and a secret door or three.

On wonder: Gather good. Pass it on. Multiply goodness . Also, there’s the love of a man for his wife and God, shared by his son.

On weird and wacky: A carrot for/is music! How to cut cake with science!

On wilderness: Some deep sea creatures have been highlighted, as well as one that looks like a real-life Pokémon. Continue reading

The Out-of-Town Sister

I’m the out-of-town sister.   My dad and step-mom live in Texas. My mom and step-dad live in Utah, as do my two siblings.  I live in Kansas.

I left home when I graduated from high school in 1980, and I only returned to my childhood home in Orange County, California for one summer.  Now several dominoes have fallen, and my now-married sisters live in the same county in Utah as my mother.

Since the summer of 1981, I have lived away from my parents and my siblings to pursue college degrees, to work full time to support myself, and now to support my husband as I followed him from grad school in California to his first job in West Virginia to a promotion in Kansas.

I travel regularly by plane or by car to see my extended family.  In my twenties, I made a dozen long car rides by myself between DC and California to see my family.  When my two children were born, I took them to see their grandparents annually for several years.  Every once and a while I mail things.  At least we have the phone and other means of connecting that did not exist 100+ years ago for my ancestors who were separated by immigration from England, France and Germany to the US.

But these efforts to bridge the distance are not the same as living within an hour’s drive.

Continue reading

Confidence and courage and all good things

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Recently, I talked with a friend about her 19 year old daughter Kate who just departed on a mission to Mesa, AZ.  I know Kate well. When it was time for girls’ camp everyone wanted Kate in her tent, every newly called Mia Maid or Laurel’s president wanted Kate as her counselor, when Kate sat down each chair around her filled in moments. With her easy laugh, fresh faced beauty and complete lack of pretensions, Kate brought a flood of light when she entered a room.

“From the time she was a toddler,” her mother told me, “Kate’s possessed an amazing self-confidence. Because Kate knows she’s a daughter of God, she recognizes everyone else as a child of God. She never worries about herself, Kate always thinks about other people.” Continue reading

Secrets of Past Lives

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I have a box in my garage labeled “Past Lives”. In it are beribboned tufts of my horses’ manes, old high school dance photos and programs, a few dried corsages, a pile of yellowed letters, some notebooks with adolescent poems written in pink ink, old passports. And a photo of him.

Today is his birthday. You know – him, the One. If you’re very lucky, you’re married to him. But for most of us, he’s a lost love. Often, he’s a secret we hold onto deep in our hearts. And on certain days of the year, it’s an ache that can’t be dulled.

Sometimes he’s called The One That Got Away. But how did that happen? Why did that happen? I have very few regrets about my life. I just don’t go there; what’s the point? But if I did, I would regret leaving him. I would mourn what is lost. I only allow such painful reminiscing on certain infrequent days. Today is one of those days. Continue reading

Peculiar Treasures: A Curious Collection

Here’s our eclectic collection to start your week off right.

First off, if you haven’t seen it yet, join us in the happy big-tent embracing, worldwide growth-sensitive news: Church leaders are now welcomed to speak in their native tongue at general conference. Awesome.

Confucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” That certainly rings true for Aaron Ansarov, a retired combat photographer for the U.S. Navy, who has spent the past two years combing a local Florida beach in search of the elusive Portuguese man-of-war.

One of literature’s most prestigious honors, the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters recognizes individuals who have made an exceptional impact on this country’s literary heritage: Ursula K. Le Guin is the 2014 recipient.

And in other lit news, Louise Erdrich has won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, a “lifetime achievement honor for American writers.” Have you read and loved her works or are you adding her to your list now?

Anyone want to go to the ballet with us? You will after listening to Misty Copeland’s retelling of her trials, triumphs and continuing journey as black ballerina. Plus, she has a book out for the younger set.

How astute are your senses? This piece from the NYT reminds us to pay attention, many Americans don’t compared to people elsewhere. Who knows what a little more thought may inspire, maybe the next great app (Instagram inspiration credit at the end of the piece).

Even more good and thoughtful things from the Times. Is Adulthood dead in American Culture?

Apple season is here. Glory be! The taste of the fresh cider from my farmer’s market is liquid gold, bottled autumn: Gravenstein, I think. But not all apples satisfy.  Read The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious  and meet Emily’s inspiration for this week’s first draft poem:

In Ecuador I bought
overpriced red
delicious apples,
forking out too much
to taste a bite of home.

Their thick skins and mealy flesh
turned me instead to try mangos
my first time:
I peeled back the thick skin.
Juice dripped to my elbows,
and I chewed mango flesh down to the pit

in the streets of Guayaquil
you find blackened mango pits
discarded by children
who suck them dry

they know better than to overpay
for nasty apples
when decadent mangos
come cheap and sweet.