All posts by Kellie

About Kellie

(Blog Editor) lives way on the other side of the planet in her native Australia and gives thanks for the internet regularly. She loves books, her boys, panna cotta, collecting words, being a redhead and not putting things in order of importance when listing items. She credits writing at selwynssanity.blogspot.com as a major contributing factor to surviving her life with sanity mostly intact, though her (in)sanity level is subject to change without warning.

Peculiar Treasures: When Is Whenever

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When statistics become human, emotional stories. When we publically address our mistakes as a parent, or deliberately address where we spend our moralistic anger.

When a girl races her diagnosis, and is literally caught at the finish line. When we realise we all live in Babylon. When we answer this question.

When a love of pi and knitting come beautifully together. When there’s more to Temple Square at Christmas than expected. When generosity isn’t rewarded, but remembered decades later.

When you know which three pieces of advice you would give to YW/YM. When you wondered what would go perfectly on that wall over there

When we read anyone’s first draft – this week’s First Draft Poetry is by Melissa Young, which ties in with the determined runner mentioned before:

“They don’t bloom the first year,”
the cashier warned,
ringing up the small red hibiscus.
but this morning
the first bud (of many)
unfolded
and though my mind whispers
that God performed no more
than a distant, law-bound creation,
the confluence of these blood blooms
feels to my dry soul
like intimate,
defiant grace

Passions: Stoking the Embers

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I’ve been to a wedding celebration. The bride and groom were delighted in each other, and obviously oblivious to most of what was going on around them. They held hands during speeches, whispered to each other, had that unconscious radar tracking and alignment to wherever their beloved happened to be if not in arms reach, and a stunned awareness that they were finally married.

It was beautiful to see, such hope and passion and excitement sizzling between them. The bride and groom danced, fingers Morse-coding messages against hips, lips, faces, the first couple yet again to discover the hum of passion and sparking delight.

It was also beautiful to see the seasoned couples at my table, each laughing and murmuring to each other as we swapped jokes and conversation between announcements and courses. The full, smiling attention of a wife to her husband as he gave a speech, the gentle clasp of hands under the table after a joke, the sharing of dessert, a wife repeating unheard words into a whiskered, tilted ear.

There was the roaring, emerging flame of a love recently created and newly sanctified before us, and the enduring, patient embers of experienced passion gathered around to celebrate and bear witness. I warmed myself, the bride and groom leaving bright spots of joy before my eyes, while the sincere heat of the settled couples soaked deeper in, warm air stirring up ashes as I returned home.

You can’t have a conversation with the empty half of your bed. You can pretend, but it’s not the same as having a hand available to hold at three o’clock on the morning, just a finger’s stretch away. I remember the fire and sparkle of new passion, the way a first kiss becomes a language in a story yet untold. It’s a giddy time, tripping along heart beats and held breaths, all excitement and discovery, but it’s the embers that I miss.

The embers, those ruby throated coals, which have danced and thrilled before in the flash and burn of passion and delight, when all is youth and beauty, lace and enthusiasm, and have survived to catch a breath. The breath and tumble that comes with kids, or career, or both, with the frantic, shuddering bellows of watching a parent die, or burying a loved one, and holding on to each other and your breath in the same terrible moment. The embers, looking dark but billowing heat, grown from putting the lid on the toothpaste for the seven thousandth time, and distracted conversations, and pillowed laughter at midnight and arguments in the car. Embers that grow as thick and deep as lava, from loving another impossible, incredible, bizarre individual every single day even when and especially when they drive you crazy and they – for some deep, fathomless reasons – love you back even when you’re your real cracked and fragile self.

There’s the obvious, dizzying flash of heat, the sizzle, the unsteady grab for balance and air of early love and attraction, but the sustained, deliberate power of established, active passion and mutual compassion leaves it as dust. In each of us there is a light that cannot be hid, a desire for warmth that never goes out. May we all ignite, burn and coalesce into enduring, sincere passion.

What does passion mean to you? What words do you use to compare new/old love and passion? What do you do to appreciate (stroke) and build (stoke) your passions?

Gifts of the Bookish Variety

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With Christmas fast approaching, we at Segullah thought it would be a great time to recommend some of our favourite book-related finds of 2014 for your viewing, reading and possible buying pleasure, roughly arranged by “recommended for”, and with the recommender’s initials afterwards.

Recommended for:

- Non-fiction readers:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – by Susan Cain. For those who likes Malcolm Gladwell-type informative essays or who is interested in people-types. – DY

No Man’s Land, essays by Eula Biss. Recommended for more sophisticated literary readers who appreciate interwoven themes. – DY

The Boys in the Boat – by Daniel James Brown is a great read for anyone who likes nonfiction, history, and inspirational true stories. This would be a great book for older teens or young adults. – JC

- For historical fiction types:

I liked All the Light We Cannot See – by Anthony Doerr, for historical fiction types, people who like WWII, people who like interesting structures. I happened to be reading it simultaneously with The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer) and it made an interesting pairing-a fictional white German boy in the 1940s and a young Malawian boy in the 2000s both using radios-disassembling them, finding scrap parts, etc.-to find their life paths. – MY

The Meaning of Names by Karen Shoemaker was an off-the-beaten-track find, beautifully written about a German American settlement in Nebraska during WW1. – AW

- For kids:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – by E.L. Konigsburg. Specifically for any curious child in grades 3-6ish, who you’re reasonably sure wouldn’t get any ideas and actually run away. One Segullah staffer recently purchased a couple of copies so she can (someday) share it with her grandchildren. She would also love to share this with the recipient and, maybe someday, hope to take them to the museum herself.

- For older teens/young adults:

I agree with Melissa about All the Light We Cannot See (see “historical fiction types” above); it’s one of those books you can feel pretty comfortable recommending to anyone. My 16 year old son loved it, too. – AW

Red Rising by Pierce Brown is a great read for older teens/YA’s too (see below under “Sci-fi/Fantasy” heading). – KG

- For contemporary fiction readers:

Where’d You Go Bernadette – by Maria Semple. For any of my adult friends who is going through a tough year and who might need a distraction from their sorrows, I would definitely give this, which I read twice this summer. I’m having a difficult time starting something new because I’m reasonably sure I won’t find anything else that amused me so. – DR

One Plus One – by JoJo Moyes is a fun book that’s perfect for anyone who wants to read a romance that’s grounded in real life. This book is sweet and funny and perfect to curl up with on snowy day (there is a bit of adult content in the book). – JC

Love Letters of the Angels of Death – by Jennifer Quist. Both KG and AW have this as a favourite this year, and I recommend it to everyone who does, has ever or hopes to one day love and be loved (reviewed earlier this year here). – AW & KG

- For Sci-fi/Fantasy readers:

This year has been all about The Martian for me, by Andy Weir. It’s about a human astronaut being abandoned on Mars, and his survival. There is swearing throughout (quite a bit at times), a whole lot of science, problem solving and I found it fascinating, hilarious, reviewed it here and it’s my favourite book of 2014. – KG

Red Rising – by Pierce Brown. Blurbed as “a cross between Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies”, this story is about a caste system on Mars, and I lost myself in it and the world building. The second book is due out next year, and I can’t wait. – KG

- For writer-readers:

My favorite book of the year was Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, which is basically a memoir told by stringing together essays and articles she wrote as a freelance writer. It works beautifully and is as much about writing as it is about relationships. – SM

All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir – by Emma L. Thayne and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich It’s been around for decades now, but I just got to it this year, and it is the best thing I’ve read this year. It’s a sampler of essays, talks and poems. – SJ

- Bookish present ideas

If you’re after something not books but book-related, check out Out of Print, who do some amazing clothing, bags and associated gear, Book Riot who recommend new wonders every week and of course the Etsy search engine (it’s how I found these stunning literary bracelets!)

Don’t forget you can search for “Book reviews” on Segullah (click here for results) too!

Which books/bookish items do you recommend this year?

Peculiar Treasures: Brains, Barriers, Beards and Building

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Welcome to December, and another Peculiar Treasure! Try starting your week off with a boy who escaped State-applied limitations to become a genius, and the way music can bring our mind-locked elders back to us, singing and dancing as they come.

If not music, do you listen to the Serial podcast? Check out ten facts about the broadcast, and an Australian podcast episode on the importance – and fluidity – of memory so vital for understanding in Serial.

How do you talk to kids? Here’s an interview with the world specialist on micro-expressions and his daughter on building truth and trust, and here’s three questions you could ask any teen you know to start a conversation on creating a life of happiness and direction.

Finally, while the article and comments get quite riled up about Dress Codes, the image of Christ clean-shaven and in a suit is well worth the visit and appreciation, and this buoyant and encouraging devotional address is about finding beauty and worth in the other languages and faiths we may encounter along our own journey home.

First Draft Poetry is open to everyone today! Please, share your first draft to any piece you are inspired by. Happy reading, creating, writing and Decembering!

Peculiar Treasures: Tongues, Chomps, Champs, Choice and Twos!

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Wherever you may be in the world, and whatever your country’s name in its official language, it’s time to sink your teeth into this week’s Peculiar Treasures!

You could chew on the history of the ramen noodle, or be gobsmacked at the zombies floating in Lake Michigan.

Speaking of unusual jobs to perform like a champion, what about a midwife to women with Ebola, or teaching kids to solve fractions using dance?

Of course, we’re all more than a job – read this great interview with our very own Artistic Director Leslie Graff, breaking down the myth of only being able to be one thing at a time. Then there’s a discussion on being Mom/Mum doesn’t mean ONLY being Mom/Mum, and the joy and responsibility in being our real selves, for the good of the women and girls coming up behind us.

Finally, some links brought to you by the number two: how a second language is better brain food than Sudoku, the two best traits of successful relationships, and a cake showing two beloved guests who will be performing at this Christmas’ MoTab celebration.

This week’s First Draft Poetry has a zombie theme, penned by Lara:

I used to like zombies
less.
And alright, maybe I don’t like them more now . . .
I might just be used to them. Date night with the Walking
Dead once a week and all.

I try to keep this new
interest
quiet
as my daughter had the living daylights scared out
of her during a flash mob in the Wal-Mart parking lot last Halloween.

I find there is quite the
variety
of undead
these days, but they all smell, they’re all rotting from the inside out
and their grip can reach you from as far as the bottom of the ocean

I meet them sometimes—
line
at the gas station,
running for office, cheating on their spouses. I see them wrench their
two-year-old’s arm, as if because they are zombies, they think it shouldn’t
hurt.