Favourite: Sheer Stubborn Perversity

The image that started it all…

This past week my Facebook and Twitter feeds featured the above picture of daisies.  Most of the related clickbait headlines or comments were practically glowing with panic and horror, like “Japanese radiation deforming flowers!”  “Contamination mutates nature!” “Flowers, fruits and animals suffering years after tsunami-caused nuclear disaster…” “I think these are GMO flowers #seriously #eatrealfood #gmoisdeath #coconutwaterislife”  (these aren’t real quotes, just general summaries of ones I saw).

After a quick click or two to check that the flowers had apparently been photographed in the area claimed, I stopped reading the wheezing, shrieking pieces that went along with it. But I found myself thinking about the photo every day.

I LOVE those little flowering champions!

Stubborn: adjective stub·born

: refusing to change your ideas or to stop doing something

: difficult to deal with, remove, etc.

In the face of all sorts of challenges, that plant just got on with living. Deliberately, stubbornly pushed its roots a little deeper down, in order to better stretch for the sun. Then, using its inbuilt DNA and resources, flowered.  In spite of changes in radiation levels, not being in a nurtured garden, it just got on with life.  And not only did it manage one flower, but several, and in bold and surprising ways.

Perverse: adjective per·verse

: wrong or different in a way that others feel is strange or offensive

Of course, humans freaked out because all the flowers weren’t normal – some were weird, perverse, wrong looking and not how they were meant to look, at least according to the people freaking out online. I’m betting that flower doesn’t know, doesn’t care, and (unless one of those pesky humans has come and dug it out or cut it up) it’s still there, photosynthesising away, flirting with the bees and hoping for rain. Continue reading

Peculiar Treasures: Looking Forward, Back and Inside Out

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How’s your week looking? How was your weekend? We’ve gathered some links for you to consider while you go forward or linger a little closer the week that was.

For a wonderful proof of magic and music being there if you look for it, check out how some birds resting on a power line became a wordless song.

If looking for your first pioneer is further back than yourself or grandparents, as in a pioneer ancestor who crossed the plains, this website may give you insights and information you never knew about them.

Looking at the women in the scriptures, we have two links this week.  First, this quick list of 5 women called prophetesses in the Bible. A good list to think about, seeing as The Exponent is holding a Midrash short story contest – which is calling for short stories about the lives and back stories of women in scripture.

Depression changes what is seen and felt, even what we know we know. This post links eleven posts, podcasts or talks from people of faith about holding faith close in the dark.

Looking at google images for decades hoping to find her birth mother’s face, read how a DNA test and Facebook lead to success.

Do you watch what you say? How’s your “vocal fry” or “upspeak”? This podcast discusses linguistic tics and habits (such as apologising in general conversation and other quirks found mostly in women) and the effect it may be having on individuals and the wider community.

Our first draft poetry is by Lara, inspired by the previous podcast.

Google was that number we talked
about in math class, the word texting
did not exist, and now they’ve
decided the way women speak is weak—
too unlike the push and shove of a
man’s moving linguistics so it is

us who must change, taking the
curl of our sympathy, the whisk
of our peacemaking and smooth of
our comfort
out like the stain
of oppression is all in the way we say

I love you
the way we build or decompose,
but butter and Crisco are not the same
thing, sweet creates a different kind of
potato, and there is a reason Granny Smith
is best for pies—

I’m good with repentance, with changing
hearts, with adding nuts to your mother’s
mother’s recipe,
or taking them out, I just can’t get my head
around the need for me to speak and think

and breathe like a man, in a man’s world, in a
shirt too big for me,
in suspenders to keep up his pants,
when I’m a woman and my skin
and my words—even when I tell you
you’re beautiful on the outside

and your dress is cute—
those words fit me just fine,
taste good without
substitution or correction.

Sabbath Revival: “The Dirt and the Glory”

I’m embarrassed by the fact that my yard is dead. I mean, if it weren’t for a variety of non-grass weeds growing in what should be lawn, there wouldn’t be any green at all.

I live in the desert, it’s July, and not only is it expensive, but I feel a certain amount of guilt pouring potable water on my yard when so much of the world is in a drought. I mean, the church has even stopped watering the lawn at the LA Temple. Despite UT not mandating water reduction, I take solace in the fact that my yard is in good company.

Yet that doesn’t keep me from feeling, like Justine does in today’s Sabbath Revival post from October 2006. Anyone else feeling this way?

~~~~~

Do I need to have a beautiful garden to get into the Celestial Kingdom? Am I compromising my eternal potential if I have more weeds than pansies?

Seriously. I’m really not kidding.

There are so many gospel true-isms in gardening. The law of the Harvest. The value of hard work. You reap what you sow. Adam and Eve were cast out to overcome the thorns and bristles. You name it, you can somehow apply it to dirt.

And so it is, as I stare at my garden, I wonder. We had wonderful tomatoes and pumpkins this year. We managed a few raspberries and strawberries. But really, we planted those berries in the hopes they would “take-over” and reclaim a weed infested area. We kinda hoped the pumpkin would do that too. It didn’t.

Melissa Young wrote a piece for our Spring 2005 issue, “The Garden of Eaten”. I could so thoroughly relate to her frustration that it was comforting to know I was understood. But even Melissa has the most beautiful flower beds in the whole of Cache Valley.

So here I am left to wonder why I can’t seem to keep anything alive. Those dang people at the Nursery where we shop, they must love to see us. We buy plants, we plant them, we water them, we wonder at them, we watch them slowly wither and die. We’ve done it a hundred times.

If I can’t keep plants alive, if I can’t manage to keep weeds out, how could I possibly be entrusted with the glory of the Lord? Is this a stewardship kind of issue?

The pattern of poor gardening is so brimming with good intentions, I often feel those intentions should power my garden through each summer. Spring comes, and brings with it the hope and promise of a new start. We plant. We weed and water and fuss faithfully for weeks.

Then it gets hot. My very earnest and honorable intentions are tested. They are pressed up against the heat of the day, the sweat of my brow. I waver. I falter.

By July, everything is usually dead. The vegetables that are lucky enough to be planted in the path of the sprinklers feebly live on, but all else slips quietly into the great beyond. Even those plants still living are encased by bazillions of weeds. Intentions, somehow, have failed me.

I, during these times, feel strangely bound for hell.

Pavlova Meditation

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Some cakes I can bang out in under 3 minutes: measure, dump, stir, oil tin, whack in oven. But pavlovas tend to be a more meditative experience. Incredibly simple, only 2 ingredients for the actual pav (and really, you should call it a pav, it’s what we Aussies call it and it’s our unofficial dessert*), but with 2 double handfuls of opportunity to drift off into hushed dreams and gentle musings. Even when I’m in a rush to make one, I’m always side-tracked by the odd thought as I make the gorgeous meringue deliciousness.

Pavs are astoundingly easy to make, and hugely impressive as a dessert. The fact that they are a luscious confound of sweet, light, chewy and melting, let along the ability to dress up elegant or slouch for a casual event, makes it even more worth the simple (and wonderfully hands free) process. The meditation/daydreaming is an extra delight.

You can make pav with a handheld mixer, but a stand mixer is best, with a whisk attachment.  You will need 4 egg whites (make sure there’s no egg yolk lurking in there), 1 cup of fine sugar (not confectioners or icing sugar – caster or white sugar’s fine, brown sugar is a lovely choice too) and that’s it for the actual pav. Seriously, just those ingredients. The decoration on top comes later and is totally up to your own preferences.

So, toss the egg whites into the stand mixer or bowl, and start whipping on medium speed. When they start to thicken just enough to see the beater marks left behind, add in a quarter cup of sugar.  Meditation prompt: How on earth is this going to make a decent dessert? Think about other messes that turned out well.  Mmmm, good desserts… remember great desserts of stomachs past. Continue reading

Swords and Scripture Stories

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My 2-year-old wielded his first pretend sword last week. The toy-golf-club-turned-weapon came at me swiftly as my son whacked at my arm. With no older siblings or TV to turn him on to violence — even the just-for-fun, boys-will-be-boys kind — I was surprised at this sudden change in his nature. He’s typically calm, thoughtful, and sensitive, with no interest in fighting.

But then it clicked. Ammon. We’ve been reading a story each morning from the illustrated Book of Mormon, and we’d just made it through the Ammon arm-cutting adventure. Could the Book of Mormon be influencing my son to behave exactly as I don’t want him to? Since then, he’s made a few other attempts at fighting, or “battle” as he termed it one day. Not quite what I was going for when I decided to make scripture reading part of our morning ritual.

And while I’ve continued to read with my son each morning (he asks for the stories daily, and I don’t know how I’d explain a sudden stop), I do so hesitantly and with much editing. I emphasize the stories where weapons of war are buried and violence is shunned. I tone down the stories where the words “murder,” “fight,” and “kill,” are the focus. I’m at an absolute loss on how to explain certain actions that are OK for one group and not OK for another — why were some commanded to lay down their weapons, while others are told to kill, kill, kill? When I read the unabridged Book of Mormon on my own, I don’t feel the violence quite so much; there’s a lot more to the scriptures than fighting. But when you’re reading just the “stories,” which is basically what the illustrated version encompasses, there’s a lot of not-so-nice action.

I’m not interested in sheltering my son from the realities of real life. I won’t raise him to believe violence doesn’t exist. And I do want my children to learn early and often from the scriptures. But, so far, I’m not seeing a great way to make this happen with a preschooler. For now, I’ll try to whip through the R-rated scenes and then meander through those few chapters that focus on peace, faith, and love. But, what next? When will I feel OK about introducing the heavy stuff? And how can I integrate the most important teachings of the Book of Mormon — that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that we’re blessed when we’re keeping the commandments — when those lessons aren’t easily described with illustrations?

To the seasoned parents and Primary teachers, how have you dealt with violence in the scriptures in your homes? What methods have you used to teach young children the scriptures?