Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Poems by Me and Ed

It's been a while, so you get one of mine and one from Edmund Spenser. It's fitting that I post some religious sonnets, since this next group of my poems is from when I was a missionary in northern Italy.


And there is bounteous peace across the way
In trees where evening light is still and gray.
The old stone wall, long work of hands, still stands
With drapes of hanging ivy’s greening strands.
Above the wall dead pines mix well with live,
And showing soft their pink, the roses thrive
And break the hold of green and brown and night
And say, "Here’s peace, here’s constant, living light.”
The cobblestones below, that make the street,
Support a simple way for moving feet
To pass from here to there, but feet don’t move.
The man says, “All is good,” yet searches love.
He only sees the cars that pass and honk—
No vision for the trunk of tree, but trunk
Of car as “friends” drive by, not headed for
The peace, but to and fro outside his door.
“My friends pass by, and all is good. That peace
Is far. It’s peaceful here with all the noise.
All is good. The peace is here for me,
And look, there’s almost no one by the Tree.
I’d be alone with all the distant growth.
My God’s companionship’s not near enough."

Edmund Spenser 1552-1599

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin,
And having harrowed hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean washed from sin,
May live forever in felicity:
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again;
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
May love with one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I think of the beauties . . .

Time to post one of my poems. I think I'll start chronologically with what I consider the first good poem I wrote. I'm not going to explain them because they are richer if I don't. If I feel like editing them now, I will. I'd love to know what you think. Maybe it will inspire me to start writing again.

I think of the beauties . . .

Have you felt leaves of a fall maple tree
Shed on your face clean, fragrant rain?
Have you looked into the eyes of beauty
And seen a friend, and let thought sustain
A hope that a thought might quietly start
Within her soul and draw her near?
Have your words flown with your heart
Into the air where no one will hear?
I think of the beauties our lives briefly hold—
White on white clouds pierced by mountainous peak,
The earth’s welcome brown from which seedlings unfold—
Then one final beauty enters my mind,
For I have watched eyes hear me speak
And seen in their softness a heart that is kind.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Household Carbon Emissions

There is an interesting article on policy changes that could reduce carbon emissions in the US by a significant amount over 10 years, with minimal lifestyle changes. The Science Now synopsis is a little misleading, but a lot less work to understand. I believe both of these articles are freely available. If not, I'll try summarizing the PNAS article when I've had time to look at it more thoroughly.

Science Now Synopsis

Monday, November 2, 2009

Giovannino Guareschi--Italian Politcal Satirist

My dad introduced me to The Little World of Don Camillo when I was a teenager. I then went to Italy and discovered that Guareschi was quite a prolific writer. His most famous work is short stories about a small, fictional town in northcentral Italy on the plains of the broad, Po river valley. Don Camillo is the parish priest, and his arch rival and sometimes friend is Peppone, the communist mayor of the town. Guareschi spent two years in a prisoner of war camp in Germany during the last part of World War II. He later published the things he wrote to entertain his fellow prisoners during their time in the camp. There is usually a morbid bent to this humor, unlike his political satire, which can be serious or even sad, but is fundamentally positive. I read one of his brief journal entries, and found it very funny. It took me three readings to get the last line, though. I hope my English translation makes it easier for the rest of you. I've asked an Italian about the meaning of a couple of cultural references. He'll see if he can figure them out for me, but didn't know off the top of his head. I'll edit it when he gets back to me.

The Father
Once upon a time there was a father: a lordly man of notable dignity, two important mustachios, and formidable experience.

This father would say, scandalized, that the youth of his day never smoked, drank alcohol, danced, or stayed out late, never asked for money, never asked for new clothes, didn’t wear out the toes or heels of their shoes, never ate junk from pastry shop, never cruised around in cars, or wasted their lives at the movies, never lit matches and left the sticks lying around, never read the idiocies published in the newspapers, didn’t leave dirty water in the bathroom, didn’t murder all of their socks in the heels, never went without a hat, never planted themselves in front of the radiator, didn’t leave the lights on until two in the morning, never wasted time in frivolous pursuits like skiing, biking, playing tennis, or listening to various Semprini(?), never wasted money on mail(?), never tracked mud in the house, never asked what was for dinner, etc.

A most authoritative figure who made it his duty to teach that the serious minded man must never get involved in politics, but must only follow the masses and respect his superiors and the institutions of the State, and obey orders without ever questioning, thus avoiding, assuredly, any responsibility or trouble.

And the children treasured his fatherly teachings and, in this way, found themselves—surrounded by safe fences—the wisdom of the youth of their father’s day. And they didn’t smoke any more, they didn’t dance, didn’t stay out late, didn’t waste their lives at the movies, didn’t eat junk from the pastry shops, etc. etc.

But Papa, if we ever get home! . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Quilt Project goes up tomorrow! (Around lunchtime, Oct. 24 in Australia)

I'll be checking it out when it does, and you can have a look, too, when the website comes online!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sir Philip Sidney 1554-1586

That's all I know about him, but here's one of his sonnets:

Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to dust;
And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust;
Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might
To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be,
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth both shine and give us light to see.
O take fast hold; let that light be thy guide
In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide
Who seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath.
Then farewell, world; thy uttermost I see:
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finished Quilt Square

A website will go up with the entire quilt in late October. I'll put the link up when I have it. For now, here are some pictures a friend took of the finished product.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Redwork Design

After some days of brainstorming, I finally had an idea I thought would work and started collecting reference materials. I started with a quote that seemed like it would go nicely on display, that reflects my interests, and that I hoped could be enjoyed by others. After rejecting several, I kept a paraphrase from LDS scripture that I felt was nice, but also carries extra significance for me because of the context it is taken from (Doctrine and Covenants 121:33++).

The second step was to choose a picture of the heavens. I started thinking about telescope pictures of nebulae, galaxies, planets, etc., and decided that most of them wouldn't translate well into two tone work. One fortunate morning (I think it was morning) I thought to show the heavens viewed from earth--a nice mountain skyline with the Sun and the Moon both in view. I just had to pick the skyline.

I chose Squaw Peak, Lightning Peak, and Y-Mountain--the skyline I grew up next to. My sister and niece sent me pictures to work from, but there was a small problem. The skyline was too flat and two wide, and Lightning Peak wasn't nearly as imposing as it was in my memory. As you can tell, I solved that by shifting Squaw Peak (on the left) and Y-Mountain (on the right) closer together, and lifting the profile of Lightning peak higher and more into the foreground. I felt a little bad misrepresenting my mountains, but the picture was much better for a quilt square. When my mom sent a picture of the skyline from a different perspective, Lightning peak really was more prominent, and I felt better about my memory.

The Sun and Moon I took from the NASA images website. I looked for pictures that showed interesting texture, since these bodies were to be the central theme of the quilt square. The central Sun picture shows weather on the Sun, and the outer one shows ejecta.

For the last part, I thought it might look good to have someone staring up at the heavens. A picture of me and my boy made a good starting place, which I have further modified in later stages. We'll see if time allows it to remain, since I'm down to a few days to finish the project.

Putting it all together I showed the composite design to my wife.

She was terrified. What had she done recommending I participate in a project with people whose crafting she admired? Would they stop following her blog? Would the blame her for the eyesore in their quilt? Fortunately, the next stage of the design relieved some of her fears.

More updates to follow!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Quilt Project

At my wife's instigation, I just joined "The Quilt Project". I'll be doing a quilt square in redwork embroidery with 30-40 other people. I'm quite excited to see what everyone creates, and it's a great starting project for a blog where I plan to show things I've made and various other things I've found interesting and beautiful. Here's the blog that's sponsoring the project:

Friday, July 31, 2009


I love the sonnet, both to read and to write. Sometimes one seems particularly beautiful or really makes me think. I'll share one at a time as the mood takes me. Here's one by John Donne (1573-1631). I love how this reads like someone speaking, but on inspection keeps perfectly to the standard metric and rhyme of a sonnet. This is characteristic of many of my favorites.

At the round earth's imagin'd corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For, if above all these, my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace,
When we are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that's as good
As if thou hadst seal'd my pardon, with thy blood.