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Monday, June 29, 2009

reconstruction

Cedar City in and of itself is no large city. It has grown in the past decade, to be sure, but to my Metropolitan Detroit mind, Cedar has always been a small town. The size of it is nothing, however, in comparison to the miniscule nature of my hometown.
Newcastle, Utah barely exists it is so small, but that's where I'm from. My summers as a child were spent almost entirely in this southern Utah community. The longstanding joke is that the population is roughly 100, but that's including the livestock. I went home this weekend, to Cedar and also out to Newcastle to trace through some of the old haunts.
As you drive west out of Cedar City and head into the mountains, you can feel the pulls of the modern world diminishing. Once you're in those hills, things rarely change. Buildings last forever, people die but are replaced with new birth. Life out there is ever constant and unchanging. A total refuge from the draws of the rest of the world and the perfect way for me to reconnect with the little girl inside of me that has been aching to come out lately.

Friday, June 26, 2009

george

You know in every great fantasy story how the Hero/Heroine has to go on some sort of epic journey? Well, invariably the journeying takes place at night to avoid being seen and then the party sleeps during the day. What has got my idle brain going is this: can sleeping during the day really be any safer? I mean, if there are all of those Who's Its and What Nots scowering the countryside for the Hero and his Motley Crew, how can the sleeping machos really be secure? There's always a mind-reader with the Searchers, and total Forces of Darkness capable of anything. How then is it possible for the group to sleep through the day and travel at night still without being seen? It just boggles the mind..

Thursday, June 25, 2009

a rose by any other name

A small sampling of why this year's Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art is so awesome. The entries shown below are all particularly interesting to me because of their names. Giving a title to a piece of art is always a challenge. It's no wonder many artists resort to "Still life," "Triptych," or even "Landscape." These artists, however, chose titles that engage the viewer a little bit further in the work and make the piece all the more fascinating.


Exchange Students


All the Kings Men

This last one is my personal favorite, and not for intellectual reasons. It is my favorite because when I discovered it I was down in the dumps, and as soon as I learned it's name, I smiled and haven't stopped since.


Big Head, Little Arms





For any of you who missed the reference, that is what the dinosaur of a very similar build "says" in the Disney film Meet the Robinsons, a personal Disney favorite of mine.





Wednesday, June 24, 2009

walking in a wettish wonderland

This boardwalk, wetland paradise is located roughly a block and half (a little more, but not much) from my townhouse. And I didn't know about it until three days ago! Either I'm an oblivious moron or someone seriously forgot to tell me of all the wonders of my neighborhood in the past year. I'd like to believe it's the latter, but I'm more inclined towards the former.
Why do I think this way? Well, it's in the same park as this:
Yes. That's right. My Lake of Shining Waters. In fact, my LOSW feeds directly into the Wetland Wonderland. Fascinating, right?

I agree.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

borders "rewards"

Dear Borders,

You and I have had many good times together. You've always been there for me, offering the perfect book, film, or audio selection to see me through. You saw me through Shakespeare in high school, and were somehow able to turn up all of those random books about Scandinavia during my undergrad. It's been great! Our relationship strengthened when you came out with Borders Rewards. We were able to strike a compromise where I was able to use ridiculously awesome coupons to buy even more books.

But here's the thing, you keep sending me these coupons. And the coupons keep getting better! Didn't you hear I'm moving in two weeks and am already having to pry myself away from a good chunk of my collection? Why, in the name of all that is good and holy, would you keep sending me amazing coupons that I can't refuse? What have I ever done but offer you my patronage? All I ask is a sabbatical of a few weeks, just so I can go east without the loss of any more books. That's it!

Thank you for your consideration.

Your favorite shopper,

engquist

Monday, June 22, 2009

art appreciation

After weeks of my orientation being put off, I was finally able to begin volunteering at SMA last Friday. My art geek went into overdrive and I felt totally at home. Definitely a good sign as you're preparing to begin a course of study in Art Administration, no? I answered phones and basked in the ambiance of the building.

Toward the end of my shift, a large group of individuals came in to see this year's Spring Salon. A little background about the museum first though. The permanent collection is very much so oriented to traditionalist depictions of nature and people. There are stunning landscapes, portraits of people who would otherwise be forgotten. Many of the artists are or were Utah natives, painting life in this western state. Then there is one of the largest collections of Soviet Russian paintings anywhere. Yet again, very classic and traditional but from the other side of the world.

The Spring Salon takes place every year, mirrored after the salons of Paris. Local artists bring in their pieces to be judged and hopefully placed on display. This year nearly 1200 entries were submitted with roughly 250 being selected for the salon now on display. Unlike the permanent collection, the Spring Salon is a smattering of every medium and every subject matter under the sun. The post-modernists, the potters, the political activists, the politely placid; all have a place in the exhibit. I love the permanent collection, but I think I love the exhibits even more. The variety of the talents of local artists is just astounding, and to see all of the different styles side by side is just fantastic.

Well, this large group came in on Friday afternoon to take a look at the Salon. They wandered in small groups, in pairs, and some on their own through the different galleries. I watched them as they took in different pieces. The abstract sculptures were given serious thought and inquiry. The touching tableaux exerted appropriate emotional reactions. Some of the group preferred the landscapes of mountains to the multi-media abstractions. It didn't matter though, everyone found something to enjoy.

Why did this group's reverence and respect for the arts stick out to me? It was a field trip for at least two dozen mentally handicapped adults. They were absolutely darling and I savored every moment I had watching them. I loved seeing their innocent minds grapple with the pieces in front of them. These individuals astounded me with their admiration of the gallery. It gave me a renewed excitement over what I'm going into and what the future holds. If I can bring the arts closer to individuals like that, I'll have done a good day's work.

kindred spirit

...is a term for someone who shares similar thoughts, feelings, someone who is close in temperament and nature to yourself, to whom you have a rare spiritual link that is very special and you can't quite explain.

as defined by wikipedia.org and agreed upon by the author of this blog

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ode to the pioneer woman

"I think if I ran into Hugh Jackman and Ree (the Pioneer Woman) in the supermarket/restaurant/place I would scream and point and shout at Ree like a 13 year old, and would casually give Hugh a 'Waz up.'"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

everything works towards balance

That's about the only thing I remember from any of my middle school science classes, but it has stuck with me. Everything in nature and science works towards balance. Most often I think of the weather in terms of this. If one part of the world is flooding, it must needs be that drought occurs elsewhere.

Today, however, I got to thinking about creatures and this methodology. I heard a report that the Large Blue Butterfly, once extinct in the UK, has been reintroduced via a strand still thriving in Scandinavia to the island kingdom. Now, please don't take me to be a hater of animals, but, if everything works towards balance, is there really a need to reintroduce a species?

Apparently the LBB was dependent upon a certain variety of ant that was no longer available in the UK, and thus the LBB also died out there. Things change. Ecosystems are constantly in flux. Creatures learn to adapt to their environment, and those who don't, move on or die out. It sounds harsh, but it is a reality. The LBB died out in the UK. It couldn't make it. The species still lived in the north, so was not in danger of wholly disappearing off the face of the planet.

But so what if it were? All things come to an end at one point or another. If everything works towards balance, why single out certain species for preservation? Such notions confuse me...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Julie Anne-drews

When I read books, I get sucked into their world and I have a hard time escaping. This becomes problematic with science fiction and fantasy novels where the stories aren't even set on this planet. Jane Austen gives me grief because I'm not British, and I begin speaking like I'm from the early nineteenth century. Anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery takes me a lifetime to get over. No really, I've never escaped. Ever. And I don't want to.

Today I found this place, and what did I instantly think?



I have my own Lake of Shining Waters!

Then I began frolicking around the small pond, dancing in the rain like I was Maria von Trapp.



It was a really good day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

home sweet home

Being from Detroit, I keep getting asked what I think of what's happening with the auto industry. General Motors declares bankruptcy, Fiat buys out Chrysler. It's all a lot to handle and come to terms with. In all honesty, I have know idea what to think of it. There are too many factors to consider by such a poor economist as myself.

The whole situation is a mess. I am grateful that the government did step in, as even more jobs would have been lost otherwise. At the same time, the government is now too involved to truly benefit a capitalistic system. Furthermore, as much as we want to claim them, these are no longer American giants of industry. These are companies being supported by foreign companies and governments. (The provincial government of Ontario and then feds out of Ottawa gave money to GM last week.) I also know that the industry will never be the same. Consumers are more cautious, looking for a long-term investment rather than the schnazziest ride. Finances are tight, for everyone. In some cases, even if one wanted to buy a new car, the financial backing isn't available to give them that option. Cars are no longer a necessity.

What frustrates me when discussing this situation with others is that there is little understanding of how far-reaching the decline of the auto industry really is. It's not just about the board members who made bad decisions. It's about an industry that has been changing over the past decade faster than the producers can handle it. Americans have been fuming over a recession for a year now. People from the Great Lakes region have been struggling for the past four years. No one cared. No one noticed.

As the world was going green, it suddenly became uncool to drive an American-made vehicle, which let off more emissions than anyone wanted to admit to. The car companies tried to make changes, to meet the demands of consumers, but it was too little too late. The companies began hemorrhaging money. Then lay-offs came. People began moving away, trying to find a job anywhere. Houses sat on the market for months, some never sold at all.

When the former automotive employees moved, the consumer dynamic began to shift drastically as well. Local businesses started disappearing from the scene as they had fewer clientele to support them. What kind of businesses are we talking about? All of them. From the accountant, to the grocer, the welder, to the construction engineer. Projects were cut, funding cut, more jobs lost. More jobs that no one even relates to the decline of the auto industry.

The thing is, it's getting worse. Detroit has been a ghost town for decades but was on the verge of a rebirth before everything happened. It used to be that the deserted buildings lay south of Eight Mile, the notorious border between Detroit and its northern suburbs. Now, the vacant lots are growing at an alarming rate across the expansive metro area. Foreclosure and bankruptcy are facts of life for everyone. Not just the auto workers.

Yesterday, however, I was pleased to learn that there is one car manufacturer that is doing well; Little Tikes can't seem to meet the demand for their Cozy Coupe two-door sedan.
The only emissions are those of high-pitched delight from the toddlers who drive them. Powered by the driver itself- just like Barney and Fred in the Flinstones- it is very resourceful. Priced at $49 dollars, it makes children and parents alike love their automobile.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

what kind of ring are you?

Facebook has been littered with all sorts of quizzes lately. What Harry Potter character are you? How much of a Utahn are you? (I got a ridiculously low score on this one, thanks most likely to my disregard of Diane Rehm.) Well, there was this one that I took for kicks and giggles: What kind of engagement ring are you? Since I live in Happy Valley and everyone around me is getting married, married, or talking about wanting to be married, I took the quiz.

The ring was the ugliest thing ever and most appallingly unlike me. I deleted the entry and haven't thought of it since. Until today, that is. I stumbled across this while perusing the world wide interweb. I fell in love in less than a second. This, ladies and gentleman, is the kind of engagement ring I am.


Why am I this ring? Well, for those who don't know me, my accessory collection consists of pearls, silver, and that's about it. I'm preppy. It's what we do. Pearls! Then there's the funky band on this, giving it an artistic flair. The reason this is truly the ideal ring for me?

It's $75.

That's it.

I don't need an expensive ring, in fact, I don't want one. I don't want a big diamond that will most definitely bring me bodily harm. No, I'd much rather have this simple pearl ring, with a lower setting than the monstrous rock and most definitely a lower price tag. To be honest, I'd rather the money be spent on a washer and dryer, or a bed, or bookshelves (heaven only knows I'll need several of those) than on one little piece of jewelry.

What kind of ring am I? I'd like to call it Classy on a budget.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

radio personality

Whilst living in Utah these past six years, I have learned certain truths. Hair can be teased to unnatural heights. You can live an entire lifetime while waiting for the light to change. And Utahns don't believe in talk radio.

For some reason, I took talk radio for granted. Growing up in Detroit, it seems like the AM dial was just as loaded as the FM. Not here. I could not for the life of me find a talk radio station. When I did, I wished I hadn't. It was bland, boring, and not interesting.

Then one day, the gods smiled down on me and showed me NPR, the blessed creation it is. I felt culturally enriched, up to date on the news, and downright better towards the world. That is, up until Diane Rehm was on all the time, or at least whenever I could listen to the radio. Her show is broadcast on the local station here for two hours in the morning. Two excruciating hours which completely void out my interest and love for NPR. I love her guests, love the topics. The callers usually have worthwhile questions and comments.

But Diane herself is the problem.

Heaven bless the woman, I'm sure she's been around forever and has done great things for the world of radio broadcasting, but she's old. I'm convinced the show is two hours long because it takes that long for her to get questions out. Her voice is painful, a problematic situation when you work in radio, and I love it when she is away. The guest hosts are typically female, with lovely on-air voices, who engage well with the fascinating guests. There are even occasions when the guest host comes from the BBC and boasts a glorious British accent.

What sparked this outburst against the old and (by the tone of their voice) infirm? I remembered to turn on my radio this afternoon to catch some NPR, thoroughly convinced I had missed Diane. And then, her voice came through the speakers.

She's coming to do a show in Salt Lake.

New truth: Utahns are ginormous gluttons for punishment.

Monday, June 08, 2009

bane of my existence

Packing. It sucks. It's stupid. I hate it. Especially when dealing with the contents of everything I own, which I am quickly finding out is a LOT. Apparently I've been nesting this past year.

With packing comes the sorting, the deciding of what should be donated, sold, packed, ignored, etc. How do I decide which books to leave behind, which pieces of art? That's like asking me, “Hey, you don't really need that lung, do you?” Yes. I do. I like breathing, thank you very much! It's refreshing to get rid of some things, but really, I like my books, all of them! And the artwork! (Don't even get me started on the pottery or rugs. I don't even want to consider parting with any of those items.)

What am I having the hardest time letting go of?

My sofa.

Why is Ohio so far away?! I want to take that sofa with me everywhere! I think I sleep more often on it (and it's only a love seat) than my bed. In all honesty, my mattress here sucks, a lot, and wreaks havoc on my already problematic back. Hence the bonding with the sofa. The sofa that I got for a steal of a deal. The sofa that made my cavernous room feel more homey and welcoming. The sofa that was the perfect fit for my preppy, quirky personality. The sofa that won't fit in my Toyota Corolla as I drive cross country.

Excuse me as I go through everything I own and get rid of it so I can figure out how to make that sofa fit.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day

When I lived in Europe, I was overwhelmed by the residual effects of World War II. The cultural, economic, and sociological reverberations of it echo in the daily conversations of citizens. It is nearly impossible to walk the streets of large cities and not come across a monument or another. Entire sectors of cities had to be rebuilt after bombings. Cathedrals would never be the same. Priceless pieces of history destroyed.

Then there are the lives, the people who fought, lived, and died on the continent during the war. You can still see the scars left in the eyes of some of the elderly. It was tragic and altered European history.

On 6 June 1944, sixty-five years ago today, the allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in what is known as D-Day. Thousands of men died for a cause they believed in. Thousands of French civilians lost their lives as those that remained watched the beginning of the end.

As an American, my view of D Day and of World War II has been changed forevermore by my experience in Europe. My social history of it always made reference to war bonds and Rosie the Riveter, but made so little mention of the impact the war truly had. It wasn't until I lived there that I began to understand the significance of D Day and the relief it brought to so many, and the despair to others. It is a marvel to me that these countries work in harmony together now, a short sixty-five years later, when the whole continent had been on the brink of destroying itself.

Today I am truly grateful for the lessons history offers us. I am grateful for the land I grew up in. And I am grateful for those who believed in their countries and what they represented as they stormed the shores of Normandy.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

wednesdays

Wednesday, the long oft neglected day of the week. The only credit it seems to receive is marking the halfway point to the weekend. Once Wednesday is over, the week suddenly looks much better. It is the tipping point of the week. For me, Wednesday is the pinnacle, my mid-week Friday. I look forward to it with irreconcilable anticipation. Every day this week, I woke up firmly believing it was already Wednesday. This morning, however, I confused myself further and thought it was Thursday and felt that I had done an injustice to Wednesday. Indeed, I believed I had somehow missed Wednesday. Imagine my delight when I realized the day had finally arrived!

But why, you might ask, do I love this day so much?


First off, I hear from my brother who is servi
ng a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Northern Italy. These weekly emails are the only communication I have from him while he is away and I thrive off of them. He's my best friend. We write each other like we were talking, offering intercontinental love, support, and anecdotes. We joke together and build one another up spiritually. It. Is. The. BEST! I read these emails first thing when I get to work on Wednesdays, setting the tone for my day.

Then there is what I look forward to even more, don't tell my brother that, but I think he would approve. I count down the remaining moments in the day, sitting on the edge of my seat like a middle school student tracks the last minutes until the summer holiday. Running out the door, I hop into my car and drive about ten minutes north to this place:



The Provo, Utah temple. While I still think this place looks like an industrial built cupcake, or a product of the designers of the Jetsons, it has become one of my favorite places on the planet. It is here that I serve others in the sacred manner outlined by the Lord. I learn, grow, and for nearly two hours every week, I feel nothing but the purest peace and happiness. Nothing can harm me inside of its walls. My temple worship has become a major part of my life, indeed, a part of me. As I've considered my upcoming move, I have taken into consideration access to the temple. Columbus, Ohio has a temple as well, meaning I can continue in the sacred service I have grown to love.



Wednesday, thank you for becoming the highlight of my week. Friday, don't worry, you still hold a soft spot in my heart.

Monday, June 01, 2009

lemonade

There are times in life where you get dealt a really awful hand, when the dice seem loaded. There are days when it feels like the entire lemon tree fell on you, not just a couple of lemons. That's how I felt today, or perhaps, how I should have felt. A monumental event happened to me, something that I cannot control and which will undoubtedly impact my immediate and foreseeable life. I should have been devastated, in stead I was shocked, scared, and mildly hurt.

This past week in particular, I have been praying for an answer to a very specific situation: moving to Ohio. When should I go? Now? Later? Not at all? What? Last night I was basking in a spiritual high, certain that I had the answer: December. Leave in December. I walked into work this morning, basking in the residual effects of such a high when my boss called me into his office. My job was being downsized, drastically, putting me in a part-time position. I was grateful beyond measure to still know that I had a job at all, but I knew it was only temporary. I would be replaced and would need to find other employment.

This, unbelievably, was the answer to my prayer. Through my initial tears and worries, I recognized that I had just been liberated from the bonds that tie me here. I can move, get used to Ohio, and make a new start of it and soon.

Though I felt (and probably looked) like a woman scorned throughout the day, my attitude changed drastically once I left the office. This was predominantly the doing of friends and family who listened to me as I unveiled the events of the day, let alone week. I received incredible support, advice, but more importantly, an insurmountable mass of love from all fronts. This, more than anything, was what I needed. The lemons from that wretched tree rapidly turned into the sweetest lemonade anyone ever tasted and I prepared to set up shop.

Prayer works. Woah, buddy, does it work! Furthermore, the Lord is willing to barrage us with blessings, we just have to be willing to recognize them. My sudden minimized employment is most definitely a blessing in disguise. Sure, finances are going to be tight, but when haven't they been? Furthermore I was reminded of what an incredible support system I have and that I am never alone. Ever. To all of you, and you know who you are, thank you.