Monthly Archives: July 2012

read any good books lately?

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I am a fairly obsessive reader, and I get asked this question a lot:

Have you read any good books lately?

So I’m wondering why I usually stand there like a deer in headlights and can’t think of a thing to answer.

Of course I’ve read good books lately.  Many of them.  I just can’t seem to bring anything specific to mind when the question is asked.

Many things go through my mind: what kind of books do I think they would like?  what would be the best recommendation?  with all the books I’ve read, which ones stand out most in my mind?

Maybe if I read fewer books, it would be easier to come up with one or two to recommend off hand.  But I read LOTS of books.  Soooo… here’s what I usually answer:

Have you heard of a website called goodreads?

If I can get my friends on goodreads, they can see everything I’ve read and even read my little reviews to find out what I think about them.  PLUS, extra bonus, I can see what THEY have read as well (if they take the time to enter them), and then I can get book recommendations in return.

I LOVE goodreads.  After the library, it’s my favorite book place.

So, if you want to know about the good books I have read lately, check out goodreads. (Yes, it’s a shameless plug.  But it’s free, so why not?)

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edges of our expectation

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In my alumni magazine for the BYU College of Humanities, there is an article by J. Scott Miller (Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages) called “Out of the Blue: Serendipity, Translation, and Literature.”  Of the various issues he discusses, one quote really caught my attention.  He says that

art is found just beyond the edges of our expectation, where we are challenged to interrogate strangeness

He means art in all forms.  In fact, in just the next paragraph he restates this same idea, using the word truth in place of the word art(“I invite you to think about the times when you have stumbled upon beauty in ugly places or have found truth just beyond the edges of your expectations.”)

I find this an intriguing definition of art.  I am currently in the process of developing a syllabus for an art appreciation course I will be teaching this fall, and I am using a new textbook.  In the past, I have taught more of a history-based course, starting with the art of prehistory (cave paintings, pottery, Stonehenge, etc.) and continuing through modern times.  But this new text has less of a linear or chronological flow, and I am trying to rethink my process of teaching to make this class a little broader in its discussion of art.

So I am extremely open right now to new ways of thinking about art.  My recent excursion to LACMA with the kids has also contributed to this.  I found myself fascinated with the oversized contemporary sculptures and watching how my children responded to these works of art.  They had very little patience for the representational two-dimensional paintings that hung on the walls of the museum.  They wanted to touch and walk around (or through) the art and experience in it in a very physical, emotional and personal way.  They liked what was new and different.  They liked being presented to familiar things (like a rock) in an exaggerated and specific way.  They never once stopped to ask, is this art?  They immersed themselves in the experience and enjoyed the sensation of the “strangeness” of presentation.

Another thing that has altered my perception of art was being invited to be on a jury panel for an international art competition hosted by the Museum of Church History and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I love the art of the past, but I have always had a harder time with current trends in art.  Looking at, and judging, works of art created in the last couple of years, was inspirational.  The competition was for religious art, but the theme, Make Known His Wonderful Works, was broad enough to elicit an amazingly wide range of submissions.  I had never had to make the kinds of judgments before that would rank an artist’s work worthy to hang in the show or even win an award.  It was enriching to need not only to choose works that I liked, but to be able to discuss them, defend them, and try to understand them.  Within a religious culture where much of Church art is didactic and for teaching scriptural stories, it was refreshing to look at works that went beyond that: that went “beyond the edges of our expectations” and to challenge us to see the things of God (truth) in new or unusual ways.

I am grateful for these experiences in art.  I enjoy using the things I have studied and taught, and pushing beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone.

hall wall

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I’ve been thinking about wallpapering my hallway, but I can’t decide on a pattern.  My hallway is long and a little bit narrow, so when I try to hang pictures, it feels claustrophobic.  But I still want some interest and design.

So I’ve been thinking about wallpaper.   There are so many options, but I have been thinking about something with a large graphic pattern.  Here are some options that appeal to me.

I am in love with this Orla Kiely multi stem wallpaper.  The colors are perfect for my house, and the pattern is simple and graphic.  Here is it in a bathroom:

Perhaps it would be too busy if I did my whole hallway, but maybe on just one side?  Problem is, every time I visit Orla Kiely’s website (which I have done for 9 months now), this paper is always OUT OF STOCK!

I may be equally in love with this Imperial Trellis design by Kelly Wearstlear.  Here it is in citrine (love this color!), but I’m also drawn to the silver:

Here it is in yet another color, but in a hallway!  Isn’t it fabulous?

My house is full of great color, so I’ve been thinking about something with grey in it to tone everything down (and tie in my grey velvet sofa), so here are some in that color range:

This pattern is called Kew by Jocelyn Warner.  I love the grey/gloss on top (the bottom just shows more of an allover design in the same pattern, different color), because it is subtle, but still full of energy.  Speaking of energy, how about this Seville pattern at Graham & Brown:

Or this one in silver and white, called Jazz, also at Graham & Brown:

Graham & Brown also has this very cool frames wallpaper, where you can attach your own photos or kids art, or whatever.  It could also get very busy if I covered everything, but perhaps if we added a chair rail and only put the wallpaper on top?

This Arthouse Opera Retro Leaf design from Direct Wallpaper also has a lot of grey in it, but I love the addition of other colors (just in case I decide grey on its own would be too boring).

Along those same lines is this purple and green design (by Julia Rothman).  I love the white background, which really lightens it up and makes the colors pop!

So you see my dilema.  There are so many fabulous choices!  I can factor in cost and availability too, but I want my first choice to be about design.  Maybe now that I have a lot of my favorites lined up in one place, it will help me compare and make a better decision.  Any thoughts?

with two cats in the yard

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My two cats hide in the front yard all day to avoid both our dog (which really doesn’t bother them too much) and our cat-loving daughter (who loves them too loudly, ebulliently and roughly).  They hang out more in our neighbor’s yard, or on the hill between our houses (as in this picture).  When I cannot see them from my windows (which, really, is most of the time), I at least have two stone cats that peek out from my greenery to make me smile.

This little stone beauty came from Target several years ago.  I love to see him sitting between my tree and bushes because with just a quick glance, it can trick me into thinking it’s a real cat there.  It is just the right size and pose.  Here is what he looks like from the street:

Just a month or so ago I spotted another unique stone cat at HomeGoods.  My time was running out to pick up my son from school, but I figured that if I carried it quickly to the checkout, I would be only a minute or two late.  Unfortunately, when I tried picking it up, it was so heavy that I knew I could not carry it across the store without a cart.  And I did not have enough time to get a cart, come back and get the cat.  It would have to wait for another day.

Two days later I went back and was relieved to find it still there waiting for me.  I had my husband along to do the heavy lifting.  And with an additional discount for a cracked base, I got the cat for less than $20.  Amazing deal!  I love seeing this artistic cat posing in my yard.

Now, whether my own two cats choose to be on view, I always have two cats in the yard to enjoy.

literary signpost

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Yesterday, Scholastic posted this image on facebook from the Crown Publishing Group and I was charmed.  I love the idea of a sign post like this in my garden.  The post then asked if there were any literary destinations that we would add.  Of course there are!  Here are some things I would add to my sign:

1. Wonderland, instead of Neverland (never been much of a fan of Peter Pan, but I am a BIG Alice geek).

2. Green Gables.  Who doesn’t want to go there?

3. The Secret Garden (though why would you have a sign if it is secret?).

4. Pemberley.  I may take this road more often than others, excepting perhaps the next one…

5. Jurisfiction.  Have you read Jasper Fforde?  If not, you should.  (There’s a new Thursday Next book coming out this year–it’s out now in the UK, but we have to wait a few months here in the US.)

What would you have on your sign post?

more lacma pics

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My friend Jayni posted her pics from our trip, and they were so fun that I wanted to spend another post highlighting her pictures from our trip to LACMA.  You will notice that the spaghetti curtain was a favorite!

It cracked me up how many pictures Jayni took of ME TAKING PICTURES of my kids.  Here’s just one:

She also took pictures of when I handed the camera over to my kids.  Here’s a classic moment:

This is the picture my daughter took at the same time (say cheese, Jayni!):

My son has mild CP, so he has a hard time holding the camera steady and pressing the button with his one good hand, but he still likes to try:

This is what his picture looks like:

Not too bad.  At least my head isn’t cut off, even if the whole sculpture behind me is missing.  Here’s a more typical shot (he posed me in the bamboo):

My kids always have fun when we give them a turn behind the camera.  And it’s fun to see what they capture!

Here’s some more scenes that Jayni took of me and my kids enjoying the art:

These were the coolest looking elevators, so of course we had to ride them to see where they would take us.  Turns out, they just go down to the parking garage (where we did not park), but they were just as interesting going back up!

Rose insisted she saw a silverfish run under the white ball, but I wouldn’t let her get any closer to the art to smash it.  I’m sure we entertained the guards!

The big rock was easily my youngest son’s favorite thing of the day!

He could touch it by himself on one side, but I had to help him on the other side:

I also really enjoyed these close-ups by Jayni of “Levitated Mass” because they give a whole new perspective on the work:

 I am so glad I took the time to visit LACMA again after all these years, and I’m glad the kids had fun too.  Watching the kids gave me a new way of looking at art and got me thinking about how we react and interact with it.  I hope to incorporate some of my thoughts and ideas into my new art history course that I will be teaching in the Fall.