The Beauty of Words

Some people collect stamps. Others collect rocks or trinkets or magnets or keychains: things to remember places by or things to set on their shelf and admire.

I collect words.

But words aren’t quite as tangible as a rare rock or gold trophy, right? Words are almost abstract. Can you touch words? Can you taste words? Can you feel words?

Words are beautiful. I say them sometimes to simply taste them on my tongue. “Pomegranate” is a lovely example: It has an elegant, soft pop that slips back, like the edge a the tide, sliding up, sending a wave of chilly shock up your tingling limbs, and then pulling back.

Maybe not all words flow as smoothly as others, but with each I can taste a clear personality. Like the words, “lurid” or “dado.” The first begging to be sneered, the later to be stuck into a limerick.

Each word has a taste. Each word has it’s rhythm.

And that’s just the personality of it’s outside form.

What about it’s meaning?

It’s funny how specific words can be.

Have you ever wanted to know what to say when you throw someone out a window? Maybe it would be handy for throwing out insults?  Defenestration would be the word you’re looking for. What about describing your favorite activity? Curling up with a huge, thick book. Or curling up with a tome.

Or what about a sense of longing in your heart for something that is now gone. A wishful heart for the “good ole days.” A deep homesickness.

There’s a Welsh word for that. My favorite word in fact.

Hiraeth.

Even in its taste, the word whispers of deep longing.

It sounds like the kind of word you would stand on a distant moor in the middle of a misty morning and mummer to yourself.

One interesting thing I took away from reading the novel Watership Down earlier this year was the world building behind the rabbits’ language.

Different cultures, I realized, shape different words.

While we have no need for the word “silflay,” the rabbits need something to call the action of leaving their holes to go feed on grass.

That fascinates me.

But words are not only beautiful and interesting, they are powerful too.

I feel the glow of words shaped around love. I feel the sting of words shaped around hate and anger. In fact, as the Bible says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:24) That’s a huge power and, like from the quote in the old Spiderman movies: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Do you use words? How often do you use them? On a daily basis?

I do. A lot actually. And so, everyday I hold the power of life and death in my hands. Every minute, every second, I could explode. I could blow up in someone face and scream and yell and tear them down. Or I can take a deep breath. I can smile. And I can ask, “How can I help you today?”

You see, words are tools. Like a hammer, you can use it to build a house. You can shelter your family or bless a person in need. But also like a hammer, you can take words turn them into your weapon. They can be used to tear or build, to scream or laugh, to calm down or to stir up, and to dance or cry.

We all have heard the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We curl up in the night and whisper it ourselves, saying it shouldn’t hurt when it does. But it just isn’t true.

We see in Proverbs 12:18 that wise words heal while rash words harm: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Also Proverbs 15:4: “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

In fact, I could keep going. The power of the tongue is a recurring theme in the Proverbs as King Solomon emphasizes the value of a prudent man’s words and the iniquity of rash man’s.

Words are also powerful because they shape one of the ways we communicate. They help us express our pains and share our thoughts. Collecting them can be useful.

So what are some of your favorite words?

 

Traffic in the City

Like a flock of startled birds

flapping out their wings for flight

umbrellas in the crowd

 

open wide. They bob like

bottles in a stream, colors

catching eyes but secrets

 

corked inside. The taxi drivers

honk like geese & grab which

fish they can, pluck one

 

up then drag it off with

squeals and round the corners with

a calling screech.

Why Kermit Is My New Best Friend + Looking On the Bright Side

I have returned!

Hither from a magical land of falafels, wedding cake, and cousins.

I was told I should write a story about falafels gone wrong, but unfortunately, I was absent from the kitchen when the woeful event occurred and only heard tale of it later when I was asked to step out of the way as the huge can of burning oil was run out of the house to be disposed of.

When the Falafel Flopped does sound like a best seller though, doesn’t it?

And everyone wants to read a story where Whole Foods is the hero, right?

Well, amidst the busy kitchen bustle, the fountains of flowers, the family get-togthers, the glorious flood of frisbee games (in the middle of thunderstorms no less…), gyros and falafels, and the mysterious mosquito bites that appeared the day after the wedding, I have made a new best friend.

Reader, meet Kermit, Kermit meet reader.

Kermit is my new role model. And he really is a frog-of-all-trades.

I have found his wisdom in moments to be absolutely priceless and breathtakingly insightful.

Kermit… Kermit is one of those crazy-talented friends that just gets you. One of those people you respect.

For example.

When your first sibling gets engaged.

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And then gets married a few months later.

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And then when you realize school is just a few days away.

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And then you realize you still haven’t finished your book’s first draft like you were hoping…

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And then you spontaneously decide to make a goal of writing 10k this month.

But then achieve half of that goal in two days.

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And then someone asks the name of your brother’s “wife.”

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And then you discover that your little brother is officially taller than you even when you wear your high heels.

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And then you realize you’re the oldest non-legal adult out of the siblings…. your turn is next.

 

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And then you get stuck on the subject school again and realize you’re only a few years away from graduating high school….

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And then realize that the next academic Mock Trial season is coming and you can’t wait and so you begin flailing your arms and screaming.

But, of course, first grab a legal pad and your favorite black pen and throw on a suit.

Then cue the flailing.

And you end up screaming the Rules of Evidence and Hearsay Objections, instead of random gibberish.

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(For those who don’t know Mock Trial is simply the best sport ever and the only sport you play in high heels and suits and the only sport you get to scribble notes on legal pads and pretend you know everything or pretend to cry or pretend you’re British and the only sport you get to interrogate people during and the reason I have a strange sense of being home when at a courthouse. See why I’m flailing??)

Well sitting here eating a fresh slice of homemade zucchini bread and sipping some Irish tea and trying to sit still (because my mind is still stuck on Mock Trial…), I’m realizing that I’m not sure where to take this post.

My (not-so-little) little brother said that he has never seen a random post from me.

…even though I literally had a post named random.

He says I should just randomly end the post with a random “bye” and shrug off any sense of satisfaction and unconcluded flailing, and no lesson learned.

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Confirmed fact: My little brother is Fozzie Bear. 😉

Not that I don’t like silliness, jokes, or such wonderful-ness, it just feels so inadequate to leave you hanging. Especially after flailing in your face and internal screaming in excitement and shock.

I remember one time chatting with some friends and one offered a template: Thanks to the family who birthed me, raised me, and taught me to _____.

I filled that blank in with “laughter.”

My family has a talent of being able to step back and laugh when everything goes wrong. Not in a mean or flippant way, but just in a fun, spunky, relieving-sort-of-way.

Like when the fire alarm goes off at a hotel in the middle of the night after a day running around at a rollercoaster park, even though it turned out there was no fire, and we end up standing in the middle of a parking lot for three hours, with no shoes and in our pajamas seven firetrucks blinking and flashing until our heads hurt.

Dad says: “Hey let’s see if someone will take a family picture of us in front of one!”

Or during a road trip when we are just chilling on top of a mountain in New Mexico and a huge thunderstorm suddenly covers the sky and pelts us in huge pieces of ice and freezing rain that drenches us to the bones until we can’t feel our limbs are sloshing down as fast as we can, crying so hard we’re laughing, and laughing so hard until we’re crying.

Dad says: “Hey this is a great time to take a video to send to our friends back home!”

 

 

Or the week of a huge move, when a hurricane decides to have in on the fun. Our power goes out for days straight (and we were on a well so that means no water. Period.) while we were hosting my brother and his co-worker for furniture market. (no showers…) and then a friend comes over to help us take apart furniture only to get stranded when our favorite tree (and one of our thickest, largest trees) throws a fit about our abandoning him and tries to smash the first moving trailer that shows up, but barely misses and barricades our driveway instead. And trying to pack everything into the moving trucks (which get stuck in the mud in our yard and are there for many hours) until we are loading in the pitch dark with fifty people in our house (remember no water. Which means no toilet flushing) tripping over each other with boxes of books and bed railing and big fat heavy dressers.

Bright side? I will never forget my last week in my childhood house. It seemed so fitting too and I wouldn’t want it to have ended any other way.

Of course I struggle.

Being stuck in a house with a handful of other people for a week with literally nothing to do or even to sit on but the hard cold floor, can get tense and chaotic. Dramatic. Crazy. Without books (except your Latin textbooks) and no furniture (but sleeping bags) suddenly everyone’s personal bubbles are a bit easier to rub against.

Between the glares, strange new character voices bubble to the surface and are added to our repertoire. The strangest pieces of art work splatter out of our brains and the weirdest inside jokes or newest sarcastic comebacks.

I still find myself worrying over things going-wrong too, which is probably why movies like Father of the Bride and Meet the Parents are just plain… painful.

Views which just make my family laugh harder, as I cringe and groan and consider hiding under a blanket and covering my eyes and ears.

Kermit nervous
me when watching those types of romcoms ^^
Kermit laughing
^^ my siblings

 

I guess when I sit down for entertainment I’m not looking to cringe and laugh and wince at how everything goes wrong in everyone else’s lives.

Too close to home maybe.

Kermit not this humor

Or maybe its the fact that the characters never seem to get it. Instead of making a fool out of yourself and trying to make it look like you’re brilliant and nothing goes wrong under your watch, why not laugh it off and just clean the spilled (chocolate) milk up with a cheap roll of paper towels from Dollar Tree?

After spending a whole week surrounded on all side with siblings, working all together, our super-duper superpower has come out even more. Even when the falafel-mission failed and all we had left were some strange form of hushpuppies and a can of burning oil, everything was fine because my siblings focused on what mattered.

The food didn’t need to be perfect. The décor didn’t need to be exact. We definitely worked hard to make it beautiful and special, but if something small popped or cracked, we went with Plan B. Pulled out the super glue and paint supplies. Trimmed the bushes with leaves brown and dying from the power wash.

Why?

Because it was all about family and love and laughter and fellowship, not about being perfect.

Some things just aren’t worth getting upset over. Fretting about. In the end it’s the people and what you make out of what you have. And come on… it is kinda funny that the couple decided to have Greek food for their wedding and cook it all themselves the afternoon before even though they have never tried it before. Even sounds a little cliched ha.

Well, a thing about life: When it gets crazy, it only means you can make it crazy fun.

I even think part of my training in becoming a poet has greatly stemmed from the laughter my family has taught me.

Kermit Shocked

(I know you were wondering if I would make it through a post without a single mention of poetry… 😉 )

Being a poet is being someone who sees through surface things. As written in the song that Andrew Peterson sings, To All the Poets, they see “beauty in the common place, saw incarnation in a Baby’s face, and in a drop of rain the stars.”

My family has taught me how to see things. How to see the funny side to being stuck camping in a teepee with a gaping hole designed in the roof for a couple days of thunderstorms.

How to see the fun side of a literal 22 hour road trip (yes… we drove 22 hours straight. Yes, 22 hours in the car driving) or being able to have a conversation about how the kudzu in the dark makes it look like there’s a giant elephant sitting in our backyard. Either that or an old man wearing a hat.

Much of my playful limerick-type of playful poetry comes from true stories. But in a way don’t all fictional stories stem from a true story?

You just have to decide what type of genre you are living in. 😉

 

So, in closing, remember:

When your falafels flop, Whole Foods is always there.

Kermit Smiles

Love you fam.<3

 

**all gifs hunted and trapped by my personal internet minion squad via giphy**

All the Summer Vibes // hiking, writing, reading, and that glorious sunburn

I’m a very crafty person.

No, no. Not that kind of crafty.

Despite what gossip my character have been spreading, I am not a crafty villain scheming up plans of horror and pain. Maybe.

I mean ‘crafty’ as in, I like to take little string and sit for a couple hours looping it on sticks to try to make hats and scarves.

However, during the school year with school. And school. And more school. I only have time for sitting and translating Latin sentences and learning that the Romans defeated the Gauls.

Again.

And again.

And again.

Oh and that the sailors refuse to pray.

So when I finally finished that last math test and ‘summer’ was here, I pulled out my supplies and dove into the world of waking earlier, living at my desk in the basement, and having my family point out the paint stains on my hands I had missed or the bits of thread I had forgotten to brush off my shirt.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

cause I am obsessed with bullet points

#1. Quilting

I’ve always been interested in quilting, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago I made my first quilt.

Okay, actually it was about five years ago and it was so tiny my doll would even have trouble using it.

Not that she got the chance because I didn’t finish that quilt until two months ago when I pulled it out again.

In the meantime, somewhere in the past five years I did patriciate in a crazy quilt day workshop and came out with a finished mini quilt, but, while I learned a lot, in the end, it was still mini.

Well after pulling the first quilt out and finishing the binding at the beginning of this summer, I took in the stack of scrap fabric in our craft closest and the bundle of batting and, remembering a book I had once read at the library, decided to try my hand at making a bigger quilt.

I picked the Log Cabin pattern, because I really loved the examples in the book and it seemed perfect for left-over fabric, since really all I needed was two-inch wide strips.

Originally I sorted out these little stacks of fabric: one blue themed, one pink themed, brown, green, yellow, etc., thinking I might be able to squeeze out three or four squares out of each.

Out of the blue stack of fabric, I was able to make twenty 11 inch(ish) squares: perfect for a baby blanket size.

Shows you how much I know about estimating.

I’m that person who always scoops left-over food in a container that is way too big.

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setting out the squares

I sewed the squares over three days, trimmed them and pieced them together another, and then, after a trip to Hobby Lobby to buy some backing and edging, began the actual quilting process (which I should hopefully finish today.)

It was a lot of fun piecing together, and I’m starting to now eye the stack of pink fabric in the closet. (:

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When the back of your stitching creates a perfect treble clef! O.o

#2. Jewelry Making

I began making earrings about a year ago when my sister and a friend organized a craft day at our house.

They’re really fun and fairly easy to make. The hardest part is looping the wire. Especially since I was trying to use the wrong kind of pliers to do it.

Imagine my joy when my grandmother gave me the right type (and more beads!)

To illustrate the immediate affect:

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They’re amazing, thank you GranAnnie! ❤

So I’ve been making tons of earrings lately.

My homeschool co-op community has a craft fair each December so I’ll probably bring my growing stash of earrings.

Or I might decide to keep them all muahahaha

If only I had more ears. 😉

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owls! and everyone goes “awww”

It’s really cool being able to make things that I know will be used. Gone are the days of braiding hundreds of random strands of rainbow colored craft yarn I found.

It’s doubly neat to be able to make those things I’ve always wanted. Whatever style of earrings such as ones with beads partially wrapped in wire.

Then last week my mother was out running errands when she noticed a small artisan shop in our downtown that is opened only a couple times a month.

She stopped and looked around and decided to take me that afternoon for inspiration and ideas.

Such as quilled paper earrings:

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setting them out to dry

 

#3. Writing

Yes!

Despite what this post has so far implied I have been writing this summer. I’ve been continuing my attempts to capture everyday, little things in a fresh new way, and have been plowing away at 51 usually late in the evening or early in the morning. I’ve found over the past year that those are the most productive times for me.

When people ask whether I’m a night owl or morning bird, me: “Um…both?”

Who said owls aren’t birds… 😉

51 has been going well though.

A week or so a writing friend mentioned during a conversation about names how they once read somewhere about a writer using elephant in all caps as a place holder in the rough draft stage.

So of course I had to steal borrow the idea.

 

ELEPHANT in the Room

 

Who knew Zeb had such big pockets?

Or that he was that strong. 😉

As a technical update: 51 is at 21,651 words and maybe through one fourth of the story written.

The good news is, I have the ending planned! and written shh don’t tell anyone.

Now I just have to fill in the rest of the middle… 😛

 

#4. Reading

I’ve been reading a nice amount of books too. A lot of revisiting for old favorites, but also some new ones.

Current book I’m reading?

The Mollhill, Vol 3!

It’s my first one to read and I’m really enjoying it.

Basically, for those who don’t know, it’s a collection of poetry, art, essays, stories, and recipes from The Rabbit Room, a community of Christian artists.

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Also! I was forced to join joined a local book club started by a writer-friend.

The first get-together that I have been able to attend yet will be tomorrow. Book for that meeting?

The Book Thief!

I’m excited. (:

#5. Hiking & Swimming

 

Summer did not feel truly feel like summer until last week when we finally went swimming.

It had been a full year for me because of the craziness of moving and settling in and life.

But after spending a day splashing in the sun, and I came home and collapsed on my floor, limbs aching and with raisins for fingers, and my shoulder burning with the most glorious sunburn, it was suddenly summer.

I had never realized how nostalgic that feeling is…

I’ve also gone on a couple hiking trips. The most notable one was with my Dad a couple Saturdays ago. We packed some water, books, and hammocks and hiked up to a private little overlook. There we spent a couple hours swinging lazily in a mossy clearing, swatting flies, and (for me) reading Canterbury Tales.

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When I said it was mossy, I meant it was mossy.

This gorgeous clearing gave an entirely new meaning to the common phrase “the forest was carpeted with moss.”

 

#6. Sketching and Painting

And one of the other things I’ve been doing quite a lot is experimenting with is mixing ink sketching with watercolor.

As you can see, I’ve only been doing little simple projects of things I’m familiar with. (i.e. plants, elephants, and my school drawers)

And finally…

#7. Prepping for school

And here we are at the end.

My first day of class with my weekly homeschool co-op is three weeks away, so I’ve pulled out the brick of biology flashcards, put tabs in my math book, and sped up in my reading of the literature books I will be writing papers on through the year. (Right now it’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And I thought the first part of the book was weird…)

I’m surprising excited for the school year as a whole. This year focuses on British literature, I’ll be studying paintings, music, and art in general, more Team Policy debates, and more Algebra and Trigonometry.

 

Which finally brings me to a quick note about one last thing that’s been going on around here: my brother’s wedding!

I am suuuper excited about my (soon-to-be) new sister! She is just soooo amazing and fun! And just… well I probably could write another five paragraphs about it but I better not. (:

I must say it’s weird growing up though. (Any one else agree out there? *raises hand* Anyone?)

Well, because of this joyous occasion of amazingness but also the busyness that comes with it (did I mention it will be held in our backyard?), I am not going to promise a post next Friday.

Maybe I’ll throw out a poem or something, but we’ll see. (:

What time of day is best for writing for you? How has your summer been? Are you prepping for school yet? What will you be studying?

~ evelyn ~

 

The March of the Typos

Typos.

You’ve got to love them.

Especially when they prowl in the paragraphs of your most important papers.

I view it as a blessing when I’m required to read it one more time before the whole class: It’s my last chance to spot that little monster and cross it out.

I’ve had my fair share of typos as I am sure every writer has.

When the words start pounding in my head and flying out my fingers, the scene of the story playing out before my eyes, I can hardly keep up with myself or my spelling lessons. I have no time to check myself and soon the squiggly red lines are blurring until they disappear behind my character’s surroundings.

When I first started editing my very first competed novel, I came across many a misused comma.

There is a great satisfaction to surfing through pages and pages of manuscript and adding those little missing punctuation marks, but after a certain amount of time, as the sun sets in the west and my eyes grow weary and my hands cramp up from crossing out everything.

It is in those moments typos no longer are those embarrassing mistakes, but suddenly my greatest friends, entertaining me when I most need it.

I even began writing them down.

So today, you get a glimpse into what crazy things sometimes pop out of my fingers.

Welcome to my rough draft world, where my character gallop away on their hoses and the air is filled with humility!

First up we have some brilliant prose dug up from the one and only, Unnamed Fantasy Novel of my childhood:

“The chickens squawked widely.”

What profound wisdom is this?

Meaning their range was wide?

I’ve never payed attention to the pitch of squawking chickens, but now I will have to notice.

Very intriguing.

 

“The first raised his head and stared at Ethel, screeching, as his boy started to shrivel and shrink until it was a black feathery creature: A vulture.”

Yikes… I feel sorry for his boy.

Poor kid.

 

“Behind, in the courtyard, yelling arose and then something began to thudded below in the streets.”

 

This sentence is actually pulled from the same scene as the last two…

When it rains, it pours, my friends.

 

“Ethel could barely see his shadow stop and pull something from a self.

Wow, is this stranger a magician? O.O

Or is he just a guy reaching into his pockets?

And will Ethel ever really know?

 

“I have brought you breakfast and a new dress, since the one I dressed you in the first day was too big. It was the only one we had at the moment,” she chattered setting everything she held on the self, along with items from the stool.”

What can I say?

I’m a person of habit.

 

“Dried herbs dangled from strings off the low rafters, fragmenting the room with a mix of strong smells.”

I mean.

It works

 

“He held out the plate and Ethel accepted it sullenly. The rice and rice smelled good. He handed her the fork too.”

Rice and rice guys.

You heard it here first.

Best dish ever.

 

“…The Riders: Two black dots drifted amidst the blue ribbon that snacked into the horizen’s grasp.”

Wow… just.

Wow.

Blue ribbon snacked into a horizen’s grasp?

Is English even my first language?

And what is up with these descriptions?

All I can picture is a small mythical rodent nibbling on a blue ribbon.

I promise I don’t describe things this way any more.

 

“Seth grabbed the boy’s shoulders with venomous and leaned forward.”

Wait… so was Seth secretly a venomous creature? Like a snake? 😮

I mean the other guy’s boy turns into a vulture sooo

The things an author doesn’t know about her characters until it happens.

And that’s fun and all, but even more recently as I combed through my first set of twenty chapters from 51, I found stuff:

“Stay with my Zeb,” she whispered. “Don’t you dare faint now.”

Woah, woah, woah.

Charlie, my dear.

Don’t go to fast here… you’ve only known him for 24 hours.

That was supposed to say me

And then a few lines later Zeb asks Charlie:

“How much father?”

 

Can their situation here get any more confusing?

 

Charlie nodded. “I’m sorry… I know it hurts and I quash we were closer.”

Well apparently.

Wait…

There’s even more.

“They limped on and Sarah and she dumped the paper bag into the trash.”

Look.

I don’t even have a character named Sarah.

Talk about random people showing up in scenes.

Well, Sarah, you got your little debut in the middle of no where, may we return to the story?

 

“Zeb looked down at his tights where the bloodied strip of white was tied around his tattered jeans. Where had that come from?”

Oh totally.

Ballerina tights are so Zeb’s style, guys.

Like totally.

Yeah…

No.

That’s supposed to say “thigh.”

So where did those random tights come from, Zeb? Do tell. 😉

 

 

A Pocketful of Palindrome Poetry

As I work through The Roar on the Other Side this year (amazing book on poetry, 10/10 recommend) I’ve been learning all types of poetry schemes, methods, and tropes.

Some of them are fairly simple while others seem nearly impossible.

Such as writing a poem with twenty six words, each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet, descending in order from A to Z.

I have yet to try that one, but one such daunting kind was palindrome poetry, which turned out very interesting and fun to write!

While the crafting is not so simple, the idea is: Palindrome poetry is composed so that read backwards it is the same, word for word, as it is read forwards.

 

I quickly discovered I couldn’t start the poem with a “the” or an “a,” or really use them at all.

Here was my first poem:

 

NIGHT

Darkness caught stars
with nets
maybe

or maybe nets with stars
caught darkness

 

I really enjoyed making it, so I tried another! (The night I wrote all these, I was amidst wading through Beowulf for school…)

 

BEOWULF

Hopes and memory of courage built Beowulf so
Beowulf built courage of memory and hopes.

 

That one was… okay, but didn’t turn out the way I had wanted it to, so I wrote a third one, which by far is my favorite.

 

TIME

Years waste bodies.
Our lives are frail and short.
Away slinks time.
We may understand that
Eyes and sight change.
Oh yes, we stumble.
We are wispy and hollow wind –
Hollow and wispy are we.
Stumble we, yes.
Oh change sight and eyes that
Understand may we
Time slinks away.
Short and frail are lives.
Our bodies waste years.

 

And so ended my little palindrome poetry session. (:

Which one do you like best?

~ evelyn ~

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Painting {aka what I have learned in the last couple months}

It all started with Shakespeare.

I know, I know.

It’s a strange place to start but that’s where it all began.

For almost five years I had not touched my painting supplies, partly out of fear and partly out of busyness, but in March my co-op class was studying The Taming of the Shrew, and were assigned to pick a topic of interest of the Elizabethan era and report back on it with physical props.

Cue the brainstorming.

Originally, I thought I might study the fashion and show up, with the closest example of an outfit from that time period, but that had been my sister’s choice a few years earlier. Next idea was to write a Shakespearean monologue from the point of Queen Elizabeth and perform it, but I had never even succeeded in writing even just a sonnet, much less an entire monologue. Besides, I had enough things to memorize already.

A third thought was to study Shakespearean embroidery and replicate it, but I wasn’t sure I could finish it in time.

With some more brainstorming, my mom then came up with the idea.

Why not study art from the era and creating a slide-show presentation of Elizabethan paintings?

Cha-ching!

Perfect.

I had (and still have…) this strange (then new-found) obsession with creating PowerPoint slides and I find art very interesting. Put them together?

Just makes sense.

I began researching and making notes, learned so much, and picked out three different pieces.

There. Done.

But wait…

At the next class, my tutor explained this project would be presented in a different room in front of the younger classes, meaning I couldn’t use the projector.

So my mom suggested that I just take one of the paintings I had picked out and reconstruct it.

Except I had never painted with oils before and never ever painted a person.

So yes.

I decided to pick up painting for the first time in about five years and use a medium I had never used before to paint a subject I had never even attempted before under a deadline.

At least Hobby Lobby had all painting supplies half off that week.

…except that deal ended the next day.

So I convinced a sibling to take me and bought the supplies.

Thankfully, the following afternoon when I unpacked my new paints, I decided to mess around with them before starting the project on the canvas.

I pick out a red and squeeze it out of the tube onto my palette. I take the brush and paint a simple rectangle. And then another.

And then I go for a circle.

But the paint won’t spread out right.

I dip my brush in the water and try to thin it.

It doesn’t work.

For at least five minutes, I sat there in growing frustration as my paint refused to move or spread.

It was after I filled have the page with strange shapes, that it finally hit me.

Duh.

Water doesn’t mix with oil.

I call the piece “Ignorance.”

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Isn’t it beautiful? 😛

I guess all those repeated experiments about trying to mix oil and water on a plate as a kid didn’t stick. (Sorry Mom!)

Well, this story has a happy ending: I discovered the substance called “paint thinner” and went on to paint the portrait, and though it doesn’t look much like the original, it definitely looks like an Elizabethan painting.

Over the following months, I have continued to paint and have learned more about it… often learning the hard way.

Here I have compiled a list.

If you have a time-machine, feel free to take this back in time and shove it in my face. 😉

With that, let us begin…


 

#1.  How to take care of tools {especially the brushes}

One thing about my ten-year old painter-self: I had no idea how to keep tidy and clean, whether it be my palette, my easel, my table, my clothes, my brushes or my hands (though to be honest, I don’t care much about that one…)

This was very evident when I finally unpacked my supplies after a couple years of almost-moving.

Exhibit 1:

Oh look at me fine brushes… notice especially the forked blue one.

Gorgeous am I right?

When I was ten, I didn’t know simple rules like, don’t store brushes on their bristles, don’t leave in the jar of water, or even the importance of cleaning them as soon as I’m done with them.

When you have tools, research how to take care of them! Whether it be through Google, a library book, or someone you know, discover proper ways to treat them well: how to store them, how to clean them, how to use them.

 

#2. Plan ahead

I have this awful habit of being terrible at making decisions when I really don’t care.

You know that friend who is that person who is always the one to say when hanging out, “Oh I don’t know… what do you want to do?”

Yeah… well that’s me and it comes across in my paintings.

Here is one of my first paintings.

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I specifically remember painting this… originally it was to be a field filled with flowers beneath a huge mountain range.

But then the mountain wouldn’t corporate and decided to be a scrapped blob of blue. I tried to fix it, but with little experience or knowledge failed. So I decided it was a rain pour in the distance and decided to paint a forest.

I wanted it to be a great, thick forest, but I had already made one of those and so wanted it to be different.

So I made the trees small and spread apart…

And then, I thought it looked weird (a very justified observation…) and so decided to add a creek. But something was still missing so I decided to add a rabbit. And then a butterfly. And then another one. And then a log.

And so this piece came to be.

Even if I had had the talent to make the trees look like trees and the grass look like grass and so on and so forth, it has terrible composition.

So now to try to avoid that I think ahead. Maybe sketch out a plan or follow a picture.

As beginner, especially, I wish I had picked more subjects I was familiar with.

 

#3. Research techniques & practice

Study paintings! Watch videos! Read books!

As a beginning painter I’ve found it so helpful to do all of the above, but then also to practice the techniques.

Otherwise it would be like trying to read a math book but never doing any of the problems. 😉

Right now for me it’s those gorgeous watercolor moons I’m trying to learn. (keyword: trying.)

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#4. Always finish a project

Last week I decided to paint some pictures for some friends: an animal for each. The flamingo was pretty simple and straightforward, the koala was small and fun, but the puppy…

I spent literal hours on its coat of fur.

I wanted to give up through the entire process, beginning here:

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At that point, normally I would have given up, but for two things.

First: I was using a canvas and my guilty conscience would never have let me just throw it away, and then secondly I needed to finish it by the next day or pick a new subject and start an entirely new painting to finish by the next day.

So I kept going…

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And going…

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And going…

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Finally I was somewhat satisfied with the poor puppy’s blotchy coat:

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And in the end, I just added a bunch of flowers to cover it all up.

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Ta-da!

So it didn’t turn out too bad, and I learned a lot that I would not have learned if I had stopped when I first wanted to.

Like, don’t try to paint a puppy.

See? Lesson learned. 😉

 

#5. Don’t throw it away

When do we ever finish a art project and feel fully satisfied and proud of it? Do you ever want to rip up your page, burn its pieces, and throw its ashes into the wind?

I have. A lot actually.

Like with this lady…

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*coughs* only painted a couple months ago..? that must be wrong… 😛

Go ahead and shudder. I don’t mind at all, just don’t stare at it too long, please… for your sake.

The story behind this creepy face?

Well.

At the start of this year I was trying to use watercolors to paint a face and it turned out reeeally weird.

Yes, to be fair, I was going for a certain style.

But still.

Hideous, am I right?

The strange blotchy blush, the squinty right eye, the heart shaped head, and paper thin eyebrows, with absolutely zero eyelashes or forehead.

But the thing is, in another year or so I’ll pull it out and try again and compare.

Like I did with an elephant I painted…

Elephants compared

 

And a wolf I once drew.

Wolves_compared

 

Which is why everyone should also…

#6. Always date & sign the piece

And at this point I probably will remind you of your mother when you were in kindergarten: “Don’t forget to sing your name and put the date on it, okay honey?”

I’m sorry, but they were all right.

And I was wrong when I did not listen. 😛

And now I am left to wonder when I painted this little treasure and all it’s homeless buddies:

All I know about this little guy is that he was inspired by Monet (or at least created in the studying of Monet) and that it was a long, long time ago.

Besides, there’s something official and satisfying to signing one’s work.

And last but not least…

My frens.

Don’t drink tea or coffee while painting.

There have been at least five separate occasions where I found myself subconsciously picking up my painting water to drink from.

And many times I was inches away from dipping my brushes into my chai latte.

It just ain’t worth it.

Even if you avoid these tragedies, you will end up living long enough to see either your drink die and transform into tepid liquid or your paint dry on your palette and brushes.

You can’t always multitask.


 

So there we go. Seven brilliant gems I have discovered and am still trying to work out.

What are some things you wish your younger self knew?

~ evelyn ~

Of Books and Binders and Book Binder Poetry

Good morning!

It’s a beautiful Friday and we are back with our next installment of Evelyn-finds-something-neat-about-poetry-and-comes-to-share-it on The Rain-Drenched Writer!

Or, as my dad would say, “Have you heard Evelyn’s new poem? She didn’t write a single word!”

Well, I am sure we are all glad to be here. If you are new to these series, check out previous episodes: here and here and here. 😜

Today’s topic of discussion: book-binder poetry!

It’s a simple idea. You take a stack of books and arrange their titles into a poem.

(Quick note though: I do not necessarily recommend all the books displayed in this post. I have not read all of them but am only using them here for the purpose of poetry. :))

Here is the first poem I created:

 

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I began to realize quickly that verbs don’t show up much in titles. Neither do many “which” or “who” or “what.”

For my second one I was very glad to find a book titled With. I ended up using this book a lot… it was very helpful! (Keep in mind to ignore it’s subtitle… 😛 )

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My third one, I am quite fond of! I titled this one, Gossip.

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To my delight, after that, I found two books about a watchman…

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Then I decided to take a visit to the Christian-living bookshelf in our household and see what I could find there.

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Suddenly my poems became a lot less poetic and star-spangled, but more blunt and foreboding…img_1369-1

 

And finally, my very last one which I found quite by accident as these books were already right by each other, separated by only two other books:

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Which one is your favorite? Have you ever played around with book-binder poetry?

~ evelyn ~

The Imaginary Assistant Tag

Last week’s schedule was pretty full for me. Especially the first half in which I volunteered at a three day summer camp of twenty-five six to eight-year-olds.

I sharpened hundreds of colored pencils, cut out tons of little continents, and rocked my fancy nametag. I assisted with map-tracing, paper-gluing, white-board-cleaning, and picture-book-reading, as well as breaking up fights, escorting kids to the bathroom, and spending twenty minutes cleaning their paint brushes. (My hands were blue for the rest of the day…)

It is fair to say that it was a blast!

… but I was pretty exhausted at the end of everyday.

It is times like those (well more like times like now as I look back) that I wish I had an assistant. Someone to prod me off the couch, brew some tea, crank up the music, and stick a pen in my hand.

And now this week we’ve been busy hosting friends and working on some projects for a party tomorrow (like making a giant Bananagrams game to play in the backyard.)

Well good news!

My friend Aberdeen, as an honorary member of the Author Assistant Society, has most graciously offered to help me out and find me a writing assistant!

 

The formalities of this agreement:

1. Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their blog.

Thank you Aberdeen! (Drop in this handy-dandy portal to go give him a friendly Rawr.)

2. Link back to the creator of the tag.

Aberdeen the Authorosaurus. (Here’s his digsite if you somehow missed the two other portals. 😉 )

3. Tag 5-10 bloggers who need assistants (and if they don’t need them, tag them anyway).

4. Please answer the questions so the author assistant agency can find the right assistant for you.

 

The questions:

 

1. What type of creature/species would you like your assistant to be (human, animal, dragon, dinosaur, figment of your imagination, etc.) and why?

Something like a raggant from N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboard series, because they’re so small, smart, and loyal.

 

2. What do you want your assistant to look like?

So raggants are basically like gray rhinos with wings (like this), however… I would prefer to find a raggant that is unusually fuzzy, has huge dropping ears, and an elephant’s trunk.

(If any of you see one, let me know…)

 

3. What qualities are you looking for in an assistant (responsible, lovable, exasperating, etc.)?

Lovable, loving, and loyal, but fierce when needed.

 

4. What job(s) would your assistant be in charge of?

Researching random facts, sorting my character summaries, cleaning out my old folders, burning old poetry, putting the kettle on the stove, answering emails, and holding a fork to my back when I have writer’s block and then another later to force me to take a break and go outside.

Also reminding me to water my plants.

 

5. What would you like your assistant to be named?

Rufus. (:

 

 

6. What would you feed your assistant (candy, books, pickles, etc)?

Ooh hmm.

I would say pickles except I wouldn’t want to share mine. But then if that’s what his menu would be, I guess I’d have an excuse to buy pickles every month. 

Pickles, bagels, red peppers, and dark chocolate.

 

 

7. How would you pay your assistant and what benefits would you offer as compensation for their work?

The official position of honorary first alpha reader. Also free access to my bookshelf and pickle-popcorn stash.

 

 

8. What special abilities would you like your assistant to have (i.e. ice powers to freeze writer’s block, super strength to break writer’s block, or super stupidity to stare at you while you’re having writer’s block)?

The ability to eat old manuscripts for breakfast, misused commas for lunch, and spam comments for dinner.

 

9. Where would you like your assistant to be from (Jurassic Park, Narnia, your head)?

From wherever you can find a fuzzy, long-eared, elephant-trunked, raggant creature…

 

10. Will you solemnly swear to you will not fire your assistant in either sickness or in health, for richer for poorer, smarter or stupider, writing or not writing, for as long as you both shall live?

Yes!

 

And Aberdeen said I could pass along this offer to some other bloggers…

NC Stokes

Dekreel

Maya

M Kenechi Duatron

and

Camille

 

 

And that’s it folks!

Now I’ll just go sit out by my mailbox and wait for the official papers to arrive. 😉

TTFN!

i am a writer

I’m a writer, I’m a poet, I’m a
chapter I’ve written. A character built
out of nothing but my life and hands. They
stain my pages because I bleed and wilt.

I’m a writer, I’m a poet, I form
worlds out of words and people out of trees.
Watch me resurrect a dragon, a storm,
a tower of Babel out of dust and debris.

I’m a writer, I’m a poet, I see
angels in the dirt. There are pilgrims who
cross the dusty roads of life with me
shadows behind them of friend that they knew.

I’m a writer, I’m a poet, I play
with hearts of the young and dreams of the old.
I try to weave a story that may
drip in their house tiny drops of rose gold.

I’m a writer, I’m a poet, but just
a person too, striving to catch meaning
out of air, catch something to cling to. Gusts
of the wind in my bucket are singing.