Winter Poetry Festival 2003


Our sole Thanksgiving sonnet is courtesy of Michelle.  I'm incredibly impressed.  Not only did she write a beautiful poem and keep it in the proper form, she also did it very quickly!  I usually labor for a month or two on one of these monsters before I quietly bury the evidence in the nearest shredder.


Thanksgiving Sonnet
For My Husband & Family

Two years ago the trees were not so tall.
But now they seem to tow'r above the sky.
Seems you and I were just about to fall
When suddenly we saw each other nigh.

I'm thankful for the friends who brought us close,
For we have grown as leafy trees in spring
With blooms so sweet they smell like Winter's rose -
And branches strong like love's encircl'ing ring.

The tables laid out in the future near
Seem more than you and I can ever take
From kin & friends we love in heart so dear;
We'll wrap love 'round them never to forsake.

We're truly blessed this coming year ahead
For by the hand of God we're hap'ly led.

        -Michelle, November 18, 2003

On the night of December 5th I was updating Crystal Oak and wanted something new for the front page.  Haiku is the form that comes easiest to me, and as I worked I was listening to Kurt Bestor and thinking about the still small voices I occasionally hear.

Angels We Have Heard On High

Deep heartstring whispers
Etch the crystal silences --
Souls carol reply

        -Dale Neibaur, December 5, 2003

Jim Christensen's personal motto is "By believing, one sees."  I am coming to appreciate how profoundly true this is.  Have you ever had the experience of learning a new word, only to begin hearing it everywhere?  Seeing neither precedes nor begets believing.  Faith comes first.

We Three Kings

Sweet surprises wait
Those whose hearts still yearn with hope --
Believers yet see.

        -Dale Neibaur, December 14, 2003


Deepest feelings are hard to admit or verbalize, whether spoken or written, in prose or poetry.  Too often I feel I have made banal what is sacred.  But for this season, at least, I'll try a bit harder to admit what is closes to my heart, even though my actions continue on a plane well below my understanding.

Birth of My King

Makeshift bed for Hope,
Faith banishing crippling fears.
For this Light give room!

        -Dale Neibaur, December 22, 2003


Michelle sent me an email on December 23rd that said, "Here's a small, but at least something, bit of a poem for Christmas."  But the poem wasn't attached!  Fortunately for us, she found it a few days later.  Here it is:

Sitting in a corner, nearly drowsy
I watch years and moments skip by like embers
in the dying fire of yesterday.
The green tree balanced on a mound of gifts
waiting for the moment that always comes
like frost on windows in the morning glow.

        -Michelle, December 22, 2003


Katy Argyle sent us a Christmas poem!  She wrote, "I heard you were looking for poetry to put up on Crystal Oak- This one was inspired by many an early morning December drive to seminary.  I hope your holidays are the happiest!"

Winter Sunrise

A frostbitten orchestra
Lies poised beneath an icy moon,
And the world is a frozen lullaby.
Then Earth turns her sleepy eyes East
As the hushed melody of a new day, 
Pink with hope,
Peeks over snow dusted hills.

        -Katy Argyle, December 24, 2003

On Christmas Eve Alicia wrote, "Christmas spirit finally caught up to me, and a few lines tried to come out to express my gratitude for this special day."

Even' stars cradle the world,
Bathing the earth.
December ground reflect back
Prepare for birth.

Awash in softest glow,
Hope unclouds the eye, bolstering faith; in
Christ's life we celebrate
His gift for all, remembering now with kin.

        -Alicia Dean, December 24, 2003


In our family we have a tradition of drawing names for gifts.  We can get an expensive gift for the person whose name we draw.  Then we can get gifts for the others in the family, but they must not cost more than a few dollars.  These 'cheap' presents often become the most fun and creative.  This year Erik gave me the following piece for Christmas.  What a wonderful gift!

Every Creature was Stirring

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Every creature was stirring, even the mouse.
And all the children stayed wide awake
For they knew if they slept, everything would be at stake.
One heard a clatter, and jumped up with with glee.
This was Santa. It had to be!
He quietly crept down the stairs
When he saw on the banister a little white hair.
He quietly crept into the living room, taking care
That he made not one sound, and not one sound was there.
He looked 'round the corner, and looked with a stare,
Because at that moment Santa was there!
He was putting cheese at the mouse hole, and presents at the tree
And at that moment he was happy as can be.
The boy snuck up to bed, wondering all the while
Why was Santa putting the cheese on a funny little tile?
Why did it have a lever, and a highly sprung trap?
Why would it hurt if it when WHAP!?!
The child slipped snug in his bed, when outside the window he heard someone say,
"Merry Christmas to all! And to all a good night --
I hope your mouse goes without a fight!"

        -Erik Neibaur, December 25, 2003



Terry and Rosie Hawkins spent Christmas with us.  Their two children, Jacob and Jenica, each wrote a Christmas story as a gift. They generously agreed to share them on Crystal Oak.  Jacob is eleven, and Jenica is nine.


Santa's Vacation

By Jenica Hawkins


Santa was having problems.  He kept telling the Elves "careful!" or "put that over there."  And "careful!  That's for Alicia, she's been awfully good this year!" But it was a bad day for the Elves because they accidentally broke things.  And it was only 2 weeks from Christmas!!! What could Santa do??? Then he got an idea!

He grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and wrote down names of people that could substitute for him.  Here is his list: The New Year's baby, Cupid, the Leprechaun, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.  The New Year's baby was getting warmed up for his boxing championship, and Cupid would get too cold.  Santa was afraid the Leprechaun would hide all of the presents instead of delivering them, and the Tooth Fairy was too small to handle the bigger presents.

The Easter Bunny came over the next day.  Santa greeted him warmly and told him what to do while he was gone.  Then he said goodbye and got his bags and left to catch his flight.  The Easter Bunny soon met Mrs. Clause and together they played spoons.  And watched the Santa Show.

The elves had better luck than when Santa had been there for some reason.

Mrs. Clause suggested that the Easter Bunny should take a few practice runs before Christmas.  When the Easter Bunny practiced driving the sleigh and delivering the presents he had two problems; first, he didn't know what to leave and second, he left Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies instead of Christmas presents.  Mrs. Clause wrote a letter to Santa:

Dear Santa,
I hope you like it in Hawaii!
The Easter Bunny has been having problems.
Do you happen to have the List? (I won't be
surprised if you have it and have checked it twice!)
If you do, PLEASE send it to me.
Well, hope all is well,
Mrs. Clause

P.S. I love you, XOXO!

Next it was Santa's turn to send a letter to Mrs. Clause so he did, and he also checked for the List.  It was so important because if you are Santa you don't want to give good children coals and willow switches! Also you don't want to give bad kids toys and gifts!  (That would be a BIG MISTAKE!!!  Believe me I know Santa does NOT want to do that again!)

Dear Mrs. Clause,
It is so nice here, almost paradise but you aren't here.
I don't seem to have the list. It is possible I left it on
the flight (Don't worry it's a private flight!).
Well I love you!

Mrs. Clause and the Easter Bunny kept sending Santa postcards about the List.  So Santa finally gave up and came home.  Santa found the List on the private plane.  He packed his bags and got in his nicest clothes and looked his best for Mrs. Clause.  Then hurried home.

He was glad to be home but missed Hawaii.  He thanked the Easter Bunny for coming, and said that the Easter Bunny could spend the night for his hard work, but he would have to set out for home in the morning.  The next morning the Easter Bunny left with a basket of homemade cookies that Mrs. Clause made for him.

Then after breakfast Santa ... had a relaxing bubble bath!  After all, he DID have a whole week before Christmas, so he could relax a little bit.

The End.


The Two Scientists

By Jacob Hawkins

Chapter 1 - Out of School

We, the two scientists, Erik and Scott have written a letter to our teacher saying that we have moved to Australia and Canada.  The teacher, Alicia, will never know that we are still living here in Utah, and that we are building a secret laboratory in the schoolhouse attic, making inventions.  Never trust us.

Chapter 2 - The Science Lab Begins

To supply our lab, we sneaked things from home to the lab in our shirts and backpacks.  We also found some supplies in the attic.  The science lab looks perfect.  We brought some green food coloring, marble tubes, cups, gears, baking soda, vinegar, and many other items.  Oh, the beauty.

Chapter 3 - The First Invention

First we built the Scotty Schnoz.  I wanted to call it the Sniffer Schnoofer, but it was Scott's idea, so he was the boss.  We made a film container look like a nose.  We wanted it to shoot forward, making a sneezing sound, and blow out green slime.  We thought we could make it shoot forward using steam, pepper, or a chemical reaction.  I had seen my teacher make a rocket using baking soda tablets and vinegar.  We decided to try this first.

Chapter 4 - Failure

First, we tried putting the soda in the canister and adding the vinegar straight in.  It frothed up all at once, and by the time we got the lid on there was no pressure left.  Second, we tried wrapping the soda in toilet paper, then added the vinegar and turned it lid side down.  It popped too fast and only jumped about an inch.  But I jumped about a foot.  After this try, I didn't want to be the holder anymore.

Third, we put in the soda, cut a sponge and put it over the soda, added the vinegar, plugged it, and flipped it over.  NOTHING! I guess the soda and the vinegar couldn't reach each other.  How about a little shaking?  Waaaahhh! Hardy, har, har.  I was glad I wasn't holding the "nose" this time.

Chapter 5 - Success

The last time that we tried it, we put the soda in first (1 tsp), cut the sponge in half and packed it over the soda.  Then we added two teaspoons of vinegar using a syringe.  There was time to put on the lid and flip it lid side down.  POP!  Wow, it went about six inches and splattered everywhere.   Yippee!  It even made a sound like a popping sneeze!  Delightful!

RRRIIIINNNNGGGG!  Time to go home.

Chapter 6 - There's No Place Like Home

We, the two scientists, parted at the front gate and headed to our houses.  My mom was at the door waiting for me.  Could she see the pride and success on my face?  Or maybe a little green splatter?  "Time for bed, Erik," she said.


"It's 9:30 p.m. in Australia."  Grrrrr.  I guess my teacher, Alicia, is a lot smarter than I thought.

To be continued ...