10 June 2017

Gone with the Wind

     This week I finished listening to Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for the second time. I loved it just as much as I did the first time (and still hate the ending). It is often called the "great novel of the South," which I think is an apt description. Reading it definitely made me more interested in the Civil War and the way it changed day-to-day life for both the North and the South.

     For some reason, I tend to enjoy books whose main characters are not likable...Gone with the Wind is definitely an example of that. In fact, you could argue that there isn't a single likable character in the entire novel. But somehow that makes it more enjoyable, more compelling. Vain, manipulative Scarlett O'Hara; coarse and unpredictable Rhett Butler; maddeningly sweet Melanie Hamilton; ineffectual Ashley Wilkes...they're all obnoxious in their own ways, yet somehow the reader can't help but love them. Or at least care what happens to them.
     One nice aspect of this book is that no character's actions are all good or all bad. (Not even Melanie's!) They're much more human in the way they all make mistakes and all have moments of goodness. There are misconstrued motives, miscommunications, volatile characters, stubborn characters, some who are both stubborn and volatile. It's easy to be pulled into a book which is so like real life. Pulled into it enough to stick with it through the entire lengthy saga.
     I listened to Gone with the Wind as an audiobook. The whole thing was just over 49 hours long. (For comparison, Les Miserables is over 60 hours and War and Peace is almost 62.) It's an exciting 49 hours! Murders, romances, parties, escapes, danger, death, humor, history...it all happens between the pages of this book.
     There is an old and very famous movie of Gone with the Wind starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. It was made in 1939 and is the highest-grossing movie of all time in Canada and the USA. It was the first major film in color, too. It's more than four hours long, but man they had to cut a lot from the story! The original cut of the movie was over seven hours. I wonder if even that was time enough for the whole story. Anyway, it's a very well-done adaptation. It would be interesting to see a newer version of it (now that film in color is no longer a novelty), but it seems that no one has undertaken the task since 1939. Ah, well, perhaps for the better.
     The main downfall of the book is its abysmal ending. Talk about no closure whatsoever! Remind me never to write an ending like that in one of my books.
     So anyway, I really like Gone With the Wind. I know some people who hate it, which I can understand. But I'd say it's worth a try for anyone who's interested in a great civil-war romance!

02 June 2017

Ordination Mass

Our church choir at St. Thomas More was asked by the bishop to sing for the Mass of priestly ordination, as the Cathedral choir is on tour in Europe. It was an epic, three-hour Mass, and so much fun to sing for! We had six men being ordained to the priesthood--what a blessing! Congratulations to Fr. Brian Eckrich, Fr. Tyler Mattson, Fr. Joseph Scholten, Fr. Andrew Thuringer, Fr. Timothy Smith, and Fr. Thomas Hartman!

Here's a recording of the entire thing: (PS the organist was amaaaazing)

Some pictures from the Diocese's FB page:

There were Knights of Columbus and some Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

The newly-ordained with Bishop Swain!

29 May 2017

Senior Recital and Open House

Saturday was the big day: my senior recital! It went really well and I'm happy to be done with practicing the same songs!

The program:
Sonata in e minor Hob XVI:34 - Franz Joseph Haydn
O Praise the Lord - Maurice Greene
Nocturne Op. 32 No. 1 - Frederic Chopin
Intorno All'idol Mio - Antonio Cesti
Three movements from Partita III in a minor - Johann Sebastian Bach
American Lullaby - Gladys Rich
Panis Angelicus - Cesar Franck
Two movements from Dolly Suite for Four Hands - Gabriel Faure

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After that was over, we headed home for a fun and relaxed open house. It was great to catch up with old friends! 

23 May 2017

Things That Have Happened

The second half of May is always super busy for us. 
The twins came home from college and our first friend outing was the BHS Pops Concert last Monday. It was really fun to watch, and Tessie's solo was great!

Afterwards we had a little bonfire at home. We are so happy to be together again for the summer.

On Tuesday the sunset was gorgeous. We were driving home and took a detour to take pictures at the Veteran Memorial on the edge of town.

Isabel's college graduation was on Saturday. She now has a degree in Music Education!

Sunday was the senior Mass at church. We decided to count it as my "official" graduation.

 I got one of the church scholarships because I'm going to a Catholic college.

Maren's graduation party was tons of fun, and we recreated an old picture on her trampoline!

This past Monday was the beginning of summer jobs for Susannah and me. We are both working as research assistants in Dad's center. Lots of copying and pasting and reading scientific abstracts. Mom and Tessie brought us coffee to celebrate the first day!

16 May 2017

Two Recitals

     This weekend was a busy one: special Mass for the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions on Saturday morning, then a voice recital Saturday afternoon. Mother's Day Mass and brunch on Sunday morning, then my last studio piano recital on Sunday afternoon. A little tiring, but good practice for my senior recital, which is in less than two weeks!

I sang "Intorno All'idol Mio" by Antonio Cesti and Tessie and I did a duet of Franck's Panis Angelicus.

Seven kids at Mothers Day brunch!

For the studio recital I played the fantasia from Bach's Partita III in A minor.

I got a special trophy and pin for being a senior.

14 May 2017

Mothers' Day and Flowers

After singing at Mass, we went to McCrory Gardens for a Mothers' Day brunch. It was raining when we got there, but not long after the sun came out and we walked around the gardens after eating.

Mostly tulips out for TuliPalooza. 

This one still had rainwater inside it.

New growth, kinda felt like a toothbrush.

Cool tunnel #1


Cool tunnel #2

Cool sister #1 

Cool sister #2

12 May 2017

Visit to Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus

     I spent last week in Gower, MO visiting the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. It was a fruitful and enlightening visit, and I learned so much!

Flying into Kansas City.

I didn't quite know what to expect going in, as I had never spent significant time with a contemplative community. The idea of contemplative life was very attractive to me, though, so I went in with an open mind.
     The first thing that struck me was the silence. I had experienced monastic silence before, but not to this degree. And I found it to be liberating. Your mind is so much freer to focus on your work and prayer when it isn't interrupted by conversation. The loudest sounds throughout the day are the bell and the laughter of the sisters. As a naturally very quiet person, it gave me a sense of peace.
     Chanting the full Office in Latin had an otherworldly quality, to me. Even when chanting on a single tone, the act of singing rather than speaking the Psalms seems more prayerful, as you have more time to focus on the words you're repeating. And to sing the Office in the language of the Church which has been used for thousands of years simply makes sense. Pray the ancient prayers of the Church in the ancient language of the Church.
     Work is a big part of Benedictine spirituality. I was a little doubtful about that aspect of it, as anyone could tell you I'm much more of an intellectual than a worker. But when nestled in between hours of time in the chapel, eight times a day, the work becomes an extension of the prayer. Since we worked in silence, there was plenty of opportunity for reflection and meditation while working. My favorite job I had was helping make the habits for the postulants whose Investiture is coming up.
     It was a joy to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form every day that week. I plan to go to EF daily Mass in college, and since we don't have that opportunity at home, it was nice to get back into the rhythm of it.
     Speaking of rhythm, that's really the most prominent quality of monastic contemplative life. It took me a few days to adjust to the pace of life there, but once I did, the consistent rhythm of it was peaceful and comforting. I learned so much about religious life just by participating in the sisters' life. It was definitely a "hands-on" sort of experience, and I am thankful for that. The sisters aren't afraid of work, they aren't afraid of silence, and they aren't afraid of prayer. I found myself looking at the postulants in the chapel, and thinking how much courage they have to give up the comforts of the world in order to live this life, completely directed towards God. Nothing binds them there but love.
     This visit gave me a lot to think about. As far as my discernment is concerned, I am only more confident than ever that going to college is the right thing to do and that TAC is the best place I could be to continue discerning. So that's a relief. But it is hard to trust God and seemingly wait around for Him to show me what to do. From visiting the Benedictines, my suspicions were confirmed that I am more suited to contemplative life than to active life. But specifically being a Benedictine...I don't know if I could aspire to those heights. I think I may be too much of an academic to sincerely throw myself into a life so centered on manual labor. It would certainly be a great privilege to find out I'm called there! The sisters are so beautiful and inspiring. My visit to them has made me a better Catholic, for sure. And maybe, for now, that's all I need to focus on.