30 March 2016

i thank You God

On this my 17th birthday, all I can really express is my gratitude to God for this past year. It's been a time of immense growth for me, possibly unknown to those around me. I've had so many life-altering experiences since my 16th birthday, and each one of them has brought me closer to God in a different way. I am simply in awe over how fabulous my life is, and that is no exaggeration. I can't believe how much I've managed to do and become in 365 short days. All the joy and the small amount of sorrow I've experienced. I sincerely thank everyone who has helped me along this twelvemonth journey to become who I am. I never thought I'd be this happy with my life, and here I am at 17 years old overflowing with joy!
Since music is far more effective than words to express feelings, I'd like to share one of the songs we sang at Regional Honor Choir. (I don't have a video of us singing it, unfortunately, but this choir is directed by the same person.) Here are the words, written by e. e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)



P.S. thank you for all the birthday wishes!

28 March 2016

Easter

At last! Alleluia! I may be biased because of my spring birthday, but Easter is a favorite holiday of mine. And this year we drove to church amidst plenty of ice and a few inches of snow, but by the afternoon it was sunny with no snow in sight.
After three Easter Masses, we headed home for some much-appreciated relaxation and sugar. Lots of sugar. I made a coconut cake with coconut frosting, and it turned out really well. And now it's Easter season and we can eat all the chocolate we want!!
the coconut cake recipe


Easter morning after the third Mass.

After Easter Vigil. We had two baptisms and 10 confirmations!

The stunning parentals!


The respective snapchats of Tessie and me. We were counting the times of singing for church.


Happy Easter from our family to yours!

Choir Concert

I never got the chance to post the video of our choir concert last Monday. Here it is. Concert Choir starts at 47:29, followed by the combined choirs song.
http://thecube.com/event/bhs-spring-choir-concert-3-21-16-630039
Happy Easter!

24 March 2016

The Holy Triduum

I'm so excited for the Holy Triduum, which starts today! Tonight our choir sings for my favorite Mass of the year, Holy Thursday. Then we'll have a procession into the chapel and there will be Eucharistic Adoration until 10pm. I'm not exactly sure why I like Holy Thursday so much, but I love it even more than Easter Vigil and Christmas.
Tomorrow Tessie and I sing for Stations of the Cross, then we'll go to the Good Friday service and Confession. I usually have a hard time getting into the spirit of Good Friday, but it's been getting easier every year. This Lent I've found a fondness for saying the Way of the Cross by myself, using different versions. (My two favorite are the St. Alphonsus and St. Francis ones.)
On Saturday our choir sings for Easter Vigil, which is always interesting. We have enormous packets of music for the Mass, as you can imagine. My two favorite parts of the Easter Vigil Mass are the Exsultet and the Litany of Saints. Though the Gloria with the bells and candles is pretty awesome too.
The choir sings again for Easter Morning Mass at 9am, and then Tessie and I cantor for the 11am Mass. We joked that we might as well sleep at church on Saturday night, since we'll basically be living there all weekend.
Holy Week is filled with so many emotions, and each day has its own characteristic. I love all the physical things we do at church (lighting candles, putting away the bells on Holy Thursday, Veneration of the Cross, etc.) to remind us of the spiritual reality of these holiest of days. It's so fitting that the converts enter the Church during the time of the most beautiful and richest liturgies of the year.
Happy Holy Triduum!
picture credit

23 March 2016

Phantom of the Opera

In April our choir is going down to Omaha to see a production of the show Phantom of the Opera. So I thought I'd read the book before we went. I really enjoyed it. It wasn't what I was expecting from the novel that inspired my favorite Broadway show, but in most ways it exceeded my expectations. The story is told almost completely from Raoul's point of view (yes, he has a personality in the book). There are some great characters who didn't make it into the musical, and some other characters were changes somewhat, but the musical gets the basic plot right. One of the fascinating things was all the details in the book about the Paris Opera House, how it has five underground cellars and a lake at the bottom, the infamous Box 5, and all the rest. And it's all real! The Opera House, the five cellars, the lake, box 5, it all exists and you can go visit it in Paris. (Which is now on my bucket list.) I thought that Gaston Leroux had made up a lot of it for the book, but it seems the only things he made up were the various trap doors and fake walls the Opera Ghost used to scare people.

the Paris Opera House

cross-section of the opera house


the underground lake!
(All photos from Google Images)
The story does a good job of explaining the backstory of the Opera Ghost (which both the musical and the old movie I've seen get wrong) and it's compelling and almost creepy at times. The book I borrowed from the library included at the end some speculative writing about Sherlock Holmes investigating the case of the Opera Ghost, which was entertaining. 
All in all, a good read! Especially if you really like the musical but feel like it doesn't have the whole story. It doesn't. There are a lot of additional juicy details the book includes. I'm glad I read it before seeing the show on stage!



20 March 2016

Writing Update

Yesterday I finished the first round of edits, which means I've got a second draft now! I'm kind of amazed how quickly the editing went...but I'm glad to have the time to do more, because I'm reading a fantastic book on self-editing which will help a lot.
And!
I (finally) came up with a tentative title for my book! (I know, it's only been two years...)
So, for now, my first novel is called The Seventh Year. We'll see how many times it changes. But at least I can take out the "[Title of Book]" from the first page of my manuscript and replace it with some actual words.
Well, that's about it. Over and out!

19 March 2016

Weekly Prompt Writing

Something a little out of the ordinary here, from our meeting tonight.


And the rain glowed. That was the weirdest thing she'd seen yet. Why did it glow? Was it radioactive or something? Would she burst into flames if it touched her skin? She stared out the window of the hovercraft and tried to imagine living here for a year. This hadn't been quite what she had in mind when she had suggested a foreign exchange program to her parents, but they had gotten so caught up in the new trend of planet hopping that she had found herself here in less than two weeks. It was bad enough not speaking the language, but things were going to be harder than she thought if she'd have to watch out for glowing rain and other foreign dangers. What if she did burst into flames and never went back home? Not that home was so fabulous. But at least at home she knew the rain wouldn't kill her.

15 March 2016

Beauty

Ask most people, and they'll have a hard time supplying a definition for beauty. According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, beauty is "a: extreme physical attractiveness and loveliness: perfect combination of characteristics pleasurable to see. b: a characteristic or combination of characteristics affording great sensory pleasure."
But come on. We know beauty is more than that. Here's my definition of beauty.
Beauty is the quality a person, object, animal, or place possesses of reflecting the nature of its Creator.
In other words, beauty is the sunset you just have to photograph.
Beauty is the look in a child's eyes when he hears "Daddy's home."
Beauty is a couple in love.
Beauty is the collective breath a choir takes before singing a chord.
Beauty is two friends talking for hours.
Beauty is waking up and hearing the birds singing.
Beauty is the hugs you share at a funeral.
Beauty is hoarfrost on the trees on a winter morning.
Beauty is laughing until your stomach hurts.
Beauty is the silence of a chapel during Eucharistic Adoration.
Beauty is the sound of creek water trickling past rocks.
Beauty is going to bed at night and waking up to a new day in the morning.

Beauty is any and every way the world around us reminds us Who made it.

(painting by Claude Monet)

13 March 2016

Signs of Spring!

Bird sounds when I wake up, 
Reports like this: 
Easter in two weeks,
Summer planning,
Daylight savings,
and lots of other beautiful spring things!


12 March 2016

Weekly Prompt Writing




He hopped among the hay-bales, as he had done every summer for as long as he could remember. The sun was sinking in the sky, tinting the trimmed field gold. A chilly wind was picking up, and he knew the grass would be wet and cold when he walked back to the house in bare feet. But he didn't care. He inhaled the smell of the dusty bales and curled his toes against the greenish plastic that held them together. He leapt to the next hay-bale, fording the gap with practiced ease and shaking hair from his eyes. "I wonder what Mom's making for dinner." 
It was his last thought before he fell.
He awoke in a hospital bed, and mechanic beeping invaded his ears as he glanced at the plethora of tubes running from different places on his body to large medical equipment. He blinked and his eyes refocused on the worry-worn face of his mother. 
"He's awake," she breathed, then screamed it, then dissolved into tears. A nurse came running and something made of cold metal was thrust underneath his tongue. "He's awake," his mother kept saying, as a plastic band squeezed his arm, then released its pressure. The nurse babbled something he was too tired to understand. 
He opened his mouth and spoke. "Hi, Mom. What's going on?"
She took his hand into her own, which were cold and shaky. "You're awake, you can come home now," she said. "After four months you can come home!"

06 March 2016

Piano Festival

Piano festival was yesterday, and I guess it went pretty well, because I got superior in both my categories (songs and hymns).
I played "Cantico Iberico" by Eugenie Rocherolle and the first movement of "Sonatine" by Maurice Ravel.

05 March 2016

Weekly Prompt Writing

A possible scene toward the beginning of my next book.


Twelve chimes. Noon. I ventured to remove my eyes from the book in my hand. No one looked up. I arched my aching back. 
Before I could persuade myself out of it, I heard my voice say, "Papa?" with a dainty little cough.
He frowned upon me. "What?"
"It's twelve."
"Speak up, child, for heaven's sake."
"I said it's twelve o'clock. Oughtn't we to be going? The train leaves for London at one."
He made a show of folding up his newspaper, rising, and calling the butler. He frowned at me again. I frowned back and donned my coat.
I cast a glance at my mother. She hadn't stirred. "Good-bye, Mum."
She beckoned to me and gave me a short kiss. "Safe journey. Remember to be on your best behavior in America, take care not to stare at people, and don't sing to yourself. It isn't ladylike."
I left without saying good-bye to my brother.