Thursday, February 15, 2024

Happy St. VaLENTine's Day

 


A very happy and blessed St. Valentine's Day to all. May your heart be united to the hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and to the ones you love. Love is all about sacrifice so it's fitting it fell on Ash Wednesday this year, marking the beginning of the holy season of Lent. Take heart, those of you in the cold North. As the days lengthen and warm, you too, shall have buds and blossoms! We sang our first ever High Mass for this day and I was heartened to see so many cadets from the Citadel in attendance. It was beautiful.

My niece made this lovely card for my birthday and it's got the perfect recipe for Fridays. We love our beans! 
We'll be singing this beautiful hymn written by Pope St. Gregory the Great (AD 540-604), the one who gave us the heavenly Gregorian chant. You can read more about him and his prodigious output here: Pope Gregory I › Texts | Hymnary.org  The Glory of These Forty Days | Hymnary.org Here's a link to a beautiful singing from the Trinity Chapel Choir.

The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God Who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
Delivered from the lions’ might;
And John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became
The herald of Messiah’s Name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
Full oft in fast and prayer with Thee;
Our spirits strengthen with Thy grace,
And give us joy to see Thy face.

O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
To thee be every prayer addressed,
Who art in threefold Name adored,
From age to age, the only Lord.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Charleston Sound Chorus Debut in Florida

This year has gotten off to a great start! Our little chorus was invited to sing at the winter workshop in Florida. Normally, winners of the previous year are invited, so we were just a little bit nervous. But we had 
nothing to worry about--we received the warmest welcome as the newest baby chorus of Sweet Adelines (and had a baby shower with presents--so fun!). It was such a wonderful workshop, learning from Kim Wonders (how perfectly named) and a special bonus for me with some excellent insights for writers (Tell a story! Emotion! Entertain! I ended up scribbling several story ideas :) then enjoying an amazing show. My favorite quartet was the one that performed The Baritone. And I loved the chorus with all the feline costumes--of course I had to take a picture :) They performed The Lion Sleeps Tonight with a drummer and boy did it release something primal inside us. One chorus also sang a parody of Let it Snow! Why yes, we were enjoying 80 degree weather in sunny Florida!!!
 
I was delighted to see several mothers and daughters together. The youngest was 10 years old and she told me her older brother sings with their father in the men's group. They've got a younger sister who can hardly wait to join her mother and sister. So after we returned home I invited Dagny to check out our Charleston Sound Chorus and it looks like the barbershop bug has bit her hard. She's been coming to Monday night rehearsals and enjoying them very much. Local ladies, this is an excellent time to join as we prepare some new songs for competition in May.  

Above we two tenors have some hot soup at a Thai restaurant before our performance. The other ladies are always so kind giving me rides to practices and parties--it's the other lady in red who invited me to rehearsal when our choir was on a summer hiatus! It has all been "For Good." I believe this song reflects Romans 8:28 beautifully: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purposeAnd I love that the tenors sing, "I believe..." Here's a link to our debut: Video Charleston Sound 1 27 24 (youtube.com)Our bass section rocks! And there's a very funny moment at the end. It took a lot of self-control to not laugh. Enjoy! Best of all, I made in time for Mass at our beloved Stella Maris. Deo gratias!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Letter

Bouguereau (1825-1905) Song of the Angels (1881 A.D.) 
Dear Family and Friends,

I pray this letter finds you in good health and cheer and in readiness to welcome our Savior Jesus Christ. Oh, He loves you so much! And it’s for you and me, our family and friends, our enemies even, that Christ was born. It’s this plan of God becoming Man—the Incarnation—that Satan hated. Non serviam. I will not serve. We can never forget that Satan hates us and will do anything—witness the chaos and divisions—to keep us from our dear Savior. Let us be like Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent with her humility. Fiat mihi. Let it be done unto me. It must really rankle Satan to be defeated by a mere creature, and a woman at that. But she is full of grace and happy to supply what we lack. This is why the Hail Mary is such a perfect prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

This time last year, I was in Texas with my brother Mohan. You all will be happy to know he is doing fine. I tell you, he’s a cat with nine lives! Mohan’s illness has brought our family closer to one another. I especially enjoyed getting to know my grown niece Anjali—she has all the best qualities from each of her parents, Mohan’s analytical mind, Sujata’s artistic bent. Praise God for all He’s doing.


I am thankful to be home with Michael—we are like hobbits with our creature comforts. After a lifetime of setting up home in different continents, countries, states, and cities, it is good to finally put down roots. I remember the first Mass we heard at Stella Maris Catholic Church 12 years ago on our 17th wedding anniversary. I wept because I was home. No other place has had this effect. We are blessed here. This year, the biggest blessing was the completion of St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church, the jewel of Daniel Island. We often walk or bike to church for Adoration or to hear Mass and that itself is meditative. It was an honor to be invited to sing at the Mass of Dedication in April. JOY!



Music has taken over our lives. We continue to sing in the Latin Mass choir at both Stella Maris and Sacred Heart but we receive more than double blessings with double dose of Scripture :) We love how Sundays are truly set apart for worship. We enjoy socializing after Mass and are often the last ones to leave :) When my sister Suman came for a visit, she was happy to hear daily Mass and sing with us. She called it a spiritual retreat.

My health has improved significantly by relying on local farmers for meat, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. We’re moving away bit by bit from the medical/industrial food system. Clean living is allowing us to participate more in community life. Michael and I joined a recorder group; it’s a lot easier than singing or playing the piano! It’s such fun to make music together, harkening back to olden days when music-making was a communal affair. I’ve also joined a women’s barbershop that’s very challenging. Good for the brain! We’ve had our first concerts in these new groups and it has brought the same joy as bringing a book to publication. In the beginning, writing is a gift for yourself, then upon publication, it becomes a gift for others. Alas, I’m not writing much but I hope that as I become more proficient in music, I will have the mental space for creative writing. Michael is eager to retire and devote more time to his monkish pursuits—religion, brewing, gardening. He is such a good provider—look at the bounty from our garden (that’s still producing despite the cold).


Max is the opposite of a hobbit. I get tired just listening to him talk about his hectic schedule travelling for work and play. But I really appreciate the time he takes to be present to family and friends. This year, in addition to visits home, we ended up meeting in Chicago. I was visiting my father to celebrate his 95th birthday and Max was visiting some friends for July 4th celebration. So he spent some time with my parents as well. Such a wonderful God-cidence!

Max is happy living and working in DC. He and his housemate Chris continue to host marvelous Thursday night dinners. They remind me of my thesis advisor and mentor Lin, who’d prepare seven course meals for her black-tie dinner parties. She taught me a great deal—good science, good art, good cookingand I carry those principles with me. This spring, Jerry arranged a wonderful 50th year celebration of their Membrane Group. Of course, Lin prepared a delicious buffet for all 50+ of us. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and colleagues, some whom I’d lost touch with. To see Lin and Jerry again was a great joy! The last time was 25 years ago at their restaurant Combray, in Pullman, WA, when we were driving from Purdue Univ. to Redmond, WA. Max was just an embryo!


How time flies! Dagny too has flown the nest but we see her weekly for Mass and choir practice. She tells Max to move down to Charleston and become a wedding planner :) I think he’d be very good at it and we’re enlisting his help… because Dagny is engaged to be married to Ian Jacobs, the handsome boy down the street! Save the date: Monday, Dec. 30, 2024. Come celebrate their Holy Matrimony with us.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. After graduating last Dec. from Ave Maria Univ., Dagny worked at Firefly distillery on the production team. It’s been so interesting to learn more about spirits from her, though I’ve not yet developed a taste for them. However, she makes flavorful mixed drinks. She recently left Firefly to work for SC Dept. of Water. She’s enjoying having a desk job, making more $$$, and not having to wear steel-toed boots. She’ll keep our water clean for drinking, fishing, and playing. Her interests align with Ian’s; he’s studying civil engineering and will graduate next Dec. He’s already studied one of my father’s textbooks!

We took a family vacation in Ave Maria for Dagny’s graduation ceremony in May. We had a wonderful time listening to the inspiring sermons and speeches, meeting professors, parents, friends. Our Lady truly took our children under her mantle and formed them in virtue. Deo gratias! The best part was having downtime at the farmhouse that had kittens not even a month old. Such delight to pick them up whenever we wanted. Made it a purrfect and peaceful retreat. May you also have pockets of peace!

Closing with love and prayers for a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthful New Year. Pax Christi!



 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Summer Memories

What a summer! What a life of leisure! I've been reading, singing and playing so much, I've not taken the time to do much else, even write. But here I am on my poor, neglected blog. 

Dagny has moved farther away from her work and church and us but she's enjoying living closer to the beach with her new friends. I just love that her new home has a little stairway just for fun--just like in the song, If I Were a Rich Man in Fiddler on the Roof! I believe it must be a school project; both new housemates study here: Trades — American College of the Building Arts (acba.edu). My heart is at peace knowing she's in a good place with young women who share not only many interests, but also faith in Christ. It's been lovely to watch her grow in love and friendships and virtues.


I'm learning all kinds of new things at the library. We meet for "crafternoons" once a month and it's so fun. I get to be a kid again. I'd collected lots of pretty shells on the beach and learned to decoupage them; next, some painting! We're also learning to play the recorder in a group and purchased a tenor recorder for Michael--its tone is lovely, same range as the human voice. Luckily the fingering is the same as with the soprano, only it's twice as big, so he's getting used to having the fingers separated more--it helps to have big hands :) We continue to sing at both Stella Maris and Sacred Heart--it is our joy! I also got an invitation (from one of the ladies in the recorder group) to come listen to her women's acapella group, Charleston Sound Chorus, and since our church choir was on a summer hiatus, I thought it'd be fun. Barbershop has a unique sound. Melody (how aptly named) gave me a folder of music to sing along and I struggled my way through. But such fun! Challenging! I prayed to God that if it were His will for me to sing with CSC, He'd have to make it happen. And He did! All the details. I promised to do my part, which was to practice faithfully. Singing in three choirs is making me grow in musicianship. What's funny is that sometimes I wish I had my recorder at barbershop so that I could play the parts that I'm having trouble singing. But isn't it incredible that we're born with a musical instrument! 

Now that I'm mostly caught up with all the talented ladies in barbershop, I want to see whether I can write more productively (as in publishable material). I'm still only scribbling ideas (they just keep on coming) but I put away my historical novel...so pray that I can do it all. I want everything, yes, it's true. Sometimes I talk to St. Therese, the Little Flower, about it because she, too, wanted everything! But she also gave everything, her very self, completely to God. Do I? I try. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Max and his friends from American Moment came for a visit in Sept. and it was such a joy to spend some time with them celebrating birthdays, solving puzzles, discussing politics and religion, making music, and of course, eating good food and drink! It reminds me of the poem by Hilaire Belloc: 

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!
  



We all enjoyed some homebrew. Michael got some art from Tridentine Brewing Co. and it fits so perfectly with why we do what we do--for the greater glory of God. My motto is that of the Knights Templar: non nobis Domine (and we sing it often). Michael planted a fall garden and it's doing well (the bunnies haven't been able to get at it). 



Hard to believe that we're already in the last days (of the liturgical year, but also considering the chaos and evil in this world). All we can do is pray. So I leave you with a picture of the Source of my peace and joy along with some Lowcountry beauty captured by Dagny and Max. Pax Christi.