Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
I have a collection of Christmas carols and I do enjoy playing the easy versions on the piano as my family gathers around to sing. I'm copying the original words to my favorite hymn, written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898). Most of you will recognize this is as the tune to Greensleeves.
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Raise, raise a song on high,
The newer versions all use the second stanza as the refrain. I prefer this original one so much more, with the refrain having different words -- words that portend the ultimate sacrifice as well. I suppose I am an Easter gal even at Christmas ... The three Kings bear the baby Jesus gifts of gold, for the King of Kings, frankincense for the priests of priests and myrrh for the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. How Great is our Lord, who humbles himself to come as an infant, to come and live with us, to die for us, so that we may have eternal life. Come, be merry this Christmas! And God bless you all.
About the photos: The first is a statue that is in St. James Cathedral in Seattle and the second is the Pieta (sorry, but I don't know how to make accents, but it means pity) made by Michelangelo located in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Here is the relevant part:
You may know someone who is hesitating to pursue his or her Chautauqua dream due to finances. The Highlights Foundation offers scholarships and now is the time to find out more.
A lot of children's writers dream of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. "Next year," they promise themselves. "Next year I'm going to Chautauqua!" Then reality sets in. The drive and talent to support the dream are there, but the finances ... maybe not.
Please encourage your writing friends to stop dreaming and start planning! Scholarships will be considered in two groups. Early applications will be accepted through Dec. 15, 2010. Final scholarship deadline is Feb. 11, 2011.
Jo Lloyd, Program Asst. Highlights Foundation, 814 Court Street, Honesdale PA 18431
Phone: 877-512-8365 (toll free) or 570-251-4557 Fax: 570-2530-0179
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/
I wrote about my own Chautauqua experience here. I didn't think we could manage it financially or logistically. But I got a full scholarship and some work-for-hire gigs along with savings paid for the airfare. The younger toddler was weaned and my mother-in-law came to help for the whole week. A good time was had by all and it was a gift that is for a lifetime. So apply. And go!
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. Les Brown.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
But today -- today was a glorious day for another reason as well. I woke up without a migraine. Oh, a teensy one gnawed at the side of my head but I ignored it. There were no hammers hammering away. No tears. No anguish. No thoughts about how to get through the day. I brushed my teeth as the kittens came to play with the water. I got the kids ready for school and even engaged in conversation without asking them to be quiet. I walked to school and coming home, sang praises to God. Everything, from the brown soggy leaves to the bare branches, looked beautiful to me.
A small doubt crept into my head. How many hours will I have? But I banished it right away. Seize the day! And I have. I have tackled long-forgotten tasks related to school and home. I've written a bit. I'm writing this post. I have lessons to finish correcting. The sun is shining. I have a a page or two of my novel to revise. I can do anything ...
I have been given gifts from friends, the gifts of time and company. I need to write them back, thanking them.
It's been a long time -- weeks, months? -- since I've not had a hammer, a chisel and an anvil in my head. I pray this is a turning point.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
It's nice to get back into the school routine. I'm working on a short story and novel revisions again. We decorated our fake Christmas tree on Sunday. I'm not ready for a real tree this year with two kittens. Look at them! They've been having a great time playing with all the ornaments. They remind me of both our older cats when they were kittens. Such fun, such chaos. They nose the bells, chew on sticks and pulls the ornaments off. This morning, one of the kittens brought an ornament upstairs ... a fuzzy Santa with sticks. I told the kids that our job will be to fight entropy with the naughty kittens.
I hope everyone is enjoying getting back to their normal routine and not getting stressed over Christmas. I have one word for you: Marantha. It means, Come, Lord!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
It is difficult to be thankful for aches and pains, for suffering, for death, but only the good Lord knows how He will use them for His purpose, His glory.
Kristi Holl recommended me a book: The God of all Comfort by Judy Gann. It is a book of reflections for those who suffer from chronic illness, or those who are dying. Well, we're all dying, so we can all benefit from it. It brings much needed perspective to my life right now. If you know of someone who is suffering, I highly recommend it.
There's a poem in there by an unknown author I'd like to share with you:
Every night at supper, we go around listing five thanks in no particular order, big or small. We've been doing this for several years now. I especially enjoy listening to the children's thanks, which give me clues as to what they love in their lunchbox, like tomatoes or popcorn, or the obvious (not in their lunchbox) -- the pets, the sunshine, family, friends.
This year, our youth leader at Church challenged us to make a list of 100 things we're thankful for. I thought this would be fun. My kids have already finished their lists. In light of what I've said, I think you can think of a hundred things easily, both good and bad. Even I can be grateful for my illness; it draws me closer to God, makes my children kinder, more compassionate.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I got him at a time when I was hurting emotionally -- my husband (then boyfriend) and I had broken up because we were in a long-distance relationship and he had taken a job in Belgium and I felt he was moving in the wrong direction. I loved him so very much and wanted him in the same country. The same state would've been better. So I ended the relationship, and got this kitten instead. Eight months later, I was still miserable, as well as him (the boyfriend, not the kitten), so we decided to make concrete plans to physically be together. We got married and the rest is history. Oh, we were so young and so stupid, putting our careers above our love. Now I tell young people that love is more important, to not sacrifice it.
Moje was a great cat. A feisty little thing. Adventurous. When I finished my PhD I couldn't bear to be parted with him, so he came to Belgium with us for my postdoc at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. He's been well-travelled. He's been everywhere I've been and a great companion. I've missed him terribly when my husband I got married and went on our honeymoon. Luckily, our hosts had just gotten a kitten and I got to play with it.
Here's a photo of him when he was five years old and still not quite happy about getting the black cat. I was pregnant with our first baby at the time. But they became great friends after the baby was born and I was busy. She misses him the most now and follows me around quite a bit.
Then the babies came. He didn't like them at the beginning either -- but he was curious and wanted to be in the middle of everything.
He taught both my kids to read.
In his later years, we added a puppy and two kittens. He tolerated them. But he was always top cat. He spent much of his time curled up, sleeping, but even so, he had his daily heebie-jeebies. He still nipped my toes and demanded to be picked up. I always did, no matter what I was doing.
Monday, November 1, 2010
The entire service was in Latin and the congregation responded minimally. One could read in the little booklets that were printed, and although we were requested to return them, I confess I took one home to study, the Latin and English, printed side by side. I do know a little bit of Latin, since I used to sing in Concert Choir and many of the pieces we sung were by Bach and Verdi and Mozart and specifically composed for the Church. So I knew where we were during the liturgy. I love the Kyrie and the Sanctus, for I am a sinner and I cannot help but ask for mercy, and the Lord is Holy!
If you want to see a video clip and photos go here. The biggest difference is that the priest faces the Altar because he is leading the flock to Calvary. This is a much more sacrificial tone to the whole liturgy. The priest and altar servers move in a perfectly choreographed manner. We take communion by kneeling and on the tongue. There is something very different -- you are being fed the Lamb of God. Again, I cannot quite express how I feel. But I loved it and it evoked some very deep down memories that I didn't even know I had of going to the Cathedral as a child. We shall definitely go again. I think it is important to have exposure to this rich and traditional service as well as the vernacular.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Down-time. As you can see, we are a family that loves relaxing. Nothing beats cuddling up with a cat right after school, before homework and football practice.
The 17-year-old brown cat tolerates the kittens just so he can be with us.
The 12-year-old tortie does not like to be in the middle of mayhem. She has always slept with our son and does not join all the commotion in the family room in the afternoons. Here she claims a Highlights.
Monday, October 11, 2010
So begins Cleo: the Cat who Mended a Family by Helen Brown. Poor Helen. She's like my husband, who didn't know you don't just "look" at kittens. The writing is exquisite in this book. But I'll admit I stopped reading it for a couple of days when tragedy hits the family. I simply could not go on. My own daughter is nine. And to even imagine losing her to some freak auto-accident is a place I cannot go to and remain sane.
Now that I'm in the thick of it, I'm savoring it. There is love after loss. Even laughter. My family thinks I'm bonkers sitting in a corner cackling to myself as I read this book. I can't help but think of the half finished stories of my own first cat. I got him at a tumultuous time in my life ... he's still with us (17 years old), still demanding our attention, still behaving like an Indian husband. Ah, yes, he deserves his own book. Someday.
I was a bit put-off by the cover saying: the next Marley and Me. Don't get me wrong. I've read it. Enjoyed it. But Cleo is nothing like Marley. For heaven's sake, don't the people who market know anything about cats and dogs? Marley is a dog. And some of us are right offended by the comparison. Puh-leeeese.
So, cat lovers ... get this book. Cleo will burrow into your own heart as have other cats. Perhaps it will jog some of your own cherished kitten and cat memories. Pen them. Write a tribute.
I love the title chapter and subheadings. Here's a sampling:
Choice ~ A cat chooses its owner, not the other way around.
A Name ~ There's only one correct name for a cat -- Your Majesty.
Loss ~ Unlike humans, cats are accustomed to loss.
The Intruder ~ A cat doesn't go where it's invited. It appears where its needed.
Trust ~ A cat is always in the right place at exactly the right time.
I could go on and on, but you simply must get the book, curl up with your own feline and enjoy this book for yourself.
ps: I wish the owners of Marley and other dogs and their owners only well. After all, we also have a lovable doggy in the house. But cats are cats and dogs are dogs, and the two shall not compare. Cats rule!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Here's my son, trying to get the kittens out of the bag. I put a stop to that.
After we got home, I took a nap with one of the kittens. It's been a rough two weeks for me with intractable migraines ... these furry, purry pets bring such comfort and joy. God's creatures are marvelous ... and we are one of them as well.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The Institute of Children's Literature, is having another one of their wonderful writing contests. This one is calling for Historical Fiction. Go check it out. Your story could win $500 and be published in Children's Writer.
I'm promoting it for several reasons:
1.) I'm a graduate of the Institute. Their courses were a HUGE stepping stone to my getting short stories and articles published in children's magazines.*
2.) I won the last contest they had with my retold Folktale, "Why Dogs Beg."**
3.) I've entered this one.***
Lastly4.) Jan Fields, who faithfully puts out a FREE e-newsletter and to whom you can submit articles to Rx for Writers (and get paid, I've had three articles in Rx) is offering a boat load of children's books for anyone who promotes the Historical Fiction Writing Contest.
Got all that?
I know most of you are novel writers, but it's good to flex your muscles and write something short and focused. S0 check out the contest rules. You might have something that fits.
*I am a graduate and an instructor.
**I also won a contest years ago for contemporary YA : Driving Lessons.
***I cannot since I teach at ICL, but I'd love to since I adore HF.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
There is excellent advice over at Kristi Holl's blog ... the trick is to write fast and with with passion. But what if it's all crapola? I have lost all judgment about my work right now. My husband has suggested that I simply write and quit deleting and yet the delete button is my favorite key right now because the screen becomes blank again and I don't have to look at the stuff. He says to cut and paste it somewhere else. I actually do have another document where I talk to myself. Perhaps I should stick it in there ... I've not opened that document in a long time. But I promised Jen, my critique partner I will not delete anything more. We are supposed to meet Wed. and share some pages. I wanted to give her something brilliant to read ... make it worth her while.
Anybody else feel so neurotic?
I have made a decision. This revision does not have to be perfect. It cannot be and will not be perfect. It has to be incrementally better. That's all. Right?
Monday, September 6, 2010
Well, we're well into Sept. and both my kids are in school and I need to go spill some ink. Remember that first draft? Well, it's actually a horrible mess. A revision is in order. I told myself I'd start this weekend and it's almost over. We're still in summer mode even though it's raining here. Well, the night is still young ... must put the kiddos to bed and open a new document.
Here's to a productive fall, all.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
This is not just a teen pregnancy book. It's about a girl trying to discover her true identity in the shadow of her more flamboyant sister's death. It's also about toxic friendships. This is the aspect that interested me. It seems many teens don't discern people well, or even if they do, they still choose the wrong people to be with, for the wrong reasons.
The ending was honest, if not bittersweet. How I wish everything could've been tied up with a pretty bow, because sometimes that is what happens (see a post below with a baby's picture).
I was particularly impressed with how well Holly ties all the plots and subplots together and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cast of characters were not all white, without race being an issue. Very nicely done.
So, thank you, Holly, for writing one of the best contemporary YA books I've read in some time.
A title like this begs for a secret to be divulged ... hmmm ... I once did not wear underpants to school. We were at the bus-stop and my sister for some odd reason, lifted my tunic and told me run home and put them on. She'd make the bus wait. I did as I was told. After all, I was only five.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
There was also camping:
And sometimes we simply watched the dewdrops on the spiderweb ...
I hope you've all had a fabulous summer.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, ~Jeremiah 1:3
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Is it possible that this momentous event happened because my modem was dead all week and I couldn't get online? Methinks ...
Two hours later, my lesson packet arrived from ICL, but I took the night off to snuggle with all the pets and watch a movie.