Friday, 31 October 2008
As I grew up, I sang them with my mother, and quickly memorized most of the ones I loved best. Then I learned to play piano and violin. What do you know, I started playing the tunes as well. It became a tradition that the morning after my spring piano recital, I would sit down at the piano and play all the Christmas songs I could think of. As the years passed, that number grew.
I've picked up a knack for singing and playing at the same time, which comes in handy as the pianist for our small church. Today, sitting at the piano in the near-dark (it was about six - so the sun had set) I switched on my lamp and pulled out my oldest, and most-loved, book in my possession. It's a carolling book that Mum bought when I was about two, I believe. (She can correct me on the dates tomorrow.)
Half-way through "O Come, All Ye Joyful", I heard Mum's voice behind me. What was started as me just noodling instead of working on Bach turned into a Mum and Daughter carol singing fest.
I may be about to head off to look at music colleges, I may be nearly eighteen, but as we sat there at my piano, in the small pool of light cast by my old lamp, I felt just like I did years ago, sitting on Mum's lap when we sang together out of that book. Back when it still had it's cover. I was a child all over again.
Isn't that the magic of Christmas, though? That our sense of wonder and excitement is given back to us?
For me, it's sitting at the piano and singing out of a book that is in tatters but is held together by the love of a little child whose first memories of reading were from that book, held on her mother's lap. I'm getting in the Christmas mood, just about two months early. Looks like someone forgot to tell me which holiday we were actually supposed to be celebrating today.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
It's enough to frighten, discourage, and depress one. Thankfully, the Lord is there for prayers.
And so we cry, "Kyrie Eleison!"
Lord, have mercy.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Mum will be travelling with me, because she's much better now. (Thank you for all your prayers!) And Andro is going to be with me on Friday, which definitely is something to look forward to. Plus, I'll get to see my family, many of whom I haven't seen in seven years. And I love to make music, so really, auditions aren't that big of a deal.
Today, when I got home from town, I began looking at some of my clothes, books, notebooks, and jewelry and started my mental plan of what to take. I found out something. I like planning for travel. I enjoy getting ready to go. Now I'm really excited.
I suppose that means I actually have to pack tomorrow afternoon. Just so that I don't put it off too late.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
So as I was in the kitchen, I found a CD that I hadn't listened to much before. Theophilus bought it last Christmas for Mum, and somehow, I was always somewhere else when it was being played. But it was Mannheim Steamroller, so I knew it was good.
I fell in love with the music... especially a song called "Masters In The Hall". It just sounded so old, it was based on a mode used during the late Middle Ages.
It feels like Christmas is in the air... the very frosty air that is. Very soon, in the very room I'm in, there will be a beautiful tree all covered in shining ornaments. Oh and let's not forget what goes under there...
Fifty-eight days and counting!
Monday, 27 October 2008
Another person said "Although I hate to say that. Who knows, maybe someone will find a good reason for them by the time the night is over." More laughing ensued.
I left, and was barely two minutes away from the church where we rehearse and the car stopped. I mean, absolutely kaput.
Yes. That's right. I found reason number one for cell phones.
I called the conductor, who was leaving behind me and so was thankfully able to stop and keep my violin warm while we waited. (Her car is much to small to pull mine.)
Next, I called Dad, who was not far away, which was more than slightly surprising. He came, hooked up to me, and pulled me home. (Dad is my hero!)
I guess next time we start complaining about technology, I'll just have to remind myself that I could have stayed out on that freezing cold high-way a long time before anyone else pulled over.
Saturday, 25 October 2008
I've been avoiding that thought all day. Alright, I still have Theophilus as a brother, but he's at college and seems pretty satisfied with only speaking to me about once a week - usually after I've bugged him or gone ahead and called him myself. But the boys left yesterday evening.
In one week, we went from a family of seven, to a family of three. It's so strange that it is very nearly like one of those bizarre dreams where you comfort yourself, saying "don't worry, I'm bound to wake up in about five minutes... right after the teddy bear in the corner starts sing like Bing Crosby". Or maybe I'm the only one with that particular twist...
Anyways, when we took the table down to the setting for the three of us, it sank in that the kids are really gone. It really is just me and my parents. I love them, but it's just weird to have only them around. Can't exactly pull them onto my lap and tell them my newest fairytale I'm writing for a bedtime story.
I think I'm probably rambling, but I'm just trying to get used to the idea.
I'm an only child.
Friday, 24 October 2008
For several years, I heard about her books, but just never made the time to read them. They stayed at the top of my To Read When Time Makes Itself Available list. Funny, considering how the book of hers that I planned to read was named A Wrinkle in Time. Hey, it was an interesting enough title and I was kept wondering for years about what in earth and space a wrinkle in time was.
About a year and a half ago, I finally picked up that aforementioned book because my grandmother kindly bought it for me. (Thank you!) And I devoured it in a few moments time, or so it seemed. Probably was more like two hours or so. Then, going through some boxes of books which were picked up for nickel apiece at some long-forgotten library sale, I found a book which I remembered having an exchange sister read. The cover was torn and the whole book was in pretty sad shape. Opening it to the beginning, I realised that it was indeed the sequel to The Wrinkle, A Wind in the Door. I read it pretty fast, and loved it. Now fully in love with L'Engle's writing, the next time we went to Anchorage, I found myself a copy of the third book, A Swiftly Tilting Planet and read it. However, from there on, I could never find any copies of either Many Waters or An Acceptable Time. I was very disappointed. Andro promised to bring them for me when we visit colleges together in a few weeks, so I was finally mollified.
My brother going to college actually made me think even more about the series. They were the only things I'd ever read that made me interested in science or math. Especially physics. I'm not sure why, but the whole idea of time being wrinkled, of folding time and the limits of things - it was very intriguing. Whilst talking to various friends of his, every time we would get on a science related subject, I'd remember something from the books that would bail me out from the confusion that all their terms induced. But again and again, I found that none of them had ever read L'Engle. (After all, they're in college for maths not for English.) So I found myself constantly suggesting that they read her books. And consequently, I began talking about them a lot more.
Yesterday, Dad went up to Anchorage and stopped by the bookstore up there. As I was going to RCO rehearsal, my phone started ringing. Dad started asking which L'Engle books I was missing. Well- they had singles of books 1,2,3, and 5, but he couldn't find 4... except in the box set of all of them. Would I like to have him pick up the box set.
That was a yes. So, late last night when Dad came home, he handed me off the box. I was happy, to say the least. At long last, I had my little mitts on the whole Time Quintet!
This morning, I was about to dive into book four, when I realized I hadn't read the first three in a few months... and I was a bit rusty. The most obvious thing to do was to read the whole series. A Wrinkle disappeared very quickly, and the second, A Wind in the Door, went a little slower, due to my computer being up and doing things around the house. But now, I'm fully prepared to start in on A Swiftly Tilting Planet and we'll see how fast I get through the other books.
For the time being, I'm estatic with my newly-accquired Time in a Box.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
Best of all, we got to play Christmas music all night long. My fingers are a little sore from the cold, but it was such fun that I don't really mind. Plus, being first chair second violin does a lot to cheer me up.
And we have a new contra-bass player; a position left empty by the absence of Theophilus this year. Who else would do it than the old harrasser-of-strings Kent. He's actually a trombone player and has teased string players for years. I seem to be his usual target, but now, the tables have been reversed.
Our conductor says I have free reign to tease him about now being a string-player. Now, I think I'm going to be playing Sleigh Ride tomorrow... and am looking forward to more RCO music!
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Things are going okay, I'm still missing the girls very badly, but Mum's home and she's doing better. And that's what matters. One of these days, I'll catch up on my sleeping again, but for now, I'm just thankful that Mum's home and that you have all been praying for her.
It's only nine in the evening, but it feels like midnight. After devotions, I'm probably calling this a night.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
We don't know if they'll be back in a month like the social workers said it might be. We don't know if they'll never come home again. We just don't know.
But a large part of me was torn out when Belle said good-bye. A lot of my last two years have been invested with her; Mum focused on Tink and I got Belle. I love both of them, they are my sisters, and I have had to remind myself that they are only foster children. Not my actual sisters.
Unfortunately, they feel the same way. I've had to deal with melt-downs from Belle after she found out that I was not going with her on this trip. Suddenly, one of my reasons to keep plowing through life when things get hard has been jerked away. I don't have Belle following me around, believing in me all the time, smiling up at me anymore.
Emotionally, I'm running on empty...
Monday, 20 October 2008
Thou art no so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most love mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
-Amiens' Song, from "As You Like It" by William Shakespeare.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
But the days go on, and life has changed greatly over the last few days. Five days. It hardly seems possible that so much has happened in that amount of time. My mind has been all over the place, as have my emotions, but I've found that prayer is my only resort in the end.
A friend of mine and I started a prayer group together, and hope to be able to be there for others to reach out. We as humans are not meant to be alone. I believe Lewis when he said that Man was not a solitairy creature. Perhaps we enjoy being alone and having solitude and peace, yet our souls were made to yearn for others. I never realized how much others meant to me - their words, company and prayers - until this past five days.
This week, the days will still go on, and life will change even more, but I cannot say more about that for now. I'll explain as things go along and time passes.
Blessings, ~ Laura
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Life still feels like I'm living in a whirl-wind. And I feel like somone super-glued a phone to my left ear, which now has a permanent ring in it. The kids have been great, for the most part, and I'm intensely grateful for them behaving. Goodness knows the melt-downs I could be dealing with right now. I'm just finding that the night's are not nearly long enough for sleeping. Although I'm exhausted, I've learned to take advantage of the times when I'm sitting down and am not on the phone.
Mum's probably coming home tomorrow. It's better than her being at the hospital, in some ways, but she won't have trained people looking in on her, which might be difficult. She called a little while ago, and told me that she actually got to walk about six or eight feet today, with the help of a walker. We're not sure what this next week will hold, but I am so very thankful for all the prayers surrounding my Mum right now.
And now I have to check on dinner and Belle and Harrison, since those are the two I have at home right now. Dad and Tink should be home soon, and then we're off to Lance's band concert! We'll see about pictures of that...
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Yesterday afternoon, while my parents were dropping my sister Belle off for counciling, my mum had basically a mini-stroke. My dad took her to the hospital, where she is now, and they ran tests on her. She seems to have cleared out whatever caused the mini-stroke, and has started moving her left arm and leg again and is able to talk, although she's still pretty distant when she's talking. Hopefully she can come home tomorrow evening, so thanks for all the prayers.
I'm thanking God for this, because she was extremely lucky and it could have been much worse. Continued prayer would be greatly appreciated.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
But, I am grateful, even if I can't find the ways to show it. I'm thankful for Lauri taking time to pray on the phone with me, I'm thankful for the friends who offered to come help with the kids and with dinner, I'm thankful for my brother who took it well (at least much better than I expected) and his friends who prayed, I'm thankful for my grandmother being there when I called, I'm ever so grateful that the kids didn't act up this evening, I'm thankful for Laura driving Belle and Lance home and telling me exactly what's going on.
And I'm thankful for my parents and for God watching over them this evening.
So to all my friends and family, thank you for being there and for the prayers.
Monday, 13 October 2008
Here is when I was constructing the base for the tower a'cookay! Ahem. That was a little... odd. Basically, this is when I was stacking the cookies and thinking how it's the only thing I'll ever get to engineer while my brother is actually thinking of becoming an engineer.
Tada! The cookies of doom in their tower of sugared goodness!
Saturday, 11 October 2008
I found one which somewhat had the cushioning properties of a rock. It was glorious. And it came in yesterday. I was practically in heaven.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Then I found a video making fun of opera/movies and computers at the same time. Immediately, I posted it on my facebook and then went on to watch it several times in a row. I'm still laughing at it. Shortly thereafter, I found a spoof of "The Princess Bride" which was chock-full of silly references. Oddly enough, I think I got most of them.
In the days to come, I think youtube is going to be my friend as I look more into the college. Oh, and the one guy in the Opera video seems to correlate to a guy at my brother's school that he's friends with. I will attempt to find the Opera guy's name and when I visit there in November, I'm going to try to track him down.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Also, I think what really did it was that I volunteered to bring a gross of cookies to our concert on Friday. I don't think I mentioned the concert, did I?
Well, every year, the local musicians put on a concert, called Evening of Classics. I'm not doing any solos myself, but I'd rather not go into the political realm of local musicians on my blog, so I'll leave it there. Our youth orchestra, of which I'm concertmistress, is playing a piece by Vivaldi, which is exciting. Because our conductor likes to include beginners in the orchestra, we generally don't have very challenging pieces. This one is different, so only a portion of the orchestra's playing, but we sound good and I am happy.
Back to the cookies. I got started as soon as the butter was soft enough and I gave myself a certain ammount of time to do them. I make snickerdoodles all the time, so I figured I had it down. Then, being me, I forgot to decrease the temperature that the recipe called for. The cookies flattened horribly and I resorted to cutting the pan into squares for the cookies. It looked like Frankenstein cookies. And the whole first batch, which was supposed to be six dozen, was that way. Well, I figured I could send them to Theophilus; he and a few friends have been asking for some.
After a little break, I made the second batch, and they all turned out lovely. It was good for my self-confidence to see such wonderful, picture-worthy cookies. After feeding the kids and having a long talk with Mum, I went back to the kitchen. The kids taxed my brain cells, so I was eager to be done with those cookies. (I was already behind my schedule because of having to make up for the first batch.)
Right before the time came to let the dough stand for a few minutes, I realized that something seemed wrong. I scanned over the list and knew that I'd put everything in... but... I had doubled the recipe. I was set to make 18 dozen cookies in the end, if you added the batch already made. My brain died. Right. Then.
So now, I'm sitting with my dad's computer because mine won't work and I'm blogging instead of baking cookies. Bad me. But my brain feels happy right here.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
I followed the third instinct. And then I remembered, I promised to take pictures of snow and post them up here. Oh yeah, and I had to work today so staying in bed wasn't going to do me much good.
Here's a view from our front windows towards the road.
Out on our deck, and you can see the flowers which we rescued from a cold death a few days ago.
I think you can see the snowflakes a bit better in this picture.
Yes, Alaskans are hardy folk. We paint our toes up pretty and then run outside to take pictures of our bare feet in the snow. Don't tell the kids I did this, it hard enough as is to get them to put on their shoes. Oh, and this is obviously on our deck, in a portion that got minimal snow.
After that picture, I ran inside, got wool socks on and drank another cup of coffee. Oh the bliss... and now I have to venture forth into the snowy world for another full Monday of doing everything under the cold clouds. Fare thee well as I go on to freeze!
Saturday, 4 October 2008
So, after having theory at my piano teacher's house, I was fully intending to spend about half an hour at the beach which is five minutes from her house. The inlet was grey, and it just felt like the northerns seas of Middle-Earth. Ahem, I should mention that I was reading Children of Hurin last night and today.
As I was going down the road, listening to Christopher Lee's voice on my iPod, (Yes, mum, only one piece was in and it was really low!) my phone started ringing. Well, she and the kids had gone to Halleymarie's house for the day to make doughnuts. And wouldn't I please pick up some milk at the store on the way home? Oh, and just as the conversation was drawing to a close, Laura (Halleymarie's Mum) invited me over. As it was kinda cold and looked like snow, I decided that maybe I might enjoy hot doughnuts more than sitting on a log or in my car at a grey, northern beach. That was probably my first mistake. "Okay! I'll be there soon, I'll just snap a couple pictures and then zip on over." Suddenly, my leisure half-hour was going to be just a quick jump out of the car and then back in!
And boy, was it cold! But it was beautiful too, and others agreed with me, judging by the six other vehicles parked there.
"Are you a photographer?" a deep, English sounding voice asked. I looked up to see a really tall, older gentleman looking curiously at me. Something seemed familiar, but my brain didn't register. He was just another tourist, wearing a long black jacket and a scarf because they know better than we do about bundling up when it is cold.
"No, I just like taking pictures."
"Are you going to study it further?"
I'm not used to tourists asking me these questions. Things like what I ride to school (moose or caribou) is more normal. "No, I'm more into music and writing, so it's piano and English for me."
"Are you a typical teenage writer, full of angst about misunderstandings?" He seemed to have a smile on his face.
"I'd like to think not. See, I prefer to try to writing like Tolkien." I patted my bookbag where Children of Hurin was safe and dry.
"Tolkien?" He smiled. "He's a really good writer."
"I know." I grinned, shaking my head. After snapping a few more pictures, we said goodbye and he wished me luck with music and writing.
So I was going down the road again, and I was once again tuned in with The Tolkien Ensemble. And then it hit me. A awhile ago, I'd read on a Christopher Lee website that he had always wanted to go to the Kenai, at a time when there wouldn't be many other tourists.
That man was the right height, the right age, the right voice, the right appearance to be: Christopher Lee.
I don't think I've ever done a three-point turn quite that fast before. When I got back, three of the cars had gone. So was the old man. I ran around to all the other people out there, asking if they knew who the old man was. Let's say I got some really strange stares. No one had any idea. One lady just shook her head and said that I was the only one she'd seen him talk to.
So I might have met Christopher Lee today. One of my favourite actors of ALL TIME, and I don't even recognize him when I meet him. I could have broke my steering wheel from banging my head on it so many times. If it wasn't him, then it was his dead look-alike.
Of course, when I got home this evening, I checked and rumour on one of his websites says that he is in Alaska right now. Another one says he isn't, but they also say that they will protect his privacy and won't disclose his location unless he's doing an offical public meeting or something.
I could have had him sign my copy of Children of Hurin. How stupid could I have been? And I was flipping listening to him on my iPod!!! Argh... I think I need to drink more tea... and cry myself to sleep.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Yes. The white stuff. I'm not ready for winter just yet. I was settled in for the fall thing still. Snow. It's cold. And we had it just five months ago, basically. That is a depressing thought. But if his school had snow, we'll have it any day where we live. So... when I said that winter was coming yesterday, I really meant it.
I think I'm going to dig out all my sweaters tomorrow and put away all my light summer gear. Snow. I feel like the little kids in The King and I. Snow. It's too early to think about that and I'm too tired.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
I love Christopher Lee, and still maintain the belief that he should have played Gandalf. About five or six years ago, our peninsula orchestra did a fantasy movies' soundtracks concert, and one of the movies was, of course, the Lord of the Rings. In my search for the soundtrack (yes, Jhaniel, I did not own it) my dad found a CD called At Dawn In Rivendell and it has since become one of my favourite CDs of all time. I like it better than even Howard Shore's music in the movie. And today, I found this video, combining both the Ensemble and Christopher Lee. That equals happiness.
That line was chasing itself around my head this morning as I took a long walk down our road. I suppose one could easily blame it on the fact that I've been listening to At Dawn In Rivendell on my iPod a lot lately; but I choose the option that it's autumn. Last night, the wind was quite strong around two in the morning. Since my insomnia has seemingly returned the last few days, I laid in bed, writing and listening to the dancing leaves go past my window.
This morning most of the trees around our house are bare. The ground is golden and crisp in frosty leaves. The trees look lonely and sad, stripped of their bright raiment. They seem to know that Autumn is drawing near its end, and that Winter is close on her heels. The chilly air is brisk and invigoratingly fresh.
Winter's coming soon, and that will mean snow. Hopefully that will come when I'm in New York with Mum, and perhaps Andy, but if not, I'll be showing you what the beginnings of Alaska winters look like. Actually, we're lucky. Fairbanks had snow on the 27th of September.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
"But we have not yet touched on jealousy. I suppose no one now believes that jealousy is especially connected with erotic love. If anyone does, the behaviour of children, employees, and domestic animals ought soon to undecieve him. Every kind of live, almost every kind of association, is liable to it. The jealousy of Affection is closely connected with its reliance on what is old and familiar. So also with the total, or relative, unimportance for Affection of what I call Appreciative love. We don't want the "old, familiar faces" to become brighter or more beautiful, the old ways to be changed even for the better, the old jokes and interests to be replaced by exciting novelties. Change is a threat to Affection.
"A brother and sister, or two brothers - for sex here is not at work - grow to a certain age sharing everything. They have read the same comics, climbed the same trees, been pirates or spacemen together, taken up and abandoned stamp-collecting at the same moment. Then a dreadful thing happens. One of them flashes ahead - discovers poetry or science or serious music or perhaps undergoes a religious conversion. His life is flooded with the new interest. The other cannot share it; he is left behind. I doubt whether even the infidelity of a wife or husband raises a more miserable sense of desertion or a fiercer jealousy than this can sometimes do. It is not yet jealousy of the new friends whom the deserter will soon be making. That will come; at first it is the jealousy of the thing itself - of this science, this music, of God (always called "religion" or "all this religion" in such contexts). The jealousy will probably be expressed by ridicule. THe new interest is "all silly nonsense," contemptibly childish (or contemptibly grown-up), or else the deserter is not really interest in it at all - he's showing off, swankering; it's all affectation. Presently the books will be hidden, the scientific specimens destroyed, the radio forcibly swetched off the classical programmes. For Affection is the most instinctive, in that sense the most animal, of loves; its jealousy is proportionately fierce. It snarls and bares its teeth like a dog whose food has been snatched away. And why would it not? Something or someone has snatched away from the child I am picturing his life-long food, his second self. His world is in ruins.
"But it is not only children who react thus. Few things in the ordinary peacetime life of a civilised country are more nearly fiendish than the rancour with which a whole unbelieving family will turn on the one member of it who has become a Christian, or a whole low-brow family on the one who shows signs of becoming an intellectual. This is not, as I once thought, simply the innate and, as it were, disinterested hatred of darkness for light. A church-going family in which one has gone atheist will not always behave any better. It is the reaction to a desertion, even to robbery. Someone or something has stolen "our" boy (or girl). He who was one of Us has become one of Them. What right had anyone to do it? He was ours. But once the change had thus begun, who knows where it will end? (And we all so happy and comfortable before and doing no harm to no one!)
"Sometimes a curious double-jealousy is felt, or rather two inconsistent jealousies which chase each other round in the suffer's mind. One the one hand "This" is "All nonsense, all bloody high-brow nonsense, all canting hum-bug." But on the other, "Supposing-it can't be, it mustn't be, but just supposing-there were really something in it?" Supposing there really were anything in literature, or in Christianity? How if the deserter had really entered a new world which the rest of us had never suspected? But, if so, how unfair! Why him? Why was it never opened to us? "A chit of a girl - a whipper-snapper of a boy - being shown things that are hidden from their elders?" And since that is clearly incredible and unendurable, jealousy returns to the hypothesis "All nonsense."
"Parents in this state are much more comfortably placed than brothers or sisters. Their past is unknown to their children. Whatever the deserter's new world is, they can always claim that they have been through it themselves and come out the other end. "It's a phase," they say. "It'll blow over." Nothing could be more satisfactory. It cannot be there and then refuted, for it is a statement about the future. It stings, yet - so indulgently said - is hard to resent. Better still, the elders may really believe it. Best of all, it may finally turn out to have been true. It won't be their fault if it doesn't. "
--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I bet you already knew it was Lewis, seeing as he's practically the only author I've quoted. Oh, and the fact that he and Tolkien are my two favorite authors.
Interesting note: for college, I had to write about someone who's had a great impact on my life and I chose Lewis; Andy nearly chose the same for the same college... wonder if they would have guessed that we are friends?
This book is totally going to college with me. Then too, so are all my Lewis and Tolkien books. And that's a fair number.