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Showing posts from December, 2012

Practice Notes Fiddle 1

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Checking tuning: G D A E

Bow twice across each string, back and forth

Scales: Gmaj, Dmaj, Amaj
Bow twice on each note, up and down the scale, repeat. "Mississippi groundhog," up and down the scale, repeat."Grasshopper," up and down the scale, repeat.Straight scale, up and down, repeat three times. Songs
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star": Dmaj, Gmaj, Amaj, three times each."Shortenin' Bread": Dmaj, Gmaj, Amaj, three times each."Shortenin' Bread" with "Grasshopper" beat: Dmaj, three times."Frère Jacques": Dmaj, three times. TOTAL PRACTICE TIME: 25 minutes a day (after practicing for 8 weeks, starting with 10 minutes a day and adding 5 minutes every other week or so, as your arms and hands gain strength)

Things to think about
Breathe and relax into the bowing.Don't rush. Play each song slowly first, until the notes sing out clearly.Start with a down bow, but don't pick up the bow again until you stop play…

Our Lady of Light

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After the Queen's Speech

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Photo by JP BrownPosted with Blogsy

Christmas Joy

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God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

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I confess, I was really worried it wasn't going to work this year. You know, the magic. Somehow, no matter what, every year there comes a moment before Christmas when suddenly my heart lifts and, yes, the joy is there. The hope, the faith, the peace at the thought of the coming of Our Lord. Maybe just for a moment, before it is lost once again in the anxieties of the day-to-day, but always, it has been there, if only for a moment. Until this year. Nothing. Part of the reason that I have been using the past week or so to post Sister Mary of Agreda's description of the novena during which Mary was prepared to become Mother of the LORD is that I was afraid of letting myself write anything else.*

"Bah, humbug," I wanted to write. "I am sick of our secularized society in which we are forced, out of politeness, to wish people 'Happy Holidays,' lest we offend. I want to buy presents, but thanks to all of the decluttering that I've done, all I can s…

The Ninth Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

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"On the last day of the novena of immediate preparation of the tabernacle (Psalm 45:5), which He was to sanctify by his coming, the Most High resolved to renew his wonders and multiply his tokens of love, repeating the favors and benefits which up to this day He had conferred upon the Princess Mary. But the Almighty chose to work in such a way, that in drawing forth from his infinite treasures his gifts of old, He always added thereto such as were new. All of these different kinds of wonders were appropriate to the end He had in view: lowering his Divinity to the human nature and raising a woman to the dignity of Mother of God. In descending to the lowliness of man's estate, God neither could, nor needed to change his essence: for, remaining immutable in Himself, He could unite his Person to our nature; but an earthly woman, in ascending to such an excellence that God should unite with Her and become man of her substance, apparently must traverse an infinite space and be …

The Eighth Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

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"The heavenly Princess, most holy Mary, had now attained such fullness of grace and beauty and the heart of God was so wounded by her tender affections and desires (Song of Songs 4:9), that He was so to say irresistibly drawn to begin his flight from the bosom of the eternal Father to the bridal-chamber of her virginal womb and end the long delay of more than five thousand years. Nevertheless, since this new wonder was to be executed in the plenitude of his wisdom and equity, the Lord arranged this event in such a way, that the Princess of the heavens Herself, being the worthy Mother of the incarnate Word, should at the same time be also the most powerful Mediatrix of his coming and the Redeemer of his people much more than Esther was of Israel (Esther 7-8). In the heart of most holy Mary burned the flame, which God himself had enkindled, and without intermission She prayed for the salvation of the human race. However, as yet the most humble Lady restrained Herself in modesty…

The Seventh Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

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"Great are the works of the Most High, for all of them were and are executed with the plenitude of knowledge and goodness, ordained in equity and number (Wisdom 11:21). None of them is faulty, useless or ineffectual, superfluous or vain; all are exquisite and magnificent, finished and executed according to the full measure of his holy will. Such He desired them to be, in order that He might be known and magnified in them. But in comparison to the mystery of the Incarnation, all the works of God ad extra, although they are in themselves great, stupendous and marvelous, more to be admired than comprehended, are only a small spark, issuing from the unfathomable abyss of the Divinity. This great sacrament of vesting Himself in a passible and mortal nature is pre-eminently the great work of his infinite power and wisdom and the one which immeasurably excels all the other works and wonders of his powerful arm. For in this mystery, not merely a spark of the Divinity, but that whol…

The Sixth Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

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"While the Most High continued the proximate preparation of our heavenly Princess for the reception of the eternal Word in her virginal womb, She, on her part, persevered without intermission in her fervent sighs and prayers to hasten his coming into the world. When the night of the sixth of these days, which I have begun to describe, had arrived, and when She had previously been elevated by still more profound illuminations, She was again called and invited in spirit to the abstractive vision of the Divinity. Although this happened in the same manner as at other times, yet it was accompanied by more heavenly effects and by a more profound insight into the attributes of the Most High. She remained nine hours in this trance and issued from it at the third hour. Yet, although the high vision of the essence of God ceased at that hour, the most holy Mary continued to enjoy another kind of vision and prayer....

"Having seen God in this vision She was immediately shown the work…

The Fifth Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

"The fifth day of the novena, which the most blessed Trinity celebrated in the temple of most holy Mary, in order that the eternal Word might assume human shape in Her, had arrived.  Just as in the preceding days She was elevated to an abstractive vision of the Divinity, and, as the veil fell more and more from the secrets of the infinite wisdom, She discovered new mysteries also during this day.  For the preparations and enlightenments emitted ever stronger rays of light and divine graces, which flashed into her most holy soul and emptied the treasures of infinity into her faculties, assimilating and transforming the heavenly Lady more and more to a likeness of her God in order to make Her worthy of being his Mother....

"It is impossible to describe the hidden secrets, which most holy Mary then saw in the Lord; for She perceived in Him all the creatures of the past, present and the future, and the position of each one in creation, the good and bad actions and the final endi…

The Fourth Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

"Still the favors and most exalted mysteries of the Most High toward our Queen and Lady in preparing Her for [the] approaching dignity of Motherhood continued.  The fourth day of this preparation had arrived and at the same hour She was again raised to the abstractive vision of the Divinity.  But this vision was accompanied by new effects of exalted enlightenments in this most pure Soul.  The divine power and wisdom has no bounds or limits; to his operations only our will, or the limitation of our created nature, offers resistance.  But in the will of most holy Mary the divine power found no hindrance, for all her works were executed with plenitude of holiness and entirely according to the pleasure of the Lord, drawing Him on, as He himself said, and wounding his heart with love (Song of Songs 4:9).  Only in so far as most holy Mary was a mere creature was the power of the divine arm limited; but within these limits it could act without bound or restriction, and without measure, …

The Third Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

"The right arm of the Most High, which threw open the doors of the Divinity to most holy Mary, continued to enrich and adorn at the expense of his infinite attributes this most pure spirit and virginal body which He had chosen as his tabernacle, as his temple, and as the holy city of his habitation.  And the heavenly Lady, engulfed in this vastness of the Divinity, winged her flight day by day farther away from earthly things, and transformed Herself more and more into a heavenly being, discovering ever new sacraments in the Most High.  For as He is the infinite Object of desire, although the appetite is satiated with that which is received, always more remains to be desired and understood.  Not all the hierarchies of the angels, nor all men together, have attained such preferment in blessings, mysteries and sacraments as this Princess attained, especially as regards those due to Her as Mother of the Creator.

"On the third day of preparation at which I have now arrived, havi…

The Second Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

"On the second day, at the same hour of midnight, the Virgin Mary was visited in the same way as described in the last chapter.  The divine power raised Her up by the same elevations and illuminings to prepare Her for the visions of the Divinity.  He manifested Himself again in an abstractive manner as on the first day, and She was shown the works performed on the second day of the creation.  She learnt how and when God divided the waters (Genesis 1:6), some above and others below, establishing the firmament, and above it the crystal, known also as the watery heaven.  Her insight penetrated into the greatness, order, conditions, movements and all the other qualities and conditions of the heavens.

"And in the most prudent Virgin this knowledge did not lay idle, nor remain sterile; for immediately the most clear light of the Divinity overflowed in Her, and inflamed and emblazoned Her with admiration, praise and love of the goodness and power of God.  Being transformed as it we…

The First Day of Mary's Preparation to Be Mother of the LORD

"[In] order to put his desires into execution [the LORD] sought first to prepare the tabernacle or temple, whither He was to descend from the bosom of the eternal Father.  He resolved to furnish his beloved and chosen Mother with a clear knowledge of all his works ad extra, just as his Omnipotence had made them.  On the first day therefore [by an abstractive vision] He manifested to Her all that He had made on the first day of the creation of the world, as it is recorded in Genesis, and She perceived all with greater clearness and comprehension, than if She had been an eye-witness; for She knew them first as they are in God, and then as they are in themselves.

"She perceived and understood, how the LORD in the beginning (Genesis 1:1, 5), created heaven and earth; in how far and in what way it was void, and how the darkness was over the face of the abyss; how the spirit of the LORD hovered over the waters and how, at the divine command, light was made, and what was its nature…

Our Lady Tree

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The Lady praises herself:
I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures:
I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth, and as a cloud I covered all the earth:
I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of a cloud.
I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven, and have penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and have walked in the waves of the sea,
And have stood in all the earth: and in every people,
And in every nation I have had the chief rule:
And by my power I have trodden under my feet the hearts of all the high and low: and in all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the LORD. Then the creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and he that made me, rested in my tabernacle,
And he said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect.
From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cea…

The LORD Prepares His Mother for His Incarnation

"In order to proceed with a dignity befitting Himself, God prepared most holy Mary in a singular manner during the nine days immediately preceding this mystery, and allowed the river of his Divinity to rush impetuously forth (Psalm 45:5) to inundate this City of God with its floods.  He communicated such great graces and gifts and favors, that I am struck dumb by the perception of what has been made known to me concerning this miracle, and my lowliness is filled with dread at even the mention of what I understood.  For the tongue, the pen, and all the faculties of a creature fall far below any possibility of revealing such incomprehensible sacraments.  Therefore I wish it to be understood, that all I say here is only an insignificant shadow of the smallest part of these wonders and ineffable prodigies, which are not at all to be encompassed by our limited words, but only by the power divine, which I do not possess."

--Mary of Agreda, The Mystical City of God: The Incarnation

A Teachable Moment

A curious thing happens when you announce to the world that you are learning to play a new musical instrument.

Nobody (or almost nobody) asks the more practical questions: "Where are you taking lessons? Private or group? Did you have to buy your own instrument, or were you able to rent? What was the first thing you had to learn?  What is it like?  How is it different from other instruments you already play?  Do you have to read music?  What inspired you to want to learn to play?"

Rather, almost immediately, family, friends, and acquaintances begin to regale you with one of three things:
Tales of their own experience learning (or not learning) to play your musical instrument;Lists of expert musicians who play the instrument you are just starting to learn;Lists of other people whom they know who play the same instrument and whom they expect that you would like to meet. Well-meant as they are, am I the only one who finds these kinds of things hard to hear?*  No. 1 is easier: I s…

Day Three, Event Three, Headache Three

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This is not #$%&ing fair.

I didn't drink last night. I didn't hang out late with my friends. I didn't stay up watching television. I was a good girl. I even went to sleep while my roommates were still talking. AND I STILL WOKE UP WITH A #$%&ING HEADACHE.

It's not fair, it really isn't. I was feeling so good--SO GOOD--on Thursday as I was driving up from Chicago for the tournament this weekend. Even strangers were noticing. I was glowing, I was so happy about finally getting started working on my book again. I had pages written! I had an outline for the rest of the chapter I'm working on! For the first time in over three years, I could see how I was actually going to finish writing this book! I had hope! I had a plan! I had confidence in myself and my work!

I was such an idiot. It never lasts. Eeyore, that's who I am. Give me one good day, one really good day when I feel confident, strong, capable, and--BAM!--I come down with the flu…

My Notebook and Me

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So, that went well--NOT!

Sigh. It is supposed to be a good thing to keep a fencing notebook. You know. To keep a record of all of the pools and DEs that you've fenced. To make notes on the opponents you've had, what you've learned about how they fence. I know fencers who keep beautiful notebooks, with carefully, calmly written notes about every bout they've ever fenced, thoughts about things to work on, strategies to try the next time they come up against a particular fencer. I've tried to keep a fencing notebook, I really have. But when I come off the strip after learning NOTHING, it's the first thing to go.

I have no idea how many fencing notebooks I've gone through. They never survive very long, maybe a year or two. I will dutifully keep track of all of the bouts that I fence in a pool, make notes about things that I noticed in this or that bout, write myself encouraging notes about what to work on...and then there will come a day like today wh…

Checking In

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Okay, so maybe that martini last night was a bit of a mistake. It woke me up bright and early at 5:30am with such a headache, my head is still fuzzy even after the Tylenols and a couple hours of trying to get back to sleep. Not exactly the best start to the day, especially when I have to compete this afternoon. But I sure enjoyed it at the time.

History Bear and I are here in Milwaukee for the annual December NAC. Have I ever explained the North American Cups? They are national level tournaments held more or less the same weekends every year. Each year we have two at which we can fence Veteran events, one in December and one in March, plus Summer Nationals in late June/early July. So this is one of my three big tournaments every year. And my head is full of fuzz thanks to the martini last night.

I am trying not to worry about it. Because, see, I am a mature fencing bear now, all of 9 1/2 years old. Gosh, that's old. I was only 5 when I started this blog just before Summer…

Hey Diddle Diddle

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I'm learning the fiddle!  I know, I know, what is it with me and things that you do with pointy sticks?  What can I say?  It's an aesthetic.

But, seriously, I have always wanted to learn to play the fiddle--or, as they introduced it to us in fourth grade, the violin.  I don't remember the details terrifically well, but I know that there was some kind of assembly or such in which the kids in the orchestra played each of the instruments and the teachers invited us to choose one that we would like to learn to play.  I know I asked my mother if I might try violin, but she was already fed up with me for not practicing my piano (or words to that effect), so that was that.  It was piano or nothing.

And so I stuck with the piano--through the tears and frustration and teasing and embarrassment.  Through the scales and the new teachers and always feeling like I really couldn't play.  Despite the fact that I could read music, quite well, in fact.  Despite the fact that I practice…

That DOES It

I am turning off the option to be able to comment on my blog anonymously.  I am sick to death of being chastised by readers too chicken to tell me who they are (you can do that anonymously, too, by sending me an email, you know).  Yes, I know it's petty--but so is making personal comments on someone's personal blog without introducing yourself properly.

I will be happy to reconsider if I get floods of emails from readers who don't have an Open ID or Google account by which they can log in.  But, seriously, folks!  I'm baring my soul here.  The least you can do is tell me who you are before you lay into me for my faults.

Why I am not a cat person

The f*cking cat did it again.

A few years ago, I can't remember quite when, but it was sometime in the autumn, probably October, I had the clever idea that it might be possible to keep the dog from eating the cat poop by buying one of those top entry cat boxes that keep dogs out and yet let cats in to do their business.

Almost immediately, the cat stopped pooping.  Then peeing.  Or so it seemed.

What really had happened was that the cat started peeing in the corner of the back room in our apartment, well away from the traffic, so it was days before I could figure out what was going on.  The cat seemed fine, even though (to judge from her litter box) she wasn't peeing, so I didn't take her to the vet.  I just kept waiting to see whether she would a) seem sick, or b) start using her litter box again.

She never did.  When I finally found where she had been peeing, the rug in the back room was soaked.  I tried cleaning it with all of the various pet odor removers we had--and t…

Why Christmas Trees Have Lights

"You will recall the belief that in the time of the Messiah five things would be restored to the temple: the fire, the ark, the Spirit, the cherubim and the menorah.  Since the asherah was remembered as a stylized tree, the older translations of the Bible, made before the discoveries at Ugarit revealed the existence of the goddess Athirat, translated asherah as 'grove,' following the Greek.  It was forbidden to plant a grove of trees near any altar of the LORD (Deut. 16.21, AV); Jezebel had 400 prophets of the groves (1 Kings 18.19, AV).  The asherah removed by Josiah would have been a stylized tree, and the only stylized tree associated with the temple was the menorah, the tree of fire which was the tree of life, and therefore a symbol of the Lady who was being removed.  This menorah was remembered as the true menorah.  There was a seven branched lamp in the second temple--it is depicted on the arch of Titus among the loot from the temple which was taken to Rome--yet peo…