IRONY

The countless people wishing for snow… They got it.  And then some.  A foot of it.

IMG_2610 I must confess to being among those people.  And while I was gladdened by its appearance, it had some unwelcome side effects.

  • Monday: my choir’s annual Valentines’ Day Cabaret: postponed to March.
  • Saturday: the restaurant where my brother cooks and at which we planned to eat: closed.
  • Sunday: piano recital: postponed to next week.

Not to mention schools being closed and the road conditions.  We’re not used to this much white stuff. But the irony is that practically all the reasons my grandparents came into town for the week did not happen.  No Cabaret, no piano recital, no restaurant.  I suppose the moral is be careful what you wish for. However, ever the optimist, I maintain it was still lovely to see them.  And the sledding was pretty awesome.  (I set a personal distance record.  😀 ) So, consider this an official announcement: due to inclement weather, I have decided to postpone my birthday until March.  (Do I have to pick a day?  Oh fine then… how ’bout the 18th.)  Thus, last week has been entirely, officially, and totally canceled.  It never happened.

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Two more things I must add:

  1. My posts may be scarce and I may be slow in responding to your comments.  I’m trying to avoid the internet as much as possible for Lent.  (And I will write something about that at a later date.)  Thank you for your patience.
  2. You must watch this video.  It has joined David, I’ve Got Cake as one of the two videos I could literally watch over and over and over and over again and not get sick of and still laugh at.

Stay warm, folks.  God bless.

Not Frodo. Not Frodo at all.

It happened on a typical lazy afternoon just before Christmas.  My sister and I were sitting on the couch, chatting (about what I cannot remember) when we heard the car pull up in the driveway.  Our cat Frodo, whose likeness I have taken as my avatar, was out of his food and she had gone to pick up some more.

The door opened and Mom entered the house, carrying in her arms a gray cat.  “Frodo?”  I wondered.  “How did he get out?  How long has he been out there?”   Then the cat swiveled its head around toward us, and I saw its face.

That wasn’t Frodo.  I looked at Mom’s face, and by the sheepish grin I saw there, I knew exactly what had happened.

“Mom?” I said.

“Mom…” a little more seriously.

“Mom!”  I demanded an explanation while simultaneously grinning myself, along with Sarah and Mom.

Every time Mom goes to pick up Frodo’s food at the vet’s office, she stops by to see all the cats that are up for adoption.  Usually, she says, she can pet them and then walk away.  However, this one seemed to have struck her with its personality, sweetness, and the fact that she cried when Mom walked away from the cage.

“I honestly don’t know why I did it,” she said.  “I was just so drawn to her.

“And she’s so sweet.”

Sweet, she indeed is, though at the time, she refused to let anyone pet her because she was much too busy exploring every nook and cranny of the house.

Down the hall, Dad walked by carrying a basket of laundry.  He didn’t seem to notice the fact that the gray cat Mom was holding wasn’t the one we already had, but he must have noticed the odd way in which we all grinned at him, because he came back into the dining room a minute later.

“Who in the world is THIS?” he exclaimed with a chuckle.

“Are we actually going to keep her?” Sarah asked.

“I guess so,” said Dad.  “That’s how they all started.”

“How could you say no to a face like that?” Mom remarked.  She added that if it didn’t work out, the vet’s office would let us take her back.

Somehow I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

We eventually decided on the name Matilda, after the Roald Dahl character of the same name.  So, Matilda whom all the vet techs had to come say goodbye to, Matilda who climbs wildly over everything despite having one leg shorter than the other due to a car accident, Matilda fast asleep in the recliner next to me, welcome to the family.  Welcome to the zoo.

© 2014
© 2014

This Is What We Call Blogging ADD

 

November!!!  What the heck?  Who left the calendar on?  It’s supposed to be October still.

So yeah.  Yesterday was Halloween, and my WordPress Reader was filled with Halloween-themed posts from poetry to pictures of horrible costumes no one must buy.  Perhaps some would say I’m too old for trick-or-treating, but I went, mainly for the sake of keeping Halloween alive in our neighborhood which doesn’t have a lot of young children in it.  Surprisingly, however, we had an ALL TIME RECORD OF SIX TRICK-OR-TREATERS THIS YEAR.  *happy dance*

So yeah, I wandered out into the darkness and while I was strolling along to the top of the hill where our former neighbors now live, I looked upwards at the clouds.  It’s funny when thoughts strike you at random quite moments like that.  If you think about it, clouds at night are really a good analogy for showing how simple and necessary it is for anyone to have faith.  Even atheists.  On a clear night, you can see the stars.  On a cloudy night, you can’t.  But that doesn’t mean the stars aren’t there.  That would be horrible and hopeless.  We still have faith that the stars are shining; no one denies that they are.  End analogy.  *bows*  Then you can start to notice that while the clouds aren’t as magical as the stars, they can be pretty too.

According to tradition, I chose a particularly quiet moment with few street lamps and let out a series of maniacal laughs.  *grins*

When I got home, I found that my sister and her friend (who didn’t feel like venturing out in the drizzle) had started watching The Corpse Bride without me.  We always visit them or have them come visit us on Friday, and it just so happened to be Halloween this time, so we carved pumpkins.  Behold:

So we finished the movie.  A definite Halloween favorite.  And hey, since it was only yesterday, you can still watch Halloween movies tonight, right?  If you’re looking for ideas, our two classics are The Nightmare Before Christmas and Young Frankenstein.  And this morning we watched The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which is a wonderful old film.  Not exactly scary, but it does have a ghost in it.  *shrugs*

But today, today is the day of which All Hallows’ Eve but hints.  In contemporary English, we say All Saints’ Day.  Hoorah!  So here’s to celebrating all the saints, both known and unknown but to God, and all people who live their lives as an example of God’s love to the world.  *raises glass in toast*  (To all bookworms: if you’ve never read St. Thérèse of Liseux’s autobiography Story of a Soul, I encourage you to do so.  It’s an awesome book.)  All Saints’ Day means that all parishioners arise/fall out of bed in time to make it to church for nine o’clock Mass in celebration.  And afterwards some of my friends started throwing snowballs at each other, which is fun too.

Oh yes, and that’s the other thing.  IT SNOWED.  Like, holy Fazoli’s, I guess it was forecast, but it’s still a surprise to see the ground covered with half an inch of the stuff.  ‘Twas pretty.  I’m not quite tired of staring at the great tree over at the community college that has been blazing scarlet lately, but I swear, the beauty of snow…

Stay warm, everyone.  Happy Halloween and All Saints’ Day!  I wish you whatever sort of weather you might enjoy.  Thanks for reading this ramble, unfocused as it has been.  Bye!

Weekend

Weekend.  The week ends, as it always does.  On occasion though, it can sometimes seem as though the week is just beginning.  I must say, for myself it has been a crazy one.  But I think there are lessons to be learned from it.

The story begins on Thursday night, as I sat in the basement with all the lights off listening to Jars of Clay and wondering where sanity went.  My schedule is a mess.  My room is a mess.  Deadlines loom ever taller like some sort of annoying breed of giants.  And I wasn’t sure when I would get a moment to journal or collect my thoughts.  It’s not like I’m a victim of anyone but me; I manage my time for better or for worse after all.  Still, it gets quite easy to feel down, and unclear how to feel otherwise.

That is why I feel quite undeserving about the weekend that resulted.  Friday evening I guest accompanied two songs for a fundraiser/concert at my church with our choir director as soloist.  It went very well, and was a very enjoyable concert in general.  And I had fun, despite the fact that said choir director sort of drafted me into singing “Panis Angelicus” as a duet just that morning.  And everyone was very kind and supportive of the whole affair, though I was still worried about the fact that Saturday was to be completely consumed with events quite unconstructive to studying history.

Saturday I took the SAT, which was long, but intensive thinking is good exercise I think.  Then we drove 50 minutes to the City of One Way Streets where my sister was singing in a concert there for another choir.  And it really was a nice afternoon, with myself, Dad, and Sis (Mom was out of town), shoving off from the College of the Magnificent Auditorium around 3:30, and wondering what to do for four hours before the concert.  The logical choice was to hit Book-A-Million for the next hour and a half, though we didn’t end up buying anything.

We just wasted an hour and a half.

Calm down, Luke, you didn’t waste it if you were with your father and sister.

After dinner, the majority vote was to visit Starbucks.  I’ve only ever been to Starbucks twice, but it has proven itself a neat place both times.  And I was overjoyed that the guy at the counter made a Star Wars reference using my name that wasn’t the same somewhat annoying one every one else has ever made.  (Random strangers seem to think I will believe that they are my father if they tell me so, including women.  I never thought I looked that gullible.)  So him saying “may the Force be with you” was probably the highlight of my day.

So then was the concert.  It was with an orchestra, and it was wonderful.  The pinnacle was that they were performing Holst’s The Planets, which I have never heard live.  And the choir came in on the last movement and was very ethereal and mysterious and floaty.  And I quite lost myself in the piece.  It was harder than usual, with my English paper popping into my head frequently at the beginning, but by the end, it was all music.

Saturday night I don’t think the coffee had quite worn off by the time I got to bed.  It was hard to get to sleep, and the worry was at least as bad as on Thursday, though momentary.  Why?  I’d just been to two awesome concerts in the same number of days.

It was listening to stupid, depressing old Death Cab for Cutie on the way home.

No it wasn’t.  Death Cab is melancholy.  Not depressing.  *sigh*  And for heaven’s sake, internet, THEY’RE NOT EMO.  Not really.  If at all rarely.

It’s because you wasted all of Saturday.

Is it?

Sunday was the Day of the Lord in more ways than just going to Mass.  In the afternoon we drove nearly two hours to the city of Christiansburg (how appositely named) where Mom had been helping to lead a spritual retreat over the weekend.  At the end of these retreats, there’s always a small celebration for the retreatants, and it was so amazing to see how on fire they were, how much the weekend had inspired them.  It was inspiring to see here, proof of God’s love, earlier that day in the sacrament of the Eucharist, later that afternoon in fellowship and joy in the fact that God loves us.  Like, the one who created the universe and has granted us life also loves us and will save us from death no matter how many times we may fail Him.  HOW COOL IS THAT?

And in the evening as well, just the four of us, a family, together again at Cracker Barrel.  I rode with Dad to the restaurant, and then abandoned him to ride home with Mom.  Because it’s nice to talk to one’s mother again after 72 long hours.  We rode onwards,  and I managed to only occasionally upset Sis with my choice of music.  (Hey, I was riding shotgun.  And I didn’t play any Switchfoot.  Give me some credit here.)

So, did I get much work done on my 1500 word history paper with 8 sources, my much shorter English paper, or review for midterms in three different classes?  No.  But was there much I could do about it?  Was I a prisoner?

No.  I was only as much a prisoner as I let myself be.  This weekend was a gift from God.  There wasn’t anything I could do about it, but sulking through it and losing sleep (beyond that lost via coffee) would have been pointless.  It wouldn’t have granted me any more time.  So, I did what I could.  I accepted the fact, and tried to let it be a blessing.  And it was.  It was.

That’s the lesson I think.  Sometimes you can’t stop bad things happening.  And sometimes you can’t stop good things happening either.  But no matter what happens, trust God and let His will be done.  Whatever happens happens for a reason, and He is looking out for you.  Everything will turn out in the end.

Now, back to that history paper…

Episode 1 – Why We Sing

30 July

6:30 am.  My alarm clock awakened me as it faithfully did every morning.  This was, however, no ordinary morning.  This was Monday, July 30, 2014 A.D. and I knew it.  Blearily, I silenced the jangling timepiece and paused to gaze out of the window for the last time.  Not the last time ever, but as I grabbed my suitcase and heaved it upstairs, I knew it would be over a fortnight before I slept in my own bed again.

I was about to do something incredible.  In a day, I was going to sail across the sky, through clouds and over the Atlantic, to what is nearly a whole different world.

Before I go on: my plans for this blog/vlog project went through several stages before arriving at the form I think best and most feasible for it.  I actually made one episode of the full-on vlog before deciding to meld the two forms.  I think it does any necessary introduction concisely, so I revised it some, and here ya go, peoples of the interwebs; you shall hear my voice.

Don’t you just love the ending?  Mwahaha.  And by the way, if you didn’t watch the credits, go back and watch them please.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when people don’t; staying through the credits is a gesture of respect to everyone who worked on whatever it is you are watching.  But then, in this case, that’s just me, and the amazing Kevin MacLeod, who doesn’t know I exist as far as I can tell, so I guess I’m fine with you skipping them.  They have cool music though.

There’s much more to come, folks.  Stay tuned…

-P.L.M.

Prologue

18 August 2014

I’d almost call it a hole in the wall, oddly nestled between a graveyard and some abandoned warehouses, a charming place to stumble upon.  Except, we had decided not to stumble upon it; such risks do not always pan out here like they do in Greece.  You could end up with something you wouldn’t want to feed to anyone or anything.  Except a landfill.

That was the strongest it had been since we had gotten home.  That feeling of quiet yet omnipresent excitement, that something was happening, that the scenery was alive in ways you’d suddenly notice but never be able to pinpoint.  That you weren’t in Kansas any more.  Call it nostalgia, and you’re almost right.  Almost.

I guess it was the ambiance.  I don’t know why it made me feel like I was in Greece again, it just did.  It was a Greek restaurant after all, even if you can’t get the same caliber of ingredients here.  Even if there was lettuce in the Greek salad and the prices were perfectly shaved to the nearest 95 cent mark, sales tax not included.

But it made me happy.  And it made me miss Greece, because there really is no other place quite like it.  And it made me remember that I had rather promised to write about my more fascinating experiences on the Aegean, though mere words can never express anything perfectly.

I suppose when I returned to the land of my birth and citizenship, I was afraid of holding on to closely to the trip, as though it was some childish toy I would be ridiculed for keeping.  Life had to press on, to return to normal, and I knew this.  It’s simply true.  But the whole thing was meant to be fantastically unforgettable, to change our lives.  Because it wasn’t just a cruise.  It wasn’t merely the highlights of the country, compiled for tourists.  It was more than that.

It was music and laughter and fellowship.  It was meeting dozens of amazing and talented people.  It was village life, and exploring the rugged and windy coastline.  It was finding time between rehearsals and concerts to leap from a cliff into the Aegean sea.

It was noise and celebration, the band of friends, and post-concert silliness.

It was silence and the roll of the sea, and small conversations, and awe.

So this is for me, and for you, and for everyone.  Sort of like one last souvenir.  One last wave goodbye before the plane departs.  Destination: future.  Passengers: everyone.  And in some small way, I’m a different person today than I would have been if the trip had never happened.  For that, I am truly grateful.

IMG_1894
© 2014

Dirt

As the sun slowly faded behind its curtain of trees and power lines, I dragged the nasty old thing up the hill, frightening some chickens as I did so.  We let them out in the evening when the weather is nice, which they love.  But we also have three that are in permanent exile for the heinous crime of eating their own eggs.  Their new home is the Tiny Abandoned Patch of Corn, an adequately shaded enclosure safe from predators.

They needed shelter though, as it had been raining a lot recently, and that is why I had brought them the old crate we retrieved from its spot in the woods.  It was made for a dog I think, but it works quite well for three chickens to sleep in.

“Now, what this is is nothing to be afraid of,” I told them as they fled from my approach.  “What this is is a place of hope, a chicken paradise.  It is a place where dreams come true.  It is what every chicken dreams of having.  It is beyond all description, and it is certainly not something to run away from.”

I chuckled inwardly at my own exaggeration.  But then I realized, I rather had stumbled upon an interesting point there.

You see, it really was disgusting when we dug it out from where it had sat, full of mud and standing water.  But it was still a crate, and it was still useful.  Despite its appearance, it had value.  All it needed was a bit of cleaning up and some straw to become something that the chickens would appreciate, if they were capable of such feeling.

And yes, it was covered in mud.  It was dirty.  But what is dirt?  Is it beautiful?  Absolutely, if you think about it, dirt gives most plants the ability to grow, to stretch their roots and expand.  I mean, no flowers, no vegetables or grain; where in the world would we be without dirt?

It’s an analogy folks, and I love analogies.  “Not everything that glitters is gold,” goes the old and well-known saying.  But not everything that’s dirty is worthless.  There’s a lot of dirt in this world.  If it were the case that all that dirt rendered us worthless, we might as well just call it a day and throw in the towel.  But we don’t.  We keep on keeping on, and laughing, and loving.  And if you look for them, miracles happen in the most imperfect places.

It’s food for thought.