Saturday, August 30, 2008

St. Louis

Alas, I am late again! The Feast of our city's patron, St. Louis, was this Monday (the 25th), and I was so caught up in the Jam and school that I had not time to post. (The last post says it was posted on the 25th, but it was really finished today!) So here is the poem I wrote last year on the same Feast.

A lesson by his mother taught
He kept his heart within;
"I'd rather see you dead, my son,
Than stained by mortal sin."

He ruled his folk with justice, and
When there was need of aid,
He pinned the Cross upon his cloak
And went on a Crusade.

He fought with valor for Our Lord
To save the Holy Land;
He led his men, unstintingly,
His sword aloft in hand,

And when from illness he began
To falter and to faint,
He died a very holy death
And went to be a saint.

O Louis, gallant, holy knight,
Guard us we pray to thee,
That we may join you, praising God,
In heaven eternally.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jam Session Two!

The wonderful weekend of Jam Session II began with the arrival of all the Texans on Friday. At three o'clock sharp, the time ere this agreed upon, Stephanie, Lucia, Rocio, Michelle and I got to the church and found Bobby Murphy, Joe Dugas, and Sam and Aly Sentmanat waiting for us on the sidewalk. Father Stanich, it seemed, had walked to Union Station with Bibiana and Domenico Gattozzi, Heather Dunsheath, Catherine Warrington and Heather's cousin Rolf; and they were, of course so tired that they had decided to call and have someone go from the rectory to pick them up! It was about half-past three that we finally headed up into the choirloft and, from joy (and a good bit of show-off-iness, I confess!), I sat down at the organ and gave them a thunderous rendition of the Toccata in D Minor. Then we began to sing, and we practiced Vittoria's Missa: O Magnum Mysterium and Kodaly's Ave Maria until the church began to fill for the six-thirty High Mass of the Immaculate Heart. Father Soos had not been feeling well, so it was Father Young that came in to say Mass to the triumphant music of Dunstable's Agincourt Hymn. The schola was the finest we've had since I forget when; Sam, Father Stanich, Dom, Joe, Bobby, Conrad Griego and Brother Gregory shook the church with the rich sound of their voices... Adeamus cum fiducia ad thronum gratiae! I felt ready to fly up into heaven indeed. After Mass we had a pizza party downstairs, and then the music began again! My voice was not in good shape so I only sang once, when Father Stanich requested the Habanera from Carmen; the rest of the time I accompanied the others. Sam had his violin out and so did Bibi, and I played the recorder when I wasn't playing the piano, and we had the rafters ringing. It was about eleven by the time we got home with all the girls and past midnight when we got to bed, after having some hot tea to soothe our tired voices!

Saturday was insane; we got up at seven and so many of us still had to shower (it's insane to have nine girls and one bathroom with a working shower!) that we were late to eight o'clock Mass! We had a pleasant breakfast afterward in the rectory and Lucia wore her new T-shirt of Ignacio's design, "Real Men Sing Square Notes;" the general reaction was very funny and Sam, another hard-core chant-lover, insisted on having one. Ignacio agreed to let him. Then we went back up into the church and -- guess what? -- we sang some more! The Mass was really coming together now and though I rested my weakened voice much of the time the choir never seemed to miss it, which I was very glad of. After a delicious lunch in the rectory we went to the basement and played the piano and fiddles for a while before we all piled into our cars (the girls with Father Stanich in the fifteen-seater, the boys in two or three smaller cars) and headed for the New Cathedral. Father Stanich gave us a guided tour and talked about the magnificent mosaics (our New Cathedral has the largest mosaic collection in the world.) Unfortunately when the original designer died his son took over the unfinished Cathedral and the two vaults on either side of the nave are modern and ugly, as well as a couple of mosaics farther back. As we came round behind the high altar I saw a couple of men by the organ and asked if I could play it (it's an incredible instrument!) but they said no. However, when Father Stanich asked if we could sing, one said, "Sure! Why don't you go out in front of the altar and sing up into the dome - that's where you get the best acoustics." It was unbelievable - we sang the Kyrie and Gloria of the Mass and I was dying to sing the rest, but Father warned, "Let's not push our luck." So we scattered and then rejoined to go to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the Chapel of the Holy Souls, then went out and took some group pictures in front of the Cathedral before piling back into the cars and heading for the school. On the way Father Stanich took our van-load of girls to see the statue of St. Louis in front of the Art Museum; then we went to join the others at QHR for a conference on Gregorian chant courtesy of Father Stanich, followed by the Rosary, before the barbecue, courtesy of Dad. It was a blast! We did our parody-of-Much-Ado-About-Nothing; it was a disaster, but fun! And afterwards we built a big bonfire on the field and played and danced in the firelight.

Sunday was the best of all; we sang the High Mass flawlessly, and I took over the organ and had the time of my life when we needed interludes, playing Bach, Dubois, and improvising, as well as joining Bibiana and Sam (violins) and Billy (at the organ) on my recorder to play Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring at Communion. After Mass I knelt down to say my thanksgiving as Bibi and Sam joined Dom at the organ for a Bach Double Concerto - gorgeous! - and all I got out was "Thank you, dear Lord," before I found myself sobbing for no reason at all. Then I went down to the church door with Father Stanich, but we were soon separated in the crowd and I just talked to all my friends and introduced them to the Texans, and we got all sorts of compliments on the Mass and the motets. We ate sandwiches in the basement for lunch, and then I went to the piano and Bibiana got out her violin and we performed Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Major. It turned out very well and the parishioners liked it, to judge by the applause. About one-thirty we split into our various cars and drove to Mexico, Missouri, our sister mission-parish, to sing High Mass Number Three this weekend! The chapel is so small that we sang from the vestibule; the voices fairly shook the room. And afterwards we had a really fun potluck dinner in the parish hall, and at one point in the music-making Sam Sentmanat took over the keyboard (on drum setting!) for a hilarious few minutes of jamming out! Heather made a video of it: - it's really noisy, because the parish hall was jammed and everyone was talking at once, but you get the idea...

We got back into St. Louis about nine and headed over to the Flanerys' house for a surprise serenade of Mrs. Flanery, our parish secretary, poetess, actress and mother-of-ten; but alas, Father Young had given away the surprise and so the joke was on us -- the kids met us with cans of silly-string! Father Stanich, who was in the lead, got the worst of it -- I nearly fell down the porch steps trying to escape it, and I didn't see how many of the others got hit; but we all crowded into the house and discovered that Mrs. Flanery wasn't even home, since she and Mr. Flanery had gone to dinner at the house of another parishioner. Father Stanich promptly called to insist they come home, and somehow managed to convince them! So in a few minutes they came in, and we waited for the boys, who had still not arrived... and suddenly there was an explosion of music and in through the front door came Ignacio with his guitar and Sam with his fiddle, playing for all they were worth. We greeted them with cheers and applause and they played on and on; it must have been a full ten minutes before they cut off the last reel. Then Father Stanich, who was in dramatic mode tonight, called for silence and, going down on one knee (much to her dismay!) sang the parody of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" that I had written for Mrs. Flanery, to the accompaniment of Bibiana's violin. She loved it. We went out on the back porch and someone produced some immense cigars, and there was drink and smoke and music until nearly midnight (Ecclesiasticus forgot to mention the tobacco when he said, "Music and wine make glad the heart of man!") At last, however, we bade farewell (we had another eight o'clock Mass to get up for the next day! Ah, me!) and all went home to our houses, hotels and rectories...

Monday being the Feast of Saint Louis, we sang the Missa: O Magnum Mysterium one last time at the eight-o-clock High Mass, as well as Arcadelt's Ave Maria and Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus at Communion. While the choir went downstairs to receive Communion (they always go first), I played Jesu, Joy again, at Father's request, and then went down while the schola sang the Proper. The whole Mass was wonderful! Then we were served a hot breakfast downstairs, and we talked and talked, and of course there was more music, and then Father called for silence for some Announcements! The first was that Jam Session III will probably be in Albuquerque, in Conrad Griego's parish, around Christmastide; and the second (which I had known, but the others hadn't), was that Jam Session 2010 will be in no lesser place than... the Eternal City! I really hope we can all manage to go... I will have to study my Italian very hard indeed! After the announcement I quickly composed a poem and made all the Jammers sign a Spiritual Bouquet for Father Stanich, and gave it to him before I had to leave (all too soon!) for college, for this was also the first day of school. Theory and choir were fun but oh, how I wished I could have been with the others for the trip to Ted Drewes' (ah, St. Louis ice cream!), and the hilarious "group therapy" session everyone told me of later, with Rocio as the "psychologist" with Bobby Murphy's glasses! Ah, well... duty called, and there will be other "therapy sessions" at upcoming jams, promises the psychologist... ah, I love starting traditions!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another poem!

Being home seems to have inspired me more than my travels! I was not very poetic then, but I came up with a new one today as Michelle and I rode home from school. So I present...

The Cyclists' Prayer

The whirling pedals send us
Swiftly down the street;
Our hair in wind is lifting,
In the August heat;

And as we reach the hilltop and
Go spinning down once more,
We look up at the endless sky
That spreads the city o'er,

And lift our voices in a prayer
To Him who lives above it,
To thank Him for inventing
The bike - oh, how we love it!

For giving us a steady hand
And steady eye, that we
May stay upon the sidewalk,
Not run into a tree,

We thank you, dearest Savior;
And for our lungs, as well;
For having lungs to breathe with
Is really pretty swell.

We thank you for strong legs, Lord,
And thank you for our feet;
And for our youth and humor,
Which make our bike rides sweet.

O Christ, who didst create us
And give us strength, today
Protect us as we fly along,
And aid us on our way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prayer to Jesus Crucified

I wrote this last summer -- almost exactly a year ago -- at the Benedictine convent of Notre Dame de Toute Confiance in Lamaire, France; and since, of course, I didn't have a computer there, I don't believe I have posted it yet. Here, then, I present my little prayer.

Lest we fail and lest we fall,
Christ Jesu, be with us all.
Lest we fall and lest we fail,
Thou wast torn by scourge and nail.
Lest we die and damned be
Thou didst die upon the Tree;
Then, O Lord, Who suffered thus,
Have Thou mercy upon us.

That we rise to Heaven high,
Thou wast raised on rood to die.
Never let the foe prevail,
Lest we fall and lest we fail!
Blessed Lord that died on rood,
Bless us - bathe us in Thy Blood;
Jesu, lend Thy aid we pray,
That we gain Thy side someday.

By Thy wounds so deep and wide
Spare us, Jesu Crucified!
Thou wast torn by scourge and nail
Lest we fall and lest we fail;
Lest we fail and lest we fall,
Christ Jesu, be with us all!

-- Aug. 26, 2007

Monday, August 11, 2008

Guess Who?

I really just want a new profile picture, but since it's here I challenge everyone (not Ines) to guess who this is and why I picked her. And for bonus points, to connect her to the boy scouts through a rather short chain of associations.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mar del Plata and Buenos Aires

Our three days in Mar del Plata were very enjoyable. The first day was cold and grey, but we walked down by the sea to look at the waves, and went up the pedestrian street... mall, might be the word... to look in at shop windows. When we reached the Cathedral we went in to look; it has beautiful stained glass windows and a fine altar. From there we went down to a park where we rented some double bikes (side-by-side, not two-seated) and rode around playing tag. By now we were tired so we went back to the apartment, where we talked and read and so on till dinner.

Day two we went down to the harbor, where we walked down the southern breakwater, past the sea-lion preserve (the smell is incredible!) and then drove back to board the boat that took us on a cruise out across the city, so we could see the whole place from the sea. I enjoyed looking at the waves and watching the few brave wind-surfers who were out there, despite its being winter! Back on shore, we went to the fishing-boats' landing and looked around for a bit, then drove back toward the city, where we went shopping for a sweater for Lucia's birthday present before going back home.

Wednesday we got up late and packed everything into the cars. Before leaving Mar del Plata we went to the Barrio de los Troncos, where the beautiful big log house for which the neighborhood is named, was for sale... ah, to be rich! Then we drove to Santa Clara del Mar, where we parked by the beach and went down to play in the sand for a while. In a minute I had my shoes and stockings off and was knee-deep in freezing grey-green Atlantic, running straight into the waves as they came. By the time we had to go back to the cars my skirt was drenched from hem to knees (though I had gathered it up) and smelled of seawater all the way home, but hey, it was worth it.

Thursday we went to a hands-on science museum called Prohibido No Tocar - very fun. They had a room with explanations of radar and LED's and so on, and little screens with games that applied each technology; the sound room, with all kinds of things; a room on food, calories and bacteria and so on; some optical illusions and gravity games; and a math room I didn't have time to see. There was one more room with mirrors-and-light experiments or something, I think, but I didn't see that one either, since I had stopped to see the presentation on static electricity with a Van de Graaf generator, which was very nice. Then we walked about twenty blocks extra before we found our way to Tia Uki's house, where we had tea with the cousins and spent the rest of the afternoon talking about our trip and calling home before we girls went to the Arbeletche grandparents' ten blocks away to spend the night.

The next day we went to three museums: the Automobile Museum, with all kinds of awesome old cars including a Ferrari; the Museum of Decorative Arts, where there was a wonderful exposition of statues by Rodin and other contemporary artists, including, of course, the famous Thinker; and last to the Museum of Fine Arts, where there were a couple of paintings by Goya, among others, many really lovely. I have the bad habit of forgetting who painted the ones I liked! The top floor had an exposition of Argentinian art as well as some Cubism, which I simply skipped. That evening we all had dinner at Coco and Bibi's apartment, and afterwards Tio Alberto played some hilarious songs by Les Luthiers, a very popular comedy group, on the guitar, and we sang zambas as well.

Saturday we spent the day at Paco and Yaya's with all the other de Erausquin cousins; not a very eventful day, just fun and more or less restful. I taught Tio Alvaro the chords to Lucia's birthday song and he had me write an introduction, which came out okay. Then Rocio and Ignacio went to spend the night with Santiago and Gaspar, and Lu and I went with Coco to Tia Emi's house, where we told them about our trip and heard about their trip to Cordoba during dinner.

Sunday was not particularly eventful either, just... a day of rest, you could say. We went to Mass at the SSPX novitiate nearby and I have to confess I melted into tears at the music; it was the first High Mass we had been to all this trip and it made me feel so at home and happy I had to cry. Monday we also spent the day at home, and there was a terrific storm in the afternoon; but today, since Ignacio and Rocio came last night, we went to a zoo nearby called "Temaiken". It's very well set up and nice, with everything from the usual hippos and zebras to a large aquarium with the 200-year-old skeleton of a blue whale and a glass building with the biggest bats I ever saw! We spent a very pleasant afternoon there with four-year-old Ines, my namesake, and then came back home.

It's hard to believe there are only four days left, not counting what's left of today... Time goes fast when you're having fun!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lucia's Birthday...

was the 31st! We got up about 8:30 and drove out into the mountains again, only this time we went north. This trip encompassed the Quebrada de Humahuaca. The first stop was the little old town of Purmamarca, which had unfortunately become rather a tourist trap since the last time Tio Juancho had been there; the main square was full of tables with all sorts of things to sell. We wanted to go into the church, but it was being mended or something so we couldn't. We did do a bit of shopping, though!

We had a delightful picnic by the Rio Grande, which was ice cold (we sat on the little board bridge and dangled bare feet in the rushing water), and Ignacio stood on the shore and soaked us with big rocks! We all wanted to kill him, but he ran away over the rocky ground too fast for us to catch up... After lunch we drove on to Humahuaca, which is a beautiful old place. We climbed up the monument to those who fought for freedom, looked at the gorgeous Hill of the Seven Colors and took lots of pictures, and went on a mission to find a bombo which ended up failing because we couldn't find one within our price range or of a transportable size. On the long drive home we stopped at the big salt plain, where there must have been a sea a long time ago; the building of the small outpost was built of salt too! When we got home, we headed out to look for a peña, a restaurant where people get together to play traditional music. Most now just have a show; but we ended up (about 11 at night!) finding one where we ate locro, the traditional stew, and the guitarist asked somebody to come up onstage and sing! So Tia Coty shoved me out of my chair and I obliged with the popular Zamba de mi Esperanza. Ignacio went later, and sang a chacarera. At the very end (after they sang Happy Birthday, in case of any birthdays -- there was another gentleman, besides Lucia,) I went and asked the guitarist if he could follow me in the chacarera Lucia had requested for a birthday gift. I forgot the words then from pure nervousness, but here they are now:

Rosa de Luz
Mi hermana pa' su cumpleaños
Me ha pedido chacarera,
No soy gran compositora
Pero venga la primera.

Se llama Lucia Rosa,
Luce rosa florecida;
El capullo de mi canto
Florece para Lucia.

Chacarera, chacarera
Rosa 'e luz que florecio
Feliz cumpleaños Lucia
La primera termino.
Con trenzas de seda oscura
Y una voz de ruiseñores
Lucia pasa cantando
Una flor entre las flores.

A ser novia 'e Jesucristo
Se nos va a Nueva Zelanda
Y sin dejar de ser mia
De toditos sera hermana!

Chacarera, chacarera
Que ya esta por acabar
Feliz cumpleaños Lucia,
Y que cumplas muchos mas!

(I may be able to translate it, but Argentinian folklore doesn't lend itself to translation. We will see.)

Yesterday we just went on a picnic with the family and later went up the mountain where Our Lady has been appearing every Saturday to a lady of Salta called Maria Livia, under the invocation of Immaculate Mother of the Divine and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. The apparition is not as yet approved by the Church so I was a little uncertain, but I did get a chance to say my Rosary as we climbed up to the shrine, which is quite small and very pretty. The "no smoking" and "don't pick the plants" signs along the trail amused me quite a bit!

Today we got up pretty early for our flight back to Buenos Aires at 8 am. We got in about ten and are spending the day resting at Tia Uki(Lu's godmother)'s house. The next plan is to go to Mar del Plata tomorrow after Mass and stay there for three or four days with Tio Claudio, Tia Valeria, Gaspar, Alba and Carla.