Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An awesome sonnet

This one is not mine (would it were!) Rather, it is one written by the master of sonnetry (is that a word?), the great and only William Shakespeare, to his beloved at the harpsichord. Romantic that I am, I wish someone would write one like that to me someday... hey, a girl can dream, can't she?


How oft when thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap,
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand!
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more bless'd than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An adorable LOLcat...

My wonderful little sister Rocio C. just emailed me this LOLcat, which is perfect for me - a pianist often discouraged by small hands and, more recently, by the amazing brilliance of the kids at the piano camp I'm counselor for. They're all great young artists; the youngest is twelve, the oldest sixteen, and they play their hearts out and love it. This little picture boosted my spirits like nothing else. Gotta love lolcats. Enjoy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 12

Well, look at that. I finally remembered to do the Takes when it was Friday!

In the past couple of weeks we've discovered that not one but two of our Fathers are getting transferred... boohoo! Our good Father Trinh is off to Arcadia, CA, and Father Soos is headed for St. Mary's, Kansas, (unless something changes, which I'm still praying for. I'm afraid it's kind of a case of, "Thy Will be done, but can't you change your mind?" I'm rather terrible that way, I'm afraid...)

Well, the house is still not selling - actually, now that I think about it, we haven't had any showings this week. But we're keeping up the prayers and trusting the sale will happen when God wants it to.

I've been practicing the piano more this summer than any other of my life, and I'm thinking of doing my Junior Recital at the end of the fall semester. It should be fun. It looks, at this point, as if the program will be Beethoven's Sonata No. 1, in F Minor; Bach's Prelude and Fugue in G from WTC Vol. 1; and possibly, also, Chopin's wonderful Nocturne in C sharp Minor. I'm really looking forward to that and the concerto competition in November... fun, fun!

One more shameless plug for the new Blog: Come visit us!

Tomorrow, Feast of St. James of Compostela, two of our beloved Jammers (who met before the Jam, though,) will be united in Holy Matrimony in St. Mary's. Here's to Conrad and Erin; God bless them!

I managed to spend almost the whole afternoon playing the piano yesterday (or hearing it played,) as I was with one of my guy friends at the University, and we took turns playing for each other on the grands in Mr. Schene's room. It was wonderful! He showed me some very weird pieces he's thinking of playing for a service at the church where he'll be working in Chicago, (stuff by Ligeti and Stravinsky, completely lacking any real grace of melody or harmony,) and said he had to come up (for this weekend) with a couple of pieces related to the sermon topic, which was "The Nature of God and Evil in the World," or something similar. He showed me a pile of pieces and the one on top was Liszt's Pater Noster, which I'd never heard before. I said, "Well, with the deliver us from evil, the Pater Noster is perfect." He didn't understand until I began to recite the translation and he said, "Oh! It's the Lord's Prayer?" (It was funny... I guess it's obvious to me, but I found it amazing that not everyone knows that!) He agreed that it was indeed perfect and sight-read it for me - it's beautiful! After a fun afternoon of music and conversation, I headed off home on my bike and got caught in the rain, and so I rode home singing Mozart's Alleluia in the midst of splattering drops. It was a lot of fun, but I did make it home before the real storm hit. I do love storms! I guess it was a little bit crazy to go out riding in it, but I enjoyed singing and getting soaked...

I've been thinking... it's funny, being twenty. A lot of people have called me grown up and responsible lately; and I don't feel that way at all. I wonder if that's normal for twenty-year-olds. I guess I just have to try to live up to it. Being grown-up is hard! What happened to the days when all you had to worry about was coming inside for lunch and going to bed at a more or less decent hour?... Sigh.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

yet another update

direct quote from my Texas correspondent's last email:

Things are looking better for Marycatherine, and they are going to see if she can eat or drink yet. And she will be going home as soon as she can handle solid foods, and water. As well, Maryanna (Ed: big sister) will be going home today ( I believe ), for the time being until her final surgery.

Te Deum Laudamus... Let's keep the prayers up! And once again, thanks a lot to all who are praying!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update on the Accident

The latest news on my friends in Texas seem to be that little MaryCatherine will be going into surgery for her internal injuries; the doctors were waiting and monitoring, hoping to avoid it, but apparently it has to happen. Her big sister, however, is going home soon, in a wheelchair, and in a couple of weeks will return to the hospital for the final surgery on her ankles. Their brother is recovered... laus Deo.

Thanks to those who prayed, and please keep it up... God bless!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

St. Joseph Novena

We are in the process of making this novena to St. Joseph so the house showings go well and it sells soon. Any prayers are hugely appreciated!

O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A shock

I just found out this morning that three friends of mine in Texas - not Jammers, but very close friends of many of the Jammers - were in a terrible head-on collision two or three days ago. The oldest girl had both ankles so badly broken that they had to be set by surgery, but couldn't even be given morphine because the surgery was the next morning; so she passed one night in agony, poor creature. Her brother, a quiet, brilliant young musician, had his knees badly bruised and a slight concussion and could remember nothing of the morning before the accident. Their little sister, a child of ten, was hit worst - ruptured spleen and small intestine, damaged livers, punctured colon, and a broken collarbone. The poor little one could eat or drink nothing for three days, because the doctors didn't know whether surgery was even possible. From the account of the friend that gave me the news, she suffered heroically. Let me give it to you in his own words.
It is a pitiful, heart-moving sight to see her lay there in her hospital bed, very quiet, except the occasional " my stomach hurts", or " I wish I could drink." She's only 10 years old, very innocent little girl; I can't help but think, why her...

God works in strange ways to show us how small we are. My reaction, after the shock of horror, was a feeling of selfishness. My best friend is leaving for India early this morning - we said our farewells last night - and though I couldn't cry then, I was thinking I'd be really miserable today. And now, having woken up early and been hit by this news, I think, "and I thought I had it hard? Wow, I'm selfish." I had to echo my friend's wondering, "Why this innocent child -- why not me?"

Some relief came instantly as in an email sent an hour later the same friend told me that Maryanna, the older girl, is in much less pain; Carl, her brother, is also much better; and little Marycatherine is at least stable, if far from well.

Please pray that they all recover, and, as always, that God's Will be done.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Two Poems from the Texas Trip

Here are two poems written during the recent trip to Austin, to show that the Steel Lily's Poet-in-Residence has not been idle despite her vacation to faraway lands.

The first poem - a ballad, if you will - was written for the pianists of the Jam -- Billy, Domenico, Bibiana and me, and all the other piano-players.

Song of the Jam-Pianists.

Our hearts are strung with piano wire,
And when our fingers touch the keys,
Our being is engulfed in fire
Of light and love and great desire
For music's deepest mysteries;
Yet we would have not only these,
But long for glory that is higher.

And this desire for holy things
Is source of sweetest melody,
Sending it pulsing from the strings;
And rising on undaunted wings,
Sweet harmony with harmony
Blends, as the waters of the sea,
And sadly sobs or richly rings.

O music, heartbeat of our soul,
That rends our hearts and fills our eyes
With tears of pain or deepest dole,
Or strengthens us to reach the goal,
Or makes us laugh in glad surprise;
True gift of God thou art, and prize
To us, that makes our spirits whole!

Our music let us boldly raise
To Him that gave us Song and Love,
And as we lift our hymn of praise
Through all our nights and all our days
To Father, Son and holy Dove,
We pray that we, at last, above
The stars may sing more worthy lays.

--June 25, 2009.

As we drove toward the airport early in the morning, Albuquerque-bound, the sun was rising, a cirle of blazing red leaving bright streaks on a violet-tinged sky. For a moment I could look straight at it; but though I thought better of it in a moment, I remembered the picture and this sonnet took shape on the plane.

Austin Sunrise.

The sky is violet-blue, and easterly,
A glow of red and gold begins to rise -
A flame to dazzle all unwary eyes;
The day begins, the dark again must flee.
The frightened shadows turn and race away,
Not standing on their order of retreat,
Fleeing the dreaded light on silent feet,
While we with music greet the newborn day.

The day is young, as we; with merry heart
And soul, refreshed and rested, up we start,
To fill its time with actions good. No wrong,
God aiding us, will dim its golden light
Till, as it deepens into dark of night,
We end, as we began, with joyful song.

--June 26, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Blog is Born

Tonight, in the midst of an online conversation, a friend from Syracuse and I decided to start a new blog. Check it out. Its name is TradCats. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Sam from was kind enough to invite me to include a sonnet in his e-book collection Sonetti. So here is the book - enjoy all the wonderful work of my fellow-sonnetteers out there!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jam 3.9 and A Week in Austin

The Jam Sessions, which I may have mentioned before, seem to be dividing themselves into 'decimal jams' as well as the "real Jam Sessions," which are the x.0 Jams. If I haven't mentioned them, they may be defined thus, in dictionary form:

Jam Session, n. A gathering of young musical parishioners of SSPX chapels (see Jam-Sessioner), at which a pre-rehearsed polyphonic Mass is put together and performed, along with, random acts of music between rehearsals and keeping impossible hours. Hikes, bonfires and other such delightful activities may also be included.

(Jam Session 1.0 was in Dickinson, 2.0 in St. Louis, 3.0 in Dickinson again, and the Texans have managed to have a couple of decimal jams as well, culminating in Jam 3.9 the weekend of June 20-21. )

Well; let the tale be told! On Friday evening I arrived at little Hobby Airport in Houston and was picked up by the Emerson family. We promptly went out for ice cream and then went to their house, where I would stay that weekend. Despite the late hour, we spent a while enjoying videos of their traditional German Festival, and they attempted to teach me one of the dances.

The next morning after eight-o'-clock Mass, I was enthusiastically welcomed back to Texas by the Dickinson contingent of Jam-Sessioners, as well as Domenico and Bibiana Gattozzi, who had joined us from Austin. After a while of chatting, a small group of us went down to Denny's for breakfast. Dom and Bibi and I, Heather Dunsheath, Bobby Murphy, and the Emerson girls crowded around a table and chattered happily; and then Bobby, Dom and I, who had ridden together, dashed madly back to the church, for they were already late for chant practice. I played the piano in the parish hall for a while, then joined the others for choir practice, and we rehearsed the wonderful Missa: O Magnum Mysterium which we had performed with such success in St. Louis at Jam 2.0 last summer. Then we rehearsed a bit for the Bishop's concert in the parish hall, and Bibiana showed us a hilarious video of her recent graduation.

Surprisingly soon we were off to Theresa Abbey's house for her combination graduation-eighteenth birthday party; and it was in the car that Heather and Bibi gave me the shock of my life when they told me Father Stanich was going to be transferred to Syracuse, New York. The party swept it out of my mind, though; fortunately there was so much to do that there was no time to get miserable thinking about it. We chattered and laughed and ate and played Taboo and volleyball and kickball, and when the music began it didn't stop. Everything from Bach and Mozart to jazz and show-tunes rang from the piano, and it was nearly eleven when we cut the cake and Theresa opened the presents, and then we headed for home. Once again, I didn't get to sleep till past one. This was a bad thing, because with a concert to play the next day I needed all the sleep I could get! The fact that I woke up at six the next morning didn't exactly help...

The news of Father's transfer, officially announced at the early Mass, spread immediately and several of the girls gathering in the choirloft, myself included, dissolved in tears. But when the music started, I was lost in it at once and heartily enjoyed the lovely hymns we sang during the confirmation ceremony. The very first confirmand was Domenico, who also sponsored one of the Dickinson kids; and all told there were fifty-nine confirmands, so it took quite a while! It was nearly noon when Mass ended and we all crowded into the parish hall to find places, and we had a delicious lunch sitting quite near the stage where Father Stanich, Brother Gregory and Father Post flanked Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. I scribbled Domenico an impromptu acrostic for his confirmation, which he enjoyed, and we decided at the last minute to perform Summertime, rather than his original choice of Cole Porter's Ev'rything I Love, for the Bishop's concert that afternoon. Bibiana and I went to photocopy the programs I had designed for the occasion and then we spent the last little while before the projected recital reviewing our pieces one more time. The program was as follows:

  1. Antonio Vivaldi's Mandolin Concerto in C Major -- Father Stanich at the mandolin; Domenico and Bibiana, violins; Bobby Murphy, euphonium; and I (Inés) at the piano for the basso-continuo
  2. Scott Joplin's The Entertainer -- played by Catherine, another Jammer
  3. Giuseppe Giordani's Caro mio ben -- sung by Heather, with Bibi at the piano and Dom on violin
  4. Joaquin Turina's El Circo -- Bibiana at the piano (one of her senior recital pieces, and wonderfully done!)
  5. Beethoven's Sonatine for mandolin and piano -- Father Stanich and me
  6. Albert Pieczonka's Tarantelle in A Minor -- me
  7. Francesco Durante's Vergin tutto amor -- Heather, Bibi and Dom again
  8. Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata -- Bibi at the violin, me on the piano
  9. Beethoven's Adagio for mandolin and piano -- Father and me
  10. Gershwin's Summertime -- Domenico at the piano, me singing (his improvisation was wonderful to hear, as usual!)
  11. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in F, BWV 880 -- with me back at the piano, finished off the program.

To make the day even more awesome, I got to play the organ for Pontifical Benediction, and then His Excellency gave a wonderful talk about Archbishop Lefebvre and his vow of Romanitas. After that, the Gattozzis and I piled our things into their big car and headed homeward to Austin. It was a surprisingly short four hours. Dom, who had threatened to make me listen to hours of music during my stay, played me Schumann's melting Piano Concerto in A on the road, of which he had said to me, "If this doesn't reduce you to tears you have no soul." Unfortunately, as we were all talking at once, the effect was somewhat spoiled so he said, "You'll have to really listen to it at home." We got home about 12:30 and after a quick tour of the house and an introduction to their wonderful old grand (from Vienna, 1851!!!) we all crashed, dead tired from our long day.

On Monday Bibi had to go play a class at the Ballet Austin (she and Dom were recently recommended as rehearsal pianists by their former teacher, who is music director there.) So Mommy Gattozzi and I went to the beautiful state Capitol, which was built in 1888 and is a good bit taller than the Capitol in Washington, DC (because, as I often joked to the Gattozzis, in Texas everything is bigger and better!) I got to see the Senate and House chambers, took pictures by the statue of Stephen Austin and inside the dome, and admired the beautiful coats-of-arms inlaid on the floor of the rotunda, the "Six Flags of Texas". They represent Texas under Spain; Texas under France; Texas under Mexico; the Republic of Texas; Texas as one of the Confederate States of America; and last, Texas as one of the United States. After our little tour of the Capitol we went back to the Ballet to pick up Bibi, and met Dom for lunch at the Magnolia Café - he had been working on a violin he's making with the Italian luthier who always mends the violins for Dom and Bibi when they need it. Then we parted ways - Dom headed off to the ER where he volunteers (he wants to be a doctor, so he's getting some practical experience), and Bibi and I went shopping with their mother and then went home. We sight-read music and played some stuff we already knew, and then we piled into the car and headed for San Antonio, where we had decided to go to Mass that evening. It turned out that Bishop Tissier de Mallerais was confirming there that day, so I attended my first Pontifical Low Mass (all the others I've seen were High-Masses), and then we drove merrily home.

Tuesday: was another awesome day. I woke up and went with Dom to the violin shop, where we spent a delightful morning working on his violin. It was fascinating to watch him scrape at the curve of the instrument with meticulous care, getting both sides exactly alike. I was reading P. G. Wodehouse's hilarious A Damsel in Distress, but as I finished it quickly, speed-reader that I am, I went to stand and watch Dom. In a moment Sandro asked me, "Do you like working with your hands?" I answered, "Well, yes, I like sewing and embroidery…" at which he proudly showed me a new sewing machine he had just gotten, and remarked that he's had some trouble threading it, which made me laugh, because it's the same problem I always have. Then he gave me one of the bands of wood that would be the side of the violin, and I set to scraping it carefully so it would end up all the same thickness - just one millimeter! Before I knew it, it was one o'clock and Bibi was there to pick me up and take me home. We sight-read music and more music, and when Dom finally came home from the ER we had a merry dinner and then he vanished to work on his applications while Bibi and I did the dishes. Around eleven we called Dom, who had asked us to give him till then to work on his essays, and all went downstairs to have some ice cream. Then we came up and piled onto the floor in the master bedroom to watch The Philadelphia Story, a hilarious, delightful old movie starring that wonderful couple, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Unfortunately, we didn't finish it that night, but it gave us something to look forward to the next day.

Wednesday: I went with Bibi to UT, where she showed me the music building which has been her haunt for the past four years and will remain so for two more as she plunges into her Master's in musicology. I spent a happy hour in the practice room next to hers as she taught a lesson, and then we headed for home. We made a stop at Cavender's, which sells cowboy gear galore, and I came home richer by a very nice cowboy hat and belt which I promptly put on and came down to show Domenico and Mommy (I ended up calling the parents Mommy and Daddy, and they never minded it, so I may as well use the names here.) They were delighted with the effect and then, as Bibi had to go teach another lesson and her mother had errands to run, they left me chatting with Dom, who was sprawled on the sofa, exhausted from a late night and early morning. I offered him a game of chess (he had been his high school champion three years straight, so I knew I was going to lose) but he suggested that instead, we listen to some of the music he'd promised me.

So I dug out Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and put it on, curling up in the big armchair between the two speakers. He fell sound asleep before the end of the first movement (and accused himself of sacrilege for it later, haha), but I sat and listened, and ended up in tears. When he awoke with a start at the beginning of the second movement, berating himself for sleeping, I had to laugh through my tears as I asked, "So, do I have a soul, Dom?" He answered mock-solemnly, "You must." But I cheered up listening to Lalo's wonderful Symphonie Espagnole for violin and orchestra, and as we listened we played three or four matches of chess, until the ladies showed up and we had to set the table for dinner. That evening we played foosball - kids against parents - and got smashed, (the shame, the shame…) and then went to finish The Philadelphia Story, which is a really funny sweet story. I loved it.

Thursday: was the last day in Austin, and it was pretty full! Bibi and I did laundry and started packing, made photocopies of the piece we had composed for the Jammers, (words by yours truly, music by her, revised by both), and, of course, played music and more music - violin and piano, piano four-hands, and we even improvised counterpoint -- major FUN! We also picked out all the pieces we were going to take to Albuquerque (what musician travels without her scores?) In the afternoon we watched the Confederation Cup game between South Africa and Brazil (which, sadly, South Africa lost… those Brazilians play a pretty dirty game!) In the evening, we three youngsters went to the house of Bibi's astronomy professor, who hosts a chamber music group (members of the Association of Chamber Music Players, a worldwide organization.) It was like falling back into the Baroque days, sitting down to sight-read a piece by J.C. Bach on my recorder and then switching to a wonderful wooden alto recorder for a Corelli concerto-grosso, and finally taking the harpsichord for a Telemann "Tafel-musik" suite. It was amazing! Afterwards we had strawberry shortcake for our host's birthday, and between conversations I played bits of Bach on the harpsichord, which the host had built especially for these chamber-music reunions. It's a lovely instrument, and I had the time of my life. All too soon it was time to go home and finish getting ready - which ended up taking us till past one in the morning, with all the distractions we had, and how tired we were... And the next day, we got up at about six and headed off to Albuquerque for the real Jam!

Arghhhh... Life!

Life's so annoying. Here's the result.

I've broken every rule of sound and rhythm as we know 'em,
I can't write poetry worth squat (as you'll see from this poem.)

I can not draw, no, not at all! My singing's kind of iffy-
But baking, cooking, that's one thing I'll beat you at in a jiffy!

Now, I can dance, now that's for sure, My sewing is all right,
My hearing's good, I love the rain, I see real well at night,

I love adventures, need my space, and long to be a gypsy,
But home-sickness once in a while sets that plan sort of tipsy...

I long to be a teacher, psych, a doctor and a dancer:
I can't be all, so how does that help me get an answer???

How is all this stuff supossed to make no contradiction?
How can this all fit into a single job description?!?

Adults don't realize the pressure they put on ones so young
"What to be when you grow up?" should be enough to get one hung!

Our future, lovely future, which no one understands-
If you want to make God laugh, go and tell Him all your plans!

--Rocio de Erausquin
Thursday, July 2, 2009