Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bookshelf: More Christmas books

Some quick reviews of the Christmas books I've read so far:
  • The True History of Chocolate: (from my parents) I'm a chocolate freak (as we know), and I found this book on Amazon awhile back. The authors trace the history of chocolate from its roots in Middle America to the fashionable cafes of Europe to Hershey Park, as well as the evolution of chocolate and cacao from pods to drinks to solid bars. The book is well-researched, but shows a definite slant in opinion, so that made the book a bit irritating at time (for example, the authors always write "Columbus 'discovered' America", or some such thing.). But, if you're a foodie or a chocolate lover, it's a good book to read. 
  • The Sugarless Plum:A memoir by Zippora Karz, a New York City Ballet soloist who was diagnosed with diabetes at the height of her career. I found this book very interesting, since I love dance and I'm diabetic, and Karz addresses the problems faced by diabetics forthrightly and honestly. Although she was diagnosed in the 1980s (and a lot has changed since then), she also includes up-to-date materials. She retired from NYCB in 2002, and is now gives talk on diabetes and activity and is involved with diabetes awareness efforts. I found the book inspirational and informative, an excellent blend of dance and medicine--perfect for me!
  • St. Francis: (from my parents) a Continuation of my 2009 Patron Saint reading, this novel by the author of Zorba the Greek combines fact, legend, and fiction to create a stunning portrait of one of the most famous and beloved saints. Through the eyes of Brother Leo, a poor beggar and eventual confidante of Francis, Francis' dramatic conversion from wealthy Italian playboy to stigmatist saint is documented. A great read. 
  • The Annotated Christmas Carol : (from mom and dad) MUST have for any library. Dickens' classic story is supplemented with copious notes, a detailed introduction and full-color illustrations. All of the Norton Annotated's are worth having, but this might be my favorite. A really lovely and beautiful book. 
  • Film (from my brother): A guide to the top 100 movies, top directors, and foreign films. If you're a movie buff like me this is perfect for your library.
  • Speak: (Bryan again) A YA book my brother's 8th graders read (He's a middle school language arts teacher). I love YA lit, and I loved this well-written book. 
  • Giada's Kitchen: (also from Bryan) A new cookbook, because it's not Christmas without one. Still determining what to make first from it--so much looks good. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to read the Iliad

(Note: this is another in a series of posts from 43 Things

"Worth reading but time consuming"

How I did it: I was an English major in college, so reading the Iliad should've been something I did back then, but it wasn't. We read excerpts. So I decided to read the whole thing. It took me six months because I kept dipping in and out of it. But once I decided to really FINISH it, it took me about three days.

Lessons & tips: If you don't have any background in Greek mythology, it might be helpful to do some preliminary research, or get a copy with good notes, so you know who's who. I took a class on mythology and still found myself making family trees, etc. and notating in the margins.

Resources: I used the Robert Fagles Iliad, from Penguin classics. If you read this one, it really helps to be familiar with the Greek pantheon before you begin.
Also, a desire to FINISH is very helpful. It can be one of those big books that just sits around half-read if you don't really plow through it.

It took me 5 months.

It made me

KIds, con't...

More from the Pittsburgh trip:

Suze studies the world of rabbits.

Brothers. Aren't they adorable?

Me with Paige, the big sister of the boys above.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Photos from the Pittsburgh Trip:

Di and the Adorable Suze. Isn't she HUGE?! Last time we saw her, she looked like this....

(July '09 in Houston)
babies, stop growing! Stop it I say!

I got to share a room with Cindy Lou Who (I and Di. We had lots of fun, and Suze was wonderful.

For a Texas girl, she is well prepared for snow. She had mittens, a hat, and a big fluffy parka on top of this. She didn't really like the hat. It snowed 1-2" yesterday in the 'Burg.

At the family dinner--(L-R), Kelly, me and Carrie. Kelly is a sophomore at UM, and Carrie is a freshman at IUPUI. Carrie is studying graphic design and Kelly is a flute performance/music ed major.
I really, really love these guys.

My favorite, the Angel Baby, AKA Justin. Still has wonderfully curly hair, and a penchant for photography. He loves having his picture taken...


Is not real great about opening his eyes...

(above, Cousin Matt, almost 17; directly above with Big Brother Brendan, who is a total cutie.)

More pics to come...

Sunday, December 27, 2009


According to the Dispatch, Parade was one of the best theater events of '09. Go us!

Me with Quentin (Newt Lee) and Jennifer, our Stage Manager, before opening night.

The cast backstage: Jay (Dorsey), La Ron (Jim), Danea (Sally), Aaron H., and Jon (Leo)

I want to get a double lung transplant asap *--43 things note

Note: This is an entry I wrote for the "43 Things" site, where people list goals they have for life, the upcoming year, etc. This is someone's goal for this year, and I wrote about my experience. 

"The best experience of my life. "

How I did it: I was listed for a double lung transplant in May of 2005 after an evaluation at Nationwide Children's Hospital the previous March. I was twenty-three years old. I received my transplant on July 11, 2005.
How I did it isn't really relevant for transplant--you get listed, and you wait!

Lessons & tips: Be patient. It's so hard...I am the most impatient person in history. But you'll drive yourself crazy waiting for the phone to ring. Try to live as best you can without over thinking things. The call will come when it comes, and you can't hurry that.
A good support system is crucial--friends, family, etc. You need to be able to discuss important things and you need people that will help you pre and post surgery with the medical and PT regiments.

Resources: I had a great transplant coordinator, and good friends and family support, so I was able to talk to a lot of people.

It took me 40 days.

It made me SOOO happy!

Late Christmas Gift for Dad...

Pitt won. 

Tidings of Comfort and Joy--Branden's Christmas Party

Every year, my friend Branden has a Christmas party at his house for all our high school friends. Most of us manage to come home at least once during the Christmas season, and Branden throws the party then. This year it was the day after Christmas, as opposed to the week or so before, so the crowd was a bit smaller, but lots of fun was still had.

Tom (aka Joe Cool) with his wife Andrea in the background. Tom and I met the first day of high school, in French class.

Tiffany. What more needs to be said? She cracks me up.

The gang's all here.
Back row: (L-R) Sean, Bill (Tiff's fiance), Gary, Tom and Andrea, Casey (Lindsay's boyfriend)
Front row: Amanda (dating Gary), Tiffany, Branden, Lindsay and me.

Tiffany (the bride) with three of her five bridesmaids: Me, Andrea, and Lindsay. The wedding is in August! Tiff's twin sister is the matron of honor, and our friend Amilia (from high school) rounds out the bride's side of the bridal party.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tidings of Comfort and Joy--Christmas Pictures

My tree

Our Lady of Grace at St. Pat's--her statue is in the gallery connecting the church proper and the parish activity building/offices/library.

The Sanctuary--it's it beautiful? And check out the altar boy in his old-school digs on the left. I love the altar boys here. They're so solemn and they all do a great job.

Wizard of Oz Pez Dispensers! I didn't even know these existed! 

Tidings of Comfort and Joy--Christmas Books

The Christmas Book List (because it's super important):

  • From my brother: Speak, Giada's Kitchen, Eyewitness Guide to Film
  • From my parents: The True History of Chocolate, The Annotated Christmas Carol, St. Francis

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A very merry Christmas...

To all my blog readers. Thank you for reading! I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas.
(Oh, you want something to read, too? Well try this, about a very memorable Christmas gift.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ode to Italy: Movie Night Carbonara

The scenario:
It is Christmas Eve Eve. My gifts are bought. I am not leaving my house because I live on the same street as a Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Bath and Body Works, Hallmark, and a Target. It is INSANE out there.
So, instead, I am saying in for Christmas Movie night and the mother of all pastas: carbonara.
Carbonara, how I love thee.
The link provides a SLIGHTLY different version. The one she has in "How to Eat" doesn't use cream, it uses 1 egg yolk and 1 egg.

The last Advent post (for this year...)

Is up at CPG.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More :)

My friend Richelle has a great blog that y'all should check out. She's on the sidebar, but I thought I'd give her an extra plug here...especially since I was a guest blogger a few days ago.
(yes, I do love make-up. And I like to write about fun, girly things. :))


It's been snowing since late last night...not really sticking to the roads anymore (yay), and it looks so pretty.
I experimented with my camera to get some snow shots last night--I'll post those later, once I see how they actually turned out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Movie Food: Spanglish and Ratatouille

OK, I love movies. 
I'm Emily, and I'm a movie-holic. 
So, I thought I'd share two of my favorite movie recipes, both from Chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. 
The first, from Spanglish, is what Adam Sandler (a chef, in the film) makes when he gets home from work. A video how-to is also included on the DVD, if you happen to own it (which you should, because it's a great movie.) 

Spanglish: The World's Greatest Sandwich

4 thick slices of bacon
2 slices of Monterey Jack cheese
2 thick slices of rustic white bread, toasted and hot
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
4 tomato slices
2 leaves of butter lettuce
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 large egg

  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Set the Monterey Jack slices on 1 piece of toast. Spread the mayonnaise on the other slice of toast, then top with the bacon, tomato and lettuce.
  3. In a small, nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the egg and fry over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp around the edge, about 4 minutes; the yolk should still be runny.
  4. Slide the egg onto the lettuce; close the sandwich and eat right away.
Makes 1 sandwich.

Ratatouille: Ratatouille (what else?) 

Thomas Keller's Ratatouille
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces), peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
Half a bay leaf
1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the peppers cut side down on a foil-lined sheet. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.
Combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, fresh thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Do not brown. Add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs.

Reserve one tablespoon of the mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet nice enough to serve from, or a small, shallow casserole dish. Reduce the heat in the oven to 275 degrees.
Down center of the skillet or casserole dish, arrange a strip of alternating slices of zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and Roma tomatoes, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap the vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled.
Mix 1/2 teaspoon of the minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the vegetables.
Cover pan with foil and seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.
For the final topping combine the reserved tablespoon of sauce with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Drizzle around plate. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.
Source: Tribune Media Services

Now, I fully admit that the sandwich is easier. :) In fact, I'm going to make that first. I've been waning to make it for a long time.  The ratatouille? That might not happen until I own a mandolin. 

Audition: Company

Last night I auditioned for Gallery Player's Winter Musical, Company, by Stephen Sondheim. (this is als the company I did Parade with, last winter.)
I've been preparing for this audition for a long time--in fact, probably all fall. When I started lessons with my teacher back in September, this was one of the things I was shooting for.
Originally, I had wanted to sing a piece from COmpany--The Ladies Who Lunch, one of the show's more famous pieces. The director (who also directed Parade) hadn't had a prohibition on songs from the show last year, and I didn't read anything different on the audition notice, so Robin and I worked this up.
The reason I wanted to sing this particular piece was simple--the part I really wanted in the show (Joanne), is a contralto--a real one. In Ladies, she sings low E's as a matter of course. Now, not a lot of people can sing low Es. I can. As Yogi Bera said, "It ain't bragging if you can do it." So I wanted to sing Ladies to demonstrate that I could, indeed, hit those low Es. It would be like someone who wants to sing the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute will probably audition with a song that shows off the high end of her range--because the Queen of the Night is very high, and very dramatic.
Well, of course, I re-checked the audition notice, and behold--no songs from Company allowed.
(Insert four letter word of choice here.)

So, I brought all my anthologies to Robin and we pawed through them. I was thinking Maybe This Time, from Cabaret, which is low and sexy and adult. But Robin found something else--the Diva's Lament, from Spamalot, which I had quasi-worked up in the years before I met Robin. I loved the song--it was hysterical--but I had never, ever thought of it as an audition piece.
Robin loved it. She told me that I could pick between that or the Cabaret piece.  But as I drove home, I knew I had to sing the Lament. IT was a real character piece, very funny, and demonstrates character, more so than Cabaret. 

So last night I went to the first night of auditions, of course listening to the Company soundtrack on the way (I have the newest version). The song What Would We Do Without You? was playing when I pulled into my 'usual' slot in the JCC lot.

I was the first one there, as usual. Between 15-20 people showed up, evenly split between guys and girls. SOme people from Parade--Dani, Wilma, Jay--and Jekyll and Hyde--Amy and Dave--were there, along with folks I didn't know. Kristin, Parade's music director, was playing the auditions.

A few minutes before 7, the stage manager called me in to audition. The director and Kristin were on the stage, and I felt like I was back at Parade rehearsals. I handed my form, resume and photo to the director and handed my music to Kristin.

When singing, a few things can happen. If it's going well, I don't really hear the accompaniment, unless I'm supposed to (as in, I'm at a rest.). I know it's there, it's doing its thing, but I'm not really aware of it. When things are going not so well, I am aware that one of us is off--I'm ahead, he's behind, whatever. There's no meshing of the two of us to create the single piece. Last night, I didn't really hear the accompaniment, and it wasn't because of the Bionic Ear--I felt good. It sounded right.

Frank (the director) was, of course, taking notes while I was singing. There was no one else in the theater, just him, Kristin, and me. After my song, Frank asked Kristin to take me through intervals--a scale going up, starting at middle C. On the audition sheet, he asks us to write our vocal range. I wrote: D#5-B-flat3, which basically means the D-sharp below the staff to the B-flat above it. It's almost three octaves--not too bad. So Kristin took me up to the B-flat, and she looked sort of amazed that I was still hanging in there as we ascended. Although I am a contralto, and I'm very proud of my low range, I'm also pretty proud of my higher notes, as well. They were hard won.

"What was that?" Frank asked Kristin as I hit the b-flat (and stopped).
"B-flat," She said.
Frank's eyebrows went up as he checked that against what I had written. No, I had not lied. "Good."
I went over to stand before his table. "I'm not going to have you read, because I've worked with you before, and I know what you can do." I nodded. "So thanks, and have a great holiday."
"No call backs?"
I thanked them, took my music and left the theater. I informed the other Parade kids that they wouldn't have to read--just sing--and I think some were disappointed (I was, a little), but my audition lasted maybe five minutes, which was good. I like to be in and out.

So, if this is anything like Parade, we should find out the casting (for this show, it's 15 people--8 girls, 7 guys) the Monday after Christmas. Today is the last day of auditions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent bits and pieces

Up over here: Lay Dominicans, chant, breviaries, and St. Catherine of Siena.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Ghost of Dickens' Drafts

The manuscript of A Christmas Carol 

Parents: How To Be There

(Below, I use the word “child” instead of “patient”, since I’m talking mostly to parents here. But feel free to substitute your own word when reading.)
I like to compare myself to a cat. I don’t really like them (sorry, Di), but I compare myself to them because I match their longevity. By my count, I’m on life number seven. So I can have two more near-death experiences before The Last One.
As such, I tend to think about The End more than most people, especially most people my age. I’ve planned my funeral, for pete’s sake. I am fully aware than I am probably not going to die in my bed when I’m 85. I’m OK with that.
When people write about death and dying, I take an interest. Usually, it’s to see how I’d react in their situation. Unlike a lot of people, who are really just guessing, I’ve been there, and can imagine pretty clearly how I would (or how I have reacted).
The things I read are 99.9% by observers, not the patient. They’re written by nurses, doctors, caretakes, parents, what have you. Not the patient, because usually the patient’s dead. And normally I read them and then…move on.
But one blogger I read regularly recently wrote a column on death and dying and some of it touched nerves with me. So I thought that the patient’s point of view might be edifying one some points.
    • When you are the patient, and you need support during a procedure, you should get it. Period. Now, I’m older, and I’m verbal. I can tell my parents to leave if I don’t want them watching something, or if I know it will upset them (like when I have to have IVs put in—they don’t want to watch me being poked fifty billion times. So I send them to the cafeteria, or whatever). But if I’m scared, (yes, I’m twenty-seven, and there are still scary procedures) I want one of them with me. Period. Full stop. Is this selfish? Maybe. But at the end of it, in the most primal way, I’m their kid, they’re my parents. As a child, I want my parent/s there. (If I had a spouse, maybe it would be him. Not sure.) I’ve always had at least one parent with me when I needed one, and sometimes I’ve had both. To not be with your child when s/he is in pain, and possibly could die, is beyond me. To me, being with your child trumps any feelings you might have about grossness. If your child is begging you to stay, you stay. Period. I can’t imagine asking my parents to stay, knowing I needed them to stay, and having them leave because they couldn’t watch the procedure being performed.
    • My dad has come from their house, in the middle of the night, to be with me when an emergency chest tube was put in. I was heavily sedated. I thought he was there, but I wasn’t really sure. He didn’t need to be there, and I’m pretty sure the procedure is gross to watch. But he was. My mom went with me when I needed to have fluid sucked out of my chest wall with a big needle. I’m sure that wasn’t high on her list of fun things to do with your child, but she did it. She’s changed the dressing on a second-degree burn, which, let me tell you, was not pretty. As a parent, you do plenty of things you really don’t want to do, but need done. The same applies here. Child asks, you stay.
    • Really tough procedures, like trachs, g-tubes, ports, etc., that are permanent—yeah, these suck at the outset. They’re hard. In fact, trachs repell me so much that I’ve told my parents, repeatedly, that I do not ever want one unless there is absolutely noother way to keep me breathing. I’ve never had one, so my avoidance is purely based on gut-level revulsion. But if that’s what it takes to stay alive, well, we do it. I mean, that’s the name of the game—survival. I really, really, really did not want a port before I got one. I kicked and screamed (rhetorically). I didn’t want some permanent thing in me that everyone could see. (Now, almost no one can, unless they’re looking.) But it is a godsend. It makes my life 1,000 times easier, knowing that IV access isright there. Survival, in my book, is the key. Is it awful sometimes? Yes. But really, you do what you have to do. As a parent, you have to make this new apparatus as normal a part of the child’s life as possible. You cannot be repelled by it. You cannot say things like, “I hate this thing.” Your child can. But you are the child’s first societal application—if you are OK with it, that can go a long way in helping your child accept it. (When your child is older, then naturally you’re not going to be as protective.) You have to treat your child’s life as if it is normal. And it is normal—for your family. Failure to accept that makes life much harder than it has to be.
    • As per the above: what about quality of life? Obviously, that’s important. But when it comes to living, then the cards, for me, tend to fall there. A good example is my hearing. It’s pretty important to me, as a singer. But before transplant, I was put on strong IV antibiotics that, we knew, damaged hearing. I knew that my hearing was already somewhat damaged when we started this drug course. I wasn’t happy about damaging it further. But we did the drugs anyway, because I would rather be alive and have the Bionic Ear than be dead with perfect hearing. Now, I wouldn’t want to be trached, permanently, if I couldn’t talk. That would really kill me, emotionally. My voice is a huge part of who I am. My entire quality of life would be shot if I was attached to a respirator all the time. But you know, I say that now. I don’t know if that’s permanent. I might have a husband and kids, and that would radically change my thinking. But right now, as a single twenty-seven year old, that’s what I feel. The thing here is that it’s subjective. My base instinct is always to preserve my life.
    • At the end—the very end—I know what I want, and that is to have my death be in line with Church teachings. I’ve left it up to my parents, and of course they may consult the excellent priests we know for advice, should they require it. But this, too, goes back to point one—I trust my parents implicitly. I know they know me well enough to do right by me, if I can’t decide for myself. And for all parents/caregivers, this, I think, is where you ultimately want to be: in a place where your child trusts you to do what is right for her, and that she knows you will be there with her, no matter what option you’ve chosen. Parents, if your child is approaching this area, and they’re old enough (and able) to verbalize what they want, have a conversation about it. Your kid is probably scared enough, thinking about this, so be as supportive as you can, and try to discuss options, etc., with level heads. It’s hard. But it’s easier to talk about it before than to try to piece it together during or after.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Baby Shower

For my friend Leah, who's expecting her first little one (a boy) in January.

The girls from Cap: Richelle, me, Leah, Sarah and Melissa (CRs all)

Me and Sarah

The proud mom.

The buffet--isn't it pretty? Melissa made the cupcakes. Everything was fantastic! (And great motivation to get up early on Sat. morning.)

Showering Mom with gifts.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. XVIII

Last night, I went back to my alma mater to see the annual Christmas Festival. I hadn't seen it since 2003, when I was ushering it, and I'd been in the ones prior to that. So this was the first time I'd gone to the show and just watched. It was strange. I felt like I should be doing something, especially when the hymns were sung. At that point I was usually processing in or out. So it was strange.

For those who didn't go to Cap: The Christmas Festival is a HUGE concert, given four times over four days (it runs until Sunday) that rings in the Christmas season at Cap. All of the University choirs participate, plus a large amount of instrumentalists. It is a lot of work, taking months to prepare, and usually sells out as soon as tickets go on sale. People plan their entire December around Christmas Festival. Not kidding. You can get some of the recordings online, but the link is currently down, so I'll post it later.  Every year, there's a theme: my freshman year it was "All Creatures of Our God and King", so the readings and the songs had to do with (or mentioned) animals, this year the theme was "There Shall A Star", so stars were the theme.

A lot of my old college buddies (and current theater folk) are in the choirs--the Choral Union is a student/alum/community choir. So it was great to see so many familiar faces, and it made me want to try out next autumn. We'll see...

The SAIs (my fraternity) were ushering. Whoa, that brought back memories. I forgot to wear my badge, but I talked to some of the girls anyway. They seem fantastic.

Before I had dinner with my brother and sister at the Bexley Monk. Lots of fun, lots of delicious food. Mel and I then went back to her dorm room so she could change before the concert. She and I ended up chatting to a older alumni couple who were seated next to us. Mees is "intimate" (code for--CROWDED, it seats about 900), so we were pretty close together.

A few of the songs were oldies, ones that I had sung in high school and college. That always makes me happy.

All my Christmas gifts are wrapped, and now I can prepare for another audition: Company, on the 14th. I'm singing "The Ladies Who Lunch." Robin and I are knocking it out at lessons and I hope I get cast. Updates to come.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

This, That, and the Other


--Stitch is topping this post, because he can.
--It's been raining almost all day here. At least I can break out the Hunter boots when I traipse out tonight for voice. (Mine are violet, just like Bella's in Twilight. And no, I haven't seen New Moon. It's my least favorite book, so I'll probably just wait until it's out on DVD. And my December is insane. More on that below.)
--Voice: Working on some random pieces. I have another audition coming up, for Gallery Player's "Company" (this is the group I did Parade with last winter). I really, really want to do this show because there is a FANTASTIC Alto part. Really, honest to God contralto. Problem? The woman is thirty-something. Do I look 30 something? Not. So I'm counting on some eyeliner, dark clothes and my voice to make me look 30. I'm hoping we can nail down a song tonight, too.
--Crazy December? Here's what's on tap: Tomorrow night, Cap's Christmas Fest with Melanie. I haven't been since...oh....2004? 2005? When I helped the SAI chapter girls usher it. This will be the first time I've gone as a spectator--I've usually been in it, or working it. Not this time. I'm watching and singing along with the audience during carols. Can't wait to see how my old Purple Robe is holding up. Dinner with the friends on Dec. 11, Tiffany's Christmas Concert Dec. 12, Messiah rehearsals Dec. 13 and 18, and performance in Hilliard on the 20th. That doesn't count regular Mass stuff, work stuff, any other "stuff" that might pop up.
--These books rock my world. As I am a Jane addict, I got both Jane books. Why they do not offer ALL Jane books is a mystery to me. Because they should. And I would buy them. (duh.)
--How's your Advent going so far? Enjoying it? At my parish we're using the Latin antiphon for the entrance, and for the psalm. Waaaay cool. I still have to figure out how to read the Latin chant music. It's not a normal 5 staff pattern.
--My tree is up. A few ornaments are still in storage at my parents', so it looks a wee bit bare right now. 'Twill be righted later.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook--November 30, 2009

Outside My Window ...
Very light blue sky with some dark grey clouds. The clouds look threatening. 
I am listening to...
Messiah—Christmas section.
To Live the Liturgy...
Mass as often as I can; Magnificat; Rosary; Magnificat Advent Companion; Advent and Christmas with John Paul II.
To Fit and Happy...
Gym! I went three times last week, going to match it this week.
I am thankful for…
The Advent season
I am pondering ...
New scenes for the novel
From the kitchen ...
A new chicken dish from Everyday Italian; Chicken Piccata later this week.
I am wearing ...
Heather gray skirt; blue/grey boatneck sweater from Banana Republic; brown knee-high boots (also BR), pearl studs
I am creating ...
The novel. I am really happy with how it’s going.
On my iPod...
Christmas albums.
I am thinking...
Around the House
The kitchen table is almost clear! And the tree is up!
I am reading ...
Catherine of Sienna and The King's Good Servant, But God's First. Also dipping into The Time Traveler’s Wife from time to time. And reading various cookbooks.
I am hoping and praying ...
For everyone who’s sick/in the hospital/getting chemo, etc.
On Keeping Home ...
Presents all wrapped and under tree!
One of my favorite things ...
My Christmas ornaments
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
W: Voice lesson
Th: Christmas Festival at Capital (my alma mater) with Melanie
Saturday: Baby shower for my friend Leah, whose baby is due in January.

For more daybooks, go visit Peggy!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday--Vol. XVII

First, the BIG NEWS: My best friend is getting married! She called me yesterday to tell me the news. I am so excited and happy for her and her fiance. They are a great couple.

Other than that big news--thanksgiving was uneventful. I watched my high school band in the parade--they were the big purple group before Santa, weren't they great!?--made biscotti, and then headed over to my parents'. We watched Star Trek, had dinner from Bob Evans', and then played Apples to Apples. Dad won. It was a great day with lots of good food.

It snowed last night. First snow of the season. It's mostly gone now, but there's still some wet powder clinging to my back porch. Hey, if the first snow of the year is on November 26, I'll take it.

I also have today off, so yesterday I was singing the "four days off! four days off!" song.
Can you tell I'm really excited about that?

Bought House seasons 3 and 4 for $12 apiece this week, so I'm making my way through those.

Want an early Christmas miracle? I've been to the gym twice this week. And I'm going today.
Maybe I subconsciously knew my best friend was getting married, and I had a wedding to prepare for?  I mean, cute guys might be there.

Also making progress in my biblical studies class--planning on starting my second assignment today.
Oh, and the novel? Up to 159 pages.

Have a great Black Friday, y'all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hey, whatever happened to...

That novel you were writing, some of you may be asking?
This is my problem as a writer. I get ideas. I think they are good. And then I go to write them down.
And then...they die.
As in, I write the good parts. Or as far as I can go. And then the characters just languish in writing hell, 99.9% of them never to be freed (or, at least, completed).
This, to put it vulgarly, sucks.
But there is one--one!-- writing project that show signs of emerging from my MacBook in completed form. Whether anyone else will see the completed form is debatable. But it might actually get there. 
That's this.
I have written, at last count, 158 pages.
That's 55,715 words (and change), at least according to Word.
So that's a lot of writing.
I want to get one draft done--completely, utterly, finished. I want to write THE END.
Actually, I've already written the last scene. It wasn't hard.
Now I just have to get there, and I can sort of see the end in sight. I just have to determine how to write it.
But anyway, I just thought you'd like to know about The One Project That Didn't Disappear.

Book list update

Whilst trolling through the archives, I found this old book list.
It is updated, below. I have vastly improved my Dickens reading.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
• Anna Karenina
• Crime and Punishment
• Catch-22
 One Hundred Years of Solitude
• Wuthering Heights
• The Silmarillion
 Life of Pi : a novel
• The Name of the Rose
• Don Quixote
• Moby Dick
• Ulysses
• Madame Bovary
• The Odyssey
• Pride and Prejudice
• Jane Eyre
• The Tale of Two Cities
• The Brothers Karamazov

• Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
• War and Peace
• Vanity Fair
• The Time Traveler’s Wife
• The Iliad
• Emma

• The Blind Assassin
• The Kite Runner
• Mrs. Dalloway
• Great Expectations

• American Gods
• A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
• Atlas Shrugged
 Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
• Memoirs of a Geisha
• Middlesex
• Quicksilver
• Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
• The Canterbury tales
• The Historian : a novel
• A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
• Love in the Time of Cholera
• Brave New world
• The Fountainhead
• Foucault’s Pendulum
• Middlemarch
• Frankenstein
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• Dracula

• A Clockwork Orange
• Anansi Boys
• The Once and Future King
• The Grapes of Wrath
• The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
• 1984
• Angels & Demons
• The Inferno
• The Satanic Verses
 Sense and Sensibility
• The Picture of Dorian Gray

• Mansfield Park
• One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
• To the Lighthouse
• Tess of the D’Urbervilles
• Oliver Twist

• Gulliver’s Travels
• Les Misérables
• The Corrections
• The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
• The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
• Dune
• The Prince
• The Sound and the Fury
• Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
• The God of Small Things
• A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
• Cryptonomicon
• Neverwhere
• A Confederacy of Dunces
• A Short History of Nearly Everything
• Dubliners
• The Unbearable Lightness of Being
• Beloved
• Slaughterhouse-five
• The Scarlet Letter
• Eats, Shoots & Leaves
• The Mists of Avalon
• Oryx and Crake : a novel
• Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
• Cloud Atlas
• The Confusion
• Lolita
• Persuasion
• Northanger Abbey
• The Catcher in the Rye
• On the Road
• The Hunchback of Notre Dame

• Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
• Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
• The Aeneid
• Watership Down
• Gravity’s Rainbow
• The Hobbit
• In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
• White Teeth
• Treasure Island
• David Copperfield
• The Three Musketeers

Monday, November 23, 2009

THE Thanksgiving post

It  really isn't Thanksgiving time until I post this.
Deep Fried Turkey, how I love thee!

The Simple Woman's Daybook--November 23, 2009

Outside My Window ...
It's a gray day! But I got to wear my fun new navy peacoat, so that made it better. 
I am listening to...
My iTunes mix CD—Eagles, REM, Credence Clearwater Revival…good stuff.
To Live the Liturgy...
Mass as often as I can; Magnificat; Rosary
To Fit and Happy...
Gym. Sigh. And my pilates video.
I am thankful for...
A short week!
I am pondering ...
My next MA assignment for Biblical studies—outline of the Old Testament
From the kitchen ...
Pasta. Again. And making biscotti for Turkey day!
I am wearing ...
Gray pants; heater blue turtleneck; gray socks
I am creating ...
Christmas cards. Well  not creating them. Writing them.
On my iPod...
more "Messiah" and voice lesson music.
I am thinking...
That I am ready for some Turkey!
Around the House
Vacuuming, getting the table under control
I am reading ...
Catherine of Sienna and The King's Good Servant, But God's First.
I am hoping and praying ...
for my grandpa.
On Keeping Home ...
Wrapping presents; digging out Christmas decorations.
One of my favorite things ...
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Th: Happy Thanksgiving!
F: Dinner and movie with siblings
Sun: First Sunday of Advent! Messiah rehearsal

For more daybooks, go visit Peggy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Advent prep

Over here (thanks to Praying for Grace for the tip!).
This Sunday is Christ the King--the last Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Are you ready for Advent?
Not Christmas (even though I am writing Christmas cards today).
The time of waiting. (at which, as we know, I am awful.)
What are you doing (if anything) to prepare?
(If you're not Christian, just skip this stuff. 'Tis OK.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A meme

From Karen (I was perusing her blog archives today, and I liked the look of this one).
Bold things are things I've done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (DisneyWorld)

8. Climbed a mountain 
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (can't do it anymore, can you? Is the crown back open?)
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (with Di and Suze in Galveston)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I hated doing it. I'm awful at selling things.)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square (on New Year's!)
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (right wrist, upper right arm)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Boomer Eiason, V-P Cheney, G.W. Bush, Ann Coulter)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

And while you're at it--read Karen's Guide to Advent. 
And order her book