I'm hearing- Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming as my singers practice their four-part harmony. They are learning Nativity hymns in English, Slavonic, Polish and maybe German. We don't listen to recorded Christmas music until it's actually Christmas, but as is wont in musicians' homes there do be a good bit of it floating about the house as folks practice with voices and various instruments.
I'm wearing- This is my new favorite skirt, a birthday gift made for my by Anna. The fabric is just beautiful, and she cleverly trimmed the bottom edge with fine gold chain. Very cool. I do save it for Sundays.
Thankful for- the other day this sweet little chickadee came crashing into the window (in spite of the bird tape) with that dreadful sounding thud. I went right out and picked it up but the poor thing was so still, resting unnaturally upside down in my hand with just a couple of toes clinging to my finger. It didn't look good. But after a bit it righted itself, and then wonder of wonders it eventually sat upright in my hand. I held it close to peer at it and keep it warm while it sat so still and blinking. And then all of a sudden without any warning, whoosh! It flew away as fast as could go! Thank you, St. Francis.
Thinking about- October and November seemed to have gone by in a blur. We accompanied my husband on a little short trip to Connecticut and Rhode Island for a conference and to visit family. While away, we got the call that dear friends lost their twenty year old daughter suddenly and unexpectedly. Such raw, piercing grief.
The week after that we attended the funeral of our dearly beloved 104 year old priest. He lived for many years at the church where we used to attend daily Mass. His dedication to the holy priesthood, old-fashioned charm, and genuine love for all people made him a much loved favorite of so many. I will always remember how when I told him about our Eliza, how the baby I was carrying would need open heart surgery soon after birth. We were in the church, and he turned around and looked directly at the Tabernacle and said with great conviction, "You better take care of her." As we said our final farewells at the wake it was a blessing to be able to kiss his holy hands one last time, and I looked up at the Tabernacle and said, "I know You'll take care of him."
Then the week before Thanksgiving one of my cousins lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly. We traveled back to my hometown once again for the funeral, held in the church where I grew up and was married. Such sad, hard times. But such a blessing to experience the joy of family in the midst of all the grief.
Living the Liturgical Year - So now we are somehow here in the second week of Advent already. We are following our usual traditions for keeping Advent, doing our Jesse Tree readings in the evening as we light the candles of the Advent wreath, followed by singing the seasonal hymns Alma Redemptoris Mater and Creator Alme Siderum. We say our 'Hail and Blesseds,' as we fondly refer to the St. Andrew Novena prayer. We listen to the Benedictine's Advent at Ephesus over and over again. It is a comfort and a blessing to have these traditions in place to follow every year.
Something new this year: Jonathan is recording Lauds from the traditional Divine Office every day and posting it on a new blog, Dominus Regnavit. They are posted ahead of time so you can listen to the day's Lauds first thing in the morning.
We are creating - The girls are making themselves wool cloaks and hoods, under the direction of Josiah, the master cloak maker. They had a sewing day together on Sunday.
We are working on finished! Lydia's next picture book will be released very soon!
Around the house- We have acquired some new instruments recently: a 115 year old mahogany upright piano and a bona fide vintage pump organ! Both were irresistible (free!) finds on craigslist and we are so delighted to have them in our home. The piano is old and stately and beautiful and sits in the middle of the living room, encouraging all to frequently stop and play for a bit (or an hour). When we saw the listing for the pump organ Lydia right away said we should get it so we could be like the dear Moffats, but we still hesitated a bit. Then I saw the Trinity Acres folks got one, and I thought if they can have one why can't we?! (Ah, the happy power of the internet.) Ours is very plain and simple (Julie's looks gorgeous) and needed a fair bit of repair work. It lived in the garage for months in various states of assemblage until it was finally complete enough to bring inside. It is such a fun instrument! Folks stop by the organ all the time to play a bit, and it has such a grand delightful sound. Caroling around the keyboard should be extra fun this year.
People, keep your eyes peeled for free instruments!
I am reading - The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. Is it possible that I am enjoying it even more than Middlemarch? Or is it just that this is the George Eliot I'm reading at the moment? Hard to say.
From the kitchen- We are all looking forward to the feast day tomorrow!
A few plans for the rest of the week- Come up with a plan for housekeeping, shopping, baking, and all the rest of the preparations for Nativity? Begin to catch up on email? Hopefully celebrate a new book release!