Thursday, July 4, 2013

And This Week...

More stuff happened! Hooray!

Well, some of it really was "hooray" worthy.

I contracted stomach flu over the weekend, which was not really hooray-ed. Spent a miserable Friday night in the depths of ick, and then Saturday in that 101 degree state between waking and nightmares. I don't know: do any of you hallucinate when you have a fever? Or is that just my bizarre brain-frequency causing extra activity when the physical side of me is on hiatis?

Anyway; I'm over that. Dad has it now, but luckily he has the week off of work and can rest up.

Yesterday I had my first voice lesson with Dr. Downs up at MSU. Promising start; the summer should go well. She talked me into signing up for the musical theatre camp that they hold up there, so I'll be participating in that in a couple of weeks. Intensive vocal training Literally, she landed me with the Italian. At least I get a piece from the Phantom of the Opera.

We now have a whole herd of little baby goats running around in the goat pen. I probably should take pictures and post 'em when I have time.
July 4th is today---happy Independence Day to all you fellow Americans! I think we might spend the day cutting hay, but some friends of ours invited us to a party, and they have a pool, so...we might spend the rest of the afternoon over there.

Our parents have promised us a trip to Lake Michigan on Friday; preparation is underway for that in the kitchen right now. Yum.

Saturday will most likely be spent baling hay. Not even going to go into that.

And Mom's birthday! So we'll be celebrating on that day. 

It's been a lovely summer so far, even with all the difficulties. Garden is growing splendidly, the Farmer's Market is going well, life rolls on in the sleepy sort of way that it always does in Michigan farm country. Sometimes it's almost Shire-like. *Cue flute-music*

Anyway, here's me, signing off.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Top Ten Novels

A little insight into my literary diet. I think I have listed on here "enjoys reading", or something or another; I don't recall ever telling you what it is I read.

These are some of my favorite books; books that I will read more than once over the years. Filled with memorable characters, brilliant plots, witty dialogue, ect, these are the books that I definitely took something from after reading. Granted, all of these books have flaws. There is only one perfect book in the cosmos, and that is the Bible, the Inspired Word of God. The rest of literature is expected to be faulty. Use discretion when picking up a new book.

10. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. A coming-of-age story centered around the four March sisters. Father is off fighting in the War Between the States, leaving Marmee, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy to hold down the fort at home. Each of the girls has her own trials to overcome, from Jo's temper and wild habits, to Amy's finicky and selfish nature. Tracing from girlhood to womanhood, the story follows the March girls up and down their different paths in life to a satisfying ending. Certain parts of this book do make me cry, yes, and I'm not exactly the most sentimental individual on the earth. Louisa Alcott had a sort of romanticist worldview, so keep that in mind as you read. The writing is clean, as far as I remember, and the characters solid.

9. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. Welcome to the world of Dickens! If you've never read him before, this book is a good place to start. Young Phillip "Pip" comes unexpectedly under a benefactor's eye and is whisked off to London to be trained as a fashionable young man of society. The question is, who has sent him from his quiet country home to the teeming capitol, and why? The only person he can think of is Miss Havisham, a jilted bride who sits aging in her crumbling mansion, with all the clocks set to the very hour when, on her wedding day long ago, her fiancee failed to show up. She's only slightly deranged, of course, so why not? And perhaps she intends for Pip to become a gentleman so he can marry her ward, the proud and beautiful Estella. But what if Pip is wrong? What if someone else is his mysterious benefactor? What if Miss Havisham takes interest in him for a different reason? And how on earth is he going to get on in this gentleman business? Smacking with Dickens' bright sense of humor, this book had me wondering until the end. Usually I can have a plot all unraveled before the climax, but not so in this case. I actually was shocked by the turnout. Unique and memorable characters throughout.

8. Ishmael, by E.D.E.N. Southworth. The story of a young man who, though born into wretched circumstances, unwanted and nearly alone in the world, strives for the highest of goals. Though faced with serious trials, Ishmael Worth's honesty, integrity, and willingness to work shine through and bring him to the attention of those around him. Will sacrifice and grit, honor and courage be enough to get him through the barriers that cage him in? Highly recommended read for everyone, young and old.

7. The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Masterfully but simply and subtly written, The Giver focuses on a boy, Jonas, that lives in a so-called utopian society. Everything seems perfect, until Jonas, as Receiver of Memories, starts to notice things that the others are not allowed to see. What really happens when the children won't conform to normalcy, and the aged are too old to be kept anymore? What exactly does it mean to be "released"? This is about a society that tried to achieve utopia---and wove a web of nightmares instead. Can Jonas escape, and is there anything out there in the world for him to escape to? Lowry is not a Christian, so there is no mention of God in this story. As I said before, her writing is subtle, but chilling. It's an easy read, but should be reserved for stronger thinkers because of the worldview.

6. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I had only just finished Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, so I had frightening expectations from this book. But Charlotte Bronte surprised me. The heroine is a strong, intelligent woman with a solid grip on good morals. She comes out of a rough, cold childhood as a poor, though independent young lady. On a recommendation of Jane's school, the housekeeper of wealthy Mr. Rochester hires her to be a governess to Adele, Mr. Rochester's ward. Jane thinks the situation will be good and takes it, little knowing of the events to follow. From nearly achieving the heights of her dreams to being dashed into the lowest of depths, Jane keeps a clear head and ultimately does what is right, even when it costs her home, happiness, and love. Mild swearing (white out!), if I remember correctly, so caution is advised for younger readers.

5.  The Hidden Hand, by E.D.E.N. Southworth. A remarkable book, indeed! Probably the most cliche plot devices know to man, but the characters are so life-like and lovable that it lifts the book to a high and favorable position on my list. Old Hurricane is called out of his warm bed on a nasty evening by a insistent clergyman. After witnessing a most remarkable last confession of a dying woman, Major Warfield (that would be Old Hurricane) hustles off to New York in search of an heiress who, by the way, doesn't know that she is an heiress. He finds her running lose in the streets, posing as a newsboy and looking after herself! Miss Capitola Black is a rather remarkable young woman, with sharp temper and wit, and a tongue to match. When she takes up residency in Major Warfield's Virginian mansion, life in the area is changed for good. She has enemies at every turn, and she doesn't know it! But she deals with them all soundly, whether it be conniving uncles, unwanted suitors, or dastardly outlaws. Probably our most flawed heroine, but there are plenty of strong, godly characters to help her on the way. The hidden hand of God is seen working all throughout this story!

4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis. I suppose I could have listed all the Narnia books here, but I decided to pick my favorite of the series and list it instead. Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are called back to Narnia, but, unfortunately, they are forced to take their rather horrible cousin Eustace with them. They really couldn't help it, seeing as they were all washed through the painting and into the sea! The ship The Dawn Treader picks them up, and there the Pevensies meet old friends. Caspian X, king of Narnia, Reepicheep the talking mouse, and others. The Narnians are on their way out to the eastern islands to search for seven lords that went missing long ago. The children join them in their quest of danger, sailing out into the unknown. Trouble is encountered along the way, and only Aslan, son of the great Emperor Over the Sea, can pull them through. Will their journey be successful? And, also, what will happen to the miserable, whining Eustace? Do dragons enjoy curried brat? A delightful allegory for all ages. Some of Lewis' doctrine is questionable, but for the most part the story is sound. It does contain magic, mythical creatures, magicians, and the like, so use your own discretion.

3. The Complete Canon of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle. Includes all thirty-six short stories and four novels. Enter the world's greatest detective! From the grotesque to the impossible to the dangerous to the hilarious, follow Holmes and his chronicler Dr. Watson from one end of Great Brittan to the other as they solve mysteries of the most unusual sort. Using the "art of deduction", Sherlock Holmes is able to foil some of the most clever and dangerous criminals in the world by noticing things that nobody else notices---and then piecing together the origins of these commonplace things.
"Well, I have a trade of my own. I suppose I am the only one in the world. I'm a consulting detective, if you can understand what that is. Here in London we have lots of Government detectives and lots of private ones. When these fellows are at fault they come to me, and I manage to put them on the right scent. They lay all the evidence before me, and I am generally able, by the help of my knowledge of the history of crime, to set them straight."
Some mild swearing, and, of course, we're looking into the world of crime. Not for younger audiences.

2. Mr. Standfast, by John Buchan. I have only just discovered Buchan's Richard Hannay series, beginning with The Thirty-Nine Steps and ending with The Island of the Sheep. Mr. Standfast is the third book in the series of British spy novels, and by far my favorite. Set during World War I, the story is narrated by General Richard Hannay, who first got involved in the spying business by accident (The Thirty-Nine Steps). A disgruntled General Hannay is called from the battlefront by old friends of his, men involved in the political sphere. They tell him that information that could not possibly be accessed is being leaked to the Germans, and they want him to figure out how. Now Hannay is sent to the North disguised as a dissenter, something that he certainly never wanted to be though of as. While being chased around Scotland by the police, he comes across the spy and his "mailbox". Case closed.
Not quite. The spy is someone who was supposed to have been executed years ago; a master actor, one of the most dangerous men in Europe. Hannay feels certain that he can recognize him in any situation now, but can he really? Back to France for the final showdown---ending in a cataclysmic aerial dogfight. Heavy shelling from the German side and a no-show French reinforcement make the scene seem hopeless. How are our heroes going to pull through? Enter Mr. Standfast. They're not all going to walk away this time.
Mild swearing, again. Use whiteout, if you happen to have a paper copy.

1. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. You might have guessed this one. Yes; this strange, whismical tale is one of my absolute favorites. I try not to geek out over Tolkien stuff, but...yeah.
The Bagginses are a respectable family of hobbits, never doing anything unexpected or out of the ordinary. Bilbo Baggins is like all the others, except that his mother was a Took---well, people tend to forget that bit. But when thirteen dwarves and a wizard show up for tea the next afternoon, Bilbo isn't so sure that he can keep clear of adventures after all. Especially since they seem to have come of their own accord. He doesn't really want to be enlisted as a burglar for a treasure-hunting quest, or does he? One way or another, and with a little help from the wizard, Gandalf, he ends up charging out the door the next morning (without a single pocket handkerchief!) to meet up with this strange company of dwarves. And so begins the beginning of all the adventures. What starts out as, in Bilbo's mind, a simple treasure-hunt, turns into a strange, wonderful, and epic journey across Middle Earth. Maybe they won't all live to see the end of it, and certainly none of them will ever be the same, even our invariable master hobbit. Don't miss this wonderful prequel to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Elements of magic and all that comes with it are present in the book, and our aged mentor happens to be a wizard, but it is written in such a way that most people don't encounter roadblocks. My family enjoys The Hobbit highly.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Post I Owe...

...To the poor, neglected blog (and readers).

Yes, the last couple of weeks were very busy.

The senior recital/open house was pulled off. Whew. That took a lot more time and energy than I thought it would. But it went surprisingly well. I had started coming down with a sinus infection the day before, so I dosed up on Tylenol before the recital. Voice was performing at a kind of "meh" level, but I only had one very bad spot where I actually had to break during a phrase and clear my throat. Hopefully nobody noticed.

But, yeah. Everything else went very smoothly, thanks to the help. I have some very generous friends that loaned time and effort to the event.

(But I never want to go through that ordeal again. No parties of over thirty, thank you very much.)

Then the week after my open house, we did hay.

Uh-huh. My back still aches, and I wasn't even doing a majority of the stacking. Driving the tractor had its shining moments, but for the most part it was hot, greasy, stenchy, thankless work. I do not like harvesting hay. We have one more field to do, and then we'll be finished with first cut. Unfortunately, there are two other cuts to do over the summer, and five fields. So...

Anyway, moving on to brighter subjects.

...I don't have any brighter subjects at the moment. Check for shiny stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Poetry for Thought

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see!

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
'Twas grace that has brought me thus far
And grace will lead me home!

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun;
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Music of the Week

A piece we played at our spring concert with Senior Orchestra and Symphonic Band combined.
A piece that I am learning. ^.^ Fun. (Choreography not included in my version)

Friday, May 31, 2013

From the Word

Listen to Me,
   My people; and give ear unto Me, My nation: for a law shall proceed from Me,
and I will establish My judgement for a light of the peoples. 
My righteousness is near, My salvation is gone forth, and Mine arms shall judge the peoples: 
the isles shall wait for Me, and in Mine arm shall they trust. 
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath: 
for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall grow old like a garment,
 and they that dwell therin shall die in like manner; but My salvation shall be forever, 
and My righteousness shall not be abolished.

Isaiah 51:4-6