Monday, April 30, 2012

Favorite Poetry: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets.  I quite envy her ability to express herself in such short poems.  I read once that she wrote all these little pieces during her life and locked them in her desk drawer, where they were found and published after her death.  She never knew she would be famous.

Since they are so short, I'm posting two at once.

This one particularly struck me when I first read it.  I had never thought of victory or success in the way Emily Dickinson portrays it before.

I couldn't find a picture to go with this piece, so I made this with Pixlr.
Success is Counted Sweetest
By Emily Dickinson
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires the sorest need.
Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag today,
Can tell the definition,
So plain, of victory,
As he defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonizing clear. 

It took me a couple re-readings before I understood the point of this second one.  It's the essence of poetical thinking, really. 

via my pinterest

To Make a Prairie
By Emily Dickinson 
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee - 
One clover, and a bee,
And reverie.

The reverie alone will do
If bees are few.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Poll Results + Changes

So...eleven people voted on the poll I set up to help me decide what to change about my blog's design.  That's more than I expected, but considering that I have forty-three followers, not much.  ANYWAY, one person said new header, six said new background, two said completely different layout, three said that they loved it and I shouldn't change anything, and five said to change the tan post background.

Well, so far I've done a new background and taken away the tan.  I think I shall change the header, as well, simply because it doesn't match all that well.  I'm sorry, whoever said don't change anything. (Emily?)  But this is fun. I hope you all like the (still in-progress) new design.  Comment and tell me. :)

Song Saturday

I haven't done this in a long time.

I'm sure most of you know the poem The Lady of Shallot from Anne of Green Gables, don't you?  To be honest, when I first heard this song, I forgot that it was even a poem to begin with.  But anyway, it's lovely, and listening to it is a good way to memorize the poem.  And memorizing poetry always makes one feel cultured and intellectual, doesn't it?  :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We Mourn the Passing of Picnik

...But we do not despair!  For lo, picnik was not the only photo-editing program in the universe! *shocked gasps*

After much frantic searching, I've found two fairly good programs.  I shall proceed to review them for your especial benefit.

First there's  PicMonkey, one of the programs (I think) recommended by Picnik itself.   What's nice about this one is that it is extremely similiar to our dearly departed itself, with a nearly identical setup and much of the same options.  There are two things I dislike about it, though.  The first is that there aren't all that many interesting fonts.  It has a couple quite pretty ones, but there isn't that much of a selection. (At least, not to my font-devouring mind.)  The second thing is that, like Picnik, there are "premium" features that you have to pay for.  What's nice, though, is that they're free for now!  I'm just thinking forward to when the freebies go bye-bye.  I'm not sure how soon it'll be.

The second program I've been using is Pixlr.  It has cool stuff, people.  First of all, it has some elements of the makeup suite we all adored, including airbrush, teeth whiten, and touch up.  Then it has effects.  LOTS of effects, including pop art and lots of choices for old-fashioned-looking photos.  There are also lots of overlays (like the textures that Picnik had).  TONS OF THEM.  Space, fireworks, film leaks... you name it.  It has a fair selection of borders, though a lot of them look the same to me, and I'm not much of a border fan in general.  Pixlr has some stickers, though not much of interest to me.  Enough swirly things to get by with, though.  Last but certainly not least, the fonts.  They are awesome!  Lest I do not do them enough justice, I made a sampling for you of my favorite ones.

One thing I must say.  Though the fonts are extremely cool, they're not exactly what I'd call pretty.  Just unusual and interesting.  There aren't enough swirly-girly ones.  But you can't have everything, right?  (By the way, that pic started out as a photo of trees.  I just did major editing on it so I could use it as a background.) 

Speaking of my pictures, I edited one in both programs so that you could sorta get an idea of what they're like.  I didn't use anything "premium" on PicMonkey, just so you know.

The original


Pixlr.  I didn't realize until now how washed-out it looks. :p

In general, I'd recommend PicMonkey for those who just want an editing program to make their photos look more professional (that is, basic editing), and Pixlr for those who just want to play around and have fun making things look cool.  One thing that I'm a bit disappointed about is that neither program seems to have layering or collage-making capabilities.  That was a bit of a bummer.  But my brother has an old version of photoshop that I'm going install and try to learn how to use, so hopefully I can supplement with that.

So.  Have you used either of these programs?  Which do you like best?  If I've inspired you to try one, tell me what you think, and - dare I say it - tell me if my review was accurate!  TELL ME EVERTHING. 


Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Design?

I'm starting to feel like my blog's looking just a bit fusty and tired nowadays.  It needs to be springified.  I'm itching to redo it, but I'd like to have your input. I'm putting up a poll, and I'd love you if you'd vote on it and/or comment telling me what, in your opinion, should be changed, and what should stay.  It is of course my blog and I shall do what I please, but I'm rather an indecisive person, and I'm curious as to what y'all think of it.

Well, it's sort of relevant.  Kinda.  Maybe.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Rosamund of the lovely blog A Wanderer in the Shadowed Land, as well as Magic, Ink, and Dreams' very own Meggy, have tagged me!

I feel rather popular, being tagged by two people at once.

So.  Rules and Restrictions:

  1. It is imperative that these rules be plainly visible to all who can see and will see your blog. Therefore, post them at the top.
  2. Because random facts about people tend to captivate interest, post 11 personal and insignificant facts about yourself. 
  3. Answer your friend/acquaintance/fellow wanderer's 11 questions as well and as fully as you are able.
  4. Ask 11 more questions on hopefully philosophical orotherwise thoughtful subjects.
  5. Find 11 more  friends/acquaintances/fellow wanderers to tag--gently, please. 
  6. Go to their blogs and inform them of the happy fact that they are now Officially Tagged and Must Do Your Bidding.
I have to inform people that they Must Do My Bidding? Oh dear.  I believe I shall rephrase that.  I haven't got the slightest problem informing my siblings of that all-too-ignored fact, (viz., that they Must Do My Bidding), but I shan't do it to normal other people.

And without further ado (though I dearly love ado), here are eleven insignificant facts about my insignificant self:

1.  I am deathly afraid of spiders.  Well, all bugs, really (except butterflies and ladybugs), but spiders....ugh.

2.  I just re-read They Came to Baghdad and have decided that it's my favorite Agatha Christie so far.  The fact that the main character's name is Victoria may or may not have a teeny bit to do with it, but seriously.  If you haven't read it yet, you Must Do My Bidding and go find it.  (What was that I said about not saying that, again?) It's got likely romance, unlikely romance, twists and turns, exotic locales, and everything else required of a good mystery novel.  It isn't very dark, but I do NOT have a problem with that.  Just warning you in case you were expecting that.  I don't like to be responsible for people's disappointments or mistakes.

3.  I have a strange tendency to wear lots of black.  There are plenty of colors I like, but I just seem to gravitate toward wearing black without thinking of it.  Maybe I'm a ninja in disguise.  Or...not in disguise, if I look like one.  I could totally pull off the whole black mask thing.  (KIDDING.) Anyway, ninjas don't wear skirts.

4.  I was editing pictures a couple hours ago, and for some reason where it says "save photo" I could have sworn it said "save POTO".  As in The Phantom of the Opera.  And I was like, "WHAT? WHY DOES THE PHANTOM NEED TO BE SAVED? O.O"  And then I realized two things.  One, that was crazy weird, and two, I may be morphing into a POTO fangirl.  But I still like Raoul better.

5.  I finally watched The Princess Bride a while ago.  I must say that I do like it, despite it's stupidity.  Buttercup annoys me, though.  And a chocolate pill that revives you from the dead?  Really?  Really?  

6.  Once I get an idea in my head, I get carried away by it and have trouble realizing that I could be wrong.  Yep, I know that sounds pretty prideful.  It is.

7.  My temperament is choleric-melancholic.  If you don't know what that means, you must once again Do My Bidding and look up the Four Temperaments.

8.  I have a newfound obsession with Capitalizing Certain Words.  It's really terrible for a grammar/spelling nazi like myself, but it makes me feel Very Old Fashioned and cute.  (By the way, I rather dislike the word cuteIt's just the only one I could think of right now.)

9.  I have a terrible habit of getting up Really Late.  (There's that pesky capitalization again!)  I shan't say how late, for fear of shocking my innocent readers.  It's a hard habit to break.  

10.  I like studying religion.  But I do not like religion tests.  At all.

11.   I don't like any test, really.  But I do like cheesecake.

Whew, I think I started to go a bit batty at the end there.   But darling, it might get worse, because I now shall answer not eleven, but twenty-two questions, since I was tagged both by Nessima and Rosamund.  (Aren't they both beautiful names?)

Rosamund's first:

1. What was the last book you read?
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  Yes, I have read the Hunger Games trilogy.  If I ever get time I shall write a review.

2. What is the best method of transportation?
Well, I once wrote an essay on the advantages of transportation via roller-skate, but that was just a form of rebellion against stupid essays, and I got a bad grade, even though I personally quite liked my essay.  In all seriousness, though, it depends on how far you're going.  For short distances, feet or a bicycle work wonderfully.  For long distances, I'm fine with cars and planes.

3. Who are your top three modernish authors and your top three classic authors?
Oh, dear. *flees to Goodreads*
Modern-ish: Lloyd Alexander, Agatha Christie, and the only one who isn't dead: Shannon Hale.  (We're gonna take Tolkien and Lewis as a given, here.  Plus I think they may be slightly older than these.)
Classic:  Um...let's say...Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Elizabeth Gaskell.  I daresay I could think of something more interesting if I tried, but I'm not trying.  Picking favorites kills me.

4.  How would you treat Gollum--as Frodo did or as Sam would?
I'm going to have to say as Sam would have.  Gollum disgusts me, and I am not known for forbearance.

5.  What do you love most about the place where you live?
That it's my favorite place in the United States.  It's Virginia, you know?  It's got plenty of trees, lots of flowers, friendly people, lovely Colonial architecture, rivers and a bay and part of an ocean.  It is was part of the Confederacy.  It's the South.  Oops, I forgot it was supposed to be what I love most.  Can't I love all of it most?

6.  What are your two most read books of the Bible?
The Canticle of Canticles and Ecclesiastes.

7.  What is the book you have read the most?
Oh, my.   Probably  Lord of the Rings.

8.  Why do you blog?
 Because it's fun, primarily.  Also, there are so many really nice Protestant blogs on the internet, I just felt like the Catholics need to show their existence a bit more. Finally, it's a way to occasionally attempt to bring others (and myself in the process!) more knowledge of traditional feast days and closeness to God.  And all this is without mentioning my desire to broadcast my other (unimportant) opinions, which I occasionally air for your entertainment (or derision).

9.  If you could rewrite any book, which would it be?
Well, I've often wanted to rewrite Middlemarch.  I wouldn't mind still having it the way it is, but I'd also like to have an alternate version where I make things turn out differently.

10. What is the brightest moment of your week?
Sunday Mass.

11. Your deepest fear?
 Deepest fear?  That I'll waste my life and have nothing to show when I die, then having to suffer the consequences.

Nessima's questions:

1.  What is your earliest childhood memory?
My earliest clear memory is of moving to Virginia for the first time.  I was three, and I remember jumping out of the car and running around the house looking into all the empty rooms.  I remember windows and sunlight and lots of white. It was the first time I was old enough to understand what moving was.

2.  You have a choice of being given any superpower; what is it?
Yikes, that's a hard one.  This may be cheating because it's not a traditional superpower, but I'd love to be able to always recognize truth, both in people's speech and in writing.

3.  Describe to me that outfit in your head, the one you wish you had so badly....
I love doing this.  I'll "make" a spring outfit.  There's a pale blue linen dress, with a swishy skirt and a fitted waist.  A big straw hat, with a wide black ribbon.  My hair done up in a low bun.  Dangly (but not too big) earrings, although I'm not sure that dangly earrings go with hats.  Black shoes with small solid heels that are somehow amazingly comfy.  Oh, and a book.  One I've never read before, with a pretty cover.

4.  What's your favorite instrument?  What comes to mind when you think of this instrument?
I love piano and harp.  When I think of the piano, I think open window, sunny afternoon, elegance, refinement.  For the harp, I think wistfulness, fairy-tale, elvish, soothing... I bet this isn't supposed to be just a collection of adjectives, is it.  Oh well.

5.  Would you rather be divinely beautiful, angelically good, or dazzlingly clever?
 Angelically good.  I'm serious.

6.  Are you more likely to be found in an old attic with your nose in a book, or will you be hanging out at the mall with your besties?
Old attic, no hesitation required.

7.  If you could have been born in any time period (other than your own), which would it be?
Another hard choice.  I'm thinking the High Middle Ages, so I could see what it was really like.

8.  Is your preferred weapon a bow and a quiver of arrows, or a magnificently wrought sword (you're allowed to be all clever and say "wit")?
I shan't say "wit".  I've got that either way.  JUST KIDDING.  If "rapier" were a choice I'd pick that, because I've taken more fencing lessons than archery lessons, and I actually enjoy fencing more.  But I couldn't handle a magnificently wrought sword.  Too heavy and masculine.  (Like rapiers are so feminine...but they seem more so than regular swords.)  So I choose the classic bow and arrows.  Those are safer, anyway, cause you're fighting from a distance.

9.  Your preferred mode of travel?
Answered that already in Rosamund's questions.

10. You hear about a new historical or fantasy movie that is coming out soon. You are:
a) Ecstatic: you're favorite dream-boat of an actor is in it!
b) Super-stoked: the book that it's based on is amazing!
c) Excited to see the costumes, of course!
d) Your favorite composer is doing the soundtrack.  Need I say more?
e) Going just to see the horses which will undoubtedly be gorgeous.
f) Not going at all; there's a new sci-fi thriller out that begs to watched!
 a, b, and c.  Sci-fi isn't my thing.

 11.  Of all the places in the world, the place you love most is:
Oh, my.  NOT New Jersey.  That's the only thing clear in my head.  Let's see, I love Germany and Switzerland and Virginia and forests and lakes and oceans and meadows and mountains.... the place I love most is the place where I'm happy, and I'm happy when I'm surrounded by the beauty of nature.  There, I believe I'm managed to answer and evade the question all at once. :)

Now I must ask eleven of my own questions.

1.  If you had a choice between spending a day in a mountain forest or at the seaside, which would you choose and why?
2.  How do you define true beauty?
3.  What's the one thing that, without fail, will always touch your heart?
4.  What's the one thing that, without fail, will always make you want to scream and yell and generally have a fit?
5.  What is your opinion on parasols?
6.  If an old guy in a pointy hat came to your door one fine morning and asked you to participate in an Adventure, what would you do?  Think about it, now!
7.  Poetry: hate it or love it?  Why or why not? (I sound like a test, sheesh.)
8.  Do you have any passages of literature memorized? Why did you choose to memorize it, if so? (Songs do not count.)
9.  What do you wish most to accomplish by blogging?
10. What do you base your like or dislike of a film on?
11.  Do you believe in the cliche saying "follow your heart"?  Why or why not?

There ya go!  Hopefully they're interesting enough.  Now to tag eleven victims fellow-bloggers. 

Imogen at Dancing with Dragonflies
Emily at Meaningful Words (Poor Emily is always the victim of my tagging!)
Jo March at Scraps from my Workbasket
Liz B at Sunny Side Up  (I'm not sure if she does tags, but I figured I'd give it a shot.)
Mae at Imaginations of a Princess
Miss Elizabeth at The Country Handmaiden
Grace at Puddles of Memories

I'm sorry, I know this is the second time I've "cheated"... I just can't find eleven people.  A lot of the blogs I follow aren't the "taggy" kind. :p  And I'm always nervous that they'll just think I'm annoying.

Well all that was fun.  Sorry it took so long!  I've been writing this post in small bits since Rosamund tagged me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blessed Easter Season to You All!

He is risen, as He said.  Alleluia.
I just wanted to wish my readers a very happy and blessed Easter season and to apologize for not posting during Holy Week.  I had fully intended to have appropriate posts for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, but once they came around I was too tired and busy to do it.  The Triduum was beautiful, though, and I experienced my first-ever Holy Hour. 

I'm keeping everyone in my prayers, as always, and hoping y'all are enjoying the Easter season.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lenten Reflections, Pt. 3

Meditation 129: The Daily Cross
Meditation, p. 380

"He that taketh not up his cross, and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me" (Mt. 10, 38).  By these words, the divine Master expressly declares that one of the indispensable conditions for being Hid disciple is to carry the cross.  The word cross, however, should not make us think only of special sufferings, which, while not excluded, are not generally our portion.  First of all, we must think of those common daily disagreeable things which are part of everyone's life and which we must try to accept as so many means to progress and spiritual fruitfulness.
It is often easier to accept, in a burst of generosity, the great sacrifices and sufferings of singular occurence, than the little, insignificant sufferings, closely connected with our state in life and the fulfillment of our duty: sufferings which occur daily under the same form, with the same intensity and insistence, among endless and unchanging circumstances. [...] Herein lies the genuine cross that Jesus offers us daily, inviting us to carry it after Him - an unpretentious cross, which does not require great heroism, but which does demand that we repeat our Fiat every day, meekly bowing our shoulders to carry its weight with generosity and love.

via pinterest

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