Friday, August 31, 2012

Someday Lists

Lately I've been saying a lot of things like "before I die I'm going to ---" or "someday I'll ---".  So I decided to just make bucket lists.

Why plural, you ask?  Well, because being the pessimistic practical person that I am, I have two lists.  The first is stuff I could conceivably do, if I set my mind to it, and the second consists of things that are improbable or  practically impossible - and, also, things that I forgot to add to the first list.  Oh, and by the way - I hate the name "bucket list".  I prefer to call them "someday lists".  And I don't care if you think that's cheesy, either, so there.

This is the "attainable" list.  (made with Pixlr)

I was going to write out the "impractical" list with Pixlr as well, but I got lazy and busy and stuff, so it's just gonna be in regular text:

 - direct a movie based on an undervalued, movie-less book. 

 - Be an epic, dedicated, real librarian.

 - Be an awesome Catholic, modest singer who single-handedly starts trends of nice skirts and reading Chesterton and being a lady.

 - Become a bestselling, awe-inducing poet or novelist or essayist.  I'm not particular which it is, though novelists are more universally enjoyed than poets or especially essayists.

 -  Go skydiving or some other extremely scary foolhardy activity.  (In real life I've too much sense for this, plus I don't crave such thrills.)

 - Meet somebody and become friends with them, speaking in a British accent the whole time.  They will always think I'm British, and then one day when we've known each other for years I'll casually tell them I'm American.

 - Perform in the kind of play that one pays to see.  (Preferably Shakespeare.)

 - Memorize an entire book.

 -  Give an interview.

 - Travel the world over and see every amazing thing I've ever wanted to.


Do you have a bucket list?  What's on it?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homeschool Tips from a Setonite

via pinterest
Since I've just started twelfth grade (woohoo!) and I know most of you are starting the school year about now as well, I thought I'd share some homeschooler's "helps" to get one through the agony.  I am by no means a whiz at schoolwork, but over twelve years of torture I've had time to discover some helpful little tips and tricks.  I daresay they're mostly common-sense, but since that particular quality is sadly lacking these days, I don't think anyone will notice.

  • Music.  This doesn't work for everyone, but most people will find that there's maybe just one subject that gets done faster or more easily when they're listening to music.  Personally, I need music for subjects that don't take up much brainpower, because if my brain isn't occupied, I get antsy and am likely to just stop doing whatever it is.  I also need music for subjects that frustrate me and for things that I can hardly force myself to do.  (At this point you might be wondering what I do without music.  Wellll.....precious little.  A grand total of two subjects out of seven, to be precise.)  Now, I know tons of people already listen to music while doing schoolwork, but here's the thing: a lot of them listen to the wrong kind.  Face it, most popular music isn't going to help you think.  Sorry darling.  Now, of course everyone has their preferences, but as a rule, calmer music is better, and instrumental is always good.  That doesn't necessarily mean classical, either, though classical is a good choice.  Personally, I like Enya, Mozart, and string-quartet versions of more upbeat songs.   
  • Location.  If you're easily distracted (like me), the revered dining-room-table method is probably the worst choice.  There are always people walking through, yelling in the next rooms, and talking to you when you're trying to work.  Not to mention that eventually your family forgets you're there and thus unwittingly lets you eavesdrop on various conversations.  NOT that I would know anything about that.  *whistles*  Ideally, I think the best thing to do is to change your position for different subjects.  If you always do a certain subject in a certain place, simply going to that place will make your brain prepare for the subject.  For instance, I do math and logic in the dining room (no, I do not follow my own advice), English on my bed, Literature sitting in my rocking chair, science on the couch, and everything else at my desk (which is really a dumpster table, but don't tell anyone).
  •  Food and drink.  One, eat breakfast.  I never do (hate that meal) and then I'm sitting with a math book at ten o' clock about to faint.  It's not conductive to understanding or efficiency.   Two, find out if caffeine really helps at all.  I drink black tea every morning, but it's more to stop hunger than to help me work.  Caffeine can do more harm then good where school is concerned, because it makes you jittery and easily distracted.  Some people are still helped by it, though, so find out what it does for you personally.  Finally, I've discovered that a snack or drink in the afternoon really helps with that 3 o' clock slump.  I haven't tried it in the winter yet, so I'm not sure what would be best, but during the summer I would get a glass of iced tea, juice, a cookie, or some other little thing (often sweet) to nibble or sip while I worked.  It really helped, especially because I always feel a need to occupy my brain whilst I eat or drink.
  • The black hole of procrastination.  I refer to the internet.  This is the biggest no-brainer ever, and yet no one can resist it.  If you can't use sheer willpower (and it's harder than it sounds), just disconnect your computer.  Then that little orange fox (or whatever, dependeding on which internet service you use) is no use, and you are forced to work.  If for whatever reason you can't do that, a lesser solution is to just visit all your pet sites at a stated time.  That way you've seen all the updates and you don't get that curiosity in the back of your mind to check what's new on Pinterest or see if there are any new posts on your favorite blogs.  This isn't a perfect solution because, besides the fact that you've given in to the temptation, you still tend to get lost in the intricacies of blog links or youtube videos and lose track of time, with often disastrous results.  Bottom line, you're gonna have to expend some willpower no matter what, but there are ways to minimize it.
  • Bribe yourself.  "If I finish this essay today, I'll watch an extra episode of _________ later."  Or "I'll have a nice dessert after dinner."  Or whatever it takes.  I must confess that I have been known to give myself the reward even if I don't complete the task.  Don't do that.  It's ridiculous.  You only get the prize if you do the work. And, speaking of indulgence, celebrate your perfect scores.  I remember one of the only times I got 100% on a math test, my mom called my dad and told him, and he brought me back a little fairy craft as reward when he came home that night.  That was in....probably seventh grade.  Now, as a highschooler, you don't expect prizes, and I'm not even saying you should buy yourself something.  Just, tell your family, do a happy dance, and eat a cookie.  Cookies are good for everything.
  • Tell others about what you're doing.  Seriously, this helps.  If you discuss your book analysis with your mom, a sibling, or anyone whom you see very often, you'll get more interested in it yourself.  Plus, they'll often ask you how it's going, and then of course you want to give a favorable answer, so you work on it more and make a better effort than if no knew but you.  If you're lucky (and it doesn't annoy you too much), you can convince someone to nag you about a despised subject or assignment till you do it.  I've tried numerous times to get my mom to force me to work, and she just WON'T DO IT.  Hopefully you have someone more cooperative.  *glares*

Well, hopefully something in that gave you some ideas.   Good luck with the school year!  Say a prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas when you're stuck.  He's the patron saint of scholars.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Essence of Charity

A couple of days ago I came across an extra-beautiful meditation in the book Divine Intimacy, which, as you may remember, I have posted about before.   This one is about the essence of love of God, and I thought it was pretty amazing.  Some of it could apply to human love as well, I think, tying in with that one post I wrote about true love.  But, leaving that aside, it's just lovely.  Read and see:

Meditation 255: The Act of Love
p. 762-763

"To love a person is to desire his well-being.  We understand, therefore, that the essence of love is in the act of the will by which we wish good.  This does not take away from the fact that the act may often be accompanied by sensible affection, making our love both an act of the will and of the sensibility.  Nevertheless, it is clear that the substance of real love is not to be found in the emotions but in the act of the will.  Charity does not change our manner of loving, but penetrates it, supernaturalizes it, making the will and the sensibility capable of loving God.  Yes, even sensible affection can be engaged in the act of supernatural love; God does not despise this humbler and less lofty manifestation of our love for Him, because He has commanded us to love Him not only with our whole mind and our whole soul, but also with our whole heart.  All our powers---intellectual, volitive, and affective---are engaged in the act of love, and yet the substance of this act is not found in the feelings but in the will.  Therefore, when our emotions are cold in our love of God, and we "feel" nothing, there is no reason for us to be disturbed; we will find less satisfaction in our love---for it is much more peasant for us to feel that we are loving---but our act of love will be equally true and perfect.  Even more, lacking the impetus and pleasure which come from our feelings, we will be obliged to apply ourself more resolutely to the act of the will and this, far from harming it, will make it more voluntary, and therefore, more meritorious.  Precisely because the substance of love is in the act of the will that wishes good to God, in order to make our love purer and more intense, Our Lord will often deprive us of all consoling feelings; we will no longer feel that we love God---and this will give us pain---but in reality, we will love Him in the measure that we will with determination what He wills, and want His good pleasure and delight above all things.  Besides, it is not [always] in our power to feel love but it is always in our power to make voluntary acts of love; it is always in our power to wish good to God, striving with all our strength to live for Him and to please Him."

Photograph by me, edited with Picmonkey.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Picking Peaches

Remember my post on apple-picking?  Well, about a month ago, on the coolest day we could find, my family and I drove down long country roads and through lookalikes of the Great Dismal Swamp to a lovely farm which had pick-your-own peaches.  We picked forty-three pounds of the the things, but even so I managed to take lots of pictures.  They came out rather well, too.  (This post is getting up so late because it took me until now to edit everything.)

From the parking lot, we had to walk about half a mile down to the orchard.  Some intelligent people drove down, but we walked.  It was just as well, because I wouldn't have been able to take photos from the car, and I'm not sure our giant of a fifteen-passenger van would have made it down there anyway. 

There was a lovely little pond with a bridge across it, so I got to practice landscape photography.

There was a lot of Queen Anne's Lace growing by that pond.  I love Queen Anne's Lace (or yarrow, as some call it), so I couldn't resist taking pictures of it. 

Now you know what it looks like. Yarrow has medicinal properties, but I can't remember what they are anymore.   

This is the super-edited version of the first photo.  I would love fabric with this print...

I kinda sorta really like this one, even though it's a bit blurry.  It looks so fairy-ish.
Then we reached the actual orchard:

These are nectarines.  Just thought you might be wondering why they're red...

Despite asking me and my mom if every peach they picked was "good," my siblings did pretty well.  All the buckets were at least halfway filled.  (Hence the forty-three pounds.) 

Some of them had to be lifted.
I really like this sepia-toned photo.  Sepia makes everything better, doesn't it? :)
 I thought it was fun.  Orchard peaches and nectarines taste so much better than the grocery-store variety, I promise you.  Really, everything tastes better when it's not from a grocery store.

And yes, I am left-handed.

After we paid, we all sat out on the picnic benches and tried our lovely (and hard-earned) fruit.  I think it was worth carrying an over-ten-pound bucket (plus a sibling's smaller one) half a mile in the noon heat.  I do have a picture of us all sitting around stuffing our faces with peaches, but I'm thinking my mom would kill me if her picture was up here.  She'd say she looked fat, which is, by the way, nonsense.  My mom weighs ten pounds more than I do, and I am not fat.  Anyway, one of my brothers looks like a creep in that picture, and I wouldn't want you get nightmares.  Seriously.  He looks like the Grim Reaper or something. 

When we got home, we cut up and froze about two-thirds of the peaches.  Now my mom won't let us eat any until winter, which I protest is not fair, but she doesn't seem to care.  (I hate it when my sentences unintentionally rhyme...the rhymes are always so dumb. Ergh.)

Speaking of my mom, she did a peach-picking post (ha! Alliteration! Oh my gosh, I am such a poetry geek...) as well.  Voila:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Song Saturday

Summer Rain by Hayley Westenra.  This is one of my favorite of her songs, and I actually found it accidentally:  I bought it mistaking it for another Hayley Westenra song.  (The one I was looking for was Summer Fly.  That's what happens when someone has two songs containing the word 'summer' in the title...I like this one better now, anyway.)

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