Sunday, December 29, 2013


Do you understand how blessed we are to have something so beautiful as starlight?  Besides the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, nothing in common experience so brings home to me the glory and grandeur of God as a starry sky.  Of course, you can see the stars as nothing special, if you're so disposed -- small white dots in a seemingly random pattern against an expanse of dark -- or, worse still, you might never look at them at all.  There is, however, something about these little white dots that never fails to entrance you, if you pay attention, even if you know nothing of the staggering science behind them.

Stars have always fascinated mankind, it seems.  We fashion them into constellations and weave them into stories, we name them, study them, watch them -- sometimes we even attach an unlawful power to them.  They inspire poetry and lend their beauty to prose and painting. They're sprinkled through music, from beginners' piano pieces to great compositions.  For heaven's sake, one of the first nursery songs a baby learns is about the beauty and mystery of a star!  Better yet, stars fill the psalms and prophecies of the Bible, praising God and illustrating His promises, leading the Eastern Kings to the newborn Christ in Bethlehem.  Stars seem to have always caught peoples' imaginations and inspired their creativity, and I think it's fascinating. 

I can see some now, actually, glimmering through the skylight.  Some are faint and far-off, but a few are burning bright, so near that it seems I must be able to catch one, if I climbed just a little way into the sky.  I'd pass above the housetops, above the treetops, to a high silver peak in some distant land, and then maybe, just maybe, I could stretch out my hand and close it over a star.  It would be hot and pulsing, terribly bright and whiter than diamonds and snow and winter sun at midday.  Or perhaps it would be frozen cold and hard, like all the brittle jewels of the earth combined, and more precious than even the most prized of them: a sky-jewel, fit for the crown of the Queen of Heaven and Star of the Sea.

How about it, then: will you go star-searching with me?

*all images via tumblr*

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christus Est Natus, Alleluia!

A very merry, bright and blessed Christmas season to all you dear people, and may God bless you abundantly!

Also, apologies for the lack of posts, but I am leaving in ten days and so, as you can probably imagine, blogging is kind of at the bottom of the list!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Thing that is Happening

I cannot think how to write this post.  I should like to put what I have to say in a way fitting to its importance and general wonderfulness, but I'm at a loss as to how to do that, so I'll just say it out.

I'm going to the convent.

Yes, at long last, it seems to be happening for real.  I obtained permission from the Voice Of Reason and Prudence (my spiritual director, as you may remember from my last post on the subject) to enter the Sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas on January 6th, Feast of Epiphany and also my parents' wedding anniversary.  This past week has been full of sorting through the accumulation of things in my room, agonizing over who should get which of my beloved books, buying many white oxford blouses, among other things, and trying to process the fact that I am almost certainly going.  One stipulation which the aforementioned Voice made when granting me permission (he is so very brilliant, that Voice) was that I visit these two Sisters who do charity work in Boston first, so on Monday I will be making yet another plane flight to yet another part of the country to visit yet another group of Sisters.  I am very lucky.  I always loved traveling, and I have been able to do quite a lot of it in this past year!  It's a nice gesture from Our Lord, I think, to let me get in so much traveling before I am consecrated to Him and bound to stay, perhaps, in the same place for the rest of my life.  (Of course, I may do more traveling as a Sister than I ever have in the world -- God likes to have His little jokes like that, making me think I'm stationary for good and then moving me all over the place.  We shall see.)

This is the church, Our Lady of the Sun, seen from the side.
As I said, I am having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that I'm going.  I'm so excited, but at the same time I'm a bit bewildered.  I have gotten quite giddy over the whole thing multiple times since permission was given, but I fully realize how serious a thing it is that I am doing.  I have a shadowy idea that really I ought not to attempt to think through it too much.  I have thought and thought and thought for over a year now, and any more thinking is sure to be unhelpful. There comes a point, you know, when the time for thinking is over, and all that's left is to do. I ought simply to relinquish myself to God and just accept whatever He drops on me. 

It's rather unbelievable that I shall be "Sr. Victoria" in a little less than a month.  My mind does a double take when I see that spelled out, it seems so unreal.  But I cannot wait.  I'm looking forward to everything -- even wearing multiple layers under the Arizonian sun.  I can't wait to be anxious that my veil's on straight, that I'm following protocol correctly, that I'm doing well in my classes.  I can't wait for Arizona's strange and foreign appearance waiting for me each morning at 6:30,  for Daily Mass, the entire Rosary, obligatory silence, and the Divine Office.

This is one of the gates to the convent building, seen from the inside.  I love the gates and the ironwork because they make is seem so much more cloister-y.
I'm going to really regret this post if something happens out of the blue and I can't make it, let me tell you -- or if I end up being sent home!  Goodness me.  Please pray for me that everything goes according to God's plan and that I'm not too severe of a trial to my superiors!

Oh yes -- and I have heard from others that sometimes one must delete her social media accounts before entering a convent, so... I may end up having to delete Sunlight and Shadow.  I don't know yet, nobody's said anything, but just so you know.  It may happen.

Happy feast of St. Lucy, by the way!

Arizona as seen from the entrance to the convent.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Favorite Poetry/Meditation: "Mary"

Happy day-before-St. Nicholas Day!  :)  In my family, this is "Black Peter Day" - Black Peter is a little man dressed all in black who sort of heralds St. Nicholas by dropping little presents (which may or may not have been purchased from the dollar store a few days beforehand) in various people's paths the day before his feast.

But I am not here to talk about Black Peter or even dear old St. Nicholas, Puncher of Heretics.  (If you don't know that story, you're missing out, let me tell you.)  Today I am here to give you yet another poem and meditation.  I have this lovely meditation book by the Daughters of Mary which has many beautiful reflections in it, and I found one especially good one about Our Lady in it a couple of days ago while I was looking for something to push me into keeping Advent properly.  (If well begun is half done, I haven't even started yet.)  I'm not entirely sure that it could be called a poem, but it is formatted like one, so I shall.
It's particularly appropriate to think about Mary during Advent, when she carried Our Lord, and even more so since this Sunday marks one of her greatest feasts, the Immaculate Conception.
By the way, the author of this poem/meditation/thing, Archbishop Alban Goodier, was a wonderful writer of spiritual books, and I definitely recommend anything by him.

from The Life that is Light by Alban Goodier.

She had been foreshadowed by many,
Yet no one recognized her.
She was conceived immaculate,
And no one knew.
The Angel saluted her "Full of grace,"
And not a soul knew.
He told her the Lord was with her,
Told her she would be the Mother of God,
And not even Joseph knew.
To all she was just "a virgin espoused to a man,"
And her name was Mary.
No more.
Elizabeth saluted her,
"Blessed among women,"
Called her the Mother of her Lord.
Wondered that she should come to her,
Yet no one else knew.
She was only a child of Nazareth,
And "Could any good come out of Nazareth?"
She was the Mother of a Child,
In a carpenter's cottage.
 She was that to men and no more.
Men assumed they knew her,
She was easy to know.
"His mother, do we not know her?"
Yet how little did they know!
Mary, "the Handmaid of the Lord"
Mary espoused to the Carpenter
Mary "understanding not"
Mary "pondering in her heart"
Content to be no more.
Yet how much more she is
Mary, Mother of God
Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ
Whom "all generations shall call blessed."

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I can hardly believe that Advent is already upon us!  It's one of my favorite seasons, but it always seems to sneak up on me, nevertheless.

Advent, it seems, is one of the most misunderstood liturgical seasons.  I believe most of my followers know these things already, but let me reiterate: Advent is a penitential season.  The color is purple, the universal color of penance in the liturgy.  You should not be eating a bunch of chocolate, playing Christmas carols, and going to multitudinous Christmas parties during Advent.  (I understand that sometimes one is constrained to attend a party - that's obviously an exception.) Trust me, your Christmas will be much more joyful if you've been doing penance for four weeks!

So what should you be doing during Advent?  Well, there are plenty of traditions to choose from, but in general, Advent should have a theme of recollection and detachment from the world: one should try to separate oneself from frivolities like movies (and TV shows), desserts, secular music, etc.  If we think about it even a little, we can find plenty of things that we do all the time which simply have no value (facebook, tumblr, youtube, movie/TV-show-marathons, I'm looking at you here) and that we would benefit from cutting out of our lives as much as possible.

Now, it's very important to make our penances and sacrifices not just a negative thing -- I mean negative in the sense of taking something away.  Yes, you subtract things from your life, but it's pointless unless you fill up that space with holy things.  Advent is a great time for taking up daily meditations and catching up on your spiritual reading.  Take the time when you would be browsing your favorite websites or watching super-lame Classic Who episodes (not that I have ever done such a thing) and read a spiritual classic or the lives of the saints, say a rosary, make a meditation, make an extra effort to prepare properly and give thanks for your Communion, do an act of charity.  These are all positive things which fill up the void that we usually try (ultimately unsuccessfully) to satisfy with senseless entertainment.

Because I have a special pet peeve against inappropriately-timed Christmas music (I can look at the floor to avoid gaudy decorations, but there's no salvation from horribly-adapted carols), I made you all a special 8tracks playlist of appropriate music for Advent. I hope you enjoy it, and may your Advent be truly blessed!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Favorite Poetry: Fire and Ice

This is one of my favorite Robert Frost poems -- I like poetry that lingers in the back of my mind, and this poem always has.  Also, I admit to always being interested in apocalyptic speculations, so when I think of it, I always wonder exactly how the actual destruction of the world will take place.  I doubt it will end in ice, but fire of some sort seems likely...or perhaps God will simply stop thinking about it, and it'll blink out like a snuffed candle.  That seems most likely to me.
Well, enough rambling.  Sorry it's such a short poem!

Fire and Ice
Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
  Some say in ice.
  From what I've tasted of desire
  I hold with those who favor fire.
  But if it had to perish twice,
  I think I know enough of hate
  To know that for destruction ice
  Is also great
  And would suffice.

Images from Google Images.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

{Not} Learning Patience & Arizonian Adventures

Honestly, I'm writing this post because I can't think of anything more interesting to write about and it's been two weeks since my last post.  I'm nearly certain that being at a loss for something to write about is a direct result of actually having time to write.  Murphy's law and all that.

So, two months ago (has it really been that long???) I visited the Sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas near Phoenix, AZ, liked it, and talked with the Sister in charge about becoming a postulant.  I was ready to enter as soon as possible, but then my long-suffering priest (a.k.a The Voice of Reason And Prudence Who Is Always Making Victoria Do Hard Things) recommended that I wait and try one more convent before making a final decision.  So from thence I embarked on another stage in the ongoing saga of Victoria Learns Patience (except not really cause I'm still impatient) - this time, through waiting for letters from the second convent I contacted.  This process took about a month altogether, just to find out in the end that they don't have visitors' accommodations and they don't accept postulants until the end of August.  Bummer.  So now I'm waiting for the aforementioned priest-a.k.a-voice-of-reason to, in his words, "figure something out" and then inform me what the something is and how I'm going to do it.  I'm telling you, when I write my autobiography (because of course my life will be worth one) I shall call it The Waiting Game.

The convent of the Sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas - El Mirage, AZ.  (photo mine)

Incidentally, Arizona has captured something in me - I wouldn't say my heart, but definitely something in me is attracted to something about it.  Despite its extreme lack of grass and trees and clouds, I still liked it.  Perhaps it was simply because that's where the Sisters are, or even just because it's so new and completely different from anything I am used to.  I don't know.  But the two-and-a-half uncannily bright, hot days I spent there are pretty deeply seared into my imagination - pun intended.  Especially the first morning (I arrived at night), when I opened the door at fifteen minutes past six to singing birds, cactus flowers, and a strange landscape soaked in dazzlingly golden light.  (It was even better because it was early enough that it hadn't gotten hot yet.)

(also mine)

On the way back I had more plane adventures involving switched flights, a thing that was actually not a boarding pass, Victoria-caused security breaches, and sitting in Washington-Reagan airport eating Cinnabon at 10:00 P.M.  My dear readers, heed my warning: DO NOT eat Cinnabon, especially that late at night.  It will make you very sick.  I have since sworn never to eat anything from that place again.

Oh yeah, and if you're ever in the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport, do yourself a favor and get a burrito from the burrito place, the name of which, if I ever knew at all, I don't remember.  You'll know it by the fact that said burrito costs ten dollars.  But it is large and extremely delicious and will haunt your dreams for a long time afterwards.

 I cannot think of anything else to say and I have an unconquerable desire to end this post by saying "THE END" in big letters.  I am not fighting this temptation.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Things Saints Taught Me {Feast of All Saints}

*Sorry this got up so late at night.  I set it to publish automatically and apparently I did something wrong.*

A happy and blessed feast of All Saints to you all!  Please visit the ever-trusty Fisheaters for customs and a reading for today's glorious feast.

A few nights ago I was discussing spiritual reading with an acquaintance (online, of course...), and I realized how many basic truths have been driven home to me by reading lives of the saints or their writings.  Sometimes you just need another person's example to make things clear.  So, in honor of this celebration of all saints, both known and forgotten, I have listed the saints from whom I've learned things with the lesson learned, put as simply and briefly as possible.  (That was hard, by the way, especially for Therese and Teresa, on whom I probably could have expounded for multiple paragraphs. So if any of you want explanation or expounding, I will give it gladly.)

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Abandon yourself to God's Will.

St. Francis of Assisi

Truly live the Gospel.

St. Teresa of Ávila

Through grace, we can be elevated to complete union with God.

St. Catherine of Siena

"Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire."

St. Augustine of Hippo

No matter how great your sins have been, there is hope through repentance and amendment.

St. Thomas Aquinas

The greatest human achievements are as nothing compared to the majesty and glory of God.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


The lovely Mrs. Clare Asper of Come Further Up has a weekly post called {teatime} where she discusses the sorts of things friends do discuss over tea.  Yesterday she tried something new - a video format!  As soon as I saw her video I knew I had to make one too, so, a new youtube account (with a nom-de-plume), some slow processing, a bout of crippling stage-fright, and many venomous thoughts towards Google later, it was done.  Now I can't get it to come up in the video box here on my blog, so I'm afraid I'll just have to give a link.  I do apologize.

I do ramble a little, and a few times I totally could not figure out how to phrase what I was trying to say.  But I enjoyed the experience, and I'm looking forward to next time Clare has a teatime video!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Photography: Kentucky.

Last month my family and I went on a roadtrip to Kentucky to visit old friends and see if my parents would like to retire there.  (Results: one doesn't, the other seems undecided.)  Anyway, I took the opportunity of a hike around the campground wherein we stayed to practice a bit of photography - I've been really neglecting this hobby lately, and it was a gorgeous place.  I think the photos came out rather nice, all things considered, so I decided to share them.  Also I haven't posted anything in a while and I'm drawing a blank, so this is to fill it. 

I know that these first two are a bit over-edited, but I can't help it.  I like things to look "atmospheric," for lack of a better term, and because I'm not artistic enough, this is the way I get the atmosphere right.  Deal with it.

I'm pretty sure this is a cornflower.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but they are just the loveliest blue...

These are my boots.  I'm quite fond of them.  Awkward angle, I know, but I couldn't stop long enough to set up a good picture.

About the above picture: there were various water pumps stationed throughout our walk, so of course they must be tested.  As my siblings' wet clothes testified, the pumps worked.  My baby sister shown is obsessed with water, and was gleefully squealing "wa-wa!" the whole time.  (She also thinks that fire is wa-wa, but I've explained that it is something very different.  I'm not sure she listened.)

Truth be told, I'm obsessed with water too.

Isn't it beautiful? It's like a watercolor painting, the lake is so still.  Yet there was a lovely little breeze blowing as we walked.

I am in love with the light in this picture.

Yes, that is my hair.  Don't ask.  (Okay, I was proud of the focus.  It's not easy to focus correctly while holding a camera behind your head with no mirror.)

Though I don't fancy living there, Kentucky is a gorgeous state and I'm glad I got to visit it.  Seeing new places is always exciting.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Novels and Why I Won't Write Them

I was told today that I should write a novel. I have absolutely no expectation of doing anything of the sort, but I do rather miss the thrill of writing, the feeling of a story flowing out of me and onto the page, sitting in one spot for hours and then emerging from the screen like a diver coming out of the sea. My writing is an uncertain and undirected thing, but, no matter its flaws, it can be so vivid to me that I think it actually happened. I have, while doing something completely innocuous, had an image flash through my head which I could not place, and after trying to remember for some while when it happened, realize that it was simply something I imagined for a story. 

But I cannot write a novel. I am not humble enough. I would want it to be real and fantastical, beautiful and painful, true and subtle. And if it fell short (which it inevitably would), I would give it up in frustration. I do not even know that I am capable of writing a worthless novel. My imagination is very useful for scenes and impressions, but I cannot sustain it for the length of a book. I cannot draw the reader in and capture him or her, not letting go until the last page. At least, I do not think I could. We never really know what we're capable of, do we?

I am much more comfortable with nonfiction. Nonfiction, whether it be about facts, or ideas, or feelings, is limited and safe. If I write about myself, I am limited by what I am; if I write about an event, I am limited by its duration; if I write to inform, I am limited by what I know. Fiction is an an endless expanse of nothing just waiting for someone to take some of it and craft it into a limitless variety of details and personalities and storylines. Perhaps fiction is simply a higher art than nonfiction. When God created the world, He created, in a manner of speaking, a work of fiction. That is not to say that it wasn't (and isn't) real: it's as real as anything material can be. But insofar as God created something where before there was nothing, something detailed and linear and complete, with original characters and plot and settings, He created a novel – a beautiful, terrible, fantastical fairy tale. And all the tales that came after are simply shadows of the one real story – the story that each and every one of us, from Adam to the Apocalypse, is part of. And that is why novel-writing is beyond me: it is too large and terrifying a task for my puny talents. I shall stick to writing about novels (among other things), for the present, and perhaps, in five years, or ten, or thirty, I may find myself capable. Or perhaps not, and that's all right too. Novels are not the only form of beauty we humans can create. There are so many, and we must each simply find which one is meant for us.

All images via tumblr.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Of Expectations

*Taken from a diary entry written on August 29th.  Yes, I am incredibly premature.  I have been since I was born - literally.*

I've been thinking about winter.  I've always had a long "preparation season" for the cold months, though I certainly don't long for them like I long for summer in January.  But the thing is, my visions of summer are usually not quite fulfilled, while my expectations for autumn and winter, being more realistic, often are.  I envision summer as a sunlight-soaked time interspersed with storms, with most of one's time spent outdoors.  Books, iced tea, flowers, companionship, and pretty dresses are almost always involved in these imaginings.  But, in my experience, one get a few days like that in spring or early summer, and then it's just moping around the house trying desperately to employ oneself (or trying desperately to finish school), surrounded by equally bored and very quarrelsome siblings, with the cold, stale air conditioning poisoning the air.  Don't get me wrong, there are lovely moments in every summer - it's just not like I imagine it during the winter.  When I look forward to the cold months, though, I know I'm going to spend at least part of it freezing and exhausted (being cold makes me painfully tired sometimes), hungry (that too), and desperate for fresh air but not willing to freeze my nose off for the sake of an all-too familiar prison-walk round the neighborhood.  But I also know that there will be fires and autumn walks (before the nose-freezing time) and, later, Advent candles and eggnog and beautiful Christmas ceremonies - not to mention cozy sweaters and tea and boots and berets and many batches of fresh cookies.

Bring it on, Autumn. 

(No, seriously, bring it on.  Stop with the green leaves and almost-ninety high temperatures already.)

All images mine.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: The Shadow Things by Jennifer Freitag

Once upon a time, a very long while ago, Mrs. Jenny Freitag of The Penslayer held a "guess & giveway" where she listed the chapter titles of her book The Shadow Things and had her readers guess which one was her favorite and why.  The winner received the book. To my intense surprise, I was one of  the three people who guessed correctly, and to my even greater surprise (and extreme excitement), I won. Many moons later, I bring you this post.

This is a lovely book.  It's the kind of story you just plunge into and stay absorbed in until you reach the last page and heave a contented sigh.   At first I was disappointed that it was so slim, but it was the perfect size for the story, and created in me an insatiable thirst to read more of the author's work.  I can't wait till her next novel gets published.

Here is the summary from the back cover. (Speaking of covers, I approve of the design of this one.  So many first novels have very amatuer-ish covers - this is not one of them.)
The Legions have left the province of Britain and the Western Roman Empire has dissolved into chaos.  With the world plunged into darkness, paganism and superstition are as rampant as ever.  In the Down country of southern Britain, young Indi has grown up knowing nothing more than his gods of horses and thunder; so when a man from across the sea comes preaching a single God slain on a cross, Indi must choose between his gods or the one God---and face the consequences of his decision.
The writing of the story is colorful, with some unusually-worded sentences and gorgeous imagery.  The time period is an interesting choice, I think -- many newly-published writers start off with fantasy or some part of the 1800's (Regency writers, totally looking at you), but Mrs. Freitag chooses the Dark Ages in Britain, just as Christianity began to show its bright face in the British Isles.  The author is Protestant, but to my knowledge there is nothing against the Faith in the beautiful passages in which the main character learns about Christianity.  Naturally, being a Catholic, I would love to see baptisms and Masses, but the story is told in such a way that I can imagine that they are there and just didn't make their way into the visible action of the novel.  The way certain characters truly follow the life of Christ is touching, and got me thinking on how much more seriously and literally the early Christians took God's Word than we do today.  It is a pity.  (Read a life of Francis of Assisi, and you'll get the same sort of bewildered "wait...oops...we're actually supposed to be doing all this, aren't we?")

Jenny Freitag often cites Rosemary Sutcliff as one of her inspirations, and it is thanks to her that I ever picked up a Rosemary Sutcliff novel.  (If you're wondering what I think of them, words that come to mind are vivid, sad, detailed, and long.  I like them, but find them a bit more boyish than my general literary choices.  I am not fond of battles.)

For those who have read the book and are knowledgeable about these things, does the white horse-god Tir in the book have any connection with the White Horse of Chesterton's epic?  I rather hope he doesn't, but I have suspicions.

I think the book is appropriate for ages twelve or thirteen and up.  Children die and some talk of a character's relations with his wife takes place, but briefly and very tastefully, considering the character speaking.  As always, it depends a great deal on the maturity of the reader.
Four and 1/2 stars.

"Paul writes that creation groans, awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.  It remembers, I think, in dreams, the wonders of the sinless, perfect world.  You can hear it in the wild tinkle of the wind through the beech leaves, the splashing of  water through cold, crystal streams, the beauty of a hind poised against the sky on a hilltop, and all through heartbreaking, beautiful things that surround us each day.  They are memories, dear Indi, memories of long-lost days when God walked with man and all was well, when the lion lay down at peace with the lamb, when the wolf and pony ran together on the heights and laughed at the joke the mockingbird made."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Favorite Poetry: In a Library

I'm going to honestly confess that, having noticed that I haven't posted in forever, I ambled over to Project Gutenberg and scanned Dickinson poetry until I found something suitable.  My life has been pretty full the past few weeks - and it will continue to be so at least until October - hence the neglect of this blog.  Sorry about that.  But anyway, though I have just discovered it, this is a lovely poem (what poem of Emily Dickinson's isn't, really?) and I'm glad I found it.

In a Library
by Emily Dickinson 

A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is 
To meet an antique book, 
In just the dress his century wore; 
A privilege, I think, 

 His venerable hand to take, 
And warming in our own, 
A passage back, or two, to make 
To times when he was young.

His quaint opinions to inspect, 
His knowledge to unfold 
On what concerns our mutual mind, 
The literature of old; 

What interested scholars most, 
What competitions ran 
When Plato was a certainty. 
And Sophocles a man; 

When Sappho was a living girl, 
And Beatrice wore 
The gown that Dante deified. 
Facts, centuries before, 

He traverses familiar, 
As one should come to town 
And tell you all your dreams were true; 
He lived where dreams were sown.
His presence is enchantment, 
You beg him not to go; 
Old volumes shake their vellum heads 
And tantalize, just so.
Pictures via Tumblr.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In Which I Drown You In My Indifferent Graphics

You all probably know that I enjoy making graphics and that I'm not specially good at them.  Well, I've been making a ton, especially since school ended, and I do believe I've gotten a little bit better.  I thought you might like to see some of what I've done -- I know I always like to see others' graphics.  I can always learn something from them.
Oh yes -- feel free to use them, they're mostly not watermarked so credit if you like, if not I don't really care.  I never really understood the whole DON'T STEAL MY WORK thing that much.... as long as you're not selling it, why fuss?  It's just a digital image.

All my images are made with one of three photo-editors: iPiccy, PicMonkey, and Pixlr.  (Why do they always have to have rather silly names?)  They're each good for different things, so sometimes I'll use all three in one image.

First come the ones that can be used as desktop backgrounds.  I tire of desktops quickly, and so make a lot of new ones. If you use one, be aware that sometimes I don't measure the ratios right and then they're a bit too long or too short - also, mine are made for a 16:9 screen.

This was my first try-out of iPiccy, and I was quite proud of it, though I have since decided that it's not as wonderful as I at first thought.  The battle-cry of the Cristeros has always inspired me - I used to write it on the inside covers of my school notebooks, and it would make me feel very brave and ready for battle - a sentiment often necessary for the completion of math exercises -- or English essays -- or French exams. 

Despite my love of quotes, I always draw a blank when I go to make a graphic, hence the generally famous quotes I use.  I would much prefer obscure quotes, as I prefer most anything obscure, but when the time comes I never remember what I wanted to use.  I rather like this particular image, and surprisingly it took very little time.

I think a desktop for purity, strictly speaking, ought to contain more light and brightness than this does, and I couldn't find an image of a lily (symbol of purity) that worked, but other than that I am rather fond of this one.

If you couldn't tell, this image was the result of my love-affair with The Ballad of the White Horse.  The watermark is there because I posted it on Tumblr, and didn't save a non-watermarked version.
I know the stanza I chose sounds depressing, but I just love it because Our Lady gives Alfred no comfort and tells him that things are just gonna get worse, and yet he still gains strength to fight back that he didn't have before.  I haven't explained it well, but it's just such a delicious oxymoron to me, and before I read the poem, I had never thought of Christianity as journeying "gaily in the dark."  It's just a beautiful idea, and this little snippet reminds me of it when I'd rather "spell the stars/And times and triumphs mark" than be going gaily in the dark.
Perhaps I should not talk about my love-affair with this poem in the past tense.

The rest of these are not strictly desktops, though they can be used as such if you don't mind the not fitting.

This was the result of studying "Elegy in a Country Courtyard" and reflecting on how much wailing and keening and rolling in melancholy poets do.  "Fell in love with melancholy" indeed.  I don't know if you can even read all the quotes.  It was an exercise in trying out a slightly different style, and I'm still not sure what I think about it.

My mom wrote out this quote for me instead of giving me a lecture -- and it worked.

These words are from a poem by a Catholic author named Joseph Mary Plunkett about how everything in nature reminds him of Our Lord.  It's a beautiful poem, and this line especially caught my fancy.  One of the many pictures I have taken of the ocean from Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks worked perfectly as the backdrop.

The background in this graphic is a photo taken by me at Round Top, NY, when I visited the convent there. The quote is from the Regina Spektor song "The Call."  Another instance of me trying out a different style.

Well, I do believe that's enough for now.  If you made it to the end of this post without skimming and skipping...thank you.  If not, I totally don't blame you.

Tell me, do you have any tips for me? Questions?  General comments?  You know I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Things Learned

Having come across this post by Raewyn while lazing about reading other people's posts when I was supposed to be writing my own, I thought I'd join in on this "things learned in August" link-up, because I have learned a lot of things in August, both important and very non-important.  I am also supremely glad that it will be over tomorrow, so I'm celebrating.  Visit the original post here.

1. I was not meant to join the Daughters of Mary.  I was following my own will in pursuing it, not God's.

2.  You actually have to work to be holy, and you don't get to just choose to not be.  And you can't do anything by yourself but need God's grace if you're going to have any strength at all.  It's like expecting to have energy without ever eating.

3.  Speaking of eating, I also learned that pesto paninis are the best Friday dinner ever. All you do is put provolone, pesto, red onions, tomatoes, avocado, and red or orange bell peppers in a roll and stick it in a buttered pan or panini press until it's browned and melty and beautiful.  Then you eat it.  And it's delicious.

4.  I am super-duper unbelievably lucky to know two people who love literature at least as much as I do, and I am even more blessed to be being paid by one of them to listen to some absolutely lovely literature lectures and write about them.  It's temporary, but it's my first job and a dream job - one I never dreamed of, but a dream job nevertheless.  The other person is subjected to small bursts of email-ranting on Dickinson, Tolkien, Dickens, and the like, and far from objecting, responds in kind.

5.  Speaking of literature, I learned through the aforementioned lectures that Emily Dickinson is basically queen of the poetical universe.  She is definitely my favorite poet now.

6.  Sleeping in is way overrated.  Enough said.

7.  Bringing up authors again, one biggish thing I've learned in August is that spiritual reading is actually...not painful.  I've read a ton of religious books (partly because the only way I can make myself behave remotely well is to constantly remind myself by reading), and the most eye-opening spiritual book I've read this month was definitely The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila -- her autobiography. (Note: I have not read the version in the link and don't know if it's altered or a weird translation or anything, so don't blame me if it is.)  That book is just -- stunning.

8.  I am not cut out for being a stay-at-home daughter.  I have always been an independent person and I always told my mom I'd move out as soon as I turned eighteen.  That's not exactly happening, but I'm still joining a convent as soon as I find one, so hopefully I will still move out when I'm eighteen.  I never had any desire to be a stay-at-home daughter, and having finished school and being "almost grown-up" has just intensified that opinion. 

9.  I love English country dancing/square dancing.  I knew this already, but an impromptu, music-less lesson in the park by one of the girls from church a few weeks ago reminded me.   I don't know what it is about it, but it's so much fun.

10.  I am an autumn girl, and there's nothing I can do about it.  I was born in October, but I always insisted that I liked summer best.  And while I do like summer, it's always tainted by air conditioning and boredom and (up till now) the stress of overdue schoolwork.  The *idea* of summer is still my favorite, but in the real world, fall is best - the part that still above 45 degrees, that is.  I am looking forward to the cooler weather.

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