Saturday, December 31, 2011

Music of the year

The last day of 2011 feel like it needs a big long list of accomplishments. Unfortunately I didn't seem to accomplished anything profound this year. Nothing write a whole post on anyway.
 Book list?
Nah. Everyone is doing those. Plus a list of titles isn't very interesting.
Ah, now there's a different story... Yes, I think I'll run with that idea. In fact, I think it deserves an impressive title....

Gwyn's List of Profound Music
Discovered in the Year of Our Lord 2011

This has been a great year in music for me; both in my own career and in the continuous hunt for new, inspiring, unique, and beautiful songs. So much so that I have had to narrow it down to my absolute favorites; the ones that fill all the criteria above and otherwise completely blow me away.

+ Now We Are Free - Lisa Gerrard

I picked up the dvd Gladiator(R) at the library this summer, excited to have found another historical-fiction film by director Ridley Scott {The Kingdom of Heaven(2004) | Robin Hood(2009)}, plus Russell Crowe was again the lead actor. While the movie itself was good, it was the music that made it a favorite. I felt I had died and gone to heaven. Hans Zimmer has long been one of my favorite composers, then paired with Lisa Gerrard, the closest I can find to an Enya rival; it's magic. I can't tell you how much this song has inspired me, in so many ways.
 The language in which Lisa sings is her own.

+ Guinevere's Tears - Enaid

What can I say? The Legend of Skyrian in a bottle. I seriously went whoop!-ing around my room after hearing this the first time -- it fits my story so perfectly! The slow mysterious sadness that haunts much of the melody but is brightened in the middle by the merry sounds of pipes reminiscent of a medieval festival, all before plunging back into the achingly beautiful theme from the beginning. That is my story.
 Sweet and nostalgic at first, lanced suddenly with loss and the knowing that nothing will ever be the same. Then comes a time of healing and happiness, long summer days, and the chance to change the future. But those days can never last. The days ahead are daunting. But you are stronger now, and face the dawn with new understanding. Life, though hard, is beautiful.

+ To the Sky - Owl City

Changing gears here, To the Sky is simple joy. It never fails to cheer me up and often times will turn a grey day into something special where I go out and accomplish, rejoicing in the free air.

+ Safe & Sound - Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars

Gives me goosebumps how real and true to the book this song is. Cold, grey melody + heartstring beat and harmony; couldn't be a better song for The Hunger Games. It's good to hear Taylor Swift singing something more deep than her usual, too. She has such a great voice, I wish she would branch out more often.

+ I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - H. W. Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair, I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men.

I was unable to find a suitable video for this as I first heard it on one of my Mum's numerous Christmas albums and can't find the arrangement on the Web. (I see that Casting Crowns has done a rendition of it but cannot recommend it because Youtube is not working for me right now.) However, the potent and timeless lyrics earned it instantly Favorite Carol in my book.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is a Christmas carol based on the 1864 poem Christmas Bells by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The song tells of the narrator's despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that "there is no peace on earth... for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men". The carol concludes with the bells bestowing renewed hope for mankind.

I could go on forever listing songs I love, but these will rank tops for a long time, I think. Please do tell me about you top songs for 2011, and tell me if any of these made you list!

Have a lovely and blessed New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's a wonderful life

...written yesterday afternoon...

Oof. I just got finished with another enormous feast {I say 'another' because, gosh, has it only been two posts since Thanksgiving? Bad Gwyn!}. Once again fit to burst and brimming with the kind of laughter that can only be endured by being silly with the family. I very much hope that you are the same.

 Propped up on my bed surrounded by last night's loot, proudly wearing my paper hat from my Christmas cracker, I type to you of the month's events while the boys play the new Wii game console from the Fat Man himself. But where to begin..?

 I might as well start with today and recount backwards.... I awoke this morn to the tantalizing smell of a turkey in the oven and was shortly thereafter enlisted in the kitchen. I am very proud to say that I did not mess up a single recipe {people who know me well know that I can't even make a cake from the box without mungling it up somehow}. You heard me right. I chopped those celery and carrot sticks to perfection. Plus I handled the olive platter all by my self. That's right. Jealousy abounds.
 While I did well, the turkey didn't fare so well for Mum. While taking it out of the oven the pan crippled and the... the... turkey juice? Ugh, I know there's a name for the drippings..! -- went sloosh back into the oven. All of it. All I could think while I watched (as if in slow motion) was: 'Nooooo! There goes my breakfast of croissants and gravy for the rest of the week! Noooo!'
 Mum and I thought we'd done it then. Our stove is gas so, I don't know. I was thinking a long the lines of nuclear explosion if we turned it on again, and we weren't even half done with the baking. Things were looking grim for Christmas dinner.
 But as it turned out, Da just came along, cleaned up the mucho oven mess, and said it'd be fine. Always the skeptic, I left the kitchen before they turned it on again. If they wanted to spend Christmas without their eyebrows, they could go ahead.
 Here's one of my presents that I got from my brother. Genuine hand-tooled leather journal of the Celtic tradition.
Yesterday was spent mostly in preparation for today; baking and etc. Also, I believe some very last minute shopping was done, but I shall not 'name fingers or point names'...
 Big brother and I played prelude to the candle light services at our church. Little Brother also made his debut there playing The Infant King duet with me {He also plays violin}.
 Once home, the whole family {Biggest Sister flew home the 15th} gathered around the Christmas tree and the gifts were given.

The days proceeding Christmas Eve are rather a blur of monotony. The weather has been cold and windy, sometimes snow, though that's all gone now. We're having a brown Christmas. Thus trapped indoors Biggest Sis, LB, and I played a four hour game of Monopoly on Wednesday {LB won}. Thursday we once again had nothing better to do so I pulled out a mystery puzzle we had gotten for Christmas a few years ago but never had time to put together. It's called Murder on the Titanic (1,000 pieces). You're given a short story to read about two rich twin sisters onboard the RMS Titanic in which one of them is supposedly murdered just before the ship itself sinks. To solve the mystery you put the puzzle together and on it should be the answer. I say 'should' because we haven't actually finished it yet. We're not even positive there was a murder. The story was poorly written. Instead of a mystery its more like reading a first-draft manuscript that someone has taken a shotgun to {lots of holes}. Not exactly a Whodunit? its more of a Waitwhat?? Still, who ever painted {whether digitally or manually} the puzzle picture itself did a beautiful job, even if including a large pink satin gown to take up half the bloomin' thing was a mistake, in my book. I now thoroughly hate that particular shade of magenta.

.... And that's really all. Between the two of us, Biggest Sis and I have consumed at least three boxes of tea, and I've probably eaten my weight in chocolate covered peanut clusters. Add to that new watercolor pencils, The Son of Neptune, cozy sweaters, and the lack of graphing algebra.... I love Christmas break.

Happy Christmas, everyone.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 12, 2011

This crazy life

I know, I know....
If that break in October/November taught me anything it was how to forget blogging. :) Days have passed without a thought of writing. Heh. Be that as it may, I have returned to tell you... things.

Between Then and Now many things have occurred:

 We acquired a Christmas tree. Tramping through the forest on a crisp Sunday afternoon after church on the lookout for the right spruce, I wore my nice brown felt and fur coat {forgetting to bring my Columbia that morning}. I only discovered my mistake of choice after I heard the gun shots. Apparently deer/elk are still very much in season. I hid behind Mum {garbed in a bright pink parka} the rest of the trek.
 Oh, and also on that journey I got my little brother good. Hehe. I dared him to lick a snow drift. Hehehe. He knew something was up but I told him to come off it and called him a chicken. Bwaha. He rolled his eyes and bent over, his tough sticking out. With one swift *boof!* I thrust his head into the fluff and ran for it almost dying with evil laughter - hahahahahaha!

The most stressful of the musical performances are over - hurray!!!! Having them all in one weekend just added fellness to the swoop. But now that that is over I get to play with a viola my brother borrowed from University for  a week. While I would never in a million year trade my violin Dido for one, there is something about the low strings of the viola that evokes the words of the poet who wrote of "dulcet tones". I'm liking it especially on Oh My Boatman/ The Brown Haired Lad; a Celtic {surprise!} song of the saddest nature, so naturally one of my favorites of all time.
Sadly you can't find any of the songs I play on the Web. Ugh. I am going to have to find a way to record these songs so I can share them. Because no matter how good you are with words, music is a language that cannot be contained in a sentence. sigh.
Edit: Thanks to Celtic Traveler who actually found a snippet of this song! You can listen here.
bad photo of fish, one
Meet Prudence. My fish. A late birthday present from my little brother who is fish crazy. He's started his own guppy farm and the beginnings to his very own Sea World. Thus LB believes everyone would be much better off having a flippered friend and so seeks out opportunities to bestow such gifts to those who lack in that department. As for myself, I'm just hoping Prudence lasts more than a week. But I think she hates me. I'll be reading and happen to look up and find her glaring at me from her bowl. Not moving, just staring. Slightly unnerving.
 And she blows and pops bubbles. All night long.
Mum says I'm being ridiculous thinking that a fish loathes my very presence....

Anywho, I hope to return soon with something more inspiring/and/or more deep than today's little diddy. But there you are.

p.s. please vote on the poll!