Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December 1

It's December at last!

A very warm welcome to you all on this snowy day, as we begin our annual Musical Advent Calendar here at "I Can Fly, Just Not Up". Every day until Christmas, I will feature a new carol for your listening enjoyment. Be sure to check in regularly, as each musical selection will only be posted for twenty-four hours. Every piece of music has been carefully chosen to reflect what I believe are the most beautiful arrangements available this Christmas season, and I hope that you will enjoy each one.

There is nothing I love more than sitting quietly and listening to music, especially at Christmastime. During this often frantically busy season, it is good for the soul to take a few moments for oneself, to remember what all of the hoopla and celebrations are really about: the birth of Jesus Christ.

Relax, rest and enjoy, my friends. And, a very happy Christmas to you all.

The Wexford Carol
"Carul Loch Garman", "Carúl Inis Córthaidh"

Performed by: The Cambridge Singers

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending his beloved son.
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide,
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass:
From every door repelled, alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox's stall.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God's angel did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
"Prepare and go," the angels said,
"To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you'll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born."

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God's angel had foretold,
They did our Saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side a virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star,
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay.
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah was,
They humbly cast them at his feet,
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

This beautiful Irish carol originates from Enniscorthy, County Wexford, and is one of the most ancient in the European tradition. The tune is somewhat unusual, as it seems far too "jolly" and lilting to reflect Medieval music, and yet neither does it exactly fit the Irish folk music of the time. Presumably, this carol was originally written not only to tell the tale of Christ's birth, but also to express the joy of Christmastime... such is the beauty of the carol tradition: a departure from the solemnity of religious rites, and an expression of human celebration. The words may well have changed through the years of oral tradition, and then through translation into different languages, but the lovely sentiment remains.

Dating from the twelfth century, "The Wexford Carol" is one of the best known of the Kilmore Carols Cycle. In total, there are thirteen carols in the cycle, eight of which are sung during the Christmas period. The first is sung at Mass on Christmas Day, and the last on the Sunday that is nearest to the Twelfth Day. The annual singing of this ancient carol cycle has occurred at the tiny village church in Kilmore for over two hundred years. They were first introduced to the parish by the Very Rev. Peter Devereux, who was Parish Priest circa 1751. The beautiful carols are handwritten in a leather-bound book- the work of Mr. Richard O'Neill, a famous old schoolmaster.

It has long been a tradition at this church that these carols be sung by men only. The singers consist of six local gentleman, and the group has always included a member of the Devereux family, a tradition that is being continued to the present day. The singers divide into two groups of three, and each group sings alternate stanzas.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A little bit of awesome...

Arthur Christmas!

If you are feeling like I am this November, you are probably in need of a serious drop-kick into some "Christmas Spirit". Well, a few hours of this film should do you very nicely, just as it did me this very afternoon, with my own girlies, my sister, and a couple of nephews in tow. The 3-D effects are spectacular, and giggle-fests abound! It's the first thing I shall purchase in the New Year, once it hits DVD... one of the best holiday films I've ever seen, which I plan to enjoy with my family over and over again, in years to come.

It's been a very busy few weeks, as I've been teaching my very first grade three class! Next to the births of my children, it's been the hardest and most rewarding thing I've ever done in my whole life...

But I'm now feeling refreshed, renewed and downright EXCITED to begin writing this year's Musical Advent Calendar... Stay tuned, dear readers, as I plan once again to post some of the Christmas season's most beautiful music.

See you on December 1st!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November-- ALREADY??!

Holy cow, it's been awhile, people.

I wish I knew a better way to jostle my way back into the blog-o-sphere than to just bombard you with random "bullets"... but honestly, after so many months away from you all, I can't figure out a more efficient way to catch you all up.

So, here goes:

-I DID IT. My greatest accomplishment this year was to be hired on to teach for a major Ontario board of education. It took several years of volunteering in schools, some fairly shameless schmoozing, and finally, ASKING certain people-of-influence to help me obtain an interview opportunity. Considering that we graduate over 20,000 new teachers in this province every June, and there are countless more unemployed educators just champing at the bit for work... just my getting in the door for a preliminary chat-and-once-over was no small feat. It was nothing short of miraculous to finally be selected from the thousands upon thousands that applied. Now, I'm eligible to apply for "LTO" (long-term occasional) work, and am hoping to be called fairly regularly for daily supply jobs, until I manage to somehow magic up a contract opportunity. Teaching is what I was meant to be doing, all this time-- I think I've known it since I was a very small child. But, as the Dixie Chicks put it, I guess I just took "The Long Way Around". After all, sometimes the detour makes you appreciate the final destination that much more. It's still going to be a struggle to find a "niche" for myself, and I'm wrestling with a certain amount of nervousness and lack of self-confidence... but, I'm trying. I'm pushing myself. I'm learning.

-KNIT THROUGH IT. I've been taking my mantra of the past four years very much to heart these past months. Whenever things have seemed impossible, or dire, or just plain glum-- I've picked up my needles. The worse I feel, the more complicated the knitting pattern needs to be. There has been lace: openwork so full of yarn-overs, and fibres so fine, I haven't been able to think of anything more than the movements of my fingers, and the constant counting (and cursing) in my head. It's wonderful when a project is done, to think that something beautiful came out of a period of time when a nervous breakdown might otherwise have been in order. On the flip-side, there have been other projects; much calmer ones in straight garter or stocking stitch, simple enough to be done while having coffee with friends, relaxing in front of a movie, or just sitting in my car, waiting for one of the girlies to emerge from school or an extra-curricular activity. I knit through everything. It has become my version of "yoga": my meditation, my way of finding serenity. And, I'm a lot warmer because of it. Winter's coming, and this IS Canada, after all...

These felted clogs have been The Pattern of
The Fall
this year-- double and triple strands of wool felt into the most deliciously warm footwear I have ever owned-- it's like having two little ovens on the far ends of my legs!! Heaven!!

These French Press Slippers are the footwear of choice for Child Number Two, however... She lamented only this morning that she wished she could wear them to school.

These slippers are for Child Number Three, who wants warm ankles as well as feet. They're knitted in squares, then folded up like an origami project and stitched together before felting. I might just need a pair for myself, when all is said and done...

These Wellie Warmer socks are for ME, and are a wonderful alternative to the polar-fleece rip-offs being sold in major shoe stores, to accompany the three hundred dollar "Hunter" brand rubber boots that are so popular these days. I bought my own wellington boots at our local grocery store for thirty-five bucks (which is an outrageous price for this farm-country girl, actually), and fancy that my hand-knit cuffed socks will actually be warmer, as well as more attractive, than the high-fallootin' version. So there.

Did you all swoon over Part Two of the Harry Potter "Deathly Hallows" movie this year?? I sure did... The knitwear alone had me scouring the internet for patterns the moment I was sprung from the theatre. This Hermione hat knit up beautifully from a fine angora, and all three girlies want one for fall... be accompanied by fingerless, elbow-length gloves. Two out of three girlies are now playing flute, so these will keep those muscles warm during rehearsals!

All you Potter-philes out there will not be surprised to learn that there is an entire pattern book chock-full of beautiful designs, for knitters of all abilities. We've done a six-foot long Hufflepuff scarf and matching tam in grey-and-gold, and I'm still working on my own version of the beloved Weasley jumper!!

CONFESSION: I want to be Molly Weasley when I grow up...

(I actually jumped out of my seat and CHEERED for this scene, much to my children's accute embarassment...)

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