December 16, 2013

Happy 238th Birthday, Jane Austen!

Today, December 16, is Jane Austen's birthday. She was born in 1775, so she would be 238 years old today. Yesterday, at Locust Grove in Louisville, I attended a tea in honor of her birthday.

There was a lecture beforehand, on the art of walking and its importance in the novels. After that we had tea along with savories and sweets. There was live music, too.

Of course, I found a bonnet to covet....

...and a dress to covet, or at least a fabric. Look at that pink satin fabric with gold! Ooooooh!

Here are two pictures of those of us who were dressed in our Regency attire.

Here I am with my friend Stephanie. We were posing in front of some of the many decorations which had been made out of pages of Austen's books.

And finally, here is a close-up of my bonnet, which I decorated for the party. :)

December 12, 2013

Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!

Last night a friend asked me if I wanted to go to the 5 AM (yes, you read that right) mañanitas (a serenading) of Our Lady of Guadalupe at a parish about half an hour from where I live. I had thought for years about going to one of these, but last night, it was the farthest thing from my mind, and I just laughed at her. I had absolutely no intention of getting up that early and going out in the bitter cold before I had to....

But at 4 AM I was suddenly wide awake—without an alarm. I wasn't even sleepy. So I decided to get up, get dressed and go to the ceremony. (I can tell you, my friend was quite surprised when I slipped into the pew next to her.)

This is the altar to Our Lady which was set up in the church.

Outside in the church's vestibule, there was another altar set up, too:

I was surprised how many babies and little kids were there that early in the morning!

Sure enough, things got underway about 15 minutes late. I needn't have hurried so much. The first order of business was to go to the parish hall so we could have a procession from there into the church. The young ladies were all decked out in these gorgeous costumes. Every single one had some sort of image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the back, most of them in sequins or glitter.

There was this awful-looking creature snooping around, too. (See photo below.) It was later explained to me that he represented the devil. The traditional dances showed Our Lady's power overcoming his evil sway in Mexico. But that came later. All I can say is, I was extremely puzzled and mystified when I saw him. He even came to Mass dressed that way! He had bracelets and anklets covered with  shells that made a lot of unpleasant noise whenever he moved or walked. (The look on the girl's face next to him more or less portrays how I felt as I looked at him!)

AND, to make things yet stranger, this is what was on the back of his shirt (below). I at first thought it was totally inappropriate, but then I realized, Our Lady was on his back... on his case, so to speak. 

Anyway, the young ladies in costume, and the devil, marched to church, the girls shaking small metal rattles and popping their wooden bows to keep time. Again, all this paraphernalia was a total mystery to me, but the meaning of it all was revealed later. The rest of us followed the girls to the church, where they sat at the ends of the pews. The "devil" seated himself right in front of our pew. You can see the fuzz of his wig at the edge of this picture! (Do you know that at the sign of peace at Mass, I shook hands with the devil this morning?!)

First there were hymns (traditional Mexican hymns to Our Lady of Guadalupe) sung to the music of guitar, trumpet and tambourine, and then there was a rosary. Here is a video of one of the songs (not from this morning... I am just posting it so you can hear one of the songs that we heard).
(Skip the first 20 second or so of the video.)

 Everything was in Spanish, not a word of English spoken. The two priests who presided were gringos, but they spoke Spanish very well.

Then there was Mass. It was a long Mass, with lots of singing. 
At the end of it, the young people in costume processed out, 
with their rattles and snapping wooden bows.

Some of the families went up to the altar and presented flowers to Our Lady. 
Many took photos of their children in front of the altar. 

(Look, Padre Tim, now I am taking pictures that look like yours!)

Is this little girl a doll, or what? Utter adorableness!!

We walked back to the parish hall for breakfast, which was sweet bread..... 

...and tamales. Spicy ones. Yes, for breakfast! 

There were traditional dances after this. A friend explained to me that the bows symbolize the power that the rosary and sacraments have over the devil. The devil kept "prowling" around, and when he did, the girls would shoot him with imaginary arrows from these bows. At one point he was down on the floor, and one of the girls was symbolically sawing off his legs. A little boy ran up and punched the devil in the face. It was hilarious. And what a great visual catechism lesson!

I went off to work around 8 AM (that is 3 hours after I got there). The music was still going on. 

This evening, here at New Hope, we had a holy hour in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We read the Mass readings, the message of Pope Francis for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a prayer for the unborn and their mothers, and said the rosary, interspersing the decades with quotes from 
Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? 
Are you not under my shadow and protection?”

October 1, 2013

The Week of Four Teas

Tea Party #1:

At the Jane Austen Festival, Louisville, on a Saturday:

Tea Party #2:

At Sisters' Tea Parlor in Buckner, KY, the following Thursday:

Tea Party #3:

At Mandy's Aunt Phyllis' house, that Sunday:

We made silhouettes of each other at this party:

Tea Party #4:

....and, finally, the last tea was at my friend Theo's house the following Tuesday, but I didn't get any pictures of that. 

During this same week, Kim and I shopped, dined, napped, watched movies, hung out with Lynn's kids, went to dinner with my brothers, enjoyed coffee at Panera Bread, attended the outdoor Stephen Foster musical in Bardstown, and visited the grave of Msgr. James McGee (a holy local priest who suffered badly from depression) at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

At the very end of her trip, Kim bought this beautiful antique Lincoln rocker, which I am keeping for her till we can figure out how to get it to her! 
(The Piglet is mine, though. See, he has a perfectly sized little teacup! A fitting way to end this post, "The Week of Four Teas.")

September 24, 2013

An Evening of Elegance

 Now, in preparation for this ball, I had gotten really ambitious and made myself a new dress, plus made a dress for Kim. Here is the fabric I chose for Kim's dress:

So here is my gorgeous friend, getting ready at the hotel:

She did her hair and mine....

Finally, we arrived at the ball, which was held in a real ballroom on Fourth St. in Louisville. (It was the same place where we held our first two years of Ignite.) Here you can see my dress as well as hers.

The other friends who were there with me: left to right, Siena, Siena's dad Mark, her mom Tamara, and Mandy and Peter Bifone

 Here I am with Don Corson, our English Country Dance instructor, whose lessons I attend and who called the dances at the ball:

 Here is Don with the lovely Kathy, one of the dance "students" who is quite an expert and who warmly welcomes any newcomer to the dance group:

Well, well... our sedan chair friend and his wife! 
(Look at the lovely overlay on her dress.... oh, to sigh for, to die for!)

There was a balcony, from which we could watch the dances 
if we couldn't do them all or if we needed a rest. Let me tell you, dancing, even this seemingly slow, very proper dancing, is exercise!

The ball went on till 10:30 PM. We both wished it would just keep going! 
We were NOT ready to stop.

 After a full day of such elegance, courtesy, beauty and manners, 
it was hard to go back to everyday life. 
And Kim kept saying during the following days, "We need to find us a MANSERVANT!"