Saturday, October 30, 2010

Heartstrings of the Week: For Grandma

Welcome to today's episode of "When Music Makes Me Cry":

Alright, people. Here it is! My favorite aria of all time...Annnnd, it's story time! Pull up a comfy chair and mug of hot cocoa and here we go:

Once upon a time I had a voice teacher that, when she found out I was a soprano, hooked me up with every operatic aria and art song she could think of. Thus, began my love for opera.

Then, one day after a recital I overheard my dad talking with her about my grandma's love for Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly. "She used to sing it around the house and with her sister," he said, "She had a beautiful voice!" This touched me. My grandma passed away when I was 12 and yet suddenly there was the connection with her that I had longed for - opera. Someone once said,

"Music is what feelings sound like."

From that point on, I aspired to the point in my "vocal career" (if you can call it that) that I'd be able to at last sing, with confidence, THE aria from Madame Butterfly. Arguably, THE most passionate and heart-wrenching aria of all time - "Un Bel Di Vedremo"

Well, the time has come. I nearly cried the day my amazing voice teacher stated, "Oh, you're ready!" Ready to sing for grandma!
This opera is much like the musical Miss Saigon, neither of which I have seen, but I know the music from Madame Butterfly like I know how to breathe. Here is a brief synopsis:

Location: Nagasaki, Japan
Time: 1904

Cio-Cio-San is the heroine of the opera - "Madame Butterfly" to her American Lieutenant, B.F. Pinkerton. Pinkerton is in Japan at war (whatever war took place at that time?) and they fall in love and get married. Her family is completely against the idea and they disown her at her betrothal. Pinkerton then leaves to America but swears to return. Butterfly has his baby, a son, and three years go by. She is still intent on believing that he will return. When, at last, he does return he brings...his American wife with him and they come to take away "his" son. Butterfly realizes this when she sees him coming with his wife and is heartbroken times 10, so she says goodbye to her son and...kills herself.

Yeah, like I said, THE most heart-wrenching and passionate opera ever. This aria takes place as Butterfly is consoling her crying maid (and friend) who believes that Pinkerton will not return. With assurance in their long awaited reunion, Butterfly describes the whole beautiful scene that she's relived in her mind for the past 3 years. It's not everyday you get an aria that translates so poetically, so I encourage you to read this. It's beautiful! Poor, Butterfly.

You're crying? Why?
Ah, faith is lacking in you!

One beautiful day we will see
a thread of smoke rise
on the far horizon of the sea.
And then the ship appears.
Then the white ship enters the port,
roars its solute.
You see? He has come!

I will not go down to meet him - not I.
I will position myself there
on the edge of the hill
and wait a long time;
and the long wait
            will not be hard on me.

And…having emerged from the town crowd,
a man – a tiny speck –
sets out for the hill.
Who will it be?
And when he has arrived,
what will he say?
He will call Butterfly from the distance,
I, without giving answer,
will remain concealed from him –
a bit in play
and a bit so as not to die
at the first reunion.
And he, somewhat anxious will call:
“dear little wife”
“fragrance of verbena” –
the names he used to call me whenever he arrived
All this will happen, I promise you.
Persist in your fear;
I, with sure faith, await him!

I might cry when, at last, I perform this song... for grandma and at the thought of such a tragic tale, but I can't help but love this opera and I think you can see why.

Enjoy the passion!

GAH! Get's me right in the tear duct every time!

 P.S. Thanks to all of you cute people for you kind compliments on my aria video. I really appreciate your loving feedback. Thanks! :)

This is Halloween!

I cannot wait to dress up tonight!
MWAHAHAHAHAHA! (witch’s cackle)

{My costume from last year! I should do my hair like this more often.}


Friday, October 29, 2010


I tend to save as much vulnerability for my personal journal as possible...but I finally mustered up enough bravery to share with you a large portion of my soul. Yes, that's right. The part that's housed in my very vocal chords.

I'd been working with my voice teacher on Puccini's beautiful aria "Chi il bel sogno" for a while and, at last, it was time to perform it. I don't do well in performance mode.

The car, most definitely.
The shower, absolutely.
In front of family, meh.
In front of mass audiences, eeesh.

So, forgive my strange performance habits, i.e. rolling my eyes, licking my front teeth, not staying in character, not knowing where to look, not knowing when to close or open my eyes, etc. After 7 years of voice and I'm still working on it.


Without further ado...

Here is me...

I know I'm no Anna Netrebko...that's one reason this isn't on YouTube. But I have to say, I sure love this gift that Heavenly Father has given me and I'm doing my best to improve and share it. I don't know what I'd do without the ability to express myself through music. It is a literally part of who I am. And I. Just. Love It.

Another Reason

{A beautiful spread from a little book that one of my artistic nephews wrote for me.
It even had a pocket in the back full of smarties. So creative!}

This is just another reason I love being an aunt of the most adorable 25 children I've ever met. They make my world go 'round and my heart keep growing every single day. I am so blessed to have them in my life, to laugh with, learn from and love them lots and lots! If I made a chain of all the loving pictures, cards, hugs and kisses that my n&ns have given me these past 16 years, they'd wrap around the world, I'm pretty sure.

I Love You,
Aubs, Michael, Emma, Jess, Ether, Whit, Sam, Hai, Sade, Benny, Jaker, John, Sarah, Nater, Hy-Guy, Spency, Ammon-M, Matthew, Ky-Ky, Bryant, Byni, Smyler, Lyni, Bebe, and Joshy!!!

Love, Your (favorite) Aunt

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Norah Night

A breeze rustles the low hanging branches of our weeping birch tree and scatters the lemon-lime leaves into brilliant dance, like children dizzily spinning in the yard.

The dark billowing clouds slink murkily beside the golden sun as it sinks softly, wearily behind the mountains and kisses the sky goodnight. She blushes pink.

The frosty wind pulls a shady blanket across the sky, over my house. A storm whirls above like a dazzling dream and lightening flashes behind a mysterious curtain.

I bundle - Robe, slippers, down comforter, and a blanket scattered with friendly ghosts. Cold from the inside out, my body aches for the Florida sun. For relief.

Defying the unwritten laws of illness, my immune system gives way to the bitter cold of an approaching visitor - Winter with her infamous reputation for sticking around like a lingering ex-someone.

Insides give up all too soon. Influenza, for the second time in three weeks.
Not the first time he's tortured me like this, but hoping it's the last.

Longing for sleep from the inside out, I sit and stare at the blaring screen. Projects dance around my head like a gang of mocking bullies, blowing raspberries and singing that familiar "nanner nanner" jingle.

I retreat to my cyber sanctuary of Bloggersville and huddle beneath it's whimsical webpages, scintillating sidebars and varied visitors.

If my body can't rest, my mind can. At least for a moment.

A healing breath fills my lungs with the scent of pumpkin spice and dinner cooking.
In a brief moment of pity, Life presses the pause button...

...and Norah sings.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Potter, Pickup Lines, Paste & Purple People-Eaters

As far as I'm concerned the WORST place to get a mosquito bite
is the arch of your foot!! GAAAHHH! Will the madness never end?

- - -

I'm thinking of writing a song called,
"I Left My Heart in Hogwarts"
I think it'd really catch on, don't you?

- - -

Speaking of Mr. Potter,
We broke out the Bertie Botts beans last night with my n&ns.
I decided to be brave and eat:
Dirt, Soap, Grass, Vomit, Bogey, and Black Pepper,
All of which were spot on, I might add.

THEN, I thought I was eating a Sherbet Lemon and got...

Let me just say, that Bertie Bott has got those flavors down pat!
I spit it out and rinsed my mouth to no avail. *gag n' shudder*
Consider yourself warned. Stick with grass.

Dad just called me a "pink purple-eater"...
I think he meant purple people-eater.

- - -

So, I just realized something that actually made me EXCITED about the cold,
I get to bring out the Fall/Winter clothes that have been stowed away
(mostly cause I ran out of closet space).
It's like a whole new wardrobe from under my bed
...AND, my big, lovely, pink, fuzzy robe is back in action!

Now, if I could just avoid commuting in the elements, I'd be fine.

- - -

I donated blood this evening
And as my blood-sucker guy was tipping my chair back he said,
"This is the only way I know how to sweep the ladies off their feet."


- - -

Madre, Dad and I have started the Master Your Metabolism "diet" again.
Let's just say our inability to avoid the decadent theme park food in Florida has brought on a guilt trip in the form of LIBS (lbs.)

And yet, I prefer not to call it a diet so much as a lifestyle change.
The 4th Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich is never as good as the first.

- - -

On a more serious note, I've learned, time and again,
That knowing that I'm a child of God has the power to instantly change any crummy circumstance into a mere paper-cut in vast eternal scheme of things.

Sure, it still hurts...but I think I'll be ok :)

- - -

I forgot how much fun it is to brush with sparkly blue toothpaste!
Kinda gritty...

You know what's tricky?
Taking a whole week off your second to last semester of college,
playing in the Florida sunshine with Harry Potter and Mickey Mouse...
THEN coming back.

DUN Dun dun...
This week is gonna be..."fun"

- - -

I learned the Thriller dance today.
Bucket List item #...uh...47? CHECK!

- - -

My niece told me this joke a while back and it's become a favorite:
How do ducks learn to fly?

They just WING it!

Happy Tuesday, cute peoples!

Look at the bright side...
You're one day closer to Halloween!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Heartstrings of the Week: Gritty, Giddy & Cute

I'm sharing three very varied, very awesome songs tonight, cause I'm in a "moved by music" mood...which is 24/7 for me, let's be honest.

My brother Mike showed me this first song tonight and AH, I fell in love and immediately bought it on iTunes. Yes, I've heard Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", but I really love this arrangement. These guys are Norweigen, so unless you speak their lingo I suggest you forward to the beginning of the song and just soak it up. In fact, the red-head with the gap in his teeth (I think he sings the third verse) is named Kurt Nilson, winner of Norweigan Idol. I love his voice mucho! It's got a subtle grit to it and his range is amazing! GAH! Love it.

For more info on the song itself, cause the words are really intriguing, go here.

Alright, ready for some opera? Good! Introducing my very favorite opera soprano: Anna Netrebko. In the spring of 2006 I went to New York with my high school choir and some of our parents. My lovely parents took me to the Metropolitan Opera one of the nights we were there. The opera we saw was "Don Pasquale" - the soprano was Anna Netrebko - the tenor, whom I will gladly introduce another week, was Juan Diego Florez. My heart! I love them.

So, here is Anna Netrebko singing one of my favorite arias - "Je veux vivre" from Romeo & Juliet - sung by Juliet just after she meets Romeo. By just listening to the upbeat tempo and gaiety (yes, I just used that word) of the song, you get the idea of what she's feeling. I often sing this song around my room after a really good date ;) Enjoy!

Last, but not least, I found this gem on YouTube a while back and was reintroduced this evening. This makes me want to have asian children. Isn't she adorable? I think I could watch this over and over for hours and never get sick of her facial expressions. So sweet!

That's all for tonight, folks.
I'll post all about my magnificent Florida adventures sometime this week!

Have the best week of your entire life, mmmk?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh, It's Magic

I flirted with the tall, dark & handsome, Ravenclaw tenor from the Hogwarts choir...

Then a Durmstrang boy flirted with me (in his strange angry way)...

Then a Dementor nearly kissed me!

What have I learned from this?

I have much better luck in the Wizarding World.

Goodbye, y'all! I'm moving to Hogwarts! ;)

BTW, I have much much much more to share with you about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Pictures, videos and details out the wahzoo!

It. Was. Amazing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Did I Mention...

...that I love this place?

Cause I do love this place!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth

We’re he-ere! The Disney World Resorts in Orlando!
They sure know how to make their guests comfortable around these parts.
Aren't these chairs awesome? Suddenly I'm craving a tea party.

Yesterday was great! We landed in Orlando at 4-ish, so - good news - we had plenty of time to play. I've already made a commitment to myself to take more pictures, because yesterday I mostly just soaked everything in and enjoyed the family time and amazing sights. Sights like Mickey Mouse busing tables ;)

My brother Pete is here with Dad, Madre and I, because his work sent him for the same conference that Dad's here for. He's never been to a lot of these fun places, so it's been fun to show him around so far and not be a "third wheel" persay. Yesterday, we went to Epcot - road some rides, ate some not-so-healthy, but oh-so-delicious food and bonded...perdy much :) T'was fun!

In fact, The Wine and Food Festival is going on at Epcot right now. As we were walking around the World Showcase through crowds of "tipsy" folks draining wine glasses, Pete turned to me and said, "Well it's happy hour here at the happiest place on earth." Haha! And how.

Here we are, about to go into "flight training" on Mission Space. The green tickets mean we're wimps... We (Mom & Dad) chose the "less intense" simulator. BO-RING! Then again, it was probably a smart choice seeing as we had just eaten.

This particular simulation took us to Mars - Dad was the Flight Navigator, Pete was the Pilot, Madre was the Commander and I was the...well, I can't remember what I was, but it was something important no doubt. What I do remember is that we all looked like a bunch of kids buckled into the 25 cent rocking rocket ship at the grocery store. We were quite good at flipping all the intriguing switches and pushing the blinking buttons... Haha! That's the great thing about Walt Disney World - everyone's a kid! Our mission to Mars was successful, bytheway. Phew!

There's only been one crummy thing about this trip so back is having issues. Let's face it, my back always has issues, but it's never hurt this bad for this long and it's starting to get on my last nerve...that may or may not be a literal statement. So, hopefully I can figure out what its problem is. Last night was no bueno - my spine went head-to-head with the mattress and the mattress won. Basically, all of my insides, in the trunkular region, have taken up arms against me...which is awkward because they are PART of me. Hm.

Oh well, maybe I'll get a massage out of it! ;)

Anyway. At the end of the evening there was a sweet firework/laser show out on the lake. It was pretty spectacular, music and all! 

I'm not sure what day we're going to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter yet, but I CANNOT WAIT!!! Thanks, Miss Chess, for sharing this link. It made me giddy!

I'll document every second to the best of my ability, promise!
Happy Sunday!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don't Mind If I Do

I’ve had the stinkin’ flu all week (fall break) and, on top of that, have been working on school work like a maniac… Thankfully, today seems to be the last day of the flu and tomorrow the hardwork will pay off when I step off the plane in sunny Orlando, Florida! I wish I could take you all with me! I’ll post pictures and updates :D Harry Potter, here I come!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Murder Mystery

was a dark and stormy night. The 5-star Lindberg Hotel was quiet as the grave but for the steady tick-tick-tick of the hallway clock. An eerie wind thrust the door open with a violent wail. The clock chimed 7 and visitors, tired and worn, began to fill the grand hotel lobby.

Near the hotel, a passenger train had been derailed. There were no injuries, no deaths, just a colorful group of passengers looking for a place to spend the night.

First guest: Mr. Douglas Carpowitz (played by Google image): Wealthy heir of the grand Carpowitz Estate. Enjoys feeding his craving of collecting expensive vehicles. Delights in attending live theatre and mingling with the upper class.

Mrs. Mildred McAfee: Walter McAfee's charming and elegant wife. I enjoy hosting extravagant fund raising events with my White Glove Ladies Society.

Mr. Walter McAfee: A dashing and wealthy politician. Richard McAfee's only nephew, he inherited the renown McAfee Estates from my uncle, shortly after he mysteriously fell from the balcony one evening. Walter was proven innocent when tried, due to the fact that he had a press conference the very same evening.

Rita Rafferty: Tony Monroe's glamorous girlfriend and dutiful partner in crime. She's often seen at the wheel of the stolen getaway car. She's also skilled in several areas of martial arts.

Anthony "Tony" Monroe: A wheeling and dealing con artist and adept thief from Brooklyn, skilled at disguising his appearance. He is most well-known for his supposed thieving of the famous Hope Diamond.

Mrs. Rosemary Donahue: Arthur Donahue's creative and adventurous wife of Scottish decent. She is skilled in the art of "living off the land" and wildlife cuisine.

Mr. Arthur "Arty" Donahue: A fearless aviator who delights in spontaneous travel to exotic places and seeks adventure around every corner. He claims to have spotted The Loch Ness Monster on a particular escapade to Scotland, his wife's homeland.

Miss Loretta McSweeny: A distinguished, award-winning stage actress in Manhatten with a passion for all things bling.

Theodore "Teddy" O'Connell: Miss Loretta's loyal chauffer and bodyguard. He dabbles in jujitsu in his spare time.

Lady Vivian Hirshinger: A cockney former flapper girl whose lesser-known proclivities for gambling are made possible by her brother Ned "Tommy" Carnahan and his network of London street brawlers--much to the chagrin of her husband, of course.

Sir Edwin Hirshinger: A British ambassador to the U.S. who was instrumental in the creation of the League of Nations. Nearly all of his wealth was in American steel stocks, and he lost everything. He lives now on his wife's family fortune. He has managed somehow to keep his maternal family's history of mental illness from snoopy journalists.

Eva Van Hossmere: A flamboyant, Dutch heiress of one of the most successful, and most infamous, diamond empires in South Africa. She also has a penchant for fine wine.

Hubert Van Hossmere: A soft-spoken oyster merchant from Amsterdam whose mild nature belies his obsessive interest in the breeding of pitbulls and Rotweillers for fighting.

Arnold G. Klipspringer: A scholar of Persian antiquities and a curator at the Smithsonian. His public exchanges of profanity with his superiors have made the covers of tabloids in recent weeks.

Katherine Klipspringer: Former Miss Florida and hostess of the "Tallahassee Gala," the social event of Southeastern elites. She is lovingly devoted to her husband, whom she met on a vacation while he was supervising an excavation in Tehran.

Maximilian "Max" Scheuster: A distinguished and well-to-do butler in the mansion of a high-end businessman whose expensive collections of fine china and rare coins continue to go missing. He enjoys tennis, billiards and watercolor landscape painting in his spare time.

Susan Scheuster: Max's wife and the head maid of the same mansion household. She would rather tend to her own home and start her own family than make beds in a spacious mansion full of rich, stuffy folk.

Minnie Lindberg: The elegant and haute co-owner of the 5-star Lindberg Hotel. She enjoys taking charge and any excuse to dress formally and show off her gaudy sense of style. She has a fairly jealous nature toward anyone whose elegance threatens to steal her thunder.

Rudolph "Rudy" Lindberg: The dashing and Rhett Butler-esque owner of the 5-star Lindberg Hotel. He is often seen in his private box at horse races, however, slightly less well-known is his obsession for gambling. His other hobbies include golf and fencing.

After getting comfortably situated in their own rooms, the guests enter the elegant dining hall for supper as the thunder roars outside. Suddenly, from an upper floor of the hotel their is a horrifying scream. A murder has taken place! Poor Mr. Douglas Carpowitz was mysteriously murdered in his hotel room. There was no sign of cuts or bleeding, just severe bruising.

Who would do such a thing?
What could their motive be?

Thus were the queries of that evening at our family Murder Mystery Date Night.

DUN Dun dun...
(loud thunder clap!)

Narrative by Lindsay Kay
Character sketches by Lindsay Kay & her brother Steve

- - -

Isn’t my family awesome? I sure love them a lot!

It was SO fun to watch everyone arrive for the evening all decked out. They played their parts very convincingly and we honestly just had a great time. My family members are hilarious!

If you decide to plan a murder mystery date night, I encourage you to look online for the versions that you can by OR give yourself plenty of time before the event to plan it all out. I experienced a lot of technical difficulties, because I ran out of time as the event drew closer. There are a lot of things I would add or do differently the next time around, but for my first ever murder mystery, it ran rather smoothly I'd say.

Happy Halloween-ish-ness!