Monday, November 21, 2011

(From "Random Reflections") Music to Move the Soul

If any of you dearest readers are anything like me, then you like music. I personally enjoy all kinds of music. I listen to pop when I feel like going insane (or just nodding my head in an Egyptian-like way to a catchy beat). I listen to country (here is where many of my friends groan), and it's fun and easy to play on my guitar. I love Broadway show tunes from musicals like Phantom of the Opera (my favorite) and Les Miserables (my second favorite). I like classical music including titles like "The Prayer," or "Time to Say Goodbye" (and including artists like Josh Groban or Charlotte Church), and also am slowly, thanks to my sister who lately has been listening obsessively to Frank Sinatra, growing to even like oldies. 

Thus it naturally follows that I like going and seeing music performed. I have attended many a concert of my music-playing cousins, and have watched many of their halftime shows for marching band (both high school and college). I have seen my top three favorite musicals performed professionally (you already know my top two favs; number three is Wicked). And, although I have been to few, I love seeing artists in concert. And I recently had the opportunity to see a very special artist in concert, by the name of Eric Genuis.

Eric Genuis
In case you haven't heard of Eric Genuis, he is an enormously talented pianist and composer. He travels the country - indeed, the world - performing many, many concerts a year. He performs anywhere from alongside the Slovak National Symphony to schools, prisons, and parishes, as well as for audiences which have included Hollywood stars, Pope John Paul II, and royalty.

More than his renown, however, is the music that he both plays and composes. He writes music so as to move the soul - that is his goal. On his website he has a quote from the ancient philosopher Plato which really tells what music really is, and what Mr. Genuis strives for in his music. The quote reads: "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order and leads to all that is good, true, and beautiful." 

And believe me - hearing his music truly does move the soul. During his concert, I found myself totally mesmerized, drawn into prayer, and moved to tears. In hearing him, you listen to music like none you have listened to before, and it touches something deep within you. You are shown a glimpse of what true beauty is like.

If you have not heard of Eric Genuis or heard his music, I encourage you to check out his website. Listen to the clips available on the site, and hear some of his uplifting music for yourself. I also encourage you to check out the websites of two of the musicians who performed with him at the concert I attended - violinist Liesl Schoenberger and cellist Shannon Hayden. Both of them are incredibly talented musicians, and so was the vocalist Chelsea Morris (for whom I could not find a website).

In case I don't write another post beforehand, have a Happy Turkey Day! Eat lots of turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie! I for one will also enjoy my glorious week off!

Give thanks!
~Stephanie

Monday, November 14, 2011

(From "Random Reflections") Puppy Life

As I hope all you faithful readers of Random Reflections know, my family recently became the proud owners of a new member of our clan. Our new addition could certainly be compared to having a much smaller and somewhat more mute toddler in the house. This brown, floppy-eared new family member is our miniature dachshund, Ginny.

Ginny, our sleeping beauty.

We adopted Ginny a month ago now, on October 15, when she was 11 weeks old. She is now nearing the 16-week mark, and is a whopping 8.5 pounds - as much as our late mini dachshund Daisy weighed as a full-grown adult. Nevertheless, her growing body has yet to fill out her flabby skin and fat rolls.

Seriously, how could you resist that face?
I'm sure you've all heard the song "Do Your Ears Hang Low," and if so, think of the lyrics, and you'll know the state of Ginny's ears. She also has big brown puppy-dog eyes (literally!) that, combined with her eyebrows, are quite expressive. It's nearly impossible refuse her anything - especially a cuddle on your lap - because of her irresistibly adorable face.

As I mentioned previously, one could say that having a puppy in the house is quite similar to having a toddler in the house. Anything on the floor, from a tiny bobby pin to the bathroom rug, screams, "I am a puppy chewing and choking hazard!" One split second of inattention could incite a desperate search for a lost puppy, who is probably off finding new things to choke on. And escorting the puppy outdoors after meals, upon waking up from a nap, or when she is acting abnormally crazy is crucial. Any wasted time in events such as these could mean a gift on your living room carpet that needs some cleaning up.

Such is life in the midst of raising and housebreaking a new puppy. But for all the things which require your immediate, careful, 24/7 attention, there is also much fun and cuteness involved. Ginny happens to be a very cuddly, snuggly puppy, as well as a playful and spirited one. She loves nothing more than for you to hold her so that she can put her paws on your face and lick you. Victimizing innocent plush weasels that squeak is her favorite pastime, along with napping. Body slams onto the couch, into your legs, or any such place are quite common, and are signals to you that she would like your attention.

Here is a visual of her limpness.
Ginny has many other funny characteristics. She is rather shy around new people, but once she gets comfortable, she lets loose and has a ball. She tends to be very limp - we joke that we adopted her from "the boneless dachshund ranch." For example, when you pick her up, she'll sigh and let her body go totally limp, and really couldn't care less what you did to her after that. She also has a habit of, when she is eating her meals, taking the few kibbles of food into her mouth, then running away from her food dish to chew (then of course running back for another mouthful, and so on).

One last fun thing about having a new puppy is introducing that new puppy to your seven-year-old cat. This, though, is such an amusing topic that I feel it deserves its own post, and thus will write about it sometime in the not-so-distant future. I'll just say this - the cat, bratty as she is, was less than thrilled to meet her new sister - who, she's figured out, isn't going away.

I'll keep you updated on events in the life of our puppy. She is a bundle of fun and an unending source of love and entertainment!

Happy Monday,
~Stephanie
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