My accomplished friend, Bev Rilett, has achieved a major feat in Victorian literature studies. Her visionary persistence and enduring love for George Eliot has resulted in the digitization of the George Eliot Review based out of Eliot's home region of Nuneaton, England. I am very impressed by the relationships she forged to make this online archive possible; the persistence in finding funding and tech support through the University of Nebraska; and her tenacity in transcribing, encoding, and editing this work in such expeditious fashion even amidst her own Eliot book project, her teaching pursuits, and her multiple roles as scholar/teacher/mentor/wife/mother/friend. So many scholars will be blessed by Dr. Rilett's expansion of Eliot studies to an online format. So many congratulations and kudos to you, Bev!!!
The George Eliot Review is the journal where my very first peer-reviewed publication appeared so many years back. Now, thanks to Dr. Rilett, the journal is digitized, and I can share my publication with my friends online! Here is the link:
And, I can now offer public thanks to the people who helped me pursue these intellectual ideas when I was a young student scholar. Many thanks to Dr. Thomas A. Lewis (Brown University), Dr. Paul Dafydd Jones (University of Virginia), Dr. Laura White (University of Nebraska), Dr. Beverley Park Rilett (University of Nebraska), and the peer reviewers and scholars at the George Eliot Review.
I'm obsessed right now with the Aeolian Ride---it seriously brings me so much joy, and I've only watched it online. Just think how fun it would be to get outside and ride a bicycle in a pack of other people also wearing these parachute inflatables! I would giggle the whole time! My friend Molly's cousin, Jessica Findley (www.sonicribbon.com), is the artist behind this performance art adventure. To me, it is a mashup between Christo's Gates and The Flying Nun. I guess, in many ways, I love this so much because it is happiness on wheels---no politics, no outrage, no negativity. Let's reclaim this aeolian spirit in 2018!
For four years running now (since James started kindergarten), our first-day-of-Christmas-vacation tradition begins with The Sound of Music. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of this wonderful movie: a Catholic Austria; modesty in film; clear distinctions between good and evil; the epic scenery of Salzburg; the appreciation for music (and music theory!); a positive depiction of family life (with seven children: two boys and five girls...this is very familiar to our family too).
My kids always wonder why I associate The Sound of Music with Christmas? A couple of years ago, I read the autobiography of Maria Von Trap (The Story of the Trapp Family Singers). I distinctly remember reading about her homespun preparations for Advent and Christmas all told with such humor and enthusiasm. Her narration was so vivid that I am always surprised when I don't see a Von Trapp Christmas in the film, it's so clear in my head.
I own a very old edition of Maria Von Trapp's Around the Year with the Trapp Family which offers suggestions for families for Catholic liturgical living. I pull it down from the shelf quite frequently. Throughout their family's life together, their Catholic faith sustained their epic adventures, and they often had a priest traveling with them throughout Europe or the States to offer daily Mass or family blessings. Maria also had a tabernacle and chapel outfitted in her own home so as to make Christ the focus of her family's life. Everything she did was so over the top and often excessive and exhausting for the people around her, but she was a formidable force, a dreamer, who made things happen for her family not unlike Maria's depiction in the film.
As for us, we have a Maria of our own who fits the nuns' song perfectly---one of our NICU nurses often sang it to Maria on her sickest days---"How do you solve a problem like Maria?"
I somehow found my way back to being a cantor at our church after two years of this triplets hiatus, and our choir director threw me right into the swing of it. Last night, I sang Caccini/Vavilov's "Ave Maria" for the meditation song. It was a beautiful blessing to sing for Our Lady on this Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. In the words of St. Louis de Montfort: "Everything through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary, in order to do it more perfectly through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus."
After Mass, my wonderful friend Caterina and her daughter and parents came to our home and blessed us with their JOY and LOVE and HUMOR. There is nothing more wonderful than Italian friends! Everything was "belle" this and "bambini" that and funny attempts to translate through the Italian-English language barrier. To share Mass (and fellowship afterwards) with good friends, beautiful music, and pure devotion is a blessing from God! Amen!