Monday, December 12, 2016

Heavenly Things

Hall-Decking Paradise

"Dude, we've been waiting for you!"

The time has come for me to finally get serious about completing my apartment's Christmas decorations, which means a safari to my favorite place for such things: the one and only Hobby Lobby.

When I moved away from St. Joseph, Missouri in 2004 I got out of the habit of doing any seasonal decorating. My apartment in Atlantic, Iowa was particularly ill-suited for such things, but when I moved back to Council Bluffs in 2014 I decided to get back into the sort of Christmas decorating spirit my mom used to practice. As it turned out, the Hobby Lobby at the Metro Crossing Shopping Center about five minutes from my apartment complex was a one-stop place for everything I needed.

I'm still using the decorations I've acquired there the past two Christmases, including the decorations for whatever Christmas tree I wind up bringing home, but I'm sure I'll find something to add, including perhaps a new centerpiece for the dining room table.

"You hear your mom whispering in your ear every time you go there, don't you?"

I absolutely do, yes...she's helped me pick out some amazing stuff, and not just Christmas decorations...

Feast Day

El Santuario de Guadalupe, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Today we celebrate the feast day
of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a title bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary in honor of a series Marian apparitions experienced by St. Juan Diego in 1531 in what is now Mexico City.

The subject of a Canonical Coronation by Pope Leo XIII in 1895, Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of both Mexico and the Americas.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most- visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world, with millions of the faithful making trips there every year, most especially on this date.

Chiefs-less Sunday

My least-favorite week of football season is whenever my beloved Kansas City Chiefs have their bye, and don't play.

A close runner-up is any week when the Chiefs play on Monday night or Thursday night. The former means I have to wait an extra day, and the latter means I'll have a Chiefs-less Sunday just like the bye week.

This past week the Chiefs were featured on Thursday Night Football, beating the arch-rival Oakland Raiders 21-13 at Arrowhead Stadium. Cool as that was, it also meant there would be no Chiefs game to watch on Sunday, so yesterday's slate of NFL football-watching wasn't as much fun as usual.

My best friend Skip's beloved Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Buffalo Bills 27-20 in a bad snowstorm in Buffalo, so I was able to share that fun with him as he vacations down in Florida. The hated Denver Broncos lost to the Tennessee Titans, putting them two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West standings with three games remaining. The Titans and the Broncos, both still in contention for playoff spots, are the next two teams the Chiefs will play. Both of those games will be at Arrowhead.

"Do I detect a hint of optimism here?"

Of course not...plenty of football left to be played, nothing's been "won" yet...

Happy Birthday!

Aerial view of the current Boys Town campus

On December 12, 1917 a parish priest, Father Edward Flanagan, rented a house at 25th and Dodge Streets in Omaha, Nebraska and opened Father Flanagan's Home
for Boys.

Although the location has changed a few times over the past 100 years, the institution now known as Boys Town has never wavered in its mission, which in its own words
is "to​ give at-risk children and families the love, support and education they need to succeed."

In 2012 the Archdiocese of Omaha began the formal process for requesting canonization for Father Flanagan. To date the Vatican is still exploring the findings submitted by the Archdiocese in support of the request.

Some Things Never Change

From the droll comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

In his lifetime my hero Ludwig van Beethoven composed 32 piano sonatas, some of which are among the most popular and frequently recorded works in the classical canon.

This time of year I especially enjoy listening to Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, which
I like to call his "Christmas Sonata" (because the autograph score indicates that he completed the composition on December 25, 1821). The concluding passage in particular has a Christmas carol-like quality to it, to my ear.

2012 Warner Classics re-issue
In 1998 the Argentinian piano virtuoso Daniel Barenboim released a 10-disc set of all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. This recording is considered one of the crowning achievements of Barenboim's award-winning career.

In 2005 Barenboim performed all 32 sonatas in eight concerts over a period of two weeks at the famous Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. Those concerts were filmed and released on DVD, to the delight of Beethoven fans around the world.

Today's send-off is Barenboim's sublime performance of the "Christmas Sonata" from that concert series. Enjoy...

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