31 May 2007

Feastday of St. Joan of Arc, a Day Late

Happy feastday to my mother Jean, to my one-time parish, and to my friend who took Jeanne as her confirmation name.

27 May 2007

Marriage Prep, Los Angeles Style

I promised to keep the few people who read this blog updated on the wedding plans, specifically what it's like to plan a Catholic wedding in Los Angeles.

My fiance and I attended the day-long marriage prep class at my parish a couple of weeks ago. Apparently we are required to do eight hours, and we do them all at one go.

The morning was devoted to a lecture on communication, given by a psychiatrist or psychologist or something (they're all the same to me so I never bother to note who is which). At various intervals we were asked to talk to each other, or to "share" with the other couples sitting at our table (there were about thirty couples in the class, three or four couples to a table). This all became an excercise more of observing other people than of doing anything for my fiance and I. My fiance is the sensitive type of man who is ok with talking about his feelings, and he is also talkative. If something is on his mind, he tells me. Me, I learned ages ago that I couldn't expect him to read my mind and I had to tell him things. If we have a disagreement, we hash it out in a fairly rational manner without raised voices, and it almost always comes down to a misunderstanding--semantics. Only twice in four years have I ever gone to bed angry. We largely felt this lecture to be useless for us, though probably helpful for other people.

The next thing on the program was titled "Spirituality in Marriage" and the lecture was delivered by Father B., a Paulist priest from my parish. We thought it would be about spirituality as a married couple, and were looking forward to the talk, because that is an issue we haven't read much about and are interested in knowing more about.

Unfortunately, it was an hour-long lecture on the wedding itself. Again, useful for other folks, not useful for us, the talkative and liturgy-obsessed couple. I was glad Father B. said that they don't approve of the "bride given away by her father" order of procession, and explained the reasons why. I'll explain in another post, if anyone is curious. I'm sure you can figure out the societal reasons, but there are religious reasons too. Anyway, we were disappointed in the talk.

There were two hand-outs on NFP in our folders, but no one ever really mentioned sexuality at all.

The final lecture was given by a retired professor of economics. My dad, who was a business manager of a school district, snorted when I told him that. The professor of economics got married in the late 1950s, and I think he hasn't changed his view of family finances since then. Needless to say, what worked for a family with one parent working outside the home and only one car in an age before most people went on business trips is not going to work for a two-profession couple both of whom must travel at least a couple of times a year to conferences and such. I refer mainly to the professor's advice that couples have only one checkbook, and share a credit card. I sort of understand his reasoning, but it is completely impractical. His advice on saving money, especially when grocery shopping, was better. I've already started scanning that coupon booklet that comes in the mail every week for things that I need. I am not going to start shaking cans of different brands of corn in an attempt to determine which actually has more corn in it, although I might actually weigh the ten pound bag of potatoes to make sure it weighs ten pounds. When I start buying bags of potatoes, that is.

At the end, we went off in smaller groups, about five couples per group, each with an older couple from the parish. We each introduced our partner, and told how we met, what we liked about the other person, and what we learned that day. It wasn't as sappy as it sounds.

All in all, there was nothing objectionable about the experience. We were disappointed that there wasn't more, though. Less on communication and finances and more on Church teaching about...everything...would have been a big improvement.

26 May 2007


When we die, do our guardian angels get reassigned to some new person because we don't need them anymore, or are angels only ever assigned to one person?

Do our guardian angels continue to pray for us if we die and go to purgatory?

(I know these raise some questions about time vs. eternity, but I'm not going to think about that first thing in the morning.)

24 May 2007

Recipe Time

The challenge: You haven't been grocery shopping in days. You planned to go this morning, but it's lunch time already and you haven't gotten out of the house yet. You have a guest, so you can't just serve up any old thing for lunch, but you're both starving. What do you do?

The solution: Water, cappelini or angel hair pasta, olive oil, canned sliced tomatoes, garlic and basil (if the tomatoes aren't the pre-seasoned "Italian" kind), a pot and a pan. Put the water on to boil. Put the olive oil, tomatoes, and spices in the pan to heat, stirring occasionally. When the water boils, put the pasta in and cook for about a minute and a half. Drain the pasta and put it in the pan with the sauce for about another minute, and serve immediately. Put some parmesan cheese on top if you have it.

Time: Approximately 15 minutes, or less depending on how fast your water boils. It's healthy, easy, satisfying, tasty, and fast. It uses stuff you probably always have around (or should, anyway). Now aren't you glad you didn't decide to go out for pizza because cooking was too much trouble?

08 May 2007

Really Cool Stuff

The mistake of a genius.

This image is from a draft of Franz Schubert's Tantum Ergo. You can see here a note he's rejected and scratched out. You can see the rest of this draft, along with OVER 500 SCHUBERT MANUSCRIPTS (this is exciting to us music-types) ONLINE at www.schubert-online.at. (The button for the English version is at the top, a little to the right.)

The sizes of the photographs they took are quite large--it's like sticking your nose right down to the page, which they probably wouldn't let you do with the actual page because they don't want your nose-print on a Schubert autograph manuscript, but it's ok, you can put your nose to your computer screen and gawk.

*admires the pretty music*
Relics Not Those of Joan of Arc

This article from National Geographic News says that the relics that have long been said to be those of St. Joan of Arc are actually from an Egyptian mummy. Experts suggest a 19th-Century hoax.
Early Music Jokes

Lauda: the difference between shawms and krummhorns.

Neums: Medieval midgets.

Trope: A malevolent neum.

Quaver: beginning viol class.

Cantus Firmus: the part you get when you can only sing four notes.

Hocket: the thing that fits into a crotchet to produce a rackett.

Neumatic Melisma: a bronchial disorder caused by hockets.

More, along with a ton of banjo jokes, here.

(The picture is of a baroque rackett or rankett--you can buy one at the website linked to above, if you have $2000. It's a double-reed instrument, a relative of the bassoon and oboe.)

04 May 2007

More Cheery Than Yesterday

Awesome British stop-motion animation:

Shaun the Sheep! Apparently this show, intended for young children, is so popular in Britain that they're showing it at a later time in the day as well as in the morning, so adults can watch it too. All the episodes can be viewed on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae9ZbstfFEQ

They're all about 6 or 7 minutes long. Good fun.

03 May 2007

I am slowly going crazy, 6 5 4 3 2 1...

Are public school students taught grammar and punctuation anymore? Because I am a T.A. I am reading and marking student essays, and I am amazed by the random acts of violence against adjectives, verb tenses, and punctuation of all kinds being perpetrated by our students.

The apostrophe abuse alone is horrifying, but when combined in the same paragraph with both present-tense verbs and past-tense verbs, a period outside the quotation marks, the excessive use of adjectives...*sigh* Pray that I will be charitable in my comments, and that I retain my sanity until next Wednesday afternoon (the end of exams and my fiancé's arrival for a visit).

02 May 2007

More Prayers

This has not been a good month for friends of my family. A very dear friend named Kathleen is seriously ill and in the hospital--she may be dying. What makes it really tough is that her husband has been suffering from stomach cancer for several years, and so they've been preparing for him to go first; he is totally unprepared to lose her, and they have hardly spent a night apart in the 45 years they've been married. My parents are traveling out of state to be with them, since Kathleen and her husband's children live quite a distance away and can't be away from work for long.