14 June 2007

One more random post

I'm posting so much because I'm trapped in the house today waiting for a UPS delivery and I can't think of anything else to do.

I was poking around my computer to see if Caeciliae works in any other applications I have. Well, it works in ComicLife:

That's the Gonzaga Schola, fresh from their performance at the Ascending Voice conference last Thursday at Pepperdine University, with the director Dr. Schaefer (who became the former director pretty much when he took his robe off after this photograph) contemplating a typical Mode V/VI ending. I couldn't figure out how to draw thought bubble lines to the whole group, although I'm sure they all still had chants running through their heads.
New Free Chant Font

Jeffrey Tucker at The New Liturgical Movement posted a link to the new free Gregorian chant font Caeciliae. It's still in the testing stage, but it's very promising. I downloaded it right away to try it out. Twenty minutes of messing around with it in TextEdit later, I managed to produce this:

This is the beginning of the Introit for the Nuptial Mass, in case you didn't recognize it. Learning it seems to go pretty quickly for me, and almost anything I wanted to try that wasn't mentioned in the tutorial came pretty intuitively. Knowing the names of the neumes certainly helps, but there are online reference guides for this if you don't already know them.

The result also seems to be prettier than the St. Meinrad font, though maybe I am imagining things. The squiggly bits in the quilisma are definitely a little more subtle, more like what's in my Graduale Triplex than the St. Meinrad font. The do clef seems different, too. I've never used the St. Meinrad font myself, but I sang from sheet music made with it for years, so I can say that I like the look of Caeciliae better though I can't compare how easy it is to use on the computer.

The font doesn't work in the version of Microsoft Word that I have--I can make neumes, but I can't move them out of their default positions, so for now I have to use it in TextEdit (I work on a Mac). I am not as familiar with TextEdit, so I can't do fancy formatting things and make the text look pretty, but at least I can line the text up under the music. It's also really easy to fix the spacing of the music, since there are two different widths of blank staff space offered.

If you want to make your own chant sheet music at home, I'd say this is a great option even though it's still in the testing stage and the tutorial needs to be fleshed out a little. My fiancé and I are going to have a chanted nuptial mass, and were looking for something a way to include the music for the responses in our programs so the congregation can follow along, and we were afraid that we were going to have to get the music in a PDF from a friend of ours and mess around cutting and pasting with that (the other free chant font I'm aware of, Gregoire, wasn't an option for us because it doesn't work on my computer), but with Caeciliae it looks like we might be able to do it ourselves.
Pretty Things: House Art and Summer Clothes

Inspired by Regina Doman's House Art Journal, I thought I might post a little "house art" of my own. This is my dining table, set for a nice dinner with my parents a couple of months ago:

That's my dad in the background, helping with the cooking. Dad is a very good cook, and his cooking style is a good counterpoint to Mom's; Mom tends to just throw a bunch of things in a pot or a pan, and it comes out tasting good. Dad follows recipes, and because he follows recipes he sometimes does more daring things than Mom does. I'm somewhere in between--I like to try new recipes, but I have a tendency to modify them, usually with decent results, although I've had my fair share of disasters. I modified a recipe for chilled cherry soup yesterday, but didn't reduce the cornstarch enough and used cherries that were sweeter than they should have been, resulting in something of un-soup-like consistency, more like jelly that failed to set. But I'll find something to do with it. My parents used up a whole batch of unset apricot jam as glaze/sauce for pork tenderloin, and I bet my cherry concoction would work well for that, too.

As the weather has heated up properly here in Los Angeles (contrary to popular belief, it is not always 80 degrees here--it tends to be cloudy and in the high 60's in late May and early June), my thoughts have turned to summer clothes. I'm trying harder to be more modest in my clothing choices this year. I used to be very modest when I was in high school, but I've slipped in the last four or so years. My new home in a city famous for immodesty, my position as a teacher's assistant, my impending marriage, and the realization of just how soon I might be be called upon to set an example for children of my own (a thought both exciting and terrifying) has bred new resolve in me.

With that in mind, here is a snapshot of some core items from my summer wardrobe for this year, all of which will also work well into the fall:

The blouses may not fit everyone's idea of modesty--some people object to short sleeves, and some of the shirts are more than two fingers' breadth below my collarbone, but they fit my own standards for the moment, and I confess I do still wear sleeveless shirts sometimes. Consider my wardrobe a work in progress. I don't imagine anyone would object to the skirts, though, which all fall below the knee even when I'm sitting down. I do wear trousers and capris/pedal pushers, but I've worn a hole in my jeans and have decided I'm not going to replace them; I can't find any jeans that are looser-fitting like my dress slacks. I only wear shorts for working out (Irish stepdancing class).

I think I'll be doing well if I can stick to clothes like those shown above. I hope that I am setting an example of dressing in a manner both flattering and modest, for my students and for those around me in this town where there's often far too much flesh on display.

08 June 2007

Meeting Matt

When it hit me that I didn't actually have to stick around Los Angeles all summer (my summer courses are both in the second session), I decided to head to the Catskills to spend some time with my folks at their place. I remembered that Matt of the Shrine of the Holy Whapping lives in New York City now. Matt has been corresponding with Lizzy and I since July 2003, a few months after Lizzy and I started our blog, and just as he and a few friends started their now very popular blog (in fact, Matt and Dan said we were part of their inspiration).

Since the distance from the Catskills to New York City is not quite as insurmountable as the distance between Notre Dame and Gonzaga, Matt and I decided to meet halfway. Poughkeepsie was decided on as the destination for an afternoon of Catholic blogger nerdiness.

After I picked Matt up from the train station and after a couple preliminary wrong turns, we headed to the Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, just north of Poughkeepsie.
We had a charming and informative tour guide, who can be seen in this picture. The house was really beautiful, but as the guide pointed out, rich people seem to build grand houses as temples to themselves, and the Vanderbilts were no exception.

Perhaps this is why, as Matt noted, the railing around Mrs. Vanderbilt's bed looked like an altar rail. On going into the next room, we realized that the oversized adornment at the head of Mr. Vanderbilt's bed vaguely resembled a reredos.

After we'd had our fill of the architecture and interior decor (not that I had nearly enough time to gawk at the gilded Steinway, but we weren't allowed to go back into rooms we'd already passed), Matt and I took a stroll through the beautiful gardens.

The gardens really were lovely. This photo was taken from the inside of a garden structure that, if enclosed, could have been a pretty chapel.

Matt treated me to lunch at one of the many chrome diners that dot the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. Matt had a sandwich called the HBO Special. We're still not sure why it was called that, or whether HBO knows that a diner in Poughkeepsie named a sandwich after them. I had a salad. We didn't play with the jukebox tune selector that adorned the table, although I was intrigued by it.

After lunch we drove around Poughkeepsie itself, admiring the quaint Victorian houses and stopping periodically to examine interesting churches. First up: Christ Church Episcopal.

I wish we could have taken pictures inside this lovely brownstone building, but there were some folks with guitars who appeared to be practicing for a wedding and we didn't want to disturb them. The interior was a lovely combination of rich red walls, lovely stained glass, and dark wood. The ceiling had some pretty carvings that might have been improved by some gilding, or at least gold paint, by way of highlights. There was a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in one of the side chapels, standing in a sea of flowers. The sign had advertised "Missa en Espanol" but the presence of the statue was still surprising.

Next up was First Presbyterian.

The church was locked, so we didn't see the inside, but the outside provided plenty of intricate carvings too look at, as well as some pretty landscaping. Poughkeepsie's First Presbyterian Church also wins the prize for the strangest church sign ever:

Yes, all those worshiping groups are sharing the same building. Amazing.

After passing two sort of ugly Catholic churches that we were not inclined to photograph, I remembered that I'd seen something interesting on the road to the train station. A church calling itself "Anglican Catholic" was there. It was also locked, but the exterior was really lovely. We could almost smell the incense. It wins the prize for prettiest church doors:

Aren't they lovely? The rest of the exterior was pretty too. The stained glass looked quite nice, as did the tower at the back and the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the side yard. I doubt the church is well-attended, though--it didn't even have a parking lot.

On the way to the Anglican Catholic church, Matt noticed an interesting-looking church tower looming above the trees. We headed for it, and found a gem of a Catholic church overlooking the river.

It's pretty clear that Our Lady of Mount Carmel started out as the Italian parish, even though the first pastor was named Michael Riordan:

The interior of the church was lovely, and I particularly enjoyed their Stations of the Cross:

Some of the elements of the interior of the church were new, and some were original to the church. They had an impressive collection of relics displayed on a shelf below a statue of Our Lady, including relics of the True Cross, Pope St. Pius X, St. Lucy, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John Bosco, and others. There were around twenty reliquaries and many of them had multiple relics in them.

The day concluded with meeting a friend of Matt's for coffee. We hung out in the coffee shop for about two hours before they decided to close and kicked us out. We strolled along the river, chatting about liturgy, liturgical music, and other music (Matt's friend majored in music as an undergrad though it isn't his profession currently). It was a really enjoyable day, Catholic nerds hanging out, checking out architecture and chatting about Catholic stuff. I can't think of many people that I could have spent a day like that with, other than Lizzy and my fiancé. I certainly ended up with a slightly different perspective on some aspects of the liturgy, specifically the indult question and legitimate development, about which I may post at a later date.

Hopefully Matt will post his side of the story soon on his blog. He took a lot of lovely pictures of things I didn't photograph, so be sure and watch for an update from him!