30 January 2010

Pergolesi Stabat Mater

4th Movement: Quae moerebat et dolebat. Alto solo.

The women of our choir are planning to do the whole Stabat Mater during Lent, probably on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, at the end of the usual Stations of the Cross service that our parish holds on Saturdays in Lent. Two mezzos and two sopranos will divide up the solos, and on a few of the movements all four, plus one additional alto, will sing. No orchestra, just organ accompaniment. Thankfully, our parish's organ has some decent stops for baroque music.

23 January 2010

Late to the Party

I just found out that Bishop Patrick Ziemann died last October. He was Bishop of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, where I grew up, from 1992-1999. He resigned amidst much scandal, which also involved a priest who was stationed at my parish at the time. Bishop Ziemann died of pancreatic cancer, at the monastery in Arizona where he had been living for the last several years. He was also once an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles, where I live now.

There are allegations of various sorts that cover his whole career as a priest and bishop. Probably at least some of them are true. I don't know. I do know that before we knew about all of that, he was well-liked. He was certainly very charismatic and friendly. I remember his visits to my grade school, and how he would quiz the kids on religious topics and give them a nickel if they answered correctly.

I hope that he repented of his sins, and that God will have mercy on his soul. May he rest in peace.

18 January 2010

New Link in the Blogroll

Our blogroll is in sad need of an overhaul--it represents about half the blogs I actually visit on a weekly basis--but I have managed to add one new one: "Modestia," a blog about being fashionable and modest. I have met the blogger "Catholic In Film School" in real life and she is indeed a well-dressed lady! Check out her blog.

Edited 1/29/10: The blogroll has been updated! Wow, I read a lot of blogs. Some of them are very well-known, others are read only by a few. I encourage you to check out some of the lesser-known ones to see the pretty pictures and thoughtful reflections and helpful advice that they provide.

04 January 2010


I saw Avatar tonight. Overall, I liked it. It was a little preachy, but at the same time it would be easy to take away any number of messages from it, if you wanted to. I chose to take a pro-life message from it: it's not ok to kill people because it's convenient for you or because you think it will make your life better or easier.

The special effects were pretty good, although I'm not sure I appreciated the full extent of them because we got there a little late and had to sit in the front row. The world-building was interesting. I don't think the second set of wings on those flying beasts would be very aerodynamic in reality. I'm also not at all sure how all of the blue people got onto the flying mountain. They can't all ride on the flying critters, and surely they don't all climb? Or was the special tree actually on the ground, beneath the flying mountains? I'm not sure.

Also, why do the creepy soldiers always have that accent, and why are they so hard to kill? And by the way, the whole "You're an impostor and you betrayed my people!" gag is a little overdone. Still, I thought it was worth the price of admission, and I would love to see a bunch of bioluminescent plants like that in real life.

02 January 2010

New Template

As you can see, I've finally upgraded the template. I hope Lizzy doesn't mind.

When Blogger instituted a new template system about two years ago, the links to our archives stopped working. I sort of ignored this, and soldiered on with the old template because I didn't think it mattered and I was too lazy to deal with getting a new template and making appropriate customizations. I've received a complaints from a newer reader (ok, that was about a year ago...) about the lack of access to our archives, though, so I thought it would be appropriate to upgrade our template.

I tried to make the color scheme of the new template match the old color scheme so that our blog is still recognizably ours. Unfortunately all the comments to old posts have been lost, since I can't figure out how to get our old Haloscan account to work with the new blog. The html bit that was added in to the old template gaks the new template, and I can't find a new tag from the Haloscan website: it keeps directing me to the newer JS-kit comment forms that require a login. I don't think that's necessary for this blog since we get so few comments and never have had a problem with either trolls or spam comments.

Let me know if you are aware of a fix for using our old Haloscan account, or if you notice any problems with the new template, spelling errors in the links, etc.
Christmas Gifts

My family members have always been very generous with Christmas and birthday gifts. Unlike my (much older) half-brother, whose birthday is today, I never had to endure the rounds of "this is for Christmas and your birthday!" when opening presents, although my birthday is even closer to Christmas Day than his.

There were a few presents that stood out from the crowd, though. My husband gave me slippers that look like cowboy boots. I always wanted to be a cowgirl, and now I feel like a cowgirl standing in the kitchen making coffee in the morning. Plus, my feet are warm! You wouldn't think this would be a problem in Los Angeles, but I often wear socks around the house even in summer (a sharp contrast to my childhood, when I was barefoot as often as possible). And because we had so much extra work at the church in December, we can afford a horseback ride in San Diego next week! I won't be wearing the cowgirl slippers for that of course, but it will be tremendous fun. I'll try to remember my camera so I can show you all pictures!

Another gift that really stood out, although it was not intended as a gift, was a check from our parish, handed to my husband personally by the pastor. It was payment for our work chanting Vespers for the nine nights before Christmas. We did not expect to be paid for it and did not include it on our time sheets. We were a little startled at first and wondered if it might be some kind of mistake, but then we did the math and worked out that it was compensation for the Vespers novena. Our pastor is not the talkative type and rarely smiles or gives compliments beyond "thanks" or "that was nice," so sometimes it's hard to tell what he's thinking. But, and I hope this doesn't sound mercenary, being paid for your work is one of the best compliments a musician can get. It's not that I mind being told that I "sing like an angel" or that my husband's organ playing is fantastic, or how sweet we look when we sing together, but it's nice to be told that in a way that helps pay the bills! It feels incredibly good to know that our pastor likes what we do and that he thinks we're worth paying for, especially since so many priests and parishes don't think they should have to pay their musicians.

and a prayer request...

If you think of it, please remember our pastor in your prayers. Part of the novena was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction every night, even though our pastor has severe problems with his arms and shoulders and can hardly lift the monstrance (we got a special lightweight monstrance last year when the larger one became difficult for him, but now even the lightweight one is almost too much). We have Benediction five nights a week at our parish even in usual weeks, and on the first Sunday of every month. It is a tribute to Msgr. Murphy's prayerfulness and consideration of his congregation that he continues this practice even though it must be very taxing for him physically. Please pray that, if it is God's will, Msgr. Murphy will have renewed strength that will allow him to continue to elevate the Blessed Sacrament before his congregation, both at Benediction and at Mass.