26 February 2011

Also, Seedlings!

My husband and I are planting vegetables, and have started some of the seeds indoors. Here is what it looks like after one week.

The tall ones are tomatoes, and the others are basil, chives, and Walla Walla sweet onions. The parsley, for some reason, has not sprouted. I don't know whether it's just slow, or was planted too deep, or the seeds were duds. The first round of lettuce is in the bed outside. We are waiting for the components for veggie bed #2 to arrive, which will be deeper and hold carrots, beets, and onions. We pretty much have to buy plastic/resin boards for a veggie bed, because it's so humid here and the shed near where the vegetables are has previously been infested with termites. I'm hopeful that we'll have a decent first crop!
From the File "Things I Love"

Netflix has the "Wodehouse Playhouse" DVDs. We're currently on the second DVD. If you like Wodehouse, you must see these. They are hysterically funny. The acting is quite good, and the short intros by PG himself are a nice touch.

Some of the episodes can also be seen on YouTube.

19 February 2011

Hymnals, Too

I actually started work on an index for my fantasy hymnal last night, beginning with excerpting everything worthwhile from the two hymnals that were already next to me: Worship III and Gather.

I can report that I took about a third of the hymns that are in Worship. Note that the hymns make up about a third of the book, and I only took a third of them. So, by my calculations, 1/9th of the book is worth using. No reason for it to be as fat and heavy as it is.

Almost anything worthwhile from Gather is duplicated in Worship, so only two additional hymns from Gather made it onto my list.

Next I will more thoroughly examine the Adoremus hymnal, but I suspect I will not have many additions from that corner. I think there's hardly anything in Adoremus that isn't also in Worship; the Adoremus hymnal is kind of like a Worship hymnal with all the bad stuff taken out, and a decent order of Mass in English and Latin inserted, which is why it is half the size and a third of the weight of Worship.

18 February 2011

On Hymnals

image source

I was recently asked, casually, what hymnal I would pick if I had my choice. I'm sure that the friend who asked me this had no idea what a can of worms she was opening up. She probably thought I'd just be able to name one. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. There is no Catholic hymnal in existence that would be able to stand on its own for parish use. Any one that you picked would have to be supplemented almost every week by worship aids with lyrics in them. I've yet to come across a Catholic hymnal that isn't plagued by at least one of three things: heresy, poor selection, or really bad music. Here are some examples:

St. Gregory
The organ accompaniments are atrocious, and the original compositions are lackluster at best. Also, since the only available edition is a reprint from 70 years ago, it's out of date; there has actually been good stuff written in that time period that I'd like to include.

Traditional Roman Hymnal
Useful for the SSPX, I suppose, but though I really like the selection they have, I presumably will always be employed in OF or combination EF-OF parishes, and there aren't enough English hymns to make it useful for that.

Worship III
Well, aside from the obvious problems of objectionable '70s and '80s hymnody, it doesn't contain enough hymns in some of its various categories to make it sustainable for year-round use. For instance, there are only nine hymns in the section marked "Eucharist." Now, of course you can use other hymns during Communion, if you're going to sing hymns then, but really? Nine was the best you could do? There are that many in a throwaway missalette! Also, it's really fat and heavy, kind of difficult to hold with one hand.

I'm including this one because, along with Worship III, it's what we currently have in our pews. Do I really need to say why I don't like it? I object to a lot of the music in it on artistic and theological grounds.

Plagued with a combination of the problems of Gather and Worship III. Fat, heavy, and with a lot of pretty awful music.

None of the music in it is objectionable, there just isn't enough of it. It might be useful for a school or for a chapel where they don't have Mass year-round, but in a parish setting its small selection will become boring pretty quickly.

The Parish Book of Chant
Does what it says on the cover. It's not a replacement for an OF hymnal. Also, the selection is pretty small, if those are the only things you expect the congregation to sing. If I expected my parishioners to do a lot of singing in Latin, I'd get a Kyriale and a Liber Cantualis.

I know there are probably others that I've left out. My parish is going to get new hymnals later this year, before Advent. They're getting Gather Comprehensive, the one I really, really don't want, but I'm only a lowly choir member here, wife of the organist, and I have no say. My poor husband--they asked him if he'd rather see a permanent hymnal or throwaway missalettes, and he said hymnal. He had no idea it was going to be that!

The only hymnals I've ever seen that I genuinely liked and thought useful were Anglican. If I were in charge of my own music program and had to get new hymnals, I'd either buy Anglican hymnals and attack them with white-out and scissors (by way of editing), or use a print-on-demand service and make my own. I would not expect the hymnal to also serve as a hand missal.

I'd probably want to have two books in the pews: one would be something like the Gregorian Missal, with all the proper chants, but would leave out most of the feast days and include the readings and a Kyriale. Basically, a hand missal with notated music. The other book would have some (probably seasonal) Simplex Propers and a largish selection of solid hymns in English and Latin. I really think that an arrangement like this, though probably expensive, would be able to provide all of the congregational music for an idealized Ordinary Form-only parish, in which you'd have a sort of Low Mass early in the morning, with all vernacular hymns, a later Mass (or the anticipated Mass) with Simplex Propers and hymns, and a mostly- or all-Latin High Mass in the late morning with the Gregorian Propers.

17 February 2011


I asked my husband how he felt about seeing women breastfeed. He said that he was a little unnerved the first couple of times, but he has now seen it often enough that he's used to it.

I hope that someday, many more men in the U.S. will be able to say the same: that seeing a woman breastfeed in public, or even just in her own living room with family and friends around, is a perfectly normal part of life. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case.

16 February 2011

Feed that Kid

I was in the local grocery store on Monday to pick up some last-minute items for our awesome Valentine's dinner. As I hoofed it past the dairy refrigerators, I noticed what appeared to be an abandoned shopping cart with a toddler standing next to it. He was poking the gallon milk jugs. I peered around to see if the child's mother was nearby. She was sitting on the floor across from the milk fridge with her back against one of those free-standing floor refrigeration units. She was on the floor because she was nursing the toddler's younger sibling.

I briefly thought about saying, "Good for you!" or something similar, but decided that it might be better just to leave her and the baby alone in recognition that flopping down on the floor in the middle of the store to nurse your baby should not be a cause for comment.

I used to be uncomfortable seeing other women nursing, but I think I've seen it often enough now that it doesn't phase me. Last week, I was in a restaurant with a friend, her younger daughter, and her 8-week old (the newly-baptized infant from my previous post), and she nursed the baby in the restaurant. She apologized for flashing me at one point while adjusting his latch, but I was involved in our conversation and had hardly noticed. Breastfeeding on demand is awesome, and I really hope I won't get a sudden case of shyness when my turn comes around. I still haven't asked my husband how he felt about seeing J. feed the baby in her living room when we were there for the post-baptism party. I do know how he felt about holding the baby: awkward and inadequate. Poor guy has very little baby-holding experience. We'll have to work on that!

05 February 2011

New Catholic

I went to a baptism today, of a friend's new baby. At the party afterward, I got to hold the new little Christian for quite a long time. I am totally blissed out on that chrism-annointed-baby smell. Isn't that one of the best smells in the world? I think my top three favorite smells are, in no particular order, newly baptized baby, incense and beeswax, and roast chicken. I know the last one is a little incongruous compared to the first two, but all three have to do with celebration of various sorts.