Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Hymns of the Week: 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C


Entrance: Amazing Grace
Offertory: Lord, Accept the Gifts we Offer
Communion: Be Still and Know
Recessional: For All the Saints (I know All Saints isn't til Tuesday, but I can still have this as a recessional, right?)

Monday, 10 October 2016

Hymns of the Week: 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Entrance: Seek Ye First
Offertory: Gifts of Bread and Wine
Communion: Be Still My Soul (Sibelius)
Recessional: Holy Virgin, by God's Decree

Friday, 7 October 2016

Seven Quick Takes, episode 20: in which there is capillary DIY

It's Friday, it's nap time, so... 7QT!

1. This was the week in which Mx attempted, for the first time, to cut her own hair. Given her temperament, it was always a case of when, not if. I tidied it up as best I could, but she now has a fringe. Oh well.

We don't generally put pictures of our kids on the internets, hence the cunning disguise.

2. Ze husband and I hardly ever watch films together - partly because 90+ minutes is a large chunk of time to commit to anything that isn't sleeping, but mostly because we can never agree what to watch. Last Friday, however, my sister was staying over and no-one had the mental energy for board games, so we rented Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, aaaand... we all really liked it! Darcy and Bingley are pathetic, but there were a lot of clever visual references to the BBC version, which I enjoyed, and a lot of zombies, which ZH enjoyed.
3. The Great Stuff Purge of 2016 is coming on apace. Mildred the saxophone has now moved on to pastures new, and I think our book collection may have dipped below the 1000 mark for the first time in several years. Yes, I actually counted them once, around this time last year. Advanced pregnancy makes you do inexplicable things.

4. Today is an INSET day (teacher training) at Mx's school, so I've got all three of them at home all day, which is odd. It's like the summer holidays all over again, but without the (limited) sunshine. That said, they've been playing pretty nicely today - their main game seems to consist of putting lots of things in bags and pretending to move house, so the clearup operation could be significant, but it's worth it for the relative peace.
5. When did gendered pushchairs become a Thing? My facebook newsfeed is covered with people looking for trolleys specifically for boys, or girls, or just to exchange theirs because they're bored of it. I've just upgraded ours because one of the wheels was about to fall off, but it only cost us £10 at a bumps and babies sale and has lasted us the best part of 3 years (and we're talking 3 years of heavy use, often with one child in the seat and one standing on the footrest). Marketing people must be very clever.
Ok, I may have customised the new one a bit, but even with the fabric it cost less than £35...
(Yes, the weather was miserable. Yes, our yard is a mess. But no weedkiller = more frogs, and we like frogs. End of service announcement)
6. Did you know butter beans (lima beans) contain cyanide? I knew you're not supposed to eat them raw and that you're meant to soak them before cooking, but I didn't know why. Now I do, and you do, too. (We may be eating butter beans at some point this weekend).
7. Only two (or a few more) hours and it's the weeeeekeeeennnnnddd! Ze Husband had an appointment at the French Consulate in London this afternoon to apply for a new passport, so he may not be back for quite some time  - it's about five hours away with no traffic, but on a Friday evening, it's anybody's guess. Ve shall see.
Linking up with Kelly for 7QT - time to see what everyone else has been up to! 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

What I've been reading: August-September

I know, I know, August is technically part of summer, but I thought five books was enough for one post, ok?

1. Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible.

This one was on the BBC's 100 Books list, which I have been working through ever since it came out in 2003. I'd like to think I might finish said list one day, but that would involve me reading a book about football, and we all know that's not going to happen.

In brief, a missionary preacher takes his wife and four daughters to the Congo in the early 1960s. Things go wrong. Things go very wrong. The daughters somehow manage to patch their lives back together, but in very, very different ways.

Preamble preambled, this was a Very Good Book. It took me quite a long time to read (it's a big book, I get distracted by shiny new books very easily) but it was definitely worth it. I'm actually glad I took it slowly so I could digest it better. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do.

2. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.

We rented a house for a week in Scotland. This book was in the house, and, as it was mentioned several times as a source/inspiration in the introduction to The Poisonwood Bible, which I'd just finished, I read it. Probably too quickly to do it justice, in all honesty. I'm not sure I'd have chosen to read it on its own, but it's a good companion to TPB.

3.  Julia Strachey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.

Short but sweet. Strachey was on the fringes of the Bloomsbury Set, and the book was first published by the Hogarth Press (i.e. Virginia and Leonard Woolf). It's far more approachable than Woolf, though - she doesn't go too far along the stream-of-consciousness pathway. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to find other books by the same author, but mostly because there are so many other books I want to read and I will never have time for ALL THE BOOKS.

4. Suki Kim, Without You, There Is No Us. 

One journalist's experience of teaching English in an elite school in North Korea (I'm trying to correct my woeful ignorance of parts of the world outside of Europe and the US at the moment - can you tell?). Fascinating. Also sort-of scary.

5. Natalia Sanmartìn Fenollera, The Awakening of Miss Prim. 

Another Fountains of Carrots recommendation. DEFINITELY my favourite source of book suggestions at the moment (followed by my mother. Sorry, Mam). I'm not going to spoil anything, so just go and read it, ok? 

I'm quite tempted to buy copies of this for several people, but then I'd be very upset if they didn't like it. Ho hum. Also, I rather like distributism (just don't tell the Labour Party, they might evict me). Anyone up for creating a distributist community in Normandy with me? Anyone? [crickets]
Disclaimer: I've recently started using Amazon Associates, meaning that if you decide to buy anything through a link on my page, I (may) get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Hymns of the Week: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Entrance: All People that on Earth do Dwell
Offertory: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord
Communion: Soul of my Saviour
Recessional: God is Love, His the Care (on condition I get time to practice this week! If not, this one is liable to be swapped for something easier)

Friday, 30 September 2016

Seven Quick Takes, episode 19: Translation translated

It's been a while since I did one of these... I've still been enjoying everyone else's takes, though! Anyway, off we go...

1. I've had quite a lot of work on recently, hence the radio silence (can you still say that when you're talking about a computer  ? Hmmmmm). One of my main clients is publishing a series on philosophy of science, which is ever-so-slightly more "artsy" than their usual fare. Being one of the only translators on their books with a background in something other than "conventional" science, I've ended up doing quite a lot of work on it. Let's just say that translating philosophy is a LOT harder than applied mathematics, fluid dynamics or, for that matter, fashion catalogues. Interesting, but my leeetle grey cells were ready for a rest this week.

2. Es can now climb stairs, as I discovered yesterday when I found her halfway up ours. It's exactly like when we discovered that the Daleks could levitate in Dr Who. We'll just have to keep her away from sink plungers.

3. Since my last 7QT, Mx has STARTED SCHOOL, to everyone's great relief. She's very outgoing, very sociable, and was very, very definitely ready for school. 

 4. I've finally accepted that my high-intensity music days are over (at least for now) and that it might be time to pass a few things on to people who will actually use them. The tenor sax (AKA Mildred - no particular reason) needed to go, it's far too loud to play at home and was taking up a lot of space. I'm never going to get round to refretting the mandolin, and I don't believe in using instruments just as decoration. Finally - and this one was hardest to let go - I haven't done any orchestral playing for several years now, so my clarinet in A is leaving for pastures new. Just in case anyone fancies bidding on any of them, here are the links...

I even made some slightly silly demo videos:


(I must say, I find listening to the sound of my own voice EXTREMELY unpleasant. Sorry).

Also, just in case anyone was worried, there are still plenty of instruments in our house. 

5. R. has decided he doesn't like visible vegetables, especially those of a green variety. I can still sneak them past him in pasta sauce or soup, and there are some he eats even if he can see them, but heaven forbid we should attempt to serve him anything even vaguely resembling a leaf ("that's a LEAF! I don't LIKE leaves!"). I just try not to laugh too much.

6. Ze Husband and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary on Sunday. He gave me a bar of chocolate and a packet of shiny insect stickers. I gave him a Lego minifigure and a bag of Haribo. We haven't changed much.

7. Finally - it's nearly October! I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers... I think we may have to go and find some leaves to jump in this weekend to celebrate.

On that note, happy weekend!

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

What I've been reading: Summer edition

Summer, for me, is not ideal reading time. No preschool, no nursery... you get the picture. Some books still got read, though...

1. Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

Once a medievalist, always a medievalist...
Actually quite surprising, in many ways. Think people in the middle ages were prim and proper and well-behaved (ok, apart from all the wars...)? Think again.

2. Sheila Kaye Smith, The End of the House of Alard.
No pretty pictures for this one, it's out of print (sniff).

This book. THIS BOOK. In many ways, it reminded me of Mazo de la Roche's Jalna series, and I was plodding along, quite enjoying it, and then this happened:

"Catholic Christianity stands fast because it belongs to an order of things which doesn't change. It's made up of the same stuff of our hearts. It's the supernatural satisfaction of all our natural instincts. I doesn't deal with abstractions, but with everyday life. Its sacraments are all common things- food, drink, marriage, birth and death. Its highest act of worship is a meal; its most sacred figures are a dying man and a mother nursing her child. It's traditional in the sense that nature and life are traditional".

There was another passage that exactly pinned down something I'd never been able to put into words about the Anglican church, too, but I can't find the scrap of paper I copied it onto... I'll attempt to post it when I find it.

Also, it smelt AMAZING. Not just standard old-book-smell, but the very best sort of old-book-smell.

3. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter.

I felt I should read this. Now I've read it. The end.
(I genuinely have no strong feelings about this book. Then again, I've never got the appeal of Gatsby either. Am I a philistine, or am I just too... not-American?)

4. Liz Moore, Heft.

This one was July's book of the month at our local library, described as "the most unsentimental sentimental journey this year", or words to that effect. Also, as it turns out, rather forgettable - I couldn't remember what the book was actually about when I saw the title in my Goodreads list.

5. Elizabeth Jane Howard, Mr. Wrong.

Elizabeth Jane Howard is one of the (many) authors I added to my list whilst reading Howards End is on the Landing. This is a collection of short stories with a fairly wide range of subject matter. I didn't enjoy the first one (REALLY not my style), but the others were more to my taste. Summer Picnic merits an individual mention, if only for the following quotation:

"One of the babies began to cry. He had lunched lightly off dandelion heads, some milk chocolate, and a Monopoly card, and was now quite properly resisting any further nourishment". 

It's like she's been watching my children or something.

That brings us to mid-August, so I suspect another book post may be coming before too long. Also, Ze Husband has been reading Brideshead Revisited, and I suspect his reactions could be interesting...

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Hymns of the Week: 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

I've spent the last few weeks dealing with a really bigandcomplicated (yes, that IS all one word) translation project, which has been taking over my time to the point where I've actually been choosing hymns ON Sunday morning. Oh yes.

Now that the project in question has gone off for author review, I actually have some time on my hands, so here goes...

Entrance: All my Hope on God is Founded
Offertory: Father, I place into Your Hands
Communion: O Praise our Great and Gracious Lord  (Kingsfold. You can't go wrong with Kingsfold.)
Recessional: Though the Mountains may Fall (I would love to put Faith of our Fathers here, but it has a tendency to upset people. Also, our priest is on holiday so I can't run it past him first).

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Hymns of the Week: 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Normal service resumes...

Entrance: All My Hope on God is Founded
Offertory: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Communion: O Godhead Hid
Recessional: Tell Out My Soul

Looking at that list, I suspect I may be overreacting to two weeks of "modern" hymns in different parishes... these things do happen.

Also, there appears to be a direct correlation between the number of hymns featuring "silence" or "still" and the amount of noise my children are making whilst I'm picking hymns. Ho hum.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Seven Quick Takes, Episode 18: Oh wait, that's right, I have a blog

Haaaappy Friday, Internets!

In no particular order...

1. I turned 30 this week. In my head, I've been "about" 30 for at least two years, so it wasn't too traumatic. I spent most of the day throwing up, but my mummy made me a birthday cake, so it was a proper birthday all the same :-)
(N.B. This is not, I repeat not, a pregnancy announcement. We just all had a rather nasty tummy bug this week).

2. You all enjoy stories told using rubbish Paint stickmen, right?

So now:

Yes, my children inspect our rubbish, and I now have to HIDE THINGS IN THE BIN. Not because I'm ashamed, but because I just can't face the interrogation.
Please tell me I'm not alone in this...

3. No hymns of the week this week because we're going away. It's the Assumption, anyway, so if you're involved in choosing music for mass already, you know what to do.

4. Es (9 months) is turning into a Food Monster (caps absolutely justified). That baby can EAT. We may have to buy shares in Weetabix at this rate.

5. Some very good news, for anyone who read this: my parents are finally getting their money back! I have no idea how the bank managed it, but it's a massive relief.

6. Last Sunday, our priest started his sermon by saying that he didn't see how anyone could escape the Olympics... which was when Ze Husband and I realised they'd actually started, which made us laugh. Why yes, we do live in a bubble.

7. It's nearly 4 pm on Friday afternoon. We're leaving for two weeks (with one brief trip home) at 9 am tomorrow, and I haven't packed anything. ANYTHING. We're going to Scotland first with friends, then down to France to see Ze Husband's family for a week... on the TRAIN. With three under-fives. I'm hoping to be able to pack separately for each trip, there shouldn't be much crossover between the two lots of luggage... I should get on with it, really, but I just don't want to do the childrens' stuff with them there. Hmmmmm. Youtube? YOUTUBE. Cheburashka, to be precise...


Some of the later stuff is barely-disguised Soviet propaganda, but my kids don't speak Russian, so it's fine, right?

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT. Go on over and see what everyone else has been doing this week!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Hymns of the Week: 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

The Feast of the Transfiguration falls on Saturday this year (6th August). I'm still trying to find out whether or not this means we'll be celebrating it on Sunday. In any case, there's no conflict between Transfiguration-appropriate and 19th Sunday-appropriate hymns.

Entrance: Immortal, Invisible
Offertory: Lord, Accept the Gifts we Offer
Communion: Soul of my Saviour (continuing the campaign for rehabilitation of "unfashionable" hymns - terrible when done badly, lovely when done right)
Recessional: Praise, my Soul, the King of Heaven

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Fear and Trembling

I don't often do "serious". I don't generally feel qualified to talk about current affairs (ok, with the exception of the EU referendum), since I live in a little bubble of child-herding/preschool runs/cleaning/translating/church/repeat. The news in recent weeks has been so horrific that I can't even bring myself to look at it most days.

The news about Fr. Jacques Hamel yesterday felt like a kick in the gut. It brought everything into very, very sharp focus, and I'm scared.

There's nothing special about St Etienne du Rouvray. It's a French town, like any other. With a parish church, like any other.  With a weekday mass, like any other. With a priest, like any other. And a congregation, like any other. 

This isn't just an attack on a single community, on a single priest. It's an attack on all of us. Another village, another time, another mass... any of us could have been in that congregation. I could so easily have been there. My children could so easily have been there.

So yes, I'm scared. I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I'm not going to give in to fear. "Be not afraid": there's a verb in there. It's an action. We're allowed to be scared, but we must let ourselves be comforted. We must stand up and be counted - in love, not in hatred. We must stand by the people of St Etienne du Rouvray, of Nice, of Paris. Of Turkey. Of Syria. Of Iraq. We must keep praying, keep attending mass, keep loving. We must not let hatred win. 

Hymns of the Week: 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, year C

Entrance: O God our Help in Ages Past
Offertory: In Bread we bring You, Lord
Communion: Do Not Be Afraid
Recessional: Walk in the Light

(Final hymn chosen especially for my eldest daughter, who loves it. She also thinks the words are "Ahhhh-hhhhh, ginger live".)

I did debate using Faith of our Fathers this week, with respect to everything that's been going on in the world of late, but it's a bit too polemical. Whilst I think it's an amazing hymn, the words can be interpreted as encouraging division and conflict, and that's the last thing we need at the moment. Not being afraid seems to be a pretty good starting point, anyway.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Hymns of the Week: 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, year C

Entrance: Seek Ye First
Offertory: In Bread we bring You, Lord
Communion: This is My Body
Recessional: How Great Thou Art

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Hymns of the Week: 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Too late to be any use to anyone this week, but who knows, maybe in three years' time...
To be perfectly honest, this weeks' hymns were picked mostly based on what I can play with no practice. It's been a long week! That said, they all fit in pretty well with the readings (welcoming, following, silence, watching/working, Martha/Mary...)

Entrance: Be Thou My Vision
Offertory: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Communion: Be Still, for the Presence of the Lord
Recessional: Will You Come and Follow Me

Monday, 4 July 2016

Hymns of the Week: 15th Sunday of Ordinay Time, Year C

Entrance: At the Name of Jesus
Offertory: A New Commandment
Communion: Love is His Word
Recessional: Almighty Father, Strong to Save (the collection is for the Apostleship of the Sea this weekend - I haven't just pulled that one from nowhere!)

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Hymns of the Week: 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Everything is a bit crazy round here at the moment, but time, tide and the liturgical year wait for no man, so...

Entrance: Love Divine, all Loves Excelling
Offertory: Blest are You, Lord
Communion: Make me a Channel of Your Peace
Recessional: Our God Reigns (true story: when I was little - we're talking 4 or 5 - I thought the words were "Argos Rains". It still goes through my head every time. Slight giggle risk, but it's relevant to the first reading...)

 Happy Tuesday!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Seven Quick Things, Episode 17: DOOOOOM.

1. Yesterday, the UK voted to leave the European Union. I (along with pretty much everyone I know) am both furious and petrified. Most of the progress in workers' rights, including maternity and paternity leave, over the last 30 years has come through the EU. It looks like we may lose Scotland (and good luck to them, they shouldn't have to put up with the results of England's folly). Far-right groups across Europe are rejoicing at the news, which tells you all you need to know.

2. On a lighter note, can anyone tell me who this is?

It's on a cushion bought in Spain in the later 1980s, copyright Cinema Marketing Corporation, so probably a character in some kind of animated film. Any assistance in identifying the beast would be gratefully received.

3. Also this week, Cardinal Arinze has asked us to stop using the word "Yahweh" in the liturgyPersonally, I've always felt that God has enough titles which can be used reverently, lovingly and respectfully without us needing to make up new words from the Hebrew tetragrammaton, which serves to represent a name which should not be pronounced. Also, the musical value of what a priest friend calls "Yahweh songs" is generally pretty limited, so... no great loss.

4. Our childminder has some pretty amazing ideas for parent presents. Ze Husband got this off R for father's day:

White mug, masking tape letters and drawing-on-mugs pens. Seriously, what a great way of getting a 2-year-old to make something that's actually pretty AND useful!

5. We had some pretty bad news at the end of last week: my parents had their bank account completely cleaned out as the result of a scam. I didn't share the news earlier because it wasn't mine to share, but my parents are keen for people to know what happened to them, just in case it stops someone else from suffering the same fate. The scam is pretty sophisticated, and involves a phone call from "the bank" concerning recent suspicious transactions. The scammers then block the victim's phone line, so that any call they make to their bank to check the details of what's going on goes directly to them. Full details can be found at http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/phone-scams . My parents are both well-educated and not, by any means, elderly. Not only did the scammers take everything in their account (which they used for savings as well as general use), they also took the full arranged overdraft. As my dad actually authorised the transaction (assuming it was a legitimate means of protecting against fraud by transferring funds to a new, "safe" account he'd set up), there is little chance of them getting their money back. Please, PLEASE, if you get a phone call purporting to be from your bank, double-check before you do anything. Before attempting to contact your bank, call someone whose voice you recognise to make sure the scammers aren't still on the line. This HAS to stop.

6. On a more positive note (again) - I keep seeing tiny babies everywhere this week! Es seems huge all of a sudden... somehow, I don't think we'll be stopping at three, but we may need a bigger house first. Four kids in one small bedroom would just be nuts, even for us.

7. The last one is for any desperate Brits out there: all is not lost. Pick a country. Any country...

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT. In the spirit of unity, sharing and friendship across the whole wide interweb, obviously.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Hymns of the Week: 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

Entrance: All People that on Earth do Dwell
Offertory: Take our Bread
Communion: This is my Body
Recessional: Tell Out my Soul ("Follow Me" would have been even more appropriate this week than last, but I make a point of not playing the same hymns two weeks in a row...)

Friday, 17 June 2016

Seven Quick Takes, Episode 16: In which there is an exciting packing crate

It's that time of the week again... 

1. Ze Husband arrived home last night with a disassembled 6' x 3' packing crate in the back of the car. I was going to take a picture, but I can't find the memory card for the camera (technically incompetent? Me? Well, yes). Apparently, he has grand plans for it, so I suspect our activities this weekend may well involve a screwdriver.

2. The EU referendum is less than a week away, and it's all getting rather worrying. For anybody who doesn't know what's going on yet, I wrote this post just for you. In case you hadn't guessed, we're firmly in the "remain" camp round here, and the Leave campaign are doing a bit too well in the polls for our liking. We just have to hope these people see sense in the next six days, otherwise God help us all - because Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Rupert Murdoch certainly aren't going to.

3. Having bilingual kids can have unexpected advantages, as I discovered yesterday in a hospital waiting room when my daughter asked, loudly, why a rather overweight man "had a baby in his tummy". Thankfully, she said it in French, and the man in question either didn't understand, or was kind enough to pretend not to. Oof.

4. We have ants in our house, which is pretty much inevitable with small children who drop food on the floor and badly-fitting French windows. Mx and R spent a good half hour building houses, mazes and playgrounds for two of them with bricks. I'm starting to have second thoughts about exterminating them (the ants, not the children) - anything that can keep two under-5s happy for that amount of time has to be good.

5. Disclosure: I typed most of this post in the car, then when I got back into signal range, it went all funny and I lost takes 3 to 7. Now I can't remember what no.5 was, so I'll add it if and when I remember what it was!

6. This morning, I made a hot drink AND drank it before it went cold. If you don't know why this is newsworthy, then you probably don't have children. 

7. In other news, I've started trying to create some kind of social media presence for this blog. There's a Twitter button at the top right of this page, and I'm now on Bloglovin, so if anyone would like to follow, that would be very kind, thankyouverymuch, have some virtual cake (now wih virtual calories!). I won't be joining Instagram any time soon (see point 1), but am contemplating a Facebook page. Thoughts?

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT - time to go and see what everyone else has been up to!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Hymns of the Week: 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

After my brief foray into politics at the end of last week, normal service resumes...

Entrance: At the Name of Jesus
Offertory: Gifts of Bread and Wine
Communion: One Bread, One Body
Follow Me (it's on the hymns-that-make-me-laugh list, but I'll try to behave)