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)

Friday, 10 June 2016

Seven Quick Takes, Episode 15: in which my 2-year-old has a girlfriend

The end of last week was a bit chaotic, so this is the first 7QT of the month around here...

1. Yesterday, the childminder informed me that one of the girls she looks after had been kissing R, and he'd been kissing her back. Honestly. Two-year-olds these days...
(I suspect the fact he's only there one day a week gives him an air of mystery, or something. That, and he really is a terrible flirt). I don't think I'm quite ready to deal with a daughter-in-law yet.

2. In other, somewhat similar news, Mx appears to have acquired an imaginary friend. His (or her) name is "melon-l'eau", which is a literal translation of "watermelon" from English to French. The actual word is pastèque, just in case anyone was wondering. Anyway, this friend apparently lives a long way away, and would have to go on a boat to come and see us. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

3. Mx, Es and I went on a school trip yesterday. We went to a wildfowl reserve. They had baby moorhens, which are possibly the cutest baby birds in existence.

The picture doesn't do them justice, but you get the idea. They're like little balls of black fluff with a red beak, and I think I want one.

4. Black Books.  I understand we're about fifteen years behind everyone else here, but how did I not know about this series before? Ze Husband and I have replaced our Friday evening 30 Rock binge (ok, ok, three episodes, any more and we'd fall asleep) with this for the last couple of weeks. For anyone who hasn't seen it, the entire series is available for free (in the UK) on All4. If you like Fr Ted and The IT Crowd, you'll like this.

5. This week, Es has decided that her sister is the Funniest Person Ever. Es is a very (very) happy baby, but she doesn't usually laugh out loud - she prefers to express joy by lying on her back and kicking her legs a lot. For some reason, however, she now bursts into giggles every time she sees Mx. That right there is a Very Good Reason to have lots of children, in my book.

6. My sister is applying for a summer job as... a fairy. No, that's not a typo. A garden centre near my parents' is looking for people to guide children around some kind of enchanted garden exhibit. How amazing would that look on a CV? "Employment history: Fairy". I worked as a house-elf (read: chambermaid) then a stores gnome (read: logistics operative) when I was at university, so it seems like "mythical" jobs might run in the family...

7. There's been a lot of talk about the film Me Before You over the last couple of weeks, so I decided to see what it was all about (not by seeing the film, you understand. I haven't been in a cinema since I went to see Les Misérables with my dad, and before that, it was the last Harry Potter. No, I looked up the plot on Wikipedia). When I got to the end, my jaw literally dropped open. WHAT are these people thinking? Maybe I'm naive, and yes, I live in my own little bubble with limited media exposure, but I just cannot get my brain around the fact that people consider that "romantic" in any way.

On that note, R is requesting "breakfast" (at 4.30pm), so I need to go before he starts helping himself to food. Over and out!

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT. 


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The "new" Saint Anthony Hymn (NSFC)

NSFC: Not Safe For Church. Just in case you were wondering...
(there's nothing scandalous or heretical in it, it's just not Mass material!)

To the tune of Christ be our Light

Where are my keys? I thought I had them
Now they're not here, and I'm locked out
No-one will be home until tea-time
Help me, St. Anthony...

Saint Anthony, finder of keys, purses and wallets
Saint Anthony, help find our stuff, show us the way

Where is my phone? Not in my handbag
Don't know the time, I can't call home
Without my phone, my life is chaos
Help me, St. Anthony...


Where is my wife? Not where I left her
Asda is huge - where can she be?
Without her here, I'll just buy ice-cream
Help me, St. Anthony...


Feel free to use as you see fit (for non-commercial ends only ;-) )

Hymns of the Week: 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

This week is a bit different here since we're celebrating our parish patronal feast day (St Anthony) on Sunday. So:

Entrance: For all the Saints
Offertory: I heard the Voice of Jesus Say (the congregation don't know this one very well, but it's one of my Absolute Favourites of All Time, and the choir have learnt it, so it's a good opportunity to introduce it)
Communion: Soul of my Saviour (I know, this one can elicit groans from the younger generation - but if it's done well, i.e. not in a dirge-like manner, it really is very lovely)
Recessional:St Anthony Hymn (to the tune of Christ be our Light. I suspect this is a parish exclusive).

Coming soon: a new version of the St Anthony Hymn, not quite... reverent enough for Mass, but possibly more reflective of most people's real relationship with the saint... watch this space!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

What I've been reading: April-May

This time around, I'm trying not to let being back at work stop me from reading for fun. Because I work with words, it can be hard to switch out of professional mode and back into normal reader mode. If I've been translating, I try to avoid reading anything that has been translated (from French to English or English to French). If I've been editing, then there's no hope and I go and do something else...

Books from the past couple of months have included:

1. Helen Macdonald,  H is for Hawk. 

This made quite a lot of noise when it first came out, so when I spotted it in the local library, I thought I'd see what the fuss was about. The verdict? Definitely worth a read. The only issue for me was that I read most of it whilst feeding Es, and I ended up projecting Mabel the baby goshawk onto Es the baby human, to the point where I felt like I was breastfeeding a bird of prey. That bit was...bizarre.

2. Ben Aaronovitch, Moon over Soho.

My parents introduced me to the Rivers of London series a while back, but I've been reading them all in the wrong order (not particularly advisable, it gets confusing in places). This is the second in the series, and I'm starting to understand some of what happened in the fourth and fifth volumes a bit better now! I finally managed to get volume 1 from the library just this week, so hopefully I'll be able to fill in the gaps.

3. Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant.

Relaxing, but not mindless, reading. I'd actually be more interested in using the source documents Kate Grenville used for her research, but that's probably just me.

4. Charlotte Mendelson, Almost English.

I am struggling to find words to express how much I disliked this book, and I have no idea how it ended up shortlisted for the Orange Prize. I was expecting something along the lines of Marina Lewycka (quirky, fun, pure escapism), but...no.The only reason I actually carried on reading to the end is that I started it when I was ill, so I thought my appreciation of the book might have been skewed by fever-dreams. It wasn't.

5. Chautona Havig, Aggie's Inheritance (series).

Hear me out on this one.

As far as I can tell, Chautona Havig is a fairly prolific writer of self-published e-books, all of which are free to read with Kindle Unlimited (I had a one-month free trial). She writes evangelical Christian romance, which would usually make me run a mile. However, based on a positive review online and the fact the books were free, I decided to give this series a shot.

Unreliable proofreading aside, I actually really enjoyed it. All the escapism of classic chicklit (I hate the term, but it serves a purpose) without the gratuitous, and usually badly-written, sex. It is, esentially, good, clean fun. Yes, even for Catholics.

More (hopefully) next month!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Five Favourites: IT pranks (!)

Just a quick heads-up before we start: I'm in the process of switching back from an AZERTY to a QWERTY keyboard, so please forgive any wonky typing...
(Given around 30% of my typing happens in French, I miss the accent keys, but it's pretty hard to get a non-QWERTY keyboard over here, and I couldn't really wait until our next trip to France to replace my dysfunctional computer. I am aware that none of this is likely to interest anyone but me, but this is my blog, so NA.).

I'm not an IT whiz or anything, but I do enjoy winding people up from time to time, and my favourite way of doing it is by interfering with their computers. I have used all of these methods at one time or another on unsuspecting friends and family members (obviously, people close enough for me using their computers to appear completely normal). I suspect some of them could be quite fun with teenagers, too, but I won't have any of those here for another nine years yet.

NB: Discretion should be used in attempting any of these, especially if your target is in the middle of some Really Important Work. Also, try to be around to "fix" the computer afterwards! ;-) 

1. The auto-correct modification.
Go into the auto-correct options in Word, and create a few new (and random) entries; for example, replace the name of the person's hometown with "Mordor", or the word "more" with "more cowbell", or "next week" with "Zombie apocalypse". Simple, but effective.

2. The desktop transformation.
Take a screenshot of the person's desktop. Now, create a new folder and put all of their shortcuts into it. Finally, replace the desktop photo with your new screenshot. The desktop will look exactly as it did before, but none of the shortcuts will work.

3. The Scouse computer manipulation.
In the dim and distant past, I worked in the warehouse for a small tech parts firm with two men in their late 50's, who both left early on Fridays. One Friday evening, I replaced all the classic Windows sounds with other sounds taken from my brother's Lemmings disc. When the others started up the computer on Monday morning, instead of the usual Windows sounds, it shouted "Eeeeello!" in a strong Liverpool accent. I claimed ignorance, but I think they knew it was me.
NB: don't do this to a work computer unless you know your colleagues and your company's IT policy really well, or you could get into a lot of trouble, and we wouldn't want that.

4. The Kindle communication.
I've been modifying the device name displayed at the top of my Dad's Kindle screen on a regular basis for months now, so it looks like Amazon are sending him random, and sometimes mildly provocative, messages ("name, have you STILL not finished Middlemarch?). He still hasn't twigged. One of my sisters is helping, too, so there's no obvious connection between us visiting and the message changing.

5. The phantom mouse configuration.
This one requires a bit of hardware, but it's fun. Install a wireless mouse on the computer in addition to the existing mouse. Stick around, then have fun moving the cursor round the screen when your target is attempting to use the computer. Make sure you check the range of the wireless equipment beforehand, and find somewhere to work from where it won't be obvious what you're up to.

All of these are most effective if you're NOT an IT geek or known for playing pranks on people. Have fun - and let me know if you have any success!

Linking up with Bonnie for Five Favourites.


Hymns of the Week: 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

After all the liturgical excitment (is that a thing?) of the last few weeks, we're back to Ordinary Time now...

Entrance: The Lord's my Shepherd (not this week's psalm, and there aren't even any sheep in the readings, but it fits the general theme! Also, I like it...)
Offertory: Blest are You, Lord
Communion: Do Not Be Afraid
Recessional:Amazing Grace

True story: last week, I ended up changing three of the hymns twenty minutes before the start of Mass because I hadn't had time to practice and needed things I could actually play. Here's hoping things go a bit better (read: no-one develops a tummy bug or, worse, man-flu) this week.