Saturday 15 November 2008

Oldies But Goodies...

These are two hoary old chestnuts of teaching lore.  They are, however, still very, very funny, and render me liable to fits of giggles whenever I stumble across this sort of question "for real" !

Twitch of the mantilla to Andrew at Unam Sanctam.

I Won... I Won!...

Well, ok, I was just one of several winners, but who's counting?  The Original-and-Best Catholic Neanderthal has chosen my blog to receive his "coolest blog" award.

Not entirely convinced that lilac butterflies are cool, but an award's an award, and I got mine.


It was especially nice because I have been neglecting the blog a bit of late (I've been busy.  And tired.  And probably anaemic.  And ranting about stuff needs energy...) and I just happened to find it on Cavey's blog (he doesn't do "com-box announcements", it seems!)

The rules (which Cavey forgot to mention) are that you pick 10 blogs, tell them they have won an award and link back to the person who gave it to you first.

So, now to pass it on.  I think these blogs are pretty cool...

1.  Leutgeb's - Bara Brith
2.  Karen's - Gem of the Ocean
3.  Fr. Ray Blake's - St. Mary Magdalen
4.  Fr. Tim Finigan's - The Hermeneutic of Continuity
5.  Anna Arco's - Catholic Herald Diary
6.  Jackie Parkes' - Catholic Mom of 10
7.  Paulinus' - In Hoc Signo Vinces
8.  Ttony's - The Muniment Room
9.  Newhousenewjob's - Just Doing My Best
10. The Mother of This Lot's - Mother's Pride

Unfortunately, there are so many more blogs I wanted to mention...

Winter Warmer

This has become a parish tradition: a lunch, with a few stalls, run by our Union of Catholic Mothers.

The lunch is simple, but very good.  On the menu today was pumpkin soup (I understand that this was delicious, but having a severe aversion to anything remotely resembling a vegetable, I didn't partake... you'll just have to take Leutgeb's word for it, and, as she's an excellent cook herself, I think that's a pretty safe bet!) with fresh French bread, followed by sandwiches, tea and a mince pie.  Not at all bad for £4.

There was mulled wine available, and popcorn, a couple of raffles (I don't recall what the prizes were, and I rarely win anything anyway, but that's not the point, so I just bought some tickets...), a flower stall, and, my all-time favourite, the cakes' stall.  We have some seriously good bakers among our UCM members.  I made a bee-line for this stall and promptly snaffled a rather nice Christmas cake, (which will do well as a little offering on Christmas Day when I go down to visit my sister), a cake, iced in virulent green icing (but enticingly labelled "sultana-and-sherry") which will make an appearance in the Science Faculty office on Monday morning (it's going to be a tough week ahead, so we will need a little treat!) and a small jam-and-cream-filled Victoria sponge which is mine, all mine!

I also bought some little chocolate cup cakes, which will just have to be eaten quickly, lest they go stale.  It's such an onerous task, but I guess I'll have to try...

Food For Thought...

At the Union of Catholic Mothers' Winter Warmer event this lunchtime, I got into a conversation about narrow escapes...  The woman I was chatting to recounted how her son and his wife had been shoved along the motorway (for some distance) by a lorry and somehow had escaped injury.

"Yes," she said, "I went and put some money in the poor box in church, because someone was definitely looking out for them..."

The way she said it, it seemed a perfectly natural connection to make between almsgiving and thanksgiving... but I'd never heard it made before (I'd always associated almsgiving with penance!) What a wonderful response... it definitely gave me food for thought!

Friday 14 November 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Life has sort of taken over... It's been hectic at school, getting progress reports done, and having Parents' Evening, and this evening I just wanted to chill out away from the computer (there was a particularly good pistachio ice cream with my name on it!) and I'm now going to go to bed.

Normal blogging service will resume shortly...

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Just In Case You Were Wondering...

... What to get me for Christmas...? Ok, ok, it's a long-shot, I know, but I quite liked this little arrangement!

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Z (and I want to know if he gets one!)

A Day Out...

I had one of those "Insect Days" today*.  It was a personal one, in that I was out on a training course, rather than a whole-school one (where the students are off, but the teachers are not!) Alas, it wasn't in Barcelona... however, Barcelona might have been a little easier to get to, and I believe that the journey is about the same length!

My INSET day was in Islington, at the Hilton Hotel, and it was a training day on how to teach the new GCE AS/A Level Biology specification.  The fact that we have been teaching the new specification since September is beside the point... it takes the Exam Boards a little bit of time to catch up... after all, they have to work out what's going to be in the exam first!

As the only road-route from my home to Islington would have involved driving through the centre of town (in the morning rush hour), thereby incurring the Congestion Charge and exorbitant parking fees, followed by the joys of driving back through the centre of town during the evening rush hour, I decided that it probably wasn't going to be practical. So, I was forced to use public transport.

The journey would have been pretty straightforward, if I hadn't had one of my blonde moments. I needed to get to the Angel, Islington, a tube station on the Northern Line.  I remembered that the Northern Line went through both London Bridge and Charing Cross... so a train going to either of those two London stations would be ok.  And I remembered that trains to these two stations left from Sidcup every 15 minutes or so, whereas trains from my nearest station only went to one of these stations, every half hour.

In a moment of what I thought was sheer inspiration I decided that, by driving to Sidcup, I would double my chances of getting a train, and it would make my evening easier too, as I had to go to Eltham afterwards.  I happily caught the first train to arrive at the platform, which happened to be the Charing Cross train, and congratulated myself on my inspired decision...

Unfortunately my inspired decision forgot to take into account the little fact that the Northern Line has two separate branches.

The Angel, Islington is on one branch.  Charing Cross is on the other.

I did arrive, eventually, albeit a little late...

Going home was much simpler.  I did have to run the gauntlet of several charity workers who were busy accosting passers-by in an attempt to drum up funding.  It was interesting to observe the different techniques they employed.  Avoiding eye contact with them, and walking briskly seemed to put most of them off, but one young man seemed to have this sussed: he waved his hands (and you can't help but look, as the human eye is automatically drawn to movement) and then smiled in a very engaging way (and you can't help responding to a smile) and then he started his little speech walking backwards in front of me...  Such persistence deserved a few minutes of my time, though, as the charity concerned has connections with the Brook, I didn't part with any money!

* "Insect Days" (the nickname is given because so many children mis-hear the phrase!) are actually "INSET days" (in-service training days) for teachers.  The individual training courses (usually subject specific) are often quite useful; the whole-school days are generally a waste of time!

Monday 10 November 2008

And So It Begins...

... A snippet heard this morning on the radio.  Barack Obama's advisors are indicating that some of the first changes to be brought in include rescinding the ban on funding for organisations which promote reproductive "rights" (abortion) and allowing stem cell research.

Sunday 9 November 2008

We Shall Remember Them...

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this morning's High Mass was a Requiem for Remembrance Sunday.  I really, really like the Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form... it really brings home the idea that one should pray for the souls of the deceased.  I particularly enjoyed the first reading, from the Book of Maccabees, where Judas Maccabeus makes an offering on behalf of those who have died... it's a real answer to anyone who doubts the existence of Purgatory, for if a person goes straight to heaven, they aren't in need of our prayers, and if a person goes straight to hell, our prayers will be pretty pointless, so, by praying for the dead, we indicate that there must be some place the dead go to be purified...

(And Jesus himself commends this practice of making an offering on behalf of the dead in his discourse with the Sadducees...)

There was an impressive catafalque, covered with a black pall, which apparently was the focus of much speculation by some of the younger members of the parish (and, as Leutgeb pointed out over at her blog, by some of the not-so-young parishioners also!)  Note the unbleached candles...
We had the sermon after the Mass (as is usual at a Requiem, though I am unsure why this is so) and absolutions at the catafalque at the end.

The choir have been singing the Rossini propers up until now, as the propers given in the Graduale are quite complicated, and I've been typing out the words with modern notation on Sibelius.  However, Rossini doesn't have a psalm tone for the Requiem propers, so, with a week's notice, the choir had to get to grips with the plainchant and square notes too.  They did amazingly well, and the music was so uplifting, especially the Dies irae.  
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