Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pentecost Report

Pentecost was a wonderful celebration...and lots and lots of work!

Since the number of expected guests was greater than the little chapel could hold, the Mass was to be held outside. I am not a fan of outdoor Masses, but this one could hardly have been any better, both because of the beauty of the liturgical elements, and because the weather cooperated.

The priest used pallets he obtained for free to build a platform to serve as the sanctuary; then he covered it with plywood, and added link-together pads on top of that for a more forgiving surface. The altar was created from cinder blocks and a discounted counter top.

I finished the dossal curtain, and refurbished the altar antependium.

Father always adds a carpet, too:

The final effect was quite pleasing:

The cost in terms of labor was high. The priest did most of the construction work himself, and I spent hours on the sewing (we had to create a cover for the altar to which the antependium could be attached, and we also needed a cover for the little cabinet that was serving as a credence table). The priest finished the outdoor work just as the last traces of sunlight were disappearing, and I was up till 2am finishing the sewing. 

But it was well worth the effort. I wish more priests were willing to put that kind of effort into making the liturgical setting beautiful and reverent, as befits Our Lord, the King of the Universe! 

One reason I dislike outdoor Masses is that my experience has been that something of a carnival atmosphere prevails. Indeed, even in this setting, with pious faithful who are well aware of the Real Presence, of the dignity of the altar, etc., there was some of that carnival atmosphere before Mass. In part that was due to the discussion of the need for canopies to be erected (and there was definitely a need, as the sun rose higher and it became warmer), and in part it was because it is difficult not to be distracted by the birds, the breeze, the squirrels, and even the beauty of nature. But also, when we are outside in a group, I think we all tend to feel like we're about to have a picnic (and there was an outdoor potluck afterwards!). So there was quite a bit of chit-chat going on before Mass, but once Mass began, there was barely a peep even from the babies in the congregation.

My voice was not great for singing, but prayers were answered by the arrival of a man who was willing and able to chant the propers! That made three of us in the schola, and I think it went well.

I hope you all had a magnificent Pentecost as well! I am currently enjoying the Octave which follows in the old calendar!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another Dog Down

I had a nice retreat…except that I came down with a cold (shared with me by my daughter), and have been feeling under the weather ever since – a full week now. I think I am on the mend at this point. That’s good, because I am scheduled to return to my favorite place this weekend for Pentecost. The cold also included severe laryngitis (literally no voice for two days), and that is improving as well. Since I’m supposed to sing the propers for the Masses, I am hoping for a complete recovery soon!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my illness was compounded with pet-grief as we euthanized our old yellow Labrador, Misty. Misty would have been 13 years old this year, and she started going downhill fast. She has been stumbling a lot for the last few months, and has clearly been in pain, which we have tried to control with medication. She became noticeably worse during my absence on retreat. Going in and out of the house entails some steep stairways, and I’ve been worried about her falling down while trying to negotiate the steps. That started happening, too. And she was getting knocked over by our other rambunctious dogs, as well.

My daughter with Misty,
 in the beginning
So…Misty is gone now. It’s always hard to lose a pet, isn’t it?

Misty, near the end
The weather matches my mood, too: rainy, dreary. But not cold, at least. And because it is so rainy, everything is very green. My drive to and from my retreat was gray and dreary, too, but also quite pretty in a green-and-gray-rainy-day sort of way.

While I was on retreat, I started work on another dossal curtain for my spiritual director - red, this time, for Pentecost. I had to finish it up at home because I became too sick to work on it there. The main challenge with the dossal curtain is that it is just so BIG! My new 8-foot-long table at home was very helpful.

My husband, ever the supportive spouse, surprised me with a sign which he’d had made by a local guy; he mounted it on the door of my workroom while I was out of the house. Pretty cool, huh?!

Life goes on.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

More Ora et More Labora

I'm off to my favorite place for a few days for a much-needed retreat. I'm happy that I will be celebrating the Solemnity of the Ascension on the proper day: Thursday!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you some changes in my workroom.

First, I decided the little table I had was just too little. So my husband bought a full-size (4'x8') sheet of plywood and we we placed it on top of the existing table, and he added some support legs. The legs you see in the photo are the original table; the legs my husband added came after this photo was taken.

At first I thought I would just put a few coats of varnish on the painted plywood, and have a smooth table top. Then, rethinking it, I thought it would be good to have a cloth-covered surface. So...

It's working out nicely. When I'm laying out an antependium, the fabric  doesn't slide around on the table, and is easier to work with in a lot of ways. Same with the linen.

But when I have to pin, it's better to have a hard surface underneath. I took care of that with a thin piece of whatever-you-call-it that is a little more sturdy than cardboard, but isn't quite wood. It was a piece salvaged from a put-it-together-yourself desk that I had previously dismantled. I saved the pieces though, thinking they might come in handy for other purposes. You can see the piece of hard surface in the photo below, along with the sea of white that resulted from a request for 24 purificators:

I had received an order for an antependium for an altar that was 7 feet long, and that's what prompted me to go with the larger table top in the first place. And I was very happy that I had done it! Here's the first antependium I made using the new table, which is for the Cathedral in Santa Rosa:

They won't use this antependium till Pentecost, so I am trying to wait patiently for photos of it actually installed on the altar.

So that's my labora-tory. Haha.

I'll leave you now with a few pretty nature pictures:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

It's Spring

Well, it seemed like spring last week, anyway, when we had warm, wind-less days, and blue skies. The high temps were reaching up into the mid-70's! I thought I was going to have to get serious about my hunt for a new window air conditioner for the chapel (seriously, it can get very warm in there during the afternoon, even if the outside temp is not too high).

But the last few days, it's been cold again. There has been ice on the water in the doggie swimming pools in the morning, and the wind has been blowing, too. This is why the locals say not to plant anything before Mother's Day around here.

Still, there are signs of the season all around. The trees are getting leaves, the daffodils have come and mostly gone.

The irises are taking off (I don't have a photo yet, but may add one later).

 I discovered one random tulip that appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the lawn. How did that happen?! I have no idea. There are actually 2 tulips, but one remained very small and never blossomed. We used to have more tulips around the house, but I don't know where they all went. Perhaps more are waiting to pop up randomly in future years. It's a mystery!

And there are baby robins. I noticed that there was a nest in the tree right next to the chapel (last year the doves nested there, and I think robins did, too). This time, I noticed the mother robin sitting on her nest very early, maybe even before there were actually eggs in there. One day, when she was away, I snuck a peek (the branch where the nest is located is just a little above eye level) and saw a couple of bright blue eggs. I was surprised at how blue they actually were.

I waited and waited, along with Mama Bird. I read that the gestation period was about two weeks, and kept thinking "any day now!" Finally, I snuck a peek again, and could barely make out a bit of fuzz. A few days more and I could see their little beaks pointed upwards, sometimes with their mouths open. A few days after that, I heard them chirping wildly for their food.

Here's Mama Bird; can you see her? Her yellow beak is to the right, and her tail is sticking up at the left.

Here are the babies with their beaks showing:

Today I peaked again, and there were three little beaks pointed to the sky.

I'm trying not to worry too much about them meeting their demise before they have even learned to fly. Last year, it seemed they all left the nest prematurely, because they really couldn't fly very well. A couple were picked off by the magpies, and at least one died at the of one of the dogs. 

I have posted a little statue of St. Francis of Assisi near the tree to keep watch, but I know it is not likely all three will survive. God's will be done!

*** *** *** ***

And...I've been wanting to post a few photos, so I think I will choose the theme of "The Moon". If you've ever tried to take photos of the moon, you know it is difficult to make the camera show what you have seen! I'm sure I would have more success with something other than my cell phone, but these turned out pretty nice regardless:

This was first thing in the morning as the moon was setting.

This was also in the morning, a little later than the previous one.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.