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Archive for February, 2006

Now, I know that only, like, three people read this blog.  (Which is GREAT by the way.  I LOVE YOU MY THREE READERS!!!!!!!! KEEP COMMENTING.)  But I thought it might be kind of cathartic for me to outline all of the mental blocks I frequently encounter when first feeling the impulse to crack open the iBook and start a post.  I also thought all ya’ll might have some soothing words or good advice for me to help dissolve those mental blocks like so many sugar cubes in a cup of hot tea at the Savoy.  When you are there having Afternoon Tea I mean.  Which I love to do because it is like ALL YOU CAN EAT sandwiches and scones.  And teeny tiny swans actually made out of cream puffs.  Mmmmmmm.

SO anyway, back to these mental blocks.  Maybe ya’ll have encountered them before.  Maybe you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.  Or maybe you are going to be bored out of your mind so in that case I suggest you Stop Reading Now and pour yourself a drink.  Hell, even TAX LAW is interesting after a few gins.

It isn’t?  No?  Well now that I’ve lowered the bar………………

Blogging Myth#1:  Photography is not a hobby of mine, therefore I am not creative.  (Otherwise known as "My blog must display lovely arty photographs on a regular basis in colour-coordinated click-through pop-up boxes in order to be cool and interesting to everyone.")

I am not sure how this distortion worked its way into my brain.   Possibly it has to do with the more pervasive belief I harbor which is that “creativity” refers to “facility with creating anything visual.”  But at any rate, I can occasionally feel the slow poison of sour grapes working its way into my system (and I’m not talking about drinking red wine that’s gone off) when blog after blog that I admire and read feature photoblog wunderkinder who make their living designing websites or writing miles of code or doing other wunderkind tecchi Edward Tufte type things and (conceivably) making flipping great wodges of cash doing it.  I get jealous, I feel inadequate, and (being the bastion of moral fiber that I am) start to employ that all-too-common defense mechanism of muttering things like “Can’t I find ONE PERSON to like who isn’t into photography?” or “Why can’t **I** be this crafty?” or “Why can’t MY boyfriend buy me rare classic roadster sportscar for MY birthday?”  (Errr, wait that last one has nothing to do with taking photos.)  This is rank insecurity and entirely indefensible except for the fact that I’m human and more than a little acquisitive (I have to fight this all the time).

I think I have to reconcile myself to the fact that I am not as creative as I wish I were.  I mean, when I get some precious free time I do not rush to the paint pots or reach for the camera or put together a scrapbook or even start a work of fiction.  In fact, I stopped writing poetry right around my 25th year, which according to T.S. Eliot is the ring-pass-not for any true poetic endeavour (i.e., if you keep writing poetry after that age, you are a “real” poet).  I, like Madonna, am an ASSEMBLER, an appreciator, who can only stand on the shoulders of giants and DERIVE.  Now, I *could* be limited in my definition of creativity by the Romantics, who crept into my university syllabus to convince me that a True Artist Creates From Nothing.  (See The Mirror and The Lamp.)  But it still makes me sad that I cannot design fabric patterns or decorate a room or design a website or arrange objects d’art on a mantelpiece in the way that I’d LIKE to be able to.  I have friends who can do these things, and I admire many more folks from afar, but somehow I never get off my butt and try them for myself.

Or perhaps I’m not naturally wired that way.  What do you all think?  Have you ever felt insecure about the complete lack of photos you take?  You can lie.  I can take it.

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You may not know this, but the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord at the Temple, otherwise known as Candlemas, was celebrated on February 2nd in Anglican and Episcopal churches all over the world. Guest blogging for me today is The Professor, here to tell us about his Candlemas experience:

So I decided to toddle off to Candlemas last night. Actually, I left here at 6.10 and I decided that if I could get to Foggy and find parking and get into the church by 6.30 Jesus wanted me to go, but if I DIDN’T get there in time He didn’t want me to and I would go home. Well, he obviously wanted me to because I zoomed straight there and found ROCK STAR (Jesus Christ Super Star) parking right in front of the church.

Well my dear what a PRODUCTION. You have NEVER seen the like.

FIRST of all, the church was PACKED. I usually like to skulk in the back but there was almost nowhere to sit and I had to go way up in the 4th pew to find a seat (in the dead middle between 2 hugely unfriendly Anglo-Catholics, one of whom stepped on my feet and other wouldn’t pass the peace to me!). Where do all these Anglo-Catholics come from? I swear the church was as full as ours for Easter.

SECOND of all, what a crew! Two bishops, including that odd little Bishop of Quincy who we heard preach there once before (you will remember that he wore the most enormous bejeweled mitre and talked about how much he lurved Anglo-Catholicism). There were also three Guardians of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. And the outfits: capes and copes and capallettas and beanies.

THIRD, it was an orchestral High Pontifical Mass, with a full orchestra and all three parish choirs (blissful boys). It was a Schubert Mass and I must say it was transportingly lovely. It actually is nice to hear some of this fantastic sacred music performed liturgically. But it was LONG.

FOURTH, the psalm was – you guessed it – QUAM DILECTA set to the CHH Parry setting I love so much. Oh transports. This is my reward for putting up the shenanigans I describe below:

The arrival of the Davenports. This really isn’t a shenanigan, but is interesting. Father Lane AND CHILD (really cute little kid about 4 years old) came in slightly late and had to sit in a row of chairs set up in front of the first pew. I will say that the child behaved admirably. He must be used to it.

The blessing of the candles. Such a rigmarole. First, the “candles” were actually piled up in cardboard boxes set up on some chairs in a corner of the chancel (I had imagined bunches of church candles tied up in silk ribbons. HA). The blessing consisted of much putting on and taking off of the bishop’s mitre, incense, holy water, and many many collects.

Distribution of the candles. After the blessing, we all had to troop up to the altar rail and collect a diminutive taper whilst the choir sang “Ave Maria.” The creepy little bishop handed me a taper from a silver tray, and then we all lit the tapers to hold during the procession (which has distressing overtones of Christmas Eve service in Methodist church with hand-held tapers during the singing of “Silent Night”). Nunc Dimittis and Phos Hilaron were sung, both to settings I didn’t know nor particularly like.

Procession. Extremely smoky procession sets off (at a SNAIL’S PACE, I don’t know why they walk so super slow there, I suppose to manufacture gravitas) with all these Guardians and canons and priests and bishops. We sang some very unedifying hymns about Our Lord and Our Lady and “aged Simeon.”

The Station at the Lady Shrine: Candlemas is ALSO the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so lots of scope for obsequies to the dolly. More incense and cringe-making prayers about the Virgin.

Wardrobe change: at the conclusion of all this, the bishop changed clothes (into a rather nice chasuble that unfortunately fell almost to the floor on his Lilliputian lordship). The mass proper began at this point and it was 7:30.

Sermon was from a very funny English bishop (in another extraordinary get-up) and was mainly about the appeal they are launching for the Walsingham Shrine in Norfolk.

Fairly typical mass, with excessive removal and replacement of headgear (putting on and taking the mitre off every other minute just looks stupid, and since the bish wore a pink beanie under it, he was constantly adjusting both after every replacement). Strange Eucharistic Prayer that started off Rite I but ended with “put all things under subjection to your Christ… gather us into that heavenly country” which I’m sure is Rite II, but language changed to Old and True.

I made my communion at 8.30. At that point I decided that Jesus wanted me to go home and eat (so tempting to go get a burger and a martini somewhere, but must economise!). So I got me some Most Precious Body and noticed whilst I was gazing upon Our Lord in the bishop’s hand that his cassock was COMPLETELY frayed and work through at the cuffs! Threadbare Catholicism. Made an exit, missing the Episcopal blessing but also avoiding two rather egregious Marian hymns (Mary, Mary Meek and Lowly).

Weirdly, on my way out I ran into Father Davenport and the mini-D-port also leaving, so I felt fully justified in my early departure!

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