Thursday, April 15, 2010

Catholic Funerals

Calm down, no one's dead. Well, people die every day, but no one I know has passed recently (knock wood, turn around three times and spit on someone who deserves it).

But a Facebook and Ravelry acquaintance just put out a plea for advice on Catholic funeral protocol since she's attending one tomorrow. Since the half of me that isn't Jewish is Catholic , here's the lowdown.

You don't have to wear all black and it's OK to leave tattoos and piercings exposed.

If there's a wake/viewing on a day before the funeral, you can attend that and that's it, depending on how close you are to the family.

If the viewing right before the funeral is family only, you won't be told when it is. If people are passing around viewing times, you can be sure that you're not intruding.

If they have a Rosary service, you can attend, but you don't have to. If they have a funeral mass, go if you want to or feel that you want to support the family. There are missals all over the church that contain much of the mass' text, so you can know when and how to respond to things. Kneel, sit and stand when the people in the front rows do, though the missal also includes those instructions.

If you are not Catholic, do NOT take communion. Protestants may hand out wafers to any Christian, but not Catholics. It may taste like styrofoam, but Catholics take that shizz very seriously.

Since there's just been a whole mass in church, the graveside service is small and is usually attended by family and close friends.

OK, now here's the thing that will impress the Catholics with your knowledge of their mysterious culture: Mass Cards. You make a set donation ($10-15 ish) to a group of nuns or priests and they say a mass for the deceased person. They may even add the person's name to a list of people they pray for regularly. The actual card is a greeting card informing the family. They're not expected from non-Catholics, but they're a nice touch. My mother won't leave the house for a wake without getting her hands on a mass card. It's kind of like a casserole in that sense.

You can get a mass card from a Catholic person, since they probably have a few stashed in a drawer. The funeral home may also have them. Once you send in your donation to the nuns, they'll keep sending you mass cards for future use, so hold onto them. The nuns may also send rosary beads. Give them to a Catholic--they'll pass them along to someone who can use them.

If your co-workers do a condolence card and chip in for a charitable donation, you can take some of the money for a mass card.

Any questions?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sweater Quest

Adrienne Martini's latest book is about her quest to tackle the knitter's Mount Everest--knitting a highly complicated sweater from an out-of-print pattern that combines a lot of colors which makes substituting the original, out-of-production yarn a challenge.

I've seen pictures of Alice Starmore designed sweaters online and I haven't been stricken with the desire to make any of them. Since the many colors thing can look a little busy and the sweaters themselves are boxy, they're not the most flattering garments. But AS is considered a genius of color theory and sometimes making something complicated is the entire point of a project.

I figured so what if the sweater wasn't to my taste. I'm a little more than halfway through reading the book and I'm enjoying it. (And it explains the knitting stuff so that nonknitters can read too. It's not a knitting book as much as it is a book about following an obsession.)

Last week I saw Adrienne's finished sweater in person and holy crap is it beautiful. Looking at it broke my brain for a moment. I have a photo of the whole thing, but I'm not going to post it since AS is a bit litigious. (I'm not going to go into it. Read the book or look online for the story if you're interested. And also? Litigious and therefore controversial knitwear designer? This book is sounding juicer every moment, no?)

But here's a closeup of the design. My cell phone picture doesn't do it justice. But holy cow, right?

And this one shows how critical the color choices are in a project like this. Look at the garish green stripe in the square at the bottom and compare it to the olivey green that was used in the final sweater. Not all greens are created equal.

The book event where I beheld the sweater was at Om Yoga, and involved a 30 minute yoga class. I've been doing yoga since 2002, so ordinarily I'd be all over a free yoga class, but I was smited by migraine that day, so I went late so I could be there fore the reading and knitting. (Thank the knitting gods that the medicine I took for the headache actually worked that time. It doesn't always.) My migraines have really been kicking my ass the past few weeks, so it was a minor triumph to get out of the house for something besides a doctor's appointment. (If you've never suffered a migraine, I'll just say that if brain tumors hurt (which they don't because there are no nerves inside your brain) than a migraine is what they'd feel like. In fact, it hurts just to write or think about it, so I'll change the subject before I end up communing with my couch and an icepack.)

My knitting has been confined to making 150 elves which will be the favors at my brother's wedding on May 1. I can't remember a time when I wasn't knitting these things, but I'm on schedule to have them all done on time. But woe to anyone who gets in the way of me taking a picture of all of them together because you don't climb your personal Everest without taking a few pictures.

I Got the Church Giggles at Sedar

That pretty much sums up the entire story I've been meaning to get around to writing up. But really, the story of someone else's church giggles is only funny if they re-enact the entire thing and the real point of my telling you is to share the reason. I lost my shit while reading and pointing to the matzah because I couldn't stop thinking about Slate's 2 Minute Sedar.

It didn't help that the first section I had to read is summarized thus:
A funny story: Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning.

Because seriously? What is the point of that story anyway? They stayed up talking all night about the exodus. Well, good for them, but we have a dozen goyim waiting to eat and forcing toddlers to sit at a formal dinner table while forbidding them to eat is just mean.