Sunday, February 27, 2011

Church Review: Holy Rosary

It has bee a while since I last wrote, I realize, and I have no good excuse aside from general exhaustion, lots of social commitments (people want me at their parties, which is still more than a bit flattering to me), and bad weather malaise.  But the weather shaped up to be gorgeous this weekend so, feeling adventurous, I checked out a new church.  Beware: this one's Italian!

Holy Rosary
595 3rd St. NW
Holy Rosary is an unassuming church from the outside, located a block from Judiciary Square (or, as they say it on the Metro, Joo-dish-ee-ary) and the National Building Museum, near where 395 plunges into the earth so it can burrow under the Capitol Reflecting Pool between 3rd St. and the Ulysses Grant monument.  It's an easy walk from my place, although I took the Metro up from Chinatown since I didn't have time to walk from home (Mass at noon, I slept late because I was out at a housewarming until two in the know how it is).  And, although the Metro decided it was fine to take 15 minutes to go three stops, and although I should by rights have been late to Mass since I didn't get there until several minutes past noon, I was still on time.  God bless the Italians and their penchant for starting things late.

Although the exterior is modest and unassuming, the interior - in typical "remember the Renaissance?" Italian style - is gorgeous.  If, of course, you like Neo-Baroque with a hint of Rococo. 
See?  Marble, gold, carved angels, stained glass - the whole nine yards.  While I like the understated Palladianism of St. Peter, anyone who knows me knows that I also have a soft spot for the Baroque (or the Neo-Baroque, which is the closest you'll ever get to the real thing in this country), and this church fits that expectation perfectly.  I am particularly delighted by some of the details:
Mosaic floors...

...vivid stained glass windows...

...and lovely mosaic stations of the cross, for example.  Even more intriguing is that this is a very small church - smallest, I've been in, in fact, perhaps half the length of St. Dominic and certainly not as wide, which makes it feel more exclusive, and allows the art to saturate the space more effectively than the same amount of art in a larger church.  It's like going to Mass in a jewel-box.  

Of course, it being an Italian church with an Italian language Mass at 10 (some day, when I'm feeling courageous...), there is a little Italian priest behind the marble altar, his English slurred and monotone, more likely not because of a stroke, but because his mother tongue is the music of la bella lingua, not flat American English.  A wiry but frail man with a touch of Parkinson's, he totters between the altar and his seat - there is no room for another podium beside the cantor, a burly man who could be a mafia enforcer, and I doubt that he (the priest) could make it up to the top of the raised ambo without considerable assistance - for the prayers, and then informs us that in place of a homily, we will listen to a recorded message from Cardinal Wuerl, since this weekend is the kickoff of the Cardinal's appeal (D.C.'s version of the yearly bishop's appeals which each diocese in the country holds at this time of year to raise money for diocesan programs).  I started tuning the message out when the cardinal mentioned that the money would support, among other things, unspecified "pro-life programs," and resolved that I would give to the various parishes in the archdiocese which need donations to stay open, rather than to the cardinal so he can lobby Congress to restrict access to family planning facilities and end federal aid for Planned Parenthood.  So there.

To soothe my affronted political sensibilities Holy Rosary kindly providing laughing children and an actual organ - the only complaint I have to level against St. Peter, which is approaching the status of home base more than any other church, is its overly-bombastic pianist - with old hymns to match.  It is surprising how many churches have dispensed entirely, it seems, with use of the organ - more than half of those that I have visited, I would say.  In certain ways, I am a traditionalist at heart.

So, how does Holy Rosary score?

Location: 4 - close enough to walk pretty easily, but not exactly in the neighborhood
Aesthetics: 5 - delightful little jewel box with charming details, a great altar, and splendid stained glass
Liturgy: 2 - although it may be better without pre-recorded sermons from the cardinal
Music: 4 - great to hear an organ again, although only for hymns; all the Mass parts were spoken

For a total of: 15 of 20, or 3.75.  I'll come back another week to hear what the liturgy is like without the cardinal "in attendance," although I may come back just to watch the children crawl in the aisles under a golden ceiling and the benevolent gaze of the Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Absence Makes the Blogger Founder

So...I was in Chicago over the long weekend with J and didn't write diddly-squat in the blog.  I promise to make it up to you soon.  Soon, I say!  In the meantime, look at this unfortunate bit of news:

National Christmas Tree Casualty of High Winds

and also this funny one:

Le Poopshack Historique

(The only way you'll find out what it means is to click the link!  Thanks to DCist for both stories.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Being Late for Work

Sometimes, try as you may, you end up being late for work.  Generally it's my own fault - I didn't leave home early enough, or I slept too late, or some such thing.  Other times it's Metro's fault - trains are slow, late, too full, whatever.  But occasionally, like today, things just get ridiculously compounded, to the point when you stop trying to find someone to blame and just look on and shake your head at the foolishness of it all.

This morning was one of those times.

Now, I will admit that I was running a bit late, and I didn't get to Waterfront station until about seven minutes before eight (not allowing enough time to get to work by eight, true, but I've given myself a ten-minute "acceptable tardiness" cushion).  I went down onto the platform and was discouraged to see that it was fuller than normal - which of course means that getting a spot on the next train is much less likely.  Discouraged, I found a place in the throng.

Minutes later - about 8:00 - an odd tri-tone chime was played and followed by an announcement - telling us that there was a sick passenger at Navy Yard, the station before Waterfront, and that trains would be delayed.  Now, "sick passenger" sounds much more innocuous that it is.  It sounds like "someone has a cold on the train, oh noes" but in fact means that someone needs medical attention, generally for the sudden development of a major condition, like a heart attack.  So a sick passenger is likely to foul up your entire commute.

Moments after the first announcement, the announcer - I presume the station manager, though I have no way of knowing - told us that a train would be coming into the station, but that trains were single-tracking, so it would show up on the opposite side of the platform, where trains going in the other direction arrive.  So the whole crowd shifted over to the other side of the platform and waited, only to be informed a few minutes later that, just kidding, the train would arrive shortly on the normal side of the platform.  Just kidding folks!

So the train arrives, and it's jammed to the gills.  A few intrepid people forced their way on, but as it was already quarter past eight I figured I could wait for another train rather than get up in someone one else's (or elses') personal space to a degree that I usually - no, always - reserve for my boyfriend.  Fortunately, another train showed up two minutes later  - in total defiance of the arrivals board, which declared that the next train wouldn't come for another seventeen minutes - and I got on, thinking that my troubles were over.  Of course not - we had to wait in the tunnel for a few minutes while the train in front of occupied the platform at L'Enfant Plaza.  I should have known.

When I finally got off at L'Enfant Plaza to change lines, I heard another announcement, informing the world that there was a sick passenger at Navy Yard, which I already knew, and that I should expect delays throughout the system.  The entire system, delayed on account of a sick passenger at one of the stations, and not even one served by multiple lines?  Bah, humbug, I thought to myself, being careful not to be angry with the sick passenger, only with Metro for handling it like O'Hare handles a snowshower.

Upon reaching the lower platform where my next train would arrive, I was disheartened to see an even more crowded platform than the one I had left at Waterfront.  After dodging lots of oblivious people who seem to think that the best thing to do once getting off an escalator is stop dead and look around confusedly, I made it to the far (and emptier) end of the platform, and was able to get on a train after waiting a while.  (It's a bit past 8:20 by this point).  In short order I was delivered to my destination station, but upon disembarking found yet another crowded platform, with people in long lines for the escalator.  High volume, I thought, and I exited the system thinking only about how late I would end up being for work.

But when I came above ground, yet another change from normalcy awaited me - the entire plaza, which I usually cross to get to the street, cordoned off.  Uniformed personnel directed us towards the only un-cordoned-off exit and I went around a couple of buildings before arriving at the point where I would have been had I been able to cross the plaza.  Then I saw the fire trucks and ambulances, and the blocked-off street, and began to worry.  Apparently a large government building had been closed off, in its entirety, but no one was saying what was going on.  No SWAT team in sight, so probably not a hostage situation, but who knew?  Bomb threat, maybe?

I made it to my office and logged onto my computer, thinking to check the news, and only then glanced at my phone.  8:30.  It took more than half an hour to make a commute I can usually do in about twelve minutes.  Tripled.  Oy vey.

Well, turns out it was a grease fire in a food court which spread to some ductwork.  And it also turns out that I wasn't the worst affected by a long shot.  They closed the building's associated parking ramp too, so my boss (who drives to work) couldn't park for hours.  They didn't give the all clear until 11.  Yet another reason I'm glad I don't drive.

You will be please to know, of course, that my afternoon commute was totally uneventful.  After today, I think karma owes me a couple of weeks of smooth sailing, don't you?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reading Recommendations

I've added a new gadget to the bottom of this blog - scrolls down and in between the copyright info and the disclaimer you'll find a list of other DC blogs that I read and enjoy, some regularly (DCist) and some sporadically (We Love DC and Unsuck DC Metro).  If you're interested in what's going on around the city, don't rely on me for news!  Check out on of these blogs.  Or, if you want actual news, try TBD - DC news plus snark.  A quite enjoyable combination, and some of the TBD blogs, like Amanda Hess ("Sex and gender at work, in bed, and on the street") are quite interesting.

(You see, I realize that some of you may have been checking back here periodically for entertainment and, finding none (since I've been very bad about updating) have gone away sad.  Now, if you don't find something entertaining here, click one of those blog links for DC-related news and fun from a different source.  Just don't forget who sent you, and come back here now and then - I'm going to spend a hefty chunk of today writing, so you'll have new materials to peruse soon!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Still Freezing...

It's been two and a half hours with both convectors going - blowing cool air, I should note - and it hasn't gotten any warmer in here.  It's still 63 degrees.  I have now turned the convectors up to 80 (they were at 70 before) in the hopes of achieving something, but they're still pumping cool air.  We are not amused.

So it was a bit of a Zen moment when I stumbled across this article on DCist, entitled "Hot Hot Heat: What To Do If You Don't Have It."  Apparently, landlords are obligated, between October 15th and May 15th, to provide heating capabilities that can keep an apartment at 68 between 6:30a and 11:30p, and at 65 for the remainder of the day.  As you'll note, 63 does not satisfy either of those criteria.

What does this mean?  It means that I wouldn't actually be in the wrong if I were to complain about this.  Of course, it needs to be evident that this is a chronic problem, and I haven't had this degree (ha) of trouble up until now - as far as I can remember, anyway.  So we'll see if the convectors can warm this place up, or else I may to speak to someone about how this just isn't OK.

Stay warm, readers!

Things I Learned Today (II)

  • Keeping one heater on is apparently not sufficient to keep my apartment warm through the day.  I came home and it was 63.  I have since turned on the other heater, but after half an hour my thermometer records no progress.  Might be because my heaters are actually "convectors," and at the moment they're blowing cold air.  Lovely.
  • My boss(es) loves me.  I got an award yesterday (yes, I'm stretching the "today" part of the post title a bit)  at the quarterly recognition event-thinger for my work over the past few months which included twenty-four hours of leave for me to use at my discretion, which is one of the more joyful things that has happened to me in a while.
  • Metro's timing system is completely bollocksed up.  As I was trying to return home today, an Orange line train showed up three minutes earlier than the posted times said it would, and then departed as I was coming down the stairs.  Three minutes later, when the boards showed the Orange line train arriving, a Blue line train comes up instead, four minutes ahead of schedule.  I realize that I haven't given a proper rant about Metro yet, and given that it's been such a quiet week - and will probably be a quiet week next week too - I may need to devote some time to DC's delightfully dysfunctional urban railway.
  • Hosni Mubarak has a death wish.
  • Diets are easy to break.  Leftover cookies from yesterday's recognition event (see above) were in the lounge today, and I may or may not have consumed four of them over the course of the day.  At this rate I'll never get my abs back.
  • And lastly...filing cabinets are expensive!  I had thought about getting one, but there's no way I want to drop $50 for a filing cabinet!  Bah, humbug!
Oh, and I will write those posts on Air and Space, I promise!  It's just that right now I feeling like getting under some blankets with some food and staying there - blasted convectors!