Preparing the electronic version of the SEC Calendar and Lectionary

SEC calendar in Excel
SEC calendar readings being compiled in Microsoft Excel 2010

Update

Calendar and Lectionary 2010-2011 now available to download.

Original post

The Calendar and Lectionary of the Scottish Episcopal Church is a document that offers two things:

  1. A list of all saints days throughout the year.
  2. Readings for Sundays, weekdays, festivals (saints’ days) and special occasions (both Eucharists and daily prayer).

Each year the Church produces a guide to the calendar and lectionary which keeps mortals like you and me correct.  The Sunday readings are on a 3 year cycle (next year is Year A), while the daily prayer readings and daily Eucharists are on a 2 year cycle (next year is Year 1).

Once you add in saints’ days, and start translating saints days to adjacent days because they clash with feast days of a higher order, it all begins to get a bit complicated.

Outlook

Since 2005 I’ve provided these dates and readings (in various degrees of completeness) in a digital format that allows users to import them directly into Microsoft Outlook.  Outlook requires a simple Comma Separated Values (CSV) file which can be prepared in Microsoft Excel (other spreadsheet applications are available) with the appropriate information in them:

  • Subject (The name of the day)
  • Start and end date
  • Start and end time
  • Whether it’s an all day event or not
  • Description (Readings)
  • Priority
  • Sensitivity
  • Show time as

For the last few weeks I’ve been preparing the files, sitting for hours in front of my computer typing in line after line of readings.

Getting prepared

Most years I do it in a bit of a last-minute panic and end up creating a bespoke file specifically for that year, but this year I wanted to be organised and produce something that can be used year after year.

So this year I’m creating a master Excel file that contains all the readings for each combination of three year and two year cycles:

  • A1 and A2
  • B1 and B2
  • C1 and C2

plus a comprehensive master list of saints’ days, which should in future enable me to compile the files in just a few days rather than 4-8 weeks as it does at the moment.

Progress

I’ve just finished entering all the readings for the entire church year—from the first Sunday of Advent to the Week of Proper 34 (Christ the King)—and tomorrow morning will start on the readings for festivals, common saints’ days and special occasions.

Then I’ll be ready to compile everything for this year.  For once I may even be done by the start of the church year (which is this coming Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent).

Tractor cake

Jane joked that we’d be up ’til midnight making a tractor cake for Reuben and Joshua’s birthday party (later today). She wasn’t wrong.  However, I think you’ll agree that all the effort we went to was worth it:

Front

The body is made from two Victoria sponge cakes ‘glued’ together with raspberry jam. The wheels were cut out of another Victoria sponge using scone cutters and covered in black coloured icing; they’re stuck to the tractor body with butter icing (and prayer).

The eyes are made from marshmallows and jelly tots, which were also used for front and rear lights.

Tractor cake
Tractor cake inspired by John Deere (front view)

Back

The personalized number plate (R+J) was a last minute idea for which we used “writing icing”.

Tractor cake inspired by John Deere (rear view)
Tractor cake inspired by John Deere (rear view)

It was the first time that either Jane or I had ever decorated a cake like that, but we made a good team.  If only Michel Roux Jr and Masterchef dining expert Gregg Wallace had been on hand to offer a running commentary.

We took photos throughout the process of building it.  I’ll upload them to Flickr in the morning and link to them here.  Off to bed now, I think.

From Vauxhall to Citroën: our new car

Thursday morning

This was the view of our drive on Thursday morning.  Our hearse-like black Vauxhall Vectra Estate (09 plate, 1.9 litre engine) poised, as ever, ready for adventure.

Vauxhall Vectra Estate
Vauxhall Vectra Estate CDTi 1.9

The only problem was that it wasn’t really equipped for the adventure that we’re rapidly heading towards (the birth of Baby 3.0) in as much as it won’t accommodate three infant car seats side-by-side.  Seemingly the law looks disapprovingly on you if you keep one of your children in the boot.

Friday morning

This was the view of our drive on Friday morning.  The gloomy, unaccommodating Vectra has gone, and has now been replaced with a shiny, silver, seven-seater Citroën Grand C4 Picasso (56 plate, 1.6 litre engine).

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
Citroën Grand C4 Picasso

We looked initially at a Ford S-MAX which was looking promising: nice drive, great storage, right size, but it was above our budget; about £3,500 above our budget, which is quite a lot really.

In the end we opted for the Citroën, which doesn’t have quite the same oomph or storage, but we got £500 back on the exchange and we have a car that we’re happy with.

This car will definitely enable us to embark on our next baby-enhanced adventure in January safe in the knowledge that neither Reuben nor Joshua are rattling around in the boot.

Getting ready for Baby 3.0

I took a holiday this week so that we could focus on getting the house ready for Baby 3.0 who is due to be born sometime after 20 January 2011.  We didn’t want to get to the end of December and suddenly panic that we’d not done anything.

We had three big tasks:

  1. Buy a bigger car.
  2. Buy some furniture for Baby 3.0’s bedroom..
  3. Drive to Dunoon to collect a cot from Jane’s sister.

It’s now Tuesday evening and we’ve completed all three tasks.  How efficient are we?!

1. Buy a bigger car

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
Citroën Grand C4 Picasso (photo from AllWorldCars.com)

We currently own a Vauxhall Vectra Estate.  It’s a massive car.  It’s black and it looks like a hearse.  It’s great for getting Reuben and Joshua’s car seats into and the boot is the size of a small country which makes it perfect for carrying the Baby Jogger double pushchair.  But it’s not big enough to carry another baby seat.

What we need now is a Compact MPV and from what we’ve read and tried out already we’re going to need a 7-seater in order to accommodate three children under three years old, a double buggy, and whatever luggage we also need to cart about with us.

So, armed with research-she’d-done-on-the-internet Jane went out on Saturday afternoon with Joshua to check out a couple of car showrooms in Dundee, while Reuben and I stayed at home and played with cars.  Toy cars, that is.

On Sunday afternoon Jane took me to see a light blue Ford S-Max.  It was lovely, the test drive was fun and the price was about £3,000 too high.  So we walked away but with details of a similar model in Armadale.

On Monday afternoon we drove away from Armadale having bought a Citroën Grand C4 Picasso that we’d test driven.  It looks like a nice car, it’s practical, it’s the right size and it was also the right price.   By trading in the Vectra we’ll also get about £500 back which can’t be bad.

I also discovered that the car salesman had lived in my hometown of Selkirk during the 1980s.

2. Buy some furniture for Baby 3.0’s bedroom.

Wardrobe and chest of drawers
Wardrobe and chest of drawers in Baby #3’s room

Ikea was wonderfully deserted late on Monday afternoon We were in and out in no time, and managed to get out without buying something that wasn’t on our shopping list.  Not even a bag of Daim bars.

I built the furniture today while Jane …

3. Drive to Dunoon to collect a cot from Jane’s sister.

… drove to Dunoon to collect a cot from her sister.  In fact, she’s just got back so I’ll go and say hello.  I’ll unpack the car in the morning.

The Fab Faux play Abbey Road

The first time I visited California was in the summer of 1989.  I’d just left high school, I was fresh from a National Youth Choir of Great Britain summer course and concert at the Festival Hall, and I was en route to the University of St Andrews to begin a degree in theology.

I stayed with my mum’s cousin Charlotte in Healdsburg, we toured the length and breadth of California, as far south as San Juan Capistrano and as far north as Medford in Oregon.

It was in Healdsburg, though, that I first heard The Beatles Abbey Road album.  I love that album; I love this live performance of the second side of Abbey Road by The Fab Faux.  Enjoy!