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Election Day Redux

Confession time:  I am still not over the 2016 Presidential Election.  I don’t know that I will ever really get over it.  To go from euphoria to despair in just a few short hours, and then to see many of my fears realized over the past two years–it has truly been a demoralizing time for many of us.

Still, hope springs eternal.  And it has been exciting and energizing to see so many people voting this year.

Last year I wore my closest approximation of a pantsuit in tribute to Hillary.  Here is this year’s voting ensemble, a tribute to my political homelessness:

election 1.jpg

Election Day is a holiday for public school students, so Lorelei accompanied me to the polls.  She’s almost 14, but she still likes pressing the button for me.

election 2

In 2016, Emily was also with us, and the three of us celebrated what we expected to be an historic occasion by visiting the women’s suffrage statue in Market Square and then breakfasting at Pete’s.  This year, Emily voted early because she had to be out of town today.  But Lorelei and I still went out to breakfast, this year at First Watch, just down the road a piece.

And now, it’s time to watch the returns, and the kids are calling me.  We’ve done all we can do.

Election 3

Remember summer?  It seems so long ago! Not the hot part–that lasted well into October here–but the not-being-in-school-and-having-daily-adventures part, which ended for us in early August.

We’ve had adventures since then, if not so many; what I lack is the time to share them here.  But since I have a spare moment, I’m going to write a few words about our lovely fall weekend.

I love fall so much that I really can’t stop smiling when I’m outside at this time of year! And I’m blessed to live in a part of the country that really knows how to put on a fall colors show.  Plus there is always something going on every weekend–multiple things, actually.

The Farmer’s Market will only be happening for a few more weeks, so Emily, Lorelei, and I headed downtown first thing on Saturday.   We hadn’t counted on the football game.  No, we didn’t get caught in traffic, but the normally free and plentiful downtown parking sported Event Pricing of $20.  This being Knoxville, that meant we had to park five whole blocks away and pay the meter about three dollars.  On the bright side, it was a beautiful day for a stroll.

fall weekend 3

We had hot apple cider and pumpkin bread, enjoyed free entertainment provided by the various buskers, and bought eggs, cheese, apples, and some vegetables too.  Then we went to the 90th anniversary open house at the Tennessee Theatre.

I first set foot in the Tennessee Theatre in the 1970s, watching Gone with the Wind for the very first time, courtesy of my grandmother.  I was so lucky to be introduced to it in exactly the kind of place it was made to be seen! Knoxville’s “Grand Entertainment Palace” narrowly escaped demolition around 1980, and underwent extensive restoration and renovation in 2005.  It’s truly a treasure and it was such a treat to get to go backstage to explore the dressing rooms and the green room, to see the Mighty Wurlitzer organ up close, and have time to take all the pictures I wanted.

tennessee theatre interior

We dropped off Lorelei to volunteer for Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee while we had coffee at my sister’s house, then went home and finished off our fall fun by taking the dog to the park.

Sunday morning Lorelei, William, and I went to Mass (John being under the weather).  Our parish has a rosary procession at the Catholic Cemetery on the first Sunday of November, and I wanted to go, but since circumstances did not permit, I decided to honor the dead in my own way.  After we ran errands and I returned the kids and the groceries to the house, I went off to explore a graveyard a bit closer to home.  A reader of one of my other cemetery posts alerted me to the existence of Pleasant Chapel Cemetery.

fall weekend 2.jpg

I will write more about it later after I’ve had a chance to do a little research.  It has been way too long since I visited a new graveyard.  It was so peaceful there.  I wish I could share the smell of the leaves and the dirt and the sounds of chirping insects so you could experience the full atmosphere.  Anyway, I was happy to be there and to say a prayer for all the dead, who are unlikely to be Catholic but would surely appreciate the prayers anyway.

fall weekend 1.jpgThen I came home, made coffee, and sat on the front porch to start reading The Gift of Invitation, which I will be reviewing here this week.

It was a perfect fall weekend, and I am sad to see it end.  Now on to Election Day! (Yikes!)  How do you like to spend fall weekends?

This post contains affiliate links.

Well, it’s that time of year:  Open Enrollment is upon us.  It’s a time I both dread and welcome.  I dread the clunky website and the endless data entry and the long but usually helpful calls to customer service, but I welcome the opportunity to once again share with you my gratitude for the blessing that Obamacare has been to our family.

As I wrote in last year’s update, Blue Cross returned to the exchange, and Humana left.  There were two good results for us:  one of our doctors that we see regularly was back in network, and our premium was so low that Advance Premium Tax Credit covered the whole thing.  Yes, you read that correctly:  our monthly payment was reduced to zero.  On the negative side, our deductible went up to (I think) 1350 per person, and John has still not met his.  And even after the deductible is met, we are now on a 50-50 plan instead of the 80-20 we had become used to–and this was the only choice we had.

We haven’t had major medical expenses this year, so we have made out just fine with this plan.  I haven’t run the numbers, but my sense is that not having to pay a premium made up for the higher deductible, especially since we still get the negotiated rate advantage on all our prescriptions.  But we got a letter the other day saying that this plan is going away and we are going to have to pick a different Blue Cross plan for next year.  These changes do get old, but my preview of Healthcare.gov last week left me hopeful–we have several plans to pick from and they look as good as what we have currently.

Another bright spot was a letter I received from Humana (last year’s insurer) a few weeks ago–a letter that included a check refunding us a portion of our premiums!  Apparently a little-known aspect of the ACA requires that if insurers earn over a certain amount of profits, they must refund a percentage of the premiums paid.  Yes, you read that right–under the terms of this imploding law that is so bad for insurance companies and consumers alike, Humana ended up doing so well that they had to give me money back!

So, yes, no matter what you may have been hearing in the news, Obamacare lives on, and is still helping people, with all its flaws.  It needs changes but it doesn’t need to be repealed.  And the constant uncertainty caused by the GOP threats to get rid of it isn’t helping anyone.  I know it hasn’t been the unadulterated blessing it has been for us for some of my readers, and I am sorry for that.  But I continue to believe it is important for me to share the positive experiences that the ACA has brought to this previously uninsured family.

2019 TN

For more of my writing on the Affordable Care Act aka ObamaCare, see below and click away!

The $64,000 Question, Answered

Who Are the Uninsured?

Uninsured No More

ObamaCare Update

ObamaCare Update 2

ObamaCare:  My Latest Update

ObamaCare Revisited

More on Our Journey to Health, Brought to You by Obamacare

It’s Good to Be Insured: An ObamaCare Update

Obamacare in Practice:  An Update

An Open Letter to My Friends Who Want to Repeal ObamaCare

Obamacare Update: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Not Repealed and Not Imploding:  An Obamacare Update

 

One of the coolest things about blogging is getting free books in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of them here.  As I might have mentioned, I love books.  I love them so much that I have big stacks of them and so sometimes I don’t review them as quickly as I am supposed to.

But not this one! Sydney and Calvin Have a Baby has such a compelling premise that I could hardly wait to read it.  And since William had to have a root canal this week, I had a perfect opportunity to do it all in one sitting.  In fact, I had just a few pages left and I read them while sitting in the Arby’s drive-thru on the way home because I just HAD to know what happened.

I read a lot of young adult novels because my daughter loves the genre and brings them to my attention. But this one is different for a couple of reasons–one, it’s a specifically Catholic novel, and two, it starts with a rape and ends with a baby.

That’s pretty heavy stuff for a teen novel, and let’s throw in a couple of deaths, an orphan, mean girls, a close call at the abortion clinic, and dysfunctional families aplenty.  But the lovable, quirky main characters and the fresh narrative voice (Calvin, whose British accent you can almost hear) add humor and humanity without ever glossing over the truly terrible events in the story.

Perhaps when you think of a Catholic novel you imagine characters who pray all the time, lots of priests and nuns, and plenty of preaching.  That’s not what you’ll find here.  The Catholicism is mostly background–the kids go to a Catholic school, the families are nominally Catholic in that they go to Mass on Sunday and not much else.  The only truly devout Catholic we see is Calvin, and the Catholic heart of the story is in its redemptive message.

I enjoyed this novel so much that I would love to read more about Sydney and Calvin.  I would especially recommend it for a Catholic youth discussion group.

Author:  Adrienne Thorne

Publisher:  Gracewatch Media


Use the above link, or the one in the first paragraph, to purchase this book, and I will receive a small commission.

It is a secret to no one who knows me, whether on social media or in real life, that I love Pope Francis.  So when I was offered the opportunity to review a picture book about him, I jumped at it.  I didn’t jump on the reviewing part quite as quickly as I should, for which mea culpa.  Read on to see what I thought–and know that while my review copy was free, I was not otherwise compensated for this review, and my opinion is, as always, my own!

I was hooked immediately by the title–Pope Francis:  Builder of Bridges.  You may know that one of the Holy Father’s titles, Pontiff, comes from the Latin pontifex, literally bridge-builder, and I have always thought it described Pope Francis especially well.

I love that the story starts with young Jorge Bergoglio, walking through Buenos Aires at his grandmother’s side, dreaming of playing soccer.  Since this is a children’s book, it makes sense to start with a child, someone young readers will relate to.

pope book 1

The book showcases events from Jorge’s Bergoglio’s life that shaped his future path, from his relationship with his faithful grandmother, his father’s example of hard work, his encounters with the poor in his city, to his decision to join the Jesuits.  It offers humanizing anecdotes, such as the movie nights he hosted for neighborhood kids.  The story continues through his election as Pope and after to some of the events that have happened since, such as his decision to wash the feet of prisoners, Muslims, and women on Holy Thursday and his writing of Laudate Si.

pope book 2

Visually this book is very appealing, with colorful illustrations that support the text, and accurate portrayals of the Pope.  I especially love the inside covers, which depict stained glass windows.

There are many details here for adults to appreciate too, like the glossary, the many direct quotations from the Pope with their sources provided, a timeline, and a bibliography.

Pope Francis: Builder of Bridge would be the perfect gift for any Catholic family.  I loved it and I am delighted to have it in my library!

Author:  Emma Otheguy

Illustrator:  Oliver Dominguez

Publisher:  Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Use the above link, or any link in this post, to purchase this book, and I will receive a small commission.

I was given the opportunity to participate in Amy Thomas‘s “Why I Love Being Catholic” series at Catholic Pilgrim.  Amy writes beautifully about the beauty and truth of Catholicism and I am honored to appear on her blog.

If you’d like to know my favorite saint, my favorite Catholic place I have visited, and my favorite part of the Mass (and more), click here!

I was about 14 years old, looking through the stacks in the downtown public library, when a young man passing by made physical contact with me.  I wasn’t sure if it was on purpose or an accident, but it felt wrong somehow–and I still remember the way he smiled.  I didn’t tell my mother because I felt embarrassed and wasn’t really sure if I imagined the whole thing.

Leslie at 14 2

I was around 15, walking around our subdivision alone, as I often did on summer days, when a boy unleashed a screaming tirade of obscenities at me through the window of his home.  I didn’t tell anyone, and avoided walking by that house as much as I could from then on.

I was maybe 16, hanging out in the guidance counselor’s outer office with other kids, waiting for a meeting.  Some of the boys started making openly sexual comments, directed at me and my body.  I was shocked at what they said to me, but I didn’t tell anyone.

Leslie at 16

I was 17, on a bus tour of France with my grandmother, struggling to avoid Mr. Chavez, a middle-aged traveler in an open-necked shirt who wanted me to help him shop for leisure suits when we got to Paris.  My grandmother had to ask our tour guide to keep him away from me.

I was 18, getting off the van at the D.C. housing project where I tutored two little girls, when a young man standing across the street casually exposed himself to all of us.  We did our best to ignore it.

Leslie at 18

I was 19, walking home with my roommate from an evening on the town, when we found ourselves surrounded by a crowd of laughing younger teenage boys, who groped our bodies as we whacked at them with our handbags before they vanished, still laughing, into the night.  We never talked about it much afterwards, but I know we were both afraid we would encounter them again.

Leslie at 19

I was 20, working at a restaurant in the Marriott hotel, when one of my customers whispered in my ear, “When can I have YOU for dinner?” The manager told me that if I had smacked him she would have fired me.  She also refused to fire the bus boy who would corner us whenever we were alone in the silverware closet and put his hands all over us, refusing to stop when we asked him to.

Leslie at 20

I was 21, walking to my fiance’s apartment, dreading the moment when I would have to pass the parking lot where several men seemed to be always hanging out.  They would stop whatever they were doing to stare intensely at me as I walked by–every single day.

Leslie at 21

Those are my #metoo experiences–the ones I can think of off the top of my head–and I was so lucky.  I don’t remember every detail, although some are still quite clear.  And I certainly haven’t forgotten the fear, the embarrassment, the shame.  Although my trauma was not lasting, when each of these events occurred and for some time thereafter, they caused me discomfort, dread, inconvenience, and fear.

Last week during family discussions leading up to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I kept remembering more and more of these incidents, most of which I hadn’t thought of in years.  “Does every woman have these experiences?” asked my husband, incredulously.  One middle-aged white male, at least, learned a lot last week–and altered his outlook.

I, too, was 15 in the summer of 1982.  I, too, spent most of that summer at the swimming pool and hanging out with friends.  Luckily for me, my friends were all girls and we did our socializing at all-girl slumber parties.

I’ve heard people criticizing Dr. Ford’s testimony, calling her unbelievable and “rehearsed” because she sounded timid and scared and unlike the career woman she is.  Leaving aside the fact that a professional and confident woman would be even less likely to be believed (remember Anita Hill?), Dr. Ford was not her professional and confident self that day.  We saw the 51-year-old woman who was able to summon up the courage to appear before the nation to be questioned about her allegations, but we heard a girl: 15-year-old Chrissy Blasey, terrified and traumatized.

I believe Chrissy Blasey, and I believe Dr. Christine Ford.

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