Trip to San Francisco

A Third Trip to San Francisco

Exactly one year ago today as I write, I was enjoying my third trip to San Francisco to spend time with my middle son.  In fact, that is also where I was two years ago and three years ago today, give or take a day.

This is poignant for more reason than one.  Not only was it the last trip we took before the pandemic dramatically shrank our world, but unbeknownst to me at the time, it was likely my last trip to San Francisco for years–because my son switched jobs and cities and likely the next trip we take will be to Boulder, Colorado, whenever it is safe to do so.

And while I am excited to go somewhere I have never been, and to have the chance to fall in love with a new city, I love San Francisco and at the moment have almost a visceral feeling of wrongness as I sit here in cold and dreary Knoxville.  Therefore, I will cheer myself up by sharing last year’s trip with you.

DAY ONE

No pictures here, y’all! This day was spent almost entirely in airports and planes, as flight delays up north grounded us in Knoxville for a time and caused us to be moved to a later flight due to a missed connection.  However, this resulted in the most pleasant cross-country flight ever.  Noting that our new economy seats were not adjacent, but that there were adjacent seats in a pricier area of the plane, I asked to be upgraded for free and they did it! We had no row in front of us and it was amazing, making up for not getting to our hotel until about 11 p.m.  Teddy, bless his heart, came to greet us and we walked to a nearby Indian restaurant for a very late supper.

DAY TWO

Teddy had to work, of course, but we got up bright and early for an event we had pre-arranged: a ferry ride around the Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge!

On our previous trips we stayed in the Financial District.  This time we decided to stay near Fisherman’s Wharf, so it was a short walk to the pier.

We arrived super early, but that was okay because it gave me time to find coffee at Biscoff.

Our early arrival paid off because we were first in line, and had our pick of seats–which for us was outside and upstairs.

This was our first time to see San Francisco’s famous sea lions.

The bridge is beautiful from every direction but my favorite is the picture I took directly underneath it.  It was a nice complement to our first visit, when I walked across it.

I got some good shots of Alcatraz.  Our tour of the island was a highlight of our second visit.

The sun was emerging from the clouds by the time we landed.  One thing I love about San Francisco in February, is that it is already spring.  We enjoyed the flowers as we headed to our next destination.

After our first two trips we are Uber pros now, and we took one to the Financial District where we were meeting Teddy for lunch.  What was even more exciting was that we were meeting Molly, his girlfriend, for the first time.  We walked to a nearby salad spot for a quick lunch.  That would be the last time we saw them that day, because it was also Valentine’s Day and we made separate dinner plans.

After lunch, I decided to walk back to the hotel.  At this point I am pretty familiar with some areas of the city.  I found Columbus Avenue and was on my way, John having opted for an Uber back to the hotel.

There are some places I had walked by many times and always wanted to investigate further.  This was my chance.  My first stop was the National Shrine of Saint Francis.

Below is an actual replica of the church Saint Francis restored in Assisi.

Just a little farther down the street is Saints Peter and Paul Church. This is a very Italian parish, with all the saints within labeled in Italian! It is staffed by the Salesians, founded by Saint John Bosco, which was special since he was my saint of the year in 2019.

What a blessing it was that I was able to steep myself in churches and saints that day.  I could not have known or even imagined that in just a few weeks churches would close due to the pandemic.  I have not been to Mass in person since some time in March 2020.

Eventually I arrived back at our hotel.  And it was time for more coffee which I enjoyed at the fire table below, definitely one of the highlights of our hotel!

John wanted to take another double-decker bus tour of the city, something we had enjoyed on our last visit.  This trip was not as fun, as it was later in the day and chillier, causing us to retreat inside the bus for warmth at some point.

So I did not take many pictures of note.  Above is the closest yet I have come to seeing Hamilton in a theatre though. 😉

Teddy and Molly had several restaurants planned for our visit so we decided to do Chinatown for our one night on our own.  Just look at this insane fried crab that we got.  Thank goodness that the waiter warned us that we only needed to order one!

DAY THREE

We met Teddy and Molly for breakfast at a diner they like, and from there took an Uber to Golden Gate Park, where we started our sightseeing at the Japanese Tea Garden.

From there, we headed more or less next door to de Young Museum.

We left via the sculpture garden, and then John opted to return to the hotel while we walked to the Conservatory of Flowers.

After that, Teddy, Molly, and I went to Ocean Beach for awhile, before grabbing a quick lunch.  They sent me home and we planned to meet for dinner to celebrate Teddy’s birthday.

We met later for a tour of Teddy’s apartment–he lived in a different location each of three years in San Francisco–then rode together to our fabulous dinner at Kokkari, a Greek restaurant Teddy took us to on our first visit.

DAY FOUR

We reconnected with Teddy and Molly the following morning in the Mission District, where they treated us to a fancy brunch in the outdoor courtyard of this theatre-turned-restaurant.

Next we toured the Mission District itself, including checking out some cool shops and some very fancy graffiti:

Per my request, our next stop was the Mission itself.  The smaller church pictured below is the oldest building in San Francisco.  Exhibits onsite show it standing all alone surrounded by countryside with the San Francisco topography all that is recognizable.

There was a graveyard too so Molly got a chance to find out how weird I actually am.

Finally we walked to Mission Dolores Park.  Climbing the hill was worth it for some beautiful views.

I needed to do some shopping for gifts for the kids we left at home, so after some discussion we agreed to meet later for dinner at a restaurant that had piqued my interest on earlier visits.

I like garlic, y’all, but garlic ice cream is a step too far.  We took it, though.  It was an experience but not one I expect to repeat.

After dinner we went to a very cool bookstore down the street for awhile before saying our good-byes and heading back to the hotel.

DAY FIVE

At least, I thought we said our good-byes but Teddy actually came by in the morning and sat at the fire table with me for awhile before we left for the airport. Thankfully we did NOT take the red-eye this time, and made it home by nightfall.

Quarantine has been good to me, but I do miss traveling, and Teddy, and San Francisco.

What I Read in January

I set a goal this year to read five books a month.  In truth, I thought it a modest goal, since I used to read that many every week, give or take.  But it was surprisingly challenging, perhaps partly because I am only counting books I finish each month even though I am reading others at a slower pace for various reasons. (And also perhaps because my kids–one in high school, one in college–started back to online school, and they require frequent assistance!)

I finished the Emily of New Moon series which I got for Christmas.  Much of Emily’s Quest is painful to read, honestly, but the payoff is worth it.  One of the elements of the Emily books that appeals to me is the hint of the supernatural therein which is not really a feature of the more well-known Anne of Green Gables series.

Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope into Action, is one of three books I read this month for various Georgetown University alumni book clubs.  We were supposed to read them over a ten-week period but I just cannot manage that when I get really interested in a book.  This one was a quick read because I wanted to find out what happened to the author in this story of how his medical degree and relentless, active hope were key to finding his own cure when he was stricken with a mysterious, incurable disease.

Ask Again, Yes–another Georgetown selection–was my favorite read of the month.  This story of the intertwined lives of two families and the tragedy that tears them apart was surprisingly uplifting in the end.  And I found it deeply Catholic in its views on marriage and redemption.  Some favorite quotations: “Marriage is long. All the seams get tested,” and (of marriage) “Love isn’t enough. Not even close.”

The Power of Habit was my final Georgetown Book Club read.  Its combination of science, anecdote, and self-help made it an engaging read.  I definitely filed away some of its insights to help me towards my goals.

The Leper of Saint Giles is the next installment of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, which I continue to love.  Everything about these books is pitch perfect–the characters, the history, the mystery, and the faith.  And there are so many of them that I will have the pleasure of reading them for months to come.

Coming up in February, I’ll be doing three book club reads, some spiritual reading, and at least two “just for fun” books!  I’m linking up today with An Open Book.  Click the picture to discover more great reads!

 

 

 

Let’s Talk about Free Speech

I’m seeing a lot of people online whining, frankly, about free speech and censorship and living in a communist country because President Trump got kicked off Twitter and Parler got shut down and now we’ll be next and no doubt they are coming for our guns too.

So I just thought I’d use MY free speech (because I DO have free speech here on this blog which I pay for, unless of course I start trying to plan to an insurrection, in which case WordPress would kick me off their platform, and rightly so) to explain how so many people are getting it wrong.

Read on, and then you can comment below (IF I approve your comment, of course, because I have comment moderation turned on, which does not make this a communist country or even a communist blog).

Do you see what I did there?  To elucidate:

  1. There always have been, and always will be, limits on speech in this country.  Example: If you make violent threats against the President, you may find yourself arrested.
  2. In most situations, your free speech gives rise to consequences.  Examples: If you make offensive comments at my house, I might ask you to leave.  If you make offensive comments in public or at work, you might get fired.  Your speech is still free; you were not jailed or executed for speaking your mind: you just suffered consequences.
  3. In a communist country, the government either owns or exerts control over the press.  If this were a communist country, with Trump as its leader, he would still have a Twitter account.  The government would either own Twitter or they would put its owner in jail if he tried to kick the President off.
  4. It is because the U.S. is a capitalist country that we have these giant companies whose platforms feel essential to us, and that have the power to kick us off those platforms when they do not like what we say, or are worried about being liable for what we say, or are afraid they will lose advertisers if they continue to allow us to say it, or are patriotic enough not to want to facilitate the planning of an insurrection.
  5. You may or may not consider the above to be problematic (I would agree that it can be), but it has nothing to do with your (or Donald Trump’s) right to free speech, or with communism.

Here’s to a year of my speaking more freely, and trusting the God will be with me through whatever the consequences may be!

Word of the Year and Saint of the Year

It’s a new year, y’all! And that means the Catholic internet is asking everyone these questions: What is your Word of the Year? Who is your Saint of the Year?

If you are new to the concept I know it can sound a little strange–maybe even a little hokey! But over the past few years this new New Year’s tradition has become increasingly important to me and instrumental in directing my spiritual life.

How does one decide on a word and/or a saint?  Well, some people pray over it for a period of time.  Here’s a podcast episode about discerning your word.

If that feels uncomfortable to you, try this for your word, and this for your saint.  Be sure to say a little prayer before you click!

I know it seems a little silly, but who are we to put limits on the workings of the Holy Spirit?

The first year I engaged in this practice, I picked my saint first and got Mary.  And I was disappointed! I was looking forward to finding some new saint who I could learn about and have in my corner as an intercessor.  I was tempted to click again!

But the Holy Spirit knew what he was doing, y’all.  Because my word turned out to be MOTHER.  I decided this must mean I was supposed to really double down on my vocation of motherhood.

And 2018 certainly turned out to be the year for it!  In February we made our first visit to my far-away son, spending his birthday with him on the other side of the country.  In March we welcomed a daughter-in-law and hosted a wedding reception! I spent the whole summer being an awesome and fun mother to my youngest two kids.  And I shepherded my baby out of homeschooling and into public school (and bought her a dog too!).  All the while I worked on my goal of becoming holy by building a deeper relationship with the Blessed Mother by participating in Marian consecration.  It was definitely a year in which, with Mary’s help, I dove deeper into what it means to be a Catholic wife and mother.

So I was excited for my second year of picking a word and a saint.  I got Saint John Bosco, who I remembered reading about as a child as that fun guy who worked with kids, and then for my word I got WINK.  About which I thought, “What?” I REALLY wanted to click again.  And I will be honest: I never was exactly sure what to do with that.  The only thing I could come up with was the notion of having more fun in 2019.

I’m not sure how good I was at it, honestly! We did travel quite a bit, including our first cruise, but the kids and I did not repeat our fun-filled summer.  Of course, compared to 2020 the year was jam-packed with adventures!

And early in the year I received a financial appeal from a Catholic organization serving the poor in the Deep South, via the Bosco Nutrition Center.  Maybe that was why that saint picked me–I have donated regularly ever since.

Last year’s picks seemed to make a little more sense: St. Faustina and REVIVE.  St. Faustina’s message of “Jesus, I trust in you!” was perfect for 2020.  And I truly embraced the idea of reviving myself, physically and spiritually, last year. (More to come on that note.)

This year I received St. Lutgardis as my saint.  I so much never heard of her that I thought she was a man.  I have not done much more than read an account of her life online as yet, but I hope to dive deeper as the year goes on.

My word is INTEGRITY.  That is a quality that is important to me, certainly, but I was not very excited about it because I did not feel it had anything new to say to me.  But just a day later I stumbled onto this podcast episode on living an integrated life.  This gave me that AHA moment I was looking for so that is the direction I am going to be following with my word.

And to help me keep it in mind, I ordered a custom bracelet from Pink Salt Riot’s Word of the Year collection.  For just a few more days, you can choose from  several options including bracelets, keychains, and necklaces, personalized with your very own Word of the Year.  And if you shop from my link and use code LIFEINEVERYLIMB, these already affordable pieces will be 10% cheaper!

Do you have a Word of the Year? What about a Saint of the Year? Tell me about them in the comments!

2020 in Review: Your Favorites, My Favorites

As another year comes to a close it is painfully obvious that I have written very little.  I don’t know why that is as time was more plentiful than usual.  Discernment is in order, for sure.  But in the meantime, I am starting the new year off right with an annual tradition: sharing the most popular posts (according to my WordPress stats) of the past 12 months, whether old or new, along with my own favorites among those I wrote this year.

Your Favorites

Southern Grammar: It’s Got Rules, Y’all

This makes its second appearance it the annual favorites list.  It’s a topic dear to my heart as a Southerner and lover of the English language from way back.

If you aren’t a lover of language and words like I am, you might not realize that all dialects have their own internal grammar and operate according to rules.  And I’m going to write from time to time about the rules of the dialect I know best: Southern American English, or SAE.

Mary, My Mother: Quotations and Images

Also making its second appearance, this is a collection of my own images paired with quotations about the Blessed Mother.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Go

A couple of years ago I started creating quotation images of the Blessed Mother to share on my blog’s Facebook page during the month of May.  I’ve been meaning to gather them into one post, and this month’s CWBN blog hop, with a theme of Mary, My Mother, is the perfect occasion for that.  All the photographs are mine, taken with my iPhone.

Things I Never Thought I’d Cry About: Losing a Dentist

This post is ten years old and it’s anyone’s guess why it was suddenly so popular this year.

The truth is, the dentist I want–and the kind of dentistry he practiced–is gone now, and was old-fashioned even for the times.  

Liturgical Music II: The 1970s

This is yet another post making a second appearance in this list, I am pretty sure driven by nostalgic Gen X Catholics searching for info on the songs of their youth.

Well over ten years ago I wrote an X-Files fanfiction story which I entitled But Then Comes the Morning, after a song I have not heard sung in Mass since the 70s.  I have seen it excoriated in lists similar to the one I wrote about in my last post. Yet TO THIS DAY I get emails from people who only found that story because they were googling that song, which they remember fondly from their own childhoods.

Love Your Neighbor, Wear Your Mask

This is the only new post that made the list.  It would have had a space on my faves list if it had not made it here.

Every day I read online diatribes from those who refuse to wear masks because this is America or because they are so uncomfortable or because they don’t like being forced to do anything or even because no one should tell them what to do with their own bodies.  Do I even need to tell you how ridiculous it sounds when professed pro-life Christians go around saying such things?

My Favorites

My Catholic Vote

It was an election year, y’all.  And I wrote about it even though it was painful.  I am proud of this post and stand by every word, even more since this week’s assault on the Capitol.

In choosing my candidate I followed a process I laid out here, and my conscience is absolutely clear, no matter how many of my fellow Catholics believe (and are happy to tell me) that my vote is a sin.

There Is No Foreseeable Future

Musings on thoughts occasioned by the pandemic.  Realizing the truth of this will make you a happier person, in my opinion.

If you take nothing else away from this unprecedented year, I hope this is it: there is no 2020 vision when it comes to the future.

A Trip to San Francisco

In February, we went on our first and last trip of 2020, to San Francisco to visit our son.  But this is not about that trip–it’s about our 2018 visit.

Trip to San Francisco

Then in July 2017 a piece of my heart left for San Francisco, giving me a suitable motivation for traveling there.  We visited Teddy in February 2018 and 2019 (on his birthday, which has conveniently fallen during the three-day President’s Day weekend) and will be returning next month.  I love San Francisco even more now than I did then, and I’ve taken many pictures that I want to share.

Another Trip to San Francisco

And this is about our 2019 visit.  San Francisco is a photogenic city.

If I can say one thing with certainty about my third trip to San Francisco, it’s this: my photography skills have improved since last year’s trip

Faith, Fitness, and Food: Three Quarantine Necessities

How I survived–and even thrived–in quarantine.

So here we are, about six weeks into this very strange time of Covid-19 quarantine, and I am a little embarrassed to admit how much I am enjoying myself, thanks primarily to faith, fitness, and food.

If you’d like to read highlights from previous years, see below:

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

What I Read in December

I did not read many books in December because Advent/Christmas.  I will be making it up in January for sure!

Just before Advent, I heard about The Reed of God on multiple podcasts.  I took that as a sign to add it to my plans for Advent.  It’s perfect for the season, and the chapters are just the right size for reading one per day during prayer time.  This is one of those small books packed full of beauty and wisdom.  I will probably pull it out again next year.

Wintersong has been in my to-be-read pile for a long time.  I am a Madeleine L’Engle fan from way back, but I had never heard of Luci Shaw.  I picked this up after I finished The Reed of God and read one section each evening during Advent. I found myself enjoying the short prose readings more than the poems.

As you may recall, I discovered the Brother Cadfael series courtesy of Booktober. Saint Peter’s Fair is the third book in the series, and I am waiting for the third to arrive.  I like each one more than the last.

Emily of New Moon was a childhood favorite that I specifically requested as a Christmas gift–along with its sequels and the more well-known series by the same author, Anne of Green Gables.  My childhood copies were, of course,  destroyed by fire so it has been many years since I have read them.

Emily Climbs is the second in the series.  It was so fun to have these old favorites to read during the Christmas holidays.  I’m reading the last one now.

I have joined a scary amount of book clubs and along with the books I got for Christmas (not to mention the crazy piles in my room) I am well set up with reads for months to come.  I am excited to share them with you this year.

I am linking up once more with An Open Book.  Click on the picture to find more great reads!

12 in 2020: A Year in Pictures

And now for a yearly tradition: recapping the year that just ended by sharing one photo per month.  I try to choose some of my best pictures, but sometimes I have to forgo quality in order to pick one that really captures the flavor of the month, as you will see.

JANUARY

Baby Benjamin, my sister’s baby and the youngest member of the extended family, celebrated his first birthday in January with all the pageantry such an occasion demands.

FEBRUARY

John and I made our third trip to San Francisco to see our middle son, Teddy.  And this time with the added attraction of meeting Molly, his girlfriend.  The photo above is of Mission Dolores, the oldest surviving structure in the city, and the newer Basilica.

MARCH

I spent a lot of time walking this year–it was my way of coping with quarantine.  Hence, I took a lot of nature pictures.  This shot of apple blossoms was taken on the grounds of All Saints parish, just down the street from me.  At the time, I was walking there every Friday because it was Lent and they have outdoor Stations of the Cross.

APRIL

I also spent a lot of time sitting on my front porch staring at my garden.  My grandmother’s  irises outdid themselves this year and I really need to divide them.

MAY

When our local lockdown ended in May, I was horrified by the immediate incursion of door-to-door salespeople.  I put up this sign to accompany my Divine Mercy Jesus and have not been bothered since.  I will hate to take it down!

JUNE

Graduations were delayed a month and we opted out in any case, but our Senior consented to don cap and gown for this picture.  He started virtual college in August.

JULY

For a most of the summer, Rum Swizzles, something I experienced on our anniversary cruise to Bermuda, were a Saturday night ritual.  This was just one of many such rituals that I created to give a rhythm to life during the pandemic.

AUGUST

I’m not a big selfie-taker–in fact, I don’t like my picture taken at all–but voting is important!  I was impressed with the procedures put in place and it gave me confidence to vote in person in the Presidential election later in the year.

SEPTEMBER

I cannot say often enough how blessed I have been by the construction just a couple of years ago of Plumb Creek Park, which would be in easy walking distance of my house if we had sidewalks.  I have been there almost every day this year, and it has become my happy place, whether I am doing laps or hiking the nature loop.

OCTOBER

I took this picture on Halloween night.  I had never seen a moon with a corona before.  We also saw a big green meteor earlier that evening.  And enjoyed trick or treating, a blessed bit of normal fun in an abnormal time.

NOVEMBER

It was a quarantine Sweet Sixteen for Lorelei, who made the balloon decoration herself.  All the family gathered in our driveway, six feet apart.   We all remembered the last party at our house, for William’s birthday in early March, when we expressed disbelief that there was talk of families not being able to celebrate together.

DECEMBER

We had a white Christmas, y’all.  To give some perspective, this has happened only three times before in my lifetime (that’s over half a century), and only once so far in my kids’ lifetimes (back in 2010).  It was so beautiful, and felt like a gift from God at a time when He knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere anyway.

To see photo essays from past years, click the links below:
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019

What I Read in November

Oh, look! Here I am again, being all consistent and posting about what I read in November!

Normally our book club reads something scary around Halloween, often something by Stephen King.  The above read (which we discussed outside and distanced around a crackling fire) was not scary at all.  It was well-written but somewhat unsatisfying to me, since the whole point was that the mystery was supposed to remain unsolved.

I also finished my Harry Potter re-read.

Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows is quite simply one of my favorite books of all time.  I consider it a masterpiece, and I think it is the only book I ever read two times in a row, the first time from midnight to 6 a.m. the morning it was released.  It was great fun reading all the books in a row, especially knowing how it was all going to turn out and being able to appreciate all the little clues along the way.

Thanks to Booktober, I got turned on to the Brother Cadfael series and this month I read the second one.

I found it even more delightful than the first one and am excited to read more.  It is always fun to have a series to look forward to.

For fun, I picked up a comfort read to enjoy while soaking in the tub. (Is that TMI?)

I loved Wylly Folk St. John as a child, my favorite book by far being The Secret of the Seven Crows.  Of course, I lost all those books when our house burned down, but my daughter has been buying them as presents for me.  This one is as far as I know her only adult novel, and it is always a fun read.

Finally, this month I participated for the first time in the FemCatholic book club and read this magnificent book.

I did not know much at all about Dorothy Day before I read this, and I fell in love with her.  What makes this book even more amazing than its subject is that it is written by Dorothy’s granddaughter, and focuses on the relationship of Dorothy and her daughter, Tamar.  I read this with highlighter in hand.  It was beautifully written and full of wisdom I want to remember, and it was so absorbing that I truly did not want to put it down.

So, without the challenge of reading a book a week for Booktober, I only managed five books this month.  Still, I did sit down with and read most afternoons for at least a little while.

This month I am tackling a couple of Advent reads, and in January I am taking part in FOUR book clubs so I will have a lot to share then!

I’m linking up with An Open Book.  Click below to see more great reads!

What I’m Reading These Days: Booktober and More

I’ve always been that girl with her nose in a book.  Yet somehow in recent years I have realized that I am spending more and more time reading news online and less and less time sitting down with a good book.

This month I decided to do something about that.  I have made an effort to sit outside on the porch for a little while every day with a book.  My days of reading a book every day are not going to return any time soon, and I did not even make a dent in my massive stack of books-to-be-read (not to mention the ten or more typed pages of books I want to read but do not own); but I am pleased with what I did manage to get through in 30 days.

First up:

I belong to the best book club in the world.  Why? Because it meets next door; there is always plenty of good food, wine, and conversation; and no one gets mad if you have not read the book.  This month, though, I did read and enjoy this discussion of how hardship builds community, which I found especially interesting in light of the current polarized state of the world.

I joined an online book club this month too, Booktober sponsored by The Myth Retold.  Participants voted between two books in each of four genres, read one each week and discussed them in a private Facebook group.  Week one was the first in a series.  Brother Cadfael’s first adventure involved a quest for relics of a saint to bring glory to his medieval monastery–and, of course, murder.  I loved this glimpse of the Middle Ages and plan to read the rest of the series.

I have been doing a lot of anti-racist reading/listening/learning in online groups, so this read was especially timely.  I think I read it all in one sitting.  I learned a lot–especially just how exhausting it is to deal with microagressions. That was a term I kind of bristled at the first time I heard it, but Brown really made me understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end. This book also made me consider how I take my Black friends for granted by thinking that I can ask them whatever about racism without considering whether that is a role they really want.

This was an historical fictional account of a former aristocrat and an idealistic attorney caught up in the French Revolution.  It was diverting enough but ultimately did not really have any staying power–it is already fading quickly from my mind.

This, on the other hand, was my favorite Booktober choice by far.  On the one hand, it was a hard read because being poor in Brooklyn in 1912 was not joke.  But the characters were so well-drawn, the setting so well-described, the stories so true that I did not want to put it down and I have been telling everyone how much I loved it.

Since the pandemic began, our family has been watching a lot of movies.  Lockdown gave us the opportunity for uninterrupted marathon viewings in which we had long wished to indulge, such as watching every Harry Potter movie in succession.  Having done this I was inspired to do what I had never done:  read all the books in succession.  Some of them I believe I had only read once.  It was fun to read the earliest ones with foreknowledge.  I love a well-planned series and it is fascinating to see the clues to the ending that are present from the very first book.  The Order of the Phoenix is not a favorite but I liked it more after having just watched the movie, since the book is vastly superior.

The same is true of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I also read in October.  I had forgotten a lot of the details and it almost felt like reading it for the first time.

Reading seven books in one month, some of them quite long, is no small accomplishment in my current busy life, especially considering that I also read a slew of online content.

I hope to report back at November’s end having read the last Harry Potter book, my book club’s selection for the month, and the pick from another online book club, at least.

I’m linking this up with An Open Book, which you can visit by clicking the button below.

My Catholic Vote

I love voting on Election Day, but wishing to leave nothing to chance in this crazy year, I took advantage of early voting last week.  I marked my paper ballot for Joe Biden, coloring it in very carefully and staring at it for a long time afterward before I scanned it, wanting to cherish the moment for which I had waited so long.

In choosing my candidate I followed a process I laid out here, and my conscience is absolutely clear, no matter how many of my fellow Catholics believe (and are happy to tell me) that my vote is a sin.

In 2008, I sat out the Presidential election.  In 2012, I voted none of the above.  In 2016, seeing Trump as a danger to our country, I voted for Hillary.

When Trump won, my Republican friends said I should give him a chance.  That he would surround himself with good people.  That he would grow into the office.  I did, and he didn’t.  If anything, his presidency has been more disastrous than I could possibly have imagined.

In fact, it has been so disastrous, and I believe him so unfit, that I would have supported any one of the Democratic Primary contenders this year.  If you want to know my thinking, check out the 963 reasons compiled here, rightly referred to below as horrors:

This election year, amid a harrowing global health, civil rights, humanitarian, and economic crisis, we know it’s never been more critical to note these horrors, to remember them, and to do all in our power to reverse them.

However, Joe was my number one choice from the get-go, primarily because I believed he was the candidate with the best chance of beating Trump.  His relative centrism, his likable personality, his years of experience, his ability to compromise, his relationships with folks on both sides of the aisle–these are the qualities of someone who could build a broad and diverse coalition of support, as he has gone on to do.  I had always liked Joe, but as I have learned more of his story, I have come to love him.  No longer is my vote just an anti-Trump vote.  It’s an enthusiastic vote for Joe Biden, and here are some of my reasons:

  • Because he writes things like this, and means them:

We all matter in the eyes of God, and it will take all of us to achieve the healing America so desperately needs. To follow God’s Greatest Commandment, and to love each other fully. Together, we can win the battle for the soul of our nation; navigate the multiple crises we face – ending this pandemic, driving our economic recovery, confronting systemic racism; address the scourge of poverty; pursue immigration and refugee policies that uphold the dignity of all; and do everything in our power to ensure that all God’s children have the hope and future they so rightfully deserve. (Read more here)

  • And, maybe most of all, because of this:

Our country is in trouble  We are broken and hurting, scared and divided.  Four years ago I believed–I still do–that Hillary Clinton was the most qualified person ever to run for President.  I would never say that about Joe Biden.  But I DO believe, with all my heart, that he is the candidate most qualified to meet this moment and to bind our nation’s wounds.