Answer Me This: The End

I can’t believe that somehow I forgot to participate in Answer Me This last week!  The ever-awesome Kendra managed to have a baby AT HOME like two days ago and still post this linkup.  Since it’s my last chance for this summer (when AMT goes back on hiatus until whenever Kendra decides to bring it back) I hope no one minds if I go ahead and answer both sets of questions!
Last week’s questions:
1. What’s currently on your To Do list?
I have stopped making super long to-do lists because it depresses me to go back and see the same items week after week.  I’ve started picking one extra task to accomplish each day if possible.  Tomorrow’s task is a multi-part one:  get ready to go out of town.
2. Better type of superhero: magic/radioactive powers? Or trauma/gadgets/hard work?
I don’t want trauma.  And I have to work hard enough already.  So I’ll go for magic/radioactivity.
3. Finding out if baby is a boy or a girl before birth: Good idea? Bad idea?
I think it’s a bad idea and I wish we couldn’t do it.  Back in the day, people would ask if you wanted a boy or a girl, and the answer would always be I don’t care as long as it’s healthy.  Now it’s much more common to express a preference.  I’m not sure what the connection is but I feel like there is one.  Also, I feel like knowing the sex sets up expectations about the baby before it even arrives.  Having said all of that, we found out three out of five times.  John wanted to find out about #1; I didn’t; they couldn’t tell so she was a happy surprise.  We found about #2.  With #3, having one of each already we figured it didn’t much matter so we didn’t find out.  With #4 and #5 we found out.  It’s hard not to find out when you can.
4. Have you ever appeared on a stadium jumbotron?
No.  Sadly, I rarely have the opportunity to go to a UT Vols game, which is the only place that I am going to be in close proximity to a Jumbotron.
5. Are you more book smart or more street smart?
Book smart.
This week’s questions:
1. What’s your favorite grocery store splurge?
Some people might think crab claws are a splurge, but they are one of the few things William will eat so they are actually a necessity.  I’m pretty frugal about the groceries.  I can’t really think of anything I splurge on.
2. How’s your penmanship?
I have very nice handwriting thanks to eight years of daily cursive instruction at St. Joseph School and lots of hard work and practice.
3. Do you have a “Summer Bucket List?”
Not this year.  That’s another thing that leads to disappointment and guilt.
4. What’s the best thing on the radio right now?
I hardly ever listen to the radio.  I prefer silence when I have the choice.  John plays a station with lots of 80s songs that I like a lot.
5. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?
I don’t eat either regularly.  And I’m not sure I can even tell the difference.
The end and thank you again to Kendra for bringing back the linkup for the summer.  Please take a look at the other entries right here.

What We're Reading Wednesday . . . and Thursday

It’s been a long time since I’ve linked up to What We’re Reading Wednesday, and I’ve missed sharing books with you.  Fact is, I don’t read as much as I once did.  That’s sad but true, and it’s the computer’s fault. Because it would be more accurate to say that I still read a lot, just articles and blogs instead of books.  I read great articles and blogs, and I share them with my Facebook friends.  But it’s not quite the same. So here’s a sampling of what I’ve read (relatively) recently that I thought it would be fun to share.

I got this one via Blogging for Books, and then took forever to read it.  My fault, not the book’s, because it’s engaging, easy to read, and interesting.  And there’s probably not much I can tell you about Paleo that you haven’t already heard, because I’m way behind the times.  I will say this:  people who complain about his ideas without having read the book . . . obviously haven’t read the book. 🙂 It’s far from being the had-core-you-must-eat-this-way-or-else diatribe people make it out to be.  And a lot of it makes sense to me, even if I would never choose to eat that way full time.

I was given Teardrops That Tango to review by the author.  This is a book that will get your attention from the first page.  It tackles all kinds of rough situations: child abuse, suicide, mental illness.  I know it sounds like a downer but it has a happy ending.  It’s definitely painful to read, though, especially because you know it’s the true story of someone who has suffered a lot.  But that’s not supposed to be the message you take away from it.  Be aware that although it starts out like one it really isn’t a strict autobiography, but also combines resources for those going through rough times with inspiration and advice.  It’s ambitious for sure and that can make it a bit uneven but it’s a story you won’t easily forget.

The above constitute comfort reading for me.  Our whole family loves Star Trek.  We have many, many Star Trek novels, which are some of our few books that survived the destruction of our home by fire four years ago.  We’ve been watching one Star Trek episode each night for months now, and having made our way through TNG and TOS (yes, in that order!) we are now experiencing Deep Space Nine for the first time!  Anyway, those first two books are sequels to the second-to-last TOS episode, which put me in the mood to read them; and having read them, I was in the mood to read more, and the next ones pictured are two of my favorites.  If you like Star Trek, you will like these books.

And I just started the Grisha Trilogy this week, and I am already on the third book!  Emily (grown up daughter) has been urging me to read these for awhile.  Emily reads like I used to read.  She keeps the library busy and she buys books too. Christmas and birthday lists are and always have been full of books.  And of course it’s more fun if you can discuss what you read with someone else who’s read it too.  I don’t know why I was so reluctant to start these.  I think I was afraid they would be demanding or exhausting but they aren’t.  The author has set her world in something resembling Russia in the 1800s and the familiarity makes it easier to immediately relate to.  Obviously the story is engaging and interesting or I wouldn’t be reading it so fast.  Whether I would recommend them I cannot say until I see how they end, and how the romance plot resolves.
Emily has already informed me what series she is going to make me read next, so I’ll have something else interesting to write about next time!
What are you reading? You can tell me in the comments! And for more reading suggestions, visit the other posts in the linkup!

Answer Me This: July 5

Y’all, thank goodness for Answer Me This, the awesome linkup sponsored by Kendra of Catholic All Year.  Otherwise, you’d have no posts of mine to read apparently. (Vowing to do better this week . . .)
1. How did you celebrate the 4th of July? (Or, for you international types . . . Do anything fun this weekend?)
My mother moved recently so this was the first holiday that she hosted in her new home.  It was a low-key event, just family (and not even all the grandchildren were there–we had a total of 12 people, I think.).  We had a meal and hung out for a few hours, and then John and I went to see the new Terminator movie.
2. Do you sunburn easily?
Fairly easily, at least until I acquire a base tan.  But I CAN tan, which is more than can be said of some in my family.
3. Hot dogs. Yay or nay?
Certainly not often, but sometimes there’s really nothing like one, is there?
4. Have you ever personally set off fireworks?
Absolutely not.  I am terrified of them.  Predictably, Jake likes to set them off and came very close to putting his eye out one year by lighting one in a garbage can and then LOOKING INSIDE to see why it had not gone off yet.
5. Have you ever jumped off the high dive?
Once or twice, as a grade-schooler.  I can’t believe I did it then and I would never do it now.  I’m afraid of heights.
6. Do you do anything weird in your sleep?
How would I know?  😉  Seriously, though, aside from crying out occasionally due to a bad dream, I don’t think I do anything except sleep.
Want to join in with your own answers?  The rest of the linkup is right here.

Answer Me This: Father's Day Edition

It’s Sunday and time for Catholic All Year‘s Answer Me This linkup!
1. What’s the best thing about your dad?
me and daddy at graduation 2
One great thing, that strikes me because as a parent I have not lived up to this ideal:  When I was a teenager, my father would come pick me up from the fan bus to whatever far-away football or basketball game I had attended, sometimes as late as 1:00 in the morning.  He NEVER complained.
2. If you’ve got kids, what’s the best thing about THEIR dad?
My husband never stops trying to be a better father, and he’s not afraid to apologize when he’s wrong.
John and baby Emily
3. What’s the best advice your dad ever gave you?
When I was in (many) spelling bees in grade school, and he was making me study when I didn’t want to, he told me that I could quit any time, but if I was going to compete I had to do my best.
4. What’s something you have in common with your dad?
When I was a little girl, I loved Nancy Drew.  Whenever I got a new book, my father always wanted to read them.  He was always joking about Nancy’s sporty roadster and her pretty frocks.
5. What’s the manliest thing you know how to do?
I try to avoid learning how to do manly things because then I have no excuse for making the men around here do them.  In fact, I think I will keep all the manly knowledge I possess a secret. 🙂
6. Who is your favorite fictional dad?
If anyone who has read To Kill a Mockingbird  picks anyone other than Atticus Finch, they must have something wrong with them. 😉  Atticus doesn’t just give good advice, he lives according to his beliefs: “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.
That’s it for this week.  Happy Father’s Day, and be sure to click here to check out the other entries in the linkup.

More Awards = More about Me

In five years of blogging I received one award, and now suddenly I seem to have another one every week.  Like I said in my last award post, that’s what’s known as an embarrassment of riches, folks, because I really am starting to feel embarrassed and hope you aren’t bored with another “about me” post.  I will try to make it as entertaining as possible for you. 🙂
And actually, I have TWO awards to write about this week.  So first of all . . .
Rules for Accepting the One Lovely Blog Award:
1) Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
I am delighted to thank Jacquelyn Ward of DIY Design Mom for nominating me.  Jackie is a blogging colleague who has become a friend.  She’s currently working on an upgrade for my blog which I hope to share with you soon!
2) Add the One Lovely Blog badge to your post.
See above. 😉
3) Share seven facts about yourself.

  • I have TWO mercury thermometers.  I don’t trust digital thermometers.  I always shake them down over the bed and am very, very careful. (Now I should probably expect calls from the EPA, or possibly my mother.)
  • I have bitten my nails since I was about 8 years old and my ugly fingers embarrass me.
  • I have never had a cavity.
  • Interior decorating paralyzes me.  We have lived here almost four years and haven’t hung a picture since the first week or so.
  • Springtime makes me giddy.  I could totally throw myself down in a bed of daffodils and lie there for hours.
  • I’m quite friendly and like getting up in front of the public, but I find interacting with people exhausting and I love to spend time alone.
  • My husband was my first real boyfriend.

4) Nominate about 15 bloggers you admire by posting a comment on their blog.  I’m cheating here by doing fewer.  It does say ABOUT, after all.
Thomasina of Three Lives of Me
Agatha of Green Issues by Agy
Gunjan of KiipFit
Randi of Poppies and Pinot
Jen of Breastfeeding Needs
Jane of Limeade Gal
Kim of The Lemon Daisy
So y’all see the rules, right?  But if it will stress you out to play, no hard feelings. 🙂
And now for Award #2:  I’ve received it before, but this one comes with a new set of questions, so I’m in!
sisterhood of the world bloggers award
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.
I would like to thank Jen Brenan of Breastfeeding Needs for nominating me.  Jen is the mother of two little ones and writes about parenting and breastfeeding.  As a former long-time breastfeeding mother myself (approximately 13 years, all told), I love her blog.
2. Answer the 10 questions sent to you.
1. How long have you been blogging?
Just over FIVE years.  That makes me an old-timer, y’all.  But I didn’t really start putting much (or the right kind) of effort into blogging until recently.
2. What are your long term goals for your blog?
I want to write more regularly–with an actual editorial calendar, and predictable types of content on different days of the week!  I want to have more of my work featured on other sites, and hope that someday I will be compensated for my work.  Although I won’t stop writing regardless!
3. What do you love about blogging?
The friends I’ve made, and the nice things people say to me about what I write, especially if I make a connection with them or help them in some way through my writing.
4. And what do you hate, or at least just dislike?
It can be a source of stress if I am not writing as much as I think I should or would like to.
5. Do you have children and do they influence your blog?
I have five kids.  They provide subject matter, for sure.  And no doubt being a mother has affected some of what I am interested in writing about–although I do have interests outside my kids!
6. What is one thing you have learned about blogging that you never would have thought of before hand?
I was completely clueless about blogging when I started.  I mean I knew NOTHING.
7. What are your hobbies outside of your blog?
Gardening, hiking, genealogy, poking around cemeteries (all of which I manage to incorporate into this extremely eclectic blog!).
8. Do you work outside of the home, stay home or do a bit of both?
I have been at home for around 21 years now.  Before that I worked part-time.  For many years I did a little grant writing and editing on the side for my mother’s non-profit, and then about five years ago I became my husband’s legal assistant.  He works from home and therefore so do I.  At first all I was going to do was answer the phone, but the job has grown.  So I do the billing, write letters, create and organize the files, do legal research, and even draft pleadings.  I probably work at least 20 hours a week. (And I still do that grant writing and editing too!)
9. How do you juggle it all?
Being able to work from home is key.  I keep all my social media open all the time and sprinkle that in throughout my work day.  I also homeschool my daughter in the middle of all that.  I control my work schedule so if I really need to I can take a day off, or work at night and weekends so I can do family things when I need to.  I never have time to blog, and I don’t clean my house.
10. Tell me one thing about yourself that most of your readers do not know?
I’m going to refer y’all up to my seven random facts above for this question, having exhausted my supply of interesting trivia for the moment.
3. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.
I’m going to cheat a little here and recycle some questions I made up for some other nominations that not many nominees responded to.
1. How did you choose the name for your blog?
2. What kind of writing did you do in your pre-blogging life?
3. How do you define blogging in YOUR life?  A job, a vocation, a hobby?
4. Provide a link to your favorite blog post.
5. Provide a link to the post you think is the most popular.
6. What was your very first job and what did you learn from that experience?
7. Does your family read your blog and if so does this affect what you say or how you say it?
8. Have you made virtual friends because of blogging?
9. What is your dream job?
10. What do you do to take care of yourself?
4. Nominate 8 other bloggers, link them in your post and notify them of their nomination.
Again, if any of y’all have already received this award and don’t want to play along again, you won’t hurt my feelings.  🙂
Jacquelyn of DIY Design Mom
Kim of This Ole Mom
Louisa of Ice Cream off Paper Plates
Hannah of Miss Nicklin
Stephanie of Six Pack Mommy
Kathleen of Lifestyle Building Blocks
Brandi of Supergirl Savings
I am so flattered to have been nominated for these two awards, and now y’all know (almost) all there is to know about me.

And Now for the Liebster Award!

Liebster Award
I’m afraid I’m starting to sound like a broken record but I’m excited to announce that Kathleen of Lifestyle Building Blocks for Success has nominated me for the Liebster Award!  I met Kathleen over on Google +, and have enjoyed being a part of her Friday Blog Booster Party.
Like most blogging awards, accepting the Liebster Award involves answering some questions so that you can get to know me better.  So let’s get started!

  • How did you decide on the name of your blog?

That’s an easy one, because I already wrote a post to answer it!

  • Where does your blogging inspiration come from?

Everywhere! This is an eclectic blog that doesn’t fit a niche.  Sometimes it’s a news story that sets me off; another day it’s the beauty of nature or a walk in a graveyard.  There are sticky notes with a few words scrawled on them all over my desk–often I can’t remember what I meant by what I wrote!

  • What is it that you love most about blogging?

I love having a larger platform to share my ideas than just my family (and they probably do as well!).

  • What is your favorite food?

Homemade biscuits, a good steak, homegrown summer vegetables . . . I like to eat.

  • What is your favorite thing to drink (alcoholic or not)?


  • What is an item you cannot live without?

Four years ago my house burned down and I lost virtually all of my personal possessions.  So I can truthfully say there is no item I cannot live without.  I like my computer A LOT, though.

  • What are eleven random facts about yourself?

1.  I was the youngest person to win the Knoxville City Spelling Bee when I was eight years old.  I went on to win it four more times, and one won the regional competition and placed ninth in the National Spelling Bee.  As a result, watching Spelling Bees makes me a nervous wreck.
2.  My favorite color is yellow.  When I was a little girl my bedroom looked like springtime–all yellow everywhere except for the bright green carpet.
3.  I have been writing since I was about four, when I used to dictate my stories to my mother.  The first one was about a girl who always wore an enormous hat.
4.  I am afraid of heights.  My knees get weak if I even stand on a chair.  I also can’t stand to watch people move furniture.
5.  I thought that I would be a perfect mother and that I would have perfectly behaved kids.  I was wrong on both counts.
6.  From first grade until I gave the valedictory address upon graduation from high school, my life was defined by academic success.  Although I know it was the right decision at the time, I still feel disappointed about dropping out of graduate school two classes short of getting an M.A.
7.  I am the product of 16 years of Catholic education.  I am a cradle Catholic and my faith is absolutely central to my life even though I fall short at living it.  Holiness continues to elude me.
8.  I love my children and would do almost anything for them, up to and including sacrificing my life for theirs, but my children are not my whole life.
9.  I am still deeply in love with my husband of 25 years, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t fight.
10. I majored in English at Georgetown University and minored in Theology.  I also took a lot of French classes, and use my fractured French to talk to my husband when we don’t want the kids to understand us or to discuss people who are sitting near us in restaurants.
11. I can make decisions almost instantly, whether it’s about what I should be buying or sizing up the character of someone I have just met.

  • If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Knoxville, Tennessee. (Which is where I was born and currently live,)

  • If you could meet anyone from history, alive or dead, who would it be?

I am very interested in genealogy so I think I’d like to meet some of my ancestors so I could get some of my questions answered.

  • What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Hiking and gardening, and I blog about both of them.

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I will still have two kids at home in five years, so my life won’t look a whole lot different.  I do hope that I will have writing published somewhere other than this blog by then.  I can’t devote as much time to that pursuit as I would like.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do the following:

  • Write a post about the fact that you’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award.
  • In this post, link back to and show some love to the person who nominated you, also nominate 11 other new blogs that would not have more than 1000 followers.  Let these nominated bloggers know that you have nominated them and provide a link back to your page to ensure that they are familiar with the Award.
  • Display the Award in your post and in your side bar.
  • Answer the questions about yourself.
  • Put your post with your nominated 11 blogs for the Liebster Award, on social media. Spread the love!
Here are your questions:
  1. How did you decide on the name of your blog?
  2. Where does your blogging inspiration come from?
  3. What is it that you love most about blogging?
  4. What is your favorite food?
  5. What is your favorite thing to drink (alcoholic or not)?
  6. What is an item you cannot live without?
  7. What are eleven random facts about yourself?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
  9. If you could meet anyone from history, alive or dead, who would it be?
  10. What is your favorite outdoor activity?
  11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

And here’s the part where I am supposed to tell you my nominees, and this is the problem:  The Liebster Award is really supposed to go to a newish blogger with a smaller following.  And most folks I know in that category have already received this award, plus I have had two other awards to give out in recent weeks (an embarrassment of riches, I realize).  So I’m going to let y’all nominate yourselves.  If you fit the criteria for this award, and you have not yet received one, tell me in the comments and I will pass one of my nominations along to you so that I (and your readers) can get to know you better.
Fridays Blog Booster Party Featured

Ask Away Friday!

I’m participating in a new (to me!) linkup today:  #AskAwayFriday was created by Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County and Amber from Bold Fit Mom, as a way to connect with other bloggers.  Two bloggers pair up to ask each other ten questions, any questions!
These days the linkup is hosted by:
Tamara from Tamara (Like) Camera
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter
Christy from Uplifting Families
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
Echo from Domain of The Mad Mommy
I am pairing up with Mrs.Tee today and answering the challenging questions she came up with for me!
  • Because most issues are life issues, if you think about it.”  This is your site’s tag line. What does it mean to you?

Before I was a blogger, I was a columnist for the local Catholic newspaper.  Because I was the chair of the Diocesan Respect Life Committee at the time, the topic of my column was life issues.  So I wrote about abortion, the death penalty, birth control, assisted reproductive technology, war–basically anything that could fit under the umbrella of respecting life “from the womb to the tomb.”  When I started blogging, I took the name of my column for my blog, and I was excited to have a platform to write about basically everything.  I figure if it’s in my life, it’s pretty much a life issue, right?  I like the title because I think it reflects the broad and eclectic nature of my blog.  I’m not a niche blogger.  You are never going to know what to expect when you come here.  Maybe one day I will be writing about politics and the next I’m reviewing my latest nature hike.  One day I’m sharing pictures and history of a local graveyard and the next I’m explaining my parenting philosophy.  You might even spot a recipe or two.

  •  What is your favorite childhood memory?

I have many happy memories of my childhood.  As the weather gets warmer I like to remember my daddy grilling out on the deck, after rigging the speakers from the stereo to play out of the open windows so we could listen to Rod Stewart and Carly Simon while we ate in the backyard.  A lot of my happiest memories have to do with being outside, and a certain aroma or song or breath of fresh air will bring those feelings flooding back.

  •  If you could take a trip anywhere without care to cost where would you go?

Europe, absolutely, and specifically Rome.  I was fortunate to have traveled in France with my grandmother as a teenager, but that was my only trip abroad.  It makes me sad sometimes to think of all the wonderful sights all over the world that I will probably never see.

  •  If you had to present yourself as a 3 course meal (appetizer, entree, dessert) what would the dishes be?

This is the hardest question!  I don’t even know how I am supposed to answer that?  By presenting character qualities as the dishes?  Or by thinking of foods that I am like somehow?  I’m going to go with a sort of combination of those ideas.  So for an appetizer, I would serve something fairly conventional and non-threatening, like wine and cheese.  And then the main course would be a familiar and filling item like a good steak, perhaps, but with some kind of completely unexpected seasoning and side dishes you have probably never heard of before.  Then dessert would be something sweet and filling, like a homemade pie with real whipped cream.  Make of that whatever you will. 🙂

  •  What’s your favorite season of the year?

Spring!  I cannot stop smiling at this time of year.  I love everything about it–the weather, the flowering trees and bulbs bursting through the earth, the longer days, the sweet-smelling breezes, the chirping frogs.  I always forget, though, that it isn’t REALLY Spring until mid-April, no matter how many warm days we have.  It’s going back into the 20s this weekend!

  •  What is the last thing you watched on TV?

Star Trek “Shore Leave.” We are about halfway through the first season, watching one or two episodes every night.  Before that, we watched the entire seven years of The Next Generation, and prior to that we watched nine years of The X-Files plus both movies.  I don’t watch broadcast t.v. but I am having a great time introducing these shows to William and sharing this time with whichever big kids are around and want to join us each evening.

  •  If you could recommend a Must Read book what would it be?

I recommend books on this blog quite often as I have always been a voracious reader.  It’s hard to recommend just one book, though, because it depends on the person you are offering it to.  My favorite book is Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline.

  •  What’s your favorite color?

Yellow.  I love it because it is bright and sunny and happy.  When I was a little girl my bedroom had three yellow walls, one wall papered with yellow roses, and spring-green carpet.  I thought it looked like springtime in there and it made me happy.

  •  Do you prefer outdoor or indoor activities? What are a few of your favorites?

Outdoor.  I love hiking and blog about that a lot!  I also love gardening, and walking around old graveyards, and going on picnics in the mountains.  Having said all that, I spend 95% of my life in the house in front of the computer, it seems.

  •  Are you a coffee tea or other drinker?

Coffee, no contest at all!  I love my sweet tea like any Southern girl, but I drink three cups (big ones) of coffee most days.  The caffeine doesn’t even register with me.  I can drink it right before bed.  One of my greatest accomplishments (not even kidding a little bit) was weaning myself away from sugar in my coffee last year.  Maybe this year I can get rid of the cream so I can achieve my goal of drinking it ALL DAY LONG with no added calories!
That was fun!  Check out the rest of the linkup to meet some new and interesting bloggers!

Five Life Lessons from The Godfather

John and I are spending the weekend in Dallas with my sister and brother-in-law.  They have an in-home theatre, and last night we ate Italian food and watched The Godfather.
I have only watched it start-to-finish once, I believe, and that was twenty years ago. Now that I knew what was going to happen, I was able to appreciate the nuances of the film, particularly the ground-breaking portrayal of gangsters as complex characters who love their families and look upon what they do as “just business.”
In that spirit I offer you five life lessons from The Godfather.
1.  “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

Vito Corleone backs this statement up.  He works part of the time from his home office so that he can be with his family as much as possible. Children and grandchildren overrun the family compound, sometimes even darting into his workspace.  When he comes home from the hospital, family surrounds him as he lifts a hand in blessing.  He dies playing in the backyard with his grandson.
2.  “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family.”

The family bond is sacred.  Internal disagreement is one thing; Don Corleone encourages the input and listens to the counsel of his sons before making his decisions. But once that decision is made, a united front should be presented to outsiders at all times.
3.   “We don’t discuss business at the table.”

There’s work time, and there’s family time.  When you are with your family, you should be with them.
4.  “Leave the gun.  Take the cannoli.”

Priorities are important, and so are the promises we make to the people we love.  Don’t let work responsibilities stand in the way of family obligations.
5.  “I’ll take care of you now. I’m with you now. I’m with you.”
godfather 2
We owe something to the people who raised us.  Someday we may be called upon to care for them as they cared for us.
What lessons have you learned from the movies?

The Year in Review: Your Favorites, My Favorites

I’m shamelessly stealing this idea from another blog.  I’m going to share the year’s five most popular posts (according the the stats provided by WordPress), and then I’m going to share five of my personal favorites (difficult to do because, frankly, I am a fan of my own writing, and I’ve already wasted way too much time today re-reading posts).


1.  And This Is Why They Call It Gallaher View

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How fitting that my top post should be about a graveyard, a subject to which I devoted many hours this year.  This particular post owes its popularity to the enthusiasm of the wonderful Facebook group, “You Know You Are from Knoxville If . . .” which never fails to suck me in whenever I risk visiting.

“Entering a new graveyard is always a little adventure.  There are almost always surprises, stories, mysteries.”

2.  Rocky Hill Baptist Cemetery:  Appearances Are Deceiving

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The number two post owes its page views, unfortunately, to a misunderstanding by someone who was offended by what I wrote.  Ah, the price of fame. 🙂  Seriously, I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings but I was gratified that most people who read what I had written did not see it that way.

3.  Songs of Innocence and of Experience

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I wrote this in 2011 and I have no idea why so many people are still reading it–or clicking on it, at any rate.  Rereading it today, though, it seems almost prescient, given that it was written shortly before our family passed through the literal flames of experience.

“So in my paper I talked about innocence, experience, and wisdom in Blake’s poetry, in William Wordsworth’s Prelude, in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield.  I defended it successfully, and I got that Honors degree.  Did I understand what I was writing about?  Probably not.”

4.  The Living and the Dead

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This post was written in response to the furor over #2 above.  In it I talk about WHY I write about cemeteries, and how I approach the task.

“If I’m in a smaller cemetery, I try to read every gravestone.  I think about the people there, wonder about them.  Sometimes, especially if they are babies, I pray for them or even talk to them.  I tell them that today, even if only today, they are remembered.”

5.  The Terrifying Teens

My teenagers sample fried gator while visiting my sister and her husband in Texas
My teenagers sample fried gator while visiting my sister and her husband in Texas

This is another old post–from 2010!–that is still very close to my heart, so I’m glad it’s being read.  After the mid-point of February, I’ll be down to just one teenager!  I had three when this was written.  Making it through their teen years was even harder than I thought it would be when I wrote this.

“I don’t think teenagers are terrible at all–I enjoy mine very much; it’s exciting to see the beginnings of the adults they are slowly on their way to becoming.  But I don’t look too hard for the light at the end of the parenting tunnel for fear that it may be an oncoming train.”


I’m only going to pick from ones I posted this year.  I tried to pick a variety of representative posts.  Another time perhaps I’ll do a roundup of my favorites of all time.

1.  Obamacare:  My Latest Update

I wrote a lot of posts about Obamacare this year and you’ll be hearing more about it this year.  I’m proud of these posts which are relevant and also personal, and which I realize open me up to some judgment and criticism.

“There shouldn’t be a set of assumptions about people who are on TennCare which influences the care they receive.  There shouldn’t be different levels of care for people who have insurance and those who don’t.  But that was our reality, and Obamacare has changed that for our family.”

2.  Cuttin’ Footloose

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I love this short story of the memories and feelings a favorite movie can evoke.

“Maybe it wasn’t the movie itself.  Maybe it was just the joy of being young and with close friends, out alone at night under our own steam, having friends who were driving and a couple who even had their own cars.  But for me the way I felt that night is inextricably linked to the movie and always will be.   I felt . . . empowered.  Like I could do anything.  Like life was good and all of it was ahead of me (that part at least was true).”

3.  Back Home Again

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This is the third of a three part series on the college reunion I attended this year–my 25th.  I love Georgetown.

“The Eucharist is the source and the summit of all that we do as Catholics, and the Reunion Mass is the summit of the weekend for me.  I worry sometimes at the naysayers who proclaim Georgetown is not “Catholic enough,” until I come back and see and feel how very Catholic it is.”  

4.  Forty Years of Yo-Yo Dieting

Me at age two, before hopping on the diet treadmill
Me at age two, before hopping on the diet treadmill

This was very personal and hard to write, and I shared it as part of my writing on my journey toward being healthier.

“What that first diet was I don’t remember . . . Some of them worked better than others, but I never lost ALL the weight.  I never weighed the magic number the weight tables told me I should.”

5.  Dust to Dust

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This was the beginning of my cemetery posts.  I’ve enjoyed visiting them, photographing them, learning about them, and sharing them with my readers.  Expect many more of these posts in the new year.

“See, as long as your name remains visible on a stone, and as long as someone comes by to read the names, and wonder about the people who bore them, how they lived, why they died–you are still a part, albeit a small one, of the living world.  It’s important to me, that these dead people be remembered.  That the living remember where we come from.”

If you enjoyed this sampling of posts above, please feel free to share this with anyone else you think might enjoy this blog.  Thank you for reading and special thanks to those who take the time to comment.  Happy New Year!