Answer Me This

Answer Me This from CatholicAllYear.Com

Yes, it’s time again for the great Answer Me This linkup courtesy of Catholic All Year.

1. How long have you lived in your current home?

house and garden

It will be four years in September.  Our house burned down on September 5, 2011.  We were homeless for not quite three weeks, with Emily at college, the big boys living with school friends, the dog with my one sister and the rest of us with the other sister.  On September 24, we were able to fill up an empty rental house with donations given by family and friends–an enormous moving van full.  We are still here.

2. How do you find out about news and current events?

Generally I’ll see something pop up on Facebook and then I’ll check Twitter to find out what is really going on.  I find the newspaper to be a joke, breathlessly announcing things I’ve known about for two days.

I make it a point to look at articles about current events, particularly controversial ones, from a number of different sites to make sure I am getting real news and not some slanted thing someone made up to support an agenda.

3. Would you be able to make change for a twenty right now? For a dollar?

I can practically never make change for a twenty.  I can make change for a dollar at the moment because no one has stolen my change recently–but most of  would be pennies.

4. What’s the craziest food you’ve ever eaten?

I’m not big on eating crazy food.  And I guess what’s crazy is a matter of perspective anyway, right?  I’ve tasted sushi (not a fan), alligator (tastes like chicken), squid (rubbery).  I’m a big fan of Korean food, particularly kimchi (fermented cabbage).  Is that crazy?

5. Which of the commonly removed parts have you had removed? (tonsils, wisdom teeth, appendix, etc.)

I was born without wisdom teeth (but have still managed to acquire wisdom, I assure you).  My surgical removals have included my gall bladder (and good riddance to it) and my first three children.

Emily Rose Sholly, three days old

Emily Rose Sholly, three days old

Baby Jake 2

Baby Jake

Baby Teddy

Baby Teddy

6. What’s your favorite sport to watch on TV?

The only sport I watch is football, and for the most part I only watch the UT Volunteers.  Occasionally if my son or my husband has another game on I might sit down and watch if it looks like a good game.

You can join the linkup, or read the rest of the responses, right here.

Featured on BlogHer.com

Let’s get one thing straight up front–it’s time for the flag to come down.  It’s divisive, it’s hurtful, and whatever you or I or anyone might have meant by keeping or displaying it just doesn’t matter now that the Dylann Roofs of this world have chosen it as their banner.

BUT . . .

Let’s not kid ourselves, people.  Can’t y’all see what’s going on here?  Why is all the news suddenly about the flag?  Why are we letting ourselves be distracted so easily?

The flag didn’t make Dylann Roof a racist; he embraced the flag because he was ALREADY a racist.  And he didn’t whack those people over the head with a flag.  He shot them.  With a gun that was easily available to him, instantly, without any kind of waiting period, despite pending drug charges.  A gun that was small enough to easily conceal as he entered the church.  A lethal weapon that he bought with the express purpose of killing black people.

Racism motivated Dylann Roof.  But all his hatefulness would have been impotent were it not backed up with a Glock .45.

And as a country, how are we going to respond to this tragedy, this butchery in God’s house?  How are we going to make things better?  We are going to get rid of all the Confederate flags, by golly!  That will guarantee this kind of thing will never happen again!

Y’all, in the face of such horror, this is a feel-good gesture at best.  And I hope that it DOES make African-American people feel good:  make them feel heard, make them feel respected, make them feel that more change is possible.

But what I fear is really going to happen is a bunch of nothing.  The flags will come down, we will all congratulate ourselves, and we will go back to our usual way of doing things.

So what if Wal-Mart stops selling Confederate battle flags?  If they announced they were going to stop selling guns, THAT would be a step in the right direction.

It's not a flag problem (1)This post has been featured on BlogHer.  Please visit there and share it if you enjoyed it!

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.

UPDATE: I wrote this last week, before the internet exploded with discussions of racial identity fueled by a white woman passing for black, before our hearts were broken by Charleston’s violent reminder of one real possible consequence of being born black in America.  In light of all that, my post seems both prescient and naive.  We are not as far along the road of compassion [feeling WITH] as I had hoped.

When I posted the above on my Facebook page, it received an enormous number of likes.  I don’t know where it originated, but it’s a popular picture for sure. When I first saw it I was immediately reminded of this Sesame Street video, from back when my kids were little:

I’ve always admired the way Sesame Street “does” race.  It reminds me of Star Trek (the original series, not that preachy TNG).  Both show a positive vision–people of all colors working side by side, respecting one another, playing together.  No one talks about it much; it’s just accepted.  As in the Vulcan ideal of IDIC – infinite diversity in infinite combinations, people don’t fear differences; rather they rejoice in them.

It has to be clear to anyone with eyes that our society is still deeply divided along racial lines, that many if not most of us still harbor prejudices, sometimes even despite ourselves.  Yet the fact that so many people “Like” the sweet picture above gives me hope.  We aspire to acceptance and love of all races even if we aren’t quite there yet.  We acknowledge the beauty of our many different colors, and that’s a start.


I have posted this on the #1000Speak for Compassion linkup, and you can (and should) read the other posts HERE.


Image Credit: Spirit Science http://thespiritscience.net/

Most of us want to be liked, right?  It’s human nature, isn’t it, to crave acceptance, to want to be part of a tribe?  But worrying about whether people like you can be debilitating.  And it’s downright unhealthy if you let your desire to be liked trump your integrity.

My  first job out of college, my supervisor (who was a deeply troubled woman) did not like me.  In fact, she hated me, and I came to hate her.  It was a terrible situation (that I, in my immaturity, probably made worse), but I think one of the things that made it so bad for me at that time is that I wasn’t used to people not liking me.  I don’t mean that I had been the most popular person around, or that I had huge numbers of friends, but I was used to people thinking I was a nice person.  I did not know how to handle not being liked.

Well, that was almost 26 years ago (ACK!) and there have been a few people who disliked me in the intervening years.  Probably more than a few.  But I made a statement a few years ago that I will stand by today: “I don’t care who likes me as long as *I* like me.”

That is a bold statement.  And it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t sting a little when I feel misunderstood or left out.  It does mean that I will not change myself to win friends and influence people.  I have strong beliefs; sometimes I feel the need to share them, and I ALWAYS feel the need to live by them.  I have kids who I have to advocate for.  I sometimes have to take unpopular positions in my own home.  I have discovered that staying true to myself and what I believe is more important than being popular.

I’m so excited that Kendra of Catholic All Year has decided to bring back her Answer Me This linkup!  It’s such a great way to start off my blogging week.  Here are this week’s questions.

1. Any big plans for the summer?

Summer starts early here in Tennessee–my kids have been out of school since May 22.  So we’ve already done one of our big summer things, visiting Baltimore for John’s mom’s 80th birthday.

Ripley's 1

80th birthday old bay lorelei crab

I personally have also had a trip to Dallas with my sister and a weekend by myself downtown as well.  The next big family thing is to spend a couple of nights in Gatlinburg at the end of this month.  And John and I are going to Chicago at the end of July for a wedding, with the added benefit that we will get to visit Teddy, who is interning there.  Here are pictures of him BEFORE and AFTER the haircut he got so he could look professional this summer:

teddy before

teddy short hair

2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

My grandmother told me that there was a brownie living under the stairs in her basement.  We used to set out a bowl of milk for him when I spent the night with her, and it was always gone when I woke up in the morning. :-)

3. What is your favorite amusement park ride?

I used to love roller coasters, but they scare me now.  As I tell my kids, real life is scary enough, so why do I want to scare myself more?  I can’t stand anything that goes in circles because it makes me sick, so that knocks out a lot of possibilities.  So I will go with water rides, specifically the River Rampage at Dollywood.

4. What’s on your summer reading list?

I don’t have a list, but I do have a stack.  There is always a stack.

booksThe stack has actually grown a lot since that picture was taken.  And I can’t tell you what is in it, except that Emily really wants me to read the Grisha Trilogy, so I guess I will comply.

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?

Constantly.  I always fall asleep at the symphony.  ALWAYS.  It’s embarrassing.  I fall asleep at Mass during the homily if I’m tired.  But I can sleep sitting straight up so I hope Father does not notice, especially since we sit in the second row.

6. What is your favorite smell?

Honeysuckle on May evenings.  Barbecue smoking in the Fall.  A certain cologne my husband wears that reminds me of when we first fell in love.

094 honeysuckle closeup

And there you have it!  If you want to read the other responses, or play along yourself, click here.

My Weekend Escape

For about eight years now, at least when the stars aligned and finances permitted, I have received a weekend away from my family as a birthday gift.  The stars did not align at the right time this year (my birthday was in April), so I took this past weekend as my own.

Where do I go? you ask.  Well, in this case it’s not as much about the destination as it is about being alone.  But in any case I happen to think downtown Knoxville is an awesome destination.  And it means I don’t have to waste any of my time traveling, and if anything bad should happen (say for example I have to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance for a gall bladder attack, and that is not hypothetical), I am close to home.

Downtown Gay Street buildings seen from my hotel room

Downtown Gay Street buildings seen from my hotel room

I have spent a couple of these weekends at the former Hotel St. Oliver, but more often I have ended up (due to the vagaries of Hotwire.com) at the Crowne Plaza ($80/night this year–not bad for a three-star establishment).  The Crowne Plaza suits me for other reasons.  It’s a short walk to Market Square, and an even shorter walk to Immaculate Conception Church, which is where I reunite with my family at the end of my weekend.

Immaculate Conception Church from the window of my Crowne Plaza hotel room

Immaculate Conception Church from the window of my Crowne Plaza hotel room

I’m sure my idea of a good time wouldn’t suit everyone, but the fact is that there is nothing–NOTHING–I crave so much as being alone.  I used to think that was strange and was something new and different about me, because I remembered always wanting to be with my friends in high school and in college, but I realize now that I have always enjoyed my alone time.  When I was a little girl and a teenager I spent hours in my room, playing with my dolls and horses when I was younger, drawing and writing when I was older.  That kind of alone time doesn’t happen in a house with seven people, six of whom are expecting me to referee their battles, chauffeur them from place to place, feed them three meals a day, and do their laundry.  I am rarely if ever alone in the house–the closest thing is in the morning when John is gone and no one else is awake–and I am working then.  I try to get out of the house every week or two by myself but again I usually have to bring a mountain of work along.

So these weekends are a huge treat to me, and honestly I really need more like a week because I planned so many things I wanted to get done on my weekend that it was impossible.

Some years I’ve done a lot of walking around downtown, but I usually go in early May and it’s hot for walking midday now.  Sometimes I visit all the shops on Market Square, try out lots of restaurants, go to the library.  But what I wanted to do this time was write.

I checked in on Friday as soon as I could get away.  I didn’t leave the hotel that night.  I spent most of the evening attending to social media tasks (if you blog you will understand what I mean–it’s a job in itself and honestly one I wish I could devote more time to).  I took a break for dinner but just went down to the hotel dining room for the seafood buffet with a novel for company.  I stayed up too late because I didn’t want to miss a minute, and I set my alarm.

By the time I got ready and headed out for breakfast (around 9:30 a.m.) things were already in full swing on Market Square.

market square

What an amazing place, y’all.  As you might surmise, there used to be a big market house in the square; hence, the name.  But it was demolished years ago, and for years except for a few businesses it was pretty barren there–especially on the weekend.  But on Saturday mornings now there is a Farmer’s Market and vendors were everywhere.  Plus some kind of band that made it sound like New Orleans down there.  I’m telling you, I really did feel like I’d gone on a journey.  I walked past all that and went to Pete’s for breakfast.  That’s a venerable Knoxville institution where one can still get a full breakfast for (I kid you not) under seven dollars.

After breakfast I came back to my room and edited pictures and wrote blog posts and organized things until I was too hungry to wait any more and then I headed back to the Square where I went to Not Watsons for dinner.  I should have taken a picture of my food:  I had fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs but they were all fancy with unusual toppings, and I washed them down with a Bacon Bloody Mary and I bet you can just imagine how wonderful that was.  I want to go back there and just spend all my money ($7 each) on those.

Then I allowed myself to walk around for awhile, went into one of my favorite shops and bought myself a couple of little presents because why not? and stopped at Coffee and Chocolate to grab a cup of coffee and some treats for later (because it’s for my birthday so carbs are okay, right?).  I wish my hands hadn’t been so full because I would have liked to take some pictures for y’all as I was walking back to the hotel–pictures of things like the old man playing his white violin, and the kids running through the fountains, and the dreadlocked buskers, and dogs of all shapes and sizes, and rose petals festooning the ground.  When I got back to the hotel, I sat in the fancy lobby and enjoyed my coffee then it was right back upstairs to write some more, again staying up later than I should.

Sunday morning I just had time to eat at the hotel breakfast buffet before heading next door for Mass.  Maybe next year I should ask for a week?


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