Emily M. DeArdo


Growing through the dirt--Making Things Happen Conference 2017

goal setting, travel, Making Things HappenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

This isn't just a normal hallway. 

Off this hallway, big things happened. 

Weeds were pulled. Seeds planted. Connections made. 

Last week I had the incredible privilege of attending the Making Things Happen conference. It's a hard conference to explain. Essentially, you could say it's about goal setting. But it's about more than that--it's about living the life that you want to live, about being in touch with your purpose and getting rid of fears, lies, assumptions, and other muck that's holding you back from pursuing dreams and the fullest life. 

These dreams don't have to be big. They could be, in the world's reckoning, quite small. But to each person I was privileged to meet at this conference, it was about making their lives, and their small corners of the world, better

I went into the conference feeling discouraged. I didn't feel like I was ever going to meet my goals of getting the book published and meeting smaller, more personal goals. I felt like I had been planting seeds, but wasn't seeing results. 

"How would it feel if we got pregnant, and then had a baby the next day?" Lara Casey (the conference founder) asked at one point. It's absurd, but it's true. One of my big takeaways was that I wanted success to be easy. I didn't want to have to keep sending out proposals, keep exercising....keep whatever-ing. I wanted success now, measurable results NOW! And that's not how it goes. 

It's about God's timing. Not mine. Lara loves gardening, so her talks had lots of gardening metaphors. "Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we" was one I really liked. 

It takes work for a seed to grow. And faith for a farmer or gardener to plant that seed and hope for a harvest. 

As part of "growing together", we had focus groups. The ladies in my focus group were amazing. We got down to the real, hard things and then started to build up from there. 

I met amazing, God-loving women who want to make good things happen, and that inspired me. I know that these women want to help me grow, just like I want to help them. When you're real with someone--really real, no holes barred, crying in front of them sharing fears real--for two days, you know that at the end of it, you're accepted and loved and supported. It's truly an amazing feeling to have that support. 

Growing little by little is powerful. The items on my action list are slowly being tended. I'm being very intentional in how I spend my days and my time. This time is all I get--I don't want to waste it. 

Another big take away for me? "We practice to get better!" That's one of the things I hate about exercise--I'm not good at it. But hearing this, even though it's sort of a duh truth, gave me the encouragement I needed. We do practice to get better. And often, I don't want to practice the stuff I'm not good at. But I have to, to see any growth. 

The Carolina Inn, where the conference was held. 

The Carolina Inn, where the conference was held. 

At the conference, one of the questions we journaled about was: what is your definition of success? Here's mine: 

Doing what God has created me to do with a joyful and contented heart.

So everyday, I'm going to sit down with my planner (which Emily L. so graciously gifted all of us!), my mug, and my PowerSheets, and make things happen. Especially things that will further what God has created me to do. 

The Work of Acceptance

books, essays, healthEmily DeArdoComment
Andrew Wyeth, "Christina's World" 

Andrew Wyeth, "Christina's World" 

A lot of people equate "acceptance" with "giving up." 

This is not true. 

I'm in a book club that's reading A Piece of the World and one of the discussion threads that keeps popping up is that the main character, Christina (who was a actual living, breathing person) is too "accepting" of her disability. She doesn't fight back, she doesn't try, she just gives up. 

Now, the book is about Andrew Wyeth's famous painting, Christina's World, and the woman behind it, Christina Olson, who is our narrator. We aren't sure what sort of illness she had, but it was a degenerative one that eventually took away the use of her legs and other parts of her body. 

In the novel, Christina is first fitted with braces to "fix" her legs. The braces are incredibly painful, causing her to bleed and bruise, and they don't help. She stops wearing them. Her parents want her to try a treatment at a hospital, but when she and her father get to the hospital, she refuses to enter. Later in her life, she tries one last time, but is told to "rest". 

But Christina doesn't pity herself; she goes on with life as usual. She doesn't want treatment because she doesn't think they'll work, and she doesn't see her body as something that is  wrong--she's just the way she is. 

Some people in the group, though, are so irritated that she doesn't try. But what is gained from constantly trying to change things, in pursuing futile treatments that may not help? Christina has decided that she doesn't want to keep trying things that are painful and unhelpful. That's her choice, and that's her call. But it doesn't mean she's just flopping over on a couch and saying, "I give up! I shall Lay Here On My Bed For the Rest of My Days!"  

All of us eventually die. All of us will, eventually, have our bodies betray us. Christina's mother says in the book that Christina is just the way God made her. And that's the way I feel, too, about my body. This is just how I am. Christina accepts it, and goes on with her life.  

Now, does that mean I don't try to fix things? Well, no. I wear glasses and got braces and I do love useful medical treatment that keeps me alive. :) But there are also things that I know I won't do, treatments I won't try, and bridges I won't cross, in the name of keeping me alive or "fixing" things.

Some Deaf people will not have cochlear implants. It's actually a big topic in the Deaf Community (or it was--not sure about now?). Do we try to "fix" a disability (being unable to hear), or do we see it as a disability at all? We know how I came down on that side of the question, but again, I wasn't born Deaf. And a CI is a bit different that a situation that really can't be fixed or cured or changed.

Have I given up? No! But I have accepted my body the way it is. I have accepted its limitations and I'm not willing to do things that may or may not "fix" me. 

This isn't giving up--it's just acceptance. And that takes work. It's hard to try to be even-keeled about things like maybe never having my own children. It's taken years of work. But without acceptance, I'd be constantly chasing some ideal of physical perfection that just isn't possible. I'd be wasting money and time. There are other things I'd rather do, honestly, than sit in another doctor's office. 

As Christina's body declined even further, she still tried her best to do her everyday things. To some, her world was very small, because she never lived anywhere but her small town in Maine, and even then, nowhere by her family's farmhouse. She lived with her family all her life. But by saying that her life was less than, or sad, or that she gave up--that denies her any agency in her life. It denies her hard work of acceptance and living her life on her terms. 

Does her life make other people uncomfortable? Well, probably. She didn't use a wheelchair so she dragged herself around, propelling herself by using her arms. This was probably quite...well, odd, for a lot of people. But too bad for them.

I remember when I needed insulin right after transplant, and a friend of mine said "ew!" when I injected myself at the dinner table, in my own house. "You don't have to look," I shot back.  Normally, if I went out to dinner and I was with people, I'd go into the bathroom and inject myself. But in my own house? Nope. Not happening. 

People used to complain about my CF treatments. "When are you going to be done with that?" Like the nebulizer was some sort of icky contraption, or a poisonous animal. "When I'm done."  I had a roommate once who didn't want my machines in the bedroom we shared; she wanted me to put them in the living room of our townhouse. I didn't want to be doing my treatments in front of total strangers, or getting lots of nosy questions about what these machines were and why I needed them. I wasn't some sort of sideshow exhibit. 

I don't need to make my life easier for other people. I need to make my life work for me. And so did Christina. 





Insurance/ACA/ Health Care Part III: Thoughts and Suggestions

politicsEmily DeArdoComment

So, in the meantime, what can we do about health care/insurance costs, and the like? Here's some suggestions: 

1) Realize that even in a hospital, you are the consumer. If you don't want a certain test run, you don't have to have it run! If you don't want to go to a certain hospital, you don't have to go there! A few weeks ago I had to tell ambulance guys (I'm fine, btw) to take me to Children's instead of the nearest hospital. They looked at me oddly. "It's because of my transplant," I said. When we got to Children's, and one of the nurses recognized me immediately, the EMT realized, Oh, yes, she knows what she's talking about! 

You do not have to do everything a doctor recommends. You really don't. I know, we don't want to be difficult. We assume the doctors know what they're talking about. And yes, most of the time, they do! But not always

(Caveat here: If you don't know anything about your condition, then I don't recommend this pathway. It's only after, say, 34 years of messing with my body that I know what most tests are being run for, and what their purposes are. If I don't know, I ask. If a doctor suggests a test to me that I don't think is necessary, we have a "conversation". Or if it's contraindicated for me, it doesn't happen. Don't be in the ER and Googling random tests. That's annoying.) 

2) Know Your Body. Know what you're taking, what you're allergic to, what tests you may not be able to have. Use the Health app on your iPhone! Why know all this? Because hospitals and doctors don't always know. They don't check the chart all the time! You must advocate for yourself. That's not really a suggestion. It's something you have to do. 

I was at a Big Adult Hospital once and the nurses would come in and say things like, "We're going to do an MRI." Me: "No, you're not. I have a magnet in my head. Contraindicated." 

"We're going to give you a PICC line." "No you're not. There's no more spots for them." 

Etc. Had they read my chart? No idea. But I--and my parents, who took turns being with me--knew enough about me to say, "Nope. This isn't happening." 

If I hadn't known, or hadn't been able to speak up, then things would've been done that would've been reallllly bad. 

3) Almost all--if not all--hospitals have financial aid departments. Call them. Email them. Fax them. Whatever. Talk to them. I currently have a stack of bills from the resort next to me. I will fill out the application for financial aid, and I will send these to the financial aid office at Children's, and once they see that my "paycheck is a disgrace to paychecks", I will probably not have to pay anything, or a severely reduced amount. 

Is this a pain? Yes. Have my parents and I dealt with many, many financial officers and insurance people? Yes. Does it take time? Yes. BUT IT CAN BE DONE. DO IT. It's worth it.

4) Do not mistake "insurance" for "health care." Not the same! 

5) It is important that people with pre-existing conditions, that need health insurance, can get it. It is important to remove the work connection to insurance. But one of the big parts of the ACA is the "insurance marketplace" idea, and the idea that the care would be affordable, because you could choose what worked for you and your budget. 

But right now, there is no "marketplace" if an entire state has only one insurance company from which to choose. That completely defeats the purpose of a free market, in which competition is what is needed to keep prices low and provide consumer choice. If the choices are Insurance Company X, and Medicare/ Medicaid, that's not a choice for the average bear. 

Different people have different insurance needs. I use health care incredibly often. My brother is as healthy as a horse and has used an ER once in his entire life. He and I, obviously, do not need the same insurance plans! Thus, when I worked, I chose the most expensive insurance plan. My brother could choose the cheapest one and be OK with that. 

Right now, I have one health insurance option. Thankfully, it covers the Big Things I need. But financially, it's a tough plan, given my co-pays and the premium is crazy.  But I don't have the choice of any other insurer, whereas before, I had three choices. This is a problem, no? Because I cannot make choices about my health care. I have to "choose" the only option available.

The ACA, like many things, might be "good in theory". But in practice, there are definitely things that need fixed, while still keeping key provisions of the law that allow people with complex medical needs to get what they need. 


Thoughts on Insurance and Health Care, Part II: The Government Side

politicsEmily DeArdo4 Comments

I worked for the state government for 10 years, in various capacities. Before that, I interned in my congressman's office. And in both places, I paid special attention to any health care stuff that was going on. The first budget I worked on in the Senate, I had the good fortune to meet an excellent lobbyist (yes, they exist) who fought to keep the state's Bureau for Children With Medical Handicaps (BCMH) funding alive in what was a very, very, very tight budget.

The State of Ohio has to have a balanced budget. We can't run a deficit. So we can't pass a budget that doesn't add up, and that means that, as great as many programs are, we can't keep them all if the funding isn't there. Fortunately, BCMH was saved, because BCMH works with many families with kids and adults with chronic diseases, like CF. We never had to use BCMH funds, but I know that they were, and are, extremely useful to families who need money to help pay for treatment, equipment, and care. It's a nice safety net and really makes a difference to a lot of families.  

(To me, this is an important part of the pro-life ethos: helping families and adults who have chronic conditions receive good care for said conditions. That's what BCMH does. And right now, in Ohio, they're talking about cutting it again, which irritates me, because it's a program that does a lot of good for small(ish) output. So, back to the crusading we go!)   

Now, like I said, Ohio has to have a balanced budget. The federal government does not.  Hence the "debt clock"    .  (There have been various efforts at a "balanced budget amendment" over the years. Hasn't happened yet.) But that doesn't mean that the government can just make stuff happen--poof! Magic! Being $19 trillion in debt is probably not the best economic policy. And when there isn't enough money, you run into issues like the one we currently have with Social Security--it's not going to be solvent forever. At some point, all the bills come due. 

If you work for a particular member of Congress or the state legislature, you get lots of phone calls, emails, and letters. Most of these involve wanting the government to do something--and that something usually involves money. Any time you hear the word "free" come out of a politician's mouth, you should laugh. NOTHING is free. Someone is always paying for it. Now, that someone might not be you. But someone is

"Free" health care. "Free" college. "Free" preschool. "Free" whatever whatever whatever. 

Someone, somewhere, is paying for that. Let's not debate the ins and outs of whether or not these people should, or types of taxation. Let's just all agree that somewhere, someone is paying for all the "free" things. "No such thing as a free lunch" also applies to everything else. 

*     *     *

One of the things that makes America different from other countries is federalism. (Federalism--the divide of power between state, local, and federal government.) That idea is enshrined in the Constitution and it's something that also makes life....hard, when it comes to spending. 

There is always an underlying argument about the powers of the federal government and what the federal government should do. Really strict interpreters of the Constitution say that the federal government should only do the things listed in Article I, section 8, which includes things like: 

  • Maintaining "post roads"--we could probably say road maintenance today. Highways, especially, since they're interstate. 
  • Borrowing money
  • Regulating foreign trade
  • Creating and regulating the lower court system  (as in, everything other than SCOTUS). 
  • Declare war, and maintain/provide for the armed forces--there is quite a bit about this in section 8.

(Like it or not, national defense has always been something the federal government has been charged to do. It's a big part of the Constitution. "Provide for the common defense" is part of the preamble. We can argue about what "maintain" means, in concrete terms. But it IS one of the few direct things the government is charged with doing. Ergo, military spending belongs in the federal budget.) 

Now, we can argue all day about what the government should provide for its people--and there are some things the government, at the federal level, just does better. The military comes immediately to mind, as does anything to do with foreign trade and foreign governments. We need a Secretary of State and a Secretary of Defense and a  Secretary of the Treasury. Those are important Cabinet positions that do important work. 

If we, as citizens, want the government to provide something, we have to determine what we would like them to cut in order to pay for something else.  We cannot have everything, it just doesn't work. Everyone who's ever had to balance a checkbook knows this--or any kid who got an allowance. You have $10. You can buy the books, or the My Little Ponies. But not both. (Childhood examples, right there.) 

So, if we want a minimum floor of health care that the government provides--what are we willing to lose? Sesame Street funding? The calls for universal Pre-K? Head Start? Highway maintenance? Disease research? National parks? Foreign aid? Humanities spending? Public health stuff? 

No one wants to be the politician to say "we cannot afford everything", because that politician will lose in his next election. But it's true. We really cannot afford everything. It's just not possible. 

*     *     *

What if we revamped the ACA so it was more like a safety net of health care? 

And by "safety net of health care", we could say: vision. Dental. Basic medical care: primary care guys, basic surgery, urgent care/ER stuff. Maybe specialists and certain types of special care (chemo? etc.) Not Viagra. (Sorry, guys.) Not birth control. (Sorry, ladies!) Not cosmetic surgery, etc. But things that actually are vital to health. To keeping you alive, or fix big issues, like eyesight or hearing, that can really improve people's lives.  

Again, this would be nice. The question is: how do we administer it? How do we make it happen? How do we codify it? (Get it into law) And above all, how do we make it effective, so people aren't waiting years and years to get things they need?  

The easiest thing, in my mind, would be to just call a spade a spade and say it's a tax. It just is, like Social Security. You just pay it. It gets taken out of your paycheck. Stop it with this whole "you have to buy insurance but it's not a tax" thing. It is. It's a tax. Just call it what it is. Say that we're going to have a certain bedrock level of care that's going to be low-cost because everyone is paying for it. 

We do have to get rid of the connection between employment and health insurance. And we have to get rid of the inability for people with actual health problems to get said health insurance, because we're the ones who need it. We also need to fix Social Security Disability so that states cannot deprive certain populations in their states from being eligible for SSDI. 

But all of this is insanely complicated to codify, especially since we have 50 different state laws regarding health insurance mandates and what needs to be covered. The national law generally overrides state law--so while Colorado has "legal" marijuana, technically that's against federal law, and if the feds wanted, they could prosecute the state of Colorado. But, for example, Ohio can ask insurance companies to cover blood sugar monitors for diabetics, but Illinois could say, "nah, we're not going to require that." 

So really, in my mind, we need to get rid of the employment thing first, and cover people who need covered. That has to happen. Then we can talk about what else we want. 

Because American health care--as in, actual care--is quite good. I'm alive because of it. We do lots of crazy things here that are awesome, groundbreaking things. 

What is not awesome is the insurance system. It is, to be kind, a bit insane. 

"Politics is choosing," some one in some political movie said. (I think it was The American President.) We have to choose. What do we want our government to do? What is our government's job? And then go from there--but realizing that nothing is free, and that if we want something, we have to be willing to give up something else.  What are we willing to give up? 



Yarn Along 55: When Following the Pattern Goes Awry

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo7 Comments

When you're knitting, usually, if you follow the pattern, you'll get something like the picture in the book. 

Unless the pattern is really, really off, as such was the case with this week's project. 

After I finished my scarf, I was just totally in love with knitting. I began to plan and plot for my next several projects, one of them being this envelope bag from the Chicks With Sticks Guide to Knitting

I followed the pattern precisely. I got the types of yarn indicated. I used the right size needles--which meant I had to get them, because I didn't have size 15s, but hey, I needed them for the next project too. 

And it turned out...oddly. 

It's supposed to be tiny. Like, glasses size case tiny. This is NOT tiny. It's like 13 inches! Now, I didn't felt it--because apparently you're only supposed to felt with 100% wool, and that's not what this wool was. (That wasn't specified in the instructions, either. Grrr.)  Ravelry notes here. 

However, even though it's enormous, I did like knitting this, and I liked whipstitching the edges of the bag, because one of my hangups had been "sewing and knitting? Whaaa?" Now I see how it works. 

I'm using the bag to hold my knitting notions: extra tapestry needles, my tape measure, needle gauge, stuff like that. I will sew a button on this guy at some point. And I do love the colors I chose. 

My work in progress is this guy: a basic washcloth. But different! 

I know--books, not magazines--but I love the dark yarn against the pale cover!

I know--books, not magazines--but I love the dark yarn against the pale cover!


It's done with a cotton/linen yarn. The next "real" project in my queue is a linen kerchief, and knitting with linen yarn is really different. (I did a few rows of the kerchief pattern with the linen yarn--Quince Sparrow, Venice colorway.) So I decided, before I go to work on the "real" project, let's use this linen/cotton blend and make up a washcloth, to get a feel for linen, even in a blend. 

Linen tends to really slip off needles, I learned (quickly!). But the stitch definition is amazing. You can't really see here, but even in a blend, the linen makes a difference.  It's going to be great in the kerchief project, which is all about texture.  

(Colorway for washcloth is Planetarium, Knitpick's Cotlin.)

As for real books, I have Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss to read next. 



Thoughts on Health Care/ACA/Etc Part One: Some background

healthEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I realize that's not the sexiest title, but I thought that it might be worth sharing some of my thoughts on health care, as someone who both uses the health care system extensively, and someone who worked in government. And since, if I tried to make this one post, the post would be approximately the length of Moby-Dick (and about as fun to read), it's going to be several posts. 

Today: My background in health care and using the American Health Care System 

Tomorrow: Working in Government and Seeing How Things Work (ie, nothing is free!) 

Day Three: Suggestions

I wasn't diagnosed with CF at birth. I was diagnosed when I was 11. However, I had epilepsy before that, and my first hospital admit was at the age of 9 months, so I've been using the health care system intimately for a long time. I always had insurance under my dad's work plan. Sometimes the plan would change and we'd have to deal with companies that weren't quite as good as others (Cigna, I'm looking at you), but I always had insurance. And it was insurance that worked, meaning it paid for the big things, like a two-week ICU stint my sophomore year of college, and lots of not-so-big things, like IV antibiotics at home. 

 I always knew that I had to have a job that would provide good health insurance. Salary wasn't as much of a priority as that was. Working for the government was ideal, because, while the pay was less, the benefits were good. I had three choices of health insurance plans. I chose the most expensive because I knew that my doctors at Children's liked them (meaning, they didn't have to argue with them too much), and they were what I'd had with my parents, so we were familiar with their coverage and co-pays and all that jazz. We knew how they worked. Like I said, this was the most expensive plan and took the most out of my paycheck, but that was secondary to having insurance that was good and would cover things, like the transplant I knew I was going to have soon.  

At that point--2004--I knew I had to have a job, because I couldn't stay on my parents' plan. Back then, you could only stay on your parents' plan through college. The details are sort of fuzzy now, but I think there was a way I could've stayed on their plan, or something, because of all my issues. 

The other option for health care coverage, if I didn't get a job or didn't want to get a job, was Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but I never even considered that, because 1) I wanted to work, 2) I didn't consider myself disabled. Yeah, OK, so my lungs were crap and I spent a lot of time in hospitals. But I could work. I had a brain that worked, I was intelligent, and I was going to use my fancy degree, dang it! I never considered not working, or not going to college.  

So, I had a job, I had health insurance. My  plan paid for my transplant--the surgery, the hospitalization after, the rehab, the drugs. It was good. It did what it was supposed to do, in short. I went back to work and continued to have health coverage. And I still, today, have health coverage (although not as good). 

Obviously, I am a person who requires lots of health care stuff. I require multiple medications to survive (although not as many as I did pre-transplant. Yay!). I wear contacts. I have a cochlear implant. I see a pulmonologist, a cardiologist, an ENT, a dermatologist (because my skin cancer risk is about 10X as high as the general population), a dentist, and an optometrist. In other times during my life, I've seen a rheumatologist, a neurologist, a plastic surgeon, doctors who treat burns, a dental surgeon, orthopedists (two broken bones), and a general surgeon (for when my port was implanted). It's easier to list the departments I haven't been seen in at Children's than the ones I've seen.  I am expensive to keep alive. 

And even with insurance, my family and I have to pay for things. A cochlear implant upgrade? $10,000. Visits to the infusion lab at Children's for blood draws? A few hundred. Pulmonary Function Tests, chest X-rays, CT scans, and EKGs? Yet more money. 

Now, that's the insurance side of it. How about the waiting side of it? Do I ever have to wait for care?


That's the quick answer. The longer answer is, sort of. My ENT, for example, works at various hospitals. When I need sinus surgery, we do it at Children's because they are so familiar with me, and that's where my lung transplant team is. So if I need surgery, I might have to "wait" if he doesn't have an immediate open slot on a Children's Surgery Day.  Even then, though, it's maybe a month or two month wait, and that's because my sinus surgeries are generally not urgent deals. They need done , but it's not like I'll die if they're not done quickly. 

I have never had to wait for any sort of testing or treatment. That's excellent. And it's almost always been like that, with any insurance I've had throughout my life. 

I obviously have a stake in how health care is "done" in this country. However, that doesn't mean that I fell to my knees in gratitude when the ACA was passed. But that's for tomorrow, when we talk about what I learned when it comes to government and health care. 




Book Talk: The Bronte Sisters

booksEmily DeArdoComment

Every so often, I need to talk Books with Y'all. So gather round and enter the literary salon! 

(This post contains affiliate links) 

After the Schulyer Sisters. And after the Austen sisters....there were the Bronte Sisters. 

Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Bronte, painted by their brother Branwell. 

Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Bronte, painted by their brother Branwell. 

Now, generally, I sort of dislike Charlotte Bronte, most of all because Charlotte didn't like Jane. Not literally. I mean, it wasn't like a Mean Girls episode, given that Jane died a year after Charlotte was born. But Charlotte didn't like Jane's writing, and that sort of makes me not like her. 

She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well; there is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy in the painting: she ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound: the Passions are perfectly unknown to her; she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy Sisterhood; even to the Feelings she vouchsafes no more than an occasional graceful but distant recognition; too frequent converse with them would ruffle the smooth elegance of her progress. 

--A letter of Charlotte Bronte's to W.S. Williams

I mean, what? The passions are perfectly unknown to her?! A distant recognition of feelings? WHAAAAAA. 

Charlotte Bronte. Shut it. 


That being said: The thing I never really understood here was that Charlotte and Jane write about very different things. Charlotte Bronte embraced Gothic Literature conventions, while Jane spoofed it. (If you want to read more about this, go here and here and here--these were part of a series on my old blog that I'm going to move over here, soon, so keep an eye out if Lit is Your Thing.) Jane knew what she was good at writing, and she stuck with that--she wrote about what she knew. Charlotte definitely included autobiographical content in her novels, but I don't think she had a crazy wife in an attic. Or a nun haunting her. There's definitely a mixture of "fact" and "fiction" in her novels. Again, that's not a problem. But I sense that Charlotte may have been a little....I dunno, intimidated? Jealous? Who knows. 

As a reader, you go to the novelists for two different things. I go to Jane because I just love Jane--but I love the realism of her stories, the characters, the delicious irony and humor and wit. If I want "It was a dark and stormy night", I read Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre.  Or, if you really want to read a ghost story with a slighty-more-than-slightly-nuts heroine, read Villette, which some people argue is a better novel that Jane Eyre. I dunno. I have issues with Jane Eyre, but Lucy Snowe, the heroine of Villette, is just.....well, nuts. That's really all you can say about her.  Villette is slightly nuts anyway, and is loaded with anti-Catholic sentiment, which is yet another reason I don't like Charlotte. She had a very large bee in her bonnet about Catholics, which I don't really understand. (Her father was a Church of England pastor, so maybe that had something to do with it?) 

Charlotte was the only one of the sisters to marry. She married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholas, in 1854.  Sadly, she died during her only pregnancy, aged 39, less than a year after their wedding. We're not sure how she died--it could've been severe hyperemesis gravidarum, tuberculosis, typhus, or something else. 

As for the other two sisters: both of them were within the gothic/feminine gothic sub-genre. Anne, the youngest of the Bronte children, wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which is pretty enjoyable. We do have a crazy spouse, but this time it's much more relatable crazy--and in my mind, a scarier crazy: the heroine (Helen) has an alcoholic husband. There's a strong morality streak, but it's not overbearing. In fact, I sort of think that Jane would've liked this novel. It has hints of Mansfield Park in it. 

Anne's first novel, Agnes Grey, is sort of meh. Tenant is a lot better. Anne died of tuberculosis (we think) when she was 29. 

Emily wrote poetry and one novel, the famous Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights is not for everyone, but I enjoy it for its pure escapism tendencies.  And there's some really lovely writing in it. Emily also died of tuberculosis, when she was 30. 

Have you read any of the Brontes? Which novel is your favorite? Least favorite? 



Yarn Along No. 54: A completed project!

yarn along, knitting, booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

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Ta-da! It's finished! Yay!!!!!! I'm so proud of this project and I have to say I love how it all came together. I'm definitely going to do this project again, probably for a Christmas gift, and I already have the colorway picked out. (Same yarn as this project but more winter pastel-ish.) You can follow the progress on Ravelry and see my very few notes, if you're so inclined. 

As for books, I'm re-reading An Echo In the Bone, and I finished Jo's Boys over the weekend. Since I finished My Life In Middlemarch this week, I so want to read more Eliot novels, namely Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss. But alas, I have to wait until Sunday to see if I can scope them out at a local bookstore. 

(Yes, on Sundays, you're allowed to take a day off from your Lenten penance. I will not go crazy, however. I will see if I can find one of these novels. :D )

Yarn Along No. 53: Ash Wednesday knits!

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo3 Comments

Happy (?) Ash Wednesday! Did you get your ashes today? Or are you going to? 

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I am at 60%!!! Yay!!!!! This weekend I put on season one of Outlander and just went to town, doing so many rows. I'm really in the groove right now with this guy and I'm loving all the color changes. 

Here's a slightly better view of the colors and a sense of the length--it's 30 inches right now. I'm excited because I see a beautiful blue colorway coming up and y'all know how I love blue!

The book is Jo's Boys, the last of the Little Women books. I'm also reading A Piece of the World and God or Nothing for various book clubs, as well as My Life In Middlemarch and Kim. Oh, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes. 

Whew! That's a lot of books. 

What are you reading this week? 

How to scramble eggs (Or: Food for Lent)

food, LentEmily DeArdoComment

There was a time in my life when I didn't know how to scramble eggs. It was a sad time. 

To scramble eggs, you need four things: 

* an appropriately sized frying pan

* eggs

* butter 

*a fork 

That's it. You don't need anything fancy, you don't need herbs and spices. You don't even need a knife.  (Well, you need a heat source. Oven. Fire. Hot plate. Whatever.) 

Scrambled eggs are a great go-to meal, especially during Lent, when we're supposed to be fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays (and Ash Wednesday, which is tomorrow). Scrambled eggs can be deliciously decadent (I've seen recipes that serve them with caviar) or monastically simplistic. I'm going to give you three versions here, all of them Lent appropriate: one basic, one sweet, and one savory. 

You decided what one you want for your abstinence and fasting days. Or really, any day. I love to make scrambled eggs for lunch. They're filling and delicious and super-economical. Perfect for Lent, or any time you want something filling and healthy--and simple. 


Version 1: Monastic Simplicity

  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter (or salted, if you have it. I usually use unsalted.)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Crack the eggs into a small bowl, and add a pinch of pepper and salt. Whisk together with a whisk or a fork until the yolks are beaten up. 

In a small skillet (8-9"), melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, pour in the eggs. Move the fork in a back and forth pattern through the eggs until the eggs are scrambled to your preference. Slide onto a plate and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Version 2: Savory

(Based off a Rachael Ray recipe) 

  • 2-3 eggs

  • Tabasco sauce (if you want it)

  • salt

  • pepper

  • herb and garlic cheese, such as Boursin

  • 1 tbsp. butter

Combine eggs, tabasco, salt, pepper, and a few chunks of the Boursin into a mixing bowl. Whisk with a whisk or a fork. Melt the butter in the skillet and proceed as above. 

You could also use grated cheese in this: pepper jack, cheddar, colby, etc. 

Version 3: Sweet

(Based off a Giada de Laurentiis recipe) 

  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. of sugar
  • dried mint flakes--anywhere from 1/4 tsp. to a full tsp. (Or even more, if you love mint)
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Mix eggs, sugar, mint flakes, and heavy cream as above. Proceed with preparing the pan and scrambling eggs as above. These are really good when served with strawberries. 


(And if you missed it: Here's my post on fasting and abstaining during Lent.)

An acceptable time: Lent is almost here!

LentEmily DeArdoComment

YEs, friends, it's that time again! 


Today is a Lenten extravaganza: links for you to read and ponder as Lent starts on Wednesday. Tomorrow--Lenten food. But today, reading material. 

I did a Lent series last year, and here are the parts: 


Fasting and Abstinence



Stations of the Cross



And here are some other good Lent links: 

* The Biblical basis for Fasting (and Lent, in general)


*Practical Thoughts for Lent


Do you have Lenten plans? What are they? 



Yarn Along No. 52--and a blogging update

books, writing, yarn along, knittingEmily DeArdo4 Comments

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I love the colors that I'm working in here, and the second skein is about to start--I've attached the end of the first one to it, so really, any stitch now I'll be working with new yarn. At this point, I've gotten used to the pattern and don't have to count or really even think too much about what I'm doing, other than to remember if it's row one, two, three, or four in a particular stitch pattern.  This doesn't mean that I can work on this while I'm watching TV--I have to be concentrating on this, but it's not nearly as tough as it was when I first started. 

The book I'm showing here is Voyager, Number Three in the Outlander series, which I love. This is the book that season 3 of the TV show will be based on, so I'm prepping for its September airing. Normally I re-read the series at least once a year. I'm also still reading My Life In Middlemarch which I talked about last week

(I'm generally reading 2-3 books at a time, so I pick one to show with my Yarn Along. :)  My knitting might not change much, but my books do!) 

As far as blogging updates: You've probably noticed that it's mostly yarn and books over here lately. Part of that is there's nothing I have a real BURNING desire to write about. :)  And part of that is, I think I need to ponder the overall theme and timbre of the blog in general--what sort of stuff do I want to write about, what do I need to write about, and what do you readers want me to write about? So I'm pondering all those things and hoping that y'all will send me suggestions or comments. (Wink, wink.)

I'm still working on the ebook--I have drafts of almost every chapter now, yay!--and I'm still working on getting the next book proposal written (same book, different proposal for a different agent). That's obviously taking a lot of writing energy, as well. 

So that's the writing update! 


Yarn Along No. 51

books, yarn along, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

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I'm about to start the second skein of yarn on my scarf!

So of course I had to add the new yarn ball to the photo.  I'm 36% finished with the scarf, so I would take that to mean I'll need another skein + some of the third one. The question will be what to do with the leftover third skein. I guess I could get more of this yarn and start another scarf! :-p 

Here is a better look at the color variations that were worked this week. Delicious colors!

The book is one I received from my aunt. She highly recommended it, and since I just finished Middlemarch like, two years ago, I can finally read this. I kept trying to start the book for abut 10 years, and finally just sat down and read it--and am glad I did. My advice to new readers? Stick with Dorothea. Really. Don't abandon her in her stupidity! It gets better!!!!



Seven Quick Takes No. 131: A Royal Friday!

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment


Happy Sapphire Jubilee to Queen Elizabeth II!

(Portrait of the Queen taken in 2014)

A sapphire jubilee is 65 years on the throne, which Queen Elizabeth reached on Monday, the 6th. No other British monarch has ever reigned so long!. 

The sapphires she's wearing in the portrait  were a wedding gift from her father, George VI. (We'll talk about her wedding in a bit!)

This may be my favorite current (ish) portrait of the queen. She looks regal but also like she's about to smile or laugh. 


Victoria, currently on PBS, is about Elizabeth's great-great-great grandmother. And while I love Queen Victoria, who is the second longest reigning monarch after her descendant Elizabeth, I'm not a huge fan of the series, because of the liberties that are being taken with the facts. 

I know that in these types of things, some liberties must be taken because 1) there isn't enough money to cast everyone who really existed; 2) we have limited time, and 3) there has to be a good storyline to hook viewers. I know all that, and I'm still annoyed by Victoria. 

Here are some of the bigger points that are being fudged: 


Prince Albert around the time of his marriage to Victoria. 

Prince Albert around the time of his marriage to Victoria. 

Albert was not nearly so whiny. He didn't want a title when he married Victoria; he wrote that "It would almost be a step downwards, for as a Duke of Saxony, I feel myself much higher than a Duke of York or Kent."  He did become an HRH before he was married to the queen (His Royal Highness) and in 1857 Victoria named him prince consort. He knew when he married Victoria that he wouldn't be king, and he couldn't be a peer, and that did lead to the problem of finding things to do. In a letter written in May 1840, he said," I am very happy and contented; but the difficulty in filling my place with the proper dignity is that I am only the husband, not the master in the house." (This is a problem that Philip Mountbatten would have with his queen wife, as well.) However, once Victoria became pregnant, he began to take a much larger public role. 

It is true that Lehzen and Albert didn't like each other, which culminated in a brouhaha a few years after the wedding. 

As far as Albert's allowance, it is true that Prince Leopold, the last person to marry an heiress presumptive, received £50,000 pounds. Albert received £30,000 (Not "half as much" as the series contends.) (In comparison, Prince Philip receives a whopping £395,000. Wow!) Part of the problem was that Leopold spent his allowance on mistresses after Charlotte died, so yes, Albert was probably being punished for his predecessor's profligacy. 

But anyway, the point is, Albert was not nearly as whiny as the series makes him out to be. He knew what he was getting into; he was well-prepared by Leopold and Baron Stockmar (whom I'm very sad is missing, since he was a key advisor to both Victoria and Albert.). 


Leopold painted as King of the Belgians. 

Leopold painted as King of the Belgians. 

Speaking of Leopold: Victoria and her uncle were quite close. She considered him her "best and kindest adviser", as she wrote in her journal in 1835. There was none of this coldness and stiffness that the series gives us. 


Honorable William Lamb, Second Viscount Melbourne 

Honorable William Lamb, Second Viscount Melbourne 

Also, Victoria never had romantic feelings for Lord Melbourne. Ever. Full stop. Melbourne was 63 when Victoria ascended to the throne! She did say that he was like a father to her, and the press did call her Mrs. Melbourne, but that was mostly cattiness about her closeness to her prime minister. Remember that Victoria's father died when she was a baby, and Lord Conroy, her mother's "advisor", was not someone she trusted at all. She didn't have a lot of strong male role models in her life, or people who treated her like an adult (Her mother slept with her every night and she was forbidden from walking down a staircase without holding someone's hand!), other than Leopold and Stockmar, but they weren't with Victoria all the time, obviously. 

So, essentially: fact-check while you watch. :) Or, if you're not like me and just don't care, ignore all this. :-P

So now that that's cleared up, let's talk about fun stuff: Weddings!


Victoria and Albert's wedding in the Chapel Royal of St. James Palace, February 10, 1840. 

Victoria and Albert's wedding in the Chapel Royal of St. James Palace, February 10, 1840. 

Victoria did start the fashion of white dresses for brides. Prior to that, most women married in their "best" dress, no matter what the color. Most of them didn't have the money for a totally new dress that would only be worn once, and in such an impractical color at that! But Victoria did. 

The dress was made of heavy silk satin and Honiton lace (Honiton being city in Devon, England). The dress's satin was woven in England and had an 18 foot train! She did wear a diamond necklace, and sapphire brooch that Albert had given her the night before the wedding. (Not seen here in the painting.)

(And the Chapel Royal is essential a room, not a grand church, like the series showed us.) 


When her great-great-great-granddaughter married Philip Mountbatten on November 20, 1947 (a few years before she became queen), Elizabeth's dress was made of Chinese silk and English satin . The royal couple was married in Westminster Abbey. (A grand church indeed!) 

Since wartime rationing was still in effect, Princess Elizabeth had to save clothing ration cards to buy the material for her dress. The government did grant her 200 extra coupons, probably thinking that the investment in the heiress presumptive's wedding gown was worth it. The dress had a 13 foot long train, and was embellished with crystals and pearls. 

The Princess was just as radiant on her wedding day as her august ancestor. 

Princess Elizabeth and Philip on their wedding day. 

Princess Elizabeth and Philip on their wedding day. 

Here's Queen Elizabeth in her coronation gown, which was designed by Norman Hartnell, who also designed her wedding dress. 


This dress took eight months to research, design, and make. She also wore this necklace, which Victoria also wore. 

As gorgeous as these photos are, this is a much cozier one. The portrait was taken by Annie Leibovitz to celebrate the Queen's ninetieth birthday. 

Isn't this sweet? 

From L-R: James, Viscount Severn (8 YO) and his sister, Lady Louise (12 YO--they're the youngest of the queen's eight grandchildren and are the children of Prince Edward); Mia Tindall, age two, holds the queen's handbag; Princess Charlotte, as the youngest great-grandchild (11 months, here) is on the queen's lap, with her brother George (2 YO) next to her. The other two girls are Savannah and Isla Phillips (5 and 3 YO, respectively). 

Mia is the daughter of Zara and Mark Tindall (Zara is Princess Anne's daughter), and the Phillips girls are the daughters of Peter Phillips, who is Princess Anne's son. I love Mia with the handbag! (And James is so insouciant in his eight year old way.) 

So there you have it--enter your weekend with history, jewels, and queens! :) 

Yarn Along No. 50

books, yarn along, knittingEmily DeArdo8 Comments

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This week's book is  Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve. I picked it up awhile ago but I'm just now getting around to reading it. I love her other books that I've read, so I was happy to find this one half off at a local bookstore!

The scarf is growing really well, so I thought I'd share some detail shots today: 

I love how the blue is coming back into play!

I love how the blue is coming back into play!

And here is a shot of the entire piece so far: 

Looking at this scarf like this, I just adore all these color shifts. I'm almost at the end of the first skein so this is the variation I've gotten thus far. Isn't it pretty? 

Daybook No. 125: Hi, February! (And a writing project update)

DaybookEmily DeArdo2 Comments

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Outside my window::

Currently warm (going to be 50 today) but it was cold over the weekend. It felt like 14, which meant bundling up to take out the trash. I've determined I'd rather sit in a boiling hot car than a freezing cold one. Neither is fun, but at least with the really hot one you can open windows and get some fresh air circulating. When it's cold, you have to wait for the heat to kick in, and even when it does, it can be anemic. 



Out of the Ashes, by Anthony Esolen. I've long been a fan of Esolen's writing in Magnificat, and I've been wanting to read his Divine Comedy translation, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. This is a work of non-fiction about our culture and how to rebuild it. 

He makes an interesting point, and one I like, in what I've read so far: People object to money being spent on churches, but not on stadiums, or movie theaters, or other "things" for public consumption. And I've never thought of it that way, but it's true. I've often heard that the money the Church spends on art, vestments, architecture, etc. should go "to the poor" instead of being given "to the priests". One person told me that the money was taken from the poor, like it was forcibly removed from their pockets!

I currently attend a beautiful church, built by Irish immigrants in the 1840s and 50s. The floors are maple and oak; the pews are solid maple. The stained glass is gorgeous. The stations of the cross are real stations of the cross, carved and painted with care. The church has stood for more than 150 years. And the poor built it. They gave their money and their handiwork to glorify God, and did it so well that people generations later can still gather and worship God there. The fancy vestments and the stained glass are put in churches for God. We have built a temple for Him, and doesn't he deserve our best? The poor knew that. 

Marble! Maple! Oak! And yes, a communion rail! 

Marble! Maple! Oak! And yes, a communion rail! 

Too often today our churches have plywood pews and linoleum floors and the tabernacle is shoved off somewhere else (and it doesn't even look like a place where God Dwells! It looks like a dirty box!) and the Stations are abstract things and there's no crucifix or real art to be found. We think this is "thrifty", but doesn't it just downgrade our idea of God, and our worship of God? (And isn't it a waste of money? Plywood floors will never last like the maple and oak my parish has. Within a generation, you'll need to replace them. That's not good stewardship! Quality materials, quality craftsmanship, last.) 

Look at this Eucharistic Chapel! I mean, you can tell God lives there! 

Look at this Eucharistic Chapel! I mean, you can tell God lives there! 

And, as the French Sister Colette says in In This House of Brede, "It is for Le Seigneur." It is for the Lord. 

Anyway, that's what I'm pondering and reading. :) I'm also reading Fortune's Rocks and An Everlasting Meal

Writing Updates:

So, the ebook progresses. I've edited all the pieces from the series that I published here, to make them a little more well-rounded, and now I'm beginning to write the new pieces that are also going in the book. I hope to have them done (there's about five of them) ready for March, so then I can put the whole manuscript together and begin to edit and proofread for consistency, readability, and correctness (as well as format it all properly.). The hard part will be figuring out which format to publish to. So if you use an e-reader, or own an iPad, and would like to read the book, can you tell me what format you use the most? (And if you don't have an e-reader, you can still read the book via apps. More on that later.) Thanks muchly!

And I'm working on my next query. I read a piece awhile ago that says you send out eighty queries in the quest to getting published. I don't know if that was a real number or hyperbole, but it made me feel better. 

From the kitchen::

I'm working through An Everlasting Meal's food suggestions, and thinking about ways to both stretch food dollars and also eat more vegetables, and eat more simply. I love to cook, but I don't like to cook insanely complicated things--I want things that are more accessible to everyday life, like scrambled eggs with herbed cheese, or pork chops with a simple glaze. And I'd love to be more skilled in cooking vegetables without a recipe. I mean, one shouldn't need a recipe for veggies, right? The book has been really helpful and I've post-in note marked a bunch of pages of things I want to try, starting with her ideas for chicken (cooking one and using bits of it all week), and vegetables. Of course, one can roast veggies without a recipe. Crank the over to 400 and stick 'em in for 45 minutes or so. And while that's great, other methods are probably equally as great. 

Plans for the week:

Lunch with Dad; taking mom to the doctor; and lots of writing. Oh, and knitting! 




Yarn Along No. 49

books, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

It's nice to blog about books and yarn, isn't it? Not that I'm in denial about the topsy-turvy state of the world, but things like books and yarn are safe, in a sense. And pretty. Really, pretty is a good thing. 

I'm alternating between Kim and this book, which is part of a mystery series. The scarf obviously progresses; I'm near the end of the first skein. I think it'll take at least one more to hit the 50" mark. Next week I'll show you a full length shot so you can get a better idea of how long it is! You can sort of see here, how it's draping over the edge of the tray. I also think this is almost the entire color variation pattern, too, so I have a sense of how the colors will play out. 

One of the nice things about knitting is how you make something from nothing more than a bunch of yarn and two pieces of wood. The creative act is really soothing, at least I think it is. 



Circle of Life

life issuesEmily DeArdoComment
We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.
— Benedict XVI

Friday the annual March for Life was held in Washington, D.C. 

It was also Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

And the day that President Trump signed an executive order lowering the number of refugees that can enter the United States, as well as denying entry to certain refugees for 90 days, and a host of other things pertaining to refugees around the world. 

What do these things have in common? 

They're all about life issues. 

We in the pro-life movement are often accused of only caring about people "before they're born", and that if we really cared about people, we'd make contraception more widely available, so we wouldn't "need" abortions. We'd also support social programs that help people instead of cutting them. 

There's a lot to untangle there. And I wasn't even going to write about this, because people know how I feel (I don't really sugarcoat it). But I feel like there needs to be some sort of response to all this, even if it's my inadequate one. So here we go. 

First, there is no barrier to getting birth control. I really don't know why people think this. Condoms are available at any corner drug store or grocery. There was a basket of them in the entryway of my campus health center in college, free for the taking. Birth control pills can be prescribed by any OB-GYN in the nation. Yes, you have to pay for them. Shock. I'm of the opinion that things like birth control and Viagra should not be free, especially when people have to pay thousands of dollars for drugs that keep them alive. If you want to have sex, and you don't want to get pregnant, take the proper precautions. Be responsible. If you do get pregnant, abortion is not "health care." It is not birth control. It is killing a human being. Full stop. So, in order to avoid pregnancy, either don't have sex, or be responsible. And don't tell me that you can't afford a condom. And if the guy won't wear it, then, as a self-respecting woman, you need to dump him fast, because he is not a responsible dude who cares about you and the potential consequences of actions. Don't be dumb, ladies. Please. *

We care about unborn children because they need someone to care about them. They have no voice. They can't make cool YouTube videos or get covered by CNN as they hold a rally. They only have us. And if the most fundamental right--the right to exist--is denied, then how can we say we're for peace anywhere else? Is the logical failure apparent yet? It should be. We have to start at the bottom, at the bedrock. All life is worthy of being protected. 

Supporting social programs does not mean that you support government programs. Most of the pro-life people I know (If not all of them) also support pro-life charities that help pregnant women. They're just not government-run programs. They're private charities/organizations. Some examples are: 

Sisters of Life

Mary's Shelter VA

Pregnancy Decisions Health Centers

These are just a very, very few places. But there are so many more, that exist all over the country, and are spreading. Don't say that the pro-life movement doesn't care about these children and these women. Because we do. Small government conservatives generally don't want government doing a bunch of things. We want communities to do them--and they are. 

Now, does that mean that there shouldn't be a basic floor that people don't fall beneath? Sure. But that's sort of outside the scope of this discussion, and good-hearted and good-intentioned people can disagree on how best that should occur. 

Now, if we are to be pro-life in the best sense that does mean respecting all life--realizing that all life has value. That does mean that the death penalty has extremely limited applications (as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, here). That means we don't kill people who are old, or terminally ill. It does mean that we should help refugees. The vetting process is intense.  Now, does that mean that nations should let in whoever wants to come to their country? Well, probably not. States are sovereign and they are allowed to make decisions that they feel are necessary to protect their people (and immigration laws exist for a reason. But we're talking about refugees, here, not "regular" immigration.) But the Church says in the catechism that: 

2237 Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged.
The political rights attached to citizenship can and should be granted according to the requirements of the common good. They cannot be suspended by public authorities without legitimate and proportionate reasons. Political rights are meant to be exercised for the common good of the nation and the human community.

Refugees are certainly among the disadvantaged. We shouldn't act out of fear, but out of logic, out of consideration for all sides. And this extends to administrations on both the left and the right. 

And Holocaust Remembrance Day? 

Jews tried to flee Europe in order to escape Hitler and the rise of Nazism. And the U.S. did not respond well. The book Alex's Wake tells the story of Jewish refugees who were coming to Havana, but were denied entry there and in the United States and Canada, and forced back to Europe and the Holocaust. 

Anne Frank's father tried to arrange immigration to the U.S., but was denied. And we know how that story ended.

We look back on these stories and ask, how could the government have made those decisions? Probably because of fear. How could the U.S. government incarcerate thousands of Japanese-Americans

I think we have to learn from history. And we have to support life. I can't imagine being one of the people in the airport, thinking they're going to be a place of safety, and being told that they can't leave--that they're doomed to stay in a war zone. Think about that for a second. 

We have to protect life in all its stages. We cannot allow people to become "other" because we are all children of God. No one is other

We cannot look away. We can't turn aside. 

We might disagree on policy decisions--how best to educate children, how best to provide health care to people, what the tax rate should be. But we cannot disagree on the fact that all of us are human beings, and all of us are God's. We are responsible for each other at a basic level. 

Babies. Jews. Refugees. 









* That being said, I'm Catholic, and I don't believe sex outside of marriage is moral, nor is the use of artificial birth control inside of marriage. I know not everyone feels that way. :) I'm talking from a policy perspective here, not a religious one. 



Yarn Along No. 48

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo3 Comments

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The scarf continues!

I really love the color variations here, so that makes this a fun project to work on. Instead of just doing the same pattern in a solid yarn, which would be pretty, too, there's the extra fun of seeing the colors change as I work it up. 

Kim is a Christmas gift book and I'm working through it. It's been interesting, so far, but I was sidetracked by reading all about the President's wives--I zoomed through The Residence, First Womenand Upstairs at the White House this week, all of which were great and I highly recommend them. And now, back to Kim



"It's little, and broken, but still good"

essaysEmily DeArdoComment

(If you're reading this in an email, you might have to click over to see the video clip) 

"It's little, and broken, but still good." 

This is true of so many things. 

We want life to be perfect, don't we? But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

A life that is still little and broken is still good

Because no one isn't broken. 

Jane Eyre once described herself as poor and little. But Jesus also said that that's precisely who he came for--the poor and the little and the broken. 

So don't disdain that. Don't feel like your life isn't worth it because it's not perfect.

It's still good.