How’d they find me?

WordPress has a nice statistic page to tell you how many people visit your blog and how they get here.  It’s pretty entertaining to see the things people google and somehow find you.  Some of them just left me scratching my head. Not that they were strange things to google, but why did they lead to my blog? Things like:

  • how to muffle sound of water dripping in bucket   
  • can you paint a bathtub
  • birthday reply convey my regard to elders and love to youngers

Okay, so that last one did leave me wondering.

There seems to be a high demand for Stig-related desserts.  I hope I was able to help.

  • stig helmet car
  • how much for a stig cake
  • how to make a stig cake
  • the stig birthday cakes
  • the stig cake pictures
  • the stig cake ideas
  • stig helmet cake

There were no super crazy ones this time around, but some of them did make me laugh.  Here are some of my favorites:

why being chaste isn’t crazy  Preach it, sista.

how to make an ordinary ice cream?   Is there such a thing? Ice cream is divine.

ganswein driving   Where is he going?
“georg gänswein” fotos     Glad I could help!
“father beautiful” Georg      He is, isn’t he?

I have spinster carved on my bones    Oh dear. I hope I don’t.

i wonder whether carpisa real leather   I heart carpisa.

this type of art was a conglomeration of seemingly random objects, connecting art with ordinary life?     I’m glad that’s a question. Because I’m properly confused.

why cant you drink acidic drinks with chocovine with     Yes, why can’t you with

where is father john paul have not seenhim at ewtn for awhile   Apparently he’s hiding from you.

losing ordinary restaurants    Why did you lose them?

pinewood social giftcard   If they double-book your bowling alley, they’ll give you one. Try it.

duck donuts    A total of 5 people found my blog this way.  Which means five people are fat and happy right now.

joan in ordinary time brunch nashville   This made me happy. 

papal groupies   Why yes I am.

who can afford.a apparel   I don’t know, but he can ask me out on a date sometime, whomever he is.

san damiano mass times  This showed up in multiple different ways. Maybe I should post them to help out.

anna maria taigi incorrupt   This will make my dad smile.

hallmark movies involving restaurants   I do love Hallmark movies.  And restaurants.


And my personal favorite….

animatronic baby jesus  





A Glorious Shot in the Arm

What a weekend.

I just was privileged to experience the annual Glory Conference, a gathering of college students and young adults here in Nashville, TN to study and celebrate the good, the true, and the beautiful.

I blogged about it briefly here, and you can find a link to my talk there, too.

Some sights of the weekend:


The calm before my talk.
It was the perfect location for a conference about beauty — a restored historical building and a beautiful 19th century church

IMG_8218 yay for new friends!


A super-duper evangelization rosary walk after lunchBrother John led a “super-duper evangelization rosary walk” after lunch on Saturday.
He said it was the second annual one, which made us laugh — I love how little traditions start like that.

IMG_8245A great thing about the conference was the room the schedule allowed for friendship and fraternity.   My friend Mike and I got breakfast Sunday morning and were able to catch up and talk about life.

Chris Cole teaching us origami.  Or parabolas.  Or something.  He had us in stitches during his whole talk.  Another great thing about the conference– the variety of the talks and personalities.



At the end of the closing Mass today (all the liturgies were simply breath-taking… another high point of the conference), we took Jesus into the streets of Germantown in a Eucharistic Procession.  See those manly men carrying the canopy?  Yet another beautiful thing about the conference — the masculine witness.  Most of the conference was executed by guys, and I think it was apparent in beautiful ways.


The first of the triple Benedictions during the procession. The people in the neighborhood weren’t quite sure what was happening…. a hundred smiling young adults walking behind priest and sisters, singing and praying?  What?

I’m hooked.  When’s the next conference?  I’m ready for all those kids to come back to Nashville!



More random fun (on a quiet weekend)

Last weekend I tried to be good — I had a talk to write, and I decided I would say no to all social engagements until the talk was written.  Well… I still managed a few random fun moments, since that’s what I specialize in around here.

Thursday night (so not quite the weekend yet) my friend Jackie and I went to the rodeo.


Thanks to my friends Steve and Barbara, who took me to my first rodeo last year (did I really not blog about that!?), I could say, “Hey, this ain’t my first rodeo.”

I have to pick out my favorite cowboy to root for, and this night it was Mr. Green Chaps.  It turns out Mr Green Chaps is 8th in the country for bull riding.

This is not Mr Green Chaps, but entertaining nonetheless:

The other social event of the weekend was a festival in Germantown, where I went with some friends to grab dinner before Catholic Underground Saturday evening.  This guy made an appearance:

IMG_8147So… a quiet weekend for me = A rodeo and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

The week included dinner with the Bishop from Laredo, TX, who was in town and called me up for a visit, and happily that turned into dinner with two priests, three deacons, and three seminarians from our beautiful diocese.  Then Wednesday night was a iconic Nashville experience that included seeing David Wilcox at Music City Roots and dinner at the Loveless Cafe.

I love this town.

This weekend is the Glory Conference – so say a prayer for all those who have traveled to this amazing city to delve into truth, beauty, and goodness.



Is there another way?

To continue with yesterday’s post, I wanted to tell you about a beautiful documentary that begins a much-needed dialogue in the Church and the world about the Catholic Church and homosexuality.  Yesterday I mentioned that I agree with the statement that tolerance isn’t always a two-way street.  That doesn‘t mean I disagree with William Rhoden, who had said in the exchange,  “This cannot turn into a Gestapo-type situation where if you express discomfort with something, then you’re cast as a homophobe and you’re fined by the league. I think that there has to be a back-and-forth.”

That’s true.  We have to be able to dialogue without being labeled and condemned.  But we also have to be able to say that something is right and something is wrong.  The world tries to draw this heavy line —  if you love a homosexual, you have to accept everything that they say and do.  If you don’t accept everything they say or do, then you can’t love them.  With such a heavy, dark line, the Church then is painted as a homophobic institution that says all homosexuals are going to hell.

There is really a third way, and that is the real way of the Church, which says we can love a human person without condoning everything they say or do.  I hope that you can love me and yet still tell me that when I gossip, lose my temper, or ignore the suffering of my neighbor, I’m wrong and should strive to live differently tomorrow.

If you love me, you will want what is best for me, you will want me to live in the freedom of Jesus Christ.  True love does not tolerate suffering … it redeems it.

Do me a favor and set aside 38 minutes and 14 seconds to watch The Third Way, and then set aside more time to think about it.  You won’t regret it.


When relativists reject relativism

I was reading an interesting little article about a MSNBC contributor, Jonathan Capehart, who claimed tolerance is not a “two-way” street.  When one of the commentators said that we need to dialogue and not turn everything into a “Gestapo-type situation where if you express discomfort with something, then you’re cast as a homophobe and you’re fined by the league,” Capehart disagreed:
“[T]olerance, no, is not – it should not be a two-way street. It’s a one-way street. You cannot say to someone that who you are is wrong, an abomination, is horrible, get a room, and all of those other things that people said about Michael Sam, and not be forced — not forced, but not be made to understand that what you’re saying and what you’re doing is wrong.”

The article I was reading pointed out the hypocrisy of the liberals who claim that we need to be tolerant of alternative lifestyles but they won’t be tolerant of our beliefs. (Read more here.)

It’s an interesting discussion, because I agree with Capehart in that tolerance isn’t always a two-way street.  The fundamental problem with society elevating “tolerance” to the level of virtue is that it begins to become uncomfortable with the gamut of things about which we have to be tolerant.

Tolerance isn’t always a two-way street.  Take Harvard, for example. Were they right in claiming they needed to “tolerate” a ritual that was blasphemous?  Of course not.  Tolerance is not a virtue — we aren’t supposed to tolerate everything.  Law is based on the fact that we don’t tolerate everything. We don’t tolerate murder, tax evasion, or public indecency.  If you claim to tolerate everything, you have anarchy.

The interesting part of Capehart’s argument is that he is basically declaring is that there is objective truth.  (He says the person “has to be made to see that the way they think and feel is wrong.”)  He is claiming that there is a truth that is applicable to everyone, knowable to everyone.  X is right and Y is wrong.

He claims his belief is that objective truth.  Gone is the “whatever you believe is okay, just don’t impose it on me” because he’s clearly imposing his truth on me.  Now, I don’t have a fundamental problem with truth being imposed on me, because I believe there is an objective truth (like “killing is wrong’) that is imposed on me everyday.  That’s how society works.  That’s how anyone’s quest for truth works.

But why is his belief the truth and not mine?  Therein lies the issue.  Why can he tell someone that “the way they think and feel is wrong”?  They obviously think they’re right. So where do we find what is really truth and will thus contribute to a flourishing of society?

It can’t be “whatever makes you happy,” because we can both use that standard and come out with different results.  It drives me crazy when people use that line. “Well, at least she’s happy.”  Oh, yes, and that’s all that matters.  Why don’t we say that about people we disagree with?  So-and-so cheated on his wife.  “oh, well, at least he’s happy!”

So it can’t be our feeling of happiness that makes something right or wrong. If that was the case, the cheating husband would be in the right when he cheated on his wife.

So what’s the answer, Mr. Capehart?  Why must I tolerate someone’s lifestyle?  Because it makes them happy?  Or because it’s objectively good?  Can we even continue this conversation to find out what is objectively good, true, and beautiful?  I have a feeling we’d be at another impasse… because I’m not tolerating his relativism. But neither is he.

here’s to the fun stuff

When it comes to personal blogs, it seems that there are two types of blog posts.

A) The ones when people’s lives look incredible

B) The ones when you feel sorry for them.

Example A:  The SAHM posts a recipe for the incredible dinner she made last night that just happened to be gluten-free, nut-free, and organic, alongside pictures of her adorable children wearing clothes she made by hand while homeschooling them, with a Downton Abbey reference thrown in and a final picture of the flowers her gorgeous husband bought her “just because.”

Example B: The SAHM writes about the fact that she hasn’t slept in five weeks and has gained eight pounds just by looking at a Snickers bar and has to take a break from this blog post because her youngest child just pooped on the floor and where did Johnny go? but hopes to finish the eightieth load of laundry before lunch because she knows the child she just finished potty-training will probably wet the bed during her nap and why is the fire alarm going off? but maybe tomorrow she will get to take a shower if …

As a single gal, I fully recognize that I too can write either of those posts.  I can either tell you about my fun social life or I can bemoan my singleness, the state of the world today, or the various chores, errands, and to-do list tasks that haven’t gotten finished because I work all day and come home to other things that need priority- and therefore am probably just eating cheese for dinner because that’s what in my refrigerator.

Let’s go with the first, shall we?

The Derby party that almost wasn’t

The Saturday of the Derby, I went to a lovely baby shower for my friend Lori and then headed back to town for the first Musician’s Corner of the summer.  Musicians’ Corner is a fun free concert series in the shadow of the Parthenon.  A group of us met up there in the afternoon and enjoyed the beautiful (very warm) spring day.  It was a really fun, low-key afternoon with people coming and going, eating at food trucks, sweating, and listening to good music.   Holly Williams was one of the artists — she turned my head when she announced, “My granddaddy wrote this song…” and then launched into a Hank Williams song.  One of my friends wryly commented, “I think she’s going to make it in the business.”


Jars of Clay

We were planning on heading back to my friend Manda’s house to watch the Derby — we had the makings for mint juleps, Kentucky browns, and two Derby pies waiting for us. The last band to play was Jars of Clay, and we were enjoying their concert and I was losing track of time when I saw Manda packing up at the corner of my eye.  I glanced at my watch.  5:20.  Holy cow, we were going to miss the Derby.

We went into action, throwing all our stuff into bags and scattering our different ways towards our cars.  My friend Matt called back, “Do you need anything!?” as he headed to his car.  “Ice!” Manda called back, and we ran for mine.

I laughed the whole way to her house.  We were throwing a Derby party and we were going to miss the Derby.  Who does that!?

We ran into her house, I turned on the TV, we all put our hats on, KY Browns went into the oven, Matt arrived with the ice, and the Derby began.  A few people did end up missing it, but they arrived in time for mint juleps, so it was all okay.


We just threw this together.


Birds and Brandy

That next Monday, Manda and I headed south of Nashville to hit up Hobby Lobby for our Steeplechase crafting.  She needed a ribbon for her big hat and I needed some props to build my fascinator.

I love Hobby Lobby.  It’s a good thing there isn’t one near my house.


I was persuaded not to get this for my head.  Maybe next year.
(I hope you all are thinking what I’m thinking right now)

After shopping, we treated ourselves to a fantastic dinner at Gray’s on Main, the former-pharmacy turned brandy bar in downtown Franklin.  Their menu is delightfully southern, while their cocktail menu honors the drink culture of the late 19th century, when the building was constructed.


fried green tomatoes with roasted creamy corn and goat cheese,
fried pimento cheese with moonshine pepper jelly, shrimp and grits on collards, and bacon-wrapped figs with goat cheese and a balsamic reduction

The cocktail menu features brandy, the drink of the late 19th century, and so we let our waiter choose the drink he thought we would like.  After hearing what we usually drank, he advised us to try the White Mule, a play on the Moscow Mule. I loved it.  I would drive to Franklin for it.  It featured Delord Blanche Armagnac, a cognac that is sold nowhere else in the United States.  Looks like I am going to have to drive to Franklin for it.


complete with a copper mug.


It’s all in the family

I hope I don’t sound like an alcoholic, but one of the other highlights of last week was a random Thursday afternoon bourbon tasting at one of the wine stores near my house. My friend Liza had seen on Twitter that Belle Meade Bourbon was doing a free tasting and featuring mint juleps. I convinced Manda to meet me there.  We were going to pick up some things for Steeplechase, taste the Belle Meade Bourbon, and go on our merry way.  I didn’t expect that the person giving the tastes would actually be one of the owners of the distillery, nor did I expect his story to be so fascinating.  You can read more here, but basically two brothers discovered that their great-great-great grandfather had owned one of the three most notable distilleries in Tennessee (the other two being George Dickel and Jack Daniels, and he was far out-selling Jack Daniels).  The distillery closed during Prohibition and had become family lore. The brothers decided to reopen the distillery a few years ago, a hundred years after it had closed.

I loved hearing his story and was fascinated by the history and the details of distilling.  Kind of a random Thursday afternoon, but I’ll take it.



Am I in Italy?

My friend Mario turned the big 3-0 on Friday, so we all went out to DeSano’s, a local pizza place, to celebrate.  Father had told me that it was the closest I would come to Italian pizza, but I’m a bit of a snob and a skeptic, so I had to taste it to believe it.


It was pretty darn delicious.  The atmosphere was amazing — big communal tables, lots of noise and laughter, and a full view of the pizza-making process, complete with dough-tossing and audience participation.  Father announced that it was Catholic, and it was true.

Mario even got to catch some dough… while wearing a birthday cake hat made of balloons.  (the perks of having a balloon artist as a friend.)IMG_0013


The Social Event of the Spring

Last but certainly not least… the social event of the spring… Steeplechase.  You can read all about the event in last year’s post, when I became enamored with how easy, fun, and classy the event was – for only $15.  Of course, you also have to factor in the expense of your picnic and your fascinator.  But who needs to buy a $80 fascinator from Macy’s when you can make your own!?

My friend Megan got a series of awesome texts like this a few nights before….


but with her help and Manda’s shopping guidance, I managed to pull of a fascinator that didn’t not cost $80, did not feature a bird, and still made a statement.

The finished product:


It even held up in the wind.  Well, most of it.  I had a bit of a casualty with the big feather in the back, but that just means it’ll be easier to change up and update for next year’s race!

Oh, Steeplechase, how I love you.  I love your bow ties and your seersucker and your picnics and your horses.  I love the thrill of the race and the laziness of the afternoon.

The rain even held off, which seems to be a theme when it comes to the second Saturday in May.


I have the most beautiful friends.


A dulcedomum – joaninordinarytime mashup

IMG_7763I had been looking forward to Jill’s visit to Nashville for a long time — before we were even sure it was happening.  As she mentions on her blog, she and John Paul came to town to meet Christopher da Vinck.  Chris is the author of  The Power of the Powerless, a moving testimony to the difference the weakest among us can make in this world.  (You should read the book.  You should also read the article that started it all – here. He read it during his talk, and it was awesome to hear him read it out loud.) As soon as I heard he was coming to speak at Aquinas, I knew Jill needed to come and meet him.  It’s a miracle that it all worked out, and I truly saw her visit as a gift from God.

As I drove to the airport to pick her up, my heart was so full.  I don’t know how else to describe it — I thought my heart was going to burst with love and excitement.  Her visit was going to be short, but I was going to have her (and John Paul) all to myself. I was going to have the chance to show her my life.  And I was very, very happy.  And grateful.

We went straight to Jack’s to get BBQ for lunch, then it was back to my condo to just sit back and relax (for the first and last time).  She had never seen my condo, so even something as simple as that gave me great joy.

That night was the lecture, and beforehand we were able to go to a reception for Dr. da Vinck so that Jill would have a chance to meet him and talk to him.  As she mentioned on her blog, John Paul might have gotten more attention than Dr. da Vinck… but I don’t think he minded. : )

IMG_7736John Paul is very camera-aware.

Everyone was so excited to meet Jill and John Paul – it was quite humbling.  All my friends and coworkers had been praying for them for the last year, and they all commented that they felt like they already knew Jill.  And John Paul was a rock star– the whole trip he took it all in stride, always smiling, always flirting.  He let people hold him, he showed off his cracker-eating skills, and he just generally charmed everyone he met.

IMG_7745We may have been a bit disruptive during Dr. da Vinck’s talk.  John Paul knows how to make his Aunt Joannie laugh.

IMG_7742We had to take a lobby selfie.  I have a big mirror that greets me as I wait for the elevator every morning, and it’s occasionally too tempting to take a selfie of my outfit for the day. I try not to do it very often (because no one really cares what I’m wearing), but my Instagram followers suggested hashtags like #lobbyselfie and #waitingfortheelevator, so now it’s kind of a thing.

Wednesday was spent having fun — an exhausting and fun mix of seeing Nashville and taking John Paul to meet his fans.  Jill commented at one point that she felt like they were on a book tour.  It’s an adequate description — they were two celebrities who were in Nashville for a short time, so they needed to see the sights and meet their fans.

It was a beautiful day, so we set out for downtown to eat a big southern breakfast at The Southern, then headed to the Johnny Cash Museum gift shop.  Then we made a loop down Broadway and over to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, playing tourist.

Our first engagement of the day was my friend Cathy’s classroom at St. Ann School, where her fourth graders were anxiously waiting to meet the little boy they had been praying for.  Then it was over to Aquinas for Mass and Bible study, then off to a late lunch at Bobbie’s Dairy Dip.

IMG_7776The day was only half over!  I thought they deserved a relaxing afternoon, so we went over to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens to enjoy the dogwoods and tulips in their peak.  The bizarre cold snap the night before had hurt some of the flowers, but there were still plenty to enjoy.  Some of the parts of the gardens and the mansion were less than stroller-friendly, but we still managed to see a lot and delight in the beautiful day.


IMG_7788Our next stop was the Cathedral, where the Chrism Mass was going to be starting in about an hour.  You might remember that I had the joy of teaching the men in formation for the permanent diaconate during the fall of 2012.  Since we had found out about John Paul during that time, I had asked the men and their wives for their prayers.  One of them in particular, my good friend Rafael, has been a prayer warrior for John Paul and Patrick and Jill ever since.  The deacon-candidates still pray for John Paul at every class, and I was continually humbled by their love for someone they had never met.

Rafael was waiting for us outside the Cathedral, and it was like he and John Paul were old friends.  John Paul let him take him into his arms, and Rafael proceeded to take John Paul right into the Cathedral to meet all his deacon-candidate fans.  We made a bit of a spectacle in the middle aisle of the full church, but it was such a beautiful moment.

Over and over again during this trip, it became clear that John Paul has touched many, many lives…. just by being John Paul.  The heroism of ordinary life, the power of prayer, the witness of the weakest … these lessons have ceased being theological postulates or groundless maxims and have become quite real and evident.

The last stop was, quite fittingly, our sister’s home, the Dominican Motherhouse, where we enjoyed a visit with three of Sisters who have been like family over the past 15 years.  Then it was home for dinner and a lovely visit with my cousin and his wife!

I hope I didn’t wear Jill and John Paul out, but it was such a rare gift to have them here and I wanted to squeeze out every joy!  I think one of the best compliments Jill could have given the visit was when she said she felt like she was living in my blog.  I think that’s a good thing. : )  (It was right after seeing Vince Gill eating dinner and a woman horribly mispronouncing my name.  Welcome to my life!)

Next time the whole family is coming!  (right, Jill?)  And not during Lent.  There are too many ice cream places to hit up…