Pic of the Week
Yes I came by this book for free, given to me and all parishioners by my own Catholic church, St. Jude the Apostle, for those who care. As I am to understand it, this book is being distributed free to every registered Catholic on the planet.
If true, then rightfully so.
Ok, first….the elephant in the room. Obviously this is a book that is directed to those of the Catholic faith. I'd argue, weakly perhaps, that Kelly's words apply almost as much to Christians as Catholics but there are cavests.
That heading of this post is not an exaggeration. I've read many books in my life and few have changed my life though many have affected it in many ways. Some books of my reading have changed my life, not always for the better.
THIS book was directed at me, I know it, and I don't even know Matthew Kelly so how did he know me so well with his words?
Kelly takes religious observation to a new level, applying a common sense logic to the things we do in prayer to the things we do in our ordinary lives. THAT'S the genius of Kelly's writing.
Confession, for example, yes a Catholic sacrament ridiculed by other religions from time to time, becomes very logical to those who think it strange.
Why bother, so might be the question, saying those things we do wrong to a stranger?
It cleanses our soul and we leave confession with our spirit renewed. Much like our cars after they are washed and buffed to shine, we tend to try to keep it in a pristine condition as long as we can. For a full week after my bi-weekly vacuuming I will pick up all bits of stuff that might land on the carpet that the clean plush feel of a vacuumed carpet remain with me as long as possible. Then I must vacuum again.
Kelly offers this kind of every day truth and applies it to confession and boom, Catholics who don't go to confession, indeed those who only go once a year per the minimum, are given a common sense impetus to "vacuum their souls" more often.
His definitions of current lives is, sadly true. We live either in hedonism, minimalism and individualism. In all cases, too many of us have forgotten our spiritual side, our souls that need understanding and happiness. Human beings were created in God's image. Dogs don't have souls, much as I love them. Humans need more than mere physical survival in order to be happy with the best version of themselves.
Becoming the best version of ourselves is what it is all about and Kelly gives many examples of why following the teachings of Jesus Christ will bring us the happiness we so desire in this confusing world.
Discipline, holy lives, the saints…..all things discussed in the book and made pristinely clear to this Catholic reader.
And more saints are out here in the cruel world, saints that have a mission from God, saints who need guidance and direction and who will in turn guide, direct and inspire others around them.
This is an upbeat book, the sort of read that brings smiles and understanding with each chapter.
If you're Catholic, get it. If you're Christian, get it.
You will thank me.
Drivel: What Is Love?
We were on the road that morning at 5am. The day was pretty well planned out and we didn't want to be late for anything! Harry said we could stop for breakfast around 7am . . . there is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant next to the place where he buys motorcycle stuff. "Will the motorcycle place be open?" I asked him.
"No." Too early on a Saturday morning, apparently.
"Okay, then, we can go there." Harry rolled his eyes at me and I laughed. Like Costco, he can't get out of that motorcycle place for less than several hundred dollars.
So we went to his hole-in-the-wall. A tired-looking waitress told us to sit anywhere, so I chose the corner seat at the counter. "Oh, could you move?" she asked me. I grumbled about it but started to get up. Why tell us to sit anywhere and then ask us to move? "Oh, that's okay. I'll work around it; I just use this corner as my 'office.'" And she gathered up some stuff from the corner that hadn't been in my way at all. Luckily, she was pleasant enough after that and didn't hold a grudge about me sitting in her 'office.'
We arrived in Monterey early. It's about a three-hour drive from where we started but you never know, and for our day in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I wanted a lot of time. We had a 1:00pm special event tour, and I wanted to actually *see* the aquarium first, including as many of the "shows" as possible. Since we were early we went to the hotel first.
It was, of course, too early to check in, but we were staying at the Clement, the hotel right next to the Aquarium. This was our 30th anniversary celebration and I wanted it to be grand! The Clement valets the cars, so we didn't have to pay for parking somewhere else. We did the pre-check in thing and had them valet the car and store our luggage for later.
Then we walked up Cannery Row. Most things were still closed but we could smell the sea on the brisk salt breeze and feel the freedom of having all day to do what we wanted to do. Seagulls called to each other, but cell phones were *off* and no interruptions allowed, unless we initiated them.
We stopped at Johnny Rockets for coffee and hot chocolate, just relaxing. In a bit, we sauntered back down to the Aquarium for its opening at 9:30am.
We went in the Member's Entrance, as I got a membership card with my tour package. You get a break if you're a member and if I happen to go back within the year, entrance is free. Harry had a regular ticket but they let him come in the Member Entrance with me.
Inside, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a treasure trove. Especially early, when the crowds are light, every space has something to see or do. (See for yourself: ) I dragged Harry all over, checking out the various exhibits, touching sea stars and kelp in the touching pools, interacting with the innovative "see what happens" areas. My favorite was the exhibit with a motorized camera - you control up and down and can spin the thing to focus on whatever you want. The picture above the exhibit shows you what the camera sees. Very entertaining.
I think Harry was just along for the ride. He likes this stuff, yeah, but doesn't exuberate over it like I do. We saw a lot of stuff before the 10:30 penguin feeding.
We got there a bit early and found a place to stand where the view was good. Then, just before start, the feeding announcer (I'm sure they have a different job title) had everyone step back and sit down. On the hard floor.
My old body doesn't do well on hard floors and I was quickly very uncomfortable. We only watched a small part of the feeding before we got up and left. (We weren't alone, either; some other folks did the same.)
They have a Web cam in there. If you simply must see the penguins be fed, check this out around 10:30am PST: . (If it's after hours, you'll see a pre-recorded penguin flick.)
From there we wandered over to the Open Sea exhibit, which was due for feeding at 11:00. The place was already very full; we went up to the upper viewing area and stood behind the benches. Even though it was about fifteen minutes to feeding time, all seats were occupied. Busy!
The Open Sea exhibit is very impressive. It's a huge tank (a million gallons?) with a 90-foot viewing window. No kelp forest, no rocky edges. This is meant to show what the open ocean looks like. The water is dim, so you don't always know what's swimming toward you until it's close, which is how I think the ocean would be.
To me, the school of tuna were the stars, but the sardines were pretty darn amazing, too. This one also has a Web cam:
(Again, if after hours, you get to see a pre-recorded cam tape.)
After the Open Sea was fed, we visited the in-Aquarium cafe and had lunch. Then, more exhibits. Seahorses and jellyfish abound, some of them extraordinarily beautiful or intriguing. Both are hard to keep in home aquaria, but the Aquarium is successfully raising both, in many species.
At 1:00 we presented ourselves at the Tour desk for our Romance Tour. A guide would show us around the Aquarium, even going behind-the-scenes to see things most of the public doesn't get to view. "Susan" introduced herself and offered to put my purse and our coats where they'd be safe while we walked the Aquarium. She asked if we had anything particular we wanted to see, but since we didn't she took us on what she called a highlights tour.
The Aquarium has a *lot* of volunteers, over a thousand. About 400 people are paid staff, and the rest do it for the love of conservation, education, and the ocean. Susan began as a volunteer but has joined the paid staff and still loves it. You can tell by her passion behind everything she showed us. We stood with her by the Open Sea, and then went behind-the-scenes, just the three of us. We saw baby jellyfish in big circular tanks; where food for all the denizens is prepared, and what the diets consist of; the resident albatross who gave Harry the once-over with one sparkling black eye; we met a volunteer diver; we stood atop one exhibit with sharks where we could see to the bottom and a short hop would have put us in there with them. And through it all, Susan's commentary reflected her excitement and love of her job, her surroundings, and the ocean's life.
When our tour ended, she took us to the Tower Room, where "Jorge" stood guard. Our stuff was there, and also a beautiful bouquet of flowers. A plate with dainties and two forks awaited us, along with a bottle of champagne. A keepsake Aquarium map with "Hakala 30th Anniversary" printed on it lay on the small table. Jorge opened the champagne for us and then left us to our Monterey Bay view.
The day was cloudy so gray predominated, but the view from that room atop the Aquarium is still pretty spectacular. Close in below us we could see the kelp beds, where people in kayaks sat.
Yes, sat. We puzzled over that for a bit. People - about five in three kayaks during our time watching - would paddle out to the kelp and just . . . sit. Then, behind one of them, we saw what they were waiting for. Sea otters! Living, swimming, playing, in the Monterey Bay kelp beds. The woman with her back to them couldn't see the seven otters who cavorted not far away. We wanted to shout down to her, make
her turn around. Eventually, she gave up and paddled back to shore, never seeing the otters playing.
We enjoyed the view, our champagne, fresh strawberries and chocolate candies up in the Tower Room for about an hour. After that, we got our hands stamped in case we wanted to come back, and walked over to the hotel.
Our room was ready and we had some time before the next event, a Twilight Couples massage at 6:30 at the hotel spa. In the meantime we checked into our room (our luggage was brought up for us) and relaxed. The room had a partial Bay view, but I found the downward view more interesting. There was a patio-type area attached to the hotel, with a big fire pit.
In our room a fireplace graced one wall. Gas logs flared up on command, a glass front kept curious fingers out of the fire, and the warmth could be felt if you stood in front. The fire went out on its own after about 20 minutes.
The room was spacious and comfortable, and the bathroom had both a shower and a tub.
We went over to the spa for our massages and promptly got lost. While the spa door (across the Row from the hotel) is clearly marked, finding the spa reception desk is not easy. We did find it, though, and enjoyed some hot tea and warmed lavender neck pillows before our massage.
The Twilight Couples massage is an interesting experience. We shared the room but had our own massage therapists. The pace of the massages differed a bit, but the style was the same. The 50 minute massage was a good choice, but I prefer the person I go to here in town.
After massage we went looking for dinner. A recommendation by a spa employee sent us to The Sardine Factory. Not an elegant name, but the restaurant is pretty cool. A long set of steps surrounded by beautiful foliage lead you to the front door. Once in, music from a piano sways you to your seat. The food is a bit fancier than I like but it was good and there was enough of it.
The best part, though, was the piano. A real man played it! Harry put a twenty in the tip jar and requested about six songs over the course of dinner. It was a bit like a negotiation most of the time, though. Harry would ask for "Stranger In My House" and the piano man would counter with "Lost in the Fifties Tonight." Harry wanted "Maggie Mae" and got some other Rod Stewart song I didn't know. When we asked for "Blue Velvet," though, we got it, and it was like hitting the jackpot. The singer did a good job with all the songs he did and the music and interaction complemented the meal perfectly.
Afterward, back to the hotel in a short walk down the Row, nightlife happening in every shop and the area lit up like a festival. Music and laughter rolled down the Row with us.
Back in the room, I lit the fireplace to see the glow shimmering in our room. If you want to know what went on after the lights were out, tough. Not going there. :-)
The next morning we were up and out fairly early (though not at 2:00am like we were for the Disneyland trip). After we got home, we split up. I went to pick up the dog from my mom's house and Harry took his motorcycle out on a two-day ride. (After a necessary rearrangement ofvehicles.)
So . . . What Is Love?
* A husband who books a bunch of days off in July, one of his busiest months.
* A romantic getaway, just the two of us.
* A wife who says "go ride!" when there's time off left over.
* Knowing that, together or apart, we are one.
The Desk Drawer writer's exercise
Ending With a Smile