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The last Sunday of November closes out the Thanksgiving holiday. Many of us will be driving home in heavy traffic, our stomachs heavy with our Thanksgiving feasts and our hearts heavy at the prospect of starting another work week. But that last gasp of a delicious four-day weekend is also th…

When I got to see the cramped "Secret Annex" in the house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family and several others managed to hide for their lives from the Nazis for two years, I was not much older than Anne was when she was subsequently killed in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp …

When I was a kid, Halloween was a low-budget holiday. Admittedly, I'm going back over 50 years ago. Our costumes, for example, weren't fancy. An old white sheet with holes for eyes made you a ghost. A sparkly crown made you a princess. A stuffed bandanna on a stick made you a hobo, and if yo…

My husband and I are representative of the 43 million Americans who took out student loans and still carry a balance on them. In addition to helping our kids, we took out a loan for my husband to complete his doctorate.

"But the Lord said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature ... God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

My husband has joined the club a friend once told me no one wants to be a member of: He has lost his father. No matter how old you are, becoming fatherless is a unique sadness. The death of a parent leaves holes in us, in our hearts and in our history and in our future. The ones who gave us …

In what passes for scandal in the current administration — I say this because the last president was twice impeached, once for blackmailing a foreign leader and once for inciting insurrection — Vice President Kamala Harris has headlined the blue-suit-scandal. This is different from President…

Sometimes I lie awake in the wee hours while my husband sleeps peacefully beside me. These hours frustrate me, because no apparent reason prompts my bouts of insomnia: no new pain, no undue stress, no extra caffeine, nothing at all different from the nights I sleep soundly.

As a public service, I'm always happy to use my life experience — my many years of life experience — to help others. Today's lesson is "How Not to Live a Life in the Sun, Especially if Your Melanin is Minimal."

Religious people sometimes resist injecting anything inherently political into their faith life, but we Americans who also identify as Christians cannot ignore the current events whose outcome is the untimely deaths of children. Specifically, I am talking about our national love affair with guns.

The fact that we can make babies is insanely magical and utterly mundane at the same time. Every species procreates in its particular way in order to sustain its existence and propel it into the future: I like that the reference to sex education as teaching about "the birds and the bees" is …

The house my husband and I bought in anticipation of retirement, and which we now live in, is entirely electric. This is a first for us. While it's pleasant not to pay an additional utility bill for propane or natural gas, there are drawbacks: Our Oregon coast education has included the real…

"Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord; / as certain as the dawn is his coming. / He will come to us like the rain, / like spring rain that waters the earth." (Hosea 6:3)

The third week of March is National Introverts Week, which you may not have heard about, because introverts don't like to talk about it. Or anything.

Pope Francis is full of gentle surprises. He is surely the most down-to-earth pope of my lifetime, from where he lives (in community with others rather than in the Vatican's papal apartments) to how he lives (as simply and humbly as possible). He embraces people from all walks of life and ge…

You may have seen them on your social media: posts that look like yellow-and-green Lego brick constructions with no words of explanation. You may know that they represent an online puzzle called Wordle. You may even be among the millions who attempt to solve each day's challenge. I know I re…

My great-aunt and great-uncle, a childless couple due to having married late in life, had two little dogs who were like their children. Once when we visited them when I was a kid, the dogs were wearing party hats and enjoying treats from wee china plates at the table because one of them had …

My husband is a devoted collector of things. He happily saves the extensive memorabilia of a life well lived. He is fond of Lego sets, cookware, kitchen appliances and gadgets of all kinds. I recently heard him tell a friend that there are 300 statues of Liberty in his prized, county-fair-wi…

It's always a joy to visit a place where the multitudes of stars at night are visibly brilliant, where their celestial light is not obscured by the artificial illumination of civilization.

The supply chain is something many of us have never thought about or even heard of before, but news about it is in our faces now. Between the COVID-19 pandemic closing down the world for over a year and chronic labor shortages in the U.S. and around the globe, American consumers are not enjo…

If you are around my age — OK, boomer! — you may remember Anita Hill from the controversial Senate hearing regarding the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Having worked with an incarcerated population in a prison library, I want to applaud the men I know who have been released back into society. My knowledge is anecdotal: I don't know a thing about double-blind studies. But I find that the men I worked with who have since paroled prove that hu…

The appointment finally made, my husband and I felt quite mature as we entered our lawyer's office to write our will. Right away, I was surprised when our lawyer said, "Well, you're writing two wills." We had talked for so long about writing a will that, in my mind, it was a singular documen…

As any person of faith can confirm, a loving relationship with God requires a healthy slice of time and effort. I admit up front that I am not great at this relationship: I do not spend enough time on God. I get busy. I get distracted. I forget. Prayer is often far down on my to-do list.

One of the more perplexing mysteries of faith is that we thank God when things go right, but we aren’t supposed to blame God when things go wrong. Why not? If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why do tragedies happen? Does God have a mean streak, or a monthly quota for heart attacks and m…

The pronoun wars have become personal: A member of my family identifies as gender-queer and has requested that we honor them by using the pronouns "they/them/their" instead of the exclusively masculine or feminine ones when referring to them.

Thanks to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic, I now own a bunch of cloth face masks. Some are homemade. Some are store-bought. Some convey messages. Some are plain. Some are adjustable. Some wash well. Some are better than others at not fogging up my glasses. I keep one mask in the car,…

The 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is one of the few biblical citations I know by heart: We Catholics are not big on memorizing chapter and verse. Matthew 25 offers the blueprint for the work of Catholic social justice, which Jesus lays out clearly in the parable of the sheep and the …

My exciting pastime for 2021 is keeping track of the vaccination status of my family members. Since we are spread over four states, it’s been interesting — and a bit maddening — to note the differing priorities and rules among the states.

President Biden has designated April 2021 as “Second Chance Month,” which is really good news for all Americans. In his proclamation, the president specifically refers to formerly incarcerated individuals, who benefit from a second chance to rejoin their community and contribute to society.

Every marriage has those moments of clarity, flashes of insight when you completely get that your decision to marry this person was either excellent or faulty. My first flash came soon after my freshly married husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Minneapolis.

March 14 is known in some circles as Pi Day, because 3.14 is the decimal amount used to solve equations involving pi. I think the fractional expression of pi is 22/7. I don’t really know what I’m talking about: I remember learning something about pi as a useful formula to solve problems in m…

You might feel it sometimes when you look up at a clear night sky, at the scads of faraway stars and the vastness of the universe: you sense your own smallness. It can happen when you lose someone you love, and you compare the short span of a human life to the millions of years of history. O…

It takes all kinds, my grandmother used to say, meaning that the world would be a dull place indeed if everyone were alike. She sometimes said it in a reproachful way, like when the young man I liked had a ponytail. (I grew up in the time of hippies.) We all-kinds are gloriously different, e…

You may have received this popular gift for Christmas, the kit that looks like a science project and promises to unearth the secrets your DNA holds. You want to learn about your true ancestry, your future genetic health risks, your unknown half-siblings? You just spit into the tube provided,…

Perhaps no new year has been as anxiously anticipated as the upcoming flip of the calendar from 2020 to 2021. Our rational minds know that there is no real substantial change from Dec. 31 of the present year to Jan. 1 of the next, but our hearts soar at the prospect of leaving 2020 far behin…

Advent begins tomorrow, the first Sunday of a new year in the church. This past year has certainly been one we want to close out. The calamitous calendar year 2020 will not actually end for another long month, but perhaps the advent of Advent can inspire us with hope for a new beginning.

Coronavirus Cases widget

  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 293,173

  • Deaths: 2,566

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 288,159

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 72.04

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 83.20

  • Source: Kern County Public Health Services Department

Updated: 11/10/22

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