March, dun-dun-dun-D’oh… page 224

Day 353 – 03/03/2021

It was Saturday a minute ago, and not only is it somehow Wednesday, but we’re into a whole new month! Just when you think there’s nothing going on, so you fall out for a nap…

Sunshine RULES and we’re scheduled for a lunch meeting in Cielito’s courtyard today. I’m pretty excited about wearing real clothes, sitting (distanced) among #lfk peeps, and eating hot food straight out of a restaurant kitchen. It’ll be worth writing home about.

Tomorrow will be a landmark, with our second shots happening. I felt every day of the year it took to get here, no embellishment needed – I’m ready for the freedom of spirit the vaccine will eventually provide. And I hope someday there’s a test that will tell me what’s been going on inside my system all year… but this is my theory:

We voluntarily sheltered on March 12th of 2020, and sometime within that first week I got sick with body pain, chills, sweats, nausea, and a cough that wouldn’t quit. After three weeks, most of the symptoms fell off, but the cough has persisted all year. When I got sick again the day after Christmas, all the symptoms came back gangbusters, and I lost my sense of taste and smell that time around, both thankfully back now. My first coronavirus vaccine made me ill for three days with symptoms identical to the previous two cycles, which makes me think I had antibodies standing at the ready to fight the invaders because I brought the ugly-ass thing in here with me when we locked down.

The week before we came inside, there was an incident at the indoor pool involving both the water and the dressing room, which had been “taken care of” before I went there the next day. Coronavirus was already in town so my ESPN tells me I picked it up somewhere inside the facility and brought it home with me, because I’d been almost nowhere else – we were already being careful.

I have questions:

  • If the virus (or SOME virus) has been living in my body for a year, WTF has kept Kim immune to it, with his asthma?!
  • Testing wasn’t really a thing here yet when I needed one the first time, and the test I got after Christmas came back negative versus Rita’s positive, yet we had all the same symptoms, down to the oddest details. I didn’t cry or even think about it when the tech swozzled my nose and I’m pretty sure she didn’t get to the goods, so will the past twelve months remain a mystery?
  • If the clear thick stuff that comes up (sorry, Diary) is out of my lungs, what are the future implications? Am I coming to the end of something or the beginning?
  • So okay, something’s not right, will there be a way to right it? Will there be a way to even know definitively what this is? If it isn’t COVID then I should probably see what else they got, ’cause this doesn’t seem inclined to let go. It’s cunning… hits hard for two or three days and then hides again. Taunts me… “Feeling great, huh? Gonna do all sorts of stuff, huh? We’ll see… “

I was more than ready to shelter last year because I GET EVERYTHING, I really didn’t want this one, and I was terrified of Kim getting it. Irony is everything… he zips in and out of places all year and breathes free, while I play church mouse through the whole thing and get the ‘rona or its evil twin anyway. But a thought occurs… since I do tend to attract gremlins, staying out of the social bloodstream has been the best thing I could have done for everybody, me included, for every reason. I instinctively knew it at the outset, but didn’t know all the reasons, not by far, and I’ll never regret taking the guidelines seriously – what if I’d been out there freely shedding virus amongst those I know and love, for months on end? What if? Even masked, I would have been a menace because the coughing does not stop. In hindsight, I’m likely the one who gave it to Rita – she’s almost the only person except for Kim that I’ve had extended closer-than-six-feet unmasked contact with in the last twelve months. And you, Kev – stay well, dude. Wow, small circle!

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Socked in… page 223

Day 349 – 02/27/2021

Saturday breakfast underway, with fog peering in our windows… Kim Smith – 02/27/2021

Picture Guy got out early this morning and walked for an hour, taking fog photos…

South Park
More South Park… in Stephen King mode
Kaw River bridge
The view from the cheap seats
Old power station
We’ll leave a light on for ya’.
8th & New Hampshire… home sweet home
Home Sweet Home for real… ready for the weekend.

If it gets into the 60s this afternoon and the sun comes through for us, Rita & I will probably walk again – these windows of opportunity are too good to miss right now.

We got a call from the pharmacy, scheduling our second shots, so things are moving right along. We’re on for March 4th, which has been widely touted as a possible date for mayhem on the part of Q if President Biden were to give his State of the Union that night. Most of Congress, the Supreme Court, and of course the President and Vice-President, will be inside the Capitol whenever the address does take place, so it’s a prime target. March 4th is also the date the former guy is supposed to magically burst onto the scene as SuperPresident and something, something, all will be well once again for the proud boys and girls and their various cohorts. So! Vaccination day could be FIRE! I’ll just be happy if I don’t get ghastly ill again, but it is what it is… I’m gonna go through some things, but I knew what I signed up for. 😎 😷 🎤

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Monday, but not blue… page 219

Day 344 – 02/22/2021

It was a good weekend. Rita came over and watched the Jayhawks beat Texas Tech with us, and Kim made tamales, street tacos, beans & rice and all the other stuff for lunch – fun, happy afternoon. Sunday was the two of us all day, with the TV on low and ambitions the same. Which brings us to Monday, full of sunshine, and the week ahead is looking like this:

Almost 70º tomorrow, OMG!!

Sunlight changes everything, as Pluto, in its distance, is acutely aware – the sun’s warmth makes everything doable. Not wishing time away, but when spring arrives I’ll feel like I’ve been sprung from the slammer. We get our second shots on the 4th, and two weeks after that we shouldn’t be a threat to man nor beast so a semblance of “out & about” might start happening. Kim’s been out a lot during the pandemic, but not about – just all the shopping, and playing PickleBall under strict guidelines – so things will get better for both of us.

Over the past year, though, I’ve finally settled into the happy loneliness that’s always been who I am, and it’s good.

And the simple truth is…

It’s not that I so value my own company, but I feel better when I’m not inflicting myself on unsuspecting humans.

Haven’t seen much of the ‘rona since the last flare, but my relationship with food is still iffy. I’ll be feeling right as rain, sit down to a meal I love, and my stomach turns on me… but less often every day, and that’s good news because food’s one of the second-best things about life.

Kim has a full day outside the walls and I’ve ticked several things off my list this morning – I’m letting the sunshine soak into my soul, and maybe tomorrow my bones.

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Friday, new day… page 218

Day 341 – 02/19/2021

Sunlight’s pouring through the blinds this morning, we’re supposed to break 32º this afternoon, and I feel like I’m emerging from a coma. In three weeks, with a few brief exceptions, I will have been staying inside these walls for a year. The silence, the gradual loosening of connections to the world, the can’t-give-a-shit, and the brain fog of COVID wove a web around me and extracted a price. But my head is crystal clear today for the first time in months and all I want to do is EVERYTHING. There are loose ends hanging all over the place – stuff to do so I can keep moving and get life underway again, in here first so I’ll be ready for “out there” by Christmas. It’s a goal that suddenly seems within reach – “Oh, you’re AWAKE, let’s do something!”

The day promises other sunshine goodies. I found a little stack of mail on the verge of expiring and opened all of it in time for deadlines, whew. I’ve had affirming text chats with two online friends that will keep me on the sunny side all morning, and I got all girly again, with real clothes, just because it felt like time, and because a real other human may step inside our house and spend some time with us. It’s just past 10am and the possibilities are breathtaking.

Tomorrow’s a story with sweet possibilities of its own, but right now today’s a really good day to BE.

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Stupor Day… page 211

Day 329 – 02/07/2021

I slept so totally out last night that even after Kim asked me if I was ready for the Super Bowl this morning, I forgot it was Sunday and started getting regular ol’ breakfast bits together. Oops, that would have been a minor tragedy… and the incredible, edible, Sunday omelet works ten times as well when you feel good.

So… with a spa soak, a trip upstairs to the gym, the usual distractions, and whatever’s on TV until 5:00, it’s looking properly stuporous, because also food. More. Latah. I think we’re doing this right. And we care who wins this one. 💋

Pint-size Andy Reid up there is Lil’ Red — aka 8-month-old Joey Greco — and I’m keeping him onboard for the day. Too huggable.

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Oh, hey, Saturday!… page 210

Day 328 – 02/06/2021

Wot a day, Ethel. After eight hours’ sleep Thursday night and seven during the day yesterday, I went BACK to bed just after dark last night and stayed ’til morning. Got up at 6am feeling in the clear… then reality settled in and I crawled under the covers for another hour. As of now, my bones say they’re not going anywhere near that bed again until sometime tonight, so I have to get my zhuzh together.

In here by the fire is the onliest place I want to be today, and my thoughts are with all who have to be outside in single-digit and low-20s temps. Painful. Mark showed me a graph of Chicago’s daily temps for next week and I saw mostly 7s and 8s… yikes.

Gonna be a reeeeeeal… sloooooow… Saaaaturdaaay….

Jayhawks are playing B’ball in West Virginia today, that’s all I know… although I have seen references to a big doin’s down in Tampa tomorrow. We have the koozies so we might tune in.

But first, our boys will be on the floor in WVU’s big stadium at 1pm. On my way, recliner, and I prolly won’t be moving much for the duration.

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Peace is good… page 205

Day 323 – 02/01/2021

Our orbit and trajectory have brought us again to Monday, which differs from the weekend in terms of TV schedules, food, and guilt about being worthless bums… but not a lot else. Some of the irritations that once made me dread Mondays would almost be welcome distractions at this point. Almost. We have plenty ahead of us to think about, so I’m sticking with solitude for some time yet. It’s okay, even curative, and I’m not unaware of its benefits.

We spent a few hours with Rita yesterday in her cozy place, and that was mos def curative – best medicine since Christmas, and she doesn’t disrupt my inner solitude a bit.

In a world defined by conflict and upheaval, I know this much is true…

… so yeah, workin’ on that, but when your heart looks like this, it’s all uphill…

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I asked Kim if this is what he ordered, and got the affirmative nod I expected and would have been crushed without…

It’s good to be Queen

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Tots & pears… page 204

Moonset over The Oread – Kim Smith 01/29/2021

Day 322 – 01/31/2021

Here’s to another month in the can and the world moving on, which it seems to be doing. But in this country more evidence of scandal, grift, and greed comes to light every day. Thousands of ventilators have gone missing, likely sold to the highest bidder in a foreign market. Millions of vaccine doses, paid for by our tax dollars, are not there – maybe sold to finance some of DJT’s $900 million in personal loans coming due soon. President-elect Biden’s team wasn’t allowed access to the coronavirus records until the last minute, only to find that the disaster they dreaded is indeed fact, and America pays the price.

Ice holes. Farging bastidges. They let almost half a million of us die and now they’ve walked away to live their self-absorbed lives with impunity. And still people follow them, affirm them, and in DJT’s case, apparently worship him. If I had to unify with any of that I’d need a lobotomy first.

It’s a cold and windy Sunday morning, with good things to look forward to, and I’m here for it, starting with a ranch omelet, which I inhaled, along with fresh-cut pineapple – that’ll work. Kim’s catching the last few of the 24 Hours of Daytona… we’re chillin’/staying warm… writing, reading, drinking coffee, playing music. Life feels so right on so many levels I should be satisfied, but I’m as greedy as those billionaires who make things difficult for us – I want it all. Saying it out loud, I want what we’ve lost. Leaving that right there, Universe.

A woman named Jen posted this on Twitter… and then apologized that it sounded lame. Au contraire, sweet girl, you managed to nail me from the inside out in only a few more syllables than a haiku:

I’m like my aloe plant.

I don’t need much, but when I have what I need, I thrive.

I’m strong but a little bit fragile. 

I don’t look like much on the outside but what’s inside can soothe you. 

I’m thankful for the real people who feed us with love. As for the rest, may whatsoever gods there be judge them justly.

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Oooh, rainy Saturday… page 203

Kitty City at Lawrence Arts Center with Resident Kittehs – Kim Smith 01/30/2021

Day 321 – 01/30/2021

My favorite mornings are the ones when dawn starts to happen but then rain steals the show as dusky dark closes in again. Kim got out early for a walk, and soon after he circled back home the streets and sidewalks were shiny with rain. So far, our 100%-chance-for-hours forecast has held true, mostly a steady drizzle.

It’s heavenly to have a sense of smell and taste again and breakfast today was indescribably satisfying. Grandma Wagner never stopped reminding me that good health is everything, and she was right. Kids know it all but they don’t know that – that understanding sinks in much later. But yeah, health – the better I feel, the more I wonder if there’s been something low-grade going on since last March, simmering under the surface, not contagious, just there – feels like I’m waking up from a long uncomfortable hibernation. My eyes still look like they’re floating in clear Jello this morning because, as Robert’s mom always said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s two,” but it’s no BFD.

Kim gets the baking jones on rain or snow days. Today it was banana muffins and I scarfed one just out of the oven, with lots of butter – life is good. Jayhawks will be playing the Tennessee Vols at 5:00 while we munch on tacos and queso, that’s just how good life really IS. Food and sportsing will get us through.

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A winter Wednesday… page 200

Day 318 – 01/27/2021

More snow overnight and our temps aren’t expected to break 30º today. Everything was pristine before the snowplows, cars, and dog walkers made their mark, but it’s slick underfoot so Kim gave me a ride to the barbershop where I exchanged my big silver helmet for a choppy haystack. I was Shelby’s first head this morning and there was nobody waiting so she gave me a $40 haircut for cheap. Good thing I’d brought her a big slice of Kim’s banana bread.

Pretty sure that’s the first time I’d been out since before Christmas and it felt like *home* to laugh with Shelby and John, and to be reminded that good people are still out there keeping the great world humming. Excellent, since I’m no help whatsoever.

I assume that’s hyperbole for Ms. Doyle as much as it is for me, but it’s close to the mark. In theory, I love people… in actual practice, it rarely comes out that pure.

Lawrence’s contribution, on Mass Street, to the Bernie madness:

I love that his team immediately had shirts printed, sold the first run in short order, and are donating all the profits to Meals on Wheels.

There are positive things happening every day now, sometimes in bunches, and the PTSD is starting to release its hold on me, one little frozen bit at a time. Feels… too good to be true, but I’m all about it until further notice. And there’s potato soup and toasty-cheesy French bread for lunch. Gonna get over you, HumpDay!

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Oh, those street tacos… page 199

Day 317 – 01/26/2021

We woke up to rain yesterday morning and light snow today. It’s cold out there, but cozy in here and we had beautiful little street tacos for lunch, with Cielito’s queso and chips. Yay, TUESDAY!

Across the hall in Mike’s old place they’ve been tearing out lots of tile work and two complete showers, and the noise is deafening – all this concrete, steel, and glass does a superb job of conducting sound. Kim doesn’t have the luxury of pulling the speakers out of his ears like I do, but noise doesn’t torture his immune system, so maybe we’re even. Today we got a break from all that – they might be through with demo and ready to renovate, which I’m sure won’t be loud at all… but progress. Progress is good. And new neighbors.

The world feels like a more hope-filled place with all the possibilities opening up again, but I’m still limbo-oriented, waiting. I don’t know what it is that will tell me we’ve truly avoided the catastrophic loss of everything we care about, but meanwhile, I float along day by day, out of touch with people, lacking the energy for real communication, letting a “like” here and there suffice for now. It’s no doubt a lot of things, including the recent month-long bout with COVID, and when I wake from my defensive slumbers I’m sure I’ll be a whirlwind of love and friendship again. Maybe.

We’re emerging from a long abusive relationship and it will all take time – trust and a sense of security are easily lost and hard to recover. The ground has shifted under our feet… so on we go, we have miles to go before we sleep.

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Wow, the weekend again… page 197

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/23/2021

Day 314 – 01/23/2021

We’re three days into the Biden administration, which was denied transition materials that would have allowed them to be fully up to speed on day one. But working in White House offices without desks, computers, paper clips, and other basics of government life, he and his team read the tea leaves and have already done more for America in those few hours than we saw in four years. People, however, never change, and some factions are already asking why he hasn’t fixed everything and turned the country into their version of utopia. At the same time, any mention of using $$$ to achieve that lofty goal is immediately shot down. “Money? OMG!! We can’t spend MONEY! Just look at this huge hole somebody dug in the budget while we weren’t looking, OMG!!!”

And just where, between 400,000 dead and “incites a coup,” do we place President Joe Biden’s Rolex watch? Dan Rather says, “One president burns some money on a watch. Another president burns down the country on his watch. Got it.” That would be the guy who once lived HERE but isn’t welcome to return to his former city, post-presidency.

Heart-of-Amera’s Poster Family

The couple who vacated their New York penthouse for the White House remained petty to the end, dismissing the staff before leaving the premises, thus temporarily stranding the new president and his family outside the doors when they arrived on foot up Pennsylvania Avenue. I’m sick of shitty human behavior and the people who support it. The shameless hypocrisy at every turn is truly a bridge too far, especially now that we have good-hearted, moral, decent people leading the nation again. We can kick the idiocy to the curb and get on with putting things back together, and that’s the only way it will happen.

Pretty sure it’s gonna stay ugly for some time here in what we once blithely referred to as the UNITED States. The fuck-your-feelings crowd from Hillary Clinton’s loss are all up in theirs and laying that whine on anyone who will listen, which doesn’t include me. As peaceful and liberated as I feel under Joe Biden’s first week in office, I’m hard-assed about the unhinged realm of *social media.* I have zero tolerance when I’m there… and I’m there less than I was. The rote, knee-jerk comments, repeated ad infinitum, have worn me to a nubbin and escapism can just come right on and carry me away. Breakfast was a perfect start, and Jayhawks are playing B-ball today. A win would be sweet, but I hardly care – they’re my boys and they improve my world by being in it.

I feel a great affinity for Pluto today, for purely self-centered reasons. Nobody’s rejected me… not in a long while… but like Pluto, we can all use a little TLC from time to time. And I feel somehow that Pluto is of the female persuasion, so…

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Kim’s filling the spa tub, so all is well. Hello, weekend, I intend to appreciate you and the fact that the sun’s shining, food is a taste & aroma balm again, and hope is streaking around the globe.

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Sunrise… page 196

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/22/2021

Day 313 – 01/22/2021

I fell asleep last night with a quiet sense of peace that’s been absent for too long – it felt amazing. And when I woke up this morning my first impulse wasn’t to check the news for overnight disasters emanating from Washington DC, specifically one big white house located there. I could get used to this.

All of the other crises roll inexorably forward, but these few days of taking a deep breath are already erasing some of the fallout from what we just survived. President Biden faces a monumental task in raising us out of the COVID pit we were left to wallow in; fortunately, he’s the man for the moment. We’re almost certain to lose another 100,000 Americans by the end of February, if not sooner, and it’s a job for the ultimate experts to get us through this horrendous failure of leadership without our losing hundreds of thousands more. Apparently the production of vaccines was semi-ramped up, with a stingy outlook to the future, and no roll-out plans for getting the preventative into our arms. I checked Douglas County’s COVID information site just now to find that our vaccination status is currently late-spring to early-summer, and that’s just the first shot. By the time we wait the required interval and get our second vaccination, then keep on keeping to ourselves until the numbers drop appreciably, we can count on another year of this. I’ll never forget that it didn’t have to be this way.

I’ve aged in here, from the inside out… by fifteen years at least, and most of it in the past year. My heart has grown a protective crust; I find it harder to forgive; I will not suffer fools; I’m grumpy with the people I love most, and snippy with friends. I’m inattentive, self-absorbed, quite often oblivious to what’s going on with the humans I care about. On the outside, I look more like my Grandma Wagner by the day, my turkey neck rivals Mitch McConnell’s, and I’ve acquired what John called at age four “soggy arms.” I may be stuck with most of that, it just sort of happens when you sit around and get old – but I can shed a lot of the inside stuff, and I can work seriously on doing that now that the air’s been cleared. It starts with being just as real as I always try to play it.

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Feeling good… page 195

Day 312 – 01/21/2021

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for (you and) me.”

Yesterday’s inaugural was amazing, beautiful, and healing. It was America in all our incredible diversity… and it was just right. Chris Wallace said he’s been listening to presidential inaugural addresses since JFK, and Joe Biden’s is the best he’s ever heard. I listened to all of them too, and he’s right – it was exactly what the nation needed.

President Biden’s day yesterday began at 6am and ended at midnight. He gave four speeches, signed seventeen executive orders, swore in 1,000 workers, walked down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House, at a run a few times, on his recently broken foot, and more. Late last night he was watching the Parade Across America on TV, holding his great-grandson, with a cozy fire going, still on his feet, not a chair in sight. He was back at work in the Oval Office early this morning. And then some idiot named Hannity referred to him as “the weak, the frail, the cognitively struggling Biden.” Yeah, I watched him in operation all day and saw none of that, so Mr. Hannity can tell it to the rain.

Time to bid farewell to the circus that was the outgoing administration. Time to let the memory of it fade away. Time to forget we ever had to deal with those people on an hour-by-hour basis. Time to let that name leave our mouths, and for the ubiquitous red hat to become our shameful swastika. The Spooky Men know…

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We made it out alive. And now we get busy fixing things.

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Goodbye to Donald J. Trump, the man who wanted to be Conrad Hilton but turned out to be Paris Hilton. – National Review

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Oh Happy Day… page 194

Photo Credit: Kim Smith 01/20/2021

Day 311 – 01/20/2021

There’s such a deluge of thoughts and emotions since yesterday it’s hard to hang onto them long enough for posterity. Good things are happening fast, and the first act of our incoming administration last night was a simple, beautiful memorial service for the nation’s COVID dead, numbering more than 400,000 now. The healing we need is under way. We’re home.

Earlier in the day, I watched our new president say his farewells to Wilmington, Delaware, before heading to DC for the inaugural. Joe’s an Irishman who wears his heart on his sleeve, thanks be to god, so I’ll be crying for days now, and for the four years to come, but for all the right reasons. There are still good men. Joe’s the kind of Irishman who’ll cry over a song, a memory, a loss, then turn around and pop you right in the forehead if you need it, so we’re in good hands.

This morning I was up before 6am like it was Christmas, glued to the day’s events. When the helicopter finally left the White House south lawn, carrying the Trumps away for the final time, I dissolved into sobs – it’s been a long five years. The reality show star’s ride down the escalator and the speech that followed confirmed to us where the United States would be in five years’ time if he somehow won… and here we are, finally, kicking all of that to the curb and ready to make America what we wanted to believe she was.

This whole thing is starting to feel real – President-e Biden invited a bipartisan group to attend church with him this morning and I look for Joe’s administration, after the dust settles, to be sweetly boring in all the best ways.

From Minnesota’s Star Tribune:

President-elect Joe Biden is attending church ahead of his inauguration, a traditional step taken ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday are attending a service at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. With them are incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

At Biden’s invitation, the first couple is joined by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, including all four top-ranking members of congressional leadership.

That includes both Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Many presidents have chosen St. John’s Episcopal Church, sometimes called “Church of the Presidents,” for the inaugural day service. Biden is the second Catholic U.S. president, and St. Matthew’s is the seat of the Catholic archbishop of Washington.

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Where it started…

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Where it’s going.

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