Thursday, November 29, 2007
I imagine the weekend will fly by, though, if I'm feeling better. I don't think anything is on the agenda this weekend, but the following weekend (on Mama's birthday), Tom and I are working as volunteers for a Santa Train, a project to raise money and collect canned goods for local food pantries. So I do need to be up for that.
Tom is having a small meeting here tonight and invited the couple of people who are coming to join us for dinner. I am tempted to take my bowl of Boeuf Bourogne and a hunk of bread to my room and eat in private. Not only do I not want to spread this thing around -- although lots of people we know have it, so it is not like I am the only carrier they are likely to run into -- but I think it is gross when someone at the table has to keep dragging a handkerchief out to wipe his nose.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Even Cassidy has an eye infection of some sort. All this illness makes Sundance even needier than usual. I took a nap this afternoon after work and the cats came and slept on either side of me, like bookends. It's kind of sweet, but I am a tosser and a turner in bed. Don't fence me in!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
It has made for a pretty quiet Sunday around the Lodge. The cats keep wandering in for attention, of course. I finished reading a book on Native American religions and another on proper behavior when attending worship services in various Christian and non-Christian churches, synagogues, temples, etc. It is an award-winning book (How to Be a Perfect Stranger) with a brief description of what kind of service to expect and how guests are expected to behave. Considering how many groups they covered, it is pretty good, although I noticed a couple of things that might not be exactly right in every instance at a Church of Christ, for example. And their explanation of the Catholic understanding of the pope was not too accurate, but I don't suppose that would matter to someone who just happened to be attending Mass with a friend. I guess it will be helpful to have read it if I ever get invited to worship with any Sikhs or Hindus. Or Lutherans, for that matter.
Friday, November 23, 2007
So now what do I do for the day? Tom is rearranging the basement to make room for his train setup. The libraries are closed for the day because of the holiday yesterday. I suspect the stores are a madhouse with people doing the whole Black Friday thing.
I'll have to think of something. John and Lucy are due to stop back overnight on their way back to Chicago, but they won't get in until tonight sometime. Tom is making Chinese for dinner, which will be good.
I have started an article on the names we give to God and what that shows about our understanding of God. I suppose I could work on that...
Twelve Step spirituality programs usually talk about "God as we understand him", leaving that understanding up to the individual's personal faith. Some people say "the God of my understanding" as a shorthand. A friend of mine who has been in AA for many years always says, "the God of my misunderstanding."
I like that.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
It always reminds me of the Garth Brooks song:
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.Some of God's gifts come in disguise, too. So as I am grateful for the blessings that are obvious -- such as the people I love and the people who love me, near and far -- I also want to be grateful this year for the unanswered prayers, for the gifts hidden inside disappointments, for the unexpected blessings of limitations and failures. And I pray for the grace to face the things that come (or don't come) with eyes open to discover the gift, whatever form it may take.
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs,
That just because he doesn't answer, doesn't mean he don't care.
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This led to the "put one more potato in the pot" syndrome. Tom had been making chili for us for dinner, so we ate ours and he threw some more meat and spices in and put it back in the slow cooker to stay warm until the kids got here. Just as we were preparing to go over to get some breakfast stuff to feed them in the morning before they head back out, Rich called to say that Peggy had been cooking pies like a dervish and he was bringing one over for us. So we wound up with a fresh apple pie, the appropriate dessert to offer John and Lucy when they got in a little before eight. The normal four-hour trip had taken them about six.
Meanwhile the snow had continued to come down, stopping just before they arrived, and the cats got into their routine of wanting out until they got out and then wanting back in to be cuddled, dried off and warmed up. Eventually they climbed onto my bed and curled up. The extra people sleeping in unexpected places will no doubt have them more perplexed than usual later.
I saw one of the albino squirrels again, which normally is a treat, but it can't compare with the eagle sighting.
About 3:00 this afternoon the snow started. One rumor is that we can expect three inches overnight. Isn't that nice? I pity all the folks heading home for the holidays in the traffic plus the snow.
It turns out the office won't be open on Friday, so I will have a long weekend to goof off. I'm loving it!
Of course, I already told Joe that I will be available to work all day Monday if necessary. I/he/we are getting way behind.
Monday, November 19, 2007
In other news, Tom made it back safely from Minnesota. He came in, set his bags down and went to see if his train would still run. It does, so at least he knows the cats and I didn't mess it up in his absence. (I'm not saying no one played with it...)
Joe didn't get a deer this weekend, but one of his grandsons who was part of his hunting party got one.
Joe's flock of sheep is having some health problems, which has made him miss work a couple of days and may keep him away for most of tomorrow morning. He was supposed to be taking lambs to market tomorrow, but it remains to be seen if he will manage that. If not, his flock just got bigger because this is the last chance before winter arrives. Next spring they won't be marketable, I guess. Not as lambs, anyway.
Evelyn brought me a turkey at work today. Long-range weather reports are getting a bit iffy for travel over the holidays, so I e-mailed Kristin and suggested they stay safely home and come visit us another time. She agreed with that plan, so we put the turkey in the freezer for a later celebration. Meanwhile, our Christmas Mountain neighbors found out none of their family will be making it for the holiday, either, and Barb wants to cook anyway. So they invited us to join their party. I think Tom plans to take a razzleberry pie, a favorite that we haven't had lately. I made some fudge over the weekend, but it may not survive until Thursday. Candy seems more like a Christmas thing than a Thanksgiving one anyway.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
On my way into Reedsburg before lunch yesterday morning, I saw a truck with a couple of bucks tied to the front already. So some folks were having good luck in the first hours of the hunt.
One sad development in Wisconsin is that, due to budget cutbacks, many counties can no longer afford to process donated venison for the use of food pantries. Hunters can still donate the meat, but they themselves will have to pay to have it processed and transported to the food pantries for distribution. In many cases, this donated venison was about the only meat that pantries had to offer to the needy, once the holiday turkeys disappear.
Speaking of turkeys, two big, fat ones ran -- trotted? -- across the back this afternoon. Turkey season ended last Thursday, but I suppose the turkeys may not trust that, what with all the guns going off.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Tom had a meeting in Baraboo this morning, and from there he took off to Minnesota to see his foster son, Big John, and his wife and kids. He is Big John to distinguish him from Tom and Helen's youngest son, John, who has two friends also named John, who are called John Squared and John Cubed ... Well, it pretty much goes on an on. Having once sat in a meeting where five of us in a row were named Michael, I know what that can be like.
Anyway, Tom will be up there until Monday, so the cats and I are having some quiet time. Actually, I had to go into Madison on some errands -- some things can't be found in Sauk County -- and drove through light snow on the way down. It turned to rain in Madison, but by the time I got back, it was snow again up here. We weren't supposed to have any accumulation, but on the deck it looks like we got about a half inch. The temperature is right at freezing, so it shouldn't last.
Deer season began this morning, too, so there are lots of trucks parked alongside the roads. We keep the lights on outside at night to remind folks that there is a house here now. It will be over in a week, assuming they harvest enough deer to satisfy the DNR. If not, they will have another short season later.
While I was in Madison, I went by Pier 1 and bought two bronze figures that I had seen on sale. The original price was $60 each, but now they were marked down to $5.98 each. The young woman who checked me out couldn't believe the price, but that is what came up on the register, too. She immediately went over to get a couple for herself to give as a gift. Nice savings. They are about 30 inches high and look good against my southwestern red walls. They are called "Ethnic Man and Woman", but they look sort of Indus Valley to me. He has a turban and she has that pointy hat.
Growing up in southeast Texas, I really was not prepared for the cold when I went to Michigan State. The February before I started, I had gone up for a scholarship competition and orientation. My winter coat was essentially a heavy but unlined thing. I had bought fur-lined gloves, but who knew about hats, scarves or mufflers and lined boots? I remember I had to walk about three blocks to the building where we took the exam, across windy and unprotected fields, freezing to death. When we all got there, they told us it was three degrees outside -- but the wind chill was 33 below. I didn't even know what wind chill was.
I guess it froze my brain, because I not only went to school there but have spent much of my adult life in New England, Chicago and Wisconsin. Here in the Dells this time of year, our average daily high is below the national average daily low.
Sigh. It's times like this I am glad the cats huddle up next to me at night.
Well, Brooklyn Branch, as one of my friends says in another context, "Don't worry, it will get better. Of course, then it will get worse."
Friday, November 16, 2007
We are supposed to have some snow flurries tonight and tomorrow, but no accumulation. Looking ahead, they are saying at this point maybe we will get rain on Tuesday, rain mixed with snow on Wednesday and then snow on Thursday for Thanksgiving. Tom says "in the old days" they could count on being able to ice skate on the pond on Thanksgiving.
Another Sign of the Times: Wisconsin Dells hopes to open its new skate park -- roller skates, roller blades and skateboards -- for Thanksgiving.
The least expensive gadget was $105.75 – something that claims to let you watch television wherever you want. As far as I can make out – and the information provided was really, not just virtually, useless – it will broadcast from your television to your DVR or some such thing. So basically you can watch TV from your computer or your tiny portable DVD player or someplace you don't have cable. Customer reviews indicate lots of problems, so what may make this a hot item is people burning it in frustration. (For what it's worth, the real list value of this thing is more like $130, and it goes for over $175 at some places.)
At the other end of the price scale, ironically enough, is a 50-inch television for $1,792.00.
So to sum up: Make your television viewing experience too big or too small for a price that is only too big.
But my real question is, why are these things called gadgets, usually defined as a small mechanical device? Fifty inches small? For two thousand dollars? For that matter, is a hundred and thirty bucks what you want to pay for a gadget? I think gadget = stocking stuffer, maybe five bucks for a jar opener or a crank flashlight.
Old Codger Man, signing off.
He'll be back! Christmas is the season for codgering.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tom got home before I was able to put my escape plan into effect, and I got to watch him set up and fiddle with the train set for a while. As is to be expected, things did not run perfectly smoothly right out of the box, even if it is a fine example of German engineering in Matchbox size. Still, he did manage to get it going around in circles on the table established for this purpose in his office.
No doubt the cats will be perplexed, intrigued and entertained by it. Just hope they don't swallow one of the cars.
Meanwhile, the next step will undoubtedly be bib overalls and one of those engineer caps. He already bought a train whistle.
Of course, last week Tom put the lighted reindeer up on the deck, set up to look like the cats, wanting to come into the house.
Even more Christmas-y, today UPS delivered the first installment of his model train set while he was away at a meeting. When he gets back, I expect he will tear into the box and start putting things together. I will just close my bedroom door, turn on the white noise machine, make room for the cats and read my book until I fall asleep.
Boys and their toys ...
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"You've no idea," was my response -- stolen from a line spoken by Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bülow in the movie Reversal of Fortune, and later spoken by Jeremy Irons as the voice for the character Scar in the Disney movie, The Lion King.
Today I happened across an episode of the television series Weird U.S., and it was about Huntsville and all its prisons. They even had a picture of the entrance to Goree Farm. This photo is of the Walls, where Mama and Daddy both worked at one time. They did a longish segment on the old Prison Rodeo, too. I guess I had heard that it had disappeared back iin 1986, but if so, I had forgotten. It was such a fixture for October Sundays, and I still remember how much I enjoyed the years that Daddy's job took the family to Austin every Saturday before a rodeo Sunday to pick up tickets. We always ate Mexican food at El Mat (El Matamoros), saw some of the sights of the capital and got to buy a toy. It was a great adventure.
As one recent article I read about Tex-Mex food said, "Everything Tex-Mex is judged by El Matamoros standards."
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
On the way back from Baraboo today, I saw a red-tailed hawk perched on a road sign. They are fairly common in the area, but I got a great close-up view of this one.
Deer season (guns) begins this weekend, and the signs are all there: new Posted - No Hunting signs, hunters out getting their stands set up and the local taverns advertising Male Dance Reviews to lure the ladies into the bars while their men are out hunting.
Monday, November 12, 2007
But at the foot of the feeder, rooting around in the grass, was a possum. Or an opossum. Whichever.
It stayed for quite a while, not even bothering to look up when I opened the door to let the cats out onto the deck. The cats didn't pay much attention to the possum either until it waddled away into the woods. Then for some reason they got interested.
So that's the critter du jour. Lovely, huh?
For the younger Doddlings, the title of this post refers to a famous line by Walt Kelly's comic strip possum, Pogo. I think the original context was pollution, but the line has come to refer to many other things as well.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Cynical Rat says, "They're called geese."
"I didn't know that," Pig replies. "I saw a lot of geeses today."
Yesterday I saw a lot of geese flying overhead. It is migration time, and I imagine the skies will be filled with flocks going by for a while.
We went into Madison for a number of errands, one so that Tom could visit a hobby shop and pick up some books on model trains. He has recently decided to build a model train set-up in the basement and recreate the Dells area circa 1804 or 1850. He claims he is not that interested in seeing the train go around in a circle, but it is an excuse to build a model of the Dells.
"Then why didn't you just build a model of the Dells before the train came through?" I asked.
Seems the train, according to Tom, is what made the Dells -- certainly what made the city of Wisconsin Dells. The real town in the area at that time was Newport, built with the expectation that the train would go through there; but Byron Kilbourn -- a railroad tycoon (doesn't he look happy?) -- bought up a lot of land up here and then influenced (bribed) the various powers-that-were into routing the trains through what he named Kilbourn City. Newport became a near-ghost town and people moved to the new Kilbourn City or to Baraboo. Eventually the name of Kilbourn City was changed to Wisconsin Dells.
I guess that justifies the train set...
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I have posted before about Jones Soda and their strange holiday flavors. Now this:
Kosher ham-flavored soda?
SEATTLE, Washington (AP) -- Coming soon next to the Coke and Pepsi in a store near you: ham-and latke-flavored soda to make your holiday feast complete.
Jones Soda's Christmas Pack flavors are Sugar Plum, Egg Nog, Christmas Tree and Christmas Ham.It even will be kosher, the company making it says -- including the ham.
Jones Soda Co., the Seattle-based purveyor of offbeat fizzy water, is selling holiday-themed limited-edition packs of flavored sodas.
The Christmas pack will feature such flavors as Sugar Plum, Christmas Tree, Egg Nog and Christmas Ham. The Hanukkah pack will have Jelly Doughnut, Apple Sauce, Chocolate Coins and Latkes sodas.
"As always, both packs are kosher and contain zero caffeine," Jones said in a statement.
The packs will go on sale Sunday, with a portion of the proceeds to be given to charity, the company said.
Jones' products feature original label art and frequently odd flavors. Last year's seasonal pack was Thanksgiving-themed, with Green Pea, Sweet Potato, Dinner Roll, Turkey and Gravy, and Antacid sodas.
For its contract to supply soda to Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, Jones came up with Perspiration, Dirt, Sports Cream and Natural Field Turf. The company -- fortunately or unfortunately -- prides itself on the accuracy of the taste.Jones also makes more traditional flavors, including root beer, cherry and strawberry sodas.
Not so much.
Friday, November 9, 2007
It is about 42 degrees and cloudy. The weather report says 10% chance of precipitation, so I guess that was the 10%.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Last night again there was a deer grazing in the ditch alongside Berry Road when I turned onto it from Brichwood. Today on the way home from Baraboo, I saw a nice buck that had been hit lying along Highway 12 just outside of town.
WEYAUWEGA, Wis. (AP) - Two separate drivers hit the same deer early Wednesday and then collided with each other, sending one car bursting into flames.
But the drivers, both men, escaped with only minor injuries after the accident in the Township of Lind shortly after midnight, the Waupaca County Sheriff's Department said.
Authorities said a truck driven by Thomas Hille, 42, hit a deer while heading west on U.S. 10. Hille pulled over to a shoulder to call for help.
Then, a minivan heading the same direction also struck the deer, which was still in the road. The impact caused driver Dennis La Coss, 60, to lose control. His car hit Hille's parked vehicle, went into a ditch and caught fire, authorities said.
Both drivers escaped on their own.
So, Brooklyn Branch Thanksgiving Guests, take note.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
The tractor looks pretty good -- it is a red velvet cake with colored icing decorations.
Chris, on the other hand, got part of the way here and started having some stomach problems. So he headed back home and now we have this big cake and a pot roast to eat on for the rest of the week.
Pretty cool cake, though. They also make a bundt pan that looks like a castle and one like a cathedral and one that looks like a sports stadium, in case anyone is interested in getting fancy with their desserts.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Tomorrow Tom's friend Chris, he of the terrible cancer surgery last summer, is coming up for an overnight visit. Chris recently underwent a series of tests, and the results were all very encouraging. Last time I saw him was the week before he was gutted. It will be good to see him under more hopeful circumstances.
The cold weather has increased the cats' desire to go in and out even more frequently. They go out and immediately want back in. Then ten minutes later they want out again, either having forgotten how cold it was or hoping that it has warmed up. Then they want back in and demand to be petted and cuddled because they are cold.
Once Tom sees his propane bill, the opening and closing of doors on demand for the cats may be over until spring.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Well, maybe not that bad, but we did have flurries. And a bit of sleet. The day started out very windy, but sunny. Around noon it turned colder and when I walked back from the library to the office after lunch, it was raining. Soon that turned to sleet and some snow. No real accumulations, but it did not make driving home from work in the dark any more fun. What with watching out for deer and for slippery spots and ...
Anyway, I was happy to get home after a long and hectic day of work to find Tom making Chinese for dinner.
Recently I got a fortune cookie that said, "Your dearest wish will come true." Sounds good, but I still haven't figured out what my dearest wish is. Maybe that's why it hasn't come true yet.
Feel free to offer suggestions.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
It reminded me of all the things that were pronounced differently when I was younger. Nabel was one of them. Also chimbly. And liberry. Basketti. Bobbed war. Dreckly.
Mrs. Hughes, who taught me eighth grade math, had a couple of good East Texanisms. She pronounced area as "ay-ree". We all knew that area was pronounced "a-re-uh" normally, but we assumed the word in math was pronounced "ay-ree" until a substitute teacher nearly got hysterical and corrected us. Mrs. Hughes also pronounced carat "carry-ut", and again, we figured that was the mathematical way of talking. I think it was Ruth Carmichael's mother who set us straight.
By the way, Mrs., of course, was pronounced Miz.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
CASA volunteers are appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child. This is similar to the work Evelyn does as a guardian ad litem, the attorney representing the child's best interests. The GAL and CASA volunteer work as a team if both are involved in a case. Studies have shown CASA volunteers to be effective in reducing court costs, reducing stays in foster care and even in reducing rates of delinquency. A study conducted by the National CASA Association showed that children with a CASA volunteer spent approximately one year less in care than a child without CASA involvement. Besides saving taxpayers money, it means that a child finds a permanent and safe home more quickly.
The dinner was the the Spring Brook Golf Resort just down Berry Road from us, so it was very convenient. In addition to the buffet, there were door prizes, raffle tickets and an auction of gift baskets. Some of the things up for grabs (well, up for bids) included Badger and Packer tickets, a NSACAR package (Tom is a huge NASCAR fan) and golf outings. I had assumed that they thought the crowd would be mostly sports fans, but it turns out one of the donors owns a sports memorabilia store and a number of those attending were judges and lawyers and the sort of people who golf a lot. I am not sure how much they raised, but people were bidding generously.
Even though CASA gets some state funding, it has to raise some of its own funds because the needs, sad to say, are great. Last year, according to the National CASA Association, their volunteers advocated for 225,000 children -- and that is only half of the children in the child welfare system at any given time. Locally (Sauk and Columbia Counties) there are 600 reported cases of child abuse and neglect each year.
We were there at the invitation (instigation) of Judy Spring, one of the folks from Tom's political activities. Like Debbie Kinder, Judy seems to be involved in a dozen different causes. She serves on the board of CASA, and as is often the case when you are a board member for a non-profit, you are expected to bring in ten or twelve people as paying guests for things like this. It was a nice enough meal and the company was good, although an hour and a half of a sports auction is yawn-city for me.
Tom is having to send his laptop back for some repair/adjustment, and I am going to inherit his wireless mouse for a few days. I am accustomed to the pointing device on my laptop, but there are some things -- okay, I admit it, mainly games -- that work better with a mouse. I bought one the other day for Joe and picked up one for myself at the same time, but it would not connect to my computer without an adapter. So back to pick up one that would... and Wal-Mart was out of them. So while I wait, I will try Tom's. I like the mouse -- I used Joe's when I set it up -- but I am not sure it will work as well on my older computer because of the location of the USB ports.
Anywho, enjoy the cat cartoon.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Of course, the sun sets tomorrow at 5:49. So next week that would be 4:49. Ouch! By the time the days start getting longer, the sun will be setting at 4:00 in the afternoon around here.
When I was in Chicago, I often caught the bus a little after six in the morning, and it was definitely dark. By the time I got off the train in the afternoon to catch the bus to Hyde Park, it was dark again. At least now I drive to and from work and don't have to stand in the cold, dark and rain or snow.