Friday, February 29, 2008

The little things

Saturday, March 1 is the feast of St. David of Wales (c. 500-589) in the Roman Catholic and Anglican (Episcopal) communions. His last words to his followers were along the lines of what has become a Welsh proverb: Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd -- Do the little things in life.

There seem to be at least two accounts of the source of our surname of Dodd, but I favor the Welsh tradition because it is so much more fun than just being English, don't you know? For what it's worth, I note that the Welsh version of the family crest or coat of arms has the motto In copia cautus -- Be careful in times of plenty. I think I can make a connection with the little things in life, but I'll let you sort that one out on your own.

I wish his feast had been on March 2, though -- Texas Independence Day and Sam Houston's birthday. I know it would have made Ted happy.

Freshly fallen Friday

We got a bit of snow overnight, maybe an inch or so. Not enough at any rate to interfere with anything. Tom went out for a walk with Debbie Kinder along the Wisconsin River, something they do with some regularity. They both love the outdoors, and Debbie's husband is unable to do long walks because of his Parkinson's.

My work went well at the Screnocks' yesterday, although I wound up going in early because of a court scheduling change for Evelyn. They will be going to New Hampshire for a long weekend in mid-March for a family matter and asked if I will babysit the office for the mornings that they are away. So I will pick up a bit more of what Tom calls "walking around money" that way. Joe also asked if he can occasionally call me for help when he is in a typing pinch, and I agreed to do it if it fits into my schedule. I am grateful for the occasional work while I look for something else, but I don't want to slip back into working too much in an office that experience has shown is not good for me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Busy day

I went over to Baraboo today for a couple of meetings. I also went by the hospital to try to make sense of the multiple bills I have been getting, and a very helpful woman relieved my concerns about whether payments had been received and were being posted. I spent some time at the library and then dropped by the law office to try to say hi to Joe, but he was meeting with a client. Evelyn asked me if I were available to do the billing, so I will be going in to do Joe's bills tomorrow afternoon. Her guardian ad litem bills can't be done until the first of the month, so I will go in and do that on Monday. If I don't have to do anything else, I should be able to finish the billing up easily in that time frame. It won't be a lot of hours, but the extra cash will be nice. Joe will be out of the office tomorrow -- in court somewhere else -- but maybe I'll see him Monday.

Otherwise, all quiet on the northern front. Maybe an inch of snow tomorrow, but what's that among friends?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mushy Monday

When I went into the Dells this morning, they had front-end loaders piling snow into dump trucks that were hauling it away to somewhere. It's come to this. Soon they will be piling it into boxcars on trains heading south, hoping it will all have melted by the time it gets there.

The good news, on the other hand, is that the storm they had been predicting for tonight seems to have faded away. We will possibly get some more snow, but only a couple of inches. From the radar at the moment it looks like most of it will go south of us.

We'll see.

Meanwhile, one flamingo's head is now totally exposed and three other eyes are peeping through the melting snow.

Nothing to report on the cats, birds or other critters. I haven't seen Snowgo for a while. I don't know if the snow just got too deep for him or what happened.


I have been re-reading John Freely's The Lost Messiah: In Search of the Mystical Rabbi Sabbatai Sevi. It is the true story of a seventeenth-century Jewish rabbi from Smyrna who declared that he was the Messiah and convinced huge numbers of Jews (and some Christians) across Europe and the Middle East of his claims. He was eventually arrested by the Ottoman Empire and, faced with a choice between converting to Islam or dying, chose to convert. Even this did not convince all of his followers that he was a fraud, and there are apparently people today who still believe in him and follow a mixed Jewish-Muslim way of life. For more information, click here.

It is a fascinating study in religious psychology. From the descriptions, Sabbatai Sevi may have been bipolar. At any rate, his adulthood seems to be one long manic phase after a severe depressive phase after a manic phase and so on. What is truly amazing, though, is that he was able to convince so many rabbis and other Jewish leaders of his authenticity.

The Christians who "believed" in him were not convinced he was a messiah who would replace Jesus so much. Rather, like many people today, they were so anxious for the Second Coming that they latched onto him as a sign of the end times because he said he would restore the nation of Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Even without the internet, stories and rumors about him spread like wildfire and were taken at face value within some European governments. It does sound a bit like email and internet smear campaigns built on rumors and flat out lies, although in Sabbatai's case the stories were building him up, not tearing him down.

Amazing stuff. Apparently human nature has been around for quite a while.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday savers

Today we went down to Madison, it being a warm and sunny day, temperatures up into the mid-30s. Tom bought some books at Half Price Books to take along on his trip to Las Vegas with his friend Bob Mitchell next week. We also went to a Barnes & Noble that we had not tried before, and it was a great discovery. Much larger than the one in the mall on the east side of town and with quite a few used books for a dollar, too. Since we are both of a frugal -- not to say cheap -- nature, this was a good thing.

I bought a Structures rugby shirt at Savers, in good condition and on sale for $2.50. This was used, of course, but last week I had a 20% off coupon for Kohl's and found one of their Sonoma rugby shirts on clearance, the total cost coming to about $3.00.

Like I said, cheap. But now nattily dressed.

Tonight the Masterpiece Classics version of Pride and Prejudice ended. Next week we get Emma. I pointed out to Tom that Emma provided the basic storyline for the movie Clueless, in which the role of the half-brother, Josh, was played by Paul Rudd, who was in The Object of My Affection with Jennifer Aniston,which we saw the other night, and that both of them were in Friends, although she was a main character and he was only brought in in the final season to be the love interest (and eventual groom) of Phoebe, played by Lisa Kudrow, who had played a ditzy waitress, Ursula, on Mad About You, and then played Phoebe on Friends in which the character Ursula sometimes appeared as Phoebe's evil twin. It drives Tom crazy that I point out all these meaningless connections -- who does the voice-overs for animated movies and that the same woman (Marni Nixon) who did the singing for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady did the singing for the Mother Abbess in Sound of Music and also played one of the other nuns. A week from now Tom won't even remember that he saw The Object of My Affection, much less who Paul Rudd is or what other movies he may or may not have been in. I, on the other hand, have the sort of brain that tucks such stuff away.

I remember when Brother Rene and I were going to school in Mexico City back in 1974 and we were walking back to the monastery. I was patiently explaining (or rather, he was patiently listening to my explanation) that the tilde (the little wiggle over the n in Spanish words like señor is believed by some to have originally been two n's, one written above the other. He looked at me in amazement and said, "Your head is full of the most absurd information."

Sad, but true. If only it were full of useful information, imagine what I might have made of myself!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Freaky Friday, Part Two

My library story is this: An elderly lady, apparently known to the librarians, came in to return some books. She had been snowed in for the past week at her home. The county had plowed the roads, but access to her house is by way of a mile of road on private property, and she has to have it plowed for her. It costs $300 each time to get it plowed out. She is about to go crazy with all the expense, as you can well imagine. She is threatening to visit her brother in Illinois to get away from it all. Only someone from Wisconsin would think going to Illinois is heading south to avoid winter!

Freaky Cassidy: A little earlier, I heard what sounded like a jar full of marbles being overturned in the living room. I rushed out to see what the cats had done now and there was Cassidy, flying around the room with the sticky trap stapled to the cardboard strip (see earlier post about House Mouse) caught on her hind leg. She had gone back into the corner, I assume, trying to find the mouse and got her own foot stuck in the goo. Cats HATE anything sticky, and when she ran away, the noise of the cardboard flapping on the floor frightened her even more. Tom and I tried to grab her as she ran by, and eventually cornered her in the basement. Tom held her -- squirming, angry and afraid (Cassidy mainly, but Tom a little bit maybe)-- while I used mineral oil and alcohol (if you think cats hate sticky, you should see how they feel about rubbing alcohol!) and paper towels to clean her paw up. She went into hiding under my bed for about an hour, but she has come out and reclaimed her half of the sofa.

Poor baby!

The mouse, incidentally, remains at large.

Joys of modern living (and working)

This morning I went to Wal-Mart to get my oil changed. That went pretty well, filters didn't need changing and so on.

The problem came when I tried to check out. The bill rang up fine, they took my credit card, it printed out one copy of the bill and then ... pfft. It refused to print out my copy of the receipt. Two employees and a supervisor spent about ten minutes trying to get this problem resolved. Finally the supervisor gave me a receipt that she initialed in case there were ever any reason for me to need it, like needing to come back with a complaint, I suppose.

This was a nuisance to me, but I didn't have anywhere I absolutely had to be at that time. So it only cost me ten minutes. But for them, it was a much bigger problem. And not just because that register was frozen and could not be used. They had other registers back there.

The problem was -- and I recognized this from my days at Kohl's -- that the employee who had been on the register with my bill was now frozen out of the rest of the system. She could not go to another register and help someone else because the system thought she had not signed out of the register that was frozen. In order to make sure that registers are not left open and unattended, she had to sign out before she could log onto another one. So until they get that resolved, she can do other things -- help customers locate things, answer questions and so on -- but she cannot do the main thing she is there to do: enter jobs into the computer and then check people out when the work is done. She was not a happy camper. Nor were the five people standing in line while all this was going on, as it dawned on them that their day might not go as smoothly as they had hoped, at least not this part of it.

I am sure there is a way around this, because you know it happens from time to time. But it reminded me of a time back in the 1970s when I was charging something at a Target using a Penney's card, which you could do at the time. Since I was charging it for the monastery, it was sales tax exempt. No one knew how to do that. They shut down the entire checkout line in order to call downtown. It was five after five and downtown was closed. I offered to just pay the tax -- I am sure it was less than a dollar on that particular purchase -- but they insisted that they would take care of it. So I was stuck there for fifteen minutes, the poor cashier was stuck there, other customers had to go to other crowded lanes ...

You just know there's a better way. One thing I liked about Kohl's was that they had a customer service motto of "Yes, we can." That meant that even lowly cashiers could make reasonable adjustments without having to call supervisors for every little thing, that when lines had more than three people in them, other cashiers were called to open registers, that customers were treated well and not made to suffer because of glitches in the store's systems. It was a good thing, and one thing that made it a pleasant place to work as well as to shop.

Freaky Friday

So here it is, Friday morning, sunny and no Winter Storm Alert for us over at Yay!

Oh, wait a minute. There's a Special Weather Statement:





Don't you just love how they're trying to soften the blow and get all cutesy on us?

At least right now (8:00 a.m.) it is only three below and should go up to 24.When they say it may get above freezing -- the predicted high on Sunday is 33. Well, that is above freezing.

Sorry, folks. That's the news for now. The cats -- my other topic -- have done nothing particularly notable and no unusual bird or critter sightings yet. This afternoon I do my library volunteering. Maybe something will happen there worth reporting.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

International acclaim

Well, hardly acclaim, but even so ...

The Carmelites in Nigeria contacted me to write an article for their magazine, published by their students. I am supposed to write a short piece (two pages approximately) on poverty and moral integrity. I gather from the other topics they suggested that they want something about avoiding the temptation to make wealth the be-all and end-all of life. I told them that it might sound absurd for an over-educated white man living in great security in the United States to talk to people in Nigeria about poverty, but they told me to go ahead.

As they said about all impossible situations in Up the Down Staircase, "Let it be a challenge to you."

Nigeria is the first place in Africa that I volunteered to go, back in 1984. The Washington Province was asked to take the mission there in Lagos. (You will see the name on the coast on the left-hand side of the map.) In the end, we did not go there and the Irish took the mission. The students from Nigeria, however, study at the house in Nairobi where the Washington friars did eventually go. That is why they had heard of me, I suppose. They asked a number of friars from my old province to write something for them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Snow loader

Even with the heavier duty snow blower (or snow thrower, as they say here), the piles along the drive were getting absurd. So we were happy to have a call from Rich asking if we wanted help. I'll let Tom tell it:
The mounds on either side of the driveway by my garage are now well over my head, and the mounds at the end of the driveway are high enough that it won't be long before we are going to have to drive into Berry Road on a prayer, because we won't be able to see anything, even with the fact that our driveway is a couple of feet higher than the road at that point.

Along the length of the driveway, where I can use the snowblower, things are better, of course. The snowblower throws the snow twenty feet or so, and the snow doesn't mound up the way it does on either end.

My neighbors across the road are in worse shape. Rich has an old pickup with a plow, and he literally has no place left to put snow. Driving into his place is like driving into the Red Sea during the parting, except that the walls are snow, not water.

Rich is bringing in a fellow he knows with a Skidster today to move the mounds away from his driveway and give him room to plow for the next snowfall, which is predicted for the weekend.

Rich called last night to ask if I wanted to have Skidster Guy over this morning to move my mounds out of the way, while he was at it. I jumped at the idea, of course. So Skidster Guy is expected about 10 this morning. I'll contribute to the cost, of course, but I'm glad to have Rich as a neighbor. He is a thoughtful neighbor.
The fellow is here as I write, lifting and shoving snow out into the yard and away from the worst mounds. That's a photo of the little Cat loader model that he is using.

Eventually it will melt ...

Lunar eclipse

We are supposed to have clear skies for the lunar eclipse tonight, but I don't know that I will see much of it. Although it comes at a good time -- starting about a quarter to eight and going to about ten -- it is supposed to be ten below outside by then. Maybe I'll just run out and take a peek. Since we live in the country, the night sky is pretty good here without lots of city lights to interfere.

I remember watching one from the observation platform in front of the church at Holy Hill back when I was prior there in the early 1990s. The property was closed to the public, it being night and all, but a few employees and neighbors still came up to join us on watch. I do recall that when it was over and everyone left, we realized there had been a total stranger among us that no one knew. He had climbed over the gates, watched in total silence and then took off. So much for our tight security!

Apparently we won't get another chance until 2010. Just hope the weather is warmer!

Monday, February 18, 2008

House mouse

Last night while we were watching the middle episodes of Pride and Prejudice, we both noticed a small shape run by the end of the sofa and disappear. No doubt a mouse!

I checked the sticky traps and so far nothing. But this afternoon I saw that Cassidy had taken up residence in the laundry room, staring intently at the space between the washer and dryer.

I put together a long strip of cardboard and fastened a sticky trap to it. That way, I could put the trap back behind the washer and dryer and be able to pull it out once (and if) the mouse gets caught.

For now, Cassidy and I wait.


I'm reasonably sure there is no such word, but I created it to signify a friend of birds, analogous to a philanthropist, a friend of humankind. (There is a word ornithophile, which means a bird lover.)

With the storms we have been having, the birds have been eating away furiously at the seed and suet supplies out back. This afternoon Tom shoveled through several feet of snow -- I mean about two and half feet deep and for a goodly distance -- in order to restock the big feeder and the suet boxes. Then he had to take a ladder out there and fiddle with the cold latches without his gloves on. It had been snowing most of the morning, but that had tapered off. Still, it was 12 degrees out there with a wind chill of five below.

It reminded me of Mama cooking bacon for her feral cats. She was going to drink a SlimFast for breakfast, but she was making a hot meal for the cats that lurked in the woods. I guess that makes her a philailuropist. (As above, there is a word ailurophile, a person fond of cats.)

Birds, cats and the rest of us are lucky there are such folks around.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Last Flamingo

One mystery series that I have enjoyed over the years is about a married couple of archaeologists and their adventures in late nineteenth-, early twentieth-century Egypt. They are written by Elizabeth Peters (actually Barbara Mertz, a graduate of the famous Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago). One of the books is The Last Camel Died at Noon.

I thought of that this afternoon when I looked out back where the line of flamingos normally guards the bird feeders. This past week most of them were buried under the snow, but there were still a few necks and heads sticking up this morning.

The last flamingo disappeared at 2:00 this afternoon.

Admittedly that does not have the same dire implications that the loss of the last camel had for the desert-stranded characters in the book. It is, nonetheless, a bit dispiriting. And I can only imagine how the flamingos feel about it.

Those flamingos in the snow in the picture are not ours, but then they aren't buried yet either. They may still have time to save themselves. Fly away, flamingos! Fly away!


Yesterday we went with Tom and Barb Baker and a young friend of theirs to the model railroad show in Madison. It was huge, lots of large layouts in different sizes and gauges as well as vendors. The Riverside & Great Northern and the Dells Live Steamers & Model Engineers were there, two of the groups Tom works with. He bought some more rolling stock (cars) for his set and we all wandered around looking at the layouts for several hours. Some were quite detailed, including one that had a firetruck spraying water into a smoking house. One thing that struck us as odd was that people seemed to put less detail work into the larger trains and layouts than they did with the smaller ones. As a result, the large trains looked like toys while the small sets looked like actual trains. I would have thought it would be easier to do details on the larger models, but what do I know?

The weather was great: sunny all day. As I told Mama, one sign of the difference between living here and living in Texas is that the weatherman Friday night said, "Tomorrow it will be sunny and 27 degrees. A great day to be outside!"

Today is not a great day to be outside. Another winter storm began before daybreak, and we woke to icy sidewalks and falling snow. Predictions now are from 9 to 13 inches in this area by the time it ends at midnight. It being a Sunday, instead of school closings they are announcing all the church cancellations.

The counties just north of us are under an official blizzard warning. A blizzard is not just a heavy snowstorm. The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as sustained 35 mph winds which leads to blowing snow and causes visibilities of ¼ mile or less, lasting for at least 3 hours. Temperature is not taken into consideration when issuing a blizzard warning, but the nature of these storms are such that cold air is often present when the other criteria are met. We are expecting temperatures in the teens and twenties with winds of up to only twenty miles an hour at times.

My friend Joe from Iowa sent me a picture of a snow sculpture a friend of his had made expressing his feelings about winter in Wisconsin. Since I said I would not allow foul language on this blog, I guess I better not post the picture either.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Living la vida librarica

Okay, pop culture reference to Ricky Martin for those who didn't get the title.

After going with Tom to get the new snow blower and helping unload it, I took off for my volunteer work at the library. Again the time went fast. I did The List (gathering up the books from our library that have been requested for interlibrary loan by other libraries in the system) and then joined another volunteer writing out labels for BOC -- books on cassette.

Driving into the Dells was interesting because of the way the snow has been plowed. I don't know if they have decided to stop pushing it off to the side because there is not enough room anymore. Where we used to have diagonal parking by the library there is now only room for parallel parking, which does not accommodate many cars. At any rate , on the major streets -- ususally four lanes -- now there is one cleared lane in each direction with a two-foot-high bank of snow between them. It looks like those concrete barriers they put up to divide traffic in some places, and maybe the idea is to keep the traffic separated and provide a buffer for cars that otherwise might skid into on-coming traffic. Who knows?

Be careful out there.

Enough! Already! Seriously!

After we got home from dinner last night, Tom decided to do one last run with the snow blower. The snow had finally stopped, and he wanted to clear the drive before the temperature dropped and the snow became a crusted sheet of ice by morning, much harder to handle.

So the snow blower -- poor thing, it has done about three seasons of work in the past month -- just decided to give up the ghost. I helped shove snow off to the side of the drive for a while, and then Tom decided to try to buy another snow blower. We went over to Home Depot to see if they had any left, but no such luck. By then it was too late to shop anywhere else. We came back and Tom finished off the bit that was left. I looked at the weather report and it looked like we might get through the coming week with only a few snow showers, and then by next weekend it will be up above freezing and some of it will melt.

This morning, the weather report had become a bit less friendly:

Winter Storm Watch






It has reached the point that I am happy to see that we are likely to get only six (6) inches, not being in the southeast (Like Holy Hill!) where thirteen (13) is possible.

When he saw that, Tom got on the phone and located a heavier-duty snow blower over in Reedsburg, and we are about to head over to pick it up.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Mama couldn't remember what she was going to comment about my post on taxes. I found a site that calculates how much of a rebate to expect back, though. The Tax Rebate Calculator is one of the tools over on (Note that I put the link in green for money.)

Anyway, according to the calculator -- and assuming I correctly answered the questions -- I can expect $600 come May.

Normally that would go directly into my Money Market to earn interest, but I know President Bush wants me to run and out and spend it to stimulate the economy. This time I may have to spend it because of cash flow problems.

Wow! I never thought I would even know what cash flow problems meant, much less have them.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go spend a few minutes in the panic room.
The Don't Panic image is a pop culture reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


When I call Mama and Daddy on Sundays, I usually report on what the cats have been up to, there not being much else to tell of late. Mama told me I'm lucky we have the cats. That and the weather give me something to talk about. At least I don't have bad news to report!

She also asked how much snow we have on the ground. I wasn't sure, and it is coming down again today. They are saying we will have picked up another four to six inches by the time it ends tonight.

Of course, we have had a handful of warm days in the 30's and some has melted. The snow at the end of the sidewalk by the garage where Tom has shoveled and piled it up is about shoulder height on me. Some of the pink flamingos are completely covred and others have only a tiny spot on the top of their heads above the snow.

I just tried to go out into the middle of the yard to poke a stick down and see how deep it is, but the snow is piled too high around the drive and walk to be able to get out there. I leaned out as far as I could and got a measurement of about two feet right now. I suspect if I could get to a place in the front where there is no tree cover, it would be more like two and a half feet deep. On the deck it is about a foot and a quarter, but Tom shovels it and it melts there much faster, so that is no indication of how much we have had, either.

One friend called about something else and mentioned that she had planned to ski today -- but there was too much snow!

The Tao Te Ching says that the one who knows he or she has enough, is rich. Well, I know that when it comes to snow, I've had enough.

Tom says the record total snowfall for a year here was back in 1950-1951: 77 inches. I don't know where we are compared to that thus far. Madison has already broken their record.
To show you how much we like extremes, the highest temperature recorded in the state of Wisconsin was here in Wisconsin Dells in July of 1936 -- 114 degrees. In July of 1993 the Baraboo area got seven (7) inches of rain in one hour. But we mustn't complain. The highest snowfall for one season was up in Iron County in 1996-1997: 277.7 inches -- more than 23 feet!
That's not one of our cats, but it sure looks like Cassidy.

For you Valentine's Day greeting from everyone at The Lodge,
make sure you sound is on and click here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dial M for ...

If you look at this tabby cat's forehead, you see markings that look a bit like an "M". According to a legend I just ran across today, tabby cats all have this marking because there was a tabby cat present in the stable when Jesus was born. The baby was crying and no one could calm him until the tabby cat hopped into the manger, curled up beside him and began to purr. Mary petted the cat on the forehead, and all its descendants bear her initial in memory of that night.

This legend reminds me of a time when Daddy worked at the prison in Huntsville. Ted called the prison one day and when they asked who he wanted, he said the man who had an"M" on his forehead -- more a hairline than a sacred marking in Daddy's case.


Mama mentioned that she wanted to post a comment but was unable to do so. If you also have trouble posting comments -- I believe you have to have a Google (gmail) account to do so -- feel free to email the comment to me and I will post it. In order to screen out spam and other possibly offensive intrusions on this blog, all comments are sent to me first for approval anyway. So far I think I have posted all that came from family except for one or two that were obviously meant as private communication to me.

Your comments are yours to make, not mine to edit. So feel free to drop a line to me by my regular email and tell me you want it posted as a comment. Unlike the dude in the cartoon, it is not my intent to block comments. I do reserve the right, though, to keep offensive language off this post, so please bear that in mind.

This morning I have a dental appointment. I can feel a hole in the top of a tooth, and I think I lost a filling. It doesn't cause any pain, but it is definitely a problem. I wanted to get my teeth cleaned at the same time, but I have to wait until April to get on the hygienist's schedule. If anyone out there is looking for a career track and thinks you can stand poking around in people's mouths, dental hygienist has to be a solid choice.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Winter writing

Sometime during the night it started snowing (no surprise there!), a light, fluffy, beautiful snow. It actually looks like the glittery sort of fake snow you see in the better store displays at Christmas. According to the weather forecast last night, this snow should push us over into the snowiest winter on record around here. It is supposed to keep up this morning and into the afternoon. More snow is predicted for Thursday, and it is not supposed to get above freezing for another week and a half. I am planning to go into Reedsburg for a meeting and some library work this morning, and Tom is hoping to visit a friend in New Lisbon this afternoon. It looks like both those trips will be possible. At least they aren't closing schools in the area, which means the roads are okay.

On the other hand, I finished an article I had been working on. Now I have to let it simmer for a few days and re-read it to see how it is. Although it is a spirituality article, I think I may not submit it to Spiritual Life, the Carmelite's quarterly. I will look around and try to place it with someone else. The problem is that most Catholic spirituality magazines have gone out of business over the past couple of decades, at least the ones that published articles of a more academic (scholarly?) tone. It is a credit to the Carmelites that they have not only been able to keep Spiritual Life going but that they keep it profitable. (Not that they or their authors are getting rich, mind you.) It consistently wins awards at the Catholic Press Association every year, too, because of the quality of the articles. Meanwhile similar magazines published by much larger and wealthier groups have folded their tents and disappeared.

I am also cleaning up the mystery and dusting it off for another attempt to get it published. Right now I have to finish a translation of a poem of John of the Cross, and then the revision will be done. The poem is well-known and there are lots of English translations, but if I do my own version, I don't have to fool with getting permissions and copyright notices and all that. Translating a poem is a challenge, though, so this may take a little while.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Tom kindly and patiently did my income taxes for me tonight. Even though I made just a bit more money last year, a higher percentage of my income this year came from my teaching job where they do not do any withholding. So instead of getting a couple of hundred back, as I had hoped, I wind up owing the federal government $29.

The taxes were actually simpler this year. Last year I had to file federal income tax AND Illinois income tax AND Wisconsin income tax. This year I was a full time Wisconsin resident, so I only have to file income tax for one state and I get to use a simpler form for the federal taxes. Last year I owed both Illinois and Wisconsin a little money. This year I owe Wisconsin $47.

So altogether, I owe the various governments $76.

Sigh. Get out the checkbook.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


No, not AusTIN, AusTEN. Jane Austen, that is.

Being snowed in so much has meant we are watching quite a few movies on DVD and on television. Somehow we seem to have fallen into a pattern of watching a series of dramatizations of Jane Austen novels on PBS. A couple of weeks ago we watched Mansfield Park, last week it was Sense and Sensibility and tonight Pride and Prejudice. They are very well done and fairly faithful to the books. Of course, they are all about the same thing in a way -- families with limited resources scheming to marry off their daughters, one of whom usually has more sense than everyone around her. (I know all Jane Austen fanatics would despise that synopsis, but that's what it seems like to a non-expert like me.)

I have seen a BBC production of Pride and Prejudice before, and a 2005 movie version garnered lots of Academy Award nominations. The one we are watching is the first two hours of a six-hour 1995 mini-series.

Lest you worry that this is all way too highbrow, Friday night we watched Brendan Fraser's The Mummy. David and Rebecca gave me a three-DVD set -- The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King -- for Christmas (or maybe it was for Hanukkah). Rebecca admitted they gave it to me because they wanted to watch it while they were here for the holidays. Tom had never seen it, so we watched the first one Friday and will probably see the next two during the ongoing winter lockdown. After that we may have to finish watching all the Agatha Christie/Hercule Poirot videos.

When cats go bad

I knew being cooped up in the house was getting to the cats ...

Snow and the arts

Minus 10, wind chill of minus thirty-five.

Okay, that's right now. The good news is that it is supposed to get up to just below zero later in the day. We aren't supposed to get above freezing, though, all week.

Yesterday we decided we had to get out of the house, but because of the weather, there were not many nearby options. Because the main claim to fame around here is the natural beauty, when it is cold, windy and snowy, those things are not so accessible to someone like me with tricky joints and sensitive to cold.The nearest indoor mall for walking is in Madison, about an hour away. And we may be going to Madison next weekend to attend a model train show that interests Tom.

I wanted to go to an art museum, but the only one close is in Portage, the Portage Center for the Arts, a small place in an old church building. They had an exhibit of watercolors by Helen R. Klebesadel, a Madison artist. There were some very nice (and very pricey) things, but I couldn't find a picture of any of the ones I liked to post here. Some of her things look almost Asian, and she had a gorgeous one of white peonies. At $350, it was one of the least expensive.

Friday, February 8, 2008

So many books, so little time!

Three of my books came in at the library: The Summa Teologica of Thomas Aquinas, Harold Bloom's book on the names of God and a Joan Hess mystery. Sunday is supposed to have a high of two degrees, so it will be a good day to stay in and read.

I am waiting on a couple of other things on interlibrary loan.

I wanted to order something on Welsh grammar because I just read that Welsh has words that are verb-nouns. The reference I found says that these are words that are both an action and a thing. The example (I won't bother you with the Welsh) would be something like "He headstands." We would say he does a headstand, where headstand would be a noun. Of course, there are lots of words in English that are used as nouns and verbs (name, jump, hit), but apparently this is not quite the same thing.

I am interested in how this works in Welsh and when, since not all Welsh verbs or nouns are like this. I understand that there is a similar grammatical structure in Chinese, but I'm not even going to think about going there.

It reminds me of an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin talks about how words that start out as nouns become verbs. The example he uses is access. Access used to be a noun -- you gained access to something -- but now it has become a verb -- you access something. Grammar freaks... well, they freak. Anyway, the punch line is "Verbing weirds language."

So true, so true.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Michael Dodd

The above map -- just stumbled across in on Google -- shows the distribution of "Michael Dodd"s across the United States, at least according to the listings on I note that there are none in Wisconsin -- but then, I just have a cell phone and don't have my name on a land line.

The most Michael Dodds are in Texas, including a Michael S. (and Deborah) in Sandia and a Michael S. (and Jamie) in Burnet.

I may have mentioned that at one time I lived only a few blocks from another Father Michael Dodd in Brighton, Massachusetts, and that led to some interesting confusion on the telephone.

There are a couple of Dodd families in the area, but they are either in Portage (over in Columbia County, where I worked for hospice) or down in the Sauk Prairie area in the southernmost part of Sauk County. No Michaels among them, at least not listed in the phone directory.

That handsome devil next to the lion is me at the Brookline monastery back in 1983 or 1984. I realize it is a dark print, but I couldn't lighten it up. As far as I recall, I had not been in a fight, so I don't think those are black eyes.


Happy Chinese New Year! It's the Year of the Rat, the year 4705 (4706, according to some) on their calendar.

I woke up early but stayed in bed until about 6:15 because I wasn't going to be able to do anything -- no breakfast, not even any coffee, not even take my medications except for the blood pressure. Finally decided I was not going to get back to sleep, so I got up, made my bed, took my blood pressure pills, petted the cats, fed the cats, petted the cats again, brushed my teeth and got together the things I needed to take with me to the hospital.

Tom got up not long afterwards and went out to shovel and snowblow. It seems that we got about eight to nine inches in this most recent "weather event", which is nothing compared to some places south of here that got up to twenty inches. With another four to six week potential snow weather ahead of us, we are already within a few inches of setting a record. To show that the human spirit remains undaunted, though, a 70-tear-old man went out into that storm and robbed a bank in Sauk Prairie.

Parts of the interstate south of Madison were closed and people were stranded for many hours. That makes my little stranded episode of ten or fifteen minutes on the way back from Texas pretty insignificant. I have a friend in Rhode Island who was stranded on the interstate overnight back in February of 1978. She only had to travel about five miles to get home from the school where she worked, but because she had gone around with one of the buses trying to get kids home, she got away quite late and was trapped. She spent the night with total strangers in their car. This is why we travel with sleeping bags, blankets, water and so on.

Anyway, the colonoscopy went well. In fact, the person scheduled ahead of me had to have a breathing treatment, so I was in and out faster than expected. This is my fourth one of these and the first one that I actually slept through. The results were fine. I have pictures, but I think I'll spare you the details. (Nope, no "YouTube at 11" on this one.)

For dinner Tom is making Chinese. I had hoped for his famous Firecracker Chicken, but the nurse told me to avoid spicy foods for the day. So he is planning something Chinese but not so fiery. Then he will head to Spring Green for his meeting (and hope the road is cleared) and I, unable to drive for the rest of the day, will stay home and read and pet the cats. The volume of Thomas Aquinas that I ordered from the library is there, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. Maybe by then the new Joan Hess mystery will also be in. I told you the librarians probably think I am weird when they look at the books I check out: philosophy, Bible, eastern religions, mysteries and cartoons.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Update on Chris

Last night Tom heard that his friend Chris Kimball -- the one with the bizarre and horrible cancer -- just had great news. They opened him up to see what needed to be done next, and they found no trace of anything. So he will not have to go through another battery of chemo and radiation or whatever. Needless to say, they will continue to monitor him closely, bu this is wonderful news for Chris, Linda and their kids. They have a wedding coming up this summer, I think, so now they can concentrate on that happy event without this other things hanging over them.

Wednesday's child

Ash Wednesday is traditionally a day of prayerful reflection and repentance. It is above all, however, as all days of worship are, a day of praise of God for mercy.

The opening verses sung at Mass (for those who are using the official text, anyway, which probably only happens in Rome or at seminaries, monasteries and cathedrals) are taken from the book of Wisdom (a beautiful ancient Jewish text similar to Psalms and Proverbs but not included in Protestant Bibles):
You are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook the sins of men and women so that they can repent. Yes, you love all that exists, your hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it. And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist, how be conserved if not called forth by you?
Wisdom 11: 24-26
For me today has been mainly a day of waiting.

Because of the way scheduling is done for surgery and surgical procedures in Baraboo, I was not told when my procedure would be -- just that it would be tomorrow. So that means I have had to stay by the telephone pretty much all day waiting for the nurse to call and give me the actual time to show up at the hospital.

Add to that the four to five inches of snow that we got yesterday evening and overnight plus more snow off and off during the day and my cabin fever is raging. I may not be quite as bad as the cats -- who continue to tear around the house like a herd of elephants -- but I know I am not in the best of moods.

Tom, who is trying to be patient with this process, was waiting to hear about the schedule, too, because he will have to take me to the hospital and then be available at the hospital to hear the doctor's report and to bring me home. (They threaten to not do the colonoscopy if no one is there with you, although I am sure he can wander in and out a bit.) So that will tie him down for about three hours, and he was hoping to make it to one of his various meetings. He needed to know if that will be impossible so that he could notify the others if he wasn't going to be there.

A little before two, Kim called from St. Clare to go over the preparatory procedures again and tell me to check in at 9:55 a.m. Thursday morning. Even though it was still snowing, the worst of the storm is supposed to be over, so I guess they are not canceling anything. That means I will be back home in my own cozy little space cuddling with the cats by two and Tom will easily be able to make it to his meeting down in Spring Green.

The day has not been entirely wasted, of course. I wrote a letter to the newly elected Carmelite Provincial this morning. John Sullivan was Provincial before when I was Prior at Holy Hill, but I don't think any of the Dodds ever met him. Actually I wrote most of a letter to congratulate him on his election and to bring him up to date on my situation. I am waiting until Friday to complete it so I can include the results of my colonoscopy. (As far as the church is concerned, I am still a priest and a member of the Discalced Carmelites and that makes John my religious superior. Although they are not responsible for me in any way or I to them, as a courtesy I try to keep them informed.)

I also did my meditation and spent some time pondering an article that I am working on. I have ordered some books through interlibrary loan to help with this project, but nothing has come in yet. I am finding some good stuff on the internet, but when I am reading long texts (hundreds of pages), I'd rather do it with a book in hand.

I also sent out a brief article to another magazine for consideration. It feels good to send something out, even though most of them come back again ... Actually, I have a good record of getting my "inspirational" and more academic things published. Still no luck with fiction, though. As I told Fr. John in my letter, I think my storytelling skills are lacking.

I also did the important things -- cleaned out the litter boxes, fed the cats, petted the cats, talked to the cats, bowed down and worshiped the cats. (Well, not so much that last one, even though I know it would make their day.)

And, of course, there was the preparation stuff, but we won't talk about that. If the words "Go Lightly" mean nothing to you at this point in your life, be happy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mardi Gras cats

Since Vince is the only one in the family besides me who is Catholic, the rest of the Dodds may not realize it is Mardi Gras. I realized today that I am many miles from New Orleans. When I said, "Happy Mardi Gras!" to a couple of people (one of whom is a devout Catholic and knows tomorrow is Ash Wednesday) they looked at me like I had wished them a Happy Brishnapuparnipal. I guess it is hard to think Mardi Gras when there is a three-foot groundcover of snow...

But the residents of The Lodge on Berry Road celebrated in our own ways.

Cassidy has been acting weird about her food lately (the "Sniff, sniff, I think I'll just bury this" approach), so Tom suggested we open a can of tuna. I set out a dish for each cat, and they promptly and eagerly lapped up all the disgusting tuna juice and ate none of the tuna. Later in the afternoon when Cassidy got all demanding, I put down her leftover tuna and she dug in. While she was still eating, Sundance came in from outside and began licking her paws. I set her tuna down and she dug in, too. Immediately Cassidy stopped eating hers and went over to stare at Sundance. I warned them to behave, and there was no fight. But they are such cats!

As for the humans, since coming back from Texas I have been trying to get onto the low glycemic diet the doctor gave me. As one way in, I have been faithfully following the South Beach Diet (Phase One) as a transition. Plenty of food, but BORING! I'm not doing it to lose weight so much as to adjust to the different approach to eating. That is a two-week thing, ending today fortunately.

Tomorrow, of course, I have the colonoscopy prep, which means Jello and broth. And it's Ash Wednesday, so it is a day for fast and abstinence anyway. Trying to figure out something appropriate for Mardi Gras, I decided to make the Texas Frito Pie I had failed to make when Peter was here. I figure it would never be on any diet whatsoever, but after all, Mardi Gras comes but once a year. And a nun in New Orleans used to assure me that you couldn't make a good Lent if you didn't have a good Mardi Gras. So that was what we had.

Meanwhile, the winter storm alert is back on and it is snowing lightly as I write. We can expect anywhere from four to fourteen inches before it ends tomorrow afternoon. I told Tom, "I am now officially tired of this."

"You say that about this time every year."

Well, DUH!

BTW, Snowgo the Possum was back late this afternoon, scarfing up scraps around the feeder.

"No Time At All"

One of my friends from Chicago, now living in Ohio, recently fell in love. Steve is just a bit younger than I am, a man who has lived through a failed marriage, major financial and health difficulties, and a painful foray into studying for the ordained ministry for the Lutheran church that he loves. A combination of circumstances -- age, health and financial -- led to disappointment there, although he still occasionally gets invitations to serve as a lay preacher. Preaching, clearly, is what he likes best.
I am amazed at how many former Lutheran seminarians and now-Lutheran ministers I know. Of course, the Lutheran School of Theology was only two blocks from the monastery in Chicago, and I spent so much time in various churches around the University of Chicago -- Lutheran, American Baptist, United Church of Christ, interdenominational -- that I know lots of seminarians and divinity students from lots of groups.
Steve was one of the people who generously pitched in when Tom and I finished moving stuff up here, and he is the one person who made the four-hundred-mile round trip from and to Chicago to help us unload. He lives in Ohio now in order to be of support -- financial as well as personal -- to his sister and brother-in-law who face major challenges of their own. So that gives you an idea of the sort of guy he is. (He is also quite active working with the local DeMolay group, Daddy. For the Dodds who might not know, that's the Masonic group for young men.)

Anyway, Steve has been lonely and I think resigned to the idea that at this point in his life, lonely was the hand that was dealt him and lonely he would have to play it. As it turns out, God seems to have had other plans for him.

He found this video of a song from the musical Pippin, sung by Irene Ryan (you older folks at least will recognize her) that expresses some of how he feels today. I thought you might enjoy it.

In case your computer won't let you listen when you click on the arrow below, the lyrics to the full song (a bit different from Granny's version) can be found below.

When you are as old as I, my dear
And I hope that you never are
You will woefully wonder why, my dear
Through your cataracts and catarrh
You could squander away or sequester
A drop of a precious year
For when your best days are yester
The rest'er twice as dear....

What good is a field on a fine summer night
When you sit all alone with the weeds?
Or a succulent pear if with each juicy bite
You spit out your teeth with the seeds?
Before it's too late stop trying to wait
For fortune and fame you're secure of
For there's one thing to be sure of, mate:
There's nothing to be sure of!

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

I've never wondered if I was afraid
When there was a challenge to take
I never thought about how much I weighed
When there was still one piece of cake
Maybe it's meant the hours I've spent
Feeling broken and bent and unwell
But there's still no cure more heaven-sent
As the chance to raise some hell

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

Now when the drearies do attack
And a siege of "the sads" begins
I just throw these regal shoulders back
And lift these noble chins

Give me a man who is handsome and strong
Someone who's stalwart and steady
Give me a night that's romantic and long
And give me a month to get ready -
Now I could waylay some aging roue'
And persuade him to play in some cranny
But it's hard to believe I'm being led astray
By a man who calls me granny

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

Sages tweet that age is sweet
Good deeds and good work earns you laurels
But what could make you feel more obsolete
Than being noted for your morals?

Here is a secret I never have told
Maybe you'll understand why
I believe if I refuse to grow old
I can stay young till I die
Now, I've known the fears of sixty-six years
I've had troubles and tears by the score
But the only thing I'd trade them for
Is sixty-seven more....

Oh, it's time to keep livin'
Time to keep takin' from this world we're given
You are my time, so I'll throw off my shawl
And watching your flings be flung all over
Makes me feel young all over
In just no time at all....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Pogo in the snow

Tom went out for a hike along the river with Debbie Kinder this morning, something they try to do pretty regularly, weather permitting. Not long after he left it began to snow pretty steadily, but it lasted less than an hour and probably accumulated just about a couple of inches.

I stayed in and worked on an article that I have about two-thirds done. I read a bit in a book for Christians about Judaism and listened to a bit of the audio version of A Separate Peace by John Knowles. It's a coming-of-age novel, along the lines of Catcher in the Rye, and it was very popular when I was working at Bookland during college. It's probably more enjoyable to read it when you are eighteen or twenty.

Tom told me that a major winter storm may be coming Tuesday evening and into Wednesday, with snow accumulations of up to nine inches. Of course, my colonoscopy is Thursday. They are supposed to call on Wednesday to tell me when to come in, so if the weather is too bad, I suppose they will just reschedule. I looked at another weather report that was only predicting a 30% chance of snow showers, so I decided not to worry about it. I'd certainly rather get it over and done. As those of you old enough to have had to do this, the procedure is uncomfortable but not horrible. The preparation, on the other hand, is a bummer. I certainly don't want to go through all that and have them cancel out on me because of snow! I'm not sure I want to go through that two weeks in a row. At any rate, about 1:30 the winter storm watch for Tuesday and Wednesday was removed, so I guess that excitement is over.

Meanwhile a possum found its way to the base of the bird feeder after lunch and has been munching merrily away on the hulls and scattered seeds in the snow there. Ugly critters, even if Pogo was a favorite of mine once upon a time. I put Cassidy on the window ledge and tried to convince her that it was a big mouse, but she was unimpressed. When she asked to go out on the deck, I opened the door, she peeked out at the possum and came back in. Pogo, meanwhile, glanced over once and went back to eating. He's certainly not scared of any of our Thundercats.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Doggie doings

Mama told me I shouldn't post things about Texas that will make people make fun of the Lone Star State. So I want you to be sure and read all of this post to see that I am actually making fun of the shared (or at least connected) weirdness of Texas and Wisconsin. I mention that because the first part is kind of longish...
A small-town mayor accused of secretly keeping her neighbors' dog after telling them the pet died has resigned, and a judge is set to decide custody of the Shih Tzu.

Grace Saenz-Lopez apologized Friday to Alice residents and said she believed her actions were in the dog's best interest.

A neighboring family accuses Saenz-Lopez of refusing to return the dog after leaving it in her care while they went on vacation. A day after her neighbors left, Saenz-Lopez called to tell them Puddles had died.

Three months later, a relative of the neighbors saw the pet at a dog groomer. When Saenz-Lopez refused to return the dog, the family filed a criminal complaint and a civil lawsuit against her.

Homero Canales, who represents Saenz-Lopez, has said his client believed the dog would die if returned to her neighbors.

Saenz-Lopez, the city's mayor since 2003, was indicted Jan. 18 on two felony counts of tampering with evidence and concealing evidence.

Those charges came after Saenz-Lopez filed a police report claiming the dog was missing. The dog was later spotted at the home of Saenz-Lopez's twin sister, in Ben Bolt, about 10 miles from Alice.

City commissioners voted unanimously last week for a resolution urging Saenz-Lopez to resign. Mayor Pro-Tem Juan Rodriguez will take over mayoral duties.

Okay, now the Wisconsin connection. The Sheryl Albers mentioned in the following section is from neighboring Reedsburg:
A Wisconsin legislator wants state law to govern how divorced couples handle custody disputes — over their pets. ... After sniffing around the bill’s provisions, several divorce attorneys were trying to decide whether to growl or wag their tails.
Albers hasn’t said much about why she introduced the bill, but members of a McFarland family said that Albers has personal reasons — a messy divorce that involved Albers’ husband and a Labrador retriever mix named Sammi. Albers also pushed another bill related to that divorce.
In 2003, [Albers's now-husband's] divorce was finalized. The divorce included wrangling over who would have to care for and pay for their dog. The dispute arose, she said, because neither [his then-spouse] nor Anders, who married Albers this year, wanted the aging dog, but their three children did. Sammi [the dog] died in February at 16.

Albers introduced her bill [in June.].


As part of the divorce, Dane County Circuit Judge Sarah O’Brien ordered that Sammi go with the children as they split time between Symons’ and Anders’ residences...

Albers wasn’t happy with the judge’s decision and told the children she didn’t like the long, messy hair shed by the dog...

In a statement, Albers responded, “Individuals who are parental alienators or engage in controlling behavior of spouses or children sometimes use family pets to exercise control. That is inappropriate.”
So one politician is protecting a dog from potential (unspecified) harm, and the other one is bummed out because she was expected to deal with a dog that belonged to her husband's children by a previous marriage. At least the mayor of Alice didn't drag the state legislature into it! I also note that the poor man who married Ms. Albers refused to comment on the whole episode.To the best of my knowledge -- and remember that I worked for divorce lawyers -- the legislature didn't pass any pet custody statute.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


When Wisconsin has delivered too many sub-zero days and too many inches of snow to make it possible for Sundance and Cassidy to go outside to do their business, to sharpen their claws on the deck railing and generally burn off some energy prowling, they go stir crazy. They turn into middle-aged somewhat pudgy incarnations of the late-1980's animated Thundercats.
I call them this not because of their lightning speed and agility but because of the incredible amount of noise they make rushing around the house and up and down the stairs to the basement. Cassidy even makes noise trotting across the carpet in my bedroom!
Cassidy becomes the Mistress of Mayhem, Sundance is the Terror of Tiny Toys. Together the Furious Feline Fighters for Freedom tear around the floor, slipping and sliding as their claws -- grown a bit too long without the natural wear and tear of outside -- click and clack in a futile effort to get a grip on the laminate. Sundance slides into the side of the bookcase, and Cassidy trips into the chair under which the elusive fuzzy blue ball has hidden.

Kinda entertaining, actually. Especially when they pick themselves up and try to look disdainful at mere humans who don't realize that what may have looked like clumsiness was exactly what they had in mind all along.

Friday, February 1, 2008


I got my job at Bookland in Huntsville when I was a senior in high school. Mrs. Slater hired me because I hung out there all the time with her daughter Holly, whom I dated off and on. One day when registration was in chaotic progress and we were underfoot as usual, she said, "As long as you two are here, get to work." So she set us up in her office going over the cash register slips to sort out the various purchases. In those pre-computer days, all the register did was print a letter beside the purchase indicating if it was for a trade book, a textbook, a Bible (tax exempt) or something else. So we went through yards of cash register tape adding up all the A's and B's and so on. For the glorious sum of $1 an hour!

That turned into a weekend job, then a full time job that summer before I went off to Michigan State in the fall. MSU started later than Sam Houston, so I was able to stay and work the chaos of registration in the new store that I had helped move into. I loved that job, and it was waiting for me when I came home for Christmas and spring breaks and for the summer.

Today I started as a volunteer at the Kilbourn Public Library in the Dells. I hang out there so much I thought I should get to work. I was surprised Norma Slater hadn't wandered by and put me to doing something already. I worked for a couple of hours this afternoon, processing books that were to go out on interlibrary loan (a surprising number), checking the shelves for books that had been missing from last November's inventory (found only one) and cutting up scrap paper for ... well, scrap paper.

I enjoyed it and plan to do a couple of hours every Friday afternoon until gainfully employed doing something else.

On another note, this morning when I went to dump my cold coffee into the sink, what to my wondering eyes should appear but the pileated woodpecker hanging on the bird feeder and pecking away at one of the suet boxes. I called Tom who was able to get a photograph. The pileated has been hanging around a lot lately, and I think now that he knows how to make the birdfeeder work, he will be around even more.