Saturday, October 31, 2009

All saints

On November 1, some Christians celebrate a feast in honor of all the holy ones who have gone before us into the Mystery beyond death. By "holy ones" they do not mean those who are officially called saints by the church, but those whom God has made holy, known or unknown.

David Erb, a Presbyterian minister friend of mine, told me once that he preached only one sermon for funerals. Basing himself on John 14:2, David said, "We know nothing about what lies beyond death except what the only person who ever went there and came back has told us -- in our Father's house, there is lots of room."

I guess there is a lesson there for all of us.

Happy feast!
Children who ride the train during October get a free pumpkin. Usually these are the busiest days of the year for us, although we are only open weekends -- and Columbus Day, which is a school holiday up here. The kids like the free pumpkin and the parents like the colors this time of year. But as I have mentioned before, weather, economy and flu have hurt us badly this year.

Still, hardy folks and bundled up kids show up. We had about 20 on the first train this morning in the damp and chill.

Wisconsin folks are used to it!

Friday, October 30, 2009

And just to prove that staying home sick gives me waaaay too much free time ...

My friend John is a big Packers fan and his catch phrase is, "It's all good." This is not a photo of John, but it would be perfect if it were.

More on books

The updated history I did for the friars at Holy Hill is now available apparently. I noticed these two things on their gift shop web page:

"This booklet looks back on the historic beginnings of Holy Hill, the first settlers, pilgrims, priests and Carmelite friars who were assigned here, the land, the first buildings, the current ones, and the features therein. Includes answers to frequently asked questions and a time-line of events in the history here. Includes black & white and color images. Contains sixty four 5.25" x 8" pages." $6.95

"Holy Hill has a new and exciting pictorial "coffee table" book covering all what people discover when they come here. Forward by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. With 150 detailed color pictures (many of them full page)it answers questions like: How did Holy Hill begin? Who are the Carmelites? What is the story in each stained glass image? "Inside" are skillfully displayed photos bringing out the treasure of beauty and history that is Holy Hill. Now, to those of you who preferred a book instead of the video, this is for you, and thanks for your patience!" $28.95
I think my version is the one in the booklet, not the coffee table book.

Thank you, Mrs. Calabash, whoever you are!

Someone bought a copy of my mystery yesterday. No idea who it was, but thanks go out to them.

The title of the post is a pop reference to the way comedian Jimmy Durante used to close his shows. Who was she? According to Wikipedia -- as we all realize, NOT a totally reliable source -- here's the scoop:
Durante's radio show was bracketed with two trademarks: "Inka Dinka Doo" as his opening theme, and the invariable signoff that became another familiar national catchphrase: "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are." For years Durante preferred to keep the mystery alive, but eventually relented.

One theory was that the phrase referred to the owner of a restaurant in Calabash, North Carolina, where Jimmy and his troupe stopped once to eat. He was so taken by the food, the service, and the chitchat that Jimmy told the owner that he would make her famous. Not knowing her name he instead referred to her as "Mrs. Calabash".

Another theory was that it was his personal salute to his late first wife, Jeanne Olsen, whom he married on June 19, 1921. She died on Valentine's Day in 1943. "Calabash" may have been a typical Durante mangle of Calabasas, the Southern California locale where the couple made their home for the last years of her life.

At a National Press Club meeting in 1966 (broadcast on NBC's Monitor program), Durante revealed that it was indeed a tribute to the first Mrs. Durante. One time while driving across the country, they stopped in a small town called Calabash, which Mrs. Durante loved. He recalled the town as being near Chicago. "Mrs. Calabash" became his private pet name for her, so years later he came to sign off his radio program with "Good night, Mrs. Calabash." He added "...wherever you are" after the first year.
As for those of you who are too young to even know who Jimmy Durante was, I will let you look that one up on your own.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My friend Noni often sends me "You know you are a Texan if ..." lists. Today Peggy (or Rich?), our neighbor across the street, sent me a list about Wisconsin that I thought I would share with you. Enjoy!

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March,
You might live in Wisconsin.

If someone in a store offers you assistance & they don't work there,
You might live in Wisconsin.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead,
You might live in Wisconsin.

If you have ever worn shorts and a parka at the same time,
You might live in Wisconsin.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches,
You might live in Wisconsin.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number,
You might live in Wisconsin.


1. Vacation means going up north on Hwy 39.

2. You measure distance in hours.

3. You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

4.. You often switch from heat to AC in the same day and back again.

5. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching

6.. You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings).

7. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

8. You carry jumper cables in your car and know how to use them.

9. You design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

10. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

11. You know all 5 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, road construction, and It's Hot.

12. Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce.

13. Down south means Illinois to you.

14. A brat is something you eat..

15. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole shed.

16. You go out to a tailgate party every Friday.

17. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

18. You find 0 degrees a "little chilly."

19. You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Wisconsin friends. (What's not to understand?)

On the banks of the Wisconsin river ...

Well, not the river banks really. Just wanted to bring you up to date on the banking saga:

They finally got everything straightened out and the various bits of money where they belong.

In the process of making sure this was all done, though, I discovered that Tom had used the debit card for the joint account but had failed to let me know or give me the receipt. When I asked, he confirmed the purchase and now all is as it should be.

I use my Discover card for most purchases, but Tom prefers to use his debit card. Which is fine, but since I now keep the checkbook and register for the joint account, I need to know when he uses that card. Eventually it will become a habit for him to save the receipts and pass them along. Until then, I'll just keep an eye on things online.

It reminds me a bit of the way Daddy used to just take a handful of checks from the checkbook and then tell Mama what he had used them for. If he remembered. There was the famous instance when I was at Michigan State and he took checks from my checkbook instead and I wound up overdrawn. Because he wasn't sure how much he had written on my account, he just put a lot of money in. I think I made a profit on that deal!

Meanwhile I am still under the weather, which is supposed to be rainy and in the 50s (10-15 C) all day. Just as well. Sounds like a good day to stay indoors and read.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The picture has nothing to do with the post. [Or is it the other way around?]

Just wanted to take a moment to say what a great guy Tom is. I woke up feeling icky and running a subnormal temperature, which stayed below normal all day, even dipping a bit. So Tom offered to go to my district meeting to drop off the treasurer's report and let them know I am under the weather.

On top of that, he made me chicken noodle soup. Okay, he started with a mix, but he put real chicken and other stuff in it, so it was waaay better than fast food, as the Wendy's folks say. At any rate, Tom was raised Jewish, so chicken soup was inevitable, I guess.
The cartoon below has nothing to do with this post or anything in particular. I just ran across it again recently (I used in on another blog I once had) and wanted to post it. It is from a series by Doug Savage, who has been doing these cartoons -- each drawn on a single post-it note -- for over four years. I find them funny and, as is this one, often worth more thought.

Paranoia runs deep

Why does Twitter say that 21 people follow me on Twitter? Who are these people? I went through and blocked 80% of them -- all trying to sell me something, I guess.

And why do I get requests for Friend status on Facebook from people I do not know and who, as far as I can tell, with whom I have no mutual friends or other connection (e.g., Huntsville High School and so on)?

It seems a bit creepy that people I don't even know are out there peeking into my Twitter conversations.

Careful what you say, dudes and dudettes!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just a note (not a bank note this time)

When balancing my own checkbook yesterday, I discovered I had just received a (small) royalty check for books sold. That was a nice surprise. I just checked my account with CreateSpace, though, and there has been little activity this month. So probably not even a small check in November.

On the other hand, I am making some progress with the new book. In fact, the beginning is starting to stretch out quite a bit. I can see the need for massive editing before it is ready to publish.

Banking daze

Recently Tom and I opened a joint checking account, out of which we will pay shared expenses and so on. (We each maintain our own personal checking accounts as well.) It has been an interesting experience. Without going into all the details, here is the latest adventure.

Yesterday I went in to close out my money market account (which is drawing practically no interest these days anyway) and transfer the money therein to the joint account for my contribution thus far. The bank had just moved to a "new system" -- that dread reality in the computer-controlled world of today -- and they said it would take a while for them to figure it out. Actually the teller was very friendly and helpful, as were the three other people, including her supervisor, who came over to figure out how to do this. The account was closed, the money transferred and they promised me that the joint account would now show up on my internet banking page so that I could transfer money back and forth and so on.

Oh yeah! They had discovered that they had no signature card for Tom and me on this account, so I signed one and took it home for Tom to sign and return to them later in the day. Just another little thing ...

This morning when I checked my internet banking page, I discovered that the money market account was still listed, only now it showed me owing the bank $35.00. There had been a $10 fee for closing the account and transferring the funds. (That I knew, since I had recorded it carefully in my own check register.) Apparently what happened was ...

They transferred all the money to the joint account.
Then they closed the money market account, leaving it with a $0.00 balance.
The computer then took out the $10.00 service charge from the (supposedly closed) money market account. Since there was no money there, they then charged me $25.00 for an overdraft fee on top of the $10.00 service charge.

I printed all this out and took it over to straighten it out. They assured me that they had already found the error this morning and had sent a fax off to straighten it out. I left, somewhat (only somewhat) reassured.

I went off to do other business and then logged onto my computer a couple of hours later to see what it showed.

The internet banking page is unavailable while they are doing "routine maintenance."

In the middle of a business day, they shut down their online banking (which they advertise as a great thing they offer) to do routine maintenance?

I just hope when I check back later all is as it should be.

TOM, BTW, has done his major banking for many years with another bank with a branch in Reedsburg. It would not be as convenient as this one just down the road, but we may wind up moving everything over there at some point.

Meanwhile, I am paying bills out of the joint account and keeping very careful records.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Parables of Yeshua ben Yosef

Many have undertaken to compile a collection of sayings by the late Yeshua ben Yosef, precisely as those sayings have been repeated to us by hearers of the word. I too have carefully traced the sayings down, and have decided to set in writing for you, O Theophoboumenos, those that seem to have been omitted by others so that Your Beatitude may see how incomplete the instruction was that you received.

Yeshua said,
A king gave a feast to celebrate the wedding of his son. He sent invitations to all the powerful and wealthy people of his kingdom, but when the time came for the feast, they all sent excuses. One said, “I have to lead a protest outside a Planned Parenthood Office and cannot come. Pray, hold me excused.”

Another said, “I have joined a Family Defense League and cannot come. Please excuse me.”

Yet a third said, “I am organizing a letter-writing campaign to the FCC to protest the Disney Channel’s surrender to the gay agenda by including the lyrics 'We’re All in This Together' in that high school musical movie, the one with all those boys dancing. I cannot come.”

When the servants returned with these messages the king was sorely grieved, and he looked with sorrow at his son whose wedding feast would be without guests.

But, lo, his son said unto him, “Do not be sad, Royal Father, for your kingdom is surely larger than just the powerful and the wealthy. Let us invite the people who love you and who will put your feast ahead of their own plans.”

This met with the king’s approval, and he sent messengers throughout the land to invite all who would to come to the feast. They went into bars and libraries, into discount outlets and Laundromats, into coffee shops and burger joints, inviting all who could to come to the feast.

All the people heard the invitation, and some said, “I had planned to go out dancing that night, but who could refuse an invitation from a king as good ours? Of course, I will come and maybe I will even dance.”

Others said, “I was going to visit my aged parents that night, but perhaps they would like to come, too, if I give them a ride. We will be happy to come.”

Yet others said, “My friends and I had intended to go on a pub crawl in Boys Town, but we will be happy to party with a king. We will come.”

When the doors were opened to the banquet hall, the poor, the unwanted, the disabled, the confused, the alcoholic, the addicts, the computer nerds and the old were all there. And the waiters began to seat them.

But the head waiter was afraid there would not be enough room or enough food. And he thought that this might embarrass the king and his son, so he began to look nervously at the crowd at the door. Finally making up his mind, he instructed the waiters at the door to separate those who were arriving and to only allow the best looking, the more prosperous and the better dressed into the feast.

The waiters said, “But the king has invited all of these people. Will he not be angry if we refuse to admit them?”

And the head waiter said, “The king is a good and kindly man, but we know what is best. It makes him feel good to invite this large crowd, but then he doesn’t think about how hard it will be to serve them all, how much mess there will be to clean up and that some of them really have no idea how to behave properly and will ruin everything for the rest of us. We are just saving him the trouble by taking this burden on ourselves.”

And he insisted that the waiters separate out the crowd.

As the feast continued, the king wandered among his guests, talking with them and beaming that they had come to honor his son.

“How good my people are,” he pointed out to his son. “See how many have come to your feast?”

“They are truly a happy people whose king you are, Royal Father,” the son replied. “But what about those who are not here?”

“Oh,” his father brushed those aside. ”They all had legitimate excuses. They are going about doing good.”

“I don’t mean those,” his son said, “I mean those who are hanging about outside the palace.”

The king looked out the window and saw that there was a crowd outside. They were old, they were oddly dressed, they leaned on crutches and walkers. Some of the men had glitter in their hair and some of the women wore flannel shirts. Many were speaking strange languages and others were staring off at nothing.

“But who are these people?” he asked his son.

“They are your people, too” the son answered.

“Why were they not invited?” the king demanded.

“They were,” his son told him, “but they were not allowed in. Your waiters thought they would be too much trouble and that you would not really want them. So to save you from embarrassment and discomfort, they screened them out.”

”All are welcome,” said his father. “All are WELCOME!” he roared.

And he went and opened the doors himself and led the crowds inside. And when the head waiter looked aghast, the father went and seated him at a table and brought him food and drink.

“For no one,” he said to his son, “shall be excluded – not even those who would exclude others.”

Critter sightings

It has been almost a year since I saw one of the albino squirrels that haunted the intersection of Berry Road and Birchwood. A week or so back, Peter mentioned he had seen one, and my hopes went back up. Now I have seen one twice in as many days, scampering around the mound septic system in the yard of the folks who live at the intersection. It is one of my favorite critters around here. Now I wish I could see one of them beside one of the pitch black squirrels that are all over the place in Reedsburg.

Near Reedsburg is an elk ranch, but the elk are not often in the pasture beside the road that I drive on. This past week, though, I have twice caught sight of one with antlers. It is not as impressive as this photo, but still -- an actual, living elk!

Other than that, just the usual sightings of wild turkeys and sand hill cranes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


My friend Steve Flower put me onto this, so I post it here for those who may not have seen it yet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It is not the kind of day to sit out under a tree and write. Not unless you want to get your laptop all wet and soggy and your fingers all cold and wrinkly.

Nonetheless, I did get some good writing on the new mystery this morning while at the library. One of those days when it starts to flow.

A nun once asked John of the Cross where he got his poetry. He said, "Sometimes they are given to me. Other times I have to look for them."

It is nice when they are given.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tom has been busy with lots of things, and so I decided that I would take over one of his usual jobs by cooking a simple dinner tonight, something suitable for a cold and gray day. I went with a chicken corn chowder (I admit I just dressed up a commercial soup with some leftover chicken and other stuff), and thought I would dress it up even more by making cornbread. I know, I know -- way heavy on the starches, but it was a day that cried out for comfort food.

But when I tried to preheat the oven -- no preheat, no heat, no nothing. The range works fine, gas comes out, little flames lick the bottom of the pan. The oven -- zilch.

So no cornbread. No huge loss, but I am disappointed.

Worse, Tom called to get a repairman out tomorrow and -- you know the rest of the story, right? At some point tomorrow, maybe, they will be here. Tom has a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day up in Mauston, so I get to babysit the house and wait for the repairdude or -dudette.

Maybe it will be fine and they will show up early. Whatever. It's supposed to rain anyway.

At least the chowder tasted pretty good.
On another note ...

My friend Barry has MS. This past weekend his sons put together a golf tournament in his honor and raised about $6500 for MS research. It was such a success they are thinking about making it an annual event. Such a creative way to honor a great guy and to help others at the same time.

Congratulations, Barry!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.

Okay, it's a sunny Monday, quite nice, may even go up to 60 degrees (15.5 C). Tom and I are going to make a Madison run in a few minutes to look for some things I need for a Christmas project for the R&GN. I went by there earlier and found the nine dollars that had been missing in the registers yesterday. So it is starting off to be a good day in many ways. With the sun, the foliage should make for a pretty drive, especially if we take the winding route down Highway 12.

I have, however, heard several bits of sad news over the weekend about people's health and other stuff, all of it too personal to them for me to share here. But sad, nonetheless. So if you have a spare prayer to share for someone you don't know, feel free. In the monastery we called these "special intentions" when we did not (need to) know details.

I am glad it is a sunny day. I need one.

I hope your day is sunny inside, no matter what the weather is like outdoors.

Friday, October 16, 2009

One last fest ...

In one last gasp to get a few more tourist dollars into the local economy, Wisconsin Dells has its Harvest Fest this weekend. It does look like the weather may be decent for the first weekend this month. Not perfect, mind you -- partly cloudy and a high of 49 (9.4 C). But that is better than the sub-freezing temperatures and scattered snow flakes we saw last weekend and part of this week.

I will be at the railroad, of course, but today I helped set up for the library's last book sale of the year. We do a sale at the beginning of the season around Memorial Day, one in September at the end of the summer and then a final wrap up at this October event to clean out what is left over from the other sales. I worked mainly putting out the older and "rare" books for a few hours this morning. None of them are what I would call rare, and many of them are old but I cannot imagine anyone buying them. For example, we had lots of dental books that are woefully out of date but not old enough to be antiques.

At any rate, the weather should bring us better business at the railroad than last weekend. Over the three-day Columbus Day weekend in 2008, we did more than twice what we did this Columbus Day weekend. Weather, the economy and the flu (schools were closed in the Dells due to flu last week -- widely publicized and probably discouraging tourists from visiting) pretty much did us in this time around.

Tom's eye continues to improve. He says he is now seeing the world with unnatural clarity.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cataract survivor

For those of you who don't follow all this on Facebook or Twitter or Tom's own blog, the surgery went well and the doctor said this morning during the follow-up appointment that it looks perfect. Thanks for the prayers, thoughts, positive vibes, whatever you contributed.

Tom hopes the scratchiness that remains will disappear in the next day or two, the doctor having said it usually only lasts 48 to 72 hours.

I got him a pirate's patch to wear to look dapper, but I don't know if he will actually give it a shot. (He is, on the other hand, a huge Johnny Depp fan.) If I can get one, I'll try to post a photo.
PS -- Saw a small fox (or vixen) run out of a cornfield on the way back from Baraboo yesterday. That's it for the critter report.

Let nothing disturb you

Today is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, who founded the Discalced Carmelites in 1562 (nuns) and 1568 (friars). Happy feast to all the Carmelites today.

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God does not change.
Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
These lines were found on a note in Teresa's breviary when she died. It is not certain that she composed them herself, but they have come to be associated with her.

BTW, Teresa is going to be a major character in the mystery I am diligently making no progress on. She was a great writer, so ... St. Teresa, pray for me!

PS -- Chance of snow showers Friday and Saturday mornings. And, yes, it is mid-October here, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wet Wisconsin Wednesday morning

Thanks to all those who were thinking about Tom and his surgery this morning. We drove up in a light rain in the dark and got to the hospital before they even opened the doors. (Tom must be related to Daddy.) Things went well by all reports. The follow-up tomorrow morning -- at the more reasonable hour of 9:00 AM -- will no doubt confirm that all is still well.

On the drive home I (Tom was sitting back with his eyes closed) saw two pairs of male pheasants along the road. Beautiful birds!

Tom is in bed resting as is Peter. Peter seems to be coming down with something, but at least there was no fever last night. We will see.

I may take a late morning nap -- such a decadent delight! -- before heading to my library meeting and to Baraboo to pay a bill.

And that's about it for now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Within sight

Tom's cataract surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning in Mauston at 7:30, and they want him there at 6:15. So we will be heading up there around 5:00 AM or so. Maybe they want him to travel in the dark to help dilate the eye. Who knows?

At any rate, the good news is that -- assuming that all goes well, and there is no reason to doubt that it will -- we should be out of the hospital and on the way back home mid-morning. With luck, I will even be able to attend an afternoon Friends of the Library meeting for the first time since last spring. I do my volunteering on a day off, but the Friends meet on a day I worked all summer.

Anyway, here's hoping for clear vision and a speedy recovery for Tom. He won't be able to do much of anything for a while, which will drive him crazy, I know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The only requirement

Thinking of Father Damien reminded me of a blog I used to have that was dedicated in its own way to him. I deleted it from the blogosphere eventually, but I kept a couple of posts that I liked. Here is one of them:
Among the many blessings in my life has been the presence of people in recovery programs. My father was never in one himself, but he taught my brother and me the Serenity Prayer when we were quite young. He said it came from Alcoholics Anonymous, but ours was not a drinking family, so that didn't register much. But other important people have been in The Program. Starting back when I was a seminarian with a spiritual director and a confessor who were recovering alcoholics to today when I have friends who are in recovery from addictions to drugs, spending, pornography, overeating, gambling and sex. Some of my students were in recovery, and I learned far more from them about life than I think I ever taught them.

Not all of them participated in one of the gazillion Twelve-Step Programs based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the things I learned is that AA doesn't claim to be the only solution to alcoholism. It just says it has worked for its members, and it makes available what they have learned to anyone who is interested in hearing about it. They have an absolute aversion to taking money for it, too. [That alone makes me wonder when I read that Twelve-Step Spirituality is a truly American spiritual tradition.]

Most of us have heard of the Twelve Steps, even if we don't know what they are. There are also organizational rules (if you can call anything about AA a rule, or even call it an organization itself) that are called the Twelve Traditions. The word tradition is intentional. Not Twelve Commandments or Twelve Ordinances or Twelve Laws or Twelve Decrees. Twelve traditions -- that is, the way things have been done and handed down. Not from God, just from previous generations. A big part of the study of the Traditions is an explanation of why each one exists. Often this consists of a story about a really good idea that proved to be not so great. So the Tradition arose to keep that lesson alive. One friend told me that the Steps -- how the person in recovery lives life -- keep alcoholics from killing themselves. The Traditions -- how the group operates -- keep alcoholics from killing one another.

If you don't already know, take a moment and look at this list. What do you think the one requirement is?

1) To stop drinking one day at a time
2) To attend meetings regularly
3) To practice the Twelve Steps under the guidance of a sponsor
4) To admit you are an alcoholic
5) To accept the basic principles of recovery as set out in the official literature

Well, which one? If you know much about recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, you know that they make a big deal of doing it one day at a time, of the need to attend meetings, of the role of an experienced person in helping you make the Steps, of the fundamental need to admit you have a problem, that the basic literature is very important.

So what is the sole requirement?

Tradition Three: "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking."

That's it. A desire to stop drinking. [Or stop using drugs, or stop overeating or stop whatever the addictive behavior may be.]

Amazing! No promise to believe the Book, much less buy it. No promise to show up at least once a week. No promise to do what the Book says to do. The only requirement is the desire to stop whatever is killing you. And the only other thing you hear that might sound like a demand, but is really just an invitation, is "Keep coming back."

Oh, there's a lot more to recovery than that. But that's the only requirement. The way you do the rest is up to you and God (or in recovery-speak, your Higher Power.)

I guess that sounds a lot like my vision of God right now. A God who reaches out to me and says the only requirement is a desire to stop killing myself. And the invitation to keep coming back.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8
I'd be happier if I could just do that.

St.. Damien

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Father Damien or Saint Damien of Molokai. He was a Roman Catholic priest (1840 – 1889), from Belgium and member of a missionary religious order. He won recognition for his ministry to people with leprosy (Hansen's disease), who had been placed under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokai in the Kingdom of Hawaii. He eventually contracted and died of the disease, and is widely considered a "martyr of charity".

In the Roman and Eastern Catholic Churches, Damien is considered a saint, and in the Anglican communion, as well as other denominations of Christianity, Damien is considered the spiritual patron for Hansen's disease, HIV and AIDS patients, and outcasts.

Several memorials have been made to Damien worldwide, from Belgium and the United States to Ireland and Ecuador. The Father Damien Statue honors the priest in bronze in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol, while a full size replica stands in front of the Hawaii State Capitol. In 2005, Damien was honored with the title of De Grootste Belg, chosen as "The Greatest Belgian" throughout that country's history in polling conducted by the Flemish public broadcasting service.

When I took a saint’s name for confirmation in the Catholic Church, I chose Damien in honor of Father Damien. He represents to me the call to reach out to those who are feared, despised and outcast by society. The fact that he himself contracted leprosy and died from it is not ironic so much as poetic, for he showed that he who went to help those who seemed in need came to know what it is to be one with everyone, no better, no worse, all in need of love and care.

As noted above, a lot of ministries to people with AIDS are dedicated to St. Damien. It is perhaps appropriate that he was recognized as a saint in Rome on the same day that 200,000 people marched in Washington in favor of full equality for all Americans, including gays and lesbians who are still considered social lepers by so many of their fellow citizens.

I assume Father Damien was not homosexual, by the way, because he was accused by enemies of improper relations with women. These charges were shown to be the result of religious jealousy and bias by no less a person than the great Protestant poet Robert Louis Stevenson. Perhaps another reason to ask Damien's prayers is that he suffered from unjust accusations by religious people Stevenson described as

"hav[ing] stood by, and another has stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honor while striving to help those in need... [There are] those who have an eye for faults and failures; that [they] take a pleasure to find and publish them; and that, having found them, [they] make haste to forget the overvailing virtues and the real success which had alone introduced them to [their] knowledge. It is a dangerous frame of mind."

St. Damien, pray for us, lepers all!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Matthew's Andy

John, Judi, Matthew and Judi's sister brought Matthew's Andy (his official AKC registration name) by to visit us this afternoon. He is a lovely Chocolate Labrador puppy, actually a mix of a Chocolate and a Silver lab, so he has lovely blue eyes and a funny silver ring on his tail. Despite Judi's best efforts to get him to go outside, Andy did not want to go, when outside. So twice he went, inside. (The commas serve a purpose. Read the sentences out loud with the pauses.)

Then the humans went out for dinner in the Dells. Andy got to stay back at the Dauphin's camper at the railway. I'm not sure how he felt about that.

Tonight it is supposed to go down below freezing, tomorrow morning will likely bring rain and the afternoon will add some snow to the mix. Oh, joy! Saturday night it is supposed to dip to 26 (-3.3 C).

Time to get the Snuggie out!

BTW, Matthew figured out how to make the light work in the ceiling fan/light fixture in the living room. It has not worked since about a month after we moved in here in 2006. Yay, Matthew! You rock!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Banking wizardry

Got a letter from my bank about an upcoming change in their internet banking system. Fine with me, but I noticed the signature on the letter was from the bank chairman:
Merlin E. Zitzner.

I hope he can do wonders with my money -- but not make it disappear!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quick update

Weather still chilly and wet. Leaves are changing, but you need sunlight for it to be as beautiful as it can be.

Twelve turkeys in the backyard this morning. Another couple in Barry's drive when I dropped him off after coffee.

Some meandering progress on mystery.

Listening to lectures on philosophy and also some on poetry. This is ostensibly to help me think and write better. Don't wait up!

Gotta cook dinner!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy

The fall invasion of mice into the house has begun, or else the fall hunting season for mice to be brought into the house and released, played with and/or half-devoured.

It's all fun and games until someone loses her head.

And I have to pick up the remnants from the dining room carpet in the morning.