Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Fifteen Minutes!

I was reading an article online about lessons from the monastery on how to de-stress your home. (Truns out it was really about ways to de-stress your life, but that's okay.)

Anyway, online things always have these ads running across the top of the page or along the side, usually ads placed there not by the author of page but by a service that scans the words in the article and plonks down ads that would seem connected to the topic. [This leads to some very amusing Republican (or Democratic) fund-raising ads that show up on sites where the articles are all denouncing the Republicans (or Democrats.)]

Anyhoo, there was an ad on this page: "Learn to meditate like a monk in 15 minutes and change your life!"

Of course, the article was all about learning to become still and quiet inside, to slow down, to lighten up, to move at a more natural pace and in accord with natural daily rhythms -- all things the monastic regimen and schedule is designed to develop. But it was so typical that there was an ad -- and All American Ad --right there promising that you can learn all you need to know in fifteen minutes.

It's funny, but it's sad. Sort of the quasi-religio-spiritual marketing version of the magic diet pill -- Just take WhatSItCore twice a day and eat whatever you want! You'll be amazed to see the fat melt away!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My latest publication [UPDATED]

Well, I didn't write all of it. In fact, I only contributed one recipe to be found on page37: Chicken Enchiladas Suizas Casserole. It is a simplified version of the wonderful enchiladas I used to eat in Mexico City at the restaurant in the Casa de Azulejos. (Click on that link for more of the background.)If you want the recipe, you can email me or you can buy the book.

This is your typical fund-raiser cookbook, the kind you associate with churches and other non-profits. Mama has (or used to have) a huge collection of these, and I loved to flip through them when I was visiting. This one was put together by the local American Legion Auxiliary Unit 187. How did I wind up in there? My boss is part of the Auxiliary and she asked the staff if anybody had recipes to share. I have several that I thought were fund-raiser-cookbook-worthy, but this is the one that guests always like best.

I wasn't sure that the recipe would be accepted -- not because it is from Mexico but because it does not include cream of mushroom soup, an almost indispensable item in most recipes in books of this sort. I suppose you could add a can of it if you wanted to.

But as Richard Nixon famously said, "It would be wrong."

UPDATE: Flipping through the cookbook, I discovered on page 13 that I had also given them a recipe for what I call Archangel's Salad. Named, natch, for the Archangel Michael.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Zip Line!

Tom posted this short video of Peter at work. So his job is to toss small children out over a lake? Only in the Dells!

BTW, after the kid disappears over the lake, you can watch his reflection in the water for a while.

Manic Monday

Well, maybe it wasn't THAT manic, but Monday is always my work-until-8:15 day at the library, so it seems to go on forever.

Up in the morning, breakfast and then off to Baraboo to check the district mail for bills, etc. (Wednesday is the monthly meeting and I have to prepare the treasurer's report.) No bills, no donations, just the bank statement. Happily the bank statement and my financial report match up perfectly. But I had to do the spread sheet and the monthly summary. Got that done and then off to the library.

Monday is always hectic at KPL because people are returning the gazillion DVDs they checked out for weekend viewing. So a lot of processing of those today plus working on the September newsletter and just the usual waiting on folks. I was wearing a new pair of shoes, and by the end of the day on my feet,they were killing me. These are dress shoes, and I should have known to wear them only for a few hours the first time. Today I will wear my canvas casuals. I think my feet recovered overnight.

When I got home at 8:30 for dinner, Tom had prepared an Indian-spiced meal of his own devising -- HIGHLY seasoned sort of ground-beef-and-turkey kabobs with lots of roasted fresh veggies. Great taste, but did I mention it was HIGHLY seasoned? (He picked up a bunch of spice at this international food market when we were in Madison on Sunday.) Anyway, great meal! I watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory, read a little Agatha Christie and went to bed.

Sometime in the night one of the cats killed a mouse and brought it in to leave by the garbage can. At least they are getting closer to where these things belong. Now if we can only teach them to wrap it in paper and drop it inside the can, we will be all set.

And now it is Tuesday -- my 10-hour workday. It is my long day, but most of it is spent on the Bookmobile, making it far less manic.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Animal antics

On the way back from Madison today (after escaping from some awesomely reckless driver who almost plowed into us just outside Baraboo), we noticed that the fields along the roads and the roads themselves were swarming with little yellow butterflies. It seems they are called Clouded Sulfurs or Clouded Yellows. Something set them off -- the temperature, the humidity, whatever. But it was rather amazing.

Tom went into the Dells after dinner for a meeting, but I decided to stay home. When I went to let Cassidy out onto the deck, there was a small herd (family?) of deer chomping away at the weeds down by the treeline. Tom put some corn out for them recently, which may be why they are so bold. I took some photos, but my camera doesn't zoom enough for me to get a decent shot. Surprisingly, although they looked up when I slid the door open, they did not run away while I tried to get a picture.

So true! Or is it/?

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beach Boys

A month or so back, Tom and I decided to take our doctor's advice seriously and get on a low glycemic diet (or eating plan). I did some research and thought that one way to approach this was to go first on the South Beach Diet as a transition. The first phase of that diet is supposed to help get rid of cravings and make the move to eating regularly according to the glycemic index easier. To make it easier on himself as the main cook (I am the bottle washer), Tom decided to go that route as well.

It was a bit tedious at first, but after a couple of weeks we were both so pleased with the results that we decided to stick to the stricter phase 1 program a bit longer before moving on. Things are still going well and it has become easier to get some variety into meals. (I am not going to tell you about all that, don't worry!)

Anyway, I did not weigh when we began, but the other day I took the plunge and was delighted to see that I have lost 20 pounds since I saw the doctor in March. That is about what he wanted me to lose, and I am very happy. I feel better, of course, and my clothes fit better.

I don't know if Tom has weighed, but I know he is pretty satisfied with how it's working for him. Tom, of course, is one of those tall,slender people who thinks an inch or two gained in his waist constitutes a pot belly. He is six feet tall and wears 34 inch waist pants. Yeah, that's a problem. So he adapts the plan to his own needs while I try to adhere more closely to the guidelines. Whatever works!

At any rate, that's the update on the (South) Beach (Diet) Boys. One good thing is that I don't have cravings for forbidden stuff any longer, and I expect that careful attention will make it possible to eat well without getting too weird. We have even discovered how to eat out and stay on track.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You do the math.

The Bible contains six (6) admonishments to homosexuals and 362 to heterosexuals. This does not mean that God does not love heterosexuals; it just means they need more supervision.

Lynn Lavner

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Progress not perfection

Mexico -- two steps forward
California -- one step back
Overall: Still moving forward

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thought for Monday

Non sequiturs are like bikes

They don't bathe.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cleaning frenzy

When Tom asked what we should do today, I told him we needed to do some cleaning up around the house. Things have been piling up for the past week.

Well, he took me WAY serious. So we vacuumed the rugs in the living room, library, dining room and his office. He rolled them up and carried them out to the apron of the garage and shampooed them with our handy-dandy rug cleaner. Meanwhile I swept, steamed and otherwise cleaned the floors, cleaned up the kitchen counters and stove, swept out the coat closet and even the broom closet and finally washed the cover for the sofa cushions. (We use a futon cover, and it is not too hard to manage, although it took both of us to wrestle the cushions back into it.)

The cats, meanwhile, decided this was madness, madness, I tell you! They disappeared somewhere, poking a head out from behind doors from time to time to see if the foolishness was over yet.

We took a break for lunch and Tom watched an episode of "Wanted: Dead or Alive" with Steve McQueen. He found a DVD with 18 episodes from the first season (of three) and is steadily working his way through them. The thing I find most notable is that the background music is intrusive and overly dramatic.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy birthday!

After work this afternoon, I will be going with Tom to a birthday party for Quentin, the about-to-be three-year-old of our neighbors Matt and Jodie. This will be my first chance to get to the party, although Tom has gone the past two years. I have always been working on the weekend, but this time my schedule allows me to attend.

Quentin is a friendly little boy, big like both his parents, and a lover of typical little boy toys -- trains, trucks, airplanes and so on. (We are giving him a little tow truck.) But Jodie says he is getting to an age to be able to play games and apparently likes books, too. (A good sign, says the librarian.)

Anyway, the party will be at Firemen's Memorial Park in Lake Delton and should be fun. In the past the Fosters have put up a big pavilion-type tent at their house, but this year I guess they decided it would be easier to use one of the pavilions at the park.

Should be fun!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It is perhaps disappointing to traditionalist to learn that the superstition that Friday the Thirteenth is unlucky is not ancient at all. No verifiable instance of it can be found in any written form prior to the nineteenth century, and although superstitions are notoriously handed down in oral tradition, the idea that such a fear of Friday the Thirteenth pre-existed the nineteenth century is on weak grounds. Lots of people say it is because of something that happened on some Friday the Thirteenth in the past (the arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 is one popular suggestion), but there is no evidence that the date was considered unlucky in the centuries afterward until it shows up in the 1800s and with no explicit connection with the Templars. (The Templars, pious knights that they were, have become a major marketable source of foolishness in recent years following the success of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. Sorry, folks, but getting mentioned in a popular novel whose historical basis has been shown to be hogwash does not a fact make, no matter how many silly "documentaries" about it appear on cable.)

So, happy Friday the Thirteenth! Apparently it is just another hot day.

The title of this post, of course, is the term for "fear of Friday the thirteenth", in case you ever need to drop it into casual conversation.


June 1846

August 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Soggy Sunday [With Update]

Woke to thunderstorms and rain. Tom says the rain will be ending, in which case we may go to Portage for a sidewalk sale and to get some cartridges for my printer. (There is no office supply place in Wisconsin Dells, unless you count Walmart.) We'll see.

Meanwhile, I am doing some cleaning. I have a box full of old computer disks and stuff, and I am throwing out items that no longer work or that I don't expect to use ever again. The box includes a lot of old floppy disks that my computer doesn't even have as lot for. (My last two or three, in fact, have not had slots for them.) Tom, fortunately, has a computer old enough to still have a working a: drive. Tomorrow while he is busy at the railroad, I will look through my floppies to see if there is anything I want to transfer to a memory stick. I don't think there will be, to tell the truth. At any rate, it will be out with the old floppies one way or another.

I also have a stack of old program CDs that are worth nothing to me. I gave Tom the cases from those and will give the CDs to Kris at the library. She will most likely figure out some way to use them in one of the monthly craft projects she does with patrons, young and old. The library supplies everything necessary for these projects, and we like to be able to do one that doesn't require us to purchase anything. This month she is making some remarkable pins out of old bottle caps and holiday photos. They are just like some items I saw in one of the galleries in Mineral Point, so we are quite with the trend -- at least, the trend in south central Wisconsin.

We went to Portage, but for the second time recently, we discovered that an event that had been advertised as Saturday and Sunday in a local events calendar turned out to have been Friday and Saturday. No great loss, but it would have given us something more to do. We did stop and get my ink for the printer, and that was good.

On the way back we went by a parish festival (that had been listed in the calendar as LAST Sunday) and discovered it consisted almost exclusively of a Polka Mass, a beer tent and a couple of game wheels. Hardly a parish festival by my standards! But it is a small country parish, and I guess they enjoyed themselves.

The highlight of the day turned out to be lots and lots of sand hill cranes that we saw in field after field along the way. They are not rare, but I still love to see them picking their way through the fields or wandering across a lawn. They are not the tallest crane (in the States, that would be the whooping crane), but they can have a six foot (1.8 m) wing spread.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Catholic country heard from ...

Bad jokes

Tom had a guest over for dinner a couple of nights ago. Scott had been a chef before he went back to college, and Tom was explaining why he was grilling pork chops: he and I are trying to do what the doctor advised by moving onto a low glycemic diet. That mean, among other things, limiting red meat. I don't care for fish, although the diet folks would love me to eat that all the time. Shellfish is also permitted -- Tom is a big shrimp fan , by which I mean a big fan of shrimp, although I suppose he is a fan of big shrimp (oxymoron?) as well. But I sometimes have a bad reaction to shellfish (the good old Dodd gout, I suppose); so shellfish is not a great option. That leaves chicken and pork much of the time.

"Or, as Michael says," Tom told Scott, "cat -- the other white meat."

Well, that is obviously not original with me. Here is proof, but you can find lots of other examples on your own:

I did make one bad joke about eating cats, though, on the bookmobile last year. We were at Neenah Creek School helping the kids find books. One little girl said she wanted a book about cats.

"Do you have a cat?" I asked her.

"No," she shook her head. "But I like cats."

I nodded. "I do, too! I like them fried."

Her eyes got huge for a second and then she laughed.

Kathie Holly, on the other hand, was horrified that I would tell that to a child. Of course, Kathie is also on the board for the local animal shelter. (And knows full well that we have Sundance and Cassidy and love them very much.)


One of my loyal readers mentioned that I had not been blogging much, and I decided to take a few minutes this morning to post something. (I am awake earlier than usual, don't know why.)

Well, I am not blogging as much for a couple of related reasons. 1) I have a full time job, which does not leave me with lots of time on my hands to blog. And 2) I have a full time job which keeps me distracted from other things that I might reflect upon ad nauseum.

Speaking of my full time job (I did mention that I have a full time job, right?), last week was the groundbreaking for the library expansion project. This was basically a photo op for the people involved and responsible. My boss, Cathy Borck, is the seventh from the left and our friend Debbie Kinder is eighth from the right. Debbie is on the city council and the library board and was a supporter of my efforts to get a full time job at the library. (I mentioned that already, didn't I?)

The present library is housed in the building you see behind that crowd, built 14 years ago. In the years since, our circulation has doubled and many new things have been added -- a language lab, more computers, Wi-Fi access, greatly expanded DVD offerings and audiobooks, to mention a few. The staff has doubled in size, too, and we are tripping over one another trying to get work done in a space designed for three full timers and one part timer. Today there are 6 fulltimers, 2 part-timers and 30 or so volunteers. So we are getting more room. This will include a more private area for even more computers and more room for people to set up to use the Wi-Fi, doubling the size of the children's section, creating a new young adult section, adding a reading area and -- most important -- adding a garage for the bookmobile that will include a work space (right now I do not even have a desk -- my personal "office" is one drawer in a filing cabinet) and storage for books, DVDs and book carts. So by winter of 2011, Kathie Holly and I will not have to trundle cartloads of books out through the winter storms to load onto the bookmobile in the sub-zero weather -- and the Tommy lift that gets them up to the level of the bookmobile will not poke along because it is all frozen up.

So that's that.

The other story to share has to do with what people apparently have begun to expect from the greatly expanded library services we already provide:
Last Saturday we had a family fun day built around the fact that July was National Ice Cream Month. They had games (tossing bean bags through boards painted to look like ice cream cones), crafts, songs and such things. The big finale was that everyone got to make their own REAL sundae to devour at a little ice cream social. Okay, family oriented -- mostly smaller children and their parents. A few minutes after the program began, one of the adult (middle-aged) patrons came in and asked if the ice cream was out yet. Laura explained that first they were doing the games and crafts and other activities, and then they would have the ice cream sundaes. The patron, who has two school-age daughters was alone, but Laura invited her to join in the fun.

"No, thanks," the woman replied. "I have to be somewhere. Can I just get some ice cream to go?"


Wednesday, August 4, 2010