Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn wildlife

A couple of times recently, we have spied a possum wandering across Berry Road when we were coming home after dark. He (or she) was in the same place both times, and I assume it is part of her (or his) regular nighttime prowl. We don't see them near the house except in the winter when the bitter cold and snow cover force them up to pick around the bottom of the bird feeder. Last year we had a couple who showed up together a few times. Don't know if this is one of those or not.

We are in the middle of wild turkey hunting season up here now, and maybe that is why I am seeing more turkeys in the backyard. They fascinate the cats, who cannot decide whether to be terrified of them or to chase them. Given the size difference, I imagine a turkey could take out Sundance or Cassidy in a showdown, but fortunately they are skittish and run or fly away quickly.

The deer are more visible now, too. Partly because it is rutting season, partly because I am driving home around sundown when they are more likely to be wandering across the road anyway. The sad sight of dead ones hit by cars and lying alongside the road is back, too.

Otherwise -- flocks of geese, cranes on the prowl, bluebirds and all that jazz.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It was 37 degrees (2.78 C)when I got up this morning.

Three days ago we hit 80 (28.67 C) in the afternoon.

Justin had asked what kind of clothes to pack for their trip up north. I told him layers -- things you can put on and take off. This is why!

As the t-shirts say: Wisconsin! Where you use your furnace and your air conditioner on the same day!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anyone know how to arrange a hit?

No, seriously.

The guy with the flute in the BK ads.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Not one thin dime.

Monday, September 20, 2010

September born

Sept birth

The Carmelites used to refer to July as the month of Carmel because there were so many Carmelite saints whose feastdays fell in July. I am beginning to think September is the month of birthdays.

I am sure I am missing somebody, but so far this month these friends and relatives have had birthdays: Matthew Dauphin, John Dauphin, Tom, Jason, Daddy, Laura (library), Carl (library). Among folks from my past, both Randy and Vickie Clark were born in September. Steve Payne celebrates his ordination this month, too, which is not exactly a birthday but should be counted, I think.
Ted,of course, barely misses September, being born on October 1, as was Kathy, the lady who works with me on the bookmobile. And then later in October, more birthdays and another anniversary ...

And the Carmelites, of course, celebrate a bunch of October feastdays, too. Seems the partying never stops somewhere.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Aber wir haben immer schon so gemacht!

You may have heard the story about the young woman whose mother was teaching her how to make a roast. The daughter observed her mother carefully and made copious notes. When all was done, her mother asked if she had any questions.

"Just one," her daughter said. "Why do you cut off an inch at either end of the roast first of all?"

"Well, my mother always did that. I suppose it makes it moist? Or something. Anyway, that is how she did it and that is how she taught me. So I am teaching you the same thing."

Dissatisfied with this answer, the daughter decided to call her grandmother.

"Why do you cut an inch off both ends of the roast before you cook it?" she asked.

The grandmother thought for a while and said that was just the way her mother had taught her. She supposed it made the seasonings cook into the roast better, but that was just the way it was done.

"Do you think anyone knows why?" the granddaughter asked.

"Maybe my sister Helen knows. She learned how to cook from Mama and maybe she knows."

So the granddaughter, now really curious, called her great-aunt Helen to ask.

"Oh, sure, I know'" Helen told her. "We were poor, and Mama only had one roasting pan. It was too short for the usual roast she bought. So she cut off a couple of inches to make it fit and then used the trimmed meat for something else."

And the next three generations did the same thing, despite the fact that their roasting pans were large enough.
The title of this post is (to the best of my recollection) a German saying that one used to hear among almost all the German-speaking religious orders of nuns and priests that came to Wisconsin in the nineteenth century. It means, "But we have always done it this way."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mass of dots

I think no one -- not even ministers -- knows what to say to someone who is grieving. But I find this scene, from the lovely movie Latter Days, particularly touching as this young Mormon missionary encounters a stranger in tears outside a hospital. It brings tears to my eyes just watching it.

The storyline of the movie has to do with Aaron (the missionary) coming to terms with his homosexuality and the turmoil it creates in his very religious family. The theme of being "connected, and it's beautiful, and it's funny, and it's good" comes back at the end of the movie. It is a sweet film, though not everyone would feel comfortable watching it.

Thought for a chilly Saturday

What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left.
- Oscar Levant

BTW, the forecast is that we will not make it to 60 (15.5 C) today. I will be working at the library, which is in the middle of its big book sale for Wo-Zha-Wa weekend. Tomorrow is the parade, and the weather report is for sunny and a tiny bit warmer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update [maybe]

Steve Payne, who recently celebrated his ordination anniversary, answered my congratulatory card and tells me that another OCD friar was dispensed from his vows and the priesthood recently. Steve suggested that I contact the Provincial again to see if he could get my official status resolved while the process for doing so is fresh in his mind. Accordingly I wrote the present Provincial, with whom I have corresponded and spoken about this several times in the past, to see what he wants to do. I haven't heard from him yet, but it has only been a couple of days. John, God love him, tends to view things suspiciously unless he initiates them, and he may want to think about it before he does respond. Or he may want to consult with his council before replying.

I will keep you informed.

My situation, BTW, is not the same as the other friar who got dispensed, and it may turn out that John will still not know how to proceed with my case.

Monday, September 13, 2010

On, Wisconsin!

This is an excerpt from an article in the Baraboo paper this morning. It illustrates the realities and priorities of Wisconsin, and can stand on its own. I did, however, highlight the most important point. The photo is of the downtown area during the flood.

ROCK SPRINGS - Two years after historic Baraboo River flooding devastated many homes and put the village business district under water, Rock Springs is somewhat diminished, but moving forward, community leaders say.

The area around Fireman's Park was lively Saturday afternoon as residents and visitors joined in the second Flood Fest ...

Signs of early June of 2008 when, after days of heavy rains, the river defeated local residents' fight to contain it with sandbags are still visible. Many homes north of downtown have been removed due to flood damage. Two flood-damaged buildings near downtown still stand, but are empty.

Rock Springs had a population of about 425 people before the flood and that is now down to 366, he said. With buildings and people lost, he wondered what affect it will have at tax time.

"It was about $1 million (property value) lost," said Trustee Lisa Zautke.

Busser said the business district is active with two village bar and grills that survived. In December, United Cooperative shut down the village convenience store...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Buddhist wisdom

Yesterday at one of the nursing homes, I was talking to a gentleman who was an artist and photographer by profession. He was pretty good at what he did, judging from the scrapbooks he has shown me, which included lots of pictures he took in Texas way back once upon a then. Turns out he minored in philosophy, and he talked about what he had learned from a philosophy of religion course in which he was exposed to major belief systems outside his own Christian (Methodist) upbringing. That conversation brought to memory some of the Buddhists sayings that I like, and I offer them here for your ponderation.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

It is one's own mind, not an enemy or foe, that lures one to evil ways.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.
That first one reminds me of something one often hears in Twelve Step groups: Holding onto a resentment is like drinking poison and thinking the other person will die.

And the last quote about hatred and love sounds pretty Christian, don't you think?

And the next to last one seems straightforward until you realize that it is so easy for me to believe that there is a finite amount of happiness (freedom, equality, respect, joy, you name it) in the world and if someone else has some of it, then I must be losing some of mine. This unexamined hydraulics approach to life is behind many political and social debates.

I recall a Peanuts cartoon years ago, where Linus quotes the saying, "It is better to light one little candle than it is to curse the darkness." In the next panel, Lucy is standing outside shaking her fist at the darkened sky and shouting, "Curse you, darkness!" In the final panel, Linus resignedly says, "Of course, there will always be those who disagree."

One of the most moving moments in the Easter vigil liturgy is when the priest brings a lighted candle into the darkened church where all the people hold unlit candles, and he proclaims, "Christ, our light!" After this, candles are lit from that one candle and the light is passed from candle to candle until the entire church is lighted by the flames. The original candle burns as bright as ever, not diminished in any way.

The candle design on the side there, BTW, is one Tom did some years ago as part of a set of clip art images to be used by people working in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the Catholic program for adults preparing for baptism and entry into the church at Easter. The photo shows a church as the smaller candles are being lit.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Snake metal scultpures

Michelangelo sent this photo of me with a bunch of the standing snakes at the Forevertron -- the ones I like so much. What can I tell you?

And, yes, that is a cannon in front of me. Don't know why it's there, but that is a small mystery at that place.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shana Tova - Happy New Year

For those who are wondering, my sources tell me it is now 5771. Boy, how time flies!

And for those who are further wondering -- Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples and honey, to symbolize a sweet new year. The star of David you recognize, and the shofar, the ram's horn that is blown for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. More on Yom Kippur anon (id est, on September 17-18.)

For the Catholics out there, happy feast of the Birth of Mary.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Forevertron again

We took Michelangelo to see the Forevertron today, and John tagged along for the fun. I know I posted about this thing last spring (click here), but for more information and some great shots, visit the review at (While reading it, try to figure out when you are being hoodwinked and when you are supposed to believe any of it.)

Michelangelo took some photos, so I will post one or two if I can get copies from him later.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How you spend your money

I read two article recently that touched on how most of us spend our money and what comes of that.

The first article mentioned that the majority of American consumers report being unhappy with 80% of the things they purchase. Every new little gadget that we get -- As Seen On TV!! -- promises to change our life but only winds up adding to the clutter. The solution? Obviously, buy another gadget! "And the circle will be unbroken, by and by, Lord ..."
(There is a whole industry of rental storage units where people can keep all the stuff they don't really use but cost too much to toss.)
That article was actually about a study of Americans who live frugally, and it noted that although they bought less, they reported a high satisfaction level with the things they did buy. They thought about what they wanted to buy beforehand and liked what they bought when they did buy it. Result: Happiness with what they owned and no tripping over unwanted stuff.

The other article suggested that people who spend less on stuff and more on experience -- travel, concerts, movies (it doesn't have to be highbrow or anything) -- are happier than those who put their money into stuff.

Makes sense to me. And I have friends who put money into travel, visiting all sorts of places I would love to see. They are not wealthy, but they choose to spend their time and money on things that build memories -- shared memories -- that will last forever.

And they send me postcards to make me envious. Well, I don't think that is why they send them, but I do envy them (in a loving and supportive way, of course.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Michelangelo is coming to town for Labor Day weekend and, as has become our tradition, we plan to attend the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Hoopla in Prairie du Sac on Saturday.
(Please click here to visit their website and learn more about this important cultural event.)
They claim that some 40,000 people attend this each year. The current Wisconsin Cow Chip Throw state record is 248 feet, which is quite respectable. The winner goes on to the nationals (and even a world competition) in Beaver, Oklahoma. Apparently they do not all follow the same guidelines and so on, so I could not find an authoritative and universally recognized World Record. There is an unofficial men's record of over 266 feet, but the officially recognized record is only a bit over 182 feet. So I don't know what to make of that. There is also a ladies' division. I also don't know what to make of that, but no one is asking me, so I guess it doesn't matter.

The weather will be a bit cool -- a high of 66, but sunny. Should be a great day for a parade, an arts and craft show, food-on-a-stick (the pork-chops-on-a-stick being a Cow Chip Festival highlight) and, of course, the cow chip throw itself. A few years back, Tom and Michelangelo went out onto the field after the event and carried away the winning chip. Michelangelo took it back to Chicago, framed it and hung it on the wall of his classroom at the Catholic boys high school where he taught Latin and theology. It caused some ... comments, shall we say?


The local community is grieving the tragic death of two young Ho-Chunk men, one 19 and the other 21, who died in an accident last weekend. Apparently they were on their way to get some more beer for a party when the driver lost control of the vehicle, which went off the road and slammed into a tree, bursting into flames. Peter apparently knew one of the victims, and Tom and I know members of the families. It is a heartbreaking situation.

So I commend to your prayers Tyler, Jordan and their families.

And please, folks, don't drink and drive.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Think about it.

Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.
- Henry David Thoreau