Saturday, October 30, 2010

Can you spot the difference?

You may recall this photo from one a few weeks back:

See if you can spot any difference in this photo:

Here is a close-up to make it more obvious, in case you are not sure what you are seeing:

The statues of Egyptian gods were something being tossed by the library, and I picked them up to use around the house or for odd little gifts. (Be forewarned, friends!) I put some on the shelf and waited for Tom to notice. When he said nothing, I asked him directly if he saw anything different. He looked puzzled. I pointed at the shelf and he asked, "Are all the pumpkins inside now?" referring to those that had been by the front door.

This is what it is like to live with someone who is detail-oriented but not when it comes to things like Egyptian statues. Peter hasn't commented yet, so I don't know if he has noticed or not.

Oh well ...

Best political sign of the campaign thus far

I may not agree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler.


Tom is off politicking and I am home with the cats, answering all the telephone calls we are getting from various and sundry political campaigns. It is so nice to be able to hang up on robo-calls, even from people I intend to vote for on Tuesday. (I always vote! It gives me the right to complain afterwards, which I even do about people I voted for sometimes.)

I am too polite to hang up on real people calling. And I don't have Rusty's knack for engaging in wildly improbable conversations and leaving them befuddled.

Maybe next time someone calls to try to get me to support a candidate who publicly calls for discrimination against folks like us, though, I might be tempted to use Rusty's tactic and keep them on the phone for a long time just to keep them from calling other people. I can't think of the funny things he does, but I suppose I could ask all sorts of questions about the stands the candidate takes on every issue that comes to mind. One of the guys running for senate actually refuses to say what he plans to do if he wins. Plenty of time for that, he assures us, after he is elected. So far only his machines have called -- probably because people can't ask a machine questions.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Updating my status

Yesterday I received a registered letter from the Discalced Carmelite provincial stating that he is now ready to move my case forward to the Fr. General. When this has happened in the past, it has gone nowhere, but I think there is a fair chance this time they may actually make a decision. I'll let you know when I hear anything more.

Meanwhile, those of you who know Fr. Steve Payne, there is this news. He recently learned that his book (basically his doctoral dissertation) was listed in an article in a professional journal as among the top theological books of the past 25 years. Pretty cool stuff! If I recall correctly, I even earn an undeserved honorable mention is his book. Of course, I dedicated my Gratian book to Steve, so that is my much humbler repayment. Hearty congratulations to him for work very well done! It is good to see it recognized.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It Gets Better!

As you may know, following the recent spate of bullying-related suicides and deaths among gay young people, a project was begun called "It Gets Better" for people and groups to post messages on You Tube of support and encouragement for those most at risk.

The following clip is the message from the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus. Towards the end of it, they are joined by members of their own families and friends. The song they are singing is Cyni Lauper's True Colors. You will find the lyrics below the video.

As is often the case, you may find that after you click on the arrow, this has to play through once, starting and stopping, before you can watch and listen to it straight through without annoying interruptions. Depends on your computer speed and connection. But it is beautiful and I encourage you to just walk away and led it download completely. Then listen and watch.


You with the sad eyes
don't be discouraged.
Oh I realize
it's hard to take courage;
in a world full of people
you can lose sight of it all
and the darkness inside you
can make you fell so small.

But I see your true colors
shining through,
I see your true colors
and that's why I love you.
So don't be afraid to let them show --
your true colors
true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow

Show me a smile then;
don't be unhappy, can't remember
when I last saw you laughing.
If this world makes you crazy
and you've taken all you can bear,
you call me up
because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
shining through.
I see your true colors
and that's why I love you.
So don't be afraid to let them show --
your true colors
true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday mantra

Back in 1991, two of my novices gave me a t-shirt with this design on it when they made their profession. They said that I had so often answered their questions by saying "I don't know" that they assumed this would be a good fit.

I don't know ...

Friday, October 22, 2010


Did you know Finland has:

5.3 million people
1.8 million saunas (approx 500 are traditional smoke saunas)
5.2 million mobile phones (Nokia is a Finnish brand)

188.000 lakes (accounts for 10% of the total area)
180.000 islands
475.000 summer cottages

203.000 reindeer
200.000 salmon

35 national parks


1 Santa Claus - the real one! [Editor's note: So they claim!]

Oh, yeah. Finland ranks the best country in the world in the 2010 Newsweek survey based on health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life. Finland has been ranked the second most stable country in the world.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And the beat goes on ...

Mich. Gay College Student Kills Himself


A 19-year-old Oakland University sophomore took his own life Tuesday, a few months after telling his family and friends he was gay.

Family members of Corey Jackson say they believe the Rochester Hills, Mich., college student had been bullied over his sexual orientation, and it ultimately led him to commit suicide.

"I believe [it happened] because he recently realized he was a homosexual and he was getting pressured at school by his peers because he told his family and nothing changed here," his grandmother Carolyn Evans told Click On Detroit. "Corey was the most loving, giving, funny person. He had the most wonderful personality. He had cousins from ages 14 down to 2 and he never said a bad word about anybody. When he went to school and he realized his sexual preference had changed, he changed completely. He withdrew."

Oakland University president Gary Russi said in an e-mail to students that Jackson’s death "diminishes us all."

"In our mourning, I am hopeful that we will not focus on the manner of Corey's death, but rather celebrate the life he lived and the people he touched," Russi wrote.

Students organized a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to honor Jackson. The president Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, of which Jackson was a member, wore a purple shirt Wednesday in remembrance of Jackson and in support of ending bullying of LGBT teens.

Police are still investigating Jackson's death, but the Oakland County medical examiner's office confirmed that it had been ruled a suicide.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Wednesday, October 20 has been designated Spirit Day to mourn the recent spate of tragic deaths/suicides of gay teenagers and young people in general due to bullying.

Two of the people I work with have daughters who have been viciously bullied and harassed in the local high school -- not for anything gay but just because some people like to pick on and abuse those they perceive as weak or different in some way. Surely we all agree this trend must end.

So do a small thing -- wear something purple. No one will probably know that it means anything. But you will know. And when you see someone else wearing purple on Wednesday, maybe that person is also standing against hate and for love.

Didn't SomeOne say something about what we do for the least of these?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Words of wisdom for today

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.
- Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Because words fail me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

For Sunny

The top of the bookcase in the library at our house:

This is the only indoor place with fall decorations. Growing up in Texas, I don't remember much decorating for autumn, perhaps because harvest had a different feel and meaning there. Here it is a big deal, even beyond the whole Halloween dimension.

Tom did the large painting. The icon of Christ the Teacher on the end there was made for his reception into the Catholic Church. As for the oil lamps, we lose power often enough during storms to make it worth having a bunch loaded and ready.

Fall colors

Here are some photos I took around the place this past week.

This harvest cluster is by the front door.

Although we have had two nights when it went to freezing or slightly below, the frost hasn't killed off all the flowers. The asters and geraniums are holding strong, and the trumpet vine, though without blooms, is still flourishing as you can see in the photos of the deck.

Sundance in the sun. She thinks the limelight is always for her.

Our little crab apple is loaded with red this time of year, with white blossoms in the spring. It is pretty scrawny, but still a nice touch in the front yard. When it grows up, it will be glorious.

The Burning Bush is off on the side of the house.

Just some trees around the place, especially by one of the paths that runs from the road back into the woods. The colors, of course, are far more beautiful than the camera could capture.

This is Berry Road, looking down past Rich and Peggy's place on the left.

One school

MENTOR, Ohio – Sladjana Vidovic's body lay in an open casket, dressed in the sparkly pink dress she had planned to wear to the prom. Days earlier, she had tied one end of a rope around her neck and the other around a bed post before jumping out her bedroom window.

The 16-year-old's last words, scribbled in English and her native Croatian, told of her daily torment at Mentor High School, where students mocked her accent, taunted her with insults like "Slutty Jana" and threw food at her.

It was the fourth time in little more than two years that a bullied high school student in this small Cleveland suburb on Lake Erie died by his or her own hand — three suicides, one overdose of antidepressants. One was bullied for being gay, another for having a learning disability, another for being a boy who happened to like wearing pink.

A Day in the Life

Tom gets up earlier than I do, gets dressed in the dark so as not to disturb me. I am always awake anyway, have to take my thyroid meds an hour before I can eat breakfast. He goes outside for a few minutes, usually walks to the end of the drive and greets the day. Comes back in, puts on the coffee, feeds the cats if he thinks of it. Goes to his computer and starts playing games or checks his emails. If there are urgent emails – more frequently than one would expect – he starts dealing with the various crises people have dumped on him.

I get up, brush my teeth, get a cup of coffee. Turn on the computer, check the weather. Feed the cats if that hasn’t been done. Pick up any mouse remnants the cats may have left scattered about. (Somehow Tom, despite having had cataract surgery, never notices the little piles of rodent remains on the floor.) Check my work schedule – I go in at a different time almost every day – and make my lunch to take with me unless I did that last night.

While Tom continues his computering, I decide what to eat for breakfast, usually making an Egg Beater omelet and some turkey sausage or Canadian bacon. Still trying to eat the way the doctor wants. Take all those pills I am supposed to take with food. Brush teeth, shave.

Checking the weather again – very variable this time of year – I decide what to wear to work. If I decide to wear a tie, as I do most of the time except in summer, I choose one to amuse the kids if we are going to a daycare or an elementary school..

Drive to work, always arriving a bit early. Check my work schedule for the day, download the reports from the computer, print them out, check for anything extra I need to load onto the bookmobile. Do odds and ends while waiting to go out on the bookmobile.

Work all morning on the bookmobile. Come back and eat lunch. Leave again and work all afternoon on the bookmobile.

Return to the library, do the end-of-day reports for the bookmobile and set up the computer to download the morning reports automatically the next day.

Go home, to a delicious meal that Tom has somehow managed to put together while putting out various brushfires for the railroad, the campaign and other folks who depend on his generosity with his time. Most days he goes shopping at Wally World and picks up fresh veggies. The receipt is lying on my computer, because I keep the books of our joint account.

We eat with Peter if he is home from work: “How was your day?” “What happened at the library?” "Anything at the Zip Line?" The usual.

I do the dishes, because Tom does way most of the cooking. Lately Peter will wander off to the gym in the evening or spend some time on the phone with his girlfriend. Tom is back at his computer, unless we are watching a PBS program like Discover Wisconsin, Sherlock Holmes (the Jeremy Brett version) or Poirot. If it is a Thursday, I will watch The Big Bang Theory and Tom or Peter may indulge me by watching some of it. They both think I am a bit like Sheldon Cooper, but, hey! Jim Parsons just won an Emmy for that role. Tom is also a Glee fan, but Peter tends to watch Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts, switching channels regularly to see what else is on. Tom is also a NASCAR person. What can I say? I watch Phineas and Ferb and iCarly. The Nielsen ratings people would scratch their heads over our viewing habits.

After unloading the dishes (maybe -- if I don't, they will be waiting for me in the morning)), I may pay a bill or two. I will do a final computer check of mail and news. Then it is time to grab a book, crawl in bed and try to settle in before Sundance decides to slide up by my side and prevent me from reading.

And then, to all a good night. Tom is still in there putzing with his computer or reading.

Not very exotic, is it? Or scary?

Just two old coots, a healthy young man and a couple of cats living their lives.

And yet there are those who want to destroy it.

You gotta wonder why.


I happened to catch a bit of Kenneth Branagh's movie version of Henry V the other night, and lucked out (?) by seeing and hearing the haunting Non nobis sung by the English soldiers following the amazing victory over the French at Agincourt. Here it is.

The Latin hymn is taken from the first part of the opening verse of Psalm 115: Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.

There is a painful irony in this beautiful music being sung by men who had just taken part in a brutal battle, underlined by the trudging Henry V walking through the battlefield, carrying an innocent boy who had been slain because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Immediately prior to this, the English remarked that God had fought for them and had done them great good. Knowing as we do that this was only one battle in the Hundred Years War, one in which both sides prayed to the same God, and both sides sometimes won and sometimes lost, it seems questionable theology. But it makes for great drama, as Shakespeare knew when he penned the scene.

I do need to warn you -- the tune has become an irritating earworm in my head over the last few days. Listen at your peril!

Should I have mentioned that first?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And what about the adults???

"This can't be good.

Scholastic has released the Kids & Family Reading Report where they tried to determine how much electronic reading kids are doing. And some of the additional statistics caught NewsFeed's worried eye.

Of the nine to 17-year-olds polled, 39% agreed with the following statement: “The information I find online is always correct.” Uh oh!

Obviously while the Internet is an amazing tool for learning and research, there are also loads of rumors, lies and falsehoods out there. There's a reason teachers don't allow Wikipedia as a source for term papers--anyone can write just about anything they want!

It's understandable that kids could be swayed by things they find on the Internet. After all, who hasn't been duped by a reputable looking site or source? But the fact that a large percentage of kids are digesting what they are taking in whole--without question--is definitely worrisome.

But then again, NewsFeed did find this study on the Internet. (via Publishers Weekly)"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In less than a month ...

  • Billy Lucas (15) September 9, 2010. Indiana
  • Cody J. Barker (17) September 13, 2010. Wisconsin
  • Seth Walsh (13) September 19, 2010. California
  • Tyler Clementi (18) September 22, 2010. New Jersey
  • Asher Brown (13) September 23, 2010. Texas
  • Harrison Chase Brown (15) September, 25 2010. Colorado
  • Raymond Chase (19) September 29, 2010. Rhode Island
  • Felix Sacco (17) September 29, 2010. Massachusetts
  • Caleb Nolt (14) September 30, 2010. Indiana

Each of these was someone's son, someone's grandson, someone's cousin, someone's nephew, someone's friend. God's sons. Brothers of Jesus. The least of these ...

John 11:35


On Wednesday mornings, I take the Bookmobile to the Ho-Chunk Headstart program. There are from 15 to 20 kids there each week, and each one gets to pick a book from a selection I bring in from the library.

Last week, when I came through the door, they all shouted, "Hello! Hello! Hello!"

Ivana, the Polish lady who runs the place (A Polish lady teaching Native American kids is very Wisconsin Dells!), asked, "What is he bringing?"

"Books!" they cried enthusiastically.

"And what is his name?" she prompted.

"Bookmobile!" they yelled in a single voice.

"No," Ivana told them, "it's Mike."

So this morning when I went in, everyone said hello and several said, "Hi, Mike."

Ivana was delighted that they remembered, and I was pleased, too.

Later I heard one of the little girls telling a teacher, "I like Mike."

The teacher made sure I was listening, and she asked, "You like Mike?"

"I like his ties," the little girl confided.

As it turns out, I was wearing this little Dalmatian puppy number this morning. And I do admit I choose my tie carefully on days I am going over there. Whatever it takes to make the audience happy, right?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Weekend Update [UPDATED!]

1) For those of you who may have been concerned, the CD collection is back in place -- and actually in order! Before Riley's recent intervention, we had just been tucking CDs back into any convenient empty spot, so this was a good opportunity for Tom (who contends that I am the compulsive one) to put things back into a logical arrangement. (Lawyers!)

2) Right now it is almost noon, sunny,windy and 48 outside (8.9 C). The windchill is 44 (6.67 C) Tonight we expect to hit freezing for the first time this season. At least there is no snow in the forecast for the coming week.

3) Tom and I have been pretty regular about the low glycemic eating, and I have lost another few pounds. Now the problem is most of my pants want to slide down. I have some of those things that let you adjust the waist size, because I don't want to invest in a new wardrobe until I am convinced it is going to last long enough to justify it. Meanwhile, we can vouch for the value of the South Beach diet as a starter and low glycemic as a way to go. I have been at it long enough now that I find myself bringing home leftovers when we eat out, and I don't have cravings for stuff I am supposed to avoid anyway. I won't say I never WANT any of them, but it is easier to make the better choice. At any rate, our doctor is pleased with the results, and we all know it is about making him happy.

4) For some reason my cell phone has deactivated. It is a pay-as-you-go thing for emergency use (and for finding Tom when he wanders away at Walmart), and the screen says I have 963.5 units (minutes) left and I am good until December 19. But if I try to use it, I only get a message about making collect calls. Tech support has only been able to say that I would have to buy more minutes for them to reactivate the thing, but I don't see why it should cost me when I have nearly a thousand minutes and two and a half months coverage already paid for. We are still working on that. But for the moment, I am without cell phone. Of course, I managed for half a century quite well without one.

5) UPDATE: Book sales continue to trickle in, as I mentioned the other day. Not sure why. These are all generated by Amazon, not by me. My big hope is that some professor somewhere will discover one of the books and assign it to a class of 500 or so freshmen. Or maybe Oprah will pick one for her book club before she finally bows out. Not holding my breath on any of those. Tom's daughter Rebecca, who is a doctoral student at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, did put in a plug with one of the folks there for the mystery as a relatively painless way to learn a bit about Carmel. And a couple of Carmelites told me that they have plugged the Elijah book on retreats, because they used the book for some of their material. So whoever's helping out there -- keep it up!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Feasts, joys and sadnesses

Wednesday, September 29, was the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. My feastday, as it were.

My feastday gift arrived on Thursday in the persons of Justin, Angie and Riley Rae. passing through from a vacation in Minnesota on their way back to Texas. This was my first encounter with Riley, and naturally I think she is adorable. (Yes, Kirstin, I think Jackson is adorable, and yes, Kristin, I am sure I will think the same of Brinkley when we meet. I spent a lot of years in a monastery, so I am quite good atadoring.) As you can see, Miss Riley thought that our CD collection needed extensive re-organization. Tom had hauled up three bins full of stuffed animals and toys from the basement for her, but the CD cases were clearly her favorites.

We had a great meal and visit. I don't see most of my family all that often, them being in Texas and me in Wisconsin. It was good to catch up, and Tom was vastly entertained by hearing just how crazy the Dodd clan is. I told him it wasn't just me!

Friday, October 1 is my brother Ted's birthday -- a shout out to Ted B in Borger from all his fans in Wisconsin!

It is also the feast of St. Therese, a major figure in the Discalced Carmelite community to which I belonged for 30 years. (And, yes, Kristin, that is the saint of the moving statue.) This is normally a time of great celebration among the friars and nuns, but the joy is mixed with sadness this year because of the death of Fr. Matthias. He was only 75 and his death came unexpectedly. The wake will be on Sunday and the funeral on Monday at Holy Hill. He was greatly devoted to St.Therese and had studied her teachings for many years. This year he got to celebrate her feast in heaven.

Fr. Peter, another friar who has gone ahead of us, used to say that all guests give joy -- some when they arrive, others when they leave. Justin, Angie and Riley brought joy when they arrived to surprise me at the library and sadness when they had to leave the Dells so soon to get back home. May none of us ever be among those who give joy when we leave!

May Matthias's soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.