Sunday, February 28, 2010

Computers and spring

We went to Madison today and I got a new laptop -- a Compaq Presario 60-215DX, Nothing fancy, just a basic little machine that should serve my needs. Tom will spend a few hours getting it all set up while I sit back and watch a movie.

More importantly, on the way we saw some signs of spring. Well, Wisconsin signs of spring, anyway. Some tree limbs are starting to show red where the bud tips are beginning to form, and the bark on some of the trees has begun to lighten up. The Wisconsin River is opening up -- still plenty of ice, but lots more water visible. And although it will still get below freezing at night, over the next ten days the highs will be in the upper 30's and into the lower 40's. (Say 2.2-6.1 C).

Also, my friend Barry and his wife get back from Florida tonight, and I should be able to get back into my routine of having coffee and a chat with him every week. I look forward to that, too.

I am off tomorrow (Monday), but the day will be mostly things like doing some banking, making an appointment for my annual check-up at the doctor (and renewal of prescriptions), housecleaning and laundry.

And that is all the news that's not even fit to blog.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blah Thursday morning

Just starting out as that kind of day.

It is 5 degrees at 8:00 AM (-15 C), and today is the day we load carts at the library, unload carts at Our House Memory Care, load carts at Our House, unload carts at Golden Living, load carts at Golden Living, unload carts at Colonial Apartments, load carts of Colonial Apartments, unload carts at the library. Not that this is much physical work, but it does involve standing out in the bitter cold over and over and over and over, between which we are in overheated nursing homes.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you!

It has been a fullish week, too, and I am tired and ready for a weekend. But since I had Monday off, I will work Saturday. And I have been to two extra meetings this week in the evening after a full day at work (after a 10-hour day on Tuesday), so I am not getting my usual downtime.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I am not working Kirstin's crazy schedule plus trying to take care of a baby and all the rest of that! Nor am I preparing to move or to have people move in with me. So I should just be happy I have a job I do still love and the worst thing I have to do is come home to a hot meal Tom has prepared for me, watch a little TV and go to bed.

What's not to like, really?

Oh yeah. The backup computer I had been using died ...

To balance that, someone just bought nine books!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dog name

Loki.

There is a rationale, but I did not quite understand it because Tom and Peter were explaining it at the same time.

Loki is a Norse god (or not), who is a sort of devil figure (or not), maybe more like the Trickster figure in Native American legends. Hard to get hold of, sometimes helpful, sometimes destructive.

Sounds more like a cat's name to me!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Noko?

Ashley (and Peter) got a puppy today, a Huskie (mix?) born in November. They were discussing the name and that went all over the place. I googled some Native American names, suggested Paphnutius (a holy Egyptian monk of the fourth century) and other improbable things. Tom was pushing for Schlomo. Last I heard it might by Noko (short for Innoko, the wilderness through which the Iditarod dogs race).

At any rate, Tom and I tried to get photos, and I think Tom had better luck. That's his photo above. Ashley finally held him up for me to get a close-up, insisting that I crop her out of the picture. As you can see, Noko (or Whoever) was not all that happy to have his photo taken. That was one reason I suggested a Native American name -- some traditional tribesfolk don't like to be photographed. He was a totally calm puppy, though, and very quiet. (The cats, needless to say, disappeared into the basement as soon as the pup appeared on the scene.) He has those lovely ice-blue eyes, which I understand often are linked to poor eyesight.

I also suggested to Ashley that they put him in the middle of a room and four or five people could stand around, calling out different names. When he responded to one, that would be his name. She is a friendly young woman and smiled kindly, but she clearly thought this was not a good idea.

BTW, if you are worried about the cats, I believe He-Who-Must-Not-Yet-Be-Named will be living mostly at Ashley's for now. I told Sundance that a new puppy doesn't mean we don't still love her, but she looked totally skeptical about my explanation.

Make your plans now!

Celebrate National Bookmobile Day
during
National Library Week 2010

CHICAGO – Bookmobiles and direct-delivery outreach services are an integral, vital part of libraries around the country.

Their contribution to public life will be recognized during National Bookmobile Day, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, as part of National Library Week. National Library Week is an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.

For more than 100 years, bookmobiles have served rural, urban, suburban and tribal areas, bringing access to information and life-long learning resources to all classes and communities as a central part of library service. National Bookmobile Day will serve to highlight their value and extend their reach.

For more information about Bookmobiles and the latest updates, resources, and events on National Bookmobile Day, visit www.ala.org/bookmobiles or contact ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4294, or email olos@ala.org.

To learn more about National Library Week 2010 visit www.ala.org/nlw.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) and the Association for Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) are sponsors for National Bookmobile Day.

National Bookmobile Day is coordinated by the Bookmobile Advisory Sub-Committee of the OLOS Advisory Committee and OLOS Staff acting as liaison to the committee, in conjunction with the Public Awareness Committee and ALA’s Public Information Office (PIO). ABOS, an ALA Affiliate and co-sponsor of National Bookmobile Day has been the leader in organizing bookmobile staff around issues affecting their work life and visibility in the profession for over 20 years.

Six degrees

In a comment on my last post, Kristin says something about six degrees of separation. Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth. It was popularized by a play written by John Guare and made into a movie starring Will Smith.

Because of my time with the Carmelites especially, I came to see how this works. For example, I am only one degree away from the Pope, whom I met when he was a cardinal. So that puts me just a couple of steps away from lots of world leaders. Tom knows President Obama from when they both lived in Hyde Park. That puts me two steps away from the President, and through the president, three steps away from everyone in Congress and on the Supreme Court and governors of the states and ... And my friend Steve works as an interpreter at the Capitol, so he is another link to all those politicians. Oh, and Tom also knows the guy who is the Obama family's cook at the White House. I have way too many ways in there!

I know Cardinal George of Chicago -- which puts me just a step away from lots of Chicago politicians I might just as soon not know -- and the Archbishop of Baghdad, which means I am only a couple of steps away from most of the leaders in Iraq. So that means I am only a few degrees away from some pretty scary people. And since you know me, so are you!

Tom knows Harrison Ford, who was Tom's brother Steve's roommate in college, and there we get into the whole Hollywood network. Since the main actor noted for these things is Kevin Bacon, I am only four degrees away from Kevin Bacon because he was in Stir of Echoes with Mike Bacarella who was in The Fugitive with Harrison Ford. Again, since you know me, you are just a few steps away from your favorite movie or television star through me -- and probably through other links as well.

After all, Mama and Daddy met Dolly Parton and even gave her a ride. So the whole country music world just got drawn in.

Because of my year in St. Louis with priests, brothers and sisters from around the world, I have connections into, among other places: Ireland, Australia, Spain, Ghana, Kenya (lots there!), Malawi, India, Japan, the Philippines (again, lots!), Germany, Ethiopia, Italy. George Anastaplo (Helen's father, whom I know myself) knows the king of Greece. Which I suspect means I am only three or four degrees away from the Queen of England and family. But then I am only a few steps away from them through the President, too.

Tom is related to St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) through his mother, so I am only a few steps away from the saint whose canonization I attended in Rome back in 1998, except she died in Auschwitz in 1942, before I (or Tom, for that matter) were even born.

I know someone from Croatia and someone from Bosnia, lots of folks from Poland and a few from Russia. I know people from Korea and Vietnam, from South Africa and Israel, from New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, from Jamaica and Ecuador. All of whom connect to people in all those places and beyond.

Once at Holy Hill I met a family from Huntsville, Texas. When they ran bus tours, Ray and Christine used to visit Brookline, MA (when I lived there even) and Wisconsin Dells (before I had even heard of it.)

And on and on and on it goes. We are all connected more closely than we imagine.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Small world department


Friday I was helping a new volunteer at the library locate some books, and she mentioned being from Texas. I asked her what part and she said Houston. I told her I had grown up in Huntsville, and she said I must know where Conroe is. I said sure, and she admitted to being from Conroe. Then she confessed to really being from Cut and Shoot. Turns out her grown daughter now lives in Willis.

It may be a big state, but it's a small world.

Antiques Roadshow

In looking online for something to do this weekend, I happened across this article. I had noticed that Antiques Roadshow was going to be from Madison next week, but I did not know the particular background. Read on! (And if you have any of this stuff, they want it back.)

'Antiques Roadshow' Seeks Return of Artifacts

"Antiques Roadshow," the popular and long-running PBS television program, will roll out a new show on Monday, February 22, that will showcase a number of Native American artifacts stolen from the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Museum in hopes of assisting in their return. After museum curators discovered the artifacts were missing 10 years ago, an investigation revealed that the museum's former curator of anthropology, David Wooley, had stolen them. The investigation led to Wooley's arrest, conviction and imprisonment for felony theft. Curators determined that Wooley took more than 300 ethnographic and archaeological artifacts. To date the museum has recovered only 33 of the objects, and "Antiques Roadshow" wants to help get the word out from coast to coast in an effort to turn up more of the missing items. The program will air nationally the week of February 22, and WHA-TV in Madison will broadcast the show at 7 p.m. Monday, February 22.
How a German Professor Uncovered the Thefts

In 2000 Professor Christian Feest of Hamburg, Germany, became aware of the planned sale of a Native American war club when he spotted the artifact in an auction house catalog. Recognizing the item as something he had researched at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Feest contacted staff at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. His inquiry sparked the Capitol Police investigation that led to Wooley's arrest.

As part of the investigation, Jennifer Kolb (then deputy museum director) and Scott Roller (collections manager), with the assistance of retired curator Joan Freeman and other staff, inventoried the Native American collections. That inventory revealed the extent of the thefts. Determined to recover as many artifacts as possible, the museum staff has shared information about the missing objects with police departments across the country, written articles and given programs about the thefts, and distributed lists of the missing objects at various professional meetings.
'Antiques Roadshow' Involved in the Case Early On

Two antique dealers who regularly consult for "Antiques Roadshow" became involved the investigation in its early stages when they helped to identify and recover three missing objects. In the spring of 2009, Ann Koski, then the museum's director, received a call from Sarah Elliot, an assistant producer for "Antiques Roadshow," which was planning a shoot in Madison in July. Elliot said that the show was now producing and airing a new segment that publicizes thefts to help organizations and individuals recover stolen artifacts. Elliot had called the Wisconsin State Police to inquire about any major artifact thefts in the state, and the State Police referred her to the museum. Koski told Elliot about the Wooley theft and noted that two of the show's experts had played a key role in the recovery of some of the missing objects. It had now been 10 years since the theft's discovery, and Capitol Police had informed the museum that, typically, stolen items begin to appear on the market after that length of time. "Roadshow" provided the perfect opportunity to publicize the theft once again.

"Antiques Roadshow" decided the museum thefts made a worthy topic for the theft recovery segment, and Elliot set up dates in July to shoot on location. The "Roadshow" crew spent three days on site shooting footage of the recovered objects, the Native American collections storage area, and objects that Wooley had substituted to cover up the theft. "Roadshow" host Mark Walberg interviewed Koski and Capitol Police Detective Ed Bardon about their roles in the detection of the theft, the investigation and the artifact recovery effort.

Friday, February 19, 2010

And here's Michael!

This is the article from the local paper. It strikes me as poorly written and the headline is weird. But whaddya gonna do?


Former priest drives bookmobile



Michael Dodd, the Kilbourn Library's newest employee, will be driving the bookmobile.
By Anna Krejci, Dells Events

New library employee Michael Dodd thinks it’s special that he has the job driving the Kilbourn Public Library bookmobile and transporting library materials to outlying residents.

"I’m very happy to be doing the bookmobile because when I was young there was no public library in the town where I lived, and so the bookmobile, when it came around periodically was a big event," he said.

Dodd has been a Dells resident since May 2006, but he’s lived in many different places. He was born in Georgia but grew up in Texas. During his adult life he held jobs in small academic, religious libraries in Dallas, Texas, Washington, D.C. and at Holy Hill.

Dodd said he was a Roman Catholic priest and a Discalced Carmelite friar for three decades. He’s no longer active in that profession, but over the years he has used his master’s degree in theology to write about religion and spirituality, and his work has been published.

He’s written a book about Elijah in the Old Testament of the Bible, and he’s translated ancient writings on spirituality from 16th century Spain.

While most of his writing is non-fiction, he recently had a fiction novel published, titled "The Dark Night Murders." He said it is a mystery story set in a Spanish monastery in the 16th century.

The Kilbourn Public Library has a copy of it, he said.

Lately, since being hired as a full-time employee at the library, his job has kept him busy. He rides the bookmobile four days a week and once a month on Saturdays. He is being trained in labeling new DVDs for circulation. He also handles check-outs at the circulation desk.

Dodd was introduced to the library as a volunteer several years ago, and that helped him decide that working at the library was something he wanted to do.

"I love the library. I love books. I love helping people find things," he said. "When I was here as a volunteer, the time here always went very fast. I enjoyed the time I spent here. I enjoyed the staff."

When he began working at the library last month it was like a "Christmas present," he said.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The things you find in library archives

When Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Oscars in 2007, she wore a gold tux designed to make her look like one of the statuettes being awarded. Are you with me so far?

Turns out that one of the regulars at the library once had a twin brother who lived in California. The twin died a couple of years ago, but before he died, he sent a large piece of the gold material from which Ellen's tux had been made, along with a signed note from her, to the Kilbourn Public Library to put in its archives. He assured the library that someday it could be worth big bucks.

Absurd, but then, who knows? People sell stranger things than that on eBay just about every day of the week.

At any rate, apparently this inspired one of the librarians to suggest that we have an Oscars Day at the library (I assume on Saturday, March 6, the day before the broadcast), and that the staff all dress up in formal attire. That means evening gowns for the ladies and tuxedos -- NOT gold -- for the men. Jim and I, the two male librarians, both pointed out that we do not have tuxedos hanging in the closet. I don't know if I want to rent a tux to wear to work, but it could be entertaining. I had suggested as an alternative that we wear a costume connected to one of the movies being nominated, but I was assured that that would be too complicated.

When you consider that Saturday is even-more-casual-than-usual-clothing at the library, evening gowns and tuxes would be a big change. Jim sometimes wears a tie to work, but on the weekend he usually shows up in jeans with his shirttail out. The women often wear jeans any day of the week, and weekends tend toward sweatshirts or seasonally-appropriate sports team t-shirts.

I suspect this formal dress-up idea will fade into the night. Not into Oscar night -- just into the night.

BTW, if you, like me, have no idea which movies have been nominated for Best Picture this year, the list is below. I can proudly say that I have seen none of them, and I have only the vaguest idea what half of them are even about. Maybe a costume connected to them would be too complicated, although I suppose one could always just paint one's face blue.
Best motion picture of the year Oscars 2010 Nominees:
*“Avatar”
*“The Blind Side”
*“District 9″
*“An Education”
*“The Hurt Locker”
*“Inglourious Basterds”
*“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
*“A Serious Man”
*“Up”
*“Up in the Air”

Updates now available

We have decided to keep an eye out for a new laptop for me, and meanwhile I am using Tom's HP Pavilion, his backup computer. It should serve me well until such time as a reasonably good deal comes along. My own computer is also a backup for now. It works, but when it is first turned on, the screen looks like someone scattered phosphorescent dust across it until the computer warms up. Colors switch back and forth and so on. And the on/off switch has been temperamental for some time.

Everything important has been backed up, so life goes on more or less as before.

Today a reporter from the local rag, Wisconsin Dells Events, is supposed to drop by the library to interview me as a new employee. I will either copy the article here when it appears or post a link for you. This gives you an idea of what a happening place the Dells is in winter, when a new library employee makes the news.

Oh yeah, today is Ash Wednesday for those who need to know. I think doing the newspaper interview will be my Lenten penance this year.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Going, going ...

My laptop is not quite as bad off as the one in the photo, but it is giving every sign on signing out for good. So I may be down for a little while soon. Tom will do a backup today while I am at the library and see if he can figure out and resolve the problem. But a new laptop will be in my near future, I suppose.

Updates as events warrant.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lunar New Year [with tax update]

Not only is it Valentine's Day, it is the Lunar New Year. Tom and I went to Portage to a Chinese restaurant that had been recommended, but they were closed. Not sure if it is for the holiday (or both holidays?) or just because it is Sunday. At any rate, we wound up eating at La Tolteca, an interesting Mexican restaurant. Tom had beef flautas and I had enchiladas Poblanas -- chicken enchiladas in a mole sauce.
[For those unfamiliar with mole -- pronounced moe-lay -- it is a chocolate-based spicy sauce from Puebla. It is not sweet, but the thought of the chocolate part does frighten some people away. The recipe was allegedly revealed to a nun in Puebla by an angel back in the fifteenth or sixteenth century.]
Then we made a quick stop at Goodwill for me to pick up three ties -- one covered with computers, one with a Winnie the Pooh theme and another with Warner Brothers cartoon characters.

Then home for me to gather info for my income taxes so Tom can start putting that together. Also some housecleaning and other not-so-Valentine's-Day activities.

I hope Riley and Brooke had great birthdays this weekend!

And, although we did not get Chinese food, here is a fortune cookie message for you: Money doesn't always bring happiness. People with ten million dollars are no happier than people with nine million dollars.
UPDATE: It looks like I will get a small refund from the federal income tax -- every little bit helps. Now we will have to see about the state income tax. I could get more back, but because the IRS considers the work I do for the Carmelite Institute and my book sales as self-employment -- nothing is withheld during the year -- , I need to leave some money in to cover for that next year.

In any case, I will have neither nine nor ten million dollars.

Weekend visitors & c.

Happy Valentine's Day from Sundance, Cassidy, Tom, Peter and Michael!

John, Judi and Matthew were up yesterday because John had a Board meeting at the R&GN. We had a nice visit in the afternoon and got Firehouse Pizza, our favorite local pizza place. John says it is worth the three-hour trip just to get their pizza. Judi gets to go to Turtle Island Beads when they come up (she is makng necklaces for a craft show), and so I guess she figures John needs something nice, too. Matthew got to play with various electrical fixtures, tease the cats and play with Tom's Lionel train set. He even got the train to puff smoke, so it was a successful visit for him, too.

I had been craving Thai Chicken Pizza from Firehouse for a while, and since we were ordering three pizzas, it gave me a chance to get what I wanted. Ordinarily we get their Deluxe (which Tom insists on calling "garbage" because that is what the analogous pizza-with-everything is called by the Medici in Hyde Park), which is an excellent pizza, but not Thai Chicken. Thai Chicken Pizza has peanut sauce, jalapeƱos, diced chicken, broccoli, onion and Swiss cheese. John was the only one willing to give it a try, but I don't think he will do it again. I ordered a small one, knowing I will always have it pretty much to myself.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday yawns

I had the day off today, because the bookmobile goes out on the second Saturday of the month -- which means work tomorrow. Didn't get much accomplished, beyond doing some laundry, doing some research for a short story I am writing and listening to some lectures on comparative religion. Tom and I went out for fish with Rich this evening. I only ate half of mine, and I got a box to bring the rest home. Which box I left on the table when we departed. Oh, well.

Tom and Peter are watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I am listening to more lectures on comparative religion. They are by Charles Kimball, head of the religious studies department at the University of Oklahoma. He is a Baptist minister and an expert in Islamic studies. I always need to learn more about Islam, of course. And his comments on Buddhism and Hinduism are a good refresher from courses I had long ago. I don't suppose I am hearing too much I had not heard or read before, but everyone has a unique perspective to bring to the topic.

Only going a little below zero tonight ...

On a somber note, I am saddened by the tragedies in Alabama and the fatal accident at the Olympics today. There was a shooting in nearby Baraboo, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Zero Facebook

It is 0 outside (-17.7 C) on this bright sunny Thursday morning. It should get up just below freezing. Thursday is the day the bookmobile staff (Kathy, Laura and Michael) expect bad weather because it is the day we have to load and unload book carts at a couple of nursing homes and a retirement apartment building. It only takes five to ten minutes each of the eight times we do it, but in single digit temperatures, the least bit of wind makes it not fun.

As for Facebook, I heard by the grapevine (i.e., Tom) that a mutual friend wondered if I had dropped Facebook or if I had removed him from my friends list. So for those who read this, I have deactivated my Facebook account. Since I use Twitter to keep up with family, I figured I don't need to spend time at Facebook, too. So -- nothing personal. Just trying to "simplify, simplify, simplify" as so many spiritual guides recommend.

I believe my friends have my email address and can always check with me that way!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mac and cheese update

The rice cooker mac and cheese turned out pretty good -- you can click here if you want the recipe -- but I will use more cheese next time I make it. It was very easy to make, so if you have a rice cooker and want to do more than just rice, this is an easy way to make another side dish for variety. I used a mix of cheddar, Mexican Blend and Danish fontina cheese and whole wheat elbow macaroni.

And with that, I am signing off for the day.

Super Bowl?

Well, there's not a Texas team or a Wisconsin team or a Chicago team or a team from any of the places I have lived in the Super Bowl, but of course I wouldn't watch it anyway. Not even for the ads.

The Super Bowl event I did attend, though, was a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. Every January, people in the area are invited to go to a workshop at Baraboo High School and shown how to make bowls in the art department. The bowls are then fired and brought out to the Souper Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday. You buy the handmade bowls of your choice for ten dollars and get all the homemade soup and desserts you can eat. They serve the soup in little styrofoam bowls, which is a good thing since many of the bowls are quite small or otherwise not likely to hold much soup for long. At the end of it all, you get to take the bowl home. The students in the food service program at the high school make a couple of homemade soups and some chili as well. Tom and I both had the chili, which was pretty good despite being not Texas red, and we picked up two of the better looking bowls.


This one is mine, about five and half inches in diameter at the top and about three inches high.


Tom's is rather small, about two inches in diameter at the widest point and an inch and a half high. It looks like it was made to hold a single flower or branch in an ikebana style.

Afterward, we went to Menard's so Tom could pick up some ice-melt for the railroad. (He and Dick Rosenthal are the snow removal volunteers there this winter.) Then to Walmart to pick up some ingredients for dinner. I am making meatloaf and trying out a mac and cheese recipe that you make in the rice cooker. I'll let you know how that comes out, in case you want to try it. (Meatloaf and macaroni and cheese: comfort food for a winter Sunday afternoon when the snow is falling gently outside!)

Meanwhile, I put out some fresh catnip and the cats were RIGHT THERE! They rolled around and then you could almost hear their little feline heads doing a Cheech and Chong imitation: "Say man, did you ever look at your paw, man? I mean, really look at your paw?"

That'll teach me to open my big mouth!

After my smarting off about winter storms, now the Weather Service is warning us of a potential storm coming through here Monday and Sunday and dumping six to ten inches of the white stuff on us. That far away, they could be totally off track and lots of these storms go just south of us.

Updates as (snow) events warrant.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Not to get competitive or anything ...


Rick sent this photo of the balcony of his and Steve's living room. They are trapped along with millions of other people by Snowmageddon on the East Coast, but I am sure they will survive.

We, on the other hand, haven't had much of a snowfall to amount to anything like what is happening out there or even what the Texas Panhandle part of the Dodd clan has had to put up with recently.

Even so, here is a picture of our deck this afternoon.


The snow that is still out there is over 18 inches deep in places. And it has been that way probably since our December blizzard. If the pattern holds true, we can expect another couple of big snowfalls before winter is over. We are supposed to have snow showers Monday and Tuesday, but not enough to close anything down.

Still, Rick and Steve seem to be getting a whole winter's worth of snow in one storm -- for the second time this winter, right?

Folks, come visit us in balmy Wisconsin to get away from it all!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Post-Groundhog's Day Post

When I started at the library, I said I would probably start whining by Groundhog's Day. Well, here it is, a few days after Punxatawney Phil decided we would have six more weeks of winter -- no news to us here in Wisconsin, although our local groundhog did not see his shadow -- and I am not whining yet. I am relaxing into the job, find that I now know how to do most of the things I need to do and people are happy to help prompt me on the ones I have yet to master. I have received two paychecks and my health insurance cards, and I am loving that. So it is going well.

On a sad note, Ruth DeMelo, a friend from my Rhode Island days died this past weekend. She was 80 and had been in poor health for some time. Ruth volunteered at the monastery in Barrington by answering the door and phone for the nuns most days, and she did a lot of other things for them. She was a sweet woman and generous with her time and energy, although her financial resources were limited. I know the nuns will miss her steady presence and help.