Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shana Tova
Happy New Year
2011 - 5772

We wish you and your family a year filled
with health, happiness and prosperity

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Michael Potter

Kristin recently went through a lot of old family photos with Mama and sent a bunch of them to each of us in the family. Included in my batch was a photo taken when I was a novice in 1974 at the ripe old age of 24. A friend who was majoring in photography at the local state university wanted to take my picture for a portrait class and posed me for this in the Episcopal church in Huntsville. It used to hang in Daddy's home office until he replaced it with a picture of him with his arm around Dolly Parton. (Sniff!)

Anyway, the ladies at the library all said that I look like Harry Potter in this picture. Well, I did once write a little story for Kristin in which I was a wizard ... though not a very competent one.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Big Book News!

Okay, not really. But it was fun ... for about ten minutes.

The activities director at Golden Living -- one of the places the bookmobile goes -- recently learned that I had written a book that the library owned. So she checked it out. A resident, overhearing the conversation, wanted a copy, too. So I got the one that the neighboring library in Baraboo owns. The resident liked it so much and talked it up, and I wound up getting the the third library copy for yet another patron.

As far as I know, these are the only public-library-owned copies of the book out there. And for one brief, shining moment, they were all three checked out!

Of course, ten minutes after the third one was checked out, the first one was returned. So when I say "brief, shining moment", I mean brief.

Still, a guy can glory in a moment, right?

On the other hand, one of the guys asked to read the Elijah book, too. (The library does not own a copy of that or the Gratian translation.) So I took him a copy but reminded him that it is not a mystery novel. So I am not sure how excited he will be by it -- but at least it is not long!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Another tragic reminder that bullying against gay youth is a continuing problem comes with the suicide of a 14-year-old boy, Jamey Rodemeyer, who had asked for help repeatedly.

The Buffalo, New York, teen died on Sunday, his body found later outside his home after an apparent suicide, according to the Buffalo News. His death followed his blogging about the bullying at school that just wouldn't stop.

"I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens," he wrote on September 9. "What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wooly potty?

Today many think the mere appearance of the woolly caterpillar is a prediction of a harsh winter. We forget if the orange rings mean a long or short winter. The legend dates back to the Native American Indians who taught colonists about the woolly bear caterpillar's ability to presage the winter weather. In the the article, “Woolly Bear Caterpillars: Weather Predictors?” in the 1999 Old Farmer's Almanac, the real tradition is that more and wider rusty orange segments on the woolly bear caterpillar predict a winter that will be less severe than usual. If the orange rings are thin or few, the winter will be harsh.

I am reminded of a story about the young man who became chief of his tribe after the death of his uncle. The uncle had been famous for his accurate predictions about the severity of upcoming winters, and the tribe had always followed his advice about how much preparation they needed to make in the months prior to the onset of the cold. As a result, they had prospered.

The nephew, because he had not expected to become chief, had not learned how to predict the winter in the traditional ways and instead had obtained an MBA from Harvard. He had expected to live out his days as an accountant at the tribal casino.

But that was not to be.

So when the first September rolled around, he did what any modern young man would do -- he contacted the local office of the National Weather Service. They explained that all indications were for an average winter ahead.

The young chief returned to his people with the good news, but because of his business training, he knew the importance of putting in a disclaimer. So he decided to hedge his bets a bit by saying that the coming winter, while not harsh, would be a bit worse than usual. As a result, the members of the tribe began to store up more firewood and to lay in more canned goods.

A few weeks later, tribal elders came to the chief to see if he had any more details. He told them he would consult the Great Spirit and get back to them.

This time when he called the Weather Service, they said that it was beginning to look like the winter might be a bit more severe than they had expected, but nothing to be too worried about.

Hedging his bets again, the chief told the elders that now the Great Spirit and all the signs of nature indicated that winter might be middling bad. So they went back with this message and all the people chopped more firewood, canned more vegetables and starting buying up heavier blankets at the local shops.

In late October, the elders returned, a bit concerned now because it was beginning to look like there would be a shortage of food and perhaps even of firewood. There were no blankets left to be had in the area. The chief wiped the sweat from his forehead when he heard this, and promised to see what he could learn.

This time when he called the Weather Service, he was agitated by their message: It looked like it might be a record cold winter.

"Look, guys," he said. "In early September you told me the winter would be nothing big. Then you said it was going to be middling. Now you are predicting record low temperatures and blizzards. What happened to change your earlier forecast?"

There was along pause on the other end of the line and then an embarrassed voice said, "Well, this is just between you and me, okay? Our equipment and computer models still all say it will be a mild winter. But for some reason the local tribes have been putting up food and firewood and buying up blankets like mad, and we figure they must know something we don't know!"
Why do I say this? The cats seem to have begun using their litter boxes weeks earlier than usual this year. They normally are happy to poop and scoop outside until later in the fall, but they have been doing their business inside for the past couple of weeks. I don't know if they have been consulting the weather service or if -- more likely -- they have just decided it is more convenient to use the indoor plumbing.

But you may want to lay in a supply of blankets.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Happy birthday, Tom!

What would Cassidy, Sundance and I do without you?

Not to mention the Riverside & Great Northern Preservation Society, Kilbourn Public Library, Stewards of the Dells, the Democratic Party ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two-cat nights

They say the low tonight will be 32 degrees ( 0 C), and Tom dismantled the fountain on the deck to get ready for it. High today and tomorrow around 56 (53 C). Ah, mid-September in Wisconsin!

The bookmobile was at Lake Delton Elementary School this afternoon and there were kids running around the playground in flip-flops, shorts and sleeveless t-shirts.

It's all what you're used to, I guess.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fish tacos

Sprecher's opened a place on the strip in Lake Delton this summer, and I have been wanting to try it. We waited until after the crush of the tourist season was over, though, to give it a shot.

Tom had a roast turkey sandwich -- figuring it was the least poisonous thing on the rather eclectic menu. (It is hard to get him to go somewhere new or try something unfamiliar. But he can be converted pretty easily is he has a good experience.)

I decided to give the fish tacos a try. They have never sounded particularly good to me, not being much of a fish fan to begin with. But I gave it a whirl along with sweet potato fries, which have lately become a favorite alternative side. And I have to say, I am a fan. They were pretty messy to eat, but that comes with the territory when you're talking tacos of any kind. Now that I have taken the plunge, I will experiment with them at other places. It would be good to find ones with grilled fish instead of fries; at least that's what my meddlesome doctor would tell me.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Path in Dodd Wood, Lake Country, England

Ironing Man


For 30 years in the monastery, getting dressed for work was easy: I threw on my habit, tied the leather cincture around my waist and I was set for most any occasion.

Now life is more complicated. Tom convinced me that wearing casual long sleeve business shirt with a tie was the way to go for work, and I have followed his advice -- adjusting it a bit by wearing cartoon and other novelty ties to keep things light. But long sleeve business casual shirts need to be ironed, again according to His Lawyerlyness. Which was fine back when he was happy to do my ironing, although he was a bit heavy on the starch. But since he retired and got involved in everything under the sun from quarter-scale steam trains to local political campaigns and saving-the-Dells, the ironing has fallen to my lot.

During the summer, I am not so into the casual-business-shirts-with-ties, although I do wear them from time to time. But it is Labor Day, the weather is changing (high of 65 [18.3C] today), and I spent part of the morning ironing enough of those long sleeve business casual shirts to keep me going for the next couple of weeks.

Reminds me of a joke I heard a few years ago:
The good news, ladies, is that there are men who will iron their own shirts.

Bet you already guessed the bad news.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Family ties (liens de famille)

We went into Madison today to do some shopping. Tom wanted to get some art supplies and I had several things I was looking for. Among things I picked up was this book on the history of Wales. Since we have been looking into family origins and all, I have become more interested in the Welsh connection.

Kristin meanwhile is looking across the English Channel and thinks she has now linked us to Pepin of Landen and Charlemagne. This is a source of some amusement to me, because I wish I could see my brother's face when he realizes he has French blood! Even without the Carolingian connection, the French part seems assured. Our Norman ancestors -- de Venables -- apparently came over to England with or shortly after the Conqueror in 1066, but I don't think this will make Ted happier. Dodds with their Welsh/Cheshire/Shropshire roots were already there holding lands, the name appearing in the Domesday Book.

Tom is unimpressed. He pointed out that his Jewish ancestry makes him a relative of Jesus. He figures nothing the Dodd-Morgan-Hedricks-Mitchum crowd or even the de Venables can come up with will top that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Round, plump, bald?

Since Daddy died, Kristin and Kirstin have been burning up the internet researching the family tree. They seem to be having fun -- and the occasional difference of opinion -- and I am observing with interest. At the moment, Kristin and I are working on the origin of the surname, something I looked into a few decades back. Some of the possible orgins are boringly probable -- derivation from Roger (or Roderick) which became Dodger, became Dodge, became Dodd. Others are more entertaining. My favorite is this gem, found on a number of sites about the coat of arms:

This name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is one of the earliest surnames recorded. The name derives from a Germanic word used to describe something round and plump, used in Olde English pre 7th Century as a byname or nickname for such a person, and also found recorded as a personal name. The surname Dodd and Dod, and the patronymic forms Dods and Dodds, "son of Dod(d)", may mean "the hairless or close-cropped one", from the Olde English "dod", to make bare, but in the majority of cases the surname is from the medieval personal name.[This means the dude -- er, Dodd -- was bald.]