Saturday, June 30, 2012


Our friend Michelangelo was up this weekend from Chicago. It has been a couple of years since we saw him, and it was good to catch up. He and Tom did railroad stuff and took a boat ride on the river Friday afternoon while I was otherwise occupied. I took him over to the library to introduce him to folks and to show him where I had been working. This afternoon he and Tom went to Portage to be in a parade and hand out Fred Clark stuff. It is a nice, hot sunny day and I passed up the opportunity to walk for an hour on paved streets. Tonight we plan to go for Chinese at a new restaurant in the Dells for which I was given a gift certificate at my retirement party.

This morning they played cowboys, shooting Tom's replica whatever-this-is at the target setup in the back. Here's the gun, Tom loading it and showing Michael how it's done. As you can see behind Michael, the trumpet vine is flourishing in this dry heat.

Once the shooting started, the cats decided that would be a good time to investigate the basement. There is a gun club up the road a piece, and Peter, Tom and others shoot in the backyard from time to time. The cats should be used to it, but they like gunshots even less than they like the vacuum cleaner.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Enchiladas suizas and gazpacho

This evening we are having Peggy over for dinner. I made enchiladas suizas, based on a recipe from the original Sanborns at the Casa de Aulejos in Mexico City. She is a big fan and it is fun to cook for someone who appreciates the effort. I kept thing simple, though. Just the enchiladas and gazpacho. I found an easy recipe for gazpacho recently and have been making it for myself. (I juiced it up a bit by adding chopped green pepper and a spritz of lemon just before serving.) Cold tomato soup may not sound all that hot -- pun intended -- but it is a refreshing start to a summer evening's dinner. And much lighter fare than beans and rice, much as I love those. Peggy is providing watermelon for dessert, a perfect ending to this sort of meal.

 The Casa de Azulejos has become something of a home away from home for many American tourists in Mexico City, housing a comfortable and reasonably priced courtyard restaurant, gift shop and -- at least when I was last there -- easy money exchange. The colonial building itself has exterior walls completely covered with  glazed ceramic tiles (azulejos), hence its popular name Casa de Azulejos or House of Tiles. For over two centuries, the property was held by the Condes [Counts] del Valle de Orizaba, one of the wealthiest families in Mexico. There is little documentation on the construction of the building, but a legend has grown up around its origin. It tells of a ne’er-do-well son of one of the Counts. Enraged by his son’s irresponsibility, the Count claims his son will “never build a house of tiles,” a Spanish saying that is the equivalent of saying that he will never amount to anything. The son takes heed, becomes rich, then builds literally the House of Tiles. Some think that it is more likely that the Countess Graciana (1683-1737) built the house. She moved from Puebla to Mexico City in 1708, and according to her will, she rebuilt the family mansion. Perhaps more likely but not nearly as good a story.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Well, here it is, Monday morning and I am not going to have to work until 8:15 p.m. Such a deal! Since I decided to retire, I have been waking up around 5:00 every morning, but today I slept -- really slept -- until 8:00. Not sure why. Maybe just asserting that I can.

I survived a a week of goodbyes and small gifts. Kelli, the Activities Director at one of the nursing homes the Bookmobile visits, insisted on a picture with Kathie and me in front of the Bookmobile. That's Kelli on my right and Kathie on my left. Kathie has worked with me on the Bookmobile ever since I started and she remains to carry on with the new person. Who that will be is still unknown.

So what am I doing in my retirement? I plan to do not much for a while. This week I have set up a house cleaning schedule to prepare for guests. Michelangelo is due later this week and Helen will be coming while I am in Texas. I will clean a room a day -- leaving Tom to do his rooms -- and things should be presentable soon. Otherwise I plan to relax, ride the exercycle, read, listen to audiobooks, visit with friends and cook some meals. My work schedule has meant that Tom has carried the load of cooking dinners all the time, and now it is my turn to lend a hand.

I understand some friends have joined the readership here. Welcome! Now that I am not working full time, I may be blogging a bit more. But I really do plan on finishing some of the other writing projects I have underway: a second mystery novel, three short story collections, etc.

That's it for now. I have to get to work on the bathroom!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Taste of the Dells and stuff

Although the tourist season – referred to in Wisconsin Dells as The Season – begins Memorial Day weekend, the first big blowout of The Season occurred this weekend. It used to be called Heritage Days, but in the last few years it has become Taste of the Dells. Admittedly this is not an original idea, but it seems trendier than Heritage Days, which may imply that all you can celebrate is your past. The festival takes place downtown and features over twenty local restaurants serving a variety of foods.

Riverfest, the main fundraiser for the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River – okay, try saying that in one breath – has piggybacked on the Taste weekend this year. It used to be held in early April, but too often it was still beastly cold for the sorts of activities involved. The idea is to get people to take advantage of the River itself and there is kayaking, a Triathlon, and other such physical activities.

The library also piggybacks on the Taste by having the first of our three annual book sales. I worked in the library yesterday and then helped with the cleanup. It looks like they did a bang up business. The Friends of the Library organize and run this activity, and proceeds go to special projects, such as purchasing equipment that we would otherwise not be able to get. Before I started work at the library, I was part of the Friends and I will probably get involved again after I retire.

Speaking of retirement, I made the front page of the local news. Well, the very, very, very bottom of the front page at the end on an article on the book sale and the Library Board meeting. To quote: “In other action, the board accepted the resignation of staff member Michael Dodd with regrets and thanks for his service. Dodd will retire June 30.” I am going to assume that they accepted the news with regrets and thanked me for my service, not that they accepted it with regrets AND thanks. Reminds me of a fortune cookie I got once: “Your talents will be suitably rewarded.” That can cut both ways!

There is also a crafts fair as part of all this, and Tom and I went over there this morning to look around before the afternoon heat.  [Weather digression: Sunny and high of 90 (32.2 C) today, 85 (29.4 C) with thunderstorms tomorrow, sunny and high of 72 (22.2 C) on Tuesday.] This was a pretty spare fair, if I may put it that way. We have noticed in the six years we have been living here that the various arts and crafts fairs in the area have been steadily shrinking in size. Not that we ever found stuff that we liked all that much, but it is a relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon, strolling around, talking to people, bumping into neighbors. It is sad to see the disappearing fairs as another sign of the hard times.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Buy Nook or buy book

I uploaded the Elijah book this morning, and when I went to check on it at Barnes & Noble online (it should take 24 hours, but I was in a hurry), I discovered that Barnes & Noble is now carrying both the Nook versions and the paperback book version of my books. Again I am not expecting any sudden surge in purchases because of this, but it does mean that the books are now available on the two main online book services.

Pretty cool, IMHO.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nookify [UPDATED]

(I googled nookify and found nothing, so perhaps it is my neologism, all my own. I did find bookify ...)

I nookified my mystery novel late Saturday night. What that means is that it is now available as a Nook book -- an e-book -- through Barnes & Noble online. After it showed up on their page today selling for the same as the hard copy, Tom suggested that I drop the e-book price since people get nothing except the reading of the book. I said that is all they really get with the actual book, but he pointed out that they can use the book as a paperweight or something useful after they read it, assuming they do read it. So I dropped the price for the e-book, but the change will not show up online for another day or two. As it turns out, my royalties for the less expensive e-book are within a few cents of the royalties for the real book.

I plan to nookify the other two books later. Not that I am expecting much action in this regard. But it is fun to know that somewhere out there, beneath the cyber sky, my words are sitting in binary code on a server. Sheldon Cooper would be proud.

UPDATE: This afternoon I nookified the Gratian book. That just leaves the Elijah book to go.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Coming soon!

Well, we finally figured out how to manage it so that I can retire. My official retirement date will be June 30, 2012. In order to use up my paid vacation time, I will work my final day at the library on Saturday, June 23. When I brought the idea up with my boss, I thought it would be a bit further away, but the city/library policy seems to be to act fast. So ...

I am trying to get all the preparatory work done. My Social Security application has been sent in. I am working on getting my health insurance in place so that my new individual policy kicks in on July 1. I have most of the 14 page application filled out, but I need to get a few pieces of information from my doctor Monday to finish that and mail it in. My group insurance ends June 30. If there is a hang up, I will be able to continue with the group policy, paying the full premium -- which is steep! -- until my new policy is set.

I am also trying to work out exactly how to use up my vacation time and my comp time so that I am actually finished on June 23. I have figured out a couple of ways to do it. I am taking two days off next week anyway, and I will run the other ideas past my boss when I get back to work.

On other fronts, Peter was here for a week between school sessions. He seems to be doing quite well. I am proud of him! He headed back this morning and will return for about a month in July. I will be away part of that time, because I plan to go to Texas for a visit with my mother and other family folks after July 4.

My good friend from my Carmelite days, Fr. Steve Payne, is in the Midwest for a couple of conferences. He has a few free days and we plan to get together for lunch within the next few days. It has been a couple of years since I saw him, and after this, it will probably be another couple before we see each other again. It will be good to catch up.

Meanwhile I move along towards the next part of the journey.