Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ye watchers and ye holy ones

Happy feastday to all the Michaels, Gabriels and Raphaels (and variant spellings and derivatives)!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Past participling

Having accepted an invitation to become part of the editorial review board of ICS Publications, I am reading too many books on grammar, copyediting, proofreading and style.
(Hmmm. Maybe  that should be "... books on grammar, on copyediting, on proofreading and on style." And what about that serial comma? Yes? No? Or these incomplete sentences? Like that one.)  
Having warned Tom that my pedanticism (pedantry?) was likely to increase, something he considered unlikely if not impossible, I picked up another volume of William Safire. (Another volume by William Safire? Would a reader think Mr. Safire himself was a multi-volume set?) Immersing myself in his excessive lexicographical precision,  I soon surrendered control of my own utterances, discovering to my horror that I had reverted to a former (long-past? one-time?) over-dependence on participial phrases at the beginning of sentences. Aiiiiee!
(Or should I have written, "Screaming, Aiiiieee!"?) (Re-reading that question, I am puzzled by the placement of the question mark.) (Having now read the most recent sentence, I wonder if it would be stronger had I written "I puzzle over...", avoiding the passive construction.) (Or, perhaps humorously, "I question the placement of the question mark.") ("Perhaps humorously?" Only perhaps? If it is not humorous, why say it at all?) (Losing my sense of whether my revision of this still-incomplete {still incomplete? yet incomplete?}text is proofreading or copyediting or neither, I  ...)
When I studied Classical Greek at Michigan State University, much (most?) of the second year was devoted (we devoted most/much of the second year? Spent most of the second year?) to translating Xenophon's Anabasis. If you are among those fortunate enough to have forgotten your Xenophon, I remind you that his account of a military undertaking was described by Will Durant as "one of the great adventures in human history" -- IMHO (to be informal and colloquial and jargony), one of the great hyperbolic statements in human history. (To be fair, Durant meant the undertaking was one of the great adventures... or did he? Note to self: Check reference.) I mention it because the text seemed to be an endless series of sentences that read something like (that is, similar to) this: "Having crossed the river, the army marched twelve stadia." (In Greek, mind you!)

In those days I still wrote letters to family and friends, letters delivered by mail. Today we would say "by snail mail", but it was so long ago that it may indeed have been "by dinosaur mail." I began to realize that all the sentences in these letters had begun to begin (not the same as Cole Porter's 1935 song about a dance nor the same as R.E.M.'s song, "Begin the Begin") with participial phrases. I seemed to be unable to write, "Yesterday, we went to see The Graduate and then had pizza." Instead, I wrote, "Having gone to see The Graduate, we had pizza." Imagine sentence after mind-numbing sentence like (that is, similar to) that.
(Now I wonder if I should revise this entire paragraph and recast most of the sentences.) (Noting along the way that I did the proper copyediting thing -- dang, now I have to go re-check [recheck?] all the references to copyediting.) (Wait! Is re-check/recheck unambiguous? Does it mean I am going to make a check mark alongside references to copyediting or that I am going to examine appropriate references to ensure {insure?} that I have spelled it right?) ({[And what about all those brackets inside brackets, or parens, as the cognoscenti might say?]}And by "this paragraph," of course,I mean the previous paragraph, not this paragraph that I am writing now.)

Screaming again, Aieeee!, I fled the room.

I do not know what I will be doing for ICS Pubs, and I may never have to worry about any of this stuff. Nor am I am going to spend more time proofing or copyediting or revising or fact-checking this post.(Should that be Nor do I intend to ...?)

Do a spell check? Wrong! Or is it? (Or, is it?)

For those of you who may be tempted to comment on any errors you might (might, I say, and might, I mean) find in this version, I smugly warn you (warn you smugly?) that I may have left some to tease you. (I may have left some as a tease?)

I have to go now.  Seriously. (Are you going in a serious manner? Or are you serious about going?)

And as Sigmund Freud did not say, although he might have had he been asked, sometimes a typo is just a typo.

Oh, stet!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's not over till the fat clouds rain!

And they aren't raining yet.

Earlier this week I planted about 70 grape hyacinth bulbs. Instructions said to plant 4 inches deep. I watered the area first to soften the ground, as per Tom's direction. When I dug down three inches, I hit dry dust. I watered longer -- about an hour to an hour and a half all together -- and I was still hitting dry dust on the last row I put in.

Because the temperatures dropped to freezing, Tom took down the fountain and replaced it with the heated bird bath. The birds were not a problem, but the squirrels kept knocking it slightly off center and last night raccoons turned the whole thing over. All creatures great and small are looking for water. The squirrels have taken to tapping on the doors to the deck to get us do something. They are licking the deck furniture every morning to get the dew off it. It would be funny except that it is so not funny.

This is the little pond down the road from us. This is where Tom's Stein ancestors built the first farmhouse back in the 1840s, eventually moving away from the marshy mosquito-breeding ground. Dave Foster and his wife own that piece of the old homestead now. 

Below is a copy of that third picture with the normal water level indicated by the blue coloring:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not quite bluebonnets

Yesterday we got a bunch of Grape Hyacinth bulbs. I plan to put them out in the area Tom has been developing as Daddy's garden -- anchored by the hydrangea Kathie gave me last year in Daddy's memory.

These are very winter-hardy bulbs, and I see the flowers all over the place up here in the spring, sometime filling a small yard, looking like a field of wild bluebonnets in Texas. They are a bit like mini-bluebonnets, which is another reason to put them by Daddy's garden. (For those who don't know, the bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas.) We tried real bluebonnets here once, but they didn't do at all. Bluebonnets are hard to grow anyway, apparently, and add the stresses of a Wisconsin winter and it's all over. I hope these will eventually spread and make a naturalized blue show in the spring.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

STV (Steve TV)

Yesterday on Facebook, I saw this picture on the Tangaza College timeline.That is the college attended by the Discalced Carmelite friar-seminarians in (Karen) Nairobi, Kenya. My friend, Fr. Steve Payne -- recently appointed Principal (think President) of the college -- is speaking to a television reporter about an event at the college. Although Facebook had lots of pictures, I could not find out anything about what was going on. So I emailed Steve and got this response:
Dear Michael,

I haven't seen the photos myself. In fact, I'm not even on Facebook! But the event in question was on Friday afternoon. Tangaza College was launching the "Kenya Youth for Peace Initiative" in collaboration with some other groups. Part of the project is to have a "Peace Caravan" that will go around the country organizing youth rallies for peace. (Part of the reason is that the poor youth were so badly manipulated in the last election to foment post-election violence.)

Anyway, a couple of the media outlets came, including "Citizen TV" which is owned by the Standard Media group. We watched the news last night and only saw about 3 seconds of the back of my head during a 10 second mention of the event. But if anything more substantial shows up in the newspaper or on TV, I'll let you know.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

To everything, turn, turn turn ...

Our forecast for the next week says we may hit freezing or even dip below on some nights. So Tom disassembled the deck fountain last night. This morning there were a lot of unhappy birds and squirrels. They have been counting on the fountain for water during our drought.

This morning, therefore, Tom put the heated bird bath on top of the stand where the fountain ball normally sits. We piled the fountain river rocks around the base of the bird bath, Tom filled it with water and now the birds and squirrels should  be back in business.

Monday, September 17, 2012


You know how there is nothing as boring as having someone try to tell you over breakfast about a dream they had the night before? Because they can never remember the details or the sequence or all the people who were not who they were and cannot make sense of it and it fascinates them but you, eh, not so much?

Okay, I had that dream last night and I am not going to bore you with it.

Feel free to thank me now.

Just pick up the trash

Most days I go for a walk along our road. If Tom is home and not busy, he joins me. About once a week, I take along a plastic bag and a gopher-picker-upper and collect trash along the side of the road. This morning Tom went into Baraboo, and I was on my own. I picked up a plastic grocery bag full of garbage before I had made it to the end of the road and back. Mostly beer cans, but a fair number of M&M bags (?), fast food cups and styrofoam boxes and cigarette packs.

As I was doing this, my head began to fill with resentments about the people who drive down our lovely wooded country road and decide that it is okay to leave their garbage behind. I began to compose self-righteous blogs and so on. As is my virtuous wont.

Then I remembered, why don't I just pick up the trash and keep my mind clear instead of letting the trash fill my mind with toxic litter? One of the neighbors had stopped her car and thanked me for cleaning up. I smiled and said, "I'm walking this way anyway."

I need to remember that. I was walking to exercise a bit and to clear my head. Instead I was picking up roadside clutter and putting it into the bag AND into my head.

Reminds me of the Buddhist story:
Two monks, going to a neighboring monastery, walked side by side in silence. They arrived at a river they had to cross. That season, waters were higher than usual. On the bank, a young woman was hesitating and asked the younger of the two monks for help. He exclaimed, 'Don't you see that I am a monk, that I took a vow of chastity?'
'I require nothing from you that could impede your vow, but simply to help me to cross the river,' replied the young woman with a little smile.
'I...not...I nothing for you,' said the embarrassed young monk.
'It doesn't matter,' said the elderly monk. 'Climb on my back and we will cross together.'
Having reached the other bank, the old monk put down the young woman who, in return, thanked him with a broad smile. She left her side and both monks continued their route in silence. Close to the monastery, the young monk could not stand it anymore and said, 'You shouldn't have carried that person on your back. It's against our rules.'
'This young woman needed help and I put her down on the other bank. You didn't carry her at all, but she is still on your back,' replied the older monk.
I need to put the trash in the bag and then let go.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Contains Mature Themes

While looking over the new audiobooks available online from the library, I saw one I thought might be interesting. A modern cowboy-hires-rodeo-queen-to-work-on-his ranch story. Decided, "Not so much."

At the end of the synopsis, it said, "Contains mature themes."

Well, we all know what that euphemism means.

Reminds me of an old Calvin and Hobbes. They were looking at the ads for movies and Calvin asked, "What does it mean when they say contains mature themes?" Hobbes said, "I don't know. I guess things like going to work, paying your taxes, voting, stuff like that."

Saturday, September 15, 2012


[To the tune of The Teddy Bears' Picnic]

If you go into the Dells today,
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely there in the Dells today,
But safer to stay at home.

For every tourist that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's a Wo-Zha-Wa day!

 A festive celebration of autumn, Wo-Zha-Wa Days is filled with free family activities, including an arts and crafts fair, antique flea market, Maxwell Street Days, live entertainment and a 100-unit parade. Visitors are also invited to participate in a street carnival with refreshment concessions and the Wo-Zha-Wa Run. All activities take place throughout downtown Wisconsin Dells and Bowman Park.

Today is John Dauphin's birthday -- Happy 51st, John! -- and tomorrow is Tom's -- Happy 65th! Today they plan to avoid the Wo-Zha-Wa madness and visit Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue over near Rock Springs. Tonight the little railroad is having a potluck and celebrating the birthday boys. I am staying home for the day and save my socializing energy for this evening. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Animal farm

After lunch I was outside taking laundry off the clothesline and hanging some wet stuff out. Our dryer is dead. The culprit: a mouse, apparently, who committed suicide by fiddling around with the circuit board inside the dryer. I assume one of the cats brought the mouse in and suggested he make a nice warm nest in there.
The late mouse may be related to the locally-famous Baraboo suicidal squirrels. With some regularity, our neighboring town and Sauk County seat, Baraboo, suffers a power outage caused by depressed squirrels chewing on transformers.
At any rate, the dryer people are getting the replacement part -- which will take some time -- and we are drying the old-fashioned way for now. Fortunately the washer, which seemed to develop a leak at the same time the dryer died, has mysteriously healed itself. So we are able to wash things.
Peter just got back from a wilderness camping trip, and I think it is a good thing the washer is working. He left a bunch of smelly stuff outside rather than bringing it into the house.
Anyway, back to the beginning. I was working at the clothesline when I looked over and a small brown bear had come down the drive and was bounding around Tom. Well, not a brown bear, exactly. It was a neighbor's six-month-old chocolate lab. Boundless energy, weighs in the range of 500 pounds. Doesn't have a collar, and from time to time delights in exploring the neighborhood. It is not clear to me that the dog lives here. It may just be visiting the owner's mother, who does live down the road from us. Friendly dog, but quite capable of knocking a full-grown adult to the ground.

The cats huddled in the house, eyes large and staring out the windows or laundry door. Puppy went away, I gave the cats a snack and all settled down. I just hope the dog doesn't go up to Jerry's. The barn kittens would not make even a mouthful for him.


God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference. 

In Twelve Step programs, where there is an emphasis on living in the present moment, people are encouraged not to hash over the past or worry and fret about the future. You are told to leave things in the hands of a loving and caring Higher Power.

Sometimes a person asks, "Well, what about making plans for the future? Is that a problem?"

And a typical response is, "Plan plans, don't plan results."

Which means, plan what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, but you have to leave the outcome in the hands of said Higher Power. You do your part as best you can -- that is the "change the things I can" part of the Serenity Prayer -- and accept what comes -- the "accept the things I cannot change" part. And please, never forget to do the wisdom part!

I thought of this because of a political ad I have seen the last couple of days talking about one of the candidate's plans for Wisconsin. The plan consists of generating 240,000 new jobs, cutting the debt by X amount and so on. This, I suggest, is not a plan. This is (or would be) one possible result of carrying out a plan. The canddate, in this ad and to be honest elsewhere, says nothing about how s/he plans to create jobs or cut the debt or anything else. The plan is that things will be better.

I have a plan for Wisconsin. My plan is to insure every child, underemployed adult and elder in the state. My plan is to provide every child with the finest education in the world. My plan is to do away with the  state's debt and build a comfortable surplus that can be used to repair the crumbling infrastructure. My plan is to make sure every citizen votes. My plan is to ...

That is not a plan. That is (or might be) desired outcomes (In the chart above, the goals.). The plan is an organized  outline of what you are going to do, moving you in a particular direction towards the accomplishments of some goals. The candidate in question has goals. As far as I can tell, pretty much no one would argue with the goals. What the ad needs to tell us is how we are to get there. We all want to get to heaven. The question is which road leads there.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

That time again

How much do I have to give to the political campaigns to get them NOT to put ads on the television? When I get appeals to contribute so that they can flood the airwaves with more messages, it turns me against them.

Just sayin '...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monkees Day

The Monkees Anthology [BOX SET] “Hey, hey we’re the Monkees -- and we don’t monkey around...” The theme song from the NBC-TV, The Monkees, kicked off a fun-filled weekly series on this day in 1966. Some 400 aspiring actors had auditioned for the Columbia television series by producer Don Kirschner. Davy Jones, a former English horse racing jockey; Michael Nesmith, a session guitarist; Peter Tork of the Phoenix Singers; and Micky Dolenz, who had appeared in the TV series Circus Boy were picked to be America’s answer to The Beatles. The four were picked to become the fabricated music group -- not because they could sing, act or play musical instruments -- but because they looked the parts. Dolenz and Jones were actors, Tork and Nesmith had some musical experience.

The Monkees were the first made-for-TV rock group. Ironically -- or maybe not -- The Monkees TV show won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series of 1967.

I note with sadness that Davy Jones died this past February, just before he was to have appeared at the Crystal Grand Theater here in the Dells.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Something old is new again

Today I was asked to consider becoming part of an editorial review board for ICS Publications.
   ICS Publications is the publishing house of the Institute of Carmelite Studies, and a not-for-profit ministry of the Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, a Roman Catholic religious community to which the members of the Institute belong. We specialize in works on the history and spirituality of Carmel, sharing the riches of the Carmelite tradition with English-language audiences.
      We are best known for our translations of Carmelite classics. Our editions of the works of Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Lawrence of the Resurrection, Thérèse of Lisieux, Elizabeth of the Trinity, and Edith Stein - all with ample notes and explanatory materials, and translated whenever possible from the critical texts - are widely hailed for their accuracy and readability. We are also the publishers of the "Carmelite Studies" series, whose volumes have contained important articles on Carmelite subjects by such authors as Hans Urs von Balthasar, Susan Muto, Ph.D., Kevin Culligan, OCD, Roland Murphy, O.Carm., Ann and Barry Ulanov, and Pope John Paul II.
      In addition, we publish popular and scholarly works on other Carmelite figures and themes: e.g., Elijah, the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne, Père Jacques, and the place of "lectio" and "discernment of spirits" in the Carmelite tradition.
When I was with the Carmelites, I was a Member of the Institute of Carmelite Studies and for a while worked for ICS Publications. Three articles that I translated appeared in some of their volumes.As a member of the editorial review board, I would help evaluate manuscripts they are considering for publication and perhaps do some (minor) editing. I am pleased to be asked to do this. And I also appreciate that there is a stipend. Every little bit helps!
And I have to admit I dropped a hint to the new Editorial Director about my own books. Not that ICS Pubs would be likely to publish them. They have already published most of what is contained in the Gratian volume and they do not publish fiction, so the mystery is out. I hope, however, that she will purchase at least one for herself.
There is a quote, attributed to Patton among others: "Never pass up the opportunity to use the bathroom." When you are a writer, "Never pass up an opportunity to sell a book."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another re-enactment?

Saturday Tom, Peter, John and I visited the Historical Indian Agency House in Portage. There was a small re-enactment going on, representing the early 1830s. The other three are gun aficionados and were interested in the musket demonstrations and explanations by the men representing soldiers from the Black Hawk War of 1832.The guys doing the demonstrating and explaining made it interesting even to someone like me who knows little about firearms.

We visited the museum and the house itself, which is undergoing some restoration work in preparation for another grand re-opening next spring. As a result, there was no furniture in the house at all. This may have been a good thing, because the tour guide had so much to tell that it took 55 minutes (and I am not making that up) to go through the first three rooms. I can only guess what it would have been like had she tried to describe in such detail every bit of furniture. It reminded me a lot of childhood visits to the Sam Houston Museum in Huntsville.

Besides the house and museum, there were a few re-enactors explaining medical practices of the day and women demonstrating some of the daily tasks of women on the frontier at the time. Our friend Roberta, with whom I worked in the railroad's store, used to do demonstrations of this sort at the Chicago History Museum, and she would have fit right in carding wool and spinning.

This time, for a change, I remembered to bring my camera, but I got no pictures of Tom, John or Peter. So you will have to take my word for it that these are photos from last Saturday, not some I borrowed from the web. As you can see, it was a beautiful day for it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Minor breakthrough

John of the Cross wrote some of the most beautiful poetry in all of world literature as well as four treatises on the spiritual life that are studied today by Christians and non-Christians alike. Yet he did all that while carrying on a very active ministry. Except for the nine months he spent in a monastery prison, he hardly ever had any extended period of time to himself.  This is a lovely illustration of a monk writing, but I doubt that John's own exterior setting was so lovely or serene. He carried that beauty and serenity within and  it flowed out in his words, to the enrichment of us all.

As I work on my second novel featuring John of the Cross -- tentatively titled Death on the Way of Perfection -- I sometimes fantasize about the perfect place to write. From time to time, Tom offers to set something up to make it easier. But I pointed out that looking for the perfect place to write is mostly a way to not-write-right-now. My challenge is to write, not find a place to do so. So I am trying  in retirement to write every day, which I manage to do, and when possible, to write for two hours, which I often do.

To encourage me to work harder, I have signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November. Participants try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That doesn't mean I will have a final draft of 50,000 words on December 1. But I should have a solid draft to work on. My first novel, BTW, was just under 65,000 words. So 50,000 words is not all that big a book. So far I have about 17,000 words on the second mystery, which is right at a third of the 50,000 mark.

Incidentally, you are not supposed to use something you have already started, so that November novel will have to be a new project. I can't use the 17,000 I already have on Death of the Way of Perfection.  Meanwhile I am plodding along with this novel, and today I had a minor breakthrough. For me, finding an engaging start for the book is hard. And if you don't hook your reader early on, you won't have that reader later on. This afternoon while I was putting together scene cards (don't ask) and pondering where to start, I suddenly realized that I have a great dramatic opening scene already, that I had tucked away in the middle of another long scene later on. Move it to the beginning, and -- Pow! Powerful prologue, Batman!

Once that was in place, I realized that one of my subplots, which is already pretty well developed, would make a more interesting entry point for the rest of the story. I am inclined to just jump right into the middle of the main murder. But there are several murders in this one and even I am not sure which is the main murder at this point.

Anyway, to paraphrase Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, "Any minor breakthrough will do."

Almost-zen-koan totally stolen from an episode ofReba

Brock, realizing his younger daughter is considering colleges: "Where does the time go?"
Barbara Jean: "More importantly, where does it come from?"

Or, to quote Chicago, "Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?"

I slept until a quarter of nine this morning. What's that all about?

Possible schlock answer to the question, "What time is it?": "It's a good time."
Possible Dickensian answer: "It is the best of times, it is the worst of times."
Possible marathoner answer: "It's a long time."
Possible politically conservative answer: "It's the Right time."
Possible artist's answer: "It's the time frame."
Possible mathematical answer: "It's half-time."
Possible Mayan answer: "It's time out."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to volunteering

After writing for a couple of hours this morning, doing some banking and mail and so on, I went to the library to start my volunteering again.

Before I worked at the Kilbourn Public Library, I was a volunteer, and that contributed in no small way to my getting a job there eventually.  Now that I am retired, I decided to go back as a volunteer, putting in a couple of hours every week. The time went fast, it was great to see and visit with people and I came home feeling good. The Wo-Zha-Wa  Weekend Book Sale is Friday and Saturday of next week, and I signed us up to help with the setup on Thursday. Tom has been doing that for a few years. I used to help with it, but once I was working at the library, I was not involved. The book sale is a fund-raiser run by the Friends of the Library. That is not to say that the employees don't contribute to the project, but they are mainly busy keeping the library going before and during the sale itself.

Anyway, thought I'd put in another plug for volunteering wherever your interests lie. Our library is understaffed as it is, but the volunteers put in enough hours to make up for one full time employee. I am sure there are opportunities out there where you are, and one of them will make you feel great while you provide a service that might otherwise go by the wayside. And if, like I was back in the day, you are looking for an actual paying job -- becoming a volunteer is a good way to get your foot in the door.

I am not bragging about myself, BTW. Tom often puts in probably 40 hours a week or more for the various volunteer projects that engage him. My efforts are small potatoes in comparison, but fortunately it is not a contest. (Fortunate for me, that is!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Teeth falling out dream

Did you know that dreaming about teeth falling out is a common experience? I have had such dreams any number of times over the years, and I had one last night. Dream interpretation being what it is -- an inexact science, art or craft -- it is impossible to say exactly what those dreams are about. I note, however, that the literature tends to focus on such dreams being about transitions in life.

This makes a certain sense, if I realize that it is only one possible meaning of the symbol. But think about your teeth -- you have BABY teeth, and they fall out as you are growing up. As adults, we probably associate losing teeth with BEING BEAT UP IN A FIGHT and later with AGING.

In my most recent dream, losing my teeth took place in the context of being at a workshop that I did not want to give. (A fight? At least there was internal conflict.)  When my teeth started falling out, which was painless, by the way, it gave me an excuse to leave the workshop. (Leave work and retire? Certainly a part of my recent past.)  I am still in the middle of the retirement-transition. Experienced folk tell me it can take a year to adjust.

And, of course, there are those things associated with retirement that might be part of what is going on with my dreaming self -- aging and all that stuff: loss of power due to loss of  income, loss of youth and physical attractiveness (as if!) and energy, etc. (Is it significant that I chose an image of a young boy to illustrate this post? Well, duh!)

Of course, as Sigmund Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. This is Labor Day weekend and that is a major cultural transition in the United States: the end of summer, the end of vacation, the beginning of school and the beginning of autumn. We spent yesterday at a circus museum and an 1840s-era re-enactment, both things that hark back to a past that is now gone. The house is full of pending transitions: Michael A will be returning to Chicago -- a part of my own past -- and Peter is moving towards moving on. Tom is purchasing some land adjacent to ours, which makes "home" a bigger place. It is land that he once co-owned with his only brother, who died last fall. A major transition for Tom. But by taking the whole parcel now, it returns a part of his past in a way, because the "new" land is part of the original land grant of the farm his ancestors got when they came to Wisconsin in the 1840s. Hmm. Just at the  era represented in that re-enactment on the river.  Talk about a transition --that part of Tom's family came from a German village to the Wisconsin wilds.Not exactly the same as coming up here from Chicago-Hyde Park, but even so ...

So is there some major message in my dream, something I am not aware of in my waking life? Not really. But pondering the falling teeth and the nearness of falling leaves makes me more aware of things in my life that are starting to fall/fail. Falling teeth are kind of icky; falling leaves are beautiful.

Which shall  I see?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A treat we passed up ...

Yesterday at the Wisconsin State Cowchip etc, Tom and Michael A had the traditional pork-chop-on-a-stick for lunch. These are actually quite good, grilled and all, and grilled pork is hard to beat, IMHO. I went with the Girl Scouts' fresh fruit basket instead, a nice mixture of watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, grapes, raspberries and pineapple. Afterwards Tom got a hot fudge sundae and Michael A got a root beer float. Next to that booth, a group of young Catholic girls were selling deep fried Oreos. I was fascinated. Of course, part of any state/county/local fair lore is deep frying improbable comestibles to make them ... less digestible? (The top of the line has to be deep fried butter. And, no, I am not making that up.)

Anyway, a middle school student and his grandmother were sharing deep fried Oreos and I waited for their evaluation. The boy liked them, but his grandmother was less impressed. "I can't get any Oreo taste," she complained.  From the look on her face, I think she was trying not to say, "Yuck!" So we decided to give that fried treat a pass.

FYI, this is a picture of a deep-fried-stick-of-butter-on-a-stick. This is the ultimate fair food because it combines deep-fried-something with food-on-a-stick. Deep fried butter debuted at the Texas State Fair -- where else? -- but this stick-of-butter-on-a-stick was supposedly invented in Iowa. There was a reason, but no one believes it. I think this just falls into the "We have the technology to do this!" category. While I do not recommend you try this at home -- eating or making them -- it is a stick of butter, dipped in a cinnamon honey batter and then deep fried. To add to its healthful nature, you then put on a sugar glaze.