Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Well, three to ... no, four to six ... no make that maybe nine ...

A bit over seven inches
Ten inches and still snowing
The weather reports last night kept getting worse ...
Right now at 1:15 on Tuesday afternoon, we have a good ten inches on the back deck. The snow is much lighter now and perhaps there will not be much more accumulation. But given the fact that they were predicting maybe three inches or less ...
We may be in a heavy spot, of course. When I was looking at a live Madison weather report mid-morning, they were showing less than an inch in Wisconsin Dells on their map. I went out and measured and we had six inches at that point. Maybe it's just us?

That's the guy who does our walks. Oh, never mind! It's Tom. He has been out two or three times shoveling and using the snow blower. And it ain't over yet.
At any rate, we still have power at the moment. And of course, it will drop to zero tonight!
Remember, we have a guest room!

Shazam! Don't Ask, Do Tell

"Gomer Pyle" Actor Jim Nabors Comes out as Gay, Marries Longtime Partner in Seattle


Actor Jim Nabors, who played 'Gomer Pyle' in the classic 60's sitcom of the same name, has come out of the closet after years of speculation, in an announcement that he married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, in Seattle on Jan 15, Hawaii News Now reports:

PyleNabors declined an on-camera interview but spoke to Hawaii News Now by phone.

"I'm 82 and he's in his 60s and so we've been together for 38 years and I'm not ashamed of people knowing, it's just that it was such a personal thing, I didn't tell anybody," Nabors said. "I'm very happy that I've had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed.  And, what can I tell you, I'm just very happy."

Nabors said he and Cadwallader traveled to Washington state, where gay marriages became legal in early December 2012. They were married at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle.

A judge performed the marriage ceremony in the privacy of their hotel room with a couple of friends who live down the street from them near Diamond Head as witnesses, Nabors said.

Before they were married, Nabors said, "It's pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you've been together 38 years, I think something's got to happen there, you've got to solidify something.  And at my age, it's probably the best thing to do."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jadin Bell, 15

Another young person has died as a result of anti-gay bullying: Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old sophomore at La Grande High School in La Grande, Oregon, was taken off life support last week, after hanging himself in a school playground.

Earlier in the week, nearly 200 people attended a vigil for Bell at a nearby art center, where dozens of photos of the bright-looking youth were on display.
“Jadin is one of the best people I have ever met. He makes everyone around him feel good all the time,” said LHS junior Frankie Benitez.
She said Bell is someone who never forgets his friends. 
“Jadin always remembers people no matter what,” Benitez said. “If I felt bad, I would hang out with him and he would say something small like, ‘I love your sweater.’ He notices things you didn’t think anyone notices.” 
Another girl described Jadin as the sweetest boy she had ever met. She recalled that when she transferred to LHS, Bell was the first person she did not know to talk to her.
Bell was a member of the LHS cheerleading team and volunteered at an assisted-living facility in town. But his sexuality and sensitive nature made him a target for bullies, both at school and on the Web, said family friend Bud Hill: “He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones.”

Buddhist wisdom

A couple of lines I have run across recently that I like.

One is from Jack Kerouac's "The Scripture of Golden Eternity."

Cats yawn because they know there is nothing to do.
The other is a quote from the Dalai Lama.
Sleep is the best meditation.
The cats and I agree. St. Teresa spoke about a form of prayer she called "sleep of the faculties." I'm pretty sure she wasn't talking about what the cats I are doing, but she was very supportive of whatever works for you.
Sundance, by the way, seems to have recovered from whatever was bothering her. She was much better yesterday and today is as pesky as ever.
Cassidy, meanwhile, is still somewhat put out. She is convinced that Sundance was faking just to get more attention.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Never again

A rose is placed on top of a sign that reads "Stop" with a skull painted, near the gate at the concentration camp during a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz and to remember the victims of the Holocaust, in Oswiecim,
Holocaust survivors, politicians and religious leaders marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day Sunday with solemn prayers and warnings to never let such tragedies happen again.
Events took place at sites including Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former Nazi death camp in southern Poland liberated by Soviet forces on January 27, 1945.
At least 1.1 million people were murdered in Auschwitz, mostly Jews.  In Warsaw, prayers were also held at a monument to the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.
Pope Benedict warned that humanity must always be on guard against a repeat of murderous racism.
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to prevent genocide while honoring "the six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims whose lives were tragically taken during the Holocaust."  He called Holocaust Remembrance Day a "time for action." 
One of those who died at Auschwitz was a woman who was related to Tom through his mother's family and who, at the time of her death, was a Carmelite nun who belonged to the Discalced Carmelite province to which I once belonged. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), whose canonization I attended, was a remarkable woman, one whose pleas to Pope Pius XI to intervene to help the Jews suffering under the Nazis. Her pleas apparently were noted but no actions were taken. The many questions about the Vatican's actions and inactions during those troubled times caused many people to question why the Catholic church chose to honor Edith/Teresa as a martyr. Some believed that the church was co-opting the suffering of Jews and misusing the memory of the holocaust for its own purposes. I met members of Edith Stein's more immediate family when I was in Rome, Jewish and Christian, and all of them had mixed feelings about the ceremony.
At any rate, she was a truly remarkable woman, and I remember her most especially today, along with her sister Rosa who died with her in the camp.
And the children ...


Our cats, Sundance and Cassidy, are sisters from the same litter. Their coloring is the same, and it took a while for me to tell them apart. Sundance is slender, with a triangular and very expressive face, soft hair and an extended vocabulary. Although she is obviously grown -- Tom guesstimates that they are about 14 -- , she has something of the kitten about her still. Cassidy is portly, with a flat round expressionless face, coarser hair and a limited vocabulary. If you didn't know they were sisters, you might think Cassidy is Dancer's mother.

The last few days, Sundance has been quiet and draggy. She is eating okay, although she has stopped pestering me for extra snacks. As far as I can tell, since I am the one with kitty litter duty, she is using the boxes as usual. She will sit in your lap and purr, and she still jumps up on the bed to lie beside me when I am trying to read or go to sleep. But she has also taken to slipping away to hide. No sneezing, no coughing, no hairballs. Just draggy. We are concerned, although she seems to get better and then slip back towards lethargy. Tom may take her to the vet tomorrow if nothing changes.

PS -- The pileated woodpecker (which Peggy says is a female) showed up again this morning. I had not seen her for a few days.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Open House at the Kilbourn Public Library

2013 Opening New Doors Library Open House.
For our 7th annual open house we are encouraging patrons to attend and explore the resources and programming the library offers to all of our patrons. The library strives to provide opportunities for our patrons to learn new skills, try new activities, explore new books and Open New Doors. At our open house we will showcase those opportunities. Try out one of our EBook readers with special guest helpers, open a new email account in our computer lab, sign up for the new adult reading program, make an artpiece for our local art wall and explore the library with our scavenger hunt. The children’s room will be full of activities, games and make and take crafts. We will also have information tables, free giveaways, database demonstrations, door prizes, sign up tables and refreshments. Don’t miss this chance to get to know how your library helps you Open New Doors.

Tom and I went over to the Open House to volunteer today. Last year, when I was still an employee, I spent my time introducing people to e-readers and showing them how they could download, read and return library books on various portable devices at no cost. This year I joined a couple of library staff people to do the same thing. Tom was appointed roving photographer, and he wandered around taking photos that will be used to make a collage. The weather was great, chilly but clear and calm. It looked like a good turnout, and I had some interesting conversations with people about e-books and had a chance to visit with people I had not seen for a while.

There is a winter weather advisory from noon tomorrow (Sunday) until early morning on Monday. It is supposed to begin with light snow before sunrise turning into freezing rain, maybe a third of an inch. We don't have to go anywhere tomorrow and it is supposed to get up to 38 on Monday. The real threat is to power, since that much ice on the trees will likely take some power lines down.

Wisdom from the elders

In Chicago I knew a Native American, now deceased, who was quite a character. He had been an actor in his youth, became a gifted artist and eventually, having struggled with his own demons for years, came through on the other side with a lot of experience, strength and hope that he generously shared.
One thing he often said was this:
Start every day with one word: "Help!"
End every day with two words: "Thank you!"
As Captain Jean-Luc Picard would say, "Make it so."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Light snow

It is snowing lightly, lightly, lightly outside this morning. We do not expect too much in the way of accumulation, an inch or so. The snow is falling slowly like the flakes in a snow globe. Very relaxing to watch, especially on a day I don't have to go anywhere.

Hope whatever is falling on you today is lovely and gentle  and light.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bill W: "To be helpful is our only aim."

William Griffith Wilson (November 26, 1895 – January 24, 1971), also known as Bill Wilson or Bill W., was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an international mutual aid fellowship with over two million members belonging to 100,800 groups of alcoholics helping other alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety.  Following AA's Twelfth Tradition of anonymity, Wilson is commonly known as "Bill W." or "Bill." After Wilson's death in 1971, his full name was included in obituaries.
Wilson's permanent sobriety began December 11, 1934. Wilson suffered from episodes of depression. The most serious of these occurred between 1944 and 1955. In 1955 Wilson turned over control of AA to a board of trustees. Wilson died of emphysema complicated by pneumonia 42 years ago in 1971. In 1999 Time listed him as "Bill W.: The Healer" in the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wisdom, attend!

Matthew 7
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Mk. 4.24
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

When you can't change the one you love, change the one you can.

Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself.
-- Soren Kierkegaard

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thought (?) for the day

I really enjoyed the writing of the late Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galazy series. He had a nice twist with words. Besides the quote above, my favorite line was a description of an alien spacecraft as "hanging in the air the way a brick doesn't." When I was taking a writing course at Brown University while I was on sabbatical in Rhode Island, I mentioned that quote and got the blankest stares.

PS -- The beach scene is particularly appealing because it is 8:24 AM and 5 degrees (-15 C) here in the Dells.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let nothing disturb thee

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.
-- Bertolt Brecht

All things are passing, God alone endures.
-- St. Teresa of Avila

This too shall pass.
-- Human experience

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No reason ...

I changed the design of the web page for no particular reason. I was checking stats and things and just got distracted by design possibilities. I liked the old design with the birds, but books seem to be a good fit for me right now. I have just completed one editing job and am now waiting to receive a book for evaluation. I am also back to doing some of my own writing while waiting for that to arrive.

Read on, McDough!
On a totally different note, I have a Favorites folder labeled "Thoughts to Begin the Day." It includes the Morning Office from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, a passage from the Tao Te Ching, selections from Twleve Step reflection books, a link to BrainyQuote (which gives you five or six quotes in different categories) and a humorous list of Zen-like sayings. I try to read over all of these before I get too far into my morning, but some days I don't get around to them until later in the day.

Here is a quote from the Zen-like thoughts:

  No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon ...

Got my health insurance bill for February today. Turns out my insurance premium went up 12% this year. Since in December, they billed me for January under the old rate, this time I have to pay for what I did not pay in January as well as the increase for February. That means this month (only) I will be paying 24% more than I had expected. All this came without any prior communication from my insurer nor was there any explanation included with the bill today. I had to figure it out. Thank goodness for calculators! There is a section of the bill labelled  Important message about your account: What did it say? "Thank you for your business."

This is a pain, of course, but for me it doesn't mess up my budget too much. On the other hand, I feel bad for people who are just now trying to sort out how much they spent on Christmas, only to discover that -- surprise, surprise! -- they owe 24% more than they expected for insurance this month.

And we're the lucky ones -- we have health insurance! I didn't have any for about four years, and that was no picnic. I guess now it's my turn to pay for the sandwiches. Too bad they are mostly baloney.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's back!

This afternoon when I looked outside, the pileated woodpecker was back on the feeder. I tried to get a photo, but it flew off into the trees. Tom came back in a few minutes later, and I told him what had happened.

He got his camera and waited patiently by the deck door for the bird to return, then snapped some shots before it flew off again.

So here is a photo of one of the actual birds that lives around here. To give you an idea of the size of the bird, the suet box it is perched on is about 6 inches by 6 inches.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pileated pursuits

It was about 32 degrees when I got up this morning, and the temps are dropping all through the day, down to 11 or so tonight. A high of 20 tomorrow.

The birds were all over the bird feeder, so I guess they got the word and are stocking up.

Best of all, we had a pileated woodpecker show up and hang around for a while. I first saw it when it inspected the little tree near the feeder, but that didn't prove to be of any interest. It eventually flew over to the feeder and pecked on one of the suet boxes for a while.

I will say this for the pileated woodpecker: It is so big that the squirrels hightailed it out of sight when it showed up.

We have a nesting pair of pileateds somewhere on the property and often hear them pecking away. We see them occasionally -- the best time some years back when I witnessed two of them doing a courtship dance around a tree in the backyard while a third looked on from another tree.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quick update

1) I am back to work on the Carmelite editing job. I completed the first phase just before Christmas, but I had to wait until yesterday for further instructions from the editorial director. She had been out of her office until Monday. Anyway, I am back at that.

2) The little railroad where Tom volunteers and where I used to work asked me to come in and help them get ready for a mid-February model train show in Madison. I plan to assist with printing price tags and getting items labelled, but I also let them know that the editing job's end-of-January deadline takes priority.

3) This afternoon I head over to the library to do my weekly volunteering there.

Ah! The relaxed life-style of the retiree!

Other than that, not much. Weather is good at the moment, sunny and above freezing. We expect rain tomorrow, but there should be no freezing rain or sleet or snow as part of that. Our water tables are still low from last summer's drought, so we are happy for the precipitation.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ten years

3,653 days, one day at a time.

My thanks to my 2003 Chicago community: Daniel, Kevin, George

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cherokee legend

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story.

"I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times."

He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.

"Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So this is on RFDTV today. What more can I say?

Rainbow Over Texas is a film from 1946 in which Roy Rogers plays himself as a famous cowboy-singer returning to Texas.

"The King of the Cowboys" in his 54th starring role visits his home town as part of a personal appearance tour with his band The Sons of the Pioneers and is invited to compete in a recreation of the Pony Express race. Dale Evans, "The Queen of the West," is along for the ride as well, making it the 15th film for the duo; here she plays an heiress posing as a runaway boy. Roy's right-hand Gabby Hayes plays the sheriff, and second-billed Trigger is still "The Smartest Horse in the Movies." With the release of Rainbow Over Texas in May 1946, Roy Rogers was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but tragedy would strike just a few months later. One week after giving birth to his son, Roy, Jr., his wife Arlene died of a brain embolism. Roy and Dale would become real-life costars the next year, marrying on New Year's Eve 1947.

The self-portrayal of Roy Rogers as a more glamorous version of himself in Rainbow Over Texas revealed the great lengths to which Hollywood film studios would go in promoting their own film stars and made patently clear the self-referential advertising employed by studio productions in order to garner greater box office sales.

Since that time, "rainbow over Texas" has become a colloquialism for anyone who self-aggrandizes their own life in mythic and fantastical terms. For example, an individual who confabulates their previous experiences or resume out of either ignorance or self-importance is likened to a "rainbow over Texas".

Could be mind-boggling