Monday, February 25, 2013

Crazy cats

The cats have been a bit crazier than usual lately, which we have attributed in part to the cleaning and shuffling around of stuff in the basement as we prepare for some remodeling. At any rate, today I discovered that they may also be agitated by the smell of the bleach that Tom is using to remove mold from the basement walls as part of the general cleanup and prep.

I went online to find lots of people asking why their cats like the smell of bleach or at least react strongly to it. No one, vets included, seemed to have a clear answer, but some suggestions are that there is something in the bleach that acts like catnip or that there may be an ingredient that smells like urine to cats, making them think another animal has been marking the territory. At any rate, we assume the problem will end eventually after the cleaning is done and they have had time to adjust to the remodeled basement.

And then they will find something else to whine about.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Basement re-mold

The other day Tom discovered some mold behind some of the insulation in the basement, which led to him taking insulation down to bleach and clean the walls which led to him consulting with the guy who built the house which led to him considering to finish the basement, move his shop and rearrange the storage and put in an office for my writing and editing projects. My role in all this has been to agree to having an office and not just a work space in my bedroom. We had been trying to figure out a way to give me more work space, and none of the solutions we had come up with sat all that well with me. This one sounds right.

Of course, it is by far the most disruptive and most expensive option.

The cats, already a bit crazy from being cooped up by winter, are going totally loony because of all the bags full of stuff lining the front hall and waiting to be hauled off to St. Vinnies. Add in the smell of bleach and the fact that all their hiding places in the basement are being shoved around, and you have two unhappy feline campers.

But once it is all finished, they will have more doors they can try to sneak through.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I haven't exaggerated in like a million years.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wacky Wisconsin winter weekend

Not all that much to tell so far (Saturday night). Friday morning my computer decided to act up. The mail app on Windows 8 was refusing to open, and after trying the recommended solution, more apps failed to open. We left it trying to refresh and went down to Madison to help with the set-up for the Riverside & Great Northern shop at the Mad City Model Train Show. They didn't need much help, but we pitched in a little and offered some moral support. We hope they do well this weekend, because this is the only income-producing event between the end of October and sometime in April.

We had wanted (well, I had wanted) to eat at an Indian buffet, but they were not open when we went by and we had Chinese instead. Chinese is good, but we can get that in the Dells area. Indian is a treat we have to get in Madison. After that, we did some shopping. Tom bought a Ralph Lauren denim jacket (apparently brand new, but at a thrift store), some shoes, art supplies and a book. On the way home we stopped in Baraboo to pick up kitty litter, kitty snacks and woodpecker suet at Menards. We stopped at Culver's so Tom could have their walleye dinner and I could have a salad with grilled chicken breast. Quite good, actually. Back home I got the computer back to normal, sort of, or so I thought.

Today (Saturday) I went in for a couple of hours to volunteer at the library. They were having a busy day, though I don't know why. Tom held down the fort here until I got back, and we went to Wally World later in the afternoon so I could pick up a couple of prescriptions and he could do some grocery shopping. The store didn't seem particularly crowded, but the checkout lines were long. Not unusual for a Saturday afternoon, I suppose.

Then this evening I discovered I needed to reinstall Office 2010 on the computer. Fortunately I had done this once before and it was not difficult nor too time-consuming. Tom, meanwhile, is watching NASCAR, a sure sign that spring is on the way. He is rooting for Joey Logano, of course.

I think Tom has plans to meet with a friend for lunch and a chat tomorrow, so I will have to find something to entertain myself. I should do some writing ...

We expect a low of 4 (-15.5 C) tonight with a high tomorrow of 27 (-2.8 C). Monday morning I have an appointment for an oil change. So the weather prediction is for rain and snow.

On, Wisconsin!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Are you jealous of the ocean's generosity?
Why would you refuse to give
this joy to anyone?
Fish don't hold the sacred liquid in cups.
They swim the huge fluid freedom.
~ Rumi

We swim in God's mercy like fish in the sea.

~ St. Teresa Margaret Redi, OCD

Pileated pair have Valentine's Day brunch

This is not a picture of the pair of pileated woodpeckers that graced our feeder and a nearby tree this Hearts Day, but it does show you a female (on the left) and a male. The male, if you can see well enough, has a red bar on the stripe running from his beak under his eye. The female has a similar bar but without the red. When we saw ours today, the female was at the suet box on the bird feeder and the male was on the birch tree beside it. Wish we had a photo of that, but they fly away when they detect movement through our windows. And pictures through the windows and screens don't turn out all that well anyway.

This is the first time we have seen them together this winter. A few years back there were three in the backyard at one time, two males and a female. One of the males and the female were doing a courtship dance, and I assume the onlooker was a rival.

Happy Heart Day!

You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. -- Dr. Seuss
And a happy birthday to my great-niece Riley Rae (yesterday) and to my great-niece Brooke (today), because you both make reality better for the whole family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
-- T.S. Eliot, "Ash Wednesday"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thinking about it

No they, no them. Only we, only us.


As you watch the news media go berserk over the next few weeks trying to decide who will be the next pope, I remind you of an old saying in Rome: "The cardinal who goes into the conclave a pope comes out a cardinal."

This is not always the case, of course. Benedict XVI is an example of a candidate who was considered most likely to succeed to the Chair of Peter. But don't place any bets.

I understand that when the Eastern Orthodox select a patriarch, they nominate two or three candidates, and then in keeping with the example of the apostles in Acts 1:23 - 26, they cast lots, thus leaving the final selection up to the Holy Spirit or to chance, depending on your perspective. I do not know if this is still the custom, but it is an interesting one.

FYI, if the term patriarch is unfamiliar, the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church (above Major Archbishop and Primate), and the Assyrian Church of the East are termed Patriarchs (and in certain cases also popes). The office and ecclesiastical circumscription (comprising one or more provinces, though outside his own (arch)diocese he is often without enforceable jurisdiction) of such a Patriarch is termed a Patriarchate. Historically, a Patriarch may often be the logical choice to act as Ethnarch, representing the community that is identified with his religious confession within a state or empire of a different creed (as Christians within the Ottoman Empire). I know, I know: Too much information!

Papabile, of course, refers to someone likely to become pope.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Habebimus papam

His Holiness Benedict XVI is the only pope I have ever been introduced to, although at the time he was still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I and a group of other Carmelites were being given a tour around St. Peter's by a friar who worked for the Vatican Secretary of State, and when Cardinal Ratzinger walked by on his way to his office, the friar introduced us. On that trip I saw Pope John Paul II on several occasions, but I never met him.

At any rate, Benedict has decided -- wisely and humbly and well, in my opinion -- to resign as of the end of the month. No doubt there were many reasons besides his age and health, but no one can doubt that these are adequate.

It is possible, though wildly unlikely, that at some point along the way I will have met the man who now is a cardinal but in a few weeks will become pope. But I suspect that the only pope I will ever have met in a passing way is Benedict. I hope he will be well in his retirement, that his heart will be open and that he will be happy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Barrier or bridge?

The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.

The difference between being a stumbling block or a stepping stone for others is ...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pipeline to God

"I am a firm believer in both guidance and prayer. But I am fully aware, and humble enough, I hope, to see there may be nothing infallible about my guidance.

"The minute I figure I have got a perfectly clear pipeline to God, I have become egotistical enough to get into real trouble. Nobody can cause more needless grief than a power-driver who thinks he has got it straight from God."

     -- Bill Wilson

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


According to the legend, Muhammad awoke one day to the sounds of the Adhan, the Muslim daily call to prayer. Preparing to attend, he began to dress himself; however, he soon discovered his cat Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his prayer robe. Rather than wake her, he used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed. When he returned from the Mosque, Muhammad received a bow from Muezza in gratitude. He then stroked his beloved cat three times.

The accuracy of this story is not clear, as no references to it are made in the Quran or the Hadith, but rather by historical sources not considered religious texts in Islam.

Due primarily to the love Muhammad displayed for Muezza, Muslims are traditionally encouraged to regard cats as lovable and cherished creatures. Mistreating an animal is seen as among the most severe of all crimes in Islam.

I note that when St. Martin de Porres, the Latin-American-born saint was canonized, one thing in the testimony about his holiness was that he was kind to animals -- something the Spanish considered unusual. Since Muslims ruled much of Spain for centuries, it may be (pure speculation here) that kindness to animals was considered something for infidels, not for good Christians.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jadin Bell dies

Openly gay teen Jadin Bell, who hanged himself two weeks ago after being pushed to do so by bullies at his school and on the Internet, died this morning at a Portland hospital. You may recall that he was taken off life support last week. Bell was just 15 years old.

For an earlier post, click here.

Jadin was a cheerleader at his high school, something that makes me feel closer to him. What a tragedy for him, his family, his friends and for those whose bullying led to his death.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hmmm ...

It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning.
-- Claude Bernard

When the first group of novices that I worked with completed the novitiate and made their first profession, they gave me a t-shirt as a thank you gift. It had a simple Zen [redundant!] circle on it with the words "Only don't know."