Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preparing for the Labor Day Weekend

I continue to improve. This morning I did some heavier housecleaning -- including mopping floors -- in preparation for visitors. Our friend Michelangelo (pictured) is coming up this evening from Chicago to spend a few days. He usually visits over Labor Day to go to the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Festival. He will depart on Monday and then Helen will arrive on Tuesday for a few days. So we will be busy a bit. I plan to take a day out of all the activity to recoup my energy, and I told Tom I will also take care of preparing dinner that evening so he and Michelangelo can go have fun somewhere without worrying about food when they get home. Next Wednesday I have my follow-up appointment with the surgeon and on Thursday expect to begin my new slightly-longer workday at the library.

Michael just called while I was typing to say he is an hour or so away. Tom's spaghetti sauce has been cooking all afternoon and should be perfect by the time he arrives. In consideration of my slit throat, he (Michael) has promised a chocolate mousse, so we will see ...

That's about it.  Have a good weekend, wherever you are and with whomever you spend it!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

If only I knew ...

I realized today that I am wrong about a lot of things.

What bothers me is I don't know which ones.


Lee has informed me that the figure seen in the above photo is NOT Mrs. Potato Head, but Princess Potato Head. Or, as the box says, "Princess Spud."

This should be obvious from the tiny crowned frog she holds in her left hand. You would be forgiven, however, if you mistook that for a pea, given the size of the picture.

Don't you think PlaySkool should come up with a Princess Pea?

And when you and I were young, McGee, didn't we use real potatoes for Mr. Potato Head and company?

Friday, August 23, 2013

I will survive.

The surgery yesterday went well, my PTH (parathyroid hormone) levels immediately normalized as did the blood serum calcium. They kept me overnight -- you know how much fun that is! -- and sent me home late morning. I am a bit dopier than usual because of the pain pills, and I will be hanging out at home for the next few days. Thanks for the emails, cards and even gifts -- Lee sent me a Mrs. Potato Head to keep me busy during recuperation -- and your kind thoughts.

My brother, BTW, continues to make remarkable strides in recovering from the attack he suffered at work a few weeks ago. Again, thanks for all your prayers and thoughts for him and his family.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


It was a beautiful day today, and we felt like doing something outside -- but away from the bugs! So we went to Olbrich Gardens in Madison, sixteen acres of gardens, paths, fountains and lawns. Most of the plants are Midwest-hardy, and it is interesting to see how much they have accomplished using pretty ordinary plants. There is also a conservatory, which houses a lot of tropical plants, many of them in bloom or beginning to bear fruit, with lots of butterflies and some tropical birds (and quail?) flying or wandering around.

A unique feature is this royal Thai Pavilion, a gift of the Thai government back in 2000, the only one in the continental United States. The plants around the pavilion are designed to resemble the environment in Thailand, which means many of the plants do not survive the Wisconsin winter and have to be replaced every year.

All in all a peaceful and pleasant way to spend a Sunday.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Why do I/we assume that the direction I/we face at the moment is forward?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Just wanted to report that I think (and I hope this is not a lie) that my attempt to work on my habits of speech is helping. I can't say I never slip up, but I am becoming aware of slips much faster and sometimes even in time to avoid falling. Mindfulness is the key ...

They say it takes three weeks or so to establish new habits. More news anon, perhaps. After my surgery next week, I expect I will not be able to talk as much for a few days, which may help!

Truth in advertising?

In looking at a Groupon offer for a place to get away in northern Wisconsin, I ran across one family-oriented place with the following paragraph in the description:
Each lodge home is outfitted with a fully equipped kitchen, a gas fireplace, a patio or balcony, and a passive-aggressive teen. If you're on a vacation from cooking, fuel up at Blue Heron Supper Club and Lounge, the onsite restaurant. It serves fresh seafood entrees, pizzas, and craft beer, and there’s piano music Thursday–Saturday.
Actually, I assume you have to provide your own passive-aggressive teen. Laws, you know.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Right speech

Some of you may recall that a couple of years ago, I decided to give up complaining for Lent. Tom finally pointed out that this resolution was destroying our dinner conversation, because apparently I had nothing to say if I couldn't complain.

It's not that funny!

Anyway, the last few days I have been giving some more thought to how much my habits of speech are far from what some traditions call right speech. So even though it's not Lent -- and what difference does that make? -- I though I could start working on doing better. So I started adding to my morning meditations:

Today may I be free from gossiping.
Today may I be free from lying.
Today may I be free from complaining.
Today my I be free from criticizing.
Today may I be free from speaking unkindly.

Today may my words be gentle.
Today may my words be kind.
Today may my words be peaceful.
Today may my words be calm.
Today may my words be encouraging.

One day at a time, as they say ...

Let's keep this thing simple.

On this date in 1879, Robert Holbrook Smith was born in St. Johnsbury, VT.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Bob.  And thanks.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Mystery of the Cat and the Basement

Whenever I go downstairs to the [still unfinished, thanks for asking, but quite usable] work/office to put in some time on my editing project, Sundance comes down and begins to whine. She prowls around, muttering and meowing despite my efforts to quiet her. I thought maybe she just wanted company, so I put a cushion down on the rug for her and tried to get her to settle down on it. No dice. Instead, she hops up onto my chair behind my back and rubs against me or jumps up on the table and tries to walk across the keyboard. She is a very vocal and distracting companion.

Tom tells me that ever since he set up the shop in the basement -- in its previous iteration -- the cats come down and complain when he is working in "their" basement. We don't know why they are convinced this is theirs and only to be invaded when I come and do necessary cat-related chores, like cleaning the litter box.

Any suggestions?

Tom says he would sometimes run the electric saw until they ran away. I am thinking of getting a small vacuum cleaner to turn on to get the same effect.


What does it benefit me to not like another human being?

One of the elders used to say: In the beginning when we got together we used to talk about something that was good for our souls, and we went up and up, and ascended even to heaven. But now we get together and spend our time in criticizing everything, and we drag one another down into the abyss. 

— A Desert Father in The Wisdom of the Desert translated by Thomas Merton