Thursday, July 31, 2014

Retirement Part Deux

I talked with the library director this morning to let her know I have decided that my days as a paid guybrarian are drawing to an end. I will work through August and then move on. No doubt I will be back as a volunteer, but I want to give myself some breathing space between working there and volunteering there again.

She was concerned that my decision might be due to something happening at the library, but that is not the case. The only bad things that happened to me there are things I caused! And those, fortunately, were quite rare.

One factor, though not the only one or even the primary one, is my desire to focus more on the novel. The library work only took up one day of the week. When I write, however, I need to be able to work steadily and uninterruptedly for a few hours each morning. EACH morning. When I do that, I make progress. Interrupt the flow and I am off in a fog. 

So, in response to gentle prods from Lee and from Sunny, maybe by Christmas there will be a complete book you can examine.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Of books

 I only work a few hours each week at the library, being allegedly retired and all. My primary responsibility is helping patrons learn how to use their computers, tablets and e-readers to borrow books from the digital library. When I am on site and people using the public access computers have problems, I am the person other librarians call in to assist.

Recently a woman who is thinking about purchasing an e-reader came to get advice, but she also wanted to talk about publishing a book she is writing. We had talked about that one day when I was helping her with a related task on one of our computers. I showed her what I had done through Amazon/CreateSpace, because that is the platform she intends to use for her book. She had previously written a book and published it through another group, but she had not been happy with the result.

One of the things we discussed was marketing. I mentioned that I no longer actively market my books, although they are available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats. (Hint, hint!) As a result, although I put no effort into it and Amazon certainly puts no effort into it beyond having the books on their list for people to stumble across, even this rather passive approach means that every month a few shekels trickle in. Trickle is definitely the word. If I ever finish the novel I began last November, I will have to give some thought to actually marketing it.My first three had a ready-made Carmelite audience, and that was my marketing target when I began. This one is not designed for that particular niche. And someday I may paste together some rambling thoughts from this blog to give family and friends for Christmas. That'll teach 'em!

Anyway, when I  looked at my Kindle sales reports this morning I discovered that this month someone in Italy bought a copy of Elijah and the Ravens of Carith. That it would be Elijah does not surprise me, that being my best-selling title. Beyond the (primarily) English-speaking nations, I am only aware of having sold this one book in Italy and one in Germany. At any rate, I can at least claim to have an international readership.

Whether that means I am doing my part to spread unity or only contributing to world tensions, I will not venture to guess.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I enjoy blogging

... because it provides a ready outlet for my desire to write. But I have to share this comic strip that I found, of course, on another blog this morning:

Click on image to enlarge.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Of deconstructed cats and collages

"The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things ..."

The collage class is moving into its final weeks. Besides some assigned small things, I have completed two projects -- the Western Tanager and the John of the Cross mystery bookcover, mentioned in earlier posts. I have been working on one with a Dodd family theme, and I have the basic design done but I am having trouble getting the physical bits to stick together on the substrate. That one may have to wait until I can devote a bit more time to it.

Kris, who is overseeing the class, wants us to start thinking about our final project. I had been playing around with bits about cats lately and threw together a simple little thing this afternoon called Macavity's Not There! You may recognize the title either from the line in T.S. Eliot's poem, "Macavity - The Mystery Cat" or from the song that appears in the musical Cats.

The first stanza goes like this:
Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw--
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there!
Here is a picture of the initial mockup of the collage. I haven't decided yet whether to leave the music there as a reference to the musical or maybe to cut the shape of the cat completely through the back so that Macavity will literally not be there. I may add some catprints around the edge on the map and perhaps a red ribbon with a bell where the cat's neck should be, whether the music remains or not. Still thinking.

And I need to spell Macavity right! That's what I get for writing that out by memory instead of checking first. And write on a more interesting piece of paper.

As for the deconstructed  cat, I am thinking for my final project of putting together a large number of photos of Sundance, taken from all angles, and laying them out in a sort of cubist way -- face on in the middle, to each side photos from that side, above photos taken from above and below photos taken from behind. Not in a cat shape, more cruciform, maybe. I have been trying to get photos of her all day and she is making herself uncooperative in the way of cats. Once I get a bunch of photos together, it may turn out to be a bad idea anyway. But it's something.


In the summer of 1978, I and five other Discalced Carmelite students from the States visited Spain for six wonderful weeks, touring the places associated with St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, usually staying in monasteries with the friars. It was a great experience and one for which I am grateful.

The first half of the trip we were in Castile, the large section with Madrid at the center. The second half of the trip was in Andalusia, the blue bit at the bottom of the map. We were treated well everywhere, but we noticed that the monastery meals in Castile almost never included much in the way of fresh vegetables. What a change in Andalusia! Lots of salads and veggies, and every monastery seemed determined to prove that they had the best gazpacho -- a soup made with a tomato base and raw vegetables and eaten (usually) cold in the summer. Very refreshing!

This came to mind recently when another blogger mentioned his love for soups in the summertime and a number of us sent him recipes. I sent him this one for gazpacho.

Very (Very) Chunky Gazpacho
Serves 6-8

8 cups tomato juice (one cup reserved), preferable bottled, not canned
6 ripe roma tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (peeled if you have oodles of time)
2 Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 poblano or anaheim pepper (or green bell if you really have to), seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper and hot sauce (e.g. Tabasco) to taste
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
In a food processor, pulse about half of the tomatoes until just pureed.
In a glass or non-reactive bowl, combine the pureed and chopped tomatoes with 7 cups of tomato juice and the remainder of the ingredients up to the Worcestershire sauce.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
After the ingredients have been allowed to combine overnight, taste for seasoning and heat, and adjust with salt, pepper and hot sauce accordingly. If the Gazpacho is thicker than you would like, add reserved cup of tomato juice.
Serve chilled and lightly drizzled with olive oil, if desired.

I realized that I had not made it myself for a while, and yesterday I obtained the necessary ingredients and today I made a batch. It is in the refrigerator with the flavors melding even as I type.  And here is a picture -- but it looks better in real life! As you can see, I like mine very chunky indeed.

 To paraphrase the musical Annie, "Tomorrow, tomorrow, gazpacho tomorrow! It's only a day away."

Design by design

Just thought I would do a little summery thing for the background there. No biggie. Make things a bit lighter for a while.

I know you were wondering. What's he up to? What's that all about?

You know the joke about how many Michaels it takes to change a lightbulb?

Just one. I hold it up and the world revolves around me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I'm your private dancer

I was cleaning out files on the computer and found this brief video of Sundance as the Rug Dancer from several years back.

Hummingbird moth

Yesterday when we got back from the circus parade, I noticed a Hummingbird Moth (also called the Hummingbird Hawk Moth) hovering around the Gay Feathers growing by the front sidewalk. Tom had already gone inside, but the moth was still there when I called him out to see it.

By the way, a regular hummingbird has been paying regular visits to the Trumpet Vine on the deck, sometimes hovering near the door into the house to see if there is anything here worth trying, I guess. Some summers I have seen as many as four hummingbirds at one time, but this year I have seen only one at a time. Maybe the same one, but I hope not. There should be at least a nesting pair. But I have witnessed no noisy battles over territory, which has been common in the past.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


John Dauphin went with us to the Circus Parade (click here for the earlier reference and explanation) this afternoon and we all had a good time. There was a huge crowd, but we lucked into a spot by the courthouse out of the sun, high enough to see over the folks on the sidewalk and with a bit of a breeze. The parade itself lasted about an hour.

One of the highlights for Tom, John and me was the America steam calliope, named for the circus car that carries it.  A calliope, if you are unfamiliar with it, is a musical instrument that produces sound by sending a gas, originally steam or more recently compressed air, through large whistles—originally locomotive whistles.

 Our friend Bernie Hotzel, who is the senior engineer at the little railroad, also volunteers at Circus World, helping maintain the antique circus wagons and operating the steam boiler that powers the calliope. After the parade, he invited us to look inside and even let me finger the brass keyboard. Below is a short video of what we saw. You will get a slight glimpse of Bernie towards the end -- the bearded fellow in the red shirt and suspenders. And no, that is not me playing the thing. This is someone else's video.

Pretty nifty.

And my "Not my circus, not my monkeys" t-shirt was a huge hit.

Finally, I would no be doing my duty as a librarian if I failed to tell you that the word calliope is from the Greek name for the muse of epic poetry, Calliope (or Kalliope), meaning "beautiful voiced."

Boo hoo, Yahoo!

I keep having difficulty with Yahoo.
  1. For weeks and for no apparent reason, it will ask me to change my password.
  2. I get messages on the computer and/or tablet saying it cannot sign on. 
  3. Lately I get messages telling me it is having trouble sending messages, but when I follow the provided link for more information, there is no information. 
  4. Now it has taken to deleting messages, fortunately ones I have read -- but then I am only aware of the ones that I have read, so who knows what else may be disappearing? 
  5. Some messages that I have tried to save to folders disappear from my inbox but do not appear in the designated folder OR in the deleted folder. They are simply lost.
Since this is happening on two devices, I think the problem is with Yahoo and not my computer. I have run utilities to see if there is malware or some such beastie and nothing shows up.

Anyway, if you are trying to contact me for some reason using my Yahoo email address and don't get a response in a reasonable time, that may be the problem. You can post a comment here (which will not show up on the blog later) and I will send you another way to reach me if either of you who read the blog get desperate.


Epicurus has a bad reputation among some people who know nothing about his actual philosophy beyond the distorted versions put forth by his opponents. A common idea is that he was all about sensual pleasure for sensual pleasure's sake. Not so much, as it turns out.

This reminds me of something I was told by an alcoholic: "For alcoholics, one drink is too many and a thousand are never enough."

From another perspective, the Tao Te Ching says, "He who knows he has enough, is rich."

Friday, July 25, 2014

40 minutes

There is a report in the news today that the average American spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook. I don't do Facebook myself, which gives me an extra 40 minutes. I wonder where they went?

In the monastery, we spent one hour in the morning and another hour in the late afternoon in private meditation. This was in addition to the time spent at daily Mass and three or four other prayers services scattered throughout the day.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was once told that the sisters had too much to do for her to ask them to pray for an hour every day. She replied something along the lines of, "If there is too much to do, we will have to pray for two hours a day."

Not sure if that story is true or how the sisters reacted when they heard it! I do know that part of my morning routine is twenty minutes to half an hour of meditation, and my days go better when I am faithful to that. I won't say I get more done, but I think at the end of the day, I am less done in.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

White peacock

The summer after my first profession back in 1974, I went to Mexico City for a six-week course in Spanish. One of my classmates was a college student from California. I believe his usual name was Rick Moreno, but we used Spanish names and so called him Ricardo.

He came to mind the other day because a place near us has a white peacock.

That summer in Mexico and for two other summers later, I lived with the Carmelite friars at the Santuario Nacional de Nuestra SeƱora del Carmen, often popularly known as La Sabatina. The monastery was directly across from Chapultepec Park, which had a zoo among other attractions in its extensive grounds. As students, we made more than one trip to the zoo to practice conversation. There was a beautiful white peacock that strolled around with its tail in full display.

I always commented on the peacock, and Ricardo would tease me that I was prejudiced in favor of white things because I was so white myself. His last name, Moreno, means dark or brunette, and he was. Our Lady of Guadalupe is often called La Morena, because the appearance of the image on the tilma is of a young woman with dark skin and dark hair.

Anyway, I always denied I was biased against dark people, although I had grown up in the discriminatory south during the segregation era. At least, I hope my biases have grown less influential over the years and that I do not let them influence me in negative and destructive ways when I become aware of them.

But our neighbor's white peacock made me think of Rick Moreno out there somewhere. I hope he is well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday wonderings

Tom is at the railroad today, training a new conductor. This guy already has experience and can probably be certified by tomorrow evening and start working on Friday. If all goes well, that means Tom will not have to keep working Fridays (and some weekend days/hours) to cover. That will be good. We recently had to cancel a dinner engagement because he had to pick up hours at the railroad. Perhaps now we won't have to do things like that.

I have been doing a bit of cleaning. One unfortunate result of having D-Square do such a good job on the floors is that I see how messy other things are!

This afternoon is my collage class. I have been working on finishing up a book cover project. I took a proof copy (meaning an early version I had to use to correct typos and such) of my mystery and played with it.

Here is a copy of the original cover. That photograph, by the way, is of a Carmelite monastery in Spain that I visited and photographed in the summer of 1978. The basic cover design is a template. For my other books, Tom designed the covers and did the art, resulting in much more attractive books.

Below is the collaged cover. I washed over the cover with some white acrylic to tone down the colors and glossy shininess, which may not be all that apparent in the above photograph. I cut out the daylight sky behind the monastery and inserted a night sky. The icon of St. John in the lower right hand corner is holding a small book. The handwriting, much too small to see here, is his actual writing. Across from the icon is a copy of an autograph signature. Around the edge of the book  as a sort of frame, I have written in Spanish the first couple of lines of the poem "En una noche oscura" (better known in English as "One Dark Night"), which poem serves as a framework for the story in the novel. I inserted a tiny replica of the icon in one of the windows of the monastery, to represent John looking out. And the eyes in the sky are a bit of humor. By the title I placed a small scapular medal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

It's relatively simple but meaningful to me.

I finished up the bird/music collage pictured on my July 4 post. No changes in appearance, just getting things glued down and sealed.

My active project how is a small piece what will be attached to an old book. It has a Dodd family theme, but I will wait until I can take a photo before trying to explain it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

And that's enough about that

Here is a bit of video of Sundance watching the robot this morning. Click on the arrow. After about 20 seconds, the action is all over although the clip keeps going for a while.

Later Sundance went and sat under the table and watched from safety. Then she climbed up on the table for an overview.


The robot is down in the lower right corner in the bottom picture. Sundance is not looking right at it because she was distracted by my attempts to take photos. You know, because cat.

Tom has decided not to call the robot an infernal device, as I thought he would. Instead he calls it a deadly device. He is convinced that it will chase him down or he will trip over it and fall down the stairs. So I am going to call it D-Squared -- D (deadly) times D (device). I once dated a girl in high school whose dog was named D-Squared for Darn Dog. (Or maybe something stronger than Darn.)

And I think that's enough about that.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Following up on Boys and their Toys

A little bit more on the Mint robot cleaner mentioned in an earlier post:

 I was delighted with the job this thing did sweeping and mopping the kitchen. Because the pressure is so even with the mopping process, the floor is much less steaky looking than when I do it by hand. And I work hard when I do it by hand: sweep with broom, then sweep with microfiber cloth to get the dust, then mop using special laminate cleaner and a sponge mop with another special microfiber cover, then steam the whole thing. And the floor still looks streaky. The little bot -- I have to come up with a name -- left it clean and shiny.

It was not perfect, of course, and there were a few small spots it did not completely clean. But those were very few and easily came up when I swiped at them, since the bot had already softened them up.

While it was cleaning in the kitchen, Sundance came in and I took her over to look at it. She was very curious and stalked it, looking underneath the bot as best she could to see what was making it go. Then she lost interest and wandered away. I did not have my camera, but I will try to get some shots next time I use it.

So I'm thinking not R2D2 or C3PO. The Doddbot? Maybe Calvin, in honor of Susan Calvin. (Those of you who are fans of the Asimov robot stories will understand. Others can check out this link.)

Happy Moon Day!

Forty-five years ago today (July 20), humanity took a giant leap from its birthplace onto the surface of another world.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong clambered down the ladder of the Apollo 11 lunar lander and pressed his boot into the moon's gray dirt — a simple if clunky step, witnessed by billions from afar, that stands as perhaps the most memorable moment in all of human history.

"The whole world stopped to watch what was taking place," space historian Roger Launius, assistant director of collections and curatorial affairs at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, told "I think it would not be an overstatement to say that."

That summer I was working as a prison guard -- I know, right? -- at the Wynne Farm outside Hunstville, Texas. I worked from 9 to 5 -- nine at night until five in the morning -- and so I was on duty when the historic moment took place. Although it was past the normal lights out time, the administration at the prison had allowed the inmates to stay up and watch the event. They were actually closer to the relatively small black and white television than I was. It was hard to see anything from my position in the guard's picket, but I can claim that I looked at those grainy images along with the billions of others.

On a weird side note, July 20 is also the day that Carmelites and some other Christians celebrate the feast of the Prophet Elijah, commemorating his ascent into heaven in a fiery chariot. I wonder how close he got to the moon?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Follow-up on Fear

I did one thing I fear today: I made reservations for us to go to Door County in September. This is the sort of thing that can drive me crazy. I research lots of places and read reviews and fret about costs and the fact that they only have a 90% satisfaction rate and such foolishness. And what if the weather is crummy? Yada, yada, yada.

Plus Tom and I, who have lived happily together for a decade, are not the best traveling companions. We have different approaches to such basic things as traveling. I want to get where I am going. Tom wants to wander around the highways and byways on the way. I am more about the destination and he is definitely about the journey.

Still we should enjoy the break. We have reservations at the High Point Inn in Ephraim. There are lots of things to do in the area. To quote from the Village of Ephraim's self-promoting website:
The picturesque Village of Ephraim is nestled in the heart of the Door County Peninsula. Settled in 1853 by Norwegian Moravians on the tranquil shores of Eagle Harbor, Ephraim takes pride in its Scandinavian roots. Ephraim’s rich heritage has been carefully preserved in more than 30 historical sites throughout the village, 11 on the National Register of Historic Places. 
Plus Ephraim has the most accessible shoreline of all the Door County communities. I doubt we will want to go into the water in late September, but it should be good for brisk walks along the beach. And there is an indoor pool if we need to swim. There is a state park nearby and Door County is famous for the galleries and interesting shops.

Boys and their toys

So I saw a great Groupon deal on this thing the other day and decided to use some birthday money to get one. It arrived this morning and I did a fast charge of the battery and set it to sweep and then mop my bathroom. It is quiet, did a nice job and I am pleased. Needless to say, Tom will soon refer to it as an infernal device. That's what he used to call my Keurig coffeemaker until he discovered how convenient it is and how much he likes to use it.

I got the basic model and this does not do carpets. But it looks like it will be great for the laminate floors in the bathrooms, kitchen and other areas. It got right up against the toilet, cleaned all around the curved base and also worked its way around odd corners. Tomorrow while Tom is at the railroad, I plan to set it loose on the kitchen -- my housecleaning bete noire!

I will report back on the cats' reactions. I have seen videos of cats riding around on robot vacuums, but I have my doubts about our two. Unless it can also be programmed to dispense snacks.

By the numbers

According to Blogger, I have posted (including this post) 2,282 times on this blog. The blog has been viewed a bit over 90,000 times. Which averages out to almost 40 views per post.

I am surprised!

Most viewers (40%) are from the United States -- no surprise there -- but the second most represented nation is Russia with 16%. Now that is weird.

Then Turkey, China, Germany, Ukraine, France, Great Britain, Canada and Taiwan.

Now if only I could get more of these folks to buy my books!

Given the nature of this blog -- not particularly issue-oriented, mostly just reports on my day and rambling thoughts for the sake of family and friends -- the numbers seem high. On the other hand, people with important blogs get something like a million hits a day.

Which kind of puts 40 a day in perspective, huh?

Friday, July 18, 2014


A few years ago I was doing a sort of life-review with a friend. Part of the process was making note of what had been motivating forces on my behavior. When I was done, I went back over and paid particular attention to those notes. What was glaringly obvious was how much of a role fear had played in my life.

I was quite taken aback. I thought I had done lots of fearless things, and perhaps I had. But fear was still present and much more important that I had realized.

It shows up in small things. I am maybe not like the cow in the photo. When it comes to enormous things, I can jump off the cliff and let it go. But little things can be a problem: going shopping, playing any kind of competitive game, going to a party where I don't know many people. Fear keeps me in ruts. 

One reason I am taking the collage class this summer is that something about that scares me. Doesn't make much sense, but it does. I spent so many years -- decades, really -- in school that I react internally like everything I do is being graded. 

The following, as those of you nerds will recognize, is from Frank Herbert's Dune:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More mouse tales

This evening Tom was preparing chicken kabobs for the grill. He cut up chicken breast and threaded skewers with chicken, chunks of red onion, orange and red peppers and cherry tomatoes. When he had these all nicely assembled and ready to take out to the deck for cooking, he turned around from the chopping block island to turn on the water in the sink to wash his hands.

"Yipes!" he yelled, turning off the water and jumping back.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"There's a mouse in the sink!"

Apparently this is not unheard of, because the photo above is one I found online. I did not have the presence of mind to take a picture of our mouselet, but it did look just like the one in the photo -- except ours was a little wet. While Tom rushed to the bathroom to wash his hands, I scooped up the mouse in one of our handy leftover plastic containers and took it outside.

The cats paid no attention to the entire affair.

Where the mouse came from, how it had climbed up to the sink and how long it had been trapped by the slippery stainless steel sides, we have no clue.

As long as we are monkeying around

(From ThinkGeek)

Not everyone in real life is like Ross Geller with a little Marcel as a best friend to help with tasks, keep them company, and generally just be awesome. But if you did have a monkey, what types of things would you have it do? Grab you a beer? Open mail? Peel your bananas? Actually, that might be tricky since monkeys love bananas. 

Well, although its not a real, furry monkey, this stainless-steel Pocket Monkey 12-in-1 tool might just be able to help you out with a few of those tasks. This light, credit-card-sized tool features a couple of unique features not found in other multi-tools. Just insert your credit card and make it a phone stand. It has a bottle opener, flat screwdriver, micro screwdriver for use on glasses or kids' toys, a door latch slip, letter opener, hex wrench (works on 5 different sizes), Phillips-head screwdriver, orange peeler, banana nicker (for squishy banana tops), ruler (English and metric), and straight edge! 

Product Specifications

  • 12-in-1 Pocket Tool with a monkey head
  • Has 12 functions: Phone stand, bottle opener, flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers, micro screwdriver, hex wrench, banana nicker, orange peeler, door latch slip, letter opener, ruler (English and metric), and straight edge
  • Unique and functional gift for everyone to have Made in the USA
  • Materials: Heat-treated stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 3" long x 2" wide x .1" thick
  • Weight: .6 oz.



On a sidenote, I think Marcel was an extremely lame gimmick in the early episodes of Friends. Just as "jump the shark" has come to refer to the episode where a popular series went into freefall, so I think "dump the monkey" could be used to refer to the moment a series realizes a character is a drag and does something to get rid of the character. If you want to bring the character back in another gimmicky episode, as did Friends with Marcel, this may work if you are firmly established by that point and can risk a momentary lapse.

 Just my humble opinion, of course.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More fun with families!

Crawling around in the branches of the family tree this evening, I came across some interesting information about my (I think) great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, William "The Quaker" Dodd, who was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1707 and died in Middleburg, Virginia in 1769.
Besides being a Quaker, William was a shoemaker. He married Catherine Neederman in 1726 in Pennsylvania.

December 10, 1742:
William was granted 450 acres of land in Loudoun County, Virginia. The acreage was based on a wife and 7 children. According to our family records, there were more children, but the records are very confused, with the same name appearing more than once with some dates the same and others different. Muddled, muddled, muddled!

December 28, 1746:
William and his wife requested membership in the Fairfax Monthly Meeting of the Friends, in Loudoun County, Virginia. William was received by request and Catherine was received by the women friends on April 28, 1746. 

One expects Quaker ancestors to be the epitome of respectable, doesn't one? Nonetheless William and Catherine's membership in the Quaker Church was often in jeopardy:
April 1747: Their daughter Ann  was disowned due to her marriage out of unity to a Mr. Richardson.

[Note: "Marriage out of unity" (sometimes abbreviated MOU) meant that the person had married  someone not of the Quaker faith. Strict interpretation of the Quaker covenants called for families to disown such members.]
1751 and 1755: William was complained of for drinking and card playing! [I love this!]
May 31, 1755: Son Edward was disowned. [Why?]
February 28, 1756: Thomas was disowned for marriage out of unity but was reinstated on August 26, 1758.
January 31, 1759: Daughter Lydia was disowned for marriage out of unity.
April 24, 1762: Son John was disowned for marriage out of unity.
May 26, 1764: Son Jesse was disowned for 'libertine conversation.' [Hmmm.]

I note that I am descended from the Thomas who was disowned and then reinstated.

Not my circus

A friend sent me a t-shirt that reads, "Not my circus, not my monkeys." It's a Polish proverb meaning, "Not my problem."

The monkey in the picture is the only one of about thirty that Tom used to have. We gave the rest of them to the Children's Librarian a couple of years ago to use as she saw fit. For a while, whenever we visited a thrift store, Tom would look for monkeys and I would look for dragons. (We were that kind of circus.)

The t-shirt is perfect for many reasons, among which is the upcoming Circus Parade in Baraboo. Baraboo will celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Ringling Bros. Circus, Saturday, July 26, with the second annual Big Top Parade, processing around its historic downtown courthouse square district. (I used to work at a law office on the square, and the "not my circus, not my monkeys" t-shirt would have been perfect office garb.)

Clowns march in front of the Al. Ringling Theater, just a few doors down from where I used to work.

The parade will consist of more than 75 units, including 14 antique, wood-carved circus wagons from Circus World Museum. Bernie, the guy who runs the steam engine at the little railroad where Tom volunteers, helps maintain the circus wagons and the steam calliope at the museum.

Baraboo has the distinction of being the historic home of numerous circuses, including the world-renowned Ringling Bros. Circus, and the current-day home of Circus World Museum and the International Clown Hall of Fame.

The Ringling Bros. Circus was founded in Baraboo 130 years ago in 1884. The show's winter quarters were located along the banks of the Baraboo River until 1918. During those 34 years, the business grew from a small operation with a handful of employees to a circus empire consisting of the three largest circuses in America, each employing more than a thousand performers and workers. Circus World preserves eight of the surviving winter quarters structures, the largest such group in North America, which has been declared a National Historic Landmark Site.

Because ... why, again?

Own a slice of history with the Camaro Z28 Watkins Glen Raceway

by - on July 7th, 2014
So, you have pretty much “made it” in life, having a comfortable retirement nest egg, your health is in tip top condition, your children have flown the nest and are doing extremely well for themselves, and your have no lack of any physical need. Let’s just say that you have a surplus of funds and would like to purchase something “crazy” or deemed to be surplus requirements for any home, then you could surely do worse than to drive home the $85,000 Camaro Z28 Watkins Glen Raceway

Do not be mistaken – this Camaro Z28 Watkins Glen Raceway is a genuine, full-size 1969 Camaro Z28 that incorporates a slot car track modeled after the legendary Watkins Glen International raceway. The classic race car will retain its authentic magnesium Minilite wheels as well as lightweight steel body, not to mention its blue exterior that comes emblazoned with original Penske and Sunoco logos. In addition, you cannot run away from the recognizable #6 that is emblazoned on the door, where it commemorates champion driver Mark Donohue who steered the Camaro to half a dozen victories in 1969.

Incorporating the two-lane track required the Camaro’s windshield, roof and seats to be removed, so that it can make way for the 1/32-scale slot cars to navigate The Glen’s trademark 11 curves. Boasting of a hand-carved wooden route, it has been banked to facilitate maximum speeds. A key fob will turn the track on, while pushing on the door handle will activate LEDs that illuminate the course. Each purchase comes with a dozen slot cars that are the embodiment of “muscle”, where you will find models such as the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, and the main star, the Chevy Camaro. You can be sure that this is going to be one of your treasured heirlooms as the little boy in you cheers on with this purchase. 

How's that working for you?

We report, you decide.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gumbie Cat

And a tip of the hat to Ur-Spo for referencing, regarding the previous post,  
"The Old Gumbie Cat"
by T.S. Eliot 
I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
Her coat is of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes and leopard spots.
All day she sits upon the stair or on the steps or on the mat;
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun.
And when all the family's in bed and asleep,
She tucks up her skirts to the basement to creep.
She is deeply concerned with the ways of the mice--
Their behaviour's not good and their manners not nice;
So when she has got them lined up on the matting,
She teachs them music, crocheting and tatting.

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
Her equal would be hard to find, she likes the warm and sunny spots.
All day she sits beside the hearth or on the bed or on my hat:
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun.
As she finds that the mice will not ever keep quiet,
She is sure it is due to irregular diet;
And believing that nothing is done without trying,
She sets right to work with her baking and frying.
She makes them a mouse--cake of bread and dried peas,
And a beautiful fry of lean bacon and cheese.

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
The curtain-cord she likes to wind, and tie it into sailor-knots.
She sits upon the window-sill, or anything that's smooth and flat:
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun.
She thinks that the cockroaches just need employment
To prevent them from idle and wanton destroyment.
So she's formed, from that lot of disorderly louts,
A troop of well-disciplined helpful boy-scouts,
With a purpose in life and a good deed to do--
And she's even created a Beetles' Tattoo.

So for Old Gumbie Cats let us now give three cheers--
On whom well-ordered households depend, it appears.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Of mice and mousers

We have not had much problem with mice in the past few months. Part of this is due, we think, to the work done in the basement. The foam that they used to seal the basement to prevent moisture also sealed up many of the ways that mice had been making their way into the house. And the use of cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil has helped keep them away from the pantries and other places should they make it in some other way.

This past week, however, I have had to dispose of four mice caught in sticky traps. I thought maybe the wet weather had driven them inside, but tonight I caught Cassidy bringing one in and letting it loose to run about. She and Sundance ran around uselessly, making a lot of noise but not catching the little mouse, who eventually hid under the dishwasher. Cassidy went back outside -- NOT, I hope, to find another rodent to bring in. Sundance went over and crouched alongside the dishwasher, watching as the mouse poked its head out and crept out onto the floor from time to time. I watched the mouse run practically into Sundance's face before the cat would swat at it. Not, you notice, "swat it." This happened several times. Sundance never got to her feet or chased the mouse. Just slapped at it and let it go back under the counter. The mouse, none too bright, kept coming back out and approaching the cat. 

Sundance waiting for the mouse to reappear.

Eventually the mouse wandered away from the kitchen and I managed to corner it and scoop it up in a container and toss it back into the yard. When Tom opened the door for me to get rid of the mouse, Sundance trotted out down the sidewalk ahead of me like she was leading the way. I tossed the mouse off in the other direction, hoping not to see it back in the house later.

Oh, sure! Now you tell me!

Because we have French ancestors ...

Of course, those French ancestors (De Venables) came over to England almost a millennium ago.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Art Fairs On and Off the Square

Madison has an excellent art fair -- and I do mean art, much of it VERY pricey -- in the middle of the summer on Capitol Square. Over 400 exhibitors show off their wares, everything from fine jewelry to life-size sculptures and more. There is also a smaller show called the Art Fair Off the Square and that adds to the interest.

Tom and I had planned to go yesterday (Saturday) but I woke up with the beginning of a cold and the weather was threatening. So I took some cold meds and we stayed home. The meds made me feel better, but I did not want to risk going down there and getting caught in the rain and then having to face an hour's drive back home soaking wet. The delay worked and this morning I felt up to the adventure. Plus the rain storms that had gone through yesterday had moved on.

 And there's the Capitol overlooking it all

This lady is no doubt looking at the Capitol and thinking bad thoughts about our governor who is under investigation for involvement in illegal electioneering activities.
This piece -- head, shoulders, bust -- is actually much larger than life and designed to hang on a wall. Like many of the larger pieces, no price tag was in evidence. I guess it is one of those, "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" things.

Colorful windmills

A number of exhibitors were also demonstrating their process.

The pig's head moves up and down. I didn't notice a motor, and it may just bob in the wind.

These figures are from the Art Fair Off the Square.
There were lots of humorous pieces at both fairs.

We didn't buy anything, although we saw some interesting stuff and tried on a bunch of steampunk hats. 

 I told Tom I had remembered things were expensive, but I had forgotten just how expensive they were. The hats were cool but heavy and ran two to three hundred dollars each.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Echoes of Echo half a century later

Project Echo was the first passive communications satellite experiment. Each of the two American spacecraft, launched in 1960 and 1964, was a metalized balloon satellite acting as a passive reflector of microwave signals. Communication signals were bounced off them from one point on Earth to another.

Following the failure of the launch vehicle carrying Echo 1, Echo 1A (commonly referred to as Echo 1) was successfully orbited in August of 1960, and was used to redirect transcontinental and intercontinental telephone, radio, and television signals. The success of Echo 1A proved that microwave transmission to and from satellites in space was understood and demonstrated the promise of communications satellites. The vehicle also provided data for the calculation of atmospheric density and solar pressure due to its large area-to-mass ratio. 

Echo 1A was visible to the unaided eye over most of the Earth (brighter than most stars) and was probably seen by more people than any other man-made object in space.

Echo 2 was a 41.1-meter-diameter (135 ft) balloon, which was the last balloon satellite launched by Project Echo. It used an improved inflation system to improve the balloon's smoothness and sphericity. It was launched fifty years ago, January 25, 1964, on a Thor Agena rocket. Echo 2, being larger than Echo 1A and also orbiting in a near polar orbit, was conspicuously visible to the unaided eye over all of the Earth. Echo 2 reentered Earth's atmosphere and burned up on June 7, 1969.

For months after the the first successful launch placed Echo 1A into orbit, the nightly news included a report on when and where to look for it in the night sky. We lived out in the country, and I remember many nights when the whole family would go out into the dark back yard and peer into the sky until one of us claimed to have located the satellite overhead. It was wondrous. 

I notice that Echo 2 fell back into the atmosphere and burned up only a matter of weeks before Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to become the first men to walk there. 

We had gone so far so fast.

Because the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong ...

From the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

More fauna

The local newspaper this morning published this photograph of a young bear taken this past week by our neighbor Erin. She lives about a half mile down the road and the bear was on her front porch. Bears show up occasionally around here, although this is the closest we have heard of one near us. 

We are accustomed to deer in the back yard (a doe with a fawn are frequent visitors), coyotes (often heard and sometimes seen lurking at the edge of the woods), raccoons, opossums and wild turkeys. Now perhaps we must keep an eye out for the occasional Ursus americanus.

Just more proof that we do indeed live in the country. 

FYI, the Baraboo Bears, in the neighboring town of Baraboo, are something else entirely.

Oak wilt

One reader commented on oak wilt. So here is some more information. (Don't be afraid. I'm a librarian.)

The cause of oak wilt

Oak wilt is caused by a fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum. The fungus invades areas inside the tree where water moves. Later, balloon-like bumps called tyloses are formed and they plug up the water's path through the tree. As water movement inside the tree is slowed, the leaves wilt and drop off the tree. Red oaks are more susceptible.

If the disease is allowed to progress, it will spread to healthy oaks that are connected by the roots (root grafts) to the diseased trees. In forested areas where oak is common and root grafting is widespread, an ever-widening pocket of dead oaks will form. Where oak is mixed with other species and is a minor part of the forest, oak wilt will spread slower and may actually stop where roots are not grafted. New pockets of dead oak may also be formed by sap-feeding beetles spreading oak wilt above ground.

Dead oak trees can serve as excellent den trees for wildlife. Oaks do not decay as quickly as aspen, birch and red maple, so they will provide shelter for wildlife for many years. Also, as oaks die, the site often becomes brushy for about 10 years. Warblers, grosbeaks, cuckoos, cardinals, grouse, rabbits, deer and shrews will be attracted to the brushy area. Brown creepers may nest under the bark falling off of dead trees. Dead trees will also supply insects for birds, and large dead trees may provide perches for raptors.
As is true of nature in general, when something is dying, something else is growing or benefiting. We, however, have plenty of brush piles to shelter wildlife and leave dead but uninfected trees standing for the sake of the woodpeckers and such. So we are trying to stop the spread of the fungus on our acreage.