Sunday, May 31, 2015


My niece commented that she wondered what I have on my MP3 player. I know this is supposed to reveal all sorts of things about you, and mine does. But not what you might be interested in knowing.

Sadly my MP3 player -- also mp3, Mp3 -- is a cheap model. I bought it not to store music but for audiobooks. The problem is that it doesn't bookmark where I am when listening to a book, that it does not allow me to fast-forward or rewind easily at all, that it won't find chapter breaks. Did I say the problem? 

As a result, it has been a bit of a failure. I usually wind up downloading just one section of a book at a time to the player and listening to that part before deleting it and adding the next. Way too much trouble and so it lies in a box under the work counter in my office most of the time.

On the other hand, it does okay with music. But I am in such a habit of deleting that I don't store songs on it. Right now it has ABBA Gold. Great walking music, by the way, if I can resist the temptation to start dancing and scaring Jerry's cows or passing drivers. Once I tire of that, I will delete it and add something else. I know it will keep lots of stuff, but I am not a keep-lots-of-stuff kind of guy. Too many years in the monastery learning to be detached. Too many years working at the library learning to return items when done with them.

Not really a problem, not like having your home swept away in a flood or losing a job or discovering you have an incurable disease. 

By the way, we just got back from Wally World where I was told (by a friend who works there) that there is no dancing allowed in the aisles. I wasn't convinced.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Did you ever wonder ...

If someone is wandering around whining, is he just being peripathetic?

If I am thinking of things like this, couldn't I put that psychic energy to better use on the book?

Actually, rain showers continued into the afternoon, and I did put in some more work on the book. It is now at about 22,000 words. By comparison, Wickedness is only 17,000. The Wicca book comes in at about 95,000. I do not intend for this book to be as long as that one. I don't intend it to be, but I never intended Wicca to be that long either. The John of the Cross mystery is about 65,000 words. I would like Wacky to be about that length or just a bit longer in published form. At this point the word count is pretty meaningless, because lots will be chopped out when the editing starts. 

Another way of looking at it is that I have a completed draft of the first six chapters of a projected fifteen-chapter volume. By that standard, I have 40% of a first draft. That feels okay, especially since I have already done a detailed outline of a couple of the remaining chapters. I have a skeleton outline of the entire novel, and if I can stay on track and not get waylaid by interesting sidelines -- which has happened a bit lately, I must admit, as a couple of characters have become rather playful -- I should be able to have this thing out before Christmas.
Because I know all of you are going to want to get copies for everyone on your list!

But wait! There's more.

No, I guess not really.

Soggy Saturday morning and split trees [Updated with new photo]

About the time I went to bed last night, rain arrived with rumbling thunder in the distance. I never saw any lightning, however. It has been raining steadily this morning (it is 9:45 right now) and I have been writing, transferring music from  a CD to my MP3 player, cleaning litter boxes and so on. Right now I am brewing a cup of green tea. Before long it will be morning snack time -- an apple and a bit of peanut butter.

If you live in an urban area, you might wonder why people like us who essentially live surrounded by woods would want to plant more trees. One reason is that the local poplars are nicknamed topplers because they snap off about twelve feet off the ground in strong winds. The local woodpeckers do their part to weaken the skinny trees and prepare them for the wind to do the rest. So Tom buys seedlings from the county every year and plants them around the place so that new trees -- mostly evergreens, but not all -- are growing up and ready to fill the gaps when the poplars topple and the remnants are taken down.

Among the trees Tom planted are a couple of river birch behind the house, near the bird feeder and forming a nice part of the view from our dining room window with their curling bark. They have grown up nicely, fifteen feet or so. Yesterday Tom noticed that the larger of the two, which had forked out a bit at the top, is in the process of splitting down the trunk. That is the split outlined in red. Click on the image to enlarge it. It is still raining outside and this is not the best photo, but you get an idea. It may look like the tree is merely forking at that point, but the trunk has a very definite split of about two feet downward from where it had forked. The smaller picture highlights the split in black. You can click on it, too.

Older pictures Tom took out back show that it had started splitting at least two weeks ago, but it was so slight that we had not noticed. We have had high winds, and that probably began the process. Definitely not hit by lightning. We have had that happen before and the result is quite different.

Since Tom first noticed it, the trunk has split another six inches or so and looks like it may keep going. This has led to much mumbling and fretting about what to do. The rain is preventing any closer observation (or photos!) and providing time for speculation. At the moment it sounds like Tom will take the tree down completely, but he does like it and may remove only the splitting part that is leaning toward the house. My suspicion is that he will do that first and then decide whether to proceed.

Tom took this photo showing the split more clearly.

As I pointed out, it's not like we don't have any trees. And there is that other river birch growing next to the split one. That is its slender trunk angling along the side of the bird feeder in the small picture. It is not as nice a specimen, but maybe with the other one gone, it will get the light and nourishment it needs to flourish.

Here's a better -- i.e., not mine -- photo of the bark, which helps explain why Tom wants the tree to survive.


Friday, May 29, 2015

A bit of a day

This morning I got in some writing before I went to the library for my volunteer work. That went well, the library being pretty quiet. Now you may think that it is not unusual for a library to be quiet, but trust me. It can get rather rowdy, especially when the children's librarian is having a story hour for preschoolers.

I don't know that I have a librarian voice. I certainly don't have the tee shirt. On the other hand, one night when it was time to clear the library for closing, I told some people who were loitering by the DVDs that they had to leave. I thought I was merely firm, but the other librarian who was there accused me of using my priest voice on them.

"These are not the DVDs you're looking for...", said with a slight wave of the hand. 
[Star Wars reference.]

Anyway, after working my way through the confused tourist traffic and the various road construction projects, I came home and did some more writing. Then lunch, after which Tom and I went to Baraboo. They are having their city-wide garage sales. We stopped at a couple of places, visited a number of garages, saw nothing we really needed or wanted -- although there was an amazing collection of Thomas the Train Engine trains, tracks and buildings that I failed to convince Tom his grandson (and maybe granddaughter) would want. 

Then a shopping trip, mainly for the bottled water that we like and that, naturally, the local Wally World has stopped carrying. We got home and unloaded water and the little chainsaw Tom bought. I gave the cats a snack, took a short quies* and then did a bit more writing. One reason for so much writing today, relatively speaking, is that a lot of things came to me as I was trying to get to sleep last night. 

Tonight "they" are predicting heavy thunderstorms. We'll see. Unlike Texas, we have not been getting all the rain threatened or promised. It does feel like it might rain this time, though. 
*quies -- In the monastery the afternoon rest that followed the main meal of the day was called quies. Yes, it was the same thing as siesta but quies is Latin and sounds more seemly.

Once when I went into Little Rock to pick up something from the Discalced Carmelite nuns, Sr. Catherine was out front mowing. It was a warm early afternoon and I asked, "Sr. Catherine, don't you take siesta?"

She snorted and said with disdain, "Siesta's for the priests." 

She clearly meant "for weaklings."

Jesus said, "Fear not!"

"That voice you hear in the back of your head isn't your conscience. It's your fear." 

This applies in so many situations: social, political, religious, personal.  

The hearts are there in the background (until they get changed later today) because of 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 

Some folks in the news lately have suggested that it is only fear of God's punishment that keeps all of us from doing dreadful things to the innocent. They might need to ponder that passage. Maybe we all do, whether believers or not.

The quote on the side about the mind killer is from Frank Herbert's science fiction classic, Dune. The line about conscience is, I think, from an apparently justifiably little-known film, Runner Runner.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sometimes ...

I can't tell if we are backpedaling or just going in circles.

Or both.

Yesterday's post about the inevitability of spring arriving was hopeful. This post reflects the cynical, and perhapds cyclical, nature of my perspective.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot prevent spring from coming.

~ Pablo Neruda

Our irises are blooming!


Mitchell expressed concern that Dr Seuss Enterprises might "seuss my caboose" for using the name Whoville. I note that the name appears in two versions in the Seuss Canon -- Whoville and Who-ville. My own variation is WhoVille. At any rate, I also draw attention to the name of the Mayor of Whoville in the movie version of Horton Hears a Who
Ned McDodd is the Mayor of Whoville and is the father of 96 daughters and one son. It wasn't until the movie's release that his full name was revealed, and even then he is usually addressed as his title, only being called McDodd once by the narrator's introduction of him ("was devoted, fair, and a little bit odd"), and a few times as Ned by his wife, Sally.
Source: Dr. Seuss Wiki
Now, I'm not saying that McDodd and Mike Dodd are the same being, although there is a certain assonance, don't you think? And I think the description of "devoted, fair, and a little bit odd" certainly applies to my good self.

My brother, by the way, is Ted. Not quite Ned, but again, in the ballpark. And he works in city administration.

So maybe I have a chance of saving my caboose? Well, that's why I married a lawyer.

At any rate, the WhoVille in my books is definitely not the Seussian Whoville. although there is a connection. To quote from "A Hot Time in WhoVille" (the novella included in Wickedness in WhoVille), the neighborhood around the university where the protagonist teaches got its nickname in this way:

Philip Peabody Horton University by now was known just as Horton University.  In 1956, at an otherwise forgettable rugby match, the visiting team began to shout and jeer, “Horton U, P-H-U, Pee-you, Who are You?” 
As luck would have it, some of the Horton students in an elementary teacher's reading class had been examining the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who.  Their perverse little minds took up the challenge: “We’re H-U Whos, That’s Who” and the Who soon was the unofficial mascot of the school.  Prior to this the school sports mascot had been a Ho-Chunk chief with an appropriately antisocial scowl highlighted by war paint. Although this predated concerns about political correctness by decades, the mascot’s feathered headdress and war paint were officially retired in 1960, and an elephant costume replaced them. Of course, Horton was an elephant, not a Who, but a foolish consistency and all that.
With the arrival of How the Grinch Stole Christmas a few years later and further popularization of the Whos down in WhoVille, the University leaped aboard the Grinch-wagon and in 1963 created a combination Winter-Festival-cum-Mardi-Gras-cum-Mummers event called “A Hot Time in WhoVille Tonight”.  There is a Cindy Lou Who beauty contest, a roast-beast chili cook off and nonstop fraternity keggers.
Perhaps as a sign that naked attempts at marketing may even sell a book, Bob asked where he could get a copy of Wickedness in WhoVille. Just click on the title on the sidebar (under My Books) and it will take you to the Amazon site where you can order it in paperback or in Kindle format. Feel free to click on any of my titles to order copies. 

When you go to the Amazon page, be sure to click on the book cover image. (Tom designed the cover, by the way.) That will allow you to look at a few pages of the book and give you an idea of what you are in for.  

Caveat emptor! And perhaps I should add, Caveat lector! 

And by the by, for those who do not know, Damien F. Malachy -- protagonist of the WhoVille stories and my co-author -- maintains his own blog over at Damien's Queer World.

Naked marketing madness

I recently checked my blogger spam folder and discovered that it was filled with fake comments that all linked to another blog that was trying to sell something. It's all about marketing, huh?

Recently I saw a hint about how to increase pageviews on your blog: include words like naked or porn or some such thing in the title and readership shoots up. Well, maybe not actual readership, but your page gets more hits. For blogs that have ads in their sidebars, this can be a real benefit. For my blog, no so much. The only links to something on sale are to my books, and anyone who searches for naked or porn will be sadly disappointed in my publications.

On the other hand,  I may start putting a provocative word in the post title from time to time and track the impact. You may get the same effect with zombie or vampire or Kardashian -- if those are really different things.

It reminds me that when I was trying to get The Dark Night Murders published, the Harry Potter books were selling like mad. I told a friend that I was thinking about changing the title to Harry Potter and the Dark Night Murders. Or some variation on the theme ...

My best selling title is Elijah and the Ravens of Carith. Imagine what sales would be like if it were Elijah and the Vampire Ravens of Carith

On the other hand, Wickedness in WhoVille sounds provocative, but that hasn't made much of a splash.

Worth sharing because 15 years later ...

In April 2000, a mother named Sharon Underwood from White River Junction, Vermont wrote one of the most heartfelt and pointed letters to the editor that the Valley News has probably ever received. In the letter, she expressed her righteous anger at the local do-gooders whose moralism had for years inflicted pain and torment on her young gay son. That letter is still prescient today. Even now, it tells the story of thousands of LGBT youth trapped in communities where they still aren’t welcome.

Here is that letter, reprinted in full:

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people.

I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called “fag” incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn’t bear to continue living any longer, that he didn’t want to be gay and that he couldn’t face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that.
At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won’t get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don’t know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you’d best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I’m puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that’s not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I’ll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for “true Vermonters.”

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn’t give their lives so that the “homosexual agenda” could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn’t the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can’t bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.

How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about “those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing” asks: “What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?”

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?

Source: View From Here

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today's version of chopping wood and carrying water

  1. Rain, but not so much the predicted heavy thunderstorms. Not yet, anyway. 
  2. Put in a request for prescription renewals
  3. Paid bills
  4. Bought stamps
  5. Signed birthday cards, got Tom and the cats to sign, too
  6. Wrote checks and enclosed with said birthday cards
  7. Went to bank, made deposit, converted jars of change to folding green, set up appointment for tomorrow to cash a CD.
  8. Minor errands -- new toothbrush, shampoo, a few food items
  9. Finished writing a scene for Wacky
  10. Read blogs
  11. Watched the rain
  12. Walked
"Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."  
~ Zen proverb

Not to imply enlightenment, of course. Just the ordinariness of the day.


Tom was recently involved in a discussion about an article he and some others had read. He mentioned that articles like that one always reminded him of sage advice from one of his law professors: Beware the glib explanation.

It does sound like sage advice.

But it made me wonder if there were a corollary: Beware the glib warning.

Have a nice day! But let's be careful out there ...

Monday, May 25, 2015

1,600 miles

badge image
You've earned the Great Barrier Reef badge
At 1,600 miles long, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system—and you just walked that! Take a minute to swim in this huge success.


Tom was a Green Beret and served as a medic in Vietnam. My brother was a medic in the Air Force, was stationed in the Philippines, and was flown in and out of Vietnam countless times. My friend Lee and other people I know (or knew) also served during that painful time.

When Tom kept a blog, every Memorial Day he posted a list of men he knew who were killed in the war. Since he no longer maintains the blog, I want to keep their memory alive here.
"Among the 58,178 who died in Vietnam …

TERRY ALBRIGHT – Marine Corps – PFC – Age 21;
DENNIS CALTON – Army – 1LT – 196th Light Infantry Brigade – Age 23;
ANDREW CHICANTEK – Marine Corps – LCPL – Age 18;
RAYMOND CHURCHILL – Army – SGT – 25th Infantry Division, Age 19;
ROBERT CRAWLEY – Army – SP4 – 9th Infantry Division – Age 22;
ERROLD FARRAR – Army – SGT – Special Forces – Age 22;
RONALD HAGEN – Army – MSGT – Special Forces – Age 39;
ROBERT HASZ – Navy – AN – Age 21;
LELAND JOHNSON – Air Force – A1C – Age 21;
JOHN KAZANOWSKI – Army – CAPT – Special Forces – Age 31;
THOMAS KLEMP – Army – SP4 – 1st Infantry Division – Age 19;
CLAYTON LUTHER – Army – PFC – 1st Infantry Division – Age 19;
GUADALUPE MARTINEZ – Army – SFC – Special Forces – Age 32;
RONALD NEUBAUER – Army – CAPT – Special Forces – Age 29;
THOMAS NEWMAN – Army – 1LT – Age 24;
MICHAEL PROTHERO – Army – PFC – 101st Airborne Division – Age 19;
HECTOR RIVERA-COLON – Army – SFC – Special Forces – Age 30;
WILLIAM ROEGLIN – Army – SGT – 4th Infantry Division – Age 20;
ROBERT SCHELL JR – Army – SP4 – Special Forces – Age 22;
JEROME SCHUETT – Marine Corps – PVT – Age 19;
RICHARD STEIN – Army – SP4 – Age 20;
MURREL THOMAS – Army – SSGT – Special Forces – Age 37;
KENNETH WORTHLEY – Army – SSGT – Special Forces – Age 22."

In the beginning ...

Some time back, I was having lunch with a friend and she asked me if I still believe what Catholics believe. People just assume I am Christian and, knowing that I used to be in a monastery, assume I am probably mostly still Catholic. These are gratuitous assumptions, but it is perhaps typical of Americans in general, to assume that just about everyone is "Christian" in some vague sense.

As I tried to figure out how to answer that question honestly, it came to me that what I most profoundly believe is inexpressible. I can say words like "God" or "Reality" or "Higher Power" or even "Jesus", but does the person who hears me hear what I believe? I suspect not.

So now my mantra -- this is a pretty oxymoronic thing to say -- is, "In the beginning was Silence." 

John of the Cross, represented in that image, once told a group of nuns, "If anything is wanting, it is not writing or speaking, but silence and action."

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Back in 1993, A.J. Foyt announced his retirement from racing. Tom happened to be present at his last Indy 500 race, something to do with Tom's law business though unrelated to Foyt or to the race itself, and he met the great man. Tom enjoyed the experience of the race, but he says that he lost interest after A.J. retired. Today he is a NASCAR fan, of course, a big supporter of Joey Logano.

Although there is a NASCAR event this evening -- the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- we have a conflicting commitment and Tom will miss the race. So he decided to watch at least part of the Indy 500 to get his racing fix.

I was down in my office when Tom came downstairs muttering. He had turned on the television in the living room to watch the race, which was being broadcast on ABC. But it was being announced in Spanish. Thinking there was something wrong with that cable box, he came to check the television down here. It is also cable but has a different box. 

Spanish, again. 

We checked the other channels and they were broadcasting their regular programs in English. Tom checked the small television in  his office, which is not hooked into the cable, and the race was in English. We tried changing the settings on the larger televisions. We could not change the race from Spanish to English, nor could we change any of the English programs to Spanish. Some weird glitch with the cable provider. 

The Spanish announcers sounded much more excited than the usual English announcers. They must have used guys who normally cover the World Cup. There were English subtitles, and I could follow the Spanish well enough to see that the subtitles were keeping pretty good pace with the action. Whenever a commercial came on, it was in English.

Well, that's our story and we're sticking to it.

Sunday morning reflections

SPOILER ALERT: This post will be about gay stuff, so if that makes you uncomfortable, thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you later. BTW, if gay news does make you uncomfortable, you really might want to read this anyway.

1) Helen forwarded a link to a New York Times article about the Irish campaign for marriage equality. It is worth reading and the video is certainly worth watching all the way to the end. Click on the link and watch this if you have not already seen it.

2) A few years ago, before marriage equality had spread to more than two or three states, I realized how many same sex married couples I already knew. 
[I also realized how many of those guys were named Steven/Stephen. For those not in the know, that is a pop cultural reference to  Steel Magnolias.] 
Many of them had gone to Canada to get married before it was legal anywhere here. And even though I am gay, that doesn't mean that everyone I know is gay. I probably do know more than many people, but then again, many people have no idea that some of their friends and relatives are gay. Polls show that Americans usually vastly over-estimate the number of LGBT citizens, but they also tend to under-estimate the number of gays they know themselves. Until full equality arrives -- if ever! Ask black Americans how that's working for them a half century after the Civil Rights Act -- many LGBT folks will continue to choose to remain closeted. After all, you can still get fired for being gay in most states in the Land of the Free, and school kids open themselves to brutal bullying by being open. 

3) Finally, and building on those point, you know the 6-degrees-of-separation thing: you are only six degrees of separation from any other person in the world. That is, mathematically, you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows AnyOne-You-Can-Name. (I like to point out that if you know me, you are only a step away from Pope Benedict -- whom I met in Rome -- and therefore only two steps away from Pope Francis. Tom knows Barack, so if you know me, you are two steps away from the President of the United States. And so on.) So everyone today is only a few degrees, maybe only one or two, from a married gay couple. 

Welcome to the New World!

PS -- Still fighting marriage equality? That ship has sailed. Just ask the Catholic bishops of Ireland.


Last night Tom grilled kabobs for dinner. Afterward he suggested that later we go to Culver's (a Wisconsin hamburger chain that has expanded into other markets) for a sundae. As a loyal customer, last week on my birthday I received a coupon from them for a free sundae and I had not used it yet.

When we went in, a young woman who often waits on us was training a new member of the crew. I handed over the coupon, they asked when my birthday was and oohed and aahed. After Tom ordered his sundae, they handed me the plastic number to use to get the order. The number was 66 and I commented that it was perfect because I had just turned 65 and was now in my 66th year.

The woman who waits on us all the time smiled and said, "You don't look 65."

It was sweet. Even though a fragment of my mind said, "She's angling for a tip!"

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Amish and plants

Today we decided to drive through a part of Wisconsin with a concentration of Amish farms. We had done this before, but we always seemed to be there on Sunday when none of their shops were open. So today we determined we would do better.

Not so much. We saw lots of Amish: men and boys plowing behind horses,  teenagers driving horse-drawn wagons through small towns or straw-hatted fathers and little boys in carriages pulled up steep hills by straining horses, women hanging out laundry to dry. But we saw no shops of any great interest -- mostly places where they sold furniture or kitchen cabinets or eggs or candy. We stopped at one place that had several small shops arranged as a sort of village. There was an ice cream shop, crafts, a children's store, candy and baked goods and so on. But a sign outside one of the shops explained that although the buildings had been made by "our Amish friends," that was as far as the Amish part went. Except for a few bags of candy, it was obvious that everything on sale was commercially produced and much of it foreign to Amish values as well as Amish handiwork.

We were disappointed about not finding shops with things like quilts and woven goods. On the other hand, it was a beautiful day for a drive on winding roads through hilly country and farmland. We drove over Wildcat Mountain again -- always an adventure. I would not want to do that in winter! Very sharp turns and steep inclines would not be fun on ice.

Along the way I was taking note of wildflowers. Most of what I saw are things that are blooming here, but there were lots of wild columbine plants. I had been looking for them on Berry Road a few days ago and saw none. When we got back home, I went out and found some blooming between our house and Jerry's farm. They must have popped out in the last day or two.

Here are some of the wildflowers and other blooming shrubs around at the moment.

There are lots of wild geraniums in the ditches along Berry Road, by Jerry's field across from the house and in the edges of the woods. 
The palmate leaves are almost as interesting as the flowers.

Wild phlox. For some reason, purple flowers make me think autumn.

Wild columbine, looking a bit like Memorial Day fireworks

Lots of elderberry bushes.
Birds love the berries and do their part to spread the bushes around.

Wild honeysuckle

This particular honeysuckle is a shrub, not a vine, and we have it in white-and-yellow and in a sort of pinkish version. Tom says they are invasive, but I am not sure it they are invasive in the technical sense (not native to the area) or just invasive in that they will take over an area and drive other plants out. I like them because they remind me of the honeysuckle vines we had in Texas when I was growing up. The blooms on the shrubs, however, are tiny in comparison to the vines. I have seen red honeysuckle vines for sale in local greenhouses and am tempted to get some started on a trellis somewhere. Even if they were to be invasive, there is no real danger. I am always making plans for plants this time of year but never do anything.


On the anniversary of the birth of Harvey Milk, Ireland appears to have voted overwhelmingly to approve incorporating same sex marriage into their constitution. This popular vote makes it the 21st country to permit and protect same sex marriage. [I see different numbers because of differences in the level of recognition in places.] It is also the 10th predominantly Catholic country to do so.

To our brothers and sisters in Ireland, congratulations! You have done well and mightily.

Friday, May 22, 2015

It's a thought ...

Good and bad

Today while volunteering at the library, I talked to a woman I helped last year with a book she was publishing. That was her second book, and she told me she has started work on a third. Things are on hold, however, because of scheduled hip surgery. Her previous works were spiritual reflections, but she plans to try the National Novel Writing Month project in November. It will be her first attempt at an extended piece of fiction. Good for her!

After getting back home and throwing a load of clothes in the washer, I did some more work on Wacky. I feel good about what I wrote. It did not move the story line along much, but it does flesh out one of the new characters in (I hope) a humorous way.

Here it has been a lovely day, darkened only by my reading about what I can only characterize as a gross injustice done to another blogger by his employer. He is looking for another job now, and I commend him to your thoughts and prayers. Add him to the list of Michael's friends in need of support!

Finally I hope your own day has been darkened not at all and that your holiday weekend will be memorable. Here in the Dells, Memorial Day weekend is the beginning of the busy tourist season and the hordes are probably descending even as I write this.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Post-snivel post

Several years ago, Tom bought me this refrigerator magnet. 

"Why?" you ask in dismay.

You read this blog. You know why.

At any rate, after whining about not making much headway on the book, I decided to follow that advice and rather than snivel to do something. Something different from what was not working .

So this morning I took my laptop and headed over to one of the Starbucks in town. I was a bit reluctant. I thought I might be too distracted to get any work done or that I wouldn't find a table where I could get any work done or that maybe I should get a Chromebook because it would be easier than lugging around my laptop ... Mental sniveling!

At any rate, I went in, got my coffee, sat down at one of several available tables, opened the laptop and got to work.

Things began to come together rather quickly and I got things done. As is to be expected, getting a little bit done energized me to get another thing or two done and all in all it wound up being a productive morning. 

Sometimes I have to remember to shake things up ...

The important thing is that I shook things up and wrote instead of going online and trying to find that shirt on sale somewhere. (I can do that after I finish another chapter.)

And you thought your day was going to be exciting ...

This morning Steve forwarded this message that the monastery outside Nairobi had received from the American Embassy:

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi wishes to inform U.S. citizens that the United Nations (UN) in Nairobi will be conducting a mass-casualty drill, to include pyrotechnics, today, Thursday, May 21, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.  People in the vicinity of UN main gate, which is directly opposite the U.S. Embassy main entrance, will likely hear explosions and gun shots (which will contain blanks) and see colored smoke. The UN main gate will be closed to all traffic during this time.  Please do not be alarmed at these sounds and sights during this time. 

Steve had added this PS … and do not be alarmed by the mushroom cloud and the blood.

[That's the American embassy in the photo, not the monastery.]