Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Just a quick note to say that the dental work went well and I have survived. My appointment was late, late morning. Although I am in no pain, the lower left half of my mouth and that side of my tongue are still pretty numb. So I cannot eat lunch with any dignity yet. I did have a glass of low-sodium V-8, however, which may tide me over until a major afternoon snacking session. 

Watching me drink the juice was not pretty.


After my father died, my niece Kristin did a lot of genealogical work and discovered -- MMM? -- that Charlemagne is my (38 times) great-grandfather. Well, maybe. Just about everyone alive today who has European ancestry is supposed to be related to the man in some way.

At any rate, the crown that concerns me today is neither imperial (like the one Pope Leo III gave my alleged ancestor) or the royal one pictured above (the principal piece of British royal regalia, named for St. Eward the Confessor -- who never wore it)  but of the dental kind.

The procedure today should take about an hour. If all goes well, I will return in two weeks for the final bit. 

So much fun. But it is probably a whole lot less painful than being an emperor.

Monday, June 29, 2015

An odd suggestion

This is a little trick I learned over the years doing meditation in a variety of forms.

When someone bothers you -- for me this often means a politician or public official acting in a way I dislike -- try praying for that person. (You don't have to call it prayer, call it well-wishing, whatever works for you.)

And don't just pray for them to change the way you want them to change, as if you were all-wise and knew exactly what they needed to be perfect in your opinion, but spend time repeating over and over, trying to get to the point where you honestly feel like you mean it:
May he (or she) be serene and at peace.
May he be free from enmity and danger.
May he be free from ill-will and ill-treatment.
May his heart be open.
May he wake to the light of his true nature.
May he be free from mental suffering.
May he be free from physical suffering.
May he be healed of all things.
May he be a source of healing for all people.
May he take care of himself happily.
Don't argue with yourself or try to get too specific about how you want this well-wishing to happen. Just try to wish the person well, to ask God or the universe or WhomEver to give them serenity, peace, freedom from ill-will and ill-treatment, an open heart, awakening to their own truth, freedom from the control of mental and physical suffering, healing and the power to be a healer, and the gift of self-love with joy. It may take time and many efforts to get anywhere with this, but give it a chance.

My experience is that this may make no apparent change in the other person, but my own serenity and peace increase, I am not as controlled by my own anger and ill-will, that my heart opens a wee bit more and a beam of light sometimes creeps in, my own sufferings -- real though they be -- have less power over me, that healing can flow to and from me in some way and that I can like and love myself.

These days, I have lots of opportunities to practice this meditation. Just listen to the news! Trust me, there are people out there that I am well-wishing who would be quite surprised to hear it.

Just as I am quite surprised to hear myself doing it.

The small sculpture pictured above is of a Russian beggar woman, by Ernst Barlach. It is in the Hirschorn Museum in Washington, DC. The first time I saw it, it epitomized prayer to me.

Olla podrida

Olla podrida (literally "rotten [putrid] pot") is a Spanish stew made from pork and beans and an inconsistent, wide variety of other meats and vegetables, often including chickpeas, depending on the recipe used. The meal is traditionally prepared in a clay pot over several hours. It is eaten as a main course, sometimes as a single dish, and sometimes with ingredients separated (i.e., meats from the rest, or liquids from solids). It is a specialty of the city of Burgos.

I first heard the term, though, in the context of The Olla Podrida, a specialty shopping center in Dallas. Looking like three old red barns, the space had been converted from abandoned airport hangars, utilized recycled building materials and architectural antiques. Containing eighty-eight specialty and craft shops, artists' galleries, antique retailers, and classrooms, it was one of Dallas' most popular shopping facilities for a quarter century. There are various rumors about why it folded , the usual one being that it was because of the impossibility of bringing it up to evolving architectural codes and especially issues of accessibility. Other people claim that just as big an issue was the fact that the land on which it sat had become much too valuable for other uses.

Whatever. It was a fascinating and fun place, at least for people like me who like places like that. (That sentence is a tautology, but I will let you look that up yourself if you wish.) I was sad to see that it had disappeared when I visited Dallas some years ago.

Why did I think of this today? Because I had a jumble of thoughts that I considered putting into a blog and was looking for a title more original than "Bits and pieces" or "Odds and ends" and such-like. And olla podrida popped into my head.

But I thought it deserved a post of its own. And here it is.

A somewhat gentler rant with literary references

As I glanced at the headlines at the bottom of my computer screen this morning, I saw mention of the upcoming last episode of a television program of which I had never even heard.

There is a passage in one of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories I think about how newspapers seem to consist mostly of reports that Smith had died, conveyed with great earnestness and detail to people who had never known that Smith had been alive.

I fear I am such, in the case of this particular program, and I think I am not the worse for it.

On the other hand, to prove that context is everything, I found myself moved to tears while reading blogs this morning. John's beloved terrier finally went to her rest, and John's account of driving her around for the last time while waiting for the vet to be ready brought tears to my eyes. Recounting it here brings them back.

And Michael (another Michael, one of the gazillion of that noble and illustrious name) announced that he had proposed to his partner of some twenty years now that they can get married. That brought tears of joy, perhaps not as intense but real nonetheless, that this day has come for people all across this land, not just in parts of it.

John's sorrow may be a small story, but it is a true one and has nothing whatever to do with the manufactured emotions that (non)reality television programs foist on the public. And the peaceful happiness of Michael and his Someone (as he calls him on the blog) is more real than most of the stuff you see on the cable news networks.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Out of all the gay couples in all the towns in Wisconsin

My friend Steve asked how Tom and I happened to be chosen for the interview. He wondered if we knew someone at the station. You may have wondered the same thing.

For several years, Tom was chair of the LGBT Caucus of the state Democratic Party. When the Court overturned DOMA in 2013 in the Windsor case, he was interviewed by a local newspaper and that article (click on that link if you want to read it) was carried by many of the Wisconsin papers. That is how his name cropped up when they were looking for someone to interview, someone away from Madison and the politics of the capital. So we were the country mice they chose.

As for knowing anyone at the station -- if we had, we would have demanded more than 60 seconds of a two-minute segment! (Not really.) The reporter recorded about twenty minutes of interview. Of course, this shows how little content one gets on news programs in general. A half-hour show is ten minutes commercials. So our little segment was 10 percent of the twenty minutes available.

Anyway, we survived. My favorite response so far is this email from Tom’s daughter Lucy:
“you should be selling interviews, you could make a killing.....if you don't find these two sympathetic then you hate AMERICA, FARMS AND JESUS, perfect hook!” 

Oh, yeah. After that 2013 newspaper interview, our mailbox was smashed twice in the same week. The only real hostility we have ever experienced. And it could have been coincidence. Other mailboxes along our road are smashed from time to time. I have to remember post hoc not necessarily propter hoc. (A logical principle that just because A happens after B, that does not prove that B caused A.)


In the first episode of Will & Grace, a huffy Jack McFarland asked Grace if she knew he was gay the first time they met.

"My dog knew you were gay," she answered.

Some social conservatives fret about what makes a person decide he or she is gay or lesbian. "How do you know? Maybe it's just a phase. Or you're just confused. Or you are being lured into it by the propaganda of the gay agenda."

Yeah, right! That's what makes you decide to be gay -- the sheer attraction of being on the receiving end of gay-bashing, of knowing you can be fired in 29 of these 50 United Sates simply for being gay, of not being able to marry (until VERY recently), of being denounced every time you go to church. Who wouldn't want that?

More interesting perhaps is how other people know when we don't tell them. After all, "don't ask, don't tell" didn't originate with the military or the Clinton administration. Tom sometimes turns to me and asks about a waiter or salesperson or just someone walking down the street, "What do you think? On the team?"

What sets off the gaydar?

An 2007 article in New York magazine, The Science of Gaydar, by David France, offered some reflections:

A small constellation of researchers is specifically analyzing the traits and characteristics that, though more pronounced in some than in others, not only make us gay but also make us appear gay.

At first read, their findings seem like a string of unlinked, esoteric observations. Statistically, for instance, gay men and lesbians have about a 50 percent greater chance of being left-handed or ambidextrous than straight men or women. The relative lengths of our fingers offer another hint: The index fingers of most straight men are shorter than their ring fingers, while for most women they are closer in length, or even reversed in ratio. But some researchers have noted that gay men are likely to have finger-length ratios more in line with those of straight women, and a study of self-described “butch” lesbians showed significantly masculinized ratios. The same goes for the way we hear, the way we process spatial reasoning, and even the ring of our voices. One study, involving tape-recordings of gay and straight men, found that 75 percent of gay men sounded gay to a general audience. It’s unclear what the listeners responded to, whether there is a recognized gay “accent” or vocal quality. And there is no hint as to whether this idiosyncrasy is owed to biology or cultural influences—only that it’s unmistakable. What is there in Rufus Wainwright’s “uninhibited, yearning, ugly-duckling voice,” as the Los Angeles Times wrote ... that we recognize as uniquely gay? Does biology account for Rosie O’Donnell’s crisp trumpet and Charles Nelson Reilly’s gnyuck-gnyuck-gnyuck?

When I came out to my parents, my father's initial reaction was, "But you don't act like one." 

His gaydar, such as it was, apparently didn't pick up all the behavioral clues. He cut my hair for eighteen years, but I guess he didn't know that one indicator is a counterclockwise whorl for a crown. Although to be fair, I have so many cowlicks sticking out in so many directions, no one could possible guess from that alone. My hair growth doesn't make me look gay as much as it makes me look like Dagwood Bumstead.

I guess my father didn't pick up on other stereotypical gay male behaviors: the collection of Broadway musical albums and the fact that I knew all of the lyrics by heart; the fact that my mother constantly asks my advice about interior decorating; that I love cooking but hate yard work; that I was a cheerleader in junior high AND high school...

My mother, on the other hand, said, "I was afraid of that." 

Later she explained, "I assumed you were gay because you were a priest."

Boy, wouldn't that make the Vatican happy! When I overheard her mention a priest friend as being gay, I had to explain to her that he wasn't gay. Again, she just assumed.

A behavioral psychologist once told me that many studies indicate that the one consistently detectable and distinctive behavior seemed to be that gay men hold eye contact a fraction longer than straight men. He was talking nanoseconds, not deep longing glances. Yet when I reflected on it, my own gaydar seems to be set off by "something about the eyes" as much as anything else.

Of course, in today's world, there is often no need for gaydar. You can just read the t-shirt, scope out the rainbow jewelry or the number of silver rings on a guy's hand. I hardly think one has time to turn them around, check out the whorl on the top of their head, hold hands long enough to check out their relative finger lengths or the density of fingerprint ridges on the left thumb and pinky. Face it, if he lets you hold his hand that long, you don't really have to ask anymore, do you?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Television stars? [Updated with YouTube clip]

Today a reporter from the Madison CBS affiliate television station called to ask if he could interview Tom and me about the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Dave Delozier turned out to be a very pleasant man who spent maybe twenty minutes with us. That was all boiled down and part of a two-minute segment on the six o'clock news. Click on the arrow to watch.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Later the same day ...

Okay, I'm in a better mood. (That will only make sense if you read the earlier post about why we don't know what's happening. But you don't need to read that if you don't want to do so.)

It has been a quietly productive day. I took the day off from the gym, but I went for a short walk this morning while it was still cool outside. On the walk, I saw several cyclists and all morning dozens of them were going past our house along Berry Road. Obviously it is an organized thing, and I congratulate the planners on picking our beautiful road with its overhanging trees, small pond, farms with cattle and fields of corn and beans, and nice homes as part of their route.

I also did a little banking and almost finished the Prior's Cat story I have been working on.

While I was responding to an email, my computer decided to black out on me. So after I got it going again, half the afternoon was spent backing up everything essential. My computer is only two and a half years old, but who knows what this may portend. When I got it, Windows 8 had just come out. Now Windows 10 is almost upon us. It would be nice if the computer would last until a new operating system comes to plague us. (Serenity now! Serenity now!)

We had a tiny bit of rain about dinnertime, just enough to dampen the deck and the drive.

And to all a good night!

No wonder we have no idea what is happening in the world around us!

My homepage has a bar at the bottom of the screen that shows headline news. I am often baffled by these headlines for a number of reasons. One thing is that there are usually seven or eight of them, and I cannot imagine how these are chosen as the most important items of the day or the hour. They clearly are not based on my personal interests or computer search history. I have tried to turn the silly thing off or set it to find stories I would want to know about, but there seems to be no way on this particular page.

This morning, for example, there are seven items.
First, there is a story about an actor -- as usual, one of the annoying and arrogant ones -- who suffered a head injury while filming a movie.
Second, a story about the Grand Canyon being in peril because of mining and tourism development. This is part of an important larger story about how many of our national treasures, natural and historical, are at risk. This story deserves reading.
Third, a story about a television star talking about another television star who recently left the show.
Fourth, a story about old meat being sold in China.
Fifth, a story about an actor I have never heard of replacing another actor I think I have heard of in an upcoming film.
Sixth, a story about a new movie that apparently is exactly as funny as you would imagine such a sequel to be, which is to say, NOT.
And finally, a story about a child actor explaining why he dressed the way he did to attend the wedding of a couple whose only claim to fame is that they are famous.
To recap: five stories about the misnamed entertainment industry, one horror story about something happening on the other side of the world and one actual news story about something that might matter and that might move me to some sort of action.

Meanwhile children starve, old people die alone in overcrowded nursing homes, politicians fight to protect the gun rights of disturbed citizens and our globe grows incrementally warmer and more dangerous to our very existence.

But hey, what about that movie?! Pretty dumb, huh? Wonder how much it cost to make that?

Sorry, I guess I'm just in a mood. What's worse, it is only 7:30 in the morning. What will I be like by dinner-time?

Given the nature of this post, the font chosen for the blog title at the top of the page is Puritan.

Not a wordless post

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Audio (or ought-not) books

I like audiobooks. When I make my two-day drives to and from Texas, I like to listen to lectures on a variety of topics, biographies, novels, whatever. They tend to be a bit pricey, of course, but I wasn't a librarian for nothing. I can usually check something out, listen and learn and/or be entertained and then return it without depleting my limited resources. With the advent of digital libraries, I can download audiobooks to my tablet and listen to them that way, too. Good deal!

But not all audiobooks are created equal. 

I have listened to a number of audiobooks -- and watched an excellent series on YouTube -- about Big History. Big History is an emerging academic discipline which examines history from the Big Bang to the present. It examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities, and explores human existence in the context of this bigger picture. Of course, like most fields of study, there are no skeptics or critics of this approach. (Ha!)

Still I find it fascinating. Yesterday in the Wisconsin Digital Library I ran across an audioboook about the topic, one that had won a national award and that I had neither read nor listened to. I happily downloaded it and last night began to listen.

I am sure the content of the book is fine. It did, after all, win a major award. But the person chosen to do the audio version -- not the author -- had such an inappropriate voice and reading style that I gave up after less than ten minutes and returned the book. Listening to that voice, I felt like I was sitting in a third grade classroom listening to an inexperienced student teacher read stories from Greek mythology.

Later I looked up the person who did the reading and discovered, not to my surprise, that this was someone who has done the audio version of lots of books -- all fiction, many romance novels and some for children. Why the producers of an audiobook that deals with the Big Bang and everything since would choose this person is beyond me. Perhaps all the other books benefit from that style and have been best-sellers. But this book was not the right match for that voice.

I can, of course, check out the printed version of the book and read it. But then I will have to listen to my all-too-familiar voice in my head! I get enough of that on a daily basis as it is.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nature's goodness

The mid-sized day lilies are starting to come out quite well and the Asian lilies opened up yesterday. Those are the ones in the foreground of the photo; the smaller yellow flowers in the background are day lilies. The tallest day lilies in the row between the front lawn and the woods are budding but have not bloomed yet.

Yesterday the weather forecast was about half right. They had said we would have thunderstorms beginning at eight in the morning, and it began to rain just as I left the gym at 7:55. The rain kept up until lunch time at a steady pace, sometimes heavy for short periods, accompanied by lightning and thunder. We did not lose power at the house, but friends in the City of Wisconsin Dells  did. The rain then ended as predicted and things got nicer. So that half was right on target. 

The second part of the forecast, however, called for another stormy band to move through late in the afternoon and into the evening, but that passed south of us. 

Today has been gorgeous: temperatures in the mid-70s (23.9 C), low humidity, breezy and only a few scattered cumulus clouds in the sky.

Prayers and more

A neighbor of one of my nieces and his entire family are in need of prayers, healing thoughts, whatever you can offer on their behalf. His mother had a stroke and his two teenagers witnessed it, and so everyone is hurting in many ways. Please commend Eric's family to the care of the God-of-your-understanding (or as my good Lutheran friend Steve always says, "the God of my misunderstanding") at this time.

Thank you.

Lots of room

I have told this before, but ...

When I was doing my hospital chaplaincy training, the Presbyterian minister who directed it mentioned that he had only one sermon for funerals, although he adapted it to every situation, of course. It was based on John 14:2.

He said, "We don't know anything about what lies on the other side of the universal human experience of death except what the one person who had been there and came back told us. 'In my Father's house there are many dwelling places; otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a place for you?' In other words, in God, there is lots of room, more than we can imagine."

In life as much as on the other side there is lots of room in God. It is sad to see how often in American today those who consider themselves most godly try to make that space smaller, pushing out gays and lesbians and their families, Muslims, Jews, racial and ethnic minorities -- you name it.

The Old West movie cliche -- "There's not enough room in this town for the two of us" -- seems to have become a religious and political cliche today. 

It reminds me of Ghandi's response when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

"Western civilization? It sounds like a good idea to me."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Still stepping ...

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What''s in a name?

Saturday I was talking to a woman at the picnic who did not know my last name. 

"I'm Michael Dodd," I said.

She looked stunned.

"Your last name is God?"

It made me laugh because when my mother taught Sunday school many years ago for children who were two or three years old -- okay, she was essentially babysitting them while their parents were in classes of their own -- they often got confused and called her Miz God.

My full name is Michael Scott Dodd. I understand that I was named for a friend of my father, a man whose name was Michael Scott. I never met him and, other than being told that I was named for him, never heard anything more about him. It may have been that my parents simply liked the sound of the name, especially when joined to my surname. It does have a certain rhythm to it, and I have always liked my name. (And yes, I know that the character in the television series The Office is "Michael Scott.")

At any rate, when I was born in 1950, Michael/Mike was the most popular boy’s name in America. It had been for a few decades and would continue to be for a few decades more. When I was in school in Huntsville, four of the fifteen boys in my class were named Michael. We were variously called Mike, Mikey and so on.

My name is ordinary enough that it never created serious problems for me growing up. Once I hit high school, the combination “Mike Dodd” led to a nickname of “Milk Dud”, soon simplified to just Dud. It may have bothered me some when it started, but I think I liked the fact that I mattered enough to have been given even a slightly derogatory nickname, and I began to use it myself, sometimes signing letters as Dud.

When I went to Michigan State, people referred to me as “Mike Dodd” or sometimes “Michael Dodd”. (Part of that was to distinguish me from all those other Michaels out there. After all, there were over 40,000 students when I was there, and a big chunk of those were guys named Michael.) At the beginning of my sophomore year, one of my friends brought his younger brother up from Detroit to help him move back into the dorm. The brother expressed an interest in meeting me. Why? Because he had heard stories about Mike/Michael Dodd all summer. He had never heard anyone consistently called byboth  first and last name except for the Peanuts character, Charlie Brown. I think he thought I was a little bit Charlie Brownish. I wish I had owned a t-shirt with the signature zigzag stripe. That would have thrown him for a loop. Later, we tended to drop first names completely and I was just Dodd.

When I entered the monastery, where shortened names or nicknames were not customary, I became Brother Michael. And Michael I have called myself ever since. Family and people who have known me for many years still tend to call me Mike. I am intrigued by the fact that although I always introduce myself to new people as Michael, the majority immediately start calling me Mike. I am sometimes asked which I prefer, and I usually say I prefer Michael but will answer to Mike, because I have certainly been called worse.

In the monastery at the time I entered (October 1972), the old custom of changing one’s baptismal name when one made religious profession had fallen out of favor. These things are cyclical, and within a matter of five years, the custom was making a comeback. But it was not done in 1972 when I entered nor in 1974 when I made my first profession. So I did not take another name. I had considered taking Damien, because that was the name I had taken when I was confirmed. I took it for St. Damien of Molokai, the priest who had worked with lepers and eventually contracted and died from their disease. (That's a portrait of him on the side.) I got the idea partly from the book The Exorcist and partly from my growing awareness of my sexual orientation. The movie, The Omen, in which the son of the Devil is Damien had not come out yet. After it did, whenever I mentioned anything about my confirmation name being Damien, people tended to look at me suspiciously. I did not get to change my name, at any rate, although some years later I used Damien Scott as a pseudonym when I published a poem.

Although Discalced Carmelites at the time kept their original names, we did add a religious title or phrase to the name, in the manner of “John of the Cross” or “Teresa of Jesus.” This was an old custom that had to do with letting go of one’s family of origin and entering into the larger family of God. The title usually referred to a favorite saint or particular part of the Christian faith that was central to one’s own identity. I became “Brother Michael of Christ Crucified”, a title I took because I love the paradoxical nature of the reference from the first chapter of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:

“[W]e preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness, but unto those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see in your calling, brethren, how not many wise men according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

From 1972 until May 1979 people called me Brother Michael. We hardly ever used last names. I got so used to this that once I answered the monastery phone and the person on the other end asked to speak to Mike Dodd. I had already begun to say, “There is no one here by that name” when I realized he wanted to talk to me. 

I am glad I didn't hang up. It turned out he was calling to tell me I had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. I was pleased as punch, but when I mentioned it to the friars, not a single one of them knew what it meant.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Portrait of the author as a young problem

When I was in eighth grade, the American Legion or a similar organization sponsored an essay contest. Students were invited to write about a great American hero. I chose to write about Benedict Arnold.

Benedict Arnold, you say?
Yes. My approach was to focus on his career in the years before he became a traitor, during which time he was an American hero. The surprising thing was that I won a book. When the awards were given out, the Legion’s (or whoever’s) representative acknowledged that they had been taken aback at first by what I wrote. But they thought the essay was well-thought-out and well-written. So despite some doubts, they awarded me a biography of one of the figures who may or may not have inspired the character of Uncle Sam. I liked the “may or may not have” part. It fit with my own ambiguous essay. 
What could that possibly have to do with being gay?  I think it is an example of a tendency to think outside the norm, to examine people and situations from a slightly different perspective than most people do. That time that the priest sent me home to spend fifteen minutes thanking God for making me a gay man, among the gifts I discovered in my gayness was that difference of perspective.

When I was a senior in high school, I pulled a similar coup, entering a contest sponsored by another super-patriotic organization, this time on the topic (and I am not making this up) “Hippies, Draft Dodgers and Their Effect on Americanism.” This was 1968.

It goes without saying that I defended the hippies and draft dodgers. I gave it to my English teacher to read before I submitted it. She told me she disagreed with everything I said, but she thought I had a good chance of winning the contest. She was right, at least about the winning part. 

When awards day came along at the end of the year, I got first place for my essay, a hundred dollar savings bond and a very perplexed look from the old man handing out the awards. It was a small victory for nonconformity, but it delighted me and a handful of other nonconformists no end. My mother, who was there in order to present an award on behalf of her service sorority, did not know whether to be proud or horrified.

Tree house

Along Berry Road, there are a number of very old trees, here at least since the 1840s when they were left in place to mark the survey lines when the area was opened to settlers from Europe, people like Tom's mother's ancestors. In addition to those trees, there are other large and gnarled ones that fascinate me, looking like they were made to illustrate books for Halloween or a trendy design for a t-shirt.

One such interesting tree is an oak right at the entrance to Rich and Peggy's place. Here are a couple of pictures of the side that faces the road.

The tree looks strong and green from this side, but the other side is a different story.

Peggy and I both think the greenery growing inside the base make it look like a place for fairies or some such creature. Sort of Celtic-looking, don't you think?

It is a lovely sight, though, in its decay, prettier than you would guess from this photo. I keep trying to get Tom to take a picture with his good camera ...

The thing that interests me most is the way the wood has been eaten away inside by insects or decay so that up close it looks like the side of a cliff, filled with caves or little monastic cells. Or apartments for the fairies.

 We assume some storm will take the tree down eventually, or safety concerns may force it to be taken down earlier. But for now, it is one of the sights I enjoy as I wander our road and visit our neighbors.

To all you dudes: Dad, Daddy, Father, Papa, Pop, Pops, whatever the kid calls you

Saturday, June 20, 2015

And on the seventh day, Dodd rested

At the moment -- about 7:15 in the A of M -- I am planning to take a break today. The weather is a bit iffy, chance of thunderstorms beginning around noon. Tom is doing the grilling for a picnic hosted by one of his groups. Weather permitting, it runs from noon until six this evening. I will probably drop by there at some point and visit for a while.

Otherwise, nothing on the to-do list or agenda for the day. After the news of the past week, I feel the need for a cleansing breath. I'm sure I will do something -- even resting is something -- but I think I will just let it happen. Go with the flow. Or not.


Hope you are well, happy and safe today.

In honor of my intention to be serene and at peace, the font for the blog title at the top today is Pacifico.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dental hijinks

I had my appointment with the dental hygienist this morning and it went well, as usual. These days I don't even get chastised about flossing.

Several years ago on a planet far, far away -- well, maybe it was Chicago -- I remember the hygienist giving me her usual lecture about flossing. I finally broke out laughing and told her I thought it was cute that she thought I was going to floss. She laughed, too, and told me that people typically floss for two weeks before seeing the dentist and for two weeks after. At some point along the way, I guess I was converted and now it is not an issue. 

On the other hand, for several years the dentist has been encouraging me to get a crown. I have a tooth on the back lower left side that consists of a thin veneer-like shell of original tooth filled with silver or whatever. Lately that tooth has occasionally been sensitive to hot food, and today I surrendered to the inevitable and scheduled an appointment to come back in two weeks and have the work done. The dentist assured me that I would be happy with the results, because the crowns they use are guaranteed unbreakable for twenty years. I told him that was more than you can say for me at this point.

Going to the dentist is just one comedy routine after another.

Can I get an Amen?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Odds and ends

1) I had breakfast with a friend from the Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River this morning and was wearing my "Normal People Scare Me" t-shirt. I told him what I really need is a t-shirt that says, "People Who Think They Are Normal Scare Me."

No, seriously.

2) Later I had a fruitful meeting with the library director about the possibility of the library sponsoring a National Novel Writing Month pilot program in November. It will involve a commitment of about four hours a week for me that month and several hours each month between now and then. She was excited and I think it will be interesting. If you are not already familiar with NaNoWriMo, here is a link: NaNoWriMo. I have completed two books by drafting them with the encouragement of the program, which challenges you to write a 50,000-word first draft in thirty days. To put that in perspective, that is about the length of The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. If that is too unfamiliar, think your basic series romance novel or pulp science fiction. Not fat summer-beach-reading books. My Wicca in WhoVille originated in this way, although the final version is almost 95,000 words. The operative words for NaNoWriMo are first draft. Almost a year elapsed between the time I finished the NaNoWriMo draft of Wicca and the publication of the book itself.

3)The rest of today was a mix of ordinary things: half an hour on the treadmill at the health club, further walks outside to enjoy a pleasant day, writing, a bit of shopping during which I ran into a couple of friends and had a chance to catch up, reading and relaxing. Tomorrow morning I see the dental hygienist. Yay!