Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday frolics

Our trip to Madison went well. After dropping Michelangelo off at Olbrich Gardens to entertain himself, we went to our appointment to view apartments. Glen was very friendly and helpful, and we found the lakefront apartments with a porch/sunroom to be light and beautiful. Thanks again, Glen, for your time.

The view from the apartments we visited

We picked Michelangelo up at the Gardens and then drove past a couple of other possibilities. Afterward we headed back to Prairie du Sac to introduce Michelangelo to the Blue Spoon. A table opened up on the veranda overlooking the river just when we needed it, and we all enjoyed a good lunch al fresco

He treated us to a fish fry in the Dells for dinner, and we ended the day well fed. (Tom had made sausage and scrambled eggs for breakfast.) I told the two of them that I should go to the gym tonight and then again tomorrow morning, but that ain't happening. Well, not the tonight part, anyway. Instead when we got home I had a piece of cheesecake left over from last night. At least I had resisted the cannoli that Michelangelo got for dessert at the restaurant. Okay, I ate one small bite. Quite small.

Not sure what we will do tomorrow. Rest and digest?

I plan to put in my hour on the treadmill first thing in the morning. It's nice have a guest but it can wreak havoc on my careful eating habits. 

But one can be TOO careful, don't you think?

There is a way

This morning we are going to talk to someone about apartments. Tom insists that finding an apartment is my job -- well, looking for one is. He reserves the right to not like what I find and send me back to the drawing board. Which is to say, back to the internet search.

My spontaneous reaction to this situation is to see much of what I am doing as leading to a huge mistake that will be very difficult to correct. You know, the fate of nations hangs in the balance, that sort of thing.

Well, not so much. If the first apartment we look at doesn't work, the Madison area is filled with other apartments. No need to get all crazy about it.

But this is a trap that I sometimes fall into. I act as if, when I come to a fork in the road and start off along one path, I can no longer change directions. I begin to think in terms of "I need to get to B, and you can't get there from here!"

Whereas, in fact, I can get most anywhere from here, even if it sometimes means going somewhere else first. The way forward does not consist of a superhighway with extremely limited access. It is more like a rustic country road, branching off here and there, splitting and merging, part of a large network. There is probably a shortest route, a more scenic route and so on. But there are actually lots of ways to get where I want to go.

Probably even to an apartment the cats will approve.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday things

After doing my hour on the treadmill and some weights this morning -- I am not sure if what I do can be called weights; maybe lights would be more accurate -- I came home to help get the house in shape for the realtor to see this morning. He has been here before, and we did not do a total cleanup-for-buyer-viewing job. Things got straightened and uncluttered, floors cleaned and so on. He is coming mainly to get a better idea of the floor plan and things of that sort.

We also have to get the guest room ready because Michelangelo is arriving tonight for a brief visit. I had contacted him to see if we might get together next month when we plan to go to Chicago to see Rebecca, David and the twins. He said he could come up here this weekend and then we wouldn't have to work our Chicago trip around his schedule.

Tomorrow morning Tom and I (maybe dragging Michelangelo along) go to Madison to do some apartment viewing. We are still months away from needing an apartment. In fact, from the responses I get from lots of apartment managers, we are so far away from when we need one that they don't know now if they will have anything then. We can be pretty flexible, though, with our own schedule. If we can get on a wait list or two, that would be something. One of those "next right thing" deals. I am beginning to think that we may be looking at a spring or summer move, not a winter one. I did tell Tom, though, that I had seen a prediction that this winter will have mild temperatures and little snow -- something to do with El NiƱo -- so if we should need to move, this might not be a bad winter to do it.

BTW, I am continuing to enjoy going to the gym. (The manager would probably not like me calling it a gym, but that is so much easier than writing fitness center or health club all the time.) With everything that is going on around here these days, working up a good sweat and then taking a cleansing shower is quite stress-reducing. Some of the places we are looking at in Madison include a basic fitness center on site. That would be a perk, but there are lots of places in the city where my Silver Sneakers membership will work.

As for walking, according to the Fitbit, I am over 2,250 miles at the moment. 

Finally, when we were talking about what to have for dinner tonight for Michelangelo, I suggested that for dessert we have cheesecake because it is National Cheesecake Day.

Tom said, "You're so gay, I can't believe it."

Really? I thought that was part of my charm.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's coming!

So as I was preparing to leave for the gym this morning and Tom was muttering about all the things we have to get done before the realtor comes by tomorrow to look at the house, I made the mistake of saying, "You just have to do one thing."

"What's that?" he frowned.

"The next right thing," I said smugly.

Then karma struck.

"The next right thing," he said ominously, "is to download Windows 10."

Is it July 29 already?

Cue the music from Jaws.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Everywhere and nowhere

My niece Kristin (sister of my niece Kirstin) commented on the post the other day about our impending move, "I always felt like you lived everywhere and no where at the same time (if that makes sense!)"

 It makes perfect sense to me. When I was in the monastery, we had three-year assignments. Because it was easier to move the younger friars from place to place, I moved a lot. When Kristin and Kirstin and their brother Justin were growing up in Texas, every time their Uncle Mike came to visit the family, he probably came from a different place than where he had come from the year or two before.

So here is the journey so far:

1950 -- Born in Georgia in May and moved to Texas in October
1950 -- 1953 -- Whitehouse, Texas
1953 -- 1968 -- Huntsville, Texas
1968 -- 1972 -- East Lansing, Michigan (attending Michigan State University)
1972 -- 1973 -- Monastery of Marylake, Little Rock, Arkansas
1974 -- (January -- August) -- Monastery of the Little Flower, San Antonio, Texas
(August) 1974 -- 1977 -- Mount Carmel Center, Dallas, Texas
1977 -- 1979 -- Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Washington, DC (attending    
                         Catholic University)
1979 -- 1981 -- Mount Carmel Center, Dallas, Texas
1981 -- 1984 -- Monastery of the Espousal, Brookline, Massachusetts
1984 -- 1985 -- St. Louis, Missouri (attending St. Louis University)
1985 -- 1993 -- Holy Hill, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1993 -- 1994 -- Barrington, Rhode Island (sabbatical studying at Brown University)
1994 -- 1998 -- Monastery of the Espousal, Brighton, Massachusetts (the Brookline
                         community had moved to a new location)
1998 -- 2006 -- Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois
     1998 -- 2004 -- Edith Stein House of Studies 
                              (Six months of 2003 in Silver Spring, Maryland)
     2004 -- 2006 -- My own apartment
2006 -- 2015 -- Wisconsin Dells/Town of Delton, Wisconsin

Throw in there three summers studying in Mexico City in the 1970s and a summer in Spain in 1978.

So I have lived here on Berry Road longer than I have lived anywhere except for the years growing up in Huntsville.

Whew! I should be used to moving by now.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Still not my circus: Basically an update of a post from 2014

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

The t-shirt is perfect for many reasons, among which is that I plan to wear it today when we go to the Circus Parade in Baraboo. This will be their third annual Big Top Parade, processing around the 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. He operates the calliope for the parade, and given the predicted temperature today of near 90 (32.2 C), he will be drenched by the time it is over. He will spend a couple of hours in an enclosed space with a steam engine. (As I say, Tom and I plan to attend the parade, but if the temperature is too beastly, we may opt out.)

The American Steam Calliope with Bernie hidden inside

Baraboo, about twelve miles from where we live, was the historic home of numerous circuses, including the world-renowned Ringling Bros. Circus. Today it is the home of Circus World Museum and the International Clown Hall of Fame.

The Ringling Bros. Circus was founded in Baraboo 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.

I am happy to report that after several years of declining attendance, Circus World has bounced back and is in the black financially. Apparently with the election campaigns already underway, people feel like going to the circus is the only adequate response.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tragedy in Lafayette

Another shooting tragedy in an American theater struck a little close to home today. Many times over the years, I visited the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Lafayette, Louisiana. In fact, yesterday, the day of the shooting, was the patronal feast of the monastery -- Mary, Mother of Grace.

In February of 1991, Fr. Steve Payne and I stopped overnight in Lafayette on our way to New Orleans, where we would be staying at a Dominican monastery. After dinner, we went to see the Robin Williams movie take-off on the Peter Pan story, "Hook." As I recall, we were practically the only people in the theater. Sadly, the theater this time was packed. The photos of the Grand Theater where last night's shooting took place certainly look like what I remember of where we watched Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman ham it up. I realize, of course, that twenty-four years have passed and that all such places look pretty much alike.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace! May all who suffer and grieve be comforted by the care of concern of those around them. 

May the violence that is too common in our midst come to an end.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Changes in the wind

After Tom's misadventure with the tick and anaplasmosis earlier this summer, we began to talk about the challenges of maintaining this property as we age. We have long thought that at some point we would need to move to a place where someone else will be responsible for yardwork and things of that sort. I mentioned this to a friend back in the spring, but said I expected the day was five years away. I underestimated. We have decided that now is the time to look into relocating to Madison.

We have begun telling the neighbors, letting them know that the large wooded lot next to the house is about to go on the market and that we will put the house itself up for sale in late winter. We are scouting out an apartment that will meet our needs -- meaning, the cats. Things look good in that regard, and the idea is at least to get our name on a list so that we can start moving stuff soon after the first of the year and prepare the house for sale.

This means lots of sacrifices, of course, but there will be gains as well. We look forward to being closer to all that Madison has to offer. It shows up all the time on those Ten Best Places lists, and we will take advantage of that while we are both still able to do so. We will miss the beauty and spaciousness of our home and property here in the Dells, our neighbors and friends, Tom's involvement with the little railroad and mine with the library. But "Life moves on" and "Life on life's terms" as they say.

Now every time I go for a walk, I look at the beans and corn in the fields and the trees and wildflowers and weeds a little differently. I notice the hundreds of trees Tom planted on the property since we moved here nine years ago, planning ahead to replace the toppling poplars that abound. I walk down the paths that he has been clearing in the woods this past year, making lovely places to stroll in privacy. I see all those rocks he dug out of the ground and placed around the flower beds and along the drive. I see all the lilies and other flowers that he has nurtured to make the place what it is, including the little garden anchored by the hydrangea given to me in memory of my father. Tom was working on that when the tick bite knocked him down, but he is back at it. He wants to complete that project, even as we plan to leave it behind.

When I come back inside, I see the furniture he built: the desk and bookcase in  my bedroom, designed around my suggestions; my basement office with the large two-level working space; his own office with the window seat he built for the cats; the entertainment centers upstairs and down; the buffet that separates the dining area and the library; bookcases everywhere; the very beds in the three bedrooms.  These are all works of his hands that we will most likely not be able to take with us.

Yes, there will be sacrifices. And don't get me started on the people ...

In one of the prayers used in Catholic Masses for the dead, there is a line I always liked: "Life is changed, not ended." in context, it refers to faith and hope in the resurrection. I find it applies to many other situations in life when I have left something behind. My life changes, it doesn't end. That will be true this time, too.

I mention this because at some point between now and next spring, it will probably affect how regularly I post on this blog. It is not like things will be hectic on a daily basis, but a lot will be happening. If I disappear for a while -- there is little danger I will stop talking or writing completely! -- just check back from time to time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Health review

I had my annual physical exam last week and have completed all but one of the lab tests. So far the results have all been excellent, and I assume the one I have tomorrow morning -- an ultrasound for abdominal aortal aneurysm -- will go well, too. This is something that is done for my first examination following Medicare eligibility, because of my age and because for a couple of years four decades ago, I smoked. 

Tom's annual checkup is coming early next month and his doctor -- we see the same one -- is having him go in for labs before then so that she can review the results with him at the time of the checkup.

We are hoping none of this is going to lead to a never-ending series of visits to specialists, but one never knows.  

I got an emailed survey from the clinic today to evaluate my experience with the provider. Tom and I have both been very satisfied with the care we receive from the doctors and nurses there. The niggling little annoyances are not with them but with the way the health care/insurance industry operates in this country. 

But that is a topic for another post, and I will try not to write it because it would just be venting about things you already know from your own experience.

I hope your own health -- physical, mental, spiritual, whatever -- is good and glowing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ratcatchers Day

Okay, here's one that really should be on Damien's blog ...

Ratcatcher's Day, Rat-catcher's Day or Rat Catcher's Day is celebrated on June 26 or July 22, commemorating the myth of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. According to legend, as you know, the piper charmed away the rats and mice that had overrun the town of Hamelin, and when the town refused to pay his fee, he charmed away their children in revenge. Today the people of Hamelin in Germany remember the story on the June date. The confusion of dates is because the Brothers Grimm cite June 26, 1284 as the date the Pied Piper led the children out of the town, while the poem by Robert Browning gives it as July 22, 1376. Today it is a holiday remembering rat-catchers.

The giant Glockenspiel pictured above is located in a Bavarian-motif square off the main street in Wisconsin Dells. Periodically it re-enacts the Pied Piper legend with figures popping out of doors in the manner of an over-sized cuckoo clock.
the giant Glockenspiel with a musical re-enactment of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin every half-hour, on the hour. The legend goes that the Pied Piper rid the town of Hamelin of its rats and mice by charming them away with his flute playing. When the citizens of Hamelin refused to pay the piper the price they had agreed upon, he charmed away their children in revenge. The German Glockenspiel with its fairy tale re-enactment is FREE. - See more at:
the giant Glockenspiel with a musical re-enactment of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin every half-hour, on the hour. The legend goes that the Pied Piper rid the town of Hamelin of its rats and mice by charming them away with his flute playing. When the citizens of Hamelin refused to pay the piper the price they had agreed upon, he charmed away their children in revenge. The German Glockenspiel with its fairy tale re-enactment is FREE. - See more at:
the giant Glockenspiel with a musical re-enactment of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin every half-hour, on the hour. The legend goes that the Pied Piper rid the town of Hamelin of its rats and mice by charming them away with his flute playing. When the citizens of Hamelin refused to pay the piper the price they had agreed upon, he charmed away their children in revenge. The German Glockenspiel with its fairy tale re-enactment is FREE. - See more at:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Linguistic hypercorrection

In linguistics or usage, hypercorrection is a non-standard usage that results from the over-application of a perceived rule of grammar or a usage prescription. 

A speaker or writer who produces a hypercorrection generally believes that the form is correct through misunderstanding of these rules, often combined with a desire to appear formal or educated. 

Linguistic hypercorrection occurs when a real or imagined grammatical rule is applied in an inappropriate context, so that an attempt to be "correct" leads to an incorrect result.

A familiar example is when a person says, "It seems to my friend and I that such and such." The correct form is "my friend and me" because friend and me are objects of the preposition to. It may sound too casual, but it is correct. The way to check is that you would say "It seems to me" and not "It seems to I." This sort of hypercorrect (and erroneous) construction is so common among television reporters that the wrong version has begun to sound correct to us because we hear it so much.

Why, you may well ask yourself, is Michael burdening me with this bit of language esoterica?

Well, it is because I doubt not that I am guilty of hypercorrection myself, but I mention it today because I was a victim in a way.

A friend called to talk to Tom, who was outside mowing. When I offered to get him, the friend said he would call back later. Then he asked how I was.

"I'm fine," I said, brightly.

"Fine!" he snorted. No, seriously, he actually snorted. "That is the lamest, weakest, most non-descriptive word there is! Do you know what fine -- f-i-n-e -- means?"

Knowing him to be a member of a group that is big on "inspirational" acronyms, I cringed inwardly and said, "I imagine it means 'f---d something or other.'"

"Yes! It means 'F---d up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.'"

"Well," I responded politely, '"that could be me."

Then I told him that the reason I said I was fine instead of  good is that my mother has her own Biblical version of linguistic hypercorrection.

When I call her every afternoon, I usually start out by asking how she is.

"I'm okay," she says, sometimes going on to explain that she won't say she is good because in Matthew 19:17 Jesus says, "Only One is good." 

Hypercorrection. Not really the point. Fine, in fact, does not mean whatever little acronym you choose and apply arbitrarily to the speech of people who are not speaking your group's inner code.

 And if we want to become too literal about Jesus and speech, what are we to make of this admonition in the Sermon on the Mount: "All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37) 

And don't go saying that in the Gospel story, context makes it obvious that Jesus is not saying we should only say yes and no and nothing else ever. This is true, of course, but it is also true that the context of the other verse makes it obvious that Jesus is not saying we must reserve the adjective good only for the Supreme Being. In Matthew 5:45, Jesus says that God makes the sun shine on the good and the bad. So he uses it himself for ordinary people.

And now, no doubt, I have hypercorrected my friend and my mother. How tacky is that?

Predict weather by observing your cat

My niece Kirstin sent me this and I thought those of you with cats would understand. Cassidy has this system down perfectly.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday outing

We had a beautiful day for the drive to and from Prairie du Chien. We took the southern route down, much of it along the Wisconsin River. On the way back, we traveled north through the Driftless Region, a part of the state unscraped by glaciers and so with high hills and green valleys, and another river, the extrememly winding Kickapoo. The morning trip brought us alongside a dozen or so Amish families in their buggies on the way to services. One young man was riding what looked like an over-sized tricycle, dragging behind a cart in which his three-year-old son sat happily. I only saw one Amish guy on the return trip, but we saw a couple of eagles flying overhead and that is always nice.

The tour at Villa Louis was enjoyable. Being in an old mansion always reminds me of my years living in the monastery in Brookline. It had originally been part of the Cabot estate, and elements of the Dousman Mansion echoed things in that Boston house. Sadly, the man who bought the house from the Carmelites with the intention of restoring it, decided it would be too costly and had it torn down, even though it was on state and national registers of historic homes. Members of the Dousman family cooperated with the restoration of the Villa Louis estate, and 90% of the things now on display are original to the house.

The War of 1812 re-enactment was small -- well, the 1815 battle there was small -- but the people were very friendly and we had several fun conversations. There was a musket-readiness contest that we watched with the wife of one of the participants. The idea was to keep loading and firing your musket without cleaning it until it finally refused to fire. The winner (not our friend's husband) set a new record for the group of 50 shots before a misfire.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wet weekend and war delayed

About four this morning, a strong thunderstorm rolled through. We sustained no damage, but the winds were high, the thunder was constant and it rained for a while. Then the storms passed on to the east, but the weather people say there will be another band moving through late in the afternoon. Meanwhile it will be hot (high of 91 -- 32.8 C) and humid. Sounds like fun, huh?

One of the historic sites we are visiting this year is Villa Louis, also known as the Dousman Manison, a nineteenth-century estate in Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi River. It happens to be on the site of the only battle of the War of 1812 fought in what is now Wisconsin. The settlement that was there had been established by French traders, but it had become part of the United States. Settlement had not really opened up for Americans from the east, but a fort was built in 1814 to prevent an invasion from the north. Must not have been all that great a fort, because British and Canadian troops captured Fort Shelby in July of that year. They remained in control of the area until the end of the war in 1815, at which time they destroyed the fort before withdrawing. The Americans, fearing another invasion, built Fort Crawford nearby.

This weekend there is a re-enactment/encampment going on there, and we are making our visit to Villa Louis in order to see the restored home and to see a bit of the re-enactment. Fortunately, this goes on all weekend and the weather tomorrow promises to be much cooler and pleasant. So we will drive down there in the morning and see what we shall see. We have driven that way before, and southwestern Wisconsin is lovely terrain. So the trip will be enjoyable, too. 

Today will be mostly a day of rest inside where it is cooler!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Carmelite community around the world -- priests, brothers, nuns, sisters, laity -- celebrate their patronal feast today. This image is of a stained glass window in the sanctuary of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Denmark, Wisconsin. It represents Mary, hands raised in awe-filled praise, in the guise of the burning bush in which Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai. The mandala at the center shows Jesus, her son. The idea is that although Mary is not herself divine, just as the bush on Sinai was not divine, nonetheless the divine presence manifested itself in and through her in a unique way. She is honored for that, though not worshiped as is her son. 

The Carmelites have a strong Old Testament strain in their spirituality,  as well as an Eastern Christian one. Here those threads come together in a reminder that the Utterly Transcendent can find expression through the ordinary things and people that surround us, if we but have the vision to look deep.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Morning stroll

I had an early dental appointment to get the crown put on my tooth. That went well and painlessly, and when I got home I took a walk while it was sunny, cool and quiet. It turned out to be a bit like being in a Disney flick.

Across from us by Jerry's bean field, a groundhog was standing at attention near the side of the road. It stood unblinking as I walked by and I turned around and went for a closer look. I  called to it and got no reaction, and for a split second I thought it might be a child's stuffed animal. Then something clicked in its head, it looked at me and shot off -- well, insofar as one can say a groundhog shoots off -- into the tall grass and disappeared among the beans.

As I walked past the Dorn place, I noticed lots of bluebirds flying in and out of the trees ahead. We see lots of bluebirds, but this was the most I have ever seen at one time. They flew from tree to tree, staying ahead of me, like they were leading the way. At one point an oriole joined the flight.

There is a house for sale on the road, and sitting in the driveway, as calm and unconcerned as the groundhog had been, was a rabbit. I expected it to run away when I walked by, but it stayed in place. Unlike the groundhog, it appeared to notice me but saw no reason to hop away.

Jerry's beans seem to be doing well, as does the corn in the field beyond his house. His cows ignored me, but the calves were interested for a moment before going back to their milk.

 Lots of wildflowers to notice today,  too. The wild lavender bee balm is still flourishing, and there were little purple blooms and tufty grasses that I did not recall from years past. I am sure they were there, but I had not noticed them. Wild asters,  prairie spiderwort, black-eyed Susans.
Along the sidewalk, the purple cone flowers and gayfeathers are now blooming. The Asian lilies, both versions, are still bright and colorful, but they are starting to show some wear and tear. The day lilies continue apace, as does the red bee balm, looking for all the world like Dr. Seuss designed it. The roadside black-eyed Susans have been covering the slopes along Highway 12 for a couple of weeks, and our domestic versions are starting to bloom now. 

And now to work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Detachment is a big thing in the Carmelite spiritual tradition, one of the things most noteworthy in the teachings of John of the Cross. During my thirty years in the monastery, I tried to learn how to practice it in a healthy manner. I think of myself as a caring person, but one who is detached in the sense Ali ibn Abi Talib means. Or in the sense found in the prayer of Ignatius Loyola: "Teach me to care and not to care." Think about it.

Anyway, as I am going through my boxes and files and tossing things, I am aware of how the roots of detachment can go deep. I won't mention all the things I threw out this morning, but I was surprised at how often I felt an internal tug to keep something that I knew I no longer needed, that I would never use, that I need not lug around any longer. I have a near-eidetic memory. There is plenty stored up there behind my eyes and between my ears. I don't need scraps of paper tucked away in a cluttered closet to remember people, places, times and things that have been important in my life.

John of the Cross says that it does not matter if a bird is tied to the ground by the thinnest of threads or a heavy chain. Until the tie is broken, the bird cannot fly. 
In case Ali ibn Abi Talib is not familiar to you, he was the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, ruling over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661. Ali was also the first young male who accepted Islam.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Small tasks

Today I completed preparing the National Novel Writing Month material for the library director, printed out copies and then put it all on a memory stick. She was not in her office today, but I dropped it off and explained things to Charles. Putting it on the stick makes it easier for her to edit and then insert into the newsletter or flyers as she sees fit.

Then I went by the bank because it is time to change my password for online banking. This was a slight nuisance, but they require it every few months for security reasons. After our friend's identity theft incident over the weekend, I am happy to take extra precautions.

Tom inspired me to start cleaning out boxes and files. I have gone through several small boxes, and my goal is to clean out one file box a week and toss stuff. That way I will add only one extra bag for the weekly garbage pickup.

Small tasks, but they add up.  I can't say I am doing them as if they were great and noble, but at least I am doing them.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

2015 and the livin' is lazy

My wonderful cousin Rusty sends me a copy of the column he writes for his local newspaper every week. I guess it falls under "observational humor with an East Texas accent."

Anyway, the one I just read is about how fat we have become because we basically don't have to do anything. After mentioning all sorts of modern conveniences that were not around when he and I were young and dinosaurs roamed the earth, he says this:
They have faucets that turn themselves on when you put your hands under them.  They have paper towel dispensers that give you a towel when you wave your hand in front of it.  They even have commodes that flush themselves.  Heck, I’ve gotten off of a trip where I’ve spent too much time in airport bathrooms, and when I get home I put my hands under the faucet and have waited, wonderin’ where the water was.
This struck me because it recalled something I did a few years ago after the expansion of the library where I worked. Among the many niceties in the new arrangement were lights that turned themselves on and off. In some rooms, they didn't come on immediately, but we all learned to wave our arms in the air to activate the mechanism.

After a few months of this, I went into the bathroom at church. It was dark and I waved my arms in the air and waited. Nothing happened. It took me a moment to realize that I had to flip the switch.

A quick request

Someone I know only through the blogosphere finds himself in a situation similar to mine ten years ago, trying to sort out his future in the ministry that has been his life up to now. He has much to ponder. Just send a prayer or a thought or a wish for his discernment, that he find the strength, courage and wisdom he needs to move forward.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Art Fair on the Square

This morning Tom and I went to Madison for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's 57th annual Art Fair on the Square. The fair is on the four streets surrounding the Capitol, but another fair called the Art Fair Off the Square extends a few blocks down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. A fun mix of music, entertainment, and outdoor dining, with more than 600 artists exhibiting paintings, prints, photographs, sculpture, jewelry, handmade clothing and accessories, and fine craft, the fair draws nearly 200,000 visitors to Madison's Capitol Square. 

There are beautiful things there, pretty pricey on the whole. I am always amazed that there is apparently a market for huge works of art that go for many thousands of dollars. There were plenty of smaller things, too, of course. We did not plan to purchase anything, our house being already well-supplied with original art.

The streets weren't too bad when we arrived not long after the Fair opened, but by the time we had worked our way halfway around the Square, it was getting crowded. We had gone early because the weather forecast for the afternoon was discouraging -- hot, humid, chance of thunderstorms. 

When we got home, Tom got back to work on the identity-theft victim's computer. I got to work answering emails and doing some writing of my own. So far (it is almost three in the afternoon as I write this), no rain or storms.