Monday, February 29, 2016


Today one of my great-nieces celebrates her first birthday anniversary. She will be four years old, born on February 29, 2012. 

Her older sister was born on February 13, 2009. Which happened to be Friday the Thirteenth.

Her father was born on April 1, April Fool's Day.

Her mother, to break the pattern, was born on July 16. That may seem like just an ordinary day to you -- and it doesn't have the pizzazz of Leap Day, Friday the Thirteenth or April Fool's -- but it is the Solemn Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the principal feast of the Carmelite Order to which I belonged for three decades.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saintly forebear

It seems I am somewhat distantly related to St. Arnulf (also St. Arnold), patron saint of brewers. I think he was my 44th (?) great-grandfather, a bishop of Metz, one who happened to have been married and had issue -- through whom Charlemagne eventually came along and so on, down through various DeBlois, DeVenable and Venable ancestors to a Wood and through the Woods to Great-Grandfather James Dodd we go.

At any rate, one of the legends about St. Arnulf/Arnold has to do with the transfer of his bones from an abbey where he was buried back to his former cathedral. 
It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop. They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims' thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.
I do not believe I had ever heard of, much less tasted, Houston's Saint Arnold Beer. The microbrewery was founded in 1994. These days I drink neither beer nor liquor nor even wine for my stomach's sake, choosing to be guided by my doctors more than by St. Paul and the advertising industry. But I am amused to learn that if I am related to a holy man, it was one who thought his people should enjoy a good beer!

There is another St. Arnold, this one "of Soissons" who is also patron of brewers. The same legend, alas, is told of him as well. Nonetheless, the Arnold of the microbrewery in the Lone Star State is my alleged ancestor.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

iPhone, myPhone, yourPhone, ourPhone

Ron, whose blog I read, recently wrote about the wrenching decision to get rid of their land line. He seems to be surviving quite well. When we still lived in Delton, I suggested several times that we drop the land line, especially when it was no longer tied to our television or our internet provider. Instead, Tom chose to move the land line to the folks who provided the other services. (I pay the bills -- well, I write the checks -- and you don't want to hear how much that "money-saving" idea actually cost us once they had talked Tom into upgrading all over the place.)

When we moved to the apartment, Tom still wanted to have a land line and so we do. It is part of a bundle from another provider and costs us significantly less than the previous one. So I guess I can't complain. Since you know me, you also know it will not stop me from complaining.

I thought we could do without the land line because we both have cell phones. I guess they are "dumb phones" because they are just, you know, phones: old clamshell types that are totes retro, but not because we are trendy. We got them to have on hand in case of emergency, living as we did out in the beyond a bit. They are pretty much nothing but phones and we pay for minimal service, no bells and whistles, no internet, no apps. Just a phone to call someone if necessary when the car breaks down and such. If you call the cell phone, you get a message telling you not to leave a message because we don't check messages there. You are redirected to the land line where you can leave a message in case no one answers.

 Whenever talk arises about getting a smart phone (not necessarily an iPhone, because we both have issues with Apple in general), Tom goes into his "why would anyone want one of those things?" routine and I turn my attention to the cats. I have found that offering any answers to his objections does no good. I wind up feeling like Raj on The Big Bang Theory when he was discussing with Sheldon how Superman cleans his outfit when it gets dirty. After making no headway against Sheldon's stubborn insistence that it was not a problem, Raj declared:

In case you can't read that fuzzy print: "You can't have a rational argument with this man."

So for now I will continue to type "Sent from my iPhone."


Friday, February 26, 2016

Flash from the past

I can remember wondering as a child what it would be like to grow up in a place like Great Britain or Spain, a country that had once led the world in military, cultural and economic might. What would it be like to live in a country that was no longer what it had been?

Sadly, I need no longer wonder.

Oh, we still have the most powerful weapons systems in the world, but that doesn't seem to matter in winning the kind of wars we have gotten bogged down in lately. Our economy, while strong, is hardly the envy of every other nation, many of whom have far better social services like health care and education for all their citizens. Our political process has become a mishmash of media circuses and religious bullying on all sides. We appear to be falling behind in science and technology as government funding declines for anything that is not directly applicable to the military and as corporate funding for research slows. The gap between the rich and the poor -- for that matter, between the rich and the middle -- grows daily. Congress has not only slowed itself to a standstill, it is determined to block judicial nominees even to the highest court in the land solely for uncertain political gain. A country that once prided itself on providing equal rights to all its citizens now has presidential aspirants proclaiming the need to once again deprive same sex couples of the right to marriage that they have already been granted. Every month another entire nation grants civil recognition of same sex unions in some form, if not marriage itself, while powerful American politicians -- and in some cases, entire states -- fight to push the faggots back down. The most popular candidate for one party's nomination to the highest office in the land thinks that building a wall to keep people out is the way to make America great again. Culturally we arrived some time ago at the age of pseudo-reality television and exploitation of human cupidity and stupidity, and now a lot of us want to crown a representative of that exploitation lord of the land.

A significant part of the world despises us, another chunk looks on us with saddened nostalgia for what we were. Our enemies laugh. No doubt some of our friends weep.

We plunge on ahead, thinking we are leading the charge, when in fact the charge has left us behind. We are plunging in the wrong direction.

I still remember very clearly one of those childhood ponderings as I rode a bike down the dirt road on which we lived. That America would always be the proud land of freedom and of integrity seemed inevitable.

How wrong I was.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

From an unfinished collection of short stories

Among my unfinished writing projects is Penultimate, Wisconsin, short stories or tales about a small community on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border.

Here is one of them:

Dearest Wish

            “Ha! No fortune!”
            The woman in the adjoining booth laughed at the wide-eyed gape of her husband holding the shattered remnants of an empty fortune cookie.
            From the looks of the equally empty crab leg remnants piled on the plates before them, they had done themselves proud by the Paper Moon Chinese Buffet’s all-you-can-eat seafood counter.
            “You just finish your rice,” her husband said, pointing at her plate as he rose to head for the soft-serve machine. He may have had no fortune, but a bowl of imitation ice cream with imitation chocolate syrup was a consolation near to hand.
            Kyle looked down at his own bill and the plastic-wrapped fold of pastry on top of it.
            Even though no one takes fortune cookies seriously, he thought, it is a little disconcerting to get an empty one.
            He picked up the plastic wrapper and tugged at it. No give. He put a corner between his teeth and pulled. No luck. Re-positioned it and tried again. Still no luck.
            He turned it over and over in his hand until he found where the plastic sheet folded together and finally managed to rip it apart.
            The cookie broke neatly into halves in his hands, cradling a sliver of paper marked with red ink. Kyle pulled it out, popped half the cookie into his mouth and unfolded the paper.
            Your dearest wish will come true.
            “That’s nice.” He crumpled the paper into a pellet and dropped it onto the plastic tray with the remaining half of the cookie. He glanced at the bill and left four quarters for the tip.
            Your dearest wish will come true.
            The opposite of no fortune.
            What is my dearest wish? he mused as he climbed into the car and turned the ignition. You would think a person would know what his dearest wish is. Money. Fame. Beauty. Health. Love.
            “Maybe I want too many things to decide which is dearest,” he said aloud as he turned onto the county road leading out of town.
            Several years before Kyle had been stunned when someone asked him what he wanted. Stunned because he had no idea.
            I must want something, he had thought at the time, but nothing came to mind. He realized that all his life when asked that question, his answer had invariably been, “What do you want?” What the other person wanted – mother, father, sister, teacher, coach, preacher, girlfriend – that was what Kyle said he wanted.
            “I guess what I want is no hassle,” he told himself. “A pretty sad wish -- a wish for not-something.”
            Even now, driving through the autumn color-change on the hills, even now at fifty-seven years of age, even now – dearest wish?
            “What is my dearest wish?”
            To rest. To be free to do nothing. Or something. To have no obligations. To be totally self-centered. To do things until I find the thing that I want to do. And then to keep doing it.
            “My dearest wish? To know my dearest wish.”
            Kyle turned into the rocky drive and parked the car. The frost that had brought color to the trees had blackened the tomato vines. He walked over to look and saw a handful of green tomatoes that would never ripen, a couple of red ones that were rotting on the vine. He tugged and twisted to free the hard green fruit and thought, That’s me. Dying on the vine.
            Your dearest wish will come true.
            Sighing he took his burden into the house.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cat prayers

I talked to the vet this morning and she is ordering some anti-anxiety meds for Sundance. Nothing we have tried thus far has had any lasting effect. We have tried all of the over-the-counter options and tried what the vet has suggested: bought extra lights to put around the apartment so that she has more light at night (in case part of the problem is failing eyesight), changed the time of day we give her the thyroid meds, fed her right before bedtime, bought her a toy to try to tire her out playing (she slapped at it twice and walked away), tried ignoring her when she tries to get me up -- pretty much like trying to ignore an alarm clock that doesn't have a snooze button -- and so on. Nothing works.
There is a funny list of things people have tried in order to stop drinking. My favorite part of the list is: "Taking a trip. Not taking a trip." This feels like "Feeding the cat. Not feeding the cat."
The last couple of nights, she woke me up almost every hour, vocalizing (a much nicer veterinarian term than the one I would use myself), walking across me in the bed and (last night) pushing things off the tables and shelves in the bedroom. Yesterday when I went to the gym, Tom said she was almost frantic for the hour or so I was gone. She lies on top of Tom all the time, and I don't know where this new obsession with me came from. She follows me into the bathroom and then back out. 

I did some research on feline dementia, and she displays a number -- not all -- of the symptoms. "Night time abandonment issues" is among the symptoms, perhaps exacerbated by the move, but that was two months ago. And we have made a point of not both being gone for more than an hour or so at a time. And we are always here at night. She starts the night sleeping with Tom but then leaves his room and comes into mine to start her routine.

Here's hoping that this new prescription will help. It won't arrive until Thursday or Friday and will take a few days to have any effect. Worse comes to worst, I will check into a motel in order to get a decent night's sleep a couple of times while we wait for it to start working. Tom sleeps the sleep of the (un)just and she leaves him alone. So he will manage. 

Unless my absence at night throws her into another dither.

Seriously. Love the cats but I am not a happy camper after several weeks of nightly disrupted sleep.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Blocking the writer

I saw that an informal writers' group meets at the senior center nearby on Monday mornings, and I have been meaning to give it a try. Today the stars all converged and I went over. The center itself is a large place with lots of things going on. When I asked about the writers' group, a staff member volunteered to take me to where it met on the opposite side of the building. She mentioned on the way that she didn't know if anyone would show up. She showed me the board room, which was empty. A long table and a dozen empty chairs around it. The meeting was not scheduled to begin for a few minutes and she muttered something about "if anyone shows up" and left me to wait.

I wandered around the large room outside, looked at the community services literature available, noticed that South Central Library brings books by every couple of weeks the way the bookmobile did for the nursing homes in the Dells, looked at a puzzle that had already been completed and studied the lunch menus for the week. 

No one ever showed up.

I will give it a try once or twice more and then let it go. My first impulse was to go to the office and offer to try to get something going. But I would like to not-be-the-person-in-charge of things for a while. If I want to volunteer to run a writers' group of any sort, I can talk to the people at the library and see about doing a National Novel Writing Month project in November. The Madison libraries have a lot of NaNoWriMo things going on. If Sun Prairie doesn't have its own, I can offer to be the volunteer coordinator like I was in the Dells last year.

We'll see. By fall, I may have lots of other things on my plate.

Phi Beta Kappa follow-up

From an article in the New York Times, May 26, 1996:

 Time was that men hung the golden key of Phi Beta Kappa from watch chains, and membership in the society was noted at every milestone of life: in marriage announcements, promotion notices, obituaries. But today's top college students are turning down Phi Beta Kappa in large numbers. 

Some of the chosen don't join because they've never heard of the organization; others are confused by a profusion of honor societies, or see them as anachronisms that are not worth the $30 to $50 membership fees. The upshot is that Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's most prestigious honor society, has an image problem. 

I don't think anybody is going to hire or fire me because I belong to Phi Beta whatever," said Brian D. Bosch, who graduated last week from the University of Connecticut.
Mr. Bosch received an invitation in early April to join Phi Beta Kappa, but he turned it down. The UConn chapter elected 143 juniors and seniors this spring, but 65 of them -- 45 percent -- did not join. 

Another student who turned down the society, Joseph T. Bafumi, said: "They're basically resume-builders. You get nothing out of it and you really don't put anything into it." 

And, said Laura M. Harris, who was invited as a junior but did not accept: "I've joined several other honor societies that seem better known. I don't know if this one is well known or not." 

Phi Beta Kappa is both the oldest and the most exclusive honor society in the country. Only 10 percent of colleges have chapters, and just over 1 percent of college seniors are elected each year. 

To be elected, a student must have more than a high grade average. Chapter members review the academic records of the top 10 percent of the class, to insure that most credits are earned in the liberal arts and sciences, in a broad array of subjects, and at an advanced level. The student must also take language and math classes, even if the college does not require them. 

Nationwide, 85 percent of students who are elected choose to join Phi Beta Kappa. At small liberal arts colleges and at private universities, it is still virtually unheard of for a student to turn down the society. 
Maybe I was ahead of my time?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lest we take ourselves too seriously ... Deuxième partie

Shortly after entering the monastery in 1972, I got a phone call notifying me that I had been named to Phi Beta Kappa. I was quite proud and announced the fact to the community when we were all at dinner.

Not a single person there had any idea what Phi Beta Kappa was.

I had a joke worked out about hanging the famous key on my side rosary when I got the habit, but there was no point in using the joke. I never forked over the bucks for the key, either, what with being in a monastery and all.

Lest we take ourselves too seriously ...

Okay, I know it's Lent for a lot of people and that am supposed to be spending time pondering eternal verities, but sometimes we just have to  lighten up. 
And technically, Sundays during Lent are not days of penance. Or as a devout young Catholic girl once told me, "Sunday is when you do what you gave up."
In that spirit, I offer for your amusement this website: Ship Your Enemies Glitter.

This is not an endorsement. I have never used their services and cannot vouch for anything about them. It is allegedly a company happy to do your pranking for you and the victim need never know who is responsible -- although a note explaining why they are getting pranked can be included in the shipment. And they say they will ship their glitter and other offerings anywhere in the world.

They also offer to ship bacon to people you like. 

Believe it or don't. But I warn you, I am having Tom open my mail from now until Easter at least.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Drivers, start your engines!

Joey Logano wins Daytona 500 2015 

Well, the NASCAR season is upon us and that means I am the occasional NASCAR widower. Tom is a big fan -- there's no accounting for these things -- and in particular of Joey Logano. He has been carefully watching and/or recording all the preliminaries this week in preparation for the big races this weekend. (Yes, there is more than one race. LIke Texan Sheldon Cooper and football, despite myself I know about these things and also about how to fry meat that isn't chicken as if it were chicken. I cannot, however, take you outside after the race and show you how to shoot so close to a raccoon that he will crap himself.) 

On the bright side, now that we live in Madison, it will be possible for us, should we in Mr. Phelps-ian fashion choose to do so, to go somewhere and do something and still give Tom time to make it home to watch the race. Also on the bright side, now that he can record everything, it won't matter if he misses the beginning. He typically watches the first laps and then wanders away only to return to watch the last ones.

Most weekends until November I will have some time on my hands to do other things: walk, ponder, write, snooze, pamper cats. 

And yes, after Danica Patrick started racing with the guys, they changed it from "Gentlemen, start your engines." One year James Franco announced, "Gentlemen and Danica, start your engines."

I can't help it. Now I know these things. If only I could remember where I put my keys ...

PS -- Today is also, for those in the Northern Hemisphere, Hoodie-Hoo Day. Look it up before noon so that you can participate. (Since Damien no longer keeps his blog, I thought I should mention this.) 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Oh, the days of youth ...

Rusty Mitchum, Rex Dodd, Ted Dodd

My cousin Rusty, whom I have mentioned before because he is a great humor writer, posted this photo on Facebook. He says it was taken at a cousin's wedding in 1968. Rusty is a double cousin -- his mother was one of my father's sisters, and she married one of my mother's brothers. Rex is the son of my father's brother who lived about a mile up the road from us, and he and his sister were the cousins we saw all the time growing up. Ted is my own brother. He would have been 15 (going on 16, I think) at the time of that wedding. Rusty would have been about fourteen and Rex thirteen.[Okay, I'm estimating here.]

Anyway, it's a great photo, don't you think? We were all so darned cute back then!

Who knew?

Defective fiction

I am listening to a series of lectures on detective fiction, its origins, development and subgenres. (If subgenre, to paraphrase Bertie Wooster, is the word I am looking for.) One thing mentioned in passing was that at the time the lectures were given a couple of years ago, more than a quarter of all the new works being published in English were detective fiction.

Other sources say the highest money-making genre in America (not the same as highest number of books, of course) is romance/erotica. (I assume they are not factoring in outright pornography, which would throw all statistical bets off.) This is followed by crime/mystery -- not necessarily the same thing as what the lecturer meant by detective fiction, within the meaning of the act, as literate British sleuths say -- much of which seems to be the output of a big-name established author with a supporting cast of co-authors (who do most of the nitty gritty these days, one suspects) running essentially the adult (not in the meaning of that act) equivalent of the old Hardy-Boy/Nancy-Drew book mills. This beats out religious/inspirational -- whose numbers are inflated by including the Bible, clearly not a recent work, and which everyone is expected to own but not to read too closely, -- followed by sci-fi/fantasy and (as a distinguishable genre though with shadings into all of the above) horror.

This caught my interest because of the question of what book idea I might pick up after Except for His Wings (which falls not too neatly into any of the above best-selling genres) and Wacky in WhoVille (which I will claim is a mystery, although a friend told me, if there is no murder, it's not a real mystery.)

My unfinished -- perhaps unfinishable -- second John of the Cross novel, Death on the Way of Perfection, is clearcut -- historical, religious mystery including multiple murders, red herrings, amateur sleuths and even, although no one supposedly ever expects it, the Spanish Inquisition. Maybe with the occasional bit of inspiration drifting through. No romance. Not within the meaning of the act, anyway, although there is some illicit but relatively harmless flirtation that plays a role in what happens. (There is a hint of romance/very-tame-erotica in Wacky. Not enough to market, however. Maybe PG-13?)

Not a topic for Lenten reflection, perhaps, but suitable for authorial ponderings. 

I have thought at times about putting together a slim volume of the best bits from the blog. That might fall into several categories, not romance perhaps or erotica, but occasionally inspirational, fantasy and horror. Perhaps even all at once!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday touching base

1) We voted this morning, the only thing on the ballot being a state supreme court justice race. Our polling place is inside the chapel at the ginormous Lutheran senior apartment complex across the street. The people were all very nice and it took no time at all. Polls had opened at seven and we voted a little after eight. Mine was the fifth vote cast. Turnout, needless to say, is not expected to be high in this election.

2) After voting, I did twelve minutes on the elliptical and then an hour on the treadmill. I feel pleasantly exhausted. Part of the exhaustion, however, is no doubt due to the fact that Sundance kept me up pretty much all night. Nothing we try seems to help her for long. She will be okay for a night or two and then we are back to square one. Our next move is to try anxiety medication. For her first, and then if necessary, for me! Or maybe the other way around.

3) There is a light snow falling, supposed to end by sundown with little accumulation. The good news is that temperatures will rise to the low 50's [10 - 12 C] Friday and Saturday. 

4) Yesterday I read over what I had written of Wacky in WhoVille and made some minor corrections and editorial revisions. The rest of the story is laid out in some detail, and I hope I will have it completed before too long. In the meantime, I am waiting for Tom to get inspired for the cover for Except for His Wings. If inspiration lags too long, I will resort to nagging.

5) After lunch, if I don't collapse into a deep nap, I may run a few errands. I need to return a book to the library and pick up one that I had ordered and that should arrive today. I also want to set up my personal checking account at the new bank and pick up a few items at the supermarket.

Hope you are all well. Just wanted to touch base and let you know I am alive and still kicking.

Reflectively, of course.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's snowing!

It is about 15 degrees right now, heading up to 18. [So -9.4 C going to -7.78 C.]

Looks like we will get one to three inches of the cold, white and fluffy. [2.54 cm  to 7.62 cm]

Hope you are keeping yourself and someone else warm!


I don't like election years (and the unending nominating process that fills the intervening years) because I get agitated and annoyed listening to the things said and the manner in which they are said and the whole strident shebang. 

When I step back from my agitation and observe what is going on inside, I discover that agitation and anger are the surface, but underneath them lies fear. I am afraid of what will happen if __________ is elected president/governor/senator. 
This despite the fact that experience has shown me that no matter who is elected, things get better and then get worse and then get better and then get worse and then stay steady for a short time and then ...
I wish I could say that my fear is for the country/state, and that is part of it. But I realize that underneath the fear of what will happen to the country is fear about what might happen to me.

And so I work my way back to the source of all (most) of my distress -- self. 

I once told a spiritual director that I feared losing control, that I feared that I would go to extremes

There may be a bit of truth in that.

But the bottom line is that I fear being out of control of everything. I want, as has been said better elsewhere, to be the playwright, the director, the casting agent, the scene designer and lighting crew. 

Everything would be perfect if people would just do what I want them to do. When I want them to do it. Where I want them to do it. And how I want them to do it.

Is it too much to ask?

But of course, I have no control over the lighting, the scenery, the cast or anything much else. I have only some control over myself. (Have I come full circle?)

I used to say, when I worked at the little railroad, that the only problem with that place was that there were too many control freaks who refused to do what I wanted.

πάντα ῥεῖ, said Heraclitus, "Everything flows."

"Impermanent, subject to change, are component things. Strive on with heedfulness!" This was the final admonition of the Buddha to his disciples. 

"All things are passing", St. Teresa wrote on a bookmark found in her breviary after her death.

Including me.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Although I no longer observe Lent in the usual sense or traditional ways, for thirty years I developed the habit of taking time in the weeks at the end of winter heading into spring to give more time to reflection. Not to problem solving, not to hard self-analysis, but just time to think, ponder, wonder. To look, to see, to listen and to hear. To say less and mean more.

In terms of the blog, I may not post quite as often for a while, although I do not intend to go silent. The woman who schedules volunteers at the library, on hearing that I used to be in a monastery, asked me if it was one where I was not allowed to speak. I assured her that once she knew me better, she would know that I could not have survived a regimen of total silence.

But I do like to slow things down before they pick up again in the life-rush of spring warmth and growth. So if you visit and it looks like I am neglecting the blog, know that I hope seeds are sprouting in the silent depths which may send up fresh shoots later.

John of the Cross said that G-d speaks in eternal silence and in silence we must hear.

Whatever your own beliefs about whatever you have beliefs about, may these weeks be good for you. I will be in touch from time to time.

And here in the midst of another Midwestern blast of bitter cold, lines from the movie The Sound of Music ran through my head today: "I have confidence that spring will come again."

Which is certainly part of what Lent in its many forms is all about. 
In the original posting, I mis-typed the John of the Cross quote as "G-d seaks in eternal silence." I mention it because of one of the comments.

Dells dash and Mrs. Calabash

This brisk but sunny Ash Wednesday morning -- just one above [-17.2 C] when we got up -- we headed up to the Dells. Tom had a dental appointment and I had some business with the bank there, turning in some CDs about to come due and closing our joint account. 

First we bought some boards at Home Depot and ran by the little railroad so Tom could cut them in preparation for making scratching posts for the cats. Then to the bank where things did not take too long, giving us time to visit folks at the library before Tom's appointment with the dental hygienist. The library has obtained three more of Tom's paintings for display, including one of his monochrome portraits.

After that, we stopped by Rich and Peggy's to say hello, and Rich joined us for lunch so that Tom could pick his brain about buying a used car.
Then we came back to Madison and went by the bank to deposit the funds from the closed joint account into our new joint account. And finally home to feed cats who were waiting to be fed and petted after going five hours without our company.

It is still sunny at three in the afternoon and has warmed up to 11 [-11.67 C], but will hit four below [-20 C] tonight.

You don't even want to hear about what we expect over the weekend.

But I am sure I will tell you once we get there. 

I got my volunteer assignment for the Sun Prairie Public Library. The Friends of the Library run a used book store inside the library and I will be staffing that for a couple of hours three Fridays a month. 

And finally, in honor of Jimmy Durante, who was born on this date in 1893, "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!"

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


It has been a good morning. Well, mostly. I seem to have pulled or strained or bruised a muscle on my right side a couple of days ago. I'm not sure which or what because I don't recall doing anything, but yesterday morning I woke with a pain in the side. Not crippling, but it hurt to cough. Today it is better, but not quite quite. I do not plan to do treadmill or elliptical until it has completely disappeared.

On the brighter side, I had a better night's sleep. We tried the vet's suggestions: left a light on in the living room, fed the cats before going to bed and -- most difficult -- hardened my heart when Sundance came in crying in the night. I ignored her and she eventually went away. She may have tried to wake Tom but he slept through it. At any rate, when I woke to go to the bathroom -- being a man of a certain age -- I did give both cats a snack. (And dry food is out for them all night anyway.) That won me some relief and I managed to sleep with only brief interruptions until after five. At which time I give Sundance her meds anyway, tucked into her Fancy Feast. I went back to bed and she did not come in again until I got up at seven. And she has been fairly good this morning. Hope springs eternal.

On the even-brighter-than-that side, I am happy to report that I finished Except for His Wings, got it into a PDF file and uploaded it to the publisher. The ball is now in Tom's court to design the cover. I have the blurb ready to insert when he gets to that point. Once the cover can be submitted, I will be able to get a digital proof. Then I can find and fix (I hope) problems that show up in formatting, any stray typos that have slipped through and at some point, approve the final version. Once we are at that point, the book can be made available almost immediately in digital form (Kindle/Amazon) and in print within a few days.

So that has made me a happy Mardi Gras boy, even if I do have a slight pain in the side.