Wednesday, December 31, 2008

= OLD and NEW ~ Celebrate! =

Here are listener and a little friend
donning their Paris hats to celebrate!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Open Thread

While in Chicago, I visited a 7-circuit (classical style) labyrinth (as opposed to the 12-circuit Chartres style labyrinth) for the first time. Hard to tell, though, because it had snowed. :)


Thursday, December 25, 2008

M E R R Y * C H R I S T M A S * E V E R Y O N E !

From a song by John Denver...

The season is upon us now
A time for gifts and giving
As the year draws to its close
I think about my living

Christmastime when I was young
The magic and the wonder
Colors dull and candles dim
And dark my standing under

Oh little angel, shining light
You've set my soul to dreaming
You've given back my joy in life
And filled me with new meaning

A savior king was born that day
A baby just like you
And as the Wise Men came with gifts
I come with my gift to you

That peace on earth fills up your time
And brotherhood surrounds you
That you may know the warmth of love
And wrap it all around you

It's just a wish, a dream I hold
From days when I was young
Merry Christmas little Zachary
Merry Christmas everyone

Love and Blessings


Merry Christmas

Church this morning was a very weird experience. I was the only person there without a "speaking part". There was the priest, the deacon, the deacon's husband (doing the readings) and me. But there was still a sermon. The priest started out by saying, "I know I'm getting old when I almost like it better this way."

The big services were last night, but I used that time to reconnect with a friend I haven't seen in four years. Her husband had the kids and she was spending Christmas Eve alone. As I think about it, for this year, the small, quiet service was what I needed this year anyway.

After church, I went to see The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button. I figured that was enough of a "chick movie" that Demetrius wouldn't mind missing it. But he was with me in spirit, every time there was a point in the film I knew would have him groaning (or playing a tiny little imaginary violin). ;)


Monday, December 22, 2008

Sleepy Kitty

Consult The Daily Kitten for more cuddly kitten cuteness.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Swiss glaciers 'in full retreat'

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

Swiss glaciers are melting away at an accelerating rate and many will vanish this century if climate projections are correct, two new studies suggest.

One assessment found that some 10 cubic km of ice have been lost from 1,500 glaciers over the past nine years.

The other study, based on a sample of 30 representative glaciers, indicates the group's members are now losing a metre of thickness every year.

Both pieces of work come out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

"The trend is negative, but what we see is that the trend is also steepening," said Matthias Huss from the Zurich university's Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology.

"Glaciers are starting to lose mass increasingly fast," he told BBC News.

Read the full article.

Meanwhile, our intrepid Renee is freezing her, er, buns off in Chicago. Funny thing about global warming. It's never around when and where you need it.



Currently staying at my brother Paul's place in Chicago. Here's his cat, Marble, posing next to a little gargoyle statue.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Border Walls Keep Out Mary and Baby

by Maryada Vallet12-18-2008

She walks the trails until her ankles swell and her back pulsates with pain. Her abdomen, swollen with eight months of pregnancy, slows her down, and with each step she cannot help but think, “Will I be left in the middle of nowhere to give birth among the dirt and desert pines? Does anyone out there care to take me in, give me shelter?

Similar questions were certainly asked by Mary, the brave young woman who carried Jesus across borders trying to please the mandates of the Roman Empire. Only this time, “Mary” does not have a partner or a donkey to help, and there definitely is no pleasing the empire.

Read the full article.


Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Kitten Time

Kittens are good for the soul. Check out more kittens at The Daily Kitten


Saturday, December 13, 2008


Last night the moon came closer to the Earth than it has all year.
It was 14% bigger and 30% brighter! Did you notice?

Here's a photo I managed to get...


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Black hole found in Milky Way

The BBC reports the results of a sixteen-year study, which show conclusively not only that super massive black holes exist, but that in fact one resides at the center of our very own galaxy.

Not to worry, though. Rather than a ravinous monster, our four million solar mass black hole may be benign, even helpful according to one researcher quoted in the article.

According to Dr Robert Massy, of the Royal Astronomical Society, the results suggest that galaxies form around giant black holes in the way that a pearl forms around grit.

Dr Massy said: "Although we think of black holes as somehow threatening, in the sense that if you get too close to one you are in trouble, they may have had a role in helping galaxies to form - not just our own, but all galaxies.

It has long been suspected that black holes form the center of many if not most galaxies, and the idea that they aid in galaxy formation is not totally new either. This study solidifies these concepts, bringing home to us the reality that creation and destruction are inextricably intertwined.

Comment Link

Friday, December 05, 2008

Weekend Open Thread

There's a new site in the "I can has cheezburger" family of blogs, called "Once Upon a Win". That's where I found this:

Once Upon A Win
more epic win

The included this excerpt from the Wikipedia article about Ross.

Bob Norman Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995) was an American painter and television host.

With his calm, patient nature, Ross came to prominence as the creator and host of The Joy of Painting, a long-running television program on public broadcast stations in the United States. When asked about his laid-back approach to painting and eternally calm and contented demeanor, he once commented: “I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, ‘Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.’ That’s for sure. That’s why I paint. It’s because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news.”
I miss Bob Ross. He was awesome.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Open Thread

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


Monday, December 01, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Submarine Service"

This was one of the posters on the wall where we ate our Thanksgiving buffet--a restaurant near the airport with a World War II theme. The caption on this particular poster reads, "He volunteered for submarine service".

As I was standing in line for the buffet, I heard the man standing behind me comment that "submarine service" sounded like a euphemism for something dirty. I giggled, and made a mental note to share that funny line with Demetrius. But then the man continued to speak, and I turned around, realizing that it *was* Demetrius saying something funny. But I hadn't been aware of him getting up to go to the buffet immediately after I got up, so I really did think I was hearing a quip from someone else at the restaurant.

I guess it's reassuring to know that there are at least a few entertaining compensations when one's mind begins to go... ;)


Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Open Thread

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


Thursday, November 27, 2008


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The test Ally took today came back:

There is NO living Neuroblastoma in Ally!

She kicked that tumor's butt!

Time to celebrate and give Thanks!!

Gee, and Ally's Grammie Sue hasn't even blown out her candles yet!
Tomorrow will be a very special Thanksgiving Birthday!!

If you like, come by and light some candles in celebration! :-)


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Open Thread

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekend open thread

Hat tip to Alan for sending me the picture.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Open Thread

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend open thread

see more puppies


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Open thread


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Open Thread

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Thankfully, I have the day off anyway.

A few new shared items here.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Open Thread

see more puppies

By the way, it just occurred to me that Howard Dean's birthday is a week from today.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama, Me and 249,998 other People in Chicago

Everyone had assumed that I would attend Obama’s election celebration in Chicago - everyone except me. I was just tired and thought I would stay home and post a blog for my family to share comments. My friend from New Hampshire called and said, “You're going to Obama’s event on election night, aren’t you?” And my niece emailed me from Oregon with the same question. I began to feel obligated to represent all my Obama friends from around the country. So, when my husband, Bob, said, “Let's go to Chicago Tuesday.” I rose to the challenge.

I sent out emails to friends inviting them to come along but had only one taker, my good friend in activism, Karen. It was up to me to make the arrangements. I printed out “tickets” from the Obama website, googled mapped Chicago’s transit route and cancelled Wed. off from work.

Decked in our Obama shirts and pins, we jumped in the car after work, drove to O’Hare Airport and rode the blue subway line to downtown Chicago. With a little difficulty, we figured out how to put the subway ticket into the entrance gate. We were rescued by an AFSCME union woman in a green Obama shirt when we looked confused as to which way to head to Grant Park.

Downtown Chicago at night is fun but remove all the cars, add a glittering skyline, and mix in thousands and thousands of very happy people you get real excitement. The flow of people carried us down Michigan Avenue. Still not sure of where we were to go, we jammed up the stream to ask the very friendly cops the directions to the entrance for the ticket section.

Ticket holders go to the right; non-ticket holders to the left- to the back of the park. The rest of the 250,000 people were left on the surrounding streets. We were lucky, we had “tickets” or so we thought. We moved in a long line 50 wide through the gates as they checked our credentials in a very loose fashion. No bags- keep on moving. Telephone calls to our daughter updated us on the progress of the election. Pennsylvania is Obama’s YES! Slowly we move in mass and 45 minutes later we file through final yellow-ribboned checkpoint.

“What is this? These aren’t tickets, you can’t come in!”

I argue back, “Look, it has my name on it. I printed it off my computer from the Obama Website.”

No, no this is just a piece of paper, not an official ticket!” she answers. The three of us are walked over to another official and she confirms the previous worker’s statements. We knew it would be physically impossible to walk like a salmon against the river of people. We refused to move.-- “OK just go in!!!” She waves us on.

75,000 people were admitted to the slanted grassy grounds with a podium and large screen TV. The lower part of the bowl-shaped area was filling up. The slopping sides with the better view, were full. We didn’t care; we squeezed in between SEIU Union members, 20-somthings and young African American couples- these people and 74, 988 others!

I started to hyperventilate and panicked, could I stand like this for the 2 hours waiting for Obama to come on stage? I wondered if the people concerned about the chickens in small cages in California would care about us. Good news, Ohio goes for Obama--- yes, yes, yes! We did the math, add CA, WA and OR. This is going to be a quicker night than we thought.

Not drinking since 4 PM helped me control my bodily functions while I was trapped. Being thirsty was a small price to pay. Several of us figured if we all moved together we could sit down on the grass and still be able to breath. 8 union members and I sat down in one unit. We could see the clear sky and stars above the pillars of legs but still hear the sound of CNN announcing that Florida was added to the Obama column.

We all smiled and shared stories of campaigning in surrounding states. We talked about the first time we met Obama live. After two years of working, we felt every minute was worth it to be here on this day. During a standing break I took pictures of the crowd, watched the TV screen and checked through the binoculars to find the stage.

At 2 minutes after 10 PM CNN declared Obama the winner! The crowd shouted in unison. It was New Years’ with hugging kissing and crying. Pictures flashed, people jumped and arms waved above the crowd.

The sound system played inspirational music and we waited in anticipation as the entourage of cars with flashing lights approached the back of the flagged stage.

The beautiful America’s first family dressed in matching black and red, walked on the stage holding hands high to the crowd. Obama addressed the nation with his eloquent words. How wonderful to know this man will be our president and speaking to us and for us as a nation. A wave of true joy washed over me lifting me up as I heard myself spontaneous shouting “Yes, Yes, Yes.”

The aching pain I had trapped in my chest for the last 8 years melted into comforting warmth.

My sister and co-workers worried about us being in danger. The opposite was true; right here in downtown Chicago people of all ages, races and backgrounds came together to celebrate with Obama. Obama “got it”. We are not just a conglomeration of individuals, we are a one America.


Weekend Open Thread

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Hubby put up our Christmas tree lights tonight
because they're blue.

That little dark spot near the bottom
of the tree is a campaign sign...


Election message from Howard Dean


Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day Suggestions from Columbus for Obama

From my inbox...

It's here! Tomorrow we have the chance to make history! The campaign is expecting record-breaking turnout! This is great news and now all we need to do is vote and help get out the vote.

There are a number of the things that you can do to make your (and others) line wait not only tolerable but enjoyable and and even fun. True!

First, the campaign is doing it's part. They will be supplying hamburgers, snacks, water and in some cases a local band playing a set!

Here are some things you can do:

* Bring a lawn chair for yourself and even more for others. People will love you for it.
* Strike up a conversation with others in line if they seem interested in talking.
* Bring newspapers, magazines and comic books. You can share them with your line neighbors once you are done reading them.
* Bring a crossword puzzle or use the one in the newspaper. You may even find someone who'd like to help you.

If you help one person stay in line, you will be making a difference.

Thanks so much every one. Tomorrow we will make history!

Monday Open Thread

funny pictures
moar funny pictures


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Open thread

...with greetings from "Basement Cat".

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

By the way, don't forget to do the "fall back" thing this weekend.


The Truth about Halloween!

Thanks to Ed Meskys, who forwarded this from the Blind Catholics listserv

Father Augustine Thompson, O.P., The Truth About Halloween

We've all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It's true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on Oct. 31 - as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints or "All Hallows" falls on Nov. 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to Nov. 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter's at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland. The day before was the feast's evening vigil, "All Hallows Even" or "Hallowe'en." In those days, Halloween didn't have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in Southern France, added a celebration on Nov. 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory? What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland, at least, all the dead came to be remembered - even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the Church calendar.

But that still isn't our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday centers around dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn't Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague - the Black Death - and she lost about half her population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife. More Masses were said on All Souls' Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality.

We know these representations as the "Dance Macabre" or "Dance of Death," which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people - popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc. - into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls' Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life. But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades and even more macabre twist.

But, as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn't the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did "trick or treat" come in?

"Trick or treat" is perhaps the oddest and most American addition to Halloween, and is the unwilling contribution of English Catholics.

During the penal period of the 1500s to the 1700s in England, Catholics had no legal rights. They could not hold office and were subject to fines, jail and heavy taxes. It was a capital offense to say Mass, and hundreds of priests were martyred.

Occasionally, English Catholics resisted, sometimes foolishly. One of the most foolish acts of resistance was a plot to blow up the Protestant King James I and his Parliament with gunpowder. This was supposed to trigger a Catholic uprising against their oppressors. The ill-conceived Gunpowder Plot was foiled on Nov. 5, 1605, when the man guarding the gunpowder, a reckless convert named Guy Fawkes, was captured and arrested. He was hanged; the plot fizzled.

Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes' Day, became a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat!

Guy Fawkes' Day arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But, buy the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to Oct. 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn't limited to Catholics.

The mixture of various immigrant traditions we know as Halloween had become a fixture in the United States by the early 1800s. To this day, it remains unknown in Europe, even in the countries from which some of the customs originated.

But what about witches? Well, they are one of the last additions. The greeting card industry added them in the late 1800s. Halloween was already "ghoulish," so why not give witches a place on greeting cards? The Halloween card failed (although it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity), but the witches stayed. So, too, in the late 1800s, ill-informed folklorists introduced the jack-o'-lantern. They thought that Halloween was druidic and pagan in origin. Lamps made from turnips (not pumpkins) had been part of ancient Celtic harvest festivals, so they were translated to the American Halloween celebration.

The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Even and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The top of the cheesecake was decorated in jams and whipped cream.

Today I stopped by the Democratic Office in Burlington to bring the hard working staffers, interns and volunteers a special cheesecake, in gratitude for all their hard work, and to give them a little sugar high to kick off the home stretch.  I especially wanted to salute those working for Barack Obama for President and Gaye Symington for Governor, but everybody, really.  Folks were greatly appreciative and lining up as I left.  :-)

The side of the cheesecake read "SYMINGTON 2008" in crust.

Jessalyn, a bright light Obama staffer, asked me to send her some photos, so I am.  I thought you might like to see them too.  

Yes, that's champagne on the counter.

Have a sweet week working hard for election victory! ♥


Sunday, October 26, 2008

I visited the labyrinth at the Chadwick Arboretum today. Glad I took the opportunity, as it was nice out during the day, and right now I can hear the wind starting to whip up outside.

One little piece of symbolism I've noticed about walking a labyrinth is that, at any given moment, it's not clear how far you are from the center. After the first few turns, you pass very near the center, but there will be many more twists and turns before you actually arrive there. Yet later on, when, by all appearances, you are as far from your goal as you can be, in reality, you're almost there.

I don't know how often it works that way in life, but at the moment it's comforting to entertain the notion that something good is closer than it appears.


Saturday, October 25, 2008


No idear how many times I passed this sign with the tombstone on it before I finally got curious enough to read it carefully. I wasn't sure if it was an election sign or a Halloween decoration. At some point I read the words "for coroner", and then the name "Lewis". Was it a gag campaign sign? Al Lewis, maybe?

Well, my curiosity finally grew to the point that I Googled to find out if we were electing a coronoer this November. And yeah, it turns out that we are.


Weekend open thread

see more puppies


Friday, October 24, 2008

Open thread

From last night's SNL Thursday


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Opie for Obama

Via Oliver Willis

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die


Chimpanzee Rides a Segway

In case all that election news made you miss this headline...


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What really matters

I decided today that today was a good day to take Brady to the dog park. There's been so much else to deal with around here--stuff that is never really *done*--that I've been neglecting something really important. Taking time out to make the collie happy.

Mission accomplished.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Got OBAMA sign?

listener took this photo in Maine

Somebody stole our Obama sign today. We paid $8 for it, too. What's more, somebody stole one of Daughter's Obama signs today too. Hubby (who is there helping with renovations) says she went right down to the local police station and reported it. I said, "Hey! I should do that! Where is ours?"

Hmmm...I guess we're a bit more rural than Daughter is.  What really makes me mad, though, is that under the official Obama sign was my original hand-made one, and they took that too.

So I am going to go work at the Dem office later this week and see if they have any left. (Doubtful.)  Failing that I may have to make another one.  (Hey Reed, got any left??)


Weekend open thread

A couple pictures from a visit to Cat Welfare earlier today.