121/365 – Three strikes against him

marriage-bookWalking briskly in the spring night air, Paul crossed the Capitol Square on his way to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.  He carried what he called his “book,” a ring binder full of the details on the marriages he needed to get annulled in order to marry Dearest in the church.  To depersonalize them, he had given the three marriages code names based on where they took place: Mequon, Phoenix, Madison, which could all plausibly be women’s first names.  Recontacting them had not gone well in two of the three cases.  Gathering the necessary documents had taken time.  And writing the narrative of the first marriage had proven to be surprisingly painful.  But now he had it all together, and it would be up the Tribunal of the Diocese of Madison to render a verdict.  Paul was eager to hear how long that might take, but as for this night, he was just glad to have turned the whole thing in so it was off his shoulders and out of his mind.

120/365 – Planting time

garden-beds

We’ve got history, these two garden beds and me.  Nothing but clay and pernicious quack grass rhizomes to start with, my brother and I created soil with liberal admixtures of compost, aged horse manure, and peat moss.  Now the stuff crumbles in your hand.

It’s been, well, four years?  Maybe five.  I lose track, because each spring it’s a new thing.  I wore out the soil for peas — that was my game for years, getting peas planted by the first day of spring, all kinds, snow peas, sugar pods, and regular for my sister-in-law.  Got tired of tomatoes, too.

So this year, it’s cut flowers.  Two Shasta daisy plants are up front on the left, with two rows of zinnias planted today.  I can get to the garden from work in about 10 minutes, so I’ll be doing some tilling and planting fairly often.

119/365 – Do we know God’s name?

Here's what God feels like to me, a beacon in the randomness.

Here's what God feels like to me, a beacon in the randomness.

Interesting discussion of the second commandment at RCIA tonight. (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, my Catholic class, for new readers.) Number 2 is about not taking the name of God in vain, and I have had little trouble editing out the “G-Ds” and “J-Cs” out of my swearing and cursing. In fact, since I’ve started this religous journey, I find fewer and fewer instances where I feel like cursing. I never really liked it.  I remember as a kid a group of my buddies asked me one day, “How come you never swear?”  I let loose a couple of F-bombs and so forth just to show them I knew how, but it didn’t feel right.

Sure, later on in college and “the big city” I could hold my own, peppering my sentences with all the choice swear words of the day, but I preferred making new ones up, like “Rat farts!”  Today, when someone cuts me off in traffic, I might make a comment about their intelligence or some part of their anatomy involved with the expulsion of waste, but”cussing” really doesn’t appeal to me.  Neither does losing my temper.

Anyway, to get back to my topic, I’m not sure anyone can ever know the name of the Supreme Being — not in this life.  It would be something beyond us.  The One God is fine with me.  I don’t feel the need for some mystical name known only to the inner circle.  That’s too Old Testament for me. I feel we don’t need a name, just the intention to acknowledge and accept something greater than us who cares about us and knows our name.

118/365 – Dandelions declare spring

dandilions1They’ve broken out! The wildest weed in the West is on the loose again.  This exclusive shot shows a breakout near a university lab in Madison, Wisconsin, where researchers have been trying to contain the dandelion infection for years.

Actually, that was science fiction intruding.  This was shot near my old dorm, and was the first I had seen of the yellow weed, which was imported centuries ago and got loose on the landscape. 

I though I knew a few things about dandelions until I Googled them and found the Wikipedia entry.  It just has to be appreciated verbatim:

Origin of the name

The English name dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion  meaning “lion’s tooth”, referring to the coarsely-toothed leaves.

The names of the plant have the same meaning in several other European languages, such as the Italian dente di leone, Spanish diente de león, Portuguese dente-de-leão.

[Now it gets interesting *PZ]  In modern French the plant is named pissenlit,which means “urinate in bed”, apparently referring to its diuretic properties. Likewise, “pissabeds” is an English folk-name for this plant, as is piscialletto in Italian and the Spanish meacamas. In various north-eastern Italian dialects the plant is known as pisacan (“dog pisses”), referring to how common they are found at the side of pavement, while in many other northern Italian dialects it is known as soffione (“blowing”) referring to the blowing the seeds from the stalk. The same is true for German, where Pusteblume(“blowing flower”) is a popular designation. Likewise, in Polish it is called “dmuchawiec”, deriving from dmuchać (“to blow”).

115-116/365 – Weekend special: Eric Frydenlund

eric-in-boatPundit Eric Frydenlund gets a lot of inspiration from nature. I had the privilege of crossing the Mississippi River in his boat last Memorial Day.  That’s where the picture was taken.  One day he will be my brother-in-law.

Those disclosures aside, I started reading and enjoying his columns before I met his sister, although I must admit (and have told him) they seemed to jump all over the place in terms of style and focus.  I guess he was experimenting, and I am with this blog, and lately he has stuck with his winning formula of relating national and international events to his daily life in a quiet corner of Wisconsin along the Mighty Mississip.

As we all shall come to know, there is nothing quiet about the human heart, and our minds work fine no matter where we are, perhaps even better when traffic and long commutes and over-achievers and just plain released-too-early street performers almost prevent us from reflecting.

Eric has reflection down to an art form.  From today’s column: “Out here in the Driftless area of southwest Wisconsin, we’re less concerned with competition than what works. As one of the poorest areas in the state, we understand the value of hard work, hiking from dawn till dusk tending crops and harvesting our labor. … The topography lends itself to a fierce independence, as the neighbor on the next ridge might as well be on another planet. As business falls in the winter and floods rise in the spring, the landscape levels and we find ourselves, sometimes literally, in the same boat.”

So far, the Wisconsin State Journal is the only place to read Eric’s work, but I’m confident it will catch on.  All it takes is more thoughts like this: “The environment does not surround us, but includes us. Independence begins with interdependence. And in Darwin’s nature, there are just as many examples of cooperation as competition.”

To read today’s column, click here.  You can also pull up plenty more from 2009 in the archives, once you figure it out.  Good reading.