When my parents were in college, they had an F5 destroy much of their campus in Madison, Indiana. In the aftermath, patients at the local mental hospital helped with the recovery. During that time, the doctors noticed a surge in the patients’ peace of mind. The helpers had a purpose; they could do immediate good. Disasters are terrible; there is no doubt. But it seems that there is little limit to how much helping helps.

(May 21, 2013)


I love bad weather–or at least good, bad weather–but at the moment, I have a near-hollow tree in my front yard. It sits right by my upstairs bathroom. And when it’s storming, and when I’m using that bathroom, all I can imagine is James finding me with a red maple, a pair pants around my ankles, and 3-5 squirrels.

(Originally posted May 20, 2013)

The Long Goodbye

Here’s Raymond Chandler, one of the fathers of noir: “He was about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a piece of angel food…. The voice dragged out of her throat like a sick man getting out of bed… She was as cute as a washtub.” And you thought Garrison Keillor was spoofing.

(Originally posted April 23, 2013)


It doesn’t matter if your cat has allergies. It doesn’t matter if he starts sneezing to the point where neither you nor he can sleep. You must not give him a bath at four in the morning. When you give him a bath at four in the morning, he will knock all the drying cookie sheets onto the tile. He will become so stringy, and he will drool with such hatred, that you’ll wonder what sort of creature his fur has been hiding all of this time. Afterwards, he will smell like a college dorm’s shower drain. And you will know this very well, because in spite of the fact that you supply him with a stifling, space-heatered room, he will settle his clammy, dampened stank onto your head, and shiver for the rest of the night. And yes, most certainly: he will sneeze.

(Originally posed April 22, 2013)


You’ll forgive my theological geekery, but this is just freaking excellent. Chaim Potok, in his book about Jewish history, writes about contradictions in scripture–especially the different versions of the Ten Commandments event. Here he goes: “All the [contradicting details connect] that covenant to Sinai, and that was the way [the historian] wrote it, giving them all equal validity. What right had he to choose among which was true and which was not? He offered us not a straight narrative but a prismatic, almost surrealistic one filled with splintered, uneven, broken sequences, repetitions, elisions, contradictions, attempting with words to trap the elusive heart of the event, to convey somehow its infinitely mysterious dimensions–and probably failing, as I am failing now in my attempt to describe his effort. That is all I can write at present of that long moment in the wilderness.” My, that is good.

(Originally posted April 20, 2013)


It’s Friday! Here. Have some excellent words: 

pamplemousse, pneu, eglantine, asshat, congratulate, pericope, perambulate, plotz, mukluk, ronronner, brikabrak, blubber, bap, whomp, wazoo, snafu, Schmoo, bollox, Jehoshaphat, omnom, inshallah, sarsaparilla, hallelujah, meh, Methuselah, Weimaranar, toadflax, brouhaha, and belch. 

You’re welcome.

(Originally posted April 17, 2013)