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Time again to clean off the workbench. So, in no particular order...

Shrink Rap

“Magic words of poof, poof piffles make me just as small as Sniffles.” (“Mary Jane and [her mouse friend] Sniffles,” a comic book series from my long lost childhood)

Small World

“But it is what is left from little lives, well enough lived, that we can carry with us most easily when the lives have passed, lovely miniatures that ride lightly in the corner of a pocket and fit in the cup of our hand.” (Tom Teepen, syndicated columnist)

Final Doings: Danube

So on the eleventh of July, the Sheas and the senior Dinsmores (aka Bob and Pat) got on a Lufthansa Airbus at Boston’s Logan Airport for a long hop to Frankfurt, a short hop to Budapest, and the beginning of their Danube cruise. Ports of call would be Budapest, Vienna, Passau, and Regensburg, with special stops for the monasteries at Melk and at Weltenburg, in the Danube Gorge. We would leave the Danube at Kelheim, the beginning of the gorge, making our last leg the Danube-Main Canal to Nuremberg. We would pass through almost thirty locks.

More Summer Doings: Wigwams and Lightships

This was a summer of water. Between the Ohio River cruise and the Danube excursion, we headed west to the Pacific in Southern California and then—with an interlude up in Taos, New Mexico--east to the Atlantic on Cape Cod.

Rollin’ on the River(s) and Other Doings of the Summertime Sheas

The old wonker is back, after a very busy summer of traveling. I think the Long-suffering Diana and I—or at least I—were gone more than we were home, and I appreciate Matt’s having suggested that I take the summer off.* It was a good break, but I look forward now to banging out more wonks, teaching my classical tropes course, and, since Albuquerque persists in turning into Phoenix, getting a break from the summer heat.

So park y’r carcass right here for a bit and I will regale you (if you have lost your gale…hahaha.)


The other day I discovered a wonderful cache of old letters, and I would like to share some with you. This one has to do with Diana’s family’s place in Madison, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, where we went every year when the kids were growing up. It seems a wonderful celebration of summer. I hope you enjoy this wonk, and enjoy this other summer that has come round again.


Dear Cos and Bren,

You asked about Madison. That deserves a real letter. What do we do there? What’s it like? Oh dear, oh dear.

Mappa Mundi

“Map” is a strange word. Broad-voweled but abrupt, it rhymes with yap, zap, slap, clap, and so on. It might be an acronym (Mercator Area Projection?) or the call of an ill-tempered tropical bird (“That infernal mapping kept us awake all night!”). In fact, it comes from the medieval Latin mappa, meaning a napkin, a cloth. Mappa Mundi means map of the world.


I love maps. I don’t even have to leave my recliner to haul up my eight pound world atlas (oof!) or my USA/Canada/Mexico road atlas. Should I see some place mentioned in the morning paper—Storm Lake, Iowa, say—I will grab the road atlas and have a looksee. Just to see, and maybe imagine my being there, imagine the Hawkeyes who live there, imagine what the campus of Buena Vista University looks like and wonder how a town of 9973 (in 2006) can support a university.


Quite often there is something new at the stump in the bosque. Last week it was that rosary; on tomorrow’s run I’ll probably find something else. About a month ago, I found this note, protected from the elements with plastic:

Letter to the Cross Remover

To the person who removed the cross from our stump and who may or may not be the person who removed an earlier cross from the stump that a trail worker carved years ago to remember a fallen loved one and to create a place for others to meditate and pray.

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