O’Flaherty 2017 – Set Dancing Master Pat Murphy Comes To Texas!

Calling all y’all who love Irish set dancing…

Whatever it takes, you do not  want to miss the 2017 O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Midlothian, Texas.





Pat Murphy, Irish set dancing master, is coming to Texas!!!

If you’re not excited yet, you will be.  A brief bio, taken from Joanie Madden’s cruise page:

Pat Murphy is an accordion player and renown Set Dancing Master from Upperchurch, County Tipperary. His first contact with set dancing happened in his own home where his father Jack played the accordion and often the Ballycommon and Castle sets were danced. Upon retirement from his job as a primary school teacher in the early 1980’s, he got actively involved in teaching and reviving sets. With his wonderful demeanor and way of teaching, his reputation soon spread and he was invited to teach set dancing all over the world. He has lead workshops in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and practically every country in Europe! He is the author of four books on Set Dancing; “Toss the Feathers”, “The Flowing Tide”, “Apples in Winter” and “Tabhair Dom Do Lámh”.

Pat is an amazing teacher, and it’s a rare treat that he is actually coming to Texas.  Save the dates!  Save your pennies!  Lie to your boss if you have to, but make sure you’re in Midlothian next October!

Now…who wants to get together for extra dance practice before then?  The more we know, the more we can learn from Pat.  This is going to be awesome!

Keep an eye on the O’Flaherty web site (and here) for more information.  Registration will begin in May. Keep your calendar open for October 19-22!

Dog Hostile?

Is it just me, or is my mom’s new retirement community trying to prevent dogs and cats from visiting the residents?

Here’s the deal.  Mom moved into a well respected, truly luxurious high rise retirement community.  She paid a terrific sum for admission and looks forward to paying more in monthly rent than a two-bedroom in Manhattan.  (Really!  I looked it up.)  Don’t think of an old folks’ home; think of a cruise ship anchored in a city.  A seniors’ cruise.  Considering the lifetime of coupon clipping and cautious money management she and my dad went through, she deserves the lux and comfort.

Speaking of comfort, what about having her dog visit?  Mom was so sad to give up Sophie 2010-08-26 16.19.41Sophie, her Mini Schnauzer companion for the past eight years, but she knew she couldn’t keep the pup cooped up in an apartment, not when Sophie revels in romping around a large yard.  So Miss Sophie came to live with us and her brother-rival Chip.  That was last week.  Now it’s Thanksgiving week, and Michael and I plus the doggies want to visit Mom’s spiffy new apartment and let Mom cuddle her Sophie for hours.  Enter the Pet Policy.

The community’s pet policy has all the normal stuff, like wanting a copy of vaccination records, proof of current rabies shots, and the vet’s contact info.  Petco wants that for grooming.  The retirement place also wants us to promise to walk the dog outside and to clean up after it – cool – to take responsibility for any damage it does – of course – and they want you to have $10,000 liability insurance covering the pet – what?  It turns out our homeowners’ policy includes that, so we’re still cool.  Then they want a signed statement from the vet saying the animal has been fixed (already covered on the rabies cert, guys) and that it’s healthy and has no communicable diseases.  So basically they want visitors to take the dog/cat to the vet for a checkup before every visit?  Plus the community wants an affidavit signed by the pet owner saying in case of emergency the Administration can first call two of our friends to come and get Fido – and these friends have to sign too – or they can have the pet removed and boarded at the owner’s expense.  Um, we’re just visiting, not moving in, so … seriously?  Then we get to this gem:

Under no circumstances are visiting pets to be left unattended in the apartment or outside on the resident’s balcony at any time.  Pets left unattended will be considered an emergency and reported to appropriate authority for removal from the premise at resident’s expense.

Are we visiting an inmate at Huntsville or Mom in her retirement home?  …her own private apartment  …the place with walls and a door to contain the rock star-style trashing these 18 pound hounds will rain upon it, while the humans are away, carelessly eating lunch.

Skim the policy for yourself. Would the mythical reasonable man find this reasonable? Pet Policy for Visitors and Application-PDF Version.pdf

Chip closeupEverybody knows that dogs calm people down, make us happier, and keep us healthier.  With what this saga is doing to my blood pressure, I need to go hug a dog.  Make that two.





An Update

November 30, 2013:  While the Pet Policy remains, I did learn that it’s the residents, not management, who strenuously object to pets on the premises.  All I can guess is that it’s a small but powerful minority of residents who feel such hostility toward four-legged companions.  In the end, we were allowed to bring Chip and Sophie for a visit, and we obediently carried them in our arms down the hall and in the elevator before allowing paws to touch floor.  Only one resident gave us the “hairy eyeball” and a brief inquiry as to who we were.  Everyone else we encountered cooed the usual “Aww!” and “Oh, they’re Schnauzers!  My son / neighbor / sister has one, and they’re the best dogs!”

Perhaps something truly unpleasant happened once upon a time that turned the residents against dogs, and those who remain have not and will not get over it.  This Thanksgiving, however, when elevator passengers mixed with dogs, nearly everybody got a case of the warm fuzzies.


Great racing clouds of glory


Perfect for staying home, in a hammock, drinking run runners, being transported to a beach in my head.

Stupid work. I don’t know why they won’t pay me to stay home and stare at clouds all day.

These clouds are moving really fast but since I didn’t post a video you’ll have to rock back and forth to simulate the effect. Trust me, it totally works.

My Dog Is Awesome

OK, so this won’t be original any more than the umpteenth “LOL Cat” video, but it has to be written to show my love for this little dog.Chip hoping for a treat

Two years ago Chip the Miniature Schnauzer became part of our pack. Here are a few things I absolutely love about this remarkable dog, in no particular order. These behaviors are part of his nature; we have not taught him any of this.

  1. Chip can sit directly in front of people food and not even try to eat it. I’m talking chicken, cheese, and tortilla chips — he may look at us, look at the food, look at us, to say “Wouldn’t you like to share?” but he does not sneak a bite, even if we walk away.
  2. If you pretend to throw a toy for him, he runs to the spot where it normally lands and bounces like a cartoon character while looking for it.
  3. When we humans come home, Chip gives a greeting growl, grabs a squeaky toy, and races around the house squeaking it for joy.
  4. He loves meeting other dogs with an open heart and a tail spinning like a propeller.
  5. If a human offers a tasty treat like cheese, Chip gingerly takes it without accidentally biting or slobbering on the hand that feeds him.
  6. Chipster is allowed to sit beside us on the couch, but he waits to be invited and curls up on his towel. Well, sometimes he does inch closer to the people and off the towel but only for good reason like the need to have his head or tummy rubbed.

Chip spent his first three years of life in a dreadful puppy mill before it was turned in to the authorities, the dogs seized, and this boy sent to the Miniature Schnauzer Rescue of North Texas. They cured him of a severe case of heartworms plus other parasites and injuries. Now Chip is strong and healthy, runs and walks with his humans, even 3 mile walks, which keeps him in fine form at 15½ pounds. If you have room in your home and time to devote to a fabulous family member, consider adopting a Mini Schnauzer from MSRNT. They’re great!

Chip after grooming 7-7-2010

Laser alignment heck

Ok, so for the last several weeks I’ve had a functionally dead Spectra Physics 907 laser.

I managed to tweak it past the point of lasing and had to start the arduous process of learning to align this kind of laser from square one. I then spent the better part of two weeks trying to align the laser myself but could never get the beam quality back the way it was before I screwed it up.

What follows is what I’ve done so far to get my laser fully alive again. It’s still not working but hopefully soon it will be.

Continue reading Laser alignment heck