We’re Back!


After a very long hiatus we’re back.

Tom has been busy writing novels and I have been focusing on a new direction in my career.

I’ve wanted to revive this blog for some time and now seems the right time to do so.

This won’t be a source of news about Monona, as The Herald-Independent and Channel 3000 already do a more than capable job of that.

My posts will mostly be humorous, slice-of-life pieces. We also may see some of Tom’s Monona photos.

Talk to you soon and in the meantime feel free to check out our Facebook page.

Any Monona birders out there?

Thanks to my recent discovery of the Wisconsin Birding group on Facebook, I’ve become more aware of the wide variety of birds in the area.  People post photos  and the whereabouts of the birds they see. For example, in early November there was a post about a Snowy Owl that made a cameo appearance in Madison. Unfortunately I didn’t see the post in time to go visit the owl before it moved on. I’m still kicking myself over that.

I’ve also discovered that birders like to use the eBird site to keep track of the birds they see. You can view these lists on the map.

I couldn’t help but notice, however, that the Monona map doesn’t have many postings even though there must be a lot of people here interested in birds.

If you’re a Monona birder I hope you’ll check out eBird and/or the Wisconsin Birders group and let us know about the Monona birds you see.

Hit & Run in Monona…

Anyone caught up in the stop-sign conflict on Winnequah Road of a few seasons ago might be interested. Before winter arrived in Monona late this week…

The fifty-degree weather prompted me to pull out the rake one more time before Old Man Winter blew into town. After pulling the stray leaves off of the snow fences leaning listless beneath the spring-like sun glistening off of them, I went to the corner to put them into the piles of leaf mulch a neighbor convinced me to construct this past fall to save the earth. Left to my own design, I would have put all leaves on the curb. Full-Disclosure: the majority of our leaves still went to the curb.

Because it is January, not March or April, the afternoon sun disappeared quickly. Darkness fell as I was finishing with the leaves. That’s when I heard the loud THUD (despite the music blasting in my ears) that was the unmistakable sound of a large vehicle striking something or someone.

In the midst of the holiday fun/chaos I somehow managed to get mixed up about which week was recylce pick-up. So my rather large city-issued bright BLUE recycle bin was out on the wrong week. The vehicle speeding (yes–I said it. SPEEDING as is more often than not the case on Winneqauh Road) past me as I worked to save the leaves for mulch to use in the spring, because that– I have been told– is what a good citizen does these days, had struck my recycle bin and dragged it several feet across the apron of my drive. It was left deposited right where I would have been standing if I had been dumping my leaves on the curb instead of putting them into the leaf mulch piles for spring.

The driver of the car did not even stop. A hit & run in Monona!

After the kids and I used flashlights to pick broken glass (spilt out of the full recycle bin because somehow the weeks were counted wrong by someone) from our driveway–along with all the other debris that had burst out of the bin in an explosion of cardboard and paper–I realized that I was lucky. I was lucky that I was trying to do something to save the earth rather than dumping my leaves on the curb.  How lucky to be doing that while some driver, possibly talking on the phone or eating a meal–maybe reading a newspaper– or one of the many other things I have seen drivers who enjoyed the auto-pilot ease of a Winnequah Road without stop signs before the conflict a few seasons ago doing, struck my recycle can…not bothering to stop. It could have been me.

I wonder if they might have stopped if it had been me.

Monona and I are not getting off to a good start in 2012. Last week a neighbor made me feel abnormal for photographing the lake and this week a driver nearly plowed me down. With luck some of the more positive energy Monona always has to offer will come my way next week.

As for Old Man Winter and the snow that has finally arrived. Even this Snow-Grinch can’t complain when the first major snow arrives in Mid-January.

Enjoy the beauty of Monona under a fresh blanket of snow. Do your part to recycle everything, even the leaves, and you might even save yourself. Drive a little slower. It can’t hurt.

Free Stories/Novels on Facebook

Some information about the free novels/stories on Facebook. All of my writing appears under the name T. Patrick Mulroe, Jr.  Don’t look for Monona in my stories or books.  That novel has yet to be written–yet…

If you missed reading, T Patrick Mulroe‘s, FB page, Christmas Eve.With You…here it is…start at the bottom and work your way up…What can I say…I LOVED it! Awesome work, T!!!
I never heard reindeer on the roof, looked up to see snow falling from the sky like magic, or knew the joy of the season before I realized this life is not a dress rehearsal–I have to spend Christmas Eve. with you! Hope it’s not too late! Follow these people through the month of December as their stories play out… to find out if it is… * Stories inspired–as all traditional holiday songs inspire tales– by the song ‘Christmas Eve With You’ from GLEE: THE MUSIC, The Christmas Album Volume 2 Written by Adam Anders,Peer Astrom and Shelly Peiken. See More
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T Patrick Mulroe, has done it again…his new story, Sunday Dinner, has grabbed me and is holding me captive! The characters are strong and his writing is amazing and so creative. I enjoy his style of writing…I can hardly wait for the next installment! If you enjoy reading…then come with all of us to…Sunday Dinner. We’ve set a place, just for you….
Start the New Year getting to know and love the O’Neal Family as they gather each week for Sunday Dinner.
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Abnormal Behavior in Monona…

      A little more than a year ago I took up the habit of walking through Monona in the mornings.  During these walks I started taking photos of the surrounding area  life often caused me to take for granted.  It has brought me a great deal of pleasure.  That pleasure has been extended this year. I began to share my photography on Facebook. There lies the problem.

         A ‘friend’ on Facebook enjoys holiday decorations.  I snapped a few shots of local trees and bushes wearing holiday lights, then posted them.  They were a hit with many ‘friends’ on facebook as the holidays were drawing near.

        That very week I took an alternate route because time did not allow that morning for my usual view of the lake.  As I rushed my walk I noticed the lake was visible from one of the circles near my home.  Lake Monona on an early winter morning captured my attention.  As I turned onto the circle I realized I had not been on that particular circle since I moved to Monona more than a dozen years ago.  At the time I had been returning from Frost Woods Beach with a stroller full of my five children.  We turned on the circle to explore our new neighborhood.  As we turned onto the circle a man stopped us, telling me the drive along the lake was a private drive.  I nodded that we were just going to stay on the circle.  This made him unhappy.  He stood frowning with arms folded until we left. 

      Because the majority of my experiences with people here in Monona are so positive, I had forgotten about this encounter until that morning whenI stepped onto that circle once more.

       With the ‘private drive’ in mind I took care to stand only on the cirlce as I took a few photos of the lake.  As I was leaving I was stopped.  I was asked what I was taking photos of.  What was I going to do with the photos.  When I said the photos were of the lake for my own pleasure I was told I was not telling the truth.  Suddenly, I did feel a pang of guilt because I had taken photos of holiday decorations and posted them to Facebook.  I have posted photos of the lake on Facebook. I offered to delete the photos.  I was told I could not be trusted to delete them–my word meant nothing.  I was told what I was doing was not normal.  I was told I was not normal or proper.  The encounter changed how I felt about myself.

       Things in life do not happen without a reason.  Ever since I have been taking photos I have lived by a set of guidelines.  I do not photograph people or homes.  I do not go onto anyone’s property to get a shot.  But I had shared photos of the lake on facebook. Worse yet, I had taken photos of holiday decorations and posted them on Facebook too. When i thought about it I realized I had taken photos of homes at various times.  Despite the fact that I had not taken photos of people, did not take photos of homes that might be identified or of an address– did not name a street or area where the lake or decorations were– I had to admit that I had crossed the line.  I had made something priovate public.  As rude as the encounter seemed to be at first, I have to say it reminded me that I was starting to swim in a pond I do not care to swim in again.

       for a time I considered not walking or taking photos in the future.  That didn’t seem to be the answer.  Many people tried to convince me that the person who I had encountered had too strong a reaction. That didn’t seem quite right either.  In the end I decided to keep walking and shooting, but never again to forget the reminder that encounter was–to stick to the rules I had set up for myself when I first discovered the pleasure of walking through Monona with a camera.  No people, no property and no posting of anything that might be considered private onto facebook.

      But what is private?  If I take photos of the lake are homes across the lake private, or nearby along the shore in the shot?  What about the photos of chairs on a pier at sunset everyone  on Facebook loved?  What if a boat should enter the shot?  It gets complicated. 

     A road I am learning to travel with care.   

      My abnormal behavior in Monona continues.  Rest assured my camera will once again be aimed only at the water of the lake, the tops of trees and the wide open sky above.  I will post some of those photos to Facebook, but no homes or decorations or people–I promise. 

      In the end I have come to realize that the pleasure living in Monona gives me, sharing it and photographing it, means so much more to me than being proper or normal.

Happy New Year…

Happy New Year, Monona!

After a long absence it feels great to return to this page with the start of 2012. These past months I have been busy writing fiction. It will be nice to turn an eye back to Monona.

With the encouragement of many, sparked by Anita Ashland, I put out an ebook last spring– under my writing name T. Patrick Mulroe, Jr. on Amazon. ‘Sand Between the Toes’ did better than I ever anticipated a Beach Read might, finding enough readers to encourage me to do a sequel late last summer. By the Christmas Holidays I had put out five ebooks, with two due out in early 2012. In addition, I wrote a novel-in stories called ‘Christmas Eve. With You’ on facebook in December–writing several stories each day from December 1st through Christmas Eve–an experience that made me look with awe at both Charles Dickens and the writers of the daily soap opera seen on television. Readers seemed to enjoy the ‘free’ stories that formed a book. At the start of the new year I have begun ‘Sunday Dinner’–also free on Facebook. It runs weekly.

Anita has held the fort down these past few months. How lovely, against our current winter landscape, her photos of a trip to a field of sunflowers last summer seem now. At the time I fell in love with them. As we embark upon January they seem like medicine for the soul!

All the Best in 2012 Monona!


By this point in the summer I’m always on the lookout for interesting local activities to take the kids too that are free or very low cost.

I found out about Pope Farm Park in Middleton from Joleen’s photo blog (she’s a local blogger who posts photos of birds). There’s a huge sunflower field there and I spontaneously decided to go there on Monday, even though the heat index was 99 and the car available to me at the time has a broken A/C.

My oldest daughter took the photos (you can click on each one to see larger version):

There is also a huge wildflower field and a corn field.  The farm is on a hill and you can see Lake Mendota in the distance. One of my favorite things about  living in Monona is that you have easy access to countryside like this.

Pope Farm Park is on Old Sauk Road, two miles west of the Beltline. I highly recommend it. The sunflowers will probably be at their peak in a week or so.

The July 4th festival in Monona is the highlight of the summer for my family. It’s when I turn myself into an ATM machine and the kids go on rides, play overpriced games, beg for cheap jewelry at the art fair and I indulge in as much people-watching as possible.

This year I somehow found myself playing two of the overpriced games, which was a first for me. There was a new game this year – Angry Birds. Because I’ve spent a fair amount of time (cough, cough) playing the computer version – there’s something therapeutic about pummeling pigs and bricks with angry birds – I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play real life Angry Birds. Loading plush Angry Birds into the wooden slingshots and knocking over plush pigs was almost as satisfying as the computer game. At least I got two plush Angry Birds key chains as prizes to show for my efforts, unlike when I play on the computer.

Then somehow my daughters thought I should play the game in which you throw three fastballs at a target and win a prize every time.  38 mph was my best speed and the carnie said “you’re consistent.”  Translation: “You throw like a girl.” At least the kids got oversized inflatable bats out of it. Later at home I looked on Google and found out the highest recorded fastball for a female is around 80 mph. I calculated that the last time I actually threw a fastball with a real baseball with all my might was probably way, way back when I was 17-years-old and I was playing catch with my 12-year-old brother. Each time I would catch his fastball it felt like my hand was on fire, even though I was wearing a mitt, so after our session I walked away somewhat wistfully, knowing I would never be able to play catch with him again, as he had reached the point where he was too strong for me.

On Sunday morning I took a walk along the lagoon, across from the carnival, before it opened. It was a very peaceful walk until I reached the portion of the lagoon where the hole-in-one competition is situated. There were people hitting golf shots onto the small makeshift green in the lagoon. I immediately gave the lagoon a very wide berth, knowing all too well how golf shots can go far astray. I started thinking how ironic it would be if I would get hit by a golf ball while on a quiet lagoon walk, when all the times I played golf as a young’un I never got hit by a golf ball. Immediately a golf ball landed just a few feet from me.

I was disappointed that my favorite photographer, Cassius Callender, wasn’t at the art fair this year.

The fireworks were fun, as always, and it’s a treat to make the one minute walk home after the fireworks and sit and watch everyone else drive by.


Is anyone able to identify the interesting mystery person who creates these beautiful floral displays for the Monona Public Library? If so, please let us know at THE FRONT PORCH TIMES. Thanks.


      In preparation for the annual Monona Festival over the Fourth of July Holiday some interesting people will arrive this week.  One of the highlights of early summer in Monona is catching sight of the carnival workers arriving with their various rides, spending days before the event putting together the carnival while Monona begins to construct the tent for the festival. Artists will start to prepare their booths for display during the festival.  Monona residents should keep their eyes open for this yearly rite of passage that, like most things in summer, passes by too quickly.

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