Anita's Posts Archives

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.

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Remember the storm that swept through here last week on the evening of June 8? There was an F1 tornado associated with that storm, which followed a path from Verona to McFarland. It also happened to be the anniversary of the June 8, 1984 Barneveld tornado, an evening I remember well because that storm kept blowing open the front door of our Stoughton home, a home which remained standing after that storm, but then was leveled during the F3 2005 tornado in Stoughton (dramatic video footage here).

Anyway, last week’s storm knocked down one of the trees in our backyard.

A normal person would have already had the tree hauled away by now, but it didn’t hit the neighbor’s fence or the power line, so we’ve left it alone for now because our two youngest daughters like to play in the “jungle” the fallen tree has created in our backyard (photos taken with my phone by my 9-year-old so excuse the poor quality):

The above photo may have given you the false impression that the green space is actually grass instead of the weed-filled rustic terrain it actually is. It would be unfortunate to leave you with that impression, so here’s a shot where you can see some of the weeds. Unfortunately the Creeping Charlie, dandelions and wild violets aren’t in bloom right now:

The jungle presents climbing opportunities that were heretofore unavailable:

Attempts to turn the jungle into a rain forest by using a sprinkler have so far been underwhelming, but the girls will probably try again.

Other advantages to the fallen tree:

It cuts down on the mowing I have to do.

It blocks my view of the “way back” of the backyard from the kitchen window so I’m unable to determine at a glance the height of the grass back there, which will cut down on yet more mowing.

It ultimately saves us some money because we were going to have that tree taken down anyway and it will be cheaper to haul it away this way.

Eventually the novelty of the jungle will wear off – probably when the mosquitos take up residence – and the leaves will die and it will look unsightly. If you know of someone who could remove it without charging a fortune,  leave a comment or send an email to info @ thefrontporchtimes.com.

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We’re Back

Our blog developed technical difficulties in April and I wasn’t able to figure out how to fix it. Because I was swamped with client work I kept putting the problem on the back burner.

Yesterday Tom told me someone at the pool commented on how they like the positive atmosphere on this blog, so that reminded me to contact an expert I know and get the site fixed already. I guess it’s a sign of how the Internet has made the world a small place when the first person you think of that you know you can trust to hand over the passwords to your site, and will charge you a reasonable rate, lives thousands of miles away in Hawaii. Many thanks to Inoa Technologies for bringing us back online and for their speedy assistance.

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Many years ago I decided to stop watching Packers games and only watch any NFC Championship games and Super Bowl games they play in.

Watching regularly was too stressful (all those Favre interceptions) and I just gradually lost interest in watching men play a boy’s game and get paid millions for it.

Besides, living in Wisconsin, I’m usually all too aware of what the Packers are up to, even when I don’t watch.

But a recent New Yorker article listed some cool things about the Packers and why they are the only team worth paying attention to:

* The Packers are the only football team owned by their fans (112,000 of them, to be precise).

* They are located in Green Bay, which has a population of only 101,000, and not in the larger, hipper, shinier city of Milwaukee.

* The Packers GM gets to make decisions without a millionaire owner breathing down his neck and has had the freedom to do things like ditch Brett Favre in favor of Aaron Rodgers.

* Volunteers work the concession stands at home games and 60% of the proceeds go to charity.

* Volunteers remove the snow from the field before home games (imagine the response Jerry Jones would get if he asked for volunteers).

* The beer is cheaper than at other stadiums.

* Every home game has been sold out for two decades.

* Unlike other NFL teams, which tax their local communities and then keep the profits for themselves, the Packers actually aid their local community by not draining it of resources.

Now that I know these cool deets about the Packers, and now that I’ve seen how Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw interceptions like Favre did, maybe, just maybe I’ll let myself watch a few more Packers games now. ;-)

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Kite Flying on Frozen Lake Monona

Below is the latest photo from Cassius Callender. I wouldn’t normally enjoy looking at a photo of a frozen lake in the winter, but I like this one:

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A way to slow down traffic on Winnequah Road

From Calvin & Hobbes:

Click here for more real life reproductions of Calvin & Hobbes snowmen nightmares.

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Deceased yet Consolation

It’s something of a coincidence that this week, of all weeks, my 8-year-old daughter had to master the pronunciation of the words “deceased” and “consolation.”

Thursday morning, which was also coincidentally the day 9-year-old Christina Taylor Greene was laid to rest in a casket handmade by monks in Tuscon, AZ, it was my daughter’s responsibility to stand at the lectern of IHM church (she’s a student at IHM school) and read the petition for “consolation” and “for all the deceased” during the morning mass.

She landed this gig a week ago after playing Rock/Paper/Scissors with the neighbor boy, who also wanted to read this petition. She won and had been elated about that ever since, working carefully with me every evening to make sure she pronounced “consolation” and “deceased” correctly, over and over again.

A perfect refrain for the week, as it turns out.

She recited the petition perfectly that morning and I thought of Obama’s speech the night before (perhaps the first time I’ve ever been deeply moved by a presidential speech) and the part where he said we see ourselves and our children in the victims:

For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.

And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.

So deserving of our love.

And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost.

And:

Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.

After my daughter read the petition, Fr. Bart encouraged the kids to not lash out in anger when hurt, to instead seek healing and to help heal others. That, along with Obama’s speech, are small steps in the direction of consolation, along with the stories of the acts of heroism that occurred during the shooting.

My daughter doesn’t really yet know what the reality of being deceased means, as she hasn’t lost a loved one. She can pronounce “consolation” now but has yet to express it or experience it at a deep level.  When that day arrives, I hope, along with Obama, that this country really will live up to her (and all our children’s) expectations and that she’ll have reason to say, “We are so blessed. We have a good life,” like Christina used to say to her mother.

Memory Eternal, Christina, Dot, Dorwan, Judge Roll, Phyllis and Gabe.

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Actually I’m not really into New Year’s Resolutions. But I found myself doing New Year’s Resolution type of things in the 6000 block of Monona Drive last week.

On Tuesday I joined Anytime Fitness. For weeks I had been deliberating about whether or not to join a gym. I hate winter and thought maybe this would be a way to fight back against Seasonal Affective Disorder. Chugging Vitamin D doesn’t seem to be enough.

Anytime Fitness ran a one day special on Tuesday, where you could get one month free and no sign up fees, so I signed up.

Listening to someone talk about their exercise routine is tedious, so I’ll just say that so far, so good. I like that nobody wears fancy exercise outfits, there are a lot of 65+ year old members, there’s a nice variety of machines and the machines aren’t off-putting like I thought they might be. I find myself actually wanting to linger instead of wanting to get the workout over with as fast as possible.

Also, as a self-employed person, it’s nice to have a place to go during the day other than the grocery store and my kids’ schools.

Last week I also took advantage of a free session of acupuncture across the street from Anytime Fitness at Dane County Family Acupuncture.

I had never had acupuncture before and, even though I have no serious ailments, I was curious to see what it was like.

The needles weren’t uncomfortable and I came away with some suggestions of things I should do on my own to maintain and improve my health. There was NO pressure to sign up for other appointments, but I want to go back.

Perhaps the best part was how well Kristin listened to me and her interest in getting the big picture of my health the past several years. If you have chronic health issues or have wanted to try acupuncture, I highly recommend Dane County Family Acupuncture.

Happy New Year!

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Thank you to the UW Credit Union bank teller

I’ve been a UW Credit Union member for 18 years and go to the Monona credit union at least a few times a week. If I’m within the Monona city limits, but not in my house, then it’s extremely likely I’m at Copps, the library or the credit union.

So I was very concerned when I first heard the news on Wednesday of a possible shooting in the drive thru.

When I eventually read about the heroics of the teller (from this article) it reaffirmed for me why I’ve been a member for the credit union for so long:

The bank teller recognized the man as a regular customer and knew something wasn’t right.

“Are you OK?” the 24-year-old teller mouthed to the 63-year-old man through the drive-thru glass at UW Credit Union on Wednesday afternoon.

No, he indicated wordlessly, he wasn’t OK.

So the teller stalled the transaction, calmly asked a manager to call 911 and filibustered until police arrived.

If she hadn’t done so, Monona Police Chief Walter Ostrenga said, “who knows what would have happened?”

Thank you to this teller and all the UW Credit Union employees in Monona.

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My favorite part of the new Monona Drive

As much as I like the new brick crosswalks, the new stone street signs, and the new left turn lanes, I think what I appreciate most is the new stoplight at the intersection of Owen and Monona Drive:

This means we can now actually make left hand turns onto Monona Drive from Owen! A  life-changing experience.

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