Anita’s Posts Archives

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a huge pile of rocks at the end of Monona Drive:

Big piles of rocks at the end of Monona Drive

The Monona Drive road construction is in full swing (I’m not sure the precise stage they are at with the road construction – Monona Doug would probably know).

Here’s a close-up view, because I’m sure you can’t get enough of the sight of these rocks:

Close-up view of the big pile of rocks at the end of Monona Drive

When my youngest daughter saw these rocks she said, “Awesome! I want to play in those rocks!”

She said that even though she isn’t normally the type to want to climb and play with Tonka Trucks and such. That’s how awe-inspiring this pile of rocks is.

Oh, speaking of Tonka trucks, there are two vintage all-metal Tonka trucks in the sandbox at the red park (Maywood Park)!

Metal Tonka trucks at Maywood Park in Monona

Metal Tonka trucks were ubiquitous when I was a kid but they switched over to plastic in the late 1980s. Bleah. So I appreciate that Maywood Park has these all-metal trucks. It’s yet another way in which Monona is awesome.

Yet another way in which Monona is special

Tonight I had an epiphany…

Order takeout burgers from Red Robin!

I’m embarrassed to say that in all these years I’ve forgotten about Red Robin’s takeout option until now.

That means you can get their delicious burgers without having to sit in their loud restaurant.

Now, may I introduce you to Red Robin’s lettuce wrap burger?

Red Robin is the only restaurant in the area that offers lettuce wraps for burgers. I have to follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons so their lettuce wrap burgers are a special treat.

Plus, this is a good option for you, too, if you ever want a burger but don’t want to feel as full afterwards. Or want extra room for their steak fries or onion ring tower.

I’ve asked other restaurants if they have lettuce wraps and they always look at me as if they can’t understand what I’m talking about.

Then I’ll ask, “Do you at least have some lettuce leaves I can use to make my own wrap?”

The answer is always something like, “Lettuce LEAVES? Hahaha! What, do you think we have a vegetable garden back there? Girlie, the best we can do is shredded lettuce.”

OK, they don’t use that exact wording. :-) But being told shredded lettuce is your best option makes it feel like that’s what they said.

Also, not every Red Robin offers the lettuce wrap option anymore. But Monona’s still does.

This is just one more way in which Monona is special.

An ode to the Monona Taco Bell

During the past couple of years I’ve developed a habit of visiting the Taco Bell in Monona once or twice month, usually with a daughter or two in tow.

I do this not because the food is extraordinary… although their tostadas hit the spot… but because the service is exceptional.

Everyone who works there is friendly and not at all a stereotypical fast food employee. There’s one employee in particular who stands out.

If you dine regularly at this Taco Bell you probably know who I’m talking about. His name is Tellie.

Thanks to the service there I could say that when I visit this Taco Bell I’m not actually buying a tostada, Wild Cherry Pepsi, and two kid’s meals with crunchy tacos… I’m buying an experience.

This young man always recognizes us and smiles and makes eye contact during the transaction at the counter.

Then he usually insists on delivering our food to the table when it’s ready so that I don’t have to.

As we eat he checks in on us and delivers mints and wipes and offers to carry away our trays. He does the same at all the other tables. I’ve often heard the people at the other tables express awe at how remarkable this young man is.

He provides as much, if not more, service than a waiter at a restaurant even though he doesn’t earn any tips.

I once talked to the manager about this young man and he says that he is having a positive effect on all his co-workers as well.

Visiting this Taco Bell is always a nice reminder that life’s too short to phone it in… it’s possible to be remarkable no wonder what kind of job or circumstances you’re in.

An exercise facility on one side… a tobacco store on the other. A fun juxtaposition.

The Secret Park

One of the best parts about living in Monona is that there is a park within a short walk of every home.

Who needs expensive backyard play equipment with all the wonderful parks?

During our 11 years in Monona we’ve never managed to call any of the parks by their proper name, except for Arrowhead Park.

In fact, I don’t even know the proper names of some of the parks.

We call the Dream Park the Castle Park.

Winnequah Park is the Red Park.

The park and beach across from Monona Bait & Ice Cream is the Ice Cream Park.

The park by the pool is the Blue Park.

And Stone Bridge Park on Winnequah Rd…this is the Secret Park.

The Secret Park is my favorite of all the Monona parks.

There is no play equipment at this park.

The view is wondrous (the capitol is in the background across the lake) and I love the vintage street lamp:

There’s also bench where I can sit and read while the girls play. Aaaahh.

And the rocks on the steps… My girls are obsessed with these rocks.

If those steps were filled with Legos, Playmobil dolls or even Polly Pocket dolls, I don’t think it would hold their fascination the way these rocks do:

Then there’s this stone pagoda that’s tucked into the hill. You can’t see it until you’re almost upon it.

At first my girls thought it was an ancient well. It turns out they weren’t too far off the mark. A plaque on a boulder at the entrance of the park says it was built in the late 1880s and helped provide fresh water for the farm that was there at that time. The children in the area used it to make lemonade. Pretty cool.

Witnesses in Monona


On April 1 this blog will officially launch.

When I told a friend about this blog, she wrote me an email and said:

I think that one of the greatest gifts a writer can give her community is Witnessing. Witnessing the events, overt and covert, that create shifting and movement on the many levels of life. That’s what wakes us up.

We will post stories and photos of things we “witness” as we live our lives in Monona. It will be like a conversation on a front porch with good friends. So stay tuned!

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