Community Archives

Lagoon Walk: Fall Festival edition

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Schedule of 2010-2011 IHM fish fries

The first IHM Fabulous Friday Night Fish Fry of the school year was last night. It occurred to me I should post the schedule of the remaining fish fries here.

A considerable amount of volunteer labor from parents goes into each fish fry, as the revenue from these fish fries is a major source of revenue for the school.

My two youngest children attend IHM, so I can accurately say that every parent and all of the staff at IHM are very appreciative of the people who come to the fish fries.

I’m not a member of the IHM parish, and am not Roman Catholic, yet from day one the teachers and staff there have treated us like family. This warm community atmosphere is also evident at the fish fries.

Few things say “upper midwest” more than a Friday night fish fry. Even if you can only attend one, that would be great. Here’s the schedule:

October 23rd, 2010 – Soup R Raffle
November 5th, 2010
December 3rd, 2010 – Fish Fry and Cookie Walk
January 14th, 2011
January 29th, 2011
– Spaghetti Dinner
February 11th, 2011
March 11th, 2011
April 1st, 2011
April 15th, 2011

The meal is served buffet style from 5-7:30. Takeout is also available beginning at 4:30.  Baked cod is available as well. Click here to view the full menu.

Thank you to the local news scene

This is a bit overdue, but I want to thank Channel 3000 for including us on their new Monona Grove news site.

They list the local blogs and sites on their sidebar and post news stories regularly. There’s also a RSS feed, which makes it easy to stay on top of their stories, and it’s nice to see posts from all the Monona blogs in one place.

The Herald-Independent is a great source of news, of course, and a sentimental favorite, as I wrote freelance columns there way back in the day.

I’m glad that even with the demise of the paper newspaper, there isn’t a shortage of local news.

Swinging Was Respectable on Front Porch

Today is the anniversary of the death of humor columnist Erma Bombeck, who was one of my greatest inspirations as a writer (for more about her, see the Erma posts on my Kitchen Table Wisdom blog).

Today I will post a column of hers from September 22, 1994 as a tribute. This column isn’t one of her funny ones but it talks about the front porch and what it used to mean, which I think is fitting, given the name and vibe of this blog.

I also like to think that Monona still has a little bit of that community feel she describes at the end of this column:

Swinging Was Respectable On Front Porch by Erma Bombeck

In a world where people fear who is hanging out in the shadows of automatic-teller machines to withdraw from you what you have just withdrawn and put signs in their car windows, “Don’t bother to break glass. Everything has been stolen,” I was cheered to read that the front porch is coming back.

After World War II, all activities moved to the back of the house. Owners put in barbecue grills, patios and pools; and then they built a fence around it so no one would see what a good time they were having.

For those of a generation who can’t imagine the function of the front porch, allow me to fill you in. It was a place that had a swing that squeaked. There was a roof over it so that when it rained you could swing back and forth and listen to the sound of it falling and smell the fresh earth. Kids left their bicycles and wagons on it so people wouldn’t trip over them on the sidewalk in the darkness.

After dinner, parents had their coffee on the porch to watch the parade of people taking walks. Sometimes they stopped to get caught up on the news of the neighborhood.

For daters, the front porch was the place where you kissed, shook hands and promised to call. (I swear to you that’s the truth.)

We lived in a different world back then. We could never have imagined a time when you pulled the blinds and hid behind them at dusk. We could never have imagined forgoing all that drama going on outside with kids and neighbors to sit in a dark room and watch Kukla, Fran and Ollie on a 10-inch screen.

The porch was another room. I can remember my mother on a stepladder washing it down with a sponge every spring. There were flower boxes and a table to hold the lemonade. There was a welcome mat.

The four of us — my mom, dad, sister and I — talked about everything. We talked about dad’s job, our school, mom’s day, when we were going to get a dog. We watched stars. Sometimes we argued. A newsboy ran through the neighborhood one night shouting “Extra!” Wiley Post and Will Rogers had been killed in a plane crash.

More than any other topic of conversation these days is the state of the world and its people. What’s happened to us? Our cars have alarms and clubs on the steering wheel. Our doors have deadbolts and are lighted up like nuclear sites. We’re afraid of other adults and their children. We all want our old world back, but we don’t know how to get there.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s a path that leads to a front porch. It was more than just a place; it was an arena for learning how to act and how to trust and how we belonged to a group of people more important to us than ourselves.

Every Clinic Should Have a Singing Janitor

While leaving an appointment at the 1 S. Park clinic in Madison today I had the pleasure of listening to a janitor sing as I waited for the elevator.

He’s an older man so the music was from another era and vastly more pleasant than the usual hits piped through speakers in stores and clinics.

As we stepped into the elevator together he greeted another employee and chatted briefly with her.

After the doors closed he told me what a wonderful woman she is and how he wished he knew Spanish better so he could speak with her more fluently in Spanish. His smile and energy were infectious.

Then he started singing again as we left the elevator.

We had only about 15 seconds together so there was no time to ask him how long he’s worked there or get any other details about his life.

Yet those 15 seconds told me volumes about him.

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!