Monona Archives

Monona Launches Garage Sale Season


If you are looking for a zen moment: spend a few minutes at the waterfall at the Monona Community Center. A great way to start a day!


Since I no longer am able to ‘cruise’ down Winnequah Road while listening to music behind the wheel to attain my zen moment I decided to run. Something I have not done in more than twenty years. Before marriage or family. Prior to the medical belt I wear because of back trouble even to do a simple chore in the yard. I was going to run. Why not?

This was not prompted by any thoughts to be healthier. Not even the steady stream of runners I’ve watched pass my kitchen window as I have prepared and cleaned up meals for the past dozen years made me do it. I decided to run because my daughter put some new songs on the IPOD the kids gave to me for Father’s Day several years ago.

It became a group effort. My oldest son had some running shoes I could fit into. My wife bought running shorts that left me feeling as if I was in my boxers as I left the house. Armed with the IPOD and my medical belt I was on my way.

I was graced with the start of a perfect day Sunday as darkness gave way to the promise of sun that would melt the frost I saw in certain spots. For a few minutes I walked, telling myself it would be a good warm up. I remembered this, recalling how I would run through Hyannis Port on Cape Cod to the jetty where I’d sit on the rocks watching the ferry leave for Nantucket. I was just picking up an old habit. All my life I have been an avid walker. I had this.

My ‘run’ began on Baskerville–up the hill. The peak my youngest son always loved from his stroller a few years back would be a small reward–looking out over the lake. By the time I reached that point I thought I might die. Going downhill was small relief. That came on Tonyawatha during the stretch leading to the pier. There I stopped to watch the sun come up over the lake and shine upon Madison. That was when I remembered the part I liked about running back in Hyannis Port all those years ago–stopping to sit on the rocks and watch the ferry leave for Nantucket.

Another jogger appeared. He was moving slower, steady and measured–gave the nod. Lucky for me I was walking by this time so I was not exposed as the poser I was. Walking through Monona the world became familiar again. Walking–I had this.

So I tried running again. Something I hear people might do when they turn fifty. Will I do it again? I am sure that I will because the memory of standing on the pier in Monona watching the sun come up on the lake will be such a good one–when I turn seventy.

Winnequah Road: The New Stop Zone

Truth be told we do not like to stop. As a society the worst thing a person can do is to go backwards, slow down or stop. We really don’t like being told we have to stop. So Winnequah Road is sporting a few new stop signs and people want to cry in their soup about it. Too bad.

As a parent one of the first lessons one teaches children is to slow down, stop. Don’t run or you might get hurt. Take one stair at a time. But when this same command is gven to us we do not like it.

OPRAH has been very vocal about the car being a NO PHONE ZONE since January, even had a national day for it last month. Wisconsin just passed a law against texting in the car while driving. So why can’t Monona declare Winnequah Road a STOP ZONE?

I live on Winnequah Road so I suppose I am guilty of not wanting traffic to go by my home too loud or fast. That could be it–or maybe it is the years I have spent waiting for a school bus with my kids observing what people on Winnequah Road do in their cars as they zip past our bus stop. Texting and talking on a cell phone, two of the craziest things a person driving can do, are only the start of it. I have seen people putting on makeup, brushing their teeth and a man in a convertible even shaving.

This week I spotted a man talking on his phone and using his other hand to hold up a box perched on his passenger seat. When I wondered aloud how he was driving I was informed by the kids, who seem to know everything these days, that he was proably using his knees.

Will the signs stop accidents or prevent speeding? I don’t know. Is this the best solution to the problem? I am not sure. Does it change the flow of traffic to a point of distraction itself? So it might seem. But it is an attempt, frustrating as it might be.

Grief always flies in the face of change. All change is not always good but sometimes it is needed to look at something in a different way.

Of course this is not a popular view to hold. So what–this is not a popularity contest. We are talking about saving lives. I will more than likely be the first to get a ticket for missing the new signs. But will I deserve that ticket? Yes if I am guilty of being a distracted driver. I am too often distracted while driving.

When a stop sign appeared at the start of Winnequah Road off of Monona Drive I was frustrated by it. But truth be told one Sunday a few years back I nearly hit some bikers there. The stop sign makes me slow down, realize I am no longer on Monona Drive. Perhaps the signs on Winnequah Road near Maywood Park will do the same.

So I will have to take my medicine, get a ticket if I am too distracted for the new stop signs near my home–but when it happens I will more than likely be traveling at a slower speed on Winnequah Road than I have before.

A good drive spoiled

I have always enjoyed the leisurely, winding drive down the one mile stretch of Winnequah Road between Schluter and Bridge.

There are no stops and the scenery and beautiful homes have a calming effect each day as I leave and re-enter Monona. It’s unique for a neighborhood to have a mile long stop-free road.

Oh, wait. Did I say no stops? As of Tuesday there are two new stop signs on this stretch of road.

Monona Doug and his commenters are having a lively debate about it and I’ll leave the specifics to them. For me, the stop signs make for a good drive spoiled and I hope other alternatives to the stop signs will be considered. I’m all for safety and discouraging speeding.

Twice I’ve almost run the stop sign at Maywood and Winnequah because it’s hard to see and I’m not used to it yet. I’ve watched others blow right through the intersection.

This one mile drive still has its merits, however, even if it’s not as Zen-like due to the stop signs.

What I like most about the drive is all the flower beds right along the curb.

One of these days I should take a walk along this stretch of Winnequah and takes some proper photos of these flowers and post them. Here’s one I took today in the rain that isn’t very good but will give you somewhat of a sense of what I mean:

Winnequah Rd flowers

Many of the homeowners have flower beds like these along the road and I think this is a generous thing. Rather than keep their flowers close to their houses like most of us do, they share them with us, making the drive all the more scenic.

I’m told the ordinances require that one has to leave 18″ between the curb and your landscaping. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not but I do know that if city officials ever insisted on removing these flowers, that would upset me more than the stop signs. :-)

Do you think he signed up for swimming lessons?

Of course this reminds me of that old “A duck walks into a bar” joke. Here’s a video that is a fun take on that joke, using a lemonade stand instead of a bar. A teenager made this video using drawings he made in Paint and it’s very popular on YouTube (well over 7 million views) and my kids like it too:

Photo credit: Tom Mulroe

Is it possible to love Monona too much?

During the recent economic downturn the country has endured I have experienced a foreclosure without having gone through one myself.  A family I know lost their home this year, in part due to their great love of Monona.

From the time I met this couple they have expounded upon the great virtues of Monona, while never living here themselves.  When they lived in Madison they were more visible than many local residents are.

Four years ago they made the mistake of moving away from Madison to a town forty-five minutes away.  That put them on the road each day back and forth to their great love–Monona.

Their church was in Monona.  The children went to school in Monona.  All of the sport activities their children were engaged in were in Monona.  As jobs were lost and bills began to mount they took comfort in Monona.

After a difficult year this family has settled–not in Monona.  Situated west of Madison they still have a great love for Monona.

Knowing them and ‘living through’ their ordeal with them these past months I have been given a gift.  Through their eyes I have come to see the city of Monona the way one does when entertaining out of town visitors.  Often the hosts wonder why they do not do all the fun things they did when guests were in town all of the time.

I spent this year enjoying the parks and the lake more, grateful for the schools and filled with wonder over the simple things like taking a walk through the streets of Monona.

As summer approaches I am filled once again with the great things offered here in Monona.  This year I intend to enjoy them even more–through the eyes of people who lost nearly everything for their love of a place I am lucky enough to call home.

The Other Tom Mulroe

Tom Mulroe is dead.  The news traveled to Monona last week. It was a surprise to me.

The year I was fourteen I was named Carrier of the Week for the local newspaper I delivered in Oak Park, a suburb outside Chicago.  After my name and photo appeared in the paper I became aware of another Tom Mulroe my age who lived a few blocks away from me on the other side of Austin Boulevard–in Chicago.

Prior to that my father was the other Tom Mulroe for me.  I am his junior, named after him.  When he died a few years back friends in Oak Park thought at a glance that it was me–then realized it was my father.

Over the years I have heard about what the other Tom Mulroe is doing. During college we ended up both being friends with a co-worker of mine.  I heard that he married young and had a large family, did not move too far from the area where he was born.  Out of high school he did odd jobs.  The last I heard he sold sinks–was quite good at it.

Three years ago this Christmas we spoke on the phone.  I talked about Monona, where I live.  He was eager to bring his family here, to a place he said that he felt sounded like heaven to him.  A town in Wisconsin by a lake. It was the type of place he’d like to retire to he said.

Time passed.  We both were caught up in our lives.  He never made the trip.

At fifty he died last week.  The news came to me here in Monona over the phone from my mother, who was aware of the other Tom Mulroe through me.

In the midst of all this I became aware a few weeks ago of a book called THE OTHER WES MOORE by Wes Moore.  It details the lives of two men who have the same name.  I was reminded of the other Tom Mulroe then, just prior to hearing he had died.

The truth is there are many other men named Tom Mulroe.  My teenagers put my name on Google a year or two ago and found them.  The one I knew was not one of them.  I intended to talk about that over the phone with him when we spoke again, or if he ever made it to Monona–a place he perceived from our conversations to be heaven.

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