Neighbors Archives

Wedding in Monona!

There’s a faith in loving fiercely the one who is rightfully yours
especially if you have waited years and especially if part of you never
believed you could deserve this loved and beckoning hand held
out to you this way.

Our eldest daughter was married in Monona today at Winnequah Park. The appropriateness of both the location and the marriage sunk in more deeply with each passing moment of the day. This area of Monona has been the background of so many of our activities over the years. Here are some of the many charming details of the wedding:

The presence of the ubiquitous Canadian Geese:



The gazebo on the lagoon where the ceremony was held, which was festooned with flag decor that is required to remain in place through July, yet somehow added to the charm:


Peonies were used in the bouquets and the table decorations. The peonies were taken from my dear friend’s peony bushes. We have since discovered that peonies symbolize prosperity and romance and are an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage:


The bride made lemon bars (and gluten-free macaroni and cheese) the night before the wedding for the reception:


The music during the ceremony was a recording of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major as performed by George Winston. This was the same song used during the processional of my and my husband’s wedding:

And I think of the story of the storm and the people
waking and seeing the distant, yet familiar figure,
far across the water calling to them.
And how we are all preparing for that abrupt waking
and that calling and that moment when we have to say yes!
Except it will not come so grandly, so biblically,
but more subtly, and intimately in the face
of the one you know you have to love.
So that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them we find, everything holds us,
and everything confirms our courage.

The ceremony was performed by our neighbor Carmela. She and Tom and their family were one of the very first families we met when we moved to Monona 16 years ago, so her presence was very fitting and appreciated.


The average couple spends $30,000 on their wedding. According to this research,  spending $20,000 or more increases the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared to folks who spend $5000-10,000. For the best odds, spend $1000 or less, the price range this wedding happens to falls into, which hopefully bodes well for their future. It also pleases me that she was able to have the wedding she wanted with a minimum of interference and projections hurled her way.

According to the Gottman Institute, renowned for research into successful marriages, there are two things necessary for a successful marriage: kindness and showing genuine interest in your partner’s joys.  Fortuntaely I’ve seen plenty of both in this couple, both today and the past year, and no doubt will in the years to come.


and you want to live, and you want to love.
And you’ll walk across any territory,
and any darkness, however fluid,
and however dangerous to take the one
hand and the one life, you know belongs in yours.

– Poetry excerpts from the poem The True Love by David Whyte


The loss of Ellie this spring has been an abrupt reminder that there is more than meets the eye to most lives. Each summer Ellie was known for singing Frank Sinatra tunes while wearing splendid outfits in front of the Town Hall in Provincetown, MA. Ellie pulled a wagon with a sign that read 72 years of living my dream the first time we really took notice. Over the years the number on the sign changed.

This spring Ellie passed away, leaving a silence in Provincetown that will forever be known. In memory of Ellie THE FRONT PORCH TIMES will serve as a means of getting to know the many aspects of Monona residents…because there is always more than meets the eye to most lives lived.

Suggestions of local persons readers would like to know about, or know about, are welcome.

There’s more to a life than meets the eye. We were always encouraged to live our dreams by Ellie during our visits to P-Town.

Here’s a video tribute to Ellie:

Ellie December 1, 1931 – April 7, 2011 | local Obituaries

Left Behind…Again

   The rental house across the street from our home has made me accustomed to being left behind.  Once again I have been abandoned by our temporary  neighbors, the way furniture their lives no longer have room for has been.  On the curb looking down the road in the direction that they have gone I find myself left behind…again.

      For nearly twelve years now a series of renters have occupied the home across the street from us.  Each time we have marched over with a welcome basket or flowers to greet them.  These brief encounters in the scope of our neighborhood lives always end with a U-HAUL in the driveway before we wave them off.

       A few years back the renters were college students, a young couple.  That was different.  We did not imagine we would have anything to share with them.  When we brought a basket of apples over to welcome them that autumn they moved in they returned a week later with an apple pie they had made–for us.  The time they lived there was spent like this, homemade cookies on holidays and always someone to help push a car during a snowstorm.  I lent out my lawnmower to them.  It came back to me in better condition than it was when I lent it.  Alas, the time came when they moved on.  When they did I vowed to my family, who barely listen to my mutterings these days, that I was finished getting involved with the renters in the house across the street.

      The couple who followed the college students had a baby.  Their second child was born in the rental house.   Of course we had to go over with a baby gift.  There were grandparents to meet.  We shared conversation at swim lessons.  Their yard came alive with bright plastic toys.  The autumn air swelled with the noise of children playing.  These people needed to buy the rental home, end the revolving door we had come to endure, I told my family.  They nodded.  With the first snow I find myself on the curb with their furniture, left behind..again.

     In the back of my mind I tell myself that I am finished with the occupants of the rental home across the street.  I don’t even bother to say it to my family members this time.  We all know that there will be baskets or flowers to be brought over, the thing called life will draw us close.  It is why we live together in a neighborhood. 

       I will be here when the new tenants arrive, waiting with the excitement of a child opening a present on Christmas Day to get to know who they are.  In the end the U-HAUL truck will pull out of the driveway.  More than likely it will run over my lawn or smash into my snow fence they way that it has when the last few renters left.  Renters–no.  People who were neighbors, enriching our experience, who have become part of the tapesty of the life I have lived here in Monona.


I love keeping up with the Joneses. This came to me recently as a neighbor struggling with a yard in transition this spring expressed a panic over what the neighborhood would think.

For years I lived with the fear that our yard/home ruined the neighborhood. Each spring our lawn was yellow with weeds. Summers it was dirt. Autumn leaves were all over it. So many leaves, always left for spring. One year the siding kept flying off of the house. Our driveway crumbled each time it was shoveled. Then I started keeping up with the Joneses.

A great release came the year I began to use our neighbors the way I did the growth charts for our children in the doctor’s office. Although I resist the idea of comparing the growth of children I have found comfort in my keeping up with the neighbors when it comes to owning and operating a home.

When our neighbors behind us washed their house last fall I was reminded it was time to do the same. Our neighbor across the street had her trees cut. I remembered that I had to trim some. Another neighbor had ducts cleaned. I need to do that too.

I have found our neighbors to be great teachers. Early on I rushed mowing the lawn, almost running while doing it. But when I spotted the man across the street get in a mow during his lunch from work, walking the mower with prupose but not in a frantic panic, I did the same. Another neighbor hung her clothes to dry on hangers instead of using the wooden pins. This way the clothing was ready to hang indoors. I did that too. One of my neighbors covered his air conditioner in the off season with wood to keep out leaves and debris. I do it now too. There are so many things I have learned about owning a home from my neighbors.

Keeping up with the Joneses. Great sense to me–and it makes my life as a homeowner here in Monona so much easier.

An early morning lawn mowing debate

The sound of a mower cutting through the lawn reaches into the windows, drowning out the sound of birds. It’s spring.

I have always viewed the sound of a neighbor’s mower in two ways–a small comfort for a season I enjoy and the tiny urging that my own lawn must be mowed.

At 50 I have become one of those men who pays too much attention to their lawn.  Not that it always shows.

But this is not six in the evening when a meal awaits the family at the end of a long day.  It is six in the morning and one of our nieghbors is mowing their lawn– LOUD!

For some this is a grumpy start to the day.  While some assert that it is not such a bad way to wake up others claim it is TOO EARLY TO MOW THE LAWN!

In the wake of this lawn debate I am silent because I have been guilty of mowing earlier than nine in the morning once or twice.  I have never been brave enough to mow at six in the morning.

From my kitchen window I marveled at the guts it took to do it.  Part of me had to hold back from going out myself to join the culprit.

But no worries–my family would tie me to a chair before they let that happen.

I cause enough shame to our teenagers mowing and raking in sandals, socks and shorts.

Not to mention that I often shovel at two or three in the morning when only a fox moving down the center of Winnequah Road keeps me company.  I will NOT be allowed to have us known as the house that mows at six in the morning!

But as the debate went on I began to wonder about those loud blowers of snow that begin to sound around six  on winter mornings.  Are they any worse than a mower at that time in the spring?

And I wonder which was louder… the early morning lawn mower or our debate about it?

By seven-thirty as we all were leaving the house the debate was over.  Our neighbor who mowed at six in the morning was forgotten by all–but me.  I could not help but think as I left the driveway how great his lawn looked at the start of a spring day.