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Home, home on the driving range


It’s been said that golf is a psychological affliction. That must explain why last weekend, during the first spring heat wave of the year, I chose to go to the practice tee, even though I rarely golf.

To minimize the embarrassment, and to not risk hurting myself, I purchased only a small bucket of balls. Then I proceeded to slice my way through them.

As I walked back to the car, I cringed and imagined what the other golfers on the tee must be saying about me behind my back:

Golfer 1: Guys, did you all see that woman who just left who was hitting all those slices? Too bad I didn’t get a chance to thank her because I sure feel better about my game now.

Golfer 2: I didn’t realize she was golfing, as whatever she was doing didn’t look at all like a golf swing. More like flailing. Or something even less graceful than that.

Golfer 3: She was wearing all black. It made me too hot to look at her, so I didn’t.

Golfer 4: Maybe that’s why her face was all red after hitting just a small bucket of balls. I was thinking she wasn’t in shape. I didn’t take my eyes off her for safety reasons, because I was afraid she’d shank a ball right into me.

Golfer 1: Was that a spider web on the back of her golf bag? If she rarely touches her clubs, she’s probably never had a lesson or even read Ben Hogan’s classic book.

Sensible Man: Hey dudes, knock it off. I saw her use her left hip to initiate her downswing. I noticed her left wrist in the supination position a few times. Didn’t you all see that Madison Magazine article last summer about how local courses need women golfers? Courses are barely breaking even anymore, because since the recession, there are too many courses and not enough golfers. The number of rounds of golf per year on local public courses has decreased from 100,000 to 80,000, and 86,000 is the break-even point. If she wants to spend some money here at our local course, that’s fine by me.

Golfer 1: Whoa dude. Chill. Save the data analysis for work. Let’s all get some beers. That should help me forget about her “golf” swing.

As I opened the trunk of my car I mused out loud: “It’s too bad the driving range was so crowded today. It made me self-conscious.”

“Um, Mom, there wasn’t anyone else on the driving range while you were practicing.”


This Humor Me column originally appeared in the Herald-Independent on April 21, 2016.

Hit & Run in Monona…

Anyone caught up in the stop-sign conflict on Winnequah Road of a few seasons ago might be interested. Before winter arrived in Monona late this week…

The fifty-degree weather prompted me to pull out the rake one more time before Old Man Winter blew into town. After pulling the stray leaves off of the snow fences leaning listless beneath the spring-like sun glistening off of them, I went to the corner to put them into the piles of leaf mulch a neighbor convinced me to construct this past fall to save the earth. Left to my own design, I would have put all leaves on the curb. Full-Disclosure: the majority of our leaves still went to the curb.

Because it is January, not March or April, the afternoon sun disappeared quickly. Darkness fell as I was finishing with the leaves. That’s when I heard the loud THUD (despite the music blasting in my ears) that was the unmistakable sound of a large vehicle striking something or someone.

In the midst of the holiday fun/chaos I somehow managed to get mixed up about which week was recylce pick-up. So my rather large city-issued bright BLUE recycle bin was out on the wrong week. The vehicle speeding (yes–I said it. SPEEDING as is more often than not the case on Winneqauh Road) past me as I worked to save the leaves for mulch to use in the spring, because that– I have been told– is what a good citizen does these days, had struck my recycle bin and dragged it several feet across the apron of my drive. It was left deposited right where I would have been standing if I had been dumping my leaves on the curb instead of putting them into the leaf mulch piles for spring.

The driver of the car did not even stop. A hit & run in Monona!

After the kids and I used flashlights to pick broken glass (spilt out of the full recycle bin because somehow the weeks were counted wrong by someone) from our driveway–along with all the other debris that had burst out of the bin in an explosion of cardboard and paper–I realized that I was lucky. I was lucky that I was trying to do something to save the earth rather than dumping my leaves on the curb.  How lucky to be doing that while some driver, possibly talking on the phone or eating a meal–maybe reading a newspaper– or one of the many other things I have seen drivers who enjoyed the auto-pilot ease of a Winnequah Road without stop signs before the conflict a few seasons ago doing, struck my recycle can…not bothering to stop. It could have been me.

I wonder if they might have stopped if it had been me.

Monona and I are not getting off to a good start in 2012. Last week a neighbor made me feel abnormal for photographing the lake and this week a driver nearly plowed me down. With luck some of the more positive energy Monona always has to offer will come my way next week.

As for Old Man Winter and the snow that has finally arrived. Even this Snow-Grinch can’t complain when the first major snow arrives in Mid-January.

Enjoy the beauty of Monona under a fresh blanket of snow. Do your part to recycle everything, even the leaves, and you might even save yourself. Drive a little slower. It can’t hurt.

Free Stories/Novels on Facebook

Some information about the free novels/stories on Facebook. All of my writing appears under the name T. Patrick Mulroe, Jr.  Don’t look for Monona in my stories or books.  That novel has yet to be written–yet…

If you missed reading, T Patrick Mulroe‘s, FB page, Christmas Eve.With You…here it is…start at the bottom and work your way up…What can I say…I LOVED it! Awesome work, T!!!
I never heard reindeer on the roof, looked up to see snow falling from the sky like magic, or knew the joy of the season before I realized this life is not a dress rehearsal–I have to spend Christmas Eve. with you! Hope it’s not too late! Follow these people through the month of December as their stories play out… to find out if it is… * Stories inspired–as all traditional holiday songs inspire tales– by the song ‘Christmas Eve With You’ from GLEE: THE MUSIC, The Christmas Album Volume 2 Written by Adam Anders,Peer Astrom and Shelly Peiken. See More
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T Patrick Mulroe, has done it again…his new story, Sunday Dinner, has grabbed me and is holding me captive! The characters are strong and his writing is amazing and so creative. I enjoy his style of writing…I can hardly wait for the next installment! If you enjoy reading…then come with all of us to…Sunday Dinner. We’ve set a place, just for you….
Start the New Year getting to know and love the O’Neal Family as they gather each week for Sunday Dinner.
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Abnormal Behavior in Monona…

      A little more than a year ago I took up the habit of walking through Monona in the mornings.  During these walks I started taking photos of the surrounding area  life often caused me to take for granted.  It has brought me a great deal of pleasure.  That pleasure has been extended this year. I began to share my photography on Facebook. There lies the problem.

         A ‘friend’ on Facebook enjoys holiday decorations.  I snapped a few shots of local trees and bushes wearing holiday lights, then posted them.  They were a hit with many ‘friends’ on facebook as the holidays were drawing near.

        That very week I took an alternate route because time did not allow that morning for my usual view of the lake.  As I rushed my walk I noticed the lake was visible from one of the circles near my home.  Lake Monona on an early winter morning captured my attention.  As I turned onto the circle I realized I had not been on that particular circle since I moved to Monona more than a dozen years ago.  At the time I had been returning from Frost Woods Beach with a stroller full of my five children.  We turned on the circle to explore our new neighborhood.  As we turned onto the circle a man stopped us, telling me the drive along the lake was a private drive.  I nodded that we were just going to stay on the circle.  This made him unhappy.  He stood frowning with arms folded until we left. 

      Because the majority of my experiences with people here in Monona are so positive, I had forgotten about this encounter until that morning whenI stepped onto that circle once more.

       With the ‘private drive’ in mind I took care to stand only on the cirlce as I took a few photos of the lake.  As I was leaving I was stopped.  I was asked what I was taking photos of.  What was I going to do with the photos.  When I said the photos were of the lake for my own pleasure I was told I was not telling the truth.  Suddenly, I did feel a pang of guilt because I had taken photos of holiday decorations and posted them to Facebook.  I have posted photos of the lake on Facebook. I offered to delete the photos.  I was told I could not be trusted to delete them–my word meant nothing.  I was told what I was doing was not normal.  I was told I was not normal or proper.  The encounter changed how I felt about myself.

       Things in life do not happen without a reason.  Ever since I have been taking photos I have lived by a set of guidelines.  I do not photograph people or homes.  I do not go onto anyone’s property to get a shot.  But I had shared photos of the lake on facebook. Worse yet, I had taken photos of holiday decorations and posted them on Facebook too. When i thought about it I realized I had taken photos of homes at various times.  Despite the fact that I had not taken photos of people, did not take photos of homes that might be identified or of an address– did not name a street or area where the lake or decorations were– I had to admit that I had crossed the line.  I had made something priovate public.  As rude as the encounter seemed to be at first, I have to say it reminded me that I was starting to swim in a pond I do not care to swim in again.

       for a time I considered not walking or taking photos in the future.  That didn’t seem to be the answer.  Many people tried to convince me that the person who I had encountered had too strong a reaction. That didn’t seem quite right either.  In the end I decided to keep walking and shooting, but never again to forget the reminder that encounter was–to stick to the rules I had set up for myself when I first discovered the pleasure of walking through Monona with a camera.  No people, no property and no posting of anything that might be considered private onto facebook.

      But what is private?  If I take photos of the lake are homes across the lake private, or nearby along the shore in the shot?  What about the photos of chairs on a pier at sunset everyone  on Facebook loved?  What if a boat should enter the shot?  It gets complicated. 

     A road I am learning to travel with care.   

      My abnormal behavior in Monona continues.  Rest assured my camera will once again be aimed only at the water of the lake, the tops of trees and the wide open sky above.  I will post some of those photos to Facebook, but no homes or decorations or people–I promise. 

      In the end I have come to realize that the pleasure living in Monona gives me, sharing it and photographing it, means so much more to me than being proper or normal.

Happy New Year…

Happy New Year, Monona!

After a long absence it feels great to return to this page with the start of 2012. These past months I have been busy writing fiction. It will be nice to turn an eye back to Monona.

With the encouragement of many, sparked by Anita Ashland, I put out an ebook last spring– under my writing name T. Patrick Mulroe, Jr. on Amazon. ‘Sand Between the Toes’ did better than I ever anticipated a Beach Read might, finding enough readers to encourage me to do a sequel late last summer. By the Christmas Holidays I had put out five ebooks, with two due out in early 2012. In addition, I wrote a novel-in stories called ‘Christmas Eve. With You’ on facebook in December–writing several stories each day from December 1st through Christmas Eve–an experience that made me look with awe at both Charles Dickens and the writers of the daily soap opera seen on television. Readers seemed to enjoy the ‘free’ stories that formed a book. At the start of the new year I have begun ‘Sunday Dinner’–also free on Facebook. It runs weekly.

Anita has held the fort down these past few months. How lovely, against our current winter landscape, her photos of a trip to a field of sunflowers last summer seem now. At the time I fell in love with them. As we embark upon January they seem like medicine for the soul!

All the Best in 2012 Monona!

Is anyone able to identify the interesting mystery person who creates these beautiful floral displays for the Monona Public Library? If so, please let us know at THE FRONT PORCH TIMES. Thanks.

      In preparation for the annual Monona Festival over the Fourth of July Holiday some interesting people will arrive this week.  One of the highlights of early summer in Monona is catching sight of the carnival workers arriving with their various rides, spending days before the event putting together the carnival while Monona begins to construct the tent for the festival. Artists will start to prepare their booths for display during the festival.  Monona residents should keep their eyes open for this yearly rite of passage that, like most things in summer, passes by too quickly.

A Year on the Porch


   “Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.”

    Victor Hugo


     The same might be said about a town.  A year after we began to blog about Monona, at times more active than others, what has been said often influenced our reactions to events and happenings in and around Monona as much as what happened. 

      So a year into it we here at THE FRONT PORCH TIMES continue to gather in circles, pontificate from porch steps and gossip in our rockers about the things happening in the place that brings us all together–Monona, Wisconsin.  We hope you’ll join us.

Dances Spring

    Surrounded by the brutality of sub-zero winters and torrid summers dances spring.

Winter of Our Discontent

      Voices of protest force us now from the twilight of slumber, where we have been indulged for too long a time in the safe complacency of streetlamps at dusk and lit windows of homes–some majestic and others quite quaint–glowing onto snow covered lawns.  A new cynical outlook, toward our political leaders, accompanies us now from the rush of arriving trains into Midwetern stations for holidays and exta sun on those glorious longer days of June when summer is still young.   Something is not right about the decisions that have been made these past weeks, actions taken in quick moments of stolen opportunity.  Injustice has come to us the way that clustering leaves settling onto the surfaces of pools signal the end of September, to make gateway for the bare branches and stiff air of November.

        What hushed dreams must have lived in whispered thoughts, through the vast hallways and corridors of the very place where we as a state stood only a few seasons back– when our hearts still knew such a large capacity for wonder.  How foolish we had been in the wake of a storm called election delivering impending doom, as we held in our hands something many of us were too young to play with.  Hope, that had always flowered like the first green signs of spring against a crust of left behind snow after a hard won winter, was at stake.  Many of us did not know it.

       From the embers of our ether dreams we hold onto a reluctance given to swimmers down in the depths beneath the surface, where all is quiet and calm before the noise of splashing and voices resonates above the edge of the water. But the quest for air urges us toward the discomfort of full consciousness.  We have to breathe!  This thing has happened in the winter of our discontent.  Wisconsin’s catastrophe is complete.

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