Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Miss Brinkley

For those of you who are not Dodds and did not receive any of the photo emails ...

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's flying ...

Well, here it is Monday morning and I am getting ready to start the work week. There will only be two of us at the library for the first three hours this morning, which should make it nice and hectic. Normally I work 11:45 to 8:15 on Mondays, but today I traded hours with Kris so she could do something or other. As a result, I work 8:30 to 5:00. Better hours -- even though the morning will be chaos.

The rest of the week will be fairly busy, too. Tonight I will have to put together the treasurer's report for the district. That meeting will be in Baraboo after work Wednesday evening. Most months I just do a one-page summary, but this is the quarterly report, meaning in addition to the summary, it will include the detailed spreadsheet for the year-to-date. I have to do the work tonight because tomorrow is my long day -- work 8:30 to 7:00. Not that it is exactly high finance!

Somewhere in the next couple of days (I hope this afternoon after other people show up to work), I want to finish my draft of the monthly library newsletter. It is already roughed in, but there is a major empty space to fill and a couple of dates to verify. The director was out for a couple of days at the end of last week, and I could not check with her then. I'd like to fill the big empty slot with a report on the bookmobile going WiFi -- especially since we got an honorable mention in the State Journal from Madison over the weekend. It seems that the libraries there are watching us to see how this works out. Hey, we're a cutting edge kinda bookmobile!

Tom's daughter Lucy and her boyfriend are coming up for the July 4th weekend, and Tom has to attend a couple of parades as part of his volunteering for our local state assembly rep's re-election campaign. So although I will be getting a three-day weekend, it will have its own busy-ness.

Meanwhile, the bookmobile and everything else will go on.

And I do need to decide which shirt and tie to wear and get a move on.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

A bridge too far?

I see that 75% of the people in our local paper's poll favor a second bridge to relieve the congestion on the lone bridge leading into downtown. As someone who has to drive across the bridge to get to and from work every day as well as several times each week in fulfillment of my wonderful job, I am quite interested in this issue.

I wonder, however, if the way the question is framed has affected the outcome. For example, what is the problem we are trying to solve? The question is framed in terms of a specific solution, not in terms of the problem, a common failure in polling techniques and therefore in the doubtful value of their results. The problem, it seems to me, is how to get more people into and out of downtown Dells efficiently and safely. To ask the question in terms of another bridge assumes that the problem is how to get more gasoline-fueled vehicles into and out of the Dells. Do we actually want to do that?

Do we want more cars circling endlessly looking for a place to park, adding to the congestion along Broadway? Do we want to build more parking lots, sacrificing our limited green space to do it? Do we want to add more exhaust fumes to the air? Do we want to build a full-time bridge to handle heavy traffic for three months of the year?

Perhaps we need to consider the problem in terms of moving people into and out of town. An inexpensive, attractive people-mover that ferried people from outlying lots and resorts into town along one of the existing traffic lanes could become a fun part of a trip to the Dells. Years ago when I was in San Antonio, the city ran free and frequent trolleys around much of the downtown area. It was a distinctive and enjoyable part of the visit and kept some cars off the crowded streets. If Texas, with its love affair with the oil companies and private vehicles can do this, why not the Dells? (I grew up in Texas and know whereof I speak.)

Surely there is a way to address our need that will not cost us millions of dollars in construction, disrupt traffic over and along the river while being completed and risk permanently damaging the environment and the natural beauty that have brought people to the area for a century and a half.

H.H. Bennett figured out how to take stop-action photographs here. The famous shot of his son leaping the gap at Stand Rock has become practically a logo for the Dells. Surely someone today can figure out how to deal with this problem. There has to be a way to make this leap of imagination.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In the news ...

From The Wisconsin Dells Events ...

Bookmobile adds WiFi

Contributed | Posted: Friday, June 25, 2010 2:29 pm | (0)

The staff and trustees of the Kilbourn Public Library announce the addition of new services and an expanded summer schedule for the Kilbourn Public Library Bookmobile.

The bookmobile now offers wireless Internet, make and take activities and the opportunity to participate in the summer reading programs to its patrons in the Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton area.

With the help of a donation from the Lake Delton Lions Club, the Kilbourn Public Library Bookmobile is now a WiFi hotspot. Bookmobile patrons will be able to log onto the Internet with their own wireless enabled computers using the bookmobile's wireless signal. Up to five computers at a time will be able to use the WiFi and patrons must be within 50 feet of the bookmobile.

With the addition of several new summer stops in the Lake Delton area the bookmobile hopes to make finding an Internet connection convenient for their patrons. "Libraries today, including the bookmobile, continue to provide traditional sources of news and information through magazines and books, but the Internet continues to be the gate-way of choice for more and more people," said bookmobile driver Michael Dodd. "The capacity to bring convenient and free access to the Internet is another way that the bookmobile brings the resources of the full-size library to people who are not able to go to the main library."

Another popular library service that the Kilbourn Public Library Bookmobile will be adding is make and take library activities for children. Children who visit the bookmobile will not only be able to find books but will also find a make and take craft, coloring sheets or a library activity.

On Wednesdays, children are encouraged to visit the bookmobile at the Lake Delton School and participate in a summer library program story hour in the morning beginning at 10:15 a.m. or a school-age program in the afternoon beginning at 2 p.m..

The summer library program is under way at the library and bookmobile patrons can take part in the Summer Library Program reading programs on the Kilbourn Public Library Bookmobile also. Children, teens and adults can enroll in the special programs that reward readers for reading books of their own choosing over the summer. Sign up sheets, giveaways and prizes are available on the bookmobile.

Research shows that children who read over the summer enter school in the fall better prepared for their class work. Children who do not read over the summer have been found to lose ground with their reading skills.

"Our summer programs are designed to be fun for all the participants, including adults. At the same time, we have a special commitment to help our community's young people continue to improve the skills that will make them do better in school," said Dodd. "The Bookmobile visits Lake Delton and Neenah Creek Elementary Schools during the academic year, and many of the students use it regularly to supplement the resources in the school libraries. They are already familiar with the bookmobile, and we want to encourage them to continue to take advantage of what we offer during the summer months when the school library is not open to them."

The new bookmobile schedule began on June 8 and includes new summer stops on Tuesdays at Tower Park on Redbird Avenue in Lake Delton and on Fridays at Clara Avenue Apartments and Captain Bob's Park in Lake Delton.

The summer bookmobile schedule is as follows:


10:30 a.m. - noon, Deer Run Estates

12:30 - 1 p.m., Tower Park

5 - 6 p.m., Woodland Park Apartments


10 - 11:30 a.m., Lake Delton School

12:15 - 1 p.m. Ho Chunk Head Start

2 - 3 p.m., Lake Delton School


11:30 - noon, Village Glen Apartments

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Colonial Apartments


11:30 - noon, Clara Avenue Apartments

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Captain Bob's Park

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. Neenah Creek School

2nd Saturdays

10 - 11:30 a.m., Lake Delton School

Friday, June 25, 2010

Disappointment ...

The downtown Culver's recently moved and we were happy to hear that a family-owned restaurant was going to take over the building where Culver's had been. The news story gave the impression that it was to be a Greek restaurant, but I think a closer reading would have shown that the owners were Greek -- not that the food served would be Greek. Tom did not catch the slight difference and had been looking forward to getting a decent gyro. He checked every time we went through town for the past month or so to see if it had opened, and today was the day.

At least, it was open. How lucky was that? Maybe not so much.

Tom had been helping Rich and Peg move Rich's mom to a nearby assisted living facility (one I visit every week on the Bookmobile), and he noticed on the way back through town that the new place was open. So he called just as I was getting off work at the library to tell me to stay in town; he would come to the library and we could walk over to try the new place. As it turned out, Rich and Peg called him about then and decided to try it, too. They met us at the library and we all walked a couple of blocks to get dinner. The ladies at the library demanded that we report back to them in detail.

Okay, one look at the menu and -- clearly not Greek food. They do have gyros (not prepared the way Tom prefers), but it was mostly just sandwiches and such. We all had fish dinners. (It is Friday in Wisconsin, after all.) The best I think we could say about the food would be adequate. I think the library ladies will be disappointed. Except for Kris, since one of her sons runs another eatery in town. That is a great place to eat, and Justin and his partner have no reason to worry about competition from the new restaurant.

Oh, well.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy news

A few months back I quit Twitter and Facebook, but I checked into Facebook today to see if I could get any news on what was happening with Kristin's delivery. To my delight I found Vince's announcement about the safe arrival of
"Brinkley Marie Ann Broccolo!!!! Mommy and baby are doing great! 6.5lbs 18 inches long and adorable."
Good going, sweethearts all!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day outing

Today was a beautiful day in south central Wisconsin, and we took advantage of it. First we headed to nearby Reedsburg to visit the arts and crafts fair that is part of the Butter Festival, described on the website as "a five-day summer celebration when Reedsburg residents and businesses pull out all of the stops. Peruse the booths at the craft fair and art show; take a seat at the popular demolition derby and the tractor pull; jog a mile or two in the Run for the Butter; grab a Lion’s Club burger at our carnival and we’ll see you at the parade!"

Well, we missed the parade and I'm not sure I even want to think about the Run for the Butter. The arts and crafts show was so-so. We already spent our entire A&C budget for the year on that rusty heron last week, so this was purely a walk-through for a look-see. It is probably a sign of the economy, but I have noticed that when we came up here in 2006, the arts and craft fairs we attended were much larger than those same venues are now. I suppose with money tight, people have decided they can live without most of the things that your average arts and crafts show has to offer. (Tom says he could live without all those things even when times were good, but I suppose that is another issue.)

Then we headed to Richland Center for the finals of the Wisconsin High School Rodeo Association. I hadn't been to a rodeo since the last time I went to one at the prison in Huntsville ["Every Sunday in October!"] way back when. The rodeo itself was entertaining, exceptionally well-organized and efficiently run. Congratulations to all involved.

I do sort of regret that we missed their parade on Saturday, though. The theme this year was -- and I am NOT making this up! -- "Wisconsin... home of the Cheesy Smile!" [That is taken directly from their website, so they must be serious.]

For some reason that reminds me of the strange signs you see on street corners and in store parking lots around here:

"Church Brats Sale This Weekend!"

No, that does not mean disruptive children are being auctioned off by the frustrated faithful. Brat, pronounced to rhyme with Dot, is a fat hot-dog sized sausage that is usually grilled after having been boiled in beer and served on a hot-dog type bun. (Think bratwurst, only better.) Brats are to a Wisconsin cookout what hamburgers and hot dogs are elsewhere in America.

To all you fathers out there ...

Especially to Daddy, Ted, Justin, Jason, Vince and Tom.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Favorite t-shirt slogans this week

Lead me not into temptation, especially bookstores.

I'm the grammarian about whom your mother warned you.

Remember the book about the guy who did that thing? I wrote that.

Smile and let it go.


The last couple of days have brought sad news of deaths. The father of our friend Karl just died, after many years of suffering poor health. Although I never met him, he was by all standards still a young man, but one who has now gone to his rest. Please keep him, Karl and the entire family in your prayers.

Michelangelo emailed us this morning that our friend Robin Whitespear has died in Chicago. Robin was an 80-year-old fiber artist, actor and all-around hard worker for people struggling in recovery. Sober himself for over 30 years, following a life as wretched as any that you can imagine on Chicago's equivalent of Skid Row, Robin dedicated himself to helping those who most desperately needed the support of the communities of which he was a vital part. Robin stressed that he was powerless over alcohol, but he was an example of the power of selflessness. He was a practitioner of tough love, but over the past three decades I suspect he loved dozens, maybe hundreds of men and women into recovery and hope.

May these souls and the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Easy Breezy Raspberry Nut Fudge

Last night I made fudge for Kathie, the woman who works on the Bookmobile with me. She and her husband just celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary, and I joked that if she had told me I would have baked a cake.

"Would you?" she asked in delight.

Well, I am not much of a baker...

"No, but I might have made you some fudge," I said. "But now I missed your anniversary."

"Fudge, Michael," she told me sternly, "is good anytime."

So I made fudge. I decided to experiment with my basic microwave fudge recipe and got some raspberry extract ...

If you want a nice change from your regular fudge, I highly recommend this:

Easy Breezy Raspberry Nut Fudge

12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon of raspberry extract
Chopped nuts as desired (I used about a half cup of chopped walnuts)

1. Put semi-sweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in microwave proof bowl. Microwave on high for about 1 minute. Remove and stir until chips melt. Microwave again for about thirty seconds. Remove bowl and stir until chips are completely melted and the chocolate is a shiny, smooth texture.

2. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon of raspberry extract.

3. Fold in nuts just until they are evenly distributed throughout mixture.

4. Pour into a 6x9 or 8x8 glass pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or coated lightly with butter. Spread fudge to edges of pan and level surface.

5. Cool in refrigerator until firm, about two hours.

6. Cut into squares and serve.

7. Store leftovers (if there are any!) in refrigerator.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Fr. Geoff Farrow from California put me onto this. I hope it makes you smile, too. And maybe gives you ideas ...

After you click the arrow, you may find that this loads and stops, loads and stops. If so, just walk away for a few minute while it is doing it piecemeal and then come back and hit the Replay arrow and watch the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Instead of ...

Culver's is a locally-based (Sauk County, anyway) hamburger joint. The whole ferociously non-kosher Butterburger is their main hamburger offering in a variety of versions, including this summer a chipotle version -- nice but not very spicy to someone brought up in Texas. The frozen custard is a more-than-adequate substitute for ice cream, and you have to try a Turtle Sundae if you get the chance. I like their Lemon Ice, but that is a treat they seem to offer only in summers. Maybe they figure Wisconsinites don't need more ice in winter.

They are mainly a midwest phenomenon, but they do operate in Texas (where, I don't know). One result is that in the Fourth of July Parades up here, there is usually a Texas flag being carried by one of the Culver's employees, along with the flags of other states where they have places.

Don't go there to lose weight! (I did mention Butterburgers, right? Sounds icky, but it's really just a hamburger with a buttered bun.) They offer only one non-sugar dessert and they do have lots of salads. But who goes to a hamburger joint for a salad, right?

So if you are looking for a non-McDonald's stop, and you aren't near Jason's Whataburger, look for the blue Culver's sign. You will enjoy it.

PS -- They are very supportive of local activities wherever they are. (Small town values!) Among other things, they donate prizes for kids who take part in our programs at the library, which is always nice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010


Although I am still hoping someday to have one of Dr. Evermore's large metal snake sculptures, yesterday we found this nice piece by Dave Senkbeil. He is a machinist in Sheboygan, and he was one of the artists selling things at the arts and crafts fair in Bowman Park this weekend as part of the Taste of the Dells. It is about 40 inches high (101.6 cm) and fits perfectly into a section of the flowerbed between the sidewalk and the garage near the front door. That section is always in shade, and Tom has filled the space with rocks. The heron picking its way through cattails is a great addition.

A bit down the road is a small pond near which Tom's ancestors built the first farm house when they came to the area in the 1840s. They soon learned about mosquitoes and relocated further away. From time to time in the last few years, we have seen a Great Blue Heron on the edge of the pond. So it is nice to have at least an image of one now at our front door. (It probably seems a bit classier than our diminishing flock of flamingos!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the home front

Just an update on a few things going on.

1) Two of my Distance Learning students have now completed their course work. That means I only have two active students left, and I am assuming that when they finish, I will be finished with that. It is hard to know, though, because people signed up for the courses who have never sent in any of the assignments. By my counting, they have dropped out. I am not sure how the Institute and the Washington Theological Union will consider it, however, in case one of them wants to start up. So we will see. I have enjoyed the work, the students have done great papers, and the income certainly came in handy while I was trying to find a full-time job with benefits. But now I am sure it is time to let it go.

2) We have begun the bookmobile summer schedule, which does not add to my total hours per week but does mean I spend less time at the library and more out on the road. Our summer reading programs are underway, too, encouraging children, teens and adults to read this summer.

3) This weekend is the Taste of the Dells, with lots of local eateries providing samples of their tasty treats in order to lure tourists into downtown and away from the waterparks on the edge of town for a while. The library has its first big book sale of the year (we have at least three) as part of the weekend. At the moment, though, it is looking like we will have scattered thunderstorms, so not so good.

4) Yesterday was the second anniversary of the Draining of Lake Delton! I am amazed that the lake made such a quick comeback, although I think there are still some issues with stocking it with fish.

Well, I have to get to work. Today we hit two nursing homes and two senior citizen apartment complexes. Busy little bookmobile bees!