Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day happenings

First, we went to the parade. Here are pictures of the color guard, the band, the Scouts, Laura (one of the librarians) and her family watching on the other side of the road, Kevin Foster (our neighbor boy marching in his first parade as a volunteer firefighter and carrying the Wisconsin flag) and the American Legion lined up in the park for the service after the parade.

You gotta love the kid in the plaid shorts, right?

Laura, her daughter-in-law Monica holding her son Gunner (red shirt and cap), and her younger son Owen being held by Laura's daughter Shannon (yellow shirt). Laura and Monica's husbands (Shannon's dad and brother, and Gunner and Owen's grandfather and father, respectively) are both in the parade as firefighters. Laura's younger son is also a firefighter in the Milwaukee area.

Kevin's parents and his brother's family all live down the road, and he is a great young man. He recently graduated from MATC with a 4.0, already owns his own home which he and a friend restored and now he's a firefighter.

Saw lots of library folks at this. My boss is the head of the Legion Auxiliary, and there were any number of volunteers, patrons and even some of my Bookmobile kids there.

Afterward, we went to the R&GN where I renewed my membership for another year. Then home to clear the old grill and some rotting planters off the deck while Tom installed the fountain, now that we are safely beyond the freezing nights.

Tom decided to move the fountain to another corner of the deck so that he could put the grill closer to the door for convenience. We discussed replacing the planters, but decided that the deck will be fine as is. The trumpet vine (barely visible behind the fountain) should fill in nicely before too long, and the shrubs Tom and Helen put in last year are coming along well to add color all around the deck.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 30 in 2011). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. Service Members who died while in the military service.First enacted by formerly enslaved African-Americans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War – it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Memorial Day often marks the start of the vacation season, and Labor Day its end.

Begun as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the Civil War, by the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as ordinary people visited the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not. It also became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family get-togethers, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 auto race, held since 1911 on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

Tom and I plan to attend the annual Memorial Day parade and ceremonies in the Dells. Memorial Day weekend is the beginning of the tourist season here, that's for sure, and the area is swamped with visitors. The Memorial Day events, however, are a local thing, and have a small-town flavor.

(I didn't about it being a holiday rooted in African-American tradition. You learn something all the time.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday morning P's (Peter and Pileateds)

Peter left this morning on his way to start grad school at the University of Mississippi. He packed up all his stuff and very neatly put away the things he is leaving here. He hugged us, waved to Sundance (who had come out with me to see him off) and disappeared south, planning to see his girlfriend one more time along the way. Hope he has a safe, uneventful journey through the middle of the country and that his Mississippi experience goes well for him. We look forward to seeing him again in August when he comes to pick up a few more items and fill us in on how it's going in Oxford. Oxford, Mississippi, that is.

Not long after Peter drove away, Tom called me to the window to see a pileated woodpecker in the back, the first I have seen on the property this year. A few seconds later, a second one appeared and they started in on one of the downed trees Tom had decided to leave for their enjoyment. Clearly he chose well.

It was still in the mid-30s ( about 2.2 C) when I got up this morning, but it is supposed to get up to 85 (29.4 C) on Monday for Memorial Day. The Dells being a resort area, this is the beginning of "the season" for tourists, and naturally the weather forecasts are all over the map. One weather site predicts thunderstorms all three days of the holiday weekend, and the other says only partly cloudy. It will be what it will be, of course.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whither the weather?

While grateful that we have not been besieged by tornadoes and floods, here in Wisconsin we continue to suffer our own Little Ice Age. Here it is, May 26, and the forecast calls for a low of 32 (0 C) tonight.

On a brighter side, we are supposed to hit 81 (27.2C) Sunday.

Mama reminds me that when they and Cynthia came to MSU for my graduation back in early June of 1972, there was frost on the ground when they woke up in the morning.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

But when you think about it ...

Well, here it is, long past the hour when the end of the world was supposed to have begun and nothing much has happened. This is what always happens, but one assumes someday by chance, bad luck or whatever, someone will have predicted the end of the world and it will come.

I'm not holding my breath.

On the way back from Madison today I passed a restaurant sign that said, "Happy Doomsday!"

So poor Mr. Camping is being set upon by various media outlets who helped create this (non) story in the first place. American news corporations that claim they do not have the personnel to cover the actual situation in Afghanistan or the impact of unemployment on the working families of America and so on were nonetheless able to send thousands of reporters, camerapeople and analysts to London for a royal wedding. Wow! We all know how great those marriages work out, don't we? (One does hope this one does well, of course. Not sure how those two kids are supposed to make it, given all the junk they face, but one can always hope.)

Likewise news programs are able to find experts to point out the many fallacies in the good Mr. Camping's twisted interpretation of what he asserts are revealed Biblical numbers. Yet they seem unable to find any impartial experts to do any kind of helpful analysis of the conflicting stories put out by politicians about the financial realities of our own country, financial numbers that affect just about everyone living here.

Meanwhile Tennessee is protecting its school children from learning anything about homosexuality because, as we all know, if you don't mention things, they are not there. (This explains why states that have abstention-only sex education have the highest teenage pregnancy rates.) Texas has made it illegal to lie about the size of your fish, but then, Texans never lie -- we just tell more truth than there is. (Sure, school superintendents there are resigning in the face of having to lay off 100,000 teachers, but at least they won't be lying about size of the catfish they can now legally catch with their bare hands. They may have to eat those fish, anyway.)

Oh well, as lots of people are saying today, nothing to get in a stew about. It's not the end of the world.

Is it?

Friday, May 20, 2011

So long

On our way to Neenah Creek School this afternoon, the Bookmobile was passed by four of these so-called DoomBuggies.

Not really worried, but if the world does end tomorrow, it's been nice knowin' ya!

Or, to quote the ascending dolphins of Douglas Adams, "So long, and thanks for all the fish!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strangest bird sighting

I had a nice birthday,thank you very much, blessed with cards and greetings from friends and family in Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, England, Italy and Kenya.

As for the bird sighting ...

A couple of weeks ago, Tom was on his way to the library to help with the move when he spotted a peacock in the middle of Birchwood Road, a mile or so down from our house. There was a female still in a pen in a yard nearby: the gate was unlatched and the open. No one was home, but the mail carrier showed up and offered to call the people, since she knew who they were.

The next time we went by there, the pen was closed and empty. We have no idea how long the birds had been there, but we drive by all the time and had not seen them.

Oh, well. No one ever said the Dells wasn't colorful in its own little way.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It is 32 degrees (0 C) this morning at 7:30. May 17.


At least it's sunny, so no snow on the ground!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


When Vivian mentioned to Tom that he had been in the paper, I wasn't sure what he had been up to this time.

Turns out it was a picture of him helping out with the work moving the library last week.


Although Wisconsin ranks among states with "low" suicide rates, in the past few weeks I have been made aware that suicide is still very much with us. Locally I know of two suicide attempts and a third attempt that was successful, all in the last couple of months. The young man who did kill himself had been a volunteer for a variety of public service activities in the community, and that is how I knew him and his mother. He would have been in his third year of college this fall.

There may be other instances of which I am unaware. Even if there are none, it is hard to believe that we have three in such a small community. We aren't talking about big city pressures and problems. This is rural, small-town Midwestern America.

There is a program called "It Gets Better" designed to fight the high suicide rate among gay teenagers. Sounds to me like we need something for other young people, too.

Say a prayer for those who suffer and think there is no way out except through that dark door. You never know when it might be someone waiting on you at the hamburger joint or mowing the lawn down the street.


Yesterday morning, while I was having a cup of coffee before heading to work, Tom went downstairs and threw together an oriole feeder. He took a bit of lattice left over from the deck, a metal pole and a few scraps of lumber and put it together in a quarter of an hour or so. He set it up out by the other bird feeders, sliced a couple of oranges in half, slipped them into the holes in the lattice and, voila! The lattice holds the oranges nicely (with a little help from skewers) and the metal pole discourages squirrel climbing.

The man is amazing. Just don't tell him I said so.

The orioles love it. I saw five at the same time out there on it or by it this morning. Orioles are apparently quite shy and it took some effort to get even these two little photos through the dining room windows, our prime bird-viewing post.

The hummingbirds also are interested, although they seem to be feeding off the blossoms on the sand cherry bushes beside it more. Tom says the sand cherries are not doing well, but the hummingbirds seem satisfied.

Although it does not seem to have any relation to the oriole feeder than a coincidence in time (sort of a post hoc, propter hoc thing), a beautiful indigo bunting has also shown up to bring more color to the yard.

Plus kudos to Tom who keeps adding plants and cleaning up and all that good stuff, even on a cold, rainy day. We may have a low temperature in the upper 30's again tonight and tomorrow night. At least it won't be quite down to freezing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Not only are trees turning green, but the wild plum trees that are scattered along Berry Road are blooming. The are very delicate, some blooming full like the one in the photo, but many looking more like a single branch of blossoms from a Japanese scroll painting.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Where there's a what?

This morning I finally signed the various end-of-life documents and had them witnessed. Tom and I began this process a couple of years ago, but after waiting forever for one lawyer to act, we went to another one. Shortly after we met with her last fall, she had an accident and everything came to a standstill during her recovery. Now we have finished up the things that needed signing. There are a few odds and ends to take care of, but the big stuff is done.

So there is the Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, Power of Attorney for Health Care (which includes the Advance Directive with specific things I do or do not want done) and Authorization for Final Disposition (who gets to release my body to the funeral home). Tom is stuck with just about all the work that needs to be done as long as he is around. If he can't do it, Ted gets to have the fun. There is a separate sheet of Personal Representative Instructions and one of Specific Bequests that have yet to be filled out. Ted will get a copy soon of all this stuff so that he will be prepared to deal with anything should it fall to him.

The weather has been Wisconsin spring-like, which is to say cloudy, thunderstormy, a bit of hail, a chill in the air, pretty windy.

On the other hand, I followed Peggy's advice about putting jelly out for the orioles and it works like a charm. Today I have seen both male and female at the orange/jelly bar. We have some jars of Smuckers that are way past expiration date, but that doesn't seem to matter to the birds.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Birth Days and Certificates

Yesterday was Jackson's birthday. (Happy day, Jackson!) My own is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I will hit the big 61. Since there has been a lot of attention to birth certificates lately, I have been tempted to post mine online, just in case anyone wanted to nominate me for anything.

But a few things made me reconsider.

1) As the immediate family knows, the State of Georgia did not record my live birth at the time I was born. It was not until six years later that it issued a birth certificate so that I could start school. And on that certificate -- the "original" in some sense -- it listed my date of birth correctly in one place -- May 19, 1950 -- and incorrectly in another -- September 1, 1956. The one I now have and that I use for things like getting my passport, has only the correct information. I hope it will stand up to scrutiny should I be nominated for anything or, for that matter, when I become eligible for Medicare and Social Security later this decade.

2) There was also some question about Daddy's birth date in Georgia. For years we thought it was in October, but then those meddling Feds discovered while processing his application for a job that he had been born in September. Some members of the family, including I think his mother, insisted on the October date, but the official record says September. I am thinking maybe no one born in Georgia will ever be able to prove conclusively that they were born there at all. So I am not going to stir up anything on that count.

3) Since some people near and dear to me have had their identities stolen in the past, I figure there is no need to put any more personal information out on the internet than is already there. I was in fact shocked to discover, when looking for an image to illustrate this post, all sorts of birth certificates that people have put online. So not only is their personal info floating in cyberspace for any and all to see, but anyone who wants to fake an official-looking document can probably do it fairly easily using one of these as a template.

Anyway, happy birthday, Jackson. May you and Riley and Brinkley and Brooke all grow up into a world where this stuff is no longer an issue.

And another first for the year ...

The orange pieces not only attracted an oriole (who was back later in the evening), but this morning we saw a hummingbird checking them out.

Tom, who had just been instructed by Debbie to go play, immediately suggested building an orange rack out there. His idea of play? Work!

To Roxie, Cynthia, Kristin, Kirstin, Angie and the rest

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Orange flash!

A few days ago, Peggy mentioned that she had seen orioles at their place. Tom had tossed out some oranges that had gone hard, so I strung a few up and hung them from the feeder. Today I decided to throw them away in nothing happened. Just as Tom was preparing to go out on the deck to grill ribs for dinner, a male oriole showed up and began pecking away at an orange. It stayed for a while. Beautiful bird!

We only saw orioles a few times last year, and I don't know if they will be around more this time. But they add a nice change of color to the backyard.

(Sorry, A&M fans, but if you can find a maroon and white bird to visit us, I promise to publicize that, too.)

News Flash!

Cats have no appreciation for delayed gratification. When they want their snacks, they want them NOW!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yom HaShoah

Never forget.

Spring finally?

Well, it is overcast, windy and only 43 degrees (6.1 C) at 10:00 AM this Sunday morning, May 1. There are signs that spring is progressing, however. More shrubs and trees are showing green; the forsythia has a lot of yellow along the lower branches; day lilies and irises and tulip bulbs are thrusting up leaves; the bleeding heart is off to a strong start; some of the flowering ground covers look ready to blossom with the encouragement of a few more sunny days; and the lilac outside my bathroom has begun to spread leaves and is showing promise for blooms this year.

More and more types of birds are showing up, too.

Recent sightings:
Pileated woodpecker down the road a bit
Bluebird in a tree in the backyard
Grosbeaks (male and female) at the feeder
Cardinal (male) in the tree by the feeder
Lots of sand hill cranes in the fields across the road. (Mama could hear them the other day when I was on the deck talking with her on the phone.)
The usual suspects: robins, various woodpeckers, chickadees, goldfinches, house finches, nuthatches, titmice ...