Posts

Showing posts from March, 2019

The Art Of Noise

Image
Donna and I went out and saw some live music with friends on Friday night. One of our favorite bands, Zach Petrini, an band that plays largely Americana, was playing at a new venue called the Ivy House in the Third Ward. It was a place we'd never been, so thought we'd check it out.

If you know me, you know I'm a music buff. I love live music because it is such an in-the-moment experience. Like theater, each show is an entirely different experience. If the band is having a good night and the crowd is into it, it can be almost a spiritual experience. (Speaking for myself personally.)

What I enjoy so much is picking out the different instruments as they play. Everyone has a critical role in the creation of it. If the bass player sucks, the whole thing sounds like crap. If the guitarist hits a couple of rough notes in a row, people cringe.

But if every member is in synchronicity, it can be downright stunning. Many of Petrini's songs have a distinct progression to them. The…

Hope Springs Eternal

Image
It seems we are on the cusp of spring, for real this time. As with everyone else, this is a long awaited season of expectancy for me. The older I get, the more I need spring. This past winter was brutal, starting after one of the crappiest Novembers in a long time.

There are a few things that help ramp up the giddiness for the coming warmth.


Brewers Opening Day. I'm a fair weather baseball fan, but always appreciate the possibilities of opening day. Back when the Brewers played at County Stadium, I used to try and get to an opening day every once in a while. It was almost always a guarantee that it would be rainy, cold, or snowy for it, so the memories are of dressing warm, lots of beer, and more Brewer losses than wins. (They weren't very good in the late '80s.)Kayaking Season. We sold our Santa Fe, SUV this past winter, so my kayak hauler of choice has become a minivan. Lord, help me. I rigged it with some roof racks that I got for a song on Amazon, so all we need now it …

Travelling Vicariously

Image
Both of my kids just finished up trips to California. They are 23 and 20 years old and these trips were completely orchestrated by them. 
They planned them.
They paid for them.
They lived them.
Sarah was out visiting her boyfriend's parents in Sacramento and managed to take a side trip to San Diego and Los Angeles. Ben was out for Spring break and managed to stay at a friend's uncle's place in Oceanside. 
I'll admit it was weird knowing that they were both in the same state, over essentially the same period of time. It was also sort of comforting in a way, knowing that they were within a few hours drive of each other if anyone should have any issues. It is well known that San Diego is maybe my favorite city in the US. So when Sarah mentioned she was going there, I wanted to tell her all the places to see. I might have mentioned a couple of things that I thought were important, but ultimately, these trips are up to them. She made it to the San Diego Zoo and saw the pand…

Restoring Wetlands And My Faith In Humanity

Image
Nothing like clomping through a muddy farm field in March to restore my faith in humanity and remind me how much I like my job. I did just that today as part of a "field trip" of sorts for me and a fellow GIS guy as we followed our friend around for most of the morning.

Alan works in our Land Conservation department and was scheduled to do some GPS data collection as part of his work with the Waukesha County Land Conservancy. Megan, the woman in charge of the project told us the land we were walking on was 57 acres of farm land that was being restored to a wetland.

These wetland restoration projects involve a lot of factors including removing existing drainage ditches, clearing invasive species, planting native plants, etc. Then once the wetland is restored, the wildlife follows.


So while the main function was to "GPS some points" and learn about how that ties into the mapping, I was more interested in the overall project. It gives my heart great satisfaction knowi…

My Alter Ego

Image
In the ebb and flow of my "other full time job" as a writer/poet, there seems to be a lot going on in the world of poetry lately. As we approach April which is National Poetry Month, I thought I'd run down a little of what's happening.


I was asked to fill another year term as Poet Laureate for the Village of Wales. My term was initially scheduled to be up at the end of April. They claim to like my work and my initiatives and asked me if I'd be willing. Of course I agreed. Looking forward to another great year.As part of year two I have a couple of new things I'd like to do to try and increase the awareness of poetry in the. My first thought would be to get the poetry I read at the board meetings every month onto the Village website. The other idea involves installing "free poetry" dispensers at area coffee shops, bookstores, libraries and other meeting spaces. I heard about the idea being started in Duluth and thought it would be cool at the local le…

Fostering Future Literaries

Image
Yesterday I took part in a Young Adult Writer's Conference at Carroll University, across the street from where I live. Last fall, a friend, Bob Goswitz, author of Dragon Soldier's Good Fortune, asked if I'd be interested in volunteering to help and I thought it sounded like fun. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I am always eager to help other writers succeed.

To put it in perspective, these are Middle School writers who chose to be there as an option. This weeded out the kids who wouldn't be engaged because they didn't want to be there, which makes it a little easier. There were 25 groups or so of 12-15 kids per group. It was a huge undertaking.

We started the day by gathering in the main auditorium for a keynote interview with a successful author of middle grade books, Ali Novak. She gave an inspiring talk on how she started by posting her work to WattPad and before she knew it she was getting hundreds of thousands of readers. She's written 4 books and sh…

Trying Not To Act My Age

Image
I write this from the home of my father and mother in-law's living room. We are here in small-town Gorham, New York for a 3 day visit with my wife's parents. It is a big trip, a 12 hour drive. We didn't make it back for the holidays and wanted to get back. Her mother is battling dementia and has good days and bad days.

I came into the weekend with great apprehension. Frankly, I was worried that she wouldn't remember me. There are days she doesn't remember her daughter or her husband. So, to bring "the son in-law" who she hasn't seen in over a year, I was expecting the worst. Couple that with some stories of her getting flustered and angry and, well, I had low hopes for the weekend.

Well, it has been a really good stay. Really good.

We have had some good laughs as a family. My mother in-law has been extremely pleasant to be around. Of course there are the repeated questions, "How old are your kids, now? How long does it take you to get here? Where…

The Creative State

Image
I sometimes hear people say, "I'm not creative" or "My brain doesn't work the same way as creatives do." I am still trying to figure out if this declaration is legitimate or just a cop out, a sign of laziness.

And I think I've come to the conclusion, that it may be very similar to the thought that "I've never been good at math," a thought that I often fall back on. In my own situation, I can write a ten page paper without a second thought. 
But ask me to divide a fraction or figure out a decimal and you'll see a slow and steady glazing over of the eyes followed by a wrinkling of the nose. I remember looking at my son's calculus notebook in high school and instantly rocketing him to the status of genius, compared to his flunkie dad. Does my lack of math skill make me a bad person? No. Just gifted in different ways.
And I do mean gifted. I feel everyone has gifts in different things, and not just tangible skills like reading, writing…