Saturday, November 12, 2016

autumn in Wisconsin

Each leaf falls from its tree as an individual.

It’s a personal decision by the leaf to drop from its mother tree and go its own way into the breeze.

Of course, when the leaf is no longer getting food from the tree, when the sap has begun to retreat in the branches down to the trunk for protection from the approaching winter, it gets the sign that it’s time to move on.

Do leaves really WANT to drop from the tree or are they forced by the changes in their lives? Do they worry about the drop? Will they be smashed by a passing car or blown into some unfamiliar backyard?

Will they end up in a big pile with all their brothers and sisters and get swept away, unceremoniously by a garbage truck… or will some little kid and her dog jump into the pile and fling them around while laughing like crazy?

Maybe the leaf doesn’t care what happens after the fall.

Perhaps it’s happy to be free of its tree and off on its own.

But, a falling leaf means its days are numbered. It has turned a different color because of the chemical changes in its veins and may be happy to wear something new.

The next spring more leaves will bud on the branches and grow to a beautiful green or deep red (depending on the species). They will do their job of collecting energy from the sun and keeping the tree alive.

Then, in autumn they will turn gold or yellow or orange or red and pop off their branch.

One at a time, waving goodbye to the tree as they fall.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Alzheimer's Advocates Story

MY ALZHEIMER'S ADVOCATES STORY                                                 March 24, 2015

My father died two years before his body died.
Alzheimer's robbed him of his participation in the world, robbed him of his love for his daughter and grandchildren and robbed him of his dignity and independence.
 In order to cope with caring for him and finding places to get help, I had to take a reporter's attitude and stand back from the situation so I could clearly see what was going on. I had to put my emotions aside to watch my father slip away, little-by-little every day.  That way I could make the tough decisions of what care center to put him in and where the money to do that would come from. That way, I could talk to a man I no longer knew and who no longer knew me.
Only when I saw him lying in his bed in the last nursing home, looking like he was asleep but knowing that he was not, did I let my strength drop and cry.
When I heard about the Alzheimer's Advocates going to Washington, D.C. to lobby for resources to help scientists find the cause, treatment and cure for the disease. something clicked for me.
My Daddy was always an activist. Most of the work he did was behind the scenes, but because of the causes he took up and the people he helped, things happened. I think my father was whispering in my ear: "get up and get busy".
For him... for my children... maybe even for me, I put on the purple sash and got involved. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Little Advice Needed...

I'm not sure if I am going at this the right/best way, but when I wake up in the morning and all I can think about is "what do I have to do today to move the documentary project forward" I guess I'm on the right track.

"Kaukauna & King: 50 Years Later" has been bouncing around in my mind for, oh... 50 years. Early i 2016, I found the student newspaper, The King's Page that I saved since 1966 and realized that it had been 50 years since this event took place.  I have been obsessed with doing a documentary film about the exchange ever since.

My former news director once wrote an article of advice for potential employers who considered hiring journalists for other professions. One of the reasons she pointed out was that journalists don't quit when they are in pursuit of a story. Here is what Jill Geisler wrote:

8. Journalists have a great work ethic. If you've ever complained that your team has a 9-to-5 approach to the job, hire a journalist. Some may think they're crazy, but they've often followed stories, not schedules. They've dropped everything for breaking news. They've gotten up in the middle of the night to catch a perfect picture of the moon or listen to a source who could talk only in darkness. They took on the work of laid-off colleagues while still doing their own, for as long as they could. And they still have energy.

I have been plugging away at this project  7 days a week since about March (I don't remember the exact day I started... should have checked that fact) and it occupies my mind for about 12 hours a day.

Don't get me wrong, I am not bragging just explaining how this project has consumed me. 

Right now I am struggling with the hardest part, so far... finding funding to make this obsession  become reality. And, like all other journalists, I'm not giving up until it's finished.

Stay tuned .

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


The sun is shining.
The temperatures are in the 70's and 80's.
Perfect tennis weather!!
But, am I playing ? No!!

Why not, you may ask. Why am I not spending my so far healthy retirement doing the second- best thing I love?

Because I believe everyone has a purpose. Something you HAVE to do because you have been moving towards it... gearing-up for it... awaiting that slap of inspiration that sets you off on the path you should take, for a long time. I found mine earlier this year while looking through boxes marked "high school stuff".

I found, well found is not the right word, I re-read the newspaper article below and realized the event had happened exactly 50 years ago. So I began asking myself questions and the answers came in the form of the documentary/project that keeps me holed- up in my dining room on my laptop on warm, summer days.

"Kaukauna & King: 50 Years Later" is the project.  Where are the students who participated in the exchange? How did the exchange and performance in the play "In White America" effect them as 17 & 18 year olds? How did the exchange effect their communities of Kaukauna and Rufus King High School? Who/where are they now? How has Wisconsin or the communities touched by the exchange and play changed in racial understanding in 50 years?

Big questions... hopefully big answers.

My Eureka moment came when I was looking through books on Wisconsin at the Renaissance Bookstore at the airport. I was trying to find something on this event in 1966. There was nothing to be found. then it hit me... no one had written about this before because it was 'hidden history" and I was the one to write it! I cannot express how that felt!!

So, I press on. No funding (yet). Only one other person helping with the project (thanks Josh). And, my goal to have the doc finished by the end of the year keeps looking harder and harder.  But, when this IS finished, I hope this history
it will be hidden no more.  Stay tuned.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Saving Stuff

Well, another birthday has passed and with each one I wonder where the time has gone and how come I have so much stuff in my house.

I also recently helped a friend move. She had not gone through all the stuff in her house since she moved into it 10 years ago. Packing all that stuff was a huge challenge.  I called a couple tennis buddies when I got to her house and saw that her idea of "I'm ready for the movers" and reality were not the same.

 So, I am committed to a SERIOUS spring cleaning this year, which will include removing all the leftover stuff from my father's apartment and my ex-husband's place. He has slowly found a way to store more than two dozen large items in my basement. What can I say? I'm a nice person, mostly.

But, most of this stuff has got to go!

Here is my plan:
1. clean out the two-car garage which can hold only one car at the moment.
2. clean out the basement so that it can finally be finished.
3. move most of the stuff from the basement into the garage.
4. clean out the garage, again.

I just read an article that says my kids won't want most of my accumulated stuff, anyway, so I might as well let it go.  There is a lot of great stuff in my house, though. I don't consider myself a hoarder... I consider myself an historian.

However, I'm gonna do it!  One box goes out everyday! Or maybe one every two or three days.' Or maybe a couple get emptied every month!
But, I will not give up!! When it's time to move me into smaller accommodations, my sons will not have to wade through old (antique) stuff.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Musical Memories

Of the five senses we humans have, I believe that the sense of smell and hearing are the most powerful. As I was innocently sitting here going through everyone's Facebook posts two of the songs that have the most meaning to me played on Pandora back-to-back!

I guess I should have expected it might happen since it is on my Paul Brown "station" and there are very few tunes that he plays that are not fantastic.  But this time it was a song by the group Fourplay followed by a Paul Brown number.

The first is called "Still the One". It is a beautiful song I first heard in my headset at work in 2008. I connected it with one of the most emotionally-charged incidents in my life and so I rarely listen to it, even though I have the CD. When that ended, the "Funky Joint" by Paul Brown followed.  I had to stop, close my eyes and listen to them both.

Music can take you back. It can whisk you off to your childhood, teen years or just yesterday. When you hear "our song" all the emotions connected to that relationship well-up, again. When you hear music from a special day or season, you have to stop and listen and if you close your eyes, you are in that place and time again. Sometimes that is a wonderful experience... sometimes the music can break your heart all over again.

They tell me that music has a close relationship to math, but even if I try to break a song into it's individual musical notes, it still has power over me that no other experience can create. Besides, I am very bad at math.

So, let's raise a toast to all the musicians who think up this form of art to entertain, amuse and move us in ways that really cannot be put into words.

Just close your eyes and let the sounds wash over your memories.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


I Never have trouble falling asleep, usually... most of the time... well, not often...

I say I can fall asleep on cue, but not lately. Here it is 5:11 in the morning, and I am still awake writing this post. What's up with that??

Lately I've been taking naps during the evening after dinner. I thought that was just something old Daddies did. But, I guess as I get older I need more sleep.  But how come that sleep comes at 7pm-10pm in front of the TV? Oh, now I get it! I have to stop watching TV in the evenings or stop eating dinner.

OK, I'm not complaining. I know that as soon as my head hits the pillow I will be asleep. So why don't I just turn off this "mean machine" and go to bed? Because I'm too lazy to crawl up the stairs and find my bedroom.

Eureka! I have the answer!! I'm going back to sleep on the couch!

Good night.


Friday, March 4, 2016

I'm old enough to be your mother

Late one Sunday afternoon my husband and I decided to go see one of those block-buster movies. We chose a theatre in Northern Illinois and found a spot in the parking lot that was packed with cars. We knew we would have to wait, since the film was very popular, but we had time and we really wanted to see it.

There was a pretty long line inside the lobby which stretched out the door and about a dozen people long, past the box office. Now, in those days they did not have timed-tickets or big lobbies with chairs and lots of space for standing around, so we went to the back of the line and waited our turn to get into the building and buy our tickets. It was summer, so the wait was not uncomfortable.

The line inched along. We got there early, because we wanted to get our popcorn and drinks in time for the trailers.  I love the trailers, they are often better than the movies! Like the trailer that I saw for the first Star Wars. It blew my socks off!  I knew right then and there that I was going to see THAT movie!

I digress... anyway, we were waiting in the line the get into the building. The line stopped moving and an usher came out and told us that we still had to wait until all the people from the last show left the theatre.

This movie house was right across the street from a Walgreen's so, since we knew we were going to be standing there for a while, I said to my husband, " I'm going to run across the street and pickup some stuff". He said OK and I left the line and headed for the drug store.

I was gone maybe five or ten minutes, but when I came back the doors had opened to the theatre to let just a few of the people inside. My husband was the last one they let in, then they closed the doors behind him.  When I got to the doors, he opened it for me in front of all the other people standing in the line outside.  Now, all those other people knew we had been standing together, and they politely (well most of them were polite) let me in.

As we closed the door behind me, a red- jacketed usher who could not have been more than 16 walked up to my husband and said that I could not come in... he was the last one they were letting into the lobby. My husband said I had just run across the street to get something important from the drug store and had only been gone a few minutes. Besides, the other people in line let me in, so what's the big deal?

The usher was in charge. He looked at me and decided take a different approach to enforcing his authority over the crowd of mostly adults waiting to see the movie.

"What's in that bag?" He demanded.

"Just some personal items I had to pick-up before the store closed". My memory gets a little fuzzy here, it must have been a holiday because Walgreen's never closes, right? But this was in the late 1970's and stores kept different hours.

"What's in the bag?" The acne- faced usher demanded again.

People in the line were turning to look.

"This is my husband, and we were together in the line so he let me in the door so we would not get separated." I replied.

"You can't bring candy and drinks into the theatre" He scolded.

"Well, it's not candy... we are going to buy popcorn when we get in" I replied. But I was getting a little irked by now.

"Open that bag and let me see what you are bringing in!" The usher demanded.

"You don't really want to look in there, it's nothing you have to be concerned about" I warned, knowing if he did, it would not go well for him.

"Let me see what's in that bag!" He ordered.  Everybody in the line was looking at the confrontation, now. My husband was giggling, letting me handle the situation.

"OK", I said.  "Take a look" I opened the bag and shoved it close to his face so he would have no doubt about when he was seeing.

By this time, the line inside the lobby was moving towards the theatre and some of the other people were heading for the concession stand.  But about a dozen were still there, watching and waiting for the end of this mini-saga playing out between the usher and me.

The young man looked inside the bag with a stern, disapproving look on his face.

When he looked up, his face had turned as red as his ill- fitting usher's jacket.

"Satisfied?" I asked with a slight smile.

He looked up at me as if I had just slapped his face. "Ah, yeah, OK, alright, ah you can go in" He replied, very embarrassed. The people around me started to laugh. They had no idea what was in the bag, but from his reaction, they probably had a pretty good idea. My husband burst out laughing. I stared the young man in the eye and said "Thank you".

He stepped away and we headed for our popcorn.  I don't remember what movie we saw. The encounter in the lobby was much more fun.