Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Wish List 2009

This is my Christmas wish list. I mean Christmas, not the euphemistic "holiday" that seem to be in vogue. The Freedom From Religion Foundation may be in Madison, but it isn't in my heart.

I would like to enjoy peace on earth somewhere besides on a greeting card. That means that President Obama should end our two wars and bring home all the people involved in them, including the military, private contractors and Blackwater. It means that the various factions in the world should stop arguing and fighting. I believe that peace is not achieved by war. Peace is a condition in which national and self actualization are possible because people are working freely for the good of all. Cessation of military violence is not the definition of peace. Women and various minorities should be greated with respect.

I would like to see the recession end and world economies flourish. In the US, I would like to see everyone have an adequate income. Corporations should bring manufacturing jobs home, and people in India should not be the people to tell us how to run our home technologies when Americans can do it. Financial institutions should operate in the public interest. I understand that these ideas are not the backbone of capitalism, but I believe that capitalism should not be ruling American decision making.

I would like to see in the US a medical care delivery system that benefits people. It should be available to everyone affordably, and it should deliver quality care to all effectively and efficiently. The system should recognize that Standard of Care might not be the only way to provide the best outcomes. The people in our national government should vote in favor of this, whether it is government or privatly operated.

Related to this, I would like to see our pharmaceutical companies operate in the public interest. It is ok to operate at a profit, but not necessarily for a profit. Drugs that do harm along with good, and drugs that do more harm than good, should be advertised as such, truthfully, if advertised at all. Drugs should be affordable. Doctors should spend enough time with patients to understand their situations and, when possible, give lifestyle advice along with advice on pharmaceutical solutions. We need to have unbiased medical studies. There seems to be a lot of deception in the name of profit.

I would like to see compassion and truth in food systems. Our food producers should provide food that is nutritious and not packed with harmful chemicals. Unhealthful foods abound, and their advertising recommends eating them; this needs to be turned around. News stories repeatedly tell us that junk food makes people fat and sick. It makes sense to be locavores, to eat food that is grown nearby, or at least in the United States. In many stores, people do not know where food comes from because labels do not tell them. Factory farms need to treat animals humanely and fed them their natural diet rather than compensating by filling them with antibiotics after the factory diet makes them sick. Those antibiotics in meat and dairy products are passed on to people.

I would like to see less environmental damage so that our descendants can enjoy our beautiful earth. We can learn to live without oil (with some help from science), and we can reduce pollution. Our standard of living should not destroy the earth.

I would like to see fluoride removed from American water supplies. I have read and believe that fluoride interferes with thyroid function. There is plenty of fluoride in toothpaste and some mouthwashes. We don't need to dose the whole population.

I think that all this is more than Santa Claus can handle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poetry Corner

Here is more about culinary enjoyment, by Kathy Whitt...


Mix. Bake. Smell. Eat.
Butter. Sugar. Flour. Sweet.
Stir. Mix. Shape. Smile.
Delicious. Unhealthy. Enjoy for a while.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nut Tarts

Now that everyone is anticipating the gustatory delights of the Christmas season, and the resulting corpulence, here is the recipe for my world famous nut tarts. I got it from a spiral bound booklet published without date or copyright in the 1960s, called The Electric Company Christmas Cooky Book. It came from the Wisconsin Electric Power Company in Milwaukee. I picked it up during the year of my residence there. These tarts are very good and easy to make.

Nut Tarts

3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Blend room temperature cheese, butter and flour; chill for 1 hour. Divide into 24 equal parts; shape each part into a small ball. Press onto bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of small buttered (2 inch) muffin cups; chill. Blend remaining ingredients; place one teaspoonful of mixure in each pastry shell. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen small tarts.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Commentary on News

Here is the announcement of the end of the Oprah show and the show's history. It's big news on the national reporting scene. While the end of Oprah's program is worth noticing, I question the amount of hype it is getting. We are in an age when entertainment is news.

Oprah, the queen of talk, is very influential, possibly the most influential American woman of our times. She has brought attention to many important issues and causes. She has done it on her program, in contrast to lackluster reporting of similar issues on television newscasts. Maybe talk shows are becoming blurred with newscasts and commentaries. I watch news commentaries on the Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Countdown, the Rachel Maddow Show, Bill Moyers Journal, and others. I do not watch or listen to the Fox network or Rush Limbaugh. These programs are expressions of impacts and editorial conclusions about what is happening. In some cases they are satirical and humorous. In some cases they are the only news programs that some people watch or listen to.

CNN seems to continue to report straight news, along with the nightly newscasts and NPR. This week we are hearing some actual news, such as action on health insurance reform, uproar over recommendations on mammograms, and Obama's deliberation about what to do with our unpopular wars. We heard about a boy who made news by refusing to say the pledge of allegiance in school because he said that homosexuals do not enjoy "liberty and justice for all." Then I heard Stephen Colbert reciting his rewritten pledge of texting to the flag, a satirical twist on human interest stories.

Our nation has ongoing editorializing overtly through the importance given to various events, and we have editorializing by omission. When we spent months seeing and hearing about the death of Michael Jackson, the king of pop, and days enjoying the balloon boy, we undoubtedly missed some other newsworthy issues. As a nation, we love entertainment over content. If that is what we are getting, I am glad to have the intelligent satire of the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Great Emergence

The Great Emergence, by Phyllis Tickle

Here is a book written for Christians, mostly North American protestants, that examines history in the churches and the world to explain the big changes that are happening in North American Protestantism. Tickle is a church historian and Episcopalian. She covers the historical causes of the Great Reformation, then what she calls the Great Emergence that is happening now. She says that every 500 years the church has a big rummage sale that cleans it out as part of major change. She gives credit to communications changes for today’s situation, along with Freud, Jung, the automobile, and much more. The book is short but filled with content. She mentions Roman Catholicism and European churches in passing, but does not dwell on them.

Tickle demonstrates that changes in religion are part of changes in the world. She points out that the question of where authority lies is at the heart of the Reformation and today’s church issues. It’s not hard to read and will help us to understand what’s going on.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Library Editorial

Rob Rogers - Yahoo! News

This editorial cartoon is a commentary about libraries and the economy. The Edgerton Public Library, where I last worked, has reduced its hours while having a beautiful new building. I hope the library board will reconsider and restore the service time. But then I don't expect pigs to fly soon either.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Politics of Medical Care

The senate has a long way to go to get a reasonable "health" care bill. Feingold is right. This isn't about health, and sort of is about medical care, and mostly is about profits continuing for the insurance companies.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Scat, by Carl Hiaasen

Scat, by Carl Hiaasen

Here is a book for everyone. Carl Hiaasen has given the world another funny but serious story about crazy people and respect for the environment. It’s a great story. This one is for teenagers, so it is minus the vulgarity of his books for adults, and it is just as good. You will like this book if you are an adult. Like Hiaasen’s other books, this one has an easy-to-digest message about protecting Florida’s natural environment.

Nick and Marta are the two students who are concerned about their very unpopular biology teacher, who doesn’t return from the school’s field trip to the nearby swamp after the swamp is set afire. They set out to do detective work to get to the real truth about their teacher. They find her doing an environmentally good thing, they save the boy who is being framed for setting the fire, they get involved with typical Hiaasen crazy guys (substitute teacher, student’s father, and the swamp man), the oil speculators get caught setting up an illegal drilling operation in the swamp, and everything ends up ok. Oh, and there are a couple of panthers. That’s how scat enters the story.

Hiaasen’s characters are well developed. Even the crazies are believable. The reader cares about the good people and cringes at the actions of the bad people.

Scat received a starred review from School Library Journal. That review and one from Booklist are on the website.

Monday, September 28, 2009

CBS News Poll Comments
CBS News recently conducted a 60 Minutes-Vanity Fair Poll. How could they have forgotten to ask me what I think? Here is my commentary.

It shouldn’t surprise me that Walmart is the institution that best symbolizes America today. It won over Google, Microsoft, the NFL and banking. I am wondering if there were some other choices, even though everyone seems to crowd into the nearest Walmart store except my son who takes Walmart’s ethics very seriously. I am wondering how many people voted for the Christian churches, or McDonald’s. The answer to this survey question says a lot about American economic thinking on the local level.

Should the US tax the richest Americans by at least fifty percent? Only fifty percent of the respondents said yes. What’s wrong with us? If I remember my American history correctly, when the income tax was put into place, the idea was to have it graduated according to ability to pay. The people with the money are running the government, so they make it sound as if taxing them without regard for their financial largesse is a burden on them. This question applies to taxing people for their purchases, too, I think. Of course there should be a large sales tax on their yachts and Porsches. It’s not that I want these things. It is that they are examples of American greed.

The luxury people hate to sacrifice in tough economic times turns out to be dining out, according to the poll. Television talking heads say that many people eat most or all their meals in various eating places. If people can’t afford to eat in restaurants, they will have to learn to cook and maybe find the grocery stores that no longer are near their homes. Construction workers would go back to work designing functional kitchens for the homes of people who suddenly need to use them. It could be good for the stomach and the economy. The losers here would be the people in urban areas who can not get to stores other than convenience stores.

Fighting obesity among users of fast food chains is interesting. The paragraph above might be one solution. Dining out seems to be a luxury. The biggest (pun intended) response was to put scales in the eateries. I suspect that the people who eat there would be the last ones to get onto the scales. I suggest that one way to lessen obesity is to avoid the fast food chains.

People said it is much worse for politicians to take bribes than to have extramarital affairs. I agree. The sins of the spirit (i.e., ethics, etc.) are worse than the sins of the flesh. However, I sympathize with the plight of Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Jenny Sanford and Eleanor Roosevelt.

When will Obama bring the troops out of Afghanistan? Probably in time for the next presidential campaign, but maybe in time for the mid-term elections. I believe the people are becoming cynical. It’s likely to be that way. Where is change we can believe in? This is a war we can’t believe in.

Here comes pop culture. Who is the man with whom to trade places for a week? I think I could trade places with George W. Bush for a week and enjoy life on the ranch in Texas, doing nothing except visiting with Laura, Mom and Poppy.
The top responses were Barack Obama, Tom Brady and Bruce Springsteen. Obama has the hardest job in the world and lives with constant barbs against him for his race and his actions. Tom Brady is a professional football player. Who would want to be pounded physically into a life of disability at a young age, even for a week? (He's not Brett Favre, after all.) Bruce Springsteen is a more reasonable choice, but not for me. My father and my husband were celebrities, although on a small scale. Forget it.

Top responses for the women with whom to trade places were Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Beyonce. What? Not Sarah Palin? Not Oprah? Certainly not Lynn Cheney. I could try Barbara Walters or Rachel Maddow.

Maybe all this explains why CBS news didn’t call me to ask these questions.

Friday, September 25, 2009

George McGovern on health care reform

This newspaper article by former Sen. George McGovern is very good. Needless to say, I agree with it. McGovern favors Medicare for all. He points out that the idea is having trouble with congress because the powerful insurance lobby is "too powerful to resist."

In my opinion, as long as insurance companies call the shots, universal access to medical care is not likely to happen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meditation on Aging Plants and People

It’s time to watch the seasons change along the Ice Age Trail and other places. Today the formerly green grasses are yellow and brown, and most of the flowers have faded. Some yellow goldenrod persists, along with different varieties of daisy-like flowers and some purple asters. The berry bush leaves are becoming red. The berries are long gone. Good bye to the riots of July colors.

Today I walked from county PD to the soccer park in Verona, the part of the Ice Age Trail nearest my home. I have enjoyed watching the spring turn to summer, and now the summer turning to fall. The panoramic view shows it off well.

It’s cool and humid after yesterday’s three-plus inch rainfall. Today we have clouds but no rain.

There is a parallel of this with my class reunion last weekend. We graduated fifty years ago. The beauties and studs were there, and some were long past their prime. Others persisted in health and vigor. When asked how they were, some of them counted off their diseases. One said she is dating and having a great time. She said the same thing fifty years ago. We have more widows now, and more replaced knees. I was glad to see them all, just as I was glad to walk among fading plantlife on the prairie.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cat update

It's a great day for my cat Sasha. Not only did she have her first birthday in August, but also today she overcame her jumping disability and jumped up onto the kitchen counter in one direct leap. Then after I congratulated her, she did it again. I understand that most cats jump onto many surfaces, but before today Sasha only got to counter level by first jumping onto a stool or something else halfway up.

It's not that I want her on my kitchen counter. It's just that I have wondered what was wrong. Daughter Mary suggested that she has a problem with depth perception, and that might be it. She had no trouble making the jump today. Maybe she spent the last six months calculating it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Julie and Julia

Today I saw the movie Julia and Julia. I rarely go to movies, so it wasn’t just something to do. I liked the movie. No sex and violence. Positive messages of achievement delivered by people who actually love each other. That must make it a chick movie. The draw for me was that it is about Julia Child.

The short Isthmus review gives a taste of what the movie is like: “Julie (Amy Adams) cooks her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, while, in a parallel story, Child herself (Meryl Streep) finds her vocation as a chef. Adams is an irritant, but Streep’s half is irresistible.” I didn’t find Adams irritating, and I found Streep very like Julia Child as I remembered her. The movie is based on two related true stories.

The matinee show was sparsely attended by women and one man.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care

It isn't health care any more. It's medical insurance.

I agree with a quote from this story: "Leaving private insurance companies the job of controlling the costs of healthcare is like making a pyromaniac the fire chief." --Rep. Anthony Weiner, Democrat, New York.

This isn't change we can believe in.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blackberries Again

The wild blackberry season continues. With rain yesterday and this morning, plenty of newly ripe berries are on the bushes. That’s right. I was out there picking again. Since the blackberry pie is gone, I looked for another interesting way to eat blackberries.

Yesterday’s batch of berries went into a dessert I found in a cookbook and modified due to quantity, substitute thickener due to not stocking arrowroot, and my jellybag being jettisoned about twenty years ago. I discovered this new way to use blackberries in Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, edited by Charles Gerras (New York, MJF Books, 1984). I made it yesterday while it was raining. When it rains for a long time in summer, it’s time to cook.

I found the dessert as presented not sweet enough even for my not so sweet standards, so when eating it, I stirred a small amount of additional sugar into it. That made it quite palatable. This morning I tried a new way to improve it. I stirred what was left first and then folded some Cool Whip topping into it, which made it very good. I don’t know about its keeping qualities, since I ate it on the spot. I noticed that a small amount was enough to satisfy me. I don't stand behind Cook Whip as a nutritious product, but used it anyway.

Don’t get excited about the jellybag part. A satisfactory result comes with straining the cooked berries with a colander, and then sending the resulting juice through a finer strainer to get rid of the seeds that made it through the colander. If you want pure, uncloudy juice, find your jellybag. It’s not difficult to make this, especially if you have time on your hands.

Crimson Classic
(including my revisions)

2 cups fresh red fruit (I used blackberries)
1 ¾ cups water
1/3 cup honey
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine fruit and water in a stainless steel or enameled 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain juice through a muslin cloth or bag, or use a colander and strainer. Combine honey and cornstarch with a small amount of cooled berry juice. Gradually add juice, stirring to combine. Cook over low heat until thickened and clear, stirring almost constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl and chill. Serve with whipped cream or whipped topping.

Tomorrow I’ll think of another way to eat blackberries. I’m not ready to make jelly yet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


It’s wild blackberry season. Not everywhere, but where I walk. Every day I see hundreds of them. I can’t pick them all. Fortunately, other people have been picking them, too. So much abundance! I have been picking blackberries for several days. Today I shared some with my neighbor Liz.

There’s nothing quite like the sweet shot of berry flavor in my mouth when I toss a half dozen in. The walk stops and the picking begins. The sun warms the berries and they are delicious. Front teeth chewing only, please, or the seeds will occupy all the barely accessible spaces throughout the back teeth.

Daughters Dori and Mary were here for the weekend, so Dori and I went berry picking Sunday morning. We came back with enough to make a pie, plus plenty more. She makes wonderful pies. She used the standard piecrust instructions from Better Homes and Gardens, along with the recipe for blueberry pie on the Kraft Minute Tapioca box. As she said, blueberry is close enough. And it was.

Blueberry Pie Using Blackberries

4 cups fruit
¼ cup Minute tapioca
1 cup sugar

Mix fruit, tapioca, and sugar in bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pie crust. Fill with fruit mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Cover with top crust. Seal and flute edge. Cut several slits in crust. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven 45 to 50 minutes or until juices form bubbles that burst slowly. Cool.

Thanks to Minute Tapioca for printing the recipe on the box.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Walk on the Hills

Yesterday I had a breezy enjoyable walk along the Military Ridge State Trail, starting in Verona. It’s a good flat former rail bed, so one can walk for a long time without a lot of exertion. Today it was the hilly walk from home to and through the Prairie Ridge Conservation Area. Yesterday the constant breeze modified the effects of the humidity. Today there was no noticeable wind. I thought I had started out early enough to avoid the perspiratory (I think I just invented a word!) (sweaty?) effects of the humidity. No such luck. It was an enjoyable walk anyway.

The way to it goes up the hill on Raymond Road, past the Channel 3 property, left on Muirfield Road and into the little park on the hill. The grass trail behind it then goes through the hilly terrain. The illegal burn there in the spring probably helped the prairie flowers and grasses. They look and smell wonderful.

Walking outside the urban buildup is restorative to the soul. Remember the 23rd Psalm, “He restoreth my soul.” The colorful, abundantly alive country spaces remind us that we don’t own ourselves or the environments we inhabit. When we use them, we can enjoy a little bit of heaven while God restores us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wisconsin Library Censorship Issue on CNN

It's big time for censorship issues at the West Bend Public Library. When CNN reports on it, it has to be big.

Libraries are responsive and responsible to their publics, and it is not unusual for people to push strongly for the kind of materials to which they think their children should not be exposed. These people often believe that their opinions are shared by everyone. As this situation shows, it isn't so. Solutions that appear reasonable to some seem like censorship to others.

As a former library director, I saw parents with varying points of view on what is acceptable for children of any age. Libraries usually do their best to present balanced views. With fiction for teens, often demand drives collection development, as it does with television viewing or Internet usage. There's a lot more sexual content and pornography available to everyone on the Internet than one will find in the library.

My sympathy goes to Michael Tyree, Director of the library at West Bend, and the library board there. It's not fun when the library is attacked.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite died a few days ago. He was a great broadcast journalist. Michael Jackson died almost a month ago. He was a great entertainer. Cronkite got some well deserved publicity, but not nearly as much as Jackson. It continues to puzzle me that people prefer entertainers to great people, especially entertainers who seem bizarre.

The Capital Times has this commentary on Cronkite.

Cronkite was called the most trusted man in America. "Journalism is what we need to make democracy work," he was quoted in the article.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Maria Shriver Answers Questions.

Many of us know about Maria Shriver as first lady of California, respected former television journalist and member of the very political Kennedy family. She also is a sensitive author of books for children. Some of us push aside books by celebrities as likely to be of poor quality, published only because the author is famous. Other adults have no interest in reading books for children. I suggest that people take a look at these. They are good.

What’s Heaven? (1999) And What’s Happening to Grandpa? (2004). Here are two books by Maria Shriver for children that are totally about family love. They were born from Shriver’s family experiences of death and Alzheimer’s disease. Most of us know the stories of her family’s deaths and illnesses. Here we see these universal experiences explained simply and lovingly, with softly focused pastel illustrations by Sandra Speidel.

Shriver said in an interview recently that she was concerned that as a child she had questions, and children today have questions, so she wrote books that address them at the level of young children. As a Catholic, she stays non-denominational and focuses on uncomplicated concepts of heaven in one book, and dementia in the other.

It’s ok for adults to read kids’ books, for themselves, or to their children or grandchildren. These get to the point, are strong statements of love in families, and they are short. They are in print, available in online bookstores and area libraries.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Potato Chips

Crunch!: a History of the Great American Potato Chip, by Dick Burhans. Terrace Books, a trade imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press, 2008.

Before I started this book, I hadn’t eaten many potato chips and thought they were pretty much alike. I learned otherwise as I read this book. The potato chip origin, mythology and business are all in it. It starts and ends with kettle chips, and spends time on the potato chip wars, where Frito-Lay emerged victorious over the national market. I thought the first half of the book could have been done in ten pages, but didn’t see the second half that way. Who would have known there was so much in making and processing potato chips? Fat is explored here, too, with different fats producing different chip tastes and textures. If you want saturated fat (lard), or trans fats, or vegetable oils, they are available, but not all in the same chip.

A small amount of space is devoted to potato chip nutrition, but potato chip devotees are quoted as saying that if people want nutritious snacks, they aren’t likely to eat potato chips anyway. The small localized chip companies apparently are having some success with chips that aren’t uniform like the national brands, and flavors abound. It’s not your grandmother’s potato chip any more, even if it’s made in a kettle again.

Now I am eating potato chips again and having some appreciation for the uniqueness of the different brands. They’re not all alike.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Food and Memories

Food connects us with memories of people. When I think of some people, I think of the foods they brought into the lives of my brothers and me. Here are some memorable foods and their people in my life.

Cambric tea. What? That was the name of the sugar-water I often sipped with my childhood neighbor, Roberta Brown, on her back porch in Park Ridge. Her mother warmed it up and called it cambric tea. We were pretty young. She was afraid to come to our house because she was afraid of Omar, our St. Bernard. We played dolls and colored in our coloring books for several years.

Chocolate chip cookies and date bread. Who could forget Sweetie Pie’s cookies that awaited us whenever we visited her or she visited us? Sweetie Pie was my maternal grandmother. Her cookies were very good, and the memory probably makes them better. Once when we were older children, she tried store cookie dough on us, but we caught her forging her stellar product. She went back to the originals. She also was famous for date bread. Where would we have been without it?

Pinwheel cookies and chocolate pudding. Delicious. These were Grandma Allen’s specialties. Who could not love them and her? She baked a lot of other things for us, too. When we spent weekends with her in Oak Park, she told us we ate like birds, meaning we didn’t eat enough to satisfy her. She gave us old fashioned cooking. Aunt Lina lived with her after Grandpa died, and I remember Aunt Lina chasing brother Eddy around the house trying to kiss him.

The food memories abound with Father. When he liked a food, he loved it and proclaimed how good it was. He praised cauliflower until I decided it must be good even though I didn’t like it. Father also was fond of beef brains There was no mad cow disease then. He would bring them home from Fritz Ripp’s meat market and fry them immediately with enthusiasm, regardless of what really was on the menu. He brought home a jar of dried grasshoppers once.

At Christmastime we were required to eat lutfisk, which Father cooked; he carried on this tradition for many years. He is the only person I know who liked it. I had to make the horseradish sauce. It was a kind of bonding with him. He also made glogg for three days on the back of the stove during the Christmas season. He was even enthusiastic about dog food, although he didn’t eat it; he simply thought our dogs were lucky to have such good food.

Father’s big claim to fame was the Door County fish boil. He embraced this Door County tradition whole heartedly. When the parents entertained, it often meant having a fish boil outside. My brothers and I were his assistants, so we know how to do it, too. He entertained Governor Warren Knowles with a fish boil in our yard along the bay.

Mother had the good sense to let him do his thing with food. She was the person who cooked normal food for us. She was famous for her recipe program on WDOR, which is probably the longest running radio program in Wisconsin history. It went from 1951, when the station went on the air, to mid 2005, shortly before her death. She was the convenience food queen. She told other people how to cook.

White sauce and muffins. Accolades for these go to Mrs. Robertson, my home economics teacher in 7th and 8th grade. Without her I never would have learned to cook or sew. I think white sauce is the one thing everyone should know how to make. It is flexible enough to work in sauces of all kinds. With cheese melted into it, we had a lot of macaroni and cheese after I was a mother. Mrs. Robertson’s muffin recipe was very good, too. It wasn’t sweet cake like muffins of today.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

amazing church news

It must be a new era if the Vatican actually praises John Calvin.

It's true that Calvin had a powerful influence on Christianity, especially in the United States. The pilgrims were Calvinists, if I remember history correctly. And I like to quote Fr. Samter, who used to say that Plymouth Rock should have landed on the pilgrims instead of the other way around.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Walk in the Prairie

It’s July on the prairie. It’s beautiful. At Governor Nelson State Park the blanket of white, yellow and purple flowers among the green grasses is beautiful. A walk through it is like a walk through heaven. The work of prairie restoration looks like a great success.

It was a great day in the state park. I had the unusual opportunity of observing a pair of sandhill cranes among the grasses from about forty feet away. They didn’t fly away. One sat down among the grasses and became invisible to me. The other ignored me. I loved it.

The beach on Lake Mendota was populated by plenty of children with their accompanying adults. The lake draws kids. A few people were working on their tans.

The weather was perfect, somewhere near eighty degrees. It was mostly cloudy. The humidity was just high enough to bring up the scents of the grasses and flowers. The wild black raspberries were just ripening. I ate a few, without pondering the question of legality of picking anything in a state park. That’s the only time the mosquitoes appeared. Were they guarding the raspberries, or just lurking there in the shade?

With 4th of July fireworks expected tonight, I prefer the prairie.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hugs and Quiches

Quiche is good on a summer day. It’s a choice for ladies’ day out at the local eatery. I enjoyed a very good quiche at the bookstore in Milton about a year ago. (Yes, bookstores and quiche are good combinations.) Quiche is easy to make at home.

What is a quiche? Here it is from the Wiktionary. For anyone who is confused, the Wiktionary is a companion to the Wikipedia. Did you think it might be a dictionary?
"quiche (plural quiches)
A pie made primarily of eggs and cream in a pastry crust. Other ingredients such as chopped meat or vegetables are often added to the eggs before the quiche is baked. "

So much more is left to be said. Quiche is very wonderful. It can almost melt in one’s mouth. It is a pie, a custard, and a way to use eggs creatively. As a pie or custard it isn’t sweet. As a way to use eggs, it is delicious, and after the egg nutrition controversy of a few years ago, probably nutritious. Yes, it’s full of cholesterol, but steak is too. For more on the cholesterol controversy, and it is a controversy, go to the Internet.

I really like the following quiche. I prefer to omit the crust due to my bias against white flour, and sometimes I reduce it to two-thirds of the recipe. Here I present it as Better Homes and Gardens gives it. Please note that it requires no exotic ingredients, just ingredients most of us already have at home.

Choose-a-Flavor Quiche (serves 6)

Pastry for single-crust pie
3 beaten eggs
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup sliced green onions
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Dash ground nutmeg
¾ cup chopped cooked chicken, crabmeat or ham
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack or Havarti cheese (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Oven 450 degrees.

Prepare pastry for single-crust pie. [or buy one]
Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes more or till pastry is nearly done. Remove from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together eggs, milk, onion, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in chicken, crabmeat or ham. Toss together shredded cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture. Mix well.

Pour egg mixture into hot pastry shell. Bake in the 325 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Let stand for 10 minutes.

From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Des Moines, IA, Meredith Corporation, 1989.

I omitted the Quiche Lorraine variation and the Individual Quiche Casseroles at the end of the original recipe. The library has the book. Go and read it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Political Feeding Frenzy

The most amazing but not surprising feeding frenzy is now going on about Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina. He disappeared to Argentina to continue an affair with a woman there who is not his wife. The media people appear to be thrilled and can’t stop talking about it.

Harry Smith commented this morning on television, “Ho hum.” I agree with him.

I make two points here: (1) The ongoing news reporting about some very personal aspects of his indiscretion is being overdone, possibly at the expense of some other important news; (2) politicians have personal lives in addition to political lives, and in the US they seem to get intertwined, but I say let’s let them get on with their political lives.

I never heard of Sanford before yesterday, and I don’t care if he is a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. I have some sympathy for his wife after seeing the text of his romantic emails to the other woman. Maybe he should have remembered that email can be read by the world. Unfortunately, last night Keith Olbermann on MSNBC appeared to thoroughly enjoy showing this email peep show to the world. That was bad taste.

An interesting interpretation of the news about Sanford and others is in this morning’s Yahoo News.

Here is what the article pointed out after naming plenty of political names (quoted from the article):

"There's also a clue in the kind of people drawn to politics.
These are men who love themselves deeply, need to be recognized and relish approval. These are men who adore getting praise and who often are surrounded by swarms of sycophants. These are men who, in some cases, need to exercise power and sometimes can become drunk from it. These are men who think the rules don't apply to them and who think they're untouchable.
As leaders, these are also the type of men who are likely to break promises, manipulate and cut corners. They probably are big risk-takers. And they're prone to thinking of themselves first."

So what else is news in the world of politics besides sex? Let’s get on with it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today is Rick's and my 47th wedding anniversary. It feels kind of strange and not celebratable with him gone. We never celebrated it much even when he was alive. Oh, well...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Island Report

I am vacationing at Washington Island. It’s great to be able to stay as long as I want to. The weather has been warm with occasional clouds. Somewhat like life. The lake water is several inches higher than it has been for several years, almost up to the shore. Some of us remember where the shore ought to be. Thanks to Gordon’s North Star Realty for the photo of the cottage.

I arrived Friday in time to take myself out for fish at Karly’s. I greeted Tim on behalf of Eddy. I visited with Ray and Barbara Hansen after finishing my dinner, and met one of their sons. Until now I had met only Dan. One thing about Washington Island is that everyone knows everyone.

Saturday I mowed the lawn. The grass was a foot high over the plumbing mound. I wished that Danny had mowed it last weekend when he was here. The old push power mower isn’t very efficient in high grass. It also gives new meaning to the words Heavy Metal. I’m not very efficient in tall grass, either. I am thinking that I should get a weed whacker for some not very level areas.

Sunday I went to the Lutheran Church and then had lunch with Phyllis Ellefson and Peg Sullivan at K.K. Fiske. Phyllis and Peg eat lunch every Sunday and invited me to come with them. The sermon was a Powerpoint report on the parish’s trip to New Orleans, where the attendees helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Those people who sweat here when it gets up to eighty degrees were very hot there where it was in the nineties and very humid.

Sunday afternoon I visited the Art and Nature Center, viewed the annual art exhibit, and visited with Laura Waldron, who told me about her daughter’s eating disorder. Their list of programs for kids isn’t created yet.

Of course I have been walking. The daisies, columbine, orange and yellow hawkweed and buttercups are blooming. A few wild strawberries are ready to eat, but most aren’t ripe yet. Spring came late this year. I found two stalks of wild asparagus. That seems to be late also. The poison ivy is doing well. The insects are thriving, also, especially the mosquitoes. Four deer were observed today.

Tonight Bread and Water, the restaurant across the road from Mann’s Store, is having a Thai dinner, and I plan to take part. They had one last Monday and ran out of food, so their suggestion is to get there early.

That’s Washington Island, a very enjoyable and talkative place. I have decided to return home Wednesday instead of Tuesday. Sometime soon I will report on my six day bus trip to South Dakota, which was earlier in June.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More About Hormones

The medical community has been trashing Oprah Winfrey and Suzanne Somers for their support of bio-identical hormones for menopause. See a previous post on my blog for some information. Now Dr. Mercola gives it his opinion, which gives some facts to counter the opinions in the article in Newsweek.

It is a rather long piece but I think it is worth reading. It appears that the conventional medical people are pretty unhappy with the Oprah programs about alternative medicine. I’m with Oprah and Suzanne.

I wish they had also talked about bio-identical hormones for hypothyroidism.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Oprah, Suzanne Somers and Hormones

There has been a brouhaha lately about a recent program on the Oprah Show, in which actress Suzanne Somers talked about how wonderful she feels after taking bio-identical hormones for post-menopause symptoms. This week’s Newsweek has an article that slams the show and the Somers point of view.

Now here is another commentary from Dr. Mercola’s blog. It points out that one of the writers of the anti-Somers, anti-Oprah article has authored a book on hormones (presumably not bio-identical), and Newsweek has drug companies as advertisers. It’s hard to be objective with these other interests, in my opinion.

The blog posting is here, along with a link to the Newsweek article.

I watched the Oprah Show that is discussed in the article and blog posting, and I found it interesting. I think the Newsweek article doesn’t do justice to it; to me it had an angry tone. I need to remind myself that Newsweek and other news magazines do a lot of interpretation and commentary, and less news reporting than they once did. Suzanne Somers might even be right. In any case, she started the therapy because she felt very unwell (she documents this in her books), and now she says she feels great.

I feel fine without bio-identical menopause hormones, but I don’t condemn others for making choices that make them feel better, if they are safe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another Walk in the Park

Yesterday the Ice Age Trail. Today Elver Park. It’s a great time to be walking, with seventy-degree temperatures.

Elver Park has beautiful blossoms at this time of year. The flowering crabs are finished, as are the invasive garlic mustard blossoms that promise many more in the future. The black raspberry blossoms are turning into baby berries. Other blossoms have taken their turn.

Today Elver Park has two floral experiences. The park has two hills of woods separated by a lower grassy area that contains recreational spaces. At this time of year the interesting parts of the park are in the woods. Each side is different. As I walked through the woods at the north end, I found more wild geraniums than one could ever hope to see scattered through the shady pathway. It was very beautiful.

Coming out onto the grass, I looked across at the south hillside and saw a spectacular white or off-white expanse of flowering locust trees, all facing north. Lots of tall mature locust trees, going up the hillside. This hillside provides wonderful views of fall color later in the year for people who drive by on McKenna Boulevard. Today they can see the flowers.

The irony is that when I was walking up the trail on that hill, I couldn’t see any of the locust blossoms. They were all high above my head in the ceiling of greenery that is the woods.

There is plenty to enjoy on the ground, too. The bursting of green life that is everywhere except under the shady tall pines is reassuring that our planet is still regenerating itself even in our parks, with some help from the Almighty.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Orange Sauce

Orange Sauce

Here is the orange sauce mentioned in the previous post…

3 tablespoons butter.
Stir in until browned:
4 tablespoons flour
Stir in slowly:
1 1/3 cups stock (I used chicken broth)
Season with:
Salt and paprika.
Keep the sauce hot over hot water.
Shortly before serving add:
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2/3 cup hot orange juice
2 tablespoons sherry.

The cookbook calls this orange sauce for game, but I found it very good with grilled chicken. Due to not having all ingredients on hand, I substituted the red wine in my cupboard for the sherry, and I omitted the orange rind. I also deviated by adding a few squirts of Tabasco.

The sauce is not strongly orange flavored, but has a good fruity influence.

From: Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, The Joy of Cooking (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1952). The Foreword gives background for this edition: “The first ‘Joy,’ a modest volume, was published privately in 1931….In 1936 the Bobbs-Merrill Company brought out an enlarged and revised edition of my timidly launched maiden effort and this was followed by a second enlarged and revised edition in 1943. A new edition is now before you.”

On the Patio Slab

Now that it is June, we are finally having weather that sends us outside. Yesterday I walked six miles on the Military Ridge State Trail. This afternoon I spent an hour sitting on the slab that the condo builders decreed was sufficient as an outdoor space. No humidity-induced discomfort, few insects, a bit of breeze. A cloudy day provided little sunshine. Very good.

I watched the gophers and chipmunks scampering among the boulders of their in-ground condo that hold up the terrain between our condo buildings. A few gopher holes are near my patio, so we are providing underground housing for the new generation. Rabbits live in our yard, as do birds.

While I was enjoying the local wildlife, I was looking through one of my four editions of The Joy of Cooking. Today’s selection, a revision of the 1931 edition, was published in 1952. In 1952 people cooked with real food. The real food included a section about many kinds of sauces made with real ingredients, and a small selection of sauces made from canned ingredients. I decided to try an orange sauce on the chicken I planned to have tonight. This part of the chapter went on to present recipes for fruits with meats. I must admit that I haven’t spent my life trying apples stuffed with sauerkraut, baked cranberries made with fresh cranberries, fried bananas, or boiled kumquats.

Then I looked at salads. It began with a commentary about a scene in a medieval play, and a quote from Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop, both about salad, but more about salad culture than about how to make salad. Author Rombauer lamented the acceptance of “ready-made salad dressing.” After a page and a half of commentary, she got to the business of making salad. Some of us remember commercial salad dressings even in 1952.

There is a lot more in The Joy of Cooking, and it has changed over the years. I still love the old cookbooks. Somehow the activity of small rodents and the fun of reading an old cookbook went together on the patio. Rachael Ray, eat your heart out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day and Others

Yesterday was Memorial Day. The national holiday exists as a way to formally remember dead members of the American armed forces of all wars. The New York Times Almanac says that it honors soldiers fallen in battle, dating from the civil war. In real life it honors dead people even if they survived the wars.

This holiday has become a time to wave flags, have parades, decorate graves, and, yes, honor our military dead, whether dead from battle or other causes. I am glad that the city of Madison honored Rick as a veteran of the Korean war, along with others who served in the military, although I did not go to the ceremony. I did stop to visit the graves of my parents and grandmother in Sturgeon Bay.

Since I was on the road yesterday with the radio tuned to my favorite radio station (WDOR), I listened to a program that gave rise to the thought that maybe some of us are mixing the national holiday with religious sentiment. The program, Heroes, was a well performed musical and spoken tribute to some people who did good things in their lives and were, therefore, heroes. Most of the program was music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Not surprisingly, the program was produced in Salt Lake City.

I enjoyed the music but was a bit troubled about the question of blurring separation of church and state in honor of this holiday. They sang America the Beautiful and Amazing Grace, along with some others. One of the Heroes was someone who became a pastor or minister.

It’s interesting to me that Memorial Day, in some places, has religious overtones while being a national, not religious, holiday. And vice versa. So much for separation of church and state.

We blur the line for other national holidays, most notably Thanksgiving Day, when we give thanks for plenty of food and other things. Some churches have Thanksgiving Day services, even though it is a national holiday that remembers the early settlers surviving their colonization and bringing in their first harvest. The mythology brings in some happy Indians who help celebrate. This day is a day of prayer and feasting in celebration mostly about how wonderful our early settlers were to give us this bountiful nation. The native Americans may have a different view of this day.

I think the most pointless of our national days is St. Patrick’s Day. It is religious, political and social all in one. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Somehow the entire United States has adopted St. Patrick, with Irish stew, green clothes, green beer, green rivers, and parades. To me it makes little sense except in church. The second most pointless day is Groundhog Day. Who really cares about the myth about the weather? It's all fun. Fun is ok, but should we have a holiday for it?

Some holidays are Christian but have secular expressions. Christmas and Easter are both religious and secular. Just think about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Do rabbits lay colored eggs? Even the President does Easter with an egg hunt annually on the White House lawn.

A little more than a week ago we had Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday of May. I didn’t notice anyone celebrating that. And National Maritime Day was May 22. Missed that one, too. National Teacher Day was the Tuesday of the first full week in May, May 12. We could honor teachers by giving better funding to education for all ages. Of course we all celebrated Mother’s Day May 10, a day that Rick called a Hallmark holiday because it increased greeting card business.

There are others. The mythology just hasn’t caught up with me yet.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trouble in the Neighborhood

Here’s news about my neighborhood, or areas near my address:

I have seen the kids, but not heard the shots. I volunteer at the Meadowridge library but wasn’t there for the shooting. I have seen the police standing around the shopping center regularly after school. That’s near my neighborhood. At the other end of my neighborhood, off McKenna Blvd., I haven’t seen or heard much, but my bike was stolen from our locked condo garage in one of two breakins last year. I got the bike back, thanks to reporting it stolen and the police following up. They said it probably was kids from nearby, but they hadn’t been able to catch them. There had been other breakins.

Is this part of Madison any more or less safe than other parts of the city, or other communities? I also saw stuff like this while at at my library job in Edgerton. There seems to be widespread parental/babysitter disregard for what some kids are doing. I think the new neighborhood center at the Meadowood shopping center is a step in the right direction. I love the kids but not what they are doing.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reasonable Medical Care For All?

The Capitol Times and YouTube comment: the hearings on medical care for Americans have excluded people who want single payer care while welcoming the for profit medical industry. Is this Change We Can Believe In?

Read on....

Here is another example of how the American system of “health” insurance fails people. If they can't afford the insurance, they can have dire consequences.

Friday, May 1, 2009


These are logos. How many can you identify?

Branding is everywhere in the business and nonprofit world. In addition to visual logos, branding has long included catchy slogans to remind everyone that businesses are here to serve you, er, make money by helping you remember them.

Below is today’s quiz. How many of these slogans can you identify with the correct businesses?

1. I’m lovin’ it.

2. Always low prices. Save money, live better.

3. I’m thinkin’ Arby’s.

4. Eat fresh.

5. My life, my style, my store.

6. What can brown do for you?

7. Save big money at Menard’s.

8. Finger lickin’ good.

9. Live like you mean it.

10. Shop the pig.

Answers: (1) McDonald’s. (2) Walmart, 2 slogans. (3) Arby’s. duh. (4)Subway. (5) Shopko. (6) UPS United Parcel Service. (7) Menard’s. duh again. (8) KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken. (9) Wisconsin Tourism. (10) Piggly Wiggly.

These slogans are effective. Sometimes we remember these little phrases for many years. I remember from the past, “There’s a Ford in your future”, “The gift that keeps on giving” (was it Westinghouse?), “It cleans your breath while it cleans your teeth” (toothpaste), “You deserve a break today” (McDonald’s), “For those who think young”(Pepsi), and many more.

Some slogans tell us something about the product, such as “Save big money” and “Always low prices.” They suggest that the products are affordable. Others appeal to the emotions, such as “Finger lickin’ good” and “I’m lovin’ it.” Still others tell you something about the business, such as “Eat fresh,” and “My life, my style, my store.” Then there are some odd ones that must work but I don’t think they tell us much. What do we get from “What can brown do for you” other than that they use the brown color as part of branding? “Live like you mean it” is the new Wisconsin tourism slogan, and I think they could have said something better, like “Escape to Wisconsin,” the old slogan.

Our family radio station, WDOR in Sturgeon Bay (, has had its slogans over the years. It was “the voice of cherryland”, and “the big sound”. Now it is “The heart of the Door Peninsula.”

It’s time for a new look and sound statement for the station. The sailboat has been around for a long time. The station specializes in local information and sports. In our changing world, slogans come and go. Ours will, too. “Don’t you love radio? Don’t you wish everybody did?” That sounds a lot like Dial soap.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My cat

This is my cat Sasha. She is named after Sasha Obama, who is a cute kid, too. Sasha Obama also is dark colored like my cat but doesn't have stripes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reading for Fun

Why is it a sin to read for fun?

This unbelievable title goes with an article in the April 20 Newsweek. It is unbelievable because as a librarian I know that millions of people read for fun, and it’s ok.

The article is about reading for pleasure as seen through various quoted people, most notably Jodi Picoult and her followers. Picoult has had sixteen books published, and she has a substantial fan base. The article says that fiction reading is increasing among young adults, the 18 to 24 crowd, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. The article goes on to say, “…the news was reported by literary blogs and arts journals with throat-clearing about what kinds of books these young adults are reading.”

The article says the judgment is, “All books are good for you…some are just better than others.” It calls this the ‘gateway drug’ theory of literature, that people will naturally want to read harder, deeper texts after starting with enjoyable fiction. It further points out that Picoult knows she won’t win a Pulitzer Prize because her writing is popular.

Are we a nation of puritanical readers? When did pleasure reading become something to be ashamed about? Novels have become mainstream. Many are actually about something. This literary form has been around for a long time. Jane Austen fans will remember her book from a couple of hundred years ago, Northanger Abbey, which is in part a commentary on the gothic novels that were popular among young women of her day.

Gateway drug? Really, it’s time to put aside the negative judgments about today’s novels. It’s ok to read Jodi Picoult, Danielle Steel and vampire novels. I’m not so sure about hard core porn fiction. One decade’s bad taste can become respected literature later. I have trouble believing that Harry Potter will lead to the reading of pornography.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream

Here is another goodie from a cookbook written in a different era. The ice cream tastes good, although you need to beat it a lot. It doesn’t require the ice cream freezer that most ice cream recipes of today require.

My comments about it: Hardly anyone knows about top milk any more because it is what you get at the top of the bottle of unhomogenized whole milk. If you buy unhomogenized milk, do what I did: shake it up in the bottle and then measure it. When it says use a refrigerator dessert tray, no one knows what these are, either, because they pre-date the freezers that everyone now has; I used a small 7x9 inch baking pan. Where it says freeze with control dial set at coldest, just put it into your freezer. I think 20-25 minutes is not long enough to freeze the ice cream at the end. I let it freeze overnight.

Unfortunately, the white corn syrup that we buy now contains some high fructose corn syrup in addition to the original corn syrup. I used it anyway. The recipe has a variant spelling for syrup, which is why I typed it sirup.

Economy Ice Cream

2 eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons white corn sirup
1 cup top milk -- I used whole milk
1 cup light cream -- I used heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg yolks, sugar and corn sirup until thick and lemon colored. Add milk, cream, flavoring. Pour into refrigerator dessert tray. Freeze until firm with control dial set at coldest. Remove to chilled bowl, add unbeaten egg whites, and beat until fluffy. Return to freeze chest for 20 to 25 minutes or until frozen.

This recipe has variations for chocolate, maplenut, peanut brittle, peach and strawberry.

From The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cook Book, prepared under the direction of Julia Kiene (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954). Betty Furness was an actress and consumer advocate a long time ago. I remember seeing Betty Furness regularly on the Today Show many years ago. According to the preface in this very good book, she wasn’t much of a cook, so she teamed up with Julia Kiene of Westinghouse, who could cook.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Things My Father Taught Me -- the Top Ten

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He would be 99 years old. When we were kids, we called him Poppy (not to be confused with Poppy Bush). He was extremely influential in my life and one of my heroes. So in honor of his birthday, here’s to Ed Allen, Jr., who showed that the American dream can really happen. Well, maybe not any more, but in the last century. He taught me:

1. Enjoy the outdoors. He showed us how to love ice skating in winter, being in the woods in summer, and outdoor cooking before charcoal and gas grills were commonplace. He loved our cottage properties first at Clark’s Lake and later at Washington Island. He had a series of boats over the years. He and I used to eat our lunch on the water during the summer when I was a teenager working at WDOR.

2. Be good to animals. He loved Omar the St. Bernard and Clancy the springer spaniel. He buried them with their rugs on the WDOR property, where trees are growing over them. He also kept some pheasants in a cage in the attic above our garage on the bay shore. He had ongoing wars with squirrels that tried to help themselves to the goodies in his bird feeders, but he didn’t hurt them. He just tried to thwart them.

3. All the interesting reading is found outside school. He raised me on cartoons in The New Yorker and stories by Damon Runyon. Dick, Jane and Baby Sally couldn’t compete with that. Neither could anything else we had to read in school until I discovered at the University that there was a lot of good stuff out there. Quite possibly this is a commentary on the teaching we received in school.

4. Save some of your money. He gave us Savings Bonds before we knew what they were. He encouraged us to contribute to our savings accounts. He was a product of the Great Depression, so he didn’t waste much.

5. You can do anything if you aspire to it, and you should excel in what you do. He started with just desire and made it big in Chicago broadcasting, then left NBC in 1951 to start his own radio station and other allied businesses. He started radio stations in Sturgeon Bay and Manitowoc, both still in existence, and with Mother started a very successful Door County guidebook that still is published under other ownership. He started the Cherry Train, a tour train that still operates on Washington Island after more than thirty years. He tried other entrepreneurial enterprises. He knew what he wanted to do and how to get there. He told us that we could do it, too. He encouraged me to draw and paint and praised my artwork to others. He wanted me to be the best artist in Door County. I didn’t accomplish that.

6. Develop and use your talent. He raised us on the parable of the talents, and he meant it. He never understood people who had little motivation. He used his speaking talent to rise in NBC radio and then operate his own radio business.

7. Don’t compromise your integrity. He was honest with his family, friends, business acquaintances and employees. He expected integrity from them, too. I never asked him how he came to grips with the Watergate affair and President Nixon’s resignation, since he had great respect for Nixon. It had to be difficult. The picture of the two of them shaking hands didn’t stay on the wall.

8. Family matters. Honor your family and care for them when they need it. We moved in with Grandma Allen in Oak Park for a few months when we were between houses and Grandpa had died. Father and Mother brought both their mothers to live in Sturgeon Bay as they aged, so we would all be near each other as needed. We all drove Grandma Allen and Aunt Lina to church on Sundays for quite a few years, although we went to a different church. He also loved Mother and they had a very good marriage.

9. Have a relationship with God and mean it. He was strong on attitude about going to church. He had difficulty with our little Episcopal Church in Sturgeon Bay after we moved there, and he took us to several other churches in hope of finding a good match with his belief system. In the end he stayed with the Episcopal Church. He wasn’t about to put up with a faith that he didn’t believe. He criticized some people for going to church for business reasons.

10. Influence the political process. Being in the radio business was a help, because he scheduled ongoing political events and discussions for broadcast. One of my early memories of WDOR was the broadcast of the Army-McCarthy hearings with Senator Joe McCarthy. Regular reports from Senator Proxmire were broadcast for years. Other broadcasts gave people the opportunity to follow politics. He served as Door County Republican Chairman for several years. While I am not a Republican, he taught me that the political process is important.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chocolate Chip Bars

My tasting panel in my test kitchen, Laura and Ian, said they did not like these bars with nuts in them. I think the nuts make them really good. You don’t have to use nuts. The recipe may be doubled.

Chocolate Chip Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped nuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Stir flour, baking powder and salt together. Melt butter. Add brown sugar, egg and vanilla, then dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Last add nuts and chocolate chips. Put in greased 8 inch square baking pan. Bake about 25 minutes. Cut when cool.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Age Quiz Benefits Drug Companies

Today’s New York Times has a story about an age quiz. The link to the story is The article begins: “Americans yearn to be young. So it is little wonder that RealAge, which promises to help shave years off your age, has become one of the most popular tests on the Internet. “

What will we fall for next? This is a brilliant marketing scheme that benefits the drug companies. People like us unwittingly take the age quiz without knowing that our answers are being used. The drug companies look at people’s answers and market drugs to the people, based on their answers.

By doing promotions like this, I believe that the drug companies spread anxiety about real or imagined medical conditions. People are interested in how long they will live. According to the article, Dr. Mehmet Oz, featured regularly on the Oprah Show, is on the payroll of RealAge, so people are likely to think the quiz must be okay.

Do I think this is good for people? No. I think this is another way for the drug companies to make money. I believe that we already are bombarded with advertising from drug companies without this, too, especially since it appears that the people who take the age test do not know that their answers will be used by the drug companies. It looks like deception to me.

I believe that we are being overdosed and overprescribed now. I say beware.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fluoridation News and Opinion

Fluoridation in municipal water supplies is in the news. Why do I care? It affects me. I do not support dosing the entire population with a substance that is available elsewhere than in the water supply for people who want it. And I question whether government should be putting anything in the water supply that could have a negative effect on the entire population.

The community of Poynette made the news in the last few days because of its controversial decision to stop fluoridating its municipal water last summer. Some people object to that decision. An article by Bill Lueders in the March 20, 2009, Isthmus, points out that over time people have contacted the city of Madison questioning its fluoridation. According to the article, Madison did a study in January, and concluded that fluoridation is good and “there is no harm in fluoridating our water supply.” The article quotes Tom Heikkinen, Water Utility general manager on this, who says, “This is a public policy decision that should be made by elected officials.” The study’s conclusion is that the practice is safe. I believe they are referring to fluoride’s safety in its role in slowing down tooth decay. Heikkinen doesn’t say what he means by “safe” in the article.

Reports say that fluoride taken in excess is poison. Fluoride intake can be excessive due to being ingested in various ways, such as city water, toothpaste, soda made with fluoridated water, and swimming in pools filled with fluoridated water. Fluoride has been reported to cause hip fractures. My concern is the mostly unreported reports about fluoride and impairment of thyroid functioning. They don’t seem to be talking about that.

An authority on the subject of fluoride and thyroid function is Mary Shomon, author of the website , and author of Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You...That You Need to Know (HarperResource, 2005), and other books. In the section of the Living Well book, she says, “Fluoride, a common additive to water supplies, a frequent ingredient in toothpaste, and a common treatment given by dentists, is likely one of the reasons behind increased rates of hypothyroidism—and other health concerns—in the United States." (p. 271). She also says, “Some experts and researchers believe that fluoride is in part the reason for near-epidemic levels of hypothyroidism in the United States. Fluoride has been used for decades as an effective anti-thyroid medication to treat hyperthyroidism, and was frequently an effective treatment at levels below the current 'optimal' intake of 1 mg/day. This is due to the ability of fluoride to mimic the action of thyroid-stimulating hormone. The more fluoride circulating, the more the body thinks there is TSH circulating, which shuts down the thyroid, making it less active." (p. 273).

Enter the blogosphere. The Daily Page, the online presence of Isthmus, has an ongoing conversation that I find very interesting, with various points of view from intelligent to absurd. It is at The discussion points to some sources that apparently the Madison Water Utility people did not consider. I offer them as informational, not necessarily the last word on the issue. Try, called Fluoride News Tracker; or

Flouridation may be legal, and safety is a big question. Another question is whether government should be permitting water to be adulterated with fluoride, or, as has been proposed elsewhere, statin drugs to control cholesterol whether needed or not. What is to stop us from putting other substances into the water, such as drugs to pacify us into not acting on civic issues, or anything else that might control society by chemical means?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

food production news

Here is a news story about inspections of food production plants. It appears that it is remotely possible that we may have some improvement. Can we hope?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Things My Mother Taught Me -- the Top Ten

This list begins with early childhood and progresses with my age. In some cases I didn’t follow her advice very well if at all.

1. Don’t push your little brother down the stairs.
My mother stopped me just in time.

2. Don’t go out in the street alone.
Again, this is about my little brother. He was hit by a car when he was very small. He lived. We were glad.

3. Be polite.
My mother required me to recite a special saying when she thought I was being loud, rude and obnoxious. I recited it obnoxiously. It was not effective. I give her credit. She tried.

4. Take care of your own pets.
Mother thought pets were ok, but she made it clear that she would not take care of them. My turtles died rather quickly, and my goldfish lasted quite a while. I remember our tadpole cemetery next to the back porch on Iowa Street. I didn’t have to take care of the dogs because they belonged to everyone in the family.

5. Do well in school.
School was easy for me so this was no problem, but it was important. As I remember it, my mother bribed my brother to get good grades, but I had no such incentive. Was that fair? Later in my life at the University, getting good grades became a problem because I discovered a really great social life.

6. Cook with convenience foods.
Mother was the convenience food queen. She brought home the first boxed dehydrated mashed potatoes to ever come off the assembly line. She fed us canned beef stew and even canned chicken pies before frozen chicken pot pies were available. She fed us frozen vegetables before the neighbors knew they existed. Mother had a double identity. At work she was broadcasting a cooking show, and at home she was giving us early forms of junk food. Needless to say, she lived to be 92.

7. Use labor saving devices as soon as they are on the market.
Mother was not fond of household chores, so she was ahead of everyone else in dealing with them. She had early models of the automatic washer, dryer, chest freezer, electric broiler, steam iron, microwave oven, and more. Her chest freezer dated back to the 1940s. Look at item number 8 to see who used all these things.

8. Have someone clean your house so you will have time to do more interesting things.
The cleaning lady came along with all those labor saving devices. We didn’t have enough money to pay for the twelve-cent movie matinee, but Mother had the cleaning lady. In those days most moms stayed at home and did their own cleaning, so having the cleaning lady was a good idea. Our mother went to work every day and stayed there a long time. She had some inconsistencies. I remember that Mother decided that I needed to learn to iron my clothes when I was in fifth grade. That was not a pleasant day. I agree with her that many activities are more interesting and fulfilling than cleaning house.

9. Honor and stay connected to your family.
I am very glad that we all love each other. As long as we had parents, we gathered with them as often as we could, and everyone came home to them for Christmas. What a crowd.

10. Follow your dreams.
Mother was a teacher, model, writer, radio personality, community supporter, wife and mother. Teaching and modeling didn’t last long, and she cut short her fiction writing career to jump into the radio business. She wrote radio scripts in the days of radio drama. She had what was probably the longest running radio program in Wisconsin history, a five minute recipe program, five days a week from 1951 to 2005. She created and published a Door County guidebook for many years. She invented the House and Garden Walk in Sturgeon Bay, to benefit the Hospital Auxiliary. The auxiliary gave her two life memberships. How long did they expect her to live? She was a leader among women without being a feminist. She didn’t try to make her children into something we were not. She taught us by example that we can live the lives we choose.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Medical Care Delivery

Is it all in our heads? Are our assumptions about sickness and going to the doctor based on sound science, or something else? Maybe not all of them, but maybe some of them are. What is good health?

Here’s a book that offers something more than the usual approach to the current health care delivery system. Dr. Nortin Hadler expresses little patience with many of the sacred cows of traditional and nontraditional medicine, and offers plenty of evidence for his view that Americans are being overtested and overtreated. It’s called Worried Sick: a Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).

Hadler is a rheumatologist whose field is musculo-skeletal medicine. He is concerned with what he calls overmedicalization, which is policy based on common assumptions perpetrated by doctors and the popular press. Hadler shows that many treatment assumptions result in unneeded interventions and drugs that offer little improvement in patient conditions. He calls it Type II Medical Malpractice – “doctors doing the unnecessary, albeit very well.” This compares with Type I Medical Malpractice, “which is doctors doing the necessary unacceptably poorly.”

Hadler offers a social construction for illness, based on his research into socio-economic status of peoples, not just individuals. And his evidence points to causes of illness in many people due to their situations in society, their families and workplaces. He differentiates illness from disease. He carefully presents his view that people go to the doctor with pains or conditions that would be tolerable if they were in different socio-economic positions. He says in his introduction, and spends the next hundred pages explaining, “Once I educate you, you will be able to go before your physician with such complaints as ‘Doc, I feel awful. Could it be in my mind?’ or ‘Doc, my back is killing me. I can’t figure out why I can’t cope with this episode.’”

His point is to teach well people how to navigate the health delivery system critically. He understands that there are circumstances that require one to go directly to the doctor in order to survive, but that is not the focus of this book. He deals with doctoring for heart disease, stroke, blood pressure and blood sugar issues, cholesterol screening and treatment, aging, metabolic syndrome and more. For example, about metabolic syndrome, he says, “Do you really think that 43 percent of Americans age sixty to sixty-nine should be medicalized as having the Metabolic Syndrome? Could it be that this definition [reported in the book] is nonsense?” Hadler offers a list of treatments for various conditions that he says do not qualify as effective because their benefits are barely measurable.

He gives his solution to the problem. He advocates overcoming “misdistribution and the inconsistencies in the quality of care,” to prevent sickness and heal when prevention fails. He says that first medical treatment must be effective, then of quality, since quality treatment is good only when it helps someone. He wants “rational, not rationed, health care.” He has a plan to finance and carry out his proposition in the United States. It sounds different from what others are saying.

This book is extensively documented and based on much research. Hadler is professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology, and has written other books, including The Last Well Person: How to Stay Well Despite the Health-Care System, which is on the same subject.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Life is better with a pet. With all the hype these days about Barbie’s 50th anniversary, I think a furry cat is much better than a plastic doll. Is there a humane society for Barbie dolls?

Oprah featured her new, very cute shelter cocker spaniel a few days ago. This week’s Newsweek magazine features a story about a shelter dog bringing love into a family. Animals get a chance at life thanks to the humane society.

I have a young shelter cat. She came home with me yesterday. The Dane County Humane Society ( had her until yesterday. They call her a brown/orange tabby mix. I think God designed her coat to look like a Monet painting, with a hint of stripes. She is somewhere between kitten and cat.

There is some mystery about a pet one finds at a shelter. A shelter cat is a different kind of orphan. The mystery is the emotional baggage that comes with the cat once it goes into a home. I know some things about my new cat because she lived with a local vet for quite a while after being hit by a car. I don’t know if she has residual damage from the altercation that isn’t evident.

The Madison area has several places to find shelter animals. Some pet stores feature shelter animals from time to time. I discovered Friends of Ferals and Happy Cat in addition to the humane society. Probably there are other organizations. It all makes getting a great pet an easy event.

Move over, Barbie. Make way for a living companion.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chocolate Musings

Many people like chocolate. It is sold in many shapes and in many places. It can be dark brown, medium brown, or white. It seems to be used mostly for desserts and snacks. Sales of chocolate products have increased greatly in the last hundred years.

I regret to report that chocolate seems to have been ignored in the President’s stimulus plans for the United States. It also is un-American in that it grows in an unprocessed state on plants in other countries. There are no Hershey Bar trees even in Pennsylvania. American companies like Hershey, Mars and Ghirardelli are likely to get their cocoa beans from somewhere else. Some chocolate farms provide a living for their farmers; some don’t. So chocolate has politics.

Today it became obvious to me that my sweet tooth is not as strong as that of many people. Maybe that’s why I am still alive. I love chocolate, but not extremely sweet chocolate. My interest in broadening my taste for chocolate took me to the library, where I checked out a not-very-new book called Taste of Home’s Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook, dated 2003. After reading it and enjoying the photographs, I concluded that this book is aimed at big time sugar consumers. For example, I couldn’t imagine eating Nutty Chocolate Marshmallow Puffs,Four-Chip Fudge, S’mores Crumb Bars, or Really Rocky Road Brownies. I was surprised to learn that there are many ways to make brownies. Brownies can contain coconut, peanut butter, apricots, cherries, caramel and polka dots.

My favorite chocolate recipes are not very elaborate. They do not mainline sugar into my veins, although they are somewhat sweetened. I like dark chocolate bars with 70 percent cacao. Give me my old fashioned brownies from the 1940s, without the frosting, or a good chocolate chiffon pie from my 1953 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I will yield to a newer cookbook for a delicious, sweet and easy-to-make French Silk Pie. It is in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook of 1989. Chocolate contains multitudes.

Here is the sentiment of Taste of Home’s book, which looks like a really good book to read if not actually use. At the beginning, it says, “Well, are you hungry yet? Do you feel a chocolate craving coming on? Then go ahead and get going.” If chocolate is that addictive, Mr. Obama should have addressed it in his stimulus program. It obviously is a stimulant. An alternative is to just go to the store and buy some.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Walk in the Snow

Blue sky and forty degrees today. That meant go out into the snow. The Ice Age Trail is beautiful in winter, beautiful in summer, and slushily beautiful when weather is above freezing in February. I am fortunate to have a segment of the trail on county highway PD near my home.

I was prepared for several scenarios. I took snowshoes, two pairs of boots, and one pair of walking shoes. Also one jacket that proved to be too warm. One look at the parking lot and the trail suggested that I leave the snowshoes in the car. Not enough snow. Too much snow to go without boots.

Trudging up and down hills in slush is work. It also is invigorating. Right away I saw a beautiful springer spaniel walking a man. Then, when farther uphill, I looked over the panorama of city development that is very near the trail, but far away enough to not interfere with the rural character. A small woods provided some variety. Since I didn’t want to slide downhill at the far end of the woods, I turned around and reversed my direction. I walked until the winter coat seemed superfluous. As I said, walking in slush is work.

The high grasses on the fields manifest a great number of colors; some are golden, some are more brown or more gray. It’s winter beauty that often goes unseen. Who cares about grass, especially when it is three feet tall? Apparently I do. The snow is heavy and white, with gray slush. In some places the ground is evident. That’s winter in all its variety and wonderfulness.

You don’t know what the Ice Age Trail is? Go to your favorite search engine and type Ice Age Trail and Wisconsin. Or try this: The trail is part of a national trail system, with many segments in Wisconsin.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Peanuts Recall

I am thinking about peanuts. It appears that the current recall is growing day by day, to include products made with peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut paste coming from the Peanut Corporation of America. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a very long list of affected products. The number of hits in a Yahoo search is very long. Just type in Peanuts Recall.

Recalls due to food borne “bugs” like salmonella and e coli are happening often enough to cause me and others to take notice. We remember the nationwide spinach and hamburger recalls that made the news not long ago. I have read in the news sources that conventional food production by big business isn’t being inspected very often by the FDA because the FDA is underfunded and understaffed. I read that the companies that make the food products are funding the FDA at levels at least as high as or higher than the government funds it. That’s called the fox guarding the henhouse.

Where are this country’s priorities? There are now many ways to make people sick as long as people continue to eat. Once upon a time people could trust the country’s food supply and the agency that oversees it.

I know that some peanutty foods are not contaminated. I can go to the store and buy some peanut butter that is ok if I choose. Not so the nursing home residents and others in institutions. They deserve food that they can trust.

It’s not just peanuts, spinach and hamburger. I read a book some time ago, called Death by Supermarket: the Fattening, Dumbing Down, and Poisoning of America, by Nancy Deville. Part I is called How Factory Food Changed the Way We Lived…and Die. It was published in 2007. Mostly it is about factory, or manufactured, foods that are responsible for the high rate of American obesity, but it also points out causes of food contamination. In the context of factory farming of animals, she says, “According to CDC, each year food-borne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5000 deaths in the United States” (p. 140).

Enjoy your peanut butter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Main Dish Hall of Fame Entree

Our family voted me off the island for this dish, which they unanimously proclaimed the worst main dish they ever ate. This was when we had all five children in residence, before they grew up and never tried it again. My husband voted with them. It’s a vegetarian dish that I like. Maybe I’m the only one in the world.

This dish is a legend for unpalatability, in the opinion of my family. It’s worth immortalizing in this blog because of its bad reputation. It’s right up there with powdered milk as something worth drinking. Remember the Alka-Seltzer commercial that said, “Try it, you’ll like it. So I tried it. Thought I was gonna die.”

As I said, I actually like this. Here it is.

Oats, Tomatoes and Cheese

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup grated cheese (I use cheddar)
1 16-oz. can tomatoes
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram

Save some cheese for the top. Mix all other ingredients in a greased casserole. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees.

Serves 3 or 4.

From Benjamin, Alice, and Corrigan, Harriett, Cooking with Conscience: a Book for People Concerned About World Hunger. Noroton, Connecticut, Vineyard Books, 1975.

Monday, February 2, 2009


This is a shameless reminiscence.

We had three grandparents. The fourth, our maternal grandfather, died before we were born. Grandparents are valuable parts of family life. They have extra clout with Santa Claus, and they offer special relationships to their grandchildren.

Grandpa Allen drove streetcars in Chicago. He saved streetcar pins that we called buttons and gave them to us. He took us for rides in his Reo car. He told me that if he drove slowly enough, the red light at the corner would change to green. I remember him sitting in a chair asleep while being our baby sitter. He had a Swedish accent that made it hard to say my name correctly. After he retired, he got sick and died after about a year. I was eight years old.

The real star of the grandparents was Grandma Allen. She was all love, no matter what we did. Santa Claus brought gifts to her house for us even when he also came to our house. Her chocolate pudding and pinwheel cookies were the best. When we stayed overnight with her, she took us to her church and let us sit in the balcony instead of downstairs. She taught me to crochet three times, and I made a long crochet chain but that’s as far as it went. She had a cocker spaniel named Blondie, who drank coffee with her every morning, using her water dish.

Our family moved in with Grandma Allen in Oak Park after Grandpa died, and we stayed with her for several months until we moved into the duplex in Lincolnwood. After we moved to Sturgeon Bay, we moved her and Aunt Lina, her sister, to Sturgeon Bay. She was thrilled to live long enough to see her first great-grandchild, our first daughter. Grandma was a real saint. She said that dying was going to Glory.

The grandmother on the maternal side was Sweetie Pie. Apparently she preferred to be called something other than Grandma. She was pretty glamorous for her day, with various shades of red hair and stylish dresses. She gave us silver dollars when we visited her. I remember seeing her try to catch a mouse in her apartment in Rochester, MN, and catching it. Later she moved to Chicago to be near us. She worked in music stores. She then lived in Milwaukee for a while, while I was a student at UWM. Later still when she was old we moved her to Sturgeon Bay to be closer to us again.

Holidays with both grandmothers were interesting. Sweetie Pie enjoyed alcohol with my parents, while Grandma Allen was a teetotaler. Those who wanted a drink would sneak one while Grandma Allen wasn’t looking. The two grandmothers were never friends.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Knucklehead -- a Very Funny Book

Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka, by Jon Scieszka. Viking, 2008.

Kids and adults will love this. Knucklehead is a very funny kids’ book about Jon Scieszka growing up with his five brothers. Anyone who has read his many books will expect them to be funny. After starting, you won’t put this one down until you finish it.

He delivers a lot of short, illustrated chapters about the Catholic school, Halloween dress-up, his parents and other things. Several times he talks about his mother leaving every year or two and returning with a new baby brother. There are the games that involve balls and piled up kids, like Slaughter Ball. The babysitter gets tied up with Dad’s ties and put into the closet. The Dick and Jane books of elementary school get a bad rating for being outside reality. Dr. Seuss books score high. He says, “So I guess I didn’t really learn to read by reading about those weirdos Dick and Jane. I learned to read because I wanted to find out more about real things like dogs in cars and cats in hats.” (chapter 11). The book promises an adventure story on its cover, which looks like an issue of an adventure comic book.

Scieszka has written a lot of funny books, including Math Curse, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, the Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, and the Time Warp Trio series. Knucklehead received a starred review in School Library Journal and is a Junior Literary Guild selection. The Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council have named Scieszka the first National Ambassador for Children’s Literature. He founded Guys Read, a non-profit literary organization.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Car Wash

As a newly single person, I noticed that the car was dirty. In fact, it was dirty enough to obscure its color along with the number on the license plate. It really needed attention.

The last time I washed a car, our children who are now over forty were preschoolers, and seventy-five cents paid for a self service car wash in Green Bay. It was before 1970.

I thought about this problem for several days this week before deciding that I had to take care of it, since I could not hand the job off to a husband who was no longer in residence. I could go to the car wash where people actually wash the car, or I could try the self service operation at the gas station. I had no idea how it would work in either place. I wondered what kind of fool I would make of myself at the car wash when I had to do what most guys do on a regular basis.

The occasion presented itself while I was driving along on Park Street. I saw the familiar Octopus sign, so I drove in and said, “Here I am. Now tell me what to do next.” The man told me the list of services and gave me a little ticket. I drove into the steam, where six men suddenly opened the doors and quickly started to clean the interior and exterior, while I looked at them with some amazement. It hadn’t occurred to me that a bunch of guys would move in so fast. I bailed out, went down the hall, paid, and awaited my car.

The job was done well and quickly, and I didn’t have to do anything. What a deal. Except for the part when I couldn’t release the hand brake because the guy who set it was very strong. He had to get back in and release it so that I could get my car out of their shop. I left with some appreciation for the speed of the job. I also decided that the octopus logo is really a description of what happens when the car gets washed. Six guys are sort of like the arms of the octopus.

I hope the car stays clean for a while. It looks very good.