Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Milwaukee Food Tour

A week ago we joined our friends, Laurie and Greg, to sample goodies offered by Milwaukee bakeries and to enjoy stories of ethnic holiday traditions while we rode a big yellow school bus. We were on the "Christmas Around Milwaukee Bakery Bus Tour" sponsored by Milwaukee Food Tours.

We started out at Stone Creek Coffee. Coffee beans from all over the world are imported and roasted at the factory store at 422 N. 5th St. 
Stone Creek Coffee is located across from Milwaukee's Intermodal Station.
The building was designed by Burnham and Root, who also designed the
1893 Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) in Chicago.
I'm sipping a cup of Stone Creek coffee in front of the wall that shows all of the
coffees that Stone Creek roasts and blends.
Our next stop was at the East Side Ovens in the Bay View neighborhood. Our friend, Greg, grew up in Bay View so he was able to point out some familiar landmarks. From there we traveled to the Canfora Bakery. This Italian establishment features an assortment of pizza slices on Saturday mornings along with other baked goodies.

At the National Bakery our sample was a ham sandwich on a hard roll - a Milwaukee tradition - and a nice palate cleanser between all the sweets.
While we rode the bus, Sandy, our tour guide, told how various ethnic groups
 celebrated the holidays. Several traditions included eating a big meal
on Christmas Eve and then fasting until another big dinner on Christmas Day. 
Four stops in Wauwatosa were within a block or so of each other.

Cheesecake samples teased our sweet tooth at Simma's Bakery
La Tarte was nicely decorated on the outside for the holiday season.
The lemon bar sample from this bakery was light and delicious.
Ultimate Confections is the place to buy a chocolate treat for anyone on your Christmas list - even the local beat cop!

Our last Wauwatosa stop was Rose's Flower Shop. Nothing to eat here but we experienced wonderful smells of flowers and received a carnation during our visit.

Rose's boasts a huge collection of lunch boxes.
No blue or odd-colored poinsettias at this shop!

This display greets customers at the front door.
The Milwaukee Cupcake Company in the Historic Third Ward was the last place we visited on our tour.
Our sample was two mini cupcakes. We were cautioned
not to save them until later because the bakery uses no
preservatives in its recipes.
Who can resist an aluminum Christmas tree
in the lobby of the bakery? 

Here we are at the end of our tour with Sandy. So many sweet treats
delighted our palates along the way.
We would like to check out some of the other tours offered by Milwaukee Food Tours in the spring. Bloody Marys on Sunday morning, anyone?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Holiday Music

We were treated to music from Warren Nelson and his trio on Saturday night at the Schauer Arts & Activities Center in Hartford. Warren is the founder of the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua, one of our favorite music venues. His performance was billed as a “folk music holiday.” The set list included a couple of familiar numbers from Big Top shows as well as original tunes.
Rick appreciated that we didn't have to travel 350 miles to Washburn to hear
the trio's music. 
The setting for this musical evening was in the Pikes Peak “cabaret” at the Schauer Center. We couldn’t help but notice that most of the patrons were of our vintage. Our table companions were a couple from Columbus. He had been on the Big Top Chautauqua Board back in the 1980s.
Warren has been writing songs and performing for 45 years! He started when he was a teenager. 
Then on Monday of this week, our Downtown Kiwanis Club, where I’ve been a member for 4 years, carried on our holiday tradition of a joint program with the Downtown Optimists and a performance by the Madrigal Singers from Stoughton High School. These 16 students (8 boys and 8 girls) have amazing voices. Their a capella harmonies are exquisite. Sometimes they are even singing in 8 parts! One of the numbers they sang for us in madrigal style was “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles. That rendition brought smiles to many of us in the audience who were teens ourselves when the Beatles came to America in the mid-1960s.
The costumes worn by the Madrigal Singers add to the festivities. 
The Stoughton choir will be performing at Madrigal Dinners on December 8, 9, and 10. The evening features a 7-course dinner with the choir as the main attraction.
It's always fun to hear from the singers after their performance. Several of
the seniors will be pursuing their musical interests when they go off to college. 
It wouldn’t be the holidays if we didn’t have music. We like to take advantage of concerts. Or we'll stop and listen to the occasional carolers who turn up at the town square or even at the mall.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Santa's Coming

Last Saturday we wandered to downtown Milwaukee for the 86th Annual Holiday Parade - brought to us by Johnson Controls (can't forget to mention the sponsor). We found reasonably-priced nearby parking. The sun shone. But best of all - grandson, Kellen, was there to see the parade with us. What a joy to see a holiday tradition through the eyes of a 2 1/2 year old.
The parade spectators.
Many of the units in the parade were bands from Milwaukee and area high schools. It's always a good parade when there's lots of music.
Many of the bands had red and black uniforms...
and here's another.

But not all the schools had red uniforms.
Just like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the Milwaukee Parade had gigantic balloons.
Harbinger of the season to come.
Will we get enough snow this winter
to build this big a snowman?

Here's Rudolph.
Radio personalities and dignitaries in the parade braved the chilly air and rode in convertibles.
While most of the convertibles were late models, a few classics showed up.
Klement's Racing Sausages strutted their stuff.
This one is the chorizo.
Firetrucks and street sweepers made an appearance. The street sweepers followed the horses for obvious reasons.
As well as the camels who carried the Wise Men.
This was "Tow-Mater" (from the movie Cars) according to Kellen.
The Shriners paraded in VWs rather than on the mini-motorcycles.
Kids in a parade are always a winner!
The Santa in this parade even sang.
Merry Christmas to all!
Ater the parade we checked out the Christmas mouse in Pere Marquette Park. The light display in the park is better viewed at night.
If there's a parade in your town before Christmas, go see it. A fun way to start the holiday season!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Bruce Springsteen is the BEST! And for the all the young people who were at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday night, that concert will be the BEST they'll ever see in their lives. Unless, of course, they have the opportunity to go to another Springsteen concert in the future.
Once again, Bruce proved it all night with another fabulous concert!

I'm a groupie. But just an average groupie. Ten Springsteen concerts in almost 35 years isn't all that many. Unless I can count the 20 minutes he performed in Madison last week, the day before the election, as one more. For that one I stood for about the same amount of time that I would have for a regular concert from The Boss. On Sunday night Bruce and his E Street Band played for three hours. In Madison I stood for four hours! 
I was a block and a half away from the main stage in Madison and
a traffic light stood in the way of the screen. But Bruce was there and
the outdoor sound was decent. The Boss performed four songs,
with only his guitar and harmonica to accompany him.
My friend, Ramona, is a fan, too. She answered my Facebook request last summer when I was looking for someone to go with me to St. Paul for the concert. This was her second concert in nearly 30 years. Bruce did not disappoint. We were thrilled, even though our seats were behind the stage.
The rigging is incredible. How long does set-up take?

The lights went up for the encore. Usually there's a break between
the regular set and the encore set - not in this case. Bruce's energy
is amazing! He moved into the crowd during his third number,
appropriately, Out in the Street. He was crowd surfacing during
Hungry Heart. And to think he's a mere six days younger than me! 
A change in Springsteen concerts that I've noticed since 1978 is that The Boss is much more well spoken. And he doesn't pull the good-looking young women (e.g., Courtney Cox during Dancing in the Dark) onto the stage these days. On Sunday night it was an 88-year-old great-grandmother who experienced the fun of dancing with Bruce and Stevie Van Zandt!
Another change is the technology. Big screens project images
of Bruce and the band.
The last number of the night, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, featured a moving video tribute to the late Clarence Clemons who played sax with the E Street Band. Jake Clemons, Clarence's nephew, now plays sax with the band.

We decided to spend Sunday night in Eau Claire rather than attempt to drive back to Madison after the concert. It was a good choice, especially since I had scored a Groupon deal for the Metropolis Resort

What should I find at the resort's "Action City" but a vintage trailer! Right there next to the largest indoor go-kart track in the Midwest. It was a decoration – a simulation of a bygone era when travel trailer parks were next to the busy highway.
My excitement upon seeing this trailer is a sure sign that I've definitely been bitten
by the vintage camping trailer bug.
All in all, a marvelous weekend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Bruce Springsteen will be back on the road in the not too distance future. I'll be there, too.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Celebrating At My Alma Mater

Very close to home this past week and a half. On October 18 I attended the Grand Opening of the Nancy Nicholas Hall on the UW-Madison Campus. This new hall is the first exclusive-use academic building on campus named in honor of a woman. And this building houses my school – the School of Human Ecology. With its mission of improving the quality of human life, SOHE turned out to be a great place for me these many years ago. 
The new building, with an attached preschool and an appropriate place
for SOHE's nationally-known Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection,
gave the School much needed space.

This is the old building - rather, the "historic building." Its second floor
looks very much like it did when this building opened nearly 100 years
ago. The terrazzo floor remains.
The two buildings are connected by "The Link."
Bucky Badger on a mural directs visitors from the parking area below
the new building to the public stairway.
There's even a secure area for bikes
in the parking area.

I’ll admit that graduating from SOHE (formerly School of Family Resources and Consumer Sciences, and before that Home Economics) was the quickest way to finish my undergraduate education. I had taken a variety of classes during some tumultuous times at UW-Madison without having a specific goal in mind. Fortunately, I stumbled upon SOHE. The School accepted all of my prior courses. In the end, my undergraduate years provided me with a great liberal arts education. I like to say that I was a few decades ahead of my time because now there’s a department in SOHE, Interdisciplinary Studies, that offers a major in community & nonprofit leadership. This would have been my major had SOHE been organized back then the way it is today!
Parents dropping off their children for the SOHE Preschool have their
own secure elevator from the parking area. LED lights change color on
the marquee. Notice the drop ceiling. What could be more appropriate
in a school that offers a design major!

One of my jobs when I was in human resources was at the Wisconsin Union. The organization has two facilities – Memorial Union on Langdon Street and Union South near the College of Engineering campus. Back when I was hired, Union South (originally built in 1971) was relatively new. However, in the 70s, it seemed that buildings were designed to be disposable. So 40 years later, there’s a new Union South. It is a stunning structure, planned to last far longer than its predecessor.

Last Saturday was Homecoming at UW-Madison and the 40th anniversary of the biggest tailgate party on campus – Badger Bash at Union South. Former Wisconsin Union staff and student leaders were invited to celebrate the occasion. The best treat was a pre-game show from the wonderful UW-Madison Marching Band, led by Mike Lekrone now in his 44th year as Director. The band performed in the plaza between Union South and the Engineering Library. We had a fabulous view from a second floor balcony.
There's even a big screen TV so fans on the ground don't miss
a moment of pre-game action.
Mike Lekrone directing the band. It was a great mini-concert designed
to rev up Badger football fans.
Our view was spectacular. 
My cousin’s son, Eric, plays euphonium in the band. Early this year he had the unique experience of participating in the 2012 Rose Bowl. Eric is following in the footsteps of his uncle, another cousin, who played tuba a few years earlier, also under the direction of Lekrone. Given his tenure at UW, today Lekrone might very well be directing grandchildren of band members who were there in 1969 when he became head of the program!

Rick is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee, but he enjoyed the Bash as much as I did. He even captured the band doing the “Bud” song.

When you say “Wisconsin,” you’ve said it all!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Assassination Attempt in Milwaukee!

Not to worry – this wasn’t a recent try. Rather, Historic Milwaukee, Inc. staged a reenactment of the attempt on Theodore Roosevelt’s life one hundred years ago on Sunday. Roosevelt, affectionately called “TR,” had already served as President between 1901–1909 and  jumped back into politics in 1912. The 1912 campaign was characterized by a serious split between conservative Republicans under President William Howard Taft and the liberals/reformers under ex-President Roosevelt. TR’s followers bolted from the party and ran their candidate on the ticket of the Progressive Party. To reporters, Roosevelt once remarked that he felt as fit as a “bull moose,” thus the nickname of his new party.
On October 14, 1912, TR made a campaign stop in Milwaukee. He rested and dined at the Gilpatrick Hotel (the present Hyatt is now on the site). Later, the ex-President was scheduled to deliver a speech at the Milwaukee Auditorium (now the Milwaukee Theater) a few blocks down the street. Would-be assassin John Schrank had followed Roosevelt from New Orleans to Milwaukee, went to the hotel, and made his move as TR was leaving to enter his car.
Police - modern day and one from a century ago - monitored
the crowd that had gathered to see Theodore Roosevelt in
Milwaukee. However, they didn't manage to stop the assassin.
Roosevelt would not be overcome. Not only did he refuse medical treatment, TR asserted that no one harm Schrank insisting that the man didn’t know what he was doing. Nor did TR blame Milwaukee for what one crazed man had done. 

Theodore Roosevelt letting the crowd know that he was still alive after
the assassination attempt.
Rick managed to get a video of TR assuring us he would still carry on the campaign.

With a bullet still in his chest and blood soaking through his clothes, Roosevelt nevertheless addressed an audience of about 12,000 people in the Auditorium for nearly 80 minutes. He even joked at one point, "It takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose." His heavy coat and the 50-page speech that he held in the coat’s breast pocket were credited with saving Roosevelt’s life.
The interior of the Milwaukee Theater today.

Roosevelt received 88 Electoral College votes to Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s 435 and Taft’s 8 in the final tally. It wasn't enough to win back the Presidency but quite a showing for a third-party candidate and a resounding defeat for a sitting president.

I had to do some research to learn more about Theodore Roosevelt and the campaign that occurred 100 years ago. All in all, a fascinating story that was brought to life (and almost death) by Historic Milwaukee.