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, April 23, 2012

Last Earth Day at Lambeau - Mash-up

For fear of being labeled a heretic, I have to admit that I’m really not a genuine fan of the Green Bay Packers. Rick, on the other hand, is a true fan and has been all his life. I don’t remember watching football games with my parents and sisters when I was growing up. Being a Packer fan wasn’t something ingrained in me.

Image from the Last Day at Lambeau poster
at the entrance to the theater.
Even though I watch Packer games with Rick and possess a Packer t-shirt, my take-away after seeing Last Day at Lambeau at the recent Wisconsin Film Festival here in Madison was the realization that I lack real fan status. From my perspective, football is just a game, not a matter of life and death. If I miss a game, it's no big deal. However, that’s not to say this wasn’t a good documentary. I enjoyed it – perhaps more as a character study than as a film about one particular former Green Bay Packer and his fans.

The film’s director, co-writer, and editor, Michael Neelson, documents the demise of Brett Favre through his eyes – a Packer fan who idolized Favre like so many did throughout their youth. In fact, the film ends with a picture of Neelson, his dad Dave (the film’s producer), and Favre taken when Neelson was a young boy.

The film covered the time between Favre’s “divorce” from the Packers in 2008 and his last game at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2010, as a Minnesota Viking. Neelson’s documentary included football game footage which was cheered by the audience at the screening, interviews with sportswriters who covered the Packers for years, and discussions with fans who both adored and scorned Favre. All in all, Neelson handled the story in a fair minded way.

While fans feel close to their heroes in any number of sports and even regard them as family, the athletes may not care as much for them. That certainly seemed to be the case with Favre. His job was a player for the Packers and when there was a falling out with the boss, he left - eventually. And so when Favre returned to Lambeau as a Minnesota Viking, archenemy of the Packers, many fans would boo him as he ran onto the field. The more reasonable ones, however, recognized that the man was a great player no matter what the color of his jersey.

The Q & A session following the screening was quite fascinating. Neelson said he made the documentary because he wanted to explore his own emotions about the events in the Favre saga. However, as he got into the nuts and bolts of editing, Neelson told us he was able to put emotion aside to tell the story. John "St. Vince" O'Neill, a Packer super fan featured in the documentary, was on hand to answer questions, too.

St. Vince spoke about Bart Starr, a former Packer,
 who values his fans as shown by his support
for the Green Bay community to this day.
Another fan at the documentary's screening.

Earlier in the day, we stopped to smell the roses (actually, just the early spring flowers) at the Allen Centennial Gardens, a botanic garden that serves as a free outdoor public garden and teaching garden for the Horticulture Department on the UW-Madison campus. Maybe not much of a way to commemorate Earth Day but, nonetheless, a lovely interlude that afternoon. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On the Trail of Texas Barbecue

Last Saturday was Rick’s birthday. His present–barbecue from Texas. A couple of years ago we were in Texas about this time of the year. Rick was determined to find as many BBQ places as we could. One of the places we found was Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Q, on the Texas Barbecue Trail. Yes, there actually is a trail! Rick learned that this restaurant will ship its barbecue anywhere so I ordered his favorite beef brisket, pork ribs, and a fryer for his birthday. Delish!
Lockhart TX was on the old Chisholm Trail that was used for cattle drives
in the  late 19th century. Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Q isn't quite that old.
Barbecue is taken seriously in Texas as well as in a number of other southern states. Probably like we take our cheese and beer seriously here in Wisconsin.
Rudy's in Austin serves its barbecue on pieces of butcher paper.
No dishwasher is needed for restaurants that are part of this chain. 
Speaking of Wisconsin, I don’t think it’s ever too hard to find Wisconsin connections wherever we wander – even when we go out of state.
I'm not sure where I saw this sign - maybe it was in a Texas antique store.
Ardent Green Bay Packer fans are in Texas, too.

Karen Hein, a friend of mine and former colleague, lives in Austin and we saw her and her husband perform with the Cornell Hurd Band one night. The venue was Jovita’s, a great Mexican restaurant with some attention-grabbing murals on the walls.

Even though Central Texas, where we visited, has a great deal of appealing scenery, I’ll still take Wisconsin any day! 
These are Texas blue bonnets; lupines here in Wisconsin.
The flowers in my garden at Rick's are twice as tall
as any I saw on our trip. So take that, Texas!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Good Friday - Seminary and Speed

Last Friday we didn’t wander too far from home where we discovered Nashotah House nestled in the  Kettle Moraine on the shore of Upper Nashotah Lake (northwest of Delafield). Nashotah House is a seminary of The Episcopal Church, serving the world-wide Anglican Communion and the wider Christian Church. Both men and women train there for ordained and lay ministries. Chartered in 1847, Nashotah House is the oldest institution of higher learning in Wisconsin. Five years before its charter, Nashotah House was born in a little blue house that stands today.
The basement in the Library goes down three stories.
We joined our friends, Pat and Gary from Milwaukee, for the final fish fry of the Lenten season - a fundraiser to help the seminary students with their educational expenses. After dinner we were treated to a tour of the beautiful campus and learned more about the philosophy of the seminary. All at the Nashotah House practice the Benedictine disciplines of work, study, and prayer

Beautiful stained glass windows in the Chapel.
The bell is rung three times a day calling all at Nashotah House to worship.
Visitors are welcomed at services held at 7:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 4:30 pm.
Earlier in the day we were at the Slinger Super Speedway to watch Brittiny Helmers, one of our young friends and future star race car driver, practice for her opening race on April 29.  Brittiny's racing organization is Tiny Motor Sports. She drove a late model around that quarter mile track in a little over 12 seconds!
Brittiny is in her lucky number 13 car. Rick is the Rascal, one of her sponsors!
Here she comes around the track. I couldn't get too close because of the fence.
Check out Rick's video below. This young woman is definitely speedy!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

History of Spring

“History is what you see no matter where you look,” according to Bill Cronon, Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. As I looked out over Library Mall on the UW-Madison campus yesterday I realized that the historic crab apple trees had slowly disappeared over the years. The space had been so much prettier in the past. A wave of nostalgia passed over me as I yearned for the springs that went before. Those were the springs the trees flowered when they were supposed to – around the first of May, not the first of April!

One of two flowering crab apple trees that remain on Library Mall today
in front of the Wisconsin Historical Society's headquarters building.
The other remaining tree is on the Langdon Street side
with the Memorial Union in the background.
Another burst of spring this year in front of the Old Red Gym.
One of the pleasures of working on campus in the 1980s and then again 20 years later was seeing the crab apples blooming on a beautiful spring day.  
Historical photos from May 12, 2008.

More history captured on May 3, 2006. . .
The view in front of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Another beauty of a bygone time.
These trees on the Memorial Library side of the Mall are gone today.
Maybe after all the construction of the East Campus Gateway is finished, new trees will be planted and Library Mall will once more be the beautiful place it had been in springs past.