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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Everyone - I will not be blogging through The Reporter Web site anymore, at least for now.

They decided to change the blogs, and honestly, I can't figure out how to even work it, so consider this my personal blog where you and I can continue to converse.

So if you want to keep reading Rustnevrsleeps you cannot link through The Reporter Website anymore.

Just tune in at

Bookmark that people.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Hmong funeral I attended Saturday for 16-year-old Fue Vang, one of three teenage friends killed in a car crash last week, put Christian death rites to shame in terms of openness, a sense of family and community and seeing death as a journey in which everyone becomes an active participant.

Believe me, I've been to enough family funerals to be a viable source.

And the way the Hmong community treated the press, as honored guests even in their time of sorrow, left me humbled, my head bowed, considering the circumstances.

Covering funerals is not high on my list of journalistic events I look forward to. Try explaining to someone we are going to show the world their deepest grief, suffering and sorrow.It's hard for them to see, and understandably, we are also sharing the celebration of a life.

Steeped in tradition, Fue's journey to the afterlife was attended by 300-some family and friends to make sure their loved one was never left alone for 3 days straight. Rituals included the playing of music, almost continually, on a bamboo instrument called a qeej, drumming, and tradition based on a belief in reincarnation.

A butchered chicken was placed near Fue's head. When his spirit visits his birthplace the chicken will help him dig up the placenta, which provides a connection between the spirit and physical worlds and allows him to be reborn.

Shiny decorations, burned intermittently, represented the money he will need in the next world. A crossbow will protect him from his enemies. A knife will be used to draw a line between this world and the next, so he can't come back. Food and drink are offered to the body to keep up his strength during the journey.

And that just touches briefly on the detail of spiritual preparation which requires, I was told by many of his family, "sleeping very little" during those three days,

"You are so welcome to be here and we thank you. We want everyone to know how much we are doing to help my son on his journey to the other world. Everyone is invited to come," said Fue's father.

To think I was hesitant, scared even, to attend the visitation after the treatment members of this press received from the non-Hmong community involved in Fue's life. Believe me, I never want to make anyone feel bad.

At a memorial service for the trio of young Hmong men sponsored by the Fond du Lac Ministerial Association Thursday held at First Presbyterian Church (which was a beautiful gesture on their part, don't get me wrong), it took some finagling for us to even be there. Our photographer was told, in very abrupt terms, he could stay briefly, not take photos of any faces, and then leave. I could write about the service but not approach anyone or interview them.

It was as if I had to avert my eyes to the grief and pain that stood this night alongside the joy friendship. As if somehow by writing about it and sharing it with our readers it would somehow violate very personal and private emotions.

The thing was it was a public, community event.

I had asked the school district if I could come into Fond du Lac High School and talk to kids about the loss of their friends, invite them to share stories and memories of Fue and his cousin, Jerry Vang, and Peng Thao, the 18-year-old driver.

In light of the tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths, a high-speed car crash, I wanted to give their friends a palette in which they could paint a picture of why these three young men were so loved.

The school district said no.

At the death of these students Monday the district went so far as to "have no comment." It wasn't until I contacted the school superintendent the next day and suggested he make a comment that he agreed to do so.

Compared to the Hmong culture's perspective on death the whole experience for me reflects America's view of death, the shame and privacy of grief, the abhorrence to showing emotion, crying, expressing how we feel, unless it is in a controlled setting, behind closed doors.

My best friend agreed it should be private, citing the pain of Jackie Kennedy's face at the funeral of her husband and our beloved president.

But to me, grief shared through the community's newspaper, only enhances the life of the loved one and spreads collective emotion to every parent, brother, sister, and friend.

Who doesn't nod their head, feel a catch in their throat and think to themselves "I feel your loss. I've experienced it too."

Isn't that what community is all about?

I come away from the experience at Fue's funeral, and I hope our readers do too, with a profound sense of the deep love they share, their incredibly painful loss, and an understanding that the need to be comforted transcends all language barriers.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"The buildings reach up to the sky,
the traffic thunders down the busy street,
the pavement slips beneath my feet,
I walk alone and wonder...




I can still hear my first crush, John Davidson, posing that age-old question on one of his many records. I was 12 and laid in bed staring at his boy-next-door face on the album cover, his blue eyes....please don't get me started on John, a guilty pleasure whom I readily admit is out of character for me to love taking into consideration my hippie persona.

Sometimes you just can't choose who you fall in love with, now can you? ;-D

This long lead-in is to tell you that at age 50, I know who I am, at least one-quarter of what makes up SHARON ROZNIK.

My daughter participated in the National Geographic Genographic Project in which for $99 you send in a hair sample and they trace your mother's maternal DNA line from the journey out of Africa to, in our case, western Europe.

It is beyond cool. The results will blow your mind, and allow you to be a trail blazer in a five-year project that is a grand effort to understand genetics and the human journey.

Here's the premise, according to their Web site:

The fossil record fixes human origins in Africa, but little is known about the great journey that took Homo sapiens to the far reaches of the Earth. How did we, each of us, end up where we are? Why do we appear in such a wide array of different colors and features?

Such questions are even more amazing in light of genetic evidence that we are all related—descended from a common African ancestor who lived only 60,000 years ago.

Though eons have passed, the full story remains clearly written in our genes—if only we can read it. With your help, we can.

When DNA is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by the processes that give each of us our individuality.

But some parts of the DNA chain remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by mutations which become "genetic markers." These markers allow geneticists like Spencer Wells to trace our common evolutionary timeline back through the ages.

Different populations carry distinct markers. Following them through the generations reveals a genetic tree on which today's many diverse branches may be followed ever backward to their common African root.

Our genes allow us to chart the ancient human migrations from Africa across the continents. Through one path, we can see living evidence of an ancient African trek, through India, to populate even isolated Australia.

But to fully complete the picture we must greatly expand the pool of genetic samples available from around the world. Time is short.

In a shrinking world, mixing populations are scrambling genetic signals. The key to this puzzle is acquiring genetic samples from the world's remaining indigenous and traditional peoples whose ethnic and genetic identities are isolated.

But such distinct peoples, languages, and cultures are quickly vanishing into a 21st century global melting pot.

That's why the Genographic Project has established ten research laboratories around the globe. Scientists are visiting Earth's remote regions in a comprehensive effort to complete the planet's genetic atlas.

But we don't just need genetic information from Inuit and San Bushmen—we need yours as well. If you choose to participate and add your data to the global research database, you'll help to delineate our common genetic tree, giving detailed shape to its many twigs and branches.

Together we can tell the ancient story of our shared human journey.

My mother's maternal line, which comes from Czechoslovakia, is part of a group called haplogroup H.

Apparently, these people took a very direct route from Ethiopia, through the Middle East to western Europe.

That's about it. It's not very detailed at this point, but the more people particiapte, the more missing pieces of the genetic puzzle will start to get filled in, for example, we'll learn about which groups of people actually traveled this route.

I tried to find out how many people participated so far in the project, I know over 200,000, but when I tried to open the document on this stinking computer, that alien language came up, you know the one: gibberish out the assish.

Anyway, I'm picturing this ancient hippie woman ancestor heading down the road playing a flute made from a bird's leg, somewhere near Moravia, long funky, ethnic robes, OK, maybe some teeth missing and because they didn't wear bras, ever, time has taken it's toll, but when she looks at you with her grey-blue eyes, you feel it deep down in your soul, and it makes you throw back your head and laugh out loud.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A pinch of fair
A pinch of foul
And bad and good make best of all.
Beware the moderated soul
That climbs no fractional inch to fall.
Nonsense Rhymes
Elinor Wylie

To me that means perhaps there are others in this world who have runny egg yoke melded between the keys on their keyboard......


And that's what you get when you try to get it out using wet Q-tips.

Once it reaches 70 degrees outside I tremble a bit when the sun starts beating through the windows.

Yes, I'm afraid it's another childhood trauma I need to let out of the closet.

It starts with my mother, who could only tolerate a temperature of 70 degrees, with no more than two degrees latitude in either direction.

And this before the days of air conditioners or even fans, which were considered a frivolous luxury.

My siblings and I spent summers in darkness unless we were outside, prisoners of "Shade Duty," which entailed pulling window shades up and down according to the movement of the sun.

"THE WEST SHADES! PULL THE WEST SHADES!" She'd cry out, as the light crept along the side of the fieldstone house, sinister, in search of vampires like us.

"Why are you always squinting," my friends would say when I came out to play.

Later in life, much later, my parents were the proud owners of a central air-conditioner and we lived all summer in flannel shirts, shivering under wool balnkets, but that's a whole 'nother story, which now that I think of it, coincides with my mother reaching age 50. Need I say more?

You don't think I could get away with telling you this story without confessing...
Especially with my sister watching.
Fine, I do it too, just not to that degree.

Blame it on ancestral memory.

Once the summer solstice hits I don't think my daughter pulls the shades up at all. :-D

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I feel terrible you haven't heard from me in what?????
Something like 17 days.
Actually, it was an experiment to see if anyone really cared.
Thanks to the one person who asked...:-)

Sometimes nothing comes out.
Sometimes the spewing forth dries up.
Sometimes you just get so tired of writing you can't.
Sometimes you can't even read words and books just lay there, spread-eagled on your lap in bed and you find yourself staring for hours into some fantasy void, making up your own make believe worlds to live in instead of reading someone else's tedious ideas.

Instead I've been:

You're thinking "Dead Man Walking."
This is "Sharon of the Hill People" walking.

That expression was coined by our photographer Justin. One day out of nowhere he starts chanting, in sing-song, drawn out tones that flow out from the photo room:

of the Hill Peoppplllle......."

My heart melted like a child with a puppy plopped in her arms.

So what if Justin meant gape-toothed with long yellow finger nails, scabby knees and untanned clothing stained with juices from raw meat?

I pictured a wild-eyed woman, tan and tall, flowing hair down to her knees, wearing skins from a white deer that are so soft because they were made the ancient way, when the hides were soaked in urine, and wild animals are following her because they beckon to her call.....

Which actually does bring me to my point of how I walked all winter, if it was at least above 8 degrees and for the most part I was alone because what idiots would be out there, but now that the weather is nice the city has suddenly been repopulated with outdoor enthusiasts and I'm chagrin to face the fact I have to look presentable.

I haven't lived in a city for 23 years, so I thought nothing of getting out of bed, throwing several layers of clothes on and heading out the door.

Now there are humans everywhere needing to say hello and wanting you to pet their hairy pampered, panting dogs (unlike the wolves of the Hill People) and I've come to realize I've been scaring them, really.

What? I thought until I looked in the mirror.

If you've ever seen my hair imagine it post REM stage: Picture an Afro, but standing straight out.

Black rings of mascara circle my eyes.

And for some reason my eye brows look like they need brushing.

And my fingernails were all stained yellow from the cheese popcorn I had eaten before falling asleep.

There was a Sunday I talked with two nice white-haired ladies for at least five minutes and it wasn't until I got home I saw there was a red line drawn down the entire side of my face from when I had fallen asleep on a ink pen that leaked.

Now I grudgingly wash my face and at least try to get a brush through the surface layer of hair, but damn it, Justin, I really like being:

of the Hill Peoooooopppppplllllle."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

To Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.:

It was 6 a.m. and I was lounging in bed with a fresh-brewed cup of coffee listening to NPR this morning and watching a hawk sit on her nest in a big tree anchored in the center of the field behind my condo.

As the news came over the radio: "Kurt Vonnegut has died," the hawk spread her wings and took to the air.

My hands covered my eyes.

Oh geez, Mr. Vonnegut, how you got me through my high school years. Your sad, mixed up characters were me: Kilgore Trout, Billy Pilgrim, Elliot Rosewater, Montana Wildhack.

When Billy Pilgrim got “Unstuck” in time, so did I. Your stories fit like a missing puzzle piece in the space right between adolescent angst and young adulthood.

Your semi-autobiographical account of life as a prisoner of war during World War II in "Slaughterhouse Five” and the scene that unfolds before the eyes of your character Billy as he is released after the bombing of Dresden is as clear today in my mind as when I first read it.

I heard you in an interview, describing this surreal world where nothing made sense, the bombed city, the animals running free from the Dresden zoo, a young prisoner of war staring at a world gone mad.

The last line of the novel is a bird's nonsensical singing, singing that is posed as a question that to me translates to “What the hell?”

“Poo-te-weet?” it calls.

How fitting for a life-changing story that teaches us how impossible it is to make sense of the insanity of war and massacre. The book came out in 1969, in the midst of the turmoil of the Vietnam War.

Vonnegut’s chirping bird lets us know that sometimes in life it is impossible to even ask questions that make sense.

“What the hell?” is about all you can say.

I loved you so.

God bless you, Kurt Vonnegut. I wonder if today you are wandering in a world that finally makes sense.

Monday, April 09, 2007

My 87-year-old aunt, who has always been like a mother to me, recently poured out her heart to me about what it is like to be a covert atheist in her retirement community.

"If anyone knew I'd be shunned," she said in a whisper.

I say this because Easter and Passover is being celebrated this month and it made me think about her, along with my grandmother, who was an agnostic, and my father, who said he wished he could believe in something, but just couldn't because it didn't make any sense.

The irony is they were, are, the most spiritual people I ever had the privilege of sharing my life with. Kind, compassionate, giving, non-judgemental, they opened their homes to everyone with a kind of immeasurable, unconditional love that astounds me when I think about it.

I never felt worthy in the face of such pureness of heart but that never seemed to matter.

New-agers call it the "Christ-consciousness" that transcends denominations and religious affiliations.

"You aren't an atheist," I tried to tell my aunt. "You believe that when you die you become one with the universe, remember? That our energy force joins forces with the cosmos. That's believing in something."

"No, no, don't mix me up with your grandmother. She thought there might be an afterlife. I know there isn't," she maintained.

My grandmother was a devout Catholic back in the old country and one of the best singers in the church choir until she witnessed at age 16 the priest brutally beating some of the girls who sang off key. The last straw, the stinging blow that severed her ties with organized religion came in America when the priest wouldn't baptize her son because she had no money to pay the church fee.

It seems like our country has been struggling with a variety of religious identities lately as people arm themselves with dogmas and take sides over right and wrong.

As painful as it is to watch I couldn't be more thrilled. It's like watching birth pains of a new nation. We've seen the outcome of a conservative faction armed with a so-called religious right and now people have to decide whether or not it's what they want to see continue.

There's a smell of change in the wind,a pull in the opposite direction as people feel out a different approach.

I like to pretend I'm an observer from an alien planet, watching it all unfold.

Many are saving the year 2012 is the beginning of "Heaven on earth."

NASA predicts that the Sun will reverse its own magnetic poles during 2012 as aresult of reaching the end of current 11-year sunspot cycle. Some believe this will amplify the effects of retarding magnetic field on earth, as harmful charged particles blasted away from the sun would more easily penetrate the earth's atmosphere.

Check out The Year 2012 and you'll see the predictions, originating from many ancient sources (that's eerie in itself!) including the Mayan calendar, which stops on Dec. 21, 2012.

* The book "The Nostradamus Code" speaks of a series of natural disasters caused by a comet which will allow the third anti-Christ to disperse his troops around the globe under the guise of aid in preparation for a possible nuclear war, although in the strictest sense it is unspecific as to nuclear war or some other natural or man caused destruction.

* "The Orion Prophecy" claims that the Earth's magnetic field will reverse that year.

*"The Return of Quetzalcoatl" by Daniel Pinchbeck discusses theories of a possible global awakening to psychic connection by the year 2012.

*Terence McKenna's mathematical novelty theory suggests a point of singularity in which a great number of things could happen, including "hyperspatial breakthrough", planetesimal impact, alien contact, historical metamorphosis, metamorphosis of natural law, solar explosion and "quasar ignition at the galactic core," whatever that means.

*The Prophecy of the Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, speculated that Pope Benedict XVI would reign during the beginning of the tribulation of which Jesus spoke, and sometime later a future pope described in the prophecy as "Peter the Roman", the last in this prophetic list, would appear, bringing as a result the destruction of the city of Rome and the Last Judgment.

*Many new age spiritualists and philosophers believe humankind will enter an age of enlightenment in 2012.

I'll be 55, and I don't know about you, but good or bad, I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Is there anything more daunting than the sight of a state patrol car zooming in on you from behind?

I was stopped and ticketed last week for various very bad things I had done which were against the law.

There was a Marlon Brando/James Dean moment of exhilaration, a fleeting milli-second where I wondered what it would be like to press the pedal to the metal and just take off.

Oh yes indeed.

Anyone who's ever seen Viggo Mortensen's MAGNIFICENT performance in "Vanishing Point" can relate, as he leads law enforcement on a astounding car chase that as I recall lasts weeks, across country with the entire nation watching and falling in love with this bad guy/hero who is really innocent.

EDGE OF YOUR SEAT took me days to recover.

Anyway, since I'm scared to go fast I pulled over, rolled down my window and looked up.

What a sight it was to behold.

Ten gallon hat; black, streamlined sunglasses reflecting the sun just right; a chiseled, young Burt Lancaster face, not a bead of sweat on it and it was an 80-degree day; impeccable NAVY (true Navy, not dark blue) uniform without a thread or wrinkle on it; badge blinding me with it's gleam.

I once saw a public television show in which they showed a Marine getting his dress uniform ready for his duty guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier. The finishing touch was another, well-practiced Marine taking a lighter and going over the entire uniform to burn away any minuscule hairs or invisible threads.

You get the picture.

I sat slack-jawed, temporarily mute. Would I have to be frisked? I wondered.

No one ever told me before that my little Vibe needed a front license plate. It came without one.

And I thought I changed my address with the DMV but I am often delusional and maybe I just dreamed it.

When he asked if there was a reason I wasn't wearing a seat belt, I hung my head in shame and whispered:


Guess what the last words were I uttered as he handed me a pile of tickets and walked away.

"Thank you....really."

Monday, April 02, 2007

There are all kinds of forms of humiliation in life.

You would think that at this age it would no longer matter what other people think, but still, there's that throwback Victorian upbringing in most of us, you know the voice, the tone, the internal rising of a blush coming on, the need to look away.

I heard on public radio the other night that humans are the only creatures capable of blushing, of even knowing shame.

No one else cares, monkeys for example, if anyone sees them at their worst. I never liked them much because of that or maybe it was because my mother never let us linger long watching monkey island at the Milwaukee Zoo, as something was bound to happen that we, as children, shouldn't see. To this day I feel guilt even watching a National Geographic special on monkeys. I hear my mother's voice:

"They should be wearing clothes," she'd chide.

I'm babbling.

I could not look the young male college kid in the eye who was checking me out at the Fond du Lac Public Library Saturday as I handed him "Hot Flashes, Hormones & Your Heath," with a bright yellow blurb on the cover that shouted "Find out if HORMONE THERAPY is right for you."

Somehow I wasn't thinking when I took that baby off the shelf, it never entered my mind who I would encounter at the check-out counter.

If that wasn't bad enough, I found a parking ticket on my car, but I'm going to fight it. I wonder if I can get a jury trial.

No one should have to pay to park at a public building, like the library.

I'm with you on this one Sister Stella! I'm free Monday night if you want to get together and make some picket signs.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Today I'm 50.

It feels pretty great despite the fact I decided to vacuum (this is sad but I had to look this word up just now in the large print dictionary I took from my dead mothers' house) my keyboard and I sucked up two of the keys and now I have to gut a vacuum bag full of five-month old carpet debris.

Why, why, why, why??? Oh yeah, I forgot. I wasn't going to whine anymore.

But I digress, in fact, I could go on and on lamenting about the cards I didn't get from my friends and relatives and how every birthday, no matter how I hard I try, I end up crying and having a pity-party over the littlest things, for Goddess knows what reason. This started at age 1 and there's some old 16 mm footage to prove it.

Instead, if I practice the latest best-selling mantras touted in "The Secret" craze I would get more cards if I was a nicer person, abundently nicer.

I'm just not sure I'm capable of nice.

The best gift so far was a phone call last night from my hippie, free-spirit son in Oregon. He and his girlfriend are leaving Oregon because it didn't turn out to be the Utopia he thought. Instead, he told me in a disgusted voice, it's filled with Yuppie posers pretending to be hippies.

The gall.

He's heading to Missouri with the goal of planting and harvesting the biggest vegetable garden he's ever attempted, with a little fence all around it and an archway at the entrance.

I told him that was about the noblest thing a person could do in life. That you could learn a lifetime's worth of lessons just watching things grow.

"Just make sure it's vegetables," I told him, not something else green and leafy. I don't think Missouri is Oregon, if you get my drift. I don't think the law in some of those Missouri counties is anything like Andy of Mayberry.

Anyway, there's still things I want to do in life, at age 50, so that's hopeful.

Live on an Indian reservation.
Write for Rolling Stone. Crazy, insane stuff while they spout "We love it! This is genius!"
Fit into my lime green size 12 jeans.
Wake up in Tuscany nestled between 600-thread-count sheets and wonder how I got there.
Speak fluent Porteguese and read erotic poetry aloud
And, as usual:
Scream on the top of my lungs during an inappropriate moment.

I'll refrain as well from echoing platitudes and wise sayings and crap like that.
The best advice I got was from my 87-year-old aunt, who said beginning this day I should get up off the floor, once in the morning and once at night, without holding on to anything.

"You've heard of people who fall and can't get up," she said. "Well, that's why, because they never do!"

I think that says it all.



Just when you think Neil Young can't get any better than he already is, he does.

Those of you who are sick of hearing about my idol and rock legend, too bad. I'm very prone to self-indulgence today.

His latest release, a vintage concert CD "Live at Massey Hall 1971," has hit number #6 on The Billboard charts. Not bad for a 61-year-old rocker.

What a brilliant financial and nostalgic baby-boomer move on Neil's part. How many people want to listen to new music? Most fans at concerts are screaming for their favorite oldies.

Die-hard fans, particularly the members of HyperRust Never Sleeps have been waiting for the release of Neil's archives since rumors surfaced in the early 90s.

"Massey Hall" and last fall's "Live at the Fillmore East" will be included as bonus discs in "Archives Vol. 1," a mammoth boxed set that has been in the works for 10 years and is something of a Holy Grail for Young fans, according to Jonathan Cohen, who writes for Reuters news Service.

The package, which covers Young's career from 1963-1972, is set for a fall release. It will also feature eight audio CDs, two DVDs and a 200-page book of photos and memorabilia.

No tours are planned. How could there be? The archival releases feature a 26-year-old Neil, his voice as real and shaky as the day is long.

Although I no longer write poetic notes to toss on stage and weep at a glimpse of him, I still get goose bumps, especially when I hear the haunting original lyrics of "A Man Needs a Maid."

It must mean I'm not dead yet.

Other Neil Resources on the Web:

Bad News Beat

Human Highway

Sugar Mountain setlist pages


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It was like an everyday occurance.

I walk in the door and there's my daughter, sitting on the couch, the world's happiest African Giant Millipede nestled in the palm of her hand, nibbling away on a slice of cucumber.

OK, bulging out over the palm of her hand, all black and wet-looking like your worst primordial worm nightmare gone bad.

A wild grin slapped on Rainey's 23-year-old face.

"Isn't it beautiful???" she exclaims.

If this girl had her way there would be crocodiles in the bathtub, a colony of ants in the kitchen, wooly bears crawling the walls, salamanders watching television on the arms of the recliner, and snakes sunning themselves on the windowsill.

I'm not big on slimy. Maybe it's because mothers are always cleaning up slime of one form or another.

I had to look away.

"No, I really, really do not want to pet it," I answered in a panicked, shaky voice.

Giant African millipedes can grow to be 12 inches long and live for seven years. Great.

Maybe I could borrow it and wear it to parties, like the exotic fashion, high couture even, of leashed cockroaches worn on sweaters. (Please don't tell Rainey).

For every body segment, the millipede has two pairs of legs, so they give the appearance of having hundreds of legs. When born, they only have three pairs of legs, and as they grow, they increase in size and add segments with each molt.


Some millipedes do not have eyes, but all have antennae and jaws to chew on plants. When threatened, they can excrete a foul-tasting and smelling fluid from specialized stink glands.

It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

I don't even like to touch fish, or engage in the act of fishing. One look at that little mouth gasping for air, a hook sunk through its lip, and my knees get weak.

I lean toward the warm-blooded species of the world. Escorting a little mouse out of the house and into the woods, no problem.

My daughter told me that one day she hopes to be a part of genetically manufacturing a dinosaur using cells from possibly preserved bone marrow.

I can already visualize a T-Rex in the backyard.

Keep shooting for the moon, kid, but leave me out of it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

It isn't so much I chose bemoaning life, but it's become evident lately that someone in the astral plane is messing with me.

There are those, of course, who have a right to bemoan. Job, for instance, and those who bemoan because it's funny, like Jerry Seinfeld.

There are also the annoying bemoaners, who I probably should not be naming here but you know who they are.

"Why God, why me?" they cry, and this for something as simple as getting white instead of wheat toast when they go out for breakfast or having to change the batteries in the TV remote.

I'm not quite sure which group I fall into, but I so looked forward to wearing my new bubble-gum pink loafers I got on sale for $5 at T.J. Max. The leather is so soft I'm sure they cut it right off something just born, like a baby lamb or a sweet little goat or maybe a spotted calf that only lived long enough to gaze at the world in wonder, lick it's nose and moo once, plaintively.

I slipped them on this morning and immediately sensed something was worng.

They are two left feet.

Last week my front tooth fell out, which doesn't surprise me given my dental history. This tooth , which is really a crown that used to be mounted on a tooth that broke, is screwed in.

I was just about to walk out the door and meet some friends for lunch.

Thank God for super glue, is all I have to say. So far so good, except for some vivid hallucinations of cows, Holsteins to be exact, drinking along the riverbank in Fond du Lac.

It's OK, I wasn't driving.

Can an element be against you?

In the past two months a river broke through a window and flooded my basement, a washing machine hose came flying lose twice and soaked me and a toilet leaked gallons of water through the bathroom floor and now it's running somewhere underneath the house, downhill, and making a beeline for the furnace.

Symbolic you say?

Ah, I'm a fire sign.

So whoever is trying to put me out, knock it off.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Don't mind me if I discharge a few rants today, I've gained some strength from the total lunar eclipse last night after an arctic visitor overstayed any welcome.

I was doing the police beat Saturday and I came across another ticket for public consumption. I have never been able to figure this crime out. Is it against the law to be drunk? If we happen to get drunk should we hide ourselves away? What if we don't want to drive drunk so we are walking home one night, a little tipsy, maybe weaving our way down the sidewalk, stopping to chat with light poles?

Will a nice officer drive us home?

There should be safe zones for the inebriated in the city.

Maybe they consider drunkenness disorderly conduct, like squealing your tires , which is another one I could never figure out with the bass volume in some cars these days rattling my bones and the contents of the inside of my skull.

I find the woman in Wal-Mart screaming like a banchee at her children much more disorderly, or the driver on my ass in a snowstorm (I am going 10 m.p.h. for a reason, really! )

Tony, are you out there? Why can't we burn rubber?

I was horrified to discover some gray eyebrow hairs yesterday and immediately flashed to Andy Rooney's hideous brows. If I start removing them (the hairs), I will have to then draw an eyebrow on my face which would be even worse, giving me flashbacks to the time my younger sister shaved her eyebrows off thinking it was what young girl did. What were you thinking Diane?

I need some advice here.

Enough is enough with the Internet please! I'm not sure I can take much more.

The latest headache is receiving my health insurance policy through an e-mail, some gargantuan document I can't even read because my old computer at home refuses (and I don't blame it) to load one more thing, like the acrobat reader program I supposedly need to load this document.

I don't have time to read this thing at work.

You would think, with the cost of health insurance, a Chippendale dancer would be delivering a copy of it to my door, on a silver platter.

Does anyone else out there hate reading things on the Internet?

What happened to sitting at the kitchen table, morning sun beating through the window, a cup of coffee in hand, papers spread out in front of you....

Curled up in your favorite armchair.....the cat taking up one of the arms.

In bed, pillows plumped up, the lamp on the nightstand only 60 watts so there's a warm yellow glow....

Who wants to sit at a computer and read?

What have they done to us?

One thousand years from now our rears will have evolved into immense pancakes, changing the face of furniture forever............

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The weatherman is predicting 75,000 feet of snow in this latest onslaught and I'm contemplating roller skating in the basement right now, about 8 a.m. on Saturday.

I'm also baking some sour kraut for breakfast, of which I'd forgotten how to spell "sour" just now and had to look it up.

I'm serious about a baby lamb (is that repetitive?) from Colleen Kottke's father-in-law and I think I can pull it off. The condo association owes me one after December's river-bursting-thru-window-into basement scenario.

My library books are a month overdue and I thought I'd checked them out just a few days ago.

I've started collecting twisties, you know, the kind off bread bags, and frankly, it's scares me.

Why is there nothing out there for women our age, maybe set up at the farmers' market in summer, near the bakery dept. at Wal-Mart, at Gilles' custard on a hot summer night.

"Is this normal?" You'd ask a kind face who offers you a shotglass of raspberry white chocolate cheesecake, a bra that fits perfect, thank you letters from your adult children, and a request from Hugh Laurie to fly out to L.A. on weekends to write T.V. scripts for "House" ("No one else knows the character like you do!" he laments in a taped message) all the while exclaiming softly "How do you do it?" (Implying many things but leaving it open-ended).

Other ages get help along the way, as if it's just understood they need it: mothers-to-be, babies, adolescent kids, executives (they get the FISH video) and we, the largest population in the country, WOMEN BABY BOOMERS, get nada.

People shake their heads, avert their eyes during every frantic query of: "Is it hot in here?" or
"Why do everyone's voices sound like nails on a chalk board, or is it me???"

A friend had this advice for sleeplessness: put a wafer-thin piece of turkey lunch meat on a cracker and eat it before you go to bed.

Why didn't someone tell me this before..........;-0

And before I go on and on I need to recall a trueism said by my teenage son whenever I tried to enforce a rule or ask him to do something.

"It's not always all about YOU and what YOU want mom."

Payback will be sweet.............

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I feel ashamed and guilt-ridden for having watched.

I couldn't help myself.

Did anyone else catch this week's episode of "Wife Swap?" They featured a gal who ate four-month-old raw meat she called "high meat," licked kitchen floors, brushed her teeth with butter and clay and served her family at 2 a.m. some kind of gelatinous cream.

At one point in the show her husband was huddled next to bathroom toilet sobbing uncontrollably after eating a regular hamburger and French fries.

Riveting stuff. My eyes were glued to the set.

My boss has me reading Ray Bradbury's short novel "Fahrenheit 451" as part of the Fond du Lac Library's literacy promotion that invites the community, beginning March 1, to read this book together.

Ray, Ray, Ray. You are freaking me out.

All these reality shows and vicarious thrills - he wrote about its coming to fruition - back in 1953.

In his futuristic world they burn down houses and any books sheltered within, in an assurance that this is what a dumbed-down society wants and needs.

The premise is that everything offends someone, so why not just forbid it all?

The walls inside the homes of characters living in Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which a book ignites) are television screens giving viewers the only thing they seem to want anymore.

Rapid-fire images that startle and coddle senseless minds.

I have a confession.

I have been known to turn off the President's State of the Union Address to watch a tape of "Big Brother Season: Season Four."

Sometimes I can't take anymore news, so I do get it Ray. I get how it happens - the media feeding us what we want - news stories reduced to Web hits.

My guilty pleasures: "Beauty and the Geek," "America's Next Top Model," "Rock Star," "The Bachelor" (sick, I know), and the "Biggest Loser."

There. Now you know the sordid, seedy side of me.

At this age, I do love to veg out.

If Ray's world happens, it will be our own fault.

Do you smell something burning?

Monday, February 19, 2007

You'd think that finding out you have a claim for money listed on the state's unclaimed property list would be a dream come true.

Guess again.

As with any bureaucratic process it is a lesson in mind torture, or as our own Laurie Ritger in the newsroom calls it, one of those "snowballs from hell," doomed to grow to enormity as you stand in it's path....

Although most of the time, at least in lucid moments, I know who I am, it's a whole 'nother story to prove it.

It's been three months now and I'm still waiting for a whopping $39.50 in interest left over from an account my mother had 12 years ago. Because my sister's name and my brother's name are also listed on the account, and all three are dead, I have to submit what seems like a unedited biography of our family history.

I wouldn't have bothered with the pittance of an amount but it seemed like a sentimental thing to do, the last vestige of Ruth Roznik's existence as a citizen on this planet.

I must have spent double that amount in time and effort digging through boxes in the basement for last wills and testaments, old bank accounts, birth certificates and death certificates, social security numbers and whatever else I needed as proof I am the kin next in line for this windfall.

Yes, due to unforeseen circumstances at age 49 I am the matriarch in our family, which is a freaky thing to be because my grandmothers, my aunts and uncles, survived until their late 80s, some well into their nineties.

It was only my family who had the curse and exited this plane of existence, one after the other, but that's a story for another time. It's phenomenal I am this old.

Because of the circumstances surrounding my family I have a house full of stuff everyone else owned, some kind of reciprocity of ancestorhood, I guess. In other words, whatever my siblings took when my parents died came back to me two-fold when they died.

Here's just a sampling from the boxloads: My mother's girlhood curling iron, the kind you heat up in a flame; her red plastic rhinestone sunglasses from the late 50s; my father's selective service card and dog tags; miscellaneous pocket watches from the old days and I no longer know who owned them; my brother's set of the Chip Hilton sports series; initialed cuff links in a jewelry store box from the old country; a Milwaukee Braves program from the year they won the world series; my grandfather's homemade hog-butchering knife; ration books from World War II; a metal band-aid box full of keys from every house and car my parent's ever owned; velvet dresses from the 1920s and chiffon and lace nightgowns from wistful wedding nights of long ago; my grandmother's scrub brush, the soft bristles bent sideways from wear; a rusted meat grinder; various cameras from a Kodak Brownie to a 2 1/4 Rollieflex; a 1963 hospital bill from when I had my tonsils out; hankies and doilies and gaudish pins with fake jewels.........the list goes on and on.

Somehow in all the memorabilia I can't find my father's death certificate so I had to send for it, and pay more money, LOL.

My sister-in-law sent me a copy of my brother's death certificate, which I'd never seen. He died at age 40 in Minnesota, running through an airport. It was weird to look at it, wondering what he thought those last seconds, being in a strange place, probably surrounded by strangers when he collapsed.

He was a federal corporate auditor for the IRS and I loved to tease him about how he was the dreaded tax man capable of making CEOs know, me the flower child and he a government man.

A steady stream of corporate executives showed up at his funeral to honor the man that had shown their companies how to save money. He was surrounded by bouquets that told how honest a tax man he really was.

The girls that worked in his office at the federal building in downtown Milwaukee sobbed while telling the tales of his merciless taunts: how their mittens were often found tossed up into the ceiling light fixtures.

How could they go on, they wailed, knowing there would never again be an errant mitten?

I know it's you, dear brother, behind this accounting nightmare, just like I know it was you who put a can of N/A beer in my purse at every family gathering, in the glove compartment of my car, in the medicine cabinet.

And, as for that age old question you always posed to me "I know you are but what am I?"

I can finally answer that:

You are such a part of me......................

Now help me get the damn $39.50!

Monday, February 12, 2007

I had to update my blog just now.
It was very scarey for me, I don't like change of any kind, in fact I'd put it off until they wouldn't let me log on without conforming!

I was then invited to create some widgets, feeds and custom domains, which made me involuntarily shudder. I had to look away.

I don't know what they are and don't want to know.

I'd rather have my old Smith Corona back but that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

I may be too old to keep up with all this stuff, it seems like every second I am being asked to learn something new. Is this fair?

Ah, forgive me, I had a brief lapse for a second. Life, after all, isn't fair, but no one tells you that until you are just old enough to be bitterly disappointed.

At first it's all fun and games. Then the first big blow: finding out you cannot marry your father, he is already married, followed by the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy debauchle, and the horrifying knowledge, revealed by the bullies at school, that
contrary to what your parents told you, you are not the cutest, smartest, or most talented kid in the world, let alone the best colorer.

The first time someone laughs at your hairdo or says you look like a "Dolly Madison doughnut, without the hole," it's all downhill.

Jiminey Cricket...a liar. When you wish upon a star nothing happens.

It's the same with all this walking I am doing with four pair of pants on, several layers of shirts, multiple socks, two hats, you get the picture.

If you see someone walking down Camelot Drive in Fond du Lac moving like one of those zombies from "Night of the Living Dead," you will know why.

I thought I was supposed to feel better afterwards, but instead I ache all over from the cold and all the clothes that cut off my circulation. I would like to take a hot bath, with bubbles, but the damn drain only lets the tub fill up half way. If there's a reason for this crime against humanity, I'd like to know.

I had to resort, once again, to duct tape.

Now, just to comfort myself from imminent change, childhood disappointments, and the setting in of arthritis, I am forced to ingest the following:

Seven freshly baked chocolate chips cookies, the chips still warm and melty. I tried not to, and in a lame attempt at self control gave a plateful to the man across the street from me digging, digging all day wth a backhoe.

It's no use.

I give up.

I will be taking therest of them to bed with me... for medicinal reasons.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Though I've been lax in making blog entries which believe me, leaves me racked with even more guilt than usual,in this, the bitterest cold of the season, these past two weeks have not been without thoughtful reflection, or perhaps, more accurately, wondering how to think when something is dreadfully wrong with that thought process.

Is it humanly possible to leave your car running for seven hours and not know it, you ask?


Can one bag of popcorn, burned in the microwave, cause every fire alarm in the building the size of a city block go off, including sirens on the outside of the building blaring into the chill of the city, and prompt the Fond du Lac Fire Department?


Does a can of lysol feel the EXACT same way as hairspray when you are applying it?

This has been scientifically proven.

The only saving grace to my recent state of mind was a magazine stolen from an unnamed reception room by a further unnamed person who felt that it was his/her duty to pilfer anything, without question, that has Hugh Laurie's face on the cover, and give it to me.

In the name of medical research of course, my own, and the ongoing study of the inner workings of Dr. House, and the show, which is now in it's third season.

It wasn't until Saturday that I finally pinpointed the cause of this atypical brain drain: The mindless images of Badger games flickering across the newsroom television, which is situated directly behind my desk and to the right.

While the majority of males in the newsroom are running amok, eyes agog at the muted WISCONSIN game of whatever sort flickering on the TV screen (and those that aren't are looking wistful and sheepish, pretending to fit in), I experience an overwhelming urge to flip the channel to anything else: House, Gillmore Girls, Ugly Betty, even repeats of America's Funniest Home Videos, and just sit there and watch it, intermittantly emitting gutteral utterances.

It's not something you can really discuss rationally, why sports is news and therefore merits watching at work, while Grey's Anatomy isn't. Are these men aware of the fact Meredith may be floundering at the bottom of the ocean? What is wrong with these people.

It's strange to me, this loyalty to a school or college just because you went there, and the wearing, like groupies, of goofy red shirts and hats. I'm convinced it's a complex of some kind, but I haven't put my finger on it yet. Maybe not enough hugs as a child....

The Badger bantering, always within earshot and sometimes between two men standing and shouting to each other across the newsroom, resembles the passion of young lovers: Blushing with pride, laughing uproariously at a keen observance, speaking in hushed tones of certain.... luscious moves and loyal embraces, shared indignance over a perceived injustice.

Yes people, as ritualistic as mating but this time the stimulous is an entire sports team!

I shall stop here before I get myself in trouble with my jock sister, who will say I am being sexist - women can love sports, but the only sex flocking to the TV in the newsroom and sneaking backward glances as they work, their mouths in the shapes of 0's, are the men.

Here's my only badger experience. We killed one once, a panicked response I regret to this day, to ferocious snarling heard at 1 a.m. on a summer night. It lead to the dog pen and the cornered animal, nose to nose with two male collies, poised in imminent battle. It seemed like avoiding blood shed, and possible rabies, was the right thing to do. The drooling animal had very large teeth.

I can feel bad karma to this day, the Badger bru-ha-ha my penance for the meaningless execution of Bucky...

sigh........will it be over soon??

Sunday, February 04, 2007

We finally got what we deserved, being Wisconsin and all.
An arctic blast.

Cars aren't starting. I had to pick my daughter up from work.
The furnace can't seem to keep up with the cold, and runs endlessly.

Hairdos are a mess, hair wild like straw from woolen caps.
Skin chapped from the icy wind, cheeks an angry red.
Long underwear hugs our torsos and limbs, a cocoon of comfort, and we don't care how fat we look.

We fight off sleep, our brains want to hibernate.
The dog looks at you like you as if you have gone insane.
"Go outside? You try it and see how it feels, squatting in the snow."

Piles of tax papers are scattered on the table, weakening us further. Can we make it to the couch?

Only one hardy breed of human being will shun the edict to stay indoors.

The weatherman announces it's below zero and suddenly thousands of senior citizens get into their cars and drive to the grocery store for bread and milk.

I'm not kidding. The same phenomenon happens when a snow storm blows this way.

Pick 'n Save in Fond du Lac was packed Saturday with folks carrying AARP cards. Not to diss them, I certainly wouldn't do that to a statistical majority I will be soon be joining.

Maybe it's one of those genetic memory things Dr. Darold Treffert is talking about. He's the famous Fond du Lac psychiatrist, world renowned for his studies on the autistic savant, and now, this genetic memory thing that theorizes our DNA includes memories from our ancestors.

Like when we were trapped in an icy cave without any mastodon soup.

I'm sure our elderly brethren are hearkening back to the days of their own youth, when winter's worst wrath meant roads shut down for days, water pumps froze and pipes burst, hot water bottles warmed beds, carrots and potatoes were rotting in the root cellar and livestock keeled over because the crops didn't last through the long frozen season.

Excuse me, I think I'm heading out to Pick 'n Save.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Our editors request short, snappy blog posts, so I'm continuing the Baby Boomer generalization dissection of definitions posed in Wikipedia.

Like this one, for example:

"Many boomers focus desperately on the successes and failures of their children."

Anyone who ever attended a little league game can vouch for the accuracy of the above statement. Add beer to the mix and it's a free-for-all of parental puppetry.

Maybe Boomers are overcompensating with their own children because they were raised under a foreboding fear of SHAME "How could you do this, do you know you are killing your mother!" and HUMILIATION "What will the neighbors think!"

Maybe our generation was such a let-down after the pride experienced during World War II and we are trying to make up for it through our kids.

Maybe it's a futile attempt to make up for the loss of extended family, for working all the time, for our own neurosis, you know, some of the men never hugged by their fathers...Some of the women scorned for leaving the kitchen for careers.

I can tell you we weren't raised to dote on children. My brother biked 6 miles one way to get to football practice. My dad was at work and my mom didn't drive. The extent of parental involvement was attending the annual school Christmas concert, teacher conferences, an occasional game of Yatzee at night, and a summer trip to the Wisconsin Dells to ride the Ducks and see the Indians selling their wares along the side of the road.

I was brought up Lutheran and much like the people in Lake Wobeggon we learned at a young age 1)Don't talk about yourself (although lamentations were allowed) 2) Don't boast or brag about anything 3) Don't call attention to yourself and 4) If praise comes your way, deny it, practicing phrases like "are you kidding me? I hate my hair!"...."You mean this old rag?" .... "She got straight A's because the classes were so easy"

Who knows what is right or wrong, although some people claim to. The age-old quest of the sage, I suppose, is a life of balance, which, like a brass ring just out of reach on the merry-go-round, I can't quite seem to grasp.

Friday, January 26, 2007

MSN now has a new lifestyle page for Baby Boomers and I thought I'd take a look because I'm supposed to be one.

I was immediately horrified, coming face to face with a gray, mustachioed Dick Van Dyke.

Help me please, I am not one of you.

I used to watch that show when I was kid.
The best episode: when Laura Petri got her big toe stuck in the bathtub faucet. Because of that show, I never put my toes anywhere near a spigot. (See how educational television is?)

So I checked out Wikipedia to see who the baby boomers really are.

The explanation reads like some kind of rocket science. There are Baby Boomer #1s, those born between 1946 -1954; and Baby Boomer #2s (1955 to 1963) also known as Shadow Boomers; not to be confused with the children of Baby Boomers, Echo Boomers.

The defining moment for all 80 million of us, it said, was the Vietnam War, and the new generation of thought that blasted forth.

The blast was short-lived and seemed to take an about face.

According to Wikepedia:

Many boomers focus desperately on the successes and failures of their children.

The generation's tendency is to regulate personal behavior (as in alcohol, drug use, and the content of cultural creations)in a way sterner than that of the "uptight" adults that boomers knew during the Consciousness Revolution. As an example, boomers have been in the forefront of efforts to attack the pathologies (drunk driving, domestic abuse) of drunkenness and drug use. Boomer prosecutors have shown unusual willingness to impose severer sentences on criminal offenders, including "three strikes" laws and the death penalty.

Boomers have played a strong role in attempts to make America more overtly religious. Many have turned to fundamentalist Christianity as a solution to what they see as social rot. Thus, one finds a rise in creationist dogma and the promotion of prayer in public schools to an extent not known since the time of the Scopes Trial.

"Who am I?" someone screamed through my head, reverberating like a super ball.

MSN further divided boomers into categories: the Easy Glider takes each day as it comes; the Adventurer makes daring changes with his or her life; the Continuer continues to use existing skills, interests and activities but modifies them to fit retirement; the Searcher tries out different careers or hobbies to find something that will bring him or her happiness; the Involved Spectator cares deeply about the world, however, because of illness or other circumstances, they are not as involved as they used to be; and the Retreater, the only negative category, is confused and upset about retirement.

I hope someone figures out soon who those of us in the latter part of this generation are supposed to be.

I'm waiting............

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rummaging through some old boxes in the attic I found all my old concert T-shirts crumpled in an army surplus backpack.

The disparaging part of this momentous find was the physical tiny-ness of these shirts. I wondered how they could have shrunk to doll-like proportions after lying in wait for over 30 years for the day an almost 50-year-old would look upon them and weep.

Could I have possibly been that size?

Holy mother of menopause, what the heck happened here?

I teetered on a wobbly wooden ladder, my body wedged up into the hole in the ceiling as I hauled out a halter top with feathers, a floor-length cotton dress embroidered in flowers, a faded pair of bib overalls and purple hip-huggers with white polka dots (I'm not kidding).

"The Pretender" tour by Jackson Browne in dark Navy blue still has the rip under the arm from when the concert crowd, tired of waiting behind fences at Summerfest, broke down the gates and stampeded to gain good seats.

Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run concert T-shirt recalls a drunken friend who fled with my camera at the concert, then dropped it from the highest point in the Milwaukee arena.

Numerous tours of Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse flank the chest area of several articles of apparel that endured numerous washings in a futile attempt to remove stains from various high school, then college art classes. I know the exact shirt I was wearing when Neil's tour bus pulled into Alpine Valley one year, maybe 1979, and Neil stuck his head out the window to gawk at some picketing workers.

Here we are in the years, a bit bigger, but no worse for wear, at least that's what I keep telling myself, though it was no consolation, when, after lamenting the story to a friend he exclaimed "At least you still fit through the hole in ceiling."

Very loud




Yours is coming.........

Saturday, January 20, 2007

On female spontaneity at 50:

One minute you may be standing at the bathroom mirror brushing your teeth and noticing that a haircut is long overdue.

Your intent was to get the phone book out of the cupboard and make a hair appointment.

Instead you grabbed the kitchen scissors and the next thing you know the sink is full of frizzy locks.

The look of shock on your own face...


Thursday, January 18, 2007

We are facing a soon-to-be national crisis and I've yet to hear anyone in politics step forward with a plan.

I'm beginning to worry.

I'm talking about nursing homes and how they will handle the influx of aging rockers - all equipped with their own sound systems.

There will be music wars. While the Who's "Teenage Wasteland" blasts from one room, another is cranking out Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy" to drown out the screams of Jim Morrison's "L.A. Woman" wafting down the fluorescent hallways. Not to mention the deadheads gathered in the sitting room jamming for 24 hours straight while nearby Beatle-mania fans still play the White Album backwards, ears bent close to the record player.

I wonder how the powers-that-be will get this aging group who grew up on the philosophy "question authority" to follow any rules. If forced to make pot-holders in craft class, exercise to piano music at the sit-and-be-fit activity and eat Cream of Wheat it may just give rise to geriatric anarchy.

They will want their twinkies and burgers, some incense to burn, Starbucks coffee, sleep number mattresses and yoga class.

If I could just find an investor for my "Rust Never Sleeps mini-mall rest home, the future would look inviting....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

There's something about January and this time of year that lends a pallid droop to the face, a hollowness around the eyes and echoes of the brain bickering with itself.

Native Americans called this month the "Moon of Bickering."

And though we try to fight it off with all our strength, which of course is very little this time of year, it makes us crave white bread at midnight, toasted, with globs of butter.

Those in the know say it's the month in which incidents of suicides spike, the culprit most likely being the tendrils of self-doubt that drift (and this was scientifically proven during the Ken Kesey acid tests performed in Berkeley in the 1960s) out your mouth and nose, and proceed to strangle you while whispering in your ear "you don't deserve to be happy..."

The 6 a.m. banging of a snow shovel against my condo's sidewalk Tuesday rousted me from an ensuing fight between my capital self, wanting a paycheck, and the crazy woman who tries to talk me out of rising while it's still dark. She wants to leave for a northern California beach, and she wants to leave right now.

(What? Neil Young lives there you say? I didn't realize...)

Second only to smell, sound is a time machine, and the clink of the shovel sent me back to my upstairs bedroom, late 70s. It's still dark, maybe 5 a.m. and my dad is shoveling the driveway outside my bedroom window while everyone sleeps a warm sleep.
He's shoveling my car out of a house-high snow drift.

Tell me how you follow in boot prints that big?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"What value is it to do the right thing only if you feel like it?"
Somebody said this.

Kudos to the communities in this nation that have banned dog tethering or chaining.

According to Unchain Your Dog it's happening from coast to coast and it couldn't be soon enough.

Even as a child my stomach lurched to see dogs living their lives chained to a doghouse. Imagine it. I mean, even caged birds sing, remember? It's because they're not tied up, a fate worse than death.

This morning my contemplative morning route around the pond was shattered by a man in a rickety tri-cycle-like contraption being pulled by a pack of verbally-abused huskies. The guy screamed every expletive in the book, mostly the phrase "(Insert name of some people's Creator here) damn it!" every ten seconds, while the thing on wheels careened and overturned and the dogs left a trail of nasty, poor-grade dog food excrement. Yeesh.

Though I know nothing about the sport of dog sledding this looked like some kind of lesson in pain, the screaming rated "flinch-level."

This brought to mind a sight I saw traveling along Highway 23 in the county, a rural residence with about 50 husky dogs tethered to igloo dog houses. Most stood or sat atop their little shelters...Probably waiting to be set free.

I know huskies are athletes, and like Springsteen, are born to run, but to be tied up when they aren't running, this act still makes my stomach turn.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Technology, video games, television and computers are blamed for the sedentary lifestyles of Americans.

I blame gym teachers who physically and mentally tortured young minds in the sixties to the tune of "Go you chicken fat, go."

I still have nightmares about Mr. Lewer, (who, rumor had it back then, lived in the sewer and ate manure) our gym teacher for the duration of grade school.

If it wasn't for him I believe I could have nurtured some kind of athletic achievement, although my brother insisted there was no one in the world as lacking in coordination as I was.

I don't know if Mr. Lewer had experience in the military, but he was a foreboding presence, who in his spare time, held smokey poker games with two sixth grade teachers over the noon hour in the ball storage room off the gym.

For girls, the humiliation of donning gym clothes - ballooning, blue shorts and a white, short-sleeved blouse - was coupled with the fact our locker room consisted of a circle of lockers set in front of the entrance to the gym. We undressed inside that "corral" with it's peepholes and peering points for leering young boys.

Using humiliation as a tactic, which believe me, wasn't necessary with our pasty-white winter legs, way before our mothers let us shave them, or even use deodorant, Mr. Lewer marched us into the gym and made us line up by height and "sound off" by calling out our numbers.

Though I've tried to block out the worst tortures endured, some of the highlights include pelting each other with stinging rubber balls, often in the face, during raucous rounds of what was called "murder ball;" being weighed as everyone watched, the amount called out so it echoed through the gym; being forced to run what seemed like miles around and around the athletic field with shorts stops to puke along the way; and the requirement of climbing to the top of the gym ceiling on a large rope, and if you couldn't, being forced to "hang and swing" at the bottom while everyone counted in unison.

Once I took a forbidden drink out the bubbler during a rare "open gym day" and was forced to stand in the corner through several classes. He then took me in a small room where he had his own bed, although it was supposed to be for the kids who couldn't stop puking, and grilled me as to whether I was "having any problems at home."

Good old Mr. Lewer. It was with great pain I kept my mouth shut when he showed up at a grade school reunion a few years back. I had promised my twin friend Jane, who organized the gathering, that I wouldn't raise any ruckus but it took all my strength, and a few stiff drinks.

So for all those out there wondering how I could possibly fall and hurt myself just putting on socks, blame Mr. Lewer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Poor Willow, the missing greyhound that tugged at the heartstrings of people who knew her plight is dead, found lying near railroad tracks in Waupun after a two-week run from domestic life.

Maybe he was having flashbacks of his life as a racing greyhound when he and his pal, Dahlia, decided to bolt through an open gate in their back yard.

I can relate. In a former life I raised collies and showed them, which is a whole 'nother story. If anyone has seen the movie "Best in Show," it's right on in its hilarious depiction of " purebred dog people."

Much of the fruits of my 12-year-long hobby entailed "flushing money that grows from the tree in the back yard" down the toilet.

My last collie was named Pearl, a blue-headed white female who came from Vermont. She was a payback puppy from a male I had sold.

Collies are noble creatures as anyone who loves or read the works of Albert Payson Terhune knows, but Pearl seemed to suffer from a form of dog ADD.

One day someone, let's say a teenage boy related to me, was blowing off Black Cat firecrackers in the back yard firepit, strings of 100 at a time, when Pearl freaked out and vaulted a five-foot chain link fence as if she were Bambi's father bounding over the forest on fire.

She was gone for 11 days, during which time I learned from Sheboygan's Search & Rescue Team that some canines freak-out when they run away, lose their minds and become feral.

Of course, that would apply to Pearl.

She could hear our voices but would run the other way. She was spotted often by neighbors, a white flash disappearing into the tall pines that populate the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest.

We dumped bags of dog food along the roadways, another trick we learned. One day we got a call that she was sighted and I tore down the road to see her peering out from some brush along the side of the road.

I threw liver out the car window at increments until I was close enough to grab her. The minute I touched her the light bulb went on again and she kind of collapsed in my arms.

Lassie she was not, but "Pearlie Girl" had a good heart and now lives in Minnesota with a registered nurse.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Today is "French Day" at work.
None of us have any idea what this means, and therein, lies the beauty.

We think it may be just an excuse for assistant news editor Tom Guenther to bring in his Brigette Bardot records, but c'est la vie....

I told you early in this blog I would someday explain what "Days" are in The Reporter newsroom, oops, I mean "Information Center." Silly me.

It's a way for those who work the Saturday shift to exercise the collective conscious, somewhat like the Borg, because, alas, we have no access to a "Holodeck," in which we could act out our fantasies, meek ones, of course, like making a living beading hair on a pink-sand beach island, wrapped in a tie-dyed sarong while sipping drinks made of mangos and papayas.

In that life we have perfect toes because we would never have to wear wool socks to bed to keep warm.

It started one day when Gary, the page editor mentioned it was the anniversary of the Concert For Bangladesh.

Gary: "I have the album!"

Tom: "So do I!"

Sharon (near hysteria) "Me too!"

As if, somehow, that were miraculous. (I told you we need real lives).

I won't bore you with details of how we brought our records and forced everyone else to bring in something from the sixties and how editor Mike Mentzer brought "The Letterman" and we tittered, "he is such an innocent!"

Since then this obscure theme day has been relegated to select Saturdays, the pathetic-ness of it being it is no more than a display table set up amidst the mad pounding of key boards, the scanner sounding and pages being sent to the press by deadline.

Some highlights: "Jimmy Hendrix Are You Experienced Day;" "Beatles/Apple Day," which required everyone bring something made of apples; "If There's a Rock 'n Roll Heaven You Know They've Got a Hell of a Band/Thanksgiving Day;" and "Gloria Day," any Gloria.

It's always a free day. Participation and/or an explanation is not required. Since no one is told what to do or bring it's a delightful surprise to see a rare collector Beatles album turn up or a fringed leather jacket, circa 1973.

Or hear sports editor John Casper's horror story of the night he was having dinner with his parents and the debauchle that occurred over reciting the wrong Jimmy Hendrix words, a phrase, in fact, many of us have gotten wrong, John, believe me. Don't be so hard on yourself.

But just for the record it is "'scuze me, while I kiss the sky," not " this guy."

If you viewed the ragged lot of us, personalities that would probably never meet or share a passing glance in real life, it's a very "groovy" happening.

After all, who knew Brigette Bardot could sing?

Take it from me, she can't. It was laughable, at best, although the guys called it "soothing." ;-D

Monday, January 01, 2007

The year 2007 has been a long-time coming (insert David Crosby here).
I could hardly stand the wait.

As I understand it, every seven years our cells regenerate, which means we all get new hair, skin, finger-nails, all that good stuff.

If you do the math, since I'm turning 50 this year, it's the start of a whole new 7-year-cycle, and the year is 2007!

It's going to be a big one, people, believe me. I'm giddy with anticipation....

Here's some more cool stuff from the world of numerology about the number 7 I gleaned from Suite 101.

There are seven main planets in the zodiac.
There are seven continents in the world.
There are seven wonders of the world.
There are seven colors in the rainbow.
There are seven days in a week.
There are seven seas on the Earth.
There are seven petals in the Lotus, the Sacred Seat of Lord Buddha, regarded as the most sacred flower by the people of the Eastern countries.

The book of Revelations, refers to the following:

The seven heavens.
The seven thrones.
The seven seals.
The seven churches.
The seven spirits of God.

Ezekiel speaks of “The seven angels of the Lord that go to and from through the whole earth.”

There are seven generations from David to the birth of Christ.

Egyptian religion repeatedly talks of the seven spirits.

Medically, it is established that every seven years, biological changes take place in the chemistry of human beings, both male and female.

It is commonly said all over the world that every person on this Earth would have six other persons living somewhere with the similar features and looks making it a total of seven persons being look-alikes for each and every one.

Astrologically the number 7 represents the planet Neptune and the zodiacal sign Pisces, a lover and peace maker.

Let's hope, with all the hope we have.