Wednesday, December 30, 2009

MATC Graduation

I had the opportunity to attend the MATC graduation on December 22nd. I know, it's a community college, and the mid-year graduation and all, but I was expecting some pomp and circumstance. It was at the USCellularena, so the Jumbotron was there to assist those of us in the nosebleed seats. I was too far away to get any good shots of the people I knew who were graduating, one of whom didn't come anyway.
Speaking of Jumbo, plenty of attendees took advantage of popcorn from the concession stand.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I miss Goldmann's.

My brother and I had our annual tradition: Christmas shopping and lunch at Goldmann's Department Store on Mitchell. We would buy "cherries on a wire" for mom, undershirts for me, nonironically retro-esque craft supplies, and other things that only they seemed to sell. The lunch counter was awesome. How can a place-a Milwaukee icon- close after being open for the previous 111 years? Was it because of people like me, who only shopped there once a year? Why didn't I appreciate them more? Where am I going to buy undershirts?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah...

...come light the menorah.Happy Hanukkah!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Cycle Rampage!

Weather was fantastic for the Santa Cycle Rampage today. Throngs of Santas (and reindeer and elves and a fairy [?!]) participated. Cops were on hand just in case Santa was naughty.

Santa brought toys to pass out too- effigies of himself.

In a sea of Coca-Cola Santas, Father Christmas stands alone.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Perfect day for ice

Dog paw sculpture outside of the doggie spa.

It was cold today, but not too cold to walk outside, and most of the time the sun was shining: the perfect day for ice sculptures. What could be more awesome than taking a walk to the grocery store in Shorewood and watching intrepid artists carving giant blocks of ice?

I'm not sure what this (above) is supposed to be. A heart? A butt? It's kind of sexy. I like the way the light was shining on it. Ok, it's pretty hot. I can't believe it didn't melt itself.

Well, I learned something interesting about ice sculptures. What's different about the picture above and the one below? The above shot was taken about 45 minutes before the next one, below.

Aha- I always thought you could only take away from an ice sculpture, by shaving or carving. As it turns out, you can also add parts to one. The miracle of ice!

Of course, it would have been even more awesome if any of the artists was carving otter shapes, since otters LOVE ice. It would have been great symbolism. But alas...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Schroeder Books and Music

Schroeder Books & Music, 7629 W. Greenfield Avenue, Westallica: shelves piled high with books and magazines in genres that you can't find anywhere else. (Adjacent to the "Americana" section is "Linconana.") It's always worth a look-see here. I've imagined that every book ever published is in there...somewhere.

I found a Workbasket Magazine from the 1950's, in case I ever want to tat a doily. These are collectible little mags with historical value- not just needlework (presumably kept in a tidy basket by the hearth) but also for the ads. ("Steady pay every day as a Practical Nurse! Enjoy security, no recession for Nurses. Earn to $65 per week, good times or bad. Florence Nightingale School of Nursing.") As I checked out, the lady said,
"We have hundreds of Workbaskets."
The mind reels!

I mentioned that I'm a longtime customer (sporadically) and used to go to the old store on 7th and Wisconsin, when it was across the street from the old Duncan Donuts, back in the 80's and early '90's. This was before the "revitalization" of downtown Milwaukee. She told me about the fire that destroyed the store- they had two locations at that time- and thousands of books stored beneath the street, all destroyed. But they have plenty again, so make sure you do some Christmas shopping for the lover of historic needework patterns or Linconana aficionado in your life.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holiday Folk Fair!

I love the Holiday Folk Fair. It's kind of an annual tradition. I made sure to get there hungry today and immediately stuffed myself with a Siopao, the Filipino steamed bun, washed down with hot ginger tea. This was followed by Danish pastry and then Klobasa, a Slovak sausage.Of course, then I was stuffed like a sausage myself, and perfectly content to watch everybody else dance to the amazing accordion-infused live band.

People from all over the world, dancing the same dance! Fantastic!

This year's theme is "Celebrate the Weavings of Culture," which was broadly interpreted as fiber arts of all kinds being demonstrated and discussed in the cultural area. The secrets of knitting cables were imbued on me by a kindly mystical Irishman. Nearly lost arts like tatting and bobbin lace were proudly and nimbly executed by women with lightning-fast fingers. People's willingness to share and explain? Priceless! Especially since I got a miracle ticket!

The Holiday Folk Fair continues tomorrow (November 22nd, 2009) from 10am-7pm at the State Fair Expo Center.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Amazing bat photos!

These are some amazing shots!

It took weeks for wildlife photographer Kim Taylor to rig wires over a pond and get photos of difficult-to-photograph bats over his garden pond in Surrey, UK. I hope you enjoy the link!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I love you, even when your heart is cold.

Autumn. My favorite season. Apple pies, pumpkin, clear cool nights, and extra-snuggly cats; getting the sweaters out (I never really did put them away this year); fresh, clean air... ...multicolored trees...

...sunlight dappled on colorful leaves...

...and intensely blue skies. I'll take it sunny and cold over cloudy and warm any day.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vibrant and alive!

We spent some time in the arts district in Asheville, NC, by the river where it's kind of like a constant version of the Riverwest Art Walk here. You can tour artists' workspaces- it's pretty neat. This was inside a mazelike building full of different art spaces. I got a little lost inside.
This one below was on an abandoned building by the train tracks. Creepy, and cool.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nature shots

Usually it seems that the National Forests in any state are the best places to hike and camp. The Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky was no exception. We found this turtle on one of the trails. Isn't he adorable?
In case you were wondering, it did rain on our trip. A lot. Well, every day, but not all day. The usual procedure was thus: find a place to camp, set up the tent under clear skies, awaken to rain. The mountains were indeed smoky.
And, awesome mushrooms appeared everywhere. This one below popped up after a rain, shredding this leaf as it grew. My camera came home full of fungus, so to speak.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'd like it here if I could leave and see it from a long way away...

Have you been to the Art Bar on Burleigh?

It is amazing to me that any time I walk in there, it smells like Milwaukee to me. I can't quite define it. It just smells familiar, comfortable, like my own home town that I (usually) love. Do you know what I mean?

We spent ten days wandering generally south, all the way to North Carolina, and then back north again, and visited a lot of places. Louisville, Kentucky (pre-flooding) was probably the nicest and most hospitable. We met a lady there who mentioned a campaign of sorts called Keep Louisville Weird. That is, that the residents wanted to retain the local color and flavor of their city, and support the local businesses that help keep it feeling like a place- its own place- rather than the ubiquitious chains that can make every place feel and taste and seem the same. There is something similar in Austin, TX, she said. Actually, we do have a thing like that here in Milwaukee; it just has a less evocative title.

The whole trip really made me think, what are the things that I would want to do if I were a tourist here? What if I had 24 or 48 hours to visit and wanted to see and do the things, old and new, that make Milwaukee Milwaukee? What would I tell myself to experience?

Leon's, yes, definitely. A brewery tour. Which one? Coffee, where? Alterra? (It's a chain, but a local one.) The lakefront, definitely, and the Calatrava. Live music of a local nature, and a beer- where for that? What about art? Sparrow Collective, maybe? Riverwest? Those are the kind of things I try to do when I am somewhere else- experience the real place, not (anathema!) the McDonald's version.

I've talked to people who have lived here and are moving away. An oft-cited reason is "it's too small." I really don't think so. Trying to come up with a list like that above, I am conflicted: there is a lot of choice. What do you think?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Snakes, bats, and rodents

Super cute! The area we were traveling in is salamander central. This little guy posed nicely for me, don't you think?

Here's the sign on the ladies' restroom door at the first campground we stayed in at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We saw plenty of each. There were lots of bats at night, which were eating mosquitos and making the campground more pleasant. I love their evening flutters.

Above is a copperhead about to go into the water. Other people on the Abram's Falls trail were afraid of snakes. Some even turned back. Snakes are pretty cool, I think. We did run into a black bear on a different trail, though;I was unable to get a good shot of that even though it was close (150 feet or so), as my hands were shaking a bit. It was getting toward dusk more late afternoon hiking, I think.

Of course rodents abounded as well.

Dollar Pabst in a can

I thought that was a Milwaukee thing, that somehow Pabst became cool again here. (Cold, and cool, simultanously.)

Turns out it's not! It's a Pabst thing, not a Milwaukee thing.

Every city we visited between here and Asheville (which touts itself as Beer City USA, incidentally) had dollar PBR in a can. I thought we were special. It was great to see the hometown brew everywhere, though.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I hate it when people steal my stuff!

When we got back from our trip we found that someone stole our canoe while we were gone.

I doubt the "new owners" will enjoy it as much as we have. I imagine it was scrapped for the aluminum, which makes it even sadder to me.

But, since we really can't canoe on the river like we used to, maybe it doesn't matter anyway.

(Next up: more vacation shots.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mts are beautiful

There is an amazing but treacherous road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park- a one-way gravel road that winds from north to south, winding, winding; it's crazy amazing. We did have some idea of what we were getting into from the book we brought with, a map we got in the park, and also a warning sign at the start of the road, explaining- so that the intrepid traveler could consent in an informed fashion- that it was an eight-mile gravel road that would likely take an hour to drive.

Hair was raised on our arms. But it was gorgeous.

There were few others who were taking this same road with us. One of the other vehicles was a little sedan that kind of raced up behind us, not downshifting (as would be advisable). We pulled over on one of the pulloffs that occured every mile or so. The little sedan pulled up beside us, and the couple inside rolled down to ask us, as if we were in a Grey Poupon commercial, "Did you get your directions off of Google Maps or Mapquest?" We laughed pretty hard about that as they raced off.

We also saw three elk, chillaxing in the afternoon. I had really hoped to see elk.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beverly Shores, Indiana

The first night we were gone on our road trip, we stayed near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.Parts of it are beautiful, even amazing (giant sand dunes!) but this part (above), maybe not so much. Busloads of school kids came to splash around in the shadow of the power plant's cooling tower. It looks like a nuclear plant, but it's not.

Nearby Beverly Shores, IN was our next stop. Some of its homes were transported there via barge across Lake Michigan after their exhibition at the 1933-34 "A Century of Progress" Chicago's World's Fair; some of the beachfront homes are abandoned. There are three existing Lustrons in the town. We found two of them. This yellow one at 729 Lake Front Drive, which overlooks Lake Michigan.

This blue (or blue-green, I find it difficult to discern the difference) Lustron below had no house number on it. It was on Montana just off Lake Front Drive.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back home!

We're back home safe and sound after a trip to the Smoky Mountains and visiting several cities besides. It's great to travel and great to be back home with fresh perspective. What a great country we live in! I have a camera full of photos and a notebook full of ideas...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pretty much bored?

I heart the Westown Farmer's Market, totally. It's always a good time. The kettle corn cowboy guy- gotta love him. Somehow it's always festive. The produce is amazing.Anyway, it's every Wednesday from 10am to 3pm in Zeidler Square park --on Michigan between Third & Fourth Streets --until October 28th.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Satellite Crepes

Satellite Crepes is at the Westown Farmer's Market every time I go, and other places too. What a fun thing. So innovative, so Milwaukee.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bike Path diversion

I don't know why this threw me for a tizzy today.

I use the bike path for transportation rather than recreation, so oft I am in a hurry to actually get somewhere on it. The detour was not well marked and there was a dude sort of half sleeping in a car right on the other side of the orange block-my-way thing, who gave me a weird look when I let out a very unladylike utterance. I figured out how to get back onto Wilson Drive and then back onto the bike path from the Culver's lot. This is until September 20-something or so. Bleah. The awesomest part of the bike path is, of course, being able to sail over Capitol Drive traffic.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

World Hoop Day

Today, 09/09/09, was designated by some awesome person as World Hoop Day.

In Milwaukee, that meant hooping by the Sunburst downtown. Perfect! I have always loved that public sculpture. Familiar, happy, a beacon. I never realized before that it is on a kind of round dais, a perfect place for a random fun thing like hoop dance at lunchtime. A lot of downtown-working folk were around, walking, obtaining lunch, staring-- some even joined in. It was fantastic.

Normally, I work at noon on Wednesdays, but I was late on purpose today. I am supposed to be promoting wellness and "convincing" people to exercise more. You know, saying things like "find physical activity that you enjoy so that you are motivated to stick with it."

And what could be more motivating than learning new hoop tricks from these beautiful people?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Down by the lake, aina?

For whatever reason, I rarely go down by the lake. Why? It's just always there. I could go anytime, and so I NEVER do. Well, we went on Labor Day. It was amazing.

Look! It's like vacation!

I call these Gilligan's Island bikes.
You can even rent a Segway, if you are so inclined. Or even if you are on a flat surface.
Giant windsocks festoon the kite store.

Fun was had by all.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gloomy day

Ah, there's nothing like a chilly, gloomy day in August, eh?
I took these awhile ago and never put them up. They seemed kind of depressing, but I'll say "meditative" today.
Just a little something to think about- the juxtaposition of nature and our urban environment.
Plus, bridges just look awesome.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dam debris photos

On Sunday, Brain and I went canoeing on the Milwaukee River, scraping bottom many times. I got a few photos (some of them are even beautiful, but not these). When I saw this article by Chris Liebenthal on the subject (worth reading), I figured I should probably post them. I don't know if you remember, but earlier this month, there was an offer- by volunteers- (article here) to remove the woody debris, thwarted by the need for an environmental pollutant assessment- which would cost $100,000, and was not in the budget. Huh. There is a lot of debris down by the dam. We were astounded. Look at all the plants growing in it! Did I say plants? I meant noxious weeds.

And, best of all, some enterprising individuals have even built a little cabin with a deck out to the river, using found wood (see below).