Monday, July 27, 2009


I am not sure if this license plate is indicating that "God's got your back" or if the intent is that God is like Santa Claus, seeing when one is naughty. Either way, it made me slightly uncomfortable. Maybe it is a reference to the Rapture. (There was a bumper sticker popular a few years ago, something like, "In the event of Rapture, this car will be unmanned" or something like that.)
It doesn't come even close to SPA RIB though. I saw that plate last week.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

You are here, love is here

This weekend I went hiking with a longtime friend in the Kettle Moraine (Southern Unit). This was carved into a bench on a scenic overlook.

This weekend brought three rainbows- actually, four, since the one above was a double arc- the photos I got of both weren't as bright. It was indeed amazing though.

And here's a spider chillaxin'. Neither of us could identify the plant, but I wonder if it was an invasive. As it was, I personally exterminated several Emerald Ash Borers.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gallery Night 7/24

Gallery Night last night was amazing. Brain had a drum gig last night at one of the venues, leaving me free once again to explore art that I liked at my own pace. I started off at MIAD where there was a senior exhibition. I was particularly taken by this piece by Brittany Renee Miller- a series of mostly-silkscreened panels. As you can see, not only is each separate panel different on one side from the other, but the whole is much, much greater than the sum of each part.

Miller's piece starts with some of the chemical compounds that make up the human body, and ends with poetry and some other things. Obviously a photo cannot do an art object like this justice.

On to the Tory Folliard Gallery, below. The art was great; the people-watching, even better.

Lastly, on to the Pritzlaff Building, where more MIAD students were presenting art that took into account the cavernous space and the long history of the building.

The art above is concentric circles several feet in diameter, made of paper figurines, representing the ripples we all create through history. It is quite breathtaking. It looks like a galaxy seen from far, far away, except that it is made up of people instead of stars.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Heart Growing Power

I love Growing Power on Silver Spring. Everybody there is just super. The pic above is a young lady helping an older couple collect some compost/topsoil and get it into their car. Below is one of the greenhouses. Probably it would have been a good idea to open the screen door to get a better shot, but I was being stealthy.

Sadly, they had no eggs today. "They all went to the market," said the clerk. "We just have to wait on the ladies to lay more." Plan: call ahead next time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nestled snugly

Meanwhile, on the Marquette campus, adjacent to the interchange... This building is going up, nestled perfectly into the graceful curve of the on-ramp.

I am enjoying watching the process, as week by week I pass by. Since it's in a carpool situation, a couple weeks ago I handed my camera to my passenger, who got these for me (full disclosure).

It's just so perfect- the form, the shape.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The MKE vida loca

Summerfield Open Door center held a fundraiser yesterday that was advertised thus: "See wonders that will amaze you."

Tamarind Tribal Belly Dance troupe: back, back, and...

Well, sure enough, they were right. is this even possible?

Distinctively Different sang too. I heart them muchly. Four-part harmony: Heidi, Darlene, Paula, and Lynda.

Distinctively Different vocal quartet

Crazy hoop dancing. The guy (above) is part of a male belly-dancing troupe in his free time.

More belly dance, above.
Michael Jackson tribute- PYT (Pretty Young Thing).

And lastly, Shaia, who orchestrated the event.
There also was the most amazing pie EVER. I didn't even think to take a picture of the pie- everything else was busy amazing me. Some of the pictures are blurred- it is difficult to get photos of constantly moving people!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dam vandalism

Apparently, someone cut the wires to the dam- coinciding with the first part of some repair work- and a portion of me is upset, but not for the reasons you might think.

I decided I don't care about dams. I care about people. Re-read some of my last posts, if you do not believe me. One of the wonderful things that has happened through being part of MRPA- and I will mention here that I resigned from my secretarial role on Tuesday- is that I have gotten to know some wonderful, dear people, whom I would never otherwise have gotten the opportunity to meet (as I posted recently, digging through garbage helps you meet your neighbors, metaphorically speaking).

What do I care about? What is important to me? What do I want to spend my time and concern on? Well, I got a new job that started on Wednesday. I didn't have to apply. I was chosen. It's a new role within my current job: a new focus, and one that I care about passionately. (No more money, but most good things start with no more money.) I started a new blog to celebrate, and maybe you will join me over there. It's a little raw. It'll get better. I've had a little practice blogging. Actually, everything I learned as part of this whole dam experience has helped me in ways that will help me help others- I hope you followed that line of reasoning.

Another point I would like to make is that my character was defamed. Mom, DO NOT click the link (my personality traits did not come out of nowhere). I will speak with people, rationalize, philosophize, discuss, what have you, but persons who choose to criticize the core of my character (and not my opinions, which are two completely separate things)- well, if you were my patient, I would still be kind to you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

School for Nvrses

This is the door of the original Columbia Hospital School for Nurses, which I attended in the 1990's; at that time, this building was used for staff offices. It's rather ornate inside as well.

Back in the day, every hospital had its own training program for nurses. Nursing education has changed a lot since then- what used to be mostly practical training programs (difficult ones, at that) morphed into baccalaureate, master's degree level, and now even doctoral level (not PhD, but actual doctorate degrees in nursing). Health care has changed also, even in the relatively short time that I've been working in the field- Obama's proposed national computerized charting system has my mind spinning, personally. But that is another topic for other blogs. I meant to write about hospital buildings themselves, and one special one in particular.

Detail of doorway. I especially adore this Latinate lettering.

I love ornate old buildings.
I love looking at them.
I love walking into them, into ancient doorways through which many have passed. I love marble or terrazzo stairways worn with countless footfalls, wooden banisters that have the patina of having been polished by years' worth of hands. I love old windows with uneven glass, even though they leak heat in our harsh Wisconsin winters. I love old buildings.

Same building- ivy-covered in the springtime. The first night I was there, I figured out how to sneak onto the roof, which became a favorite and special place.

I don't know what is going to happen to this place once the adjacent hospital is closed. My hope is that it will be made more energy-efficient and repurposed into at least somewhat-affordable condos or apartments. The rooms inside were just so beautiful; but even fifteen years ago, the whole building was in a sad state of disrepair.

Time will tell.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brighten your day with new photos and HOPE

Cindy sent me some more photos. I wish I would have looked at them earlier because they are real day-brighteners.

Clark and Cindy

I added several to the parade photostream. Honestly, I don't know everyone's name. So....erm...maybe you can leave a comment on a photo.

Now would probably be a good time to make a shameless plug for Relay for Life. It's a fundraiser through the American Cancer Society.

Full disclosure: I was an oncology nurse for many years. I hung a lot of bags of chemotherapy and took care of all kinds of cancer patients. I worked grueling third shifts- and let me tell you, when something hurts, it hurts a lot worse at 3 am. We all know that cancer- breast cancer, especially- is hugely related to environmental toxins. And I want any readers to understand that even more than anything that has to do with the dam- whether it stays or goes- getting rid of the PCB's and other toxins in the river is much, much more important to me. Human lives are more important than any dam. Cleanup has already been started in Lincoln Park and the $22 million project of cleaning up the KK River is already underway- es muy, muy importante.
So there is hope! Hope for future generations especially- that they can have a cleaner environment than we have for ourselves.
Thanks for showing, Theo!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

El rio esta verde hoy! The River is green!

Normally, my favorite color is green. (Normalmente, mi color favorita es verde.) I could look at green all day. But, when something is amiss, worry takes precedence over enjoyment of beauty. It looks like St. Patrick's Day in Chicago!

Algae bloom on Milwaukee River west of I-43. Photo taken July 11th, 2009. The only alteration to the photo was cropping and resizing- no color-correction, brightening, etc were done. El rio esta muy, muy verde, verdad!!!

Algae bloom photo taken July 10. Again, no color change or brightening were done to this photo.

I made sure to take photos at two different times of the day, at two different light levels. I only wish I could also capture the foul odor. Someday, computers may be able to transmit such a thing.

We have been told that a damless river (which it is, in effect, now, since the dam is not holding back any water) would be a healthier river, and not prone to such unpleasant phenomena. But as you can see (and smell) for yourself, this is not the case.

I am not a biologist. I do not know if this is the infamous "blue-green algae" that kills dogs who consume it- but I certainly hope not, as I have been watching two lovely deer on the other bank munching on leaves and presumably drinking water also. Perhaps the Riverkeeper can tell me. I am about to send her an email.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Evergreen/ Glen Oaks Cemetery

Warning: This is a sad post.

Vandalism or neglect? Does it matter?

I took these photos in the spring of 2001, in what was then known as Evergreen Cemetery, right across the street from Lincoln Park. It seems to be called Glen Oaks now.

It's on the cusp of Milwaukee and Glendale.

Note how the tree has overgrown the headstone, indicating years of neglect; yet somehow beautiful, like an embrace.

I used to walk the dog there. It's kind of pretty, and full of history and green-ness and quiet, which I like. It was not well-maintained at that time, as you can see from the photos above. I can't find an online reference to the issues (which I am reassured have been resolved. (The task of locating gravesites in the "most troubled" area of the cemetery was resolved in 2000, after a 1998 lawsuit by the state- winning $600,000; headstones were replaced on many of the graves, according to Journal-Sentinel archived articles, but "cold weather may delay that work until spring.")

There also were and still are drainage issues. It seems the land must have been swamp originally, or a tributary of the Milwaukee River runs through it- there is some complex drainage system that oft malfunctions, leaving standing water- after heavy rain events, you will see ducks swimming over the graves. It is mysterious.

It apparently was originally a burial place for immigrants- something that walking the parade in my Statue of Liberty costume and tutoring new learners of English makes me think a lot about. One area contains markers in several different languages- European, Cyrillic, and Asian lettering abound. I don't know if you would consider it a "potter's field" of sorts. Now the families I see there are all African-American. It looks a lot nicer now.

Like I said, it had its problems- similar to this (though not as horrendous) currently going on in Chicago. (DO NOT CLICK THE LINK if you are a sensitive soul!! Although, it was on yesterday's Chicago Tribune front page...)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New parade photos added to Flickr Photostream

Aye aye, Captain!! Photo sent by Matt.

I added some new photos generously sent by other MRPA members to the Flickr photostream including the prep work on the float.


You might even be in one of them!

And, see you at the MRPA meeting tomorrow, 7pm, at the Hilton where Port Washington Road meets the river.

Tammy and Jay, looking justifiably proud! Photo by Cindy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just some architecture that I love

I will continue to briefly discuss the Columbia-St. Mary's architecture. (Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here).

I love this ancient St. Mary's Hospital building. A favorite place to visit, built in 1858. Many injured sailors were served here by nuns when life was dangerous in a different way than it is now.

This is the one built in the 1970's. I once read how the War Memorial (also by the lake, the original one- not the Calatrava) "makes concrete seem to float." That seems an apt description. This flower-shaped building is innovative- maximizing natural light, and making hospital units efficient and safe. Alas, progress must occur. Does it seem dated? Is it ugly? I like it. The renovated units were sunny and provided for safe patient care: the semicircle formation meant no long hallways, no faraway hidden places for unknowns to happen. It was all right there.

This is the new hospital. *Sigh*. Maybe it will be finished someday.

Here is the juxtaposition of all three.

And the really cool water tower next door. Just a lovely thing. Built in 1873.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Write to your reps!

Still floating with enthusiasm from the Independence Day parade, and feeling positive about our country and our American political system for a change, I just wanted to remind dam supporters to keep writing to our elected officials--especially Lena Taylor and Annette Polly Williams.

All the info you need is here.

Today (well, technically yesterday) I saw how low the river is just north of Silver Spring and realized that "Milwaukee Creek" is no exaggeration.

MRPA members flashing signs pre-parade.

Write. Write. Write, call, email, write some more.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

MRPA float

The Milwaukee River Preservation Association had a float in the Glendale Days Independence Day parade. "Fun was had by all!" The pontoon boat float came out beautifully. Most people were very receptive to us. Check out the photostream on Flickr! If you have more photos, send them via email at suzanney300 (at) and I can add them if you like- extra fun!!

Our float from the rear. I fell behind but got an ok shot out of it.

This kid had a blast tubing behind the float.

I wore my Statue of Liberty costume (with a "Kiss me, I'm Irish" t-shirt underneath- since, after all, she is the first thing American that my Irish ancestors saw opon their arrival. Plus, it is green.)

I was immensely proud to be able to wear this costume, despite crown malfunction. I cropped it this way because of the Lincoln Park sign- I love that sort of juxtaposition.

I hope you enjoy the Flickr photostream for all the photos I got at the parade today. Sorry if I missed getting a shot of you, or didn't know your name to label you properly- I reassure you, it was unintentional! There are also some other shots from the parade so if you had to miss it, you can get some of the flavor, I hope.

Special thanks to Tammy for coming up with this fantastic idea and making it happen. Hopefully, our float will help us garner some support so that we can float again soon on the Milwaukee River.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free." And yes, I was tired after walking almost the whole parade route- but it was worth it.

Civil disobedience in action!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Longest war in US History

On our recent trip, we visited Plymouth, WI- Brain's family homestead, so to speak. Besides enjoying the Mullet River that meanders through town and the cute main drag, we visited a park with an individual memorial to each US war- a boulder with the war's name, dates, and the flag of that time period. With the exception of the Cold War, the "Middle East Conflicts" represent the longest-running war in our nation's history- and still with no end date. Now, I've watched Braveheart and Lord of the Rings, and any number of similar movies; I don't enjoy battle scenes, but I understand why they are there: the protagonists are bravely protecting their precious ways of life and homelands at all costs. I boast Irish, German, and Viking blood. I understand that sometimes war is an unfortunate necessity in the sinful and illogical world in which we live: it is sometimes necessary in order to protect our freedoms and those of others with whom we share this planet. I have pride in our American military who have sacrificed to maintain those freedoms.

However, for whatever reason, I had brought along Kurt Vonnegut's excellent Slaughterhouse Five as light reading on this particular trip: a book that I had tried to read in the past and just not engaged with, but giving it another chance was the right choice. It is a vivid account of the horrors and the ludicrosity of war. Read it if you get the chance.

Support our troops: ideally by welcoming them all home soon.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Open letter to my newly former next-door neighbor

There had been more- much more- including, apparently, a fish tank (gone).

You just moved out, my ex-next-door-neighbor. You left a ton of crap by the curb. Crap that was perfectly usable stuff (or had been at one time) left to go into a landfill, when you probably could have dropped it off at a thrift store. I have some of it now. I enjoyed chatting with others who were looking too. Some of the booty I am going to drop off at a thrift store myself; some I am going to sell. I don't know if I should bother to read "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" or any of your other self-help books, because it would appear as though they don't really help much.

Don't worry about that book from the Waukesha Public Library. I'll make sure it gets back there.

Really, though, I wanted to let you know that I shredded all of the personal financial documents that you left out (the ones that were still there when I got there, anyway. Who knows?). Names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, and your bank statements and medical stuff and your end-of-checkbook-thingies (I tried not to look as I overburdened my shredder. I really did.) All of these are all safely shredded for your safety and my own peace of mind.

You see, I was a victim of identity theft not all that long ago. Yes, somebody wanted to be me- imagine that! Really, they just wanted my checking account, which at the time contained enough money to buy a nice used car. It was a terrible thing.

It's funny how I never really got to know you when you lived there, but now that you have moved out, I feel a sort of bond with you that I never would have otherwise had if I hadn't been willing to dig through your trash.


The River Otter

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Cacti and succulents have always amazed me. I have been growing them for years. They have fan clubs. They are inspiring. They have vivid, evocative names like "Living Stones" and "String of Beads" and "Burro's Tail." They even have their own Dome. I have some that I have been lovingly cultivating for years (one since at least 1993), and ones that are special cherished gifts (they really are the gift that keeps on giving, as I have potted many cuttings for loved ones as well). In San Francisco, jade plants get to be several feet in diameter, just effortlessly growing on the street: a sight that was as extraordinary to me as the Golden Gate Bridge or the Wharf. Those are like the Redwood Forest of succulents. But I meant to write about tomatoes.

These are not tomatoes. These are succulents.

As you may know, Kellner's is now under new ownership. I stopped there on the way home from work the other day, looking belatedly for tomato plants- unfortunately, the ones they had were cursed with yellow leaves, brown spots, and thrips. Not something I wanted to purchase, or even compost. Yuck.

But I wandered into the building and discovered a portal into another dimension: a greenhouse, previously closed off under the old ownership, that was filled with breathtaking
cacti and succulents. I found heaven.
Cacti and succulents at Kellner's in the magical greenhouse.

More succulents and cacti.

I purchased two plants as well as some cacti and succulent soil mix (usually I make my own mix, but... I'm still dedicated to the 3/50 project, and, and...) and found a couple more loose succulent chunks on the overwhelmingly disorganized shelves: pieces that had fallen off other plants and were already starting to form wee babies of their own. I liberated those tiny fallen pieces to be able to help them flourish in my own new succulent garden (as you can see, one cactus is dead in the photo above). Tomatoes will have to wait for another day: the Farmer's Markets are opon us now, anyway.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thoughts on architecture, healing, and the Starship

Current Orthopaedic Hospital building.

So... I've been spending a lot of time at PT at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, part of a cluster of Columbia-St. Mary's related buildings. The OHW isn't that old, but they are building a new one. A much uglier one- see below.

I really like the original glass OHW building. It's so open, so modern. There is a fountain in the - I'm never sure what is "the front" in a non-new urbanism building that you are supposed to drive to, like Panera or Trader Joe's a couple miles north on Silver Spring. (Of course, the idea of "walking to the orthopedic hospital"- despite the fact that I live four blocks away...induces almost-non-ironic laughter.) Anyway, I spend a bit of time enjoying the fountain every time I am there. Water fountain on the OHW patio. I visit it every time I am there.

It is very soothing and something about the heft of the stones, the beauty of the water, and its the peaceful aura offer a contrast with the modern glass in a way which I greatly enjoy.

The new building, however, (below) looks like some kind of claustrophobic school building, nearly windowless.
New Orthopaedic Hospital, under construction. I hope it somehow becomes more attractive.
My PT explained to me that the vast amount of glass, though nice for humans, was an invitation for frequent and inadvertent bird suicide. That was part of the reason for the new design; it is possible that energy savings were also a factor, though I note no solar panels. Knowing that natural light is so important for the psyche (and therefore healing), though, I have mixed feelings about it. Plus, it's not as though they are going to tear down the existing building: it will be repurposed into much-more-convenient offices. Please, birds, try to remember.

And then there's the Riverwoods building just down the way. Whenever I give people directions to get there, I tell them, "It kind of looks like a spaceship." Doesn't it sort of look like the Enterprise? Sort of? (Just say yes. It will make me feel happy- or at least not crazy.)
Someone once told me that the Human Resources building right on Port Washington Road "looks like an insane asylum." I prefer the Enterprise. I didn't get a picture of that one- the old Scott Paper Company, repurposed; you can see that one for yourself, just to the east of I-43, if you are so inclined.