Friday, October 15, 2010

Unnatural disaster

We won't be getting anything from FEMA for the flood damage we got this year, and that's ok. We neither need nor want it. Real disasters like Hurricane Katrina are FEMA-worthy. I'd like some disaster relief for this, though. At least we got to keep his security deposit.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Situation all clear.

(Almost) all systems have returned to normal, as of about 6pm yesterday. The Great Flood of 2010 wreaked havoc in Riverotterland- you may know that we own and maintain an eight-family apartment building and four other duplexes besides the one that we live in, and had a total of three basement sewer backups 7/22. We're finally all clean and sanitized with the currently necessary appliances and hot water heaters running. I have a lot of people to thank for assistance and gifts and time and food and etc. So, in something like chronological order:

Kathy, for food, cleaning assist, extra gloves, hot shower, and gin-and-tonics.

Char and John, for emotional support, food, wet vac, dehumidifier, extra cleaning supplies, and cleaning help.

My mom, for understanding, a huge bag of rags and towels, bleach, dinner, and a box fan.

My boss, who gave me the week off. I didn't even have to ask.

Brain's workplace, who gave him the week off and sent "four womens, ready to work!" They did, too. Awesome.

Kreuter, for tireless work and good company.

My dad, for a dehumidifier and a box fan.

Mr Sebald, for - yes- a dehumidifier.

Pabst Blue Ribbon, for making the situation tolerable.

FEMA, for making a dramatic appearance two doors down with Scott Walker and news cameras, and allowing me to tell them ALL about the turds in the basement. With photos. Which I won't show you here. Here's a monarch butterfly instead.

We now have monarch caterpillars on that plant, fattening up and enjoying life, waiting to metamorphose into their next stage: metaphorically, I am as well, even if it's just back to normal.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh, crap.

We had Weather last night, alright. This is a pic from after it had mostly subsided. Treacherous flooded streets. Manholes and sewers spewing poopwater like geysers. Cars with blinkers on and people randomly pulling U-turns trying to snake their way through rising waters. Frantic calls to my mom in the next county hoping she could figure out by telepathy or satellite or something which streets were dry enough to drive on. Finally parking four blocks away and scrambling up the incline under I-43 above the flooding, then wading the rest of the way- soaked. Last night was...intense! At least I didn't end up in a sinkhole or struck by lightning. The constant- literally- sirens we heard while cleaning up the six or seven inches of shitwater from the basement served as a sobering reminder that there were lots of people out there who were worse off. Our downstairsika cooked us an amazing dinner and made me a gin and tonic, we comiserated with the neighbors, and then we got to work carrying bucket after bucket after bucket of Hepatitis C and gonorrhea and ringworm and ... out of the basement.

Home Depot was out of bleach this morning and sump pump hoses and dehumidifiers, expecting trucks from neighboring counties to bring more supplies for the gloved hordes. We had one bottle left from last week's sewer backup floating around down there.
Guess I'd better get back to work.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


What's cuter than baby anything? Not much. These geese live in and around the retention pond nearby.
Here you can see that a couple of the babies have a different wing feather coloration. I was told by a woman who (lives? works?) happened to be across the street from the pond that these two different ones are sort of foster geese that the adults in the previous photo are raising. Since she walked across the street and honked at them to get them to come to her- and they all came running!- I figured she must know what she was talking about.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oak Leaf Trail construction

So, the convenient bridge over Capitol Drive that turns the Oak Leaf Trail into a magical Bicycle Superhighway is under construction (heavy sigh with exhalation of ozone action alert air).

Yes, I can manage the detour through the Baker's Square parking lot. Yes, I still get to avoid getting run over by people racing to get Egg McMuffins at the drive-thru. But, man.

City streets are much more interesting than a bunch of trees anyway, right?

Here is the mockup of the new bridge. It looks pretty. It is supposed to be done by November. Besides, all the clear-cutting required by the project reveals this long-hidden masterpiece, below.

Construction details and updates are available here and here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Woodland flowers

Brain and I found ourselves in South Milwaukee the other day on a sunny late afternoon. There's a historic mansion on the golf course that needed some exploring, then we headed out to the Seven Bridges Trail.

How can it be a violet if it's yellow? Maybe it's a viola.

Apparently, the Seven Bridges Trail that we followed is known for paranormal activity. We noted none.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (above) must have kept that away while we were there.

Trillium-above- is my very favorite. It's a woodland sprite, elusive, delicate, threatened by invasive weeds.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I can see your Kiku

I wish the owners of the Kiku restaurant downtown would not have named it something so obscene.
It's kind of like this. But maybe I'm the only one that thinks so.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ex Fabula

What? There really is forensics for adults? YES! It's called Ex Fabula- a series of true-storytelling events. Last night it was held at Stonefly in Riverwest. Real people (real people, just like you and me!) come prepared, put their names in a hat, and a few are chosen at random to get up on stage to tell their own true story using the night's chosen theme as a guide, however loosely.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous to be in the audience. Would it be anything like the poetry slams they used to have at Y-Not II back in the '90's? (No, thank heavens.) Would any of the storytellers be unrelentingly boring? (No.) Would it be painfully hip? (No!) It was awesome. The proctors or whatever you call them- the people in charge- run a pretty tight ship.

The next Ex Fabula event will be held on Friday, May 14th, in the decadent splendor of the Turner Hall Ballroom.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gorgeous girls!

If I had room for any more cats, I would take these two beauties home with me.

Mary Jane (above) and Pookie Lynn are sister cats up for adoption with For Cat's Sake. They're currently living at the Glendale Pet Supplies Plus, where they are on the lookout for someone to take them home. I hate to admit it, but these girls are even prettier than my own kitties.

Yesterday, Mary Jane rubbed her forehead on my hand, through the glass. She has perfect little white mitts and the most luxurious fur on her tail. Pookie is a little more shy. They're about eight months old, complement each other perfectly, and are ready for their forever home!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grafton dam referendum (squee!)

Well, it looks like the citizens of Grafton want to keep the Bridge Street Dam where it is. The binding referendum passed April 5th. "Should the village preserve the Bridge Street Dam until at least 2019, a state imposed deadline for demolishing, upgrading or replacing the structure."
1,685 people, or 75%, voted "Yes!" No votes came in at 573, or 25%.

The Riverkeeper is disappointed. “These dams are very expensive to maintain,” she said. “They’re not necessarily providing a lot of benefit other than recreational or aesthetic," noting that stimulus money could provide funds to replant the mud flats, to create a riverside green space with trails. I'll just note here that a year after the Estabrook Dam's been not damming the river by us, the riverside green and brown space is a swath of unstimulussed mud, weeds, and plastic bags.

Look here for some aesthetic possibilities.

Good for you, Grafton.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Pig!

So, all of a sudden there's a Piggly Wiggly on East Capitol where Lena's closed (and before that, Pick'n'Save). I don't even remember a "Coming Soon!" sign. All of a sudden it was there, fully stocked and open, and even equipped with a liquor license.

I went. I shopped. It was okay.

The staff was exceptionally, almost absurdly friendly. The deli people asked how I wanted my sale ham (piggly, but not wiggly) sliced and then actually sliced it the way I requested. Pick'n'Save? Nope, the sale ham there is already pre-sliced some kind of medium.

Signing up for yet another frequent shopper card, I asked the lady at the table when they had opened. March 17th, you say? What? Well, then. She said that people were telling her they were happy they have a choice now. But the thing is, there already is plenty of choice! Aldi, a treacherous walk across Capitol Drive from the Outpost; Lena's, on Holton and Concordia; Big Lots, for cheap HFCS-laden snacks; and on and on.**
**KD Supermarket, above, at 418 E. Center Street: the only food store I could find anywhere that was open Christmas Day 2008. That's worth something. Photo courtesy of Google Street View.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Speaking of trains...

I mentioned in my last post how so many train tracks in Milwaukee have been abandoned and/or removed.
Below is one such site.

This is the back side of Downtown Auto Body (which is not downtown, really, but behind Holton and Townsend). There used to be a train track along the area at the bottom of the photo, and until the mid-1990's, the Circus Train from Baraboo, WI would stop right there and unload all the circus paraphernalia to head down to the parade site. This was quite a spectacle. This mural, painted last year, commemorates that time. It's really much nicer looking than in my poor photo. You will just have to go see it for yourself.

These tracks were removed a couple of years ago after becoming an attractive place to dump mattresses and construction debris, and a weird curvy trail that appears to be some kind of meandering bike path that goes nowhere was laid down. Stray cats use it, too.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to the Future, by train

I'm really excited that the long-abandoned Tower Automotive site on 27th and Capitol will be used for manufacturing trains. The area is so Detroit-style creepy right now. This repurposing makes perfect sense. Of course, it's sad that so many train tracks in Milwaukee and elsewhere have been not only abandoned, but removed- relatively recently, even. Now we (as a society) are realizing that, dang, trains are awesome! What were we thinking?

There's a great textbook that's been in my family for awhile, ¿Habla EspaƱol? An Introductory Course. (Lately, I've been poring over the por y para chapter.) It's dated 1976 and as such, a lot of the dialogs deal with subjects like, ¿Deseas conservar energia? Si! So I'm excited that the Ingeteam folks are coming here with wind turbines too. Anyway, el diccionario at the back of the book actually has an entry for el Talgo: "deluxe Spanish train." How cool is that? Maybe I should stop skipping past all the second-person-plural verb forms.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I can think of a few better ways to express like- or dislike, I can't really tell- of our President.
I took this shot last year in the Smoky Mountains, but this week seemed an apt time to post it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Prophet Blackmon, Milwaukee artist

Prophet Blackmon, whose art I have always found to be exquisitely evocative, died Feb 8th. His obituary is in the online Journal-Sentinel today. "I'm a street preacher," he told The Milwaukee Journal in 1982. "I stay in the streets. The greatest theology is in the streets. The troubles are in the streets. I go to areas where buildings have been torn down, where there are vacant lots and I minister to those people."

It is said that Prophet Blackmon did not recognize his own art when it was later shown to him. "I'm amazed! And I know it's not me," Blackmon said of his work. "I know it's inspiration from God, so I end up giving God all the praise and all the glory."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Birds on a wire

Birds suspended high over the Milwaukee River.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hoarding, sorting, and classifying

Last fall I posted about the enterprising and surprisingly methodical individuals who built a looooong deck out over the river by the dam. Being enterprising but much less organized myself, I took pictures of the artistically sorted debris they had pulled from the water and arranged into- what? An apothecary of sorts? A playground?

Shoe trees?

Who did this? Really, who?

This is why I rarely (can't say never) drink out of disposable plastic bottles. Recycling, anyone?
I hope these give you a little taste of summer, if nothing else.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Warped Cast 2.0

Why do I always take pictures in the dark? Because cool stuff happens in the dark, that's why. You know it's true.

Remember when there used to be midnight Rocky Horror at the Oriental? And people acted it out along with the movie and made the audience dance? That was fun! Now the Warped Cast only do other movies, they do FOUR movies, and just the cool parts of each. That's right- in 2010, people do not have to sit through the boring parts of movies anymore. This is exponentially funnier than Saturday Night Live. If they do Star Wars, I'll go in costume. Really.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pizza Man

Photo from story.
I would be remiss if I didn't say something about the fire at Pizza Man. A four-alarm fire destroyed the whole block yesterday. I work half a mile away, and it was another one of those things like, "Let's go get a drink after work. We could all go down to Pizza Man," that never happened. We never went- the best of intentions gang aft agley. It's not Haiti or anything- everyone got out ok. But Milwaukee is a little sad right now. That wavy brick pattern on the corner of Oakland and North Avenue, that scrolling sign, gone.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New year

I love the first days of a new year. The Christmas rushing around is over; there is no pressure to go to any parties; life is quiet. The cold keeps the riffraff out. Or, rather, in. I love it.

Even kitties like the snow, as evidenced by wee pawprints.

Why does Wisconsin winter have such a bad rep, anyway? How come people aren't turning to each other and exclaiming, rosy-cheeked with great exhalations of steam, "Wow! This is bracing!" Or, with broad Chap-sticked smiles, "This cold air is so refreshing!" That would be great.