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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Real heroes are in the city clerk's office

Politics, Wauwatosa

When I moved into Wauwatosa seventeen years ago, no one came to my door with a welcoming plate of cookies. But neither did a self-appointed guardian of liberty come demanding to verify my personal information against the voter registration records.

 I’d have liked the neighborliness, but if I had to choose one or the other, I’d choose respect for privacy.

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Getting on with it

It's not easy, Politics

At last I get to write something I actually know about: surviving disappointment -- and joy -- and getting on with the business of life. I don't know how long this period of euphoria or grief will last following the presidential election, but I know that it too shall pass.

I have a lot more experience with having my candidate lose than most of my McCain supporter friends do. So I offer some small advice for surviving the next weeks and months.

Erase the last robocall from last night that's sitting on your answering machine. It's warning you to keep the Democrats from stealing the election. They didn't steal it; it wasn't the Republican's to begin with. It was everybody's.

Get outside and rake leaves. It's warm today but it won't be tomorrow.

Don't listen to talk radio, watch television news, or follow Internet twitter. Steeping yourself in the insane and repetitious postmortems by either side will make your blood pressure soar and your head might explode. Especially don't listen to Chris Matthews, but you already knew that.

Do listen to music, but pick carefully. Heavy metal and dirges are out. If you must mourn, listen to country western and remember that our personal stories matter more, most of the time, than the big abstract ones. Listen to classical music to elevate your mind and spirit, and make sure to include a healthy dose of Aaron Copeland. Better yet, plunge into world music. You can't be miserable listening to salsa--and you really can't be miserable dancing to it. We who are dancing badly too promise not to laugh.

Make a delicious meal and share it with a friend who's suffering from campaign fever. If alcohol is not a problem and driving is not involved, you may want to be generous in this area. Light candles, use your good linens, and give thanks for the bounty with which we are blessed today and likely will still be blessed tomorrow.

Send cards of appreciation to pollworkers and folks in the city clerks office, especially if you have been involved in pestering them.

Remember that both candidates are human, neither as good as we hope nor as bad as we fear. An old method for putting people in a human perspective is to visualize naked those you have unduly elevated with fear or admiration. I know some of you have been doing this with the vice presidential candidates, although possibly for different reasons. Personally, I find it edifying to consider the presidential candidates in this way. . .

Bailout for the post-election comedy deficit

Fluff, Politics

After years of giddy humor brought on by easy targets in the White House and on the campaign trail, the inflated political comedy bubble burst on November 5, 2008.

What will we do for amusement now that Sarah Palin has been released back into the wilds of Alaska?

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Must be that time of the market. . .

Economy, Wauwatosa

I’m playing with a new theory: one of the reasons Wauwatosa is such a sound and stable community is that for years now, it’s had a woman at the helm.

I can probably get put in jail for even suggesting that it’s men, mainly, who have gotten us into the pickles we’re in. So arrest me, but who usually makes (and unmakes) the rules, orders the troops, puts together the mortgage bundles and the deals, grows bald early trading on the market floors, collects the obscene bonuses, and floats gently on golden parachutes?

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Waukesha's waste wends Wauwatosa way

Environment, Waukesha, Wauwatosa

Waukesha has bad water problems. It’s likely that they will soon be using Lake Michigan water. But now we learn that the city has unilaterally decided to send its wastewater—treated, whatever that means—back to the mother lake through Underwood Creek. Which happens to run practically through my back yard.You can read about it here.

Now, Underwood Creek is not a pristine tributary. When we moved here 17 years ago, there were crawfish in the concrete-lined creek, but they’ve been gone a long time. It smells bad sometimes in summer, and I’m glad my house is high enough to rise above the stench.

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Always thankful

Beauty, Spirituality, Thanksgiving, Walking the dog

One by one, my children are coming home for Thanksgiving. Tonight Annie flies home from Colorado, tomorrow Liz comes from Stevens Point, and Wednesday George makes the hop from Madison.

Nature has flocked the world for their homecoming. Which is a good thing, as I'm decorating-challenged. Liz always says "More cleaning, less cooking, Mom." But I can't resist the call to roast vegetables and whirl them into thick soups speckled with rosemary needles, to grind together pecans and bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon for a dark and heavy cake, to peel oranges and make red cabbage salads. 

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Last chance to see America the Beautiful?

Beauty, Wauwatosa

 No, this isn't another dire prediction of the end of life as we know it. Though there is a bit of wishful thinking that the beauty industry might come crashing down like so many  financial and other fantasy-based businesses are these days.

America the Beautiful is a must-see documentary  for women, daughters, and the men who like us and are bewildered about why we have such distorted notions about ourselves. As one young man who saw the film's Wisconsin premiere Tuesday night at the Times asked director Darryl Roberts, "Why can't I convince all the beautiful girls in my high school classes that they aren't ugly?" That's a question many of us have asked about others, if not ourselves.

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