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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!

Watching the bad stuff

American Idol, Fluff, Hell's Kitchen

Watching really bad television is one of my former guilty pleasures.

I say former not because I've stopped watching. I've stopped feeling guilty. 

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Who's your mother?

When I was 17 my dear friend Sheina Lerman yanked me aside after watching an interchange with my mother.

"Why are you doing that?" she demanded.

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Deja rhubarb

County Grounds, Food

 Last weekend I hiked a couple miles through the county grounds, stalking the rhubarb that still grows, despite all odds, behind the Eschweiler buildings. It's a lot more difficult than it was when I wrote about it here in my first blog entry in June 2006:

I pick bouquets of rhubarb from the abandoned garden plots . . . Pies, cakes, breads and muffins ensue. The world is good when there is rhubarb pie in it.

And that’s how I discovered the disappearance of the tennis courts and emergence of silt fence markers across from Hansen Golf Course.

Bottom line, in case you don’t know, is that a huge retention pond shaped like a reproducing amoeba will cover the old county nursery--one of the prettiest places in the county—behind the tennis court area. You may not have seen it because walking there has been perhaps a tad illegal. . . 

How much has changed since then. The nursery is completely obliterated. I suppose traipsing is even more illegal now than it was then. Plastic fences in trash-bag black and orange mesh have been strung along the silt fence markers. And the roads have been dug out, their entries chained, to make it hard for the scavengers in SUVs to poach wild asparagus and domestic rhubarb. It all  seems a little extreme. 

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Dinner at the Mekong Cafe


Friends Susan, Steph and I decided to skip McBob's fish fry during our latest Friday Night on North venture. McBob 's has been shaky in the fish quality control department since they expanded. Besides, we now have the chance to dine on "one magical river (with) three enchanted cuisines." The Mekong Cafe at 5930 W. North Avenue features food from Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Food maven Willard Romantini always tells me not to eat at a restaurant during the first three months, but in this location, if you wait that long the business might have vanished.

This one's a keeper. Despite being new and still under redecoration, the place is pleasant, our service was charming, and the food was good even before the owners have worked out the inevitable kinks in restaurant start-up. What a great addition to the Almost-Tosa restaurant scene!

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Food frugality


Tosan Nancy Stohs, food editor at the Journal Sentinel, recently published food shopping tips from a financial counselor. And a good idea, now that food is going the way of gasoline, price-wise.

I can't match the financial counselor's $3 dinner/day/person . (And to tell you the truth, I don't believe she does it, either). But I'm getting better. I’m experimenting with my own approach, the $1.99 rule. Don’t buy anything that costs more than $1.99 a pound at the grocery store.

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Memorial Day is about remembering our better nature

Memorial Day

The terribleness and grandeur of young people going off in waves to fight is the stuff myths are made of. No wonder the rhetoric of war is timeless and nonspecific. No wonder each war seems to blend into the ones before and the ones after.

Today's speech may have been President Bush's best Memorial Day speech yet. He remembered that the day was not about a particular political agenda but about something bigger.

The names of these honored are known only to the Creator who delivered them home from the anguish of war -- but their valor is known to us all. It's the same valor that endured the stinging cold of Valley Forge. It is the same valor that planted the proud colors of a great nation on a mountaintop on Iwo Jima. It is the same valor that charged fearlessly through the assault of enemy fire from the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of Iraq. It is the valor that has defined the armed forces of the United States of America throughout our history.

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Voting with your genes


Maybe you thought people turned out to vote because they were passionate about a candidate.  Or made rational decisions to vote regularly because their civics teachers convinced them that's what good citizens do. Or their parents trained them to vote.

Turns out your parents have something to do with it, but not because of the way they reared you.

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Can Tosa seize a great opportunity?

city development, Wauwatosa

I just bought my own home for more than it's worth, and I'm not too upset about it.

How did that happen? About two days after I'd closed on my mortgage refinance, the city's reassessment came through. I'd requested a new tax assessment, knowing that I couldn't possibly sell the house for what the city thought it was worth. The assessor's office responded promptly, without fuss, and the new assessment came it at just about what I'd thought it  should -- some $40,000 less than the previous assessment and the real estate appraisal.

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