The Belgian American Walloons who settled around southern Door, northern Brown and Kewaunee Counties in the 1850s, brought with them a rite of Fall – the kirmess - or harvest festival.
Derived from ‘church mass’ and known colloquially as kermis this traditional outdoor fair or festival featured church, food, dance, music and games.
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Have the rest of you noticed the prolific postings from the poor sap from Fujian Province, China?
Start your weekend with Pat Guadagno covering a classic Dylan tune...
No one likes it and no one wants to hear about it. Sadly, it’s becoming a lot more prevalent in the lives of people in our neighborhood. Four houses (that I know of) within about a mile of my house have been foreclosed on just in the last several months.
Families who have been living in their homes for decades are being forced out because of financial situations that are sometimes beyond their own control. This includes things such as losing a job or health issues, both of which happened to people who live within two blocks of me.
It’s weird that one day my neighbors were walking their poodle past my house and overnight they were gone. There is a piece of paper in the window saying “NO TRESPASSING: this property is corporate owned.” What is even sadder to me is that there seems to be nothing I can do about it because the problem seems much bigger than any one person can fix.
Daughter Liz and I spent some pleasant Saturday hours at Tosa Fest, munching sweet potato fries and sipping Chimay white ale on the edge of the Menomonee River. We met some old friends, relished Paul Cebar's music, and picked up Save the Eschweilers yard signs.
If walking around Wauwatosa's village doesn't remind you of the delight and importance of preserving history and the places it happened, not much will.
Some fine work has been done on some of the old buildings there. Interesting businesses are growing roots, while new ones are sprouting because the area's attractive and there's foot traffic, the key to prosperity in villages.
But our hearts sank we came upon Root Commons. Even the road signs are askew. Mostly hard dirt now, the ground is oddly pitched, with a wooden picnic table dropped here, a random Port-a-Potty sitting alone there at a rakish or alarming angle, depending on how much history you have with outhouse tippage. I suspect the one cheerful note, a popcorn wagon, was less than delighted to find itself parked next door to a potty.
The commons used to be a real gathering place, with a central structure, grass, and seasonal plantings. Long before that it was the village green, just down the road from the first public school built in the city. Whatever it is now seems to have just happened, a combination of small attempts and large neglect. It's an eyesore. An embarrassment to a city trying to stay upscale.
That's what happens when you don't take care of things.
In 2007 the Community Development Committee passed Resolution R-07-94 for a proposed improvement project plan, subject to approval by many folks. Was tearing down what was there the extent of the plan? I doubt it.
Parks Board minutes from August 21st of this year note that they currently are waiting for central scouts office funding for an Eagle Scout project to fix the park, and that a mason will be around to supervise the work. No plan or description is available. Apparently this will happen sometime after the scouts finish another project, replacing a fence on 68th Street. Who knew we were outsourcing construction projects to children in search of community service and merit badges?
My enthusiasm for the nobility of volunteers is a little tempered by the belief that this pocket park needs to be a village centerpiece, not an after-thought. It's a big job. I hope the scouts are up to it.
Of course, it will take more than Eagle Scouts to save the Eschweilers. Maybe a couple former Eagle Scout, current millionaires. Though it really seems we should be able to steer our own civic destiny, make a smart investment in oursleves and our future, without having to depend entirely on good deeds and individual charity.
How many more festival seasons will come and go before something good happens to Root Commons?
Well at least possibly the world's best roasted pumpkin seeds.
Halloween is just around the corner and with the carving of the gourds all of those seeds can be put to good use. This should be a family-wide kitchen project.
Like many who have reached middle age, I've found there are some good things: I'm slightly more wise, a tiny bit more patient and I have a little more time. One of the negatives, however, is that I seem to have left my metabolism behind somewhere back in my early 20s. I found out the hard way that "Once on the lips, forever on the hips" is more than just a motivational phrase. It's painfully true.
It's the start of the weekend people.
Put your hands together for this blast from the past.
Right next to the "Kids eat free" sign in the old Lutheran (now Baptist) church yard: "4 sale - playgound."
The for-sale playground structure fills the entire pocket between the church and its former school on North Avenue. I recognize the church's original name, carved in stone, from my father's baptismal certificate, over one hundred years old now and written in German. I doubt they fed kids there in my dad's day, though they were not strangers to hunger. But those old Germans believed in exercise to build the sound body needed to house a sound mind.
Children don't live by food alone, regardless of who provides the food. To grow strong and whole, they need to climb and jump and play. Move through space, bend and stretch, reach for the sky.
Play is how children learn. Educational research shows that kids learn best when their entire bodies are engaged, at least up until age 9. And yet Wauwatosa's Jefferson School recently eliminated recess for 6 and 7 year olds, saying there's no time for it.
Strange: workplace research shows that workers are better able to think and concentrate when they take occasional breaks to get up and move around. Why we'd think it would work differently for wiggly children is a mystery.
Abandoning recess may be a sign a school is in trouble. The poorer the school community (in all the senses of the word), the less likely it is to have recess. Chicago schools haven't had recess for decades. And nobody is saying recesslessness has improved education there. While Tosa is tossing its recess aside, Chicago schools are reinstating it. Kids who have it behave better and learn better. There's evidence for that. Behind the cut recess notion is only wishful thinking.
Maybe our schools won't sell off the equipment to raise money to feed kids, but it's not much of a stretch to imagine the equipment, often built by parent volunteers, sold or dismantled to remove legal liability as kids spend more time inside, in front of electronic screens.
A whole generation of kids has grown up not knowing how to play, so the Chicago schools have hired coaches to teach them what do do with recess.
Principals and administrators hate recess. It creates scheduling and staffing problems. Every year there's the kid-with-the-broken-arm potential litigation headache. It's inconvenient. But merely doubling down, working harder and longer at the same thing you're already not doing very well, seldom improves outcomes.
What I'd find interesting is if Mr. Gas Pains, who I believe to be an old school Republican without a party these days, is planning to vote for Romney and support the party as it has evolved ?
Or, will he stay at home....or will he actually cast a vote for the Democrat !
I'd imagine you'll dodge this question and like a seasoned politician answer it without answering it....but, sometimes people can be surprising.
If you actually answer it I think that would be very telling as to where this election will go.
I'm still on the record as saying Obama will win, and he will even get the quiet support of quite a few people who would never tell you they voted for him.
Business owners are doing well these days, look at the stock market and business profit levels. Big business is making a killing. Hardly a big reason for a change.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's statement that he didn't need to concern himself with 47% of the population was a shocker.
Of course, what he meant was that he didn't need to bother with campaigning to them (or is that us?): he wasn't likely to win those votes anyway.
I don't recall hearing about the first annual Ten Days in Tosa Dining Experience, so when I read about it this year, I made sure to get out and try it.
The husband and I are big fans of Milwaukee's Downtown Dining week, and have discovered some good restaurants through that promotion (we always make sure to try new places). This was also the case with 10 Days in Tosa.
When Walt Whitman wrote lovingly of grass in his poetry collection "Leaves of Grass," he must have been referring to the showy, ornamental varieties, or, more likely, wild grasses swaying in summer fields. Surely he couldn't have been thinking of the kind of overly-watered-yet-still-thirsty, scalped, grub infested squares of lawn that form a patchwork quilt across suburbia.
By September of each year, gardening often falls off my radar. I'm a college instructor, and once the new academic year kicks into gear my gardening passion simmers, usually until I begin starting seeds indoors in late winter.
It's the start of the weekend folks.
Crank-up the volume on your office workstation for Modern English and I Melt With You...
As I sit in my new office here at the First Congregational Church of Wauwatosa it is hard to believe that it has been more than 30 years since I have made the Milwaukee area my home. It is definitely great to be back. I had pretty much figured that I would stay in Southern California for the rest of my life. I had been a minister of the same church for 17 years, raised my two children there, and had grown to love the wonderful climate.
During the past two years, as the opportunity to serve First Congregational developed, I began to see an outstanding congregation truly making a difference. The facility here at the church was top notch and so was the staff, but I had grown comfortable where I was, I owned a home in Los Angeles and I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave all that. It was when I met the people that I began to feel a strong call to this church in Wisconsin. Meeting them, talking and interviewing with them, I was reminded of the Midwest character and the wonderful people who live here.
As I tapped-out this post my initial idea was to regale you with a short historical time-line detailing the evolution of the sandwich. That would be redundant because a very good job of it can already be found on the web.
So let's cut to the chase. Before you recoil in horror - I am not going to describe how to assemble a sliced, cold boiled beef tongue with spicy German mustard on rye. Instead I am going to detail the assembly of a sandwich that even the most ardent of vegans can get their hands around.