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Friday Morning Music

Friday Morning Music, John Fullbright, Jericho

This young American composer-singer is somebody you're likely going to hear more from in the years to come.

Start your weekend with John Fullbright... 

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It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.


Came home last night to this phone message:

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Shooting Yourself in the Foot

Elections, Politics, President Obama, Governor Romney, Shooting Yourself In The Foot

Most every election I make it a point to vote early.  It’s certainly convenient and besides – I usually have my mind made-up long before the polls open. 

Not so this year.  This has been an exceedingly tough election decision to make.  For a while I thought I had it all figured out.  But then I began to have second thoughts.  Maybe I read too much.  Or perhaps I‘ve been over-analyzing candidates Romney and Obama.  (Not so much Thompson and Baldwin.)  I'd like to think I've done a good job of tuning-out most of the broadcast advertising, recycled the gibbering fliers along with their grainy black and white photos that have been spilling from my post box and made daily use of my caller ID, voicemail and spam filter.  I’m going to keep mulling-over my decision and probably won’t make it until Tuesday when I actually draw the line connecting the arrows.

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Healthy Soils Make Healthy Trees

Below the surface of the soil lies a complex soil food web we will likely never see. Without it, much of the plant life we enjoy would not be able to exist. The soil food web consists of many organisms that are beneficial to the health of the soil. This beneficial web is plentiful in an undisturbed forest setting, but can be diminished or lacking in some of the soils we have around our homes where our trees are trying to exist.

Many practices done to soils can disturb this fragile soil food web. Things like compacting the soil, overwatering, lawn treatments, removal of leaves and small branches, etc. can have major impacts on this fragile web. A healthy soil will need organisms like nematodes, beneficial fungi, bacteria, protozoa, arthropods, and certain other animals in order to maintain a favorable growing environment. These organisms play a critical role in nutrient cycling. Nutrient cycling is the process whereby plant materials are broken down into usable nutrients for plants to carry on life. 

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First Timer at the Women's Club

Places in the Community

Despite living in Tosa for most of my life, I had never once been inside the Wauwatosa Women's Club until this last weekend. The quintet I play with was there to provide some light music for an art auction/benefit for a local private school.

What a beautiful site! I had no idea! I'm still getting over how nice the place is - and how often I'd passed by that building on 76th and Milwaukee Ave. without a clue about what was inside.

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What About Your Polling Day Experience?

Elections, Maxie's Southern Comfort, Shaky Forecasting

While out walking the girls I noticed that there wasn't a line at my local polling place.  So after crating the dogs I walked over to the polls for lunch.

Yes.  Lunch.

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There's got to be a morning after - the Facebook chronicles.

Politics, Packers

"I'm not blue, I'm just sad."

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The day after the night before


I fell asleep early last night, exhausted from work and saturated with elaborate election speculation by talking heads on TV. But around 11 the ping of my cellphone woke me as my son texted one word: OBAMA.

Back to sleep, feeling somewhat relieved. But not elated. There's hard work to be done by everyone. That doesn't change, no matter who's in office. What changes is the willingness and ability to do it. I'm hoping for less opposition, more cooperation, and working toward the important goals that matter.

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Friday Morning Music

Friday Morning Music, Neil Young, Old Man, Perfectly Good Guitar, Reader Contribution

Here's a reader contribution and a walk down memory lane.  Start your weekend with this gem by Neil Young...

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Tracing the Footsteps

Family, History, Travel, Veterans, Walk Down Memory Lane

By now you know that Jill and I spent a couple of weeks in France.  Besides being the first two week vacation we've enjoyed in fourteen years it was also a pilgrimage of sorts - most of which I'll save to share another day.

Anyway, today is Veterans Day and I thought I'd take a moment to talk about my favorite veteran - Howard Gaertner.  Who also happens to be my dad.  Dad's been gone now for a couple of years but I'm sure he'd appreciate the mention.

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Your Trees are Dormant in Winter - Our Arborists are Not

Wachtel Tree Science works throughout the winter months.  In fact, during the winter we perform many of our services.  We prune and remove trees and shrubs, and even remove stumps. Winters are ideal time to cable, and brace trees, install lighting protection, perform appraisals, consultations and site inspections. With the exception of insect and disease management, winter offers us an additional three months to perform our services.

Winter is an excellent time to work. The benefits are frozen ground, dormant perennials, inactive gardens and defoliated trees. The cold and sterile-like conditions of winter offer us the opportunity to prune trees and shrubs that are susceptible to, or under pressure from insect and disease problems. Trees that have infectious fungal or bacterial disease can have these infected branches pruned out in the winter and greatly reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

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Applications and Appreciation

Applying for college is an unreal experience: It’s both exciting and one of the most nerve-racking things I have ever done. For example, I started crying instantly when at the exact moment that I hit submit on my UW-Madison application, I realized that I forgot to include one minute detail about an award from a standardized Latin test. However, after about 30 seconds I got over this horrifying fact and realized that not only was there nothing I could do, but there also was no longer anything that I had to do!

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Searching for the Perfect French Baguette

East Town Tosa, French Baguette, Pheasant Wild Rice Soup, Rocket Baby Bakery

For the last month I have been searching for a locally-sourced authentic French baguette.  And I have been coming-up on the short end of the loaf in terms of success.

Until today.

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Thankfulness for a special love

Kids, Parenting, Personal

Sunday, November 18th is the 26th anniversary of my motherhood. On that day, our beautiful son, Andrew, came into the world. He burst into our lives and forever changed us. So many of you know this story, but Andrew was born severely developmentally disabled. As unexpected as Andrew's dire diagnosis was (my pregnancy was unremarkable - his brain injury occurred at birth), so was the imprint that his life would leave on our hearts, our minds, our other children and our family and friends.

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Peeling Back Layers: Restoring the original floors in our kitchen

hardwood floors, home improvement

Old houses, like onions and sensitive ogres, have layers. Peel back those layers of wall paper, paint and flooring and you don't know what you're going to find. 

We've experienced this a few times now in our 95-year-old bungalow, but never has this truism been more apparent than when we recently tore into the 1990s vinyl in our kitchen in the interest, originally, of putting in a new tile floor. What was supposed to be a relatively simple demo and installation of tile became a messy, exhausting, one-month ordeal that ended in the restoration of the home's original maple floors.
If you follow this blog you may recall that last year I ripped out our dog-vomit-stained, trampled carpets in our front living and dining rooms to expose the hardwood underneath. I hoped at the time that the original oak floor beneath would be salvageable. 
It was. 
However, saving the wood – or at least, making it presentable – required more than a wash-down with Murphy's Oil Soap. It was so stained and worn that it needed to be refinished. We hired Norwegian Wood Floors of Oconomowoc to do the job, they were in and out in two days, and we were thrilled with the results. 
Tile in the Kitchen
Of course, after peeling back one layer of carpet and restoring a beautiful oak floor, our minds wandered to other rooms of our house. What if, we started thinking, we finally ripped out the worn, sun-streaked, permanently-dirty vinyl in the kitchen and replaced it with something nicer (i.e. porcelain tile)? We knew there was hardwood underneath at least a couple of layers of vinyl, but when we asked one of the guys from Norwegian about it last year, he shuddered and told us the wood was likely so stained and gummed up with glue that it wasn't worth saving -- we might as well just keep it covered.
So that was the plan, originally. We asked a friend of a friend starting a new tile business to help with demo and install tile. It took us about a week to shop around for a product befitting an old home. We went to all the big box stores and some local tile shops, and most of the options available didn't seem to work with our 1918 bungalow. Finally I found something I liked, but it was a custom order.
While we waited for the tiles to come in, we began digging into the old floor.
My husband scored it with a circular saw. Then we pried up squares of vinyl glued to plywood with crow bars and hammers. 
It started out pretty simple.
Soon, though, the enormity of the demolition became apparent when we discovered some complexities under the surface of that top layer of vinyl and sub-flooring. 
I jokingly referred to it as "Pandora's Box" on Facebook.
First, some background. Our large kitchen used to be three separate areas: a much smaller kitchen to the south, a bedroom to the north and a hallway. In the 1990s a previous owner knocked down a few walls and turned a hallway, bedroom and kitchen into one big room. 
Each section presented its own demolition challenges.
In the old bedroom and hallway, we found thick particle board under the top layer of vinyl and plywood. The particle board was glued to the floor. Some of it was saturated with water and moldy due to a leaky dishwasher in our kitchen island.
In the original, much smaller kitchen we found another layer of vinyl (my mom identified it as Armstrong's "Solarian" vinyl flooring popular in the 70s and 80s). Under that layer of vinyl was more plywood. When we pulled that up we found a thick layer of black paper stuck with tar to the original maple floor. All of these layers throughout the three areas were attached to the hardwood with hundreds of nails and screws. 
Changing Direction
It was during the demo process that my husband Steve started to have a change of heart about the tile. For one thing, he worried that we'd need a rock solid subfloor to prevent the tiles from eventually cracking in our creaky old home. For another, as soon as he glimpsed some of the maple under all those layers he fell in love. 
At first I had my heart set on tile. But the more I thought about it, the better it seemed to have hardwood. If salvageable, why not restore the house to its former glory and not use any new materials in the process?
We chewed on this thought over a weekend of demo. 
On Monday we decided to return the tiles we'd ordered.
We felt pretty good about our decision. But we were also in a very awkward position. We knew what we wanted, but we had this hot mess where our kitchen floor once was and now needed to find an experienced wood professional to restore the floor, pronto. 
To be honest, we weren't 100 percent sure it was salvageable. 
As bad as that old 1990s vinyl was, what we unearthed was 100 times worse. Screws poked up every which way waiting to snag little toes. Tar paper, wood glue and chunks of particle board were stuck to the floor. You could see the basement through a couple of sizable holes in the wood. Vermiculite insulation poured out of the walls. Remnants of wall frame stuck up in more than a few places. 
Worse, we hit a road block: the guys from Norwegian Wood weren't available and then didn't call us back. Another company highly recommended by multiple friends and neighbors – Schmidt Flooring -- was booked solid for at least a month (they said a lot of folks decide to refinish their floors right before Thanksgiving).
So Steve went to the web to research hardwood professionals. 
He stumbled upon the website of David Passow Custom Contracting, whose array of online work samples and positive reviews impressed us both. We contacted David online and he responded with his rate (a very reasonable $2 per square foot, or a bit more if repairs are involved). I called him in desperation in the midst of finishing our demo and he came out within the hour to give me an idea of how salvageable the floor was. 
David wasn't fazed by the complexity of the project and said he'd done numerous floors similar to ours. He was very straightforward about the work he could do. He'd have to be creative to fix certain issues with the floor (gaps in the original hardwood where there were once walls, for example) and try to make everything fit together and line up right. But he had 20 years of experience and gave us an affordable quote. Most importantly, he was able to start work within a week. So we decided to hire him. 
He spent about two weeks in our home. The project was complex and at times frustrating, mainly because removal of the walls complicated piecing together boards that didn't line up. But David was creative and resourceful and, in the end, we think he did a fantastic job.
I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Here's a before photo of our old vinyl:
 And here's a view of some of the layers we exposed:
Note the tar paper in the shot below. We'd already scraped off some of the paper at this point.
We used a wallpaper steamer to scrape off the sticky tar under the black paper:
It took David a few afternoons to repair the floor. Finally it was ready for sanding:
After a round of sanding it looked like this:
Next came the polyurethane:
Finally, after weeks of work, it's now finished:


The primary objective of pruning young trees is to develop a framework of sturdy, well spaced branches on a strong trunk. Good branch structure, proper form, and tree strength all develop with training pruning.

Pruning done early in a tree’s life removes weak branches and corrects form when branches are relatively small. This reduces the size of pruning wounds, which results in faster closure and less opportunity for decay.

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Do You Have Faith in Your Tree Service?

The old Webster’s dictionary defines faith as being firm to ones promises; contracts and of being worthy of confidence and belief. At Wachtel Tree Science, we work as a team to build and maintain your faith in us as leaders in the tree care industry.

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Nordstrom opening department store at Mayfair mall by 2015

Wauwatosa, Retail

Nordstrom Inc. will open its first full-line Wisconsin department store at Wauwatosa's Mayfair mall in fall 2015.

The Seattle-based company announced Thursday plans to open a 140,000-square-foot, three-level store. It will be on the mall's east side, between Boston Store and Mayfair's six-story attached office building.

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 Please join us for the following events this Christmas Season = ALL are welcome!

"Christmas Social and Create-a-Creche"

View our display of unique crèche sets and nativity scenes while sampling an array of home-baked holiday treats and enjoying the fellowship of friends and neighbors! All children are invited to make their own nativity scene to take home. Materials and guidance are provided.
"Christmas Concert ... !!!"

Celebrate the glories of the Christmas season with music from our Children's Choir, Handbells,
and featuring the fabulous First Church Choir under the direction of Lee Jacobi.
4pm = Christmas Eve Play and Family Service
11pm = Candlelight Lessons & Carols Service

Friday Morning Psychedelic

Donovan, Friday Morning Music, Oliver Klaus, Season of the Witch, Perfectly Good Guitar

Turn-up the volume on your workstation PC and mellow-out to Oliver Klaus covering this tune by Donovan. 

The long version too...

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