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Guess the Critter

Critters, Guess the critter, Entomology, Chrysalis, Cocoon

Late last year Jill and I fetched a Christmas tree from the farm to place on our porch.  It's a good place for a large holiday decoration if you live in a small Tosa bungalow.

Not that I'm suspicious or anything - but the tree morphed into some sort of large Green Bay Packer talisman.

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Wauwatosa makes new push to attract development


Wauwatosa is making a new push to attract development, with the creation of a Community Development Authority and a marketing campaign that promotes the city's development areas.

Some of that marketing will occur at an event that begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the newly renovated Grand Hall at Hoyt Park Pool,1800 Swan Blvd., where city officials will meet with developers, lenders and business leaders.

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Going Green in the Village

VillageGreen, Wauwatosa BID, Go Green

 When you think about it, the Village of Wauwatosa is pretty green (in the eco-friendly sense) 365 days a year. It’s just a short walk, bike ride or drive to some of the best restaurants and interesting shops in metro Milwaukee. In fact, the Village Business Improvement District offers a “Live Local” program with discount privileges for members at

Add to that equation the Farmers Market and new stores that promote sustainability: Go Green Design Center, which offers green building supplies plus green solutions for energy and water conservation, and B. Green, which sells eco-friendly home goods and toys. Both of those businesses are in the building that Tosa oldtimers will forever refer to as “The Drews Building.” (If you haven’t seen it lately, it’s worth a trip just to see architect and Go Green owner Karen Wilman’s inspired design.)

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Meet the competition

Blogging, news reporting, Wauwatosa

When asked why he wasn't covering more of the business of local government, one blogger said, "You'd have to PAY someone to do that!"

I don't agree that local government is boring. City council meetings are some of the best theater in town, if a little slow-motion. If you could edit the tapes, it would be Parks and Rec--without the sex of course.

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Friday Morning Music

Norah Jones, Hot Women, Gardening, Popular Culture

By the time you see this video I hope to have accomplished the following:

Taken Girlfriend and Sister for a long walk on the farm.

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Beer Bug

Refreshing Adult Beverage, Roadside Curiosities, Strange But True

Is it legal to have a licensed motor vehicle with an operable beer tapper installed on it?

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Scams and Counterfeit Money

Scams, Suspicious, Counterfeit Money, Business Watch, Crime Prevention

There is some really great information on the internet; I am going to share with you two links that I am very familiar with and encourage you all to go take a look.

Scams -

Counterfeit Money -

Yo Mama!

As I’m sure most of you know, a new frozen yogurt place Yo Mama, opened this past weekend where Drew’s used to be in the Village. I’ve already gone there three times in the last three days. Whoops. Yogurt is healthy, right?

So far, my favorite flavor is mango tart and then cake batter. It’s nice that I can make myself a combination of the two because it is self-serve. They have a large variety of toppings including candy, cereal, fresh fruit and hot fudge. Pricing is based on weight.

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The Magic Curb

Life In Tosa, Roadside Curiosities, The Magic Curb, Disposing Of Your Junk

I have written on several occasions about the Ju-Ju of my magic curb and how simple it is to dispose of your junk by simply hauling it to the edge of the street.

Voilà!  It's gone.  No muss no fuss.

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Passing the Baton~100 Year Celebration 2011

Archbishop Jerome Listecki preached a homily underscoring the importance of living Christ-like lives of service and setting these examples for future generations at the St. Bernard of Clairvaux 100th Anniversary Mass on Sunday, June 5, 2011.

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Forest Exploration Center Goes Public

Forest Exploration Center, Clean Water, Working Forests, County Grounds, MMSD, Flood Control

Did you know that in the course of a year the average Tosan consumes 1,664 pounds of wood?

Yep.  Think of a log 18 inches across and 25 feet in length.  All in the form of paper towels, bathroom tissue, printer and copier paper, building materials, ketchup and more.

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Vanishing Bees

Bees, Colony Collapse Disorder, beekeeping, apiculture

Growing up, I was absolutely terrified of "bees," the name I used for a variety of tiny monsters with dreaded, piercing stingers and stripy yellow and black backs. I was destined to get stung, I reasoned, if one of them came near me. As a child I was always afraid of any creeping, crawling thing, but my exceptional fear of bees and wasps was sealed when I was about seven years old. One evening, I bolted outside the second the last bite of dinner was consumed so I could ride my bike in the waning hours of daylight. As I pulled my bike out of the garage, I unleashed the wrath of a yellow jacket. It chased me up the sidewalk until my hero arrived: Jack, the burly tough-guy next door, who lifted one gigantic work boot and smashed the creature underfoot. 
I spent my entire childhood running in this manner from bees and their kin. While conventional wisdom holds that a person confronted by a bee should stand like a stone, lest flailing arms and screaming scare an insect into stinging behavior, I held firm to my own belief that running was a more effective evasion method. And it did work for me – over the three and a half decades of my life I have never been stung.
I held on to my fear of nearly all creatures of the order hymenoptera for a very long time. That fear worsened as I grew up and read books like A Taste of Blackberries, in which a young boy dies from an allergic reaction to bee stings. My grandma is allergic to bees, so I figured that I might be, too. All the more reason to flee on sight of any yellow-and-black-backed insect.
A few years later, I met my husband, a man with almost no fear of bees. He spent hours as a boy trying to capture them with honeyed jars and, unlike me, was able to distinguish between a honey bee and a yellow jacket wasp. When we were hiking and confronted a fuzzy bumble bee, he'd try to pet the thing. I later had three children by this man, and amazingly, they displayed the same bee-loving behavior. My firstborn daughter so loved the little creatures that she continued to try to capture them as pets, even after she was stung. 
Having children who spent hours at play turning over rocks in search of arthropods piqued my own curiosity about all insects, including bees. So I bought an insect field guide and began to learn the difference between the "gentle giant" bumble bees and the aggressive hornets. I learned that the horrifying Ichneumon wasps with their excessively long stingers have no interest in humans (their "stingers" are actually ovipositors used to inject eggs into the insect prey they parasitize). The more I learned, the more my fear melted away. That fear was replaced by enchantment, curiosity, and fascination. My husband's macro-photos of insects, including various bees, helped me to see the beauty of their world. Here's one of his photos, of a bumble bee pollinating a flower:
 Photographer: Steven T. Zydek
Soon, I became interested in honey bees in particular, due to their manifold virtues. Honey bees are amazing creatures. They are organized in a way that suggests high intelligence, though their human-like civilization is more innate than learned. Bees are crucial pollinators. Without them, many of our most prized fruits would not, well, come to fruition. And of course, bees provide us with delicious honey and fragrant, useful beeswax. The more educated I became about these creatures, the more I loved and respected them. 
Naturally, then, I was disheartened to learn about the recent rise of what has been dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder. Honey bees, it seems, are disappearing. CCD is a mysterious and potentially disastrous dilemma. Bees aren't simply dying overnight, leaving their corpses in mounds around their hives. If this were the case, perhaps it would be easier to trace the source of the problem. Instead, worker bees – the small female honey bees that collect pollen to feed their young and care for the queen -- are simply disappearing, flying off in confusion and dying when they can't find their way back to the hive. The disappearance of workers ultimately causes a hive to collapse over a span of a few months.
Many theories have been bandied about as to why the bees are disappearing, from climate change to cell phone radiation to industrial beekeeping methods and even supernatural phenomena. A couple weeks ago a study was released that again pointed the finger at cell phones as the culprit, indicating that their signals are confusing and killing bees. So stated this article shared across social media.
But cell phones are not the real cause of CCD, say beekeepers interviewed in Vanishing of the Bees. We recently viewed a screening of the documentary at Unity Church in Wauwatosa. The film largely blames neonicotinoid pesticides as the cause of CCD. These chemicals work not by being sprayed on the leaves of crops, but within the system of the plant (hence the name "systemic pesticide"). Theorists point to treated plants as having a detrimental effect on bees, who do not die instantly after exposure but bring tainted pollen back to the hive. Over time, larval bees, who have been reared on toxic pollen, grow up confused and disoriented and are eventually incapable of leaving the hive without wandering too far and dying. 
Abroad, some beekeepers and apiarists are so certain of the link between systemic pesticides and CCD that they have worked to successfully ban neonicotinoids. Cf. and
In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency will not take a strong stance against neonicotinoids as the cause  of CCD. They say research isn't conclusive enough to institute a ban. Why? According to the film, studies conducted by chemical companies stating that neonicotinoids were not harmful to bees (adult bees did not die within a few days of exposure to these pesticides) were submitted to and accepted by the EPA as proof that these pesticides are not causing CCD. Here's the EPA's statement on the issue.
Whatever the cause, if CCD continues it may have a devastating impact on humans, as well as bees. According to the film, bees are required to pollinate a third of the food we eat, from fruits to tree nuts and many things in between. Without ample honey bees, farmers are required to ship bees out of state to do the pollinating of select food crops, causing food prices to rise. Without any bees, we will simply not be able to enjoy many fruits, nuts, and seeds. Can you imagine a world without apples? Pumpkins? Sunflowers? It boggles the mind to think of the impact of the death of honey bees. In addition to the threat to many of our staple foods, Colony Collapse Disorder is perhaps symptomatic of environmental toxicity that is bound to have an effect on all life – human included.
What can be done to stop the death of bees? Until the cause of CCD is determined, it may be difficult to completely eradicate the problem on the residential level. That said, there are things any citizen can do to help protect bees. Find (or host) a screening of a documentary like 'Vanishing of the Bees' or the similar film Queen of the Sun. Plant bee-friendly plants in your yard, like sunflowers, pumpkins, and bee balm (Monarda). Cease from killing dandelions and clover in your grass – they are important food sources for pollinators like honey bees. Commit to keeping your yard chemical-free. Don't fear honey bees – they help us survive and make the world a beautiful and healthy place. They rarely sting humans unless bothered. Take a beekeeping class through the University of Wisconsin Extension's Urban Apiculture Institute. Lobby the government and the EPA to work harder toward finding the cause of CCD.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, educate yourself about insects. Know your bee and wasp varieties and avoid killing honey bees (if you see a swarm, DO NOT spray it with pesticides – most people fail to realize that bees are at their most tame when they are swarming. Call a local beekeeper and he or she will collect the bees for you). As citizens we have to stop believing the hype about "bugs" and learn to tell the difference between beneficial insects (without whom would mean certain death for humans) and true "pests." 
Here are a few more bee-related resources:

"First" Last All-School Masses

Both St. Pius X Grade School and St. Bernard Parish School closed their doors this week.  After serving the community for decades, students, parents, and parishioners rejoiced, gave thanks for the past, and shed a few tears while saying goodbye and praying for the future.

Both schools celebrated the final All-School Mass at their respective church. 

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Friday Morning Music

Southern Culture On The Skids, My House Has Wheels, Come As You Are, Nirvana, Lucifer Sam, Pink Floyd, Garage Band Music

If you like quirky bands with a cult following you'll like this one.

My pal The First Mate introduced me to them when we lived in trailers.  Yes, The Mate lived three doors down the street - and just like the song goes - My House Has Wheels.

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Mayoral Compensation Back on Agenda

Economics, Mayor Didier, Wauwatosa, Wauwatosa Politics, Governor Walker's Budget Tools

As 2010 dawned the economy had begun a slow recovery.  The Great Recession had largely done its damage in the private sector.  The effects of which still echo throughout every last nook and cranny of the business world.  While slightly wounded - municipalities had yet to feel the real pain and bear the consequences.  You see - there was Federal stimulus money to prop-up state and local budgets. 

On Tuesday the Committee on Employee Relations is revisiting the subject of Mayoral salary and compensation for the new Mayoral term beginning April, 2012

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Aging and the Challenge of Change

Personal, Parenting, Tosa Business

I’ve been spending a little extra time with my parents lately. They have just entered into their 80s and since our daughter is still in college, I guess this officially qualifies me for the “sandwich generation.”

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"First" Fourth Grade Teacher at Wauwatosa Catholic School

     Wauwatosa Catholic School is proud to introduce new faculty for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year to the community.  Upcoming blogs, including today's, will showcase the talented staff that Principal Julia D'Amato has assembled.  She refers to these fine teachers and support staff as her "dream team."  What an exciting time to be a teacher or student in a brand new school!

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Friday Morning Music

Friday Morning Music, Cee-Lo Green, Georgia, Band of Horses, Austin City Limits

It's the start of the weekend people.

No better way to begin than with some of my favorite artists doing a cover of another favorite artist.

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The Garden Chronicles

Gardening, Family, Saving Your Bacon, German Beer Radishes, Spinach Salad

I spent weeks hardening-off my precious tomato plants.  Taking them from the garage in the morning  and leaving them to fend for themselves in the wind and the sunshine of favorable spring days.  Late in the day they were returned to their lair in the garage. When I was not around Jill did his for me.

At long last the danger of of a late spring frost dissipated and the tomato plants were transplanted.  Shortly after which I had to leave town for a spell - releasing the tomato patch to Jill's care.  

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"First" Eighth Grade Teacher @ Wauwatosa Catholic School!

     Wauwatosa Catholic School is proud to introduce new faculty for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year to the community.  Upcoming blogs, including today's, will showcase the talented staff that Principal Julia D'Amato has assembled.  She refers to these fine teachers and support staff as her "dream team."  What an exciting time to be a teacher or student in a brand new school!

     Today, we bring you the first Eighth Grade teacher for Wauwatosa Catholic School:  Mr. Lance Taylor, graduate of The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

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