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Saturday, September 24, 2022


Dateline: Hayward, Wisconsin, Sept. 24, 2022.

News: Kids try to eat donuts on a string without using their hands during the Fall Fest.

I need to get out more and see some of these minor joys of life and photograph them. 

I went to the Fest last year in my orange T-shirt and won biggest pumpkin contest. When I wear the same T-shirt through the year, I still wear the medal. Some people were pissed. But I was like, rules are rules: Big and orange.

Fun day, tiring and bad for an old man's knees and hips, pounding up and down the hard surface of Main Street for three hours.

But I got this photo out of it.

So worth it.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and donuts on a string to all of you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, September 23, 2022


As the season turns, the grill stays hot.

The leaves outside my bedroom have started turning red and the air no longer smells green, the kind of scent of freshly mown grass.

I left open the window as I slept the other night when temperature descended into the 40s, sinking the thermostat to 62. I don't care. I have blankets. Additional T-shirts. And maybe some shots of Dr. McGillicuddy's Mentholmint Schnapps. 

But I must grill. 

Tuesday night, after I left abruptly from a local watering hole because the asshole next to me used the N-word as adjective, adverb and noun, I decided to grill out during the week -- a rarity for me.

It was worth any darkness, cold temperature and grogginess in the morning.

With the help of a local Bavarian-trained chef, I modified a Thomas Keller recipe for roast chicken. The latter had me squeeze fresh lemons over the chicken carcass and then shove the lemon husks into the cavity along with rosemary sprigs. I used the last of rosemary growing on my deck. But Max, a retired chef who somehow found his way from Bavaria to northern Wisconsin, suggested I add fresh parsley and some onion. He told me this while I polished off red cabbage, fresh sauerkraut and spatzel he made for Oktoberfest here.

It was beautiful. The vibrant mixture of lemon and rosemary -- I'd eat a shoe stuffed thusly -- were balanced by the earthiness I love of onions and parsley.

A lovely little evening, along with half a bottle of Wente Chardonnay, soothed the stress of Tuesday's deadline and the asshole at the bar. (Note to self: "Asshole at the Bar" is a great autobiography title.)

After I called him a bigot and a racist, and then left, he has not returned to my watering hole.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and a whole roast of chicken on the grill unto you my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

 One of the greatest things about being a journalist is you get to be in places others have never imagined.

That's how I found myself Saturday morning where 3,000 bicyclists whooshed past me while I took photos to document the start of the 39th annual Chequamegon Mountain Bike Festival, a 19-mile race through hills of the Wisconsin Northwoods.

Colleagues told me about the "whoosh" and for about five minutes the bikers created a stiff breeze as they raced past while I clicked away.

The riders don't look like they're racing here but at the beginning, in downtown Hayward, they're waiting for the turns of the downtown to give way to the open road and later the off-road trails used for the Birkebeiner cross country ski tournament.

But they were moving fast enough to make the wind blow through my hair -- both of them.

Peace unto Ukraine and may the breeze of a thousand cyclists tousle your hair and offer you peace.

Friday, September 16, 2022

 Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

-- Dean Vernon Wormer

Living out of boxes is no way to go through life, either.

Summers are busy here in the Wisconsin Northwoods. We have the weekly newspaper and I also manage another weekly south of here. Starting with Memorial Day, we put out a magazine every two weeks to welcome visitors to God's Country. We have our own special sections and we have regional editions.

It is a busy time.

Sadly, that's meant my efforts at unpacking have slowed. Which is a nice way of saying I haven't been unpacking -- either my boxes or my burdens. Since at least May.

That will change Saturday, even though I'll spend my morning taking photos of a race that includes 2,000 bicycle riders though the gently rolling hills of the Northwoods.

Then I'll visit one of the local history museums to get an armful of historical photos to publish with our Time Machine column, a favorite feature of most newspapers where we recap stories from the past.

After that, I'll probably take some photos at our local Oktoberfest, where the feast is cooked by a retired, Bavarian-trained chef named Maximillion. (He has referred to a competitor as having Scheiße wienerschnitzel. Shit.)

Then, then I'll return home to restart the unboxing process. 

The truth is I love my job and any chance I have to cover my community I'll not just take but enjoy.

But I will also reconcentrate efforts to unbox.

Home needs to be a refuge rather than an afterthought. I need my cooking equipment so I can have over hungry friends. I also need to feel comfortable in my confines.

Here's to serious unpacking as the summer season cools.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and an unboxed life unto you my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

 The state of Wisconsin has conferred unto me doggie license plates.


My lack of Wisconsin-issued license plates had become something of a local discussion point particularly given it's been 18 months since my arrival. Among the most notable are a couple of retired cops who can't give up on their mission of keeping the peace, although vehicle registration is more about the state finding ways to make money than protecting citizens from criminals.

Arf. arf.

So $260 bucks later, I'm legally registered, sadly not with the American Kennel Club.

Arf, arf, arf.

And I have plates that send secret signals to others on the road, this guy is OK, he's from Wisconsin. He drinks, eats tubed meats and cheers on the Green Bay Packers even when they tear his heart out as they did last Sunday. He's not a Goodfella, as in the movie. But he's a fella. I'll tell ya that much.

Arf, arf, arf, arf.

Perhaps the new plate will earn me points with my dog-owning friends or dog-loving strangers. They will assume I'm dog friendly. However, I do not have a dog. I can barely take care of myself let alone another living being that deserves a life better than existing on Twizzlers and gin martinis (seriously, try it, they make great companions).

Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf.

The woman at the BMV, which stands for Bowl Movement Vehicle like my own, told me I needed to become a Wisconsin citizen by getting a state driver's license. That not as easily done. I need a birth certificate or a passport, two bills sent to my house, a urine sample, a swab stuck up my nose until it tickled my brain, a QI test -- I mean an IQ test -- an entire toe, some spit on a glazed donut, a recording of me singing "Kumbaya" in falsetto and one rabbit bunny.

Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf. arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf.

Who the hell brought the chihuahua?

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and "arf" unto you my brothers and sisters.

Friday, September 9, 2022


My parsley is dying.

It could be treated as a metaphor to go along with summer.

"As the season of summer passes, so do the greens of summer."

Nah, too easy.

For most of college, I worked toward a second degree in philosophy with a specialty in logic. My logic mentor, Dr. Richard Behling, was a logical positivist but said he wasn't because the school was regularly derided as self-refuting. Logical positivists, or so said Karl Popper in 1933, would not discuss anything that couldn't be proven logically or scientifically -- an idea that couldn't be proven, you guessed it, logically or scientifically. 

But my professor once said the perfectly logical poem was from Gertrude Stein: "A rose is a rose is a rose" ad infinitum. 

What of parsley?

Growing outside on my deck, it shall pass. This, too, could be said of me, of all of us.

I would remiss, though, to fail writing about growing parsley this year in my newest home. Among my crop was rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano and parsley -- plus a basket of salad greens and a tomato plant. (The latter of which, in a pot, produced tomatoes with less flavor than the supermarket tomato in January. I fed them to the Byrds -- not birds but the seminal rock band of the 1960s.)

Parsley was a throwaway but it ended up being the star of the summer.

Fresh parsley was so wonderful, I couldn't pass it any time of day without pinching a sprig and chewing on it -- including at 8 a.m. on my way to work. I started plucking and chopping parsley finely for a simple breakfast of parsley scrambled eggs and toast.

And it is dying as it will and should.

I didn't use enough of my herbs this summer but it was a wonderful start to creating a home after several years of tumult.

Next summer will be better as I am at home.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and parsley unto you my brothers and sisters.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

For those of you who know me, grilling is my preferred milieu.

To paraphrase the description of the Old Man in "A Christmas Story," where other artists work in oils and pastel, I work in grilling.

And I have added a grill to my home.

Yes, studies have suggested charred food might involve carcinogens but what doesn't? So does bacon, which supposedly has the same issue. But bacon has never harmed me, only loved me. Were someone to invent a bacon comforter, I would buy it. (Note to self: Invent bacon comforter.)

But if something is cooked over coals, I'll eat it. And I'll cook it.

The photo I'm running with this post is the mundane: burgers and brats.

That will be lunches and dinners for half a week with the occasional vegetable acknowledged in a friendly manner. Sauerkraut is a vegetable, obviously.

But I can and will grill a three-course meal.

We'd start out with a grilled salad. I cut a head of romaine length-wise, brush it with olive oil and then salt and pepper. Put on the grill cut-side down for three minutes and then turn. Put crumbled blue cheese and cooked bacon on and cook another two minutes. Pull and dress the grilled salad with homemade balsamic syrup (Take a cup of balsamic vinegar and three tablespoons of brown sugar, cooked down to a cup again).

The main will be a whole chicken, drizzled with lemon juice. Then throw the lemon husks into the cavity of the chicken along with fresh rosemary. Twenty minutes before the chicken is ready to go, throw rosemary sprigs on to the coals to give the chicken a smokey rosemary taste.

Finally, cut peaches in half and rub brown sugar on to the cut side. Grill that for two to three minutes and turn over for another two minutes. Serve with ice cream.

It's also insanely easy to grill a pizza at home.

Or just about anything.

So now I have a grill and that adds to making my place more of a home for me. 

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and charred foods unto you my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

 My mom turned 90 this weekend.

Saturday, I drove to Chippewa Falls -- with help from a friend who loaned me some money to make my car highway worthy -- to pick up my brother and celebrate with them this distinctive mark in my mom's life.

And ran into friends.

First things first, my brother and I had lunch at a bar that serves decent hot beefs. Sadly, the bar where I wanted to buy hot beefs -- including one for mom -- was closed. But any hot beef can be elevated with enough horseradish. And I'm not talking about horseradish sauce that's creamy and subtle. I mean a Silver Springs horseradish that's processed and hot and stings your tongue like an angry hornet. But then the sting goes away and you take another bite.

While eating at the Sand Bar on Lake Wissota, my brother and I ran into an old friend of mine from high school, Nancy. A nice hug and catching up from thirty to forty years was a nice dessert to our lunch.

We stopped and saw my friend Tom who lives a couple hundred feet away and then off to see a good hunk of the Arntz family across the road.

Then on to mom in the old folks home where we surprised her with her own hot beef as well as some Saskatoon berry tarts.

Um, what?

My mom was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, 90 years ago on Sept. 5, 1932. She grew up during the Great Depression not knowing the family was poor and during the war when a kid doesn't understand what is war.

Mom left Canada for a United States job sometime in the early 1950s -- it's fuzzy for her now -- and probably hasn't had a Saskatoon berry in 70 years.

According to, the "Saskatoon berry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a deciduous native shrub that grows from western Ontario to British Columbia and the Yukon. The city of Saskatoon takes its name from a Cree word for the sweet, fleshy fruits, which were of prime importance to Aboriginal people and early settlers. On the prairies, saskatoons were a major ingredient in pemmican. Saskatoons are very hardy plants that can survive winter temperatures of -50 to -60º Celsius with a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. Plant size ranges from a small to large shrub or tree 4 to 6 m high."

She loved them, praising the baker who made them.

That baker, whom I've never met, is married to a trucker friend from Canada, Brian, an occasional drinking buddy at Angler's here in Hayward.  In one discussion, Brian found out my mom was from Saskatoon so his wife baked and he trucked in a personal order from my mom.

She took great joy in biting the tasty little cakes that reminded her of youth.

What struck me was a tour of friendship, from friends I've known for more than half a decade to a new friend I met in Hayward, the Canadian trucker.

And how they've all added to my life.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace unto old and new friends my brothers and sisters.

Friday, September 2, 2022

 I fear I have failed all of you, dear readers, during this month of August 2022.

I filed just four posts this last month.

In the beginning -- and I mean neither the Biblical beginning with Adam and Eve nor the scientific beginning of the Big Bang -- I filed a post every day. Mostly because I needed something to do. The hardest part of losing my job was that I love work. And as it was the beginning of the pandemic, I went from doing 12 to 14 hours a day to doing nothing but apply for jobs.

My mind doesn't do well without a goal.

I did apply for multiple jobs a day, I wrote a blog post each day, I worked on a screenplay -- which my script writer daughter said needs work -- as well as a stage play. The last uses the platform of "A Chorus Line" to describe the absolutely true story of how Rasputin's daughter was mauled by a bear in Peru, Indiana. As a side note, my kid likes that one.

But, frankly, life has been busy.

I love that I get paid to read and write for a living. Love it. When I was in fourth grade, when the nun was asking us children what we wanted to do for a living and everyone was saying fireman, astronaut, nurse, I said I wanted to write for a living. The nun said, "Mr. Jackson, no one will ever pay to read what you write."

I now say, these 50 years later, "Screw you, sister."

So I promise I'll do better to detail the minutia of my life.

One of my dreams was to have readers. Now that I have them, I need to do better.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace and words unto you my brothers and sisters.