Thursday, May 30, 2013

North-east View, Miami-Battle Creek, Miami Springs, (Miami), Florida (Postcard Series)

About the hotel: A landmark example of the Pueblo Revival architectural style, the Hotel Country Club (Fairhavens)was built in 1926 by Glenn Curtiss and designed by architect Bernard E. Muller. The luxurious hotel was intended to anchor the development of Country Club Estates, and to comfortably house prospective purchasers. It was furnished in a Southwestern style, with hand-woven Pueblo Indian rugs on the floor and handcrafted solid mahogany furniture. Its domes towered five stories over the new community, which was still largely grassy and rural with fewer than five other permanent structures.

Photo credit:  Victor Linares

Saratoga Raceway at Night (Postcard Series)

Saratoga Race Track Sesquicentennial Celebration

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Sorry for being out of touch for so long. We should have made definite plans to see David Grisman at the Barrymore. That would have given us both something to look forward to. As it turned out, no surprise, I didn’t go, another missed opportunity to see a performer I have long admired.

Life is proceeding at its usual hectic pace. Only 6 more days of school left, and then we shift into our summer schedule. Which isn’t all that different from our schoolyear schedule actually, since it offers no relief from the usual juggling of activities and commitments. The boys will be attending a daycare program at a local school, one that provides them with a variety of offsite activities throughout the summer. Our evenings, at least three times a week, will be taken up with baseball games. We probably won’t venture out of Dane County until the end of June. (Not quite true.)

The boys and I drove to Pennsylvania during spring break. JoAnna was immersed in a special election. Her busy schedule didn’t permit a break. On the drive east, we made a planned stop at a Holidome in South Bend, Indiana, where the boys enjoyed the pool and a large activity area. In fact, they didn’t get to bed until 1 a.m. Party time! Nothing of interest to report from our four days in Warren, except that my dad continues to deteriorate both physically and mentally form Parkinson’s Disease.

Before returning home, we spent a couple of days in Chicago. I splurged and got us a room at a Days Inn on Lake Shore Drive, just across the way from Navy Pier. We visited the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Museum of Science & Industry, which I first visited when I was Andy’s age and remember being literally cluttered with all kinds of fascinating exhibits. Now there seems to be so much open space and all these rinky-dink displays. Even the boys weren’t overly impressed with this stop. We also walked around Michigan Avenue, bustling with activity, and took a ride on a speeding elevator to the top of the Hancock building at dusk. We had a great time.

Easter weekend the family spent on night in – get ready to cringe – Wisconsin Dells at the Polynesian, a resort hotel with two indoor waterparks. The boys, of course, had been lobbying for this getaway. Perhaps it’s a sign of how much my life has been transformed since those crazy Oshkosh years of excess, but I actually enjoyed myself. Family outings have been somewhat of a rarity this year. The waterparks, a bit of a stretch to call them that, are geared for younger children, Eddie probably being at the upper end of the age range. Andy still had a great time, though. Friday evening, Mom and Dad kept an eye on the boys from the bar, drinking margaritas and playing casino. We told each other we should have got a suite, so we could have some privacy after the boys went to bed.

We spent the Memorial Day weekend in Two Rivers, where JoAnna and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. All day Saturday I was an almanac of historical information. Exactly twelve years ago today, at this very minute, I was getting out of bed with a most horrendous hangover. Twelve years ago today, the men in the wedding party were hanging out in the parking lot of the Lighthouse Inn. Twelve years ago today, I was sweating bullets minutes before Dad’s homily. Twelve years ago today, people had finished inching their way through the reception line and pictures of the wedding party were being taken. Twelve years ago today, Joan Kranick’s husband was wearing JoAnna’s bra at the reception. What a weekend that was!

Saturday evening of this past weekend, after playing baseball with the boys in Nashotah Park in the morning and golfing with JoAnna, Andy, and Larry in the afternoon, we grilled steaks on the barbecue and had a feast. In many ways, it was a perfect day of fun and relaxation. We topped it off by playing cards and sitting around the fire in Larry’s outdoor pit.

Teaching stuff. I survived my class and a series of other teaching commitments without incident. The home front. As a result of years of rough play in the back yard and a blight in the front yard, I’ve been doing some major work as a lawn doctor. At first, I thought about hiring a professional, but the results of my test area in the back yard were very satisfying, so I convinced myself it is a job that I can do. Although I was grousing about its condition in March, the yard looks beautiful now what with the perennials massing and the annuals providing attractive splashes of color. So if it’s not my Middleton Public Library commitments, there’s still plenty to keep me busy.

We now have a new member of the household. Boxer is a little gray-and-white furball, just the cutest little kitty. We got him a few weeks ago when he was 6 weeks old. At that time, I could cup him in my hands. He’s a playful little guy. JoAnna and I have to close our bedroom door if we don’t want to be disturbed at 4 or 5 in the morning. “Time to play,” Boxer says. When I walk home for lunch, he bounces around my feet like a puppy. Today he didn’t appreciate the fact that I was ignoring him while eating my lunch, so he started to crawl up my legs, claws digging into my shins. He didn’t get the hoped for reaction.

I had been resisting the idea of a pet for a long time, remembering our previous experience with Misty, the hairball queen, but JoAnna and Eddie kept pressuring me. They promised that the cat would be their responsibility, and so far I’ve held them to that. As I told JoAnna, Boxer is not going to be like the laundry or the grocery shopping a chore that I take over almost exclusively.

Let us know when you’re going to be in the area. Look forward to seeing you soon.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hotel Brooks and the Pickwick Coffee Chop, Brattleboro, Vermont (Postcard Series)

Brattleboro Blaze Ravages Historic Downtown Building.  (Vermont Public Radio, 04/18/11)

Looking Back At Brooks House Fire In Brattleboro. (New Hampshire Sentinel-Source, 5/7/2011)

On This Date in 1998

A concluding note.

The weekend in Two Rivers was very relaxing and enjoyable. Once we returned to Middleton, it seemed to me as though we had been away for almost a week. JoAnna and I put the furniture back in order and rearranged the garage so we could keep an old chest of drawers there rather than return it to the hallway. I took time out from my chores to play baseball with Andy. Eddie accompanied us and skated around the parking lot on her rollerblades.

Now it’s back to our normal schedule.

Boxer, by the way, accompanied us to Two Rivers this weekend. He’s a pretty good traveler, although he did throw up twice on the way home. No major mess.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hotel Kenmore, Boston (Postcard Series)

Opened in 1915 as the Kenmore Apartments.

Then, as shown above, a hotel

Became the home to Grahm Junior College in the 60s and 70s.

Once again an apartment building, the Kenmore Abbey.

On This Date in 1998

Sunday remained a dreary day. Rain on and off. The gray dome stayed in place. Larry, Andy, JoAnna and I went to 10:30 mass at St. Luke’s, the church where we were married 12 years ago. The sanctuary looks much smaller now; a perception influenced by a recent remodeling project. During his homily, the priest announced a “discernment” project. Two Rivers, a community of 13,000 residents, its population stagnant and aging, has 4 Catholic churches, a dwindling membership, and not enough priests to go around. The diocese’s goal is to merge the four parishes, which of course, will bump up against individual loyalties. In a way, Two Rivers is much like Warren, a somewhat isolated town past its prime, struggling to find a new identify, hamstrung by both leaders and followers who have no vision. To be blunt, Two Rivers is worse off than Warren. There’s very little retail here, no movie theaters. People drive 10 miles to the far west side of Manitowoc to shop. Both Larry and JoAnna feel that Two Rivers’ proximity to Lake Michigan should be emphasized. Last year JoAnna and I were both impressed with the activity that took place along an extensive stretch of beach in Ludington, Michigan. Two Rivers has the same amenities. The locals just don’t know how to promote what they have.

During the afternoon, we took the boys to the Rogers Street Fishing Museum, where a double-masted (not exactly tall) ship had docked. It wasn't open for public inspection until today. We also visited the Two Rivers Historical Museum in the old Hotel Washington. The 2nd floor ballroom has been restored. The exhibits are an odd mish-mash of Two Rivers memorabilia and old stuff having no direct local connection. The museum also houses a soda fountain, as Two Rivers bills itself as the home of the ice cream sundae. 

Angela visited us during the late afternoon and evening. While the kids played downstairs, the adults played a card game called “65”.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hotel Dresden, Flint, Michigan (Postcard Series)

From Flint 1890-1960.  "This hotel at the southwest corner of Third and South Saginaw opened in 1907.  It was built by carriage and auto pioneer William A. Paterson.  The hotel was named after the German city Dresden and was the leading hotel in Flint.  Billy Durant and Benjamin Briscoe had a series of meetings there that led to the formation of General Motors.  The name was later changed to Miler and then to Adams before fire destroyed the building in 1963.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Los Angeles Biltmore (Postcard Series)

On This Date in 1998

The holiday weekend is off to an unexpectedly bright start. I woke up an hour ago to sunshine streaming through the windows. The most recent weather forecast predicted rain every day through Monday. Earlier in the week, we were told to expect nearly picture-perfect conditions. That’s where we are right now.

We are also in Two Rivers. We left Middleton at 4:00 yesterday, once school let out and the van was packed. We took advantage of our unoccupied house and had the carpets in the family room and living rooms cleaned. The blue carpet in the family room, installed in 1991, was starting to get embarrassingly soiled. Area rugs and Resolve could no longer hide or eliminate the problem areas. Within the last year or two, I had used a dry cleaning method, which was generally satisfactory except in high traffic areas. The beige living room carpet is 2½ years old, has never been cleaned, but still looks almost new, in spite of the boys and a number of large gatherings we’ve had at the house. We left the smaller piece of furniture “in storage” in the garage and kitchen so that the carpets could dry unobstructed over the weekend.

Since it’s our anniversary weekend, JoAnna and I are in a celebratory mood. Shortly after our arrival, we went out for fish at the Vet’s Club, a meal that made me y earn for those hot slabs of deep-fried haddock at Mr. Elmer’s in Oshkosh, which, unfortunately, is no longer in business. Larry is a sociological study in motion. Watching the 68-year-old hometown boy interact with practically everyone is fascinating. After our meal, we walked one block west to the K of C Club, site of the Richard family reunion Friday night fish fry and Sunday breakfast. JoAnna’s cousin Wayne Klein was working as a bartender. While the Richards – Larry, Alice, JoAnna, and Cindy – were yukking it up with friends at a table, the boys and I sat at the bar. I had been at the table, but the boys were getting bored and need some attention.

Andy, drinking a coke into which he had dropped breath mints, and Dad, sipping a beer played a game of baseball “Whadda-ya-know?”

I started out.

“He plays for the Houston Astros.”

“Jeff Bagwell,” Andy guessed.

“He’s one of the killer B’s,” I said, offering a second clue.

“Jay Bell.”

“Jay Bell doesn’t play for Houston,” I said, a little bit unsure of my current baseball knowledge.

“OK, one more clue,” I continued. “Not little, but….”

“Craig Biggio!”


Eddie would interrupt our game every now and then with one of his amazingly worldly questions, which I always took the time out to attempt to answer.

If I hadn’t have spent some time with the boys, they would have gone out of their minds with boredom and into unchecked mischief.

Back at the house, we played cards until shortly after midnight. Margaret, JoAnna’s godmother, and her husband Earl joined us. Margaret’s first husband, Richard, died 5 or 6 years ago. Unhappy with the life of a lonely widow, she quickly remarried, initially without the full support of her 5 children. Now she’s a lady of retirement leisure. She and Earl spend winters in Arizona, in the Phoenix area, and are avid golfers. It’s amazing what a second chance at love will do for a person. I remember Margaret acting like a giggly, blushing schoolgirl on the day that she and Earl got married.

Later in the day

Twelve years ago on this day of the week, the wedding had concluded. Our guests had inched their way through the reception line, and pictures of the wedding party and members of the families were being taken. Twelve years ago! So much has happened since then. Family. Career. Friends. Trips. We’ve achieved a wonderful contentment in our lives in spite of all the little bumps we encounter along the way. JoAnna and I were certainly fortunately to have found each other. (Should there be some music swelling up in a big crescendo in the background?) The years of my waiting and wondering now seem like series of rare opportunities to do all the things I felt I needed to do before settling down into a permanent relationship. I think that’s why I enjoy being a husband and father so much. I’ve learned that in these two roles, I’ve experienced the greatest rewards of my life.

The boys and I walked to Nashotah Park this morning. Andy practiced his pitching and hitting. Eddie ended up walking around, occasionally putting in a request for us to walk to the lake, which we did after I was able to hit a few balls, most of them line drives up the middle.

“Dad, that’s why I don’t like to pitch to you.”

That was my trademark style in Oshkosh during the 7 summers I played softball – stinging basehits up the middle.

This afternoon JoAnna, Andy, Larry, and I went golfing at a par-3 course a few miles outside of town, my first opportunity to use Dad’s clubs. It was a gorgeous day for golf: clear skies and the temperature in the mid-60s. We all played fairly respectably, JoAnna taking first with a score of 40, me in second with 42, Larry at 43, and Andy at 45. Andy could have tied Mom for first if he hadn’t lost it on the 3rd hole, where he hit his first three balls in a water hazard and then temporarily shut down. Once he focused on the game again, he made great shots.

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20, 1992

Considering how much I'm cutting into library time with personal business -- taking care of a sick Eddie last week for example -- I'm surprised I can find time to continue weeding the fiction.  I do find time to review the long range plan, where I feel that changes can be kept to a minimum (i.e., I can save myself some work here) and the overdues section of the circulation policy.  Now if I could just find time to revise my basic reference syllabus and start coming up with a structure for the children's reference workshop.

I get a lot of exercise today since my threat to have nothing to do with getting the van tun ed up proves to be nothing but hot air.  Big surprise.  I'm first in the service line at Russ Darrow.  I walk home without stopping for breakfast at IHOP or Denny's, not wanting to risk a violent case of IBS along Gammon Road.  A minimal staffing level at the library forces me to postpone a planned return walk after lunch to the late afternoon.  I pick up the boys, Eddie first.  When JoAnna returns home, the boys and I are playing on the hammock.

May 19, 1992

I'm a few minutes late for the LINK meeting, and this time they start without me.  Pinpricks to my ego. The meeting lasts 90 minutes, which turns our pot luck luncheon into a brunch.  Even though I have come empty-handed, I have no qualms about digging in -- and there is plenty of food to eat.

I take the scenic route form Oregon to Middleton, stopping at Shopko for a mini shopping spree.   My purchases....

On This Date in 1998

I hope this card gets to you on time. While I was home for lunch today, it suddenly dawned on me that I have to get an anniversary card not only for my wife but for my brother and sister-in-law. Walgreen’s didn’t have the greatest selection of cards. Some are way too cute. I look at a picture of a couple of lovey-dovey mice or rabbits or other furry critters and can’t make the connection to the two of you. Some are way too mushy, sentimental glop I wouldn’t wish on JoAnna. So you end up with a couple of polar bears, my favorite animals. (No, I don’t see the two of your as large Arctic mammals either.) 

Recently I mapped out our summer schedule. Baseball, baseball, baseball – three times a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, frequently two games each evening through the end of July. Eddie is playing his first season in a coach-pitch league. Andy is in his second year of Little Bucks and will also be playing in a special league which will involve two or three weekend tournaments. Well, JoAnna and I didn’t have any plans until the first week of August anyway. T hat’s when her family reunion takes place. I’ll probably have to skip my high school reunion. The last weekend in July isn’t going to fit into any travel plans. At this point, I’m thinking we’ll probably drive to Warren after the weekend in Two Rivers. That following weekend, Renee (Shulman) Prayzer is celebrating her bat Mitzvah, a ceremony she never observed when she was thirteen. I think her recovery from a bone marrow transplant operation had a lot to do with this decision.

We’re off to Two Rivers this weekend. So far we don’t have any special anniversary plans. We might go to Mahout’s, where the rehearsal dinner was held, or we might just cook out, depending upon the weather. Anyway, enjoy your special day.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18, 1992

Already a short week is looking much shorter, with a scheduled Friday departure date to Pennsylvania. The trip is threatening to cut into my work time in a big way.

During the morning, I'm preoccupied with the tentatively schedule visit from the appliance repairman.  When the previous stated time frame of 9-11 passes, I call to see if there might be a problem.  He arrives when I'm home for lunch.

After picking up the boys at their respective daycares, I begin the.....

Friday, May 17, 2013

On This Date in 1998

The weather has quickly shifted into summer gear. The temperature might hit 90 degrees today. It’s humid, too. A strong breeze kept me from sweltering. I suppose I could have turned on the a-c, but I wanted to experience fully the first real heat of the year.

My shopping trip was for domestic purposes. The boys need new underwear. I like the sock at Shopko; they have a gray, stain-resistant sole. They do hide the dirt a little bit better after they’ve been worn a few times. However, a newer, more important reason for returning to this particular brand is that I now have a sure-fire way to differentiate between Andy’s and my socks. His feet are getting big, almost a size 8, I think.

Another reason for the underwear purchase. While folding a load of laundry this weekend, I found two pairs of Eddie’s underpants with holes in the backside. That’s some strong flatulence.

A busy, mostly sports-oriented weekend. Andy played soccer Friday evening, his team losing 2-0. They just couldn’t work up any offense. JoAnna worked late, so she missed a night out with the boys. We went to Damon’s for dinner and trivia. I let the glutton take over and ordered the special: prime rib and a small rack of bbq ribs. It was indeed a hearty meal, but I’d only eaten two grapefruit for breakfast and a light lunch. I cleared my plate and could have eaten a rich, chocolate dessert, but thought better of it. Andy ordered the chicken strips, and Eddie surprised me by ordering the kids’ portion of ribs. On the game front, although we stumbled a big during our first trivia round, we were in first place by the time we left. JoAnna was home watching TV, special programming on the life and music of Frank Sinatra, unavoidable TV fare this past weekend.

On Saturday, Andy played soccer again at 9 a.m. Eddie had the same starting time, too, the first of three games for him, as he was participating in a tournament involving the first-grade teams. After watching Andy’s games, I dropped him off at home and Joined JoAnna and Eddie. We spent the next four hours at the soccer fields at West Middleton Elementary School. It was a blustery but gorgeously sunny day, with only a few wispy clouds here and there. By the late afternoon, I ended up with a face the color of a boiled lobster – okay, maybe a slight exaggeration – a combination of too much sun and wind. I didn’t complain it felt good to have the heat of the sun embedded into my face.

During the latter half of the afternoon, JoAnna and I tackled some yard work. She planted annuals, and I did some more lawn doctoring in the back yard. That evening we went to a “70s prom night” theme party. We both found “costumes” at this funky clothing store on State Street in Madison. JoAnna bought a long dress with a flowery print design; I got a pair of flared polyester slacks, a cream color, and a  navy long-sleeve western shirt, (snaps instead of buttons, of course) with a subtle pattern of what looked like red and baby-blue brush strokes. Unfortunately, there were no leisure suits in stock. Some friends of ours took pictures; I hope I can get a copy to send to you.

The party was held on the rooftop patio of a 6-story apartment building about a half mile east of the capitol. We had a great view of the Isthmus as well as a breathtaking sunset. There must have been 50-60 people in attendance, everyone easily ten years younger than me. But the crowd included a number of people from JoAnna’s office, and it was a real friendly crowd, a refrigerator full of beer helping bring about that mood.

Sunday was very lowkey. I escorted Andy to a baseball tryout, expecting to see hordes of kids, but they hardly had enough to field a team. While waiting for Andy, Eddie and I flew his kite, a cheap $4 model we bought a couple weeks ago at Target. It was a windy day providing excellent flight conditions. We had fun doing that. Later on, I did some more lawn doctoring, this time in the front yard, and then sacked out in the hammock and dozed off for an hour. Eddie woke me up when supper was ready. The evening included more Sinatra retrospectives on TV.

I started to put together a summer schedule of activities, baseball taking priority this year. JoAnna wants the boys to attend her family reunion this year, which is scheduled for the first weekend in August. That leaves a couple weeks (August 3-16) for the boys to visit. I don’t think I’ll be attending my high school reunion. The timing’s all wrong. Oh well, it wasn’t on my list of thing I absolutely gotta do.

So much for this edition of the news from Middleton. Stay tuned for further bulletins

Read House, Chattanooga (Postcard Series)

May 19, 1992

I'm a few minutes late for the LINK meeting, and this time they start without me.  Pinpricks to my ego.  The meeting lasts 90 minutes, which turns out pot luck luncheon into a brunch.  Even though I have come empty-handed, I have no qualms about digging in -- and there is plenty of food to eat.

I take the scenic route from Oregon to Middleton, stopping at Shopko for a mini shopping spree, my purchases....

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sandhill Crane at Tiedeman Pond

Tiedeman Pond Reflections

May 16, 1992

#10 on the Billboard Hot 100

"I've got blisters on my fingers," the result of a morning of roto-tilling.  JoAnna expects the blades to cut through the earth like butter; she can't understand why I'm standing still.  Once she takes a turn, she quickly learns.  After lunch -- leftover pizza -- we begin to plant annuals.

"You really like doing this, don't you?" JoAnna comments again this year.

Well, yeah, I think.

May 15, 1992

1 was enough.

Immediately upon waking, Eddie is calm, then boom!  He shifts gears into a fussy period wherein I imagine myself staying home for a fourth day in a row -- not completely averse to the idea -- watching a couple episodes of Perry Mason.  Eddie eventually settles down enough so that daycare and a return to a normal schedule seems like an option.  Walking into the library, I feel as though I've entered a twilight zone.  My productivity is below average, not helped by the fact that I leave at 3:30.  But it's for a good purpose.  JoAnna and I visit the credit union to see about getting a second mortgage.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hotel Savannah, Savannah, Georgia (Postcard Series)

May 14, 1992

#4 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending 5/16/92

Eddie's still feverish, and I'm still embracing unexpected days off from work, although today was a day away from the library anyway.

"Aren't you going to get in trouble?" JoAnna asks me.

No, but then if this keeps up, people might realize how dispensable library directors can be.

Eddie sleeps from 8 to 12.  I check in on him every 15 minutes, fearing the worst each time I enter his bedroom.  I can't believe he can sleep for so long.

I enjoy an inactive morning, watching two episodes of Perry Mason sandwiching a Joan Rivers sleazefest about alternative sex practices.  After 40 minutes of her show, I feel as though I need a shower.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hotel Hayne, Walterboro, South Carolina (Postcard Series)

On This Date in 1998

We received your letter yesterday, Mom, and are happy to hear that you are feeling better.  Glad you enjoyed your Mother’s Day gift.  Since I ordered by phone, calling Ekey’s direct instead of using FTD or Teleflora through a Middleton florist, I have no idea what the arrangement of cut flowers looks like.

I bought JoAnna a necklace, a gold chain with a gold heart and a small stone of blue topaz.  We cooked out Sunday afternoon – chicken teriyaki kabobs, with mushrooms, onion, zucchini, green and red peppers, and tomatoes served on a bed of rice.  Steamed asparagus on the side.  The boys ate chicken and rice; Mom and Dad’s entrees bordered on vegetarian.  We gave up most of our meat since the boys still won’t’ eat their vegetables, at least not the stuff that we prepared.  Eddie will peel himself a carrot every now and then, and both boys will eat a side of peas or corn.  Pretty typical, huh?

Andy had his first baseball practice yesterday evening.  I was working so I wasn’t able to observe it.  The coach has tabbed Andy to be one of the starting pitchers.  On Sunday there are try-outs for a traveling baseball team, and, of course, Andy is interested in that.  It could turn out to be a full summer of baseball.  Eddie has already had two practices.  He’ll be playing in a coach-pitch league this summer.
Andy’s soccer team is doing quite well.  They played three games last week, winning two and tying the third.  The tie game was played on Friday evening in Mount Horeb, 10 miles west of here, against their most competitive opponent.  The other team scored a goal on a penalty kick in the last minute of the game.  Both boys have soccer games this evening.  JoAnna’s working, which means I won’t be able to see any of Andy’s game.  His team’s “home” field is 5 miles west of Middleton, at the Sunset Ridge Elementary School.  Eddie usually plays at a field just two blocks from the house.   The field where Andy used to play most of his games the past two seasons, land owned by the city, is being transformed into tennis courts.

JoAnna’s expecting to work late tonight.  The Senate Democrats plan to filibuster some cock-eyed bill that the Republicans want to pass.  She checked out a stack of books at the library last night – biographies of Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Andrew Jackson – to help with the effort.  Might as well read something educational as opposed to just spewing hot air.
Eddie has become quite the skilled rollerblader.  In fact, he skated to the library yesterday while JoAnna rode her bike.  He’s developed  very good sense of balance, which makes me wonder why he hasn’t been able to master riding a bicycle yet.  Probably because he hasn’t given the latter activity an all-out effort.  Monday evening Andy was pulling him on his bicycle, a version of roller-skating.  I expressed my concern, but didn't forbid the activity – just told them to be careful.  Andy they were.
We've had our new member of the family for a week now.  Boxer is a gray-and-white little furball, so tiny when we first got him he easily fit into my cupped hands, although he has definitely grown during the past 7 days.  He’s adjusted to his new surroundings very quickly.  He spent the first few nights with JoAnna and me, but we were both nervous about flattening him as we changed positions during the night.  Friday night it was almost like dealing with a newborn for all the sleep we got.  After that we decided to keep him in the utility room, closing the door so he couldn't escape.  For the past two nights, he has slept on the couch in the family room.  Gaining a sense of independence, I suppose. 

Our cat was kept in a box while JoAnna and Eddie drove him from the east side of Madison to Middleton last week.  Hence the name Boxer.  Initially, I thought we should have called him “Birdy”, since his “meow” was more like a “chirp”.  His voice has changed in the week that we've had him.  His coloring is almost evenly divided:  gray on the top (except for a white collar) and white on the bottom.  When I came home for lunch yesterday, I found what looked to be a completely gray cat.  Boxer must have been exploring the furnace area in the utility room, getting his pretty coat all sooty.  I gave him a quick rubdown with a damp washcloth, and JoAnna gave him a more thorough cleaning after she returned home from work.  I hope Boxer learned his lesson.  I suppose if the furnace had been on, the heat would have repelled his curiosity.
Boxer really likes his family, although he does seem to be especially partial to the adults.  Yesterday during my lunch, even after I had put a cold cloth to his body, he followed me around the house like a dog, practically begging for attention.  I didn't give him his usual strokes as I was afraid of dirtying the light clothes I was wearing.  Right now he’s playing with my feet, again trying to get my attention, letting out with a “meow” every now and then.   For a little guy, his claws are sharp.  We talked about getting him declawed, something we’d have Meaghan’s dad do since he’s a veterinarian.  I’d hate to come home some day and find that he’s torn up the furniture, especially the nice stuff we have in the living room.  Despite my reservation – the rest of the family had to lobby long and hard to get me to agree to having an animal in the house (I thought the boys were enough!) – I really enjoy having Boxer around.  In fact, we've even talked about getting him a playmate.  Two cats?!  Maybe I’ll have to think about that one a little bit more.
How are things going with Dad?  For the past year or so, I have wondered what would happen if he could no longer negotiate the stairs.  Wouldn't you have to move your bedroom downstairs?  That would probably mean transforming the dining room, which I supposed is not the most desirable prospect.  Dad couldn’t be left along during the night, could he?  Do you think at some point you’ll need to hire a nurse or attendant to provide home case on an occasional basis?  At what point would we have to consider a nursing home?  From our last phone conversation, it sounded like Dad took a decided turn for the worse as far as basic motor skills are concerned, which is why all these questions are foremost in my mind.
You’ll recall that within the past month, I was bemoaning the conditions of the lawn.  My “doctoring” in the back yard has yielded tremendous results.  The large bare spot, the former whiffleball and kickball diamond of summers past, is now a lush green carpet.  Since then I’ve done some patching in the front yard and think that I’ll tackle the entire job myself.  My procedure is to loosen the soil with a rake, spread topsoil, mix in a nitrogen and phosphorous-rich fertilizer, and then sprinkle a liberal amount of grass seed, which is mixed into the soil.   I water on a daily basis, unless it rains, of course.  Now that we have most of our flowers in, the yard has been transformed into something I can be proud of again.  For the past two years, I’ve experienced a major case of the spring blahs when observing the fallow condition of the yard.  That feeling quickly disappears once it comes alive with new plant growth and color.  The yellows and reds of the daffodils and tulips are first.  Then the deepening green of the perennials and grass.  Now the splash of color provided by the annuals we've planted – mostly impatiens, pansies, and coleus.  I just wish we had more time to take in and enjoy the results of all the work we have put into our yard.
It’s not even 7 a.m. yet.  I woke up at 3:30 this morning unable to fall back asleep.  Since I felt rested, I decided to get an early start to the day.  I did my Walkfit, read the New York Times, played with Boxer, and have just completed this letter.

May 13, 1992

Eddie is still running a temperature:  101.  It is an improvement  though.  Having nothing pressing on my schedule, I again volunteer to stay home from work.  One might think I'm getting tired of my job -- or at least yearning for a change in my work life -- and one might be partially right.  I schedule an 11 o'clock appointment with Dr. Ellis.   Eddie sacks out from 8:30 to 10:00 and is in a great mood during his entire visit to the clinic.  The diagnosis   yet another ear infection, not to mention a raw throat, though I don't ask what that means specifically.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12, 1992

JoAnna walks back into the bedroom holding Eddie.

"I think we have a sick little guy on our hands."

Eddie has a fever.  She suggests we take him to Ginger Ail, but I volunteer to stay home.

"I have a meeting this morning that I don't have to attend, and I was planning to take off the afternoon anyway."

Eddie's fever stays within the 103 to 105 all day, although by the early afternoon he perks up.  During the morning he's lethargic and clinging when he's not asleep.  So when I take his temperature after lunch, I'm unpleasantly surprised to find that it's still over 103.

JoAnna returns home in time for me to get to the library before 5.  The board meets, and there are a few strange interludes:  Gail's clarification of her request to report grant expenditures, my rambling automation progress report, an unrehearsed explanation of circulation policy changes.  I stay at the library until 11, preparing the minutes, writing letters to the Education Section program panelists, eliminating the clutter from the top of my desk, photocopying articles on the L.A. riots.

Eddie's in bed with mom; he's wide awake but still looking a little feverish.  Actually, he feels disconcertingly warm.  I carry him to his bed but then can't fall asleep as I imagine him burning to a crisp.  He does fall asleep but wakes up fussing shortly after one.  Now he's hotter than a Bessemer furnace, much to his screaming displeasure.  He quickly cools down, literally and figuratively.  We keep him in bed with us, which results in a poor night's sleep for me.

On This Date in 1998

Today, of course, a Monday, is an absolutely beautiful day.  I want to play hooky from work.  I want to start planting the flowers JoAnna and I let sit on the picnic table in the back yard all weekend.
It rained much of Saturday.  Andy 10:30 soccer game was cancelled, even though the rain had let up by then.  Surprisingly, Eddie’s first baseball practice of the season went on as scheduled.  During the middle of the afternoon, JoAnna, Eddie, and I walked our bikes the few blocks to Middleton Cycle and Fitness just as a light rain started to fall.  After letting our bikes hang on hooks in the garage for five or six years, JoAnna and I decided to bring them back from the dead and get them tuned up.  Eddie’s bike, a hand-me-down from his brother, will also get tune dup.  Then he can learn how to ride it.  Eddie still hasn’t mastered a two-wheeler.
Sunday started out as drearily as Saturday, but the rain in the forecast never happened.  By late morning, JoAnna and I were outside tackling a variety of chores.  JoAnna edged the lawn along the sidewalk and cut down one of the cedars along the driveway.  We plan to put a trellis in its place, accenting the entrance to our side yard. I plucked weeds out of the lawn in the back yard and transplanted some ferns and other perennials to think out certain garden areas and fill out others.  I mulched the area of perennial by the patio.
The new grass I seeded in the back yard has really taken hold.  The large bare patch is just a bad memory now.  Based on the success of this project, it looks as though I’ll be doing a lot of lawn doctoring this summer.
By late afternoon, the sun was shining.  After driving Eddie to his soccer practice, I moved the back yard, except for the new area.  Only the second time I’ve used the lawnmower this year, the first time in the back yard.  With all the rain we’ve had lately, part o the lawn was starting to resemble a hayfield.
After consulting with our pediatrician, JoAnna and I decided to have Eddie participate in a Ritalin blind test.  Ritalin is a prescription drug that is used to treat attention deficit disorders.  Dr. Koslov described it to Eddie as “glasses for the brain, something that will help you concentrate better in school.”
The test will last for four weeks.  One week he takes two doses of the drug, mone at breakfast and another at lunch.  Another week he takes a placebo.  Only our pediatrician and the pharmacist knows when each type of pill is administered.  Eddie’s teachers will note his behavior at specific intervals during the day.
Even though he has already shown great improvement since starting his special reading classes, JoAnna and I want to determine if Eddie does have attention deficit disorder, and this test is one way to do that.

                                                            A Tuesday postscript
Yesterday evening I was able to do some planting, a combination of coleus and pansies next to the patio, but only had time to fill in about one-third of the bed.  JoAnna worked on rearranging the patio blocks that form a pathway along the south side of the house. It’s hard to get much done on a weekday evening.  We don’t get home until nearly 6:00.  We need to eat,.  The boys have homework to do.  Eddie’s is interactive, i.e., we work with him as he identifies a list of words or reads a series of short sentences.  I always have to take a few minutes to decipher the hieroglyphs in Andy’s assignment notebook.  His handwriting is so sloppy.  He brought his mid-quarter grades home yesterday, and they were worse than I expected, and I had lowered my expectations significantly.  D- in Language.  C in Math.  In both cases, the low grades are the result of late assignments that have yet to be turned in.  JoAnna and I just don’t understand what happened to his attitude about school during the past couple months.  I tried to talk with him about it at bedtime last night but he offered no enlightening answers, only a mumbled, “I don’t know” every now and then.  I think he just never connected with his teacher this year.  One of her children has been quite sick and maybe that family concern has left her preoccupied in the classroom.  Andy just doesn’t seem to care anymore, and threats aren’t making much of a difference.  Part of me says, “OK, relax, it’s only 4th grade.  He’s got plenty of time to recover.  Look how you goofed off academically in 8th and 9th grade to no severe effect.”  But then we don’t want Andy to develop bad (or nonexistent) study habits that he can’t break.  If I don’t go completely gray or bald within the next 8 years, I’ll consider it a miracle.
JoAnna worked with Eddie last night, helping him as he tried to take that first ride on his bicycle.  An event yet to happen.  The level of frustration he reached precluded any successful outcome.  Being the perfectionist that he is, Eddie did not take his tumbles with a pleasant composure.  A piercing wail of defeat carried over the roof of the house and settled over the back yard, where I was planting flowers.  I got up from my crouch to investigate.   Walking along the side of the house, I saw Eddie, fresh from another tumble, at first wrestling with his bicycle, then becoming stubbornly immobile, as if suddenly overwhelmed by the experience.  One of these days, he’ll feel the exhilaration of zipping along on his own.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, Mom, from all of us here.  We don’t  have any special plans at this time.  Just the usual house & yard activities at this time of year.  More flowers to plant.  Mulch to spread.  We’ll be going to Two Rivers for the Memorial Day weekend, which will coincide with our anniversary celebration.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bardstown, Kentucky (Postcard Series)

Not exactly a flattering perspective.

Bardstown, Kentucky.  Bourbon Capital of the World.

May 11, 1992

The alarm is set to go off at 5 since JoAnna has a breakfast meeting in Milwaukee.  My morning gets off to an unusual start.  Andy's shoes -- his only pair -- are nowhere to be found.  I figure I must have left them in the van last night.  We get Eddie to daycare and then the two of us eventually make our way to Kohl's, where I buy new shoes, socks, and a "dressing mat" for Andy and two pairs of jean shorts and a case of blank cassette tapes for me.  At work my biggest accomplishment is finalizing arrangements for an Education Section program at the WLA conference. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lois Heald Flood (1920-2013) Warren High School Class of 1938

Warren Times Observer

1938 Dragon Yearbook

Aerial View of Boston (Postcard Series)

May 10, 1992

Mother's Day is lowkey.  I don't even volunteer to cut up the potatoes.  Andy asks to go to the park, and we stay there until the fog rolls in.  It may be a warm, summery day throughout the rest of the state, but Two Rivers lives up to its Cool City reputation.  We don't leave for home until three. Andy sleeps during the first half of the trip, Eddie gets fussy during the second half.  Once we get home, I make the following discoveries:  ants have invaded the house, the washing machine agitator is still not working, the perennials I plants in the tree box appears to be serving as rabbit food.  I'm stressed out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 9, 1992

#1 grossing new movie; #15 overall.  #5,341 all-time domestic.

I take the boys to Nashotah Park in the morning.  Eddie loves going down the slide with Dad and becomes frustrated when he realizes he can't climb the steps on his own.  Although I cut into Eddie's nap time, I take the boys to buy a Mother's Day present.  At the drugstore down the street, I can't find a scent of perfume I like.  We drive downtown, find a place to park, then scope the inventory at Jansen's. We settle for an aqua cotton blazer.

I miss most of the party for Larry at the Labor Hall.  Andy and I spend some time together at the lake, throwing pebbles at the dead and dying alewives.  Then it's naptime for Eddie.  The two of us return to Grandma and Grandpa's, where I set up the playpen outside.  It takes Eddie about a half hour to fall asleep.  I sit in the late afternoon sun, sipping a martini, and reading a book by Paul Monette called Afterlife.

JoAnna and her folks have another party to attend in the evening.  I fall asleep with the boys.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8, 1992

We're Two Rivers bound today.  JoAnna's dad is retiring.  We have a few errands to run before hitting the road.  Andy left his jacket at Little Red Preschool yesterday.  I drop off an armload of clothes at the cleaners, where some backslapping bozo with toxic face discoloration makes a disparaging remark about my white legs.  It seems like some movement or gesture of Andy's elicited this strange comment.  I try to paste a sportin' grin across my face, but I'm sure it registered surprise and bewilderment.  Not having processed what the guy said, my brain can't prepare a comeback.

After a stop at the credit union, I suggest breakfast at Bev's Cafe on E. Washington.  Good choice, even though no tables are available.  We sit four across at the counter, and both boys handle this new eating experience very well.  I enjoy a "home-cooked" meal of two eggs over easy, American fries, and a grilled slab of ham, although the sausage patty that Andy ordered looks like the better choice.

JoAnna volunteers to drive, so I'm free to read the paper for awhile.  I note with interest the ongoing construction along 151 just east of the Interstate, a massive infrastructure project to accompany American Family's huge new development.  Between Madison and Fond du Lac, I read aloud a few chapters from Molly Ivins' latest book for JoAnna's benefit.  We also do the Times crossword puzzle together.  Andy calls Grandma and Grandpa Nelson on the car phone as we detour through Fond du Lac, where commercial establishments are mushrooming along highway 41.  As we leave the city, Andy gets a bit rambunctious, sticks his head out the window and loses his baseball cap.  At first we say, no, we're not turning around, but his pitiable crying forces a mutual change of mind.

We gather at Cindy's house in Manitowoc -- I'm surprised she bought a place on such a busy street -- where a stretch limo picks up Alice, Albert, Cindy, JoAnna, and me.  We are chuffed to Two Rivers to pick up Larry on his last day of work.  From 3 to 6, we barhop and have a great time.  I lose track of how many stops we make.  We gather for dinner at the place where JoAnna and I had our wedding reception.  I order the double haddock and what I'm served -- four deep-fried breaded fish squares -- is nowhere near what I imagined.  I have little opportunity to engage in conversation with the others at the table.  I need to keep an eye on an almost hyperactive Andy.  After an interesting stand-off, as well as some playful pushing and shoving, Andy and his new pal enjoy some over-exuberant fun together.  It's fascinating to watch two youngster become "friends" so quickly.

The four of us -- JoAnna, Andy, Eddie, and me -- walk to Grandma and Grandpa's with a stop at Dairy Queen along the way.  I order a peanut buster parfait and enjoy every sweet mouthful.  Back at the house, I weigh myself on the bathroom scale.  My eyes bug out when I see the red line bisect 210.  No wonder I'm struggling to get into some of my pants.

Night View of Grant Park, Chicago (Postcard Series)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Either I'm Shrinking or the World's Getting Bigger

On This Date in 1998

As of last night, there is a new member of the 1720 Mayflower Drive household.  His name is Boxer, and he’s a furry little gray-and-white puffball who weighs less than a fistful of cotton.  More specifically, Boxer is a 6-week old kitten.  JoAnna and Eddie picked him up last night at Julie and Ron’s house on the east side of Madison and drove him back to Middleton in a box.  Hence the name. I suggested we name him Birdy, since his “meows” sound more like “chirps”.  And as small as he is, Boxer has a call-of-the-wild cry that will curdle your blood.  He is still experiencing some separation anxiety, although I will admit he did have a very restless night.  Even though we set up a bed for him in the utility room, where we also decided to keep his letter box, he spent the night in Mom and Dad’s bedroom, either between us on the bed or on the floor on JoAnna’s side of the bed.

Eddie is so excited.  He finally has a pet, something that he can take care of.  I carried Boxer into the boys’ bedroom this morning, and Eddie immediately came to life, unlike most other schooldays when it takes at least a half hour of prodding to get the boys in gear.  Eddie cradled the kitten against his chest; both of them looked so content.

I was the last to leave the house this morning, and Boxer didn’t want to see me go.  After giving him a final series of strokes, rubbing the area around his ears and neck, I bent down to place him on the floor, but he dug his claws into my shirtsleeve and wouldn’t let go.  I practically had to shake him off.  He seemed happy to see me when I returned home for lunch.  I think he’s already beginning to feel comfortable in his new surroundings.  He likes to explore.  We’ve given him the full range of the house.  He’s quickly becoming a playful little critter.  This morning he crawled into one of my tennis shoes.  Maybe this will make a better bed, he might have thought.  Before going back to the library after lunch, I noticed that he had used his letter box for the first time – at least the first time that it was obvious to my eye.  (Two little strands of almost ebony poop.)

Boxer looks so funny as he moves around the house.  He seems to be floating, I a bouncy sort of way, just above the floor.  He weight next to nothing so a strong exhale would set him off course.  He has a cute little face and beautiful close-set eyes.  Any reservations I previously held about an animal in the house have quickly vanished—poof!  Overnight I became a cat-lover.

Meaghan’s dad is a veterinarian.  Andy called him last night to ask about getting Boxer declawed and neutered.  The claws can go anytime after the cat is 6 weeks old.  I can’t remember the answer to the second part.

“What are we going to do with the cat during Memorial Day weekend?” I asked my wife.

“We can take him to Two Rivers,” she responded.

“Will he and Rusty get along?” I wondered aloud.

The main question, though, is will Larry and Alice welcome 5 from Middleton instead of the usual 4.

This letter will probably be old news by the time you receive it as I’m sure JoAnna is eager to call your about Boxer.

Happy Mother’s Day, Alice!  Make Larry wait on you hand and foot.  (I can hear Larry muttering from here.  How’s that different from any other day!)

We send our love.

May 7, 1992

JoAnna has a series of evening meetings, including county board, so I pick up the boys at daycare.  Andy has gone a second day without choking anyone, so I reward him with a cheeseburger kids' meal at McDonald's.  Eddie gets the chicken McNuggets, and Dad opts for three chicken fajitas.

Broadway Street, Downtown Oklahoma City (Postcard Series)

Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6, 1992

#8 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week

After my chat with Jane Robbins, I'm all fired up about the Education Section's Friday program at the WLA fall conference.  Unfortunately, Margaret Myers, ALA Whatever, is not in her office, but I do leave an extended message, hoping that she won't be offended now that I've decided the program should be a panel discussion.  But what can I do.  The reports I hear is that Margaret is not a very dynamic speaker.  So how did I get myself into this shit in the first place?  Just say "yes" to whatever I'm asked to do.

I spend most of the afternoon on the road.  A simple washing machine repair turns out to be an extended exercise in frustration all because I don't bother to read the instructions carefully.  I make two trips to Madison Appliance on Williamson Street.  Myopia is my middle name.

The report on Andy is good.  Yesterday he was into choking his playmates.  Five times.  I'm thinking what kind of monster do I have on my hands here.  JoAnna and I both make an effort to speak with Andy directly about his inappropriate behavior.  I guess we make an impression.

Mother's Day is quickly approaching and all I've done so far is buy two cards.  At least Grandma Nelson has her flowers to look at.