Monday, August 18, 2008

Flea Market Kitsch

One of my favorite things to do this summer has been going to rummage sales and flea markets. The thrill of the hunt for something fun, different and preferably old is what keeps me searching. I often go with my friends Kait or Jess around Waukesha or a bit further to church sales that sound promising. Much of what I buy I don't have to have like the 1970s Look magazines, the white bird planter or the Hello Kitty cup. But, there have been some practical items I have bought for my new apartment like the coffee table whose top I refinished, the George Forman grill and the photo album.

It's strange what a strong effect rummaging has on me. It can be so exhilarating. It has definitely become one of my favorite things to do. Of course, that's partly due to the success I have been having.

There are several people in my life who enjoy rummaging just as much as I do, so it's even more fun when I can go with them.

My mom and I went rummaging when I was a young child. She would circle all the good garage sales ads in the paper and make a list on a separate piece of paper in order of which ones sounded the best. As time went by, she acquired a collection of collectible guide books on Depression glass and salt and pepper shakers that she brought with us on our rummaging excursions. We had so much fun in those days as people swarmed on good sales and car accidents were barely avoided as people quickly pulled out of parking spots onto the next promising rummage sale.

Things have changed a bit in the garage sale world, I think. It seems that fewer people advertise their sales, except for the sign on the corner, and fewer people go to them. However, the number of rummage sales seems to have increased this year in Waukesha.

I hope to get a few more good weeks of rummaging in before the season ends. I still need a VCR. I'm also always on the look out for Vera linens.

I went to the Mukwonago Flea Market/Maxwell Street Days on Saturday and had a good time. It's a mix of new cheap items from China and authentic antiques. There are also a wonderful selection of super tacky items. I took a couple of photos of some of those tacky items, but I wish that I would have taken more. Even the people who go there can be a sight to see. One woman actually wore one of those umbrella hats on her head!

I can't wait to see what I find this week at rummage sales. I hope there is a huge church rummage sale to go to!


"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main... and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life."
--Walt Disney

"Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle."
--A Course in Miracles

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Animals at Frame Park

A walk is Frame Park is always enjoyable. It's a very nice walking and biking path that circles around a portion of the Fox River that runs through downtown Waukesha. Along the path there is a flower garden that I have written about previously. There is also a playground, water fountains, a grassy amphitheater, bike and canoe rentals and a baseball field that may be getting expanded.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of walking in Frame Park for me is being able to see a variety of animals, including large fish, great blue heron and many, many ducks. The ducks amuse me to no end. When I walk in the morning, they are still sleeping next to the paths as late as 10 a.m. They are wide awake and quaking loudly at 11 p.m. The ducks are quite tame and will barely crack their eyes open to look at you as you walk pass them in the morning. There is also a variety of ducks, including the traditional mallards and others I can't identify. I was happy to see the duck population rebound after the floods because I saw some baby ducks get swept away in the current.

There has also been a resident great blue heron this summer that lives along the river in Frame Park and can often be seen on the piers. He is quite majestic and is always a pleasant surprise to spot as he sits and preens on one of the many piers.

Here are some photos from my recent walks in Frame Park.

QUOTE: "Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search or struggle. Just be."
--Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Waukesha flower garden

There is a beautiful flower garden in Waukesha' Frame Park that I enjoy going to at different times of the year to see what is in bloom. Earlier in the spring, I took photos of the brilliantly beautiful crab apple trees in bloom. This past weekend, I photogrpahed the varities of roses blooming.

A garden adds so much to a community, I feel. The garden in Frame Park is very well-maintained. It was created in an Italian sunken garden style with urns, lattice work and benches. It is also quite geometrical.

Whenber I go on vacations to a new city, I visit its flower garden. Over the past year, I have gone to the botanical gardens in Seattle and St. Louis. Next weekend, I will visit friends in Charlottesvill, VA and Chapel Hill, NC. My goal is to make a trip to their gardens and take many lovely photos.

The roses in Waukesha's Frame Park:


"Bloom where you are planted."

"How beautiful, how buoyant, and glad is the morning."
--L.E. Landon

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flood Roundup

It's certainly been a hectic couple of weeks for me due to the flooding in much of Waukesha County. It's finally starting to settle back into the regular routine as most communities are cleaning up. Pewaukee's downtown is open for business again, but the beach is still partly submerged. I know that many people still have flooded basements. FEMA is offering aid to many Wisconsin counties, a third of which have been declared disaster areas.

I did enjoy getting to cover the flooding. I felt so bad for the people adversely affected by the high waters, but because of the storms, I was given some exciting photography opportunities and interviews.

Through it all, I was very impressed with how neighbors helped neighbors, city staff helped businesses and club members helped communities. Many people used their free time to make sandbags and carry them to where they were needed. Others volunteered time to help keep people safe in the flood areas. It's good to know that in our day and age, people are still out there helping their neighbors in need.

Here are some of my better photographs from the flooding and storms.

Left, Eric Clendenning, 10, of Hartland jumps into a flooded Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Pewaukee Tuesday afternoon followed by Katrina Zenda, 7, of Pewaukee and Lucas Clendenning, 8, of Hartland. The children said they were having fun playing in the water.

Tim Budda, 18, of Sussex skimboards Tuesday evening along the flooded beach in downtown Pewaukee. Many area residents visited the flooded downtown to take photos.

Village of Pewaukee staff walk along flooded Wisconsin Avenue near the snow plows and parts used as a water breaker for waves coming off of Pewaukee Lake.

A mature tree fell Thursday afternoon on a City of Mukwonago house denting
the roof and creating a lot of work for Dave. D. Williams, on roof, Greg
Wiza, sitting in the middle of the tree and Raul Cervera, with the chain
saw. Wiza, who owns Gwiz Tree Service, said it was the first call he
received after the storm yesterday, but that the past couple of weeks have
been busy.

A boat dock in the City of Pewaukee on Pewaukee Lake is not accessible.

Sand bags protect downtown Pewaukee businesses.

After hearing that carp had swam through downtown Pewaukee on Tuesday, Marlee Szmanda, 7, of Stone Bank set out to catch some of her own. copyright Waukesha Freeman.

Jarrett Ruppenthal guides his daughters, Sydney, 5, left, and Ciara, 3, right, along sandbags placed to protect businesses along Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Pewaukee.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Here are some of my first photos taken early this morning of the flooding of Fox Lake from Frame Park. Much of downtown Waukesha is closed.

Monday, June 2, 2008

sweet summer days

As usual, it looks like Wisconsin has quickly switched from chilly spring days to warm summer days. I am so excited about summer this year, more so than I remember for previous years. Or at least that's how it feels. I think that most Wisconsinites get really excited when summer arrives. This year especially so because of the cold, harsh winter we had. Plus, in Wisconsin we know how to do summerhe the best. There are way too many options each summer weekend of things to do as every little community and Milwaukee has at least some cool summer festival to attend.

There are also so many great trails and parks to enjoy. Yesterday afternoon, I hopped on my bike and pedaled over to the Fox River Sanctuary, a place near my apartment that I have never been to before. I was surprised to see so many serious bikers there. I soon figured out that the park was the beginning of the Glacier Drumlim Trail. I followed the path and had a great bike ride. I biked as far as the first farm and then turned around and headed back to my apartment.

The ride was wonderful because that part of the trail wanders through the woods and past the Fox River. The blooming honeysuckle made the path smell so sweet and the phlox made the area so pretty, too. I was impressed by the number of bikers on the trail, everyone from serious distance bikers to casual family bikers. It was such a great atmosphere. My aunt Ellen and I are planning to go there one day this week and I hope to again by myself at least one more day. It's such a great feeling knowing that there is a great bike trail like that so close to my apartment.

Right now, I am sitting on a small camping chair on the roof of my building with my guinea pig in his cage near me(Ihave wireless Internet to make this possible).
He looks happy as he is sniffing the breeze. I am very pleased to be able to sit up here and enjoy the late morning as swallows chirp and fly above my head. There are several trees whose branches extend over the roof. I sat up here last night, as well, as I talked to my friend, Kit. I was able to see the end of the sunset. These are my first times to spend time up on the roof, but I plan to sit up here much more often.

I was going to plant tomato and pepper plants in pots, but feared the sun on the roof would be too bright. Observing the light right now, I think it would be fine. I am starting to think again about getting some plants and pots this week. It would be great to have some plants of my own and to get some fresh, delicious vegetables for Skitch and me to enjoy this summer. I also think I will get a couple more camping/lawn chairs to use up here when friends come over so we can watch the sunset or get a light tan.

The view is quite nice from here, too. I can look at the Carroll College art center, chapel and athletic field, as well as, many trees. I do get road noise, but the swallows flying over head help to block out the noise from the tucks, motorcycles and buses.

I am really starting to get comfortable with the idea that it is summer and am excited about all the new possibilities it holds. I am also looking forward to the traditions, such as Irish Fest, Devil's Lake and laying out in my parents' backyard.


"Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything."
--Rainer Maria Rilke

"Where would the gardener be, if there were no more weeds?"
--Chuang Tzu

Friday, May 30, 2008

the Mourning Dove fiasco

Ah, spring the time of baby animals, precious flowers, whimsical small leaves and new beginnings.

At first, I was slightly upset several weeks ago when I discovered that a mourning dove had made her nest on my window sill. I had wanted to put a screen in that window, next to my desk and on the side of the house. But, I discovered that she had already claimed it as her own. I had left the storm window up the day I had moved in, allowing enough space for a small nest with two little white eggs in it.

As the past few weeks have gone by, I have come to enjoy having her there more and more. It's almost like an interactive form of the Discovery Channel. I have watched the mourning dove feed her two young ones and have heard her coo to them. Recently, I began to worry that as the babies grew bigger they may fall out of the window.

Yesterday, my fear was partially realized.

I was eating breakfast when I heard a loud commotion at the window. I ran over and peeked out. I only saw the mother's feet as she seemed to fall out the window. My first thought was the baby had fallen down and she was trying to catch it. I grabbed a kitchen towel and my keys then dashed outside to search through the overgrown brush for the baby and mom. As I searched, I looked around to see crows hollering in the trees. At that point, I realized the doves were a victim of a crow. After not finding the doves, I banged on a metal garbage can, scaring the fiesty crows away.

Back inside my apartment, I realized that both mourning dove babies were safe in the nest, but there was no sign of mom or dad. I waited and hoped. I thought that they would return within an hour. After that amount of time went by without any sign of them, I began to worry so I called the Wildlife in Need Center, where a volunteer told me to give the parents more time. She said once the babies start crying, if the parents don't return at that point, I should consider bringing them in.

Although I didn't want the babies to die, I was torn about what to do. I knew that this was all a part of nature and wondered if I should simply let nature take its course. Or should I intervene if need be and help the babies live. I don't think I would have even considered leaving them alone if the baby birds had been squirrels or raccoons. After thinking about it, I knew that I should simply let nature take its course.

I am happy to report, however, that the parents did return. The dad came first to feed the babies before leaving them alone. I was still worried that perhaps the mom was injured and would not be back to sit on them and keep them warm during the thunderstorm that was predicted for last night. But, just as I was leaving for work, I heard a loud cooing and there she was! I was ecstatic.

I love nature and I get a lot of enjoyment from watching animals of all kinds function, but I also get my share of heartbreak from it as well. Having lived for several years in a house with my parents that borders countryside, I have come face to face with nature. Seeing deer, chipmunks, fox, turtles, ducks, turkeys, etc. go about their lives in my backyard and by the pond across the street has enriched my life, but I have seen so many sad stories too. I have learned a lesson about how all of us, but especially nature, is always living on the edge. It's a good lesson to learn. It certainly makes me appreciate my life and that of animals even more. It also teaches me that sometimes no matter how hard a person tries to accomplish a certain goal, that we often don't have enough control over the circumstances to do that and must accept the situation for what it is.


"If you are not living on the edge, you take up too much room."
--Native American saying

"Be like the bird, pausing in his flight
On limb too slight,
Feels it give way, yet sings
Knowing he has wings."
--Victor Hugo

Monday, May 5, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Over the past several months, I have enjoyed reading books that are about food: food that I eat and food that people in other countries eat. Food and nutrition are vital things in our lives and yet we take them so much for granted. I want to be more aware of not only how the food is made that I eat, but where it comes from and what does to me.

Previously, I wrote about a book called the Hungry Planet that was a book of photo essays and written essays about what people around the world consume for nutrition. That book changed how I approached grocery shopping and also made me much more appreciative for the amount of food available to me.

Now, I am reading a book called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver and her husband and two daughters move from Arizona, where the food and water are shipped in, to a farm on the Appalachian Mountains so the family can raise most of its own food.

I just began this book, but I have already begun to learn so much about the state of the American diet and how modified all our foods are. It's amazing how the food we consider to be healthy like vegetables have been manipulated to resist diseases and to look good. In the process, the once-healthy foods have lost a lot of what was good for us.

The book also focuses on the amount of oil and work it takes to get foods to consumers. Living in Wisconsin, I appreciate having access to cucumbers and pears in the middle of the winter, but it's clear that it took a lot of resources to get that food to me. Is this what we should be doing?

As I read more, I will write more. I am just starting to sort out a lot of the ideas that Kingsolver introduces in her book.

I am already planning to grow some tomato and pepper plants on my apartment building roof this summer and to shop as much as possible at farmers' markets over the summer. I am so excited that the Waukesha farmer's market starts Saturday. I know that I won't be able to buy much yet, but I am hoping for some fresh flowers.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Living so close to the edge

Ever since I was a child, I have realized to some extent that life is short and we never know what tomorrow brings. It could be wondefully joyous or it could be tragic. I think growing up with health problems makes a person all that much more aware of how precious a good day is and helps you to never take your life for granted. It's really a blessing, I feel, to be able to think that way.

Being a journalist also drives that point home. Unfortunately,it is most often under very unfortunate circumstances that you come to that realization. My co-workers and I joke that I have the dead person beat because of the large number of obits, visitations and funerals I have had to write about. I have learned to take it in stride and to admire the human spirit through these stories. The visitations and funerals are never easy to cover and the hardest one has was to cover the death of a Mukwonago High School student who died in a car accident this past winter with two of his friends. Now, I have had to write an even more difficult story. On Friday, there was a horrible car accident in Oconomowoc that we first learned about as we heard over the scanner the emergency vehicles being called. Then they called for two Flight For Life helicopters that were eventually canceled because of the high winds and lightning. Children were in the car accident and one had gone into cardiac arrest.

We weren't able to get much informtation in the afternoon and only had photos of the demolished car. Later in the night I worked hard to pull the details together. The Oconomowoc Police Department was taking a while to get the press release together and we needed the information to run with the photos. A rumor started to spread that the person who died on the scene was an associate prinicipal at Oconomowoc High School. Needing to confirm that, I looked up the superintendent's home phone, called and left a message. I was so happy when she called me back. Her news though was not good. She confirmed that an associate high school principal, Jennifer Bukosky, was killed and her two daughters were in the car with her along with a third child. The two children that were taken to Children's Hospital were in critical condition. Adding to the tragedy was that Bukosky was pregnant. And then over the weekend, her daughter died at Children's.

The cause of the accident is unknown at this time other than that the driver of an SUV hit the small car belonging to Bonkosky from behind as it sat at a signal that had just turned green. The little car was destroyed beyond recognition. Speed is suspected, but the fact that the driver was taken into police custody leads one to believe that there might be more involved.

This story is so extremely tragic. I know that the Oconomowoc School District already started to come together as early as Friday night by meeting and notifying staff, administrators and the school board. Today, extra staff is on hand at the high school.

Fortunately for me, I will not have to cover this story further as it is in the Oconowoc Enterprise's area. If I had to follow up and write more stories about it, I know that it would be the hardest one that I would have had to do thus far.

It's interesting, though, how a tragedy like this makes you drive differently and think differently for a few days afterwards. I am that much more aware of my own driving and others and how close we are all living to the edge.

There is always some good that comes out of situations like this horrible tragedy. People will drive more carefully, friends will hug each other who have not done so for a long time and family will say I love you more often. The positive affects are short-lived and do not in the least equal what was lost, but through it all, the human spirit survives and demonstrates good.



Friday, April 25, 2008

Paying respects to a fallen hero

Opicka remembered by family, friends, veterans

LUXEMBURG - From the line of visitors that stretched outside Luxemburg-Casco High School, the many gifted flower arrangements and the tears that were shed and the smiles shared, it was evident Lance Cpl. Dean Opicka touched many lives as family and friends remmebered his life during Wednesday's visitation.

That is the beginning of the story that I wrote for Thursday's edition of the Freeman. On Wednesday, I drove to Luxemburg (north of Green Bay) to attend the visitation for Opicka. It was a very difficult story to do, but one that I was also honored to do.

Unsure of how the family would react to my presence during the visitation, I waited in the line that stretched outside of the high school. It took me about 45 to 50 minutes to get to the end of the line where the Opicka family was standing. Along the way, I was able to look at many memory boards and mementos on display. Dozens of flower arrangements had been given to the family, along with benches, memorial garden plaques and trees. Opicka's guitars and keyboard were on display next to a scrapbook that his fiancee had created of one of their trips.

As I approached the family, I wondered what to say. More often than not when I am doing an obit story, I forgo the hollow words like I am sorry for your loss or please accept my condolences. I know that whatever I say as a reporter will sound insincere.

On Wednesday, I said that I had written the story last week for the Freeman and that I had come to pay my respects. I then asked if I could interview people and take some photos. The family was as receptive as could be possible under the circumstances.

I was surprised at the emotional and physical toll attending the visitation took on me. The whole time, I felt very self conscious and very self aware. I had to keep building up my nerve to go to talk to people and take photos of them. It was hard not to let myself feel like an intruder in this very personal, emotional time.

The hardest part was talking to Opicka's future in-laws, Debby and Jim Bonkoski. Debby told me how their daughter had a wedding countdown calendar in her room and how the couple were planning the wedding even while Dean was stationed in Iraq. While I talked to them, the Bonkoskis fought back tears and I did as well.
"It's hard to think about what they could have had and what an awesome life they could have had together," she told me.
Jim agreed.
"It was like a match made in heaven - truly," he said.
Jim Bonkoski saw a lot of potential in Dean.
"(There was) so much going for him and he touched so many lives," he said. "He did more in his 29 years than a lot of people do in their entire lives. We were just thrilled to have him as a future son-in-law."

What amazed me was that even though I was asking them such difficult questions, the Bonkoskis thanked me for the stories we had published about Dean and thanked me for doing so much. I only wish that I could do more!

Throughout the process of writing the stories about Dean, and previously about Staff Sgt. Chrisopher Frost who died in Iraq about a month ago, I try to emotionally distance myself from the soldiers and their families. I think that if I didn't, I couldn't write the stories.

I really hope that I don't have to write any more stories about soldiers who have died fighting overseas. It's nor for selfish reasons because doing these stories keep getting easier, but because I truly do care about them and their families. Throughout it all, I worry about my friends who are serving in the Army and all the other young soldiers with so much potential who risk their lives everyday.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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Highs and Lows

Sometimes I wonder if every one's life is as filled with highs and lows as mine is. I know a lot of it is the nature of my job and my position. There are days when I am very busy and then there are days when the hours I work prevent me from accomplishing a lot at work. Some days I work on stories that are very rewarding on a personal level, while other days the stories are dry and just something to get done.

This week is also full of highs and lows so far. I am always excited to help out with my church's rummage sale. It's a twice yearly sale and I am in charge of the clothes in the boutique section. This week's rummage sale feels like extra work due to different circumstances and because of my busy schedule. But the sale definitely has its rewards. Besides helping raise money for missions, I usually find some very nice things, such as my crystal decanter and shot glasses, my aluminum cake keeper, my white vintage coat and my vintage cashmere sweater. Tomorrow, I will spend a lot of time there sorting, hanging and pricing the clothes.

It's hard for me to feel excited about the rummage sale or anything else knowing what I have to do today. I offered last week to go to the funeral for the latest soldier with ties to Waukesha County to be killed in Iraq. I did the story when we first learned that he had been killed. I wanted to cover the funeral for a couple selfish reasons: I could work days and I could get out of the office. Also, I felt a connection to this man and his family, whom I talked with, and I knew that it would be best if the story process continued with me.

Now, however, I am dreading covering his visitation today. It's up north near Green Bay, which I knew, but I am not looking forward to driving there and back by myself. Also, I still have to work nights. The biggest obstacle is taking pictures of the event today. People often don't mind talking, but it feels kind of intrusive to be there with my camera taking pictures. The one good thing is that the visitation, military walk-through and military service will be held in the high school's gymnasium, so that makes it more open and less personable than a funeral home. It will definitely be a challenge for me that I hope will have its rewards by helping me become a better reporter and photographer. It also feels good to know that my editors trust me with this much responsibility.

I already did one obit story about a longtime New Berlin principal this week, so I hope that after today, I will get a break from the dead beat again. It's ironic though, that the obit stories I write, I get the most positive feedback from. Often, the family will contact me and thank me for doing the story. I never knew that stories like that would touch so many people.

So, I just have to get through today and enjoy working at the rummage sale tomorrow during work day, which is when the pot luck lunch is! Yummy.


"If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further."
--Mohandas K. Gandhi

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A new place to call home

I am amazed at how quickly my new apartment felt like home. I really lucked out with finding a place that allows me to diplay my things and that complements my personality well. Everything from all the windows and the door leading to the roof, to the large bedroom with its open closet space that displays my clothes so well to the cute built-in and the large black radiator all suit me so well.

Moving day went smoothly. My dad and I loaded the truck in Oconomowoc and got to Waukesha about 10:15 a.m. I had three friends help to haul the furniture and boxes up the steep stairs to my apartment, which is located above an antique store in a building from 1929. It's a very cute building located pretty much right on the Carroll College campus, which is where I went to school.

It only took us about 30 minutes to get everything unloaded. I thought I had more stuff! I wish that I would have brought my big sofa instead of the loveseat. I do like the extra space to move around in.

Within three days, I had my boxes unpacked and had started to hang pictures. My friend, Kaitlin, and I hung all my clothes and organized small details.
I hope to do some hosting next month. I have had a few friends and family members over, but it would be fun to do something a little bigger. I certainly have enough space for people to hang out here.
I have found myself anxious to leave work at the end of the day and to return to my apartment. It has been a good adjustment so far.

Friday, April 4, 2008

On the move

Sorry for my absence on Kat in Name Only. I have been busy preparing for my big move to Waukesha tomorrow. There has been so much organizing, packing and shopping to do. I plan to post pictures next week,but I will not have internet until next week Thursday.

There is so much news: the new apartment, the church exploding in Waukesha, the interesting animals I've seen. I promise to write more again once I get settled.

Now it's off to bed so I can wake up ready to haul furniture and boxes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


As promised, here is the best picture that I took of the swans on Fowler Lake. I hope to continue getting photos of them over the summer and hopefully get some more "romantic" swan pictures. There is something so beautiful and majestic about swans. I drove past a gorgeous hawk today, but when I walked back to get a photo of it, it was gone already. I am so excited that spring is here and the birds who left have returned in full force.


"Ego: the fallacy whereby a goose thinks he's a swan."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Immature Bald Eagle

Something amazing happened last Friday. I went to the Fowler Park inlet in Oconomowoc to take pictures of the swans that returned. The swans hold special significance for me because I have many fond memories of watching the lone male swan each summer for several years. Then one year he found a mate and they lived on the inlet for a couple of years. Somehow, it seemed like I always was driving over the bridge as they flew away for the winter. Sadly, two years ago the male swan was found shot and died in the local cemetery that is on the inlet. Last year, there were no swans. So, when I heard that there was a pair of swans on Fowler Lake again, I had to go over there with my camera to check it out. I managed to get some nice shots, which I will share with you at a later date.

While standing in the melting snow, listening to the ducks quack, the geese honk and the red wing blackbird call, I phoned my editor, Bill to see if he would be interested in a stand alone photo for the paper of the swans. He said that he would take a look at them when I got to work later in the day. However, he said that if I would get a picture of an eagle, he would definitely use it. I kind of laughed at the idea of an eagle photo and told him that I would try my best.

Shortly later, a gull began to attack a bird of prey over my head. I quickly lifted my camera and began to shoot. I managed to get some decent frames as the birds clashed above me. They were quickly gone and I didn't think too much of the pictures as I was still focused on getting a good photo of the swans who were more interested in eating than looking pretty.

Cold and tired, I went back home to process the pictures on my computer. As I sorted through them, I noticed that the bird of prey was not a hawk at all. the beak was too chunky. The wings had different feathers. I began to think that perhaps it was an eagle. I sent it to Bill and began to do some research. I came up with the identification of an immature golden eagle. I was so excited as I drove to work.

When I got to my desk, my co-worker complimented me on my eagle picture. I was surprised. I didn't think anyone knew about it. As it turns out, the staff had already called the DNR and asked a biologist there to identify the bird. His verdict: an immature BALD EAGLE!

I was so excited, as was Bill. We ended up running the photo on the front page of Saturday's paper along with a photo that one of the paper's photographers, Kevin Harnack, took. He had taken a picture of a mature Bald Eagle in Otttawa about a month ago.

On Monday, I saw the eagle again as it soared above George Webb's in Oconomowoc. I am looking forward to many more times of seeing this majestic bird.

"A believer is a bird in a cage, a freethinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wing."
--Robert Green Ingersoll

Monday, March 10, 2008

A break from the modern world

Can you imagine a day with no internet? No TV? No Mp3 player? No cell phone? That's what
Mark Bittman is proposed in his New York Times column that I read last week. He wrote about his decision to take a break from technology for a 24-hour time period each week. Bittman made this decision after he spent money on an airplane to check his e-mail. After feeling like there was no place left where he could escape technology, Bittman decided to remove himself from it.

He wrote: "Thus began my “secular Sabbath” — a term I found floating around on blogs — a day a week where I would be free of screens, bells and beeps. An old-fashioned day not only of rest but of relief. "

The process wasn't easy for him to completely disconnect himself from his modern world. He didn't use the internet, his cell phone, his ipod or his TV. But Bittman eventually found rewards.

"I do believe that there has to be a way to regularly impose some thoughtfulness, or at least calm, into modern life — or at least my version. Once I moved beyond the fear of being unavailable and what it might cost me, I experienced what, if I wasn’t such a skeptic, I would call a lightness of being. I felt connected to myself rather than my computer. I had time to think, and distance from normal demands. I got to stop," he wrote.

I have felt too depend on modern technology as well. The first thing I do in the morning after rolling out of bed, is to turn my laptop on. I talk on my cell phone while I drive. At work, my eyes are always on the computer screen. I am not as addicted to technology as some people, but I am at a point where my time is manipulated by it. I have a much harder time picking up a book or getting out and going for a walk than I used to. I tend to putz around on facebook. Or, I talk to friends on messenger. It's great to talk to friends through messenger, but it is not as time efficient as a phone call. I have begun to feel as if my time is being eaten up by technology and I am no longer enjoying more artistic and pure forms of information, such as books.

Actually, I have become very bored with the internet recently. Facebook isn't as thrilling as it used to be. E-mail is rarely used by my friends anymore.

So, I am going to try what Bittman is proposing and disconnect from technology for a day. I'm not sure if it's going to be a Saturday or a Sunday. But, I plan to turn off my computer and stay away from my cell phone. I am not going to be as rigid as Bittman, however, as I know I would not be successful with such tough rules. I will allow myself to watch a movie at night. And I can listen to music. I just really want to focus more of my energy and time on photography and books. I think that this freeing myself from technology will help. Also, once spring gets here, I know I won't be as tempted to spend hours on my computer.

If you would like to read Bittman's whole column, here is the link:


"We live on the brink of disaster because we do not know how to let life alone. We do not respect the living and fruitful contradictions and paradoxes of which true life is full."
--Thomas Merton

"There is no such thing as chance; and that which seems to us blind accident actually stems from the deepest source of all."
--Frederich von Schiller

Monday, February 25, 2008

cute puppy whistle

Wow-what a cute puppy!

Half Size/Half Price

Lately when I go to most restaurants, I can't help but balk at the prices of the food. I am not talking about upscale restaurants, but your hamburger and sandwich places. Even the chains like Uno's, Applebee's and Waterstreet Brewery have made it so the cheapest thing on the menu is an $11 hamburger or an $8 appetizer.

The problem in my opinion is the portion of food they give you. I don't need a pound of thick French fries. Nor do I need 4 strips of bacon on my burger. The food is almost always very good, but I could do with a smaller portion and a smaller price. It's true that I do take my leftovers home and eat them as a meal the next day, so I guess it really is a good deal. However, I just find myself lately wanting to shell out less money. No wonder Americans are fat when you go to a pasta place and they serve you a thick slab of lasagna weighing it at about a pound.

Am I being ridiculous? Maybe. I think I was spoiled by Korean prices. You could get a huge bowl of bibimbap (rice, vegetables and a little meat) for $3.50. I felt stuffed after eating all that. And plus, you don't tip in Asia so the food was so cheap and delicious.

Sorry for my ranting, but the cost and size of food portions has been bugging me lately.

Do you agree with me?


"Families remember to love one another as cherished traditions unfold."
--Jan Miller Girando

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Media mania

The presidential candidates arrived in Waukesha County this past week to tout their plans for the economy, the war in Iraq, education, the environment and why they are the best candidate for president. Barack Obama spoke at the Waukesha Expo Center as did Bill Clinton on behalf of his wife, Hillary. Mike Huckabee was at the Country Springs Hotel and John McCain got as close as Milwaukee on Friday. Maybe they will come back around again before the very important primary on Tuesday in Wisconsin. With them, also comes a very large and comprehensive group of reporters and photographers.

I covered John McCain's speech at the Reagan Day Dinner at the American Serb Hall in Milwaukee on Friday for the Freeman. The audience was sold out, but what was even more impressive to me was the number of reporters and photographers there to cover the speech. Everyone from local channels and newspapers to CNN and ABC News. An announcement was made that McCain was late because he had an interview with George Stephanopoulus. Later Stephanopoulus walked into the room and joined the rest of the media. There were about 50 reporters, photographers and videographers covering McCain's speech. The sight was so impressive that some audience members took pictures of the press!

Something that amazed me was how I did not see a single female photographer. The women that were there (it seemd like 3 men for every woman) were all reporters. I think that I might have been the only one taking pictures for our paper.
I must admit that it was exciting to be among such a large group of my fellow reporters and photographers, some of whom travel the world over.
It is actually a rewarding sight to see so many people covering a news event because it means that people care and are paying attention to what is happening around them. I know that the Freeman will continue to cover the presidential candidates and their visits. We are happy that so many candidates have been coming to the area because it allows us to share with our loyal readers what the candidates are saying and doing on the campaign trail.

"A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."
--John F. Kennedy

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Doldrums of Winter

I must admit that I have been largely uninspired to write on my blog lately. I just have had a block when it comes to topics to write about and to share with people. I think that this must be largely do to winter and the snow and cold which have kept me hiding inside on so many days. Today is one of those days as the air temperature hovers around zero and the wind chill is far below. It is nice that the sun shines brightly, as it always does on cold days. I have spent the day cleaning and organizing my clothes closet and my dresser and desk drawers. Yet, I am left with nothing new, nothing inspired to write about. Maybe I am thinking too hard and not letting the ideas freely come to me. Maybe cleaning is not my muse.

Sometimes I think of making my blog postings more focused, such as the blog of my close friend, Paul Margach. It's all about the jazz CDs he has in his music collection. I encourage you to check it out for some awesome, informative writing. It's called "A Wells or a Gibbon?" and can be found by this link:

Despite the monotony and boredom winter often brings with it, I rather enjoy the snow and cold weather because it gives me the excuse to stay in and read, write, watch movies, cuddle with a blanket, wear fleece and drink hot cocoa. Summer will come soon enough where I am running around and hardly taking the time to enjoy the peace of my bedroom.

I have always realized how precious my time on Earth is. My mother's good friend is dying of stomach cancer. Although I have not been to see this friend recently, it is a good reminder that we are all only allowed a short amount of time to live. I don't want to rush through life, even these desperately cold days because who knows if I will live to see another Wisconsin winter where the cardinal comes to feed at the feeder at 5 p.m. and where I can sit by a window and marvel at the beauty of large snowflakes falling gently to the ground. Yes, winter is filled with its hassles and dangers, but it is filled with so much beauty. I find winter's beauty more understated than spring's, summer's or fall's. If there is one thing I like is subtleness.


"Friends are lights in winter; the older the friend, the brighter the light."
--Roger Rosenblatt

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow Emergency

While most people get to hide inside when there is a snow emergency issued by the mayor of the city, reporters, editors and all those involved in producing a newspaper are not so lucky. In fact, we are expected to trudge through the snow trying to talk to people braving the elements and who are willing to speak about how they feel.

I was that reporter today. A lucky break for me, however, was that I worked from the Oconomowoc Enterprise today instead of the Waukesha Freeman. That saved me from driving 28 miles or so in the hazardous road conditions that closed Brookfield Square Mall, the Milwaukee Courthouse and almost all schools.

I had several tasks to do today. 1) Write a story about the effect of the snow on Ash Wednesday services. 2) Help to proof the Enterprise pages before they went to press and 3) Trudge through the snow to talk to people braving the elements and to get some photos of people doing just that.

It was a lot of fun walking through the snow. I found it rather exciting to be out there reporting on the extreme weather. I must admit it was rough going at times as the wind whipped icy snow into my face preventing me from lifting my head. Worst yet, was having the snow that coated my pants melt and make me feel all soggy as I sat in the office with my damp notepad and frozen pen (I lost my pencil as I made a mad dash to get a photo of a train as the snow swirled around it).

Overall it was a very pleasant day. I even was able to work just 9 am to 4 pm, so here I am writing on my blog to share my interesting day with you.


"If you are not living on the edge, you take up too much room."

-Native American saying

Friday, February 1, 2008

SeoulGlow # 9 - Welcome, YouTube Korea!

I really miss interacting with more Korean people on a daily basis. Watching this video reminded me of what I miss so much about Korea-the people!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Hungry Planet

I want to share with you a book that made a very strong impact on me recently. That book is the "Hungry Planet" by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio.

The Hungry Planet would probably be classified as a coffee table book because of its large format and heavy use of photographs, but this book is too significant for that category. It is a study of how people live, eat and interact through food. Menzel and D'Aluisio traveled the world over taking photographs of a typical family with an average week's worth of their groceries. The phots are also of the family eating, shopping and cooking food.The couple traveled to all the continents except Antarctica. Accompanying the pictures are first-hand accounts of what it was like for the couple to live, eat and be with these families.

For each family, there is a list of its weekly groceries and what they cost, as well as family recipes and stats on the country.

Food, I learned is a huge part of many families' daily habits. It also acts as an important way to compare what different countries have for resources and how wealthy people in each country are. It's truly amazing what some people can subsist on in a refuge camp in Chad or in tiny Ecuador.

I am appreciative for what this book has done in my own life. Now, when I go to the grocery store, I am so thankful for the low prices we pay compared to most of the world. I am also so thankful for the variety of fresh ingredients and the amount of meat we can eat and afford. What I am also now strongly aware of is how little fresh produce and unprocessed food I eat. As I watch my groceries glide down the conveyor belt, I am dismayed and bit embarrassed that I don't eat more fresh vegetables and fruit.

I think it's important to be aware of what we eat and thankful for what we can eat. Hungry Planet really struck home about how important my diet and lifestyle is to me and how thankful I am for it.

Quote about Hungry Planet
"While the photos are extraordinary-fine enough for a stand alone volume-it's the questions these photos ask that make this so gripping. This is a beautiful, quietly provocative volume."
--Publisher's Weekly

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A celebration: 35 years together

This weekend my parents, Don and Jeanette, will mark 35 years of having been married. Last weekend, 30 friends and family members gathered together to celebrate my parents' love, respect and support for each other. My mom and I planned a renewal of wedding vows ceremony with the help of our minister. We also planned a reception to follow at Spinnaker's restaurant.

During the ceremony, I spoke about what my parents' marriage means to me. Here are my notes:

When I look at my parents, I see a love that is not measurable. I see a love so strong it could stand up to the test of time. I have seen their love endure draught and flood….cold and heat.
Yes, even on days colder than today.

Or in the case of the day they met on chilly day June, 11 1972

Picture this….my mother sitting on the front stairs of her house in Cudahy contemplating about whether to go to Joan Michalets’ high school graduation. Not knowing Joan well, my mother was hesitant about going. What to do? So, she consulted her horoscope books.
The prediction…that she would find love.
My mom wondered who she could possibly meet? Joan’s cousin, perhaps?

Well, my mom did meet Joan’s cousin…my dad who approached her at the party wearing tight purple jeans and a purple sweater?
At this point in the story, I must interject. I give my mom a lot of credit for giving my dad the time of day in his purple sweater and jeans, even if it was a cold day.

My dad helped my mom with the buffet line. He was the perfect gentleman and complimented her on green eye shadow. He further surprised her with his musical interests, which ranged from hard rock to the gentle Andy Williams.

Later, my mom recounted that she questioned if this man was for real. Maybe it was dad’s Mustang Mach One that he took her home in, his gentleman-like ways or the horoscope books. But the two quickly became a couple, going for bike rides to Dairy Queen, visiting Devil’s Lake and going to concerts.

The past 35 years have had rough points. Where many couples may have fractured and called it quits, my parents have supported each other through the high points and the low points. And the high points are too many to list.
Just a short list of some of their shared activities:
*Honeymoon in Montreal and Quebec City
* Trip to California with the whole Michalets clan across the desert to see Ellen (wish that I could have gone too)
* Many trips to the Canadian Grand Priz, to Great-Grandma’s house, to Cape Cod, Stratford, Ontario for the Shakespeare Fest
*Members of the Porsche Club and bowling teams (a must in the early 1980s)
*proud parents of many dogs: Bobby, Fozzy, Bosco, Biscuits and Jazzy and even more parakeets
* owned a bed and breakfast for 5 years in Vermont
* Vacations spent with Grandma and Grandpa at Devil’s Lake
* the restoration of several old homes (an activity that can break or make a couple)
* Active members of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
* creating so many wonderful Christmas memories
* two books and numerous magazine stories
* Making the most of each day given to them as a couple and a family

The love they share and their commitment to each other has greatly shaped who I have become and how I treat others. I only pray that one day I may have what they have. I thank God every day for blessing me with two loving, supportive parents who will be there for me no matter. I also thank him for bringing my parents together. May today be the start of another wonderful, blessed 35 years of marriage. Congratulations!

Mom, me and Dad

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. "
-- 1 Corinthians 13 4-8

Monday, January 14, 2008

Perspective on Chicago

I went to Chicago this past weekend for a three day getaway. Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Despite the cold, I was able to see some of my favorite spots: Chinatown, Millenium Park and the skyline. The Jelly Bean pictured above has really grown on me over the years. At first, I found it very unimpressive. When I saw it early Saturday morning, there were few people around it and I felt like I truly was able to enjoy it's reflection of the city skyline.
My favorite Chicago place used to be the Art Institute (which I visited on Saturday) but now my favorite spot is Chinatown. I always enjoy myself when I am there. The restaurants are really good and fairly inexpensive, it feels pretty noncommercial and there are always fun things to buy. I was impressed by how many small figurines and knick-knacks one store owner was able to display in her window.
I wish that my time in Chicago would have gone slower and lasted longer. Alas, it is Monday and I am facing a double whammy-Monday blues and day after vacation. Needless to say, I am not in a super upbeat mood today.
"What one loves in childhood stays in the heart forever."
--Mary Jo Putney

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Snowy World

These photos were all taken last weekend after we had one of the most beautiful snow falls that I have ever seen. The snow was havy and wet, so it clung to the trees for days. I loved being able to walk across the street to take these pictures. The little trout stream is so scenic during all the seasons, but it is especially lovely with the snow clinging to the branches that stretch over it.
"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats."
--Alice Murdoch
"It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones."
--Jean Webster

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year, New Possilbilites, New Blog Posting

It's a new year with a promise to blog more often. I apologize for my absence from my blog in recent weeks. I blame the holidays and the rush involved there, but that is not a good enough excuse. So, I start fresh today on January 1 with a new entry and a new outlook on life.

2007 was a year of change, challenges and adjustments for me. I started my career as a journalist at the Oconomowoc Enterprise and soon moved up to the Waukesha Freeman. The pace of my work life changed drastically as I began to work second shift and had tighter deadlines, more pressure and so much to learn. I must admit, the final months of 2007 brought with them a lot of stress. It was a lot harder for me to adjust to second shift than I would have thought and a lot harder to balance work and relaxation. I feel that I am starting to finally get a handle on how to make the most of my time before work. I am better able to relax and get things done. That's a huge relief for me.

There were other areas of my life that were not where I wanted them to be in 2007, but I feel optimistic about the future. I don't think I have ever been so happy for a new year to begin. It began with Christmas and a feeling of renewal and rebirth for me as I celebrated that holiday, which is very special to me . During the Christmas season, I spend quality time with family and friends and get to show them how much I care, while also celebrating and recognizing the birth of Jesus. It's a very important week of my life and I was able to enjoy it and find meaning in the holiday season even as I was stressed at work and trying to get gifts bought and wrapped.

I look forward to 2008 with hope. I feel like I am walking from a beautiful, yet dark wooded forest into a meadow where the sun is shining and I can hear the birds singing. This may seem overly dramatic, but it's pretty accurate. I feel confident that no matter what comes my way I will have the strength and courage to handle it. I also feel strongly that I will be able find balance in my life and will be happier again.

2008 may have been one of the years I gained the most on a personal level and was able to learn more about myself and my capabilities.

I hope that 2008 holds promise of wonderful possibilities for all those who read this blog and for those who don't. May 2008 bring you much happiness, success, good health and positive energy.


"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

--Albert Camus