Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gallery Walk, Waterfest, and Much More

This Saturday is the downtown Gallery Walk. No matter where you are headed earlier or later, take in some galleries during the monthly Art Walk 6-9pm. Park in the North Main St. area and look for open businesses. Don't miss it! It's held the first Saturday of every month.

Waterfest, linked to the right, opens this Thursday with The Rockerfellers, followed by the Clumsy Lovers. The main act is the Gin Blossoms.

PMI is also bringing entertainment to the Leach this week on Saturday (click on the link on the right). The party begins in the late afternoon and three bands are featured: The Spin Band, Fahrenheit 420, and Boxkar.

If you didn't get a fishing license this year this weekend is your chance to fish for free. Saturday and Sunday June 3rd and 4th you may fish anywhere in the state without a license. For more please go here.

This Sunday June 4th is Open House at all State Parks and most fee areas. Admission will be free Sunday only. Go to the Isthmus Daily Page where they have done a nice job in putting the weekend activities together.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Went camping. Interesting how a cold May can turn into a steamy summer overnight. Had good weather except for Saturday night when I woke every two hours to thunder, lightning, wind and rain pounding on the tent. I don't know if there wasn't a time it was raining. The tent held remarkably well and stayed dry. Got reacquainted with old friends and introduced to new. Kicked back, listened to the birds and frogs and all and star gazed as only can be done in a dark unpopulated area. City light pollution makes a person forget how beautiful a clear moonless night can be.

A squirt gun fight escalated into super-soakers and then even bigger ones about four or five feet long. It was fun to watch, became downright entertaining when an unhitched trailer was pulled down to the lake containing a gasoline powered Briggs & Stratton water pump capable of delivering 160 gallons per minute. Fire hoses were attached, the intake into the lake and the other to a hose which two people were warned to hold very tightly. The rope was pulled and the country quiet was shattered by that engine. The team of two managed to hold on and force two adults to dive under for cover and all others to scatter. The winner of the super soaker competition thus declared they pointed the nozzle straight up giving everyone a shower on a cloudless day. When Mr. Briggs & Stratton was shut off an almost eerie calm returned and I heard a woman to my left exclaim to her husband: "Only a man could dream up something like that!" to which her husband deadpanned: "That makes me soooooooo glad".

I met an asthmatic beagle named Bashful. Bashful has to be one of the mellowest sweetest dogs I have ever met in my life. When he breathed it sounded like a tape someone once made of my snoring. When he breathed hard...I'm at a loss to describe those sounds. When he went through the brush and reeds you couldn't see him, but could see the plants move and hear something that might sound like feral pigs. Bashful was always around, a bit slow and haltingly, but always nearby. Bashful's master told me he is dying of cancer. Such a sweet demeanor for such an ailing animal. The master also mentioned that he hoped Bashful would die in the summer when the ground isn't frozen. Bashful isn't very old. Such a shame. I hope to see him again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Memorial Day

My parents called it Decoration Day. It was designed to honor soldiers who died. Later it became a day to honor all of the dead. Find a cemetery to visit this weekend or next. So much can be learned from inscriptions on the markers, especially from the oldest ones.

If it rains this weekend go to the cemeteries. It's more fun when it is gloomy. If the sun shines postpone it, watch a parade, or play hooky. The latter one is where I am leaning.

Have a great weekend, hope for good weather for Waterfest, and I'm goin' fishin'! See ya next week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

People of Faith Against the Amendment to Ban Civil Unions and Marriage

People of Faith Against the Ban

This Sunday, May 21st, 5:30pm-7pm

At First Congregational Church, 137 Algoma Blvd, Oshkosh
Please attend this interfaith event! The discussion will include reasons why people of faith should vote against the amendment to ban civil unions/marriage and how we can work together to defeat it.
All are welcome at this meeting.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Happy Syttende Mai

Wednesday May 17 is Norway's Constitution Day, similar to our July 4. Norwegian Americans will be celebrating the Syttende Mai (SET'-na-my') in many places including the Minneapolis St. Paul area where four locations are used just to handle the crowds. The largest one in our state runs this weekend in Stoughton just south of Madison. They are expecting over 40,000 visitors for not one but two parades, Norwegian dancers, rosemaling, and the Crazy Legs Run which begins at the State Capitol and finishes in Stoughton.

Roughly 10% of Wisconsinites can point to Norway as a genealogy point of orgin. There are pockets of Norwegians all over the state: Iola-Scandinavia, Stoughton, Mount Horeb, Coon Valley (near Viroqua), Spring Valley, River Falls, Baldwin, and of course nearby Winchester,WI.

Mount Horeb has long nosed Norwegian Trolls nosing in on your business everywhere you look and "Little Norway", a great place to visit. Some immigrants settled in southern Wisconsin but many more were spooked by the Orms(snakes) and preferred to be farther north. The area from Eau Claire to the Twin Cities is heavily infested with Norwegians. Garrison Keillor lived in that area of Wisconsin for many years and his story ideas reflect it. If I visited one of my relatives up that way and was given a piece of rhubarb pie I might be offered the rest of it to take home, and if I didn't I'd have one Norwegian baker hopping mad at me. Uffda!

I find the Winchester, Wisconsin group the most interesting. This is all because of a book written about one family that came from Norway and settled there. It is a very personal genealogy which on the surface would sound boring, but the exact opposite is the case. It is titled: 'Wisconsin My Home'. It is much much more than a genealogy, it's an everyman's tale of Europeans who came to the midwest...their successes, failures, and all of the detail in between. What first caught my attention was a death on board the Steamer headed for America. The ship's captain ordered the body thrown into the Atlantic for health reasons. At the moment it was done a whale which had been following the ship bolted out of the water and grabbed the body in its jaws and disappeared. The family boarded smaller vessels to transverse the Great Lakes and eventually a small boat in Green Bay to go up the Fox River. They made it to Winneconne or Omro, I can't remember which, and while waiting all day for friends in Winchester to come and lead the way to their new home they had a terrifying experience. A rich childless couple of English origin tried to buy their youngest son!!! To leave the secure trappings of home and the Norwegian language and arrive in this distant foreign place and in the first few hours have a total stranger try to buy your own flesh and blood??! They must have thought they had arrived at the pit of Hell. Their first experience in America! 'Wisconsin My Home' is a must read, one which grips and at times is impossible to put down. Published about 1950, it has been reissued in paperback. Oshkosh Public Library has three or four original hardcover copies with beautiful plates(pictures).

More about the Syttende Mai can be learned at the Sons of Norway, also the Decorah, Iowa celebration. Decorah houses the official Norwegian-American Museum and Genealogy Center.

A bit of history...
The people from the Land of the Midnight Sun had a pagan celebration of note. On the summer equinox, June 20-21 the longest day of the year, the northernmost Norwegians would party all night. Night would never actually occur, it would just get dim for an hour with the sun still visible on the horizon. They would drink and dance naked around bonfires and I will let your imagination complete the party. A very toned down version of this will happen at Little Norway in June. Weeks after a person could get cleansed of sin by celebrating St. Olaf's Day. Yes! There is a St. Olaf, and why is it that the church of Rome always put religious holidays close to pagan rituals on the calendar?

I will celebrate by eating lefse, a soft unleavened flat potato bread which is great for any meal. Pick&Save has it. Festival does too. It's in the refrigerated section with the Mexican wraps. Great finger food, you can wrap your omelette in it to eat on the way to work, put your cold cuts and cheese in it for lunch, and a tortilla later in the day. For lefse go here and here. Hint: Nuke a store boughten piece for 7-10 seconds to give it that just off the grill heat.

UFFDA! Dat lefse is goooood stuff. YOU BETCHA!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

ADVOCAP 40th Anniversary

Advocap celebrates its 40th year in the month of May. Lyndon Johnson was President, the Beatles were everywhere, and the Viet Nam war was a daily topic. The years following the death of President John F. Kennedy (1963) proved to be a time of sweeping social change and Advocap was element of that. Check their site, see if you or an aquaintance are a fit for one of their many programs.

They run a nutrition program for seniors and the disabled. Oshkosh has several meal sites and also home delivers about a hundred meals a day. The food is prepared at Park View Health Center north of town and delivered hot to the various locations. Advocap's home delivery is sometimes confused with Meals-on-Wheels. They are entirely different programs! The programs have a lot in common but are administered in a different fashion. Meals-on Wheels uses volunteer drivers. Advocap furnishes cars, gas, pays it's drivers, and equips them with a cell phone for emergencies.

I chuckled when told that a program existed to feed the pets of home-bound folks. Yes! It's called Animeals. It began in San Diego in 1984 and the Humane Society works with the meal delivery programs to feed cats and dogs. This isn't being done anywhere in our vicinity but I thought I'd throw it in.

Advocap also has an extensive weatherization program to help low income and elderly lower their heating bills. You may know someone who has utilized this or needs a furnace or insulation.

There is much more at Advocap's extensive site. May Advocap go for another 40 years. In a time of dwindling budgets for social programs and outlandish amounts of tax money spent on war, it is important to note that taxes paid in should come back to those taxpayers rather than provide rusting eyesores in some foreign desert. Advocap is a great example of what can be done for folks who have paid taxes their entire adult life.

As Advocap says: "Forty Years of Providing Solutions to Poverty."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Weekend Events

Ceramics Exhibition and Sale

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, 1165 Rockwell Ave. Friday May 5, 9-6pm.

Oshkosh Family Reunion

Saturday May 6, all afternoon and evening. This is the start of the season for the Leach. For more info go here.

Gallery Walk

The first Saturday of every month, leave the Leach for an hour or three and visit the galleries downtown, all a short walk from the Leach.

Have a great weekend everyone!