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Takin' the Blog for a Walk

Join Waukesha resident Brien Lee and his blog, Sir Fido, as they explore the city and report on the interesting things they find.

Email Brien at howlinblog@yahoo.com.

Week in Review

helping, politics

hug an alderman

Had a chance to see the last portion of the 9-1/2 hour rebroadcast of the 11/20 marathon Common Council meeting on cable Ch. 25. (Ald. Bull had already left so I knew it was after 3:00 a.m.)  After all the criticism and controversy of unpreparedness, vote changes, job cuts, projects on hold ... any alderman, mayor, city employee or even camera crew that sat through the record meeting until 4:30 Wednesday morning for the good of Waukesha has my utmost respect. It was almost painful to watch as many were obviously tired, hoarse and quiet-voiced as they were forced by us, the constituency, and the state by it's late budget, to stay there as long as it took.

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I'm sad

1) sound of music, 6) when I'm feeling sad, Carroll, UWW

I'm sad because I missed Christmas at Carroll this year. It was last weekend. I'd been looking forward to it all year ever since last December's concert. It was the best concert I'd ever been to and I wanted to do it again. I know I can't do everything and there's always next year, but darn!!

There's plenty of other good things going on today and this weekend to help me forget my sadness: The Waukesha Civic Theater begins it's two weekend run of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever tonight. I heard that "Mary" sings so beautifully that it brings tears to the eyes.   A free holiday concert at UWW at 7:30, which I probably will be going to, is tonight. Also tonight is the Carroll College Jazz Ensemble. And on Sunday after the Packer game is the Carroll College Chamber Strings Ensemble, a free concert at 4:00 p.m..

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snow job

helping

It was much easier to criticize the job others did in cleaning up after last week's heavy ice and snow storm than it was to clean it up. I usually keep my mouth shut and if you could see my walk and driveway you'd know why. Most everyone with snowblowers out last weekend were struggling with clogs. Many shovellers, including me, were seen bent by the weight of the normally fluffy snow.

My walk to work in Milwaukee accross the 6th St. Viaduct was slowed by the skating rink it became after someone plowed the snow off but left the ice. Without salting. It didn't help a couple days later when more snow fell hiding the ice underneath. I decided to take my chance in the street with the traffic. (It was plowed again but still not salted.) It doesn't help that 14 street lights are out in it's one mile length but at least there's a handrail.

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a tough nut to crack

I love peanuts. I can't wait until there's a dark chocolate Mega Peanut M&M...frozen. My favorite peanut butter is Skippy's Roasted Honey Nut Super Crunch. Something new caught my eye the other day because it was on sale. A natural peanut butter without the need to stir made by a name brand company. I bought two jars of Extra Crunchy Skippy Natural Super Chunk because it sounded like near perfect peanut butter.

Skippy Natural indeed does not separate, but it is a little firmer than regular so stirring does help a little bit. My first PB & J with the new product went well enough, at least for the first bite - the flavor is indistinguishable from their other products I've grown to love. By the second bite, still hungry and eating too fast, I was stopped by something that was more pea gravel than peanut. How that little stone got in there I'll never know. Why would the peanuts themselves be processed any differently? I don't recall ever finding a stone in Skippy in all the decades I've been enjoying it.

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I can't be everywhere

I really love observing the decorations and displays this time of year. There's some very interesting surprises. There are so many hidden treasures. Neighborhoods contain some of the best out there, I know, but I can't possibly see them all. 

I'd love to post photos of displays you think are nice. Your own or your neighbor's. One string of lights or a yardfull. Religious or . . .

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Do you hear what I hear?

1) sound of music, 8) my favorite things, St. William

My parish, St. Williams, 440 N. Moreland, will be the place to be this Saturday, and I won't be there.

In the morning will be the largest toy distribution I've ever seen. For the fourth or fifth year St. William is hosting the Waukesha County Christmas Clearing Council. The gym starts filling Thursday, and by Saturday there are thousands of toys waiting for needy families to come and shop. By 5:00 p.m. Saturday it will all be cleaned up and gone. It's a good thing that's incredible to see and help with.

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Peace, Justice and a gift for the hard to buy for.

8) my favorite things, full of hot air, helping

One of my favorite stores is one that everyone in Waukesha should be aware of. Plowshare Gifts, at the corner of Grand Ave. and Main in Downtown Waukesha, is a fair trade gift shop. Everything in the store is made by craftsmen in developing countries. People normally paid pennies for their labor are guaranteed a living wage and access to health care and education through the fair trade program.

The store, with a wide range of gifts, clothes, jewelry, coffee, musical instruments, etc. is the only one like it in Waukesha County. It's a neat educational experience to see and feel the crafts made around the world. It's truly amazing what some people can do with soapstone, or recycled plastic, steel and aluminum, or clay, brass, native woods... This week I bought two small, hinged, inlayed wooden boxes from India. Just to UPS a box across town would be a minimum of $4.00. I only paid three dollars for each box (there's two more left). For the price of one beer at Miller Park, I left with two beautiful, handcrafted items made by someone in India who I know was paid a living wage. I don't know how it's possible, it just is

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Say danke with a palanca

8) my favorite things, let us pray

First of all, I'd like to say thank you for reading my blog and for the feedback. I really appreciate having this excuse to get out and be more involved in the community I love. This is good writing practice, you give me that opportunity, and I thank you.

You've just been palanca'd!

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Get there early!!

let us pray, St. William

I suspect churches are at their most crowded this time of year, Christmas only a couple days off. If you plan on going to the 10:45 mass at St. William, 440 N. Moreland Blvd., this Sunday morning the 23rd, make sure to leave plenty early if you want to find a seat. Milwaukee Archdiocese's newest auxiliary bishop, Bishop-elect William P. Callahan, was ordained yesterday and will celebrate his first mass as bishop at St. William. As the new bishop's name is William and ours is the only parish in the Archdiocese named St. William, Father Leonard invited him and he accepted.

I'm not kidding. If you want to find parking or a seat don't leave home a couple minutes before mass like I usually do. And that goes for Christmas also.

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Let me be Frank

6) when I'm feeling sad

I've often felt that one of the best ways to get to know someone comes when it's too late. In the past I've mentioned savoring every word when it's a writer's final column, or a TV or radio personality's last show. Just when I think I know someone well enough, they surprise me by retiring or moving on, and it's only then that we discover fully the interesting person they really are. 

No where is this more true than in the passing of Marty Frank last week. Up until he died Tuesday, the most I knew of him was that he was the first president of Waukesha State Bank to not be a member of the Taylor family. Through a three column, 52" long death notice - with a full 8" devoted to service organizations he belonged to or presided over - and a front page Freeman story Saturday, I learned that this was the gentleman I should aspire to be; a kind, dedicated, devoted friend and family man. 

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frosted flakes

Retzer

Say what you will about all the shoveling, slippery roads and walks, but you have to admit yesterday's snow was beautiful. There was no controversy over closing schools. The main roads weren't too bad, the snow not too heavy. It wasn't too cold and wasn't blowing. It was perfect snowman weather and quite a few have been added to the neighborhood population.

With little wind, large flakes and temps in the low 30s, the snow attached itself to virtually every available surface, no matter how small. snowfence

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Olio

This entry is a mixture of this and that. Kind of like the weather. 

Mother Nature reads my blog?

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lost blog

helping, Retzer

Dug the cross country skis out to get a better look at the hoarfrost, or whatever it is, that covered every needle and twig today. Had such a good time at Retzer yesterday that I decided to do it again. I covered the same territory and trails as yesterday but had even more fun on skis.

As much fun as it was silently gliding through new snow, the best reward came when I was able to help someone who was lost. It was about 20 minutes till sundown and I was close to the woods after completing the outer hiking loop when I met him. A small boy of maybe 8 or 9 was heading south, alone, away from the woods. I looked around, knew he wasn't walking toward anyone because I just came from that direction. I didn't know if he couldn't talk because he was bundled up so tightly, or because he knew he wasn't supposed to talk to strangers. At any rate, he kept walking and wouldn't answer my questions, though I did hear him whimpering just a little. However, he was smart enough to change direction when I told him to not keep walking in that direction.

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