You are beautiful, Wisconsin

A weekend in High School Wonderland

Don’t blame Ditka. Don’t blame Munn. (A post by Vinnie)

A repurposed vase full of maternal guilt

The granny was great-great. The game? Not so much

Want to know what Veteran’s Day is all about? Watch a soldier salute

Speed the plows, savor the season

Virginia Lee Burton would have loved Appleton’s annual elementary school winter art project.

Author of the cheerfully feminist Katy and the Big Snow and several other award winning children’s books, Burton celebrated art in all forms and founded Folly Cove, a group of internationally recognized artisans.

By asking elementary school children to decorate snow shovels, the City of Appleton also celebrates art and turns the grim countdown to winter into a whimsical lesson in optimism.

Have you ever lain in bed on a cold winter morning, heard the ominous scrape of metal snow plow on frozen cement, groaned and thought about burrowing back under the covers for the day?

I have.

This year, though, those snowplows can call us all back to our childhoods, when snow days meant sled rides, snow ball fights, snow forts, snowmen, and angels.

I remember a snow day several years ago, when we heard a knock on our family room window, pulled the curtain back, and saw our neighbor Gabe waving delightedly from his cross country skis.

In sleek silhouettes, Johnston Elementary captures winter’s athleticism and all of its doubly cool outdoor activities.

Houdini Elementary filled its shovel with the man with the most recognizable mane and wing span in Wisconsin, Clay Matthews. McKinley Elementary added a Badger element to its Packer tribute for its “We Love Wisco” themed shovel.

I’m feeling much more cheerful about the upcoming cold, dark days and the piles of snow it will bring. Like Katy and the Big Snow (a favorite children’s book of mine that no one seems to remember, what’s up with that?), the cheerful children-decorated shovels will show Appleton how to plow its way to a good mood this winter.

Just in time, too. The first snowflakes of the season should be falling by Friday.

Bring it on!

P.S. I liked all the plows, but you can vote for your favorite by commenting on this City of Appleton Facebook page.

Badger Bulldogs Clay Matthews Fun filled winter Highlands School McKinley Wisco in the winter minions Peace joy and love

Phyllo the Satisfaction — A post by Molly

What is real? Honoring the profound, abiding beauty of the soul

You can’t fight city hall

They say you can’t fight city hall, but, here’s the thing: when the government works the way it’s supposed to, you don’t have to.

Come to the Appleton City Council public hearing at 6 p.m. tonight and see what I mean.

You’ll see voters taking the mic and, with eloquence and passion, telling their representatives exactly how they feel. You’ll see city council members listening, considering, and, with equal passion, representing their districts.

You won’t always agree with what the people have to say, but you will be proud of their opportunity to say it.

Consider this an open thank you note to Appleton, Wisconsin.

Thank you to Mayor Tim Hanna, who held an ill-advised press conference to announce that a splash pad would replace the Erb Park pool, and then listened to the immediate, furious feedback and quickly commissioned designs for other options.

Thank you to Director Dean Gazza, who oversees a comprehensive and enviable Park and Recreation program, and spent most of every committee and council meeting I’ve attended answering questions with patience and authority.

Thank you to the Appleton City Council, especially our alderperson Chris Croatt, who fielded hundreds of phone calls, emails, and hastily prepared petitions .

Thank you to the administrators of the Save the Erb Park Pool Facebook page, which currently has 1,251 followers, for giving voters a forum for intelligent discourse.

Thank you to every single speaker, T-shirt wearer, sign maker, graphic designer, social media poster, and meeting attendee. How thrilling to see such support and solidarity!

Thank you especially to my neighbors and friends, who have shown by their kind enthusiasm, that old fashioned values like mutual respect, honest admiration, and perseverance still exist in this old world, particularly in our little corner of it.

I can’t say for sure how this campaign will end, but I do know that, by their noble participation, everyone involved in this process has honored both the history and legacy of this great city.


Supporters of the Erb Park Pool packed the seating area during the Park and Rec Committee meeting at which more than 25 people spoke in support of the pool.


The blue “Save Swimming” T-shirts many wore were a collaborative effort. They developed the slogan with the intent to preserve the 50-meter lap swimming pool. It can be purchased at Blue Moon Emporium. We all have them in this house. 


The four designs currently available give everyone an idea of what can be done with the space. My understanding is that these options can be tweaked so everyone’s input is still valuable. Check them out yourself on the by clicking here.

Budget Meeting Attendees

A large crowd of supporters also showed up for the City Council budget meeting.

Budget Meeting

At the budget meeting, the five members of the finance committee approved a $6.25 million increase, which would bring the total available funds for the pool renovation project to $9.1 million. The budget will be presented to the full council at the meeting tonight, with the budget approval vote taking place Nov. 14.

Director Gazza

Director Gazza fielded questions calmly and vowed to maintain a focus on the motto, “Family fun in the sun” with facilities that are easily accessible to all.

Gazza, Jirschle, Hanna

Council member Jeff Jirschele, seen here between Director Gazza and Mayor Hanna, spoke eloquently about his district’s fight to get a park on the south side of Appleton. While I disagree with some of Mr. Jirschele’s reasoning, I respect his commitment to his cause.

Mayor Hanna

Mayor Hanna and the council spent all day Saturday reviewing the city budget, with plenty of focus on the Erb Park pool.


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