Monthly Archives: July 2015

Thanks for summer miracles

525,600 reasons to see this adaptation of Rent

Downtown, where all the lights are bright…

We love to walk south through our neighborhood, past stately old houses and front porch swings, over cheerful chalk drawings and railroad tracks.

An easy mile brings us downtown, where all the lights are bright, even in the day.

Saturday, we sipped Door County cherry lemonade and strolled through the Appleton Farmer’s Market. The bounty of sweet summer babies, fat vegetables and breathtaking bouquets hits its peak right about now. The place will be hopping through September and the good stuff is just starting to roll out of the fields. Peak farmer’s market season lasts a good long time.

We scooped up basil, sweet corn, leaf lettuce, garlic and cauliflower; munched on Lolitas tacos and Mr. Reynebeau’s Chocolate Chip cookies; and listened to several really talented street musicians.

Sunday, we took the same walk to nearly the same spot for the 55th annual Art in the Park, featuring 175 selected artists from 11 states.

We thought, as we often do, about the enormous capacity for creative development the human brain holds and how unbelievably talented people are.

I did a little Christmas shopping, Molly did a little Molly shopping and we both enjoyed more fresh lemonade and great live music.

Enjoy these pictures and, next week, maybe we’ll see you there

We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares and go



We thought asparagus season was over. Apparently not.


Farmer’s Market flowers are so beautiful. Molly bought an enormous bouquet with yellow lillies that are making our house smell lovely.

Carne Asada taco

I have to eat a carne asada taco each time I go to the Farmer’s Market. I munched this one at 9:30 a.m. Muy delicioso!

Mango on a stick

Molly enjoyed the mango on a stick.

Free jalapenos

We both passed on the free jalapenos.

Pies and Pours

Pies ad Pours has become our new favorite food truck.

Strawberry Lemonade

The Door County cheery lemonade hit the spot on a toasty day. (Our favorite is the strawberry basil lemonade.)

Mr. Reynebeau's Chocolate Chip Cookies

You have to get to Mr. Reynebeau’s cookie stand early because they always sell out. Also, Mr. Reynebeau himself is there to serve them to you.

Farmer's Market 2015 019

You can’t beat the beet prices.

You are beautiful

All in all, a beautiful Saturday morning.

Come on in

On Sunday, we hit Art in the Park.

Bob Radtke

We met Bob Radtke, who makes hand-carved bowls.

Faith Ann

And, Faith Givings, who makes gorgeous, hand-pressed ceramics with her grandmother’s rolling pin.



Hot dog relishers

These fellows did a tremendous job hawking hot dogs.

Martini Mobile

I also loved this martini mobile.


These 3D landscapes were stunning.

Stained Glass sun catcher

We loved the sun catchers too.


I had to get a pick of Molly in her yellow dress.

Ring dancers

I thought it’d be cool to get a shot of Art in the Park through the park’s own art, this Dallas Anderson sculpture, Ring Dance.

Songs in the Key of Life

Livin’ la Vida Polka

The weather conditions could not have been better for us to introduce our two youngest children to the magic of Pulaski Polka Days.

A booyah breeze wafted over us as we took our customary place in front of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. Chubby babies meandered, proud veterans represented, and then, with celebratory regularity, polka bands sounded their glorious um pah pahs.

We admired the babies, saluted the veterans and tapped our toes to the passing bands.

Then, we made our way east along with the parade. This strategy, culled from three studied years, allowed us to arrive at the Polka Day grounds well ahead of the crowds.

We found a shaded picnic table, gathered a healthy supply of pieroghis, halubkis, polish sausages and pork dumplings, and merrily feasted.
Appropriately carbo loaded, we hit the dance floor just as the parade wrapped up.

Then, I danced with my husband while my son danced with my daughter, and then I danced with my son while my husband danced with my daughter, and then I danced with my daughter while my son and my husband…watched.

Rimmed with spectator chairs, the tented venues might be intimidating at first glance. But, get a load of the Biskupic family hoofing it up, and a bunch of other amateurs mingling with some very impressive polka dancers, and you’ll see that the beauty of Pulaski Polka Days is its take all comers attitude.

Go for the music, stay for the dancing, and linger for the really delicious food.

If you have not been there, put Pulaski Polka Days on your list of must see Wisconsin events.

We’ll see you next year.

Cute parade fan

How cute is this little parade goer?

Bleacher seats

Check out the rooftop seating.

Welcome to Pulaski Polka Days

Welcome to Polka Days

Honor Guard

We saluted veterans.

Purple Hearts

Including these Purple Heart recipients.


and this sailor carrying the POW/MIA flag.

Vietnam Vet

and these Vietnam veterans.

Middle school band

We loved the Pulaski Middle School band.

Pulaski Middle School band

The Pulaski band program is thriving. Here’s another middle school band shot.

Pulskia band baritone

And them came the high schoolers. Very impressive.

Pulaski Band trumpets

It’s worth a trip just to see them march.

Polka family band

But, we came for the polka bands.

Polka Selfie

and there were plenty of those. This guy is taking a selfie while he sings, quite a multi-tasker.

Raggedy Ann

A vintage cyclist.

Molly and Vince

And then we got down to the serious business of dancing. Here are Vince and Molly.

Me and Vinnie

and Vinnie and me.

Vince and me

I danced with Vince.

Vinnie and me

and with Vinnie again.

Molly and Vince in

A peppy Father/daughter dance.


And Vinnie scored this very appropriate T-shirt. All in all, we had a great time. We can’t wait for next year,

Summer hiatus

Like many parents of busy people scattered far and near, we hold precious the days we spend together.

Our Christmas gift is early morning laughter, our Thanksgiving gratitude is a table full of chatty faces we love, and our summer hiatus is the stretch of sunny days during which we are a party of six, please.

We wrapped up the latter with a trip to Chicago, which has become our second sweet home.

We saw Nerd Alert, the show Katherine and her comedy partner Leah wrote and are performing this month at the Annoyance Theatre. The show celebrates the nerd in all of us and we were thrilled to lend them our belly laughs and genuine admiration.

We toasted Nerd Alert and life in general at a nearby restaurant where we stretched ourselves — physically, across an accommodating table for nine; intellectually, Katherine’s sweet friends were both math majors who graduated from Northwestern University so we had to step up our Pythagorean theorem game; gastronomically, we still have no idea what Vinnie ordered but it came with its own table grill; and emotionally, we celebrated family with the poignant understanding that, come Monday, Charlie would head back to New York to resume his busy life.

Here’s to nerdy, wordy families and the blessed moments we share! Here’s to summer days, and polka parades (which I’ll write about on Wednesday), and beautiful music (which I’ll write about on Friday), and busy, busy weekends full of joy.

All four

I don’t think we’ll see these four in the same room again until Thanksgiving, so we made the most of the time we had.

All the nerds

We bonded over familial nerdiness and a funny show.

Just Katherine

I got a little shutter happy, because that’s who I am. Here’s Katherine…


…and Leah.

Leah and Katherine

And Katherine and Leah…

Nerd Katherine

Here’s Katherine…

Nerd Leah

…and Leah….

Nerd alert and beat boxer

and Katherine and Leah (with their guest nerd, Yuri Lane).

Nerds and Parents

Pure and Weary parents (or the night Char and I found out we have the same hair).

Live long and prosper

Nerdy sibs

Summer hiatus 081

Vince’s cousin Leslie popped in from Canada, which was a great surprise.


Katherine made good use of a bonus margarita the waiter mistakenly served Molly.


While Vinnie ate a whole bunch of grilled meat.

The boys

The boys were back in town.


I love this picture of Charlie, who wrapped up a lovely summer hiatus with a big ole smile on his face.

7 Reasons the Internet is a Nerd — A Post by Molly

An’ a one, an’ a two, and a Gatsby glimpse into the legacy of things

We offered to get Molly a Smartphone for her birthday next month, but she politely declined. She’s been consistent in her loyalty to old school forms of communication, and only reluctantly hauled a lap top to a summer writing program she attended in Boston.

“I found a perfect study spot,” she told me — not texted — in a phone call from campus. “It’s a field of lavender.”

If she’d have had her druthers, she’d have packed parchment, quill and ink and calligraphied her assigned work.

“Don’t they have computer labs on campus? I could use that if I need one,” she said, to her older brothers’ collective horror.

“You’re not going to be THAT kid,” Charlie said. “Pack the lap top.”

So, it surprised none of us when she asked for with sincerity and received with pure delight … a used accordion we’d stumbled on while visiting her grandmother in Illinois.

Sold by renaissance resident Nick, who spends a good chunk of his winter maintaining a family of snow people outside on the terrace, plays a mean piano and happily fashions balloons into just about anything, the accordion had Molly’s name written all over it. Figuratively, of course. In reality, it has Nick’s name carved into the body and his notes written on the music books inside.

These touches endeared the instrument even more to Molly and, the minute she figured out how to open the case, she spread it all out and began to play.

I’d like to think that accordion will have a good long run in Molly’s hands.

Until then, if you’re passing by our house during this window-open season, be sure to give a listen.

You might catch a Gatsby glimpse into days gone by.

An’ a one, an’ a two…

Accordian for sale

This is the accordion that caught Molly’s eye.

Accordian Molly and Nick

It’s hard to say who was more excited during this transaction — the seller or the buyer.

Accordian Molly Youtube

Once home, Molly relied on some modern help to learn her old school instrument.

Accordian lesson


Molly, Charlie, Katherine

I just like this picture from the day Molly got her accordion. Molly is wearing a dress Katherine gave her, and Charlie is wearing a hat Molly gave him, and Katherine is wearing a ring Molly gave her and carrying a purse that was her great-grandma Dorothy’s. Sometimes, there is a legacy in the things we own.

The Giving Tree

Barn quilts and a stitch in time

With creativity, artistry and contagious pride, Shawano County has become the barn quilt capital of Wisconsin.

On bright red, weathered gray and crisp white barns all over the county, 297 quilts stitch the history of a community devoted to faith, family and farming. Launched in the summer of 2010, the Barn Quilt Project has developed into its own tourist attraction. You can download a map, or pick one up at the Shawano County Chamber of Commerce, and make a summer project of seeing each one.

I wandered mapless on one of the busiest Sundays of the year, which is how I found myself dodging traffic on highway 47 and ducking around a fleet of friendly but impressively swift Amish buggies.

Still, I enjoyed my afternoon. Shawano County’s side roads beg exploration and I invite you to give them a whirl.

In addition to the general map, which gives a history of each participating barn, the Chamber has bike maps for various routes tracing the quilts.

Turns out I only saw a fraction of the quilts on Sunday. But, armed with a map and an actual plan, I intend to see them all.

Meanwhile, please enjoy these pictures of a lovely, though somewhat harrowing, Sunday afternoon drive.


The Amish have a pleasant presence in Shawano County. I happened to get caught in buggy traffic following a Sunday gathering, but it resulted in some friendly greetings and a couple of sweet photos.

Fourth of July 193

This one is my favorite.

Fourth of July 151

This stamp is called Rural Connections but I’m deliberately showing the whole farm because I think it’s beautiful. There is a lot of history in those barns. The farm is in its fourth generation of ownership, starting in 1911 with William and Wilhelmina Wasmund. Their sons, Herbert and Harold, then owned the farm for a short time. It continued with the Wasmunds’ daughter and son-in-law, Helen (Wasmund) and Andrew Rank, then to their son and daughter-in-law Ronald and Shirley (Temple) Rank. Today, it is owned by Ron and Shirley’s son, Kevin, and his wife, Kim (Schlender) Rank.

Fourth of July 205

Lucky Clover An antique Oliver tractor built in 1941 is the focal point of this stamp. Jeff and Carolyn Lehndorf, who own this barn, have a collection of 33 antique Oliver tractors. The quilt pattern is called “Lucky Clover,” and the tractor image on the barn quilt is of an Oliver 80 Row Crop, one of eight of that model they own.

Fourth of July 161

Sunflowers Reed and Mary Lee Johnson grow more than 300 varieties of flowers at Windswept Acres. About 35 acres are in production of cut flowers, supplemented with four greenhouses that allow the Johnsons to grow flowers not normally found in this area.

Fourth of July 156

Rainbow Iris This is another representation of the Johnson’s cut flower business.

Fourth of July 164

I pulled off Highway 47 for a bit to catch my breath and enjoy this view. Rural Wisconsin is beautiful in almost any season and Shawano County is especially so.

Fourth of July 155

Never Forget James Starks sponsored this quilt in memory of his great grandfather Samuel Harvey Starks, who served in the American Civil War.

Fourth of July 169

All Star. The Ebert farm hosts the “All Star” quilt because Marilyn’s deceased son David was a member of the Shawano All Stars. “We think the quilt is a fitting tribute, not only to David, but to all those persons who have been and are members of this special team,” Mary Jo Brunner said. Keith and Sandra Ebert purchased the 80 acre farm from Clarence and Doris Jandt in 1978. Throughout the years, the farm has always been operated as a dairy farm. The Eberts have a herd of 40 Holstein cows plus young stock. The original barn on the farm was built in the early 1900s.

Fourth of July 198

Corn and Beans The Woldts, along with son Rodney and his wife, Carol, run a 100-cow dairy operation about a mile away. The Woldts’ grandson, Brandon, hopes to farm there someday, which would be the fifth generation of Woldts to dairy at that location since the farm was started in 1892.

Wisconsin Casual 001

Old Glory Barn Chevron Built in 1919 by Tom’ Zernicke’s great-grandfather Frederick Zernicke, a carpenter by trade, the land was once owned by his great great grandfather David. Louis Zernicke, Tom’s grandfather farmed there all his life. He had two sons, George, Tom’s dad, and Clarence, who was a dairy farmer. Tom bought the farm from Clarence in 1985 and has cash-cropped the land since then as well as raising some steers until 10 years ago. “I am happy and proud to be the fifth generation of the Zernicke family tree on this farm,” Tom said.

Memorial Day 2015 168

Family Traditions. Our friends Ron and Nicolle Wussow, together with their children Kaila and Colin, own this farm, which we visit every chance we get. The barn quilt was sponsored for the Wussows as a memorial for Ron’s uncle, Dale, by Dale’s wife, Linda. “Dale was very instrumental in my love of farming,” Ron said. “He was also a believer in John Deere equipment and had a very successful career as a 4-H member and leader. That’s why we decided to include the 4-H emblem and a John Deere tractor as part of the barn quilt pattern.” Nicolle’s great grandfather, August, and his wife, Ella (Bahr) homesteaded the farm in 1893. Later they sold the farm to one of their sons, Paul, and his wife, Emma (Regal), Nicolle’s grandparents, in 1947. In 1971, Nicolle’s parents, Roy and Mary Ellen (Gunderson) Fischer, purchased the farm and they still live on the property today.