Category Archives: summer

W stands for Whew! (and Whirlwind! and Wisconsin! and Weekend!)

Fore!ward to summer in the great state of Wisconsin

Land of the free because of the brave

Five things that happened when I put down my smartphone

Five things you need to know about Pedal Taverns (before you jump on)

Take me out to a ball game

Summer sounds like baseball. The happy murmur of settling fans, the crack of the bat, the thunk of the ball in a thick leather mitt, the rhythmic clap of the universal cheers.

“Peanuts! Popcorn! Cotton Candy!”

We spent Monday night at the Timber Rattlers Stadium, along with our 94-year old friend Nai Chang and his young pal and neighbor, 84-year old Ralph Rohde.

Widowers both, the two gentlemen settled in with a cold beer in one hand, and a program in the other, chatting easily and enjoying the show.

They watched the baseball game too.

That’s the thing about minor league baseball. There’s honest drama on the field, 18 athletes fighting hard for a spot in the major leagues.

But, there’s plenty to see outside the diamond as well.

We saw the bat slip out of a players hand and fly dangerously into the stands. A young mother calmly reached up and caught the bat with her right hand, while shielding her small son with her left. For her efforts, she received a standing ovation from the stands and a commemorative bat from the Timber Rattlers stadium crew. It may have been the play of the evening.

With brat mobiles, human bowling balls, and plenty of wandering cartoon characters, Timber Rattler games have a little something for everyone.

Scoring it all is the cheerful pipe organ and familiar playlist.

“Sweet Caroline. Good time never seemed so good.”

Treat yourself to a summer ballgame, and maybe shut your phone off when you get there. Sit back, relax and let the sounds of summer take you back.

Nai and Ralph

Nai Chang is 94-years old and still plays golf twice a week. His young friend Ralph is only 84. They both enjoyed the evening at the ballpark. Baseball keeps you young.

Timber Rattler stadium

It was a touch chilly and overcast, but, still, a perfect evening for baseball.

National Anthem

Young players join the pros for the National Anthem.

5050 raffle

Where else but a baseball game do people walk around with wads of cash in their hands, offering you the chance to take home half of it?


Molly and I are not big fans of Whiffer. He seems a little oblivious, as this photo indicates. Turn around, big fella! Big play happening behind you! 

Fang and me

But you can’t go to a T-Rats game an not get your picture taken with Fang, am I right?


Does summer trump fall in our debate? Molly B vs. Me

One of us is marching toward fall with her chin in the air, left arm tucked in a cozy wool sweater, right hand holding a crunchy apple.

The other is taking a more languid pace, bare toes dragging in wet sand, marshmallow mustache on surly lip, face turned toward the setting summer sun.

Here is our point/counterpoint on the saddest or most hopeful seasonal transition of the year…

Dear Summer,

Please don’t go. I’ve been busy, I know, and maybe I haven’t paid you the kind of attention you get from those sweet tea sippers south of the Mason/Dixon line.

You’re still my favorite season though. And I can do better.

I mean, I’m not going to rock a bikini, but I’m perfectly willing to slather on a little sun block and worship you and that hot sun of yours in my conservative blue one piece. I’ll toast you too, with fresh lemonade and blueberry mint juleps.

Give me another chance to splash around a little, feel a soft breeze on my skin, smell fresh cut grass, taste crisp watermelon.

I’m not going to beg. I’m dignified that way.

But, please, please summer. Don’t leave me. If you do, I know what’s ahead — cold mornings, and mealy fruit, and stale air, and so, so many layers of clothes.

I know, it’s not me, it’s you. There’s that whole spinning planet thing and all. I accept that the blissfully long days are probably not going to happen for a while.

But, maybe you could meet me halfway? Toss a month of sunshine my way? Stretch yourself into November. You can do it, I know you can.

And I’ll be right here cheering you on in my bare feet, sleeveless T-shirt and necessary sun glasses.

Yours truly,


A delicious and beautiful summer salad. I used the Laughing Fo greens, Farmer's Market strawberries, almonds, Havarti cheese, blueberries, raspberries and a strawberry vinegarette....Sadly no pictures of my failed rhubarb sauce.

A delicious and beautiful summer salad. I’m going to miss these.

Vince and Erin on the bumper tube

And, summer floats…

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And, summer flowers…

Dear Autumn,

Welcome! It’s been a while. I’m glad to see you’re stopping in our neck of the woods for the next couple months. I know right now it may seem like Summer is squatting on your turf, but trust me, as soon as those nostalgic sun-soakers learn to let go, we’ll send that mooch back down south where it belongs. Then everyone will give you the appreciation you deserve.

What’s not to love? Summer can keep its watermelon and strawberries. We all know you’re the true harvest season. While Summer makes us stoop to the ground for just a few tiny berries, you deliver pounds and pounds of crisp apples right at eye level. And don’t even get me started on the pumpkins. Watermelon may be the heavy weight of the preseason but it’s got nothing on the regular season players. Try putting a watermelon in a latte, can’t do it.

Frankly I’m even excited to have your cool demeanor. Seriously Autumn, try baking a cake in an unairconditioned kitchen when it’s 90 degrees outside. Not pleasant. Some sunsoakers are worried about all the layering up your season entails, but trust me Autumn, we pasty Wisconsinites are much more appealing with a little more left to the imagination. And besides, kids these days are all about layering (so I’m told), scarves on top of sweaters on top of button ups on top of dress, it’s like your own personal sauna. And the wool, of course. Wool socks and tights and dresses and sweaters and scarves and mittens. Most days, autumn, I feel like I’m getting hugged by about ten sheep.

And of course the holidays. Sure Summer’s got Fourth of July, that’s basically just a giant cook out, which people would already do anyway during the Summer even if it wasn’t Independence Day. Come on Fourth of July get some creativity. It’s no surprise that you have the best holidays (even my mom, a loyal sunsoaker’s favorite holiday is Halloween). Then of course you’re through in Thanksgiving, the great hurrah before that jerk Winter has to ruin everything. Thanksgiving is just one big holiday for proving that your food is better than Summer’s food (there might be something about thankfulness too, I guess). A lot more interesting than a giant barbeque.

There you go Autumn, no begging, no bargaining, just exposing your true superiority. Really you made it easy for me. Thanks Autumn, I look forward to spending much more time with you.

Yours Truly,


We celebrated a bountiful harvest.

You don’t even have to stoop a little to go apple picking!

Chasing the sun 034

I mean, really, how much more beautiful can you get?

Packer family reunion 2014 001

And, oh yeah, we’re ready for some football!

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.

10 things I vow to do before the summer ends

There’s a bear in the woods