Opinions

Wed
01
Aug

The odyssey of a stool in the school

Many years ago — probably 55? — in the early days of my teaching career, I found an old wooden stool the janitors at the junior high were throwing away because one of the legs and two of the cross-pieces had fallen apart. I rescued the stool and re-glued it. That stool became a permanent part of my classroom furnishings for the rest of my career.

But that’s not the end of the story. When Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre did its first production of “Godspell” in 1977, one of the props people asked if they could use my stool in the show. Well, why not? They asked if I cared if they painted it (it was a natural shade of oak). Well, sure. So when I got the stool back after the show, it was very colorful – yellow, green and orange. Very “Godspell-y.” But that was OK. It gave it character.

Wed
25
Jul

Dad’s face still staring back in the mirror

Fourteen years ago, I wrote a column, which I called “When did my dad start appearing in my mirror?” Now 14 years later, I am even more struck by the image I see when I look in a mirror.
Sometimes — not always — but sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I see my dad’s face where my face used to be. Mind you, I’m not complaining when I see my dad’s face there; after all, I am my father’s son.
There’s a line from a ’90s rock song (but I’ll be darned if I can remember who it’s by) that says, “Though my friends mostly don’t see it, I see my father in my own face.” When I was a kid, I used to look at my dad, and I’d think “I don’t resemble him at all.” I always thought I looked more like my mom. To be honest, I sometimes still look at myself and see a little resemblance to Mom. I think that the older I get, the more I’m reminded of my dad. Mind you, I don’t spend much time looking in the mirror; these are passing glances I’m referring to here.

Wed
18
Jul

Column: Make sure people know how special they are

During our lifetime, each of us had others who did something or said something that influenced us, motivated us or in some way helped shape our life. I hope you will take a few minutes to think about who those people were/are in your life.

If that special person/persons are still living, think about telling them and thanking them. I will always remember a letter I received from someone who I hired and supervised at the bank. Her letter meant the world to me. It made me think about people who touched my life in a special way.

One of those people was a teacher, Lillian Abrahamson. You readers in the Tigerton area no doubt remember her. She was an amazing lady. Mrs. Abrahamson approached me when I was a freshman at Marion High School. She was an English teacher and also a forensic coach.

Wed
18
Jul

Column: That unlucky combination of Friday and 13

Our son Chris was born on Friday the 13th. He turned 13 on Friday the 13th. His birthday has been on Friday the 13th seven times; last Friday, July 13, was his birthday. It’s a good thing he doesn’t have a superstition about the number 13 or of Friday the 13th, right?

There’s a name for the fear of the number 13: triskaidekaphobia. (Tris-ky-dek-uh-phobia. It’s from the Greek “triskaideka,” meaning “13,” and “phobos,” meaning “fear.”) Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th.

Another son, T.J., chose to wear the number 13 on his team jerseys in high school, and when he graduated, his brother Mike took over the number. When they played soccer against each other in college, both of them wore the number 13. No triskaidekaphobia in our family.

My all-time favorite cartoon character, Pogo, more than once stated: “Friday the 13th came on Wednesday this month.” I’m not quite sure whether Pogo was superstitious or not.

Wed
04
Jul

Why do I write? That’s easy

I have been writing this column for nearly 25 years. Haven’t missed a week in all those years. People ask me how I do it; how do I come up ideas week after week? Why do I do it, anyway? I always say it’s the only discipline left in my life, but, in truth, I really like to write.

I didn’t always like to write. I didn’t do much writing as a kid because nobody assigned me to write very much when I was in grade school. Grade school English classes (they were called “language”) consisted mainly in memorizing grammatical rules and definitions and in diagramming sentences. I was probably the only kid at St. Anthony’s in Oconto Falls who actually liked diagramming sentences.

Wed
04
Jul

Horses were a key part of life in the early years

I met my hubby, Donny, while vacationing at the home of my grandparents, who lived on East Lieg Avenue. I was 16 years old at the time, and he was 18. Although he had a car, Donny usually rode his horse, Beauty, when he came to visit me. Her name was quite fitting; she was a sleek, beautiful Tennessee Walker he purchased from Martin Miller. Beauty enjoyed the green grass on Grandpa’s lawn while we sat on the front porch and talked.

My hubby had horses most of his life. When he was a young boy, his dad bought him his first horse from Art Wendorff. Her name was Star. During those years, horses could be kept in the city. My hubby’s dad, Clarence, built a horse stall behind their garage. The horse stayed there during the summer months, and in the winter the horse was taken out to the Wendorff farm.

Wed
27
Jun

A lover of (almost) all word games

Every day, I play a five-minute word game on my phone. It’s called “Seven Little Words.” (www.7littlewords.com) Each day’s puzzle consists of seven clues, seven mystery words and 20 letter groups. You find the mystery words by deciphering the clues and combining the letter groups.

Sometimes they’re easy, and sometimes they’re pretty tough. It’s fun and doesn’t take much time, but it keeps my love of words active.

I also like the “Jumble” in the newspaper. Unscrambling the mixed-up words and then unscrambling the resulting circled letters to make an new “punny” answer is fun, even though I can often solve them without writing anything down. But it’s all about words, right? The newspapers also offer “cryptoquote” or “cryptoquip,” which feature encrypted comments to decipher. And of course, there’s the daily crossword puzzle.

Wed
20
Jun

A wordy column full of words about words

I’ve had an almost lifelong fascination with words. Over the years, I’ve written about words fairly often, but not lately. Whenever I have done so, I have always received positive feedback. So here for your edification is a column about words! Think positive!
Think of all the “onym” words you know and use. Don’t they all have something to do with words? What are synonyms? Words with similar meanings. Antonyms? Words which are opposite, or “anti.” Acronyms? Words like radar or scuba; they’re words made up of the first letters of a series of words and pronounced as one word. “Radar” is for radio detection and ranging. “Scuba” is for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.
So you already know quite a bit about words. But I wonder, how many of you know about some of the “onym” words below?

Wed
20
Jun

Rhubarb can be tasty when prepared right

Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable? Actually, rhubarb is a vegetable that originated in China, Tibet, Mongolia and Siberia. In the American colonies, John Bartram, of Philadelphia, is credited with the first planting of rhubarb seeds in the 1730s.
Although rhubarb is a vegetable, for purposes of regulations in the United States, since it is used primarily as a fruit, it is counted as such.
Rhubarb is usually cooked and sweetened with sugar. It is called “pie plant” because it is often used as a pie filling. It can be eaten raw with a little sugar sprinkled on it, but it is commonly used with other ingredients to produce a dessert or sauce.
When preparing rhubarb, discard the leaves. They contain toxic levels of oxalic acid. Rhubarb stalks can be stored in the refrigerator for five to seven days, unwashed and sealed in an airtight plastic bag or tightly wrapped in plastic.

Tue
12
Jun

Musicologists weigh in on earworms

A few years ago, I read an article by Stephen King about “earworms.” At that time, I’d never heard the expression before, but I looked it up and evidently it’s pretty common. Why didn’t I know that?

From what King said, “earworms” are tunes or songs that get stuck in the phonological part of our brains. We hear a song (or part of a song) and then we sing it or hum it over and over, sometimes audibly, sometimes just in our heads. King said the one that was stuck in his head was the jingle about “free credit reports.com.”

It’s as if a computer virus or “worm” has eaten its way into your cranial cortex and taken up residence there, and despite your best efforts, it hangs around for a long time.

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