Opinions

Wed
21
Mar

Column - Solitaire: Time-waster or healthy break?

When I was a kid growing up on the VanHaren homestead on Konitzer Road, south of Oconto Falls, my Grandpa VanHaren lived with us. My dad had bought the farm from Grandpa with the provision that Grandpa could live there as long as he wished. So, Grandpa was a daily part of my life until I went away to college at age 18.

I have lots of memories of Grandpa, but one of the most enduring one is of Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table, smoking his corncob pipe and playing endless games of solitaire. He played only one form of solitaire. He didn’t know what it was called, but I have since learned that it is called “Klondike.”

I often wondered, as I sat and watched him play, why he played it over and over because he seldom “won” the game. I think I would have become frustrated with the game if I lost as often as he did, but not Grandpa; he just kept playing – over and over.

Wed
14
Mar

Column: A memorable visit to Montserrat

The book I’m currently reading is “Origin” by Dan Brown, the author of “The DaVinci Code.” The opening scenes of “Origin” are set in Montserrat, about an hour’s train ride from Barcelona.

Those first few pages of the book took me back to a wonderful month’s stay in Barcelona with our youngest son and his family in the spring of 2013. Mark and his family lived there for three years. On that first weekend, Mark and Nerissa had planned a trip for all of us to go to visit the Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey and basilica located in the Montserrat mountain, 38 kilometers from Barcelona.

Public transportation in and around Barcelona is wonderful. We took the train from Barcelona’s Placa d’Espanya station and rode through the city and into the countryside on a very pleasant trip to Montserrat.

Wed
07
Mar

Columnist's words are hard to swallow

I don’t often venture into areas of controversy in this space, but every so often I’m really tempted to stick in my two cents’ worth. Perhaps no one cares what I think, anyway, but something I read after the horrific school shooting in Florida really made me question the way some people think.

Michael Reagan, the son of former president Ronald Reagan, in an editorial piece the week after the Florida tragedy, said this:

“Eighteen. In 45 days. That sounds terrible. That sounds like a huge American crisis that needs to be addressed immediately by our great leaders in Washington.

“But that number, which the anti-gun lobby in the media has emphasized without going into the details of the individual incidents, is highly misleading.

“None of those previous shootings was anything like the horrible one on Wednesday that left 17 students and teachers dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Wed
28
Feb

Column: A couple of names from the past

If you’re about my age, you may remember Vic Damone. Damone died a little earlier this month at age 89. In the late 1940s and early ’50s, he became very popular as a pop and big band singer. My favorite song from “My Fair Lady” is “On the Street Where You Live,” and Damone had a terrific recording of it. He also had great renditions of “My Heart Cries for You” and “You’re Breaking My Heart.” I thought he was a terrific singer.

Damone got his big break when he entered the talent search on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Search in April 1947 and won the competition. This led to him becoming a regular on Godfrey’s show. He met Milton Berle at the studio, and Berle got him work at two night clubs. By mid-1947, Damone had signed a recording contract with Mercury Records.

Wed
21
Feb

Column: Baby animals - AW! Aren’t they cute?

A little over a year ago, I saw an item on Channel 4 news in which the Milwaukee County Zoo introduced three Amur tiger cubs to the public. The cubs, one male and two females, had been born a few months before. It was big news because Amur tigers are endangered. The news lady who was doing the story was ooh-ing and aah-ing about how cute they were. And she was right; they were cute.

That’s one of the neat things about animals — the babies are usually cute. Everybody loves kittens and puppies because they’re so cute. They may not like cats and dogs, however, because often the animals lose their cuteness factor when they get older.

Farm kids are no different. The kittens, puppies, chicks, ducklings, goat kids, lambs, colts, piglets and calves are all cute and fun to play with. But their cuteness wears off after a while. Cute little calves grow up to be clumsy cows. Cute little pink piglets grow up to be cumbersome sows.

Wed
14
Feb

Tangy taste of Tang was a household favorite

While we were shopping at the grocery store last week, we noticed a “special” on a popular brand of orange-colored drink. There were two kinds, “the original tangy” and the “sweet and smooth.” We bought one of each.

Later, at home, I opened the “tangy original” bottle and poured a glass. The first taste reminded me of the chewable baby aspirins we gave our kids when they were little or maybe — more closely — the taste of Tang, the powdered soft drink mix that gained so much publicity when NASA sent it along on Mercury astronaut John Glenn’s first space mission. Was that why it was “tangy?”

Do you remember Tang? We haven’t had it at our house since our kids were little. We used it because it was so much cheaper than buying oranges or orange juice.

Wed
07
Feb

Column: Amy Purdy overcame an Olympic-sized challenge

The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, will be starting in the next few days, and people all over the world will be watching – not just because of the proximity to North Korea and its egomaniacal dictator Kim Jong-un, but because of the national pride of all the nations that are participating.

The competitors who perform in some of the winter Olympic sports are among the most graceful and elegant of all athletes. Figure skaters and ice-dancers are as graceful as ballet dancers on the ice. Other competitors, like Alpine skiers and snowboarders, exhibit amazing courage in their sports. There are many compelling stories associated with the Olympics.

Wed
07
Feb

Column: Husband provides constant reminders of love

A mayor is often asked to issue a proclamation. The city has a book with examples of proclamations for most occasions. I often chose to write my own. I felt if I was going to sign my name to it, and it was going to be stamped with the official seal of the city, I wanted to be the author.

While in office I sometimes wrote personal proclamations upon request. In fact, I wrote one that I gave to my hubby several years ago on our wedding anniversary. It is framed and displayed in our home, a reminder of how God has blessed our marriage. It says:

WHEREAS, we met, fell in love, and on Feb. 1, 1964 we married, and

WHEREAS, on Nov. 19, 1964 we were blessed with our first born, a beautiful daughter we named Amy; and

WHEREAS, on March 12, 1969 we were blessed once more, this time with the birth of our loving son Daniel; and

WHEREAS, our lives have been enriched with three wonderful grandchildren, Jeffrey, Morgan and Mason; and

Wed
31
Jan

Column: Are billy goats gruff or just kids at heart?

A while ago, I saw a video about “fainting goats” on my computer. These strange little animals are bred to have a genetic disorder, called myotonia congenita, that affects their skeletal muscles. Their legs become paralyzed for a few seconds if they’re startled.

According to Wikipedia, the breed dates back to the 1880s, when a farmer named John Tinsley brought four goats suffering from myotonia to Dr. H.H. Mayberry, in Tennessee, who began breeding them and called them “Tennessee fainting goats.” However, the name “fainting goat” is a misnomer since the goats don’t lose consciousness when they “faint.” But they are funny to watch!

Watching those goats playing reminded me of a little black-and-white goat we had for a while when I was kid on the farm. I don’t know where Dad got him – or why. But one day, Dad came home with him, and he became part of our menagerie.

Wed
24
Jan

Column: I forget to remember sometimes

Every once in a while, Marilyn will say to me, “Help me to remember to call Carmen tomorrow.” And more often than not, I’ll forget to remember.

Toward the end of his life, when my dad’s memory sometimes played tricks on him, he’d say, “My forgetter works better than my rememberer.” It bothered him that sometimes he couldn’t remember things, or that he’d repeat the same question several times within a short span of time.

But I know what he meant about his forgetter; sometimes mine overrides my rememberer, too. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what we remember, isn’t it?

I’m not trying to be cryptic or enigmatic here. I really think that sometimes we forget what we remember, just as we sometimes remember what we forgot. Am I making sense?

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