H 79° L 61°
Cloudy | 0MPH

Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

My Mulberry marathon continues

Just for fun!, Gardening, Good food / recipes, Living well on less $

For full photo version see brookfield7

Mulberries: birds love 'em, so do the deer*; I think they are quite tasty too. But I only just had my suspicions confirmed: they are also packed with the anti-oxidant resveratrol. Best of all, they are free!

This summer, it seems that the ripe fruits just keep coming. I think we are past 2 months now and my tree still has plenty of unripe fruit in it. (Unripe fruits are white.)

I can't remember a longer production season, so I am beginning to wonder if our cold summer is the cause of my Mulberry marathon? Whatever the reason, the critters and I are enjoying their sweet, delicious fruits.

We have several mulberry trees on our acre lot here in Brookfield, and I suspect they were all volunteers - planted by the birds. (Some people consider them a weed tree but they are available for purchase too.)

The dark side of Mulberries is that the ripe berries that fall to the ground or via bird droppings can stain. So planting near a sidewalk or driveway is not the best idea. (Alas, our best tree is near the driveway.)

I have read that you can propagate trees by rooting a good sized cutting or planting seeds. Since our fruit producing trees are much too tall for a practical harvest, the animals get most of them. That is OK, I enjoy watching the Orioles eat their fill. If I manage to get some new trees started, I will plant in a better area and prune to a shorter height!

Outside of eating them right off the tree, putting them in a fruit salad, or adding them to a muffin or pancake recipe instead of blueberries, I have not cooked with them. I did find a few recipes though if you want to give them a try: Mulberry Recipes

The Mulberry has been in America for a long time. Cortez first brought the Mulberry tree and silkworms to Mexico in 1531. Later, early colonists imported the Mulberry tree in an attempt to start a silk industry in America. (Silk worms will only eat Mulberry leaves.) This industry never really got off the ground, but the trees provided plenty of tasty fruit.

There are many varieties of Mulberries: Black, red, pink, and white. I believe my trees are red. The berries ripen to a deep black-purple color (pictured), although you can eat them as soon as they turn red. The flavor varies depending on the ripeness. The lighter red ones are more tart. Some say they resemble a grapefruit flavor. The deeper the color, the sweeter they get. Once they reach full ripeness, they remind me of a Bing cherry.

Since the trees produce an amazing amount of free fruit there is enough for the birds, beasts, and us. I hope you give them a try. **

If you have a favorite recipe or way of using Mulberries, please share. I would love to add more to my repertoire.

*I don't really like the deer in the yard, because they eat my flowers and often carry Lyme's disease infected ticks. They do, however, at least clean up the dropped fruits.

**PLEASE, if you are at all unsure if a plant is edible, DO NOT EAT it until it can be verified. If you are harvesting wild plants with young children, instruct them NEVER to eat anything on their own.

Read more

Will parents opt kids out of Pres. Obama's national school address?

Culture, Education, President Obama

What goes on inside the walls of public schools used to be considered a local responsibility. Like almost everything else in our society, the creep towards Federal interference is becoming more like a leap.

Next week Tuesday, the president will address all public school students in a video address. He is to urge students to work hard, set goals, and be responsible for their education, something the teacher no doubt already told them on the first day, in the first 5 minutes of class.

The pep talk seems harmless enough. It's the other activities scheduled that day that are more troubling: Editorial: Beaming Obama into your kid's head, The president expands his cult into the classroom:

"But there is more to this noontime event than simply interrupting lunch. The Obama administration has recommended a series of activities before, during and after the speech intended to drill home the president's messages. Given that the teachers' unions are some of Mr. Obama's most ardent supporters, we expect that the supporting activities will have the feel of pro-Obama pep rallies".

"In a move suggestive of the Pyongyang public school system [in North Korea], the U.S. Department of Education recommended that before the speech students collectively brainstorm questions like, 'Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?' [A leading question that assumes the president inspired the student.] Classrooms are to be festooned with 'notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama's speeches about education,' presumably alongside benevolent-looking images of the dear leader."

Read more

No need to opt out at Elmbrook, our district will NOT show Obama broadcast

Education, Elmbrook, President Obama

Guess I wasn't the only one who felt watching and discussing the Obama broadcast next Tuesday was an inappropriate use of class time. Dr. Matt Gibson informed Elmbrook district parents via recorded phone call late this afternoon that they will NOT be participating in Tuesday's national address.

Thank you, Dr. Gibson, for making this decision. No doubt he heard from a few residents. ;-)

Read more

Fox News at Brookfield Central?

Education, Elmbrook, President Obama

I just heard on WISN's Jay Weber show this morning that Fox News (national) is at Brookfield Central to do a news story about Elmbrook's decision not to show Obama's speech. Granted, Brookfield is RED suburb in a BLUE state, but Wauwatosa isn't showing the President's speech either. I would have thought that was more newsworthy.

I don't have cable TV, but you might want to watch for the piece if you do.

These 2 communities are not alone; all across the country school districts are opting out of showing the speech and doing the lesson plans.

You can read the president's speech for yourself; it's available online. Transcript: I did like the section where he said, "Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer," because it stresses personal worth.

Original email from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: Why was this portion included? "Educated people are more active civically [sic] and better informed on issues affecting their lives, their families and their futures. Issues like living wage, health care, increasing militarism? torture?" (That's not even a sentence. What action did Arne intend be taken on those topics?)

Read more

Cheer up, still 2 weeks of summer left

Just for fun!, Weather

We certainly had glorious weather for Labor Day weekend, didn't we? It was especially notable because our summer so far has been less than stellar. Hope you did something outside.

People tend to think that just because the kids went back to school, the summer is over. But if you look at the calendar the official first day of fall does not begin for 2 more weeks. I plan to enjoy every day still in summer mode.

This isn't a new pattern; even when I homeschooled, our first day of school was not until the first day of fall on September 22nd. I figured, why waste all those beautiful days starting school before summer ended? (FYI: If you don't take 2 weeks off for Christmas and a week for spring break, you can get all the hours in and still finish by early May. Homeschools don't have all those early release days either.)

I am going to do my best to enjoy these last 2 weeks of summer to the fullest. Hey, I just had my first garden grown tomato and mayo sandwich! Mmm-Mmm. Hopefully there will be more to come. Then it's time start on my next favorite season: autumn.


Read more

Obama pitches Health Care at Wakefield High School

Education, Health care, President Obama

Yesterday I questioned why this section was included in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's email to the nation's principals: "Educated people are more active civically [sic] and better informed on issues affecting their lives, their families and their futures. Issues like living wage, health care, increasing militarism? torture?" (That's not even a sentence. What action did Arne intend be taken on those topics?)

Today I learned* that prior to the president's very conservative national broadcast address to America's school children, he met with 40 freshmen at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. (Same school he made his broadcast address from)

Let's just say I don't think that meeting made the national news, but CNS reported it: Obama Pitched Universal Health Care to Students in Meeting Prior to His Speech on Education. It was a face to face Q&A session with innocuous questions like how has your life changed, how would your life be different if you father were involved, who would you like to have dinner with, and what were your main goals when you were in college, etc. The session was filmed, but not broadcast as far as I know.

Transcript It seemed Obama could not resist steering the question, "How [do] you motivate yourself to do all the work that goes along with your job?", toward discussing his health care reforms. He replied, "... I'm just going to be honest with you -- some of it is just you don't want to fail. Right? A lot of people are counting on me," and went on to talk about the 40,000 letters he receives a day on all different subjects. He reads 10 a day -- some inspiring, some depressing.

He elaborated on both. The inspiring being about someone who was the first to go to college. The depressing, "You hear about people who are sick but don't have health care, and suddenly they get a bill for $100,000, and there's no way they can pay for it, and they're about to lose their house."

"And you're just reminded that the country is full of really good people who sometimes are going through a hard time. They just need a break. They need a little bit of help. Maybe the way things are set up right now isn't always fair for people, and that motivates you, because you say, well, I can't make everything perfect, I can't prevent somebody from getting sick, but maybe I can make sure that they've got insurance so that when they do get sick, they're going to get some help."

Read more

But how would Obama know if health care recipient was legal or not?

Government / Bureaucracy, Health care, President Obama, Socialism / Marxism, Truth

Last night I had to take my car to the shop and only caught portions of the President's Joint Session of Congress speech. I did catch the now infamous, "You lie" section and must confess I said, "That's not true!" at the same moment.

I certainly understand Congressman Wilson's frustration with a president who likes to make promises regardless of the facts, but he was out of line. (Remember, I am the one who wanted to maintain a sense of decorum on blog comments.) Of course the media is focusing on this political faux pas instead of what the bill allows. We wouldn't want to draw any attention to the facts, right?

So what does the bill, or bills (there are many versions) say about insuring illegals? Is the President correct when he promises that "the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

Obamacare won't cover illegal immigrants? Yes it will, says Congressional Research Service: (For clarity, I made the CRS quote bold.) Just recently, the president stated, "Illegal immigrants would not be covered. That idea has not even been on the table."

"Well, Mr. President, [Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner writes] that idea must have been tucked under a stack of background briefing papers over there in the corner of the table because the Congressional Research Service (CRS) says this about H.R. 3200, the Obamacare bill approved just before the recess by the House Energy and Commerce Committee chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA:

'Under H.R. 3200, a 'Health Insurance Exchange' would begin operation in 2013 and would offer private plans alongside a public option…H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on noncitzens—whether legally or illegally present, or in the United States temporarily or permanently—participating in the Exchange.' "

"CRS also notes that the bill has no provision for requiring those seeking coverage or services to provided proof of citizenship. So, absent some major amendments to the legislation and a credible, concrete enforcement effort in action, looks like the myth on this issue is the one being spread by Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et. al."

Republican attempts at adding a verification amendment were defeated earlier. Obama did reduce the number of those without insurance from 46 million to 30 million last night. The missing 16 or so million were illegals. Currently, illegals are covered by emergency rooms without any proof of residency; how would Obama filter them out from Obamcare?

Read more

9/11: A day to remember, not re-purpose

History, Special events, President Obama

Today is the 8th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It seemed it would always be a day to be remembered much like Pearl Harbor Day or D and V Day. But this year, President Obama has changed the purpose of this day from a day to remember what happened on that day and be thankful that our nation is safe, to a National Day of Service. I must confess that I did not even know that happened back in April of this year*.

What is a Day of Service? Something to help the police and firefighters who did so much on Sept. 11, 2001 perhaps? or sending care packages to soldiers?

Read more

UPDATE: Hoping for a really BIG Washington D.C. TEA PARTY

Conservatives, TAXES, Special events

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin reported that as of "12:34pm Eastern: Police estimate 1.2 million in attendance. ABC News reporting crowd at 2 million." You can keep track of Tea Parties on the Tea Party Express blog

I've heard there is a March on Washington D.C. Taxpayer Tea Party planned for Saturday, September 12, 2009. Whatever push-back there has been on taxes, spending, Obamacare and Cap and Trade has been primarily from grassroots groups and Tea Parties, not the Republican party. Evidently, FOX and Glen Beck have been promoting the rally. A huge turnout would be wonderful.

Read more

It was a BIG TEA PARTY, people are finally waking up

Conservatives, Constitution, History, President Obama, TAXES

The September 12th Tea Party in Washington D.C. exceeded my expectations. Crowd estimates are all over the map, ranging from 10s of thousands, to 100s of thousands, to over a million. Crowd estimates have always been iffy; the Million Man March, for example, ranged from 850,000 to 1.9 million.

Whatever the numbers, the crowds were peaceful, from what I could glean, and the signs clever. One protester had a hearse with big letters on the side reading OBAMACAE. Another had a frowny face with tears that read: Worried Democrat. This was no AstroTurf, this was real grassroots.

Here are a few video clips and reports: Michelle Malkin: Yes, the picture is real, nutroots (great time lapse of crowd, photos, and crowd estimation chart at the end), MSNBC Tom Costello "Our own people think 100s of thousands",
Sen. Jim DeMint Corrects Fox News Crowd Estimate; Says There are "Hundreds of Thousands" at 9/12 March on Washinton - Video 9/12/09
VIDEO: Highlights from the 9/12 Taxpayer Tea Party March on Washington (This one had closeups of the signs mentioned.)

One thing I learned from my first venture in fighting city hall on a very local issue back in 2004, was that it takes a l-o-n-g time to get the information out and people to get up to speed. People are so busy these days, they often don't pay much attention to issues -- even when it affects their own back yards.

I also remember talking to a few homeowners the day before the vote for our 2008 $62 million dollar Elmbrook School referendum. These taxpayers either didn't know there was a referendum on the ballot or didn't look at the materials the school had sent out... yet. That referendum was for $62 million dollars and they couldn't be bothered?

Much the same happens with State and National elections. Election day comes and many voters haven't investigated the candidates beyond a campaign slogan or commercial. Life goes on and the ill informed voter goes on his/her merry way on autopilot, not to be bothered about it until the next election. (That is if they vote at all.)

President Obama won the 2008 election promising Hope & Change. The voters who didn't agree with his real agenda, but voted based on his campaign promises, hoped the change would be for the better. If Obama had not hit the ground running toward the left so vigorously, I wonder if we would have these Tea Parties today? If he would have taken a slower pace, maybe the whole taxpayer protest movement would have never gotten off the ground.

But slow paced, Obama is not. Between apologizing all over the world for America being America, his unprecedented spending, his promotion of Cap and Trade, and now his ObamaCare push, the majority of Americans are feeling very uneasy. They are realizing no matter how strong our economy, we cannot sustain this level of deficit spending. We certainly cannot afford this with a sick economy and high unemployment numbers.

People are snapping out of autopilot and realizing their liberty is at stake. They are now willing to inconvenience themselves and invest their time and money to travel to their state capitals and this past weekend, to their nations capitol, to let their government know this has to stop.

I venture to say, if people would have been paying attention all along, there would be no need for term limits or tea parties.

It is thrilling to see the crowds, peacefully assembling, as our Constitution allows, in our capitol cities. I can only pray it is not too late to turn this around.

When we studied the Revolutionary War in our homeschool, we learned about the Patriots that had the ability to ignite the public to action. They were called firebrands. Two come to mind: Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry.

Our 2009 Tea Party movement was sparked by Chicagoan Rick Santelli back in February. He isn't exactly a firebrand, but I would have to call him a spark or catalyst of the modern Tea Party movement. Rick has faded into the background, but the idea he kindled is alive and well.

A BIG thank you to all who have participated in Tea Parties and Town Halls this year. We all need to be informed and involved in local, state, and national politics. As we have found out the hard way, autopilot doesn't work too well!

Related reading: Tea Party Rally Sparks Dispute Over Potential Turnout, A House leadership aid warned fellow Democrats in a memo obtained by that up to 2 million people may attend. But conservatives believe Democrats are playing an expectations game to claim the event was a failure.

Read more

UPDATE: Can't believe it: IRS & Census Bureau no longer with ACORN, 11 ACORN workers arrested, and 2 fired?

President Obama, Voter fraud, TAXES

UPDATE: Another ACORN falls from government grace: IRS severs ties with ACORN over scandal Sept. 23, 2009: "The IRS says it is severing ties with ACORN, the community activist group involved in a scandal after employees were caught on video giving advice to a couple posing as a prostitute and pimp"

Last week, ACORN turned in Florida workers on voter fraud charges, (My emphasis) "Armed with a tip from the grassroots group ACORN about its own workers, authorities on Wednesday began arresting 11 people suspected of falsifying hundreds of voter applications during a registration drive last year."

Read more

It takes another Regular Joe to expose the real Obama plan

Conservatives, Health care, President Obama, Socialism / Marxism

Back in October, during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Joe the Plumber asked the president a simple question that exposed Obama's plans to "spread the wealth around." That simple question acted like a firebrand and ignited awareness of what Obama's spread the wealth philosophy really was. If it were not for Joe the Plumber, Obama's true beliefs of spreading the wealth would never have come to light in the way it did.

Last Wednesday night, another Joe, Congressman Joe Wilson, couldn't take it any more and blurted out, "You lie" to the president, during his Joint Session of Congress address, in response to the presidents assertion that illegals would not be covered under his plan. I wonder how many Americans listening to the speech said or thought the same? I know I did.

The media is focusing on the impropriety of the remark, but this wasn't unprecedented. Senator Harry Reid called President Bush a liar and President Bush was booed during his 2005 State of the Union address and the Obama Inaugural pre-introductions. That doesn't make it right, but it is not the first time something of this nature happened.

What Joe Wilson's comment did though was bring to light who Obmacare will and won't cover and the fact that Democrats do not want specificity on legal resident status. Obama still wants to spread the wealth to illegals. (Joe knew that at the committee level the amendments that required verification for residency were defeated.)

"House Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday that, according to a Congressional Research Service report, illegal immigrants would indeed be covered, defending Wilson's assertion even though he called the manner in which he delivered it 'inappropriate' "

Conservatives and many Americans seem to be embracing this second Regular Joe just as they did Joe the Plumber. Why? Because they both resonate with our core beliefs: that what we have worked so hard for shouldn't be spread around to those who do not work or who are not here legally without our consent.

Congressman Wilson has apologized, but some Republicans and many Democrats in Congress still are acting outraged over Joe's outburst. I have to ask, where is the outrage that Obamacare wouldn't prohibit coverage for those here illegally?

Think Joe's famous quote had no affect?

Friday, The White House "vowed that illegal immigrants won't get health care under President Obama;s new plan..." that illegals would be banned from receiving taxpayer funded health care. Of course the bill's language has not changed yet as far as I know.

But then there is that sticky little detail that when California passed "Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot initiative, [which] sought to deny social, educational and health services to immigrants who were in California illegally. It was ultimately overturned," "...the measure was declared unconstitutional in federal court..." No doubt, President Obama knows this. He can vow whatever he likes knowing that the court will strike it down.

If our present health care system stays as it is, at least more taxpayer funded health insurance plans will not go to illegals. Illegals can buy private insurance plans, but at least they are paying for them!

By the way, ObamaCare could cover abortions too. Only the Hyde Amendment would prevent Government health care reform from paying for abortions with taxpayer dollars. But the Hyde Amendment is not permanent; it must be approved each year, and "nothing requires Congress to pass it". If it would fail to pass, taxpayer funded abortion then becomes the default setting, so to speak.

From AUL:" order to prevent federal funding of abortion, health care reform must expressly exclude mandates of any kind for abortion, must not alter prohibitions on federal funding of abortion contained in the Hyde amendment or other provisions of law, and must explicitly ensure that federal funds do not pay for abortion or for plans that cover abortion."

Past posts:

But how would Obama know if health care recipient was legal or not?

Joe the Plumber not real? Too bad Obama's "Spread the wealth around" is

Read more

UPDATE: Come for tea at Milwaukee's own Tea Party: Veterans Park, Sat. Sept. 19, 3-5pm

Conservatives, Special events, TAXES, Constitution

UPDATE: See local news coverage links at the bottom of posting.

The following came to my email in-box from Americas for Prosperity:

Read more

Another planned Brookfield project falls through

City of Brookfield, Development, Elections, THE ECONOMY

Last week BrookfieldNOW reported Major projects falter in down economy, Percheron Square nearing deadline for moving ahead. While I don't wish financial troubles on anyone, I can't say I am sorry to hear these two projects fell through.

I was squarely against both Fountain Brook Crossing and Percheron Square because they both exceeded the original zoning density, Fountain Brook by far was the worst offender.

But as I drove down Greenfield last week, I couldn't help but notice another location where the project fell through. I saw a for sale sign (in photo) on the old Sentry grocery store site at Greenfield Ave. and Calhoun Rd. That original grocery store, as I understand it, was prevented from expanding by the city. Then in late 2003, early 2004(?) a new strip mall was proposed that was in the newer Modified Suburban Overlay configuration, with parking right up to the residences back yards to the north. That was defeated in a rare city hall fight that resolved in favor of the neighborhood. Then there was a proposal for an acceptable strip mall that had the standard parking in the front- shops in the back design. Neighbors liked it but the city balked because it wasn't fancy enough. At last another strip mall was proposed, was it called Deer Creek Commons or something like that? That was favored by the neighborhood and the city. Alas, it is not to be. The economy did it in?

Many of us in Brookfield believe our community is getting overcrowded and over-saturated with unnecessary development projects. Since we cannot maintain occupancy on what we already have, and traffic on busy streets such as Bluemound and Capital Drive and even Greenfield is already problematic, why increase the density each time a new proposal comes our way? (Increased density increases profit for the developer.)

This photo is of the former Flanners on Bluemound. It has been empty for several years now.

In Brookfield these days, we don't have much new development, just new locations. The old ones seem to remain vacant. To name a few, Park Bank moved from Bluemound and Pilgrim to Greenfield and Vista View. Ethan Allen Furniture moved from Capital Drive. Last time I looked, the Capital location was vacant.

I believe Brookfield needs more diversity in their development projects. The old Quebecor site was quickly pushed into mixed use from manufacturing. The city may have had their reasons, but how many mixed use condo, apartment, and retail locations do we need? How many can we support?

As I fequently quip, how many nail salons does a city need? (Nail salons being my poster child of unnecessary retail, since I could live my entire life without setting foot in one.)

Fountain Brook, last I heard, was still on the table with the original, less dense zoning. It was to have been a medical and dental complex. That would be a good example of good development; something that even in a down economy that would attract users. I hope it is successful.

Development and density was a key issue in the 2006 mayoral election. It will be interesting to see who will run for mayor in 2010 and what their development philosophy is.

Past Posts: January 12, 2008 Fountain Brook Crossing: Big building, big zoning, big precedent, big mistake
January 13, 2008 Fountain Brook Crossing: 2 unbelievably big buildings
June 8, 2008 VK's Percheron Square A.K.A. Ruby Farm proposal heads to plan commission Monday, 7pm
June 9, 2008 No Surprise, Percheron Square PDD passed first hurdle, or should I say jump
July 28, 2008 Testing the Waters: VK, McCain, and Elmbrook Swim Club

Read more

A peach of a year... literally!

Just for fun!, Gardening, Food, Living well on less $, Weather

Blog post with more photos

I was just about to give up on my 2 peach trees since I hadn't had a real harvest in several years.

In fact, I've barely had a bloom in recent memory. Was their absence of bloom due to Wisconsin temperatures returning to former colder norms, I wondered, after those warmer temperatures of the 1990s?

But this year I was pleasantly surprised: my trees bloomed last spring! The blossoms were sparse, but they were there. Pretty amazing when you consider our cold, long winter.

My peach trees are the children of a volunteer tree in my yard. The parent tree just appeared one year and I was fortunate enough to recognize the leaf as being a fruit tree. I am guessing a squirrel must have planted it either from a pit taken from an area peach tree or one scavenged from someone's garbage. Since the mystery tree was growing at the edge of my yard, I just let it grow until it matured enough to bloom. (I usually do this with unknown plants and have often been pleasantly surprised.) One year I was given a very unexpected Mother's Day present: my little tree was covered in pretty pink blossoms. It was a peach tree!

That first tree was a great producer. I picked several grocery bags full of delicious freestone peaches that year and for several after. Because my tree started ailing, and it's location wasn't great, I planted a few pits to start new trees. That is how I got my present 2 trees.

Peach trees are rather fragile. I had read that even in commercial orchards, they often only live for 15 years. Since my trees are the standard height, they want to get tall and leggy instead of being an easy to harvest dwarf type. Still, free is good, and homegrown peaches are a real treat.

We are on the borderline of the peach belt temperature wise, but there are some varieties that are more cold tolerant. Thankfully, my peaches were the freestone variety. I have never had to spray them or use chemicals either. My fruits sometimes have dots on the skins but this does not affect the inner fruit.

I have spotted a few apricot trees in the neighborhood, but never a peach. Maybe this fall during the great nursery stock markdown sales at gardening centers, you might decide you want to try your hand at peaches. If the tree is inexpensive enough, what do you have to lose? Give them a try.

This year's harvest of 50* or so fruits was enough to give me hope for future harvests from my 2 trees. I sure enjoyed those past years of bounty, having peaches-o-plenty to eat for weeks, share with neighbors, and make a freezer full of homemade peach pies. As most gardeners say, maybe next year will be the year of plenty again?

*Although my trees had a pretty decent bloom and weather cooperated allowing blossoms to set fruit, I lost the majority of tiny peaches in a strong rain.

Read more

10 years of sleeping on air

In praise of..., Living well on less $, Innovation

Recently, there have been some local commercials advertising their double sided mattresses over others single sided mattresses. The double you can flip; the single sided manufacturers say you don't need to flip. I didn't even know there were single sided mattresses, but the idea that you don't have to flip them seems far fetched. I have to think not flipping would result in a mattress sagging much faster?

But I have not flipped our mattress since we purchased it in 1999 and it is still as perfect as day one. Why? Because it is an air bed, not an inner spring, and we love it.

Even after 10 years, we often still say, I love this bed, when we crawl in at night. I am glad I don't have to flip it either. I used to single-handedly do battle flipping our former innerspring queen size. It was challenging back then; I can't imagine doing it now that I am 10 years older!

Because we were disappointed in the past by how quickly even a good mattress started to sag, we looked into getting an air bed. We checked out the mall air bed models and decided air was the way to go.

It wasn't until I looked for an under-bed drawer platform to set the air bed onto, that I discovered the Anderson Bed Co. ad in the back of my Martha Stewart magazine. It was there I saw their version of the air bed, the Ultimate Bed. We chose the Ultimate Bed over the Sleep Number bed because the Ultimate had a layer of memory foam on the top and used wool in their mattress pad.

The beauty of an air bed is that there is no sagging. It does lose a little air over time, but you just push the individual inflate controller and it pumps to desired firmness. I also sleep better on air. Because the 2 sides of the bed are separated, I don't notice when husband rolls over. There isn't that ripple effect of movement that used to wake me up.

Sleeping on air is a different experience. You nestle in and tend to stay in one position longer which gives a better night's sleep. That is especially important for light sleepers.

The Ultimate Bed is one of the few examples of new and improved that truly is. I highly recommend it. Check it out for yourself. Granted, the price was higher than a traditional innerspring mattress, but considering it is still as good as day 1 ten years later, we figured it would pay off in the long run.

As for the drawer platform, we got ours at PM Bedroom Gallery on Bluemound Road. It was more standard in height than the one Anderson offered and so our air bed looks just like a regular bed.

So that is my testimonial on sleeping on air, in case you were thinking about a new mattress and wondered what those air beds are like. Other family members have purchased Sleep Number beds and like them too. Either way, air beds arrive in a big carton and require a little set up. It is pretty straight forward. My 10 year old did it for me. If you move, you just disassemble. I do rotate the 3 sections of memory foam from time to time, but these are light weight -- nothing like my fights with the innerspring.

Whichever company you decide on, with air, you'll never flip again!

I am not affiliated at all with the Anderson Manufacturing Company, nor do I receive any compensation for my opinion. This piece was posted purely for information purposes.


Read more

Have you seen "Where's George"?

Just for fun!

Where's George? George who?

Why, George Washington! George Washington on the face of the U.S. dollar.

I received one of these specially stamped dollars in change at Yellowstone National Park this summer on August 22nd. Having never seen or heard of Where's George before, I said to my son, What is this? He knew. (How is it they always know?)

He explained that you can go to the Where's George? website and enter the serial number and find out where the dollar has all been.

I did that with mine and found this: "Stamped on 8/20/09 in Eagle, Idaho. My oldest son and I spent it on 8/21/09 to get gas at a Chevron Station in Twin Falls, Idaho, while on a weekend road trip to Utah Olymipc Park in Park City, Utah!"

That meant it traveled from Park City, Utah to Yellowstone in just one day. I wrote how, when, and where I got my George when I registered mine. The website will notify me of the bill's travels via email. Tracking it's travels seems a fun thing to do.

Other denominations can be tracked as well, on up to Ben on the $100 bill. Where's George used to sell rubber stamps to neatly mark the bills. They must have stopped doing that, so people are just marking them themselves. (I wouldn't mark any, but I will keep track of the one I found. If you look at the frequently asked questions, it basically explains this isn't considered defacement as long as it is done neatly and doesn't render the bill unusable.)

So, where do you think George will show up next?

Post Script: George and I parted company at Disney World. Will someone else log in to see where it came from? I guess I just wait and see.

Read more

Parents knew nothing of Obama-adoration songs at school

Education, President Obama

Do you know what your kids are learning at school? Parents in New Jersey were surprised to learn that a few of their children were (reportedly) taught some very pro-Obama songs about "all [his] great accomplishments" as part of Black History month. Keep in mind, Black History month is in February. President Obama only took office toward the end of January! What accomplishments?

Video of 18 grade school kids singing a pro Obama song to the Battle Hymn of the Republic tune was bad enough. It could be worse, I suppose; at least they didn't include the line, "His truth is marching on." The chant that was styled on the spiritual, "Jesus Loves the Little Children" that included the line, "red, yellow, black or white, All are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama," was over the top. (The real song lyrics are Red and Yellow, Black and White, All are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.) "Click here to see the full lyrics to both songs."

Funny how we can use the president's middle name now, isn't it?

FOXNews reported parents' reaction to the songs:

"The video has set off some families in Burlington, who said they were horrified that their children at the being 'indoctrinated' to view the president like a cult figure."

"'I'm stunned -- I can't believe it's our school,' said Jim Pronchik, who told his 8-year-old son Jimmy was one of the 18 students in the video. 'We don't want to praise this guy like he's a god or an idol or a king or anything like that. That's the wrong message to be sending.'"

Read more

Dangerous month, dangerous world, dangerous ideas

President Obama, United States, War

There were 2 terrorist arrests last week in the United States. One was an illegal alien, a young Jordanian who attempted to blow up a downtown Dallas skyscraper. The other was an Illinois man, a convert to Islam, who tried to blow up a federal building in the state capital, Springfield.

But that is not all, "The Justice Department said the case was unrelated to another suspected terrorism plot in New York, where an Afghan-born man was charged with conspiring to launch a bombing attack in the United States..."

That would be the "Bomb plot suspect said to have eyed 9/11 attack" case. "The Afghan-born man at the center of an anti-terrorism probe was determined to make a bomb and perhaps detonate it in New York City on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, before he was thwarted by authorities, a U.S. prosecutor said on Friday."

And there was the planned assault on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, by 2 of the 7 suspects arrested for overseas terrorist attacks. One of the men was a US citizen, the other from Kosovo, but here legally.

The point of all this? We live in dangerous times. September 11, 2001 may have been 8 years ago, but the terrorist threats and plots are still there, despite the U.S. electing President Barack Obama. It doesn't seem the terrorists love us any more than they did under President Bush.

As for our dangerous world, today Iran conducted its 3rd round of missile tests. Venezuela is exploring uranium deposits with Russia and China will display their missiles in their 60th anniversary parade, to name a few more examples of weapon expansion.

Just last week we learned that Iran admitted the existence of a 2nd Uranium enrichment plant. "'Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow,' Obama said Friday, detailing how the facility near Qom had been under construction for years without being disclosed, as required, to the International Atomic Energy Agency. 'International law is not an empty promise.'"

But who is to say Iran must follow those rules? President Obama just addressed the UN, "But make no mistake: this [world's problems] cannot be solely America's endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone. We have sought - in word and deed - a new era of engagement with the world. Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges"

Obama wants a nuke free world. "First, we must stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the goal of a world without them. ...For decades, we averted disaster, even under the shadow of a super-power stand-off. But today, the threat of proliferation is growing in scope and complexity. If we fail to act, we will invite nuclear arms races in every region, and the prospect of wars and acts of terror on a scale that we can hardly imagine."

And the action needed? Disarm.

"America will keep our end of the bargain. We will pursue a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. ...We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts, and reduces the role of nuclear weapons. And we will call upon countries to begin negotiations in January on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons."

Read more

Watch Ken Burns' National Parks: America's Best Idea series on PBS or online

History, National Parks, TRAVEL, United States

Last night, the first in a series of 6 programs on America's National Parks aired on PBS. The remaining programs will be shown this week.

In case you missed last night's, or are unable to see them all, they are also available to view online the day after they appear on TV until October 9th.

Being avid National Parks fans at our house, we watched Episode 1. It highlighted the early history of the National Parks concept and our nations first 2 National Parks: Yosemite and Yellowstone*. Yosemite was the first land set aside by an act of congress; it was put under the jurisdiction of the state of California.

But the program raised an interesting question: had Wyoming been a state at the time Yellowstone's 2 million acres were designated as a park in 1872, would it be just another state park like Yosemite or National Park?

In any event, I am grateful it was set aside for the enjoyment of the people--we sure enjoy it! Pictured is Beehive geyser, a name given to the dome shaped cone by the 1870 Washburn expedition mentioned in the program.

(Beehive's plume can reach to about 200 feet tall. Very impressive, especially because you view it from close range--so close you sometimes get wet!)


Read more

UPDATE: Brookfield residents, be on the lookout, call police

Alert, City of Brookfield

UPDATE Friday morning: I just spoke with Lt. Millard, who helped clarify some terms and information. Changes will be in bold italics.

Last Saturday, I received an email alert concerning suspicious door to door salesmen in the Weston Hills subdivision on the southwest side of Brookfield. This was the second time these salesmen had come to that neighborhood.

Evidently, the (Town) police were patrolling and looking for an older blue van with men selling cleaning products at dusk on Friday. The salesmen were going door to door, being rude, and asking odd questions like, "Can you tell me where the cool people in the neighborhood are?"

They also asked for a bottle of water and got angry when the homeowner said they didn't have any.

Just so you know, the men were in their early 20s and were NOT ethnic minorities.

I called the City of Brookfield police number on Saturday to find out if there were other complaints. The woman who answered the phone at the office said she had not heard of any, but that I should call the Community Officer on Monday.

On Monday, I spoke to Lt. Mark Millard, Brookfield's Community Officer and asked him about the odd behavior of those door to door salesmen in Weston Hills. He said he hadn't heard about it. I said that since Brookfield changed to the combined dispatch in Waukesha, I found I was less likely to report or call to ask about suspicious behavior. He said that others felt much the same but Brookfield police do want to know about ANYTHING suspicious going on in our city. He urged that we should not hesitate to call them.

But who do we call?

Read more

Page Tools