I am very sorry for not posting to this blog for a long time. We had a large event to put on late last month, and things have been increasingly busy as the number of surrenders to the shelter has increased, the number of incoming cats and kittens has skyrocketed, and the adoption rate has slowed a bit. We have a massive amount of animals here. Our staff is working like crazy, our volunteers have been here non-stop making sure the animals are being exercised and socialized, and there is no end in sight.
One of my favorite movies is National Treasure, another in a long line of Jerry Bruckheimer masterpieces. Bruckheimer is a film-maker extraordinaire, and has proven time and again that excellent cinematic entertainment is possible without heaping gobs of gore, violence, or gratuitously overdone sex upon the viewers. Treasure is certainly fanciful, but is full of winsome adventure, romance, history, and humor, and is a great film for for all ages.
There is a pivotal scene in the movie where Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) and his sidekick Riley are gazing at the original Declaration of Independence in the National Archives. While reading aloud an exerpt, Gates pauses to comment to his friend, "You know - people don't talk like that anymore".
Our van is used for more, than just, basic transportation:
When hunger strikes, it becomes,
It's Independence Day! A day set aside to celebrate the birthday of our nation.
The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence states:
While evidence mounts that the planet is NOT warming, the US House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade (Tax) Bill anyway, by just 5 votes. The Cap-and-Trade Tax bill then went to the US Senate.
The headline "Storm Brewing" and the awful creative picture of Brewer manager, Ken Macha, in a rowboat in shark infested waters is an example of amateur journalism.
Baseball history in Milwaukee/Wisconsin is etched in stone about the Milwaukee Braves (World Series champions and Yankee killers) leaving for Atlanta because, in part, the the press was overly critical of the team.
Well, isn't this refreshing; a report on the Tea Party movement from someone who attended and gets it!
Yesterday the JournalSentinel newsstand copy and the internet version both gave us the good news that WE Energies announced a 7 percent rate increase. This should be a call to arms for local tax payers. What would we think if the headline read: "7% property tax increase proposed ". This would spark a minor insurrection and state legislators would have TABOR enacted in no time. So far, I haven't heard a word of protest. This 7% increase wil be loaded onto the residential electric bill of property tax paying home owners beause of a projected 13.6% drop in electricity sales to LARGE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL CUSTOMERS. Why not make the big users make up the shortfall? WE Energy pays no local property taxes in spite of the fact that they have tens of thousands of utility poles, transformers and other facilities in the city that are tax free. We energies pays only a nominal permit fee for pavement cuts to access their facilities. Not only that, but their heavy equipment puts stress on local streets every day. and street obstructions are usually cauaed by utility trucks.
Now for those profits! Their profits increased by 7% in 2008 ($33.56 mil) and another 1% in 2009 ($3.6 mil) while revenues are declining! Why doesn't this compute? In a severe recession let profits go.
Barbie, the eternal 20-something fashion doll born in 1959, turned 50 this year. Although Barbie made her debut in March of 1959, the celebrations seem to be continual. (You can tell the baby boom is aging when our toys hit the big 50!)
This week, Barbie collectors and fans are meeting in Washington DC for the National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention's Fiftieth Anniversary Gala party. A friend of mine is there right now celebrating everything Barbie. It sounded like fun.
That got me to thinking...if you have daughters and are looking for something fun to do this summer, why not hold your own Barbie 50th Birthday party?
Invite a few friends over for lunch and don't forget to invite the Barbies too. If it is barbecue / picnic fare, then guests and Barbies dress for that. If your gathering is more like high tea, then the girls and Barbies could don their best. Maybe they could try to dress alike?
Moms could come too--maybe some still have their Barbies--then you could do Barbie Through the Decades.
Barbie is somewhat controversial in some circles, but I really enjoyed mine. I still remember the excitement on the day my sister and I went to the downtown Boston Store to purchase our dolls. The price was $3.00! The outfits in the little catalog/magazine ran $1.00 to $6.00. Most were in the $2.00 - $3.50 range. They were beautifully made.
My sister and I would play Barbies together and with our friends from about 4th grade through Jr. High. Mattel didn't have the Barbie Dream House back then. Instead, we used our imagination and whatever we could find to simulate a house, etc.
Although I was just a child, I was enamored by the attention to detail in the clothing construction and accessories. Pictured are my 2 favorite Barbie outfits: the casual outfit featured real cork mule sandals and blue jeans with top stitching and a zipper fly, the coat and dress ensemble included a purse with comb and brass compact. The compact, the size of an aspirin, was monogrammed with a B and opened to reveal a mirror and powder puff. (Wish I knew where that went!)
I noticed that I have something in common with both Barbie dolls. When I dressed them up for their photos today, I had a hard time getting their pants and dress zippers zipped! Could it be Barbie is suffering from middle age spread too?
That's right. For children going into K4 through 6th grades this fall, there be Buried Treasure to be found in Brookfield. Actually, Buried Treasure is the theme of this summer's Vacation Bible School at Brookside Baptist Church next week, July 13 - 17th, 6:25 - 8:30pm.
There will be skits, games, refreshments, missionary stories, Bible verses and Bible lessons. The kids have a blast. Take a look at some of the things they did last year.
Bibliophiles and readers rejoice - on August 11 Pat Conroy will release his latest novel entitled, South of Broad.
A journalist once asked Winston Churchill if he had read a colleague's last book. "I certainly hope so", chortled the irrepressible statesman. Contrary to Churchill's view of his associate's writing; I hope this is not Conroy's last book. But it is his first release in many years, and cause for great anticipation.
When I was in 2nd grade, our librarian, Miss Pills--yes, that really was her name--would read to us every week. She introduced us to the adventures of Elmer Elevator in a series of books written by Ruth Stiles Gannett: My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland.
Elmer is an appealing character for children. He's an inventive boy who in the 1st book, McGivers his way across a dangerous, crocodile infested river to rescue a baby dragon. Cleverly, he rubber bands lolly pops to each of the gators' tails. They become so interested in licking their neighbor's sucker, they form a stepping stone like crocodile bridge across the water. Elmer then walks across their backs and rescues the dragon.
More than anything, we enjoyed hearing about Elmer's friendship with Boris, the young dragon, who would allow Elmer to ride on his back when he flew. In the 2nd book, we soon found out that dragons love to eat SKUNK CABBAGES! "...Elmer threw down the [skunk] cabbages one by one, and the dragon caught each cabbage in the air, laughing and crying at the same time because he was so happy and hungry and thirsty."
Now, as a child, I thought a skunk cabbage was just a fanciful vegetable crafted in the author's imagination. It really wasn't until I moved to Brookfield and ventured into our neighborhood's Kinsey Park creek streambank area that I discovered they were indeed a real plant.
Skunk cabbages, as their name infers, have something in common with the skunk: they stink. Thankfully, the plants don't stink all the time, just don't crush or rip the leaves! (You shouldn't do that anyway; the plants are protected in some states.) Their flowers are not showy, but they are interesting. They come up in the early spring before the leaves appear. From the illustration in the Elmer book, it looks like dragons prefer the blossoms to the leaves. (Flower photo from Wikipedia)
The plants grow along streambanks. Kinsey Park used to have a much larger skunk cabbage population until the DNR's streambank restoration project bulldozed the area in 2003. Fortunately, a few survived and are making a slow comeback. I also spotted some along the Calhoun Road creek, just north of North Avenue. I would think they could be found in most Brookfield wetlands. This time of year, the 1 - 2 foot tall plants are pretty easy to identify.
I read the books with my son when he was young, and he enjoyed them as much as I did. They are each under 80 pages long with lots of illustrations and are easy to read. The Brookfield Library has all 3 in their collection. Maybe your children would enjoy reading the books with you this summer? Then you can go in search of skunk cabbages, but be on the lookout for dragons!
If you have been following the save the Siepmann Farm House issue at Brookfield's Stonewood Village, you know that back in May, it looked like it would join the scrap heap of Brookfield's historic buildings. In my May 18th post, Stonewood Village's Siepmann farm on chopping block at Tuesday's Common Council meeting, I asked, "...can't we find some way to save the Siepmann farmstead and still do the wedding center?" and then urged that readers contact their aldermen.
The Siepmann Farm Homestead is a good example of a reader suggested blog topic. The morning of May 18th, someone sent me an email regarding moving or razing the Siepmann home. Since I thought it a worthy topic, I blogged about it.
Shortly after that, I took some pictures of Stonewood Village and the house in question and blogged about it again on May 21st : How much to raze Siepmann Home? asking the question is it cheaper for the developer to give the building and $10,000 or raze it? That post prompted a lot of comments--some not too complimentary to me.
But as I chewed on how could the house be saved and still do the wedding center as the developer desired, a thought came to me while replying to a comment: put the connector road in front of the Siepmann home. (Pictured) If I had not been out to the site, I doubt I would have thought about it. (No doubt, the city staff and aldermen who were familiar with Stonewood thought about this too.)
I commented, "...When I was there, it seemed there would be room for the connector road to be built in front of the home? Possibly that could be the solution to saving the home (in place) and still connecting the parking lots? If that frontage road is a violation of set backs, maybe this is where the Common Council could grant a variance?"
I think my exchange with Im Thinkin in the comments was constructive. (Showing that constructive comments can be helpful!) Excerpt from Im Thinkin:
"...The owner can do what he wants with his property. I think the best way to save the farmhouse is by convincing the owner that the house is what makes Stonewood Village unique, not just another strip mall. If the house qualifies for historic registry, the owner could probably get some tax breaks too. The Council vote will give Brookfield residents a little time to speak up about historic preservation. I plan to contact the mayor and my alderman and insist that they approve a plan that doesn't include tearing down an important piece of our history. Maybe a variance, as Kyle suggests, is in order here. Once this farmhouse is torn down, it's lost forever. Let's speak up before it's too late."
I contacted my alderwomen on May 21st, asking if there could be a compromise.
My alderwoman Lisa Mellone made some phone calls and further nudged the Siepmann into the saving direction rather than the razing. Along with a combination of publicity, the Elmbrook Historical Society, and city staff, Dan Ertl I am told in particular, and of course, developer 4S worked together to get us to this point. Brookfieldnow also made it the topic of a comment poll.
Saving the Siepmann, by allowing a variance for the connector road to run in front of the home, just won unanimous approval by the Brookfield Board of Appeals on July 10th.
Yesterday, July 13th, Brookfield's Plan Commission recommended approval of the new frontage road placement by a vote of 5-2. Brookfield's Common Council will vote on the new design on July 21st at City Hall. The meeting starts at 7:45pm.
I know some Stonewood Village neighbors are concerned that saving the Siepmann will lead to increased density at the Wedding Center. I don't blame them. They are still licking their wounds over Capitol Heights. So far, increased density is not an issue with developer 4S.
Ultimately, I hope the council will approve the new design and keep the Siepmann home in place. Again, I urge you to contact your alderman regarding the Siepmann decision.