Monday, December 24, 2012

Winston's Christmas - Part Two

This is re-posted from last year.  Lots of tech problems with the DSL network - Merry Christmas from ATT!

Follow this link to Part One, if you're tuning in late.

Back to The Plan 
As he watched the truck recede into the distance, with his Christmas list on the old leather front seat, Winston stood stunned for a moment. "Maybe I don't have the list, but I've got most of it memorized!” There was no time to waste, now. Winston ran back up the hill to his bike. His feet mercilessly pounded the pedals of his trail bike slamming it into Turbo Warp Velocity. His head was swirling with the items of his list, trying to remember all of them, letting none slip away. As he reached the Brookridge Mall, Winston hit the ground running, leaving his bicycle on its side right next to the main entrance. He ran to the center court of the mall.

 But, something was wrong. It was too quiet in there, hardly any people. Santa was not in his customary place. “Maybe he's on his break” Winston hoped frantically to himself. 'Here Comes Santa Claus’ was blaring frantically from the ceiling, a jabbering chorus of of annoying adults trying to sound like annoying children.

A voice interrupted the music. “It is now 3:55 p.m. The Brookridge Mall will be closing in five minutes. Happy Holidays” The music cut back in, a frantic cacophany of Deck the Halls with blaring guitars and artificial snare drums.

Eyes wide with panic, Winston cut through Santa's village over to the registration desk. A teenager in an elf costume was talking on her cell phone. He tugged at her sleeve, to get her attention. She snapped her head around and glowered at Winston.

“Where's Santa?” Winston nearly shouted.

The elf-girl, annoyed, said “I'm sorry, we're closed.”

“I’ve got to see Santa!” Winston tried to keep the panic out of his voice.

“I SAID, I’m sorry, we’re closed. I need you to leave, now. Have a nice day.”

As he left, Winston said under his breath, “I need you to fall off a cliff”

And the cold, gray reality came rushing around him like an icy fog. Winston was too late. Jagged fragments of his utterly failed plan fell about him as he slouched out of the mall, and back into the cold late-afternoon sunlight. Santa would never know, now, what he wanted for Christmas. Even the reconstructed list (which could possibly be missing a few items) was worthless now. Just as his brother had been telling him -- Santa would make the assumption, since he hadn’t heard from Winston, that Winston didn't want anything at all this year for Christmas. Or, worse yet, Santa would think that Winston didn't believe in him.

As he headed back up the hill, he came to the spot where he had met the truck. He could see the skid marks his bicycle had made earlier, back in a happier time when he had been a Robot Ranger traveling full of hope at Turbo Warp Velocity. He had been on a mission - a Robot Rangers Expedition. Winston stopped his bicycle, no need to hurry now, and looked back down the hill. Under the last reddish glow of sunset, the lights of the town below were coming on. In the wind-less, chill silence, Winston realized how seriously his mission had failed. “Operation Giftwrap”— indeed. His words came back to mock him.

“Well, at least I got that old man’s damn truck started!” he said to himself, fighting back the tears. “I hope that old fool has a nice Christmas, in his stupid old truck!” In the early evening sky, a falling star winked brightly and briefly, or maybe it was just one of the town lights distorted in a tear.

Back home, Winston passed unnoticed through the front hallway, where his sister was on the phone with one of her girlfriends. “Yes, a pen and pencil set. A Stupid Pen and a Stupid Pencil in a little velvet box. Yes, I showed him the necklace in the catalog. But my father said 'it wouldn't be appropriate'. Too young, my eye! I'm 16.

A Valuable Lesson
In the living room, his older brother Joshua had already opened his present from Mom and Dad — a Remington manual typewriter. "Back to basics" his father had reasoned. “Computers make things too easy, and the Internet takes all the challenge out of doing research.” Joshua poked listlessly at the keys, pressing them randomly, just for the old-time sound they made as they hit the paper.

Winston, sat down, talking to nobody. From the kitchen, he could hear his father's voice talking to his mother “This should teach him a valuable lesson in cooperation”. Great. His own parents turned against him, too! A valuable lesson! That’s what he’d be getting for Christmas. A valuable, bleak, hopeless and empty lesson. He pretended not to hear, just staring straight ahead without seeing. .

A sound penetrated Winston’s thoughtful wall of despair. A regular thumping noise seemed to come from inside the wall of the living room next to the front door, repeating at one-second intervals. From the kitchen, Winston's mother said, “Winston, what's that noise? What's going on out there? ”

Joshua could see that Winston was just sitting limply in his chair. He taunted — “Maybe it's Santa's reindeer on the roof with your stuff. Maybe we should all go out and help you bring in the big haul! HAHAHAH!” Winston jumped up, ready to punch his brother, but paused when the thumping noise stopped.

The sound of a truck door slamming. Winston froze as, one second later, an explosive POW! was followed by a deep roaring engine-sound that resonated with something recent in his memory. Winston bounded for the front door, and ran out onto the lawn looking down the road. But all he could see was a cloud of dense dark-gray smoke covering the road, tinged blue in the cold Christmas Eve moonlight. The engine sound was fading, and Winston thought he heard someone shouting “Merry Christmas” over the engine's roar.

Winston turned back to the house. It was unbelievable. The thumping sound they had all heard was explained. Packages were stacked on the front porch, on both sides of the front door. The veranda was FULL of gift-wrapped presents, and all of them had Winston's name on them!

Joshua put the typewriter in the attic, only to discover it a few years later. The attic became his “garret” from which he still writes all of his best-selling novels.

Megan began doodling with her pen and pencil set, and, as anyone who frequents art galleries will tell you, the rest is history.

And Winston? — Well, let's just say, he's in the Package Delivery business. And, yes, he works on holidays...

Merry Christmas!  "God Bless Us, Every One!"

The preceding is a work of fiction. If you notice any resemblance to real persons living or dead, then I did it right.  It was originally written for a Christmas variety show about 10 years ago, and has been re-written many times since.  Maybe this is it.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winston's Christmas - Part One

This is reposted from last year - I'm working on only a dial-up modem until after New Year's thanks to ATT.  Thanks for your patience, and Merry Christmas!  Part Two tomorrow!

One week before Christmas .
“Hey, kid, I don't care if you don't get any presents or not, but no matter what you say to Santa Claus, if Mom and Dad don't find out what you want for Christmas, you won't get anything!”   With Christmas less than two days away, Joshua was trying to reason with Winston, his younger brother.  

But Winston held his hands up, covering his ears. “Nope. Santa Claus is the only one who can handle a list this big. ”

“Hey, Nitwit! . Do you really think you're going to get everything on that list anyway? It must be eight pages long”

Nine,” Winston snapped.

"What Ever!” Joshua shouted, pulling out his I-phone. After a few flicks and clicks he quoted stridently: “Do you realize that if each child in the world gets nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set at 2 pounds net weight, Santa’s sleigh would be carrying 321,300 tons, and that’s not counting Santa himself. Conventional reindeer in the Ukraine can pull no more than 300 pounds. So we'd need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Just for comparison, this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.”

Oh why don't you just take your facts and go text them to somebody!” Winston snarled.

“.... Just sayin’ “  Joshua taunted back.

Christmas Eve
It was THE DAY OF. . . Winston had eluded his family's repeated entreaties to please let them know what was on his Christmas list.  These now-wrinkled pages were Winston’s most carefully guarded possession.  “For Santa's Eyes Only”.

His parents were frustrated to the point of anger. It would probably teach them all a good lesson if nobody got anything this Christmas.” Winston's father said loudly his mother, in hopes of being overheard by the children.

The Plan

But now, it was three o'clock, and deployment of The Plan commenced right on schedule.  In scripted moves that he had been rehearsing for weeks, Winston jumped into his parka, grabbed the neatly-folded list, threw on his gloves, jammed on his helmet, and stormed out through the kitchen into the garage. Through his head was racing the theme song from “Robot Rangers”, his favorite Saturday morning show.  Winston was a card-carrying Robot Ranger. He was well-versed in the techniques and strict training the Rangers used to "Keep the World Rolling by being Ready".

He punched the garage door opener button - he adjusted his helmet as the door rumbled up. Then he pushed the “down” button, meanwhile jumping on his all-terrain bicycle and streaking out of the garage before the door closed, missing his rear fender by fractions of an inch.. His bicycle was a specially modified Robot Rangers Turbo Cycle. It gave him a feeling of independence to be able to ride the half-mile down to the mall whenever he wanted to, without asking his parents or his brother or sister for a ride.

Winston spoke through his imaginary helmet microphone to an imaginary control tower as he shot out the driveway. “Robot Ranger Winston leaving exit hatch for completion of Operation ‘Giftwrap’ Fifteen Hundred Hours - over!”. His first burst of energy propelled him to the top of the hill. Once he had crested the hill, it was time to deploy “Turbo Warp Velocity”. Head down, Winston pedaled as hard as he could downhill to achieve as much speed as his trail bike could safely handle, the bike frame nearly disintegrating from the demands of Turbo-Warp Velocity.

Winston glanced up - INFORMATION OVERLOAD!  The first thing he saw was that he was fast approaching a completely blocked road. A stopped truck entirely blocked Winston's downhill lane. A car approaching uphill completely cut off hope to escape to the left. At his present “Turbo-Warp Velocity”, the brakes on his Robot Rangers Trail Bike were incapable of stopping him before he either hit the stalled truck or put himself head-on with the oncoming car.

Snap decision - his adrenaline-pumped system gave him a lucid picture of what must be done. Winston jumped the bike over the shoulder and up the curb - a Robot Ranger was capable of making lightning-fast life-and-death decisions!  As Winston began to congratulate himself on his quick thinking, he tried to bring the two-wheeler to a halt. Although the bicycle had hit the ground on both wheels, still Winston lost his balance. Bike and rider slid on their sides to a skidding halt in the muddy brown grass, stopping halfway past the truck’s right side, muddy but intact.
"You OK?"
From the uphill vehicle, Winston heard the voice of his next-door neighbor shouting at the truck’s driver “Get that heap off of the road if it doesn't run!” and tromped the accelerator to drive away tires squealing and engine revving.  He lay for an instant in the grass. Winston’s jangled eyes focused on the “heap”  At first he saw it sideways, then upright, but some of the details were hard to comprehend at first.  Winston rose to his feet. The truck was black, and old, very old -- an antiquity.  Although it resembled a pickup truck it was like no pickup Winston had ever seen. The headlights stood up on mounts by the front fenders, like an old Model T, and the wheels had spokes. There were running boards under the doors, and the cargo box was made of wood. And the truck was undeniably very heavily loaded; it sat very low on the chassis springs.  An old yellowish-brown canvas tarp was carefully tied over the entire load, so Winston could not see what the truck was carrying. As he watched, from the front of the truck, the engine groaned like a tired, very old horse, and then was silent.  Under the truck, Winston could see the driver's feet as he got out of the truck.

As the driver walked around the truck, Winston got up, and began brushing himself off. The truck's driver was a large, old man with long, curly, gray, almost white hair. He looked at Winston with eyes almost as gray as his hair.  “You OK, kiddo?” the driver asked.

I’m OK, I didn't hit anything. But, Mister -  why did you stop right in the middle of the hill?  Nobody ever parks there.” Winston said indignantly.

"So Far to Go...."
She just quit, and now it sounds like the battery's dead, too.” the old man said. There was a weariness in his voice as he said, almost to himself. “And I've got so far to go...”

Winston knew he had to help this man, however he could. You don’t sit through all those Saturday morning shows without learning the Code of the Robot Rangers.  It’s one of the precepts by which a Robot Ranger lives:  A man's ride is more important than anything else.

That makes two of us, Old Timer”, said Winston in his best Robot Ranger's no-nonsense voice. “Let's see if we can get this thing started... Allow me.” Winston swaggered over to the driver's door, and, although he was not old enough to drive, opened the door and climbed up to sit behind the wheel. Each episode of Robot Rangers contained a semi-educational theme, and Winston always used this as a justification for the vast amounts of time he spent watching the show. Each week, Ranger Bob would explain some scientific principles that made things work, usually transportation-related.  “Don't smell gas, so she ain't flooded” Winston said, sniffing the air. He turned the ignition key. The engine gave a single shudder.  WUH -- and nothing more.

Winston paused, as he remembered Ranger Bob’s imperturbable, calm "airline-pilot voice".  Panic is your worst enemy in an emergency.  Winston thought back to a segment he had seen about Ranger Bob starting an old farm tractor, trying to remember the steps.

Winston said to the old man. “Maybe we can pop the clutch. It's a perfect setup, an old-timer truck, pointed downhill, and all.” Not certain the plan would work, but with nothing really to lose by trying, Winston clicked the ignition key to the right, then got out of the truck. “Now, hold down the clutch” he told the old man, “and I’ll push from behind. When I say NOW!,  you let the clutch go. We’re only going to get one chance at this, so everything’s got to go perfect the first time”  

The old man nodded, and his sad gray eyes looked trustingly at Winston.  The plan was to force the engine to turn, using the truck’s forward momentum to turn the engine, perhaps to start it running. It had worked on that old tractor for Ranger Bob.

The old man climbed into the truck and pushed the clutch pedal down.  Winston got behind the truck, and pushed. Nothing happened.  Even pointed downhill, he had to rock the heavily loaded truck back and forth a few times until it finally started to roll forward. The truck gradually picked up speed. Soon, the truck reached a speed faster than Winston could run. That’s when Winston yelled “NOW!”

The truck lurched, a low groan of overworked metal, and an explosive backfire.  With a low throaty rumble, the engine roared to life. A cloud of blue smoke formed behind the truck, as it roared down the hill. “WOO HOO!” Winston danced a little high-five dance in the road, then suddenly, his face turning to panic, he slapped the pocket of his jacket, and then began running after the truck, shouting, arms waving. “Hey, wait! My list!  It’s on your front seat! Stop!” The truck was already at the bottom of the hill. Winston just stood in the middle of the road. His shoulders sagged as he realized that the black truck was not going to stop. The dull red tail lights receded in the light of the fading Christmas Eve afternoon.

Continued Tomorrow!

background ========================

I wrote this story about 10 years ago for a Christmas variety show. I've been re-writing it ever since.  Hope you can tune in tomorrow for the second part.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Barnyard Bird's Christmas

Technical note:  ATT has provided such useless service that my connection is reduced today to a dial-up modem I improvised without their help.  Sorry for the lack of a picture, but upload speed is so slow, I'm afraid the post would time out before it uploaded.  God bless us, every one.
Did I ever tell you the story of the little barnyard bird?

Once there was a little barnyard bird.  He lived and played all day around the barnyard flying around, sitting on the fences, drinking from the watering troughs, and enjoying his first summer on this beautiful wonderful earth.

But the summer began to fade, things began to change around the old barnyard.  The once-sunny skies were gray, the soft summer breezes grew more harsh and cold

"I can't leave my barnyard.  I've been so happy here, and I'm sure someday I'll be happy again" said the little bird. "But it's so cold here!  I'm shivering so much that I can hardly chirp!"  

And the days got colder still.  The barnyard bird paced in small circles on the floor of the cow-yard, shivering and chirping to himself about how very, very cold he was.  "Oh, what shall I do -- if only I could know a little warmth again" He sang a mournful and sad little bird song.

And then, as if in answer to his prayer, a huge cow-flop fell upon him, completely covering him in an abundant mess of  slimy brownish bovine offal.

A stunned silence.   Then the little barnyard bird poked his tiny head out through the top of the cow-pie, and realized how his life had just been changed in answer to his prayers. The first thing he discovered was that he was no longer cold.  He looked around himself in amazement.  The barnyard was still blowing with blustery winds, the bird was now protected from the sting of the wintery winds by the warmth of his surroundings.  "I may be covered in fresh manure, but at least I'm not freezing any more."  realized the bird. "And, there's even some corn in here"  he said, pecking at the delicacies he had just discovered in his new home.

The little barnyard bird was so happy, that he began tweeting a joyous little Christmas Birdie Song.  The cows in the yard tapped their hooves to the catchy little birdie ditty.  The barnyard pigs grunted in time with the joyous song of winter warmth rediscovered.  The barnyard cat opened an eye, and perked up an ear.  He said to himself, "Now, who can be singing the little Birdie Song so late in the season?"  And looking out at the barnyard, he spotted unlikely sight of the little bird's tiny chirping head poking out of the dung-pile.

The barnyard cat jumped to the top of the barnyard fence, and in a graceful arc, landed on the bird, and swallowed him in one gulp.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall? - PRACTICE!

Mid-December, 1959.  The afternoon sun is so low in the sky that  the classroom is filled with an unaccustomed dazzling brilliance.  Sometimes Miss Schoenicke would even have to draw the drapes across some of the windows, to reduce eyestrain at our desks, or perhaps to keep us from making shadow animals on a neighboring wall. 

This is the time of the season in a parochial school when the three R's became Rehearsal Rehearsal Rehearsal.  The Christmas program was coming up - the Big One.  This one packed TWO services so full you could hear the floors creak and all the normal echoes were absorbed by the intently listening crowds.  We didn't know all this at the time - we would have been terrified.  We were just in first grade, but we could sense that something very very important was in the works.

Even the first grade was expected to pull its own weight.  The relentless pressure and inter-class competition was on.  The regular memory work (you had to memorize a Bible passage or hymn verse and recite it on demand in class) was replaced by recitations and song lyrics from the upcoming program.  And this stuff, you HAD to know.  This wasn't just the Bible, this was something far more important.   Parents were alerted, and my mother heeded the call.  Home became a boot camp of Christmas parts, my brother and sister and I had to recite the day's allotment perfectly, or there would be no peace..  

The time normally spent on many other classroom subjects was now spent in drilling the recitations and songs relentlessly.  Group rehearsals over in the church were a new thing.  The director (Mr. Matthes) was shouting instructions from the balcony, and the school children were arranged by classes in the pews.  It was the first time we had been in the church without being at a service.  We stood and faced the back of the church as our parts came up. Our teacher motioned when we were to rise, and we were all to turn around together, the same way, the same speed, so it looked nice. 

And there were numbers in which ALL the classes were involved. Different age groups learned different vocal parts.  The middle grades did the alto part, or "second voice" as it was called, and the upper grades did the tenor part ("third voice").  We could hear the other classes practicing their parts through the hallway - it was strange that they sang the same songs we were learning but they sang a different melody.  I concluded of course that as one grew older, the melodies one was allowed or perhaps compelled to sing would change. It was such a revelation the first time we, the "first voice" sang the song in the church, and the other grades sang the song with their melody, and together, it was just beautiful.  To be part of something so grand was thrilling to me.  We were all singing the same song, but it sounded so, well, angelic  when the three voices harmonized.  Forget that some of us were singing "glerrrrria" and some were slurring the notes together, sounding sloppy, as the director was quick to point out.  Couldn't he hear how great we sounded?  Let's sing it again!  Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

As my friend Norman, who was also there at the time, said:  "We've provided people with a lot of musical "entertainment", and entertained ourselves along the way.  I think it's been a harder life than I ever imagined it would be, but we got music as the gift, the guide, the goodwill, and the blessing that keeps on giving (on both sides of that coin, if you get my drift).  No good deed goes unpunished.  But for every time it blows up in your face, if you get one smile that wasn't there before, it's worth it.  Plus we got coffee, beer, and tobacco as consolation prizes.  Not bad at all." And I quote him out of context, and without his permission!  Pay as You Go, Dude!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Simulated Alligator Wallet

Re-posted from December 2011.  I've been awfully busy giving my all at a new job.  Maybe you missed this one last year - shame on you!  Julie is too good to be missed, and it was a rare and joyous opportunity to work with her.

The night before the show, Julie called me to ask if I could substitute for an injured piano player - Bette had fallen and could not perform.   A Christmas show - no prob.  I had "done my time" in the Great American Christmas Songbook - if you ever need a piano player or accordioniste for a Christmas show, give me a call - Salvation Army tested and ready to go.  And Bette was not seriously hurt in her fall, she's on the mend, and I hope to see her at our New Year's Day gathering.

It was my privilege to work with Julie Alonzo-Calteaux, one of my favorite Milwaukee singers. With a hurried Saturday morning rehearsal, we made a few adjustments (She didn't think it was appropriate that I sing "Sisters" with her - what a relief!) and by noon we had the show ready to go.

Here's one of the songs from the Saturday show - Thanks to Julie's husband Bill for the excellent camera work.  That's me on piano.  A hilarious rendition of an Alan Sherman parody on the standard "The Twelve Days of Christmas".  

Merry Christmas to you all!. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Seventh Grade.  Hormones stirring.  Adults who had never met you began to have prejudical ideas about you, assuming that all young teens were rebellious.

"Up to this point, you've been spoon-fed on milk."  Mr. David Eggers began.  We were all wondering "Now what did we do?"

He continued.  "You've been sheltered here in a parochial school, and haven't been prepared for the realities of the world."  

"You've all heard about temptation.  But do you know how it really works?  Of course, if the Devil came up to you, and asked you to hold up a bank, most of you wouldn't do that.  But temptation doesn't work like that.  It's not usually that obvious. Here's how temptation really works:"

Mr. Eggers went on to relate a story about coming home from the school late one night (that was about 10 pm back in those days).  Downtown was deserted, and then he spotted his old school friend Arnie, who was now a night watchman, making the rounds.  Arnie worked for the Merchant Police, an organization hired by downtown businesses during the hours that the businesses were closed.  He got out of the car, and walked awhile with Arnie.  They came to a filling station.  Arnie was in charge of re-stocking the soda machine.  Using his key, he opened up the door of the machine, restocked it, then selected a Coke for himself, and one for his old high school chum, Mr. Eggers. 

Mr. Eggers, seeing that nobody was paying for this Coke, that it was "on the house" as it were, (wink, wink), and he hesitated.  "Come on, Dave, have a soda"  Arnie held out the bottle.  Mr. Eggers shook his head. "No, we really shouldn't - it's not...." Arnie forced it into Dave's hand.  

An embarrassed pause.  Mr. Eggers resumed, in a menacing soft voice that always scared me when he used it: "How many of you would have done the right thing, let that bottle fall to the ground, and turned around to run from ... temptation? Regardless of what your friend says to you?  Because THAT's temptation, and no matter how insignificant the amount seems to you, stealing is stealing."

Although I have had lots of disagreements with church doctrines and dogmas since the day I started reading the Bible for myself, I believe that in this world there are not quite as many "gray areas" of uncertainty as people say. Every day one meets "complicated" people who, by insisting that they live "in shades of gray". are merely attempting to avoid accountability for their own actions. 

In this season of light, let the light shine!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas on the Rocks

There was something wrong with my date stamp at work the other day.  I looked down, and the stamp impression on the incoming mail said "Dec 2, 2012".  Then I realized that it wasn't the date stamper that was off, but me.  How did it get to be December - the year has spun by so quickly. More changes in my life than any other year on this earth.  A totally new job, after 30 years at the old one, new friends, new unfamiliar work situations, I'm taking the bus to work instead of my mini-van. I'm working downtown, in a 30-story skyscraper.  And I'm over 60 now.  So, rather confused, still spinning dizzily from the drop-kick of life, I went for lunch at the Cousins Submarine place in the ground floor of the Wells Building, and coming over the speakers was "The Little Drummer Boy"  - not some new contemporary condescending interpretation "Come they told me, look at Mee-Hee-Hee"  No, this was not American Idol, this one was not for the judges, it was for the audience.  This was the Harry Simeone Chorale. They simply told the story they have been telling since the late 1950s.  The little poor boy with "no gift to bring that's fit to give a king", so he plays a tune for the Baby Jesus on his drum. And it simply ends "Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum.  Me and my drum." Gets me every time. Music says things in such a way that you hear something new each time you listen to a song.

But there has been another song has been running through my head lately.  It is one of those Christmas songs that never gets played on the radio at Christmas, but in my family my mother brought out the record every Christmas. So I finally went into the basement, dug it out from box #4H08 in the archives, and uploaded it as an *.mp3.

It's a story told in German about sailors being bashed to bits on the dangerous rocks of the Rhine river, because they were beckoned there by the song of the irresistible Lorelei.  The Lorelei were beautiful sensuous little spiritual songstresses, or Lieden Madchens. .  They appeared to sailors at night, and beckoned them to bring their ships over for... for... well you know what sailors want.  But when the gullible sailors would steer the ship toward the ladies, they would find that they had crashed their ship on the dangerous rocks of the Rhine river - an illusion cast by the wicked but beautiful Lorelei..  Passen sie auf!

So how, may you ask, did this become to be a Christmas tradition in my family?  My mother's favorite Christmas record was the original version of The Little Drummer Boy, by the Harry Simeone Chorale, ask the guy crying in the sub shop. Die Lorelei was on the flip side of the record.  Performance by the Junior Voices of the Harry Simeone Chorale, something like a do-it-yourself Vienna Boys Choir.  So, whenever you'd put on a stack of 45's (try to explain that concept to someone born after 1990... well,  you see each disk has one song on it, and you arrange them on a spindle.... never mind, go flick your little computer thingy....) And when you flip the stack of discs over, the other sides would play.  "Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten, dass ich so traurig bin.", which means "I don't know what it means, this feeling of grayness."

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

7-11 My Lucky Day

It was my lucky day -  the first day of the next part of my life.

The company I worked for for 30 years had closed its doors.  I had stayed on for a few weeks to set up the liquidation site, but that's all done now, too.

I had never been unemployed for more than a week, so I had to be very strict with myself.  There would be no unscheduled moments of the day.

Fernanda at 4pm
By 6 am I'm reporting to my workplace -  but first, Coffee! The only place open at that time of the day is McDonald's - Steve and Mary are both sleeping in, so their places are closed - I know how much Steve needs his beauty sleep... But coffee at McDonald's  - it's not such bad coffee, and it's only $1.00 there, even for a large. And the kids behind the counter are too sleepy even to give you the stupid look.  So, with my coffee and my briefcase in hand, I head to my office - it's actually my wife's office, at the shopping center, but she doesn't get there until two in the afternoon, so don't tell her, OK?   And there, I spend the first four hours of each and every day checking job listings, filling out applications, and updating the resume.
About 90 hours of work

For those of you who haven't looked for a job lately, the shaky clipboard application on a folding chair in front of the personnel office window is a thing of the past.  Online applications are the way it's done now, checked by robots as they are submitted, so that everything is filled out properly. Good thing  about the on-line applications - at big places where there are multiple openings, you can apply for multiple jobs at different times, and be ignored by six or seven people at once, or maybe they even have robots to ignore you, to save them the trouble.

There are robots which read your resumes that you upload as *.pdf files, and the robots sometimes fill out much of the application for you.  They're not to good at getting the information in the right blanks, though, so check their work thoroughly!  I've imagined myself working at lots of places already, and trying to get those places to imagine me there as well.  There was a nasty scam where they created a really attractive job description, and as soon as they had your informatioin, your mailbox fills up with online college recruiters.

Morning View
My web page clients were happy.  I finished everything in-house the first week I was off.  Check out and

And,  betting against myself, I'm beginning to market retirement facilities for daytime music jobs, something I've never been able to offer,  before.  I enjoy playing piano for skilled-care centers, and the residents appreciate my musical tastes more than most other audiences.

So, that's mainly what I've been doing.  Applications and then catching up on stuff around the house later in the day.  I've applied about 10 gallons of Thompson's water seal and nine gallons of paint, 1000 lbs of scalloped paver edge, 10 lbs of Liquid Nails, and 12 lbs of Alex,  in the past two weeks.

I've never been out of work for so long, and I feel funny about being places I never used to be during the daytime, afraid someone will ask "Got the day off?"  But nobody really cares; I should get used to it, and enjoy some of it.  Weekends are different, too.  What are we resting up from?  That's why I've got to be so strict with myself about keeping the hours, and keeping the hours productive. And I'm steering clear of Facebook and Twitter for now, because it's so easy to turn minutes into hours there.  I desperately don't want to become one of those unkempt slugs sitting around Steve's place all day, looking coolly down their noses at someone who comes into the joint with paint on his shirt. They love humanity, but hate people.

So, here I am treading the fine line between sanity and self-respect. I'm writing this because it's raining when I was planning on painting, so the time was an unexpected gift from God.  Thanks!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Things I Didn't Say, Today

Sunday morning.  It promised to be less than 100 degrees today, but I was taking no chances based on past fallacious forecasts.  I got up at 5 am, and I was determined to get the outdoor work done before it got hot out.  My wife was still sleeping, so I had to get out on the wrong side of bed.
I arrived at the job site.  The Beautiful Pagoda needed to be treated with Thompson's Water Seal.  It looks innocent enough from a distance, but once you arrive at the top, you can see that on top of the beams between the pillars holding the whole thing together, a row of joists (there are ten) supports a row of 20-foot long pieces of 2 x 2 treated lumber - 37 individual pieces.  And it all was very dry, thirsting for the 5-Year Protection of Thompson's Water Seal.  Believe me, we've got so much goddam wood that I hold Mr. Thompson personally to that Five-Year thing, and will not re-apply the Water Seal a minute before that five year period has expired.  
Best to start at the top, so that everything drips downward.  The gravity here in Wisconsin is simply overwhelming this year.  I think it's something to do with El Nino.  The 2 x 2 was adequate to support my more-than adequate weight.  But the gravity was very intense on my knees, so I decided to negotiate the job sitting down.  I perched cross-legged on top of the 2x2s, painted three rows, then hopped along to the left, and when I reached the other end of the 20-foot piece, I moved backward, and hopped back to the right.  All in all, just like a little typewriter. Ding!  I must have negotiated about twelve miles on my dupa.  Usually when I work with treated lumber I end up with a nasty sliver, usually under my fingernail.  Well, this time, I got the sliver, but not in the finger.
So, when the fat sow across the street gets out on her front porch and starts pointing and laughing at me, in a mean, cigarette-tainted voice, I was simply not in the mood for levity.  I did not scream to her "I'm closer to heaven up here on the Monkey Bars than you'll ever be, and I've got more than three teeth, too! And I don't sound like a tubercular hyena when I laugh!  ..."

And, when I had finished the job and was heading across KK Avenue to get a coffee at Steve's (10:30 am, my first coffee of the day), the one thing I was hoping not to hear was a lecture on Street Safety.  And yet, some fat ass with a white moustache and an annoying womanish whinny of a voice started to lecture me on waiting for the "walk" light.  I felt fully capable of being able to discern something as large as an automobile, and I didn't tell him that "I don't need the advice of some sissy-voiced walrus who can't cross the street without help from the government.  Look both ways before crossing, you nitwit!".  

And things got worse.  There were people standing around the order desk at Steve's, I presumed that they were waiting for their orders.  I stood by the pastry counter, where you're supposed to stand, to get waited on when your turn comes.  And some little goateed 3g texter, standing on the other side of the register -  got waited on before me with all his #$%# chai with extra espresso shots prepared a certain fussy way, with a sprig of free-range basil, no doubt.  I just wanted a black coffee, and I wanted it now. I didn't tell him "Don't you know, you poor ignorant fool, that the line forms over here?"  Instead, I got behind him, where the rest of the line seemed to be forming, for today.

In front of me was a little girly-boy, he looked kinda like I did in the days when I got beat up a lot, and his mommy.  Mommy told him that he liked the Belgian waffles -- he just wanted to use the bathroom.  He headed for the restroom, and of course it was locked - as any idiot knows, the key for the restroom is kept at the checkout counter.  He returned and found out about the key, while his mother was ordering the Organic Belgian Waffles.  I waited patiently - the Belgian Waffle Experience playing out in slow motion, standing between me and my coffee.

All the while, some dimwit was explaining to someone else in line that he had "taken it to channel 6 and channel 12, and so, they'd have to listen to his side now, in view of his having the media in the palm of his hand.  I had heard this word-for-word screed so many times in my Customer Service days, and was definitely NOT in the mood to hear it repeated again.  No matter what species the insect  chewing at his rectum, I did not care to hear about it.  Not today.  I had been up six hours without coffee, my head was still spinning from the dazzle of the sunlight, and my sliver was hurting.... and, luckily, just as I was about to lose it altogether, my turn in line had arrived.  

Coffee in hand, I fled back to the job site, and enjoyed a new start to my day sitting in the shade on a half-empty can of Thompson's Water Seal.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Notes from the Wasteland

It happened suddenly, not gradually.  Within a span of two weeks my entire work-life experience was demolished. My employer for the last thirty years announced that the business was ending operations, the fixtures and assets would be sold, and that was that!   Outside, a WalMart had purchased the entire block, with the exception of our building and the gas station on the corner.  Here's how demolition sounds from inside the building:  Bang! Boom! Shake! Shudder!  For comparison, here is how excavation sounds:   Bang! Boom! Shake! Shudder!  And construction:   Bang! Boom! Shake! Shudder!   DO YOU KNOW, there are machines designed to do nothing but shake the ground?  Just to make the dirt settle to meet code! It was like being aboard the Enterprise when the shields take a hit. Get me outa here, Scotty! Those dinosaur-size machines even tore up the road in front of our place.  No sidewalk!  How am I going to get to the gas station for a Bratwurst?

And there were the Hardhat Guys pacing around continuously all with uniform yellow vests and hard hats.  They all walk at the same relentless marching speed.  I half-expected to hear them chanting "Oh WEE Oh! Wee OHH, Whoa."
And so, all the things near and dear to us, my beat up old 1970s Modular Yellow Desk where I spent thirty years rendering exemplary and astonishing service in the Sales Office. For Sale!
And the old clock that ground our lives to bits:
Industrial photography can be fun:
And then there was the web site I created, and we all worked on it to list everything that we could possibly sell.  Check it out:
Using Microsoft Excel, I found a way to convert the parts department database directly to HTML tables that could be listed on web pages by just cutting and pasting.
And I invented an Excel table that wrote batch files that created HTML pages en masse:
Altogether, because this is "old-school" HTML structure, we created over 1100 HTML files on the site.  It's a Low-Tech masterpiece.  Pure raw power, and no frills. Altogether, according to the backup records, there are now 4200 files created for the liquidation project.

And then there was the marketing.  We're selling ourselves by postcard, by drive-by banners, Craig's List, Ebay.

I was inspired by the way one Ebay user advertised his pallet racks: 
... but I couldn't get Jane (not her name) to pose for the photo.  A few times, we almost sold her accidentally.  "Jane, get out of that pickup truck this instant.  You have to stay and work on the inventory!"
And so, what's next?  We're almost done listing and sifting, and are steadily selling everything, but soon the time will come....
One good thing - last time I checked, the future was still all there!
Happy Independence Day!
Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That Day

Quote from "How to Learn English - A Reader for Foreigners", c.1911 Macmillan Co, New York.
"My sleeping room was very pleasant.  In one corner was an iron bed.  It was painted white.  In another corner was a bureau.  On one side of the room was a washstand.  There were two chairs in the room.  One of the chairs was a rocking-chair.  There was also a closet in the room.  I hung my clothes in the closet.  There was no carpet on the floor.  There were three rugs on the floor.  The room had three large windows.  There were pretty curtains at the windows.  The windows were open at the top.  There was plenty of fresh air in the room. I slept very well."  

This remarkable book came to me on that Tuesday.  In April 2012.  A day of new beginnings.  People always came to America to start over.  Clueless government officials try to force our lives into the crowded backward urban designs they found so charming on their latest European vacations and fact-finding junkets. (Next time you hear a government planner use the word "sustainable", ask yourself what impact the accompanying "sustainable" suggestion will have on private property rights.  You may be surprised.)

As the plans are laid upon the populace, with or without the consent of the governed, one thing they ignore::  With few exceptions, there came a day in the lives of our forefathers when they looked around their smothering tiny European lives and said: "Enough of this!  I'm going to America, where I can breathe free!" People came to America to live their lives in a place where they were free to realize their own dreams, to earn their living, and keep their earnings. (for the most part.)

Stacy (co-worker, not her name) on That Day gave me the book.  She found it in her mother's house. Her mother is making a new start of it in an old folk's home.  Jane, (nope, not her name either- i'm working with complete strangers!) another co-worker was moving her father to a retirement home, and she was organizing all of his things to close down the family house.  The Liquidation Life. A time of new beginnings.

And since that Tuesday, early in April, 2012, I have embarked upon a liquidation project of my own.  I reported to the Day Job, on That Day

There was a short company meeting.  One owner was retiring, and the other owner had sold the business.  That would mean the end of my 30-year employment.   I was invited to stay on as a liquidator until the job was done.  I accepted, and have increased my work hours back to 40 or more (I had been part time).  It's like having all the free drink tickets you want in the Executive Lounge of the Titanic.  "Another cognac, Monseur?  Oh, pay no attention to ze rumbling, it is only ice water"

So, that's where I am now. The Lord of Liquidation. One day we sold six trucks.  SIX TRUCKS!  Sold the gasoline from the underground tanks.  Selling parts back to distributors, at a slight discount.  We sold the company web site, which I've been working on since the year Al Gore invented the World Wide Web, sold to the ones who bought the business.  I created a bare-bones old-school HTML liquidation web site (which rocks!)   I created Excel tables, which create HTML tables from the product data, and Excel pages which create DOS batch files that generate HTML files.  The new web-site contains over 1000 HTML files, and today we launched our first wave of publicity, and got a satisfying response.  In short, everything I've learned in the last 30 years is being poured into this final effort.  I've not even started the job hunt - I should, I've had only one interview, but it feels so good to be working at capacity.  I should spend time working on a show I'm performing the last Saturday in June.  I should spend more time on my own web site clients' projects.  I should be spending more time promoting our vacant rental properties.  And what about all the loyal Excelsior readers?  I miss you all, and I missed Darlene's birthday last week.  Sorry, Darlene - Happy Birthday!

But, right now, there is no time.  I suppose The Time will all arrive at once..... Sooner or later, somebody is going to buy Item 125, at which I spent 30 sorta happy years. So, this year, Independence Day will have a special significance.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Silence

Our train left Union Station in Chicago on time, 8:10 p.m. on Sunday night.  The Amtrak Hiawatha bringing its weary cargo to Milwaukee.  We had been to a trade show.  The usual assortment of shoppers, backpacking overnight visitors from all walks of life filled the train cars to about half-capacity.  

The unseasonably warm weather had turned much cooler, it was clear.  As we cleared the train yards and industrial zones of Chicago, we could see that the moon was out, and some bright planet I should know the name of was very bright, within a few degrees of the moon.  By the light of the overhead fluorescents, and the mini-spot reading lamps over the seats, I went over the purchases of the day with my wife - she runs a women's apparel shop in Milwaukee, and we had just finished the stocking orders for Fall.

And then the lights went out.  All the lights in the entire train, except for a two dim battery-operated emergency lights in each car. There was an unexpected sudden breathless silence. The train kept rolling, but all we could hear was the rolling of the wheels on the track.  No engine - thankfully the horn still worked, as we approached the Sturtevant station - one of the scheduled stops.  And then the train stopped.  The air was not filled with gasps of panic.  There was no frantic buzz of texting, and outgoing cell phone calls from jaded travelers pretending to be indignant about the inconvenience that railroad menials had caused them.  The passengers just sat still in the dark, silent, sealed car.  Very still.  It was so very quiet in that car, A whispered conversation from the other end of the car could be clearly understood.   Without the engine and fans going, it was an experience I can only compare with walking up the stairs of an escalator that isn't moving. 

After what seemed an eternity, a cell phone broke the silence - a hip-hop song fragment, and someone began speaking on it, in Spanish.  Under this cover, everybody else with a cell phone started calling someone.   It always seems that people with cell phones never speak to the people they are with, only to people who are elsewhere.   Shortly after the resumption of breathing, a PA announcement - (the PA must be on the same emergency power as the horn), explaining that there were plans to resume our trip as soon as the engine could be restarted.  And, a smelly half-hour later, the rail service resumed, the lights and fans came on, the engine started and the train resumed its route.  

Altogether, we were about 45 minutes late in arriving at Milwaukee.  I'll always remember that silence.  For a brief, uncertain moment, everybody in that car was faced with the possibility, and it remained only a possibility, that they might be expected to participate in personal social interaction.  Think about what you would say if the lights go out. 

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

News from Milwaukee, March 1993

extracted from a letter I wrote dated March 27, 1993

YIKES! IT'S BEEN OVER TWO WEEKS!  There's been a lot going on around here. Right after I got back from the Convention, I contracted a good case of Flu #1, the “I can't remember swallowing that axe” variety. So that took a week, and when our hero woke up, he found that everyone else in Milwaukee was in the bathroom. Can you say “Cryptosporidium?”

You've probably heard all about it on the news. I think it was kind an adventure that helps you appreciate “Life in the Big City”.  Something out of Batman. “While Gotham City's water supply is being held hostage by Crypto-man, the Joker's henchmen are hijacking truckloads of bottled water...”

The grocery stores were like disaster relief setups by the military; people calling to find out when the next water shipment would come in. Grocery stores wouldn't even unpack the pallets of bottled water, as they came in; the cases were just dumped in the aisles and emptied within the hour. I cooked my own, although, the water wasn't really affecting me that much. Oh, sure, there was at times a certain, ahem, urgency, but certainly not the cramps, fever, etc. that was keeping everybody home.

A fistfight broke out in a Bay View pharmacy over the last bottle of Pepto Bismol on the shelf. Chippewa Springs of Chippewa Falls donated a truckload of bottled water to Second Harvesters, and Second Harvesters turned over 1000 cases to the Milwaukee Aids Project, for the exclusive use of AIDS patients.  Miller Brewery, in a brilliant public relations move, started turning out bottled water. Miller's water, because of purity standards, is more pure than anything the city could ever spew out. OK, everybody, it's Miller Time.

I tried to do a little research, but, in the reference section of my library, all the encyclopedia volumes containing “Cr” had been removed from the shelves. I didn't check into that, I got distracted by something else, but I was hoping to see a picture of the little bugger. Perhaps the appearance of the Cryptosporidium protozoan was so hideous, that people would have rioted in the streets, had they but seen its face. “Commissioner — to the Bat Phone!!!...”

This city must really look wacky, to an outsider. Just since I've lived here, we've had Lawrencia Bembenek's Weekly Made-for-TV Drama,  Michael McGee and his Poisoned Bratwurst, and speaking of home cooking, it's time now for Jeffrey Dahmer's Kitchen, mmm.. smells good, Jeff. Must be today's guest, Konerak Sinthasimphone...just a few things Jeff picked up at the Grand Avenue. Kinda makes you a little hesitant to point a finger at the Branch Davidians in Wacko, Texas.

extracted from a letter I wrote dated March 27, 1993

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

without a net

"My ass hurts!"  -------------------------- "WHAT?"
A week after I began my 29th year of service to my present employer (known on Excelsior as 'the Day Job'), we had an all-employee meeting at which they announced that in three weeks there would no longer be company-provided health insurance. I've always been pro-business, but this is a little different from a typical cynical comparison of my salary to a living wage. It is contrary to the original agreement I made in 1984.  There were no guarantees of wages beyond the starting salary, but there was an agreement that health insurance was included as a term of employment.

Through the years, I've availed myself little of the insurance - I've always prided myself on my exemplary health.  It's been over three years since I last saw a doctor, in fact the last doctor I visited has since retired.  Yet, still, the phrase "without a net" keeps going through my head.

Due to my already reduced hours, the job won't support any of the "alternative" plans presented by the exiting insurance carrier.  And I'm not going to divert any of my other income or assets to fund this.  So, my plan is to replace the day-job, rather than to deploy some expensive health-insurance patch job.  Until then, well,
"Through the air on the flying trapeze, his mind hummed. Amusing it was, astoundingly funny. A trapeze to God, or to nothing, a flying trapeze to some sort of eternity; he prayed objectively for strength to make the flight with grace." - William Saroyan 
Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Iframe - Window to Anywhere

I stumbled upon an interesting HTML gadget today.  I was looking through a Quote of the Day web site  that I use on my Google page, and they offered a way to "take it with you", like an HTML Doggy Bag

the code is this, copy it into your web page - I couldn't quote the code in a cut-and-paste format, because the Blogger keeps interpreting the code and erring out, so here's a picture, or go to the source code of this page or to

it looks like the following when you preview the page.  (i hope it's the same on your browser) And this is not just an image, it is a live link to the page - it will change as the remote web page changes. So, the next time you read this, the examples will have all changed, if the destination web pages have changed.

now, using the same code, substitute some other web address for the sre= attribute.  Use ANY web address, and it will come up in a little window with a scroll bar, sort of like a window into another web site.

oops, i just noticed that I didn't put up the current concert calendar! That will change when I get home today.

And, we can "phone home"

check out the Old Dry Goods Store

or visit your neighbors:  (hope Lydia doesn't mind) Hi, Lydia!

Have fun!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Paint Country

More from the Found Floppies
At the time this was written, I was living in an upper duplex on Milwaukee's South Side, recovering from a disastrous dysfunctional relationship mistake.

June 23, 1993

It's been one of those months of contentment that you look back on, 10 years down the line, as the Good Old Days. I've been painting and remodelling, moving into my latest version of life. Sorry I didn't write since April. I'm like, coloring my world, man! 

The colors of Gare-World 1993: Whipped Cream (ivory) everywhere. Spearmint in the bathroom and in my tiny bed room. And the kitchen is peach with powder blue cupboard doors, and shamelessly gaudy curtains from Goldmann's. I've got out my Grandma's old dime-store china, and by taking $10 to a rummage sale, I got a complete set of baking pans, a step stool, a quadrasonic amplifier (late 70's -- remember quadrasonic?), a C-language compiler, and an old version of Microsoft Quick Basic. Actually, the C-compiler wouldn't work unless I feed it into my computer; it doesn't do much in the kitchen. Then my friend from church, Norma, found a shelf unit on the curb; bless her.  Guess what?  I painted it!.  Norma has been helping me paint once in awhile, simply because she likes to paint.

It don't get no better than this... Paint is the cheapest form of remodeling there is. You can completely change the look and feel of a room by changing the color. You can give an old familiar color scheme a newness by applying a second coat. You can take junky old furniture and make it look “country”. I've resigned myself to having a “country” decorating scheme, because all I had was junky old furniture out of the basement and the attic, and plenty o' paint. 


Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

“The Biggest Meteor Shower of the Century”

I found an old 3” floppy disk in a box of obsolete software in the basement.  It contained a collection of documents created long ago in Ventura Publisher version 4, with a Windows 95 operating system.  Some letters, lots of memories.  I couldn’t get Ventura Publisher 4 to run on XP, so I had to extract the text from the formatting manually.   Here’s some.

August 12, 1993

I can't believe I fell for it again. “The biggest meteor shower of the century”  “Hundreds of meteors will streak across the sky each and every minute”   I took the word of the people who sold me Kohoutek back in the 70s (surely you remember the Comet Of The Century? It lit up the night sky in an apocolyptic glory whose brightness would on some nights rival that of the moon. Halley's Comet would be a mere Christmas tree bulb in comparison...)  

So last night I went down to the lake, because the best view would be in the northeast corner of the sky, a view of the sky which Milwaukee's lakefront specializes in. I hurried to get down to the lakefront by sunset, because that is the time when the spectacular spectacle would be at its most dazzling. 

It was the usual crowd at the South Shore lakefront; people fishing, launching and landing boats, people feeding the ducks and seagulls. Winds were calm, the sky was clear. A few people looked like they couldn't account for their being there—those were people like ME who rushed down to the lakefront to see the celestial spectacular promised by the Illuminated Ones; and we saw .... 


I felt kind of foolish for awhile; too agitated to pretend that I'd just come down there for fresh air and a nice walk. I didn't want to go home right away, because, well, you know then they would know what I had been down at the lakefront for.  “Yeah, can you believe it, he came down to see the MEEEEteors! Look, Gary! Over there! Up in the sky! Oops, it's only an airplane! What a sap! Hey, Meteor Boy, look at this! Oh, wait, that's my flash light. Haw Haw, made you look!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Safe Haven

Dear Readers:
Sorry about lack of posts recently. I've been spending most of my "quality time" furiously working at an exciting web building project.  Hope to be back to normal writing, soon, but I'd like to help publicize this worthy event coming up Friday Feb 17, 2012. And you gotta admire their taste in piano players!  (me)

My critters and I have always had a good life for ourselves. Some, however are not so lucky.  Picture a household where domestic abuse is the order of the day.  Imagine being afraid to step away even for a moment from a life of domestic abuse because you're worried about what might happen to your cat or dog.  There are situations where the prospect of neglect, abuse or worse can be the deciding factor in the life of a woman trying to do something about her own domestic abuse issues.

Come if you can - talk it up among your friends if you can't.

official press release info

Fundraising Event for Safe Haven Program

Friday Feb 17:  6:30-9:00 pm

Companion Art Gallery 
In the Joyce Skylight Court
2680 South Kinnickinnic Avenue
Milwaukee, WI

The Wisconsin Humane Society and Sojourner Family Peace Center have partnered to provide the Safe Haven Program, which offers up to 60 days of shelter for animals of domestic violence victims.  Many victims are hesitant to leave a dangerous situation because they fear for their animal’s safety.  This program makes it possible for victims to leave a dangerous situation without losing their companion animal.  Animals provide companionship, comfort, and unconditional love to families affected by domestic violence, and preserving the bond between families and their animals is vitally important.

Companion Art Gallery will donate 20% of sales during the event, and will sponsor a Silent Auction and Raffle on behalf of the Safe Haven Program.

Bay View Bean Company, Le Botique So Chic, and Oscillations Art and Music Eclectic will also offer art and gift items for sale and will donate a portion of proceeds to the Safe Haven Program.  

Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages provided

Friday Feb 17:  6:30-9:00 pm

Music by Gary Alan

Remarks by Jill Cline of Wisconsin Humane Society Education and Advocacy Manager, 7:00 p.m.

Admission is free

Donations to the Safe Haven Program appreciated!

For more information or to RSVP  

Contact Sandy Sykora at 414-486-1891
Or visit Companion Art Gallery on Facebook, and click on “event” to RSVP