NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn Treats

Autumn treats are here, from caramel covered apples to pumpkin spice lattes.

The prairie is putting on its last show of the year before the trees take center stage.

 I walked around Waukesha's downtown last weekend and enjoyed some of their painted guitars and murals.  They have a link to a map here if you're interested in finding them.

Perfect walking weather is starting to happen more frequently, last week's wave of heat and humidity has run its course and hopefully that was the last we'll see of it.  Linking up to Saturday's Critters.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Argentia Before the Americans -Walking in Grandad's "Backyard"

 So, I still have a couple of posts to write from the LAST time I was in Newfoundland which was about this time last year.  Cory and I are heading up there for a visit next month, so I figured it was time I got around to it.

Walking in Argentia

It's not like me to put off such a labor of love for so long, but these posts actually require real research involving books and not the internet.  At least I didn't have to head for the card catalog, right?  I know everyone here is probably old enough to remember what that was like!  I have a book for some of the information regarding the building of the base titled "Uprooted: The Argentia Story" by Eileen Houlihan and I am relying on some tidbits from family members to fill in some of the rest. 

Black Knapweed

Speaking of the olden days, my favorite part of our trip last year was all the time I had to explore Argentia and let my mind roam to what it must have been like before the Americans came.  So here's a little history lesson on the area for us all. (Any inaccuracies are my own!)

Like most of coastal Newfoundland the area started out as a fishing grounds in the early 1800's and gradually the fishermen stayed and built a community.  Argentia was actually called "Little Placentia" initially, but was renamed Argentia for a silver mine nearby.  Not much ever came from the mining effort, it was the cod fishing grounds that provided a living through the 1800's, with the fishermen trading their cod for other staples and supplies.  My great-grandfather was a fisherman originally from Iona (a tiny island to the north) but married Margaret Houlihan of Argentia and they settled there on her family's land.  He fished in Argentia but at times also went to Boston and fished there as well.

My grandfather Matthew probably at age 16 in 1941

The people of these small communities not only fished but built their own homes, cut their own hay, raised livestock and grew gardens.  Growing up my grandfather's family grew potatoes, turnip, cabbage and carrots which is still a staple of the Newfoundland diet today.  In addition to chickens, sheep and a cow their family at one time also had a black horse named Charlie, and having a horse was handy since it was so isolated that a horse and cart was the main mode of transportation.  My great grandfather took ill with tuberculosis at age 46 and passed away at the age of 48, leaving his wife with mouths she could not feed so some of the children were sent to live at orphanages in St. John's including my grandfather, Matthew.

For my great grandmother and other families times were lean during the Depression and with World War II looming the residents weren't surprised when their community was chosen as a U.S. Naval Base site for its protected harbor and large flat ground area perfect for an airplane runway.

Notice the airfield at top of peninsula, I assume this photo is from after the Americans started building the base.

My grandfather was living at the orphanage at the time of the arrival of the Americans and unfortunately I never thought to ask him before his death about our family connection to the events,  but I am lucky enough to have found an account in the book "Uprooted: The Argentia Story" from his sister, Rose, about how the events affected the family members living there at the time.  They packed all their possessions as the evacuation date approached, dismantled their beds and awaited the arrival of the moving truck.  However it did not arrive for two or three days so at night they had to unpack their bedding and sleep on the floor.  My Aunt Rose worked for the Avalon Telephone Company in Marquise and during the demolition of their deserted town would walk to their old home and eat her lunch there until construction efforts finally forced her to say good-bye to their home in the Traverse's Cove area of the Argentia Peninsula for good.

Aunt Rose at the switchboard

Before the war, Argentia and Marquise had populations of 477 and 283 residents, many of whom were given only a month notice to leave.  Approximately 200 properties in Argentia and Marquise were expropriated by the Americans, and the first eviction notices were delivered as early as December 1940.  The residents received between $3,000 and $7,000 in compensation depending on the value of their land.

The moose love it in Argentia, look at the size of those hoof marks!

It was an amount that many felt was too small to cover the emotional and financial burdens of moving.  Most of the blame was directed at the Commission of Government and not at the Americans.  A committee made two major requests of the Commission of Government: that residents who wished to remain together should be able to resettle as a community, and that the new community should be located close to Argentia and its many employment opportunities.  The Commission of Government acquiesced and in June chose the village of Freshwater, about a mile distant from Argentia, as an appropriate site for resettlement. Although most residents moved to Freshwater, some also settled in Placentia and neighbouring communities.

The old bunkers on the hills overlooking the harbor are covered in berries!

My grandfather ran away from the orphanage at age 15 and arrived "home" in time to move in to the newly built house in Freshwater.  Though he didn't spend many of his years in Argentia, he cherished it and my mother said he would walk the land and call it "my backyard".

My grandfather's family settled in Freshwater, and my grandmother's family and Wayne's family were affected by the hardship of resettlement also but it had nothing to do with the U.S. Naval Base and is a tale for another time.  More about Argentia still to come!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Doors Open Milwaukee - Music to My Ears

This past weekend I finally had the opportunity to check out Doors Open Milwaukee, something I've wanted to do for a few years now.

This year over 165 buildings were on the list of establishments who opened their doors to the public, and I wanted to get a look at some of the theaters that normally would require a ticket stub to enter.

Built in 1895 the Pabst Theater is the 4th oldest continuously operated theater in the United States, designed after German opera houses with outstanding acoustics.

The gallery seats were pretty impressive, but I was charmed by the little statue atop the marble staircase.

I also visited the Riverside Theater where I got to ride in an elevator with an attendant and listen to live organ music being played.  Built in 1928 it definitely had that roaring 20's ambiance.

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music is housed in a 13 bedroom mansion that was built in 1903 and I arrived in time to hear a very young lady playing violin in the recital hall.  

When I was scoping out the murals at Black Cat Alley I walked past the Oriental Theater so I popped in there for a quick look.

The lobby was quite a surprise, complete with elephants and lions!  The three theaters are just as lavishly decorated so I'm making a mental note to take in a show there someday.

Built in 1927 as a movie palace the Oriental has seen a lot of history including live performances, and was the venue to see such acts as Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, INXS, Supertramp, Jay Leno, Blondie, Devo, REM, Tears for Fears and Milwaukee's own Bodeans, among others. The Pretenders lost their opening act one fateful day, so they invited three guys who happened to be regular performers on the sidewalk in front of the theatre to take their place. Such was the beginning of the Violent Femmes, whose Greatest Hits compilation pays homage to the Oriental.  I'm a big fan of the Femmes, and if you are too here is a link to their upcoming tour dates.

Also on the agenda was a trip to the MSOE Grohmann Museum which ended up being my favorite part of the afternoon. The building was originally an auto dealership in the 1920's and then a bank before it was renovated.  The glass atrium contains a mosaic floor and a ceiling mural but I don't want to spoil all the fun for visitors so you'll have to come see for yourself!

Like everyone else I came to admire the rooftop garden, but unlike everyone else I actually walked through the more than 1000 exhibits of artwork featuring "Man at Work".   The "work" encompasses everything from farming and mining to glassblowing and seaweed gathering.

The section dedicated to roads and bridges reminded me of my recent visit with Linda in South Dakota so I took a picture that I hope she will enjoy!

The rooftop garden with bronze sculptures of men at work seems fitting against the Milwaukee skyline.  After all it was workers like these that built this city.

I can't resist a picture with City Hall! (to the right)

During Doors Open MKE admission to museums is free.  Also free is walking along the river on a sunny day watching the bridges go up and down and the citizens enjoying a day of leisure.

"Gertie" watches over the river from the Wisconsin Avenue bridge

Chicago has a similar event coming up in October which I hope to be able to attend. Who knows what sights and sounds I will uncover poking around the Windy City?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Black Cat Alley

I've been waiting for the chance to go check out Milwaukee's new mural alley and this weekend I finally made my way out there.

Black Cat Alley was pretty easy to find in the alley behind the Oriental Theater and will make a great neighborhood even more attractive to visitors I'm sure.

60-foot-wide “glitch frog” piece by European artist MTO

The art featured those little scan barcode thingys for more information in some spots, but I just moved through the crowd of Sunday Packer fans and let the art speak for itself.

Some were tall, some were small, and fun was being had by all.  I suggest you stop by and check them out for yourself, maybe get a Colectivo coffee while you're there.

I was delighted to find koi on the alley under my feet, and I wondered how many folks noticed since they were so busy looking up.  They are the work of Jeremy Novy, a graduate of Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts and a nationally renowned street artist.  This is not my first encounter with the whimsical koi, I first noticed them in the summer of 2013 but my shoes were orange that year!

Apparently the koi were already in the alley, but the artist gave them a touch-up as long as he was in the neighborhood!  Linking up to Monday Mural.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Argentia Story Begins

My parents met in Argentia, Newfoundland when my dad was stationed there during his early days in the U.S. Navy.

My Dad on the far right

The base was established in 1941, back when Newfoundland was still called the Dominion of Newfoundland and didn't belong to Canada. The base was used as a hub for ships and aircraft protecting convoys crossing the Atlantic and as well as a base for coastal patrol aircraft and submarine detection.

Five of my mother's siblings, photo taken in Freshwater, Newfoundland.  Town of Placentia in back of photo.

Four hundred families were displaced when building of the naval base began and most of them moved to the nearby town of Freshwater.  In exchange for 50 old "Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemson class" destroyers the United States was granted 99 year British land leases on the island of Newfoundland.  My grandfather's family was originally from Argentia and while it was heartbreaking for the locals to abruptly be told to leave their homes reports have it that spirits were generally positive as they were looking forward to the needed jobs that would be created.

My grandfather

Want another look at Newfies?  A great book to read is "The Day the World Came to Town" by Jim DeFede.  Thirty-eight jet liners were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11 and these are the stories about their week long stay and the unbelievable hospitality that was shown to them by the residents.  A great read this week as folks reflect on those events whose anniversary just passed.

More on Argentia to follow in the coming days!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Scott's Bluff Stopover

One last lonely post from our trip out west!  On our way from Estes Park to South Dakota we stopped a night at Scott's Bluff, Nebraska.  We stayed at the Riverside Campground run by the city for a very reasonable $25 and had a site that was easily 5 times as big as our one in Estes Park for half the price!

It was a short walk from the campground down to the river with a view of Scott's Bluff on the other side.  Or you could walk to the zoo like Cory and I did in the morning before we packed up the RV.

It was quite something to hear the tiger roaring while hanging out at our campsite, but when we got to the zoo it was nowhere to be found.  Quite a few of the main attraction animals weren't "let out" yet by zoo staff for the day but it was still a pleasant stroll before hitting the road.

Just after dawn I snuck out of the campground and headed over to the National Monument for a peek by myself.

The history of the Oregon Trail is not as big a thrill for Canadian born Wayne and early in the day the road up to the top of the bluff is closed to vehicle traffic.  But I enjoyed walking around the grounds looking for good shots and getting my exercise before the heat of the plains really got going.

Scotts Bluff rises 800 feet above the North Platte River and has served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails.

Over 250,000 people made their way through the area between 1843 and 1869, and many of them referred to the landmark in the journals.

taken with my iPhone!

From the National Oregon/California Trail website:
To survive the long jouney, a family of four would need 600 lbs. of flour, 120 lbs. of biscuits, 400 lbs. of bacon, 60 lbs. of coffee, 4 lbs. of tea, 100 lbs. of sugar, and 200 lbs. of lard. These would just be the basic staples. Other food stuffs could include sacks of rice and beans, plus dried peaches and apples. Bacon was often hauled in large barrels packed in bran so the hot sun would not melt the fat. Each man took a rifle or shotgun and some added a pistol. A good hunting knife was essential. 

In the early days of the trail when game was more abundant near the trail, pioneers could often kill buffalo and antelope.  However, a more dependable supply of fresh meat was to bring along a small herd of cattle and trail them behind the wagon.   Many also brought along a cow for milking purposes.  Milk could also be churned into butter by simply hanging it in pails beneath the bumpy wagon.  By the end of  the day fresh butter would be ready.

Want to know what a day on the trail was like?  Check out this link.  Think Indians were the biggest threat on the trail?  Think again, getting run over by wagon wheels was the leading cause of death!  I know that will me think of my car a little more fondly next time I load up supplies for a trip.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Greetings From Kenosha

I started the weekend volunteering at a Girl Scout recruitment event, and even more fun than seeing little girls excited to be joining Girl Scouts was seeing historical GS uniforms.

After the recruitment event I headed over to Southport Marina on Kenosha's lakefront to see what the Pokemon situation was in town.  I hit the jackpot!

All those pink blossoms means other people had thrown out "lures" to bring in the Pokemon.  I walked back and forth for two hours catching them and soaking up the gorgeous late summer weather on Lake Michigan.

The marina area is home to a couple of museums and a sculpture park along the footpath where one of the works reflected the visitors to the park on that afternoon.

The sky went from moody clouds to bright and sunny, the boats came in and out of the harbor, and families strolled by playing the new electronic craze together.

Down the block folks took their purchases from the Farmers Market to their cars or sat down on benches with their iced lattes to watch everyone enjoying the day.

Kenosha has electric streetcars that travel a 2 mile loop, their little bells clanging to warn folks out off the tracks as they zip on by.  I was so enchanted by the bells it took me awhile to realize the conductor was telling me to get the heck out of his way!

There was even a new mural featuring the streetcar a few blocks away in the old downtown district.

Over the past decade a lot has been done to revitalize the lakefront and the work continues so come visit if you are traveling through the area. Kenosha even has a wooden sailboat that you can book if you visit

 This is the best time of year in Wisconsin and I'll be taking advantage of it as much as I can before winter sets in!