Capital Times: “Slaughter On Spaight Street-Trees Goin’ Down”


I am glad the online newspaper, The Capital Times, picked up on this story (and my blog) as this is a very important issue to the residents of Spaight Street. I also appreciate the headline to the story, as it hits the mark, and sums up how many feel.  Given how much angst there is on the street one must ask why there is not a  more visible sign of leadership of any kind from City Alderperson Marsha Rummel.  (As of this writing my email correspondence to her from a week ago has not been answered.  T0 be honest, I have never found her overly eager to respond on any issue unless I have called several times.  Frankly my time is as valuable as hers, and one call or email should suffice.  While I like her personally, I find her not the most adept at constituent relations.)   Telling residents that there needs to be more study of the street construction issue so Willy Street, and future street construction projects, do not meet the same fate is the same old routine we hear from politicians all the time.  There seems to be a lack of willingness to say what needs to be said.  Perhaps Rummel and Mayor Dave can walk down the street and view the damage.  Surely they can find the time.  They also might talk with folks on the street that are impacted and better understand the frustration.  Someone dropped the ball on Spaight Street!  Question is who will pick it up and show some leadership. 


The irreplaceable, lofty trees are the finishing touch on the fashionable neighborhood, a hip and comfortable enclave of older, mostly lovingly tended homes and two-flats.

One resident, whose usual curb-side terrace garden was supplanted by construction this season, was tying strings to her front  porch roof to support green bean vines on Tuesday. The improvements to the street were nice, she mused, but she’d take the trees, and turned a worried eye toward the towering oaks rimming nearby Orton Park.

Several trees on Spaight already were felled and the chopped and exposed roots of many others easy to spot on a walk down what is temporarily a dirt road. Was it carelessness that caused the loss of trees, a cavalier disregard for “collateral damage,” or an unavoidable loss when a new curb is carved in past trees that long ago nudged their roots under the old pavement?

Letter From Home 7/8/09

It was a most pleasant sound that wafted across the warm air.  A group of about ten women comprising a writers group had gathered on the back patio area at one of our neighbors to talk about their creative efforts, and get feedback from each other.  (Our neighbor is sending out her first children’s book to publishers.)  The light-hearted banter, and gentle laughter mingled with the tingling of  glasses filled with ice tea.  I was transplanting flowers, and watering so only heard the group in random moments when I was in the back of our house.  But it was a wonderful sound, and alerted me again to the newest growing feeling within me.  Now in my mid-40’s, I am now only starting to experience  what I have long wanted; being in a  neighborhood community.

I grew up in the country where my neighbors consisted of my grandparents, and two sets of aunts and uncles.  It made for a safe and nurturing environment, and was a good life for a kid, but there were many times that I desperately wanted more excitement.  Watching a long row of bean-picking machines rumble down our country road was just not enough for me.  When my family would travel on summer vacations to the Rockies, I recall we always took the city by-passes to miss the heavy traffic.  I yearned to see the bustle and intensity of city life.  Today those by-passes make sense, but as a kid I looked out the back window of the Buick at the tall buildings in the distance that we were skirting, knowing there had to be some excitement out there somewhere.   

When I landed in Madison 22 years ago I found some nice apartments, and even some great friends that lived in them.  But for the most part the experience was limited in that I did not feel like I was a part of any neighborhood.  Big apartment buildings breed isolation, not only within the actual residence, but also as a frame of reference.   I recall that a pollster asked me one time in a political season if  I felt more a  member of a neighborhood, our nation, or the world community.  Clearly at that time in my life I did not feel a part of a neighborhood.

But many of my friends were.  They lived in neighborhood settings in the city, and seemed to blend so easily having grown up in places where street blocks were dotted with homes and friends.   I envied that sense of belonging, and wondered how one made it happen.  The answer to my question is that time happens and life moves us, if we are open to it, in unique ways.

During the past two years of living in an Isthmus neighborhood I have come to truly enjoy and embrace the sounds and faces of daily life.   The sounds of bikers on the city path, the train whistle with its declaratory blast, the laughter of a neighbor over the hedge, or another upon seeing me outside asking, “what did you think about….?”, where we then dissect the latest news topic.  There are probably thirty different people that I now know from the larger neighborhood as a result of them rounding our corner and striking up conversations.   They have provided insights into how to make this or that plant grow taller, where to get wild blackberries in Madison, or tales of college studies in Africa.  James and I have helped looked for lost cats, been invited to Karaoke, and over to homes for tea and desserts.

The most recent and striking connection with the neighborhood was when a police car pulled up to our residence shortly before the Fourth of July after I had found a full set of keys in the area.  I ran out to the car with the keys that I had called the cops about, and talked for a minute.  As the officer drove off I started walking back to the stoop.  A young woman who lives several blocks down walked by and asked “Is everything OK, you need anything?”

I love the feeling of being in a  neighborhood community.

Grand Ole Opry Star Mel McDaniel In Coma After Heart Attack

Grand Ole Opry member Mel McDaniel is said to be fighting for his life in a Nashville hospital after suffering a heart attack.

“Country Weekly” is reporting that his wife, Peggy, called the magazine and said he is “not good.” She said he had a

Born and raised in Checotah, Oklahoma (also the hometown of Opry member Carrie Underwood), near Tulsa, McDaniel first earned popularity as a club act in Anchorage, Alaska. He moved to Nashville in 1976, signing a publishing deal with Columbine and eventually winning a record contract with Capitol. In addition to his seven Top 10 solo records, he wrote songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty, Hoyt Axton, Earl Scruggs and others.

He is known for an engaging stage presence, for the red bandanas that he tucked in his back pocket when on stage, and for a kindly offstage demeanor that led Oak Ridge Boy Duane Allen to call him “the nicest guy in country music.”




Gay Marriage On Maine Ballot, Why Should The ‘Average Joe’ Decide Another’s Civil Rights?

This is preposterous.  No other group has ever had their civil rights placed before the voters in a referendum.  But the right-wing think they have license to practice bigotry openly against gay people.  I have argued often on this blog about how ridiculous and demeaning it is to have to convince enough average voters to do the right thing regarding equality and civil rights.  No one else had to do it this way.  If the inter-racial marriage matter had been up for a vote in each state can any one of my readers tell me how that might have fared?   The only thing left to do is fight like hell, and not let the conservatives have an inch.   I know the tide of history is on my side, and the conservative do to, but until there is an all-out victory these types of battles will be waged, and we must react with all the vigor and determination we can mount.  

Gay marriage foes in Maine say they’ve collected enough signatures to stop the new law from going into effect and to force a statewide vote in November.

Mark Mutty from the Stand for Marriage Maine coalition says it took only four weeks to gather the more than 55,087 signatures necessary to put gay marriage to a vote. But he says signature gathering will continue to ensure there’s more than enough petitions.

The law that’s scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 12 will be put on hold after the signatures are submitted and certified by the secretary of state’s office.

Once In A ‘Blue Moon’

How many times have we heard our parents use the the term blue moon’, usually in an exasperated tone when talking to us as youngsters?   I wonder if they knew there really is a ‘blue moon’?

A severe dust storm so large that it is visible from space

dust storm

is blowing across Iran. Government officials have closed schools, cancelled flights, and warned the elderly and children to stay indoors. The only good thing about the storm is that it is turning the Moon a pleasing shade of blue.

blue moon