This was the way this blog started way back when…..and please note with sadness how the words from July 14, 2006 still apply today.
Caffeinated Politics returns to blogging about politics and international intrigue following a five-month hiatus in which I spent time working on my book. The book is in the last stages of being edited. My schedule calls for it to be published in August. It seems to be about 250 pages long, and hopefully readers will find it engaging.
Since the book is about my life, and family there were times when the process of writing became emotional and difficult. It was at those times I wished for a different plot line. The need to be accurate and provide a complete picture meant plowing ahead was the only option available to me. But I also found many carefree and uplifting days of joyful writing, as there are always more smiles than anything else in life.
The process of writing this book has been an amazing journey, but I must say the next book (if there is one) will be a fictitious novel where my emotions are not rubbed raw over the keyboard.
I am mindful of all the news that generated much interest and discussion in my absence. Many times after hearing about the latest state budget battle, multiple shooting, or death of a country music star I looked at James and said, “I need a blog to vent on.”
When I started this blog in July 2006 the mission was to not only discuss news and politics with passion, (hence the name of the blog) but also comment on diverse topics that are of interest to me. From Madison, Wisconsin (where I live) to Dubai, (where I would love to travel) this blog reflects who I am, and what I think.
That is why Del Reeves fans, history buffs, clean government types, space buffs, advocates of gay marriage, and lovers of books and newspapers all find a home at Caffeinated Politics.
One never knows what the next post will contain on my little eclectic slice of cyberspace.
As I have been told, with vote totals like this, there is nowhere to go but up.
Unlike Tommy Thompson who was unable to speak the name of his opponent last night while conceding, I want to congratulate Scott McDonell on his victory.
I want to thank those who came out and voted for my ‘candidacy’.
I did not have to resort to negative ads, or even arrange phone banks. I did not need to rely on interest groups or even place lawn signs. Fact is I did not even have to know I was running.
Imagine the vote totals if I had encouraged my fellow citizens through my blog to cast a ballot for me.
Since I did not have an official election night party there was no way for me to replicate the kiss congressman-elect Mark Pocan placed on his partner, and as such James will have to wait until at least 2016 for such fame.
Who knows, maybe McDonell will find a better job, leave the office mid-term, and who better to run for the office than the person who tied for second place for the job in Ward 28?
I wonder if I have friends in Ward 13?
Who says that politics and elections are not fun?
Dane 101 has again asked bloggers in the area to answer a few questions so the community can get to know the person behind the words. This week Jesse Russell posted my answers to some questions. Dane 1o1 is one of the first three sites I read every morning in an effort to get a handle on the day.
Below I offer two of my responses and let readers see the rest at Dane 101.
4. Describe the space you do your writing in.
I blog out of my isthmus home in an office space with a large Victorian window to my right. A catalpa tree offers me grand blooms in spring, and a place for squirrels to play every day. I have one of those old globes on my desk that still shows the Soviet Union and Southern Rhodesia. On my desk shelves are many reference works including, “The Encyclopedia of Espionage.” I like to think I have all my bases covered when it comes to looking up information. I am surrounded by book shelves, and there is a relaxing quality to the over-stuffed space. My mom’s photo looks over my shoulder as I type. Best yet, my partner James has his desk and computer in the same room and so we share lots of smiles and back-and-forth.
9. Finally, name one person you wish kept a blog and what you think they would title it (can be living or dead).
Bishop Morlino “Under The Robes”. I think he is one of the most controversial, and also most newsworthy members of the clergy who can create a dust-up better than most. I do not agree with him but he does make for good copy.
When this blog started on July 14, 2006 I could not have thought one million hits were possible. I could not ever have envisioned that Porter Wagoner’s daughter, WSM announcer Keith Bilbrey, great grand-daughters of Madison’s Bascom Clarke (B.B. Clarke Beach), or Diana Nightingale (wife of Earl Nightingale) would find Caffeinated Politics, and be moved to the point of responding to something I had penned. I could never have thought such kind words would come my way as they did when Belle Marie from Georgia wrote the following in March 2009.
I just want to say a deep thanks for the kind way you honor the singers on the Grand Ole Opry. They have meant so much to so many and you treat them as kindly as we all feel about them at these hard times. It has been many years since I have been able to go to the Opry since I am not able to travel. But the memories you bring back with the movies here are precious to me. I looked over your other writings on those who I heard so often and I cried a bit. But like you write they are on a bigger stage now with God.
Thank you and God Bless You.
When Caffeinated Politics started the scope was intended to stay just on politics, but in time the blog expanded to cover just about every topic imaginable. While the New York Times is limited to “all the news that’s fit to print”, I am glad the internet allows me space to post on every interest and thought that comes to my mind.
I am also very pleased to have such a loyal, and it seems ever-growing readership. For that I am grateful. Last year I was honored to be voted second place in Isthmus’ Annual Manual Poll for local blogger. That meant a lot to me!
Posts on Caffeinated Politics can veer from testy and barbed, to sentimental and fluffy. I truly have as much fun posting on the thrill of throwing boiling water into frigid air as I do on the latest scandal in Washington. Whatever the reason one finds their way to this blog I am humbled my readers seem to enjoy the efforts.
Thanks to you all!
I was reminded this past week that with over 2,500 posts on this blog, there are some over-riding themes and principles that are repeated over and over. I thought it might be fun to think of the guiding issues and principles found on this blog, and write them down.
…. The process of governing is more important than the politics of any issue. In addition a fair and orderly atmosphere both in electing officals, and creating legislation is required to insure a fair and equal playing field.
….Campaign money, and the ever-consuming need for more and more of it, pollutes the political process, and undermines the enactment of sound public policy.
…. The Supreme Court (both state and national) requires the highest and most ethical standards applied to applicants. In the states, it is more appropriate to appoint justices through the merit selection process than to have elections for the judiciary.
…. Drunk driving is a most troubling problem that will require tough-minded legislators being more interested in doing what is right, than carrying alcohol for the Tavern League.
…. Tough anti-smoking laws are just common sense.
…. Going with principle (Dubai deal) is more important than following the prevailing political mood.
…. Torture is wrong, and spawns more terrorists while undermining a nation’s moral code.
…. Darfur needs the world. Sadly, history will severely judge the majorityfor not caring.
….Israel needs to stop the illegal settlement policy, and Palestinians should have, must have, and will have a homeland to call their own. When it comes to Israel the tail must stop wagging the dog.
….Polar bears are needing us to care more about them, and to reach an understanding about the need to address climate change.
…. Gun control is needed to insure the safety of the citizenry. Strict regulations on the manufacture, sale, registration, and usage is the means for a safer nation.
…. Cheating on a partner, married or otherwise, is smarmy and wrong. Getting preachy about this issue is still OK.
…. History is in need of more study and understanding, not only in our schools, but also with the average citizen of this nation.
…. When it looks like it is a slow news day check in on the antics of Sarah Palin and the Clampetts of Palinland.
…. Newspapers are the foundation for long-form investigative reporting, and an essential ingredient to democracy.
Everyone is outside today to enjoy spring. Even the kids who enjoyed the winter snows are now out with the warm weather toys, including sidewalk chalk. In our neighborhood one little boy was sprawled out with a big chunk of colored chalk in each hand. What are you drawing I asked while walking alongside him. He looked up a bit startled, and said with all earnestness, “Don’t eat the chalk.” I smiled and then commented on his work. It was only later when telling that story to James that he wondered why the kid thought it important to make sure I knew not to eat the chalk. The kid must have thought, oh there is another big kid just like me…I better warn him as he looks like he might just put the chalk in his mouth too.
Ah, I still look youthful to some…….
In case you have wondered what happened to this blogger over the past week—well, thanks for noticing my absence. James and I left behind the morning newspapers, the internet, TV, and mail; in short, we let go of the back-and-forth of daily life to take up refuge on the Turtle River in northern Wisconsin during spring break. Prior to leaving, I called it “roughing it” while James told all of our friends that we were “running away”. It is all a matter of perspective, I guess.
Our friends had built their cabin located right on the bend where Pike Lake drains to the Turtle River in Mercer, Wisconsin. That was about 18 years ago. Though it looks like an old-fashioned cabin placed amid the endless trees way off the road, I am not sure ‘cabin’ best describes a place with three bedrooms, a full kitchen, and hot running water. After a week there, I began to think the term ‘heaven’ a more apt description. The warm and cozy décor with a Northwood’s charm was the ticket for casting off our cares of the world.
Life can be so fast-paced that when it comes to taking a vacation we need the first day or two in order to adjust to the slower pace. We need time to get used to the new surroundings of where we plant our feet. Only then can we finally wind down and relax. For me that moment of contentment and breathing deeply took place 24 hours after we arrived at the cabin. Under sunny and cloudless skies, with temperatures pushing 60 degrees, we found ourselves one afternoon on the highway not far from town, where a sign made note of a road to a boat landing. With deep snow still covering the countryside, and the tall pines beckoning, we followed the turn in the road. More ice and standing water than blacktop greeted us as we wound our way toward the river. At some point the blacktop turned to dirt and it was, at least according to this driver, just too much mud for Azure (that’s the name of our little blue Beetle, of course) we were forced to turn around, and that was still fine. The going was slow, and as no one else was on the road to poke me along, we saw not one single reason to hurry. The world just all of a sudden slowed, and we put windows down to smell the air, hoping for a scent of pine of heavily wooded areas. That road woke up the senses and made me aware that we had really escaped the city to re-charge the inner soul in the pines and beauty of northern Wisconsin.
Relaxation had come.
Behind the Wible’s cabin a series of wooden steps lead down to the rocky banks of the ever-moving river. Down on the banks we moved two deck chairs, unpacked our paperbacks, grasped our mugs of hot tea, and found the entire noisy world of the city just fade away. Only the gurgling water that sloshed under the ice along the banks, the spring chirps of countless birds, the sharp tones of excited squirrels, and the scattering feet of chipmunks were to be found. Nature may not be quiet, but she sure is a lot more pleasant.
To be very honest, the only sound that was not of Nature was the one made by this blogger who took a heavy shovel and chopped on the ice breaking huge chunks and sending them down the river. The boy inside of me is never far away from surfacing. The river is open and flowing, but the banks are frozen and I felt needed a helping hand to usher in spring. But the largest chunk, resembling a twin-size mattress, was broken off by James. It was great to see it start to crack and move away from the shore. I would have kept watching had it not been for James finding himself knee-high in the frigid water as the ice also had broken off under his feet. No fret…just climb up to the cabin and get dry clothes and footwear.
Your blogger with Mother Nature.
As we watched the sunset early in the week, there was one discordant noise. From our deck chairs on the bank of the river we watched the water reflect the subtle changing hues of the crepuscule. For several minutes we followed the flight of a magnificent eagle as it swooped out of the trees not far from us and watched it soar, disappear and return again. As it glided in flight it found another bird out for an early evening trip over the river. The sound that resulted was anguishing for a second. The eagle captured the bird in mid-flight. Oh my! The eagle had found dinner. It was Mother Nature at work, and the sight thought unsettling on some level, was also most remarkable to witness.
Over time, we saw a collection of eagles nesting in the opening of Pike Lake. Eagles tend to build very large nests, some about the size of a queen-sized mattress. They must require a fair amount of repair. The morning after we saw dinner being caught in mid-air, we were at the riverbank again. This particular morning an eagle swooped in from the opposite side of the river. From about the length of a football field away we watched as the eagle used its talons to lift off a 4-5 foot piece of thin dead branch from the top of a poplar tree and carted in off for a nest. The sight and sound of the branch as it was lifted away was impressive. It rubbed the other branches as if to say farewell and provided us with one of those sights that you just have to be in the right place to experience. Mother Nature puts on the best shows. And they are free!
This next part is a bit of a secret. Shhhh. Don’t tell the Wibles. If you have been reading my blog for any time, you know already what a softie I am for feeding the critters outside of our Madison lakeside home. Well, I couldn’t resist here either. I bought some day old bread from the small and homey Snow’s grocery in town and James pulled it into small hunks on the snow. After we came back from a lunch in town and then a drive to a county park with a dam and rock falls, I noticed that my new friends had found the bread and were learning that city folks can be very understanding. I wondered if the small chipmunks had a code for “Hey tell the critters over the hill to come over for dinner–there is bread here.” James thought I was going a bit over board when the next time we visited the market, I asked him to load into our cart a fifty-pound satchel of shelled corn. He said to me, “If you think we are having tortillas tonight, no way!” We laughed because we both knew what my designs were on the bag.
On Wednesday night we bundled up as the colder winds of a weather front blew in; nothing was going to stop us from watching the sun set, and the stage show starring the full ensemble of the animal kingdom. The show became for us a nightly event, and nothing interrupted in it. Not even dinner. Within minutes we spotted again the large pure white birds we had seen earlier in the week. They were trumpeter swans. Elegant and immense, they possessed poise in the water. They had first come to our attention earlier in the week by the noise they created when flying. They were camping out in the tall grasses and flapped their expansive wings creating a ‘whacking’ sound as they beat the air. Gracefully, the swans floated by our riparian perch and returned to the lake opening where we had heard them previously. Magnificent.
Soon two Canadian geese flew onto the river and it was obvious a courtship was under way. Despite a full court press the male was not winning the effort at amoré. Soon thereafter a group of 10 grouse ambled down the hill to the banks where they took sips of the water. Farther up the ridge a much larger and slightly more colorful grouse, which I assumed was the male, seemed to keep watch. From the other shore two deer commenced walking out into the currents, and though the water was chilly, they braved the flow. They strode to the other side where they sauntered within feet of the grouses. The birds hardly looked, and continued with their time at the water’s edge. They must be old friends. The deer went up the hill and disappeared from sight. In time the grouse followed each other up the ridge, turned and then with a running start down the hill each took off in flight before their tail feathers reached the water. One…two…three…each in turn took the same flight plan as if the ridge were a major international airport. They headed off in the direction from which the deer had originated.
With the sun down and the cold starting to bite, we turned and started up the steps heading up the ridge to the cabin. As we got closer we noticed fresh deer hoof prints that had not been in the snow when went down to the lake. We knew then that the deer we had been watching had circled around and had been looking down on us from the ridge as they made their way in the early evening. The viewing of the “the animals” had come full circle. A thoughtful surprise was cooking in my head. “Ah ha,” I thought, “this looks like the perfect spot for a few cans of corn.”
James relaxing with a read.
Before leaving the cabin, we signed the cabin’s guest book–a small hard bound book with the inscription, “May this cabin and these guests combine to make many many happy moments and years for you.” It was signed simply “Mom Wible”. We certainly hope that Mom Wible, who is in her nineties and doing well in Indiana where she resides, is able to make it back to the cabin sometime soon. While previous guests listed the animals that they had seen or the activities they had enjoyed, and expressed their gratitude for the chance to stay in the Turtle-head Lodge, as it is affectionately known to its owners, James penned a short poem and offered it in return for the Wible’s good will.
The North Star points past the corner of the house.
The Big Dipper refreshes the trees below.
Our days like our nights everlasting,
We mine the silver scintillating on the river’s flow.
Hush. A comfortable silence envelopes us.
A mother’s lament heard in this primeval wood,
The startling sight of leaves blow across our path,
We listen ever closer, because we know we should.
She entices us not just to reach to the heavens,
past where the constellation reign,
And scoop up the distant candles chanting,
But to listen to our hearts beating in refrain.
What loneliness and winter have wrought
Are themselves transformed from isolation into works of art.
We are beckoned to do what no one else can–
Enter the same river twice and cleanse our spirit in gentle currents.
Aurora’s color marches up the hillsides to the door.
Gentle breezes strike the keys of that riparian piano;
The gold of the morning sun echoes in ragtime ripples;
O’ Love! We offer up these treasure of the shared road.