The Suitcase Lady


October 8, 2019, 10:24 pm


I live less than an hour away from all these wonderful things; kames, drumlins, eskers, moulins, moraines, kettles and erratics. For those of you who don’t live in a place that was visited by glaciers around ten thousand years ago, these words must seem like a foreign language.

All the above nouns are different landforms that result from a mile high river of ice bulldozing the land and then slowly melting and retreating. In short, an incredible playground of weird shaped hills and holes created by glaciers.

I’ve tried many times to understand the geological processes that created each of these different features. My “Roadside Geology of Wisconsin” is well worn. Unfortunately, the explanations have not been sticking in my brain….until now.

We recently climbed a gorgeous trail up to the top of a drumlin that’s not far from our home. Explanatory signs along the steep ascent not only gave clear explanations of how the glacial forms were created, but also included drawings. Another bonus of reading the signs was being able to stop and catch our breaths for a moment.

Being a lover of high places, winding roads and lakes, I am living where I belong, in a glaciated landscape. Even Lake Michigan, the enormous lake in our front yard was scooped out by a glacier and filled when that glacier melted. Many of the numerous small lakes in our vicinity are also glacial lakes.

I know that our Western friends and family will laugh when I say we climbed the drumlin called Dundee Mountain. It’s only 270 feet high, making our glaciated land look like a bonsai version of the mountainous west, but we love it. Small is beautiful, too.

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October 1, 2019, 11:03 pm


I am emphatically not the most popular human being in our house. That designation would go to my husband. All the other inhabitants adore him. Fortunately, I’m able to handle and even enjoy my status as a second class resident.

Being an honest and non-egotistical man, my spouse will say to me, “I’m loved just because I’m the big food bowl.” Being the one who delivers the best dishes of cat food, the wet stuff, to the felines every morning, he has created an adoring herd of groupies.

While he is upstairs preparing all their dishes, I am going downstairs to our rescue cats’ apartment. Palpable disappointment is evident when I open their door…I am not the person of the moment, the purveyor of all goodness. Nevertheless, I dutifully clean their boxes, sweep the floor, fill dishes with kibble and bowls with fresh water. The dry food and I are largely ignored; their focus is entirely centered on the door to upstairs.

As soon as the cats hear my husband’s footsteps on the stairs, a frenzy of excitement begins. I can only liken my guy to the Pied Piper of Hamlin- these kitties would follow him anywhere.

Click here and see for yourself. If you ever desire to have a fan club, you will now know how to proceed.



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September 24, 2019, 8:37 pm


Fashion is fickle; style endures. But I do delight in observing fashion trends. When my husband and I were recently walking in a big city, I was taking in the sartorial scene and realized I was seeing spots everywhere. The fashion gurus have obviously dictated that leopard and jaguar prints are must-have items this season. In the space of one afternoon, I saw dozens of women sporting big cat prints on skirts, tops, scarves, slacks, tights, boots and bags. It was like being amidst a human zoo.

As I saw more and more spots, I asked my husband if he had noticed the onslaught of spotted women.

“Yes”, he replied, “and maybe it’s time for you to dig up your leopard-skin coat from the back yard.” Anyone overhearing his remark must have thought we are crazy, but it’s true and has a logical explanation.

The coat belonged to my beloved Aunt Vi, who had to end her schooling after eighth grade to help support her family. She eventually worked her way up to a good job as the head file clerk for a large company with international sales. Never marrying, she was the family member designated to stay home and care for her widowed mother.

Fashion was one of her true outlets and pleasures in life. So in a time when the words “environmentalist” and “endangered species” weren’t in the vocabulary, she bought the current fashion trend, a real leopard-skin coat. She wore this coat the rest of her long life as well as many fake leopard print clothes and accessories. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of snuggling up next to her and the fur coat when riding in the back seat of my dad’s cold car.

When my Aunt died, I inherited her personal belongings and also a dilemma. I am an ardent animal lover who couldn’t ever wear a dead cat. But because of all the wonderful memories of my Aunt, I couldn’t bear to part with the coat, either. I decided to return the leopard to nature and keep it close to me as well. There really is a leopard buried in my back yard.

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September 17, 2019, 10:04 pm


How’s this for an oxymoron. The other day I heard these words coming out of my mouth directed at my husband. “Hey, we have to hurry up if we want to do nothing!”

I make absolutely no excuses for the absurdity of this statement.  It encapsulates the present tenor of life in America. Time and events go at warp speed. Even simple tasks have become complex or convoluted.

Here’s an example. I go to check out a book at the library. The self-checkout machine fails to recognize my library card. After three attempts, I go to the next identical machine. It loves my card instantly, but tells me I’ve checked out a book that I’ve never seen in my life. All sorts of my time will be wasted finding a staff person to sort out the mess. Multiply this little episode by all similar occurrences in a week, and my nonsensical sentence isn’t so nonsensical.

When the weekend arrives and all the tasks and work involved with daily living are done, my husband and I try to claim a few unstructured  hours free from all obligations, both electronic and otherwise. That’s a challenge…..if we don’t hurry up, we won’t get to do nothing.

Almost all kindergartens in America have a time set aside each day for “free play”. The children get to choose from a wide variety of activities; painting, block building, reading, puzzles and more. It is the child’s choice to play alone or with friends.

Grown-ups need free play time as well….even though it’s a trick to wrest that time from the fast flow of contemporary life. I agree with these words of the brilliant American physicist, Richard Feynman: “Play is hard to maintain as you get older. You get less playful. You shouldn’t, of course.”

Nothing to do but enjoy the coffee

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September 10, 2019, 5:15 pm


Amid the litany of horrors that is the daily newspaper, a delightful bit of news occasionally erupts. An item last week is surely one of these. It concerns a rooster and what roosters do best…vocalize.

This particular rooster is named Maurice, and he lives on the French island of Oleron. Like all roosters, he greets the dawn every morning with a cock-a-doodle-do, or rather his cocorico, the French word for a cock’s crow. This is what got him afoul of his neighbors, two urban dwellers who have a vacation home next door.

The neighbors complained to Maurice’s owner, Corrine Fesseau, that his vocalizations were “abnormal racket” disturbing their sleep. Being a good neighbor, Madame Fesseau tried draping his coop at night with a black cloth. Maurice was not to be fooled: he still knew when dawn was arriving and acted accordingly. Next, his owner tried sound-proofing his coop with egg boxes. Not satisfied with these efforts, the neighbors sued.

When news of the lawsuit broke, the French public rallied. There recently had been a spate of similar cases with noise complaints concerning cackling geese and ducks, cicadas, mating frogs in a pond and church bells. Maurice, apparently, was the final straw.

140,000 people signed a “Save Maurice” petition. T shirts were printed with Maurice’s portrait and the words, “Let Him Sing”. The battle of urban vs rural and permanent resident and holiday visitor had begun. And it dragged on for two years.

Before the trial, a court official stayed at the complainant’s house for three nights to access the severity of the noise. He reported that the rooster only crowed intermittently between 6:30 and 7:00 AM and was merely audible if the windows were closed.

Last Thursday was Maurice’s big day in court. He showed up in person (chicken) and was exonerated. In addition, the judge awarded him $1,100 in damages. Julian Papineau, Maurice’s lawyer, declared, “This is affirmation that people of bad faith don’t always win, and that we have to accept nature’s sounds”.

Tres Bon!

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