Monday, June 30, 2008
Ryan Denko dips his shoes into the portable water tank used in water fights on Sunday at the Wheatland Fire Department festival in New Munster.
Firefighters entertain festgoers
June 30, 2008
NEW MUNSTER - Wheatland firefighters put their ability to the test Sunday, battling other fire departments from Kenosha County and northern Illinois in their annual water fighting competition at the town festival.
Strapping on their boots, helmets and jackets for the tradition, three- to four-member teams grabbed their fire hoses and anxiously awaited the signal.
When the whistle blew, hundreds of gallons of water sprayed in a tug of war to push a metal barrel across the other team's line with their streams of water to victory.
Although only a few spectators got wet in the process, a few of the younger visitors were intentionally wet. One Wheatland resident who wasn't afraid of a little water was 4-year-old Ryan Denko, son of Wheatland firefighter Lou Denko. The soaking wet youngster nearly dove into the portable water tank used to supply water for the fight, to retrieve his plastic clogs.
"Yeah, he's having a great time; just give him a little water and he's a happy camper," Lou Denko said.
Winners of the event are given a trophy, but that isn't what brought Kenosha resident Jim Damask to watch the competition for the first time. Damask, 45, just wanted to see the giant spray of hoses and could barely contain himself when firefighters opened the spigots and began their streams of water.
"This is my first time to see something like this, ever," he said, beaming. "I am excited to see what they do. I love everything to do with the fire departments and the police departments. It is great to be here."
Damask's friend Bob Kundee, a 37-year veteran of the Wheatland Fire Department, was judging this year's competition after many years of participating on the Wheatland team.
"This water fight thing goes back at least 50 years, I think I remember going when I was a kid," he said. "My pal Jimmy is going to love it - he's a good kid. My five kids grew up watching these every year too and we always draw a good crowd."
The fire department water fights concluded the three-day Wheatland Fire Department festival, the largest fund-raiser of the year for the fire department.
In its 39th year, the festival's weekend events included live music, a parade, softball and volleyball tournaments and a chicken barbecue.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
After firing the old group for their devious behavior--we signed on with the new guy on May 21, the two year anniversary of I-Day--what I like to call Injury Day at the Big Home Improvement Store. At first he planned to file that week, but a number of things happened such as getting swamped with cases, named President of the Illinois State Bar, and having to work on an appeals case...so, when we had not heard from him, and he had not filed......I was concerned.
When I called the office and he didn't return any of our calls---I was miffed.
When I sent emails and received no response--I was particularly peeved.
But, and it is a big BUT--he has redeemed himself 100% by following up with phone calls, emails and drum roll please--------he filed our case today! WooHoo--it is the one thing we have been wanting for two years and it is now done! Now, I feel as if we can move forward and yes, Scott---I am beginning to rethink my opinion about the legal profession........
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Six years I have been writing for a certain newspaper and for six years it has not been enough money. Finally I put my size six foot down and told the powers that be that I am desperate and need some extra cash for gas.
Instead of hearing, 'Oh Karen, you are right--Sorry for overlooking this--we have been in the dark ages for years"--I get ignored--blackballed--left alone with nothing.
That's the way they punish you, by giving you nothing and giving the work to those writers who don't mind driving 45 minutes each way to cover a two hour meeting and then cranking it out in a half hour to meet deadline. All of that for a whopping 55 bucks! Wow, I figured out with the gas and my time that it amounted to about $3 an hour--my 13 year son makes more than that mowing our lawn!
Somebody help me here--before the next words you hear out of my mouth are 'ya want fries with that?"
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
While I am sure that you are quite proud of yourself for leaving 17 comments on my family day at the lake, I felt even better by silencing your efforts. This blogsite is meant for fun--but if you continue I will be forced to monitor every comment before it posts.
Today was such a gorgeous day that we played hooky from work and took our granddaughter Linzy, her dad, David, and our son Erin and went to Lake Michigan. We went to Micky D's for lunch, played at the lake, flew a kite, visited the dinosaur museum, took a streetcar ride and finished up with ice cream sundaes at Culvers. Needless to say the older generation is quite tired! We are not used to this activity any more!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald
First in a series of stories
featuring inspiring 2008 Catholic high school graduates
BURLINGTON - If he were lucky, he would live six to nine months after they found the tumor in his brain. Two and a half years later, John Van Henkelum is optimistic about his future.
"I have been blessed," he said.
"I have a lot of faith in God," he said. "In the back of my mind, I know that God has a plan for me and that really helps me through everything. I find myself turning to him more often, but there are days that are very hard."
Van Henkelum understands the preciousness of life.
"I don't get angry," he said. "I really never did; there are days I have questioned why this is happening, but being angry won't help at all. It might make me feel better for a minute, but it really won't help in the long run."
Van Henkelum, a recent graduate of Catholic Central High School, has offered that message consistently throughout his ordeal: almost from the day the sudden twitching began along the right side of his face, almost from the day his right eye refused to open and close completely and the day when doctors discovered why.
High rate diffuse pontine glioma or brainstem glioma, arises in the glial tissue of the brain stem, which controls many vital functions. It is a malignant tumor that accounts for 10-15 percent of all childhood central nervous system tumors.
It is a tumor that is possible to slow, as happened with Van Henkelum, with chemotherapy and radiation treatments in March of 2006, but impossible to stop. Surgery is not an option due to the location of the tumor.
"Even if the cells die, there will still be a mass in there," he said. "The tumor didn't have too many side effects for me, but the side effects from the steroids I had to take were awful - (they) made me gain a lot of weight. But, I am feeling good now."
After the radiation, the size of the tumor diminished, but doctors fall short of saying that Van Henkelum is cured and Van Henkelum pulls no punches with his own sense of mortality.
"They will say that I am better off before I had the treatment, but they have no idea what will happen down the road," he said. "There is no way to predict what will happen until it actually does. I will continue to get MRIs every six to 12 months to see what is going on. So far, the cells on the MRI show that the tumor continues to stay less bright than it was before."
Van Henkelum's dignity, grit and determination cause other students to appreciate the fact that they can shoot a basketball or play football. Van Henkelum used to be able to do both. A head trauma could be the catalyst that will start the tumor growing again. No matter. He jokes about the things he cannot do and helps others to see the things he can.
Whether it is through odd newspaper headlines, or joking about his cancer, Van Henkelum is brilliant at making others laugh. A budding stand up comedian, he has already participated in two school events.
"I guess you could say that I am fluent in sarcasm and if they offered a college degree in it, I would master that," he said laughing. "I try to do or say whatever makes me think that others might laugh about. For instance, there was a headline in the paper recently. It said, 'Cambridge Mayor is going to build plant.' That was it. It doesn't say what kind of plant; for all I know he could be building a flower."
While he enjoys making others laugh, humor is what keeps the Mukwonago teen and member of St. Peter Parish, East Troy, from giving in to depression.
"I realistically think that if I didn't have a good sense of humor, I would not be here," he said. "I would have gotten depressed. It is true that laughter is the best medicine ... well, laughter and chemo."
Two and a half years after doctors found his tumor, Van Henkelum remained on track to graduate at the top of his class on June 7.
An honor roll list taped to the glass near the principal's office includes his name each semester. Despite having to teach himself during the long days away from school while undergoing treatment, Van Henkelum maintained a 3.81 grade point average - enough to earn a couple of scholarships, one for the University of Arizona, the school he plans to attend in the fall.
"Right now I am undecided about what I want to major in - maybe something in history or aerospace engineering," he said, adding a laugh, "I think my family is worried about me though as they are trying to follow me out there."
Indeed, Van Henkelum maintains a close relationship with parents Paul and Carol, and brother and sister, Mike and Regina. All have remained sources of support throughout his illness.
"They have all been there for me and have been supportive during everything I have gone through," he said.
While it may have been easier to hide the tumor in a large public high school, attending the small close knit Catholic Central served as a healing balm as teachers, staff and students not only embraced Van Henkelum but his illness as well.
"Everyone there has been really supportive of me," he said. "My friends are so great and do whatever they can to keep my spirits up."
Prior to his first year of college, Van Henkelum will work at Block-buster Video, play on his computer and hang out with friends.
"I also plan to spend a lot of time out on the lake doing a little waterskiing or wakeboarding," he said. "I enjoy just being out there on the lake."
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Well, here it is--one of my first attempts at decorating a cake. Erin, bless his heart--volunteered me to make a cake for his teacher's retirement party that they are having tomorrow. My mom was such a masterful decorator--what on earth happened to me? In our case, the apple did fall from the tree!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I was living my dream. To be a Hollywood writer was everything I had wanted since I was a very young child. There was never a time in my life when I didn't know absolutely what I wanted to do. And there I was, a member of the WGA, a working Hollywood screenwriter. It was glorious. My life was so exciting! Each day was an adventure full of running to studios, pitching stories, writing and rewriting. Location shoots and lunching with Hollywood insiders.
I was so very fortunate to meet William Hanna of Hanna/Barbera fame. He told me he liked my "drive" ... my passion. It reminded him of his own. Bill quickly became my mentor and very good friend. He believed in me and my talent so much that it was this famous and very generous man who made it possible for me to be one of the first women to ever write for animation. Until then, it had been a closed boys club ... and yet, there I was writing dog dialogue for Scooby Doo in my own office at Hanna/Barbera Productions! How incredible it was to be sitting in the many recording sessions with all the big name voice-over talent.
I was so proud as I watched my talented husband, Joe, appearing on Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and Three's Company. Our friends were all in the business. We were surrounded by lights, cameras and action, all the things I had dreamed of and worked so hard to attain. It was an exciting time in my life. The strange thing was, I thought it would go on forever.
But under all the glamour and the fun, if you are in this industry very long you will find Hollywood's dirty little secret. What is that? Well ... Hollywood will not allow you to grow older! They simply won't allow it! They don't say it ... but it is made very clear. Opportunities to pitch stories stop coming your way. Meetings are difficult, if not impossible to get. It is heartbreaking and irreversible. You are on your way out! It is as though the "Hollywood Powers-That-Be" believe a human brain stops working, in any cognitive fashion, when you near the BIG 50! (A testimony to that thinking can be had by simply watching current TV.) I laugh when I think that just perhaps their skewed thinking has come back to bite them in the behind!
When it was clear that my life as a Hollywood Screenwriter was over, I was truly devastated. I felt my whole life finished. Depression and fears set in--stealing any joy I had left. Hollywood had done a good job on me. I bought all of the lies. And those lies almost killed me.
I was convinced my dream had been stolen. I was too old to ever have other dreams or to truly enjoy my life ever again. Going on living that way, wasn't an option.
But I was so very wrong! God simply had new dreams for me in this season of my life. But I didn't come to this discovery easily. It's taken time and the willingness to work with my own Life Coach. No, she didn't do it for me, but she listened to me ... gave me new ways to look at my life. Things I hadn't thought about in my devastated, crisis state. She asked the hard questions and I found answers. It was an amazing process.
Could it be that I was getting excited about life again? Together, my coach and I made a PLAN OF ACTION that fit me perfectly. I began slowly but surely to move toward a new dream.
My life coach shared her knowledge, giving me many incredible and solid life tools to deal head on with my depression and feelings of worthlessness. My faith became stronger and I was empowered to see the possibilities God was offering to me. And, with her encouragement, I had the desire to reach out and grab them! Wasn't this what Bill Hanna had loved about me? My drive! My enthusiasm? I realized I was the only one who had given up on me. God had done His part, as always .. now it took action on my part.
Would I give up on the rest of my life, brokenhearted over the past? Or would I find new vistas to conquer? I had a choice to make and I chose LIFE! I chose TODAY and all of my tomorrows. I looked at my life and all of the many trials and victories. I longed to share that with other women. To let them know they could achieve their dreams. It all became so clear! I began the study necessary for me to become a Certified Christian Life Coach. With my faithful readers, like you, at Ordinary Woman/Extraordinary God, who had been with me for so long, I began my practice.
Now, I want YOU all to experience the POSSIBILITIES for your lives! Don't give up! The definition of life is CHANGE. Helping other women walk through transitions using what I had been through myself became my passion ... My life is once again filled with excitement and I get up each day with true joy. I look forward to the day.
God had not taken dreams away, but given me new ones.
This is why I'm so passionate about Life Coaching. I've been where you are! Let's do this together.
Don't you want a Life Coach who has been in those stuck and dark places ... a coach who knows how it feels to be frozen in place by fear and hopelessness? Give it a 4-week try! You will be amazed at what you will accomplish.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Burlington is getting a new farmer's market in the park by the library. I am so excited as it is on a Thursday rather than Saturday and it is in the afternoon AND, can it get any better than this--they will be having live entertainment each week.
My mouth is salivating over the thought of spicy basil, savory cilantro, succulent crimson tomatoes and other luscious local farm fare. While we still enjoy the occasional trip to Madison for their enormous farmer's market--this will tide me over in between. I just ran out of our gallon jug of maple syrup and my 5 pound jar of clover honey--I hope someone brings those goodies!
Hope to see you there!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Christian Life seniors ready to find their purpose
May 31, 2008
By Karen Mahoney
Joy was mixed with sadness during this year's Christian Life High School graduation.
The 68 graduates listened Friday night in the First Assembly of God Church as the Rev. David Duncan, Pastor of Church of the City, Milwaukee, touched on the uncertainty of life while noting to the death of 2003 graduate Lance Corporal Richard "Ricky" Nelson while serving in Iraq with U.S. Marine Reserves.
"We need to savor our time and make our moments count," he said. "What if we have only 100 days until your one and only life is over? The truth is, we were never promised tomorrow."
Admitting that life has many ups and downs, Duncan told seniors to live as if they know they only have 100 days or less.
"Everyone dies, but not everyone lives," he said. "Live as God created you to live and live like you want to leave a legacy behind."
Co-salutatorian Christine Carroll invited students to turn the new chapters of their life stories into new adventures by following God's plan.
"The journey is a destination - a book that never ends," she said. "He wants us to travel the path toward holiness and the threshold to the vast unknown."
While it might be easier to sit back and watch the world pass by, Carroll challenged fellow graduates to find their purpose and to pursue it with passion and zeal in the Lord.
"Our greatest joy should be in enjoying life to the fullest and magnifying our service to Jesus Christ," she said. "Follow hard after God-that is a great blessing."
Among the greatest memories for co-salutatorian Alyssa Hafferkamp are the many teachers and their care and compassion toward each member of the student body. Whether it is a late night helping students study at Starbucks, or sharing their spirituality, the closeness and friendships formed will always be her fond memories.
"I remember walking through the halls and was surprised at first when teachers would ask if there was anything I wanted them to pray for," said Hafferkamp. "But that is the spiritual focus of everyone at this school. We are united as one spiritual body and while I know we probably won't all be together again after tonight - I know we will be reunited in heaven."
Valedictorian Bryan Adams prophesied the future for the graduating class while admitting that life will always be uncertain.
"What I can tell you is that the future holds unlimited opportunities for you. We live in the greatest country in the world and God gave you free will - it is up to you and you alone as to how you use it," he said. "Use your opportunities to get to a great place."
Adams encouraged students to go against the grain while living in a world of incivility.
"We live in a rude world, but we can be more civil and affect small changes that way," he said. "Don't complain, brag or gossip. I challenge all of you to rededicate yourselves to living a principled life. We can succeed and accomplish small goals and affect small changes. Of course we will have failures, but don't be afraid of them, we will be judged by our achievements and not by our stumbling blocks."