Sunday, July 26, 2009
I wanted something special for Erin to take to St. Lawrence with him, so with the help of my friend Debbie who helped me pick out the colors and give me great advice via email, I made my first disappearing nine patch quilt. In two of the panels I embroidered his name--he didn't know the quilt was his until he saw the embroidered patches. I think he is pleased, what do you think?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
When your children reject you, your values
By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald
(Last names withheld for privacy purposes.)
It's a living hell, a combination of grief, rage and obsession. It shares the horrors of divorce and bereavement. It is veiled in the same musty closet as suicide and mental illness, and is often kept silent - a well-guarded secret no one is to ever know. Yet, family estrangement can wreck lives.
The roots of estrangement can be trivial or monumental, layered in anything from a minor argument to sexual abuse, but the impasse that results affects all as they take on roles alternating from lost soul to furious ogre.
Regardless, whether the estrangement is complete or partial, the effects are deep and painful. For parents who have lovingly raised children in the Catholic faith, a sudden departure from them or their system of values can be painful and depressing.
Loss is unlike any other
When Gale and her husband Bruce, both 61, saw changes in their 44-year-old son six years ago, they were concerned.
"My son was sexually abused as a child and we took him for counseling and thought it had made a difference," she confessed. "I thought as a family that we had dealt with all this tragic happening, but apparently it is still haunting him and he may think in his mind that I didn't do enough to prevent it. But I swear, I didn't know until my younger son came and told me it was happening."
Last year, their son cut off all ties with his parents, leaving them feeling judged by their peers, depressed and as failures as parents.
Gale and Bruce met with their priest and joined support groups for help. However, their son has shown no interest in reconciling.
"This was the most horrible shame and the deepest pain that we have ever felt," said Gale. "I know it is all part of the process of grieving, but living this loss is unlike any other loss."
Gesture of kindness turns to disaster
When Elizabeth, 54, and her husband Scott, 55, allowed their oldest son and wife to live in their home temporarily while the younger couple were waiting to close the deal on a new home, neither expected their gesture of kindness to turn into disaster.
"I was overwhelmed with them here; it was very difficult," Elizabeth confessed. "One day, after they were particularly nasty to me, I wrote a note to my childhood friend that said, 'I hate my kids, I am not proud, but they have hurt my feelings so much.'"
Her son and his wife hacked into their mother's e-mail account and read her heart wrenching and clandestine confession to a friend. The sole blame and anger fell upon Elizabeth's shoulders.
Her son and daughter-in-law moved out of the home, and Elizabeth's apologies and requests for reconciliation were ignored.
"I tried reaching out to them, but they choose not to respond," she said. "So, although I think of them every single day, I have learned to get on with my life."
Daughter's departure leads to depression
The day 15-year-old Jade left home, Naomi and her husband John were rocked to the core. The family of four lived together where God was the center of everything. Both were heavily involved in parish activities; Naomi chaired the prayer and worship committee and their children were involved in outreach programs.
One evening, they were poring over Jade's upcoming extracurricular activities, discussing new classes and looking forward to a new year in high school. The next day she vanished.
"She had no part-time job when she left, no financial means to support herself, no driver's license, no education, nothing," said a tearful Naomi. "We had no idea what was going on."
To their horror, they learned that Jade had reported John and Naomi to child and family services for neglect. While the charges were unfounded and later proven false, the couple's relationship with friends, family and neighbors fell apart.
"Everyone seemed to turn against us," she said. "But our one constant and rock of faith and friendship in all of this was our interim pastor at our church. Jade took to the streets at one point, and I will never forget (our pastor) telling us some of the unreal places that he took himself to - for what? To look for our daughter. Our dear shepherd was looking with love for one of his lost sheep. There were no words; he was a strong presence for us back then."
For three years, Naomi suffered extreme depression over her daughter's departure. Withdrawn, she would spend days in bed, clutching the phone - holding on to the thread of hope that Jade would call.
"We didn't vacation at all for the first five years because we were afraid that she might call if we left," she confessed. "We tried counseling and involving her in the counseling, but she refused to show up."
After months of spending large amounts of money for a family therapist who was unable to help them without their daughter, they ended the sessions.
Estrangement is slow torture
Estrangement is a dramatic act, often initiated in a surge of fury, but its ramifications amount to slow torture. As Gale, Elizabeth and Naomi have testified, the anger and guilt haunts, nags and simply won't disappear.
"I felt completely like I had failed as a parent," Naomi said. "I blamed myself continually. I searched my heart and raked hot coals over my brain and memory bank to find something, anything!"
Many years later Naomi and John learned their daughter had a drug problem and two sets of friends - the Christian friends and the drug friends. The Christian friends were the only ones the couple ever saw.
"How could we have not seen the drug problem?" Naomi berated herself. "We have also learned she suffers with some mental health issues, and met a guy who lived without parents; she moved in with him and later had a son of her own."
While estrangement is generally the most devastating, parents also suffer with children who turn away from Catholicism, reject their parents' values, become sexually deviant or involved in drugs and alcohol abuse.
Kids are often a reflection on their parents, similar to a report card given to the child for his/her effort in school. If adult children take a vastly different path than their parents, parents are viewed from the outside, with disdain.
Need for accountability, forgiveness
When Jim Pankratz, marriage and family therapist for Catholic Charities and Catholic Herald Parenting columnist, counsels parents, he emphasizes the need for accountability and forgiveness. While it might be tempting to simply console the parents for their loss, it is important to bring them to a point where they can determine if they played a role in the problem or estrangement.
"I would ask them what it is that their adult children are doing and why do you think it is happening," said Pankratz. "I take a look at the family history and ask them to take a realistic look at what contributions they might have added to it. I don't do this to be mean, but the idea is that the only way we can resolve our doubts and things that plague us is if we are willing to do an accounting."
When parents do a self-analysis, they often admit they weren't perfect parents, and are willing to discuss their mistakes, which often leads to redemption and opens the doors for forgiveness.
Sometimes parents will equate love with agreement and will threaten disownment with disagreement.
"If a child comes home and makes opposite decisions, parents will sometimes say, 'We will disown you if this happens,'" Pankratz said. "This sets up a cutoff and the parent is saying that to belong to our family, you have to agree. The child learns this and uses it to cut his parents off later if they disagree."
Parents shouldn't take full responsibility
On the other spectrum, some parents want to place the entire burden on themselves, as Naomi and John found themselves doing.
"I would never tell an adult parent that they have to take full responsibility for what happened," said Pankratz. "I tell them to wait a minute; their children have free will. You can impart good values and come up with a belief system, but other variables are that their own personalities are already set before they are born. We don't decide that; they have genetically encoded free will and kids are exploring the world like we did and make choices due to societal influences. Unfortunately, those sometimes take priority."
When estrangement is complete, Pankratz advises parents to send a letter, e-mail or make a phone call to let their children know they harbor no resentments and are willing to meet halfway.
"It takes two people to cooperate for reconciliation," he said. "All you can do is to extend the invitation and if they answer yes, you can meet halfway and walk through to the other side."
Parents struggle with guilt, blame
If the child remains estranged from the parents, most times parents feel a strong sense of guilt. Those feelings are often confused with blame, but Pankratz noted that parents are attached to their kids because they have brought them into the world. They love them, and want only the best things for them.
"When they do crazy things or wrong things, we have the tendency to take on responsibility for this," he said. "Or even take on too little. I remind people that the feelings of guilt can be the feelings of the attachment to children. You took great care to protect them and make everything good for them, so why might you feel so bad? It is because of the attachment and deep down in your psyche you want to protect your kids from bad stuff. We can't do that, we don't have the power. We wish we did, but we don't."
No parent is perfect and every parent and every child makes bad decisions. The only difference is how those issues are tackled.
"Healthy families talk about their problems and are able to accept their own flaws and validate the other's concerns," said Pankratz. "Perfection is not obtainable, but our goal should be to deal the best we can with that imperfection."
Support groups, professional advice helpful
When Debby Pizur, director of the St. Stephen Family Life Center, counsels families dealing with drug, alcohol or mental health issues with their children, she recommends support groups and professional advice.
"People can contact 211 to find resources of the Mental Health Association, (414) 276-3122," she said.
She occasionally works with estranged families and, like Pankratz, advises a parent to keep the lines of communication open.
"Try not to judge your child," she said. "If possible, send cards, e-mails or phone messages marking holidays and birthdays, even if the child doesn't respond. At some point a child may reconnect with a parent and it will be easier if the parent has demonstrated that (he or she is) open to connecting with the child."
Pride often perpetuates the deadlock between parents and children, said Laura Davis, author of "I Thought We'd Never Speak Again."
"Being right is the loneliest place in the world," she writes.
Happy ending is possible
Estrangement is ultimately a sorry tale of pride and prejudice, but there is hope, and 14 years after Jade walked out, Naomi and John have their happy ending.
"She recently sent me an e-mail and wants to meet and wants us in her son's life," said Naomi. "She said she missed all of us."
After she stopped blaming herself, Naomi began rediscovering through support groups and prayer who she was and what God thought of her. She encourages any parent going through estrangement to find ways to heal.
"I began walking and praying the labyrinth, meditating, painting water color and acrylics," she said. "I also began journaling my feelings, playing classical and Celtic guitar, helping anyone I can, and cherish those who have stood by us."
Although the judgments along the way were harsh and painful, Naomi experienced freedom when she learned to let go of the gossip, cruelty and staring eyes of family and friends.
"The day I became free of the judging was the day I decided that the only judgment I would acknowledge was that of my God, my creator," she said. "Truly, he was the only entity that could ever really know to whom judgment should be served and that is who I serve."
Partnership aims to treat mind, spirit, body
By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald
BROWN DEER - It used to be, when a doctor recommended medical treatment, the patient might change diets, have surgery, or begin taking a cocktail of prescription medications to combat the disease.
Now, a doctor at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare can also write a "prescription" for exercise and watch the patient's life transform.
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee recently unveiled a transformation of the former Schroeder Branch YMCA campus into the YMCA Healthy Lifestyle Village, 9250 N. Green Bay Road.
Joined by a common lobby attached to the facility, now known as Rite-Hite Family YMCA, the 60,000-square foot, three-story building houses Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Brown Deer, an endoscopy suite, pain management center, full service imaging, nuclear medicine, cardiac stress testing, physical therapy, medical laboratory and an urgent care center.
"From the very inception of this partnership we have been working with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in order to provide relevant and innovative programs to our members and the community as a whole," said Bob Yamachika, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. "Our newly renovated Rite-Hite Family YMCA provides members and the community the opportunity to live healthier in spirit, mind and body, and their options are enhanced through the offerings at Wheaton."
The YMCA offers individual and family programs in fitness, aquatics, pre-school, day camp, family and teen programs. Older adults will find the village convenient and welcoming, said Lori Holly, spokesperson for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.
"This unique partnership helps families and individuals to develop a plan for a healthier lifestyle. By combining the services and expertise of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare and the Rite-Hite Family YMCA, families and individuals can be proactive about their health and their health care."
Those over 50 will be pleased to find services specifically for them, such as cardiac testing, vascular testing, a GI center, and management for back and neck pain, headaches, disc herniations, spinal stenosis and arthritis.
"We also have a performance center that provides physical therapy for conditions such as neurologic impairments, balance and dizziness with a fall prevention program," said Holly. "We also offer biofeedback, pelvic floor rehabilitation for incontinence, functional capacity evaluations and muscle testing and strengthening."
Patients are excited with the combined facility and the opportunity to make significant changes in their overall health with activities such as water exercise, yoga stretch, senior fitness, Parkinson's class and SilverSneakers classes.
Additionally, the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center offers senior water exercise classes to focus on low impact programs that can benefit adults with arthritis and arthritis related conditions. According to Holly, the water provides gentle resistance to build muscle strength and supports joints to encourage free movement.
Following exercise, gathering places offer seniors a place to relax.
"Informational programs on various topics are offered to exercise the mind, while regular socials, potlucks and other events feed the spirit," said Holly. "The efficiencies and benefits we can afford those who visit the YMCA Healthy Lifestyle village are great."
We can provide a comprehensive solution to critical health and fitness challenges. The two organizations, through this joint effort, can integrate services to help address health issues that area residents face, such as obesity. In addition, independent YMCA research conducted locally showed members are asking for more health and wellness education and services to promote a healthier lifestyle. Through this partnership, we will be able to meet that need."
Senior couple enjoys second chance at love
By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald
KENOSHA - When Ken and Shirley Burman met by the swimming pool at Reuther High School in Kenosha, marriage was the furthest thing from either one's mind.
Both had been married to their respective spouses for many happy years, and lost them within a couple of months of each other.
Both were grieving when they met and fell in love.
According to Ken, 73, he and Shirley, 75, crossed paths five years before their spouses died through the Kenosha Senior Center swimming program; he was a lifeguard and she a swimmer, but at that time, they were just acquaintances.
After losing their spouses to cancer, the two began talking and going to breakfast.
"We never really had a date," laughed Shirley, "And when I told my girlfriend that we were going to get married, she said, 'Shirley, you are supposed to hit on the lifeguard when you are 17, not 70.'"
Seven months later, on Dec. 10, 2005, the two were married in front of 200 friends and family in the community room at St. Catherine Commons retirement community, where they would begin their lives as husband and wife.
Although Shirley was a member of St. Anne Parish in Pleasant Prairie, they were married at St. Catherine because the church would not be dedicated until the next day. They also wanted to get married while Ken's 103-year-old father, Tony, was healthy enough to attend the ceremony.
"Shirley was a volunteer at St. Anne and Archbishop (Timothy M.) Dolan was coming to bless the church, so we went to the first Mass," said Ken. "During the Mass, the pastor, Fr. Don Thimm, announced our marriage and the archbishop gave us a blessing. He said to us, 'I am surprised you are here - why aren't you on a honeymoon?' I didn't know what to say, so I just said, 'Oh, we feel like this is our honeymoon.'"
The couple jokes that the blessing was so powerful that it encouraged Ken to convert to the Catholic faith.
"Fr. Don was wonderful and worked with me every step of the way," he said. "I am so happy that I now share the same faith as Shirley."
Locals remember the community as the former home to St. Catherine Hospital.
Overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan and across the street from Kenosha's Pennoyer Park, a familiar location for outdoor summer concerts and the annual community Mass, the Burmans enjoy active lives at St. Catherine Commons.
"Ken does triathlons and this location is perfect for him to go running, biking, walking, swimming - just about anything," said Shirley. "Living here also gives us the freedom to do what we like best - travel. We keep a trailer in West Bend and visit it often."
Lifelong Kenosha residents, Ken, who retired from American Motors in 1997, and Shirley, who also retired in 1997 as a human resource assistant at Snap-On Tool, stay in contact with friends and Shirley's large and close-knit family, complete with an interesting gender pattern.
"I have six kids - three boys and three girls, 16 grandkids, eight girls and eight boys, and six great grandchildren and you guessed it, three of each," she said. "That pattern will be coming to an end though as one more great grandchild is on the way."
When Ken isn't running marathons, bike riding or swimming with Shirley, he volunteers at the Wildlife Refuge and Horicon Marsh. Shirley plays cards with family, bakes with her grandchildren, and visits the on-campus grocery store if she runs out of an essential ingredient.
"That store is such a convenience and they don't make a profit on it," she said. "They just make items available for us so we don't have to run to the store if we need eggs or coffee, or some other essential. They are so good to us and this place is so well run; I love it here."
With more than 160 one- and two-bedroom apartments, the social benefits are limitless. Residents can enjoy a full calendar of activities, such as a weekly rosary, Catholic prayer services, shopping excursions, dances, bowling, cards, bus trips, bingo, mystery dinner theatre, and even Wii fitness programs.
"We also have a beauty shop, bank, library with Internet, hobby room, chapel, Wednesday night movies, a fitness room, pool table room, and a café," said Shirley, adding, "And for those who want them, they offer hot meals every day at noon."
Meticulous gardens surround a statue of St. Catherine and St. Bernadette of Lourdes, and enhance the European architectural style, including Spanish stone roof shingles. Several apartment styles are available, including a del Mare Villa ranch style apartment home. The expansive lake view is what drew the Burmans to St. Catherine Commons.
"We originally thought we'd live at the Towers (a condo community in Kenosha), but once we saw this apartment and saw that it faced the lake, we knew it was right for us," said Ken. "The neighbors are wonderful. We are close friends with the people right across the hall and I often go biking with one of them."
After 56 marathons, Ken admitted it is harder for him to continue the pace. However, it's not his age that is holding him back - it's married life.
"My buddies tease me that I can't be there to compete all the time," laughed Ken. "But I tell them that they forget what it is like to be newly married. Because we are older, we have each other and don't like being apart. We do a lot traveling. Life can be good when you are older if you are in good health."
No plans to trade running shoes for slippers
By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald
MILWAUKEE - No one can say Gene Le Boeuf is lazy.
By 3:30 every morning, he is on Milwaukee streets training for his next competitive run/walk.
He completed the Bellin 10K run/walk in Green Bay last month with a time of 2:02:49; it was one of several run/walk events in which he has competed. He's also jumped out of an airplane, gone power parachuting, hang gliding, taken a balloon ride, and has completed training to do a static jump out of an airplane.
Currently training for the GermanFest 5K run/walk to raise money for St. Ben's Community Meal Program, a Capuchin ministry that feeds Milwaukee's homeless, Le Boeuf juggles his workout schedule with a job that keeps him on his feet all day.
He's also been fast walking for 29 years.
Still not impressed with Le Boeuf?
He is 85 years old.
"I just don't want to become a couch potato," admitted Le Boeuf. "There are times I wake up in the morning and say, 'I sure would like to go back to sleep.' I am not aggressive, but after my first heart surgery I became a believer in exercise."
You read correctly. In 1980 and 1989, Le Boeuf had heart bypass surgery after suffering angina pain. Never one to watch his diet or exercise, he started listening to his doctor and was determined to get in better shape to beat the odds of recurring heart disorders.
"I retired in 1983 as vice president of sales and marketing from Feeco International in Green Bay," he said. "I set up a consulting company and worked for my previous employer and got busy doing work for others. Along the way, I ran out of time to do what my previous employer wanted done. So, in 1995, I went to Jordan, stayed on six months and supervised a seven-story, steel building over there."
After Le Boeuf's wife died from complications of a stroke, he was uncomfortable with the emptiness of the house and looked for a community in which to live.
He investigated opportunities such as the Peace Corps, but instead entered the Capuchin Community at St. Benedict where he has lived and worked the past six years.
Serving as St. Benedict plant manager, Le Boeuf oversees the maintenance of four buildings on the campus. Much of the repair work he does himself; for larger projects he procures contractor bids and presents them to the board for approval.
"We recently replaced 78 windows here and a steam line between the church and the center's house," he said, adding, "But as usual with most projects, some unforeseen problems seem to crop up."
When he isn't training, participating in events, working or involved in the ministries of St. Benedict, Le Boeuf spends time working on his memoirs.
"I wanted to put it all down in writing for my five children, 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren," he said. "I work on it whenever I can find the time."
While he doesn't often see many 80-plus participants in the run/walk events, Le Boeuf has come across a few and is challenged by the fact that some are in better shape than he is.
"I couldn't believe this one guy," he said. "I was doing a 10K and falling behind this lean guy who was quite a bit older than me. He passed me up with ease but I was surprised, and by the end of the 10K, I passed him. He ran out of gas."
His numbers are impressive. For the 10K Bellin event, his mile pace was around 19:46. Although he has taken first place in some races, only one thing really matters.
"I don't care about winning, I just care about not coming in last," he said, laughing. "I try to pace myself and keep my stride even."
The July 23 run/walk for St. Ben's is important for Le Boeuf, who just might be the oldest participant in the annual event.
"They do so much good for so many people, over 2,000 hungry people are served each week," he said.
Le Boeuf is not planning to trade his running shoes for slippers anytime soon.
"I plan to continue as long as my knees hold out," he said, "I wear two knee braces because one knee is bad and doesn't line up and the other one is just a little worn out. I am thankful I have the braces because I wouldn't be able to do what I do without them."
The four children shown in the center of the quilt are descendants of pioneer families at St. Mary Visitation and are members of the St. Mary School class of 2009. Suzanne Riggio took their pictures when they were in first grade. From left, Jack Ordman, Mary Kate Berens, Brigitte Potter, and Joseph Puchner. The quilt commemorates the school's 150th anniversary. (Catholic Herald photos by Ernie Mastroianni)
Artist captures history in fabric
By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald
ELM GROVE - Quilts are created piece by piece, often revealing family histories in the process. Suzanne Riggio, 76, a member of St. Mary Visitation Church has woven a common thread that binds the two.
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of St. Mary Visitation School and its relationship with the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Riggio, a quilt artist, created an elaborate and unique quilt chronicling the school's history.
Eleven years in the making, the 57-inch wide by 75-inch long quilt centers on the origins of the School Sisters of Notre Dame located on Watertown Plank Road and the way their lives are woven into the families of a century and a half of students.
"The famous story, depicted on the quilt, is that Mother Caroline's horse simply stopped on the old plank road and wouldn't go any further," explained Kathy Smith, parishioner and school volunteer. "So she took it as a sign from God that this was where she should build. The SSND on Watertown Plank was built on that spot and since the mission of the SSND is education, they began a school."
While the parish and the sisters celebrated their 150th anniversaries a few years ago, the history of the school is depicted on the quilt, along with written pieces that accompany the pictures.
When the parish senior citizen group organized a showing of Riggio's quilts in 1997, Smith and the late Fr. Dan Pakenham were impressed by the quality and intricacy of her work. Both were looking for a means to honor the retiring Sr. Betty Uchytil, the last principal from the School Sisters of Notre Dame religious order.
"I went to Fr. Dan and asked about commissioning a quilt," said Smith. "He gave the go-ahead as long as I was willing to find the funding. With Suzanne's help, we covered the cost with a combination of private gifts and grants that she applied for and received."
A long time supporter of the fine arts, Fr. Pakenham anticipated the quilt as a lasting and appropriate gift to honor Sr. Uchytil, while commemorating the 150th anniversary of the school.
Throughout the 11-year period, much of Riggio's efforts were consumed with research, alternated with sketching the design, piecing and sewing. In the midst of the project, she endured several surgeries that left her paralyzed from the waist down, and required many physical therapy sessions. Despite her ailments, she continued to work on the heirloom.
According to Riggio, she spent the early years reading, photographing, and speaking with members of St. Mary Parish.
"This allowed me to find the various elements that were the heart and soul of St. Mary's School," she said. "I made lists. Then I sketched my layout, which included these many elements, and ran them by Fr. Dan, who approved them."
Comprised of a variety of fabrics, such as cottons, silks, polyesters, nylon, tulle, Ultrasuede, prismatic foil, and computer printout fabric, Riggio also used embroidery and silk threads, braids, beads, glitter, lamé, sheers, ink, cords, gold jewelry, and oboe string.
"The oboe string was used for the shoe strings on the tennis shoes of the 2009 children depicted on the quilt," she said. "I used the prismatic foil for the stained glass. I had seen it demonstrated at a meeting of the Professional Art Quilters Alliance in Chicago and had obtained a sample of silver color. The vendor was from Maryland, but was in Japan at the time I went looking for the material, so I e-mailed her and she sent me a packet of every color she had."
To ensure historical accuracy, Riggio researched the school's history and donated much of her work to the Elm Grove library because so much of the SSND's and St. Mary's history are integral to the village.
"All the land that comprises the village grounds, including the park, police department, fire department, and library, originally belonged to the SSND, who donated it to the village," said Smith. "As part of the grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Suzanne was required to teach students at St. Mary about the history and how she was going to depict it."
Because she was not a native of Elm Grove, and only joined the parish in 1995, after moving from West Virginia, Riggio used videotapes, books, old photos, family histories, new photos and interviews to complete the research for her design.
Creating the rose window stained glass design in the back of the current church was a challenge, as organ pipes cover most of the window. To piece the design together, Riggio took photos of the window in between the organ pipes, as well as from the outside during the night, when the lights in the church were on.
"I wrote to Conrad Schmidt Studios who were able to provide me with two-thirds of the cartoon of the window," she said. "When the window was done, I brought it to St. Mary to show Fr. Dan and to the classes at school and I was on my way!"
From a distance, the quilt depicts various stained glass windows, maps of the area, changing styles of the church and school buildings, and school children dressed as they were 150 years ago and now. Up close, the detail is impressive and surprising to the viewer, and Riggio likes it that way.
"I show Watertown Plank Road through Elm Grove when it really was a plank road between Milwaukee and Watertown," she said. "Picket fencing is made of 3-D strops of Ultrasuede with flowers in the yard peeking through. The white church on the triangle has lightening rods topped by glass balls - teeny beads, actually."
The rosaries on two nuns pictured on the quilt are from pieces of jewelry, and she used an actual 1859 dress provided by the SSND's archivist, Sr. Suzanne Renee, as the model for the girl's 1859 garment.
"The map of Elm Grove in the lower right shows not only the real estate transactions through the years, but also the location of the first Catholic church, St. Ambrose, in the area," said Riggio. "The Milwaukee map in the upper right shows the block where the first convent of the School Sisters of Notre Dame was. In the image of the school complex before remodeling, there is the blue awning printed with St. Mary School."
Reactions from onlookers have been overwhelming. Most cannot believe that among the many details included in the design, Riggio managed to capture the first convent and old milk house school with such detail as to include the fieldstone base and grapevine that is still thriving. The 1913 school depicts one of the two outhouses, and the four corners of the quilt show monstrances.
"I paid attention to the skies and vegetation, especially the flowers, and all the seasons are represented," said Riggio, adding, "The four children shown in the center are from the class of 2009, I took their pictures one early morning when they were in the first grade. They are from left: Jack Ordman, Mary Kate Berens, Brigitte Potter, and Joseph Puchner. All are descendants of pioneer families at St. Mary Visitation."
While she has created other heirloom quilts for her children, this project was the most challenging of her quilting career.
"Art quilting is my third career. My second career was in music. I was the dean of music at the University of Charleston and principal horn in the West Virginia Symphony," explained Riggio. "I began quilting in 1990 after I retired. I've made 130 quilts, some of which are commissions. My husband Donald and I have five children - and they were my first career."
The only drawback to the quilt is that Fr. Pakenham did not live to see the completed project, but prior to his death, he ensured that a double sided glass case was built that would protect the heirloom.
"We can't express how sad we are that he isn't here to see it finally completed," said Smith. "He did see it almost completed shortly before he passed away."
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Kenosha News correspondent
Some people think of Paul Daily as a “horse whisperer,” but the Trout, La., man doesn’t really care for the term.
“I am just an old country boy who knows a thing or two about horses,” he said in his soft southern drawl. “There is no secret with horse training. It is all in loving on the horse, reading their body movements and reactions, and listening to what the horse can tell you. And I tell you, I learn something new every day because like with humans, no two horses are alike.”
Daily used his experience while at Parkside Baptist Church, 2620 14th Place, on July 12 when he gave a two-hour demonstration for more than 100 people. The presentation took place in a round pen with Dancer, a 3-year-old unbroken horse belonging to Kayce Rozanske, of Raymond, who has owned it for a month.
“He has just had minimal handling,” said Rozanske, adding, “This will be good for him. But I feel sorry for the dog.”
The dog is a big part of Daily’s ministry, providing antagonism to the horse similar to the way the devil plays a part in human lives. Daily explained this as the dog ran around Dancer’s feet, in and out of the pen.
“He runs around the horse, snipping and snapping and trying to get the horse’s attention off of me,” Daily said. “But the horse has to make a choice to listen to me or the dog. It is the same with us. Do we listen to the devil or do we listen to God?”
Daily’s presentation is part of Wild Horse Ministries, a non-denominational, non-profit ministry he founded in February 1997.
“I am not a preacher, and I’m not here to drive this down people’s throats. It’s an honor to serve the Lord, and I am here to offer people the message of God,” said Daily, who works alongside his children, Lenora and Dan, and two assistants. “Every horse is fresh and new, and it’s always a bit different.”
The horseman sees himself in every horse he works with, he said, and his unique approach has won the trust of horses and brought people closer to God through his outreach.
“I say every horse is a mirror with hair on it,” Daily said. “They show us the uniqueness of God because no two horses and no two people are alike. That’s what brought this ministry about. He showed me myself in these horses and changed my life. So, that’s what we do, we travel around and share with people the similarities between horse training and saving souls.”
Years ago, while working a horse in a round pen, it dawned on Daily that the horse’s responses to his actions were similar to the way people react to the Lord. Inspired by this revelation, he developed a concept of teaching life’s lessons.
After his initial demonstration in 1997, word spread about his ministry. By 2000, Daily became a full-time horse trainer, and he travels throughout the country sharing his message. He trains approximately 10 horses per month, while encouraging his audiences to form a relationship with God.
Although flighty at first, Dancer relaxed as Daily began working with him.
“You have to enter the horse’s world to work with him,” he said, as he gently stroked the animal’s back and belly, placing a blanket on his back. “You have to think like a horse.”
Within two hours, Daily not only had Dancer coming to him, but he saddled him, rode him and had his 20-year-old daughter, Lenora, on his back. As the horse bucked around the pen a couple of times, he told the crowd that God never promised anyone a rosy trip, but he did promise he would be with them to the end.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
So, I drive all around Wheatland Center School with a trail of SUV's behind me and notice a small piece of blue paper taped to the south door. I park my vehicle, haul my body out of the door and squint.
Why do I squint?
Because the idiots that wrote the note, wrote it in tiny blue print with penmanship that would make a doctor shudder.
The note was short, simple and while tiny, to the point.
It said, 'school board meeting canceled'
That was it-
you would think that at least notifying the media would be smart, wouldn't it?
After all, the media are the people responsible for making it known that you want another $300,000 referendum, right?
Somewhere along the line, academics took the place of consideration for others.
Forget academia--I'll take the considerate ones any day
Saturday, July 11, 2009
|Norwegian native Tone Forunn Tveito was welcomed to Col. Heg Park in Wind Lake last week along with other members of a tour group from the Telemark region of Norway.|
Only the weather gets an 'uff da!'
Touring Norwegians greeted and feted, American-style
Under a steamy pavilion at Col. Heg Park in Wind Lake last week, men grilled brats and burgers while dozens of guests lined up to sample potato salad, watermelon, baked beans, cookies and lemonade.
At first glance, this seemed to be a family reunion or an old-fashioned American picnic ... except, after a bit of eavesdropping, all the visitors can be heard speaking Norwegian.
As guests of Bob and Donna Malsack, 42 members of a group named Telelaget are dedicated to preserving the history of people who came to America from Telemark, a mountain region of Norway.
On June 24, the Wind Lake couple paired with Marilyn Canfield, president of the Norway Historical Society, to offer the group a traditional picnic in the park dedicated to Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant who served as a colonel and brigade commander in the Union Army during the Civil War.
According to Canfield, the Telelaget group recently arrived in the United States to attend an annual "stevne," a time to gather with others interested in the history, culture, crafts and food of Norwegian Americans.
"Every year the stevne is held in a different place and it helps to provide connections between the Norwegians and their family living here," she said.
"They are very interested in learning about our culture, so what is more Wisconsin than having an American picnic?"
The Wind Lake location provided opportunity for the group to view the statue of Col. Heg, visit his grave at Norway Lutheran Church Cemetery across the street and then tour the museum on the park grounds and in the basement of the old church.
The park's museum has a new display set up in honor of the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway, who came to visit Wind Lake in June 1939, added Canfield. "They were really taken with that exhibit."
For Harald Omnes from Lunde, Norway, the group's ten-day excursion through Norwegian communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin was a pleasant blend of American and Norwegian culture.
"This has been an excellent trip," he said. "We toured the Twin Cities to Northfield, saw many of our relatives, attended a program and had several dinner parties."
While Omnes, a forester, liked the midwestern topography, friendliness, hospitality and American culture, he admitted that there had been one drawback.
"Well, some of the people are having trouble with the hot weather," he said. "We aren't used to that in Norway, but it doesn't bother me - I have spent time in Africa and every day the weather was like it is today."
A beaming Tone Forunn Tveito from Tokke, in western Telemark didn't mind the steamy temperatures either. A 32-year-old radio broadcaster and singer, Tveito said she used any excuse to stand under our sunny skies.
"Oh it is wonderful, I sat and watched the children play games on the play equipment and I got pretty warm, but I love it, I love everything about America," she said, adding: "I love the openness and homey-ness of the people."
Besides locating relatives living in the Midwest from Telemark, the group traveled around by tour bus and experienced life on family farms along the way, bridging old connections and making new.
One of the most interesting Midwestern experiences for Tveito is one most Wisconsinites take for granted.
"They roasted a giant pig," she said, stretching her arms wide. "It was on a spit and then we ate it. It was the first time I ever saw something like that and it tasted very good."
Following their visit to Wind Lake, the group headed to Milwaukee and planned to attend a concert before returning home to Norway on June 27.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Elin Lansdown, of Kenosha, had tried everything to stem her dog Zeus’ chronic itching and skin problems, but to no avail.
Her miniature pincher had suffered terribly the entire nine years of his life, and despite trying more than 10 different dog foods, nothing seemed to work.
That was until Lansdown discovered the wonders of home-cooked dog food.
“Within two weeks Zeus went from being a moth-eaten dog with big patches of no hair, dandruff, sore feet and no energy, to acting like a puppy again,” she said. “He is willing to go outside, run, play, and all his hair has grown back. I am happy for him because he is happy.”
Like Lansdown, Carol Woosley, also of Kenosha, was looking for ways to improve the health of her rescue dog, Franny, a Keeshond-mix, with a little home cooking.
While some pet owners have become more vigilant after several dozen cats and dogs died from melamine-laced pet food, Lansdown and Woosley began preparing food for their pets strictly for the health benefits.
Similar to Zeus, Franny also had a thin coat of fur that was course, dry and brittle.
“Now she looks like a lion with a shiny coat, and she is sprouting fur like a Chia Pet,” Woosley said with a laugh. “Her dry skin is better. She is happier and seems to feel so much better.”
Financially, making homemade pet food might cost more or less depending on the type of diet the dog originally was eating. For some, who due to allergies rely on prescription foods, homemade food might be a cheaper alternative. For those who primarily purchase food on the retail level, homemade food is generally pricier and, of course, a bit more time consuming.
Lansdown spends about 30 minutes and approximately $9 per week preparing Zeus’ food, which consists of a combination of pork, beef, beets, corn, apple, cabbage, and wheat germ, a recipe she and her husband, Tom, compiled based on research from animal advocate and veterinarian Dr. William Cusick, author of the book “Canine Nutrition.” He believes in a diet that is breed specific and corresponds with the dog’s original habitat.
“I cook everything but the apple and put it through a food processor and really mush it up,” Lansdown said. “Then I add chopped apple and split it in freezer bags for the week.”
The food is so popular for the formerly finicky Zeus that he dances and performs tricks when Lansdown brings it out.
“This dog has been trouble since the day I got him, food-wise, behavior-wise, he has been trouble,” she said. “Now he is good all the time. I just can’t get over it. I will keep him on this. It’s wonderful.”
Using a combination of onethird meat, one-third grain, and one-third vegetable, Woosley developed Franny’s diet after observing the success her friend Barbara Malone, formerly of Lake Geneva and now a resident of Kentucky, has had raising her American Kennel Club Brussels Griffon dogs.
“She makes all her own food, and her dogs do very well. So I figured I would try it too,” Woosley said. “I have not figured out exactly how much it costs, but it is much cheaper than the expensive food I was purchasing for her.”
After researching the book “Pet Food Nation,” by Joan Weiskopf, Woosley decided to combine a home-cooked diet with Franny’s kibbles. After the positive results, she doesn’t plan to go back to 100 percent commercial food again.
While neither Lansdown or Woosley consulted with their veterinarians about the home-cooked diet, Dr. Maggie Regner, owner of Regner Veterinary Clinic, 10715 75th St., sees no problem with it, as long as the dog is monitored by a veterinarian.
“There are proper ways of doing this, the dogs need certain amino acids and carnitine found in every brand of dog food. It needs to be supplemented in home diets,” she said. “But as long as it is done to make sure the pet is getting proper nutrition, the pet should do fine.”
Another alternative to the homemade diet, according to Regner, is the BARF diet, an acronym for Bones and Raw Food diet.
“All of the vets in my practice have had extensive training in nutrition and allergies, and we have found that a lot of allergies stem from poor nutrition and the processed foods are not as good as you think they are,” she said. “The public is very misinformed when it comes to commercial pet food, and we educate on different styles of food. The BARF diet is an excellent plan if you don’t want to make your own.”
Elin Lansdown cooks ground pork to be added to her homemade dog food.
Ingredients in Elin Lansdown’s homemade dog food are cabbage, potatoes, corn, ground pork and beef.
Zeus enjoys a bowl of homemade dog food prepared by his owner.
KENOSHA NEWS PHOTOS BY SEAN KRAJACIC Elin Lansdown, of Kenosha, feeds a piece of cabbage to her miniature pincher, Zeus. The dog suffered from chronic itching and skin problems until Lansdown discovered the wonders of homemade dog food.
|7/9/2009 12:00:00 PM||Email this article • Print this article|
Former crime fighter turns to church work
E. Michael McCann earns certificate in lay ministry
By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald
MILWAUKEE - Born more than 71 years ago and a product of Catholic school education from elementary school through law school, E. Michael McCann remembers the Latin Mass and incense. He occasionally thumbs through his pre-Vatican II missal.
So why, after serving as Milwaukee County's district attorney longer than anyone else in the country and prosecuting such high profile cases such as that of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmar, did he decide to spend two more years in Catholic school?
McCann and 11 others graduated May 12, with a certificate in lay ministry from the St. Clare Center for Ministry Formation at Cardinal Stritch University.
"When I finished college in 1959, it was before the explosion in theology, and when it did start growing in the '60s, it grew into a liberation theology. I was always interested in learning more about theology and my faith, but I never had the courage to jump in on my own," he said. "I wanted the guidance of a teacher. I loved the church and have been a frequent communicant for a long time."
Center met lay
Originally, McCann looked into the now defunct lay ministry program at Saint Francis Seminary. It was terminated in 2006 when academic formation for seminarians was moved from the archdiocesan seminary to Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corners.
"I started looking around and then found the Cardinal Stritch program, which was academically based, and decided it was for me," he said. "It was much more than I thought and was grateful for the opportunity to do it."
Approved by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in June 2007, the St. Clare Center was an answer to bringing back lay formation and educational programs, while creating its mission around the 2005 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' document, "Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord."
As director of the St. Clare Center, and chair of religious studies at Cardinal Stritch University, Dan Scholz said the church does a great job with the academic formation of priests and deacons, but Stritch's programming addresses the needs of the laity.
"The archdiocese meets the needs with four elements and is set up to deliver spiritual, pastoral, and human formation departments, and now we deliver the intellectual," he said. "We offer the certificate program and a master's program."
The St. Clare Center also offers a no commitment Pentecost Mission that consists of a series of eight Saturday morning meetings.
"We have professional speakers with instant name recognition and credibility, such as Fr. Andy Nelson, Bishop (Richard J.) Sklba and others," said Scholz. "We offer breakfast, and a speaker on a different topic each week. This is wildly popular and the archdiocese offers basic religious education spirituality credit for the class, but there are no pre-requisites. You can go to as many as you want."
Twelve apostles met weekly
Affectionately referred to by staff as "the 12 apostles," the dozen students met Tuesday evenings and every other Saturday for four semesters. The program's goal is to educate and form people who are already active in their parishes. While the master's program prepares students for paid leadership, the semi-professional certificate program prepares its students to be better volunteers in their parishes.
Participants must be Catholic, must have a letter of endorsement from their pastor, and a desire to become involved in the parish in some way. The program is a confirmation to Scholz that Catholics strongly desire to learn more about their faith. The 2010 graduating class will consist of 40 students and 80 have registered for the upcoming two-year commitment.
Noting that next year, classes in both the English and Spanish will graduate, he said, "I am so excited about this and it keeps growing. This is good news after losing the program at the seminary - but more and better growth is coming out of this. It's wonderful."
Classes were spirit-lifting
For McCann, enrolling in the lay ministry program was an abrupt change from dealing with crime, and it offered him the freedom to experience a new vision, love and appreciation for his Catholic faith.
"I was the oldest in the group; the next was a retired teacher in her 60s. We had a couple of converts who had very good command of the Scriptures and as a cradle Catholic, I was quite impressed by it," he said. "It was terribly interesting and I appreciated the scriptural studies and how focused on Christ the classes were. It was, of course, a lot of time and commitment but it was something I had wanted to do for a long time."
While his personal reasons for taking the course were to learn more about his faith, and to be challenged, McCann did not expect the classes to lift his spirits as they did. In his profession dealing with hatred and depravity, walking into the dismal prisons often derided his soul to the core.
"When I would walk into the prisons my spirits would just drop; they were so filled with despair," he admitted. "But when I went to school, something about the teachers, the classes and the people just lifted my spirits. I could feel them soar."
Besides Harvard, McCann spent most of his life involved in Jesuit spirituality. He graduated from Marquette University High School, the University of Detroit and Georgetown University, and is a member of Gesu Church in Milwaukee. The contrast between Ignation spirituality and Franciscan is significant, and one that he quickly learned to appreciate.
"I had never been exposed to Franciscan spirituality and they are quite different than the steely organized Jesuits," he said. "In fact, the St. Ignatius Prayer for Generosity says, 'Lord, teach me the courage to fight and not to heed the wounds,' and the Prayer of St Francis is such a contrast, 'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.' It's quite fun to see the contrast between the two."
Students learned, grew together
Besides accolades for the instructors, McCann praised the students who often came together helping each other to understand and succeed.
"The students were all wonderful and we participated together in faith-sharing and trying to ensure we all grew together. It was far different than my college experiences where students would often undermine another in order to get ahead," he said.
While he isn't planning to use his certification for a personal agenda or to earn any type of position in the parish, he feels the education will bolster his knowledge of the Catholic faith.
"I am more committed to my faith than ever," he said. "I have attended daily Mass since I was a teen and I thought I knew everything about liturgy. But now I know a lot more and it has given me a keen desire to learn more. For example, I know nothing about music; I enjoy it, but if I knew more about it, I would enjoy it more. This is how I feel after taking the course. I know more about the Mass and it makes it more of a joy to attend."
Already involved in the endowment committee at Gesu, McCann volunteers with Birthright, an organization assisting women in troubled circumstances who choose to keep their children, the Salvation Army's adult rehabilitation center, Children's Village, and St. Vincent de Paul Society; McCann also assists with Gesu's twin parish in Haiti and looks forward to other volunteer opportunities.
"My wife, Barbara, and I have been to Haiti several times and enjoy assisting over there," he said. "She has been wonderful and tolerant these past two years while I have been gone so many Saturdays. She often jokingly refers to me as 'Reverend' now - but I am not that and not a deacon; I am just Mike."
Last night I was dreading the long drive to Cardinal Stritch College to cover a new group of Secular Franciscans. I wasn't dreading the story--but the long drive.
I don't care to drive in Milwaukee freeway traffic during rush hour and last night was no exception.
I prayed on the way for safe travel and a good experience. Upon my arrival, I was greeting with Paul, the minister of the group and immediately felt at home.
I learned after visiting for a while that he and the regional minister were both alums of St. Lawrence Seminary High School, where Erin will be attending in a few short weeks.
Both were wonderful men and encouraging of Erin's decision to go away to school and mentioned that SLS has a secular Franciscan order that he could join if interested.
I had only planned to stay 15-20 minutes at the meeting, but found myself having a hard time tearing myself away more than an hour later. Each member of the group were excited, vibrant and loving. Never boastful, they were humble and self-less and kind. I miss the kindness of strangers--and haven't experienced it for a long time.
It was as if God was drawing me to this vibrant, selfless group and saying, "here is where you belong."
Over the years, my husband and I have been drawn to a long line of wonderful Franciscans. Fr. Joachim and Fr. Dacian were both spiritual advisers to us and there was always that something, that made us feel as if we should be with them, rather in the trappings of the world.
Maybe, just maybe after I write my story, we will go together and explore the life of St. Francis and begin the discernment process.
Awesome-thank you God
Monday, July 6, 2009
A green cathedral
kenosha news correspondent
Crowds flock to Lake Michigan for a variety of reasons in the summer. Boating, nature hikes, lounging at the beach and bicycling are the norm.
However, for many Kenosha residents and visitors, summer is also a chance to experience Mass in a different, more relaxed light. Under sunny skies and a slight morning breeze, hundreds of Catholics bowed their heads during the opening prayer at the annual Mass for Vocations in Pennoyer Park on Sunday.
Sponsored by the Kenosha Serra Club, CYO Emerald Knights Band and Color Guard, and the Catholic parishes of Kenosha, the Mass was preceded by music from the 70-year-old CYO Band, and the combined choirs of the Kenosha Catholic parishes. The outdoor Mass was an opportunity to worship in God’s beautiful domain, said the Rev. William Hayward, pastor at St. Peter Parish. “With this beautiful landscape, we can only imagine how much better it is when we get to where he wants us to be,” Hayward said. “This is wonderful being outside worshipping our Almighty God, and this sits well with Catholics in the area....We love to be outside and celebrate our love for God.” Hayward recognized the 70th anniversary of music by the CYO Band and Color Guard. “They are such an important part of the Kenosha community,” he said. “They have brought wonderful music to our area, and I’m so glad, that despite all the cutbacks in music across the country, that music is still important in our city.” Hayward also praised the 21 years of service of the Kenosha Chapter of Serra International, a group dedicated to praying and encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and encouraging those who live their lives in service to God. “You have sponsored this Mass when we have had bishops and archbishops celebrating here,” he said. “You are a dedicated group who care, thank you Serrans.” While the beauty of the landscape, freedom, jobs and families are important, people must look beyond to the reasons that they are on earth, Hayward said in his homily. “Our experiences, while not bad, they are not enough,” he said. “We have freedom given to us by our courageous forefathers, but while it is wonderful, it is not enough. If we have freedom from tyranny but still sin, it is not enough. If we rest on the Sabbath, but for no purpose, it is not enough and if we have our health, while it is great, it is still not enough.” The key to giving life meaning and purpose lies in the Holy Eucharist, Hayward said. During tough times, happy times or in any situation, it is the Eucharist that continues to sustain Catholics and build up their souls and themselves as part of the Body of Christ. “We put Christ’s body and blood into us and take it as food,” he said. “We affirm that he is God’s son and our savior and that makes it all enough.”
Sponsored by the Kenosha Serra Club, CYO Emerald Knights Band and Color Guard, and the Catholic parishes of Kenosha, the Mass was preceded by music from the 70-year-old CYO Band, and the combined choirs of the Kenosha Catholic parishes.
The outdoor Mass was an opportunity to worship in God’s beautiful domain, said the Rev. William Hayward, pastor at St. Peter Parish.
“With this beautiful landscape, we can only imagine how much better it is when we get to where he wants us to be,” Hayward said. “This is wonderful being outside worshipping our Almighty God, and this sits well with Catholics in the area....We love to be outside and celebrate our love for God.”
Hayward recognized the 70th anniversary of music by the CYO Band and Color Guard.
“They are such an important part of the Kenosha community,” he said. “They have brought wonderful music to our area, and I’m so glad, that despite all the cutbacks in music across the country, that music is still important in our city.”
Hayward also praised the 21 years of service of the Kenosha Chapter of Serra International, a group dedicated to praying and encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and encouraging those who live their lives in service to God.
“You have sponsored this Mass when we have had bishops and archbishops celebrating here,” he said. “You are a dedicated group who care, thank you Serrans.”
While the beauty of the landscape, freedom, jobs and families are important, people must look beyond to the reasons that they are on earth, Hayward said in his homily.
“Our experiences, while not bad, they are not enough,” he said. “We have freedom given to us by our courageous forefathers, but while it is wonderful, it is not enough. If we have freedom from tyranny but still sin, it is not enough. If we rest on the Sabbath, but for no purpose, it is not enough and if we have our health, while it is great, it is still not enough.”
The key to giving life meaning and purpose lies in the Holy Eucharist, Hayward said. During tough times, happy times or in any situation, it is the Eucharist that continues to sustain Catholics and build up their souls and themselves as part of the Body of Christ.
“We put Christ’s body and blood into us and take it as food,” he said. “We affirm that he is God’s son and our savior and that makes it all enough.”
Sunday, July 5, 2009
This fest is all wet
KENOSHA NEWS CORRESPONDENT
SILVER LAKE — Dozens of people turned out Saturday for the fights in Silver Lake.
The water fights, to be precise
The object of the event, featuring teams from area fire departments, is to drive a barrel past the opposing team with a stream of water shot from the fire hose. The result is a thunderous crashing of the barrel across the pavement and a refreshing shower of water on the spectators. Official judge Bob Kunde of the Wheatland Fire Department said the water fights have been going on for at least 40 years. “It is a good workout,” he admitted. “It used to be we had to win the best three out of five fights, but now it’s two out of three. I remember one time we went all five fights, four of them were each two minutes long and the last one was a minute and 57 seconds. It brought me to my knees when it was done.” Trophies were awarded to the four best teams, and a consolation trophy called the “Horse’s Ass” was awarded to the team spending the least amount of time on the court. “You don’t want to be the fastest loser,” joked Tim Pacey of the Wilmot Fire Department, displaying the trophy that looked like, well, the back end of a horse. The water fights were just part of an Independence Day celebration that, despite the absence of fireworks, did not lack in fun family activities. Music, games, food, a spaghetti-eating contest, duck races and businessmen water fights were among the activities that kept a steady crowd streaming into Schmalfeldt Park. The performances by students of USA Martial Arts in Antioch, Ill., were fluid, precise, controlled and intense. While their demonstration looked like a dance, it is actually a kata, a series of fighting moves. Set to music, they demonstrated confidence, board breaking, kickboxing, discipline and weapons fighting. An American flag painted on her rosy cheek, Rebecca Krupa, 10, of Pell Lake, sat mesmerized by the martial arts presentation, and was looking forward to the water fights later in the day. “We come here every year, and it’s a lot of fun because a bunch of my family members live here and we get to see them,” she said. “I will miss the fireworks, but we are having fun anyway.” For her mom, Chrissy, it was an opportunity to reconnect with family and enjoy an almost-free Independence Day. “They are just great and so organized here,” she said. “Many of the activities, including the face painting, are free. We used to live here and come back every year because we really miss all the great people. It’s like a family reunion.” While the city of Kenosha has plenty of holiday events, Pricilla Hauser brought her two children Mia, 3, and Collin, 7, to experience a slower paced celebration in the county. “We just wanted to spend time in the county where it wasn’t so crowded,” she said. “Collin loves firefighters and was very excited when I told him we were coming for the water fights.”
The object of the event, featuring teams from area fire departments, is to drive a barrel past the opposing team with a stream of water shot from the fire hose. The result is a thunderous crashing of the barrel across the pavement and a refreshing shower of water on the spectators.
Official judge Bob Kunde of the Wheatland Fire Department said the water fights have been going on for at least 40 years.
“It is a good workout,” he admitted. “It used to be we had to win the best three out of five fights, but now it’s two out of three. I remember one time we went all five fights, four of them were each two minutes long and the last one was a minute and 57 seconds. It brought me to my knees when it was done.”
Trophies were awarded to the four best teams, and a consolation trophy called the “Horse’s Ass” was awarded to the team spending the least amount of time on the court.
“You don’t want to be the fastest loser,” joked Tim Pacey of the Wilmot Fire Department, displaying the trophy that looked like, well, the back end of a horse.
The water fights were just part of an Independence Day celebration that, despite the absence of fireworks, did not lack in fun family activities.
Music, games, food, a spaghetti-eating contest, duck races and businessmen water fights were among the activities that kept a steady crowd streaming into Schmalfeldt Park.
The performances by students of USA Martial Arts in Antioch, Ill., were fluid, precise, controlled and intense.
While their demonstration looked like a dance, it is actually a kata, a series of fighting moves. Set to music, they demonstrated confidence, board breaking, kickboxing, discipline and weapons fighting.
An American flag painted on her rosy cheek, Rebecca Krupa, 10, of Pell Lake, sat mesmerized by the martial arts presentation, and was looking forward to the water fights later in the day.
“We come here every year, and it’s a lot of fun because a bunch of my family members live here and we get to see them,” she said. “I will miss the fireworks, but we are having fun anyway.”
For her mom, Chrissy, it was an opportunity to reconnect with family and enjoy an almost-free Independence Day.
“They are just great and so organized here,” she said. “Many of the activities, including the face painting, are free. We used to live here and come back every year because we really miss all the great people. It’s like a family reunion.”
While the city of Kenosha has plenty of holiday events, Pricilla Hauser brought her two children Mia, 3, and Collin, 7, to experience a slower paced celebration in the county.
“We just wanted to spend time in the county where it wasn’t so crowded,” she said. “Collin loves firefighters and was very excited when I told him we were coming for the water fights.”
Thursday, July 2, 2009
That is often a quote, originated by Anne Frank that is easier said than practiced! It is true that God didn't make junk when he created us, but there are times, circumstances and occasions when we might feel he slipped up, just a bit in our corner.
Rest assured, he didn't.
Remember that Jesus said, "In your world you will have troubles, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
If we can somehow lay each struggle, each frustration and disappointment at His feet--under the blood of the cross, He can and will take it from us.
Will things be perfect? It is doubtful, but in Him, all things are perfect.
Oftentimes I struggle with my own failings, such as the fracturing of my family, the mistakes I made as a parent, the times I shove my foot in my mouth, times when I mean to respond in love, but end up responding in disdain.
It matters not whether we receive approval from others for any choices we have made. Our choices, our mistakes our inner cries are secrets between our heavenly Father and us. If I have learned anything the past couple of years, it is that I only have to be the person God wants me to be. It is a lifelong struggle--but doesn't have to be so difficult, if we give it ALL to Him!
Today I woke up with a calming sense of gratitude for waking up next to my wonderful husband, my dog tucked under my arm, my son asleep upstairs. I am grateful for the house I didn't think we would still have. I am grateful for another day of work, another day to breathe the air and inhale the sweet scent of Jesus' breath upon my heart.
Thank you God!