Column: Baby animals - AW! Aren’t they cute?

A little over a year ago, I saw an item on Channel 4 news in which the Milwaukee County Zoo introduced three Amur tiger cubs to the public. The cubs, one male and two females, had been born a few months before. It was big news because Amur tigers are endangered. The news lady who was doing the story was ooh-ing and aah-ing about how cute they were. And she was right; they were cute.

That’s one of the neat things about animals — the babies are usually cute. Everybody loves kittens and puppies because they’re so cute. They may not like cats and dogs, however, because often the animals lose their cuteness factor when they get older.

Farm kids are no different. The kittens, puppies, chicks, ducklings, goat kids, lambs, colts, piglets and calves are all cute and fun to play with. But their cuteness wears off after a while. Cute little calves grow up to be clumsy cows. Cute little pink piglets grow up to be cumbersome sows.


Tangy taste of Tang was a household favorite

While we were shopping at the grocery store last week, we noticed a “special” on a popular brand of orange-colored drink. There were two kinds, “the original tangy” and the “sweet and smooth.” We bought one of each.

Later, at home, I opened the “tangy original” bottle and poured a glass. The first taste reminded me of the chewable baby aspirins we gave our kids when they were little or maybe — more closely — the taste of Tang, the powdered soft drink mix that gained so much publicity when NASA sent it along on Mercury astronaut John Glenn’s first space mission. Was that why it was “tangy?”

Do you remember Tang? We haven’t had it at our house since our kids were little. We used it because it was so much cheaper than buying oranges or orange juice.


Column: Amy Purdy overcame an Olympic-sized challenge

The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, will be starting in the next few days, and people all over the world will be watching – not just because of the proximity to North Korea and its egomaniacal dictator Kim Jong-un, but because of the national pride of all the nations that are participating.

The competitors who perform in some of the winter Olympic sports are among the most graceful and elegant of all athletes. Figure skaters and ice-dancers are as graceful as ballet dancers on the ice. Other competitors, like Alpine skiers and snowboarders, exhibit amazing courage in their sports. There are many compelling stories associated with the Olympics.


Column: Husband provides constant reminders of love

A mayor is often asked to issue a proclamation. The city has a book with examples of proclamations for most occasions. I often chose to write my own. I felt if I was going to sign my name to it, and it was going to be stamped with the official seal of the city, I wanted to be the author.

While in office I sometimes wrote personal proclamations upon request. In fact, I wrote one that I gave to my hubby several years ago on our wedding anniversary. It is framed and displayed in our home, a reminder of how God has blessed our marriage. It says:

WHEREAS, we met, fell in love, and on Feb. 1, 1964 we married, and

WHEREAS, on Nov. 19, 1964 we were blessed with our first born, a beautiful daughter we named Amy; and

WHEREAS, on March 12, 1969 we were blessed once more, this time with the birth of our loving son Daniel; and

WHEREAS, our lives have been enriched with three wonderful grandchildren, Jeffrey, Morgan and Mason; and


Column: Are billy goats gruff or just kids at heart?

A while ago, I saw a video about “fainting goats” on my computer. These strange little animals are bred to have a genetic disorder, called myotonia congenita, that affects their skeletal muscles. Their legs become paralyzed for a few seconds if they’re startled.

According to Wikipedia, the breed dates back to the 1880s, when a farmer named John Tinsley brought four goats suffering from myotonia to Dr. H.H. Mayberry, in Tennessee, who began breeding them and called them “Tennessee fainting goats.” However, the name “fainting goat” is a misnomer since the goats don’t lose consciousness when they “faint.” But they are funny to watch!

Watching those goats playing reminded me of a little black-and-white goat we had for a while when I was kid on the farm. I don’t know where Dad got him – or why. But one day, Dad came home with him, and he became part of our menagerie.


Column: I forget to remember sometimes

Every once in a while, Marilyn will say to me, “Help me to remember to call Carmen tomorrow.” And more often than not, I’ll forget to remember.

Toward the end of his life, when my dad’s memory sometimes played tricks on him, he’d say, “My forgetter works better than my rememberer.” It bothered him that sometimes he couldn’t remember things, or that he’d repeat the same question several times within a short span of time.

But I know what he meant about his forgetter; sometimes mine overrides my rememberer, too. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what we remember, isn’t it?

I’m not trying to be cryptic or enigmatic here. I really think that sometimes we forget what we remember, just as we sometimes remember what we forgot. Am I making sense?


Column Getting older doesn't mean you have to feel old

I don’t know why it is, but lately people have been sending me “forwards” about being or getting old. You know, like all those “Maxine” cards from Hallmark. I wonder why people think I’d associate myself with the idea of aging. My body will be 79 next week, but my mind is somewhere in my 50s.

In a line I used to use in my Mark Twain impersonation, Twain once said, “I am old; I recognize it, but I don’t realize it. I wonder if a person ever really ceases to feel young — I mean, for a whole day at a time.” He was 71 when he said that in a speech on Jan. 24, 1906 – not so very old, right?


Column: This week's weather stirs warm memories

Boy, it’s been cold lately. I mean, really cold! As I’m writing this, my phone is telling me it’s below zero outside, and the TV weather girl is saying the wind chill factor is 25 below.

This is the kind of cold that is downright traumatic. This is the kind of cold that drives our snowbirds south for the winter. I haven’t ventured farther than the mailbox today, and I’m ignoring the snow that’s falling outside. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

While it is not typically the most beloved season, there are plenty of wintery things and activities that make the season bearable — sometimes even enjoyable. Even when we are frustrated with having to shovel the driveway, or deal with our perpetual cold, if we take the time to slow down and look around, it is easy to find plenty of beautiful things about winter that make these frigid months quite charming.


Column: A few reflections as a new year looms

As I reflect on a year when Marilyn and I have both faced some very serious health issues, it seems more important than ever to maintain an outlook of faith and hope. This season, beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas, reminds us that our problems are not insurmountable, and we are not alone.

At this time of year, we often contemplate wishes and resolutions for the coming year. At my age, I’m not much for resolutions anymore, but I do have wishes for us and for my readers. My first wish is that those of you who suffer with disease and distress will have your health restored. I realize that for some of you, this is a realistic possibility, but for others it might be just a distant dream.

It’s not easy to travel a middle path between being proactive about our health (always trying to improve it) but at the same time accepting our situations as they are so that we can be positive and make the best of each new day.


Midnight Mass was highlight of altar boy service

When I was a kid at St. Anthony’s in Oconto Falls, one of the positions that many of us aspired to was to become an altar boy. It was not an easy goal to attain because in those pre-Vatican II days, the Mass was in Latin. To become an altar boy, we had to memorize the prayer responses. We “answered” the prayers which the priest was saying, as though we were the stand-ins for the congregation.

We memorized the prayers phonetically – totally rote – because none of us knew any Latin when we were in fourth grade. So we were basically unaware of the meanings of any of the prayers we were regurgitating at the Mass.


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