Great Lakes, milwaukee, Spring, Winter, wisconsin

Walks Around Wisconsin. First Spring Blossom above the 42° Parallel North

 

 

 

Well, I don’t really expect I’ve fooled anyone!

Yes, I took a bit of latitude with the title, and need to backpetal – – it’s not a real blossom of course.

I sliced the stem off the top of the last acorn squash from last fall’s harvest, and it just struck me, how much it looked like a daisy.

Around here, it’s still dropping below freezing every night, and probably down into the teens by next weekend.

But we had some warm weather over the past weekend, and we’re getting ready for some flowers and green leaves.

Hope springs eternal, even if it has to jump over the snowdrifts.

 

 

 

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A shot of the lower half of the falls.

I did very little editing, mostly just made it a bit brighter, and didn’t fiddle with the balance or boost the “color saturation,” or whatever it’s called.

I think the color comes from minerals and perhaps fresh-water algae.  Pale blue?  Pale turquoise?

The Crayola box (the big one, my go-to reference for art stuff) indicates “aquamarine,” but when I look online at a color chart, that’s way too green.

“Bluish” will have to do.

 

Clean Waters, Finger Lakes, FLX, Nature, NY, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York

Taughannock Falls & Icicles

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Nature, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

Ten degrees and the fern is totally unimpressed.

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I went out one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine

I picked up my shovel and began to whine

I loaded sixteen tons of wet gray snow

And my neighbor said “It’s just started to blow.”

 

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

It’s another foot deeper and my socks are wet

Saint Peter don’t you call me when there’s all this snow

It’s hellish cold and the wind does blow

 

If you see me comin’, better step aside

Snowblower’s goin’ and we’re goin’ for a ride

Throttle is stickin’ and you’re gonna take a lickin’

If the auger sucks  your foot inside.

 

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

It’s another foot deeper and my socks are wet

Saint Peter don’t you call me when there’s all this snow

It’s hellish cold and the wind does blow

 

 

Apologies to Merle Travis
Cold War, Frostbite, snow, Socks, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

A little exertion & one ton of exaggeration

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On a recent walk, snapped a cellphone shot of the elusive Burdock Bear.

Prickly-looking but surprisingly friendly, they’ll attach themselves your coat and follow you home.

 

 

 

Nature, Uncategorized, Winter

Burdock Bear

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The burial ground was last used in 1814, and it took considerable effort to open the stone door.

1860's

Gateway

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milwaukee, Uncategorized, wisconsin

Walking around Walker’s Point

 

Well, I haven’t been posting much.  So other than working and studying, what have I been doing?

I’ve been making a determined and deliberate effort to make Milwaukee feel like home and have pretty much succeeded.

Part of this process, I think, was going to live in Walker’s Point, a neighborhood on the south side of town.

 

Nice brickwork on an old school building

A mostly industrial area, on low-lying ground between two rivers, and in recent years just a footnote in the city’s story, this neighborhood has also long been a hub for people who were “othered.”

For many years, this was a German town, but in the early 1900’s, immigrants from Mexico were brought in to work in the numerous tanneries, which for a time, produced more leather than anywhere else in the world.  Polish and Slovenian immigrants had arrived before them, to work in the steel mills, machine shops and factories.

 

I like walking by the local print shop, showing off some of their posters.  My neighborhood has the largest concentration of Spanish-speakers in the state.

 

Walker’s Point is now gentrifying and growing, old businesses and warehouses being converted to brewpubs, restaurants and loft apartments, but the residential population is still pretty small, there’s still a great sense of neighborliness and its low-lying houses nicely frame the skyline of the downtown.  The skyscrapers for Northwestern Mutual and U.S. Bank are easily visible and not too far, but a world away from this neighborhood.

Also visible is the clock tower at Rockwell Automation, with its 40-foot clock faces (twice as big as Big Ben’s clock), big enough that ships on Lake Michigan use it like a lighthouse.

 

Rockwell Automation “For Over a Century, Doing Our Darndest to Get Rid of Humans”

 

 

 

The area is also home to artists and the gay nightlife scene, and there’s a diverse and tolerant crowd roaming these streets.  After being a backwater, now I think now the currents here are a lot of the lifeblood of the city, with true big city hustle & bustle but small town feelings of neighborhood.

 

neighborhood shops

 

Walking around, there are oldtime residential pockets, and you’re struck by the many Victorian homes.  Many are stately and charming, with quaint flowerbeds and yards full of statues and art.  While a lot of this area is still industrial and not far from the harbor (and the Milorganite factory is sometimes within smelling distance), it’s quiet and safe.

Here’s some cellphone snapshots of random things from from recent walks.  There’s no theme today, it’s just an interesting town to walk around.

 

I liked this old Victorian, but took the picture on a day the sky was absolutely gray. So this is a fake blue sky. Photoshop’s bag of tricks sometimes strikes me as clever and useful, sometimes as funny, and some days, as downright creepy. But for a random postcard like this, I guess the fake sky doesn’t seem to present any huge artistic or ethical issues.

Here’s some stuff from other parts of the city.  Closer to downtown, they’re building a 25-story apartment building.  What makes that interesting – – it’s wooden!  I don’t mean it will have wood facing or paneling, but the actual structure.  It will be the tallest timber frame building in the world.

 

 

Near the high school where I worked a few years ago, are some Frank Lloyd Wright houses, currently being restored.

 

 

 

 

The Basilica of St Josephat, built by Polish immigrants. Maybe it was the spiritual locus, but the sky above it really was that blue the day I walked here.

Hard to believe you’re looking at a former post office (keep reading for the explanation).

 

 

By 1900, when this was built, there were 60,000 Poles living here, and they already had seven churches, but wanted something grander, with room for over a thousand worshippers. So this is basically a scaled-down version of St. Peter’s in Rome.

In a clever bit of economy, they bought the old Chicago Post Office, a big 4- or 5-story Second Empire-style building, which was being replaced, and re-used the stone blocks.  (The giant 9-story Old Chicago Main Post Office you see today, which goes over the Eisenhower Expressway, was built in the ’20’s and ’30’s)

 

 

And that’s the news from Milwaukee.  I hope everyone is well and staying dry.

 

2 November 2021 update on the timber frame apartment building. It will be 284 feet tall, the tallest wood-framed building in the world.

 

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Autumn, steam radiators

A message to the super, Danny.

 

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From floor to floor, and down and side to side,

The summer’s gone, and temperatures are falling,

It’s you, it’s you must go, and I must bide

And on the ice must slide.

 

But come ye back when busy is the blizzard,

And when the valley’s hushed and white with snow.

It’s I’ll be here, in long johns like the Eskimos,

Oh Danny boy, I cannot feel my toes.

 

 

Oh Danny boy, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are knocking

From floor to floor, and down and side-to-side,

The summer’s gone, and radiators need unblocking,

It’s you, it’s you must go, the thermometer’s fried.

 

But come ye back ere next summer’s in the meadow

And when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,

Tis I’ll be here in salt brine and in ice floe,

Oh, plumber guy, plumber guy, how my nose I’ll blow!

 

But when ye come,

and the flowers have taken a beating,

If I am dead, as dead I well may be,

Maybe then ye’ll come and find the place

and finally fix the heating.

 

 

 

 

The photo of the radiator is by F J Ferris on the hevac-heritage.org site.
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Nature, Uncategorized

Good news on the fashion weather front

 

Woolly Bears are of course the most reliable forecasters of the coming winter.

The broader the black band, the tougher the conditions will be.

So I was darn pleased to see this fellow, telling us it will be a really mild season.

I was thinking about what to call our little furry weather predictors.

I guess you could call them “palmists” because we like to gently pick them up, and hold them in our palms, to see them roll themselves into a ball like a tiny hedgehog.

But we couldn’t say “soothsayers,” because they never say anything.

They communicate their predictions by how they’re dressed.  Not such a crazy idea – if the weatherperson on TV appears in hipboots & sou’wester, it’s pretty easy to interpret, just like the woolly bears, so we might need a a word for this.

Someone predicting warm weather, by wearing stripes, you could go with SeersuckerSoothShow-er.

But HypothermiApparelAugur is too clunky, as is ClothClairvoyanGlacé. 

Snowsuit Sibyl isn’t too bad.

Meteorlogifashionista is my best effort, trips right off the tongue, doesn’t it.

Please let me know if you come up with something good!

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Cellphone shot of a 1915 station in Sparta, on the Chicago Northwestern.

Originally, this line was called the Baraboo Air-Line Railroad.  (Isn’t that kind of great!?)

The trains don’t go there anymore.

Although there’s active stations not too far away (eighteen miles east in Tomah, and 28 miles west in La Crosse), because Amtrak runs more-or-less northwest across the state, on its way to St. Paul.

This little brick building is now the office for the 32-mile Elroy-Sparta biking trail, which the official guide tells us, is “considered the first rail-to-trail in the United States.”

It’s about 120 miles northwest of Madison, and if you continue NW from Sparta, on the La Crosse River Trail, you’ll hit the Mississippi.

The sections I walked were pleasant, if unexciting, but the big attraction is the tunnels.

 

The trail was mostly crushed limestone and well-maintained. I think one section of trail may still be closed after some storm damage, so if you’re planning on biking this, check with the folks in the Sparta office.

 

In the 1870’s, RR workers dug & blasted their way through the hills.  We walked through the longest tunnel, nearly 3/4 of a mile long.

 

The closest access point is reached by driving down a semi-washed-out gravel lane next to the church I posted yesterday.

At the foot of the hill, there’s what looks like an ancient stone-lined canal.

 

 

It was actually just an attempt to divert storm water away from the tunnel and railbed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tunnel is almost entirely unlined, and water drips down steadily from the ceiling, and runs alongside the path in little ditches.

At some point, the burrow is reinforced with massive stone blocks, and water cascades down the wall – – I think the spot where the workers hit an underground spring.  This picture was taken with a flash, there’s no lighting in the tunnel.

 

 

 

This is to give an idea of walking through the tunnel with your flashlight turned off, looking toward the entrance.

 

If you don’t mind getting a bit wet, and perhaps hearing a bat or two overhead, it’s a wonderfully cool place for a walk on a hot summer day.

And a great place to sing, if there’s no one around.

I recommend selections from Bohemian Rhapsody, or Phantom of the Opera.

 

 

 

 

1870's, Railroads, Uncategorized, wisconsin

Walks Around Wisconsin. Chicago Northwestern, Sparta station, 1915. And a Dampish Sort of Tunnel, 1873.

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