75 out of 405 not a bad turnout at 55th.


From Saint Paul to Wausau and back I crossed a dozen rivers flowing full with water. You can’t imagine how exciting that can be unless you live in the desert West, where “river” means “dry gulch except during monsoon season.” I think it was the Black River that was particularly inviting. It looked about as wide as a country road, moving smoothly, golden brown, with overarching trees, a tunnel through the forest. The hardwood trees were turning yellow, gold, red, bronze and even deep maroon.  I imagined my great-grandfather riding rafts of logs down such a highway to the sawmill pond.

I saw only two dairy barns that looked like they hadn’t been painted this year. I still don’t know the breed of cow that wears a white belly band on a black coat. Can anyone tell me? But I have always known Holsteins, Jerseys, and Guernseys.

My book signing at Janke Book Store was a success. Most of the 30-40 who attended were high school classmates, in town for our 55th reunion. Others were there for ARTrageous weekend, a big draw annually to the downtown where juried art is sold, and to the Yawkey Woodson Art Museum where world class wildlife artists gather to meet their collectors, and the Marathon County Park (arts and crafts). We sold 33 books with a good chance of more to come, as Pat Snyder of WSAU “Feedback” had me on his show, and Rick LaFrombois, editor of City Pages featured my reappearance in my childhood book store (where I became a committed pacifist after reading Ferdinand the Bull.).

Jane Janke Johnson (third generation co-owner) was a great partner in introducing my mystery, SOPHIE REDESIGNED. She let me have the conversation space on the lower level, then kept busy upstairs. This is a 150-year-old store, not at all endangered, because there is something for everyone there. I ordered refreshments from the Downtown Grocery (organic) and found out the co-owner is an architect who helped convert our old East High into fabulous apartments. Check out Kevin Korpela’s mission and vision on www.observatorydrive.com
and you will begin to get a glimmer of what kind of city Wausau is. Good people, as the ad said, when Wausau Insurance was the most notable employer. (My dad worked for that company from the time he was 18 to his retirement at 65.)

I learned a lot about retirement from my friends. Some are having tough times, but showed up anyway. Others are still “living it up,” not just living. David Obey was there with his wife, our classmate, Joanie Lepinski. Read his memoir, RAISING HELL FOR JUSTICE, and you will find out how hard our Members of Congress work. At least some of them. Before he retired last year, Dave managed to get some money directed to the University of Wisconsin in Wausau for The Center for Civic Engagement. We need that badly. Our kids have to learn the nature of real debate ASAP! More on that later…

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