The Fireside Theatre

This last weekend I was looking for somewhere special to take my girlfriend for our weekend away in Milwaukee.  We were already staying in an absolutely beautiful hotel that we had stayed in a couple of times before (The Pfister) and I wanted something unique to do that we normally do not do, besides sight-seeing.  I looked up theaters (or theatres) and while the Pabst was right there, I wanted something even more unique and found a dinner-theater.  As neither of us had ever been, I called my girlfriend up and formally asked her out on a ‘date’ for this event.

Let me tell you, this experience was certainly unique.  The building itself looks odd from the outside, a hodge-podge of building in various stages, or, so it appeared.a61fd4576260a1a1ffb29133a9862c7b

We drove the 50 or so miles from Milwaukee, visited my niece who lives out in that area, and then went on to the theatre, through back roads, and on into the never-never.  Who would have thought that a theater (my spelling, not theirs), in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, would hold Broadway plays?  I really didn’t expect it.

I grew up in southeastern Wisconsin and never made it to this part of the state.  So, it was with a bit of derision, I thought we had wasted our time coming this far out into the sticks to see this play.  Let me tell you, I was wrong, way wrong.

First, a traditional play is up on a stage and the audience out in the theater.  This one, was on a square and the actors going up and down the aisles to appear on stage, or to come up from the bottom of the stage.20151205-145435-001-largejpg

You wouldn’t think something like this would be packed, but it was and I had a HARD time getting tickets.  I finally tried a last minute technique that worked, got us two tickets, and we went.

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Our seats weren’t prime but we were able to see the stage without any problem and it was really worth the admission price (it was expensive, but I didn’t mind).  We could clearly see the stage from our seats behind everyone else, my only complaint, our seats were set in a way that didn’t allow our feet to touch the ground and that hurts after a long while of sitting, especially at my age!  Still, the actors were spell-binding and we were fortunate enough to watch their excellent rendition of Miracle on 34th Street.

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I was enthralled, shocked really, that a play of this magnitude would be here, in Wisconsin and in the middle of nowhere.  Madison yes, Milwaukee definitely, Chicago even, but Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin?  Who would have thought.  Apparently the Fireside has been a family-owned enterprise since 1964.  They’ve expanded it four times from what I read on their website.  It really is worth the drive and effort to go see a show there.

We read on their website that some people didn’t like the food, but let me tell you, it was a five-course meal before the play itself and definitely a good meal for anyone.  My girlfriend is a vegetarian and even she had too much to eat because of their fantastic offerings.  I myself had a steak and it was tender, juicy, and delicious.

Before and after the dinner, as we waited for the show to start, they had endless (and I do mean endless) shopping available along the side of their building.  It went on and on and had the cutest things!  Everything from glassware to knick knacks, and other things that would make great gifts.

I can’t rave enough about this experience, the actors were fabulous, very, very talented and I was in awe as I realized the enormity of what they were all accomplishing.  It was fantastic!

If you get to Wisconsin, Milwaukee or Madison, even drive up from Chicago, it’s worth it, trust me!

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I also had a weird experience that is worth retelling.  I have a set of mystic blue topazes I have purchased over the years.  I have the ring, the necklace, and a set of earrings.  Ring and necklaceI’ve always had trouble with the earrings as the backs aren’t very good and I have felt (as I did that night) one came off and landed in my bra!  That night, after removing my coat in the coat-check, I didn’t realize one of the earring studs had come out and I lost my earring!  It really made me feel bad!  I discovered it’s loss during dinner and had a couple of the people there looking for it, but to no avail.  We even went through the stores again, hoping to catch a shiny glimpse of it.  When we sat down and got to know our neighbors, the woman was ready to help us go look but I assured her it was insured and I was resigned at it’s loss.  Inside I was trying not to let it cast a pale over our wonderful evening.  At the intermission, when my aching body (from that awkward chair) was stretching…my wonderful girlfriend went and got me some advil and water (hurray for her!)  The lady next to us, was on a mission, unbeknownst to me.  She came back with the missing stud!  She had gone through the coat area, where I was sure it had come loose as I took off my coat, and found it!  What an amazing (and totally unexpected) experience.  I am forever grateful.  Really made the evening special along with the absolutely wonderful play we experienced together.  I can’t say how much I appreciated fate for sending that wonderful couple to sit beside us, me casually mentioning my loss, and her determination in finding it.  If I could, I would say to the powers-that-be, my guardian angels, and whomever may be out there helping guide my fate…a big THANK YOU, you gave me my own miracle that night!

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Society and their conflicting ‘dos and donts’

Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.

Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat. Eat celery. Chew gum. Drink lots of water. You have to fit into those jeans. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated. You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be small. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine. Be a size zero. Be a double zero. Be nothing. Be less than nothing.

Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.

Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.

Be a lady they said. Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so up tight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.

Be a lady they said. Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife some day. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will some day. You’ll change your mind.

Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at
strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.

Just “be a lady” they said.

Author Unknown

This doesn’t need opinions, it needs to be voiced. Copy, paste if you want, just make sure you got the message.

Me Too, x2

I was two years old when I was sexually molested for the first time.  Shocking right?  What boy would get off on molesting a toddler of that age?

How far back can you remember?  I can remember back to the age of two years old.  How do I know I was two?  Because around my third birthday, BOTH of my grandmothers died, and I remember both of their funerals very well.  I also remember various times spent with them, as well as other incidents and I had to have been two when they occurred.

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You can say, boys will be boys.  They pulled down my pants, checked out the difference between boys and girls, felt me up, and left me in a field.  I went home crying that the boys pulled down my pants.  My mother didn’t find out until I was eighteen how traumatized that had made me.  I didn’t know that I had been molested and later when I realized what had been done to me, I worried how far they had gone on that day.  I was nineteen when I found out they hadn’t taken my virginity.  However, the trauma had been with me for a long time and it took a long time to come to grips with it, if I ever did.

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You see, even though they were boys, probably curious, it doesn’t excuse the fact that they did this to a helpless little girl.  It affected certain aspects of my life for decades.  That is what victimization does.  It affects that victim mentally, sometimes more so than the physical aspects do.  Yes, they ‘probably’ only pulled down my pants, but how will I ever know?  What if it had been more?  They could have done so much more, and mentally, they did.

I didn’t date until I was sixteen years old.  Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I felt, they weren’t.  Even losing my virginity at nineteen wasn’t because I was in love, but because of low self-esteem.  I thought, erroneously, that it might make me popular.  It took a lot of self-introspection to realize a lot of things about myself.  The first of which, it wasn’t MY fault.

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Many others who have been victims go on to punish themselves in so many ways.  From self-harm, to other worse decisions that affect their entire lives.  I refuse to play the victim.  I tell you this story because it happens, even at an early age.

From an early age I was aware of the difference between men and woman.  Not just the physical differences, but the way they are treated.  It was the boys against the girls in our household.  Mom tried to prevent that, but Dad encouraged it and laughed at it.  Girls were ‘non-persons’ and only good for ‘women’s work,’ boys were the princes and allowed to do whatever the heck they wanted.  That disparity, early on, pissed me off.  Fortunately, my mother was strong enough to raise a strong woman in me and, I hope, I overcame a lot of that.  Dealing with my brothers these days, I just simply do not engage, refuse to do what they ‘think’ I should, and I certainly don’t stay in my place as they ‘think’ I should.  As a result, they have labeled me a troublemaker, a bitch, difficult, and worse.  That’s fine, they don’t pay my bills, and they certainly don’t live in my house.  I’m independent and I speak my mind.  God forbid I have an opinion.  As a result, we rarely interact anymore and I’m happier as a result.

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There are a lot of things I could say about both scenarios, from the mental abuse of my father and brothers who are chauvinistic, misogynistic, narcissists to the little boys who mentally scarred me, the point I am trying to make is it doesn’t define who I am and who I have become.  I’m aware of it, I refuse to cater to it, and I raised two boys who I think are better for having an understanding mother.  Let’s hear it for the survivors, the ones who didn’t let it destroy their lives!

It’s coming to get me!

I swear, I’m not paranoid…but, that being said, there is proof in the posting! 
I raise a lot of plants, probably because my father was a botanist with a degree in biology and a couple courses shy of being a zoologist.  I can’t tell you how many trees I’ve planted over the years.  Seeing those same trees 30 years later from the time when I used to jump over them as a child to an adult where I’d have to climb them (if I wanted to break something, not only on the tree but my body).  It’s awesome to know there is a living legacy growing out there, somewhere, even if we don’t own the land anymore.  My father grew up during the depression and helped after the great fires of northern Wisconsin to replant those areas.  After seeing what happened after Mount St. Helens blew, I’m sure Mother Nature would have re-seeded the areas nicely, however, the State of Wisconsin planted acres of trees, heck, more than that and now, eighty plus years later, they are tall and strong.  Personally, I don’t like neat little rows but prefer a variance, a natural look.

Well, back to the point of this blog, and there is one, I assure you.

It’s coming to get me, and here is picture proof.20171014_124101_Burst01

I grow a lot of spider plants, have a Christmas Cactus, and a few other odds and ends.  My aunt gave me a couple of cuttings of a purple passion plant last year when I was down in Arkansas and it survived the drive back to WisconSIN.  One of the cuttings died in the pot, but, some plants do not do well here in this house.  There is something about it, and no, I don’t have a black thumb but a green one.  But, one of the cuttings started growing crazily this year and as I type in bed because of my bad back, I gaze out the window and in front of the window are all my plants, all in hanging baskets, on a stand my son and I made.  I had to do it like this because when Kitkat was alive, she enjoyed mowing plants down.  Now that she is gone I could place them around the house, but, my window gets the most sun in my northern facing house and my window faces south.  The plants that do survive in my house include three varieties of spider plants that I really enjoy.  It gets pretty lush.

Maybe it’s because of what I feed them.  They don’t get straight water since the village puts chemicals in it, supposedly for our health (I don’t drink it either, shudders).  Instead, I feed my plants water from my fish tanks, the bottom water that I siphon out to clean my tanks.  This nutrient rich water is full of plant matter and fish droppings.  Sometimes I will filter THIS through a plant set up where it goes through nutrient rich dirt and into a bucket (what can I say, I’m a mad scientist).  My plants seem to love it.  Even the water that goes INto these fish tanks stands in a five gallon bottle for weeks until the chemicals dissaperate, or rather evaporate.

I don’t understand why some plants don’t like the aura of this house.  Personally, I no longer like the aura either but that is neither here nor there.  I moved here with a couple of absolutely HUGE succulents that were the sizes of bushes, jade plants to be exact and they BOTH died in this house.  I also moved here with a couple of display of Mother-in-Law Tongues, aka Snake Plants and sometimes called Sword Plants that had been cuttings from my grandmother and the plants were over 40 years old!  All died in this house and I was heartbroken.  I didn’t (then) feed them the water from my tanks but that was how I learned the water out of the tap was BAD!  As I said, the aura is bad and I need to move on, taking my ‘few’ plants with me.  My sword plants once were in one of those half wine barrels and I got them to bloom!  Apparently they bloom once every seven years but I had so many in that barrel they bloomed EVERY year, man that is the most sickening flower smell you ever want to smell!  Someone once offered me $400 for that half-barrel, but, we had a freeze that night before he could come pick it up!

My dream home would have an arboretum, a sun room, or just fantastic windows to grow plants!  Btw, this is what a Purple Passion plant is SUPPOSED to look like, not the one vine reaching out to GET me!Purple-Passion

Meanwhile, I wait for this purple passion plant, the one vine is over seven feet long!  I can see it ‘hesitating’ in its growth of where it’s going to go.  In the evening it is leaning towards my right as it might head back towards the window it grew up, it’s vine thickening as it grows.  In the morning it leans towards my left and as if it is contemplating whether or not it will head towards me at the headboard of my bed.  It’s a smart thing too, it has now figured out it will get added support/strength by resting on top of the post that holds up all the plants (except for those hanging from the curtain rod).

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So, if I don’t appear on social media someday, you know, it GOT me!

Meanwhile, if you want to read about more interesting stories than my domestic ones, please click on the picture below:

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ME TOO!

That battle cry went out on social media.  ME TOO!  And, it was a call to raise awareness that harassment, intimidation, and assault is happening to women.  Maybe not ALL women, but the majority of them.  It’s amazing how many people reacted, and how.

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There are the women who deny it happens.  That if you dressed a different way (Mayim Bialik) that it won’t happen to you.  Now I could call her names for that statement that she made and point out how unattractive she was and that no one would hit on her…but, that would be catty.  She is actually a lovely woman from the interviews she has made, the acting she has done, but that doesn’t make her an expert in how women should dress and that it will keep the predators away.

According to Reuters thirteen women (so far) have come forward with claims that Harvey Weinstein assaulted (I hate that word, sometimes the word RAPE should be used, however my capture above explains the whole concept) them or made suggestive comments or inappropriate moves on them.  Some capitulated because of the power this man held over their careers.  You could dismiss one woman’s claim, maybe, I wouldn’t, however when this MANY come forth, you cannot as it is a well-known ‘secret’ in Hollywood what this man did.  When stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, and others of their stature come forth with their own stories, it has to be believed.  This man IS and WAS a predator and it was allowed to go on because of the perceived POWER he held over people.  How many women, maybe men too had their careers derailed because of this predator (and yes, he is a predator) POWER over them?  If they didn’t play by HIS rules, they were ruined!

Then there is the high-profile case of Bill Cosby who over the course of his career drugged and RAPED many, many women.  Now most would say ALLEGEDLY to avoid being sued, however I’m basing my declaration on the MANY women who came forth to testify and this is my OPINION.  Should we feel sorry for him because he is now old and blind?  Should we excuse it because while he was in his heyday he produced excellent work in the form of The Cosby Show?  NOOOOOO!  There is NO excuse for this behavior.

Men, and women too, TRY to excuse this behavior as ‘boys will be boys’ but there is NO excuse.  It should not and CAN not be ALLOWED.  Call the aggressor out on it, they SHOULD be afraid of THEIR behavior.  Their THREATS should be REPORTED as well as their ACTIONS.  Yes, it’s hard when you think you are alone, but what if you aren’t?  What if others come forth and tell the same tale?  You will have led the way and possibly prevented it from happening AGAIN!

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

This doesn’t JUST happen to WOMEN, it happens to men, boys even in everyday situations, not just the Hollyweird arena.  But maybe, if we make these perpetrators AWARE that we are going to call them out on it, maybe the FEAR will prevent it from happening in the first place.  Although, I think it’s been going on FOREVER…we can at least TRY.

A few years ago I was named General Manager of a company.  I was over-qualified for the position as I had been running companies for about twenty years at that point, but I wanted to see what I could do for this company with my unique skills and I welcomed the opportunity.  I worked my ass off and the owner was thrilled with my resourcefulness…especially because I believe in getting most out of it for free.  Advertising, marketing, etc are my forte and I didn’t cost him more than my salary.  I got in the newspaper about the work I was doing, I got on television, I got us in a free commercial even.  Newspaper article about Taxi TimeLOTS of FREE advertisement for the company.  He told me to answer to no one but him…and then, he went to Florida for the winter.  His Chief Financial Officer suddenly thought ‘he’ was ‘in charge’ and went after me.  Not sexually, just inappropriately.  Getting called a ‘fucking bitch’ to your face nearly every day because you won’t allow him to interfere, stick his fingers in the money, etc is not fun.  This harassment only increased from there.  I detest the word ‘cunt’ and I got called that and other names DAILY.  Now, I knew I was a woman in a ‘mans’ field, but when he enlisted the help of my people to harass me it took on dangerous elements.  It took four months but they wore me down and set me up.  I finally HAD to quit.  He wouldn’t let me wait in the office for a ride since they took my company car away from me even though it was the middle of winter.  I began to walk until my ride showed up.  When the State of Wisconsin found out why I quit, they (the company) tried to deny my unemployment benefits.  I won that round and got them.  The State went after them for the sexual harassment but when it came time to actually go to court they backed out, said I had to pay for my own attorney, which I could not afford, and I was left hanging.  Found out later that I wasn’t the only one this company had been sued for the same claims.  While this was going on, they watched my house daily.  I live in a fairly secluded area of my village and the car sitting there with a man sitting at the wheel was VERY obvious.  The police went by frequently as I called them, concerned for the ‘broken down’ car that always seemed to be there.  That went on for TWO YEARS.

This is something I posted on Facebook the other day:22528424_1656654664406695_791871147359960045_n

Real conversation, a variation of something I posted:

Do you know how many MEN raped women last year? Do you know how many BOYS harassed girls in their schools last year creating uncomfortable and unsafe environments for those same girls? Do you know how many men and boys impregnated teenage girls last year? Do you know how many people, men and women, let BOYS off with the phrase, ‘boys will be boys?’

Why is it ALWAYS the females fault when a male acts up? I taught my boys that girls are just as good if not better at some things, everyone has their strengths, and no means no. Is that so hard? Not everyone has the same skills or opportunities, it doesn’t mean they can’t do the same things, they just might not have had the chance. It doesn’t mean they aren’t smart enough or anything of that nature and they don’t ‘deserve’ to be assaulted because of their gender, their dress mode, or for ANY reason.

Accepting this behavior, not coming forward because you are frightened, are sure that no one will believe you, know that there are people out there who will fight for you, stand up for you, believe you.
Yes, there will be those who make false accusations but what if we assumed in the FIRST place that they were telling the truth? Would it, at least, take a sexual predator off the streets before they could do it again?
It’s time we banded together and fought against the misogyny, the patriarchal society that has kept us down for so long and is perpetuated EVERYWHERE, not just in our country. Perhaps, we can create a better SOCIETY as a result…I know I’m doing my part because I created to BETTER human beings who happened to be male.attn-women-are-keeping-each-other-safe-in-publi-women-5737782

You are not alone.  Nearly EVERY woman has been the VICTIM of this horrible epidemic…and it IS a disease.  One perpetuated by ignorance and stupidity.  A misogynistic and patrimonial society that allows it to continue…Let’s stop it in ONE generation.  There are those who will say, I can’t do anything…but, you can.  Awareness is only PART of the problem.coworker11done

I don’t claim to have the answers, but we do need to do SOMETHING, ANYthing to make people more aware of its insidious allowance into our lives.  The women, and men, who allow it to happen, perpetuate it, victimize others with their behavior cannot be allowed to continue.  It affects the VICTIMS for LIFE.

1oftnbIt’s NOT funny, it’s not ‘boys will be boys’, it’s horrific, sometimes making suicidal victims in its wake.  We already know our government ALLOWS it, but maybe we need to take the bull by the horns and make THEM aware of how WRONG it is!would-you-help-stop-sexual-harassment-what-would-you-do-13162463

Taking a Knee

It is NOT about disrespect to our anthem. It IS about respectful protest…don’t let people, especially those in our White House, confuse you or the issues. They are attempting slight of hand and if you fall for it, you may miss the important stuff…

Mary Griggs

Sunday’s football games were eagerly anticipated by just as many people who don’t give a rat’s ass for the sport as by those who were fanatics. All across the nation (and especially in the White House), people’s heads were exploding over what football players were doing (or not doing) during the national anthem. These are the same folks, mind you, who just a few short months ago were going completely insane over the removal of monuments dedicated to people who fought a war to destroy our country.

Let me begin by making one thing clear: I am an army brat. I am from a family with a long and proud history of service in the military. I was raised on bases where everything, including traffic, stopped each night when the flag came down. I was taught respect for our nation’s flag and the proper etiquette on handling it – and…

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Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

The Belle Jar

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I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know…

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