Michelle's Musings

Mon
16
May
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A Time Before Roe v. Wade

My mother was 15 when she got pregnant with me in 1966. 

Abortion was illegal.

As you might imagine, it was not cool to get pregnant at 15 in 1966 (it still isn’t), but that was the reality around my birth. 

My aunts–my mom’s sisters–have filled in some of the detail of what was going on in my grandparent’s house at the time of this revelation. It wasn’t pretty by any account. 

In spite of it being illegal, abortion was one of the options on the table and as my mom later explained, you could go to Indiana and get one (we were from Michigan) for a price.

Instead, my family decided that the best thing to do was adopt me out. My mother would go to a home for unwed mothers in Jackson, MI called the Florence Crittenden Home. My mother was there while she was pregnant and was to hand me over to the adoption agency at the hospital without even meeting me. 

Mon
25
Apr
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District Maps

Had I been on the non-partisan committee appointed by Gov. Tony Evers’ tasked to redraw legislative district maps within the state, I would be disillusioned by the disgusting display of partisanship by both the current legislature and the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I would think eight months of working on drawing fair legislative maps had been for naught. (County and US Congressional maps were not affected.)

In spite of the fact that I was not on that committee, I still feel those things. As if I have witnessed some twisted dog and pony show. Why bother to put a committee in place, gather public input and draw the maps in the first place if you are simply going to allow the Republicans in the state legislature submit their own? Why waste the time of volunteers, taxpayers and the court only to come back with nearly identical gerrymandered districts that were in place before?

Mon
18
Apr
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Hunting Sandhill Cranes

I recently read an article about the Wisconsin Legislature presenting a bill to allow hunting sandhill cranes. The article referred to the majestic birds as “the ribeye of the sky.”

Having worked in restaurants in the 1990s when ostrich meat became a popular low fat, low cholesterol alternative to steak, I totally understood what they were getting at–sandhill cranes taste like red meat. This does not, however, mean they should be eaten.

I have no qualms with hunting. If you are killing something to eat, fine, but having a pair of sandhill cranes visiting my bird feeder daily, I can’t imagine looking at the large birds and thinking, “That looks tasty. Mmmm, ribeye of the sky.”

Mon
28
Feb
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Black History Month

I am a firm believer that Black history is everyone’s history and should be taught year-round as part of regular school curriculum. But because of the racism and oppression of Black people that has been persistent and prevalent in our country since its founding, that has not happened. Instead, we take the month of February to highlight Black leaders and achievements. I hope someday this will change, but at this time we are celebrating Black History Month. 

I have compiled a list of some of the Black historical figures in the US, trying to feature those that are lesser known than the few we have learned about in school. I encourage you to research these innovators, leaders and inventors as well as others Black Americans who have greatly contributed to our society. 

Bessie Coleman: Aviation pioneer

Phillis Wheatly: Poet

Althea Gibson: Tennis star

Madam CJ Walker: First Black millionaire, inventor of beauty products

Sat
01
Jan
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Losing a Good Neighbor

I would be remiss if I did not dedicate this column to someone who loved Middleton and worked to make it a better place–Jeff Martin.

Jeff passed away suddenly last week, leaving members of the community who knew him at the Middleton Area Historical Society (MAHS), volunteered with him at community events, such as Good Neighbor Fest, or enjoy his skilled photography shocked and saddened.

Jeff provided photos to the Times-Tribune for years and I have worked with him to bring “History Spotlight” to the newspaper each month. He was a big supporter of print media and was raised around newspapers. His father and two grandfathers were small town, newspaper men in Michigan, my home state.

I was also looking forward to working with him on the MAHS Newsletter, which I will be taking on in March. Jeff was very dedicated to preserving the history, and could often be seen working at the Rowley House and the MAHS’s annual Ice Cream & Pie Social his wife, Jan.

Sat
18
Dec
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Fee & Other Imaginary Friends

“Don’t sit there!” my four-year-old voice exclaimed from across the cavernous living room. 

“Fee is sitting there,” I then proclaimed.

Fee was my imaginary friend. I don’t quite remember when he joined our family, but he was typically present at parties, holidays and other events. My family, quite respectful of Fee and his need for his own space, would oblige when I demanded they not sit on him, give him food or go on family outing.

He was by my side when I was sick, which was a regular occurrence because I was living with undiagnosed allergies. So, when I would get sick with strep throat or some other infectious illness doctors would give me penicillin, not realizing I was allergic to it. This meant I was in bed a lot and Fee would sit in my room with me. 

Sun
03
Oct
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Don't Call Me Gal

One of the things I really try not to do is engage with people on social media. It is a losing proposition, and you almost never influence a strangers view on politics or hot button issues.

Something I can’t tolerate, though, is sexism. I have fought hard to become an educated, thoughtful and independent woman, and I feel the need to call out sexism when I see it. I feel that it is my duty to honor the women who came before me and fought for my right to choose birth control, go to college, get a loan, own property, have a credit card, own a business–you get the idea.

Sun
12
Sep
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Summer's End

I was outside in the garden on Labor Day ripping multiple layers of landscape fabric from a garden at our new house when I her the cry of a lone cicada. Not the raucous and loud waning in and out cadence they beat out at the heart of summer when it is first getting hot, and they emerge from the ground. This was a slow, low and steady sound–monotone, even–reminding me that another summer is about to slip through my fingers as the trees slowly begin to switch from green to much showier reds, yellows, oranges and purples.

Fri
06
Aug
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Adventurer

My grandpa had a friend named Jay who owned several horses that competed on the local harness race circuit back in the 1970s. They would go to county fairs around Michigan during the racing season, which was typically late spring through early fall, sometimes winning, sometimes not.

Fri
06
Aug
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Moving

When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I move a lot, and I do mean a lot. As I have grown older, I have had less desire to change residence every year or two, opting to stay in one place. Note, I did not say put down roots, because I believe your roots are attached to a location, not the home you occupy. 

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