Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin

Summer Concert Season, Again

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Folks, I wanted to drop in a little bloglet, and let you know that the Racine Concert Band’s season of free summer concerts has started.

As of last night (June 30, 2019, to be exact), the RCB will have seven free concerts at the Racine Zoo. And if you live in Southeastern Wisconsin or Northern Illinois, and want to hear some fun band music, you should stop out and see us. (Did I mention it’s free?)

Now, as to why I didn’t say anything before the first concert? Well, last year, we had a rainout the night I talked about the band, and I knew inclement weather was forecast. So call me superstitious, if you will — and you probably will — but I didn’t think I should say something until at least one concert was in the “good books.”

Plus, I will admit that my health the past week wasn’t the world’s best. (Even by my admittedly low standards, unfortunately.) I was diagnosed with an acute sinus infection, asthma exacerbation/bronchitis, fluid in both ears, allergic conjunctivitis in both eyes…basically, I was a hot mess.

Fortunately, after a breathing treatment at the doctor’s office, and six prescription medications later, I’m starting to feel better. I even wrote a little fiction, for the first time in three weeks…and, of course, I’m writing this little bit right now, to keep y’all informed.

So, I did get the first concert in. I didn’t feel that great. I don’t think I played up to my standards. (I think I played maybe 3/4 or a bit more of my usual standards.) But the crowd was appreciative, no band members gave me any dirty looks (which can happen when you’re playing very badly, as it’s the only way we have to blow off steam silently), and I didn’t collapse.

Which, of course, is the very definition of a win. And while that’s not precisely the win I wanted, I am glad I was able to do it…and as I am responding to the antibiotics and prednisone well (two of the six Rxes), I expect that in coming days I’ll be able to do more and more of what I normally would.

Requiem for a Grocery Store

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Folks, the grocery store closest to my house — the Pick N Save on Rapids Drive in Racine, Wisconsin — will be closing on June 26, 2015.

This is bad news for anyone in Racine, but most particularly for those living near Horlick High School.

I’ve known the store would close since mid-April of this year. I kept meaning to write a blog to talk about what this store means to me…and time got away.

Granted, I’ve been busy writing and editing. (And gladly so.)

But I didn’t want yet another neighborhood grocery store to go belly up in Racine because of our horrible economy without trying to say something about why I liked the store — and why I want it to stay open.

First, the Rapids Plaza Pick N Save is a neighborhood store. 75% of their clientele is comprised of foot traffic.

(In case you’re wondering, this is the store — this particular store, the Rapids Plaza Pick N Save — I walked to when my car was out for 52 days last year.)

Second, the employees are friendly, knowledgeable, and remember you. They ask about your family as if they truly care. And if you need a coupon, they’ll find one for you…they don’t turn their noses up and refuse to work over there, unlike some stores I’ve been in up in Milwaukee (and elsewhere).

And third…well, I used to work at this store, years back. I cashiered, stocked shelves, was the assistant dairy and frozen foods person for a while…I worked in nearly every aspect of the store, from produce to deli to health and beauty. (Heck, even floral — and trust me, I wasn’t that great, but they were desperate.)

Fourth…well, there aren’t any grocery stores for at least three miles in any direction. So if you don’t have a car and the buses have stopped running for the day but you need milk or bread, you will be out of luck after June 26, 2015.

There is perhaps a hint of good news on the horizon, if you believe in the scuttlebutt I picked up earlier today. Apparently Wal-mart, which has wanted to expand for a while now (Caledonia vetoed a proposed site in late 2013, if memory serves), is looking into buying the entirety of Rapids Plaza.

If Wal-mart comes in, at least there would be a neighborhood store to walk to…and the employees will have a chance (a very strong chance) to be hired on.

As it stands, though, the Pick N Save on Rapids Dr. will be closing on June 26. No one can stop it. There’s no way to change it.

It’s completely nonsensical, and I really had wanted to mount some sort of grassroots campaign to get a Woodman’s into Racine as I felt they’d know exactly what to do with this store.

But if the Wal-mart does come in, and if they do a good job, perhaps all is not lost.

We who live close to Horlick High School can hope for that.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Voting and Disappointment

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Folks, I’m sorry to say that business as usual will continue in Wisconsin. Scott Walker won re-election, which I have to say I don’t understand…and there were some truly puzzling things going on in other races, too. (How did Douglas LaFollette only get 49% in his Secretary of State race? He should’ve won with 60% of the vote, as he always does.)

But the voters have spoken. Scott Walker remains the Governor of Wisconsin.

(In case you were wondering, I am truly disappointed.)

It’s not so much that Scott Walker has been re-elected that bothers me, though admittedly I wanted him out. It’s that I don’t see anything in Wisconsin that’s likely to improve with him as our Governor.

Definitely, nothing will improve in Racine, where crying economic needs have been unmet for the past ten years or more.

While I was not a fan of Mary Burke, as I felt she was a corporate Democrat who didn’t have any understanding of the middle or lower classes in Wisconsin, if she had been elected, there might’ve been a prayer that something, anything, might improve.

Instead, we’re going to get the same-old, same-old.

And that’s incredibly disappointing.

Because I’m a prognosticator by trade ( at least part of the time), I will point out that I didn’t think Burke was the answer for Wisconsin.

But I don’t think Scott Walker is the answer, either.

That being said, our choices right now are few. We’ll have to hunker down and endure in Racine, again, as I doubt Walker will approve the casino expansion in Kenosha (one of the few things that might create some desperately needed jobs; something Walker has stalled for the last two years or more).

But I will keep my eyes on the one, potential saving grace: the possibility that if Walker does not change, does not at least become willing to do something to promote true economic opportunity in Wisconsin, he can be recalled in 2016.

Wouldn’t that be a blow to his Presidential aspirations?

Wisconsin’s Winter Weather Nightmare

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Folks, the weather here is brutal. I do not say this lightly.

Currently, it’s -13 F with a wind chill factor of -45 F. These are the worst conditions I’ve seen in thirty-plus years in any part of the Midwest — and considering I used to live in Nebraska, where it often gets colder than Wisconsin during the winter, that’s saying something.

Consider, please, that right now it’s warmer in Idaho than it is in Wisconsin. And that almost never happens.

This weather is not conducive toward much, I’m afraid. I’m trying to work, but am worried the power will go out. If it does, everyone in the outage area will be in deep trouble, as unlike our ancestors, we do not have wood-fired stoves or even pot-bellied stoves . . . we only have electric and gas stoves, which are much more dependent on external infrastructure than I like to contemplate under the circumstances.

Years ago, when I moved to Colorado with my ex-husband due to his military service, I was delighted to find that most Colorado apartments include fireplaces as a matter of course. That meant in a power outage, we’d not be in danger of cold. And even without a power outage, firelight is both calming and comforting, so it was definitely an excellent thing to have.

In Wisconsin, it’s very rare to find fireplaces included in apartments or homes unless you’re talking about someone very, very wealthy (which I’m not). But I’m betting many people — not just me — are wishing they had a fireplace right now, because the temperatures outside are so bad that everyone’s being advised to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.

Now, what does this mean in practical terms? It means that I’m sitting inside a house that’s struggling to keep the temperature up high enough to sustain human life, along with nearly every other home and apartment in the Midwest. And the resulting power drain has to be straining the electric company’s ability to cope.

This is why the following sentence keeps coming to mind:


Written by Barb Caffrey

January 6, 2014 at 7:01 pm