Over the holidays, I was visiting with my godson and his family at my mother’s home when the topic of children — the number a family has, to be precise — came up. I noted that many farm families years ago had a large number of children who came in handy at chore time. More children meant more mouths to feed but also more workers to handle the labor-intensive work of rural America and Wisconsin. ... Read more

For the first time in history five generations coexist at work. From the breakroom to the boardroom the silent generation (now in their mid-70s to 80s), baby boomers (60s to early 70s), Generation X (early 40s to 50s), millennials (late 20s to 30s) and Generation Z (just entering their 20s) …

The sophomores sat stiffly in backless wooden benches as a storm raged just beyond the barracks walls. Thirty-year-old Clarice Chase stood at the front of the class, peering out at her 50 Japanese American students. It was Oct. 5, 1942 — the first day of school at Heart Mountain Relocation C…

Christmas season started last year with an ache in my heart and the same question I’d had on my mind for the past several years — would it finally be the Christmas that a patient, loving newspaper reporter would receive a sparkly ring from her significant other?

Coming back from college to celebrate holidays can be such an awkward endeavor. In every legal sense, you are a bona fide adult. And yet, there you are, sleeping in a childhood bed, laundering a mountain of dirty clothes in your parents’ basement, and attempting to dodge earnest family inter…

Last summer I passed a billboard on Hastings Way each day on my way to work: Mary seeking a kidney. I called the local number and left a message explaining my experiences with donation and requesting an interview. I knew this column could help get the word out, but Mary didn’t respond. That …

I struck out in search of silence, and I found it a quarter mile deep in the woods. It wasn’t easy getting there, but it was a whole lot easier with the skis. Not that I’m a skier. But after a month spent on the receiving end of our baby’s caterwauling, I figured I’d give it a try. By that p…

I did most of my growing up in the Putnam Heights neighborhood or off Grover Road. Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, those streets teemed with kids, and my friends and I almost always had at least one, but probably two weekend pickup football games. When we weren’t playing football, we liked to to…

The day after Thanksgiving crowds of deal seekers camped out for the busiest shopping day of the year. The name “Black Friday” refers to retailers turning a profit, from “in the red” to “in the black.” Since 1997, that day is also celebrated as “Buy Nothing Day,” a 24-hour opt out of consumi…

Standing in the driveway on that crisp November morning, as my nine-month-plus-five-day pregnant wife, Meredith, and I prepare for our trip to the hospital, I turn to her, straight-faced, and say:

I was just a kid. Maybe 12 or 13. Freshly graduated from Hunter’s Safety and so excited to be in the Northwoods with my Dad, on my first official whitetail-deer hunt, license pinned to the back of a blaze orange jacket.

Like many Chippewa Falls kids, I perfected my counting skills playing cribbage: “15-2, 15-4, 15-6, and six more is a doz.” As the youngest of eight, games like 500 Rummy, Sheepshead and cribbage were the only way to compete with siblings two or three times my age. We sometimes saw black and …

I won’t bore you with the details, but for purposes of this column you need to know basically three things: 1. I very recently turned 40 years old, 2. I just finished writing my fifth book under a rather aggressive deadline, 3. I spend a lot of my time hunched over a keyboard filled with exi…

Retired stone-engraver Billy Krause’s past reads like the wayfaring musician he is. He bought his first guitar the summer of 1962 — heading into seventh grade — with $15 in lawn mowing earnings. At 16, one Friday night a month for a year he performed with Regis High School friends in their g…

The sky can’t make up its mind, and all morning, John Hildebrand and I peel off our rain gear only to put it all back on 10 minutes later. The Chippewa River is ripping after several inches of recent rain and the 17-foot Alumnacraft canoe we’re paddling is flying downriver, stymied only by a…

I’m standing outside of Lake Hallie Golf with my clamshell of leftover fried walleye when an older gentleman shows me a 16x20 photo in a plastic sleeve. The two eagles are nearly life size.

My wife had done her research, and that research led us to an enchanted property outside of Iron River where a celebrated chicken-breeder preserves the genetic integrity of Icelandic landrace chickens (once almost extinct). Why my wife pined for Icelandic chickens with such intensity, I coul…

About four years ago, with my notebook and camera in tow, I pulled into the parking lot of Dodger Bowl in my hometown of Dodgeville. It was packed — there were so many cars there you’d think there was a community event or fundraiser of some sort going on. But this was something different.

A tiny Norwegian island north of the Arctic Circle, Sommarøy (“Summer Island”), recently made the news for its “Let’s Stop Time” campaign to create the modern world’s first “time free” zone. Many of its 350 residents signed a petition to do away with clocks, deadlines and closing times durin…

I’ve always loved mowing the lawn. I know as a good environmentalist, I shouldn’t say that, but it’s true. I grew up in a comfortable middle or upper-middle class family where my parents for better or worse didn’t assign me many chores. In fact, mowing the lawn is the only chore I can recall…

Now that spring is maybe here to stay and summer isn’t far behind, my husband and I have decided it’s a good time for a “lifestyle change” (my preferred term for “diet,” which has the connotation of temporary change and isn’t something we’ll stick to).

By the time my Writer’s Notebook hits the press, this curious reporter in the southwest corner of the state will have celebrated a milestone. On April 27, I turned 30 — as in I’ve now entered my third decade on this spinning globe.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one to take a vacation. I mean, I like vacations — who doesn’t? But for me, it’s hard to feel like I have the time, especially working under a deadline week after week. So when my significant other, Jamie, told me he had a few vacation days to use up before …

As I write this, the temperature is hovering in the upper 30s. It rained last night, and more is in the forecast. I thought rain would be better than snow, but that’s not the case. Flooding is rampant both in town and out on the rural roads, where county sheriffs have been calling in reports…

After a relatively mild start to the snowy season in southwest Wisconsin, Old Man Winter has finally decided to appear. The past few weeks have been plagued with snowy stretches, sub-zero temperatures (followed by above-average warmth), more snow, sleet and most recently, ice, which closed s…

I’m not usually much for New Year’s resolutions. My mindset tends to be that if there is something I want to change about my habits, or myself in general, that there is no better time than the present to make the change. And then I proceed to work out how I am going to do that.

A few weeks ago, I was surprised to receive a message on Facebook from a young lady with a request that instantly brought a smile to my face. The daughter of longtime friends in Belmont, the sophomore had been tasked to find someone to job shadow for a class assignment and had asked if she c…

We have all heard them before, the “Life is like … ” complete the sentence. I’m sure if you are anything like me, you have even used them in casual conversation. Or if you happen to also be a constantly thinking and analyzing person like myself, you have tried to come up with your own witty …

I wasn’t so much looking to, as Aldo Leopold wrote in “A Sand County Almanac,” avoid the spiritual danger of supposing heat comes from the furnace as I was to remind the squirrels their breakfast doesn’t come from the birdfeeder.

My mom often tells me that I was born outside of my proper generation, and I would tend to agree. Every day, I find anomalies that set me apart from the typical person my age.

I don’t know if he really made it through all seven and a half hours and 18 innings, but the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Game 3 win over the Boston Red Sox prompted a friend to ask about personal favorite World Series memories.

As September turned into October, I was recuperating from a cold I seemed to have picked up after attending the World Beef Expo in West Allis the weekend before. I had to get better fast as my biggest assignment yet was approaching — coverage of the World Dairy Expo at the Alliant Energy Cen…

With one our children off to college in Chicago and the other not far behind while maintaining a very full extracurricular and social life, Dave and I are getting our first taste of what it’s like to be empty nesters.