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New Kid's View

Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.

New Year's 2009

Chrismas, Ida Spack, Los Angeles, New Year, Nona's Cafe, South Milwaukee, University of Southern California

New Year’s resolution Number One. Do a better job of keeping up with posting on South Milwaukee NOW.

First a retrospective.

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dove, owl

At first I thought it was a mourning dove.

"Cu-coo, cu-coo."

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Bad news getting better

digging out, helping, neighborly deeds, snow piling up

As Christmas approached, things looked pretty grim for some of the neighbors around here. The passing of one and hospitalization of his wife, surgery and a disturbing diagnosis for another, another also with a medical problem. The snow piling up, phone calls and emails keeping us in touch with each other, all worrying, feeling a little less merry than on Christmases past.

"Our neighborhood is falling apart," lamented one.

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Inauguration Eve

"The Inheritance", After Words, Barack Obama, Book TV, C-SPAN, David Sanger, election, Inauguration, intelligence briefing, John McCain, National Public Radio, Newt Gingrich, president

It's obviously not Inauguration Eve. It was when I started writing this, but I got sidetracked by preparations for an Inauguration brunch for a few South Milwaukee friends. The brunch and celebrating with like-minded neighbors was fun. But then I came down with a cold and felt too lousy to do much of anything.

What I was writing last Monday was that here on the eve of the most momentous presidential inauguration in history (at least in my opinion), I'm listening to the many reports of inclusiveness such as Barack Obama inviting Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren to give the inaugural innvocation, Obama meeting with the Republican leadership, having dinner with conservative media columnists -- on their turf, and holding an Inauguration Eve dinner in John McCain's honor. I can't remember an incoming president ever doing such a thing.

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Health Benefits of Community

Red wine. Cutting calories. Lots of talk in the news these days of magic bullets for extending life, reducing disease and improving quality of life. But I read about something the other day that trumps all others. The village of Roseto in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.
Malcolm Gladwell in his new book, Outliers, tells about the residents of Roseta, which was founded in the 1890s, who have a history of almost no heart disease, no heart-attack victims under 55 years old, death rates from all causes 30 to 35 percent below the national average, no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addition, no one on welfare, no one with peptic ulcers, and a very low crime rate.
The secret isn't wine. It isn't diet. In fact, their diet seems rather unhealthy -- foods high in cholestorol, sugar and fat. It wasn't the mountain air -- the health of residents in nearby towns parallel national norms. The people in Roseto don't practice yoga or meditate. Neither do genetics play any significant role, according to an intensive study by researchers.
The secret? Community. Roseto is an isolated town of about 1,600 settled by immigrants from a town by the same name in southern Italy. Since its founding, the residents have remained isolated, self-sufficient and sequestered from neighboring towns. They've retained their customs, strong familial relationships, generation-spanning friendships and language -- speaking not just Italian, but a dialect specific to Roseto, Italy.
According to Gladwell, "the Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world." Everyone knows everyone else, they all stop to speak when they see each other on the street, visit on each others' front porches, families -- sometimes three generations living under one roof -- eat meals together. The researchers' health and wellness discovery was, their word, community.
That reinforces growing evidence that social circles, support networks and human contact contribute greatly to a person's health and well being. That's something to keep in mind. Sure makes me value my South Milwaukee community and neighbors all the more.

Our Own Children's Author wins honors galore!

Janet Halfmann, Little Skink's Tail, Mom's Choice Award, Seven Miles to Freedom, Society of School Librarians International, The Bloomsbury Review

My South Milwaukee friend and fellow author Janet Halfmann received exciting news today.

Her book, Little Skink's Tail, has been named by Mom's Choice Awards as one of three best children's
books for 2009. The book also won gold medals in the Educators' Choice and Animal
Kingdom categories.

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