Take a Moment


Too many times what I’m about to say is a message that comes across as self-serving and boastful more than being a true reminder from the person giving it.  Reality is, some of the people who do this are honestly only doing it to symbolically make themselves feel better or feed their ego in a show of knowledge.  However, the message shouldn’t be lost.


Between your time outside with family, firing up the grills and relaxing this Memorial Day Weekend, don’t forget what this time is meant to symbolize.  Yes, it’s a kickoff for summer and the opportunities presented in front of us in 2021 that didn’t exist in 2020 but it’s also much more.


This is a time to remember those service members who never came home.   Don’t forget that and whether it’s going to a cemetery to visit a loved ones marker or something as simple as just a solitary moment of reflection and thanks make sure that this weekend doesn’t pass without you thinking of them at least once (if not more).


If you see a veteran or current servicemember, make sure to thank them as you should any day but many of them will be quick to remind you (vast majority kindly but some rightfully no so) that this is not ‘their day’ but instead one to honor their brothers & sisters who didn’t come back with them.


With all this in mind, while the weekend commemorates something solemn it should celebrated with gusto.  This too is something many in the military agree.  Take a moment to reflect and honor those who sacrificed and then make damn sure well you take advantage of what they did.


Memorial Day/Weekend is a wonderful time with many outstanding traditions that return in 2021.  Partaking in the activities doesn’t disrespect the day but don’t lose sight of the meaning of the day.




Top 5 things we will miss about masks in Chippewa Valley


Call it what you believe. Either its the great unmasking or what you foresee as the worst premature celebration of all-time.  With Eau Claire (city & county) joining the rest of the region and many others nationwide in making mask wearing a choice rather than a requirement we’ve reached a significant milestone in the last two years.


Some individuals and businesses will continue to require mask wearing, as is their right and I encourage everyone to respect those wishes as much as they want their own desires fulfilled.  However, now that we who are vaccinated can ditch the mask with confidence, I’ve worked up the top five things we may miss now that the Chippewa Valley is facially free


1) Culpable deniability – Whether it was at Festival Foods, or The Coffee Grounds or navigating through Menards we all experienced it over the last year and that was seeing a person we were 90% sure we recognized but without their full face couldn’t be fully confident.


It was okay if they didn’t see us, but you know there would come that awkward eye contact and you could tell they were doing the same thing.


This was perfect if you didn’t want to engage in a conversation.  Just keep moving along and use the mask as an excuse.


This was also the excuse if someone came up to you and began talking but you couldn’t decipher who it was.  Blame it on the masks!


2) Free Stuff – I’ve always said, anyone who doubts an American’s need for free stuff has never attended an expo.  I’m convinced 99% of those who attend things like the Home & Garden Show in town are only there to grab rulers, pens and stress balls.


In the last year, that was replaced by the bowls of complimentary masks that many businesses would have out.  I saw people who weren’t even wearing a mask, grab handfuls of them at places like ECDC coffee and then proceed to pocket them.  Clearly they didn’t believe in “masking up” but hey…it was something free.


3) Facial Hygiene – Whether it’s the absurd amount of Chippewa Valley men over-estimating womens’ like for facial hair, or people who almost defiantly refuse to see a dentist…facial coverings quite literally ‘masked’ a lot.   Don’t feel like brushing your teeth today?  Cool, the mask will hide that.  Think that moustache is cool because you mis-interpreted your friend making fun of you as a compliment?  Don’t worry, the mask will save you from yourself.


4) Limited Small Talk – Admittedly, this will continue as employees at places still wear masks but will wane over the next few months.  However, thanks to masks  we were all able to cut right to the chase whether it was your dentist trying to have that awkward convo with you will they seemingly reaching right to your stomach acids, or the restaurant server who robotically asks “how’s your day” as you take that quick stroll to a seat.  Many of these pointless conversations, done solely to break a silence that doesn’t necessarily need to be interrupted were stifled due to masks.


Conversations through a mask are difficult, especially with unfamiliar individuals.  It’s a reason why some hard-of-hearing associations pushed for more ‘see through’ masks as we learned we look at the movement of lips more than we think.


The good side was, if you didn’t want to engage in these conversations, you’d just say you couldn’t hear.


5) Solidarity – Despite what you hear on Fox News or MSNBC, we aren’t as divided as they promote.  Remember, those outlets, particularly after 7pm are more akin to sports talk radio in that they are entertainment and no longer news.  Problem is, they are playing with much more significant issues and the millions who watch don’t (or don’t want too) look at it as entertainment.


Over the last year, as we had masks on, walking passed each other we could see in each other’s eyes the same pessimism, optimism, fear, hope, worry and perseverance we were all encountering on a day-to-day basis.


I will miss that.

May 1st, When the Pandemic Ended in the Chippewa Valley?


In life, many times don’t recognize the “Good Times” until they’ve passed and only in retrospection and against the comparison of following events do we even make such declarations.  Similarly, when it comes to the pandemic, we’ve all desired a clear cut END though we must admit it’ll be vague.  There won’t be a single moment that we’ll know in the moment.


However, may I suggest for future consideration that perhaps May 1st may have been a true sign. Nationally we had the Kentucky Derby run before thousands of spectators (even if still limited from usual) in Louisville.  Meanwhile locally, the Downtown Farmer’s Market started it’s Saturday runs and local youth baseball leagues around the area held their opening days. Elsewhere there was just a feeling of “re-opening” whether it was seeing more people in line for ice cream at Ramones or more people flocking to River Prairie for activities.


Yes, all of these things took place with restrictions and limitations in 2020 , and some restrictions still remain, but there is definitely more sense of freedom and optimism as opposed to feeling handcuffed and pessimistic.


I spent most of that Saturday at youth baseball fields where my nine-year old son started a new season.  Their was the smell of hot dogs, the sounds of baseball mixed with the shrieks and giggles and voices of kids both on and off the field.  There was a season last summer, but even with masks one could see the pained look on adult’s faces.  Much of that is now gone and so are masks.


Later that evening, as a family, we headed downtown to visit Ramones.  This was something we did last summer but the same change was noticeable.  Yes, masks are still worn inside Ramones but just walking around downtown licking our cones everything seems more vibrant.


In the subsequent two weeks that have passed since, it’s become more the acceptable societal norm to go “mask-less” again.  This is not to say those who continue to wear masks are wrong (or cautious to a fault) nor is it to say the point of wearing masks was fruitless all these month (because it wasn’t) but the tide has turned. 


The discontinuation of weekly media briefings from Lieske Giese as of this month is also a subtle, yet powerful, step in a return to a more accepted level of life.


COVID still exists and sadly it’ll continue to wreck havoc on lives locally, regionally and nationally.  Continue to take precautions as necessary and most importantly be respectful of others.


Yet, I submit for consideration that we’ll look back at this time as when -cliché as it may be- we awoke in parallel with the spring season we are now fully immersed in.

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