Forgotten Things You Discover When You Downsize

As most of you know by now, I moved into an apartment in Sister Bay in June last year. This moved consumed more than five weeks of my life since it entailed relocating from a two-story house with a full basement, a detached two-car garage, and a chicken coop, into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.

And while my new abode has considerable storage, the move still necessitated a yard sale, an enormous dumpster, and the rental of a garage-sized storage unit. So this winter, with the holidays now passed, Barb and I will begin to go through some of the boxes that we just didn’t have the time to get through this summer.

Before I even brought a box or two from our storage unit, however, I discovered a cache of forgotten newspaper clippings. You see, at one time I clipped and saved stories I thought I might use in my column and a collection of these is what I chanced upon the other day.

Rather than let them go to waste, I carefully read through each one, which resulted in most going into the recycling bag. I did, however, find a few that were just too good to toss without including here. So from the way, way back time machine, I present the following:

From a 1996 clipping: I discovered an interesting little essay that had relevance to our small peninsula, but did so from a far different vantage point. Here is some of what the author had to say:

“The tourism trade, we are told, is the largest and fastest-growing area of industry around the world. Understandably, tourism is seen by many countries as a major source of foreign currency, a creator of jobs and a potential motor for economic growth.

“As travel and tourism grow, so does the demand for new hotels and resorts at affordable prices, many in ecologically delicate and desirable sites. Environmentally, socially and aesthetically responsible hotel siting, design and construction are the foundation from which this industry can grow and sustain its own – and the landscape’s – health in the long term.

“This does not have to be at odds with a reasonable return on investment, particularly where investors are looking for long-term, sustainable returns from a high-quality project.”

This essay originally appeared in the international edition of the Herald Tribune as part of the monthly World Leaders Forum. The kicker, folks, is that the author is The Prince of Wales, as in Charles of Britain.

From a 1993 clipping: Since 1924, the Mouton Rothschild vineyard, in Pauillac (near Bordeaux), has been inviting noted artists to design labels. Among this select group have been Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Marc Chagall – to name just a few. For their 1993 vintage, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (who ran the vineyard at the time and died this past year) selected a drawing by one of the world’s most famous artists: Balthus.

Balthus, who died in 2001, frequently drew or painted highly stylized nudes of prepubescent girls throughout his career, and it was precisely such a sketch that the Baroness selected. The sketch was faithfully reproduced in a 2 1/2” x 4” square and the vintage was shipped. All seemed well… until… the bottles arrived in California!

Yes, folks, California. The planet (sometimes called a state) that has difficulty forming a coherent thought…the planet that once wanted to recognize a dialect (“Ebonics”) as a distinct language…the planet that willingly accepts Shirley MacLaine as a resident…this planet was offended by a work of art on a wine label! The irony here is almost more than I can bear.

Well, the Baroness was conciliatory and issued the following statement: “While I believe that there is absolutely nothing erotic or pornographic about the sketch of a nude 10-year-old girl – the nude has inspired artists for centuries – I respect the feelings and beliefs of our customers.”

So, if you happen to be out in California, and find the pocket change to order a 1993 bottle of Mouton Rothschild, you will receive a bottle with a label that features a 2 1/2” x 4” white square.

From a 1997 clipping: As regular readers of this column know, I have an ongoing concern about the manner in which residents of Wisconsin are portrayed in the national media. Granting the fact that all the events that are reported nationally do, in fact occur, I am still alarmed by how these stories result in all Wisconsin residents looking like a bunch of idiots.

The low point for Wisconsin in the national news occurred when, on the same day, these two stories were reported in the national news media:

First was the story of the Appleton woman who was suing her psychiatrist because he convinced her she had 120 separate personalities. So far, you probably don’t think anything is terribly amiss – and you’re right (as long as you aren’t one of the woman’s 120 personalities). The point at which Wisconsin comes off looking stupid is when we learn that the psychiatrist charged the woman and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin for group therapy sessions because she allegedly has 120 personalities!

And second was the story of the judge in Milwaukee who terminated the rights of a brother and a sister to their seven-month-old son.

The background to this story, briefly, is that the brother and sister were born in good old Wisconsin but were raised in separate households. The sister was adopted at age seven and was reunited with her brother when she was 18. She states that she was unaware that she was related to her brother when they began having sex. At the time of the story the brother was 44 and the sister was 30.

Now for the really outlandish part of the story: the seven month old boy was the third child this “couple” had conceived – they also had a 6-year-old and a 10-year-old (they lost custody rights to these children as well).

With stories like these appearing in the national news, we better hope that the Packers keep winning the Super Bowl (this from a Bears fan!) – it’s the only positive press coverage our state receives.