FARWELL TO A LEGEND

He looks a little older these days

Most of you have heard me mention my friend Curtis before. I first ran into this gentleman on a trip to the local establishment Urban Joe’s Cafe,. Throughout the years I have known this man I have watched him navigate his way through school, maintain a fitness routine, become a father all while working full-time as the face of the franchise, if you will, of Urban Joe’s. This past Saturday was his last day. Curtis, his wife and young son are moving next month to start a new chapter of their lives in sunny Las Vegas. Although the restaurant will continue to offer the mouth-watering cuisine prepared by chef Carlos, and the same charming atmosphere, it will no doubt miss the personality of Curtis.

Curtis and his wife, Danie

Curtis has done a great deal to become more than just the face of Urban Joe’s, but a piece of the fabric of the community. When people think of the city of West Allis, they can recall a visit where they received great food in a pleasant place. What made Urban Joe’s so special when Curtis was there was his ability to care for his customers. To make them feel less like a number and more like a friend. To that end, he became a pleasant part of the people’s lives that live and work in the city. I know several people who, when visiting the city, make it a point to stop and see Curtis. They do so because everyone likes to be treated with respect. They like to feel valued and cared about. Those are qualities that you cannot put a price on and ones that will surely be missed with the departure of this wonderful family.

While the city of Las Vegas is going to gain some amazing and wonderful people, the city of West Allis will have lost a great deal of it’s warmth and welcoming nature. Whatever city you are from, I am sure this has happened there as well. Great people come, bless us with their gifts of love and hospitality and move on to share it with a new city. That means a great responsibility falls on the hearts and shoulders of the people left behind. It is why we must work to provide a warm and welcoming feeling to everyone we meet. We not only represent ourselves, but the places we work and the cities we live in. We should remember how we like to be treated and feel when we go somewhere. Let us provide that feeling to others. We need to work together to make sure the light of love and welcome shines bright for all we come in contact with.

On a personal note, I know Margie and I are going to miss seeing Curtis and Danie as we consider them good friends. We wish them and their family great health and fortune in their new adventure. Margie, my mom and I were lucky enough to spend some time with Curtis on his last day at Urban Joe’s. We will certainly continue to support this local business but we will always miss the presence of our goods friends. Those who have had the pleasure of knowing Curtis and Danie no doubt feel the same.

LOCAL MASTERMINDS WORKING TO BETTER THE CITY

The internet defines ‘mastermind’ in 2 distinct ways. noun – a person with outstanding intellect and verb – plan and direct (an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise) In the city where I live, West Allis Wisconsin, we have a local group of masterminds who fit that definition exactly. The group is called “West Allis Masterminds”. It consists of a small group of local business owners from the city. Recently, I sat down with the group’s founder, Ricky Grabow, to learn more about this amazing group, who they are and what they are doing to improve the city.

My first question to Ricky was what exactly is the West Allis Masterminds? As I discovered, not only are they people of outstanding intellect, but they are owners of local brick and mortar stores located in the city of West Allis. How does such a group come together and why the name masterminds? Several years back the city had decided to disband its local chamber of commerce. When Mr. Grabow heard of this, he saw a great opportunity to establish a group of people that are not only vested in the city, but dedicated to its success. The exact mission statement of the Mastermind group reads as follows, “To provide West Allis small businesses a supportive community that ensures long term success and survival.” That certainly fits the second part of our definition of mastermind, plan and direct an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise. In this case they are planning and scheming ways in which to improve the climate for small businesses in the city by working together cooperatively.

Ricky is the owner of Peak Physique a local gym here in West Allis. He is not only vested in the city, but has a passion for seeing it, and those in it, do well. I asked him how he chose the name for the group. He said it was inspired from the 1937 Napoleon Hill classic Think and Grow Rich. In which Mr. Hill advocates forming a group of individuals all with different opinions and talents dedicated to a common purpose. In this case that means Mr. Grabow contacted other West Allis business owners who also wanted to work together to not only improve their chances for success, but the chance for other local businesses to succeed as well.

There were several local businesses that were involved from very early on. Westallion Brewing Company and their owners were eager to help out. They often do many things to promote and benefit the city. Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli was another business working within the group. Mike, the owner, is not only a great businessman, but one of the friendliest people you will have the pleasure of meeting. Andrea and her business Oniomania, a small boutique on the east side of the city was another early member. Lisa and Josh from Transaction Skate Shop were also eager to help Ricky in his mission. These five businesses were soon joined by others and continue to work to improve the environment for small business.

Being a man of specifics, I wanted to know what steps they were taking to improve the climate for local businesses and how people can become a part of their efforts. The first way in which they are assisting local businesses is by providing a platform on which they can network with each other. In this way, the businesses can discover ways in which they can both support each other and work together to increase business in the city as a whole. Local business owners are encouraged to attend one of their monthly meetings and become a part of this amazing group. The next one is April 22nd at Westallion Brewing Company at 2pm. There is no cost to attend the event or be a part of the group and it is a fun and unique way to get to know fellow business owners.

The current goal the group is working towards is developing a stream of revenue to be able to provide new businesses with grants to assist them in getting started. They are also focused on being able to provide assistance to businesses that may be struggling in these current and difficult circumstances. I was curious as to how an average citizen could play a part in the efforts of the group. Once again Mr. Grabow had an answer. Starting June 8th, the group will hold a vendor fair showcasing many of the amazing businesses that are a part of this group. These will be held in the beer garden right outside the restaurant Public Table. Past events have not only featured beers from Westallion and amazing gift ideas from Oniomania, but also massages from Susan of Massage MKE. It is a free event where you can browse and experience many of the amazing businesses present in the city. A portion of the revenue will go towards the group and their goals. You can enjoy a good meal, a tasty beverage, a relaxing massage and do some shopping all while helping support the health and vitality of the city and its small businesses.

If you would like to know more about the group, the fun things they have planned and how you can be a part of the great positive changes they are striving to make in the community, I will include a link to the group’s Facebook page at the end of this blog. I am very proud to be in a city that is filled with such caring business owners. They are people dedicated to not only the health of the local business community , but the city as a whole. I strongly encourage you to learn more about the group and attend one or more of their vending fairs.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WEST ALLIS MASTERMINDS

THE ENDING OF AN ERA

As a youngster, I have memories of this place called Skelly’s in my hometown of West Allis, Wisconsin. It was a small breakfast place. When you walked in you were greeted with the smell of frying eggs and buttered toast. If you wanted something healthy, your only option was to go somewhere else. I love places like that. Warm, comforting with a little greasy breakfast. Something about a diner just takes you back in time.

When I was still quite young, Skelly’s closed for good. I don’t remember much about that except one day it was just gone. When you are young I suppose that is how things go. Things are here one day and gone the next. There was a similar place down the road a piece, called The Cup and Saucer. Same sort of food and also went out of business when I was young. It wasn’t until I grew up (physically) that I began to recall and long for a place like Skelly’s.

Then, at that same very location opened a wonderful new cafe – Urban Joe’s. I do not recall the first time that I visited this wonderful place, but I do know I have not stopped visiting since. Unlike Skelly’s there are plenty of healthy options. (One of my favorites is the Mediterranean egg white sandwich. They also serve Valentine Coffee, which happens to be my favorite local coffee to drink. (I even have a Valentine Coffee sticker on my laptop) The best part of Urban Joe’s CafĂ© is the service that you receive there. It comes courtesy of the husband and wife team of Curtis and Danie. Both treat you as if you were more family than customer. I always enjoy encounters with them both. Curtis and I can maintain what amounts to rather entertaining banter the whole time that I am there. Margie and I actually have plans to go there a week from today.

Sadly, for those of us here in West Allis, Curtis, Danie and their young son will be moving to Las Vegas in May. This will spell the end of the era of Urban Joe’s. I heard rumors it may become a taco restaurant. Perhaps it shall keep its name and format, but without these two behind the counter things will certainly not be the same.

Unlike when I was a young child, I can see and appreciate this ending coming. Although knowing ahead of time allows me time to soak in a few more wonderful meals, cups of great coffee and experiences at Urban Joe’s, it is also bittersweet. Knowing that time is limited can be a somewhat sorrowful feeling, but it also reminds us how everything in our life is transitory, if not fleeting. Whether that is a friendship, a relationship, a job, a vacation and even more to the point, our own lives, everything comes to an end. Let us not view this as a somber thought, but let us use it as motivation to live every day – no wait, every moment – to the fullest. Be present when we are enjoying all of the moments of our life. Urban Joe’s may never be the same. Curtis and Danie may certainly be leaving. That is just going to inspire me to enjoy every moment I have left in both that establishment and with these wonderful people Margie and I have been fortunate enough to befriend.

NECESSITY GRANTS OPPORTUNITY

2 great businesses come together

Very few things can get me to drive in the snowstorm that we experienced Tuesday evening. Two things that can, however, are great friends and pizza. Those two things came together in a new and unique culinary adventure I would like to share with you.

This pandemic has forced businesses, and their owners, to take new and creative steps. A great example was brought to my attention by the owner of Transaction Skate Shop here in West Allis Wisconsin where I live. Lisa, one of the owners of this fun establishment, used this challenging time to expand her creative and business ventures. One passion this young lady and I share is the passion for great pizza. As Covid-19 began to take hold about 6 months ago, Lisa began creating her own pizza at home. When I say creating her own pizza, that is exactly what I mean. She perfected making pizza dough from scratch, then worked on recipes for homemade sauce as well!

Lisa loves to share her passions

Lisa ended up falling in love with the process of making pizza from scratch. After tasting her creations, she wanted to share them with others. Knowing that it would be difficult to create pizza in her West Allis skate shop, she shared her ideas with her friends from Sweet Basil Mke, a Thai street eats restaurant in Franklin Wisconsin. Together they came up with combining Lisa’s passion for made-from-scratch pizza with their amazing Thai and Lao flavors. I live for pizza and love the flavors of Thai cuisine. The thought that they could be combined both frightened and excited me. Would the combining the two take away from how delicious each is on their own? Would putting to two together take the whole flavor experience to new heights? With these questions in mind, I could not refuse Lisa’s offer to try one for myself.

As I bravely drove through the threatening weather, my mouth began to water. I arrived at Sweet Basil Mke, where the pop up pizza kitchen was. Normally, this family-owned and operated establishment features Thai and Laotian street eats reminiscent of the markets in Thailand and Laos. They use only high-quality ingredients from reputable sources and make your dishes fresh, as soon as you order. I am looking forward to returning to try more of these dishes as well.

This evening I was going to be spending the night at my mother’s house and thought what a great place to share these new creations. The first pizza we opened up was the crab rangoon pizza. Served with a side of sweet and sour sauce, it smelled divine. I love crab rangoons as does my beautiful Margie. This made choosing this offering out of the 5 you can select, a clear winner. I would describe this crust, which I am told is kneaded by hand, no machine here, as more of a flatbread crust. The dough itself seems to have a flavor all its own that is there in every bite. This may be due to the slow 24 hour fermenting period the dough is put through. Great flavor takes time. Now it is time to discuss the toppings Chef Bee Praseutsack put together. The presentation was an added bonus. The white of the cheese and crab were complimented nicely with some green onions and what I would guess was wonton strips. My concern was spreading the topping over the crust would take away from the intense flavor you get when biting into a crab rangoon. This fear was completely unfounded. The crust, although thin, held up remarkably well. There was no worry about the topping sliding off. Somehow, despite being flat on a crispy crust, once you wrap your taste buds around this delicacy, you would swear you were enjoying that wonderful Asian appetizer! Adding the sweet and sour sauce almost brought confusion to my brain. “This is a pizza and yet it is a rangoon.” I kept muttering after each bite. Lucky for me, all around the table knew of my questionable sanity and not much was made of my mumblings as I chewed.

Next up was the Steak Garpow pizza. Let it be known that on a Thai menu I am often drawn to garpow options. The first thing that jumped out at me, as I am sure it did to you, was the fact there was an egg in the middle of the pizza. I am not sure what transpires in the mind of Chef Bee, all I know is I seem to really enjoy it. This pizza featured all of the toppings of a garpow dish including basil, which I thought brought an exceptional brightness to the dish. The steak was packed with flavor and very tender. The dough on this pizza was different than the first. Still thin and crispy, it was a little thicker on the edge. I found it a perfect match for this pizza as it allowed you to have somewhere to hold on to as the aroma prompted you to quickly insert it in your mouth for tasting. We were not disappointed in the least! As one person described it, “It is like they took a terrific steak garpow and placed it on a light and crispy delicious plate!” truer words have never been spoken.

two delicious choices

As we all look forward to closing this year out and ringing in the new year, you owe it to yourself to take your taste buds on a year-end adventure. When a West Allis skate shop owner combines her made from scratch dough and sauces with the talents and fresh ingredients of a Chef who specializes in Thai and Laotian street eats, you know the result will be amazing. Below is a link to see the other 3 options and to place your order. They are only available until this Saturday, so order yours today. After that, I encourage you to stop into Transaction Skate Shop to find ways to work off your calories, or stop in at Sweet Basil Mke to explore their wonderful menu.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE ASIAN PIZZAS AND ORDER ONE OF YOUR OWN!

A VITAL COMMUNITY

Time is one thing that always moves on. In the photo above you see the intersection of the streets of 70th and Greenfield in the city of West Allis taken in the early 1900s. The Bank is still there. It is now BMO Harris, not First National. It also doesn’t look nearly as cool though. The building that says Schurs was for a moment a diner called Skelly’s that served delicious greasy breakfast. I recall walking in there and always smelling eggs and toast. The street lights also look a great deal different.

Some people may lament over the passing of time and the changes it creates. Not only is this a fools endeavor, as the only thing constant is change, but it robs us of a chance to focus on some of the positives. Yes, the bank looked far more impressive to me in the picture above than it does now, but it also has a little seating area it didn’t have before. I sure love little places that you can stop and get breakfast and would have loved to go to Skelly’s with Margie. What is there now is a nice place called Urban Joe’s. Not only do they serve wonderful breakfast and great coffee, they do so with a smile.

2 great local businesses

It certainly doesn’t do us harm to fondly remember the businesses of yesteryear, but let us celebrate and support the businesses of today. We may not have a Shur’s or Skelly’s anymore, but we do have plenty of other amazing businesses. We have Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli where you can explore the crazy possibilities of creating things with… you guessed it peanut butter and jelly! Trust me when I tell you that you will be in for some delicious surprises. There are also great gyms like Peak Physique where you can learn everything from kickboxing to yoga and so much more. Ricky, the owner, is passionate and knowledgeable about fitness and would love to help you.

Supporting local businesses is one way to have a vital and healthy community. What I think is even more important and constructive is to get to know and support your neighbors. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways in which to do this. True, we may never go back to the days of leaving our doors unlocked, but we can make our towns a lot friendlier and safer by connecting with those in our community.

Supporting local businesses and getting to know their owners like Mike from Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli and Ricky from Peak Physique is a good start. I suggest adding connecting with other neighbors through groups on social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor. You can also join local community groups. We have several in my city such as East Allis Association and Women’s Club of West Allis. There are countless others that all represent one possible fun way to get to meet and know your neighbors. Taking classes at your local recreation center is another great way to meet those who live near you. Even simply taking a walk through the neighborhood can introduce you to a host of new smiling faces.

Everyone wants a safe, strong and vital community. It is up to us to create it. Support local business, get to know your neighbors and join groups that make a difference. Be a part of the solution and you will feel better about the town you live in.

TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Most times in our household when the question comes up, “What do you want to do for dinner?” my quick answer is “Pizza!” To me, a bad pizza is still a better dinner than one without a pizza. My first choice, of course, would be to enjoy some of my lovely lady’s culinary creations, but if the question is asked, chances are we are going to go out. In most households, pizza, burgers or something similar is usually a quick answer.

This past Monday evening, after having put a new battery in my car, I was keen to try something different. In most towns there are plenty of wonderful independent restaurants that deserve your patronage. Especially during these tough times with the pandemic, I encourage everyone to support such places as you are able and feel comfortable doing. In our small town of West Allis, Margie and I love to frequent locally owned establishments. We stop for coffee and breakfast at Urban Joe’s Cafe and visit our wonderful friend Curtis. If we feel like a beer we head to Westallion Brewery, where our friend Kim can be found serving some of their wonderfully created in house beers.

This night we wanted to not only support a local business, but try something fun and unique. We decided to visit a local Peruvian restaurant called Chef Paz. We see on social media that the establishment as well as the owner is very involved in the community and we like to see that. When you walk in Chef Paz you will notice the cozy and quaint feel of the place. The decorations are fun and you do not have to wait to be greeted. On this night it happened to be quite cold and the gentleman working even turned on a small heater by our table to make it more comfortable for us. This made us feel valued. There was even a fun little sign on the table letting you know it had been cleaned. We felt it necessary to use it as a photo prop.

As food from the wonderful nation of Peru is not something we normally enjoy, we found the options and flavors wonderful. This isn’t one of my food reviews so I will not get into great detail about the dishes we chose, other than to say they were delicious. What I will tell you is that it was fun to take our taste buds on a little journey. It may be difficult to travel these days, but you can explore some of the culture of different places through their food. Trying new dishes and local places is a great way to add a little variety into your life. Here in West Allis, winter is setting in and it is the perfect time to find and explore new joys with the ones you care about.

Another great thing about giving your business to locally owned establishments is the pride and care they show when dealing with their customers. You could really tell Raul, the gentleman who helped us this evening, was dedicated to that goal. He explained the flavor of lots of the dishes and even made a few recommendations. To him, we were just not another table. To locally owned businesses you are guests and supporters. The service we received at Chef Paz was friendly and welcoming.

We ended our evening enjoying some delicious rice pudding for dessert. There are certainly more dishes we would love to try and will return again another evening. Leaving Chef Paz that evening, we felt good about supporting a wonderful local business. We also felt like, if for just a moment, we escaped the cold confines of West Allis and found ourselves in the city limits of Lima, Peru. I encourage you to explore local shops and restaurants in your community. They will appreciate your business during these trying times, and you will enjoy being treated like a valued customer.

3 PEOPLE, 3 LOCATIONS, 4 ADVENTURES

In the past, I have written a good deal about the walks in nature that I enjoy so much. It not only provides a good source of exercise, but stress relief, entertainment and spiritual fulfillment as well. In this post I would like to share with you the story of a few of these walks and the things I noticed they all had in common as well as what makes each on a unique adventure in its own right. I have noticed each walk contained four of the same elements. They each had people, places, exercise and conversation.

The first adventure in our story came on a Monday morning. There is a park that I drive past daily on my way to work. It is called Falk Park. It looks quite small from the side of the road. As with most natural areas I pass, there was a voice in my head saying “That looks like fun. I really should explore there.” I contacted my regular fellow explorer, who also happens to play the role of my mother. She wasn’t quite sold on the idea of exploring what could be a small park. Weeks went by and I kept driving past thinking the same thought. I eventually looked up the park on a map only to discover that there seemed to be a healthy bit of green behind that roadside entrance. I looked at a few photos and saw wooden bridges, creeks and a host of other interesting views. As I relayed this information to my traveling companion we decided to venture out that Monday, which is my off day from the Postal Service.

When it comes to walking with my mother, exercise is generally the main facet focused upon. We walk at a good clip not shying away from hills and valleys. This is good as it keeps us healthy and able to walk further. The sad part is that often we miss some things due to the speed. On this day it was a new place and we were both excited to walk. As we set out the scenery changed often from woods to prairie and back again. We discovered one trail ended up right behind an Ikea store. Soon, there was an unscheduled break for personal relief and refueling. Stopping by our local Valentine coffee shop, we were caffeinated and ready to explore some more. The conversation consisted mainly of observing all of the new scenes we were taking in. This included a stop and comparing of notes with a fellow hiker. Four and a half miles later we returned to the car having exhausted most of the trail possibilities.

The second walk happened the following day. I was joined by my good friend Nick. The journey again began at a coffee shop on the east side of Milwaukee. Regretfully, we were on a limited time frame because of Nick’s professional responsibilities. That was just fine as any time with a good friend is time well spent. We both grabbed a delicious beverage and began what was certainly a more leisurely stroll towards the shoreline of lake Michigan. As we walked the conversation consisted a great deal of ways of improving ourselves and the state of my next book. We strolled down to the lake and the turned and walked through the neighborhood surrounding it. Nick saw several people he knew and we exchanged pleasantries. The great thing about walking with Nick is the conversation is always positive and free flowing. I leave with a great deal of inspiration and ideas for writing. I do so hope he is as least half as blessed with the situation as I am.

Our third adventure took place the next day. I had such a good time with Nick, I decided to suggest the lake front for a walk with my mom. She was up for the stroll as she had just done ten miles the day before in a state park. I picked her up and we began our journey at the same coffee shop as Nick and I had. Carrying a full cup of coffee tended to slow our travel speed a little. As we began to walk the lake front we noticed people availing themselves to the brew pub and its refreshments. It was an unexpectedly warm day in early November and it appeared that everyone was trying to make the most of it. There seemed to be an aura of joy and easy-going nature in the air.

As we walked along the lakefront we took in visions of the downtown skyline, spoke with people walking dogs, noticed how many more people we enjoying this trail than the ones in the woods that we usually travel on. The pace was still brisk, but the conversation was plentiful. We talked about other places we have walked, the weather and were we should go next. There were brief strolls through areas covered by trees, but most of the time we found ourselves on paved paths shared by walkers, joggers and bicyclists alike. It was quite a different vibe than our walks in the woods, but still a very nice one. We walked along the shoreline for a little over two miles until it ended at the Milwaukee location of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We watched and marveled at the wonderful security measures in place outside the building and then turned around to make our way back.

The last of our adventures for this blog finds me joined by a very familiar companion – me. In other words, I was walking by myself. It was again an unseasonably warm day and I could not pass the opportunity to enjoy some time outside. Just about ten blocks from my house in West Allis Wisconsin, is a small park that has a very ‘neighborhood’ vibe to it. I decided that a quick walk around there is just what was needed. As I set out I started my health app to track my distance and pace to make sure I got a small amount of exercise out of this walk. It was indeed the slowest pace of all four walks. I have a tendency to stop and take in different scenes as well as explore different things just off the beaten path. On this day I discovered a wonderful painted rock that was places by a local rock-painting club that Margie and I belong to. Fittingly, it was painted with the word ‘Love’ as I was loving this stroll. (walk may have been a little bit ambitious on this day)

The conversation on this day was mostly internal sans a few greetings to passing neighbors. I noticed that while walking by myself I tend to be very introspective. I tend to be that way in general, but something about walking by myself in nature brings it out even more so. The idea for this very blog came about as I was overlooking the lagoon. As I continued on I was struck by how many of my community were enjoying the park on that afternoon. Then I recalled that living in a place where the weather can be described as nine months of winter and three months of very poor sledding, they were probably equally as excited to enjoy the day as I. The sun made every glance look like a scene from a jigsaw puzzle. I captured a few of the ones that I thought were the best and sent them to Margie who was busy at home.

The interesting point out of all of this is that you can do the same activity and have a completely different adventure. The people you share it with, the conversations you have and the places you go can make all of the difference. Even if they are completely different, they all serve their own purpose. You can get a good workout one day. You can stop and marvel at nature the next. Perhaps even ponder life and its great mysteries as you walk with a good friend. As for the conclusion of my last walk, I found myself a little disheveled, but very relaxed. If you happen to see me and any of my walking companions out on an adventure, feel free to say hello or even join us for a few paces. You might end up in my next blog post.

3 TALKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

As a professional speaker, the pandemic has really changed the way I do things. The seminars I usually hold several times a year have disappeared. The speaking engagements I have with groups and companies have either been postponed or moved to a virtual setting. Recently, I was offered a very unique speaking opportunity. My friend Katie, who is a teacher, asked if I would speak to 3 different 4th and 5th grade classes at Franklin Elementary school in West Allis Wisconsin where she teaches.

Being that I have a passion for inspiring people of every age I was quick to accept this generous offer. Shortly after saying “yes” my mind began to race with concerns. “Most adults take a while to understand some of the concepts I speak about. How will 4th and 5th graders understand?” My brain began to do its best to fill my mind with doubt. I shared my concerns with both Margie, the love of my life, and my mother. It was through discussions with both parties that I began to change my focus from how will I do this and what if I do not do well to the more important focus of what can I say to the children that will serve them the best?

It was with this focus I began to consider what I would like to discuss. Of course I was going to share the steps it takes to be a writer and how my book came together. Then I began to ask myself a very important question, “What would I have liked someone to tell me when I was that age?” The focus of the project they are working on is how to improve both their school and their community. I began to think of ways I consider best for helping to do both of those things. Then it occurred to me, my poem! As some of you may recall, this past year I had written a poem on how to have the best city you can. That poem won a city wide poetry contest and is now stamped in the sidewalk in 2 locations throughout the city.

The poem read as follows:

The true worth of great city is not defined by its buildings or how many have a steeple.

The true worth of a great city depends on the quality of its people.

Whether you are a child, a woman or a man,

if you want a great city, be the best person you can.

That is the idea that I wanted to convey to these wonderful and talented young people. Each one of them, just like each one of us has the ability to change their community. We can do so by being the best person we can. I wanted to empower the hearts and minds of the students to understand that each one of them was special and each one of them can make a big difference despite their small stature.

In our own communities it is so important to remind the young people what a big difference they can make. I applaud Katie, Amanda and Jordan, their teachers, for taking on such an important project. Teaching, and learning from, students on how we can make a better community is more important now than ever. Next post we will take a deeper look into my experience with the kids and much of what I told them, and what they taught me.

CAMINO OPENS NEW WEST ALLIS LOCATION!

Always on the lookout for new and fun places to try close to home, I was quite excited to hear that Camino had opened a new location just blocks away from my house. Their first location on south 2nd street has always received rave reviews and I was about to discover why.

What Margie and I discovered was a menu full of unique items, an interior that was airy and clean, food that was hot and delicious and service that was friendly and prompt. You can read my full review to hear about some of the exotic options available at this location as well as our dining experience. This was one of the most enjoyable reviews I have written for Chow Down in Milwaukee. I encourage you to click the link below and see what is in store for you in you treat yourself to a visit to Camino in down town West Allis.

CLICK HERE TO BE TRANSPORTED TO CAMINO WEST ALLIS

I’M RECOVERED… WELL ALMOST

Oh happy days! As you can see by this letter, today I am considered recovered from the coronavirus. Sadly for her, Margie still has a bit of time left before she is considered fully recovered, but she is relatively symptom free. I will be allowed to return to work on Thursday. I will keep all of you updated on how that goes. I was told employees might be a bit nervous around me. If you think about it, I am probably the safest employee there right now. Why? This leads to one of my first questions I have for the powers that be.

My first question even before I was fully recovered was, “Am I now immune to this virus?” According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (You know the guy on the news that sounds a lot like Mel Brooks to me) “You’re going to have some degree of durable immunity. It may not be 50 years, but it’s certainly going to be a matter of a few years.” He said this on the Doctor Mike YouTube show. Even if it is only 12 to 18 months like I first heard, I will take it. Still, I am going to abide by all of the social distancing and washing hands (which I hope we all did before this) and wiping down things with wipes just to be safe.

My second question revolved around donating blood to help critical patients. I heard if you have antibodies they can do that. I have not found anything definitive, but will continue to investigate. Along with sharing my story to help calm some of the fears, if I could donate antibodies to help critical patients, that would be awesome. If anyone knows of information in this regard, please do not hesitate to share.

Margie and I have also taken additional steps to upgrade our life for the future. We bought the new air purifier we have been searching online for 6 months for. It is running next to me as I write this. We are also invested in a new high-powered vacuum cleaner. I had ordered some cleaning supplies before I got sick and they are waiting at my work to be picked up as well. We also started drinking a lot of our wonderful herbal teas we have and began eating some healthy things. Even the not so healthy dishes are homemade by my lovely lady, the most beautiful chef I know.

As odd as this may sound to many, getting this virus has been a blessing to me in many ways. I was able to share my story and help others be a little less afraid as well as give hope to others who have tested positive. I also discovered, sadly, how little I am valued at my day job. That is a blessing because I am even more motivated to look for jobs as a full-time writer. Again, if you have any information in this category please share with me. I was able to meet (virtually) many new neighbors and received so many well-wishes I get chocked up just thinking about it. Most of all, I was able to spend some quality uninterrupted time with Margie. I have seen funny memes online about people getting ready to strangle their spouse (even saw one of Tommy Lee jumping off the roof) but our love is different in so many ways. We learned so much about each other and grew closer than we have in a long time. It was certainly no fun being sick, but I am grateful I made it through. I am grateful my symptoms were not worse. I am grateful to have such amazing friends and family to help us out and cheer us on. I am grateful I have such an amazing lady to be stuck with.