Gardening – A Tool for Our Mental Toolbox – Clyde’s Garden Planner

Clyde’s Garden Planner. Spring planting guide. Hardly and all inclusive list of crops, but it covers all of the crops we wanted to plant except Sunflower.
…and on the flip side, Fall harvest planting guides.
Last and first frost dates for many locations in the USA and Canada. Our last frost is listed between April 30 and May 2nd, but all the “old Timers’ in the area say not until Memorial Day to be safe.

There are several keys or critical tips to growing a good garden. The key for beginning gardeners is to find the critical tips from ‘master’ gardeners. There are plenty of novices like us out there with advice that may of may not be good.

We watch many of the successful YouTube gardeners, take notes and attempt to implement as much as possible. A few of these tips are; Planning, Timing, Logging Progress (and failure), Soil Maintenance, Spacing, Vertical Gardening, Succession Planting, and Compatibility Planting.

While watching a popular Homestead channel we discovered a gardening tool to help plan the timing of our next garden. It’s called “Clyde’s Garden Planner” which is pictured above. We were able to order the planner for $6 online and it was delivered within a few days of placing the order.

As stated in our previous post, we fell victim to the most common new gardener fail: planting too soon…and too late… We put out our tomato plants before the last frost of the season. If we follow the average last frost in the chart above, we run the risk of a repeat performance.

The Spring chart illustrated in our third photo of this post in Clyde’s planner shows an average for several cities in the USA and Canada. Averages are nice, but all of the seasoned gardeners we’ve talked to in Wisconsin tells us not to choose Memorial Day as the definitive last frost date of the year..

However, there were also crops that we planted too late. Like cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, lettuce, spinach and radishes.

So…Memorial Day is the day I set as the last frost for this season and let Clyde help us plan accordingly.

The first photo of this posts is set for a final frost date of May 31. Note that there is a relatively small variety of plants on the planner. However, it covers all of the crops we plan to plant except Pole Beans and Sunflower.

Note too that there are abbreviations. Here’s how to read the planner:

si – Indoor Seeding Dates

LP – last outdoor planting dates

Red Line – Last Spring frost date, First Fall frost date

green check mark – harvest dates

In addition to these planning tools; there are companion plants for each crop listed in blue, spacing recommendation, and sun light needs for each crop.

Clyde’s Garden Planner takes care of timing, succession planting, sunlight needs, spacing and compatible plants. Soil maintenance and vertical gardening will need to be found from other sources.

We think this a great tool to put in our mental gardening tool box!

What’s next? Onions…from seed starting cells to Red Solo Cups!

Gardening: Planning 2022

Walla Walla Onions Thinned to one plant per cell. They will be transferred at least once to larger containers before being planted outside around April 12.

Planning has begun for year two of Operation Green Thumb. The operation has never really stopped; we have been growing micro greens and herbs inside all winter. It is now time to map out what the outdoor garden for 2022 will be and when tasks should be preformed.

The 2021 outdoor garden was in three raised garden beds near the backside of our garage and in several containers on the deck. Two beds were on the patio directly south of our garage and one along the fence line next to our neighbor Carol. We will need to move at least two beds to make room for a new deck going in this spring into summer.

The raised garden beds plus a plethora and wide variety of containers will be utilized as well.

We do not know for sure where the raised garden beds will be located this season, but we do know they will be located further south in the backyard or anywhere in the front yard for more hours of direct sunlight.

Last year’s companion planting can be improved upon and we need more flowering plants to attract pollinators. Plus, like most rookie gardeners we started some crops too early and some crops could’ve been started earlier in the season.

However…thanks to a handy tool called “Clyde’s Garden Planner” we have mapped out when each crop we are hoping to plant will be started from seed (if needed) inside, transferred to the outdoor garden, started from seed outside and when we can hope to harvest.

Here is the time frame that Clyde is recommending based upon an estimated last frost of May 26th and a first frost estimated at October 11th. Harvests will be on a different post.

February 6 – Started walla walla onions from seed indoors.

February 16 – Thinned walla walla onions to two per cell.

February 17 – Started red wethersfield onions from seed indoors.

February 24 – Chitted russet potatoes and stored in basement.

February 26 – Thinned the walla walla onions to 1 seedling per cell.

March 22 – Start cabbage and cauliflower from seed indoors.

April 12 – Transfer onion plants to Bed 3 outdoors.

April 19 – Start lettuce from seed outdoors. Start peas from seed outdoors. Start spinach from seed outdoors.

April 26 – Transfer cabbage and cauliflower outdoors. Start radishes and turnips from seed outdoors.

May 3 – Start pepper and tomatoes from seed indoors. Start beets and potatoes from seed outdoors.

May 17 – Start carrots and chard from seed outdoors.

May 24 – start watermelon from seed indoors.

May 31 – Start squash, cucumbers, beans and sweet corn from seed outdoors.

June 7 – Start pumpkins from seed indoors.

June 14 – Transfer watermelon outdoors.

June 21 – Transfer peppers and tomatoes outdoors.

July 12 – Succession Planting Begins: Start cucumbers, cabbage, cauliflower and winter squash from seed outside. Transfer pumpkins outside.

July 19 – Start peas and chard from seed outdoors.

July 26 – Start beets and and beans from seed outdoors.

August 9 – Start radishes and turnips from seed outdoors.

August 16 – Start spinach from seed outdoors.

Walla Walla onions thinned to 2 seedlings per cell.on February 16.
Seedlings shortly after germination. Grow lights are the only way to make good seedlings and keep the herbs healthy indoors.
Most of the herbs flourished under the grow lights all winter. We lost our cilantro and the basil to the far right which was started from cuttings is not looking good. Come on last frost!

Gardening – Preparing For 2022: First Up Onions From Seed

Walla Walla Onion seedlings started from seeds last Sunday February 6, 2022

After a winter of micro greens and herbs we turn our attention to getting ready for outdoor gardening.

Outdoor gardening in February?! In Wisconsin?! Are we crazy?!


While the soil in the garden beds will not be ready to work for several weeks, there are a few crops that can be started from seed inside.

Which crops? Onion, Kale, Lettuce, and Swiss Chard for a few. We will concentrate on onions. Walla Walla were started from seed last Sunday and peeked out from under the seed starting soil 6 days later. Thank you heating mat.

We have potato seedlings on order and will begin the chitting process next weekend. What is chitting? Wait for it. We will highlight the process in a future post.

After the “Big Game’ is over tonight, we will start a tray of Red Wetherfield Onions. All other cold loving crops will be planted directly in the garden beds when they thaw out. Carrots, Radishes, Beets, Peas, Spinach and Lettuce for us.

Most crops this year will go into the beds on or after Memorial Day weekend. That’s safe haven here in Zone 5A for crops that will fail if planted prior to final frost. Last year we set out the tomatoes and peppers too early. They may have been stunted.

However, we set out cold loving plant’s too late. Our cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and lettuce all suffered through a hotter than normal June. Our spinach and cauliflower bolted making them useless. Only one cabbage plant matured and it was tiny.

Lessons learned…we hope.

What other lessons were learned? We didn’t give plants the correct companions. Spacing was too tight for many crops. We didn’t thin out the carrots, onions and beets correctly.

Year two begins with more knowledge and the same determination to learn the craft of gardening. we will continue to research via the internet and YouTube. Wish us luck!

…and stay tuned!

Most of the herbs fared well this winter under the friendly warmth of these grow lights. Herbs from left to right: parsley, oregano, basil, mint, rosemary, and basil.
R Dub showing off our first batch of micro greens. While these were our first attempt at Micro Greens, we have fallen in love with Mung Beans in a soil free grow method.

Creative Shelving at Walmart: Are Disappearing Shelves Better Than Empty Shelves?

2 Rows of Shelving Removed from the Middle of Our Walmart Grocery Section. The good news? Plenty of toilet paper on the left!
However…there are empty shelves. This is the paper towel isle on the right and cleaning supplies on the left.

We are living in interesting, if not alarming times. Supply chains world wide have been disrupted. At any given time one isle or another is lean of inventory and has been since the middle of 2020. How are retailers dealing with the problem?

I’m offering some anecdotal observations from our last two or three trips to Walmart.

During our last few trips to Walmart we noticed that they were doing less spacing out to hide a lack of inventory. Why? They are now hiding the poor optics of low inventory by removing shelves completely.

A photo that we didn’t take was the Seasonal food isle which has seemingly disappeared. From September until January our Walmart seasonal isle was full of seasonal candies. Halloween goodies from September to the end of October, then Christmas goodies from November until early in January. Now? Completely empty. Why? Not sure, but we will keep an eye on it and report back.

So where are the Valentines Day goodies? Good question. In Point of Sale (POS) displays in the isles and end-caps of shelving. Basically hiding a lack of inventory by placing product in small spaces like POS displays and end-caps.

What I do not see is panic buying at our Walmart. You know, crammed full carts or multiple carts by couples or families filled to the brim. Oddly, I’m more likely to see overstuffed and multiple cart buying at ALDI who, at least in our town, does not seem to be experiencing the same empty shelves.

Gardening – Easy & Tasty Micro Green Mung Beans

Day 8 of 12 growing days. This is an easy and inexpensive way of supplying your own greens.

Operation Green Thumb continues despite the middle of a Wisconsin winter. This is an easy, inexpensive and healthy way to supply your own greens. Here’s my YouTube video of one of three ways we’re growing our own greens.

Cooking – Baked Buttery Garlicky Shrimp

Buttery, peppery, garlicky shrimp. Prefect as a snack or entree, and easy to make. The side dish are sauteed micro green pea shoots.
We said it is easy, correct? One lb of sliced butter layering the bottom of a cast iron skillet and cover completely with fresh cracked pepper. Layer de-veined uncooked and unpeeled shrimp over the butter, smear tablespoon of diced garlic over the shirmp, sprinkle with one teaspoon of smoked paprika. Top with another 1 lb of sliced butter, cover fully with more fresh cracked pepper. Bake At 450 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes. Pull and eat.

New years eve and football bowl season provides a plethora of party recipes. We found this one touted as a NYE snack. To be honest, it is a little messy for a party if served in the cast iron skillet used to cook it in. But, Beth and I thought this was a great entree to be served with our first harvest of micro-green pea shoots as a side dish.

There was plenty of the buttery juice left over. We saved it for the next day and made a meatless shrimp flavored linguini with the juice. It was fabulous!

Shrimp Ingredients:

1 pound De-veined, Unpeeled Raw Shrimp. We used13-15 count..

2 pounds salted butter, thinly slide

Cracked Pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

In a 10″ cast iron skillet, line thinly with shaved butter. Cover entire bottom of the skillet and cover the butter generously with cracked pepper.

Place entire 1 pound of shrimp over butter. Sprinkle on minced garlic and smoked paprika.

Top the shrimp with 1 pound of thinly sliced butter and cover butter with a generous amount of cracked pepper.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes. Pull and let rest for 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Pea Shoot Ingredients:

1 pound pea shoots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon avocado oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar

1 teaspoon Dark 18 year old Balsamic Oil

1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Cooking Instructions:

Heat avocado oil in Wok over medium high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add pea shoots and all other ingredients. Cook for 1 minute and pull.

Gardening – Micro Greens: Easy Peasy!

R Dub with our first attempt at Micro Green veggies. A great source of healthy food from seed to table in 2 weeks or less.

We loved being able to go to the garden in the and pluck tasty and healthy snacks out of the garden during outdoor harvest times last summer and fall. When the first killing frost arrived, that all ended…until January 1st.

Well, we couldn’t go out to the garden which is now a micro tundra, but we did start some indoor micro greens one week prior to Christmas that we began to harvest of New Years Day.

We do not have any photos from planting day. The following photos begin on day 2 when the seeds began to sprout and continue until to day 14 when 1/3 of the micro pea shoots are cut and converted into a tasty side dish for our evening meal.

What is not included in this post: 8 hours soaking the 4 oz each of mixed lettuce blend and pea seeds in water before sowing them. Pouring 2 cups of water in the bottom of the trays prior to adding organic seed starting soil into the trays. Soil filled trays withing 1/4″ of the top. Evenly distributing the soaked and rinse seeds across the top of the soil.

Finally the trays were covered with an empty tray until the seeds become established seedlings 3 to 4 days later. Why? To keep the seed in the dark until they germinate and to give the sprouts a little resistance while they are growing to simulate pushing up through soil.

R Dub is planning to produce a video of the next round from tray preparation to harvest for late January upload.

December 20. Day 2. THe seeds have begun to sprout.
Day 2 for the mixed lettuce blend.
Day 2 overhead view. There are quite a few of the seed that have yet to germinate. Watering for the seedlings is pulled from the 2 cups at the bottom of the trays for the first 3 to 4 days.
Peas on December 22, day 4. Closer to full germination and longer growth. Kept the
Lettuce blend on day 4. kept the upper tray on to promote stronger stems.
Day 4 overhead view. Better germination, but need better strength.
December 23. Day 5 Strong enough to be moved under the grow lights.
December 28, day 10. Some uneven growth in both trays. Watering one cup of water twice daily concentrating on the zones with slow growth.
January 1st, day 14. The peas are ready to harvest. The mixed greens can wait another day or two.
January 1, day 14. Beth is cutting pea shoots that have grow to 4″ to 5″ in length. We harvested 1/3 of the tray for an evening side dish.
We are hoping that these peas are cut and come again. Getting a month of tasty greens would be great.
Preparing to make a side dish of wilted greens. Garlic, salt, pepper,rice vinegar, balsamic vinaigrette, sesame oil and avocado oil.
COoking our greens in a tiny wok that Beth’s brother John gave us for Christmas this year!
From seed to plate in 2 weeks. Nice! What’s the entree? Sauteed shrimp from a Sam the Cooking Guy recipe. Next post for that recipe.
Mixed greens Sunday afternoon waiting for the Packers to kick off!

2021 – Year In Review Photos

Photo from “Man of a Certain Age” post.

January 2021

Ceremonies for the November 2020 grads were cancelled with the option to join the May 2021 grads during a June 2021 ceremony.
My grid down novel “Disturbance In The Force” begins to be written.
Cooking posts begin, inspired by Sam The Cooking Guy on YouTube.

February 2021

This YouTube video has been viewed over 1000 times. Most viewers were one time only and found it by FaceBook suggesting it.
Masks were a big debate in February. R Dub weighed in on the types available, how they work, and any 3rd party testing or certification for them all. This selfie taken during the summer of 2020 took place at Omaha’s Eppley Airport baggage claim waiting for Beth to fly in from San Francisco.

March 2020 – A busy BLOG month – We began to venture out more often.

Venturing out. The laughing Tap in Milwaukee to experience some stand-up comedy.
Venturing out. Johnson Sausage Shop to get fresh meats and sample some potent potables with owner Chris Johnson.
Inspired by our trip to Johnson Sausage and Sam The Cooking Guy: The most expensive Mac N Cheese we’ve ever made. Lobster chunks, bacon, 5 cheese sauce over rigatoni. Delicious!
The first of multiple posts warning that relying solely on shots to protect against the any virus is not the best practice. That was before Delta and Omicron. Omicron is consistently evading the shot and infecting fully immunized people. We are frequently amazed that all of the medical officials that do not educate people on the value of eating well, sleeping well and supplementing shots with vitamins and other supplements that promote immune system strengthening.
Our dog Buddy Girl died suddenly in March due to a burst mass.
We began Operation Green Thumb. An attempt to eat healthier and be more food independent via a vegetable garden. Seedlings were begun from seeds in March.
Through an invitation from our friend Tracy, we took a series of craft classes at Art On The Town in BD. The project continued until September.

April 2021

We produced the first live production with an on-site audience at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre’s Fine Art Center since the COVID19 lock downs. An evening of stand-up comedy. Featuring our Dana Ehrmann and two of her professional comedy friends.

May 2021

Seedlings begin to be transplanted into the raised garden beds.
The first Tuesday in May begins the water ski season for the Beaverland Mustski Water Ski Show Team. This is a file photo from R Dub’s library of water ski photos. 18 people all adorned in multiple layers of neoprene to keep warm in water that was mostly ice just 3 weeks earlier.
Fun run fund raiser for Huntington’s Disease. Beth, Allen, Helen and R Dub participated as extended family members of Team Guzi.
Allen in the foreground and hundreds of the thousands of participants in the background.
R Dub finished in less than spectacular time, but a finish is a finish.

June 2021

The first harvest from our garden. First in, first up and first out. Radishes!
Graduation is celebrated officially on campus at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska.
Immediately following graduation ceremonies, we are on a plane headed for a family vacation in Yellowstone National Park with mom. Mom’s first time on vacation in over a decade and first time on a plane in several decades.
Two birthdays were celebrated during vacation. Riane’s 24th and R Dub’s 60th.
It was difficult to choose the right picture to commemorate our Yellowstone vacation and if you follow this blog, you’ve already seen many. This photo was choreographed by Beth’s daughter Maddie and I think it says it all. It was staged just prior to all of us leaving for our flights home. The VRBO was full of hats, we each chose our own for the photo op!

July 2021

Harvesting continues. 1st Cut and come again lettuce and spinach. Carrots, peas and beans too.
Cherry tomatoes begin harvest in early July and continue to be quite fruitful until late September.
Our lone harvested cabbage. They needed to be planted earlier. Lesson learned.
Herbs began to enjoy the warmer weather. Most of the herb garden was successfully moved indoors for the winter.
Container potatoes which began in late March begin harvest in late July. We will plant many more potatoes in containers for 2022.
Late July began harvest for the Steak Sandwich tomatoes.
The cherry tomatoes were plucked and eaten while collecting. Why? Because they were SOOOO sweet! I’m guessing total harvest in excess of 500 each.

August 2021

Jalapeno poppers from garden fresh pepper. What a treat. Next year more jalapenos!
The 2021 Indmar Motors National Division 1 Show Ski Championship tournament. The Mustskis were loaded with many tiny tots who’d never been in competition. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Instead this team qualified for the National tournament at the Regional tournament at Lake Wazeecha in July and performed a near flawless show at Nationals. It was great to see them ski to the best of their abilities that day.
Smiles are important in show skiing. This is what it is supposed to look like.
Paid shows are a bonus. This one is at the Tiki Beach and Resort at the Kettle Moraine Lake near Campbellsport, WI.
August 28 sees R Dub in a wet suit and on water skis for the first time in over 3 years. No muscles were pulled…

September 2021

Craft lessons continue. Adding pigment to our pots, then to the kiln.
R Dub skiing in his first show, the Labor Day show. First time skiing in a show for three seasons.
Garden to plate continues. San Marzano tomatoes, cucumbers, Beaver Dam peppers, walla walla onions and basil all plucked from our back yard into this caprese salad.
The finished product from our craft lessons at Art On The Town.

October 2021

Late season pole beans. We will plant more beans in 2022 as well. They were easy to grow and very tasty.
The pole beans liked the west side of the house and the trellising we made for them.
The Eagles with Vince Gill in concert at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN Two bucket list items check off in one evening.
Back on stage for the first time in many years as the quirky waiter Stanley in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. Pictured here with salesman Willy Loman played by Paul McMillan. This was the first drama staged at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre’s Fine Art Center since the pandemic shutdowns.
The famous Painted Ladies of San Fransisco during our trip for medical continuing education and to see our daughters who live in the Bay Area of California.
R Dub and mom Janice decorating dad’s grave-site for Christmas. Beth is taking the photo and was instrumental in getting everything ready.

December 2021

Decorating the outside of the ranch was a team effort for Beth and R Dub.
Decorating the inside of the house for Christmas was equally a team project. Matching PJs optional, but fun.
Theater is a part of every year. We saw two Christmas related shows live this year and participated in a third. This one at the Kettle Moraine Playhouse in Slinger, “A Christmas Carol” at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee and R Dub played the lead role of George Bailey in BDACTs radio production of “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
R Dub with “It’s A Wonderful Life” Producer Diane Rabehl prior to a performance. Di and I have worked together in many productions as co-directors, director/producer, as director/performer and producer/performer. She’s a true friend to us.
Maddie and Beth mugging for the camera while taking a spin in Santa’s sleigh at Swan Park.
We love Ornaments to commemorate special occasions. This one is for our Jeep tour of SF with the girls.
Our one and only turkey of the year. Dry rubbed for 24 hours with course Kosher salt and baked to perfection on Christmas Eve day.
Christmas Eve service at Riverglen church in Waukesha. Great music and a great message.
The traditional Christmas puzzle. Pieced together by multiple generations. Beth’s mom Helen, Beth, my daughter Riane, Ri’s guy Michael, and less than 10 pieces by R Dub.
New Years Eve 2019 at Karen’s. Will New Years Eve 2021 be this jovial? Probably!

Cooking – Split Pea and Ham Soup: Bring On The Sub Zero Temps!

R Dub enjoying the fruits, er stew, of his labor while waiting for the Split Pea soup to cool off enough to store for future consumption…like Thursday night when Beth returns home from work!
The first test bowl. It was worth the two hour prep and cook time wait!

Wisconsin winters, cold and snowy. We like it, but sometimes we need a little assistance taking the chill off when we get inside the house. A piping hot bowl of soup always hits the spot on a cold Wisconsin winter day.

Temps are predicted to dip below zero the weekend of New Years. Perfect timing.

R Dubs mom Jan sent us home with a ham bone after Thanksgiving. It’s been in the freezer looking for an opportunity to be cooked for a month. Today is the day!

Today’s soup – Split Pea with Ham.


2 tbls Olive Oil

1 medium sized onion – chopped

2 medium leeks, pale green parts only – chopped

2 celery stalks – chopped

4 garlic cloves – chopped

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled – cut into small pieces

1 cup ham – chopped

1 ham bone

6 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

2 cups split peas

2 tbls Worcestershire sauce

Kosher Salt

Crack Pepper

Sour cream and croutons for serving (optional)

The prepared ingredients: ham on the bone, split peas, Yukon gold potatoes, onion, leeks, thyme, garlic, celery, kosher salt, crack pepper, and bay leaf.

Cooking instructions:

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions, leeks, celery, garlic season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally until veggies are soft.

Onion, leeks, celery and garlic cooking in olive oil until soft.

Add ham and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are just softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Diced ham from the bone.
Ham and potatoes added to the veggies.

Add ham bone, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and split peas. Add water to cover. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 90 to 120 minutes until peas are very soft and falling apart.

Peas, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and ham bone added.
Water just covering the ham bone.
Stock pot brought to a boil. Now reduce to a simmer and cook 90 to 120 minutes.
Ham has fallen off the bone. Time to fish out the bone, thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

Remove the ham bone, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Add Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed. (Ours didn’t need added seasoning!)

Ham bone, bay leaves and thyme sprigs removed.
Worcestershire sauce added, but not additional salt and pepper. Not needed at all.
Soup’s in the bowl waiting for R Dub to partake! I opted not to put croutons or sour cream in. It is awesome!

Christmas Wrap Up – A Wonderfully Busy December

From our Kay Drive rental during the Christmas of 2018, still one of our favorite Christmas photos.

Put a fork in it, Christmas 2021 is in the books.

I’m looking over our first significant (plow-able) snow of the season while typing this post. Writing, sipping on a cup of coffee and admiring our white backyard is a great way to recover after finding the driveway with the help of young Chris across the street. Snow removal on the deck will be tackled later.

My view of the backyard and deck and this post as it develops. Note there is not enough light out yet to turn off the Christmas lights on the deck.

Our calendar was, as always, full during the weeks and days leading up to and including Christmas. Beth and R Dub put up Christmas lights on the house a couple of weekends prior to December, however, for the sake of the neighbors and the electric bill they were not lit until December 2nd. The solar timer set to light them up from dusk to dawn.

The deck and backyard roof line got at least twice as many bulbs as the front of the house. Why? Because we see the deck more than we see the house from the curb. Completely self serving for R Dub and Beth!

On December 4, the tree is assembled, lit and decorated while wearing our new matching Christmas PJs! How old are we? None of your business! We’ve been living our second childhood since 2017, and it is wonderful!

Christmas tree assembly in matching PJs!
The finished product. Later in the day, the tree was moved to in front of a bay window on the other side of this room to make room for the Christmas train track and train.
Tree, train and nativity scene ready for the season!

December 4 was a double Christmas day. We are fans of live entertainment. Whether it be a national touring band, comedian or theatrical show or a community production, we love it. As most people who know us are aware; we participate in, are patrons of, and regular consumers of live productions at the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre’s Fine Arts Center.

We also, however, have become fond of a very small venue in Slinger, Wisconsin called The Kettle Moraine Playhouse. If you are not familiar with the venue, it is quite intimate between the performers and the audiences. 64 seats strong on two floors. Quite small. We typically buy tickets in the balcony, front row, right wing.

We bought tickets for the December 4, 2021 matinee performance of “Another Night Before Christmas” a musical with only two performers written by Sean Grennan and Leah Okimoto. It is a classic tale of one person who no longer believes and is turned around by stranger with a few timely miracles. Fun and inspiring. We loved it.

The final miraculous scene in “Another Night Before Christmas.”

On day 7 of our twelve days of Christmas series we highlighted R Dub’s role as George Bailey in the radio production of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” What was not chronicled was a side project from the same story. R Dub and co-actor in the show Amy Hopp who played the part of adult Mary (Hatch) Bailey joined forces on December 9th to record a video dramatic reading of “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the Juneau Public Library in Juneau, Wisconsin. The video is used for the children’s department.

Amy Hopp and R Dub taping a dramatic reading of “It’s A Wonderful Life”at the Juneau Public Library on December 9th.

December 10 marked the date that Ron’s daughter Riane and her guy Michael arrival in Wisconsin for an early Christmas with Michael’s family in Racine, then to our ranch in Beaver Dam and back to California’s Bay Area where they live via a flight out of Madison, WI.

Beth and I met up with the kids and Michael’s family for Mexican food in Racine on the evening of Saturday, December 11th, then we headed to Milwaukee late evening for a stay at the historic Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. Why? For a Sunday December 12 performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Pabst Theater. We also took advantage of the hotel’s proximity to the venue to do some Christmas shopping at the equally historic Milwaukee Public Market in the Third Ward and lunch at Beth’s favorite place Conejito’s Place on 5th and Virginia.

Post Milwaukee Public Market shopping micro brews street side at Cafe Benelux Broadway near the market.

The Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol” at the historic Pabst Theater. A great venue for a classic tale. R Dub wanted badly to take photos of the awesome revolving set, but thought better of it. If you’ve never seen it and live close to Milwaukee, this is a must see. Our seats were perfect. Row 4, center section main floor. It felt like we could reach out and touch the performers when they were down stage, plus several members of the cast entered the stage from the auditorium. Frequently running by us on the way to their entrances. We are so glad we went!

Our playbill, photo taken by R DUb, in his lap by his phone camera prior to the beginning of the matinee.

December 14, Riane and Michael travel to Beaver Dam to spend a day with R Dub. We exchanged gifts, ate at Benvenudo’s Italian Grill, took a stroll through BD’s Christmas light displays at Swan Park and finished the traditional Christmas jigsaw puzzle before turning in.

Riane’s gift of NAPA Valley wine and homemade treats!
Ri and Michael taking a spin in Santa’s sleigh.
Ri and Michael’s silhouette’s in the Shell at Swan Park.
Taking a selfie in Swan Park.
Busily solving the traditional Christmas jigsaw puzzle. R Dub contributed less than 10 pieces…
The finished product!

Due to a freak wind storm the evening of December 15, the kids flights were cancelled and rescheduled for December 16. The bonus, Beth got home that evening so the kids were able to see both Beth and the final dress rehearsal of “It’s A Wonderful Life” before heading to the Madison airport dark and early on Thursday December 16th.

December 17, 18 and 19. Live performances of an old time radio production of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

R Dub playing George Bailey flanked by Jay Wilkins playing Clarence Angel Second Class to your left and John Biel playing Nick the Bartender on your right. The show was simulcast broadcast on WBEV radio Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

December 21 is gift exchange and dinner at Benvenudo’s Italian Grill with my eldest Alyssa and her guy Trevor. The gift of clothing is received, some thermal boot socks and a nice pullover sweatshirt. Always needed and welcome headed into a cold and snowy Wisconsin winter.

Alyssa’s gift to dear old dad.

December 22. Madison comes to BD for an extended visit! Beth comes home this day for our long Christmas holiday time off. R Dub and Beth together 4 consecutive days and no work for the second time in as many weeks. Pretty rare.

Madison spends the evening with us to catch up. Thursday December 23 is a full day with Madison and an overnight stay. Breakfast at Edith’s Cafe and Catering for the final time before they close the doors for good after Christmas. Dinner at Benvenudo’s Italian Grill followed by a stroll through the Swan Park Christmas light displays. There is some familiarity and a theme here isn’t there?

Beth and Madison’s turn to drive Santa’s sleigh in Swan Park!
From Rudolph’s nose looking back to the sleigh!

The morning of December 24, Christmas Eve finds us in the kitchen making breakfast for Madison and us, plus a nice turkey, potato dumplings, glazed carrots and turkey gravy meal to enjoy and give as gifts this evening.

Turkey from a dry brine baked to perfection!
Potato dumplings from Helen’s recipe!
Carrots glazing with maple syrup! It took two batches to get all of our organic carrots glazed.

Christmas Eve candle light service was at a church that Beth’s brother John goes to. It is a nondenominational church called Riverglen Christian Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin. They have a campus in Pewaukee too. The praise band is the featured part of service with the lead pastor Ben Davis giving a sermon that featured the word Joy and why we as Christians rejoice the coming of the light of the world with the birth or Jesus.

Entering the sanctuary of Riverglen church is like entering an auditorium prior to a concert. The praise band was entering the stage in smokey blue lighting as we found a place to worship. They opened the show with For God and Country’s arrangement of “Little Drummer Boy” a striking and uplifting way to begin service for sure!

While the sermon was brilliant and uplifting, the whole praise band ‘show’ type atmosphere is one that R Dub has had trouble warming up to. A sign of my advancing age, perhaps? But I like the structure of a traditional service and a choir in the loft.

I think my main issue with the praise band is this; while they put the lyrics up on the megatron video displays (and usually turn the pages a little too slow) there is no score. You know, the musical notes. Praise bands are similar to lounge singers, they change the songs slightly and it is difficult to sing along plus you can’t hear the congregation sing due to the high volume of the band amplifiers. It takes away from true congregational involvement in the service. Most people stand and listen as opposed to what I prefer. An open hymnal and most of the flock singing along. Ok, I am getting too old…but that’s OK.

After service we went with John to a nice Japanese hibachi grill called Asiana in Pewaukee. We each had a different Thai entree. Fog was extremely thick on Christmas Eve night, call for Rudolph! We chose wisely to spend the night with brother John.

The fog lifted by morning, so back to BD we go! Gift exchange with Madison in the morning, listened to the rebroadcast of “It’s A Wonderful Life” on WBEV, an afternoon dinner with Madison’s father and extended family, watched the Packers beat the Browns…and a much needed rest. Woah. That’s a full day.

That’s a full month! Merry belated Christmas from Beth and R Dub everyone!

Most remnants of a heavy overnight snow are melted from the drive.
My view while finishing up the post. A clear of snow deck.