A Definite Article

iStock_000012148387XSmallI was sitting, stumped by the blank Word doc that glared at me from my computer screen. No inspiration was coming for this week’s article. Every time I would think of something to write, I would look a back at my log of recent articles and find that I had written about that topic already.

All of the writing gurus advise “write what you know”. Okay. I’ll start there. What do I know this week? Continue reading “A Definite Article”

My Father’s Voice

ConversationsOn August 16, 2014, the 63rd anniversary of his marriage to my mother, my daddy died. Mom and Dad are finally reunited, seven years after her passing. My dad’s death came relatively quickly after a diagnosis of metastasized cancer, but I did get to see him twice in August. I am thankful for the chance I had to hold his hand at the very end.

Throughout the years since my Mom’s death, Daddy had been writing stories of his childhood and youth on yellow legal pads and sending them to me. I had not read very many of them carefully, being caught up in the demands of my own family and career, but I did put them away for safe keeping. When he would find some piece of writing of his from his childhood, he would send it to me, and I have previously written an article about his 3rd-grade story, The Bird and the Dog, as well as some of the stories he told me about working in my Grandpa Arduengo’s bicycle shop in Tampa, FL.

But what strikes me this week, as it never has before, is his voice. As a child I remember exchanging letters and poems with my maternal grandmother. My mom was the parent who seemed to me to actively encourage my writing, and I always associated my interest in writing as something that I had inherited from her side of the family. However, in hindsight, my dad was the one who made sure I had stories to tell and time to tell them.

My Dad was the person who took me to the local airport where I would hang out listening to the story telling, recording things in my journal. He was the one who introduced me to true “characters” in life. My Dad and his father were the story tellers in my family. And, as I read the precious few original writings I have of my Dad’s—a few letters that he wrote to my mom, and the stories he recorded for me, I realize that it is his voice that echoes in mine.

For too many years, I discounted my dad’s writing because frankly I couldn’t overlook his spelling: it was atrocious. My elitism may have robbed me of a chance to revel in an amazing shared gift with my Dad. We bonded through our love of flying when I was a teenager, and when I was first truly exploring writing as a teen, I wrote about airplanes and the people who flew them. How much more could we have shared if I had listened more carefully to the stories of our family and helped him record them? What incredible treasures would I now have as I mourn the absence of him from my life—our phone calls to talk, our visits at Thanksgiving that I will so miss—because often he would tell me one little tidbit of his past that I did not know.

So, as I go back through those yellow legal pad pages and read, I will hear the echo of my Dad’s soft Southern voice, his gentle “darlin’” whispered through time and eternity to me. I will miss him dearly. And I will tell his story.

© 2014 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.



The Beauty of Routine

Calendar for today on white background. Isolated 3D imageJanuary and February have the onerous task of getting us back into routine. After the fun of choosing and making Halloween costumes and the gathering of family for Thanksgiving and the excitement of the Christmas Season, January comes in. We enter the period of no long weekends until Memorial Day (for most of us). Some people who have enough accrued vacation may get spring break, but they are the exception, not the rule. A few working at banks or government agencies might get a presidential holiday, but mostly it’s “shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone” until Memorial Day and the beginning of summer.

I’m a February baby, so at least I have a birthday to look forward to, but Continue reading “The Beauty of Routine”

They’re Back: Reprise to Things You Can Do That Don’t Involve Watching the NFL This Weekend

Updated 9/27/2012: So apparently the NFL got the message and got to talking. Or they planned to start negotiating this week anyway. Apparently there will be trained refs tonight, even before the deal is finalized. It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve fallen in love with the ideal of listening to the Packers game on the radio Sunday while exploring Wisconsin–think I’ll take my camera along. We have soccer practice on Thursday night, and I have plans to attend a talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the Wisconsin Science Festival on Sunday morning. So, I’m out of the habit of being hooked on the NFL, and I think that is a good thing.

I love my Packers. I’ll listen to news casts to see how they are doing as the season progresses and I’ll watch their games, but I think the NFL has blown it. They had a good thing going, but they acted without integrity, frankly, and that just doesn’t sit well with me. It’ll take some time before I become the football fan that I was. I’ve moved on. If you’ve moved on, check out the list below on alternatives to spending your entire Sunday watching NFL games.


Okay, I’ve tried to take the high road on this whole NFL and the replacement officials debacle. And frankly do agree in principle with what Herm Edwards said on Mike and Mike, “know your skill level”. The skill level of the refs is amateur (at best, IMO), and the players and coaches are the professionals on the field right now. So, the players and the coaches have to BE professionals. That said, football is an emotional sport, it’s hard to ask a player to be cool, calm and collected in the heat of the moment, especially since the NFL has let things get so horribly out of control.

That things are so horribly out of control is amazing, since the NFL as an organization has made player safety their mantle and their mantra over the last several years. At its best and most controlled, American football is a gladiator sport. As it was played this weekend, it’s, well, it’s losing fans like me who want to see clean play that relies on skill, aptitude and at least a little intelligence.

Now the only way to make the NFL honor its supposed commitment to safety and integrity is to hit it in the pocketbook (since they seem determined to be weasels). So, I am offering some alternatives to turning on the boob tube this weekend to watch NFL teams that you don’t really care about play their games.

  1. Those of us in Wisconsin who really want to support our AWESOME Green Bay Packers, tune your car radio (AM is best for this) for a nostalgic ride down some of Wisconsin’s Rustic Roads as you listen to the local commentators call the game. Support local radio and local advertisers and enjoy the color change that is under way in Wisconsin.
  2. Fall has arrived across the US. Take a bike ride along the many rails-to-trails bike paths that we have in the US. It’ll do wonders for your heart too!
  3. Go to a Pop Warner or local high school football game. Better yet volunteer to coach or referee the local youth soccer or football league. Meet your neighbors, cheer on the local kids. Get involved in your community.
  4. Catch some of the great baseball that is on. There are a couple of wildcard races that are hot, and the Tigers and White Sox are in a toe-to-toe battle to see who can lose that division first.
  5. Listen to a great American novel, and get sucked into one of the greatest life struggle stories of all time read by some amazing people: Melville’s Moby Dick a chapter a day.
  6. Spend time with the people you love. Go out for a walk around the neighborhood, or down the road to the ice cream shop. Or help your kids with their math homework. Or check out your local public library.

Who knows? You might even find new interest. Heck, you could even learn how to referee an NFL game!


The weather is beautiful. Crisp and clear. A good day for remembering. As I posted a September 11 memorial on our library blog, band rehearsal was just beginning. The melody of  Dona Nobis Pacem, Latin for “grant us peace,” seeped through the block walls. And I thought, “Yes, Lord, please, grant us peace. In our world. In our cities. In Chicago.”

The text of an anthem learned long ago came flooding back. Set by J. Paul Williams and Anna Laura Page, it is a paraphrase of Isaiah 11:6-9: Continue reading “Remembering”