Before that happened, this happened

peninsula playersweb

The best time to attend a Peninsula Players outdoor production is the last performance. But that makes offering a review a challenge, because who wants to read that they missed a chance to see a real gem?

For readers who live beyond the reach of Door County, Wisconsin, the Players are a professional theater troupe who produce four shows every summer in their renowned Theater in the Garden just south of Fish Creek, plus a fall production in the friendly confines of Door Community Auditorium.

The outdoor shows – which are actually staged inside a wonderful pavilion so rainouts are no longer an issue – usually take place at 8 p.m. (7:30 p.m. Sundays), but the last performance is a 4 p.m. matinee, which allows budding geezers like me to get home by sunset even though we live an hour away (my home county is a looong peninsula).

And so we attended the July 2 final performance of “The Actuary,” arriving an hour early so we could stroll through the garden, enjoy the view of the water, and watch other theater goers nurse their glass of wine or two before the show. Continue reading →


My 5 goals for 2017


One thing holding up my writing career is the obstacle course I must negotiate to get into my home office.

Exactly one year ago today, I pledged to deliver a trilogy of novels about a huge beast from the sea, with the first one due May 11. I was later forced by my wiser nature to walk that beast back to the sea whence it came. I wish I could say “I didn’t say May 11 of what year,” but you can see I plainly intended to deliver the whole trilogy by July 1, 2016.

Wiser men than I have spoken of SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and within a certain Time line. The goal of writing a novel by May 11, 2016, and two more by July 1 was clearly SMT but not so AR. Continue reading →

Not quite lost despite the flamingos


Norbert Blei was a curmudgeon and a poet, a man who grew up loving the hustle and bustle of Chicago but grew even more to love the quiet and solitude of Door County, a natural wonder a couple hundred miles north of that toddling town.

I blundered across a brilliant example of Blei’s love while randomly paging through Meditations On A Small Lake, a short book collecting some of his observations. Part of one piece is a letter to the editor called “The Pink Flamingo Syndrome,” which he wrote after the late Chan Harris sold his beloved family newspaper at the end of 1986. Continue reading →

The beauty of the southern Door peninsula


Red and I watched two dozen pelicans testing the wind currents the other day. As we watched from our lawn chairs in front of the garage, they rose higher and higher and farther and farther away, until they were white glints of sunlight that blinked as they flew in and out of our field of vision.

On a windy day like today, the crashing waves of Green Bay can be heard just beyond the trees. Of course, this is autumn, and so it won’t be very long until our water view returns. We can’t see the bay through the leaves from April to October.

Most people think of Green Bay as the smallest city in the National Football League and have no clue about the grand body of water that gives the community its name. In the 1991 movie Bingo, the story of a dog and a Green Bay Packers football player, the filmmakers used the massive metropolis of Pittsburgh with its mighty Pennsylvania mountains to stand in for Green Bay, the city. Not. Even. Close.

Green Bay, the city, grew at its southern shores. The bay extends 120 miles north, bounded on the west by Northeast Wisconsin and Upper Michigan and on the east by the Door Peninsula, a string of small islands known collectively as the Grand Traverse, and Michigan’s Garden Peninsula. Lake Michigan lies beyond.

So the land where we chose to settle is a narrow peninsula with Green Bay on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, and people come by the hundreds of thousands to see its remarkable vistas – especially from April to October. The quiet time approaches.

Most of those visitors rush past the “Welcome to Door County” sign and don’t believe they are really in Door County until they cross the Sturgeon Bay bridges into Northern Door. They don’t know what they are missing.

The wide open farm country and big skies of Southern Door and northern Kewaunee County are not unique to Wisconsin except in their context. Most of the big spaces in Wisconsin are not that close to big waters. The majesty of Lake Michigan and Green Bay makes the Door Peninsula a travel destination but also a magnificent place to live.

When I first started working here, I told people it never felt like I was commuting to work as much as going on vacation like so many other drivers around me. When we built our house here four years ago, moving in was moving home. The entire peninsula is a place to rest, recreate and recharge, and a home here is a personal rest station inside a comfort zone.

People come here to fly and test the wind currents, filling their souls with light so they can face what waits for them back in the real world. I haven’t seen most of this planet so I can’t personally vouch that it’s the most magical place on the planet, but it sure has enough magic to share.