Man with a Garage by child grower Annita Woz

motorcycleridingfeetSitting on the floor near my computer desk is a blond haired little boy with long eyelashes. Legs folded, his two little feet crossed underneath him, his tongue is on alert at the corner of his mouth revealing a deep  level of concentration.

 His tiny toes curl and release with each squeeze of the scissors as he cuts the duct tape to attach the toilet paper roll to the packaging that he has pulled out of the trash.  He is creating a rocket and believes it will launch and take his plastic Spiderman on a great adventure. 

A good man in a big garage, with access to a lot of stuff,  has made the creator in this kid come to life.

Want to make a ramp for a scooter? Check out the scrap wood in the back corner behind the shelving unit that holds the bucket of nails Dad has collected with his metal detector.

Want to make a playhouse in the back yard on the top of those two dead tree trunks?  Go see if your dad wants to make the building plans with or without the windows he saved from the remodel in 2003.

Want to make light sabers out of the foam swimming noodles stored in the camper? Go get the electrical tape from the big box in Dad’s garage. 

You name it, this garage has got it.

I am sharing the shelf inventory because the contents are equally proportional to the number of times the garage pile has put grins on the faces of children.

He’s a rare breed,  a handyman with the precision of an engineer. He does things right or he doesn’t do them at all.  He knows enough about how things work that no construction crew would dare to try and cut corners on a project.  If he had the time, he could do most anything. 

I’ve seen him move a piano from a truckbed to a living room without help.

I’ve seen him cut down trees and drag the entire elm to the fire pit singlehandedly. 

I’ve seen him take a van with a crushed front bumper and drive it over to a stump and somehow pull the front end away from the engine.  

But it is the smallest projects that make the most impact.  

Our littlest sees a bike on a pile of junk on the side of the road and points to it saying, “Dad I need a new bike. You can fix that one up. It will be like recycling.” No shiny bike from the local shop was going to carry this boy.  For fifty cents he had a bike in the trunk that could be fixed up with parts from Dad’s workshop.

Together, they stopped for new tubes for the tires, a can of spray paint for the body,  two new pedals.  Later,  a few turns of a wrench to raise the seat and some powerful cranking on the handle bars with the tire locked firmly between the knees of Super Dad and the addition of a shiny new kickstand make the youngest junk rescuer say, “Suhweet!”

I gripe about the stuff in the garage, the endless pulling of things from my garbage can, the dragging of twisted metal and dusty cast-offs to the man-cave but I have to admit, with the right tools and a little imagination,  he can make them happen with sheer muscle and a daddy-sized desire to make his kids happy.

 He is a father.  He is a fixer. He is a man with a garage,  a big garage, where he makes all mechanical wishes come true.


for childgrower blog, by A. Woz.


Recipe Day- Mint Watermelon Salad- from child grower A. Woz.










How about a trip to Italy with Italian Food Artisans (805.963.7289)  

Take a culinary vacation in Italy, a food and wine lovers dream,  wine tasting, cooking classes, explore the Cinque Terre area via train or better, by walking.  

Great to imagine, yes?

But a wee bit unrealistic for this time in our lives, huh.

I’m settling for living vicariously thru this article in the August 2009 Cooking Light, where it describes winemaker dinners, cooking demonstrations, meals in private homes, herb harvesting, and culinary workshops.  I’m there!  Okay, in my head, I’m there.

So I have to settle for making a summer salad using some fresh herbs from my front step flowergarden where I planted some mint this spring.  Mint is grown everywhere, but originated in the Mediterranean and grows best where the soil is fertile and moist and yes -all the worries about it being invasive, and taking over as if it were a weed- are valid. 

I transplanted one small mint plant from my AeroGarden, a silver sunlamp growing kit with an irrigated water system that can be used to grow a few herbs indoors. The fake garden well lit by two bulbs has served as a source of imitation sunshine on those dreary overcast days of the last months of winter and has fooled many visitors into thinking that I had a window with a direct link to the Sun Goddess in the corner of my cooking area.

 The AeroGarden was a gift my children proudly gave me in December and though half of the plants we tried to growing hydroponically did not make it,  the strong stalks of mint thrived.

The one plug of seed that we transferred from indoor grower is now a very large patch of good smelling greenness.  I cannot resist growing it outdoors, knowing I can go out in my pajamas in the early morning hours and step my bare toes into the earth, and crouch down at eye level with several waving stems of fresh mint in the dawn of any new day.   

Before the children are stirring, before my grocery list starts forming itself inside my brain, before the news and the messages of the day invade my mind, I move to the flowerbed that surrounds my porch, and gather up a peace filled moment from the giving ground.  

I flick a beetle from the top of the plant, making sure that it lands feet down and scurries away and no worse for the launch, then I turn back to my task of  pinching off the tops and pulling random browned or bug bitten leaves and tossing them aside.  The few offending weeds that have dared to invade the bossy mint patch are plucked and tossed, root and all, over my shoulder,  like a bit of salt, discarded, but somehow bringing good luck.

I put my fingers around the lower section of the plant, count three leaf segments  up from the root and remove the top half of the arm of mint.  It still waves at me,  forgiving me for my abuse,  preparing to come back fuller and stronger since I have stripped these fragrant pieces from its growing limbs.

The smell on my fingertips is not of fresh ground coffee anymore, but has been changed now to a skippy menthol breeze lilting around my nose and the oils are making my palms turn pale green. The  handful of stolen greenery releases its grip on the stalk and gives up its leafy life. The only resistance it can make in this sacrifice for my salad is a waft of the familiar, this fresh scream of aroma from the torn mint leaves in my grasp,  a recognizeable bold and classic morning announcement,  proclaiming  that dawn has indeed arrived and is stealing back the day from the darkness.

As though I have been kneeling in a valley of wildflowers and plants, perhaps at the base of the terraced vineyards on a steep hillside in the northernmost village of Italy, I see myself gathering herbs into an apron and saying, “Ciao!” and “Ciao bella!” as though I am a native and from some happy family of wisened winemakers.   This transformation requires no flight to Milan, no landing near Pisa, no train trip to the Italian countryside.  The journey begins from just this small sprig of fresh torn mint, traveling on a  journey to a watermelon salad.  

Today, maybe for this entire summer, I feel content to remain in my pajamas, tiptoeing past pillows cradling the sleepy heads of my still silent children, content to invade my mint patch before creating a simple salad right here, in my Midwest kitchen. 

Mint Watermelon Salad

Seedless watermelon cut into cubes
1 pint of yellow or grape tomatoes halved
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 of a lime
1/4 c. feta cheese crumbles
15-20 fresh mint leaves, torn or chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
Combine watermelon and tomatoes, salt and olive oil.  Squeeze lime juice over the top, toss.  Add mint, feta and fresh ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Cooking Light, 2008.


 ### by Annita Woz for Child-Grower Blog July 28, 2009.

Carpool Queens by child grower Annita Woz

bigsandyfootsculptureFinal plan as of July 26th 7:54pm

It’s this kind of stuff that makes a mom’s head spin around on her shoulders.

Phone numbers are exchanged, traffic patterns analyzed, pick up times are negotiated.

It’s the coordination, the call to confirm, the last minute call to reconfirm, the sick kid in the mix, the mom who can’t quite leave on time and the necessary paperwork giving permission for another mom to drop off, pick up, administer scoldings as needed.

It might make the faint of heart think that parents should just stop signing kids up for stuff.

 But we don’t stop and that is good. Because the carpool is when parents get to really hear how the day was, how the friendships are going, who the mean kid is in the class.

The kids love the carpool. It’s good for kids, it’s good for parents.

The truth is,  these are the things that mothering is made of.  It’s what fathering is made of and it’s truly what growing up is made of– time with friends.

 We google maps, we wrestle with the GPS, we figure out the construction delays, get to know the shortcuts and master the route by the end of the week. It’s how it is when we decide to have kids  and when we are willing to give them our day.  It’s no wonder we need to go see Janeen at Janeen’s HQ  in Verona for another color job! (845.6264) 

Sheesh! Pencil in, erase, pen in, scratch out, repeat next week.

Lock in the coffee mug, turn up the tunes, enjoy the ride. 

The Dog Lovers Carpool Schedule follows: 

Monday- Annita drives both ways, taking Jaedyn,  picking up Izzy, Melissa (on Norwhich) and Christina (in Oregon on Lincoln St. )

Tuesday- Stina gets dropped off at Jaedyns.  Rebecca drives both ways including Jaedyn, Stina, Melissa and Izzy.

Weds- Annita drives all TO only-  Jaedyn, Izzy, Melissa, and Stina. Rebecca does the pick up of Jaedyn, Izzy, Melissa, Stina (drop off in Oregon at dance). Melissa may be optional as there is a cousin visiting and Kathy Biesman my be driving.

Thursday- Kathy driving both ways, all girls, Stina will be at Jaedyns in the AM and can be dropped off at Jaedyn’s PM.

Friday- Kathy driving there,  picking up Izzy, Jaedyn, Stina and taking Melissa. Theresa does the pick up taking Izzy, Melissa, Stina and Jaedyn. Melissa’s mom may go to the “graduation” at 2:15 so Melissa may or may not  need a ride home…

No worries. Everyone will get where they need to go when they neeed to get there.  All these moms are Carpool Queens.


The Rohrmans Move to Maryland by child grower Annita Woz
















Dear Rohrman Family,

We believe that good things happen to good people.

It is good that the kids are going to make more friends in a new state to add to the many they have here.

It is good that Jeff can be in a job doing what he loves to do, kicking goals that inspire some young player to do great things. It is good that Jeff doesn’t have to wear a suit but can work on sunny green fields, in full soccer gear.

It is good that Nancy has the opportunity to be a role model for other young girls as a teacher and as a trainer. It is good that Maryland has Nancy, and it will never be the same after her soccer cleats arrive and her smile fills their fields, their homes.

It is good that good people like you moved to Verona.

We didn’t know that we had been missing out all these years on true generosity, never understood what makes a good neighbor until your family arrived.

You have blessed us with your friendship, your children, your enthusiasm for a yard with soccer goals on each end and the simplicity of scrapbooking with adhesive stickers –torn in half of course.

It is good that we have friends in another state, friends that we treasure, friendships that we will not let go.

So we will use the empty white house on Westridge Parkway as a motivator, to fill that space in our hearts with time in your new home, your new town, your new world.

I refuse to say Goodbye. Hear me shouting, “ Hello Maryland! It’s All Good.”

-The Woz Family

### July 18, 2009

Letter to Editor by Annita Woz.

cable and power lines cuInspired by the current bookclub read for the Covergirls, Standing Up To The Madness by Amy Goodman and David Goodman, I am publishing here my final letter to the editor regarding the 345kv powerline proposed and approved for Dane County in June 2009. 

I orginally got into this battle in opposition to the siting process by working with Wisconsin Citizens for Responsible Energy, The Dane County Board of Supervisors, Save Our Unique Lands, Save the Badger Trail,  West Waubesa Preservation Coalition, Jablonski Law Offices and the Sierra Club.

During this process, the Wisconsin CRE group met many many individuals and organizations not listed here, but those people who make up these organizations, and their neighbors, supporters, friends and families are equally important and deserving of thanks for the hard work they did for people whose property and views carry the burden of these poles and lines, crisscrossing our lands, our great nation, so businesses and citizens can continue to take for granted the unsustainable amounts of electricity that we consume.   

Once upon a time, I believed that the placing of transmission poles, the building of substations, the endless stringing of lines would be affected by citizen input.

No amount of citizen input matters.

A referendum reflecting 76 percent of the voters in Dane County, where voters requested verification for the need for the line, was ignored by our Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

What was most offensive, was the city and the commission’s continuous call for citizen input at ATC open houses and at the Public Service Commission public hearings-   and the way our words were abused.  

It is my belief that anyone who wishes to oppose transmission line siting routes and processes for above or underground power lines, should not participate in the public process as it currently exists.  


This letter to the Editor w as Published in The Cap Times newspaper, Madison, WI and is reprinted here with thanks to the many great people and great ideas of those who taught me so much;  I am grateful for your education,  your stories,  your honesty.  

Annita Wozniak: ATC worked its PR magic — and won

Annita Wozniak
June 22, 2009
Dear Editor: Jacqueline Kelley’s letter to the editor about the puzzling lack of outcry over the state Public Service Commission’s placement of the enormous power lines along the Beltline is no mystery.

All commentary by citizens and local officials, and even the referendum requesting verification of the need for the line, was carefully recorded, analyzed and turned into a pro-American Transmission Co. ad campaign that citizens saw and heard on almost every channel and website in Dane County’s media market for the last two years.

ATC admits this PR method is part of a strategic plan that is put in place whenever a new line siting process begins.

Our local news channels hosted infomercials for ATC’s efforts as featured news pieces.

Our PSC and our local officials urged citizens to attend ATC open houses and register complaints in the name of participation in government.

Our own Department of Natural Resources gave ATC green tier status and took its money to promote conservation and environmental efforts; citizens ignored the irony.

ATC lawyer Lauren Azar left her job and took an appointment to the PSC, where, a year later, she voted in favor of approving ATC’s 345-kilovolt line.

All outcry, questions, objections and legal filings submitted at ATC open houses were reviewed, spun and regurgitated by ATC’s marketing department in an effort to reduce resistance to the lines.

And it worked.

ATC did not change how it does business; it just changed how it presented information about what it does.

Annita Wozniak

### blog posted July 6, 2009 by Annita Woz.


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