Gaelic Storm


I have a sizeable autograph collection. So many that you’d think I’d be a pro at getting them in person without getting nervous or hysterical deafness. I guess just because of my naturally shy and quiet persona, whether I’m nervous or very calm, I just can’t seem to get it together when I’m standing in front of a famous person. So many things are running through my head and I can’t get them to connect to my mouth- and another opportunity is always lost.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to meet my 2nd favorite music group, Gaelic Storm. (yea 2nd….sorry guys, but no one goes in front of The Monkees). They were performing all weekend at Milwaukee’s Irish Fest. I look forward to this weekend all year. Milwaukee has a lot of popular and fun ethnic festivals along the shore of Lake Michigan during the summer that I enjoy, but there’s something about being around “your people” that makes it more fun.   I’m 49% Irish with 1% French from one side of my family and the other is 49% Polish, 0.5% Russian, and 0.5% German. I love to hear all the bagpipes and tapping and seeing my favorite color green, eating the stereotypical potatoes and stew, tossing Wellies down the yard and dressing like Leprechauns.   All that being said, it’s not what drew me to Gaelic Storm.

Several years ago, I had purchased a new MP3 player and their song Scalliwag was pre-loaded on to it as sample music. I liked the song and decided to investigate the band some more and I’ve been hooked ever since. Gaelic Storm is Patrick Murphy, Steve Twigger, Peter Purvis, Ryan Lacey and Kiana Weber.

Last year, they came out with a new CD called “The Boathouse.” All of the songs are arrangements of traditional songs, except Watery Grave, which was written by Steven Twigger.  Available for purchase at live concerts and on, this CD is part of their small batch sessions. The Boathouse was reportedly recorded in only a week in close to 14 hour sessions and was done in a makeshift studio on a friend’s boathouse in Maryland. Wonderful place for inspiration for this group of songs! Kiana writes more about the production of the CD here.  

I truly like all of Gaelic Storm’s albums with their comedic lyrics and energetic instrumentals, but so far the Boathouse CD is my favorite. I have an inclination to pick out the songs they have about boats and sailing and pirates as my favorites.  (I love being by the water, so much so I’m even a submarine tour guide.)  Scattered throughout the band’s CD catalog, you can find similar songs that feel like they would fit in to that old time seafaring genre such as, Devil Down Below, Lover’s Wreck, Turn This Ship Around, Whichever Way The Wind Blows, and the afore mentioned Scalliwag just to name a few.

I was inspired by The Boathouse CD insert to put together a collage in a frame to get autographed. I worked hard the past two weeks on coming up with the perfect design, knowing that I had a deadline of this Saturday. I used my nautical rubber stamp collection and distressing techniques to create pieces that would complement the mounted CD insert. I chose a grey wood frame that reminded me of an old rotting boat. Also working on a time crunch I had to figure out which photographs I had taken from the concert the night before that I would print in sepia tone and also integrate into the collage. Being that I was not very close to the stage last night I spent the entire concert trying to get at least one photo of each of the band members that wasn’t blurry. (Hard task to complete when everyone is jumping around next to you)

With barely an hour to spare, I completed the collage and headed off to Irish Fest to get it autographed. When it was my turn in line and was standing in front of them, I wanted to tell them some of what I have said here, but I was just too nervous. I couldn’t even tell Steve how I had sort of made this with him in mind and had hoped he would like it. I think they did. It’s one of my favorite autographs, and I will always treasure it.  

Here are some close-up photos of the finished, autographed frame.

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Revolutionary War Soldier in Wisconsin

I love to travel, but there’s no feeling better than coming home.  You know where everything is; no getting lost; a greater sense of pride.  Of all the places I’ve traveled to, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else but Milwaukee.  

Oddly enough, I didn’t know much about the history of my hometown until I took an elective course in college.  It wasn’t taught in my high school at all.  My professor had us reading selections out of several different books. (As a side note, this class changed the direction of my college career.  I finished my paralegal degree, but knew that I belonged in the realm of History and went on to pursue that)  It gave me the idea that I wanted to write my own textbook on the history of Wisconsin and introduce it into the school system as part of the mandatory curriculum.  

It’s a rather ambitious task that I always think about but don’t really act on.  

A view of downtown Milwaukee looking Northwest.
A view of downtown Milwaukee looking Northwest.

It’s no secret that I want noted local historian John Gurda’s job.  As the result of a charity auction, I was able to have lunch with him and a guest of my choice at Karl Ratzsch’s restaurant.  Gurda has written so many books on the history of Milwaukee.  I even have one autographed from when he was assisting former Mayor Frank P. Zeidler at a book signing.  I think he beat me to the idea of a textbook.  He probably wouldn’t refer to it that way, but the way his book The Making of Milwaukee set up, it reminds me of what I would picture being assigned in school. 

So since my book will probably never be published (let alone written), I’d like to tell you little tid-bits about my favorite local items here and on Milwaukee Mondays.  

This falls into the category of little known facts.

During the Revolutionary War era, Wisconsin was part of the Michigan territory.  We weren’t part of the major 13 colonies, but still owned by the British as the French Territory began beyond the Mississippi River.  British troops were sent our way in order to try and make friends and allies with the natives and fir traders.  No battles took place in Wisconsin. 

Yet we have, buried here, a Revolutionary War Soldier by the name of Nathan Hatch who was drummer boy that had three separate tours of duty for the Massachusetts regiment.  After the war, he married and moved west to Wisconsin where he purchased some land near Capital Drive.  He died at the age of 90, and he is buried in Oak Hills Cemetery in Brookfield.  The original stone is said to still be there with a flag pole next to his grave.  


All information was obtained through college lecture and historical markers and not any written source of which I can site.  

Having Fun! Wish You Were Here !

No matter what you call it, Pickin’, Junkin’, Flipping, Rummaging, Antiquing— whether it is to re-sell an item to make a profit or simply fulfill a missing piece that will finish a cherished collection…. It is popular these days!

Of course I love Frank and Mike the American Pickers!!  However, I remember in the early part of the century a TV show on PBS from the BBC called Bargain Hunt.  It was a favorite of mine.  A pairs of people would team up with expert antique dealers/auctioneers/appraisers and set out with approximately $200 (equivalent to Pounds) to buy items that they think are valuable.  Those items, good or bad, would go to auction and see if there were interested parties who would buy it for more.  It was a simple show, informative, and fun.  I wish it were still on.

Recently, on regular TV there was a mid season filler show, called Buried Treasure with the Keno twins who went house to house to determine if families possessions were worth anything.  The idea was that after sitting on ‘buried treasure’ for so many years without knowing it, the sale of these items (those willing to part with them) would bring in enough revenue to make a difference in the families’ lives. 

I like to go to Antique Stores looking for treasures of my own.  Some places you can see are just selling old stuff that don’t really qualify for antiques, but it’s still worth it for sentimental value.  Many times my sister and I have jumped up and down when we found an old toy or board game from our childhood that we just had to have again in our adulthood.

Mostly I go looking for old baseball items, gloves, masks, etc., but not cards because its too easy to be ripped off when purchasing those.  I like general and local history items, naval or military objects to name a few.

My fellow travelers know that I’ve become attracted to buying all kinds of postcards from vacation destinations.  A word to the wise; don’t throw my postcards away !!  You can sell them at a profit of minimum $3.00 in 90 years from now !!

I went to an Antique Dealer’s show this weekend at theWaukeshaExpoCenter.  The majority of the booths had items that were far more expensive then I had anticipated paying.  That shows my naiveté of the business.  I really wanted an old stuffed handmade horse, but that was going for over $300.  Of course those were the only places taking credit cards, while the rest wanted cash only.

Checking the first thing off my list, I found a 1907 Case Tractor pin with the Eagle sitting on the orb.  It was a handmade pin that may have been worn by employees.  Case tractors had been a favorite of my sister’s for a long time so I purchased the pin as a gift to her.  A pin, the size of a quarter, going for $30, sold to me at a $5 discount (perhaps out of pity as I turned my pockets inside out looking for money). 

Next I found a mini two foot painted tapestry depicting World War I trench fighting called “Over the Top for Freedom.”  My sister has doubts on the age, despite the paint being cracked.  I like it regardless.  See I’m the type that isn’t concerned with the value.

Then I came upon a booth with boxes of old postcards.  I wouldn’t have spent the time looking through them, but the owners had them arranged in categories.  Although I would have liked to see a lot more, I chose to browse theMilwaukeepostcards.  Some of the artwork on the postcards is in color or black and white or photographic reproductions.  I picked out 27 of them before I started getting to some duplicates.  Mostly I picked them up because it struck me as resembling a picture that I had taken for my own collection.  That sparked a new project for me.  Now I have to go through my photo collection and see if I do indeed have a photo that matches the postcard and then I could frame them side by side. 

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Dates range from 1907-1918 on the postmark over the stamps.  Some I bought that weren’t even used, which makes it hard to determine the age, but I liked the picture.  It’s surprising to see the way they were addressed- for instance, Mr. Fred Oestruch,Marshfield,Wisconsin.  No street or house number at all.  Some took it literally when it said ‘this side for address only’ and then wrote their messages all over the front of the picture. 

The script writing is sometimes hard to read.  The majority were written by women, but I have a few from men.  What a difference, short and sweet.  And some are just too funny not to share!

May 27, 1909 To Meta from Theresa  “Received your postcard and was surprised to hear from you.  Thought you skipped the country- you are a dandy alright.  Just wait til I get to see you.  I caught a fine cold that night waiting for you and then you didn’t show up at all.  I’ll get even with you some day.”

July 10, 1908 From Nellie toLydia- Chicago,IL“Dear friend, I did not mean to be hard on you and you mist not feel offended. I was only joking and thought you would take it that way.  I know you are busy and it takes a lot of time to write.  It is to hot today.

I like this card because the picture is of my University- the red brick buildings Holton, Johnston and Merrill.  So it makes me wonder if this Edna had also gone away to school.   February 11, 1910 To Mrs. Lee Wittenmore from Edna “Got here all right but am rather lonesome.  I have been bumming around all day and am all tired out tonight.  Hope you will answer this card.  With love.



St.Josephat’s Basilica is on the front side of this one.   To Ella from N.M.A. December 12, 1911 “Hello Ella.  Well I suppose you did not feel like going to Eddie’s place did you tired out so?  But still you came.  Ha ha how did you enjoy Arthur Nasty?  Answer will you?  I will close.  Your friend.

 From Chas to Walter, August 30, 1911 “Hello, How are you.  I am now in No.McGregor.  Will leave in half an hour.”

The front of this card is City Hall.  To Edna from Dorothy Chicago, IL Jan 29, 1912 “Dear Edna,  How are you all? we are all ok.  Leap year is great, alright don’t you think?  So are you sick?  Please answer my last letter.  It is cold here.  Hope you had a happy season.”