Mary Ellen Gabriel

One evening in early April, Perry Sandstrom was talking with a friend on his front step in the Briar Hill neighborhood when two great horned owls flew by, about 10 feet overhead. "It was amazing," he recalls. "If I hadn't been looking up, I'd never have seen them, because they are so silent when they fly." more

Jun 21, 2012 2:00 PM News


Larry Walker

For Courtland Maney, the idea was small, bright and persistent, like the morning sun through a chink in the blinds. "What would it be like to generate my own power?" During the 22 years he was living in Janesville and working construction, Maney's life was connected to the sun in a simple but vital way. If the sun shone, he worked. He can't really put his finger on when, exactly, he began to think of the sun as a big ball of ultra-dependable energy that comes up every morning and goes down again every night. more

Apr 19, 2012 2:00 PM News


"Lawn" is said to come from the Middle English word "laune", meaning a glade or clearing in the woods. In Tudor times, large swaths of grass, scythed by laborers, signaled a landowner's wealth. Over the centuries, a lush expanse of mowed grass became a symbol of tranquility and beauty. more

Apr 5, 2012 2:00 PM Isthmus Abode


The Farmers' Almanac promised a "wet, wild, very cold" winter for the upper Midwest. Instead, snowdrops appeared at Olbrich Gardens before the holidays. Daffodils emerged in late February. Where are we? Atlanta? Not quite. Try Chicago. According to the recently released USDA 2012 Hardiness Zone Map, Madison is no longer in Zone 4. We are now in Zone 5, along with Chicago. more

Apr 5, 2012 2:00 PM Isthmus Abode

A huge tub of cranberry-apple salsa, made from Wisconsin-grown fruit, glows ruby-red under fluorescent lights in the Mount Horeb Area Schools' production kitchen. Two hair-netted food service employees spoon the salsa into little cups, working fast because they still have 1,650 main meals to put together for Mount Horeb students in grades K-12. But even at 7:30 a.m., the two wear big smiles. more

Jan 12, 2012 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

The middle-schoolers gawk as cranes swing two enormous concrete tanks, bigger than school buses, into the ground at the site of the new Resilience Research Center on Badger Road. All the rain and snowmelt will be captured on-site and funneled to the hulking underground tanks, project director Kate Stalker explains to the kids. The water will then be used throughout the growing season to irrigate four acres of organic crops. more

Oct 20, 2011 2:00 PM News

Fact Number 3.14159 from the Random Access Memory of Edison Thomas: The loudest noise ever heard by human ears (in recorded history) was the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in Indonesia on Aug. 27, 1883. The sound was heard 3,000 miles away, and shock waves from the explosion circled the earth seven times. more

Apr 1, 2010 2:00 PM Isthmus Parents

Does your kid have a hobby? Do you know anyone's kid who has a hobby? Adults have hobbies. Kids used to have them, too. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that indicates there's at least a perception that the number of youngsters pursuing hobbies has declined. There seems to be a decrease in leisure time and an increase in TV-watching and videogame playing. more

Nov 6, 2009 3:00 PM Isthmus Parents

Sixteen-year-old Shalla Kujawa is a smallish girl who wears long flowered skirts and carries a canvas backpack scrawled with her own ink drawings. It's hard to picture her wearing waders and building a fish lunker. Yet that's how she spent a week last May, as a member of Madison's Shabazz City High School's "Project Green Teen." more

Apr 3, 2009 2:00 PM Isthmus Parents

There are moments when ordinary life in Madison feels suspiciously akin to a fantastic vacation. If you took a few days off work and took your fun straight up, you might find yourself more rejuvenated than if you drove or flew halfway across the country. One thing's for sure: You'd find yourself with a lot more cash in your wallet. more

May 22, 2008 2:01 PM Isthmus Summertimes

When I asked my boys, ages 7 and almost 9, to describe their experience at our garden plot, here's what they said: "Hot. Endless toil. Mouse-eaten cantaloupe. Backbreaking, sun-scorching labor. Tomatoes going black." more

Apr 4, 2008 2:01 PM Isthmus Parents

The toy-buying season is upon us, but there's a cloud over the joyful forays up and down the glutted aisles -- lead paint poisoning. more

Dec 6, 2007 9:33 PM Isthmus Parents

Satara carries organic cotton sheets, blankets, and other bed linens, in addition to 100% organic cotton-and-wool mattresses. more

Sep 24, 2007 8:45 PM Isthmus Abode

Your best bet is to buy solution-dyed area rugs made of organic materials like wool, cotton or jute. The processing is easier on the earth, and off-gassing isn't a problem. more

Sep 24, 2007 8:44 PM Isthmus Abode

Furniture made from landfilled doors makes the world a better place - and your living room truly unique. more

Sep 20, 2007 7:29 PM Isthmus Abode

I remember the first glimpse of movement in my son's hair. Mixed with my horror was an odd sense of discovery, as though I'd stumbled upon aliens disembarking from their saucer. So that's what they look like, I thought, recalling that part in To Kill a Mockingbird, when Scout's teacher recoils from a "cootie." more

Sep 7, 2007 3:13 PM Isthmus Parents

When bad things happen to drunk students, no doubt there are many who shiver and think: It could have been me. Who hasn't been so sloshed at bar time that the trip home was a little hazy? Who hasn't made at least one really stupid choice while drunk? more

Aug 31, 2007 3:00 PM Isthmus Cover Stories

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is full of such wonders, natural and manmade. Listed as Iowa's number one attraction by the state's Department of Tourism, the Smithsonian-affiliated museum aims to deepen your understanding of and appreciation for the river that shaped, and continues to influence, America's cultural and economic landscape. more

May 24, 2007 6:43 PM Isthmus Summertimes