My first blog post

Hi, my name is Jennifer, but I use Rafini as my creative and online self. This blog is about self-acceptance.

joonHi, my name is Jennifer, but I created and use the brand name Rafini’s Voice to represent my creative and online self.  I am a writer, memoirist, photographer, and now I can add blogger to the list.  Oh, yeah.  And the image on the left is my cat, Joon.  I lost her last year when I had to remodel my bathroom, and there was a way for her to get outside through the missing floor.

This blog is about self-acceptance, something I’ve struggled with after years of living a life based on the inaccurate assumption presented to me as a child that self-denial provides unlimited potential and benefits.  Perhaps it was a lesson I was supposed to have learned quickly.  That the only benefit to self-denial is misunderstanding the pain associated with the behavior.  I failed to learn that lesson until recently – decades later.  Now that I’ve learned the lesson I am ready to act, which translates into learning how to use my voice and using it to its full potential.


Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls

Otherwise known as the Oakhill School for Wayward Girls, or the Oregon School for Wayward Girls.  This compound currently is used as a minimum security prison.

Interestingly, the compound is far enough away from the roadways that these historic buildings are not seen.  However, during the winter, with leafless trees all around, intense lighting can be seen all over the property.


Source: Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls

McCoy Farmhouse

An interesting way to preserve a house – declare the home a cemetery because a construction worker was killed and buried in the basement while the home was being built.  Not recommended, but interesting, all the same.

Another interesting aspect of this home – it lacks a wood frame.  Instead, the builders used three layers of brick for the outside walls.  Built before 1900, the home still stands today.  An excellent example of how to build a house.


Source: McCoy Farmhouse

On a General History of Fitchburg

To my surprise, Fitchburg has not always been Fitchburg, and Oregon has not always been Oregon.  In the early days of Wisconsin, Fitchburg was known as Greenfield, and Oregon was known as Rome, or Rome Corners.  Well, now I know why the roads named Rome and Rome Corners are there.  And Vroman.  I also now know why Stoner Prairie became a school name.

I find it interesting that two roads left Fitchburg for Janesville, and that a stagecoach road from Madison to Monroe still partially exists.  But I don’t understand why a road cutting through Fitchburg and Madison from Mineral Point to Milwaukee is now non-existent.  I’m sure it still has to be there, somewhere.  Even if only as a footpath from one persons house to their garage.

So glad Fitchburg fought to become a city, rather than being annexed by Madison.  Because the city of Fitchburg has a rich history all its own that deserves to be preserved.


Source: General History

Fitchburg Railroads

Growing up on an isthmus with multiple railroad lines crossing the nearby river creates an enormous impact when it comes to a fascination with trains.

I remember the house shaking whenever a train passed on the nearby tracks.  When we’d first moved into the house, I’d been afraid the house was falling down.

When I was growing up there were five sets of train tracks crossing the river on four bridges.  Today, there is only one.  The one double bridge only has one set of tracks, and the other three bridges have been converted into bike trails.

I no longer live on the isthmus, but still live close enough to a set of train tracks where I can hear the train whistle late at night, when everything else is quiet.  I miss the vibrations, but not the long wait for traffic to get back to normal.

Source: Fitchburg Railroads


For some reason or other I am discovering that I am fascinated by old and defunct, one-room schoolhouses.  Most likely because my mother went to one, in Fitchburg.

My mother’s school, Camp Badger, began as a one-room school but eventually was converted into a school with two to four classrooms and a library.  Then they added on a cafeteria/gym.  But, they still had to go outside to use the boys and girls’ outhouses.

I remember my mother taking my sister and I to see her school when I was still in elementary school.  It wasn’t easy to see, though.  Because it had been decorated as a haunted house for Halloween.

Source: Schools

Ray Kroc: The “Founder” of McDonalds

Did you know McDonald’s was originally founded in San Bernardino, California, in the 1950’s by two brothers?  Did you know Ray Kroc encouraged these brothers to franchise their restaurant, and then created The McDonald’s Corporation in order to disenfranchise these same two  brothers of their family business?

Did you also know Ray Kroc promised to pay these two brothers 1% of his profits, in perpetuity, on a handshake and then failed to pay up?  And, did you also know Ray Kroc eventually built a McDonald’s across the street from the original location,after telling the brothers they could no longer use their own name for their own restaurant, and forced the brothers out of business?

I don’t know how anyone can support this type of sleazebag business.  I, for one, cannot.  I will never again give any McDonald’s in the world my business.  I would rather starve to death.  As for the Ronald McDonald House, it should be turned over to a legitimate and caring charity to help those in need.

Source: Ray Kroc: The “Founder” of McDonalds

Memories: At the River

Whether things are always changing or still remain the same depends on what the actual subject is. For me, one of the things that remains the same from my childhood is this view of the river near downtown Madison. Peaceful, tranquil, empty, quiet, nothingness.

The short, wooden boardwalk is up against the riverbank next to a hill with railroad tracks, and the bordering shoreatheriver line is cement covered. Sometime before I became an adult, the dilapidated buildings that had stood between the cement and the trees either fell down or were torn down. Nothing else has changed.

On the other side of the river, where houses and businesses stand, a smooth blacktopped bike patnotrainh traces an old roadway. The railroad crossing and no train horn warning sign are the only remnants from when vehicular traffic was the expected norm in the neighborhood. Today more bike and foot traffic employ the scenery than any motorized vehicles did when I was young.

Maybe the transition was a good idea, after all.

Source: Memories: At the River