Wednesday, April 25, 2018


I hate to admit that it's been way too long since we've been able to attend La Crosse Soup. In fact it outgrew its initial out of doors meeting place and today we met at a new locale, a huge pavillion next to the Black River with at least 450 community members in attendance. 

Folks of all ages filled the picnic tables and some folks even brought their own seating. Tonight the $5 donation for soup was the same as was its ticket to vote for the day's community project pitches but the twist was three local food trucks donated 3 different yummy soups besides a percentage of their own individual menu sales. Both beer sale proceeds by Beer for Brigade and desserts by a local elementary school were also donated.  

Cilantro Lime Taco Bisque
Smoked Chicken Noodle

The yummy soups included Apothik's vegan and gluten free Sweet Potato Curry Bisque garnished with cilantro,  
Cloudy's -a Cilantro Lime Taco Bisque and Sweet Lou's  Smoked Chicken Noodle.

Pitch #1 was for Global Initiatives with cultural awareness being the goal by hosting community cultural events. Monies are needed for event space, advertising, etc. In the past University foreign exchange students and community members  help share their cultures with displays, music, handicrafts, dance, storytelling in addition to food sampling.

Pitch #2 was for additional funding for the Franciscan Sisters $8 Hygiene bags which contain products like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc individualized for women, men/children. The common good besides providing shelter, clothing and food is also allowing individuals to feel good about themselves by being clean.

Pitch # 3 was for SURJ which organizes white people for racial justice through community mobilization and education. After starting a book club and reading the book The New Jim Crow on incarceration, SURJ formed the SURJ Barrier Busters project  'to help people of color who have been incarcerated transition to educational and vocational opportunities' assisting Project Proven with providing funds for transportation, child care, class supplies, job clothes etc...

The event also included 3 surprises. Raffle prizes were awarded and we won a $100 value of 10 classes of indoor bike riding. Holy moly! 

After the presentations everybody dropped their Soup ticket for their favorite pitch into a designated bag. While the votes were being counted there was another surprise with a special announcement by two representatives from the La Crosse Community Foundation which awards grants. The Foundation is so impressed with La Crosse Soup's work and the 3 pitches that they would give $1000 to the pitch runner up. What a terrific gesture! 

Before announcing the people's choice and the runner up I also have to share another very special surprise moment to show how La Crosse Soup affects our community. Just because a pitch doesn't win doesn't mean it is forgotten  as Boy Scout Sam can attest. Sam shared with the crowd a story about his Mom showing him a video she had taken of a past La Crosse Soup pitch about the Coulee Council on Addiction needs for Recreational Activities equipment. It hadn't won that night but it touched Sam so much that he decided to raise funds for this endeavor for his Eagle Scout project. He sent out request letters for both monetary and item donations to local businesses. He even received monies from his grandfather's Rotary group. Thanks to Sam some of our community members lives are better including recreational items such as fishing poles and filled tackle boxes. Heart touching, right?

OK, I know you are waiting to know the People's Choice pitch.

Drum roll please....

SURJ came in first winning $3593 from the evening's donations and the Hygiene Bags coming in second for that $1000 donation. 

The truth is and I think you'd agree we are all winners with La Crosse Soup in our community. At a time when funding cuts abound we all need to be a little kinder, you too could have the same crowdfunding community program in your city/town!

* BTW We passed our raffle winning on to a young mother with 3 teen boys who was ecstatic to say the least to have those bike classes!

Monday, April 23, 2018


If Sunday at 60 degrees was any indication of the weather to come it'll be exceptional at 65 especially since last week it was in the 30's. Folks were out and about even running in shorts.

With 2 different venues for music it was a no brainer to pick the one that would be held out of doors. At least I thought that we 'd be listening to music next to the Mississippi in the beer garden of the Trempealeau Hotel. When we arrived there were cars but just a handful of folks outside. Maybe they thought folks wouldn't sit outside in 60 degree weather. The band had set up inside the dark bar area. One song inside was one too many on a beautiful sunshiny day for this gal.

So out we went on the deck to enjoy the sunshine despite not being able to hear any music. We were in for an education as there approaching Lock and Dam #6 was a tow boat pushing a total of 9 large containers downriver. 

First it came very close to land with the towboat straight behind it and then the towboat angled itself for a bit positioning for its entrance. Crew with life jackets moved to the front and rear of the barge near the large ropes.

This was a sight to behold as the tow boat maneuvered the barges into the Lock and Dam. How would the towboat fit his cargo into the lock? 

We watched in awe and then decided to drive over to watch the process up close from the observation area as the barge load fit with not much room to spare. 

We weren't alone as other motorists along with walkers and cyclists came to observe the event.

The towboat is behind the second of the three rows. 

I have gone through locks and dams in small watercraft and even on a canal barge sharing the space but how would this load fit?

'missed capturing the three rows well with the angle
What finesse the captain has to have directing the barges into the lock! Natureman told me the crew earns good money as their shifts tend to be a month at a time. Talk about a traveling job.

The ropes were tied. And the wait began as the water rose.   

It was so interesting to observe the dam area with fishermen on the down river side and the rushing waters on its opposite side.

Educational indeed as information boards showed the different types of Upper Mississippi barges.

 and the equipment on their towboats

 Who knew one outing intended for music could turn into a marine educational experience? Glad to have been barged in on! 

Friday, April 20, 2018


FOTO FRIDAY: Two white outs in one week is plenty not only for this Southerner but even the Midwesterners since it is mid April. 

It's only right to pay homage in photos to what this impressive 10 hour snowstorm  dumped on us with a little over 9" of the white stuff here in the End of the Rainbow ValleyI have to concur that it was perhaps also our most beautiful snow fall this year.

The snow was too heavy and the road bed too wet to be tractor plowed Thursday so we waited, watched and listened to it melting.

Followed by a 50 degree day this heavy snow melted quickly and although it will be a muddy mess for a while, it was great to not have to be anywhere else and just enjoy its memorable beauty right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley

Thursday, April 19, 2018


TBT: One of the joys of being a grandparent is being reminded of one's own offspring's milestones.  

'Back' scooting granddaughter Hannah hasn't quite gotten 'forward' on her scooting gears but made it up onto all fours last week. So, of course, I had to go search for her Mom Lori achieving that same feat. And would you believe it was at the same age exactly 35 years earlier? 

Do you see any resemblance?

Yep, a lot of things may have changed in child rearing but child development is the same. Wink,wink.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


It's been a week since Jacqueline, our oldest goat was found laying on the barn floor unable to stand up. Our yearling Zelda was by her side bleating a sad little bleat to let us know things were not OK with her grandmother. There was nothing we could do to help Jacqueline... At day break the next day when I walked into the barn to check on the two, there was the most endearing sight of Zelda cuddled next to a cold Jacqueline. 

Jacqueline had been a surrogate Mom to last year's twin kids, Zelda and Zoko as her own last kid had died of internal bleeding. Some goats like people aren't great parents as was the case of the twin's mother Mancha. Mancha would let the twins nurse but then she would push them brusquely away. It was Jacqueline who watched after them in the pasture. This past fall it was time to give Zoko, the male kid to a neighbor and Mancha went with him as she would not be bred again by us. Our goats are for milking, not meat. There's a reason, I name them if you catch my drift.

Natureman had dug a grave the previous day as two days of rain were expected followed by a winter storm of sleet and snow.  So Jacqueline's grave was awaiting her and she was buried. Little Zelda stood there bleating her little heart out. She wouldn't stop...

Timing wasn't the best as I was headed out for a girl's day in Milwaukee but before I left, Natureman and I discussed the possibility of going to the next Wednesday market and purchasing a pregnant goat to bring home as a companion for Zelda. I called that evening to check in and a 'chipper' Natureman answered the phone.
I was taken aback as I was told the news.  
New additions

Maybe you can guess. That very afternoon he had found an ad on Craigslist about a kid's 4 H project of an Alpine Saaunen doe whose neighbor's buck goat had jumped the fence.  Yep, now there was also a baby doe. The family didn't want 2 goats. So guess where they are living now?

left Zelda and Floppy with her Mama far right...
Zelda and the two are getting along famously.  In fact, Zelda now has a little sister to 'get her goat.' I just love happy endings, don't you?

Natureman has named the baby Floppy due to her ears. Any suggestions for the Mama ?

Thursday, April 12, 2018


TBT: Jacqueline will always have a special spot in my heart as she was the first kid goat I got to witness being borne once I moved to the End of the Rainbow Valley. Her namesake is after a special Milwaukee friend with whom I co-directed a Foreign Language program in Whitefish Bay. We had a special bond as we spent a lot of time together building a 5 year foreign language elementary language program. My school had Spanish and me as Profe and at her school she taught French and was Madame Jacque.  Being old enough to be her mother, she definitely saved me as she was tech savvy and knew how to plug in those state standards. And I was an honorary grandparent and got to see her son's first ultrasound. 

So it was only natural when the female baby kid was born to Louise, Natureman's Alpine milking goat, Jacqueline was added to the goat herd. She looked just like her Mother and also was a good mother and great milker providing Natureman his  morning coffee's milk for 13 years.  

Jacqueline and Fluffy the Cat were tight and where one was so was the other. When Fluffy passed away a couple of years ago, Jacqueline was unsettled until her kids distracted her.

I have attached one video after she gave birth to Blanco, another beautiful Alpine goat.  

"GETTING YOUR GOAT This apparently refers to an old English (Welsh?) belief that keeping a goat in the barn would have a calming effect on the cows, hence producing more milk. When one wanted to antagonize/terrorize one's enemy, you would abscond with their goat rendering their milk cows less- to non-productive. Comment from Angel: This explains the expression in modern America."
"The goat is a metaphor for your state of peacefulness. When your goat is with you, you are calm and collected."

Jacqueline lived a good, long life here in the End of the Rainbow Valley and as any pet, I will miss her. 
Bon voyage Jacqueline...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Visiting Brown University Assistant Professor of American and Ethnic Studies, Adrienne Keene, didn't mince words sharing her expertise  regarding U.S. popular culture's portrayal of Native Americans on UW-L's campus last week. Ms, Keene, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, continues the very same conversation and activism in her very successful and educational blog Native Appropriations

Born in California, it was a trip to an Urban Outfitter store out East where merchandise covered in Native American motif made a lasting impression on Keene of how Native American culture is being misappropriated.  

Dr. Keene provided us with numerous examples of misrepresentation in fashion, film, music, and other forms of pop culture. 

Her stereotype power point examples in fashion design illustrate ignorance and cultural insensitivity ie...wearing  t-shirts with a skull donning a headdress (?) Hey, it's not Mexico's Day of the Dead / a Lego clad Indian outfit with unknown mixed designs and facial paint/ college students inappropriate Halloween costumes nor Victoria Secret's disrespect of scantily dressed models in headdresses and...

left Native American, year later stolen design

even stolen designs without permission of the Native American artist nor 
cultural consultation of a totem pole's painting copied without regard to cultural connotation with a yellow crotch no less.
Infractions run rampant.

Sociologically Dr. Keene challenged us to think about how Native Americans are portrayed in movies/tv shows. Do we ever see Native Americans as they live nowadays?  Rarely.

Present day we can look at DAPL and don't need to wonder why white communities in the Dakotas are fearful and gun toting of the Native Americans who have gathered peacefully to protect the land from greedy polluters as once again the 'Savage' stereotype from movie theaters/ tv screens prevails.

Keene reminded us of history where the U.S. never kept one single treaty out of the hundreds of treaties signed with the original peoples of the land.  Not one. Indian children were sent away to boarding schools where they were punished for speaking their language and had to wear the clothing of their oppressors. They were stripped of their culture in order to "civilize." 

Over 560 tribes exist but we tend to group them all together and have the gall to sing "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land." I don't know if I'll ever be able to listen nor sing the folk song again without cringing and remembering unless we are Native American, we live on stolen land. 

Interesting enough, UW-L now starts each campus program with a statement and moment of silence recognizing we are sitting on Ho-Chunk land.  But we look at campus policy how many Native Americans students are enrolled and graduate?  In the Q& A one audience member asked, shouldn't all Native Americans have free tuition? 

While Keene's education is impressive with an undergrad of Culture, Communities and Education Studies at Stanford and research during her Harvard Ph.D., not many Native Americans have the opportunity to attend higher education. 

Dr. Keene reminded us to recognize traditions and who they belong to, the need to recruit and encourage retention of Native Americans on campus with mentorship. And as her statement below emphasizes,  "Representations matter."

Thank you for coming  to La Crosse and giving us a wakeup call Adrienne Keene.  I look forward to following your blog Native Appropriations.

*older youtube clip:Adrienne Keene