Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a SIgn...

A very busy Robin finds a worm...

Most of us associate seeing the Robin as our first sign of spring but when you live in the Coulee, Mother Nature gives you many other signs besides that first Robin sighting.

There are many. But there are new sounds in the air and sights up above and on the ground...

Sandhill Cranes return...
Bird song fills the air, the Phoebe, the call of the red winged black bird and the welcomed noise overhead as the sandhill cranes return.
Tundra swans stop to feed and rest in  the open Mississippi backwaters as they head back North.

And in the End of the Rainbow Valley the sound of the water running as the snow melts...

Don't forget to click on the photo. Our fifth season has begun. Mud season. Maybe we will get to see the Pasque flower this weekend... Stay tuned...

Friday, March 22, 2013


Speaking of Kosher especially trying to being strictly Kosher once a year has its limitations/ complications  if you live in the middle of nowhere. Passover is coming and I am far from ready... Monday is the first seder so there's oodles to do. Usually I am ready at least a week in advance and have already started beating the pans. How can it already be spring when it's still under 20 degrees?  How can I open the windows and air out the place/ clean windows for that matter?  Spring Cleaning? I am afraid it will have to be Winter Cleaning.

And Passover shopping?  Usually I make a trip to Milwaukee to do my Passover shopping but it just didn't work out this year.  It has been crazy with finishing up student teacher observations and just life. Natureman accompanied me to Rochester today to see 'what' we could find at Trader Joe's as far as Kosher meat for Passover.  And it looks like we are set. Here's one shelf in the fridge.

We eat far more meat this week just bc so much else is off limits/ it's Passover twin really doesn't do a great imitation. Actually the Kosher Passover products are improving. BUT sometimes it's just better to do without. Anything pasta like made for Passover can become literally like glue in a minute. It is not a pretty nor tasty result. Trust me on this.

I have to replace the taboo corn syrup in everything/yeast products with Pesadiche goods. Boy have the possibilities changed since even my Mother's day when she had to make everything from scratch.

I even have whole wheat matzo meal for making matzoh bagels. And with just once a year to eat them, they really do taste good.  I swear that they really smell heavenly baking. They probably taste better knowing they really look like that 'forbidden' bread.

My mother in law was the Queen of Passover desserts .  Of course I wasn't going to break it to her that half the ingredients she used weren't really for Passover.  Nowadays I don't spend time myself on desserts when I can just melt chocolate and pour it over a piece of matza/ buy the fruit slices, jellied candies with a coating of sugar. They would be the Jewish equivalent of Easter Peeps. Every child my generation would fight over their preferred flavor of those fruit slices. AND heck why make macaroons now when you can buy Chocolate Chocolate Chip macaroons? Heck maybe I am more ready than I thought...

Happy Passover from the End of the Rainbow Valley!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

If You're Happy and You Know it...

Yesterday an Iowa newspaper reporter called us to ask about 'on line' dating since that's how Natureman and I met. In our conversation she asked us about the advantages of this type of dating for people 'our ' age.  It brought back memories as neither of us had been in the dating world for some 30 years and there had been a gender and sexual revolution during that time.  I am sure she had 'no' clue how 'big' that was. Her interest was more on the line of why older people might/ might not choose to go on line to meet someone.  All I know is I never would have had the opportunity to meet a Jewish guy who lived in rural America had I not gone on JDate that's for sure...

My Happy Camper
Now it's been over 10 years since we met and I realize the most attractive thing about Natureman was/ is how happy this man is. I am not saying that he wasn't sad from having lost his wife of 30 years to Cancer.  Yet, I knew he was content with the lifestyle that he had chosen and how happy he is with his lot. I swear the man always has a smile on his face... Hey, I can be trying. :)

Anyhow it's a bit fortuitous this article also came my way yesterday along with that reporter's call.  I 'd have to say that these attributes do contribute to his happiness. So how many of these do you possess?

22 Things Happy People Do Differently

There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, smiling and content with their life. Happy people are happy because theymake themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.
The question is: how do they do that?
It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …
1. Don’t hold grudges.
Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.
2. Treat everyone with kindness.
Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.
3. See problems as challenges.
The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.
4. Express gratitude for what they already have.
There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.
5. Dream big.
People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.
7. Speak well of others.
Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.
8. Never make excuses.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.
9. Get absorbed into the present.
Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.
10. Wake up at the same time every morning.
Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.
11. Avoid social comparison.
Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.
12. Choose friends wisely.
Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.
13. Never seek approval from others.
Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.
14. Take the time to listen.
Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.
15. Nurture social relationships.
A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.
16. Meditate.
Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.
17. Eat well.
Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.
18. Exercise.
Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.
19. Live minimally.
Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.
20. Tell the truth.
Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.
21. Establish personal control.
Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.
22. Accept what cannot be changed.
Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

Guess I have a "FEW" to work on myself but I have a perfect place to do it right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley with a very happy guy who I met on line...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Our Netflix this evening was a wonderful National Geographic movie,' The First Grader,' the real life story of an 84 year old Kenyan Mau Mau veteran  who went to school when universal education was finally offered in his country. We and his first grade classmates learned history from this 15 year war prisoner who knew the importance of getting an education no matter how old you are. His motivation to be able to read was a letter he had received many years before.

Afterwards Natureman remarked that even though we are in the End of the Rainbow Valley, the world could still come to us thanks to the rural delivery of mail. (Did you know RFD stands for rural free delivery.) As talk goes, Saturday mail delivery rural routes may be eliminated and some of our small town post offices closed. That probably means a place like us with a population of 365 will not have a post office.

So I guess I should relish the delivery of Netflix while the mail service is still running. After a google search I now know that RFD that started in 1865 as a result of people writing their congressmen. Perhaps we should make our demands known and write our congressman so we can still have Netflix and be able to pick up our packages and buy stamps, etc... You don't have to be a First Grader to understand the importance of communication.

This is an interesting link of Reaching Rural America... Click on the following:
Reaching Rural America

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ice anyone?

OK Mother Nature has all of us fooled, even the girls. You see they have even started laying larger eggs. Nice young pullets fooled into thinking that the amount of sunlight indicates warmer weather is close.  Hence we are egg rich just in time for Passover when I go through at least 5 dozen eggs. The parsley will have to be bought at the store because I wasn't great at watering the herbs this winter. AND no watercress picked from the stream this year to don the seder plate as it is just too dang cold for it to grow.

Then as I had mentioned in FB our dog Romeo is starting to shed.  Even his fur coat knows it's time to get warmer. But hold on to your coat Romeo, winter is not done yet. Somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature. Look at that poor cold puppy dog. He's really glad to be inside. He was so anxious yesterday with the wind whipping around.

The poor birdies have cleaned out the suet supply and polished off the seed as soon as it's replenished as snow recovered whatever had melted. Here's a brief home video to let you fully understand what you are not missing out on if you are enjoying 70 and 80 degree days already... Hurry up Spring we are really tired of the cold here in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Love, Loss and What I Wore

This past weekend we were treated to an evening of laughs by none other than Nora Ephron (and her sister Delia's) work...  You know the humor through Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, Julie and Julia, Heartburn... Don't they just bring a smile to your face thinking about them?

Well every good story needs a vehicle and this one was 'clothing.'  How many of you had a favorite outfit that you will never forget for whatever reasons, good / bad?  I have a feeling women have more  attachments than most men to their clothing and that includes the accessories - shoes, purses, bras/ the like.

I wonder what pictures I'd draw of the clothing that took me through my lifetime as I grew up not in Manhattan as this play's main character but in Little Rock, Arkansas.  As women we share similar coming of age stories no matter where we live...

28 stories were written for 5 women to share although our Pump House stage was filled with more bodies of all ages sharing 'Love, Loss and What they Wore.'  The cast changes with each performance and the delivery is similar to Vagina Monologues with scripts serving as a crutch if the need arises.

Before the play started there was a fashion slide show and boy did those images evoke memories. Mini skirts, Madonna, Jackie O.  Remember Simplistic patterns?  My Mom was a Home Ec major and I think the kitchen was more her thing than sewing.  I remember  construction issues of whatever she made me. I think I made it through half a recess in the blue and red cotton jumper  before I had to call home for a change of clothes as the seams started coming undone before the game of 4 square was over. Boy was that embarrassing!

So many memories tied up with clothing... "While clothes may not make the woman, they often tell her story." Take a listen by clicking on the link below and if you have a chance- go see this play if it's playing nearby, you won't be sorry. I am still smiling... Thank you Nora, we will miss your wonderful humor and weaving of words but they will live on in the work you left behind. Ms Ephron passed away in June at the age of 71.

Love, Loss and What I Wore

Friday, March 8, 2013


Another thing I was able to partake in during my Little Rock visit was watching my niece play in a tennis tournament. The weather was so unusually cold for this time of time we were all bundled in blankets and extra layers of clothing. I guess the tournament was appropriately called the 'Polar Bear Classic. " NOW that's funny.

Who would know these two Texans are Minnesota transplants?
Luckily we had some sunshine and one of my friends had lent me long underwear because I was chilled. Okay I know I am supposed to be used to cold but I had been chilled all day as it is a different kind of cold and there was a wind.

Unfortunately my niece didn't win but she played much better on Sunday. I really admire how much time she puts into this sport. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of her serves. She hits hard. I am so proud of her sticktoitness!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

And the Surprises Keep on Coming...

This Monday am had the folks and myself heading to an appointment for my Mom at the Institute on Aging, a  beautiful newer building on the UAMS complex. What gorgeous art some benefactors  have contributed to the grounds and building's interior!

Two bronze statues grace their circle drive, the first is called 'Seated Lady' by R.C. Gorman and the other's 'Pueblo Flying Eagle' by Namingha. This contemporary Native American art is simply stunning.

Beautiful fabric banners hang from the high ceilings...

The problem with this appointment was that this visit was not cataract related.  In fact the good news is that the procedure did not worsen the vision in her legally blind eye and if my Mom hadn't been in such pain she might have even been able to enjoy her surroundings... Unbeknownst to she had a 'serious' infection.
You see on the day of the cataract surgery my Mom didn't want anything to stop the surgery even an infection that she neglected to share with the Doctor. When we returned home last Thursday after my surprise, she had shown me a puffy pink area in the groin area and I said it needed attention and we should go back to the hospital ER.  My Dad after recently experiencing a 6 hr ER visit with no answers insisted on waiting until the next morning to see if the area would be better /worse. By the time I arrived at the house the next morning, he had placed a call to her general practitioner for a referral to a Geriatric Gyne Doc.  Unfortunately,  Mom would have to wait for a Monday morning appointment 3 days later.

VERY wrong decision because by Monday she was having trouble walking and was in pain. The area had enlarged 5x and was beet red. Mom was admitted to the hospital straight from the clinic.  Thank goodness for the shuttle van who expediated her transportation to general admissions.

So now having spent 3 days  in the hospital she has been receiving IV antibiotics, fluids and pain meds and has 4 teams of consults to get her better. This is not a surprise anybody wants to have to experience.

The moral of the story if you need to go to the ER, GO. Don't wait.

Prayers are with you MOM for a speedy recovery...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More Surprises...

To help celebrate the boys' birthday we went to my Dad's favorite, the Chinese buffet.  You know the ones who have rows and rows of different kinds of food along with a sushi bar and mongolian bar b que.  Ah the times have changed as I can remember when lil' bro' put his hand through his bedroom window because he didn't want to eat a Chinese dinner I had prepared during my college days... I know I have mentioned that before. Anyhow nephew Matt shared his buffet attack strategy and the birthday boys seemed to take his advice.

 I can't resist sharing their desserts and best of all their birthday cards due to them being so special.

Since they did such a good job finishing their lunch, they earned their birthday desserts.  The eldest got the smiley face.  The youngest had grape mice adorning his plate. Then it was time for their presents but the cards were super special.

 Let's see if you enjoy them as much as we did. Both received the same card so neither would be jealous... We learned something that we didn't know before.

 It wasn't until they received their birthday cards that they found out their father was Afro-American. And that they are Afro American too. I must have secretly known it all along as my Dad, the artificial insemination specialist must have mixed up the test tubes...  We couldn't stop laughing. Who cares what  was in their packages, the cards were priceless.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Severe Pruning...

Once a tree...
Snow in December on Christmas Eve doesn't sound like a big deal if you're from up North but if you live South an ice/snow storm used to be unusual. 9 inches of wet heavy snow wreaked havoc on the city of Little Rock, Arkansas. Today signs of its destruction  2 months later is still apparent with destroyed trees and debris that still line the curbs with piles of broken tree limbs and brush. The city had forewarned that it might be at least 200 days before pickup might be possible. They weren't kidding.  No yard was left unscathed.  My parents beautiful camelia bush is no longer full as its 14 ft center  is now missing.

Companies has been subcontracted to pick up the debris and there are drop off places in parks if you have the means to haul your own mess. When I arrived on Thursday, my brother had a UHaul trailer filled with yard stuff even though trucks had come by once on his street. Since it was his birthday, I was a good sister and helped him unload the truck at the park drop off.

Mother Nature did a major pruning and it will be obvious for a while that she got a bit overzealous...

Monday, March 4, 2013


The original Brownings 
Since the family surprise had to remain a surprise until the day after my arrival,  forethought had me instigate a high school evening get together via Facebook at our Little Rock reunion spot of Browning's Mexican Restaurant.  Despite their remodelling, new menu, messing with already mediocre recipes, the wait staff can't seem to ever get everybody's orders straight/ in a timely manner.  I have to admit that we meet there purely for sentimental reasons. Don't you have a place that you always return to when you go home?

Besides chips and salsa being our favorite thing to order, it also used to be the 'Saltillo Plate' which consists of 2 cheese enchiladas, one beef taco, Spanish rice and refried beans. Now this plate has changed in spiciness and the velveeta like cheese sauce and now there's even a choice of rice and beans hence my choices of lime rice and black beans.

We were a small group with cancellations due to health, family demands/ work obligations.  Some of us went to elementary/ junior/ senior high school / all of the fore mentioned together.

Although a smaller group than usual, the round table was conducive to good conversation and sharing. And as life  has had its way with us we have had to live up to our  high school mascot of the 'Warrior'  in our own rights.  If you've lived almost 60 years loss/health issues have touched your life.

As we spoke of my upcoming shedding of the locks to raise money for St. Baldrick's Kids with Cancer,  ( you know I had to throw that in) it turns out  that 2/6 present have battled breast cancer themselves.

I am so glad that we had the evening together as the following days have left me vegging/ dosing on a couch after very full days. Although I must have brought the cold temps with me, it was warm in Browning's that night...

Friday, March 1, 2013



 I bet some of you are wondering what the big surprise was… Well I decided to surprise my family down South for a visit.  My Mom’s eye surgery had been moved up a month to Thursday, my brother was celebrating his 55th birthday that same day, his eldest would be home for Spring break SURPRISE for both of us... and my other brother was driving in from Dallas with his eldest son. 

Well Mother Nature decided to throw a little wrench in the plan with a snowstorm hitting Chicago cancelling about a1000 flights. The electronic email said my flight would be on time. OK they lied. When it did arrive, it had to be de-iced.  (Let me digress, did you know they now spray Mountain Dew- well it looked like it) AND then once we landed in Chicago, they had us taxiing on the tarmac 40 minutes and in O’Hare, the flight board status had the connecting flight ready to board. They lied again as no plane was at the gate. AND the next flight out was cancelled if I missed this.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out whether they lied about a later flight as a plane did arrive and we even arrived in Little Rock on time. Heck that rarely happens even in good weather.

Then it took the village to pull the surprise off.  Friends picked me up and even  housed me.  I was over at my brother’s house first thing in the am surprising  my niece who answered the door after my phone call to wish her Dad a Happy Bday and telling her a package was on the front porch.  Then as the birthday boy sprinted through the family room to fix her lunch, he did a double take at the couch. Yep, someone extra, ME was there to celebrate his birthday. Surprise.

Before he took my folks to the hospital, I was dropped off at my Sister in law’s office where I surprised her and later her Mom. 

And then the coup de grace as I surprised my Dad in the Post Op waiting room and then my Mom as she was rolled out...


 I have to admit the biggest surprise was on me because she didn’t even look like my Mother. The prednisone had more than doubled her face size distorting all her features since I had seen her in September. I would never have recognized her. I am so glad that she couldn’t see that moment in my face. SURPRISEs can come in all sizes... 
Feb 28 2012