Friday, August 30, 2013

Once is Enough...

                                          Enuf said.  Have a great Holiday Weekend!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Grand Lady... American Queen

Guess who came to town?  She arrived via the Mississippi coming from St. Louis and heading to the Twin Cities. She's majestic and her name is the American Queen. She hails from Memphis and arrived in La Crosse with friends who disembarked for a day of sight seeing in the Coulee Region, 147 of them.

You see American Queen is a luxurious floating hotel transporting passengers on one of our largest waterways via a not so new mode of transport, the paddleboat of yesteryear.

Some of our city's Historical Society women were on hand to greet and meet the passengers dressed in time appropriate attire regardless of the high humidity and temp that that the Southern Lady must have brought with her.

This type of travel doesn't come cheap as an inside stateroom starts at $1,000 and prices continue up to $3,000.

Daily lectures are given by a Riverlorian on board, complimentary shore excursions at each stop. A Southen Chef's cuisine is served along with beverages throughout the passenger's voyage in  a country club casual ambience in a dining room with  20 ft ceilings and revue entertainment in an opulent theatre.

If you want to see your country, I think this would be a great way to enjoy the River towns and I for one am glad that La Crosse is one of their stops and graced our Riverside Park!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



This is the view from the kitchen windows again this morning.

  Temperature differences collide between the inside and outside...

Either that or we have a lot of hot air here in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

These are the days when one is very thankful for the invention of air conditioning and that it is on and working.  Testy doesn't begin to explain how unhappy this camper is being hot. Poor Natureman.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Seeing RED?

Weather has been affecting how the garden is producing and specifically the tomatoes. We have been cucumber rich but  do you know what you need to have ripened tomatoes?


And recently we finally got some summer heat. In fact look at today's temperature. Uh huh, that's right  102 degrees Fahrenheit without that heat index.  Now those green tomatoes have turned red. Lots of red tomatoes!

We are talking 21 qts of tomatoes which cooked down to 15 quarts.

Next  project this week will be spaghetti sauce... Not bad for this summer's first tomato canning right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Watercolor Sunsets and More...

Sunday was a hot day to bring an end to the 38th Great River Folk Festival but when there's so much talent to be enjoyed, you just search out the shade and hope for an occasional breeze. We were blessed with all the above...

Recent years's attendance has been decreasing but the talent hasn't. Folk music is such a broad genre that there is music for everyone. Old and young.

This year's songwriter contest was won by a local high school senior no less from Galesville Ettrick Trumpeleau. Amazing new talent.

And the last concert was someone not new on the music scene  Claudia Schmidt. Her 40 years on stage didn't disappoint her fans as she performed poetry, Martin Luther King, old and new lyrics sometimes a capella / accompanied by the guitar / dulcimer.

Ultrasonic Duo

Harmonious Wail
Take a listen to Barbara Jean

 Great music... via guitars, violas, dulcimers and of course voices... Here are some snippets. Click on the arrows.

Barbara Jean hails from Minnesota originally and sneaks bathroom breaks during boring meetings to record her music.
Willy Porter has a Leon Kottke style  and Barbara Jean accompanies him on Watercolor Sunsets...

Claudia Schmidt shares  many moons with us...

I know I will be purchasing Claudia's new album Evidence of Happiness.  The lead song definitely spoke to me since we are the same vintage.  Don't think the sound came through so you will to take my word for it that these folks love to perform.

What a full day of wonderful music!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Adiós Pantalones

Living in the country the cycle of life is in your face all the time. The joy of birth and the sadness of losing an animal before its time.  Pantalones, daughter of  Jacqueline and mother of Peanut is not going to make it. As much as we tried to relieve Pantalones's discomfort, we were not successful.



            We all will miss her and hope melancholia doesn't take her little Peanut.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Down a Lazy River

It was no shock to me that Natureman would choose a bike ride for his birthday day activity.  And it was going to be a hot humid day but what can you do? It was his birthday.  We got a late start after a birthday breakfast and animal chores and...

Lo and behold a flat tire, luckily discovered before we left.  Natureman thought Fix a Flat would do the trick but it turned out both the tire and inner tube needed replacing. The bike shop in town had us on our way in no time 'flat.'  Hardy har har.

Destination: Lanesboro, MN, one of our favorite quaint spots to go canoeing/cycling.  But not only was one section of road being resurfaced but so was the bike trail.  Wisconsin has for the most part crushed limestone bike paths and you have to purchase day passes but Minnesota's bike trails are free and asphalted...

We had to start our ride closer to our destination  (not a problem on an extremely humid summer day) Another positive : there's a pie shop that we have  wanted to try but seems to always be closed AND unfortunately Wednesday was no exception as it is only open on Thursdays-Mondays. GRR... I really had my teeth set on pie.

The trail's town sign caught my eye as it is the smallest town on the bike route and came by its name honestly as the Home of the Stand Still Parade. That's tiny.

The newly asphalted path was smooth sailing alongside the Root River as was crossing newly refurbished bridges.

 It's always fun to wave to those floating below.

Most people were probably awaiting cooler weather to arrive in the next 24 hours to be outside so we didn't pass many cyclists en route.

In Lanesboro we lunched at a cute little restaurant called the Riverside, coincidentally nestled next to the bike bridge under large branches of surrounding trees.

We had worked up an appetite and we had extra entertainment watching some Amish youngsters some 50 yards away fishing.
We were blessed with overcast skies and a bit of air flow on the return journey. Why does the return trip always seem to go quicker?

The Birthday Boy who is covered as of today by Medicare... 
Natureman was happy to get his Birthday ride and enjoy a light dinner and quiet evening at home in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Days of Chrome and Roses

Sunday was another drop dead gorgeous day to be outside and admire  some 300+ cars and some motorcycles too at Holmen/ Kornfest's annual car show. 

I finally figured out what is missing on today's automobiles after and that's chrome . Fiberglass just can't replace all that shine and design.

Can you see us in the reflection? 

Some models were  originals while others were were rebuilt AND they were all clean as a whistle.

Cars were grouped in categories as to make.    Convertibles were together. And it was ingeneous to see how those lids could be opened and stored.

A crew of judges went around had the difficult job of evaluating all these entrants and it was the Mustang that received the most trophies.

Add caption
It was my date who pointed out all the trimmings and upholstered interiors, dashboards, steering wheels and  sleek lines. Some models barely had any miles on them.

Especially this one even though he was here starting his celebration of his 65th birthday.  Natureman is the one who
who takes all the awards...
How else would I have ended up in the End of the Rainbow Valley?


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Don't be disappointed this is not about the car show from KornFest although this entry still had to do with corn.

Nature called as one of our milking goats, Pantalones, was down and I mean down from eating like a pig.  Well, she is a goat.  Pantalones had eaten way too many corn cobs/ husks and was in pain. Bloated but looking like she was having contractions. To be honest we have all had that over eating feeling...

After  googling possible remedies, who knew which would work as I have very little experience with doctoring goats. The first challenge was to get her up and walking. This is not an easy chore as she didn't want to budge off the ground.  OK so if she wouldn't move, I could start the suggested massage.  Loud gurgling noises rumbled in her tummy,  readying me for something major to happen if you catch my drift and I wasn't sure where to stand... Thank goodness we don't have larger animals like cows.

She started to shift as she hobbled onto her front haunches and stood up with her rear legs and munched pitifully on the grass. At least it was easier to continue the massaging.  After 20 minutes she could walk around a bit as attempts were made to head her out of the sun into the shade. It took more than a couple of tries as she would collapse back on the ground.

Natureman upon his return home gave her condition a name called Scours (translated diarrhea) which necessitates rehydrating with electrolytes. The recipe on the web suggested a concoction of  warm water, light corn syrup,  pectin (the kind used to make jello), baking soda and salt. 

The other goats have been very nurturing. Her Mom Jacqueline has been trying to nudge her along, her Baby Peanut lying next to her as well as one of the other kids. Everybody knew she wasn't feeling well. 

Let's hope Pantalones is back to her old self soon.  Fluffy the cat would not be the only one to really miss her...

You know when I opted to live out here in the End of the Rainbow Valley  I never thought I'd be massaging a goat's tummy as part of my day but I am sure none of you thought I would be either...

Monday, August 19, 2013


 Holmen started celebrating KornFest  50 years ago when a cannery would donate free corn to celebrate the corn harvest. Well today even the cannery is long gone, thousands of ears of corn are charcoal grilled for KornFest but it is sold for $1/ear. Still a great bargain considering the buttered that is lathered upon it...

One holds the hot corn by the husk and if you choose, it is butter brushed / you can also stop off at a salt station.

We visited the corn station two days in a row this year.  Once we had to wait in line but today we beat the rush and there was no line.

Here Natureman shows you how a pro does it. I personally think it's good enough without the salt but I have to admit I didn't get a chance to try it without the butter...

If you look at the sidewalk pic on the right, do you see those spots? Those are not water spots but extra butter from those cobs. People love their butter.

The challenge is to find a spot in the shade and chow down...

Nothing beats fresh grilled corn unless it's corn from the End of the Rainbow Valley garden/ or if it's locally homebaked pies. I had raspberry and Natureman had blueberry . Yum...
I love small town celebrations and that includes KornFest!

Until next summer...
and to 50 more years of Holmen's

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lost in the Jungle

By August we are pretty tired of weeding and just decide that no matter what survives in the vegetable garden will be plenty for the two of us. It's a bit embarrassing considering how nice it all looked a month ago but it is what it is.  It looks like the sunflowers don't care as these guys are getting sun regardless.

You know how tall daylilies are... well those are sunflowers behind them...

And the real truth is we'd really rather have company and time to talk...

So if you come visit us at this time of the year in the End of the Rainbow Valley there is one thing you are guaranteed and that is to leave with produce...

Not bad... We got eggs, zucchini and cucumbers!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Looking for the Positives...

I have been stewing and not in the kitchen...  It happened 2 weeks ago. You see I have been 'relieved' of my student teacher supervision this semester.  Perhaps the way I found out made it more difficult to get to where I am today the week of what would have been mandatory attendance at orientation.

We had been forewarned that 'full time' university faculty would be assuming more and more student teachers. Mentally perhaps I could have been prepared for the ax had I not been told that this summer that I would still have students in the fall. I received emails requiring my attendance at orientation this week, altered plans and by my own inquiry found out that I had 'no' students.

Now the tweaked curriculum of weekly topic assignments and handouts will sit unused. Maybe just for now, maybe I will be needed again, maybe not. Anyhow I am in the same boat as many of our community/country who have awoken one day and found themselves without a job involuntarily. OUCH.

What does one do? Look for the positives. Mentally I made a list to make myself feel better...

* will not be putting on hundreds of miles on the car
* lower stress level of traveling in bad weather
* no Friday afternoon meetings
* no paper reading
* less emotional drainage ( some students are needier than others)
* weekly planning is wide open
* no work responsibilities that limit travel
* time to concentrate on hobbies/ undone chores
* reflect on the good that I have done

It's important for everyone to wake up and have something to do. I don't think I will have a problem finding purpose.

Next month at this time thanks to my parents's most generous gift Natureman and I will be aboard Holland America's Westerdam with 900 Master Gardeners enjoying their International Conference aboard ship in between stops in Alaska. I think that's a terrific way to forget about being unemployed...

Meanwhile there's plenty to do in the garden and house right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Brother , Can you spare a dime?

Remember when you were supposed to always have a dime in your shoe in case you needed to phone home?

Why? Because a pay phone could be found just about anywhere like grocery stores, shopping centers/ restaurants/bars/ the like and even gas stations and for a thin dime you could make a call.

I do recall when the price went up to a quarter and then the last price I saw one up close was 35 cents last year outside of Lanesboro off a bike trail. It was a rare enough sight to see a pay phone out in the middle of nowhere that made me snap this picture.

In all honesty, I guess I haven't needed to make a pay phone call for awhile except until yesterday. So maybe it's all my fault and yours too...

So here's my story-  My folks were expecting a phone call at a prearranged time.

The only problem was when I reached into my purse at the designated hour, my cell phone was nowhere to be found.  Oh dear, I had left it in the other car.

OK no problem, I had a solution. I needed to mail a package and there's always a pay phone in a post office, right?  Especially a city's main Post Office and we are talking city, not Chaseburg.  Well, so I thought ...

After I made my transaction I inquired as to the whereabouts of the pay phone to the postal clerk. He replied that I was too late. Two months too late.  A quizzical look crossed my face. "Well" he said,  "the pay phone was removed 2 months ago as the telephone company had decided it wasn't being used enough as one of the four remaining in the entire city. Due to usage now of the once 100 pay phones it turns out only 3 remain and he had no clue where these were.

Wow. I certainly wasn't going to chasing all over the city looking for a pay phone. As I left the Post Office  I wished  there would be somebody I knew walking into the Post Office. A girl can wish, can't she?  No such luck and I headed for my car. As I was stepping off the curb there across the street someone was waving.  The sun was shining in my eyes so I squinted but still couldnt make out the face and there was somebody farther behind me, probably the intended for that wave. She hopped out of the truck and lo and behold it was one of my co- Pirates of the Chemotherapy cast members, Peace. My lucky day to have found Peace!  You know you gotta have Peace. Sorry I couldn't resist...

After a hug and quick how are you status take, I asked her if by any chance she had her cell with her and explained my predicament. She lent me her cell to call  Natureman whom I asked  to give my folks a heads up to let them know I wouldn't be calling at the designated time.

All have to say is Don't leave home without it... the cell phone that is because Honey you just might have a problem yourself finding that ever memorable pay phone even if you don't live in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Great Thaw 2013...

When you see the title 'The Great Thaw' your mind is probably going towards what's happening to Alaskan glaciers/maybe even what happens in Wisconsin when spring finally arrives in May. Sorry to mislead you because for us the 'real' great thaw is what happens to our frozen food storage system in the summer.

Extra freezer space is a necessity when one grows the majority of one's food.  Our upright freezer really starts being refilled at this time of year as the garden really starts producing.  Even if you have a frost free freezer that doesn't always mean 'frost free.' So on a not so hot summer's day, it was time for the annual defrost, inventory and reorganization.  Everything had to be removed and kept cold in the process.

Then, the thaw begins.  Since this extra freezer is nestled in the garage next to a large upright wooden storage cabinet, a system has been devised to catch the big chunks of ice as they fall and absorb all that water. Towels and pans are assigned jobs. I self appoint myself sentry to start cleaning and drying the perspiring  insides.

Ah sweet SUCCESS as no water puddled nor wetted that nearby cabinet's base. Once the freezer's insides were dry, it's time to start refilling. Luckily I had an extra body (one of the kids was home) to serve as a secretary as I called off contents to tally on a master list as they were replaced into the clean dry freezer. The idea is to know what we have/don't have so I don't waste time searching for something we used up months ago/ need to consume  ie cauliflower/broccoli of which we have oodles this year.

Maybe you can't see the new found space, but it's there.  Natureman always says we don't have any freezer room. Well, now it's visible and available right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley... Mission accomplished on the The Great Thaw 2013.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hey, Hay...

One thing we were all worried about in this area due to the rainy start of summer was whether the farmers would get 3 cuttings of hay/ have enough for their own livestock much less selling it to others. 

We were down to 7 bales and the goats were worried too. This weekend hay arrived to the End of the Rainbow Valley

Those goats were pretty dang happy. They are not picky about quality but 'the girls' don't mind a good looking 'kid' delivering it. Wink, wink...

Natureman was in the barn stacking and said he didn't need my help when asked -  OK with me. ( That makes 2 years I haven't had to do it. ) Well I didn't argue and went back inside. The 100 plus bales were unloaded and stacked probably faster without my help. By the time you get the coordination in the loft stacking...

I knew Natureman would be sneezing and congested the rest of the day. So after a garden dinner we were on a Miata jaunt to get some fresh air and enjoy all the freshly cut fields ...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Muddling Makes Mojito

None would say that I am known for being a drinker. In fact in my younger college days one drink would do me in.  I may have mentioned before I'm the kind of person that a half of a glass of wine puts to sleep. Now that's pretty exciting, right?  I  don't even drink enough water if the truth be known. But, if I have a choice when offered a mixed drink I do have some summer favorites like a Wine Cooler, Sangria, Gin & Tonic / maybe even a Cuban drink called "Mojito."

Beer would definitely never be on my drink preferences. I had my chance when I lived in Charleston to acquire the taste with that 'beachy' climate and it just didn't happen. I thought if it was hot enough maybe I could drink one but no such luck.   So isn't it hysterical that I won a sports bar 1/2 barrel keg of beer party in a Cancer fundraising raffle drawing this past week?

While some of you are still laughing, here's a recipe for a Mojito that you may want to try.

Piggy's Restaurant version
MOJITO time... Here's a recipe that's easy and refreshing on a summer day.

Makes 1 cocktail:

 10 fresh mint leaves
 1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
 2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
 1 cup ice cubes
 1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
 1/2 cup club soda


Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge in sturdy tall glass.
Use  muddler to crush mint and lime to release mint oils and lime juice. *
Add 2 more lime wedges and sugar.
Muddle again to release the lime juice.*
Do not strain the mixture.
Fill  glass almost to top with ice.
Pour  rum over  ice.
Fill the glass with carbonated water.
Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired.
Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.

Anybody have any suggestions?

If you do need mint,  just let me know because we have a lot of it in the End of the Rainbow Valley. Now rum's another story, we'd have to go buy it since that's something we don't normally stock at home.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Every Day You Learn Something New...

Today I learned volumes as I became part of a Chevra Kadisha ( pronounced heh vra kah dee shah) a member of a  women's burial society who prepare the deceased female according to Jewish law and tradition. There is a specific ritual with prayers recited with proper decorum as the corpse is washed, dried and shrouded.

 There were five of us this particular evening participating.

The first part is an initial inspection and washing/cleansing of the body and the second is the ritual purification/ tahara . You see in Judaism the body is not embalmed. During the tahara there is a continuous flow of water starting on the right side at the head and continuing down over the entire body.

Once the body has been dried, it must be shrouded in pants, a top and a tunic and a cap  all to be twisted and tied in a special way.

Traditional pine box with wooden pegs. Courtesy Google
A muslin shroud is placed in the simple pine box and the body is lifted and placed on top of that feet first and then swaddled in the sheet.  The top of the casket is put into place and the wooden pins inserted.

Although none of our group knew the deceased, she has lived an hour away for 30 some years and  had not been in our shul recently since the burial of her parents and even purchased her plot about 15 years ago.

It is considered a mitzvah (good deed) to help with the rituals including the meal of condolence...

Eleven months/ within a year after the burial a headstone will be placed on the grave. Traditionally visitors place stones on the headstone to mark their visit. I hope the deceased family will come to visit. No matter what, I have a feeling I will always remember to pay my respects at least every year at this time...