Friday, November 29, 2013

Foto Friday

Foto Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday made this week's pic choice a bit easier. Today's featured 'foto' has to do with how technology has made all of us closer . Case in point the Pinterest posting of the Turkey veggie platter last year. 

As individualistic as we are so are our turkeys...

Feast your eyes on perhaps the 'lowest' best looking calorie count on people's Thanksgiving tables and it all started on line. 

                                  This was my attempt from last year.

    (Do forgive me for not asking your permission to use your pic!)

Look what you all did this year.

Dallas Shermans

Mills Onsruds's
Jester Household

Hartman's Relished Turkey

And this year's 2013 addition to the End of the Rainbow   Valley Thanksgiving table created by Steven's Karen

                                                HAVE A HAPPY BLACK FRIDAY!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Getting Wiser with Old Age...

As I am working on my 60th year of life sometimes I stop and pat myself on the back and appreciate that I actually have become a bit wiser... While I admire those that can throw a Thanksgiving meal together in a day, it doesn't work for me. I end up exhausted and grouchy and while I could end that way anyway cooking ahead has really helped ease the stress. The other most important revelation is, are you ready for this?

I don't need to do it all. I repeat, I don't need to do it all. Don't get me wrong Natureman is a big help without even being asked and I know I have raised very competent kids. So as holiday time planning started, I decided it was time to enlist everybody to be part of the festivities. The e-mail went out as to what dish each individual would like to make. Necessary ingredients would be provided. 

We gifted ourselves some for the first night of Chanuka
And you know what? It's been great. As soon as daughter Lori arrived on Tuesday, I was assigned 'sous chef ' status. One of her additions, the Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake would need 3 days to set. Done by the time we headed for our next airport run.

Eggs a la Salsa
The next morning son Steven took over preparing the eggs for breakfast. We all are helping hands but what a pleasure it has been to share the kitchen. Does it always taste better when somebody else cooks?

This delegation has also given us time to go do other things.  Steven's girl friend Karen ( yeah I know ironic, huh?)  came to visit us this year and after breakfast we went out for my ridge Amish tour, Coon Valley stops, oops I forgot Norskedalen is closed for deer hunting and a quick search for the last of the tundra swans. While we were gone, Natureman made Tuscan bread for lunch and the makings for the potato pancakes for dinner... 

Made ahead vegetarian chili and stuffed acorn squash were nuked for lunch while the bar b que brisket thawed for dinner and Simon's arrival. We played a couple board games while Natureman baked the latkes. 

Turkey Day Steven will make pigs in the blanket for a Packer game lunch and Simon's garlic mashed potatoes and Sam's green bean casserole will be equally appreciated gracing the Turkey Day Dinner.

And I didn't have to do it all. I bet you all got smarter a lot faster than I have, right?

Have a great Thanksgiving from End of the Rainbow Valley... 

        I am so thankful to have you all in my life.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Disaster Averted...

We fooled Mother Nature and the kiddos got home before the  Eastern winter weather storm got worse.

Atlanta has arrived...
My Southern girl, Lori,  arrived mid afternoon as she left a wet, cold ( yes in the 40's) rainy Atlanta . She immediately donned the down coat, gloves and knit ear warmers awaiting her as she deplaned. Her first flight's late arrival left her with no time to eat so we stopped for her to get a bite since we live about an hour from the airport. Would you be surprised to hear that she didn't take off the coat in the restaurant? 

Steven miraculously was able to switch flights and come home a day earlier averting the forecasted nightmare of 600 cancelled flights out of Philadelphia alone. My northern child arrived wearing a fleece jacket and short sleeve shirt. 

Would you say kids are different? 

Philadelphia has arrived..

Simon arrives at dinnertime Wednesday and should have clear roads to travel from Madison.

We shall see whether the weathermen have overreacted but all I care is that the chicks are safe and have come home to roost right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley...


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rotten Timing...

There's never a good time for a major winter storm but falling on a holiday is really rotten luck for travelers. Natureman was checking out the weather on Google News and what he discovered caused me great distress.

Why?  Well because Mother's Day was the last time I've been with my kids that live on the other side of the U.S. and our time together is limited as it is. 

Not nice Mother Nature, after all you're a Mother!

Of all times to send a storm to wreak havoc in the South starting Monday causing Dallas to cancel hundreds of flights and move it eastward to hit New York Tuesday. Travelers could have done without the sleet, freezing rain and snow to plague them.

Then you're planning to dump a major rain (about 3 inches) on the East coast. Forecasters warn: Be ready for delays. In many areas the cold will turn that precipitation to snow from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and northern Florida. My daughter is scheduled to travel from Atlanta midday. I have no idea where her plane is originating... 

Rain's forecasted to increase throughout the day across the Carolinas and possibly Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Guess where my son and his girl friend are traveling from on Wednesday? The latter, Philadelphia where rain is supposed to become sleet and freeze mixing with snow. Western Pennsylvania and the interior of New England will get snow and up to 9 inches could dump on northern parts of West Virginia. It doesn't sound good.

All I can hope for is that everyone will eventually arrive safely and not be 'too' grouchy. And if we have to celebrate a bit later, we'll deal. May we forget the travel hassles and enjoy our time together here in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Monday, November 25, 2013


At this time of the year there's one thing in abundance and that is Holiday Craft Fairs. 

This was my first year to attend the Annual Holiday Fair at the La Crosse Convention Center. It was actually a lot smaller than I had anticipated with 130 vendors. But if you're going to finally go, a 50th celebration isn't a bad time.  The halls were festive and bustling with anticipation of a shopping frenzy. There were door prizes every hour, local entertainment in the food area, photo ops with Santa, appearances by Rudolph AND... 

in honor of the occasion awaiting eager shoppers were the Westby royalty donning their tiaras holding onto celebratory balloons for the kiddos and acting as greeters to the throngs of women shoppers. There
was nary a male in sight as this fair is strategically planned at the beginning of Deer Season. ( I capitalize that for you to truly get its importance in this area.)  With the men gone, these women are psyched to shop.

And shop they do during this 4-day extravaganza... you would never know we were in a recession. According to Laurel who decorates crystal glasses, she sold more in the first 2 days this year than in all 4 of last year's.

There can never be enough Packer fans
Personally I like the artistic side of going and seeing what's new.  People are ingeneous as to the 'schatzkes' they create of stuff we never knew we needed. 

Whether it's home decor/ clothing accessories/food stuff, there's always a new twist. Speaking of twists...

One booth featured a demo of rusty barbed wire being bent into names/ words of your choice. Hey, those probably don't need dusting!

Popular were booths with bottles filled with little lights. I say you can never have enough of those.

Vendors came equipped with their sewing machines/ their materials to continue creating. Altho' there was prefab stuff made in China, local handmade abounded. 

Family like branches on a tree, will grow in different directions. Yet our roots remain the same.
Upcyling is big whether it's old sweaters becoming mittens/ jackets/ wool being shrunken to make bags, hats, head bands/ using old windows/ pieces of wood with sayings seems to really be big now.

So if you need something for that special someone, you can find it at a fair and you never know, you just may end up keeping it yourself. 

My solution is just buy two...

Friday, November 22, 2013

FOTO Friday- Walk

 For this FOTO Friday I am sharing something found on a walk.

It doesn't have to be a 'nature walk' like mine as it can be a walk down your home hallway/ wherever. 

So join me like my buddy Jennifer did last week on FOTO Friday and add one of your photos.

You can just click on the camera icon in comments next to the Face Book blog entry's status and download your pic. Looking forward to see what you'll share... Come on, play along.

Here's what I found on the last walk I took.  It's always a good idea to look up when you are in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

                                              Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

12 Years a SLAVER ?

In spite of some sunshine and a warmer day we treated ourselves to an afternoon sitting on our duffs in the movie theater since we had been super productive the previous day- Natureman had taken care of  a week's worth of wood on the porch, prepared the tractor for an impending snow, I had self imposed the job of the removal of gutter leaves and muck besides both of us planting 4 dozen bulbs. We had decided our own chores. No bosses.

I also should mention that our local theater in La Crosse has started $5 Tuesdays,  all movies, all day with a free popcorn until December 31st.  How could we not go see a 'new' release? I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this flick and didn't want to miss it on the Big Screen.  It definitely has earned its accolades.

The work we did Tuesday afternoon was a different kind of work... our emotions got a good workout. Why? Because our movie choice was to see the powerful  '12 Years a Slave.' The marquee read 12 Years  a 'SLAVER.' What a grave typo!  It turned out the erroneous 'R' was for R- rated and they forgot to skip a space.

Anyhow more on the typo later... This movie was the autobiographical story of a free Northern black man, Samuel Northrup, who was kidnapped in 1841 in NY and sold into slavery to spend 12 years enslaved in Louisiana.

 Is it uncomfortable to watch? Absolutely.  You witness the change in demeanor as a person's humanity is stripped through verbal and physical humiliation from separation from family, forced nudity, whippings, mental and physical torture, betrayals, hangings, rapes, insufficient food, bad housing and limited hours of sleep with long days of arduous work, lives filled with lots of disrespect.

The slaves were depicted as so human it makes one wonder how the slave owners and others don't see their own inhumane actions. The mal-usage of the Bible and religion couldn't have been more poignant. One can't but be aware in Mr. Northrup's story of the treatment of women.

Victim blaming asks why slaves didn't  run away. It's about survival and fear of Death. There was no way to escape without help. Trust was/is difficult to come by considering history...

Cruelty and maltreatment of people didn't start in the U.S. but we certainly have perpetuated it treating others as inferior. Thousands of years ago the Pharoahs were no better. Perhaps the marquee's typo error wasn't the R attached to the word slave but the perhaps the movie's title should have been 'Centuries a Slaver. '

May we all consider our daily actions in our treatment of others and be better... a whole lot better.

Trailer if interested:12 Years a Slave

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's All About Fiber ...

You know the saying 'The grass is always greener on the other side... ' which nine times out of ten is not true   BUT hey from past years we knew that the majority of the swan migration viewing is super impressive in Brownsville directly across the river from us. The problem is we are smack dab in the middle of crossings to the other side. Fortunately the decision making wasn't too difficult whether to go north/ south as Natureman's car was due for an oil change which happens to be right next to the bridge in downtown La Crosse.  I would also drive so we could go see the swans while his car was being serviced. Perfect.

After crossing into Minnesota we drove by this  sign. Wow alpacas, roadside no less but we were on a mission to see the swans.  Natureman suggested we stop on our return since we needed to retrieve his car... True. So on we went to the Brownsville viewing area...

But, wait the swans had decided to hunker down farther out.  See those white dots in the distance...
I couldn't believe it. Today of all days when we come to see them en masse they have plopped themselves far out. There were many pockets of them but I don't have one of those giant lenses.

This is the closest I could get with my zoom.

Maybe we arrived before wake up time. Nobody even wanted to pose for a picture/were tired from posing the previous day. Imagine that!

The grass definitely was not greener on the other side as our view on the Wisconsin side was a lot better to see the swans. Totally unimpressed we didn't stay long and home we headed but wait the trip wouldn't be a total loss, we had the alpaca stop.

The closest I had ever been to an alpaca was in the zoo and my knowledge about them is like nil.

The camera hog
As I approached the fence this gal came right up to me. What a camera hog!  She wouldn't even let me take pictures of the others.  No matter where I aimed my camera, there she was.

Then all of a sudden all the alpacas came rushing towards me. They must have realized there was a visitor and thought that it was feeding time.  Whoa. Once they realized I had nothing to offer them, they returned to their business.

As you can see alpacas  are a smaller version of a llama. But they are not pack animals like the llama but rather bred for their wool.  This wool comes naturally in 52 colors. That's incredible.  After seeing these guys I can see how that's possible.  I love their bangs too.

You can pet them but stay away from their legs/undersides... They also spit like camels. No, I didn't get spit on.

Bella poses with a side profile shot

 There are 2 breeds of alpacas, suriya and huacaya.  The most interesting factoid I read about was regarding their hygiene. The alpaca has a dung pile. A female will relieve herself in an area and the males will line up and go in the same place. There you go.

Before we left, the daughter -in- law of the owners returned home and we visited a bit. The fleeting thought of having an alpaca for a companion for our goats was answered once I inquired as to their cost.  I had no clue, guessing a couple... a couple hundred? She smiled, responding a couple,  a couple thousand.  She told me that it was Bella who was hogging the limelight. I guess if your name is Bella, of course you know you're beautiful especially if you sell for a couple thousand dollars.

'Guess the goats will have to keep themselves company right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Who's Really Safe?

People often ask me if I am ever afraid to live in the End of the Rainbow Valley in the country in the middle of nowhere tucked back in a valley a mile from a main road. I don't hesitate to respond "No" but to be perfectly honest, that's not exactly true.  It's not the being alone aspect of the isolated location but rather the fear of needing emergency services. 

And such was the case this past Wednesday for a dairy farmer whose farm Natureman had driven by countless times en route to and from work. 

Smoke filled the air on County Road KK 7 miles south of Coon Valley. Majestic Farms, a dairy farm's barn was ablaze.  The farm's owner, Steve Humfeld, was in the barn at the time.  He was helicoptered to Madison to be treated for 2nd and 3rd degree life threatening burns where he was reported to be in serious but stable condition.  Our prayers are with him and his family.

Six different area fire departments tried to extinguish and contain the flames as they faced a big problem - running out of water. The barn was a total loss. Luckily some of the 50 cows and 40 smaller livestock managed to escape.

The cause of the fire is being investigated. Natureman explained to me that sometimes 'wet' hay can cause a fire. Who knew?

Lifestock and buildings can be replaced but my heart goes out to the family who have to rebuild their livelihood and most of all recuperate from both mental and physical injuries...

This has been quite a week with the devastating typhoon in the Philippines, flooding in Italy, 80 Midwest tornadoes and our local ridgetop farm fire... Safe, who's really safe?

Friday, November 15, 2013

'FOTO' Fridays

I don't know if you knew I really only have 2 registered followers on Blogspot/ for Life in the End of the Rainbow Valley. The rest of you read entries off Facebook and these reads register in the viewed portion of my stats. I feel honored for your readership that has helped me reach nearly19,000 hits. Receiving your comments are super fun and I really appreciate whenever you give me feedback whether on line/ whenever our paths cross. 

So where am I going with this?

Readership on Fridays seems minimal so here's what I am thinking...

I am going to try something new for Fridays. I will call it 'Foto' Fridays ( yeah I know photo is spelled with a PH)  posting a favorite pic of the week for whatever reason. I might post a small explanation / maybe it will just speak for itself.

Self Portrait
So here's to FOTO Fridays and hoping you'll enjoy my learning curve in my endeavor with Phtotography. Maybe you can grace me with one of your pics. Comment sections on FB now allow pics which of course I think is terrific.

My photo notecard sales are taking off so if you ever want any for gifts / yourself, do let me know because until they figure out this health care coverage I can use the income to supplement my health insurance. :)  AND  it's going to take selling a lot of cards. LOL.

For my first FOTO FRIDAY here is the last bloom of an orchid plant that has bloomed twice this year and incredibly lasted a good 2 months each time. It was so sad finding its last bloom of this season on the floor...

Beauty in Death

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Get Ready for the Tundra...

The Mississippi was hopefully ready for the Tundra... Tundra Swans that is. We started hearing the swans flying over head over a week a go and it hasn't stopped as thousands of these birds head toward the Mississippi backwaters where tree lines protect them a bit from the winds as they refuel for their journey south.

The most recent cold snap and snow fall iced  some areas and as more flocks flew in, the guests found themselves standing on frozen patches. It warmed up a bit and melted in most areas 24 hours later.
Hunkered down... the cold is catching up with them

Last year the Dept. of Natural Resources received a grant to create a couple more educational roadside viewing areas equipped with Park Rangers no less.  We are fortunate to have one such area right down the road from us. I recently stopped and found scopes added for both little and big people. 

This new scenic stop just past Goose Island a 1/2 mile besides the viewing scopes has information regarding the fowl visitors because there's a lot more to identify than just the Tundra Swans.

Duck possibilities include  Common Goldeneye , Bufflehead, Ring Necked Duck, American Coot, Hooded Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Canvasback, Gadwall, Pintail, Blue Winged Teal, Green Tailed Teal, Wood duck, American Widgeon and Northern Shovelers.

What's a bit ironic is while we at this stop are busy admiring nature in the Restricted hunting area duck hunters's gun shots can be heard ringing out in the not so far distance.

School groups are also including this migration in their field trips.  And why not? It's in their back yard.
Others travel states to witness this phenomena.

 The sun had broken through the clouds and the water was iluminated with hundreds of white dots.

The Ranger was eager to talk to all who stopped about the wildlife that abound in this area- ducks, eagles and about the most recent guests, the Tundra Swans. 

2500 swans are expected to frequent this roadside diner. I think this week we have surpassed those expectations.

So how could these swans possibly find enough fish in this area for food? Well that's not their diet because the swans feed on the tubers of the arrow root plant.

Can you guess how many pounds of tubers one swan will eat per day?

Hint:   This container has 3 pounds of tubers.

A swan consumes ...  ?

Two of these in other words-  6 pounds a day. How can there possibly be that many tubers in those backwaters? Feast your eyes on all the fine feathered friends.

We feel so fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful parts of this country and it does lessen the bite of winter right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

Click on arrow for my home video and below click will show you more re: Tundra Swans
Last year's Tundra Swan Blog Entry