Friday, February 27, 2015


 FOTO FRIDAY this week is capturing a lost/found item.

I just saw a note on Face Book about some lost keys on campus. That's really a pain.
But so is losing an earring or worse yet at this time of year, a glove. The finder of this glove was kind enough to place it so strategically amidst the snow pile in the restaurant parking lot in case the owner came looking for it... Doesn't it look like it's trying to get your attention?  "Hey, excuse me, aren't you looking for me?" 

Have you found/ lost anything recently that you'd like to share?


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Dying Season

Weather talk dominates Midwest conversations as single digits  are common here. It's bitter cold with windchill temps adding a minus in front of double digits. Hence, a reason why this time of year's referred to as "The Dying Season." 

Out the back bedroom window yesterday I spied at the woods's edge one deer in an opening in the woods.  As she just stood there, I called Natureman to come see her.  He pointed out that I needed to shift my gaze farther up the hill... 

Sure enough she wasn't alone as there were actually 4 other young deer of her herd spread evenly on the hillside munching on branches with dried up brown leaves and chewing on saplings. They were  scavengering for food. When snow covers the ground it's slim pickings and what they find may not be enough to sustain them and this Dying Season will continue  through March. That idiom of " I'm dying from cold " definitely takes on new meaning. In fact, assuming this is the same herd as last summer, it is half the size. (Of course there was hunting season back in November...) 

It's survival of the fittest out here in the End of the Rainbow Valley only I'm lucky even though our wood pile is almost gone, the house will stay warm and our food pantry and freezer still have food to last us until the next growing season. Oh yeah, and we could go to the grocery store... 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Still Alice/Still My Mom/Still Us?

There's one thing you can be assured of if you have a loved one with Alzheimer's and that is you will be emotionally spent after viewing the award winning performance of Julianne Moore in Still Alice. I certainly was. The credits were still rolling and I was still sitting there trying to collect myself and stop the tears. There wasn't much I didn't relate to since my Mom has what's classified as Early Alzheimer's albeit not Early On Set as in the film.

The afflicted and their entire family suffer the loss of a once very independent bright active person and the increasing anxiety, fear and sadness that accompany that loss. Family members have varying opinions as to the best way to deal in their attempts to "be helpful." 

This past week wasn't a good one for my Mom as she fell twice.  Originally, I only heard about one of those falls where she was found disoriented behind her door again and a bump on her head. She ends up there a lot. Her facility doesn't have those bed alarms which sound when the patient gets out of bed. Yet being blind and confused compounds this falling possibility. "Being lost" is common for this disease. The second fall involved some combative behavior as she didn't want oxygen and stood up, pulling the tubes out and fell while pushing the aide away. My brother said she looks like she's been in a fight. Still my Mom? 

It's difficult to know when to call. The floor phone is at the nurse's station where the patients are parked in their wheel chairs. I try calling at different times of the day and it is hit and miss as to her clarity. She doses a lot. (If you think about it it has to be soooo boring just sitting there.) Deciphering her conversations as real/ fiction are sometimes more challenging than others. Repetition is a given. I can imagine the ever increasing 'vacant' look. But call I must no matter what her state of mind is, she is Still My Mom...

Julianne Moore was so right in her Oscar acceptance speech about the need to educate society about Alzheimer's and put monies toward its research. It's too late for my Mom but hopefully not too late for so many other families who might not have to suffer this neurological disease called Alzheimer's. We are living longer as a society and some form of dementia is a given. But let's face it, we will be Still Us.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On the Shoulders of Strong Women

Braving a cold evening a small group of women gathered for our  monthly spirituality group to celebrate 'Strong Women.' Hey we all ventured out with sub below zero temps, don't we count?Absolutely.

Our strong women choices were inspired by the heroine Queen Esther from biblical days who spoke up and saved her people. Our strong women choices were as varied as those gathered. Do you recognize these women?

Sally Levenstein,local mother of 4,
 spearheaded electing school board members
vs mayoral appointments  

Longest serving First Lady.
 Eleanor Roosevelt
diplomat, Human Rights activist,
instrumental in getting
US to join UN

Henrietta Szold, Zionist, activist,
youth aliyah program, Founder of Hadassah hospital

Barbara Jordan,Civil Rights leader and politician, many firsts as female African American in
Texas Legislature, Democratic Convention Keynote speaker,Presidential Medal of Fredom

*Not pictured: Erika , a German mother who made sure her children survived the war by hiding them out in the country and then obtaining a small apartment in Berlin.

The infamous Miss Piggy, good body image, sense of self

It is on the shoulders of these and many other strong women that women have what we have today. We've come a long way Baby but there's a lot more work to be done...


Monday, February 23, 2015

Finding the It and Sexy Self Inside

Fried chicken, mac 'n cheese, greens, cornbread
mashed potatoes and salad made a yummy plate.
Once a year I have the pleasure of a 'soul food' dinner here on the western border of Wisconsin during Black History Month and the University's celebration, Reflections of Ebony. 

This evening's always one of my most favorite campus events as each year its popularity grows with students, staff and community members filling Valhalla Hall.

Descendants of Royalty was this year's theme and a throne vignette embellished by Nigerian cloth as a photo op was arranged for fundraising. The students really dress up for this occasion and trust me, the 'high' heels were a sight to behold. 
Left- Connie  award recipient
The program included the Black National Anthem, an interpretive dance, powerful poetry, recognition of graduating seniors, advisors, in addition to those who helped organize the evening, Black Student Union board members, a new fitness endeavor of a student running group and the volunteerism of a staff member who gives countless hours supporting the students and their efforts. Congrats to Connie Vanderhyden.

Keynote speaker, Stan Pearson II, a motivational speaker/ comedian used humor, music and his insights for his presentation "How to Be the It, with the 5 ways to lead with purpose, Develop Your Gift, and Discover Your Sexy from the Inside Out" to the 200 folks gathered for the evening. 

Kudos to all those who helped plan the formal evening. In short, it was another inspirational evening celebrating the Descendants of Royalty at Reflections of Ebony 2015. May we all the tap the potential within ourselves to make this world a better place because of our efforts. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

FOTO FRIDAY: Traces of the Queen of Cards

FOTO FRIDAY: Have you ever encountered an item belonging to someone you know in a place you didn't expect? 

Well, last Friday I had this experience having gone to the small neighboring town of Coon Valley in search of a bake sale. I didn't find the desired baked goods but as long as I was in Coon Valley, I decided to stop at the surplus/resale shop that also carries groceries. There laying in a bin were these cards made by none other than my buddy Queen Jester, former doll maker, who now is a permanent RV'er and resides this month in Mesa, AZ.

How these cards ended up in Coon Valley is an unknown mystery. Perhaps you can shed some light on these notecards/maybe you have a story of your own with a pic of an item that reminded you of a friend...

Do you have anything to add to last week's:
 FOTO FRIDAY: Perfect for the Occasion / any other FOTO FRIDAY for that matter ?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Popcorn, anyone?

Although the movie theaters are promoting watching the Oscar nominated flicks, they are not the only show in town. As I've mentioned ad nauseum one of the great perks of living near a university town is being able to partake in campus happenings. This week UW-L's Latin American Studies program, a Social Justice grant recipient for the Pragda Film Circuit has given us the opportunity to view the following Latin films free of charge in addition to being moderated by University profs. My Spanish has gotten a workout and these flicks do come with English subtitles so non Spanish speakers can also enjoy them.

Issues of race, class and gender are common threads as well  cultural norms.  If anything the viewers can draw connections between life in the U.S. and our southern neighbors. All films received 3+ star ratings.

Listed below are the 5 films with both Netflix and Pragda brief summations. 

Monday:  Mexican  re: immigration issues       
Who Is Dayani Cristal?2013NR82 mins
In the oppressive desert heat, Arizona authorities find a man's decomposing body with only one clue to his identity: a tattoo reading "Dayani Cristal." Gael García Bernal portrays the unknown man in dramatic segments of this intriguing documentary.

Tuesday: Venezuelan re: a little boy's sexuality
Bad Hair2014NR
Set in the slums of Caracas, Venezuela, this pensive drama focuses on a 9-year-old boy whose determination to straighten his curly hair creates discord with his mother -- who fears the fixation may be a sign of homosexuality.

Wednesday:Ecuadorian  re:water rights
The Facilitator
A political thriller about human rights,  promoting water access rights for the indigenous community and an elite family with many secrets and problems.

Thursday: Argentinian  re: freedom fighters
Clandestine Childhood2011NR112 mins
This tense drama portrays the complex life of 12-year-old Juan, whose parents return to Argentina to covertly battle the ruling Junta. Juan strives to be a "normal" kid despite his parents' undercover activities that put all their lives at risk.
Friday: Bolivian re social change
Southern Distric
Witness how one family in the neighborhood Zona Sur in La Paz, Bolivia’s most exclusive enclave, home to the country’s affluent elite for generations, adapts to change.

If anything this series of films helps one see the pronouns

 should change in the discussion as  it's not 'them' and 'us' but 

rather "WE" as the world's problems are universal and we are

 all connected by this commonality.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Going Natural in The Natural State

Little Rock wasn't exactly warm during our visit but anything's warmer than Wisconsin's temps. This week our single digit weather even ventured down to Arkansas. SORRY. What's normal for us certainly can paralyze a southern city and definitely isn't kind to camellias blooming already in Zone 6. This colder weather reminded me that I still had a couple stories left to share about our past visit... because one can even be a tourist in one's own home town.

Since it had been a while since Natureman had been able to accompany me South, my brother Marc was kind enough to serve as tour guide during our visit. The guys toured Little Rock neighborhoods, South Main Street i.e.: The Root Restaurant for locally grown food, southwestward:The Bass Pro Shop (like our Cabela's), the new freeway exchange, and I got to go with them on a couple of southward field trips besides the locals's barbeque lunch at H.B.'s ( unfortunately their fryer was down for the day, alas no fried pies)... 

followed by our stop at the Sequoyah National Research Center written about in the preceding blog entry.

It had been a good while since I had headed farther westward on Highway 10. Fortunately with my brother as chauffeur I could catnap en route. I actually remember when the garden plots out there became popular by the Little Maumelle. Now there's even a park called Two Rivers Park surrounded by nice sized waterfront homes.

The wind was biting but sunshine and blue skies made it seem warmer than it really was. It was just cooler than usual for Arkansas.
Brother Marc and Natureman study the Little Maumelle River Trail.

We enjoyed a brisk walk on  a  trail down to the water's edge. There were actually a couple other folks there enjoying the park's beauty with us on that week day.

Natureman and I really appreciated the beauty of the area and public parks efforts. My brother pointed out  a golf course area granted by a variance and future possible new housing developments that may happen around the reservoir area.  What a shame to lose that natural beauty so close to the city.
'Progress' for a view is not always a good thing especially if you have been spoiled living in the Natural State. I don't know if it's a done deal but it would behoove Arkansas citizens to reconsider razing this land for a buck as once its gone, it's gone. Living where we live in the End of the Rainbow Valley we can truly appreciate the value of green space and the outdoors... 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fruits of Labor

While back home in Little Rock I had the opportunity to share kitchen time with a 'hamentaschen' baking fundraising project with some women I hadn't met before but also lunch and another holiday project with friends from my past Sisterhood days. 

Thanks to my sister-in law-Terri for snapping some of these pics...
Tu B'Shevat, New Year of the Trees, was marked by a dozen of us making table arrangements using dried fruits. Each person had brought a container to create our own centerpiece. Our variety of arrangements would represent fruit trees blooming in Israel at this time of year. Although I usually think of beautiful almond trees pink blooms, it'd be awfully difficult to skewer almonds. We all had to think about the origins of some of the dried fruits and if they indeed grow on trees.  See if you can identify the fruits and name their sources.

Our creativity on a dreary winter afternoon brightened the day... 


Dried ingredients included: prunes, dates, mango, pineapple, raisins, apricots, apple, figs, raisins... You're correct if you noted some of these don't grow on trees, but who cares? What's better than an edible arrangement and time spent with both old and new friends? What a great program idea! In fact, you just might see this project being done near the End of the Rainbow Valley next year. "Imititation is the best form of flattery." Wink, wink.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A New Gem But Not a Diamond ...

Despite advertising for gifting jewelry for Valentines's Day, not all gems come in jewelry boxes although this new gem of a Little Rock discovery was in a nondescript boxlike building within a strip mall... 
J.W.Wiggins's Native American collection spans 40 years
40 years of a Native American art collection by Dr. J.W. Wiggins along with extensive archives, manuscripts and special collections are housed in the Sequoyah National Research Center under the auspices of UALR.

This documentation of native communities encompasses not only literary and artistic works but political as well. The diversity of acquisitions is extensive to say the least with many art pieces awaiting display upon its already full walls.

While Natureman perused the archives for late 80's early 90's issues of News from Indian Country re: fishing rights of northern Wisconsin, my brother, Marc and I were given a personal tour through the recently opened Inuit Art Exhibit by Dr.  J.W. Wiggins who now is Curator and Director of the Gallery and Co-Director for the Visual Arts.  The diverse soap stone sculptures, some carved from bones/ tusks were exquisite examples of Inuit artisanship.

Dr. Wiggins also shared personal insights regarding numerous paintings and their artists as we toured the facility. One visit does not do the collections justice as there are over 2700 pieces in paintings, prints, sculpture, basketry, pottery, textiles and jewelry. 

                               Eye candy beyond belief.
A favorite especially with such spectacular moonscapes lately...
What an endeavor to catalogue all the art in addition to the manuscripts and special collections as well in the American Native Press Archives with over 2300 titles, many now on microfilm.  Over 4500 Native writers work have been archived, many specifically concentrating on years before 1925. 

The SNRC not only provides a research setting with its library of books, videos and archives but also opportunities for 3 summer internships for Indian students. If interested, contact the Center for qualification and application requirements. Internship applications for this summer are due by March 15th.(University housing and a stipend accompany these positions) What a terrific place to study and learn how to preserve one's tribal culture and history!  

BTW if you are interested in helping frame a piece of art, a $200 donation will achieve that purpose... I sure wish I lived in town to attend the SNRC's lectures. This place is definitely one of Arkansas's brightest gems and I will return to enjoy its brilliance. 

Here's the Center's FB link:Sequoyah National Research Center

Trail of Tears through Arkansas

Friday, February 13, 2015


FOTO FRIDAY: Sometimes you just find the perfect thing for a special occasion. This surely must have happened to you. Do tell and send a pic of the item and occasion.

 It really wasn't a coincidence that this grouping was sitting on Java Vino's counter next to the register. After all, it is Valentine's Day week. 

This California red's label reads Besitos. Beso is a kiss and with the diminutive ending attached (ito/s) literally means 'little' although it also changes the feeling of the word to endearing. i.e. as in Sweet (little) Kisses.

Wishes for a HappyValentine's Day. 
Sending you BESITOS from 
End of the Rainbow Valley...

Last FOTO FRIDAY's topic were:BUMPER STICKERS I know more of you have a favorite one to share... Thanks Cheryl for sharing your most recent find!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

TBT, This Throw Back Thursday includes a Friend from Younger Little Rock Days

Our recent Little Rock trip included some squeezed in visits with friends from younger years. One of these was down the hill from the Heights to Hillcrest to visit friends Kaye and Shep who have actually made it to the End of Rainbow Valley for a visit. 

Kaye and I became buddies back in elementary school. ( We do need to find a photo from back then.) Facebook actually reunited us... But anyway we always joke about my Mom thinking Kaye was a bad influence and wouldn't let me go over to her house as we got older. Now due to Mom's Alzheimers, Kaye and I figure it's safe to mention we were hanging out together...

Any'hoo' one common denominator we share as couples now is we all really enjoy being creative in the kitchen.  Knowing that we'd be dropping by Cafe 315 (their abode), our good fortune was finding some new recipes awaiting us: delish roasted nuts with a nice kick and two kinds of pinwheels one savory and the other sweet. Those plates were full before we got there...
One was roasted dried tomatoes, pesto and goat cheese and the other mini elephant ears.  Super yummy!

 It was Natureman's first time in Cafe 315 so he could also see and admire first hand Shep's fine woodworking in all the great furniture pieces throughout the house. We were even offered a visit to Shep's workshop. 

How could we pass that up? 

So we jumped in the car and saw where all the magic happens and that beautiful furniture gets made.

Even Shep's tool organization is artful. The place is spic and span. This artist takes care of the tools of his trade.

Below is pictured the first tool cabinet Shep made and isn't it a beauty?

Look at the inside of his drawers. Impressive, eh?

I think his DeWalt saw and I are about the same vintage. We both are still working really well. Is this where I say, knock on wood?

It was really awesome to get to see where these two special folks create their magic both in the kitchen and the workshop...  

 Looking forward to reciprocating when they head northward again. We'll be right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

We'll have to plan a joint cooking project the next time. One thing's guaranteed when we're together there'll always be good food and good conversation...