Thursday, April 30, 2015

Easy as 1-2-3

Nothing's better than a quick recipe.  This a 3-step Chicken. In Texas it could even be a 2- step for my buddy Queen Jester as she likes a simple recipe...

Here's what you'll need to eat your dinner within an hour unless you want to cook it in the slow cooker (3-4 hours)

Preheat oven to 350         

4 chicken breasts
salt & pepper

1/2 c dijon mustard
1/4 c maple syrup
1 T apple cider vinegar

1.Salt and pepper chicken 
2.Mix 3 ingredients for sauce.
3.Pour on top of chicken.

(OK, I added rosemary on top.)

Bake  45 min/until golden and browned.

Serve with rice. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Down by the Riverside

Ominous skies didn't scare us away.
Continuous blooming lure many to visit Riverside International Friendship Gardens in La Crosse and yesterday was one such day for us after the potatoes were planted on an almost perfect 75 degree picnic type day.                                                 
So picnic we did. We had the pavilion to ourselves where so far this season only 2 recently shellacked picnic tables were out as the others must either still be in storage/ getting refinished. Dark clouds loomed in the late afternoon sky but they didn't scare us away.                                            

All around new plant growth abounded.  The hostas were about 5 inches high compared to our 2" in the End of the Rainbow Valley and their Japanese tree peonies already had buds. The Japanese Plum trees are blooming and exquisite.

Other plants aren't waiting until Mother's Day either as many of the tulips have/ready to pop in the French garden and there's a sea of yellow daffodils along the riverbanks where fisherman throw their lines in awaiting  tugs on their lines...

There are some new giant Koi in the Japanese garden pond too that I am sure are going to attract a lot of attention. No fishing's allowed there. :)

The gardens are definitely a wonderful community locale utilized by all ages and parts of our community.

A lovely sunset bid farewell to a beautiful spring day in the Coulee. We'll be back for sure.


The Land is Alive with the Sound of ...

All over the Coulee there's a familiar sound. It's the sound of tractors plowing. In the End of the Rainbow Valley, the sound is the sound of the rototiller. 

In preparation for planting Natureman spent each nice day last week carting the winter's old hay with goat droppings up from the barn to the garden. The barn's floor was covered with at least a foot. 

Each cartload was then dumped inside the perimeter of the fenced in garden. It's all part of the process for once the rows are planted the hay will be spread as mulch and fertilizer. 

Today was the first day to hear our rototiller this season as Natureman turned the soil in half of our vegetable garden, not once but twice. 

It's not easy work even though he acted like he does it with one hand for the camera.  Do you think he knew his photo was being taken? This is definitely a two handed job.

When you live in a valley there's a lot of  up hill...

In addition to rototilling half of the garden, Natureman also put up small fencing for a row of peas. And thus the vegetable garden season in the End of the Rainbow Valley begins...  

Monday, April 27, 2015


 I will be brief since a picture speaks a thousand words. But this one may need some explanation. You see with all the crude oil and frack sand train traffic necessitating a second rail section through our area, one thing mentioned at the DNR informational meeting by a union representative in the positives was more jobs for locals. Really?

FACT: Rail beds and bridge rail overpasses were long overdue for repair besides the second rail construction. 

The cabin lodging below is 11 miles south of La Crosse. Cabins have been frequented for the last 6 months by Burlington Rail employees, obviously not local. 

Every cabin has a Burlington Northern logo'ed truck in front of it. 

I know, I know at least the rail is finally being made safer and at least the area motels are full but what happened to giving locals jobs? 

Oh, maybe our folks are building the new safer train cars. 
Not.  (uttered  sarcastically) 

Friday, April 24, 2015


FOTO FRIDAY is about an animal/pet   having a good time just because it's spring. 

I think spring fever is catching. I caught Romeo enjoying watching the daffodils blow in the wind. 

Isn't it cute when pets cross their legs?
And the goats have been having a terrific time frolicking in the pasture jumping around chasing each other and butting heads... 

Mancha, Blanco and Jacqueline enjoying Spring.
                          How about an animal pic from you?

Yep robins aren't the only ones enjoying spring fever as Jennifer's  front porch has proof. 

Be sure and watch Sara from Milwaukee's video until the surprise ending. It's not just for the birds.

Did you catch last week's FOTO FRIDAY: click on 
 NATURE HIKE SIGHTINGS  to see additions.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Date Night

I still remember receiving a lot of advice as a new parent but perhaps the best marital advice during that time was to make sure to have a date night... 

The kids have long since flown the coop but that date advice is still sound. Isn't it easy to get so wrapped up in work/committees/ volunteerism/whatever that free time seems to be on the bottom of that priority list? 

After hearing about a new tasty weekend menu starting on Thursdays at my favorite coffee shop, Java Vino,  Natureman agreed to humor my efforts for a Saturday date night with another couple. You see the poor guy had spent the entire day at an Earth Day Celebration about an hour and a half away talking up becoming involved in CARS (Citizens Acting for Rail Safety). Depending on when he returned determined his down time before we needed to head out.

An extra incentive besides the food was music. Yep 2 couples who have been friends for a long time, one from the La Crosse area and the other from the Decorah area play blue grass together in the band they formed called GrassRun Band. 

We sat at a table about half way back in the restaurant so we could both listen and feel free to visit. And visit we did through an appetizer of Margharita Flatbread, for entree the 3 others ordered Almond Encrusted Walleye in Lemon Caper White Sauce and I ended up with a yummy Garlic Mushroom Risotto with its wine pairing (a story for another day). We even all tasted the Sweet Potato Cheesecake. Unfortunately, they were out of my favorite, the Moscato Tiramisu. Everybody agreed on a 2 thumbs up on the food.

 It was a great date night. Don't forget to treat yourself as everybody deserves a night out even when you live in the End of the Rainbow Valley...  

Still dating...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Radical Hope

Some folks wear many hats, Curtis Miller is one of those. Ten years ago as clergy and community organizer he approached the Coulee region's area congregations to join together and identify community needs.  

Natureman and I attended that first organizational meeting of the newly formed group called AMOS along with many others as the years passed and formed task forces... 

After a decade of dedication, Curtis Miller is moving on to work in Hospice. Sunday, the Congregational Church in La Crosse was the setting for a thank you and good bye reception for a very caring and dedicated individual. 
A large crate of goodies, popcorn and dinner certificate along with many good wishes were also part of the farewell to wish Curtis and his family all the best.
Board President Wellesley White made sure
there's popcorn wo AMOS board meetings.

Curtis Miller's departing remarks included a recap of AMOS objectives and the progress and growth of the task forces. Most importantly he spoke of 'radical hope,' a belief that one can affect change against what may seem insurmountable obstacles.  Once one becomes aware of injustice, reality can not be denied nor ignored.

Thank you Curtis Miller for helping cofound this Interfaith Social Justice organization whose work will continue to serve the needs of the community. 

Other AMOS entries:
NOT Amos n Andy, Just Amos
Prophetic Voice

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Woman in Gold, a National Treasure or a Family Portrait?

It definitely was a timely release for the fascinating true story of the movie Woman in Gold in our area during this month of Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Maria Altmann

Classy Helen Mirren does an excellent job portraying Maria  Altmann who fights the Austrian government for artwork confiscated from her family during  World War II.  Mrs. Altmann's lawyer nephew with no art restitution experience, Randol Schoenberg, accompanies his Aunt to demand the return of the famous Klimt painting of his great great aunt Adele Bloch Bauer referred to as the Woman in Gold.

After a bit of googling I discovered that the case actually took 10 years to resolve ending in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. Of course I don't want to spoil the movie for you and despite mixed reviews here's a 2 thumbs up for an important piece of history to unravel a not so uncommon story that has needed to be told for a long, long time.  In many cases restitution is still ongoing...  

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Color is a Green House?

It's that time again time when some folks are itching to get back into the garden and start digging. If you didn't know I am one of those folks. This past week I've been removing all that "winter interest" alias last summer's flower bed leftovers and there's still a lot more to do. 

But when the opportunity arose to visit the Ridge with a friend to see if the Amish greenhouses were open yet, I was game. A greenhouse to a gardener is like light to a moth. 

It is still early and although the "closed" signs were out, the places were open for business. Most will open to the public on May Day.
The problem is that it's really still too cold to move plants outside here so if one's buying plants, one's going to have to baby the new purchases and keep them inside for about 3 weeks more in southwestern Wisconsin.

Upon entering the greenhouses it's difficult to resist the temptation to buy the beautiful hanging baskets. The colors were so intense and the smell of earth combined with some of the fragrant blooms served as aphrodisiacs under the warm white plastic hoop green houses. 

Many of the plants are still in their infancy and can use the extra greenhouse time. But even the solid green masses of kelly green new leaves are still pretty irresistible.  As you can see poppies were popping and some plants had blooms. 

The  new varieties never cease to amaze me.

OK I'll confess I did buy 5 small plants but I let my friend's purchases fill the car's trunk. There will be plenty of summer watering to do even waiting three weeks. I have my fingers crossed  they won't be too picked over after Mother's Day but I know it's best to wait. Grrr, I'm biting at the bit!  

Friday, April 17, 2015


This week's FOTO FRIDAY pics are items found on a walk/nature hike.  We travelled to the ridge early in the week. Here are my faves:  wind, inanimate object ( wood) / new plant growth. 

Your choice. 
                           Don't be shy I'd love to add your entries...


 FIND:Wind in the corn field...

Inantimate  objects like

FIND: an old tree...

FIND:New moss growth ...

Do share.

Cheryl's on the road again and look what she found in Kansas.
                          FIND:  RED BUDS BLOOMING

Despite colder weather Cyndy and her walking buddies hiked up Hixon Forest's Trail in La Crosse while snowflakes were falling. Hearty midwestern folks. Cyndy said they warmed up as the longer they hiked.

            FIND: New green moss and snow on April 22.

Laura's the Queen of Finds on her walks. Here's her latest walk around the lake  in Mueller Lake Park in Austin.
                             FIND: Someone's Baby Doll


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jeepers Creepers Get a Listen to Those...

OK when you live out in the country there is a sound that is definite evidence of the beginning of spring AND saying goodbye to winter.

Take a listen 
    to this spring sound in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

             Jeepers creepers, It's the sound of those peepers.

                                         HOPPY SPRING!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Don't Fan the Flame ...

Tim Scott's fascination in the Third Reich began in what we call middle school today after reading a paperback book called Auschwitz in one day. His thirst for wanting to learn all he could about the Nazis and concentration camps continues to this day. He furthered his studies by traveling to Europe to visit the camps in person besides studying the German language and law.

Tim Scott, born a Catholic to a large family
in a small Wisconsin town says hatred exists everywhere.
This past weekend Mr. Scott was recognized by the La Crosse Congregation Sons of Abraham as the 2015 Holocaust Educator. Throughout his teaching career he has presented his Holocaust program about 1200 times and has touched many lives. He shared many essay/letter quotes received over the years written by all ages of participants from middle school, high school and even adults in jail. Some spewing with words of hatred and threats and others with gratitude for the lessons Mr. Tim Scott imparts as he illustrates racism, prejudice and its hatred can be perpetuated at any age, regardless of gender as its flames are within all of us.

Participants in  Mr. Scott's workshops/classes assume a jewish identity through role playing with fictitious multi generational families who also experience the horrors of the Nazis. He says although each group is different many lives are transformed during the 3 hour similation workshop. Many tears have been shed as awareness is heightened. 

Candle burning next to the photo of young victims of hatred...

Mr. Scott lights a candle to represent each person's flickering hate. Each individual must recognize their own flame and understand if the flame is fanned it can become a raging fire if not recognized and dealt with appropriately. He asks for each individual to evaluate their own prejudices and to speak up for others when they hear/ see any injustice regardless of religion, race, sexual preference, handicap, any bullying even for someone just being different, even a nerd...

"First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they can for me. There was no one left to speak for me." 
- Pastor Martin Niemoller Camp Prisoner 1938-1945

Congregation Sons of Abraham's  Rabbi Simcha Prombaum (L)
 and past educator recipient Greg Wegner. (R) 

During the presentation Holocaust memorial candles were lit for a different type of flame by young people and others regardless of religion to remember those that did not survive the atrocities. 

Thank you Mr. Tim Scott for the work that you do. May your words reach as many hearts as possible. I know your words touched those present at Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse on Sunday. 

" If the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little . Do what you can." Sydney Smith

*For information regarding a brave group of students during the Nazi regime check the web for "White Rose" and also "Hans and Sophie Scholl."
Also Mr. Scott has a web page: www.putoutthe and a Facebook group: Put Out the Flame

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Strong Neighborhoods:Strong Towns

The second annual keynote speaker of the La Crosse Mayor's Neighborhood Conference on Transportation is the founder of Strong Towns, Chuck Marohn who speaks all over the U.S. on the importance of revisiting the basics of what makes a town, a good strong town a good place to live.  

Chuck Marohn, founder of Strong Towns
Mr. Marohn makes good 'sense' in saving 'cents' with emphasis on good urban design with an alternative practical view rather than solely being dependent upon engineering, a science with little basis in reality rather than how its residents actually use the space.

We tend to continue throwing money at highway and road projects that make little difference in alleviating the ever growing problem of congestion. It's time to start rethinking the use of space.    Forgiving design which allows for driving error (avoidance of obstacles i.e. trees) is to remove the trees. Then there is no shade for the pedestrian on the sidewalk. If a sign is needed to correct speed, then, the road has little good design. 

We heard about the 'futon' of the transportation world the 'stroad.' You know the futon's purpose is to be both a sofa and a bed and is not really comfortable being either, well the 'stroad' is supposed to be a cure all for getting us around in our towns but is a disaster in its attempt to be both a street and a road because you can't go faster nor achieve the two's goals. Since a road is to connect 2 distant points quickly and a street is for spending time with benches and plantings, the 'stroad' is both unfriendly and inefficient. The truth is a 'stroad' ends up leading to strip malls, big box stores with large parking lots and a low tax base.  And face it, they are ugly to boot. We have all this space and energies leading to pavement rather than concentrating on the people who live in the town not its outskirts. This 'stroad' model is neither cohesive nor economic for communities and their neighborhoods. 

Streets are: More art than science.
1)  slower
2)  have pedestrians
3) intensity with more buildings
4) embrace complexity

1) limit access
2) separate cars from other modes of transportation
3) do not allow adjacent land
4) simplify

Note how the four design values for streets vary as to priorities for engineers and the public.
 engineers      vs    public
1. speed                 1. safety
2. volume              2. cost
3. safety                3. volume
4. cost                   4. speed

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent." - E.F. Schumacher  The challenge neighborhoods have is to look at their needs, prioritize them and approach the city to help them accomplish these projects.

Good transportation whether it's sidewalks, crosswalks for pedestrian traffic, slower speeds, bike lanes, better usage of side streets with local small ma and pa neighborhood businesses can make a city/town a better place to live.

"The Strong Towns approach is a fundamental rethinking of how we work together to build lasting wealth and prosperity within our communities. A strong America is made of strong cities, towns and neighborhoods." Check out Strong Towns at this link.

Makes one wonder are so many one way downtown streets for speed
 in the best interest of La Crosse residents and businesses? Hmmm.
*Ironically I came across the following city planning progress story  the day after the conference. I've included it due to its charm about survival amidst the cement and rethinking how we grow... Seattle and City Growth

Monday, April 13, 2015

Neighbors Working Together...

This past Saturday the second annual La Crosse Mayor's Neighborhood Conference was held in Myrick Park with over 200 in attendance to talk about the topic of Transportation. It proved to be a very interesting morning after visiting various exhibitors and 
Traffic Sign Cake Pops by Laura's Baking Delights 
their information booths re: all aspects of transportation including: walking, biking, bus routing, the airport remodeling, highway and road improvements, neighborhood projects, sidewalks, roads and train travel and transport...

Neighborhood Association Projects Displays 

C.A.R.S. Citizens Acting for Rail Safety

Police info re: drinking & driving

La Crosse Mayor Kabat welcomed all to the beautiful setting in Myrick Park. We had a stunning view of the marsh and the people that utilize the marsh trails such as families, bikers, dog walkers, joggers and individual walkers as they streamed by the windows... a very utilized public space.

I will share the impressive keynote presentation re: Transportation in the Next American City in another entry. The morning's  presentations also included the Coulee Vision, La Crosse Transportation Vision 2015,  Bike Share: Alternate Transportation, UWL Car Share Program, the Driftless Region Bike Coalition, New MTU Routes and the Neighborhood Revitalization Awards which included both individual and group awards: 

(L) Maureen Freedland with CARS award and
(R)Sara  Sullivan as that award's first recipient  

*The first time recipient of the  Sara Sullivan Award was none other its founder for her   contributions to neighborhood   revitalization and community building throughout the years. 

*The 2015 Good Deed Doer: Charley Weeth

*The 2015 Bridge Builders Award Individual: Matthew Christen


C.A.R.S. with La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat and their award 
*The 2015 Bridge Builder Award Organization:Cars Acting for Rail Safety, a grassroots group very close to our hearts here in the End of the Rainbow Valley. (Natureman not pictured here has been a member of its planning committee since its inception.)

What a delight to be in the presence of so many good neighbor folk working together to make the community a better place to live...