Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thawing ... Well, It is Almost July.

It was time. After all this rain, the garden is going crazy and it was time...
Rain showers have left things a bit steamy... It's a jungle out here.

Time to thaw the freezer and make room for this year's garden produce. It's also a good time to take inventory of what's remaining. 
2015 broccoli crop
The broccoli is ready to be harvested and it'll  need space as there'll be ten heads of broccoli to cut, flash freeze and bag. 

I know, I know, way too much for 2 people to eat. Every year Natureman and I have the same discussion. I whisper in his ear at night while he's asleep,"Plant less." But old habits are difficult to change. Need I say more?

Anyhoo, the ice in the freezer has built up since its last cleaning and it would take most of the afternoon to defrost. You know those times when the ice age occurs as a door doesn't close/ seal completely. This is a frost free freezer. Right.

After the great thaw and numerous emptying of containers filled with water and ice pieces, the freezer insides could be wiped down and towel dried before refilling its shelves. 

Natureman was regrading the road before the next upcoming set of  storms so this was my project before his return and opportunity to decapitate the broccoli heads. 

It took some 8 containers to hold all the freezer contents for the afternoon. (I still need to clean those storage containers tomorrow but the humidity in the garage got to me.) It's always a rush to get everything back in before they start thawing. 

Even though we have made a dent in last year's pickings, that friend's quarter of a cow is still taking up an entire shelf. That's a lot of beef for 2 folks who eat mostly vegetables and it's obvious we are going to need to eat more meat and sooner rather than later.


It's always rewarding completing a project and this was one of those unavoidable jobs. You might think this is not very exciting (no kidding) but I am so happy to have it cleaned and thawed.                        
Yep, that's an entire row of sugar snap peas. 
The bagged broccoli will fill up that top left corner shelf shortly followed by the sugar snap peas as will the .... 
on and on and on... until the last crop of the growing season, brussel sprouts.

One thing's for sure we'll never have to worry about lack of food here in the End of the Rainbow Valley. If you just happen to stop by at a mealtime we should be able to find something to feed you too.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Put the Pedal to the Metal

It must be a crime to just stay home when there's a perfect forecast especially since Natureman had read on FaceBook about some Wisconsin State Natural Areas east of us outside the town of Baraboo (home of the Wringley Brothers Circus.)  'Lil Red got filled up and off we went on the perfect Miata day.

It was a scenic drive sprinkled with quaint little towns as we avoided the interstate. I spotted this flowery bike in Wonewoc after I mailed a letter at their post office. The town was pre-paring for a day of street music and pig roast and we got through before their detour was set up.

Our first little hike was located 1.5 miles out of Baraboo in a place called...
Pewit's Nest
At one time before a mill was built, a resident lived in solid sandstone like "a gnome in a cavern here. This dwelling resembled the nest of a phoebe (or peewit) hence Pewit's Nest."

Today this State Natural Area is a favorite swimming hole with a beautiful 30' - 40' gorge formed during the retreat of the last glacier along with a couple of small waterfalls, Skillet Creek and steep cliffs that provide a wonderful jumping area. 

Jump (above) and Splash (below)

So after a dirt path back towards the squeals  (the upper trail is more rugged) one finds many 20 somethings readying/braving up to jump and the others awaiting below either wading/ swimming in the deeper holes.

The younger, older and more 'sane' folks just watch or take the smaller jumps.

Hesitant jumpers were encouraged and most actually made repeat jumps. 

Natureman comtemplated jumping.

The surrounding dense forest is comprised of red cedar, white pine, hemlock and yellow birch and was refreshing on a warm day. 

What I'd like to know is if any of you have ever  made the big plunge? 

Our next stop was Parfrey's Glen, the first State Natural Area (late 1800's).  In 1952 this area had given refuge with its unique geology and unusual plants to generations of visitors for 50 years so it was rededicated in 2002 by the DNR.

Mossy glens surround one after a paved  path disappears, becomes more rugged after water and fallen trees make the journey to the falls more challenging, necessitating good walking shoes / water shoes.

Deciding the best route is based on the individual hiker as there is no perfect way.

It was a lovely journey and certainly worth rock hopping and enjoying the coolness of the cliffs.

We saved Witch's Gulch for another day.

We returned home a bit sun burned after the day's road trip but reinvigorated by the beauty of the areas we visited.

Interested in our 2 stops? 
Here are some directions.
Pewit's Nest: HWY12 W/ Kessler Road(side of Wal-Mart) Baraboo
Parfrey's Glen, Merrimac, Wi County Road DL & HWY 113

Even though it was was great day trip one of us always utters there 'no place like home' as we make the last bend of our dirt driveway back in the bowl we call home here in the Coulee region in the End of the Rainbow Valley. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

FOTO FRIDAY: A Messenger of Awareness

FOTO FRIDAY this week is about a "sign" but not the obvious kind you see along a highway indicating an upcoming sight.

You see, unexpectedly the day of my Little Rock departure I ended up at the memorial service of a school chum's Mom, "Lit" Rosen of whom I have very fond childhood memories. Mrs. Rosen always greeted me with a genuine smile and interest. A really nice lady who always was impeccably dressed and coiffed with an ever so charming southern drawl and story. Her son Ron and I went to school together and were confirmed at this same Temple only in its previous downtown location. But today brought us to Temple for his mother's memorial service...

Before the service began there was an unusual noise which I attributed to the keyboard's music until buddy Martha suggested I take a look out the tall clear glass chapel windows... 

There perched on a very high branch was a large vocal hawk. During the service the hawk only moved once and it was onto a lower branch possibly not only for him to see us but maybe more importantly for the congregation to see him.

Now we have hawks in the End of the Rainbow Valley but they usually move on if humans are around.  I am not  a superstitious type but I figured this had to be an sign/omen of some sort so I googled the meaning of a hawk's unexpected presence. 

"The hawk happens to be a messenger bird. Usually when we see a hawk it means to pay attention because a message is coming to you. Hawks represent clear sightedness, being observant, our far memory and guardianship. They also bring courage, wisdom, illumination, creativity and truth. Hawks give us the ability to see the larger picture in life. They can help you to overcome problems and make wise use of opportunities. How does this all happen? Each animal carries what we call ‘medicine'. When the same animal keeps coming to you in real life or in a dream, it is bringing its medicine to you. You will be brought a message soon, a good one, to let you know you are on the right path. And whatever problems you are wrestling with, you will solve because hawk's medicine has been given to you."  Traditional Shawnee (American Indian) 

For all of us who experienced its presence, may we all choose the path that is right for us. Thanks Mrs. Rosen for sending us the hawk...  

Have you had a similar experience with a creature/ person? We'd love to hear about it with a pic no less.. Whenever you get around to it is fine. It can always be added.

Last week's topic was:FOTO FRIDAY NOSTALGIA
Do you have any photos to add?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Honor Your Father

As the Cohen family understands the legacy bestowed upon them by patriarch Sonny Cohen who passed away earlier this year, the Cohen siblings organized a fundraising gala honoring the memory of  their father and all the men of their Little Rock congregation in Little Rock this past Father's Day. 

Perry, one of Sonny's sons, spearheaded the sit down hearty dinner for the 80 attendees continuing his Dad's kitchen presence for a synagogue function. Warm words were shared by congregational leaders and piano music was played by mishpocha (extended family). "Happy Feet" an original song was quite apropos for the podiatrist who served both his civic and religious communities for over 60 years.

All the Cohen grandchildren led the meal's blessing and also added heimlichkeit and humor to the evening with the following additions. 

Quinton and Marshall Cohen
"It’s Father’s Day, we all have honored our dad’s with gifts, cards and well wishes…let’s talk about what he has given us…

He has held our hands, touched our hearts and given us advice.
He has given us head slaps, looks over the top of his glasses, and stern warning of what was going to happen when our mom got ahold of us.
He has taught us how to ride a bike, how to watch sports and show sportsmanship, we have taught him the rules of soccer and how to use the cool features on the TV remote.
Most importantly he has given us his NAME.
It is with mixed feelings when we are asked “are you Jerry Cohen’s boy”… such as
Fear when there are blue lights in the rearview mirror,
Pride when we are in a class and the teacher says they expect great things.
It is with great pride that we carry the name of our father and grandfather.
This name is not without dings, mistakes or tarnish.  It has held through the years.  
It has appeared on boards of directors, office plaques and certificates. 
 It has been passed down generation to generation and given to us to carry on.
As we age we have learned that all we have to pass on to our children is or name so we must guard and protect it.
Cohen… the high priest important, but more important is the integrity of the men that have carried this name before me.
Happy Father’s Day to the Cohen men and the men of the synagogue."

Then grandsons Charlie and William added:

"Growing up the men of the synagogue were always present. From Saturday mornings
To Men’s club picnics,
From the Jewish food fest to the Purim carnival, the Men of the synagogue have been a constant presence in our lives. 
So today in honor of our Grandfather, and all of the other great men who have served as our role models as we have grown up, 
We have decided to share all of the things the Men of the synagogue have taught us over the years. 
The men of the synagogue taught us how to sit in services quietly,
And how to sneak out of services quietly,
They taught us how to always pay attention,
Especially during the Rabbis sermon.
They taught us how to sing all of the songs,
And they taught us how to always be perfectly on key.
They taught us how to properly do an egg toss,
And how to properly smoke a cigar,
They taught us what a community really is,
And showed us that it often involves some shouting,
They taught us how to always helpful,
And how to hide when we didn’t want to be. 
They taught us how to read Hebrew,
Or at least pretend to.
They taught us how to fight through the tough times,
And to enjoy through the good ones,
They taught us what it means to always be there for a community,
And they taught us that this community is more than just friends,
It’s a family.
So as we celebrate the memory of our grandfather,
 And think back to the many lessons we have learned over the years,
 We both agreed,
That the most important lesson the synagogue taught us over the years is,
What it is to be a mensch."

As Leaine, Sonny's wife, said to me afterwards, "Sonny would have loved to have been present to hear their words." Personally I know he knew he was leaving a legacy. Sonny's children's efforts helped raise over $20,000 for their congregation. 
       May we always remember to Honor our Fathers.

Matriarch Leaine Cohen surrounded by her grandchildren
Top row grandsons L to R: Matt, Charlie, William, Marshall and Quinton
Bottom row granddaughters Lto R: Elizabeth and Becky
(photo courtesy of David Lewis)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In Stitches

It's always wonderful to share art with a buddy and high school friend Chris appreciates an artist's labor and love of craft as much as I.

We wisely used our Saturday afternoon to attend the 46th Annual NQA Quilt Show 2015 down by the riverside in Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. And boy did we get our money's worth in eye candy!

A rainbow of colors filled the once boring hall space. There were all sizes of quilts- large, medium and small in categories of Pieced, Appliqu├ęd, Mixed Technique, Duet, Pictorial, Naturescape, Art/ Innovative, Scrap, Group, Chapter Row, Modern and Other.

Four special exhibits were our first stop. 

The Hoffman Challenge: A  U.S. traveling exhibit to shows, seminars, and quilt shops. Hundreds of participants rise to this challenge.

Route 66: 56 quilts of famous landmarks along the 8 state highway.  Picture below are a couple of my favorites.

50 Shades of Gray: Neutral grays were used in the quilt's design  

Rainbow's Edge: Gold Coast quilters Guild challenged the utili-zation12"x12" squares were on a black panel using 2/5 assigned colors with different techniques.

There were so many gorgeous labor intensive quilts in this juried art show. I have included some of my favorites below:

One Cake , Two Cake, Red Cake , Blue Cake
 450 knotted loops added to binding for a festive effect

Digitally enhanced sunflower

Authentic Turkish designs

Hanging Gardens, 4 quilt shops in 4 states gave participants
4- 2 1/2" strips for their quilts
"My Version of a Persian," entirely hand made and of silk
'Cat Crazy,' hand dyed wool as well as commercial wool

Spool inspired design after visit to a quilt shop
Personally I'd take any of these... hey, it matches my skorts..
I didn't go home empty handed as the little star quilt below will go back with me to the End of the Rainbow Valley. Both Chris and I 'won' 12"X12" quilted squares in the silent auction which will always remind us of the special afternoon we spent enjoying beautiful quilts...

Monday, June 22, 2015

30 Americans

One of our Father's Day activities will always remain extra special to me as my Father, brother Marc and I visited the last day of the Arkansas Arts Center's exhibit 30 Americans by "many of the most important African American artists of the last four decades featuring works by such early and influential artists as Barkley L. Hendricks, Robert Colescott and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and those of younger and emerging artists, like Kehinde Wiley, Wangechi Mutu, and Shinique Smith. Often provocative and challenging, 30 Americans explores what it means to be a contemporary artist and an African American today and gives insight to the viewer of both their cultural identity and artistic legacy. "
Courtesy of the AAC's web page
This 41- piece exhibit of "paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, digital videos and photographs is a part of the Mera and Don Rubell Collections, one of the largest private collections of contemporary art in the world, currently being housed in a 45,000 square foot former DEA warehouse-turned-museum in Miami, Florida." 

Our docent had us study an art piece first, reflect and share our interpretations with our group. It was powerful indeed as we explored together issues of race, gender sexuality, politics and history. 

We were allowed to take photos without flash and I'm so glad to be able to share some of these with you. You can perhaps imagine our discussions.

 If 30 Americans comes your way, you definitely need to go...

Take a listen to Hanging Fruit: Billie Holiday's song depicted in the metal sculpture of a silver teapot encapsulated by tree branches.