Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Memory, Mourning & Most Importantly Remembering...

Beth Marzoni, an Assistant Professor of English at Viterbo University, participated in the lecture series of Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 with her poetry presentation of Suite for Retrospective, Poems after Doris Salcedo.  

Profe Marzoni implemented Ekphrasis, "a literary description of or commentary on a visual work." So we were introduced to both the powerful art of Doris Salcedo and the poetry it inspired Marzoni to write. 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Doris Salcedo is a Colombian born sculptor deals with her life experiences transforming household items like chairs, tables, roses, to represent the murdered, los desaparecidos, those that literally 'disappeared' both during the Colombian Civil War and drug war years into her installations.

(Do forgive the quality of the following photos as they are taken from Marzoni's power point screen presentation)

In this installation Salcedo slowly lowered one chair at a time from the Palacio de Justicia's roof to commemorate the exact time a 100 people were killed.  

220,000 Colombians lost their lives during the Civil War years.

Impaled shirts and empty cots represent Colombians murdered who will never need nor use these common day items again.

The emptiness of the placement of the piece also moved me ...

In another installation roses lined 4.5 km from the homes of the deceased to where they were murdered by the military. The inverted rose placement was to create questions, not answers.
While listening to Marzoni's poem and viewing Atrabiliarios, sheepskin covered niches containing both single and pairs of shoes, thread stitches and the skin covered stacked boxes, I was so touched that   tears streamed down my face. 

Senseless war and death portrayed by combined destroyed tables, human hair and a gauze like fabric help the viewer remember the devastation of hatred and the loss it leaves behind. It is our responsibility to remember.

Shibboleth, a crack extending the entire length of the London's Tate's museum hall floor "representing borders, the experience of immigrants, the experience of segregation, the experience of racial hatred. It is the experience of a Third World person coming into the heart of Europe,"and may I add, our country the United States of America. 
Let us never forget why people have to leave their beloved homes... 

Thank you Prof. Marzoni for sharing your yet unpublished works and the work that inspired them. Political Art serves a great service to us all as we all become witnesses to their testimony.

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Big, Round & White

The Moon actually had some competition here in the End of the Rainbow Valley on Sunday as Natureman has anxiously been visually scouring the hillside for our own 'terrestrially' moons.

Natureman's newest title
"Puff Ball Boy" 
Heading out with a plastic grocery bag our hunter and gatherer, Natureman, returned home within 15 minutes. I looked up from my Sunday Morning TV program and asked if anything was wrong and why he was back so soon. He blurted out, "Look what I found," as he emptied his cache load onto the kitchen island. "You've got to be kidding," I exclaimed. Natureman had certainly found some Puff Ball mushrooms.

Definitely more mushroom than needed so we shared one with our gastronomic appreciative neighbor, Patrick, who proceeded to post his Puff Ball mushroom on FaceBook labeling it as a "beautiful Calvatia gigantea (giant Puff Ball)  14" x 8.5" +/-. Weighed in at 4.5 lbs. Tasty!! Plentiful, über fresh. Looks like mozzarella or Wonder Bread but tastes better!"

Dehydrator shelves filled
Dried Puff Ball slices less than half the size they previously were
Seriously, take a look at my first attempt dehydrating Puff Balls. 
Here's just one tray of slices after dehydrating. Light as a feather.

All that mushroom fit into 5-qt packages. 
Pretty remarkable, isn't it? 
This winter there'll be plenty of mushrooms for soups/whatever recipe. Just need to soak a bit in water to rehydrate and VOILA Puff Ball mushrooms.

The important thing about mushroom hunting is knowing your mushrooms. Here's a youtube link should you want to know more about the Puff Ball variety: PUFF BALLS

Super Blood Moon

Okay, I was P.O.ed when plans changed for Sunday night and we wouldn't be home in the End of the Rainbow Valley when the eclipse occurred.  You see unlike past years with unusual eclipses this time we had been blessed by a gorgeous weekend with very little cloud coverage and the moon would be visible. We were going to be "in" town with all its light pollution; street lights blaring, telephone wires, car headlights, etc... Yeah, we are spoiled living out in the country.

For all of time man has been fascinated with the moon and tonight proved no different but I have to admit it proved to be 'more' special to be with people in a neighborhood.

Folks actually came out of their homes to witness the Blood Moon. All up and down the city street pockets of people were oohing and awing the moon in all its glory.

The moon appeared some 14% larger than usual due to it being closer to earth and a total lunar eclipse occurring at that same time to produce the rare Super Blood Moon, a phenomena which has only occurred 5x since 1900. And red it was like the terra-cotta red of the southwestern dessert. If I have ever longed for a super power camera lens, last night would have been it. 

As Natureman promised when we returned home awaiting us was  a sky full of stars amidst the giant moon. Spectacular. A local owl's hooting as I write this entry along with the chirping of the last of the crickets. It dawns on me if I'm
still on this earth the next time a Super Blood Moon occurs, I will be older than my Father who is 90. Wow not older than the Moon but pretty dang close... 

Friday, September 25, 2015


 FOTO FRIDAY this week is the result of discovering a new plant I had bought earlier this summer that finally had a growth spurt. The funny thing is I just might have to been bring it inside due to cold in order to enjoy the fruits of its labor.

Some of you may recognize it. ???

My late blooming tomatillo plant...
Aren't they the cutest?  
This End of the Rainbow Valley gal's beyond excited. Usually I have to buy these to make my chicken pozole. It's a variety of tomato called a tomatillo. The small green tomato grows within this lantern-like encasing  Too cool.  

Marianne in St. Louis took a small cutting from her rubber tree plant and it is doing really well after just 3 months.

Dee has a jade plant taking root. I am not sure if her plants have another gardener taking care of it...

Jennifer was spending some time in the Riverside International Gardens this past weekend and shared this new hydrangea bloom. The unseasonable mild 70 degree September days are short lived as 37 degrees is predicted midweek. Meanwhile we will enjoy these late bloomers.

Some things are just late bloomers. I can relate. Can you? Any photos to share? Just send them my way and they can be included at any time...


Thursday, September 24, 2015

No Soy Racista...I Am NOT Racist

As part of Hispanic Heritage month one of my favorite UW-L lecturers, Prof. Hibbert, a social anthropologist, presented  her sabbatical research on racism on the island of Dominican Republic-Haiti entitled : No Soy Racista, I'm not Racist. Structural conflict has existed due to both historic, economic and environmental circumstances ( an earthquake and 8 hurricanes wreak a lot of havoc).

How long does a person have to live in a country to be a citizen? Sound familiar? The citizenship rules keep changing and where once a child born of Haitian parents in the D.R. was considered a native, this has now changed with a new law.  There is no rhyme/reason why so few/who now is granted citizenship. * (Visually skin color doesn't distinguish Dominicans from Haitians as one's socio economic status determines one's skin tone designation- a topic for another day. )

Anyhow Dr. Hibbert's year research along the northern border in the Dominican Republic dealt with one specific cultural Dominican location, the 'colmado' the neighborhood corner grocery store where clients buy on credit (fiao). These small stores resemble mini markets like our Qwik Trips/ 24/7s without gas. Prepared food is sold and are also a social meeting place. 

The research was based on interviews, observation and past studies of the colmado's operation and who is considered a good customer.

Shopkeepers keep a book as to the purchases as it's the custom to run a tab. The system is based on 3 types of customer regardless of their nationality:
1. Gente responsable, responsible people, those with jobs who pay off their tab as they receive their pay checks. It is never paid off all at once. 
2. Regalo, a gift, the client has no income and no possible means of paying off the tab. (i.e.: a single mother who needs diapers/formula for her baby) The shopkeeper doesn't even record these purchases and is even called Mami (mother of humanity)
3. The customer who doesn't have consistent work but either has family/a friend who is 'gente responsable.' Their 'fiao' is placed on this gente responsable's tab. (For you skeptics due to the  relationship these tabs are paid down.)

Studies showed that racism didn't factor into this interaction of who gets credit but rather on reputation. These transactions were dependent on trust, judgement and the economy. Many times jobs are tourist dependent and the colmados may even close due to the season and reopen during the tourist season/ go out of business. The colmados also buy on credit from their distributors. So it is a very 'fragile' system. 

Fascinating. Very rarely do we hear of businesses operating like this nowadays in the U.S. and it is not a surprise to hear disbelief that folks who buy on a tab, do pay it off. It is what Dominicans recognize as community. Gee a system built on trust and not greed.
Hmmm, maybe we Westerners could relearn some lessons about humanity and community from what we call Third World countries...

* Dictator Trujillo implemented a pronunciation test to decide who was illegal during his rule. In 2010 D.R. had an immigration problem where a law 169-14 stated any person born in the country of a Haitian parent wasn't a citizen without an ID card/ passport. In 2013 PNRE, a special law gave the opportunity for citizenship but out of 100,000 applicants only some 50 were granted citizenship.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The 3 T's

At sundown on Tuesday, 5776 the holiest day of the year for Jews, Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance, would begin and before heading to services I received an email from Rabbi Winnick in Little Rock. This email contained words of wisdom regarding changes we could start making before this day of soul cleansing. My thought was why not share these universal concepts?

Teshuva תשובה/ Repentance

May we already be sincerely evaluating our behavior: our ethics as well as our spiritual devotion; our deeds, our words and our thoughts. To err is human; to admit and improve upon it is to connect with the Divine.
Let us say we are sorry even before it is demanded - sorry to those we hurt, sorry to G-d and sorry even to ourselves. Forgiveness is often available, but not before regret and sincerely repentance.

If I have offended/hurt you with my words or actions this past year, please accept my apologies.

Tefila תפילה / Prayer

Ps 20:10 “G-d answers us on the day we call out”. Let us seek “early admission” into the gates of Heaven by opening our souls and mouths in prayer before Yom Kippur. Let our prayers be better than those of the mahzor ( prayer book) because we will say them in a language we understand; let it be better than in the synagogue because we are active and not passive; let us express our confession and our regret; our willingness to accept just consequences, but our sincere commitment that we will do better if graciously given another chance.

And let our prayers - our calling out -  not be only for ourselves. Let us pray for those in need of healing and comfort and direction. Let us pray for our children - for them to be safe and blessed and connected with G-d.

Since it is customary on the afternoon before Yom Kippur for parents to bless their children (of any age)  with the same blessing as they bless them each Shabbat (Sabbath) - that same blessing which the Priests bless the Jewish People:

May G-d bless you and keep you;
May G-d make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you;
May G-d lift up His face to you and grant you peace.
So even though miles separate me from my children and 'bonus' children and grandchildren, I repeated this prayer.
Tzedakah צדקה / Charity

Not as a bribe, but as a show of good acts and good faith, let each of us dig deeper into our souls and deeper into our pockets to give to those in financial need. Remember in advance that our very lives - physical and spiritual - are on the line and that none of us can “take it (our money) with us when we go.” So before Yom Kippur, let us show we have the right priorities with open hearts and open purse-strings.
This past weekend a neighbor with early Alzheimer's and his family & friends were participating in a walk to bring awareness to his disease and working towards raising monies for Alzheimer's research - an opportunity presented itself where I was able to help them reach their monetary goal.

So, I was reminded as in any special calendar day, one doesn't have to wait to reflect, repent, pray/bless and give charity. We can start any time.

May we all take the time to spiritually cleanse ourselves more often... it's never too early.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Still Processing... and not the Fact Walker's Withdrawing from the Presidential Race

Last week was chock full with the holidays followed by a Bar Mitzvah, dinner with neighbors and the Driftless Art Festival during the weekend which meant a lot of eating and definitely not leaving much time
to accomplish much at home.  

The eggplant, swiss chard,  and squash still needed to be harvested with our first frost not far off. 

This was only 3 plants worth.
It was a glorious day to be outside. I even used the excuse to stay out on the front porch to derib the chard before blanching, then chopping it for bagging and freezing.

Of course I had to leave out some for dinner what could be more perfect for dinner than a eggplant lasagna? 

Eggplant strips replaced noodles and the swiss chard became the spinach suggestion along with End of the Rainbow Valley spaghetti sauce, morel mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes.
Here's the recipe link although ours was made without meat:
Eggplant lasagna

There's a lot of squash in our future meals...

And another bit of good news is there's one less rotten tomato that won't be stinking up the nation. Sorry Koch brothers  the money you purchased Walker's campaign with is non refundable. Seriously, think of all the food you could have bought for the poor... 900 million dollars worth is a lot of vegetables...

Friday, September 18, 2015

FOTO FRIDAY:Driftless Art

FOTO FRIDAY this week is to remind folks to get outside this weekend to enjoy of one of the best juried art shows in our region The 11th Driftless Art Festival in Soldiers Grove on Saturday (10-5) and Sunday (10-4) where one can enjoy 80 visual, culinary and musical artists. Playing Saturday are Maritza and Patchouli while Sunday there will be The Roddys and Joe and Vicki Price.

Gourd Art inspired and taught by Terri Schmit
The venue is small enough to be able to visit with the artists. This is where I was turned on to Gourd Art and met the artist Terri Schmit who even came to the End of the Rainbow Valley to give a couple classes.

The kids at the Driftless even get to do art projects like painting pumpkins etc... and vote for their favorite artist. Nothing better than to introduce kids to art early. Last year the kids chose Hans Gill and I can't blame them, can you?

Hans Gill's photo courtesy of FB
Entrance is free at the Driftless Art Festival. What a gift.

I've also included a weekend schedule of all the other events going on in the area below. There's a fall crispness already in the air so get out and enjoy it.

• Viroqua Farmers Market
• Prairie Street Farmers Market in Prairie du Chien.
• Cannons at the Fort in Prairie du Chien. This is a popular living history event. Historic interpreters present life in Prairie du Chien from the time of the fur trade through the Civil War with Native American storytelling, craft demonstrations, and musket and cannon firing. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen at the Villa Louis Historic Site in Prairie du Chien (Saturday @ 8:30 am – 1:00 pm)
• 2nd Annual Driftless Outdoor Fall Festival in Ontario. Experience a canoe race down the Kickapoo River, bike ride through the hills and valleys, and a whitetail deer classic. There will also be music in the evening for everyone to enjoy.
•  Ferryville Fall Fest including a farmer’s market and Amish goods.
• The Harvest Costume Charity Ball at Kickapoo Stump Dodger Campground in Gays Mills (Saturday evening)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hispanic Heritage Month

Wednesday various community groups gathered at Viterbo University to welcome Hispanic Heritage Month, speak about how their groups are resources for the Latino population in our region and to network. 

While during this same evening Republican candidates debated and lambasted immigrants seeing Immigration as a problem, we in the community are working as resources for those who have fled inhumane living conditions taking whatever jobs they can to support their families. Let us also not forget our country's political involvement in other countries's government and economic affairs which caused much of this exodus. 

Jesus Jambrina, organizer of the evening, expected three/four organizations to be present, yet some 11 community groups were represented including: AMOS Immigration TASK Force, Latin American Studies programs at both city universities, UW-L and Viterbo in addition to their student participation in G.A.T.E. (Global Awareness Through Experience) and the community's Global Partners through Gundersen Hospitals, area Catholic Charities both in La Crosse and neighboring Sparta with resources for health, food, clothing, housing, language services, legal aid, etc... the recently formed Centro Latino Community Center working to alleviate specific needs including English as a Second Language and identification of newly arrived,
Viterbo prof  puts her class to work interpreting the program candidates's mission

Viterbo University Interpreting Program (photo above), a regional program Connecting Students, Professionals and Communities to Health Careers and also a task force for Driver's ID legislation for the undocumented.

The fact is we are a nation of immigrants and we need to address these populations's issues of which the Latino population is our largest minority, not demonize the immigrant.

Maybe one day we won't have to have 'months' to specifically celebrate diversity but in the meanwhile here's a youtube video to educate the general population: I'm Latino but I am not...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Higher Than a Kite

Some folks have taken kite flying to a new level and it is plain awesome.  Last weekend Milwaukee's Veteran Park was the site for the 37th annual Maggiano Frank Mots International Kite Flying Festival and it was free for the public thanks to numerous sponsors.
At noon the national anthem played and 75 new Navy sailors were sworn in while a U.S. kite flag flew overhead.  Then, all those with kites were invited onto the field while 'Let's Go Fly a Kite' played over the loud speakers. (*my video below)

The nationally reknowned  2 line kite flying team champions,  Chicago Fire Kites, performed their choreographed routines. Somehow they don't get all tangled up...

 How in the world do their members not trip all over each other and remember all the moves for the various routines? Some 6 other kites teams also performed with popular and classical music. Canadians, Midwesterners, Californians, etc... Charlie Chaplin even had a routine.

There was the grace and poise of ballet like moves by the duo Pittman team. 

Duo team of Castel & Carol Pittman
Kites kissing.

Anxiously awaiting the second dropping
of candy from above
Kids rush for the candy drop from a kite above
there were kid activities for  candy drops and t-shirts and a competition to fly self assembled kites. 

Aggie holds onto the Maggiano box kite
Cleo swims overhead.

My filming of Let's Go Fly a Kite
So much fun on a gorgeous September days at Milwaukee's waterfront.

Enjoy these youtube clips:
A Canadian Dream Team featured the SUPER GIANT   Octopus
Connor: America's Got Talent
Too Much Fun from the west coast
Chicago Kite Fire (older clip) 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Modern Rebels

LIFE imitating ART
The Milwaukee Museum of Art was in all its glory Saturday with magnificent blue skies and rolling clouds as a regatta on Lake Michigan provided the perfect backdrop of Calatrava's sculptural setting for its exhibit :
Van Gogh to Pollock:
Modern Rebels,
Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.  

Hopefully you won't miss seeing 68 of the 19th century's biggest Modernists. The exhibit will close this Sunday, the 20th of September. Treat yourself as "this survey offers one of the most cohesive and beautiful representations of modern art, a movement of constant rebellion against the past and invention of the new."

My favorite female modernist, Frieda Kahlo, was being discussed by a docent and her group of littles.

AND... there's plenty of eye candy for the older visitor to experience too...

Henri Matisse- La Musique, 1939

Alberto Giacometti's Man Walking
Helen Frankenthaler
one of the Color Field painters


So, rush on over if you're nearby/ planning on being in the  Milwaukee area this week, you definitely don't want to miss seeing these 70 modernist works all in one exhibit.