Friday, April 29, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY: What's the hurry?

Slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last ...

You can't be in a hurry on a curvy county highway. Many days we find ourselves behind an Amish buggy and the speed limit is not the issue... 

What's your least favorite thing to be stuck behind on the road?
log trucks- Kaye
snow plow- Marti
slow moving motorhomes...oh wait...that's us  Cheryl


Thursday, April 28, 2016


Have you ever heard that sometimes a little action can make a big difference? Take for instance the Red Nose day on May 26th this year sponsored by Walgreen's for 'Child Poverty.' By purchasing a red nose for a dollar, these monies will go towards helping fight child poverty. A noble cause indeed to bring attention to a world problem even in the U.S.

Remember the movie "Patch Adams" with Robin Williams where he is a child oncologist and he brings so much joy to his young patients while donning his bulbous red nose? 

OK, it seemed a 'no brainer' to definitely support this fundraiser  and I purchased red noses for both my book group, the Happy Bookers, and the Jazzercise girls. Ok, some gals were a bit reluctant to don their noses for a public photo but even some of the nay sayers got into it after realizing how most folks were game. That good ole peer pressure. Their demeanor certainly changed as they saw each other. One can not help smile at someone wearing a red nose.

The Happy Bookers were indeed happy donning their red noses even after reading a pretty depressing book this month...

And even my Jazzercise class registrars greeted everyone wearing their red noses, one month before Walgreen's official red nose day this week.

And the class did pose for a pic with their jazz hands...

Walgreen's intention is a sincere endeavor for sure. Yet, it was none other than my Natureman who made a valid point stating that women poverty needed to be eradicated in order to help this phenomena of even the richest country in the world.  SO he asks me the question of what do women working at Walgreen's earn. I had no clue so of course I googled it. The 'average' customer sales associate earns $8.35/hr and the majority of sales associates if you've noticed are women. WOW, I guess that 's no laughing matter even if you have a Red Nose on.
What you may/may not realize is to earn a 'living' wage of $30,000/ yr an employee would need to earn $15.00/hr.  Yep. Try feeding a family of four on even the 30,000. So maybe Walgreen's should pay a minimum wage to help their employees live above poverty level and their children won't have to live in poverty...

Sure we can help support fighting poverty by buying noses and perhaps businesses like Walgreens could also make sure their employees receive the wages they deserve to live above the poverty level. It's really no laughing matter Red Nose or Not. Maybe you could mention that to their store management as you buy your Red Nose... It couldn't hurt. In fact I bet the sales associate who got you their manager probably would be wearing a big smile themselves.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Charmer busted again.
Many of you may have had the same challenge our family is facing with my 90 year old Dad. In fact, we actually thought our problem was resolved when after Dad's return home from rehab, we discovered his driving license had indeed expired over 6 months before.  Our prayers had been answered/so we thought.

When my brother had to renew his car plates, my Dad fessed up about his driver license's expiration. So Dad went along to renew his own driver license. First, he was asked as to the lapse in renewal. His response: His wife had passed away and he had been ill and in the hospital. (True statements but he didn't add he was driving around with an expired license 2 months before either of those events) 
PASS - sympathy points.

The next task was to look into the peripheral blinking light monitor and tell what he saw. His response was he saw nothing.  The DMV employee suggests moving closer, removing his hat/ the possibility of the correct glasses?" Then he prompts, "Don't you  see the flashing lights? "Oh yes, quips my father, "I see flashing lights."

Remember the vision test with the letters decreasing in size in each line. Dad asks what he is supposed to read. He proceeds to read each letter incorrectly. The clerk excuses himself for a minute. Returns, forgets where he was and asks my Dad what's at the end of the line. Maybe he hasn't heard correctly so the clerk adds, " The number  8?
"Yes, there's an 8 at the end of the row."

This 90 year old walks out of the DMV with his renewed driver's license. I would like to wring the employee's neck. For whom has he done a favor? How dare he stick an elderly person back on the road when he didn't pass any of the markers AND without requiring him to take a road test when they would have find out his arm mobility was not the same as the last time he drove. A torn rotator cuff can do that to you.

These past 2 months my poor in town brother has been the keeper of the car keys in order to keep the streets safe and get our Dad in tact to his granddaughter's wedding in a little over two weeks. We all owe Marc a great deal of gratitude for keeping Dad off the streets. Hopefully there will be many practice sessions and no night/ bad weather driving. 

Arkansans consider yourselves forewarned after May 9th... 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


We finally got to see SPOTLIGHT, the powerful Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. It is definitely a 'must see' starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d'Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup. What a terrific cast and I don't think it was even in town here two weeks so we had missed it!

Thank heavens the Boston Globe was brave enough under its new editor Marty Baron in 2001 to release serious investigative reporting regarding the cover up of improprieties of 6% of Boston's Priests regarding child molestation. In Boston alone there were1000 victims. Cardinal Law (Archbishop of Boston) ignored the knowledge of the guilty priests who were transferred to different parishes for over 30 years. Imagine eventually the Cardinal was not only transferred but promoted to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

It is a shocking true story whose scandals were/have been repeated world wide. Put this on your viewing list if you also have missed seeing it.

Monday, April 25, 2016


This past Wednesday I was invited to join a friend's table at a fundraiser luncheon for YWCA's Circle of Friends held at the La Crosse Center's Ballroom. 

The YWCA does amazing work and this past year served 144 children in childcare, 66 abused children, 32 homeless Mothers & Children, giving 62 women a second chance with self sufficiency and a new start, 37 middle school children trained as peer facilitators , 94 girls, children teens,with mentoring, truancy intervention and weekly groups, 66 women with employment and 100+ agents of change addressing racism and social justice.

A very comprehensive program was at each table's  seat although time didn't really permit reading it until I returned home. The majority of the following information is directly from that program.

The YWCA La Crosse has been serving the most vulnerable women and children in the community since the early 1900's with programs  concerned with mentoring and advocacy, economic empowerment, racial and social justice and supportive housing. Many times programs are begun under the auspices of the Y and then take over by other organizations. 

Present Programs are pretty self explanatory but include:
YWCA Employment Readiness
 WE Shine- paid stipend enhancing resumes & future employment
 YWCA Child Center
 Bridges- mentoring at risk 15-18 yr old girls and weekly meetings
Teen Lead-professional women's insights to high school juniors
YWCA Transition Housing- subsidized housing
YWCA Ruth House- emergency shelter
Truancy Invention
Ophelia's House- keeping non violent female offenders out of jail
*YWCA CASA for Kids
*Justice Circles

*The last two programs were highlighted during lunch.

CASA for Kids (Court Appointed Special Advocates)has three primary goals: safety, permanence and well being. A child with A CASA for Kids volunteer is half as likely to re-enter foster care. We heard one mentor's heartfelt story of 6 years with one little fellow. He and many others are very lucky to have these volunteers as mentors and advocates.

Justice Circles  tackles La Crosse County's disproportionate minority contact of juveniles with the justice system. Minority juveniles are 9x more likely to be arrested than white youth. and 57% of arrests are made at area schools. One high school and middle school have this alternative discipline model to keep students in school and out of the justice system by training students to facilitate restorative circles.

Cindy Ericksen , awardee for Emily Hutson Award
Two special awards were also  presented during the hour, one  for volunteerism and the other for philanthropy. 
The first: The Emily 'Sis' Hutson Award was given to Cindy Ericksen for her endless dedication and the second the Olga Schleiter Philanthropic Award was to Dan Stacey whose business was the luncheon's major sponsor and whose endeavors among others started APRIL, adaptive skiing for those with handicaps. 

The luncheon's goal was to raise $25,000. A projected fundraising thermometer kept climbing during the donation time and over $18,000 was raised during the noon hour from table's individuals using their cell phones/ making out checks. 

Whether you have the time/monies, both are always accepted to keep good programs like the YWCA going. 

Friday, April 22, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY this week is extra special as it concerns a very important part of our family, Romeo, our dog who after going missing for 24 hours was finally found. So you are getting more of a story than just the final photo for this Friday.

As Natureman departed for a meeting and I returned from town, we exchanged words near the mail box.  He asked how I was doing and I replied, "sad." He informed me in my absence he had continued the search spending the late morning looking for Romeo, all for naught. :(

After I returned to the house I was about to grab a bite when I heard an unusual noise from outside. The chickens tend to make quite a ruckus as they lay their eggs but this sounded different. I opened the sliding door and stepped out to check if I could decipher the noise. There it was again, it was the longest, most pitiful howl I'd ever heard, like an animal in distress and then there was a bark. It was  Romeo!

I started out down the road and stopped in my tracks as the realization hit that it'd be smarter to have the car as close as possible to wherever I would climb as he obviously was injured. I got in the car, opened the windows and drove off down around the bend listening for another howl but it was not as clear. Obviously I had gone too far, so I backed up until it was clearer and stopped the car.  After  fighting the brambles up the opposite side of the End of the Rainbow Valley's bowl toward's the neighbor's corn field, another howl rang out. But the sounds were not coming from in front of me, but from behind me. Noise reverberates in a valley and it's easy to misjudge. Back down I scurried, yelling to Romeo I was coming. 

Hole behind center tree- House on top of hill(R)
Crossing the road I looked towards the middle of the hill about a 150 ft below the house awaiting another howl/bark. I still couldn't see him but I must be getting closer. 

After climbing the hillside following the now whimpering, eventually I saw the small hole in the hillside. I scrambled towards it. There awaiting my discovery was the saddest mud caked snout and eyes belonging to Romeo.

 He had fallen into a small den and was stuck. The hole's opening narrowed the further back it went. He was wedged in rear towards the back and couldn't move.

*The photo to the right shows its size better as I later returned with Natureman to show him where I had found Romeo. His boot gives one a better idea of the hole size.

Any how, back to Romeo's rescue. I reached in, pulling his front legs from behind his, well, I'll call them armpits outstretching his paws forward. Then I leaned into the small hole reaching to collapse his semi extended rear legs, this time grabbing behind his haunches pulling his rear torso slowly towards the opening. Finally, he was out and free but as he attempted to stand to relieve himself, his rear legs buckled as he couldn't hold his weight. He had to be carried down to the car.  Some adrenaline must have been rushing as I didn't think twice about lifting the 70 pound dog. Numerous stops were necessary before we reached the road and the parked car. I was determined.

Before anything else, we needed to head back to the house. Besides needing to make a call to make sure the mobile vet had office hours, it dawned on me I had left a dozen eggs boiling on the stove.  Can you imagine the stink that could have been awaiting my return? First things first though, poor Romeo needed water. He must be dehydrated, right? But he was too stressed to even go for a drink. I  hand cupped his water for him. 

Of course, the vet call was almost fruitless as only a recording at the vet's stated a return call would ensue. They were open but I couldn't wait for the return call. Off we went.

Fortunately, a full checkup found Romeo's vitals good but traumatized, his injuries more arthritic from being cramped in the small space. The vet sent us home with  anti-inflammatory meds, antibiotics and extra pain relievers in case of continued distress. Romeo was home safe albeit being a very exhausted pooch. 

He's not the only one sleeping better... Thanks for all your positive wishes. Romeo's back home in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

Has one of your pets ever gotten in such a predicament? Do share.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


I have an aching in my stomach as this afternoon our dog Romeo didn't return home.  He greeted me as I parked after returning from a luncheon in town and I rubbed his head and gave him a pat. I uttered my usual "How are you doing, Buddy?" and carried my stuff inside and haven't see him since. No scratching at the door to come in.

The Crawford County Humane Society foster home wisely gave him his name of Romeo, yet, we weren't sure if it was chosen because he was a lover/ that he roamed/ both. Even when he roamed, he always came home...

Romeo's snout had turned white
Living in the End of the Rainbow Valley gave him a lot of space to roam our 44 acres and onto others's land if he caught a good scent. He might have gotten caught in someone's trap/ in a briar patch. The creek that borders our property has risen and its waters are moving very quickly. He could have even  fallen in... We don't know.

I called and called his name throughout the afternoon and even drove the car in desperation while it was still light calling his name up and down our 2 mile lane and up to the highway.

Romeo's been gone 9 hours now as I write this. It's dark and we have had a couple of rain showers throughout the afternoon. Romeo hates thunderstorms but these were just light rains. My hope was that he took refuge somewhere to kept dry/warm. But why hasn't he come home?

Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo? 

I can only think the worst and appreciate the great companion he has been for the past 12 years. Guarding the livestock and us from coyotes and other critters. He has had his run ins with raccoons, possum, feral cats and of course the occasional skunk. 

Romeo guarding the homestead this past winter.
Romeo had just finished a round of antibiotics fighting off another bout of Lymes and his arthritis has had him spending more and more time inside.  If this is really it and he has left us to go die in the woods, hopefully he went peacefully.  One couldn't have asked for a better companion. I will be still hearing his tapping at the glass doors to be let in for a long, long time. Romeo will certainly be missed here in the End of the Rainbow Valley. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Saturday evening we attended UW-L's 51st International Banquet and although it was a pleasant evening, it fell short of the excitement and chaos of the 12 years we had attended since I had moved to La Crosse. Granted we haven't been able to attend the last couple of years due to calendar conflicts, yet..."If it's not broken, don't fix it" always sounded like good advice to me. Maybe almost 50 years of the International Banquet needed some tweaking but not revamping. The real problem possibly was it was too successful. Everybody wanted to participate.

The last banquet we attended had grown so large that it reached space capacity with some 500 students, faculty and community attending. Long rows of rectangular tables butted ends the entire length of the room with limited space to move in between rows. Different student culture clubs spent hours helping prepare an ethnic dish to be included on the buffet line under the supervision of the kitchen staff. Students even would help serve their countries's dishes. The buffet's international 'smorgasbord' included perhaps almost a dozen and a half dishes, more than could ever fit on one's plate.

A talent show followed dinner that admittedly lasted way too long but was special and diverse. Included within the talent show was even a fashion show, that everybody loved. Gorgeous traditional garb was accompanied by not only explanations but both contemporary and traditional music. Even the evening's dress code exuded cultural pride and the students dressed up nice in either ethnic/ western garb because it was a special evening to showcase and share their cultures. There was excitement in the air.

Flash forward to this year where we entered a quiet room with round tables not filling the entire hall space. Greeters invited us to go to the buffet line before our entire table even had been seated.  Everybody ate at different times. Yes it cut down on long wait lines but every part of the 'past,' long evening encouraged visiting. As for the food now, it was a kitchen staff prepared menu, just 9 'tapa' like dishes which fell short of authenticity and cultural flavor with western interpretation. :(

Truth be told there was one impressive nice community addition as the traditional international flag processional was led by in by the La Crosse and District Pipes and Drums as the campus international students carried in their country flags.

lovely Chinese vocal 
The cultural diversity of the talent leaned toward Asian presentations but maybe they were the only groups who volunteered... AND Talent acts weren't even all university students performing rather a local dance studio performing an Asian dance (?)

Dragon  did join western dance troupe

Western interpretation by local dance studio
and another act were 3 young, (really young) girls from the city's Indian Culture Club. They did a nice job but they weren't university students sharing...

Even the majority of the international students present were from another UW campus  rather than the seats being filling by our own city's students. :(

Yep, disappointed enough for us to depart before the evening was over even though tickets were $25/ per person. We left at 8:30 in-between talent acts compared to previous 10pm departures. I'll stand by that old saying if it's not really broken, don't fix it."

Unless things revert to truly being run by the university students again, we'll be  spending next year's Saturday night International Banquet in the End of the Rainbow Valley wondering if western influence always has to interfere in other cultures...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Every event I  attend lately on UW-L's campus begins with the statement to recognize the land where we are which is Ho-Chunk. To be present at a lecture regarding another culture's presence is even more poignant lest we forget we are all immigrants in this country unless we are Native American. Even better since the evening's attendance overflowed into the adjacent lecture hall with "Islamophobia" being the presentation in UW-L 's Centennial Hall sponsored by the Committee for Social Justice consisting of student, staff and community members.
Social Justice Committee
Ironically our speaker on Islamophobia, Corey Saylor, from CAIR 
(Council of American Islamic Relations) overnighted in the hotel next to where Donald Trump, now renowned for furthering anti Muslim sentiment in our country, was holding his rally the following day. It wasn't that long ago that it was the Jews that were refused entry into the U.S. and now Mr.Trump wants to not allow Muslims entry...

Segway into the evening's topic of Islamophobia, a close minded prejudice/hate of Islam / Muslims. Its four contributors are extremist violent groups (i.e. ISIS), a myopic focus of the media, politicians exploiting fear and the internet in the U.S. 

Saylor cited issues where other minorities have supported the Islamic community and the inverse where the Islamic community has extended a hand to help their American neighbors (i.e.  supplying over 100,000 of clean bottled water for Flint, MI and helping rebuild Black churches...) 

Saylor cites using humor and grace to change negative to positive. operating outside of one's comfort zone, being an optimist, know ing everything is difficult, circulating optimism with pragmatism with the goal of the U.S. living up to its ideals, consulting more than one media source and taking action by being involved in community organizations. 

One such action is the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse now issuing its Statement of Solidarity with the Muslim Community:

"The negative rhetoric and increasing discrimination against Muslims across the United States compels our campus community to reaffirm one of our core values, that of recognizing and embracing “the strength that resides in our human diversity, both culturally and intellectually.”  We are committed to the inclusion and acceptance of people of all religious beliefs. We reject hostility and hateful rhetoric directed at Muslims, and we oppose religious bigotry and racism in all its forms.   
As a campus, our mission is to serve the community “by providing a welcoming environment that facilitates learning opportunities, embraces diversity, and enriches the campus experience.”  As faculty, staff, and students, we are dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for Muslims in and beyond our community. We value the contributions made every day by Muslim faculty, staff, and students at UWL. By cultivating friendships with Muslims and challenging Islamophobia, we renew our commitment to being a community that respects and celebrates different beliefs in our pursuit of knowledge and peace in the 21st century."

Even an institution can take appropriate measures. Poco a poco, (little by little) we can practice humanity. 

If each of us stands up for others even here in the End of the Rainbow Valley, the world will be a better place.

Monday, April 18, 2016


It's been 2 weeks since my fall and time has been a good healer. I am definitely moving much better and my intake of Aleve has diminished. I've heard it may take months for a tail bone to heal.  Avoidance of picking up anything more than a couple of pounds hasn't been easy, but doable. Traveling with the 'Kabootie,' the coccyx designed pillow was a godsend. Also limiting computer time and not sitting any longer than necessary was made easier as my usual traveling companion, the laptop, didn't go to Atlanta and the preceding week off was important so I didn't sit more than necessary. 

On to catch up time.

First, let me share my early Mother's Day gift. The kids treated me with a ticket to see Atlanta's Cirque du Soleil. The last Cirque show I saw was 'Water' in Las Vegas many moons ago. If you haven't seen a Cirque du Soleil show, your eyeballs and senses will all get a workout. 

We grabbed a bite before the show in the adjoining mall so we could park in its ramp and walk to dinner in the adjacent big top for the show. 

We had amazing seats to enjoy the steam punk musical, choreography and costumes of very talented acrobats and jugglers.

 Did you know all their performers must go through training in their corporate head quarters in Montreal? I had just assumed they chose seasoned performers. 

Cirque du Soleil's creators have quite a job in their set designs. The steam punk usage of a train theme kept all enthralled as a miniature track encircled the stage. A giant net like trampoline was erected during intermission. Height for all the acrobatic moves never ceases to amaze the spectators. One act had the same balancing scene upside down from the tent's ceiling. Amazing. Don't worry I won't be trying any of these death defying moves. Heck as I found out I can't even walk down a wet front stoop without falling! :)

This Atlanta Cirque du Soleil show will end the first weekend in May in case you will be in the area. Treat yourself and your family to theater brought to a very different level. 


Monday, April 4, 2016


Actually it was more of a thud when friend Clara opened her front door and found me at the bottom of her front stoop on her sidewalk. It had been a drizzly, windy day and after ringing the bell, I was headed back to wait in the car when my right foot slipped from under me and down I went in slow motion in my mind... Choice words flying out of my mouth with thoughts of please don't let me break anything, my right palm tried to break my fall. The front edge of the last step clipped my lower back as my tail bone took the brunt of the fall onto the brick sidewalk.

"What happened?" she asked. All I could utter was, " I fell, can you get me Aleve?"  I knew I needed an anti-inflammatory quickly before the swelling started. It seemed an eternity before she returned with a welcomed quart size baggie of ice for the pain in my lower back and water to take the pill. I turned on the car's heated seat so my tailbone could also have some relief. Thank goodness Wal-greens wasn't terribly far away. I waited in the car as Clara ran in the store and returned with Arnica gel and tablets to be used for my palm, tail bone and small of my back in addition to the ice pack. 

I am so thankful for many things. First to not have split my head open/ broken anything. Definitely for Clara's care and help, (Arnica definitely helped. Both the pills and gel seem to have kept the bruising to a minimum) Saturday night's dinner arrived with friends Guy and Joan, and to have friend Joan's, a recently retired physical therapist, advice on some good stretching exercises, lifting, standing up and laying down instructions. Walking has helped tremendously.

Heck, there's never a good time to have back issues but it's spring, time to prep the garden.  A lot to do not only here in the End of the Rainbow Valley but also in Atlanta where I am headed this week to supposedly help my daughter with some wedding projects. As I said, bad timing-

Anyhow, add buying a suitcase with wheels and
a special pillow for the traveling. Four hours to Milwaukee in the car before the 2 hour plane trip. 

Today I am feeling my age. Hopefully the recovery be swift... Never a dull moment.

Friday, April 1, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY:  People often ask me how our valley got its name, End of the Rainbow Valley. For those of you have missed that story it actually happened on a day very similar to Thursday with a morning of dreary overcast, misty weather interspersed with rain showers. At the very end of the day, the sun broke through the clouds during a light rain shower. And there appeared a very intense rainbow that from afar looked like it ended right in our valley. 

Well, by the time we left at 7pm last night to pick up friend Jean en route to movie night, the dark clouds blanketed the upper skies creating a horizon, the sun had cast an unusual light upon whatever it hit beneath its glow. There after turning onto Jean's street was a miniature rainbow. It was just three houses in length. Have you ever seen a rainbow that close and little? Above it stretched another much larger rainbow whose ends we couldn't see. It was a double rainbow day, how special!

Here's the small rainbow which was much more intense. 
Left side
Right side

Do you have any rainbow stories /photos you'd like to share?

Carol from the other side of the Mississippi in Minnesota shared her view of last night's rainbow.

Jennifer caught this refracting going on. Kewl, eh?

Travelling buddy Cheryl added to last week's FOTO FRIDAY, did you catch  STUCK UP?