Thursday, June 30, 2016


Tuesday two turkeys decided to head down the End of the Rainbow Valley road at the same time we were but we continued north to our niece Noam's wedding in the Twin Cities to her soulmate Alex.

It was such a joyous occasion. The weather was picture perfect for an outside ceremony under the wedding canopy, the chuppah.  Noam's six siblings, 2 new sister in laws, 1 brother in law, 1 of her triplet nieces, parents, Alex's brother, three Rabbis and a Cantor all shared space holding/ under the large prayer shawl as 200 guests witnessed their acceptance of the wedding vows. 

You just get to see their rings as I  feel a bride should be the one to post her first wedding pic .... We are so blessed to get to see our family growing.

Mazal Tov Alex and Noam and all our best for many more simchas. 
Like our Valley's turkeys enjoy the woods on your honeymoon ...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


We are used to requests to visit the End of the Rainbow Valley which range from escaping the bustling city life, learning about passive solar living, growing/canning one's own food, being organic/a desire to visit our animals. It was the latter for our latest visitors. Unfortunately, no new kids (goats) this year but chicks did arrive last week via the U.S. postal service.

Our local post office gave us a call first thing in the a.m. when they arrived. The post man added, "they were talking to him." We picked them up ASAP as the chicks are mailed from their hatchery the day after they hatch in an aerated box with no food nor water. 

They're plenty hungry and thirsty when they arrive. We had special food and water with vitamins awaiting them. They'll be kept housed in our garage until all their feathers have come in (about 3-4 weeks). Usually we use a large box but this time Natureman got fancy and rigged up four sheets of plywood and a piece of lattice to hang a lamp to keep them warm.

In just a week their tail and wing feathers have already started coming in. Natureman ordered 3 Red Stars, 3 Black Stars, 9 Araucanas and 1 'free' exotic chick courtesy of Murray McMurray Hatchery. They are all good layers, said to have a "good feed conversion ratio."                                   
El gives each of the chicks some attention

When friend Jen was out the other day for a meeting and saw the chicks, she knew her daughter  El (Eliana) would love to come visit. Since El was heading off to out-of-town summer camp soon, we really couldn't wait until after camp since those baby chicks would no longer be chicks but gawky teenagers. They mature very quickly. 

El's definitely an animal lover and comes by it naturally from a Mom who grew up in the country with horses, et al and has allowed her kids to have a menagerie of house pets as city kids. Chickens may be in their future...
El also visited her goat friends, Jacqueline and Mancha, treating them to crowned vetch. Of course, she made sure Romeo, our dog, got some love and also sought out Fluffy, the barn cat. Everybody got extra attention this particular afternoon as we too thoroughly enjoyed Jen and El's visit. Y'all come back, ya hear?

Monday, June 27, 2016


The bird feeders have been extremely busy with squirrels, chipmunks and yes, even birds. Natureman has to replace some feeders annually as they are 'heavily' used. And we certainly know the rising cost of sunflower seed... 

Nests are already on their second batch of babies and it's fun to watch all the new families at the feeders. I wanted to introduce our newest "future" users. Mom and Dad Flicker are still busy feeding these mouths but soon we will be helping.

Welcome to the End of the Rainbow Valley guys. Get ready to share as it's a jungle out there.

Friday, June 24, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY's touting some new hairdos of some unlikely suspects. Summertime is usually a time for haircuts and a new do. These guys got a buzz all over except for their heads. and lost a lot of body hair. I almost forgot to tell you  about their wool being used for some great outfits at the art fair.

Didn't your Mom always tell you to get your hair out of your eyes? 

Thank heavens for gel, right? 
These two were a great addition to Lanesboro's Art in the Park Father's Day weekend as they helped advertise the use of the lovely hair that was shorn in their owner's beautifully woven goods.

Last week's FOTO FRIDAY was about a different animal. In case you missed it, click HERE.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


We finally made it to the Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro, Minnesota The 'no rain' forecast albeit 90 degree weather for Father's Day convinced us a Miata road trip was in order for some moving air. This time there would be no overnight at our favorite B&B, the Habberstad, nor bikes nor canoe in tow but a perfect destination. "Why?" you may ask. Well because the charming town 36th annual Art Festival in the Park was being touted as double the size as previous years. 

K Eversole (courtesy website dons special
Father's Day tie wishes
Even if you didn't have kids to help you celebrate Father's Day making one of the special ties in the kids's activity tent. The entire town would be there including outsiders like ourselves. There were the old-timers, young families and the in-betweens, enjoying all the festivities. Great art. AND folks had no problem finding shade and there seemed to be a constant breeze.

A duckling caught these kiddos's attention, some kids were fishing with their Dad
Natureman found us a parking place within the Park and no sooner had we starting walking amidst the booths we were drawn to accordion music from The Minnesota Morris Dancers, clad in white performing traditional English dances. It was my first time to witness their exuberance with the stick dance and also the handkerchief dance wooing a maiden.

Morris Dancers from Winona , MN
The gentlemen kiss the maiden's hand at the end of the dance.

Another vibrant group we caught were the Coteries, an acoustic bluesy trio, hailing from N.J.  The trio joked about their announcement to their families that they were quitting their day time jobs and going full time in 'Trusty Rusty', their VW bus with their music a year and a half ago. Thrilled parents, not exactly, but hey, the trio is happy even after their 11,000 mile road trip. Apparently Lanesboro was the first of their 150+ gigs to have ever offered pie and ice cream as perks.  They were thrilled.

Just the mention of pie started me salivating and you bet your sweet bippie I was over at the pie tent after the Coteries's performance. I heard from one of the townsfolk this was the town's first year to fear running out of pie so I grabbed a rhubarb 'n cream slice. A taste of heaven to be sure. 

And before we left town we stopped in at the Art Gallery on Main Street to enjoy the juried art show "In the Moonlight" which had opened the night before. It is delightful and will be up through August 15th. Catch it if you can... 

If you can't be with your kids it certainly fills the void and makes for a perfect Father's Day sharing it with community.  Hope to see y'all there next year. You'll be guaranteed a wonderful day and most important of all there's yummy versions of rhubarb pie...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


OK maybe not the hills were alive with the sound of music but near the bluff was where we were invited to join Natureman's friend, Ralph, in celebrating a special birthday.  Some folks decide how they are going to spend their next decade and for Ralph, a retired family physician, it will include more music. Ralph is a talented musician who wanted a house concert and this birthday was the night to mark that wish off his bucket list. We all chipped in to help his 70th birthday dream a reality and we got to share in his gift as well.
Three dozen friends filled Ralph's living room/ music room after a yummy potluck supper to listen to a super talented Asheville, N.C.  husband-wife duo, The Clydes, Aubrey and Justin, who shared  not only a lot of their last CD's selections comprised of bluegrass/ americana in addition to some new compositions too. The 'soon to be' parents travel around the U.S. in an RV camper with their 2 large dogs and have performed 200 gigs this past year. (BTW that schedule might slow down when the 'little' fiddle player arrives. Just saying'.) 

At intermission it was time for birthday cake and there were two other folks also celebrating their birthdays. Special birthday wishes to buddy Maureen and Wayne's Karen too ( yep Wayne told...)
Jammin' (Thanks for the pic Maureen)

After the second set came to an end, about a dozen+  guests took out their instruments and started jamming. How fun is that? Sooo many talented folk in our community.

Sorry Natureman that we had to head home before you could bust out your harmonica... 

Thanks for sharing and Happy 70th Ralph and many more musical ones!

* You can check out The Clydes on FB

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


 I haven't mentioned our illustrious Governor Walker in a while but today of all days he became part of our anniversary bike ride...

You see one of the many budget cuts he has made was to the DNR besides removal of scientists, the parks have been hit hard apparently including jobs for maintenance. Granted that it has been very rainy but the condition of the once pristine bike trail to Trempealeau is sad and in very poor shape. 

In the past maintenance was weekly and the rail bed trails were cleared of debris much less grass covered. Now overgrown with a grass median, navigation is more challenging.

                                                        Known for its many bridges crossing marshland and river,  the Trempealeau bike trail bridges also have numerous deteriorating railroad ties and planks in addition to loose boards with protruding dangerous bolt heads.  Whether walking/jogging/ cycling these could cause quite an injury- 

Users need to pay close attention to more than just crossing wildlife.

BUT I must say besides having to heeding the trail conditions it was a gorgeous day for the first day of summer. A cooler day than its predecessor (not 90), blue skies and wild life. It was quiet except for the bull frogs croaking, bird calls and occasional wildlife, it was a great day for a bike ride. 

Our nature sightings started with a large snake slithering off the trail before me ( Natureman wanted to go back to look at it, I kept pedaling) followed by two turtles, 2 hopping frogs, an egret, a dread shrew, numerous birds, butterflies flitting and this little guy at the end of our ride. 

The phlox wasn't in its peak but there were wild roses, daisy bane, spiderwort, cinquefoil and these ginormous dandelions.

The bonus of this ride is a treat at the end before heading back of a cold root beer and walnut burgers at the Trempealeau Hotel. They held us over until our traditional anniversary picnic.

We waited for our bubbly toast back in La Crosse by the backwaters of the Mississippi. Natureman had bought and packed smoked whitefish, cheese, crackers and of course, the chilled wine flutes to toast another 14 years... Will it go as fast? I'll be 76 and he'll be 82. Life seems to parallel the bike ride, the return trip seems to go much faster. 

Meanwhile here's to another 14!  L'chaim . To Life.

Monday, June 20, 2016


I've had the opportunity to collect 7 of the 8 t-shirts volunteering as an interpreter for Wisconsin's annual  Free Dental clinic Mission of Mercy, M.O.M.  The first was held in La Crosse (2009) followed by Sheboygan, Wausau, Madison, Lake Geneva, Green Bay, Fond du Lac ( I missed last year's) and this year in Eau Claire. 

The face of poverty is truly reflected in the mouth as most of MOM's patients have either never/very seldom visited a dentist's office due to limited income. All the services provided are free at M.O.M. as the 1000 volunteers are either dentists, hygienists, assistants, techs, interpreters, etc...  who come from over 190 Wisconsin communities. Sponsors including private individuals donate supplies for the annual $1 million of care. Local restaurants even donate food to feed the volunteers for daily meals and snacks.  Even with all the generosity usually this program is short about $20,000. 

Our patient numbers may have been down this year but services rendered could be more per patient. Extractions were up and there was a much longer wait for fillings (about three hours on Sat.) Some families were there all day. 

It's a time when I have used mostly Spanish but have been able to dust off the cobwebs of German for the Amish and Chinese. My usage of dental terminology has definitely improved having worked in the MASH set upWelcoming Limited English speakers, interpreting initial questions as to concerns, their last dental visit, etc... Dental Care questions with instructional tooth brushing and flossing, in registration: helping  patients complete forms, Triage: asking questions about blood pressure/meds, diabetes and general health/ pains... Cleaning, Fillings, Extractions in both adult & children sections,  the Exit Survey and this was my first year to also be called into Prosthetics.
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Due to lack of dental education, care and  fluoride from an early age there are many young adults with many issues including cavities/ missing teeth. Due to the time only
constructing bridges and flippers are possible. 
"Flippers" are acrylic and not durable enough for back teeth but are easily insertable/  removable for missing front teeth. To witness the joy of  having these front space/s filled was very emotional. One knows their lives will change as a result of being able to smile a confident smile. One latina in her 20's asked for the mirror over and over again to look at her new smile. Priceless.

The sad part is there are still so many state residents who still need care and next year there will be no M.O.M. Unfortunately, no city stepped up in time to plan for next year's event. A sponsoring city has to be able to not only have a site large enough, lodging  possibilities for all its volunteers and also sponsors . It's a very huge job. Hopefully, one of the 2 city possibilities are in the making for June 2018.

In the meanwhile we need to keep working on our legislators to include dental care in the healthcare package for all of our citizens as mouth disease causes other health related issues.

Remember Mission of Mercy's motto:
It’s the smiles – not the miles – that make it a mission!

Friday, June 17, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY: SQUIRRELLY has to do with perhaps my surprise to catch this guy up in a tree. I know these guys are sometimes referred to as 'ground' squirrels but have you ever seen a chipmunk up in a tree? Not me.

I had to look twice... So do tell if you have seen an animal in a place you didn't expect! 

Did you see the great additions to last week's FOTO FRIDAY LOOKIN' UP? Who knew if I looked up this week I'd see a chipmunk?!!

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Now since it's TBT ( Throw Back Thursday) what's better to remember the past than stuff from the past/ maybe not so past...

I have been anxiously waiting to tell you all about a new Stoddard business on the corner of South Main (35S) and Hwy 162. It's easy to drive by as it's rather nondescript but soon their permanent sign will arrive.

So, what's up?  A couple of women who are friends and avid thrifters decided something needed to be done with all their purchases since garages and storage areas were running out of room.  The women came up with the idea of "Finders Keepers Vintage and Thrift,"  a non-profit corporation benefitting residents of Vernon County. 

The idea is once bills are paid i.e. rent, utilities and salaries, the  remaining income will be donated to local projects.   One area project is already benefitting from their endeavors as backpacks for school age kids are being donated to be filled with school supplies. 

This resale shop has a little bit of everything and it's one of those places where you never know what you will find. You can have a mission and perhaps find a particular item/chance it for those items you didn't know you were even looking for... books, clothing, jewelry, toys, videos, housewares, toiletries, plants, etc... 

Although they don't do consignment, folks have been stopping to donate slightly used items.  As space permits new items come out on the floor. The deal is you have to stop in on a regular basis to see what's new.  

Even if you don't live nearby, do me a favor, go to their FaceBook page and like them.  If you are in our area stop in at Finders Keepers Vintage and Thrift.  You just never know what you might find and besides, some of the money you spend will go to helping others in our community. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Conversational topics have been heavier than usual and we needed a lighter evening. So what did we do? We filled it with topics which ranged from "The End," "The Credit Cards," "The Dinner," "The Funeral" and "The Fall." Yep, these were lighter topics... You see Netflix helped our evening with a perfect delivery time for the first disc of the TV program 'Grace and Frankie' starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston, June Diane Raphael, Baron Vaughn, Brooklyn Decker and Ethan Embry. What an amazing cast and combo!

The story begins as Grace and Frankie assume their work partner husbands will be announcing their retirement during a special night out until the bomb is dropped. The men are leaving the women for none other than each other as the men have been having an affair for 20 years. Now that's a modern hook. Thank you Hollywood for allowing seasoned "mature" actors in their 70's rather than twenty/thirty somethings to have leading roles facing universal issues like separation and divorce, sexuality and yes, aging. 

The witty character development is well crafted and certainly relatable. Picture Freddie, Lily Tomlin, the hippie health nut burying her woes in junk food and ice cream while Grace, Jane Fonda, goes the alcohol/ anxiety pill route. The men have their own adjustment issues. If you haven't had a chance to catch 'Grace and Freddie.' Treat yourself.

This series with heart will be a pleasure to binge on this summer. We here in the End of the Rainbow Valley can't wait for more laughs. We all can use laughter with all the mishigas (craziness) in the world...

Addendum: Also for accessory aficionados I'm sure you will appreciate Lily's great jewelry as well as Jane's scarves. 
(Thanks for the reminder Jo-Ann.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Natureman and I have been enjoying some lunchtimes in the International Friendship Gardens amidst all the gorgeous blooming roses.  

Yet we made a different turn during our last stroll and walked past the Russian garden section and its gazebo and lo and behold on the backside of the information center building there is a completed new garden area. When did that happen?
Although recently completed, it  appears to have been there a while. Stonemasons did an excellent job of integrating their work.

Attractive hard scaped pathways are complete with a lovely water wheel and small stone benches dot the pathway in addition to a stone seating area where small groups/individuals can sit and watch where the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse Rivers converge. 

I have a feeling we are going to be visiting this somewhat 'private undiscovered' secret garden a lot more now that we know that it's there. 

Of course if I see any of you in this new addition, I know I've let the cat out of the bag. 

AND we really would like to know what those plants do to make this sign necessary... Hmmm.

Monday, June 13, 2016


The weather could have been less extreme as dark skies dissuaded many  (including us) from heading to the opening musical events of  La Crosse's ARTSPIRE this past weekend. The street dance wasn't the only event hampered  due to the humid uncomfortable 90 degree temps.  It was unfortunate after all the organization, set up and time of volunteers, artists, vendors and participants that attendance both days of the annual arts celebration was not what  it could have been. :( 

Those that waited out the downpour Friday night and delayed headliners Cloud Cult weren't disappointed as they also were treated to a rainbow and a gorgeous sunset of pink skies after the storm departed.   Cloud Cult's performance embodies the spirit of ARTSPIRE combining many of the performing arts including art work being inspired by they musical renditions.

We joined the community on Saturday early afternoon.

I found mi amiga Candia
Glass artist Laurel Grey at work
The highlight of any community event is running into folks you know and it was nice visiting with folks from both universities, our congregation, Jazzercise and artist acquaintances.
Jazzercise buddy Pat with her hubby
and granddaughter UW-L theatre senior

Those present sought shade and placed chairs under the few trees in the parking lot area. It was warm.

Chalk artists were few as it was tough being on the hot pavement. Even these chalk pigeons and their real feed didn't want to hang around too long.  The nearby dragon probably didn't cool things off either. 

We enjoyed Black Sheep  Poetry out of Winona with recitations ranging from nature, hairy legs and nepotism. 
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You could even create your own poetry and hang it from a Poetry tree under which we sat...

Kids could do a myriad of art projects but that sun was intense.

Interspersed between poetry recitations we saw the improv comedy of Hearts of La Crosse as they worked a piece off the suggestion of "Knitting." It wasn't easy to be too funny with an audience that was wilting.

UW-L 's summer theatre program shared some tunes from their musical " All Shook Up."

Midwesterners are really not used to hot weather in June and folks found refuge inside the air conditioned Pump House Cultural Arts Center  where not only were art exhibits but artist demos. We viewed a beginning of a portrait of Muhammed Ali being sketched, canvas work by local artist Ellen Roles, jewelry work by Deciduous Design Studios.

Marc Manske's wall exhibit was unique with both exceptional photography work  this piece of the antique seed planter superimposed with the corn kernels (L) looked dimensional and the sleeping bag made of seed packets was very creative.  
The Dark Comedy Radio Show was delayed a half hour due to a Trolley Tour. But folks enjoyed the cool dark theatre space before heading back for the day's final musical presentation at one of the outside stages with Bill Miller. 

Thanks to the efforts of many who brought the arts to our community and it's too bad not more folks could enjoy all your work due to our screwy weather.