Wednesday, August 31, 2016


One of the beauties of summer are the guests that make their way to the End of the Rainbow Valley.  For some reason we haven't had any couchsurfers this summer but we've had family and friends come visit.

Our last set of visitors included Natureman's youngest sister and her husband with their family of 3 teenagers. They are all quite the conversationalists so there were a lot of discussions. Natureman was in 'heaven' besides being at the End of the Rainbow...

The kids kept busy with a lot of walks, visiting with the animals... and
 of course, a campfire complete with somores (graham cracker sandwich with roasted marshmallows and Hershey chocolate) for you non campers.

One special request from this last set of visitors was to visit the Amish on the Ridge. Included in my customized tour is first learning to identify the Amish and English farms. It took no time at all for these fast learners. One of our nephews had done some previous research on the Amish community so he was my top tourist identifying farms from their machines with metal tires/ the absence of power lines /parked buggies vs cars as some of the obvious signs. 
But due to the timing of their visit, the family also got to see the different stacking of the cut oats. No automated bailers here.
Since the teenagers all had taken what we called 'Shop/Industrial Arts' in the old days is now called 'Tech Ed,' an Amish furniture workshop stop seemed feasible and was interesting for all as the machines of course aren't run by electricity. The kids could identify the machinery but realized these were gas generated. Tech Ed indeed Amish style.

The Amish Bakery Shop was next on the agenda. One tiny building, the size of a small baby's room, shelves filled with jams, pies, donuts, cinnamon rolls and candies like peanut brittle and items made in the community including soaps, rugs, toys, etc...  One of the older Amish daughters of this family who runs the shop, gifted the kids 2 different fudge flavors. What a generous gesture! 

It was a busy time on the Ridge as the farmers needed to harvest in-between all the rain we have been having. So after a lunch break the boys went back out in the field with their magnificent work horses.

We all got a taste of life on the Ridge and sights that city folks don't see every day. Our visitors certainly returned to the Twin Cities with some new memories as well as a lot of fresh country air...

                            Ya'll come back, ya hear?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Would you do it again? I mean if you're married, would you marry the same person again and say "We still do"? The renewal of vows is becoming more and more popular nowadays but Sunday was the first time for us to attend a renewal ceremony. 

The couple's daughter, Lauren,  evited us to join the celebration of her parents Connie and Doug's 40th anniversary with fun, games, food, music and special surprises. The evite wasn't misleading.

Padre Salvatore ( a family friend of 30+ years and not really a priest) officiated, reiterating the original speech given to the newlyweds in 1976. 

The original vows were even repeated with an emphasis on 'equality.' Well, it was the 70's! The renewal vows included their reaffirmation and declarations of unending love with the candle ceremony reenacted. Love continues to grow, the couple attested.

Only this ceremony's music was played by their offspring Lauren on violin and guitar and vocals by her BF Brian. 

*Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud' got us all teary eyed as we watched the wedding couple enjoy their dance. Heck, You might as well click on the link as you read about their wedding vow renewal. *YouTube's: ED SHEERAN'S LYRICS OF THINKING OUT LOUD

As Padre Salvatore stated knowing this blushing bride today is a 'party in a box.' Yep, that's my friend Connie and from the moment one entered the party space you could see Connie's touches... 

One wall contained the couple's 40 year love story and we all learned some new things about the couple including Lauren who didn't know her folks got a sitter when she was a week old. She admired their progressiveness.
The clever guest book was a dictionary with directions. 

The bride had not forgotten the original wedding photos either and still had her original wedding dress and hat for us to see in person.

And of course there was a yummy 
menu with Damn Tasty eats, a wonderful local caterer, who always kicks up the spices a bit. Dee-lish.

And being the hostess with the most'ess made sure we had beef Sloppy Joe's.

  The chips in individual bags were a nice touch too.

            AND great desserts to add sweetness to the day.

 After the delicious eats and liquids we also played 50 questions as we learned even more about the two. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that these two were meant for each other...

         40 years looks good on you them, don't you think?
                                 Here's to another 40!

Monday, August 29, 2016


Friend Aura and hubby David
Many folks are overlooked for the good work they do for those with disabilities so it's extra wonderful when these very same people are recognized. I was asked by Milwaukee friend, Aura, to be present last Thursday as she was an honoree at a JNF fundraising event north of Milwaukee at Shully's in Thiensville. The honorees including their family, friends and community gathered for aperitifs, wine and visiting followed by dinner and a program for over 200 people.

From the looks of the Wisconsin Tribute Banquet Committee I take it these women had a fun time planning the event/ perhaps even happier the event is finally here.

Below are the JNF honorees along with some in and out of town JNF officers...
Top row: Ends flanked by Chicago JNF visitors L to R Honorees:Dr. David and Jody Margolis, Molly Zall, Next Generation Leader, Honoree Glenn Graves,Yossi Kahanam, Director JNF Task Force on Disabilities
Bottom row: Honoree Aura Mollick Hirschman, (Tribute banquet chair Sue Carneol) Honoree Eileen Graves,
Wisconsin Board Co Presidents: Rusti Moffic and Enid Bootzin

I met and befriended two of these honorees my first week in Milwaukee some 20 years ago. I am so proud of both of them for the work they do. 
(L) Eileen's Mom and Eileen
One of these acquaintances Eileen, a learning specialist, and her husband, Glen were also being honored. Family members came in from all over for the occasion. 
Their son, Daniel, one of my son's classmates introduced his parents's  alluding, as did all presenters, to their honorees' s 'empathy' and 'compassion.' Daniel's Mom was instrumental in implementing the Milwaukee Keshet program for students with disabilities while his father, an opthamologist, helps others by improving eye care. It's heartwarming having a grown child voicing appreciation of their parents's guidance, passions and work they do every day.

My first weekend living in Milwaukee, my family joined Aura's family at their dinner table and throughout the years our paths have continued to recross. It was extra special to celebrate this evening with her. 
  Pictured in front of Aura are Aura's Mom, her brother Shep and his wife, Linda. 

Linda was the one who spoke about her sister-in-law and friend of 50 years, Aura. Aura's love of Israel has included 6 visits and
Aura's acceptance speech
insuring her 3 boys also visited the Jewish homeland. For 40 years Aura has worked with people with disabilities and is now the Alternative Textbook Coordinator at the UWM Accessibility  Resource Center, specializing with students with visual  impairments, autism, learning disabilities or ADHD. 

In addition to hearing about each honoree and their work, we also learned what JNF is doing at present in Israel. The night's featured speaker, Yossi Kahana, appointed director for Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran, a new rehabilitative village in the Negev spoke about the JNF progress in the past 15 years of special ed and medical care for people with special needs in that 'no person is left behind' and is important regardless of nationality. This accessibility also includes parks, playgrounds, camp grounds.

The final announcement of the evening was that the the tribute Banquet Coordinator, Sue Carneol, would be taking on the role of Wisconsin JNF Board President. 

Mazal Tov, Sue. May you have a lot of help helping JNF be as effective as it can be to continue its programs in making a difference, especially in the lives of people with disabilities as every individual has the right to live with dignity. 

Friday, August 26, 2016


An August FOTO FRIDAY would be remiss  if it didn't include the harvest pics, so feast away. Either now or when you wish your food was fresh.

This week we have harvested corn and dehydrated a batch of ready tomatoes.

16 quart bags with what the raccoons left us
These are great as chips too!

How 'bout you? What are you putting up for the winter months?

Last week FOTO FRIDAY was :CAFE 315

Thursday, August 25, 2016


TBT: Throw Back Thursday. Seriously, there are some things we don't need to go back in time to reexperience. 

Last night after dinner we went for an early evening ride and lo and behold look what yard signs we came upon in the small Mississippi River town of Genoa, WI. 

We must have time travelled back in time to the '50's where these attitudes existed. 

 As if the message wasn't scary enough, there was also that misuse of the apostrophe and to make sure we know who lives here, it was also butted by the following sign.

I hope someone pinches me so I can wake up. In case you doubt we are moving backwards in time.

 Any signs to share that make you feel you have time travelled?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


All my hair doesn't even fit in the photo...
Alas, all the last two weeks of plans almost worked except for the haircut at the Minneapolis salon, the Hive, which specializes in curly hair. Long story short (the story is definitely shorter than the hair): After a 3 + hour ride towards the Twin Cities, my appointment was cancelled  just 40 minutes short of the destination. The haircut emergency had been I was heading home South that Friday to surprise my Dad for his birthday. Southern Translation: Humidity and Heat= really BIG hair.   
Logo borrowed from public FB page

Background:  I had previously received the Hive Salon's email reminders for clients of hair prep instructions, appointment time and 24 hour cancellation policy with a possible 50% fee charge. To say I was not treated in the same way the business expected to be treated is an understatement.

I was not a happy camper and wasted no time returning the Hive's phone message.  The receptionist apologized and simply said there would be no openings until the following day. I explained that was not possible, I had spent the previous night close to the Cities but what they 'should' do was call if someone could fit me in. After I hung up, I discovered my ride actually was going out of her way to drive me to the Cities at this point. This was a no brainer, head back to La Crosse with her.

Wouldn't you know an hour closer to home my phone rang and 'miraculously'  there was someone at the Hive who could squeeze me in? Why hadn't that possibility been checked/arranged before their cancellation call? Besides distance, I had by this time canceled dinner with a niece and lodging with a friend. I was P.O'ed and not in the mood to backtrack albeit my friend offered to turn around. At this stage and mood, I figured I wouldn't be satisfied with the haircut.  "Would I want to reschedule?" asked the receptionist. Seriously, would you?

So dear readers, now two weeks later I have never received an apology email/ phone call from my stylist to be, Becca. (one of the owners no less), so you get the venting.

AND if you happen to go to the Hive/ know anybody that does, you can tell them about the gal living in the End of the Rainbow Valley who's no longer angry as a bee in a bonnet but super disappointed that she hasn't been able to wear her hair down for most of these 2 past weeks since she doesn't have a Hive and as it turns out Wisconsin has heat and humidity too!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


In recognition of the 30th anniversary of being sister cities, La Crosse received a special treat as Espinal, France's chorale, Poly Sons, joined the La Crosse Chorale performing in Black River Falls, Winona and in La Crosse. It was the latter where Natureman and I spent his birthday Sunday afternoon. A bonne anniversaire indeed!

La Crosse Chorale's conductor, Paul Rusterholtz, planned an entertaining program in collaboration with Poly Sons's conductor, Damien Guedon. 

The La Crosse Chorale opened with Rejouissez-vous, bourgeoises and Mon Coeur se recommande a vous...

The La Crosse Chorale

Then, The 5th Chamber added Canite Tuba, He Gave Her Water, Hallelujah from Shrek and a fun Under the Boardwalk interspersed with a bit of humor and logistical changes. 

The Fifth Chamber

Poly Sons (translates both 'multiple sounds' / cheeky rascal) animatedly shared songs from their varied past repertoire and a couple songs for this upcoming year.  Plans are for the La Crosse Chorale to join them in Espinal for a true exchange next summer. 

From Espinal's Renaissance program we heard: La, la, la , je ne lose dire , Et le monde et la mort. Impressionist music: Romance du soir,  Dieu, Qu'il a fait bon regarder, Les fleurs et les arbres. New genre of theatrical & musical aperitif : Syracruse, Chanson d' amour, And So It Goes, Goodbye Love and La Mer. And to be included in their upcoming American 2016 program in France: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, What a Wonderful World and It Don't Mean a Thing.

Poly Sons from Sister City Espinal, France

Both chorales shared the stage for Angel Band and a surprise gift composition of Claire du Lune by one of Poly Sons's members.

As I have always stated we are indeed fortunate to be able to have such wonderful music in the Coulee region. Merci beaucoup to both chorales for sharing their talent and the Chorale committee who helped make this all possible. With ample donations we trust the La Crosse Chorale will be able to complete the musical cultural exchange and travel to France! 

*Apologies for omission of accent marks. Someone (namely me)  forgot how to add them.

Monday, August 22, 2016


A famous La Crosse citizen, George Coleman Poage, is being recognized for an amazing achievement overdue by 112 years. In fact, a major renovation of a city park ($1.3 million) now bears Poage's name located at 5th and Hood Streets on the south side of La Crosse. 

But "Why?" you may ask.

Poage was not only the first African American Central High salutatorian (formerly known as La Crosse High) but also excelled as an athlete in track hurdle events.  He attended UW-Madison and not only won Ten State Championships while in attendance but made the most of his education there majoring in history and learning 5 languages. As if that wasn't enough, at the World Fair in the1904 Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, Poage also became the first African American to win a medal in the modern games, receiving not one, but 2 Bronze medals for the 220 and 440 hurdle jumps.

Wisconsin sculptor Elmer Petersen (second from right),  interpreted this Olympic feat through the multi stages of this triumphant endeavor. Metal placards recount Poage's life and achievements.

A couple hundred community members joined 3 of Poage's  descendants as they listened to a folksong written in his Poage's honor by local musician Mike Caucutt. This song will also be sung at the Great River Folk Festival later this month. 

While City officials gave speeches children played on the new state of the art jungle gym equipment in the background.  
The kids love their new playground.

In addition, a city proclamation  by Mayor Kabat was given in memory of Poage's contributions.

Sculpture and portrait  pictures behind family proclamation recipients, Poage's great great grandson far left (Mayor Kabat) and great great niece and nephew
Local middle schoolers read biographical essays about our famous citizen who overcame many obstacles during his lifetime.  His Mom actually moved to La Crosse to do housework for a prominent La Crosse family in the late 1800's. In his adult life Poage was a teacher for 10 years in St Louis, then bought a farm in Minnesota  and finally moved to Chicago where despite his his successes in academics and athletics still found difficulty as an African American finding a job, finally served as a U.S.postal clerk for 30 years. He passed away in '82.

Decorated cake for the occasion
A new pavilion and meeting room where refreshments were served in celebration on Saturday also now don the city block. At its beginnings in the early 1900's, Hood Park as it was originally named had an outdoors skating rink which graced its grounds but had fallen into disrepair.  

May the transformation of this park help towards the revitalization of a forgotten neighborhood and a forgotten citizen and be a place for the neighborhood to gather and remember a once unsung hero  serving as inspiration to its youth.

Friday, August 19, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY: CAFE 315 shared some of their delicious dinner fare on my last night home in Little Rock. One of their chefs and I have been friends since first grade so you could say we have history... In the old days it was eating cheese dip together and giant kosher pickles after school. Who knew we would both not only love being in the kitchen but also have partners who shared that love?

To see how lucky I was to be a guest take a look:

Dinner was Roasted Chicken infused with herbed butter and stuffed with garlic cloves and lemons, basted with Balsamic Fig Reduction on top of roasted rosemary vegetables-
AND for dessert Blueberry and Basil Pie with Goat Cheese and Almond Topping.

As Natureman always says, "Why go out when you can eat like this?"

As always, best of all was the visit! Love you two at Cafe 315.

So have your buds been including you at their tables?  Any pics to share?