Friday, September 30, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY's signs of Fall are sometimes more subtle than others.  As I stood at the kitchen sink window I noticed the birds busy eating seed from the dried Black Eyed Susans. It dawned on me I was looking at fall. 

                                          Can you see why?

I will give you a hint. These birds are Golden Finches but normally not this color most of the year. You see since I left and returned they have lost their bright yellow color.            

                                            Happy Fall!

Do you have any signs of fall photos? Do share.


Thursday, September 29, 2016


The clouds just couldn't decide what they wanted to do today and by 5pm crowd funding La Crosse Soup organizers threw in the towel and just said we are going to be outside so bring your bowl, spoon, chair and umbrella as we would meet in front of the rootdown yoga studio and its future cafe, Uptowne Cafe.

The new to be Caledonia Street restauranteur, Adrian Lipscombe,  has moved here with her family from Austin and that's Texas, not Minnesota, after being introduced to La Crosse at last year's nationwide Soup Summit. Our city must have made some kind of impression on her to move to the cold lands... 
(L) Adrian of Uptowne Cafe 
Fortunately, some 200 folks were in attendance in spite of the weather. Adrian graciously was our soup cook for the evening for the unexpected larger crowd and unfortunately, the yummy Minestrone ran out.  Folks understood... 

A big thanks to both Adrian for cooking and to Fayze's restaurant for the bread. 

So, let me tell you about the evening's 4 pitches :
First up: Laquita Becker who works with at risk youth for the Y's Boys and Girls Club wanted help with her AWSM project of providing funds for attendance at retreats/conferences to work on positive character and leadership. The group started this past summer. 

2) Jacob Seamus proposed Cultural Celebration Weekends such as the one I described in yesterday's blog entry. To get us out during the dark days of winter to foster ethnic cultural fairs with trad'l food, dance, art activities, to expand global views for the entire family.

3) Three High School youth dressed in ADOPT black T's pitched raising monies for scholarships for Therapy Dog training for dogs to go to hospitals, senior facilities, schools etc. to help provide companionship to those in need and to ease stress. 

And the last pitch was- 
4) Walk Your City which involved posting temporary signs promoting walking to public spots with the predicted TOA.  Each $20 sign would last approximately 3 years and could skirt city posting ordinances. The goal is health and to be more active by walking. 

All clever ideas indeed. Attendees can ask questions after each pitch too.

For those that remember all the $5 donation request for the Soup dinner goes to the pitch winner. The night's attendees were given their vote ticket after they contributed for their meal and then placed their ticket vote.

The night's winner was PITCH #1, the AWSM program now with more monies going to train future young community leaders with an extra $939. 

We were spared being rained on and were able to try out a new locale. Yet as in any gathering, some tweaking to be done... It's difficult to guess on attendance but always better to have too much food than too little, need for sound projection as not everybody with a good idea has a great speaking voice over traffic and children. Perhaps also suggesting folks to bring water when there is no beverage donor. And to realize once it gets dark (earlier at this time of the year), folks are ready to disperse rather than stay around to mingle... All fixable.  

Kudos to both organizers Josh (Coan?) now pitch organizer (l) and La Crosse Soup's Andrew Londre (r) for another evening to make our community better. Go to La Crosse Soup's FB page for upcoming events and with any pitch ideas.

To Uptowne, best wishes in your continued growth and revitalization in the North end of La Crosse. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Fall is a big 'Fest'ing time in not just the Midwest. While our city braces itself for a weeklong of Oktoberfest activities, many other fests including Cranberry Fest, Apple Fests and Renaissance Festivals are filling Fall weekend fun. In the East this past Saturday it was no different where accidentally we experienced Philadelphia's Chinatown's Mid Autumn Festival. 

I say accidentally as after finishing a couple museum visits, we were actually just heading to a Bangh Mi sandwich shop, and lo and behold we discovered Chinatown closed off to street traffic.

The previously quiet Chinatown (note the quiet entrance from the previous day)  was now packed with all ages of folks enjoying the street fair celebration. A stage was at one end with organizers introducing speakers, musical presentations throughout the celebration and as we passed were readying for a Tai Chi demo. 

Decorative lanterns are traditional for the Mid Autumn Festival.

This street carnival had activities for every age group: Art activities of Chinese calligraphy, decorating dragon crowns, making lotus flowers to symbolize the real flowers which would be floated down stream with candles inside 

games like 
bean toss and a bouncy area, 

hanging up prayers /good wishes...

The Mid Autumn Festival is traditionally held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar when the moon is the roundest and brightest, a Harvest moon. Mooncakes with a bean paste inside are the traditional dish only served at this time. It is a time to be with family and community and it was a treat to briefly be part of this special community celebration. It brought back memories of celebrating this Autumn holiday when I lived in Taiwan many moons ago... 
So to all of you, here is my wish:

A bright moon and stars twinkle and shine. Wishing you a merry Mid-Autumn Festival filled with bliss and happiness.

Hàoyuè shǎnshuò, xīngguāng shǎnyào, zhōngqiū jiājié, měimǎn kuàilè!
Chinatown's Fire Stations Mural

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


At the very same time of my visit to the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP), the National Black History Museum was holding its opening reception in our country's capital.  In honor of this momentous day, the AAMP was using their auditorium to live stream the D.C.
event for its patrons and offered a perfect morning snack of donuts, juice and coffee .

This month's exhibition Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876 is part of AAMP's permanent exhibits with an interactive narrative on a mural encompassing the room as seen below with dimming lights and spots upon the different Philadelphians of African descent and their contributions to the new Nation.

Who doesn't like to push buttons at a museum? Visitors can learn about life as an African American at 10 imitation doors projecting life sized videos of Philadelphians who talk about their lives during the century to follow 1776. What a very clever way to hear about the trials and tribulations of these early residents in different walks of life.

A special interactive exhibit awaits younger visitors about the children's daily life of the late 18th century. Flip up boards provide the questions's responses.(see below)

 This museum has 5 galleries which can house many of the museum's  historic collections including the Jack T. Franklin photograph collection. The other collections also add to the arts, history and culture of peoples of the African Diaspora.

The Smithsonian had a museum FREE pass day on line that allowed this museum visit without the normal entrance fee of $14/adult. Kudos for the opportunity for everybody to be able to visit museums but more importantly to gain more insight to our African American population in the historic city of Philadelphia.

Here is the link to the National Black History Museum which "encapsulates the struggle, triumph and story of black Americans dating back to the horrific details of the slave trade" on a much more grandiose scale. It's about time since We as a Nation need and can benefit from this important piece of our country's history.

Monday, September 26, 2016


Did you know Philadelphia is known as the City of Murals? Yep, the city has its very own outdoor art gallery with over 3800 gracing its buildings  One could even say graffiti inspired Jane Golden's development of the Mural Arts program but actually it was to dissuade the increasing graffiti covering the city in1984. The initial endeavor turned into something much more inclusive and is now touted as "the nation's largest public art program dedicated to the belief that art creates change." 

The murals one sees are creations of 1000's of both professional artists and young Philadelphians throughout the city's different neighborhoods. Communities apply to create a mural and then are fostered throughout the process to "look, listen, connect, create and celebrate."

Support comes from organizations, foundations, grants/ donations from the private sector /philanthropists to help make this a reality. Golden took this program further by incorporating participants of all ages in youth art education, restorative justice, and behavioral health. 50 to 100 new projects are added every year.

As you can tell by the map above and the pink mural locations, it's difficult to go a more than a couple of blocks without seeing a mural. One project called Love Letter is comprised of 50 rooftop murals. 

There are both walking and trolley mural tours. Although I didn't have time to partake in either, here are some of the murals I encountered - so many stories of the people who share these streets. 

Enjoy and one day if you get to Philadelphia, go take a tour for me, OK?

This magnificent '98 mural by the train station is called Common Threads, "threads that tie us together by culture and time." Since it's by a major SEPTA stop, 1000's of people see it daily.

 And then there are others that are more hidden like this sandwiched between a row of eateries...

Or on the backside of The Free Library...

The Garden of Delight mural symbolizes bringing the community together with gardening in public spaces and has a live garden space in its forefront.

Rich in symbolization, inclusion and history.

With themes like Labor...
Meshing political statements such as a gas station's backdrop about biofuel/ ethanol its transportation and industrialization of its production and effects on the environment...

Some have special lighting at night...

And sometimes sadly the building's age demands demolition and these works of art which took so much time and energies are destroyed.  May one of its future walls continue the story, 

the autobiographical story of the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

Friday, September 23, 2016


FOTO FRIDAY: This week needs a bit of humor as our Coulee region is literally floating away with severe flooding. Here's a little some thing to put a smile on your face no matter how tough your week has been.

Just when you think you have everything, you find out otherwise.   Do you know what this object below is?

If you guessed a step stool, so did I at first glance.  And if you look closely, it does have those feet imprints on top of where to place your feet. So, yeah, it is a type of step stool.

 Here's another hint as to where it is being used.

Yep, in the bathroom under the commode.  But it's not for a little kid to reach the potty. Hmmm. 
Perhaps now you know/figured out its name/ purpose?

Any guesses? Well, this mystery was quickly ended as its label was still on this addition to the bathroom. 

It's called a "squatty potty" and my assumption is if Nature needs some help, this supposedly is the answer. Check out the drawing on the label for usage.  Oh my, how many of your lives are also  incomplete? Maybe you do you have one and can attest to its effectiveness and or let's be honest, admit to owning one. 
Last week's blog was: Dump Find if I had known better  I should have saved that title for this week, right?

Thursday, September 22, 2016


When one lives out in the middle of nowhere, i.e. the End of the Rainbow Valley, there's no walking to the closest store/ restaurant. So it is quite a change of convenience and scenery to be smack dab downtown in a large urban city such as Philadelphia within walking distance of so much activity. My youngest lives in a terrific urban locale.  One couldn't ask for better city living than to have a convenience food store next door, a Whole Foods within  5 blocks, eateries and tourist spots galore and this apartment window view. I never had this opportunity to live like this when I was young. Urban life is filled with very different energies.

Although my visit was to be helping my son with some moving projects, he has made sure to get me out to see what's new in his hood. There are so many new building projects amidst the old. 

After a morning of doing prep work for an upholstery project and lunch my son suggested a walk. I was a bit leery as he has a pretty good city clip and I am a poker, definitely not a fast walker.  You probably have noticed the journeying of my surroundings with photography.  In fact, I should have a bumper sticker plastered on my back that reads: Frequent Stops for Kodak moments.

I will have to dedicate one entire entry to the murals of Philadelphia. For today one within a half a block from his apartment that may be all gone by tomorrow as as its old building is being demolished...  

Another loss is the adjacent open space which had served as an illegal dog park. Yep, folks had decided to use this green space for their pets. The gate's hole opening has been refenced and No Trespassing Signs are posted. Sad for both the dog owners and the pooches. A large apartment building will probably refill this space. Progress ? 
The Barnes Foundation

A new huge apartment complex had been built with restaurants/stores below, followed  the new Barnes Museum filled with an incredible Impressionist collection. The building itself is a piece of work. Unfortunately, it was closed to the public on Tuesdays. 

The Whole Foods in the next block will be moving to new space a
Philadelphia Museum steps made more famous by Rocky
couple blocks closer to the Museum with more available parking. My son had already had his run earlier in the morning so he wasn't game at the Rocky victory pose atop the stairs so we encircled the museum and enjoyed the sculpture garden. 

Familiar artist sculpture flanked the sidewalk. Artist works I recognized from in front of the Milwaukee Museum of Art (L) and Crystal Bridges in northern Arkansas.

Even the city knew I might need recharging and had this extra adapter laying out on their grounds. 

There were also Plein Air artists in the park along  the back side of the museum and Waterworks. Very picturesque, no? Folks out for their morning jog/ walk. Tourists visiting the grounds and locals just out for a little fresh air along the river.
As we made the return loop 
there were remnants from the recent Democratic convention, banners of quotes along fencing. 

 Walking past the Free Library, I also learned about the Family Court building which has been sold and must keep architectural features as it will become a high end hotel, next to the magnificent brand new Mormon Temple which is part of my son's every day window views. 
Now there is no doubt, this is city living. A lot of history with a lot of changes in 5 years... 
Mormon Temple in foreground