Monday, July 17, 2017

CHICKENing OUT

Due to travel I must admit serious doubt as to time/energies to add entries/have daily access to WiFi for the next two weeks.  I'm not exactly 'chickening out' with the 5 day entry challenge but will leave you with some pretty magnificent chickens from the Stockholm Arts Festival this past Saturday. These femo clay teapot chicken beauties didn't get their feathers as ruffled as I am deciding what to take with me on the across the big pond adventure. 




Two weeks will fly by and I'll be back in the End of the Rainbow Valley in a NY minute with my Natureman and stories and sights to share... 


                                    Au revoir mes amis...

Friday, July 14, 2017

FOTO FRIDAY: BEST THUMBS UP EVER


FOTO FRIDAY is a photo of the best 'thumbs up' ever. It was the most welcomed one because it was almost 3 weeks ago I had given up hope. 


Given up hope not on a person but on the fact I wouldn't have to replace my camera. On our anniversary trip the rough waters of the Root River got the better of us and our canoe capsized a hundred feet from our landing. We were okay minus some bruising and some items floating down to the next town but but my camera water proofing did not not surpass the unexpected dump. 

Drying, opening up all that could be dried, removing the battery and card right away didn't hurt, but my camera still wouldn't work. After a search on line I opted for the rice solution route and stuck the camera in our rice tupperware container immediately upon returning home. 

There were daily numerous trials still with a foggy view and lens. Very sadly, I conceited defeat but just for the heck of it decided to leave it in the sealed container and go on with life.

As I was packing for my upcoming trip, I spotted the rice container out the corner of my eye and thought, What the heck? Even if it was 3 weeks, one more try.

And do you know what? After replacing the battery and card the lens extended and I could see out the view finder and the digital screen. I ran in to show Natureman and he gave me the good ole thumbs up and it was the best one ever.


Have you had any best thumbs up stories lately? Do tell.

Last week's FOTO FRIDAY was SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE SIGNS from that same fateful trip.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

ANOTHER GUY IN MY LIFE...

If truth be known there's been another guy in my life for the last 5 months. In fact, my friend Nancy introduced us. He's not really a mystery as he has been with me in the car anytime I head anywhere. I haven't been trying to be secretive about our relationship. 

Let me first say Natureman 
Time to grade the drive again...
does know about how much time I have been spending with this guy but Natureman has been super busy with the garden and regrading our road after all these rainfalls. He knows this guy has been in every room of our home and Natureman hasn't even said anything about this guy coming to bed with me. No kidding.

This guy's initials are R.S. and he's actually very well known. A friend even ran into him recently on a trip to Ireland where I am sure he was doing something for work. He travels a lot and probably has been in a lot more beds than I can fathom... 

He has been super helpful with this upcoming trip to France. His expertise is all encompassing and cultural advice, immeasurable. His staff does a lot of ground work but folks follow his advice the world over. I'm sure you've heard of him as you can't have a better guide for your travels.
Perhaps you've seen Rick's work? 


Yes, his last name is Steves. Travel guru extraordinaire and his travel guides are priceless.

You didn't really think I'd cheat on Natureman, did you?  Another man in my life? No way. There's only room for one 'man' in my heart and that's Natureman. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

FLASH , NOT THE SUPERHERO, WARNING

Natureman always comments on folks talking about the weather excessively but if truth be told, he has been finding himself joining in on these weather conversations more and more.  As boring as you might think weather talk is, it's a 'real' issue when you live out in the country in the middle of nowhere. 

When we hear 'Flash' on the radio/ catch sight of the 'FL' word, it's not the image of the Superhero comic character that comes to mind because what follows is Flood Watch / Warning.

The End of the Rainbow Valley is bordered by Coon Creek  (well known for its trout fishing) which feeds into the Mississippi River 5 miles away.  Translated : When there are heavy and frequent rains, it doesn't take long before the water is nearing its banks.  Translated once again: Access home / out can be cut off... 

Yesterday another one of those warnings came. Last week's predicted thunderstorm rumbled and flashed for hours but had miraculously circumvented our area. Relief, for sure, as 'The Tractor' was still awaiting a clutch. Our tractor (alias The Tractor) becomes our road grader once its snow plow days are behind it.

Some ruts in our dirt road were getting deeper and deeper with each rain and another major rain could really cause havoc. Yesterday as we drove out of the valley by the neighboring farm where the Tractor was being repaired, lo and behold, it had been moved, a very good sign indeed. Fingers were  crossed it could be put to work. 
 Natureman stopped, turned its key, gave it some gas and moved the gear shift and thank heavens, it went into gear. He was off using the summer's day extra sunlight to grade and regrade our mile drive. By finishing time its headlights were in use.

The weathermen didn't lie as the late thunderstorms came through dumping rain more than once through the wee hours. It wasn't quiet.  I was awakened by the sound of a tree crashing. 

Daylight will show us last night's damage but we know it could have been worse without The Tractor's help. 

Sometimes a superhero can come in the shape of a tractor and yes, Natureman, it seems the weather's becoming more and more extreme and we just have to talk about it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

COUNTDOWN...

Countdown begins today as it marks one week until I begin an adventure that really wasn't ever on my radar until Sally, a Milwaukee work colleague and friend, asked me to join her on a trip to France. 

Yep, next Tuesday I will be driving to Milwaukee to pick Sally up en route to Chicago's O'Hare airport for our flight to France.

You see Sally's brother, Jim, an opera singer, has spent the last 20 years living across the big pond in Marseille, France. Although some of their siblings have made the trip, this will be Sally's first trans Atlantic flight. 

In March we started planning as we'll have a full 2 weeks. A humongous bonus will be Jim has decided to join us for the entire visit since it's his vacation time too. Thank goodness we won't have to rely solely on my high school French! Jim will make sure we experience daily cafe time with either a cafe au lait/ glass of wine people watching and enjoying daily cuisine specials.

Sally, an art teacher will also enrich our excursions with her passion of Impressionism. Of course there will be the main museums but also not so well known galleries and special art exhibits. 

Planes, trains, ferries and city transportation with the metro, bus, Uber and our feet will get us to wherever we need to go. 

So the guest room bed in the End of the Rainbow Valley has become packing central for the next week as the piles grow and dwindle as the list to travel lightly will hopefully win out in the end.

Stay tuned...


Monday, July 10, 2017

INVITED & UNINVITED GUESTS

Woodpeckers like the hummingbird feeders
When one lives in the middle of nowhere like us in the End of the Rainbow Valley there are different kinds of guests, the invited and the uninvited... July has been busy.
Stunning Baltimore Orioles


We're not just referring to those invited guests such as birds who are invited to stop by at our numerous birdhouses/feeders. Sometimes the window glare confuses them and they fly into the glass extending their visit...

 This gold finch smacked himself good but I removed him to a place of safety, put out a little dish of water and within the hour, he recovered and flew off.


Eau Claire lunch guests
(middle-R) Cousin Veeva and long time buddy Shelley 
Don't go getting paranoid if you've shown up after finding yourself on a jaunt and realized you were in our 'hood and taken the drive back to the end of the valley/you've had an outstanding invitation to come visit like Cousin Veeva and long time friend Shelley who after a decade finally took us up on the invite and drove in from Eau Claire last Friday. 

Notice the tail still continuing in the upper left hand corner

It's more like the uninvited guest that awaited Natureman in the chicken coop and struck out at him when he tried to remove him. This large garter snake was seeking a cooler place for dinner.


Or the evidence of visitors on a plastic garbage can top with teeth marks who thought they needed a night time snack of chicken feed. 

After being awakened by outside racket, look who I found after flicking on the outside house spot lights. Rummaging through fallen seed under one of the bird feed feeders with this 'who me face?' Natureman set a live trap as if there's one, there's more. 

Turns out our pet sitters for our overnight away this past weekend captured 4. The biggest culprit probably Momma escaped. Soon to return I'm sure.

These are just some of the guests who frequented the grounds recently. One just never knows who will show up invited or not...

Friday, July 7, 2017

FOTO FRIDAY: SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE SIGNS

FOTO FRIDAY captures one of those signs either purposefully/ randomly placed in an unsuspecting place. Our last sighting of one of these placings was on our anniversary canoe trip out of Lanesboro, Minnesota heading downstream on the Root River to Whalan.


Recent heavy storms have really changed the scenery. Sand bars have disappeared and new ones have resulted. Someone obviously thought it would be cute to place this street sign upon one of the newest islands.



Of course my question to Natureman upon seeing it was " So, which way are we going?" 

Do you have any funny signs to share? 

Last week's FOTO FRIDAY was STOP THE CAR
Never too late to ever add any of your photos/ stories. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

TBT: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY, IT COULD COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU

Did you ever notice that sometimes we jinx ourselves? Take for example my comment just this week about our garden success here in the End of the Rainbow Valley. It was to the effect that even if there is crop failure and we get 'skunked' there is still the local farmer's market. 

Well, wouldn't you know this was misinterpreted and driving home from a lovely July 4th dinner party in Wild Cherry, my 89 Mazda Miata, right after dusk, we were enjoying the summer night air until I heard a small thump. "What was that?" Natureman replied, "We just ran over a sk..." He didn't even have to finish the word as an odiferous smell filled the car. 


Not our roadkill. Pepe Le Peu was MIA.
Was this this poor guy's last spray? Pepe Le Peu was nowhere to be found so he obviously escaped death. Natureman said he missed him but the guy certainly had enough time to raise his tail. 

When you are in a convertible, the skunk's spray is definitely staying with you the rest of the way home. Cherry got to sleep outside the garage last night. It was still really potent yesterday. 

After spending the day talking to detailers, I'm surprised they are basically clueless as to how to handle the smell but want to treat it like a smoker's car, an undercarriage powerwash, cleaning out of the air vents and ozone treatment inside especially with the fabric seats and carpeting. 

So, does anybody have experience dealing with their car getting sprayed and how to get rid of the smell? 

Just want to add those famous life's words of wisdom. 
"Be careful what you say, it may come back to haunt you" even if misconstrued.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

TO LIE OR NOT TO LIE, IS THAT THE QUESTION?

What I know about telling a lie is that it will come back to haunt you eventually. And once someone has lied to me they can be guaranteed  I will never really trust anything they ever tell me again. Perhaps that sounds too unforgiving. It's very easy to lose trust and yet very difficult to get it back.

Friend Donna who lives in rural Minnesota submitted the following editorial to her regional local county newspaper about lies. 

"Starting from when I was in grade school, every weekday night my father and I would read the Minneapolis Tribune together and watch the nightly news, both national and local. This quality time is one of my most cherished memories. 
After taking in the news we would discuss the highlights. My father let me know I was expected to have an informed opinion and defend that opinion in a rational way. 
I joke that many people who know me today wish he had raised me differently! But here I am.
I still remember some of our discussions: The botched execution of Ethel Rosenberg; thalidomide babies and abortion; the Eichmann trial and death sentence; the Algerians overthrowing French colonial rule and how De Gaulle ordered the removal of even the telegraph wires and poles from Algeria, to which my father responded, "Jeeze, De Gaulle, you cheap tightwad!"
All my life I have maintained the effort to learn what was happening in the world. And I respect the people who work to make this knowledge possible— reporters and journalists.  Sometimes these reporters got it wrong, like the early Gulf of Tonkin reporting that led to our escalation in Viet Nam. Or the reports of Saddam Hussain's weapons of mass destruction or his supposed connection to 9-11 justifying the  invasion of Iraq. 
Yet it was other reporters who struggled to correct the lies and disinformation and some of them lost their lives to bring the truth.
That is why, today, I do not understand the outright gleeful disparagement of journalists and the news. People are acting as if it is so much fun to lie. So much fun to threaten to hurt—or actually hurt—reporters. People delight in this. Maybe this is easier than putting in the time and effort to try to learn the truth. So much easier not to have to defend an opinion in a rational way. 
Decades ago I knew a man who everyone knew to be a pathological liar. He lied even when it didn't help him in any way, except to maybe feel superior to those he lied to. This man killed himself when he was in his thirties. A few days prior to suicide he went to his estranged wife to apologize for how all his lies had hurt her.  Apparently, he had hurt himself, too. He told his wife he could no longer distinguish what actually had happened in his life and what was just another lie. "I have lost my life already," he lamented.
I fear that we as a people are losing our lives. We have always struggled with the truth—about slavery, wars, poverty, environmental destruction. At least we had struggled. Nowadays it seems we delight in lies, even when lies don't help us except to make us feel superior to those we lie to.
On a mountain pass in the state of Maryland there is a monument dedicated to all the journalists who lost their lives around the world trying to report the truth. I don't think most of these men and women thought the search for truth was just a big joke."
Donna B.

Monday, July 3, 2017

KNEE HIGH

Actually this knee high has nothing to do with socks except to indicate the corn height saying "Knee high by the Fourth of July." Of course in the old days that rang true although nowadays real farmers expect their corn to be at least chest high.  

Here in the End of the Rainbow Valley where we try to stay organic, we are thankful our seed germinated and where it is above knee high considering all the bizarre weather. Torrential downpours after planting, daily rain for a couple of weeks and unusual spring heat. Now, if we can beat the racoons/ squirrels to the corn in August, there will be a good enough yield. 

Natureman has put in his rototilling, mulching and weeding time and the vegetable garden looks amazing.


                                         

This 2017 season's southside of the garden boasts (l to r) potato, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, carrots, radish, kale, green mixture, spinach, bok choy and peas. 



Pea blossoms add a special touch to our daily garden salads in addition to the greens mixture, a bit weak on the arugula but plenty of romaine and batavia adding a dark red contrast. The second planting of radishes is coming along just fine.

Inbetween the two gardens  squash and melons are thriving. The cucumber are actually planted in front of the garden fence again this year.

In the garden's northside above the corn are peppers, peas, basil, cilantro, parsley, eggplant and beans. 



BTW deer have been helping themselves to the new growth on those bean plants but Old Romeo's attention is usually on smaller animals in his waking hours. Who knows what he's stalking?



It's okay we've got plenty of food to subsist on whether or not the other creatures help themselves. The garden looks great going into July and we won't be having an empty pantry. Besides, there's always the local farmer's market in case we get skunked...

Friday, June 30, 2017

FOTO FRIDAY: STOP THE CAR FOR WHOM/ IS THAT WHO?

FOTO FRIDAY this week is for the times you saw something and just had to turn around/back up to take that pic. This is another one of those times. 





Upon passing some transformers I caught sight of this balloon. It didn't just get tied up inside the fenced off area, it was intentionally placed there. Can you guess why?



 Take a closer look.



Now, can you guess why it was tethered in place?

I guess a lot of birds having been flying into the giant fans clogging things up so this owl face supposedly deters them.  Who invents these things?

Can you share a photo/memory of a stop the car moment?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

TBT: Le Coq de la Liberation

My first impression of the End of the Rainbow Valley many, many moons ago was the quiet. No city hum, no honking horns, no leaf blowers, no humanoids. But by the end of that first weekend visit I realized the noise was just different. Yes, there was stillness but inbetween all the nature noise was amplified. Today specifically one particular noise comes to mind and it was the rooster's. 

You see this city girl did not know roosters crow whenever they dang well please, not just that idyllic scene at dawn's break to welcome a new day. Translated 2 am, 3.. 4... whenever. And when you are staying in a house where all the windows are open because AC is non existent then it's like that rooster is in the next room.  Thank heavens for Natureman's youngest son being home for a visit where he just said that rooster has got to go. AND poof the rooster was taken on a ride and freed across the road from a chicken farm with a lot of both hens and roosters. Liberated to crow away impressing all those hens and compete with all the other roosters.


Now move forward to last year when the Milwaukee Museum of Art gifted tote bags to their patrons. There as its design was Picasso's 1944 Le Coq de la Liberation, (Rooster of the Liberation) in all its glory.  Magnificent colors and inspiration for the barn art I had secretly been harboring to create.

Last summer a great discarded pallet was calling my name in a business's trash area. It came home with me and by summer's end a sketch was in place. But silly me, the rough wood would not be forgiving if it wasn't primed first and all that sketch work had to be painted over. Ugh.  Well, as of this morning it has 3 coats of outdoor poly finish and will finally get hung. It won't get a barn wall due to its weight. Serious machinery would be needed to get it hung above the loft doors, hence it's getting a wall of the chicken coop so the girls, our hens, can also have some art. 

Natureman's statement upon seeing the final product was to the effect it had everything from the original painting but it was different. I retorted with a chuckle " Well, I'm no Picasso." 

And as you probably guessed, this is the closest a rooster is ever going to get to being in the End of the Rainbow Valley...


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

EID MUBARAK


Tonight was another first as Natureman and I were invited by the Muslim community to join them in their celebration for the end of Ramadan, Eid (pronounced eed). The sign above says Eid Mubarak, transliterated Celebration Blessed / in other words, Happy Holiday! 

Samei, a vermicelli pudding with cardamon

About a hundred folks attended the early scrumptious evening buffet meal in the Copeland Picnic pavilion by the Black River in La Crosse including Muslim families from surrounding areas and all the invited guests .

A brief explanation was given for us guests about the 30 day fast which really ended Sunday. Most religions have a fast. The fast of Ramadan includes no food, liquids, smoking nor sexual relations. According to Wikipedia "Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting except in self-defense. Food and drinks are served daily, before dawn and after sunset. Spiritual rewards (thawab) for fasting are also believed to be multiplied within the month of Ramadan. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers), recitation of the Quran and an increase of doing good deeds and charity."

Mayors Tim Kabat of La Crosse and Joe Chilsen of Onalaska and representatives from Ron Kind and Tammy Baldwin were present to show their support for our Muslim community members. La Crosse has been declared a safe zone for all immigrants.


Also present was the La Crosse Shoulder to Shoulder group which has been in existence since 2016 with a mission to combat xenophobia and encourage xenophilia. Their latest campaign is to encourage local businesses to place a HATE HAS NO BUSINESS HERE poster in their front windows welcoming all. 


Our media may want to portray our Muslim neighbors in a negative light but it is up to the rest of us to stand up for all our community.

Many of us went home with not only a full belly but  a better understanding of our Muslim neighbors and also a poster or two to place in our community storefronts. "If not now, when?"Hillel


Link NEWS 8000

* Special thank you to Michael Hessel Mial for the first two pics.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The "Honey Do" List

I don't know about you but for me the "Honey Do" list  holds mixed feelings...

As a newlywed my ex would leave me daily lists of things to do that day and when he returned would ask what I had done. Grrr... Let's just say, I did not take it well. 

When I taught, lesson plans were a necessary organizational skill to complete certain unit objectives but weren't lesson plans really 'honey do' lists?

I am a list maker and make lists to not forget certain tasks due to limited free time and even today since I don't live close to town, lists ensure making the most of my drive.

When my Dad comes to visit, he likes to keep busy fixing things. So before his visit, I create a list. Over the years I have had to revise my list as if I gave him the entire list, he completed it in the first 2 days. So now just a couple items will be given in intervals between fishing and other activities.

Funny how the roles have reversed with my kids. When I visited my daughter last year for her wedding prep she sent me a long to do project list ahead of time.  I have to admit panic as I was thinking, "Wait I am only coming for a week, not a month." Of course as Mom it's my pleasure to be able to help with whatever. Living so far away I have limited opportunities so those lists and her planning allow me to be part of her life.  
That's a lot of spindles and parts !

Two weeks ago the biggest project on her list for my pre baby visit this time was working on Baby Tater Tot's room. The soon-to-be parents had purchased a painted used large bureau to be used as a changing table and an end table besides inheriting a glider rocker with a footstool. 

My friend Nancy gave me a refinishing tutorial and advice of products before I left as the last time I refinished furniture was my antique dining room set in 1978. The Home Depot guy was also a gem and sent us home with all the necessary products and a lot of advice including keeping the expectant mother out of the process due to fumes. Good advice.
This move wore my son out...

It was great having a houseful of family to lend a hand in the process. The guys carried the furniture down to the garage.

 Even my son-in-law got some hand sanding in on the big piece...



And thanks to my daughter's mother-in-law and son's significant other, we prepped - sanded and primed and applied two coats of paint. Their help allowed me to be able to complete the second coat of finish before heading out on my return flight.  

Not only do the other pieces match the crib but we picked out a durable neutral fabric and  

VOILA!  Our coup de gras, the finished rocker and glider, ready for many hours of rocking. 

I can't deny it "Honey Do" lists really do help and there certainly is a great sense of satisfaction checking those completed items off the list. Don't you agree?


Monday, June 26, 2017

BLOOMIN'JUNE at the RIVERSIDE


Strolling through the Riverside International Friendship Gardens of La Crosse is one of our favorite summer activities. Each visit there are new blooms and sights so I've included what's been blooming this June. A lot of unusual weather with very hot days early in the month and  expected rains, yet some whopper storms both with more rainfall than usual and wind, a lot of wind made for some early blooming and challenging gardening. 

Black squirrels are a common sight scurrying around looking for handouts and up for being included in photoshoots too.








There's also the artistic work of spiders...



 Be sure and visit your local public gardens. And if you happen to see the volunteers responsible for their upkeep, do thank them for such a wonderful public service that everyone can enjoy. The Bluff Country Master Gardeners do an amazing job keeping the Riverside International Friendship Gardens beautiful for all of us to enjoy here in the La Crosse area.
                           
 And as always, do take time to smell the roses.


Past blog entries:
Cat Out of the Bag
New Addition
Down by the Riverside Skies