Monday, November 20, 2017


In the Midwest you'd know it's a special season whether it's marked on the calendar or not. Just try to get a workman to make a house call and after numerous calls to discover you are out of luck because it's one of the hunting seasons. Yep, if you haven't figured it out Saturday marked the beginning of deer hunting season.

As if  the alert sign wasn't clear with the numerous Wonderland Craft Festivals/seasonal sales to lure the feminine population to shop while the males in their households are out hunting.

Saturday I stopped by Timmer's Ten Mile Pub  to see what the local crafters were selling. The parking lot was pretty full and although I didn't find any gifts to buy, my real prize was awaiting me in the parking lot with one very happy 'FEMALE' hunter coming to celebrate. There in her truck bed was her buck , a perfect 10 pointer. One shot straight to the heart.

To be sure the exclamation "What a nice rack! "will not receive any repercussion for sexual harassment... Seems to be the season, doesn't it?  Deer season is upon us. 

Friday, November 17, 2017


FOTO FRIDAY time and the girls are helping me with this one. I call this photo Quality Control because we just wonder who is in control... 
Take a look and let me know if you think there's a quality control issue in the coop.

Also if you have a Quality Control pic to share, please do...

Did anyone catch the extra something in last week's CANDID SHOTS?

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Life has deterred me from finishing my French summer adventure last July but why not use TBT: Throw Back Thursdays for  finishing that journey with you. 

Last told we were celebrating my birthday in Sault, Provence, continuing the gastronomic adventure toasting champagne while viewing the lavender fields below. The next morning we headed southward for Marseille, Jim's hometown for our next destination. 

A hired driver drove us to the closest train station and we hopped aboard a commuter train to catch the fast speed train in Avignon to Marseille giving us more time to see this port city. 

I would be remiss to omit mentioning my favorite bathroom stall in France in the  Avignon train station no less. It was well worth the fee to use the facilities. What a goodbye to the lavender region!
The high speed train ride south had us in Marseille, the second largest city in France in a little more than a hour.  The first order of business was to take in the city view from the train station. About 850,000 people call Marseille home. 

Atop the city sits Notre Dame de la Garde.  We were content to just take in the architecture from afar and enjoy the bustle of this Mediterranean port by foot. We were all cathredal'ed and museum'ed out by our previous full week and a half.

Most Marseilles streets have inclines and the calves (not small cows) got a great workout. 

View from Jim's 3rd flr apt./ was that 4?
Yes, those are a lot of stairs ...

Since we were a bit early for our nearby hotel check in,  we dropped off our bags at Jim's studio apartment, and headed out to do some local gourmet grocery shopping for lunch.  

During the heat of the day the streets were empty but our stomachs dictated otherwise. 

First stop was for fruit
and olives in a very tiny store, followed
by the infamous Bataille upscale deli... 

 Gorgeous, n'est pas?  It was great to eat at Jim's place as it seemed like forever since we sat around a table without a waiter. After a yummy lunch of cheeses and desserts, we checked into the conveniently located modern hotel (only 2 blocks away) called Mama Shelter. Contemporary, clean and unusual. 
'Wasn't sure what to expect by the name and the 'unusual' were

the Tweetie and Darth Vader masks hung in the room.  Go figure. Role playing? Hmmm.

Anyhow, down time before hitting the pavement again. Sally, I learned, is a champion nap taker, sets her alarm and uses 20 minutes like a charm before the next trek.

Jim showed us his 'hood and daily walk where he has worked as an opera singer for the past 30 years at the present OpĂ©ra Municipal de Marseille, built in 1924 with a seating of 1,800. It features a classic urn-shaped auditorium, three rings of boxes, two balconies and a gallery. 

The Opera house is closed for the season but we had an 'in' to take a look around and enjoy the art deco/  interior...

En route to the waterfront one stop included the impressive modern city library where books are automatically scanned in when you return them...

We also perused the Arab market quickly being the only 2 women in a sea of men. 

And we  joined a more co-ed group at the French version of the Chicago Bean

under a giant mirrored canopy with views of the harbor and  ferris wheel...

Restaurants, cafes and bars abound in the harbor district. Dinner was at an Algerian restaurant with a bit of big city excitement. An outside dining patron had left his cell phone lying on the table while he was eating and a youth had lifted it.  A chase ensued as the fit seventy year old male caught up with the young thief who sprayed the phone's owner with mace. The patron returned without his phone and burning eyes. It could happen anywhere. Probably a good reminder to keep one's valuables out of sight.
Many choices for ice cream lovers...

Even full bellies couldn't deter my traveling companions from Italian gelato for dessert before an uphill 20 minute walk back to the hotel. Okay, I must add one more memorable big city moment were rats sharing those sidewalks with us scurrying back and forth amidst the shadows. Ratatouille, were these your friends? :)

Jim had ensured we made the most of our first day in Marseille. Stay tuned for day 2 in Marseille(s) next TBT

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Pictured here is a little island in the northeast Carribbean Sea. Do you recognize this internet map image? For those of us who have visited it, we certainly wouldn't recognize how it looks looks in person today. This is Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico has been on my mind a lot lately as its people continue struggling to survive 2 months after the destruction by Hurricane Maria. Even before this natural disaster took out its infrastructure, this U.S. territory was suffering from bankruptcy and its treatment of residents as second class citizens. It didn't just start with Donald Trump showing up 2 weeks after the disaster and mocking the severity of the island's devastation. But his attitude and treatment of people being without vital necessities like clean drinking water certainly didn't help. 

We can pretty much live our daily lives without acknowledging the suffering our country's actions have caused/continue to cause elsewhere and even within our own country. Is it that we choose not to know what our country has done/are we as citizens deceived of the truth/perhaps both? 

Unfortunately, the more I learn about our presence worldwide it is much less than a rosy picture of good will. Perhaps our patriotic naivete doesn't allow skepticism regarding incentive. Before calling ourselves global economists we were imperialistic and before that colonists. 

Doubting our presence and involvement in wars that aren't ours in the name of humanity when closer viewed expose underlying interests of our capitalism. 

Nelson Denis, award winning screen director, former New York State Assemblyman, writer and author of War Against All Puerto Ricans was a guest speaker at Viterbo University thanks to the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics and Leadership just a little over a year ago. Nelson Denis didn't mince words as he spoke about the demise of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. 

Denis is a first generation American raised by his Puerto Rican grandmother and mother. His mother came to this country at 16 and worked in NewYorks's garment district as many other immigrants for 20 cents/hr, $8/wk. Her 23 years of savings enabled her son to go to Harvard College and then Yale Law school. He did practice law in addition to being a prolific writer.

Starting with the Spanish American War Denis illustrated how the U.S. made sure this country's statehood's power and wealth were usurped. By law, Puerto Rico could/can not even choose their own governing body, it has been appointed for them.  U.S. mega million dollar companies i.e. Colonial Bank owned half the island. Companies like American Fruit, took over businesses including sugar, coffee and tobacco.  forcing the businessman both small and large out of business, minimum wage salaries, property taxes sky rocketed, no employee benefits,  their economy plummeted into insurmountable debt with the help of natural disasters, bonds, etc. Today that debt totals 72 billion dollars.

Need we wonder how we have failed and continue to fail our own citizens in Puerto Rico? Shame on us because this is the government we elected whose policies we have allowed...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Our community of La Crosse has been making a conscientious effort to offer regular public programming on Race. Our guest speaker this past month was Reggie Jackson, as you can see by his photo, not the 71 year old baseball player but one of his namesakes. 

The Reggie Jackson who came to La Crosse, a plumber by training, now calls himself a griot, an oral historian.  His passion for history has now changed his life's work to fighting racism and teaching others about the history of segregation. He has been touring the state doing research of its various black communities while also educating mainly white audiences on the history of Wisconsin's black population. Understanding history is crucial to the relationship of the different communities. This Mr. Jackson will also now be responsible for the new Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee built in the same location as its predecessor. Unfortunately, lack of funding closed the previous museum.

The original Black Holocaust Museum was started in 1984 by James Cameron who at the age of 74 after a church trip to the Holy Land and visiting Yad Vashem, the memorial commemorating those who perished at the hands of the Nazis, remarked to his wife the need to build a Black Holocaust Museum.  We met him once when we visited the museum and heard him retell his life experience of escaping the hangman's noose as a teenager in Indiana. He's the only known person to survive a lynching.

Ironically Dr. Cameron was born in La Crosse as his father was one of 3 barbers with 4 chairs in the river town. The river boats brought many tradesmen so there was no lack of clientele.

Mr. Jackson also imparted the infamous story of Joshua Glover, a slave, who was helped by locals escape from the La Crosse jail and find refuge in Canada. There were other stories of the small black community members who were trained as typesetters / were fishermen. Yet there has never been a large Black community in our area/ in most of the state for that matter.

Stories of the GI bill got my blood boiling as offered monies for education and housing for returning soldiers were squelched for Black Vets since higher education was segregated and housing developments had covenants banning Black residents. Impediments to Fair Housing included both government and industry support of segregation, a lack of low income housing, lending gap, suburban policies, mortgage lending discrimination, housing and employment discrimination ordinances and redlining.

There's no 'whitewashing' these Wisconsin's factoids of Inequalities for Blacks include:

-Wisconsin ranks 2nd of the most segregated states

-Highest incarceration rate for black men with 12.8%  of state's African American males behind bars, twice the national level
Blacks make up less than 6 % of state's population but account  for 42.7% of incarcerated 

-Worst state in country protecting the well being of African - American children , based on 12 key indicators 

-Widest national test score gap in every category between black and white children 

-Only state where life expectancy gap between black and white is increasing.( gap decreasing across rest of the nation 

-Only 4 states have a higher black poverty rate, 31%  (Maine 87%, Minnesota 38%, No Dakota 32%, Oklahoma 31%. ) Gaps for blacks and Latinos  compared to whites widest in nation.

-Most WI counties have very small percentages of blacks making up 5% or more in only 6 of the 72 counties

-WI residents helped Joshua Glover, a fugitive slave escape to Canada in 1854. A few years later the state constitution barred blacks from voting. 

-Labor unions banned black workers .

-Early success of blacks led to widespread discrimination in schools and business.

So now one asks, What can be done ?

Mr. Jackson suggests the following:

The important thing thing is to do something for as we all know change is slow especially when it comes to social injustice. History doe not need to repeat itself. 

Monday, November 13, 2017


These days of transitioning from Fall to Winter here in the End of the Rainbow Valley come in an array of winterization.  I don't know about you all but we have no written list but an internal one and somehow everything gets done.

Probably #1 on my list is putting Wild Cherry, my '89 Miata on vacation. After convertible days are behind us usually signaled by our last fall foliage ride (translated early November), a call is made to the insurance agent to cancel its policy for the winter months. It is parked in the garage, has had its last car wash,  fuel additive and air tire adjustment, battery disconnected and most importantly to prevent real damage, Bounce laundry sheets placed strategically to dissuade mice from building nests.

Clearing gutters are also my responsibility as my other half is so low maintenance that whether the old house's fell off from disrepair/ he intentionally removed them, the new house's have always been tackled by me. It's much easier removing the gutter leaves and muck now. 

Natureman has really been working all summer on accumulating firewood but there's a different urgency as cooler days dictate quantity. He's busy in the woods taking down trees, transporting  cut up pieces back to the pile and wood splitting. 
The back screened porch has been cleared of furniture and weekly stacked wood piles have taken its place.  One wood stove's flue has been emptied and the large fireplace has also already been put back into action with daily fires to not only take the chill out of the house but to start heating the house. The floor heat has also been turned on. 

This appearance of wood into the house also signifies a special thorough Fall cleaning for me. Windows have been open almost all summer and besides the normal dust/summer dirt,  spiders have been working overtime, webs reappearing daily and there all those leftovers of those dang asian lady bugs and elder beetles. I have made a goal of one day per room for deep cleaning. Drawers will have plenty of time to be tackled during those winter days...

Natureman takes care of arranging for hay to be delivered so there's enough for the goats to eat when they can no longer graze. The chickens are being daily let out daily into the garden to free range and forage on the crop remains. 

As of yesterday the garlic bed has been retilled and garlic replanted.  

Our menu has changed from fresh veggies to making heartier meals with foods we have kept this past summer by canning, freezing or dehydrating. Our menu have changed to more 'comfort' meals with the stove and oven working overtime again. For example, this past week's meals included Chicken Cacciatore, Tuscan bread, Oriental Fried Chicken, Onion cakes. Chile Rellenos with Spanish rice and soups included:  Cauliflower, Broccoli, Egg Drop and End of the Year Garden Soup. You see what I mean...

AND I have also made more of an effort for accompanying Natureman on his daily walks as the bug population has lessened and there's a special crispness in the air. There's also a different noise accompanying us now-  the noise of neighbors's machinery, gun shots and bird migration all which mark our hood's seasonal transition before we all hunker down for Winter. 

Fall always goes way too fast and I'm already looking forward to saying to you all, "Yes, we survived another Winter." Wink, wink.

Friday, November 10, 2017


This week's FOTO FRIDAY is one of those candid shots with an unexpected addition which adds a smile to one's face. Perhaps you will see it/ if not, well then it's just a private joke. 

My intention was to capture my good buddy Sue, Susan Hessel before her TV interview with news anchor Heather Armstrong about the YWCA's 2017 Tribute to Outstanding Women and receiving the Trail Blazer Award at the La Crosse Conference Center Thursday evening. 

Here's one of the series of pics...

BTW I am exceeding proud of my friend for embodying the nonprofit's mission of eliminating racism and empowering women and hope she'll appreciate an extra chuckle to the evening... 

Do you have a candid shot where you caught something extra? Do share.


Thursday, November 9, 2017


Have you had something in your closet so long that it has become an antique? 

Well, today Natureman and I enjoyed a beautiful fall day by going for a walk on Goose Island situated in the back waters of the Mississippi to see the beginning of the bird migration of the thousands of pelicans, tundra swans and many duck species as they begin their trek to warmer environs. 

As I have mentioned in previous Novembers, the birds will stay here long enough to replenish their food supply by feeding on the tubers of the arrowroot and lotus plants. It's also time to rest and regain their strength. They still have a long way to go...

Before heading out for the naturewalk, I  knew we'd be encountering muddy patches after our recent rains and I didn't need to ruin any more shoes.  I knew just the pair I needed so I climbed up on a chair to reach a pair of old hiking boots on the top closet shelf.  

I got these boots when I was a senior scout in high school.  Back then they took me on the Appalachian trail and onto trails in the Colorado Rockies. They have been on many hikes throughout the years.  As I removed them from their box today they had a new addition,  rust. Yes, rust.  I guess I am not the only one showing my age. 

Natureman always gives me grief about not wearing good walking shoes. Today I got sincere admiration for these 40 + year old veterans.

AND they also got to experience the beauty of the Upper Mississippi  Wildlife refuge with us...

Every year the birds amaze me with their perseverance as they arrive daily up until about Thanksgiving and then take off ... Okay you 'snow birds' have a great winter down South. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Whether you remember the Beatle's tune Revolution/not, you're going to be hearing and seeing it more and as it's the new logo of Wisconsin's progressive movement. Wisconsinites have had enough of Scott Walker and his cronies in our 'once' progressive state.  A roomful of Coulee area residents filled La Crosse's Brick House meeting room Monday night as 6 of the 20 gubernatorial candidates were present/ represented at a public forum.  With a year to go until election time to depose the 2 term Governor supported by Koch monies, the message at the forum was the "Divide and Conquer" motto is not sitting well with most of us.  No matter where you live you have seen evidence of this policy. 

We didn't have time to hear any detailed plans as to the candidates's intentions as there was a limited response time.  Joe Heim, retired UW-L political science professor moderated the 2 hour forum with 2/3 (?) minute segments for candidates to state their reasons for running, why they would be good for Wisconsin and to answer the same 3 questions re: Education, Health Care and Jobs.
From right to left on the panel we heard from the following:

Self anointed "Soccer Mom", Michele Doolan
raised by a single mom who received educational aide to improve her young family's situation, modeling determination in fighting poverty. This upbringing helped made Doolan now a mom of 3, a community activist and desire to be a servant of the people, not a boss. 

State Superintendent Tony Evers's top 3 issues start with regaining a world class educational system, stabilizing and rebuilding the disappearing middle class and protecting the environment. Working on good job wages ie to attract and keep employees such as good teachers in state.  "District funding of school equality does not equal equity."

 Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik top priority would be job growth with 30+ years of bringing folks together to do business. Using our success of agricultural assets to bring new business to the state. He promises to serve as a public voice not a corporate one. He has an invested interest with young children at home to improve our public school system.

Bob Harlow, Stanford graduate, son of 2 UW- Madison professors credits his good education to good public Wisconsin schooling even in his small hometown and views the current educational funding issues perilous to what was once our state's pride and joy.  He promises to use his tech expertise to bring tech companies to the state, work on health insurance issues and not ignore public needs. 

photo from previous UW-L visit

Senator Kathleen Vinehout  (not present as she needed to be in Madison for a rigorous long congressional day) but her representative spoke of her upbringing by a father who was a union president, putting herself through school, becoming an organic dairy farmer, her 'People First' reputation, a powerhouse in the Senate who works tirelessly for affordable healthcare, taxation of corporations, legislation for clean air, state spending & property taxation, district funding, etc...

Mike McCabe activist known for Blue Jean Nation passionately spoke of economic inconsistency and the need for a definite vision to get out the vote. Economic development of renewable resources to create some 30,000 jobs in addition to creating a better health insurance and educational system. McCabe is a big proponent of dismantling the voucher system as it's been proven to not be providing a better education.

Jeff Rumbaugh stressed his 'compassion 'after some 20 years working with the disabled, the need for a more effective system and an environmental concern for clean water.
The future of Robotics, AI are reasons to improve technology and that commerce doesn't stop at our borders.

borrowed from internet
Wisconsin assemblyman Dana Wachs (not present) is ready to fight big business, start up monies (10K) for small businesses, erasing student loan debt, working on infrastructure, $15 minimum wage. He promises to be our voice.

All  of the candidates spoke of values referring to legislation for health insurance to cover all, access to a good education, the need to have good paying jobs available. Values are fine and good but the plan is important and as the field of candidates is narrowed down hopefully we will hear more about specifics. We will need to get the vote out to create change and repair the damage that has been done to make our state progressive once again. Will it take a revolution?  Well you decide, it's up to all of us to vote. 

Beatle's Revolution