Monday, July 17, 2017


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 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.

* It turns out a water spot behind the lens appears as a blur in full sun. My kids were kind enough to buy me a new camera to take with me on my recent trip. xoxo

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017


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


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 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


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 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? 

Never too late to ever add any of your photos/ stories. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017


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


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


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...