FOTO FRIDAY: ‘SHEDDING

What I didn’t mention about my big weeding day the special something I came across…

I was about a half way through weeding the coop garden bed when with a pull of tall grass clump there was something extra besides dirt.

There’s a good reason I don’t go into grassy areas in sandals. I’d rather not feel what ever may/may not be crawling over my feet whether it’d be of the insect species/ something bigger.

So take a look below to see what one particular yank produced-

Yep, I thought about quitting weeding upon this discovery but realized this guy was either long gone / with all my stomping around would have slithered elsewhere. Besides if I left , I would not be back to finish. It’d be a pretty good excuse to stop.

When we were young my brothers would have loved this find and I knew Natureman would love this treasure. It was still soft but has since dried.

One might sometimes need to know what it feels like to be in another’s skin. Personally I’ll stick with the wrinkly one I have right here in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

TBT: IT’S AUGUST, NOT MAY

It finally dawned on me this year that the name given to a certain insect has nothing to do with the month they descend upon an area. This insect is especially attracted to bright lights of which our local convenience store has an abundance. After a recent evening of storms mayflies had obviously descended upon the store and it’s August.

Have you ever seen the side of a building completed covered in Mayflies? It was like a plague hit but just in one spot.

They were everywhere. On the windows, posts, doors and oodles lying dead on the ground …

After a bit of internet research I learned some interesting facts.

Did you know?

-The mayfly’s lifespan is rarely over 24 hours. They have even been referred to as dayflies. They don’t even have a mouth because they won’t live long enough to eat.

-Their life cycle consists of 4 stages: egg, nymph, subimago and imago.

-Species dependent a female mayfly may lay less than 4 dozen or more than 10,000 eggs. Eeegads. That is plague status.

-They mate in flight and lay their eggs and die soon thereafter.

-Dependent on area they hatch mid June – mid August. They can actually hatch any time of the year but do prefer a specific type of habitat.

-To get rid of the mayfly you should remove standing water. Good luck with that with the Mississippi as our neighbor. Garlic works also as a spray.

As for our local target you may wonder what happened?

Well, an employee must have power washed them off between the time I snapped these photos and returned later in the day. Gone, just like that. Go figure.

Niagara,the Cave, Not the Falls

Last Wednesday we took a Miata field trip from the End of the Rainbow Valley to Niagara Cave, one of the top ten caves in the U.S. located in Harmony, Minnesota about two hours away.

Natureman had recently visited here with the Land Stewardship Project to learn about soil conservation and the effects of these recents rains in regard to water pollution. He returned impressed by what he saw and knew I would enjoy visiting this limestone cave. How well he knows me!

Here piggy, piggy…

There are ‘a lot’ of stairs to go down. Our first stop was to see where 3 farmer’s pigs went missing and were discovered down a hole, the cave opening, where they had slid down some 60 feet. They survived their fall and the cave was discovered as a result of it.

Our young guide Wallace gave a very informative tour including reminders regarding slick walkways and low clearance areas. Showing worm paths, Trilobite fossils and more while taking us through passageways where water constantly seeps in, trickling down the rock leaving a history of 450 million years.

Wallace pointed out the layers of sediment proof of the cave’s age which we witnessed during our 500 step descent. That’s a lot of stairs in a one mile walk. One half a mile in and a half mile back. Not a prescription for those with asthma, difficulty with stairs, health conditions including pregnancy, etc…

Wedding Chapel altar

The constant 48 degrees warrants a sweatshirt / jacket with/wo a hood. Good walking shoes are also recommended.

There are less than a dozen stops along the way along with benches for those who need to catch their breath/ view one of the scenic areas such as the wedding chapel (R) where many couples actually tie the knot.

Cathedral high ceilings help give it its name.

A waterfall, Niagara, is fed by the underground stream and falls some 2 stories down.

Niagra Falls

One traverses both wide and narrow passages, low ceilings and cathedral spaces where Stalactites, stalagmites and ribbon bacon are pointed out…

It is spectacular to experience all Niagara cave’s magnificence of rock and mineral formations. A bit costly but worth it in our opinion especially since 2015 it is totally powered by solar panels.

Besides the cave tour there is a nice gift shop, miniature golf course, picnic area and even a playground for the kiddos on well kept grounds.

A good time was had by all…

Monday Mournings: Corny, I Know

Sunday we had a reprieve from the heat with an overcast sky and time to stay at home. After breakfast both of us knew we should take advantage of the cooler temps so Natureman returned to stacking the dwindling wood pile and I finally began the job I had been avoiding since my return two weeks ago, weeding.

A couple of advantages were in my favor due to the fact it had rained the previous night and the only advantage of letting weeds get too tall is that you don’t have to bend down so low to pull them. Being vertically challenged comes in handy in this case too..Wink, wink. Of course this technique works the best with shallow root growing ones.

I started the arduous weed pulling by the front door and when the large wheel barrow was filled , the gravel path already had begun to look better. This work was more cosmetic than the more important areas, the flower gardens. Deciding to not spend the entire day removing weeds on the path, I moved on to a more beneficial area the flower garden by the chicken coop. The zinnia colors were amazing but as I would find out holding them erect were those weeds. The unwanted grass was as tall as me. Additional help didn’t need to be called in as the goats in the pasture about 15 feet away would be thrilled to help with garbage disposal.

They feasted during breaks when the removed weeds were piled up and tossed over their fence. Their bleeting for more kept me working longer. Break time arrived none to soon. Hooray for lunchtime! Off with the damp work clothes, a quick shower and lunch.

Both Natureman and I knew we’d never make our late afternoon music plans across town so we opted to take a break for a Miata ride to nearby Branches Winery outside Westby to sit a bit and enjoy the Ultrasonic Duo. The cloud coverage made for a pleasant respite.

Refreshed after a set and a half of good tunes and something to wet our whistles, we headed back to the End of the Rainbow Valley. A good couple of hours remained to finish up the coop bed weeding before dinner. Anticipation of a garden salad and corn (at its peak) was incentive enough. It does look a lot better…

It was so weedy you couldn’t even see the buggy before…

As corny as it sounds, there’s nothing better than freshly picked corn from the garden… Yum with squeezed lime, chile pepper and queso fresco.

FOTO FRIDAY: UNEXPECTED COMPANY

Natureman and I love having company but some company is more welcomed than others. Such was the case earlier this week. When I spotted our guest I was taken aback and immediately called on Natureman to hightail it to my side to see who was visiting.

In the middle of the hallway this is at whom we were staring. I should mention I do have relatives with the surname Wulff but this guy was not a relative.

Now I grew up in the South and I have seen a tarantula but in all my days in the End of the Rainbow Valley I have never seen a Wolf spider this big and neither had Natureman. I’ve since learned they can be larger. That fact would not have comforted me nor was I’m interested in letting him grow any bigger in the house. Natureman was given 2 choices: to either remove the unwanted guest in less than 2 minutes / I would take care of him my way.

Natureman promptly returned with a jar and lid. He inverted the jar over Mr. Wolf and I suggested a piece of paper to slide underneath to not injure our guest. You don’t think I wanted him taking residence elsewhere in the house, do you?

He was escorted out onto the front porch where Natureman released him.

I did grab my camera on the way out and was standing on a porch chair to take the photo. I couldn’t remember which spider it was that jumps but I wasn’t taking any chances… (Wolf spiders do pounce on their prey.) I kept an eye on him while Natureman was kind enough to get the tape measure so we’d have an idea how big Mr. Wolf was. 3 inches too long in my book.

No offense Mr. Wolf all I can say is I’m glad the hall light was on and that you now have new living conditions outside in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

For last week’s FOTO FRIDAY take a look at Home Country: https://lifeintheendoftherainbowvalley.home.blog/2019/08/02/foto-friday-home-cooking/

TBT: TSA , REALLY?

I was not going to be a happy camper if I missed our evening at the Rooted Spoon in Viroqua as the menu was a Vietnamese dinner. Luckily there were no snafus in my delayed journey back to the Coulee, my second attempt. I was not in the mood for another mechanical difficulty for sure. I want to share with you the day before as it my TSA experience that may actually save you some grief one day.

The problem started before I knew it was a problem. I simply went in the week before my Atlanta trip to renew my driver’s license which would expire on my birthday. Unbeknownst to me you don’t go home with your license the day you go in with the paperwork and to take your “mug shot.”

There is a new addition of this mini transparent photo which isn’t done on site. Your old license is hand punched with the tiny letters spelling the word VOID and you are given a letter

from the DMV saying you have paid for your new license which will arrive within two weeks, and this letter will suffice as proof. I wondered if my new license would arrive before my departure / would cause a problem. Well, it didn’t arrive and for ID sake, I took the old license with me because it had the photo and correct ID info and my license really didn’t expire until after my birthday the following week.

I had no issues going through with my old license en route even with the void punch but it was the return when after an hour Disneyland line in the TSA section. The TSA agent informed me that I had shown her a voided ID AND I would need to go to the regular security line (BTW even longer than the TSA one.) I explained I had shown her the letter because I thought she needed to see it and only when it was deemed an issue had I handed shown her the 3 day expired license so she could confirm identity. Big mistake. “You are using a voided ID.” Frustrated I explained but I only showed it to you to confirm my ID. ” She vehemently shook her head. I added, “Is there a possibility an agent could usher me over to the other section?” (Have you ever seen anybody trying to make their way back through those lines? It’s like a fish trying to swim upstream?)

Another agent did accompany me through the cordoned off sections without the throngs of people to the security section on the south side of the terminal where a supervisor was standing next to another security agent. I ‘m sweating bullets now if I am going to be allowed to fly. What are you doing here? inquired the supervisor. The agent doesn’t know so I explain the issue. He doesn’t want to see what’s in my hand but tells me I need to go to the TSA headquarters not be in this line. That’s back on the North side of the airport. The supervisor walks off as does the accompanying agent and I am left standing there looking befuddled. The agent who is sitting nearby checking tickets and ids beckons me over. She looks at both the letter and ID and quips this ‘just’ expired and it’s still good. She lets me through.

Relief is an understatement. But now I’m in the security line where you need to remove that plastic bag of liquids, computer, etc… Frazzled, I start pulling the items out and place them in the bins and I start walking through the xray until I realize I have forgotten to remove my slip on sandals and have to return to the bins and put them in…

Luckily my gate was in the same wing as security and I have some time to cool down before boarding. I’m there and will get to go home or so I thought. We board early and are even going to take off 10 minutes early when the captain announces we have a technical difficulty and it will take 2 hours to get the part and replace it… This means I will miss my connecting flight in O’Hare and the last flight home. I opted to spend an extra night in Atlanta rather than deal with being stuck in Chicago with the bonus to see that precious grand baby another morning…

Addendum: Guess who was the TSA agent the following day. Yep, the same agent. This time she glanced at the letter and informed me in the future this letter would not be permissible as it is not an official ID. I said nothing and thanked her. She let me pass. Go figure…

MISHEGAS ASIDE

Nowadays with all the mishegas (craziness) going on in the world one has to take a day off every once in a while and do something fun and talk about something totally unrelated…

A recent nice evening comes to mind during my Atlanta visit when I joined my daughter’s annual social book group gathering when the upcoming year is discussed with possible new reads.

My daughter had added a bright pink lei, not one of her usual accessories to her outfit as the evening’s theme was Hawaiian. I remembered a green lei in my granddaughter’s play kitchen and grabbed it for myself on the way out. (Don’t we all keep our leis in the kitchen? )

Hawaiian themed pillows greeted us on the hostess’s front porch as a sign that our hostess Amanda had worked on the evening’s theme. And, sure enough, the table was bedecked in Tiki glasses, some traditional in addition a Star Wars’s set with palm fronds, leaf plate chargers, and a centerpiece with bananas, pineapple, coconut and a lei . This was a gal after my own heart!

Hawaiian themed table

Amanda told us to pick a Tiki glass and offered us beverages which included the specials of the evening- Mai Tais / Pain Killers both rum based/ Hawaiian beer/ other beverages with umbrellas, of course!

It turns out Amanda had acquired and invested in quite an assortment of rum and mixers in order to make some rum recipes she wanted to try this summer and this investment turned into that domino effect…

How can you highlight your rum drinks without a Tiki Bar , right?

And a special ice machine needed to make those drinks with an enthusiastic hostess.

Our hostess with the mostess…

One has to appreciate these investments as they will become new fixtures in this household. The hostess was already included.

The menu, of course, continued the theme… listed in her hostess book:

Everything was delish. It was a great way to spend time with my daughter and her friends… We did squeeze in talking about favorite reads and picking future book club dates.

Here’s to evenings away from the world’s mishegas as the craziness will still be there tomorrow.