|Dark clouds approaching|
|Here comes the storm|
This last week has been hot and humid. La Crosse has set new record high temperatures nearly every other day. Highs in the 90s, lows in the upper 70s, and humidity of 50% and 60%. Needless to say, the air conditioner has been running around the clock, as much to pull the stickiness out of the air as to cool it.
Now the front has passed on to the east, the thunder has lessened somewhat, the winds are just blustery and the rain is steady. We didn't get much rain in the last month or so, and this is a relief, for my lawn and, more important, the farmers all around who feed us.
|Moments before bolting|
Patty, my cat, has developed a sixth sense for thunder storms. I think she must feel the ozone in the air or something, because she's upstairs and ensconced in her happy place before a drop of rain ever falls. She is also an excellent watch cat: whenever someone comes to the door (or even when the neighbors take their trash out) her head pops up in alarm and she's gone.
|The hills are alive|
It was only weeks ago, it seems, that the trees were emerging from their dormancy, budding, every green possible springing up in the neighborhoods, on hillsides, the bare canvas of winter suddenly covered in verdant vegetation. And with that reawakening came the burgeoning growth of my yards, both front and back. I got the lawn mower up and working a few weeks ago and tackled both the front and back yards.
|My little meadow|
Since then, I have again mowed the front, but decided to leave the back yard to go fallow, since it's more a collection of meadow plants than actual grass. There are tiny purple and white flowers, low-growing greenery and patches of tall grass. I think it's rather pretty.
I let it go wild because I don't use the yard but, since allowing it to take its own course, I have found that the neighborhood wildlife are quite fond of it. I have a couple rabbits who come and hide in the grass while munching it. The squirrels like it, and the birds visit every morning and afternoon, especially the robins.
I know at some point I'll have to cut it back at least once, but since no one sees it but me and my backyard guests, I'm in no hurry. The front yard, however, is another matter. Facing one of the most traveled streets in town, everyone gets a gander at it, so I try to keep it at least presentable.
At first I was horrified at all the weeds in the lawn. But as I went about town, I realized that only the expensive houses with pristine yards (and a full compliment of gardeners) had grass lawns. Everyone else (including the city parks) just kept the weeds and plants in among the grass mowed down to an acceptable height, so that has been my strategy, as well.
|Best cheese shop I've found in Wisconsin|
My brother Steve has officially retired, and we are committed to planning day trips, since we now both have our days free. It being summer, his wife Pam (a teacher at the local community college) may come along if she's not busy taking her classes online this summer. A few weeks ago, we took our first outing up to Nelson, along the Mississippi, to visit the amazing cheese shop there.
We stopped and had lunch (the cheese shop is also a sandwich shop). I picked up some Jarlsberg and a cousin to brie (can't remember the name, but it was scrumptious) after having a reuben sandwich with a cream soda.
|Toy robots for days|
We then headed over the river to the Minnesota side, driving down to Lake Toys, a complex of toy store, toy museum, lunch shop, fudge store, carousel and mini golf course. The only other time I'd been there was in March. The snow was still on the ground and the mini golf was totally covered.
This time around I got to see it active, with several water features. I was amused to see the water was tinted blue, as though the water itself wasn't inviting enough. I also stumbled upon a couple fun mirrors that I'd never noticed before; embarrassing, because they are in the main hallway of the place.
We continued south to Winona (stomping grounds of Amanda and Natalie), then over the bridge to the Wisconsin side and back to Ettrick. It was a pleasant day, and I got to purchase cheeses (though my next trip to Nelson I have sworn to be a little bolder in my exotic cheese choices).
|Pam and the toy museum|
Beyond that, I haven't been up to a whole lot. Moon Tunes (a series of weekly free concerts at Riverside Park) started last week, but it's too muggy to sit out there for any time. Artspire, the annual arts street festival, was last Saturday, and the same excuse applies for not visiting that.
|Waiting for egg rolls. Photo by Pete Solberg|
I replenished my stock of Kickapoo maple syrup (dynamite stuff), broke down and got a loaf of chocolate cherry zucchini bread, and bought a hand-thrown coffee mug, which I have yet to use. (I mean, who wants to brew up a piping hot pot of coffee when it's 80º at 9 a.m.?) After this consumer frenzy, Pam and I stopped by the food truck. She got egg rolls and rice, I got sweet and sour chicken and rice. Heading back down the line of stalls, we chose cookies for dessert.
|Artificial intelligence names|
colors. Just because
My sister Kittie sent an e-mail recently, asking if I had old family photos, as she was looking for a particular one to use in a playbill for a show she helps put on each year. I did have old photos, so I dragged them down and spread everything out on the dining room table. It was certainly a stroll down memory lane.
I didn't find the one she was looking for, but I did successfully separate the photos out into separate piles for the five siblings. Then, this afternoon, Kittie called again and said Steve had some photos, as well. So he's bringing them over tomorrow, along with great-niece Natalie. Steve has a doctor's appointment, so this will be my first time watching Natalie solo. I think I'll enlist her in a separation of the new old photos and see if we can't find something more appropriate depicting her great-aunt Kittie.
The one constant over the weeks has been my reacquaintance with the French language via Rosetta Stone. As dedicated readers will know, Kittie, her husband Dave and myself are going to Paris in October to attend Le Salon du Chocolat. And although just about everyone who deals with the public there speaks English, I want to be able to speak to and understand what the locals are saying in their native language. It's also a good way to reactivate the four years of high school French I took and keep my gray cells alive and hopping.
|Just because again|
Beyond that, I've started binge watching "Leftovers" on HBO. I've been watching the first two seasons on HBO GO on my laptop, then I plan to segue to the show's third season now on cable.
Also, I watch the news channels on a daily basis, waiting patiently for things to unravel, for the truth to come to light. I have a feeling that, once all is known, Watergate will pale in comparison to the misdeeds of Trump, his campaign, his cronies and, indeed, his entire presidency.
But, as with Watergate, it will be a long haul between the smelling of the malignant detritus and the vivisection of the entire panorama of ill deeds. Next year's elections will be interesting.