Every Sunday of Labor Day for 17 years folks have been gathering at Alma Beach on Harbor Boulevard to enjoy the arts. The festival lasts from 11-7 with food trucks, art booths and great music.

The morning breeze off the Mississippi added a chill to the air which deemed wearing a jacket/ sweatshirt . It didn’t take long to warm up with the day’s first musical group, Patchouli, one of my favorite duos. They settled not too far away in Maiden Rock so it’s amazing we get to hear them a couple of times/ year. I always look forward to seeing them and hearing where they’ve been and their new tunes. Julie and Bruce were celebrating their 22nd anniversary weekend with us. The couple has given some 4500 concerts during that time and had recently returned from another trip to China. They mostly perform their own work …

Julie shared a Chinese cultural experience as their playlist has to be submitted ahead of time. Before the concert their manager had heard the song they were warming up with and insisted they play it. The two were leery as it was not in the playlist. During the concert they decided to go for it and wouldn’t you know the audience loved it and joined in… the song , Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sounds of Silence. We joined in too.

Both add their own talented personas to their Indie Rock performances.

Patchouli and Terra Guitarra never disappoint. Julie’s voice and Bruce’s instrumentals whether it’s the guitar / flute/whatever are transcendental. We are so fortunate to have them in our area.

While the next group set up, we grabbed some lunch and visited the artist booths… New to the booths was a special one… Natureman inquired how old do you have to be an Old Geezer. It turns out he was older than all of them…

We returned to the music tent as the next group, The High 48’s was playing blue grass and would be followed by Left Wing Bourbon and Four Pints Shy.

After a couple of songs we opted to head back to Alma to visit some stores and galleries.

My favorite Bluebird is closing as are a couple other lovely businesses.

Road repair during seasonal business has wreaked havoc on these small businesses. So sad to see them go.

Hopefully new owners will give Alma a chance as it’s a great little river town with a wonderful Music and Arts Festival!


Don’t you just love it when you come across a movie that nobody has told you about and it is really enjoyable? It turns out this movie had oodles of awards and nominations.

Such was our summer sleeper in the End of the Rainbow Valley creeping in right before summer’s end. The name of this NETFLIX find is called The Sapphires, a story about a young talented Australian aboriginal musical group who win a competition to go to perform for the U.S. troops in Viet Nam in 1968 no less…

The writer took some poetic license with this true story but if you like a movie that includes great soul music, you’re in for a treat. Throw in ‘love, friendship and a war.’

I learned more about Australia’s aboriginal population being denied citizenship. Did you know the oldest peoples on the earth were relegated to Aboriginal Reserves and church missions? Their children were kidnapped to be raised with “white ways” as late as the 1970’s. Rabbit Proof Fence (’02) is another great movie that tells more of this story. But now Walkabout (’71) and Kon Tiki (’12) will also be on our to see movie list.

If you ‘ve seen some good flicks, do tell. Who wants to waste time on mediocre flicks, right?


This week’s FOTO FRIDAY does have to do with food but perhaps not in the way you’re thinking… As you know we rescued Balto, our 85 pound husky shepherd late spring and we are still all adjusting. That being said behavior issues are continually being dealt with and as our newest member becomes more comfortable in his new abode, he has been taking liberties.

We have even invested in a baby cam to check in on him. Last night as we sat at a concert in the park without him a peek in at the End of the Rainbow Valley found him snuggled in, sound asleep on the leather sofa. One of the sofa’s pillows was on the floor. Natureman doesn’t like those extra pillows either. Balto’s not supposed to be on furniture but I wasn’t going to yell at him to get off the couch and scare him from a sound sleep.

Returning home another scene was awaiting us. Apparently Balto needed a snack when he had awakened and the raw hide bone I had left for him was not what he had in mind for an evening snack…

There on the floor were the remains of the Pup Peroni bag to which he had helped himself. The bag had been housed on the back of the kitchen countertops. Apparently humans aren’t the only ones to have difficulties opening those sealed bags, paws also have an issue…

Do you have any pet mischief photos to share? Send them my way.

Last week’s FOTO was


The Happy Bookers, my book club add to my social life in more than just books. Two of our members have husbands who have taken their guitars and voices on the road. It was time to go hear Susie’s Sal playing in a vineyard close by. To make it even more special it was Susie’s birthday.

Sal and Dean (photo credit to Connie)

So over the hill and through the dale towards Viroqua’s Vernon Vineyards we went a couple Sundays ago to hear the duo of Sal and Dean .

It was one of those drop dead gorgeous days in the coulee region.

Connie & Susie

It was no surprise Susie’s long time friends Connie, another Happy Booker, and husband Doug would also be there to help Susie celebrate-

The surprised birthday girl & Georgia

BUT Georgia and Pat, now Madison residents, had driven in to surprise the birthday girl. (Georgia and I knew each other from Jazzercise and teaching Spanish too.)

How fun it that?

Visiting on Vernon Vineyards deck…

We toasted the birthday girl, visited while listening to good music with some birthday dedications, and even ‘cut the rug.’

Pat, Susie and Georgia cutting loose

An extra birthday bonus was Vernon Vineyards had just gotten a hay ride cart and we would be the first to tour through the vineyards with the owner no less.

We heard all about the vineyards and the challenges involved in planning, planting and harvesting.

We learned about the different frontenac grapes in addition to future plans of adding on to the Pedretti wedding barn venue with lodging.

The owner also shared his future vision of building a new home overlooking a different part of the vineyards.

It was a terrific Sunday afternoon helping Susie celebrate her birthday. Some days one just has to stop and smell the grapes whether it’s your birthday or not…


Bill Miller, Mohican singer/songwriter

Can you imagine why a 3 times Grammy award winner would travel hundreds of miles to perform for a Celebration of Life for someone he didn’t really know? Perhaps because he, Bill Miller, like the person we were remembering was also abused, he as a child and she as a wife by her first husband. A wife who left the abusive marriage and then made her life’s work helping other abused women.

The person whose life we were celebrating was Linda Riddle, born in ’53, raised on an Iowa farm and moved to southern Minnesota in the 80’s where her strong work ethic would provide the tenaciousness needed to help 1000’s of women during some 20 plus years. Starting in Houston County Women’s Resource Center where she was executive director followed by having the same role in the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (DAIP) in Duluth. Natureman met Linda in the 80’s when he was working on the Duluth Project’s curriculum addressing male violence.

Over the years Linda took abused women into her home/ found them safe shelter/ provided friendship/ counsel /sought funds to help these women. Linda also travelled abroad as an advocate for “women’s health, safety, and well-being” even aiding in the fight against human trafficking.

Linda’s afternoon Celebration of Life took place at the Pump House from 2-5pm starting with a welcome by Linda’s beautiful daughter Celeste on the back patio. Celeste reminds me so much of her mother…

Bill Miller used his flute and melodious and heartfelt vocal indigenous music with beautiful renditions of Amazing Grace and Halleluyah accompanied with stories including the abuse by his father to him and his mother. Tears fell as he shared and added the message of male tears being shed as okay. He had lost both his own mother and son within a year of each other…

With a special fan of eagle feathers he blessed Celeste giving her 2 feathers from his own collection.

Touching to say the least.

Inside the Pump House was a lovely buffet a la Co-op, photo boards and a power point in addition to Linda’s art work in leather, painting and jewelry. It was the latter how Natureman first introduced us as Linda was on the UW-L campus with a booth for her jewelry many moons ago…

sample of Linda’s leather work
Enamel jewelry …

Remembrances followed the music inside the Pump House Theater with 8 family members/ friends. Those speaking included Linda’s : husband Dick (Richard)of 18 years, close friend Mary Ann, brother Jim, Rosemary, Houston County Domestic Center friend, Lizzy (Co-op), son Abram, local activist June Kjome and daughter Celeste.

Amidst their great stories descriptors and nouns included : advocate, beautiful heart, artistic, creative, innovative, fashionista, full of life, fidgeting, conversationalist, gardener, talented, cook, political activist and candidate, generous, fearless, calm, tranquil, positive and creator of good memories. I’m sure I forgot many others… but you get the picture, right?

Our paths crossed over the years at political gatherings re: social justice and environmental issues, etc… In her job at the People’s Food Co-Op I experienced cooking classes she organized. She’d both work and be attentive at all the different events.

Linda even Jazzercised with me while dancing to her own drummer with all her heart and energy. To continue to fit Jazzercise in her day, she started attending the 6:30 am class.

Who knew an aneurism the size of a golf ball was behind her eye? It was a shock to all of us for her to be taken from our world so soon… She lived such a full life and touched so many lives from so many diverse sectors in different communities. I bet some 200 folks were able to be at her Celebration of Life with many more wishing they could be present…

The one descriptor I personally would like to add was ‘righteous’. Linda Riddle was a righteous woman. Our world is all the better for having had her in it.

To those that knew her, may her memory always be a blessing…

If you would like to make a donation in remembrance of Linda:

Non profit :

Bluff Country Family Resources, Inc. 114 Main St, Hokah , MN 55941 or

Life House, 102 1st Street, Duluth, MN 55941


Weathermen promised a gorgeous Sunday for the 44th Great River Folk Fest and although the clouds rolled in, only a couple sprinkles dampened the fest grounds. Add to that cooler temps and we consider ourselves blessed. Good music, good art, good food and good people.

Unfortunately, we were only able to attend the last day of the festival. Attendees were able to feast on all of the arts each day of the weekend as Friday night there was an open mic followed by Andy Hughes and the Mighty Few and The Cactus Blossoms. Saturday featured Heatbox with the Great River Folk Band and the night’s concert included Eddie Allen, The Vogts Sisters, Emily Early, Charlie Parr and Old Salt Union. Sunday am was filled with yoga, songwriters session and the The Seeger Sessions. Kids had their very own tent to make crafts and hear music at the same time. A definite win win for the kiddos.

On Sunday afternoon Natureman partook in the sing-a-long while I finished my food booth shift. Afterwards we both were treated to hearing some travel themed music of Merry Weathers, Greg Gilbertson, Blaine Howard and one of the Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers.

Merry Weathers
Joe Hart of the Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers
(missed Nikki Grossman on Sunday)

Russ Parrish, 2019 Songwriter winner of the year

The 2019 song writer winner for the Fest was Minnesotan Russ Parrish who opened this year’s closing program for John Smith & Friends. What a charismatic talented young musician!

John Smith and Friends did justice to closing off the weekend with personal old and new songs, one of my all time favorites, Kicking this Stone and a new favorite Family Artifacts along with his daughter Elisi (vocals), long time friend Dan Sebranek (lead guitarist) and Larry Dalton (bass).

John Smith and Friends
l to r Larry Dalton ( Under Paris Skies, String Ties), John Smith, Elisi Smith-Waller (Crooked Willow), and Dan Sebranek (String Ties)
David Schipper , Fest Master

Thanks to all the musicians and to all those who work tirelessly bringing our community the Great River Folk Fest and to its ‘Fest Master’ who has taken on this job for 4 years. It definitely takes a village…

Kudos on year # 44!


Natureman and I weren’t the only ones as busy as bees this week with harvesting corn, baking 4 batches of strudel and chocolate raspberry rugelach which are now residing in the freezer while processing and canning half a bushel of tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. Busy, busy.

Take a look at who else was busy showing us how to do beeeeeee busy…

Have a wonderful weekend no matter what you’ll ‘be’ doing.

Last week’s FOTO FRIDAY was Shedding: