A year ago our mayor was ahead of our country in declaring Indigenous Day to replace Columbus Day. Why? History. American History books if they had been written correctly would not have begun in 1492 with the colonists but rather the Taino indigenous peoples who lived on the Caribbean islands for centuries. In fact, Italian born Cristóbal Colón ( Columbus) never even stepped foot on the land mass we call the U.S.

Cristóbol Colón we know him as Columbus

Columbus’ explorer history was not as shiny as the gold he was responsible for bringing back gold to his King and Queen. When he depleted the gold source from both the land and its people, he decided to go into the slave trade. Besides being sold into slavery the Taíno were also tortured, raped and killed by the 1,000’s.

Columbus’s legacy therefore is him being the “godfather of terrorism, genocide and colonization.” Not the same rosy picture I nor you learned in our History lessons.

We have wrongly not called these people Indigenous. Remember the fact when Columbus thought he was landing in India and named the Indigenous people Indians? To add further insult to the Indigenous people they would also be referred to as Native Americans. Once again the word American came from another Italian, an explorer and map maker, Amerigo Vespucci who also never stepped foot in our country.

Columbus totally disregarded the island’s name of Hispaniola and renamed it Isabela for his Queen. Colonization reared its ugly head in many ways including its conversion of the people they called ‘savages’ . We weren’t taught it was the colonizers who were the savages.

And our savage colonization mentality and behavior continued throughout centuries. Besides forcing religious conversions, indigenous children were stolen in later years only to place them in Indian boarding schools with horrid conditions, where their language was forbidden as were their traditional dress and values. This made their re entry into their own communities very difficult.

As late as the 70’s, children were placed with white families because our social workers only used a white cultural norm critieria. Legislation had to be enacted for custodial care to first be in their own communities.

“Statistics of missing and murdered U.S. Indigenous women number 5712. Our Indigenous women are 2.5 x more like to have sexually assaulted women. 4 out of 5 indigenous women are affected by violence while homicide is the leading cause of death for Indigenous women ages 10 to 24.”

We have broken every treaty we had with our indigenous people.

There are over 500 tribes recognized in the states today. In Wisconsin we have 6 . Ojibwe (Chippewa)consisting of 6 smaller groups by where they live :Lac Courte Oreilles, Lac du Flambeau, Red Cliff, Bad River, Mole Lake, and St Croix .

In addition to Ojibwe there are also Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Potawatami, Oneida and Stockbridge-Mohican /Brotherton. The Brotherton tribe wasn’t originally here but had been moved 5 x and decided to settle here. They walked all the way from the east coast.

Knowing now what we do it makes sense to not have Columbus Day to martyrize a terrorist, right? We should honor the Indigenous People who have let us live on their land.

We certainly have committed way too many injustices. It’s time to make amends.

*photos borrowed from FaceBook postings.

  • Kudos to one of our city’s many activities yesterday in celebration of Indigenous Day 2019, Elizabeth Digby-Britten for the information presented above in her presentation of ” Why There is a Need for Change.”


I’m one of those people who always follows the rules because I knew even when I was little that if I didn’t, I ‘d get caught. Well, let me just say Friday was the day this gal got in trouble and the week ended as it had started, not well. I found myself a lot poorer emotionally and financially. Let me explain…

It was a tough week spent with folks going through different stages of cancer. Friday just fit right in with my cancer week – a cold, blustery nasty day and I was running late to meet a friend at Señor Villa’s restaurant. I hadn’t seen her in ages and a lot had happened since our last visit with her husband being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I was anxious to give her a hug…

Well both the restaurant and street parking were non existent on the north side of the establishment. I decided to head west and then south around the block and up the alley to see if any spots remained on the south side of their building. Nope, every space was filled except across the lot, their neighbor, Taco Bell’s lot was completely empty. Not one single car but I thought it’d be more considerate to park farther back in Taco Bell’s lot so if Taco Bell’s clientele arrived they could park closer to that establishment. I was running late, had had a rough week and didn’t look around but made a mad dash for the door. I didn’t even bother to grab my coat nor purse to run inside. It’s just been one of those weeks. My mind was elsewhere obviously.

My friend and I ended up talking longer than expected and before heading to my car for me to get some money, we headed out the front to put some stuff in her car and lo and behold upon Señor Villa’s front door was a white piece of paper with the words to the effect Don’t Park at Taco Bell’s, They will Tow. OMG, I bet I hadn’t seen the sign at the other entrance because somebody held the doors open for me.

We hurried back through the restaurant and there a long bed tow truck was removing a car. It was white. Mine is silver. My sigh of relief was short lived as I looked past the tow truck bed and my car was no where in sight. In fact, it was easy to see it wasn’t there because Taco Bell’s large lot still was empty. I kept repeating, my car is gone. I couldn’t believe it. The rule follower had obviously broken someone’s rule. I asked the tow company’s employee if he towed my car and he replied “another guy got it and it was back at the towing company/ probably in a different lot. Talk to Sue.” I snapped a pic of his truck door to make sure I went to the right business.

Thank goodness my friend was still with me and while she drove me I called Craig’s Towing Company to ask the whereabouts of my car. The gal who answered was covering for Sue but she replied, “it probably was there.”

If you have experienced missing a car it’s super upsetting and it gets worse. I asked my friend to come in with me while I blubbered to Sue about my car getting towed and that I wasn’t even in the restaurant that long. Sue said they received a call from Taco Bell and there are signs posted there. Okay, so how much do I owe you? She’s writes out the bill and the $200 plus tax just blew me away. What? You’re not even 5 miles away.”(Actually it’s 1.3 miles.) When asking about a break, she quips that folks get reimbursed from their insurance. To add insult to injury, get this they don’t take credit cards nor checks, it has to be cash. What?

Now I’m losing it, what a racket! Who all is in on this cut? People are expected to be carrying around $200. Are you kidding me? She tells me that’s what the rate is. I can go use an ATM machine to get the cash. (I might be the only one in the U.S. but I have never used my ATM card. ) I remember my purse is in the ‘impounded’ car as I had just gone to the bank the day before and cashed a check. Whew I’m still seething so upon getting in my car to count how much money I had, I dialed my insurance agent. Of course they don’t they cover towing a non road side service. When all the other folks are claiming this tow from Craig’s Towing as it’s not road side assistance, there’s dishonesty going on. Part of me just wants to drive off but the goody two shoes in me says, give them what you got. Luckily I also had some egg money and went back in with $200. This is all I have. What about the tax? Well, you needed cash. This is it.

I walked out totally flustered and once in the car reiterated my apologies and thanks to my friend who needed to get back to the hospital and bid her farewell.

Time to call Taco Bell- The gal who answers says she ‘s not the one who called it in, hands me over to the guy who did and he utters stuff about 2 signs one high and one low. I asked why would you have someone towed when your lot is empty? No answer, he hands the phone to Sean, another manager who I also confront about my exasperation with the towing and use of Craig’s towing for the gouging infraction and insistence on cash. Why don’t you use another towing company? He starts telling about an accident he had and didn’t have insurance and Don’s Towing charges more. I hear laughter in the background whether he had me on speaker phone/ his staff was just laughing at his BS’ing…Unprofessional I wasn’t in the mood for, it was empathy I was searching. I retorted I have towing insurance and they don’t cover it, the towing service’s suggestion is to lie. He starts in on corporate America.

Finally he asks, “What do you expect me to do?”

“Well,” I said, “First, you don’t have to call in towing when your lot is empty. You could put a warning note on a car. 2) You don’t have to use Craig’s Towing for the reasons I mentioned. Someone made the contract with them.” I threw in at the end that I hoped nobody he knows ever gets cancer either…

It was a rough week and I’m mad at myself for not taking in my surroundings when parking, I’m p.o’ed at Taco Bell for having some vendetta with their neighbor and taking it out on the other’s customers, I’m mad at Craig’s towing company for gouging and demanding cash.

You are right if you say it’s business… Yes, they’re in it to make money but that doesn’t mean there can’t be humanity.

I’m thinking about calling Taco Bell’s corporate offices to report this unnecessary towing abuse. I alerted my insurance to keep an eye on those receipts from Craig’s Towing too.

AND let me add if you want good Mexican food while you’re in La Crosse on West Avenue, go to Señor Villa’s and by all means don’t park in Taco Bell’s large empty lot!

I know my venting doesn’t help anybody’s cancer situation nor expenses but sometimes the world around us needs to be a little kinder…


Stopping quickly for Kodak moments on our fall country road jaunts seems to occur pretty often. Most of the time traffic is pretty sparse so it doesn’t create an issue. But backing up for this shot nearly ended up with us in a ditch.

Luckily Natureman stopped in the nick of time.

If you ‘ve been wondering what to do with your dead tree stump what’s pictured below might be your upcycling solution.

Clever use of the tree stump and a very cute couple of mailbox greeters!

Have you upcyled anything lately you’d like to share. Do share. I’ll be glad to add your upcycling idea!

Friend Judi shared that her sister and brothers-in-law left her these two rocks saying they played with them and couldn’t figure out what to do with them.

Clever solution!



After a morning of harvesting and freezing 15 bags of brussel sprouts a reward was awaiting Natureman and me. Off we jaunted in Red Cherry the Miata on a beautiful fall day to for a 1 1/2 hour road trip a little east of Fountain City, Wisconsin to revisit Kinstone on this its 7th Autumn Open House.

Nothing beats music in the out of doors on a gorgeous day in a beautiful setting where the wind carries the music. We were able to catch the end of the Bus Boys musical performance on the porch of the Education Center

followed by Peter Phippen and Victoria Shoemaker Live in the Great Stone Circle,

Phippen & Shoemaker

ending with James Grant back on the porch.

James Grant

Terrific music by all …

Since this wasn’t our first visit I just let the environs dictate which way to wander/ponder. The little garden beds by the Education Center first beckoned me with its chard’s striking color and the sunshine kissing its produce.

Unusual shaped beehive in foreground

After visiting the goats and bee hives, Natureman decided to wander while I headed to the Stone Circle.

We weren’t alone letting Kinstone’s magic speak to us. Whether for contemplation, an artist’s inspiration, education/

photographer’s paradise…

Kinstone’s a very welcoming place.

where its Stone Circle of 15 megalithic stones are set at least 6 feet down with some rocks towering up to 2o ft over its visitors.

Smaller stones provide seating / props.

Flute notes with drum beats wafted throughout the space… Those not seated, touched the stone/ circled the area barefoot letting the music’s rhythm mark their steps. Some closed their eyes allowing the music to connect to the energies of this spiritual place. These stones were placed purposefully to align the seasonal sunrises/sunsets.

Peter Phippen

We joined the last Kinstone tour with its creator Kristine Beck, owner of this family farmland who enlightened us with stories of 3 of Kinstone’s sites, 3 Witnesses, Stone Circle and the Chapel.

Three Witnesses is a circle maze of dry stacked rocks which was specifically designed for its site. Kristine explained how all the rock was chosen and its story with the female stone architect Thea Alvinwho led a workshop for 10 participants on stacking rock. This type of flat rock originally was unavailable but fortunately a local rock quarry found a shelf to provide the needed truckloads of 1500+ needed rock 3 days before the intended project site workshop.

gravity defying circlar window in 3 Witnesses created in 2014

Flanking Kristine below are 2 slabs (2/3 granite Witnesses) of the same megalithic stone of the inverted wart granite table in front of her.

The sunshine reflects the sky above … see below

Check out that reflection on the polished granite
Natureman soaking it all in…

The second stop (pictured) below was the stone circle where we had listened to the flute and drum music…

The last stop was the cordwood and stained glass chapel.

Check out the Kinstone’s website for a wonderful experience in our own Driftless Stonehenge and its vision.

A former blog entry may also give you more insight…

CROPP ‘ed…

Actually I did spend Saturday cropping photos for future scrapbook pages but the previous Saturday I was attending CROPP (Coulee Region of Organic Produce Pool) now known as Organic Valley (OV) which held their annual investors’s meeting for the first time without its founder, George Seamon. Seamon’s missing face was not the only change as this year it was held at Stoney Creek Inn rather than near/at one of Organic Valley’s headquarters.

We were assured CROPP’s mission has remained the same ” to save farm families today and for the future.” The focus is still the Organic Valley product consisting of integrity, the cooperative, its independence, sustainability and a stable price. When markets change, they will be investigated, discussed and fixed by maximizing the value and optimizing the supply chain by changing its structure, process and systems accordingly.

Following this strategy led to the decision to remove 50 positions within Organic Valley. OV and their farmers are hurting from not only the floods, but milk sales are down as are their prices. OV has diversified even more in their distribution of organic products and creating store brands.

A new face was also brought in to market ULTRA, a new product which was part of the table’s centerpiece sitting in a mini ice trough. ULTRA will be on dairy cold case shelves in certain markets this month boasting filtrated, protein, less sugar, added value, nothing artificial nor use of toxic products. We also become taste testers as we could sample our table’s centerpiece. Let me promote the chocolate ULTRA as it was really rich and good.

Besides hearing about marketing and distribution, we heard the numbers, seeing last year’s financial report and about the Farm Family of the year. Good questions and lunch followed the presentations.

Lunch one of my favorite parts was served family style and was deliciously local and organic as always. It’s always a treat to see and visit with friends we only get to see once a year.


Flying nowadays is just not fun. New baggage rules, complications with connections, arrival/ departure times, gate changes, getting bumped possibility, runway snafus, mechanical difficulties and yes, weather all present a challenge for today’s passengers.

I’m dreading having to take an upcoming flight because the airlines actually changed both days’s departure and arrival times significantly. My choices to then alter the flights were limited since they either incurred spending twice as much time flying with numerous stops/a substantial cost increase. With their imposed changes I lose a half day of my trip on both ends…

I picked the times so that if any delays occurred, there would still be other flights to take. You see there’s a wedding I ‘d like to attend since it happens to be my son’s and there was a reason I bought the tickets in advance including a day earlier arrival.

Today my plan is to call the airline’s customer service. I’ll let you know how that goes… GRRRRR.

BTW it doesn’t matter what airlines you choose.

An End to a Generation of Siegel Girls…

My Mom had a brother who died young before marrying and my Dad was an only child and his nearest relatives lived up North ( we lived down South). Hence zero aunts/ uncles – thus no first cousins…

Before I graduated college I went from not having any relatives to inheriting about 80 extended family members as the guy I was dating seriously (and would eventually marry) took me to a family reunion as the eldest of his 5 aunts was celebrating her 70th birthday. Voila Family!

Yesterday I attended the last funeral of that generation… 6 sisters and spouses gone, all gone. The last aunt, Aunt Bert lived to almost her 104th birthday… Aunt Bert was as sharp as a tack until the end.

Her family members and some congregants remembered her with stories at her funeral service. Their words brought both tears and laughs. There were stories to which we could all relate.

As I stood in the cemetery viewing the headstones, the memories flowed. It wasn’t my Mother-in-law who was the first to make me cry but it was Aunt Bert. Aunt Bert had a severe bark of a sergeant. (I was the kind of kid who could be reprimanded by a stern look.) I was to learn Aunt Bert’s bark was more severe than her bite. It would become evident she had a very big heart.

5 of the 6 sisters on a Rock Island visit with my daughter Lori
L to R Ann, Frieda, Bertha, Es and Mary (missing Rosie)

Aunt Bert lived in the same bungalow home for 71 years where she raised 3 children, outlived a husband, daughter, 2 grandchildren, all her sisters and brother-in-laws. Her lap held all our newborns and even bigger kids including 10 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 4 great great grandchildren.

Space had nothing to do whether you spent the night at Aunt Bert’s. Of course, you spent the night. Over the years we have eaten a lot of meals around her dining room table / wherever there was a place to sit down. Of course, her condolence meal was held in the very same home.

Our last cooking endeavor together was during a spontaneous visit when I threw baking ingredients in the car to make up a batch of her sisters’s strudel recipe which I learned from my mother-in-law. Aunt Bert informed me there was too much patschkying and she ‘d let me finish it up. So when it was her 100th birthday, I knew her freezer needed restocking with strudel. A niece of hers was kind enough to meet me en route to have a hand off and bring it down to Aunt Bert. 101 pieces with that extra one to grow on… That strudel tradition continued for the following years.

Aunt Bert and my mother-in-law Esther were really close and shared a lot in weekly letters to each other. They even shared the the same birth day, October 26. Below is a song I wrote for Esther’s 80th, An Ode to the Siegel Sisters sung to the tune of Oh Susanna.

I had Aunt Bert’s October strudel batch ready for her 104th birthday, 105 pieces. The batch was present at her condolence meal. I think I heard a bark that “it was her strudel” followed by the words, “clean your plates.” And they did…

May your memory always be a blessing Aunt Bert.

No one will ever forget your laugh…