lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
We went to LaCrosse, as we do, over Memorial Day Weekend.  My mother gave me some violets and hosta, which I quick put in the ground as soon as we got home.  I think a lot of my empty spaces are finally filled out.  Hopefully, my next problem (and I can already see a little bit of it in my established sections of the faux Japanese Garden) will be overcrowding.  As far as I'm concerned, that's a good problem to have.  I'm pleased and amazed that I managed all this without spending a penny.  Everything came as gifts from friends and family!  The only thing I'm going to have to buy is compost and mulch.

Our trip was relaxing.  Not much to report there.  We had a lot of "porch time" with my folks. The only excursion we did was to a nearby prairie park.  My mom had wanted to see prairie smoke in the wild and we happened to catch a bunch of it in bloom. 

prairie smoke
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I just woke up a little while ago. We're still in LaCrosse, visiting my folks, but we'll be headed on the road soon. I took a few pictures yesterday when we went hiking along the marsh trail.

Red-wing blackbirds are Shawn's favorite bird. Since this one posed so nicely for me, I took the shot:

My favorite flower is the woodland violet, particularly the white ones. I managed to catch this elusive creatures as well:

My dad loves great blue herons, and I actually got a couple of really good shots of this one:


In this second shot, you can sort of get a sense of how high the water is. It's been a very rainy, cold spring and all the rivers are getting close to flood stage. As we walked our usual path, we noticed several 'sink holes' in the gravel. Mason and I stuck a long stick into one of them. We hit sand almost right away, but the sand was wet a long way down.

Grandpa and Mason on the bridge:



All and all a good visit. We're about to have some breakfast, a bit more coffee and conversation, and the hit the road... probably just in time to drive back through thunderstorms (again. We did this same thing on the way back from Indiana.)
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Despite the fact that three people asked after me by text and Twitter, I was not at WisCON. Perhaps one of my many dopplegangers were, however. Being a short, pudgy, butching-looking woman whose con-wear consists of jeans, shirt and vest (and sometimes tie) makes for a lot of confusion, particularly at WisCON, the Feminist Science Fiction Convention.

Instead, I went to my hometown of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Some things I'll bet you didn't know about LaCrosse. It is the home of the World's Largest Six-Pack. The six-pack is actually a beer aging vat, so it is, in fact, full of beer. LaCrosse has always been a brewing town and one of the reasons that I hate beer to this day is that the sickly, over-powering smell of hops is the smell of a hot, muggy summer day to me.

Also, LaCrosse is part of the "Driftless Zone," a geographically unique part of the United States defined by the fact that it has several odd rock formations carved and/or deposited during the first ice age, and was missed by the second ice age, whose glaciers flattened the Great Plains. So, even though I grew up in the Midwest, which people typically think of as flat, I was surrounded by sandstone bluffs (mini-mountains, people tell me they're akin to foothills), swamps, and deep river valleys:

Here's the view on an overcast/rainy day from the top of Granddad's Bluff looking out toward a nearby bluff. On a clear day, you can see three states (Minnesota [across the river], Wisconsin [of course], and Iowa [just to the south].)
lacrosse 015

My father tells me there's going to be a documentary about the Driftless Area on some National Geographic type show, and one of the things he learned when listening to people discuss this is that the Driftless Area supposedly has as much biodiversity as the Rainforest. This does not surprise me in the least. More often than not, the hatching of the mayflies in LaCrosse is VISIBLE BY DOPPLER RADAR.

Great Blue Herons are such a common sight, we caught this picture of one on our traditional hike through the RABBIT (River and Bluff Bicentennial Intra-City Trail) trail:
lacrosse 046

Because a swampy marshland seperates the North Side from the South Side of town, my North Side high school's mascot was "Swampy" a red-and-white faux fur swamp monster whom I regularly portrayed at football games and school rallies.

Yes, that's right, I was was a high school mascot.

Oh, and another last bit of trivia: supposedly there's a Native American legend about LaCrosse (which was supposedly named for the games the Voyageurs saw the American Indians playing that reminded them of LaCrosse) that where three rivers meet there will never be a tornado. We have three rivers that converge in LaCrosse (the Black, the LaCrosse, and the Mississippi Rivers). That was all good until about two years ago, when my dad was in the hospital and a tornado jumped right over Gunderson Clinic (which we were in at the time) and tore a path through the South Side. People didn't want to call it a tornado, but I actually saw the debris field.

If you can't tell, I adore the town I grew up in. It was ultimately too small for me, but if my partner weren't the State Archivist of MINNESOTA, I would seriously consider returning there once Mason was finished with school.

One family tradition we have at every visit is "porch time." We often combine "porch time" with "talking smart," but here's Mason engaged in reading on the "veranda" (which was also jokingly call the lovely three-season porch my folks have in the house I grew up in [built in 1890-something, I believe. It has an open staircase, among other things...])
lacrosse 035

Here's Mason participating in another LaCrosse tradition: rocket ballons--
lacrosse 004

My folks and Mason at the top of Granddad's Bluff (on the way to check out the new observation area.)
lacrosse 012

Mason and me investigating a hollowed out, collapsed tree on the Marsh (RABBIT) trail:
lacrosse 042

I hear I missed a good WisCON, but I had a great deal of fun catching up with my folks.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
So, in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, they have this thing called Oktoberfest.  It's kind of a big deal.  This last Saturday was the kick-off, which is a THREE HOUR parade, which includes every highschool band in the area as well as the UW-L alumni band, floats, politicians, and... giant semi trucks.  You know, the usual, except with more leiderhosen. 

My family went down to visit my folks and to participate in the insanity.  Though, I'm happy to say that the North Side, where I'm from and where I have always celebrated Oktoberfest (sorry, South Side, folks, the big fair grounds is NOT my scene,) was dry this year.  They still had all the usual carnival rides and midway games, just minus the drunken stupidity. Mason fell instantly in love, and also blew through a ton of our cash.  But, I got to relive the experience of the Tilt-a-Whirl, which... honestly, is still pretty awesome.  Mason also got his face painted on Sunday:

lacrosse 046

He's also holding the giant inflatable swords that he won doing the Thor hammer slam thing, where you have to ring the bell.  The folks at kuk sool should be proud because in order to mentally prepare himself, Mason did a ki-yop in the proscibed way (as though about to break a board.)  It was very impressive.

For myself, I had an excellent visit with the folks, chatting about life, the universe and everything.

Monday, however, has been tough.  I believe, later tonight, we will be having a discussion about Maslow's hierarchy of needs with Mason in terms of what money gets spent on fist.  This, I'm afraid is the natural consequence of having a weekend of, "okay, sure, honey" on the fairgrounds.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
One of the cool things about my hometown of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is that they have an actual Labor Day parade. Interestingly, it's not a city-wide parade. It happens only on my side "of the tracks" (though in LaCrosse, socio-economic class was historically divided by a swamp/undeveloped wetlands,) on the North Side. Mason loves the parade because all the unions that march throw candy.

I like it because it suits my politics. I like standing up for an America where the US flag and a Teamsters' banner are carried hand-in-hand. I grew up singing Utah Philips songs and know most of the words to "Solidarity Forever" as well as the song which contains the verse, "Four for the founding fathers: Marx, Engles, Lenin, Trotsky..." I always tear up when there's a science fictional very special episode where some future labor union goes on strike or they stop the production line in some easily resolved labor dispute.(BSG fans you know what I'm talking about.)

Plus, how can you not love a parade full of people driving trucks, buses, snow plows and other heavy equipment?

And, because it's LaCrosse, it can't be a parade without the Okotoberfest float blaring "Roll out the Barrel" on loudspeakers, while people polka in the streets.

lydamorehouse: (Default)
I didn't go to WisCON this year, but I kept up with it on Facebook! :-)

Instead, my family and I went to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to visit the grandparents (my folks.) I'm surprised Mason is still upright for all the running around we did, particularly yesterday. (My folk are actually "running" him on the Marsh Trail right now.) On Saturday it was mostly rainy, but I discovered that my folks have a neighbor whose wireless connection is strong enough that I could steal it from the comfort of their three-season porch. Their porch is probably one of my favorite rooms in their house. It's carpeted, filled with comfy couches, chairs, tables, and, like every room in their house, walls and walls of books. The porch is mostly windows, but they built-in bookshelves in the narrow spaces between the eight windows that encircle the rectangular space, and, well, it's just lovely. And an awesome space to catch up on Internet stuff and actually get quite a bit of Mouse writing done.

Sunday we were up at the crack of dawn (almost literally thanks to some very noisy birds just outside the windows), and Mason and I went off to Hixon forest, which is a nature perserve with walking trails that spans a couple of forest covered bluffs in the area. Mason and I climbed to the very top, even over the sandstone face! (The bluffs, according to Wikipedia are approximately 500 feet/152.4 meters high -- some of that is gentle slope, but some is nearly vertical.)

Then, after "a little lunch," as we say in Minnesota, it was off to Sunfish Days in Onalaska. There we enjoyed snowcones, fresh squeezed lemonade, hot, blinding sun, and a lot of carnival rides. Grandpa bought Mason an "all day" wristband pass, which meant he could go on unlimited rides. That thing very quickly paid for itself as Mason went around again and again on the giant slide. Then grandpa and Mason hit the ferris wheel, while mama, grandma and I watched with trembling knees (none of the rest of us like heights.) Grandpa, Mason and I hit the Tilt-a-Whirl, and then we had to go again with Mama, Mason and me. The second time around I nearly barfed, we got that chair-thingie spinning so fast. At some point at Sunfish Days, I realized I'd left without my wallet, but we didn't worry about that as grandma and grandpa were feeling mightily generous.

Finally, we dragged Mason away from the "clown house" (complete with massively overweight carnie woman chain-smoking in charge of the tickets) and more sliding, and went home for "hotdish" dinner. I was headed up for a nap when I realized my wallet wasn't just sitting around somewhere... it was lost.

I had a bad feeling that it was somewhere in Hixon Forest. Mason and I had had to slide down on our butts on a very steep section on the way back down the trail and I figured the wallet might have slipped out there. That had been hours ago, though, and the lost and found drop-box wouldn't be open until Tuesday... provided someone didn't just run off with it. So my papa and I headed back to the steep trails. Grandpa's knees kept him going at a slower pace, but he was carefully checking through the underbrush, while I sprinted to the top. My heart was pounding as I climbed hand over hand over the sandstone face, but I decided to go up the way we'd come down, thinking about that butt-slide. Nearly at the summit, just where I imagined it might be, there it was... just sitting in the middle of the trail, completely untouched. My cash was still inside.

My arms ache this morning, but I didn't have to replace my drivers' license AGAIN. Grateful, thy name is Lyda.

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