Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Right under our noses, locally

Brochure for this one day event.  Often we  do not attend events locally
when we would if we were visiting.  But the history offered was too tempting for me to miss
The Chateau on Cass St.  Front  with the original structure.
Saturday, May 16 was frigidly cold here so my plans to go on the architectural tour of some of the wonderful historic buildings in downtown Lqa Crosse changed.  The walking guided tour was to begin at 11:00 but one was free to go along at leisure until 5:00PM, so about  1 o'clock I decided to brave the frigid air and go across the river.  I really wanted to see the Chateau, aka Mons Anderson House which is a high end operational restaurant where there are intimate small dining experiences.  They serve the finest wines and champagnes and the food is exquisite I have been told by others who have enjoyed their meals at this restaurant. So many others were curious about this place as well as I saw  once I got over there, bundled up, walked the short distance from our bank where I parked.  I wore my Austrian wool hat, a cuddle dud under my sweater, knee socks under my riding boots and my packable down winter jacket that has served me so well for two seasons.  Was it really May, brrrr.  

Addition to left of the original structure
All the limestone came from right here, Grandad's Bluff in La Crosse
I was most impressed with the multi million dollars spent renovating the Chateau on Cass and fascinated with it's history.  I was appalled at some of the people on this self guided tour and applaud the Ewesr, owners for being gracious and opening the business to curious folks,  and yet, I wonder, have these people never been to any historic home?  Although Ms. Ewers detailed the history and the saga of this place they call home with their 3 children and invited people to walk, she shared it is and has been a work in progress, attributing the massive costs already to maintaining the historic integrity of this beauty. 

Ms Ewers tour guide and owner, notice the parquet floor
in one of the downstairs dining rooms
 She invited people to stroll throughout the entire place leisurely, as all rooms including the kitchen were open, with exception of the family's private living quarters, yet, anyone with an ounce of decorum would know not to touch paintings, the fine crystal, the wines, etc.  People, are so tiresome as some roamed and touched any and everything and then some who were more feeble, complained about the stairs, really, I thought.  WTH did you think it's an 1800's structure, why are you here if you cannot walk stair cases.  It is definitely a place I will want to dine for something special, perhaps taking advantage of their limousine pick up service as well for an anniversary.  

This was sponsored  by the Downtown La Crosse  association of merchants, amidst the graduations of the UW  underway at the convention center and other weekend events. From their brochure here is a synopsis of this home:  F. Mons Anderson House 410 Cass Street
(Le Chateau Restaurant) 1854, 1878 Guided Tours all day

One of the finest examples of mid-nineteenth century residential architecture in western Wisconsin. The home is a rare blend of Gothic Revival and Italian Villa styles rendered in locally quarried limestone. The home has a fascinating history; from a peak of late Victorian era opulence in the late 19th century, to neglect and near ruin by the later part of the 20th century, to its current state of complete restoration and recognition as one of the most historic and architecturally significant homes in the city of La Crosse. Not all areas handicap accessible . 

These 2 photos are of one of the ladies rooms on the first floor, opulence
When the Ewers bought the Chateau several years ago now, t
he owner from the 1980's had  used it as a bed and breakfast,
left only chandeliers when he moved away.  This
is but one downstairs, notice the ceiling too.
One of the fireplaces, this one in what is now
the library where space is available for larger
dining parties.
More photos are on my Facebook page where I posted directly about this event last week and then shared my pictures. I really tried too get photos without the people.  Finally I left after thanking them and learning about the availability of the limousine service for special events.  I detest crowds and so I did not venture down to the downstairs, basement, aka where the bar and salon will open this summer, down this wrought iron staircase.  I did not want to meet someone going down when I was coming up, no room to pass, etc.  But be sure I intend to return to at least sample some wonderful wine and appetizer.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Springtime blooms in our Region

Taken from my passenger side, along the Mississippi 
This area is part of the Driftless region or often we hear, Coulee Region.  I thought the term Coulee odd, the only reference I had previously was related to the  Chinese coulees who worked building the western railroads back in the 1840's in CA.  I learned here the Coulee is the bluffs along the Mississippi.  From Wikipedia, here is a summary of: Driftless Area or Paleozoic Plateau is a region in the American Midwest noted mainly for its deeply carved river valleys. While primarily in southwestern Wisconsin, it includes areas of southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and extreme northwestern Illinois. ...Retreating glaciers leave behind silt, clay, sand, gravel, and boulders called drift. Glacial drift includes unsorted material called till and layers deposited by meltwater streams called outwash...Overall, the region is characterized by an eroded plateau with bedrock overlain by varying thicknesses...the river valleys are deeply dissected. The bluffs lining this reach of the Mississippi River currently climb to nearly 600 feet (180 m). In Minnesota, Karst topography is found throughout the Driftless area. This is characterized by caves and cave systems, disappearing streams, blind valleys, underground streams, sinkholes, springs, and cold streams. Disappearing streams occur where surface waters sinks down into the earth through fractured bedrock or a sinkhole, either joining an aquifer, or becoming an underground stream. Blind valleys are formed by disappearing streams and lack an outlet to any other stream. Sinkholes are the result of the collapse of the roof of a cave, and surface water can flow directly into them. Disappearing streams can re-emerge as large cold springs. Cold streams with cold springs as their sources are noted as superb trout habitat. 
Flowering tree at the Y

But enough about the topography, what I want to share today are some of the beautiful blooms around town. I think because we have four seasons, that spring is all the more appreciated and living here, each year as the green reveals and the blooms start, I cannot be sure if it's my favorite season or if I prefer summer, or fall. One of my friends said today, "gotta go thru winter to really know spring." Perhaps that's the key, even if there is sunshine in winter, we miss the green and blooms. This has not been as wet a spring as last year, and some blooms are later some earlier, but the show of more flowers daily and the wafting scents of the lilacs, apple blossoms as we work out doors cannot be beat. The reddish and pinkish flowering crabapple trees are abundant around town and so lovely right now. However today we are enjoying a spring drizzle and rain predicted for a couple days, so most of the flowers will give way to leaves only within a couple days. Walking amidst and by these spring blooms all around town, up the hills renews one's soul when walking.

Two homes down, almost to the end of our cul de sac,
 starting our hike around

Downtown La Crescent, along the highway,

Red bud tree starting

Along Elm St, main drag. One of the few
fences around.  This homeowner has
cultivated mounds of  phlox

One shrub which I became fond of as the first to show it's blooms in early spring in Northern CA was the flowering quince. Oddly, that is uncommon here but one home along Elm has a flowering quince, which I am thrilled to see each year. I do not know why these are not grown locally. I know that I do miss the dogwoods that flower in PA this time of year, the local dogwoods are nothing like the PA dogwoods. There is a shrub locally that I actually laughed at when someone told me it was a dogwood, but then I know the real thing. 

The only flowering quince I've found locally

Flowering crabapples at elementary school

Nature's artwork on a stump

The fungi above caught my eye. This time of year many locals go out into the woods to hunt morel mushrooms which are a rare delicacy. I have not engaged in that activity because I would not want to pick poisonous mushrooms. But those who find them often sell them to be transported to Chicago and New York where the finest restaurants serve them; they get a good price, $50 or more per pound. I rely on someone sharing with me. I had never heard of morels until we moved here and frankly, yes they are good sauteed in butter, but to me not any better than other 'shrooms.

Massive old Weeping cherry &
   flowering crab apple
May time walking, anything lovelier?
Finally I share the lilacs, wish you could smell them. The white's I call Betty's Whites. They are down the block from us, planted by Betty, an elderly lady who still lives in her big home and tends her flowers. Although she tells me she doesn't do near the lawn work that she has in the past. Well, she's ener. titled at 89, she hires someone to mow fo her, but like me she trusts no one else with her flowers. Gardeners live longer, maybe it's being outdoors in fresh air and sunshine, maybe it's the physical activity required or the enjoyment when the results are seen.  
Betty's Whites
Our lilac hedge

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wishing happy mothers day has problems.

This is a first,  I have never before shared my Facebook posts  on this blog, because I get so much more feedback on FB from friends.  However, today is wistful and here is my  brief:

  From a friend's page with my story. It's why we should give away smiles, they cost nothing & can make someone's day. I always try to say something cheerful to cashiers, salesclerks, etc. They earn their money dealing with people. You just never know.  
.This is so true, today's evidence---each Sunday I pick up a Sunday Pioneer Press, MN newspaper at the local gas & foods place & I get to know the cashiers. We always converse weekly about our day, the week we had or? Today the young man who's been there about 6months, about whom I know some things such as he would love to have a motor home & travel like we do, he's had some health issues the past year, including when he was gone a couple weeks, hospitalized with kidney stones. This morning he greeted me with, "is it safe to wish you a good mother's day." I replied, "sure, thanks but why do you ask?" He said, "Well one customer just yelled at me because she is not a mother." Me, "aww, that's too bad. Maybe she was having a bad day." He,"She usually is grumpy, not like you." Me laughing,"Well you must get all kinds in here." He, "yes, but there is something in your eyes, can I ask if everything is ok." Me, "oh it's nothing, this day is bittersweet for me, my mother died 12 years ago, my only son died almost 8 years ago, I never liked the commercial Hallmark card aspect of this holiday. That's about it." He, "oh I'm sorry, should have known." Me, "how could you know, & please do not worry about that." He, "your eyes, there is something deep there, I should know. I lost my children, my son too several years ago, and my daughter 7 years ago. It's always in the eyes." Me thru tears,, "shoots, now I'm going to puddle up my face" he reached over, grabbed my hand & said, "you have a real good day, now I know another reason I like you." I told him I was sorry about his family and said,"It never gets easy, but at least the jagged edges scab over & it doesn’t hurt so much all the time. You have a blessed day now."
Most people not only do not know the trials of the person near them, I say that many people here where I live don't know much about anyone unless they have known them all their lives, common around these parts.  Even when they do know they ignore, so different from living in CA.  Maybe because there we were from everywhere maybe because here they have been only here all there lives.  Don't they realize how that fells?  Guess not.  They don't ask, do they think that is  being polite or do they just not give a fig?  I admit it is why I find  people here cold, not open.The neighbor on one side of me waves, is cordial if I see her outside, yet I have never been invited into her home.  This is very strange to me.  Whatever, they are enclosed with themselves.  Maybe it is left for souls like me to  make head roads.  Yes more and more I appreciate that I outreach to others.    

I copied my post here from FB because I wanted to remember this.