November Means Working Together (Pro-Bono)

sandhill cranes in the distance

Here it is November and we still have sandhill cranes. If you look closely in this zoomed-to-the-max iPhone shot, you see two of them enhancing the otherwise desolate cornfield. They caught my attention a few mornings ago as they gaggled away in response to another pair far in the distance. This weekend we’re supposed to get several inches of snow so these snowbirds will likely say to heck with this and take off for warmer temps.

Aren’t the migratory habits of birds amazing?

For example, for several months in autumn the sandhills gather in wetlands before heading south. These are called staging areas and here in Wisconsin there are several where thousands of cranes assemble at a time. I like to imagine this is a time of preparation and joining together of forces for the arduous journey ahead.

You probably knew migrating birds fly in the V-Formation, officially known as the echelon formation. They do this for its aerodynamic advantage, obviously. But did you know birds take turns flying the front helm of this V, a very strenuous task? And did you know the mortality rate for birds is six times higher during the migration season? Given this, isn’t it interesting that even though survival favors the selfish—those that promote their own well-being before that of others—the God-given nature of birds is to selflessly share the responsibility?

This author makes a good point when he says, “If migrating birds work together, the flock has a greater chance of having all of its feathered brethren make the long trip to their destination.”

Working together. For the good of all.

With this caring concept in mind and because November is the month of giving, let me announce it’s my season for pro-bono applications. Each year Adunate accepts two pro-bono projects for greatly reduced or no cost. These are projects I strongly support and believe will positively impact God’s creation, his people, or his ministry.

My interests include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Architecture
  • Arts
  • Children
  • Faith
  • History
  • Humanity
  • Natural Food & Living
  • Nature & Animals
  • Preservation & Sustainability

If your organization needs creative assistance in the upcoming year, click here for an application. Then, to guarantee your project’s success, be sure to click here!

Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2015. I will let applicants know of my decision in January.

Wednesday Webs: Changing Seasons


Believe it or not, I’m still canning garden produce. This tasty Giardiniera has been fermenting for a few weeks and is now ready to be sealed in jars. It will be my last batch and as I pack away the kettles, I’ll say adiós and gracias for a bountiful year!

So, winter, bring it on! I’m ready and waiting!

Fermentation Fest Converges Once Again

Touring Sauk County for Fermentation Fest 2015

It’s been a full month, but I’m still sighing with warm reminiscings of our Octoberfest Brewery Tour. The culmination of this glorious trip was Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg, Wis. We couldn’t have had a more flavorful or beautiful encore to our week than this.

In case you’ve missed my incessant promotions—deservedly so—Fermentation Fest is an annual, 10-day blending of agriculture, arts, food and appreciation of the land. Initially one considers this a rather eclectic mix, but once you experience everything the festival has to offer it all melds together in the most appreciative of ways. I find it especially exciting because in designing the event guide, I have the honor of being part of the event’s promotional team.

Fermentation Fest, Reedsburg, WI

Disregarding the worn-worn travelers, check out this stunning entryway to the Fermentation Fest Headquarters. The building is a historic railway station and it otherwise serves as the Reedsburg Chamber of Commerce.

Details of Fermentation Fest entryway, Reedsburg, WI

Yes, these are the details of the entryway. It’s a collage of wine corks, seeds and beans all converging to represent the delightful elements of Fermentation Fest. Imagine the work put into this!

Lucky 13: Elephant in the Room, by Erika Nelson

This year our schedule didn’t allow us to participate in any of the food fermenting classes but we instead did the 50-mile Farm/Art DTour. The weather was glorious, the scenery stunning and the art installments were divine. Lucky 13: Elephant in the Room, by Erika Nelson, celebrates the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s announcement to discontinue using elephants in circus performances.

Fermentation Fest's appreciation of the land

Monday is Wash Day, by Brenda Baker

There’s something truly heartfelt about art displayed in the middle of such beautiful land. With her Monday is Wash Day, artist Brenda Baker pays kudos to the “historical and undervalued part of rural life.” I live in the country. I hang clothes to dry. So of course, I loved the story-telling thoughtfulness of this piece.

Meandering roads in Sauk County, WIsconsin

Farm structures in Sauk County, Wisconsin

Sauk County, WI

With meandering backroads, rolling hillsides and idyllic farm scenes,  Sauk County is a magical place. When we came upon Amish children riding home from their one-room school my heart simply melted.

Red Piano, Fermentation Fest, Reedsburg, WI

Stevens Signs, Rock Springs, WI

Flood, by Molly Rideout, Rock Springs, WI

Flood, by Molly Rideout, Rock Springs, WI

Art comes in many forms: Music, architecture and storytelling. This story, Flood, by Molly Rideout, really hits home, given our fragile state of human relations. Must history always repeat itself? Can we ever learn to love one another?

antique farm machinery, Sauk County, WIsconsin

You can’t celebrate agriculture without appreciating its heritage. Farmhenge, created by Harlan Ferstl and the McCluskey Brothers was an arrangement of new and old farm machinery pieces. The artistry of old iron is beautiful, isn’t it?

So there you have it—my favorites of the Farm/Art DTour. You can see more beautiful shots posted by some of the 20,000 festival-goers who made this year’s Fermentation Fest the biggest and best yet. Check them out here!

Our previous Octoberfest stop: Leinenkugel’s Brewing Company

Superior’s Slice of Local Color

Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior, WI

Name aside (since I’m a believer:-), Thirsty Pagan Brewery is my kind of place. Located in Superior, Wis., it’s laid-back, unpretentious, warm and full of local color. So far, it’s my favorite venue on the tour.

Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior, WI

Nothing says welcome more than a hand-printed sandwich board. We stopped for a bite, thankfully just before the noon hour rush. And rush there certainly was!

Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior, WI

When I say local color, I mean color. Located in an old creamery, TPB, as they like to call themselves, is a uniquely divided space. The tiled dining room in front reflects the purity of the building’s former life. The bar in back is hipster-vibed with multi-colored walls, beer art and, once again, hand-printed signage. Blackboards will do it every time!

Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior, WI

This sign made me laugh. It was posted over the small stage where live music plays daily.

What? How can you outlaw Freebird?!

Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior, WI

As you can tell, ambiance is huge for me. But food and beverage must also make the mark and TPB hit it spot on. We had a delicious deep dish pizza, complimented with a North Coast Amber and Lawn Chair Ale. Heavenly!

A very fun place and I’d love to come back for the live music.

Our previous stop: Fitgers in Duluth.  Our next stop: Leinenkugel’s in Chippewa Falls.

Dazzled in Duluth

View of Duluth, MN from Enger Tower

Years ago we drove through Duluth while heading home from northern Minnesota. Without stopping, we didn’t get a feel for the town other than industrial smokestacks, shipyards and railroads. I’m so glad we recently had a chance to come back and see everything this Lake Superior city has to offer.

Duluth is certainly a hardworking town. It’s an art form in itself—like this view from atop the Enger Tower, which we enjoyed with my sister and her dear family. But according to a visitor’s guide, Duluth has also transformed itself into an epicenter for tourism, culture and medicine.

And craft breweries! Once again we cut ourselves short on how much time is necessary to fully appreciate this town.

But first, our accommodations…

The Suites Hotel, Duluth, MN

Water towers of Suites Hotel in Canal Park, Duluth, MN

The Suites Hotel is a great stay set in an 1889 warehouse in the historical Canal Park. The building still has water towers on its roof and I absolutely love how the hotel uses them for branding. What a great way to honor the integrity of both the architecture and the industries that built Duluth.

Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth, MNThis Aerial Lift Bridge was just down the street from our hotel and, of course, the moment we walked half way across, the alarm went off telling us to clear the deck. We had to make a split decision to go back, no, wait, go the rest of the way across, no, go back. We went back.

James R. Barker coming through Canal Park, Duluth, MN

It was fun watching the bridge operation in detail and this massive ship pass through underneath. The  process took a good 20 minutes and we wondered about the cars waiting on the other side.

But what about those breweries?

Duluth Lakewalk

Let’s talk about Fitgers!

From our hotel, a lovely one-mile stroll on the Duluth Lakewalk led us right to the Fitgers Brewery Complex. This is a great, historic building that in years past was solely Fitgers Brewery. Now it’s home to a 48-room hotel, retail stores, six restaurants and, once again, a brewery with Fitgers Brewhouse. One night we ate at the Brewery and Grille, and we both enjoyed the Oktoberfest Wiesn. The next night we had a delicious meal at Midi.

Fitger's Brewery Complex at night, Duluth, MN

I can imagine the Lakewalk will be raw with Superior’s frigidity in a couple months. But in glorious October, after late night dinners, walking this boardwalk was absolutely enchanting. We were dazzled.

What a neat town!

Our previous stop: Beautiful Bayfield. Our next stop: Thirsty Pagan, Superior.