Willa Cultivates Musings of Spring

Spring rototilling with vintage Troy-Bilt

We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it—for a little while. — Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

Lately I’ve been on a Willa Cather kick. I just finished reading O Pioneers! and yesterday as we tilled our garden, this quote came to mind. Oh, I know we hardly compare to the vastness of her Nebraskan plains but as I watched the soil turn under our trusty Troy-Bilt, I contemplated the care we’d given this ground during its season of rest. Or recuperation, as Willa says.

(Willa. Such a pretty name. That’s why I’m into her work…and because she writes about Swedish farmers:-)

Back in November, as I dumped load after load of chicken manure onto the gray, leaden earth (more Willa prose), I remember thinking how even though we don’t garden in winter—literally, that is—we are still working the land. We continue to nurture it and prepare it for another season.

And now, here it’s spring and we’re tilling the garden. Goodness, that came fast!

Jefferson County, Wis., Plat Book 1899

Jefferson County, Wis., Plat Book 1899

Last week we had our neighbor over dinner. He came with a bottle of tasty wine and a Jefferson County Plat Book, dated 1899. Isn’t the typography beautiful? Such ornate craftsmanship even for something so utilitarian as a plat book!

Jefferson County, Wis., Plat Book 1899

We spent several hours scanning its brittle pages. It’s fascinating to note the family names that once owned our neighborhood farms, many of them now listed on gravestones in a cemetery up the road.

We come and go, as Willa says, but the land is always here. I feel very blessed to be the one who loves it now. And I’m sooo excited about the upcoming gardening season!


Wednesday Webs: Ag Day 2015

Ewe with baby lamb

I used to raise Corriedale sheep and at this time of year I really get to missing them. I miss being a farmer, albeit a pretend one, and I miss the nurturing coo a mama ewe gurgles over her new lamb.

Now, ten years into self-employment, let’s say I’m a farmer of a different kind—one of design and words. For farmers. This is fun too. Especially because I come across so many interesting people and places.

Here on the web:

Happy Ag Day! Thanks to our farmers!


Labors of Love Preserve Historic Cemetery

Wine Tasting promotional

When it comes to doing business with family, the rule of thumb is don’t. But here is a design and copywriting project for which I was not only happy to throw rules to the wind, I was downright proud doing so. Along with this comes a story, so sit yourselves down and pour up a glass of wine.

Back in the early 1970s, my mother-in-law telephoned her township chairman about the poor state of affairs at the Watertown Township Union Cemetery. Her concern was for an overgrown acre of land a mile up the road from their farm. With gravestones dating back to the mid-1800s, it was a historical memorial of the surrounding community.

As a result of that phone call, my father-in-law became the cemetery’s official curator. He passed along an ever-so-slight compensation to his 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son (my husband) for diligently pushing their lawnmowers up to the cemetery, mowing, trimming, and then pushing them back home again.

Little did my in-laws know this would become a perpetual labor of love. In fact, here it is forty years later and they still manage the cemetery. Together with their children and grandchildren, they mow, maintain, arrange burials, do the occasional fill-in-the-grave-by-hand and host an annual Friends of Union Cemetery meeting. They do all this with great care and dedication.

Each year my now 82-year-old father-in-law talks of turning the position over to his children. We’ll happily oblige. But when asked if he’s really ready to retire, he always decides to keep at it another year. There’s some hardy Wisconsin farm blood for ya.

That’s the personal side of this story.

Here’s the civic side: Throughout the U.S., rural cemeteries are falling by the wayside. They’re abandoned, vandalized and forgotten. Most no longer have formal organizations that share an interest in their care. Those that do are non-profits limping along with treasuries barely covering the gas to mow.

The Friends of Union Cemetery don’t want this to happen. Nope, not to our little sanctuary up on the hill. Thankfully we have pro-active energy and connoisseurs of wine within our midst!

Are you in the Watertown area? Stop by on March 8 for some flavorful wine and hors d’oeuvres!

Wine tasting promotional press release



How 100-Year-Old Wood Adds Meaning to Christmas

Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Last week I spent a hands-on day at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI. What a great day! For all you typophiles (yes, there’s actually a forum for you), Hamilton is the largest collection of wood type, wood cuts and historic printing machines in the world. It’s a fully functional museum, which means artists, typographers and letterpress wannabes like me can spend a day playing with paper, ink and über alt alphabets.

Like the cool dudes in this picture.

mural of men who worked at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing

Actually these men may or may not have done printing. As craftsmen for Hamilton Manufacturing Company, they were the oomph of the collections we have today. They cut and sanded logs of wood. They carved and refined letters. They were the master makers of wood type.

The original company, called J.E. Hamilton Holly Wood Type Company, was founded in 1880 and within 20 years was the largest manufacturer of wood type in the United States. Even as letterpress printing gave way to newer technologies, Hamilton continued producing wood type until the end of the 20th century. Today the company is Hamilton Scientific.

Display cases at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

So now we have the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum! With 1.5 million pieces of wood type and 45,000 square feet of space, it makes for a jaw-dropping, creativity-cranking museum and workshop.

Pantograph at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

Before we started with our printing, assistant director Stephanie Carpenter led us on an informational tour. She’s a great guide and knows her stuff well. She proudly explained the museum’s dedication to the preserving wood type production, including carving letters with this original pantograph machine. Once a month a now-90-year-old, retired Hamilton employee tutors two staff members on this highly skilled craft.

Letterpress printer at Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

How many you dream of owning a letterpress like this? Join throngs of like-minded Ebay shoppers and prepare to spend oodles. In the meantime, the Hamilton museum has a full display of presses from throughout the industry’s history. Imagine the pages they printed back in the day!

Linotype at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, Two Rivers, WI

After letterpress came linotype. Hamilton Manufacturing Company didn’t produce linotype machines, however the museum has a wonderful display for this era of printing.

print workshop at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

And then we started our own printing! Probably like most first timers, I completely underestimated how meticulous and time consuming setting type by hand can be. I quickly simplified my design.

print workshop at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

Caution! Wet Ink! Arcint Architecture owners Edward Haydin and Ryan Thacker made these stunning posters to commemorate their firm’s second anniversary. What a great idea! (This upcoming year marks a big one for Adunate—I may head back up to Two Rivers and make posters of my own.)

Adunate Christmas Card 2014

Ta-da! And here’s my final product. I never got into scrapbooking or stamping, simply because it’s one more hobby I would find myself obsessing over. But, hey, this printing, punching holes and threading jute by hand…after spending hours at the computer, it’s a tactual delight!

Adunate Christmas Card 2014

The best thing about making your own cards—writing your own message.

Adunate Christmas Card 2014

Merry Christmas to everyone, especially my dear customers. God’s blessings to you in 2015!

Day #6: Trempealeau Food, Fountain City Brew and Good Company

GlenDi_CartoonI don’t know if you’ve noticed but cartoon Glen and Di are getting more and more robust with each post I write. That’s what happens when you spend a week feasting on Wisconsin’s savory fare and specialty brew.

No calories there whatsoever.

As we navigate our way up the Great River Road, each Mississippi town has been as quaint as the next and we’ve met some super nice people. Trempealeau and Fountain City are especially distinct.


Sunset over Mississippi River in Trempealeau, WI

Trempealeau Hotel and Restaurant, Tremealeau, WI

Hands down, our best meal has been dinner at the historic Trempealeau Hotel and Restaurant, overlooking the river and this beautiful sunset. Besides serving Spaten, my husband’s favorite Oktoberfest beer (which we won’t discuss because it’s a German import), the restaurant has an obvious appreciation of its vintage atmosphere and local farmers. My husband had the walleye with a heavenly kale-bacon-whatever sauté. I had a shrimp skewer drenched in butter and lightly crusted with a blend of herbs.

Getting hungry? I am, just reminiscing.

To work this off, the next day we hiked through Perrot State Park, another beautiful area with killer-bluffs overlooking the river. Actually, hiking the bluffs isn’t that hard, but be mindful that this week real Glen and Di are not a tight stretch from cartoon Glen and Di. At the top of one bluff, we met a lovely family with young boys whose infectious enthusiasm for nature reminded us of how blessed we all really are.

Fountain City

Monarch Public House, Fountain City, WI

Further up the Mississippi we lunched at the Monarch Public House, a food and drink destination since 1894. We had fish because it was Friday and in Wisconsin you have fish on Fridays, even if the Monarch calls it fish ‘n chips, which it does because it’s Irish. It’s just what we do (along with run-on sentences).

Our server explained their heritage style of baking the fish at 600+ degrees instead of deep frying. It was delicious!

vintage bar in Monarch Public House, Fountain City, WI

Isn’t this bar stunning? Our server said it’s original to the building. The pressed tin ceiling is also original and easily 16-feet high, if not more. The Monarch’s website shares an interesting history of the building—be sure to scroll all the way down.

Fountain Brew, Fountain City, WI

In addition to being the longest running tavern in Wisconsin, the Monarch has also resurrected Fountain City Brewing Company. Long part of the community’s heritage, this brewery originated in 1862. When it closed in 1965 and the building later demolished, it seemed the local flavor would be lost forever.

That is, until 1997.

By then John Harrington owned the Monarch tavern and was guiding it through a loving restoration. One day a nearly 90-year-old, retired assistant brewmaster named Wilbert Schmitt came forward with the original recipes he had saved all these years. Harrington and Schmitty, as he’s known, collaborated and reintroduced Fountain City’s beloved brew.

Fascinating story, eh? The Monarch tells it in greater detail here. Again, be sure to scroll completely down the page.

Next year, according to our server, the Monarch will break ground for a brewery building right next to the tavern. Bucket list: Go back to Fountain City in two years and check it out!

Gasoline Alley, Fountain City, WI

Octoberfest_2014_FC_CarWhile wandering Main Street, we met John Campbell of Gasoline Alley. One compliment on his car parked outside and he proudly brought us inside to see his latest work.

I like his business logo!

Seven Hawks Vineyard, Fountain City, WI

John shared fun stories of Fountain City. He also pointed out how the buildings on the town’s main streets are all veered to match the angle of the river. None of them were built square to the street. Intriguing!

RatingsAdunate rates Fountain City Brewery, Fountain City, WI

Fountain City doesn’t brew an Oktoberfest but we enjoyed their signature styles nonetheless. My husband had an Irish Valley Spring Bock and I went all historical with the original recipe Fountain Brew. Both were great!

Need I say more? I loved this building and its meticulous restoration.

My husband had fish ‘n chips. I had a Caesar salad. We shared and were extremely happy travelers!

An endearing little river town, where life seems slow and peaceful. With this list of things to do, we could have stayed longer than the one afternoon we did. Next time!

Copy & Design
The Monarch has a great story to tell and does so very well on it’s website. It’s Facebook page shares the same enthusiasm and friendliness our server did. I’m looking forward to the promotions it puts out when they build the brewery.

Our next, and final, stop: Reads Landing Brewing Company, Reads Landing, Minnesota