Maps, mugs, totes, and more!

How cool is this? We just discovered that Our favorite hand painted Mississippi River maps can now be purchased online as tote bags, wood signs, T-shirts, coffee mugs, yoga mats and more! Click image below to purchase our coffee mug for yourself or as a gift!

Driftless Mapon your coffee mug!

Driftless Region Map on your coffee mug!  $14 at FineartAmerica.com Click image to choose your favorite mug!

Click this link to search ALL LIFESTYLE PRODUCTS, each with your favorite hand painted Mississippi River map!  Choose your map, your product or gift options, sizes, colors, orientation and more. Choose from stretched canvas to throw pillows to T-shirts

3247E883-8CB0-439B-980A-B2CDA812802FDon’t see your favorite map in our product catalog?? Call 888.255.7726 and we will help you find it, or get it posted for you! Looking to license an image for your commercial product? YES, we do that!

We Explore a Pearl Button Factory sealed in 1956. Come Visit!

Kari Anderson (karipearls.com) recently shared this story of her visit to a fascinating Pearl Button factory which once operated in Muscatine, Iowa! Thank you, Kari!!

Muscatine once had the title of  “Pearl Button Capital of the World!” and this pearl button factory is actually a time capsule of that long-past era. In 1956 the owners said the last good byes to their employees and locked the door!

With flashlights in hand, Kari climbed the dark stairways. At least 2 floors of the Schmarje building were dedicated to the Ronda Button Company and the Schmarje family had the foresight to leave this factory basically untouched for over 60 years – what a blessing! for those of us interested in this local history.

At least 2 floors of the Schmarje building were dedicated to the Ronda Button Company. The Schmarje family had the foresight to leave this factory basically untouched for over 60 years – what a blessing! for those of us interested in this local history.

Button Cutter

These machines zipped through tons of shells, cutting blanks for buttons. Muscatine also has a local pearl button museum which has a movie visitors can watch showing workers quickly slipping shells into shell cutters so blanks can be cut out from them. (It looked dangerous…)

The new type of button cutting machine, featuring a carbide-toothed saw operating on a vertical shaft enabled workers at the Ronda Button plant to produce top grade blanks at a faster rate than was possible by older methods.

The local pearl button museum has a movie visitors can watch showing workers quickly slipping shells into these cutters so blanks can be cut out from them. (It looked dangerous…)

I saw how shells would arrive at the plant by the tons in burlap sacks.


Button Blanks
Shells would come not only from the Mississippi River, across the street, but from lots of sources including the Minnesota, Arkansas, White and Tennessee Rivers.


Machines Lined the Walls
There were old burlap sacks bursting their seams with buttons blanks that never made it to the finishing factories…but lay here as a reminder to all of us of the immense work and effort that went into making buttons for our shirts and skirts.


Finished “Pearl” Buttons made in Muscatine
I hope you enjoyed the little mini tour of our local time capsule.

Here I am sharing for Pechkucha Night at our local museum about my pearling adventures.


Me speaking at Muscatine Button Museum “Around the World in 80 Carats!”
An interesting bit of trivia: guess who at one time stayed here in Muscatine, IA?

The current president of China, Xi Jinping! As a young man he was an exchange student here. His presence here in Muscatine, has developed a unique relationship between Iowa and China. Our former governor, Branstad, is now the ambassador to China.

God bless,

Kari

 

Sunday Birding Observations

Greeted Sunday by getting up early to enjoy the valley!

Watched a “V” of geese go by… learned from birders yesterday that about this time Canada geese begin to flock up and continue to migrate northward. These are the geese that have not fledged any young this spring. Birders call it the “molt migration” as the geese will now begin to molt their breeding feathers. Preceded by weeks of loud honking as they begin to gather up. Usually occurs about June 1.  The geese with hatchlings are now quite silent in order to protect the young.

We were stunned to see a pair of TRUMPETER swans fly along our hillside at almost eye level off the deck this a.m.  Did they spend the night on the neighbors pond? Are they there now? That is a FIRST for the valley, I think.
Listened to wood thrush singing almost constantly through the morning, with their melodic “eolay”.  Two, at least, calling back and forth between the two sides of our hill.  We did hear them last year a few times, but they seem to have staked out our farm as territory this year.
Summer has settled in this weekend! Enjoy an outdoorsy holiday, friends!

Ibis and Other Birding Oddities This Spring

Dan Jackson, who probably hears and sees every bird to pass through the Coulee Region has a reported several oddities of interest. Most recently (about May 16) he reported seeing this “white-faced ibis!!”  His comments follow:

“The White-faced Ibis that was first seen about a week ago is still hanging out in the Halfway Creek Marsh.  This marsh is on the north side of county ZN about ½ mile west of Midway and between Midway and the Visitor’s Center of the La Crosse District of the Upper Mississippi River NWR.  This is west of Hwy 35 and County ZN can be reached by exiting on OT from that road.  In Midway, take ZN to the west and watch for the small parking area on the right (north) side of the road after you go around a major corner.  This is east of the RR tracks.”

Image result   WHITE-FACED IBIS

Another interesting report was of the WHITE ROBIN Dan photographed this spring, which I cropped to show here!     Dan has been posting his sightings at https://www.freelists.org/list/wisbirdn

White Robin

White Robin

Lake Pepin Map Print Now Available!

010 A new map of Lake Pepin 2014 By Lisa MiddletonA New Map of Lake Pepin by Lisa Middleton … Order Today!
This fine art print of A New Map of Lake Pepin features named islands and sloughs and is both geographical and historical in nature. Landmarks visible to those cruising on both road and river are marked from Wabasha to Red Wing. Approx. 36″ long, and beautiful when framed. You may study a large high-resolution image by visiting our ART GALLERY HERE.

Or Call 888-255-7726

 

The historic Steamboat Ports of Chesapeake Bay!

Steamboat ports from around the USA…new custom Map design  from Great River Arts

Design your own map!

There were various types of steamboats on the Chesapeake Bay, all serving a specific function. The packet steamboats were the most common; they were medium-sized and fast, and transported passengers, freight and domestic mail. The rural areas and the city were made accessible with a large fleet of smaller vessels-steam ferries, while excursion steamers were more elaborate, colorful and beautifully decorated, and made drop-offs at popular resorts on the Bay, including Tolchester and Betterton in Kent County. Read on here….

image

Pelicans! the 2nd of April, 2018

Had the pleasure of greeting several big mobs of Pelicans the day before another winter storm moves across the Mississippi River. In one swoop of the binocs, between Goose Island and the Stoddard Dike, I saw Pelicans in rich white circular clusters, our 8 Trumpeter Swans feeding in last year’s rice beds, and a large loose flock of migrating Tundra Swans in a sheltered open pond.. Also Lesser Scaup, a puddle duck easily recognized by its grey-white back coloring. My guess is that the Tundra swans recognized the front of incoming snow and stopped to rest. Didn’t see them today as the river was engulfed in a whiteout of snow and fog.  A good day to stay off the road!

For more on the recent history of pelicans on the river, CLICK HERE for our archive, or use the SEARCH box above.

Four Trumpeter Pairs Just North of the Stoddard Dike.

In March 2017, I watched a lone pair of beautiful Trumpeter Swans working the open water just above the Stoddard Dike. Today there were 4 pair!

6766D7B9-E03E-4AD0-8800-8BD68A0249B6-6632-000006C6A857921C

The Trumpeter Swan is a huge bird, with a wingspread up to 10 feet! But notice the very black bill which makes an almost perfect triangle and stretches right to the eye.

Image above is from the Trumpeter Swan society site. The society offers a detailed identification guide free if you CLICK HERE.

Image below is of a Tundra Swan, which is just slightly smaller and has a more curved bill and a light spot near the eye. Tundra Swans pass through in the Spring migration to the North, but will be seen in large groups. The Trumpeter, which was first established in Iowa in the last decade (I believe) now nests on the Upper River. Still very unusual to see.

D1045F73-408E-4790-84F9-8E2029A264C4-6632-000006C6C0F1FCE8  Tundra Swan Image for comparison.

 

Midwestern Flooding

Much of the central part of the country is currently experiencing dangerous flash floods. See up to the minute status reports for American rivers by clicking on our INTERACTIVE FLOOD LINK in the category list to the right.

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Looking for more great content, lots of river content available by clicking on any of the category links.



Winter Swans!

I just heard from the La Crosse Audubon group that there are four trumpeter swans in Perrot S.P, and 16 in the Whitewater Wildlife management area. ( Open water on the north side of 74, before you hit the pavement coming from Weaver.) Waterfowl are certainly creatures of habit, but, they aren’t pinned down! So keep your eyes open!
Thank you for the heads up, Pat Schmidt!



Images below and in header are found at the Trumpeter Swan society site.

6766D7B9-E03E-4AD0-8800-8BD68A0249B6-6632-000006C6A857921C  Trumpeter

The Trumpeter is a huge bird, with a wingspread up to 10 feet! But notice the very black bill which makes an almost perfect triangle and stretches right to the eye.

The society offers a detailed identification guide free if you CLICK HERE.

D1045F73-408E-4790-84F9-8E2029A264C4-6632-000006C6C0F1FCE8  Tundra