Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sorry Charlie...

Dad if you only knew what a whirlwind you caused by simply 'passing away'. Sure enough a reporter gets my name and links me to you. I wish you could receive the recognition you have always deserved. To me you were just a pretty neat dad who had strange and eccentric if not frustrating ideas. I grew up and realised that I was not much different than you.

How funny!
Thank you again for your creativity and ways of 'thinking' out of the box...or as Lance never knew there was a box that you were supposed to 'think' in!

Here's to you dad, because of you I get a second 15 minutes of fame...sure do love you. I hope you are laughing!!!!

Article as it appears in the Vernon County Broadcaster

‘Sorry, Charlie’ tag line very familiar to Viroqua’s Ewing

The image of a suave "Charlie the Tuna" pitching the Starkist brand is ingrained in the memories of the masses, but it also holds a special place in the heart of one Viroqua woman.

Valerie (Rogers) Ewing is the daughter of Tom Rogers, who created the "Charlie the Tuna" ads while serving as an advertising copywriter for the Leo Burnett Co., advertising agency in Chicago during the 1960s.

Rogers, who passed away in June of 2005 at age 87, will be featured on the History Channel show "America Eats" Thursday (tonight) at 9 p.m. Ewing was interviewed for the segment.

Rogers was involved in numerous iconic advertising campaigns that Baby Boomers know by heart. He wrote copy for the Keebler Elves and Morris the Cat.

"My Dad never thought of himself as a famous person," Ewing said. "It's kind of sad people don't recognize things like this until after you're gone."

Rogers created Charlie the Tuna in 1961. He had complete control over how Charlie looked, his voice (supplied by veteran character actor Herschel Bernardi) and what he said. Charlie appeared in 86 commercials and guest spots through the 1970s.

While Rogers was at Leo Burnett it propelled the images of Tony the Tiger, the Jolly Green Giant and the Marlboro Man.

Ewing said growing up in the Rogers' household in Chicago was like being part of a focus group for advertising campaigns. She had a Charlie the Tuna telephone, lamp and rugs. Her Dad brought a model of the Pillsbury Doughboy home for the children the play with.

"A lot of the time we thought it was corny and stupid — the Pillsbury Doughboy? We just put him in a closet," she said.

Rogers, however, provided the family once with an example of the power of advertising and his influence over it. During the Christmas season of 1965, Rogers asked his children to watch a certain program on television. Ewing said they found this odd, as her father wasn't much for having his children watch TV.

"So, we're sitting there watching and a commercial for United Airlines came on," Ewing said. "Hawaiian music started playing and the voice over said, 'Guess what Tom Rogers is getting his kids for Christmas?' That was how he told us we were going on our first trip to Hawaii.

"Dad had planned the commercial and followed it all the way through production," Ewing continued. "He pitched it that way to United Airlines and they went with it."

Ewing operated an insurance agency in the Chicago area and met area native Rich Ewing on one of the Richland Center Wagon Trains in 1994. The couple married in 1996 and Ewing moved here. She is the secretary/office manager at Bjerke Chiropractic Office in Viroqua.

Her desk is surrounded by artwork that was included in one of Leo Burnett's campaigns for Marlboro cigarettes.

"When I was growing up, I didn't realize how different my father was from anyone else's father," Ewing said. "Then I moved away from home and in conversations it would come up that he worked on these things. When I would tell people he wrote, 'Sorry, Charlie,' people's eyes would light up. They'd treat you like a celebrity."

Aside from the posters in the Bjerke office and an occasional conversation about them, Ewing said few people know of her connection to some of the most celebrated advertising ever produced.

"I don't even watch TV," Ewing said. "I ride mules and train them, do endurance riding and photography. Photography is something my dad got me interested in."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Originally uploaded by Xena~.
Some yayhoo called the local rag to tell them that my dad was going to be featured on a program this Thursday nite called 'American Eats'. Okay that is nice, but local news slueth decides to come and talk with me.
I'm not famous, I'm not Dad. I didn't create Charlie the Tuna. I'm just his daughter. And dammit I miss him now that I have to think of what to say when this reporter shows up.
Personally? It is kinda nice for dad to be featured on TV. But I sorta don't want to go through the pain again you know what I mean?

Here I sit at the office looking at his pictures and I'm thinking I'm going to cry.
I still miss him soooo much.

Monday, August 28, 2006

15 minutes

Pedro and garbage
Originally uploaded by Xena~.
I got to meet a very friendly and personable clinician this weekend. His name is Steve Edwards of Queen Valley Mule Ranch in Arizona. His methods are not difficult nor does he ever talk down to you. :-)

He stresses safety and truly truly believes in helping people. I had a great time photoing him while he trained this little mini called Pedro. I slid around in the gravel on my side, laid on the ground, squirmed between spectators...who parted for me amazingly enough after Steve hollered out~
'This is VAL she writes articles for Mules and More Magazine!'

I had people crowding up to me after the mini clinic wanting to talk to me of all people.
[Are YOU the VAL EWING??? The one that writes about Billy Bob and Patchy and all those articles????]

Darn interesting to be treated like a celeb!

Had my 15 minutes of fame in Bloomfield Iowa.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I'm Outta Here!

The better side of me???
Naw, just a pretty rear end.

I'm heading out for the weekend to a mule show in Iowa and looking forward to having a fun and relaxing weekend.
We have neighbors doing the critter sitting and it looks like they'll be in good hands.

I've been having trouble posting from Flickr to my blog, so what is up with that???

I guess Blogger wants me to try their Beta. Well we'll take a look at that later.

Enough rambling, time to hit the road and find some adventure!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Indian Pipes
Originally uploaded by Xena~.
I've been restless for days now. Don't know why, got a feeling of needing to do something...of something being left undone.

Feels strange although hubby thinks it is just one of those 'female' things.
I feel like something big is going to happen ... sort of like the 'knowledge' of when you are walking somewhere and you feel someone is following or watching you?

I'm hoping it's just a 'female' thing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A day in the woods

Tack adjustment~trail ride
Originally uploaded by Xena~.
Giddy up and hit the trails with bologna sandwhiches, cheese, ritz crackers, and apples.
Yum. Even the blandest foods taste good on the trail. We rode for about 6 hours. Hubby's mule got tired, I don't think she's in as good of shape as my Badger. Of course Badger and I have put in many hours this summer too.

Dappled light...fern A chipmunk who ran up and scolded us.

What a day!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Foggy Morning Breakdown

Morning Misty Valley
Originally uploaded by Xena~.
I was up before dawn and saddled Mr. Mule. Morris, the three legged wonder dog stared at me pitifully until I agreed to bring him along. Up the driveway and out Tigen Rd. we went. Morris running happily along smelling all the good doggy smells there were to have.

We traveled down into PeeWee's Valley and enjoyed the sunrise from the foggy depths. Along the way we must have jumped up about 10 deer. The dew and fog were so heavy that we could hear the drops coming off the tree leaves as we rode along.

I'm happy to say that Morris had a great time, AND yes, he told me so by giving me a dog kiss across my glasses when I got home.
Dog slobber.
Can't wait to do it again.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sometimes you feel like a nut!!!

Watch out for the photographer!
Originally uploaded by Xena~.
After 9 hrs of running around on sandy trails, eating dust, dodging galloping horses [okay, they dodged me]...and using up tons of film and digital memory...I felt a bit silly. I handed my digital to the 'timer' and did a little jig while waiting to photo the 50 miler's finish.

I had a grand time at the Louise Reidel Memorial Bra Buster Ride. I heard rumours that Louise had a habit of getting others to hang their bras in tree limbs on the trail???
She was quite the lady I guess and it is my disappointment to have never met her.

On the other hand I had so much fun, it ought to be illegal!

Next ride I hope to be mounted!

Friday, August 11, 2006


Sunset on the WI river
Originally uploaded by Xena~.
That is what you get when you are on the river at sunset. We took our little boat for its maiden voyage yesterday and had a grand time catching fish...hubby caugh a big ugly turtle!
The turtle stayed on the line so we could get a look, then bit the line and off he went.
Lots of curses with that one!

We gave alot of worms to little fishies...:-) but we also caught enough to make a meal out of!

I got released by the surgeon yesterday...Yahoo!!!!! Now I just have to continue to work on strength and if the pain I get at nite doesn't go away...the surgeon offered to give me a cortisone shot in the joint. those suckers hurt!

Well off to an endurance ride with my cameras happily in hand.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Great Day!

Oh what a glorious morning. I'm off to see the surgeon in a few minutes, but according to my Physcial Therapist I'm doing well enough now not to need her supervision. Hah! Hard work really pays off.

This morning I got aboard Badger and we took a jaunt up and around the ridge. The morning sunrise was of course beautiful. This afternoon is 'date' fishing day. Tomorrow I leave to go photo yet another endurance ride. I'm anxious to get in that saddle and ride in the next race, but that isn't until mid September.

I'm hoping that this photo - shoot will allow me to break into the endurance photography world. I'm supposed to shoot pics to go along with an article for the ride.
Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, August 07, 2006

To be a child...

Free spirit
Originally uploaded by Xena~.

Oh to be a child again. This weekend Ariel was not put off in the least by the rainy weather. After all, she had 'chore' boots that were aching to be tested in the mud puddles. As she took off down the driveway she told me that she was
'flying'...and I believe she was!

Grandkids, there is just something special about them.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

So good to be alive!

I bounced out of bed [okay...sort of crawled out of bed this morning] and grabbed a cup of warmed up coffee on the way out the door. I sipped the hot nasty stuff and called out my mule's name. Far off in the woods I heard his voice bray out in answer.
Don't get me wrong. I love early mornings, but they don't always like me.
I tossed Badger's saddle on him, threw the camera in a bag and we took off in the pre dawn hush.

We are 'legging' up. An expression used for getting your animal in shape for Endurance riding. Pre dawn seems to be the best time for me as evening is always caught up with some type of farm chores.

We watched an awesome sunrise and I was surprised by the early morning colors and how different the land looked in the early light.

On the way out of the valley, it suddenly hit me. I felt so full of live and so joyous that I literally teared up--yes you read that right. I got choked up! I dropped my hand onto Badger's neck and silently thanked him.
Never in my entire life have I had such an incredible relationship with an animal. There is an intense love and trust between us that cannot be explained.

This is to you Badger, Mr. Mule, thank you for making me feel SO ALIVE.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A day of fishing

Dusk on the Missippi
Originally uploaded by Xena~.
Today we just packed up our things and headed out to the Mississippi to do some fishing.
Packed a nice lunch and had a peaceful quiet day along the banks of the river.
I caught tons of fish! But they weren't keepers. They were little bitty fellas and I kept throwing them back and asking them to send their uncles and big Daddy's.

About dusk hubby caught the Big Daddy.

Quiet - relaxing - enjoyable -peaceful -
That was our day.