Monday, April 16, 2018

Winter Weekend in April?!

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine started on Thursday night, when I went to Light Bright's house for dinner. She said her little boy, who is two and a half, was unusually friendly around me. She said, "He won't talk to anyone else, but he talks to you!" I said I have that effect on children and animals but not on, say, bosses. They don't love me better than anyone else, usually quite the opposite.

Friday Travalon had to have a medical procedure, but he came through just fine and had a big lunch at Famous Dave's afterwards. Then he relaxed while I went to a meeting for a committee I am on to come up with a protest policy for the university. We are well known for our protests, but we don't have an official policy about how to deal with them. This is a bit intimidating because there are a lot of very bigwigs on this committee, and I am just a peon. There are a couple of student representatives on this committee as well, and one of them made such an eloquent explanation of why he wanted to serve on this committee that the chair said, "We should have been recording these!" In the evening I met Hockey Girl to hear an Irish band at Brocach.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich and Jilly Moose for coffee, then he and I went to Olbrich Gardens, and then we went to Fired Up, where I made a couple of fridge magnets based on what we had seen at the conservatory. After that the weather got bad - a winter storm in mid-April?! - so we stayed home the rest of the evening and watched most of Titanic in honor of the anniversary of its sinking.

Yesterday we went to Mass but almost got in an accident on the way there because a guy was driving too fast for conditions, then he cut us off and started to fishtail. We went to brunch afterwards with some of the choir because it was on the way home, then we relaxed until venturing out to see the movie The Post with Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and another woman. It was a really good movie. Travalon  and I joined Jilly Moose and OK Cap for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. So it was a very relaxing weekend, and it continued for me today because we had a new person start at work, so we went out to lunch with her, then I had a congressional meeting, and then a bunch of us went to Eno Vino to welcome the new person with a happy hour. Tomorrow I actually have to do work...

Here are some pictures from this weekend. Actually, this first one is from the lobby of Tiffy's sister's apartment building: a couple of pretty bromeliads.

These shots are from the Olbrich Conservatory.

Finally, here are the pre-fired fridge magnets I made, of a goldfish (instead of a koi) and a bromeliad, inspired by our trip to Olbrich.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Social Media Musings

We all have friends on social media whom we haven’t seen in ages, and now and then Travalon hears that one of them died. This morning was the first time it happened to me, and if you think about it, that is pretty amazing, because I have been on “MyFace” for over a decade. This is someone I hadn’t seen in years, but he was about my age, and he leaves behind a wife and six kids. Whatever happened, it was unexpected – his wife posted yesterday that he was in critical condition, then she said our prayers were working and he was improving, but the next post was that he had died.

Speaking of MyFace, I just found out from another user that we all have profiles for the sake of advertisers, and that you can actually see your own profile. This is so they know what kinds of ads to target at you. One thing they list is your political persuasion, and I thought I was a moderate, but apparently I am a liberal. At least I am not “very liberal,” which is another choice. More intriguing is the fact that I am an African-American. Here I always thought I was white, though I had suspected I was Hispanic from the Spanish ads they are always showing me, but thank goodness for MyFace to tell me what my true ethnicity is. We looked at Jilly Moose’s and OK Cap’s profiles, and they are both political moderates, which puzzles me because OK Cap is a lot more liberal than Jilly Moose. Also, neither of them had an ethnicity listed, so they must be the default. Which is white…? Since that is what they are.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 9, 2018

Mandolin and Ukulele Weekend

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had a very musical one, although it started with a more writing-oriented event. Thursday evening I was going to read more of my short stories, but the binder they were in had vanished. Our condo is not very big, and Travalon and I tore it apart, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. I began to cry, probably due to PMS, but then I decided to haul my ancient computer out of the garage… or, to be more precise, have Travalon do it for me, because it was too heavy for me to carry it. I set it up and found all my writing was still there, just waiting to be printed out again, so then I went to bed happy. Travalon soon joined me, and as he got into bed, he held up a purple binder: “What’s this?” My short stories! How had I not seen them?? I had even looked under the bed covers but somehow hadn’t seen it sitting on the top of them…? It was like I wasn’t allowed to see them until I had gotten my old computer ready for action again. So it seems like Someone is telling me to write again, but I’m not sure what to write. Waiting for further guidance…

Friday Travalon and I had our taxes done, then we went downtown and tried rolled ice cream for the first time. The macha ice cream with honey drizzle is really good. In the evening I got together with Jilly Moose and OK Cap to pray the rosary, then I had the great (?) idea to walk from Jilly Moose’s house to Gates and Brovi. It isn’t even a mile, but the night was cold, and then we had to wait quite a while for a table. However, the food was really good. I had whitefish and then a cup of clam chowder for “dessert.”

Saturday my band had our annual gig at the MacKenzie Nature Center for their pancake breakfast. Travalon came with me and had a good time hanging out with another bandmate’s husband. Most of the band wanted to take a break about 10:15, but our leader said no, 10:30. Just then the table right in front of us had some kind of joint failure and fell over, so all the people’s food fell all over. In the ensuing chaos I seized the chance to powder my nose, and even our leader realized at that point that nobody was going to be listening to us, so it was a perfect time for our break and free pancake breakfast. When I got back to town, I joined Tiffy downtown and we tried another flavor of rolled ice cream, pistachio Oreo. We joined some Slow Food people for dinner at the Nile restaurant, then we went to a Baroque concert at First Unitarian. It was a tragic opera by Purcell about Aeneas and Dido and the humorous “Coffee Cantata” by Bach, which made us think how little things have changed. In general I find it silly when they add “modern” touches to performances, but in this case it really highlighted how young adult daughters have always thought they know better than their dads.

Yesterday after Mass, Travalon, Tiffy, Rich, another bass from the choir, and I went to the Lakeside Café for brunch, then Tiffy headed home while Travalon and I took another great hike behind Madison Country Day School. There are so many trails back there that we still haven’t explored them all! In the afternoon there was a big ukulele jam sponsored by the Madison Area Ukulele Initiative (MAUI), and there must have been nearly one hundred of us there! There was even someone there with a pokelele, which, as the name implies, is shaped so that it could poke your eye out. Glad I wasn’t sitting next to it! Pete the Sailor Man joined Travalon and me for some dinner at the Union, and then Cali and OK Cap joined us for a really fun concert by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. We all loved it. And today I have no ill effects from playing mandolin for almost three hours on Saturday and ukulele for two hours on Sunday.

Famous Hat

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Tale of Two (Unfinished) Novels

So this may sound sort of odd, but during the Easter Vigil Mass I suddenly thought of my unfinished novel Tribute to Charlie and how it was so much better than the one I did finish, with beautiful language and a mythic arc to the story. This inspired me to dig it out and read it again… and it wasn’t very good at all. Is it even worth finishing? I’m not really looking to get it published, but I thought maybe there was some reason I had to finish it. Like the novel I did finish, this is one I have been working on since I was just a kid. Were there more issues in my life that needed to get resolved? But it just seemed slapped together and not really all that readable, although there were a few moments in it that I enjoyed. Maybe, I thought, I am not really a good writer after all.

So… then I dug out my short stories and another unfinished novel, She the Horse, about the guy who is really 960 years old. First I read my short story about three bratty teenage girls and just loved it, but I thought it would be best to get a second opinion, so I made Travalon read it. He liked it too! Then I read what I have done of She the Horse and I really, really liked it. It’s funny to think that I wrote about middle-aged people in my early thirties, and it should be the slapped-together one because I wrote it for a contest that was just to see how much of a novel you could get done in the month of November. I pondered what was better about this novel than the other one and concluded it was the characters. I really like the people in She the Horse, but the people in Tribute to Charlie are so uninteresting that I do not care about their adventures. Maybe the scope of that novel is too epic, and the other one works because it is just a portrait of a marriage: the woman believes everything is falling apart because she knows her husband has a secret, but she thinks it must be infidelity. Maybe that is the novel I should finish. After all, it is the one all my friends said they were most interested in. Who doesn’t think it would be at least a little awesome to live to be 960 years old if you aged very slowly?

Famous Hat

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter 2018: Invading First Congo

I hope my readers had a happy Easter. Travalon and I went to our church for morning Mass, since the choir was doing several pieces. One Randall Thompson piece has a single word in it: “Alleluia.” At practice a couple of weeks ago, I was trying to do it from memory, and when another alto told me I’d better look at the music, I retorted, “Why – am I getting the words wrong?” But I ended up singing soprano on it yesterday, so all that alto practicing was for naught anyway, and I definitely had to look at the music!

Travalon had mentioned that he would like to see the inside of First Congo, which surprised me since I have been to more or less six million concerts there over the years, so I had forgotten that he had not ever been in it. From the outside it is a beautiful edifice, and I assured him that inside it has a wonderful balcony. We drove there, and I saw some people going inside, so I figured their service was starting in a few minutes and we could sneak in and out in the general chaos of people arriving. We went in the side door, and a guy asked what we wanted, so we said we just wanted to see the building. He did let us go but seemed annoyed. We made the mistake of going out onto the balcony from the front… and nobody else was in the balcony, but the service was halfway through, and lots of people were downstairs, so they probably all saw us. Once Mr. Icon had told me that so few people go to First Congo that on Sundays they don’t use the main sanctuary but the side chapel, but I can tell you that it wasn’t true yesterday. The choir was singing, so we sat listening to their competent but not particularly interesting rendition of some modern piece, and then we left. Maybe not my finest moment, but anyway Travalon got to see the inside of the church.

Travalon and I went to visit his mother and bring her a chocolate bunny, then we went for a short hike, and then we went over to Rich’s for his big Easter dinner. Tons of people were there, including El Vegetariano, who was very interested in my First Congo story, especially the part where Mr. Icon said hardly anyone goes there. He and Mr. Icon are good friends, so he texted him, and so I had a semi-argument about who said what like ten years ago with a person on Kodiak Island. Ah, the wonders of modern technology. The fact does remain that First Congo can seat about 1200 people, and maybe 60 were there on Easter, so they are not exactly at the peak of their popularity at the moment. I don’t know if the UCC in general is thriving; it seems like a lot of mainline Protestants are struggling with attendance. Man, if you can’t be bothered to go to church on Easter, then what would inspire you to go? I suppose that is the Ten Million Dollar Question all the churches are wondering about.

Famous Hat

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Best Triduüm Ever?

Sorry for the lack of blogging, readers, but I have been busy Triduuming. Thursday evening Travalon and I went to the local church in Westport, where the newly-ordained priest enthusiastically chants everything. Then we went to the Nau-Ti-Gal for a quick drink. Good Friday I went to the service at my own parish, since our choir sings a lot at it. I felt oddly aware of my own mortality, as if I was on the edge of this world and the afterlife. Travalon and I went to the zoo afterwards, and the red panda was sleeping, but the porcupines were adorably eating carrots, and the meerkat was acting very cute too. In the evening Rich Bonomo and I went to the Lutheran Cathedral of the West for their Good Friday service, since my OTHER choir director is retiring at the end of this year so this would be his last one. We sang my favorite hymn, "Ah Holy Jesus," and another one I love, "Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded," and I felt very full of contrition.

Today Travalon and I went for a hike behind the private school on the shores of the Yahara River, and we discovered a little park area that seems to have no name. If it is private property, it isn't indicated anywhere. We had a wonderful view of the river from there. Hockey Girl and I tried the Laotian restaurant, which is really good, while Travalon went to watch the Final Four down at the Union. I am a basic b!+ch, and I like a priest who chants the Exultet, so for the Vigil I went back to Westport with the young priest. That was not a disappointment - he chanted everything! Then I came home and ate the ears off my Gail Ambrosius dark chocolate rabbit. What a great way to end Lent!

Famous Hat

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Earth, Wind and Fire

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had an excellent one, but shorter than usual because I had to work on Friday. Thursday night I did go to a birthday party for a six-year-old, and we all got glow sticks so I made some fun videos, and Travalon used his to "improve" his party hat.

Yesterday Travalon had to work, so I met Hockey Girl for coffee. Once Travalon got off of work, he and I went to the pyramid outside of Beaver Dam, which is a defunct restaurant (it closed nine years ago) that was called the Nile Club. We were very confused because currently it appears to be a church of some sort, and also people (who keep chickens) appear to be living there. Yet the restaurant sign is still up, and on top of that there is a "for sale" sign in front of it. So I can't really say what the pyramid's status is at the moment. Travalon and I went for a cold, windy hike at Horicon March, then in the evening we went to see my favorite band: Earth, Wind and Fire! The only thing I don't like about them is that they apparently eschew the Oxford comma in their name, and I am a big fan of the Oxford comma, so that I get twitchy not writing their name as Earth, Wind, and Fire. They were great even when they were just jamming on a Caribbean beat or playing the kalimba, but by the end, when they played their biggest hits, they had everyone on their feet. I was half-scared the Overture Center was going to come crashing down from all that dancing! What a fantastic show!

Today after Mass Travalon and I went to brunch with Cecil Markovitch, the Single B-Boy, and his mother. It was a sunny day, unlike yesterday, but almost as windy. Travalon and I went on three smaller hikes: on the boardwalk in De Forest, on the trails behind Madison Country Day School, and at a little park on Highway 19 that used to be a farm. Hockey Girl was on Meet the Press for a discussion about gun control, and Travalon and I had taped her appearance, so we all watched it, and she was dismayed at how much of what she said had been edited out. Of course the pretty young thing who had nothing of substance to say got a lot of time. We weren't sure if Hockey Girl was so edited because she is a little less polished, or if it is because of her conservative views. Who can say? I hate to be cynical, and either view is. After we dropped her off, Travalon and I had dinner at Banzo, and it was the first time I have ever seen it not packed. In fact, nobody else was there except the people who worked there. Wonderful for us, but not so good for them. Usually they are so popular...

Here are some pictures from this weekend. First is the wrapping job that Orange Tree Imports did. Isn't this just perfect for a six-year-old girl?

Next is the headgear Travalon created by merging his glow stick with his party hat.

This is a picture of the pyramid that used to be the Nile Club, taken by Travalon:

Speaking of pyramids, Earth, Wind and Fire have always been into them, and their stage looks a little like one:

After the concert, I found a strand of Mardi Gras beads, and I liked the way they looked with the necklace I was already wearing:

Finally, some videos of the glow sticks at the birthday party. I somehow filmed one in eerie, silent slow motion, but this blog won't let me upload that one so enjoy these instead.

Famous Hat