Thursday, January 18, 2018

Photos of Cacti and Other Things

I love how random my iPhone is when it plays music for me. This evening I was running while listening to it, and it played "Chan Chan" by the Buena Vista Social Club, followed by "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by the Scorpions, followed by "Didi" by Khaled. I thought yeah, that about sums up my taste in music. And if you think about it, it's very international: Cuba followed by Germany followed by Algeria.

Here are some photos from my recent adventures. First is the fused glass piece I created on my birthday; I posted a "before" picture already, and admittedly this "after" picture is not much different, but I am pleased with the results. The girl working at Fired Up said it was very cute.

The Tropical Dome was beautiful, and the Show Dome was closed for preparations for an upcoming display, but to me the Desert Dome has the most photogenic denizens. These are some of my favorite cacti.

When we went on our skyway adventure, we ended up in Grand Avenue Mall, and I thought this staircase configuration was so beautiful.

Finally, the small orange poinsettia OK Cap gave me for my birthday, next to the standard size, classic red one with variegated leaves that Travalon and I got for free when we bought one for his mother.

Famous Hat

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bucks Game and Lots of Eagle Watching

Sorry to have once again gone so long between blog posts. Tuesday I had some more birthday celebrations when Lute Player took me out for lunch and then Light Bright had me over for dinner. Her two-year-old son was crying because it has been winter for so long and he wants it to be summer again, and I think we can all relate to that! Then Thursday I went to a ukulele jam at the Lakeside Cafe that was more lightly attended than usual because of the lousy weather. However, there were lots of fun instruments at it, including a banjolele, a guitarlele, and a piccolo ukulele that was half the size of my instrument! I should have taken pictures...

Friday Travalon and I brought a cake to his mother for her 92nd birthday, then we played a round of Scrabble with her. We went to the Domes to get some steps, since it was bitterly cold outside, and the plants were very cool but I only got about a mile's worth of steps. I mentioned that in Minneapolis you can walk for miles downtown through the network of skyways, and we found that there are enough skyways in Milwaukee to get a few miles' worth of steps in. We ended up in the Grand Avenue Mall at one point, which is sadly mostly empty. We had an amazing dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery and then went to the Bucks game. They were playing the Golden State Warriors, so we figured they would lose, but at least we would get to see Steph Curry, maybe the greatest player of this generation, in person. He was injured, and then the Warriors beat the Bucks by quite a bit anyway, so that was a bummer. Still, it is always great to see the Greek Freak play.

Saturday Travalon got called into work unexpectedly, so I met Rich for coffee, and then we did half a workout. Once Travalon returned, we went to Sauk and saw two eagles sitting in a tree together, but there were so many people parked at the dam that we only got a glimpse of all the eagles feeding there. When we got back to town, we went to the Chocolaterian for treats and then went to the new place called Chicken Run for dinner. To our surprise, they gave us free deep-fried Oreos, which we didn't really need after our trip to the Chocolaterian, but we ate them. They were actually pretty tasty, like beignets with a melty Oreo in the center. We met Hockey Girl at the Lakeside to see an old school country band, and we played a round of Scrabble. I had nothing but vowels most of the game, so unsurprisingly I came in last. I also had a huge salad there to counteract all our unhealthy food earlier in the evening.

Sunday Cecil Markovitch, Travalon, and I walked down State Street in the bitter cold to go to brunch at Sun Porch, then Travalon and I went back to Sauk to see eagles. We saw some in the trees across the river from the VFW park, then we went to the dam and saw lots of them flying around and standing on the ice in the river. We went back to the Chocolaterian on the way back into town, and then in the evening we went to the North Street Cabaret to see a jazz festival. It was standing room only, and they had no food there, so we went across the street to the Tip Top Tavern for some dinner and then came back to hear the last act, a Latin jazz band called Mambo Blue. They were really good. By then it had cleared out enough for us to get a table up front, but we did dance for their last number.

Today I had the day off of work for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so Rich and I met for coffee, then we went to my adoration hour, and then we planned to go to the MLK Day festivities at the Capital. However, Rich got a frantic text from someone stranded by the sparse bus schedule today, so we went to pick her up, and by the time we got to the Capital there wasn't too much of the program left. We did hear a kid recite the "I Have a Dream" speech and some guys sing a rousing tune. Then we worked out and I went to Mass before coming home to spend a quiet evening with Travalon. And since I generally blog on Mondays, I am doing so now before the day is over.

Famous Hat

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Birthday Weekend

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I spent most of mine celebrating my birthday. Friday Travalon and I both had to work, since we had taken Wednesday off for my birthday adventures. In the evening we went to Mr. Brews to meet Twins Fan and his new lady friend. They seem very happy together, and I like her a lot. Maybe she will even get a name on this blog someday…

Saturday Travalon and I went to the Daisy CafĂ© for brunch, then we drove out to Sauk to see eagles, and we saw a couple of them flying. We drove even further, to Reedsburg for our favorite cream ale at the Corner Pub. In the evening Hockey Girl took me to dinner at Liliana’s, and she gave me a beautiful rosary bracelet. We went to the Chocolaterian to hear a singer/songwriter from Haiti, but he was louder than he was talented. Oh well, it was for a good cause – he was raising money for people back home. Some of them are still homeless after the earthquake and the hurricane that ravaged the island several years ago.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to see eagles again. Several people had expressed an interest in going with us, but in the end nobody else joined us. We saw two sitting in a tree. In the evening Rich threw a party for my birthday, and all the Rosary Ladies came, along with Prairie Man, Hockey Girl, Cecil Markovitch, Lute Player and her husband, Cali, and Rich’s two housemates. Rich made delicious chicken parmesan and of course a black magic birthday cake, Jilly Moose brought prosecco, and Cecil brought eggnog. We played a few rounds of “Who Am I?” and somehow it got really late. Oh well, it was so much fun! I just had some strong coffee this morning and I was fine.

Someone said something really funny that was going to be the title of this blog post, but now I have forgotten it. If anyone can remember, shoot me an email.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Taco Tuesday: The Musical

Today I am a year older, and the celebration started last night, when Travalon and I went to our usual place for tacos. We decided to finally get there early enough to join the trivia game that happens every Tuesday, and we bandied about names for our team on the way there. The usual teams have names like the Red Team, the Bears Still Suck, We Drink and We Know Things, etc. so I thought we had to have a good one. I suggested Panda Trolley, but Travalon came up with Taco Tuesday: The Musical, and that just sounded right. It must have been good luck too, because while we were in last place after the first round and starting to wonder if we were out of our depth, in the successive seven rounds we kept doing better and better until we won it all - $25 in cash money, as the MC says.

Today we both took the day off of work and slept in, then Travalon gave me my presents: a Peruvian scarf and the autobiographies of Maurice White and George Clinton. If you don't know who they are, we can't be friends. Just kidding, of course, but we probably don't have the same taste in music. They are the founders of, respectively, Earth Wind and Fire and Parliament/Funkadelic. Travalon took me to brunch at Crema Cafe, then we went to Fired Up and I made a little birthday cake fridge magnet. We drove out to Sauk and saw an eagle really close to us and a couple flying by the dam, then we came back to town and went to La Baguette, the French bakery, for treats. We saw the movie Coco, which I highly recommend, and then we were driving right by the Nitty Gritty Birthday Bar, so I figured why not stop in for my commemorative mug. And it was a 50th anniversary commemorative mug! When we got home, Anna Banana II called - it was so good to hear from her! So it was a really good birthday.

Here are a couple of photos and a video to give you some idea of my day today. This first one is a "before" picture of my birthday cake fridge magnet. It hasn't been fused yet.

Here is a shot of the eagle that was really close to us. Usually they are on the other side of the river.

Finally, this is a video of the beautiful moonrise tonight. For some reason my camera wasn't going to take a good picture of it, but the video isn't bad, and maybe you will enjoy the James Brown song in the background.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy 2018!

I hope my readers had a Happy New Year’s celebration. Thursday evening I met up with Travalon, Jilly Moose, and Luxuli for OK Cap’s birthday celebration at the Greenbush Italian restaurant. Friday I had to work, then Hockey Girl wanted to meet at an Indian restaurant, so Travalon and I met her there, and Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and Prairie Man joined us. Afterwards we prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet in Luxuli and Prairie Man’s downtown condo.

Saturday Travalon and I went to World of Beer for their “Beerunch,” then we went to the jeweler to get my engagement ring fixed, since one of the prongs holding the diamond in had gotten bent. In the evening we met Jilly Moose and Prairie Man at a sports bar to watch the Badgers win the Orange Bowl. That was a lot of fun.

Sunday we went to brunch with Rich, Mr. Icon, Cecil Markovitch, and the Single B-Boy after Mass. We watched that terrible Packers game - it's like they weren't even trying! We also went to the health club one last time before it gets so packed in January that you can’t even get a locker. We drove to Travalon’s friend’s house in Waupun, then we all went to dinner at the restaurant in Fond du Lac where we always get steak and French fried lobster. We went to someone else’s house after dinner, the people with the cool living room that looks like a hunting lodge, and a bunch of us played Cards Against Humanity, which was as much fun as I’d always heard.

Yesterday Travalon and I had a quiet day, watching a lot of bowl games. If Michigan hadn’t gone and blown the second half of their game, the Big Ten would have won all their bowl games. What a disappointment! Travalon was also really hoping Clemson would beat Alabama, but that didn’t happen. We did go to a party at my OTHER choir director’s beautiful apartment overlooking Turville Bay, and I saw a lot of my old choir peeps. One of them wrote a Christmas prayer that was set to music by the same composer who set my two poems to music, and the choir had performed it on Christmas Eve. We saw the supermoon rise over the lake – was that ever beautiful! Happy 2018, everyone!

Famous Hat

Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Photos and Videos

At long last, here are some Christmas photos and movies I promised to post. First are some displays at the Zoo Lights: flamingos, a turtle, and a fountain. Thanks to Travalon for taking these.

Here is the state Christmas Tree up at the Capital.

This is a beautiful winter sunset over the river:

We saw this crazy inflatable chicken that sort of looks like Trump at a Socialist protest we passed:

The next photos are of my Christmas tree ornament and Travalon's first attempt at glass fusing, a very cute dog. I tried photographing his on both a white and a red background and couldn't decide which I liked better, so I am posting them both.

This next shot is my coworker's Christmas cactus in bloom.

And here is the Christmas cactus I have at home in bloom.

I thought the Christmas tree at the East Side Club was so pretty.

Someone made a smiley face in the snow on this sign Christmas Eve. They must be a lot happier about the snow than I am!

Here are the presents I got for Travalon: a red panda and a miniature guitar that says "The Beatles."

And here are the presents he gave to me: an adorable Peruvian nativity set and a pillow of vintage streetcars in San Francisco.

This gives you an idea about the decorating Mr. Icon and the Brazilian guy did at Rich's house. I took some other pictures, but they weren't as attractive.

Some more flowers: the mini cyclamen OK Cap gave me for my last birthday is blooming again, and we got ourselves a free poinsettia when we bought one for Travalon's mom.

And apparently this blog platform will no longer let me load movies longer than a minute, so I had to put them on YouTube and then link them. First is a house in town that goes all out for Christmas:

And finally, the Holiday Train video! I need to edit this, because the first minute is kind of a waste, unless you enjoy the anticipation, and the last minute is a bit extraneous too. Still, the rest really gives you a great view of the beautiful train.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!

I hope my readers had a very Merry Christmas. Thursday evening Travalon and I went to the East Side Club Christmas party, where someone bought us a drink, and someone else told me to get on stage with the other two women leading the singing of Christmas carols. Then we kept winning the music trivia questions! It got so bad that I was embarrassed to answer any more, so I told the other people at our table what to say, and then they won. Afterwards we all danced. It was so much fun!

Friday Travalon and I had to get our passports renewed, and our photos look like mug shots. You are not allowed to smile anymore. We went downtown to the Periodicals Reading Room, and then I met Hockey Girl for a champagne tasting at the Barriques in Fitchburg while Travalon drove some Uber. Hockey Girl had given me an early birthday present of a wine tasting journal, in which you are supposed to write your impressions of the wine you are tasting, and I would write them before reading the experts’ take on each champagne. Hockey Girl was duly impressed that I would always get at least one or two of the same flavors as the experts – perhaps I do have a talent for wine tasting! Now, how to parlay that into a lucrative career… After that all three of us went to the Lakeside for an Irish jam, and I found out it is an open jam, so I will try to join them sometime. Hockey Girl and I played a friendly game of Scrabble, and I wiped the floor with her, but so much of it is luck, like if you can use a double word score or triple letter score square. Also, playing against Travalon’s mom, who is a really good player, has honed my own skills.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich downtown for coffee, then the two of us tried to take the Holiday Trolley one last time, but we waited through four stoplight cycles and it was not moving from the stop before ours. It was so cold out that we just gave up. Then my disappointment continued when we went to the grocery store for cassata supplies, but they didn’t have pound cakes! Luckily Rich said he could get me one, so I spent the whole day at his house, making the cassata and chatting with Mr. Icon, who is in town because his father passed away. Travalon drove some Uber, then he and I went to a really good Indian restaurant on Atwood, I think it’s called Dobhan, and then we went to Barley Pop to try some fancy beers. Travalon had one that smelled like a cinnamon roll.

Christmas Eve we overslept and were about to go to the church in Westport for Mass when I remembered that my choir was singing a piece with two soprano parts, and the other woman who knows it was home sick with bronchitis. We rushed to our church and got there during the homily, so I was able to sing with the choir. We joined Rich, the Single B-Boy, Mr. Icon, and Rich’s Brazilian housemate for brunch at Sofra, then we had to run all over town to find an open nursery to get Travalon’s mom a poinsettia. As long as we were there, we got ourselves one, and I got a couple of cool cacti things. Then we exchanged presents, and I gave Travalon a miniature guitar that says “The Beatles” on it and an adoption kit from the World Wildlife Fund for a red panda, which includes a very cute stuffed panda. He gave me a really cute Peruvian nativity set, a pillow that has vintage San Francisco streetcars on it, a Taco Bell keychain (that’s a gag gift), and a little kid’s book in French that I was able to translate for him with relative ease. After that we had to head back to church so I could sing in the pre-Mass concert with the choir, then we had Christmas Eve Mass, and after that we had a quiet evening at home. My days of running to the Lutheran Church, singing again, and then going to Fruit Soup in the middle of the night at my OTHER choir director’s place are over.

Yesterday we had to go to Mass AGAIN because my choir director insists on doing big pieces with two soprano parts on Christmas morning, then we drove to Oconomowoc for Travalon’s family gathering. I mostly talked to my sisters-in-law, and one gave me a necklace she had made! I hadn’t brought anything because we had been told to only bring presents for the kids. Travalon and I found an open Japanese restaurant to grab a quick, light lunch, then we drove back to Madison and headed to Rich’s house. Mr. Icon and the Brazilian guy had cleaned and decorated, so the place looked wonderful. I made eggnog with quite a bit of help from two other ladies, and of course Cecil Markovitch brought wine, as did some other people. (I think there were twenty people there.) Rich made his famous lasagna, and a vegetarian woman made butternut squash lasagna, so they had a friendly contest to see which was better. Honestly, they were both good and so different that I don’t know how you would compare them. We ate and drank and talked, then we had to take a break before dessert, so we played “Who Am I?” Actually, I do not know the official name of this game, but one person has a Post-It note on his forehead saying who he is, and he can only ask yes-or-no questions of the rest of us to determine who he is. So kind of like Twenty Questions. Jilly Moose was really good at this game, but nobody was better than Kathbert, who took maybe four questions to figure out who she was. Granted, she knew as the Lutheran in the room that people would tease her by making her a Pope, so it didn’t take her any time to figure out that she was JPII. One woman had to test her again, so she put the label “Kathbert” on her forehead, and somehow Kathbert realized in three questions that she was herself! I am not surprised, since, as my regular readers will remember, she always wins my blog contests. You just cannot outsmart Kathbert, so why bother trying? For dessert we had my cassata and a delicious banana-chocolate chip cake made by the guy who always brings fabulous desserts. I should have gone home after that and exercised, but we got sucked into more rounds of “Who Am I?” I could not figure out that I was Mahlia Obama until Prairie Man started shouting relevant questions from another room. Of all the people I know, he might be in the best position to take on Kathbert in a Battle of the Brains. Anyway, we got home late and I did not burn away any of the extra 1200 calories I ate yesterday. My diet app helpfully told me that if I keep eating like that, in a few weeks I will weigh a ton. Thanks for that cheery Christmas thought, diet app. Today I am back to being good.

Famous Hat