Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Second-Happiest Person in the World

At my birthday party I told a story from when I was young and working in the private sector: one of my coworkers had a book with hypothetical questions in it, and several of us were answering them. One was if you compared yourself to 99 other people your age, where would you rank in happiness? I immediately said the second happiest, since there could always be someone happier than I was, and my coworkers all scoffed at me: “YOU? You don’t have such a great life!” I countered that the book only said these other 99 people were my age, not where they lived, and I lived in a country with freedom and peace and plenty. Maybe they lived somewhere with war and famine and suppression. We were all in our mid-twenties, and they said, “Oh… I hadn’t thought of that.” So after I told this story, everyone at my birthday party kept joking about how I am the second happiest person in the world. Now it may even be true – I am much happier than when the original story took place. Even little things make me happy, like that every day on the bus I pass a street called Castle Place, where there used to be an actual castle, and then further down the route I pass a house constructed from the actual remnants of that castle. So you can imagine how happy big things make me, like having a fantastic husband like Travalon! And all my wonderful friends. I think I really am the second-happiest person in the world!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Feeling Awed

I really like a song called “Wet Dreams” by J. Cole, about two teenagers having sex for the first time. I suppose one could listen to it and be offended that it is about sex outside of marriage, but what I do like about it is that it somehow captures the wonder of being initiated into this sacred act. Because while sex is a basic urge like eating and sleeping, it is also one of the most sacred things in the world because it can lead to the creation of new life, and somehow this song treats it with the awe it deserves. While I (sadly) will never get to participate in the creation of new life, I find there are many other occasions for awe in this world, and really, that to me is what separates people: those who are capable of feeling awe, and those who aren’t. Awe is the acknowledgement that there is something greater than you are, and it’s amazing how many hip hop songs can inspire that feeling; another example is “Tennessee,” by Arrested Development. When I am overcome by awe, I literally start crying, which is sort of embarrassing when it’s in the middle of Mass and I’m thinking about how grateful I am to God, but I’d rather be a person who could be moved by awe than one who can’t feel it. That would be worse than never experiencing joy! Really, for me they are the same thing because I am so happy that an infinite, perfect being exists who loves me.

Famous Hat

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sumo Hibachi Grill

I hope that my readers had a good weekend. I had a very quiet one, since I am still recovering from being sick. Friday evening Travalon went to the Badger basketball game while I sat at home and did word game puzzles while listening to the music on my phone. If you are wondering what that is, there is a lot of hip hop, old R&B, and 80’s sophisti-pop, which I didn’t even realize was a genre until a couple of months ago. It was the British stuff that had a jazzy sound to it, like “Diggin’ Your Scene” by the Blow Monkeys.

Saturday Travalon and I went to my favorite plant store, and I had so much credit that I was able to get a free discount fern and most of a cactus. The fern was 1/3 its original price because it had gotten a little dry and was a bit raggedy. Still, it is very cool – I have never seen anything like it. It looks a little like seaweed. I will try to post a picture soon. I have been on this kick about loving ancient plants, like the ones in the Mesozoic garden, so ferns and cycads are my particular obsession at the moment. Then Travalon went to visit his old high school buddy while I sat at home, doing word game puzzles and listening to music on my phone. I did talk to Rich a little both evenings, so thanks for that, Rich!

Yesterday we overslept and went to a later Mass, then we went out to Sauk and saw several eagles. We went to the Blue Spoon Diner for a late lunch, and they had closed off parts of the restaurant, but the main part was full so we had to beg them to let us use the upstairs. Then my water glass was dirty, and the waitress brought me a new clean glass but for some reason did not think to fill it with water, even though she passed right by the fountain and I would have to go back downstairs to fill it. That is the only time we have had weird service there, so unless it happens again, we’ll call it a bad day there and let it go. Then I hurriedly finished my MOOC (massive open online course) Irish 107 while watching the Saints (as my longtime readers know, my second favorite team) come from two touchdowns behind to beat the Eagles in a playoff game. For some reason the restaurant Sumo had sent me a gift certificate for $20 for my birthday (how they knew, I’m a little frightened to know!), so we went there for dinner and sat at the hibachi grill. The chef was so entertaining! And the food was delicious. Highly recommended!

I just have to give Travalon a shout-out for being such a kind husband while I have been sick. Thank you, my love!

Famous Hat

Thursday, January 10, 2019

My Birthday Party 2019

Sorry for the long silence, but I have been sick with a cold that turned into a sinus infection. Now I am starting to feel human again. I never blogged about my weekend, so here goes: Tiffy came up on Saturday and took me to lunch at a Mideastern restaurant, then we walked down to the Union to enjoy the beautiful weather. In the evening Rich hosted a birthday party for me, and among the people there were Kathbert, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Hockey Girl, the Single B-Boy, Cali, El Vegetariano, and of course Rich, Tiffy, and Travalon, as well as the woman whose consecration to perpetual virginity I attended back in February of 2017. It was a lovely party, and Jilly Moose and OK Cap gave me a Christmas cactus, and they gave both Travalon and me a book of 50 hikes in our state. Do they know us or what? Cali gave me really good chocolate, and the woman who doesn’t have a name on this blog gave me an absolutely gorgeous book of Irish folktales. That’s the upside of being predictable: people tend to get you presents you actually like. Years ago someone once told me I was the least mysterious person he had ever met, and at the time I took it as an insult, but now I wear the badge proudly. Who needs mystery? With me, you know what you are going to get.

Sunday after Mass, Rich, Tiffy, Travalon, and I went to brunch at the Crema CafĂ©, then we drove out to Sauk to eagle watch. We didn’t see any eagles sitting in the trees, but we did see a few flying overhead. In the evening, and all the evenings since then, Travalon and I have been watching the baseball documentary I got him for Christmas, which is excellent. If you really want to feel like you’re in the Twenties, watch the Fourth Inning. We also have been walking around the house to music, because his job does not require as much walking as his previous one did, so he needs to get more steps somehow. One song we like to walk to a lot is “Manga Dog” by Peter Tosh. The chorus goes: “Feel sorry for manga dog, him gone turn round bite you.” I think we can all relate! Who hasn’t been bitten by a "manga dog" at one time?

Famous Hat

Friday, January 4, 2019

Five Eagle Birthday

Welcome to 2019! I hope my readers had a good New Year. Travalon and I ventured out to the restaurant 400 feet away on New Year’s Eve, and they said they had some cancellations and could fit us in at 8:45. It was still quite packed there, and I’m sure not everyone walked there. New Year’s Day we went to Mass, then my OTHER choir director (who is no longer a choir director because he is retired) had a party at his new place. Since it is at the old Holy Name seminary, and there is an organ in the chapel, he led us in a hymn sing. The party continued after that, but we had to leave for my usual Tuesday evening adoration hour.

Yesterday I took my birthday off of work, and in the morning while Travalon had to work, I had a relaxing time listening to music and doing word game puzzles. We drove to Spring Green so I could have my free lunch at the general store, and I also got free coffee at a coffee shop in town and a discounted book at the local bookstore. Then we drove to Sauk and saw five eagles (one was flying over the road on the way to Spring Green). We took a walk along the riverside path, since it was such a gorgeous day for early January, and then we stopped into the Blue Spoon Diner, where I got a free scoop of gelato. We ended the day at Mariner’s, where I got a free dessert, but I let Travalon have most of it. It was chocolate decadence cake. Travalon actually gave me my present the night before: two blooming bromeliads. One is large with a golden bloom, and the other one is much smaller with a scarlet bloom. I will post photos soon.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 31, 2018

Skyway Adventures

Happy New Year's Eve! Usually Travalon and I go to visit his friends in Waupun for the holiday, but the weather is too lousy, so we are holed up at home and I am blogging. We did have a good weekend. Friday we drove up to Minneapolis and walked for miles and miles through the skyway system, ending with dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery. We stayed at a hotel on the university campus, then Saturday we went to St. Paul and took a tour of the Minnesota State Capitol. We went to the Como Park Conservatory again - for me, since I am geeking out on plants so much lately. They have a whole section there of just ferns! It's like what you would have seen back in the days of the dinosaurs. Travalon could not escape the gift shop without a new stuffed animal - in this case, a gazelle he named Gabrielle. He also bought me a little squishy giraffe. We went to Surly Brewery for lunch and delicious beers, and we had a very cool bartender named Justin, so I decided to call the little squishy giraffe Justin the Giraffe. Then we explored the skyway system in St. Paul, which is not as extensive as the Minneapolis one, but worth checking out if only for the old Union Depot. We got home pretty late and worn out from two days of walking about six miles.

Yesterday Travalon was having phone troubles, so he went to the phone store and they fixed it while I sat at home watching the first half of that atrocious Packers game. How could they lose 31-0 at Lambeau to the LIONS??? They are one of the worst teams in the league! Well, apparently so are the Packers. But I still love them because I don't know, I am a masochist or something. The one thing I'd been hoping for, that my favorite player Davante Adams would break the record for most receptions in a season, didn't happen because he was injured. So was Jones, and Rodgers got a concussion early in the game and had to leave. Argh! We taped the second half and went to Sauk to watch eagles and hike, and OK Cap joined us. The three of us went to Wollersheim, and we bought her a drink for her birthday, then we all met Jilly Moose at Oliva for dinner. Jilly Moose had to leave, and then Cali came, so we all invaded Rich's house and chatted with him and Kathbert. He made us all delicious hot cocoa from scratch, and I blathered to Kathbert about the wonder of tree ferns. They're trees! But they're ferns! How cool is that? However, I don't think I want one in my house. They must not be very easy plants to keep alive, since they are not a common sight at plant stores... and believe me, I know all the common sights at all the local plant stores!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Sumo-Sized Shot of Limoncello

I hope that my readers had a very Merry Christmas. Travalon and I started our holiday on Friday with dinner at Mariner's, then Saturday we went down to Chicago with Cecil Markovitch, the Single B-Boy, and Trinidad Cap. Our first stop was a place called Eataly, which is an Italian superstore. Row after row of olive oil, wine, cheeses, and everything you can imagine - even a little section of succulents for sale, which doesn't seem particularly Italian. They have restaurants there, and I had black squid ink pasta for lunch. Then we went to Old Town and parked by St. Michael's church. A sign on the door gave the hours, and it should have been open, but it wasn't. The B-Boy rang the doorbell at the exact moment that the church bells rang, which was hilarious, but nobody answered the door. We walked down to Wells Street and checked out all sorts of shops, like two chocolate shops (one was practically a Catholic gift shop in chocolate), a delicious-smelling spice shop, a shop like Little Luxuries on State Street, and a really cool aquarium store. Travalon and I walked on the boardwalk by Lincoln Park Zoo, then we all went to Mass at St. Michael's, which is gorgeous inside and has two of the best cantors I ever heard. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant on Wells Street, and afterwards Cecil ordered two shots of limoncello while the B-Boy had one. Cecil was sure the B-Boy's single shot was much larger than either of his two shots, since the stem on the glass was taller, so he said he wanted a "sumo-sized shot." He said that wasn't original, he saw a card with sumo wrestlers working at a fast-food joint, but sumo-sized fries is not nearly as funny as a sumo-sized shot of limoncello. My one disappointment is that we all forgot to swing downtown and check out the Christmas lights on the Magnificent Mile.

Sunday after Mass I had brunch with Travalon, Rich, and the Single B-Boy at Crema Cafe, then Travalon and I watched the first quarter of the Packers game, but they were struggling against a terrible team (the Jets), so we taped the rest of it and drove to Sauk while listening to the game. We saw lots of eagles, but the game went into overtime so we drove to Indian Lake while listening to the rest of it. The Packers did win, so I was in a better mood until it took us three stores to get all the supplies for the cassata, because different places were sold out of different things. Then I went to Rich's house and made the cassata, and Kathbert came over to blat.

Christmas Eve Travalon and I slept in, then we ran some errands, and then I sang at the "Midnight Mass" at five. Rich had a solo, and he did a great job. Afterwards Travalon and I drove around looking at lights, then we had dinner at Amber Indian restaurant, and then we exchanged gifts. I gave him the Ken Burns documentary on baseball, and he gave me a stuffed sheep, a cactus pillow, four little Easter Island heads, and two John Batiste CDs. We also got travel mugs from Ma and Pa Hat, plus my boss gave me a travel mug. That is probably a good thing, since I have a bad habit of bringing them to work and then forgetting them there, so I need spare ones. Then we watched "A Christmas Story."

Yesterday we went to Mass again in the morning, then we drove to Oconomowoc to visit Travalon's mother, and his oldest brother and his wife were there too. They are so much fun to talk to! Rich's house was a blast, as always. I made eggnog with help from Cecil, and Rich served lasagna. Travalon and I had to leave for my usual Tuesday night adoration hour at six, and then Cecil came at seven for his so we went back to Rich's house for cassata. When Cecil got back, we all did a white elephant gift exchange. I somehow ended up with an evil-looking nun puppet, and Rich's housemate got a glowing hatchet, so Travalon enjoyed playing with the nun holding the hatchet. Rich got a really cool costume sword that almost looks real, and Kathbert got a bunch of cool kitchen gadgets. Mr. N'Awlins got a beautiful box of knives, and the single B-Boy got a book about growing old gracefully. Travalon got all kinds of weird stuff, like cookie cutters and popsicle makers. Cecil got the best stuff: an icon and a clock. That was even more fun than our usual pastime of playing "Guess Who You Are." We always had white elephant gift exchanges at my old job, but I never thought of having one at Rich's house before - and why not? They are so much fun!

Famous Hat