Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekend of Concerts

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Sorry for not blogging in so long – I have just been so busy at work that my desire to sit in front of a computer and blog in the evening is much reduced. Also, I was busy most evenings: Tuesday we went to Taco Night, and Wednesday I actually went to choir practice for the first time in eons. Thursday I had to pick Travalon up from the car dealer; his satellite radio had stopped working, and the people who installed it couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so they told him to take the car into the dealer.

Friday Travalon and I went down to campus, and we went to Mass for Immaculate Conception at the new St. Paul’s chapel. It is so beautiful! Then we read in the Periodicals Room, and then Tiffy came to town. She and I drove Travalon to pick up his car; the dealer couldn’t find a problem with the car to explain his satellite radio issues, but at least they didn’t charge Travalon anything. The three of us went to Bahn Thai for dinner, then Tiffy and I met Rich at the Handbell Choir Christmas Concert, and Travalon sent a text saying he had tried plugging in a wire to his satellite radio, and now it works! How funny that the people who installed it couldn’t figure it out.

Saturday I met Tiffy and Rich for coffee, then we went to the Capital to see the State Christmas Tree, and then we had lunch at Himal Chuli. Tiffy and I went to a free Horn Choir Christmas Concert at the art museum, and we saw a protest with a giant inflatable chicken that looked a little like Trump. We did some Christmas shopping on State Street and then met some Slow Food people for dinner at an Italian place on Wilson Street. We were a little early, so we looked at furniture at Rubins – in the lower part they have swanky stuff, but up in the loft they have all sorts of random things, so that was fun. After dinner Tiffy and I went to the Madison Bach Musicians’ Christmas Concert, which was wonderful as always. They did Vivaldi’s “Winter” and a Bach cantata for the First Sunday after Epiphany, among other things.

Yesterday after Mass Travalon, Tiffy, and I had brunch at the Peruvian restaurant on State Street, and that was really good. They gave us free samples of their supercaffeinated coffee, so then I was totally wired during that nail biter of a Packers game. Afterwards I felt kind of icky, because while of course I wanted the Packers to win, the Browns fans must have been so devastated to be up two touchdowns, only to lose in overtime. They really thought they were going to get their first win of the season, and the Browns really did play better than the Packers. How sad to think that we are now evenly matched with the worst team in the league! I would have felt better if we had decisively beaten them and not given them so much hope. It seems weird to think that our playoff hopes are still faintly alive, when we have barely won the last couple of games. However, they say Rodgers might be back next week, so maybe then we will do better. The problem is that our defense is so weak that we need to score a lot of points to win, because we can’t stop the other team from scoring. I don’t think we are Super Bowl bound this year… 

Famous Hat

Monday, December 4, 2017

Travalon's Birthday and the Christmas Train

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday was Travalon’s birthday, so we started the day at MNM Coffee, where he got a free scoop of ice cream. We drove to Sauk to see eagles; none were out and about, but we had a lovely hike on the new trail they put in where the defunct railroad tracks used to be, along the river. Then we drove beautiful Highway 60 to Spring Green, which is the Birthday Town: Travalon got free lunch at the cafĂ©, 20% off a book at the little bookstore and a FREE book at the library, a free drink at Freddy Valentine’s, a free cookie at the tea shop, and 20% off a journal at another shop. We walked all over town and got so many steps that day! Then we rushed to Wollersheim Distillery and got there not long before it closed so that he could get his favorite drink, an Apple Cream (apple brandy with cream soda). We came back to town and went through the Zoo Lights, which were magical, and then I said I would take him to dinner anywhere, so he chose David’s Jamaican. As my regular readers may remember, they catered our wedding, so they remember us fondly and gave us a HUGE slice of key lime pie for his birthday.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich and some other people downtown for coffee, then we rode the free Holiday Trolley down State Street and around the Capital. We went into the Capital to see the State Christmas Tree, then we used some coupons they had given us on the trolley at the State Historical Society store and Fontana Sports. Jilly Moose had asked if we were having a party for Travalon; he’s not a big party person, but I emailed some people to see if they wanted to meet for lunch at McGee’s soul food restaurant, and almost everyone but Jilly Moose could make it. Even the Married B-Boy came with his five-year-old daughter, who decided she adored me. What did this mean for me? That I had to run for several blocks to keep up with her as she held my hand, and then she still had the energy to run back! Having children would either kill me or get me into excellent shape! Travalon got lots of great gifts, including a book about historic gas stations by the guy who did the historic tavern one we followed from Jilly Moose and OK Cap, and a shirt that says: "I can't stay calm - I'm Croatian!" from Cecil Markovitch. In the evening Travalon went to a concert with a friend, so Hockey Girl and I went to the Chocolaterian and then a classical guitar concert. There was a very loud bat that either loved or hated the music – we couldn’t tell if it were complaining or singing along. It especially loved/hated Bach and Japanese music.

Yesterday I was very grumpy, so when the Packers were stinking it up, I told Travalon that I really had to get outside. Since it was so beautiful, and we were recording the game anyway, he went on a hike with me along the Yahara River. Then the Packers were playing better, but when we started watching them again, they started to stink again. Travalon drove me downtown for the annual All-University Choir Concert, and we heard the “end” of the game, but it went into overtime. I went to the concert, and as I was waiting for it to start, Travalon texted to say they won!! This was good news for Wisconsin, since the Badgers lost their first game of the season the night before, and it was a really important one, the Big Ten Championship. They can never beat Ohio State… The concert was wonderful and included “Tota Pulchra Es” by Durufle and that old classic “Riu Riu Chiu,” as well as another noisy bat. That’s the danger when you have concerts in beautiful old churches. After the concert Travalon and I met back up and went to see the Canadian Pacific Christmas Train. It had already gotten to Watertown when we got there, so Travalon suggested we try to beat it to Columbus. We saw it take off and thought maybe it had beaten us to Columbus, but we saw some other people pulled over by the tracks, and they said, “It’s just coming now.” Readers, you will be ecstatic to know that I got a really fantastic movie of the train going by, just feet away from me. It’s all lit up and beautiful and playing (don’t ask me why) the Jackson 5. The movie is almost four minutes long, but I should be able to post it to this blog, so look for that in the near future. 

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Photos

Sorry that I haven't blogged in several days. It's our busy time at work, and so the last thing I want to do most evenings is get back on the computer. Travalon and I have been watching old episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati most evenings, but there are only four seasons, and we are almost done, so we'll have to find a new hobby. I do have to say that God is always doing me little favors, like on Tuesday at Taco Night they played a song that seemed familiar, and I wondered what it was but had no idea how I'd ever figure it out... and then yesterday I discovered it was on a CD Travalon bought for me on Small Business Saturday! It's a CD of samba music (yes, I've moved on for the moment from salsa), and the song is "Soul Bossa Nova" by Quincy Jones and his orchestra.

I do have some pictures. This first one is V05 when they played for free at the Overture Center. You can sort of see their disco outfits.

This picture is me, Ethel, and her friend who really did not want her photo taken at the Badger football game.

Travalon and I bought a little stuffed German Shepherd to support the Madison K-9 force, and he named it Dieter. Right now this is the only dog we have.

Here are some not so good photos of animals. In this first one, you can kind of see the owl in the tree we saw while hiking at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

If you look closely toward the top of the tree in this photo, you can see two bald eagles sitting next to each other. They must be mates.

Here is a slightly better photo of the red panda at the zoo. Travalon got way better pictures of it.

And finally, as promised, a photo of my magenta Christmas cactus that is now blooming at work.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 27, 2017

Funeral for a Cool Lady

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I was still under the weather but managed to sing at a funeral Saturday morning while Travalon shopped on State Street for Small Business Saturday. I didn’t know the woman who died, but she sounded like she had a very cool, long life. She taught English to the crown prince and princess of Japan back in the 50’s or 60’s! (I can’t remember the details exactly.) The priest who presided at her funeral Mass had come over from Nigeria and gone into the seminary here, and she and her husband “adopted” him and treated him like one of their kids. Because her parents were from Scotland, there was a bagpipe to end the funeral. Then Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and I went for a hike at Cherokee Marsh, since it was such a lovely day, and then Rich had us over, along with Kathbert, for Thanksgiving leftovers.

Yesterday was a disappointing day. We have never had a bad time at brunch at Plaka, and the food is good and reasonably priced, but yesterday they brought us only one of our orders. I could forgive the initial mistake, but they kept saying, “Are you SURE you didn’t get the second order? The kitchen says they made it!” Finally they figured out it had gone to another table (since we had ordered the same thing), so we waited forever and FINALLY got the second order… and then we had to ask them to give us a discount after having to wait an hour! After that I got some disappointing news from a relative. The third disappointing thing was that Packer game – not a disaster like last week, but so achingly close to winning. However, the weather was no disappointment, and so Travalon and I went to Sauk and hiked on the new trail where the defunct railroad tracks were. We saw two eagles sitting together in a tree, and then one of them flew right over us before landing in the tree again. Then they made all sorts of noise. No disappointment as far as eagle watching yesterday!

Famous Hat

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope my readers had a good Thanksgiving. Travalon and I went to Oconomowoc to see his mother, who had the same cold we had. While we were there, Travalon called his elderly cousin in California, the one we visited in September, and then she and my mother-in-law chatted on the phone. It was so cute to listen to two people who have been friends for seventy years talk to each other! Then Travalon and I went for a hike near Rock Lake, since it was such a beautiful day.

In the afternoon Richard Bonomo hosted his usual crazy dinner, with eighteen people (I think) in attendance. As usual, Travalon and I provided the turkey, and people brought all sorts of salads and side dishes. For dessert we had Rich’s famous chocolate mousse, but the guy who usually brings way too many types of pies is recovering from a bad accident, so he was only able to make butterscotch pudding. That’s okay, how many desserts did we really need? I spent much of dinner talking to a Slow Food person I hadn’t seen in ages, plus a very energetic and entertaining seven-year-old and, to a lesser extent, his four-year-old brother. Before dinner I had played a board game with the boys and their mother, and it was somewhat like Chutes and Ladders, but the writing was in Chinese, so when we landed on a square with instructions, we just made stuff up, like, “Here you do the Chicken Dance,” and, “Here you do the Bunny Hop.” After most people had left, we discovered an amaryllis bulb encased in gold-colored plastic. How weird is that?? The top was sticking out, so it could have bloomed, but there was no way for it to grow roots. Rich’s neighbor freed the bulb from the odd gold encasement, and I took it home and stuck it in a pot. I will post pictures when and if it blooms.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 20, 2017

Whooping Cranes in Madtown!?!

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine was pretty low-key, since Travalon and I both had colds. I did have coffee with Rich and OK Cap on Saturday morning, and then OK Cap and I prayed the rosary. Then Tiffy came to town, and she, Rich, and I went to a new restaurant called Jardin with some other Slow Food people. It is a "foodie" restaurant but surprisingly affordable, and the red snapper was delicious. Not only that, but the hot toddy they made for me really did make me feel better.

Yesterday as Travalon and I were waiting at Crema Cafe for Tiffy to join us, I saw five very large, beautiful white birds flying over Lake Monona. I wondered what they were but soon forgot about it as we had brunch and then went to Bowlavard to watch what might be the worst Packer game I have ever seen in my life. The opening drive was so promising, until Hundley threw an interception in the end zone. That shouldn't have been the end of the world, but he seemed to lose all confidence after that and threw three more interceptions. The Packers didn't even score a single point! At least the defense was holding the Ravens back in the first half... and then they fell apart too. I guess we can kiss this season goodbye but hey, at least the Badgers are undefeated in football. (Possibly women's hockey too.) After Tiffy left, Travalon wanted to go to the zoo because he said seeing the red panda would cheer him up, and the little creature did not disappoint. It was asleep when we got there, but it must have heard us talking, so it got up, climbed onto a tree branch, and got as close to us as it could. Then we went to see the polar bear, and it came up to the glass too. The bison and giraffes were less interested in us. In the evening Richard Bonomo and I went to a boys' choir concert at the Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest, and all the music was Schuetz, Schein (no Scheidt), Bach, and Mendelssohn. I knew all but one piece and had sung many of them, mostly in the OTHER choir director's choir back in the day. The choir came from Leipzig, where they have existed since 1212. Can you believe the current director is only the 17th one since Bach was director there?? Crazy!

Today I felt worse and stayed home sick, but I was going kind of stir crazy, and the weather was mild, so I went for a rosary walk with Ma Hat's cuddly rosary. I heard a sound like puppies yelping, and it was a bigger flock of those large white birds, maybe a dozen of them. They looked like sandhill cranes, only larger and white with black wing tips. I must apologize to you, my readers, because I was so mesmerized by these lovely birds that I forgot to try to get a video to share with you, not that it would have looked like much. Then another flock of a dozen or so flew overhead! When I got home, I commenced a live chat with a DNR naturalist who confirmed that they were most likely whooping cranes. I had suspected it, and had seen them a couple of times in the marsh around here, but people said they were so rare that I must be mistaken. This lady said oh yes, they are in town. How crazy is that? Whooping cranes in Madtown!

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Whoops, I Went to Work!

I don’t know if you are anything like me, but we all have anxiety dreams, and I often have one in which I forget to go to work and don’t think of it until 11 in the morning. So far this has never happened to me in real life, but yesterday I did just the opposite – I showed up for work on my day off! What happened was that several weeks ago the woman who covers for me on Fridays asked if I could work this coming Friday, so I decided to take Wednesday off instead. I put it on my calendar but didn’t set an alarm, so I completely forgot about it. Yesterday morning I woke up and really didn’t want to go to work, but I wasn’t even a little bit sick, so I felt funny calling in. Plus I had a lot to do. I reluctantly went to work, and midway through the morning a coworker noted that I was marked out on the all-staff calendar. I said, “That must be a mistake – I meant to do that next week. Does it say I am here on Friday?” and she said yes. At that point I still didn’t remember that I wasn’t supposed to be there until seeing the woman who covers for me on Fridays, and then I said, “I was supposed to take today off and work on Friday, wasn’t I?” She said that since I had already been at work for several hours, I should just take half a day off and then come in for half a day on Friday, so that is what I am doing. Now I am wondering if my reluctance to go to work was some part of my subconscious remembering that I wasn’t actually supposed to go to work that day. Who knows? The moral of the story is: always set an alarm on your calendar events that are out of the ordinary. Whoever heard of someone forgetting and coming into work on their day off?

Famous Hat