Thursday, June 14, 2018

Medical (Non) Emergency

Yesterday was another eventful day for me. I took the morning off of work and took a walk to enjoy the beautiful weather, then I went to a health assessment. Most of my numbers were good, but for some reason my blood pressure, which is usually very good, was extremely high, especially the diastolic. It was so bad that - no joke - they made me go to the emergency room because I also had a headache. Oddly, they had no problem with me driving myself there, because you would think that if I was having a stroke, the last place you would want me is behind the wheel of a car. I kept saying I just had a headache from a lack of food and coffee. In the emergency room they hooked me up to monitors, and I could see my diastolic was still very high. At least the doctor said I could eat, so the nurse brought me a turkey sandwich and two glasses of water (does he know me, or what?), and after that my blood pressure dropped to normal. Their best guess is that my favorite antihistamine which also contains a decongestant did this. A coworker said it was probably because I took it on an empty stomach, which makes sense since things went back to normal once I ate. The doctor said don't take that decongestant anymore, which is a shame because it really works. I already have to sign my life away every time I buy it, since you can use it to make meth if you have enough of it so they only let you get so much per month.

The evening was much calmer. The other Rosary Ladies were busy, but Luxury and I went to a Ladies' Night at a local nursery, where we enjoyed free wine and popcorn, ate gourmet tacos, and bought way too many plants. I made a succulent garden in a wine bottle. I will post photos soon.

Tonight was also really pleasant. The weather was perfect as Travalon and I listened to a Beatles tribute band on the roof of the Monona Terrace, beneath the blooming Chinese lilac trees. The Beatles are his favorite band, and this tribute band did a good job trying to look and sound like them.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

No Good Solution for the Lady Cardinal

Yesterday on the way home from work, I saw something very sad: a pretty brown and orange bird flopping around on the road. It was a super busy road, with nowhere to pull off, and I didn't have the presence of mind to stop and put my hazards on. I got off at the next turn and parked, then I ran back, but the bird had already been flattened. It was a female cardinal. Then I realized there would have been no good solution to the problem, because if I had stopped and put on my hazards, I probably would have been rear-ended, and if she had still been alive by the time I ran back, I would have been killed trying to get her off the road. She was likely already mortally wounded when I had first seen her alive on the road. Just to top things off, in my haste I had forgotten my cell phone, so I got no credit for all those steps running back to try to rescue her.

Today was an interesting day. Back at the end of April, they told us at work that four positions were being eliminated, and mine was one, so I only had a job through the first week of July. I have been interviewing like crazy since then, and this morning I had an interview at a relatively new department made of three previous departments smooshed together: German, Nordic, and Slavic. This was in the tall language building where I spent most of my undergraduate years, and I would have a window up on the 8th floor with a great view. The interview only took ten minutes, so I thought they must not be interested. Then I went back to work and was discussing something with a coworker when she got a reference call for me, and then my boss said someone had called him for a reference and left a message, did I know which job such-and-such a person was calling from? I said in shock, "Yes, that's the one I interviewed for a couple of hours ago!" Right after that Light Bright texted me to say they had called her, too! Then they called to offer me the job!! Mere hours after I had interviewed! Meanwhile I have not heard from some of these other places for weeks. I don't have an offer letter in hand yet, but I can tentatively say that after five years with the Press (my anniversary was on Saturday), I will be moving on to the German, Nordic, and Slavic Department.

So I had my interview outfit at work, then at the end of the day I had to change into a third outfit: my band T-shirt. We had a gig at Pheasant Branch playing for an hour, and though we didn't busk, someone left two dollars on the guitarist's case so we each got fifty cents. What a crazy day! Now I  have a new job and fifty cents.

Here are some pictures from our recent adventures. First is a picture I forgot to post before, of the heather plant Travalon got me as an anniversary present.

This next picture is my jasmine blooming. If only I could have posted its scent, but unfortunately that technology does not yet exist, though why I don't know. It seems like it should be easy to do.

When we went on the Epic tour, there was a whole meeting room set up to look like the cantina from Star Wars. I took this picture of Cecil Markovitch sitting in an elaborate but not particularly comfortable chair in that room.

This is the beautiful sunset we saw at the Mallards game last week.

I see some lovely flowers on my daily walk in the neighborhoods around work. Here is a poppy.

These are the tie-dyed shirts I made for Travalon and me.

It's so good to be back in the boat! Here is my favorite captain at the helm!

Our neighbors out for a walk with their kids. You can't really see one young crane, because it is behind one of the adults, but you can see its legs behind the second adult.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 11, 2018

Jazz Concert

I hope my readers had a good weekend. It was another two-day one for me because I had to work Friday again. Saturday Travalon and I met Richard Bonomo for coffee, then we went on a boat ride out into the marsh. The weather was beautiful then, but when I went to the outdoor theater with Rich, the Dairyman’s Daughter, Cecil Markovitch, and the Single B-Boy, lightning flashed in the distance now and then. Toward the end of As You Like It the rain arrived, and then they called the play off because of the threat of lightning. What a shame, we made it almost to the end. We can go back some other time to watch it, but it’s a long way to go. Maybe I’ll just read the synopsis of the play...

Yesterday the weather was cold and wet, so Travalon and I didn’t mind spending the afternoon inside at a free jazz concert. It was the last event of the Isthmus Jazz Festival, a band playing 20’s and 30’s jazz, and when it comes to jazz, I say the older, the better. The only bad thing about this band was that they didn’t have a trombone, which as my regular readers know is my very favorite instrument ever, but they were fantastic otherwise. They had a piano player who also sang, a banjo player, a trumpet player, a clarinet player, and a tuba player. The audience was mostly grumpy old people; I’m not sure why the audience for jazz would be so old, or so grumpy, which I like to think are two separate qualities. Certainly not every old person is grumpy! I must say the older gentleman sitting at our table was friendly, but he is a retired musician. Musicians often have an inner well of joy, as if they are always thinking of how wonderful it is to create music even when they are not playing. I think everyone should play music to the best of their abilities. Travalon is having so much fun playing the bass on our porch.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Touring Madtown and a Mallards Game

This week I took Tuesday off of work instead of Friday because Travalon had out-of-town guests coming to visit. They are a couple he met while on a trip to the Balkans and stayed in touch with all these years. They live in the state of Oregon but have relatives about an hour away, so they wanted to come visit Travalon and meet me for the first time. We met for lunch on the roof of the Monona Terrace, then we toured the Capitol, including the balcony along the bottom of the dome from which you can get a fabulous view of the isthmus. The female half of this couple was captivated by the beautiful Capitol building and the views of the lakes from the balcony, and she took a lot of pictures. We took a stroll down State Street and had Zanzibar chocolate ice cream, which they both enjoyed. It is dark chocolate ice cream, and I’ve never had anything else like it. Digression: once years ago I took a bike ride to Verona with the Lutherans, and the pastor was singing about this particular flavor of ice cream to the tune of “White Christmas” the whole way. Anyway, Travalon and I had thought his friends were staying for dinner, but they had to head out, so we had a romantic dinner just the two of us on the balcony at Paisan’s, where we overlooked Lake Monona and got to watch a waterskiing show.

Yesterday Travalon and I joined a bunch of my coworkers to watch a Mallards game. We did this last year too, and you can’t beat the seats – right behind home plate! Plus you get unlimited ballpark food and three beers. Usually they just have cheeseburgers and brats, but last night they had these really delicious marinated, grilled shrimp. I saw a kid with corn on the cob, but the only vegetable matter I could find at the buffet was coleslaw. Not to complain about free food! Best of all, the Mallards beat the Wausau Woodchucks 6-4. Last year during our work outing they lost by a lot. Did you know three Mallards players from the 2016 season got drafted into the Major Leagues? One is going to the Cubs. I think the other ones are going to the Marlins and the Rockies. How exciting! One of them was a hitter that Travalon and I thought we should keep an eye on, since we thought he was so good that he might have a bright future in baseball. Looks like we were right!

Famous Hat

Monday, June 4, 2018

Epic Tour

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine started on Friday evening, when a bunch of us from work went to the Union Terrace to drink beer and hang out. Hockey Girl and I were going to attend a concert at Brocach, but just like with the Chocolaterian last weekend the place was inexplicably closed that night, so we went to an Indian restaurant instead. Then we joined Travalon at the Lakeside for the twice-monthly Classical Guitar Society concert.

Saturday Travalon and I went to the main library downtown, and I made tie-dyed shirts for both of us (for free!) while he explored the book selection. We went to Banzo so he could have some lunch; I had eaten my curry leftovers from the night before and was going to just have iced tea, but they advertised something called a “baklava sundae,” and it really is as amazing as it sounds. Then we went for a long, tick-filled hike in the Mendota Prairie Unit for National Hiking Day before going to Mass. In the evening we met Hockey Girl at the Chocolaterian to hear the Daughter of Denni’s band play. She is the sister-in-law of our favorite guitarist from the Classical Guitar Society – yes, he is married to the other Daughter of Denni.

Yesterday I sang at the Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest for the last time because my OTHER choir director was retiring. I forgot how disciplined he asks his choir to be! Afterwards there was a luncheon and lots of tributes to him. Then the Single B-Boy, who works at Epic, took a few of us on a tour there. Everything you have heard about their campus is probably true. Is there a slide from one floor to another? Yes! I slid down it! Is there free juice in the fridge? Yes! I drank some! The B-Boy works in the Harry Potter part of the campus, which is very cool, but the place is so large that we didn’t get to see the Fairy Tale part or the Farm part. He promised to take us on another tour sometime soon, so stay tuned to find out how that goes.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bobcats and Waterfalls

Sorry that I haven't blogged in so long. To make it up to you, here is a very long blog post with photos and videos. Travalon and I had a five-day weekend, and we started it on Thursday evening by going to the Mezz and sitting on the balcony. Friday Travalon and I cleaned, then we went downtown for a few hours and had lunch at a food cart, and then Travalon had to work for a couple of hours while I met Hockey Girl for dinner on the Monona Terrace.

Saturday Travalon and I took the Merrimac Ferry on the way to Devil's Lake, then we climbed up the Pothole Trail to the top of the East Bluff. It was so steep that I was sure I couldn't get back down that way, and someone told us the other side was even steeper, but there was a CCC trail that was supposedly more gradual. This did not turn out to be true, but it was a new trail to me, so it was an adventure. In the evening we were going to watch a Cajun band with Hockey Girl, but for some reason the concert was canceled, so we went to Common Ground and played Scrabble (I won), and then we saw a really fun group at the Harmony Bar that was called something like the Mad City Jug Band. They played a lot of 20's music and had a great fiddler, a banjo player, a bass player, a washboard player, two guitarists - one with a kazoo - and a harmonica player. So great!

Sunday Travalon and I drove north, stopping at the Packer Pro Shop at Lambeau Field. We went to what Travalon thought was the last state park he had to visit, Governor Thompson State Park, but he found out not too long ago there is another one called Straight Lake that he hasn't been to either. We started at a lake and hiked along a trail with three huge rock formations, but the mosquitoes were really bad and the ticks were unbelievable. I must have found thirty of them on me! As we were driving to Marinette, we saw a bobcat run across the road! Travalon was very excited because he has been really interested in bobcats lately. We had dinner and delicious beer at a brewpub called the Rail House, and then we swam in the pool in our hotel. Our room had a beautiful view of the Menominee River.

Memorial Day we took a walk on the island in the river right by our hotel, which had some historic sites on it, then we drove into Menominee, Michigan and walked out to the lighthouse. We were listening to the 40's station, and they kept having patriotic songs to mark the holiday. It was definitely the right station for Memorial Day! We drove even further north and visited three waterfalls: Dave's Falls, Twelve Foot Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Can you believe this? On the way to the last one, we saw another bobcat run across the road right in front of us! It's like they knew Travalon was hoping to see them. We also had a picnic at Dave's Falls with leftovers from our dinner the night before. Travalon's brother called to say his mother was in the hospital, so we hurried back to see her, but she was asleep when we got there. The nurses said she was doing much better.

Yesterday we went to see Travalon's mom, and she was tired but was cracking jokes, and then they came to move her from the ICU to a regular room because she had improved so much. Travalon and I had lunch at a pizza place overlooking Fowler Lake, then we came home and got our boat on the water. We went a little way into the marsh and then went a little way into the lake. It had been really hot, but when we went to the Nau-ti-gal for dinner, there was a wonderful breeze. A boat that was docked there was capsized, and when we went to inspect it, two guys kayaking by asked if it was ours. We said no, and we had no idea whose it was. We told the waitress about it, since the restaurant also owns the boat slips, but she did not seem too concerned.

Here are some photos from our various adventures. This first one actually comes from Tiffy, who had a grand adventure in Scotland recently. She sent me this photo of Scots Gaelic, and I can make out a few words, but it isn't exactly like Irish Gaelic. It seems to say something about a public Gaelic room.

During Beer Week, Travalon and I went to the Next Door Brewery and had a beer and cupcake tasting. The cupcakes were vanilla, lemon, lavender, and chocolate. I remember one of the beers was a saison, and one was a stout.

Travalon and I did not actually dine on this car during our anniversary train ride, but another one that was even older.

I went to the Arboretum to see the magnolias and crabapples blooming, and I saw some turkeys too!

In Milwaukee, we saw this cat drawn on the sidewalk.

Here is a view of Devil's Lake from near the top of the Pothole Trail.

On our way up north, we passed this marker in a town called Beaver that noted we were halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

At Governor Thompson State Park, we saw lots of flowers, like trilliums (trillia?), including pink ones that I couldn't get a picture of, and these little purple flowers everywhere.

Here I am in front of one of the rock formations at Governor Thompson.

This is the lighthouse in Menominee, Michigan.

These little star-shaped flowers were all over at Horseshoe Falls.

I am not sure what this pink plant is, but I thought it was pretty cool.

This is a tiny island just down the river from Eight Foot Falls, which was just down the river from Twelve Foot Falls. Neither of these falls seemed to be as tall as their names implied.

This picture is from right by my job. For the last couple of years, someone has trimmed back these peonies just before they bloomed, which seems somewhat psychotic. I wondered if they would let the poor peonies bloom this year - and they did!

A couple of videos of the waterfalls; this first one is Dave's Falls.

This is Horseshoe Falls, which is very hard to get to. You have to take a "state forest road," which is not paved, and then hike on a narrow trail. But the falls are very pretty.

Finally, here is a silly video of Travalon flying our kite.

I have a very cool video of the wings on the Art Museum closing, but it is too long to post so I will have to put it on YouTube and then link it to this blog. Watch for that soon.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 21, 2018

Last Bunny Berigan Jazz Jamboree

Sorry that I never blogged about last weekend, but it would mostly be about the wonders of beer. This weekend Travalon and I started off with a mini-craft beer event when we went to Octopi on Thursday for pizza and beer. Friday we cleaned for an hour, as we have been doing, and I spent my hour cleaning in the plant room. It was very satisfying because now the plant room looks much neater. Then we went to Macha Tea for a popup pasta lunch. We hiked on the boardwalk in McFarland and then flew our kite near our house. It was such a relaxing day! In the evening we went to Karben 4 for more craft beer.

Saturday Travalon and I joined three Slow Food buddies in Milwaukee: first we went to the public market, then we took a boat ride down the Milwaukee River and went out into the lake just in time to see the “wings” on the Art Museum close, and then we had dinner at a small plate restaurant. We kept ordering one or two dishes at a time and would pass them around, and that worked perfectly. For some reason their menu was divided into sections that were listed in English, then maybe Spanish or Italian – it was hard to tell because the words are often the same in both languages – then in Irish, and then in some Southeast Asian language, maybe Thai or Javanese. Even odder, the Asian language was missing from the dessert menu. I meant to ask about that but forgot. 

Yesterday Travalon and I went to the Bunny Berigan Jazz Jamboree in Fox Lake, and we were so sad to find out it will be the last one ever. The festival has been going on for virtually my entire life, but they are low on funds and the demographic of the attendees is aging out of existence. Are there really no young swing fans anymore? We did see a few younger people there, but truly most of the audience members were quite advanced in age. The bands were excellent, as always. The weather had been cold and rainy, so we didn’t mind being inside all day, but it was lovely out by the time we left, so once we got back to town we took a walk on Governor’s Island. A bittersweet memory for Travalon, because that was where we took Rodney on his second-to-last walk ever. He says the stuffed animals comfort him through this time of loss, and when we got home, the latest addition to his family had arrived: a stuffed honey badger! Her name is Kizi, like the character from Roots. She is very cute.

Famous Hat