Thursday, September 14, 2017

Light Bright's Early Birthday Dinner

Last night I went to Light Bright’s house for her birthday, which isn’t actually until next Thursday. I had band practice first, so by the time I got there, it was just about time for her to put her little guy to bed. He is 22 months old now and so cute! He is very shy, but he loves music, so he was fascinated by my mandolin. After he went to bed, I gave Light Bright some bath “bombs,” since I figured a working mother could use a relaxing bath now and then! We had homemade soup and a dark chocolate bar that I had brought, and she wanted to hear all about my medical procedure. I had her laughing so hard, especially at the part where I came to after the surgery and announced to all the OR personnel: “I was canoeing!” That got us wondering about what the strangest things are that those people have heard as patients came out from under anesthesia. We also talked about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a very strange movie I used to go to in college that has a lot of audience participation, and the musical The Book of Mormon, which she had recently seen and highly recommends. It was so good to talk to her! She is a very sane, down-to-earth person, and we always have a really good time when we get together about once a month. She says sometime this winter she will make some spicy hot chocolate for me. Hockey Girl has also promised to make me some hot cocoa, so at least I have something to look forward to when the weather gets cold.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Immigration and Popular Music

There has been a lot of talk about immigration lately. I agree that we need to do something about illegal immigration, but we should also make legal immigration easier. However, now it seems the administration is trying to do the opposite. This makes me sad not only because of what it does to people trying to flee terrible conditions, but also for what it would do to the music on the radio. Right now DJ Khaled and French Montana are played a lot on the station I listen to, and I love their music, but they came over from Pakistan and Morocco as children. And what about Rihanna? She is from Barbados, so she must also be an immigrant. Can you imagine popular music right now without her in it? I think all these immigrants are bringing fresh ideas to music, and it would be a shame to lose that. Just another reason we should welcome immigrants, not shut them out.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekend of Birthdays

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday I had my first day off of work due to my new schedule of working 80% time, and of course it was cold and overcast. I also had a bit of a cold and might have called in sick anyway. Travalon worked in the morning, then in the afternoon he and I went for a hike on a part of the Ice Age Trail that a coworker had recommended to me. In the evening we went to the East Side Club for their fish fry.

Saturday Travalon and I got up kind of late, so we ran to one coffee shop quickly before Tiffy came to town, but we had forgotten they were closed that day for a wedding. We ran to another one and stopped in a new chocolate shop next door. Mmm! It’s called CocoaVaa. When Tiffy came up, she and I stopped in there for some more chocolate. The cherry bonbon is amazing. I took Tiffy on a Betty Lou Cruise for her birthday, then we hung out on the roof of the Monona Terrace and watched some of the triathletes swimming in the Iron Man contest. In the evening she, Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and I went to Liliana’s for a dog rescue fundraiser, but Travalon was bummed to see that they have taken his favorite item (blackened catfish) off the menu. Also, because the fundraiser was so popular, the kitchen was backed up, so it took a while to get our food. When it came, it was so good. Then Tiffy headed home, Travalon went to see an AC/DC tribute band, and I hung out at Rich’s house for a bit.

Sunday Travalon went to visit his family in Oconomowoc, so I convinced Rich to join me for crepes at a health food place, and then he and I went for a hike by the Yahara River. In the evening Travalon and I took Hockey Girl to Sardine for her birthday, sitting out on the patio overlooking Lake Monona. I had skate, which is a type of fish, and oh my goodness was it delicious! We also had chocolate ganache cake, since it was a birthday party, while Travalon had caramel pot de crème. Afterwards we went up on the Monona Terrace rooftop, which Hockey Girl had never seen, and she was amazed by how beautiful it was up there. She asked me to take her picture in front of the Capital, but I didn’t really understand her phone and managed to take 54 pictures, none of them very good. Her actual birthday is today, so Happy Birthday Hockey Girl! (I don’t think she reads this blog.)

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Nomadic Goddess

As Travalon and I were wandering this weekend, it occurred to me that I am a nomadic goddess rather than a domestic one. Household chores are not my strong suit, but I always seem to be prepared to hit the road. I think of all the things we need to bring, even little things like cold bottles of water to drink along the way, and then I refill them at the hotel and stick them in the mini fridge to be ready for the next day’s adventure. I always remember (knock on wood!) to pack my phone charger, whether at home or at the hotel – so far I haven’t left it anywhere! I even have a system for taking the mini shampoo bottles and soaps, since the housekeepers just throw them away if you don’t take them with you. I said to Travalon that it must be the 0.1% Mongolian in me, that I was like my ancestors who were always ready to pack up the yurt and move on, and he thought that was pretty funny. It’s ridiculous enough to blame my love of funk music on my 1% African heritage, but how much influence would 0.1% of my DNA hold over me? Still, I like to think that I am not a failure as a domestic goddess but just have a different skill set than the happy homemaker. (Yes, that is a MTM reference – Travalon and I are addicts!)

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Labor Day Weekend Addenda

Two things I forgot to mention about our adventure on Saturday:

We passed a fascinating place, so we had to stop. It was a county park that was full of cement statues created by a self-taught artist who could neither read nor write. He sculpted them in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s when he was already quite old, so they depict life around the turn of the last century. Lots of horses pulling carts and things like that. He incorporated little pieces of glass and other stuff he found in the cement. I took some pictures – it was quite impressive!

We stopped in a tiny town that may have been called Preston because Travalon remembered going to a bar there at least twenty years ago that was full of cacti, and the proprietor wore a cowboy hat and boots. He said the décor included cattle skulls. We found a bar called La Rosa, which sounded promising, but as soon as we walked in, he knew it wasn’t the place. “This is too big,” he said. It was midday, and the only people in there were two women: the friendly bartender and a very odd older lady who may have been inebriated. When we told them our sad story, the odd lady told us she knew what bar we meant. It was called the Cactus Cantina, and she had been a co-owner with two other people, but they kept fighting so she let them buy her out. She said that establishment had been closed for years, and the building has since been a strip club, but she wasn’t sure what was there now. It wasn’t in that town but back toward Tomahawk. We didn’t bother to go back to try to find it, but what are the odds that the owner of the very establishment we sought would be at the one we stumbled into?

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Boating on the Chippewa Flowage

I hope my readers had a good Labor Day weekend. Sorry that I haven’t blogged in several days. Thursday evening I was busy playing tennis with Travalon despite my bad knee, and it seemed to go okay. Friday I took off of work early and went on a boat ride with Travalon, then in the evening we parked by the Monona Terrace, had dinner at their outdoor café, and walked to Camp Randall to watch the Badgers play Utah State in their first football game of the season. We were hoping they wouldn’t completely demolish Utah State, but in the first quarter it looked like we had to fear the opposite problem because the Aggies scored 10 points and we didn’t get anything. By halftime we had tied it up, and then in the second half we were beating up on them so badly that we ended up winning by seven touchdowns. Travalon and I left before the end, when it was obvious that it was going to be a very lopsided game. It was fun anyway.

Saturday Travalon and I got on the road and drove to Rib Mountain, where we took a quick hike on the top. We stopped for lunch at a bar outside of Tomahawk owned by someone Travalon went to school with, but she wasn’t there. We drove to a very old tavern from the book that had north woods décor, a warm, happy vibe, and supposedly a ghost – the first owner! We stayed overnight in Park Falls, which is a shockingly quiet place on a Saturday evening – we were walking around at nine in the evening and saw almost nobody!

Sunday we went to Mass at St. Anthony of Padua in Park Falls, then we had breakfast at a diner there and drove to the next tavern in the book, a little bar in a resort on the Chippewa Flowage. They weren’t actually open because of a big cookout they were having that afternoon, but they did let us in and even sold us a drink. We really wanted to go for a boat ride on the Chippewa Flowage, which is a big area of water full of crazy little islands, so we found a resort that would rent us a boat. It was so much fun! N.b., Travalon and I are wanderers by nature and good navigators, so we had no problem finding our way back even though this was all trees and water, no manmade landmarks to follow or maps or even GPS on our phones because we got no signal up there. If you make the trip yourself, make sure to take a good look at your surroundings so you can find your way back to where you started. Our next stop was Amnicon Falls outside of Superior, a beautiful state park full of waterfalls. We went to Duluth and saw the sun setting over the harbor. That is a very pretty town! We took a walk along the waterfront and watched the lights come up, then we drove back to Superior and went to a third tavern from the book, Thirsty Pagan Brewing. We got a flight of sour beers and their amazing pizza, and for dessert their even more amazing beer brownie served warm with ice cream. Do NOT miss this place if you go to Superior! We drove down to Rice Lake to our hotel and ended the evening with a late-night swim in their lukewarm pool.

Yesterday we spent a lot of time driving along the Chippewa River and stopping at state parks: Brunet Island, Lake Wissota (we also had a wonderful lunch right near there at a restaurant with a patio overlooking the lake), Mill Bluff, Mirror Lake (where we got there just as they were closing the canoe rental place), and Governor Nelson just before we got home. That last one was just so we could say that we went to five in one day. And now we are down to just one tavern from the book! We did have one aggravating moment in New Auburn where a train was crossing the road, and it kept stopping and going back and forth, until we finally found a path around it. Otherwise it was a safe and wonderful trip!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Popular Music for Decades

Last night Travalon and I watched a video that purported to show the #1 song on the Billboard charts from 1940-2016, but unfortunately it didn’t say what the song was or who performed it. It just played a little snippet of each one. The early ones left us completely mystified, although we had heard some of them before. By the late 50’s Elvis dominated the chart, and by the 60’s we knew all the songs except the #1 song for 1960, which was an instrumental that Travalon thought sounded familiar, but I had never heard before. In the 90’s Travalon no longer recognized the songs, but I knew all of them up until the present, because I continue to listen to whatever is popular. Surprisingly, Michael Jackson never had the #1 song any year, although he seemed to dominate the charts in the mid-80’s. However, his sister Janet had two of them. Mariah Carey showed up several times in the 90’s and 00’s and then handed her crown over to Rihanna. I was trying to figure out if there was a pattern of fast or slow songs, but I couldn’t detect one. Ballads and dance numbers were popular in every decade. Oddly, when I looked for a chart online to figure out what some of the older songs were, it didn’t completely correspond with the video. You would think there was only one official Billboard charting system…

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