Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Exciting Overtime at the Badger Basketball Game

Last night Travalon and I went to a Badger Basketball game. They aren’t that good this year, since all the great players from last year’s Sweet Sixteen run graduated, so Travalon said we shouldn’t be fair weather fans and should support them in their time of trial. He found tickets for $10 each, so how could we resist that deal? They were playing the Minnesota Gophers, another subpar team, and most of the game they looked pretty lackluster. Right at the end they tied things up… and then it was like someone flipped a switch, and suddenly they were on fire! They got everything in the basket and didn’t let the Gophers do anything, so they won by ten. What an excellent game, after all!

There were two things I forgot to mention about our road trip on my last post. The first thing was that early Saturday morning Travalon got an alert on his phone. Luckily we were already awake, or it would have awakened us, because we thought it must be something really important but it was just a reminder he had put on his calendar that there was a coffee stout release party at the Parched Eagle that evening. The other thing was that we stopped at a rest stop on the way home, and he decided to get some cheese curds, but he put the wrong number in the vending machine and accidentally got the spicy buffalo ones instead of the plain ones. So he gave me the spicy ones and tried again for the plain ones… and this time got a sausage! Which is really ironic because he hates sausages. We’ll be giving it to Richard Bonomo. Travalon gave up on getting his plain cheese curds and went to the drink vending machine, swiping his credit card over and over and saying, “It’s not reading it!” I said, “Yes, it is – you have $10 in credit.” So we canceled that transaction, and I can’t even remember if he ended up getting a drink. He said I should blog about this, so I am.

I will be posting photos of our adventures soon, including the Valspar paint factory, or what is colorful on it these days. I found this photo of when the whole big factory used to be painted, from the St. Paul Pioneer Press and taken in 2007, so that was a good twenty years after I saw it as a child. I guess it was too much work to keep painting it like this. Too bad – you can see how I thought this must be a wonderful place when I saw it as a little girl. Wasn't it beautiful?

Famous Hat

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekend in the Twin Cities

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had told Travalon about the extensive skywalk system in Minneapolis that I had discovered while there for a work conference years ago, and he agreed that we should check it out sometime this winter, so this past weekend seemed like a perfect time to do it. Friday morning we got up and hit the road, getting to Minneapolis in the mid-afternoon. The first thing I wanted to see was the Valspar factory; as a child I would see it and think it was some wonderful place because it was painted such vivid colors, but Ma Hat said it was just a factory. I thought it must have been a FUN factory! Yes, maybe they made funs there! This was decades ago, and I had found photos of it online but was unsure if it still had the wild paint job. Answer: yes and no. Part of it is still painted in beautiful bright colors, but the main part no longer is. However, it was right near where we needed to be, and we found a place to park for $4 and entered the skywalk system. It goes in a huge loop with branches going off of it, and we went to Target Field where the Twins play and searched for a gorgeous Gothic-style Episcopal church I had seen from the skywalk all those years earlier. We got kind of lost and did end up seeing the church, then we ended up back at the Hyatt where we had entered the system and had a cheese pizza at their bar. I asked if we could drive by the church, and wouldn’t you know it was right on the way to our hotel! We had ended up walking seven miles, so once we got to our hotel, we just soaked in the hot tub. I have to tell my readers that this is an amazingly cheap form of entertainment, as well as a great way to get exercise when it is cold out, but be forewarned that there is a shocking lack of public bathrooms along the skywalk. Fortunately on a Friday night the pubs along the skywalk were so busy that they didn’t notice us popping in just to use the loo.

Saturday we went to the Mall of America and toured the aquarium, which wasn’t there the last time I had been there decades ago. It was very cool, and I took pictures and videos that I will post at some point. We explored the indoor amusement park and ended up buying just a few things: I got a little stuffed alpaca at the alpaca store, Travalon bought himself a North Stars hat (that’s the hockey team that was there when I was a kid), and he bought me a tie-dyed hoodie from a store that gives a share of the profits to animal shelters. There was a big show at the Mall for Chinese New Years, with lots of music and big dancing dragons. Then we had lunch at a wonderful Tibetan restaurant somewhere in St. Paul on the way to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. If you are in the Twin Cities, you have to check this place out – it’s just a suggested donation of $5 (you don’t even have to pay) for both parts. To our surprise, in the gift shop Travalon found a little stuffed red panda that was a smaller version of the one I gave him for Christmas, which he calls Randy Panda, so he got this one and said it was his little brother, Andy Panda. He even made up a back story for them on our ride home. We visited the Cathedral of St. Paul, where my readers will be stunned to learn that I bought a rosary. We also went to the capital building, but it was not open. We headed home and had a celebratory New Year’s dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Mauston. One of the guys who works there told us how they celebrate the Lunar New Year back in his village in China, and it sounded amazing. We had walked another six miles that day, so once we got home, we just went to bed.

Yesterday was so beautiful that we wanted to hike, even though we were both a little sore. We had brunch at the Green Lantern in McFarland and then hiked on the boardwalk right by it, which was about two miles. We were going to go to the health club and soak in their hot tub, but we were too tired so we just went to the Parched Eagle by our house for beer and pizza and a rousing game of Travel Scrabble. After we got home, we soaked in our own hot tub. I had some floating candles, but after two of them got swamped, I just set them all on the side of the tub. We also have two rubber duckies courtesy of Kathbert, so we played with those too. They don’t have a backstory… yet. 

Famous Hat

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Photos of Groundhog's Day, Rich's Birthday Party, and More

Sorry that I didn't blog about this sooner, but Tuesday Travalon and I went to the East Side Club for their Mardi Gras party. There were so many people there that our food took forever to come out, but it sure was good when it arrived! We had oyster po' boys, hush puppies, gumbo, and crab cakes. Then yesterday Lent started, and I was so happy. I must be way too self-indulgent if deprivation appeals to me so much...

Here are some photos I've taken since my last photographic post. This first one is an interesting snow configuration I saw on my lunchtime walk one day.

Here is a painting I did at another paint night, and the original for reference:

I promised to post a photo of the amaryllis that mysteriously showed up at Rich's house once it bloomed, and so I am, although it was not the prettiest flower ever.

Travalon and I met Bucky! This was outside the Alumni Center.

These are the cupcakes from Groundhog's Day. The first one is the big one we each ate that day, and the second photo is the box Travalon bought so we could have "Groundhog's Day all week!"

And here is a picture of the statue of Jimmy the Groundhog with the ear necklace around his neck.

Here is a picture of the prickly pear Travalon bought me for Valentine's Day. I bought him an old paycheck of Spencer Tracy's.

And, for reference, here is the similar cactus at the Domes.

Here is the little coral-colored narwhal I bought myself for no occasion whatsoever.

This is the sun catcher Travalon and I made for Rich for his Cleveland-themed birthday party. It says "0-16" because that was the Browns' record this past season.

Here are some pictures of the decorations at Rich's Cleveland-themed birthday party:

My Christmas cactus randomly bloomed this week! I wasn't expecting that.

And finally, here are the two things I got from Fired Up today. The first one is my improved mandolin magnet; please ignore the tape, which I can't take off for 24 hours while the glue holding the magnet onto the back dries. Anyway, you can see how the line to the right of the mandolin made a perfect musical note, and then I added the double eighth notes to the left.

This is the cactus scene Travalon and I made. The jackrabbit lost his whiskers, but because the background is black, it doesn't really matter. At least his eyes stayed in place!

Famous Hat

Monday, February 12, 2018

Rich's Cleveland-Themed Birthday Party

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I certainly did, although on Friday I had to work. In the evening Travalon and I went to the East Side Club for their Southern-style fish fry, and they had live blues music as well. We really enjoyed that. Travalon agreed to go with me to Fired Up, because I was curious about my little mandolin magnet. When I had gone in to pick it up, they showed me that one of the strings had slipped off and made a black line beside the mandolin. They said I could redo it for free, and they would fire it again, and the girl working that day even suggested I make the black line into a musical note. So I put another string on the mandolin (hopefully this one doesn’t slip off during firing!) and made some musical notes on either side of it. That was earlier in the week. Friday I expected the place to be dead, but there were a ton of people there, and there was even live music! A guy was playing the guitar, and when we walked in, he said, “I know you – you go to the ukulele jams at the Lakeside Coffee House!” I said, “No, we went to high school together.” It turns out both were true, but I still find it funny that I didn’t remember him from something that happened a few months ago, but I did from something that happened decades ago. Travalon wanted me to make a scene with cacti, and wouldn’t you know they had a sample cacti scene, so we sort of copied it but put in our own touches, like a jackrabbit sitting on the barrel cactus, and we didn’t have room for the prickly pear so we just had the barrel cactus and the saguaro. The girl working there that day even showed me how to cut the glass if I couldn’t find a piece in the shape I needed. So much fun! However, I have no news on my poor mandolin magnet.

Saturday Travalon and I cleaned for an hour, then we went to the chocolate shop on Sherman, and then we went to Mother Fool’s because they have the best latte in town. We got to Rich’s house well before his birthday party, and I put up Cleveland decorations and frosted his cake. We had a little Satchel Paige figurine that was in a box that was never opened, so it was probably considered a collector’s item, but it wasn’t that expensive at the antiques shop. I used it as a cake decoration, so now it is probably worth nothing. I took lots of pictures of everything in case anyone is curious about what a Cleveland-themed birthday party entails. It was very low-key; people just sat around and talked. Tiffy, Jilly Moose, and Prairie Man were among the attendees. Rich really enjoyed it – he said it made him very nostalgic, because Cleveland is where he went to college. I think that is a time of life most people look back on fondly; I know I get nostalgic when I hear the music from my college years. Of course, I live where I went to college, so I am constantly bathed in nostalgia, but Tiffy took a trip down Memory Lane this weekend when she came to visit. After the party, she and I ate at her favorite restaurant, Himal Chuli, and then we went to a Baroque music concert. One of the musicians gave a shout-out to my OTHER choir director in the program notes, and the woman sitting behind us was someone I knew a little from work so that was fun. Her dad was a coach for the Vikings back when they were really good!

Yesterday after Mass Tiffy, Travalon, and I went to the Peruvian restaurant for brunch, then we walked to the Union and ran into my OTHER choir director, so we told him about the shout-out in the concert program notes. At the Union we watched some of that sad Badger Basketball game. They really are not good this year and probably won’t even make the playoffs – quite a letdown from being in the Sweet Sixteen the last few years! After Tiffy left, Travalon and I went to look at eagles again, since we forgot about the winter train running in North Freedom. (One weekend only – bummer!) We wanted to invite ourselves to Rich’s house for leftover cake, but he wasn’t home. He said just go there and help ourselves, so we did, thinking he would be home soon. His Brazilian housemate came home, and he and Travalon both love the same kinds of music, so we sat around playing heavy metal and blues videos on YouTube. That was so much fun! It was getting late and there was no sign of Rich, so Travalon and I went to Grampa’s Pizza for a late dinner. Was that ever delicious! Of course Rich got home just after we left. Anyway, if he is reading this, today is his birthday, so Happy Birthday, Rich!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tuesday in Oconomowoc

Usually I have Fridays off of work, but a coworker who also works 80% time wanted Friday off this week, so I took yesterday off instead. Travalon and I went to visit his mother and played a rousing game of Scrabble with her. Then we went to the antiques mall in Oconomowoc, and can you believe that they had more Cleveland-themed stuff there than the one in Madtown? We found a Browns pennant and an old Ohio license plate. All we found at the one in Madtown were Ohio roadmaps and a little figurine of Satchel Paige, a well-known Cleveland Indians player. At the moment Travalon and I are kind of Browns fans, not more than we are Packer Backers, but they are our other favorite team because they are so awful that it is kind of awesome. They weren’t always this way; they used to be really good, but the team itself was sold to Baltimore and became the Ravens, so they had to start over with an expansion team, and they have never really been good since then. The last few seasons they have been downright awful, winning one game in 2016 and none in 2017 – a perfect season!

After all that antiques hunting, Travalon and I just wanted a craft brew, but Sweet Mullets is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so we went to a place in downtown Oconomowoc called the Crafty Cow. Alas, they did not have any Sweet Mullets brews on tap, but I did have a delicious cranberry lambic (called “Cranbic,” fittingly enough) made by New Glarus Brewing, and they had wonderful big soft pretzels with beer cheese dip. We managed to get back to Madtown just in time to play in the trivia game at Club Tavern, and once again Taco Tuesday: The Musical was edged out by the Red Team. The second place prize is a $20 Club Tavern gift card, so hey – free tacos! This week AND the next time we go! Probably not next week, since there is no trivia, and our plan is to go to Liliana’s for Mardi Gras. It’s more authentic, even if Club Tavern claims they will have jambalaya and Cajun music. The best Mardi Gras party in town that I have been to is actually at the German restaurant, but that is kind of a weird concept. Mardi Gras at a German restaurant? It’s like having to go to Oconomowoc to find decorations for your Cleveland-themed party.

Famous Hat

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Patriots Lost the Super Bowl!

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I cleaned for an hour again – just this simple routine is really making a difference! We rewarded ourselves by going to Sun Prairie for their Groundhog Day festivities. The actual festivities happen at the cruel hour of 7 am, when Jimmy the Groundhog sees or doesn’t see his shadow (this year he did), so we just had lunch at the local diner and enjoyed groundhog cupcakes. We also admired the statue of Jimmy, draped with Mardi Gras beads and a necklace depicting an ear, commemorating the time in 2015 when he bit the mayor’s ear during the festivities. We drove to Sauk and watched eagles again – our favorite winter activity! We went to the plant store, because I needed bug spray for a poor sick plant and a big pot for a plant at work. They had a really cool variegated prickly pear just like one we had seen at the Domes, and Travalon said he would buy it for me for my Valentine’s Day present. Then we had a quiet evening at home, playing Scrabble and watching a movie. Lately we have watched On the Town and The Producers. Travalon is on a big MGM kick.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich, Jilly Moose, and OK Cap for coffee, then Rich left and Travalon went to the Veterans’ Museum while we ladies prayed a rosary. Travalon said there was a really cool exhibit at the museum on trench warfare during World War I, so Jilly Moose and I followed him back there to check it out. I also bought a little coral-colored stuffed narwhal on the way because it’s so cute and cuddly and is our wedding color. How could I resist it? In the evening the guys had a steak night at Samba, so I went to The Darkest Hour with Jilly Moose and OK Cap, and then Cali joined us for dinner at Pasqual’s. Alas, the men did not call us to join them after their dinner was over. The weather was pretty bad, so that’s probably why – it was a harrowing drive home.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to brunch at Crema CafĂ©, then since Fired Up is right there, I convinced him to join me there, and he helped me make a Cleveland-themed sun catcher for Rich and a fridge magnet with a mandolin on it for me. He scored even more husband points by taking me to the Olbrich orchid sale; we just looked and didn’t buy anything. We also went to the antiques mall on Cottage Grove Road to find decorations for Rich’s Cleveland-themed birthday party next weekend. How do you decorate based on the theme Cleveland? We’re not totally sure either, but we did find some stuff. I’m not sure where the line between “antique” and “junk” is after going to these antiques stores. We went to the Parched Eagle for the brewmaster’s birthday party and ate so much there that I didn’t really need dinner. In the end we did watch quite a bit of the Super Bowl, despite saying that we hated both teams. After all, isn’t anyone beating Brady a good thing? I love how when they asked the halftime performer who he wanted to win the Super Bowl, he responded, “Go Pack go!” Now there is a sentiment I can get behind! The Eagles did prevail after all, so finally someone has beaten the stupid Patriots. Yay!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ms. Saint

Some things in life just seem so unfair. For example, if I get pulled over by a cop, because I am pale my big fear is getting an expensive ticket. However, if I looked more like my African ancestors, I would legitimately be afraid of being killed. The other day someone posted a compelling article on social media about how sex is so different for men and women; “bad” sex for men means boring, but for women it often means incredibly painful. The author gave an example of an online poll about why women fake orgasm, and she pointed out that the most common reason, “Because it hurt and I just wanted him to stop,” wasn’t even one of the choices. She also pointed out that there were ten times more medical studies about male erectile dysfunction than female pain during sex. Seriously? You would think pain would be a more persuasive problem than a little performance anxiety.

What really bothers me is that the Catholic Church, which I love, engages in this double standard. If you look at the listing of male saints, they are “bishops” and “martyrs” and “laymen” – nothing implied about their sexual status. However, women saints are either “virgins” or “married women.” As Catzookz once said, “Isn’t there a Ms. Category?” A man once said to another woman and me that he disliked how Mary Magdalene is associated with a prostitute, how that besmirched her name, and we said, “Don’t take her from us! She’s the only example of a fallen woman that we have!” He said, “There are lots of examples of saints who sinned and reformed, like St. Augustine,” and we had to point out the obvious – he’s a MAN. Where are the WOMEN saints who fell and reformed? Some orders don’t even let non-virgins join, but nobody asks a man about his sexual status before he is ordained. Seriously, if God has forgiven your sins, who are these people to continue to hold them against you? And no other sins are; nobody says, “You may be thin now, but you once weighed 400 pounds so you obviously committed the sin of gluttony.” It’s just this one sin that is unforgivable, and only for women. The worst part? A man is stronger than a woman and can take her virginity by force, but only she would be marked by the Church; the man could repent and he would be fine. How fair is that?? Seriously, all the female martyrs seemed to have died not for doctrinal issues but just to protect this one thing that is so important to the Church. Why? Nobody seems to be able to answer this for me.

Famous Hat