Monday, December 31, 2012

Rottenchester with Travalon

I am back now from Rottenchester, where I ventured with Travalon so he could meet Ma and Pa Hat. It seemed to go very well: my mother made us a lovely dinner on Saturday night and delicious blueberry pancakes on Sunday morning, and the two of them gave Travalon some wine for Christmas. What did I get? Smiley face potholders, Pigorian chant (that they had actually mailed to me), and a scented lantern. From my brother and nephews, chocolate. Hard to go wrong there. I wasn't sure what to get teenage boys, so I played it safe with gift certificates and cold, hard cash. Unfortunately I did not get to see my niece, who is about to give birth any moment, but it was really good to see the boys. I gave Ma and Pa Hat some New Glarus beer (cherry and raspberry) and my brother a book about Chuck Norris which my one nephew loved. Shopping for people you see once a year is quite a challenge! I think my brother liked the book too...  Travalon brought stollen and sparkling pear cider for my parents. Everyone seemed to get along very well, so it was a successful trip.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to Mass in Rottenchester, then we stopped in La Crosse to go to a tavern from Bottoms Up called The Casino, but it was closed, so we watched part of the Packer game at a nearby place called Cheap Shots. We felt like we were invading a private party, since everyone else there seemed to know each other, and they were all in their early 20's. Every time the game went to ads, they put on hip hop music, which I liked and Travalon didn't. He's a classic rock guy. Then we drove as far as the Dells, listening to the game in the car, and watched the final quarter at Damon's Sports Bar. Unfortunately the Vikings beat us with a field goal in the last few seconds of the game, but Travalon had to work really, really early this morning, so maybe it's just as well they didn't go into overtime.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ode to Pizza

Today Toque McToque received the following email at work:

We are not going to close,
but you should come and get
your slices, from the 10th floor break room,
so both lunch times get a good choice.
Once you have your slices,
you  can go back to your desk.

A “BIG THANK YOU” to Scott for buying the pizzas.   

The person who sent this email has a habit of putting “WORDS” in all capitals and quotation marks as if she is being very sarcastic about her “EXCITEMENT” over “FREE” pizza, but what really got Toque and me about the email is how it looks like a poem. I was expecting a paean to pizza, but it is just some mundane instructions in how to acquire pizza written in lines for no apparent reason.  Shouldn’t an actual poem about pizza go more like this?

Oh perfect circle, bringing joy
Wherever your lovely scent wafts
Of vermilion tomato sauce,
Ivory-hued mozzarella cheese,
And mouthwatering crust,
Except to those
Who do not get to share in your bounty.
Then ah, what exquisite torture!
To smell, and not to taste.

Feel free to leave your own odes to pizza in the comments. Light Bright has already supplied one, and I have made a movie of our two poems:

Famous Hat, Pizza Poet

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Planning Sydney's Circulation

Today when I wondered what to blog about, Light Bright asked if I had blogged any more about Sydney the Red Blood Cell. We decided she needed a boyfriend, but I thought he should be Barney the White Blood Cell and she thought Walter the White Blood Cell would be better. “Why don’t you ask your readers?” she suggested. So I ask you, gentle reader – which name is better? Or is there another one you would prefer? Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section. Light Bright said Sydney needed an enemy too, but she didn’t know if that would be a sickle cell or some kind of pathogen. She also said Sydney could have some kind of interaction with a drug and wouldn’t that make for an interesting story. I said Sydney could hang out with Nancy the Neuron every time she was in the brain neighborhood. So what would you like to see in a Sydney story? Let me know in the comments.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Presents

Yesterday I went to Travalon's mother's house for Christmas, and all his brothers were there, plus their wives, their kids, and some family friends. His college-age nephew dressed up as Santa and did such a good job that he seems to have successfully fooled his little cousins. Guess what Santa gives out? Whoopie cushions, Groucho Marx glasses, and glow-in-the-dark swords. The boys LOVED it. We had a delicious lunch there, with half my cassata, and then Travalon and I drove back to my town for dinner with Richard Bonomo et al, including the other half of my cassata. I had to abandon Travalon for Date Night with Jesus, since it was Tuesday and Adoration doesn't stop for Christmas, but he had a good time talking with everyone else. He and Cecil Markovitch bonded over being half Croatian. I gave Travalon Maus Volumes 1 and 2 for Christmas, and here is what he gave me:

A friend of his in Iowa made this. The bird is an Africa grey parrot. There are also matching earrings... with matching beads, they don't have parrots on them. I am wearing the earrings and necklace today and have gotten lots of compliments on them, considering that hardly anyone is at work today. Yes, Travalon has very good taste.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Exciting Christmas Morning

Morning! "Good" might be too strong a word for it, since I was at Fruit Soup until after 2:00 am and got maybe five hours of sleep. This time, Richard Bonomo put in an extra early wake-up call with my guardian angel, so I was up before 8:00. At least this way I was able to brew some coffee before heading to Mass... but Mass didn't actually happen. The priest was not feeling well, so he stopped the homily abruptly and began the rest of Mass, but then he fainted. This was old news to me, since I had seen this priest faint during Mass before, but of course some people were panicking. We have a doctor in our choir, so he went down to help the priest, who was conscious and probably just very embarrassed at that point. The congregation started praying the rosary for the priest, but our choir director wasn't going to let a little thing like this get in the way of his plans, so as soon as they finished the first set of mysteries (I assume they were going to do them all since they started with the Joyful Mysteries, and today being Tuesday, the Sorrowful Mysteries are standard), the choir launched into its offertory piece. The Mexican priest who also lives at the rectory didn't seem to understand that we needed a priest to finish Mass, so he came by and then left, and so the deacon distributed communion as the choir sang our communion piece. Now I have to drive to Travalon's house, but between the coffee and the shock of seeing the priest keel over, I am fairly awake.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 24, 2012

Last Weekend in Advent

Merry Christmas to my readers! Sorry for the delay in writing, but Thursday I was not at work because Light Bright couldn't get through the unplowed side streets to my house, so she went in without me. Friday I was very busy at work and had to get a ride with Light Bright because the buses weren't running, and then of course I rarely blog on the weekends, so this is the first chance I've gotten in days. I only have a few minutes before having to go sing with the OTHER choir; I already sang with my own choir for Vigil Mass.

So what have I been up to? Friday evening Travalon and I went to the restaurant Tiffy calls Barnacle Bob's, then we saw a music act at the casino called "Divas through the Decades" (but we missed their one 1940's number), and then we went to our favorite haunt, Le Tigre Lounge. Saturday I headed his way and we went to a very old tavern from Bottoms Up called Hanson's, which celebrated its sesquicentennial on the Nativity of Mary this past year. Then we went to an Italian restaurant and a martini bar called Splash, where I had a pumpkin pie martini. Yum! We watched an episode of The Flintstones before I hit the road. Yesterday Travalon came my way, and we watched part of the Packer game at a local sports bar, then we toured Capital Brewery and had dinner at The Fountain, which is mentioned in Bottoms Up but is not one of the seventy featured taverns. The bar and booths are from a much older tavern, I can't remember where it was located offhand but maybe Travalon can help us out with that. Then we had a tea party at Richard Bonomo's house with Luxuli and her husband; instead of crumpets, we had Christmas cookies. There were the cookies from my exchange at work, cookies that Rich's sister made, and today a box full of cookies from Anna Banana II arrived. This evening I made my famous cassata and will leave half for Rich's guests tomorrow and bring half to Travalon's family get-together. If, of course, I am awake enough to drive his way after all the insanity tonight.

Sorry this blog post's title is so boring. I couldn't think of anything and just went with Rich's suggestion.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Airhead Rock Star

The other day I made a stupid mistake at work and said what an airhead I am, so Light Bright asked me to draw a picture of myself as an airhead. Here is what I came up with:

We laughed about my picture, and she said, "See? This is what you should always do when you have a bad thought about yourself - draw it!"

Today I got an email from someone, copied to my boss and two other people I work directly with, basically saying I was a rock star. That made me so happy! Light Bright said, "Draw a picture of that." So here it is:

The "magic pants" are because today I was in at a talk and spilled coffee on my pants but waited until the talk was over to clean them off... and then there was no sign of a stain! So I told Light Bright they must be Magic Pants. Light Bright also requested that I add earrings to this drawing, so I added shoelaces too, since I am wearing sneakers today. (It was a casual day with a cookie exchange and a holiday potluck.) Tomorrow should be even more relaxed after we get here, since there is a big storm coming, but we both have to be here because of candidates interviewing with our programs. So wish us a good ride in and another back home!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Cookie Adventure

Christmas is approaching, which means the cookie exchange at work, and it just wouldn’t be the same without something going terribly wrong when I bake. This year I tried to make my 1942 cookie recipe and even doubled the recipe but still only got a little over two dozen cookies. Worse, the bowl I made them in wasn’t big enough, so the flour sloshed over the side and got on one of my boots. (Why do I keep my boots in the kitchen? Because that is the one place the rabbits don’t go, and rabbits like to chew on boots.) So I had to wash my boot and wear sneakers today… and now it is snowing. In fact, I made quite a mess, but the cookies are delicious. However, there weren’t enough of them for the cookie exchange, so I called Hardingfele in a panic to see if she could help me out. She had no flour left after Rockstar Tailor had made a batch of cookies, so I was ready to go to the store and get premade sugar cookie dough AGAIN, but then I remembered the oatmeal cookie recipe on my canister of oatmeal. Fortunately I had just enough flour left to make a batch of those, so now I have something for the cookie exchange. Why is this always such an adventure for me every year?

Famous Hat

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musical Weekend

Friday night Travalon and I went to my work holiday party. There was a gag gift exchange which was very entertaining, but we left just in time – it was getting dirty and I heard it actually got religiously offensive. Just as well we went to grab some dinner at Hu Hot and then went to our favorite hangout, Le Tigre Lounge.  Saturday Tiffy came to visit for the first time in months, so that was a lot of fun. We went to a Baroque music concert and to a handbell concert, so we got our music fix in. Sunday Travalon and I watched the Packer game at a bar where the clientele kept going “Awww!” every time Jay Cutler appeared onscreen, looking bummed about throwing an interception, holding his aching shoulder, etc. I am happy to report that the Bears still suck. Then we went to a coffeehouse where Hardingfele’s husband was playing Beatle songs on the guitar, and then we went to a tavern that was mentioned in the book Bottoms Up, although it was not one of the seventy chosen taverns. It is called Mickey’s and is like a house inside, with a parlor and a living room. We had dinner at the Costa Rica Café and then watched old SCTV clips with Richard Bonomo. I love CCCP1 TV! Especially what fits inside of Russia. Answer: almost everything.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 14, 2012

What's Your Name?

I work with someone who has the first name Guillermo, which is Spanish for William and pronounced something like “Ghee-yermo.” That is not exactly it, of course, but it is much closer than an old coworker of ours was. She insisted on calling him “Ghill-ermo.” It made me cringe every time I heard it. Are Spanish names that hard to pronounce? There was a time when I worked with a man named Javier, which is pronounced something like Hah-vee-air, but several of our coworkers insisted on making his name rhyme with caviar. Feel free to tell me the worst mispronounced Spanish name you have heard in the comments.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Watch for Falling Duck Decoys

A-Joz told me that her car’s gas tank was all smashed up on the bottom, and her mechanic wanted to know who or what she ran over, but she has no idea. When I said that was the worst car story I had heard since someone on the bus said a possum got into her engine and chewed up some wires so the car started on fire while she was driving, A-Joz replied with this:

Oh geez.  I've run over a bag of duck decoys that flew out of a trailer and under my car on the Interstate, just barely missed an orange barrel rolling into me on the Interstate, narrowly avoided being rear-ended on the Interstate, but I have never had my car start on fire.

I felt that first story was worthy of a blog post, so I asked if she could elaborate and I could blog about it, and this is what she said:

Oh feel free.  The net caught under the car.  I had to pull over onto the shoulder.  I dislodged the ducks, walked back a way on the shoulder to pick up a few that had fallen out of the net, and then threw them all in my car.  I even stopped in Town of Summit and contacted the police to see if someone had called about them.  A very nice police officer came out to talk to me.  He said, "May I see the ducks, ma'am?"  I led him to my car where approximately 10-15 ducks and geese regarded us from the back seat.  I think it was all he could do to not crack up.  No one ever claimed the ducks, so I gave them to some hunters.

So beware of duck decoys on the Interstate.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fabulous Party Trick

Last night I attended a birthday party where one of the guests made ice cream. Now I’ve made ice cream before and you may have too. It usually involves nearly an hour of hand cranking, so when this guy said it would take him ten minutes to make the ice cream, and it would be interesting to watch, he got my attention. We sat raptly as he poured the heavy whipping cream, the half and half, the sugar, and the strawberries his wife had picked into a large bowl and then poured in – here’s where it gets interesting – some liquid nitrogen. Fog poured over the side of the bowl as he stirred the ingredients together, making it look as if he were preparing some magic potion. He repeated the process with the liquid nitrogen three more times and then deemed the ice cream ready for consumption. I have to say it was the tastiest ice cream I have had in a very long time, maybe ever. So if you are able to get a hold of some liquid nitrogen, you too can perform this fabulous party trick.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Divine Justice

Today’s story is about someone who is a bit slow in learning a life lesson. Let’s say, to protect the guilty, that this was a student who talked to Toque McToque today. In a previous life she was a wild animal killed by a poacher, and the injustice of it made her so mad that she insisted on remembering her previous life and being a human only once and in general just making a mess of this life, even though God told her there would be justice for the poacher, but that was His business, not hers. This same person was recently accused by someone of doing something she didn’t do, and instead of just nodding and agreeing not to do it again, she was all indignant about being unjustly accused. Then it occurred to her – this was the very lesson she was supposed to learn from her last life, and she still hadn’t internalized it, that she should leave justice to God or karma or whatever you happen to call Divine Justice. When I told Light Bright this story, she thought I said the girl had been a leper in her previous life, not a leopard, and when I said, “Now you aren’t interested in the story,” she said, “I wanted to hear about parts falling off!”

Famous Hat

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Lady of Good Help

This weekend Travalon had to work, and Richard Bonomo wanted to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help up in Champion, north of Green Bay, so I accompanied him and another woman I may never have mentioned on this blog for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We stopped in Green Bay to visit a former tenor from the choir and his wife. Their oldest child entertained us with her musical toys and her gingerbread house sticker kit; the other two were napping.  Then we continued on to the shrine, where there was an apparition of Mary to a woman named Sister Adele on October 9, 1859. She then founded a school on the spot. You can read more about it here. We spent most of our time praying in the crypt which is the site of the apparitions, but we also checked out the café, chapel, and gift shop, and I explored the Stations of the Cross in the back. There was even a tiny roadside chapel that had been moved there, but it was locked so I couldn’t tell you what it looked like inside.  It was a wonderful, peaceful place, and I would encourage everyone to make a pilgrimage there.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 7, 2012

Does This Post Make Me Look Fat?

I have been oversensitive lately. I sent an email from a coworker to Light Bright and asked if she thought it was snippy. She said yes, but now she regrets backing me up on that because I think everyone is being snippy to me. She says she is going to make a sign and attach it to the back of her chair that says: “You are being oversensitive!” and if I ask if I am being too sensitive about something someone says, she is going to point to the sign. Light Bright says I should say a quick Hail Mary to myself if someone says something to make me feel bad, so if you say something to me and I close my eyes for a moment and don’t reply, you just made me fee bad.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hump Day Pilgrimage

Yesterday I took the afternoon off of work to go to New Glarus with Travalon, since both Puempel’s (pronounced “pimples”) Olde Tavern and the New Glarus Brewing Company are in Bottoms Up. We had a simple lunch at Puempel’s and then walked around town, stopping in a number of shops and getting some treats before we headed to the brewery. We took a tour and tasted some of their beers, which were really delicious. It was fun looking at the awards they had won and seeing how they had moved from “small brewery” to “medium-sized brewery" in just a couple of years. Travalon was laughing at me because the sticker from my new socks must have gotten stuck to my hat, and then when I removed the hat it was stuck on my forehead, proclaiming I was a “six pair value.” We drove to Jefferson and went to the Landmark Bar, where the bartender (who is also the local sports reporter) was very entertaining. He was telling us about a guy they call “Two Canoes” because if you say you have a canoe, he’ll say, “I’ve got two canoes!” You know the type. Apparently this guy loves to tell tales, like that he has played professional baseball and that he has driven the Queen of England around in a limousine. Then Travalon and I drove to Watertown, listening to Christmas music on the radio, and I’d like to know since when is Pachelbel’s Canon in D a Christmas song? Yet I have heard more than one version of it played on the Christmas radio station. Then they played “My Favorite Things” (another song that somehow became a Christmas staple), and Travalon did an amazing imitation of Julie Andrews. I laughed so hard! We went to Bismark’s for dinner, since that was in the book as well, and the service was slow but the food was good. All these old taverns have beautiful bars. The author is right – not one of them has been a disappointment so far!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This Post Ridden by Famous Hat and Light Bright

My office mate Light Bright’s country band is going to play a Christmas concert next year at the same place where they played their tribute show this year, and they are trying to think of names for the show. Light Bright and I thought of Tinsel and Twang; she came up with Tinsel, and Twang was my idea. She is just full of witticisms the last two days. For example, yesterday I made a smart remark which neither of us can remember, and she waited a beat and said, “I would have replied with a witty comment, but my mouth was full, and now the moment’s passed.” Then today on the student radio station, the DJ kept saying that a song was “ridden by” a certain person, and after the third time, Light Bright said, “Someone needs to buy that girl some T’s!” I said, “That’s so funny, I have to blog about it!” So I am.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unicorn Code of Ethics

When I was in sixth grade, I made a papier mache (which comes from the French for “chewed paper,” by the way) unicorn mask that defied gravity. It was so cool, with glitter-festooned cotton for a mane, that I was a unicorn for Halloween for several years, until for reasons I cannot explain Ma Hat took it upon herself to throw it away. Now all these years later, Toque McToque found this unicorn mask for sale. While it is out of stock and not nearly as cool as mine was, I do love the Unicorn Code of Ethics listed underneath it:

  • 1. Unicorns never cheat.
  • 2. Unicorns always lend a helping hand.
  • 3. Unicorns don’t talk to strangers.
  • 4. Unicorns respect the Earth.
  • 5. Unicorns are never late.
  • 6. Unicorns aren’t conceited.
  • 7. Unicorns don’t judge people.
  • 8. Unicorns always give 100%.
  • 9. Unicorns graze on peace and love.
  • 10. Unicorns don’t do drugs.
So if you are going to pose as a unicorn, remember that you must adhere to this code.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 3, 2012

Water Park Birthday

Saturday was Travalon’s birthday, and he wanted to go to a water park (indoor, this time of year, of course), so we went to Kalahari in the Dells. They have evening passes, and that is the time to go, after the screaming children are gone for the day. There were lots of teenagers, but they mostly just hung around in clumps and spent little time screaming. My knee was bothering me, so I thought my options would be the Lazy River and the hot tubs, but I did try going up the steps very slowly to the water slides. As the evening wore on, the trips got less painful, maybe because of all the time we spent in the hot tubs. There were several fun water slides where we could go down together on a raft, and a scary one where they put you into a pod and then the bottom dropped out, and Travalon’s favorite, the Vortex. As his brother said, it was like getting flushed down a giant toilet. You went down the slide and into this big round area where you went around and around and finally fell head-first out the bottom into a nine foot deep pool. I almost got killed on that one because the girl behind me didn’t wait until I was out of the pool before she went down the slide. I had just gotten right out from under the “toilet” when she fell out of it. Scary! The life guard yelled that she was supposed to wait until the light was green, but she insisted it had been, which I highly doubt. Otherwise it was a really fun trip I would recommend to anyone who loves water. They even have an adult-only section where you can enjoy an adult beverage in a hot tub.

Before the water park, we went to Damon’s for dinner and played the trivia game they have there. Some other people were playing too, but TRVLON won one round. Then yesterday we watched the Packer game at a sports bar near my house with Luxuli and her husband, and they had the same trivia game. We did really well at it, but we had some stiff competition – nobody! Then we all went to a Christmas concert, and then Luxuli had us over for a birthday dinner and cake, not in that order. Don’t they say life is short so eat dessert first? Richard Bonomo and Kathbert joined us too. Afterwards Travalon and I were talking about what weekday evenings are good for getting together, and I said Tuesdays are not good for me because I have Adoration from six to seven. Travalon said, “Why do you need to be adored for an hour? I already adore you!” Isn’t that sweet?

Famous Hat