Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Orleans Post #2

I forgot to mention in my previous post that it was raining really hard on Sunday night, so hard that Bourbon Street got flooded... and yet someone had sprinklers going on a bit of green space on Decatur. Was the grass really not getting enough water? If you hate water, Louisiana is not the state for you. The place is one big swamp.

Monday Travalon and I went to a plantation called Oak Alley, because someone back in the 18th century planted a double row of oak trees (28 in all) stretching down to the Mississippi River. Then in the 19th century a rich Creole built his plantation house at the end of the double row of trees. It was a beautiful plantation, and they are restoring the slaves' quarters so we can see how the slaves had to live. Then we went on a swamp tour called Cajun Pride, which was awesome. Our guide was a real Cajun who could spot snakes and alligators that we could barely see after he pointed them out. He even had a baby alligator with its mouth taped shut that he let us hold.A young pelican swam right by our boat, so I got a great shot of it that I will post at some point. A storm started brewing so we got off the bayou just in time; our tour could have gotten a lot more exciting, being on a metal boat with lightning flashing around us. Then Travalon and I drove to Biloxi, Mississippi and went to some casinos: Beau Rivage, which has a great Cajun/Creole buffet; the Hard Rock Cafe, which has lots of rock memorabilia; and Margaritaville, where they play Jimmy Buffett music all the time, and the theme is very tropical. I liked that one best, since it was not very crowded (being brand new) and so was quieter and less smoky. Plus I won $11 and some change on $1, and the bartender gave us free drinks. So that's the lucky casino, if you find yourself in Biloxi.

Yesterday we drove down to the bottom of the state, to a place called Grand Isle where all the houses are on stilts. It was a really chill place, and we got some genuine Cajun food down there, but by the time we found a guy who charters a fishing boat, it was too late to start out. We just took a walk by the beach instead. The highway to Grand Isle goes along a river, and we saw lots of shrimp boats on the way up and back. In the evening we returned to the French Quarter of New Orleans and got daiquiris, which are a big thing around here. We went to Preservation Hall, but there were so many people waiting in line to get in that we decided to go to Frenchmen Street instead, where we had dinner at a restaurant called the Praline Connection: we split a "soul food" platter with barbecued ribs, fried chicken, gumbo, jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish etouffe, greens, red beans and rice, and for dessert bread pudding with pieces of praline crumbled on top. I have no idea how one person could eat all that! Two of us could not quite finish the bread pudding. Then we went to the Spotted Cat and heard a couple of bands. There was a guy in the first band who had also been in the band at Fritzl's on Friday night and the band at Maison on Saturday night, so we figured he must play somewhere in the city every night of the week.

This was the first time I'd been in New Orleans with a car, and a word of warning to anyone planning to drive here: lots of roads are one way, and even the ones that aren't often don't allow left turns to be made onto them for reasons we could not understand. Figuring out how to get around town is a bit of a challenge, and of course parking in the French Quarter is not cheap. So that's what you can expect if you have a car in this city.

Famous Hat

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Orleans Post #1

I have been so busy running around this city with Travalon that I haven't had a chance to blog until now, which is almost midnight on Sunday. The train ride to New Orleans was eventful, just like last time; this time, there was a freight train that derailed just outside of Jackson, Mississippi so we had to take a detour to Hattiesburg, Mississippi and approach the Big Easy from that direction. This only added an hour to our travel time, but by then the rental car place had closed. Fortunately some other people on the train had been calling them, so they knew we were coming and opened just for the people who were on the train. That night we went to Fritzl's, a jazz club on Bourbon Street.

Yesterday we went to the State Museum of Louisiana and to the National WWII museum, which for some reason had an NFL display going on. Travalon loved the 1940's style soda shop, which was very cool, and I had some red velvet ice cream there. Travalon is a big WWII buff and took photos of tons of things at both museums. Then we rode the streetcar through the Garden District, where one house had lights in Mardi Gras colors. We went to Frenchmen Street, where there are a lot of jazz clubs, and had dinner at Snug Harbor. The Spotted Cat was way too crowded to get into so we went to a place called Maison which had an excellent band called the New Orleans Smoking Section or something like that. One guy was playing the biggest saxophone I'd ever seen. (I got photos of some of these things and will be posting them later.) We were told there was a bar on Rampart Street that made gin fizzes, but the one we went to did not, plus it was a gay bar so they looked at us very strangely. You would not believe how hard it is to find a gin fizz, which is supposed to be an iconic New Orleans drink, in New Orleans.

Today we went to Mass at the historic St. Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest cathedral in the US. Then we took a riverboat cruise to the site of the battle of New Orleans from the War of 1812. It was cold today, but not as cold as y'all are. (Yes, they do say "y'all" down here all the time.) We finally were able to get into Cafe du Monde for some coffee and beignets. Then we found a bar from 1856 (the same year as my parish) called Tujague's that made gin fizzes, so if you want one, that's the place to go. It's on Decatur Street. So I had my gin fizz fix, plus plenty of Abita beer, both the raspberry (Purple Haze) and the strawberry. We went to Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith, the oldest bar in the US, from 1773 or so, we can't remember at this hour of the night. (Travalon is helping me write this post.) Then we went to the Hard Rock Cafe and finally Preservation Hall for some real N'Awlins jazz. Now I really want to learn to play the trombone, besides the fact that then I could play the sackbut. So it was a great New Orleans day of food (I had jamabalaya, gumbo, catfish, shrimp, etouffe, and oysters), drink, and music!! I LOVE New Orleans!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brass for Your... Donkey

My blogging may be sporadic for the next week, while I am down in New Orleans with Travalon. As my longtime readers may remember, the entire reason I started a blog was because Banjo Player said I should when I was telling her all about my previous trip to the Big Easy, so that was the topic of my very second post. Now, 1031 posts and tens of dollars later, I am going back, so watch this space for possible updates during my sojourn and a complete recounting when I return.

For some reason Toque McToque and I got on the topic of smoking. I said I had never liked it much but found menthol cigarettes more pleasant; however, the other kids back in the day considered them wussy for some reason. She said, “They are more popular with the poor and minorities, maybe that’s why people poop-pooped them?” I said that typo fit too well with yesterday’s blog post subject, so I was going to have to blog about it.

Today Light Bright said, “I didn’t think I could control myself, but I can!” She was talking about getting stressed out and taking control of her emotions, but I said I was going to quote her out of context.  Then, on second thought, I decided to reveal the context after the quote so you could enjoy it more fully. We are listening to the New Orleans station, and I said, “A little brass for your-“ “Ass?” she filled in. I said, “I was going to say ‘For your listening pleasure,’ but yours is catchier.”

Famous Hat

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Musical Evening

Warning: the following post is not very dignified.

Today I was telling Toque McToque that there might be just enough time for me to eat dinner between voting and Date Night with Jesus, and she asked what I was going to eat. I said a bean burrito and broccoli, and she said that could make for a very musical evening at Adoration. She said she was envisioning a Monty Pythonesque scene, and I said I could write one for my blog post today, but setting it in the Adoration chapel seems too sacrilegious so let’s say this is at a campus library. There isn’t much action in this scene, just music, so imagine this in the key of G:



Grrrrr    pfft


And the grand finale:


(See, Toque? I can be the BUTT of my own joke!)

Famous Hat

Monday, February 18, 2013

Live Jazz in Madtown

Yesterday Travalon and I went to a bar on State Street called the Fountain, and they had a jazz jam going on. Several professionals were the anchor, and then people could sign up to participate. (I might have done so if I’d known about it and played a jazzier instrument than the mandolin and the fiddle.) Then after each song, a guy would critique the players, so that was kind of interesting. It was like we were sitting in on a jazz class. A word of warning: they do come around with a tip jar, but that’s a small price to pay to hear some fabulous live jazz. So if you are looking for live jazz in Madtown, the place to be is the Fountain on Sunday afternoons.

Famous Hat

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Lent Song

Just in time for Lent, I have written a song wishing everyone a happy Lent:

Here are the words:

It's time again for penitence,
Yes, Lent is finally here!
With ashes and with abstinence,
My favorite time of year.

So now the music's minor key,
On Fridays we eat fish.
Why can't it be like this all year?
Yes, that's my fondest wish.

A very happy Lent to you,
I hope your joy abounds.
May all your Lenten dreams come true,
Like losing twenty pounds.

Famous Hat

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spam Story

Hardingfele sent me some spam awhile back and said, "We should continue the story."

The knot beated and sat aloft like a peaceful contest dust had fray already from his concurrence to resolve his cider babble at tea, and was forever verbose, seeing that his residence was frowning and unattended.


Father passy seems to grant been the first to shudder, actually in telegram, that anyone else all flounce in evidence against ear, and that, without bearing to his selfish intervention, till then more sideways loiter to an diving under the conciliating charcoal of the elders lever.

While this is all very poetic, I'm not sensing any plot arc so I am unsure how to continue it. The runes in the middle don't add anything to the action, which so far has just been description. Just for Hardingfele, I will continue with some action:

And then the werewolf zombie ninjas jumped out of the oak tree, and he was forced to defend himself with only a paperclip and a kosher pickle. Blood spurted everywhere. When the dust cleared, he was the last man standing. THE END.

Famous Hat

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Travalon's Valentine

I told Travalon to watch this space for his valentine today, and here it is:

My heart belongs to Travalon, to Travalon so true,
And so I made this valentine to say that I love you.
Travalon's so good to me, he's just the best there is,
And he makes me laugh so much, he could be in show biz.
So when we're driving to a bar or singing to Steely Dan,
I'm always happy by his side 'cuz Travalon's my man!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Last night my office mate Light Bright and I met for margaritas at a local Mexican restaurant, and during the course of the conversation she asked how my rabbits were doing. I told her Charlie is really dragging lately, and that a woman from my OTHER choir just had to put down her rabbit, who was a few months younger than Charlie. She asked what his symptoms were and I said, “A stroke,” and she said, “They can have those?” I told her as a kid I had a guinea pig that got “numb on one side” (I meant paralyzed, but that’s what a good margarita can do to you) and she began to laugh really hard. “Paralyzed rodents!” she kept saying the rest of the evening, since her margarita hit her even harder than mine hit me. For a moment she appeared to grow serious and said, “Even though I have good girlfriends, there are things I can tell you that I can’t tell them,” and when I said, “Really?” she said, “Yeah, because it’s about them!” Today we were reminiscing about the paralyzed rodents, and she said, “Tequilaisms!”

Famous Hat

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Survived the Site Visit!

So we had our site visit today, which is what I’ve been preparing for like crazy for the last few months. The site visitor said our program was really good in some areas, and he only had a few questions that he wanted clarification on, so it seemed to go well. However, one of my coworkers pointed out that he is a psychologist (don’t ask) and so could be playing mind games with us. At least he seemed grateful for the refreshments we provided for him. The hard part is we won’t know anything official for seven months, but the vibes seemed good to me. Tonight after Date Night with Jesus, I am meeting Light Bright for a celebratory margarita!

Famous Hat 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Jamaica-Theme Birthday Party

Maybe you are wondering how Richard Bonomo’s birthday party went. Travalon brought plenty of reggae CDs to set the mood, and I made jerk chicken (using sauce from Jamerica) and a Black Magic chocolate cake decorated like the Jamaican flag. Catzooks was a huge help, making several dishes and potent rum punch and asking Rich questions that we turned into a “Rich trivia” game (which they tell me I won). Luxuli brought ice cream in the colors of the Jamaican flag (double chocolate, golden Oreo blast, and key lime) and Kathbert made a little display with golden cornbread, green peppers and black olives. One guest came in dreadlocks, and another one had visited Jamaica and had an entire “Jamaica box” with things like a full-sized flag. The easiest way to sum up the party is with this picture I drew:

Famous Hat

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Who is Bob Marley?" Month

The Ubiquitous Richard Bonomo’s birthday is coming up (on Mardi Gras this year!) and I was having trouble thinking of a theme. We had already done the obvious ones, like Lincoln, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Mardi Gras, and a luau (since he once lived in Hawaii). And of course we wanted to avoid Valentine’s Day as a birthday party theme. In desperation I asked Travalon if he had any ideas, and he had a fantastic one: Jamaica, since February is Bob Marley Month.  The theme was not a surprise, so we told Rich, and his email response to one of the people helping me organize the party was: “I am afraid the name ‘Bob Marley’ does not ring any bells for me…” She sent us all an email saying “So, then I thought we could say ‘February is national “Who is Bob Marley?” month.’” To which Kathbert replied, “Who is Bob Marley? And why does he have a month?” My response was to send her the link to the Wikipedia article on Bob Marley. When I told Light Bright about this, she said, “I thought Bob Marley was a household name!” Guess not in some households.

Famous Hat

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Greeting Card Laughs

Today Light Bright and I were both having crazy days, though interestingly we were also having fabulous hair days. (Her hair looked great because she had a gig right after work, and I can’t explain mine, except that it always looks best on days when I am not going to see Travalon. Stupid hair.) She said she had to take a break, then she returned and said, “I have something for you.” It was a card with what looked like a cat being electrocuted on the front, and then inside it says: “Things are about the same here – what’s new with you?” She got one for herself that has one nun asking another, “So what are you wearing tomorrow?” We needed that laugh today! I hope it gave you a laugh too.

By popular demand of Hardingfele, I am posting the card:

Famous Hat

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Need Any Box Tops?

Does anyone need any of those Box Tops for schools? I have seven of them that came off our new binders. The binders themselves were made in Mexico, and now they contain information about each of our trainees in preparation for our site visit next week. My blogging may be somewhat spotty until then, since I am too fried to think of anything clever to blog about, plus I’m trying to help organize a birthday party for Richard Bonomo this coming weekend. Speaking of Rich, Banjo Player says I should change his name on this blog to The Ubiquitous Richard Bonomo, because she sees him everywhere. Does he see her too? We’ll just have to see if he tells us in the comments.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My To Do List

Sorry, my brain is mush today. Here is why:

Famous Hat’s To Do List:
  • ·         Find missing evaluations
  • ·         Print name for each binder
  • ·         Add QI info to binders
  • ·         Print table of contents for each binder
  • ·         Print a cover sheet for each evaluation
  • ·         Label each evaluation
  • ·         Print rotation grids and put them in binders

I actually did get this all done today, and now I can think of nothing to blog about so I’m just posting this.

Famous Hat

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Gig and a Game

Once again I have been so busy at work that I didn’t even get a lunch break. I have a few moments now and will try to write this post quickly. Saturday my band had a gig at a wedding; fortunately, the reception we played at was inside, but the ceremony itself had been outside. Brr! The bride and groom made all the food for the reception themselves, including the cake, and this was not a particularly small wedding. We had a good time playing in our new band T-shirts, which really cut into our pay. They looked very nice. When I got home, I accidentally dropped my purse on the floor and the strap went over Cashmere’s head. She started to panic, and I had visions of my rabbit strangling herself, but then I said, “Wait,” and she calmed down and let me pull it over her head. Maybe she is learning to trust me after all. She has also started eating carrots, the only plant matter other than banana (and houseplants) that I have ever seen her eat.

Yesterday Travalon and I spent some time hanging out at the Memorial Union, which brought back a lot of memories for me. The students look so young, but lots of non-student types hang out there too, so we didn’t really stand out. The Ratskellar has a giant screen TV, so we watched some of the basketball game there. Then we went to Richard Bonomo’s house to watch the Super Bowl with Luxuli’s husband and Cecil Markovitch; plenty of other people were there, but some, like Kathbert, watched none of the game at all, and others, like Mr. Icon, would watch a little here and there. I enjoyed the halftime show with Beyoncé and was rather puzzled by the loss of power in the dome. When it came back on, San Francisco came roaring back to live, but ultimately they lost to Baltimore, a situation Light Bright bemoaned today. She is a lifelong Niners fan.

Famous Hat