Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day on Willy Street

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. Saturday Travalon and I had lunch at Pasqual’s and then went to Macha Tea House, then he went fishing while my band played at a wedding. It was surprisingly cold out, and we had to play outside, so by the end our fingers were nearly frozen. Still, it was fun to play out, and of course we got paid too. Then Travalon and I had dinner at Captain Bill’s and took a long walk along the street that goes along the lake. I always love passing the little boating cottages right by Captain Bill’s, but I was disappointed to learn they are only open from May to November, so if I ever could afford to buy one, I could not live there permanently.

Sunday Travalon brought his dog Rodney to town with him, and we went to the Capital Brewery beer garden, but it was still cold out and somewhat rainy. We took Rodney for a long walk in Richard Bonomo’s neighborhood, then we gathered for dinner with Rich, Kathbert, Catzookz, Luxuli, and her husband, and Catzookz’s guy joined us later. Rodney was very well-behaved and everyone thought he was delightful. Travalon said Rodney slept well that night!

Yesterday I was supposed to donate platelets for the first time ever, but I had recently donated blood and my iron levels were still too low, so I went to Brat Fest instead. Then Rich, Catzookz, her guy, their friend, and I went to the new Star Trek movie in 3D. Travalon and I met up on Willy Street and went to Jamerica for dinner, then we walked to the start of Willy Street to go to the Up North Bar, where a drunk guy was randomly calling people. We went to the Essen Haus, where the owner was in the process of throwing out a drunk guy who kept insisting all his worldly possessions were still in the bar, and we enjoyed a band that played Grateful Dead covers. While walking back down Willy Street, we saw the really drunk guy, now shirtless, telling a cop that the only thing he had on him was a key chain. We stopped into a Greek restaurant for some caramel tres leche cake, and Travalon said I would have to blog about all the crazy people we had seen that evening. I also took a picture of the neon sign outside of the Essen Haus that says: “Immediate Seatnig” and Jamerica where they had a sign that said “Open” and another that said “Closed” and will hopefully post them soon.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 24, 2013

A New Beginning

So today I gave my two weeks’ notice. It’s a scary moment, especially since my new job pays less, but I will finally be working in publishing. Yay! Of course, it is as a bookkeeper, but you have to start somewhere. I am still waiting to hear if they are willing to negotiate my salary upward a little to minimize the pain. I will be right next to Macha Tea House, so that’s another perk of this job. The bus does not go straight there, so I will have to transfer or walk quite a few blocks, although if the weather is nice I can always bike. This job will be totally different than what I do now (babysit doctors). New beginnings are scary, but they are exciting too.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

Yesterday I had a most surreal experience. I was reading one of those brain candy magazines about celebrities and had just spent the better part of an hour looking at pictures of perfect people when I went to brush my teeth. To my surprise, the image I saw in the mirror seemed more beautiful than all those pictures I had just looked at. I would have thought after all that perfection, my own imperfection would have been glaring, but maybe seeing a real person was refreshing. And since I don’t usually like what I see in the mirror, it seemed particularly noteworthy that my reflection would look so good right after I had seen all those flawless faces.  Maybe what is different is what seems most beautiful.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lovely Discovery

When Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Luxuli, her husband, and I went to the Arboretum on Friday evening, we discovered this cross on top of a blooming crabapple tree. Just another reminder that God is everywhere.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lovely May

I love May. Friday night I went with Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Luxuli, and her husband to the Arboretum to check out all the blooming crabapples and lilacs. Saturday the weather was beautiful so Travalon and I walked around Mineral Point for a bit, though we discovered it was too far to walk to the old brewery on our list, then we hiked at Governor Dodge state park, then we went to Stoughton for Syttende Mai, and we ended the evening at a bonfire with Jilly Moose and some other singles. It was such a gorgeous day. 

Yesterday Travalon and I went down to the Union Terrace and were going to take a walk by the lake, but the boat warning went off three times, and then the sky to the south turned black, so we hurried back to the car. A huge wind blew dust into our faces, but we just beat the rain and hail. It was a very short-lived storm, and the sun was soon shining again. Then the one B-Boy and Mo-Girl hosted a birthday party for Cecil Markovitch, and Travalon brought Croatian plum and pear brandy since he and Cecil share Croatian heritage. The pear brandy was sweet and delicious, but the plum brandy tasted like paint thinner, or at least the way paint thinner smells since I have never personally tasted it. The B-Boy grilled steaks – yum! The evening was so beautiful that Travalon and I took a short walk after leaving the party. Today looks to be just as beautiful – I will find out soon.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 17, 2013

Online Reviews of... Everything

In case you missed it, there is a very entertaining story making the rounds on the Internet about a couple in Arizona who had an online meltdown because of bad reviews of their restaurant. I won’t get into the details, but you can read any of these stories. It did get me thinking about online reviews. Once I bought a kind of expensive rosary, and my friends were laughing when I talked about checking the reviews first. (They said it was beautiful and well made, but the beads were kind of small.) Then today Luxuli sent me a link to reviews of an app for iPhones that makes farting sounds. It’s bizarre enough that this app exists, but really, people are taking the time to review it. That’s what makes the internet great.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Twin Tulip Blossoms

Here is something very cool: the tulip growing by the side of Richard Bonomo's house has two flowers on a single stalk! Check it out.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Fountain's Cast of Characters

Last night Travalon and I went to the Arboretum. This spring things are running behind schedule, and the lilacs and crabapples that usually bloom for Mother’s Day are covered with buds, but the magnolias are still in bloom, so it was lovely anyway. We hiked out on the wetlands boardwalk and enjoyed the sights and sounds of nature. Then we went to the Fountain, which we had never been to on a Monday night. They were hosting an open mic night, and we were amused by the interesting characters who came for it. Travalon spotted Charles Manson’s lookalike by the bar and Sinead O’Connor’s wandering around, as well as the twin of the bassist for Yes. A man who didn’t look like anyone famous but was noticeable for being covered with tattoos asked me if we were planning to leave when Travalon went to get some cash, and when I said no, he said, “Just making conversation.” I asked if he wanted our table, and he said of course he was going to take it as soon as we left. However, he wandered off before we actually did leave, so someone else got our table. The music was all over the place too, from folk to metal to some guy singing along to a tape. Too bad it’s on Monday nights – it would be fascinating to watch more of the Fountain Open Mic Night!

Famous Hat 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Beer Week

Were you aware that last week was Craft Beer Week here in Madtown? I found out toward the end of the week, so on Friday night after a fish fry at Crandall’s, Travalon and I went to the Malt House for their Beer Week special: low prices on dark beers! I had a dark chocolate stout from Belgium, and I also tried a Belgian raspberry beer. Yum! We also went to One Barrel Brewing Company, Madtown’s only nanobrewery, which had a Sweet Mullets Tap Takeover for the day. We tried OBBC’s flagship brew, the Commuter Kolsch, as well as Sweet Mullet’s sour beer Toil ‘n’ Trouble, which was amazing. Of course, everything they brew is amazing.

Saturday I worked in Rich’s garden along with his next-door neighbor, and I mowed down a bunch of blooming dandelions before they could become fuzzballs and spread the joy. It was mostly a beautiful day, but random little rain showers and even a shower of tiny hail would come out of nowhere as the sun was shining. Rich has a tulip blooming which has two flowers on one stalk, which I have never seen before. I will try to take a picture of it to post here. Meanwhile, Rich and Kathbert were running a futile errand to find struts for Rich’s car, then he made dinner for the four of us.

Yesterday I drove to Travalon’s place and we went to see his mother for Mother’s Day. I brought her a pink gerbera daisy to celebrate the holiday, and Travalon’s sister-in-law had brought her a yellow calla lily, so her garden will be very colorful this summer. The three of us took a drive to Bayview, then Travalon and I went for a walk by the lakefront, and then we went to an English pub in Shorewood called Three Lions. We ordered a giant pretzel, which was HUGE (it came in a pizza box), and I had the pie sampler while Travalon had the curry chicken and chips – both were delicious. I had a Speckled Hen beer and a wonderful ginger beer too. I highly recommend this pub if you are an Anglophile, or even if you just like good food and drink. They even have Abita Pecan beer, but they were out last night, so I didn’t get to try it. Oh well, it’s an excuse to go back… and Indulgence Chocolatiers are not even a block away! They were closed last night, so now we have multiple excuses to return.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 10, 2013

Like Going Back in Time

Last night I had a very unusual experience – it was almost like meeting myself fifteen years ago. After choir practice I got into a conversation with a girl who is trying to decide what to do with her life, though unfortunately it was in an underground garage so there was a lot of background noise. She had a very soft voice and I didn’t even catch half of what she said as she poured her heart out to me, so her secrets are safe with me! From what I did hear, we are so alike it is eerie. From our family backgrounds to our college careers to our luck with men, she followed a trajectory similar to mine. I will have to meet with her again for conversation where we can actually sit instead of standing on concrete, and where we can hear each other talk, perhaps over warm or alcoholic beverages. I always wondered if I would hate myself all those years ago, but I really like this girl, so maybe not. 

Famous Hat 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Elevator Ups and Downs

Elevators are tricky things. Today I almost got on one going up until Light Bright asked at the last moment, “Are you going up, Hat?” A little later we were on the third floor and I had to go to the sixth floor while she had to go to the ninth, so she hit the elevator button. To my surprise, she hit both the up and the down buttons and asked, “Which one do you think will come first?” I replied, “Down, but neither of us is going that way.” So we joked about how when the elevator full of people going down stopped on Three and we just stood there, I was going to point at her so they would all know it was her fault. Sure enough, the elevator was going down… but nobody was on it, so we were saved that humiliation. It sat there for a moment, then the up light went on, so we got on it. I said, “I was right, down came first, but up came pretty quickly after that!”

Famous Hat

Monday, May 6, 2013

Back to the Book

Travalon and I are back to visiting the historic taverns from Bottoms Up. Saturday we drove up to Oshkosh, stopping in Fond du Lac to enjoy Lakeside Park, since the weather was beautiful. We stopped into Chasers in Oshkosh as soon as it opened; it was one of the less ornate bars we’ve seen from the book, but I did enjoy trying Kinky liqueur there, plus we had two-for-one shots of Goldschlagger. Then we drove to Berlin and went to The Rendezvous, which is right next to a Mexican restaurant. The restaurant had hired a band to play outside for Cinco de Mayo, and people in The Rendezvous had colorful sombreros on, so it was a real party atmosphere. I played bar dice with the bartender and won, although I didn’t really understand the rules, so she gave me a free beer. We stopped for dinner in Beaver Dam, which was a shame because it turns out that Heine’s in Minnesota Junction has really good pizza. (We got one to go and enjoyed it the next day.) I had an amazing drink there that tasted just like pumpkin pie. This bar used to be called Alice King’s Inn, and it was really beautiful inside. There was a mirror etched with a nude lady that actually used to be a door to the upstairs back in the day, when Alice King ran a house of prostitution. One of the current owners told me he once met an old man who had known Alice King, and she used to pay off the sheriff during Prohibition and then later when the booze was legal but the prostitution wasn’t. I would highly recommend visiting this historic bar, and try their pizza while you are at it. It isn’t easy to find; it looks like a house from the front, and there is just a little sign that says “Heine’s.” But you could ask anyone in town where it it.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 3, 2013

Enjoy It While It Lasts

Today I told Toque McToque about how I wrote a thank you note and used the word “enjoy” more than once. She said, “To enjoy enjoyable things gives me much enjoyment.” I told her I enjoyed that, and she said, “I think I have stopped enjoying.” I agreed that it quickly got old, and she said, “It was good while it lasted, mostly because it did not last long.” I said, “It made a lasting impression on me,” and she said, “Nothing lasts forever,” so I said, “At last we’ve seen this truth.” She said this was making her brain cells hurt, so I changed the topic to my perennial question: What should I blog about today? And then it occurred to me – this conversation!

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Have Amaryllis, Did Travel

Ma Hat once gave me two baby amaryllis plants that grew off her big one, and during the summers I left them outside in Richard Bonomo’s garden. In the winter I brought them in to bask in the southern exposure glory of his atrium area, and one of them produced a bud recently. I decided to bring it to work to bloom, since leaving it at Rich’s house would be a waste – he’s too busy to look at plants – and I’m rarely at my own place enough to enjoy it there. The problem was that the weather was cold until the bud was so large and unwieldy that I was terrified it would fall off as I slowly drove the plant home. Of course I had forgotten my office key, so I had to bring the amaryllis on the bus the next morning. It survived all this abuse and is now blooming happily in my office. Here is a photo:

And here is a view of it with the sun star plant behind it:

These shots were taken on my cell phone. I will have some better ones from my actual camera once I upload those photos.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Admiration on the Elevator

This is a true story that happened to my office mate Light Bright yesterday. She was riding the artsy elevator, and two men subsequently boarded it, when they stopped on a floor where two women were peering into the elevator. One of the men held the door open for them, but they said, “Oh, we’re just admiring.” The two men loved hearing that. One said he was going to tell his wife that he was admired at work today. Then the women said, “No, we meant the picture,” meaning the large backlit flowers on the back of the elevator. Then the men were completely embarrassed, and Light Bright was trying very hard not to laugh. I said that was a great story, and I was going to have to blog about it, so I just did.

Famous Hat