Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't Laugh at Birds

Yesterday Travalon and I went to see Schindler's List, which is right up there with Who Killed the Electric Car? for making you question your faith in humanity, the difference being that there was a decent person in Schindler. We had dinner at Kabul's on State Street and sat outside, enjoying the beautiful evening. I was amused by the little sparrows stuffing themselves with saffron rice left behind by restaurant patrons, and I really laughed at one that was gobbling the rice down as fast as he could. Do you suppose it was just a coincidence that, after I had laughed at the birds, one pooped right on my arm?? I think they remember their ancestors used to be huge, fierce dinosaurs, but now they are just little creatures begging for rice, so when I dared to laugh at them, they took revenge the only way they could.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 24, 2013

Midsommar Fest

Friday night Travalon and I had baked haddock at Crandall’s again, then we carpooled with Richard Bonomo out to the American Players Theater to see Hamlet. Lightning kept flashing in the distance, but the rain didn’t hit us until we drove back into Dane County – then it hit us seemingly the moment we crossed the border. Saturday morning Travalon and I went out for coffee and then hit the Downtown Farmers’ Market. He bought veggies, and when I said how cool a shrimp plant was, he bought that for me too, for our 10-month anniversary. Ten wonderful months!

Saturday afternoon I rode with Hardingfele and her family to Elgin, IL for the Midsommar Festival in Vasa Park. Our band played Scandinavian music for an hour, then Hardingfele’s husband played ABBA songs on the guitar. Hardingfele’s daughter Rockstar Tailor (who probably doesn’t want to go by that name anymore) got an American flag painted on her face, so when there were no kids at the face painting booth, I asked if I could get my face painted. Instead, the lady painted a mandolin on my arm, as shown on my previous post. The crowd was small (probably because of the Blackhawks game) but enthusiastic. We played again for the bonfire and toast with aquavit. Skål! There was a beautiful full moon which was a supermoon, meaning it was closer to the earth than usual so it appeared larger. I rode home with my other bandmates, and we had some adventures driving into oncoming traffic (luckily none was coming at us) and turning the wrong direction down a road, plus there was road construction so we had to go more slowly than usual. I got home very late and overslept the next morning, so I had to go to evening Mass. Oh well, it was a lot of fun and we even got paid.

Famous Hat

Sunday, June 23, 2013

More Photos

Here are some photos I just uploaded from my camera. It had been awhile, so they are rather random. First is a shot of the town of Galena taken from the hill where Grant's house is located.

Next are some cool clouds I saw while leaving work one day when I happened to have my camera on me:

Here are some shots of spring flowers in Richard Bonomo's garden, hyacinths and a squill.

Speaking of flowers, here is the art in the elevator where I used to work:

Here are the amaryllis and the orange starflower blooming in my old office:

Here are an aloe and a palm tree blooming at my house, and part of Plant World on my balcony:

Here are two restaurant signs I found amusing. This one is outside of the Essen Haus:

If you look closely at this picture of Jamerica, one sign in the window says "open" and another sign on the door says "closed."

Here is the lighthouse in Fond du Lac:

Here are a couple of shots of Charlie the Rabbit's birthday party, one of his cake and the other of him enjoying his present from Luxuli.

(In case you can't tell what it is, it's a toilet paper tube wrapped in birthday wrapping paper and stuffed with hay.)

Here is the lovely purple bouquet a coworker gave me on my last day at my old job, with my Famous Hat in the background:

And finally, here is the arm painting of a mandolin I got yesterday at a Scandinavian festival my band played at. I will blog more about the festival tomorrow.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Double Calla Lily Bloom

I just noticed yesterday that one of the blooms on my calla lily is a double one - it's one inside of another one. Here are two pictures of it from different angles so you can see what I mean.

Isn't that cool? It's right up there with Richard Bonomo's twin tulip.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Toilet Candy

Today Toque McToque sent me this video of Japanese toilet candy, which would be the perfect gift for Richard Bonomo. To my surprise, there is a lot of toilet candy for sale on the internet, but it took some hunting to find the exact toilet candy featured in the video. On the candy company’s website I discovered other fun things they had, like a mini donut kit. However, when I told Toque about this, my email did not like the word “donut” and only recognized the word “doughnut.” Which makes sense, it is a nut made of dough, not a nut made of do. Or even doo, which would be much grosser but more appropriate for the original topic of this post, which was toilet candy, after all. Too bad this candy company doesn’t sell a doonut kit to fill your candy toilet!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Office

I am slowly making my new office my own. Trader Joe's is a block away, so yesterday I ran over there and picked up some things, including this lovely dark purple calla lily:

It's just not a Famous Hat place without a plant! I should bring in my little cow planter from my last job.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wisconsin Beer Fest

What a beautiful weekend. Friday night Travalon and I went to Macha Tea House for macha lattes, then we went to Crandall’s for their baked haddock, and then we went to hear a Hungarian folk group at the Brink Lounge. They had a violinist, two violists, a bassist, and a guy playing a thing that looked like a hammer dulcimer. There were also two dancers in the traditional costumes of various regions of Hungary. It was a very fun show, and I saw some people there I knew from various musical circles.

Saturday morning my band had a gig at the Famer’s Market, right in front of the Capitol. Then I drove with my mandolin to Travalon’s house, and then we went to his mother’s house and ate lunch on the back terrace amid the blooming roses. I played the mandolin for them, and Travalon’s mother sang along. Then Travalon and I went to a Beer Fest in Milwaukee, with a bunch of different Wisconsin breweries represented. (Plenty from Madison!) It was all the beer you could sample and all the food from different restaurants, like Andouille sausage sliders and mini burgers and all sorts of cheese. They gave us each a small glass for sampling, and whenever anyone broke a glass by accident, everyone said, “Ohhhh!!” with great disappointment. There was an oompah band playing, and lots of people had homemade necklaces of pretzels on string, so it felt like Germanfest all over again.

Yesterday Ma and Pa Hat came through town on their way back from Ma Hat’s college reunion, so I met them for lunch at a Mexican restaurant near Richard Bonomo’s house. Rich, Luxuli, and her husband came along as well.  My parents mostly behaved, but they did tell one strange story about how I was furious with them for dropping me off at college. I don’t remember behaving as badly as they claim, although I was mad that they were so gleeful to get rid of me. Parents – can’t live with them, and isn’t the weather beautiful?

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sunglasses Adventure

Yesterday I forgot my Famous Hat and sunglasses in Travalon's car, so this morning when I went to grab them, they were gone. I had been planning to take the bus to work, or at least take the first bus and then walk from the closest stop, since I wasn't sure of the schedule of the bus that goes down the street where I now work. (An excellent bonus of working on Monroe Street: you get 10% off at restaurants on the street.) I had already driven and biked to see how long those options take and was curious about the bus option, which was the one I used most often when heading to my former job. I didn't want to walk all the way down Monroe Street without my Famous Hat and sunglasses, so what I ended up doing was taking my bike on the bus and then biking down Monroe Street to minimize my time out in the bright sun. That is actually an excellent option, and I may be utilizing it often. However, I still need to get home using some combination of biking and riding the bus, so I went in search of sunglasses. Why not have a backup pair, right? (I do have a pair in my car, but since I park under a different building than the one I live in, it would have taken too long to get those this morning.) The first place I went to seemed promising, but they only had $50 sunglasses. The man assured me that these sunglasses would cost $100 in a department store. Knowing how frequently I lose or break sunglasses, I was more in the market for a cheap pair, and luckily further down Monroe Street there is a pharmacy that had just what I was looking for. So now I can ride home knowing my eyeballs will not be scorched by the sun's rays.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Email Oops

So here’s what I meant to do: select all the emails in my Sent folder and delete them. Here’s what I did instead: select all the emails in my Inbox and delete them. Then I immediately emptied the trash before realizing my mistake, so there’s no getting those messages back. OOPS!! Hopefully there was nothing too important in my inbox. I have a funny feeling a lot of it was not important, and everything I can think of was actually saved in another folder for posterity, so maybe it really was all a bunch of junk. Light Bright has come to my house a couple of times to help me get rid of paper mail, and I seem to have the same problem with email, so this was the electronic equivalent of taking all my mail and burning it. Anyway, if you were expecting a reply from me about something and don’t get it, this may be the reason.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Job

It's hard to say how my new job is going to go. You know how it is at the start: everything seems overwhelming. Also, the person who is going to train me was out today, so other people were showing me things. I did enjoy running across the street for a lunch of steamed mussels - beats eating lunch at the cafeteria! I am most intrigued by an article published in one of the Press's journals. It uses the word "epistemology" constantly and discusses how "hued" and "hewed" sound the same. The piece of literature being critiqued is an 80-page poem that seems to exist solely for the purpose of being analyzed. Silly me, I thought poetry was supposed to be language that sounded beautiful. Of course it should have deeper meaning as well, but I always took issue with those poems that had to have footnotes every other word just to explain all the allusions. Maybe I am not truly a poet at heart but a lyricist; I want to say what I mean in the most beautiful language possible, not make obscure references.

Famous Hat

Friday, June 7, 2013

Last Day on the Job

This is it – my last day at this job! I have been here five years, since before I started this blog, so it’s going to feel very strange going somewhere else on Monday morning. I will miss my office mate Light Bright, my window, the coffee place here, and some of the people I work with. People have been giving me things all day: a beautiful bouquet (see photo below), rhubarb crisp, gift certificates for a bookstore and a clothing store. It finally seems real that I am leaving. My new job is in publishing, and I get my own FREE parking space – everyone here is so jealous! It will be so tempting to drive every day, but I will try to bike and/or bus it whenever possible. (Now my bus trip involves a transfer.) Most significant for you, my readers, is that I do not know how often I will get a chance to blog now, since I may be very busy. I will try to check in at least once a week.

Here is the lovely purple bouquet a coworker brought me from her garden. It smells as wonderful as it looks!

Light Bright will be OK, she has a student hourly to help her out until they hire my replacement.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Farewell Loot

At least a couple of people are sorry to see me go. Someone gave me wooden roses as a going away present.

And someone else gave me live plants. They know me too well here!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Short Story: She Put Down the Book

A story for you today:

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.  It hadn’t been a very good book, she reflected as she walked out into the sunlight.  Romances put her in an odd mood, since she had always been so unlucky in love in her own life.  Why did she want to read about someone else’s good fortune in love, no matter how different her circumstances?
Because she was so lost in her gloomy thoughts, she almost tripped over the rabbit sitting on the sidewalk.  At the last minute she realized there was a foreign object in her path and adroitly sidestepped it.  Then she looked down in surprise.  Why was the rabbit not moving?  She would have expected it to flee long before she got close enough to nearly step on it.  She bent down to examine it, but it did not appear to be injured.  It hopped forward slowly, stopped, and looked back at her.  It repeated this maneuver several times, and she had the impression it wanted her to follow it.  Curious, she indicated her willingness to follow, and the rabbit took off in the direction of the railroad tracks with her in hot pursuit.  She enjoyed running after the rabbit, as if she were playing a game of tag, but the creature was in deadly earnest. 
It led her to where another rabbit was curled up in a ball of pain in the shadows of a honeysuckle bush, and she saw one of its back legs was caught in a trap. Who would have done such a thing, she wondered angrily as she worked to free the trapped rabbit.  Its mate stood beside her, watching avidly as she pried the jaws of the trap open.  Once the rabbit was freed, she inspected its wounded leg, took some salve out of her pocket, and liberally applied it to the wound.  The rabbit stood tentatively on its sore leg, then it kissed her hand gratefully and hopped off into the woods, and its mate did the same.  She continued on her way, pondering the book she had read and the scene she had just witnessed.  Strange to think that humans could write such tender words about romance and then invent such terrible ways to torture their fellow creatures. 
It was a gorgeous early summer day.  The birds were singing in the trees, and she pulled out a camera and took photos of the birds, the trees, and the wildflowers growing along her path.  She recorded the birdsong and marveled at the variety of life in the forest.  She found a shady tree to sit beneath and pulled a journal and writing implement from her pocket.  The book had been a diversion and not part of her original mission, but she supposed she should mention it.  Her boss wanted to know about these humans, and she had certainly gleaned some information about them from their primitive literature.  She wrote about the humans’ house, the book she had read, and her observations about the rabbits.  Then she wrote her conclusion:
“While there are life forms on this planet capable of advanced communication, they do not seem to have much respect for the other life forms around them.  I therefore respectfully submit my recommendation that we do not pursue contact with them.”  She closed the journal and sighed; off to another planet.  Well, it beat a desk job.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bunny Birthday Bash

Sorry for my long silence. I have been very busy preparing to leave my current position.

Friday night Travalon and I went to Captain Bill’s, and we ended up getting our appetizers, drinks, and dessert for free! We also went to Le Tigre Lounge, where the bartender told us all about how this has been a great year for morel mushrooms. He has two chickens named Axl and Slash who lay a lot of eggs, so he has been having plenty of morel omelets. Saturday Travalon and I went to Scottish Fest, where I had a haggis pasty and a Scottish candy bar, which was basically sugar and butter. Sugar overload! We watched pipe and drum bands, and I was excited to find Clan Hat represented there. Our goal: stay at the Hat Family Castle! Then we went to an Irish Pub called The Pub for dinner.

Saturday Charlie my boy rabbit turned nine, so Sunday afternoon I had a little party for him with carrot cake and carrot juice. (Yes, he got to eat some carrot cake.) Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and her husband came, while Catzookz was hiking, Travalon was working, and A-Joz the Bunny Sitter was busy. Charlie loved being the center of attention and ran around to everyone asking for snuggles, but Cashmere was more antisocial after an unfortunate incident earlier that afternoon when Hardingfele and I were cutting her nails, and I accidentally pulled one out. I had no bunny games planned, but the topic of bad church music came up, so that led to a dramatic reading of my story “Polyhymnia.” Travalon texted that I should pet the birthday bunny for him, and later he texted to ask how “Bunny Bash 2013” had gone. I’d say it was a success!

Famous Hat