Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Greek Fest 2013

Saturday Travalon and I went hiking at New Glarus Woods State Park with Richard Bonomo and Kathbert and, of course, Travalon’s loyal poodle Rodney. Rich had to be somewhere, so he and Kathbert took a shortcut, but Travalon and I hiked the whole path, which was over four miles long. Rodney was tired afterwards, but he wasn’t smiling like after our hike at Devil’s Lake. Then Travalon and I met Cecil Markovitch, one of the B-Boys, and Trinidad Cap at Greek Fest. Usually there is a band playing and lots of people dancing, but the weather was so cold, and then it began to rain, that everyone was either inside or under the tent set up for diners. We all tried the Greek sampler, and Travalon bought an order of deep-fried dough bits in honey for us all to share. Then we went down into the Greek Orthodox Church’s basement, where parishioners were selling all sorts of baked goods. We had Greek coffee (just like Turkish coffee) and some baklava and stuff… and then they gave us another order of the deep-fried dough bits in honey – for free! Cecil said maybe if we waited around long enough, they would give us leftover meat from the Greek samplers, but that didn’t happen. Too bad we didn’t get to dance at Greek Fest this year, but it was a good time anyway.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Steely Dan

Sunday afternoon I headed Travalon’s way, and we thought about going to German Fest but instead went to the Horny Goat Brewery, where we enjoyed watermelon beer and good food by the lake. It was a wonderful time except for the lame singer/songwriter performing there. If there had been a steel drum band playing, and the weather were just a bit warmer (59 in July?!?!), then it would have been utterly perfect.

In the evening we went to the Riverside Theater to see Steely Dan, who were amazing. First a jazz trio opened up for them, then the horn section (the “Bipolar All-Stars”) came on stage and jammed for a few minutes before Donald Fagan and Walter Becker and the rest of the band appeared, including three backup singers called the “Borderline Brats.” They performed a bunch of hits and a couple of songs I didn’t know, but they were all great songs. It made me realize that all Steely Dan songs sound the same: awesome! They played for a couple of hours, then they finished without performing my very favorite song of theirs, “Kid Charlemagne.” We applauded them for several minutes, and then they finally came back out and did my song. My boss said I could sleep in yesterday, then everyone wanted to hear about the concert. Apparently I work with a lot of Steely Dan fans. Why not? They’re a great band!

Famous Hat

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Ancestry Surprise

I know that usually on Mondays I blog about my weekend – and I had a really great one – but this news is too exciting not to share. A few weeks ago Richard Bonomo bought me one of those DNA analysis kits to answer the question of whether I have some Jewish ancestry. (Don’t ask me why I’ve always felt part Jewish, but somehow I’d gotten this idea into my head.) There was a mystery in my family with my maternal grandmother, who was very dark even though her parents were both blond and blue-eyed. I thought that must be where the Jewish blood had crept in, but today my analysis came back, and guess what? I am Irish, English, and some German, exactly as my parents had always said. (Some Danish too, which seems kind of random but could just be the Jutes coming over to England.) However, there was a wonderful surprise: six generations ago, I had a sub-Saharan African ancestor! Yes, I am 1% black. Too bad I’m completely unable to tan… And the bad news is, I don’t have any Jewish ancestry. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Famous Hat

Friday, July 26, 2013

Restaurant Week and St. Jude Novena

Last night I met Jilly Moose and OK Cap for dinner at Pasqual’s, a Mexican restaurant that was participating in Restaurant Week. They had a special menu for Restaurant Week with the hefty price tag of $30 per dinner, but the waitress told us they had lowered it to $15 because so few people were interested. I thought that didn’t sound too bad for an appetizer, main course, and dessert, so I tried it. The appetizer was gazpacho, a cold tomato soup that was like eating runny salsa without chips – delicious, but weird. The main course was an incredible thing called Shrimp Diablo, and the dessert was a chocolate cake with mole sauce. Mmm!

Then Jilly Moose and I went to Blessed Sacrament for the eighth night of the St. Jude novena. We attended Mass, prayed the rosary, and then got a chance to touch a relic of St. Jude. (No idea what class of relic it was. It was very small and seemed to be a piece of fabric.) St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes, so maybe I should ask him for help with my writing career. Though I am 75% of the way to getting paid again for blogging, so my career as a professional writer isn’t completely dead. It's merely resting.

Famous Hat

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ice Cream Power Walk

Today I went with some coworkers for a walk to get some ice cream. I was picturing a leisurely stroll there, then a leisurely stroll back as we enjoyed our ice cream cones. However, we walked at a breakneck speed, devoured our ice cream there, and walked back to work even faster, if that was possible. I thought I was totally out of shape until another coworker agreed that our pace had been much faster than she'd been expecting. On the plus side, that should help offset the calories from the ice cream, but now I feel all sweaty and stinky. Perhaps I need to take more walks with these particular coworkers! A few walks like that every week, without the ice cream, could do wonders for getting me in shape for the wedding.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

At the Mall

I am probably not supposed to comment on the ads on my blog, but sometimes they really catch my attention, like the one I see today for what is basically a swimming treadmill. The idea is good in theory, but I can imagine how slowly I’d have to set the thing to be able to use it. Besides, while the weather is warm, I am enjoying swimming outside. Yesterday I swam at an allowed hour, and someone else joined me briefly, swimming two laps for every one of mine, but he soon stopped. Wonder if he got tired going at that breakneck pace, or if he only needed to do a few laps to get the same benefit as I get from swimming for 45 minutes?

Monday night Travalon and I reserved the hall for our wedding reception, then we wanted to take a walk after dinner but a storm had blown up, so we walked at the mall. I hadn’t been to a mall in years, and we noted that it was mostly stores selling clothes for teenage girls. We did run into Cecil Markovitch and one of the B-Boys, and we stopped into the store where Jilly Moose works some evenings and talked to her. The store was already displaying tons of Christmas ornaments and all kinds of Halloween decorations. What the hey? It’s July! Time to celebrate swimming outside, not pumpkins and snow.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Senile Rabbit

Charlie is really getting to be an old rabbit. I’m convinced that he is totally deaf: during that crazy storm last night with all the thunder and lightning, Cashmere was huddled in terror but Charlie was completely indifferent. He is so old that he can’t tell the difference between a treat and my foot anymore – I am expecting him to bite off my toe any day now. He no longer knows or cares about the difference between the carpet and the litter box. Sometimes he gets so confused that he just turns in circles. If Charlie could talk, I’ll bet he would be telling the same story over and over, and he’d probably call me by the wrong name all the time. He always seems happy to see me, but I’m not completely sure that he knows who I am (the big creature who gives out treats). I am just… someone, and that’s good enough for Charlie the Senile Bunny.

Famous Hat

Monday, July 22, 2013

Maxwell Street Days and Renaissance Faire

How was everyone’s weekend? Friday Travalon and I went to Old Sugar Distillery, then we went to Jamerica for dinner, then we stopped into the Harmony Bar (which has delicious-looking pizza but we had already eaten), and we ended the evening by going to see local band Oudist Colony at Bandung’s Nutty Bar. I used to be in a group with several of these people, and last I knew the singer and oud player were involved with other people, but he (oudist) proposed to her (singer) right at the end of the show. I’m not sure any of them recognized me, and I was too distracted by the whole drama to notice my coworker’s daughter’s paintings on display.

Saturday I met several people for coffee, then Jilly Moose and I hit Maxwell Street Days, where I picked up some more aloha shirts, and then we prayed the rosary. We figure, even if there are only two Rosary Ladies present, it is still a Rosary Ladies event. Catzooks and her guy brought dessert over to Rich’s that evening, and Kathbert, Luxuli and her husband, my OTHER choir director, Rich’s next door neighbor, and Jilly Moose were all there to enjoy Belgian waffles with strawberries and blueberries, as well as less healthy options like frosted cookies.

Sunday I had to get up early to drive to Mamastep’s house, then we picked up Travalon and met Tiffy at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Lots of imaginative costumes – it was Steampunk Weekend so there were plenty of interesting takes on Victorian fashion as well as Renaissance looks – and Travalon pointed out a guy who looked just like Elton John, only decades younger. He also saw a guy who looked like Gene Simmons. We watched jousting and belly dancing, and Travalon tried his hand at throwing tomatoes at the insult guy and smashing plates with a softball. He won a plastic dragonfly for me; he was trying for the stuffed unicorn, but you had to smash four plates for that. Then he and I had our caricatures drawn. Mine made me realize just how much weight I need to lose! I will try to somehow post it. Mamastep was searching for a very particular bodice, but she was unsuccessful in her quest and said she will just have to make it herself. Wish I were that handy with a sewing machine!

Famous Hat

Friday, July 19, 2013

Late Night Swimming

There is a pool at my condo complex which I love to use, but often in the middle of the day it is full of kids. Not that I have anything against kids in a pool, but I would like to swim laps, so I’ve been waiting until the evening to go swimming. The added benefit of waiting is that I don’t have to wear sunscreen. On Tuesday I planned to go after a party with my new coworkers, but then I stopped by to talk to Richard Bonomo and Kathbert, so by the time I got home it was almost ten. For some reason our pool has posted hours of 10 am to 10 pm; I can sort of understand not wanting screaming kids in the pool at night, but 10 am seems very late. Anyway, I went into the pool with two minutes to spare… and it was a perfect night, with a half moon overhead and the air still so warm that the water was refreshing. The pool has a light in it, so it was lit up beautifully and just looked way too inviting to be off-limits. I swam laps for quite a while, and nobody complained, since they all had their air conditioners on and their windows closed so they couldn’t hear me softly splashing.

Last night Travalon and I again went swimming at ten, and this time there were other people in the pool area, although they were not actually swimming. Hopefully my little rule-breaking jaunt on Tuesday night did not convince everyone that ten is the time to hang out there! And of course I was a little louder, since Travalon and I were conversing, but still nobody came out to say anything. It does seem like an ideal time to swim laps, at least during these really hot days of summer. Maybe when the weather cools down to the 80’s again it will not be warm enough at that hour to swim, and I will return to my non-rule breaking practice of swimming in the evening. Plus, it will be easier to get up in the morning if I am not out so late swimming.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ashippun Firemen's Picnic

I completely forgot to mention the Ashippun Firemen’s Picnic that Travalon and I went to on Sunday afternoon. Ashippun is a very small town with a baseball team called the Mudcats who play on the worst field in the league – we parked on it, so that gives you some idea. The Mudcats were selling corn on the cob, and it was the best I have ever tasted. There were also burgers and ice cream sundaes for sale to benefit the volunteer fire crew. (They are looking for volunteers, by the way, in case you had ever wanted to be a volunteer fire fighter.) The firefighters were having a barrel fight, where two teams try to move a barrel on a rope with the stream from their fire hose. They are each trying to move it in the opposite direction, so the two streams smash into each other and spray water everywhere. It was great entertainment on a hot summer day! As we were leaving, Travalon held up the rope dividing the Mudcats’ field into parking areas; he said, “True gentlemen hold doors and ropes for ladies.” Looks like I found a true gentleman!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More About Musical Modes

The good news is that I did find that chapter by Praetorius on how to recognize modes. The bad news is that it is just a bunch of diagrams, mostly C clef showing what notes each mode contains if the scale starts on C, but also some sort of organ tablature that I have no idea how to read. Since most of my readers are probably more familiar with G clef and maybe F clef than C clef, I wasn’t sure any of this would be helpful to you. I was hoping for something more along the lines of: “To recognize the Dorian mode, listen for the lowered third and the raised sixth,” or maybe even something like: “The Dorian always sounds very old and majestic. You can distinguish it from the Aeolian (our usual “minor key”) by the unexpected raised sixth that gives it an almost medieval sound.” At least, that’s how I would explain the Dorian mode, and I was hoping Praetorius could do a better job.

As we sang our Hildegarde of Bingen chants, we had to move from mode to mode, which made the differences in them more immediate. We sang some selections from her “Ursula Antiphons,” and they all began on D. The first chant was in Aeolian, so there was a B flat. The second was in Phrygian, so there was also an E flat. The third was back to Aeolian, and the fourth was in Dorian, so starting on D there were no accidentals. All three modes have the lowered third that gives the immediately recognizable “minor key” character, and the Phrygian has a lowered second that gives it an almost Mideastern sound. Maybe the best way to get to know the modes is to sing chant, so I encourage all 5.2 of my readers to do so if you have a chance.

Famous Hat

Monday, July 15, 2013

More Early Music Fest

Sorry for the long silence – I was busy enjoying the Early Music Festival. There were concerts almost every night, and on Wednesday there was a masked ball. Travalon went with me, and we made masks. His was covered with leaves so he would be a jungle man, but he couldn’t make it work either under or over his glasses, so he pushed it up on his head where it looked like a laurel wreath. If he’d had a toga on, he could have been a Greek champion. The dances were led by an energetic British lady who sounded a lot like Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins – at one point she said, “Spin around, and tiddly hop,” or at least that’s what Travalon and I both heard. The dances weren’t too difficult and were a lot of fun, especially one where the men peeked around the women’s shoulders, and then the women did the same to the men.

Thursday afternoon we had our participant concert. I performed some chants with my Hildegarde of Bingen class from the balcony, and my Medieval German love songs class sang a song that translates to “Sing On, Golden Cock.” (If that sounds dirty, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to.) Then on Friday we had our big concert to show off the German Mass we had been working on all week. I can’t remember the composer, he’s not a household name, but our final piece was an amazing three-choir Te Deum by Praetorius. At the party afterwards there were two accordions and more dancing and singing, but mostly of the polka and yodel variety.

Saturday I had a girls’ day with Tiffy and the Daughter of Denii: we went to Art Fairs on and off the Square, then we went to the Old Sugar Distillery, and after that we hung out with some friends of theirs from college and their toddlers. Sunday after a baptism and reception, I drove to Travalon’s house and we went hiking at a very beautiful place called Ledge County Park; I took photos and will try to post them soon. The park is on a rock ledge overlooking the farmland below, and there are all sorts of outcroppings to climb around on. Then we went to a bar he likes called Kenny’s Gin Mill, which was full of colorful characters like the guy with hardly any teeth, the guy wearing an obscene T-shirt, and the guy who kept telling the bartender to turn up the volume on the jukebox, which was playing nonstop country music. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly my scene… After that we met an old friend of Travalon’s who is a great conversationalist. He said I have made Travalon unbelievably happy. Awww!!

Famous Hat

Monday, July 8, 2013

German Renaissance at Early Music Fest

I am learning a lot at Early Music Festival this year, like that Michael Praetorius's real last name was Schultz, and that each mode is associated with a different sign of the zodiac. Who knew? The first class I have is on Hildegarde of Bingen - we start the morning singing music she wrote. Then I have a class on Medieval German love songs, and as Banjo Player noted on her MyFace page, it was jarring to be accompanied by an accordion in there. My performance class is on the modes and their mystical connotations in Renaissance Germany, and I learned that the mode associated with Capricorn is the Hypophrygian. Oh well, it could be worse, but nobody's sign is associated with the Locrian because they refused to acknowledge the existence of that mode back in the day. Then we are working on a German Mass and triple-choir Te Deum in the all-festival choir and orchestra. I am also attending a lecture series, and today we learned about a set of partitas by Biber based on the fifteen original mysteries of the Rosary, and each one has the violin tuned differently. So much to learn! Praetorius/Schultz supposedly wrote a chapter on how to identify a mode when you hear it, so now my goal is to find that chapter, read it, and distill its essence for you, my 5.3 loyal readers.

Famous Hat

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fourth of July: Friends, Families, and Fiance

I hope my readers had a great Fourth of July! My celebration started the evening before, when I went to Concert on the Square with Richard Bonomo and one of the B-Boys, then we watched the Rhythm ‘N’ Booms fireworks show from the Union Terrace. Yesterday I slept in, then Rich and I drove to Anna Banana II’s family cottage on the lake, where we joined her and various family members of hers for lunch. Travalon came out too, and he, Rich, and I went canoeing before dinner, then after dinner we all went on a walk with Anna Banana II to the A frame houses, our usual destination. After a gorgeous sunset, people began lighting off all sorts of fireworks, then as Rich and I drove home, we saw city firework shows going on all around us. My favorite was a big one shaped like a spiral.

Next week is the annual Early Music Festival, so if my blogging is somewhat sporadic, that is why.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Big News

I have some big news for my readers - yesterday Travalon and I got engaged! He took me to the Arboretum, and we went out on the wetland boardwalk to the little shelter at the end. Then he told me I was a beautiful angel and a gift from God, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He asked if I would marry him, and I said yes. Then he gave me a beautiful diamond and platinum ring. He even has his mother's wedding band for me to wear after we get married, but that was a little snug so the jewelers are going to resize it a tiny bit. Now I have to think about what kind of wedding band I'm going to get for him...

Famous Hat

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rosary Ladies Weekend

This weekend the Rosary Ladies were finally all together again, because Anna Banana II is visiting from the vast expanse of North Dakota. So it was the whole gang: Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, OK Cap, and me, Famous Hat. Friday night we went to a Mallards game (Mr. Luxuli and Travalon came too) – the Mallards won, but the score was only 2-0. It was a very quick game because of all the defensive playing. They were playing the Wisconsin Woodchucks, and Travalon was wearing a Woodchucks hat, but nobody even noticed to heckle him.

Saturday morning I met the ladies for coffee and a trip to the Farmers’ Market, then Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and I grabbed lunch at a Mexican restaurant and did an hour of adoration together. So we prayed the rosary together, even if it was silently, and after all, isn’t that a big part of what the Rosary Ladies are about? Besides having fun, of course! In the evening, the three of us went to a fake Irish pub and had half-priced cocktails. There was a very loud two-man country band there, so we moved to a back room where we could actually converse. You’d think they’d have an Irish band at a fake Irish pub, right?

Yesterday the ladies and I went hiking with our guys and Richard Bonomo at Devil’s Lake State Park. Travalon brought Rodney, who had such a good time that he smiled the whole way home. Really – poodles can smile! It’s very cute. It was a perfect day, exactly the right temperature with just a slight breeze, so there were a ton of people there. As Travalon and I waited for the others to arrive, we sat looking out at the lake and listening to someone play Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” on the guitar. Plenty of other dogs were there too, including one half the size of Rodney, who is pretty small himself. Travalon and I were kind of pokey because Rodney liked to stop and sniff everything, so we joked that we were on Central Dog Time. Of course, this meant that we didn’t get back in time for my band rehearsal… We did stop for dinner at a charming Mexican restaurant in Sauk City.

Famous Hat