Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wedding Guest List

Now I am trying to make out a wedding guest list at Travalon’s behest, and it is surprisingly hard. I made a preliminary one and ran it by Richard Bonomo, who caught all sorts of people I had forgotten. Then there are the people I was good friends with years ago but don’t talk to much anymore – shouldn’t they be invited? What about people I thought were friends but who have been acting like they don’t think we are anymore? I guess you don’t have to invite a friend who has “dumped” you, no matter how close you used to be. I only have six first cousins and four uncles, so not a lot of extended family to have to worry about. There are the people I would love to be there who probably won’t make it, because they live so far away, and the coworker I feel I must invite if all the others are invited who will probably come and bring extra people, since she does that at parties when people feel they must invite her.  I suppose any of my readers who have gotten married have gone through the same process. You don’t want to offend anyone, but you can’t invite the whole world. You want people to feel free to bring dates, but how do you politely say, “… and Guest does not mean your sister, your cousin, AND your three friends, none of whom I have ever laid eyes on before”? I suppose they will make up for the people I want to come who can’t for whatever reason. As long as this thing doesn’t get too out of control… If you have a name on my blog, never fear – you are invited!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Serbian Fest

Sunday morning I drove from Tiffy’s house to Travalon’s house in time to go to 10:45 Mass at St. Anthony on the Lake with him. Then we went out to lunch with his mother before hitting Serbian Fest. This was at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, a truly beautiful church that smells wonderful too, because of all the incense. It was filled with icons and mosaics of various saints, but I can’t read their alphabet very well – the only one I could make out was Saint Michael the Archangel. The festival itself was outside and in the school gym. There were at least three bands performing at the same time on different stages; one band had men playing all sorts of instruments, including things that looked like tiny mandolins. People were grilling lamb and pork, which smelled wonderful, and there were all sorts of delicious dishes and desserts made with phyllo dough. There was a fair midway complete with rides and carnival games, and Travalon won me a little pig by squirting water at a target. The pig looks like it is dancing a la John Travolta, so I am calling it Disco Pig while I think of a better appellation. I took a photo of Disco Pig and will try to post it soon.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Saturday in Racine

Saturday I drove to Tiffy’s house, and we went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch and $3 margaritas. Then we spent the whole afternoon in her pool. At first we were all alone, but then we were joined by two spry 80-somethings, and Tiffy wondered if it was swimming every day that kept them so spry. I see no reason not to test this theory out in our own lives! As the afternoon gave way to evening, the pool filled up with children, so we decided to hit downtown Racine and get dinner at a restaurant on the lake. After dinner we went out to the Friki Tiki Bar and drank fancy drinks while gazing out at the lake. A rowdy bachelorette party that had been at the next table in the restaurant also settled at the next table at the bar. At another table, three women were laughing and having a good time when they suddenly screamed and jumped out of their chairs. We all looked over and saw a spider dangling from the umbrella over their table. A waiter came and quickly folded up the umbrella and sat it at the next table over, where nobody was sitting at the time, but some unsuspecting people soon sat there. They never gave any indication of seeing the spider, but that night I had strange dreams about spiders crawling on me.

A family I know lost their only child, a college student, to drowning this past week, so keep them in your prayers. I can tell it’s messing with my head because last night at the pool I kept watching all the kids nervously for signs any of them might be drowning as I swam with A-Joz. Then A-Joz and I got out of the pool, but I felt reluctant to leave with so many kids around who could potentially drown, so we sat around talking. Eventually the kids were all ushered home, but then a guy started swimming laps, and I couldn’t breathe easy until he finished. Every time we could no longer hear him swimming, I would say, “Is he still there?” since it was dark by then, and A-Joz would say, “I think he’s just resting by the side of the pool. Yes, there he is.” He must have thought I was nuts!

Famous Hat

Monday, August 26, 2013

From Across the Lake

Friday night Travalon and I celebrated one year since our first date. Instead of recreating that date, we went to a new place, Fresco, which has an incredible view overlooking State Street. The food was good, and the cocktails were amazing. Then we joined some coworkers of mine and their various friends at Dane Dances, where a disco band played. From Monona Terrace we could see a very interesting-looking building across the lake, all lit up and with red lights inside. We had seen it before, and even looked at it through binoculars without being able to ascertain what it was. Travalon thought it was a yacht club, but he was game to go on a search for it once Dane Dances finished. And were they popular this past Friday! There was a line to get in because only so many people can be on the Monona Terrace roof at one time. We got there just in time, so we didn’t have to wait to get in.

After Dane Dances was over, Travalon and I drove around the lake. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to recognize the mystery building from the street side, but just past Olbrich Park we spotted a building that was all lit up in the back. It was called the East Side Club, and the front door was locked, but there was a sign saying there was a tiki bar around the back, so we went exploring. We ran into some people and asked if it was a private gathering, but they said, “No, and anyway if it was, we would invite you – you seem cool.” So we went to the tiki bar and ordered drinks, then we sat on chairs down by the lake. When we looked back at the club, we were sure this was the building we’d seen from the Monona Terrace. The red lights we’d seen were exit signs inside the building, not Chinese lanterns or anything exotic, but otherwise the club lived up to the excitement we felt viewing it from across the lake. In fact, it was so nice I was a little sad that we had already reserved a hall for our wedding reception, because the East Side Club would have been a lovely place to have it, but maybe it’s more of a summer place, and after all, we are getting married in mid-May. We are going to go back sometime for their Friday fish fry and hopefully can hit the tiki bar at least one more time before summer is over. And guess what? The Monona Terrace looks like a really happening place from the East Side Club. Because it is!

Famous Hat

Friday, August 23, 2013

Terribly Sad Story (For a Stamp Collector, Anyway)

What to do when I have nothing to blog about… At my old job, I had a scanner and could scan random objects and put them on the blog, but alas this luxury is not afforded to me at my current position. I could blog about the tiny frog I saw while walking around a pond yesterday, but what’s there to say except that it was very cute? I could blog about the procession Travalon and I saw Wednesday night on State Street, people calling attention to the problem of self-immolation in Tibet, but that’s a depressing topic. I feel bad for the Tibetan people, who are so suppressed by the Chinese government, but how is setting themselves on fire supposed to help with that? It just reduces the number of Tibetans, which is probably what the Chinese government wants anyway.

So then I thought I could blog about a true, very sad story that happened to me: as many of you know, I collect stamps, and in my current position, I receive a lot of mail with interesting stamps on it. Earlier this week I found the best stamp of all – a Johnny Cash one! I was trying to be careful opening the envelope so as not to damage the image of the Man in Black, but somehow I tore the stamp right in two! My solution? Tape it back together. I’m sure the professional collectors wouldn’t see anything wrong with that…

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Italian Chef

Another day, another joke, this one courtesy of a coworker's daughter.

Did you hear about the Italian chef who died? He pasta way. We cannoli do so much. His legacy will become a pizza history. Here today, gone tomato. How sad that he ran out of thyme. Sending olive my prayers to the family. His wife is really upset - cheese still not over it. You never sausage a tragic thing. It's such a shame good people have to die fusilli reasons.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

So This Farmer Wants a Divorce...

I can't think of anything to blog about today, so I'm just posting one of my favorite clean jokes:

A farmer walked into an attorney's office wanting to file for a divorce. The attorney asked, "May I help you?"

The farmer said, "Yea, I want to get one of those dayvorces." 
The attorney said, "Well do you have any grounds?" 
The farmer said, "Yea, I got about 140 acres." 

The attorney said, "No, you don't understand, do you have a case?" 
The farmer said, "No, I don't have a Case, but I have a John Deere." 
The attorney said, "No you don't understand, I mean do you have a grudge?" 
The farmer said, "Yea I got a grudge, that's where I park my John Deere." 
The attorney said, "No sir, I mean do you have a suit?" 
The farmer said, "Yes sir, I got a suit. I wear it to church on Sundays." 
The exasperated attorney said, "Well sir, does your wife beat you up or anything?" 
The farmer said, "No sir, we both get up about 4:30." 
Finally, the attorney says, "Okay, let me put it this way. WHY DO YOU WANT A DIVORCE?" 
And the farmer says, "Well, I can never have a meaningful conversation with her."

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Very Festive Day

Friday night I went with a couple of coworkers and some friends of theirs to Dane Dances, which is a wonderful free concert every Friday in August, up on the roof of the Monona Terrace. This past week the band was Madisalsa, preceded by an R&B band who were also really good. I danced with a Japanese girl, who gave me a hug afterwards, one coworker, and someone I know from fiddling circles who volunteers there. Dane Dances is a ridiculously PC dreamland, with people of all ages and colors coming together to enjoy the music, though people do mostly stay in their own age and color groups. After all, it is easiest to relate to someone of your own culture and generation, though I personally think it is worth the effort to get to know others outside of your comfort zone. Then again, look at me – most of my friends are middle-aged Catholics of European descent, so I should talk, right?

Saturday I went to Africa Fest in Warner Park. I got there just after it opened, so there wasn’t too much going on, but some guys were on stage drumming. It wasn’t entirely clear whether they were practicing or actually performing, but I enjoyed listening to them. They sang in some African language, French, and English. I had some spicy goat soup and browsed the goods for sale, buying some cowrie shell jewelry for my wedding. The necklace might be too big and gaudy, but the bracelet is pretty and subtle, so that will be the symbol of my African heritage.

Then I drove to Travalon’s house and we went to Irish Fest. We listened to lots of Celtic music and browsed the goods for sale. One guy had a T-shirt that said, “Irish-ish,” and the one Travalon liked said, “The Titanic: Built by Irishmen, sunk by an Englishman,” so he found it and bought it. I bought some claddaugh earrings for our wedding to symbolize my Celtic heritage. Now I just need something to symbolize my Anglo-Saxon heritage, my German heritage, and my Italian heritage.

Cecil Markovitch had given Travalon and me free tickets to a Brewers game, so we ended the evening by watching them beat the Reds. I thought I only liked baseball on a small scale, like the Mallards (who won the championship! Woo-hoo!) but we really had fun at the game in spite of all the commercialism surrounding professional baseball. Lots of people were wearing Braun jerseys in spite of the scandal surrounding him. Travalon says next year when he’s allowed to play, and he hits a home run, all will be forgiven and everyone will just forget that he played dirty. We’ll see… Now our plan is to go to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. My grandpa would be so proud of me!

Famous Hat

Monday, August 19, 2013

Union Terrace Adventures

I have decided that, instead of writing one long blog post on Monday, I’ll break up my weekend into several blog posts. Today I’ll blog about my adventures yesterday, since Travalon really wanted me to mention the interesting characters at the Union Terrace.

Sunday started out with me oversleeping and realizing I couldn’t get to Mass before it started. No problem, I would walk to the church near my house… but it is a lot further away than it seems, plus it is up a very long, steep hill, so Mass had already begun by the time I arrived. Then Travalon wanted to go on a long walk, but I’d already spent an hour just walking to and from church. We decided to go to Indian Lake County Park, where we hiked around the lake with Rodney, who was loving it. Then we went to the Union Terrace, where everyone commented on how cute Rodney was, and little kids kept coming over to ask if they could pet him. One little boy stood in front of us shyly and asked, “Is that your dog?” so I said, “You can pet him – he’s friendly.” He replied, “There’s a sign here that says no dogs allowed.” This is true for the upper part of the Union Terrace, but dogs are allowed down by the water, which is where we were. When I explained this to the little boy, his dad got very embarrassed and said, “Where did you see the sign?” so the boy pointed at the upper part of the Terrace. Travalon had just gotten done saying I needed to blog about that when a very odd guy with long, dirty hair and food on his shirt and (oddest of all) a rosary around his neck stopped by to comment on Rodney. He seemed stoned or something. A few minutes later he came back to tell us there was a guy walking around in just his underwear, and not only that, but it was a guy who worked at the Union! Travalon and I never did see the alleged underwear guy, so we wonder if it was all a figment of Stoner Guy’s imagination. Travalon did tell him that he had seen the men’s rowing team wearing women’s bikinis a couple of weeks ago at practice, which blew what was left of Stoner Guy’s mind. “Whoa!” he said. “That’s VERY disturbing! You mean like Speedos?” Later Travalon and I walked down State Street, where we heard people calling Rodney a cute little dog in Spanish, and I assume that’s what they were also saying in what might have been Mandarin Chinese. Rodney – adorable in any language!

Famous Hat

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Poodle Birthday Party

Last night Travalon, Hardingfele, and Rodney the poodle stopped by my office to meet some of my coworkers, and Rodney was a big hit. No surprise, Hardingfele tried to get people to adopt cats that need homes. Then Rodney, Travalon, and I went downtown to hear Jazz at 5 at the top of State Street. We had dinner outside at the Fountain so we could hear the music – it was so wonderful! Richard Bonomo hosted Rodney’s birthday party (he is 14 today), but Wednesday is a bad night for most of my crowd, so only Cecil Markovitch made it. We humans had tea and TWO desserts (baklava and peanut butter chocolate bars), and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Rodney, who was most excited about the bowl of water that Rich gave him. Then we had some sangria to toast Rodney’s good health, only Rich didn’t want any actual alcohol so he had the sangria-flavored soda I got for the vegetarian feast. Here’s hoping there are plenty more birthday parties in Rodney’s future!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wedding Colors Revisited

The good news is that the Mallards haven’t been eliminated yet – they actually came from behind to beat the Chinooks last night. Now they have to win tonight or their season will be over.

Last night my former office mate Light Bright and I met for dinner and margaritas at our usual spot. We talked about wedding planning, and I mentioned how people were asking about my wedding colors. It turns out my maternal grandmother wore blue for her wedding, so I thought maybe I could do that and say it was a family tradition. However, it might be hard to find something resembling a wedding dress in light blue, so we decided to go look at dresses. Unfortunately Macy’s has stopped carrying formal gowns in their stores – you can only get them online – so we had nothing to look at, and we didn’t have an appointment at a bridal shop. What we did find is that soft teal and soft coral go really well together, so I am thinking of having those as my wedding colors, pending approval from Travalon. He should have some say in this, after all. Light Bright thought I should celebrate my Celtic heritage, so that gives me more ideas about what to do. I am planning to go to Irish Fest this weekend, so maybe I will find something there. I may take a look at Africa Fest as well…

Famous Hat

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Girls Rock!

Sunday Travalon and I went to the High Noon Saloon to see the participants of Girls Rock Camp perform. The de facto step-granddaughter of Denii was playing the electric violin, and she and all the other girls were really good. Girls do rock! I said too bad they didn’t have Girls Rock Camp when I was a kid… and then the lady in charge announced that there would be a Ladies Rock Camp in October, so I might have to think about attending that. It’s only a long weekend, not a whole week like Girls Rock Camp. I told Rockstar Tailor about Girls Rock Camp last night as we were biking all over Pheasant Branch with Hardingfele, but she seemed surprisingly indifferent. I thought it would have been right up her alley, since she sings and plays the guitar.

Travalon and I discovered a little park on the East Side as we were heading to the Mallards game Sunday evening. We went out on the pier and watched a guy fail at waterskiing. Then we continued on to the Duck Blind, where you can get unlimited food and beer. The Mallards were playing the North Shore Chinooks, and they were really struggling. We left in the seventh inning when they were down 11-2, and later we found out the final score was 17-3! Last night the Mallards played the Chinooks at their home, and they lost to them again, 10-0! That was the first in a three-game playoff series, so if they lose tonight, our Mallards are done for the season. Can they finally beat the Chinooks?  We’ll see…

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Vegetarian Feast

Saturday Catzooks and her boyfriend wanted to make a vegetarian feast at Richard Bonomo’s house, so of course Rich went and got a roast for the meat eaters after taking me on a remedial hike at Pheasant Branch. (I say “remedial” because I have gotten sadly out of shape.) This was a potluck feast, so Kathbert made bread and Jilly Moose made her own version of trifle with strawberries and raspberries. Cecil Markovitch brought wine and a delicious cucumber dip. I, however, was lame and just brought crazy soda from the Mexican grocery store near Rich’s house. Catzooks outdid herself with a curry cauliflower dish, roasted tomatoes, two kinds of cheese, pomegranate juice, hummus, and apple-peach wine, plus several more “C” vegetables (celery, carrots) and pita bread. Everything was so tasty! Catzooks wants to have another vegetarian meal at a time when more actual vegetarians can make it, like Mr. Luxuli. As it was, only the men at this dinner party availed themselves of the meat. I think this must have something to do with the fact that men evolved to be hunters and women evolved to be gatherers, because I’ve seen this pattern before, like when we order pizza. Women always want veggie toppings and most men (though of course not Mr. Luxuli) want meat, meat, meat.

After dinner Catzooks’ boyfriend showed me a most amazing video on YouTube, a compilation from Russian dashboard cameras. Dashcams are all the rage in Russia, where people want to prove someone else was at fault in an accident, and you can find these compilations all over YouTube. The most amazing one was probably where someone hit a pedestrian, then she got up and got into the car. Who gets into a stranger’s car even if he hasn’t just hit you? Watching these videos, we wonder if Russia has any actual traffic rules. There don’t seem to be any lanes in the roads, and people are always driving in ways that would make no sense in the US, like right into oncoming traffic. I am definitely not adding “driving in Russia” to my bucket list of things to do!

Famous Hat

Friday, August 9, 2013

Awesome Reuben Sandwich

Last night Travalon came to see me, since he is at a comic book convention today and has to work tomorrow. We went to local brewery Karben 4, where Ale Asylum used to be, and I had a flight of their beers (three small samples) and the best Reuben sandwich ever. It was made with summer sausage from a local collective instead of corned beef, and it was on the most amazing pretzel bun that they make in house. The Daughter of Denii had said how good the food was there, and she is right! It came with a side salad full of interesting greens – no iceberg lettuce in sight. We sat on their outdoor patio and enjoyed the beautiful evening, then we went to State Street and walked around. We had mochi green tea ice cream (in little balls of bean paste or something) at a Japanese restaurant called Takara, and then we were bad and got cheese curds at our old haunt the Fountain. So incredibly delicious, and so incredibly bad for you. I should be better; people say I seem to be losing weight, so maybe all that biking lately is helping.

Famous Hat

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Running an Errand

Today I got to leave the office to run an errand. Because I biked to work today, this meant a pleasant bike ride down the campus path instead of a complicated bus ride with a transfer. I had to pick up a check for Canada – literally, it’s for the Canadian government. To my surprise, the person behind the desk was an old coworker of mine. He said, “I saw you were coming in for a check! But it’s not for you?” I said, “No, it’s for Canada.” (We collect Canadian tax on books we sell in Canada and then pay the government quarterly.) He had been talking to another woman when I got there, and they are both black, so I chirped, “Guess what? I’m part black!” to which the woman replied, “No, you are of African heritage.” But she didn’t seem particularly offended. Hardingfele says I’m going to get myself killed talking about my black roots around people who actually look black, but maybe they are more accepting of lily-white me as a relative than she thinks. Anyway, it was a fun break in the day. I'm not looking forward to making the same trip in the winter months...

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wedding Colors

There are so many important considerations when you are getting married, like what will your wedding colors be? Seriously, I have people asking me about this all-important question. I hadn’t given it a lot of thought, to tell you the truth, since Tiffy is going to be my only bridesmaid, so she doesn’t have to coordinate with anyone. I said to her this weekend that maybe my colors should be teal and hot pink, and she said that would be perfect… if I were fifteen. So what colors are good for a wedding? Bright colors? (I tend towards those myself.) Pastel colors? Metallic colors? Maybe my colors could be silver and gold. Black and gray would probably be too serious, but would teal and hot pink not be serious enough? And what constitutes a color? Is white a color? It seems like it is, but who ever says she is having white as one of her wedding colors? And what does this affect besides the bridesmaids’ dresses? The flowers? The place settings at the reception? You can see that this is a question of most profound significance, and so I must ponder it awhile longer before making a decision. And one more question: how many wedding colors is one person allowed? Since people refer to “colors,” I am assuming you are supposed to choose more than one, but what is the upper limit? Could I choose five colors? Maybe I should choose red, yellow, and green to celebrate my African heritage.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Theater of Dreams

Tiffy and I decided to accompany some of my coworkers to a local theater well known for more cutting-edge productions. We went with some trepidation, wondering how weird “Theater of Dreams” was going to be. To our relief, it turned out to be hilarious. The first part was five short plays based on actual dreams, so a person took an elevator to Hawaii, and a cow turned into a cat and then was eaten by a lizard. My favorite was the guy running from something who sees an old man in a hut, and the old man tells him, “The only thing you’ll remember after waking up is me telling you this is the only thing you’ll remember after waking up.” Then the second half of the evening was a chance for audience members to tell about dreams they had recently had, and people from the troupe and the audience acted the dreams out. One was the classic “I’ve never been to this class – how do I pass the test?” dream, one was a superhero who lost her powers, and one was someone plunked back into a previous job. (I’ve had that one many times since starting my new position.) Not surprisingly, I had weird dreams that night, but nothing entertaining enough to make into a blog post, just something about a rogue airplane flying into Richard Bonomo’s house and waking everyone up.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Bicycle Pub Crawl

The pub crawl by bicycle was a lot of fun. We started out at the house of the Daughter of Denii with fewer people than other years, but that didn’t detract from the good time. We had an awesome breakfast of pork chops grilled outside, doughnuts, coffee, and beer. Then we rode to the Echo Tap, with a treasure hunt along the way. Guess what the treasure was? More booze! It was little bottles of fancy liqueurs. People kept joining the ride at each stop. The Echo Tap was a real dive bar back in the day, but now it boasts a beautiful patio. After we had some pizza and beer there, we biked to a woman’s house, where we had jello shots. The ride continued on to Karben4 and Ale Asylum, and then they were going to the Harmony Bar, but I had to get ready for American Players Theater that evening, so I biked home. I drove with Tiffy and Richard Bonomo, and we met some others out there to watch Rosencratz and Gildenstern Are Dead.  They even used the same actors as in the production of Hamlet we had seen earlier this summer, which was a clever touch, since that play keeps breaking into the newer one. If you haven’t seen it, it is very funny but very existential.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Who I Am

I have been looking at my results from the genetic test in more detail, and unfortunately there is still no Basque in my DNA… but there could be Etruscan! There is just a smidge of Sardinian on what I am guessing is my mother’s side, where the sub-Saharan African appears. There is also a sizable chunk of Italian on Chromosome 8. Is that where all the wine-drinking genes are? Maybe the pasta-loving genes? I do love pasta. Online internet searches are not that helpful, because they only tell you what disorders are on a particular chromosome, not any of the awesome stuff. There is some German/French on my father’s side, which makes sense, since his mother’s side of the family is German. What does it all mean? It means I’m a proud Celto-Anglo-Germano-Italo-Afro-American. (That’s in order of frequency in my genome; I didn’t mention the Sardinian because it is just a small amount.) Per Ma Hat, her father’s side of the family owned slaves way back, so that explains the African, but neither of us know any back story for the Italian. As Ma Hat put it, “Our ancestors weren’t homebodies.”

Tomorrow I probably won’t get a chance to blog, since I’ll be on the annual Birthday Bike Ride/Pub Crawl to celebrate with the Daughter of Denii.

Famous Hat