Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Farewell to 2014

So now 2014 is almost over, and what a year it was for me! Here is a brief recap:

January – my birthday party and marriage prep classes
February – the BonomOlympics for Rich’s birthday
March – the start of UGGH Club
April – my wonderful wedding shower at the late, lamented Macha Tea House
May – our perfect wedding and honeymoon in Ireland
June –  Callie’s passing and the tornado that hit Light Bright’s house
July – lots of canoeing and my first time in a decade not participating in Early Music Festival
August – more canoeing and our trip out East for my cousin’s wedding
September – our trip up North during the Labor Day weekend
October – Irish language weekend and the start of the weekly Irish classes
November – my big promotion and raise at work
December – the end of one long-term relationship and the beginning of another, re cars

As you can see, it was quite an eventful year for me, and Travalon too! Here’s hoping 2015 will be another wonderful year for all of us.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 29, 2014

Soul Train for Christmas

I hope my regular readers had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was great, but this whole year has been amazing. It has seriously been the best year of my life, and I’m going to have some trouble saying goodbye to 2014. Travalon and I spent our first Christmas Eve together, and as my regular readers know, mine are usually crazy, while he is used to kicking back and relaxing. So we compromised: we ran around getting supplies for the cassata and eggnog, then I made the cassata. My choir put on a half-hour carol sing before “midnight Mass” at 5 pm, and I had a two-line solo. After Mass Travalon, Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Luxuli, and I went to visit our former organist, who had the flu so we all had to don masks. The most romantic part of the evening was when Travalon and I went to dinner at Lilliana’s, where we had pumpkin soup and salad with gingerbread in it. He had steak and lobster for dinner, while I had turkey stuffed with goat cheese, cranberries, and spinach. For dessert we had pumpkin cheesecake. It was one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had. After we got home, we exchanged presents, and he gave me a Soul Train DVD, an iTunes card, Lady and the Tramp stuffed animals, and a mug of Grumpy Cat saying, “There isn’t enough coffee in the world to make me rise and shine.” I gave him a coffee table book on the history of DC Comics.

Christmas morning we went to Mass again (and heard the same homily from the night before), then we drove to the Five O’s to have lunch with Travalon’s family. We gave his mother a blue sparkly poinsettia, and he gave the 42nd Doctor a book about Darth Vader. For dessert there was homemade strudel, as well as our contribution – cheesecake. Then in the evening we went to Rich’s house, where the main course was lasagna. Cecil Markovitch made an amazing Turkish vegetable stew that everyone loved, and I always enjoy the positive reception to my cassata and eggnog. Cecil helped separate eggs for the eggnog, and he is really good at it! We couldn’t stay too late because we all had to work the next day.

Friday I had promised Travalon a quiet night at home, so we put on the Soul Train DVD and danced around to it. I had also promised him we could just be lazy around the house on Saturday, as long as I could go to the Lutheran Third Day of Christmas Carol Sing. He agreed, having two basketball games he wanted to attend that evening. So he dropped me off at Rich’s house and went to watch basketball, while Kathbert, OK Cap, and I figured out how to cook up a “mess of greens” I had bought for hardly anything at the grocery store. We aren’t even sure what they were – either collard greens, turnip greens, or mustard greens. We ended up cooking them with butter, garlic, and onions. Luxuli and Rich also joined us for leftover lasagna, then we all drove in Rich’s new Jeep to the Lutheran church for the carol sing, where we joined Cecil Markovitch. Afterwards my OTHER choir director invited us over for some leftover fruit soup, and then we all went back to Rich’s for leftover eggnog and the cookies Anna Banana II had sent in the mail. Travalon, Catzookz, and Twins Fan joined us as well, so we were there kind of late.

Yesterday Travalon and I overslept, but we couldn’t go to a later morning Mass because we were treating OK Cap to brunch at the Nau-Ti-Gal for her birthday. It was a big one – 29! Ha, just kidding, but if you want to know how old she is, you’ll have to ask her yourself; I will not reveal another lady’s age on this blog. I said we would have to go to Mass at 5:00, but that would be right in the middle of the Packer game, so Travalon called and got our TV hooked up so we can record shows. Rich joined us for brunch as well, and it was quite a feast. Before the game Travalon and I took Rodney to the dog park, then we watched the first half of the game, went to Mass, and turned on the radio to hear what we had missed. And guess what? They were beating the Lions 28-14! We drove to the Free House to meet OK Cap and Jilly Moose for a birthday drink, and in the end the Pack won 30-20, so they are the NFC North champions for the fourth straight year. More good news: today we found out Ndamukong Suh got suspended from next week’s playoff game for stepping on Aaron Rodgers while he was down on the ground. Awesome! There was no penalty called during the game, so we wondered if he was just going to get away with it. He’s a notoriously dirty player.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my 5.6 regular readers! This is going to be an unusual Christmas for me, because I am not singing with the OTHER choir at the Lutheran church for the first time in sixteen years. Christmas Eve just won’t seem the same without all that late-night singing! Travalon and I will probably get to bed at a reasonable hour so we can make it to his family’s gathering Christmas morning. In the afternoon we will go to Richard Bonomo’s house for his Christmas dinner. At first Travalon said his family wanted us to bring cookies, so we got all the stuff to make them, but now they want a cheesecake instead, so maybe I’ll make the cookies for my coworkers. I didn’t get them anything, but one gave me chocolates, one gave me a handmade ornament, and Handy Woman made pistachio craisin bars. No wonder we all gain weight over the holidays! I am not a big one for giving or getting presents, preferring “events” to “things.” If you hang out with me regularly, that is worth more to me than some little trinket, unless it is a really cool rosary. I’ll make an exception for that, but like so many people, I value time over possessions. True confession: I did buy myself a from-me to-me present today at Trader Joe’s. They have ornate pots with four kinds of spring flowers forced to bloom early: tulips, narcissus, paper whites, and crocuses. They are all white and should look and smell wonderful when they bloom in my office. Then next fall I can plant them in Rich’s garden, and they will come back to delight us every spring. That is the kind of gift I love most – one that keeps on giving!

Famous Hat

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sexy Honda

Travalon wanted me to mention this on the blog: last Thursday he watched Return of the Jedi while I did aerobics, then when we watched Family Guy that night, it was the episode spoofing Return of the Jedi! What are the odds of that? Also, I threw out Indigo as a name for my new car, but Travalon said, “You can do better than that! You’re creative.” I was thinking of El Guajeo, after my favorite thing about salsa music, but that is a masculine name, and cars (at least sensible cars like Hondas) seem feminine. Though we saw a Honda Accord parked at the Come Back In that was all sexied up, with a spoiler on the back and a slick paint job and spiffy rims. Who knew a Honda could be a sleek sporty car? It was a two-door and even had a Honda symbol on the gas cover.

Friday evening Travalon and I went to the fish fry at Erin’s Snug Irish Pub, out by his job. It was not quite as cool inside as Brocach, but it did look quite Irish, with lots of snugs, or small side rooms. They did not seat us in a snug, and it was pretty loud where we were. The fish fry was good, and all you can eat, but we just had seconds, and not much at that: one more piece for me, and two for Travalon. They’re not losing any money on us.

Saturday Travalon and I bought a sparkly blue poinsettia for his mother, then we went to see Part One of The Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. It was the longest book, so they have split it into two movies, and this one ended kind of abruptly. It was very powerful to watch all those people rising up against their oppressors in the Capital. In the evening Travalon went to watch a basketball game with his old high school buddy, but for some reason they changed the time of the game so it had already happened. Luckily they found another game to attend, which was very exciting – it went into overtime. Meanwhile, Richard Bonomo and I went to a concert put on by five local Methodist churches. We thought it was going to be a carol singalong, but it was more of a Lessons and Carols type of thing. We enjoyed it a great deal.

Yesterday we went with the choir to brunch at the Come Back In, then Travalon and I rushed home to watch the Packers barely beat the Buccaneers. At least they won on the road, but yeesh, it shouldn’t have been such a chore to beat such a lousy team. Now they are in the playoffs for sure. There was a Diocesan Choir concert that Luxuli sang in, but we didn’t hear about it until after it was over, so we just hung out at the dog park with Rodney and then had a romantic dinner at Bellitalia, a little Italian bistro near where we live. We were pretty full after dinner but had to split a piece of limoncello cake, since it just sounded too good… and it was! We’ll be going back for sure.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sparkly Teal Poinsettia

Last night Travalon and I picked up my “new” 2011 Honda Civic, which still doesn’t have a name, although Jilly Moose suggested Midnight O’Flasher. It is not as dark a blue as I had remembered, so I must have been getting it confused with the other one we test drove. Then I headed home in my new car, stopping at the local flower shop to see if they had blue poinsettias. One showed up at our church for the Our Lady of Guadalupe festivities, and it fascinated me so much I just had to stop and see if the flower shop had any. They did! I indulged my inner 15-year-old girl and got a teal one with sparkles on it. The girl at the shop said they are called “paintsettias,” and she showed me one with swirls of lavender on the white leaves and said they call that one the “pukesettia.” There was also a very beautiful dark blue one, but it was larger, so it’s good I didn’t get it – Travalon and I wouldn’t have been able to see each other over it! Right now the teal poinsettia is sitting on our dining room table, the only Christmas decoration we have bothered with this year. I have a strand of Christmas lights somewhere but can’t locate it after my move, and Travalon says he isn’t that into Christmas decorations anyway, or nonstop Christmas music. But then, who does really like that? Who can listen to those stations for more than ten minutes before going nuts? I assume the “teal” poinsettia will bloom white next year, and hopefully in the solarium, where we have no lights, it will get enough darkness to rebloom. Richard Bonomo’s old poinsettias bloom every year. They are never as spectacular, but they are still pretty. Of course, mine will not be teal and sparkly, but it would still be exciting to get it to bloom again.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Famous Hat's New Car

Sorry for the silence the last couple of days. I was having some real adventures. Tuesday I left work about two and had an MRI. This was for a study I am participating in about lucid dreaming; people tell me it’s common for writers to have lucid dreams, i.e., dreams in which they know they are dreaming and can control the content. Apparently it isn’t so common for the general population, so they were eager to get an image of my brain. If you have never had an MRI, they stuff you into this narrow tube, and then you have to hold really still as horrible noises like jackhammers and dental drills ring around your head. For this I will be paid $25, and I understand they will also give me a CD of my brain images. Maybe I will post some on the blog, just to prove to you all that I actually have a brain.

For some lovely images now, here are pictures of our church after the Our Lady of Guadalupe festivities. Thanks to Richard Bonomo for these beautiful pictures.

Yesterday I left work early again (after our holiday potluck, so it wasn’t a high-stress day), and Travalon and I went car shopping. I wanted a Honda in our price range, and the dealer had several, so I took two out for a test drive and settled on a midnight blue 2011 Civic four-door sedan. This will be the newest car I have ever owned. We got it for such a good price because it has 90K miles on it, but the dealer told us someone recently brought in a 2005 Honda Civic with 500K miles on it. Half a million miles! Tonight I will go to pick it up, after dropping off the trusty white Hyundai Sonata loaner car I’ve been using. Undoubtedly you will all ask me what I’m going to name it, so I’m open to suggestions. Leave a comment or email me.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Concert Weekend

A random note on the check I got from Flo to cover the cost of Erin Caitlyn O’Honda: I noticed the check said 00 Accord, T/L, P/O/S. Now I understand most of that code as standing for 2000 Honda Accord, Total Loss… but my first thought for the last part was “piece of sh!+.” Now Erin was a somewhat banged-up old car, but I thought that wasn’t a very nice way to refer to her. Some people suggested it meant “point of sale,” but does that even make sense? Then after depositing the check, I went to my band’s gig at the Wild Hog in the Woods temporary coffeehouse, and for the first time ever, I forgot to wear my band T-shirt. Oops!! Travalon was a devoted husband and came to hear me, but none of my other readers made it, although many of you ask when my band will play, so I sent an email about this particular gig. See, this is why I usually forget to tell you – you don’t come anyway. For some weird reason there was an open mic right in the middle of our gig, with a fiddler and a guitarist doing Irish tunes, then after they finished, half our audience left. Hardingfele was not happy that they took up a good chunk of our gig. “They should book their own gig!” she fumed.

Saturday Tiffy came to town, and she, Richard Bonomo, Travalon, and I had lunch at the Ale Asylum. Travalon left to watch high school basketball, and the rest of us went shopping for Erin’s replacement. We checked out a couple of Honda Civics and a Kia, but the place was closing soon, and I didn’t want to make any decisions without Travalon’s input, so we were sort of window shopping. We did take one out for a test drive. In the evening Tiffy and I went to the annual Madison Bach Musicians’ Christmas Concert, which was focused on earlier music this year, mostly 17th century stuff. There were a couple of Bachs on the program, but they were like great-uncles of JS Bach. It was very beautiful music.

Yesterday after Mass, Tiffy, Travalon, Rich, Luxuli, Prairie Man, the married B-Boy (but not his wife), another guy, and I went to brunch at the Manna Café. Since we were such a big group, we had to wait for a table, but the food there is so worth it. Then Travalon, Tiffy, and I watched that heartbreaking Packers game. Sure, they can’t always win, but it would be great to know they could win on the road and not just at Lambeau. We left before the end of the game to go to the local handbell choir’s Christmas concert, which was in Monona. Travalon and I got a little lost finding the church where it was held, but it was worth the effort. Even Travalon enjoyed it, and he hasn’t necessarily enjoyed all the concerts I’ve taken him to. He said he would definitely consider going to that one again next year.

Tomorrow is our big cookie exchange at work, so I’ll be baking all evening.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ode to Erin Caitlyn O'Honda

This morning I had a moment of panic when I heard there was a fatal traffic accident right by Travalon’s workplace, just about the time he would be arriving for work. I sent him a text, and right away he butt-dialed me, as he is prone to do. Usually it is kind of annoying, but this time it was such a relief because I knew he must be fine. He said the accident happened right after he got to work, and he saw lots of emergency vehicles. What a way to start the work day!

Yesterday I said goodbye to Erin Caitlyn O’Honda. She was parked at the body shop, and I drove over and took everything out of her and loaded it into the trunk of my loaner car. Then I went home and sorted all the stuff, which was mostly paper and in fact mostly sheet music, although I did find a bad review from my previous job and the paperwork from when I adopted Cashmere. Here I thought her birthday was November 28, and it’s really November 29. Like she cares, right? Going through all this stuff made me realize how many adventures Erin and I have had together, and so my usual bit of Friday doggerel will be dedicated to her.

Memories, both good and bad,
Some are happy and some are sad.
Lots are stupid, like the time
I spilled evaporated milk all over – ooh, that slime!
But the stain reminds me of the Haitian party
We drove to that day, and the pudding
I made, how tasty it was,
And the money we raised for poor kids – yay!
I remember the time I popped your tire
Driving over construction debris on the road,
But we were coming back from a Mexican band gig
With my violin and mandolin as part of your load.
Remember the times we drove to Oconomowoc
To visit Travalon at his old place?
I got to know the landscape really well,
Like a familiar, friendly face.
So farewell old friend, you served me well,
And you were too banged up to sell
Or fix for less than the price of a newer car,
But you carried me well and you carried me far.

Mad props to Flo: one week from the accident to the check from Progressive! I got it via FedEx today. And supposedly today they towed Erin to the junkyard. Poor old car.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Waunakee Christmas Light Display

Last night Travalon made dinner, then we took a drive up to Waunakee to see their light display. They have a park right downtown with a lovely Christmas lights display, like the one at Olin-Turville Park but on a smaller scale, and it was quite impressive for a small town. The Rotary Club sponsors the light show, and they had people at the entrance to greet us, collect a donation if we were so inclined, and give us candy canes. Travalon donated $2 to the cause. I am not usually a big candy person, but last night I ate my candy cane as we wound our way through the park, listening to the radio station that plays all Christmas music this month. They were playing oldies, like Nat King Cole and Elvis singing Christmas songs, and not those new silly ones like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” so that helped set the festive mood. Then when I got home, Ethel called! I haven’t heard from her in forever! In September she went on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage that we had always talked about doing, so she told me all about it. Someday I hope to do it myself. Luxuli has done it too.

Today the insurance people called me and told me they were going to total my car and write me a check for not very much money, since Erin Caitlyn O’Honda is fifteen years old. I talked to the guy at the body shop where she presently is, and he said it would be several thousand dollars more to fix her than the check I am going to get, so it looks like I may be getting a new car. Stay tuned.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

True Story: Missing the Skiing Trips

Sorry for the lack of blogging yesterday. It was a very busy day full of subscription renewals at work, then Irish class, and then when I got home, instead of blogging on a computer with a dysfunctional A key, I just wanted to work out. Usually I dance around to the hip hop music on my iPod, but last night I actually ran in circles around the loft. It felt really good. Too bad I hate running anywhere else...

Not that I have that much to blog about, but I can share a seasonal childhood memory. (“Seasonal” in the sense of winter, so sorry if you were hoping for some romantic story about Christmas of yore.) Most of the kids at my elementary school were very well off, because their dads were doctors, so our school had an annual ski trip. My family was poor, so I couldn’t afford to go on this trip, and so I had to go to school those days with the few other poor kids. Most of them were Cambodian immigrants, so I started hanging out with them, especially a girl named Sokvouen. (Which is pronounced “So-QUEN.”) I would go over to her house, and her older sisters would dress me in traditional Cambodian clothes, which we all got a kick out of: this really blonde girl in Southeast Asian clothes. I actually learned a few words of Cambodian, especially the dirty ones, of which I only remember one. The other thing I remember is how to count to twenty in Cambodian. Sokvouen’s family moved to California (it was probably too cold in Minnesota for people who had just come from near the equator), and we sent each other a couple of letters but eventually fell out of touch. Anyway, there is no real point to this story except to say that if my family had had the wherewithal to send me skiing, I wouldn’t have been able to walk down the street and recognize the Cambodian F-word written in the snow, like I did one winter day. And so I have always been a pretty good linguist and a lousy athlete.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 8, 2014

Erin Gets Bashed in Back Again

Friday night as I was heading home from work, someone rear-ended me. At least he was contrite, not like the guy who rear-ended me three and a half years ago, who was all, “I thought you were going to turn!” This time I was turning right onto Johnson from Randall, and I don’t know if the young white guy (student?) who hit me was texting, or what his deal was, but anyway he gave me his insurance info. Erin Caitlyn O’Honda is fifteen years old, so I’m guessing this guy’s insurance is going to total her and give me a check not big enough to pay for either her repairs or her replacement. And I only have liability, so it will probably be up to me to foot most of the bill. Bummer.

Saturday morning Travalon and I went to the Heritage Café on the east side, then we drove to Zimbrick to see if they could fix Erin. Her trunk wouldn’t open at home, but then it popped open on the road, so that was a little disconcerting. Anyway, we got there safely, and they sent us to the rental car place to get a cute little white Hyundai which I have been driving since then. I also went to the DMV to get a new driver’s license, but apparently they are not open on Saturdays. I could have sworn they used to be… In the evening we met Jilly Moose and OK Cap at the Nau-Ti-Gal for dinner, since Catzookz had given Travalon a $10 off coupon for his birthday. It was a slow night, so the waitresses were very attentive. OK Cap had to work at 6 am (yawn!) the next morning, so she missed that horrible game. Richard Bonomo, Luxuli, and Prairie Man joined Jilly Moose at our place to watch that travesty. How could the Badgers lose 59-0 to Ohio State?? It was like we had no offense OR defense! People speculated that they were paid to throw the game, they were out too late partying the night before, someone cursed them, etc., but we may never know how this came to pass. Surprisingly, they managed to get into a bowl game, and it isn’t even the Toilet Bowl, which is where they belong after that performance.

Sunday Travalon and I overslept, so we went to a coffeehouse in Waunakee and then 10:30 Mass at their church up there. It’s a big, suburban church full of families. Then we went to a fundraiser at the Roxbury Tavern for the owner, who had a stroke and can’t pay all his medical bills. Light Bright played with another member of her band, and they were so, so good. Then I went with Rich and Kathbert to the all-University choirs’ Christmas Concert at Lutheran Cathedral of the West while Travalon went to the dog park with Rodney. Music in German and Latin isn’t really his thing. He did come to Rich’s house for some tea later, and then while we were driving home we saw about sixteen cop cars chasing one guy. We found out later he was black – and drunk – but fortunately the cops did not shoot him. It seemed kind of excessive, like there was a terrorist attack. Why would they need every cop in the city following one guy? He wasn’t even going that fast.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cashmere's Birthday Poem

Yesterday Travalon received a lovely birthday card in the mail from Ma and Pa Hat. It said they were glad Rodney threw him such a nice birthday party. Neither Travalon nor I was aware the dog was throwing birthday parties for us now, so we assume they meant Rich instead of Rodney. Anyway, it seems blogworthy.

A week ago my little bitchkin (as Hardingfele calls her) rabbit Cashmere turned nine. Age has mellowed her out a little, but she still refuses my affection most of the time, although last night I did manage to sneak up on her and grab her, so she was forced to cuddle with me. Most of the time when she sees me approaching, she runs behind her cage where I can’t reach her. As my regular readers no doubt remember, my boy bunny Charlie reached the ripe old age of nine and one half years, so I may have six more months to try to force Cashmere to love me. The only time she ever came close was at the vet’s office, when she wanted to be with me so badly that when I set her down, she leapt back into my arms - twice! Of course, being a female, Cashmere may outlive Charlie by many months, or even years. I’m not quite sure how to feel about that. Who wants a creature living in her house who despises her? You can no doubt sense my fondness for Cashmere, as evidenced by the fact that I completely forgot her birthday last Friday. Here is a little poem to make up for that oversight.

Happy birthday to my favorite bunny
Who happens to still be alive.
You can be a real honey
When you want a treat, or maybe five.
You are always happy to see me
When I have a banana to share.
Other times, not so much,
And when we’re cleaning your cage, beware!
It seems like only yesterday
You were a young rabbit, leaping about,
But now, after countless bales of hay,
You’re slower but just as much of a lout.
Perhaps I’ll never win your affection,
But you were good to Charlie when he was around,
And if I ever pass your inspection,
Cuddling you is where I’ll be found.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Defeat at the Hands of the Blue Devils

I realized today that I completely forgot Cashmere’s birthday last Friday, when I was busy posting a tirade about racism. Perhaps tomorrow I will rectify that and post a birthday poem to her. It’s useless actually doing anything for her; she just runs away when I come toward her. Unlike Charlie, who LOVED his ninth birthday party, she doesn't want any commemoration of reaching this milestone.

Last night Travalon, the Other Couple, and I met at some sort of VIP thing at the Kohl Center before the big game. There were all sorts of hors d’oeuvres, like tiny quiches and bacon-wrapped shrimp (oh my golly, it’s as wonderful as it sounds), and lovely raspberry-and-dark chocolate chip bars. From up there Madtown looks like a booming metropolis, with all the tall buildings lit up around it. I think they’re mostly freshman dorms, but they still look impressive, like you’re in downtown Chi-town or something. The female half of the Other Couple took photos of us and posted them to MyFace. Then we watched the game, which was actually quite a lot of fun. Lots of pomp and pageantry, like three kinds of cheerleader type girls, and some members of the football team came out to show off the Paul Bunyan axe they won against the Golden Gophers last weekend. The halftime entertainment was a very flexible girl named Stephanie who stood on her hands and shot a bow with her feet, hitting the bull’s eye on a target. The game itself was quite close at first… and then it wasn’t. We kept missing shots, while Duke was on fire. They were getting everything in. Prairie Man must be ecstatic, since he was rooting for the Blue Devils. But that’s the danger of a Big Game: the whole reason it is such a big deal is because you are playing a worthy opponent, which means there is a good chance they could beat you. And in this case they sure did, by ten points. Still, it was a lot of fun. I guess I do like basketball, at least live, although it doesn’t seem to have as much strategy as football, but that could be my lack of knowledge.

Travalon and I also had free passes for the parking garage next door, which was handy before the game, but afterwards we were stuck for half an hour while everyone poured out of there. We got home close to midnight, and I kind of overslept a little this morning. I was having a dream where Travalon and I were taking Croatian, or actually some ancestral language like Old Church Slavonic, and we were studying verb conjugations. In my dream they had not just the first, second, and third person singular and plural, but a special form of the verb meaning everyone. You know… I go, you go, he goes, we go, you guys go, they go, EVERYONE GOES! Then I asked about the subjunctive, and the teacher said she wasn’t going to teach us that yet, but then she realized she had accidentally given us that form in an example sentence. The A changed to an E, but I think my subconscious mind stole that right from Spanish. This is undoubtedly influenced by my Irish class, where we are learning the present, past, and future of common irregular verbs, and I keep forgetting to ask if they have a special subjunctive form. Leave it to me to have nerdy linguistic dreams. 

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Still Alive

Just a quick post to let my readers know I’m still alive and very well, just extremely busy. At work we are getting the renewals for our journals, and it seems like I’m never home. Monday night of course we went out for Travalon’s birthday, to Red Lobster, and last night after Irish class we went to Liliana’s for their New Orleans tasting menu. Then tonight I’m missing band practice for the Duke game. Good thing I’ve taken a break from the OTHER choir this semester, because Thursday will be my only evening at home to recharge. I’ll try to think of something more clever to blog about later this week, but between stuffing it full of new Irish vocabulary and taxing it to figure out mysterious renewal requests, my brain needs a vacation tonight. Luckily watching basketball doesn’t take too much brain power.

Famous Hat 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Birthday, Travalon!

Friday evening Travalon and I went to a fish fry with another couple I have never mentioned on this blog, but we are also going to the Wisconsin vs. Duke game with them on Wednesday, so I suppose they do need a way to be referred to. For now I’ll call them The Other Couple. I suppose my regular readers are saying to themselves, “Famous Hat, when did you get to be such a basketball fan?” The answer is that I am not a huge basketball fan, but neither is the female half of the Other Couple, so this is simply a double date doing what the men want to do. I feel a little guilty, knowing Prairie Man and several others I know would love to be at this game, so I’ll try really hard to enjoy it for their sakes.

Saturday morning Travalon and I met Mama Step at the Manna Café for brunch. She wants to have a viewing party for the first episode of the new season of Downton Abbey, but guess who hasn’t seen a single episode of it yet? Looks like I may have to do some remedial viewing between now and then. Travalon kind of wanted to go to the Badger football game, and the weather was actually quite warm (at least compared to what it’s been), but we decided to just take Rodney for a romp at the dog park and then watch part of the game at the Wauna-Bowl. We were going to head to Country Springs, where Travalon had earned a free night in an executive suite with a whirlpool by trying all the martinis in their Martini Club, but we ended up watching the rest of the game. By the time we got to Country Springs, there wasn’t much time left to enjoy the water park, so we didn’t do that (since it costs extra). Instead, we went through the Christmas light display, which was very cool. The whirlpool in our room was great, but the water was kind of lukewarm.

Sunday we’d been planning to go to Mass in Pewaukee, but we got going in time to grab some coffee and head home to walk Rodney before the 11 am Mass just down the road from us. (We have gone to the 9 am Mass there a couple of times when running too late to get to our parish downtown.) Then we watched the excellent Packers game. Can you believe we (barely) beat Tom Brady and the Patriots? Luxuli and Prairie Man were actually at the game, lucky ducks. In the evening Rich threw a birthday party for Travalon (whose actual birthday is today), and Kathbert, Jilly Moose, Catzookz, Cecil Markovitch, and both B-Boys came. Rich made lasagna and actually got two cakes, a turtle cheesecake and a gluten-free chocolate cake. Travalon enjoyed his birthday party; he says he hasn’t had one since fifth grade. Now that he’s part of our gang, that has all changed – we love having parties for any reason, and birthdays are a really good excuse.

Happy birthday, Travalon!

Famous Hat

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Failure of Empathy

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard something about the issues in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. The story seems to have brought out a really racist edge in some people, which in my opinion stems from a total lack of empathy, or being able to put yourself in the place of someone else. I am not justifying the looters, who are just opportunistic thugs, but if you can’t understand the anger of the black community then try to imagine you are a person with no power. Everywhere you go, you have to prove yourself to be worthy of the same consideration as other people who have the power and don’t have to prove themselves. So, for example, you could be walking down the street and a person in power could stop you and demand to know what you are doing, and he could even shoot you and get away with it because you are assumed to be an aggressor. Say this happens all the time, wouldn’t you be angry at the group that has the power and assumes the worst about you? Then it becomes a vicious cycle, because people who feel like the game is rigged against them stop playing by the rules, and then the people who rigged the game say, “See? I told you they were no good!”

The most vivid experience I had of being an oppressor was when I was twelve and was playing Monopoly with a friend who was not very good at math. I kept giving her less money and myself more money than the rules dictated, and she couldn’t figure out why I was doing so much better than she was. Of course she lost interest in the game, and there was some part of me (I guess my conscience) that said, “Psst! You are being a tremendous jerk!” so we stopped playing Monopoly and went on to do something else. But imagine if it had been something more than a game, and she couldn’t have said, “I’m going to go home if we keep playing this stupid game!” What if she hadn’t had a way to get out of my clutches, and I hadn’t cared about how evil I was being? What I am trying to say is that we who are in power in this country (whites but especially wealthy whites) have to take a look at how we are running the system and ask ourselves if we are really being fair. Of course the playing field looks even to someone who is white, male, above average in height and intelligence, and good-looking to boot. They don’t even see how much further ahead they have started than the rest of us, and I would say that in this country being black is the biggest disadvantage you can have. That is just not fair. When the game really is played with the same rules applied to everyone, then you can say people who refuse to play by the rules are worthy of disdain. But you cannot expect people to abide by the rules when they can see perfectly well that those rules are applied differently to them than to other people. 

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all my readers (all 5.6 of you) a Happy Thanksgiving! Tomorrow we will have an early dinner (or, as I like to call it, “lunch”) at my mother-in-law’s house at 11:30. She requested that Travalon and I bring a dessert, so tonight I will make a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin. Then in the afternoon we will be going to Richard Bonomo’s house, where I have provided the turkey but Rich will cook it. No need to bring a dessert to that gathering; one of the regulars always brings several, and his are renowned for their deliciousness. The turkey I acquired is from the university’s Poultry Club, so it may not have been the most cost-effective bird on the market, but at least the money is going to a good cause. I always bring the turkey, ever since eons ago when I worked in the private sector and they gave us a free one every year. Being a fundamentally lazy person, I am happy to acquire a turkey for the group as long as I am not required to do anything to it other than consume it. True story: one year back in graduate school I invited Ma and Pa Hat to my apartment, hoping to learn from Ma Hat how to prepare the turkey. She basically shooed me out of the kitchen, so that gives you some idea of how handy I am in that room of the house. Fortunately I now have a wonderful husband to cook me dinner, although I actually did make dinner for us last Thursday, and we survived the experience. I made chicken, potatoes, and kale with cheese on it.

Perhaps it’s best that tomorrow is a holiday, so that I won’t have time to look at MyFace. I just posted a couple of perhaps controversial things on there, a post about how Madison’s finest seem to pull over people for being black 100% of the time, judging by my personal observations, and then a reposting of Stephen Colbert saying how his great-grandfather didn’t come from Ireland to live in a country overrun by immigrants. I added that we could help solve the illegal immigration problem by making it not so nearly impossible to be a legal immigrant. It will be interesting to see what kind of comments I get! Hopefully Madison’s finest don’t take me to court, like the police did to a guy in a smaller town around here for posting his observations of their racism on MyFace. He did win that case, so I probably would too – we do have freedom of speech in this country – but it will be interesting to see if the cops harass me for stating a simple observation made over the last six months.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bogus Journal Accepts "Appropriate" Article

Yesterday my boss sent us all this link to a story about a paper accepted for publication in an open-access journal. For those of you who do not deal with academic journals regularly (unlike Lute Player, who has already presented about this article to her students), there are a whole bunch of them out there with technical-sounding names that will publish anything for a fee. For example, the journal in this story is called International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, and they solicited the "author" (who did not actually write the submitted paper) to submit a paper. The paper submitted is called “Get Me Off Your F—king Mailing List,” and the body of the text is simply that same phrase, over and over. There are two graphs labeled with the same statement (but – and this is a big failing for an academic paper – not referenced in the body of the text), and there are two references. The person who submitted this paper was surprised enough to have it accepted for publication, but he was even more surprised by the reviewer report, which stated that the paper’s appropriateness for the journal was “excellent.” It did say it was accepted with some minor changes, but those are not spelled out. Perhaps they wanted “f—king” changed to “fricking”? All the submitter had to do was wire $150 to a bank account in India, and he could have this obviously peer-reviewed paper published in this clearly prestigious journal. The point, of course, is that these open-access journals exist only to make a profit, and they will publish anything if you pay them. So if you are an academic and want to be published, make sure it is in a truly peer-reviewed and highly respected academic journal, and not one that won’t take you off their f—king mailing list but will publish your diatribe about it.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 24, 2014

Caffeinated Kathbert

Travalon thought it would be fun to have people come to a fish fry at Pooley’s, since it is his favorite place in town and very close to his job. The Single B-Boy, Cecil Markovitch, OK Cap, Richard Bonomo, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and another guy I’ve never mentioned on this blog all came on Friday night, and we had a great time. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time! When Luxuli brought up the name Martha Stewart, I noticed all the men suddenly got very interested in whatever was on all the big-screen TVs. That is one gender gap that will never be overcome.

Saturday my band had a gig in Spring Green, which is kind of a long way to go for a free gig but we were supposedly being paid in food. We did get tips, as it turned out, but then they charged us for the supposedly free food, so it was like $6 apiece, which barely covers gas. Hardingfele didn’t want to make a fuss about being charged for our promised “free” food because she said we might want to play there again. My question is – why? Why would we want to drive so far for a whole lot of nothing? Then Travalon and I went to Rookie’s, which is like a smaller, cozier Pooley’s with all the sports memorabilia. We watched the second half of the Badgers game there, since I’d missed the first half for that lame gig. The Badgers beat Iowa, so they really can compete in the division and not just against no-name teams.

Yesterday I was the only female at brunch. Semper Fi, who hadn’t been spotted for months, appeared and told us all about his riverboat trip from St. Louis to New Orleans. Then Travalon and I watched the Packers beat the Vikings in a hard-fought game. That Vikings QB would be dangerous if he had a halfway decent team around him. Richard Bonomo and Kathbert joined me at the old condo to check for mold and take out the toilet; Kathbert (who has the best nose in the gang) didn’t smell any mold, but she did still smell rabbit, so we ended up pulling out all the wooden strips around the edge of the floors. Travalon soon joined us with coffee for everyone except Rich, who got a hot chocolate. Kathbert says she never drinks coffee, so she got kind of wired from her small iced coffee. She was enthusiastically pulling staples out of the floor like a boss. Ironically, we didn’t end up taking out the toilet (our original goal for the day) since there is more to be done in the condo, and I don’t want to be stuck having to use the sink if I’m over there for a substantial amount of time. Afterwards I treated the crew to dinner at Jerkins, where they have a new cake pie with a layer of chocolate cake on top of a chocolate silk pie. We tried it, but it was a little too over the top for my taste. Then Travalon and I watched The Empire Strikes Back, which I hadn’t seen since childhood. It makes way more sense now. I kind of agree with Yoda that trying to train Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi seems like a colossal waste of time, so I’ll have to rewatch The Return of the Jedi to see how Luke is vindicated, since my vague memory is that he is.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Marriage Oranges

Sorry for the lack of blogging the last two days. Wednesday I was home sick, and then yesterday I was busy getting caught up from having a day off. Today it is very cold out, but I am so happy. It must be time for another oranges song. This is the “Marriage Oranges”:

I love having a lover and a friend,
I love hanging out together every weekend,
I love having someone to come home to,
And Travalon, I love you!

I love our home that we take care of together,
I love walking Rodney, even in the bad weather,
I love that you don’t mind my jungle and my zoo,
And Travalon, I love you!

I love that you clean out the rabbit’s cage,
Even when she nips at you in her bunny rage,
I love that you always do the laundry too,
And Travalon, I love you!

I love when you cook dinner for me,
I love cooking dinner for you too, you see.
I love that you’ll eat broccoli, and kale too,
And Travalon, I love you!

I love that you don’t mind me dancing around
To hip hop music, which is not your favorite sound,
And you change the station when they play Pink Floyd, it’s true,
Oh Travalon, I love you!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Having a "Bad at Everything" Day

Yesterday was kind of a bummer day for me. A cleaning team came to clean my old condo, and they thought it was the messiest place they had ever seen. Now I am not a neat freak, but surely I am not the messiest person ever…? But that’s what got me down – maybe I am! Then a coworker gave me a stern talking-to about my parking job. See, when the person I replaced retired, she left me her parking spot under the building, which is wonderful because Erin Caitlin O’Honda is protected from the elements. However, the parking spaces under the building seem narrower than the ones in the lot, where I had been parking, and I was right on the line. Technically I was still in my space, but he had a point, that I hadn’t left him much room. So then I was feeling really down, like I am the world’s worst housekeeper and car parker… and then the cleaning crew said they found mold in my old condo, so now instead of just getting it painted and recarpeted, I have to do something about that potential health hazard. And here I’d thought the condo might be ready for sale by the end of the month! Fortunately Slow Food was fun; one of the regulars brought her husband, who is a retired professor of theater, and both Rich and Luxuli were able to make it. Afterwards the three of us stopped briefly at a coffeehouse, so I brought Travalon a cookie from there to apologize for abandoning him for so long. Tonight I’m coming home late again because of Irish class, so add Wife to the category of things I am subpar at. At least I am better than average at learning Irish, or so they told me last week. But of course I failed to study since then…

Famous Hat

Monday, November 17, 2014

Midwinter in Mid-November

Sorry no poem on Friday – I was frantically trying to get things done before the weekend. In the evening OK Cap and I met at the chocolate shop for hot chocolate while we waited for our table at Café Porta Alba, which I believe means Café White Door in Italian, although the door is clear glass, not white. Soon after we were seated, Luxuli joined us, and eventually Travalon did too. He said he got to drive a red Camaro at work! How cool is that? Because he is so tall, he had to put the seat down almost to the floor in order to fit into it. We had amazing cappuccinos after dinner, even if they were decaf in deference to the late hour, but then everything at Café Porta Alba is good. 

Saturday Travalon and I went to the coffee shop near our house, and they gave us a free hot cocoa they had made by accident, so we called Richard Bonomo, since that’s what he always drinks. He came and joined us for a while, then he left and we took Rodney to the dog park, but it was freezing out. Our furnace was not working right, and our cable and internet were out, so we had to go somewhere to watch the Badgers football game. We went to the Great Dane on the east side… but they had had a kitchen fire and weren’t really open. We went to the East Side Club, but apparently their winter bar has not started up yet, even though winter clearly has. We ended up at the Next Door Brewery to see the excellent game; the Badgers really beat up on Nebraska, and they’re a decent team. We’re sick of seeing the Badgers decimate what Travalon calls “cupcake teams,” but maybe they are the real deal and deserve their ranking in the Big Ten. They didn’t do very well against LSU earlier this year… It was snowing so hard that we just stayed in the rest of the evening and watched movies. How can it be midwinter when it is only mid-November??

Sunday after Mass and brunch, Travalon went to a Badgers basketball game while I hung out with Rich, then we headed home in time to meet the cable guy. He fixed our cable so we could watch the Packers game at home, and our furnace seems to be working again. Travalon really wanted to go to a nearby bar called the Willows, so we went there at halftime and were soon joined by OK Cap. Afterwards we went to Rich’s house for dinner with Kathbert, Cecil Markovitch, and Rich’s next door neighbor. We brought a frozen yogurt pumpkin pie from that coffee shop by our house, and it was really good. But you know me – I like pumpkin anything. I bought a really cute pumpkin at Trader Joe’s the other day, and now I have to decide whether to just cook it and eat it for dinner some night or to save it and make it into a pie for Thanksgiving.

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Public Service Announcement: Renaming Folders You Don't Use

Today my church choir sang at the funeral of a parishioner who had been 94 but looked about 65. He was a mailman for years, so maybe all that walking around kept him young. Then I came back to work and had a terrible shock: the folder containing all the documents explaining how to do the new part of my job had disappeared! At first I was afraid someone had deleted it entirely, but a coworker found it with a new name. At least it still existed, but all my shortcuts and links within documents to other documents were broken, so I just re-renamed it to its original name. Eventually I discovered who the culprit was, and ironically it was a coworker who had had the same thing done to her about a month ago, so you’d think she would know better. I guess it’s just too easy to think a folder you don’t use yourself could have a more descriptive name without thinking of the ramifications for the people who actually use the documents within that folder. So I beg you, gentle readers, do NOT rename folders that are not yours without asking around. This has been a Famous Hat public service announcement.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

National University Press Week Potluck

This morning I was very sad about something, and Rodney must have sensed it because he came up to me and cuddled against me. Travalon was home (he has Wednesdays off) so it wasn’t just that Rodney was lonely. They say dogs are very astute at picking up our emotions, which does seem to be true because when I am really happy, Rodney will come up to me and act all playful. He is a refreshing breath of air compared to Cashmere the rabbit, who was letting me snuggle her every evening for about a week but has now decided to hide behind her cage every time I come to get her.

This week is National University Press Week, so we decided to have a potluck at work today to celebrate. Actually, we really decided to have a potluck because the people downstairs had one last week and the food smelled so good that it was driving us nuts. The “holiday” was just a convenient excuse to have one. I hadn’t had time to prepare anything since Travalon and I went to Liliana’s last night to celebrate our six-month anniversary, so I went to Trader Joe’s this morning and picked up pear cider and mini pizzas. I got two boxes of the mini pizzas and people only ate one box worth, so it looks like I’ll be having leftovers. That’s OK, I enjoyed them more than anyone else seemed to. Handy Woman made pumpkin curry soup, and there were a couple of fresh baked bread loaves and a couple of salads. Someone brought dark chocolate bark with pistachios and chili powder in it from New Mexico. Some people thought the potluck was so great that we should do one every month, but another coworker echoed my thoughts when he groaned, “Oh Hell’s bells, no!” I never know what to bring to potlucks, and having to think of something every single month is going to overtax my brain. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Impossible Tasks: Picking a Top Ten in Music

Yesterday was exactly six months since Travalon and I got married – wow, does time fly by! In some ways it seems like a very long time ago, and yet it seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. He gave me a salsa CD to mark the occasion, and I gave him a genuine autograph from John Lennon I got on eBay, but we didn’t go out last night. We will do that tonight, at Liliana’s, after my Irish class.

Travalon and a couple of his friends were coming up with their Top Ten list of songs, and I said I could come up with a Top Ten in several genres, but he said it had to be ten altogether. If you could only listen to ten songs ever again, what would you choose? Travalon and Light Bright guessed they probably couldn’t pronounce half the songs on my list if I ever came up with one. What, I ask you, is so hard about pronouncing “Das Neugeborne Kindelein” by Dietrich Buxtehude? Or “Marcando la Distancia” by Manolito y Su Trabuco? And is it weird that my spell check recognizes the words Buxtehude and Trabuco? It’s like this morning, when Handy Woman overslept and sent our coworker a text, but her phone autocorrected “overslept,” so her text said, “Sorry, I overseas – will be in soon.” Our coworker said she hoped she had a good trip back. Which really has nothing to do with my Top Ten list, but I am wondering about things like concertos – does each movement count as a separate selection, or can you include the entire concerto? And of course there’s Handel’s “Messiah.” Could you put the entire oratorio on your list, or would you have to limit it to one chorus, like “And He Shall Purify,” which is one of my favorites? This wasn’t as much of an issue for Travalon and his friends, who were just comparing classic rock songs, but it becomes a relevant question when you discuss other genres of music. I guess to be fair you’d have to limit selections to movements, which are often about three minutes long, just like your standard rock ditty. No fair putting a three-hour piece of music on the list. The one thing I can say for sure is my list would have to include something by Vivaldi and something by Earth, Wind, and Fire, so let’s start mine off with “Concerto in A Minor for Four Violins” and “Let’s Groove.” Maybe someday I’ll manage to limit myself to another eight pieces of music. 

Famous Hat

Monday, November 10, 2014

Old Condo: Almost Ready

Friday night Travalon went to the Waunakee football game, and they won so they are going to State for the fifth time in seven years. Sounds like they have a dynasty going! I preferred the warmth of Richard Bonomo’s house, where he served salmon with almond slices to Kathbert and me. He also had amazing ratatouille that someone else had made. Once again we stayed way too late having nerdy conversation.

Saturday the Rosary Ladies got together for coffee and the rosary, but I forgot my key to the church library, so we had to pray in the church hall. That’s the second time I’d forgotten my keys in less than a week; the first time is what triggered Travalon’s little poem to me. It had been a beautiful morning, but by the time Travalon and I drove with Rodney to Horicon Marsh, the sun had gone behind the clouds and the wind was biting. We walked along the boardwalk and saw flocks of geese and herons flying overhead, plus lots of coots swimming around in the marsh. It was very loud with all the bird calls. When we returned home, Catzookz asked if we wanted to see Big Hero 6 with her, Twins Fan, and another friend of theirs. All I can say is, I LOVE this movie, especially the cuddly healthcare providing robot BayMax. We saw it in 3-D, which was really cool. There was also an adorable short beforehand about a puppy and his owner with no words in it at all.

Sunday Travalon and I took Rodney to the dog park to enjoy the beautiful day, then we got to work with Rich and tore all the carpeting out of my old condo. It is now ready to be deep cleaned, painted and recarpeted… and then I can put it on the market! Yay! Hopefully it sells quickly, even if this isn’t the best time of year to be selling property. It’s a pretty good deal, if you know anyone looking for a small condo. It has an outdoor pool and an underground parking space. I was very happy living there for almost eight years, but our new condo is way cooler. The plants really appreciate the solarium. We treated Rich to dinner at a Mexican restaurant to thank him for his help, then we went home and watched the Packers absolutely decimate the Bears. Travalon was even rooting for the Bears to get a touchdown, it was so ridiculous. Normally I would feel bad for the other team, but it’s the Bears. Tiffy and I were texting each other during the game, and I laughed so hard when she texted: “Los Osos pobres… que lastima.” For those of you unfamiliar with Spanish, that means: “Poor Bears – that hurts.” I texted, “Maith galore,” which is Irish for “Very good” and is pronounced Ma Galore. (Our teacher says it every time we manage to say something correctly in Irish.) Galore means the same thing in Irish that it does in English because in fact it is a direct borrowing from Irish. There’s your linguistics lesson for the day.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 7, 2014

Doggy Blues

Travalon has started his new job, and so far he loves it. He works for a rental car company, and he gets to drive lots of nice, new cars around. He also has to vacuum them out, but hey, that’s moving around. One of my coworkers said the other day that sitting is the new smoking as far as things that are bad for your health, and all I do all day is sit. Some of my coworkers have standing desks, so I’m thinking of trying that out.

The one whose life is most impacted by Travalon’s new job is his poodle, Rodney. Since Travalon’s job starts earlier than mine, Rodney and I both stay in bed while he is getting ready. Then when I get up, Rodney wants to go out, and when I get home, he wants to go out. He is so ecstatic to have company that he gives my face a bath with his tongue. Poor puppy, all alone except for Cashmere the Unfriendly and Superannuated Rabbit. She is looking very old and frail these days, but then again she will be nine at the end of this month. The 28th, if you want to mark your calendars.

This is a little poem for Rodney. It probably won’t make him feel any better about getting left home alone, but I feel his pain.

Daddy left me but Step-Mom’s here.
Wait, is she going out the door??
Take me with you, please please please!
I can’t stand being alone anymore!
Time is passing, I’m so lonely,
Nobody here but that lagomorph,
And she isn’t very friendly,
Which they say is normal for a Poland dwarf.
Someone’s at the door!! Is it my daddy??
No, it’s Step-Mom, almost as good!!
Now she’s taking me out for a walk
All around our neighborhood.
I love to have a human with me
As I sniff around where the hostas grow
And find the perfect spot to pee on –
Here! This one! I gotta go!

Travalon’s a poet too. When I said something about being so lame because of something I did or didn’t do, he said, “You may be lame, but I love you just the same.” Awww!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Voting Day... and Night

Last night Travalon and I had a most romantic dinner at Liliana’s, a restaurant in Fitchburg that always has a themed menu on Tuesday nights to draw people in. Last night the theme was voting. (Did you vote? I hope so! I won’t comment on the results because half the people I know are elated and half are dejected.) For the first course, we had scallops prepared two different ways, one seared with bacon and one crudo with truffle and fleur de sel. For the main course we had two different steaks, a charred sirloin with piquillo pepper coulis and new potato smash vs. a chicken fried steak with pecan crusted green beans, garlic potato smash, and black pepper gravy. For dessert we had chocolate mousse with strawberries and a chocolate ganache cake with bourbon caramel. Then we got to vote on which choice we preferred for each course. Travalon and I agreed on the first course (the seared scallops with bacon) and the main course (the charred sirloin), but we split on the dessert: he liked the mousse and I preferred the cake. Today I see on Liliana’s MyFace page that the seared scallops, charred steak (by one vote) and the ganache cake won. There was also live music, a jazz trio taking requests so I asked for “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to.” They were really good. It was such a wonderful night, and the two college-age bartenders were so friendly and attentive. They made a mean gin fizz. Sometimes you just have to go out on a Tuesday night and have a fancy dinner. Of course, most Tuesdays I have Irish class, but our teacher canceled it this week because that was the only time she would get to vote.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Random Tuesday Post

It’s only Tuesday and I already have nothing to blog about. Today was my first official day doing both the bookkeeping and the customer service positions, and it seemed to go smoothly. Mostly I was busy with the usual month-end reconciliation stuff. Yesterday a bunch of us went out to lunch to celebrate my coworker’s retirement, and then we came back and had cake. We gave her a gift card to Kohl’s, and she loved it. Did I mention on here that I got a gift card to Kohl’s for 10% of the value of my wedding registry? I didn’t even realize they did that, so that was an awesome bonus. Light Bright went with me and helped me spend it, then we went to the new Nordstrom’s Rack and she found an outfit. I looked at their shoes, but they were ridiculously expensive. Sometimes I think I should wear more stylish shoes, but sneakers are just so comfortable. Do I have to turn in my lady card for not being more into shoes? In my youth I was a girly girl, but now it just seems like too much effort. The good news is we got my old condo emptied out, so it should be on the market soon. First it needs new carpeting – those rabbits really did a number on it! Soon it should be beautiful, and hopefully some grad student will be ecstatic to buy a one-bedroom condo for under $80K. Here’s hoping it sells quickly!

Famous Hat

Monday, November 3, 2014

Japanese-Themed Halloween Party

Halloween evening Rich’s Japanese houseguest threw a dinner party to thank Rich for putting him and his colleague up while they were in town. Kathbert, Handy Woman, Luxuli, and Prairie Man were there as well as some other Japanese folks. I came early and handed out candy to Trick or Treaters; the cutest costume I saw was a little shark. Travalon came later with Rodney, who was not dressed in a costume but in a little doggy sweater. We had some great stuff, like Japanese curry and Kit Kat bars that are green tea-flavored instead of chocolate, and some wonderful green tea to wash it all down.

Saturday Travalon and I drove to Columbus with Rodney and went for a walk at Astico County Park, then we had dinner at the Nau-Ti-Gal. I guess that doesn’t make for very exciting reading on the blog, but it was a lot of fun to do. Our waiter thought we were crazy because we sat on the same side of the table instead of across from each other.

Yesterday after Mass and brunch, Travalon and I went to the zoo. Rich, Kathbert, and I used to spend many a Sunday afternoon at the zoo back when Rich lived mere blocks away, but I hadn’t been recently. They are building a big Arctic exhibit so half the zoo seems to be blocked for construction. Travalon likes the snake house, which doesn’t interest me too much, and we also went into the primate house, which I tend to avoid. Monkeys stink and are kind of creepy, in my opinion, but they did have ring-tail lemurs in there, and Travalon loves those. They are cute, a lot cuter than monkeys. We stopped at the ZuZu Café for pumpkin lattes afterwards. Got to exploit Pumpkin Spice Season while it is still here! When exactly does it end? Probably right after Thanksgiving, when everyone will switch over to Christmas flavors. If only they waited that long to switch over store displays and music…

Famous Hat

Friday, October 31, 2014


My two most prolific commenters, Travalon and Hardingfele, have recently stopped commenting because of technical issues. Travalon can’t write a comment with an A in it because the A key on his computer stopped working. Hardingfele says every times she tries to log in to comment, somehow she is logged in as Rockstar Tailor, and she doesn’t know how to change it. So I am taking the liberty of writing comments for them:

Hardingfele (logged in as Rockstar Tailor): Food, beer, food. I’m getting fat just reading about it. If your lip balm smells funny to you, you’re probably pregnant.

Travalon: IP@s do have the best nmes, but they relly hve a bite. I’m looking forwrd to trying tht Squirrel Chser @le! The br in Merrill is clled Humphrey’s Br, it used to hve nother nme before that. The tile floor ws very cool nd historic.

Richard Bonomo, it's down to you. So far as I know, you don't have any technical challenges to keep you from commenting.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Squirrel Chaser Ale

Yesterday I did not actually have Culver’s Pumpkin Pecan frozen custard, because I’d already had a couple of the bagels I brought to work, a couple of the chocolate caramel bars Handy Woman made, and a piece of the chocolate cake that the birthday “girl" brought to work. She is retiring next week, and I am taking over her job in addition to my own, which is why I’m singing the Gettin’ Paid Oranges.

Can lip balm go bad? Mine smells really weird underneath the expected peppermint aroma. I hadn’t had to use it in months, but unfortunately Chapped Lip Season is upon us again. Could it have turned against me in the interim?

I don’t have anything to say, but that never stopped me before. The only news in my life is that I entered a contest to name a new nut brown ale brewed by a local brewery. All proceeds from the sale of the ale will go to the Humane Society, so the theme of the name was supposed to be something pet-related. I submitted All Creatures Ale (an idea I stole from that song “All Things Bright and Beautiful”), but the winner was Squirrel Chaser Ale. Reminds me of the dogs from the movie Up, which is a fantastic movie if you haven’t ever seen it. Squirrel! The winner got a $20 gift card to a local pet store. Sweet! Travalon and I will have to try Squirrel Chaser Ale once it comes out, and I will report back to you, my 5.6 faithful readers, about how wonderful it does or does not taste. It’s hard to go wrong with a nut brown ale. Travalon does not like IPAs, but they always have the cleverest names so he is tempted to try them. It’s about time a nut brown ale had a clever name!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Decorative Gourd Season on McSweeney's

My horrible former job seemed to inspire me to creative heights. Is being unhappy conducive to creativity? And everyone else seems so much more creative than I currently am, like the people who write for McSweeney’s. Check out this poetry joke I shamelessly stole off their website:

Milton, Homer, and Borges walk into a bar. Milton says, “What the f—k is this bar doing here?”

That one made me laugh so hard that a coworker asked what was going on. Of course, maybe that joke is only funny if you know they are all blind poets, so it could be lost on a lot of people. McSweeney’s most popular post is one called: “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherf—kers,” a title so amazing that they now sell mugs emblazoned with it. My most popular post is “Spamarama,” a post about some spam Hardingfele received, and her response to it. Considering that almost the entire post was written by a spammer and Hardingfele, it doesn’t make me feel like people are appreciating my writing, but then my writing is not as good as the stuff on McSweeney’s. Could it be because I am so easily distracted? Hold on – I just got a text from Travalon:

ALERT: Pumpkin Pecan, flavor of the day at Culvers.

Sorry, I have to go. We can continue this discussion later.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 27, 2014

Return to Rib Mountain

It is a beautiful day out, and unfortunately I’ve had to spend it inside. Fortunately, I spent most of this weekend outside, except Friday night. A bunch of us went to hear the Westminster Abbey choir perform at the Overture Center, then Cecil Markovitch, Kathbert, Mr. N’Awlins, Luxuli, Prairie Man, The Dairyman’s Daughter, Richard Bonomo, and I went to a new Italian restaurant nearby for drinks and dessert. Meanwhile, Travalon was watching high school football, so he got to enjoy the beautiful weather. Saturday he and I went to Wausau and climbed the top half of Rib Mountain, then we hiked all over the top. As my longtime readers may be aware, this is the location of the photo of Famous Hat on this very blog, and I hadn't been back since so it was wonderful to return. We had Rodney with us, and he had no trouble keeping up. Then we went to Merrill and yet another tavern in the book, as well as Council Grounds State Park, a beautiful park set along the river. We even went to the Great Dane in Wausau, and I had a salad and a side of broccoli for dinner. Our waitress probably thought I was super healthy, but she didn’t know about the pumpkin malt and half a blueberry pastry right before that!

Sunday was National Pumpkin Day, so Travalon and I had pumpkin pancakes at brunch, then we got pumpkin lattes before heading out to hike on the Ice Age Trail with Rodney. After hiking we went to the dog park so Rodney could hang out with other dogs, like a pitbull who is even older than he is and a lab/golden retriever mix with thyroid issues. The cute little Westie wasn’t there that day. We went to the café at Barnes and Nobles and split a slice of pumpkin cheesecake and a pumpkin cupcake, and then we went to Rich’s house for a healthy dinner of chicken and peppers over brown rice and spaghetti squash. There was dessert, but it contained chocolate, not pumpkin. I did have pumpkin spice tea to wash it down. We watched the game, and the first half was close, but then the Packers fell apart. At least they lost to the Saints (my second favorite team) and not the Bears. That would have been tragic.

Just wanted to note that Travalon thought of the title for this blog post. His other suggestion was Woolly Bear Weekend, because we saw five woolly bears, including one on our garage. They all seemed to suggest it will be an average winter.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Gettin' Paid Oranges

If the opposite of blue is orange, then it only stands to reason that the opposite of the blues is the oranges. This is my oranges song about a wonderful piece of news I received yesterday.

I’m getting paid now, getting paid more,
Said I’m getting paid now, getting paid more
Than I ever did get paid before.

Getting a raise, yeah, effective real soon,
Said I’m getting a raise, yeah, effective real soon.
In November, I’m singing a new tune.

This is the biggest raise I ever had,
You know this is the biggest raise I ever had,
And I just have to sing about it because I’m so glad.

Got the Getting’ Paid Oranges, just singing all the time.
Said I got the Getting’ Paid Oranges, just singing all the time.
Only problem with oranges is there’s nothing that does rhyme.

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 23, 2014

B-Boy B-Day

Tuesday evening there were four other people at my second Irish class, including someone from Pakistan, but we didn’t do introductions so I can’t explain her interest in the language. (We did learn how to ask where a person is from, so that’s how I know her point of origin.) Maybe pure linguistic curiosity? Then I hurried to the Old Fashioned to join the single B-Boy for his second birthday party, since we had one for him on Sunday. I was the only double-X chromosome there; Travalon, Cecil Markovitch, Prairie Man, and Richard Bonomo were the other attendees. The B-Boy hadn’t known we were going to do this, so he had already eaten and resisted Cecil’s attempts to get him to order more food than a cup of beer cheese soup, garnished with popcorn. I had a pumpkin beer, of course. Remember that Sunday is National Pumpkin Day! I plan to celebrate by indulging in lots of pumpkin-flavored food and drink. It was very loud in the Old Fashioned, so conversing was somewhat difficult. Cecil tore up his receipt and made confetti to dump over the B-Boy’s head, then he left so the B-Boy had to clean it up himself. Happy Birthday! On Sunday Cecil had given him more serious gifts than usual, a book and a DVD about St. Francis, so I thought maybe he was mellowing with age. However, that confetti trick proves he is still his usual mischievous self, thank goodness.

Famous Hat 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall Colors in North Dakota

Anna Banana II sent some beautiful shots of the fall colors up in North Dakota, and she said I could post them on this blog. Here is what she says about them: "Here are some fall from around our area. The first three pictures were taken about a mile away from where we live. The other pictures are taken from lookout points about 12 miles from our house."

Who knew North Dakota was so beautiful?

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sock Puppet in Swimsuit

Here is a story that Light Bright said I had to blog about: recently Travalon and I were at the health club swimming pool when a Sock Puppet suddenly arrived on the scene. How awkward to see each other in our swimsuits! This particular Sock Puppet was demanding but did give generous Christmas gifts. I asked him how life was back in our old department, and he is semi-retired now but still complaining about another Sock Puppet. (To me, they were all equally despotic; the ones who weren’t, I don’t consider Sock Puppets.) Maybe I blogged about how these two particular Sock Puppets were fighting over the nicest corner office, but when neither one took it, a new guy moved into it. I thought that was hilarious. This Sock Puppet at least had plants and fish, so the windows wouldn’t have been wasted on him. The other one was never in his office anyway, plus he wanted to maintain another office, so really there was no point in him getting the nice office. Such was life back in my old department.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 20, 2014

Way Too Much Sugar

Happy Monday! Friday night I brought quinoa burgers to Rich’s house, and Kathbert and Jilly Moose joined us for dinner. We sat around discussing the children’s book they all say I should write, about Sydney the Red Blood Cell and her adventures with the various types of white blood cells. Jilly Moose helpfully looked them up for us, and Kathbert said if I could write a book that explains in simple language what each type of white blood cell does, children wouldn’t be the only ones reading it. Eventually Travalon and Rodney joined us because the high school football game they were watching was very lopsided and not interesting enough to watch in the cold. Rodney had just had his hair cut by a new groomer, and she gave him kind of a traditional froo-froo poodle cut. It looks funny on Rodney, who is such a man’s dog, but he seemed pleased with it, since his fur is now out of his eyes. He has very poofy ears and tail now, but at least he doesn’t have the poofs around his paws and on top of his head.

Saturday Travalon and I met with OK Cap and Jilly Moose for coffee, then the ladies came back to our place to pray a rosary. Travalon and I went on a ride with Rodney up by Lake Wisconsin to see the beautiful changing leaves, then we stopped into Capital Brewery for some seasonal beers. Dogs are allowed in the beer garden at Capital Brewery, so we like to go there with Rodney. Tiffy came to visit, and we went to dinner at a place Travalon had been wanting to try, a supper club up in Waunakee. They were very busy with a high school class reunion and an 80th birthday party, but we got seated and served right away. Back home Tiffy and I watched old, very un-PC cartoons on YouTube, as well as old clips of the Packers, like the game against the Bears in 1989 that inspired the saying: “After further review, the Bears still suck!” Tiffy pointed out that ever since she started working for her current employer, the Packers have beaten the Bears, so we wondered what would happen once she retires. Fortunately, that is many years down the road.

Yesterday at brunch we had a birthday party for someone who has never been mentioned on this blog. Did you watch the Pack demolish the Panthers? We weren’t expecting that! We thought it would be a close game. Then Tiffy and I went to a Baroque music concert and afterwards took a walk to Macha Tea House, where they gave us free cupcakes and sold us a bunch more at a discount. I brought them to Rich’s house for the birthday party for Kathbert and the single B-Boy; the Dairyman’s Daughter, Cecil Markovitch, Travalon, Miss Heartsong, the OTHER choir director, and the married B-Boy (but not his wife and daughter) also came and enjoyed Rich’s justly famous lasagna and Miss Heartsong’s delicious Greek salad. (She forgot the tomatoes, but you can bet I didn’t complain about that!) Luxuli and Prairie Man came for dessert, which was the Macha Tea House cupcakes and a black magic cake. I had waaay too much sugar yesterday! Guess I better not eat any more this week.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Movin' Out Blues

Sorry for the lack of blogging yesterday, but I was at my old condo, trying really hard to get it emptied out. I did not succeed in that venture, and because people have expressed so much delight in my silly poems, I figured it was high time to get creative again while explaining why not. This is called “The Movin’ Out Blues.”

Got so much stuff left
In my old crib
Like a broken plant cart
And a Chinese bib.
I’m making three piles:
St. Vinny’s, trash, and keep,
But the first two are small,
And the last one is deep.
Can’t get rid of that sweater,
Ma Hat
Made that.
Can’t get rid of this screw,
Who knows
Where it goes?
And this key?
Well, you see,
It might open some door
That I need to
Get into,
Or maybe not anymore.
See this pile of discs?
They all have to stay,
Which one holds my novel?
Right now I can’t say.
This little stuffed frog
Was given to me
By a person who’s gone
To the Great Beyond,
So I’m sure you can see
Why it stays in my pond.
What can I get rid of?
What can I let go?
Moving out would be simple
If I just learned to say No!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Irish Class #1

Last night was my first free Irish class (the Irish language weekend set me back $60), and to my surprise only two other people showed up to take advantage of this great opportunity. During the Irish weekend, everyone was learning Irish because it was their heritage, but in this class there is a graduate student who is learning Irish because she is getting a PhD in English literature and would like to focus on Irish literature. So highbrow! It reminds me a little of the time I took Ancient Greek in college, and the professor asked us all why we were in the class; everyone was a Classics or Art or Linguistics major, but one preternaturally perky girl said she was going to Greece that summer so she wanted to be able to understand people. The professor just kind of stared at her for a second, then he said, “You do realize they haven’t spoken the language we will be studying for 2000 years?” To her credit, she stayed in the class and seemed to thrive. Anyway, last night we learned some forms of the verb to be, which of course is irregular just like in any language. We also talked more about the eclipsing and aspirating rules, when consonants get changed because of gender or whatever is going on in the sentence. For some reason, all these rules appeal to me, but I’ve always loved grammar. I remember making up languages just to conjugate the verbs as a kid. We still are far from fluent, but we learned some basic phrases, enough to make up a conversation: “Hello. How are you? What is your name? Where do you live?” We even got assigned homework, but hopefully there are no tests! I’d love it if this class stays as fun as it was last night. It made me feel like a kid again, having simple conversations in a foreign language. They say this is one of the best ways to stave off Alzheimer’s, along with word game puzzles, and it’s just as enjoyable.

Famous Hat