Monday, June 30, 2014

Fireworks and Plant Moving

They say it takes two to tango, and Friday evening I witnessed this firsthand, going to a night of tango dancing with Handy Woman. I was not there to dance but to hear the live music, and watching the dancers, I realized there was no way I could fake my way through a tango. It looks too complex and beautiful. The music was lovely, just a guitar and flute. Handy Woman had said she and I could start playing tango music, her on the guitar and me on the violin, but after listening to this group (called Folia), she decided her guitar skills are not up to tango music. Truthfully, my violin skills may not be either…

Saturday I spent a good deal of the day sorting paperwork and clothing at my old condo. Travalon and I took down a number of bags of paper for recycling, and I filled two bags with clothes for giving away. Now I am down to a reasonable number of clothes, since I finally gave away everything that does not fit and threw away everything that is really too ratty to wear. Believe me, it was hard – I get emotionally attached to my favorite clothes! I don’t actually have that many left, so maybe this is a good excuse to go shopping, if I ever have a spare moment from readying the old condo for sale.

In the evening Jilly Moose, Richard Bonomo, Travalon, and I went to Luxuli and Prairie Man’s condo to watch Rhythm ‘n’ Booms, which this year was downtown. (Ironically for Travalon and me, we just moved within walking distance of the park where they always had it in the past.) We had a perfect view from their balcony, and the fireworks did not disappoint, with cool shapes like waterfalls, smiley faces, spirals, and stars. The music was a weird amalgamation of film scores and pop songs that mention the USA, but the fireworks did coordinate with it really well. Today at work we were all talking about how great the fireworks were, and all the cool places we got to watch them from. My dream is to watch them from a boat someday, but so far I haven’t managed that one yet.

Yesterday Botanist 53 gave me her ponytail palm, which is nearly as old as I am, and nearly as tall. My other plants are at my old condo hanging out on the balcony or in Plant World, where they seem very happy, so we haven’t moved them yet. But I didn’t want the ponytail palm to be lonely in our new condo, so I decided to bring over one of my big plants from Rich’s house. After a lovely hike at Devil’s Lake with Rodney, Travalon and I went to Rich’s house and tried to take Jolly Bob out to the car, but it has become so enormous that we aren’t entirely sure how to move it. We ended up moving Dr. Cheung, which isn’t as large and unwieldy but is very heavy, so Travalon had to carry it for me. Jolly Bob actually has a wheeled pot, so in theory it should be easier to move, except of course up the stairs. In practice, because it is so sprawling, it is going to be quite a challenge to move. Maybe I will need to borrow the pickup from Community Car to move it...

Famous Hat 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

RIP Callie 1998? - 2014

Here is Callie the Calico Cat’s obituary, written by Travalon and edited by me:

I'm not positive of Callie's actual birthday, although recent vet records list her as being 16 years old. She was acquired while still a very young kitten in 1999 at the Jefferson County Humane Society by my ex-wife as a gift for her young daughter. Callie was left at a motel outside on a leash before ending up at the shelter. Sounds very cruel on someone's part. Right away Callie warmed her way into my heart, as she was cuddly, sweet and affectionate, always wanting to be held and petted, never getting enough attention and affection.

When Rodney the poodle arrived in our household as a young puppy, a lot of attention on Callie was diverted, but she made sure she eventually got her share. She would nudge me with her head to be petted and poke me in the face with her little paw until I gave in. She was welcome in our bed, often purring while walking on top of the covers, knowing she would be petted. I wasn't allowed to get to sleep until I petted her long enough.

Callie was nocturnal and would "meow," waking us up early in the am, sometimes even at 4:30. It was a little annoying but we didn't mind too much out of love for her.

I also remember coming home after some stressful and bad days at work, feeling the need to cuddle with and pet Callie, always feeling better afterwards.

I became Callie's primary owner after my ex-wife and I got divorced; she said the reasons why were because Callie was messy (not consistently using her litter boxes - I was able to get her to improve in that dept. with advice from cat people at an animal shelter I volunteered at) and that she couldn't leave my side, she was just too attached to me to be separated from her daddy. She would meow at me when I came home from an 8-10 hr. workday, wanting attention like she was saying, "Where've you been all day?" I also acquired Rodney a few months later and it felt like I had a little family at home, with my lovable little four-legged furry kids. They were also very entertaining!!

Over the next 5-10 years, I may have given Rodney most of my attention with taking him for long walks and road trips, but Callie was always nice to come home to as well - she seemed to send a message while nudging me to be petted like she was saying " I'm still your loyal, loving kitty - don't forget about me!"

I was away from home on big trips and sometimes young women from the Hartford Vet Clinic would take care of Callie at the condo, and they always mentioned how sweet and wonderful she was. So friendly and well-behaved. Cat-loving women friends who took care of her said, "She's such a sweetie!"

Callie was significantly overweight, probably due to my overfeeding her, and lack of exercise. Kind of "Garfield-like" without the cattitude. In 2013, she lost 3.5 lbs. I thought it was just due to her age, and my feeding her less, but on a vet check-up in spring of 2014, the significant weight loss was addressed and several expensive tests were run. She was finally diagnosed with single cell lymphoma. I think we made the right decision not putting her through any type of chemo; it probably would've been torture for her at her age - a possible prolonged life, but no guaranteed cure.

I'm glad we got two more nights out of her than expected, I liked her rallying - climbing on top of the kitchen counter in the middle of the night, when I expected to see her laying on the couch, barely alive. My family members have always been fighters when facing death. To see her drink some milk and eat a little was encouraging too.

I'm very thankful to Rich for his help with her burial, and the fact that she's put to rest next to your former pets Charlie and Sylvia. It makes it all much more personal.

RIP sweet Callie, you will be in our hearts forever, and you're still at home with us in spirit.

Some fun tidbits about Callie:

-When I went back to college to study hospitality, and tried to study at home, Callie would climb up on the table and put her head right in the middle of my textbook, making a point that paying attention to her should be the priority over any academics.

- Not sure what she thought of Rodney, if she considered him her friend, brother, etc. - but it warmed my heart to see the two of them laying in the sunlight and sitting in my recliner next to each other.

- She was an avid, intense bird watcher through my condo windows; she got very excited and wound up when a noisy flock of geese flew overhead at 4 am.

- She liked to drink out of the toilet, even when she had fresh cold water in a bowl to drink. I thought she was going to fall in sometimes.

- Her favorite spot to say goodbye to me when I left was on the stairwell ledge, hanging there staring at me. "Do you really have to leave me again..?"

- She loved to explore out on the balcony, chasing bugs on a warm summer evening.

- She also loved to climb up on my computer desk when I went online, perching herself right next to the monitor and even sat on the keyboard sometimes (explains the cat hair stuck in-between the keys), again wanting attention over any pursuit I was involved in.

- Of course she loved to sit in closets and drawers, and even in suitcases. When I was packing for a recent trip to NYC, she thought she was going to try to come along and explore the Big Apple with me, etc.

- She engaged in some really fine dining once; I gave her some left over crab-meat.

- My dad visited my condo one day and got a kick out of seeing Rodney as a puppy playing with her.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The World Cup Song

On a sad note, Travalon's cat Callie died this morning. She had lymphoma and was going downhill fast, which is why I didn't blog yesterday - too busy watching over her. She was a very warm and loving cat who quickly bonded with me, Richard Bonomo, and Kathbert. Travalon is going to help me write a full obituary tomorrow, so watch for that.

I was wrong about the song they play during the World Cup. According to Wikipedia, there are four different anthems, and not one of them is the song I am thinking of. I found this on YouTube:

World Cup Opening Sequence

Isn't that a catchy tune? They play the last measure and a half every time they go to commercials or come back from them. I can't find anything about what this song is called or who performs it, but it's half the reason I love watching the World Cup highlights. Which is why I've been getting to bed too late to go to UGGH Club, although I did make it Monday morning with a new sucker, I mean participant - Travalon! The last couple of days we have been too busy taking care of Callie to think about UGGH Club, but tomorrow we will try to go.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 23, 2014

Futbol Weekend

Cashmere the Rabbit is really feeling at home in the new condo now, because she is back to being her weird bunny self. We have a glass coffee table in the living room, and she likes to run laps around it and lick it. Maybe it tastes really good…? Rodney the Poodle did chase her for maybe a foot, so she got a little scared, but not enough to stay out on the screened-in porch. He soon lost interest, and anyway she has only herself to blame, since she was approaching him as he was trying to sleep.

Saturday I thought it would be a good idea to move my small washer/dryer combo from my old condo to the new one, not realizing how heavy it was. Travalon and Richard Bonomo ended up doing most of the heavy lifting, with quite a bit of help from Kathbert and some from me as well. Travalon, Kathbert, and I all ended up with very minor injuries, and the washer dumped water on the carpet in my old condo, but we did succeed in moving the unit… just to discover the outlet in the new condo is the wrong kind. Fortunately Rich is an electrical engineer, so he can help us with this issue. Whether the washer/dryer still works after that beating is another matter, but I’d be too embarrassed to sell it with my old condo, since I’d have to explain how partway through the spin cycle the agitator always comes off so you have to stop the washer and replace it, only you can’t just pick up the lid to stop it because of a previous repair Rich did. I may just buy a new set for my old condo, or sell it without them and let the buyer take care of it.

In the evening my band had a gig at Make Music Madison, only Hardingfele wasn’t there because she had an actual paying gig. They did let us busk, and we made $4, or $1 apiece. I just donated my buck to the next act, a group doing capoeira, which is a very cool Brazilian martial art with its own music. The music is simple and rhythmic, but I was still impressed how two of them would do the dance part and then trade with two musicians without missing a beat. There were five people in that group, and they made a whopping $17.50 in tips since they were so good. They were really fun to watch, doing cartwheels and kicking at each other – very athletic. I thought about doing capoeira ages ago but was discouraged to find out they practice three times a week, so that would have been the end of all my bands and choirs. Besides, I really am not coordinated enough, but imagine how fit I would have been! Travalon, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and OK Cap came to hear my band, and they stayed to watch the capoeira too. The act before us was also really good, a drum line from Chicago who did choreographed moves along with their drumming.

Yesterday was a really beautiful day in Madison, and also in Oconomowoc when we went to visit Travalon’s mom, so we were able to take her out for some fresh air. However, when Travalon and I went into Milwaukee, the temperature was much lower, but we still went canoeing and enjoyed it a great deal. By the time we went to the Three Lions Pub in Shorewood to try to watch the World Cup, the temperature had dropped to the mid 50’s, so we were too cold to watch the game outside and the pub was too full for us to get into it. We returned to Oconomowoc and ate at Burke’s Landing, a restaurant on the lake, and there it was in the mid 70’s and very pleasant. Then we came back to Madtown and watched the World Cup highlights on ESPN2. I was in love with this four-second snippet of a song they play whenever they return from ads, and today I found the whole song on YouTube, but it isn’t an actual Brazilian song, it’s by Pitbull. So sort of hiphop with a little Latin flavor courtesy of J-Lo. Kind of a letdown, but I do really like the song. It’s called “Ole Ola.” Travalon and I have been watching the highlights every evening, and sometimes we root for opposing teams, like I was rooting for Nigeria since I know many Nigerians while he was rooting for Bosnia since it’s near where his family came from. Today he is watching the Croatia game because that is exactly where his mother’s family came from. Hm, I wonder if Cecil Markovitch is going to watch it too? Something tells me he doesn’t care at all about “futbol.” (I feel weird to call it soccer when it is actually played with the feet and a ball, as opposed to what we call football, which is a throwing and catching game played with an egg-shaped missile.) 

Bad news - my Famous Hat has developed a hole. It is very small now, but the hat's days may be numbered. Will I have to change the name of this blog if it totally dies?

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cashmere's Daring Escape

For those of you most interested in things Irish, I will post some more photos of Ireland – and Scotland! – most likely this weekend. Hopefully some of my readers enjoy cute pet stories, because that’s what I have to blog about today. In the evenings we have been letting Cashmere the Rabbit come out into the living room of the condo; at first she was kind of scared, but now I don’t even have to bring her out, I just leave the door to the screened-in porch open, and out she hops. So this morning I went to give her the daily piece of banana she always demands, and to my surprise she slipped by me and escaped into the condo. I said, “Banana, Cashmere!” but she was more interested in freedom than the banana. And believe me, very little is more appealing to Cashmere than a banana! I let her roam around for a few minutes then told her it was time to go home, and to my surprise she very cooperatively hopped back out onto the porch. We haven’t rabbit-proofed the condo yet, so I don’t want her out wandering about it while we aren’t home to supervise.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Physical Wednesday

Today was not a usual sort of day for me. When we all arrived at work, the servers were down so we couldn't get to any of our work. At first we couldn't even get internet access. My boss brought donuts because a former coworker was coming in to train a current one, so we all sat around eating donuts and drinking coffee. Not a bad way to spend the morning! Eventually we all found non-computer related things to do; I moved a bunch of files from one cabinet to another and packed some more up for shredding. I was enjoying having such a physical day at work, where I usually sit at a desk in front of a computer, but when the servers still weren't up by lunchtime, I took half a day off of work to go to Light Bright's house and help clean up after the tornado.

Travalon and I had lunch, then we drove to Light Bright's house, which she was just leaving to go to gig. I know how that goes - even tornadoes can't get you out of gigs! Her husband and in-laws were there sawing up a big tree that had fallen on the house and collecting the branches, so we joined them. I raked up debris while Travalon sawed big branches into more manageable pieces, and we made a ton of trips from the backyard to the front, where the city would collect all the debris. At least Light Bright's beautiful garden was unscathed, but her beloved peach tree was literally tied in a knot and had to come down. I'd never seen such a thing but of course I hadn't brought my questionable camera. The mood was oddly festive, with all the neighbors out doing cleanup, and random people stopping by to offer their help or, in the case of two cute little black girls, a cold soda. Lots of people were driving down Light Bright's usually sleepy street, not just the friends and strangers offering help but also people who were just gawking at the damage and others who wanted the free firewood from all those sawed-up trees.

There's nothing like cleaning up after a tornado to make you realize how out of shape you are. Travalon and I were only at it for two hours and were completely beat. Light Bright's husband and in-laws were going strong after two days of this, and her in-laws are a good twenty years older than we are! I am going to claim that all this physical labor today excuses me from UGGH Club both this morning and tomorrow morning. I will get back there eventually...

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Storm Destruction

Last night there was something like a tornado that touched down in town, and it knocked a tree over on top of Light Bright’s house so she now has a big hole in her attic. She said she was luckier than the neighbors on the next street, who had their roofs blown off. The local hip hop station sent people out to take pictures, and I shamelessly stole this one off of their website, of a stop sign just stuck in the middle of a field:

If all this wasn’t scary enough, we are supposed to get more of the same tonight. Yikes! Travalon said he heard the sirens in the distance last night, but since they weren’t close, he wasn’t sure if he should wake me up. I, of course, slept right through the storm. I was afraid Cashmere the Rabbit might die of fright, being out on the screened-in porch, but this morning she was bouncing around and demanding her banana like nothing had happened.

Cashmere has really adjusted well to the new condo; last night she came out from the porch on her own and explored the living room. She cautiously approached Callie the Cat but didn’t get too close. Rodney the Poodle has no interest in her, so she seems pretty safe among these supposed enemies of hers. She is perkier than I have seen in her in a long time, since Charlie died. Maybe she likes having nonhuman friends around, even if they aren’t rabbits.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 16, 2014

Baseball Weekend

First, to my fellow UGGHers, I apologize: it has been so wonderful getting up at a reasonable hour and then having a leisurely breakfast with my new husband and Callie the Cat. I will try to make it to UGGH Club sometime this week…

Secondly, I seem to have gained a follower during my sojourn in Ireland and Scotland, so welcome! I will warn you, this blog is now going to be about my day-to-day life and random musings.

The weather was beautiful on Friday, so Travalon, OK Cap, and I went to our first Mallards game this season. The Mallards came through, beating the Rafters (their logo is a rat on a raft) 4-2. I had a vegan burger with cheese curds, so half healthy, and of course a giant pretzel. Never go to the ballpark if you are on a diet, which I currently am not, I’m just trying to eat sensibly. Of course, Friday night took care of all that…

Saturday the weather was again beautiful, so after getting some coffee at the Prairie CafĂ©, Travalon and I went for a hike with Richard Bonomo and Catzookz at Indian Lake Park. We all hiked up to the shrine on top of the hill, then Rich and Catzookz went off to hike the harder trails while Travalon and I took a leisurely stroll around the lake with Rodney the Poodle. And what better way to spend a lovely evening than at another Mallards game? They were having “St. Patty’s Day in Summer” with the band The Kissers playing traditional Irish music between innings and then fireworks after the game. I saw people with green beer, but we didn’t get any. Travalon got a really good beer from Hawaii – who knew that was a hotbed of beer brewing? I believe it was called Kona, like the coffee. Again the Mallards came through, beating the Woodchucks 5-2.

Yesterday after brunch, Travalon headed out to watch more minor league baseball while I picked up Hardingfele for our wedding gig. We drove with most of the rest of the band to Lake Mills and played a wedding reception at Korth Park, on the shores of Rock Lake. It was a lovely venue, but we were a little concerned that it might rain. The weather was iffy, but we never did get the promised (threatened?) rain. We played for the wedding reception dance, and the attendees were really getting into it but lost interest after a few dances and drifted off for the most part, so we didn’t end up playing nearly as long as we’d expected. Then I headed home and hung out with Miss Callie, who has really bonded with me, until Travalon returned from fishing. He and I went to the Nau-Ti-Gal for our healthiest meal of the weekend: broiled fish and vegetables! We love going there, sitting out on their patio overlooking the water. But tonight I’ll have to pick up my cooking implements from the old condo so we can start eating at home. 

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 12, 2014

An Overview of Ireland in Photos

I am at Richard Bonomo's house, blogging on Aquinas's stunt double, because that's where my photos of Ireland are. Last night Cashmere moved into our new condo, and at first she was really freaked out, but this morning she seemed very happy, hopping all around our screened-in porch. (We keep her separated from Rodney and Callie when we are not there.) Also, my poppy has four blossoms on it, and I took pictures, but who knows how they will turn out? Anyway, I took so many photos of Ireland that in this post I'm just going to give an overview of the places we traveled.

In Dublin, we saw the stone that supposedly covered the well where St. Patrick (who was neither Irish nor named Patrick) baptized the newly converted:

The next photo was taken in Dublin as well but references Athlone, which I got no photos of because my camera had died by then.

At Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, we saw this painting in a cell:

We visited Russborough House in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains:

We visited the Waterford Crystal factory:

We went to Mass at this church in Cork, called St. Patrick's:

We kissed the stone at Blarney Castle:

The village of Kenmare is noted for its colorful buildings:

In the Ring of Kerry, we watched a sheep-shearing demonstration. Here the guy is marking the sheep after it is sheared. We also watched border collies herd the sheep.

The Ring of Kerry is very beautiful - check out this island that looks kind of like a cloverleaf:

In Killarney we saw Ross Castle on an island, and check out our hotel's lobby:

The gorgeous Dingle Peninsula looks like what I'd always dreamed Ireland would look like:

Here is the inside of a very old pub called Durty Nellie's:

Photos can't quite capture the majesty of the justly famous Cliffs of Moher:

We found lots of stranded jellyfish in Galway Bay:

I just loved this miniature Gothic cathedral at Kylemore Abbey:

Here are some samples of the woven pottery they make at Belleek Pottery Factory:

The old walls in Derry still go all the way around the old section of the town:

The Giant's Causeway is too cool for words:

Here are photos of our room in Cabra Castle and the outside of the castle:

This is said to be the finest example of a High Cross in Ireland:

Here are the 5000-year-old tombs at Bru Na Boinne, and a close-up of the carvings on the rocks around the edges:

Finally, here I am, jamming with the Irish musicians:


I hope this gives you some idea. Soon I will post photos of funny signs, other cool stuff, and the few I got of Scotland.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Step-Pets

Last night I went to Light Bright’s house for dinner, although we are not doing any more wedding planning. I had to give her a gift from Scotland, “Crazy Ness,” because her workplace is so crazy with all the Sock Puppets. (Sorry, I don’t have any good Sock Puppet League stories for you.) Crazy Ness is a hot pink plushie that looks vaguely like a stoned dragon. Then Light Bright showed me her garden and said since she doesn’t have a pet, she uses all her nurturing on the garden. It did look great, much better than Richard Bonomo’s garden when I tried to take care of it.

Speaking of pets, when I got home last night, Travalon had brought Rodney the Poodle and Callie the Cat to the condo, where they were wandering around in either puzzlement or curiosity, it was hard to tell which. Callie immediately decided I am her new human, and she wanted to snuggle. And snuggle. And snuggle. Did I mention I’m allergic to cats? Though, to be fair, I don’t react much to Callie. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about her, and then this morning she woke me up at who knows what hour (we don’t have a clock in the condo yet) by poking me with one paw, then the other, over and over. Plus she pooped on the floor. I probably should have gotten up and gone to UGGH Club, but I just rolled over and went back to sleep, dreaming about Callie bounding all over the condo. (In reality she is 16 and is well past her bounding years.) Meanwhile, Rodney slept soundly at the foot of the bed. So that is my life with step-pets so far. Soon I will be bringing Cashmere over from Rich’s house, and then we’ll see how well our little blended family gets along.

I promise to post more photos of Ireland soon. Really, I will do it.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bathing by Ducklight

Moving is always an adventure. Last night Travalon and I grabbed some bedding and towels from my old condo and went to the new one, after treating Richard Bonomo to dinner for putting us up for almost a week. I was still living out of my two new purple suitcases (the smaller one a shower present from Jilly Moose and Luxuli, and the larger one a wedding present courtesy of some friends of Ma and Pa Hat), as if I were still on the honeymoon. Travalon had brought some stuff from his old condo and put it in the smaller second bedroom, which is his man cave. We almost felt like we were camping, because we only had the necessities. One thing we did do was take a romantic bath by ducklight: we fired up our hot tub with only the light-up rubber duckies from Kathbert to illuminate the room. We had to special order a California king bed because Travalon is so tall, and it will take about two weeks to arrive, so in the meantime we are sleeping on my futon.  During the night it got surprisingly cold, but we had thought to bring some blankets, so that wasn’t a problem. This morning we woke up at ten to six, which didn’t seem like enough time to get to UGGH Club, so we rolled over and went back to sleep until about seven. Then we said, “Happy anniversary!” because today is our one-month wedding anniversary. Can you believe it? How long do we qualify as newlyweds? At least a year, I’d think, but feel free to state your opinion on this important matter in the comments.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 9, 2014

Casual Wedding

I am afraid my blog posts are going to seem very boring now that they’re not about Ireland. I’ll try to intersperse photos of Ireland with other random posts, like this one about the wedding Travalon and I went to this weekend. It was supposed to go from 3:00 to 3:10, so we hurried to get there, not wanting to miss the brief ceremony. However, once we got there, all we found was a bunch of people in all sorts of outfits (the invitation said “casual”) milling around and drinking. The wedding didn’t happen for another hour or so, and then it was as short as advertised. Most of the time was taken up with long, elaborate vows that the couple probably wrote themselves. Then we ate, and dinner included a whole roasted pig and the “cake” made of cupcakes. We mostly talked to people Travalon knew from high school, and they were all saying how they never expected to be at this guy’s wedding all these years later because in high school they didn’t really talk to each other. But that’s the wonder of MyFace – bringing people together who had no interest in each other two decades ago.

The other big news in our lives is that Travalon and I are in the process of moving into our new condo. Kathbert and Richard Bonomo helped us move some stuff into it yesterday, and Kathbert took the opportunity to sneak in a couple of light-up rubber duckies and leave them by the side of our hot tub. Then Travalon and I went paddle boating for an hour on Lake Wingra before showing some pictures of Ireland and Scotland to Rich, Kathbert, Luxuli, Prairie Man, Handy Woman, and her brother. Travalon took a LOT of photos, so we didn’t get through all or even most of them before we all had to call it a night. After all, it’s back to UGGH Club for me so I have to get my rest. The rumor is that Jilly Moose may be joining us soon in this crazy pursuit, and Travalon has promised to consider it once he is settled into life in Madtown. Soon there may be so many UGGHers that we will barely all fit in the health club at one time!

Famous Hat

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Some Photos of Ireland

I have just a few minutes to put some photos of Ireland on the blog. First is a shot of of my wedding hall after Light Bright and Anna Banana II had finished decorating the head table.

This is the tip of the wing of our Aer Lingus airplane.

Here is the really cool tile on the floor of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

This is a shot of St. Patrick's from the outside.

And here are some pretty shots of Cobh (pronounced "Cove").

More to come! Stay tuned!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Municipal Court

One thing that made me very happy when I returned to work was seeing that my black calla lily had not finished blooming during my sojourn in Ireland; in fact, it currently has four blooms on it. Miss Heartsong and Kathbert also have several blooms on their black calla lilies right now, but Handy Woman planted hers outside and says it is already done blooming. I wonder why – does being outside speed up the blooming process for calla lilies?

This morning I had to go to municipal court because of that speeding ticket I got over a month ago. (Technically I did not have to go and could have just paid my fine, but I heard they will reduce your points and fine just for showing up.) Travalon came with me for moral support, and we hurried to get there at 8:30, the time listed for my hearing, only to discover that the cases are heard in the order in which people arrived. We had to go through a metal detector and have our bags searched, then we were told to sit in court. I thought it would be like TV, and each person would have to stand up and clearly speak so everyone could hear, but it was more like confession: each person spoke quietly to the judge as the rest of us waited our turn. Then the judge would hand out a fine instead of, say, three Hail Marys. That was if you pled guilty; if you pled innocent, you had to go sit on the other side of the court and wait. I pled guilty and explained this was my first offense, and the judge reduced my points and my fine, so it wasn’t a very painful experience at all. They even let me pay my fine by credit card. Anyway, I have learned my lesson and will go the speed limit from now on rather than the speed of the flow of traffic.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 2, 2014

Back in the USA

Back to everyday life, sigh… Travalon and I were supposed to return to the USA on Friday, but Aer Lingus had a strike that day, so we were bumped to yesterday’s flight. We had to go through security twice, plus customs, at the Dublin Airport, so we just kept waiting in lines. Then they changed the gate, so we had to travel halfway across the airport. They were putting out the last call for our flight as we arrived at the gate, but plenty of people got on the plane after we did, so we weren’t the only ones holding up the plane. The gate change and long lines must have thrown everyone for a loop.

Aer Lingus had a really good idea: they ask you to donate change to UNICEF, and plenty of us have random change in euros that we really can’t use in the US, so why not donate it? Between Travalon and me, we scrounged up over seven euros, which is a good donation amount (around 11 US dollars) but not enough to bother changing back into US dollars. And it seemed like way too much to keep for my coin collection. I have some euro pennies and stuff for that.

I feel like there was something else Travalon wanted me to blog about with Aer Lingus, but offhand I can’t remember so maybe he can mention it in the comments.

Back in Chicago it struck me how dirty and unsafe this country seems compared to Ireland. Maybe I just have “grass is greener” syndrome, but I miss Ireland already. No ugly billboards blighting the landscape, and the buildings are for the most part so much prettier. On college campuses you do find ugly modern architecture over there, but that’s true here, too.

Last night Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and I watched the wedding video, which is really well done. Travalon’s mother, who couldn’t make the ceremony, should love seeing it. Then this morning I went to work, and people said I seemed to have jumped right back in like I’d never been gone. Funny, I totally feel like I have “vacation brain.” Then again, people said what a calm bride I was, yet I felt like a nervous wreck. Perhaps I am just a really good actress.

Famous Hat