Friday, August 29, 2014

Rosary Ladies Two Nights in a Row

This week was unusual because the Rosary Ladies (who don’t get together often enough) got together two nights in a row. It wasn’t all the Rosary Ladies, since Anna Banana II is still in North Dakota, OK Cap and Luxuli couldn’t make it Wednesday night, and Jilly Moose had to work last night, but I still think both nights count. Wednesday a bunch of us went to Noodles, then Jilly Moose, Richard Bonomo, El Vegetariano, Travalon, and I prayed the rosary in our church’s library. Last night OK Cap, Luxuli, and I prayed the rosary in the church’s library, but then a priest came in with someone he was giving spiritual direction to and evicted us, so we went into the empty adoration chapel. (Adoration is STILL suspended because for some reason the parking lot repaving job that was supposed to take five days is taking at least ten.) Then we went to Takara Japanese Restaurant, where I burned my mouth because my soup was piping hot and I didn’t wait to partake until it had cooled a little. After that we went to a frozen yogurt place, but I was (sort of) good and didn’t have a whole bowl of it, just a couple of samples: red velvet and Irish mint. At least that cooled my mouth down a little. It’s still kind of numb today.

Speaking of rosaries, Toque McToque has one that came from a World War I soldier, and I wanted one myself, so today I googled it and found some beautiful brass ones for sale. I tried to bid on one on eBay, but my account was created in 2001 and hasn’t been used since then, so they suspended it, apparently back in 2007. It took a couple of phone calls to get that straightened out, but now my eBay account is working again, so I bid on a brass World War I standard issue rosary. The seller is right in my state! And now I can bid on all kinds of things for Travalon – after all, Christmas is just five months away.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Weight: I'm So Irate

Weight is a mysterious thing. For example, mine keeps creeping up slowly over the years, although I lost fifteen pounds pretty quickly by totally cutting out carbs just before meeting Travalon. After meeting him, I gained it all back and then some. So as my regular readers know, right now I am on a “health plan” that includes getting 500 extra calories’ worth of exercise a day, eating even more fruits and veggies than I had been, and only eating dessert once a week. I’d been sticking to this pretty closely but my weight just hovered around the same number, barely going down at all. To add insult to injury, Travalon did some of the stuff I did, like often exercising with me, but certainly not all of it, and he is visibly losing weight. Everyone is commenting on it. When I complained about this to Handy Woman, she said, “You can’t compare yourself to a man. They just lose weight more easily.”

So, per my last post, I was on vacation recently and kind of missed my goals most days. If there was any justice in the world, eating dessert three days in a row should have as little effect on my weight as weeks of intensive exercise has, but of course not: I gained eight pounds. According to my health plan, I was supposed to lose ten pounds in eight weeks; now I only have three weeks left and have to lose eighteen pounds to make my goal. The coworker of mine who told me about enrolling in the health plan in the first place is bemused that I am even bothering to follow it, since we get paid $150 in Visa cards just for enrolling. This is what I get for trying to be proactive about my health and actually follow the plan. Seriously, before being on it, I did not gain eight pounds from three days’ worth of desserts. Richard Bonomo would say it’s probably just water weight, but the health plan doesn’t exactly help with that, since it says I should drink six glasses of water a day. Maybe that’s my problem…

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Long Island Wedding

My readers may be wondering about my silence for the last week, or maybe you were aware I went to my cousin’s wedding on Long Island. Travalon and I took the train out, and both ways there were four-hour delays on the first leg of the trip, but we just made our connection so we arrived on schedule. The train is a fun way to go, in spite of the delays, because you get to see everything between Points A and B. The Lakeshore Limited runs along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers, so it is very scenic. Yesterday morning we woke up somewhere in Ohio with water on either side of us. The train also runs right through the factories in Gary, Indiana, and we noted with some amusement that there are now casinos in the midst of them. We may try to visit one sometime, since I have always been sort of obsessed with Gary, and Travalon enjoys casinos.

Our first full day on Long Island, we drove out to Montauk Point, which we were told would take about two hours… but not when you take the scenic route! We stopped for an amazing lunch of lobster and clams, since we both love seafood. Every little town was having a car show or art festival, so our forward progress was somewhat impeded much of the time. By the time we arrived at Montauk Point, they had just stopped charging admission, so that was the up side of arriving so late. Then we went to Mass in the village of Montauk, at a church called St. Therese of Lisieux, and explored the beaches there and at Hinter Hills State Park.  We returned to our hotel kind of late, and the key card to our room didn’t work. While Travalon went to the front desk, I began a rosary. The front desk guy and another guy came, and they tried to open our door with the master key card, but even that didn’t work, so they checked the lock with a gauge and figured out the batteries were dead. Then Travalon wanted to watch some TV, and to our surprise, he came across a station where they were praying the rosary. I prayed along with them and discovered, to my amazement, that they were on the exact Hail Mary I was on. How’s that for a holy coincidence?

Sunday Travalon and I went to the beach at Fire Island and played in the Atlantic Ocean. Then we went to my cousin’s wedding at a park I remembered from childhood visits to my grandparents’ house. It is a very romantic park, with a waterfall and lots of swans, and my cousin got married in the gazebo. The reception was at a restaurant on Captree Island, with windows overlooking the water. The cake was super adorable, with black and hot pink polka dots and a topper my cousin had made herself. The flower girl, my other cousin’s three-year-old daughter, was also adorable as she dumped all the flower petals in one spot. Travalon and I talked to my uncle and his girlfriend over dinner, and we enjoyed the conversation immensely. We discussed interesting things like music, politics, and religion, and none of it was contentious. Besides making the cake topper, my cousin also decorated commemorative wine glasses for the guests and made chocolate-covered treats for us. She’s multitalented!

Monday Travalon and I had a little time in Manhattan before having to catch our train, so we walked to Times Square. We saw both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, and we stopped into a church called Holy Innocents, where they were having Eucharistic adoration. It was wonderful to get to visit Our Lord, because I missed two of my regular hours in a row; last week they suspended perpetual adoration for the week while they repaved our church’s parking lot, and yesterday I didn’t get back to town in time. We also went to a burger joint where they would put anything you wanted on a burger, so I had all kinds of greens and a hard-boiled egg. It was kind of like having a salad on my burger. Once on the train, we had a two-hour delay in Albany, so we explored around the train station. They have a beautiful church there called St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph – it must be one of those combined parishes. We had a late, romantic dinner as we passed through Schenectady, which is surprisingly beautiful at night. And that is why I will always prefer the train to flying, even if the delays are something else. Travalon and I amused ourselves by writing limericks about Amtrak, and mine went like this:

There once was a train heading west,
And the food on that train was the best.
The delays were so bad
That they made us quite mad,
Since we had no more time to invest.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cashmere's Fur Adventure

Last night Hardingfele came over to see the new condo and help clip Cashmere’s claws. We had quite an adventure getting to the condo, because the main artery is all torn up and down to one lane, so it took half an hour to go maybe a mile. Then Hardingfele wanted to brush Cashmere, who is looking really ragged now that she doesn’t have Charlie to groom her. I tried to brush her now and then, but she hated it, so I gave up. The brush is at my old condo, so Hardingfele tried combing Cashmere with my comb, and then she just started pulling clumps of loose fur out. Pretty soon we had enough to make a whole new rabbit! Hardingfele was covered in Cashmere’s fine gray fur, but luckily I have a lint roller, so she got most of it off of her. Cashmere does look a lot less ragged now, so I should probably brush her even if she hates it. Maybe I can get Travalon to help me hold her down, since Hardingfele now lives so far away. Everyone does – Kathbert says it’s like I’ve moved to the other side of the world. Nope, just the other side of the lake, but with all this road construction, it’s hard to get back to see everyone.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hitting the Book Again

Another thing Travalon and I did on Friday, between meeting his friend and going to the concert, was go to two more stops on our pilgrimage: taverns in the book Bottoms Up. First we went to the Bunker, a tavern with a military theme, in Waterford. There was camo everywhere, and plastic grenades hung along the bar, and the bathroom was labeled “Latrine.” Next we went to BJ Wencker’s, a beautiful old tavern in Burlington that is prominently featured on the front cover of the book. It is just as lovely inside, with dark wood and a large mirror behind the bar. Travalon and I are now more than halfway through the book, but of course all the ones we still need to visit are up north, and I am out of time off at work. Taking a long honeymoon will do that to you…

Saturday Travalon, Rodney, and I went canoeing for three hours. We headed up the Yahara towards the island we always mean to see, but Travalon really wanted to go back into the creek we had previously explored a bit. We went further into it, but it was getting very shallow so he thought we had better turn back before getting stuck in the muck. The creek looked like it continued on, and on Google Earth it appears to go all the way to a water hazard on the Cherokee Golf Course. I thought it would have been very cool to get all the way up to the tiny pond and canoe around while golfers stared at us in disbelief, but if the creek got any shallower, that wouldn’t have been possible. So we headed back out into the river and turned toward the island, which is about three trees wide. It is a very pretty green island, unlike the one in Mendota which is just a bunch of rocks sticking out of the water with marsh grass growing between them. This one looked like you might actually want to get out of the canoe and step onto it, but it was very overgrown so that would have been a difficult proposition. Travalon spotted a sign nailed to a tree on the island, and he wondered if it were private property, but the sign just stated that no hunting, trapping, or weapons were allowed on the island. Does it have a name? Not that we know of, but it is substantial enough that it merits one. Possibly the neighbors have a nickname for it.

Sunday Travalon and I drove to Milwaukee early enough to get to the Irishfest Mass at 9:30, then we met Tiffy and went to watch pipes and drums, dancing schools, and fiddlers. We explored all the shopping areas as well but didn’t see anything we wanted. If you get to Irishfest early enough on Sunday with a canned good for donation, you can get in free. I forgot to put on sunscreen – never a good idea for someone with substantial Irish heritage – and by the end of the day I looked like a reverse raccoon, with white circles around my eyes where my sunglasses had shielded them. My theory was that loads of antioxidants might help the burn heal, so I have been eating even more fruits and vegetables than usual, and it seems to be working. Today I just look a bit flushed. Luckily I have that Irish salve to put on it from the time I got sunburned in Cobh. It seems to be helping too.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

A Tale of Two Concerts

Friday I was miserably sick with a cold, but I sucked it up to go meet Travalon’s friend who teaches in Japan. He was visiting with his Japanese girlfriend, to whom he had proposed just days before in Door County, and they both seemed like wonderful people. They gave us beautiful ceramic mugs without handles, or small bowls, or something, from Japan. They even included the receipt, which was in Japanese – in case we wanted to return them? Afterwards Travalon and I went for a walk by Lake Geneva, but it was very brief because I had no energy. I really wasn’t sure about going to the KISS/Def Leppard concert that night, but we already had the tickets, so I soldiered on. We missed the opening act, a band called Dead Daisies; being a musician, I empathized with them and hoped at least a few people were in the audience when they went on! We got there just as Def Leppard came onstage, and our seats were right up front so we had a fantastic view. Their Irish guitarist, Vivian Campbell, is really good, and he looks fantastic for his age. The one-armed drummer is aging well too, but I have to say the rest of them looked like they’ve been living the rock ‘n’ roll life for three decades! At first they played their ballads, so I was getting kind of bored and sat down. Did you realize nobody sits at a rock concert, even though they have seats? But toward the end of their set, they pulled out all their rockers, so then I did stand up.

Then KISS came on, and they are weaker musicians but have a way more entertaining show. Gene Simmons spit up blood, waggled his tongue, breathed fire, and got pulled up above the stage. Paul Stanley swung out into the audience like Tarzan, and both of them kept throwing picks out into the audience. I never dreamed I’d actually get one, since none seemed to come my way, but toward the end of the concert, I looked down and saw one right at my feet. How cool! It is a commemorative 40th anniversary pick signed by Paul Stanley, and it’s for a guitar, but I’ll try playing the mandolin with it. The crowd was animated but not rowdy, and I blended right in with my black T-shirt with a skull on it from one of the Daughter of Dennii’s biking trips. Most people were Generation X like me, but there were a few older and younger, even children! I guess KISS is kind of cartoonish, so they appeal to kids. My brother was always a big fan of theirs when we were kids. Here’s the weirdest thing about the whole night: my cold was completely gone by the end of the show! Did all the explosions onstage scare it out of me, or did the heat of the crowd make me sweat it out? Who knew the cure for the common cold was a rock concert?

Saturday Travalon took me to the Steely Dan show, maybe as sort of a consolation prize for having to sit through all that loud rock music, but he’s a fan too – this is the sixth time he’s seen them live. The crowd was much older, mostly Baby Boomers, and they mostly sat through the concert, but surprisingly they were much worse-behaved than the previous night’s crowd. People kept cutting into line, and the guy in front of me held up a T-shirt like a curtain so I couldn’t see the opening act. Everyone was talking during the opening act, and the guys next to Travalon talked through the whole show. Are Baby Boomers ruder than Gen Xers? I can’t help noticing how they will say Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was this amazing record because of all the recording tricks, but then they’ll turn around and criticize today’s music for using too many recording tricks. Which is it, Boomers? Is it amazing or laziness? You can’t have it both ways. Steely Dan didn’t play Travalon’s favorite song of theirs, “Deacon Blues,” but otherwise it was a fantastic show put on by highly talented musicians. It’s a shame their fans are bigger jerks than KISS’s and Def Leppard’s.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Canoeing Dream

Last night I had a dream about canoeing, and it was awesome. Travalon and I were going to canoe up a creek by our house and then let the current bring us back, and one of the things we were going to pass was a law firm. It listed all the attorneys, and two had the last name “Dave.” I said, “I sure hope one of them has the first name Dave too!” and sure enough, there was a Dave Dave listed. The next thing we would pass was a veterinary clinic, and then there was a really elaborate tree fort. This dream made me very happy, much happier than the one two nights ago, when I dreamed there was a disturbing Irish legend in which Jesus tricked a guy into drowning himself. I chalk that one up to my cold; I always have weird “sick dreams.”

Tomorrow Rodney the Poodle will be fifteen years old, so tonight Travalon and I are taking him for a long walk, since that’s his favorite thing to do. Luxuli and Prairie Man will hopefully join us with their dog Michaela, making it a dogtastic time. I am not sure when I’ll let you, my readers, know how it went. Tomorrow I will be out of town almost all of the day, meeting Travalon’s friend who is visiting from Japan. I believe he is bringing his Japanese girlfriend too. I’m looking forward to it.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Canoe as Metaphor for Marriage

A soprano in my choir said that she thought the canoe was an apt metaphor for marriage, so it was appropriate that Travalon and I got one so early in ours. When we thought about it, Travalon and I had to agree. The canoe takes teamwork, and so does marriage. The canoe needs to be balanced, and so does a marriage. The canoe takes communication, and so does marriage. Perhaps the couple that canoes together, stays together. Now that we can bring Rodney along, it’s almost like a family activity, though I’m sure there’s no way Cashmere would want to be in the canoe. Maybe she would jump out and swim like the crazy rabbit that attacked President Carter, if anyone remembers that. (It made quite an impression on me because I was a small child at the time.) Now Travalon and I are sharing a cold, so we probably won’t go out in the canoe in the next few days, but it’s nice to know it is always there for us to use for hours of fun.

There was something else Travalon said I should blog about, but my virus-laden brain cannot think of it right now. If I think of it tomorrow, that’s what I’ll blog about. Maybe Travalon will remind me in the comments.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Canoeing with Rodney

Friday Travalon and I went to the Waukesha Blues Fest with some friends of his. The first band did all old-skool twelve-bar blues songs, the second one was kind of funky, and the third one must not have made as much of an impression on me because I can’t describe them now. We did manage to get back to town in time to catch some Madisalsa at the Monona Terrace. What a wonderful night – dancing to live salsa music under an almost-full moon. Afterwards we went to the East Side Club, but their tiki bar was not open due to a private function, so we just sat by the water and enjoyed the beautiful night.

Saturday Travalon and I met Catzookz and Twins Fan at Prairie Café for brunch, then we headed out with Rodney the Poodle to Columbus, a very cute old town where they filmed scenes from the movie Public Enemy. We browsed an antique shop, hiked at Astico County Park, and went to Hydro Street Brewery for a drink and some munchies. The cheese plate was particularly good. After that we drove to Lake Mills and went to Tyranena Brewery, where a band was playing Irish music on the patio. Tyranena does not serve food, but they let people order pizza and have it delivered there, and the same guy kept coming with more pizza. Finally the band leader asked his name and he said, “Patrick,” which was so fitting that the band said we should all drink to that. After Catzookz and Twins Fan left, Travalon and I stayed for another set and then went hiking at Tyranena Park on the shores of beautiful Rock Lake. Catzookz took some photos of Astico County Park and said I should share them on the blog, so here they are:

Sunday Travalon and I took Rodney out canoeing for the first time. Travalon had gotten him a little life vest at Mounds that said “Outward Hound,” and we couldn’t believe how cute it was when we got it on him. We need to take a picture of it, but my camera is semi dead, and Travalon’s needs a new battery, so sorry we can’t share right now. As we took Rodney to the dock, some people said they had never seen anything as cute as a little dog in a life vest. Fortunately, Rodney really enjoyed canoeing, and we stayed out for two hours. We explored a creek that reminded us of a bayou down south, maybe because all the weeping willows were reminiscent of trees covered in Spanish moss. The lily pads were in spectacular bloom, and I wish I could have taken a photo of everything… sigh. Having a broken camera is a real bummer.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Music Choices

Last night Travalon and I went to the Sundance Theater’s rooftop café for dinner, then we saw The Big Lebowski, which neither of us had seen before. It was a hilarious movie, but be forewarned: there is a lot of swearing and some violence. What do you expect? It’s a Coen Brothers movie. They did Fargo, after all. (Which everyone said I had to see because I’m from Minnesota, just like the characters in the movie.)

Tomorrow I was expecting to go to work as usual and then attend the free Dane Dance in the evening, with Madisalsa playing. Live salsa music at a venue overlooking the lake, and FREE? Count me in! But Travalon really wanted me to go to a blues fest with him and then a KISS concert, so that is what I am doing. Very far from free, but he said he could get us third row seats. I have to admit, I am a bit curious. KISS were huge when I was a kid, and if their onstage antics are anything like they used to be, it should be one entertaining show. Plus Def Leppard is playing with them, and they used to be one of my very favorite bands. Don’t worry about my salsa intake; next week there will be another Dane Dance with another salsa band, and Travalon has promised we can go to that one.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Stuffies

Last night I went to my old condo again to sort things, but this time was different: it was stuffed animal sorting. If I thought sorting clothes was hard, this was a whole other level of emotional attachment. There were entirely too many of them, and they were just sitting there while some child somewhere might be cherishing them. So I went through them. Maria the Unicorn I got for Christmas just before turning nine? That’s a no-brainer, she had to stay. But Sara the Swan and Winnie the Whale don’t have the same emotional pull, even if they were beloved childhood toys that I spent many wonderful hours playing with. It’s time for them to move on to other children. And of course almost all my fuzzy germs got sent to St. Vinny’s, except for a complete set of the rhinovirus: normal, three tiny, and one giant. I even sent most of my ePlush animals away, except for the llama and the poodle, because they are just so cute. I still have the electronic avatars, after all. The one thing I really held onto was the small bears, because I have a good collection of those and they don’t take up much room. I’m trying not to think too hard about the toys I gave to St. Vinny’s, but after all, if they were just sitting at my old condo all this time, then I didn’t really need them. So now I only have one giant box of stuffed animals… well, it’s progress.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Birthday Biking

Sorry for the silence yesterday – I was really dragging and was not up to writing a whole blog post, as arduous as that is. Just kidding, but I really was tired. You probably want to hear about the drunken bike ride, which I attended for the first time with my own personal SAG wagon (Travalon’s SUV), and the first leg of the journey was so hard that I utilized it for the rest of the trip. Unlike other years, where we would bike a few miles between stops, this year there was a long haul out to Riley’s Tavern, so I chickened out and drove with my husband. This was my first time on a bike all year, and thanks to Dennii for fixing my wonky back wheel. This is the 11th year of his daughter’s birthday bike ride, so the T-shirts featured speakers that went to 11. (That’s a Spinal Tap reference, if you didn’t catch it.)

Saturday Travalon and I met Mamastep at the Manna Café for brunch, then we had nowhere to be the rest of the day so we went hiking at Governor Dodge State Park and had dinner at the Brewery Creek Pub in Mineral Point. To my surprise, we saw blooming Indian pipes (or the more PC name, ghost plants) down by the waterfall at Governor Dodge. I had no idea they could grow this far south! I’ve only seen them up north of Minocqua before. They are very cool little plants in the heath family that have no chlorophyll, so they are white, and they do look like ghostly little smoking pipes coming out of the ground. They survive on a fungus that grows on the roots of pine trees. They hate hot summers, but maybe it stays cool enough down by the waterfall for them to thrive.

Sunday after brunch Travalon and I voyaged to the Five O’s to see his mother, and we had dinner at a really good Indian restaurant there called Mantra. Then we went swimming at the health club, and some other ladies there were playing gospel music and salsa, so I was dancing to it in the water. Maybe that burned even more calories – hopefully, because yesterday I was too tired to get any exercise in, other than a little rosary walk during my lunch break. That surely didn’t burn my daily 500 calories! Other than that, I have been good about burning 500 extra every day, but I’m still not losing any weight…

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