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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Professor

I don’t have anything to interesting to say today, so I’ll just relate a little anecdote from Saturday night. Rich wondered what Jilly Moose, Travalon, and I were up to, so we debated going to his house or having him come over to our condo for dinner. Then Travalon thought since we were already in the parking lot of Jerkins (Jilly Moose parked there since it is right next to Moka), we could go to dinner there. I was in favor of this, since Jerkins has a healthy menu… though of course I did not order off of it. So I called Rich back and said plans had finally been definitively made, we were going to have dinner at Jerkins, and could he bring the Professor? I didn’t think there was anything strange about this request until I asked if he had watered the other plants, and Travalon started laughing. “I forgot the Professor was a plant!” he said. “I thought you were telling Rich to bring some guy!” I asked if he were disappointed that the Professor was floral and not academic, but he said he was relieved not to have to converse with someone he didn’t know. Now that the Professor has come to live with us, only Greg remains at Rich’s house (at Rich’s request), with some old poinsettias, Yuri the Hibiscus, and a plant that used to belong to Mo-Girl. I’ll probably still be on watering duty since Rich won’t remember to do it…

Famous Hat

Monday, October 13, 2014

Multilingual Hike at Devil's Lake

I hope my 5.6 regular readers had a great weekend. Mine started out Friday evening with a concert put on by Miss Heartsong, which I attended with Kathbert and Luxuli. It was mostly cabaret-style music accompanied by a piano, but she did a couple of Appalachian folk songs accompanied by a violist who plays in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and they were very haunting. This was at a Lutheran church, and afterwards they had bars – as in the kind you eat, not the kind you visit for a drink.

Saturday morning Travalon and I met the Rosary Ladies at Moka Coffee House, then we all drove out to Sauk City and went to a Mexican restaurant there for lunch. Luxuli and OK Cap headed back home, but Travalon, Jilly Moose, Rodney, and I went to Devil’s Lake for a hike. It was beautiful there with the earth tone leaves contrasting with the blue-gray rocks, but it was also packed. It was like the UN, there were so many different languages being spoken: I identified Spanish and Russian and heard a number of others. We also saw lots of dogs, including the teeniest chihuahua ever named Luna. Then we drove back to town and invited whoever was around to Jerkins for dinner. Richard Bonomo came right away, then Hardingfele came and got everyone to buy pastries to support her daughter Rockstar Tailor’s trip out to Washington DC later this school year. Luxuli and Prairie Man arrived after that, and Catzookz and Twins Fan even put in an appearance. It was a really fun evening considering the short notice!

Yesterday after Mass, Travalon and I joined Luxuli, Prairie Man, and many of our choir members at the Come Back Inn for brunch, then we went home and watched that exciting Packers game. That was the first time Aaron Rodgers won in Miami, and the outcome was far from certain until the very end of the game. The announcers kept saying Rodgers was channeling Dan Marino. It had been a nice day, but when we took Rodney to the dog park after the game, it was cold and a little bit drizzly. We went to a show my coworker Handy Woman recommended called Once, about a musician in Ireland who is encouraged by a Czech lady, and how they start to fall in love despite the forces keeping them apart. Spoiler alert: it had a bittersweet ending, since it was based on a true story and real life doesn’t always work out the way you’d like it to. That’s the plus about believing in God – you have someone to thank profusely when it does!

Famous Hat

Friday, October 10, 2014

Old Hat Family Photo

Ma and Pa Hat sent me this old family photo, which hopefully they don't mind me posting on this blog. I'm not sure of the date of this, but it would be from the late 70's or the very early 80's. Can you believe two such blond kids could be of partially West African descent? I love the outfits Ma and Pa Hat are wearing, especially their pants. And notice our guinea pig Jennapig featured prominently on my lap. She was the first creature I ever saw go from young and vigorous to old and frail.

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blood Moon: 5 am

I forgot about the lunar eclipse yesterday morning at 5 am and slept right through it, but quite a few of my coworkers saw it. My boss took an amazing photo of it, which he said I could share with you. For more of his photography, check out his website:

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Irish Language Classes

I am guessing that my regular readers want a rundown of my intensive Irish language weekend. It started Friday evening with a couple hours of class. We were divided into four levels, and I was in the beginning “never spoken the language before” level. One woman in our level was kicked up to Level Two the next day, but the rest of my classmates were as clueless as I was. Our teacher was an energetic lady from Connemara who taught us the standard greeting in her dialect, and I can’t even begin to describe how it goes because it has sounds we just don’t have in English. It basically means, “God be with you,” and then the response is, “God and Mary be with you.” Then she taught us how beginning consonant sounds change in Irish depending upon the context, like if you were addressing someone named Colorado you would say, “A Cholorado,” which is pronounced like a ch in German, basically. However, if you were standing in Colorado, you would say, “i gColorado,” which is pronounced Golorado. I was relieved that she and another teacher, who was from Donegal, both agreed that Irish standard spelling makes no sense, so it isn’t just us English speakers who think so!

Friday evening after class we played a game somewhat like Taboo, where we were split into teams with a person from each level on each team, plus a teacher. The fourth level student would try to describe a word in Irish, and then the rest of us were supposed to provide the word in Irish. The teacher was there to do some translating for us poor first level students. Then after about ten minutes we got a different fourth level student so we got to work with all of them, which is only fair since some were better at this game than others. A guy from Dublin was really good at it, not just because his Irish is so good but because he was just good at describing concepts, like he said, “A big plant in the forest” in Irish, and someone said the Irish word for tree. Our team did not win, but we came in second.

Saturday morning class started at nine, which was a bit cruel in my estimation, but I got going with even enough time to grab a coffee and croissant beforehand. We learned some useful phrases, like how to say, “My name is ____,” but if I write them for you, they will make no sense. Irish is a language best learned by hearing rather than reading, is what I got out of all this. For the most part it isn’t too hard to pronounce, though there are definitely sounds we don’t use in English. But I still could not predict how to spell something I’d heard, or pronounce something I’d seen written. One thing I did learn is that a word starting with a bhf is pronounced with a w. Doesn’t that make sense? Or maybe it’s a fbh, I can’t remember offhand, and my notes are at home.

We had a break for lunch, and I went to pray the rosary in the Perpetual Adoration chapel, but unfortunately I still have not learned how to pray it in Irish so it was just good old English for me. In the late afternoon we could take a dancing class, a singing class, or watch an Irish movie; you will no doubt be stunned to learn that I chose singing. My teacher commented on how quickly I picked up the language, and she would ask me if I remembered what particular words meant. It’s good to know I still have a gift for languages, even in middle age. At night there was a concert given by the man who taught the singing class, but I skipped it to hear Bach.

Sunday class began at the slightly more humane hour of ten, so I had plenty of time to get coffee and a muffin beforehand but not quite enough to go to Mass. I was overjoyed to hear there would be free classes in Irish here in town but then very sad to hear they would be on Tuesday evenings, right during my regular adoration hour. Today I called the chapel coordinator, and he was happy to switch my hour, especially since my boss is OK with me taking a long lunch on Mondays to cover an hour they desperately needed to fill. I should be able to stay late on Mondays to make up the time, so I’ll still get adoration in every week, plus I’ll get to keep going with Irish. So life is good.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 6, 2014

Note Takers at Mass

This weekend most of my time was spent in Irish class, which should merit its own blog post, so this will be about what I did the rest of the weekend. Saturday evening Tiffy came into town, and we had dinner at Himal Chuli’s (one of her favorite restaurants) and then went to a Madison Bach Musicians’ concert at Christ Presbyterian. The usual suspects played and were as good as ever, but the guest musicians (a soprano, a bass, and a Baroque oboist) were so amazing that afterwards Tiffy said, “This might have been my favorite concert ever by them!” and I had to agree. The audience gave them a standing ovation.

Sunday morning after my Irish class was over, I met Tiffy and Travalon at the Manna Café for brunch. That place is always crazy busy, probably because it is so good. I had the Hakuna Fritatta, which has lots of kale in it, and so did Tiffy, while Travalon had the Ojibwe Scramble with wild rice in it. They are both really tasty, but we all agreed the rice really adds something special to the Ojibwe Scramble. Then Tiffy and I went to the Treinen Corn Maze, which was Athena’s owl this year. We found enough secret stamps to both get special maze pens, which have little plastic mazes inside of them with tiny balls that can roll through them. We just love the corn maze, running around outside for hours while following a map and looking for secret stamps hidden in obscure corners. It exercises your body AND your brain!

After going to Rich’s house for dinner, Travalon and I had to go to the late Mass at St. Paul’s. This particular Mass starts at 9 pm and is geared towards college students, so the priest’s homilies are always about how they should be looking for good Catholic spouses. They even had cereal afterwards, but Travalon and I did not partake. We were a little weirded out by three young women sitting in our pew who were taking notes through the entire Mass. At first I thought they were just multitasking, doing homework while attending Mass, but slowly we realized they weren’t even participating in the Mass, they were just taking notes on it. Every time the priest did something interesting, like take the consecrated hosts out of the tabernacle, you could see them leaning over and writing madly. I was a little annoyed that they were treating the Mass like some kind of social spectacle and highly suspect they were taking notes for a class, maybe on Comparative Religion. So I prayed that the graces they received from attending Mass would lead them to the Church. At least they knew better than to receive Communion…

Famous Hat

Friday, October 3, 2014

Learning Irish

I am doing something a little frightening this weekend: I am taking an intensive course in the Irish language. Not only that, but I won’t know a soul in my class. The one person I kind of know is not going to be there. So imagine being thrown into a room full of strangers and having to speak a language you don’t really know. Hopefully we will all be in the same boat and the rest of them won’t already know enough Irish to get by… We’ll see how much I learn from this – maybe my next post will be in Irish! It’s been so many years since I studied a foreign language, and those were all Romance languages. This is a little intimidating, and I’m missing a band gig to do it, but I’ve always wanted to learn my ancestral tongue. (Although honestly a strong case could be made for English being my ancestral tongue, and I’m mostly fluent in that.) I’ll let you know how it all goes!

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Putin as a Dog

I have nothing to say today, so I’m posting this photo of Putin reincarnated as a dog, which I stole off of either Twisted Sifter or Bored Panda, two very fine sites. If Rodney were a person, I’m not sure who he would be, but Kathbert says he looks like a Muppet.

Here, for the sake of reference, is a photo of Putin.

Famous Hat