Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Farewell to 2015

As 2015 is drawing to a close, I have to say that, for me, it was just about as wonderful as 2014. Which is really saying something, because last year I got married and had a honeymoon in Ireland. This year Travalon and I had our big trip to Hawaii and spent a lot of time out on our boat, and it’s hard to ask for a better year than that. We even had fun binge-watching (I guess that’s a thing now) Soap and Downton Abbey. I got more adept at Irish and sort of learned to play the ukulele – who says you can’t learn new things at my age? Which will be one year older on Sunday. How will 2016 compete? Will the Packers actually go to the Super Bowl? Will I get another raise at work? Will we start a family? Stay tuned, and I hope all my regular readers have a wonderful New Year’s and a blessed 2016.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another Unlucky Tuesday

I am having a grumpy day. Historically, Tuesdays have often been the worst day of the week for me; for example, September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. Today has, fortunately, not been anything like that, but I am feeling grumpy nonetheless. It started with an agent who had sent in an order and rounded down the amount on the check so they didn’t pay the whole amount. Now if you go into a grocery store and the cost is $25.38 and you hand the cashier $25 and say, “Let’s call it even,” nobody is going for that. I decided not to bother to send the check back to India but did send an email saying this was dishonest of them, and to my surprise they took issue with being called dishonest for “rounding down.” If everyone rounded down, we would be out a lot of money. I said in the United States this is indeed dishonest, so tough if you feel insulted, since we are already giving you a discount. So far they haven’t responded.

The second thing that happened was that I thought I had a good idea to do something generous for someone, so I sent an email about it to some other people. Several people replied that it was a good idea and they wanted in on it, but one person replied to everyone and said how my idea was really quite foolish and this person had a far better idea. When I responded testily but just to that person, this individual was surprised that I would be annoyed by what they did. Now I’m not sure if anyone will still agree with my idea, since it has been so publicly ridiculed, and maybe nothing will happen at all, which is par for the course.

The third thing is my own fault, and such a small thing that it shouldn’t even affect my mood, but I forgot my iPhone while taking my lunchtime walk. This means I got no credit for the mile-plus that I walked (through snow!) and the two flights of stairs I went up. Of course in reality I get “credit” for it, and it still burned calories even if my iPhone didn’t record it, but I like getting “official” credit for my exercise. It makes my daily average look better.

Maybe that will be it for today. They say bad things happen in threes. Although, come to think of it, this morning my car had been plowed in and it took fifteen minutes and Travalon’s help to get out, so I was late for work. So that’s four. Tuesday, why do you hate me so?

Famous Hat

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Very Hat Christmas

I hope my readers had a good Christmas. Mine was good, but very busy. Christmas Eve Travalon and I ran errands in the morning, then we went to his family’s Christmas lunch, where we had turducken, which I had heard of but had never tried. It is a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. It was really good and had spicy Cajun cornbread stuffing. People brought a lot of vegetable dishes, which made me happy, but we were bad and brought cheesecake. Then Travalon and I had to rush back to town for “midnight Mass” at 5:00 pm, and the carol sing beforehand. Afterwards we went home and I made the cassata, then I brought it to Rich’s and managed to get chocolate everywhere, including on my hat, my gloves, my coat, and Rich’s front door. Rich was having a tree decorating party, and several people were there decorating the tree, including Catzookz and Twins Fan. Rich had gotten a very large tree in this way: he went to buy a tree the day before, but the guy who was selling them had already packed up. However, there was one very tall tree left behind, so Rich got a free tree that was too tall for his living room. He set it up in the solarium area, which I found enchanting because when he first got his house, I imagined a tree in the solarium and little kids peeking at it from the loft. I looked down at it from the loft, and it was as wonderful as I’d hoped, except that there were no little kids, and no presents around the bottom of the tree. Also, Travalon and I exchanged gifts that evening after Mass; I gave him the genetics test Rich gave me a couple of years ago, a special Smithsonian issue about the Civil War, and a book about Downton Abbey, and he gave me the Rap Yearbook, a hat kind of like Famous Hat but more for spring than summer, an Ahman Green jersey, and stuff to learn Welsh: a dictionary and a CD course. Why not, now that I have almost mastered Irish? Might as well throw another Celtic language into the mix!

Christmas Day Travalon and I got in the car and drove to the Dells, where we used part of the Starbucks gift card that Handy Woman had given me for Christmas. We continued on to Ma and Pa Hat’s house and arrived not long before Christmas dinner, which was lasagna. (Same as at Rich’s.) My brother made these amazing chocolate raspberry individual cakes which he said were based on the cassata, although they weren’t that similar. My nephews, who are 21 and 19, were there too, and they are delightful young men and very good conversationalists. Travalon and I brought raspberry beer from New Glarus to enjoy with dessert, and we didn’t even know it was going to be raspberry flavored! It was just a lucky coincidence. The funniest part of the gift exchange was when Ma and Pa Hat gave my brother jalapeno spam and chorizo spam and a spam cutting board, all from the Spam Museum gift shop. Travalon and I left in the early evening and stopped to get something to eat in La Crosse, but Jerkins was the only thing open in town so it was packed. We ended up getting all the way to Mauston and finding a Denny’s there for quite a late bite to eat.

Saturday Travalon had to work in the morning, so I met Rich and another woman for coffee, then Rich and I went to Mo Girl’s house to see what she had left from the religious art store she is shutting down. To our surprise, she, the married B-Boy, and her college friend gave us lunch before we saw the art, then Rich and I picked out a few things, and she gave them to us for Christmas and my birthday. She even insisted on giving something to Travalon for his birthday – a statue of St. Anthony that he says will watch over the stuff in his Man Cave. In the evening I had the Immediate Family Christmas Dinner with Rich and Kathbert, and Travalon joined us for dessert. There had been quite a crowd the day before, but Rich did manage to save us some cassata and pie. He also cracked out the cookies Anna Banana II had sent, but we were too full after his lasagna and the cassata and pie to try any. Hopefully he doesn’t eat them all before we get back there…

Yesterday Travalon and I had a quiet day, then in the afternoon we went to a young couple’s house with some others to choose our characters for a game we are going to play. I watched the first three quarters of that disastrous Packer game quite intently but gave up on the fourth quarter to create my character. Her name is Iconostasia – my big decision was whether to spell that with a C or a K, but I was advised to go with a C. Mostly this seemed to be an excuse to eat homemade pizza, spinach salad, and the cookies from my cookie exchange. Travalon and I got home at a decent hour, so we watched some more Downton Abbey. We should finish up the last season tonight, so we’ll be all ready for the season premiere on Sunday! Of course, now they have changed the time of the Packers game, and they are playing the Vikings, so we will have to make some tough decisions. I hate having to make decisions, and it will be my birthday, so extra yucky. Luckily we can record one or the other…     

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Card Mix-Up

I have a lot to do and not a lot to say, but my blogging may be somewhat sporadic for the next few days so it’s worth putting something up as a post, even if it isn’t my most scintillating writing. Yesterday I ordered personalized Christmas cards from a pharmacy that will remain nameless, and they emailed me midday to say they were ready. After work I happily picked them up, went home, and started making dinner. When Travalon came home, I wanted to show him our cards, but to my horror they had given us the wrong cards, and I couldn’t leave in the middle of making dinner. Because Travalon is a prince among men, he ran over to the pharmacy and picked up our Christmas cards, which had already been returned by the other couple who erroneously received them. (And I’m sure they were happy to get their own cards!) Better yet, Nameless Pharmacy gave us a generous gift card for our inconvenience! Then I made cookies for our cookie exchange at work today. Five of us participated, so I don’t have nearly the dazzling variety I used to get at the cookie exchanges at my previous job, when we would have over a dozen people participate. I made peanut butter blossoms, which are one of my favorites and are very easy – the hard part is unwrapping the chocolate kisses that go on each cookie. Then tonight and/or tomorrow I will make the cassata for Rich’s dinner, but this year Travalon and I are going to Ma and Pa Hat’s for Christmas Dinner. Wishing a very Merry Christmas to all 5.6 of my faithful readers!

Famous Hat

Monday, December 21, 2015

Light Bright's Farewell Performance

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had an enjoyable one myself. Friday at work we had a taco bar potluck and white elephant gift exchange (I got a Star Wars cup I gave to Travalon), then in the evening Travalon and I went to the fish fry at the East Side Club. Saturday morning I wanted to go to confession; the line was quite long, but I started a rosary and, to my immense joy, finished up just as I got to the head of the line. Then Travalon and I had coffee at the Crossroads Coffee House in Cross Plains. It was a sunny but cold day, so we talked about taking a hike outside but ended up staying inside until the evening, when we ventured out for pizza at Café Porta Alba and the movie Brooklyn, about a girl from Ireland who comes over to Brooklyn in the early 1950’s. It was highly recommended by my Irish teacher and one of my classmates, and it was a lovely little movie with no explosions or even bad guys, just a story of a girl trying to fit into a new place. At one point she has to go back to Ireland, and then she has to make a decision: go back to her old life there, or return to her new life in Brooklyn? I won’t give any more of it away.

Yesterday did not start auspiciously, because first I did the morning prayers for the wrong day and didn’t have enough time to do the right ones, then during Mass my carol book was missing the German words for “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming,” and I could maybe sing the English ones from memory, but the German ones? Forget it! As soon as the choir finished singing the song, I realized that page was put into the book backwards, and the German words were just on the other side. D’oh! The rest of the day did improve. First Travalon and I took Rodney for a hike by the river, then we drove with OK Cap to Roxbury to see Light Bright’s farewell performance with her band, and Jilly Moose met us there. Travalon and I were kind of bummed about missing the Packer game, but wouldn’t you know we found seats where we could watch the band AND the game! And the Packers won! This was at the Dorf Haus, so the four of us stayed for dinner. I asked Light Bright if it was OK to put a picture of her baby on this blog, and she said sure, everyone else is plastering his photos all over MyFace, so here is Corban:

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Imaginary Xtranormal Movie

I have nothing to blog about today, so I was going to create an Xtranormal movie, since I still had some money in my account. However, Xtranormal apparently ceased to exist in 2013. Did you know that? I sure didn't. Did they send me an email I missed? So I'll just have to describe the cute little animated movie I was going to make.

Scene 1: a hippy chick gets onto the bus and sits next to a woman who looks like a librarian. The librarian says, "Charlie! What have you been up to?"
(Famous Hat is surprised that Charlie and Ms. Librarian would even know each other.)
Charlie: "I'm learning to train tigers."
Librarian: "Really? How do you even learn to do something like that?"
Charlie: "I have experience training horses. Honestly, the hardest part was getting the commercial driver's license because the circus wants the trainers to also drive the trucks they haul the tigers around in."

Scene 2: Paris, France. Famous Hat is discussing odd conversations she has overheard with some other people. She recounts the story of Charlie and the Librarian.
Another Person: "Hey, I know Charlie!"
Famous Hat: "Really? Is she still training tigers?"
Another Person: "I doubt it. She just got married."

Perhaps I have already bored you with this 100% true story, but I thought it might have made a cute Xtranormal movie. Unfortunately, you will just have to imagine it.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Photos of Green Bay and Christmas Lights

Today was a fun day at work, because the director of the whole place took us out for pie at the Norske Nook, since we published a cookbook of their famous pies. I tried to order a slice to take home for Travalon on my own bill, but the director heard me, and he said, "No, put it on my bill." What a generous guy!

As promised, here are some photos. First are a couple of shots of a harpsichord at a concert Tiffy, OK Cap, and I attended a few weeks ago.

This is Brett Favre's bronze football at the Packer Hall of Fame:

This lovely shrine is in St. Willibrod, the church where Vince Lombardi attended daily Mass. I took some shots of the interior of the church, but they didn't turn out as well.

This is the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, just north of Green Bay:

This is the Christmas tree in the State Capitol:

And this is the flute band playing in the Capitol. Notice the very large flute on the far right side of the picture, which is shaped like the number 4.

This is my church decorated for Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is decorated differently every year.

Here are some shots of Christmas lights - a house in my neighborhood, and two shots of the most impressive one in town, with moving lights. (I should have made a movie! Maybe I still can...)

And finally, a not very good movie I shot of the Santa Clauses (and one reindeer) on bikes that we kept seeing go by all day long on Saturday:

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Very Baroque Weekend

I apologize for my silence yesterday – I had a bad cold and didn’t even have the energy to blog. Today, however, I am feeling much better and will recount my music-filled weekend to my 5.6 readers.

Friday evening the Dairyman’s Daughter, Tiffy, and I met at Swagat Indian Restaurant for dinner, then we went to Blackhawk Church to see the Messiah performance which I have performed in previously. This was my first time experiencing it as an audience member, and I just loved it!

Saturday Travalon and I met Tiffy, Rich, and another woman for coffee, then Tiffy and I walked up State Street, which was a very festive place in anticipation of the holidays. We encountered a brass band playing Christmas carols, a choir of Epic employees singing Christmas carols, and inside the Capitol Building we saw an all-flute band playing – you guessed it – Christmas carols. The biggest flute was shaped like the number four. I took photos and will try to post them tomorrow. Then Tiffy and I met Rich for lunch at a Peruvian restaurant by the name of Crandall’s (which doesn’t seem like a Peruvian name, but who am I to judge?), and then she and I rode the free Holiday Trolley up and down State Street and around the Capital Square. We tried the Basque cake at Estrellon and then headed home to join Travalon for dinner at the Nau-Ti-Gal before we ladies headed to the Madison Bach Musicians’ Christmas Concert. Was I ever in Baroque music heaven this weekend! Afterwards Tiffy and I drove around and checked out the most impressive Christmas lights in town.

Yesterday I was not feeling so well. Tiffy took off after Mass and brunch, then I napped until Travalon agreed to go to the Christmas handbell concert with me, even if it meant missing the first half of the Packer game. We recorded it, anyway. We met Rich there and checked the score during intermission, but it was 0-0 so I said we weren’t missing anything. The first half of the concert featured some of my favorite carols, and the second half was even more fun – Christmas music from all over! My favorite was a Caribbean number, but there were also cool ones from Taiwan and Africa. (Sorry, country not specified – I’m aware Africa is a whole continent, but that is all they told us about it.) We checked the Packer score as soon as the concert was over, and they were leading the Cowboys by two touchdowns, so clearly we had missed something. We headed to the East Side Club to watch the rest of the game, and the Packers beat the Cowboys 28-7, then we went to the Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant, for dinner. When we got home, we watched the second quarter of the game to see those two touchdowns we had missed. Then I went to bed but couldn’t sleep, so yesterday I stayed home from work. Of course, it is our busiest time of the year, so not the time I want to be missing work… But I did get caught up today.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tudor Dinner

The Dairyman’s Daughter was planning to go to the Tudor Dinner at the Union last night with Richard Bonomo and another friend, but the third person backed out, so she asked if I wanted to go. I had gone once in the past, so I said sure. The dinner starts with hors d’oeuvres, and one of the first things was a cheese plate, but just after we passed it, they brought out a new one with both cheese and sausage. C’est la vie – we did get the mushroom pastries, which was my favorite part. They also had wassail, both spiked and virgin, to drink before dinner, as well as other beverages that you had to purchase. The dinner was a sit-down affair, and I felt underdressed in my sweater and jeans because so many people treated it like a black-tie affair. Of course, I had to walk over from work, so wearing a fancy cocktail dress and heels would not have been practical. The main course was pheasant AND lamb, which sounded like way too much meat to both the Dairyman’s Daughter and me, but she hadn’t seen anywhere to sign up for the vegetarian option when she registered. I did ask if they had any spare vegetarian entrees (mushroom ragout over polenta), and they did, so I got one. The salad before dinner, with craisins and gorgonzola cheese and a vinaigrette dressing, was so amazing that I had thirds. We also got two desserts, figgy pudding (which a lot of people didn’t like) and a frosted sugar cookie, both overwhelmingly sweet. Wine was extra, but you could have all the water you wanted with dinner, and after dinner they brought around coffee. During dinner the Philharmonic Chorus strolled around in small groups, serenading the tables with Christmas carols. Right before dinner they processed through the hall with a fake boar’s head, singing “The Boar’s Head Carol,” and they also sang a figgy pudding song before dessert. After we ate, they put on a whole concert of Christmas music, and we were also asked to sing along on a few familiar numbers. Every year they finish with Mozart’s “Dona Nobis Pacem” round. I would highly recommend the Tudor dinner, although it isn’t cheap. Still, food and music? How can you go wrong?

For those who think I only listen to early music (and hip hop), this morning I listened to Poulenc’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” Durufle’s “Tota Pulchra Es,” Herbeck’s “Pueri Concinite,” and of course Tavener’s “The Lamb.” And yes, I cried. If any of my readers are curious about these songs or any others I might mention, they can all be found on YouTube.   

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Downton Abbey with American Accents

Today I had no idea what to blog about, so Travalon suggested Downton Abbey. I don’t know what to say about it, but last night after running (it’s true, I haven’t been able to get it in first thing in the morning this week), I turned on the TV to Stephen Colbert’s talk show, and he was interviewing three of the cast members. For anyone who watches the show, they were the actors who play Lord Grantham, Tom Branson, and Lady Mary. Colbert insisted the only reason Americans love the show is because of their “plummy” British accents, so he had them read a scene from the show using American accents. Hugh Bonneville kind of came across like a Texan, but Allen Leech could do a perfect Millennial slacker. It was so funny! I was snuggling Cashmere, and she must have wondered why I was laughing so hard. In case you would like to see this scene for yourself, I found it on YouTube:

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

In Tears

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and I will have to miss part of Irish class to go to Mass. I could have gone to the vigil Mass last night but was way too tired after working late, so this is the price I pay for my laziness. Hopefully Mass is somewhat brief so that I can actually get to Irish class before it is completely over! Speaking of laziness, last night Travalon and I did not go swimming (so I walked in place for an hour while watching Downton Abbey), and this morning I did not get up in time to run. Rich just sent an email that he is going to UGGH Club tomorrow morning, but that is undoubtedly at 6 am, and sorry, I just can’t do that. Hopefully Travalon and I can get ourselves to the health club tonight…

I have nothing in particular to blog about today, so let me tell all my readers what a dork I am – I was so excited when the Holiday Train arrived that I cried a little bit. Other things that reliably make me cry, but not in an unhappy way, are Tavener’s “The Lamb” and the part of our wedding video where Travalon and I are exchanging our vows. (Although I did not cry at the time, but maybe a little bit when the priest presented us at the end of the Mass as the “New Mr. and Mrs. Travalon.”) I even cried a little bit on New Year’s Day when the Badgers won the Outback Bowl and on Christmas Eve during “Silent Night,” which is not even a carol I particularly like. Believe me, it is not hard for me to cry at something sad, but what makes a person cry for joy? Am I getting more tearful as I get older? Perhaps everyone gets more sentimental with the march of time. Feel free to tell me in the comments if you cry more easily now than when you were younger.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 7, 2015

Travalon's 50th Birthday Party

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I certainly enjoyed the mild weather. Friday evening Travalon and I went to the East Side Club for their newly resurrected fish fry, and we had catfish with a Southern-style breading. It was good, but the very best part was the brandy old fashioned-flavored cheesecake. We were too full to eat them for dessert, so we took them to go and had them for breakfast the next day. Oh my goodness, were they delicious! We just love having dinner at the East Side Club, with its magnificent view of downtown and the Monona Terrace.

Saturday I had wanted to go see the Holiday Train, and its closest stop was Portage, so Travalon said we could go on the river walk there beforehand. We walked with Rodney along the river and then along the canal, and then we had lunch at a tavern right by the trail. There appeared to be only one waitress working, but she did a great job. We got to the train depot in time to see the Holiday Train pull in; it was covered with lights, but because it was such a beautiful sunny day, we couldn’t really see them. I was as excited as the little kids all around us – more, even – but I was less excited when a stage opened up in one of the cars and a country band played on it for about half an hour. Next year we will have to see the train in the dark, and maybe even ride on it! As it pulled out, Santa waved to us all from the end of it. You were supposed to donate food or money to the local food pantry while you were there, so I did make a monetary donation, since we had forgotten to bring any nonperishable food items.

In the evening, the guys had Steak Night, so I met with some ladies from the Slow Food group at a restaurant called Estrellon, which has a Spanish theme. They have lovely tapas, and the portions for the regular plates are also small, but they are so good that somehow they totally fill you up. The other four had the rainbow trout, but I had the grilled octopus, and we split vegetarian paella. Supposedly the Basque cake is amazing, but we were all too full to try it. I did have a beautiful and tasty cocktail made from a berry that grows in the Basque region.

Yesterday Travalon went to visit his family, so I went to the All-University Choral Holiday Concert with Richard Bonomo and Cecil Markovitch. (We thought Kathbert would be there too, but we never saw her.) This is a free event, and you have to get there early to grab a seat, so I was saving seats for Rich and Kathbert (only it turned out to be for Cecil), and a woman got really nasty about trying to take them from me. Why, I don’t know – there was a free seat right behind us, as I pointed out, so she finally relented and took it. I guess she just didn’t like that one as well. In the evening, Rich hosted a birthday party for Travalon. Kathbert, the Single B-Boy, the Rosary Ladies and Prairie Man, and a young couple from our church came and enjoyed chicken parmesan and black magic birthday cake. Travalon got lots of loot and a very funny card from Jilly Moose that said: “A long, long, long time ago…” and then you open it and it plays the Star Wars theme, and it says: “You were born!” He also got a musical card from Ma and Pa Hat; that one plays “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, and it was a special 50th birthday card. Now that he has been properly feted, it is back to the real world – today he found out his favorite supervisor at work has left. Hopefully he gets an even better one…

Famous Hat

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hail Mary Pass

Did you watch that game last night? That game! What??? The first quarter, it appeared neither the offense nor the defense for the Pack had shown up to play, as they let the Lions quickly score 17 points. Then the defense started going to work, but the offense still couldn’t get anything going, so it was 20-0 at halftime in favor of the Lions. I looked online to see if the Packers could have been cursed and discovered, to my surprise, that when Mike Ditka wore that Packers sweater in a McDonald’s commercial, the Packers had stunk ever since so Bears fans were calling it the Ditka Sweater Curse. “I knew it!” I thought. “There really is a curse on them!”

But then, in the second half, things started to turn around, as if my awareness of the curse had broken it, just like that. Starks was running toward the goal line but fumbled, and just when I thought, “There they go again!” it was recovered in the end zone by Cobb – touchdown! Ugly and weird, but we’d take it! I was so relieved that it wasn’t going to be a shutout. Tiffy texted that miracles can happen, and I replied that at least it wouldn’t be a totally humiliating loss. Then the offense began racking up points while the defense held the Lions to one field goal. Rodgers even ran one in for a touchdown and got the longest run of the night. Why didn’t they put Lacy in? I’m sure I don’t know – he may have fumbled a couple of times in earlier games, but he was like the only thing going on for the offense in those games. Finally the score was 23-21, so the Packers just needed a field goal to win by one point, but they ran out of time and tried some weird lateral action, throwing the ball around and eventually getting it back to Rodgers. He was tackled – end of game… but wait! A flag! The guy who tackled him grabbed his facemask! We got one more down outside of time, so Rodgers got out of the pocket, evaded a couple of guys, and flung the ball so high and so far that it went almost 70 yards to the end zone, where the other Rodgers leapt up, caught it, and fell back into the end zone. Touchdown on a Hail Mary pass!! The Lions couldn’t believe it! (Sorry, Prairie Man.) I know the facemask call is a little controversial, but the refs missed a pass interference call against the Lions a few downs earlier, so what comes around, goes around. Anyway, there’s no arguing with Aaron Rodgers’ pass to Richard Rodgers – a perfect throw and perfect catch! Travalon and I couldn’t believe it, and Tiffy texted: “OMG!” It was Aaron Rodgers’ 32nd birthday the day before, so what a birthday present!

It has been quite a week for birthdays, not just Rodgers and of course Travalon’s big one, but Sunday my bunny Cashmere turned a decade old. How did I commemorate this momentous event? I gave her a piece of banana, just like every morning, and snuggled her in the evening while watching Downton Abbey.

One more odd note - for some reason my "Very Boring Post" is attracting a lot of attention from Ukrainian readers. Yesterday over 50 of them read it, unless it was the same person reading it 50 times. Still, of all the posts to read, why that one? The name implies how mundane it is.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Birthday Pilgrimage to Lambeau

Sorry for my silence yesterday. Tuesday was Travalon’s birthday, of course, but I had to work, so we just went out for a wonderful dinner at Samba, a Brazilian grill. They have the most amazing salad bar, and then waiters come around with things from the grill on skewers, generally different types of meat but I was most in love with the grilled pineapple. It had a touch of cinnamon, and oh, was it delicious! This has to be one of the best restaurants in town. They even gave Travalon a free dessert for his birthday, so he chose coconut custard. SO good! For his birthday present (besides dinner), I gave him a coffee table book about Green Bay and the Packers that I had gotten back on our pilgrimage to Lambeau Field when Anna Banana II was in the state.

Yesterday Travalon and I took a trip in honor of his birthday. He had been discussing going to either a water park in the Dells or sort of a museum day in Milwaukee, but he was inspired by the book I had given him and wanted to voyage to Green Bay to see Vince Lombardi’s old house and church. We drove up to Lambeau Field and toured the Packer Hall of Fame, which really drove home how historic the team is. Even if the Pack are lousy at the moment (or hopefully not – we’ll see if they can beat the Lions tonight), they have had many periods of greatness over the years. It seems like such a shame that all the other small-town teams were disbanded. An interesting note: because the Packers are a non-profit organization, they are the only team in the NFL that has to report revenue. Because of this, people base what they think other teams make on what they know the Packers make, but I wonder if their results are skewed, since the Pack have an unusually loyal fan base and so sell out every game and move a LOT of merchandise. In that spirit, Travalon and I went to the Packer Pro Shop and bought some stuff, like a Lambeau Field hoodie I am wearing today and a DVD about Vince Lombardi. We ate a late lunch at the restaurant there, which was very tasty, then we drove by Lombardi’s old house, which is a very nice house but nothing too ostentatious. Coaches then didn’t make the ridiculous salaries that they do now. We also went to St. Willibrord Church, where Lombardi went to daily Mass, and were somewhat surprised that there were two other Catholic churches within two blocks. I guess they were all started by different ethnicities; St. Willibrord is the historically Dutch church. Travalon and I had hoped to go to a state park with historical buildings, but by the time we figured out how to get to it, it had just closed. Instead, we went to Our Lady of Good Help shrine, where they were having exposition. On the way home we stopped in Fond du Lac to admire their Christmas decorations and grab a bite to eat, then we got home and watched the Lombardi DVD. This meant I got to bed too late, and this morning I got up with plenty of time to get to work, but no time to run. Maybe I’ll run tonight, while watching the Packers.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

50 Reasons I Love Travalon

Today Travalon turns 50. I can’t think of a clever poem to write, so instead I’ll write 50 reasons I love him:

  1. His smile
  2. His blue eyes
  3. His generosity
  4. His kindness
  5. The dinners he cooks for me
  6. The road trips he takes me on
  7. The secret places all over the state that he shows me
  8.  His love of nature
  9. His love of history
  10. His love of animals
  11. Because he always changes the rabbit’s cage
  12. The clever things he says
  13. Because he lets me change the radio station to my favorite shows
  14. Because he goes swimming with me even after a long day at work
  15. His work ethic
  16. His good nature
  17. Because he shares the sheets with me
  18. Because he reads my silly blog
  19. And because he even comments on it
  20. And because he even started one of his own
  21. His sense of adventure
  22. His love of good food and drink
  23. His curiosity about the world
  24. Because he understands that I need “girlfriend time”
  25. Because he likes my friends
  26. His masculinity, strong but not overbearing
  27. His love of the Packers
  28. His sense of wonder
  29. His love of music, even when our tastes don’t intersect
  30. His imitation of Julie Andrews
  31. His imitation of Tom Petty
  32. His love of water
  33. His funny texts
  34. His amazing gift-giving abilities
  35. His Anglophile tendencies
  36. His sense of humor about life
  37. His love of basketball, which I’m beginning to share
  38. How much he has to teach me about sports
  39. How much he has to teach me about Wisconsin
  40. His interest in staying active
  41. His decorating skills, e.g., with his Man Cave
  42. Because he doesn’t get on my case for my lack of domestic skills
  43. Because he vacuums and sweeps the floors
  44. Because he would be the best dad ever
  45. Because he is the most devoted son ever
  46. His love of travel
  47. His willingness to eat broccoli
  48. Because he tolerates all my plants
  49. Because he usually does the grocery shopping
  50. Because he believes in God and goes to church with me
That one is last, but not least, by any means. This is not a complete list, but just the first fifty things that popped into my head.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Part Two and Hiking by the Wisconsin River

I hope my readers had a great weekend. I had a pretty good one myself. Friday evening Richard Bonomo and I had fish fry at the Fountain, then The Dairyman’s Daughter and I went to see the Vienna Boys’ Choir perform at the Overture Center. A surprising number of people had brought very tiny children, and The Dairyman’s Daughter wondered why they couldn’t find sitters, but I thought maybe they were misguided enough to think that toddlers would be interested in a boys’ choir. Several people had to take screaming or fussing kids out of the hall. The boys did very familiar pieces, except for my favorite, “Ave Verum Corpus” by Poulenc. To our surprise, we ran into Tiffy and some of her family members there, so she and I agreed that we would see a movie together the next day.

Saturday morning Travalon had to work, so I met Rich, Luxuli, and another woman for coffee. Tiffy joined Rich and me for lunch at Himal Chuli’s, her favorite restaurant, then in the late afternoon she, Travalon, and I went to the final Hunger Games movie, which seems as if it would be very confusing if you hadn’t read the book. Travalon and I checked out a customer appreciation party at the Nau-Ti-Gal, then we joined Rich, Kathbert, Luxuli, and Prairie Man for Thanksgiving Part Two at Rich’s house.

Sunday I had been thinking of going to a Baroque music concert, but I forgot all about it and went to Sauk City with Travalon and Rodney. We took a hike on a trail along the Wisconsin River, then we stopped into the Blue Spoon Diner for some coffee to warm up, and then we drove to Ferry Bluff, but it is closed this time of year due to the bald eagles breeding. Actually, nobody is there to stop you, and there is no gate up, but there were signs, so we decided to be good citizens and obey them. We stopped into our favorite resort on Crystal Lake, and then we checked out That BBQ Joint for dinner. Warning: the spicy slaw is REALLY hot! It’s like one-third jalapeno peppers. The restaurant is on Willy Street, which Travalon says is the craziest street in the state, and we saw some interesting characters come in to get barbeque. Why not, it’s great food for a reasonable price. Then we picked up some stuff at the Willy Street Co-op, another place full of interesting characters. I once saw a guy in a giraffe costume there! Finally we headed home and watched Downton Abbey episodes for the first time in days. I am trying to get caught up before the new season starts, and we’re almost done with Season Three so we only have one more season to go.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

I hope all my readers had a happy Thanksgiving. Wednesday evening Travalon and I got dressed up and went downtown. We had dinner at the Tipsy Cow (including goat cheese curds – yum!) and then went to a Latin music festival. I had heard about it on MyFace from Miss Heartsong, but we didn’t see her there, although I did see one of the doctors I used to work with. The first band did a fusion of salsa and soul, then the second band was Latin jazz, and we didn’t stay for the third band but they are straight-up salsa – I’ve danced to them on the rooftop of the Monona Terrace many times before.

Yesterday we went to Travalon’s family’s Thanksgiving celebration for lunch. I met his one brother’s girlfriend for the first time, and she is very interesting to converse with. Another brother gave the best explanation of what is wrong in politics today that I’ve ever heard. (Basically we all want a balance between personal liberty and security, but the two parties veer to either extreme.) One of Travalon’s sisters-in-law surprised him with a birthday cake, since his birthday (a big one!) is on Tuesday. Then in the evening we attended Rich’s Thanksgiving Day dinner, for which we had provided the turkey. (Rich cooked it.) Kathbert, Luxuli, Prairie Man, Cecil Markovitch, El Vegetariano, and many other people were there – I believe there were sixteen of us in all. The only two sad notes were that nobody brought a pumpkin pie (there were four other kinds: Kentucky Derby, apple, lemon chiffon, and banana cream), and of course that sad, sad, sad Packers loss. How could they lose at home to the Bears?? On the night they retired Brett Favre’s number?? With Bart Starr present???? Oh Packers, you are a constant source of heartache to me! And to myriad other people, I’m sure.

One more note: Light Bright had her baby boy on the 16th. He was about 9 pounds and 21 inches. She sent me an adorable photo of him, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to share it on this blog. I will note that, for a newborn, he is extremely cute. In my opinion they usually look like raisins.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Improving in Irish

We are working our way, slowly and painfully, through a crime novel in Irish class. I am driving the teacher crazy because I keep commenting on the guy’s poor writing style (can’t help critiquing it, as a writer myself), and she keeps reminding me, “What we care about is the language, not the style.” For example, this guy throws in completely unnecessary details and then suddenly changes topics so you have no idea which character is being referred to. All of us were a bit thrown for a loop by one of his jumps. On the plus side, I am finding it is gradually getting easier to translate this piece of questionable literary merit. Last night after class I came home and told Travalon that I am really starting to learn this language. It is kind of amazing to think that, at my age, I can still learn a whole new language that has so little to do with any I’ve studied before. Even my Irish CDs are seeming less mysterious, and I can make out whole sentences in the conversations they are having. If I am ever lucky enough to get back to Ireland and find myself in an area where they speak the language, maybe I can even try conversing with the natives!

The teacher did tell us a funny story: her sister was traveling in Ireland recently, and when she got back, she commented on how large the town of Amach must be, because she kept seeing signs for it. Of course, “amach” just means “exit,” and I said I had heard a similar story from a guy who visited Germany and wondered why all the exits led to a town called “Ausfart.” I wonder if non-English speakers think we have an extraordinarily large city in this country called “Exit”?

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Life Insurance Sales Lady

I have a life insurance policy through my union, and a woman from the company wanted to come out to speak to me. We had an appointment set, but then, to my immense relief, she called it off on account of illness. She claimed she just had some paperwork for me to sign to get the money if I should have a terminal illness, but I suspected there was more to it than that. She also wanted Travalon to be there because she wanted to give him something. So last night she did come over, and when she looked me up on her computer, the first thing she said was, “You’re a Capricorn too!” I said yes, and Travalon’s a Sagittarius, and then she said so was her ex-husband. “It’s a combination that doesn’t work unless you both are willing to put a lot of work into it,” she said, which seems odd because Travalon is the lowest maintenance significant other I have ever had. Then she gave us a bunch of paperwork for the terminal illness rider, some health insurance supplement card that can even be used for Rodney’s subscription medication, and a certificate to get the money instantly for the funeral home in the event of my death. That all sounded well and good, but I was sure she wanted something more, and sure enough, she started to ask us all sorts of questions about what insurance we have. Her conclusion? I needed to buy more life insurance. I said, “No, thanks. I have plenty with my job.” She said that was all term insurance that will end when I retire, which may be true, but I don’t need any big, elaborate funeral that is going to set Travalon back so much money that my current policy won’t cover it. As far as I’m concerned, he can bury me in the marsh and have a potluck to celebrate my life, although that probably wouldn’t go over too well with the authorities. I remember from Mr. Why’s unfortunate demise that the funeral industry is always trying to push expensive options on the survivors, but Travalon can just say no. I won’t be offended if he doesn’t get the Remembrance Angel Bear.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 23, 2015

Saturday Miscommunications

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I didn’t want to brave the snow and go anywhere, so we walked forty feet to the Mariner’s Club for fish fry. Saturday the snow was still kind of bad in the morning. Tiffy wanted us to meet her and her sister for lunch, but we ended up missing each other due to miscommunications. I did get together with her in the afternoon, and then she, OK Cap, and I met Travalon for dinner at Oliva, a Mediterranean restaurant. Afterwards we three ladies went to a Baroque music concert, but I had gotten confused about the starting time, thinking there was a lecture beforehand, so we arrived just as we thought the lecture was finishing, but it was actually the start of intermission. Oh well, we only had to pay half price this way, and the second half of the concert was fantastic, especially Boccherini’s “Fandango.” Tiffy and I stayed up way too late that night finding songs we liked on YouTube.

Yesterday Tiffy joined the usual crowd for brunch, then she headed home. Travalon and I were invited to a “game night,” which was supposed to mean that we played games, but it turned out to be at the same time as the Packers game, so while the others played Settlers of Cattan, we watched the Packers actually win. I was tired of my brother and his punk friend trash-talking the Packers on MyFace, so I hoped this would shut them up, but of course today his friend said it was all bad officiating, and the referees must have been paid to throw the game to the Packers because otherwise of course the Vikings would have won. I know the refs often call things I don’t see, and don’t call things I do see, but this game didn’t seem any worse than usual. I am just amazed that this blowhard is trying so hard to find a way to say the Vikings are better than the Packers even after they lost – and quite decisively, I may add. It was not a very close game. 

Famous Hat

Friday, November 20, 2015

Feeling Young Again

Last night Travalon and I went to the East Side Club for their Thanksgiving Social, and after a dinner of traditional Thanksgiving favorites, we played “Name That Tune” with a member playing songs on one of those keyboards that does a backup beat for you. I have to say, I felt very young because he was playing tunes from the 50’s and 60’s for us to identify, and I didn’t know a single one. One woman who looked a little closer to my age requested that he do a disco-era song, so he did, and that was the one song I recognized, although neither Travalon nor I actually knew the tune’s name. It does seem to be human nature to gravitate toward the music that was popular when a person is a young adult, so for me that would be the late 80’s and early 90’s, and it has to be dance music. Tiffy had a tape once upon a time of dance club songs from our high school and college years, and I found my favorites from it on YouTube, so I have been running to them every morning, as well as a song I learned about from a high school boyfriend. This is my playlist:

“Psychoslaphead” – I think this is by Psychoslaphead, but that is supposedly a side project of Juno Reactor, who are much better known – they did the music for the Matrix movies
“Hurt You So” by Jonny L
“James Brown Is Dead” by LA Style – the only one that has a million hits on YouTube
“Jack the Lad” by 3 Man Island – this isn’t from Tiffy’s tape but from my high school boyfriend

Listening to this music always makes me feel 22 again. I posted these songs to MyFace, and not one person liked them. I also sent links to my coworker who used to go to the dance clubs back in the day, and he didn’t know them and said they were too “acid” for his tastes. Oh, well. At least a few other people must like these songs too, because they all have likes on YouTube.

After running to those four songs, I move on to songs from the 2010’s. Plenty of stuff to like nowadays, too, as long as it has a frenetic beat.

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What My Blog Should Be About

As often happens, I have no inspiration today, so I googled “What to blog about.” To my surprise, there was a quiz, but it wasn’t just to choose a topic for a particular post; it was to determine what your whole blog should be about. Some of the questions were frankly kind of dumb (for example, one asked what channel I would finally find something to watch on, and it listed four I never watch but had no “none of the above” option), so I just chose options I had actually heard of and was informed that I should blog about entertainment. This strikes me as pretty hilarious, since I am the sort of person who could see a celebrity on the street and at best think, “That person looks familiar. Where do I know him from? Does he go to my church?” More likely, I would not have the slightest glimmer of recognition. Of course there are people who know even less celebrity gossip than I do, but precious few, I’m sure. The few times I do read those brain candy celebrity magazines, like in waiting rooms, I hardly know who anyone is in them. Does this mean the quiz I took was inaccurate? Perhaps part of the reason my blog has such a limited sphere of influence is precisely because it is not about any one topic, but as my regular readers know, this blog’s motto is: “More random than a rabbit on a B17!” (See photo to the left.) Honestly, I think most of my readers just enjoy seeing their blog names in print, so here you go: Travalon, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, Richard Bonomo, Ma and Pa Hat, Lute Player, and possibly Hardingfele if she ever looks at this blog again.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Photos of Our Chicago Pilgrimage

As promised, here are photos of our Chicago pilgrimage. First is St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church.

The weeping icon is on the lower left - Mary, Seat of Wisdom:

Here are some photos of the creche scenes from all over the world at the Loyola Art Museum. The first photo shows some Polish examples, and the second one is a charming Peruvian nativity scene.

This is the water tower across the street from the Loyola Art Museum.

Here is a horse pulling a carriage outside the Loyola Art Museum.

And just behind the water tower, we could see the John Hancock Building:

Nearby there was a luxury car dealer. Check out Travalon posing with this Lamborghini:

Here are some shots of the inside of the St. James Chapel at Loyola University, with its beautiful stained glass windows, and a shot of the courtyard outside.

Here are a couple shots of the interior of Holy Name Cathedral:

This is one of the Ukrainian Catholic churches, the one that didn't have Vespers:

And here is the one that did have Vespers:

And the inside of it, courtesy of Travalon:

Famous Hat

Monday, November 16, 2015

Chicago Pilgrimage

It was another lovely weekend, at least for this time of year. Friday evening Travalon and I went to the Crystal Lake resort for their fish fry, which was passable but nothing great. My advice: stick with their burgers. They are juicy and delicious.

Saturday was our big pilgrimage to Chicago, led by Cecil Markovitch and attended by Mr. N’Awlins, the Single B-Boy, Trinidad Cap, the Dairyman’s Daughter, Travalon, and me. (Travalon and I were going to join the group partway through the trip, not wanting to leave Madtown at 6:30 am, but then we woke up before 5:30 so we said, “Let’s do it!”) Our first stop was St. George’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, which is known for having a weeping icon of Mary. We got there around 9, but they weren’t open until 11 on Saturdays. However, Cecil called someone, and a guy came right over and opened the church up for us. The icon was indeed weeping – you could see two streaks of water running down the plate of glass covering it. This miracle began in 1994.

Our next stop was the Loyola University Art Museum, a small museum with pieces mostly from the 16th and 17th century upstairs, and a charming seasonal display of crèche scenes from all over the world on the main floor. Across the street was an old water tower which was open to tourists, so we explored the inside of it. We also visited competing chocolate shops across the street from each other: Ghirardelli’s and Hershey’s. Then we walked about a block to Loyola’s beautiful St. James chapel, with amazing stained glass windows. They were having a free concert, and I was stoked when I saw a guy tuning a theorbo, thinking, “This is going to be my kind of music!” And it was! It was all Baroque music associated with Rome. Our last stop downtown was a few blocks away, a quick visit to Holy Name Cathedral, which is a weird amalgamation of old and modern inside – not ugly, just very strange.

Then we drove to a part of town with two Ukrainian Catholic churches a block away from each other. Cecil could never remember which one had Vespers, so we went to one, but it was locked. Across the street was a Ukrainian Cultural Museum which appeared to be open, so we went over there to inquire. They said they were closed but had a special event going on, and they called someone and told us there would be no Vespers. We walked down to the other church, and they had Vespers, which consisted of the priest and another guy chanting back and forth in Ukrainian. We all watched an old nun in the front row to know when to stand and when to sit. After that, we went to our final destination, Agostino’s Ristorante. The Dairyman’s Daughter and I were very impressed that the B-Boy could parallel park on the left, since we have trouble doing it on the right. We had a fancy Italian dinner, and Cecil dragged it out by having dessert and espresso, so we didn’t get home until well after midnight.

Yesterday Travalon and I somehow got up in time for Mass, then we went to a Packers pizza party at the East Side Club. What has happened to our Pack?? I can understand them losing on the road to two undefeated foes, but losing at home to the worst team in the league?? The Lions didn’t have great defense, but they didn’t even need it, because our offense couldn’t get anything going. Rodgers has just not been himself lately. Then Travalon and I took Rodney for a hike at Governor Nelson State Park, and then we had a quiet evening at home, watching some episodes from Season One of Downton Abbey. Perhaps I will be caught up by the time the new season begins.

Tomorrow: photos from Chicago! I have plenty of them!

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Water Heater Issues

Yesterday the water at our condo was turned off around eight in the morning while they installed new water heaters. I didn’t really care, since that is when I left for work, where of course they had running water. Travalon had the day off of work, but he was out and about, fishing with Rodney most of the day, so it didn’t really affect him either. After work I met with Jilly Moose and OK Cap for dinner at Pasqual’s, then I went to choir practice and had to sing soprano on a number of songs, which was surprisingly easy. Either I’m a really good sight reader, or I’ve sung soprano on these songs before. Of course, it helps that I’ve heard the soprano part next to me while singing the alto part for nearly two decades. When I finally got home around nine, Travalon told me the water still wasn’t turned back on, but I tried it and it worked. Just then he got an email from the condo association president saying there would be no hot water until this morning. Since I take showers before bed, this was bad news for me. I had to go to bed unshowered.

This morning I got up early enough to run for a mile and a half, then I had to decide: head to the health club for a warm shower, or brave a cold one at home? I erred on the side of laziness and figured I’d just offer up the frigid shower for the poor souls in Purgatory or something. However, the shower didn’t seem that unbearably cold, and it actually warmed up to a downright pleasant temperature within a few minutes. Either the guys working on the water heater started very early this morning, or I could have taken a bearable shower last night, after all. Then I couldn’t find a hair dryer (since I always let my hair air dry overnight), but my hair actually looks pretty good after air drying on the way to work. Maybe I should always shower in the mornings!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Time for "Spring Training" Again!

As my longtime readers may remember, a few years back Luxuli gave me a generous birthday present: a nine-week “spring training” at our health club during which I met with a personal trainer once a week, and at each meeting she gave me a new exercise to do and a new dietetic deprivation. For example, one week she told me to walk a mile every day and only eat dessert once a week. While I was on this program, I lost a lot of weight, so it seems like doing it on my own might work for me. Unfortunately, I don’t remember all the things the personal trainer (who was also named Famous) asked me to do, but I do remember walking for a mile and going up five flights of stairs every day. With my iPhone, it is easy to keep track of my progress, and every work day I go up at least five flights of stairs, because there are two flights to my office, and I go up them twice: once at the beginning of the day, and again at lunchtime, when returning from my mile rosary walk, and then I have to go up another flight at home. Travalon’s phone has set a personal goal for him of six thousand steps per day, and now that I am running for at least a mile every morning, I am easily achieving that too. In fact, this week I averaged eight thousand steps a day and six flights of stairs, because on weekends Travalon and I often go hiking in hilly places, and my iPhone counts going uphill as a flight of stairs if it is steep enough. According to old blog posts, some of the challenges from “spring training” were doing the Plank (a horrible core exercise) for as long as possible, doing a minute of jumping jacks, and doing as many pushups as possible, but fortunately these only have to be three times a week, not every day. It was so much easier to do these challenges when Light Bright suffered through them along with me…

Speaking of Light Bright, no word on her baby boy yet. He was due yesterday. I will keep you posted.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When Procrastination Pays

As usual, I didn’t get to my Irish homework until last night; the difference this time was that I couldn’t finish it. Our teacher asked us to translate two pages of a crime thriller, and I got most of the way done with the first page and saw it was 11 pm. No way could I stay up to finish the whole thing! But then something amazing happened today – I got an email from our teacher saying she was stuck out of town and had to cancel class this evening. Wow, it’s like the time I had to create a book of different types of poetry in middle school, and of course I put it off until the night before and then realized there was no way I could do it. Wouldn’t you know the next day was a snow day? And I didn’t waste it; nope, I threw myself into writing that poetry book, creating over a dozen poems and illustrating them lavishly. The next day I turned my creation in, and when I got it back, the teacher had written that my book was by far the best one in the whole class, and I should consider becoming a writer. How proud would she be to learn that I am now a semi-professional writer, making tens of dollars writing this blog? And sometimes I even write poetry on it! I was going to write a poem today, but inspiration didn’t strike. Anyway, this gives me a chance to translate the rest of the chapter in the crime novel and impress my Irish teacher. Maybe I should write a poem about Irish crime novels.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hiking on the Ice Age Trail

I hope my readers had a good weekend and got to enjoy some of the mild weather while you still can. Friday night I got two pizzas and joined Kathbert and Jilly Moose at Richard Bonomo’s house. Jilly Moose brought Packer cookies. Travalon, meanwhile, was watching Oconomowoc’s high school football team in the playoffs; they were down by 21 points but managed to tie things up and then lost by a touchdown in the last four seconds of the game. Heartbreaking!

Saturday Travalon and one of our neighbors got our boat into our garage, where it can hopefully wait out the winter until we can take it out on the water again. Then he and I took Rodney and went hiking on the Ice Age Trail outside of Lodi, where there is a three-mile loop that goes into the Baraboo Range. This is a range of ancient mountains, over a billion years old, which are just hills now. That’s what a billion years will do to anyone. Then we stopped for a quick soda at the rival resort on Crystal Lake, where they were not nearly as friendly, before going to the resort on the peninsula for lunch. Amazing cheeseburgers! We watched the Badger game before heading to Rich’s next-door neighbor’s birthday party. Kathbert, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and Prairie Man came too. There were no party games, just food (Travalon and I brought bread, Luxuli and Prairie Man brought a salad, and Rich made a pork dish), and dessert: Rich’s Black Magic cake and pumpkin cream liqueur courtesy of Jilly Moose. We all called it a night kind of early – I think this time change has hit us all very hard! For some reason it always seems worse to me than the spring one, even though at that time you lose an hour of sleep.

Yesterday Travalon and I watched most of the Packer game at the East Side Club with some other members, and we all brought dishes for a potluck. However, the Packers had not shown up to play, or so it seemed, because both their offense and their defense were nonexistent. Travalon and I finally gave up and decided we needed to get outside on such a beautiful day, so we left just as the fourth quarter started and took Rodney to the dog park. Between Travalon looking at his phone, and texts I got from Tiffy, we found out the Pack roared back to life and almost tied things up right at the end… if Rodgers hadn’t thrown an interception. If they’d played like that the whole game, maybe they would have handed Carolina their first defeat this year. Travalon and I met Jilly Moose, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and OK Cap for dinner at Bellitalia, since Luxuli and Prairie Man had square dancing about a block away from there. Then Travalon and I went to the new Peanuts movie, which was cute but seemed to be a little kinder in spirit than the original comic strip. For example, Snoopy was helping Charlie Brown try to win over the Little Red-Headed Girl, when in the comic strip he just regarded him as “that round-headed kid.” I won’t tell you whether Charlie Brown gets the girl or not – you’ll just have to see the movie yourself.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 6, 2015

Girls' Night with Light Bright

Last night I got together for dinner with Light Bright, her mother, and another former coworker of mine (a lab tech) who has recently moved into Light Bright’s neighborhood. Light Bright looks ready to pop – her baby is due on Tuesday! Can you believe it? Her husband fled the house so we could have a real Girls’ Night, and after a delicious dinner of chicken, salad, pesto pasta, and garlic bread all made by Light Bright, we sat out in the living room eating the dark chocolate I had brought and discussing very girlish topics. I’m sure any man who would have overheard our conversation would have been bored to tears! I always wonder what guys discuss when we ladies aren’t around. According to Travalon, the men’s steak nights are hilarious because Cecil Markovitch and Twins Fan are such funny guys, but he has never actually told me the content of their jokes. Knowing that group, probably very little of it has to do with sports, hunting, or fishing, which are the stereotypical guys’ topics of conversation. Anyway, I am a big believer in guys having guys’ night and ladies having ladies’ night, but I also love hanging out in a mixed group. Especially if Cecil Markovitch and Twins Fan are both there!

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Very Boring Post

Some days I have nothing to say, and no poetic muse inspired me today, so here’s an update on my exercise progress: I have been running in place for a mile every morning (except yesterday, but I walked 12,000 steps and went up the equivalent of 11 flights of stairs), and it seems to be making a difference. However, I have been bad about getting to the gym for weight training. My old UGGH Club buddies are back to their usual shenanigans at 6:00 am, and there is no way I am getting up that early. When Travalon and I go to the club on Monday evenings, we swim. Tonight I plan to do weights for the first time in ages – maybe I will even do Strength Training without Mercy! My other usual source of exercise is my lunchtime rosary walk, but yesterday I didn’t do it, between hiking at Cherokee Marsh and walking around the exhibit hall all afternoon. Today I went to a lunchtime seminar on financial planning for women. That was fun – they fed us well, and I saw some old pals there – but obviously there was no time for a walk. Still, I did run in the morning and will do weights this evening, so this week my exercise regimen is going better than my prayer life!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Cherokee Marsh

Today was a really fun day for me. I took the morning off of work, and Travalon, Rodney, and I went for a hike in Cherokee Marsh. Then in the afternoon I manned a booth with a coworker at a library association meeting, and all we had to do was smile at people and answer questions about our books. And this counts as work! I love it!

Here are some photos from my recent adventures. First, Tiffy, Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and I at the corn maze:

Here are some photos of the fall foliage at Devil's Lake:

And a couple of shots from the Merrimac Ferry on our way back home:

This is out of order, but here are some photos of Governor Dodge State Park:

This is a lovely shot Rich took of the autumn colors in the Arboretum:

Here are a more recent photo of Roche-a-Cri, a photo of Chickadee Rock in the same state park, and a couple of shots of Rabbit Rock, which is in a little wayside park.

Finally, here are Travalon and Rodney in Cherokee Marsh.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Freakfest 2015

I completely forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that Travalon really wanted to see Freakfest down on State Street, so we went to that after leaving Rich’s house. I hadn’t been there in years, and I remembered it being really insane and the sort of thing I try to avoid. However, the costumes were often quite amazing, and usually very entertaining. These days the party is an official one, with security personnel and a $5 cover charge, so things are a lot tamer. There is live music as well. I was disappointed by the costumes: everyone seemed to be either a banana, a minion (like from the movies), or Chewbacca. I did see one group that was the people from Scooby-Doo, with a cardboard Mystery Machine, but they didn’t have a Scooby-Doo with them. One guy was dressed like an outlet, and another guy was a crayon, and that was about it for cool costumes. Maybe it was the rotten weather, but I didn’t even see the usual sexy costumes on the girls this year. I’m not sure why bananas are so popular this year, but maybe it’s because Brian the dog from Family Guy always dresses up in a banana suit.

Travalon and I tried to go to a bar on State Street, but they were all totally packed. We ended up heading back home to the Nau-Ti-Gal, where their Halloween party was just winding down. The musicians were just packing up as we arrived. The costumes there were more homemade, and the drinks were really good – I had pumpkin-infused brandy and Travalon had an amazing White Russian that tasted just like a chocolate milkshake. In case you are curious, Travalon and I did not dress up as anything. In the old days I was creative for Halloween, but this year I couldn’t think of anything to do. Perhaps I went as a boring, middle-aged married woman.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 2, 2015

Return to Roche-a-Cri

I hope all my readers had a great weekend. Friday I had a quiet evening and talked to Ma Hat on the phone for a long time. Saturday the weather was kind of rotten; Travalon and I had been planning to attend the Badger football game, but we decided against it, since it rained all day long. I did have to get some bloodwork done, but the good news (I got the results today) is that my numbers are already improved over early October, and I have only been running for a couple of weeks. Wow, those are some fast results! I will definitely keep running! The tests required fasting, so afterwards Travalon and I had breakfast at the Heritage Café, and then we watched the game on TV from the warmth and dryness of our living room. The movie theater in Sun Prairie was showing The Jungle Book, which is one of my favorite movies, so we went to that, and then we went to Rich’s house to help him decorate for Halloween and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Kathbert also joined us for dinner. We had very nerdy conversation (poor Travalon!) about musical modes and what the chemical structure of fake vanilla could be that makes me so crazy when I eat it. (We never did figure that one out.)

Yesterday was much more beautiful, so Travalon and I headed back to Roche-a-Cri State Park to do some hiking with Rodney. We took the long trail, so thanks to the wonders of the time change, we almost ran out of daylight before heading to Rabbit Rock, a small park in Adams County just north of Roche-a-Cri. There was still enough light for us to follow a trail around the rock and, according to my iPhone, we went up the equivalent of seven flights of stairs, so with going up the choir loft at my church and the stairs to our condo, my grand total for yesterday was twelve flights of stairs. I also took over fifteen thousand steps yesterday. This morning I was kind of sore… The only bad thing about yesterday was that sad Packer game. They can’t win them all, and at least they were beaten by an undefeated team, but both the offense and the defense just looked awful last night in Denver. The safety was the final insult. But they are still our Packers, and I love them win or lose. Unlike any other team in the NFL, we can count on them to stay with us forever.

Famous Hat