Friday, January 30, 2015

Other People's Hawaii Trips

Last night a woman from my choir and her husband had Travalon and me over for dinner. She made curry chicken with orange sauce and cream of broccoli soup. Yum! Then we watched the video of their helicopter trip over Kauai, since Travalon and I will be visiting there in March. We are also going to Maui, and of course Oahu, since that’s where the wedding is happening, but we don’t have time to hit the Big Island. This couple had been to the Big Island, and they showed us photos of a beautiful botanical garden there, as well as volcanic flows that looked like a wasteland. Hawaii looks really beautiful, and there is another botanical garden on Kauai, so hopefully we get a chance to visit that. Tiffy has been to Maui, and she recommended the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o. The couple we visited last night did visit that, but they couldn’t go in them because there had been too much rain. It sounds like Hawaii is a very rainy place – there’s a mountain on Kauai that is supposed to be the rainiest spot on earth! But they say Seattle is very rainy, and the whole week I was there, it was sunny and warm, so maybe I scare away rain. My big question before this trip is whether it is worth trying to get my cheap little digital camera fixed, or if I should just get a new one. I’d hate not to have one at all. Travalon needs his camera fixed too – Ireland must have really done a number on our cameras! And you know what it was, at least in my case? Rain!

Famous Hat

Thursday, January 29, 2015

OK Cap's Pool

Last night Travalon and I were thinking of going swimming at our health club, but OK Cap invited us to swim in her pool, and since it’s about 20 feet away from us, we took her up on the offer. The pool is not quite as warm as the therapeutic pool at our health club (which is the one Travalon prefers), but it was definitely not too cold. Travalon said he felt like we were swimming in a hotel pool, and it did kind of look like one, with lots of windows around it, and poolside furniture and fake potted plants scattered along the sides of it. The pool was L-shaped and had a deeper end than the therapeutic pool, which is so shallow I can wade the entire length of it. Also, there was nobody else there, which is a little surprising since it’s such a nice pool in a large condo complex. OK Cap thinks most of the people who use it are either retired and go around 10 am while the rest of us are working, or children, who show up on the weekends. Her complex also has a really fine outdoor pool too, though of course this time of year it is closed. I am just happy to be getting back into swimming, although doing aerobics seems to have been working – I looked better in my swimsuit than I have in ages! Eating less may be helping too, but man, this constant hunger is going to drive me batty. I’d rather swim away the fat than starve it away.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Long Overdue Pictorial Post

It's about time to post some more photos on this blog. First is a photo Richard Bonomo took on his iPhone (at my request) of our church decorated for Christmas.

And here is a picture of Rich holding up the T-shirt Mr. Icon gave him. Think he'll ever actually wear it?

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Friday evening Travalon and I went to the Manna Café for dinner. We have been there several times for brunch, when it is always packed, but they only recently started serving dinner, and it hasn’t caught on yet. I suppose there is more competition for dinner than brunch, but the food is just as wonderful. Travalon was ecstatic to see chicken paprikash, a Hungarian dish his grandma used to make, on the menu, and he said it was so delicious that he would eat dinner there every night. However, you can’t eat dinner there on Sundays and Mondays.

Saturday evening Travalon and I were going to a spaghetti dinner at Immaculate Heart in Monona, but he thought I had cash and I thought he had cash, and neither of us was right, so we decided we’d better stop and get cash. Cecil Markovitch was driving, and he dropped Travalon off at a pharmacy downtown and said we’d be in the area, since right in front of it was a no-stopping zone. Travalon went inside the pharmacy, and Cecil found a parking spot right across the street, from which we could see Travalon come out of the pharmacy and approach a car stopped in the no-stopping zone. We waved at him, but he went up to the other car, opened the door, and sat right down in the passenger seat! I’m a bad wife because I laughed so hard I was crying. Travalon is a big guy, so he may have scared the other driver, but luckily the guy didn’t pull a gun or anything, he just said, “I think you have the wrong car.” So Travalon got out of that car and finally noticed us across the street, laughing at him. He said I could blog about this.

Sunday Travalon and I overslept and didn’t make it to our usual Mass, so we went to the nearby church’s later Mass after having some coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Then we were going to watch American Sniper, but it was sold out, so we stopped by his favorite place, Pooley’s, for a light lunch and then drove to a tiny township we’d been told about by some choir members. It’s a little place called Martinsville that consists of a Catholic church called St. Martin’s, a bunch of houses, and a bar called The Keg. The bartender there told us about another establishment “further up the road” that was a converted chicken coop, but we didn’t succeed in finding it. In the evening we went to Richard Bonomo’s house for a birthday party for Mr. Icon, who is visiting from Alaska. He gave Kathbert and Miss Heartsong jars of sea glass, he gave Travalon and me knit caps (but Travalon’s didn’t fit), and he gave Rich a T-shirt that says: “I can’t hear you over the sound of how epic I am.” He says it’s a lot warmer in Kodiak right now, but the social life up there is not very vibrant. So now you know, in case you were thinking of moving up there. 

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Mamastep's Birthday Party

Wednesday night Travalon and I went swimming for the first time in ages. It felt so wonderful! I have mostly been getting my exercise by dancing around to my iPod in the loft, and I’m not sure which actually burns more calories. We agreed we have to get to the health club more often; after all, we are paying for membership there. Plus, there are weights at the health club. I have a couple of ten-pound free weights at the condo and do use them now and then, but it would be preferable to get back into a weightlifting routine. Richard Bonomo still goes regularly, but he goes at 6:00 am, and it’s not Lent right now, so I’m not going to mortify myself like that.

Yesterday we had a guy interviewing to be the top dog at work, and we were all encouraged to go to his presentation on campus. My coworkers said they were going to walk over, since it was such a nice day. I left a bit early, since I walk so slowly, and still got there a few minutes into the presentation. Of course my coworkers were all there on time, and I thought, “Man, they must be a lot faster than I am! And why didn’t I see them pass me?” Later I found out it was because they all drove over. Oh well, I needed the exercise.

Last night was Mamastep’s birthday party, at the Nitty Gritty as always. Travalon and I sat at opposite ends of the table so we could mingle more, and I happened to be next to a woman who had twins at the age of 51. Wow, does that ever give me hope! As it turned out, both my end of the table and Travalon’s end talked about travel, since we all love to do it. The woman next to me had also been to Ireland, and she said it was her favorite place apart from Iceland, which she loved because it was so wild and weird. Tiffy has been to Iceland, and what I remember her saying about it is that they ate puffins, and the sun was still shining at 3 am. I’m more of a tropics kind of girl – not that I’d turn up my nose at a chance to visit Iceland, but I’m so looking forward to our trip to Hawaii in March. Travalon’s old college buddy is getting married there, and we are going to spend almost two weeks there. Yay!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Badger Basketball

Last night after Irish class, I met up with Travalon and we went to the Badger basketball game. They were playing the Iowa Hawkeyes, and we figured it would be a good game, playing against another Big 10 team. However, the Badgers pulled ahead early and were soon 30 points ahead of Iowa, so they really shellacked them. There was an Iowa player named Uthoff or something like that who was booed every time he came out on the floor. Travalon asked the guy next to us why the fans hated him particularly, and he told us Uthoff came here as a freshman and was red-shirted, but then the next year he went to play for Iowa because our academic standards were too hard, or something like that. I was not as caught up in this game as the Duke one, since I am once again dieting and have little energy. I’m always hungry, and my brain is in a fog – during Irish class I had no clue what was going on. However, this is necessary because I gained a lot of weight after getting married (which everyone says is normal) and some more during the holidays (which everyone says is normal), and I wasn’t exactly thin to begin with. All the women at work have given up sugar for their New Year’s resolution, so I have too, except for special occasions. Of course, this month is a bad one because of birthdays, but now there shouldn’t be anything until Richard Bonomo’s birthday. I’ll eat some cake then. Anyway, I am down a few pounds, so maybe it is working.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Martin Luther King Day

Friday night the Rosary Ladies had a fish fry at Nick’s restaurant, then we went out dancing at the Monona Terrace. The band played funk and disco, and when they played ABBA, I was a little thrown by the less syncopated beat. I said, “This music is too white! I don’t know how to dance to it!” and Luxuli advised, “Reach down into that 99% of yourself and feel it!” We danced for way over an hour and then were kind of sore limping back to Luxuli’s condo. That’s what happens when you’re middle-aged and try to dance like a twentysomething.

Saturday Tiffy came up, and she and Richard Bonomo took me to Liliana’s for a late birthday dinner. (Travalon went to watch high school basketball.) I got a free order of beignets for my birth month, and there were three, but Tiffy is taking her New Year’s resolution to not eat dessert seriously, so Rich and I split hers. There was a live jazz duo playing, so it really felt like a night on the town for a second night in a row. Don’t worry, I didn’t neglect my husband – we had spent the rest of the day together.

Sunday Tiffy, Travalon, and I joined the choir for brunch at the Come Back In, then we went to the dog park for a little bit before the game. Oh, that game! We couldn’t believe how well the Packers were doing… and then they just fell apart at the end. So sad, they would have been in the Super Bowl. I heard today that tickets to the Super Bowl are cheaper this year because everyone’s sick of New England and Seattle being in it. In the evening, Rich, Cecil Markovitch, OK Cap, Travalon, and I joined Trinidad Cap for his birthday at Bellitalia. This was planned very last minute, and the birthday boy was late because he thought we were meeting at Cecil’s house but Cecil had said let’s meet at Trinidad Cap’s house. It all worked out in the end, and he got a free tira misu with a candle in it for his birthday.

Yesterday I had the day off for Martin Luther King Day, so after my adoration hour I met Rich at the Capitol for the commemoration. Lots of music, like a gospel choir and a junior mariachi band, and several speakers we couldn’t hear clearly, but one little boy who looked about nine read Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech very clearly. We could understand every word. He should give lessons to the other speakers! I also went shopping for pants and spent a lot of time working on Christmas cards, getting a batch in the mail today, so some of you may get one as early as tomorrow.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

What the Box Says

Last night Cecil Markovitch, Travalon, and I went to a Hungarian folk music concert at the venue where we go to Slow Food, only upstairs. It was the kickoff of the two performers’ US tour, and there were like twenty people in the audience, so I felt kind of bad for them. They were very young, just college students: a female singer and a guy playing traditional woodwind instruments. Sometimes he played the accordion, which we liked better since it was peppier, and sometimes he played the piano. They were even joined on a couple of numbers by a fiddler and bassist from right here in town. I do love the weird scales in traditional Hungarian music. 

Afterwards Rich came to my place to put together my second set of plant shelving, and thank goodness it was not defective. He brought a rubber mallet to pound it together, since the instructions recommend that, even though the box says: “No tools necessary.” Since I promised you a poem today, I’ll write something about that. Maybe this will be a “beat” poem instead of rhyming, so snap your fingers while reading it.

No tools needed,
That’s what the box says,
Until after you open it
And read the instructions.
Easy assembly,
That’s what the box says,
But I followed the instructions
And it nearly fell apart.
Supports 350 pounds,
That’s what the box says,
But I put a potted plant on it,
And it wobbled back and forth.
Richard Bonomo
Doesn’t care what the box says.
He pounded it together
With a rubber mallet.
Now my shelving
Can hold lots of plants on it,
But it never would have worked
If we’d done what the box says.

Famous Hat

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Two ADD People Planning a Meeting

Regarding my previous post, Tuesday night Richard Bonomo came over to take a look at my plant shelving. He used a phonebook and a hammer to bang the shelves into place tightly enough to quit wobbling, which belied the box the shelving came in that stated “No tools necessary!” Then he tried to put together the second set of shelves, but they were defective, so yesterday Travalon returned them to Menard’s and got a new set. We have yet to look at this new set of shelves to see if they are defective or if they will work as long as we bang them into place with the hammer and now quite battered phonebook. Why did we not look at them? Because instead of doing that, or something equally useful like preparing our long-delayed Christmas cards, we were dancing around to the Soul Train DVDs again. At least it’s exercise, so it isn’t a complete waste of time. Tonight we are going to hear a Hungarian folk group with Cecil Markovitch, so once again the cards will not be mailed and the shelving will not be put together. Now you can see why I didn’t blog yesterday – I don’t have that much to say this week. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try to come up with another poem.

The only funny thing that happened in the last few days is when Rich and I were planning to get together on Tuesday night so I could print out my Christmas card labels (the file is on his computer): I originally said I could be at his house around 7:30, after Irish class, and he later emailed that he would be home around 5:15. I was so busy that I didn’t think anything more about it, but then he was frantically looking for me when I hadn’t shown up by 6:30, calling Travalon, Luxuli, and even Handy Woman. He called my cell phone too, of course, but I wasn’t about to answer it in the middle of class. Apparently he had skipped right over the part in my email where I’d told him what time I would be free, and it hadn’t occurred to me that he would be expecting me around 5:15. Once I got ahold of him, he said, “This is what happens when two people with ADD try to plan something.” True that.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bad Bunny

Last night Travalon and I watched the College Championship game between Ohio State and Oregon, or the “Bucks” and the Ducks. I love that the two teams who made it had such non-tough mascots – isn’t a buckeye a nut? And ducks aren’t exactly tough – and also that they were both schools that focus on academics. It serves those football factory schools down south right that they got eliminated. My boss is a huge Ohio State fan, while Travalon was rooting for Oregon. I didn’t really care and honestly spent all of third quarter dancing around and listening to my iPod while watching the game, since I needed some exercise. It had been a frustrating evening for me, because we had bought some wire shelves to put my plants on, and I had tried to put them together by following the instructions, but they were very wobbly. I didn’t feel secure putting my plants on them, which means they are still on the floor of the plant room, and that of course means that Cashmere is still locked in her cage. Originally she had been reluctant to walk on the tile in the room, so we put down some carpeting remnants for her to walk on in a route that kept her well away from the plants. Lately she had figured out the tile is fine to walk on, so before I realized it, she had eaten half a bromeliad and part of a dracaena. Apparently these plants are not toxic, because she is no worse for wear, but I don’t want to subject the plants to more of her mastication. That is why she now has to stay in her cage all day long, which must be a boring life, but until we can figure out what is wrong with these shelves (is it user error or are they badly built?), she has to stay in there.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Birthday Scrabble

Thursday night Cecil Markovitch, who is the king of last-minute planning, sent a bunch of us an email asking if we’d like to go to a Friday night fish fry at the Esquire Club, which is right near my house. Travalon and I went, along with Jilly Moose, OK Cap, the single B-Boy, and my OTHER choir director. They played really old rock from the 50’s and early 60’s in the background, and Cecil depressed himself by discussing how old some of the singers are today, but we still had a really good time.

Saturday the Rosary Ladies had a real meeting for the first time in ages. Travalon came with us when we met for coffee at the EVP near my old condo, then he ran some errands while we prayed the rosary at Luxuli’s house. Seeing it made me a little nostalgic for “the one that got away,” that house Travalon and I made an offer on but the owners wouldn’t come down on the price. Still, our condo is undoubtedly better for our lifestyle, and it certainly is in a wonderful location. Then Travalon and I ran errands that mostly involved getting supplies for sending our long overdue Christmas cards out. The benefits of procrastination: Christmas cards were 75% off. We hope to get them out this week. In the evening we went to a restaurant called The Journey, which is a pan-Asian buffet. I was loving all the sushi, and Travalon loved all the crab. Then we saw a movie called Unbroken, based on the amazing true story of Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini, whose plane was shot down in WWII. He and a buddy survived 45 days on a raft in the middle of the ocean until they were “rescued” by the Japanese and became prisoners of war. It really made me think about how easy my own life has been.

Sunday after Mass we went to brunch at the Copper Top, courtesy of our recently deceased longtime usher. His son treated us all and said it was thanks to him. The married B-Boy and his wife Mo-Girl were there with their 2-year-old daughter, who is so cute. She was playing with Travalon and me, pretending to be a wolverine (nobody has any idea where she learned that word) and drawing amazingly good faces in her little notebook. Then Travalon and I went home and watched the Packer game. I wish they hadn’t won because of a controversial call, but maybe they would have won anyway, since Dallas would almost certainly have scored and then there would have been time for them to score again. Anyway, Dallas has no right to get mad because they won last week due to another controversial call getting reversed, so now they know how it feels. OK Cap said she was originally going to join us for brunch, then she said just for the game, and finally she came over for the last four minutes. That’s football time, so it was more like fifteen minutes, but still, it was pretty funny that she even bothered because Travalon and I had to make tracks right after the game. It was his mother’s birthday, so we joined her for dinner and a game of Scrabble, which she won. She said it was a great birthday.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Stream of Consciousness

Sorry for my silence the last couple of days. Part of it is that I have just been so busy, and another part of it is that I really haven’t thought of anything too interesting to say. One of the things that has been on my mind lately is my old car Erin Caitlyn O’Honda. When I realized I’d forgotten the parking sticker for our church on her, the insurance people told me where she was, and that she wasn’t scheduled to be sold at auction until this coming Monday. I was able to get the sticker, which they sent me via Fed-Ex, but there is still some little part of me that thinks, “I could go rescue Erin. There’s still time.” It’s very hard for me to let go of things, especially since she was still drivable and they are probably going to sell her for parts. It’s like letting an old friend die. But what would I do with a second, very banged-up car? Noelle is a very good car, and at some point I may even try out her CD player. Erin hasn’t had a working CD player since like 2008, which is when (and why) I started getting into the hip hop played on the radio instead of my salsa CDs. Maybe it is time to get back to CDs. The local hip hop station plays Taylor Swift now, so its purity is a little questionable. On the other hand, if you listen to CDs all the time, you never hear the new music coming out, and some of it is really great stuff. I know a lot of my friends may not agree, but just because we’re Gen X (or older!), we don’t have to be stuck in a time warp when it comes to music. I personally love the latest Ne-Yo jam, and I never would have heard it if I’d only listened to CDs. So I’ll put up with a little Taylor Swift sneaking into the lineup for the chance to hear a new song that just might become my new favorite.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Window Garden

Now that the polar vortex has returned for a second winter in a row, we all need some reminder of better days ahead. I bought a "winter whites garden" from Trader Joe's with tulips, hyacinth, paper whites, and crocuses that were all supposed to bloom white. They are all blooming now, and they smell wonderful, but the crocuses bloomed purple! Although today I see a new bud for a white crocus. With the pink cyclamen Travalon gave me long ago which has recently rebloomed and the dark green jade plant Handy Woman gave me, they make a lovely window garden.

In case you are wondering about the fate of these flowers after they are done blooming, I am going to plant them in Richard Bonomo's garden. The tulips, crocuses, and hyacinth are definitely hardy to Zone Four, or whatever we are in. Does anyone know about the paper whites?

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Monday, January 5, 2015

My Birthday and Downton Abbey

Friday night Travalon and I went out for a romantic dinner at the Mariner’s Inn. The maître d’ remembered that we lived across the street, which sort of surprised me, since we have only been there a few times. I said it was my birthday (technically birthday eve, but close enough), and they gave me a free dessert. I also had a delicious drink called something like Chocolate Beyond All Reason. Calories don’t count on your birthday, right?

Saturday I turned… a year older. Travalon gave me presents first thing in the morning: a gift card to my favorite chocolate shop, a book about the making of The Princess Bride, and a Fat Albert lunch box. He gives the best gifts! We decided to go for coffee at MNM in Waunakee instead of our usual place, and OK Cap joined us. She gave me some shortbread shaped like little Scottie dogs and a Celtic Christmas CD. Later in the afternoon Travalon and I used some of my gift card at DB Infusions, where they give you a free piece of chocolate on your birthday. In the evening Richard Bonomo hosted a party for me and made chicken and eggplant parmesan. Lute Player and her husband got sucked into some cat conversations with Hardingfele – that’s her #1 favorite topic. Mr. N’Awlins, the single B-Boy, Kathbert, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and of course Travalon were among the guests. We had deep conversation over black magic birthday cake, and I even got a few presents: a rubber duckie, scented soap, and a Culver’s gift card.

Sunday after Mass we were joined at brunch by a guy who designs bridges for a living. What a cool job! We had a very relaxed afternoon; I took a long nap while Travalon watched football. In the evening Mamastep hosted a Downton Abbey party for the season premiere. I have never actually watched the show before, so people had to keep explaining to me who characters were. Travalon is quite a fan, and he was also the only man present. We had Cornish game hens with root vegetables and green beans almandine for dinner, then during the show we had crème brulee, tea, and shortbread. It was so much fun! Maybe now I’ll have to start watching the show.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy 2015! Since Rich and I didn’t have to work on New Year’s Eve, we decided to meet for lunch at Bellitalia, which his iPhone autocorrected to “bell italics.” I understand that is one of the dangers of smart phones, but I wouldn’t know – my phone is as dumb as they come. At least it doesn’t correct my texts. In the evening Travalon and I went with some old friends of his to dinner at a place in Fond du Lac, then we went back to his friends’ house and watched their 10-year-old daughter (the ring bearer at our wedding) and her friend compete in a dance game using the Wii. The mom and I danced two dances, and to my surprise I got a really good score and beat her both times. Who knew I was a good dancer? It was so much fun! Then we went to another couple’s house and played a card game called Salad, because there are seven rounds (like a seven-layer salad). Each round you get points for something different, like the first round is just for winning tricks, the second round is for winning hearts in your tricks, the third round is for winning queens, etc… but the kicker is that you win by having the lowest number of points. It takes a long time to play, so we were up until 2:30 in the morning.

Yesterday we woke up late and watched the Outback Bowl. We fully expected Auburn to decimate the Badgers after their terrible showing against Ohio State, but this was a different team that showed up, and they played hard and actually won in overtime. It was very exciting. I even cried a little when they won, I was so happy, but I also cried when the ball dropped on TV and it was officially 2015, and also on Christmas Eve when we sang “Silent Night,” which is not even my favorite carol. I’ve just been easily moved lately. Travalon and I drove back to Madtown as fast as we could to get to 4 pm Mass at the hospital with Father Cueve-Man, but we barely had time to get there. Somehow we made it just before Mass began. It was a small crowd, maybe three other people, and Father asked me to read. I used to always go to daily Mass there when I worked up at the hospital, and he often asked me to read. 

After Mass Travalon and I went to the open house at my OTHER choir director’s place. He always makes a ton of different desserts and invites people over. We saw lots of people we knew, like Lute Player and her husband, Mr. N’Awlins, the single B-Boy, Cecil Markovitch, and of course Rich and Kathbert. Then we had a quiet evening at home, and Travalon watched the Alabama – Ohio State game. He was rooting for Alabama, more because he likes southern teams than to get back at Ohio State for crushing the Badgers, but can you believe the Buckeyes beat the Crimson Tide? This is just their year. We would have lost to them anyway, but did it have to be 0-59? Other than that, it was a good season for the Badgers, although Travalon is sick of them playing so many of what he calls “cupcake teams.” Agreed – they should play mostly their opponents in the Big Ten, which has how many members now? Fourteen? College football is just getting ridiculous in so many ways.

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