Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nigeria Musings

Regarding something I mentioned on yesterday’s blog post, all the online stories relating to the mother of our diocesan priest being kidnapped have been taken down. What does this mean? Did they find out something wild like that she “kidnapped” herself? Are they afraid her safety would be compromised if there are all sorts of stories on the internet about her? I can’t imagine our parish priest thought the story was anything but genuine when he announced it at Mass, during the Prayers of the People. So I don’t know what to tell you, my readers, about this, but you can certainly continue to pray for all innocent victims of kidnapping in Nigeria, like those two hundred girls who still haven’t been found, last I heard. I have always wanted to visit Nigeria for some reason, and at brunch on Sunday we were joined by a graduate student from that country who told us Lagos is relatively safe. Boko Haram is way up in the north part of the country, nowhere near the coast. I was once invited to join an order of contemplative nuns who live, if I am remembering this correctly, in the eastern part of the country. I keep meeting people from Nigeria, which probably has a lot to do with my interest in visiting there. Maybe I will be like Tiffy, who says she will visit risky places like Egypt after she turns fifty. Of course, fifty is a lot closer for us now than when she said that, so who knows if she still feels that way? Maybe I will visit Nigeria when I am eighty. And hey, maybe by then it will be totally safe.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

The International Festival

I hope my readers had a wonderful weekend. I sure did. Friday evening Travalon went out for drinks with some coworkers after work, then he and I had fish at the Nau-Ti-Gal. Saturday was a really fun day. It was the free International Festival at the Overture Center, so Travalon, Tiffy, Richard Bonomo, and I met there to get some international food (not free) and watch some performances. We saw a flamenco dance troupe, then the guys left and Tiffy and I watched Light Bright’s band before checking out a Brazilian drum line. They had some dancers come out to do the samba, and they were dressed like pictures you see of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, with lots of feathers on their heads and hardly anything on their bodies. They were wearing tiny, sparkly bikinis and high heels, and the women behind us clucked in disapproval. I bought a rainbow-colored top which I am wearing today, and we caught one song by local Klezmer band Yid Vicious before we had to meet the Rosary Ladies at Bunky’s, where we talked about the fashions we used to wear in the 80’s. After dinner we headed to Olbrich Garden for the annual wine and chocolate tasting fundraiser. This year there were a lot of wineries and not that much chocolate, but there was one chocolatier with really spicy chocolate that was so good. In the conservatory, a DJ played Steely Dan while disco lights swirled around. Luxuli had to head off to another fundraiser, and the rest of us were thinking of calling it an early night as well, but we ended up staying until the bitter end.

Yesterday at Mass we learned something shocking: the mother of a priest in our diocese was recently kidnapped at gunpoint! She lives in Nigeria, but not the part Boko Haram is active in, so they think it is just a money thing and not a religious one. Anyway, prayers for her safety would be much appreciated. After brunch, Travalon, Rich, and I went to Home Depot to get a new toilet and new carpeting for my old condo. They will come to my condo tomorrow to get measurements, and then they should install the carpeting later this week. How exciting it will be to finally get the condo on the market! Then Travalon and I went to the model train show at the Expo Center, which is always very cool. Some of the layouts were so elaborate, with moving parts and punny names for the little businesses along the tracks. It was a sunny day, but very cold, so we decided to drive out to Martinsville and have a drink at the Keg, which is a very sunny bar. Travalon gave up seven and sevens for Lent, but since Sundays don’t count during Lent, he got his drink. We ended the evening at Rich’s house with steaks for dinner. Now it’s back to Lenten penance…  

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Urban Bush Women

Last night Travalon and I went to see Urban Bush Women, a dance troupe from New York City that advertises its emphasis on African roots. Travalon was not super excited, but he was willing to give it a chance, at least until intermission. The dance troupe itself consisted of mostly black ladies, but there were two white ones, and one black man. The first half was jazzy, and the costumes were sparkly, and we both enjoyed it. When intermission arrived, I asked Travalon if he would like to stay or go, and he said he would be willing to stay. Then, of course, it got avant garde in the second half, and among the strange things the dancers did were put their hands down the front of their pants and give the audience the finger. I would just consider it tasteless, but there were a number of school-age kids in the audience, so then it really bothered me. Shouldn’t they have noted somewhere that it was an adult-themed show? There was a meet-and-greet afterwards, but we didn’t stay for that. I have to say, I was expecting a bit more African influence and a little less weirdness, but the dancers were really good, and a couple of them were phenomenal singers too. Why waste all that talent on silly provocative nonsense?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Irish Rant

Last night I was talking to Richard Bonomo and Kathbert, and they were curious about Irish, so I showed them a chart of irregular verbs. It’s always fun to show people these words with a million letters in them and then tell them how it’s actually pronounced. For example, the future tense of “to get” is gheobhaidh, which is pronounced “yoey,” and the negative future (yes, they have different forms for negative and interrogative) is bhfaighidh, which is pronounced something like “wahi.” Kathbert asked why I was studying this language, and I said purely intellectual interest, it’s kind of useless plus it’s dying out. I suppose in a couple of generations it will be extinct. She said, “From the looks of it, it has a death wish.” Actually, according to a couple of native Irish speakers who were teaching at that Irish language weekend I went to back in October, even they don’t understand the spelling. They said it was some sort of compromise between how all the dialects pronounce things, which is another story – don’t get me started on how all the dialects are different. Our teacher is forever saying, “This is how they do it in Connemara. Now if you were in Ulster…” My fellow student says it’s like we’re learning English by studying the Boston accent versus the Deep South accent. Don’t they have a sort of generic Midwestern, let’s-make-news-anchors-talk-like-this dialect? That would sure make our lives easier.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

First Valentine's Day as a Married Couple

Friday night Travalon and I had our romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at the Manna Café. We had amazing rolls shaped like hearts and delicious shrimp and ravioli. (I had the leftovers for lunch today.) We had our usual waiter, and he was sorry to inform Travalon that there was no chicken paprikash that evening because of the special Valentine’s Day menu. Then we came home and exchanged gifts: I gave him a book he wanted, and he gave me jasmine on a heart-shaped trellis and a box of chocolate truffles. What a romantic way to spend Friday the 13th!

Saturday Travalon and I had brunch at La Brioche, which we hadn’t been to since the morning we left for our honeymoon. It was crazy busy, and there was a pianist who looked stuck in 1979 playing ragtime music. In the evening was Rich’s official birthday party, and I made the cake and helped Travalon bring the pizza. There were no decorations except for Catzookz’s balloons, and I got stuck all night listening to one of the marathon talkers Rich knows. She actually has some interesting things to say, but she never stops talking. So I didn’t really get to talk to any of the other guests, including Kathbert, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and OK Cap. Jilly Moose had to work, so she came late with the group present from the Rosary Ladies: a pink stuffed hippo that raps, “I like big hugs and I cannot lie…”

Sunday after Mass and brunch, Travalon went to a Badger basketball game, but I just went home. I like basketball, but it was awfully cold to make the long trek to the Kohl Center. Then we watched a movie called Oconomowoc, which had no discernible plot and mostly inane dialogue, though there were a few mildly funny lines. Three guys got together and went hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt to make this movie, which strikes me as rather bizarre. Didn’t they have anyone read the script before they threw all that money at it? There were a few scenes actually shot in Oconomowoc, but according to Travalon, a lot of them were in surrounding towns instead. Then Cecil Markovitch wanted us to join him and the Single B-Boy at Mickey’s Tavern for a lamb burger, so we did, and it was a very good burger. Cecil decided we should go to Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry for their fudge-bottom pie, so we did that too, although the B-Boy did not partake. Cecil joked after that we should get a grasshopper somewhere, but Monday morning comes very quickly, so we decided to head home instead.

Today is Handy Woman’s birthday, so a bunch of the retired ladies who used to work with her came in with treats. A lot of us got our jobs because these ladies all retired around the same time, a couple of years back, but they stay in touch with Handy Woman. One lady brought her husband and her adorable toddler granddaughter. Aw! The little girl gave us all hugs when she left. So cute!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Rich's Last-Minute Birthday Dinner

Last night I met Light Bright for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, where we had tacos and margaritas and dished about the people she still works with. Her least favorites are the same ones I always had trouble with, so that makes me feel better. Not for her, of course, but at least we can both be fairly certain it isn’t our fault. She didn’t have any good Sock Puppet stories, alas. She did ask the worst Sock Puppet if he could bring a sign-in sheet up with him after a weekly conference, because he comes right upstairs from the conference whereas she would have to go out of her way to go pick it up, and he replied rather snottily that it was above his pay grade. Oh, so Mr. Six-Digit Income, you don’t get paid enough to carry a piece of paper upstairs? Then we went to get Travalon’s Valentine’s Day present, and there were two things he wanted, so I had to choose one. Finally we went to Light Bright’s house, and she showed me her totally redone basement with the in-floor heating. It’s kind of a man cave down there, with a 60” plasma TV her husband likes to play video games on. Fancier than Travalon’s man cave, since we only have one TV, it’s much smaller than that, and it is in the living room.

After that I went to an Italian restaurant for a last-minute birthday gathering for Richard Bonomo. We’re having a party for him tomorrow, but Catzookz couldn’t make it, so she and Twins Fan said we should get together for a late dinner. Cecil Markovitch, Prairie Man, and another person never mentioned on this blog were there as well, and Travalon joined us after his basketball game was over. I had already eaten and was not hungry, but then I ended up having a fancy ice cream drink and some of Travalon’s tira misu, so I wasn’t particularly virtuous. Catzookz brought balloons, which hopefully will still be up tomorrow for the “official” party. We don’t have a theme this year, but next year will have to be a big one, so maybe we should all start planning for that.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Time Capsule Movies

Last night Travalon and I went to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which I had never seen before. It is one of his favorite movies, and Audrey Hepburn is very stylish in it, but Mickey Rooney’s Japanese character is something else. It reminds me of a friend almost a generation older than I am, whose high school put on a play with “colored” characters, and the one actor wore blackface. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that people just did that stuff without thinking about how it would make other people feel. The movie felt like another era in other ways too, like one character is very excited about his speaker phone, and there is the phonograph they keep listening to. It’s so interesting to see such things when they were real and not just a modern attempt to recreate the period. That’s why I love silent movies – those are actual flappers in them! Too bad we don’t have movies from the time of Bach and Vivaldi, or even further back, in the Middle Ages. Can you imagine how cool those would be? Back at the turn of the millennium, when I was hanging out with Mr. Ubi Caritas, he was very scornful of the time capsule they were planning to bury that year. “Why would anyone care about that stuff in a thousand years?” he sneered. I replied, “Are you kidding?? I’d be so excited if they found a time capsule from the year 1000!” I guess he was not much of a history buff, more of a true crime one. But Travalon understands - he loves history too.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Foreign Languages and Musicians

Yesterday during Irish class we learned how to ask what you do in your free time, and it turned out that both the other student and I play both violin and mandolin. We got to talking about it after class, and he learned mandolin as a gateway to learning the fiddle, since he already knew how to play the guitar. I said I was just the opposite, being a classically trained violinist first and then learning the mandolin. He plays in a band too, but it sounds like they are a little more professional than our band, which has never been that serious. I just thought it was really fascinating that the two of us interested in learning a somewhat obscure, less than useful language are also musicians… and even play the same instruments! Oddly enough, we are also both Capricorns. Are naturally musical people also more adept at picking up foreign languages? Speaking of foreign languages, Travalon is also living his dream of learning Hungarian, because he has a coworker who is from Hungary. Maybe if he gets good enough, he could Skype A-Fooze and they could converse in Hungarian. Of course, this means Travalon and I cannot talk to each other in a foreign language, but after all, that’s what English is for.  

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Ladies' Night Out

I hope all my readers had a great weekend. Friday evening Travalon was watching high school basketball, so I went to Richard Bonomo’s house to have nerdly conversation with him and Kathbert. I mentioned that Travalon was going to Comic Con, and they asked if he were dressing up, but I said not that I knew of. We decided he would make a good BayMax, the giant cuddly robot from Big Hero 6. Kathbert can do a mean impression of a dalek so we decided she could go as that, and Rich could be the Robot from Lost in Space, and I said I’d go as Cthulhu, because who ever heard of a short, fat Cthulhu? Besides, he is pure evil and I can be too. By the way, I’m totally impressed that Spell Check recognizes Cthulhu as a word.

Saturday Travalon and I drove to London, another small town consisting of a Moravian church, a couple of businesses, and some houses. It was larger than Ashton and Martinsville. Then we went to the coffee house in Cambridge, called the Daily Grind, and then we spent some time at the dog park with Rodney. The guys were going out for steak that night, so we girls (Tiffy, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and I) decided to go to Maharaja Indian Restaurant for our own Girls’ Night Out dinner. We meant to do something more, like going dancing, but ended up talking so long that they closed the restaurant and kicked us out. By then it was pretty late, so Tiffy and I headed home, where we got sucked into a terrible Lifetime movie called Megachurch Murder. But come on, wouldn’t you have watched something with that name? It was so predictable that we had to keep watching just to see if our predictions were correct… and of course they all were.

Yesterday after Mass a bunch of us went to brunch at the Parkway, then a group headed to Devil’s Lake to snowshoe across it, Travalon went to Comic Con (sans costume), and Tiffy and I walked out onto Lake Mendota. We came across an area where someone had built a bunch of snowmen, a couple of igloos, and a snow Sphinx, then we went to the newly redone Edgewater Hotel, walked up what felt like five flights of steps, and discovered a small ice skating rink. We went inside the hotel and found a tiny café, so we each had a latte to warm up. After that we went to a Baroque music concert at Gates of Heaven synagogue. I headed home after that just to find Travalon watching the same game on TV that he had watched in person on Friday night. That must have been one awesome game! We went to Salvatore’s Pizza Pies and joined the snowshoeing gang, including Rich, the Single B-Boy, Trinidad Cap, and the organizer, Cecil Markovitch. Cecil, Trinidad Cap, and Rich ordered dessert, but for some reason Cecil’s was half the size of the others, so he kept cracking jokes about how little dessert he got. He is endlessly entertaining. If you are wondering, the pizza there is really good.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Date with Travalon

They say to date your spouse, so in that spirit I took yesterday afternoon off and went on a date with Travalon. We drove out to Martinsville again, since it was a beautiful and sunny (but very cold) day, and we had lunch at The Keg. I had a pub burger with nacho cheese sauce on it – so naughty but so good! Then we took a drive to Ashton, another tiny hamlet just west of town and only a few miles closer than Martinsville. It too consists of a number of houses, a bar, and a Catholic church. You could probably walk from one church to the other in better weather, and I wonder if they ever have Eucharistic processions between the two of them. Then we went to the chocolate shop at Hilldale, since Travalon had given me a gift card from there for my birthday. We used up the rest of the gift card on exotic chocolates and warm drinks. We walked across the street to the Sundance Theater to see American Sniper, a very intense movie about the deadliest sniper in US history. It did a good job of depicting both the horrors of war and the confusion of coming back to civilian life. We got some popcorn and then ended the evening with a lovely dinner in front of the fireplace at the Mariner’s Inn, right in our backyard. I ate a very light meal of walleye with Mediterranean salsa to make up for my naughty lunch. Though I love being married even better than dating, it sure was fun to go on a date with Travalon again!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rotten Monday

Yesterday was kind of a bad day. On the way to work there were a lot of little accidents, so the traffic was really slow and I got in late even though I’d left home early. Then the server was down again, and so the shortcut I had on my desktop to a program I use all the time didn’t work. A pop-up message said the program the shortcut was for was no longer valid, did I want to delete it, and I accidentally hit yes instead of no, so now my shortcut is gone. Once the server was back up, I found the program, but my preferred settings are all gone. Sigh. I did manage to make the font bigger, but it doesn’t look as good as it did before, when it was set up by a coworker. Late morning I went to my adoration hour, but there was a construction vehicle blocking most of the driveway, so I tried to go around it and ran into a snowbank. You wouldn’t think that would be a big deal, but it cracked Noelle’s bumper. I’ve had her one and a half months and I’ve already managed to bang her up. I have a warranty on her, but I called, and they don’t cover damage to bumpers. Then in the afternoon we had a work-wide meeting, and the facilitator asked those of us who hadn’t said anything to give our opinions, so I did… and was immediately belittled by a coworker in front of EVERYONE. This is why I don’t speak up at meetings. I’m not sure if my opinions really are that ridiculous, or if said coworker just wanted to flex her “I’m superior” muscles like a high school girl proving she is more popular. You’d think that stuff would have ended in adolescence…

Today I am having an OK day, very busy but not particularly good or bad. I’m hungry from dieting, and the snow is falling so hard that I imagine my drive home will be very interesting. Irish class was canceled, and Travalon is probably not going to go to the high school basketball game he’d been planning to see tonight. He just texted me that a coworker of his is from Hungary, so maybe she can teach him some Hungarian. I am doing Duolingo to practice my Irish skills, but they don’t offer Hungarian on it. It’s a free website for learning a foreign language, and so far it’s slow going. I tried to test out of the basic level, but the words they asked me to translate are not words we have covered in Irish class, so I’m stuck.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Milwaukee Trip for OK Cap's All-Year Birthday Celebration

Friday night Travalon and I went to the Manna Café again for dinner, because it’s the best of both worlds: uncrowded but the food is really good. The waiter recognized Travalon and said, “Chicken paprikash, right?” OK Cap was maybe going to join us, but she had car troubles, so we also didn’t get to go swimming at her pool.

Saturday was an excellent day. Cecil Markovitch, the Single B-Boy, Richard Bonomo, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and I met for coffee, then some of us went on to Milwaukee for the celebration of OK Cap’s big birthday year. We took a boy and girl car, so Travalon drove Prairie Man and Cecil, while OK Cap drove Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and me. Fittingly, we Rosary Ladies prayed a rosary on the way to Milwaukee. Tiffy met us at Karl Ratsch’s restaurant for a German lunch, then we went to St. Josephat’s Basilica (except not Tiffy) for confession, the rosary (but they only did three decades), and Mass. Afterwards we went to the Safe House, a bars with a spy theme, and I was the only one who knew the password, so I got to watch the others do the Chicken Dance. In the ladies’ bathroom there is a picture of a young Burt Reynolds without clothes but with what looks like a red heart-shaped door above the exciting bits. We tried to lift it, and it doesn’t actually lift, but a sound like a gunshot rings out, and a siren sounds all over the bar so everyone knows you tried to look. Also, the inside of the bathroom door says “Men” so that it looks like you can’t get out. We had a really fun time there, and Luxuli bet Cecil he wouldn’t eat a whole jalapeno pepper, so he did for a bourbon chocolate milkshake. At first he was fine, but there was a delayed reaction, and soon tears were streaming down his face as he gasped like a goldfish out of water. Prairie Man took some incriminating photos, but Cecil did recover quite quickly.

Yesterday Cecil, El Vegetariano, Rich, Luxuli, Prairie Man, Travalon, and I went to Mickey’s Tavern for brunch, because Travalon had told Cecil how good the lamb burger was, but of course it wasn’t on the brunch menu so we’ll just have to go back for dinner sometime. It was really snowing, so Travalon and I spent the rest of the day at home. I felt a little dirty watching that Super Bowl, like I shouldn’t encourage the NFL when two teams dominate the league, but at first the score was 0-0, which I liked. Like Grumpy Cat, I hoped both teams would lose. Eventually they did score, and then I rooted for Seattle because I hate them less, but of course with 20 seconds left, one yard from the goal line, they threw a pass instead of running it in, and it was intercepted. Then there was a big fight, which in my opinion was the best part of the whole game. So the Patriots won AGAIN. Bleah. 

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