Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Slow Food Bonomo

Last night was another round of Slow Food Bonomo. Handy Woman dug up a couple of redbuds growing in Rich’s front yard, because he has no use for them and she wants redbuds. We did move one to the backyard a couple of years ago, and now it is a small tree that gets lovely purple flowers in the spring. A neighbor must have one nearby, because little seedlings keep popping up in Rich’s front yard, under the pine tree, where they won’t have a happy life – too much shade. Handy Woman had baked delicious bread for the Slow Food dinner, and the other two regulars made salads. One was an amazing curry quinoa salad. It turns out one regular just had a birthday, and the other will have one Friday, so we joked that it was a joint birthday party for them. Kathbert picked black raspberries from Rich’s garden, and we put them in the Moscato that Jilly Moose brought. Prairie Man joined us, and Luxuli came a little later and made sauce for the pork roast Rich had cooked.

The Single B-Boy came too, because he is going on a hiking trip with Rich, Handy Woman, and another of the Slow Food ladies in August, but they didn’t really discuss the trip. It will be to Isle Royale, should any of my readers be interested in joining. Me personally, I have no interest in hiking for five days with a 50-pound pack on my back. Perhaps I should cultivate an interest, if I ever hope to complete the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, as has been my goal for many years. I always said I’d do it after my student loans were paid off, and they have been paid off for years, but somehow I have never actually made the pilgrimage. My friend Ethel recently did, with her oldest brother. She is 17 years younger than her brother, so this gave them a chance to actually get to know each other. They left spouses and kids at home. Ethel did give me a tiny incense thurible thing modeled on the giant one in Santiago de Compostela; I think it’s just a model and not fully functional. I haven’t actually tried to use it.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Fireworks and Fortieth Birthday Bash

Saturday morning the Rosary Ladies got together to pray the rosary, and we also had a surprise cake for OK Cap to celebrate her half-birthday. Jilly Moose made the cake, which was crème de menthe flavor with chocolate frosting, and it was delicious. In the afternoon Travalon and I took Rodney to the dog park and stopped at Mr. Brews for a quick drink, then Rich came over and helped Travalon take the motor off his boat so he can take it to the repair shop. We still haven’t figured out why it won’t start, but hopefully they can. In the evening Travalon and I went to the East Side Club to watch the fireworks. They had an ingenious scheme going there: they only let members watch the fireworks from their lakeside property, but if you wanted to sign up as a member on the spot, then they would let you in. Now Travalon and I are dues-paying members of the East Side Club. It was worth it to watch the fireworks in a relaxed venue, with folding chairs in front of the lake. Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Luxuli, and Prairie Man apparently got front-row seats on the Monona Terrace roof to watch the fireworks, which sounds kind of awesome, but Travalon pointed out that we didn’t have to deal with crowds.

Sunday Rich didn’t go to brunch, since he was going to the first Mass of a newly ordained priest, but some of the other regulars went. It is so pleasurable to converse with people who are deep thinkers. One girl had been an atheist but converted to Lutheranism and then Catholicism because of her study of art. In the afternoon Travalon and I drove down to Paoli to have a quick brew at the Hop Garden, and we brought Rodney and took a walk in Belleville. In the evening we went to the Married B-Boy’s 40th birthday bash. Cecil Markovitch is renowned for his crazy gifts, but we all agreed he outdid himself this time: he brought a bunch of gifts that were age-related, like adult diapers and denture cleaner and a brochure selling coffins, and he had put a different party attendee’s name on each one as the “giver.” Then he, of course, gave a really nice gift (a coffee table book about the Holy Land) with his own name on it. We laughed so hard! Who else would come up with such a crazy idea?

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Rolling Stones

One thing I forgot to mention about Make Music Madison: the group ahead of us did “Earth Angel,” only the lead singer was in the key of D, while the guitars and backup vocals were in the key of G. It was so awful that it was kind of awesome.

Tuesday night Travalon and I drove to Milwaukee to see the Rolling Stones. We stopped for dinner at a very slow seafood place, so we missed half of the opening act, Buddy Guy. The Stones look ancient (as Rich said, “Aren’t they 96 years old?”), but they still have a lot of energy. My favorite numbers were “Gimme Shelter” and a song they did with Buddy Guy, “Champagne and Reefer.”

We stayed over at the hotel where Travalon used to work, and yesterday I took the day off of work so we could hang out in Milwaukee. The hotel has a beautiful atrium full of tropical plants, and I felt like I was on a cruise ship as we swam in the pool. It really felt like a vacation. Next we drove to the Marquette University campus and checked out their Joan of Arc chapel, a medieval chapel brought over from France. Don’t worry, I took photos. In the Union we found a rosary missing the very part Travalon had found a few months ago at work, so I have put them together to create a not-too-aesthetically pleasing rosary, still missing a few beads. We took a walk along the lakeshore and then took a boat ride down the river with a guide telling us about the history of the city. We even went out into the harbor, where you could hear the music from Summerfest very clearly. Because the interstate is a mess with road construction, we took back roads partway home and stopped for dinner at a British Isles-themed restaurant called Revere’s in Delafield. They were going to have a bluegrass jam there later that evening, but I did not have any instruments along with me. When we got home, we took Rodney on a long walk to make up for neglecting him for 24 hours. Even Cashmere seemed happy to see us.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eek! Dead Mouse!

Years ago I had a boss who was wildly unpopular, and one day she sent an email to all of us that said: “WHO left the dead mouse on my desk?” We immediately all thought it was some sort of Godfather scene, only with a deceased rodent instead of a horse head because, let’s face it, plenty of us would have loved to send her such a message. Just a few moments later we all got an email clarifying that she meant a computer mouse, so we all had a good laugh about that. I was reminded of this incident when last night I texted Richard Bonomo that Travalon and I were at a superstore buying a mouse. Rich said, “A mouse?” and I explained that Travalon’s mouse was not working very well, because the red light on the bottom goes out intermittently and then the cursor freezes up. He responded, “Oh, a computer mouse! For some reason I thought you meant a rodent!” Which is not nearly as funny as the first story, since shopping for a rodent doesn’t have the narrative punch of leaving a dead rodent on the desk of a massively disliked supervisor, but it still seemed worth blogging about.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Celebrating the Solstice

Friday night there was another free dance on the roof of the Monona Terrace, and I had plans to attend with Jilly Moose and OK Cap, but first we went to an outdoor fish fry with Travalon, Richard Bonomo, Cecil Markovitch, the Single B-Boy, Twins Fan, Trinidad Cap, and his girlfriend. We had so much fun that we never did get to the dance. Cecil and Twins Fan are like a comedy duo when you get them together.

Saturday Travalon and I got on the road early with Rodney to drive to Rooster for my nephew’s high school graduation party. Once at the party, Travalon and Pa Hat disappeared to walk Rodney, and I ended up listening to my brother’s fascinating but not entirely accurate ideas about theology. He is apparently a Theist, believing that God set the universe in motion but then has no hand in the affairs of mankind. My nephew’s boss catered the event, and the spicy shrimp and pulled pork were so good, plus there was a ton of fresh fruit. Travalon and I stayed most of the afternoon, then we hopped onto Highway 14 and decided to follow it back home, like we had followed Highway 12 the weekend before. We stopped at a Minnesota State Park called Great River Bluffs and hiked to an overlook from which you could see all sorts of islands in the Mississippi River, and lots of other bluffs. Of course I’d forgotten my camera in the car, but Travalon did get some shots on his cell phone, if we can ever figure out how to get them from there to the computer. We stopped for dinner at an old-fashioned A&W and then for a beer in Jilly Moose’s hometown of Richland Center. Highway 14 is a very beautiful drive, hilly all the way back to Madtown.

Yesterday my band played twice at Make Music Madison, which is an all-day event to celebrate the Solstice. They have them all over the country, and ours is second only to New York City’s for the number of acts performing. Anyone can perform music, as long as it is free and outside. For this special occasion, I used the pick Paul Stanley threw to me at the KISS concert I went to with Travalon. Our first performance was at our leader’s church, and there was quite a crowd listening to us. Someone passed a bucket, so we each got $2 in tips. The second venue was not nearly as well organized, and we were the first group, so nobody was there to watch us. We also had to rearrange things so we weren’t playing right in the sun. Two people showed up just as we got ready to play, so at least we had an audience… and it grew to a respectable size as we kept playing for an hour. Travalon and I continued to celebrate the Solstice by having dinner on the roof of the Monona Terrace, an excellent spot to watch the last rays of light linger. Finally it grew dark, so we bid the longest day adieu and headed home.

Good news – I had an offer on my condo! I have accepted it, so hopefully very soon my condo will be sold!

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Fun with Siri

I have a “dumb” phone, one of those old flip phones where you pay as you go, and I turned off Autocorrect on it so it never makes amusing mistakes when I text. Some of my friends have the iPhone with Siri, and when they use talk to text, she comes up with some interesting interpretations. Just last night Rich sent me a text message that appeared to be in code: “Via Siri 20 for Whitneyway onto University now.” I knew he was coming up a road called Whitney Way and would then turn onto one called University Avenue to get to the health club, so I kind of figured that’s what this text meant. He added “Via Siri” so I would know he was doing voice to text, and I don’t know why Siri made Whitneyway all one word, but the funniest thing she did, in my opinion, was change “turning from” to “20 for.” Last week Luxuli, Rich, and I were trying to find out if a restaurant called the Nau-Ti-Gal was still open after 10 pm, and Siri had a lot of trouble with that name. She said she couldn’t find any restaurant called the Naughty Dog or the Nudie Girl. The best part is that Siri speaks, in a feminine voice, so she tells you out loud, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t find any restaurant called the Nudie Girl.” It almost makes me wish I had a smart phone, just so I could have fun with Siri too.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Crinkly Egg

Yesterday a coworker sold me a dozen eggs from a friend of hers who raises chickens. When I opened them, one of the eggs was all crinkly. I took a picture of it and will try to post it soon. I used most of the eggs to make three-egg Cajun omelets for Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and myself, so now there are only three left, including the crinkly one. I am going to try to preserve it somehow, perhaps blowing the inside out to preserve the shell, but my coworker tells me the crinkly ones are even more fragile than regular smooth eggs, so this may be an exercise in futility.

The reason Rich came over is to help us with our boat. It has a new motor, and Travalon got it to run from where he put in to our dock, but he took it off during a bad rainstorm and now it doesn’t want to start. Rich was unable to get it to start either, but he saw no need for panic. He thinks either the engine is flooded and time will fix it, or the sparkplugs got dirty while the motor was sitting on its side in our garage, in which case they just need to be cleaned. Either way, we will hopefully get to take the boat out soon. In any case, I have been in the boat, because we spent an hour sitting in it, trying to figure out what was up with the motor. So I can’t say I haven’t been on the water this season! 

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Following Highway 12

Mandy and I have had some great adventures together, but nothing beats our trip down Highway 12 yesterday. Mandy is, of course, my taterbug mandolin. Saturday morning she came with Travalon, Rodney, and me on a road trip up to Stratford, a small town that holds a Heritage Festival every June. My band was one of the featured ones, along with a Scottish American band made up of a bunch of very evangelical preacher’s kids. They were quite musically talented, but their songs were pretty in your face – my favorite was one about the “ten-lane superhighway to Hell.” The weather was drizzly, and so the crowd wasn’t huge, but we were under a shelter so our stage had the biggest crowd. To my surprise, one of the food tents was Jamaican food, so Travalon and I had some jerk chicken with rice and beans. I was not expecting something so exotic at a small town festival! A hotel in nearby Marshfield donated rooms for the performers, so Travalon and I got to stay there for only a $12 doggie deposit. We had dinner with another member of our band and her husband who were also staying overnight, then we took Rodney for a walk around the neighborhood and spent some time in the hotel’s cold pool and warm hot tub.

Yesterday was our road trip adventure. We got free breakfast at the hotel and then went to Mass at a nearby church, St. John the Baptist, which was gorgeous and apparently an old German parish, since the stained glass windows had German writing on them. The priest was funny where he could be and reverent where he should be. Then we hit the road and drove to a bar from the book outside of Neilsville called The Speakeasy, with an old dance hall next door called the Silver Dome. Usually it is locked, but a guy was doing repairs in there, so he let us come in for a look. I got photos that I will post soon. They still have acts perform there during the summer; it is too hard to heat in the winter. We returned to the bar itself for a wonderful lunch of grilled chicken and corn on the cob out on their patio, with the two resident dogs keeping us company. Of course we had to stop at the Norske Nook in Osseo for pie and a walk by the lake. Then we drove to Fall Creek to visit another bar from the book, Big Jim’s sports bar. It is owned by a former professional wrestler, Jim “Pillars of Power” Gagnon. (He wasn’t there at the time.) We followed Highway 12 to Black River Falls to visit a brewery from the book, but it was closed, so we’ll have to come back. Travalon suggested we follow Highway 12 all the way back home, so we did, stopping along the way at some parks: Humbird County Park beside a small lake, Mill Bluff State Park near Camp Douglas, beside a pond with an enchanting hill in the background, and Rocky Arbor just outside the Dells, full of pine trees and sandstone bluffs. We had dinner sitting outside at a pizza place in the Dells, then we followed the road home. It was so much fun that Travalon says we should follow some other highway soon.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Strength Training Without Mercy

Last night I experienced Strength Training Without Mercy (STWoM, pronounced “storm”) for the first time. Richard Bonomo, Luxuli, and I went to the health club much earlier than our usual time, so Rich figured we had time to do STWoM. It involves what he calls “pyramid” lifting, where you do one set of lifts on a machine at a weight you can lift about twelve times, then taking a break (on another machine – you don’t get to just sit there), coming back and doing a weight you can lift about eight times, taking another break, and lifting a weight you can do maybe three times. I got done well before the other two because apparently I lift too quickly. You are supposed to do it slowly to prolong the agony, but I’ll admit I just want to get it over with. Besides, it was agonizing enough. My arms really hurt, and today Travalon needed me to help him carry something heavy, but I was no use at all, so he had to do it alone. On the plus side, maybe all this lifting is making me lose weight, because I am down about four pounds. We also did wind sprints after lifting, but those I kind of enjoy. Running is much more fun than lifting.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mallards Game

Travalon was a very handy guy yesterday. He has a small fishing boat, and something was up with the new motor, but he figured it out. Then our floor fan conked out, so we bought a new one, and he put it together. He is an A+ husband! I can’t wait until we get a chance to take the little boat out on the river because we will be able to explore much further than we did in the canoe. I’d like to canoe too, but we are so busy the next couple of weeks. This weekend my band has a gig two hours away, so we are staying overnight, and next weekend we’re going to Minnesota for my nephew’s high school graduation. Maybe some weeknight we’ll have time to get out on the water…

Last night Travalon and I went to a Mallards game. They had been undefeated at the start of the season, but now they are in third place in the league, and last night might have dropped them down further, when they lost to the Green Bay Bullfrogs. They had very poor defensive playing and questionable pitching, in my opinion, though I do not profess to be an expert in baseball. All I know is they were walking guys left and right and letting guys get on base. For a while the score was 4-0, but finally they got a couple of runs and lost by three. You just never know what you are going to get with the Mallards from year to year because the players change every season. They are college baseball players who do this during the summer.

Here is another picture from Catzooks. It needs no explanation.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tourists' Map of Wisconsin

Sometimes I have nothing to say, and then I'll come across an old email from Catzooks with something fun like this Tourists' Map of Wisconsin.

Of course, this may only be funny to people who actually live in Wisconsin...

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015


The first summer Rich had his house, we started gardening in his backyard. I bought a poppy that is hardy to Zone Three, but it didn’t look like it would make it. The next year it did come back and bloomed once, while I was busy with the Early Music Festival. It has continued to get larger, and this year it has six spectacular blooms. Thanks to Richard Bonomo and Kathbert for taking these photos on their phones.

The poppies from a distance, with Kathbert's orange lilies blooming beside them.

A closer shot of the poppies. They were closing up because it was evening.

Finally, a shot of the poppies fully opened. Aren't they gorgeous?

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Outdoor Theater

What a beautiful weekend. Friday Travalon and I had a quiet dinner at home, but then we decided to go to the East Side Club for a quick drink. We ended up sitting down by the lake and watching some distant fireworks, then we went to get frozen custard, and I saw a coworker there. Busted! They all know I’m trying to lose weight…

Saturday Tiffy came to visit, and she, Travalon, and I went to the Keg for lunch, sitting out on the patio overlooking the countryside. We went for a walk around Indian Lake, then Travalon took Rodney and went to the Union Terrace while Tiffy and I met Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Cecil Markovitch, the Single B-Boy, the Dairyman’s Daughter, and her sister at American Players Theater for the season-opening potluck. Luxuli and Prairie Man came to the play, which was Merry Wives of Windsor – hilarious! And we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful night to watch Shakespeare outside.

Yesterday after Mass quite a few people went to brunch. It was supposed to rain, so the Corpus Christi Eucharistic procession was canceled, but it was actually beautiful outside, so Tiffy and I sat on my dock and enjoyed the weather as we talked about some survivalist TV show she watches. If they threw me out to survive in the woods, I’m not sure how long I’d last, but I do have my slow metabolism working for me. After she left and Travalon returned from the baseball game he’d been watching, he and I took Rodney for a walk on Governor’s Island. It is not technically an island but a peninsula, and it has gorgeous views of the campus and the Capitol building. Rich offered to fix the broken light in my old condo, so we met him over there, and then we went to dinner at Cocina Real and offered to buy him dinner to thank him. He just got a glass of horchata, saying he had food at home. Now we just need to fix the bathroom fan in the old condo… It had attracted some interest initially, but the showings have slowed down, so my realtor says we may have to lower the price. Hopefully I can make a little money when it finally sells!

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Friday, June 5, 2015

MyFace Security - Does It Have Any?

It has been a social week for me. Earlier this week I met up with the other Rosary Ladies (Luxuli, Jilly Moose, and OK Cap), and we prayed a rosary and then went out to dinner. We sat outside – you have to take advantage of the three months of good weather around here! Then last night I went to Light Bright’s house, and again we sat outside to eat. The little peach tree that got tied in a knot by the tornado last summer did not make it, alas, but her garden looks fabulous. Exciting news in her world: she is expecting in November! What a Christmas she is going to have!

I am very frustrated with that stupid MyFace website. People recommend that you up your security settings on it so you don’t get hacked, so I tried to do that. The website will send a code to your phone to enter whenever you try to log in, to prevent other people from logging in as you if they somehow get your password. Seems simple enough… I do that for online banking, for example. So I went into security settings and set it all up, and it claimed it sent a code to my cell phone for me to enter. It said this might take a few minutes, so I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally I double-checked the number, and it was right, so I tried it again, but still nothing. Of course I can’t find a number to contact anyone at MyFace. Does anyone have any thoughts about how to get around this? Richard Bonomo? 

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fake Famous Hat

I had my identity stolen recently. It happened like this: I opened a PayPal account at the end of March, then when I requested a copy of my credit report a month later, someone had opened a credit card that same day. They used my maiden name, Social Security number, and date of birth, but the credit card company told me the email address they gave was different than mine, and their mailing address was in Pennsylvania. That is all they would tell me, except that there were charges on the credit card that I would not be responsible for, and they would close the account immediately. I reported it to the credit report agency, and they sent me a new credit report with that credit card removed. Richard Bonomo said I should report it to the police as well, so I started with the city of my mailing address. They said it was not their jurisdiction, and I was in the school district of another town, so report it to them. I did, and they told me I don’t actually live in their jurisdiction either but in a small township (which I already kind of knew) so I’d have to report it to the county sheriff, which I did. They called me and told me to report it to an internet crime website, so I did that. I also called PayPal and said it seemed like an inside job, since an employee of theirs would have had access to my information when I opened the account with them. Either that, or their online encryption is terrible. They denied that either thing was possible. So far I am not out any money, and my credit rating should be protected, but someone out there has all my personal information. Now there is some kind of hold on my record, so if I try to open a new line of credit, there will be all kinds of hoops to jump through. But hopefully those hoops would stop anyone posing as me.

I am not alone in having problems. My office is small, maybe twenty people, and at least two of them submitted their income tax returns this year just to be told that someone had already submitted one using their Social Security number. The joke’s on whoever did it, because they undoubtedly wanted their income tax returns, but both these people ended up owing. Still, someone is getting a hold of people’s Social Security numbers. It is very scary.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Prairie Man's Retirement Party

Thursday evening I was going to meet with Light Bright for dinner, but she had to cancel for an evening work function, so I worked out with Rich, Luxuli, and Prairie Man. Rich and I did “wind sprints” in the pool, where I lagged even further behind him than on land. Afterwards we had a very late dinner at Jerkins. Friday evening Travalon and I went to check out a place called Wiggies not far from our condo; we thought it was a supper club because the sign says “Food and Spirits” (note that food is listed first), but in fact it was just a bar, so we had one beer and went to the Northside Restaurant. An older woman played the piano there who sounded as though she were practicing, not performing. I had the catfish and it was delicious. We will be back!

Saturday was Prairie Man’s retirement party at the Pleasant Valley Nature Conservancy. There were a lot of people there, but I was unadventurous and mostly talked to people I already knew. It rained on and off, so when the rain had subsided for a few minutes, we went to hike on one of the trails, but it was very steep and slippery. It went right along the side of a hill, so I got kind of scared (I don’t love heights) and couldn’t keep going, and Travalon and Jilly Moose turned around with me. Prairie Man did get all sorts of presents, including Legos (who knows why), a T-shirt of Smokey Bear saying “Fire Warning High Today” and a golf book from Travalon and me, a pull-up bar for the home from Rich, and an entire set of golf clubs from one of his former employees. After Travalon and I left the party, we took Rodney for a walk in Governor Nelson State Park, then we stopped for a quick beer at a new brewpub called Parched Eagle not far from our house. The owner looked just like one of my uncles, who also happens to love beer. The beer was really good, and we didn’t linger too long, but Rodney let us know he was not happy with us when we returned to the car. He has also figured out how to roll down his window. That is one clever dog.

Yesterday Mr. and Mrs. “Smith” were visiting from Texas with their three young children, so a ton of people came to brunch to see them. Afterwards Travalon and I went to the zoo, and eventually OK Cap met up with us. Travalon had wanted to see the Arctic Passage, which included polar bears, grizzly bears, and seals, but he was most delighted by the red pandas. They are very cute creatures that sort of look like auburn-furred raccoons. We also spent a lot of time watching the baby prairie dogs play. We went to the café across the street, and Travalon got a pineapple cider, which was delicious, although Cecil Markovitch wouldn’t think so. He hates anything to do with pineapples.

Yuri the Hibiscus is blooming again in Rich’s atrium. Remember how last year it bloomed while I was in Ireland and Kathbert said it was a sort of piss yellow? Now it is blooming a lovely apricot color. Here is a photo Rich took and sent to me of a double bloom it had. Unfortunately, I missed it. Note the old poinsettias blooming behind it too - Rich does nothing, and they bloom for him every year. When I tried to get poinsettias to rebloom, I had zero luck. Ignoring them must be the key.

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