Friday, July 31, 2015

Rodney's Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party

Yesterday evening Travalon and I grabbed a picnic table right by the water’s edge at the Union Terrace for Rodney’s Sweet Sixteenth birthday party. Soon we were joined by Luxuli and OK Cap, who had run into each other near the brat stand, and eventually our numbers swelled to include the Single B-Boy, Jilly Moose, Prairie Man, and Richard Bonomo. We all got dinner there, but quite a wide variety: fish tacos, brats, cheeseburgers, and a chicken salad were among the choices. Prairie Man had a vegetarian selection, I believe a black bean burger. A lot of us got the Union’s delicious corn on the cob too, and of course there were the libations, including summer shandies and a pitcher of sangria courtesy of Luxuli. I brought chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes for dessert, and Travalon brought doggie treats for the two canine attendees, the birthday boy and Michaela. It was a beautiful evening with perfect weather, and at first a bluegrass band was playing some wonderful background music, but later there was an open mic with bands of varying degrees of competence taking the stage. Their degree of competence seemed to be inversely proportional to their degree of volume. Otherwise, it was a perfect way to celebrate Rodney’s birthday. Here’s to many more in his future!

Famous Hat

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dramatic Boating Rescue

Late yesterday afternoon, Travalon and I set out in our boat to explore Cherokee Marsh. We were very excited because this time there was a clear path cut through the lily pads, and when we came to a second row, there was another clear path, so we got through to the island with no problems. We went a little beyond the island and were planning to turn around soon when the motor conked out completely. Travalon tried and tried to get it to restart, but nothing worked. I said, “We’re just going to have to paddle,” so we each grabbed an oar and started paddling back downstream, but the wind was blowing against us much harder than the current was carrying us, and we didn’t make much progress. 

Just then we saw a boat we had passed earlier coming back toward us. It was marked “Limnology” but the graduate student driving it said he was actually from Civil and Environmental Engineering, and they were just borrowing the boat from Limnology. The boat was full of baby reed plants that he and another graduate student were planting in the marsh. We asked if he knew anything about boat motors, and he did not, other than how to start the motor on the Limnology boat. However, he did tow us back most of the way home, and we chatted amiably and found out he had lived in Oconomowoc for a couple of years, so we knew a lot of the same places. We promised to make a donation in his honor to the Civil and Environmental Engineering department to make up for the time and gas wasted on our rescue, then we tried our motor again but it still refused to start, so we paddled the rest of the way home. At that point we weren’t too far away, but it was still a good half-hour of paddling, which should make up for my skipping UGGH Club tonight for Rodney’s Sweet Sixteenth birthday party. (Rich, my arms do feel like they’re going to fall off.) 

This morning I found it was ridiculously easy to donate to Civil and Environmental Engineering, and they even had a space to comment on your donation. It’s like they expect grateful boaters to be thanking their grad students on a regular basis.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

No Boat Ride Last Night

Last night Travalon and I went out for a sunset boat ride, but the motor wouldn’t start. Travalon tried everything and even called Rich to see if he had any insights, but nothing worked, so we finally had to give up. Oddly enough, when Travalon tried starting the motor this morning, it started right up. I always wonder in cases like that if our guardian angels were keeping us from going out because something bad might have happened to us. I am a big one for trusting my instincts and sometimes don’t do something because I have a bad feeling about it. Hardingfele once asked me if I am ever right, and I avoided something bad, but there has never been a case that was obvious. I just assume my not being present kept the bad situation from happening. For example, if I had driven my usual route home, maybe I would have been hit by a car running a red light, but because I wasn’t there, the car didn’t hit anyone. I have never had an obvious situation like those people who just felt like going into work late on September 11, 2001, and they couldn’t explain why. Then again, maybe our boat motor is just finicky and it was too hot/flooded/who knows what last night but the problem resolved by this morning.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Lemon Cake in the Tent with the Googly Eyes

Wasn’t this a beautiful weekend? I hope my readers enjoyed it as much as I did. Friday evening Richard Bonomo and I did Strength Training without Mercy at the health club while Travalon swam. Saturday a coworker was camping with a bunch of her friends at Kohler-Andrae State Park near Sheboygan, so Travalon and I took a road trip out there with Rodney. We took the plank path along the dunes to the dog beach, but it was a goodly hike so we were relieved when my coworker and a friend of hers were at the beach too, with a big black dog named Sophie. They gave us a ride back to camp. This group was a lot of fun, and we are hoping to camp with them next year. One sentence I uttered to Travalon that sums up the whole experience: “There’s lemon cake in the tent with the googly eyes.” We did go into Sheboygan to visit a tavern from the book and a brew pub that wasn’t, but that was really cool. Sheboygan is turning into a totally hip place! And it has a beautiful lakeshore area.

Yesterday Travalon and I went out on the boat for our longest ride yet, to just past Governor’s Island (which is actually a peninsula). It was so beautiful out on the water. One of the people on the camping trip had mentioned a band called Steely Dane would be playing at Atwood Fest, so we headed down there and caught most of their show. They did, obviously, covers of Steely Dan songs, and everyone was getting into it, including a little boy who couldn’t have been more than three. Travalon and I wrapped up the evening by visiting the Tiki Bar at the East Side Club, watching the sun set over Lake Monona. It was a gorgeous, rosy sunset. “Red at night, sailors’ delight.” It bodes well for us to take another boat ride tonight.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Live Music at the East Side Club

Last night I skipped UGGH Club to go see an ABBA cover band on the roof of the Monona Terrace with Travalon. However, when we got to the Monona Terrace, we could see the place was so packed that people weren’t getting onto the roof. I’d been to a dance like that before, where I got there early enough to be let in but then later people were turned away. Also, parking was incredibly scarce, so we decided to forego the dance and just head home to our boat. Then Travalon had an idea: why not check out the East Side Club? As we got closer, we could see a ton of people were there as well and wondered if we were going to strike out again, but we managed to find a parking spot. They had a bluegrass band playing, and there was a $5 cover charge to get in, but it was worth it to hang out by the lake, listening to live music. We didn’t realize, even now that we are official members, that they have live music on Thursday nights in the summer. A quick perusal of their website shows that it is not every Thursday night, but every other one. You don’t have to be a member to attend, so if any of my readers would like to go, let me know. It was a fabulous time with an amazing view of the sunset.

Famous Hat

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Boating on the River and Lake

I love summer! It is so much more fun than, say, winter. Last night Travalon and I went out in our boat, since the motor is finally working. We went up the river into Cherokee Marsh for a short spin, but lily pads were clogging the path to the island so we turned around and went back out into Lake Mendota. By then the sun was beginning to set and the wind was picking up, so the waves were getting wilder. It was a perfect night to be out on the water, and the sunset was glorious. We saw lots of people eating outside at Mariner’s, just like we did on Sunday evening. We could see a couple of fake lighthouses from the boat, the one in front of Mariner’s restaurant and the one in front of the Mariner’s Cove condo complex. I just love living in such a “maritime” community! We haven’t canoed yet this summer, but Travalon pointed out that we had only acquired the canoe about this time last year and still did tons of canoeing, so we have that to look forward to as well. Tonight we may go out on the boat again but will probably go see an ABBA cover band on the rooftop of the Monona Terrace. I love summer!

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Early Music Weekend

My vacation continued on Friday when I met Tiffy for breakfast at Short Stack, a restaurant that only does breakfast food all day long. We checked out the Maxwell Street Days sales, then we met the Daughter of Denni to see the Participant Concert. Most years I have been in it myself. It’s amazing how good all these amateurs are. It was a very hot day, so we mostly stayed inside in the air conditioning. Rich met us for dinner at Kabul’s, then Tiffy and I went to the concert that night, which was Ensemble Peregrina, four women singing medieval chant and polyphony. They were extraordinary. Afterwards Travalon met the two of us at Hop Cat for a beer; we both got carded, but he didn’t, so we loved that.

Saturday Travalon had to work, so I met Tiffy and Rich for coffee, and then we hung out in her sister’s gorgeous apartment. Tiffy and I had lunch at a Peruvian restaurant, then I went home and spent some time with my poor husband, since he hadn’t seen much of me for the past week. We had the shrimp boil at the Nau-Ti-Gal for dinner, then he went to a movie while I met Tiffy and the Daughter of Denni for the final concert of the Early Music Festival. Such glorious music! I especially loved the Russian liturgical polyphony. Afterwards we went to Mr. Brews to compare it with Hop Cat, since they both carry many beers but Mr. Brews is locally owned. We all liked it better than Hop Cat, since it had a calmer clientele with more varied ages.

Sunday Anna Banana II came to Mass to say her goodbyes, and Jilly Moose came too. She joined us for brunch afterwards, then Rich, Travalon, and I went to our realtor’s thank you picnic for her clients. It was a cookout with delicious burgers and lots of stuff for kids, like face painting and a bounce castle. There was even an inflatable obstacle course which we decided to try, even if it was geared for children. Rich got through it without any problems, but Travalon and I were out of breath by the time we finished. Guess I need to go to UGGH Club more regularly! I haven’t been in two weeks… Travalon and I ended the wonderful week with a romantic dinner overlooking the lake to celebrate my selling the condo. And now it’s back to everyday life… sigh.  

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rosary Ladies Road Trips

Sorry for the lack of blogging this past week. I have been so busy with the Rosary Ladies, since Anna Bananaa II is in town, and Tiffy is too. I will give a brief summary of what we have been up to:

Friday Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and I went to Anna Banana II's cottage on Lake Ripley for dinner, then we all went to the drive-in theater to see Minions and Inside Out. I didn't get home until 2 am from our outing watching kiddie movies!

Saturday Travalon and I went to Durward's Glen for the birthday of the Dairyman's Daughter. Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Mr. N'Awlins, Cecil Markovitch, and the Single B-Boy were among the guests, and we all went for a hike afterwards. It is beautiful out there. Travalon and I took the ferry on the way home, then I met Tiffy and the Daughter of Denni for dinner before the first concert of the Early Music Festival. It was the Rose Ensemble singing Russian and other Slavic liturgical music, and it was so amazing that I bought their CD. The theme of the festival this year is Eastern European Early Music. After the concert, we saw Tiffy's sister's downtown apartment. Wow! Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Capitol Building and my church. Gorgeous!

Sunday Travalon and I overslept, so we went to brunch at the Keg, sitting on their patio overlooking the countryside, and then we went to Mass at the pretty church in Martinsville, St. Martin of Tours. We took a hike at Governor Nelson State Park, then we went to a Mallards game with Anna Banana II and OK Cap. We had to leave in the seventh inning so I could get to the Early Music concert in time, but the ladies stayed and saw a very exciting game with a grand slam for the visiting team, an extra inning when the Mallards tied it up, and a walk-off homer. The concert was wonderful, very Mideastern-sounding music. Afterwards Tiffy and I joined Travalon at the Union Terrace.

Monday Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and I took a mail boat cruise on Lake Geneva, learning about historic houses on the lake while watching agile teenagers leap off the boat, deliver the mail, and leap back onto the boat. We'd been expecting rain, but the weather was perfect, so we ate lunch outside too. On the way home we stopped at the outlet mall at Johnson Creek for some shopping, then Travalon joined us for dinner at the Nau-Ti-Gal.

Tuesday Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, and I went for a morning hike at Indian Lake, up the hill to the chapel. We prayed the rosary at a spot overlooking the lake, then we headed downtown and met Tiffy for lunch. Later that evening I met Tiffy, the Daughter of Denni, and some others for dinner before the Piffaro concert. That was fun, as always, but sadly one of the members couldn't be there because he is suffering from recurring brain tumors and needed surgery... again. Hopefully this time was the charm.

Yesterday Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, and I drove to Green Bay to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Hope, where we got rosary bracelets. Then we went to a health food restaurant called Urban Frog for lunch. We went to Lambeau Field and visited the gift shop, where we all got matching Packer umbrellas. I also got a couple of presents for Travalon and a Packer leash for Rodney. In the evening I went to Concert on the Square with Tiffy and Rodney; Prairie Man, Luxuli, and El Vegetariano were among the other people there. The theme was Spanish music. Travalon couldn't be there because he was taking his mother to another outdoor concert, this one in Oconomowoc.

Today Travalon, Jilly Moose, and I drove to Watertown to visit Beres Brothers Coffee, then we hiked on Tivoli Island, and then we toured the Octagon House, a big, brick, octagon-shaped house from the Civil War era. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Johnson Creek, then Travalon and I went to the closing for my old condo. I am so excited to have finally sold it! Rich had dinner this evening, and I brought the pasta I'd bought at the outlet mall. Kathbert, Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, and Prairie Man came too. Now I am finally home and blogging.

Famous Hat

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gig for Tips from Children

I was telling someone I had met a friend of hers who seemed very nice, and she started talking trash about the woman. Then she said the reason she doesn’t like her is because she says bad stuff about people behind their backs instead of confronting them, while she herself never talks behind people’s backs and is always straightforward. Is this an example of irony, or hypocrisy, or is it just human nature? I can certainly be bad with talking about people, but I would never claim to NOT have such a flaw. It just struck me as kind of funny, but of course you can’t laugh in someone’s face when they say something like that.

Yesterday I left work early for another gig, this one at the Mount Horeb Farmers’ Market. (Those of us who often bike to the town call it Mount Horrible, since it is uphill the whole way.) One vendor was really nice and gave us flowers and raspberries; the others just told us how much fun it was to listen to us. It was wonderful being outside and playing, but we got paid in tips, so we only got $3 each and somehow Hardingfele’s math was bad so she only got $1. She took the raspberries as the rest of her pay, although she did let me have a handful. Interestingly, the people who tipped us the most were children – are they more generous by nature? I would have thought a kid would spend a dollar Mom gave her on candy, not on the abstract concept of tipping the musicians. Maybe there is hope for this very young generation!

My blogging may be somewhat sporadic for the next week due to the Early Music Festival. 

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Smart Phones

Yesterday Anna Banana II and Jilly Moose came to my house, and we took Rodney for a walk around the neighborhood, then we went to the Nau-Ti-Gal. I just had a cup of their famous clam chowder, since Travalon and I were planning to have dinner together later. I bid adieu to the ladies and headed back the short distance to my house, and just as I got to our road, Travalon was turning onto it, so he and I headed to the mall. Now I hate malls, but Travalon’s phone had died the day before, and he had been wanting to get a better one anyway, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Yes, Travalon and I have now leaped into the 21st Century and own smart phones. The guy showed us a Samsung Galaxy, but I was having a tough time understanding it, after the simplicity of my little flip phone, so he suggested an iPhone for me, since it is more user-friendly. In the end, I got the iPhone and Travalon got the Galaxy. Then we went to Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill for dinner and sat texting each other with our new toys. It is so much easier to text on my new phone, and it has voice-to-text technology, so I can dictate texts. My voice must be clearer than Rich’s, because I wasn’t getting too many goofy errors like he does. This morning I even asked my phone what ever happened to the other guy from Wham, and it told me! It’s mind-boggling that a phone can do all that.

Famous Hat 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Fireworks Cruise and the Grateful Dead

I hope my readers all had a happy Fourth of July. Travalon and I started the festivities on Friday, when we joined Cecil Markovitch, Twins Fan, my OTHER choir director, Richard Bonomo, OK Cap, the Single B-Boy, and the Dairyman’s Daughter for a fish fry at the Dorf Haus. I bought my OTHER choir director a drink for his birthday, which had been this past Monday. It was also my half-birthday, so after dinner I indulged in a naughty dessert of chocolate cheesecake, but fittingly I only ate half of it. It was so much fun, especially since Cecil and Twins Fan are so entertaining together.

Saturday Travalon and I joined Jilly Moose and OK Cap for coffee, sitting outside to enjoy the lovely weather. (Plus we had Rodney with us.) Then we went to the farmers’ market, and Travalon tried to sneak Rodney in, but he got busted. No dogs allowed! We bought kale, broccoli, garlic scapes, and scallions, then we went home and I made omelets with veggies, leftover chicken, and the eggs my coworker sold me. (I did successfully blow the insides out of the crinkly egg, preserving the odd shell.) We went to the Fourth of July picnic in Columbus, but they didn’t allow dogs there either, so we didn’t spend much time there, since Rodney was with us. We took him for a walk by the stream in Lodi. In the evening we took a Betty Lou cruise on Lake Mendota, and the boat stopped right under the fireworks in Maple Bluff. That was amazing to see. We toured the whole lake and saw fireworks going off all around us; when we saw the ones in Shorewood, a drunk guy said, “Sherwood? Sherwood Forest? Call me Christopher Robin!” We conversed with two other couples, and one couple goes to our church, so I tried to recruit the man as a new tenor for our choir. However, we didn’t see him Sunday morning…

Yesterday after Mass and brunch as usual, Travalon and I drove to Devil’s Lake and met Anna Banana II there. She is visiting town for two weeks, and the first thing she wanted to do was take a hike. Rich and the Single B-Boy also showed up, and we all took the low trail from the south side of the lake to the north side. On the way back, Rich and the B-Boy hiked up in the bluffs, but we had Rodney with us so we stayed on the low trail. Then Travalon and I went to a simulcast of the last Grateful Dead concert ever, or so they say. Of course Jerry Garcia’s been dead for twenty years now (can you believe it?) but the other guys are still going strong, and they had a fantastic guitarist from Phish join them on their long jams. We were really enjoying the show, but it went on till midnight, and we had to get up this morning, so we didn’t get to see the last hour and a half. All the people in the theater were singing along to the songs – they got especially excited about “Truckin.’” I used to love the Dead back in college but sort of forgot about them until Travalon put on Working Man’s Dead in the car one day, and I was surprised at what good music it really is. I thought we just liked it back in the day to be cool hippies.

Famous Hat

Friday, July 3, 2015

Expensive Switch

The good news on my old condo was that, after the inspection, the only thing the buyer wanted me to fix was the air conditioner, which the inspector said wasn’t working. The bad news was that they would only accept a paid receipt from a professional, so I couldn’t have Richard Bonomo fix it. However, he did look at it with me last night, and he determined that the problem was with the outlet. Oddly enough, there was enough juice at the circuit breaker but not at the outlet, so he thought maybe someone had done some rewiring in the building since the last time I had used the air conditioning. This morning an HVAC specialist named Jason came and looked at the air conditioning unit. The inspector had noted that it was dirty, so Jason cleaned the filter. He also checked the juice to the outlet, but unlike the rest of us, he noticed a switch by the thermostat was turned off, so he turned it on… and the AC came to life. I had once known about that switch but completely forgot about it, since I used the air conditioner about three days every year and always left the switch on but unplugged the unit when it wasn’t in use. Somehow the inspector missed it too, and Rich didn’t notice it. So it cost me $100 to find out about a switch, but at least I don’t have to pay an electrician to fix the wiring, and this way I get a paid receipt from an HVAC professional, just as the buyer requested. Hopefully nothing else comes up before closing!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Frog on Stage

They say not to share the stage with animals or children, because they will always upstage you, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Last night my band had a gig at the retirement home where one of our fiddlers lives. We had a goodly crowd come to hear us, including visitors, and I was surprised how many people from my OTHER choir were there. (Of course, now it is sort of my ex-choir, since I didn’t sing with them at all this past year.) Things were going well, and I thought we sounded particularly good, but I had a little stage fright over having to introduce rags and bluegrass. That went fine too – I just gave a summary of what I’d found on Wikipedia about each genre. We were in the middle of a rag when I saw something very small hopping across the stage. I looked more closely and saw it was a tiny frog! How did it get in? We were nowhere near an outside door – the stage is deep inside the building. I could tell my bandmates also saw it, but we just kept playing. Once the song was over, I announced, “We have a special guest on stage,” and a bunch of people in the audience laughed, so they must have seen the frog too. It hid under a guitar case, but when it came back out, an audience member who had fashioned her program into a kind of cone like what you’d get French fries in scooped up the frog and took it outside, and everyone cheered. We actually play a Norwegian song that translates to “Little Frogs,” but it wasn’t on the program, so unfortunately we did not pull it out. It would have been perfect! It’s a kids’ song about how little frogs have no ears or tails.

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