Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pawpaw Feast

In one of those weird coincidences that always happen in my life, Richard Bonomo mentioned on Sunday evening that he was thinking of planting pawpaw trees in his backyard, since he had heard that they are very hearty and the fruit is nutritious and delicious. I professed to not knowing anything about pawpaws other than having heard of them, but wouldn’t you know that yesterday one of my coworkers brought a whole bunch of pawpaws into work, so I got to try one. And they are delicious! I don’t know how to explain them: a little like a mango, a little like a persimmon, maybe a little like a banana. You would think they are a tropical fruit, with their custard-like flesh and big seeds, but they grow quite happily around here. Today my coworker brought more pawpaws, because his neighbor has a bumper crop of them this year, so we feasted on them again. I’m not sure how much longer this will go on, but I will certainly enjoy it while it lasts! Pawpaws do not last more than a couple of days, so you have to eat them while they’re fresh. I did snag one for Rich, so he can decide if he wants to plant pawpaw trees in his yard.

Did everyone watch that game last night? I really enjoyed it, because unlike the Badgers blowout, Kansas City put up a good fight before our Pack defeated them. I am optimistic about this season, because Rodgers has never looked better, and Lacy and Cobb were amazing last night too, plus our defense was better than it has been some years. Maybe this is the year the Packers go all the way!

Famous Hat

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Badgers Beat Up Hawaii

Friday as I was heading home, I saw a sun dog in the clouds. Check it out. Someone on MyFace said the cloud formation looks like an angel.

That evening Rich’s Japanese guests made dinner again. Saturday I was supposed to play with my band at an orchard and then go to the Badgers game, but I was feeling under the weather. Later in the afternoon I felt a little better, so Travalon and I took our longest boat ride yet back into the marsh with Rodney. We saw a lot of people out there, in kayaks and boats and even on personal watercraft, so we weren’t too afraid of being all alone if the engine should conk out. Which it didn’t, so it was a fantastic ride. Then Travalon was a wonderful husband and stayed home to watch the game with me. It was a blowout, so we were pulling for Hawaii to at least score some points, but they never did. I don’t find games like that satisfying. I prefer close, exciting games. Who needs to watch the Badgers beat up on teams that aren’t in the Big Ten?

Yesterday our group went to a different place for brunch, but we were disappointed to find out it is a chain and not a family-owned restaurant. The food was very good. Then Travalon and I drove to Mineral Point and walked around the town, stopping at the brewery for a summer shandy and going to a store that sells all sorts of Celtic art and foreign food. Then we drove to Governor Dodge State Park and explored the two lakes there, but it was too late by then to rent a canoe. The good news is that they allow dogs in the canoes there. The park is so beautiful; Travalon said he felt like he was up north. Then we met Jilly Moose and Kathbert at Rich’s for some leftover lasagna, and we all watched the lunar eclipse. A couple of Rich’s neighbors joined us in watching the earth’s shadow getting cast over the full moon until the moon appeared blood red. It was a “super moon” eclipse because the moon is now at its closest point to the earth. These only happen once every three decades or so. I hope all my readers got to go outside and check it out last night!

Famous Hat

Friday, September 25, 2015

Waking Up Rodney

This morning Travalon went to wake up our grumpy old poodle Rodney, to take him on a quick walk before work, but Rodney was having none of it. I heard him growl at Travalon, then I rolled over and went back to sleep. Hard to blame Rodney, since Travalon has to go to work so early on Mondays and Fridays. When I finally did get up at a more merciful hour, Travalon had left me a note asking me to please walk Rodney, but the dog was still asleep. I made some noise and woke him up, but he snarled at me too when I tried to put his leash on him. Only slightly deterred, I pulled the blankets out from under him, so then he sighed and stood up, realizing his stubbornness is no match for mine. We went on a walk and he did his duty, but then I had to leave him. I felt very guilty for waking him up and then abandoning him – why not just let him sleep and sneak out quietly? But he would have needed to get outside when he finally did wake up, and nobody would have been home to let him out. Frankly, I’m surprised that I had no trouble waking up, since I worked out with Richard Bonomo and Luxuli last night, and then we went to Jerkins. They were giving away a free short stack of pancakes yesterday, but we didn’t realize the sweet deal ended at 10, and we got there well after 10:30. Then we left after midnight. Yet this morning I had no trouble getting out of bed… unlike Rodney.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Condo Association Meetings

I have to laugh at some of the ads on my blog, like yesterday there was one to vote for Walker for president. Not only does that make no sense, considering what I have stated about my thoughts on his policies, but by then he had long since dropped out of the race. The ads supposedly make money for me (at a very slow rate), but I mostly consider them a form of amusement. It’s fun to compare what ads I see with what my regular readers see, because they seem to be tailored to our interests. Except for that Walker for President one, of course. I have no idea who I will vote for, but it was never going to be Walker, even before he dropped out.

Last night Travalon and I had our annual condo association meeting at Mariner’s Inn, so we went there for dinner beforehand and sat outside, overlooking the water. We have to take advantage of being able to eat outside while we still can! To quote Game of Thrones (so I hear– I’ve never seen it), “Brace yourselves – winter is coming!” This meeting was quite calm and lasted almost exactly an hour, since everyone who came agreed with the proposed budget. In my experience, problem people generally don’t come to condo association meetings anyway, although I wouldn’t say we have any “problem people” in our current association. At my old condo complex, there were always people who violated the dogs on leashes rule, and we would complain about them at the meeting, but they were never there to hear us. The worst offender had some sort of pit bull-type creature named Annabel, which we nicknamed “Annabeast” because she was never on a leash so she would run up to us, growling and threatening to tear us to shreds. Then her owner would grab her by the collar and laugh, “Oh, Annabel, they’re friendly!” She would add, for our benefit I guess, “She’s a rescue. She isn’t sure who’s friendly yet.” Okay, great, I can understand an abused animal being unsure about people, but for crying out loud, KEEP YOUR BEAST ON A LEASH!!! It’s not our problem if she doesn’t like people! We would complain about Annabeast at every condo association meeting, and the president of the board would assure us that Annabeast’s owner had been warned about her behavior, yet the behavior continued. Eventually the owner spawned (I shudder to think of Annabeast around a child), and then she moved away with the baby daddy, so that was the end of our issues with Annabeast. Fortunately there is no equivalent in our current neighborhood. Everyone has very small dogs that they keep on leashes, and some are amazingly yippy, but I have no fear of any of them tearing my jugular open.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cafeteria Catholics of Both Leanings

The Pope has now arrived in this country, and everyone is going bananas. He is supposed to address Congress, and some Congressmen said they were going to boycott his talk because of his “liberal” talking points. This strikes me as disingenuous, because these are the same conservative Catholics who decry liberal “cafeteria Catholics” for picking and choosing which Church teachings they will follow, but how is that different from what they are doing? They are upset that the Pope is talking about our duty to help the poor and protect the environment, but that is just as much Church teaching as opposing abortion and gay “marriage,” so they are also being “cafeteria Catholics.” Richard Bonomo says someday he is going to write a book, and the first half will be called: “Social Justice Isn’t Enough,” and then you would flip it over, and the second half would be called: “Orthodoxy Isn’t Enough.” Why are so many Catholics either “left” or “right”? Shouldn’t we all just be “Catholic”? And if you are Catholic, and the Pope says something you disagree with, whether you are liberal or conservative, it would behoove you to examine your own stands on the issues instead of saying he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Because I’ll bet he does more than you do.

Famous Hat

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jilly Moose's Epic Birthday Trip

It’s so sad that summer is officially over tomorrow. This has been the best summer of my life, but all good things must come to an end. When I posted on MyFace about how sad it is, a friend in Japan said it has been cool and rainy over there, but yesterday the sun came out so she was happy again, and my cousin on Lawn Guiland said it was hotter than Hades at the beach there this weekend.

Friday was Jilly Moose’s big 40th birthday bash. She had 38 people there, so if Catzookz and Twins Fan had shown up, she would have had an even 40. One of her uncles gave her a small wooden treasure chest filled with 40 dollar coins – what a cool idea! Travalon and I gave her a statue of a moose playing soccer, a T-shirt from the Wicked Moose Pub in Rochester, and the giant cuddly rosary Ma Hat made, which everyone loved. (When I first saw it myself, I texted Ma Hat, “I want one!” and she said she had already started it for me.) She also got lots of other moose stuff, including a birthday cake with a moose on it. She sure is easy to shop for!

Saturday was Jilly Moose’s epic birthday adventure. She didn’t know where she was going as she got into the car with Travalon and us Rosary Ladies, but the first stop was the Cedarburg Wine and Harvest Festival. It was very crowded there, since the weather was so beautiful. Check out the photo of me with a giant stuffed llama. Travalon bought me a little stuffed llama which is inexplicably named “Paddy O’Llama.” Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and I also bought earrings, and the ladies bought some other stuff too.

 Our next stop was Watts Tea House in Milwaukee for a real English high tea, and Tiffy met us there. We ladies all had the high tea with little sandwiches and desserts, but Travalon had homemade toffee with his tea, although we gave him tastes of our desserts. Since we were downtown, we made an unscheduled stop at an English-style pub along the river walk and sat outside by the river, enjoying a drink. Several of us said that was our favorite part of the whole day. We watched them raising and lowering the nearby bridge to let large boats get through. Our last stop was the Three Lions Pub in Shorewood, owned by actual British guys. Travalon says it is very authentic. We had British food for dinner, and four of us split a toffee pudding for dessert. We got home very late from our epic adventure, and Jilly Moose said she loved all of it.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to the Willy Street Fair, which was as crazy as always. We met Hardingfele there and listened to a Celtic band, then we wandered down the length of it, checking out food stands and jewelry stands and political stands and, finally, a giant pumpkin contest. (They had one in Cedarburg too.) Lots of crazy outfits – I saw one guy dressed as a unicorn! Then Travalon and I took a short boat ride to the marsh – we have to get them in while we still can – and then we went to Rich’s house for dinner. The Japanese professor and his grad student who visit once or twice a year were there with an undergrad, and they cooked us curry beef – yum! Then we watched the Packers beat the Seahawks. So I was already in a good mood today – and then we heard our state governor is dropping out of the presidential race! Oh, happy day!   

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Jilly Moose's Birthday Poem

Today is Jilly Moose’s birthday, and she is having a cookout at her house tonight, although the weather is a bit iffy so we might end up being inside. Tomorrow Travalon, some other friends, and I are taking her on an epic journey which is a surprise for her, so I’ll tell my readers all about it afterwards. Here is a birthday poem for Jilly Moose:

Happy birthday, Jilly Moose!
Now you’re the big four-oh!
Welcome to the Middle-Aged Club
Where no one wants to go.
Our youth is all behind us,
But at least we’re not yet old.
At least we have a few decades
Before we reach that age of gold.
I’ve been in this club a few years now
And I’ll say it’s not too bad.
The years I’ve spend within this decade
Have been the best I’ve ever had.
I’ve certainly heard people say
That at forty life begins,
At least we have some wisdom now
And have shared lots of grins.
So I hope this decade is good to you,
And that you enjoy it still,
Because in just ten years from now,
You’ll be officially Over the Hill.

Famous Hat

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Republican Debate #2

My hair seems to know when I’m scheduled for a haircut – it looks bedraggled for weeks, and then the day of the scheduled cut, it looks fabulous. Today is no exception. Why, hair? Why look so beautiful just so I think, “Aw, maybe I shouldn’t get it cut yet”? Is it actually sentient?

Did any of my readers watch the Republican debate last night? It was so entertaining! Trump was as nuts as ever, but some of the other candidates said things that made a lot of sense. I have no idea who I’d actually vote for in the presidential election at this point, but fortunately there is plenty of time to make a decision. One thing I’ve noticed is that people say a candidate is “pandering to the base” when he (or she!) says something very conservative, but they don’t seem to say that about liberal candidates. Wouldn’t a Democratic presidential candidate saying something very liberal be pandering to the base as well? Maybe the pundits will say that after the first Democratic debate – something to watch for, anyway. I did enjoy when the candidates went after each other but really respected the ones who refused to make ad hominem attacks, like Carson and Kasich. And a few of the candidates actually mentioned poor people, which is good to hear from Republicans. Some of them, like Jeb Bush, seem to forget that poor people exist… and they vote. They all agreed on several issues, but Rand Paul had the most different outlook, since he is libertarian rather than a pure conservative. I love hearing what they all think about the issues, and what they would do about the most pressing problems of our times, although Trump is a little short on solutions and mostly talks about how great he is. This is going to be a very interesting political season!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Easing into Irish

Thankfully, we are easing back into Irish in my class. The other guy from last year and I are trying to remember everything, and the third guy has been doing Duolingo (exactly like I haven’t been), so this is his first formal class. This year I really want to succeed at Irish. Since my hip hop station is getting kind of redundant, I decided to listen to the CDs that came with my Irish textbook in the car, but I can only catch about one word in five, so it sounds like this to me: “Blah blah blah Saturday. Blah blah blah five o’clock. Blah blah tavern blah blah. Okay.” (Remember how in Kilkenny I saw a café called the Blah Blah Blah Café? Apparently “blaa” is what they call a bread roll from Kilkenny or Waterford. I don’t know if that’s from Irish, since the word for bread is “aran.”) To add to the fun, they have people with wildly different accents speaking, so one person’s “How do you do?” does not necessarily sound like another person’s. And I previously blogged about having a dream in which Old Church Slavonic had a person form meaning “everyone” – well, it turns out Irish has another person form meaning “someone.” Maybe they don’t use it much, since it hadn’t come up before, and we aren’t being asked to learn it. We just saw it on one of the handouts the teacher gave us. Will the fun never end? The thing you have to remember in Irish is that they prefer prepositional phrases to verbs, so for example you would say, “There is a blue coat on her” rather than, “She wears a blue coat.” And the verb always comes first in the sentence, which I understand is the opposite of German, but that is one language I really know very little about. Nor do I plan to study it anytime soon – I’ve got my hands full learning Irish!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Edited Out of Existence

The person I have random conversations with at work called today, and he was talking about editing writers’ articles for a journal and how they never noticed. That reminded me of the worst time I was ever edited:

Paris, 1997. I was part of a delegation of pilgrims from our parish going to World Youth Day to see the Pope, and our diocesan newspaper asked us to write an account of our journeys. Each pilgrim wrote a description of a day on our sojourn, and I got the day of the Papal Mass, a.k.a. World Youth Day. I wrote a long, involved, and (I thought) colorful and entertaining description of the day, but when we got back to the US and saw the diocesan paper, while almost everyone else’s account was printed verbatim, mine was trimmed to a two-sentence blurb about the Papal Mass that wasn’t even anything like what I’d written. This was a real blow to me, since I considered myself a great writer, and certainly far superior to the other pilgrims in my writing skills, but obviously the diocesan newspaper editor did not think so. For your amusement, I have copied the text of my original description, which Richard Bonomo has helpfully posted on the internet:

August 24th, World Youth Day! I had not spent the night at Longchamp, suffering as I was from a bad cold (the French word for which I cannot pronounce without sounding like Inspector Clouseau). The pilgrims were just starting their day with a nutritious breakfast of cold cereal, irradiated milk, and a candy bar. It was breathtaking to see so many separatist flags in one place. There was a Basque flag and a Spanish flag sharing the same pole peacefully. The most intriguing flag by far looked like ours in black and white, only the black objects on a white field weren’t stars but pine trees with crosses on them. It was the flag of Brittany in NW France. The Mass commenced at 10:00 and the Gospel was sung with an eerie beauty by a deacon who, at 39, was younger than some of the “youths” in our group. Even before the Mass was over, groups began retreating, trailing behind their standards like the losers of some medieval battle. The mood was festive, with everyone singing and chanting. Then we had a prepacked picnic lunch and I must say that the catering firm of Sodexho outdid themselves this time. Lunch consisted of a tuna and lentil concoction that resembled top-shelf catfood, a cakelike object, and crackers. Then Ethel and I went to the Cluny, which is actually called La Musee Nationale des Arts du Moyen Age, where we saw lovely stained glass and unicorn tapestries. Afterwards we people-watched and little gypsy kids kept approaching us and asking for change. The first was a pro with his low, sad voice, his downcast eyes and his empty coin cup, and as the finale of his performance, he stroked Ethel’s hand gently. The other kids were not so suave -- one spit in front of me and then shook his coin cup in my face. I went to St. Denis after that and was stopped just before the door by a pair of West Indies girls who were so friendly that I was sure they wanted to pick my pocket. I had found a small Canadian flag, and they asked if I were a Quebecoise, then they wanted to take my photo. They said, “We just love meeting people from JMJ because they have so much faith. Most people in France say God is dead.” Then they asked if I spoke Spanish and when I said “Sí, un poco”, they handed me a pamphlet entitled Un Libro por Todo el Mundo and I knew I’d been JW’ed [that is, approached by a member of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society -- the "Jehovah's Witnesses" – Richard Bonomo]. I finally got to St. Denis just before it closed, so I got to see Charlemagne’s tomb, only his name was spelled “Kaelomagnus” or something. Then another girl and I went on a boat ride down the Seine, which was very beautiful - it was twilight as we pulled out, and when we returned it was dark. The Japanese tourists on the boat hollered and yodeled under every bridge as if they’d never heard an echo in Japan. And these were middle aged men. Then suddenly they stampeded to one side of the boat, and when the dust cleared, they were all madly snapping photos of the Eiffel Tower. When we told a certain parish priest (who will remain nameless) about this incident, he made a remark which will not be repeated as it could be interpreted as jingoistic and perhaps rather xenophobic. Suffice it to say the remark involved God and World War II. All in all, I’d say World Youth Day was a richly spiritual experience that left us with many warm memories and neat souvenirs.

So I’m sure you can see why this was edited. Unfortunately, I cannot find the edited version for you to compare and contrast. Still, nobody else’s account got edited basically out of existence, perhaps because they weren’t as snarky. Only Ethel’s account got edited at all, and I’m afraid that may have been due to my influence, since she wrote her account the day after I wrote mine, and she thought mine was hilarious. It probably isn’t what I would have written today, but alas, I am no longer a youth who would be welcomed at World Youth Day.

Famous Hat

Monday, September 14, 2015

Discovering Windsor

I hope all my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I had a quiet Friday evening, just going to the North Side Restaurant for catfish. Saturday Tiffy came up for her birthday celebration, and I met her and her sister for lunch at a sushi restaurant. I said it was a treat for me because Travalon does not like sushi, and Tiffy’s sister said she has “sushi friends” to go out with too because her husband also does not like sushi. While Tiffy was running some errands with her sister, Travalon and I went out for another boat ride back in the marsh. In the evening, the three of us brought Rodney to Liliana’s for another Doggie Dinner, and we met Richard Bonomo there. Tiffy and I had the fundraiser four-course meal, with pumpkin curry soup, arugula salad with candied walnuts and goat cheese, ribeye steak, and a shortbread dog bone cookie with strawberries and whipped cream. Each course was paired with a wine (except dessert, which was paired with limoncello), so I got a bit tipsy. We sat out on the patio, and plenty of other people were there with dogs this time. It was a beautiful evening, but a bit cool.

Yesterday was lovely. Tiffy, Travalon, and I watched the Packers beat the Bears, then she headed home and he and I went on a long boat ride with Rodney. We had heard that the Yahara River started from Lake Windsor, so we went on a mini road trip to find the lake. Travalon had thought Windsor was a township, but it is actually a cute little town of 4000, although it has no obvious downtown. We did stumble across a pizza place as we explored, so we had dinner there. They played Frank Sinatra in the background, and we sat in a cozy corner by the window. It was such a delightful evening. There is even a little fishing pond in town that Travalon would like to try, and it's so close to us. What a fun discovery!

Famous Hat

Friday, September 11, 2015

Light Bright Among the Sock Puppets

Last night I took my former office mate Light Bright out to dinner for her birthday, then we went shopping at a maternity clothing store (she is due in November), and then we went back to her house and talked. She is fed up with her job, which I understand better than almost anyone. I started there as a coordinator for two very different programs, and it was overwhelming, so they thought I was incompetent and eventually took one program from me and gave it to her. Once I escaped from that place, they gave her the other program too… and she is finding that coordinating two very different programs is – what a shock – overwhelming, and she is making mistakes. She has asked for an assistant, so hopefully she does get some help. The good news is that the worst Sock Puppet got some kind of huge promotion (ew!) and will now only be around one day a week at the most. Light Bright doesn’t have to feel bad about hating this guy, because Toque McToque hated him, my predecessor hated him so much she called him “Pumpkinhead,” and I may have hated him the most of all. The worst part? He’s a fellow Capricorn. Ew! He is on Wife #3, so we lowly peons may not be the only ones who have trouble tolerating him. Unfortunately, Light Bright did not have any good Sock Puppet stories about him or any of the other Sock Puppets, just that they keep changing their minds about how things should be done and half the time don’t bother telling her, so she does things wrong. Sounds eerily familiar… I am so happy to be in my present job! The good news here is that Handy Woman got a big promotion, and now she is my boss. I am sure she will be a better boss than any of the Sock Puppets were.

Famous Hat

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Team Effort Catfish Dinner

Yesterday Travalon went fishing in the Fox River in Princeton, and he caught two catfish, one 18 inches long and one 22 inches long. When I got home from band practice, he was watching a video on his phone of how to fillet the fish. I said, “Let me have a crack at it,” and to my surprise it was very easy to do, considering that I have never filleted a fish before. I filleted the first one, and he filleted the second one. I was planning to bake the catfish, but Travalon had gotten Cajun Shore Lunch mix to put on the fillets before frying them, so I ended up frying the fillets while he cleaned up the fish remains and cooked the rest of our dinner (broccoli and tater tots). It was truly a team effort! And guess what? Fresh fried catfish in Cajun coating is delicious! We’ll have to do it again sometime, especially since we have half the box of Shore Lunch left. We can buy catfish fillets at our neighborhood meat market (and regularly do), but it is so much more satisfying to eat a fish you have prepared yourself. Travalon really brought home the bacon (so to speak) last night!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back to Irish Class

Yesterday was my first day of Irish class this semester, and boy am I rusty! Although I was pleasantly surprised at how much I had retained. You know how it is, you plan to keep up with your studies all summer, but there is just so much to do outside, and the last thing you want to do is sit at a computer doing grammar exercises. I keep meaning to listen to the language CDs in my car, but let’s face it, in a traffic jam it’s so much more satisfying to listen to hip hop than someone blathering in a language you don’t really understand. All this is to say that I could have kept up with my Irish studies this summer, but instead I went boating a lot. The other guy who took the class last year was sick after his Labor Day vacation, but a new guy was there who had learned most of his Irish from the same online program (Duolingo) that I meant to use, so I wasn’t alone. The rumor is that a fourth guy is going to join the class too. Anyway, the beauty of this city is that you can find almost anything here, from ukulele classes to Irish classes, and I have dabbled in a lot, but I haven’t really mastered anything, except maybe blogging. Perhaps this year I will really buckle down and try to master Irish.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

North Woods Weekend

Did all my readers have a good Labor Day weekend? Saturday Travalon and I drove north with Rodney, stopping at Rib Mountain to take a hike on the top. According to my phone, we went up the equivalent of eight flights of stairs! As we drove through downtown Minocqua, we saw two storm troopers – no lie! There was a group of people walking by a lake, and two of them were in full storm trooper costumes. We drove to Sisters Saloon, one of the taverns from Bottoms Up, and had lunch there. It was a beautiful, rustic tavern, and the proprietress was very friendly and signed our book, “Love, Cher Bear.” That was just outside of St. Germain.

Then we drove to the Black Forest Tavern in Three Lakes, which was designed by a professional baseball player (Cy Williams) who got a degree in architecture. He was asked to make it look like a Bavarian tavern, and we thought he succeeded marvelously – it was also very beautiful. We stopped in Rhinelander to admire their beautiful domed courthouse and statue of the Hodag, a mythical creature somewhat like a dragon, then we waded in Sugar Camp Lake.

We drove to Manitowish Waters and went to Little Bohemia, yet another beautiful tavern from the book. This one is most notorious for being the scene of a shoot-out between John Dillinger’s gang and the Feds, and there are supposedly still bullet holes left from that, but we didn’t see them. We sat out on their beautiful patio overlooking a lake. It was such a wonderful day that we could have stayed there forever, but we preferred not to drive in the North Woods after dark, so we hurried back to our hotel in Minocqua before the sun had totally set. (My phone will NOT let me text the word Minocqua – it kept changing it to “mini qua” and “mini cause.”) To our horror, the online booking agent Travalon had used had not actually booked our room, even though he got a confirmation number, and the hotel was full. Fortunately we did find a hotel in St. Germain that allowed pets, and it was lovely and rustic with a saltwater pool that Travalon and I played around in like big kids.

Sunday morning we went to a coffee place called the Red Canoe before Mass, then we drove west, through the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation, trying to get to another tavern from the book. We didn’t actually find it, but we did go to a restaurant Travalon had gone to years before (now under new ownership) where I had a beer-and-cheese omelet – so good! We stopped at a county park on a peninsula for a walk, and I heard a loon in the distance. As far as wildlife sightings, we saw lots of deer and wild turkeys, but you can see those in Madtown too. We went to the zoo in Marshfield and tried a Chips cheeseburger, then Travalon took me to what he claims is the dumpiest bar in the whole state, in White Creek. There was junk piled up in half the space, and you’d expect the Health Department to condemn the place, but it just keeps going. We drove through the Dells on our way home, and it was crazy busy, as I’m sure you can imagine. If I’ve forgotten anything about our trip, maybe Travalon can remind me in the comments.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to Short Stacks for brunch, then we went to my adoration hour together, and then we drove to his friends’ house so we could all go to the Randolph Corn Festival. They let you have up to three ears of corn for free, and then there is all kinds of other food for sale. There was a polka band playing that included a guy playing a garbage can bass, and I tried to take a picture, but you can’t really see it very well so I’m not going to bother posting it. Maybe I will change my mind if there is much demand for it. In the evening we stopped by Rich’s house, and we weren’t very hungry, but he made us small steaks so we did have a little dinner with him. He also made brownies – the last thing I needed! But of course I indulged anyway. We might as well celebrate (?) the end of summer, right?

Famous Hat

Monday, September 7, 2015

Photos of Northern Wisconsin

I don't have much time to blog right now, so tomorrow I'll describe my trip up north. Tonight I'll just post some photos from the trip. First are some photos from our hike on the top of Rib Mountain:

Next is a photo of the courthouse at Rhinelander with a statue of the Hodag in front of him:

Tomorrow: a description of our trip!

Famous Hat

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Boating to the Nau-Ti-Gal

Last night Travalon had an idea: why not take the boat to the Nau-Ti-Gal? Of course, it takes us five minutes to walk there and more than twice as long to go by boat, but that's not the point - the point is that we can do it. We accidentally tied up to the dock that said: "Private dock," and then we noticed another dock that said: "Restaurant parking," but we didn't bother moving, and nobody said anything. Here is a picture I took of Travalon, using his phone, that shows how festive it is on the patio at the Nau-Ti-Gal, and also his hat that says, "Warning: High Hoppage."

It was dark by the time we left, so we hooked up the lantern on the front of the boat. Then we sat on our dock, watching other boats come in. There is a huge one we always see docked, but yesterday it was out, and then we saw it return. Then we saw a Betty Lou Cruise go out at 9:30. Wow, who knew there was so much night life on the lake?

Famous Hat

Friday, September 4, 2015

MAUI: Madison Area Ukulele Initiative

Last night I went to my second East Side Club business meeting, and I got to talking to a friendly but somewhat tipsy woman who asked if I were retired. Having no sort of poker face, I said in horror, “No, I can’t retire for twenty years!” and she said something about how people are retiring younger these days, but I’m afraid she had thought I was old enough to retire. Am I looking particularly haggard lately? This is just a month after that crazy twentysomething girl thought I was the mother of a guy in his late twenties. Yeah, maybe if I’d started at fifteen…

I had to cut out of the business meeting early to go to MAUI, or Madison Area Ukulele Initiative. (I LOVE that acronym!) This was the beginners’ singalong, at a very lovely house on the East Side, and there were about fifteen other people there. Before we began, the leader asked us to each introduce ourselves and tell about something unusual that had happened to us that day. I said nothing unusual had happened to me, but I’d started the day the same way I always do, sharing a banana with my pet rabbit, and he said, “That’s a wonderful story!” Like my ukulele teacher back in Maui said, only happy, friendly people play the ukulele. I felt a bit lost when we started, but I quickly learned to fudge my way through difficult stuff, like playing a G chord instead of a G7 or only two of the four strings in a B flat chord. On one song, there were so many difficult chords that each one of us took a chord and played it, as if we were playing in a handbell choir. I lucked out and got C, a very easy chord and one that appeared quite often in the song, which was “The Rainbow Connection.” One woman had an augmented C, a chord that appeared once in the entire song! During the break, people admired my ukulele, and when I said I’d gotten it in Hawaii, they were all jealous because they all want to go there themselves. What a change in my life, from being the only person in the room who hasn’t been somewhere, to the only one who has! (True story: in a college French course, our assignment was to write about our favorite memory of France, and when I said, “What if we haven’t been there?” it turned out everyone else had, so I got a special assignment – write about what I thought France would be like. And we weren’t even twenty years old at the time!) Guess I really have led an overprivileged life to make up for that early deprivation! Anyway, the point of my blog post is to say everyone should take up the ukulele, because it is a fun little instrument, and if you mess up, it doesn’t sound that bad.

Famous Hat

Thursday, September 3, 2015

RIP Tom Zajac

Sad news in the world of early music: Tom Zajac died earlier this week. He was supposed to conduct the choir and orchestra at our early music festival this year, but he had just had his fourth surgery for brain tumors. Unfortunately, there was nothing the doctors could do for him. He was an amazing performer and a wonderful teacher, and he gave me one of the most interesting compliments I have ever gotten: “You read music upside-down better than anyone I’ve ever met!” RIP, Tom.

I forgot to mention that last Sunday at the Union Terrace, after Prairie Man had left, Travalon and I took Rodney for a short walk. We saw a bunch of people watching a guy battle with a fish, and when he finally landed the big, ugly carp, everyone cheered. Imagine having everyone watch you fish! They could watch me never get even a nibble on my line.

Yesterday evening Travalon and I took Rodney out in the boat again. We went toward the lake, but the wind was making the water very rough, so we went back into the marsh, where the water is always calmer. To our surprise, we saw a bird swimming underwater with just its head sticking out, like a periscope. A Google search leads me to believe it could possibly be an anhinga, a subtropical bird that occasionally comes this far north in the summer. It would be a rare sighting, but not entirely out of the question. If anyone has any idea what else this bird could be, feel free to leave me a comment.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ode to a Smart Phone

Travalon continues to have problems with his phone. He regularly “butt-dials” me, but this morning his phone called me five times in rapid succession, and when I answered, all I could hear was the sound of him walking. I finally didn’t accept a call, and then I got another one that went straight to voicemail. Hopefully this doesn’t mean I will never get another call from him – does anyone know? Richard Bonomo? I didn’t mean to put my own husband on the “no call” list! It seems to me this episode is deserving of a poem, and so I present an ode to a smart phone:

I’m so smart, I can call your wife
Even if you never asked me to.
I can text your pal a bunch of emojis
That with your state having nothing to do.
I like this staring one – let’s use that
Again and again and again and again.
Then I’ll set your alarm to go off
At six, even if you can sleep till ten.
Let me liven up your contacts’ names;
Why list “Famous” for your wife
When she can be “Famous Table Tennis”?
See how I can add zest to your life?
When a friend asks you where you’re at
And you send him a text in reply,
Let me change it to “In a meeting”
Just so he can wonder why.
Oh sure, I can search the internet for you
And do all kinds of handy stuff,
But a smart phone can also think for itself
If it feels your life isn’t interesting enough.

Famous Hat