Friday, April 29, 2016

Famous Hat Update

Sorry for my silence the last few days. I have been very busy in the evenings. Tuesday a friend had a funeral for twins she had miscarried, then Travalon and I met for a romantic dinner at Liliana’s, since the menu theme was Pretzel Day. By the time we got home, I was too tired to blog. Wednesday Travalon and I went to a biopic on Miles Davis called Miles Ahead, then we went to World of Beers so I could try a Belgian cherry beer he had tried the other day, and then I skipped choir practice (I know – naughty!) so we could go to Villa Dolce for pizza and gelato. Oddly, I have been able to eat ice cream several times recently, because my calorie count was so low for the day. And yes, I am still losing weight – I am now down about twenty pounds. Does the program know something I don’t know, like that I am burning calories faster now that I’m in better shape? Anyway, after that I was too tired to blog. Yesterday Travalon and I went to the health club to swim and do weights, and afterwards I was too tired to blog. I will put pictures up of our road trips soon, I promise. The other news in my life is that Boxy my work pet has moved on – I haven’t seen it at all this week. Ah well, such is life.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 25, 2016

Up on the Bluffs at Devil's Lake

I hope my readers got to get outside and enjoy the lovely weather this weekend. Travalon and I started the weekend by going to Rex’s Inkeeper up in Waunakee for their fish fry, which was delicious, plus we had the most attentive waitress I’ve ever had. Afterwards we went across the street to a wine bar called Brix 340 or something like that, and we felt a little underdressed, but the bartender was very friendly and helped us pair our wine with chocolates. Yum! We will definitely be back, but probably a little more dressed up.

Saturday OK Cap and I drove downtown to meet Rich and Jilly Moose for coffee, then we Rosary Ladies went to my church to pray the rosary in the library. After that I took Rodney for a long walk to enjoy the gorgeous weather, and then Tiffy arrived around the same time that Travalon got back from work. The three of us went to the Keg in Martinsville and sat out on their deck, enjoying an adult beverage, then Tiffy and I had dinner at Banzo, which serves wonderful Mediterranean food. I love how it fills you up but isn’t very many calories – no wonder they say the Mediterranean diet is so healthy! Then we went to a Baroque concert at Gates of Heaven, where parking was at a real premium because so many people were at the park to enjoy the warm weather. Someone was just leaving as we came in, so Tiffy said it must be my “clean living” that makes me so lucky.

Sunday was another beautiful day. Travalon and I were curious about the Fair Oaks Diner, so we went there for brunch after Mass, and then we took advantage of the lovely weather by going for a hike at Devil’s Lake. Travalon had never been up on the bluffs before, but this time he did climb them, carrying Rodney, and he was amazed by the view. According to my phone, we walked six miles and up the equivalent of 26 flights of stairs, so we definitely got some exercise! Afterwards I had a lot of calories left for the day, so we went to a restaurant in Okee called Fitz’s on the Lake for French-fried lobster, and we even stopped at Culver’s for frozen custard – that’s how many calories I had to spare after that hike! If we went up the bluffs every day, we would never have to watch what we eat! And I even had quite a few calories to spare after all that, but I didn’t use them all up. Lately I seem to have a lot of extra calories at the end of the day, so maybe I am eating more wisely or exercising more, but I am not losing weight at the moment. I’ve been stuck at the same weight for three weeks now. Sigh…

Famous Hat

Friday, April 22, 2016

My Work Pet "Boxy"

Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. Wednesday we had Irish class because our teacher was busy on Tuesday, and after that I had choir practice, so there wasn’t time for blogging. Yesterday after work I took a walk on the boardwalk behind Edgewood College, on the shores of Lake Wingra, and then I went to a presentation Antoshka gave on the situation in Ukraine. It was very enlightening, although the main video did not have subtitles, so it was more of a visual and then Antoshka gave us the background on what was going on. Travalon met me there, and plenty of other people were there too, including Jilly Moose, Cecil Markovitch, Mr. N’Awlins, the Dairyman’s Daughter, and of course Rich, since it was at his house. That ran so long that Travalon and I had to leave long before it was over, so of course I never got a chance to blog.

And what would I have blogged about if I’d had the chance? I am going to put pictures of our road trips up at some point, but the big “news” in my life is I have a sort of work pet. OK, not really, but there is a bug that has been hanging around my office all week. It is a big, friendly, pretty, harmless-looking bug and seemed very familiar, so I googled “black and red bug” and found it is a box elder bug. It was crawling across my computer screen as I found an image of it, and it saw the image and stopped and kind of reared up a little, as if it were thinking, “That’s the biggest bug I’ve ever seen!” The image was twice the size of “Boxy.” So Boxy seemed really tense until I left that screen and went back to data entry, and then it relaxed and walked the rest of the way across my screen and along the top of my monitor. I feel like I should be a good hostess and offer it something to eat, but according to Wikipedia they eat the seeds of maple trees, and I am fresh out of those. We’ll see how long Boxy hangs around my maple seed-free office…

The other big news is that Prince died at the relatively young age of 57 yesterday. It was all anyone could talk about. He was such a big deal when I was growing up in Minnesota, where people I knew had actually met him. It seemed so cool to have a rock star just an hour away, and not way off in California or New York. And I loved his music. He was wild in his younger days but had long since become a Jehovah’s Witness and lived a quiet life, so he was the last celebrity anyone expected to die young. However, it sounds as if he were sick, but like David Bowie he didn’t tell anyone. Goodbye, sweet Prince. I hope you’re partying up in heaven like it’s 1999! There is a photo online of a rainbow over his complex, Paisley Park, so maybe he is smiling down on us stuck in 2016.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Roadtrips East and West

Sorry for the silence yesterday. I was at an offsite conference all day and was too tired to blog last night. It was a good conference with interesting classes about interpersonal communication, and I can use all the help I can get with that topic! We did a lot of small-group interactive stuff, so it was a fun way to spend the day, plus they fed us very well. In the evening Travalon and I sat out on our dock to enjoy the beautiful evening, and I meant to blog at some point but was just too wiped out.

Travalon and I went on two road trips this weekend. On the first one on Saturday we went east, to High Cliff State Park overlooking Lake Winnebago. It was a gorgeous day, more like July than April, and the place was packed. After a hike on the cliff there, we went to Calumet County Park and then had a late lunch at Mud Creek Coffee in Stockbridge. We drove through Chilton, and the abandoned church there is now an antiques store so it isn’t neglected anymore. We stopped by another closed church, this one being used as a museum, and a woman there told us about how bitter people are that the diocese closed all these churches and makes them go to a big, modern church. This topic deserves its own blog post at some point, but suffice it to say that people are NOT going to the big, new church so it is suffering financially. Our main destination was Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, an Eastern Rite Catholic monastery where ten monks live. Our own parish went on a pilgrimage there in February, but we couldn’t go, so Travalon promised we could go on our own sometime. The monks weren’t expecting us, but one graciously took us on a tour. Now I really want to make a retreat there. In the same town is the old school complex where the state’s high scorer in basketball went, so we checked that out as well. Now the only part in use is the old gymnasium, which is currently a thrift store. The high school, church, and various other buildings are shuttered. Our next stop was the Black Dog Bistro in Rhine Center, another tavern from the book. A sign (which I took a picture of) claims it is “the friendliest place in town,” which is no doubt true as it appears to be the ONLY place in town. It was a beautiful old building, and the people were indeed friendly. After that we went to Kohler-Andrae State Park outside of Sheboygan and took Rodney on a long walk along the beach until we reached the end of the area where dogs are allowed, then we went up on the cordwalk along the sand dunes. I took lots of photos, which I will post soon. Our last stop was Port Washington, where we went to a park overlooking the town and harbor and then ate a late dinner at a restaurant on the water.

Sunday we headed southwest to one of the few state parks Travalon had never visited, Yellowstone Lake. We took a winding, hilly road through the Driftless Area to the charming town of Blanchardville, then we continued on to the park, which is not only gorgeous but was not at all crowded on such a perfect day. We visited the dam and hiked up in the hills and took Rodney down to the dog beach. On the way back home we stopped in New Glarus, always a fun place, for an early dinner, and then we stopped in Paoli. It had been crazy there earlier because it was the first birthday of the Hop Garden; there were still some people around when we got there, and the ice cream shop had sold out of everything but a couple scoops of ice cream, which we then bought from them. Then we sat out behind the Hop Garden and had some kombucha, which is apparently brewed on Park Street, since the Hop Garden’s beer is more potent than what we were in the mood for that evening. Now they sell hops-scented air fresheners there, if any of my readers would like their car or house to smell like fresh-brewed beer. We did not purchase one ourselves, but Travalon was wearing the hat he had gotten there, which says: “Warning: high hoppage.” Of course, he wears it every day. It is one cool hat. After we got home, we sat out on the dock to enjoy the perfect weather just a little longer. Good thing we did – today is cold and rainy. Of course, this is a little more seasonal for mid-April.

Famous Hat

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tired Old Eyes

Sorry that I haven’t had much to say the last couple of days. As the weather has gotten nicer, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer. The last two days I have even gotten a walk in at work, besides my regular lunchtime walk on Thursday when I had to run an errand about a half mile away. Who wants to drive there when it is so lovely out? Today I didn’t get my usual walk in at lunchtime, because a bunch of us went to an Indian buffet, but we did walk back from it. (One of my coworkers, who was leaving right after lunch, drove us down.) Right now I have about half my steps in for the day, so soon I will be going for another walk outside.

Another reason I probably haven’t been writing as much is that it seems like I am getting presbyopia – I’m getting to be that age, and things look blurry when I try to read, but not at a distance. Sigh… I had a good decade without needing any corrective lenses, having been terribly nearsighted before my LASIK surgery, but all good things must come to an end. After a long day of looking at tiny little print, the last thing I want to do is look at more little print on a computer screen. And I clearly have nothing to say today, if this is all I can come up with. What surprised me is how quickly it seemed to hit – two weeks ago I didn’t notice anything, and then BAM everything was blurry. Unless it is something more serious, but trust me, you do not want to do a Google search on the causes of blurry vision, or you will really think you are dying. I am pretty sure I’m not dying, just getting older. The weird thing is I just had an eye checkup about a month ago, and this wasn’t a problem then. Will they think I’m crazy if I ask for another one?

Famous Hat

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Photos of Our Road Trip to Black River Falls

As promised, here are photos from our road trip on Saturday. First is the inside of St. Joseph's in Black River Falls, where we thought we might attend 5:00 Mass except that they had it at 4:00.

Next are some photos from Mill Bluff State Park. First is a view of the bluffs all in a row, which is more impressive in real life than it looks in this photo. Next is one of the bluffs and then a couple of shots of the sunset.

This is the interior of St. James in Camp Douglas, as well as a shot of the exterior.

Finally, here is a picture of a bouquet at my own church on Sunday morning. It seemed to be looking at me all through Mass, so I had to take a picture of it afterwards.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 11, 2016

Road Trip to One Tavern, Two Churches, and Three State Parks

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine started very auspiciously, when I met Cecil Markovitch, Mr. N’Awlins, and a friend of his at a Madison Bach Musicians performance of Handel’s Messiah. There were only two people on a part, except for the “Hallelujah Chorus” and “Worthy Is the Lamb,” when the Madison Boys Choir joined them. There were countertenors instead of altos, and all the players performed on period-style instruments, at A 415 instead of A 440. It was the best performance I ever heard – I even enjoyed the solos! – and afterwards all we could do was cry and clap for like ten minutes. I thought it was interesting that the performers were mostly young and were black, white, and Asian, but the audience for the most part was older and white. Why is there not more diversity in the audience? Music this wonderful should be everyone’s cultural heritage. You don’t have to be a big German guy (like Handel) to appreciate it.

Saturday Travalon and I took Rodney and went on another road trip to visit a pub from the book. (Yes, we’re still doing that pilgrimage.) It was a chilly day, but very sunny and not too windy. We started with a visit to Mirror Lake, a beautiful state park, where we took a hike down to the beach. We followed Highway 12 and saw a sign near Mauston for another state park, Buckhorn, so we went to check that one out too. We crossed a gorgeous causeway to get there, and the park itself is on the shores of Castle Rock Lake. (We never did see Castle Rock, whatever that might be.) We stumbled across a Marian shrine by Necedah and stopped by, since I completely forgot that shrine is condemned by the Church. We even bought a rosary there – oops! Didn’t mean to support them. They don’t seem to be doing all that well financially, since they are trying to build a church there and it has been under construction for many years. They can’t even afford decent bathrooms there. Apparently a woman named Marian Van Hoof claimed she saw an apparition of the Blessed Virgin there, and the Church determined that it was not true, but she wouldn’t desist from her claims. We only saw a couple of other people there, and they were very old. I wonder what will happen to the shrine when this generation of supporters dies? The false visionary has been dead since the mid-80’s.

Then we followed Highways 80 and 54 through state forests to Black River Falls and went to Sand Creek Brewery, which we had stopped by last summer on a Sunday, when it was closed. On Saturdays it is open, and it was quite lively, with lots of people drinking the beer and hard lemonade that is brewed there. We stopped by their lovely church, St. Joseph’s, thinking we could catch a 5:00 Mass, but their Mass had been at 4:00 so everyone was just leaving. We went in and prayed briefly and then got back on Highway 12. Our next destination was Mill Bluff State Park, where we hiked on the Camel Bluff trail. We continued to follow Highway 12 and explored the little town of Camp Douglas, under the shadow of the bluffs in that area. They also have a cute little church, St. James, and Mass had just finished when we got there so we got to go into that one too. I will post pictures, probably tomorrow. Just when I was thinking what a charming little town it was, we passed behind a tavern and saw a guy relieving himself in the parking lot, and then I remembered why I could never live in a small town. We had a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Mauston called Cinco de Mayo, which I highly recommend if you happen to find yourself in the area. Travalon’s enchiladas del mar were particularly delicious.

Yesterday was dreary and rainy, and we did not have nearly as exciting a day. We went to brunch with the choir, and it was a huge group this time – eleven people! We also went to a “game night” (more like game afternoon this time), and in the evening my band had practice. Hardingfele had brought some minor-key Russian folk songs that we worked on, so that was a welcome change from our overabundance of major-key Scandinavian music. We have some gigs coming up this summer, but I may not be able to make any of them. Ah well, c’est la vie.

Famous Hat

Friday, April 8, 2016

Unexpected Carillon Concert

Today is shaping up to be a very musical day for me. Cecil Markovitch and I are going to hear Handel’s Messiah tonight, which was always on the docket, but this afternoon I got to hear some unexpected music. I was invited to attend a meeting on campus, and from the building we were sitting in, we could hear the sweet tones of the campus carillon. I love the carillon, which is not only very aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, being a sort of Gothic-style bell tower, but also sounds wonderful. It played for a good quarter hour at least, and I couldn’t make out any of the particular tunes, but it was such a delightful sound. Afterwards I asked the other attendees at the meeting if the carillon always plays during the monthly meetings, and they hadn’t even noticed it. Maybe that is part of my distractibility this week – I can’t focus on the meeting any more than on the distant music of a bell tower. And, believe it or not, it was a very interesting meeting, discussing upcoming books that will be published. I wanted to read them all after hearing about them, but honestly, it has been a few years since I sat and read a book from start to finish. Yet another thing I cannot focus long enough to do!

Famous Hat

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I Can't Concentrate

Sorry for my silence the last few days. I have been really scattered and can’t seem to concentrate. At work I keep changing which Pandora station I’m listening to – one day it took me four tries to settle on one. When I mentioned this to a coworker, she said I should post about it, so, lacking any better ideas, I am. Perhaps the question to be explored here is: why? What is going on? Here are some possibilities:

Stress: This one seems unlikely, since I don’t feel particularly stressed. There is a bit going on at work this week, and I’ve had to be in more meetings than usual. Maybe that affects my focus.

Spring Fever: This seems like a real possibility, if only the weather would cooperate. In fact, it’s been cold and snowy lately. Which leads me to the next possibility…

Winter Blues: Maybe I am tuning out because I just can’t handle any more of this cold, snowy weather. It’s April, for goodness sake! Shouldn’t it be a little warm and sunny by now?

ADD: While I do have an official diagnosis of ADHD, for whatever that’s worth, I have mostly grown out of it. This lack of focus has only been a problem this past week, so blaming it on ADD seems ridiculous. Otherwise, I should never be able to focus and therefore wouldn’t even notice a problem with it lately.

Lack of Sleep: This could very well be the culprit, although I am no worse than usual in that regard and have maybe even been a little better. Could it be left over from last week? I couldn’t sleep in on Saturday due to my gig, so maybe I never caught up on sleep. Darn you, Colbert, for being so funny! I always have to tune in to see how he is going to mock Trump every night.

That's all I have the concentration to say on this matter for the moment.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 4, 2016

Small Latte for Tvista

Did my readers have a good weekend? Friday evening I went to the East Side Club fish fry with some coworkers and their friends and lovers, and Travalon joined us after work. It is such a beautiful venue, and we watched the sun set over downtown, and then the lights came up. We saw a very strange boat out on the lake – it looked homemade.

Saturday morning we woke up to a reprise of winter. Travalon drove me to our band gig at the McKenzie Center Pancake Breakfast, and there would be whiteout conditions for a minute or two, then things would clear up and the sun would come back out. It was just as strange coming home. Tiffy came up, and she and I went to a cafĂ©, where for some reason one barista rendered her name as “Tvista,” so the other barista who had to call out her name had no idea how to pronounce it. I said it’s too bad she already has a name on this blog, because Tvista is a heck of an appellation. We met some other people for dinner at a restaurant called Tavernakaya; you would think from the name that it is a Greek place, but in fact it is a very good Japanese restaurant. Travalon, meanwhile, was watching the Final Four in basketball.

Yesterday was an incredibly beautiful day, especially after the snow flurries, so Tiffy, Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and I took Rodney to the Token Creek Dog Park (the path is in the pattern of a dog bone), and then we walked on the boardwalk along the Yahara River in Windsor. Travalon went to see Batman vs. Superman, which has been getting horrible reviews, but he liked it. I went to Rich’s house because Catzookz cooked us a vegetarian feast. Kathbert, Antoshka, Jilly Moose, and OK Cap were among the guests. I was wearing my Rib Mountain hoodie from our walk earlier, but Rich had set the table with the good china and silver, and a tablecloth, so I felt very underdressed. Travalon joined us after the movie. I ate so much that, for the first time since I’ve started this fitness app, I didn’t burn off all my calories. Too bad I couldn’t use all my spare calories from earlier in the week, when I’d been way under a couple of days.

Here is something kind of exciting: Rich and I were interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor today! Lute Player knows one of the political correspondents there, who wanted to talk to “thinking” Republicans in Wisconsin before our primary. I am not actually a Republican but an independent, and now I have been outed as a moderate to all my friends and acquaintances, who are either way far left or way far right. Yes, that’s right – I’m voting for Kasich tomorrow. There – I’ve said it. Let the chips fall where they may.

Famous Hat

Friday, April 1, 2016

Restringing the Mandolin

Yesterday Travalon and I went to the health club, and he swam while I walked on the track to get in my 10,000 steps for the day. I’d been planning to walk to Baroque music but hadn’t realized there would be a class going on in the gym the track circles, so I could barely hear Bach and Vivaldi over the loud music they were dancing to. Maybe I should have just joined the class – it looked like fun – but it was already going by the time we got there, and I felt weird to join partway through. Maybe I should have, and worked up a sweat, instead of just sedately walking along to violin and harpsichord concerti. They were kind of doing hip hop dance moves, although I didn’t recognize most of the music they were dancing to. Afterwards I asked the teacher about joining, and she said I should. I said, “I dance like a middle-aged white woman,” and she said skill level doesn’t matter, it's all about moving. So maybe sometime I will try this class.

After we got home, I had another adventure. My sweet husband had bought new mandolin strings for me at the music store, and he even bought a new E string for my violin. (They didn’t have gut strings there, so I told him get a cheap one and I will replace it during Early Music Festival.) Then I had to restring Mandy, which I should really do more often, before her strings are so dead-sounding. We don’t have wire cutters around the house, so I used scissors to cut the excess string – probably not so good for the scissors, and I really had to battle with the G strings, since they are so thick. I also had to retune the strings over and over and over and over, because of course new strings keep slipping out of tune, so Travalon (who was trying to watch TV) kept looking over in annoyance. Anyway, I got Mandy all restrung, and now the strings have a day to settle before our band has a gig tomorrow morning. Fortunately it’s the loudest gig we play at, the pancake breakfast, so if I’m out of tune it’s highly unlikely anyone will notice.

Famous Hat