Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Appreciating Italian Heritage

Just when I thought there was nothing to blog about today, here comes something from the “Totally Random” Department: I got a piece of mail sent to me by name imploring everyone at work to take some time to appreciate Italian heritage. It was a flyer with pictures of famous Italians and Italian-Americans on it, and a list of suggested movies by and/or about Italians. I certainly approve of celebrating all things Italian, but why me? Why not Handy Woman, who is a real Italophile? Why not Richard Bonomo? After all, neither my last name nor Travalon’s (I go by both) is Italian in the least. I suspect I have somehow become the contact at my workplace for sending flyers to be posted in a public space, because one was sent to me previously, but it was something more prosaic about how to submit grievances. I just hang them up in the breakroom. I don’t even know where they are coming from, because they are sent via campus mail and have no return address, so there is no way to stop them. Not that I want to, if they are going to be this random. I can’t wait to see the next one they send me. Any speculations about what topic “they” will cover next? Feel free to leave an idea in the comments section.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sailing into the Sunset

Travalon and I had the most wonderful evening. First one of our neighbors is in an all-women barbershop group, and they put on a short free concert for everyone in the neighborhood. We took our lawn chairs out by the tennis court and sat listening to the ten women singing oldies in four-part harmony. Then another neighbor and his wife took us out sailing. There wasn't much wind tonight, so it was a very relaxed sailing session. The guy let me take the rudder, and Travalon manned one of the sheets. We literally sailed into the sunset when the guy told me to steer right toward the setting sun. Meanwhile, the singing ladies went out on a pontoon boat, and we saw them coming out after us and then heading back in before us. We saw one of the Betty Lou Cruise boats and some other boats, but not as many as you would think on such a beautiful evening. The water was calm, and it was so peaceful on the quiet sailboat as opposed to our loud little Megan Jaye, with her outboard motor and something always rattling in her - we haven't figured out what yet. Of course, when the motor conks, then she is quiet too. Sailboats are my very favorite boats, but I love being in anything on the water, even our tippy canoe! The guy who owns this sailboat grew up sailing in Seattle, and he is an excellent sailor. Know who else is an excellent sailor? Richard Bonomo. Too bad he and I didn't buy that little catamaran that was for sale years ago...

Famous Hat

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cedarburg Strawberry Festival and Boating Mishaps

My wonderful vacation is over. Here is how the rest of it went:

Friday morning the Rosary Ladies gathered at Jilly Moose’s place to make lentil soup and three desserts (rhubarb bars, a grapefruit cake, and a chocolate custard cake), then we walked to a nearby tavern for lunch. In the afternoon we took a tour of the Capitol Building because someone we know is now a tour guide there. He was very funny and informative. In the evening there was a potluck at Rich’s house with all the food we had made that morning, plus various salads, Cecil Markovitch's wonderful bread and spread, and plenty of booze. I brought a bottle of Prosecco, and this might be my go-to drink from now on – it only has 68 calories per glass!

Saturday the Rosary Ladies got up early and met at the Coffee Gallerie, then we all piled into Jilly Moose’s car Chartreuse Bruce and drove to Cedarburg for their Strawberry Festival. It was very hot, and we walked a lot. Luxuli is definitely the toughest one of us because she carried a 15-pound kettle bell the whole way! Rich would probably say I should wear my ankle weights… We bought purses and jewelry, and OK Cap bought a plant. Then we headed back to town and met Travalon and Prairie Man at Banzo, a restaurant in our neighborhood that serves Mediterranean food. Everyone enjoyed it. The others were tired after our long day, but Luxuli still had plenty of energy so she and Prairie Man came to the East Side Club with Travalon and me to watch Shake the Lake, the big fireworks festival that replaced Rhythm ‘n’ Booms. There was lightning in the clouds that kept flashing right after some fireworks would go off, so Luxuli said it looked like they were having a conversation. It was pretty funny to watch, but I was glad I wasn’t in a boat watching the fireworks like so many people. What could be a worse location during a lightning storm than in a metal boat in the middle of the lake?

Yesterday Travalon and I overslept and went to our local church, then we met the usual group plus Anna Banana II and Jilly Moose for brunch. Travalon and I went to take a boat ride, and we were puzzled to see that our canoe was missing. The straps holding it down were on the dock, so we thought maybe someone had borrowed it, but then our neighbor spotted it in the marsh not far away. We debated about wading out to rescue it or trying in our boat, then we called Rich to ask his opinion, and he recommended a water rescue. We decided to take a quick boat ride into Cherokee Marsh and pick up the canoe on the way back to the dock, but our motor conked so we had to paddle for almost two hours to get back. We weren’t looking forward to rescuing the canoe at that point… but our wonderful neighbor who had first spotted it had already borrowed another canoe and rescued it for us! We have the best neighbors ever! OK Cap had the Rosary Ladies over to swim in her pool, and Travalon and Rich joined us, then we had dinner at the Nau-Ti-Gal, sitting outside, and Prairie Man joined us too. It was such a wonderful way to end the vacation for me, but the other ladies still had today off so they got to extend it a little longer. Anna Banana II heads home tomorrow – it was so good to see her! I love it when all the Rosary Ladies can get together!

Famous Hat

Friday, June 24, 2016

Unsuccessful Canoe Trip

Yesterday Jilly Moose and I went hiking at Indian Lake County Park, praying the rosary as we walked around the lake. We went to the Thirsty Moose on Lake Wisconsin for lunch and both ended up getting commemorative hoodies. I called the Crystal Lake campground to find out if they rented out paddleboats, and they do, but only to registered campers. A guy at the Thirsty Moose overheard me and said there was a place on Tipperary Road that rented out boats, so we set out to find the place, but it was closed that day. We headed back to my house, where Luxuli met us, and all three of us got into my canoe and set out for the marsh. However, we had only gone a few feet away from the dock when we tried to turn and capsized. Fortunately I had put my iPhone into a plastic sandwich bag, so it was unscathed. We sat on the dock, drying off... and that's when my neighbors started showing up for Thirsty Thursday. They offered us food and drinks and said we should have waited a few minutes for our canoeing attempt so they all could have witnessed us ending up in the water. I had so much mud on me! I went into the shower in my clothes and got most of it off before throwing them in the laundry. They all came out totally clean. In the evening a bunch of us met for dinner at Villa Dolce, sitting outside to enjoy the lovely evening. Afterwards Jilly Moose, Travalon, and I were going to take the free trolley around Middleton, but it appeared that we had missed the last one, so we will just have to ride it some other time.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 23, 2016

First Mallards Game of the Season

Yesterday Travalon and I took Rodney and went for a walk at a park not far from our place, where you can get an excellent view of a small island in Cherokee Marsh. I took pictures which I will post at some point. It was an overcast day, and thunderstorms were in the forecast, so we didn't want to take the boat or the canoe out and be stuck on the lake in a lightning storm. Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, Travalon and I went to Finding Dory, since it was kind of raining so going to a movie seemed like a perfect activity. It was a cute movie, but I liked the original, Finding Nemo, better. Afterwards Travalon and I went to the beer garden at Capital Brewery; it was drizzling, but we sat under the tent and enjoyed a pear kolsch and a ginger beer. In the evening Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Travalon, and I went to a Mallards game. It was a great game with a home run and a bunt that worked - the guy got on base with it. There was also a lot of great defensive playing. The Mallards won 4-2. Yay! It was drizzling just before the game began, so Travalon and I were wearing the rain ponchos the Dairyman's Daughter had lent me for American Players Theater, but it cleared up by game time and was a beautiful evening. Now it really feels like summer, because I've been to a baseball game.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mirror Lake and Lake Geneva

Sorry for my silence lately - I have been very busy. Friday evening Tiffy and I joined Rich, the Dairyman's Daughter, and some others at American Players Theater to watch An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde. Tiffy and I got there a little early, so we went to the Nature Conservancy land covered by cacti and saw they are about to bloom. Anyone want to go out there this week and see them? The play was very funny.

Saturday Travalon and I met a bunch of people for coffee, including Anna Banana II, who is back in town. We saw a bunch of people riding their bikes in the nude up and down State Street, then Anna Banana II, OK Cap, Travalon, and I went to Pasqual's on East Washington for lunch, and we saw the nude bikers go by again. There's no escaping them! I had a gig at a Norwegian picnic in a beautiful location, with water on two sides. They built a May pole, and we played as they danced around it. Then Tiffy and I went back to American Players Theater to see Death of a Salesman, since it had been rained out the week before. The play was very depressing, and Tiffy and I both wondered why anyone would bother writing something so depressing. What's the point?

Sunday Travalon and I went to Mirror Lake State Park in the Dells, where we went hiking with Rodney. There are a lot of very beautiful trails there, and there is also the Ishnala Supper Club, which for some reason blasts standards in their parking lot so that you can hear Frank Sinatra from half the park. Now I like Ol' Blue Eyes as well as anyone, but it still seems weird to hear him when you are out hiking in nature. Travalon and I went to a place called the Thirsty Moose for dinner, where we sat out by the lake and waited for an hour for our food. They gave us tokens for free beer because we had to wait so long.

Yesterday the Rosary Ladies piled into Chartreuse Bruce, and we drove to Lake Geneva and walked along the lakeshore path, admiring the large houses. We had lunch at a place called Egg Harbor which seems to have no connection to the town in Door County; it simply serves dishes made with eggs. When we got back to town, we went to dinner at the Nau-Ti-Gal, and Travalon and Prairie Man joined us. Then we all watched the sun set from our dock, and so the longest day of the year ended.

Today Travalon and I went for a boat ride before my gig for Make Music Madison. We played to a small but very generous audience and made over $10 apiece in tips. In the evening Anna Banana II had some of us out to her cottage on Lake Ripley, and Rodney was a big hit with the little kids that were out there. It has been a wonderful, relaxing staycation so far - and Spellcheck recognizes the word "staycation," which is kind of blowing my mind. I guess that means it's time to get to bed.

Famous Hat

Friday, June 17, 2016

Reggae Concert on Monona Terrace

Sorry that I did not get around to posting photos from Ma and Pa Hat’s visit yesterday. I was on the town with Travalon. First I should mention our wonderful boat ride on Wednesday evening. We went out into the lake, and the setting sun illuminated the downtown so that it looked like The Promised Land in the distance, or the proverbial City on a Hill, or (as Travalon said) the Emerald City, except that it was golden instead of green. We commented on how beautiful and enticing it looked, although I noted the downtown is not The Promised Land during Rush Hour on weekday mornings. I tried to take a photo of this lovely vision, but it didn’t really turn out. I may post it anyway… we’ll see.

Yesterday evening the golden promise of the evening before did seem fulfilled by downtown Madtown as Travalon and I went to the rooftop of the Monona Terrace to have dinner at their cafĂ© and listen to a reggae band called Natty Nation. We danced to them after dinner, and when we sat down, as soon as Travalon went to get a drink, the guy next to me said we looked really good out there. Then his wife came back from the restroom, and she seemed annoyed and said they had to leave “right now!” Oops – I didn’t mean to cause marital friction, but maybe this guy has a long history of telling other women how good they look the moment his wife leaves the scene briefly. There were tons of people at this concert, including a guy with a T-shirt in the “Walt Disney” font, only it said, “Malt Whiskey.” Travalon and I thought that was pretty funny. The concert was free, and the band was wonderful – I love that reggae backbeat! Then Travalon and I went to the Cardinal Bar, and I had a “skinny mojito,” which has a lot less sugar in it, so you can really taste the mint and lime. I liked it a lot, but I’m not a big one for overly sweet things. There was a dance class there, learning bachata, which I think is a beautiful dance to watch, but I find the music very boring. It is my least favorite type of Latin music. It was such a wonderful evening, and the second one in a row, that I just glowed with happiness as I lay in bed last night. I love summer!

My blogging may be somewhat sporadic for the next week. Tiffy and I are going to American Players Theater tonight and tomorrow, I have gigs tomorrow and next Tuesday, and Anna Banana II is in town, so I will be hanging out with her and the other Rosary Ladies next week instead of going to work. Paid vacation time is wonderful!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Photos from Our Trip to Sabula

As promised, here are some photos from our trip to Sabula. First is a photo of Travalon and Rodney at the overlook in Mississippi Palisades State Park in Illinois.

This is the front window of Bombfire Pizza in Sabula, Iowa.

Here is a chair in Poopy's Pub and Grub, Savannah, Illinois. Notice how the seat looks like a toilet seat. It is actually very comfortable.

This is a very brief movie of the 80's metal cover band that was playing at Poopy's.

You can tell this is a tough bar - even the purse hook in the ladies' bathroom is a drunk octopus that wants to fight you! (Now you can't unsee it.)

Here is a shot of the inside of Poopy's, complete with a Harley Davidson over the bar.

This is a shot of Travalon, Rodney, and me at Bellevue State Park, Iowa.

This steamboat is the prettiest one I ever saw. It stopped in Bellevue.

This is a shot of St. Donatus, Iowa, showing the church and the little chapel up on the hill. I took this shot from another church, a Lutheran church also on a hill. See below.

This grotto is in North Buena Vista, Iowa.

As you can see, Travalon and I had our own private ferry ride over to Cassville.

This is a picture of the ferry.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures. Hopefully tomorrow I will post photos from Ma and Pa Hat's visit.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rained Out at American Players Theater

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had a slightly disappointing Friday evening. Tiffy came to town, and she and I had some dinner at Brasserie V, then we drove to American Players Theater and met the Dairyman’s Daughter there. The three of us settled in to watch Death of a Salesman, but about half an hour into the play a big wind blew up, and then they interrupted it to tell us to take shelter. We had all just gotten under the shelter when the rain came down in sheets, and worse, there was tons of lightning. We waited half an hour more to find out if they would restart the play, but eventually they concluded the bad weather was not going to move on, so they canceled it. Most of the people left, but some of us were too scared (including the three of us) to brave the lightning, so eventually they collected us scragglers and put us on the shuttle that goes up and down the hill for people who have trouble walking. I had never been on it before, but it was kind of a fun party atmosphere. We still had to dodge the lightning to get across the parking lot. Finally Tiffy and I were safely in my car Noelle, heading back to Madison, when Rich contacted us to ask if we wanted to come over. We stayed way too late talking to him.

Saturday Travalon and I met Tiffy and Rich at the Original Pancake House in Monona for brunch, and I may never go there again because that one meal just about used up my calories for the day. Fortunately you do earn calories back for doing exercise, and I have to get in 10,000 steps a day anyway, so I did earn enough back for dinner. Travalon and I went for a hike at the Mackenzie Nature Center, then we went to Pardeeville and explored their lake. There was a classic car festival going on at the park there, and a band played what I would call “mountain music,” only instead of traditional Appalachian tunes, they were doing hip hop and heavy metal songs in that style. It was very entertaining to try to figure out what song they were doing. In the evening we met the Slow Food group for dinner at Field Table, a restaurant up on the Square that uses organic, locally sourced ingredients, and it was wonderful. Then Travalon and I walked all over the Square, stopping at the Argus Bar for a sour beer, and then down to the Union Terrace. We ran into Pete the Sailor Man and talked to him and his equally entertaining friend for a while. It had been Pirate Day for the sailing club, so the shelter was decorated with little Jolly Rogers. We walked up Langdon Street and stopped by the redone Edgewater Hotel to check out their patio overlooking the lake. Travalon said it reminded him of something in a much bigger city. I was nostalgic from seeing all those sights from my college days.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to Horicon Marsh to hike, but we hadn’t realized the boardwalk is down for the season. We hiked on a trail that goes through a field and some woods, which isn’t much different than what you can do in town at, say, the Arboretum. We did see lots of butterflies and goldfinches there. Then we drove to Fox Lake and took a pleasant drive around it, ending up at a restaurant called the Boat House where we sat outside by the lake and had shrimp pizza. Yum! We had to get back to Madtown relatively early because I had band practice – we have a couple of gigs coming up. If anyone is free from noon-one on Tuesday the 21st (the Solstice), we will be playing in front of Hotel Red. I will be taking that whole week off of work because Anna Banana II is coming to town, but that day she is busy so I am free to play with my band. It hardly seems worth going to work for just one day, anyway.

Famous Hat

Friday, June 10, 2016

Why I Still Haven't Posted Photos

Sorry that I still haven’t posted photos of my Memorial Day weekend trip. Wednesday evening I went to the last choir practice of the season and then hung out with many of my fellow choir members at the Essen Haus. They have been going there on Wednesdays for eons because of something called “Stein Club,” and also the accordion player who is always there that night. Every week he plays the theme to the Pink Panther, and he does it differently every time.

Yesterday evening I was also busy and never got around to posting photos. Travalon texted me that he was hanging out with our neighbors on the dock for “Thirsty Thursday,” so I joined them there. They had brought liquid refreshment and lots of food, and we were there for a long time talking, eating, and enjoying the beautiful weather. We even saw our neighbor the crane; one of our neighbors said, “Didn’t there used to be a pair of them? This year I’ve only seen the one,” and we speculated that the other one is busy sitting on a nest. Travalon had gotten some dinner to make after that, but it was late and we were pretty full, so we threw the food in the freezer and went to the Nau-Ti-Gal for something small. (I just had the side of mixed veggies.) We sat on their patio and listened to a rock band until a storm blew up and the band packed up. Then I wrote in my diary Mariah, so I never got around to posting photos on this blog. You may be wondering (as some people have) why I still need Mariah when I have this blog, but there are things I can tell her that I would NEVER post on here, and also if civilization ends tomorrow, I would still have my memories preserved in her pages. That is why I make writing to her once a week a priority. There have been times I wasn’t as reliable; back in 2010 I went the whole summer without writing to her and was about ready to give up on keeping a diary, but then I had a marathon writing session and got down what I could remember, with some help from this blog. Anyway, that may be more than you ever wanted to know about Mariah, but Travalon can tell you that for the last few years I have written in her reliably once a week. Why is he so aware of this? Because I always want to sit in his chair to write in her, since that is where the best lighting is.

Today my coworkers and I went out to coffee to celebrate the work anniversaries of my super thoughtful coworker and me (three years today for me, and two for her yesterday), and Handy Woman bought me a smoothie to mark the occasion. I already had my coffee this morning, and a tropical smoothie just sounded really good on such a hot day. It was a fun break from the work day on a busy Friday.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cocktail Plan

Sorry that I didn’t blog yesterday – I was going to post some pictures but never got around to it. Monday evening Travalon and I took Rodney for a walk along the Yahara, seeing lots of what Prairie Man tells us is wild indigo. The river was really beautiful in the waning light. Then we went to the Nau-Ti-Gal because Travalon wants to try all their cocktails, and he has a plan: one cocktail each Monday night. There are exactly as many on the menu as there are Mondays left in the summer. We sat on their back patio with Rodney, but it was loud because apparently there was a private party going on, with a keg, and they were playing rap music that was even too hardcore for me. Or maybe it just wasn’t good hardcore rap; I don’t like Tupac Shakur because of all his swearing, but in spite of it because he’s got such mad rhyming skills.

Last night Travalon and I went to Liliana’s for their special menu: the theme was strawberries this week. Actually, Travalon got the catfish, which is his favorite thing on the menu. I made the mistake of getting the matching flight of wine too, which was way more wine than I needed. The first course was a pecan and strawberry salad with a pinot grigio. The second course was tilapia with grilled asparagus, herb mashed potatoes, and strawberry chutney, paired with a merlot. The dessert (which I split with Travalon, since I was stuffed by then) was grilled pound cake with whipped cream and strawberries, paired with a brut champagne. Good thing Travalon was driving, because I was pretty tipsy after that, even though the waiter had assured me that the wine servings were very small, not standard size. Anyway, everything was really good.

Today as I was taking my usual rosary walk at lunchtime, I went a different route and felt weirdly unwelcome. It started with a chained-up dog who barked ferociously at me as I passed by, then a squirrel practically ran into me, and then when I passed some bushes, several birds chirped loudly and then flew out at me. It was the strangest thing – I don’t usually disturb animals with my mere presence. Why today?  

Famous Hat

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ma and Pa Hat's Visit

Sorry for my silence these last few days, but I was very busy entertaining Ma and Pa Hat. They arrived on Thursday, and we were going to go to Chez Nanou for dinner, but I didn’t realize they are not open for dinners on Thursdays, so we ended up eating outside at the Essen Haus. I couldn’t complain, since I love eating outside, and you can only do it for about four months around here.

Friday morning I had breakfast at Ma and Pa Hat’s hotel with them, then we went for a walk behind Edgewood College and visited the zoo. Ma Hat and I took Rodney on a walk, and he LOVED her. He was snuggling up against her the way he does to me, but I’ve never seen him do it to another guest. Then we all went to Olbrich Garden for a lovely stroll through the Rose Garden and out to the Thai Pavilion. We were planning to go across the street to the fish fry at the East Side Club, but they had canceled it due to a scheduling snafu, so I called Rich in a panic. He went to Paisan’s and reserved an outside table for us there, overlooking Lake Monona. Travalon joined us after he got done with work. It was a gorgeous evening, and afterwards we went to Rich’s house and talked to Antoshka, who is very interested in renewable energy initiatives in Minnesota. That is a subject I know nothing about.

Saturday morning Travalon, my parents, and I got to the meeting point for the Betty Lou Cruise on Lake Monona way ahead of time, so we went up to the Monona Terrace rooftop garden to enjoy the view up there. The weather forecast had been for storms, but that morning they revised it to say no rain was expected until the evening, and indeed the weather was perfect as we toured Lake Monona. In the evening Travalon went to a rock concert in the Dells (Blue Oyster Cult and April Wine) while my parents and I went to American Players Theater with Rich and the Dairyman’s Daughter and various other people. There was a big potluck beforehand, then we watched A Comedy of Errors, which was hilarious. It did rain on us, so the play was delayed by half an hour, but fortunately the Dairyman’s Daughter always brings enough rain ponchos for everyone, so we stayed dry. It was a late night, but a good one.

Yesterday Travalon and I met Ma and Pa Hat for lunch at the Free House, again eating outside. That’s what I love about summer! Then my parents hit the road, and Travalon and I went for yet another hike on the trails behind the historical marker near Sauk. This time we went up a hill that was (according to my phone) the equivalent of twelve flights of stairs, then we checked out a scenic overlook. There were quite a few horseback riders on the trails that afternoon. We had dinner at a place in Sauk that I believe was called Woodshed Alehouse, where they brew their own beer. I had the nut brown ale and Travalon had the golden ale. The only thing they serve there is pizza, but it is very tasty pizza. Luckily after our vigorous uphill hike, I had the calories to spare for pizza and beer. We even tried these new coffee-flavored M&M’s, which are every bit as good as they sound. So that was my very busy but fun weekend.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Short Note

Sorry for my silence yesterday - I thought I would get time to put pictures from this weekend on here, but I had a terrible day at work (not due to any person but computer issues) and just wanted to go for a boat ride afterwards. Plus it was a lovely evening, so you can see why the last thing I wanted to do was sit inside in front of a computer, when computers had let me down so badly. But a little thing brings me down, and a little thing lifts me up, so today I was positively giddy when the issue was resolved. My blogging may be sporadic for the next few days because Ma and Pa Hat will be in town, so I will be with them instead of sitting in front of a computer, blogging. I promise that the pictures from this weekend will be on this blog soon.

Famous Hat