Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Party and Best Boat Ride Yet

I hope my readers had a good Halloween weekend and got out to enjoy the beautiful weather on Saturday. Friday right after work I went to the Boys and Girls Club with my band, where we played for a community meal and then got to partake in it. After I got home, Travalon and I changed into Hawaiian shirts, and I brought my ukulele along as a prop, to go to the Nau-Ti-Gal Halloween party. At first it was very quiet, so I was playing along with the band. Since they were playing in D and G (easy keys on the mandolin), but I only know how to play in C and F on the ukulele, I just played melody and harmony by ear. Eventually more people came, including a lion and a scarecrow who came separately. We joked that the Tinman would have to show up any moment, but he never did. We watched the Cubs game, but the poor Cubs lost 0-1 in their first World Series game at Wrigley Field in over seventy years.

Saturday was a gorgeous day. Travalon and I went to Crema Café for brunch, then I was supposed to join my band for another gig, but it was an hour away, then two hours for just tips, and another hour back. That is four hours not outside on a perfect day, and this venue had cheated us last time we were there, saying we would each get a free food item but then subtracting the cost of what we ate from our tips. I figured, fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me. Instead, Travalon and I went for a very long boat ride into a creek off the lake and then out into the lake past Governor’s Island and into a beautiful bay between it and Maple Bluff. After that we went home and got Rodney for a hike on Governor’s Island, and then we went to the dog park at Warner Park, which Rodney really enjoyed. He is kind of in his own world these days, but he does enjoy sniffing around where other dogs have been. The East Side Club had a Halloween party on their calendar that day, but we went there and saw nothing but a spectacular sunset. Instead, we went to the Parched Eagle, a small brewery near our house, and, along with the brew master and a couple of other guys, watched the Cubs lose again. Then Travalon and I took a second boat ride (probably our final one of the season) just down the river to see the purple window more closely and then out into the lake just far enough to see the Capitol dome all lit up. It was an absolutely perfect night, but we were the only boat out there.

Yesterday was not nearly so nice outside, but Travalon, Rodney and I did go for a walk along the path up in Windsor, beside the Yahara River where it is only a babbling brook. We watched the Packers just barely lose in a bruiser to the Falcons – two closely matched teams, obviously, since they lost by a point, and their records are nearly identical. I went to Rich’s house to join him, Kathbert, and his houseguest (the brother of a former roommate) for dinner, which included broccoli fresh from Rich’s garden that was full of little caterpillars. Fortunately we discovered them before we ate the broccoli; Rich and I just picked them off, but the others were too grossed out to eat the broccoli after that. We had the Cubs game on in the background, and they won! So the World Series is not over yet. Rich carved a pumpkin that is a circuit and an equation, to keep his nerd cred intact. He has generously provided a photo:  

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Lobster Boil

Last night Travalon and I went to our second lobster boil at Mariner’s Inn. It seemed more chaotic than the one last year, maybe because there seemed to be a lot more people there. We were sitting at a table with two people and two empty seats when the waitresses moved the other two people to seat a party of four together. They proved to be pleasant company, and the one guy had coached high school football and basketball, so he had quite a bit to say about the coaching of the Badgers and the Packers. Everything he said made a lot of sense, but I’ll admit that I am no coach. He and the other guy at the table didn’t even get the lobster boil because apparently they weren’t originally part of the group, but their wives wanted in on it. Someone out in the main part of the restaurant had stolen their reserved seats, so the poor waitstaff had to scramble to seat them together. One of the waitresses is one we regularly see at the Norske Nook! These are some of the hardest-working people I have ever met; this isn’t the first time I’ve seen one waitress at multiple restaurants. Sadly, I see my blog post about the lobster boil last year is also about a Republican debate. It makes me nostalgic for a time before the nominee was the least qualified guy on the stage.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Game Two of the World Series

Last night I was not feeling well, but I did stick it out at work and drag myself to band practice. Then I went home and watched Game Two of the World Series with Travalon. We both missed the first inning, in which the Cubs scored a run; today I checked the newspaper, but in the description of the game, there was nothing about how this run was scored. Did a guy steal home? Did someone get a home run? How odd, because in descriptions of football games, they always tell you about interesting plays. Baseball is so much more about statistics, and there were all kinds of statistics for this game listed in the paper, so maybe if I’d understood them, I could tell you what happened. There was an unearned run later when the bases were loaded and the Cleveland pitcher walked someone. Unfortunately Cleveland stole home on a wild pitch, but that was the only run they got, so the final score was 5-1 Cubbies. Yay! Now the series is tied. I’ll bet the advertisers love it, because tons of people are probably watching the Cubs, and it is anyone’s series at this point. It has been a real battle of the pitchers. Tonight there is no game, so Travalon and I are going to a lobster boil, but all weekend long there will be games. I don’t know if we will make it to the Halloween parties at the Nau-Ti-Gal and the East Side Club! Of course, we don’t have costumes, so we are not ready for them anyway…

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dinner at Light Bright's House

Sorry for my silence yesterday. I went to Light Bright’s house for dinner; her mother-in-law joined us, but her baby boy was already in bed, since I couldn’t get there until after Irish class. They both seemed more subdued than when I visited last month, probably since everyone is getting over viruses. I brought an Indulgence chocolate nib bar, and it was a big hit. Light Bright made chicken noodle soup using vegetables from her garden, and her MIL made something she had tried in New York City when she had visited a couple of weekends ago for her birthday: grilled eggplant and peppers with fresh mozzarella on it. It had a fancy Italian name which I can’t remember now, and it was delicious. We called it an evening around nine, and then I went home and (sigh) watched the Cubs lose to the Cleveland Indians 6-0 with Travalon. There are seven (potential) games in the World Series, but the announcers were saying that the last fifteen winners all won Game One, so statistically speaking it is not looking so hopeful for our Cubbies. Still, they could come back. Hope springs eternal… or at least until the final game has been played.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Is the Curse of the Billy Goat Broken?

I hope my readers got outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend. Friday evening Travalon went to a high school football game while I went to a Newbie Ukulele jam. It was at someone’s very beautiful house, and we played hard for an hour – I got a blister on my thumb from strumming! – and then we sat around talking and drinking wine and eating cheese and lemon bars. It was a lot of fun, but I was a good two decades younger than everyone else. Retirees seem to love to take up the ukulele. Why not? It is an easy instrument, and a lot of fun.

Saturday Travalon and I had brunch at the Norske Nook, since his new project is to try every one of their pies, then we got on the road with Rodney to Prairie du Chien, listening to the Badger game as we drove. Just as we reached town, the Badgers beat Iowa! We went for a hike at Wyalusing State Park, then we went to another tavern from our book – we are now down to nine taverns to visit! This one had the friendliest proprietors yet and very delicious pizza. Then as we drove back, we found an AM station to listen to the Cubs game. I am not a hardcore fan, but Ma Hat’s side of the family are all fans so I am somewhat of one, and I do love Wrigley Field. We knew if they won this game, they would be in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and they were on fire! The pitcher dispatched the Dodgers hitters so fast that they were already in the eighth inning by the time we got home. They won 5-0!! Maybe the Curse of the Billy Goat is broken…? We’ll see if they can win it all for the first time since 1908.

Yesterday was a lot of fun. Jilly Moose came to Mass, so she, Travalon, and I went to the East Side Club for brunch, since the president of the club had told us they have Sunday brunch, but the place was all locked. We went to the Daisy Café, but they had a very long wait, so we ended up going back to Plaka, and we were very happy with that choice. Travalon and I went for a boat ride back in the marsh, then we went to a ukulele singalong at the Sun Prairie Library, and then we played tennis. I am very out of practice and was winded after twenty minutes, and of course various neighbors kept happening by and watching us, which was embarrassing. It was still a ton of fun. We took Rodney for a hike along the marsh, and then in the evening we went to Rich’s house for a birthday party for Kathbert and the Single B-Boy. It was a small party: just Cecil Markovitch, my OTHER choir director, and a woman I hadn’t seen in ages but actually gave a shout-out to on this blog back in 2008. She said she has been living in New Mexico and Missouri since then, but now she is back, so she may end up with a name on this blog.

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Friday, October 21, 2016


Sorry for my silence the last few days. Wednesday I watched the last presidential debate with Travalon (and, yes, skipped choir practice again), and yesterday I took the day off of work to go to Holy Hill with him and his mother. It had been beautiful earlier in the week, but of course yesterday was cold and blustery. The leaves were very beautiful as we drove to Holy Hill and then to a park nearby that has a whole historical section. Then in the evening Travalon and I went to Packtoberfest at the East Side Club, which was a tailgate party and then a talk by a woman who had known (and even dated some of) the Packers back in the 60’s when they were so dominant. While her story was interesting and she was an engaging speaker, she started talking more about herself and less about the Packers, and kickoff had already started, so Travalon and I went downstairs to watch the game until she had finished and they put it on upstairs. The Packers were pretty lackluster against the Bears (who are down to their third-string quarterback) in the first half, although the defense was good, but in the second half the offense finally showed up to play. I don’t have high hopes for their upcoming road games, if it was that hard for them to win against a severely diminished Bears team at Lambeau. We went home for the second half, since it was getting late, and I even stayed up to watch the last inning of the Cubs game. They won! If they win their next game, they are in the World Series! Is the Curse of the Billy Goat finally broken?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ukulele Part 2

Yesterday evening as I was driving on John Nolan Drive on the way from work to my ukulele lesson, I saw the yellow submarine was gone from Lake Monona. How lucky that Travalon and I happened to see it on Sunday! And even luckier that we got to talk to the perpetrator. Then I was surprised to see that Ukulele Part 2 is an even bigger class than Ukulele Part 1! Almost all of us came back for Part 2, but some other people joined the class who had been learning on their own. Being unfamiliar with our teacher’s whimsical sense of humor, two younger ladies in particular were in stitches all night. For example, the teacher will put up a slide of two different chord changes, one inefficient and one efficient, and under the “bad” one he will put a frowning frog and under the “good” one he will put a smiling frog. Those of us in Ukulele 1 smiled broadly the first time we saw this, and now we are just used to it, but these two girls reacted like it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. It was fun having such lively people in the group; the rest of us are all kind of mellow, I guess. Surprisingly, I remain the only one in the class who took up the ukulele because I impulsively bought one in Hawaii; everyone else just bought theirs in a guitar shop or online, and they actually put some thought into it. Just to remind those of my readers who might like to take ukulele lessons in the future, the teacher does have instruments he will lend to you during class so you can see if you like it before making the commitment to purchase one.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Mysterious Yellow Submarine

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Tiffy came up Friday evening, and she, Travalon, and I were going to try a new place for fish fry, but they were booked until 8:30 so we got ice cream drinks at Mariner’s, since we can easily walk there. We headed to the new place and got there just before 8:30, only to be told the kitchen had a backlog, so we could drink all we wanted, but we couldn’t order food for another half hour. I thought that was kind of nuts, but once we did get our food, it was delicious.

Saturday Tiffy, the Rosary Ladies, Richard Bonomo, and I met for brunch at Crema Café, then the other ladies went to pray the rosary while Tiffy, Rich, and I checked out the pottery/fused glass workshop in the same mall. We all have to try this sometime – it looks like so much fun! Across the street was a boat-sized papier mache yellow submarine, and we wondered what it was doing there. It had been there for months. The three of us went to Olbrich Gardens, and in the Thai Pavilion there was a tribute set up to the king of Thailand, who had died just a couple of days before. In the evening Tiffy, Rich, and I met some other people for dinner at Pig in a Fur Coat, a real “foodie” restaurant, and everything was delicious. Between all of us, we ordered just about everything on the menu and shared it all. Then Tiffy and I went to a wonderful Baroque music concert. Travalon, meanwhile, had to work all day and then went to the exciting Badger game in the evening. They barely lost to Ohio State, a very good team, in overtime.

Sunday after Mass and brunch, Travalon and I got Rodney and brought him to Blessed Sacrament for a Blessing of the Pets (as in a bunch of dogs and one presumably terrified cat). Unlike the one at St. Dunstan’s, this was outside. Then as we drove home along John Nolan Drive, we saw a sailboat towing the funny yellow submarine that had been residing across from Crema Café! We parked and took pictures, then when the guy in the boat anchored the submarine and docked his boat near us, we went over and talked to him. The submarine was a group art project at a community center to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles song, and then it was used as a float in a community festival parade. He said this was the last thing he was doing with it – floating it on the water for everyone passing by to see. Such a Madison story! Travalon and I were in a good mood after that, and we went for a short hike at Cherokee March to enjoy the lovely weather… but then we watched the Packer game. Ugh! The only thing that could rouse me out of my funk after that was a lively political discussion with Rich and Kathbert, so now I am ready for further punishment on Thursday when the Pack hopefully don’t lose to the Bears.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 14, 2016

Comparative Life Spans of Various Decorative Gourds

It’s autumn, and you know what that means: pumpkin spice everything and decorative gourds everywhere! I am very puzzled by the decomposition rate of various decorative gourds. For example, I have one on my desk that has been sitting there since last autumn and does not appear to be any worse for wear. It looks like a small, pale yellow pumpkin. However, during the gig at the orchard, I got two tiny gourds that looked just like little pumpkins, and they both molded within two weeks. Here I had thought they would last until Halloween, and they didn’t even last until October! So why did they go bad so fast while the one at work appears to be immortal? Will it last until the earth is swallowed up by the sun? And what exactly is its secret? Maybe I should alert scientists to this phenomenon so they could study it and apply their findings to, say, me. After all, this gourd is about 200 years old in gourd time, and it doesn’t look a day over 25. Wouldn’t we all love to know its secrets?

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Wade House

Sorry for my silence the last few days. Tuesday I was too tired to blog after walking all over campus to get to a shared governance reception (I am the representative from my district for the University Staff Congress) and of course Irish class. At the reception I was hanging out with our big boss, and the Chancellor knew him and came over to talk to him. We have the same first name, so when she saw my name tag, she said, “Great name!” She was very personable. We also talked to my fellow congress member who works at a University crop research area where the old Badger Ammo plant used to be. Think how far he had to come for this reception! So I couldn’t really complain about having to walk almost a mile to get to it.

Yesterday I took the day off and went with Travalon to the Wade House, another stop in our historical taverns book. It was an old stagecoach stop halfway between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan, a big boarding house with a tavern on the main floor, but once the railroad passed it, it lost most of its business. However, the family kept it in good shape, and it was kind of a century-old time capsule when it was donated to the State Historical Society back in the 1950’s. Unfortunately it was a rainy day, so we got a bit wet as we trudged between the Wade House and the other buildings, a forge with an actual blacksmith working, and a sawmill. Everyone working there was in a period costume. All the buildings were quite a distance from the main building that houses a very cool carriage museum, but fortunately they took us out to them and back in a covered horse-drawn carriage. At the gift shop in the main building, Travalon picked up another book of historical places to visit around the state by the same authors, this one of gas stations, and on the way back we stopped by one in Fond du Lac. Our next great pilgrimage… This has been a wonderful way to see the whole state. 

Once we got back to town, we had dinner at a roadside restaurant in DeForest we had been wondering about, and it was quite good. Then I went to confession but was going to skip choir practice, only Rich could see where my iPhone was so he knew I was there and texted me. Busted! I told Travalon I had to go, so he was going to an exhibit of Vietnam War art, but it was closed, and all the shops were too… and then he couldn’t get back up into the church because they had locked the door to the upstairs! I forgot to tell him about the unlocked side door. I was going to blog last night but had to get a bunch of steps in because we hadn’t gone hiking in the rain, so there wasn’t time. Sorry about that!

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Killer Baby Unicorn Corn Maze

I hope my readers got to enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend. Friday Tiffy came up, and she and I went to a Thai restaurant for dinner and then hiked up the hill to the Unitarian Society’s auditorium for the Madison Bach Musicians’ concert of English Renaissance and Baroque music. If you feel like English is everyone’s theme this year, you are not mistaken – it is because they are all celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. An original folio of his plays will be coming to the university next month in honor of the occasion, so if you get a chance, you should check that out.

Saturday Travalon, Rich, and I met Tiffy for coffee downtown, then we went to her sister’s beautiful apartment to walk the dogs, Karl and Eddie. Karl is a very friendly, athletic chocolate Lab and Eddie is a cute little cockapoo. Tiffy said they were unusually mellow that day, but they were still quite frisky, especially compared to poor old Rodney. We had some lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant, then Travalon, Tiffy, and I played catch with Karl before heading to the Treinen Corn Maze. This year the theme is Killer Baby Unicorns, and Tiffy had more trouble than usual reading the map because the lines were all curvy so we just sort of wandered. Travalon went off in search of secret punches, and we didn’t see him again until we emerged from the maze with eight secret punches, and there he was to greet us. We got maze pens and Maze Master Certificates again this year. Tiffy headed home, and I headed back downtown to watch the silent movie Metropolis with Rich at the Overture Center while Travalon (who doesn’t care for silent movies) went to Mr. Brews and then watched the Cubs win a playoff game. They are on fire this year! Maybe the Curse of the Billy Goat is finally broken!

Yesterday was so beautiful. As Travalon and I were heading out after Mass, we saw Cecil Markovitch and the Single B-Boy walking down the street, so we said hi and they said they were going to a nearby Greek restaurant for brunch, did we want to join them? We managed to find a parking spot just off the Square and joined them for a delicious brunch with a Greek twist: Cecil had a Greek omelet, Travalon had a gyro omelet, and the B-Boy and I had Moroccan chicken scramblers. It was so tasty! Travalon and I went to the zoo to enjoy the perfect weather, then we joined some friends for board games and tacos. In the evening we watched the Packers and taped the debate, to hopefully watch it tonight. The Packers started with a beautiful opening drive, but after that they weren’t so dominant offensively. Fortunately their defense kept shutting the Giants down, and they did win the game. Hopefully this is a winning season for them! So far they have only lost to the Vikings, but everyone is losing to them this year.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Jilly Moose's Big News

Sorry for my silence the last couple of days. Wednesday I was bad and skipped choir practice to go on a boat ride on the lake with Travalon, and then after dinner I practiced songs on the ukulele while he sang along. He requested “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, but I couldn’t seem to figure out the chords, so I googled it and found a chord chart in E minor. That is not a chord I know on the ukulele yet, so I got the mandolin and played the chords (they are interesting – the song must be modal and not just minor key) while we both sang along. In case you want to play this song yourself, the verses go Em-A-Em-C, repeated, and the chorus has a D minor in it. I tried to transpose it into a key I could manage on the ukulele, but I just don’t know enough chords yet. Maybe after the Beginner 2 class...

Good news! Jilly Moose has a new job and will be starting the week after next. How exciting! I have been praying for all my friends who are looking for new jobs. Speaking of prayer, I just finished the 54-Day Novena for Our Nation today, which is mind-boggling since I usually don’t succeed in finishing basic 9-day novenas. This one did have email reminders, so that helped a lot. I was praying for a good outcome to the upcoming elections. What that is, I’m not sure. I’ll leave that to God.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Vice Presidential Debate

Yesterday I didn’t have Irish class, because my other classmate was unable to attend, so I went home and watched the Vice Presidential debate with Travalon. It can be summed up like this:

“Why do you support a presidential candidate who has said such-and-such terrible thing?”

“My candidate never said that. [Which is untrue.] And your candidate has let the world get to be the horrible mess it is today.”

Repeat ad infinitum.

I am not sure this debate would change anyone’s vote, but it does seem like an interesting strategy to deny someone has said something in this modern era of videos and Twitter feeds, when anyone can go back and find that the person did in fact make the statement in question. This campaign has seemed so surreal like that, people just denying that reality has happened. Of course, maybe lots of people will be in denial the day after Election Day! Everyone is so polarized right now that half the country is going to be miserable no matter what, unless we can all agree on some third-party candidate. Why do we only get two choices in our elections, anyway? You would think we could have more of a choice than that. As someone who doesn’t agree with either party, I would definitely love more choices!

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Ecumenical Sunday

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon had caught my cold, and I was still under the weather myself, so we just went to a nearby place called Murphy’s for fish fry on Friday evening and then stayed home the rest of the evening. Saturday we also had a quiet day; I was supposed to play with my band at the orchard where we played a few weeks back, but I stayed home and napped. In the evening Handy Woman had a few people over for a bonfire, so that was fun.

Sunday was the adventurous day this past weekend, because we were both feeling peppier. After Mass we went to a little Lutheran church in our neighborhood for their Fall Fest, which was free lunch (we weren’t expecting the food to be free!) and then games. We were going to play Bingo outside, but it was getting colder, and the game wasn’t starting, and I really wanted to play Bible Trivia. When a woman came to announce there was plenty of room in Bible Trivia, Travalon and I gave up on Bingo and went to play that instead. And guess what? I won first place and we both got cash prizes! I feel bad for the Lutheran church because they were probably hoping to recruit people, and everyone in the trivia game seemed to be something other than Lutheran, but they did spread some good will. We went home and got Rodney, then we walked around Tiedemann Pond, and then we went to yet another church for the St. Francis Blessing of the Animals – St. Dunstan’s Episcopal. There were about eight real dogs there, and three cats, and lots of stuffed animals. In the backyard they have a labyrinth, so after the service I did that. Then we drove to Holy Wisdom Monastery and walked on their trails to a pond that appears to be called Lost Lake, judging from the worn map we found after our walk. In the evening Rich came over to put up my old plant lights in the plant room, since there isn’t much sun in there after the equinox, but he needs to come back with a stud finder to succeed in this venture. The three of us had pizza, and we read him the Bible Trivia questions – he did very well, of course. It’s debatable whether he got one more question wrong than I did, because it really depends on which Bible you are using, a Protestant or a Catholic one. The question was about the last book of the Old Testament. (I figured it was some minor prophet and guessed Malachi, and I was right, but he was right about 2 Maccabees too.) The questions we both missed had some sports or local element to them that we didn’t know, like what is the number of books in the New Testament times the number of times some team won the tournament. (It was a trick question, because they had never won.) Rich told us a local Catholic church actually did the Blessing of the Animals, but we hadn’t found that in an online search. Oh well, we had a fun ecumenical day. 

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