Friday, April 28, 2017

Bucks Playoff Game


Sorry that I haven’t posted in a few days. Wednesday I was at an all-day conference that was very interesting; I went to sessions on bystander training for bad situations, nonverbal communication, and writing better emails. There isn’t much parking at the conference site, so I parked at work and walked over – usually an easy walk of about a mile and a half, but as I was walking it poured on me, and I was absolutely soaked. My shoes and socks were still wet twelve hours later when I got home from band practice! The wrap-up session got done early, and it hardly seemed worth going back to work for half an hour, so I went to the Arboretum to enjoy the blooming crabapple trees before band practice. Tiffy had wanted to stop by the Arboretum on Sunday, and the crabapples weren’t open yet, but that day we enjoyed the magnolias. We couldn’t find the one that smells like a cinnamon red-hot, which I have smelled in previous years, but we did find one I hadn’t noticed before that smells just like a birthday cake. Most of them smell vaguely lemony.

Yesterday I left work early so that Travalon and I could go to Milwaukee for the Bucks playoff game. It was the sixth in the series against Toronto, and they were down a game, so they had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. I wore the Greek Freak jersey Travalon had won, and almost everyone else wore one too. Now I can see why – the Greek Freak was by far the best player on the team. He has a very long Greek (or maybe Nigerian) name, Giannis Antetokounmpo, which I have no idea how to pronounce. The rest of the team weren’t doing too much, so they were down by 20 points, and I thought the game was over. However, in the second half they went on a monster run and were actually up by two points with just a few minutes left in the game. Ultimately they lost by three, but the game was still a ton of fun. We all got towels to wave every time the Bucks made a basket or did something amazing defensively, and the halftime show was a lady called the Red Panda who rode a tall unicycle and kept tossing bowls on her head until she was balancing a tall stack of them. Coolest of all, a giant inflatable deer came out after her show and floated around the arena for the rest of halftime. I can imagine what a person from a hundred years ago would think if they saw such a thing! Basketball games are crazy; the Badgers always have random stuff going on too. Still, it’s really about the game, and that was very exciting. Maybe next year the Bucks will do even better!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rodney's Scary Experience


Something scary happened yesterday: when I got home, I heard our superannuated poodle Rodney crying, and I hunted down the sound to find him trapped between the screen and the glass door to our porch. I had left the glass door halfway open, and he had managed to wriggle into the space between the door and the screen but then could not back out. How long he had been there, I have no way of knowing. I immediately pulled him out and set him by his water dish, thinking he was probably dehydrated, but he couldn’t even stand. Just then Travalon came home, and he cuddled Rodney and got him to drink copious amounts of water. I called the vet clinic, and they said to keep an eye on him, but that he probably didn’t need to be seen. To my surprise, they said, “When this happens, the dog is more likely to be injured from panicking than from being caught in the door.” So this happens all the time?? Had I realized it was a possibility, I would either have left the glass door closed or opened it all the way, so there was nowhere for Rodney to get trapped. By the time dinner was ready, he was recovered enough to eat some of Travalon’s food, and by later in the evening he was his usual self. I was afraid the shock alone would kill a dog of almost eighteen, but maybe rather than being delicate because of his age, Rodney is super tough and this explains his age. This morning we couldn’t tell anything had ever happened to him.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lovely Spring Weekend


I hope my readers got to get outside and enjoy this gorgeous weather! Friday a friend had bought tickets for us for a concert, but they were actually for the show on Thursday, so we had all missed the show. Travalon and I went out to dinner with him to cheer him up, but then Travalon’s alternator died so he was the one who needed cheering up.

Saturday Travalon and I went to the rental car place where he works, and he got a car for cheap with his employee discount. I met Tiffy downtown and we ate lunch outside, then we went to Olbrich Garden. In the evening we met some Slow Food people for dinner at an Indian restaurant, and we ordered so many appetizers and types of naan bread to share that by the time our main courses arrived, we were stuffed. I had a bite of mine to see how it tasted and took the rest home. In the evening Tiffy and I went to a Baroque music concert at an Episcopal church. It was lovely, but this group usually has two sopranos singing, and for some reason this time they only had one, while the other was in the audience. Too bad – I much prefer duets to solo arias.

Yesterday was so beautiful. After Mass a group of us went to the Lakeside Café for brunch, and we sat out on the balcony in the sun and listened to the guy from Iran who was at Rich’s Easter dinner tell more fascinating stories. Travalon, Tiffy, and I went to the Hop Garden in Paoli for their anniversary party, and we sat outside listening to live music and enjoying shandies, cheese curd rolls, and chicken wings. In the evening Travalon and I met Mamastep at Ale Asylum so that I could bring her the creations she had made at Fired Up, and we sat outside there too. By then I was a bit sunburned! In the evening after the sun was low, Travalon and I went for a hike at Jackson Landing near our house, then we watched a documentary on Normandy. I want to visit Mont St. Michel so badly! But this time of year, when the weather is perfect and the flowers are blooming, it’s hard to beat life right here in Madtown.

Famous Hat

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ode to Mysterious Lights


I have nothing to blog about today, since last night was a quiet evening at home for me while Travalon went to the Bucks playoff game. (He did win a Greek Freak jersey, which I am wearing today since it doesn’t fit him.) I wrote in my diary Mariah, ran in place to music, and played around on my bouzouki. A lot of fun, but not much to read about. It must be time for another poem:

Mysterious lights in the distance,
So beautiful, they beckon to me
From the far side of Lake Monona.
What could those lovely lights be?
Look at that low row of red lights.
I must know what they illuminate.
Could it be someplace amazing?
Could finding it be my fate?
What if below those lights
Is a place where ideas can flow
As people make glass and ceramics?
I tell you, I really must know!
What is that sparkling tower?
The most beautiful thing I can see!
Of course, it could just be a smokestack
For some random factory.
Still, the searching is so much fun,
Even if the finding is lame.
Looking for mysterious lights
Is such a delightful game!

Famous Hat 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Irish Music Concert at a Library


Last night Travalon and I voyaged down to Mount Horeb (or, as bikers call it, Mount Horrible because it is uphill the whole way to get there) to see the Irish fiddler Liz Carroll and the Irish singer and guitarist Daithi Sproule play at the public library. I have no idea how they got two such renowned musicians to play at a little village library, and honestly I wouldn’t even have known about it except that one of my Irish language classmates was doing the sound for the concert. He and my teacher were supposedly both there, but I didn’t see either one. However, the place was quite packed, so that is no great surprise. Liz and Daithi (pronounced Dah-hee) were fabulous musicians, and Daithi said he tuned his guitar to D-A-D-D-A-D instead of the standard tuning of E-B-G-D-A-E. He said it was something a guy he knew learned to do for Mideastern music, and then they realized “dad dad” worked well for Irish music too. Funny – my bouzouki is tuned DD-AA-DD. I hadn’t had time to grab more than an apple for dinner before we had to head to the concert, since it is quite a way southwest of town, and we live on the northeast side, so afterwards we went to the Grumpy Troll, a brewpub and restaurant in Mount Horeb. We saw quite a few people there I recognized from the audience of the concert… and then the two musicians walked in! They were with a crowd of people, so I was too self-conscious to go over and tell them how wonderful they were. It’s funny – when you are renowned in certain circles, like those two or the early music performers who come to town for our festival every summer, you can walk around town without the general public hassling you, yet you have adoring fans. It seems like an ideal existence.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pursuing Mysterious Lights


This is sort of silly, but I get fascinated with the lights I see in the distance from the Monona Terrace. My readers may remember how I spent several years trying to figure out what a low building with red lights was, only to discover it was just a strip mall. However, that strip mall contains both Crema Café, a wonderful place to get brunch, and Fired Up, a wonderful place to make fused glass, so discovering what the lights were was no waste of time. Recently I had noticed a strange set of lights in the distance, something new that hadn’t been there before. It was near some radio towers, but it was more lit up than the radio towers, with sparkly lights all the way up its height. Travalon and I tried to figure out where it could be, and we took one ride looking for it on Cottage Grove Road but were unsuccessful. I noticed during the day that whatever this tall object was, it looked a bit like a mosque, with a lower, rounder building and a tall thing like a minaret, and it was behind a large green water tower. I knew the water tower was right behind the high school in Monona, so if the other object were a bit further back, it was probably in an industrial park where Stoughton Road and Pflaum Road intersect. Last night Travalon said let’s take a ride over there, and we found the tower all lit up. It is something for a company that produces gases for welding, so nothing as immediately useful to me as the lights that turned out to be the strip mall, but I was still happy to have found what it was. Maybe if I ever have need of gas for welding, this knowledge will come in handy.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter!


Happy Easter to my readers! He is risen indeed! I had sort of a weird Triduum; Holy Thursday was fine, but Good Friday after Travalon and I took a hike at a place right near our condo called Jackson Landing, he dropped me off for the service at our church. However, the priest was sick, and instead of calling in another priest, they just canceled the service and had Stations of the Cross and a rosary instead. The choir still sang several pieces. Afterwards several of us had a small, vegetarian meal at Himal Chuli, sitting outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. After that Travalon and I turned on the Uber app, but we didn’t get any requests as we explored the islands in Monona. In the evening I met Rich, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and Cecil Markovitch to hear the Madison Bach Musicians perform Bach’s “St. John’s Passion,” so we got to hear the reading anyway, since we hadn’t during our non-service. It was a very beautiful performance, and they projected the words in English on the wall behind the performers, who were of course singing in German. To my surprise, I could usually pick out which phrase they were singing matched with the English phrases. Maybe it was a waste to study Romance and Celtic languages, since obviously Germanic languages must be what come naturally to us English speakers!

Saturday Mamastep and I had some girl time while Travalon gave people Uber rides. She and I went to the Crema Café and then walked fifty steps over to Fired Up, where we made some fused glass pendants and painted small ceramic figurines. She painted a green VW Beetle like the one she used to own, and I painted a little hedgehog to go with my flop-eared rabbit. Afterwards Travalon and I went to the zoo, since it was such a beautiful day. In the evening Travalon and I went to the Easter Vigil at the little country church near our house, which I did not find satisfying. Generally the Easter Vigil is my favorite liturgy of the entire year, but l want to hear the Exultet chanted, not spoken by a priest with a strong foreign accent. There were not that many people there, and when we started outside, my candle kept getting blown out. Is that a bad sign? Maybe I’m not living my life right. On the other hand, it was the shortest Vigil Mass I have been to, only an hour and a half. It just felt like any old Mass but with candles and extra readings.

Yesterday was the most gorgeous day yet. After Mass Travalon and I went to the Nau-Ti-Gal for brunch, then we were planning to visit his mother, but she has a bad case of the flu. Instead we went for a hike at Cherokee Marsh, and I discovered you can see the island in Cherokee Lake from one of the observatory stands. In the afternoon Rich had a dinner at his house, and about a dozen people were there. We had some really interesting conversations, like one guy was from Iran and one woman was from Pakistan, so they were talking about the different types of Islam in the two countries. Also, did you realize that in the 80’s a large number of Iranians moved to Japan? I had no idea! Miss Heartsong showed up around nine, and that was the first time I had seen her in eons! She is engaged now, so I suppose at some point I’ll have to refer to her as Mrs. Heartsong.

Famous Hat

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Maundy Thursday Uber Ride


Sorry that I haven't posted in so long. First I had nothing to say, and then I did but we got really busy. I will just write a quick post about our wonderful time on Thursday night. Travalon and I went to a church down on the southwest side of town for the Maundy Thursday Mass, and then we went to Vintage for a drink and a snack. He is now signed up to be an Uber driver, so as we were heading home on the Beltline, we turned on the app and right away got a request for a ride. We picked up a very friendly bartender from an apartment complex near the Arboretum, and we took him to a restaurant on East Washington, so it was right on our way home anyway. We had a wonderful time chatting, and Travalon made an easy $9 for doing this. And best of all, the guy gave him a five-star rating! Today Travalon gave a couple more people rides. What a fun way to make money!

Famous Hat

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ferry Bluff, Cactus Hike, and the Hop Garden


I hope my readers got outside this weekend to enjoy the beautiful weather! Travalon and I sure did. Friday evening we went to the beautiful Lakeside Café to listen to the Madison Classical Guitar Society again, and we ran into Pete the Sailor Man there. The brother-in-law of the Daughter of Denni was playing again, and he is our favorite because he does lots of flamenco. A guy I know from early music circles came and played his lute, and after he played, half the audience left. They must have been there for the lute music, not the guitar music.

Saturday the East Side Club was having a pre-Easter brunch, so Travalon and I met Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and OK Cap there, then he went antiquing and we ladies went to Olbrich Gardens, where we were joined by Cali. It was such a beautiful day! Travalon did join us again, by the Thai Pavilion. Then he and I went for a long hike by the northern part of the Yahara River. It was so warm that we stripped down to T-shirts! Mine had the name of a German language journal on it, which is kind of random but at least not offensive. I personally have never read this journal, but we publish it where I work, and at one point the editor had T-shirts made, so I got one. So I was kind of doing marketing for my job, if anyone who walked by us even noticed.

Yesterday Travalon and I went hiking again. We had a quick brunch at the Crema Café, then we drove down Highway 60, a gorgeous ride, and hiked up Ferry Bluff. We went for a hike on the Nature Conservancy land covered with cacti out by Spring Green, and then we went to the Hop Garden in Paoli and sat outside enjoying shandy made with their potent beer and a locally made kombucha, while listening to a guy play the guitar and sing. Musicians often notice me in the audience – I suppose being a fellow musician makes me particularly attentive – but this is the first time I’ve ever had a performer ask to take a selfie with me because I’m such a great audience member! This guy wanted one with both Travalon and me, and then he gave us stickers. They advertise him – again with the free advertising! He said they are “bumper sticker quality,” but I have never put a bumper sticker on my car. I do not want people to know my clever opinions without my getting a chance to ask them theirs. I am a big believer in the equal exchange of information. Don’t be like Cali, who asked how old I was, and then after I told her, she wouldn’t tell me her age. That is just unfair.

Famous Hat

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meyer Lemon


Sorry that I haven’t posted for several days. There hasn’t really been that much to say. Tuesday evening Travalon and I went to Liliana’s for their special pretzel dinner, which was delicious: a soft pretzel with sriracha cheese sauce for an appetizer, pretzel-encrusted catfish for the main course, and we split a piece of pretzel bread pudding for dessert. I have been practicing the bouzouki every evening now that it is fixed up by watching a video of rebetiko music over and over while trying to play along. Happily, I am making some progress, and it’s only been a few days. Today I had an interesting adventure: I like to buy bags of “imperfect” produce at the co-op, which is fun because not only are they cheap, but you get an interesting variety of fruit in the bags. This morning I grabbed what I thought was a light-colored orange from one of the bags, and at lunch I peeled it and ate a section, but it was really, really tart. I looked at the label, and it said: “Meyer lemon.” I had no idea such a thing existed until then! At that point I had already peeled it, so I had to eat it. They are a cross between a lemon and some sort of tangerine, so it wasn’t completely inedible, but was it a challenge to eat the whole thing! On the other hand, according to my diet app, instead of the 70 calories I was budgeting for a tangelo, this thing was only 25 calories. It probably would have been fine in a fruit salad, but I don’t recommend just sitting down and eating one. At least I probably got my Vitamin C for the day…

Famous Hat

Monday, April 3, 2017

Led Zeppelin Music and a Powwow


I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I spent a lot of ours at the Overture Center. On Friday evening we each got a free bag of popcorn at the Union for being members, then we sat eating popcorn and drinking beer and listening to “Jazz at Five,” which didn’t sound all that jazzy. It was a group billing themselves as Madison’s only Hawaiian/French duo, and they did indeed play French cabaret songs and Hawaiian slack key guitar songs. We had a fish fry there in the Ratskeller, then we headed to the Overture Center for their 2017-18 season announcement. It was kind of like watching a bunch of movie previews, and then afterwards there was pie and a salsa band, so we danced a bit. We had a really good time and found out about some shows that sound really great.

Saturday I had my annual gig at the pancake breakfast at the McKenzie Center, and Travalon was a devoted husband and drove me there. Jilly Moose and OK Cap came too, and we went to the little wildlife zoo they have there, then we went to the Thirsty Moose. I spent all my gig money on lunch for Travalon and myself, so that gives you some idea of the big bucks we make in my band. It was a beautiful day, so I took a two-mile walk while Travalon watched Final Four basketball, and then in the evening we went back to Overture for a Led Zeppelin tribute band playing with the symphony orchestra. It was so good! Afterwards we went to Café Coda at the Fountain for a drink. They have gypsy swing jazz every Wednesday, so we will have to give that place another chance. Surely not all the live jazz they have there is the weird free stuff.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to brunch at Mickey’s Dairy Bar with Cecil Markovitch and the Single B-Boy, then we two went to the University’s powwow at the Alliant Energy Center. We thought it would be in the main exposition hall, but they were having a deer and turkey hunting expo there, and the powwow was in a side hall. Travalon noted dryly that Native Americans always get stuck with the lesser places. The powwow was a lot of fun; just as we got there, they had the Grand Entrance with all the drum circles playing, and all the dancers processing in, including the Aztec dancers. Their regalia was so beautiful. I love the women’s jingle dresses. We checked out the various vendors, and Travalon bought a poster that is a map of all the North American tribes. We also got some fry bread and found out about a powwow up near Green Bay in June that we might try to attend. That one is actually on a reservation, and it is held outside. Something to look forward to, anyway.

Famous Hat

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Music and Language Musings


Yesterday I had both band and choir practice, and it occurs to me that I spend a lot of time around other musicians so sometimes I forget that my knowledge of musical terms can be bewildering to laypeople. It is amusing to watch people’s eyes glaze over when I accidentally drop a term like Phrygian mode, theorbo, or hemiola, but when you know a lot of people whose knowledge of music theory is on a doctoral level, it’s easy to forget you might have a master’s degree level of knowledge. One bit of musical knowledge I do not yet possess is how to play the bouzouki Travalon gave me a couple of years ago. We are going to take it to a guy who fixes guitars and ukuleles to see if he can do something about the high action on it (the strings are so far above the fingerboard that it is painful to play), and then I will find a video online and try to learn at least one song. Sometimes the university has classes on how to play interesting instruments, and in the past they have had classes on playing the mountain dulcimer, but I haven’t seen those lately so I still don’t exactly know how to play ol’ Bubba Sue either. Maybe my Lenten resolution should be to actually learn to play all these instruments I have acquired over the years. Maybe it’s for the best that I never bought that balalaika years ago!

We have a new person in our Irish class, a college student who just started studying the language but already has a way better accent than we middle-aged people who have been studying it for three years now. It’s funny, when I was in Ireland, I bought anything that had Irish written on it because it seemed so cool and mysterious. Today I came across a T-shirt from the Guinness factory, and not only could I read the message on it and realize it was just something about how you shouldn’t drink anything else, I was also all like, “Hmm, they’re eclipsing the B there, and aspirating that S.” Now when I see written Irish, my first reaction isn’t, “Whoa, that’s so cool!” but “Oh man, another thing to translate!” Familiarity really does breed contempt, or at least fatigue. 

Famous Hat

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Asia and Journey


Sorry for my silence yesterday, but I had a busy evening. First I went to Irish class, as usual, then Travalon picked me up and we went to the Colosseum to see Asia and Journey, two bands from my youth. Asia’s original lead singer had died in January, just before they started the tour, so they had a guy from YES (another arena rock band that was big in the 80’s) sing, and they dedicated the whole show to their late singer. It was crazy getting into the arena, so we missed a little of Asia’s set, which wasn’t even an hour long, but we did catch the songs I remember liking by them. Our seats had kind of an obscured view, and the place was pretty full, but we did manage to find two great seats that nobody ever claimed, so then we had a perfect view of the stage.

Journey was my favorite band back in my early teens for two simple reasons: 1) they played a lot more songs in minor keys than the average arena rock band; and 2) their lead singer was smokin’ hot. Apparently he is also a huge jerk, and he wants nothing more to do with the rest of the band, which is his loss because they are amazing musicians. Also, they found a Filipino street kid who could sing just like him, and so now they have a lead singer half the age of the other guys. He is totally ripped too – he looks like he works out every day! I guess when your job is running around on stage for two hours, you have a lot of other time to dedicate to pumping iron. They started their set with my very favorite Journey song, “Separate Ways,” which is not only minor key but also has a keyboard line based on Bach. A lot of people were out getting beer between bands, so they came running in when that song started. Honestly, the band was so good that even their lame slow songs sounded great live. Anyway, it was a fantastic show, and their replacement lead singer rocks. Who needs the original jerk?

Famous Hat

Monday, March 27, 2017

Durian Bars


Did all my readers have a good weekend? I ended up having a very nostalgic one. First I have to say that Travalon is a prince among men, and he went to the music store for me and got a music stand and a tuner before my ukulele jam on Friday. The Snark brand tuner even came with a free Snark pick! The jam was a lot of fun, and Luxuli and my old friend (Rich says I should call her Hockey Girl) came and sang along, then we went to the Parched Eagle and Travalon joined us before he and I watched that heartbreaking Sweet Sixteen game. At least the Badgers went down fighting – losing by one point in overtime is definitely nothing to be ashamed of!

Saturday morning Travalon had to work, so I ran some errands downtown and took the opportunity to see an art exhibit that was closing the next day. It was icons and carved crucifixes from Mount Athos in Greece, as well as beautiful photos of some of the monasteries. As a woman, I am not allowed to go to Mount Athos, so this was the closest I would ever come. They even had a sample of the incense they use. I did miss the annual bead show that Jilly Moose and OK Cap went to, but maybe that’s just as well – I probably would have bought way too many beads! How many rosaries can one person make, right? Once Travalon got off of work, we were going to see a movie, but the theaters were packed. We did go by the old place I used to work at; I hadn’t been there in fifteen years, so that was a real trip down Memory Lane. Then we drove out to Sauk to see eagles, since it was a cold, wet day and they seem to like that weather, but we didn’t see a single one. Lots of gulls, though. In the evening we went to the Parched Eagle again to hear members of the Madison Classical Guitar Society play. Readers, if you have never heard them, it is such beautiful music! They play two Fridays a month at the Lakeside Café, if anyone is interested in catching them sometime with us. Even Travalon likes classical music when it is played on the guitar, and they played a lot of flamenco too. The brother-in-law of the Daughter of Denni was one of the players, but her sister (the other Daughter of Denni) was home with the little kids. He is taking her and the kids with him for a vacation in Spain so that he can study with a flamenco master. How cool does that sound? Can I go to Hawaii to study with a ukulele master?

Yesterday after brunch Travalon and I went to hear a jazz concert, but they wanted $25 to let us in, and the place was packed. There was nowhere to sit. I noticed they were all old white folks, so that’s who can afford to hear a genre invented by poor black folks. Interesting, isn’t it? A black guy was coming to the concert, but when he heard me tell Travalon the price, he said, "That's all I need to know," and he turned around and left. It was great jazz, so we stood in the hall listening until we thought they might come yell at us, then we walked to my old place on Pirate Island. That made me even more nostalgic than seeing my old office building! I just loved living there and only moved because I found a free living situation, so I could pay off my student loans faster. (Which worked, by the way.) Then we went to Rich’s house and Travalon watched some Elite Eight games while Rich, Kathbert, and I took a long walk in the neighborhood. We went to the Asian grocery store owned by the people who sold Rich his house, and I mentioned that I was curious about durian fruit. It is supposed to smell vile but taste wonderful. The fruit is enormous and looks like a medieval weapon, with giant spikes coming off of it. One fruit was $20, and even cut up chunks of it were about $12 for a package, so Kathbert suggested we try the $3 for four ice cream bars, in case we didn’t like it. By the time we got back to Rich’s, Catzookz was there, but she wasn’t disappointed that we didn’t have an ice cream bar for her when she googled durian. They are ugly inside and out. Kathbert and I thought the flavor was like rotted onions, garlic, and eggs mixed together, and Travalon said it was like sour pineapple, but Rich (who has no sense of smell) said, “It tastes like vanilla to me.” We did finish our bars, and then we skyped with A-Fooze, who had tried durian and also said it tastes like a bad onion. On the way home Travalon and I stopped to get Thai iced teas to get the flavor out of our mouths. Can you believe this? My diet app not only had durian ice cream bars listed, it even had that brand (Sweety)! They are 100 calories each, in case you would like to indulge in one. I personally cannot recommend it.

Famous Hat

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Late Winter Pictorial Post


It is time, once again, for a pictorial post. First are a couple shots of the old Shakespeare folio Travalon and I saw at the university library, showing how they used two capital Vs instead of a W on the title pages. Of course I forgot to take a picture of the title page that said: "Romeo and Ivliet."



Next are the two Valentine's Day presents Travalon gave me: an ornament of Ireland and a pin based on a design in the Book of Kells.



Here are three pages from my adult coloring book. It was a wonderful winter pastime, but I haven't been coloring in it lately. Of course, now it is spring!




This is a picture of the Lake Windsor Country Club, so you can see how beautiful it is. I would have loved to have our wedding reception there except a) I didn't know about it at the time, and b) we couldn't have afforded it anyway.


Ma Hat sent me this photo of her Plant World, which rivals mine and has way more color:


This beautiful sunset was what I saw when I voted in the primaries.


And finally, astute readers may remember the photo of the magenta Christmas cactus bloom I posted a couple of months ago. Just last week my white Christmas cactus bloomed at work. It is so fun to have flowers at work!


I hope you have enjoyed this late winter pictorial post. Soon I may post short videos of the bands we saw at the World Music Festival last month.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Women's Hockey Championship


I totally forgot to mention yesterday that when Travalon and I went to the Thirsty Moose on Sunday afternoon, we watched the third period of the Women’s Hockey Championship game. The Badger Ladies were the highest ranked team in the country, but they were destroyed 0-3 by Clarkson, a school in Pottsdam, New York, with 4000 students. So that was sad, but they had a great season. However, I do not really like hockey because of the inherent unjustness of the sport. For example, once Clarkson had two goals, the Badgers had their goalie pulled, so that Clarkson easily got a third goal. And I’ve seen things like that before, where one team is far ahead and they get a free shot at the goal without the goalie defending it. How is this fair?? If anything, the team that is way behind should get a free shot to make it more of a game. It’s like they really do not want anyone coming from behind and catching up. Travalon tells me it is a reward for doing well, but it galls me. That is why I never will be a hockey fan.

Famous Hat

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Badgers Beat Villanova!!


I hope my readers had a good St. Patrick’s Day. I met Jilly Moose and OK Cap at Brocach right after work, and we were later joined by Cali and another friend who doesn’t have a name yet on this blog, the one who was around before I was blogging and just recently came back to town. Sooner or later I will think of a good one for her… We were at a table for four, so Cali had to sit on the side, but the table next to us for two was free, so we wondered if we could just move it over, especially after Travalon joined us. They said they had a waiting list for that table so no, but it sat empty next to us the rest of the evening so we just kind of moved it over anyway. We debated about going to the Harmony Bar to hear a live band that we had heard the Sunday before, but we were having so much fun talking that the evening got late and we all just went home.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and another woman for coffee, and soon Prairie Man joined us. Travalon went off to watch the high school basketball tournaments, and we Rosary Ladies prayed a rosary, then we met Travalon at the Union to watch the Badger basketball game. Was that ever exciting! At the last moment we beat the highest ranked team in the country, Villanova, and instantly broke almost half of the brackets out there. I am very happy because I want our players Koenig and Hayes to look really good so they will be drafted by NBA teams. Koenig would be the first member of the Ho-Chunk Nation in the NBA, as far as I know, and Travalon said he might be too short for them to look at him, but he hits a lot of three-pointers… just like Steph Curry, who is even shorter but is arguably the best player in the NBA. Then I met some other friends for what one called a “vegetable-forward” dinner at Everly, a new restaurant not far from where I work. We ordered all the vegetables on the menu and oysters Rockefeller for appetizers, and I had delicious curry squash with forbidden rice for my main course. Travalon, meanwhile, met an old friend for dinner at the Journey, the pan-Asian buffet he loves. He did join some of us later for a drink.

Yesterday Travalon, Cecil Markovitch, and I had coffee right after Mass, and Cecil bought me a red rose from a street vendor. Then Rich had brunch at his house for the first time in ages, and Travalon and I brought pastries from the Mexican grocery store down the street from him. The weather was finally beautiful, so Travalon and I took Rodney the Poodle and went to Indian Lake Park for a hike, but it was so muddy that we didn’t get far. We drove up to Lake Wisconsin and stopped into the Thirsty Moose for a snack and a drink, then we took the ferry across the river and went up to a county park that turned out to be a couple of picnic tables by the side of the road. Since I hadn’t gotten all my steps yet, we watched the first episode of Roots: The Next Generation after dinner so I could walk while watching it. We also caught parts of various college basketball teams. If you live with Travalon, you can’t help but be caught up in the excitement of March Madness! Especially when the Badgers are in the Sweet Sixteen again!!

Famous Hat

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today my coworkers and I went to a nearby Irish restaurant for lunch, and they ordered corned beef and cabbage, but I don’t like corned beef (nor did I ever see it in Ireland), so I got a shepherd’s pie. Unfortunately they no longer have the delicious vegetarian shepherd’s pie on the menu, but our local bishop gave us all a dispensation so we could eat meat today, and so I had the regular one with meat.

Did anyone watch that exciting Badger basketball game last night? It was their first game in the tournament (or, as they call it, “The Big Dance”), and they are an 8 seed and played a 9 seed, so the teams were (in theory) pretty evenly matched. In fact, for most of the game the Hokies were just a few points behind the Badgers, but Koenig kept putting in three-pointers and Hayes was amazing at the free-throw line, so at the end the Badgers pulled well ahead and won by ten. Of course, that means that tomorrow they will meet the unstoppable force that is Villanova, and I don’t have high hopes for that game. Imagine if they did win it… Travalon and I went to Brix 340 last night before the game and watched a little of the Villanova game there while enjoying cocktails of Irish whiskey, ginger ale, and lime, which was what everyone drank in Ireland when we were there. Villanova is the top-ranked team in the nation and of course they are a number one seed, so they got to play a scrappy little 16 seed team. During the first half, to our pleasant surprise, the other team (Mount St. Mary) were ahead by a few points, but of course in the second half it did look like a 1 seed playing a 16 seed, and Villanova slaughtered them. The question is, which team will show up to play tomorrow? If it’s the first-half Villanova, our Badgers might have a chance. If it’s the second-half Villanova, then we don’t. Oh, and in case you were wondering, no Number 16 seed has upset a Number 1 seed since 1985.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pi Day Celebrations


Did my readers all have a happy Pi Day yesterday? In honor of the day, Handy Woman brought an apple pie into work, and then Travalon and I went to Liliana’s for their special Pi Day menu. The first course was a pecan, pear, and gorgonzola tart, the main course was a spicy shrimp and crawfish pie, and the dessert was a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Of course I did not stay under my calorie count yesterday, so I ran in place while listening to about seven different versions of the jazz standard “Topsy.” I will warn you that if you search for “Topsy” on internet video sites, the first thing that comes up is not a video of someone playing the jazz song but a very old movie of an elephant being electrocuted back in 1903. Yes, it was on purpose; she had killed several people and was deemed a “bad” elephant. Considering that she was stolen from the jungle as a youngster and dragged to this country to live in a cold climate and do demeaning tricks for people, I can understand why she felt a little murderous! Why they didn’t just return her to the jungle is beyond me, but maybe they figured that she wouldn’t know how to survive in the wilderness. The reason I did not walk in place while watching Roots is that we have finished watching it. Now we are set to watch the sequel, Roots: The Next Generation. Will that one give me weird dreams? The original one caused me to dream that I had been stolen from Africa, or at least that is what someone was trying to tell me, but I was confused because I clearly remember being twelve and living in this country the whole time. Also, they were trying to tell me my birthday was in April, not January. I just kept saying, “This is not my story you are telling me. I know my own story.” Maybe that was caused by Kunta Kinte having to take a new American name. If you have not seen Roots, I would highly recommend it. It is disturbing, but – spoiler alert! – it does have a happy ending, after all.

Famous Hat

Monday, March 13, 2017

Discovering Deansville


I hope my readers had a good weekend. On Friday Cali suggested we go to the fish fry at the bowling alley in Sun Prairie, so Travalon, Cecil Markovitch, Richard Bonomo, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and I joined her there. Saturday Travalon and I went to a pop-up donut shop at Macha Tea. As my longtime readers may remember, they used to be located in a house, and I had my wedding shower there. Now they are in a much smaller space, but they were crazy busy selling donuts on Saturday morning. Then Travalon and I drove to Watertown to get two-for-one mint chillers at Berres Brothers Coffee and then go on a hike on Tivoli Island. That is more sugar in a short amount of time than I have consumed in a while! We drove back on back roads and discovered a tiny town called Deansville with a very nice tavern called the Barrel In, then we tried once again to find the source of the Yahara River, but Google Maps doesn’t always exactly match reality, and we were not successful. In the evening we went to a new jazz club on State Street, but a trio was playing free jazz, you know, the Ornette Coleman style stuff. It doesn’t even sound like music, just noise. We left after the first set. The worst of it was we could have gone to see a group for free that includes the Daughter of Denni, but we thought we would support live jazz in Madtown. However, I keep forgetting what a wide array of styles are called “jazz,” and that I really do not like all of them equally.

Yesterday we had a much more successful music day. After Mass Travalon and I went back to Macha Tea for their Asian brunch, and Rich joined us for a bit. We decided to go home and nap instead of going to the St. Patrick’s Day parade around the Square, but we did go to the St. Patrick's Day Irish music extravaganza at the Brink Lounge, and we were joined by Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Cali, and another friend who doesn’t yet have a name on this blog. She is someone who was around years ago, before I was blogging, and she just came back to town. We heard several bands and watched two dance schools perform. At the end of the festival they even taught dances to anyone who wanted to learn. The music made up for the disappointing “music” the day before so that it was an enjoyable music weekend, after all.

Famous Hat

Friday, March 10, 2017

Big Girl Ukulele Jam


I have been going to ukulele jams as part of a group called Ukulele Newbies, and it is a lot of fun. We don’t do any songs with chords that are too difficult, and the pace is generally merciful. Once a month there is a bigger ukulele jam for any player, not just beginners, and it happened last night. Travalon was going to a basketball game, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to check this jam out. I was a little intimidated, going to the “big girls’ jam” (an awful lot of the players seem to be retirement-aged women), but I just figured I could skip any chord that was too tricky. In fact, this strategy worked very well because the group was much larger than at our beginner jams, so nobody noticed if I dropped out on a chord or two. To my surprise, I actually could play almost all of the chords.

This jam was at a coffeehouse with a beautiful view of Monona Bay, and some random people sat and listened to us, but most of the people there were ukulele players. We had a fearless leader who also teaches the classes, and there was even a bass player, which really added to the sound. A few people performed duets, but most of the time the whole group played. I saw a couple of others from Ukulele Newbies, and we talked about how long we actually qualify as newbies. We have some musical background, so it wasn’t as if we came at the ukulele with no knowledge. One of them joked that we should call our northside group the “Nukes,” but she couldn’t remember what that stood for. I suppose the N is for Northside, and maybe the rest is just “ukes” for ukuleles. Even if we are no longer Newbies, we can still get together and jam as the Northside Ukuleles!

Famous Hat

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Exploring the Upper Yahara


Sorry for my silence the last couple of days. Tuesday I was going to blog after Irish class, but when I got home, Travalon and I got into a conversation that somehow involved the miniseries Roots, and he mentioned that he had it on DVD, so we had to watch some of it. Yesterday I took the day off of work so that we could do some exciting business stuff like taxes, but then we also went hiking on the northern part of the Upper Yahara Trail, which is not paved. We had Rodney with us, but the wind was blowing so hard that it almost blew him away, and he didn’t like it at all, so we took him back home. After lunch we went back to hike even further along the river, but the trail does not really go any further than the Veterans’ Memorial Park in DeForest, so we drove to find the source of the river. We discovered a little town called Morrisonville, and according to Google Maps, from the town’s park you should be able to see the pond or small lake that is the source of the river. However, we saw nothing across the street but a corn field, so that was confusing. And do you know, if you change Google Maps to the Google Earth view, there is a field right where the pond or small lake should be, so obviously someone filled it in and planted it. We drove back to the park in DeForest and met Jilly Moose for a hike along the river the other direction, and then we all got pie at the Norske Nook. After that I went to band practice, which we haven’t had in awhile, and my mandolin was a little out of tune. Both the guitarist and I have been playing a lot of ukulele in the interim, and we both had to get our brains back in the mode of the instrument actually in our hands. It took me the first part of a song to remember mandolin chords, but then it was like being with an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, when everything is just like you left it and you can talk as if your conversation was never interrupted. I do like the ukulele – it’s a fun little instrument – but the mandolin has felt like my identity for the last two decades. Who am I? A mandolier. Is that a word? Spellcheck doesn’t like it, but who cares? It’s what I am.

Shout out to Pa Hat, who was not feeling well earlier this week but is out of the hospital and feeling much better.

Famous Hat

Monday, March 6, 2017

Saturday in Milwaukee


I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I are trying to live more simply for Lent, so we had fish at home, and then we went to the health club. Saturday we made up for it by living larger: we went to Milwaukee, and Travalon went to his high school buddy’s daughter’s basketball game while I went to a show called “Shen Yun,” which is Chinese music and dance, with Tiffy. I said to her that while I don’t really like Western ballet, I loved this show, and she said, “The costumes and music were very different than in Western ballet.” This show had dances from all sorts of regions and ethnicities in China, like the Han, the Yi, the Tibetans, and the Mongolians. The orchestra was mostly full of familiar Western instruments but featured a Chinese lute and a stringed instrument called an erhu (pronounced “ahr-hu”) that is supposed to be the instrument that sounds the most like a human voice. It does sound somewhat human, but I would say the cornetto could give it a run for its money. The costumes were so beautiful, and the dances featured a lot of very athletic tumbling type moves like backflips and somersaults. Afterwards we met Travalon at a fancy German restaurant called Mader’s for a delicious dinner. His friend’s daughter’s team had barely lost, and this was the game that would have sent them to the state tournament, so that was a letdown. Otherwise it was a wonderful day, except for all the drunk Millennials staggering around in green T-shirts for something called the “Shamrock Shuffle” that seemed to involve going barhopping as a team sport. As we were leaving the restaurant, we saw one ambulance on every block for three consecutive blocks! Think they were there for acute alcohol poisoning episodes?

Yesterday we had a quiet day. We took a long walk on the walking/biking path that goes between Windsor and DeForest, and while we usually start in a park in Windsor, this time we decided to start from the other end, since we had never walked the whole thing. We googled the path and found out it is called the Upper Yahara Path, and the far end is at the intersection of two roads in DeForest. We drove there and found it was a quiet residential street where it was easy to park, and then we set out on the path, which started with a long, elevated boardwalk along the river. It was so pretty! We walked until we got to a house we recognized from coming the other way, and we found the map that showed the whole path. We also found Little Mendota Lake in DeForest, but it is smaller than Tiedemann’s Pond! You would certainly never mistake it for the big Lake Mendota. In the evening Travalon went to the last Badger basketball home game, then he joined a small group of us at Rich’s house for dinner with an old friend who is in town for a while. It was a very relaxing day with plenty of fresh air and exercise – just how I love to spend my weekends! 

Famous Hat

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mardi Gras Two Days in a Row


Sorry for not blogging yesterday. I was going to tell you about the party Travalon and I went to for Mardi Gras at Union South, but there wasn’t much to tell. It turns out the live music ended an hour before we got there, so all that was going on when we got there was mask painting. We did have crawfish po’ boys and Abita Purple Haze beer for dinner, and we found some beads sitting on a table so Travalon put them on, since I already had some on. Then we went down to check out the bowling alley. As we were walking to the car, a thunderstorm blew up and we got thoroughly soaked. We thought about going to North of the Bayou, but by then they were closing in a few minutes, and I forgot all about the Mardi Gras party at the Essen Haus that I have gone to other years. We just went home and got out of our wet clothes.

Since Mardi Gras had been such a disappointment, Travalon suggested that we go to North of the Bayou the next evening. We went to evening Mass for Ash Wednesday and saw Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and Richard Bonomo, but they were not interested in going so far afield. (North of the Bayou is on the far east side of town.) Travalon and I went and were not disappointed: the building is crazy and pink from the outside, and inside it is just as fun and really does look like a place in New Orleans. There is even an alligator on the wall! Of course it was not as lively as the night before, when there had been a band playing, but we had delicious catfish as our non-meat main meal of the day. Downstairs there is a beautiful nightclub that is open on Fridays and Saturdays. This place is a lot of fun!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Mardi Gras!


Happy Mardi Gras! Has everyone decided what to give up for Lent? Our parish priest suggested social media, which isn’t a totally bad idea except that nowadays people post all their really important announcements there so you might not know Aunt Hilda died until Easter. Last year I gave up listening to music in the car, instead listening to my Irish CDs, and my Irish did improve immensely. However, Lent isn’t really supposed to be about improving your linguistic skills, or losing weight, even if people do often treat it that way. I feel like I have been living large for the last few months and have actually been sort of looking forward to an excuse to live a little more simply, even if it is less fun.

Did everyone wear beads today? I did, and coworkers were like, “Oh, is it Mardi Gras today?” Travalon and I will be celebrating at a party at Union South after my Irish class. I will let everyone know tomorrow how that went. Meanwhile, party like you can’t for forty more days! 

Famous Hat

Monday, February 27, 2017

World Music Weekend


I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday evening I went to another Ukulele Newbies jam, this one with an Irish theme in honor of the upcoming festivities of St. Patrick’s Day, and then Travalon and I had a quiet evening at home. Saturday was an even more musical day. Travalon and I met Mamastep for coffee downtown, then we went to the International Music Festival at the Overture Center, which is completely free. First we listened to an Irish band called Bi Dana (disclaimer: I don’t think any of these bands are actually from the countries of origin but are local people and maybe expats), then we listened to a gypsy jazz swing band, and after that Travalon took off while we were joined by the woman who had joined us for dinner on Thursday evening, whom I will call “Cali” pending a more descriptive name. We three ladies explored the crafts for sale (I bought a kalima, or thumb piano), registered to win a safari, watched some capoeira, some flamenco, and some West African dancing, and we finished the afternoon by listening to an Afro-Cuban band. Mamastep had other plans that evening, and Cali went to Mass, so I went to the Adoration Chapel and prayed a rosary. Then we Rosary Ladies, Cali, and another lady went out to dinner at a sandwich shop while the guys were at Steak Night. Luxuli mentioned that we should crash their dinner during the dessert phase because the next day would be Prairie Man’s birthday, so I texted Travalon. He said they were going to the Avenue Bar for ice cream drinks, so Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Luxuli, Cali, and I headed over there to join Prairie Man, Travalon, Twins Fan, Trinidad Cap, Cecil Markovitch, the Single B-Boy, and of course Richard Bonomo. It was so much fun! Then, because we are nuts, Travalon and I went to the Carnaval celebration with Brazilian music at the Majestic Theater. I definitely got my world music fix this weekend!

Yesterday Jilly Moose joined Travalon and me at Mass, then we headed over to Crema Café for Prairie Man’s birthday. He is now officially a senior citizen! Luxuli and Cali were there too, and the birthday boy generously paid for our brunches. Then Travalon and I drove to Oconomowoc to visit his mother in the hospital. She had fallen late the night before, but she wasn’t seriously injured and seemed to be in good spirits. She has to go to rehab but then should be able to return to her apartment. It was cold there, but when we returned to Madtown, it was beautiful out (at least for late February), so we met Jilly Moose at Tiedemann’s Pond and walked around it. Then the three of us watched “Lego Batman.” It was really funny – my favorite line was when they were talking about all sorts of villains, and they showed Daleks and said, “British robots – ask your nerd friends.” And Sauron had “an eye for jewelry.” Seriously, what kids are going to get those jokes? But it was a really frenetic movie, so I think the kids like it too. They were just laughing at different spots than we adults. There was a really funny gag about how Batman wouldn’t commit to a relationship with the Joker as his main enemy and had never even told him, “I hate you.” I would definitely recommend this movie!

Famous Hat 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Where Has Famous Hat Been?


Sorry for my silence all week. I was planning to post some photos, but life kept getting in the way. Tuesday evening Travalon and I went to Liliana’s for their macadamia nut-themed dinner, as a sort of tropical coda to a balmy day. Wednesday was even more beautiful, and in the evening I went to choir practice and then took a walk with Rich to get my steps for the day. Trying to achieve 10,000 steps in a day does take a lot of time if you can’t just work it into your regular routine! Yesterday evening the Rosary Ladies all met for Mass after work and then a rosary. After that Jilly Moose, OK Cap, another woman who does not (yet) have a name on this blog, and I went out to dinner, and we spent so much time talking that it was almost nine when we left the restaurant. Then tonight I am going to another Ukulele Newbies jam, so who knows if I will have time to post photos after that? The jam will get done early, and it is about two blocks from my house, but Travalon just bought Trivial Pursuit and Clue, so we may play board games tonight. Instead of counting on having time to post photos, I am just writing this lame little explanatory post. Winter is back with a vengeance today, and it was sleeting when I took my lunchtime walk, but it wasn’t that cold. Ma Hat’s Cuddly Rosary ™ comes in handy on these days when I have to wear gloves outside. Ladies, if you are reading this, maybe we should all use our Cuddly Rosaries ™ to go on a rosary walk sometime. It’s one way to get outside when the weather isn’t ideal.

Famous Hat

Monday, February 20, 2017

Balmy February Weekend


I hope my readers got to get outside and enjoy this beautiful weekend. Friday Travalon and I went to the Lake Windsor Country Club for their fish fry, and we took a peek at the upstairs. Wow! I wish we had known about it for our wedding, but fortunately the manager happened by, so I was able to ask her how much it would have been, and it was way out of our budget. I did take some photos and will post them soon. Venus was incredibly bright that evening, and we were driving right toward it as we headed home so we had a wonderful view of it and Mars, which looked like it was right by it. Of course in reality they are very far apart from each other.

Saturday Travalon, Rich, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and I met for coffee, then we ladies went to pray a rosary, and Luxuli joined us. Travalon walked down to the Union Terrace, and he said it was so beautiful that I had to see it, so then we both walked down to it and out onto the ice. It was surreal, being on the ice when the air was 60 degrees, but lots of other people were out on the ice and not falling in, so we reasoned that it was safe enough. We walked from the Union to the Edgewater and split a pricey pint of cider there, then we walked down to St. Patrick’s so I could go to Confession. Travalon must have walked ten miles that day! I walked over six. As we were walking across the ice, we saw all the frat boys out partying and blasting music as if it were a summer day. In the evening we went to Salvatore’s Pizza Pies with the Slow Food group, and they didn’t have a table large enough to accommodate us all, so we ended up with a “boys’ table” and a “girls’ table.” Afterwards some of us went to the Chocolaterian for dessert. Mmm!

Yesterday a young couple from our church had their first baby baptized right after Mass, then they had a bunch of us over for a party afterwards. Travalon and I listened to part of the Badger basketball game in the car, and they won! It was a tough game, against Maryland, and they were trailing at the half. In the afternoon we parked over a mile away from Union South so we could walk down the bike path to the Hearts and Drafts event for Union members. This was five stations with a microbrew beer and a chocolate confection paired with it. A delightful couple joined us at our table, and we discussed local breweries. Then Travalon suggested we go to the Monona Terrace to enjoy the view from the roof. I was jonesin’ for the chicken, asparagus, and gnocchi dish we once had at the Olive bar next door, but they have taken it off the menu! We ended up going to Bellitalia for the second weekend in a row so I could get my gnocchi fix. Once again we got many miles of walking in, and all outside in this unseasonable warmth. It is supposed to stick around for a few days, so we must enjoy it while it lasts.

Famous Hat

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ode to the Ukulele


Sorry for not blogging yesterday. I was going to post some photos of the Shakespeare folio we saw and some more pages I have colored in my adult coloring book, so that is all you missed anyway. I went to a ukulele newbie jam at a community room in a grocery store, and one of the employees, who is a semi-professional banjo player, kept bringing us pitchers of water so that she would have an excuse to listen to us for a few minutes. I did reasonably well, except on the song “Closing Time,” which I really don’t like anyway. For some reason I find the chord progression (C-G-Dm-F) incredibly difficult, even though none of those chords is that hard on its own, and the whole song is just that progression, over and over. The older songs from the 50’s and 60’s are much easier to play and fun to sing. The woman I was sitting next to was teasing me for being so young that I probably didn’t know half the songs we did, although honestly I did know most of them. There was one by Dean Martin called “Sway,” sort of a tango, that didn’t seem that familiar, but it was a great song. Anyway, after that I came home and ran in place forever to music, so I didn’t really have time to blog. Today I feel very good for having exercised so much, but the pictorial blog post would probably have been more interesting than this one, so sorry about that. To make it up to you, I will write a little poem about the ukulele:

I like to play the ukulele,
There’s just no need to doubt it.
I sign my diary entries with “Haley”
And write to “Mariah” about it.
The other ukulele players
Are a super friendly bunch
Without any complex layers,
The types you’d want to join for brunch.
I like to think of the island breezes
And playing in front of the surf,
Instead of being in this place that freezes.
How I wish Hawaii were my turf!
The ukulele always sounds so bright,
Even when you’re not in tune,
And when you hit the chord that’s right,
It’s better than flying to the moon!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nau-Ti-Gal Ghost


Sorry for my silence yesterday. Travalon and I went to the Nau-Ti-Gal for Valentine’s Day dinner. Usually they are not open on Tuesdays in the winter, but last night they had a special of sirloin and lobster tail, and a free glass of champagne. We figured it wouldn’t be too crowded there, and it wasn’t once I got back from Irish class, but the waitress told us it had been packed between five and six. She also told us there is a ghost in the basement that they call Larry, although she is unclear if that is his real name or just something one of the busboys dubbed him. He wears a blue raincoat and is friendly, and she said he was the ghost of someone who was shot in the bar years ago, when it was a different establishment called Hanson’s. She said she actually felt safer on nights when she is there alone, knowing Larry is there with her. I guess he is a good ghost!

During my workday yesterday, I went to a “diversity conversation,” which was a brainstorming session. Everyone at my table was a white woman, so we didn’t really know what to say about minority experiences. One woman did mention that women in the Obama administration did what they called “amplification,” so that when one woman had a good idea in a meeting, the other women would say, “Jenny, your idea about X is a really good one!” so that men couldn’t steal credit for their ideas. As I was walking back to my office from this session, since it was a gorgeous day, I started thinking about humor. The jokes I heard as a kid were the suppressors joking about the suppressed, so all the jokes were at the expense of women and minorities. When I was in college, I watched a lot of stand-up comics, and then it was the reverse: black comedians joked about white people, and women comedians joked about men. Now I don’t particularly care for either style and prefer humor based on situations or other things that do not demean people, but I hadn’t thought before of how cruel it is for the people on top to joke about those with less. At least I can understand people who are suppressed making fun of their suppressors, but why mock those who are less well off? Is it to keep them down?

Famous Hat

Monday, February 13, 2017

Attending a Consecration to Perpetual Virginity


I hope my readers had a good weekend. Sorry for my silence on Friday, but I was nowhere near a computer. Travalon and I took the day off of work, and in the morning we went up to the Special Collections room in the university library. There had been a display of Shakespeare folios, but they had taken it down. However, they let us look at a second folio, from 1623, and the printing was crazy. For example, on the big title pages they never used a W but two VVs, so it looked like there were plays called “The Merry VVives of VVindsor” and “All’s VVell that Ends VVell.” However, on the smaller running titles on the other pages, they spelled it with a W. To look at this book we had to put everything into a locker except our cell phones, so I did take some pictures of that. I forgot to take a picture of the title page that said “Romeo and Ivliet.” On the smaller running titles it was spelled “Juliet,” but on one page they would have a regular J, and on the facing page they would have a J with a line through it, like an F. Then the librarians let us page through a gardening book from 1618, and that had crazy printing too, and wildly inconsistent spelling. Then Travalon and I drove to Racine, where we met Tiffy and went to a pub called Toad Hall for some lunch. We went to two taverns from the book, Ivanhoe’s and the Brass Monkey, and they were both beautiful. The bartender at the Brass Monkey used to be Tiffy’s masseuse, and Tiffy had thought she left town years ago, but she’s back doing massages, so she gave Tiffy her card. How crazy is that?

Saturday Travalon, Tiffy, and I joined Rich at St. Patrick’s for the consecration to perpetual virginity of a friend of ours. It was a lot like a wedding, only instead of bridesmaids she had “presenters” who were also virgins, dressed in black, and of course there was no physical groom. She wore a white dress like a bride marrying a human husband. Afterwards there was a reception with hors d’oeuvres and cake, but no DJ or band or anything like that, and she didn’t want any presents. Her life will continue pretty much the same way it has, except now she has a ring on her finger to symbolize her solemn vow. Then Tiffy, Travalon, and I took Rich out for a birthday dinner at Bellitalia, and the waitresses sang “Happy birthday, Ricardo” to him as they gave him a slice of cake with a candle in it.

Yesterday Tiffy, Travalon, and I tried the brunch at the Shamrock, which is a gay bar by the Capital. I had been told they have a good brunch with very strong mimosas, and that straight people were welcome there, and that all seemed to be true. Then Tiffy and I went to the Garden Expo, where we bought fancy chocolate and watched a cooking demonstration, before we went to a Wisconsin Baroque Society concert at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. I particularly liked the Italian soprano duets. Meanwhile, Travalon was at a tropical party with a Jimmy Buffet cover band that was a fundraiser for the Clean Lake Alliance. It was Rich’s actual birthday yesterday, but he was supposed to leave town to attend his mother’s surprise 90th birthday party on the East Coast. However, the weather out there is very bad (tons of snow), so they canceled the party and he had dinner and brownies at his house. Kathbert, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and Prairie Man came too, and Travalon stopped by after attending the Badger basketball game. They lost their first home game this season, which is kind of amazing if you think about it. They are one of the top ten programs in the country this year. Maybe they will go really far in the tournament – wouldn’t it be fantastic if they won it all?

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Recent Art Projects


Time for another pictorial post, this one of my latest art projects. But first, as promised, here is a terrible selfie of me wearing the "Bee Optimistic" T-shirt I won during the online party:



Next are some shots of the glass Jilly Moose and I made at Fired Up this past weekend. The first two photos are the pendants she made, and the third is the three pendants and two refrigerator magnets I made.




And here are some photos of pages from my adult coloring book. When Travalon and I went to Ben Franklin's to get a suction cup to hold up the sun catcher I had made during a previous trip to Fired Up, neither of us had enough change for the 59 cent suction cup, and we didn't want to put 59 cents on a credit card. We ended up getting a set of 24 pens (8 neon, 8 metallic, and 8 glitter) and an adult coloring book called "Ocean Wonders." As you can see, I have been enjoying it!





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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Immediate Seatnig


A German restaurant in town, the Essen Haus, has a sign outside of it that is a beer barrel with a lit sign below it that states: “Immediate Seatnig.” I have previously posted a photo of it on this blog. The other day I was walking by the barrel, and it looked caved in, so I thought age and weather had finally taken its toll on the wood. However, as I got to the front of it, I could see someone had destroyed the “Immediate Seatnig” sign. What is wrong with people? Why ruin something so harmless that gave people a laugh? It shouldn’t surprise me, considering what horrible things people do to one another, but somehow it still catches me off-guard when people are so purposely atrocious. From the way this sign is ruined, it does not look like something happened by accident but that someone must have crushed the barrel and then grabbed the “Immediate Seatnig” part of the sign and pulled it apart. Probably some drunk person, and perhaps that is the danger of having a funny sign near a bar, but outside where nobody can keep an eye on it. I don’t know if the Essen Haus plans to fix the sign; I drive by it every day on my way to work, and as of this morning it was still a mess. And if they fix it, will they correct the spelling? That’s my real fear.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Post 1800: Disappointing Super Bowl


An interesting note: this is Post #1800 on my blog.

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday evening my choir director had a big birthday, so some members had a party for him at their place. Saturday Travalon and I met with Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and Richard Bonomo at the Crema Café, then we ladies went to Fired Up again to make more fused glass pieces. I ended up making three pendants and two magnets, and they said they would be ready in a week, but actually they are ready today. That was fast! In the evening Travalon and I went to another birthday party, this one for the brew master at the Parched Eagle, the little brewery near our house, and we saw some people we know there. We had beer and gyros and potatoes that were basically poutine, plus there was birthday cake so, as you can imagine, I went way over my calorie limit for the day.

Yesterday after Mass and brunch I went to Rich’s house while Travalon was at a Badger basketball game. Rich wanted to go to the gym for a vigorous workout, so I had brought my gym clothes, but then I was saved when Kathbert called and wanted to do something outside. It was a very nice day (at least for this time of year), and the sun was out for the first time in days, so we took a walk outside. We didn’t go anywhere too exciting, just around Rich’s neighborhood. In the evening Travalon and I watched the Super Bowl at home, and the Falcons were slaughtering the Patriots, so we got excited and wanted to watch it at a nearby sports bar, Murphy’s. (Not that we are such huge Falcons fans, but we are so sick of the Patriots always winning.) We went there at half time, and in the third quarter things still looked really promising, so after some pizza and beer we headed home… only to watch the Patriots tie it up, win the coin toss for overtime, and quickly get a touchdown to end the game. It was the first Super Bowl that ever went into overtime, and the fifth one this Patriots quarterback has won. Somehow I took it really hard, since it seemed symbolic of so much more than just a game. Atlanta is a very nonwhite city full of people without much money, whereas Boston is white and wealthy. It just felt like the people who are always on top will never get their comeuppance. Plus Atlanta has never won the Super Bowl. Somehow it just felt so cosmically unjust, especially since Atlanta had been up by 25 points at one point. What happened? Did someone make a Faustian bargain? Eye of the Tiber, which is basically the Catholic Onion, had an article to that effect, and of course it was a joke, but it does make you wonder…

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Dunning-Kruger Effect in My Life


Somewhat related to my previous post, I just found out about the Dunning-Kruger effect, which, according to Wikipedia, is “a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.” It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the context in which I learned about this was an online discussion of our current president, but it immediately got me thinking about myself. For sure I had some of this back when I was obsessed with tennis and thought someday I would be a great tennis player, but that might have just been the “folly of youth,” or more precisely, “the idiocy of adolescence.” And even I could see that with all my tennis playing, my improvement was not nearly as great as that of my friend who always played with me, because she had more natural ability. When it comes to tennis, pretty much anyone has more natural ability than I do. However, as a “mature” adult I have long since accepted that I have no athletic ability. What my lack of interest in writing may have to do with is coming out of a Dunning-Kruger effect regarding my writing ability. I say this because I was asked to write a blog post for our work blog some time ago, since people know that I have this blog and do other writing as well. This became an exercise in frustration when I was asked to rewrite it three times, and then my ultimate humbling came when someone else was asked to take over because my tone was not “conversational enough.” Huh, I always thought my writing was breezy and casual. The other person also had to rewrite the blog post three times, but at least her final product was deemed acceptable. Since this person is better than I am at organizational skills and just about everything else, it seemed cosmically unjust that she would also be better at writing, a more creative skill. But maybe I am just suffering the Dunning-Kruger effect regarding my writing, and maybe I have always suspected this, which may be why I have never, ever submitted any of my writing to be published. Only once did I enter a writing contest, in grade school under duress from a teacher, and I did actually win, but that was my one moment of glory. Oh, and my two poems that were set to choral works by my OTHER choir director’s composer friend. Still, it is a bit sad to think that I may actually be below average in the one skill I had prided myself on having, so the best course of action seems to be accepting that I will never be a great writer.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Losing My Addictions


There is a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers that contends that one must put 10,000 hours of practice into a skill in order to become really proficient at it. I have not read the book myself but am familiar with the theory, and the other day I was thinking that the one thing I have put that many hours into was writing fiction. I started very young and sometimes dedicated entire days to it, whenever I got a chance. However, a few years ago I lost all interest in writing fiction. Why didn’t I put that much time into practicing music? I am still a semiprofessional musician, making tens of dollars by playing in public, so just think what that practice could have done for me. Maybe I could have been less semi and more professional and made as much as hundreds of dollars playing in public. What do I do with all that writing practice? I write this blog, and I write in my prayer journal and my regular diary Mariah, but it’s not fiction. Now I don’t even find writing fiction pleasurable. What happened to me? Why did I put so much time into something I would grow to detest? I don’t even really read fiction anymore, when I used to devour novels. Is this just part of maturing? Or did something really weird happen to me? Did aliens switch my brain with someone else’s? I’m not even a word game puzzle addict anymore, though I will do Sudoku or a crossword puzzle when I come across them. It’s so odd, in other ways I have not changed at all, but I’ve lost some of my addictions to such an extent that I don’t even pursue these activities in moderation. Anyone have any thoughts about this? Will I learn to love fiction again someday? Feel free to leave comments, and I will read them even if they are fictional.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Lucky Weekend


I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine was lovely and relaxing, starting with a ukulele newbies jam on Friday evening just a few blocks from my house. Talk about convenient! Saturday morning the Rosary Ladies got together for coffee (with Rich and Travalon), then we prayed a rosary together, and then OK Cap, Travalon, and I tried a new Mexican restaurant right by our church. Travalon and I went to a winter festival at the East Side Club that was a fundraiser for a local food pantry, and we bought $10 worth of raffle tickets. I put a couple in a prize package that wasn’t very popular, and I won! So we got $40 worth of taxi vouchers, which is a pretty good return on $10 that goes to charity. The package also included two bags, one T-shirt, one tire gauge, four bottle cozies, and a baseball cap all emblazoned with the logo of the taxi company. And the woman sitting next to us at the bar bought me a drink! In the evening we went to a spaghetti dinner at the Catholic church in Monona with a bunch of guys: Cecil Markovitch, Rich, Twins Fan, Trinidad Cap, the Single B-Boy, and Mr. N’Awlins. Boy, did I feel outnumbered, but it is a lot of fun to see those guys joke around. Afterwards we went to the Avenue Bar for ice cream drinks, and Cecil really enjoyed the old R&B music they were playing in the background. We forgot all about the fireworks at the Union Terrace to celebrate Chinese New Year, but a coworker went to see them and she said she never saw any, so we missed nothing.

Yesterday was such a relaxing day. We went out to see the eagles in Prairie du Sac again, and Travalon just got satellite radio in his car so he let me listen to my favorite station (The Fly, playing hip hop from the 90’s and 00’s) on the way there. (To be fair, on the way back, we listened to his choice for music.) I call the 00’s “the ohs,” but on The Fly they call them “the two-thousands,” which is quite a mouthful. Some people call them the Naughty Aughties, and I was in my Dirty Thirties during the Naughty Aughties, so I like that. We saw a couple of eagles sitting in a tree across from the VFW park, and some flying around by the dam, but I hope the bass from The Fly didn’t scare them off! Then we relaxed at home, and I colored in an adult coloring book. They are all the rage lately, and now I can see why – they are so much fun! In the evening Travalon and I went to Imperial Garden for a Chinese New Year dinner. I had pot stickers because they are dumplings that look like money purses, and sea bass, because the word for fish sounds like the word for plenty in Mandarin. Those are traditional New Year’s foods for good luck. Of course I wore red too, but the restaurant does not have the moon cakes that are the lucky New Year’s dessert. They sell them at an Asian grocery store next door, owned by the same guy, but by then it was closed. Oh well. My favorite tradition was that we were supposed to pour each other’s tea to thank each other for sharing the meal. They told us that dates back to when the emperor would pour his servants’ tea to thank them for their service to him. So Saturday we had lots of luck, and yesterday we did all the right things to have a whole year's worth of good luck!

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chinese New Year Celebration


Today the university where I work had a Chinese New Year celebration, although the actual day is Saturday. They had a Hmong New Year celebration a couple of months ago, and that was pretty successful. I went to it, and the room was full. However, this one was such a success that it was almost a disaster – three times as many people showed up as they were expecting, at least, and they had to take down a movable wall to allow people to sit down. The line for food went on forever. I wore red, having had a vague impression that this was good luck on Chinese New Year – and I was right! The speaker commended all of us who wore red. The food was cheese and fruit and pretzels, nothing particularly Chinese, but the presentation was very interesting. The speaker talked about how all the traditional New Year food is symbolic because it looks like something else lucky, like dumplings that resemble the full moon or money purses, and how they eat fish because the word for fish is the same (except for the tones) as the word for abundance. Then another woman sang a song in Mandarin. I walked there and back, since the temperature was pretty reasonable for this time of year. There was a tiny sprinkling of snow, and one of the organizers told me she thought that would scare people away, but that was definitely not a problem! I wish all my readers good health and great luck during this year of the Fire Rooster.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Photos of Art, Birthdays, and a Protest


Time for another pictorial post! First is a shot of Travalon at the cigar bar:


These are a couple of shots from my birthday dinner with Tiffy and Rich. First is a shot of the flight of chartreuse, and second is my dessert with a candle. I did actually end up trading desserts with Tiffy, so she ate this.



This is a gentleman from the protest on Saturday:


Here are two shots from Mamastep's birthday. First is Travalon holding her present, since I thought the shop wrapped it so prettily. Second is Mamastep's birthday cake - can you tell she is into steampunk?




Finally, here are the masterpieces we created at Fired Up. During our first trip, Jilly Moose painted the moose she named Maxwell and also created the frame to hold a picture of her baby niece and nephew.



And here are the bowl and pendant she made during our most recent trip.



Tiffy made this spoon holder. To me, it has a kind of "feng shui" feel to it.


I made this soap dish and star ornament. I love Fired Up! If I could afford it, I would make something there every week!



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