Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Photos and Videos

At long last, here are some Christmas photos and movies I promised to post. First are some displays at the Zoo Lights: flamingos, a turtle, and a fountain. Thanks to Travalon for taking these.

Here is the state Christmas Tree up at the Capital.

This is a beautiful winter sunset over the river:

We saw this crazy inflatable chicken that sort of looks like Trump at a Socialist protest we passed:

The next photos are of my Christmas tree ornament and Travalon's first attempt at glass fusing, a very cute dog. I tried photographing his on both a white and a red background and couldn't decide which I liked better, so I am posting them both.

This next shot is my coworker's Christmas cactus in bloom.

And here is the Christmas cactus I have at home in bloom.

I thought the Christmas tree at the East Side Club was so pretty.

Someone made a smiley face in the snow on this sign Christmas Eve. They must be a lot happier about the snow than I am!

Here are the presents I got for Travalon: a red panda and a miniature guitar that says "The Beatles."

And here are the presents he gave to me: an adorable Peruvian nativity set and a pillow of vintage streetcars in San Francisco.

This gives you an idea about the decorating Mr. Icon and the Brazilian guy did at Rich's house. I took some other pictures, but they weren't as attractive.

Some more flowers: the mini cyclamen OK Cap gave me for my last birthday is blooming again, and we got ourselves a free poinsettia when we bought one for Travalon's mom.

And apparently this blog platform will no longer let me load movies longer than a minute, so I had to put them on YouTube and then link them. First is a house in town that goes all out for Christmas:

And finally, the Holiday Train video! I need to edit this, because the first minute is kind of a waste, unless you enjoy the anticipation, and the last minute is a bit extraneous too. Still, the rest really gives you a great view of the beautiful train.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!

I hope my readers had a very Merry Christmas. Thursday evening Travalon and I went to the East Side Club Christmas party, where someone bought us a drink, and someone else told me to get on stage with the other two women leading the singing of Christmas carols. Then we kept winning the music trivia questions! It got so bad that I was embarrassed to answer any more, so I told the other people at our table what to say, and then they won. Afterwards we all danced. It was so much fun!

Friday Travalon and I had to get our passports renewed, and our photos look like mug shots. You are not allowed to smile anymore. We went downtown to the Periodicals Reading Room, and then I met Hockey Girl for a champagne tasting at the Barriques in Fitchburg while Travalon drove some Uber. Hockey Girl had given me an early birthday present of a wine tasting journal, in which you are supposed to write your impressions of the wine you are tasting, and I would write them before reading the experts’ take on each champagne. Hockey Girl was duly impressed that I would always get at least one or two of the same flavors as the experts – perhaps I do have a talent for wine tasting! Now, how to parlay that into a lucrative career… After that all three of us went to the Lakeside for an Irish jam, and I found out it is an open jam, so I will try to join them sometime. Hockey Girl and I played a friendly game of Scrabble, and I wiped the floor with her, but so much of it is luck, like if you can use a double word score or triple letter score square. Also, playing against Travalon’s mom, who is a really good player, has honed my own skills.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich downtown for coffee, then the two of us tried to take the Holiday Trolley one last time, but we waited through four stoplight cycles and it was not moving from the stop before ours. It was so cold out that we just gave up. Then my disappointment continued when we went to the grocery store for cassata supplies, but they didn’t have pound cakes! Luckily Rich said he could get me one, so I spent the whole day at his house, making the cassata and chatting with Mr. Icon, who is in town because his father passed away. Travalon drove some Uber, then he and I went to a really good Indian restaurant on Atwood, I think it’s called Dobhan, and then we went to Barley Pop to try some fancy beers. Travalon had one that smelled like a cinnamon roll.

Christmas Eve we overslept and were about to go to the church in Westport for Mass when I remembered that my choir was singing a piece with two soprano parts, and the other woman who knows it was home sick with bronchitis. We rushed to our church and got there during the homily, so I was able to sing with the choir. We joined Rich, the Single B-Boy, Mr. Icon, and Rich’s Brazilian housemate for brunch at Sofra, then we had to run all over town to find an open nursery to get Travalon’s mom a poinsettia. As long as we were there, we got ourselves one, and I got a couple of cool cacti things. Then we exchanged presents, and I gave Travalon a miniature guitar that says “The Beatles” on it and an adoption kit from the World Wildlife Fund for a red panda, which includes a very cute stuffed panda. He gave me a really cute Peruvian nativity set, a pillow that has vintage San Francisco streetcars on it, a Taco Bell keychain (that’s a gag gift), and a little kid’s book in French that I was able to translate for him with relative ease. After that we had to head back to church so I could sing in the pre-Mass concert with the choir, then we had Christmas Eve Mass, and after that we had a quiet evening at home. My days of running to the Lutheran Church, singing again, and then going to Fruit Soup in the middle of the night at my OTHER choir director’s place are over.

Yesterday we had to go to Mass AGAIN because my choir director insists on doing big pieces with two soprano parts on Christmas morning, then we drove to Oconomowoc for Travalon’s family gathering. I mostly talked to my sisters-in-law, and one gave me a necklace she had made! I hadn’t brought anything because we had been told to only bring presents for the kids. Travalon and I found an open Japanese restaurant to grab a quick, light lunch, then we drove back to Madison and headed to Rich’s house. Mr. Icon and the Brazilian guy had cleaned and decorated, so the place looked wonderful. I made eggnog with quite a bit of help from two other ladies, and of course Cecil Markovitch brought wine, as did some other people. (I think there were twenty people there.) Rich made his famous lasagna, and a vegetarian woman made butternut squash lasagna, so they had a friendly contest to see which was better. Honestly, they were both good and so different that I don’t know how you would compare them. We ate and drank and talked, then we had to take a break before dessert, so we played “Who Am I?” Actually, I do not know the official name of this game, but one person has a Post-It note on his forehead saying who he is, and he can only ask yes-or-no questions of the rest of us to determine who he is. So kind of like Twenty Questions. Jilly Moose was really good at this game, but nobody was better than Kathbert, who took maybe four questions to figure out who she was. Granted, she knew as the Lutheran in the room that people would tease her by making her a Pope, so it didn’t take her any time to figure out that she was JPII. One woman had to test her again, so she put the label “Kathbert” on her forehead, and somehow Kathbert realized in three questions that she was herself! I am not surprised, since, as my regular readers will remember, she always wins my blog contests. You just cannot outsmart Kathbert, so why bother trying? For dessert we had my cassata and a delicious banana-chocolate chip cake made by the guy who always brings fabulous desserts. I should have gone home after that and exercised, but we got sucked into more rounds of “Who Am I?” I could not figure out that I was Mahlia Obama until Prairie Man started shouting relevant questions from another room. Of all the people I know, he might be in the best position to take on Kathbert in a Battle of the Brains. Anyway, we got home late and I did not burn away any of the extra 1200 calories I ate yesterday. My diet app helpfully told me that if I keep eating like that, in a few weeks I will weigh a ton. Thanks for that cheery Christmas thought, diet app. Today I am back to being good.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Work Party

Sorry that I still haven’t posted the video of the Christmas train or any of the other pictures I’ve taken lately. It’s such a busy time of the year, and soon I have to go to the East Side Club Christmas Party, so that will be something to blog about later. Right now I can blog briefly about our work Christmas party. It was at the Great Dane at Hilldale and took the whole afternoon. Because we were offsite, we could drink, but at first only a few people did. We had a white elephant exchange, and the gift I bought at the antique mall (a Sharon Osbourne bobblehead) was popular with one person, because he stole it from the person who first opened it. Then it turned out I got the gift he brought! It is a colorful but very primitive-style clay angel. There were some very strange gifts, like a macramé Santa shaped like a crescent moon and a long stick with a skull on the top. I should have stolen the Unicorn Farts, which was rainbow-colored cotton candy, since Travalon probably would have liked it. It ended up getting traded after the fact to someone who has kids, so that is fitting. There was a lot of post-game gift swapping going on. After about half the group had left, the big boss said he still had to spend some money to get to his minimum for the party, so we all had tequila shots. Eventually the restaurant kicked us out of our private room, since another group was coming, so a few diehards hung out in the bar area, where there was a big Christmas tree set up. I have it on good authority that the person who ended up with the macramé moon Santa hid him among the decorations on the tree, and none of the waitstaff noticed, so he will probably be there for the entire season. The person who told me this story said macramé moon Santa matched the décor on the tree, so he was well camouflaged. If you happen to go to the Great Dane at Hilldale, take a look and see if you can find macramé moon Santa. Heck, you can probably have him, if the waitstaff don’t yell at you for taking an ornament off the tree that was never supposed to be there in the first place.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Ukulele Jam

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Sorry that I haven’t written in so long, but it was a busy time. Thursday I was supposed to get together with Light Bright, but her toddler got sick (as they often do), so Travalon kindly brought me my ukulele, then we went to Lakeside for a light dinner, and then he went to a basketball game while I jammed with the ukulele group. Man, were there a lot of ukuleles there that night! Hundreds of them! We played Christmas songs, and some people had brought jingle bells, a slide whistle, and kazoos. Then I remembered that I too had a kazoo in my ukulele case, so I got to join in the fun! It was such a blast.

Friday Travalon and I watched a DVD about the Camino to Santiago, then we went downtown as usual, and then I actually talked him into going to Fired Up with me to make fused glass. He made a very cute dog that I will post soon, and I made a lame Christmas tree ornament. We had dinner at the restaurant in the same mall, then we went to Lakeside again to hear classical guitar. The brother-in-law of the Daughter of Denni was there, as always, and he is our favorite, but there were some other amazing guitarists there as well.

Saturday Travalon and I heard one song by a klezmer band, then we went to a balalaika orchestra concert. This was all free. We rode the holiday trolley again and had some chocolate. Travalon went to a basketball game while I took a walk to enjoy the beautiful day, then we went to the Chocolaterian to hear the Daughter of Denni’s band play. We ended the evening by going to a birthday party for one of Rich’s housemates. The other one is from Brazil, and he thinks I’m hilarious, so of course I like him.

Yesterday we watched that highly disappointing Packers game. I can understand that Rodgers is a little rusty from not playing for weeks, but it was painful to watch him throw three interceptions, and also to see the Panthers get a touchdown on a questionable call. Then Travalon and I went to the antique store to find a suitably cheap and cheesy gift for the white elephant gift exchange at my work Christmas party on Wednesday, and then we went to the jazz jam at the Rigby. We had only heard a couple of songs when Travalon got a text that our glass pieces were ready to pick up, so we got them, and then we had dinner at Bahn Thai again because Travalon loves the red curry duck dish so much. I tried it too, and it really is delicious. Finally we went home and watched a couple of Christmas episodes of Keeping Up Appearances, always a hilarious show. Hyacinth sent herself Christmas cards just so she could brag to the postman that she had gotten over one hundred of them. Who has the energy to care that much what other people think about them? 

Famous Hat

Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekend of Concerts

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Sorry for not blogging in so long – I have just been so busy at work that my desire to sit in front of a computer and blog in the evening is much reduced. Also, I was busy most evenings: Tuesday we went to Taco Night, and Wednesday I actually went to choir practice for the first time in eons. Thursday I had to pick Travalon up from the car dealer; his satellite radio had stopped working, and the people who installed it couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so they told him to take the car into the dealer.

Friday Travalon and I went down to campus, and we went to Mass for Immaculate Conception at the new St. Paul’s chapel. It is so beautiful! Then we read in the Periodicals Room, and then Tiffy came to town. She and I drove Travalon to pick up his car; the dealer couldn’t find a problem with the car to explain his satellite radio issues, but at least they didn’t charge Travalon anything. The three of us went to Bahn Thai for dinner, then Tiffy and I met Rich at the Handbell Choir Christmas Concert, and Travalon sent a text saying he had tried plugging in a wire to his satellite radio, and now it works! How funny that the people who installed it couldn’t figure it out.

Saturday I met Tiffy and Rich for coffee, then we went to the Capital to see the State Christmas Tree, and then we had lunch at Himal Chuli. Tiffy and I went to a free Horn Choir Christmas Concert at the art museum, and we saw a protest with a giant inflatable chicken that looked a little like Trump. We did some Christmas shopping on State Street and then met some Slow Food people for dinner at an Italian place on Wilson Street. We were a little early, so we looked at furniture at Rubins – in the lower part they have swanky stuff, but up in the loft they have all sorts of random things, so that was fun. After dinner Tiffy and I went to the Madison Bach Musicians’ Christmas Concert, which was wonderful as always. They did Vivaldi’s “Winter” and a Bach cantata for the First Sunday after Epiphany, among other things.

Yesterday after Mass Travalon, Tiffy, and I had brunch at the Peruvian restaurant on State Street, and that was really good. They gave us free samples of their supercaffeinated coffee, so then I was totally wired during that nail biter of a Packers game. Afterwards I felt kind of icky, because while of course I wanted the Packers to win, the Browns fans must have been so devastated to be up two touchdowns, only to lose in overtime. They really thought they were going to get their first win of the season, and the Browns really did play better than the Packers. How sad to think that we are now evenly matched with the worst team in the league! I would have felt better if we had decisively beaten them and not given them so much hope. It seems weird to think that our playoff hopes are still faintly alive, when we have barely won the last couple of games. However, they say Rodgers might be back next week, so maybe then we will do better. The problem is that our defense is so weak that we need to score a lot of points to win, because we can’t stop the other team from scoring. I don’t think we are Super Bowl bound this year… 

Famous Hat

Monday, December 4, 2017

Travalon's Birthday and the Christmas Train

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday was Travalon’s birthday, so we started the day at MNM Coffee, where he got a free scoop of ice cream. We drove to Sauk to see eagles; none were out and about, but we had a lovely hike on the new trail they put in where the defunct railroad tracks used to be, along the river. Then we drove beautiful Highway 60 to Spring Green, which is the Birthday Town: Travalon got free lunch at the café, 20% off a book at the little bookstore and a FREE book at the library, a free drink at Freddy Valentine’s, a free cookie at the tea shop, and 20% off a journal at another shop. We walked all over town and got so many steps that day! Then we rushed to Wollersheim Distillery and got there not long before it closed so that he could get his favorite drink, an Apple Cream (apple brandy with cream soda). We came back to town and went through the Zoo Lights, which were magical, and then I said I would take him to dinner anywhere, so he chose David’s Jamaican. As my regular readers may remember, they catered our wedding, so they remember us fondly and gave us a HUGE slice of key lime pie for his birthday.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich and some other people downtown for coffee, then we rode the free Holiday Trolley down State Street and around the Capital. We went into the Capital to see the State Christmas Tree, then we used some coupons they had given us on the trolley at the State Historical Society store and Fontana Sports. Jilly Moose had asked if we were having a party for Travalon; he’s not a big party person, but I emailed some people to see if they wanted to meet for lunch at McGee’s soul food restaurant, and almost everyone but Jilly Moose could make it. Even the Married B-Boy came with his five-year-old daughter, who decided she adored me. What did this mean for me? That I had to run for several blocks to keep up with her as she held my hand, and then she still had the energy to run back! Having children would either kill me or get me into excellent shape! Travalon got lots of great gifts, including a book about historic gas stations by the guy who did the historic tavern one we followed from Jilly Moose and OK Cap, and a shirt that says: "I can't stay calm - I'm Croatian!" from Cecil Markovitch. In the evening Travalon went to a concert with a friend, so Hockey Girl and I went to the Chocolaterian and then a classical guitar concert. There was a very loud bat that either loved or hated the music – we couldn’t tell if it were complaining or singing along. It especially loved/hated Bach and Japanese music.

Yesterday I was very grumpy, so when the Packers were stinking it up, I told Travalon that I really had to get outside. Since it was so beautiful, and we were recording the game anyway, he went on a hike with me along the Yahara River. Then the Packers were playing better, but when we started watching them again, they started to stink again. Travalon drove me downtown for the annual All-University Choir Concert, and we heard the “end” of the game, but it went into overtime. I went to the concert, and as I was waiting for it to start, Travalon texted to say they won!! This was good news for Wisconsin, since the Badgers lost their first game of the season the night before, and it was a really important one, the Big Ten Championship. They can never beat Ohio State… The concert was wonderful and included “Tota Pulchra Es” by Durufle and that old classic “Riu Riu Chiu,” as well as another noisy bat. That’s the danger when you have concerts in beautiful old churches. After the concert Travalon and I met back up and went to see the Canadian Pacific Christmas Train. It had already gotten to Watertown when we got there, so Travalon suggested we try to beat it to Columbus. We saw it take off and thought maybe it had beaten us to Columbus, but we saw some other people pulled over by the tracks, and they said, “It’s just coming now.” Readers, you will be ecstatic to know that I got a really fantastic movie of the train going by, just feet away from me. It’s all lit up and beautiful and playing (don’t ask me why) the Jackson 5. The movie is almost four minutes long, but I should be able to post it to this blog, so look for that in the near future. 

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Photos

Sorry that I haven't blogged in several days. It's our busy time at work, and so the last thing I want to do most evenings is get back on the computer. Travalon and I have been watching old episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati most evenings, but there are only four seasons, and we are almost done, so we'll have to find a new hobby. I do have to say that God is always doing me little favors, like on Tuesday at Taco Night they played a song that seemed familiar, and I wondered what it was but had no idea how I'd ever figure it out... and then yesterday I discovered it was on a CD Travalon bought for me on Small Business Saturday! It's a CD of samba music (yes, I've moved on for the moment from salsa), and the song is "Soul Bossa Nova" by Quincy Jones and his orchestra.

I do have some pictures. This first one is V05 when they played for free at the Overture Center. You can sort of see their disco outfits.

This picture is me, Ethel, and her friend who really did not want her photo taken at the Badger football game.

Travalon and I bought a little stuffed German Shepherd to support the Madison K-9 force, and he named it Dieter. Right now this is the only dog we have.

Here are some not so good photos of animals. In this first one, you can kind of see the owl in the tree we saw while hiking at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

If you look closely toward the top of the tree in this photo, you can see two bald eagles sitting next to each other. They must be mates.

Here is a slightly better photo of the red panda at the zoo. Travalon got way better pictures of it.

And finally, as promised, a photo of my magenta Christmas cactus that is now blooming at work.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 27, 2017

Funeral for a Cool Lady

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I was still under the weather but managed to sing at a funeral Saturday morning while Travalon shopped on State Street for Small Business Saturday. I didn’t know the woman who died, but she sounded like she had a very cool, long life. She taught English to the crown prince and princess of Japan back in the 50’s or 60’s! (I can’t remember the details exactly.) The priest who presided at her funeral Mass had come over from Nigeria and gone into the seminary here, and she and her husband “adopted” him and treated him like one of their kids. Because her parents were from Scotland, there was a bagpipe to end the funeral. Then Travalon, Richard Bonomo, and I went for a hike at Cherokee Marsh, since it was such a lovely day, and then Rich had us over, along with Kathbert, for Thanksgiving leftovers.

Yesterday was a disappointing day. We have never had a bad time at brunch at Plaka, and the food is good and reasonably priced, but yesterday they brought us only one of our orders. I could forgive the initial mistake, but they kept saying, “Are you SURE you didn’t get the second order? The kitchen says they made it!” Finally they figured out it had gone to another table (since we had ordered the same thing), so we waited forever and FINALLY got the second order… and then we had to ask them to give us a discount after having to wait an hour! After that I got some disappointing news from a relative. The third disappointing thing was that Packer game – not a disaster like last week, but so achingly close to winning. However, the weather was no disappointment, and so Travalon and I went to Sauk and hiked on the new trail where the defunct railroad tracks were. We saw two eagles sitting together in a tree, and then one of them flew right over us before landing in the tree again. Then they made all sorts of noise. No disappointment as far as eagle watching yesterday!

Famous Hat

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope my readers had a good Thanksgiving. Travalon and I went to Oconomowoc to see his mother, who had the same cold we had. While we were there, Travalon called his elderly cousin in California, the one we visited in September, and then she and my mother-in-law chatted on the phone. It was so cute to listen to two people who have been friends for seventy years talk to each other! Then Travalon and I went for a hike near Rock Lake, since it was such a beautiful day.

In the afternoon Richard Bonomo hosted his usual crazy dinner, with eighteen people (I think) in attendance. As usual, Travalon and I provided the turkey, and people brought all sorts of salads and side dishes. For dessert we had Rich’s famous chocolate mousse, but the guy who usually brings way too many types of pies is recovering from a bad accident, so he was only able to make butterscotch pudding. That’s okay, how many desserts did we really need? I spent much of dinner talking to a Slow Food person I hadn’t seen in ages, plus a very energetic and entertaining seven-year-old and, to a lesser extent, his four-year-old brother. Before dinner I had played a board game with the boys and their mother, and it was somewhat like Chutes and Ladders, but the writing was in Chinese, so when we landed on a square with instructions, we just made stuff up, like, “Here you do the Chicken Dance,” and, “Here you do the Bunny Hop.” After most people had left, we discovered an amaryllis bulb encased in gold-colored plastic. How weird is that?? The top was sticking out, so it could have bloomed, but there was no way for it to grow roots. Rich’s neighbor freed the bulb from the odd gold encasement, and I took it home and stuck it in a pot. I will post pictures when and if it blooms.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 20, 2017

Whooping Cranes in Madtown!?!

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine was pretty low-key, since Travalon and I both had colds. I did have coffee with Rich and OK Cap on Saturday morning, and then OK Cap and I prayed the rosary. Then Tiffy came to town, and she, Rich, and I went to a new restaurant called Jardin with some other Slow Food people. It is a "foodie" restaurant but surprisingly affordable, and the red snapper was delicious. Not only that, but the hot toddy they made for me really did make me feel better.

Yesterday as Travalon and I were waiting at Crema Cafe for Tiffy to join us, I saw five very large, beautiful white birds flying over Lake Monona. I wondered what they were but soon forgot about it as we had brunch and then went to Bowlavard to watch what might be the worst Packer game I have ever seen in my life. The opening drive was so promising, until Hundley threw an interception in the end zone. That shouldn't have been the end of the world, but he seemed to lose all confidence after that and threw three more interceptions. The Packers didn't even score a single point! At least the defense was holding the Ravens back in the first half... and then they fell apart too. I guess we can kiss this season goodbye but hey, at least the Badgers are undefeated in football. (Possibly women's hockey too.) After Tiffy left, Travalon wanted to go to the zoo because he said seeing the red panda would cheer him up, and the little creature did not disappoint. It was asleep when we got there, but it must have heard us talking, so it got up, climbed onto a tree branch, and got as close to us as it could. Then we went to see the polar bear, and it came up to the glass too. The bison and giraffes were less interested in us. In the evening Richard Bonomo and I went to a boys' choir concert at the Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest, and all the music was Schuetz, Schein (no Scheidt), Bach, and Mendelssohn. I knew all but one piece and had sung many of them, mostly in the OTHER choir director's choir back in the day. The choir came from Leipzig, where they have existed since 1212. Can you believe the current director is only the 17th one since Bach was director there?? Crazy!

Today I felt worse and stayed home sick, but I was going kind of stir crazy, and the weather was mild, so I went for a rosary walk with Ma Hat's cuddly rosary. I heard a sound like puppies yelping, and it was a bigger flock of those large white birds, maybe a dozen of them. They looked like sandhill cranes, only larger and white with black wing tips. I must apologize to you, my readers, because I was so mesmerized by these lovely birds that I forgot to try to get a video to share with you, not that it would have looked like much. Then another flock of a dozen or so flew overhead! When I got home, I commenced a live chat with a DNR naturalist who confirmed that they were most likely whooping cranes. I had suspected it, and had seen them a couple of times in the marsh around here, but people said they were so rare that I must be mistaken. This lady said oh yes, they are in town. How crazy is that? Whooping cranes in Madtown!

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Whoops, I Went to Work!

I don’t know if you are anything like me, but we all have anxiety dreams, and I often have one in which I forget to go to work and don’t think of it until 11 in the morning. So far this has never happened to me in real life, but yesterday I did just the opposite – I showed up for work on my day off! What happened was that several weeks ago the woman who covers for me on Fridays asked if I could work this coming Friday, so I decided to take Wednesday off instead. I put it on my calendar but didn’t set an alarm, so I completely forgot about it. Yesterday morning I woke up and really didn’t want to go to work, but I wasn’t even a little bit sick, so I felt funny calling in. Plus I had a lot to do. I reluctantly went to work, and midway through the morning a coworker noted that I was marked out on the all-staff calendar. I said, “That must be a mistake – I meant to do that next week. Does it say I am here on Friday?” and she said yes. At that point I still didn’t remember that I wasn’t supposed to be there until seeing the woman who covers for me on Fridays, and then I said, “I was supposed to take today off and work on Friday, wasn’t I?” She said that since I had already been at work for several hours, I should just take half a day off and then come in for half a day on Friday, so that is what I am doing. Now I am wondering if my reluctance to go to work was some part of my subconscious remembering that I wasn’t actually supposed to go to work that day. Who knows? The moral of the story is: always set an alarm on your calendar events that are out of the ordinary. Whoever heard of someone forgetting and coming into work on their day off?

Famous Hat

Monday, November 13, 2017

Great Football Weekend

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I hung out on campus, as we have been doing, and we got stuck in an elevator at the Historical Society! The door didn’t open, and we couldn’t get it open from the inside, so we pressed the emergency button. A guy spoke to us and said he was going to have to call the fire department, so then Travalon and I were feeling a bit like everywhere we go, the fire department shows up: first the brewery when we ordered pizza, then the All Saints’ Mass, and now this. However, we heard some people outside the elevator, so we pounded on the door and they had no problem opening it from the outside. I got the guy back on the line and said we didn’t need to be rescued anymore. Hopefully that is the last of the fire department showing up wherever we are…

Saturday my old friend Ethel came to town with another friend of hers and four free tickets to the Badger Game! Travalon didn’t mind going with three ladies, since it was such an exciting game – we really didn’t know what would happen, since Iowa had destroyed Ohio State the week before. The Badgers did prevail, although at first it wasn’t a sure thing – right away they threw an interception, and Iowa ran it back for a touchdown! Ouch! It was so good to see Ethel again. She is very busy with five kids, but her husband came home with the tickets and said he couldn’t go, so she should go with friends. I guess someone at work gave them to him. Ethel made her older kids babysit, and one of them kept calling her during the game when something really exciting would happen. She also recorded most of the Fifth Quarter, when the band performs, for him.

Sunday Travalon, Rich, and I were invited to a party thrown by our realtor to thank all her clients past and present. Travalon and I played five holes of miniature golf, and I scored 17, so as you can see golf is not my game either. After lunch at the party, we went home and watched the Packers finally win with Hundley at quarterback. To add to the sweet taste of victory, it was our ancient rivals the Bears on their home turf, so I believe now the Packers are up one game in this oldest rivalry in the NFL. The Bears were good for years in the 80s when we were very bad, so we had a lot of catching up to do, even with Favre and Rodgers as quarterbacks. Then Travalon and I went for a hike at Holy Wisdom Monastery. I hadn’t noticed when we hiked there last year that you can get a really good view of Lake Mendota from the top of the hill. They have a little pond on their land, so we hiked around that as far as we could go. Some of it seems to be private property, and some is torn up. They are apparently doing some sort of prairie restoration project there. The weather was pretty mild for this time of year, but unfortunately the sun never came out. Oh well, we will enjoy these mild days while they last!

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Late Autumn Photos

Sorry that I haven't blogged in so long. Tuesday I was at a Diversity Forum all day, and then in the evening Travalon and I went out for 75 cent tacos. Yesterday I was very tired. None of that is interesting, so instead let me share some recent photos with you. The first one is a rather blurry shot that Rich took of himself, Tiffy, and me at the corn maze.

Next are a couple of shots of Rich's jack-o-lantern this year, which was a sine wave (?).

This is a beautiful sunset from our dock. The photo doesn't really do it justice, but you can see how the colors were reflected in the water.

Here is the animalito that Travalon and I made! It kind of looks like Rodney.

My train painting wasn't quite as successful. I am much better at depicting animals than trains.

This was a random piece of art (?) we found on the Ice Age Trail.

Here is a shot up the side of the bluff on the Ice Age Trail. You can see the interesting rock formations along the side and top of the hill.

And finally, my semiannual shot of my white Christmas cactus blooming. (It's not really a Christmas cactus - it always blooms around Halloween.) The magenta one is covered with buds, so soon it should be in full bloom.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 6, 2017

Farewell to the Boat for the Winter

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I took advantage of the relatively good weather to go on a long hike on the relatively new Lower Yahara Trail. According to the signs, it was a mile-long boardwalk along the edge of Lake Waubesa, and then another mile to the Lussier Center. However, when we got done, my phone said we had walked seven miles. Where did the extra three miles come from?? We saw tons of coots on the lake. Then we went downtown and checked out the beautiful Historical Society Library. There was a Free Art Friday session at the Union, so Travalon and I made a little “animalito” that kind of looks like Rodney, and we each painted a railroad crossing scene. We ended the evening with dinner at Nick’s on State Street.

Saturday was more of a busy day than a fun one. It wasn’t so nice out, but Travalon and I had to get the boat off the water sometime, so we took it to the School Road landing, where Rich was waiting for us. Then we tried to take it to the place to get winterized, but they were not open, although Travalon had the impression they would be open until four that day. We had to replace the rope on the winch, and there is a flat tire on the trailer, so this all took some work. Then Rich kindly hung up the plant lights from my old setup of Plant World on the ceiling of our plant room. We thanked him by taking him to dinner at Banzo.

Yesterday Travalon and I went for a hike on another section of the Ice Age Trail, this one with a steep bluff at the beginning. I got up it with only minimal panic but figured I could never go back down that way. Luckily we found a road that went down in a much less scary manner. Then we went to Union South and bowled, an activity I have not participated in for decades. Travalon is a decent bowler and averages 120 a game. I generally really stink but wasn’t as bad this time, probably because they had bumpers along the edge so you couldn’t get a gutter ball. This was only the fourth time I’d ever bowled in my life, and Travalon says we will do more of it this winter, so we’ll see if maybe I improve and can even leave the bumpers off…

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fire Alarm at the Candlelight Mass

Sorry that I haven't blogged in several days. Tuesday night Travalon and I went to the Club Tavern for 75 cent tacos, and while most people were not in costume, we did see a pumpkin, a vampire rising out of a coffin, a guy with a chicken on his head, another guy with a glowing skull mask, and several costumes which we couldn't identify. We were Halloween humbugs ourselves and did not wear costumes, but Travalon did buy some candy corn at the Walgreens across the street.

Last night for All Saints we went to the 9 pm candlelight Mass put on by the University Catholic Center, but since their Bauhaus Basilica was torn down and is being replaced by something that actually looks like a church, they are holding their Masses at the Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest. My longtime readers may remember that I used to sing in the choir there, and it is such a beautiful church that I always dreamed of attending an actual Mass there. How fitting to go there on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, with a priest who is a convert from Lutheranism presiding. There was a lot of chanting, and I thought it was so beautiful that I cried through part of it, but Travalon didn't like the dark or the Latin. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Just as people were going up to communion, we heard a distant fire alarm, and I assumed it was in one of the high-rise buildings that has sprung up around Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest in recent years. However, a firetruck pulled up outside the front door, and firemen streamed into the narthex and down into the basement, so the fire alarm must have been in some other part of the church. Travalon and I were starting to feel like everywhere we go, there's a fire alarm. This one must not have been anything serious, because the Millennials at the Mass kept looking back anxiously at the firetruck, but they processed up to the communion rail as if nothing were happening out of the ordinary, and nobody ever said we had to evacuate. Eventually the alarm was turned off and the firetruck drove away. Then Travalon and I went home and watched the Astros win their first ever World Series.

Since I haven't blogged in so long, I will make it up to you, my readers, by sharing some random thoughts. In my humble opinion, 2017 has been a great year for music. My jam right now is "Mi Gente," and not just because all the proceeds go to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. I'm also really liking that "Sorry Not Sorry" song by Demi Lovato. Other songs I have liked this year include "Feels" by Calvin Harris, "No Fear" by DeJ Loaf, "Unforgettable" by French Montana, and anything by DJ Khaled.

I am really getting fed up with these astrologically themed internet tests. Tiffy and I took one on Sunday based on what sweets we like, and it said she was a Gemini and I was a Sagittarius. Astute readers of this blog will remember that, in fact, I am a Capricorn and she is a Virgo, so that was not particularly accurate, but who cares? However, more alarmingly I took one a couple of days ago to find out what sign I shouldn't date, and it said Sagittarius. Since Travalon is a Sagittarius, and I dated him (one might say very successfully), this is either a bad omen or proof that these tests are complete hooey. I will let Rich the Typical Aquarius weigh in on this important question.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 30, 2017

Corn Maze and Pizza Emergency

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had a wonderful one. Saturday morning I met Rich and OK Cap for coffee, then we ladies prayed a rosary. Rich, Jilly Moose, and Tiffy joined us for lunch at Himal Chuli. Then Tiffy, Rich, Travalon (who had to work in the morning), and I went on our annual trip to the corn maze. This year it was a trilobite, and it seemed to be sponsored by the University’s Geology Museum, because they had put up signs at each map station with a fast fact about trilobites. The map is divided into eight pieces, and you only get the first piece and then have to go to the station marked on it to get the next one. Plus there are ten secret punches… and we found them all! Our status as Maze Masters remains unchanged.

Yesterday Tiffy and I went to brunch at Stella Blu Café, then we went on a hike with Rich at the Arboretum. Travalon was visiting his family. In the evening he and I went to the Parched Eagle for a beer and a pizza, but some cheese fell off of the pizza in the oven and apparently caused enough smoke to set off the fire alarm for the entire building. Since the Parched Eagle is one business on the ground level of an apartment complex, lots of people were streaming out onto the sidewalks to see what was going on, and one guy got a beer as long as he was just standing there. Our pizza was just fine, so Travalon and I ate it sitting at a table outside; the air was a bit cool, but the fire alarm was piercing inside the building. The Waunakee Fire Department arrived and laughed about all the trouble a pizza caused, after they turned off the alarm. So that was our big excitement for Sunday evening.  

Famous Hat

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday on Campus

Yesterday evening Travalon and I went to an event at the Union pairing different craft beers with delectable appetizers created by the Union catering staff. My favorite beer was the O'so Infectious Groove, a sour beer, which was paired with a chicken and waffle bite that Travalon loved. But really, it was all good. We sat at a table with a bunch of people we didn't know, but we all bonded over our love of craft beer. One guy even said we all should sit together at the same table when the Union has their beer and chocolate pairing in February. There was a raffle during the event, and one couple at our table won free tickets to the event in February. Travalon and I went to it last year, and we can vouch for how wonderful it is. Chocolate AND beer? What's not to love?

Today was my day off of work, but we had to get up early to take my car into the shop. Then we went to the Lakeside for coffee, and then we hung out on campus for a few hours. First we went to the Memorial Library Periodicals Reading Room, where I read a fascinating article about requests and commands in a dying Alaskan language that reminded me why I got a degree in Linguistics. We also went to the Historical Society, the Red Gym, the Union, and the Presbyterian chapel. They had "Free Art Friday" at the Union, so we each drew a monster. The shop said they had to get a part for my car, so they gave me a loaner car with satellite radio and excellent bass - so wonderful! We went to the Southern style fish fry at the East Side Club, and on the way home I couldn't stop laughing about how Tiffy hates random stuff, as if I don't. She hates 50's doo-wop music and Maurice Chevalier, so I said her nightmare would sound like this: "Thank Heaven for little girls - bop she bop she bop!" Don't ask me why this amused me so much, but Travalon thought it was funny too. I think it's the Maurice Chevalier part that gets me; while I don't hate 50's music, I can understand not liking it, but why hate an actor who may have been dead before we were even born? Seriously, would the average Millennial even have any idea who he is? I barely do.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Double Rainbow vs. Glorious Sunset

I don't have much to say today, nor do I have much time to say it, since my computer wasn't working earlier. Rich helped me get it working again, but then Travalon and I went out for tacos and then we went swimming at the health club. Anyway, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure. The first one is a colorful stained glass window at Holy Hill:

This is a beautiful stream along the Ice Age Trail:

Sunday as Travalon and I were coming home from Lake Kegonsa State Park, we saw an amazing double rainbow arching over the eastern side of the sky, and a glorious sunset that went from golden to pink in the west. I didn't know which way to look! Here are some photos of the sights:

Famous Hat

Monday, October 23, 2017

Boat Rides and a Badger Game

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I went for a long boat ride, but it was very windy so the boat got tossed around quite a bit. It was a little more exciting than either of us really liked! We were trying to get to the Tenney Locks, but we decided to stick close to the shore, and that way we got to explore Warner Bay. It was such a beautiful day. In the evening we went to the Hop Garden for their fish fry. It was outside, and they had a fire pit blazing and a band playing. We won’t get too many more outdoor meals this year so we have to enjoy them while we can. Their pumpkin beer was delicious.

Saturday Travalon had gotten really affordable tickets to the Badger football game, and we thought they were perfectly good seats – a little on an angle, but we could see the whole field clearly. The Badgers trounced Maryland. At one point during halftime, they presented an award to a young woman, and then her boyfriend dropped to his knees in front of her, and she nodded yes! We had taken the Come Back In bus to the game, so afterwards we had a snack there, then we took a much shorter boat ride into the marsh. We saw a muskrat house, and when I said I thought they were called “lodges,” Travalon said, “It’s the muskrat lodge, resort, and conference center,” which I thought was hilarious. Then we noticed a whole bunch of other muskrat lodges – a whole muskrat village! We ended the evening with delicious pizza from Murphy’s, overlooking the marsh.

Yesterday the weather was much worse, cooler and it rained all day. We stayed inside and watched the Packer game with high hopes for Hundley as quarterback. The first half he looked really good and even scrambled for a touchdown, but then the second half the defense fell apart and the offense couldn’t get anything going. It’s like McCarthy doesn’t trust Hundley to throw, even though he had the most completed passes in UCLA history, or something like that. They will have to try something different next week for sure. Then Travalon and I went for a hike at Kegonsa State Park, despite the drizzle, and after that we drove around the lake and discovered a park that used to be a carp farm in the 30’s. I said I thought it was the spot where Rich and I ended our epic canoe trip down the Yahara many years ago. So I have been up the Yahara to where Token Creek splits off, and down it to where it empties into Lake Kegonsa. There is a lot more of it both north and south to explore. Maybe next summer…

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The View from Holy Hill

Last night Hockey Girl and I went to a concert in which a bunch of students played Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, and they were amazing! I used to listen to a lot of Vivaldi in my mid-twenties, more L'Estro Armonico than The Four Seasons, but definitely anything by the Red Priest, and this made me think I should pull out those old CDs and listen again. They started with "Fall" instead of "Spring," which is how I usually hear it, to match the actual season I suppose, but I liked that because it ended with the fiery final movement of "Summer." Viva Vivaldi!

Today I used a floating holiday to take the day off of work and join Travalon in taking his mother to Holy Hill. We do this every October, and today was a beautiful day to do it. However, it was also quite windy, so when Travalon and I tried to go up to the top of the bell tower, we stopped at the first open level. I could have gone up higher, but that is not the issue - coming back down is! I was afraid that with the fierce wind I would be far too terrified to go down the open staircase. The view was amazing even from the lower level, and we could see the skyscrapers of downtown Milwaukee thirty miles away. We also went to Pike Lake State Park, and Travalon and I hiked on part of the Ice Age Trail after we took his mother back home. My regular readers will be stunned to learn that I bought two rosaries at the Holy Hill gift shop, but I had a prepaid Visa card from doing a health assessment at work, so it was like getting free rosaries. One is an Irish rosary, and I have a sub-collection of those now, at least three and probably more. The other one is a one-decade wooden rosary with a tau cross for the crucifix; it is supposed to be a bracelet, but it is far too large for me to wear it that way, so I thought about using it as an anklet but finally decided I would use it as a "walking rosary." It should work well to use on my lunchtime rosary walks. We encountered a priest as we left the shrine, and he happily blessed my rosaries. I am not sure how many of my other ones are actually blessed...

Famous Hat

Monday, October 16, 2017

Aaron Rodgers and Buddy Guy

I hope my readers had a good weekend. After I blogged on Saturday, Travalon and I watched the Badger game, which had a very good outcome, and then we went to see a honkey tonk band at the Lakeside Café. I was in a strange mood and kept feeling like something bad was going to happen. With all the stuff going on in the world, who knew what that meant? But then I thought maybe it was the oppressive weather.

Yesterday I was feeling a little under the weather, so we went to the Mass near our house, then we watched the Packers game and saw Aaron Rodgers the quarterback get injured. And he might be out for the season! And after that they couldn't get anything going and they lost to the Vikings! This is terrible news, but right after that my bleak mood lifted, so that must have been the bad thing I somehow felt would happen, and compared to what bad things could happen, it’s far from the worst thing imaginable. After the game Travalon and I went for a walk beside Tiedemann Pond, then we went to see Wonder Woman, which is a really good movie, and then we saw Buddy Guy play at the Overture Center. He cheered me up completely – he is so funny! And talented, of course. So today, even though I had to go back to work, the black cloud had lifted from over my head, and I feel lighthearted. Plus the sun is out – that always helps. 

Famous Hat

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Japanese Garden in Rockford

Yesterday Travalon and I went to Rockford and had lunch at the Beefaroo, then we went to the Anderson Japanese Garden. We went through it once, then we looked at the map they had given us and realized we had gone through it backwards, so we went through it again and paid attention to each special feature. Afterwards we went to the Sinissippi Garden further down the road, so it was a very botanical day for us.

Today I had a gig at the orchard where my band plays every autumn, but the proprietress tried to cancel because the weather was so lousy. We didn't know, so we showed up and played for an hour anyway, and she gave us each a bag of apples for our troubles. It was so cold and wet that my fingers did not want to cooperate, but it hardly mattered because our audience basically consisted of our fiddler's two preteen grandkids.

Here are some photos from our adventures since returning from California. This first one is a cactus at the Nature Conservancy land near Spring Green with a couple of fruits on it.

Next are some shots from High Cliff State Park and, of course, Lambeau Field.

This next shot is of Travalon as the ferry arrived at the port on Washington Island.

Next, the old water tower on Rock Island:

This is the inside of the boathouse on Rock Island. Some Icelandic guy was going to make the island a resort way back in the day, and he built this beautiful building. I did not get a good shot of the outside of it, sorry.

Someone got a little creative with the rocks on the aptly-named Rock Island:

This is a beautiful view from the port on Washington Island:

On Washington Island there is a lake called Little Lake, presumably because it is on an island in the Big Lake:

Here are shots of the outside and inside of the stave church on Washington Island:

This boat looks like it goes with the stave church! It mysteriously appeared at the marina across the river from us.

Here is a shot of the Japanese garden in Rockford.

This is the gravel garden. It had a more scalloped pattern earlier, but the second time we went through, they had changed it to little squares like farm fields.

Finally, two videos! The first one is of the whitecaps on Lake Michigan as we were taking the ferry across it to Washington Island.

This is a "deer chaser" in the Japanese garden. It fills with water and then makes a loud clunk as it hits the basin. These were traditionally used to frighten deer out of gardens in Japan.

Famous Hat