Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Birthday Picnic for the Daughter of Denni

I hope my readers had a great weekend. I sure did. Friday Travalon and I met Cali for the dance on the Monona Terrace rooftop. The band this time played reggae and other tropical rhythms. We also enjoyed the DJ between bands but didn’t stay for the second band. We drove Cali to Sun Prairie and stopped for chicken wings at a hotel in town.

Saturday Travalon and I went to the new west side Chocolatarian, then we went for a walk around Tiedemann Pond, then we went to Marshall Park, and then we met Tiffy and Rich for lunch at  Sofra’s in Middleton. We thought about renting a pontoon boat from the Marshall Park boat rental, but Rich had too much to do, so the rest of us decided to go for a ride in our little boat. Our neighbor was about to take out his sailboat, so he gave us a ride! However, there wasn’t much wind so we didn’t really sail. Then Tiffy and I went to Eno Vino for dinner, and we joined Hockey Girl, Travalon, and Twins Fan at Collectivo, where we sat outside and talked about random things like stock photos.

Sunday Travalon went to Oconomowoc to visit his family. After Mass Tiffy and I joined some other people at Plaka for brunch, then we discovered $6 pontoon boat rides on Lake Mendota. Was that ever wonderful! We went to the outdoor theater for a picnic for the birthday of the Daughter of Denni, and then we all watched Cyrano de Bergerac. It is a very sad play.

Yesterday Tiffy and I took the day off of work, and we went to Miko Poke for lunch. A poke bowl is a typical Hawaiian dish with raw tuna, rice, and edamame. It was so good! Then we went paddle boating on Lake Wingra, but it was so windy that they told us we could only go in one direction. I guess that was the day we should have gone sailing! We had a beer on the patio at Waypoint, then she headed home and I went to Mass for the day of obligation and then met Rich and Light Bright for dinner at Pasqual’s. Again we sat outside. I love being able to eat outside and get on the water! Why can’t it always be summer?

Famous Hat

Friday, August 11, 2017

Central Park Sessions: Latin Music

Yesterday I went back to the Central Park Sessions for Latin Music Night. I met Travalon there, and we tried some of the different food carts as a salsa band played on the main stage. Then a really good band played in the beer tent while the next main stage act got ready. They were an electronic music group from Mexico City, and we weren’t as crazy about their music. Hockey Girl joined us, and she wasn’t too crazy about the electronic music either, but after that band finished, the really good group in the beer tent started up again. The headliner group was Cuban, and their music was fantastic. Hockey Girl said she hadn’t had high expectations, but she really loved them. Travalon was tired, so he headed home and stopped to get drunken donuts (flavors: gin and juice, lavender margarita, Potosi Steamboat Shandy – which is one of Travalon’s favorite beers – and vanilla bean old fashioned), while Hockey Girl and I stayed to the end. She said how beautiful the park was in the dark with the vendors’ tents lit up. Finally we called it a night, and when I got home, Travalon and I tried a couple of the donuts. We had the other two for breakfast today. Wow, are they good! They were made by Dough Baby on State Street. One of their flavors for August is a Key Lime donut, so we may have to stop by before the month is over.

Famous Hat

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Central Park Session: Bluegrass

Yesterday Hockey Girl and I went to Central Park to hear a couple of bluegrass bands. The opening band was a local one, and they had a ton of people: a banjo, a guitar, a bass, a mandolin, a fiddle, and a Dobro. They were really good. There were all sorts of food vendors, so I had some jerk chicken for dinner. It was such a beautiful night. The second band were from Nashville, and they were amazing. When I tried to put on social media that I was at the concert, I saw a number of other events going on in the area, and one was peace lanterns at Tenney Park, so when the band went on break, Hockey Girl and I headed over there. The lanterns were beautiful, floating in the lagoon, but people in canoes were just taking them off the water as we got there. They were to commemorate the atom bombs dropped on Japan. There was even a musical group there, so we got to hear lots of music last night. Tonight I’m going back again for Latin music!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Love Tennis

Isn’t it funny how you can thoroughly enjoy something you have no natural aptitude for? In general, people like things that come naturally to them, and I am no exception, but for tennis. Oh tennis, why do I love you so? Last night Travalon and I played again, and if we had to play by the rules, it probably would have been no fun. However, our goal is just to get the ball over the net, and then it is so much fun. I am slowly improving as we play more, and even my backhand stroke is getting better. I was surprised at how much control I had over a lot of my shots. Playing tennis makes me so happy, and it always has. Do I have hopelessly preppy tastes without preppy money? I love tennis and boating. It sounds so bourgeois, but neither really costs that much: there are plenty of public tennis courts, and if you have a little boat, then boating is cheap too. Why should rich people have all the fun? Anyone who wants to play tennis or go boating, let me know. I’m almost always up for either one!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Missing Light Bright's Inspiration

I don’t miss my old job, except for one thing: delivering the mail with Light Bright, when we got to walk about a mile, and we would discuss what I should blog about each day. She often came up with brilliant ideas, and I could use that now. The only thing remotely exciting that happened to me last night was when Travalon and I were coming back from swimming at the health club, and a deer leapt in front of our car. I have seen them on the side of the road before, but that was the closest either of us has ever gotten to hitting one… and hopefully it remains the closest! Light Bright might have had some great insight from that event, or she might have done something goofy on our mail delivery walk. She was a font of interesting blog topics. I could use that mail walk, too – it’s tough to sit still at work all day after a weekend of constant motion. Maybe Rich is right and I should figure out a way to row across the lake to work – that would get this need to move out of my system! My little half-hour walk at lunch just isn’t enough exercise for a whole day.

Famous Hat

Monday, August 7, 2017

Epic Canoe Trip on the Yahara River

I hope my readers had a good weekend and got to enjoy the cooler weather. Friday I took off of work for the Daughter of Denni’s annual bike pub crawl, but the weather was so cool, wet, and windy that I decided to just drive from bar to bar with Travalon. We did end up walking from the Olbrich Beer Garden to a woman's house, a lovely two-mile walk along the shores of Lake Monona, so we did get some exercise. Then we met Cali and OK Cap for the Dane Dance on the Monona Terrace rooftop for some more exercise. The first band was a salsa band, and then we were going to leave, but the second band was a really good soul music group, so we stayed for part of their set too.

Saturday Travalon and I had nowhere to be, so we decided to attempt our epic canoe trip to the part of the Yahara River where it becomes a tiny creek. Travalon almost fell out of the canoe as we were getting in, so we got discouraged for a moment, but the weather was perfect so we soldiered on. We stopped for a rest and snack break at the School Road pier, then we continued on, past the island, to the part of the river we had never been on before. There were a lot of lily pads, and both the white lilies and the tall yellow lotuses were blooming like crazy. I saw so many types of dragonflies! When we were way back in the marsh, at the spot where Token Creek comes into the Yahara, I needed to take care of some personal business, and nobody was around for miles. But – can you believe this? – a motorboat came up the river, with two guys and a big brown dog in it. What are the odds?? They went up Token Creek, so we went up the little creek that is the Yahara at that point. On our way back, we saw them again, and they were going really fast in the no-wake zone. Then we stopped at School Road for another break, and two guys drove their car right up to the pier, took down a canoe, and set off without moving their car out of the way. Was it just Rude Day that day? When we got back to our neighborhood, we could hear a really good Jimmy Buffett tribute band at the Nau-Ti-Gal and an okay cover band at Mariner’s Inn. We sat on our dock for a while, resting and listening to the okay band, until we got the energy to go to Banzo for dinner. Natty Nation, a great local reggae band, was playing at the Union Terrace that night, and it was a beautiful evening, but we were too tired to do anything after canoeing for eight miles round trip.

Yesterday we had brunch outside at the Crema Café, then we took a hike in Monona along the bike path I used to ride to work, back when I lived on Pirate Island and worked in Middleton. Cecil Markovitch called and asked if we wanted to meet him and the Single B-Boy at Eno Vino, a new rooftop bar downtown, so we wrapped up our walk and met them a little after three. However, the bar didn’t open until four, so we went to the Rigby for a quick drink beforehand. Can I just say that the view from Eno Vino is magnificent? It looks over Lake Monona. We had a cheese platter there, and I had a drink that was like a mango meringue pie, if such a thing exists. Then we walked to the new seafood place near our church, and Rich joined us for dinner. We were starting to get tired and achy again from our adventure the day before, so we called it an early night again. Prairie Man wants to go on a long canoe trip this fall, which we can’t do anyway, but I’m wondering if it would kill us. Even this morning the alarm woke us up (which is unusual), and we could barely move to get out of bed. Ah well, it was worth it to achieve my dream of finding out what is beyond the part of the marsh we can get to in our little boat. Answer: a whole lot of marsh!

Famous Hat

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Another Anti-Equal Temperament Rant

Last night I went to the final Concert on the Square with Hockey Girl. The theme was Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and I didn’t have as much enthusiasm about that as last week’s concert, which surprised Hockey Girl. “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like Beethoven!” she said, and I said, “Really? I’ve met plenty of people who hate classical music,” so then she said, “People with no taste, but you like some good music.” For example, we both love Bach. It has always fascinated me that people are surprised that I would like Baroque music but not Romantic music, when to me they are nothing alike. I am a simple creature who likes things fast-paced and minor key, hence I love Baroque music, salsa, and hip hop. It doesn’t seem odd to me at all; in fact, it seems stranger to me that someone would love both Bach and Schubert than that someone would love both Bach and Tupac. Then I told Hockey Girl about tuning systems other than the dreaded Equal Temperament, and she was riveted. “Why have I never heard about this before?” she wondered, and I said it blew my mind too when I learned about it, but at least it explained some things, like why I was so loyal to a particular recording of Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico that I found out years later was not in equal temperament. It just sounded better to me than other recordings – well, of course it did! It sounded like what Vivaldi intended. I told Hockey Girl how in the Early Music Festival I had often noticed a magical note arising over the others, and then I found out it was an overtone that arises when people sing or play in perfect fourths and fifths. This, people, is what we have lost by buying into the evil compromise of equal temperament. Citizens for a Return Of Sanity to Sound (CROSS) would just like to remind everyone that it doesn’t have to be this way. Educate yourselves and choose sanity in sound!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Long Mallards Game

Last night Travalon, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and I went to a Mallards game. This one was a fundraiser for the Overture Center, so we had to pay a little more for our tickets, but we did get hats. Of course, they are exactly like the hats we got when my work group went to a Mallard game earlier this summer. The game went very quickly because of the amazing defensive playing on both sides (they were playing the Kenosha Kingfish), and also the pitching. In the ninth inning both teams were scoreless. Late in the game I discovered that some coworkers of mine were sitting at the end of our row, and they had even been looking for me, but we somehow hadn’t seen each other until that point. In the bottom of the tenth, the Mallards had the bases loaded and three outs, and the batter hit a pop-up fly that was easily caught, so they went into an eleventh inning. We headed home at that point, but one of my coworkers stayed for the eleventh inning, and he said the Mallards again had the bases loaded because the Kenosha pitcher was exhausted and kept walking them, then a batter hit something deep into right field that nobody caught, and the guy on third got home so the game was over. It sounds exciting, but we were so tired!

I have to say that at first I thought the Kingfish’s logo was brilliant: it is a round fish with gills that look like baseball stitching, so it is a baseball AND a fish, plus it is wearing a crown so it is a king too. But then I was thinking that there is no such thing as a kingfish, and a kingfisher is a bird, so it lost some of its luster for me. Here it is, so you can see for yourself: 

Famous Hat

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rodney's Eighteenth Birthday Remembrance

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday evening Travalon and I met for a fish fry at the restaurant in the same strip mall as the Crema Café, then I went to a ukulele jam a block away while he did three Uber rides, and then we played tennis. We have been trying to get into playing it more and may again tonight. It is a lot of fun, even if I am no good at it. Anyway, it’s good exercise.

Saturday Travalon had to work, so I met Rich for coffee, and then he, Tiffy, and I went for a ride in my canoe. It isn’t my imagination – it is a very tippy canoe, especially with three people in it, so now I can see how Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and I fell out of it last summer. We didn’t fall out this time, but every time someone shifted positions, the whole thing would rock. Yikes! Travalon got home just as we returned to the dock, so he, Tiffy, and I checked out the new beer garden in Olbrich Park, which is wonderful – we sat in the shade drinking beer and gazing at Lake Monona. He went to a concert with a friend, while Tiffy and I went to A Flea in Her Ear at the outdoor theater. We had gone last month but were rained out early in the show, so they said we could return sometime at no charge. Was it ever a funny play! It is a fin de siècle sex farce.

Yesterday after Mass Tiffy, Travalon, and I went to Plaka again for brunch. We just love sitting on their patio! Then we went for a boat ride back into the marsh, since it was such a beautiful day. Tiffy headed home, while Travalon and I went to Greek Fest, where we heard a guy playing the bouzouki (much better than I can) and we bought some treats for a potluck party later that day. Rodney would have been eighteen, so in honor of the occasion we met Rich, Kathbert, the Single B-Boy, and OK Cap at the Union Terrace, like we had for his last two birthdays. Lots of people were on the water in sailboats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. In the evening our neighbors had a potluck party to celebrate our condo association’s newly repaved driveway, so it was a very social day for us. And the weather was perfect! 

Famous Hat

Friday, July 28, 2017

Funky Concert on the Square

Wednesday evening was rainy, so Concert on the Square was postponed until last night. I really wanted to go, because they were doing the music of Earth, Wind, and Fire and Michael Jackson, so I asked other people if they wanted to go too, and they said yes… and then a neighbor extended an invitation to go sailing. It was hard to turn down a chance to go sailing, believe me, but this concert was worth it. Travalon and Jilly Moose accompanied me up to the Square, and Cali and a guy from our choir who does not have a name on this blog (yet) soon joined us. We went to a Mexican food stand for dinner, and I had a delicious shrimp quesadilla that my diet app helpfully told me was full of saturated fat. Maybe I should do like my hairdresser (I got my hair cut right before the concert) and go totally vegan… The first half of the concert was Earth, Wind, and Fire and was fantastic. Some of us felt the Michael Jackson covers in the second half weren’t quite as successful, although their version of “Billy Jean” worked. It was a perfect evening weather-wise, and a really fun group of people to hang out with. Maybe our neighbor will invite Travalon and me to go sailing some other time…

Today I got the funniest piece of spam at work. It's hilarious when people who are not fluent in English try to talk dirty: "Find out how tireless I am, share your vicious ideas with me and we’ll dirty the night away!" That really makes me want to click the link below it... NOT.

Famous Hat

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Air Show Sightings

I forgot to mention in my last blog post that both on the way up to Green Bay and on the way back we saw all sorts of small aircraft flying into Oshkosh for the EAA show. One looked like it was barely staying aloft; people fly all sorts of experimental aircraft to the show. On the way back we saw about twenty people parachuting over the airfield. They looked like fermatas in the air to me, because the parachutes were curved over them and then each person’s body was like a dot. If you don’t know what a fermata is, it is a symbol like an upside-down smile with a dot in the middle that is put over a musical note to designate that it should be held longer than its usual value, generally until the director decides. Or as someone I once knew used to say, “I’m a fermata – hold me!” Anyway, it was quite something to see all those people parachuting – I was afraid they would run into each other! They looked really close together. Presumably they know what they are doing and did not crash into each other. All I can say is that you could not pay me enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. If the plane were going down and bailing out with a parachute were my only good option, then I would consider it.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trip to Green Bay

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had a wonderful one, starting with Friday, when Travalon caught a catfish at Tenney Park and cooked it for dinner. Mmm! Then we braved the storm to join Hockey Girl at the Lakeside Café to listen to classical guitar.

Saturday morning Travalon and I went to the Beatles Brunch at the Rigby Tavern, which had good food but didn’t seem particularly Beatles-oriented. They were playing all sorts of music in the background, like U2, but no Beatles. We sat outside anyway, where you couldn’t hear the music. The plan after that had been to take a canoe trip with Rich up the Yahara River, but Rich said storms could arise unexpectedly, and I did not want to be on the river in a canoe if a storm blew up. My coworker told me just the day before about how her next-door neighbor was killed by lightning while canoeing! Instead Rich, Travalon, Kathbert, and I went to the zoo, and Cali joined us. In the evening Travalon and I joined Rich and Twins Fan for dinner at Oliva, a Mediterranean restaurant, and then we saw Dunkirk, the brand-new movie about the World War II evacuation of the British army by a fleet of privately owned boats. It was really good.

Sunday Travalon and I had brunch at Crema Café, sitting outside, then we went to the Hop Garden in Paoli to join the Daughter of Denni and a bunch of her friends and relatives in listening to several bands, including one she plays in and another one that her brother-in-law (who we also heard on Friday) plays in. Afterwards Travalon and I wanted to go for a hike in Belleville, but the park there is flooded after all this rain, so we headed back to town and had dinner at Waypoint, a restaurant in Monona overlooking the Yahara River just before it empties into Upper Mud Lake. It has a great view of the Beltline too, which is a lot cooler than it sounds. At that point the Beltline is going over a bridge. Then we went to the Nine Springs Nature Area and took a long walk. We saw lots of birds, especially Canada geese, but also cranes and ducks and a kingfisher. Maybe we should take up birdwatching…

Yesterday I took the day off of work, and Travalon, Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and I drove up to Green Bay to go to the annual shareholders’ meeting. We sat out in the sun in Lambeau Field, so I got a little sunburned, but I did find all that financial information kind of interesting, actually. Then we had lunch at Titletown Brewery and enjoyed some of their beer up on the rooftop patio, with a fantastic view of the river and downtown. We went to the animal sanctuary at Bay Beach and saw lots of birds of prey and native mammals, many of which were either injured or too tame to be released into the wild. On the way back we stopped in Fond du Lac and climbed the lighthouse for a beautiful view of the sunset over Lake Winnebago, and we had dinner at an old-fashioned drive-in called Gilles. What a fun day! 

Famous Day

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mickey Mouse at the Outdoor Concert

Last night Travalon and I went to Oconomowoc and took his mother to the outdoor concert they have every Wednesday evening in the summer. The theme this week was Disney music, and to our surprise there was a guy in a Mickey Mouse costume going around greeting all the little kids. Then he came up to Travalon’s mom and gave her a hug! Travalon got a really good picture of that; I will see if he will let me put it on this blog. At some point I will also post the series of photos he took of me when we were boating for the past week: another day, another Hawaiian shirt, same old Famous Hat in the same boat.

Yesterday at work we had some out of state people visiting, so I got to go to a work lunch with them. Then today they invited us all to go to the Union Terrace to hang out with them for a couple of hours. It was beautiful, a little hot and humid, but there was a breeze from the lake. I just love watching all the sailboats, but I always wonder who those people are – don’t they have to work? How do they have a random Thursday afternoon off to go sailing? Maybe they have to work on the weekend? Every time I am off of work, I am always surprised by how many people are out and about, but to be fair maybe they all just have a day off of work themselves.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Music at Our Fingertips

Yesterday evening Travalon and I went on yet another boat ride, out into the lake a little bit and then back into the marsh. We didn’t see any millennial girls in canoes, but we did see the blue heron that always seems to be standing in the same spot. At first I didn’t see it, and Travalon said, “Maybe he has the night off from guarding the marsh,” but then we did spot it. After we came home, I needed to get a lot more steps, so while Travalon read I danced around to music, first Cuban music and then old jazz. If you love old jazz too, check out Count Basie doing “Topsy” and Paul Howard’s Quality Serenaders doing “The Ramble,” a really old song from the 20’s. Isn’t it amazing that we live in a time when you can just look up old music on your phone and there it is? Back when I was young, you had to hunt for records or CDs in the library, and they might not have what you were looking for. Now it is all at our fingertips!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Minding My Own Business

Yesterday Travalon and I took a short evening ride in our boat, and first we went out into the lake, but there were some big waves. We went back into the marsh and saw a couple of girls canoeing, maybe college-aged, without any urgency. One was fishing. I wondered if we should warn them that darkness was falling faster than they might have realized, and that it would be VERY dark in the marsh soon, thinking of how foolish I could be at that age. In the end we didn’t say anything to them, but I still wonder if they came to their senses and got out of the marsh before darkness fell completely. They were quite far from anywhere that you could put in with a canoe, so I would have felt better if they were clearly heading in a specific direction instead of lazily paddling about in the growing twilight. It’s so hard to know when to mind your own business and when to impart your perhaps greater knowledge acquired from so many more years of existence. After all, I can easily imagine myself in my early 20’s hanging out too long in the marsh and then having to paddle back frantically in the dark! But then I imagine how I would have felt at that age having some nosy middle-aged woman tell me to hurry up and get out of the marsh, so you can see my dilemma now that I am that woman.

Famous Hat

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lots of Early Music and Boating

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Sorry that I have been so silent, but I have been pretty busy. Thursday evening Travalon and I took a long boat ride out to the (apparently) nameless bay between Governor’s Island and Maple Bluff, and yes I skipped a ukulele jam to be on the water. Music is a high priority for me, but apparently boating is a higher one. Friday I worked for a couple of hours in the morning, then Tiffy and I met for lunch on State Street, and we ran into Toque McToque! Blast from the past! We went to the Early Music Festival participants’ concert (or, as one guy called it, “Amateur Hour”), where all the classes show off what they have been working on. Afterwards we hung out on the Union Terrace, then we had dinner al fresco at Fresco, a rooftop restaurant with a magnificent view of my church. We returned to the Early Music Festival for a concert of viol music, including a relatively clear explanation of quarter comma mean tone tuning by the harpsichord player. He did state that equal temperament is the enemy of all music in that it makes everything a little bit out of tune, but my regular readers already know my feelings on the evils of equal temperament.

Saturday morning Travalon and I met a bunch of people for coffee, including Rich, Tiffy, and OK Cap, then Rich and Tiffy left to work out so OK Cap, Travalon, and I wandered the sales of Maxwell Street Days. I bought some new Hawaiian shirts and freeze-dried ice cream, something I have wanted to try since someone brought some to my third-grade class and shared it with some other kids… but not me. You know, it was pretty tasty, like a hard marshmallow but creamy and Neapolitan flavored. Travalon and I went for a boat ride back into the marsh, then I met Tiffy, Rich, and some other Slow Food people for dinner at a pop-up restaurant. Really, it is only in existence for a week. We had these amazing British-style peas, Peking duck, and berry shortbread for dessert. It was all food the cook had gotten from the farmers’ market that morning, and it was so good! Then Tiffy and I went to the final concert of the Early Music Festival, pieces that were relevant to the writings of Cervantes, since this year’s theme was Don Quixote. Next year is “Journey to Lubeck,” and they promised lots of Buxtehude. Excellent!

Yesterday Travalon and I wanted to go to a Beatles brunch at a bar on the Square, but they only do it on Saturdays, so we went back to Plaka and sat outside on their wonderful patio again. Then we met Tiffy and the Daughter of Denni at Fete de Marquette to listen to a French/Hawaiian group. We ate some junk there, and afterwards I thought maybe Travalon and I should canoe to work it off, but instead we took our longest boat ride yet, to the shanties in Middleton right by our health club. We saw lots of huge houses, and one looked just like a castle! Plus we saw Bishop’s Bay, which is the part of the lake that the Betty Lou Cruises never go back into. Now I feel like I have seen the entirety of Lake Mendota from the water. Another thing off my bucket list, besides freeze-dried ice cream. What a satisfying weekend!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Paddling on Lake Wingra

Sorry for my silence yesterday. I worked in the morning, then Tiffy and I had lunch at Himal Chuli, and then we rented a paddleboat from Wingra Boats and paddled all around Lake Wingra. We walked to Michael’s Frozen Custard for malts, having burned off enough calories (according to my diet app) to justify one, and then we had dinner outside with the Daughter of Denni at Everly. It was gently raining, but we were fine underneath their sheltered outdoor seating area. We had charred broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and artichoke hearts, and for our main course we split an order of curry squash with forbidden rice, so a pretty healthy meal to make up for that malt. Then we went to another Early Music Festival concert, this one of music from the Golden Age of Andalucía so it was very Mideastern music. A lot of the singing was in Ladino, which is to Spanish what Yiddish is to German. The singer was a red-haired woman of Ladino descent who had grown up in Tel Aviv, and the rest of the group consisted of an oud player, a couple of amazing percussionists (one did throat singing!), and a violinist from Turkey. They were all incredible musicians. I don’t remember ever seeing a bad concert at the Early Music Festival.

Famous Hat

Monday, July 10, 2017

Watercraft and the Early Music Festival

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had a really good one, because I spent a lot of it either on the water or at Early Music Festival concerts. Friday Anna Banana II had a farewell dinner at Rich's house, and she made three delicious kinds of soup. People brought all sorts of food; my contribution was cactus, which wasn't a big hit. One person brought an amazing banana cake for dessert.

Saturday Travalon and I went to Java Cat for brunch and coffee to try something different, and since they have gelato there, we had some of that too. Then we took a long canoe ride back into the marsh, which was a big deal for me since I've been scared of the canoe ever since falling out of it with Jilly Moose and Luxuli. I am happy to report that Travalon and I did not fall out of the canoe. Then we went to a crawfish boil at Liliana's, featuring Cajun music, before we went our separate ways: Travalon to a movie with Twins Fan, and me to the opening concert of the Early Music Festival with Tiffy, the Daughter of Denni, and some relatives of hers. It was Piffaro doing music based on the story of Don Quixote, and it was fantastic, especially when two of the musicians did a sort of sword dance. They were really good dancers too!

Sunday Tiffy, Travalon, and I finally got to have brunch on the patio at Plaka, which always seems to be full. It is very beautiful there, underneath wild grapevines. The three of us went with the Daughter of Denni to Art Fair Off the Square, where Travalon and I bought some photographs, and then the two ladies continued on to Art Fair On the Square while Rich joined Travalon and me for a boat ride in the marsh. We launched from the School Road pier and then ended up docking at our pier. Rich, Tiffy, the Daughter of Denni, and a guy who doesn't have a name on this blog had dinner at Kabul's, then we went to the Union Terrace briefly, and then Rich headed home and the rest of us went to the second concert of the Early Music Festival, a Spanish guitarist. Wow, was he amazing!

Today I worked half a day, then Tiffy and I took a walk down State Street to the Union for ice cream. We checked to see if Pete the Sailor Man was around and could take us out sailing, but nobody had seen him, so we just went for a walk along the lakeshore path. Maybe we will find him tomorrow...

Famous Hat

Friday, July 7, 2017

Anna Banana II's Surprise Birthday Party

Last night a bunch of us gathered for a surprise early birthday party for Anna Banana II: Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Luxuli, Prairie Man, Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, Twins Fan, Jilly Moose’s two housemates, and me. Anna Banana II is turning a round number at the end of the month, and we felt the occasion should be marked before she goes back to North Dakota. Jilly Moose organized the whole thing and OK Cap brought the cake. Anna Banana II knew there would be a bonfire that evening, but she thought it was just going to be Jilly Moose and her two housemates, although I think she suspected something might be up. She got lots of funny cards and presents that included a handmade rosary from Jilly Moose, a Fatima centennial rosary from me, a plant from OK Cap, and banana split dishes and sundae dishes from Kathbert. We had that part of the party inside, but when we moved outside to the bonfire, it wasn’t such a success. It was so hot that we couldn’t get too close to the fire, and the bugs were really bad, so we ended up going back inside again. I had brought my otamatone, and it was a big hit – everyone loved trying to play it! It isn’t so easy to play, but it is so cute that who cares. Today I showed Handy Woman and another coworker a video of someone playing the otamatone, and Handy Woman said she is getting one for her mother for Christmas. They are a lot of fun.

Famous Hat

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wednesday Ladies' Night

Last night Travalon went to see Tom Petty at Summerfest, and I joined the Rosary Ladies for a Ladies’ Night at Imperial Gardens, a Chinese restaurant. OK Cap was busy with family obligations, but the rest of us were there to enjoy our limited time with Anna Banana II while she is in town. I was torn between two things, a sizzling rice soup and pan-fried noodles, but Anna Banana II pointed out that the sizzling rice soup also came in a sharable appetizer, so she, Luxuli, and I split that, and I got the pan-fried noodles for my main course. Since we also split an order of pot stickers, I couldn’t eat that much of the pan-fried noodles, so I was excited to have them for lunch today… and then I forgot them at home. After dinner, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and I went for a walk to a nearby park that has a building with a sort of patio on top of it. We had a beautiful view of the lake and the sunset from there. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to take any time off of work for Anna Banana II’s visit, since we are busy with month-end AND year-end reconciliations, but fortunately I have gotten to see a lot of her anyway. And she may even come back for a second visit later this year! Yay!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourth of July with Anna Banana II

I hope my readers had a good Fourth of July. Some of you were with me, so you already know mine was great! Travalon and I went for a hike on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, starting at the former Lake Mills train depot and passing over Rock Lake on the old railroad bridge. It was a gorgeous day, and tons of people were out on the water. Then we went to Anna Banana II’s family cottage on Lake Ripley, where we were soon joined by Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Richard Bonomo, and a woman who does not yet have a name on this blog. Anna Banana II, some of her nieces and nephews, the as-yet-unnamed woman, and I had a squirt gun fight, and then Rich and Travalon had a squirt gun duel at ten paces. Luxuli, Prairie Man, and Kathbert arrived sometime during the squirt gun fight, bringing a kayak. Anna Banana II grilled cheeseburgers, OK Cap brought a beautiful fruit salad that looked like the American flag, and the rest of us brought other stuff for dinner, which we ate outside. Afterwards Luxuli kayaked alongside Travalon and me as we canoed in Anna Banana II’s family canoe under the setting sun. Other people swam or used the watercraft once we got back. Then Anna Banana II’s brother set off a bunch of beautiful fireworks that her mother had brought. As Travalon and I drove home, we saw lots of fireworks, including a good deal of the Monona and Maple Bluff shows. One even looked like a heart! What a wonderful way to celebrate our nation’s birthday!

Famous Hat

Monday, July 3, 2017

Trip to Rib Mountain and Roche-a-Cri

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine was pretty great because Anna Banana II is back in town for a visit. Friday Travalon and I went to Nonno’s Italian Restaurant to meet the Rosary Ladies, Rich, and the Dairyman’s Daughter for dinner. She had just come from a camping trip with her cousin and cousin’s daughters in northern Minnesota, and she said they went on a marsh tour that was really cool. They saw lots of lady’s slippers and other beautiful flowers. I am a little jealous, since I grew up in Minnesota and always heard about the showy lady’s slipper as the state flower, but I have never seen one. Maybe someday…

Saturday a bunch of us went on a trip to Rib Mountain: the Rosary Ladies, Travalon, Rich, Cecil Markovitch, and the Single B-Boy. We stopped for coffee before leaving town and then got caught in the traffic on the interstate. By the time we got to Rib Mountain (after a stop for lunch), it was around two. Tiffy called to say she was driving through Wausau on the way to her parents’ house, but she didn’t have a state park sticker, so she couldn’t stop by to say hi. We hiked on the top of the mountain, and some people went up the observatory tower. Travalon suggested we go to Roche-a-Cri State Park after that, and some of us (the guys, Jilly Moose, and I) went all the way up the rock. For some reason I thought it was 26 flights of stairs to get up there, but according to my phone it was 20. From the top we had a fantastic view of other unusual rock formations all over Adams County. The B-Boy found a supper club on Castle Rock Lake that wasn’t too far away, so we went there for a wonderful dinner, and afterwards the guys and I watched fireworks across the lake. Cecil said it was a wonderful evening, and when I said, “Wasn’t the whole day wonderful?” it turned out he wasn’t too impressed with Rib Mountain. Oh well, Travalon and I still love it there.

Yesterday after Mass Travalon and I went to brunch with Anna Banana II, then we met Hockey Girl at Tenney Park, and she and I took a rosary walk while Travalon fished. The three of us went to a bluegrass festival at the High Noon Saloon, featuring acts with wonderful names like Milkhouse Radio and Sortin’ the Mail, and they were just as good as those names promised. Travalon and I had a quiet evening at home, but we kept hearing fireworks, so we went outside and were treated to practically a personal show from some house across the river. Then we went out onto our dock and saw what we suspect were the Westport fireworks, but the bugs were eating us alive so that was less fun. Anyway, I can’t say I haven’t seen fireworks this year!

Famous Hat

Friday, June 30, 2017

Boogie Men on the Monona Terrace Rooftop

Last night I met the Rosary Ladies for dinner, then Jilly Moose and I went to the rooftop of the Monona Terrace to hear a band called the Boogie Men. They were a lot of fun, wearing big black wigs and crazy outfits like bell bottom pants and three-inch silver platform boots. The music they played was all stuff I love, mostly 70’s disco and funk like KC and the Sunshine Band, the Bee Gees, and Earth, Wind, and Fire, but they did play some recent funk hits too. They even did a Michael Jackson medley. Is there any purer joy than singing and dancing along to music you have known and loved most of your life? And to get to do it in the fresh air, overlooking a lake – how does it get any better? I’ll tell you how – this whole thing was FREE! Luxuli showed up with another woman later in the evening, and we all danced together. When the last song was "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge, we really sang the line about, "I got all my sisters with me!" to each other with great gusto. Afterwards one of the musicians came over and talked to us. He has a day job in Milwaukee – he said, “It’s going to be a very long Friday!” The organizers said they were collecting donations, and I wanted to give a couple bucks, but by the time we got down from the roof, the woman collecting donations was about to get into an elevator, so I had to run after her. What an excellent night!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Machine Rebellion

This seems to be the week of machines not working. Monday our coffee maker at work decided that it needed more water to work, even after we filled it all the way to the maximum fill line, and it could not be dissuaded. Fortunately we have another kind of coffee maker; the broken one is a Keurig maker, and we have an old-fashioned one that just brews a pot of coffee, and even an espresso maker. Of course my coworker is frustrated because she just bought a ton of Keurig cups for that machine, so hopefully we can get it working again… She thinks somehow it can’t see the little ball that floats in it to let it know there is enough water in the reservoir, and that maybe this is due to lime, so this weekend she hopes to clean it. Then just today my adding machine at work decided it isn’t going to work anymore; it thinks it has some kind of paper jam, and I can’t figure out how to open it up to see what’s going on. I used my coworker’s adding machine to finish my deposit, and then my boss said there was another one in the supply closet, so I should be okay. Still, what is going on that all the machines are rebelling? Is there about to be a machine uprising?

Famous Hat

Monday, June 26, 2017

Luau Cruise, Spring Green Art Fair, and Fireworks

I hope my readers had a good weekend, despite the cold temperatures and on-again, off-again rain. Thursday evening Travalon and I went on a Betty Lou luau cruise, and the weather started off threatening, but by the end it was a beautiful evening. The food was really good, and the music was wonderful, if more Caribbean than Hawaiian for the most part. Alas, I did not win either the hula contest or the best Hawaiian costume contest. The prize? Another Betty Lou cruise! It was a two-hour cruise, which is not enough time to see the whole Lake Mendota, so we had to cut off a whole section of lake that included the ginormous houses of Bishop’s Bay. Ah well, Travalon and I have seen those while cruising in our own little boat, the Megan Jaye.

Friday evening Travalon and I went to a free concert just off the Capital Square. It was Dark Star Orchestra, the premier Grateful Dead tribute band, and I was expecting to see more people wearing tie-dye. I did, of course, and even wore the tie-dyed hat I got at the Baraboo Art Fair last weekend for good measure. The band was really good, and they played forever. We ended up leaving before they were done because we were so tired from dancing to them all night.

Saturday morning Travalon had to work, so I met Rich and the Rosary Ladies for coffee and the rosary, and then when Travalon got home, he, Jilly Moose, Luxuli, and I went to Spring Green for their art fair. We spent a good deal of time there, so it was later than we expected when we got to the Nature Conservancy land out there with the cacti on it. A sudden storm blew up, so we couldn’t hike and ended up just driving back to town. The Rosary Ladies, Travalon, and Prairie Man had dinner at the Hubbard Avenue Diner, and I embarrassed myself when trying to show off to our Latina server: I tried to say something in Spanish, but she just stared at me, and then I realized it was half in Irish! Oops! It had gotten very cold by then, so Travalon, OK Cap, Cali, and I really had to bundle up to watch the Shake the Lake fireworks from the East Side Club.

Yesterday I skipped 9 am Mass to go to Oconomowoc with Travalon for his nephews’ family birthday party. They are twins and just turned twelve, so Travalon said they are past the toy stage. One loves old coins, so Travalon got him a couple of really cool old ones, and the other loves fishing, so Travalon got him some lures. They both really liked their presents. They had just gone to the Shedd Aquarium, so we had that to talk about. After the party, Travalon and I took his mom out to lunch, then we hiked briefly at Lapham Peak, but I was not dressed right and wanted to go home to change. I hadn’t been hungry when we had gone to lunch, so we ended up going to this incredible burger place called Wegl’s in Jefferson, then we went on an epic quest for paw print stickers and finally found them at the University Bookstore. We had to go to 5 pm Mass, and who should we see there but Jilly Moose! Afterwards the three of us had a bite to eat at Bellitalia, where we saw a rainbow, then she and I went for a rosary walk while Travalon fished at Tenney Park, where we saw a beautiful sunset. On the way home Travalon and I stopped at the co-op, and outside of that we saw a bizarre cloud. I took pictures of all of it and will post them at some point.  

Famous Hat

Friday, June 23, 2017

RIP Rodney 1999-2017

Here is Rodney's obituary, written by Travalon:


Born: July 30, 1999
Died: June 18, 2017

    He was a very sweet, loyal and affectionate, fun and energetic little dog.
He loved his daddy and stepmom unconditionally right up until the end and he always enjoyed getting attention from kind and caring animal lovers of all ages.
He was adored by many - one woman he met in a park was so taken with him she said, "He is so cute, he shouldn't be legal!"
     My favorite memory of him was when he was only two years old - he ran nonstop around the kitchen table in extreme happiness at least ten times when seeing his daddy who just got home from a trip.
    He loved being walked all over the beautiful Oconomowoc (where he lived most of his life) and Madison areas and basically anywhere on road trips.  Any trail looked great to him for a long or short hike. He also loved romps off-leash at the Nashotah, Waunakee and Cherokee Marsh dog parks, and got along well with other dogs because of his calm and friendly nature. He also enjoyed tagging along with his daddy on fishing trips (an always available fishing buddy) and to Ashippun Mudcat baseball games, even to dog friendly taverns such as: AJ's in Oconomowoc and Kenny's in Monterey. He was also a big hit with people passing by on walks along the Lakeshore Path by the UW Memorial Union Terrace, receiving lots of attention. He even enjoyed going for boat and canoe rides with his daddy and stepmom wearing a lifejacket that was labeled "outward hound."
   Rodney was always up for an adventure, and he also enjoyed a relaxing evening at home, just being cuddled in his daddy's or stepmom's lap. It didn't take much to please him, often just a dog treat or stomach rub.
    He shared a home for almost 15 years with a very sweet Calico cat, and they became friends, respectful to each other's space, but often sitting in the same recliner chair or under a window sharing the sunlight.
    Even in his old age with declining health he remained very affectionate and loyal, and after a bad spell or day he always seemed to bounce back and be ok. Despite losing his eyesight and suffering from arthritis pain, he still enjoyed short walks, just getting outside sniffing the ground, even in the cold of winter wearing his lamb-skinned doggie coat.
    Because of the well-deserved love and care he got, along with all the exercise and his resilience, he exceeded the average lifespan for his breed by almost three years. People he met couldn't believe his old age.
    He spent his last conscious moments in a beautiful natural area near Spring Green, on one last walk being carried in a backpack. He is now running pain free up in doggy heaven. He is greatly missed and I am filled with sadness from his loss, but remembering the happy times with him gives his daddy a sense and peace and calmness - thankful to have him in my life for so long, giving me so much joy and pleasure.
He will be in my and Famous Hat's heart and memory forever.
God bless Rodney, and all the good dogs out there who give or have given us us so much joy !

Here is Travalon's favorite picture of Rodney:

This is my favorite picture of Rodney:

Here are Rodney and me in happier times:

And this is the last picture taken of Rodney while he was still alive. He looks so peaceful, and I look so sad.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Outdoor Concert in Oconomowoc

Last night Travalon picked me up from work, and we battled the terrible traffic to get out of town. A water main had broken under Johnson Street, which is a major thoroughfare, so everyone was taking alternate routes that coincided with the way we were going. Finally we got on the highway and drove to Oconomowoc to go to an outdoor concert with his mother. I have mentioned these concerts before on this blog. They are in the band shell by the beach, which is a beautiful location. It seemed like a really wonderful way to spend the longest evening of the year, sitting outside and watching the sun set while listening to live music. The program was “Postcards from ….” They would read actual postcards that I believe were written by band members (it was a large Legionnaires brass band with a color guard) and then play a piece of music associated with that place. For example, they played “Hungarian Dance #5” by Brahms after reading a postcard from someone visiting Hungary. Once we brought my mother-in-law home, she found out I had my mandolin along with me because of my gig, and she asked if I could play “Hungarian Dance #5,” so I did a passable job at it. Then Travalon asked me to play the rebetiko song I had learned on the “bouzouki,” and that was a little confusing because of the difference in fingering, but I also figured out how to play it on the mandolin. So far my instrument adventure is going fairly well (I am trying to learn a Landini piece, “Ecco la Primavera,” on the rebec), except for the otamatone. If I ever learn to play that thing, it will be a minor miracle.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Boz Scaggs and Make Music Madison

Last night Travalon and I went to see Boz Scaggs at the Overture Center. It was a really good show, except that he didn’t do my favorite song, “Miss Sun.” I had been so lucky with musicians doing my favorite songs, even if they weren’t their biggest hits, but in this case it was a big hit so I was sure he would do it. He did do a really cool tango piece, and some stuff by obscure Cajun songwriters. I just don’t get why rock stars do that, instead of playing the songs you want to hear. As a musician, I get that they might get bored with playing the same songs over and over, but he did all his other hits, and we paid a lot to hear his music, not obscure Cajun songwriters’ music.

Today at lunch I had a free gig for Make Music Madison, the annual free music solstice celebration. All over town, people are playing free gigs outside all day long. We played at Hotel Red, which was a pleasant location in that it is outdoor yet shaded, but boy is it noisy on the corner of Monroe and Regent Streets! Plus they have just started doing road construction. At first our audience consisted of Travalon, but soon more people drifted in, and by the end we had a respectable number of people listening to us. They even tipped well – we each got $10 in tips! Afterwards a young guy approached me and said what a beautiful Neapolitan style mandolin I had, and that you don’t see many like it. I figured if he knew that much about it, he must play, so I let him play mine, and indeed he does know how to play. He said he has a bouzouki, but when I told him about mine, he said they are larger than mandolins, not smaller. So I am not sure what my little instrument is, after all. Tuning it like a bouzouki seems to make sense. I got in touch with a woman who said she would teach me to play the “bouzouki,” so if we can ever coordinate schedules, maybe she can tell me what my little instrument actually is. 

Famous Hat

Monday, June 19, 2017

End of the Rodney Era

Warning: this blog post has a sad ending.

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine was kind of up and down. Friday evening Tiffy and I had dinner at Brasserie V, then we drove to Spring Green and met the Dairyman's Daughter at the outdoor theater to see "A Flea in Her Ear," a romantic comedy. We saw a few scenes before there was a rain delay, then we saw the first third before they called it off completely because of a storm. Tiffy noted that the last time the three of us had attended a play there, it had also been called off because of storms, and she suggested we sell our services ("Guaranteed rain!") to drought-stricken farmers. So now we will have to figure out a time we can go back to see the entire play.

Saturday I had an unpaid gig in Baraboo, so Travalon and I took the Merrimac Ferry on the way there. My band played at an art fair in front of the courthouse, amid the billion-year-old Baraboo Hills, and then Travalon and I drove to Reedsburg to have cream ale (and lunch) at the Corner Pub. It is the most delicious beer ever. They brew many other beers, and someday I will branch out and try some others. Rodney was not doing so well when we got home, but Travalon had the idea to put him in a backpack so we could take a walk on Governor's Island, and after that he perked up and even ate dinner. Travalon and I met Rich for dinner at Villa Dolce, and for dessert I had the most amazing almond fig gelato.

Yesterday after Mass, Travalon and I went with Rich and another choir member to the Lakeside Cafe, sitting out on their patio overlooking Monona Bay. When we got home, Rodney was not conscious, but Travalon thought maybe another walk would help him. We drove all the way to Spring Green and hiked on the Nature Conservancy land full of blooming cacti; dogs aren't technically allowed there, but we hoped nobody would bother us about a tiny, dying dog in a backpack. Rodney kept having seizures, and he didn't regain consciousness, so we drove back to Middleton and took him to the emergency veterinary clinic, where they put an IV in him. While he didn't come out of his coma, he seemed very peaceful, and we asked if he could possibly recover, but they said not at his age, so we had him put down. We buried him in Rich's yard and then went for a long walk on the path beside Lake Monona. Here is my favorite picture of Rodney that I ever took, canoeing several summers ago.

Travalon will write a complete obituary soon. He is still grieving at the moment.

Famous Hat

Friday, June 16, 2017

Paul Simon in Chicago

Sorry for my silence the last couple of days, but I wasn’t anywhere near a computer to blog. Wednesday I took the day off of work, and Travalon and I drove to Chicago. Lots of bad traffic and road construction, but we finally got there, and Travalon suggested the Shedd Aquarium but the weather was beautiful so I suggested a lakeshore walk. We stopped for lunch at a little food stand run by a couple of Eastern European women, but suddenly a terrible storm blew up. The women were so nice, they let us take shelter in their stand until the lightning stopped striking around us, then Travalon and I ran through the rain to the Shedd Aquarium. We enjoyed that immensely, and when we left, it was drizzling but not storming out, so we took the water taxi over to Navy Pier, explored the Crystal Gardens, and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant in the gardens. We had a private water taxi ride back, then we went to the outdoor concert venue on Northerly Island to hear Paul Simon. I was wondering if he would do my favorite song, “Boy in the Bubble,” and he opened with it! In fact, he did a lot of stuff from Graceland. Thirty years later, it is still one of the greatest albums of all time. Travalon was happy because he did four encores and included lots of older stuff in them. His band was amazing too. Then we drove home and got there around three in the morning. Yawn!

Yesterday we had taken the day off of work to sleep in, which we did, and then we went to visit Travalon’s mom. (He goes to see her every week.) The day before, the otamatone Travalon had bought for me had arrived, but the instructions were all in Japanese. We could ascertain that I needed three batteries and a flathead screwdriver, and Travalon’s mom needed batteries too, so we stopped by a hardware store and got all that stuff. When we got back home, the inflatable Sinclair dinosaur I had bought for Travalon had arrived. However, I thought my otamatone wasn’t working because the mouth didn’t open, and Travalon’s toy seemed to be defective as well, because there was no plug for the spout to inflate it. We looked at our instructions, mine in Japanese with some pictures, and his very vintage-looking, and we ascertained that I had to open the mouth of the otamatone myself, and that Travalon had to push the spout in to plug it. So there were no problems with our toys! In the evening we went to the rooftop of the Monona Terrace and sat beneath the blooming Japanese lilac trees, listening to a very good Chicago tribute band. The weather was absolutely perfect, and there was a beautiful sunset. I will try to post pictures and videos of our adventures soon. Don’t expect a video of me playing the otamatone anytime soon – I need a lot of practice on that thing! Here is a video of someone else playing one:

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Photos from Our Memorial Day Weekend Trip

Here are some photos from our Memorial Day Weekend trip. First is a shot of Mill Bluff.

Next is the exterior and the interior of the church in Eau Claire where we went to Mass, Sacred Heart.

This is the inside of the very colorful Mexican restaurant in Chippewa Falls where we had dinner.

Here is a shot of the Leinenkugel brewery.

This is a very random thing we saw on our walk along the river: what appears to be an old building (part of the brewery?) with a modern house built inside of it.

This grotto and Catholic church are in Chippewa Falls as well.

Here are Travalon and Rodney in front of "Stout-Henge" in front of the Union on the UW-Stout campus.

Here are some shots from Crystal Cave. The first one shows how pretty it is.

This one is of the "Ghost of Crystal Cave." It looks like a face!

Asking about this paddle cost me a dollar in the jukebox!

Here we are in front of the beautiful waterfall in Willow River State Park.

Here are two shots from Douglas Point, Minnesota.

This little Catholic church in Prescott is called (I think) St. Joseph's.

Here I am in front of Lake Pepin in Minnesota.

Travalon is a big fan of the Sinclair dinosaur, so he wanted me to take this shot of him with the cardboard cutout of it in a Sinclair station in Winona, Minnesota. He specifically said I should post this on my blog.


And this is the cool rock formation on top of a bluff across from the Sinclair station.

As a bonus, here is Donovan singing my favorite song of his, "There Is a Mountain."

Famous Hat

Monday, June 12, 2017

Playing the Ukulele at the Mallards Game

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had so much fun on Friday night! I went to the Mallards game with Travalon, Tiffy, and Cali, and we sat with a bunch of other ukulele players in bright Hawaiian shirts and leis. We players practiced at the bottom of the fourth, then we stood by the gate to get onto the field until the end of the top of the seventh. It wasn’t the best spot to see the game, but it was so much fun playing during the seventh-inning stretch! We sang three “verses” of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (in C, thank goodness!), meaning we sang a verse, played a verse on the kazoo, and sang it again. People loved it! I saw the video the next day, and we were pretty good. Best of all, the Mallards won 11-8!

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich, Tiffy, and Cali for coffee, then Rich had to take off, Travalon went to the Union Terrace, and we ladies went to the Farmers’ Market. Cali had to leave, but OK Cap joined Tiffy and me for lunch at Himal Chuli. Tiffy came back to my place and I showed her my various instruments. She tried to play them and declared that the ukulele was the easiest to play. The two of us drove to Spring Green to the big potluck before the opening night of the outdoor theater. We joined Rich, Kathbert, the Dairyman’s Daughter and her sister, the Single B-Boy, and another woman who doesn’t have a name on this blog. We saw “A Midsummers Night Dream,” and this time it wasn’t interrupted by rain. We really enjoyed it, but I did get home very late.

Yesterday after Mass, Travalon and I went to brunch with Tiffy and her niece, who plays the ukulele and also this amazing thing called the otamatone that looks like a cartoon musical note. The video she showed us was just about the funniest thing I have ever seen. Then Travalon and I went to his high school friend’s daughter’s high school graduation. She is #14 in the state at track and field! In the evening Travalon and I went to see Donovan perform at the Overture Center. We play a number of his songs in the ukulele group, and something about his music really resonates with me. My favorite song of his is “There Is a Mountain.” First his grandson (who is also the grandson of Rolling Stone Brian Jones) came out and played a few songs, and he was a great guitar player. Then Donovan played, just him and the guitar and sometimes a harmonica, and the best part was the crazy stories he would tell between songs. It is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, so he mostly told stories from that era, about his adventures with his crazy friend Gypsy Dave, and other rock stars from the era that they would encounter. All I can say is that if you get a chance to see Donovan live, do NOT miss it.

Sorry, the blog is not allowing me to link a video of the otamatone.

Famous Hat

Friday, June 9, 2017

Another Great Ukulele Jam

Last night I had such a good time. Travalon met me at the Lakeside Café, and we had dinner outside on the patio, overlooking Monona Bay. Meanwhile about seventy other ukulele players were gathering, and we all had to have our photos taken in various configurations. I had a bourbon barrel-aged beer and failed to notice that it was 11% alcohol until it hit me pretty hard. Boy, was I happy! We played a bunch of songs, and a guy sat next to me who was just a spouse of a ukulele player, not an actual player, and he sang harmony on everything. Best of all, I got some free tickets to the Mallards game tonight because the ukuleles are playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. I sure hope they are planning to play it in the key of C, because I figured out how to play it in that key. Someone said it might be in G, which should also be very doable. I will let you know how it all went.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Liliana's with Jilly Moose

Sorry for my silence yesterday. I was going to blog about how Jilly Moose, Travalon, and I went to Liliana’s for their special soul food menu, but once again they were out of it. Or at least the main course, fried chicken – the people sitting next to us got the last two! We did get the appetizer of macaroni and cheese with bacon, and the dessert of banana pudding, and when I asked if there were any of the side of greens left, the waitress brought me some. We had to order entrees off the regular menu, and we each got something different: Travalon got catfish, Jilly Moose got salmon, and I got something called Diablo Chicken, which was quite spicy. I could only eat half of it, so I had the rest for lunch yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon I suddenly became very sleepy, and so during band practice I made all sorts of weird mistakes because I couldn’t remember where to put my fingers. But was this a function of being sleepy or of being confused after playing so many instruments? I only brought my acoustic mandolin to band practice this time, but in the evening as we sat on our porch, I practiced Bubba Sue the mountain dulcimer, the bouzouki, the balalaika, the good violin, and the rebec. That is almost all my instruments, except for the electric mandolin, the cheap violin, the African thumb piano, and the random small instruments like recorders and ocarinas that I have not seen since moving into our present place anyway. And I plan to give the cheap violin to Kathbert as soon as I can get it together (I poached its E string for the good violin, for example), so that will be one less instrument to neglect. Oh, and of course the ukulele, but I will play that tonight and possibly tomorrow night. Stay tuned... (pun intended)

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tennis Time

So I didn’t go to this game, but the Mallards recently beat the Green Bay Bullfrogs 20-1, so they don’t always lose epically – sometimes they win epically! I guess they just specialize in lopsided games this season.

Last night Travalon and I played tennis for twenty minutes, which burns over 200 calories according to my diet app. We decided we should try to play it once a week. After all, there is a tennis court right in our yard, and nobody else ever seems to use it. I was using a racquet that Ma Hat had brought me, and it is really a good one. I don’t think she ever used it, because the price tag is still on it. It must be one of the matching ones she and I got decades ago, because we were going to play all the time. I did use mine a lot back in the day, but now I’m not sure where it is. It seems to have vanished during one of my many moves. It will probably turn up again, because I know I didn’t give it away. We also have two less high quality racquets, so if any of my readers wants to play some time, I can provide a racquet of questionable quality.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 5, 2017

Relaxing Summer Weekend

I hope my readers enjoyed the warm weather this weekend. Travalon and I had a very relaxed weekend. Saturday we slept late, had brunch at the Manna Café, and then went to the music store for a strap for my ukulele and cables to plug in my electric mandolin and Travalon’s bass. Back home we tried out the cables, and I figured out the bassline to Pink Floyd’s “Money,” but when Travalon found the tablature online, I had mixed up two notes. He had always wanted to learn that bassline, and now he can! Then we went for a hike in the south part of Cherokee Marsh, but we kept running into geese families, so we had to go other ways or wait until they passed. Trust me, you do not want to get too close to a goose with babies! I once saw a somewhat inebriated girl get attacked for doing just that. In the evening we went to the Overture Center to see Diana Krall, who is very funny besides being very talented. As my regular readers may remember, I once had a gig playing with a bassist who had played with her. That is one of my brushes with greatness, the other being when Pope John Paul II waved at me.

Sunday was another relaxed day. Rich helped us get our boat trailer attached to Travalon’s car, then we all headed to Olbrich Park and put the boat in the water. We had hoped Rich would come on the boat ride with us, but he is a busy man, so he said he would just return to help us get it out of the water. We went out on Lake Monona for about an hour and then went back into Starkweather Creek, where you can get an amazing view of the Thai Pavilion in Olbrich Gardens from the water. As we were trying to get the boat out of the water before Rich got there, we saw a guy who forgot to put his parking brake on or something, and he got out of his SUV to mess with the boat, and the SUV (which was running but had nobody in it) backed into the water and hit the boat. Whoa! Travalon and I may not be very elegant at getting our boat into and out of the water, but we haven’t made that mistake… yet. Rich, Travalon, and I had a drink at the East Side Club, then Travalon and I went to the café on the roof of the Monona Terrace, but once again it was closed with no indication on the website that it would be. We ended up having dinner at the Olive Bar in the Hilton, and we saw a retiree we know who got a job there as a valet. I guess some people can’t stop working, and in his case it isn’t because of money. He said it was a really fun job, he made a lot in tips, and he got to drive fancy cars. Doesn’t sound like a bad gig at all. 

Famous Hat

Friday, June 2, 2017

Epic Mallards Loss

Last night Travalon and I went with a bunch of my coworkers to a Mallards game. We had great tickets, so we got to sit right behind home plate, eat as many burgers and brats as we wanted, and drink three beers. Believe me, I needed those beers because while the weather was perfect, the Mallards were about as far from perfect as a ball team can get. I have seen them win and I have seen them lose, but I have never seen them totally destroyed like that before. Their defensive playing stank, they couldn’t hit anything (seriously, about the only guys who got on base were the ones walked by the other team’s pitcher), and their pitching wasn’t anything too wonderful either. In the end they lost 12-0. Apparently they lost the night before to a new team called the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders (Travalon loves that name!), but it was a reasonable score, like 5-2. We have been spoiled because the Mallards are always good enough to get into the playoffs, so maybe we were due for a bad season. But a terrible season? Hopefully they don’t have another game like the one last night! Otherwise, we had a lot of fun.

Famous Hat