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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taco Tuesday with Trivia

Last night Travalon and I decided to go out for tacos at the Club Tavern, since they are 75 cents apiece on Taco Tuesday. It was great! We sat next to a couple of women who were playing a trivia game, and since we are trivia addicts ourselves, we naturally started helping them. I’m not saying this was all us, but they went from sixth place when we got there to third place at the end of the game. Meanwhile, Travalon and I enjoyed tacos and then couldn’t believe our bill was just over $5. What?? You can’t eat at home for that cheap! Best of all, when I entered the calories into my diet app, it said it was a really reasonable dinner. So guess what? Travalon and I are going to go to the Willows tonight for more cheap tacos! Sorry, choir peeps – I am skipping practice again because we also have band practice tonight. It’s just too hard to go to both, and we have a band gig on Saturday at one at Eplegaarden (in case any of my readers are interested, but I hear it’s going to rain) so it seemed important to make band practice.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More Thoughts on Historical Racism

There was an incident on campus yesterday, I guess “in honor” of Columbus Day, where someone painted racial slurs on a space sacred to Native Americans. It really bothers me that people would do such things, and then they say, “There is no more racism in this country. So stop talking about it.” Really, people are posting things like that on social media. They say talking about racism is what’s causing it. I just say imagine that you had a nice house, and I stole it from you and said, “Tough, it’s mine now – I’m stronger and better, so that’s God’s will.” Or imagine that I dragged you to another town that you had no connection to at all, and I made you get a demeaning job, and then I stole your paychecks. Now imagine I had a daughter and she was still benefitting from everything I stole from you. Would you be satisfied if she said, “That was my mother who did that – I’m innocent”? Wouldn’t you still want your house back, or your lost wages? All this time later, I am not sure exactly how we would calculate what is owed to the people who had so much stolen from them, but we still have their houses and stolen wages, and some people say it’s ridiculous that they even want an apology, never mind what is rightfully theirs. I think if you can’t understand their anger, you are not trying very hard. To me the problem is painfully obvious.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 9, 2017

We Finished the Book!!

I hope my readers had a great weekend. Friday Travalon and I ran errands, then we drove north, stopping for a long hike in High Cliff State Park. We got to Green Bay in the evening and had dinner at 1919, the restaurant in Lambeau Field. We had a delicious fish fry – how does it get more Wisconsin than that? Unfortunately (or fortunately, since we couldn’t spend any money) the Packer Pro shop was already closed for the evening by the time we got there, and we didn’t see any actual Packers there, but then we thought hey, it’s their work place, and would we want to be at work on a Friday night?

Saturday we got up early and drove up the Door County peninsula until we got to the Washington Island ferry. We took the first one of the day over and went to a café, then we went to the last bar from our book!! Can you believe it? It only took us five years… I had a shot of the bitters they make there, and so the bartender gave me a membership card for the Bitters Club, which she stapled into our book. She also signed it with the most brilliant saying ever: “Party to the bitter end!” It was so perfect! The weather wasn’t perfect, and the ferry over to Rock Island was an exciting ride with the big waves. Travalon and I hiked all over the island, checking out an old water tower and a small museum. We caught the ferry back to Washington Island and explored that island, which has a lake on it called Little Lake and an actual stave church. Don’t worry, I took pictures. We caught the ferry back to the mainland, and that was the wildest ride of all, with the waves breaking against the bow of the ship and spraying us all the way up on the top deck. We went to Al Johnson’s, the famous restaurant with the goats on the roof, for their delicious hot chocolate, then we went to a fish boil in the shadows of the cliffs over Fish Creek. We even saw a rainbow there! So it was a perfect Door County day, except for the scary ferry rides. And now we have been to all the historic taverns, and Travalon has been to almost every state park except for a new one named after Governor Thompson.

Yesterday Travalon and I took a boat ride back into the marsh. We always see something interesting there, but this time I was blown away to see an actual sailboat. I have never seen one of those in the marsh! It was a very small one. We also saw lots of kayakers and some fighter jets. Then we went to a state park that is still a work in progress and hiked there. It had beautiful views of the surrounding hilly countryside. We ended the evening with dinner at the Chinese restaurant we had gone to for Chinese New Year, since Travalon remembered it so fondly, and then we went home and watched that thrilling Packer game, since we had taped it. Another wonderful day!

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 5, 2017

My Apology with a Broader Perspective

Remember my last blog post, about needing an “I’m Sorry” card? I can’t think of anything else to blog about, so let me elaborate on that situation. The person I snapped at with a great deal of sarcasm was a customer service worker, and I usually pride myself on being kind to such people and having a great rapport with them. I was simply at the end of my rope, but a complicating factor (maybe?) was that she was not white. Now maybe she just thought I was a grumpy customer, and indeed I was, since my snippiness had nothing to do with her race, but I wonder if she thought, “Snotty white woman full of white privilege who gets snarky when things aren’t going exactly her way!” So I felt a need to apologize not only for my bad behavior (and my apology was a simple one that didn’t mention race), but also because I felt somehow that I was representing my whole race. If you read websites written by people of color, they often mention this feeling that their behavior is judged not as being done by an individual but by their group, and this situation made me feel the same way. If this lady reads my apology, I am imagining her telling her equally nonwhite coworkers, “Look at this! A white person actually apologized!” The fact that my first name (or at least my hated childhood nickname that I no longer go by) is slang in black communities for a white woman who throws her privilege around may be the icing on the cake; I imagine this lady telling her coworkers, “How perfect is it that her name is Famous?” So maybe I will at least furnish some amusement for them, and hopefully they appreciate and accept my apology.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

No "I'm Sorry" Cards?

So today I was at a drugstore, looking for a card to send someone an apology, and to my surprise that category doesn’t exist. They have every gradation of birthday card you can imagine, and Halloween cards, sympathy cards, “miss you” cards, and all sorts of other things, but not a simple “I’m sorry.” This seems so odd to me because people send “thank you” cards all the time, but do they not send “I’m sorry” cards when they are sorry? Or am I the only one so short-tempered and impatient that I need this category of card? I ended up buying a blank card to fill out, but it does puzzle me. Is this a market niche that needs to be filled (and could I become rich filling it)? Or am I really the only person on the face of the earth who could use a regular supply of these cards? Further proof that I am very far from canonization, I suppose.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 2, 2017

Canoeing on Mirror Lake

I hope my readers had a good weekend. On Friday evening Travalon and I met with Hockey Girl at the Chocolaterian to show her pictures from our trip, and to enjoy chocolate, of course. She says it is her new favorite chocolate shop in town. The Parisian hot chocolate is what really won her over.

Saturday the Rosary Ladies, Rich, and I met for coffee, then we ladies went to a garden nearby to pray the rosary. When Travalon got home, he wanted to go for a hike at the Nature Conservancy land near Spring Green, and we saw that the lovely yellow flowers on the cacti have now become cute red fruit. We had a light dinner at the Spring Green bookstore and then went to Atwood Avenue for their Beer Week. The Chocolaterian was supposed to be having an event, but they had long since run out of beer to pair with their chocolate, so we had the last chocolate sample and some more Parisian hot chocolate. Then we went to Barley Pop, aka the adult candy store, for their sour beer tap takeover. Mmm!

Yesterday I was feeling a little under the weather and didn’t get up in a timely manner, so we went to Mass close to our house (literally three minutes away), and then we drove to Mirror Lake State Park with the intention of canoeing on the lake. The woman at the boat rental place recommended that we go back into the “narrows,” but I really wanted to see the area with the cool rocks over by Ishnala Supper Club, so she said she would give us an extra hour for just $7 extra. That worked out perfectly – we canoed back into the “narrows” (a river? creek?) for an hour, as she had recommended, and then we canoed past the rock formations and Ishnala, all the way to where the interstate crosses the lake. We weren’t quite out two whole hours, but we saw most of the lake. It was so beautiful – Travalon said it looked like somewhere up north with all the pine trees. Then we stopped by the Mexican grocery store by Rich’s house and picked up some pastries and some prickly pear fruit in honor of the ones we had seen at the Nature Conservancy land, and the three of us had dinner. Not as exciting as our previous weekend in California, but definitely a wonderful one!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Riding the Southwest Chief

Sorry for my silence the last few days, but the Southwest Chief train did not have wifi. The one from Chicago to Milwaukee does, so I am currently taking advantage of it. Monday I took a turn driving on the California freeways, and it wasn't too bad. We stopped in Santa Barbara to visit the mission, and I was stunned to find information there about a Native woman who was abandoned on a Channel Island many years ago when the island was evacuated; she was discovered 18 years later and lived the rest of her life at the mission. When I was a little girl, I read a book based on this very incident called Island of the Blue Dolphins, and it really captured my imagination.

We continued on to LA and drove on Mulholland Drive to see the large houses, but somehow we ended up on a terrifying road called Topanga Canyon Drive. Steep turns and drop-offs - yikes! Then we drove on a beautiful road called Laurel Canyon Drive to the La Brea Tar Pits. We went to drop off the rental car, but first the GPS in my phone tried to take me a way that didn't work because the roads are one-way, and then when I called the branch for help, they weren't helpful at all. Worse, when we did manage to find our way there, they said they couldn't take the car and we would have to go to another branch further down the road!! Say what?? At least that branch was helpful and even paid for our Uber ride to the train station. We were biting our nails about making the train, since by then it was rush hour traffic, but we were fine. We relaxed on the train, and around Yorba Linda I noticed the traffic was really backed up even at 7:30 at night, so we were relieved to not still be in a car. Then we realized the town of Corona was on fire, and the traffic was people desperately trying to evacuate. It was the scariest thing I'd ever seen - the flames went on for miles, and even after we passed it, the red glow was visible in the distance. Incredibly, I have read since then that nobody was hurt and only one house was damaged, even though 2000 acres were burning. I never need to see something like that again! It looked like the gates of Hell!

Yesterday we had such a chill day on the train. We just ate, checked out the beautiful New Mexico scenery, and talked to our fellow passengers. Apparently there had been an incident in the middle of the night in which one passenger stole a bunch of stuff from the crew, and when he was caught he also had illegal drugs with him. Needless to say, he was escorted off the train. We just heard about it after the fact. He stole bottles of A-1 steak sauce from the dining car and even the conductor's eyeglasses! What a kleptomaniac. We did get off the train in Albuquerque for some fresh air, so I can now say I have set foot in New Mexico. I'm not quite up to Travalon's 50 states yet, but I'm up to forty-something. We did stop in Las Vegas... New Mexico, which does not look anything like the more famous city in Nevada. We also saw lots of pronghorn antelopes, but they are way too fast so we didn't get any pictures. On this train they let us eat much later than on the California Zephyr, so we really appreciated that.

Today we had another relaxing day. We stopped in Kansas City and spent a lot of time in Missouri, which looks something like Wisconsin. We spent even more time in Illinois, which looks even more like Wisconsin. When we got to Chicago, we got to stow our luggage in the first-class lounge and take a walk outside the station, where we had some deep dish pizza in the shadow of the Sears Tower, or Willis Tower, or whatever it is called these days. Now we are heading to Milwaukee, where our car is parked, so that we can get home and to bed, and get up for work tomorrow.

Here are some more photos. The first three are of the mission at Santa Barbara. My regular readers will be shocked to learn that I bought a rosary there.

This shot is from the freeway. It is in Ventura, California with the Channel Islands in the distance, but it kind of reminds me of Maui with the palm trees and distant islands.

This is a shot of the gorgeous houses up in the Hollywood Hills.

Palm trees and moonlight was what we could see from the train as we passed Fullerton:

This is a shot of the huge wildfire in Corona, California:

I loved these commuter trains in Albuquerque! They are called Rail Runners and have a cartoon roadrunner going over two cars.

I took a lot of shots of the desert in New Mexico but will only bore you with one:

The Sears Tower! We are almost back home!

Even in downtown Chicago, the sunsets are beautiful.

And finally, a video of the La Brea Tar Pit showing the tar bubbling up.

Famous Hat

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Monterey and Big Sur

This morning Travalon and I had coffee in Berkeley, then we drove over the bridge from Oakland to San Francisco, which goes over Yerba Buena Island. We took a detour onto the island and then to Treasure Island, a small, flat place with wonderful views of downtown San Francisco and a surprisingly lively flea market. Then we drove to Santa Cruz, where Travalon remembered there was a boardwalk we could take a walk on. However, that was almost two decades ago, and now the boardwalk is a big amusement park. We went to Sunset Beach State Park and walked along the surf. Boy, is the Pacific Ocean cold! Then we drove to Monterey and followed the famous 17-Mile Drive along the peninsula, going for a hike along a boardwalk. We saw lots of sea otters playing in the surf, and behind us we saw the prestigious Pebble Beach Golf Course. We drove through Carmel and saw lots of extremely fancy houses beside the sea. We drove out to Big Sur on Highway 1 and saw the sunset - the colors lasted for over half an hour after the sun had gone down! Then we drove south to Atascadero and had dinner at In N Out Burger, a Southern California icon. Tomorrow we head for Los Angeles to get back on the train.

Here are some pictures from our adventures. This first one is a shot of downtown San Francisco from Treasure Island:

Next are a couple of photos of Santa Cruz, showing the amusement park on the boardwalk and a couple of sailboats with black sails:

Here are some shots from the Monterey drive. This first one is of a cactus or something growing on the rocks out in the sea.

The rock formations were so beautiful.

This tree is called the Lone Cypress. It is a famous landmark on the 17-Mile Drive.

Next is the mission at Carmel. We couldn't go inside because there was a wedding going on.

This is my best shot (and believe me, I took a lot) of the sunset over Big Sur. There were tons of people pulled over on Highway 1 to get photos of it.

And this is a brief video of the waves breaking over the rocks off of Monterey:

Famous Hat