Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Mardi Gras!

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

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

Famous Hat

Monday, February 27, 2017

World Music Weekend

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

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

Famous Hat 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Where Has Famous Hat Been?

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

Famous Hat

Monday, February 20, 2017

Balmy February Weekend

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

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

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

Famous Hat

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ode to the Ukulele

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

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

Famous Hat

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nau-Ti-Gal Ghost

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

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

Famous Hat

Monday, February 13, 2017

Attending a Consecration to Perpetual Virginity

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

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

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

Famous Hat

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Recent Art Projects

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

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

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

Famous Hat

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Immediate Seatnig

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

Famous Hat

Monday, February 6, 2017

Post 1800: Disappointing Super Bowl

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

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

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

Famous Hat

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Dunning-Kruger Effect in My Life

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

Famous Hat