Friday, April 28, 2017

Bucks Playoff Game

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

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

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rodney's Scary Experience

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

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Lovely Spring Weekend

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

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

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

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Ode to Mysterious Lights

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

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

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Irish Music Concert at a Library

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

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pursuing Mysterious Lights

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

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter!

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

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

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

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Maundy Thursday Uber Ride

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

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Ferry Bluff, Cactus Hike, and the Hop Garden

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

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

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

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meyer Lemon

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

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Led Zeppelin Music and a Powwow

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

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

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

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