Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Driving Down the Great River Road


I hope my readers had a good Memorial Day weekend. I had a fabulous one, starting with Thursday evening, when Travalon and I brought Rodney to a doggie event at Mickey’s Tavern. There was a costume show, and the lion won, followed by Princess Leia and Cher and maybe the shark. One dog (not in costume) did a bunch of clever tricks, including putting giant plastic coins into a piggy bank. I struck up a conversation with a girl sitting beside me, who was fascinated by my many musical ventures. “I want to follow you around and have your life!” she said. It is a good life, I’ll agree. Music would be a terrible career in my opinion, but it is a wonderful hobby.

Friday evening the Northside Ukuleles had their usual fourth Friday jam, and then since it was the hostess’s birthday, we had a party afterwards. I brought my balalaika, having practiced “Happy Birthday” in the key of A (what was I thinking??) but of course the ukuleles played it in C, so I had to scramble to figure it out. I must have fooled everyone – they said I sounded really good! After that Travalon and I went to Brix 340 for their Wine Day special, and he had an amazing Riesling by Schloss (?) – so tasty!

Saturday morning Travalon, Rodney, and I met OK Cap and Cali for coffee at Crema Café, then the boys and I hit the road and drove to Mill Bluff State Park for a hike. We got to Eau Claire just in time to go to the vigil Mass at Sacred Heart, and then we drove on to Chippewa Falls to visit the Leinie Lodge, since it is a stop in our book of 70 historic taverns. The last tour of the Leinenkugel’s brewery was full, so we took a walk on a beautiful path along the river, and then we came back to the lodge and tried five samples of their various beers. We had dinner at a very brightly colored Mexican restaurant in town, then we headed back to Eau Claire and visited a tavern from the book called the Joynt, that had big name jazz acts playing there from 1974-90. The owner would snag them on weekdays when they were cheaper, as they traveled between Minneapolis and Chicago. Unfortunately the stage is now a back room, but they have photos on the walls of the acts that played there, like Dizzy Gillespie, and also some R. Crumb cartoons. They also had really cheap beer there, I think it was only $1 for a half-pint domestic tap.

Sunday we went to the free breakfast at our hotel, but it was pretty picked over, so we drove to Menomonie to see Travalon’s old school (including a sculpture in front of the Union they call “Stout-henge”), and we found a café there. We drove on to River Falls and a third tavern from the book called Emma’s, which was unusual in that it was owned by a woman back in the 50’s. They had a canoe paddle on the wall that said: “YCJCYADITJB” so I asked what it was and was told, “Your curiosity just cost you a dollar in the jukebox,” but they did let me choose the song, so I chose “Jump Around” by House of Pain. The bartender was really friendly, and when he found out we were planning to head to Kinnikinnic State Park, he said that one was really boring and we would be better off going to Willow River State Park. We heeded his advice and ended up on a long trail but were rewarded at the end with a very large, beautiful waterfall. I will post photos of this and all our adventures soon. Then Travalon and I headed down the River Road, stopping at a beautiful park on Douglas Point and at a restaurant in a historic building in Red Wing for dinner. We drove alongside Lake Pepin and got to Winona just as darkness was falling. Travalon stopped at one of the three Sinclair stations in town (two are right across from each other!) to see if they sold T-shirts with their dinosaur logo on them. The girl working there had one, but she said they were just for employees. However, I did take Travalon’s photo with a big cardboard smiling green dinosaur. The girl working there said we were her favorite customers all day, even though we just bought a couple of drinks, and also she told us she is a Packer Backer. Since darkness had fallen by then, we just headed back on the interstate instead of trying to take a scenic route home, and we got home around midnight.

Yesterday Travalon and I had coffee on State Street before my adoration hour, then we went to the Monona Terrace Café for lunch, but it was closed, although the website had not indicated that it would be. We ended up getting tacos at Q-doba before meeting Kathbert for a long walk out onto Picnic Point and beyond, to Frauschi Point. In the evening Travalon and I went to the East Side Club because the Tiki Bar had opened for the season, but it began to rain as we headed there, and so they must have closed it just before we got there. At least we saw a rainbow. We had burgers and sundaes at Michael’s and then stopped at the Nau-Ti-Gal before calling it a night, and the bartender there was very friendly. We had a conversation with him about the popularity of boys’ names in different generations. He says all the guys his age are named Jacob, and they were all jealous of the one guy whose name was Jakob, because at least he was a little different. Interestingly, he had never heard of Toni as a girl’s name, and he said he knew two guys his age named Casey and a bazillion girls with that name, though they generally spell it some weird way, like Kaysea. He didn’t know a single girl his age named Stacy or Jenny, the two huge girls’ names when I was in school. It’s funny how much it has changed in just a generation.

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bouzouki at Band Practice


Yesterday evening I went to band practice as usual with my trusty mandolin, and since my bandmates are always asking me to bring one of the more exotic instruments, I brought the bouzouki too. They thought it was so cute, and one said it looked like the “little brother” of the mandolin, but since I think of my instruments as feminine, I prefer to consider it Mandy’s little sister. After we had gotten warmed up, I suggested we play something in D so I could easily use the bouzouki. We decided the klezmer music, which is in D minor, might work well – and it worked beautifully! The bouzouki has a little more exotic of a sound than the mandolin, and I could easily figure out the three chords I needed for the song (D minor, A, and G minor). I was playing along happily when suddenly we heard a snap, and the high D in the lower course went slack. I thought it must have broken, especially since I couldn’t easily get it to tighten up again. The strings came with the instrument when Travalon bought it at an antiques store, and who knows how old they are? However, once I got home and had more time to mess with the string, I found that it had just slipped, not broken. I retuned the bouzouki and practiced on it for my 100 Day Challenge, and then I practiced the mountain dulcimer and the balalaika. I can already see some improvement, and that was only Day 3 of the challenge. Imagine how good I might sound at Day 100 if I can actually keep this up!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pictures of Spring


As promised, here are some more photos. Many of these are of my favorite month - May! The first one is the balalaika Travalon got me for our wedding anniversary earlier this month.


Most of these flowers were blooming in May, although some were from April:


Hyacinths


Fritillary


Tulip that looks like a trillium


Crabapple tree


Anniversary picture!


Poppies


Tulip


Dogwood tree

Here are the creations Mamastep and I produced at Fired Up in April. She painted this VW Bug and made two pendants.



I painted this little hedgehog and made three pendants.




Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The 100 Day Challenge


I suppose many of the people (like there are that many) who read this blog have already seen my posts on social media, but why not put them here too? First is a photo of Richard Bonomo's "maximum fat" hot chocolate - with sprinkles!


And here is a beautiful orchid cactus we saw at the Olbrich Gardens conservatory:


Tomorrow I will try to post more photos. This post is about the 100 Day Challenge, something I remember hearing about where you post a video of yourself doing something not so well, and then you practice for 100 days and post a second video. Since I have all these instruments lying around, I am doing the 100 Day Challenge for three of them. First is the mountain dulcimer, and my attempt to play "Amazing Grace":

video

Next is my attempt to play a Russian folk tune called "Troika" on my new balalaika:


video

And finally, my attempt to play a piece of rebetiko music (sorry, I don't know the title) on the bouzouki. This is the piece I learned for Cecil Markovitch's birthday party.


video

Check back in 100 days to see if I have made any progress! That should be on or around the 30th of August.

Famous Hat


Monday, May 22, 2017

Beercation and Pa Hat's Birthday


I hope my readers had a good weekend, despite the lousy weather. Of course it was lovely before I had out of town guests, and today it is not bad out, but when everyone was visiting it was cold and wet. We still had a lot of fun anyway. My beer-loving aunt and uncle from Denver wanted to check out the Madtown brewing scene, so they came to town Thursday evening, along with Ma and Pa Hat from Minnesota. Travalon and I decided to bring them to Karben4 for dinner and beer sampling, but unfortunately it was too cold to enjoy their wonderful patio area like Travalon and I did with Rodney during Craft Beer Week. The Denver crew like their beers hoppier than Travalon does (he does not like IPAs at all), and while I don’t gravitate toward IPAs myself, I actually did enjoy all the beers.

Friday I had taken off of work, but Travalon had to work in the morning. I headed over to the hotel with my ukulele to jam with my uncle, who plays the flute. Since I am not that adept at jamming on the uke, we decided I should bring the mandolin the next day. Once Travalon got off of work, we went to Ale Asylum for lunch and a flight of their delicious beers. They even have Gail Ambrosius chocolates there, so we had some of those too. Our next stop was the Chocolaterian, so we could show off the Madtown craft chocolate scene some more. Everyone enjoyed the Parisian hot chocolate. We went to Olbrich and explored the conservatory, then we went into the gardens despite the cold weather, climbed the rose tower, and made our way to the Thai pavilion. In the evening we went to a Wisconsin fish fry with Irish overtones at Erin’s Snug Irish Pub. They have their own beer there, made by Leinenkugel’s.

Saturday my uncle and I jammed on the flute and mandolin in the morning as we all waited for my aunt and uncle from Chicago to arrive. Once they did, all eight of us went to Next Door Brewing for a flight of their tasty beers and lunch, including beer pie for dessert. My uncle from Denver loves New Glarus Brewing, so we drove down in two cars and got there not long before they closed. We had enough time to buy some beer and a fancy stein for my dad’s birthday the next day, then we went to an old tavern in town with murals depicting Switzerland on the walls. They actually had some New Glarus beers that the brewery shop had been out of, so we got some there too. We walked down the main street of the cute town, then we headed back to Madison and had dinner at Liliana’s, one of my favorite restaurants. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, and my Denver relatives were very happy about their extensive vegetarian menu.

Yesterday we all met for brunch at Crema Café, and Rich joined us to celebrate Pa Hat’s birthday. He ordered “hot chocolate, maximum fat” and they even put sprinkles on the whipped cream! It looked so decadent, you would have thought he was the birthday boy! After we ate, we sang “Happy Birthday” to Pa Hat, and a bunch of innocent bystanders gamely joined in. Pa Hat liked his stein. My aunt from Chicago headed off to C’s Bakery to get some of their famous rhubarb treats, and everyone else also headed out, so Travalon and I went for a hike in the south part of Cherokee Marsh. Afterwards I found my fourth tick of the season – yuck! We ended the evening by watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which was even better than the first one. So it was a wonderful weekend from beginning to end.

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Playing My Many Instruments


Lately in the evenings Travalon and I have been sitting on our screened-in porch, and he reads while I mess around on my various instruments. Yesterday I got really ambitious and played almost all of them, even Bubba Sue the mountain dulcimer. The evening before Travalon played along on his bass as I played the chords for “I Walk the Line” on the ukulele, since it was in the key of A so he just had to play the open strings A, D, and E at the appropriate times. My goal is to learn one song on each instrument so it won’t feel like a complete waste to own so many, although right now I can’t really do much with the rebec because it takes special gut strings, and the E string broke, so I have to find out where to get a replacement. Of course the instruments I can play the most songs on are still the violin and the mandolin. A coworker told me the other day that he knew someone who sold one of those old bowl-backed mandolins like mine for $1200. I have no idea if I could get $1200 for mine, and anyway, if I add up all the gig money I have made playing her, over the years it probably came out to more than $1200 (that would only be $75 per year, which is like three average gigs), so I have come out ahead by playing Mandy in public rather than selling her. Not that I would sell her anyway – she is a family heirloom, and one of my very dearest possessions. I love all my instruments, but if I had a favorite, she would probably be it. She is such a joy to play.

I probably won’t be blogging for the next few days, since my aunt and uncle from Colorado are coming to visit, as well as Ma and Pa Hat, so Travalon and I will be very busy entertaining them. We are going to explore the Madtown craft beer scene. 

Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Drumline Ridge Winery


I completely forgot to mention yesterday that after our hike in Cherokee Marsh, Travalon and I went to the new winery just down the road from us, Drumline Ridge. We got there ten minutes before they supposedly closed, but they were as friendly as could be. We each got a glass of white wine, and we split the local cheese platter. However, it was a tough choice between that and the European cheese platter. We sat outside, gazing out at the vines, and plenty of other people were out on the patio with us. They had $3 mimosas for Mother’s Day, but I really wanted to try their wine. The staff made absolutely no moves to kick us out, despite the late hour, and when we left the other people were still there. It was a laid-back atmosphere, and the wine was really good. I highly recommend this place!

Famous Hat

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cecil Markovitch's Big Birthday Party


I hope my readers had a good weekend. Thursday I went to the “big girl” ukulele jam again, but this time it seemed too hard, so at the break I gave up and sat out on the patio with Travalon and Hockey Girl, who had come to hear me. We had a great conversation about beauty in art. Friday Travalon and I joined Rich, A-Fooze, and her family at the Dorf Haus for a fish fry.

Saturday was an amazing day. Tomorrow Cecil Markovitch turns a big round number, so he wanted to have a big birthday pilgrimage. Travalon drove Jilly Moose, OK Cap, and me up to the shrine outside of Green Bay, while Cecil drove another car that included Cali, and the Single B-Boy drove a third car full of people. Of course I bought a couple more rosaries at the shrine, including a Fatima Centennial commemorative one. Then the three cars drove to Harrington Beach State Park, a beautiful park north of Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan with a small lake in it formed in an abandoned limestone quarry. There was a path around the small lake, so Travalon, Jilly Moose, and I hiked around it while almost everyone else hung out on the beach of the big (one might even say great!) lake. Then we drove to Milwaukee and went to Mass at the Basilica of St. Josephat’s, where we were joined by a bunch more people. After Mass they handed out holy cards for the Centennial of the Fatima apparition, since it was that day. Rich had picked up my balalaika, which had arrived while we weren’t there to get it, and he brought that along with the bouzouki Travalon had given me for Christmas a couple of years ago. I had learned one rebetiko song (that’s Greek folk music) from watching a YouTube video over and over, so I played that for Cecil on the bouzouki. Travalon and I also gave him socks that say “Worst gift ever” on them. We all walked across the street to the Serbian restaurant of Old Town, and Tiffy joined us there. Trinidad Cap brought his mother, who was visiting from Trinidad (of course), and I wonder what she thought of me carrying around a couple of crazy string instruments. It was such a fun party! My two favorite quotes were when one guy at my table said I have so many rosaries that I could pray the rosary using the rosaries (I love it! So meta! I may try it!) and when there was a dispute over whether A-Fooze or Trinidad Cap’s mother had come further for Cecil’s party, and the latter won the door prize (a solar activated waving Pope Francis figurine), A-Fooze said, “I’m never coming to your 60th birthday party again!”

Yesterday I skipped Mass, since I had gone last night, and Travalon and I went to visit his mother along with two of his brothers. We took her out for lunch after the other brothers left. Then he and I went for a hike at Cherokee Marsh, and we had a quiet evening at home eating pizza and risotto on the screened-in porch. I tuned up the balalaika according to instructions on the internet and attempted to play a song called “Troika” while Travalon read. There is a balalaika group in town, so there is hope that I may learn to play this instrument yet. I am not aware of a bouzouki group in town, but if anyone knows of anything, please let me know.

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Third Anniversary


Tuesday evening I saw A-Fooze, her parents, her sister, and her niece, who looks just like her sister. Travalon was happy to see them too, and he tried to speak a little Hungarian. Of course Rich made brownies, and Kathbert and my OTHER choir director came too. A-Fooze’s niece won a photography contest with a picture she took of a friend with her horse. She has a whole website of her photos – they are really good! She is seventeen.

Last night after I got home from band practice, Travalon and I went out for our anniversary. He has ordered a balalaika for me, but it hasn’t arrived yet, so he gave me a “meantime” present of a colorful rosary from Holy Hill. I had a “meantime” present for him of some books, since our tile will not be installed on the rooftop of the Monona Terrace for at least four months, but somehow I forgot to give them to him. We went to dinner at Mariner’s Inn, since it is twenty feet away from our condo, plus they gave us a coupon for free dessert for our anniversary. Then we came home and watched our wedding video. I always make Travalon watch it on our anniversary, and now we have seen it so many times that we end up talking through most of it, except during the really beautiful music, like Kathbert’s duet with Miss Heartsong. Still, I enjoy seeing it. Maybe we should have had the videographer record our reception too, but I thought that might be weird and intrusive for people, plus it was way more expensive than just recording the wedding Mass. However, I would have loved to have a video of Pa Hat’s speech and some of Lightbright’s band’s songs, and of course my first dance with Travalon as husband and wife. At least the photographer got lots of pictures of that!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Great Week, Except for Dieting


I have to be good now as far as diet goes, since Beer Week was kind of a bust that way. I am afraid to step on the scale! However, last night Travalon and I did go out for ice cream drinks, because a coworker he doesn’t like has, you know, “left to pursue other opportunities.” The bartender was very friendly, and he made a reservation for us for tomorrow, which is our anniversary. We get free dessert for the occasion. At least I will be good today, I thought… and then Handy Woman brought in a lemon almond cake. I asked what the occasion was, and she said she just liked to bake. I should have refrained, but man was it delicious! She is such a good baker. So I thought, after my last Irish class of the semester tonight, I will just go home and have a light dinner, maybe run off some calories… and then we found out A-Fooze is in town, so that almost certainly will entail more celebratory eating, and very little time for working off extraneous calories. I need to take up running extreme marathons to work off all the calories I am consuming lately!

Famous Hat

Monday, May 8, 2017

Craft Beer Weekend and Kentucky Derby


I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I had a very beery one, as we wrapped up Craft Beer Week. Friday we went to a historic stadium in town for beer pong, but you were supposed to have signed up ahead of time, so we just ended up talking to a young couple we had met the night before at the bar in the grocery store. Then we were going to the grand opening of the Parched Eagle’s second location, but it was delayed, so we went to the art space next door, which was participating in the annual Art Walk. They have a small bar there called Maria’s, so we had some free food and Travalon had a drink as we sat in the rosy glow of neon lights. Most of the art they had for sale there did not appeal to me, but I did really like a painting full of brightly-colored buildings and tropical foliage. I did not buy it but am starting to regret that decision.

Saturday Travalon and I had a very relaxing morning, sitting out on our screened-in porch and having brunch at Crema Café. We took a walk all the way around the lagoon in Warner Park, then we went to the Malt House for their sour beer event, and then we went to the Big 10 pub to watch the Kentucky Derby. However, we were an hour and a half early, so we had a bite to eat and a beer, and then we drove to the Nitty Gritty in Sun Prairie so we could sit outside with Rodney the Poodle. To our surprise, nobody else was outside. Travalon was stoked to find out one horse in the Derby was named The Battle of Midway, and he should have bet on it, because it had long odds on it but came in third, so if he had bet $100, he would have won $2080. The horse I liked (because of its name) was Irish War Cry, which was right at the front of the pack for most of the race but somehow came in tenth. The horse that did win was the one favored to win, and its owner is named Bonomo! A long lost cousin of Rich’s…? We ended the evening by going to the Monona Terrace roof, and on the way we saw some teenage boy climb over a wall he wasn’t supposed to and then run into the path of a biker, who had to swerve to avoid him. I laughed about it to Travalon, and the kid heard me so as he was walking away he was hollering a bad word at me, but at first I didn’t realize it. When I finally did realize that he was calling me a female dog, I just laughed harder, which just made him madder, so he kept hollering it at me as he ran off. I laughed about that forever! Once on the roof, I told Travalon that his anniversary present is going to be a tile with our names on it on the roof, but it won’t be installed until the fall, so we looked at some of the ones already up there. We gazed out over the lake, but I had to leave briefly to powder my nose, and when I came back, the lights had come up on the Airgas smokestack. What poor timing I have!

Yesterday Travalon and I went to the Rockhound Brewery for brunch that included “beermosas,” then we went to the Next Door Brewery for their beer pie made with their Darth Porter, and then we went to Alt Brewing, where all the beers are gluten free. Neither Travalon nor I have any issues with gluten, but we were just curious to see the place, and the bartender, who looked like a Viking, was very friendly. We took Rodney for a long hike at Lake Kegonsa State Park, then we wrapped up Craft Beer Week by having dinner and beer at Karben 4, another brewey up on the north side. It is in the old Ale Asylum space, now that Ale Asylum is so popular that they needed to move to a much bigger place. We sat outside there with Rodney, and some other people came with three dogs, so Travalon joked that it was a dog park. We had a really great Craft Beer Week, and Travalon put it on his calendar so it won’t sneak up on us next year. I did him one better and downloaded the app, so now I am getting notifications about beer all over town.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Secret to Hedgehog Longevity


I didn’t mention this in my last post, but on Wednesday evening before the luau at the Boathouse, I went to an Early Music event on campus. The theme for the Early Music Festival this year is the music of Don Quixote, so the food at the event was Spanish (e.g., tapas, flan), and the music was Spanish madrigals sung by a quartet. I sat alone at a table but was soon joined by two women I had never met before, and we had a good conversation. Both of them had recently moved to Madison, one to be near family and the other because she researched where she wanted to move after retirement. She said Boulder and Albuquerque were among her other choices, but she also chose Madison due to family proximity.

Last night I met a previous coworker for coffee, then Travalon and I went to the bar in Festival Foods for their Founders tap takeover. This is part of Craft Beer Week, of course, and so we asked for a stamp for the passport. It took some hunting, but they found it. The bartender was very friendly, and he mentioned that he knew someone who has owned ten hedgehogs. It does seem like the people I know who are into hedgehogs go through them at an alarming rate, while I mostly just coexisted with the one I had inherited, and she lived for many years. Seriously, someone told me you are supposed to weigh your hedgehog every day to make sure it isn’t losing weight, but Sylvia always seemed fat enough to me, and I’m sure she appreciated that I only handled her a couple of times a month. Also, I let her wander around the condo while these people always keep their hedgehogs in cages. It would seem that the secret to hedgehog longevity is to mostly ignore the creature and let it wander around freely. After all, if you were a hedgehog, wouldn’t you prefer that to being poked at and prodded daily and then being stuck back into a cage?

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Craft Beer Week


Travalon and I have been enjoying Craft Beer Week. On Saturday we were going to meet the Daughter of Denni and some other people at the Parched Eagle, but they were running late and we couldn’t stay. That was when we found out about Craft Beer Week, because the bartender gave us a beer passport. You get it stamped at each bar you go to that is participating. Sunday when we went to Barley Pop, they stamped our passport. Monday evening we went to One Barrel for their sour beer tasting, and Tuesday after going to Liliana’s for their truffle dinner (but they sold out!), we went to Alchemy for their sour beer tasting. Each of these bars has a cool stamp, but last night we got a lame stamp at what might have been the best event yet. It was a Karben 4 beer release at the Boathouse, the fancy restaurant in the Edgewater Hotel, and the theme was a luau. Travalon and I sat out on the balcony over Lake Mendota as we listened to Bahama Bob and another steel drum player, and we admired the spectacular sunset. The beer turned out to be Fantasy Factory, Karben 4’s super ultra-popular IPA, flavored with coconut and brown sugar. We couldn’t really taste any flavor over the powerful flavor of hops, so I wish I had tried the mango-flavored one instead. Maybe that would have had enough flavor to be detected over the hops. We are not really IPA drinkers, so the beer was a bit of a letdown, but otherwise it was a wonderful evening. The stamp, on the other hand, was just a black blob. You would think a classy joint like that could afford a better stamp...

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Perfect Tree


This time of year, as I walk around the neighborhood surrounding my job, I think about the perfect tree. It would bloom for several weeks in the spring and smell as wonderful as it looked. In the summer it would be a sturdy shade tree, and in the autumn its foliage would turn brilliant colors. Maybe it would even produce delicious fruit. And of course it would live for many years. Now I don’t know if any tree can fulfill all my wishes, and since I live in a condo and am not in control of landscaping, it’s sort of a moot point, but then I thought maybe there is a spiritual application of this desire in my life. Am I the best “tree” that I can be? Trees that bloom sometimes don’t have lovely fall foliage. Trees that produce fruit sometimes don’t live a long time. Trees with beautiful blossoms sometimes don’t have any scent. In the same way, sometimes people with one virtue are lacking in another, and maybe this is a call for me to examine my own life. Am I seeming to do so well in one area that I have let another area of my spiritual growth go? Could I become a soul that blooms AND turns brilliant colors? It’s certainly a question worth pursuing.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spamalot and Parental Visit


I hope my readers had a good weekend, despite the cold weather. Friday I was planning to go to a ukulele jam, but then I found out about a choral concert featuring the music of Bach, Handel, and Schuetz. One thing about Madtown – we have plenty of opportunities to enjoy early music! People are actually moving here to pursue a career in early music because our scene is one of the best in the nation. Isn’t that exciting? Travalon dropped me off at the church where I used to sing, since parking around there is kind of difficult, then he did a couple of Uber runs and made a little money while waiting for me to get out of the concert. So we were both had a wonderful evening.

Saturday Travalon and I met the Rosary Ladies for coffee on the west side so that we could easily head to the funeral for the father of the Dairyman’s Daughter out in Plain, a small town to the west. As you can guess from her blog name, he was a lifelong dairy farmer. After the funeral Travalon and I explored Plain; we found a German restaurant downtown, but the only part open for lunch was the pizza delivery part, so we had calzones at a German restaurant. Then we drove to Spring Green and discovered one of the authors from where I work was giving a talk about Nature Conservancy land in the local bookstore. Travalon bought a book for me about flappers. We met Rich at the Blue Spoon diner in Sauk for some coffee, then Travalon and I went to the Parched Eagle and got a Craft Beer Week passport, and then we drove to Menomonee Falls to see the theater group our sister-in-law is part of. She was not acting in this play but doing the lighting. The show was Spamalot, based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and it was very funny. The weirdest part was they had asked to borrow my ukulele for the show, but I demurred and said surely they could find one in the Milwaukee area. Instead, they used a balalaika – you would not think those would be easier to find than ukuleles! I am a little jealous because I have always wanted one.

Yesterday Ma and Pa Hat came to town, so Travalon, Rich, and I met them for a late lunch. Pa Hat was a bit under the weather, but Ma Hat was up for seeing the blooming crabapples at the Arboretum despite the cool weather, so the rest of us headed there. I love standing under the weeping crabapples – it smells so wonderful! Travalon and I wanted to go to a Craft Beer Week event that was also a pet rescue fundraiser at One Barrel, but the place was packed and the band had just wrapped up, so we walked to a place just a few doors down called BarleyPop that is like a candy store for adults. They have 40 beers on tap, and at least five of them were sours! We ended up talking a lot to the people sitting next to us, who were true beer connoisseurs. Like me, they love sours and don’t understand why IPAs are so darn popular. You can get five-ounce glasses at BarleyPop, so I tried three different beers. So much fun! I recommend this place whole-heartedly.

Famous Hat