Monday, July 31, 2017

Rodney's Eighteenth Birthday Remembrance

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

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

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

Famous Hat

Friday, July 28, 2017

Funky Concert on the Square

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

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

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Air Show Sightings

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

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trip to Green Bay

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

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

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

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

Famous Day

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mickey Mouse at the Outdoor Concert

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

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

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Music at Our Fingertips

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

Famous Hat

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Minding My Own Business

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

Famous Hat

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lots of Early Music and Boating

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

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

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

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Paddling on Lake Wingra

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

Famous Hat

Monday, July 10, 2017

Watercraft and the Early Music Festival

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

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

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

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

Famous Hat

Friday, July 7, 2017

Anna Banana II's Surprise Birthday Party

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

Famous Hat

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wednesday Ladies' Night

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

Famous Hat

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourth of July with Anna Banana II

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

Famous Hat

Monday, July 3, 2017

Trip to Rib Mountain and Roche-a-Cri

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

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

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

Famous Hat