Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lots of Buxtehude

I have been busy with the Early Music Festival, although this year I am not taking classes. Tuesday evening they had a concert put on by various faculty members in the Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest, which is where I sang for many years in the choir. It was a beautiful space for music that was originally sung in the Marienkirke, the Lutheran church in Lubeck. (Though of course the church was built to be a Catholic one.) Then yesterday there was a “fringe” concert that was not part of the official festival but was based on the same theme: Lubeck. The second half of the concert was all Buxtehude, and the first half was all pieces that were found in the Marienkirke library. It was also in a church, the Presbyterian chapel on campus, and afterwards there was a marzipan reception because the organizer and viola player had first had marzipan in Lubeck. While the performers were not the professionals at the official festival concerts, they were also really, really good. They performed one piece that I have on a CD, and they were just as good as the performers on the CD. We are so lucky that in this town we have such a vibrant early music scene.

Famous Hat

Monday, July 9, 2018

Wonderful Week Off

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had a great week off. Tuesday Travalon and I went camping at Roche-a-Cri State Park for my half-birthday, which was an adventure. We have both camped many times before, but always with other people who knew what they were doing. This was our first time doing it ourselves, but we figured it out and finally had a roaring campfire to grill burgers over and sing around while I played the ukulele. Only a few other people were at the park, so we felt like we had it to ourselves.

On the 4th of July we drove to Castle Rock County Park and swam in the lake. Warning: there are two Castle Rock County Parks, one in Adams County and one in Juneau County. I’ll save you the time by telling you the Juneau County one is the one you want to go to. We drove to Buckhorn State Park and grilled the rest of our burgers for lunch, then we went to Mill Bluff State Park and swam in the pond there. Back in town we joined Rich and a large crowd of other people for the Patriotic Concert on the Square. No cannons during the 1812 Overture this year. Afterwards Travalon and I went to the East Side Club to watch the Monona fireworks.

Thursday Travalon and I had a relaxing day. We had lunch outside at the Free House and then hiked on Governor’s Island. He went fishing with a buddy back in his home area while I met Light Bright for dinner and then shopping at Goodwill. Thrift store shopping is the way to go: you can buy a whole outfit for $5! Then I went to the new tavern in our neighborhood and sat outside enjoying a craft beer while watching the fireworks from the Mallards game across the street. It was a perfect view.

Friday Travalon had to work. I went to a retirement party at my old job for one of the other people who got a layoff notice. He decided to just retire a year early instead of looking for another position. It was a very quiet day over there, so I spent time talking to Handy Woman. In the evening Travalon and I took the free Middleton Trolley just for fun, but then it passed the Capital Brewery and we saw they had a live band playing, so we got off and listened to them until the trolley returned. That was a super fun and free activity, except that of course we enjoyed a couple of beers.

Saturday Travalon and I went to the Farmers’ Market, but we got there kind of late and some of the vendors were already packing up. Tons of people were still shopping there. Tiffy came to town for the Early Music Festival, and she, the Daughter of Denni, and I had dinner at Himal Chuli’s and then enjoyed the first concert, where they played some Buxtehude. The theme of the festival this year is “Journey to Lubeck,” which early music enthusiasts will probably realize refers to the trip Bach took to study with Buxtehude. Since Buxtehude is a great favorite of mine, I am very excited about this year’s theme.

Yesterday after Mass one of our choir members had brunch for all of us at her beautiful house. Her backyard is particularly wonderful. Travalon and I had promised to bring orange juice, and when we stopped for it, we were ecstatic to find these delicious smoked Gouda crackers we had discovered on our trip down south in March but hadn’t been able to find up here. Then Tiffy and I took a $5 pontoon boat ride on Lake Mendota, and then we had dinner at Roast on State Street before the Early Music concert. This one was Piffaro, the loud band, and while they didn’t do any Buxtehude, they did focus on older influences on Bach, like some old Lutheran hymns that made me very nostalgic for my OTHER choir director’s choir. However, he is retired now so there is no going back.

Famous Hat

Monday, July 2, 2018

Limnology Department Open House

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday I had a great time at the Limnology Department's open house. Not only did I get to go into the mysterious building on the lake, but I got free ice cream and a boat ride! On the boat we pulled tiny creatures out of the water and watched them swim around in a jar. Why didn't I major in Limnology?

Saturday morning Travalon had to work, so I met Rich, the Single B-Boy, and another woman I often mention on this blog for coffee. The other woman talked Rich and me into going to the zoo, where we sang with white-handed gibbons and ate Zanzamint ice cream. In the evening Travalon and I went out with some Slow Food folks to enjoy Sustainable Seafood Week. That was fun and delicious. One couple are a real pair of foodies, yet totally down to earth. They are the best.

Yesterday Travalon and I joined most of the rest of his family in celebrating his mother's wedding anniversary, then we went to Spring Green to see the blooming cacti, but not too many of them bloomed this year. We went to evening Mass at St. Paul's and then hung out on the Union Terrace.

I am on vacation all this week - what a rough way to start a new job, ey? Today I hiked on Governor's Island and at Cherokee Marsh, then after dinner Travalon and I went out to play some tennis as we often do, but we were kind of weirded out by a plane circling overhead. It was a big passenger jet plane, and it circled six times before finally flying off. I know we aren't far from the airport, but it is not a terribly busy airport, and we couldn't figure out why a plane would need to circle like that.

This blog is being weird. I was going to post a bunch of photos and a couple of videos, but right now all it is letting me post is this video of my band playing a very boring waltz at Make Music Madison. Enjoy!

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Unicorn Night at the Duck Pond

I forgot to mention that last Thursday Travalon and I went on a Betty Lou luau cruise. The weather was cold and damp, so we didn’t wear Hawaiian shirts, but many of our fellow cruisers did. However, we were the only ones who sat outside because we were dressed for the elements. Why would I want to sit inside on a boat? I want to see the water. The food was delicious, and the hostesses were very attentive, and we enjoyed it immensely despite the weather. It was no worse than the time we were on that fishing boat in Alaska, and that was one of the most wonderful times of my life.

Wednesday evening Travalon and I went to Marshall Park for our health club’s summer picnic. I don’t remember them doing this other years, but I liked it better than their usual St. Patrick’s Day party in an overcrowded restaurant. We got there halfway through, and they were temporarily out of pizza, so I was a bit annoyed, but we had a free drink and then more pizza arrived. Better yet, we got to take a free pontoon boat ride in Bishop’s Bay. Our captain took us by the castle someone built in the Bishop’s Bay subdivision and by the little shanties that I love so much. It was a perfect night for a boat ride. Then several of us watched the full moon rise.

Last night Travalon and I went to a Mallards game. So many people were there that we had to park far away in the mall parking lot, but then a kid with a golf cart who was patrolling the parking lot gave us a ride to the lot entrance. It was Unicorn Night, so we each got a bobble head of Maynard the Mallard riding a unicorn that is pooping out a rainbow. A guy sitting near us had a light-up unicorn horn, and when I asked where he got it, he explained that it was for competing in a silly dance competition in the 7th inning. He said, “Do you have a bobble head? I’ll trade – this is more unusual.” I thought about it, and we had two, so once he was done dancing, he gave me the unicorn horn headband, and I gave him one of our bobble heads. I immediately put the unicorn horn on and loved it, except for the pesky group of kids who kept trying to offer me $3 for it. I was like, “No way, man! I had to trade a bobble head for this!” Seriously, you would think they would at least offer a real amount of money if they were serious. And their mom had one, so why didn’t she just get more for them? The guy who gave it to me said he had also thrown out the first pitch (which we missed because of having to park so far away), and so he had gotten a game ball, but he gave that to a little kid right away. Imagine if I could have gotten a unicorn horn AND a game ball for a bobble head! Best trade ever!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Mysterious Ancient Delivery Van

Yesterday something happened that I found really interesting, and hopefully you, my readers, will find it at least slightly interesting. Many years ago I went to college in the same town where I now reside, and at that time I would occasionally see a bright blue delivery van with a logo of a white cartoon van on the side. On the back was the same cartoon van, but at a rakish tilt so that it looked like it was careening around a corner at high speed. I thought it was very cute but also somewhat puzzling – what was it delivering? Why was the name of the company a secret? I hadn’t seen it in years, but a few years ago I did see it again and was shocked – how could it still be running? Then just yesterday as I was waiting for the bus, I saw it drive by again. This time I noticed that the van logo was actually a book with wheels and a cab, and that there were very faint words on the side of the van, as if they had been painted over. I googled the name and found a Yellow Pages entry for a place that delivers books to schools. I really wanted to take a picture of this van, but the two guys driving it looked at me suspiciously, probably because I reacted with such surprise to seeing them, that I thought the worst thing I could do in that moment was whip out my cell phone and snap a picture. However, now I know the address of the place the van must live most of the time, when it is not out delivering books, so maybe I can sneak by there sometime and take a picture of it while it is parked. Of course, it is in the rough part of town, so that won’t look even more suspicious than if I’d taken a picture of it driving by… You may just have to imagine this van. I probably shouldn’t risk my life getting a picture of it for my 4.5 loyal readers, as much as I want to.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 25, 2018

Lots of Boating

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday I worked, then I drove to the outdoor theater to see a play called The Recruiting Officer with the Dairyman’s Daughter, Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, and Luxuli. My ride back was very uneventful – no wild storms blew up. Travalon was at a concert that was sort of a Grateful Dead one; it was most of the surviving members and a lot of their repertoire. He said I would approve because everyone was wearing tie-dye.

Saturday morning Travalon and I met Rich, Anna Banana II, and another woman for coffee, then Rich left and the rest of us went to the Farmers' Market. I bought smelly cheese, flavored popcorn, and just what I need – another plant. It’s an adorable cactus that looks like a pickle. When we got home, I wasn’t sure where to put it, but then it occurred to me that there was a whole sunny window ledge facing south in the loft. How have I lived in our condo for four years and never thought of this? A very large plant called Jolly Bob is sitting by the window, enjoying the sunshine, but the window ledge was completely unoccupied, so I moved several cacti up there. They like to be ignored, anyway. Travalon and I took a boat ride way back into the marsh, and the water is so high that we didn’t have to worry about the water plants reaching us. In the evening Rich had Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, Kathbert, Travalon, and me over for dinner, and then his Brazilian houseguest returned from a weeklong trip to Buffalo and said, “It’s good to be home!” He really likes Madison. Anna Banana II, Travalon, and I went to the big fireworks show, and where we sat at the edge of Monona Bay had a great view and a festive air, with all the other people around.

Yesterday was a very boat-filled day. After brunch Travalon and I moved my huge plants Greg and Kinetic from Rich’s house to our condo, then we met Hockey Girl for a $5 pontoon boat ride. Our neighbor with a sailboat took us on an evening sail, and the weather was perfect – we went straight across the lake, aiming right for the tallest building on campus. And guess where my new job is? In that building with an 8th story window overlooking the lake. So this new job would be wonderful even if they hadn’t given me a 14% raise. It’s amazing how life can go from “Oh no!” to “Oh yeah!” in just a few short weeks.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hangin' Out with Anna Banana II

Sorry that I haven’t blogged in so long. I have been so busy now that Anna Banana II is making her annual visit to town. Friday I worked half a day, then Travalon helped me move a giant plant from my office to Richard Bonomo’s house, and then we had lunch at McGee’s and some sour beer at Funk Factory before heading to Spring Green. We hiked at the cactus place and had dinner at an old-fashioned drive-in before I went to a very funny play called Born Yesterday at the outdoor theater with the Dairyman’s Daughter. Travalon went fishing, then we met up after the play and headed home, but suddenly a storm blew up. We hadn’t seen that in the forecast! We made it to Madison, but the roads were so flooded that we had to escape onto back roads and ended up spending the night at Rich’s.

Saturday Travalon and I had a leisurely brunch at the Lakeside Café, out on the balcony, while the weather was beautiful. It quickly got very hot, so when we headed to Anna Banana II’s cottage on Lake Ripley to join her and Jilly Moose for lunch, we just sat inside. Eventually Rich, Luxuli, and Prairie Man joined us, then Travalon and I had to leave for the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan concert at Breese Stevens Field. That was excellent, although Travalon was a bit bummed that Steely Dan did not do his favorite song, “Deacon Blues.” They did do mine, “Kid Charlemagne.” He bought me a concert T-shirt that says “Hey 19” on the back. What color is it? Deacon Blue, of course!

Sunday after Mass Travalon and I went to Bear N Bottle for brunch, then we met Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, and Rich for a $5 pontoon boat ride on Lake Mendota. It was so wonderfully breezy on the lake, but so hot once we got back to land! We went to Salmo Pond and swam in the very cold water, then we went to Rich’s, where he grilled burgers and we also had leftovers from the party the day before. Kathbert also joined us.

Monday after work I met the other Rosary Ladies at Café Porta Alba for dinner, then we went to see The Incredibles 2, which was really good. For the adults, it had an interesting commentary on gender role reversals and expectations. I highly recommend it.

Yesterday I took the day off of work, and Travalon, Anna Banana II, Jilly Moose, and I drove to Lambeau Field, where we stopped at the Packer Pro Shop. We drove to Sturgeon Bay and took a boat ride run by a young, energetic couple – the wife even dressed up as a Dalmatian at one point, and she let us use the fire hose on the old firefighting boat and hosted a limbo contest for the kids. Then we went hiking at Whitefish Dunes State Park, and we returned to Lambeau for dinner at 1919. We stopped at Miracle Mile in Fond du Lac to buy lottery tickets, since the jackpot was up to $147 million, and we got our tickets just in time for the drawing. However, we didn’t win anything so today I am back at work for three more days. Monday I start my new job!

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Medical (Non) Emergency

Yesterday was another eventful day for me. I took the morning off of work and took a walk to enjoy the beautiful weather, then I went to a health assessment. Most of my numbers were good, but for some reason my blood pressure, which is usually very good, was extremely high, especially the diastolic. It was so bad that - no joke - they made me go to the emergency room because I also had a headache. Oddly, they had no problem with me driving myself there, because you would think that if I was having a stroke, the last place you would want me is behind the wheel of a car. I kept saying I just had a headache from a lack of food and coffee. In the emergency room they hooked me up to monitors, and I could see my diastolic was still very high. At least the doctor said I could eat, so the nurse brought me a turkey sandwich and two glasses of water (does he know me, or what?), and after that my blood pressure dropped to normal. Their best guess is that my favorite antihistamine which also contains a decongestant did this. A coworker said it was probably because I took it on an empty stomach, which makes sense since things went back to normal once I ate. The doctor said don't take that decongestant anymore, which is a shame because it really works. I already have to sign my life away every time I buy it, since you can use it to make meth if you have enough of it so they only let you get so much per month.

The evening was much calmer. The other Rosary Ladies were busy, but Luxuli and I went to a Ladies' Night at a local nursery, where we enjoyed free wine and popcorn, ate gourmet tacos, and bought way too many plants. I made a succulent garden in a wine bottle. I will post photos soon.

Tonight was also really pleasant. The weather was perfect as Travalon and I listened to a Beatles tribute band on the roof of the Monona Terrace, beneath the blooming Chinese lilac trees. The Beatles are his favorite band, and this tribute band did a good job trying to look and sound like them.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

No Good Solution for the Lady Cardinal

Yesterday on the way home from work, I saw something very sad: a pretty brown and orange bird flopping around on the road. It was a super busy road, with nowhere to pull off, and I didn't have the presence of mind to stop and put my hazards on. I got off at the next turn and parked, then I ran back, but the bird had already been flattened. It was a female cardinal. Then I realized there would have been no good solution to the problem, because if I had stopped and put on my hazards, I probably would have been rear-ended, and if she had still been alive by the time I ran back, I would have been killed trying to get her off the road. She was likely already mortally wounded when I had first seen her alive on the road. Just to top things off, in my haste I had forgotten my cell phone, so I got no credit for all those steps running back to try to rescue her.

Today was an interesting day. Back at the end of April, they told us at work that four positions were being eliminated, and mine was one, so I only had a job through the first week of July. I have been interviewing like crazy since then, and this morning I had an interview at a relatively new department made of three previous departments smooshed together: German, Nordic, and Slavic. This was in the tall language building where I spent most of my undergraduate years, and I would have a window up on the 8th floor with a great view. The interview only took ten minutes, so I thought they must not be interested. Then I went back to work and was discussing something with a coworker when she got a reference call for me, and then my boss said someone had called him for a reference and left a message, did I know which job such-and-such a person was calling from? I said in shock, "Yes, that's the one I interviewed for a couple of hours ago!" Right after that Light Bright texted me to say they had called her, too! Then they called to offer me the job!! Mere hours after I had interviewed! Meanwhile I have not heard from some of these other places for weeks. I don't have an offer letter in hand yet, but I can tentatively say that after five years with the Press (my anniversary was on Saturday), I will be moving on to the German, Nordic, and Slavic Department.

So I had my interview outfit at work, then at the end of the day I had to change into a third outfit: my band T-shirt. We had a gig at Pheasant Branch playing for an hour, and though we didn't busk, someone left two dollars on the guitarist's case so we each got fifty cents. What a crazy day! Now I  have a new job and fifty cents.

Here are some pictures from our recent adventures. First is a picture I forgot to post before, of the heather plant Travalon got me as an anniversary present.

This next picture is my jasmine blooming. If only I could have posted its scent, but unfortunately that technology does not yet exist, though why I don't know. It seems like it should be easy to do.

When we went on the Epic tour, there was a whole meeting room set up to look like the cantina from Star Wars. I took this picture of Cecil Markovitch sitting in an elaborate but not particularly comfortable chair in that room.

This is the beautiful sunset we saw at the Mallards game last week.

I see some lovely flowers on my daily walk in the neighborhoods around work. Here is a poppy.

These are the tie-dyed shirts I made for Travalon and me.

It's so good to be back in the boat! Here is my favorite captain at the helm!

Our neighbors out for a walk with their kids. You can't really see one young crane, because it is behind one of the adults, but you can see its legs behind the second adult.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Jazz Concert

I hope my readers had a good weekend. It was another two-day one for me because I had to work Friday again. Saturday Travalon and I met Richard Bonomo for coffee, then we went on a boat ride out into the marsh. The weather was beautiful then, but when I went to the outdoor theater with Rich, the Dairyman’s Daughter, Cecil Markovitch, and the Single B-Boy, lightning flashed in the distance now and then. Toward the end of As You Like It the rain arrived, and then they called the play off because of the threat of lightning. What a shame, we made it almost to the end. We can go back some other time to watch it, but it’s a long way to go. Maybe I’ll just read the synopsis of the play...

Yesterday the weather was cold and wet, so Travalon and I didn’t mind spending the afternoon inside at a free jazz concert. It was the last event of the Isthmus Jazz Festival, a band playing 20’s and 30’s jazz, and when it comes to jazz, I say the older, the better. The only bad thing about this band was that they didn’t have a trombone, which as my regular readers know is my very favorite instrument ever, but they were fantastic otherwise. They had a piano player who also sang, a banjo player, a trumpet player, a clarinet player, and a tuba player. The audience was mostly grumpy old people; I’m not sure why the audience for jazz would be so old, or so grumpy, which I like to think are two separate qualities. Certainly not every old person is grumpy! I must say the older gentleman sitting at our table was friendly, but he is a retired musician. Musicians often have an inner well of joy, as if they are always thinking of how wonderful it is to create music even when they are not playing. I think everyone should play music to the best of their abilities. Travalon is having so much fun playing the bass on our porch.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Touring Madtown and a Mallards Game

This week I took Tuesday off of work instead of Friday because Travalon had out-of-town guests coming to visit. They are a couple he met while on a trip to the Balkans and stayed in touch with all these years. They live in the state of Oregon but have relatives about an hour away, so they wanted to come visit Travalon and meet me for the first time. We met for lunch on the roof of the Monona Terrace, then we toured the Capitol, including the balcony along the bottom of the dome from which you can get a fabulous view of the isthmus. The female half of this couple was captivated by the beautiful Capitol building and the views of the lakes from the balcony, and she took a lot of pictures. We took a stroll down State Street and had Zanzibar chocolate ice cream, which they both enjoyed. It is dark chocolate ice cream, and I’ve never had anything else like it. Digression: once years ago I took a bike ride to Verona with the Lutherans, and the pastor was singing about this particular flavor of ice cream to the tune of “White Christmas” the whole way. Anyway, Travalon and I had thought his friends were staying for dinner, but they had to head out, so we had a romantic dinner just the two of us on the balcony at Paisan’s, where we overlooked Lake Monona and got to watch a waterskiing show.

Yesterday Travalon and I joined a bunch of my coworkers to watch a Mallards game. We did this last year too, and you can’t beat the seats – right behind home plate! Plus you get unlimited ballpark food and three beers. Usually they just have cheeseburgers and brats, but last night they had these really delicious marinated, grilled shrimp. I saw a kid with corn on the cob, but the only vegetable matter I could find at the buffet was coleslaw. Not to complain about free food! Best of all, the Mallards beat the Wausau Woodchucks 6-4. Last year during our work outing they lost by a lot. Did you know three Mallards players from the 2016 season got drafted into the Major Leagues? One is going to the Cubs. I think the other ones are going to the Marlins and the Rockies. How exciting! One of them was a hitter that Travalon and I thought we should keep an eye on, since we thought he was so good that he might have a bright future in baseball. Looks like we were right!

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Epic Tour

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine started on Friday evening, when a bunch of us from work went to the Union Terrace to drink beer and hang out. Hockey Girl and I were going to attend a concert at Brocach, but just like with the Chocolaterian last weekend the place was inexplicably closed that night, so we went to an Indian restaurant instead. Then we joined Travalon at the Lakeside for the twice-monthly Classical Guitar Society concert.

Saturday Travalon and I went to the main library downtown, and I made tie-dyed shirts for both of us (for free!) while he explored the book selection. We went to Banzo so he could have some lunch; I had eaten my curry leftovers from the night before and was going to just have iced tea, but they advertised something called a “baklava sundae,” and it really is as amazing as it sounds. Then we went for a long, tick-filled hike in the Mendota Prairie Unit for National Hiking Day before going to Mass. In the evening we met Hockey Girl at the Chocolaterian to hear the Daughter of Denni’s band play. She is the sister-in-law of our favorite guitarist from the Classical Guitar Society – yes, he is married to the other Daughter of Denni.

Yesterday I sang at the Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest for the last time because my OTHER choir director was retiring. I forgot how disciplined he asks his choir to be! Afterwards there was a luncheon and lots of tributes to him. Then the Single B-Boy, who works at Epic, took a few of us on a tour there. Everything you have heard about their campus is probably true. Is there a slide from one floor to another? Yes! I slid down it! Is there free juice in the fridge? Yes! I drank some! The B-Boy works in the Harry Potter part of the campus, which is very cool, but the place is so large that we didn’t get to see the Fairy Tale part or the Farm part. He promised to take us on another tour sometime soon, so stay tuned to find out how that goes.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bobcats and Waterfalls

Sorry that I haven't blogged in so long. To make it up to you, here is a very long blog post with photos and videos. Travalon and I had a five-day weekend, and we started it on Thursday evening by going to the Mezz and sitting on the balcony. Friday Travalon and I cleaned, then we went downtown for a few hours and had lunch at a food cart, and then Travalon had to work for a couple of hours while I met Hockey Girl for dinner on the Monona Terrace.

Saturday Travalon and I took the Merrimac Ferry on the way to Devil's Lake, then we climbed up the Pothole Trail to the top of the East Bluff. It was so steep that I was sure I couldn't get back down that way, and someone told us the other side was even steeper, but there was a CCC trail that was supposedly more gradual. This did not turn out to be true, but it was a new trail to me, so it was an adventure. In the evening we were going to watch a Cajun band with Hockey Girl, but for some reason the concert was canceled, so we went to Common Ground and played Scrabble (I won), and then we saw a really fun group at the Harmony Bar that was called something like the Mad City Jug Band. They played a lot of 20's music and had a great fiddler, a banjo player, a bass player, a washboard player, two guitarists - one with a kazoo - and a harmonica player. So great!

Sunday Travalon and I drove north, stopping at the Packer Pro Shop at Lambeau Field. We went to what Travalon thought was the last state park he had to visit, Governor Thompson State Park, but he found out not too long ago there is another one called Straight Lake that he hasn't been to either. We started at a lake and hiked along a trail with three huge rock formations, but the mosquitoes were really bad and the ticks were unbelievable. I must have found thirty of them on me! As we were driving to Marinette, we saw a bobcat run across the road! Travalon was very excited because he has been really interested in bobcats lately. We had dinner and delicious beer at a brewpub called the Rail House, and then we swam in the pool in our hotel. Our room had a beautiful view of the Menominee River.

Memorial Day we took a walk on the island in the river right by our hotel, which had some historic sites on it, then we drove into Menominee, Michigan and walked out to the lighthouse. We were listening to the 40's station, and they kept having patriotic songs to mark the holiday. It was definitely the right station for Memorial Day! We drove even further north and visited three waterfalls: Dave's Falls, Twelve Foot Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Can you believe this? On the way to the last one, we saw another bobcat run across the road right in front of us! It's like they knew Travalon was hoping to see them. We also had a picnic at Dave's Falls with leftovers from our dinner the night before. Travalon's brother called to say his mother was in the hospital, so we hurried back to see her, but she was asleep when we got there. The nurses said she was doing much better.

Yesterday we went to see Travalon's mom, and she was tired but was cracking jokes, and then they came to move her from the ICU to a regular room because she had improved so much. Travalon and I had lunch at a pizza place overlooking Fowler Lake, then we came home and got our boat on the water. We went a little way into the marsh and then went a little way into the lake. It had been really hot, but when we went to the Nau-ti-gal for dinner, there was a wonderful breeze. A boat that was docked there was capsized, and when we went to inspect it, two guys kayaking by asked if it was ours. We said no, and we had no idea whose it was. We told the waitress about it, since the restaurant also owns the boat slips, but she did not seem too concerned.

Here are some photos from our various adventures. This first one actually comes from Tiffy, who had a grand adventure in Scotland recently. She sent me this photo of Scots Gaelic, and I can make out a few words, but it isn't exactly like Irish Gaelic. It seems to say something about a public Gaelic room.

During Beer Week, Travalon and I went to the Next Door Brewery and had a beer and cupcake tasting. The cupcakes were vanilla, lemon, lavender, and chocolate. I remember one of the beers was a saison, and one was a stout.

Travalon and I did not actually dine on this car during our anniversary train ride, but another one that was even older.

I went to the Arboretum to see the magnolias and crabapples blooming, and I saw some turkeys too!

In Milwaukee, we saw this cat drawn on the sidewalk.

Here is a view of Devil's Lake from near the top of the Pothole Trail.

On our way up north, we passed this marker in a town called Beaver that noted we were halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

At Governor Thompson State Park, we saw lots of flowers, like trilliums (trillia?), including pink ones that I couldn't get a picture of, and these little purple flowers everywhere.

Here I am in front of one of the rock formations at Governor Thompson.

This is the lighthouse in Menominee, Michigan.

These little star-shaped flowers were all over at Horseshoe Falls.

I am not sure what this pink plant is, but I thought it was pretty cool.

This is a tiny island just down the river from Eight Foot Falls, which was just down the river from Twelve Foot Falls. Neither of these falls seemed to be as tall as their names implied.

This picture is from right by my job. For the last couple of years, someone has trimmed back these peonies just before they bloomed, which seems somewhat psychotic. I wondered if they would let the poor peonies bloom this year - and they did!

A couple of videos of the waterfalls; this first one is Dave's Falls.

This is Horseshoe Falls, which is very hard to get to. You have to take a "state forest road," which is not paved, and then hike on a narrow trail. But the falls are very pretty.

Finally, here is a silly video of Travalon flying our kite.

I have a very cool video of the wings on the Art Museum closing, but it is too long to post so I will have to put it on YouTube and then link it to this blog. Watch for that soon.

Famous Hat

Monday, May 21, 2018

Last Bunny Berigan Jazz Jamboree

Sorry that I never blogged about last weekend, but it would mostly be about the wonders of beer. This weekend Travalon and I started off with a mini-craft beer event when we went to Octopi on Thursday for pizza and beer. Friday we cleaned for an hour, as we have been doing, and I spent my hour cleaning in the plant room. It was very satisfying because now the plant room looks much neater. Then we went to Macha Tea for a popup pasta lunch. We hiked on the boardwalk in McFarland and then flew our kite near our house. It was such a relaxing day! In the evening we went to Karben 4 for more craft beer.

Saturday Travalon and I joined three Slow Food buddies in Milwaukee: first we went to the public market, then we took a boat ride down the Milwaukee River and went out into the lake just in time to see the “wings” on the Art Museum close, and then we had dinner at a small plate restaurant. We kept ordering one or two dishes at a time and would pass them around, and that worked perfectly. For some reason their menu was divided into sections that were listed in English, then maybe Spanish or Italian – it was hard to tell because the words are often the same in both languages – then in Irish, and then in some Southeast Asian language, maybe Thai or Javanese. Even odder, the Asian language was missing from the dessert menu. I meant to ask about that but forgot. 

Yesterday Travalon and I went to the Bunny Berigan Jazz Jamboree in Fox Lake, and we were so sad to find out it will be the last one ever. The festival has been going on for virtually my entire life, but they are low on funds and the demographic of the attendees is aging out of existence. Are there really no young swing fans anymore? We did see a few younger people there, but truly most of the audience members were quite advanced in age. The bands were excellent, as always. The weather had been cold and rainy, so we didn’t mind being inside all day, but it was lovely out by the time we left, so once we got back to town we took a walk on Governor’s Island. A bittersweet memory for Travalon, because that was where we took Rodney on his second-to-last walk ever. He says the stuffed animals comfort him through this time of loss, and when we got home, the latest addition to his family had arrived: a stuffed honey badger! Her name is Kizi, like the character from Roots. She is very cute.

Famous Hat

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Panda Family Tale Part Four

Travalon concludes his story about the panda family:

Negotiations between the Wheeling and Shanghai zoos began, but moved along slowly. The Chinese drove a hard bargain. They shot down an attractive offer of a Copybara and a Ring Tailed Lemur for Grandy and insisted on an exchange of a young but full grown American Bison, a fairly rare Rhinosaurus Hornbill bird, and $10,000 cash in exchange for Grandy, two giant deadly Chinese bees, and a platypus. Difficult, but because Wheeling valued loving homes for red pandas so much, they considered it. There were other bison at the zoo, the Hornbill could be replaced as the  Milwaukee County Zoo had a couple that could be dealt for. The bees sounded scary at first for their animal handlers to take on, but they were well trained. They could make a very interesting exhibit for Wheeling, especially for teenage zoo patrons, as they are so dangerous and only found in China. 

Coming up with the cash was a problem. It was tax season and the zoo owed. It also took a revenue loss during the past winter. Regardless, a Bring Grandy Home fundraiser event was proposed and launched.

Meanwhile back in Madison, despite the anxiety of the wait for Grandy, and the panda family missing him terribly, life went on pretty happily. Randy and Andy came along with Famous Hat and me on the Packer cruise. They loved being on the ocean, and seeing the southern US, but didn't care for the 85 F heat, so unlike the cool temps of the Himalayas. 
Mama Mandy struck up a friendship with Angie the barista bear, and they made a big Easter dinner for the whole panda family, green Irish bear family, Dieter, and all our critters. The pandas also rescued a starving female bobcat named Bobbi back in the marsh and we welcomed her to into our home, and later did the same with her tiny daughter Bobbette. Little Shandi still dreamed of a never-to-be romance with Dieter and continued to join him on the night watch. 
The funds were raised for the Grandy deal. More weeks went by as Shanghai had to get final approval from their CPA. Wheeling officials said, "What, they need a Certified Public Accountant to check the books for this?"  No, it was their Chinese Panda Authority.
The deal finally went through, and a worn-out Grandy was now on his way to join his family in our home! 
Needless to say, the whole red panda family lived happily ever after! 


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Panda Family Tale Part Three

Travalon continues his story of the red panda family.

In Minneapolis, brothers Randy and Andy Panda were thrilled to see each other and to be living under the same roof with these kind gentle and caring humans. They loved sitting in the back seat together on the ride home, catching up. Now settled in their new home in Madison, WI (often colder than Sikkim in the winter) they would romp in the backyard together and climb the trees every day. Andy followed his brother's lead most of the time, although sometimes on his own he would get into unexplained mischief.
Meanwhile, back in Sikkim the smoke from the last forest fire seeped into the Panda family's den and Mandy and Shandi had to evacuate, at least temporarily. Maybe they would somehow find the others. Within a few hours the WWF rescuers found them. The two female pandas complied with all the procedures and did not put up any kind of fight. Shandi was very frightened, but Mandy her loving mama held her close and assured her everything would be ok. It would be! They were both deemed very adoptable and their DNA's were matched with Randy and Andy's. Upon contact with the center in Wheeling, they were given the go-ahead to be sent to America, and offered to Famous Hat and I for adoption, a chance for most of the family to live together. Of course we immediately agreed! The more pet red pandas, the merrier!! 

They were checked out briefly in Wheeling and then transported directly to the Vilas Zoo in Madison for additional rest and nourishment before being welcomed into our home. Randy and Andy were thrilled to see their mom and little sister as the females were thrilled to see them and that they were alive and well! They all lived happily together under our roof, although our bed was getting a bit crowded as the green Irish bears and Jørgen the Narwhal shared it too. Shandi adored and had developed romantic feelings toward Dieter. She enthusiastically joined him out in the living room for the overnight watch every night. He enjoyed her company, but was much more focused on his job of protecting the condo. He was very loyal to his owners like most German Shepherds. 
Back in Sikkim the question remained: Where was the family's long-lost father Grandy Panda? Now well-rested and healed, he set out to find his way home, hoping the rest of his family would be there. As with the others, the WWF quickly found him. He snarled a bit, but quickly realized he couldn't escape these humans and their plan for him. As his DNA testing began an unexpected wrench was thrown into things. A rescuer from China determined that he looked exactly like a missing red panda from Shanghai Zoo #32. Without properly checking all blood samples, he was fully convinced that Grandy was the Chinese red panda Zhing-Zhing and convinced his associates to send him to Shanghai permanently. Grandy was shocked and saddened but there was nothing he could do. All he think about was the fact that he'd never see his family or the wilds of Sikkim again. He didn't enjoy life in his small glass cage, his restless cage companion Ting-Ting, or being gawked at by children tapping on the glass all day long. 
We made an inquiry about Grandy's possible whereabouts with the center in Wheeling. They contacted the WWF camp in Sikkim and luckily a rescuer from India answered and told them an older male red panda had recently been found and sent to a zoo in China. After being told a description of the DNA of the rest of the family, it was determined that this Panda they just shipped out belonged to that family, now far away in America. 
The Wheeling center inquired with the Shanghai zoo about Grandy. The Chinese officials admitted the Panda in question was indeed one of their residents although not Zhing-Zhing. They would not let Grandy be relocated to America easily though. Red Pandas, although some could be seen in the wilds of Central China, were a most popular animal to be featured. The Chinese, on the counsel of their government, insisted on a small animal exchange with Wheeling, and $10,000 cash for Grandy. Could Wheeling do it?
Conclusion coming soon...


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Panda Family Tale Part Two

Today, the continuation of Travalon's story about his red panda family:

Mandy Panda had no choice- despite all the potential dangers she had to send Andy out to find his missing father and older brother. She had to stay home and keep little Shandi safe. She also consulted with her sister, Brandi Panda and was advised to do so. 
Andy understood what was being asked of him. He was very determined to find them and lead them home safely no matter what it took! He knew his father liked to wander along the Lachung River, and the bamboo trees which provide leaves for red pandas to eat along it were plentiful, giving him the idea that his father most likely would have gone that way for food so he decided to follow that route. 
A few hours went by and there was no sign of his father, let alone any other red pandas or animals. He was truly all alone, or so he thought. Suddenly he heard footsteps and heard human voices. It was two other WWF Panda rescuers, and they snuck up on him from behind.
" Come here little one, we won't hurt you.." the man reached toward Andy. Andy, frightened and confused, would have none of it and scratched the man's arm. The man screamed in pain and the woman swiftly stuck a needle in Andy's back, tranquilizing him. Off he went to their camp for evaluation.
Meanwhile, Randy Panda's fate was determined. He was the chosen red panda to be adopted by Famous Hat as a Christmas gift for me and was to be sent to be our new domesticated pet at our home half a world away from Sikkim in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. In the days this transition took place, Randy was a bit scared, but also excited about this new life ahead of him. On arrival in Washington DC, he felt the chill of the North American winter, and saw the snow, it reminded him of the high mountain country of Sikkim. After going through final health and behavior checks at the Red Panda Center at the zoo in Wheeling, West Virginia, he was transported right to our home. He adjusted to his new surroundings well, and developed a lasting friendship with Dieter our little German Shepherd watchdog. He enjoys sleeping in our large bed with us, watching movies with me in my recliner and being  cuddled every night. He also has access to the trees in our backyard via a trap door where he could spend hours each day climbing or playing in the snow. 

Back in Sikkim, at the WWF camp, the rescuers were uncertain about Andy's fate, whether he could become an adoptable domestic pet, or if  he was better suited to be a zoo resident in China or America, or let loose back into the wilds of Sikkim. They just didn't have the right equipment for this complex analysis. The Red Panda Center in Wheeling was booked up, but they found another American zoo where this task could be performed- the Como Zoo in Minneapolis. After a few days of extensive DNA and blood type and behavioral tests on poor confused little Andy, it was determined he was eligible to be an adoptable house pet. It was found that his DNA matched that of a red panda's who was adopted and living with a family only 250 miles away- Randy's! 

Working with the WWF, the Como zoo's staff called us asking if we wanted to adopt Andy as well and reunite the two brothers. We agreed without hesitation! We were on our way to the Twin Cities with Randy along, not knowing the excitement of the soon-to-be reunion with his little brother. 

Meanwhile, back in Sikkim despite a small  forest fire nearby, Mandy and Shandi were safe at home in their den although worried to tears about the others, still missing. Mandy was a positive optimistic thinker, and something inside her made her believe the others were alive and safe. Little Shandi couldn't sleep, she cried for her missing daddy and brothers every night. 
We know where Randy and Andy were. What about dear old Grandy? After fending for himself in the wild for days and surviving a brief encounter with a snow leopard in which he sustained a paw injury, he found a safe place to stay for awhile also- the home of his sister, Miranda Panda!
Would this happy red panda family ever be all together in the same place again? Stay tuned!

To be continued...


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Panda Family Tale Part One

Today's guest post is by Travalon - the first part of the story of his red panda family.

Deep in the wilds of the Himilayan region of Sikkim, India lived a happy and close knit red panda family: the parents Grandy and Mandy Panda, along with their three cubs Randy, Andy, and Shandi (oldest to youngest).
One day Grandy went out to search for food for his family along a mountainside. Suddenly, an unexpected landslide came right in his path. Luckily, Grandy climbed up a large solid tree and was safe for the time being. Afraid of another one coming soon, he chose to spend the night up in the tree. 
The next day, all was calm but the path home Grandy had planned to follow was wiped out by fallen branches, rocks and mud. he was confused and lost, not sure what to do or where to go next. No one else was around.
His family had waited up all night for him to come home. They were worried sick assuming he was missing or even dead. Something had to be done. Mandy sent the oldest cub Randy to look for his father. Randy is smart and has a good sense of direction; however as there was no indication which way his father went, he went the opposite way. 

Hours went by and Randy too was lost and alone. Pouring cold rain began coming down too. Two humans who were exploring the area found Randy, looking very scared and shaking leaning against a tree. They were gentle and managed to pick Randy up and carry him to their camp. It turned out they were part of the World Wildlife Fund's Red Panda Rescue team. Randy was fed, cuddled and given a nice warm pen for the night. It was decided he would be eligible for adoption by a caring family in the United States rather than returned to the wild.
Now Mandy and the younger cubs were really worried sick and grieving the possible loss of the two older males in the family. 
There was word of a snow leopard (the ferocious enemy of the red panda) in the area and an avalanche coming in the next few days. It was also the beginning of the peak forest fire season in the area. Mandy had hesitated to send little Andy out to look for his dad and brother, but he was the man of the family for now....

To Be Continued...


Monday, May 7, 2018

Madison Craft Beer Week Begins!

I hope my readers had a good weekend. This was the kickoff weekend for Madison Craft Beer Week, so Travalon and I had an excellent time. After cleaning on Friday morning, we went to Rock Hound Brewery for their Beer Lunch: a $3 pint of one of their beers with any entrée. We both chose the macaroni and cheese, which was excellent. (It has beer in it!) We went downtown and walked up to the Square to have beer bread pudding at the Old Fashioned, then we met OK Cap at Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace. They had an hour wait, so we walked a few doors down to Barley Pop and had some sours, and when we got seated at Tex Tubb’s, the food was worth the wait! I had shrimp tacos and a Star Wars-themed beer, Darth something, because it was May the Fourth (as in, “May the Fourth be with you”).

Saturday Travalon and I hiked behind Madison Country Day School, then I had a two-hour gig at the general store in Spring Green and got $3 in tips. Of course it was such a beautiful day, who was going to come in and listen to us? We had a tiny audience: a couple here, another person there, but at least every time one left, someone else came to replace them. Then Travalon and I went to Mr. Brews for their Kentucky Derby party and had Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged beer as we watched the Derby. The horse who was favored to win did come in first – how boring. OK Cap joined us, then we went to the Parched Eagle for their third anniversary party with a Mexican-themed beer release, so that took care of the Cinco de Mayo part of the day for us. We had some dinner at Athens Gyros, then we went to the Malt House and Barley Pop as well because both of them were having Sour Nights for MCBW. I love sour beer! One odd moment was when we walked to McDonalds from the Malt House so Travalon could get something to eat, but they were closed even though their sign clearly stated they should be open until 11 at night. The drive-thru was open so I yelled, “What the heck?” to them, and they yelled back, “There are only two of us here!” Yeah, I get that, but put a note on the door or something!

Yesterday after Mass I went to the Lutheran Cathedral of the West to hear my old choir sing a Gabrieli Mass, then Travalon and I went to Rock Hound Brewery for their Crushed Velvet brunch. The food was delicious, and the Crushed Velvet is a cocktail made of their coffee porter and champagne. We wanted to go to a talk at Funk Factory Geuzeria on lambics they made using fruit from the Arboretum, but you had to buy tickets online, and they were sold out. We went to the Arboretum and the zoo, then we hung out on the deck at the Lakeside Café until Funk Factory’s taproom reopened after the talk. I LOVE this place – they do nothing but lambics! And you can get small pours, so you can try several flavors. I asked what a Geuzeria was, and the bartender told me they don’t really brew, they blend, but Blenderia sounds silly so they decided on the Spanish word for a place that blends lambics. Anyway, we saved a fortune just trying the lambics they made from Osage oranges and persimmons from the Arboretum rather than hearing a talk about them. Then we went to Natt Spil for their fundraiser for a summer camp for children who are burn victims, and we had a pizza there. I think it may be the best pizza in town! So MCBW is off to a great start, and I already have nine stamps in my passport.

Famous Hat

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mini Ukulele and Other Photos

It's time I posted some more photos, so here are some from the trip Travalon and I took to Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago. First is a face someone drew on this part of the riverwalk:

Next are some photos from St. John the Evangelist, the Milwaukee cathedral:

My "Olbrich series" fridge magnets did turn out pretty well:

This is the rosary I got in Costa Maya, Mexico. I prayed with it once, but it is awkward to use and better for decoration, so I hung it over our bed.

Speaking of our bedroom, here are some of the denizens. First is a photo of my green Irish bears in three sizes. We call them (in descending order of size) Dineen, Erin, and Enid.

Here is the soft pretzel Travalon bought for me last week. It doesn't have a name yet.

And here are all the stuffies I have on my side of the bed, including Jørgen the Narwhal:

Travalon just acquired Bobbi the Bobcat. Here she is with Randy Panda:

Speaking of cute, coral-colored narwhals, we found these in a head shop on State Street. I think they are supposed to be sushi...? They were very cute, but I didn't want to spend as much as they were asking for them so I just took a picture.

Remember Rich's amazing hot chocolate from the Crema Cafe? Here is what the Chocolaterian served him, which is almost as beautiful except for not having any sprinkles.

Travalon and I went to the Sauk Dam, and we saw this rainbow from the water spewing through the dam. There is often water pouring through it, but I had never seen a rainbow there before.

And finally, photos of my tiny ukulele from Brazil. The second one is with my soprano ukulele for purposes of comparison. Sorry, no videos yet - I am still practicing. It's going well, though, so soon.

An added bonus: a video of the Flying Bango from the Bucks game!

Famous Hat

Monday, April 30, 2018

Mini Ukulele

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I lay kind of low ourselves. Friday we did run some errands, so we had lunch at Paul’s in Middleton. Travalon bought me a very cute stuffed pretzel from It’Sugar, the most bizarre store ever. In the evening we watched Despicable Me 3, which is just as entertaining as the first two. Saturday Hockey Girl and I went to Olbrich and the Arboretum to enjoy the beautiful weather, but not much is happening yet at either place. In the evening I played my miniature ukulele for Travalon and the panda family, as well as their buddies Dieter the German shepherd and Roddy the black poodle. Travalon asked if I could play “Five Foot Two,” and I said not on the mini uke, the cords are too weird, but after playing the tiny one, it was so easy to play the big one! Travalon says I should go to an open mike night at Mother Fools and play the mini uke. I would probably bring both, since the mini one is a novelty but maybe not that exciting to hear. Yesterday after Mass we went to brunch at the Chocolaterian with Rich and a couple of other people, then we went to the Shoe Box in Black Earth so I could get some new shoes, and then we hiked at the cactus place in Spring Green. There appears to be a new trail there, so that was exciting. We also took a hike around Tiedeman Pond, then we went to Rich’s house so I could play the mini ukulele for him, Kathbert, and his Brazilian roommate who was so instrumental (pun intended) in helping me purchase it from a guy in Brazil. I can already play a few songs on it – maybe someday I will be really good! I will post pictures and maybe videos soon.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 23, 2018

Bucks Playoff Game and Early Music Concerts

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I started ours by cleaning on Friday morning, then we got on the road and drove to Milwaukee. We went to the lakeshore, since it was a beautiful day, and we checked out the stand where we thought they rented kites. In fact they only sell them, so we bought the cheapest one, a bat with evil red eyes, but there wasn’t enough wind to fly it. After our walk along the lakeshore, we went to the cathedral and explored it, then we had dinner at a Cuban restaurant, and finally we went to the Bucks playoff game. The game was very exciting – they beat the Celtics by 24 points – but the people around us were kind of obnoxious, mostly 20-something drunk white guys. Usually the crowd around us has been more mixed and more sober. This was like the F-bomb every other word, and one guy even wanted to get in a fight with me because Travalon told him to sit down! I guess he didn’t want to take on Travalon but figured he could take on a short, dowdy middle-aged woman. Whatever happened to chivalry? Fortunately he lost interest in me, and we watched the rest of the game in peace, except for screaming whenever Middleton or the Greek Freak did something amazing.

Saturday Travalon and I met Tiffy and Rich for coffee, then Tiffy and I helped her sister buy tons and tons of fruit to feed to a bunch of teenagers. We took a walk with Travalon along the jetty in Tenney Park, then he went off to do his own thing while we met Rich for dinner at Edo Japanese Restaurant. Tiffy and I went to a Wisconsin Baroque Society concert at St. Andrews, and it was wonderful. The coolest part might have been when five high schoolers who have been learning to play viols performed songs by Byrd and Gibbons with a couple of singers. They were surprisingly good, considering that they have only been studying the viol since September. I’m just excited to see a new generation getting into early music.

Yesterday after Mass, Travalon, Tiffy, and I went to the Chocolaterian for brunch, then we took a walk at Pheasant Branch. I went to a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion with a bunch of choir people, and it was so long that they had a two-hour intermission for dinner. (Hockey Girl and I tried an Indian restaurant called Mirch Masala, and I really liked it.) Although these were, for the most part, not professionals but students and community members who sing for fun, I enjoyed the performance a lot. One soprano soloist in particular was amazing: Sarah Guttenberg. So if she ever becomes famous, you read about her here first.

Famous Hat

Monday, April 16, 2018

Winter Weekend in April?!

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine started on Thursday night, when I went to Light Bright's house for dinner. She said her little boy, who is two and a half, was unusually friendly around me. She said, "He won't talk to anyone else, but he talks to you!" I said I have that effect on children and animals but not on, say, bosses. They don't love me better than anyone else, usually quite the opposite.

Friday Travalon had to have a medical procedure, but he came through just fine and had a big lunch at Famous Dave's afterwards. Then he relaxed while I went to a meeting for a committee I am on to come up with a protest policy for the university. We are well known for our protests, but we don't have an official policy about how to deal with them. This is a bit intimidating because there are a lot of very bigwigs on this committee, and I am just a peon. There are a couple of student representatives on this committee as well, and one of them made such an eloquent explanation of why he wanted to serve on this committee that the chair said, "We should have been recording these!" In the evening I met Hockey Girl to hear an Irish band at Brocach.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich and Jilly Moose for coffee, then he and I went to Olbrich Gardens, and then we went to Fired Up, where I made a couple of fridge magnets based on what we had seen at the conservatory. After that the weather got bad - a winter storm in mid-April?! - so we stayed home the rest of the evening and watched most of Titanic in honor of the anniversary of its sinking.

Yesterday we went to Mass but almost got in an accident on the way there because a guy was driving too fast for conditions, then he cut us off and started to fishtail. We went to brunch afterwards with some of the choir because it was on the way home, then we relaxed until venturing out to see the movie The Post with Jilly Moose, OK Cap, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and another woman. It was a really good movie. Travalon  and I joined Jilly Moose and OK Cap for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. So it was a very relaxing weekend, and it continued for me today because we had a new person start at work, so we went out to lunch with her, then I had a congressional meeting, and then a bunch of us went to Eno Vino to welcome the new person with a happy hour. Tomorrow I actually have to do work...

Here are some pictures from this weekend. Actually, this first one is from the lobby of Tiffy's sister's apartment building: a couple of pretty bromeliads.

These shots are from the Olbrich Conservatory.

Finally, here are the pre-fired fridge magnets I made, of a goldfish (instead of a koi) and a bromeliad, inspired by our trip to Olbrich.

Famous Hat