Monday, February 26, 2018

Gig at Common Ground

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I cleaned for an hour, and our place was really starting to look good! My main New Year’s resolution for this year is to have our condo neat enough to have people over without being embarrassed, and we are almost there! To reward ourselves, we went to the new seafood restaurant in the little mall with Crema CafĂ© and Fired Up, and it was really fun and nautical. We had calamari po boys – so good! Then we drove to Sauk and thought maybe we weren’t going to see any eagles… until we saw two chasing each other almost overhead! That was really cool! We went for a hike on the bike path that used to be a defunct railroad track, and we stopped into the little convenience store that is part of the gas station with the Sinclair sign outside. It is not a Sinclair station anymore, but Travalon loves Dino the Dinosaur. They had some Sinclair signage inside too. We drove around Crystal Lake as the sun was setting, and it was a glorious sunset, with the salmon-colored sky behind the dark hills. Then we met Cecil Markovitch, the Single B-Boy, the Dairyman’s Daughter, and Richard Bonomo at the Dorf Haus for their famous fish fry. What a wonderful day!

Saturday I was so inspired by our cleaning session that I cleaned again for over an hour. Now our condo looks so nice that when we first get home, we say, “Wow – is this our place?!?” Travalon and I went for a hike on our favorite boardwalk in McFarland, then we stopped into the Lakeside Coffee House, and it was crazy busy in there for a late Saturday afternoon. Rich texted me about meeting him and some Slow Food folks at Bandung Indonesian Restaurant, so Travalon and I went there, and then I went to a harpsichord concert of Baroque music. Travalon’s battery died when he came to pick me up, but the person at the concert that I least expected to know how to jump a car did so quite expertly for us. Appearances can be deceiving!

Yesterday I had to bring my mandolin to Mass with me, then Travalon and I went to Common Ground for my gig. Sorry that I did not let people know about this gig, but there is a weird story behind it: we were supposed to have a gig at the Chocolaterian on Friday evening, but Hardingfele had played there earlier, and someone complained about her show, so they did not want us there either since she is part of our band. She got us this gig at Common Ground as a last-minute replacement, so that is why I didn’t let people know. Travalon and I got free brunch, but then we had no way to tip the baristas because we had no cash on us. No worries – I got $4 in tips during the gig, so I gave that to the baristas. The gig was a lot of fun, and afterwards the owner gave me a mimosa. Sometimes I think I like being in a band as much for the free drinks as for the music making. Honestly, I think I get them now and then because of the cool instrument, since people are so fascinated by the old mandolin that I end up getting a lot of attention after a gig. Rich did happen to see part of the gig, but only because he texted to ask how long I would be at Common Ground. Afterwards Travalon and I went for a hike at Pheasant Branch, where we ran into Hardingfele again, and she told us the eastside Chocolaterian had burned down that morning! If there wasn’t a westside Chocolaterian these days, I would lose my mind. Where would I get that Parisian hot chocolate? Although it is less of an issue during Lent, of course. Hopefully they are able to rebuild the eastside one. Travalon and I ended the evening by going to see the movie Black Panther, which was really cool. I recommend it.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Photos from Our Twin Cities Road Trip

As promised, here are some pictures and videos from our road trip to the Twin Cities. First are a couple of shots of the part of Valspar that is still painted today.

Next are some photos from the skyway. First is a beautiful building - Town Hall?

This is the part of the skyway leading to the field where the Twins play. Notice that it is decorated in the Twins' colors: red and blue.

I just thought this shot from the skyway of a building reflected in another building was kind of cool.

Gethsemane Episcopal Church is so beautiful.

Hey hey Mama! Does Led Zeppelin know about this?

Here are some shots from the Mall of America. First Lego World and the Nickelodeon Amusement Park:

Here are some decorations and a video of the festivities for Chinese New Year. Happy Year of the Dog!

Next are some shots and videos from the aquarium at the Mall of America:

Here is Travalon at the Tibetan restaurant where we went to lunch:

And here are some shots from Como Park Conservatory and Zoo:


Here are some pictures of the Cathedral of St. Paul:

And here is a view of the Minnesota State Capital.

This picture is out of order, but on our way to the Twin Cities Travalon and I stopped at his favorite gas station - Dino Stop!

Meet Andy and Randy Panda.

And finally, here is my mandolin magnet with the tape removed, so you can see it in all its glory.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Exciting Overtime at the Badger Basketball Game

Last night Travalon and I went to a Badger Basketball game. They aren’t that good this year, since all the great players from last year’s Sweet Sixteen run graduated, so Travalon said we shouldn’t be fair weather fans and should support them in their time of trial. He found tickets for $10 each, so how could we resist that deal? They were playing the Minnesota Gophers, another subpar team, and most of the game they looked pretty lackluster. Right at the end they tied things up… and then it was like someone flipped a switch, and suddenly they were on fire! They got everything in the basket and didn’t let the Gophers do anything, so they won by ten. What an excellent game, after all!

There were two things I forgot to mention about our road trip on my last post. The first thing was that early Saturday morning Travalon got an alert on his phone. Luckily we were already awake, or it would have awakened us, because we thought it must be something really important but it was just a reminder he had put on his calendar that there was a coffee stout release party at the Parched Eagle that evening. The other thing was that we stopped at a rest stop on the way home, and he decided to get some cheese curds, but he put the wrong number in the vending machine and accidentally got the spicy buffalo ones instead of the plain ones. So he gave me the spicy ones and tried again for the plain ones… and this time got a sausage! Which is really ironic because he hates sausages. We’ll be giving it to Richard Bonomo. Travalon gave up on getting his plain cheese curds and went to the drink vending machine, swiping his credit card over and over and saying, “It’s not reading it!” I said, “Yes, it is – you have $10 in credit.” So we canceled that transaction, and I can’t even remember if he ended up getting a drink. He said I should blog about this, so I am.

I will be posting photos of our adventures soon, including the Valspar paint factory, or what is colorful on it these days. I found this photo of when the whole big factory used to be painted, from the St. Paul Pioneer Press and taken in 2007, so that was a good twenty years after I saw it as a child. I guess it was too much work to keep painting it like this. Too bad – you can see how I thought this must be a wonderful place when I saw it as a little girl. Wasn't it beautiful?

Famous Hat

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekend in the Twin Cities

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had told Travalon about the extensive skywalk system in Minneapolis that I had discovered while there for a work conference years ago, and he agreed that we should check it out sometime this winter, so this past weekend seemed like a perfect time to do it. Friday morning we got up and hit the road, getting to Minneapolis in the mid-afternoon. The first thing I wanted to see was the Valspar factory; as a child I would see it and think it was some wonderful place because it was painted such vivid colors, but Ma Hat said it was just a factory. I thought it must have been a FUN factory! Yes, maybe they made funs there! This was decades ago, and I had found photos of it online but was unsure if it still had the wild paint job. Answer: yes and no. Part of it is still painted in beautiful bright colors, but the main part no longer is. However, it was right near where we needed to be, and we found a place to park for $4 and entered the skywalk system. It goes in a huge loop with branches going off of it, and we went to Target Field where the Twins play and searched for a gorgeous Gothic-style Episcopal church I had seen from the skywalk all those years earlier. We got kind of lost and did end up seeing the church, then we ended up back at the Hyatt where we had entered the system and had a cheese pizza at their bar. I asked if we could drive by the church, and wouldn’t you know it was right on the way to our hotel! We had ended up walking seven miles, so once we got to our hotel, we just soaked in the hot tub. I have to tell my readers that this is an amazingly cheap form of entertainment, as well as a great way to get exercise when it is cold out, but be forewarned that there is a shocking lack of public bathrooms along the skywalk. Fortunately on a Friday night the pubs along the skywalk were so busy that they didn’t notice us popping in just to use the loo.

Saturday we went to the Mall of America and toured the aquarium, which wasn’t there the last time I had been there decades ago. It was very cool, and I took pictures and videos that I will post at some point. We explored the indoor amusement park and ended up buying just a few things: I got a little stuffed alpaca at the alpaca store, Travalon bought himself a North Stars hat (that’s the hockey team that was there when I was a kid), and he bought me a tie-dyed hoodie from a store that gives a share of the profits to animal shelters. There was a big show at the Mall for Chinese New Years, with lots of music and big dancing dragons. Then we had lunch at a wonderful Tibetan restaurant somewhere in St. Paul on the way to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. If you are in the Twin Cities, you have to check this place out – it’s just a suggested donation of $5 (you don’t even have to pay) for both parts. To our surprise, in the gift shop Travalon found a little stuffed red panda that was a smaller version of the one I gave him for Christmas, which he calls Randy Panda, so he got this one and said it was his little brother, Andy Panda. He even made up a back story for them on our ride home. We visited the Cathedral of St. Paul, where my readers will be stunned to learn that I bought a rosary. We also went to the capital building, but it was not open. We headed home and had a celebratory New Year’s dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Mauston. One of the guys who works there told us how they celebrate the Lunar New Year back in his village in China, and it sounded amazing. We had walked another six miles that day, so once we got home, we just went to bed.

Yesterday was so beautiful that we wanted to hike, even though we were both a little sore. We had brunch at the Green Lantern in McFarland and then hiked on the boardwalk right by it, which was about two miles. We were going to go to the health club and soak in their hot tub, but we were too tired so we just went to the Parched Eagle by our house for beer and pizza and a rousing game of Travel Scrabble. After we got home, we soaked in our own hot tub. I had some floating candles, but after two of them got swamped, I just set them all on the side of the tub. We also have two rubber duckies courtesy of Kathbert, so we played with those too. They don’t have a backstory… yet. 

Famous Hat

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Photos of Groundhog's Day, Rich's Birthday Party, and More

Sorry that I didn't blog about this sooner, but Tuesday Travalon and I went to the East Side Club for their Mardi Gras party. There were so many people there that our food took forever to come out, but it sure was good when it arrived! We had oyster po' boys, hush puppies, gumbo, and crab cakes. Then yesterday Lent started, and I was so happy. I must be way too self-indulgent if deprivation appeals to me so much...

Here are some photos I've taken since my last photographic post. This first one is an interesting snow configuration I saw on my lunchtime walk one day.

Here is a painting I did at another paint night, and the original for reference:

I promised to post a photo of the amaryllis that mysteriously showed up at Rich's house once it bloomed, and so I am, although it was not the prettiest flower ever.

Travalon and I met Bucky! This was outside the Alumni Center.

These are the cupcakes from Groundhog's Day. The first one is the big one we each ate that day, and the second photo is the box Travalon bought so we could have "Groundhog's Day all week!"

And here is a picture of the statue of Jimmy the Groundhog with the ear necklace around his neck.

Here is a picture of the prickly pear Travalon bought me for Valentine's Day. I bought him an old paycheck of Spencer Tracy's.

And, for reference, here is the similar cactus at the Domes.

Here is the little coral-colored narwhal I bought myself for no occasion whatsoever.

This is the sun catcher Travalon and I made for Rich for his Cleveland-themed birthday party. It says "0-16" because that was the Browns' record this past season.

Here are some pictures of the decorations at Rich's Cleveland-themed birthday party:

My Christmas cactus randomly bloomed this week! I wasn't expecting that.

And finally, here are the two things I got from Fired Up today. The first one is my improved mandolin magnet; please ignore the tape, which I can't take off for 24 hours while the glue holding the magnet onto the back dries. Anyway, you can see how the line to the right of the mandolin made a perfect musical note, and then I added the double eighth notes to the left.

This is the cactus scene Travalon and I made. The jackrabbit lost his whiskers, but because the background is black, it doesn't really matter. At least his eyes stayed in place!

Famous Hat