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!

Famous Hat

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.

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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.

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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.

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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