Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Bach Lunch Concert

Today I went to another Bach lunch concert. Neither Kathbert nor Rich joined me, but Lute Player, Pete the Sailor Man, a bandmate of mine, and my OTHER choir director were all there. In the spirit of the holiday today, the opening piece was the “creepy” Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for organ that you always hear in horror movies – if you don’t know which one I mean, just google “BWV 565.” Then there was a cello suite in C Minor, and then we all sang a hymn that had harmony by Bach. The last thing was a cantata, and we sang on the closing chorale. At this concert I found out about another early music concert, but it’s the same evening I promised to go hear a disco cover band with Travalon. Why does everything have to happen at the same time? There are plenty of evenings with nothing going on, when I'd love to hear some music.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Almost Defeated by the Corn Maze

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I had a quieter Friday night than last week; we went to Chicken Run for their fish fry and then had a beer at Long Table, a new bar in Middleton with lots of beers. I had a cherry sour and Travalon had one that tasted just like a raspberry cordial.

Saturday I met with the Rosary Ladies for coffee, then I had to run to Lutheran Cathedral of the Midwest for the funeral of a bandmate’s husband. I also used to sing with her in that choir, and in fact that’s how I got recruited into the band – she saw me wearing a mandolin necklace at choir practice one night. My OTHER choir director and lots of other old-timers showed up, so it was like a reunion. Then Tiffy, Travalon, and I did the corn maze, but it was really muddy this year, plus they have gotten sneakier about where they put the secret punches, so it took us hours and seven miles of walking. Travalon eventually went to sit by the bonfire and eat popcorn, but Tiffy said we had to get eight because we always do. We finally found the eighth punch just as darkness was falling, but then she didn’t even want the prizes (a certificate and a pen) that we were entitled to for finding all those punches. “It’s the principle of the thing,” she said. After that we had a wonderful dinner at Rex’s Innkeeper.

Yesterday I was so sore that I couldn’t even go up to the choir loft at church. Travalon and I went to the Chocolaterian for brunch after Mass, then we hung out with Tiffy and Rich before watching the game. Argh – that game! I was dreading it, knowing the Rams are undefeated, and our poor Packers were facing them on the road, but the Packers’ defense was amazing. For most of the first half they were winning, and more than half the crowd there in LA looked to be Packer Backers. In the second half the Rams came back to life, but the Pack had a chance to win it… until one player made a colossal mistake and turned over the ball. If the Rams’ defense had held them off, I could have stood it better, but to have our own guy lose it for us? How painful. At least the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series. Travalon went to Milwaukee to see Fleetwood Mac, so I blatted with Rich and Kathbert. We all agreed that we need to do that more often.

Today was kind of a crazy day. Travalon’s kids came to the Limnology Building to play in a lab, so I took a short break to see him. Then some grad students told me there was a giant cockroach in our breakroom, so I tried to catch him with tape, but he broke free and ran under the fridge. We’ll see if I can successfully rid the breakroom of this scourge…

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

All Bach Organ Concert

Last night, as if I hadn’t already had a wonderful day, I got to go to a fabulous concert. Travalon did not want to go, since it was a concert of Bach organ works, but I ran into Pete the Sailor Man, and he got half price tickets for both of us. Know who else was there? My OTHER choir director! The organist was the teacher of the house organist at the Overture Center, and he was incredible. It’s hard to go wrong with Bach, and he picked some really amazing pieces. One was the Concerto in D Minor originally by Vivaldi, and that got me to thinking about how I used to listen to L’Estro Armonico, a collection of Vivaldi concerti, obsessively when I was in my early 20’s. My two favorites were this D minor concerto and one in A minor for four violins which I once saw performed live, and it was so much fun to watch the melody jump from player to player. There is also one in A minor for one violin that is a sentimental favorite of mine because I learned to play it at a very young age. Really, they are all beautiful. If you are a fan of Vivaldi, you will love every concerto in this collection.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Wellness Symposium at Work

The other day when I got off the bus, there were some people from the bus company handing out free sunglasses and surveys about bus usage. This was good news for me, since I had lost my sunglasses and was using a spare pair from Travalon. I filled out the survey, but all I could tell them is that the system works perfectly for me. Really, at the hours I come and go, the bus leaves every five minutes, and it goes directly from the place on the north side where I park to just in front of my building. It’s like they planned the route with me in mind.

Yesterday when I got together with someone else to practice Irish, he told a great story: years ago, he and some buddies read the book Iberia by James Michener, and then they followed Michener’s travels through Spain. They ended up in Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls, where they went to the café that Michener said was his favorite – and there he was! So they got to talk to him, and this guy said it was like talking to a friendly neighbor, not a best-selling author. Michener is one of Travalon’s favorites, so he enjoyed this story when I told it to him.

Today I went to a health symposium at work. I saw several of my previous coworkers, but not Handy Woman, although she was there. First there was a keynote speaker talking about buy-in for health initiatives at work, then we had breakout sessions. I went to one on gratitude, then a drumming workshop that was really fun, then a short session on tasting chocolates from various places, and finally one on creating a planter. Now I have a pilea in a glass container. Of course, I have a pilea at home, but we were further back in line, so by the time we got to choose a plant, all the crotons and velvet plants were already taken. I also got a free water bottle for attending. Can you believe this counts as work time? Awesome.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Homecoming Block Party

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine started Thursday night, when Travalon and I went to the Co-op for their Community Meal. We didn’t really notice the community, since everyone sat in their own little groups, but you could hardly beat the meal: pasta fagioli, salad, garlic bread, and a cookie for $5.

Friday I did something really fun and took a day off of work to tag along with Travalon while he went to work. He drives a van for the Boys and Girls Club, so I rode shotgun. When he had a break in the middle of the day, we went to the Lakeside Café for some coffee and then to the seafood place in the same mall as Crema Café for their fish boil, and we even got to use the $5 off two brunches coupon because it was before two. In the early morning Travalon takes teens to school, then in the afternoon he picks up these cute little kids from school and brings them to the club. Sometimes he gets to hang out at the club, but that day we had to take a teen to the other club building, and then we came back and had a taco with the kids. After that we drove some more little kids home, then we went downtown for the Homecoming Block Party. We watched the parade and went to the fish fry, where a band played popular music as polkas. You have not lived until you have heard Devo’s “Whip It” as a polka! We went out on the balcony to watch the fireworks being shot from a boat in the lake, and then we went to the Alumni Association’s silent disco. That was really fun – you got headphones, and they lit up red, blue, or green depending on what station you were listening to. So all these people appeared to be dancing to silence at the rooftop disco, but if you had headphones on yourself, you knew exactly what they were listening to by what color their headphones were. After that we went to Camp Tripalindee on the top of the Graduate Hotel because I had a coupon for a free beer, and we had a drink and watched part of the Brewers game. We watched the rest at home. They tied up the series and forced a seventh game.

Saturday Travalon and I debated about going to the Homecoming game, but the weather forecast was iffy so we had coffee at Mother Fool’s and watched the snow falling from the comfort of inside. The game wasn't very exciting anyway, since the Badgers beat up on Illinois. We picked up Rich and went to Cave of the Mounds for a tour, then we had dinner with him at El Pastor. We went home and watched the final Brewers game, which wasn’t even close – they lost 5-1. So no World Series this year for the Brew Crew, but maybe they can keep the momentum up next season.

Yesterday Travalon and I went to Plaka for brunch with Rich and another bass from our choir, then we took a windy boat ride back into the creek where the School Road pier is currently submerged. It was so windy that Travalon’s hat blew off; we weren’t too concerned at first, since baseball caps generally float, but we circled back and couldn’t find it anywhere. Had it sunk that quickly? Had it already blown downstream that fast? We gave up and docked… and then Travalon found the hat had fallen right behind him and was in the boat! What a lucky break! It was wet, but he just threw it in the washer and then the dryer, and now it’s as good as new. Then we went for a walk along the river in Sauk, where we saw four bald eagles. In the evening Rich had a very small birthday party for Kathbert, who does not like big parties. It was low-key; we just had some dinner and cake, and we blatted, as Kathbert calls it. That is her word for chatting.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Irish Language Weekend 2018

I hope my readers had a good weekend, despite the cold weather. Sorry that I didn’t blog yesterday, but Travalon and I were busy watching both games. The Brewers game seemed to be going well, and in fact they won 4-0. The Packers didn’t seem to have any defense going, and then the offense kind of stalled too, so we thought they were going to lose to the 49ers, who are not a good team this year, at Lambeau just to up the humiliation factor. However, they did that thing they always do where they come back from the dead, and it worked this time – they won by a field goal. Sometimes it doesn’t work…

This weekend I was very busy with the Irish weekend I have gone to in the past, but not for the last few years. All I can say is I’m not sure why not, because it was so much fun. We had class and then a social on Friday night, and classes all day Saturday. My class of six (Level 2) bonded so much that we all went to lunch together, and one girl even asked me to be her friend on social media. In the evening there was an Irish music concert as part of the weekend, but I went to a Baroque concert instead. Tiffy couldn’t come to town so I was planning to sit by myself, but a bandmate and her grandkids joined me. It was a wonderful concert that featured a lot of Boismortier, including a delightful choral piece. I had no idea he wrote choral works! I had always thought of him as primarily writing for the flute.

Sunday there was Irish class again, but my choir director begged me to sing, and then then my band had a gig after that, so I ended up skipping the class. After the gig, at Common Ground, Travalon and I went on a hike at Holy Wisdom monastery and discovered an incredible view, but it was so cold that we didn’t hike long. We went to the movies for the first time in a long time and saw A Star Is Born, which was really good. I have always liked Lady Gaga’s singing, and she is a great actress too. I will warn you, if you haven’t seen any of the previous iterations of this story, that it is very sad.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Day of Learning

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Sorry that I didn’t blog yesterday, but Travalon and I were watching 80’s videos. This is a fascinating thing to do; for example, did you remember that the video for “Night and Day” by Al B. Sure! features lots of shots of downtown Manhattan, including the twin towers of the late World Trade Center? And while a lot of the people in these videos had a weird look peculiar to 80’s pop stars, the video for “Waiting on a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl looks like it could have been made last week, since their hair and clothing are totally normal. They even take a selfie, but with a big old Polaroid.

Friday I took the day off of work and went to a really fascinating group of lectures called the Day of Learning, sponsored by the Class of 68 so I was the youngest one there. The first talk was a panel discussion of the riots on campus back in 67-68, by people who were there. The second one was a talk by an alumnus of the Class of 68, a retired astronaut who had flown the Space Shuttle three times. The third one was a talk on ethics in journalism, and the fourth one was the most interesting of all. A professor in the School of Human Ecology talked about ancient remedies for depression that she is studying: gut flora, heat treatments (like saunas and sweat lodges) and psychedelic drugs. The crazy thing is that they work! In the evening I met Travalon at the Union for Beers and Bites, a fun time trying samples of beer with appetizers. We sat with a very cool couple, and my old nemesis hUBIE from a previous job was there, but he seemed quite friendly now that we don’t have to work together.

Saturday we met Rich and the Single B-Boy for coffee, then my band had a gig at the apple orchard as we do every year. This year it was very cold, so my fingers were freezing, and we were down a fiddler so I was also playing melody most of the time. Had I known, I could have brought the actual fiddle. Travalon went to the Badger game while I met Tiffy and Rich for dinner, then Tiffy and I went to a concert of Bach and Handel. I just love hearing that non-equal temperament! Tiffy had spent the day at Old World Wisconsin with the other Rosary Ladies, learning about old beer brewing techniques, and I had planned to go too until being reminded that we had the gig. Ah well, I got $25 of produce for playing.

Yesterday Travalon and I had a coupon for $5 off brunch at a seafood restaurant, so we went there just to discover they aren’t open on Sundays anymore. This was in the same mall with Crema Café, so we just went there, and the lemon raspberry pancakes were amazing. Since the weather was lousy, we sat inside and watched the Packer game, which was also lousy, at least in the first half. Also, their kicker who is usually so reliable missed all five of his kicks, so they lost to the Lions. We watched a little of the Brewers game at Bierock (the Cubs are out of the playoffs so I’m pulling for the Brew Crew), then Rich had a going away party for his Brazilian housemate, and a bunch of the choir people were there, so we were all keeping track of the game via the internet. Travalon was happy because he has never seen so many people who care about sports at Rich’s house. The Brewers did win, so they swept the series, and everyone was in a good mood despite the dismal Packers performance earlier that afternoon.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Why Are Creepy Places Creepy?

Here are a couple of things from this past weekend that I neglected to mention in my previous post:

On Saturday when we were in Milwaukee, we lost the satellite radio station (“Soul Town”), so I switched to the local hip hop station. Travalon noted with some surprise that the music, while still not his taste, was much better than the music our local “hip hop” station plays. I said that was because the Milwaukee station plays true hip hop, while our local station plays a lot of terrible pop music masquerading as hip hop, such as Post Malone. Maybe this is because in Milwaukee they figure there is a big enough fan base for true hip hop, while here in Madison the main market for their station is a bunch of wealthy white teens.

On Sunday Travalon stumbled across a documentary featuring Michael Palin of Monty Python fame traveling to North Korea. I was very curious, so I watched it with him. The people seemed very normal, just people going about their day, but the place seemed really creepy. The thing that weirded me out most of all was how in Pyongyang music started playing downtown at 5 am and played for several hours. You could hear it out Palin’s hotel window, and it was loud. I was trying to describe this last night to Rich and Luxuli before choir practice, and it was hard to say what exactly was so creepy. The music was aesthetically pleasing, a very Oriental-sounding tune that was instrumental but apparently had words about how great the Dear Leader is. I said the only other places that had creeped me out so much were the Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and the whole city of Seattle. So… I am going out on a limb here, but maybe what creeps me out so much is anything where someone other than God is being worshiped. In North Korea, it’s the memory of the Dear Leader. I am not sure what to say it is in Salt Lake City, but I will note that I had the opposite reaction to mosques in Istanbul, for what that’s worth. And in Seattle, it could be that they worship the individual. It seems like a place lacking in any concept of the transcendent.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Milwaukee Zoo Trip

I hope my readers had a good weekend, despite the cold and the rain. Friday evening Richard Bonomo and I went to the outdoor theater to see As You Like It, which we had started to see back in June only to be rained out. There was no rain this time, but it was very cold. I couldn’t find my autumn jacket that morning (I have since located it), so I had to wear my winter one, yet even with that on it was chilly. The play was very entertaining.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich downtown for coffee, then Rich and I went to a hymn sing led by my OTHER choir director, who is now retired but busier than ever. We ran into a bunch of other people there, like Kathbert and Pete the Sailor Man. The hymns all mentioned angels for the Feast of the Archangels, so that seemed like an appropriate way to celebrate the day. Travalon went to the Veterans’ Museum, then he and I met back up and drove to Milwaukee, where we went to the zoo. You have to pay to get into that zoo, but they have lots of exotic animals we don’t have at the free Madison zoo, like hippos and African red river hogs and these adorable things called springhaas that look like a cross between a rabbit and a kangaroo but are actually rodents. There is a baby red panda too, but when we went to the red panda exhibit, all the denizens were hiding. We went back again at the end, and one red panda peeked out at us but decided we weren’t worth coming out to see. Then we went to Cubanisma for dinner, and our plan had been to go to the China Lights show after that, but it began to rain so we just headed home.

Yesterday after Mass we went with a bunch of choir people to the Come Back In for brunch, then we went home and watched the Packer game with no guilt since it was so cold and wet out. The Packers shut out the Bills, but maybe that is because the Bills are so bad? However, they did beat the Vikings last week, so they aren’t completely hopeless. I remember reading something that said Buffalo would be the worst team in the league this year, and they sure played like they were trying to live up to that description. Even Cleveland is winning or almost winning this year, thanks to their hot new quarterback who was the top draft pick. After the game, the rain had let up so we went for a very wet hike at the Token Creek Conservation Area. I could have walked in place while watching the game, but it is so much more enjoyable to get my 10,000 steps per day outside whenever possible. Some people are inside people… and I am not one of them.

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