Thursday, February 28, 2019

Educational Talks

One advantage to working on a university campus is that there are lots of educational talks all the time that aren’t actually aimed at us working stiffs, but if they say they are “free and open to the public,” then they can’t really stop us from going. I used to work at a place where they did a lot of brain research, and those were some really interesting talks! One speaker had been a well-known record producer before becoming a neuroscientist, and he gave a talk on a disorder that causes some intellectual impairment but, for reasons nobody can yet explain, enhances musical ability. I asked if these kids had sharp senses of humor, since in my experience more musical people are more quick-witted, and he said he hadn’t noticed that with these particular kids, but it did seem to be true back when he worked in the music industry. “Stevie Wonder was the funniest guy I ever met!” he declared. Then when I worked in an area that dealt with critical care medicine, they had some really fascinating talks, although I always felt like they kind of looked at me askance for going to them when I wasn’t an MDeity. Now that I work in a language department, the talks are right up my alley – linguistics! Today they had one about how motion is perceived differently by speakers of Russian and English, since in Russian the verb has a marker to denote whether the motion is in one direction or not. So one person walking or two people walking the same direction would have the unmarked verb, but two people walking towards each other would have the marked verb describe their movement. I had no idea! Apparently this aspect of Russian is very hard for native English speakers to grasp, since we have nothing like it. Just a head’s up in case you were thinking of studying Russian.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Another Hazard to Make Life Exciting

Today I had to run an errand, and as I was walking across campus, I saw something that kind of looked like a snow fort. Closer inspection revealed that it had no doors but appeared to be a big pile of snow with a flattened top. Once I had finished my errand, I walked around it and found a spot where it seemed easy to climb, so I scrambled up to the top and looked around. This was on a hill, so there was a good view from the top. I felt like I was on a stage and would have burst into song (maybe “Let It Go”?) except that there were a lot of people around; none of them looked askance at a middle-aged woman on top of a pile of snow, but they might have reacted if I had sung at the top of my lungs. Getting down seemed more daunting, but I just sat down and slid on my long coat. Problem solved!

Here's a strange fact: apparently a real danger while traveling is being hit by a plant thrown off of a balcony. Longtime readers may remember the story from my very first blog post, back in October 2008, about almost being killed by someone throwing a very large papyrus plant from a balcony in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The offending gentleman heard Angela and me scream, so he looked over the edge of the balcony and said sorry, he hadn’t realized anyone was down there. When we asked why he would do such a thing, he said he didn’t want the plant anymore. “Do you want it?” he asked me, and when I replied that I was from way up North and had come by train, he came down and chopped a small piece off for me. So then Angela (a woman I had met on the train) and I went to Jean Lafitte’s, the oldest bar in the US, and I ordered a vodka and cranberry for myself and a water for the plant. I still have the plant, which is now about the size of the original one that nearly killed me, and the commemorative Jean Lafitte’s plastic cup it traveled back up here in. Just today I related this story to a coworker, and he said back in the early 80’s, when he was a college student bumming around Europe with some pals, and they were wearing those terrible silky short shorts everyone wore back then, a similar thing happened to him. They were walking around Venice, and suddenly a large plant flew off a balcony and nearly killed them. He said they never saw the culprit, so maybe it was a cat or the wind, but they thought it could have been someone offended by their short shorts. Back in those days, Italians were more conservative and hated American tourists and their racy fashions, or so this guy claims. (I thought Italians invented Speedos…?) Anyway, the takeaway message here is that when you are walking somewhere with a lot of balconies, beware of large falling plants.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

International Festival 2019

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I had a quiet Friday evening. Since the weather wasn’t terrific, we just walked to Mariner’s for their delicious Friday perch. We had a $100 gift card to use there, and we were allowed to use part of it, so it was practically a free dinner except for the tip.

Saturday Travalon and I met Rich and Tiffy for coffee, then Travalon, Tiffy, and I went to the International Festival at the Overture Center. We ate Costa Rican and Ethiopian food while listening to a Yiddish band, then we listened to a group that included the son of one of my bandmates playing Ghanian music. We checked out the merchants (and I bought a very festive llama I named Lolita), then we listened to a Puerto Rican group play salsa. Travalon left, and Tiffy and I watched some flamenco dancers and then a Chinese cultural display that was extremely cool. Among other things, it had a young dance troupe performing to Chinese hip hop, which is just as wonderful as it sounds. Travalon came back and we went home so Tiffy could see the sitar. In the evening she and I had dinner at an Indian restaurant with Rich, then we went to a Baroque concert. Travalon, meanwhile, watched his old high school buddy’s daughter in her high school’s basketball playoff game. They won! So on to State!

Yesterday Travalon, Tiffy, and I had brunch at Crema, then we went to CocoVaa for chocolate, and then Tiffy headed home while Travalon and I went to Sauk to watch eagles. We saw quite a few flying around by the dam, but none sitting in the trees. Then we went to the Harmony Bar for a fundraiser for the local community radio station. It was a band doing Jimmy Buffet covers, but at first they were playing country songs we didn’t know, so the crowd just sat there. Once they started playing Buffet, people got up and started dancing – including us. We had a quiet evening at home; Travalon made delicious pork chops, and we watched a movie from 1929 called Broadway Melody. Warning: the ending isn’t tragic, but it isn’t super happy either. They weren’t afraid to have characters end up alone back in the Roaring 20’s.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Sitar in the House

I forgot to mention that on Wednesday there was another free Bach concert over the lunch hour. They are trying to do one per month, although the January one had to be canceled due to weather and has yet to be rescheduled. This is the first one I’d been to where the bouncy founder did not sing, or speak, or even appear to be there at all. Listening to all that gorgeous music made me think that God must want us to be joyful. Not “happy” as in everything goes our way, but rejoicing in all the beauty He has given us, in the natural world and in inspired art. If art does not make a person joyful, three guesses who inspired it.

A few weeks ago Kathbert had emailed me to say there was a sitar for sale on Craig’s list, so I forwarded the link to Travalon, since he had always said it would be cool if I could play the sitar. More specifically, he would like me to be able to play “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles and “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones. He was like yeah, that’s cool… and then after some time had passed, Kathbert sent the link again and noted the price had come way down. So I informed Travalon, and last night he came home with a sitar for me. It is a fifth anniversary present. Before we had time to look at it, we had to run over to the co-op for their $5 community dinner of tamales, black beans, salad, and a surprisingly tasty gluten-free cookie, since they were only serving it for 45 more minutes. Once we got home, I inspected the sitar and found it seems to be a pretty high-quality instrument. A printout in the case described how to tune the sitar, but it currently does not seem to be tuned that way, nor does it have the same number of strings as described in the printout. However, when I strummed the strings, it did sound like a sitar. It really has a very cool, otherworldly sound to it. We listened to some songs on YouTube, including the aforementioned ones, to hear what a well-played sitar sounds like. It may be a long, long, long time before I sound like that.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Slow Food and Cool Buildings on Campus

Monday Travalon went to a Badger game, so I went to Slow Food for the first time in forever. The cook was a First Nations member (I think Oneida), so the food was all local, like wild rice and whitefish and a delicious blue corn pudding. It was so good to see everyone again! To my surprise, Pete the Sailor Man was there – he had never gone back when I used to go, but one of the other regulars got him into it. I run into him in the most random places!

Yesterday was an interesting day in a good way. First I had a meeting at the top of one of the tallest buildings on campus, in a room that is floor-to-ceiling windows in all directions. Then one of the other people at the meeting introduced herself because we had emailed each other but never met. She said to stop by her office on the top floor of the University Club, so later that day when I was out running a different errand, I did stop by. I talked to her and some other very friendly people I have emailed, and it was quite cool to see the top level of the University Club. It was on my bucket list to see more of that building than just the public dining area on the ground floor, and recently I got to see the lower level. Now I have seen the top level too. I suppose the floors in between are not as interesting.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Know Any Upcoming College Graduates?

Some of you may know someone who is going to be graduating from college in the next few months. Thinking back on that exciting time in my life, I would make the following suggestions. First, do not give a book as a graduation present. A relative did that to me, and it wasn’t even a fun book like a murder mystery or a romance novel, but a book About A Subject with a bibliography and everything, like I hadn’t just spent four years buried in such books. If I were just released from prison, would this relative give me a striped shirt and a length of chain to commemorate the occasion? (Probably.) Today’s college grads are leaving with a lot of debt, so cash would always be a welcome gift. My best suggestion, however, is something to aid with travel. (Which cash can do, admittedly.) This is the best age for a person to travel; you can sleep on the ground and skip meals without a second thought. Also, when I was in Europe in my early 20’s, there were a lot of hot German guys traveling around on Eurail passes who all seemed to play guitar. They never did more than sing a song for me, but it was fun to fantasize that I might end up with one of them, and that is a fantasy that just doesn’t work when you are old enough to be their mother and don’t stay at youth hostels. I presume those guys from my youth now have sons who are equally hot and musical for the new college grad to fantasize about. Who knows? Maybe she will even end up with a hot German husband.

The second piece of advice I would give to someone who knows a person about to graduate from college is to dissuade them from going to grad school right away. In my personal experience, people who go to grad school after four years of college burn out and drop out, while the ones who take some time to travel, work, and just figure out what they want out of life go back to grad school, get their PhD, and land a tenure-track position. Who can face six-plus more years of study after four continuous years of study? Plus the new grad is very young and may not know what they want to do with their life. I would strongly recommend nobody go to grad school before the age of twenty-four, and even that may be a bit young. Then they won’t end up in the position of thinking: “I only got a degree in Experimental Theater because I wanted to be an experimental actor. I didn’t really want to be a scholar of Experimental Theater. Besides, all the major universities are cutting out their Experimental Theater departments, so how would I ever find a tenure-track position?” (Based on a true story.) While times have changed, human nature is the same as it was back when I was a student, and the current grad students I deal with are all more mature than I was when I made a failed attempt at grad school. Nothing good ever came of that. However, the travel I did in my early 20’s left me with treasured memories. So encourage that new college grad to put down the books and get out there to see the world!

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Rich's Hot Chocolate Bar Birthday Party

I hope that my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I celebrated the last day of the Lunar New Year celebrations by going out to dinner at Imperial Garden, our favorite Chinese restaurant in town. This year we did not make an effort to get special “New Year” meals but just ordered our favorites from the menu.

Saturday I had a gig at a community gardening symposium that went well, and the organizer of the community garden close to our house talked me into coming to their sign-up event in a couple of weeks. I also ran into an old coworker I always liked, so that was fun. Then I met up with Tiffy, and we got bubble tea and talked and shopped until meeting up with some other people at a new restaurant called Badger Kitchen. Despite the name that might lead you to believe it sells burgers and brats, the menu was mostly Nepalese comfort food. It was delicious and reasonably priced, although I had an adventure with the waitress accidentally spilling a beer all over me and my purse. (She did give me a discount.) Then several of us went out for rolled ice cream afterwards. Travalon, meanwhile, went to visit his mother and then hung out with one of his best friends for the whole day.

Sunday Travalon and I went to the close church for Mass because there was so much snow, then we went to the Kingdom for brunch. Eventually we ventured down to Rich’s house for the hot chocolate bar Jilly Moose put on for his birthday party. Quite a group was there, including Luxuli and Prairie Man (who brought peppermint schnapps), Cecil Markovitch (who brought chocolate chocolate-chip ice cream), and my OTHER choir director (who brought a chocolate coconut cake). My own contribution was a bottle of Bailey’s to add to the hot chocolate. There were all sorts of additives, and we sat around drinking cocoa and eating chocolate until just a few of us were left, and then one guy brought fried chicken and sides from McGee’s for us. Kudos to Jilly Moose for throwing such a fun party! Then Travalon and I went home and watched the NBA All-Stars’ Game; at first it was really fun because Team Giannis was way ahead of the heavily favored Team LeBron, but in the end they struggled and lost by quite a bit. So sad! I still love Giannis Antetokounmpo and think he should have been MVP, the way he was putting up points. Apparently they never choose the Most Valuable Player from the losing team.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

A Doubly Weird Day

Today two weird things happened to me. The first was early this morning, as I was preparing to leave the house, I could not find my car key. I always put it in my coat pocket, but maybe it had fallen out on the couch, where I had left my coat. I didn’t see it on the couch but figured I could just use my spare key. So I tore apart the house looking for the spare key, until suddenly noticing something on the couch – my regular car key, right where I had first looked for it! How had I not seen it before? I still have no idea where the spare key went, but after all that I was only fifteen minutes late for work, and it didn’t even matter because I had already worked late earlier this week, and nobody was there to see my late entrance.

The second weird thing was when I had to run two errands that required taking the free bus that drives all around campus. (It was too cold out to walk that far.) The bus comes by every five minutes during class times, so I easily caught one and successfully ran the errands. I caught the bus back, but it stopped at the Union and the bus driver ran off, saying, “Don’t be mad at me!” I assumed he just had to powder his nose, but suddenly he fell. I thought he had slipped on the ice, but he did a somersault and I realized he hadn’t fallen by accident but had leapt into the somersault. That was kind of crazy! This bus driver has quite a few years on me, and I can’t see myself leaping into a somersault on the cold, hard ground! When I told the story to a couple of coworkers, one said, “Oh yeah, that bus driver always does something crazy when he gets off the bus.” So if you ever find yourself on the 80 bus, and the driver is a lean gentleman of around sixty, watch for his bus-departing hijinks.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Photos of Early 2019

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Travalon and I went to the University Club for a romantic dinner tonight, and now it's late, so I'll make this quick. Here are some recent photos. This first one is the arrangement we gave to OK Cap when her dad died, three blooming bromeliads. Here they are at the memorial service for her dad.

Here are a couple more pictures from Olbrich Garden:

This is the not so great picture I took of the Super Blood Wolf Moon. Travalon took a better picture of it, which I will try to post at some point.

Here is the red panda Travalon and I made at Fired Up. We think the Chinese characters are actually for a great panda, but we couldn't fit the ones for a red panda on one small tile.

Here is Clyde, the stuffed dog I gave Travalon for his birthday.

For reference, here is a picture of my plant room before we had to put all the plants on blankets because of the extreme cold:

And here is how it looked after we frantically moved the plants onto blankets. It is back to normal now.

And here are all my succulents piled onto a table because the window sills were so cold:

On that very cold day when we didn't leave the house, we entertained ourselves by walking around to reggae, and Travalon brought along some hitchhikers:

Here is the huge pink squirrel Travalon had at Steak Night with the guys. This picture apparently does not capture the immense pinkness of the drink.

This is the really cool mural of Wisconsin made of bicycle gears in a coffee shop on Willy Street.

This is the ice sculpture they had at the swanky fundraiser for Travalon's job:

When I got coffee on Saturday, they made a little bunny in my latte:

Here are a couple of shots from the Domes in Milwaukee: a gasteria just like one I used to have, and a cool little cactus that is a perfect star.

Here is the colorful rubber plant Travalon gave me for Valentine's Day:

And this is the discount fern I got for free.

This is a Chinese evergreen I got at the same time as the discount fern:

And this is some kind of dracaena I bought because I've never seen one like it before:

Here is the little crystal Christmas tree Travalon got me from the antique store.

And here is the beautiful rose they made of a napkin at the University Club tonight.

This is a brief video of the chocolate fountain at the swanky fundraiser for Travalon's job:

This is a very brief video of the tamburitza group we saw in Milwaukee. The guy on the far left is playing a prim, which looks a lot like the tiny "bouzouki" Travalon once gave me. So is my instrument actually a prim?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019


First of all, I would like to wish Richard Bonomo a very happy birthday today. Now forgive me - I suppose being snowed in again is making me wax philosophical, but sometimes I get very sad about never having had children. The one I feel most that I let down is that mysterious mother of mine who came over from Africa in chains, and her descendent who made the dangerous decision to pass as white. Did she know that someday she would have a distant daughter who looks very white, with all the unfair advantages that confers? Somehow I always knew; somehow our histories are written in our genes in ways science cannot yet explain. When I was in college, I dreamed that I was invited to join a society of women of African descent. "There must be some mistake," I thought, but I went, and everyone seemed to accept me. At the time I had no idea what the dream meant; I had no idea it was the actual story of my past. And even stranger, I somehow knew it was Nigeria. (You can ask Travalon how long I have been pestering him to visit Nigeria.) This story of mine will not be passed on to further generations, and for that I feel deep regret.

Then I think of how many other living things never got to pass on their genes either, the seedlings that grew in the wrong spot and the baby birds eaten by crows. I am still a part of the web of life, even if I am not adding to it. And how many generations will come after me? I just read that they think 40% of insect species are on the verge of extinction. Insects, y'all. Those things can survive just about anything, but apparently they can't survive us. If we are so cruel to our brothers and sisters in the human race, why would we be any kinder to our other brothers and sisters who share our planet? I recently read a quote (unfortunately I can't remember the source): "God always forgives, humans sometimes forgive, but Nature never forgives." I can feel that the hour is growing late, we should have been working to prevent this destruction long before today. On the other hand, now that there is apparently no longer a nuclear weapons treaty, maybe there will be a nuclear war, and the ensuing nuclear winter will cancel out all the global warming. When did we forget that all life is sacred? And what will it take to remind us?

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Sixty Eagles and Bounce!

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Travalon and I sure did. Friday evening we went to a work party for him; he works at a nonprofit, and this was a very swanky fundraiser, but we got in free as staff and guest. Was this ever posh: it was at a fancy hotel, and there was a chocolate fountain, all sorts of hors d’oeuvres, and for some reason women dressed as butterflies walking around on stilts. There was even a Michael Jackson impersonator and later a band. We did dance a little, and during one song we watched a bunch of people do a dance, maybe the Electric Slide, but that wasn’t the song. It was a great time, and Travalon’s coworkers seem very nice. I don’t think bitter people who desperately need a job (like he ran into at his last job) work with kids at a nonprofit.

Saturday we had such a fun day. We met Rich for coffee, then we drove out to Sauk to see eagles. And boy did we see eagles! Usually if we see six, it is a good day, but this time we saw around twenty at each of our three usual venues. People told me afterwards that this was because the river must have frozen, so they were congregating around the dam where the water is still open. I like to think it is because I prayed so hard for the eagles during the cold snap that they all wanted to show me they had survived, and maybe both explanations are true. After that we went to the antiques store in Baraboo so I could get Travalon a Valentine’s Day gift, and he wanted an old Milwaukee Braves game program. He also bought himself salt and pepper shakers that look like old Texaco gas pumps. I bought myself a tiny penny in a package that says something about how it’s getting smaller under Nixon, and Travalon bought me a tiny crystal Christmas tree. Then we went to Home Depot because they have beautiful and inexpensive plants, and he bought me a colorful rubber plant and a tiny purple-tinted succulent. We decided to check out something at the Monona Terrace called Bounce!, which was a collection of inflatable things like bounce castles but for adults, like there was an obstacle course and a gladiator arena and a boulder run which I didn’t do, but Travalon did it and bounced off in such a spectacular fashion that I laughed until I cried. Too bad I didn’t make a video... We had so much fun, even if we were among the oldest people there, and the background music was like the worst songs from the last ten years.

Yesterday we went with Cecil Markovitch to Milwaukee to hear a Croatian band playing tamburitza music, since that is both Travalon’s and Cecil’s ethnic heritage (and I’m supposedly part Balkan too, per my genetics test). Travalon made videos of it for his mom. Then we went to the Domes, where they were having a model train show besides all the usual plants. We went to a very funky coffee shop on Brady Street, and then for dinner we went to a Mideastern restaurant called Casablanca. That was so much fun! What a really great weekend.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Oh Yeah?

Maybe I am personifying my plants too much, but my post yesterday about how my big plants got lazy and leaned against the wall made me think of another story involving Jolly Bob. I found this plant one day while driving home from a now-defunct restaurant by that name with Tiffy, and she laughed when I saw the plant discarded on the corner and pulled over to grab it. At that time it was about three feet tall, and as is often the case, was actually two dracaena plants in one pot. The two plants grew taller and taller, and then one day one of them sent up a shoot from the base that started to grow into a new stalk. Within a couple of weeks, the second plant had sent up an identical shoot, and I always felt like it was all, “Oh yeah? Two can play this game!” The two new stalks continued to grow at an identical rate and are now just a bit taller than the original plants were when I acquired them. Now people can argue that plants have no consciousness and cannot decide to do something, that they simply bloom or turn toward the sun – or send out new shoots – because of conditions, and that it isn’t weird that identical conditions would cause both plants to do the same thing at the same time. Still, they don’t do all the same things all the time; for example, one of the original Jolly Bob stalks grew a branch off of it, and the other one didn’t. It just looked so funny the way the two new stalks grew that it seemed like the second one was a retort to the first one, and that’s the way I like to think it happened. Maybe someday science will back me up on this. Who knows?

Isn’t this weather weird? It’s like winter felt bad for arriving late, so it made us a mix tape, a sort of “Best Of” (Worst Of?) compilation. Here – have some snow! Now a polar vortex! And now sleet! How about ice everywhere? You can have it all!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Weird Bus Experiences and Lazy Plants

In the last couple of weeks I have had some odd experiences involving the bus. Last Friday I was bundled from head to toe with only my eyes showing, and a college kid on the bus hit on me! You would think he could see the crow’s feet around my eyes, but apparently he only noticed that I was female and didn’t realize I was middle-aged and plump – who could tell my size under a bulky coat, after all? We began chatting, and he soon realized his mistake and started pointedly talking about his girlfriend. I didn’t bother telling him that I was happily married, as well as being old enough to have borne him, and we had a good conversation about superhero movies. I thought that was pretty funny.

The second thing was on Monday afternoon, just after I got on the bus, I saw a guy I know sauntering toward the next bus stop, but he did not get there in time to get on the bus. Then several stops later he got on the bus!! What?!? Believe me, this guy is not fast enough to run to that stop before the bus got there – his usual speed is a relaxed waddle because he is almost as wide as he is tall. Did I just think I saw him the first time, but it was actually someone who looked just like him? Was it a glitch in the Matrix, as they say? I guess I will never know.

This has nothing to do with busses, but my plants Greg, The Professor, Dr. Cheung, and Jolly Bob lived in Rich’s wonderful atrium area for a couple of years, and they were pushed back toward the wall to allow more room. So guess what? They realized there was a wall there (can plants “realize”? Who knows?) and started to lean against it. Now that they are all in my condo, they don’t stand up straight, so I have to put them against walls to hold them up. Plants – they’re just as lazy as we are. It didn’t occur to me until I was moving Dr. Cheung and Jolly Bob around to minimize their contact with cold windows, floors, etc., and then I realized they all have this issue. Is that just the nature of life, that it will always seek the path of least resistance? I thought I was like that because of being born in the Year of the Pig. Happy Lunar New Year – it is my year again! We Pigs are supposedly very lucky, but very lazy. Sounds about right.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Make America the Roaring 20's Again

The other evening Travalon and I were discussing “Make America Great Again,” and we wondered when exactly the people who created this motto thought America was great. If you go back in our country’s past, some groups have been treated shamefully. We did think maybe the 20’s wouldn’t have been so bad – women were newly empowered with the right to vote, and there were a lot of black-owned businesses. Baseball was wonderful, with Babe Ruth and the thriving Negro League. The music was fantastic – hot jazz? Yes, please! So if people are endorsing going back to the 20’s, I don’t have a problem with that.

Weirdly, I seem to have a dream connection with my old coworkers. About a month ago I dreamed that all of us who were laid off or retired last year were walking through a beautiful paradise, and a woman who currently works there was with us. I asked Handy Woman if she had gotten a new job, and she said no, but she was on vacation in a tropical paradise. Then just yesterday I dreamed my old boss had gotten a new job, and then Handy Woman emailed to ask if I had heard about my old boss getting a new job. Does my subconscious still wish I were working there? Or do I just miss the people that much?

Apparently they are getting rid of Google+, and that includes all comments made on this blog using Google+. Great - I hardly get any comments as it is, and now half of them will disappear.

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Fish Fry Gig and Jazz Jam

I hope my readers got to get outside and enjoy the much-improved temperatures this weekend. Friday night I had a gig at Common Ground’s fish fry, and to my surprise one of the other altos from our choir and her husband came. Of course – someone had tagged me on social media, so they saw the post. Our set list was very heavy on polkas because our bandleader thought polkas were appropriate for a fish fry, and the lighting was kind of an issue, but I enjoyed playing anyway. Travalon, meanwhile, was at a very exciting Badger basketball game, where they came from behind to beat Maryland.

Saturday Travalon and I went to a cafĂ© on Willy Street that has a bicycle theme, then we went to a bar on the river in Fort Atkinson to see an acoustic duo doing Jimmy Buffet covers. Tiffy had been planning to come up, but she wasn’t sure about the weird weather forecast, so she stayed home and we talked on the phone while Travalon and the guys had a steak night. When Travalon got home, he and I walked around the house to Pantera songs. If any of our neighbors are not snowbirds, they must think we are nuts! Maybe we are…

Yesterday Travalon and I joined members of our choir for brunch after Mass, and as I’d feared the one alto told the others about my gig. Granted, her criticisms of my band were all valid, and the only ones she had of me were that I should learn some more interesting rhythms for polkas, and that my solo on “Ashoken Farewell” was wonderful so I should really have more solos. After that Travalon and I thought about heading out of town, but the fog was so thick that we gave up and went to Middleton, where we took a long walk in the neighborhoods just around downtown. Then we went to a jazz jam at the North Street Cabaret, and that was really cool. Some of the performers were amazing, like a professor from Whitewater and a kid who looked maybe fifteen. Some were pretty mediocre, like the three different people who sang “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” Craziest of all, there was an old lady in a short dress, who was sitting in such a way that you could see she had no underwear on, and she got up last and played on a very out-of-tune mandolin she called Wanda. I guess that’s more imaginative than the name I have for my own mandolin – I just call her Mandy. Then we went to a new restaurant for dinner, but I got mad because they had no toilet paper – not even toilet paper dispensers – so we left. No, we didn’t watch the Super Bowl because we are sick of Brady and still mad that the Saints got eliminated due to that terrible non-call. I hear it was the most boring one ever, even the ads and the halftime show. And of course the Patriots won again. Yawn!

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