Monday, September 30, 2019

Weekend Lost to a Cold

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine was very low-key, because I have a terrible cold. Friday I came home from work and just collapsed, but Travalon the sweetheart picked up curry fish from the Kingdom for me, so I didn't have to leave the house. We just had a quiet night at home. Saturday we were thinking of going to the Badger game, but I was feeling lousy so we just watched them at home. Travalon was saved when his old friend came to town to hang out with him; first we got some chocolate at CocoVaa, then he dropped me at Olbrich Gardens and I walked around praying a rosary while he and his buddy hung out at record stores. I really wasn't feeling any better even after the fresh air and sunshine, so Travalon took me home, and he and his buddy hung out on State Street and at the Union Terrace. Sunday I felt too lousy to go to Mass; we did get coffee in Waunakee, but Westport got rid of their 11 am Mass, so we had to go to 5 pm downtown. First we went on a quest for a beer Travalon had tried called Hawaiian Shirt Party that has pineapple and coconut in it; we went to Barley Pop, but they didn't have it, so we went to Riley's just before Mass and found some. After Mass we went to see Toto, since we had gotten the tickets before I got sick. That was a very good show - they are incredible musicians.

Today I was home sick from work, but eventually I took a walk at Governor's Island just to get some sunshine and fresh air. Was that an adventure - the road there is full of potholes, and there is a tree across the path, so I had to turn around and go back the way I came. Then I went to my garden plot and collected a few Brussel sprouts, even though they still aren't very big yet. I found one good-sized beet, but it had been munched by some creature, and I dug up a bunch of carrots. Tonight I had what was left of the beet, and I roasted the Brussel sprouts - they were so good that Travalon didn't even hate the one he tried! We also had kale and carrots.

Since this is such an uninteresting blog post, I will give you some pictures to look at. The first thing is a conjoined twin banana. Isn't it crazy looking? Inside were two perfect bananas.

One day my colleague and I both wore the same shirt! Isn't that crazy?

Isn't this cool? Crocuses that bloom in the fall! They are all over Allen Centennial Gardens.

Here is the sunset Travalon and I saw from the Union Terrace after jazz on the roof.

And this is the sunset I saw from the boat at the marina donors' party.

Here is the flowerpot I painted at the Allen Centennial Gardens.

This fascinating pyramid made of stones was at Olbrich Gardens.

And here are some carrots from my garden plot. The purple ones seem to be larger than the orange ones, except for the monster one that isn't very orange at all. I was afraid it would taste like wood, but it wasn't too bad. The purple ones were very tasty!

And here are two videos from the recent concerts we went to. First is "Steppin' Out" by Steel Pulse.

And this is "Hold the Line" by Toto.

Famous Hat

Friday, September 27, 2019

Are You Ready for Some Football? NO!!

Wednesday evening I went to my garden plot and dug out the two amaryllis plants and the three calla lilies, put them in pots, and brought them inside. I also dug up some root vegetables, and that evening Travalon and I enjoyed the orange and purple carrots. I like mine raw, but he prefers his steamed with a little brown sugar. Hey, whatever it takes to get him to eat vegetables! I had a win with broccoli covered in cheese, but my garden only produced a couple of servings of broccoli. However, it has become a never-ending source of kale, or so it seems. It would be fantastic if I could dig those plants up and bring them in the house for kale all winter! But I don’t think that would work. Luckily Travalon also will eat kale with cheese on it, so that has been our go-to vegetable all summer.

Last night I roasted a few small beets for myself (Travalon doesn’t like beets, but there weren’t enough to share anyway), plus we had kale, of course. Then we watched the Packers. I was already grumpy about watching football, having been dragged kicking and screaming into autumn – why can’t it be summer forever? – and then I couldn’t understand why they were playing on a Thursday night AGAIN. Plus I still haven’t watched the two Sunday afternoon games yet, but they actually won those. Last night they looked pretty lousy against the Eagles, and I wonder if my watching them in real time brings them bad luck. They won their season opener, but we watched that after the fact, so maybe I couldn’t ruin their chances. It seems both the Packers and I have to find our rhythm for autumn!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Thai Restaurant and Painted Flowerpot

Yesterday evening after my adoration hour, Travalon and I went to a Thai restaurant on our side of town that we had been curious about. We loved the décor, with lots of plants and Asian accents, but the waitress seemed to ignore us for a long time. Finally she came and wanted to take our order before bringing us water. We ordered, and then our food came quickly. Travalon’s curry duck was delicious, but my dish didn’t appear to be anything like what I was expecting. It turns out the waitress thought I had ordered something else that doesn’t even sound the least bit like what I wanted, and she kept arguing with me that I had ordered what she brought, not what I actually wanted. Finally she brought the right dish, but then she was going to charge us for all three dishes. Fortunately Travalon was able to convince her we shouldn’t pay for the dish I never wanted, which I didn’t like and didn’t eat. So that was kind of weird.

Today they had the usual Wednesday lunchtime activity at Allen Centennial Gardens, this time painting a flowerpot. Some of the people there were painting elaborate designs on their terra cotta pots, but I seem to be lacking originality in my old age (not to mention time), so I just painted some childish-looking flowers in primary colors around the sides of mine. The other people at my table were mixing colors to get interesting shades of chartreuse and copper and raspberry, but I just stuck with the basic red, yellow, blue, and green. It was a timely activity because tonight I plan to retrieve the houseplants from my garden plot, and I was wondering if I had enough pots to put them in. This one should be just the right size for the larger amaryllis. There is a smaller amaryllis, and three calla lilies: one blooms white, one blooms black (but is already in a pot courtesy of Handy Woman), and one blooms orange. It has been warm enough for them lately, but I don’t expect this weather to last forever!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Free Finnish Concert

Yesterday Travalon and I went to a free concert hosted by my department. The band was from Finland; one guy played the guitar and sang some, the woman played the violin and sang some, and the lead singer also had mad skillz on the harmonica, almost sounding like an accordion on some songs. Both he and the guitarist also played the ukulele on a few songs. Now if you don’t associate the ukulele with Finland, you are not alone – I never knew they used it in folk songs, but this was a folk band. Maybe it was actually a Finnish folk instrument that just looked and sounded like a ukulele, or maybe they just like the sound of the ukulele and incorporated it into their band, because the whole premise of this concert was that tradition is living and changing all the time. The concert was to celebrate the upcoming publication (by the press where I used to work) of a book of folk songs in Finnish but collected in this country, with SINGABLE translations into English by a couple of faculty members in our department. Indeed, on one song they handed out the words in both language and had us sing along. Travalon and I sang with great gusto. Before the concert he had said he wasn’t too interested because he doesn’t like Scandinavian music, but this music was so lively that it won him over to some extent. I’m not saying he’s going to run out and buy this band’s latest CD or anything, but we both had a good time. That’s the fun thing about living in a college town – sometimes you get to go to free concerts and sing in Finnish!

Speaking of concerts, there will be an early music one (not free) by one of the local ensembles, and the harpsichord player came to our department to put flyers into our mailboxes, since they will be doing a German composer's (Telemann) pieces during this upcoming concert, so he thought our faculty and grad students might be interested. He saw me and said, "I know you!" and even remembered that I used to work with his wife. I told him Tiffy and I already had the concert on our calendars, but Travalon won't be there. He likes classic rock, not Baroque music. The world would be far more boring if we all loved the same things, although I will admit that I would not understand anyone loving that weird twelve-tone modern music or Ornette Coleman. Is that really "music" or just a bunch of sounds?

Famous Hat

Monday, September 23, 2019

Street Fest

I hope that my readers had a good weekend. I had a lovely Thursday evening listening to jazz on the rooftop. I went by myself but ran into Handy Woman and a friend of hers I had never met before, then they left and I ended up chatting with a delightful older couple who were Wolverine fans in town to see the game, and they found out about the concert and came. Then I ran into a gang from two jobs ago, and we had the best time hanging out. The jazz ensembles were made up of students at the university. Travalon joined us right at the end, then he and I hung out on the Union Terrace and saw a beautiful sunset.

Friday evening I was invited to a donor thank you gala for people who donated to the new Hoofers marina. Now there was some big money at this shindig, including the family the marina is named after, so I felt ridiculous being there, having donated such a piddly amount. Travalon was at work, so I mostly talked to the student workers who kept bringing around delicious hors d’oeuvres, and the captain of the boat giving free boat rides. I went on one, and we saw a beautiful sunset and joined a group of sailboats. That was magical! By the time Travalon arrived, they had packed up the party, so he and I headed to a free concert organized by some of the grad students in my department, but we got there literally the moment it ended. However, the grad students and performer were happy to see us, and they invited us to hang out and eat deep fried cheese curds with them.

Saturday Travalon watched the Badgers beat Michigan, but I went to the gardens to do some community hours (more like community forty-five minutes – weeding is hard!), and then my band had a gig at Eplegaarden. The Rosary Ladies came out to hear us, but the weather was not too promising so we didn’t have much more audience. It did rain right at the end. Then I had to fight game-day traffic to get home, change, and head to our department picnic. Travalon and I mostly talked to one of the other peons in the department, and a friendly professor of Polish and his equally friendly wife. I didn’t have time to make anything, so I just brought some apple cider that was part of the $25 in produce I got for playing at the gig. (I also got a pumpkin, more apple cider, some donuts, Haralson apples – my favorite! – and a $2 bill for a tip.) I told the Rosary Ladies there would be plenty of leftovers, because a bunch of people didn’t come due to the weather, but they showed up after everything was packed up. Luxuli prayed over my injured leg, and after that the bump did seem a lot flatter. Travalon told me about an amazing meertz he had at Funk Factory called Hawaiian Shirt that had pineapple and coconut, so we went there, but they had a sign on their door saying that due to unforeseen circumstances, the taproom would be closed until nine. Travalon and I went to Lakeside Street Coffeehouse for a quick beverage, then we came back, but the sign had been updated to say the taproom would be closed until ten, so we just headed home.

Yesterday I was very grumpy about getting up and going to Mass, then afterwards we joined Rich and another bass at Rockhound for brunch. We had to pick up an item forgotten the night before at Lakeside Street Coffeehouse, so we went there for lattes. I took a nap and missed yet another Packers game (but we taped them so I can go back and watch them), and that’s a shame because they are actually doing well this year. Then Travalon and I braved the rain to watch the Forward beat a team from Texas, and right at the end of the game, the sun came out. Then we decided to try to do “Street Fest,” which was something we planned to celebrate the publication of my poem about Willy Street on the side of a bus. However, we have not yet seen it on a bus, even though it was supposed to appear last month. The idea was to go to one venue on John Nolen, one on Willy Street, one on Atwood Avenue, and one on Monona Drive to celebrate how they are all one big party street; my original plan was to start at the café on the roof of the Monona Terrace, but the weather wasn’t amenable to that yesterday. We decided to count Lakeside Street Coffeehouse, even though (as the name would imply) it is on Lakeside Street, since it is just off of John Nolen Drive. Since we had been there in the morning, we went to Mother Fool’s on Willy Street for a latte, Next Door Brewing on Atwood for a slice of beer pie, and finished at David’s Jamaican on Monona Drive for dinner. We got to David’s exactly at eight, and they were just about to lock the door, but they said they could give us jerk chicken to go, so we ate it at one of their outside tables. So that was Street Fest, a perhaps premature celebration of my poem that celebrates the Street.

Famous Hat

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Jilly Moose's Birthday Party

Yesterday evening I went to band practice and, for the first time in a while, I felt a little bad about just playing chords while the fiddles played the melody. Sometimes I play more than just chords, and on some songs I actually do play the melody, and usually I enjoy this variety – I can do it all! Then later in the evening I was listening to a CD of Cuban music, and I wished I could play the guajeo line that is usually played on the piano. It’s so exuberant, and I used to play along to it on my mandolin, but I remember some songs were in some weird key like E major that I don’t want to deal with on a mandolin. Salsa songs are rarely in G major, which is all we mandolin players really want to play in. Of course, a lot of salsa songs are actually in a minor key – which is why I love them – but were they in easy minor keys like E minor, which is basically just G major? Not on my CDs! Anyway, I gave up practicing the guajeo years ago since I figured there is exactly no salsa band out there looking for a mandolin.

After band practice, Travalon picked me up and we went to the Nitty Gritty for Jilly Moose’s birthday party. At first there were a ton of people there, but they all left soon after we got there, except for Jilly Moose and OK Cap. I was exhausted and starving and pretty grumpy, but I felt a little better after eating an Impossible Burger. Have you heard of these? They are some kind of vegan “burger” that everyone is talking about. It tasted fine, but guess what? I was hungry again in an hour! I should have gotten the Falafel Burger, since falafel is satisfying. Which makes sense: people have been eating falafel for millennia, so it is a tried and true food, but Impossible Burgers seem to have leaped into existence within the last three months. Jilly Moose and OK Cap had tiny little sundaes, and maybe I should have too – that would have been more satisfying than this vegan creation! I went home and tried to pop the corn from my garden, but it never popped. Luckily I had some other popcorn around that did pop. Maybe my homegrown popcorn needed more time…? I may try again tonight.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Steel Pulse (Life With Music)

Last night Travalon and I had a very late evening because we went to see the reggae band Steel Pulse at the Barrymore. My Pandora station plays a lot of Steel Pulse, so I knew most of the songs they did. I really enjoyed the show: lively music that is mostly minor key? Check. Lots of dreadlocks? Check. Brightly colored attire? Check! A marijuana flag? But of course! And even a slight scent of wacky weed coming from somewhere in the audience. We mostly sat but got up to dance toward the end, and during the encore when they sang the lyrics to “Rollerskates”: “Life without music, I can’t go, no!” I was totally feeling it. Who can live a life without music?

Just when I was thinking that reggae must indeed be my favorite type of music, today at lunch there was another free Bach concert, with a viola sonata and another for two flutes. Ah, Baroque music! And then there’s salsa. I can’t choose! Luckily I don’t have to. It is so amazing to live in a time and place where musicians perform all these types of music – and more! I have even heard Mongolian throat singers here in town. Not that this would rate as my favorite type of music, but it does have an eerie beauty. Life without music? I can’t go, no – and here in Madison, I don’t have to!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bald Cardinal No Longer Bald

A couple of weeks ago, Hardingfele and I took a walk at lunch, and while we were in the Allen Centennial Gardens, the bald cardinal alit on the path in front of us and hopped ahead of us. I tried to take another picture of him, but once again he escaped as soon as he saw the camera come out. Then today at lunch I was walking in the gardens when I saw a woman taking photos with one of those giant camera lenses across the path. I paused, thinking it was a little rude of her to block the path like that but not wanting to interrupt her photo, and then she put down the camera.

“It’s a baby cardinal,” she said, pointing at a young cardinal hopping around in a tree.

“There’s a bald cardinal too,” I said, and she pointed to where the cardinal was standing on the ground.

“He was feeding the baby,” she told me. “But he’s not really bald – his feathers are just kind of light on top.”

Indeed, the cardinal is no longer bald. He just looks a bit bedraggled now. Whatever was afflicting him, he must be in recovery mode. The people who work in the garden said the bald cardinal has been around for at least three years, so I am wondering if his issue is seasonal, and whatever causes his feathers to fall out is dissipating with the shorter days and cooler nights. Maybe by next month he will look like a classic male cardinal, with a bold, beautiful crest, and maybe that is why the Polar Vortex didn’t kill him – he had feathers on his head to keep him warm at that time. The mystery deepens…

Famous Hat

Monday, September 16, 2019

Willy Street Fair, Lotus Seeds, and Baobab Shakes

I hope my readers had a good weekend. Friday Travalon and I went to the seafood restaurant in the same strip mall as Crema Café for their fish boil, which they say is “even better than Door County!” It is different than a Door County fish boil, I wouldn’t necessarily say “better” but very good. We ended the meal with Key lime crème brulee. Yum!

Saturday morning Travalon and I met Tiffy and the Rosary Ladies for coffee and a walk around the Farmers’ Market, then we ladies had lunch outside at the Peruvian restaurant on State Street while Travalon went to the Union Terrace. In the afternoon we went to the Willy Street Fair, but Travalon was disappointed because it didn’t seem as lively as other years. The weather was perfect, but there seemed to be a whole block of the fair missing. We usually go on Sunday, so I wondered if more vendors were coming the next day. I was specifically looking for a West African food stand that has baobab shakes. They always come to the Willy Street Fair and to Africa Fest, but this year by the time we got to Africa Fest they were sold out of the baobab shakes. I did (big shock!) buy a succulent, and Travalon bought a very cool print. In the evening, Rich, Travalon, Tiffy, and I went out for Tiffy’s birthday dinner. (Her actual birthday was on Monday.) We went to Otto’s and sat out on their beautiful covered balcony, which is like being in a tree house. The day was cooling off a bit by then, but how could we complain? It had been so perfect.

Yesterday Travalon and I overslept and went to Mass near our house, then we went to one place for brunch but they had a long wait, so we went to Crema Café and sat outside. We took a boat ride and collected some more lotus seed heads, and I noted that somehow I always connected being on a boat with something wonderful from my childhood, but that makes no sense because my family didn’t have a boat, and I don’t remember being on one as a child. We didn’t even live anywhere near an ocean or a lake, so where this deep love of all things maritime comes from is beyond me. Then we went back to the Willy Street Fair, and guess what? The extra block of the festival was back! And in that extra block we found the stand with the baobab shakes! And they were just as good as I remembered! In the evening Rich had a dinner for the Japanese professor who visits every year and some of his friends; I brought the lotus seeds, but there was so much food, we never did anything with them. Anyway, they are not really part of Japanese cuisine. After we got home, I ate some raw with the covering off, and they were pretty good, but this morning I brought a seed head to my Chinese colleague who had first advocated eating them, and she told me they aren’t ripe yet. I suffered no ill effects from eating the unripe seeds, and in fact they gave me a kind of pleasant sensation. They are considered very healthful in Chinese medicine, but who knows about the unripe ones? Anyway, I can always roast them – then they are a lot like pumpkin seeds. Delicious!

Famous Hat

Friday, September 13, 2019

Vegetable Dinner and Beating the Storm Home

Last night I went to the same vegetable dinner I had attended last year, and this year we thought the food was even better. I met a group of the Slow Food people there, and we wandered from station to station and enjoyed dishes created from heirloom vegetables by local chefs such as carrot “pastrami,” beet brownies, and the one we liked best, candied peppers on cornbread. So good! One of the dishes had a very hot pepper on top of whitefish and a hardy bread, and I forgot that I had touched the pepper. After we had all tried everything, someone said what time it was and I rubbed my eye, which was instantly filled with intense pain. I said, “I have to run to the bathroom to take care of this, and then I’ll head home,” but by the time I got to the bathroom, my eye had already recovered. I had second thoughts that the evening really wasn’t that late, but I felt a little weird to go back to the group after saying goodbye, so I went to the bus stop and the bus soon came by to take me home. It was a new bus with very cushy seats; I have seen these driving around town but hadn’t gotten to ride one yet. When the bus got to the transfer point, I got off and walked to my car, marveling at how there seemed to be lightning in the distance in every direction and even overhead. The entire sky was flashing! “Maybe it is best that I headed home when I did!” I thought… and just as I parked, some lightning struck nearby. Boy, did that scare me! I ran into the house, and not long after the rain poured down and the TV and our phones notified us about a flash flood warning. So then I thought the little bit of pain from the hot pepper in my eye was worth it to get home before a horrible storm!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Weird Wednesday

Today was a weird one for me. It started out pretty normally, except that Travalon drove me to the bus stop because one of the tires on my car has a slow leak, so he took it into the shop. They said they couldn’t fix it until next Tuesday, but that shouldn’t be a problem since it is a SLOW leak, as in I have to fill it back up to optimal levels about once every week and a half. I know when this happened: I had just dropped Tiffy off at her car in front of the Daughter of Denni’s house, and it was late and dark, and I was tired. As I drove down Segoe Road, which is divided, I got too close to the curb on the driver’s side. Whoops! My own stupidity.

My right leg, which got massively bruised during our Kickapoo canoe trip, has been bothering me a lot lately, and I wasn’t sure if it was just part of the healing process or something worse. The worst thing you can do is google your symptoms, because of course then I was sure I had deep vein thrombosis and would die of a pulmonary embolism any moment. I sent an email to the doctor’s office, and they actually thought the same thing, so they made me come in and have an ultrasound of my leg. That was a weird experience, but I didn't see anything alarming on the screen, and judging by the technician’s reaction, neither did she. So I got a clean bill of health, except that the doctor mentioned something called compartment syndrome, which I had never heard of. Of course I looked it up as soon as I could, and yikes! But I think if she was really convinced the tissue in my leg was dying, she would have been a lot more concerned. She just said elevate it as much as possible and take lots of ibuprofen. One thing I have noticed is that the more I rest, the more it hurts, so I have actually been moving as much as possible, except today. No walk at lunch because I was too busy sitting around waiting to see the doctor and the ultrasound technician. Maybe I can get one in very late tonight…

Famous Hat

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Converting a Bear

Saturday evening at Rich’s house, a friend of Mr. Icon’s told a really funny (in my opinion, anyway) joke that I will share with my readers. Warning: it is slightly off-color and involves religion.

A rabbi, a priest, and a Pentecostal preacher were talking one day about how hard it was to make new converts, and they thought they should take up a real challenge and try to convert a grizzly bear. So they each went into the woods to find a grizzly bear and convert it, and then they met back up a week later to report their results.

The priest looked as healthy as ever. He said he had come upon the bear and started chanting the Divine Liturgy, and the bear seemed confused, so he sprinkled it with water and proclaimed that he was baptizing it in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bear ran off into the woods, and the priest concluded that his conversion had been successful.

The Pentecostal preacher was pretty banged up, covered in bandages and with his arm in a cast. He said, “As you know, our baptism is full immersion, so I had to wrestle that bear down to the river and get him under the water! But I did it – a successful conversion!”

The rabbi was in a full-body cast and traction. From beneath the plaster covering his face, he mumbled, “Upon further reflection, perhaps I shouldn’t have started with circumcision.”

Famous Hat

Monday, September 9, 2019

Bagpipes and Lotus Seeds

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I had one full of vegetables, but it started out full of mystery on Friday evening: as I waited for Travalon to come home, I heard someone playing the bagpipes outside. Being terminally curious, I ventured out and saw a youngish guy in full Scottish regalia playing in the parking lot at Mariner’s, but before I could ask him what was going on, a middle-aged guy led him to where the cruises leave, so I assume he was there for a private cruise since there are no public “Scottish Highland” cruises offered. When Travalon came back, we went to Octopi Brewing for their fish fry, but they had run out of it, and the mushroom sandwich I had instead was not too satisfying. We ended up going to Mariner’s to have some fish fingers and ice cream drinks, and we asked the bartenders if they knew what the bagpiper was doing there earlier that evening. None of them had heard him, but Jack the owner had, and apparently he said, “That guy has just about worn out his welcome.”

Saturday Travalon and I weeded my garden plot and collected a bunch of greens and zucchini for a party at Rich’s later that evening, then we went on a boat ride to the mouth of Six Mile Creek and Governor Nelson State Park. On the way back we stopped at a patch of lotus growing in the river, because my Chinese colleague said the seeds are really good. I picked five of the green seed heads that look like shower heads, then we brought everything over to Rich’s house. He was hosting a dinner for Mr. Icon, who was visiting from Alaska. Fortunately someone else cooked the zucchini – and did a wonderful job – because I had my hands full getting the seeds out of the lotus flower heads. We tried them raw, but they were very bitter, so I cooked them in oil on the stovetop, and they made a popping noise but did not get fluffy, the way it said they would when we consulted the internet. With some spice they were like roasted pumpkin seeds – very tasty. I also cooked a bunch of greens: beet, collard, Swiss chard, and two kinds of kale. And wouldn’t you know that this time Rich had not only remembered to make a vegetable, he made two – broccoli and corn on the cob! Someone thought it was Mr. Icon’s birthday, so she gave him a bunch of little toy animals, and after dinner we played with them. Someone brought a marzipan cake she had made for dessert. It was so good to see Mr. Icon again! And I felt very proud to have grown or foraged so much of the dinner.

Yesterday on the way to Mass Travalon and I saw a deer, a bunch of Canadian geese, and two turkeys within a few blocks of our house. I was saying that my poem has not appeared on a bus yet, and he made me laugh so hard by saying maybe the people who thought my photo was too ugly for their event page contacted the bus company and said, "Don't put her poem on a bus - she's too ugly to be a bus poet!" We took a hike at Cherokee Marsh, and I looked at all the lotus plants growing there. It’s kind of a preserve, so I’m not sure we’re allowed to harvest seed heads, but man, there sure are a lot of them! The ones we took were in the river, not the preserve area. Then we stopped by a small festival at the gardens, where I ran into an old coworker. I went over to Rich’s house for leftovers, because the Japanese professor who visits all the time was supposed to be there. He missed his flight, but his student (a senior in college) came, and he was very cool. Travalon had gone to see The Who with an old friend, so I went to bed alone, and before that I did something almost as stupid as watching a scary movie alone at night – I read a book about weird, unexplained happenings, and the author chalked them all up to demonic activity. Boy, was I spooked! I did fall asleep, but then in the middle of the night I heard a strange sound in the bedroom. It took me a long time to realize it was just Travalon breathing – I never heard him come in! After that I couldn’t get back to sleep, so today I am kind of a zombie. Fortunately not a zombie snail, but that’s a post for another time.

Famous Hat

Friday, September 6, 2019

Wimping Out

Did you watch the Packer game last night? A coworker said it was boring because it was so low-scoring, but after a summer of low-scoring games like baseball and soccer, I found it comforting. Truthfully, I am not quite ready for football yet, but it was still good to see that after further review, the Bears still suck. In other Wisconsin vs. Illinois sports news, the Cubs beat the Brewers. How do I feel about this? I’ll give you a hint: I have more than one article of clothing with a Cubs logo on it, but nothing with a Brewers logo. So I guess I’ve got divided loyalties.

Remember when I said I would pray the Litany of Humility every day? Yikes, it works! At first I found the humiliation kind of funny, as if I were trapped in a sitcom. For example, I ran for a committee and everyone in our university Congress voted, then they sent an email to everyone in Congress saying how many votes each person got, and I got the least of the dozen candidates. But recently I was at an event, and not once but twice they asked me to pose for a photo. Then when they posted photos, neither of mine were there! Now I am not a photogenic person, and in general when candid shots are shared of an event, I am not in any of them, so I’m used to that. But in this case they asked me to be in TWO pictures!! Were both of them that bad?? I emailed the event organizer, who replied that there were a lot of photos, they couldn’t choose all of them. Fair enough, but there were photos of everyone else who was there, and of inanimate objects like pastries. I said I was hoping to see the photos, and he sent one but not the other. Of course everyone is critical of their own photos, so I think I look horrible (but OK Cap looks fine); however, I did like the bright colors. You can see for yourself:

So then I couldn’t help thinking, “Oh no, it’s not my imagination – my photograph is so hideous that the event organizers wouldn’t post it!” Then I called Rich and said I don’t think I can handle this Litany of Humility, should I quit doing it? I fully expected him to say it was good mortification, but to my surprise he said there is no need to pray for bad things to happen to you to offer them up. There’s plenty to offer up as it is. He said that is only what very advanced souls do, and I am not an advanced soul! So I am wimping out and not praying the Litany of Humility anymore. I can embarrass myself enough on my own – I sure don’t need extra humiliation sent my way!

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Photos from Our Castle Rock Adventures

Here are some photos from our weekend camping adventures. First are a couple of shots of Castle Rock Lake.

This is St. Patrick's in Mauston, where we went to Mass on Saturday evening.

And this looks like a Belleek plate of St. Patrick's.

Here are a couple photos of the little wooden boat on the beach we went to.

And here is the sunset as seen from Shipwreck Bay.

This cute little church was called St. Theresa's of the Lake, but we didn't go to Mass there because it was at 7:30 am. We just showed up afterwards and talked someone into letting us in.

These are the cool rock formations at Castle Mound State Natural Area.

On the path we saw this young buck, and he didn't seem very scared of us. Eventually he went back into the woods. We also saw a doe out of the window of the restaurant at Voyageurs, but I didn't take a picture of her.

This demented little toy was abandoned on the beach at Mill Bluff State Park - only it wasn't, because eventually a kid came and collected it. It was probably the same kid who told Travalon he was too big for his raft and then demanded to use it himself. Being a lot nicer than I am, Travalon let him. I would have been all, "Get your own raft, kid!"

This is the observation area at Wildcat Mountain State Park.

And this is one of the ice caves at the same park.

Finally, here is a video of our campfire with turquoise flames.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Camping at Castle Rock Lake

I hope my readers enjoyed the long weekend. Travalon and I started it off quietly, having fish on the patio at Mariner’s. Saturday we drove to Castle Rock County Park and set up our tent, then we went to Mass at St. Patrick’s in Mauston, the church I used to always see from the interstate. These days the lovely gold accents are a dark reddish-brown, but it is still a beautiful church. After Mass we went to a place near the campground called Portofino’s, but it had an incredibly loud cover band playing. We did take a walk to a nearby beach with a little wooden boat for kids to play on and a lovely view of an island. There was a tiki bar, but it was shut. We then went to a place called Shipwreck Bay for dinner; the restaurant was inside and had a great view of the lake, but if you wanted to sit outside, you would have had to endure an even louder cover band. I think I got some eardrum damage just from walking past them! When we returned to our campsite, we tried to start a fire but had no success. Everyone around us had a roaring fire, so we felt like total losers. Fortunately the Chicagoans at the next campsite included one outdoorsy type who could start a fire like a pro, and she gave us some pointers. There were supposed to be northern lights, so after our fire died down we walked down to the beach and looked toward the north. We saw some shimmering above us, but was it just clouds or the actual aurora borealis? By then it was nearly midnight, so we were too tired to stick around and figure it out.

Sunday morning we had breakfast at the Buckhorn Café on the outskirts of Buckhorn State Park, then we drove up to Black River Falls and stopped at the colorful café we had gone to the year before for some good coffee. We hiked at Castle Mound State Natural Area, and as always, I charged confidently up the rocks but then was a quivering mass of terror trying to get back down, so some people coming up offered me a walking stick. Surprisingly, that did help my fear a lot, just having a third point of support. Travalon went all the way up the observation tower, which I never could have gotten back down from. They would have had to send a helicopter or something. After that we cooled off in Wazee Lake, floating on our inflatable rafts out to a little island we had seen there last year, when we visited on a day too cool for swimming. We walked on the island and waded around it, then we drove to Mill Bluff State Park and Travalon floated on the pond, but he said it was very cold. I was too lazy to change back into my swimsuit and just watched him floating and a train speeding by on the other side of Highway 12. When we got back to Castle Rock Lake, Travalon floated on that too. By then it was kind of late, so instead of going all the way to the other side of the lake to a supper club, we just went to a pizza place down the road. In Mauston we had picked up stuff to make s’mores and stuff to make the fire colorful, so after we successfully started a fire following the Chicagoan’s instructions, we made s’mores and THEN (very important!) threw the color packets into the fire so that it had turquoise flames. Travalon made a really good video of it, but my phone didn’t show the contrast between the orange and the turquoise flames – it just made the whole fire look kind of whitish. As we enjoyed the colorful fire, we smoked the cigar we had brought back from Cuba, and it was wonderful.

Yesterday we got coffee in Mauston, then we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in New Lisbon before embarking on a real adventure. I had told Travalon tales of canoeing on the Kickapoo River years ago, and he wanted to try it, but things are different now. I’m not in my twenties, and the river flooded last year and is wilder now. In fact, it used to always be packed with people, but yesterday we saw hardly anyone else on it. We both fell out of the canoe at various points, and we kept getting stuck in shallow water. I have a bruise on my hand and a huge bruise on my calf, I wrenched my back when my paddle got stuck in some tree roots, and (Travalon said this is so funny I should blog about it, but it’s disgusting) when I started the canoe trip, I was wearing a female hygiene pad, but by the time I changed out of my wet clothes at Wildcat Mountain State Park, it had vanished. I feel very bad about that, thinking of someone finding it in the river, but that gives you an idea of how much I got tossed around! I could barely make the short walk to the Wildcat Mountain observation area, or the short hike to the ice caves. We drove on beautiful Highway 33 by all sorts of rock formations to Reedsburg, hoping to have a wonderful cream ale at the Corner Pub, but it was closed. We did have a delicious dinner of Rtiz-encrusted walleye at Marty’s Steakhouse at the Voyageur hotel/convention center. At first we were the only ones in the restaurant, and the creepiness factor was enhanced by five different clocks suddenly ringing in the hour in different ways, but soon more people arrived. After that we just went home, and I iced my bruised calf and tried to stretch out my back.

Today besides the usual back-to-work blahs, I was in rough shape this morning. My back hurt so badly that I could barely get out of bed, my leg hurt so badly that I could barely walk, and weirdly my fingers were so swollen on my right hand that I couldn’t wear any rings. (My left hand, which is not bruised, did not have that problem, so I could wear my wedding band and engagement ring.) But as the day has gone on, I have been able to pop my back several times so it feels a lot better, and the bruise on my leg is getting better too. Still, I don’t remember ever feeling like this after a canoe trip back in the day!

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