Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hybrid Goose at Horicon Marsh

I did a Google search for the mysterious goose at Horicon Marsh, and of course other people have seen it and documented it. There must be some sort of bird count they have there, because it was documented in May last year and again in November. Three different people documented it, and they called it a Canada goose/snow goose hybrid. It seems to have a mate (and my gut instinct is that it is the female, from the way they were acting), so maybe there will be some more hybrids in the future. Of course, the babies would be three-fourths Canada goose, so maybe they would look just like all the thousands of other Canada geese up at Horicon Marsh. My question is this: why are there no snow geese there? Or are there and I haven't seen them? Why is this particular goose hanging out with Canada geese instead of snow geese? (I can't seem to steal any of these better photographs of it off the website, so you'll just have to make do with the lousy one I posted on Sunday.) It sounds just like a Canada goose, and when it flies, its wings and tail are just like a Canada goose. Still, its head is more like a snow goose, so I wonder how it decided which species it was more comfortable with? Maybe she decided to hang out with her husband's family?

Famous Hat

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mysterious Vanishing Boardwalk

Last night, after I wrote, I took a list of my favorite salsa songs that I had found while cleaning, and I listened to the ones I didn't remember or hadn't heard in a while. (I compiled this list about a dozen years ago.) Some of them were so good! I was really dancing around to them, and that put me in such a good mood. Maybe all we need to get through this social isolation is some Latin music.

Today as soon as I got off work, Travalon and I went for a hike to find the mysterious boardwalk and gate that we had seen in the marsh further down the river. We kept seeing these little hearts in the woods.

We found a path that went beside the lake, and it had some stunning views.

One thing we did not find was a path that went to the mysterious boardwalk. I thought of going to the other side of the river, across from where we had seen it, but we couldn't see anything. So we went home, and I went out on the dock, and sure enough, there was no sign of it! I would think I was going crazy, but Travalon saw it too, and we looked at it through our binoculars. It looked like some sort of permanent structure, and now it has vanished! What a mystery!

Famous Hat

Sunday, March 29, 2020

White-Headed Goose

I hope my readers had as good a weekend as you could, considering the limited options. (People were posting a meme on social media that said: "I'm checking the map for weekend getaways," and then there was a floor plan of a house.) I spent Friday evening doing FaceTime with Tiffy. Saturday Travalon and I went for a hike at Castle Creek Conservancy, and nobody else was there so it was a good choice. We ordered lunch from Crema Cafe to give them some business, and while we were picking it up, we ran into our neighbor. She owns the glass fusing place, which is closed for now, and she was also ordering from Crema. She and I have gone on some walks together, staying on opposite sides of the road. Travalon and I also bought some fish from the seafood place at the far end of that little strip mall, then we went home and I cleaned some more. We took another walk in our neighborhood and noticed what looks like a boardwalk had suddenly appeared in the marsh across the river, so we took a ride and discovered trails that might go back to it. However, it was raining by then, so we will explore them another time. Travalon made the Arctic char for dinner - so delicious! I have been experimenting with Google Hangouts as maybe a good way for the Rosary Ladies to chat online, with the added bonus that then we can loop in Anna Banana II. Rich and I tried it last week, and we could see each other and he could hear me, but I couldn't hear him. Yesterday evening Jilly Moose had to work, and Anna Banana II was busy with her husband, but Rich, Luxuli, Prairie Man, and I tried Google Hangouts. This time nobody could hear me, but I could hear them, and we could all see each other. I tried it on another browser, and then it seemed to work. We also tried a multiple caller FaceTime session, and that didn't work at all. There was some weird sci-fi sounding feedback going on, and most of the time I couldn't see anyone. We'll get this worked out eventually...

Today Rich came over to watch the Mass again, which was at our church instead of the other one in our parish and had been taped last night so the audio was fine. They showed the video at the same time as our parish priest was celebrating Mass at the other church. Then Rich and Travalon made brunch again, and then Travalon and I went to Horicon Marsh for a hike. First we went to the part with the three-mile trail, but it was cold and blustery out, so we only went partway along it. We did see a lot of geese, including one that looked like a Canada goose on the bottom but a barnyard goose on the top. In this picture, you can see its white head and neck. I forgot to bring my good camera, so I couldn't zoom in and get a better picture. It appeared to have a mate that was a basic Canada goose. When they flew away, their wings and tails looked the same. The odd one seems to be a female, because later they came back, and then she seemed to be sitting on a nest.

We also walked out on the boardwalk in another part of the marsh, and we saw lots of muskrat lodges. This one was enormous! Travalon called it the Caesar's Palace of muskrat lodges. Some of the other lodges had geese sitting on top of them.

Then we came home and got Bellitalia takeout for dinner, because we're trying to support local restaurants, and also Travalon is tired of cooking. He has been doing almost all the cooking lately.

Here is a picture of my cuddly fleet sailing away. We can pretend we are sailing on them to a place where there is no corona virus!

Famous Hat

Friday, March 27, 2020

Online Meeting as a Plant

Yesterday was my first day back at work, and it was hard to sit in front of a computer all day after days of being outside. One thing that was good about having Wednesday off was that it allowed us to watch a Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation that was being shown live from the Holy Land. Today I used my lunch hour to watch a special blessing that the Pope gave to the whole world. That was so moving! This has been a very strange Lent, but it has been a very prayerful one for me.

Another thing about being under a sort of quarantine is that I am getting adept at using all these online conference applications. I keep forgetting when I'm at work that I'm logged into my work computer, which has no camera or microphone, so then I can't figure out why people can't see or hear me. After all, the laptop I use at home has both. Just today I was in an online meeting where I forgot this once again, and my avatar was a plant. Oops! Not the most professional. I could see and hear everyone else, but I had to type my comments. Still, it was very productive and they thought that I contributed a lot, especially for being a plant and all. One of them pointed out that my maiden name is actually a type of plant, so it was appropos.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Mecan Springs

Today Travalon, our Slow Food buddy, and I drove (in separate cars) to the middle of nowhere to take a very beautiful hike along the edge of a glacial basin with springs at the bottom. Here is a photo of a perfectly round little pond caused by a spring.

And here is a zoom in on it so you can see it a little better.

Here are a couple of shots from the top of the ridge on one side, looking toward the ridge on the other side.

When we got back to the trailhead, our buddy took this picture of us with the basin behind us.

Here is the same picture without us in it, so you can see the basin better.

And here we are! Trying to keep a proper social distance.

Then we went down to the boat landing at the bottom of the basin, and here are a couple of shots of the lake down there.

On the way home, Travalon and I stopped at the Rotary Club Park in Columbus. It has beautiful views of the Crawfish River.

It also has this mysterious, sad playground. The merry-go-round thing appears to be off of its axis and right in the middle of the swings, and we have no idea what the things are that look like some sort of molecular models. They don't turn.

Anyway, this was a fun vacation, if a little different than our planned one of taking the ferry to Grand Bahama and then riding a catamaran. Tomorrow it's back to work (from home) for me.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Schoenstatt Shrine

Today our governor issued some sort of "Stay at Home" order, but I'm not entirely clear on what it means. All non-essential businesses must close, so no more antiquing, but it seems that restaurants and, more importantly, coffee shops are essential businesses. So are car repair shops, so this morning Travalon was able to take his car into the shop. Right after lunch we did something that might have been illegal: we met up with Rich, Kathbert, and Pete the Sailor Man at Mr. Why's grave. We were supposed to do this on the First, which was the actual anniversary of his death, but we forgot, and then Rich went to Hawaii for ten days, and then we reset our clocks from Standard Time to Crazy Time, so it was only now when we all were able to get together. After that Travalon and I took a hike on the boardwalk on Lake Waubesa, since it is our understanding that we are still allowed to hike outside, as long as we stay six feet away from other people. From the boardwalk I could see a hill I had never noticed before, so I looked on the map and found it. It's called Liberty Mound, and it is just east of town, so we drove to it and then explored some back roads. Hard to believe that so close to an urban area there are places that are so back country! Since we were east of town, we stopped at the Shoenstatt Shrine, and it was open, so we prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet. Our church's adoration chapel is still open, so I went there for my regularly scheduled hour, and something was going on up in the church. I could hear the Mexican priest talking in Spanish. Private Masses are still allowed, so it must have been something like that. Anyway, here is a picture of the inside of the Schoenstatt Shrine:

And here is a big light-up rosary on the outside of the building next to the shrine!

Famous Hat

Monday, March 23, 2020

Cactus Hike and Cuddly Armada

Today Travalon and I met a friend from Slow Food to hike at the Nature Conservancy land near Spring Green where the prickly pears grow. We had a good hike - I got almost all my steps for the day! They had recently done a controlled burn, and you could see how many cacti there were with the other plants burned away. Here are some pictures.

There was also a lot of orange moss, and some that was green. This patch had both colors.

After we bid adieu to our friend, Travalon and I went to Mirror Lake for another short hike. We love that place! It is so beautiful.

When we got home, this cuddly sailboat Ma Hat made for me had arrived! Isn't it cute?

When I first asked Ma Hat if she could make the cuddly sailboat, she didn't respond right away, so I found a couple online made by people in this country, one in Florida and one in Ohio.

Now I have a whole cuddly armada!

Famous Hat

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Spring Break: Beaches and Islands!

I forgot to mention in my last post that the Pope had asked everyone to pray the Rosary at 9 pm Rome time, which was 3 pm here, and our parish priest said he would have a livestream of himself praying the Rosary so we could pray along with him. I could not figure out where the livestream was, so Travalon and I just prayed in our living room. I feel a little better because Richard Bonomo could not find the livestream either, and he is far more technologically advanced than I am.

The weather has been crazy. It rained all day Thursday, and out in Colorado my uncle had to deal with this:

Friday Travalon and I inadvertently went to our grocery co-op at the time they have now reserved for the elderly and immunocompromised. How did we manage to choose the one hour we weren't supposed to be there? This was a new policy, so we hadn't been aware of it. The day was sunny but cold, so we went to a park called Blackhawk Lake to hike. Here is a shot of the lake with a gorgeous bluff behind it.

And here is a closeup of the bluff.

There was a beach there, so I took a picture of Travalon and Michaela on it. Our Spring Break!

That evening I talked to Tiffy for a long time. She is used to working from home, since she does it a lot. Still, she is finding this social isolation as hard to do as the rest of us.

Yesterday Travalon, Michaela, and I drove to Wisconsin Dells and stopped at Travalon's favorite gas station, DinoStop:

We walked along the Wisconsin River in the Dells. Here you can see the beautiful rock formations.

Then we followed the river north. We stopped at Adams County Castle Rock Park, and so here is another beach picture, on Castle Rock Lake. (Please excuse my finger in the upper left corner!)

We drove to another park called Petenwell County Park, on the Petenwell Flowage. Here is a shot looking out over the flowage toward a peninsula.

And here are Travalon and Michaela on the beach! What is Spring Break for if not for beach-hopping?

And what would Spring Break be without islands? We stopped at the State Firemen's Memorial Park in Wisconsin Rapids, and looking to the left we could see a large island in the distance.

Looking to the right, we could see this cute little island.

Then we drove to another park in Stevens Point on the south end of another flowage, but I didn't take any pictures of that. We drove back down the west side of the river and found this beautiful park on the west side of the Petenwell Flowage, if you can stand another beach picture.

For some reason there were Christmas trees at random spots on the ice on the Petenwell Flowage. Here is a picture of one. I assume this is something ice fishermen do to make sure the ice is still strong enough to walk on. If the Christmas tree sinks, then don't go that way!

We did stop by Roche-a-Cri on our way home, and here is a shot of it in the twilight.

Today Prairie Man came to collect Michaela, so our partner in adventure is gone. Then Rich came over to help me find the livestream of the Mass our parish priest was saying, and we found it a few minutes in. The audio was terrible, so that our priest sounded like he had a robot voice, especially when he chanted. It was like a demonstration I once heard of what people with cochlear implants hear. I had the toughest time not laughing during the bells of consecration, which sounded even weirder. Then Rich and Travalon made brunch, and Travalon and I were going to go to Horicon Marsh for a hike, but partway there a funny sound in his car returned that he had fixed the day before with four quarts of oil, so we headed home. We took my car and joined Rich for a hike at the Nine Springs E-Way, a nature preserve managed by the sewage department. Maybe not as many birds as at Horicon, but we still saw lots of geese, some gulls, some ducks, and a pair of cranes. They say hiking is a good activity to engage in during this period of social isolation, so that part of life hasn't changed much for Travalon and me.

Famous Hat

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Vacation under Quarantine

Today was my first day of vacation. Vacation under quarantine: just like working under quarantine, except that I didn't have to look at my computer all day. But now my FitBit needs to be charged, so I had to boot up the computer anyway. I did sleep in, and eventually we went to Sauk and walked in the VFW Park, where we saw four eagles. We went to the dam, but it started to rain, so we just headed home. It rained all day, so I cleaned around the house. Guess what? The dust made my right eye turn red and painful! I took a picture to send to Rich, so if there is any demand for it, I could post it on this blog. After all, I have posted a photo of Rich's finger after he squished it in his garage door, and a photo of the earwig that was baked into a tamale I was eating. See? This is the danger involved in being at home! If I hadn't been home, I wouldn't have been cleaning, and then my eye would be fine.

The virus has hit home for us because someone from Travalon's organization got it, but we don't know if it's one of his coworkers because they can't say anything more for confidentiality reasons. Now we really don't know what will happen with his job.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Japanese Mongolian Food for St. Patrick's Day

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, and the anniversary of my baptism, but I couldn't go to Mass because the bishop has reluctantly canceled all public Masses until at least April. The adoration chapel is still open, and it was my regularly scheduled hour at six, so at least I was able to do that. After that, Travalon and I went to Richard Bonomo's house, because it was the birthday of the Japanese professor who always comes to visit. A Mongolian lady made fried rice and miso soup, and Rich made corned beef (but not cabbage) and a black magic birthday cake. Kathbert, Rich's housemate Jailbird Jones, and a Japanese undergrad were also there. I dressed for the occasion:

We are not allowed to have gatherings of more than ten people by order of the governor or the president or someone, but there were only eight of us, so we were good.

Today was kind of a crazy day. They finally fixed our front door, and that was very loud. We also had to empty out our bedroom closet so the chimney guys could get at the door into the crawl space, and then they were banging around in there for hours. Michaela was going kind of nuts, begging to go outside and then immediately turning around and begging to go inside. I can understand - it was very disorienting with all that loud banging and sawing! But that should be the end of it, and things calmed down at work so I should be able to take a week of staycation with no issues.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Working from Home for Now...

Day Two of working from home, and it went so smoothly that I was starting to see why people prefer doing it. Instead of sitting at the kitchen table, I just relaxed in my easy chair and put my headphones on. Since I could access my office computer, it was much easier to get work done. My coworkers and I had a couple of teleconferences just to test it out, and that really highlighted how not technologically advanced I am. I had to use my phone, which is annoying because now the app is on my phone for the video chat, and every time someone posts a comment, my phone pings. I hope I can shut it up while I'm on vacation...

Good thing I'm adapting to working from home, because the Chancellor emailed today to say we would be doing this for the rest of the semester. We all joked about how dogs and cats and kids are trying to distract us, and we showed them off. Now I'm glad I got my work plants, because the powers that be are putting our building on lockdown, although I believe all of us who had access after hours can still get in using our cards. They are worried about other people coming in while nobody is there to stop them, which is a real concern because my boss did go into the office yesterday, and she ran into some random people in the elevator who could not explain what they were doing there. Interesting times we're living in... Ever since I was a kid, I always thought there would be something major about the year 2020, and recently I had been telling Travalon that I felt like something bad was going to happen to a lot of people this year, and now this has happened. Weird.

Famous Hat

Monday, March 16, 2020

Working from Home

Today was my first time ever working from home, and I didn't have much of a setup. I sat at the kitchen table, and after eight hours of that I really missed my comfortable office chair! We had to log into our instant messaging app right at our starting time, but I was having trouble. When I finally got in, I saw my boss had said, "Famous Hat will be joining us soon," so I said, "Famous Hat the Luddite has finally figured it out." My computer is old and much slower than the one at work, and I couldn't figure out how to do certain things on it, but finally the support guys got back to me and showed me how to log into my work computer from my home computer. Is that ever cool!

The first hour or so I was very cranky because nothing was working right, so Travalon left for a while. Then the dog wanted to go on a walk, so I asked my boss if that was okay, and she said, "Of course - you're allowed to take breaks." That actually cleared my head, as we walked along outside and heard lots of cranes and other birds. No whooping cranes, though. It is actually easier to get my steps working from home, so hopefully things aren't so smooth tomorrow that I never want to go back to working in my office! Just to be on the safe side, since we have no idea how long this will go on, Travalon and I went and got all the plants out of my office. When I'm not there, they don't get much light because the overhead light isn't on.

Travalon doesn't have to work at all, and he's getting paid. We were going to take a vacation to the Bahamas next week, but that seems unwise, given the current situation, so we thought about going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Even that might be inadvisable, the way things change every day with this pandemic, so maybe we'll just take some day trips like it's a long weekend.

Famous Hat

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Lake Wisconsin and Horicon Marsh

I hope my readers had a good weekend. I am going to have a very strange work week, because I am supposed to work from home. Travalon will also be home, but he is basically getting a paid vacation, or staycation is more like it. And the dog is here too, so I won't be lonely tomorrow, but I may be very distracted!

Yesterday morning Travalon and I met Rich and Jilly Moose for coffee at our usual spot. State Street was almost completely empty, and the coffee shop was pretty empty too. It was kind of eerie. Then Jilly Moose and I prayed a Padre Pio chaplet to end the pandemic, and a rosary. (I got Padre Pio chaplets for all the Rosary Ladies but still need to get them to Luxuli and Anna Banana II.) Then Rich, Travalon, and I met OK Cap at Hubbard Avenue Diner for Pi Day. I had a slice of key lime pie, Travalon had a slice of mint Oreo pie, Rich had a slice of Mississippi mud pie, and OK Cap had a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie. The place was packed!

After that, Travalon and I went home and took Michaela out for a walk. She saw the golden squirrel running along the top of the fence and ran after it. Travalon said I should have made a video, but it happened too quickly. I did take a picture of the golden squirrel sitting on a telephone pole. You can see his golden tail, just the same color and fluffiness as Michaela's. It's like they are twins of different species.

The three of us drove to Sauk, where we saw seven eagles and walked in the VFW Park. We also stopped into an antique store downtown because there was a Mobile Pegasus sign in the window, and I ended up buying some rosaries and some necklaces that possibly I can make into rosaries. We drove up the north side of the lake and then down the south side, where we stopped at a park on Tipperary Road and took some pictures of the sunset. I couldn't decide which of these two to post, so I am posting both of them.

Looking the other direction, we saw the sunset lighting up a bluff.

This is a view from the causeway that leads to the Thirsty Moose Tavern.

We stopped by the bar from which you can see the two little islands, and this is a view of the sun setting behind the larger island.

When I zoomed in on it, it suddenly looked very purple.

Here are some photos of the rosaries I got. In this first photo, the chaplet on the left is the Sacred Heart chaplet I found in the Holy Redeemer Library in February of 2011, and I pray it every night. I found this "sister" rosary at the antique store.

I didn't get this rosary at the antique store, but in the Holy Redeemer library some time ago, and it looks just like the one the grad student had, even down to the lavender starting beads. If you look closely, this one is missing the Our Father bead between the decade that is red and white and the decade that is black and white. As far as I know, the grad student's rosary is not missing this bead.

These are the other two rosaries I bought at the antique store. The one on the left was the only one that cost more than $3, and it is our wedding color of coral, although it looks more orange in this photo. I realized I didn't have a rosary in our wedding color. The one on the right is a sweet little pink plastic rosary that may have been a little girl's First Communion gift, and I was intrigued by the centerpiece.

The bishop has removed the obligation from Mass in our diocese, but at least we still are having Mass - in places like Seattle and Boston, they aren't having them at all! I planned to go this morning; I slept late, and Michaela got me up, but then she wanted to go on a very long walk. I heard what I am sure were whooping cranes nearby, besides the sandhill cranes sounding off as usual. I wasn't going to wake Travalon up, but he got up and we went to Mass late, but just in time for me to sing with the choir. Afterwards we went to brunch at Tutto Pasta with Rich and the other bass, and we talked to the owner about how hard this whole virus thing is on small businesses and people who work for hourly wages. Then I suggested to Travalon that we take Michaela and go to Horicon Marsh. We went to one part and walked on the boardwalk, then we went to a second part he had never been to, and some people told us that three whooping cranes had been spotted there earlier, but none of us saw anything but some Canada geese. Then we went to a third part and took a three-mile walk around part of the marsh, and we saw lots of geese and sandhill cranes. We also saw these two swans.

So it was a wonderful weekend... and then when we got home, my boss texted to say don't come to work. I'm going to have to try working on this slow, old computer. It ought to be interesting...

Famous Hat