Friday, December 26, 2014

Kansas City Venues

I was lucky to have two reasons to go to Kansas City, not including friends and family.  The first was the appearance of Chris Mann with the Kansas City Symphony.  My friend, Kristen Hart, called to see if I wanted to attend, and since Don was in China, I decided it would be awesome.  So I asked Linda Morgan to join us, as well as Kenneth and Melinda, and we had a lovely night.  We ate at the Blue Bird Bistro, which had delicious food, by the way, and then went to the Kauffman Center.  I did not know what to expect, but the Kauffman Center exceeded any thoughts I might have had about it.

A theater in the round, with comfy seats and no one further away than 100 feet (at least that is what we were told) from the stage, made for a wonderful concert.  Seeing Chris perform for the first time in awhile allowed us to see his maturation in terms of his stage presence.  His voice has always been magnificent, so that was not a surprise - just a joy!  The song he and his wife, Laura, wrote for the Alzheimer's Association caused several tears from our group, and the O Holy Night duet with the other woman who was singing brought more.  Her final song about growing up brought even more!

The next weekend we returned to KC to help Kenneth and Melinda set up the nursery, and Saturday night, we went to a KSU game at the Sprint Center.  The game seemed a little lackluster, but the Sprint Center was a great place to play.  Susan and Rick Gaskill and Doug Thompson joined us for dinner, the game, and then breakfast the next morning.  Susan managed to procure awesome seats for the game.  We were afraid they would be nosebleeds, but they were perfect!    The 'Cats won the game, which was the icing on the weekend.

When we left that Sunday morning, we headed to St. John to pick up the puppies - the ending of a fun weekend!


The puppy love was real.  I wanted one. And as badly as I knew it was stupid to get a puppy in the winter, I also knew cock-a-poos are hard to find (except in Wisconsin or in puppy mills in Missouri).  So when an ad appeared in the paper on the day Don returned from China, I at least had to mention it to him.  When I called about them, he even suggested that we could go meet the pups in Hutchinson.  I was surprised that he was on board.

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, we met in the parking lot of the McDonald's in Hutchinson, and in the back of the car there were three blonde fuzz balls.  One, clearly bigger than the other two, had loads of personality, but it was obvious he was into everything.  The other two just wanted to come be with me. Don fell for the big one pretty quickly; I was leaning toward the runt, but we committed to the big one as we thought he would have more personality.  We couldn't take them, however, as we were headed to Kansas City the next weekend with no way to take them with us.  So we would have to wait until the next Sunday to get them.

Sunday afternoon we left Kansas City and drove to St. John, Kansas, which is an hour west of Hutchinson.  Long drive but worth it.  Once we got there, Di immediately started stumping for the second puppy.  I looked at Don who was visibly caving.  I knew we would be going home with two puppies, and I didn't have to say a thing!

Monday, December 22, 2014

In the Blink of An Eye

How quickly things can change!

Two weeks ago, Don was in China, and we were planning a trip to Iceland in March with puppies to come in May.

On the Thursday of Don's trip in China, he received an email from Diana.  Unfortunately, he could not read it.  All he saw was a text from Kenneth saying, "Congratulations."  So he wrote me asking if Diana had gotten engaged.  Indeed she had.

On the Saturday he arrived home, I found an ad in the paper for some Cockapoo puppies.  He agreed that we would go see them on Sunday, the 14th.  Cute, Cute, Cute.  We committed to buy one of them, but we couldn't get him until the 21st.

So within just a few days, our daughter became engaged, we had committed to a puppy, and the trip to Iceland?  Well, just say it is on hold for now!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Going Gray

Several years ago, my friend who cuts my hair suggested that I quit coloring it.  I didn't like the idea, but she thought it was time, so when we went to Alaska, I did.  By the time we returned, the color was nearly gone, and I was almost all gray.

I did not ever want to be THAT woman:  the one with coal black hair on a sallow complexion.  I decided that going gray was better than that.  I have been surprised by how many people tell me that they like my gray, though I am still not wild about it.

This last weekend, however, I think I figured it out.  I have a friend who had been coloring her hair, but when she became ill, she quit.  Her hair is now its natural gray, and she looks lovely.  As a matter of fact, she looks younger than she did.  And though her hair is thinning, now that it is gray the thinning is not nearly as noticeable.

So I have decided there are worse things than having gray hair.  Embrace it, Karen, embrace it.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Balloon Merlot

One of the exciting parts of having a new addition to the family is deciding what to name the baby.  Kenneth and Melinda are keeping silent on the baby's name, but we have been sending them some great ideas.

For example, before we knew the baby was a boy, we thought perhaps Janey Sue would be nice since it would be using both grandma's middle names.  Or Leroy Ira, if he is a boy?  How about Horton?  Horton Norton.  And then there's Herkimer.  And on and on.

On Saturday night, we celebrated Melinda's father's 70th birthday, and while there we were discussing some of the odd names that we have heard people name their children.  Kenneth commented that sometimes it seems as if the parents just pick a word because they happen to be looking at something.  I chimed in, "You mean like balloon?"  I was looking at Chuck's birthday balloons when I said it.

"Sure, or Merlot," answered Kenneth, holding up his wine glass.  And there we have the baby's name:  Balloon Merlot Norton.  We could call him B. M. for short . . . or not.

I can't wait to meet little Balloon and find out what his real name will be.  Until then . . . Balloon Merlot it is!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Earthquakes, Barley, and Soup

Today was one of those odd November days that do not occur very often.  As in never.  The temperature this morning was 18 with a wind chill of 1.  That is degrees fahrenheit.  Brrr.  Bravely, Kathy Dunlavy and I set out for our morning walk, and surprisingly, it was not nearly as cold as either of us had anticipated.  I wore my Russian hat from London, which was the perfect thing, and Kathy was wearing her Eskimo coat, so we looked appropriately warm.

I decided that the perfect thing to ease the cold would be to make soup for tonight's dinner.  I pulled out my soup book, which I rarely use, and found something that sounded good - Mushroom Barley.  The purple barley I purchased in Oregon has been sitting in the cabinet awaiting a good recipe, so I pulled it off the shelf to use.  What I did not realize was it needed to cook considerably longer than pearl barley - in the neighborhood of an hour longer - so the soup was a little crunchy.  The taste was good, though, and I will try it again.  Best news is that it was so filling, we did not even eat the chicken I bought.  That means I will be able to make Chicken Curry soup tomorrow night.  Yum!

While I was making the soup, I suddenly heard a large bang.  I thought someone had run into the house, but there was no sign of anyone around.  It occurred to me that it might have been an earthquake, and sure enough, it was.  The neighbors both felt shaking at their homes, but for me, it was definitely like a sonic boom.  Don says it must have been something in the house - a truss, a wall, or something else - but we have yet to find it.  I am hoping it was just an anomaly!

Then the cleaning bug hit again, and Don and I hit the refrigerator.  I am not real good about keeping the refrig clean, and this was a great opportunity to do so.  Needless to say, I have a lot of empty shelves now.  Hallelujah!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Maltese Falcon

This year's Wichita Big Read book is The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  Having never read it, I thought it would be a fun read.

Although the mystery itself was intriguing, I found some of the details of the book a bit too much.  Some books pass the test of time, but I am not certain this one does.

I found the first page almost unreadable.  After having read several beautifully-written books, it was hard to go back to sentence after sentence of "Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony . . . " "His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal.  The V motif was picked up again . . . " "She was a lanky . . . "  Diana had beaten "She was . . . " "He was . . . " out of me . . . and now here is a very famous book that uses the passive tense every other sentence.

Despite that, I continued to read.  The dated nature of the book added humor to the reading.  I could have lived without the paragraphs on how to roll a cigarette, for example, but the descriptions of the office with the tapping of the typewriters and the sound of the paper coming out of it sparked memories for me.

Since Sam Spade was the first of the woman-courting, mystery-solving detectives, perhaps I need to give him some credit.  I know it was a sign of the times, but the condescending, patronizing manner in which he treated all of the women affected me.  I found myself reacting quite negatively to it, even though I know books like this are prone to hyperbole.  Still, it was a sign of the way women were viewed in the 40s and 50s . . . not a positive trait of that era.

I am looking forward to our book club discussion about The Maltese Falcon to see what the other women's reaction to it is.  One thing I know for sure:  mystery novels have improved over time!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Straight No Chaser

Several years ago I saw a PBS special featuring an a capella group, Straight No Chaser.  We so enjoyed the special that we made arrangements to go see them when they were in Arkansas City.  Unfortunately, a snow storm kept them from making their concert and we were unable to attend the alternate one.

Several weeks ago I noticed they would be here on October 30, and we decided to attend.  It was a great performance!

To strictly sing a capella is not an easy task, but this group has it mastered.  Not only do they sing perfectly pitched, they also use their voices for percussion.  At times it was hard to remember that they are unaccompanied.  Don and I enjoyed trying to figure out which singer was the "percussionist" per song!

This group is a multi-talented collection of men who went to Indiana University, but now live throughout the country and practice via Skype.  How that works I cannot imagine.  How does one plan choreography in a conference call?   Somehow it works, as they are in perfect sync, both chorally and choreographically.

We had a great night with Straight No Chaser.  See them when they are at a theater near you!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Cleaning Bug

I have been waiting for the cleaning bug to hit me.  It used to bite at least once a year, but lately, it has taken a few years off.  Unlike most bugs, I usually feel better after a bout with it.  And finally Friday night, it suddenly struck.

And in an instant, all of the items I have held onto for years because I just couldn't stand to part with them are not that important.  I have even decided to part with my wedding pottery.  I still like it, but so many pieces have been broken, I can only put together a few full place settings.  Upon checking eBay, I discovered that they might sell for some nice money.  So . . . why not?  Christmas is coming :)

Some of my cabinets are more organized than they have ever been.  The problem is it takes a long time to go through them, but I am hoping the bug sticks around.  Our "tepee full of crap" will be much nicer because of it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Colors of the Pecos

We were lucky to catch the leaves in their full splendor.  Rather than tell about it, I will show you!

What a difference blue sky makes!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Balloon Festival

The Albuquerque Balloon Festival began the year I left for KSU, and I had never seen it until the fall my mom was dying.  But Don had never had the opportunity.  For that reason we left the cabin for 24 hours to partake in the festivities.

But before we could go to the Festival, we were up early to get a view of the Blood Moon and the full lunar eclipse.  It was slightly hazy in Albuquerque so Don's pictures were not nearly as crisp as he would have liked.  Once I get them downloaded, one will go here . . . but that could be awhile!

Then an hour later we were on our way to watch the mass ascension of balloons.  Since it was windy, they had to delay the start of the event, but within an hour, up launched the first balloon.  Unfortunately, the skies clouded over, which affected the colors of the balloons, but we still got a few shots that were pretty.

The first balloons at dawn, one lit up by its burner

Some balloons had rather interesting shapes

Wouldn't it have been pretty if the sky had been blue?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Roads to Quoz

When Diana gave her father the book, Roads to Quoz, by William Least Heat-Moon, her thinking was that it would be a good book to read as he was preparing to enter retirement (some four years ago, or so).  At the time, neither of us had time to read it, so it sat on the shelf.  I knew someday I would pick it up . . . and I did, just before our trip to the cabin.

Having never read anything by William Least Heat-Moon, but knowing he was a good writer, I did not know what to expect, but I assumed it would be good.

My first thought as I began the book was how I wished I could write like he does.  He uses a wide spectrum of vocabulary, from edification, vagaries and vagrant (all within the same sentence) to every "q" word you could possibly think of (Quinquagesima, quintessences, quisquilious and quidnunc, for example).  Then he connects those words in a poetic, rhythmic way that makes reading such a long book a pleasure.

No, this is not a fast read.  But then, I don't think it is supposed to be.  The subtitle is "An American Mosey," which is how it is intended to be read.  Basically, he writes about several trips he has taken through various parts of the United States, detailing some of the stories he was told during his travels.  He has learned the art of storytelling well, and if one likes reading about the oddities and vagaries of small-town America, this is the book for you.

Although the book is long, it could be read in sections, but I found it enjoyable just to sit down, read a bit, fix some tea, and read some more.  And within a week, I had finished its 550+ pages.  Highly recommended for those who love beautiful words put together to tell a story.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Our tailgate group has become quite the extended family.  And we are extending even more. We have three of the next generation with one more due in February.  And now we have a wedding!  In typical style, I thought it would be fun to have a shower for the bride and groom, and the only day we knew would work was Octoberfest day.  So we had quite the celebration!

The instructions to everyone were to bring something purple and a recipe.  We wanted Victoria and Kip to wear a dirndl and lederhosen, respectively, but we knew that would be out of the question.  So when we were at the Leinenkugel brewery and saw t-shirts that looked like a dirndl and lederhosen, we had to buy them.

Then it occurred to me that Willie needed in on the action.  I arranged for him to drop by, which he did, and he took the obligatory photo with the bride and groom, her family, and others.

When Anne arrived, she brought along a lovely purple veil for Victoria to wear, which she very sportingly did.  Kip wore his gray Leinenkugel German Octoberfest hat, which I hope he keeps for future Octobfest tailgates.

We brought the steins for the beer that we purchased in Wisconsin, most of which came from New Glarus.  Kip received a six-pack of Totally Naked, Victoria's favorite brew, though we also had Two Women, Spotted Cow, Staghorn, and others for those who thought Totally Naked was a bit risqué!

The only thing missing was the Octoberfest music (I had it but forgot to play it) and Kenneth in his lederhosen.  He said they are a pain, but I think the pain is in his waist where they are probably a little tight.  Anyway, Don had his Austrian hat to set the mood.

As guests ate their brahts, bierocks, German potato salad, fruit salad, apple or pumpkin cakes, and Reuben roll-up appetizers and a kielbasa dip, Victoria and Kip opened their gifts of purple KSU plates and napkins, a KSU rug, a car flag, a purple New Glarus fleece, two coffee mugs, a candle with a purple glass holder, and several items I did not see.

The day was capped off with a big Wildcat win.  What a great day for all of us!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

This is not a book I would have picked up to read.  Not that it sounds awful, it just did not sound like something I would actually enjoy.  But since it was a book club book, I HAD to read it.  And so . . .

I asked Ginny if I could borrow her library book, as she had already finished it.  After picking it up on Monday, I read the first chapter.  Huh.  It began with a commentary on an obscure book by a famous author, written by A. J. Fikry.  Then it launched into an introduction to A. J.  By the end of the chapter, I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Avid reader I am not.  Fast reader I am not.  But give me an intriguing book and I can be both! And that is exactly what A. J. Fikry was.  Every chance I got, I picked it up, and by Wednesday afternoon, done.

And it has stuck with me.  I have not returned the library book yet, and I have found myself returning to look at who wrote the obscure books, or whether the tone of the book reviews changed, or how the people changed . . .

This book was a fun, well-written book with just enough mystery to keep me interested.  I can't wait to discuss it at book club.  It will be fun to see if everyone else liked it as much as I did.

Friday, September 26, 2014


The older I get, the more often I see connections between actions, thoughts, and happenings.  So, here is my most recent "coincidence."

Wen I was young, my mother purchased a book of nine short stories by J. D. Salinger.  For some reason I was always intrigued by the book;  I guess I thought it was something I "should" read but never did.  But I kept the book, and earlier this spring I set it out as something to read in the near future.

A few weeks ago, while cleaning our bedroom, I put the book back on the shelf, since I still had not read it.  Epic fail.

Fast forward to our October book club book.  I had finished The Count of Monte Cristo and decided to pick up the next book, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.  I had heard it was a fast read.

The first page of the story involved a review of an obscure book in A. J. Fikry's store.  From then on, every chapter began with another review of a different obscure book, though I did recognize one or two of the titles.  Toward the end of the book, one chapter began with a review of "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," by J. D. Salinger.  I did not think anything about it because I was loving reading about A. J. Fikry's storied life and could not wait to see what happened.  And I assumed the Salinger piece was a book.

A day later, however, it occurred to me that maybe the Salinger review was not a book but perhaps a short story.  I pulled out my mom's book, and guess what the first short story is?  Yep.  "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."  I think it is a sign.  Needless to say, I now have to read at least the first of the nine short stories.

Ready, set, go!

Grammar Nazis

There are grammar Nazis and there are grammar Nazis. Most grammar Nazis notice an error and they might comment on it but that is it.  If the error is on a sign, it might be mentioned to the person who made the sign if it is easily changed.

But I have never seen this.

The above picture is from our book club book, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.  It is a library book from the Wichita Public Library.  Someone obviously was quite unhappy with the author's use of brought versus taken.  This grammar Nazi made one other correction in the use of lie and lay, and although the correction is accurate, it was unnecessary to write in a library book.

There are grammar Nazis and there are grammar Nazis.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heartbreak Hotel

Maybe that should be the new name for the Willie.  It seems as if the Willie goes to all of the big football games that we don't win.  The Auburn game was the most recent.

Never have we heard so much noise as we did during the game.  I am grateful I had my earplugs in - I would have hated being there otherwise.

I was already losing my voice because of a cold, but the game put the finishing touches on it.  By Sunday, I only sounded a little like Lauren Bacall, but Friday was pretty grim.

The 'Cats had every opportunity to win but did not.  Between the surprise, being back with our tailgate friends, and good food, however, all was not lost, and by the time we returned home Friday night, we were able to put it all in perspective.

This trip was a great one, except for one thing.  My intrepid little traveling buddy was not by my side, and I missed her.  Although she has been gone a month, I still look for her when I come home.  I  know when we get a puppy that will help, but it probably will not be until the spring that we do that.  Until then, I just have remember the fun we had with her and be grateful we had her for 17 years.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Auburn Surprises

K-State fans had been waiting a long time for September 18 to arrive.  The biggest football game in several years was to be played that evening, and we were going to have a lot of fun!  The whole tailgate group would be together, Don's dad was going to attend . . . what was there not to love.

The Nortons, however, were even more excited.  We had been keeping a secret for a long time - since we were in Portland in early August.  And today was the time for the final reveal, since Grandpa Moo was in the house.

Kenneth approached Grandpa Moo, and after greeting him, said, "Grandpa, how would you feel about being a great-grandpa?"

Grandpa opened his mouth, stopped for a second, and then, in his slow drawl, said, "Well, I guess that would be all right."  I think he was very surprised, as he had just been saying how he needed to just keep his mouth shut about whether Kenneth and Melinda would ever have kids!  Then he gave both of the kids a hug . . . and a big smile.

We had gone to dinner with the kids in Portland, which is when they surprised us with a dessert and the message, "Congratulations, Grandma and Grandpa."  But we were sworn to secrecy, as they wanted to tell Di in person . . . and they wouldn't see her until the Green Bay trip . . . and Grandpa . . . and they wouldn't see him until the Auburn game.  So we waited and waited.  And I made a big deal over the babies at the tailgate, moaning that I didn't think I would ever get a grandbaby!  One of Kenneth's friends noticed what I was saying and privately told Kenneth, "She can't be saying that!"  Of course, Kenneth just laughed to himself, because he knew what I was doing.  Deflection is effective when one cannot tell a secret.

Well, finally we can tell.  It is going to be a fun five months watching Melinda and Kenneth as they prepare for their sniglet to join them.  We are excited for them and their next adventure.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nelson's Landing

It seemed like the natural ending to our road trip was a dinner in Leonardville, KS, at the restaurant of Jordy Nelson's parents - Nelson's Landing.  We invited our nephew Zach and his friends, though only one, Hannah, could join us.

The 30-minute drive gave us the opportunity to talk about classes, activities, Homecoming, and all sorts of things KSU.

When we walked in, we noticed that appreciably more Green Bay Packer memorabilia had been added to the display cases, and a life-sized Jordy picture now hangs on the wall.  We said something about being in Green Bay, and a woman chimed in that she had been there, too.

"Are you Mrs. Nelson?" I asked.

"Yes I am," she replied.

That is when I told her we would like her to sign our Green Bay pennant.  She looked at me askance, not certain she had heard correctly.  But when I explained that without her we would not have Jordy, and now she could tell him that she was being asked for autographs, too, she consented, and within minutes, we had two signed pennants.

As we were seated, we ordered our pies, as we knew they were the first to go.  Peach, blueberry, coconut cream, and chocolate peanut butter - four different kinds.  Then we ordered our dinners.  Because there was a large party in the other room, the dinners took longer to get to the table, but that was ok.  It gave us plenty of time to talk.  We were plenty hungry when the burgers, club sandwiches, and salads arrived, so it was pretty quiet for a few minutes.

Hannah had a Homecoming meeting at 9:00, and we barely got home in time.  But we made it.  Fun times in Leonardville.

Minnesota Family

One of the stops I knew we had to make was to see my cousin, Chris Gannaway, and his wife, Kim, in their beautiful new home in Cokato, Minnesota.  They had come to the cabin just before the 2013 fire, and after we had spent time with them, we knew we needed to go to their home . . . and this was the perfect opportunity.

It is never good when someone's address is not on GPS.  Luckily, Kim had given us great directions, and we arrived in time to partake in a delicious enchilada dinner.  Haven't had enchiladas like that in years!

I knew Kim was an excellent quilter, but I didn't know how excellent she is.  She even has her own laser-guided quilting machine!  I had no idea there was such a thing.  Her craft area is to die for.

The next morning, after a very tasty wild-rice egg casserole breakfast, complete with cranberry juice and muffins, we strolled outside to see the many gardens they have designed, the trees they have planted, the lake on which they boat.  It is obvious that both Chris and Kim have design talent, as everything they touch is gorgeous.  I can't wait to see the quilt garden they design.

We also got to meet Reilly, their Wheaton Terrier.  Ever since I heard about him, I wanted to see him.  What a cute dog!  He made me want a dog sooner than I know we should get one.

Before we left, Chris and Kim shared some raspberries from their raspberry bed.  Only a year old, it has yielded many, many berries.  Yum!

We had to leave for Manhappenin, but we didn't want to.  We had a wonderful time in Cokato, Minnesota!


One knows they are in Scandinavian country when they see gnomes and trolls everywhere.  I personally prefer the gnomes, as the trolls seem a little evil.  The gnomes appear to be guardians, looking for good.

As we drove in Wisconsin, we saw this guy.

He is a big guy, not exactly the garden variety gnome I am used to.  We saw them all over Wisconsin, and when we arrived in Minnesota we saw many more . . . Even a girl gnome.  I called her Helga!

Helga very regally guards the front door.

They are serious about their gnomes in this area.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lambeau Field

The driver for our trip to Wisconsin was a trip to Lambeau Field.  After all, as an NFL owner, I needed to inspect the building, check out the concessions, and make sure security was doing its job.  We had heard parking would be rather easy to find, and indeed it was . . . Cheaper than a KSU game.  W had to walk about a mile, but that was ok.  Lambeau is in the middle of neighborhoods, and it was an enjoyable trek through the tailgating that was going on.

We did not exactly know where we were going, so when we found our gate, we went inside.  I wish we had taken advantage of the Lambeau Leap statue and taken a picture of us.  But we did not know . . . 
And Don was anxious to get inside - never mind that we were over an hour and a half early.

Once inside, we considered going into the NFL store, but it was so crowded, we did not.  Instead, we found a mini-store where Don could buy his hat.  I wanted to buy a cheese coozie, but we did not need it, so I didn't.  We walked around the concourse a few times to work off the cookies and sandwiches, then proceeded to our seats.

We saw plenty of crazies inside - cheese heads, crazy hair, lots of beads . . . and frozen tundra!

We had made a sign that said, "We knew Jordy when . . . KSU" that got a lot of attention.  These fans love Jordy Nelson!

Our seats were near the tunnel where the players come out, and we were near where the players do the Lambeau Leap.  We only had one on our end, unfortunately.  

The pre-game, which included a former NFL player from Hawaii who sang the National Anthem, set the stage for a fun day, and the perfect weather did not hurt!  Unfortunately, the first play of the game was a fumble by the good guys, and before we knew it, the score was 21 -3.  Yikes!  But we did not give up, and the Pack began chipping away.  Our boy, Jordy, had the game of his life, and he and the rest of the team came back for a win!  Unfortunately, the kids left at half to get back to Chicago and missed the best part of the game.  Before they left, we took this picture in the concourse.

Just before they left us!
We sat in their seats . . . higher up so we could see the plays develop better.

Some things we noticed:  the bowl at Lambeau was very well done;  Packer fans do not stand for kick-offs (what is up with that? We do in KC);  Arrowhead is a much louder stadium;  fans should not be allowed to have beer in cups because they invariably spill it . . . all over their neighbors.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Lambeau, and now that I have inspected the facility and know that it is being taken care of, I do not have to check it every year.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fish Boil

When Don asked friends about what to do in Door County, one of the first items mentioned was a fish boil.  We did not know what it was, exactly, but Don did his research and made reservations at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek.

At 5:15, after trying to walk off all the calories we had consumed during the day, we checked in.  Patrons first were asked to go outside where they could get a drink and watch the boil.  The cook had started the potatoes, and then, about 20 minutes into it, he put some salt in and then the whitefish.  A little kerosene later, which caused the flame to roar, which caused the water to superboil, which caused the fat to boil over the side, and the food was done.

The buffet meal consisted of whitefish (all one could eat), potatoes, fresh breads, and cole slaw.  We were trained on how to debone our fish, and once we got that accomplished, it was "down the hatch!"  Afterward, we were treated to fresh cherry pie and ice cream.  Yum!

Eating Our Way Through Door County

We had been told the food in Door County was off the charts, so with Melinda's help, we targeted a few places to eat.  Before the kids arrived, we stopped in at the Town Hall Bakery.  We had not researched it, but we would have chosen it if we had.  We both had very interesting meals, but my sandwich won (or at least I thought so).  It was similar to the Lumberjack Sandwich, but instead of apples, they used pears.  Wonderful!  Another interesting thing about the restaurant was there was no way to heat the building.  Therefore, they shut down for the winter.

The next day, Don really wanted to eat at Al Johnson's, because they have goats grazing on their roof.

Since that restaurant did not score on Melinda's foodie scale, Don and I ate there Thursday night.  He had a traditional pork dinner, and I had Swedish pancakes with lingonberries.  They were delish!

The kids arrived on Friday, and our first meal together was at the Shoreline, a restaurant on the far north shore.  We all had some form of fish, and although I thought it was good, I felt like we could have gotten much of the food at other places.  But it was an enjoyable evening.  Good thing I did not know what was going to happen on Saturday.

We started out Saturday morning at Gramma's bakery, where we split a cinnamon roll and a caramel pecan roll.  Then at ten, we stopped at the Door County Ice Cream Factory, where we had some ice cream.  That was when we realized that Melinda wanted to try as many places as we could . . . And we literally ate our way through the Saturday.  By the end of the day, we had visited the Door County Creamery, where we ate their goat's mile ice cream (awesome), MacReady's in Egg Harbor that specialized in artisan bread (yummy!), two different orchards where we bought all sorts of foods, and the Chocolate Chicken coffee store, where Don bought a new flavor of coffee.  And we still needed to eat dinner at the fish boil.

On Sunday morning, we made one last stop at the Door County Bakery.  I had been told about Corsica Bread, and yes, it was outstanding, but the sandwiches and the cookies were, too.

Good thing we left Door County . . . It would be easy to put on a lot of pounds there.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lighthouse Summer

In April when we were planning our summer trips, I never dreamed lighthouses would be one of the themes.  And after we left Oregon, I thought we had left the lighthouses behind us.

Fast forward to September and Wisconsin.  When Don informed me there was a lighthouse just down the road from our RV park, we knew we had to go.  This afternoon, we visited the lighthouse near Fish Creek in Peninsula State Park.  We arrived just in time to catch the last tour.

The lighthouse was the first of 350 built after the Civil War, and it has been automated since the 1920's.  Its Fresnel lens is much smaller than those on the Oregon coast, but since it did not have to shine 26 miles into the ocean, it makes sense.  

The building itself is much more hospitable than any of those we saw in Oregon.  The elegance of the living quarters surprised us - wood floors, four wood stoves, three bedrooms, a parlor, a living room, a dining area, and they even had a piano in the living room. To get the piano to the building took a Herculean effort with many men dragging it up a steep hill from the lake below.  The only downside to the site is that it still does not have electricity.

Thre is a possibility we will see another lighthouse or two this weekend, but if not, that is ok.  We have enjoyed our lighthouse summer.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Wish I Were Cool

I said to Don today.  If I were cool, I would like the taste of beer and would be able to go into a bar and drink it with you.

If I were cool, I would like the taste of wine and would enjoy a glass of wine at lunch or at dinner.

I do enjoy being with my friends while they imbibe in their favorite beer or wine . . . So maybe that makes me almost cool.

And perhaps it scares my friends and family to think what I would be like if I did enjoy adult beverages. Yes, maybe it is better for me not to be cool after all.

I Had a Wooden Whistle

. . . and it wouldn't whistle,
No matter how I tried.
It was a fine wooden whistle
But it wouldn't whistle
So I sat right down and cried.

This little song came into my head when we were sitting near the lake at the University of Wisconsin.  Out of the blue, the loudest whistle I have ever heard began to bellow.  I had to cover my ears as it blew louder and louder.

Don said it was a steam whistle and he took a picture of it.

Dr. Google, bless her heart, enlightened us as to its function.  It is used to warn sailors of impending bad weather or of sundown, so they can get their boats off the lake.  

Dr. Google said it is tested once a week and they blow the whistle if bad conditions are due within an hour.  We had been informed that the bad weather was going south of us, so we attributed the 1:51 start time as a test. 

About an hour later, a sudden shower blew in and so did the winds.  It occurred to us when we took this picture of the DU house that perhaps the whistle blowers knew more than we did.  The picture is now an accurate reflection of how high the whitecaps were, but I would not have wanted to be on the water with this kind of choppiness!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The University of Wisconsin

Don and I spent about four hours walking around the University of Wisconsin.  Initially we had thought we would be able to have lunch with Amanda Rogers, a former TIS student who is making quite a name for herself in the international community.  Unfortunately, she has had many distractions lately and we were unable to connect. But just seeing where she works was fun.

We decided to go eat at the food court in the Student Union.  We had the choice of many food offerings, and Don chose German.  Imagine that.  Beer is served on campus, so he tried their Rathskellers blend, which he enjoyed.  But the best part of the lunch was its setting.

While we were sitting outside near the lake, I heard some music come on.  Looking up, I saw some people hanging on ropes from the roof of a nearby building.  I finally figured out that they were doing a dance while rappelling.  For now, pictures will have to do, but once I can get my video uploaded to youtube, I will.  Check back because it is a fun video to watch.

We took some time to visit the bookstore and the union, stopped at Starbucks, and then drove around to find the Kappa and DU houses.  That was easy, as we had driven by both on our way in.  The Kappa house is quite a stately building, and we do not know how the DUs get any studying done with their location on the lake (picture in next blog).  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the campus.

New Glarus

When we were planning our trip to Wisconsin, the Luhrs Ladies, particularly Victoria, told us we needed to go by New Glarus, a Swiss town not far from Madison.  Besides begin a quaint town, it is the home of the New Glarus brewery.  That's all Don needed to hear.

Finding the entrance to the brewery was somewhat challenging . . . So glad we had called ahead after we read we could not take the RV to the parking lot.  Don unhooked the Jeep and we were off.  As we entered the driveway, we saw this lovely quilt block on the side of the entrance barn.  There must be a quilt trail somewhere in the county.

The brewery just opened a large expansion in July.  Although we did not see what it was like before, the new additions impressed us.  As Don purchased his tasting glass, I headed to the self-guided tour.  I hope they put out a more information signs about brewing beer, as we would have enjoyed reading about it, but the tour was still quite interesting.  My mechanical engineer was enthralled with the first-class installation of the equipment.  

The engineer taking pictures of the equipment

After finishing the tour, we frequented the gift shop.  I had to put the brakes on Don, but we had enough money left to purchase a little of the New Glarus beer.  Their offerings include Totally Naked, Two Women, Spotted Cow, Staghorn (which is this year's Octoberfest beer), and Cabin Fever (which we tried to buy but couldn't because it is a winter beer).  Don's take on the three he tried was that they were delicious.  Not one was "out in left field."  I think that speaks well for the New Glarus Brewery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Mississippi and Hannibal

Although Don has seen the Mississippi, I never had (except for in an airplane), so I was looking forward to our trip to Hannibal, Missouri.

I had heard a lot about Hannibal when I studied Mark Twain.  I wish I had paid better attention to my teachers, as Mark Twain was quite an interesting character.

We spent quite some time going through the museum dedicated to Mark Twain, and I loved how the designers took excerpts from his writings and introduced us to the people or the situations that caused him to write about them.  Once I saw the Mississippi, I was amazed that any mother would let her children play near it . . . but it was a different time!

We tried to visit the museum dedicated to Jim, the freed slave in Huck Finn.  Unfortunately, it was closed, but I am glad the town has seen to it to have a museum dedicated to the African-American community.  It is about time.

Don took some time to emulate Tom Sawyer . . .

Since we had not eaten lunch, we went to the Mark Twain Brewery, a new bar in the area.  The food was good, but it was Don's flight of beer that was memorable.  Although they were all interesting, the one that he will always remember is the one with habanero chiles in it.  It was called Winnie Pepper Wheat.  Don had me taste it, and it reminded me of the first time I ate hot Chinese mustard.  Yikes!  Cleared those sinuses.  Don called this beer "one from left field" since it was so different from any other beer he had ever had.  It was not his favorite, but he appreciated that with the right meal, it would be good.

As we left Hannibal, we came upon this bridge.  As those of you who read my blog know, I am a sucker for bridges.  The whole construction of them fascinates me.  I wish I could have gotten a better picture of it, but this shows its long span and the intricacy of it.

We drove along the Mississippi for quite a ways and saw many other very interesting bridges.  I would like to spend more time in this area.  But that will be in another trip!

New Tailgaters

Probably the most rewarding part about our tailgating is watching young people turn into responsible adults turn into parents.  At one time, we were those responsible adults who turned into parents, and I am so enjoying watching the next generation do the same thing.

Last year, our first official "tailgate baby" joined the fray.  He was still a baby, but by the end of tailgate season, he was beginning to stand.  Hold on, because this year he is completely mobile!  He loves to play hide-and-seek around the bed in the RV, and he is most willing to engage in everything tailgate.

Two new tailgaters will be joining us this year.  One arrived at the first game.  She is nearly a year old, is all smiles, and loves to look in the mirror.  Despite the heat, she managed very well.  One thing we  did notice is that she was fascinated with the young man and kept trying to kiss him.  He was not impressed, but Mom and Dad are going to have to watch this little one - ha, ha!

We have yet to meet the third little one, but come Octoberfest, we hope he will be in attendance.  He is only about 6 months old, but I know he, too, will be a fun addition.

I am hesitant to name names on the net, so they will just be he and she on my blogs.  Those who know them will know to whom I am referring, and those who do not know them probably will not care so much about who they are as to how cute they are.

We do have one requirement . . . Parents must bring pictures that we can put on the microwave - sort of a Rogue's gallery.  This way, we can keep track of our little ones and their progress.

"Aren't we cute?"

"Can I give you a kiss?"
I love our new additions to our tailgate crew!