Hey all. Cool camp trip to Kohler Andrea Park near Sheboygan. Made a four day weekend of it. The weather wasn't great, but the company and the scenery was. What a great park. If you camp at all, and have never been, I recommend it highly. It's like the "Hamptons of Wisconsin."
Almost. Except for the multi-million dollar mansions and the indoor plumbing. Gonna give it another shot next summer. We're bound to hit the weather right one of these years...kinda like the lottery I guess.
We were among the five thousand or so beer lovers at the "Great Taste" last weekend. All I can say is that it always is the coolest crowd. I mean there are all those people...and all those breweries, and everything comes off without a hitch. Hats off to the people at the Brewers Guild...nice job! Again.
Lizzy started her foray into higher education this week. And, yeah, it is different than high school...told ya.
Can't resist commenting on today's announcement from Mayor Dave's office that the push for trolleys downtown is effectively over. You know trolleys are cool...when the cities where you want to put them are big enough to support them. Too many people thought there were better ways to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, I guess. Wonder if his decision had anything to do with the hundreds of negative trolley comments during that southwest side resident meeting on the growing crime problem in the area. Either way, wrong city, wrong time. Man, summer is whipping by...closing in on Labor Day already...woo, that was quick. Later.
Wow...this summer has been a hot one to be sure. I won't even mention my lawn...forget about it. It seems I spend my evenings doing nothing else but watering deck plants. I refuse to give up, though. I don't have to tell you how much annuals cost so I will persevere. My hands are permanently wrinkled, though, and my Crocs are always squishy damp. People always can hear me coming.
The pond at the house is finished...finally...and is that thing cool! As my kids would say, "It's sic, dude." I have to say that it is pretty sic. At least I don't have to worry about watering the pond plants. Hope your summer is going well...make sure to get some R&R. You know there's a cruel irony about this time of year. It's hot so you shed as much clothing as the law will allow and then they tell you to have another brat, more potato salad...yikes. Hopefully I'll be able to see my shoe tops again sometime this fall!
Sometimes really hot weather isn't so bad. We took to the lake in the Chris Craft over the weekend and I gotta say, it was downright pleasant.
Had the boat worked on by Tim at the Boat Doctor and I gotta say thanks alot for getting me and "T" on the water this weekend, doctor. Much appreciated. Ran great...loads of fun. A tad windy Sunday, though...had to call it. We rafted up to the barge...floating restaurant that is anchored right after you go under the beltline just before you round the bend to Gilligan's. I had the barge burger and it was fantastic. Check 'em out when you can...yummy...and convenient. That is one of the best ideas somebody has had in a while...smart.
We're putting the pond in at the house this weekend. Spent the last several weekends digging the thing. Thought that would be easy enough....after all it's just a hole in the ground, right? Wrong! I could only use the skid steer for part of it....so much of the finishing touches had to be dug the old fashioned way....with a shovel. Never really liked a shovel all that much.....and when you throw hard pan clay into the equation....the chasm between me and the shovel broadened considerably. Anyway, once the hole was done, I figured the hardest part of the deal was done.....'till I went to pick up the liner, and found out it weighed four hundred thirty pounds! Any strong people out there looking for something to do for a couple of hours? Actually I found some guys. Lucked out.
Well, that was fun. Those summer holiday getaways never seem long enough, though. The new camper is pretty cool. The only disappointment was that the hot water heater didn't operate. That meant washing up the old fashioned way...at the campground shower house. Oh well, a trip to the camper dealer should take care of that problem before we hit the road again. Going to Mamma Mia this weekend at the Overture Center. Lots of us are going so it should be fun. We're thinking about going to the fondue place, The Melting Pot, afterward.
Never been, but I've heard good things. The online menu sounds yummy. Lizzy's graduation is coming up soon. She's sent out invites for her party that's later in June, so now I'm forced to finish the waterfall project at my house sooner than I first thought. It's going to be tight, but I think we'll make it. No promises. It's already June and the old Chris Craft still isn't set up for the season yet. Lots going on...gonna have to be soon, though...Terri's getting antsy. Later.
We have two of our big annual beds planted this year finally....no thanks to me. I went golfing.....and when I came back.....viola....there they were. Looks great. But now I'm feeling a bit guilty. Terri did all the work. I have to do what I can in the coming weeks to make up for it. Just when I figure I'm pulling even....she notes how much her wrist hurts from trowling so much....by herself....alone. This will take a while. getting ready for the first camping trip of the season. Looking forward to it. Like many people apparently, we're not going far. The gas is just outrageous...so we'll stay pretty close to home....heck I might just pull the camper behind the barn....and pretend it's a far away woods. Looking forward to it though. It's the beginning of a new camping era for us. Gone is the tent....gone is the pop up....we've moved up a tad. It's the travel trailer now. 27 feet of convenience. We'll see. Part of the fun of camping is the roughing part. Not much of that I can see with this new rig. Later...
I got in touch with my heritage last Sunday. Terri and I went to visit my second cousin Harold Bonner. We ate an an old-fashioned supper club near Walworth, The Bigfoot Inn. It was fantastic. Big variety without a big price...cool place. Harold, who is a very young 86, is a regular.
Everyone in the area seems to know "Doc" Bonner. You see, Harold was the local vet for years. After we ate, Harold took us to the Bonner Heritage Farm. It's the old farmstead where my Dad was born and raised for much of his childhood, before Grampa Bonner moved his brood to Dover Township. The main compound of the farm was donated by another of my second cousins to the Lake County Illinois Historical Society and is now open to the public for self guided tours. It's awesome! The signs on the paths basically chronicle the Bonner family and their farming experience in the area, dating back to the mid 1800's when my great great Grampa William bought and established the farm after immigrating from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It's all there. Harold told us that the big tree in the front of the 1800's farm house is the same one that he and my Dad played under on hot summer days when they were little guys! Amazing. The majority of the farm was sold off for development. Now where the corn and oats grew tall, there is a community of 3000 square foot impeccably landscaped homes. It's a little like "Field of Dreams" when you step onto the gravel pathways of the farm. It really is a step back in time. The farm and all the buildings are just as they were, save a few expansions, when William first started busting the Illinois prairie to start his farm and the Bonner legacy. It was a rare experience for sure and certainly humbling. It's a cool place. If you ever want to take the hour and a half drive to Milburn, Illinois, you could take a look. There's a big park across the parking lot complete with volleyball nets and grills for BBQ. Google it sometime...Bonner Heritage Farm.
In the recent past, I've kind of gotten away from watching American Idol. But Wednesday night, Criminal Minds was a re-run, so I tuned in. It was the "Idol Gives Back" fundraiser. Man! Was that cool! Annie Lennox, Josh Groban, Kelly Clarkson and Jeff Beck, for crying out loud. What a show! I may have to record Criminal Minds for awhile and get back to Idol. If you saw it, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, if you didn't, it was a doggone TV spectacular! Loaded with talent...and emotional...man! What a show...knocked me out.
Going to God's Country - LaCrosse - this weekend. Looking forward to it. Haven't been back in a while. Lived there for the better part of ten years before I came to Madison. Loved it there. The bluffs, the river, Third Street...man those were the days! I hope I run into some of the old gang when I'm there. Used to work at WIZM and the "Magic of the Mississippi" Z-93. Terri is meeting a bunch of her old Viterbo College buddies while she's there so it should be quite a weekend.
Finally got out on the golf course. Didn't go so bad. I figure if I can add my score with a calculator, it's okay. Played Tyranena in Lake Mills with my usual golfing pals....minus one. The fourth of our usual foursome is still in Albania serving in the Peace Corp. It's weird without him. This will be the second summer he's been gone. He's a good friend and we all miss him. The upside is that he'll be back next year. Where he goes after that is still really up in the air. Hope he can stay in the general area so we can have a complete foursome again...at least now and again.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the terrible events this week at Virginia Tech. I feel so bad for those families that lost the lights of their lives in such a senseless and violent way. Terri and I talked about it for a long time and both agree it would, at least for us, tough to ever smile again. The hurt must be overwhelming. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. God be with you.
On a lighter note, the Monona Grove production of "Into the Woods" is hilarious. Terri and her Mom and Dad and I went to see it last weekend and we laughed our butts off. Some really talented kids, I'll tell you. Lizzy plays Red Riding Hood's crazy gramma. What a hoot. I recommend it if you have some time this weekend. Friday night, Saturday afternoon and again Saturday night at Monona Grove High School. See ya there!
Went to Cloud 9 for my birthday dinner Saturday night. It's a relatively new restaraunt just off Cottage Grove Road near the "I". If you sit upstairs there is an awesome view of the Capitol and the downtown cityscape. The food is real yummy so the whole package is cool.
Hey! All is right with the world! Watched the season premier of my fave show "The Sopranos" Sunday. Cool beginning. Can't wait top see all those guys drop like flies...I mean, after all, this is the Waterloo season for Tony and the gang. Also getting back at it is the cast of Dexter. It's a cool show on Showtime. Unfortunately, it's also on Sunday nights at 8pm. Choices, choices.
I took Pat's advice and went to the El Dorado for Easter brunch. Yummy. I would highly recommend it for those of you looking for something outside the usual carved ham and roast beef and made-to-order omelet fare. It's all kind of southwestern and that spinach and feta cheese burrito I had was awesome. B.J. had the poached huevos with a real cool alternative to the standard Hollandaise sauce. It was really good.
And that mango mimosa...outrageous! Talked to Kevin Tubbs. Sounds like he's re-working his band a bit. If you've never had a chance to see him...go. Always a fun show. Later.
Ahh, that's more like it, isn't it. Don't you just love the feel of a nice wind chill on an April morning? Feels like...well I don't have to tell you what it feels like. Just more evidence how cruel a mistress Mother Nature truly is. But, alas, this too shall pass. Went to Miss Saigon at the Union Theater this past weekend. Great show. Our own Amy Abbott was in it. She was perfectly cast as a Vietnamese street walker. At first it was a bit disturbing...but I got next to the idea eventually and ultimately embraced it. I'll never look at Amy the same way again. All joking aside, it was a great evening. Didn't even hear the eerie wail of the tornado sirens I was told later sounded twice during the course of the performance.
I can't believe how incredibly stupid I can be. The other night I was winding down...just watching some TV and drinking a raspberry Snapple. After I finished, I was fiddling with the cap. Can't help it...I'm a fiddler...I come from a long line of fiddlers. Anyway, somehow an incredible suction was created between the cap and my lower lip and chin. Didn't think much of it when it happened only that, boy, that's quite a suction between that cap and my lower lip and chin. Well sure enough, when I pulled it off it left a mark. A perfect round bruise...a Snapple cap hickey if you will. Live and learn. Won't do that again soon. Now, much like Amy, I'll never look at a bottle of raspberry Snapple the same again. Hope it fades soon...the Snapple cap hickey and the vision of Amy Abbott as a lady of the night that I can't seem to get out of my head.
Brought our new camper home. Looks cool. The bed is actually pretty comfy, although it doesn't really matter. I never sleep better than when I'm out in the woods. Looking forward to many adventures this summer. Can't wait.
I don't know what it is, but lately I can't get enough of Lifetime TV. I know the network enjoys a predominantly female demo but I gotta tell ya, I dig those movies. They all seem to be very similar thematically but I seem to get all wrapped up in them. Last weekend, I watched two of them in a row. Can't a guy enjoy intensely emotional TV fare? I say yes. I know I can't be alone in this...other men...and you know who you are, are watching, too...that is, when no one is watching you.
I stepped back...quite literally...into the seventies the other day. I bought myself a cool pair of Frye Boots. I had the same kind when I was a kid - 1974. They were cool then and they still are cool now. At least I think so. I got 'em at the Shoe Box in Black Earth. Well worth the drive. They had a dizzying selection of boots, made out of just about any kind of skin you can imagine. Snake, ostrich, lizard, alligator...all kinds of stuff.
Awesome! I got a great deal on them to boot...pardon the pun. Nothing like those Fryes and a pair of jeans...that's the kind of stuff that'll keep ya young. They even seem to give me cover when I neglect to shave...now I don't look so scruffy...I just look ruggedly handsome...well, rugged anyway. Oh yeah...all the elements are in play. Out.
Got a new camper! Actually, had to get a new camper. The hail storm last August totalled the old pop-up, so it was that or forget camping. We thought about it. It was a crossroads for sure. Both of our kids are starting to have their own lives these days and going out to the woods with Mom and Dad for the weekend isn't as thrilling as it used to be. Fact is it's arguable that it ever was what one could call thrilling for them...but we always had loads fun. Still do. Anyway, there were other things we could have spent the money on...world travel, that Corvette convertible we always thought would be cool...tons of Aunt Annie's soft pretzels...all kinds of things. But alas, we decided that camping is still cool and if the kids don't always make it, c'est la vie. This thing is definitely a step up from the old Starcraft. It's got its own bathroom, so no more middle of the night strolls to the park bathroom with Terri. Not that I didn't enjoy those little walks but it will be a lot nicer when she can make the trip without a chaperone. Cool. Actually the thing has an oven and a microwave, a TV for those Badger Saturdays and a stereo, so the days of roughing it in the woods are fading - but I can live with that. Looking forward to some cool weekends this summer.
We went to "42nd Street" Sunday. It's being put on by the Verona Community Theater group. B.J. is in it. Good time. We all went out to eat at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse in Middleton afterward. I ate too much. Cool atmosphere, great food, great company. Going to one of Lizzy's last choir concerts tonight. Really winding down on this whole high school thing. Kinda sad, but kinda exciting at the same time.
This is the time of year when every weekend it seems - frigid chill or not - is filled with our kids' activities. It's actually a great mid-winter diversion. Doesn't allow cabin fever to set in...no time. Lizzy is knee-deep in show choir competitions all over the place and B.J. is running his behind off getting ready for the production of "42nd Street" being staged in Verona. He's been sick for weeks during rehearsals so I'm hoping by opening night he'll be back in good form. I dig it all. It not only gives me a chance to go watch my kids do what they really love doing but I also get to eat whatever I want at eateries in other cities with a minimum of guilt. I can justify ordering up carbohydrate laden mashed potatoes or stuffing. Yummy. Oh, and the shows are great, too.
Well, that was a pleasant surprise! I got off the air at the usual time Thursday and I got a call from Terri. She told me the snowmobile trails were open again! No way. So I hustled home and mounted up and took off by 10. It was perfect...well, there could be more snow but any port in a storm. The weather was beautiful. Twenty-ish...full-on sunshine...and not another snowmobile in sight. I pretty much was the first sled on the trails, at least on my way out. While I was making my way down to first Marshall...then Deerfield...then Lake Mills...and finally Sullivan, I saw all kinds of cool stuff. What I thought was a dog bounded across the field I was traveling across. When I got closer, I realized it looked like no dog I'd ever seen before. It was a coyote. I named him Wiley C., at least in my head. Awhile later I rounded a corner and eight HUGE turkeys took off in front of me. Those buggers are massive...geez. Also saw a couple of pheasants and some quail. Just another bonus round with snowmobiling. My obsession continues but you'll get no apologies from me. I have to say the conditions are marginal, but I think the trail people made the right call. With the arctic blast gripping us for the next week or so, today was sort of a last chance at running for a while. Thanks. And kudos to whoever is taking care of the Prairie Riders trail system. Whoever is running that groomer sure knows what's up. Not alot to work with out there guys, but you sure did make the best of it. The Prairie Rider stretch was the best I rode all day and that's 150 miles worth of riding.
Whoa, baby. Put another log on the fire! This is more like it. I know some would find it crazy but I don't mind the winter chill that's apparently set in. It must be some kind of a throw back gene thing. I like the way the icy cold air makes my skin tingle. I'm not kidding. Oh yeah, I'll get tired of it if it sticks too long but for now I'm cool. Super Bowl weekend. Not in the mood to run around too many places...supposed to be chilly. Maybe I'll just hunker down and watch the Bears...yikes. What are you gonna do?! It's the closest thing to our having a dog in that fight. "T" and I are about ready to get the "Seedling Corner" set up in the barn. It's where we propagate our flowers to put out in spring. We plant thousands of flowers every year and if we had to buy all of them already grown and ready for the ground, we'd have to take out a loan every spring. Besides, it's cool to go through the planting beds, plan them out and try to get at least some of the stuff we need started. It's a subtle reminder that spring is right around the corner...sorta.
Well, that was fun. We got to ride awhile this week. Between outings with B.J. and Lizzy, we logged about 250 miles on the snowmobiles. They say the weather is supposed to turn decidedly winter-like (temperatures) in the coming days, but Friday, albeit a wonderful warm day, will no doubt leave the trails crummy or closed. Bummer. I love to ride. It's really great. But I gotta say, the old back ain't what it once was. Man, after Tuesday's day-long outing, I was sore. But after Wednesday's ride with Liz, I was really hurting. It's worth it though, it's just good fun. Low-key weekend coming up. Plenty of time to recoup. Maybe T and I will catch a movie or something Saturday night and til then I'll just log some shop time. I'm working on a cool woodwork project. When it gets closer to completion, I'll tell you about it. Pretty ambitious; I hope I can pull it off. I may need to run to one of my favorite places, Home Depot, to grab a tool or two to make the job go easier. I have been angling for that 16 speed drill press, but I gotta clear it with headquarters before I pull the trigger if you know what I mean. Pat's gone the early part of next week, so it'll be Jimmy and me. That's always fun. Jim's one of the most talented guys in our building, but I don't have to tell you that.
Finally! Enough snow to hit the trails! Been a long time, but worth the wait. I literally dusted off the Ski Doos today and of course had to tinker a bit. Sitting around doing nothing for a long time might do a body good but it doesn't do much for machines. I really don't mind though, since some of my best memories involve tinkering on snowmobiles in the shop. I still dig it. I think I know why the infatuation with snowmobiles persists. It's because my first real feeling of independence came on at the controls of a sled. Heck, I was riding a snowmobile on my own by the time I was 10. I had logged thousands of miles (no kidding) by the time I was 15. It was apparently a different time. Now kids have to take a licensing course and everything. The most fun ever, though, was going on trail rides with my Uncle Cal. That was always cool. He would pull up to our house about nine in the morning with a bunch of other snowmobile buddies and my Mom would make a big breakfast for everybody.
Then I'd go outside and fire up the old Ski whiz and off we would go. Hither and yon, and lots of times we wouldn't get back to my house till after midnight. Man, that was fun. Don't often get the chance to go out on major rides anymore...there just doesn't seem to be snow anymore and I miss that, too. Really though, there's nothing like riding through a woods with a light snow falling...about twenty degrees. Enough to give you that little nip in your cheeks, but not too cold to be uncomfortable. Well...I'm gonna take advantage of this year's window of opportunity, before all the sleds hammer the trails into dirt. Don't try to call me after nine in the morning. I won't hear the phone ring over the hum of the rotax.
What the heck is up with Orville Redenbacher of Orville Redenbacher popcorn fame. I was watching TV last night and this commercial came on for Orville's corn. But Orville looked weird. The old popcorn magnate either had a face lift out of a "do it yourself" kit or they are trying to pawn off an imposter in a mask on us. I am leaning toward the latter. It creeped me out and I found myself giving the unsettling commercial undo thought, both the rest of evening and now again this morning. Has Orville retired? Has he passed on to the big corn popper in the sky? Have ungrateful, power hungry family members undertaken a secret coup and tied up the real Orville in a dank basement somewhere, sustaining him on a competitor's corn and water?! Oh the horror! Really, though, if Orville can't do the commercials anymore why try to pass off a bad imitation? It's just scary.
I've just been told that the real Orville died in 1995. This makes this even more of an abomination! It's over! Create a new campign for crying out loud or at least just run the ads with the real Orville! Don't give us this computer generated Clutch Cargo mouth moving imitation. Please!
WOW! That's about the only way to sum up the 18 show choirs I saw at Monona Grove High School's 5th annual Silver Stage Invitational. Kids from four states (Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin) came through some pretty tough conditions in some cases to get here, but man, did they come to play! Unbelievable amount of talent. I mean it. It's often hard to believe that these are high school kids. Congrats to all who took part...well done. And big congratulations to all the students and parents that volunteered their time...hours and hours of time getting ready for the event and pulling it off. Amazing. Cool stuff. Hopefully next year they'll actually find an emcee that can read the cards...oops! Thanks for letting me be a part of this cool event over the years. It was certainly a pleasure.
First off, congrats Bucky on the big win over Ohio State! Man, if there were any doubt about how good that team is, it must be dispelled now.
They look great. And deep. Baby, it's going on!
Getting ready for the annual all day Monona Grove Show Choir competition on Saturday. I've done this ever since B.J. was in school and have continued to do the emcee work all the way through Lizzy's career. End of an era. Lizzy graduates this year and I assume that'll be it. It's been a blast, though. If you get a chance stop by Monona Grove High School Saturday, you'll see loads of talented kids from all over the Midwest.
Went to the "Fireside" in Fort over the weekend for their "Hollywood Sings" show. Cool deal. The meal was knock down good as usual...and the show was loads of fun. When the singers started in on the Beatles portion of the show, the audience got into it, singing along and all. Fun!
On Sunday, I took down the last of the Christmas decorations I put up. Stuffed the inflatable snowman and penguin back into their boxes and wound up all the strings of lights. Lots more fun putting them up, I'll tell ya. I hate taking everything down...it always looks so much less festive.
Bummer. Still waiting on the snow this year and my snowmobiles just sit there collecting dust...maybe I'll cave to Terri's wishes this year and get rid of them. Anybody want to buy a couple of Ski Doos? Just kidding...they represent the last bastion of my childhood!