Saturday, November 18, 2017

First Snow of the Season, 2017

The first snow of the season fell this morning.  What you see is about all we got, and it isn't expected to stick around long, thankfully.  I expect a weekend filled with football and relaxing.  I do have a growing to-do list, but nothing terribly urgent at the moment.


I've noted our first snow here on the blog over the years:  October 10, 2009; December 4, 2010; November 9, 2011; December 9, 2012, October 23, 2013; hard drive issues and a break around this time in 2014; November 20, 2015; December 4, 2016 and now, November 18, 2017.  It was interesting to look back at the dates.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

1000 Posts!

20171104 1000 posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy Halloween 2017

The large, bright moon was a good effect.
Trick or Treat!  I got into Halloween a little more this year.  I picked up a window covering that is backlit by your inside lights.  It came in two parts so I put in in the corner windows, and I did get a few compliments on it from friendly parents.  I also bought a mask to have fun with the kiddies.  I waited to get these things until Sunday so there wasn't much left out to choose from.  Oh, and I got candy - loads of candy.  Too much candy.  Anyone want some candy?  I'd say we got around 40 trick-or-treaters or so, not too bad.  I expect that number to grow over the next several years as the kids get bigger and more numerous in the neighborhood, but I could be wrong.  I answered the door all but once with my mask on, bending down to kid height.  Showed the spirit but I didn't make any kids run away screaming.
Unimpressed Hamish

After the break is me, in my scary mask!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

One Minute Of Peace

Late last night, friends had left, cleanup done.  I relaxed by the fire for about an hour as the winds picked up before the front would come through overnight.  This is why I want to put in a permanent fire pit, but without the wind, of course.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October This-And-Thats

I’ve not posted in some time, just been busy, tired or both.  And looking back, I've been pretty streaky with posting the last few months; twice in June, 8 times in July, once in August, 8 times again in September, and now this is the first for October.  It looks like I'm taking every other month off.  Overall, there really hasn’t been a whole lot going on or I would most likely write about it here. But as for now, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say here yet, so it's time to start typing again and see what happens!

  •  The days are getting shorter and we’ve had to turn on the furnace to keep warm.  I’m hoping for several more nice days before winter, and we may get them but it may not be shorts weather again until spring.  At least not for me.  The leaves are changing colors and falling, some trees before others.  It will still be some weeks before raking is necessary, and I’ll need to wait for the trees to be finished before cleaning the house gutters.  I already have a list started for spring, just some projects I'd like to do (fire pit!) and products that will be needed.
  • The gardens are in order after cleaning them up and adding the composted soil to the nutrient-starved east garden.  Kate got the garlic planted a few days ago.  Feel free to visit the garden blog.  Updates come sporadically over there, but I still try to hit all the highlights and usually post a bunch of pictures.
  • It’s football season!  The Badgers are well on their way to a *ahem* hopefully undefeated season and one of the four College Football Playoff berths.  The Packers unfortunately lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone last weekend, but I still have hope of winning games and making the playoffs - then anything can happen.  I enjoy watching Badger and Packer games but it does seem to take up a big chunk of the weekends so I don't really watch the other games like I used to.
  • I’ve begun (or continued) a job search.  What a pain.  Everything is online these days, complete the application, upload your resume, answer these questions – only 38 pages long, you’re almost done!  Then you get to the interviews.  'Star interview' questions?  Never heard of it before my wife mentioned it recently, and that explains some of the questions I've heard before.  I’ll need to brush up on a few work stories, I guess, to make myself look good.  Looking for a job is selling yourself.  My problem is, I’ve never been a salesman.  I better learn quick with more interviews upcoming!
  • We haven't had the bikes out much lately, with the cooler and wet weather.  I should start looking for a place to take them in for off-season maintenance.  Mostly they need professional adjustments of the gears and my brakes.  I think I know of a nearby place, just off the bike path of course, so I should contact them this weekend and schedule it.  
While writing this I thought of the last TATs post, in September.  I mentioned that if I wrote about posting cat pictures that would make it more likely to happen.  It hasn't, obviously.  I will try to remember this time, but for now here's Basil and Hamish from several weeks ago, hanging out on the ottoman looking all cute and innocent.  We know better!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Olbrich Biergarten

Yesterday evening my wife and I finally made it to the Biergarten at Olbrich Park.  It opened about halfway through summer and we drive past it at least twice almost every day, and I've been past it on my bike a few times, but we finally made it there to sit and enjoy the area, scenery and ambiance.   The beer garden is a good idea for the city to get more people to use the park and make some money, and it appears to be working as there were lots of people out yesterday evening but still not all the tables were taken so we didn't feel crowded.  There's still plenty of open green space, the space for soccer fields is still there, and the boaters have their own area on the other side of the Starkweather Creek outlet into Lake Monona.
There were great views of the lake and area, and I've really been enjoying taking pictures this year so here's some more!  This is on Lake Monona, when we're out on the boat we're on Lake Mendota.  The state capitol building is on the isthmus that separates the lakes so this is the other side than the view I usually post here.

We were supposed to meet someone we met at a local hangout but they pulled a no-show and didn't reply to a text until hours later.  We are open to making new friends but this disappointed us.  We do what we say we're going to do and are always on time, and for the most part we'd like our friends to be like that, too.  Still, we enjoyed ourselves while sitting by the lake and sipping a brew as the sun lowered over the lake.  It was a lovely setting, right in the city but so nice, calm and relaxing.

Earlier in the day I got some yard work done and so I posted a tour of the yard over at the garden blog last night.  Stop over there and have a look, and, of course, more beer garden photos after the break!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Vacation Week Recap

Another long, wordy post.  If you've already had enough of me lately then you may move on.  Otherwise, enjoy the wit and charm that is me - now even older and wiser*!

Along with that other occasion this week I was also on vacation, or call it a stay-cation - my favorite kind!  I usually like to have a big project to accomplish, among my other to-do list items, but this time I only had a small to-do list and no real big project to complete.  Not that that's a bad thing, I sure got more rest, but I also probably consumed more alcohol than necessary.  A look back at the highlights of my vacation here.  Did I waste my time?  You tell me.

The Badgers won their home game against Florida Atlantic, their second win of the season against a team dealing with the hurricane back home at the time.  They were unsure if the game would be played for a while but Wisconsin was more than accommodating for their extended stay in Madison.
Throughout the game and after was all party preparation.  I wrote about the party briefly here, I'm still happy for all that celebrated with me - and my Mom created something special that still amazes me.  Picture clippings of me from infancy to recent, and shaped in a big 5-0.  This is the kind of thing only a stalker or someone who really loves you would put the time in to put together.  I've only seen these kind of picture tributes at retirements and funerals.  I told my wife we need to keep it for my funeral (in 6 years!), she can add in the later years afterward!  Seriously though, I was very touched and impressed.
Overall, the party was a blast and I think all had a great time.  The only downside for me was the back spasms I got well after midnight while standing in our kitchen after putting everything outside away.  That was unfortunate and would affect my next several days.

Thankfully, the Packers started the season with a late afternoon game.  That gave me time to sleep in and then try to re-hydrate myself after Saturday night's party.  Even though I started the day with a few back spasms I was able to get everything in order in the garage and porch for the time being, but moving the big stuff would have to wait.  I hit up some hair of the dog, put on my new favorite Packers shirt and enjoyed the game before calling it an early night.

Much the same as Sunday, but no football games, just highlights and interviews to watch.  My back was still questionable so I did some online surfing and shopping.  I started my vacation week off very slowly but fully enjoyed the day of rest.

My back was feeling strong enough that I got all the tables and chairs from the party squared away, just have some we borrowed to return yet.  This meant I was able to park in the garage again, until I decided to get my bike down.  It would stay down the rest of the week.
I was itching to get out on the bike so I chose a couple places nearby that I hadn't been to yet.  First I headed north over the bike bridge, the one I've shown here before, but then I continued a little farther north to go see the next bike bridge, over highway 30.  After two and a half weeks not on the bike I managed to make it up both bridges, but stopped at the top of the second knowing I would just have to come back up it and I still had to go up the other on the way back.  Not the smartest plan for not having ridden in some time.  I got back over the bridges to flat land and headed out northeast to a bike path nearby that I hadn't been on.  Not a long path, but picturesque in a spot or two over the marshlands.

My vacation was running out and I had yet to do the one 'big' project I had planned, resealing between the driveway and foundation.  I got that done on this morning, mostly before the heat of the sun got to me, but crawling around the driveway and getting down and up what seemed like 50 times took it's toll on my knees and back.  No bike rides this day.  I spent time at Brothers Three for lunch and drinks.  When I got home my new hard drive had arrived so I spent the rest of the day backing up files and relaxing.

With the seal by the foundation completed I was able to finish the sawbuck.  The strip of wood I used as a brace is the strip of wood I used to pound down the old seal by the foundation.  With that project completed I could reuse that wood as a brace on the sawbuck, I just had to cut a few inches off either end.  I spent the next couple hours on a bike ride to the Tenney Lock, and finished up the afternoon with another few drinks at Brothers Three, waiting for notification of my new computer monitor being delivered.  I didn't want it sitting out fearing it may get stolen.  Conveniently, I get delivery notifications from Amazon on my phone so I could then come home straight away.  And then, it arrived just after I got home a short time later.

This is it.  The last 'real' vacation day before the weekend.  I spent my early morning hours sleeping in and taking my time getting anything done.  Eventually I settled in and set up my new, 32 inch computer monitor.   It is BIG.  I went from a 24 inch to a 32 inch.  A luxury, as the old monitor still works wonderfully, but I watch a lot of videos and concerts on the computer so bigger seems better.
Otherwise I made a trip to the store for gatherings this weekend.  I dropped the ball, though, I had all week and forgot to shop for a birthday present.  I'll have to figure out something by Sunday.

A slow morning around the house, but the Badgers played early afternoon and then we went to a friend's house for a rib cookout.  This is the friend we went in on the cow with, the ribs weren't packaged to be split up easily so he kept them and invited all who went in on the cow over for a cookout.  Then it turned out it wasn't racks of ribs but one rib roast, almost 15 pounds! It was still delicious and we had much fun, and the Badgers won handily.

Sunday, today:
We will be heading to the new Olbrich Beer Garden on Lake Mendota** for a small gathering to celebrate another birthday.  After that I expect quiet time at home until the Packer game tonight.  Then I need to get as much sleep as I can before the dreadful alarm goes off early in the morning sending me back to work.  Oh well, I had fun while it lasted!

* Well, older, anyway.
**Scratch that.  Just got word it is moved to the Harmony.  I think Olbrich would be more than just fine but the sun isn't shining.  Oh well. (Edit, 5:20 pm, we moved it from the Harmony to Dexter's Pub, we had a grand time with friends and the sun never did really come out.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tenney Lock, Madison

I had been planning on a vacation recap post this weekend to sum up the events of this week, and I still plan on doing that, but today's bike ride destination deserves a post of its own.  I had actually hoped to do this trip yesterday but my back was acting up again so today I made it happen and I'm very glad I did.  It was a beautiful day out, and my timing was accidental but worked out to be pretty fortunate.

As I've noted before, bike rides are fun, but I find them easier to get out and do with a destination in mind rather than aimlessly riding.  I'd probably like aimlessly riding if I didn't usually have other things to do, though.  Tuesday I decided I wanted to ride my bike to the only lock in Madison, or anywhere else in Wisconsin as far as I know, on the Yahara River that crosses the isthmus and connects lakes Mendota and Monona.  I'm sure I'll know if there are more locks in Wisconsin soon.  There would figure to be a few on rivers that meet up with one of our Great Lakes, on Superior or Michigan.

20170914_114821See, I've been watching a lot of narrow boat videos on the canal system over in the UK on YouTube recently, and have even subscribed to a few channels.  Notably; CruisingTheCut, Journey with Jono, Countryhouse Gent, among several others.  My interest actually started with those tiny house videos, which led me to find the narrow boat videos, starting with Great Canal Journeys, the show with Tim and Pru, two elderly English thespians, and following their adventures on different boats and canals.  (I'd love to link to all I mentioned but that takes time and you may copy and paste into YouTube, if you're interested.)

20170914_114857I've always known about the lock here in Madison, I just never had a need or interest before now.  I do know it was under repairs earlier this year, is all, but I do not ever remember visiting before.  Riding my bike there sounded like a good plan, I thought.  I purposely have not looked up anything about the lock other than the bike paths to get there as I wanted to see it for the first time upon my arrival.  I didn't take a lot of pictures on my bike ride there, but I those I got were pretty good so I'll post a bunch here, as I'm sure you've seen by now.

Just after I arrived the lockmaster was letting himself in.  He welcomed me and said he was just opening it up so stick around if I want to see it in action, so of course I did!  The Tenney Lock is nothing like I see in the canal videos from England, but they are very much newer, fewer (being only one) and fully automated.  I told him about watching those videos and he was fully informed on the history of canals and lock usage, from the early Chinese and Greeks to the newer but still very old English and German canals.  The railway made those canal systems obsolete for commercial use.  These days they seem to be much more for pleasure, and I can see the appeal.  I told the friendly, even jovial lockmaster that this must be a great job to have.  He came in close, grabbed me by the arm and told me he couldn't imagine a better retirement job, and I could sense his glee!

Above is the second video I took, it was of several older females out on kayaks going through the locks.  I skipped a portion for timeliness, but there is a longer, almost 5 minute video after the break of the first group through the lock today, start to finish.  Plus all pictures full size from above and more from the breakwater out on the lake past the locks.

All that, after the break!