Thursday, April 19, 2018

Happy 6th, Basil and Hamish!

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Taken Sunday, during the snow.
The cats turn 6 tomorrow.  Seems like just yesterday they were kittens.  Happy Birthday Basil and Hamish!

For their first birthday in 2013 we found the perfect cat tree for them and their size, the old cat tree that is on our porch right now.  Two years later on their third birthday they got an even taller cat tree with less but larger levels for their adult size, the original cat tree moved to the porch.  Now they are 6 and getting the same cat tree as three years ago, but this one has brown carpet as the beige was not available.  I had thought that it was only two years since the last tree, but it has been three.  I must say that is has held up well for three years, but now it will move to the porch and the original cat tree from 2013 will be removed.

20180414_153734I had gotten the base for the new tree cut, stained and finished earlier in that week, so I put together the new cat tree last Saturday.  While the cats showed much curiosity they remained pretty well behaved until I was finished with the assembly and had it in place in front of the windows.  As you can see, they took to it right away.  It is in every way the same as the last one except it is new and the carpet is brown so it's hard to tell if they even notice the difference.  No matter, it is theirs and they know it.  Cats need a place of their own and a high space is good for them.  When they stand on top they can look down on us and feel superior, like the cats they are.

More and better pictures of the tree, the cats and the process after the break!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No Spring This Year II*

I just took this picture.  It's pretty heavy at the moment, but has been for a while and looks to continue.  Yep, there is no spring this year.

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*Update, Thursday 4/19:  We got 7.2 inches total.  Hopefully the last for the season!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

No Spring This Year

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No, this is not turning into a weather blog - yet.  If this was anything like last year, or the year before, or even the year before that then I would be writing about all the spring plans for outside and the cat's birthday (post coming soon).  Go ahead and click those links and you'll see how late spring is this year.  I could go back further but I think the point is made.  On a side note, looking back now to get those links I noticed that I missed my 9th Blogday on April 8.  I've now been writing here for over 9 years.  Happy Blogday to me!

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Madison is dead center, the a in Milwaukee.
I slept in again today and when I got up it had already been snowing for some time.  This weather system started yesterday with rain, then sleet/ice until turning over to snow last night.  The snow has continued and will continue off and on until early tomorrow morning, it looks like.  The yard picture is from earlier today.  Not a lot of snow but it came down pretty steady for a long time and is the wet and heavy stuff.  Northern Wisconsin was forecast to possibly get up to 30 inches - that's two and a half feet!  When I look at the radar (screenshot from this afternoon) - and I'm no weatherman - this system, which has been slowly moving east, is a funnel of moisture coming straight north from the Gulf of Mexico.  When it hits the colder air it forms something like a mushroom cloud.  Today we have been in the center of the rotation on the west side of the mushroom cloud, so while we're kind of on the edge it just hadn't been moving, thus the constant light snow.  Again we get a late snowstorm and again we are luckily on the edge of it and not getting as much as we could have.  A rather fascinating look at the weather, actually, but I won't say that to my wife Kate who is out shoveling the stuff right now.

Yes, this may all melt by Tuesday afternoon, but we still have a chance of snow forecast for Wednesday evening, possibly mixed with rain.  There is no spring this year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Back Shot, Weather and Lawn Rolling

I got shot in my back yesterday, a steroid (not cortisone) and anesthetic to my left S1 nerve root.  So far I feel pretty good, still getting random pains in my butt and tingling in my foot, but they said it may take a couple days and they want me to keep track of it daily for the next two weeks.  I think it helped for now but seems like a short term solution, but we'll see.  Meanwhile, I am to take it easy today and tomorrow I go back to work.  But taking it easy is hard when there are things to do.

20181104 forecastI slept in today, but I've been doing that anyway lately, ran a few errands and made some calls.  The guy is supposed to be coming over soon to roll the lawn so pretty soon I can start on the fire pit as soon as my back is up for it.  Maybe if he gets here before I finish writing this I'll post a picture.  I have nothing left on my agenda today but a few little things and reading the newspaper.

The temperature is about 50ºF right now.  We still have a tiny bit of snow along the back fence and by the garage but it won't last long, even in the shade. Tomorrow it looks as if we may break our long streak here in Madison of not hitting 60ºF since December 4.  If we do we better enjoy it because it doesn't look like we'll hit it again for some time.  The good news is that it is starting to not go below freezing every single night, but look - there is snow in the forecast twice still.  Sigh.

Every year is different, we just have to roll with it.

Speaking of rolling, the guy showed up as I was finishing writing this, see a couple pictures of Jason and a perfectly rolled yard after the break!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Projects, Looking Ahead

I was thinking I would get pictures around the yard for another yard tour over at the garden blog, but there's not much green to show.  I took some pictures yesterday, but what you see here is all that we have coming up so far, and a bit more behind the stairs.  There are tulips here, too, but the rabbits are eating them as fast as they grow.

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I've been itching to get outside and get things done but winter will not go away.  We got more snow again last night, half as much as last post and it melted twice as fast late this morning.  I didn't get a picture but you know what it looks like.  I also read this morning that the last time Madison hit 60ºF was December 4, a very long stretch, indeed.  But I am starting to see hints of green in the lawn and buds on the trees.  We may end up skipping spring again this year and going right into summer.

20180408_142456Basil and Hamish have a birthday coming up on April 20th and they're getting a new cat tree so I had to build a stabilizing base for it, so I got out in the coldness of the garage and cut and sanded a piece of plywood so I can stain and finish it in the basement.  A base adds weight and width to the bottom and keeps it much more stable during leaping take-offs and landings.  The cat tree we bought is the same as the one we have in the front windows now, but the beige carpet wasn't available anymore so we had to get brown.  This is the most sturdy and roomy cat tree we've seen and the cats love it so no more cheap ones for us.  The one in the house will be moved to the porch and the one on the porch will either be thrown away or given to another cat that could use it.

20180408_142211Another project I've been itching to get to is building the fire pit in the back yard.  The smallest fire ring I've been able to find is 28 inches, I bought it a few weeks ago on sale and saved 20 bucks, but the screen cover was still not in stock as of today when I was at the store.  I'd like to put the ring together but I have nowhere to put it so for the time being it is taking up space on my workbench in the garage.  I also checked out the blocks I want to use around the fire ring.  I'm going to use blocks that are more the size and shape of bricks rather than the larger landscape blocks to keep the footprint smaller.  No rush yet though, because before I start anything I need to get the back yard rolled to get all the little bumps and ankle-twisters flattened.  I've already talked to a guy about that, but I think he wants to wait for it to warm up a little.  Then I have to dig out the area and level it, add sand and pound it down, and start building.  I will be using an adhesive to keep the blocks together.  The earlier I get this done the earlier we can warm up by the fire!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April Snow and More

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We woke up to a fresh blanket of snow today.  A quick check of the calendar confirms it is the month of April and is officially Spring.  Humph.  Yesterday afternoon I stopped at the local bar to have a drink and spoke with a city employee who said he has driven the snow plows for 20 years and he's never had to plow in April.  Well, I hope he didn't stay and drink too much because I'm sure he was out in the wee hours plowing snow.  This was a rather large system over the upper Midwest yesterday and last night, and we got pretty lucky with mostly rain yesterday and then overnight when the temperatures plummeted most of the snow went north of us.  The system was headed east, and the east has already been pummeled with snow this spring.  Good luck to 'em.  Our snow mostly melted by the time I got home, though I'm sure it will linger in the shady spots.

I took this picture as I set out to work this morning.  I've been taking vacation days until I get a steroid shot in the back next week Tuesday but I couldn't get today off so instead of finagling it off I just sucked it up and went in.  I got through it but I'm growing to hate my work chair lots, luckily we'll be getting new ones soon.  I usually take some vacation time in the spring anyway, normally sometime in May.  I'm just taking it early this year due to circumstances, I guess.

Another thing to note is that just a day or two after my last post the ice on Lake Monona was gone from view.  I'm not sure about the larger Lake Mendota, there may be a bit in the middle over there yet but if so it should be short lived.

Hang in there, people, actual spring will show up eventually.  We have a few plants coming up in the flowerbeds by the porch.  I'll have time, so I may post a picture tour over at the garden blog soon.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lake Monona Ice Views - Part 3

I took photos back in December from Olbrich Park looking out over Lake Monona as the ice sheet was forming, and again in January as the ice was fully formed and there were even people out ice fishing, now here we are again as the ice melts this spring.  Kind of full circle, I'm sure there will be pictures of the lake over the summer in normal posts so there won't be a part 4.

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Just to keep from cluttering up the homepage with another long post, more pictures after the break!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Latest LIVE Listening Pleasure 29 - The Harp Twins


20180324_182914Saturday night my wife Kate and I ventured south of Madison to the city of Stoughton and their Opera House to see The Harp Twins.  Before we get to the main attraction, this is the first time we've been to this venue, and it is different than others I've visited.  It opened in 1901, fell into disrepair in the 50's, and sporadic renovations began in the 80's until a few years ago being declared fit for another century.  From what I understand, it is run by volunteers and has many donors and members.  I found it to be a beautiful place, and I liked the smaller size.  The venue allows no video and no flash photography.  There is no food or drink allowed, which is just as well as the only bathrooms are in the basement, 77 narrow stairs away, I counted on the way back up, then several more stairs down to our seats.  Overall, another beautiful local venue to see a show, though the shows here usually tend toward the older crowd - and remember to take your best, softest seat cushion or pillow you have, for the wooden seats are from 1900, hand-carved and harder than concrete.

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20180324_195741First off, The Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly, mentioned during the show that they're from Chicago.  All this time I thought they were from Norway, but they do reference being Norwegian quite often and they certainly look the part.  We got there rather early after going out to dinner in Stoughton before going to the venue.  We had a nice couple right behind us, also early, that seemed as if they had been there before.  They were from the Chicago area as well and had come up for the show, though they love Wisconsin and come here often for many reasons, they said.  We got a preview of the dresses to be worn when one of the twins came out beforehand to tune the harps.  They started almost on time, probably waiting for the latecomers, starting with a Fleetwood Mac song that escapes me now, and played a string (no pun intended) of rock and metal cover songs that they arranged for the harp and one original song, and played them all very well.  The covers is how I found out about them, from the rock and metal websites posting a story when they release a new Youtube video.  Camille and Kennerly's channel is here.

20180324_194124In between songs they would come up to the microphone and their banter and interaction was entertaining.  While I can tell they have certain stories and jokes to say they seemed to only loosely follow them and lived in the moment.  I found them charming and funny, and very talented harpists (though I can list the harpists I know on two fingers).  The first half or more before the intermission was on the big, traditional harps, with a few with an electric and a traditional harp.  They even arranged Metallica's song 'One' for both of them to play on the same harp (get it?  One?).  When it came time to change around the stage they sent the 'crew' out to do it - themselves wearing baseball hats.  After the intermission, the second half was with the electric harps, the big traditional harps serving as a good backdrop.

20180324_202233Remember that couple that sat behind us?  We spoke at the intermission about the no video rule and how I noticed plenty of cameras and no one taking video, just pictures, and how I'd really like to get a song.  He then showed me that he got the entire song 'Stairway To Heaven' on video.  He said after the song ended an usher tapped him on the shoulder and scolded him, so he said he was sorry.  That emboldened me.  I didn't want to break their rules but I really did want video of just one song, at least.  I went for it in the second half and luckily got the song 'Nemo,' originally by Nightwish, on video along with plenty of banter beforehand.  Enough banter that I thought I would get that tap before they even started the song.  I kept the camera low, thankfully a young girl was in the seat in front of me, and to the side, trying to block it with my head from the usher's view.  Thankfully, I got the whole song and that tap on my shoulder never came.  I was a good boy the rest of the show.

There's not many live videos like this on Youtube that I can find of The Harp Twins, so they may be diligent about having them taken down, I'm not sure, but for that reason this video is not named as normal at this time.  It would be nice to get a lot of views (my Marilyn Manson videos are over a thousand views, combined!) but I'd rather have my video available here on my website for my readers and me.  The song starts at 2:10, and again at 2:43, you'll see.  Please forgive the rough start and the poor camera focus.

The Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly - Nemo


Because of the no video rule I was taking a lot of pictures.  Also, because my camera on my phone is not the best at focusing I take a lot because I never know which ones will turn out.  After the LLP list below I put all the best pictures after the break.  I also recently added the full LLP list in the right column.  Now, click Read more below!

Previous LLP Posts...
LLP 1 - Pain
LLP 2 - Nightwish
LLP 3 - Die Antwoord
LLP 4 - Pain part 2
LLP 5 - Andrew Bird LIVE
LLP 6 - Nightwish part 2
LLP 7 - Paramore
LLP 8 - Newsted
LLP 9 - U.D.O. LIVE
LLP 10 - Nightwish Imaginaerum Movie
LLP 11 - Kiss
LLP 12 - Rick Springfield
LLP 13 - Hyrax
LLP 14 - In This Moment
LLP 15 - Faster Pussycat LIVE
LLP 16 - Sebastian Bach
LLP 17 - Cradle Of Thorns
LLP 18 - Amaranthe
LLP 19 - Lindemann
LLP 20 - Halestorm
LLP 21 - Garbage LIVE
LLP 22 - Arcade
LLP 23 - Nightwish LIVE
LLP 24 - Ace Frehley
LLP 25 - Darkc3ll
LLP 26 - Dementia
LLP 27 - Rammstein
LLP 28 - Marilyn Manson LIVE
LLP 29 - The Harp Twins LIVE