Friday, November 17, 2017

Nature Happens Everywhere

After moving to a small plot of land surrounded by a metropolitan area we had thought our opportunities to see wildlife would be fairly limited.  We had this hawk sitting on the railing on our second floor deck yesterday, just calmly checking out the world.  Fortunately, the sun was shining on the glass so it didn't see me as I got close to take pictures from inside.   Very regal looking and pretty nasty talons on it.  My best guess is that it is a Cooper's Hawk - but bird identification isn't exactly my strong suit.

Add this to the ten turkeys that were feasting on the berries that grow on my neighbors ivy just two weeks ago and it has been quite the bird viewing month all without leaving the comfort of my house.

Monday, November 13, 2017

And Now it is Basketball Season

Yes, this is another posting about us going over to Madison for the weekend to watch some more sports.  This time it was a basketball game on Friday and football game on Saturday.  We had tickets for another basketball game on Sunday but decided another three sport weekend was too much.  This was the actual opening game of the season - all the games prior to this were considered "exhibition" games.  Not sure the logic there, but I'm not a basketball coach.  Anyway, our Badgers were successful on the court against South Carolina State and afterwards we enjoyed a great meal at a local Mexican restaurant.  At least we think the meal was great, since we are very sure that the margaritas where great.  Two of them and we were both a bit wobbly.  

We got up on Saturday and walked to breakfast - at least partly to walk off our meal/drinks from the night before - where we were joined by our friends Jim and Judy at Madison Sourdough.  Good breakfast catching up as they continue to settle into their new house.  Naturally a few of the pastries, since Madison Sourdough has a major pastry selection, had to find their way back for a noontime snack - we wanted to be well fueled for the football game.  After breakfast we did a little shopping focused on purchasing new light fixtures for our renovation.  Then we got back in time for a short nap before piling on layers and layers of clothing to try and stay warm during the afternoon game.  The weather turned much colder this week - dropping into the 20's at night.  And with no sun forecast for the game, we figured we needed as many layers as we could fit under our jackets.  We both looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy once we had stuffed ourselves into our jackets.

The game was thrilling to watch as the offense tried to see how many times they could let Iowa's defense score while the defense played a brilliant game holding Iowa to less that 100 yards total offense for the game.  Fortunately, the home team came out on top at the end and left the crowd go home happy.  You might ask what does a die-hard Wisconsin fan do after sitting in 30 degree weather for 3.5 hours slowly freezing into a popsicle from the outside in.  What else, get ice cream!!  OK, we did then climb into a steamy hot shower to finally completely thaw out.

Sunday we came home early to have a weekend day at home for once and spent the day getting a little exercise, catching up on home chores, and Jo doing some work work since she was a bit behind.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Got to Love Badger Sports

To keep our streak alive of never being home on weekends, we headed over to Madison to enjoy another sports filled weekend.  That's right - we don't do sports anymore, we just watch them now.  It feels marginally better than watching them on TV since you at least had to walk to the stadium so you can claim a little exercise.  Anyway, we started off on Friday night watching the women's volleyball team lose in five sets to Ohio State.  Not the best way to start our weekend, but it got better, especially stopping for half-price donuts on the way home.

We were up bright and early on Saturday to squeeze a many errands in before the start of the Badger football game telecast.  First up was a stop at Woodman's grocery store to stock up on staples (it's a warehouse store and beats anything in the Milwaukee area) then it was over to pick out paint colors for our condo walls.  This was followed by a stop in the lighting store to find out they had lost our lighting order - we have the items but we need to recreate what we wanted where, not a  tragedy, but not a great recommendation for the store.  Then it was over to Kathy's by eleven AM to catch our breath and catch up with her and John while watching the Badgers beat Indiana on TV.  Then after a wonderful pork tenderloin dinner it was back to our condo to drop off the car before getting some exercise for the day walking to another volleyball game.  This ended better with a win in four sets over Maryland.

We finished up our weekend with an early morning breakfast on Sunday - that time change will get ya - at the Curve where we discovered one of the best omelets and hash browns we have had in our travels through Madison diners.  We then hung around the condo catching up on some work (Jo) or reading (Me) until it was time to head to the Kohl's center for a men's basketball game.  These are new tickets for us and it is tough to score tickets to men's basketball.  So we are the in the second to last row in the stadium and these aren't seats for the faint of heart.  The Kohl's center has a really steep pitch which gives great views as long as you don't suffer from vertigo.  But putting the lack of oxygen due to the elevation aside, we had a great time watching the new team win over another UW school.  Afterwards, we heated up some pizza for dinner in the condo before hitting the road home.  Busy weekend, but lots of fun activities, although three sporting events in a weekend is a bit much.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pasta, Wine, Churches, and Ruins

We spent the last week vacationing in Rome.  We decided that instead of trying to visit lots of different towns that we would spend the entire week in Rome.  It was very interesting to see what had changed since we last visited over 20 years ago - back when Italy stilled used the lira - which included several new museums and a lot of restoration to various ruins around the city.  But, to summarize our trip for those that don't enjoy these long missives and don't want to spend four hours looking at hundreds of photos it was: ruin, ruin, ruin, church, pasta, wine, ruin, church, ruin, ruin, pasta, wine, ruin, ruin, ruin, church, church, ruin.

Now for those liking a bit more information - we tried hard to only go to sites we hadn't visited before.  Fortunately, with a city like Rome with all their different sites from antiquity along with various museums it wasn't very hard to fill our days.  We had also set up a few guided tours - to see some of the rooms at the Vatican that aren't on the usual tour, Tivoli gardens, and a few of the underground ruins beneath churches.  We had almost perfect weather for the entire week, with only one day threatening rain that never came. 

The highlight of the trip was probably attending a church service in the Pantheon where Jo got to do the responsorial reading - we were just sitting there waiting for the service to start and we were asked if we would be willing to do the reading (fortunately in English).  Since I didn't want to be personally responsible for lightening bolts striking the Pantheon, Jo volunteered to do it.  The other cool thing was that they exit all the tourists from the Pantheon for the service so that after it was finished we had the Pantheon to ourselves for about ten minutes before the crowds all came rushing back in.  We also tried to go into every church we passed which in Rome is a really nutty goal since there seems to be two or three on every block.  Either way, there are an amazing number of absolutely spectacular churches in Rome and we did manage to hit the big four so Jo should have piled up a few indulgences (although I'm not sure if you talk about them you don't get them - like birthday wishes - we Lutherans don't get schooled in indulgence protocols).

We also braved the Italian train system and took a train out to Castel Gandolfo for the day.  After an interesting visit to the Castel which included a tour of the pope's apartment we spent the day picnicking by the shores of Lake Albano.  I learned a lot about the popes from about the 16th century onward, including the few that lasted only a few days or months in office.  Also, got a good appreciation for why Lutheranism came about - not all the popes were that focused on the religious side of their job.  But they did build some wonderful palaces and accumulate a lot of really nice artwork and sculptures.

There was also a fair amount of time spent reading and looking at the ancient Roman ruins/buildings.  I'm always amazed at the beautiful sculptures and buildings that were built 2,000 years ago without the aid of power tools or hydraulic equipment.  I could go on and on, but just suffice it to say we had a great week off, ate some really phenomenal spaghetti and pizza dinners, had way too much delicious gellato, and came back rested, but heavier.  Oh yeah, also with over 400 pictures which we'll make you watch next time you visit.