June 29, 2007

Summerfest in Milwaukee!

Headed over to Milwaukee to see the opening night of Summerfest. Arrived around 6:30 to a very cool but beautiful night on Lake Michigan along with some great music and even fireworks. Our four year-in-a-row German guest and musician extraordinaire, Chris, was really excited about seeing grunge/rock bands Flyleaf and Puddle of Mud. Of course, I had never heard of them, but I'm a believer now. I really liked Flyleaf - the woman's voice is amazing. Puddle of Mudd was Seattle-grungy. Good sound but jeesh, the singer looked to be channeling Cobain right on stage.....

Of course we had to take a ride on the cables cars. Here's Chris and Eric in the car ahead of us. You can see there were tons O' people there last night.
And no trip to summerfest would be complete without a trip down a musical memory lane. At the far stage was Bad Boy. I was introduced to this mid-west rock band 20 years ago by Eric who went to see almost every show they'd perform at the old Headliners. I think it was New Year's Eve in 1986 that I first saw the band with Todd and Eric. And last night, it was rather trippy standing again with Eric and Todd watching the band. Major flashback happening there.... At 9:00, we caught some awesome fireworks and a bit of the Violent Femmes. I always have a picture in my mind of their 80s post-punky look and last night they were really looking like suburban dads, of which, I guess they probably are....
This was my first time back to Summerfest in probably 15 years. I don't think it will be another 15-year dry spell. I loved the atmosphere, the people and the music pumping from 10 different stages. Pretty awesome. Hit the highway back to Madison around 1:00 am and was in bed sleeping by 2:30 am.

June 21, 2007

The garden is going to town....

The new garden beds on the side of the house are going gang-busters. I even ate a cherry tomato out of the garden this morning. This picture was taken only a few weeks ago and already the peas and beans have started crawling up their walls. Here's what we are growing this year - chilis, cucumbers, melon, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, peppers, peas, beans rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, fennel, cilantro and oregano. We also got a hop vine to grow on the trellis. Hop is used to make beer and hop berries can be put right in your glass of beer to add an extra zing.

June 18, 2007

Stokin' at Indy F1 2007

We tried to hit the road at 5:30 am on Saturday morning to get to Indianapolis in time to see the F1 qualify races at 1:00 pm. And with a 45 minute late start and an appalling scary stop at a Shell Hell station in LeRoy, Illinois, and a new day light savings time change for Indiana, we actually rolled into the racetrack with about 20 minutes to spare! We watched Lewis Hamilton win the pole position for the 2007 US Grand Prix. After the qualifying races, we headed over to the camping area to set up our fort for the night. As you can see, we had several countries represented with flags attached to the absolutely required sunscreen tent. Camping around us this year were Brazilians, Bulgarians, Finns, Germans, Canadians and even a few Americans. This is probably the most international event that takes place in America and one of best cultural exchanges that we have experienced in the U.S.
Hot, bloody hot was the temperature this year. Saturday was 93 degrees without a cloud in the sky. Sunday the temperatures hit an easy 96 - with the track temperature over 130 degrees. Think sauna. After the race on Sunday, it took all I had to get back to the tent, pull the mattress into the shade, and try to get over a pounding headache that was searing my brain. After drinking about 2 gallons of water, getting horizontal and sorta sleeping, the headache was reduced slightly. Only after we got on the road with the air conditioner at full blast did I start to feel human again.... And since it's my blog, you won't see a picture of me passed out like poor Paul below....
Aside from the heat issues, It was a great trip. Hung out with the guys, won the bet for most placed finishers of the race (and I believe I get a Penske point for that one....) Rolled back back into Madison on Sunday night at 10 pm and was greeted exuberantly by my ever-faithful puppy dog, Teiko.

June 15, 2007

Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice) Recipe

Made a great little dish last night for supper - It looks a lot like gumbo but it is actually a variation of a couple of Arroz Con Pollo recipes I manipulated

2 Chicken Breasts, cubed
2 hot chorizo/pork sausages (skins removed and meat cut up)
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. uncooked long grain rice
1 c. chopped onion
4 clove garlic, chopped
1 roasted Poblano Pepper (deseeded and chopped)
2 cups chopped fresh tomato
4 cups of broth (can be vegetable or chicken - I used both)
1/2 Lime juice
Cilantro (Fresh) to garnish
Spices: (mix in a small bowl): 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 bay leaf and a pinch of saffron threads (if you have them, otherwise turmeric will provide color)
In large Dutch oven, place 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil and heat to medium high temperature. Add chicken and sausage, cook about 5 minutes or until meat is starting to brown. Add rice, onion, peppers, and garlic to pan; stir fry about 5 minutes. Add the spice mixture, lime juice and stir. Add 4 cups of broth. Bring to boil and add tomatoes.

Cover, reduce heat to low and continue cooking about 30 minutes or until until rice is done. Serve in bowls. Add extra broth directly to the bowl for soup-like consistency. Add fresh cilantro for garnish and taste.

Makes hella lot of food. (easily 5-6 servings)

US Grand Prix bound

We'll be heading down to Indy Saturday morning (5:30 am) to see the qualifying races for the US Grand Prix. The actual race in Sunday at 1:00 pm. I love to watch formula 1 racing. Kinda got hooked when we lived in Holland where everyone watches F1 and Soccer.

So I need to find a new racer to cheer for. My favorite racer was Schumi - Michael Schumacher who sadly retired from F1 last year - He was one of the winningest racers in history. I'll be taking my German flag to hang from the tent in honor the the German Racer! Oh that's right, one of the best parts of any F1 race is the camping and partying with people from around the world the night before who come to see the fastest cars and the best drivers. Forget Nascar! This is real racing!

The Mallards Rock!

The Matadors took all the employees out to the Mallards game on Wednesday night at Warner Park. For my out-of-town friends, the Mallards are a local baseball team that plays during the summer months here in Madison. General tickets are like $6 so its easy to take the family out to the all-American game without breaking the bank. We brought the $25 Duck Blind tickets for staff and spouses where it's an all you can drink (like Great Dane's Mallard Ale) and eat thoughout the game. We all had a pretty good time - it's a great employee event, as no one has to cook or manage anything.

June 14, 2007

Finally the mulch is gone

We've finally whittled that piles of rock, mulch and dirt down to nothing that were stock piled around our house since May 1. The oversized pile of dirt deposited in the front yard has left what looks like burn marks from a UFO, but grass is making a slow come back. Yeah...we can finally park cars in the driveway as the mulch has been distributed to the garden beds and the little colonial mini pepples have gone to the back patio.

June 7, 2007

Jewelry making

So I have gotten back into jewelry making lately after a several year hiatus. I love to find unique class and ceramic beads to make earrings to which I often include a swarovski crystal. I typically bend my own wire to make the earring and the head pin of the jewelery using 18 to 20 gauge half hard silver wire. This earring is one of my favorites as it catches the light and really shines. My new Pentax A20 camera gets some really nice close-ups.

June 5, 2007

German says auf wiedersehen to East High

After 40 years of German being offered at East, the administration has decided to cut it from next year's curriculum. No notice, no discussions, no options. Kids at East will now have a choice between French and Spanish. That's it. After many emails and telephone calls with the principal, there is not much to be done. Herr Brandl will move to West High where in addition to German there are four other foreign languages.

But I guess this makes sense, since West has always touted itself as an college prep school and East - well, not so much... And according to East Principal Al Harris in the most recent Tower Times newspaper article about the demise of German, Harris waxes poetic about the unique farming, nursing and aviation classes East offers it students. He goes on to say that East "has not seen itself as a college prep school". Well, that's news to thousands of East alumni like me that have taken AP and other advanced courses to prepare for university study.

Here's a thought: Maybe the Madison School District could let students pick the high school best suited for their future educational and/or work goals versus the current method of attendance area and street address.

So now, Raine has the option of continuing German at another high school but not actually transferring to that school while sacrificing/traveling one to two class periods each day to take the class. So that really isn't an option. But wait, the East Administration thinks that an on-line German class could have some merit (to be taken during study hall, receive partial credit and not actually partake in German conversation.) Nice options for East High Students.

Raine met with her guidance counselor and decided to take Spanish for her sophomore year. But she can't get into Spanish 1 because her schedule next year is tight with pre-calculus, engineering and chemistry classes (which sound kind of college preppy if you ask me). So as a final choice she decided to take the only language option left, French. Assuming that her three years of middle school French would get her a pass to French 2; we really weren't surprise to find out that that class was full and not an option. Her only choice left was French 1. Ah, c'est la vie!

The moral of my story - if you are thinking about moving to Madison WI - do not buy a house in the East attendance area if you want your university-bound children to get a college prep education. Move to the west side - that's what all the smart people do, right?

June 4, 2007

Driving the Keweenah Penisula

Wow, what a beautiful place. From flat lands to granite mountains to lake views that go for ever, the Keweenah is just beautiful. Tourism and outdoors activities are what you'll find now, but the past included heavy mining, forestry and manufacturing. Now that a majority of those resources have been extracted, all that's left is the natural beauty.
After stopping by the property, we continued forward around the pennisula and saw the amazing Lake Superior in all of her glory. Above is one of the many falls you'll see driving the high way. Nice picture of Teiko paying attention to Todd. (not that it happens all the time, but is nice to see....) This lake is so big that we decided that the word "lake" is not big enough to describe it

Gay Michigan visit

Left Beatons on Saturday and headed two hours further north to the Keweenah pennisula where Todd and friends have 60 odd acres of scrub land that conveniently holds a trailer (however no water or electricity) After hearing horror stories of this trailer for the past couple of years, I finally got the courage to check it out. It's definitely a trip... Actually, they guys have put a lot of work into cleaning the inside and it was quite habitable. Sorry, forgot to get pictures inside. THe outside area is all second/third generation growth. There are almost no old forest growth on this land - and since it was owned by forestry company previously that makes sense. The property is quite dense with trees, they just are not that tall and there are no pine trees, it's all birch and maple.

One of the highlights of this area is trip to the Gay Bar and Grill. That's right, the property is close by the Michigan city of Gay. It's basically a cross in the road by Lake Superior. We didn't make it into town on Saturday, choosing to cook out instead. But next time, I'll definitely check out the Gay Bar.

Cypripedium acaule Aiton

Or better known as Pink lady's slipper this is actually a North American orchid. We found this growing down on the shoreline at Beatons. As you know, I love orchids and finding one growing in its natural habitat is rewarding! I found a good description here

RW: June 21 - an article on the Guardian, about Britain's last lady slipper

Up North, heh!

Spent a nice long weekend in the U.P. (Upper Pennisula, MI). The weather was wonderful on Friday where we spent the day on Beatons Lake, taking pictures, throwing Teiko's frisbee and plotting out the future cabin based on the architectural drawings.

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