Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Brief Getaway from Madison

I've decided it is best to keep the political situation that is happening here to myself and not publicize my opinion on my blog.

It is very close to home, physically and literally. For me, there is no way to avoid the news anchors as they film live coverage, the chants and the feeling of what "democracy looks like."

It feels good. Let's put it that way. These are peaceful protests, as I am sure you know by now.

For Christmas in 2009, I gave my boyfriend a bed and breakfast gift certificate. He decided to use it at an Inn near Milwaukee in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

After a charity evening at the Madison Club on Friday night, we packed our bags and left the "biggest rally" down the road from my condo to hightail it towards this quaint town of Cedarburg, not far from Milwaukee.

Supposedly there is a zoning law on the main drag that only permits independent businesses. My two favorite stores were Lillies Goods and their other store, Weeds, owned by the same people. If you are looking for a nice gift, I recommend either place. After walking around the Cedarburg winery & shops, we sampled a few wines (Cedarburg's wine is the "sister" to Wollersheim) and checked in at the Washington Inn.

Walking around the little shops, we were told that our Inn has a 5:00 wine and cheese hour (of course, we had read about it online), and we made sure to be there promptly for our free wine and "spread" hour. But first, we settled into a huge jetted tub that is inside the room and warmed up from a day of non-stop fluffy snow. It was so relaxing. After sweating and trying to cool off from this luxurious tub, we enjoyed the snacks in the dining room. We had unlimited wine and cheese spreads, crackers and grapes. The room was mainly full of other couples besides one older woman. There were just enough tables so that we didn't have to sit with strangers.

We then walked over to Anvil, a former blacksmith shop with neat concrete walls and a two story dining room. It felt cozy and special, though. Even though it is two stories, it had a warm feel to it. We saw about three other couples from our Inn and pretended like we didn't see them (just kidding). As we sat at the bar, waiting for a table, the couple next to us chatted us up and we ended up next to them when we were seated.

A friend, Taylor, recently got me hooked on Old Fashions, so I ordered one while we waited. Old Fashions are very popular in Wisconsin. And tasty.

Our food was pretty good. We had veggie burgers. I thought it was tasty. Nothing incredibly special. We then walked down towards the Inn and I stopped in a chocolate place where I had a delicious milk chocolate turtle that was pretty special.

We then sat in the whirlpool tub and I was asleep by 10 PM. The best part of the stay was when we got breakfast in bed in the morning. I think that is the first time I spent an hour in bed, drinking coffee, eating fruit, enjoying my book. (without a starving golden retriever begging for food by my side).

I was also able to finish my 562 page book this weekend. It was so relaxing. Cedarburg is a special place. We plan to go back.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Democracy in Action on the Capital

I am always hesitant to blog about politics but there is no way out of this one. As I often discuss the square, let me tell you what is looks like today. (See photo) If you aren't a local or haven't noticed us in the "Times," , it is a pretty heavy and stressful time in the land of "Progressive Madison."

A radical move to take away bargaining rights, force public workers to pay more into their benefits, and taking major cuts within schools and governments is just the tip of the iceberg.

And without giving my personal opinion, I will say that I am truly moved every time I walk around the square. On a normal winter day, I look into the windows of eateries and banks.

And now, it is thousands of protesters. A normal walk with my dog is becoming a historical moment. The progressive Madisonians and beyond are chanting various versions of "Walker is evil. He's no Badger." Other variations are "Walker is a weasel. Go home." Weasel or Evil, public employees, teachers, multitudes of union workers, and even toddlers are all over the capital with their signs.

Some people are walking up to the square with pillows and sleeping bags. I am guessing this is a 1960s type of situation. Will it make a difference as this proposed budget bill is aggressively trying to be pushed through legislation? What does this mean to me?

Well - again, I digress and I really don't feel like I can get into it (after all, this blog has my true identity and I am really "Janie Winston").

I will just say that I am moved by all of the people. Madison schools were closed today while all of the teachers were on the square protesting.

And here's another thought - all the local commerce down town is booming right now. Hotels look busy with protesters who want to stay down here, coffee shops are busier than usual and the restaurants and shops around the square are probably doing as well as they do on the Ironman weekend, Badger home games, and the such.

Maybe we need to do this more often. And, if the Egyptians could do it with Mubarak, maybe we can do it with Walker.

I made it without ranting. Let's just say we can agree to disagree.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Are You Doing to Conserve Energy?

I was in the shower last week when I read the side of my conditioner bottle. It said something like: “Please consider turning off the water while you condition your hair.” So, I thought about this. This is something I never thought to do before. I mentioned it to my boyfriend, Chris. He said he’s heard of it. So I said, “I am going to try it. I am going to turn off my water while I wash my hair and condition it. You don’t really need all that water.”

Today was the third morning in a row where I turned off my shower while lathering, shampooing, conditioning and shaving. And, I feel really good about it.

It’s the little stuff that makes life exciting.

I am conscious of turning off the water while scrubbing my hands, brushing my teeth and now, showering.

Tell me what you are doing to save money and the environment. And also – I challenge all of my readers. Please, please if just one of you tells me that you tried turning off the water in your shower while you washed your hair, you will make my week.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snoop Dogg in Madison

We had the "blizzard of 2011" and Snoop Dogg performed that night. The storm picked up around 5 PM on Tuesday, February 1st and by the time I woke up in the morning, the snow had stopped but there was a lot of it.

Walking to the show at the Orpheum, I knew it was not canceled and I was as excited as a kid in a candy store (no exageration). It was breezy, windy and snowy, but a short walk for me.

The show was scheduled to start at 8 PM. Christopher and I went to dinner next door at the Icon. We claimed our seats after dinner and had a beer. These weird dudes came out around 9 or so and sang a few songs, mostly about Madison. One of the guys didn't rap at all. He just walked around the stage and drank a beer. The other two did all the rapping. I am unclear on who the third dude was and why he was up on the stage at all.

Security was busy escorting drunks out and kicking people out of the aisles like they always do. While the marajuana smoke was thick, it is never addressed.

Back in the bathroom line for the second time, rumors were flying. Perhaps Warren G would make a guest appearance (that was my annoncement) while other people were trying to figure out where Snoop was and why it was taking so long. He might not come out until 11:30, said one girl.

While everyone waited for Snoop back up in the theater, Snoop videos were playing and people "booed" in between each song, disappointed that Snoop wasn't coming out. Finally, his emcee guy announced that Snoop was coming out any minute. "He's just finishing a blunt back stage."

Snoop came out in his hoodie and long hair and here's what he did, if I can recall names of songs:

Gin and Juice (very exciting!)
187 (I think)
That's That (I think)
Drop It Like It's Hot
I wanna Love You (I was so excited. I love AKON. However, he switched gears right in that verse about the pole dancing and he's watching, "bird eye view"....)
Sexual Eruption (Also very excited when this came on. He sernaded some girls from the audience who have Snoop tatoos)
Regulator (Warren G made his surprise guest appearance! I was right! The rumor I spread in the bathroom was true. Ironically, I had seen Warren G live at the Majestic in '09).
Jump Around
What's My Name

That's all I can remember. I will try to get some photos from my phone on here. It was a great show. He was only up there for an hour.

Madison is not known for being very diverse and I would say caucasians made up about 90% of the crowd. It was a sold out show and even with the blizzard, it was full. I heard some people got hotels near by.

I forgot my camera when I explored the aftermath of the 2011 blizzard the next day, but it's nothing you haven't all seen on your friend's facebook statuses, the national news, or your newspapers. It was a beautiful, sunny day with very deep snow. And it couldn't have worked out more perfectly. Because I got to sleep in and have a snow day after the S-N-double-O-P show.