Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Bit Dated

We were over at my mother-in-law's house yesterday. The kids are undertaking a long, slow cleanup project to get their stuff out, and also to generally sift and winnow to get miscellaneous junk out. A worthy, and time consuming task.

While I do not have any stuff there of my own, I help as I can here and there. I was looking at the spice rack and found that whatever she had, she had two or three of it. These were by far the most interesting discovery.



Twenty-five cents? Just when did she buy that can of Allspice? I'm guessing it might not be fresh anymore.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Willy Street Fair

Madison's final summer festival - the Willy Street Fair - is a grand spectacle. It starts with a parade. A parade that anyone can be in. There is no theme except that it is colorful. Following the parade is an afternoon filled with music by some of Madison's best, and imports from far-flung places. People dance. People eat. But above all else, people laugh and smile.

Here are a few of my favorite pics from the day, and here is a link to a SLIDE SHOW of about 35 more.





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Sunday, September 26, 2010

They Walk Among Us


Who are these mysterious beings? Why are they here? Do they mean to harm us?



They are the Dragon Knights, visiting Madison, WI, for the World Music Festival and the Willy Street Fair. With their fabulous costumes and excellent role playing, the Dragon Knights are a fantastic fantastical addition to the event. They will be performing again this morning in the Willy Street Fair parade - at 11:00 - so get moving!

This weekend is filled with entertainment, and this SET OF PICTURES is sure to grow. Check back tomorrow for more!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Order Of Magnitude Badder Than The Beast


This bike is an order of magnitude badder than The Beast. At least my odometer rolling to 6666 thinks that is the case.

Some years ago I had a hankering for a particular sort of motorcycle. I was enamored of the cafe bike style but did not want an antique. I loved Honda's GB500 but hated the price. I mentioned it to Bill W. at Motorcycle Performance and he suggested I peek at their 500 cc single-cylinder road racer. I did, and was smitten. He suggested that I could have a similar bike built for the paltry sum of $5k. I hemmed and hawed and cleared it with Reena (mind you, I was not getting rid of any bikes, just adding another) then gave him the go ahead to start. Build time was about 5 months. It is badged as a "Rogue".

Pocket Rocket

What I ended up with was a really good back road scratcher with a very unique style. The chassis is (mostly) a 1990 Suzuki GS500. The engine is a worked 1979 Yamaha SR500 (making 52 42 RWHP versus a stock motor's 29), which also means it is kick-start only. These days that is probably the best anti-theft device around!

The bike has had its problems - mostly due to vibration from a solid-mounted big single - but it seems to be mostly sorted out this year and has been pretty reliable as a toy. It needs a new weld on the exhaust bracket (safety wire is doing the job now) and a new rear tire come spring.


What a beauty, eh? This is my idea of what a cafe racer would look like if people were not still focused on old school examples. Well, at this point I have to say it is my vision of what a mid-90's cafe racer would look like.

A few other details:
- tail section is from Airtech
- fairing is from a Yamaha YSR50 and highly modified
- forks and inner workings came from some GSX-R model and was in fact the original front end from the very road racer I looked at as an example.
- custom exhaust pipe with Jet Hot coating
- Vance and Hines SS2R muffler
- House of Kolor "Sherwood Forest Green" paint.

I made this faux advertisement out of the above road shot. What do you think?

Rogue Faux Ad
Faux Rogue Ad
Better if Viewed LARGE On Black

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Monday, September 20, 2010

...a splash of almost-fall color.

No story. No rant. No witty repartee. Just a splash of almost-fall color to share.

Rainbow Chard Stalks

Closing Time for the Morning Glories

(UPDATE) I decided to add a couple more that fit the bill...

Hardy Rose

Yellow Hosta and Fallen Leaves

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Riding - and Playing - the Drive

I just realized that I never posted anything about "Ride the Drive". "RIDE THE DRIVE is a celebration of Madison’s commitment to healthy, active lifestyles. This community event is an invitation for all citizens to leave their cars behind to experience some of Madison’s most scenic byways a whole new way - by riding, walking, skating, or strolling along some of our city’s most beautiful streets."


It is a pretty big deal. Many come out and enjoy the fact that they can ride, skate, or walk along city streets for a few hours and not have to deal with cars. There are a lot of car drivers that get frustrated with the closed streets, but I do not have much sympathy for them as the route is well advertised.

Interestingly, the City offers small grants to entertainers to perform along the route. It is not much money, especially if spread among 5-6 members of a band, but it does make the afternoon more entertaining for those who are participating. Reena and her band, al Khemia, set up quite a spread under the Monona Terrace overpass and invited belly dancers to move to their grooves. Numerous passers-by stopped to listen and watch, while others simply blew past.

Ride The Drive in Madison (DS3_4723)

I had trapeze class (in the tree at Orton - a special treat) to attend so I did not ride the drive other than to get these photos and I am sorry I missed the opportunity. There are more photos here in a SLIDE SHOW so you can enjoy them in a yummier large size.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

The Dude(ette) Abides

Well after four full days at Chez Nataraj et Reena, new-to-us kitty Nala seems to be settling in. After a couple of days of anxiously exploring the house and not eating much, she now appears to be pretty comfortable.


We have been giving her a lot of space to cope as needed, interrupted by bouts of as much attention and petting as she wants. She is no longer flinching at every sound (even airplanes and Air Force jets overhead) and scurrying off to hide. She didn't seem to like being picked up, and I like picking up kitties, so we are learning each other. Last night I picked her up and sat her on my lap, facing away so she was free to jump down. She did. A bit later when she came back, I picked her up and leaned back, settling her on my stomach and chest. She relaxed immediately and spent nearly an hour in my lap, falling into a deep REM sleep. The training of the human continues, slowly but surely.


Today she met our neighbors, our go-to choice for cat sitters. Nala was cordial and friendly, approaching them and allowing some attention. That's good, because we are going to need them to cat-watch in a while.

The exploration of food continues as well. Hunger solved some of the finickiness as did a little experimentation with wet food. The aforementioned neighbors donated a serving or two of their cat's nuggets to try, and Nala actually ate some. We shall see later tonight if it is worth buying a bag. Strangely, she did not like the expensive, high-quality dry food we bought. That is not all bad, of course. Ah, as I type, she walked over and is nibbling some more of the kibble. Now if they could only remember what the food is! Their cat has ceased to eat it so the bag is long gone and only the tail end remains in their on-counter container.

All seems to be proceeding well and I think we will all get along famously. I look forward to this learning process in a really genuine way. I am continually fascinated by cats and enjoy the process of meeting them on their own unique terms.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010


Every once in a while I get to snap a photo or two of friends when they are totally in their element and manage to capture a bit of the 'je ne sais quoi' - the undefinable inner essence that makes them interesting or alluring. Very little pleases me more than that experience.

The Inimitable KR
The inimitable Kelly

Often I recognize it the moment the shutter trips. I simply know I got exactly the right image in that moment. There is that inner-Dilbert moment of a quiet celebratory fist-pump of victory. Yesss!

Sloe-eyed Stef

These two are recent, and images I find I keep going back to. I thought I would share them with you. Each of them is a capture of how my mind sees the person, and I consider them satisfying portraits.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Madison Rocks - Reason #1058


There are a lot of reasons to like Madison, and there are many interesting and unique things about the city. This week's favorite for me is that on the grounds of the state capitol here, there is a vegetable garden.


Perhaps even more to the point, the produce from said garden is not constrained to a garbage bin, or even a compost heap, due to asinine regulations. Instead, all the bounty of this small garden is donated to a local community center's food pantry where it goes directly and promptly to needy families.


Brilliant, no? It's a new thing this year and the plot is small. But it is a space that was used previously for EXPENSIVE tulips. It is right along the walkway for Madison's huge Farmer's Market each Saturday morning so it sends a positive, can do message to all who pass by. I hope they expand the concept next year. There is a lot of lawn around the capitol that could be utilized...

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our New Feline Companion

After nearly three months without a cat in our lives - a true hardship for me - we have a new feline companion. Her existing name is Nala, which an online baby name book tells me is Tanzanian for "Queen".

Nala - Age 4-1/2

When we were at the Dane County Humane Society we looked at a handful of cats. We had already figured out that after three males, we were interested in a female, and not a kitten. That narrowed the search a bit. We were in one of their cage rooms when I noticed a towel-covered cage with a kitty meowing and sticking its nose out. Wondering if it was mildly quarantined, I peeked under the shroud to see who was in there. The cat was a big, beautiful domestic medium hair who was having a hard time adjusting to her life at the shelter. Her owners had to surrender her because they couldn't take her to the new apartment. She was quite skittish, trying desperately to hide in a small box in a smallish cage. We had lots of time, so we simply opened her cage door and ignored her. She was willing eventually to be scritched, and CLEARLY enjoyed it. Eventually we had her brought out to roam in the room and she immediately sought a more confined location (but not too hidden). We spent nearly an hour with her and she became increasingly relaxed and interested in interacting with us. We decided to take her.

Nala - Age 4-1/2
OK to pet from nose to tail

We confined her to our guest bedroom and attached half-bath with food, water, a litter box and left her alone for a couple of hours. Late in the evening we grabbed books and drinks and settled in the room with her. Pretty quickly she came out and jumped up on the bed to be pet. Still timid and skittish, she frequently retreated to under the bed, but ventured out with increasing boldness every few minutes. Whimsically, we decided to sleep on the guest bed and several times during the night she joined us and cuddled for a while before retreating to a "safe" place.

It's now morning and she has access to both bedrooms and the half-bath. She got a bunch of interaction this morning and is now getting another break from our attention. She is very active and curious, eager to explore the rest of the house. She has used the litter box (good kitty!) but not eaten any noticeable amount of food. If she hasn't eaten by this afternoon, we'll try a dollop of wet food to encourage her.

She loves to be pet, doesn't mind being held (much), and is relaxing visibly as the hours pass. I think we will all do fine.

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Still Summer

Despite the abrupt turn in our temperatures (falling 15 degrees in about 4 hours one day about a week ago), we are still having daytime temperatures in the low-to-mid 70's (F) and if there is no wind it is just delightful. On Sunday I went to watch the leaders of the bicycle portion of the Madison Ironman competition hit the finish line. Since the finish line was at Law Park, on the shores of Lake Monona and along the most active part of the city's bike/pedestrian path, there were a lot of people out enjoying the day.


Doing the crossword in the sun seemed just the thing for this young woman. She was dressed for running, so I wondered if she was having a luxurious break in the middle of her run? Regardless, she nicely illustrated the vibe of the day and so I grabbed the image to share.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Best. Party. Ever.

I am not yet finished blogging about the party from last weekend. It is truly a remarkable party, not least because it runs non-stop from Saturday afternoon until Monday afternoon. And not just because there are a generous handful of chefs who love to feed the entire party with truly spectacular food, and thirty-plus half barrels of beer to wash it down with. Those are fantastic things. In addition to those things is the preponderance of really talented musicians.


If memory serves, there are no less than EIGHT musical acts represented, some in toto and with just one or two members. During the nighttime hours, musical magic happens in the form of extended performances with musicians dropping in and out.


The rest of the party responds appropriately, dancing like madmen/women or simply groovin' to the tunes as the spirit moves them. Me? I'm a dancer! But I'm also the guy with the camera, so no dancing fool pics of me this time.


The long, beer-soaked days make for a sort of surreal perspective, and I tried to let my camera capture what my soul experienced. What a great party!

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Friday, September 10, 2010


There is something delightful about camping in the north woods with a bunch of friends. It is relaxing at a deep level. Add a bunch of good beer into the mix and it gets even better. But the environment is the root of it all. A bunch of friends and beer in a crappy place is nothing special. But in the right place, Ahhh!

The right place:


NOW add in good food, lovingly prepared, and you get the makings of a fine party!



The end result - for me - was a very happy Nataraj!



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Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Little Burlesque

I was at an extended party over the holiday weekend. While much goes on at the party, the primary focus is on beer. Good beer. Lots of beer. And over the course of the weekend there is a variety show. No one claims it as a "talent show", merely a variety show. Every once in a while though, someone pulls off a pretty talented act. This year there were several.


One such was a burlesque strip tease. It was well done, and enthusiastic. The crowd enjoyed it.


The rest of the small set is worth looking at. Enjoy the SLIDE SHOW!

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