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We’re in the middle of Third Winter here in the North Woods.  It just keeps staying cold.  And it’s April!!  But we see more snow in the forecast in the coming week…

We did get a brief respite from the cold with a trip to Indiana last month.  It was a Birthday Fest and we partied til we dropped.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Dan and I decided that we’d break up the trip by stopping in Wisconsin for a quick overnight on the way down and the way up.  This made the trip so much easier on the body.  But it also made it more enjoyable for the soul!

On the way down, we were going to stop in Eau Claire.  But I noticed on FB that Stewart Huff was going to be in Madison the very night we were travelling through!  SO AWESOME!!!  Wait.  You don’t know Stewart Huff?  Oh, Lord, you NEED to!

Dan and I met Stewart at the Indy Fringe in… heck, maybe 2011 or 2012.  Anyway, I think the show was titled Uncle Baby Daddy and we thought that sounded fun.  And boy, was it.  Stewart comes on stage and, when you’re living with the Yankee bias that I do, you hear his southern accent and think, “Uh-oh.  This might suck.”  But you stay and you realize… that he’s BRILLIANT!  [We tell him he is the Smartest Hillbilly we know.]  If you EVER get a chance to see him.  Go.  Do not hesitate.  Just Go.  Seriously.  GO.

So when I saw his Madison show coincided with our trip south through Wisconsin, we were ON IT.  I contacted the venue because you couldn’t get tickets online.  The response was basically that they are first come-first serve, day of the event. So I told the guy we were driving eight hours and REALLY needed to be at the show, if he could help us out… (plus, I mentioned that it was my birthday week – can’t hurt!) Well Al Rasho who runs the North Street Cabaret hooked us up.  He was super awesome and we will definitely go back to this venue if in Madison again.  They have a small space but they fill it with great drinks & fresh, local food (heck, it’s Madison, People), along with great entertainment.  Give them a try if you’re in the neighborhood.

The show opened with newcomer to comedy, Allie Lindsay and I have to tell you, a tag line in her show has become a tag line in Dan’s life.  She gave us a great gift with her fart jokes that night.  And Nick Hart was amazing too.  IN a short set, he conveyed a story that linked McFast McFood, cocaine, and scallions.  It was phenomenal.

Since the first show where we saw Stewart, I’ve had this thing of sharing treats with him.  We were snacking on Freaky Fritos as he prepped for the Indy show as I recall and we offered him some.  He loved them.  So now, every time we see him, I bring him treats.  For this trip, I made him an ice cream bucket of Freaky Fritos, or as we call it “Krack”.  He was stoked!  [“This is ALL for me?”  He was incredulous.]  And he made me feel so special.  Like, I don’t know how many people this dude must meet but he really remembered me and Dan.  At the end of the night, after an amazing show full of laughs and even a few tears – cause Stewart speaks from the heart – he’s super smart and makes you think about stuff, often in a compassionate way so, yes, I cried – he asked Al if he could have a few more minutes… to tell a story that he recalled was my favorite from our days in Indiana.  How nice is that???  And then he told the Penguin Story.  Perfect night.

On we head to Indiana and it was SO GREAT to see friends and family.  Even though we planned an extra long stay – a whole week – it was not long enough to see but a few folks.  But we really enjoyed the warm-up and the green grass.  And it was Birthday Fest!  First was Steph and Chris, then me, and then Rookie.

Fran and I started with Chris – which, of course, involved CRAFTING!

I so miss my Crafty Ladies – Jackie and Shayla joined us today too!! – so we made some cards with really shiny embossing powder embellishments.  Chris’ cards are always so much better than mine but I enjoyed learning the process and I very likely will be doing more embossing powder, now that I’ve hung out with it for a while.  Crafts are kind of like that.  When I get a taste of one, I like to hang with it for a while and play.  We also had a lovely meal at the IHOP (Near Ft. Ben on 56th) – nice staff and good food (except the chicken wraps – don’t get the chicken wraps).  I had the corned beef omelet and it was smashing.  BTW, if you’re GF, be sure you tell them NO PANCAKE BATTER in your eggs – this is a normal thing they do apparently at IHOP.

So Steph’s Birthday required a do-over due to stress and overwhelm on the first one, but… Hey, we’re up for another party any day!  For her second birthday, I made the Red Wattle Ham that Merry Gardens had given us and, WOW, was it delicious.  I told Farmer Randy, “It’s like a total different kind of food!”  It was melt in your mouth delicious and, as it was accompanied by organic mashed potatoes, also from MGF, it was a big hit with Steph.

The next birthday was ME!!  Dan had a BIG PLAN that he’d been working on for weeks.  He’d organized a team of people to contribute to a BIG birthday surprise for me and it was Wonderful.  I especially loved the card from Tommy.  Sometimes you wonder, as a parent of a grown child, just how much and what they might think of you.  Well, I felt super special after reading his card.  It was lovely.  And made me cry.

We had a beautiful sunny day to go to City Market where Dan got his hair cut at Jack’s Barber Shop – you simply MUST go for the cut-and-a-show.  Brenda is a RIOT and if you don’t gather a few laughs while you’re getting handsome (or beautiful, as the case may be), it’s your own damn fault.  We had a bite of lunch with Steph and then headed to Fran and Ed’s where we REALLY Enjoyed sitting on the warm, sunny porch!  So beautiful.  And such a nice thing to be in that space again – a place full of so many fun times and good memories.  One of the hardest things about leaving Indy was knowing it meant not seeing Fran and Ed every couple days…

But today was a HAPPY DAY!  We had cake – yummy GF cake – Fran, you are TOO GOOD to me!!  And GIFTS!  The man really outdid himself with his Team of Birthday.  He and Tom actually had a code name for this venture so they wouldn’t have me catch them in their planning – though I remained oblivious throughout.

Then the BIG Party happened.  Little Rookie turned Three!!  And it was a whole Boss Baby thing.  He looked dashing in his Boss Baby Suit and I hope he liked the Boss Baby and (brother) Tim puppets that Connie, Char and I made for him as much as I enjoyed making them for him.  That was a real project but the three of us made it happen and I think they turned out real nice.

We were also able to catch up with friends Jill and Markus and that was super fun.  Dan got to check off a Bucket List item as we ate at Wheatley’s.  It’s kind of funny about the name.  I ordered bacon and eggs there, as well as some hash browns that the serving lady advised against… “Everything we have has Gluten in it.  I wouldn’t risk it.”  […to which I replied, “even those eggs and bacon?  they have gluten?” Seriously lady… you’re ignorant.]  But seeing the Robinsons was wonderful and it was good to hear about how grown the kids are now.

I guess the birthdays do start to pile up faster each year now.  But it sure was nice to have such a great trip full of birthday fun.

Oh, the place we stayed on the way home was an AirBnB in Eau Claire that we HIGHLY recommend.  We were their second hosting and these two Tech School Instructors were great fun.  We chatted up the evening and Kristi noted that she thought, on seeing our names, that we might be their first lesbian couple! When I told Dan later (as he’d stayed in nap mode after all that driving, his response was, “I’m a lesbian.” 😀  So I guess they CAN say we were their first lesbian couple. Anyhow, their place is comfy & cozy, fun, and quiet.  We got a great deal being one of their first stays – less than $25 as I recall – but they are worth the visit no matter the cost.  Check them out.

See you next week!!!