For the last several years, ever since my friend Carl gave up hosting the local New Year's party I enjoyed, I've been going up to Milwaukee for New Year's, but until this year it was just an overnight visit. This year, though, I decided to take a couple of extra days and do a little more.
I was planning on going up to Milwaukee on Friday, and chaoticgoodchic just happened to be hosting a dinner party in Mt. Prospect on Friday, so I decided to time my trip so that I could be there for that. My Friday was a little messier than it might have been, thanks to a scheduling snafu with the vet, but Meg is healthy, and thanks to birder2 taking her home again, I was able to get on the road in time. chaoticgoodchic had a work emergency that made her late for her own party, but maverick_weirdo who was visiting welcomed guests, and a good time was had by all, including almeda, born_to_me, gundo, anach, jerusha, exapno, janmagic, et al. I couldn't stay very late since I still had to drive up to Milwaukee, but I got introduced to Apples to Apples, exchanged many hugs, and had a good start to the weekend.
I made it up to the home of Art WINOLJ who was my host for the weekend around 11. He gave me a totally awesome photo book about big cats; I should have more to say about it later. I feel lame that I only gave him the EFRC calendar this year.
Saturday we spend the day at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Art has been trying to convince me to join him at the MPM for as long as I've known him, but I haven't managed to do it yet. If he'd told me years earlier that they have a walk-in live butterfly exhibit, I would have found a way to do it sooner. When we got to the museum, we discovered that the most interesting (to me at least) IMAX movie was showing in just a few minutes, so we started our day with Aliens of the Deep, a James Cameron production about deep sea vents and the weird and wonderful life there. Then, after a museum cafeteria lunch, we visited the butterflies -- live butterflies at New Year's, what could be better? -- saw pretty much all of the rest of the museum, though mostly at a sprint, then spent a few more minutes with the butterflies before they shooed us out to close up. One of the non-living displays in the regular museum told us how Heliconia butterflies roost for the night, and we actually got to see them doing it on our parting visit. Art has been doing models for a long time, probably as long as I've been alive, and he is extremely interested in the craft of the dioramas at the museum. I am much more interested in the animals themselves, but some of the displays are extremely well done.
After the museum we did another thing that Art has been trying to get me to do for as long as I've been coming to Milwaukee. We had dinner at Karl Ratzsch's, a German restaurant. I believe it was the most expensive meal for two I have ever paid for, but with the exception of the alcohol, I cannot say it was overpriced. An appetizer called Oktoberfest Strudel, a combination of meats wrapped in phyllo dough smothered in a sauce that might be called gravy except that it was much tastier (and I like gravy), followed by a main course of Sauerbraten, which is sort of like pot roast the way a good 70% cacao dark chocolate bar is sort of like a remaindered chocolate rabbit from last Easter), and an apple strudel which was certainly good but was the creation of mere mortal humans.
We finished off Saturday evening with a housefilk at Todd's, which was fun and convivial, though the most remarkable thing about that visit was not the music, but Rocket, a 1 year old Australian Shepherd who started out the evening nervous about me and barking at me because he didn't think I should be in his house and ended up the evening barking at me because I wasn't playing with him enough.
Sunday we had lunch at a sub place called Suburpia that Art recommended, a little pricy but certainly good sandwiches, distinguished by their use of a seasoned olive oil dressing, and drove down to Valley of the Kings. Despite the weather (it was drizzling until halfway through our tour), we actually saw most of the cats and had a reasonably good time, though an excellent time is not allowed under the current interpretation of USDA rules, and I picked up the 2007 calendar. We then returned to Art's house, switched cars, and drove downtown for dinner at Thai Palace. Chicken Panang curry really hit the spot for me, although I had a little digestive trouble overnight that I fear was because my curry was hotter than my guts wanted, though my mouth thought it was quite good.
All of this lead up to the main event, the New Year's Eve party at Lytheria. Lytheria is a fannish rooming house, and the owner Lee puts on two annual parties which are The Place To Be. One is Halloween, which I almost never make it to because (a) there's too much other stuff going on at that time of year and (b) even though costumes are not required, I always feel lame going to a Halloween party without one; the other is New Year's. I got to see most of the Milwaukee folks I know, along with bunches that I don't, and we got some more pretty good filking in. I was frustrated because one of the regular attractions at this party is Lee's annual compilation of amusing commercials. He ran the thing later than usual, after the filk had started, which cut out an hour of filking. I have watched the commercials in some past years and they often are amusing, but I actually thought about it a bit and realized that celebrating commercials was just not something I could tolerate. I had a couple of unsatisfying conversations with people to whom I tried to explain why I didn't approve of commercials, and I spent a little time at the pool table shattering any illusions I might have had that I can aspire to mediocrity at pool. The moment of transition to 2007 was celebrated with champagne (inside) and a Mentos-and-diet-Coke fountain on the sidewalk outside. It occurs to me to wonder how a Mentos-and-champagne fountain would work. A couple more hours of filking, and then an unfortunate delay of almost an hour and a half between the end of filking and actually getting to bed, but it was a fine party to cap a fine weekend.
Monday we had lunch at Athens restaurant, which is a decent "family restaurant" place which includes a few Greek dishes on the menu but is otherwise fairly generic. Many restaurants are closed on New Year's Day. It was a quarter after two before I finally got rolling, but I actually pulled into birder2's driveway at 5:55.
It's good to be able to spend time with friends having fun and experiencing cool things. A fine holiday, one that made me feel like there are some people who like having me around. I wish they didn't live so far away.