Prelude to an afternoon with a fawn

On my trek to Trek this afternoon, I came across a fawn standing at the side of the road, looking straight at me and standing stock still. When I greeted it, it turned and ran off. Maybe it was hoping it was invisible until it realized it wasn’t.

It turned and bounded up the road. I was waiting to see if it would turn right and run to safety or, like the last deer I met, cross in front of me. I had one eye out for a parent, as this one seemed too young to be alone.

It didn’t turn either direction, but continued on about 100 feet ahead of me, frequently turning to look, as though it wanted to be sure I was still following. We came to a farm and it turned right and bounced away. About 100 feet into the yard it stopped, turned, and watched me ride by. It seemed curious and timid in equal measure. Fawns are like Tiggers, they’re pretty bouncy.

I rode past the world headquarters of Trek Bicycles. If you own a very old Trek or a Madone, it was conceived and born here. The factory itself is just behind this building. Most other Treks were conceived here but born in China. I applied for a job here about 40 years ago. That’s a story of more interest to me than to you, so I’ll spare you.

It was a frabjous day for a bike ride. Warm, breezy, the humidity just starting to come up. I did way too much thinking and not enough enjoying the scenery. It took miles to get that out of my system. The fawn helped. I started from a park in Marshall that usually has a softball game going on when I’m there. Not this year. One family with a yappy dog was picnicking while I enjoyed my post-ride beer.

Call and response

is not new in the musical world. It has been around in many types of music for centuries. (Without call and response, jazz and gospel would not be what they are.) Typically it involves a call from a soloist and a response from the chorus. What I’m thinking of today is a call from one artist and another answering in a later recording. The first example I remember hearing was Hank Thompson and Kitty Wells. (Both songs are in the same YouTube video below.)

The great Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell did their call and response in the same song. They were mostly love songs. Otis Redding and Carla Thomas turned that on its ear in a way that I have to include even if it doesn’t exactly fit:

Merle Haggard put out his call to arms with “Okie from Muskogee” (though his smirk in this video makes you wonder if he still believed it) and The Youngbloods answered with “Hippie from Olema #5”, with a nod to Haggard in the last run of the chorus:

Neil Young challenged southern racism with “Southern Man”. Lynyrd Skynyrd seemed to take it personally and answered with “Sweet Home Alabama”, calling out Young by name:

Lynyrd Skynyrd appears to have used the Confederate flag in its marketing as recently as 2018, though more recent iconography appears to emphasize the US flag.

A different sort of example… Paul Desmond wrote “Take Five” (a way of saying “take a break”, but in this case also a reference to being written in 5/4 time) for the Dave Brubeck Quartet . Quicksilver Messenger Service took the motif (and some acid) and changed the time signature to create “Acapulco Gold and Silver” (changed to “Gold and Silver” by the record company).

Who else released pairs of songs like these? Post links in the comments.


Epic Systems announced that they would require staff to return to work on site despite a county emergency order indicating that workers should work remotely if possible. Epic stated that they were “facilitating remote work by requiring staff to work in the office, but allowing them to work alone in their office”. County Executive Joe Parisi had this to say about Epic’s definition of “remote”:

The forced return has been postponed.

I’m going for a bike ride after my day of working remotely. By “remote” I mean in patient’s hospital rooms instead of in the office that I share with a bunch of people.

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” (Lewis Carroll – “Alice in Wonderland”)


The Roxbury Tavern to Crystal and Fish Lakes is a long-time favorite loop. It works better on a kayak than a bike this year.

Photo by Pam Fornell

Notice the speed limit sign just right of center. This is a road. A detour was required for the ride this week.

The Roxbury Tavern was not your typical country roadhouse. When Tom took it over, he wanted to change the atmosphere and the clientele. He banned smoking, back when banning smoking in a bar was like banning singing in church. He threw out the TV sets, the juke box, and the pool table. He wanted people to sit at tables, eat, talk, and drink, probably in that order. When the kitchen closed, the bar closed and he went home. It closed earlier than any bar I’ve seen.

On tap was Esser’s Best, from nearby Cross Plains. Bud Light and Miller Lite were gone. He served Sunday brunch, with live bluegrass on the back porch. He had nightly specials – his pasta night, with Italian sausage and garlic bread was a favorite (and it was on Wednesday nights, when we ride). He made his own spiced ketchups and served homemade pickled vegetables as appetizers. Burgers and fries were still available, and better with garlic ketchup.

If we stopped for dinner after a ride, we called ahead so Tom knew he’d have a bigger crowd and keep extra staff on hand. He didn’t like surprises. Tom has retired and I haven’t been inside the place since the new owners took over. I’m kind of afraid to, wondering if it looks like a typical country roadhouse again. When the new owners took over, the headline on the newspaper story said “New owners… trade tradition for game day crowds”. They brought back the TV, juke box, and pool table.

P.S. I forgot to mention the car that played chicken with me that evening. I was riding down a flat, straight, open stretch of road when an oncoming small black sedan drifted into my lane. I was riding as close to the edge of the road as a I could. I thought about dismounting and running off the road. I checked the edge and saw that it was grassy and level so I could escape on the bike if necessary. We made eye contact and the driver continued to aim for me. She was clearly not on her phone or distracted. Her left wheels were about three feet off the edge of the pavement. If she kept going straight I would survive. If she swerved further left, I’d head off road or die. I didn’t think she really wanted to kill me, just intimidate me. Just in time, she eased back into her own lane – late enough for intimidation, early enough for it to be a smooth move. I guess you could say, as a game of chicken, I won. It did not feel like a victory. My pants stayed dry.

Madison Blues

A Republican governor once called Madison, WI “30 square miles surrounded by reality”. Thirty five years later the mayor proposed that as the city’s motto, updated to “77 square miles” because the city had grown. The city council rejected it by a single vote.

The council did, however, adopt the plastic pink flamingo as the official city bird in 2009. The pink flamingo became important to the city thanks to the Pail and Shovel Party, which ran for, and took over, the student government at the University of Wisconsin in 1978. The party got its name from a campaign promise. The student government controlled a large chunk of student fees. They promised to turn those fees into pennies and dump them into a campus fountain. Each student would be issued a pail and shovel and be welcome to whatever segment of those fees they could get into their pail. They failed to keep that promise, though they did keep their promise to bring the Statue of Liberty to Madison. Unfortunately, it sunk. (Image from They also placed 1008 plastic pink flamingos on Bascom Hill one night.

Morning of September 4, 1979 at Bascom Hall, 1979
Photo by Michael Kienitz

San Francisco has its 49 Mile Scenic Drive (which fits with their 49er theme). I decided it was time for a 77 Mile Square – 77 miles of that “reality” that surrounds Madison. The plan was to start at my front door (which is why I won’t share the route, in its entirety, with you), and then get quickly out of town and ride a (more or less) square route in the reality surrounding it.

The first iteration failed to get me completely out of town. The west side has grown tremendously and I found myself riding on the very unpleasant Pleasant View Road. The route needed some tweaking. Pleasant View was a nice road back in 1978 when the motto was “30 square miles surrounded by reality”; not anymore. The second attempt was a good ride, but too short. For the third version, I’m including an outline of the route as a loop – you can essentially start anywhere, and then I don’t show you my house. The length varies depending on how long it takes you to get to the loop. Don’t drive…that would miss the point. Here is a map approximation. Cue sheet on request. So far, mileages are not recorded. Maybe I’ll bring a pencil next time and write them in. Not quite a square; but then again, the city isn’t, either – being oriented northeast to southwest along an isthmus. The bulge in the northeast corner is to get around a shopping mall, an airport, and a marsh. Maybe it still needs work. Oh well, I’ll have to ride some more..;)

(Part of) Epic Systems from Northern Lights Road

Dancing at Lughnasa

We generally acknowledge 7 of the 8 major solar holidays. The current one gets short shrift. Since today’s ride is in celebration of the holiday, the midpoint of summer, it gets a little ink.
Autumnal Equinox – when day and night are of equal length
Samhain/Hallowe’en/Day of the Dead/All Saints Day – halfway to the winter solstice
Winter Solstice/Christmas – Shortest day of the year
Imbolc/Groundhog Day/Candlemas – halfway to vernal equinox
Vernal Equinox/St. Patrick’s Day/Ostara/Easter – day and night are of equal length
Beltane/Mayday – halfway to the summer solstice
Summer Solstice/Midsummer’s Night – longest day of the year
Lughnasa – halfway to autumnal equinox (Why this is not called midsummer’s night I don’t understand, as it comes in the middle of summer. “Midsummer’s Night” is at the beginning of summer.) I only learned the name of this holiday from the play “Dancing at Lughnasa”.

For the Lughnasa ride, the temperature was ~60 degrees (16 Celsius). The sun peeked out for a few minutes around 11:30 AM. Riding in a long-sleeved jersey and knee warmers did not seem like the middle of summer.