October 20th, 2004

Historic Milwaukee House Tour, “Red Tile Style.” Oct.16

On Saturday morning the 16th, we took another one of the Historic Milwaukee organization’s architectural open house tours, this one focusing on Mediterranean Italian or Spanish Revival homes. It was a bit shorter tour than some, having only six houses in the posh Lake Drive neighborhood, but very interesting nevertheless. We were less interested in the purely Mediterranean features of the houses as much as the things we like in houses generally—balconies, wrought iron railings, and other signs of gracious design. Our hands-down favorite was the first house on the tour. A ‘classic Mediterranean villa,” this remarkable house was originally built in two separate sections connected by an open cloister. One half contained kitchen, dining, and bedrooms, garage, servant’s quarters above the garage area, and a third-story turret above all. The other section contained only two rooms: a two-story library (oh, faunch!) and a similar music room which at one time had incorporated a built-in pipe organ and was otherwise large enough to accommodate TWO grand pianos. The organ has since been removed, and the space once occupied by the organ works has been rebuilt into a nice bar area. The open cloister has been closed in and is now the main entrance to the home. The property overlooks Lake Michigan directly and has two magnificent huge windows on either side. The other homes on the tour were very nice, and I would be pleased to inherit any one of them, but this one was the standout.


Effective October 16th (A Saturday, but the end of a pay period) I was officially promoted to Customer Service Manager at SBC. I had know this was in the works for almost a month—it takes that long for the paperwork to be done—but could not announce it until it was signed and sealed. On Monday the 18th I began my duties, which so far consists of getting trained on managerial computer systems and procedures. On Wednesday or thereabouts, I will be expected to take the leadership of fifteen or so of my former colleagues in handling orders for reuse of SBC’s circuits by competing phone companies. Needles to say, I am very excited about this. I’ve been angling for it for some time and it’s finally come through. Yahoo!

Alverno College Egyptian Dinner, Oct. 19

Alverno College, a Catholic women’s college near our home, has an interesting community outreach program. Among more usual arts and lit part-time classes open to the public, they host a themed dinner each semester. For a reasonable price, you get quite a good meal and some appropriate cultural program. This semester’s offering was Egyptian, and had an enticing menu plus a performance by the Trisha (name added after comment below) Mideastern dance troupe, one which has been around Milwaukee for twenty or so years, and which frequently appears at the Holiday Folk Fair, among other venues.

The meal was excellent, starting off with a very good hummus and whole wheat pita bread, and a salad of chickpeas, olives, avocado and capers with a lemon-oil dressing. Main courses were served buffet style and included an Egyptian roast chicken with figs, couscous with currants, roast eggplant with rice, and a nicely spiced white fleshed fish. All were very good, and followed by a substantial hunk of chocolate cake (reflecting a French influence on modern Egyptian cooking). We were well fed.

There were nine dancers (out of a possible twenty—the others, including the teacher, were busy on a week night--) who appeared in their costumes from the last Folk Fair, which were beledi dresses of modest cut, but made of fuchsia spangled fabric, with matching headdresses, sheer sleeves, and dark patterned harem pants underneath. The dancers wore soft ballet slippers on their feet as well. The spokeswoman explained a number of terms, including that “beledi” means “folk” as in folk dance. The dances included a “two hanky dance” or flirting dance; the sword dance; a Moroccan cane dance (which is normally a men’s dance); “Women of the Well,” a traditional dance; a new dance to the music of Shakira (a popular Lebanese fusion singer); “Eyes of Love,” a bride’s dance; and ended with a “contest” shimmy dance. The performers were very good and put on a good show. As a group, they had excellent uniformity and precision (especially in the playing of their zils) although a more practiced dance eye (Georgie’s--) could see variations in shimmy, some more graceful in steps, some with better arms, but this you see in a professional corps de ballet also.

We sat at table with four women, three of whom were Alverno alumni, and made pleasant conversation during the meal as well. As we were departing, one of them remarked, “It makes you realize there are parts of your body you haven’t used lately.” To which I couldn’t help but reply, “Lately?”