Schlemiel! Schlimazel!

The first time we visited Milwaukee last summer, we made it a point to stop by the Bronze Fonz statue. Happy Days was a favorite sitcom growing up, as I’m sure it was for a lot of folks.

Milwaukee was also the setting for the Happy Days spinoff, Laverne & Shirley–another childhood fave. We’ve actually been binging Laverne & Shirley since moving into the house. It had been a long time since either of us had seen it. Verdict: still funny AF. I had forgotten how much physical comedy Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams performed.

Segue time.

(I promise the dots connect.)

The day we put Sydney down was one of the hardest of our lives. Extra bittersweet because our new house is like cat nirvana, full of windows and perches with great views of the backyard. She would have loved watching the constant parade of birds, squirrels, deer, and chipmunks. Our excitement and enthusiasm over buying a beautiful new house were certainly tempered by the fact that our beloved cat would never set foot in the place. It’s strange how life can feel both wonderful and cruel at the same time.

Our plan once Sydney was gone was to eventually have cats again. Plural, because it’s nice for them to have companionship when their humans are gone, and we have never been homebodies. We tried once with Sydney but that did not end well. As much as she loved people, she was not a fan of other cats. I guess she was just territorial that way. We decided when the time was right, we would adopt two.

Friday, the time was right. The house has felt empty without the pitter-patter of furry little feet. We’d actually started looking at shelter cats a week earlier, once all the flooring was installed. Our goal was to find a bonded pair of females, preferably young adults. We found a promising pair that were being fostered through the Madison Cat Project and drove out to meet them last Saturday. Even though we spent an hour visiting with the foster mom, we never actually saw the cats other than a fleeting glimpse as they made a beeline for the bottom of the sofa and inside the bathtub the second we walked through the door. Neither had been socialized and they were extremely shy and skittish; no amount of coaxing, even with squeeze treats, convinced them to come out and let us pet them.

They could have ended up being wonderful pets someday. Tara was willing to give it a try. But I didn’t want to settle for the first cats we found, so we decided to pass. I’ve had shy cats before, and while they always eventually warmed up, they were never overly outgoing. Sydney, by contrast, was the most loving and friendly cat ever. We knew no other cat would ever compare, but maybe if we were lucky we’d come close.

The Madison Cat Project had another bonded pair of female cats named Tiger and Lily, whom they assured me were much friendlier and outgoing, so we drove to the shelter Friday morning to see them.

And instantly fell in love.

Within an hour, they were cuddled up together in a carrier in the backseat of my car, heading home with us. While their original names were okay, we had others in mind. Here’s where it all ties together.

Meet Laverne and Shirley.

We had to. What better ode to Wisconsin than naming your cats after two of the state’s most iconic fictional residents?

Laverne is a three-year-old muted calico, which means she has gray markings instead of black. And Shirley is a 1 1/2 year-old torbie–essentially a tortoiseshell with tabby stripes. The shelter thinks they might be mother and daughter but can’t say for sure. They definitely have similar eyes and noses and are both on the petite side. Either way, they are both totally sweet and affectionate, and were already comfortable sitting on our laps that first evening.

Going from a 16 y/o mostly deaf cat who slept 22 hours a day to two young gals with boundless energy has been an adjustment (but a good one). They are energetic and love to play, constantly racing around the house (their nails clack-clack-clacking along the wood floor) and getting into mischief. I had forgotten just how much fun cats could be. Once upon a time Sydney was like that, but her laser pointer-chasing days were long behind her. At least she was very well-behaved and never climbed onto counters or got into trouble. Laverne and Shirley? Not so much.

We’re trying to dissuade them from jumping onto furniture like that. Especially the ledge at the top of the stairs; every time Shirley hops up there I nearly have a coronary, ’cause it’s a long way down. But there’s not a lot we can really do. As Tara said, “Cats are gonna cat.”

The decision to get a bonded pair? Best idea ever.

So, it’s been a fun couple of days getting to know and enjoy our new family members. I’d say we picked a pretty sweet pair.

Also fun? Our trip to the Ishnala Supper Club in Lake Delton Friday afternoon. I ended up taking the whole day off, and after getting Laverne and Shirley settled, we left home for the 1.5-hour drive north to the Wisconsin Dells. We arrived right when they opened at 3:30 and immediately headed for the bar, where we enjoyed a couple of cocktails sitting out on the deck overlooking the lake. The weather was perfect, and we struck up a conversation with a nice older couple who gave us tips on things to see and do around the area.

They buzzed us for our table at 4:15. If that seems extremely early, keep in mind that Ishnala is celebrating their 70th anniversary this year and is consistently ranked as the best supper club in Wisconsin. Because they are extremely popular and don’t take reservations, we were advised to get there early. It all worked out great; we opted for a light snack instead of lunch, and were good and hungry by the time our food arrived. Good thing, too. Between the cheese curds; wedge salad; bread; oven roasted duck with sage dressing, orange cognac sauce, and brandy cherry sauce (me) and filet & jumbo fried shrimp (Tara), we were beyond full by the time we walked out.

Every last bite of food was incredible. Afterward, we were able to walk off our dinner with a three-mile hike through the woods surrounding the property. It’s a gorgeous setting, and the place totally lives up to the hype. I can see going back once a year or so.

You know what? This may not have been the birthday weekend we’d originally planned, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

49 thoughts on “Schlemiel! Schlimazel!

  1. You two are living the life!! I just love it. I’m so happy for you — you’ve come a long way since we first met! LOVE the bonded kitties. What a great idea and so glad it worked out for you — and for them. The two of them look like they are adapting quite well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve lived three or four different lifetimes since we first met! Pretty sure you’ve lived a couple yourself. What a long, strange (but ultimately rewarding) trip it has been.


  2. Having been clued in from Insta, I got the title Insta-ntly. So happy for you guys. The cats are adorable. Tara wins the best line again with “Cats are gonna cat.” 😛 Glad you had a great birthday weekend! (Despite the lack of live music and fake snow balls. 😉 But I guess you can do you. )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I told Tara if she keeps winning the best line, I’m going to hand the blogging reins over to her!

      We do have some concerts lined up later this year. Tara just bought tickets for Nathaniel Rateliff in Milwaukee in August, and we’ll be traveling to Minneapolis to see Stevie Nicks & Billy Joel in November. Not quite on par with Pearl Jam, I know, but it’s been ages since we’ve been to any live music event!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve so wanted to sneak in a question or two about the prospect of a new kitty but didn’t want to disrespect Sydney or your time to adjust. Those lovely ladies are great and I have no doubt will be running the house fully in no time.

    I’ve never seen a supper club situated in the forest before but I love it! Rustic and fancy summer camp mess hall-ish and the views…amazing. OMG- I just went to the website and read some of the history! My maternal grandfather (who I never knew) descended from the Winnebago tribe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t have minded you asking. It was our intention all along, and honestly, we probably would have done it even sooner if we weren’t waiting for all the house stuff to be complete. The poor kitties would have been traumatized if we’d had to cordon them off while all the flooring was being installed. It was best to wait.

      That’s very cool to hear about your grandfather! I find that kind of history fascinating. Ishnala has got to be one of the few supper clubs in such a stunning location like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My heart is absolutely bursting for you. Hello Laverne and Shirley! You definitely lucked out in the human parent department.
    It’s official Mark, your house is now a home. ❤️
    That restaurant looks fabulous. The setting, the decor, the food. Perfect. As for being early birds, welcome to oldville. Grab a shawl.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you! We’re lucky to have them, too.

      The nice thing about eating so early is, the evening felt like it stretched out forever. Even with the hike after dinner and the long drive, we still had time for a lot of things at home.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We started doing that when things opened back up after Covid just to avoid the crowds. Now we kind of like having places (almost) to ourselves. Grab a good seat and a couple of cocktails later… it’s almost dinner time anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Those are gorgeous cats. Congratulations on your new pets. The supper club looks like fun and super campy, in such a good way. Glad you had a great birthday weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So pleased to see your adorable cats! I can’t tell you how fantastic it is that you adopted an older pair of cats–everyone wants kittens and the older cats wait forever. So good on you. And don’t worry about the long way down; my roommate’s cat Shamu went three stories and just cut his chin (and he was over 20 lbs).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d say Sydney just wants you to be happy and is thrilled you have cats to love again, but we all know that any territorial cat would be pissed as hell to know other cats were in their space EVER.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Your delight is so evident. You know, sometimes you make life look really easy – but you also delightfully write about waiting for the right house and the perfect cats and pivoting to a different birthday plan. Nice work and happy birthday – here’s to a great year ahead for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always had what Tara calls joie de vivre. It’s just my positive nature. I think I make life look easy, and I do end up with a lot of really good things, but there’s also hard work and strategy behind it all. And manifesting, of course!

      Thank you so much, by the way!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. OH MY GOD!! I’m so excited for you! I literally gasped and clapped my hands when I read the news! And you know Sydney would 100% approve. All loving cats would. My first instinct is to say your bonded pair should meet our bonded pair, buuuut, yeah, that’s probably the worst idea ever. New idea: post constantly about your cats. OK, not constantly, but abandon all other content for the foreseeable future and just write about Laverne and Shirley. Oh, and make sure you have enough memory on your phone. You’re going to be taking 1000 pictures a day, if you haven’t started already. Meow!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL! I don’t know about abandoning all other content, but I’m sure many of my followers would be on board with that idea. I do attract a lot of fellow cat lovers it seems. Or vice-versa! (Already had to move dozens of photos from my phone to Dropbox.)

      Thank you for mentioning Sydney approving. I actually had that same thought. It’s nice to hear somebody else voice it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You are good people to take in such a handsome duo. I like that they’ve already tamed you, showing you that any surface is theirs. Tara is right. What do they think of the aquarium?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love everything about this post. I believe Sydney directed Laverne and Shirley your way. ❤️
    We’ve never been to the Ishnala Supper Club, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. It’s on my bucket list, and this is a clear indication that we should go up there soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good idea getting two cats to share each other’s company. That was always my philosophy too. Even better, finding a bonded pair. Here’s to many years of fun with your new “kids.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Love Laverne & Shirley – they look such a gorgeous, contented pair. I’m a great believer in getting cats as pairs. My old boy had a sister, until we sadly lost her, but he was so gorgeous that another young female moved in on us and treated him like an absolute king, whilst being a feisty miss to everyone else.

    My sister and her husband picked a stand-offish pair and, although they finally display their love for their humans and are affectionate with them, they’re not great with anyone else. Like you, I’d only ever want a physically affectionate cat, and there are so many of them about, why not leave the aloof cats to those who prefer them that way?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Laverne and Shirley are beautiful young, adventurous ladies! Congratulations!
    Your dinner place looks fantastic; bonus for the spectacular three-mile hike afterward!


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