Saturday, May 31, 2008

Busy Day Downtown... Photos to Follow

I'm in a very cosmopolitan mood. Sex in the City has opened, and I'm a long ways from the urban mix here in Moscow, Idaho, which isn't to say that Moscow doesn't have its sophisticated moments. Here at the hotel, we're in the middle of the 1953 Moscow High School reunion. Ron's in the room taking a nap. I'm in the bar, being Cosmo Boy.

Today has been laid back and busy, all at the same time. We headed out to breakfast at the Breakfast Club with Kat and several of her friends from Gritman Medical Center. I had met most of these friends before (although I hadn't met Dina who has two chihuahuas and a mixed Pug Italian Greyhound). The put on a very tasty spread at the Club. I ordered a half portion, and was quite satisfied being only half a pig.

I asked the women about my former wife's sister-in-law, Judy, who works at the hospital. Jeannie left breakfast early to go to work, and within a few moments, she called Kat to tell her that Judy was working in the Emergency Room. So after breakfast, Ron and I walked over to the hospital to see Judy.

I've always had a special kinship with Judy. We both married into the same family, she more successfully than I. Her kids are all grown up. Her youngest has just enlisted in the Marines to be a jet engine mechanic. Her oldest daughter just had a baby. Two sons are back in school, and one is helping his father with the farm. Judy is still the pert, cute women that Mark married over thirty years ago. She has aged graciously and well.

Afterwards, Ron and I wandered to Sweetpeas and Sage, a flower shop where I buy flowers for Mom. I wanted to meet the owner. Kathy has a disarming smile and apparently speaks her mind. We had a delightful conversation with her before we headed off to the Farmers Market, then on to Mom's.

We visited with Mom for a while, then Ron and I took a long walk around Moscow's business district. We had lunch with Mom, then Kat called and invited us to her studio. She shares a studio at the "The Barn" in Uniontown, Washington. The Barn is an old dairy barn that has been made into an artist's dream - studios and a gift shop! I love Kat's watercolors, and purchased one, and bought some of her cards, as well. We visited with the shop manager, then came back here to the hotel, which is where I'm writing this, and being very cosmopolitan.

Just in Case You Didn't Know...

I was married 35 years ago today in Logan, Utah. My, how circumstances change. Ron and I are at the University Best Western in Moscow, Idaho. We arrived yesterday, after various adventures with Frontier Airlines and Thrifty Car Rental at the Spokane, Washington airport (GEG). Happily, Ron was there to protect and defend, and my blood pressure remained in check (I think).

So I have several pieces of advice for gay men: You probably should think twice before getting married. Be prepared for "minor" flight delays on Frontier Airlines. Read the fine print on your rental car contract. We discovered that where we wanted to go was outside the franchises driving area, so we had to wangle a different contract. The information is available online, but in VERY FINE PRINT (as the representative admitted) and it's on a LINKED page, rather than the regular contract page.

As I mentioned, Ron did his best to calm me down, and get me back to my happy (yeah, right) self.

We did some fearless driving and saw some beautiful thunderheads. I took a back road between Colfax and Palouse Washington on the way to Moscow. It's this winding, beautiful country road, and I wonder (sometimes) why I ever left. (See, above, the first sentence of this blog entry.)

We got to Moscow just in time for dinner. Mom is in good spirits, and very happy to see us. We had a nice visit with Mom and Katherine, then we came back to the hotel and crashed.

Pictures. I promise.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Silver Daddies

ManHunt, move over. I'm checking out Silver Daddies! I'm never sure whether to be giddy, appalled, or dejected when I go to Internet hookup sites. Certainly, it's the easiest place to see assorted body parts (lots of headless torsos, and miscellaneous penises). I even question my own motives for having profiles on these sites. Admittedly, part of it is the excitement of new meat. But I really have to say that the most exciting sex I have is usually much closer to home.

These sites offer a platform for male fantasy, irrational male fantasy. I mean, fantasy not supported by fact or experience. For example, there's the guy who demands a face pic, but doesn't have one in his profile. What's that about? There's the 54 year old who is interested in guys up to age 28. How many hits does he get on his profile? Virtually every profile on ManHunt says the guy is into group scenes, but mention an orgy and most guys get queasy quick. Finally, with some of those pics that guys post, where is the fantasy? We're talking about some major buzzkill here.

Okay, I'm through complaining. I will say this about Silver Daddies, I'm certainly seeing more of myself, there, and I like that. On ManHunt, I'm an outlier. On Silver Daddies, I'm in the middle of the pack.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy, the Social Butterfly


I send Ron away to camp, so that I can be the whore of Babylon. Well, not quite. This is Eric who is the manager of Rehab, the Bar not the intervention. Tim and I went out to dinner on Saturday night in Silver Spring. We had a nice Mexican dinner, complete with margaritas, then we decided to hit up Rehab. We got there about 9:30, and the place was totally dead, except for the bartender, and a dancing mechanic from the Chevron station (don't ask).

We sat on the patio, nursing a couple of margaritas. I figure if I start on a type of drink, I don't particularly want to change for the evening. I don't want any strange chemical interactions. We talked to the mechanical dancer, and another couple joined us on the patio. I felt like a total loser. I mean, the night was looking like a MGMC experience.

Shortly thereafter, this guy walks up to the back entrance of the patio, stands on a chair, and looks like he's wrestling something. He gets of the chair and walks inside. Then Eric makes his entrance, stands on the chair and does the same wrestling act. Evidently, they were working a bad switch that had shorted out, resulting in ambient light only on the patio. This was not necessarily a bad thing. It reminded me of the backroom days, when you couldn't see what was happening to you. Not a bad thing.

Eric came over and Tim and I started talking with him. Tim snapped the picture with his iPhone, and because the light was so low, the picture is pretty fuzzy. Happily, Eric is not. He's the club manager, and is real nice guy with a very expressive face.

After we finished our drinks, Tim took me home. I immediately hitched up my shorts, and headed back to Rehab (each step is a journey). I got back there and introduced myself to the guy who had first wrestled the errant light switch. His name is Travis, and we had a far-ranging conversation about religion, finance, boyfriends, and sex, pretty much in that order. Travis is a mainstay at the establishment. He told me he'd been going there nearly every night for the last couple of years. I'm not going to rush to any conclusions, connect any dots, or roll my eyes too much. He's a very nice social guy....

I should mention Friday night. Perry and I took carryout from Suporn's. He had Pad Thai, I had Woon Sen noodles. We also had appetizers. We brought the food back here, and had a very nice meal. Of course, we headed over to Baskin and Robbins (just beyond Rehab) afterwards. Ice cream perfectly ends an evening.

Well, it didn't quite end my evening. I was online about 10:30 p.m., and got a message from Mike on ManHunt. His date for the evening fell through, and well, he came over for a very satisfying visit. He left around 7:30 a.m., and Perry and I went to breakfast at the Silver Diner. From there we moved on to the Home Depot garden store so I could get two flats of pachysandra (see previous blog entry).

The universe spins its mysterious ways. I'm always rather amazed at the tangled skein of uncoordinated activity that, nevertheless, ends up appearing purposeful and planned. Weird. Just plain weird.

So yesterday, Beth had a picnic and invited Tim and me (and several dozen other people). I took Happy's Famous Potato Salad, which was a hit, although I made about twice as much as I needed to. Oh, well, you can never have too much potato salad. Below is a pic of Beth and Doren. Doren is a square dance caller who has been a guest caller for DC Lambda Squares several times. I met Beth's mother, who is made some delicious baked beans. Juanita rose to the occasion with her tomato pie. Leo cooked the hamburgers.

Many of the guests were former square dancers, or people who go way, way back with Beth. She has deep roots in the area, and nurtures those friendships. I'm a little wistful about that, and happy that Beth has such a group of friends and family. I'm glad I could be at her picnic.

Doren and Beth
Doren and Beth

Farmer Happy

Spindly, but full of potential
Spindly, but full of potential

One hundred forty-four pachysandra plants later, I have four rows of spindly plants firmly heeled in along the fence. I've already started talking to them, but I haven't named any of them yet. Some of the plants were robust and hearty, others much less so. I'm just hoping that they don't all die on me. As chronicled in other blog entries. I've been waging war on Virginia creeper and poison ivy. Roundup, mulch, and pachysandra have been my weapons of choice. Around the patio, and in one of the side beds, pachysandra has begun to crowd out creeper and English ivy, which is exactly the desired effect. I wouldn't mind crowding out some of the violets, either. These are man-eating violets, not the little sissy things that you find in other people's gardens, rather monster violets that are all plant, no flower, and that march relentlessly down the garden path.

This weekend has been fabulous gardening weather, very cool mornings and warm afternoons. I haven't done this much garden stuff for about a decade, and I know why. My green thumb is pretty black, as in if I plant it, it will die. But I'm ever hopeful of the baleful experiments that I perform in the side yard. I was moved to do all of the stuff because I discovered poison ivy in the yard last fall, then this spring, the Virginia creeper just exploded, and was preparing to take over the earth. Mindful of my duties as a World Citizen, I was determined to prevent that from happening. Also, it's been a hoot to be outside on very pleasant days, and just enjoy the experience of it all.

Don't expect me to become a gardener, though. Just expect me to take on some daft projects, push through to the end, and then pray for divine intervention that something will actually grow. Gardening is a religious act for me, because I'm such an inept horticulturalist that any resulting good from my acts must be attributed to some higher force much greater than I. Or maybe some malevolent spirit out there doesn't particularly like Virginia creeper, either.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today, It's All about Mulch

I've had a pile of mulch sitting out in front of my house for three or four days. Today, I borrowed a wheelbarrow from Perry, and I spread the mulch on the side "yard." It isn't exactly a yard, because it's been taken over by Virginia Creeper, poison ivy, and violets. I sprayed the creeper a couple of times to knock it down, then spread mulch this afternoon.

I enjoy moving the mulch pile. I filled the wheelbarrow about twenty times, each time dragging the barrow over the curb, down some steps to the yard. It's fenced on two sides, and deeply shaded. One of the reasons for mulching is that it slows down rainwater on the way to our neighbors' basements. I figure that mulching is a neighborly act.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Party Hardy in West Virginia

The Homolands of Hardy County
The Homolands of Hardy County

I mean to say "Party hearty in Hardy County West Virginia." Half of the Finance Guys and his husband and the girl upstairs decided to have a Cinco de Mayo and Schlüggënhäüsën party, or something like that, at their country estate in the West Virginia homolands in Hardy County. An incredible number of gay men (and lesbians) with gun racks live in the neighborhood. The woods are full of them! And they all like to decorate. The headquarters of the Gay American Yuppie Supremacists (GAYS) Movement is located exactly 3.4 miles from this spot (check your odometer, do not use your GPS) on SR 259. This is an exceedingly scary neighborhood, especially for straight-talking FBI agents.

Not a Bear Den
Not a Bear Den

Here's an example of a well-appointed post-information economy home. It has Internet service, but no cell phone service! You can tell it's a gay household because of all the subtle earth-hued colors. These colors are no longer confined to the large lesbian community in Takoma Park, Maryland. Gay decorators have magnified this trend, and it is especially evident in the hollows of West Virginia occupied by post-urban weekend dandies. In fact, the Gay Supremacists are everywhere. Their homes blend in so well with the countryside flora, that it's difficult to tell what is a gay home, and what is a bear den. Sometimes, they are one and the same.

Negotiations Going Badly
Negotiations Going Badly

All gay households have a dog (or a cat, or neither). This little dog is a schnaudle, not a poozer. He's a fierce little chappie. The Rhodesian Ridgeback wanted to be friendly with Mr. Schnaudle, but the affair ended quickly and badly. Mr. S has a territorial Napoleonic complex. Mr. Ridgeback, being a perfect guest, retreated. This is the first time that I've seen a Rhodesian Ridgeback. The dog, Ariel, is beautiful and friendly with a long sloppy tongue. The scrappy chappie is Winston. Winston likes to be cuddled, petted, and cooed over when he isn't protecting his patio from roving Ridgebacks.

Marie Claire, Carlos, and Joe know how to throw a party. It was complete with taquitos and piñatas, befitting a Cinco de Mayo theme. I never quite figured out what the Schnuggen Huggen was all about, but I'm retired, so I don't need to think anymore.

Cinco de Mayo Hosts: Marie Claire, Joey, and Carlos
Cinco de Mayo Hosts: Marie Claire, Joey, and Carlos

These are the three main minds behind the GAYS Movement. They cleverly disguise their social agenda as a "Cinco de Mayo/Schnuggen Nuggen Party," but it's more than that. Look at the glee in their faces, the earnestness in their foreheads, and the intelligence writ upon their brows. This is fierce competition in the marketplace of ideas, indeed. From left to right, Marie Claire, Joey, and Carlos.

Happy Affirming His Sexual Identity Politics
Happy Affirming His Sexual Identity Politics

So what did I learn from this social experiment in West Virginia? I learned how to stuff a piñata. I have dexterity that I never even knew about. It is a truism, that every day of retirement is a learning experience, full of opportunity for those willing to grasp it. Did you know that you stuff a bull piñata through his hind end? This is SO gay! This simple act affirmed my identity politics (every act is political) while I accomplished a social good. Gay parties really do enrich the cultural fabric of rural West Virginia. I don't think this is a matter to be taken lightly, either. Hardy County would be culturally, economically, and politically impoverished in some small, but not insignificant way, had I not taken the longer road, and driven in a "green" hybrid car along the back roads to this ultimately welcoming (after all, I did get lost a couple of times getting there) social enclave of other (so-called) dissolute people (not that there's anything wrong with that) like myself (hey, I hang out with people like me!) and stuck my finger up the rear of a bull piñata purchased at Target. The arrow has come full circle!

So hats off to you three, Marie Claire, Joe, and Carlos. Ron and I thoroughly enjoyed the party, as I'm sure the other guests did. We had a swell time!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Oh, the Adventures of Travel

I left my brother's home in Boulder at before 8:30 a.m. on my way to the Denver Airport. I could take the tollway, or go down US 36, then I-270, and I-70. I heard early on the radio of a traffic accident near the Vasquez Boulevard exit, but didn't think much of it, because I had given myself an hour and a half to get to the airport.

As soon as I exited on to I-270, the traffic stopped. A sign overhead said "Vasquez Blvd 2-1/2 Mi." The time was 9 a.m., and I was thinking I have plenty of time. The radio played lots of country music about lonely men in pickup trucks, country women who reveled in their taste for beer and bad judgment about transient relationships, and myriad country artists who evidently (from the lyrics) had some acute alcohol problems.

Sitting in the traffic (it was now 10:08 a.m., and boarding was at 10:30 - I was still 15 miles from the airport), I was beginning to wish that I had an acute alcohol problem. I felt less depressed after turning off the radio, but I needed the company to stay awake because of my own lack of sleep. What a dilemma!

Finally, I passed the traffic accident, and sped off to the airport. Normally, I fill up the tank in the rental car, but this time, I kissed the gas station at the Peoria Street exit good-bye as I sped past, and raced to the Thrifty car lot at the airport. Those 10 miles of Peña Boulevard seemed interminable. At dropoff, I told the woman that I was caught in traffic and couldn't fill up the car. (So Thrifty, I expect to receive a charge from you for a half tank of gas.)

The clock was ticking, but I was on my way to the Northwest terminal on the Thrifty courtesy van, full of other passengers who had also been caught in traffic. I entered the airport terminal only to find out that the TSA security lines had all been shut down because someone had entered the security area without going through a checkpoint. (Did he parachute in? Was he smuggled in with someone's luggage? Was he concealed in a handbag?) By this time, I was well past my plane's boarding time. The line eventually reopened, and it moved quickly (considering hundreds of people were in front of me) through the checkpoint.

I had resigned myself to going to a Northwest agent and rebooking my flight, but I took the train out to the C Terminal anyway, if only to gaze at an empty airport lounge and customer counter. To my surprise, my flight was still boarding (this was 40 minutes AFTER the plane was supposed to be in the air). I hopped on board.

The rest of my tale isn't very exciting at all. I had an hour layover in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and enjoyed a Ben and Jerry's there. One item of note is Northwest's peculiar boarding system. The airline boards all pre-boards and first class, then lets everyone else board all at once. The first couple of times I hated it, but at Minneapolis, I lurked near the ticket counter, and was the second passenger down the gangway after first class boarding. Cool!

The flight to Washington proceeded without incident. My taxi driver was a native Washingtonian. He's been hacking for 42 years. He'd also worked as a doorman at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where we're having our international square dance convention (DC Diamond Circulate) next year. You still have time to learn to square dance. We had a great conversation. Ron had a hot meal waiting for me. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Boulder at Last

The Thrifty guy's economy car this time, is a Jeep. In my book, that's better than a Hummer, but not much. I drove from Denver to Boulder in rain, not heavy, but the road was dark, and I wasn't real sure how to get here. That's never stopped me before.

When I got into Boulder, it was well after midnight, and I hadn't a clue how to get to my motel. I pulled into the first open gas station (gay men do ask for directions) and the nice woman behind the counter drew me a map and sent me on my way. It wasn't a very good map, and it was three stoplights instead of two. I figured that Boulder isn't so big that I wouldn't eventually find the motel, and I did.

I'm staying at a Quality Inn and Suites on Arapahoe Avenue. It's a very comfortable room decorated in Rocky Mountain style. I'm not exactly sure what that style is, but I recognize it when I see it. We're talking about fish and bears, dark browns, leathers, and wood grain everywhere, not to mention the mirror that is framed in faux tree branches. This is an upscale Quality Inn: the breakfast is the same (lacking), but the accommodations are just fine.

One scary note, this sign is outside my room: NOTICE - THIS PROPERTY IS LOCATED IN AN AREA SUBJECT TO SUDDEN AND SEVERE FLOODING. IN CASE OF FLOOD EMERGENCY BE PREPARED TO EVACUATE QUICKLY TO HIGHER GROUND. It's raining here, and has been all night. I'm on the ground floor. Is this the beginning of a bad TV movie starring me in my final role?

Sudden Death
Sudden Death

Monday, May 12, 2008

I've Been Bustling Around

I'm off to Colorado this evening to visit Steve and Lesley, but I have lots to do before I go. I've already run two loads of wash, and I'm packing (lightly - a duffel and a backpack). The weather is not too promising right now; I'm hoping that I have no flight cancellations or delays. I'm getting into Denver very late, as it is.

The weather has been nasty. A ManHunt buddy was supposed to come over for play last night, but the stormy weather scared him off. I gave him a raincheck. That's the other thing about these trips out of town, I miss the boys at home. I'm sure the men of Boulder have their own charms, but I like the warmth of familiar arms.

I'm missing Ett's C1 club tonight and John Marshall's Advanced club tomorrow (and a Harvest Festival Hoedown committee meeting on Thursday (pity)). I'm taking my computer, and I'll be on the TAMinations web site reviewing C1 calls. I promise.

I'm looking for Ron to make his morning appearance, shortly. Then, we're off to Dr. Bonecrusher. Originally, I had a 9 a.m. appointment, and Ron at an 11 a.m. appointment, but I think they both got changed to 11 a.m., at least that's what the receptionist said as I left the office last Monday. I may try to get in a gym workout, too, but that's not looking too good. I haven't decided how to get to the airport, probably by Metro if I can cajole Ron into taking me to the Wheaton station. I hate getting places by plane, but it's better than walking.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Brian, Kent, and Michael Are the Consummate Hosts

I have no idea why we say "consummate" host, although in the context of the Three Marys*, consummate might be appropriate. I'll leave that up to etymologists, social historians, and the denizens of the religious right who are protecting sacred marriage between one man and one woman.

When Michael, Kent, and Brian host a workshop, they always have a lot of food. It isn't necessarily gourmet food (although gourmet items always appear on the spread), but it's great energy food to keep troops moving over long distances while carrying heavy equipment. Today, Kent baked a vegan gluten-free cake. It had mysterious marks on the top, about which he was questioned, perhaps Satanic rituals? No, simply the cooling rack, at least that's what he told us. Truth? Or fiction? You decide.

Michael, bless his heart, showed up with coffee. He knows that my attention deficit order kicks in when I square dance. He's classy, too, because he uses a tray under the coffee service. How about that? I haven't seen that since well before my mother died.

Between today's tips - we did dance - I perused the library. I was intrigued with the title, Greek Homosexuality. Isn't that a little xeno- something? I mean, what about Bulgarian homosexuality? Why do we always pick on the Greeks? And what is French passive, anyway? Does Sarkozy look passive? Is he even French? What do they call it in Poland? I wonder what Mrs. Sarkozy thinks about the Poles and the Italians.

My square dancing wasn't too bad. And some of the calls are beginning to sink in. I got stumped by the sequence Passover and Cross, then Roadkill. I didn't know that you could do Roadkill from a Passover and Cross ending formation, but it makes sense, if you think about it.

*From the French, Trois Maris, which when translated into Roman Catholic = Three Marys.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ridden Hard, Soaking Wet

I wish, and often wishes come true. So after that episode, Ron is busy in the kitchen frying vegetables for a Moroccan Ratatouille - a recipe he found in the Washington Post. Ever since he retired, he has spent lots of hours in the kitchen, and I have been the chief beneficiary of his chopping, frying, and stirring. Ah, it's a very good life, considering the breadth of activities that have gone into today.

It seems that a lot of my life comes down to food and sex; well, food, sex, and square dancing. All three have their attractions, and sometimes, I get to blend all three into one seamless activity. I'll let you fill in the details. It can be done. I'm grateful to have some wonderful boys in my life who love great food, great sex, and one who's a great square dancer. I don't know whether you know, but square dancing is full of exceedingly sexy guys! Just pulling your leg!

Today's other simple pleasures included a visit to the Silver Diner, cutting herbs in Tim's herb garden, a gym workout, and a nice walk in the neighborhood. Yes, I can really get used to being retired. I think it's a great idea.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Basic Challenge, Whatever That Is

Sorry guys, it's been a while since I've written in here. I just wanted to comment on the latest Challenge dancing. It's a challenge! I danced at the C1 workshop on Wednesday night, and the dancing was mentally taxing. I sat out one tip, and that was a relief. To be constantly thinking about square dance calls really gums up my neurons.

Keeping the calls separate in my head challenges me, too. I've come up with some strange mnemonics that seem to be helping, for example, Tally-half, Hingyear Action, and Per · Co · Late, all of which give me clues about how to start the associated call.

When we were at Rehoboth, Mein and I took in the Intro to C2 workshop. One of the concepts that Ben Rubright taught is "Once Removed." Ben wasn't doing any real "mean" stuff with the concept, but it's really an interesting way to dance. In any box or line formation, centers play with the furthest ends, so it's a couples, mini-wave or box of four set up. It seemed similar to interconnected blocks, except all the dancers are squished into lines or boxes. Even if I don't dance C2, it's fun to damage the brain a bit with new concepts.

Last night was Plus/Advanced Club Night at DC Lambda Squares. I danced a couple of Plus tips, and a couple of Advanced tips. I really enjoy just being on the floor and moving around. Sometimes, I think this seems a little silly - you always start and end in the same place, and if you're out for a date with your partner, it isn't as if you're going to be dancing that much with your partner, anyway. I've tried picking up guys at square dances, and it's difficult. This is not a form of dancing that has a huge amount of sexual energy, which is probably a relief to many of the other dancers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hello Roundup, Goodbye Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy after Roundup®
Poison Ivy after Roundup®

Last fall, I found an unwelcome plant esconced in the side yard. It had three bright shiny leaves, and looked beautiful. Poison ivy is like some of my former boyfriends, beautiful to look at, but you wouldn't want it in your beds. As you can see, the PI also began growing up the maple tree.

Earlier this spring, I bought some Roundup®, but it's only been in the last few days that the weather has been good for spraying. From the results, it looks like the PI is on the way out. Roundup prevents plants from photosynthesizing their nutrients. Essentially, a sprayed plant starves to death. Roundup also claims to kill the roots, and that's a bigger concern of mine in regards to poison ivy.

I walked around the neighborhood, and the house immediately behind us has a lot along its borders and in the shady areas. The house is vacant and up for sale. I hope prospective homebuyers know what they are looking at. It's a nuisance weed, and will probably be back in our yard as long as it's growing next door.

Of course, disposing of the poison ivy is difficult, too. The active ingredient, urushiol, bonds well to human skin, lasts in the environment for several years, and vaporizes when burned. I'm not sure what to do with the plant residue. I think I'll probably dispose of it with the regular garbage, because I don't want someone getting a urushiol reaction if the garden waste got composted and put in somebody else's yard.

In the meantime, I've called American Landscaping, and they will be delivering a couple of yards of mulch so that I can spread it along the paths, and around areas where I'm trying to remove some English Ivy (Roundup® works on other plants, too!). I'll say this about Maryland's climate, lots of stuff grows here, and grows fast. I've never lived in a place that was so green.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Geometry at the Beach

Tim and I were in Rehoboth this last weekend, and had a hotel room that looked out over the ocean. We were talking about ships coming over the horizon, and how far out to sea one would be able to spot a ship. The more general question became, how far away is the horizon?

Tim put on his mathematics cap, and I got out my trusty pen and paper. Mind you, Tim did all of this without drawing any pretty pictures, which makes me think he keeps all of his geometry in his head.

Here's the fact I needed to know: the earth's radius is approximately 3950 miles. It's a little less at the poles, a little more at the equator. I was standing about 40 feet above the ground on the hotel balcony. I left the hotel maid a very cryptic scrap of paper:

horizon distance = (((r + h)^2) - (r^2))^(1/2)

r = the earth's radius: 3950 miles x 5280 ft/1 mile = 20,856,000 ft
h = observation height above the ground = 40 ft

I bet you didn't think that the handy distance formula you learned in high school geometry would ever have any use at the beach! Pythagorus didn't have Arabic numerals, and a handy calculator. I'll leave it up to the reader to do the math, but it comes out to about 7.74 miles, which is just about what I thought it was when I eyeballed it. I should have been a surveyor

Monday, May 5, 2008

Revealing Photos of a Wild Square Dance Weekend

No, you won't see any square dance photos here. That would be too twisted. I can't reveal any of the weird and secret rituals that go on at a gay square dance weekend....

However, I do have some photos of a wonderful Sunday on the way home from Rehoboth Beach, including a visit to the Adkins Arboretum.

Boardwalk Plaza Hotel
Boardwalk Plaza Hotel

We had a fagulous hotel room at the Boardwalk Plaza. I'm sure our room was decorated by a Victorian gay interior decorator (duh!). Over the top and just right for a gay weekend in a former Methodist camp meeting town. Next time you are in Rehoboth, check out this wonderful pile of bricks. The place is sooo gay, complete with a 24/7 hot tub on the roof, and the staff is gracious and helpful. There are also two security cameras near the hot tub, so keep you clothes on. Tim and I spent a couple of relaxing hours in the hot tub reviewing Basic Challenge square dance calls while watching the fog roll in. Be sure to bring your swim suit for this warm and embracing experience.

Sunrise over Rehoboth Beach
Sunrise over Rehoboth Beach
Tim before coffee
Tim before coffee

The Sunday morning started very early for Tim. He was missing sunrise on the beach. With my tender pleading, I got him to the dance hall, and we proceeded to dance a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel to check out and get out on the beach.

Tim dancing on the beach
Tim dancing on the beach

The fly-in was a total success. My Challenge buddies, Mein and Michael danced Challenge on Friday evening, then Michael had a back problem that persisted through Sunday - a real bummer. This is the first time that I was dancing full-level Challenge 1, and it caused my head to explode several times. Mein, on the other hand, looked calm and collected through the whole weekend.

Okay, so after dancing, Tim and I got out on the beach for a nice long walk up and down the beach, then down the boardwalk. Here Tim is performing a jig. That's what square dancing will do for you - rejuvenate you and get you to small beach towns in less-settled parts of the North American continent. Woo-hoo!

Happy's in Georgetown...
Happy's in Georgetown...

We blew Dodge shortly after 1 p.m. and happened into Georgetown a mere 45 minutes or so later. Here's Marilyn having a photo op in the town square. My butt got wet because the sprinkler had just turned off. A wet butt is a small price to pay for a glamour shot. Tim took this with his iPhone, and what a beautiful picture it turned out to be! I really feel sexy and hot.

I like these trips with Tim. We talk about all sorts of things. Foremost the conversation is about square dancing, which, since it is theological, has theoretically an infinite (blessed be) number of topics about which to talk. For instance, I was wondering out loud how far out to sea I could see from our balcony at the hotel. Tim, ever the applied mathematician, recited the Pythagorean theorem and plugged in Pi and a couple of square roots to come up with some answer that probably puzzled the room maid. I wrote it all down on a scrap of paper, but I've misplaced it. I'll leave the proof to the reader. Good stuff. It's minds like this that change the way America thinks. I love this kind of exploratory banter.

Adkins Arboretum
Adkins Arboretum

So we finally crossed Delaware and headed into verdant Maryland, my Maryland (our state song - and Maryland never even seceded the Union). If you ever get a chance, get off of Route 50 and drive a couple of miles to the Adkins Aroboretum. It's a real treat, and it's beautiful at this time of year. See it going to the beach or coming from the beach, but stop and take it in.

North American Bullfrog
North American Bullfrog

This place is good for an hour or good for a day. You take your pick! Here's my favorite bullfrog. We could really hear them. While on a little foot bridge crossing a marshy creek, I saw several of them. You can't eat them, though! Just beyond the foot bridge is the visitor's center. It's chock full of brochures, maps, (and restrooms) - it costs $3, a bargain for an adventure.

Part of a paw-paw patch
Part of a paw-paw patch

This is a paw paw blossom. These fruit trees are native to Maryland, but you don't see many of them. The arboretum is a showcase of native species (including lots of poison ivy - the ivy is such a beautiful plant, but behaves like a bad date from hell; beware). Along the path, some pieces of artwork had been installed. The art blends in with the environment in an natural way. In the not too distant future, it won't be art; it will be part of the forest detritus. I like this kind of naturalistic expression. Our walk was very pleasant, and we did not run into many people at all. Just a short distance from the beach traffic is this little sylvan paradise, waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.

Art in the woods
Art in the woods

We stayed at the arboretum for an hour or so. I hadn't seen a lady slipper for over forty years, and right along the path, one beckoned me to take its picture. Not to be outdone, a mourning cloak butterfly insisted that I capture is full dignity in a sunlit moment. This little gift from the State of Maryland is precious for all of us who pass by here.

Lady Slipper orchid
Lady Slipper orchid
Mourning Cloak Butterfly
Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rehoboth Bound

Gee, that headline almost sounds biblical. In any event, Tim and I expect to have an epic weekend in Rehoboth, regardless of Charlton Heston's demise. Chuck won't be there with his big stick. Instead, it will be Ben Rubright and Ett McAtee sticking it to us.

Okay, it's a gay square dance weekend - Pass the Ocean, a non-stop frolic - from Friday evening through Sunday noon. I expect my legs will be bloody stumps by the time we head back on Sunday afternoon.

For the first time in years, I'll be dancing a new level, Challenge 1. So all of you C1 dancers out there, beware, I'll be on the floor, breaking down your square. Some other people from DC Lambda Squares will be dancing with Mein, Michael, and I to shield the rest of the floor from the more disastrous effects of our newbie dancing. I'll have a full report on this on Monday.

Michael, Mein, and me at last weekend's C1 Workshop
Michael, Mein, and me at last weekend's C1 Workshop

Thursday, May 1, 2008

25 Years of Good Eating

I think, sometimes, that my life is all about eating. I love to eat. Tonight, Ron and I went out to Nicaro's, a restaurant in Silver Spring, for our 25 anniversary "special" dinner. We had a wonderful time, and a wonderful meal.

What Ron ate for dinner
What Ron ate for dinner

We started out with soup and salad. Ron finished off a cup of sweet potato and corn bisque. He gave me a taste, and it was creamy, earthy, and corny - a deliciously sweet dish that tastes much lighter than it sounds. I buffaloed a mozzarella and tomato compote salad, set off with a white anchovy. The cheese was seasoned with herbs and fresh basil. The compote had an assertive taste that complemented the cheese, and the anchovy, well, who wouldn't love an anchovy in that moment?

What Happy ate for dinner
What Happy ate for dinner

For a main course, Ron had grilled waluu, a firm tuna-like white fish. It was served on a bed of vegetables and greens. He gave me a taste, and it was yummy. I had a difficult time ordering, but settled on the crab cake special. It was served with mussels on a green tomato "polenta" in a sea of golden broth, and topped with fried ramp. It looked spectacular, and was a wonderful mixture of flavor and textures. The green heirloom tomatoes had a surprising, strong and fresh tomato taste, and the broth was an amazing, homey liquor finally sopped up with the bread.

Dessert? I don't know where it went.
Dessert? I don't know where it went.

Dessert? Of course. Chocolate bread pudding with vanilla ice cream. It was light, and we should not have shared it. Next time, we'll order two. I ended with coffee.

I say two thumbs up. The service was unobtrusive, but efficient. The menu offers surprises; the chef takes chances and delivers. Nicaro's is a new restaurant, and the chef is out to make a name for it. We hope he's successful. We really enjoyed our meal. We'll go back before our 50th.

This is Ron eating breakfast...

Ron, eating a better breakfast
Ron, eating a better breakfast

Tim, I'm blaming you. You wanted more pictures in my blog, and here one is! This is part of our domestic routine. I get up about two hours before Ron, get my reading done, then I fritter away the rest of my day. Ron saunters in a while later, after all, he is retired, and has a very healthy bowlful of Kashi™ Good Friends® and Post Shredded Wheat (Wheat 'n Bran Spoon Size) plus a soupçon of General Mills Whole Grain (yeah, right!) Reese's® (Peanut Butter) Puffs® (made from Hershey's cocoa) on top, all swimming in a sea of skim milk. Now that's a superhero's breakfast! As an added bonus, on some mornings he works on Sudoku during breakfast, sharpening his mind while eating good, or is he????

This morning, I went snuffeling through the cereal shelf in the kitchen, just to see how "healthy" this breakfast is, not only for Ron, but for our society at large. Here's the results of my investigation.

KashiGood Friends® - Kashi bills itself as "The Seven Grain Company." Looking on the ingredient list, I see wheat, oats, rice, corn, rye, triticale, buckwheat, and barley (eight grain, maybe?). Many of those grains, however, occur a long ways down the ingredient list. The list is a little daunting, but looks healthy. A serving contains two grams of fat, no trans or saturated fat, and an astounding twelve grams of dietary fiber, 47% of the daily recommended amount. This may explain some of the sounds and fragrances in our home. An added bonus to this cereal is the Kashi™ Friendly Fiber Muffins recipe on the back of the cereal box. It looks pretty healthy, too, although I'm betting you can use them as hockey pucks.

Check out the Kashi web site. It has lots of good, accessible information that will help you live healthier, if a little airier.

Post Shredded Wheat, Wheat 'n Bran - Post has been on the food scene for a long time. Perhaps the Post's family's most sincere contribution to American culture and values is the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens in Washington, DC. Thank you Marjorie. The company (which started out as a health food outfit!) is currently a division of Kraft Foods.

I like the ingredients list on the cereal box: "Whole grain wheat and wheat bran. To preserve the natural wheat flavor, BHT is added to the packaging material. Contains: Wheat. What a relief! Each serving contains eight grams of fiber, not quite the colon-blowing experience of Kashi™ Good Friends®, but still a movement-inducing breakfast phenomenon.

Reese's® Puffs® - Reese's® Puff® is a General Mills product. The corporation's "Corporate Social Responsibility Report" is online. Maybe you should read that report before looking at the Reese's® Puffs® cereal box. Okay, I 'fess up, I eat Reese's® Puffs® all the time, because it's a fun, chocolate flavored confection. This is a fortified cereal, but sugar is the second ingredient on the ingredients list. Per serving, the cereal contains three grams of fat, and 12 grams of sugars, and only one gram of colon blow fiber. This cereal is basically a condiment.

The back of this box contains a list of "18 Things To Do Before You're 18." Parents might want to read this list first. I'm not sure I'd want my kids to be so accomplished. And is item 13 referring to gang activity: "Make it part of your crew's lingo?" Okay, I'm being hysterical here, but the tenor of this cereal box is a kid-centered world that teaches some damaging kid-centered values. Scary cereal box. Check out its kid-centered web site and cringe.

My verdict on Ron's breakfast: good to eat, healthy on the colon. I can overlook the Reese's® Puffs® because Ron is so sweet to begin with, and he only uses them for an accent of flavor (I, on the other hand, smear them all over my body, roll in them, and inhale deeply while licking myself and moaning loudly). And that's a peak at breakfast!

The Cereal Shelf