Friday, December 24, 2010

Post Commentary Sparks Revisionist Art

The Washington Post published a commentary by Phillip Kennicott in today's Style Section that got me thinking about the recent art/censorship/gay controversy surrounding a video created by the artist David Wojnarowicz, and subsequently removed from the National Portrait Gallery exhibit, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.

The dustup was sparked by Bill Donohue, president (and apparently the only member of) the Catholic League who vehemently attacked Wojnarowicz's video A Fire in My Belly as being anti-catholic. His real agenda appears to be to stoke the tiresome culture wars that continue around homosexuality in this country, and Mr. Donohue is quite successful in that regard. He set an anti-gay trap for the exhibition and for the Smithsonian, and R. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian walked right into it.

And R. Wayne Clough just kept right on walking. He's been silent on the issue ever since he made the decision to remove the video. The controversy (air quotes), the anti-catholic message (ironic air quotes) of the video stems from an approximately eleven second segment which shows ants climbing over a crucifix. Donohue took this segment completely out of the context of the remainder of the video, and denounced the whole piece as being anti-catholic. And Mr. Clough went along for the ride, feeling that it was better to appease the Catholic League, then to let museum goers make up their own minds.

Mr. Kennicott in his commentary calls for Mr. Clough to resign his post as Secretary. Kennicott further states that the curators of the exhibit should honor AA Bronson's request to have his work, Felix, June 5, 1994, removed from the exhibition in protest over the censoring of Wojnarwoicz's video. Indeed, the huge blank wall at the end of the exhibition would bear mute testimony to something, but I'm not sure to what. I have a better idea.

The curators should remove Felix, June 5, 1994 from the exhibition. Then they should nail R. Wayne Clough to the wall in its place. It serves the catholic need of Mr. Donohue, and it certainly is Roman in its application of justice. It will also please the masses.

R. Wayne Clough after the exhibition curators added him to "Hide/Seek"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Closet

Who thought peanut butter could be so deadly?
The flattened, nearly headless mouse lay stiff
the trap sprung, but not a lick of Jif remained.
What peanut butter peril enticed the rodent there
to release the bale that bloodied hair, what pain.
Did it see stars before the end? Was it instant death?
Or were there seconds of nervous charge elapsed
a crashing synapse, broken neck, and matted pelt
a terror, a sharpened, sickened moment's motion
a squeal before no air could pass the esophagus?

The mousetrap sits on the drainboard drying.
Scrubbed clean of fear-soaked blood and urine,
ready to bring another mouse to ruin in the closet.
Reset with peanut butter and returned downstairs.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When my Mother Died

In the weeks after the funeral,
The widows came to the house
Corningware, Tupperware, Rubbermaid.
The doorbell rang; each dish accepted,
acknowledged, and refrigerated.

Jello eight ways. Three kinds of macaroni.
Spaghetti and meatballs in a metal bowl.
Four tossed salads with five different dressings.

Three molds, five glass baking dishes, four casseroles,
washed, dried, and returned.

December, January, and February.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mysterious Mother

O Mother

O Mother with your burning heart,
Sursum Corda on your lips,
Betrayed, the blade wedged in your valve.
Your skirted smile scarce hides your sorrow.
A golden crown can't salve your loss.
The lily's fragrance masks the stench
of death, of lost tomorrows.
O Mother's son sprained on the cross
O Mother's heart broke from the loss
A world quickly walks on by
lost in talk, concerns, and bills.
Your lips are closed to words expressed
that might explain your open breast,
spread apart with bleeding flames,
a heart afire that fans your pain.
O Mother, I can hardly stand to watch.
Not a wrinkle or a blemish on your face,
and yet you tear a hole in my own chest
That connects your picture frame to mine.

O Mother with your burning heart
Betrayed, that blade wedged in your valve.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No Knead Bread, but I only heard about it last Sunday

I'm a fan of Lynne Rosetto Kasper's Splendid Table, and I was listening to it as background noise last Sunday. One of her guests was Jim Lahey, owner of the Sullivan Street Bakery, and the inventor of No Knead Bread. He was making claims on the show that this is a chewy, wonderful rustic bread, just the kind I've been looking for.

Of course, I was off Googling the Internet for No Knead Bread recipes, and they all came back to Jim's basic recipe, a recipe so simple that even I could make it. It has four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. You stir them together in a bowl, cover it, and let it sit for the next 18 - 20 hours. Then you (minimally) shape the loaf, let it proof for another couple of hours. Finally, you really crank up the heat in the oven, and bake the loaf. It's baked in a covered, heated dutch oven, then the loaf is uncovered, and the baking continues until the top of the loaf is browned.

This isn't to say that other recipes aren't out there. They are, but they acknowledge Jim's genius, and they use his methods and recipe proportions. The method was published in 2006, but as the old joke goes, I only heard about it yesterday. Even Martha Stewart has her version of No Knead Bread. She uses olive oil to grease the mixing bowl, and to grease the top of the bread dough while it's rising. The oil is not necessary.

I like this bread for several reasons: it is simple. It heats up the kitchen when it's cold outside. The loaf really is a rustic loaf. The texture is crusty, chewy, and holely. The gluten forms during the long rising, and the flavor is distinct - a slight sourness rounded out by the salt, with a smoky aroma. Although the crust is singed in places, the loaf does not taste burnt. The loaf looks like and tastes like it just came out of a wood-fired oven.

Friday, November 26, 2010

An Important Part of Cooking

An important part of cooking is creating the smell. Try this: heat the oven to 400°F. Take some chicken giblets, and maybe the wing tips, and place them with a little oil and butter in a small iron skillet. Sprinkle them with salt, a grind of pepper, and two large pinches of thyme. Set the skillet in the oven for fifteen minutes. In the meantime, chop half an onion, a small carrot, and a stalk of celery. Add to the chicken giblets, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so.

Take a sniff. The smell is herby from the thyme. The onions are fragrant, and you can smell the sweetness of the carrot and the fresh whiff of the celery. The aroma hits my nose when I open the oven door.

Quickly, my chicken stock takes shape as I dump the skillet contents in a saucepan, and add some water, a bay leaf, some cloves, and allspice. As the stock bubbles, the wonderful smells continue, and my home smells lived in and loved. The joy of onions, carrots, and a chicken neck transform a cool autumn day into an abundant scent of memories.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Each Day I Write a Poem

Each day I write a poem
Not always with much meter
Never published in a tome
Unsavored by most readers

Sometimes, my poems have punctuation.
Each line is filled with tidy thoughts.
Captitalized lines march in formation.
All ended neatly with tiny dots.

Or I can wander.

And not really put much thought
into heuristics.

I'm not Emily Dickinson.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stone Gray Trunks

Stone gray trunks, leafless
limned in the radiant burst of
a declining fall sun
hold aloft a vault
dyed brilliant blue.

The brightness of autumn afternoon
fills my eye in this sanctuary
that was disguised as a forest path
just weeks ago.

I can see the vistas in the trail now.
The abrupt majesty of this place
overwhelms me in this moment.
I am grateful for this moment-
that in this little end node of time
the whole universe conspired
(for twelve billion years)
to make this happen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blind Passion

When Jerry, Ron, and I were traveling across America, we were having a food conversation, picking out the smells and flavors in a restaurant somewhere (possibly at the Painted Pony in St. George, Utah). Jerry remarked that without seeing the dish, and the ingredients, he wasn't picking up on the aromas and textures. He said he'd like to try the food blindfolded. Suddenly, a great idea was born.

Jerry and I talked about the blindfold idea several times, trying to figure out how people could eat a meal blindfolded. (Try it yourself; it's not easy. Hint: put a very large napkin in your lap.) Gradually, we refined the concept, and decided to try it out on a potluck group that we belong to.

Here's the idea: we would ask each guest to bring a dish that represented their cooking passion and a blindfold. Prior to the meal, we would have a blindfolded tasting of each dish. The rules were, no guest would tell the other guests what he had brought. No more than one guest could be in the kitchen at a time. While we were tasting the food, we would all be wearing blindfolds.

To make this possible, we needed some helpers. I volunteered Ron (bless his heart!), and Jerry recruited Ed. Ed and Ron worked the kitchen while six of us enjoyed the fruit of their labors. The helpers warmed up the dishes, and assisted those guests who need to make last-minute preparations of their dishes. The dishes were tasted serially, and for each presentation, Ron and Ed would put tasty morsels in six small cups, announce to the guests to put on their blindfolds, make a pass through the living room, giving us each our taste, remove the spent cups, and tell us that we could remove our blindfolds.

Having just a taste of each dish was delightful. Being blindfolded made me more aware of the food's texture. I tasted flavors that I don't think I would have noticed without the blindfold. The food was wonderful, from the papery lightness of roasted kale to the earthy, citrusy taste of a beet salad full of exotic textures and flavors. Quinoa added a bity texture to mashed sweet potatoes. Who knew that broccoli is right at home in a burrito? My offering was scalloped potatoes. There's nothing like a cheesy shot of goodness in the dark! The cruncy finale was a pumpkin cake roll filled with toffee and whipped cream, and topped with a caramel sauce. What a taste that was, a spongy, creamy, crunchy treat.

After each taste we took off our blindfolds and discussed the subject morsel. Each cook spent a few seconds talking about his dish. Personally, the most surprising taste and texture was the roasted kale. It was papery, and it's tasted exploded on the tongue. I thought the ending, the pumpkin roll was completely awesome!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Mouse Has Roared

The people have spoken, and it's going to take some real leadership in Washington to figure out exactly what the people have said. Mostly, I think, the people are fed up. All kinds of themes emerge from this disgruntlement: smaller government, less taxes, poor economy, government overreach, take back our nation. I'm depressed, but if I were Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, or John Boehner, I'd be terrified. I don't think the government has overreached. I think our politicians have. The voters sent a message: change the way things are done in Washington. The conundrum is what do the voters want changed?

Our country is in for a lot of misery, two years of misery - maybe a lot more. The United States is in a different kind of recession, and businesses and people have lost confidence in the economy. This particularly hurts our consumer-driven economy, because people are saving more, spending less, and hunkering down for the long term. In short, personal responsibility is taking the economy to hell in a handbasket. For all the reasons that people voted in this election, this economic trend isn't going to change much in the short and medium term, not until the American people feel confident about their paychecks and their jobs.

Politicos are proposing solutions that aren't going to solve the economic crisis. Cutting taxes and reducing spending won't get the public to consume more. Instead, those two proposals will spread a lot more misery by removing an (already tattered) economic safety net from the very poor, and threaten programs meant to help the middle class. As for the government overreach charge, regardless of how voters feel about the bailout, it will be repaid to the Treasury, and the bailout did keep the finance system and the economy from collapsing entirely. Without government intervention, the calamity would have been a lot worse. I believe that cynical politicians know this, and that "government overreach" is a bogus argument that has confused voters.

Politicos want to repeal Obamacare. Beware. That really isn't what the voters want. When polled on various parts of the health insurance law, most voters agree with the provisions. But cynical politicians have twisted the law and scared the voters into thinking that the law will impose a socialistic dictatorship on America. Politicians sneer about "European-style healthcare." Irony is lost on our leaders. Most Europeans who are covered by a government-sponsored healthcare plan are really quite happy to have it. I'm much more frightened by our "American-style political discourse."

Rand Paul wants to take back America. He echoes many other newly-elected leaders on their way to Washington, DC. Who are these leaders taking America from? Is the level of discourse so polarized that those with whom we disagree are un-American? To the politicians who promise to take back America, I would offer this advice: look in the mirror. The American people want a responsive government. They want politicians who will work across party divides to find solutions. And the American voters will take back Capital Hill in 2012, if you don't make governing work. If that doesn't terrify you, you're already in trouble.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dinner and All That (Explained to the Uninitiated)

Ron pointed out to me that I tend to gloss over details in my blog entries. So I thought I'd try to explain better what I mean in my annotated version of yesterday's entry.

Sometimes, dinner is just what dinner is. You can't explain it. It just happens. Well, actually you can explain it, but I put in those two sentences for dramatic affect. And dinner doesn't "just" happen, it takes a fair amount of work, if not planning. The less planning the more chopping, paring, and drinking spirited beverages. I know this from personal experience.I like the word melange*. I'm not quite sure what it means (I really do know what it means, because I looked it up before I published this blog post), but I think it explains tonight's dinner perfectly (It didn't, but that's the subject of another blog post).

Ron had prepared a list of dining possibilities inside our kitchen. I kid you not! He withdrew a list from his shirt pocket. I was totally amazed! They included green salad; warmed over veggie stew (more about that later*); watermelon, beet, and tomato salad; potatoes; roasted cauliflower; corn on the cob; and beet greens. He said we didn't need to fix all of it(!), but these were the options. He was going to pass on the veggie stew, but everything else was in play, if I wanted it.

Okay, here's the lowdown on those asterisks and the veggie stew. I'm not sure that I literally "like" the word "melange," but it fits in well with my narrative style, at least I think so, and I'm writing this blog. If you can come up with a better word, please comment on this post. Oh, and about the veggie stew, it was another chili debacle. I accidentally put too much heat in it, like two ancho chilies and a fair amount of chipotle chili powder, plus some significant amount of cayenne pepper, and many grinds of black pepper. Honestly, it did not taste too hot for me, but when Ron started sweating profusely, I kind of figured maybe I could have used a lighter touch. Bless his heart, he did not complain until after eating at least three spoonfuls, and then he ate the rest of the bowl with a manly determination. You have to love this guy!

Ron's keen on corn, almost like he was born in Kansas Do Tel Aviv natives eat corn on the cob? or something. I really wanted some fried potatoes (it's a well-known fact that fried potatoes contain significant amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, especially if they are Idaho potatoes). The veggie stew had so much chili in it, that I figured the fried potatoes would cut a little of the heat, and my heartburn wouldn't kill me when I went to bed. I did have heartburn, and it did affect me when I went to bed, but I consider that as a minor penance for subjecting Ron to the veggie stew earlier. Besides, it really tasted wonderful, smoky and hot. I was a go on the beet and watermelon salad, and the beet greens. Operation Melange Dinner* was about to get underway.

*I started using nomenclature like this after Operation Iraqi Freedom. I figured if Dick Cheney could co-opt a perfectly useful word and turn it into a militaristic slogan of American Imperialism, I could do the same when referring to certain culinary operations in my own kitchen. Besides, I'm quite sure that Dick and Lynne must love chili because they are from Wyoming, and Wyoming is famous for buffalo chili. The Cheney's would probably think that my vegetable chili was a little effete, and if the shoe fits, wear it.

I figured Ron could eat the corn, and I would eat the veggie stew. I peeled the potatoes; he finished prepping the watermelon, beet, and tomato salad*, husked the corn on the cob, and washed the beet greens. *Did you do a double take when you read watermelon, beets, and tomatoes? I did, too. But I have learned that Ron's recipes, while exotic, are more than worth the experiment. The salad was very good, with watermelon sweetness and crunch, and the subtle flavor of the beets, plus their texture. This dish deserves a repeat on the dinner table. I got the potatoes frying about the time the beet greens were cleaned. Then all we had to do was to wait on the potatoes, warm up the veggie stew, and zap the corn on the cob.

And we did all that, got it on the table, and had an absolutely wonderful meal. He loved his corn, and the potatoes did cut the chili burn on the veggies. We had this colorful, delightful, and fresh meal that was tasty, and didn't have any cholesterol, corn syrup, BHA, or BHT. Nothing came from a box. Most of it came from the CSA farm in Pennsylvania. The food was good, and the company unsurpassed. I enjoy these cooking adventures with Ron, and appreciate his skill, talents, and inquisitiveness in the kitchen. I'm happy he cooks for me! Real food for real homosexuals.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dinner and All That

Sometimes, dinner is just what dinner is. You can't explain it. It just happens. I like the word melange. I'm not quite sure what it means, but I think it explains tonight's dinner perfectly.

Ron had prepared a list of dining possibilities inside our kitchen. They included green salad; warmed over veggie stew (more about that later); watermelon, beet, and tomato salad; potatoes; roasted cauliflower; corn on the cob; and beet greens. He said we didn't need to fix all of it(!), but these were the options. He was going to pass on the veggie stew, but everything else was in play, if I wanted it.

Ron's keen on corn, almost like he was born in Kansas or something. I really wanted some fried potatoes. The veggie stew had so much chili in it, that I figured the fried potatoes would cut a little of the heat, and my heartburn wouldn't kill me when I went to bed. I was a go on the beet and watermelon salad, and the beet greens. Operation Melange Dinner was about to get underway.

I figured Ron could eat the corn, and I would eat the veggie stew. I peeled the potatoes; he finished prepping the watermelon, beet, and tomato salad, husked the corn on the cob, and washed the beet greens. I got the potatoes frying about the time the beet greens were cleaned. Then all we had to do was to wait on the potatoes, warm up the veggie stew, and zap the corn on the cob.

And we did all that, got it on the table, and had an absolutely wonderful meal. He loved his corn, and the potatoes did cut the chili burn on the veggies. We had this colorful, delightful, and fresh meal that was tasty, and didn't have any cholesterol, corn syrup, BHA, or BHT. Nothing came from a box. Most of it came from the CSA farm in Pennsylvania. Real food for real homosexuals.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Food in Taos

One of the (many) joys of being human is eating well-prepared food. Food reflects both culture and place. It has its creation in the roots of the people who prepare it, and its substance in the bounty of the land and the sea. Living things are transformed by us into food that transforms and sustains us. Maybe that's why I enjoy cooking and eating so much. They are transformative and sacramental acts that have the power to imbue us with the culture, the history, and the elemental essence of the cooks and their landscapes from which the food springs.

So I am here in Taos. Over the past several three weeks, I've had a few "southwestern" meals. One was a soulless experience at a chain restaurant in Grand Lake, Colorado. Another was a timid meal at a cafe in Cortez, Colorado. But tonight at Graham's Grille in Taos, New Mexico, I had a meal that was true to its place, and in which the chef's sense of ingredients, textures, tastes, and fidelity to the dish all came together in a wonderful, sensual way. The chicken and green chile tamale pie was an entree to savor and delight in. I ate it slowly, deliberately tasting and enjoying it. It had a fragrant, corny taste. The cheese was just messy enough, but didn't overwhelm the rest of the dish. The green chile added a sweet heat to the tamale and the tamale was buried beneath chopped lettuce, tomatoes, a dollop of guacamole and two blue corn tortilla chips, happy to be along for the occasion.

Tonight's experience is what food should be about: a meal born in the chef's heart, knowledge, and skill; faithful to the ingredients; acknowledging the cultural context of the dish; and preparation \in a fashion that recreates the dish, and challenges our notions of what we thought the dish should be. That experience makes for a delightful meal.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Intermittent Blog (Life!)

I'm sitting in our hotel room at Jacobs Lake Lodge in Kaibab National Forest. We're about 40 miles from the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and tomorrow, we'll probably go on a hike below the rim, just because we can.

For those of you among my four readers who are wondering why I haven't written in here in about two weeks, it's because I'm on vacation, having a really wonderful time, seeing parts of America up close and personal, which is really a good way to see it.

Community of Christ Temple, Independence, Missouri
Community of Christ Temple in Independence, Missouri

We have seen what appears to be a fantastical space ship landing in the midst of Independence, Missouri. Latter-Day Saints seems to be a subtext of this trip. We walked around the Temple Lot, and admired the Temple built there by the Community of Christ. On the Temple Lot is another Latter-day organization, the Church of the Temple Lot, and across the street is a visitors center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This ground is a sacred place for many people, and Harry Truman spoke in the auditorium here a couple of times.

Tall Prairie Grass
Tall Prairie Grass

Further on our travels, Jerry and I happened on the Tall Prairie Grass National Preserve. The visitors center there is an old limestone barn built by a rich farmer. The land has been acquired by the National Park Service and the National Conservancy and is jointly managed. The prairie, here, is beautiful, and I never would have seen it if I had called this place Flyoverland rather than Drivethroughland. It really is worth the drive through.

Stay tuned for more ruminations. I'll try to add something here later.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What a Webcam Will Do

So I got a new netbook computer today with a little tiny webcam in it. This is what I look like after a long day of not getting a whole lot accomplished. Let me take that back. I went to Best Buy. I visited Tim and hung out at Sushi Damo. I went shopping with Ron. We ate out at Baja Fresh. Oh what a day it was, and could have been a lot better had my old computer decided not to have a brain ameurysm, and slowly fade away this morning. Actually, I should be upstairs packing for the next Great American Adventure of driving across the Heartland. But I guess that can wait until tomorrow.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mt. Sneffels We Are Here

Montrose, Colorado is a pretty good location to get to the other places you always wanted to visit. We went south to Ridgway, Ouray, and Telluride. Heading out of Ridgway is the Mount Sneffels viewpoint, actually a spot that is used by the highway department for gravel. But, it has a picturesque fence from which to take picturesque pictures of loved ones in front of Mount Sneffels. So we did.

Us at Mt. Sneffels
Lesley, Grace, Mt. Sneffels, Happy, Steve

Monday, July 26, 2010

When the Lights Go Out

Ron and I are having a mini-vacation in the luxurious Hampton Inn in downtown Silver Spring. The finely appointed room and the delicious breakfast are making this a memorable couple of days, indeed. We hope the power gets restored in Wheaton quickly. An enforced vacation isn't quite the same thing as a planned vacation.

The power went out yesterday afternoon during a very violent thunderstorm. Outages range from Gaithersburg east to College Park. The power may not be restored for a couple more days. We're crossing our fingers.

I do enjoy having electricity in our hotel room. I'm so used to power being on. It's difficult to use a wireless computer when the network is down. I am going to the house tomorrow to clean out the refrigerator, and to hope that the power will come back on. I'm ready to end this mini-vacation (but only when the electricity returns to 2101).

Monday, July 19, 2010

A New Dawn

I don't mean to be ironic; it just comes out that way. I slept in my own bed for the first time in a week, and indeed, it is a new dawn, a gentler dawn, a more rested dawn.

Ron and I spent the last week at the IMEN Gathering at Camp Ramblewood near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It's a gay naturist gathering, full of a lot of flair and verve, although not always at the same time. I added my own atmospheric presence at the gathering, too.

And I wasn't even one of the fabulous ones, although if I keep it up, I'll be fabulous before I die. The pic is the part of me that can be displayed in this blog. I wouldn't want to violate my TOS.... I was participating in a Rocky Horror costume contest. I looked very scary, complete with fishnet and leather corset, not to mention the thigh-length vinyl boots with 7" heels. I was in orbit.

I continued to the wear the costume for six hours which included dinner, and a talent show performance. A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. Beauty doesn't come cheap! Classy means more than being born in a trailer park on Christmas Eve. Sometimes, you have to show your trouper colors and persevere. I think I look pretty good for an old man.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Naked Anxiety

I cannot use adjectives around naked men.
Hot? Or not-so-hot?
Speechless with small talk.
I don't want to offend hot naked men.

My own insecurity safely in hand
I hope, I think I'm a hot naked man,
maybe I'm a hot naked man,
maybe I was a hot naked man,
maybe I could be a hot naked man.
No, I can't use adjectives around naked men.

The stomachs, the gravitas,
the wrinkled notions of
boy grown much older:
Hot I don't think so,
in this reflection of missed connections
for not being hot and
not seeing hot, too.

I cannot use adjectives around naked men.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Short and Sweet

Happy on Fire
Happy on Fire

Okay, Fans, all four of you. I realize that I've been remiss over the last few weeks. Lots of stuff has happened, and you don't know jack. If I were you, I'd go somewhere else to read the news!

Not that I'm mocking you, or anything like that, like you don't have lives or are a bunch of losers, no, no, Happy would never do that, unless he thought he could get away with it, and make you believe that he actually cared about somebody, other than himself, which is kind of an interesting concept, anyway, because why would anyone except an egocentric person with an outsized concept of self keep a blog anyway?

None of this has anything to do with why I'm writing this entry, or why I entitled it, Short and Sweet. With a title like that, you might think I was going to write about waffles or cookies, both of which can be short and sweet, and in fact, I have some great cookie recipes on my recipe blog. That's probably too literal a reading of the title of this entry. In fact, I was going to make this entry a short summary of my activities in the last two weeks, but that's probably boring. But I'll do it anyway.

High on the list, while I was at the IAGSDC Square Dance Convention, Chi-Town Shakedown last week, Brian sent me one of those email questionnaires that you complete and send out to 147 of your closest friends. Brian in his own responses indicated that I was slow, perhaps a little sarcastic, and (if you really read between the lines) somewhat unhinged. To my credit, I completed Brian's questionnaire, and I'm quite pleased with the results. I'm grateful to Brian for providing the opportunity, even though it was an immense distraction (me thinking about it while on the dance floor trying to do-si-do). It consumed me. I spent hours awake at night thinking about an appropriate response. So I'm glad that that's been dispensed with.

The square dance convention was fabulous. I helped lay the flooring on the Wednesday before the convention, and met Norman during the work. Norman is this nice optometrist from New York City. I could just fall into the pools of his eyes. Dreamy in a mature male, who hasn't gone to seed, bearish sort of way. We hung out together on the Advanced floor for a couple of days. He's trying to nail down his Advanced calls. I was slumming because I just couldn't face the Challenge 1 floor. I danced several tips there on Friday, and decided that my head hurt too much to continue. I was nursing a sinus infection, and just couldn't do Challenge. Norman and I took a very satisfying nap Saturday afternoon, that left me refreshed and ready for more dancing.

It's great fun to have enough confidence in a dance program to go on auto-pilot and just move about the floor. I can do that at Advanced, and it's my own little heaven. Dancing is a lot like organized religion. The caller calls, and the dancers obey. Sound familiar? It's very hierarchical, a real S&M relationship. I had a great time dancing with Norman.

So on Sunday afternoon, the very last session of dancing, I went back to the Challenge 1 floor. I had a fabulous time on it. I was in a square with three (straight) couples from England who were square dancing across the United States. They dance C1 flawlessly, and helped me through it. What a dream square. I moved on to another square, and this guy bops up, takes my hand and we dance together. I get into another square, and there he is again, smiling at me, and hugging me 47 nanoseconds too long at the end of the tip. I ask him, your room or mine. He says yours, and asks me if his partner can come along. Whoa!

So that's how I met Michael and Steve. Michael is a hot little cub, and Steve is a big and very friendly bear. So we snuffled off to room 1530, and I discovered my inner bear. It turns out that Michael had been stalking me since Silicon Galaxy, which was was five conventions ago. He saw me in the Moonshine Tip, and had to have me. Such are the siren ways of square dance conventions.

The other wonderful experience at the convention was the piano bar. Chip Prince played all the show tunes, and several of us belted them out. I haven't done that in twenty years, and I only know three musicals, but it was so much fun, and hilarious, too. Thanks, Chip!

Joe Branch and I went on the Fun Badge Tour together, seeing the nether regions of Chicago, then I trekked with Grace to Calumet Park, and spent the night at her place. She turned me on to Ancestry.com. Very Interesting.

Now I'm back home. I've been out on my bike. I'm getting ready for the IMEN Gathering. This is our week in the sun. I should be packing, but I'm not. Actually, I should be writing out Condo checks, but I'm not. That will get done before we leave, or the world as we know it will be fundamentally changed. I'm really in a mood to do nothing, so I'm writing this interminable blog entry, instead.

Last night, Leo came over after work. Work drag is a big turn on for me. So I drag him inside by his tie. Leo is an overachiever. Really. So he wants me to be the cowboy and ride, ride, ride. I agree that that would be a good idea. I put some lubrication on my fingers, and prepare my delicate regions, only to discover that I haven't completely washed my hands of the chili peppers that I was roasting and skinning for dinner. Oops. Later on, Leo tells me, "Your ass is on fire." Boy, was that an understatement. Toward the end of the performance, he needed me to help him reach satisfaction. I was hesitant to do it, because of the perhaps residual damage I might cause to his member. But he urged me on. He reached Nirvana. I hope it was not a lot hotter than he expected.

Today, a couple of Ron's friends came over, Chris and Peter who were later joined by Jay. We went out to lunch, then came home for a wonderful conversation about life as gay men. I do not believe that straight men sit around the living room (or a campfire) and talk about being straight. Believe me, gay men talk a lot about being gay. I think it goes with the territory. So I told them my Leo story. They laughed their asses off. So did I. In fact today, it's only a warm memory, rather than hot sex. Leo, it really was on fire.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm on Battery Power

The passing thunderstorm caused me to unplug my trusty computer. Is that for real? Can computers really fry themselves? Inquiring minds want to know. Drop me a line and tell me your horror story.

Big things happening in Washington! West Virginia Senator Drops Dead. Jeff Sessions Questions Elena Kagan's Experience! Salahis Sighted Near White House! It must be summer time in the city. Well of course - the Supreme Court's out of session, but not before assuring that every citizen has a right to a handgun. Richard Daley, you should be ashamed of yourself! Republicans are introducing legislation requiring hospitals to distribute a loaded handgun to each newborn when it leaves the hospital. U Betcha!

Speaking of Chicago, a bunch of gay square dancers will be there next week subverting the local citizenry at the Hilton Chicago Hotel. Grab your pets and your children. Watch out for gender benders. Don't drink the water. Of course, I'll be covering this event right here in this blog so that you don't have to go yourself. It's a public service that I take seriously.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Proposition 8 case has gone to the judge. It seems that the defenders of marriage aren't very good at defending "traditional" marriage; I'm guessing because they couldn't figure out exactly what they were defending. Their argument went something like this. Homosexual people should not get married to each other because they cannot procreate (not because Proposition 8 discriminates...). When asked by the judge about heterosexual people who can't have children, the defense backtracked quickly saying that heterosexual, but procreationally impaired people had a right to marry, because traditionally they had always had a right to marry. Hmmm sounds like the same thing to me. The case come down to the state putting the rights of a minority on the ballot and letting the voters decide that discrimination is okay. Should the state be allowed to arbitrarily remove basic constitutional rights of a large group of people because the voters think it's okay? It seems to me that the state should be promoting families rather than finding ways to weaken them. How would heterosexual couples feel if they were on the wrong side of this argument? Let me know. I'll publish your comments.

Well, that's the word from Wheaton. Tune is sometime soon for an update. I promise a pic or two from Chicago.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Crumbling Rubber

I sort through piles of clothes
shirts that I wore at my desk at work
the desk where I spent hours managing
and drinking coffee.
The shirts were once white,
but drift into other faded shades
maybe token gay shades in the office
because nobody would ever bring up the subject
except me.

The bedroom piles are disappearing.
It's like an achaeological dig full
of dirt, dust, crumbling rubber,
and spent elastic.
Old papers mixed in clothes, some dead, some saved.
The saved get bundled for Purple Heart.

I cannot do this for very long, because it unnerves me.
Sorting these clothes digs up memories,
Reminds me that I'm cast off too.
Sorting my life,
Discarding my crumbling rubber,
Living out my Purple Heart.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tonic Water Taste Test

Tim and I tried a tasting experiment this afternoon. We ran a taste test on three different tonic waters: Q Tonic, Canada Dry Tonic Water, and Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water.

Tonic Water Taste Test
Tonic Water Taste Test

Findings.

Tonic Q is by far the most expensive brand, but it also has the most pronounced quinine/botanicals taste. It's very light, with just a touch of sweetness. This is the way tonic water is meant to taste. Tonic Q makes a fabulous gin and tonic. 32¢/oz.

Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water is light and citrusy. It has a much less pronounced quinine/bitter taste than either Tonic Q or Canada Dry Tonic Water. It's quite refreshing, and delicious all by itself, and makes a very good gin and tonic. 20¢/oz.

Canada Dry Tonic Water has a couple of things going for it. It has a definite quinine/bitter taste, and you can get it anywhere. It's quite sweet (high-fructose corn syrup), and contains more sodium then the other two waters. It has a slightly syrupy mouth feel. It's a decent mixer. Canada Dry makes an acceptable gin and tonic, suitable for a camping trip or after mowing the lawn. It's also cheap. 7¢/oz.

So which tonic water do you want to mix at your next party? It depends. Don't waste Tonic Q on Booth's or Gordon's, but save it for Hendrick's, and serve it with a cucumber slice. Serve Tonic Q and Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water to valued friends. Serve Canada Dry at the Holiday Party.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Love and Loathing

For you readers who follow me on my adventures, you undoubtedly know that I am on the Manhunt site rather often looking for hookups, and chatting with buds, seeing who's online, etc. It's more than sex and less than satisfactory.

For the most part, Manhunt efficiently delivers the goods. Desperate men eventually find ways to accommodate each other's needs. Occasionally, though, you run into jerks. I ran into such a jerk yesterday, a gratuitous jerk with whom I had never had any contact. This is the message that he sent me:

Joker7727: wow..u are a fucking joke!!! 60 years old and u take naked pics of your self...fucking gross dude!!! no wounder people hate fags....guys like you give us all bad names. u look like a kid toucher!!! nasty dude!!!

This wasn't quite as bad as the message where a different jerk told me that "you old guys should just kill yourselves," but it's pretty close. The message is curious because I had never had contact with the sender, so why was he contacting me with this hateful, offensive message? I'm guessing he believes that old men shouldn't be having sex, or more likely we shouldn't be seen on Manhunt.

He pissed me off. So I replied to his message, not in kind, but intentionally. I fully expect Mr. Joker to block me after he reads my message. I hope he reads my message. But if he doesn't, at least the exchange is memorialized here:

wheaton_guy: No, I think you're the fucking joke. It's fags like you that give guys like me a bad name. I don't take pictures of myself in public restrooms like you do. And I don't know why you think I look like a kid toucher. Maybe you have some issues that you should explore with your therapist you self-loathing, ageist, bigoted asshole. Finally, if you live another 27 years, you'll be my age. You'll probably be hanging around here posting naked pictures of yourself. You might want to try a little humility, because when you're my age, you're certainly going to need it. It's my earnest hope that you never receive as hateful a message as you sent me. It's bad karma for you.

Don't mess with me.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sometimes Everything Looks Like a Penis

Ron's out of town, and I'm randy. When I was 29 (or 39, or 49), I didn't expect to be sexually active, and well, horny at the age of 59. I thought the day would come when sex just wouldn't interest me anymore. That's not proving to be the case. The desire remains strong, even if the implementation isn't always exactly on target.

That's a blog entry in itself. When Pfizer put Viagra® on the market, it changed my life. Although the drug doesn't create or increase sexual desire, it makes the result of sexual desire obtainable. After decades of having no follow through whatsoever, Viagra was an epiphany, and an enabler of possibilities, and it probably kept my interest in sex active because it made the possibility of sexual connection with other men real. When I couldn't get a hard on, I always felt that I had let the other guy down. Now that I could actually have a much larger sexual repertoire (with Viagra's gentle, insistent help), I felt a sexual validation that I had not experienced in decades. Of course, that's in my head, and I should probably be talking to a therapist about that.

I used Viagra yesterday. I had a happy afternoon with Tim. We enjoyed the completely undignified time with each other. Sex like this reminds me of who I am.

This morning I was still a little blissful. I was walking past the Discovery Building in Silver Spring, on my way to the farmers market to pick up some produce. The Discovery Building has this huge mural along the sidewalk that combines themes of Prometheus, the Tree of Life, Neil Armstrong, Hal, and the Ultimate Answers of Physics (that's my interpretation). And the mural has a lot of penis-shaped objects in it: the Tree of Life, flaming planetoids streaking, fish of a sort, and a starry universe heading out to the Big Chill, penises everywhere, and it didn't take a huge amount of imagination for me to see them! They are there. I saw them with my own eyes. And I'm cutting my dosage in about half.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Gay

I remember at the beginning of this year, that I promised all of my readers that I would be updating this blog regularly. I guess it depends on how you define "regularly."

Some updates: My bedroom is still a complete mess. I need to set a deadline, then get to it. It's a scary prospect for me. I keep hearing about elderly hoarders, and I wonder am I contemplating my next forty years every time I look at that pigsty (and that's really being unfair to pigs) of a bedroom. What gives here? Am I mentally unbalanced. I also notice clutter creeping back into the office, and it's giving me the heebie jeebies. I'm entering some warped zombie-like universe. Everywhere I look I see awful premonitions of my future.

Michael and I made it to the Silver Spring Farmers Market early Saturday morning (okay, 9 a.m.) to pick up our box of CSA produce. I also purchased a baguette and a container of cardamom gelato. Later on, I proceeded to prepare a spinach potato dish that Spiral Path Farms had conveniently included in their newsletter. Spinach Colcannon is a dish worthy of your consideration, especially if you fix it like I do.

Lunch at Sushi Damo
We'd already eaten half the dish when it occurred to us to take a picture

Tim and I went to Sushi Damo on Saturday afternoon, just after the lunch crowd. There's nothing quite like post-coital seafood. And that sentence is wrong on so many different levels. Not a hint of Tuna was to be found.... But the rolls were wonderful: the Eel Special Roll, and the Mango Sensation. I think I can speak for Tim (and Me!) and heartily recommend both creations. I have no idea how "authentic" these rolls are, but sinking back into the taste and delight of the moment makes that judgment wholly irrelevant, for at least this particular lunch time.

Sunday, Ron and I attended a (very) (gay) pool party in the neighborhood. The looksist and ageist demons were dancing in my head while I was attending this spectacle. Bawdy ballads, anyone? Care to hear about the latest naked sightings of young male celebrities? Are you interested in knowing the real inside dope between Sal Mineo and Tony Perkins? I thought so. The aforementioned Spinach Colcannon was devoured in its entirety. One-half pound of melted cheese just about guarantees a cleaned out dish at a potluck of this caliber, although I continue to be dumbfounded and amazed at the results and my reaction to those results. Sometimes, I just want to turn in my card, and slink back into the slimy shadows from which I emerged after Stonewall.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stigma and the Supreme Court

Elena Kagan is not a lesbian. Ruth Marcus, a columnist in the Washington Post, said so, and of all people, Ruth should know (evidently). Oh, and the White House also announced that Elena Kagan is not a lesbian. I needed to know this.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Musing

I'm finally on a computer that doesn't have a worthless browser like the one on my BlackBerry. Not that I'm dissing the piece of crap that passes for software on my phone. I'm sitting in front of my Mom's computer cruising the Internet, and doing my darndest to remove all traces of my virtual journey across the web. The boys in Moscow are having none of it, and that's probably okay, considering that most of them travel rather than host.

I went out to The Barn today out in Uniontown, Washington. The Barn houses an eclectic group of artists' studios in many different mediums, plus it has the world's niftiest gift shop. My sister, Katherine, has a studio there, and she showed me her latest watercolor that will one day end up on a grateful wall of my home. I like her painting for its sense of place, and my connection to the place. I guess I'm a natural born humanist, or something like that. Currently, The Barn is hosting an exhibit from the Washington State University School of Architecture about the wooden grain elevators that dot the Palouse country. I grew up seeing grain elevators everywhere, but without any connection or knowledge about them. I liked the exhibit, and will quietly regret the demise of these prairie sentinels.

Tie Dye. Who knew that it's alive and well in Moscow, Idaho? Moscow has a tie-dye business (curiously called Tye-Dye Everything) and has had for ten years. I talked to one of the owners, and we're talking hardcore hippie. She and her husband lived in the woods in a recycled school bus. She's been making tie-dyed goods since 1989. The shop is overwhelming. There is nothing there that doesn't come out psychidelically enhanced. I was impressed. It reminded me of my dorm room at Theophilus Tower.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life is a Delight

The last week or so has been a delight. I've gotten in touch with some old friends, took a couple of long bike rides, and enjoyed a square dance. Right now, I'm enjoying the aroma of freshly baked bread. I just finished sending off an email to two long ago friends. This has been a quiet day at home with Ron. This is a contented day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Unsaved at any Speed

I don't know how to approach this subject delicately, but I was reading an article in the Economist about religious defamation - in some countries this is a crime punishable by death and imprisonment - and the whole concept just seems like an oxymoron. The nature of belief, and the attendant behaviors that spontaneously occur among the faithful, well, they demand scrutiny, which immediately is seized upon by the believers as defamation, a completely closed loop of internally consistent logic based on unsupportable assumptions, because they are, after all, assumptions, and assumptions require neither evidence or factual basis, merely a fatuous, "I think...."

I got off track in that last paragraph. Today as I was driving down Viers Mill Road, I saw a car moving erratically. The car initially was moving much slower than the flow of traffic. It wandered about a bit. I noticed that the driver was staring at the seat. I was finally able to pull around the car, and I noticed a cell phone stuck in the driver's ear. An opened Bible was spread out above the dashboard, the gold leaf providing a halo effect in the auto's interior. The rear-view mirror was festooned with white and purple garlands. When the traffic stopped at a light, the driver picked up a book to read, and when the light changed she continued to read the book while she continued to drive. Obviously, God was her co-pilot. I got out of there as fast as I could.

In this instance, a little religion seems to be a dangerous thing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wedding Bells, Revisited

I think that Ron and I have trouble committing. It's really weird, when confronted with the reality of marriage, it's hard to say, "Okay, let's do it." Part of it is reluctance to accept an institution that has been, in the past, hostile to our interests and to our understanding of the relationship and friendship that we share. Part of it is, simply, marriage sounds so permanent. Are we really going to be together for the rest of our lives? Well, of course we are!

I came home last night, and Ron was entertaining a delightful visitor. Ron was radiant, happy, alive with the excitement of the moment, and it melted my heart. I was grateful and happy for the joy manifest; I was deeply touched. Well, the three of us sat up and talked until 1:30 a.m. I hope that Michael has more energy this morning than I do.

Ron took Michael home, and when he came to bed and crawled under the covers, I told him how happy I was for him and for us. He is so profoundly a part of my life. I love him with all my being. I told him that I wasn't going to call him my partner anymore; he's my husband, that man who is my other half, the man who cherishes me more than anyone else, and the man who has captured my heart. He takes care of me as I take care of him. He's my husband, whether those wedding bells ring, or not.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My April Fool's Day Post

Okay, tomorrow is April Fool's Day, so I'm fooling you by posting this today. Gotcha. Tomorrow, the newspapers will print at least one bogus tale in every edition; every blog will tap out a fibbed truth; every newscast will have a smiling anchor pronouncing a lie, given as wisdom. So I thought I'd get ahead of the curve (what does that mean?) and get April Fool's out of the way so as not to get caught up in the last minute rush of writing an April Fool's Day posting.

Today, I purchased all of the ingredients I need to make Jerk Chicken. I am so excited about this. I have a genuine recipe straight from Jamaica (that is about the most apt statement I have ever written in this blog, by the way) that uses Thai Fish Sauce. It seems that some Thai refugees had escaped from Thailand during the era of the Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. One Chongolongkorn Pavalthatchai ended up in Addis Ababa where he ran into some ex-pat Jamaicans. He suggested fish sauce for all or part of the soy sauce in the Jerk. By the end of World War II, the practice had returned to Jamaica, and has since spread to the United States and (co-incidentally) Thailand. Honest.

British Israelites, Birthers, Aryan Nationalists, and FAIR activists are certain that FEMA is building concentration camps across America. Until last week, this fact could not be verified, either in the National Inquirer or other media outlets. I get outraged at the government whenever it covers up something like concentration camps. So I was pleased that Secretary Napalitano announced this week, that indeed the government is constructing several large concentration camp facilities in remote regions across the United States. Most of these facilities will be built in remote mountain fastnesses, close to where America's British Israelites, Birthers, Aryan Nationalists and FAIR activists actually live, thus saving billions of dollars in taxpayers' money by reducing internee transport expenses. The government also expects to recoup some of the "camp" expenses by encouraging internees to learn a trade such as making license plates or manufacturing furniture for government agencies. Honest. I only tell the truth in this blog.

Doubleday has offered me a large book advance, because the company, always a forward thinker, has decided that I have something to say, and it believes that I have the chops to communicate what I mean to say effectively with other people who would like to read what I write, thus buy a book that Doubleday would publish and make lots of money off the sweat of my brow. Actually, when I write I don't sweat that much. In fact, I keep quite cool. That makes me green, except in the summer when we raise the thermostat so high that I get quite uncomfortable and have to sit around composing blog entries in my underwear, which is not a pretty sight at all. Honest, I would not make any of this up, despite the fact that this is an April Fool's Day post. I am telling the truth, and Doubleday is more than happy to verify that. Just ask them. My book will also be published in a large print edition because so many people who read my blog have requested that.

Scientists (notice how when I use the term "scientist," it immediately adds credibility to what I'm going to write, even if I were (notice the use of the subjunctive) going to perhaps write an untruth, which I am not, because I don't do things like that) have recently discovered how zinc oxide works to prevent perspiration. The Gilette, Wyoming Laboratory for Advanced Research on Personal Grooming Practices recently published a paper written by Dr. Harrison S. Tuttelweit, "Zinc Oxide Uptake in the Sebaceous Glands of Adolescents." This was an interesting paper, because adolescents apparently sweat a lot (much more than adults), and the zinc oxide applied to their underarms did appear to stem their sweating significantly, but also caused a significant increase in aggressive social behavior, promsicuous sexual activity, and binge alcohol consumption. The conclusion of the paper is that zinc oxide-based grooming products could be successfully marketed to adolescents by including subliminally perceptive appeals to anti-social acts! The psycho-societal effects of the zinc oxide, itself, will underscore the anti-social message of the antiperspirant advertising. Wow. Not even I could make that up!

Chinese do not eat cats. It is a blood libel. They also do not eat kittens. Well, at least some Chinese do not eat kittens. I have eaten kittens, and I confess, they taste just like chicken. So I'm starting a campaign right here to wean people, wherever they may live (and you know who you are) away from kittens and onto chickies. I think when people have been eating chickies for a while, that social custom in the larger culture can perhaps persuade them to let the chickies grow up (free-range) and lovingly harvest them as chickens. No farm factory here, these will be free-range chickens killed in their prime. Last year, Americans ate nine billion chickens. Think how many of those chickens could have been kittens, rabbits, iguanas, and baby goats (also called kids). Whew, that sounds a lot like a Modest Proposal, doesn't it? Remember, the Chinese do not eat cats.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Pedal Furiously

I pedal furiously,
rock strewn path, soggy
with cold springtime rains.
My windbreaker mud spattered,
bike-induced flapping.
Blue sky-colored sunshine
warms in the brightness:
cooler in the mottled shade.
My happiness charged
windmilling muscles,
thighs and calves straining
momentum headward, forward
patiently uphill,
and euphoria racing
downhill recklessly.

Buds burst green against
stark brown limbs not dead
but life leaping announcing
crocuses poke through
purpling fall's fallen.

I pedal furiously.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Busy Week

Last week was (what passes for me) a busy week. I'm not altogether sure that it was a busy week, because when you are retired, it skews your sense of how the world works, but I think it was a busy week, when I reflect on it, which I do now that I'm retired and really have little else to do except to comment, reflectively, on my busy (or not so busy) week.

Monday started off with a SAGE - Metro DC meeting. That seems like weeks ago, but it was only last Monday. SAGE used to mean Seniors Active in a Gay Environment. Now, I'm not sure what it means. The organization didn't change its acronym, it just changed the words, which confuses the hell out of me. I can't keep up with all this change. Excuse me while I adjust my teeth. They are chattering. Afterwards, Joe and I went out to dinner at Sergio's a Salvadorean restaurant in the 'hood. It's pretty basic, and very good. Go for the taco special and for the pupusas. You can't go wrong with that advice.

Tuesday, Tim came over for some recreation, and we ended up at Sergio's for dinner. Imagine that - taco special twice in one week! The tacos are are white corn soft-shell filled with chopped meat and sauce, slathered with sour cream and guacamole. It's not for the faint hearted. The margaritas are good, too, but I opted out on Tuesday, because Tim and I headed out to Billy's for C1 dancing. Billy is a great caller, and it's a fun floor.

Wednesday made its way into my life. The day was cool, but sunny, so I took off for several hours of bike riding trails in Montgomery County. I explored the lower part of the Matthew Henson Trail, which branches off the Rock Creek Trail near Dewey and Randolph Roads. The trail is beautiful, and I want to go back and see how far beyond Georgia Avenue it runs. I biked 31 miles and called it a day.

I had been anticipating Thursday all week long. Thursday was the day of the DC Lambda Squares Annual Meeting. I spent much of the day preparing for the meeting, getting items printed, and preparing a report. The meeting went well, although I'm always nervous when I'm in front of a lot of people. We had a good turnout, and the beginning of a good discussion about the future of the club.

Friday dawned very early. I got up shortly before 5 a.m. and headed on down to the three husbands to get them off to the airport to Buffalo. Afterwards, Ron and I headed off to the Silver Diner for breakfast, where I received a call from Buffalo - Michael had forgotten Flat Margy, so I had to break into their suburban castle, kidnap Margy, and send her by overnight to the Crowne Plaza in Niagara Falls, New York. I couldn't figure out how to fix the lock box, so I'll return the keys when they get back.... The rest of the day is a blur. We had some soup, then watched a movie, although I haven't a clue at this point what it was.

Yesterday wasn't quite as eventful. I did my laundry, and stretched that out over several hours. I also sent out a flurry of DC Lambda Square-related emails. Sometimes the appearance of busyness is business. It salves my corporate guilt. Perry and I took a coffee break at Starbucks. We also discovered a comprehensive neighborhood bakery, which makes excellent eclairs. I made chili and cornbread for dinner. Ron fixed his famous Parmesan Cauliflower. It's simple food that's simply delicious.

And finally, today, the beginning of a new week. We'd put off shopping for several days, so I was preoccupied thinking about provisioning at Giant. It was Giant's Grand Re-Opening. Pretty weird if you ask me. But the store is offering a lot more selection in food, and vastly more shelf space for all of us mindless consumers. Today, I did some research for Caribbean recipes. I'll be trying them out on Ron for the next three weeks or so. Tonight was fried bananas. Okay, but I need a little work on my technique. Maybe there is a Jerk Chicken in my future. Is that similar to Choke a Chicken? Inquiring Minds Want To Know.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Are There Wedding Bells in My Future?

Let me state right off that I feel ambivalent about the subject of same-sex marriage in general, but maybe not about my same-sex marriage in particular. I think that anybody who wants to get married should be able to get married. Deep down inside, I'm pretty sure I want to get married. I'm not convinced that marriage is the gay issue, but it has come down to that ever since the Massachusetts court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

So where does this find me and Ron? I was talking with a friend last night, and he and his partner have decided to get married. Like us, they live in Maryland. They will go to the District in a few days and get their license. Soon after, they'll tie the knot. Two square dancers that I know, also from Maryland, danced down the aisle together last week. The reason for all this activity is that Maryland Attorney-General Douglas Gansler has ruled that Maryland will recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

The square dancers married for love. My other friends married for the benefits that Maryland offers married couples. Perhaps Ron and I should get married for the showers. After 27 years, lots of stuff begins to wear out, and nothing matches anymore. Is that a good enough reason to get married?

For all practical purposes, Ron and I have tied all the legal knots that we can to make sure that we remain together and that our wishes our followed in times of illness or death. Admittedly, marriage would make much simpler (and considerably less expensive) what we have done with trusts, will, and powers of attorney (and several thousand dollars). And marriage would add a guarantee about our intentions that all of our legal work can't, because under the eyes of the law, in spite of everything we have done, we are still regarded as two unrelated adult men who live at the same address.

Should we get married? Will you search out our bridal registry? Should I wear white?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This Blog Wants to Be Fed

One of the difficulties of having the luxury of a blog is that the blog, like a pet, demands to be fed. Unlike a pet, it doesn't need to be taken for a walk, and the blog doesn't lick your face or anything like that, but it can be just as demanding as a cat at the refrigerator door.

One of the compelling reasons to have a blog is for the vanity factor, so of course, the blog link is prominently placed within my browser options, and I cannot but help see evidence of my blog every time I'm using my computer (or handheld for that matter). I suppose I could be less vain, but if I were, I wouldn't have a blog. So I get on a collision course with myself (and perhaps the four readers of my blog).

These are some of the feeding problems I run into:

  • Badly timed insight. I get great leaps of insight, but usually only during the snooze after sex, while I'm taking a shower, or while I'm peddling down a bicycle trail. In any case, the computer is not on and I don't have a notebook or pen with which to jot down the lightening that struck me. I think I'll remember the moment, but I never do.

  • My life is boring. When I do have time to write in my blog, I can sit at my computer, stare at the screen, and discover that I have exactly nothing to say. My life is so ordinary. My experiences are so pedestrian. I'm not interested in anything I have to say, because I have exactly nothing to say.

  • I'm inarticulate as hell. Occasionally, I have the brilliant insight, and I'm ready to write only to find that I struggle with every word. My fingers type fog. Every word is on the tip of my tongue. I abandon the attempt mid way, knowing that another blogger out there has probably already said what I wanted to say but in a far more elegant and knowledgeable way.

To my precious readers, I promised you in my new year's resolutions that I'd be writing here more regularly, and I still intend to do that. I will continue to feed the beast. I have this theory that if I write in here enough, it will become easier, and maybe not so hungry, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Caribbean Recovery

Wheaton is not St. Vincent. I suppose that's self-evident. I am glad to be back in the relative cold of suburban Maryland, but I really enjoyed the wonders of a Caribbean vacation. I guess that's why I've been making it an annual habit since 2006. I'm cold-blooded, and the Caribbean isn't. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Time goes fast on the boat. We were on the Callisto this year, registered in Burtonsville, Maryland. It's a Beneteau 505 (monohull) chartered through TMM in Kingstown, St. Vincent. We had eight guys and a skipper. None of us ended up as shark bait during or after the week.

The boat is eight years old, and beginning to show its age. Like all sailboats, it is designed to suck money out of your wallet, if you are foolish enough to actually own one, but quite a delight to sail if you want to charter one for a week in a warm locale. I found the cabin very comfy compared to what I've had on other boats. The galley is crowded when more than one cook is in the kitchen. The galley has a freezer as well as a refrigerator. This particular boat had the dullest set of knives I've ever had to use, pretty much worthless. I think they were put on the boat eight years ago, and promptly forgotten.

You don't have to sail very far in the Grenadines to find a nice bay, a pretty beach, or an interesting port. My faves included a death march up the Pinnacle on Union Island, mooring in the Tobago Cays, and swimming to the beach on Mayreau (Jerry, Mark, and I also walked up to the Catholic Church at the top of the hill, there, for a beautiful view).

We stayed a couple of nights at the Rich View Guest House on Sion's Hill on St. Vincent. The first night, Jerry and I stayed in a room with a spacious balcony, overlooking the little valley below the hill. On our return, we stayed in the basement in a smaller, but comfortable room. The boys loved hearing the roosters, lots of roosters. It was also the valley of the talking dogs. Any car or person walking through the neighborhood, would precipitate a canine discussion group that would last for several minutes. These dogs were actually talking to each other.

Bed for a Princess
Can you find the pea?

After the guesthouse, we skedaddled across the water to Bequia to stay at Burke House in the Moon Hole development at the west tip of the island. This is the bed that Jerry and I slept in. I felt like a princess! Burke House is an experience to have. The views are gorgeous, the house is one of a kind (surrounded by other one-of-a-kind homes, too), and the breeze at night is magical, BUT that is mosquito netting on the bed, and it's not for show. Grackles regularly flew through the living room, and Jet the Parrot kept us all entertained. We thought about preparing the 2-foot resident iguana. It's supposed to taste just like chicken.

The house has a cook and housekeeper. Marva took good care of us, and fixed us local specialties. Captain and Jim didn't spring for the stewed conch, but Jerry and I had little difficulty in finishing it off. We bought a mahi-mahi at the fish market in Port Elizabeth, and Marva fixed it a couple of different ways, creole style, and once with a lentil-cornmeal polenta. The market provided a lot of variety for vegetables and fruits. We did not lose any weight over the stay.

Jerry and I rented bikes in Port Elizabeth for a couple of days so that we could explore Bequia up close and personal. He and I walked from Moon Hole past the airport to the village of Paget Farm, where we caught the "bus" to Port Elizabeth. The bus system is comprised of several minibuses with names like "Faith," "Hope," and "Charity." We had the good fortune to ride on Faith and on Pebbles. The bus driver and his helper riding shotgun can effectively pack about 18 passengers on a bus. On St. Vincent and on Bequia, we had the good fortune to be on a well-packed bus. The crowd was very jolly. We had a good time with it.

We rented a couple of mountain bikes. Considering that Bequia doesn't have a lot of level road surface, that's a good thing. You don't go fast, but you get up the hills, and downhill can be a little terrifying without good brakes (like on my bike). Jerry and I explored a lot of the island. Because Jerry has done the bike thing here, before, he had all sorts of ideas about places to visit, and we had a lot of fun poking around. We went out to the Turtle Sanctuary one day, and up Mt. Pleasant the next day. I think most Bequians thought we were crazy to be out in the midday sun riding bikes, but it was totally worth the experience.

So, I'm not sure where I'll be late February next year, but I'd bet some money that it will be in a warm (dark?) place on a boat near beach on an island with a mountain and a forest.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pirates

Not every pirate has a beard,
an eyepatch, or a wooden leg.
Pirates come in all disguises
big and small, thin, fat - all sizes.
Country boy though I was reared
I've cultivated pirate beard.
But beard does not a pirate make
Unless you're in the Caribbean
Staring at the salty ocean
entertaining pirate notions.
Then, a beard is quite in fashion
to flame an inner pirate passion.
No lusty wench with which to wake
I'll gladly bed the Captain's mate.
My beard in search of pirate treasure
found a friendship and love's pleasure.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Design Competition!

The last time this blog sponsored a contest, nobody participated. This doesn't surprise me, considering that only four people know about this blog. So here's the contest:

Design a Cereal Box

Now, this isn't just any cereal box. This is a very special cereal.

  1. Think about a relationship that you have been or currently are in. What kind of cereal would that relationship be, and what would the cereal look like and taste like? You might want to talk this over with your significant (former?) other.
  2. With that in mind, design the cereal box. Include the following items:
    1. The name of the cereal.
    2. A sketch of the box. What does the box look like? What's the color scheme? Include, the front, back, side, top, and bottom panels.
    3. Dimensions of the box. Is it square? Is it a cylinder? How big is it?
    4. Include all of the text on the box, the copy, the tag lines, the ingredient list, the nutritional information.

Remember, this cereal box represents a relationship, and every item of the box (and cereal) design should be a reflection of that relationship. Are you up for this project?

Send your entries to cerealbox@happydoodle.net before March 31, 2010. I'll share the entries here. I may dragoon some of you to help me judge what I know will be an avalanche of entries. The top three winning entries will be posted here, if indeed, I receive any entries. The winning entry will receive something really cool, that I would otherwise sell at a flea market this summer.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Southaven Nights

We're still in Southaven. Ron called the airlines this morning after discovering that our flight had been cancelled a second time. Our next attempted departure will be on Tuesday. That's a week we've spent here. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Today's adventure started with the tire indicator lit. So when we got to Mom's we checked the tire pressure and found a nail in the passenger-side rear tire. Alex got out her compressor (she has everything in her garage), and topped off the tire, and proceeded to top off the other rear tire. In the process, the valve head came out, so now I had two flat tires, instead of one. We proceeded to change the tire with the defective valve, and went in search of a place to change the other tire on a Sunday.

Walmart, what a marketplace delight, especially for people in need on a Sunday. I filled out an order, then we were off to a Chinese buffet for lunch. It wasn't bad. I didn't have intestinal discomfort afterwards. Ron and I went back to Walmart, but the car wasn't ready quite yet.

When it was ready, I was told that they hadn't done any work on it because the valve is a special valve only available from the dealer. I told them to go and install a regular valve. At this point, I don't care about the rental car or contract; I need a car to drive. The guys quickly repaired both tires, and we came back to the hotel.

The problem, then, is what to do for dinner. We were invited over to Larry and Sherri's to eat and watch the Super Bowl. Ron and I are actually a lot gayer than that. We called Alex and politely declined, then went for a walk, had a nap, and ended up at the Olive Garden for dinner. We had a nice glass of wine, some bread sticks, some pasta, and a nice evening of looking each other in the eye and thinking what a nice evening to be together with you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Memphis Barbeque

Okay, after that last whiny blog entry I should be ashamed of myself. Tonight, we took Mom to the Olive Garden to meet up with Ron's sister, Alex, and have dinner. Well, 6:30 on a Friday night in Southaven, Mississippi is the time when the natives all go Italian. The place was packed, and we were shunted off to a very smoky bar. I wasn't too keen to spend 45 minutes there to be seated for dinner.

Alex suggested that Ron and I go somewhere else to eat if we didn't want to wait for dinner, and that she and Mom would eat at the bar. After a few indecisive moments, Ron and I headed for the door, jumped in the bright red minivan, and headed down Airways Boulevard in the direction of Scooter's Barbeque.

We had seen Scooter's when we first got into town on Tuesday, but I didn't think that we'd actually have a chance to eat there. It's a very down-home unpretentious carryout/restaurant. The video was playing some great rockin' blues and the smell from the kitchen was 100% barbeque, a wonderful smoky aroma that let you know you were in the right place for some great food.

I'm a fan of pulled or chopped pork sandwiches. For dinner tonight, I had a chopped pork sandwhich with slaw, barbeque beans, potato salad, lemon cake, and iced tea. It set me back $4.95. The barbeque spoke to me with its vinegary smoky-sweet goodness. The meat was moist, tender, and most of all smoky, but not assertive or bitter. It is some of the best 'que I've ever eaten.

The sides were good country cooking, too. The beans were sweet, but not too, with chunks of barbequed pork. The potato salad would have made any of my aunts proud to say it was there own. The lemon cake was just the right way to end this memorable meal. Scooter's should be on your list of places to visit when you get tired of Graceland or the Orpheum. Head for Southaven, and the corner of Airways and Goodman.

Snow Daze

Ron and I are sitting in Mom's kitchen with Ron's Mom. It's an exasperating experience. She is experiencing memory loss, and it's getting worse. Right now she is quite lucid, but it's not going to last. Ron is far more patient than I, but I'm pretty sure that it makes him a little nuts, too: the endless questions, the crying, the paranoia, and the frustration. She's often angry and sullen. Yesferday she was certain that we were going to poison her.

Of course, the situation changes minute by minute. It takes nothing to set her off. She lives in a very looking glass world. Life inside these walls is not always what it seems.

Oh, the snow. Because of the weather in DC, our flight was cancelled. We are rebooked for day after tomorrow. The next 48 hours will be extremely time dilated. I had to change the hotel and car reservation. While changing the car contract, I realized that my driver's license was missing. My license wasn't in my wallet, my jacket, the hotel room. I eventually found it in the car underneath the beverage holder. Maybe I'm the one with memory loss. I also called the snow guy to clear our steps and walk. We're getting back to DC about 10 p.m. Sunday evening, and I didn't want two and a half feet of snow outside our front door looking for a shovel. We've made our arrangements. Let it snow (brave words, here).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

If that little, fierce, furry creature had popped its head out of its hole yesterday, we'd have six more weeks of winter. Today, however, the sky is overcast, and depending on when that awful rodent makes its appearance, we may just have six more weeks of winter.

I'm pretty sure that Ms. Groundhog doesn't affect the weather at all, and what happens if it doesn't see its shadow? Is the temperature suddenly going to rise, and we're going to have the warmest February on record? It would also ruin my Caribbean trip, if I were to fly to the sunny South, only to have it be all comfy up North.

No, I don't like winter, just like the next guy, but when I go on my winter vacation, it better be cold back home. And that little furry beast better show up, and it better see its shadow, too. I wonder if ground hogs taste good?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elder Think Tank

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Elder Think Tank. It's a program sponsored by the Metro DC GLBT Community Center. The Elder Think Tank recently elected new leadership, and that was evident at the first meeting.

The Elder Think Tank is focused on aging issues for the LGBT communities. Many of the people around the table are experts on LGBT aging issues. Others are activists who have specific interests around these issues. I'm one of the latter.

I want to get involved because I believe that LGBT people have unique needs that can't be adequately satisfied within the current way of caring for aging people. Even "gay-friendly" institutions are no substitute for LGBT people caring for each other. I also believe that we can't wait for the government or the healthcare industry, or communities of faith to take care of our needs. Our communities need to clearly define their needs for our aging members, AND the primary responsibility for satisfying those needs must come from our communities. We need to build the institutions and the social infrastructure to take care of ourselves.

Here are some ideas on how to do that

  • Examine our needs.
  • Whether its a focus group, a survey, or conversations within our communities, we have to explore the needs of aging LGBT people. I believe that LGBT communities have unique social, health, and safety needs that are not immediately apparent to our families and "gay-friendly" service providers. Our communities are in the best position to articulate our distinctive needs.

  • Engage our communities.
  • Our communities do not have the infrastructure, yet, to take care of a huge increase in their aging populations. Groups like the Elder Think Tank need to find effective means to have conversations with social groups, the bar crowd, pick-up sites, religious communities, political groups - in short in every venue where aging LGBT people find themselves. We can't be quiet, because if we live long enough, all of us will need assistance.

  • Take care of ourselves.
  • The primary responsibility for ensuring a successful fade to black rests with all of us. It's more than financial planning or long-term care insurance. It means reaching out to aging LGBT peers, to family members, and establishing networks that encourage preventive health care, socialization, physical activity, good nutrition, continuing education and travel, and compassionate care.

    Many of us don't have strong family ties; we can't count on children or siblings to help out. But we can build robust social networks among our peers that can encourage practices and a life that we can live out in our own homes among our friends. The keys are cooperation and compassionate care.

    Our communities should also use appropriate technologies to reach each other, to work with care providers, and to provide community resources. Whether it's on the Internet or the iPhone, we can make a presence that builds a necessary infrastructure to strengthen and enrich the lives of aging LGBT people.

  • Look to care providers.
  • Where we as communities or networks of friends cannot take care of each other, we have to engage care providers. I hope that many of these care providers can come from our own communities, and that they will know our needs. In any case, we want providers, facilities, and institutions - an infrastructure - that are compassionate, knowledgeable, and accountable. We live our lives differently, and our providers must understand and be flexible to the familial, legal, and social hurdles that affect our communities.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Office Pictures

Here's a peak at the de-cluttered office. It looks a little weird to my eyes.



Here's the earlier blog entry that has all the before pictures. The new look is a definite improvement. We want to sell (or give away) the computer desk.