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


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.