Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Voting

Yesterday was DE's primary so I voted, of course.  It's a privilege!
I absolutely love that they give out these stickers to wear around!  Its the small things, people.

I've written before about how much I love being able to vote here.  Its the complete embodiment of small town America.  We vote in an old school (all schools are closed on voting days for this reason) and there are no lines.  I literally walked in, showed my drivers license, signed my name, and voted, all within about 2 minutes.
When we used to live in Northern VA we'd wait in line for an hour sometimes to vote, because that area is so much more densely populated than where we live now.  I like it better this way.

Regardless of who you vote for (Hillary or Bernie, the only 2 choices), get out there and vote!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sunday drive

Yesterday it was bright and sunny and in the low 60s.  I was off work and it seemed like the perfect day to take Big Ella out for some exercise.  A 'Sunday drive', if you will.

My buddies Steven & Thad had nothing to do so they came along for the ride, figuratively and literally.

We drove out to a spot where the road dead ends at a small river.  Most people would call it a creek or stream, but I'm calling it a river because its name has 'river' at the end of it.  When we got there we saw a single car parked and a man standing near it, talking on a cell phone, with a banjo strapped to his torso.  

I said "Now, THERE'S something you don't see everyday:  a man with a banjo talking on a cell phone down by the river!"  They both laughed.  

When the man finished his phone call and began playing his banjo, I snapped this picture.

My inquisitive mind wouldn't let it go, so I had to ponder this situation out loud.

"Do you think he just woke up this morning, looked out the window, and said to himself 'this is a great day to play the banjo outdoors by the river'?" I asked my friends.

"His wife probably won't let him play it at home" answered Steven.  "We've only been listening to him for 30 seconds and I'm already tempted to smash that banjo over his head."

Alrighty then. 

So before roaring up the engine to leave (preventing Steven from violently destroying the man's banjo), I took 1 more picture of 'the river' from the drivers seat of Big Ella. 
Drives like this are a good reminder of the abundant natural beauty that exists so close to home for us.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Unexpected Sunday

Spouse & I had a really good day off together on Sun.  I try to take Sundays off so we have it as a day off together, but they aren't always such good days.

Sometimes I try to get him to go on a little road trip to some nearby town we've never explored before, which is usually met with such resistance that we've never done it.  "What will we do THERE?" he asks.

Sometimes I suggest we accomplish some needed project together, such as sorting through his clothes and bagging up those he wants to donate, providing clothing for the needy AND space in our closet.  This is always met with resistance too.  One of these days I'm simply going to do it without him, which will be easier for me but gives him no input.

But this past Sun HE uncharacteristically suggested we do a few things together.  The weather was nice, so after having breakfast with Steven & Thad we took Marvin & Walter for a nice long walk around the pond in the park near our house.  They really love it and its a pretty walk for us too.

Then we re-arranged the furniture in the family room, and swapped the TVs in the family room and TV room.  (Neither of us are thrilled with the new arrangement so we'll probably move it back.)  

Then we gave the dogs a bath, afterward I washed and dried the towels from said baths.  
Marvin in a towel

Walter trying to 'escape' the laundry sink during his bath
Then we picked up a few things at the drug store before meeting Steven & Thad for dinner.

It was completely unplanned but it was a really good day!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Appreciation

We're fortunate to live in an area that is rather progressive, open, and accepting.  For many years our little beach area has been the place where GLBT folks have spent their beach vacations and invested in 2nd homes.  While there are still conservative, narrow-minded people in the state, DE was ahead of the curve in implementing domestic partnerships which mirrored the benefits and rights of marriage (not every state's DP laws are that thorough), and in granting full marriage equality.  This is not something to take for granted, given the recent hateful legislation passed in NC under the guise of "religious freedom".

In addition to my appreciation for living in a state that treats me and Spouse as equal citizens, I also have appreciation for working for a company that treats me the same way.  Many of my colleagues within the company and a few on my team are GLBT.  Our franchise has made the decision to show all kinds of people in their national ads.

In "The Call" a gay male couple is among those who receive the happy news that their home has sold:

In "Moving" a lesbian couple shares a bite of their wedding cake:

While not the focus of the ads, I think its important to acknowledge the intentional presence of GLBT folks in advertising.  I really think it helps 'normalize' us to the general public, showing the milestones in life shared by everyone.  

I don't take for granted that my community and employer contribute to the sense of safety and peace of mind I experience.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Relief

Early this week the local news reported that over 300 dogs were removed from a puppy mill in Eden, MD approximately an hour from where we live.  Many were sick, filthy, and neglected.  Obviously the collection of over 300 puppies at 1 time caused an immediate need for food and other supplies.

Such heart-breaking news stirred many dog/animal lovers to action, even as far away as my area.  Many businesses began setting up drop-off locations for those who wished to donate.  Realtors in my area immediately got the word out via social media and email blasts.

I immediately went to the store and bought food, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and treats to drop off at a local drop-off location.  I was also able to solicit donations (both food/supplies and cash) from my colleagues here at the office.  I'll be using the cash to purchase more food and supplies within the next few days.

As horrible as it is that people would hoard and neglect these little puppies, I was heartened by the response from my colleagues and the community at large.  Its really making a difference!


Friday, April 08, 2016

Least satisfying

As you know from my many posts about Big Ella and alternative fuel vehicles, I like to keep up with car stuff.  I recently read a blog which reported Consumer Reports' Least Satisfying New Cars.

Consumer Reports magazine asked "Considering all factors (price, performance, reliability, comfort, enjoyment, etc.) would you buy this car if you had it to do over again?"

So which 7 vehicles had the lowest scores?
  • Kia Rio - only 40% would purchase it again
  • Jeep Patriot - 46% would purchase it again
  • Hyundia Veloster - 50% would purchase it again
  • Nissan Quest - 54% would purchase it again
  • Mercedes-Benz CLA - 55% would purchase it again
  • Nissan Ultima - 58% would purchase it again
  • Nissan Frontier Pick-up - 60% would purchase it again
I was surprised that 3 of the 7 vehicles had scores showing less than 1/2 would purchase the vehicle again!  I was also surprised that the new Mercedes-Benz made this list, which is definitely NOT a good thing.

You can check out Consumer Reports' full article here.

Monday, April 04, 2016

High hopes

The other day as I was walking the dogs I noticed a startling transformation in one of the homes we always pass.  It used to look like this:
This small, 900 square foot colonial dates back to 1820, but looks more recent on the outside since it was covered at some point in vinyl siding which is no longer allowed in our city's historic district.

The owners of the home decided to renovate it, and after meeting with an architect and builder discovered the old foundation was crumbling beyond repair and the home's wood support structure was completely rotted from years of moisture penetration.  In most cases the home would simply be demolished and a new home built in its place.

Except, this is a historic home in the historic district.  It can not be demolished.  Its the law.  So what were the owners to do, with a crumbling foundation and rotten framing?

This:
That's right, ladies and gentlemen.  The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) required the original house remain where it is, so the salvagable portion (the 2nd story) was lifted so the foundation and unsalvagable 1st floor could be rebuilt in exactly the same spot.

Notice now that the siding is removed you can see that there once were 3 windows on the front of the 2nd story.

I'm sure the renovation plan includes an addition onto the back of the home since nobody wants a 900 square foot house anymore.  It will be very interesting to watch this project progress.  I'll be sure to reference this post later once the renovation is complete.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter recap

This is probably not going to be the bright and sunny Easter recap full of rainbows and unicorns you were expecting.  In fact, it was rather bittersweet.

About 2 weeks ago Spouse's mom had emergency surgery to fix a kink in her intestine, and while they were 'in there' they also removed a tumor.  Although they called it a lymphoma, fortunately it appears to have been self-contained and there were no other signs of trouble.  She remained in the hospital for a week.  A few days later she had a terrible cough and trouble breathing, so she returned to the hospital where they suspected an infection.  Apparently sometimes patients with breathing tubes during surgery develop infections.  But keep in mind she also has a degenerative heart condition that is slowing her down.  Even at 86 year old she's been very active with multiple social activities/outings each week.  But the surgery apparently put even more stress on her heart which lead to the infection and severe weakness.

So when we arrived Sat night we had a late dinner, watched a little TV and went to bed.  I didn't sleep well, having several odd dreams, and Marvin & Walter seemed restless.  Sun morning we had a bite to eat at Spouse's sister's house, and then she & her husband and me & Spouse went to the hospital to see his mom.  Spouse's older brother was there, and a conversation took place in the waiting area that got rather tense and emotional.  I'm not going to air the family secrets, but suffice to say it left me feeling uncomfortable.  But we were able to go in and she Spouse's mom.  She was alert and talkative, but very weak.  After about an hour she said she'd like to take a nap so we left.  

Just hangin' with mah peeps!
A little while later we picked up my aunt Mary and we headed over to Spouse's brother's house for Easter dinner.  Everyone was there except Spouse's mom and our nephew David who couldn't come home from college.  We had a nice time and the food was great.  Later we packed up some things at Spouse's mom's house, collected Marvin & Walter, took aunt Mary home, and then drove back to DE.  I was tired.

This morning I got an email from my aunt Mary, telling me that her cousin Helen passed away.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Kindness

Yesterday was my 1st visit to my new doctor (general practitioner).  I didn't care for my previous doctor so when I heard this new doctor was coming, I got on the wait list and yesterday was my appointment.

As is typical, I filled out the new patient forms in the comfort of my home and just handed them to the receptionist along with my insurance card and co-pay.

Prior to the doctor coming in to see me, a nurse came in to weigh me, take my blood pressure, and go over some info.  She was very impressed that age 52 I have no illness or condition which requires medication.  I believe Spouse & I are the only 2 among our friends who can say that.

Then came the part where she asked about my family medical history.  I knew this was going to happen, and I prepared a brief, non-judgmental, non-emotional comment to explain my lack of information.  I basically said I've had no substantive communication with my parents or siblings in 23 years so I really don't have any information as to their health.  I suspect that since both of my parents are in their early 80s now, they probably have typical age-related conditions, but that I was not aware of anything like cancer or asthma that might be hereditary.

The nurse tried to hide her surprise at first, and then said "Well, you must not like them."

I kindly replied that it was not my choice, and explained that they belonged to a very conservative religion that teaches if someone leaves the religion, members must treat them as if they didn't exist. 

There were a few seconds of silence as she brought her hand up to cover her mouth, then blinked away a small tear.

"Wow... that is really a shame" she offered.  Not knowing quite how to respond, I said "Yes... it is."

She asked if they were Amish, which kind of makes sense since Amish practise ex-communication too.  I said "No, they're Jehovah's Witnesses."  She said that they must be pretty strict, because she knew of a JW family whose daughter stopped being a JW, got involved with drugs, had a child out of wedlock, and her parents continued to talk to her and even helped support her.  I agreed with her that my family was strict about it, feeling they were modeling the behavior that "good JWs" should have toward those who leave the religion.  Then we moved on.

I was a little surprised and actually touched that the nurse was so gracious.  This was the 1st time we'd met, yet she had a genuine emotional reaction to my estrangement from my family.  Somehow it seemed very kind of her to care.

After 23 years I've gotten pretty used to "my situation".  I grieved the loss of my parents and siblings all at once, the way one would do if their family had all been killed in a plane crash.  But that was years ago, I've gotten used to the scar since there is very little pain left from that wound.

I've also been very fortunate that Spouse's family has always been not just accepting, but welcoming to us both.  I also have some extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc) with whom I still have contract, since they were never JWs, so its not like I'm an orphan.

But that nurse's kindness was really appreciated today.  She probably doesn't know just how much.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Whaaa???

I felt like Beavis and Butthead when I began giggling over a trade magazine with this ad on the back.