Monday, March 02, 2015

Weight loss

While its certainly no secret that I do enjoy my cocktails, unfortunately I have not had any since Jan 4. 

You see, I started my Fit for Life eating plan on Jan 4, and while the plan doesn't specifically prohibit alcohol, I know that it contains a lot of calories.  So I have voluntarily given up cocktails since the beginning of the year.

How's the slimming regimen going, you ask?  Well, I've lost 18 lbs so far.  I lost 5 lbs the 1st week and 5 lbs the 2nd week, so that was great!  The other 8 lbs have come off very slowly, but I knew that was to be expected.  Doctors actually say that 2 lbs per week weight loss is safe and sustainable.

Spouse and Steven & Thad are also on various weight loss plans.  We have all experienced weeks when we've only lost 1 or 2 lbs.  This can be very frustrating, especially if you've been "good" and not cheated on your plan.  But I try to remain positive.  I tell myself that if I consistently lose 2 lbs per week, in a year's time I will have lost 104 lbs!!  That knowledge really does help me.

I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to avoid alcohol.  Maybe I will allow myself just 1 Cosmo per week (on karaoke night) and see if that actually affects my weight loss at all.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Color my world

A couple months ago I saw a facebook post from an artist named Brenden Sanborn, along with a sample of his work.  I followed the link to his website and started falling in love.

To me, there is something so soothing and relaxing about watercolors.  But then to find that this gay artist creates watercolors of men and male couples just pushed me over the edge.  The signed prints were so reasonably priced I had to order a few!

They arrived before Christmas (with a hand-written note from the artist, thanking me for supporting his art) so I thought I might frame them and give them to Spouse as a Christmas gift, even though we don't really exchange gifts with each other anymore.  This would have been more of a gift for both of us.  But I wasn't able to decide what kind of frame I wanted, nor had I settled on exactly where these were going to hang, so I postponed the frame purchase.  Every week or so I would check the frame selection at HomeGoods but nothing really made me pull the trigger until this week.

I found these weathered-looking painted wood frames at HomeGoods for $9.99 each and I knew right then and there that they were what I wanted.  I brought them home and yesterday I inserted my signed prints and hung them in our bathroom.  

These are hung above our bath towel bars.  (Click the photo to enlarge.)
Left: "Timeless Love"  Right: "One Last Summer Swim"
I especially love the one of the guys on the beach since going to the beach is a big element of mine and Spouse's life.

These are also hung in our bathroom but these are in the water closet.  (Click the photo to enlarge.)
Left: "Let Me Be Your Shelter"  Right: "A Night In Paris"

The one on the right is especially apropos since Spouse took me to Paris for my 50th birthday.  

I really like all of his watercolors, and it makes me feel good to support an artist who makes a living from creating art.  When Spouse came home from work and saw them on the wall he was very pleasantly surprised.  He confessed that he wasn't as fond of them the 1st time he saw them (unframed, in plastic), but he said he really thought they looked great in the frames I selected.  

Check out his work and see if you don't find yourself ordering some!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Censorship

So I log into Blogger yesterday or today (I forget which) and happen to see this notice at the top of the dashboard about a change to blog content beginning in late March.  I clicked on the link and read the notice.  Blogs that contain nudity that isn't considered 'artistic' or 'educational' will have to either remove that content or Blogger will make the blog private.  

I guess it remains to be seen how 'artistic' is defined.  I mean, I find almost all nudity to be artistic.

The interesting thing is that some blog writers received the notice via email, indicating their blog would likely be affected.  I did not get the email, so I'm assuming mine is not affected, but I'm really not sure.  My blog does not contain nude genitalia so I do not have content advisory that other blogs do.  Maybe that has something to do with it.  But my blog definitely does have nudity, so I'm not sure if nudity without showing genitalia is 'artistic' or not.

But I must say that I find all of this disappointing and bothersome.  YouTube and Facebook have always censored content and prohibited nudity.  I believe a big part of Blogger's popularity has been the fact that it did NOT censor content.  Blogger writers have been able to say and post whatever they want, be it 'artistic', 'educational', titillating, or smutty.  Its the very reason why we're HERE and not on Facebook and YouTube.

If blogs are forced to go 'private', how does a blog writer invite readers to the newly private blog?  How does a reader ask to be invited to a private blog?

I guess the other option is for blog writers to change platforms.  But whose to say that WordPress and other blog platforms won't follow suit?

I'm really not sure what to think about this whole situation, but I definitely feel disappointed that Blogger has decided to censor blog content.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Talent

Just about any pop singer (Katy Perry, Mariah Carey, Cher, etc) can make a great song in a studio full of sound engineers who can auto-tune and digitally correct their sound.  This is called technology.

But THIS, ladies and gentlemen, isn't technology.  Its called talent:

Technically correct LIVE singing filled with dynamics, emotion, control, and restraint.  These are attributes of talent that can't be duplicated with technology during a live performance.

Kudos to Lady Gaga for a beautiful tribute to these classic American songs, while simultaneously showing the world she's much more than just a pop singer.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Share/Cher Sunday

So this was happened in our house:

Me:  Was that your mom on the phone?  What's she up to?
Spouse:  Yeah.  Not much; she's going to the movies tomorrow.
Me:  What's she going to see, Fifty Shades of Grey?

This made us both laugh because Spouse's mother is an 85 year old Italian Catholic woman who calls any movie with an 'R' rating a "dirty movie".  Even if she wanted to see it, she'd be too afraid someone from church would see her there.

Spouse:  No, she's going to see The Theory of Everything with her new friend Beverly.  They met a church on Share Sunday.
Me:  Cher Sunday???  Is that when everyone wears feather headresses and sequined Bob Mackie knock-offs to church???

We both cracked up laughing, picturing THIS woman...
 dressed like THIS woman...
...at church.

Spouse:  You are insane, you know that??  (Still laughing)

Oh, but I wasn't finished.  In my very best Jack McFarland imitating Cher voice I began singing: "Praise Christ from whom all blessings flow..." complete with Cher's signature 'fall off' treatment on the word 'flow'.  I could barely finish this before collapsing into complete hysterics!

When I managed to pull myself together I continued imitating Cher's speech: 
 "Come on Chaz, let's go to church!  Its mother f*ckin' Cher Sunday for Chrissake!!"

More uncontrollable laughter!!

Spouse:  You need professional psychological help.
Me:  Laughter's the best medicine!



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Goodbye

If you've commented on my blog posts in the past you may have seen comments from Wayne Da'Cajun.  He and I have read and commented on each other's blogs for a couple years now.  I learned that he passed away very early yesterday morning, after a long and valiant fight with cancer.  How fitting that Da'Cajun (originally from New Orleans) would choose Fat Tuesday to depart this world.

I'm not going to pretend that we were close friends.  In reality, we 'knew' each other mostly from reading each others blogs.  He worked at a restaurant I frequent, so we've met in person several times but had no time for substantive conversation there.  We also met at the blogger meet-up here in DE back in 2013, where we had more opportunity to spend time together.

I can say with confidence that Wayne was a lovely person.  His thoughtful and intelligent blog posts were very different from my style of writing, but they were completely him.

He was known for his smile, which everyone who knew him will sorely miss.
Photo lifted from Wayne's facebook page


Monday, February 16, 2015

Keeping it local

Spouse & I decided we wanted an electric space heater.  

This was last Fri, Feb 13, still very much wintertime, even here at the beach.  So we went to Lowe's, where we'd seen heaters before, but they had none on this visit.  Next we went to Home Depot, but they had none either.  Finally we went to Walmart only to find they had none as well.

As I mentioned, its mid-February and still very much wintertime, yet no space heaters were available for purchase.

But do you know what they had in the store where the space heaters had been??

Grass seed.  Fertilizer.  Patio furniture. 

Remember that its winter and the temperatures have been below freezing at least at night.  There is no point in spreading grass seed on frozen ground, and it will be at least 2-3 months before anyone around here will be able to use outdoor furniture.

The same thing happens in other stores.  A few years ago I tried to find a pair of navy shorts in early July.  Nearly all the clothing stores had their winter coats and sweaters out.  Not a single pair of navy shorts in any size to be found.

Last Sept I went to the Dollar Tree and they had Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas merchandise in the store all at the same time.  In Sept.  This rushing of the seasons is equally annoying to me.  Who wants to buy Christmas cookie tins and have them sit around for 3 months?

This begs the questions:  Why do stores insist on selling out and not replenishing seasonal items when they are still in season?  Why do stores insist on filling up the shelves and isles with merchandise people can't use for 2-3 months?  Whose interests does this serve?  Certainly not the public's.

So Fri night Spouse & I returned home and I ordered an electric space heater from Amazon.com.  There were multiple brands and models to choose from, and with our Prime membership the shipping was free and they promised delivery by Sun.  It arrived on Sun as promised.

I normally try to shop locally because it invests in retailers who provide local jobs for people in my local community.  But I couldn't help but think about the fact that my local retailers don't seem nearly as concerned with providing me with seasonal merchandise as I am to support their stores and employees.  

Maybe this is the new reality.  Maybe brick-n-mortar stores will just provide next season's merchandise for those who really want to plan ahead, and those of us who want in-season merchandise will just obtain it from afar.  I hadn't been thinking that way, but I am now.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's day myths debunked

Valentine's day is tomorrow.  This week several of my favorite shows (The Middle, Modern Family, Blackish, etc) aired their Valentine's day episodes which I enjoyed.

While Valentine's day is supposed to be the holiday celebrating love, I'm disturbed by the increasing amount of people who hate it.  When I hear the reasons why some people hate this holiday it sounds like a bunch of sour grapes to me.

So that is why I've decided to debunk several Valentine's day myths for you.  You're welcome.

Myth:  Valentine's day reminds single people that they are alone.
Reality:  Christmas reminds Jews, Atheists, and Jehovah's Witnesses that they aren't getting any gifts that day.  Big deal!  Its not their holiday!  Its 1 day out of 365 so don't be a hater.  You wouldn't despise someone with a cupcake because you're on a diet!

Myth:  You can't get a restaurant reservation.
Reality:  You can if you don't wait until the last minute.  Put it on your calendar on Jan 14th to make a dinner reservation for Valentine's day.  A month ahead you'll have your choice of where to dine.

Myth:  If you do get a reservation, the restaurant will be crowded and over-priced.
Reality:  Again, if you aren't Last Minute Larry you can make a reservation for a place with modest prices.  Or, you can just enjoy spending the evening with your loved one and not worry about the cost.  Or, you can cook a lovely and romantic dinner for your sweetie at home and avoid the restaurants entirely.

Myth:  I'll have to buy expensive roses and chocolates.
Reality:  No you don't.  While those things are common on Valentine's day, there's no law that says you can't get an arrangement of beautiful cut flowers instead of roses, or your sweetie's favorite candy bar instead of a box of chocolates.  Be creative! 

Myth:  I'll have to get a stupid, mushy card that's not my style.
Reality:  What could be more romantic than making your own Valentine's card?  Pick up some inexpensive supplies at the dollar store and make your own card - romantic or funny - that IS your style.  It can say whatever you want it to say!

Myth:  There's so much pressure to find a nice gift.
Reality:   While there is a limit to how many stuffed animals or pieces of jewelry one should give, in reality Valentine's day gifts are no different that birthday or Christmas gifts.  Don't wait until the last minutes.  Use your imagination and take some time to think of what you're sweetie may have hinted recently.  Or, think of the his/her hobbies and get something related to one of them.  It doesn't have to be expensive to be meaningful.

Myth:  If you're single there's nothing for you to do on Valentine's day.
Reality:  Wrong!  Plan to get together with some of your single friends, dress up nice and cute and go to happy hour at your favorite bar/pub.  It will be less crowded than usual since the couples won't be there.  Plus, you may meet someone else single there.  Or, invite a few friends over, order Chinese delivery, and watch a movie or a scripted series marathon.

In a perfect world everyone would have a special someone, would tell them often that they love them, and would bring them gifts and cards and flowers for no reason.  But most of us do not live in such a perfect world so Valentine's day is the day we are reminded to express our feelings.  This is not a bad thing!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Mood indigo

My weekend was kind of backwards.  Typically I work on Saturdays and am off (most) Sundays, but this weekend I was inexplicably scheduled off on Sat and scheduled to be in the office on Sun.

Although off Sat I did actually meet with a client and showed her 2 townhomes between 10-11:30, then headed home.  I was hoping Spouse & I could take advantage of this oddity of my schedule and do something fun or different, but didn't care for any of my ideas for things to do during the day.

I suggested that we might check out a comedy show that night that my clients had earnestly recommended.  "They said it was hilarious" I told him.  He countered back by asking if they were old, white, straight people.  I confirmed they were indeed all of the above, to which he said "no thanks".

That's when it started.

I said "You know, days like this make me frustrated.  I'm off on a Sat and I suggest we do something fun or different but you don't want to.  I suggest a comedy show that comes highly recommended, but you don't want to.  In fact, nearly every time I suggest things to do, you don't want to.  You never want to do anything other than eat out and watch TV."

"We went to the movies Fri night!" he countered.  "Yes, because I told you I wanted to see that movie about 2 dozen times before it even came out.  And when was the last time we went to the movies prior to that?"

Silence.

"I've suggested trying out Furst Friday, happy hour, karaoke night, concerts, plays, and you reject them all.  You bailed on me for Deb's birthday party and for Tim & Randy's holiday party, so I ended up going alone.  Staying home and watching TV is fine sometimes, but I don't want to forgo all social activities to do that."

"Fine.  I don't care anymore" he responded.

"What does that mean?  You don't care about what?"

Silence.  He was finished listening and talking.  The discussion was over.  He shut down.

While 'opposites' may 'attract', they don't necessarily cooperate or compromise.  I guess I have been feeling lately that I am the only one doing any cooperating or compromising.  

So we left each other alone for the rest of the day to languish in our mood indigo.  Around 6pm Steve texted to see if we wanted to go out to dinner, so we did.  

I knew Spouse would get over his anger with me, and I would get over my frustration with him.  But those things needed to be said.  I needed him to know how I am feeling, that I'm not satisfied to sit at home every night.  I want to try new things.  Maybe they'll be great fun and maybe they'll be duds, but at least we got out there and tried them.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Church

The 1st time I heard this song it was performed on "The Sing Off" as a judge's choice.  Its not as 'melodic' as lots of other songs in my opinion that have a 'catchy' hook or chorus, so it really didn't stick in my mind.

However, I recently saw the video for this song and I must say its message is powerful.
 
It reminds me of what has been going on in Russia.  The HBO documentary "Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia" exposed the horrible way gays and lesbians are treated, both by private citizens and by the police and government. 

While the lyrics don't suggest the song is about a gay couple, the video is quite clear.

Watch the video and see if you're not moved.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Polar Bear Plunge weekend recap

A couple readers asked me how the Polar Bear Plunge weekend went, so I'll share a few photos and recap.

As predicted, Kerry & Hugh arrived in the late afternoon on Sat with Javier, Emely, Brandyn, Alison, Gabe, and Matty.  Knowing me so well, Kerry presented me with 2 gifts:
Fabulous cocktail napkins and a magnet
These napkins made me howl with laughter!!  I love the magnet too, but it won't stick to the stainless steel appliances in our kitchen, so maybe I'll put it on the washer or dryer.  We hung out for a little while and then went to dinner at Dos Locos.  Fortunately everyone loved their food and I was able to stick to my Fit for Life plan by getting veggie fajitas.  Afterward we returned to the house where some watched a horror film while others talked until bedtime.

Sun morning we had a casual breakfast and hung out together, then everyone got ready for the big plunge.  All 6 of our visiting friends did the plunge except Alison. 
Shedding their clothes minutes before the start of the plunge
Spouse held Kerry & Hugh's dog and I shot the video for them.

Fortunately it wasn't a bitter cold day.  By the time of the plunge it was about 40 degrees and there was very little breeze, so it wasn't terribly cold for those of us who were dry spectators.  Different story for the wet plungers!  There were over 3,000 registered plungers who raised over $780K for the Special Olympics of DE.

After returning to the house, having a hot shower, and changing into warm dry clothes, we went to lunch at Irish Eyes.  Again I stayed on my Fit for Life plan and had salad with lobster on top.  Our friends packed up their gear and headed home.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Movie night

Several weeks ago I began seeing trailers on tv for the upcoming movie "Project Almanac".  Since I've always had a thing for time travel movies I told Spouse he had to take me to see this film when it came out.

I was hoping we could do a 'date night' where we'd go to dinner just the 2 of us (we usually eat out with friends) and then go to the movie, kind of like how a new couple goes on a date.  But for whatever reason, it didn't feel like that at all.

We went to dinner at 6:30 because we were both hungry (both on diets) so we were done by 7:45.  The movie didn't start until 9:15 and I'd already purchased the tickets online.  So after dinner, we just ended up going back home, brushing our teeth, and watching a little tv until it was time to go to the theater.

I enjoyed the movie a lot.  Its about 3 high school seniors who are science-geniuses who 'discover' that they had already created a time travel device.  Realizing they had already done this, they go about figuring out how to create it, and begin testing it on inanimate objects with success before sending themselves back in time.  They are joined by 1 of the guy's sister and a girl on whom he has a crush.  As is always the case with time travel, their very re-appearance in the past creates changes in the present which the 5 friends are not prepared for.

Blogger won't allow me to upload any videos today, so to watch the trailer CLICK HERE.

My only beef with the movie is that it was filmed using a handheld camera to make it seem like the sister had filmed the entire movie.  Since I am prone to motion sickness, movies filmed with a handheld camera tend to make me nauseous, so I had to look away (at the sconce on the wall) from time to time to keep from really getting sick.

Afterward, it was a little after 11pm so we just went home, let the dogs out for their last pee of the night, and then went to bed.  It didn't feel like a 'date night' at all, so I titled this post 'movie night' rather than 'date night'.  Maybe next time.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekend wackiness

Our dear friends Kerry & Hugh (and a handful of others) are arriving tomorrow afternoon.  They come every year for the Polar Bear Plunge which raises money for the Special Olympics of DE, and we always have a great time together.


They should arrive in the afternoon, we'll visit for a while, and then go to dinner.  Sun morning we'll have a leisurely breakfast and then head to the beach.  They have been plunging into the cold water for the last several years, to raise money for the Special Olympics of DE.  Some years the weather has been relatively mild (40s or 50s), while other years its been colder.  The high temperature on Sun is supposed to be 38, but of course the breeze at the beach will make it feel colder.

CLICK HERE for a video from a recent year's plunge.

Spouse & I do not plunge.  Spouse holds Kerry & Hugh's little Yorkie and I film the plunge for them.  There is no charity so dear to my heart to get me to jump into that cold ocean water on the 1st Sun in Feb!! After the plunge everyone will shower and then we'll have a late lunch together before they head back to VA. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow my god!!!

So the east coast was supposed to get a boat load of snow from an enormous storm.  My area was predicted to see snow beginning around 11pm Mon night, continuing through mid-day Tues, with a total accumulation of up to 8".  One of the school systems even closed schools at noon on Mon even though the snow wasn't supposed to start until much later that night!

Apparently the storm developed further offshore than expected so the actual snowfall amounts were much lower than predicted.  My area only got a slight dusting - not even enough to cover the grass or street.  It was pretty much a non-event.  Kids went to school on time, though most had probably stayed up late the night before in anticipation of a snow day.

But I get it.  Meteorologists don't control the weather; they simply try to predict it based on computer models.  But I also believe that the media over-reports potential weather events in order to boost TV viewership.  Our local news had 'live footage' of a reporter standing on a street corner around 10pm waiting for snow to start falling.  Come on now!!

This graphic began floating around facebook and I thought it was too funny not to share.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Score!

On Sat Spouse & I did a little shopping.  I needed a baby gift for some clients/friends who recently had their 1st child.  Found a great gift for a great price at HomeGoods.

I also needed some shoes.  I was looking for something not as dressy as a hard sole dress shoe, but not as casual as a Sketcher shoe.  A middle-of-the-road shoe is just what I need for the Dockers-style pants I wear to work most days.

1 of the stores we looked in was the Bass outlet/factory store.  I'm a rather picky shopper and never buy anything that isn't at least on sale, if not on clearance, so I was delighted to find not 1 but 2 pairs of shoes I liked in my size on clearance.
On the left is an updated wingtip in black with a grey plaid inset.  On the right is a tan saddle shoe with dark brown suede.  I normally wear size 10 but these were a little snug so wound up getting size 10 1/2.  They fit great and are very comfortable.

The shelf label claims the "regular price" was $160. for each pair, but were on "clearance" for $29.99.  That's more than 80% off.  While I'm skeptical that these shoes ever actually sold for $160. I felt that $29.99 was a very, very good price for these shoes.  Score!

So I bought both pairs.  I figure I'll wear the black ones with my navy and grey pants and with jeans, and I'll wear the tan ones with my various shades of khaki pants.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday fragments

Two weeks in a row now I find that a post comprised of several small topics works for me, so here goes another Friday fragments.

The other day I needed to call our car insurance agency, Progressive.  After my purpose was accomplished and the call was ending, I said to the customer service rep "Say hi to Flo for me!" Apparently I'm not the 1st one to think of this, as the rep responded "Oh, I will" without missing a beat.

On Mon I had my week 2 weigh-in and was encouraged to see that I had lost 5 lbs again.  That makes 10 lbs in 2 weeks.  This Fit for Life is really working for me.  Yes, I sometimes feel deprived when I want to eat a big, juicy burger with fries, but that's what got me in this situation to begin with.  I still eat most of what I like, but not together.  I'll eat a burger without the bun or fries with salad or a veggie.


Spouse & I have been watching American Horror Story Freak Show and this week was the finale.  It was not what I was expecting, but I liked it.  The series was very interesting, albeit gory at times, so now I think we're going to go back to the earlier series (Asylum and Coven) and watch them.  Anyone else like American Horror Story?


I've been letting the top of my hair grow out for the last 2 month, and only getting the sides and back cut.  I'm doing this because I want a new, modern hairstyle called an Undercut.  There is the slicked back version which is better suited for guys like Brad Pitt with straighter hair...
...and there is a more casual, non-slicked back version that is better suited for guys like me with wavy hair...
Not surprising, Spouse is not a fan of this style.  He says its for hipsters and younger guys, but I reminded him that Brad Pitt has this cut and he's only 11 days younger than me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Birthday

So yesterday was my mother's birthday.  She turned 79.

As you may recall, my parents belong to the Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) religion.  They do not celebrate birthdays, or any other holiday for that matter.  They believe that birthday celebrations and holidays (including Christmas and Easter) have pagan roots.  None of these holidays are mentioned in the Bible either, which they claim to follow strictly.

But even if the JWs did celebrate birthdays and holidays, I would not be able to celebrate with my mother or other family members because I am gay and their religion (like many) believes that being gay is a sin.  Since I chose to leave the JW religion to be gay 22 years ago, my family and other JWs I used to know have shunned me.  That is what they are taught to do when someone leaves their religion.

So its a little weird for me today, thinking about my mother and it being her birthday.  While her birthday is 'just another day' to her, I think about it more as she and my father age.  He is 82. They are both in reasonably good health for their ages, but I know that 1 day in the not-so-distant future I will learn that 1 of them has passed, and I won't know how to react.  

I mean, of course anyone would be sad when a relative passes.  But for me, having been shunned for the last 22 years, it feels like they already passed.  My connection to them, my relationship with them, my ability to spend time with them all ended 22 years ago.  Yet, when I eventually get that call, I will be forced to experience their loss again.

Disfellowshipped/shunned people are permitted to attend funerals of JWs, but I wonder if I will go. Funerals are such sad occasions to begin with.  Part of me asks why I would put myself into a situation where I will be permitted to attend, but will not be spoken to by anyone except my few non-JW relatives.  Another part of me says that if I don't attend, it will cause my family and former friends to think I'm cold and uncaring.  But then again, what do I care what they think of me??

So rather than wrapping a thoughtful gift, singing "Happy birthday", or giving my mom a kiss on the cheek, these are the thoughts on my mind today.