Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Memories of Halloweens passed

Because I was raised in the Jehovah's Witnesses religion, I didn't celebrate or dress up for Halloween. JWs believe that it "glorifies the Devil" to do so, even though you and I know its really just for fun. (Actual Devil glorifiers probably have a very different way of celebrating.) So I didn't begin celebrating or dressing up for Halloween until I left that religion, at age 30. This year on Halloween I'm sharing some highlights and memories of some Halloweens passed.

The 1st time I dressed up for Halloween I dressed as Pee Wee Herman. I already had a grey plaid suit and white dress shirt so the only things I needed to buy were a small red bow tie (purchased at a kid's store) and a bottle of black temporary hair dye. My friend Debbie helped me dye my hair black. The 1st time it came out charcoal grey, so we did it again to get it black. Then I put on my shirt, tie, and suit and turned the hem of my suit pants under and pinned them so that my white socks would show. The look was complete! Too bad I don't have any photos of it. For years I'd been perfecting my Pee Wee Herman voice and laugh, which came in very handy! I went to a Halloween party and stayed 'in-character' the entire time. It was a lot of fun.

Another year I decided to dress up as a patient in a hospital bed. A colleague gave me the idea, and it was really challenging to put it all together. I started by getting a large sheet of cardboard and cutting a hole in it about 1/3 of the way in from the end. Then I took a pair of panty hose and stuffed them with balled up plastic grocery bags (to fill them up without making them heavy) and stapled them to the cardboard. Then I stepped inside the hole and pulled the cardboard up to my waist, as if I were pulling up my pants. I used some twine tied to small holes in the cardboard and slipped them over my shoulders to act as suspenders to hold up the cardboard. Then I covered the stuffed panty hose (legs) with a white sheet, put on a hospital gown I purchased from a medical supply store, covered the back of the cardboard with another white sheet, and stapled a pillow behind me. Here's a photo of the finished product:

It looks like I'm sitting up in a hospital bed, right? But in reality I'm standing. My friend Jason decided to dress up as a wacky surgeon, and after this photo was taken we added fake blood to his scrubs, arms and face. We went to a party and entered the costume contest. I won 1st place for my hospital patient costume!
Another year 5 female colleagues/friends and I dressed up as the Village People. Now, I have to explain that these colleagues/friends were not 20 or 30 years old like I was at the time. These were mature women, mothers, and grandmothers. In fact, the 'Army Guy' in the fatigues is the mother of a girl I went to high school with, and she had several grandchildren! I honestly don't recall how we decided to do this. I only remember being glad that I'd been assigned 'The Cowboy' because I knew I had a suede vest and that Spouse had a pair of cowboy boots I could borrow. So here we are: 5 women and me dressed as the Village People, doing the "Y.M.C.A." dance in the office cafeteria with the song blaring from a boom box.
Our office mates were so taken with our performance that they requested an encore. We'd only prepared a dance for one song (Y.M.C.A.) but we quickly decided to just wing it and followed up with "Macho Man". Being the big ole' homo that I am, I immediately thought of dance moves to accompany the lyrics, and my fellow Village People took their dance queues from me and imitated what I did as the song went on. It was hysterical. Definitely the best Halloween memory ever!

Then last Halloween I dressed up as Boy George. I'd put the costume together earlier in the year for a 1980s party, and easily resurrected it for Halloween. This photo was taken at Freddie's Beach Bar. There's Richard Simmons on the left, me as Boy George in the middle, and the Bride of Frankenstein on the right.
Freddie's had a costume contest too, and I should have won 1st place. Everyone in the bar told me my costume was the best. But during the contest judging another contestant gathered a big group of friends in front of the judges area to whoop, holler and cheer. The judges picked the contestant with the cheer leading friends instead of me, who had the audience vote. I felt like Al Gore in the 2000 election.

Spouse & I aren't dressing up for Halloween this year. We were invited to a costume party last Sat night, but we weren't able to go because of my high school reunion cocktail party. I checked all the local joints here and none of them are having costume parties or contests tonight; they all had them last Sat. So we will stay home, dressed as 2 suburban homos, and give out candy. I bet we won't even have 3 kids come to our door. There really aren't any children in our neighborhood. But we'll be ready, just in case.
Drag Queen name of the day: Annie Bellum

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Workin' my last nerve

Boy oh boy, Jordan was workin' my last nerve yesterday!

When I got up to shower, she was sleeping on her bed on the floor in our bedroom, as usual. When I finished showering and opened the curtain to grab a towel she was pacing around the bathroom, panting, and doing that little half-bark to get my attention. I perceived she needed to pee so I told her ‘okay, just a minute’ while I quickly dried off.

I opened the bedroom door to get my bathrobe from the guestroom closet so I could quickly take her out. I figured the robe would be quicker than getting dressed. As soon as I opened the door she bolted down the stairs. I told her again to ‘wait a minute, I’ll be right there’ while I quickly put on my robe and came down the stairs. I found her squatting and peeing on the doormat at the front door! I swatted her on the head and hollered ‘NO!’ while unlocking the door and letting her out to finish peeing in the yard.

How could she be asleep one minute, and then be absolutely incapable of holding her pee the next minute? I know the steroid injection she got last week makes her thirsty and she drinks more water, but I also think she just got impatient.

After she finished peeing in the yard she came back inside and I took the mat and hung it over the porch railing. Fortunately the mat is rubber-backed, so none of the pee got on the wood floor. Then she was pacing around again, like she wanted to poop, so I put her on the leash and took her outside. In my bathrobe. Apparently she didn't need to poop, she wanted to go for a walk. But I was in a thin, summertime bathrobe and nothing else, so I told her to 'go poop in the yard'. She wouldn’t do it. She just stood on the driveway while I got madder and madder at her. I walked her over into the grass and told her very sternly several times to poop. She just looked away from me and sat down in the grass. For an inkling, I could almost understand how someone could mistreat an animal that was as frustrating as she was at that moment. I entertained the idea of simply going inside and leaving her to roam the streets at will. Surely it wouldn't take long until she became roadkill.

Since she didn't need to poop and I was finished with my summertime bathrobe fashion show for the neighbors, I made her come back inside and back upstairs with me, so I could keep an eye on her while I brushed my teeth, put on deodorant, and got dressed.

Then I fed her and took her for a walk and she acted as if nothing unusual had happened a few minutes ago. She sniffed at everything and wagged her tail as we walked around the block. She finally decided to poop, in our neighbor Brenda’s front yard. The antibiotics have given her very soft, loose poops that are difficult to pick up completely. When I was trying to get as much of it as possible up out of Brenda's grass, I found the plastic poop-scoop bag had a tear in it and I accidentally got some poop on my hand! Yuck!!!

So I immediately brought her home, curtailing her desire to stop and smell everything, so I could wash my hand. I also washed the plastic part of the leash, since my poopy hand had gotten poop on the leash. It was so frustrating, but unfortunately it was not over.

As I washed up, Jordan slurped up a camel's-worth of water before we headed upstairs to my office. As is our routine, she follows me up the stairs and I give her a milk bone and verbal praise for her obedience. She ate it and then laid down to nap. All was well.

An hour or so later she roused herself from her nap and walked out of my office and down the hallway to the entrance of our bedroom. This wasn't alarming to me, since she sometimes migrates from the bare wood floor to an area rug. Since there's no area rug in my office, the one in the hallway seemed the closest, so I kept on working. Sometime later I needed to go to the bathroom so I walked down the hallway and found that Jordan had thrown up on floor next to the area rug. Again I entertained temporary fantasies of retaliation, such as pushing her out the 2nd story window, but instead I cleaned up the vomit and cursed her in my head. But there's more.

Around 3:00 I went downstairs for a drink and to get the mail. Since Jordan followed me downstairs I decided to suggest she go outside and pee, which she did. As a reward for peeing outdoors instead of indoors, I gave her lots of verbal praise and another milk bone. She ate it and slurped up another camel's-worth of water. I put the last few items in the dishwasher, added detergent, and turned it on. As I was walking from the kitchen passed the side door I saw Jordan had thrown up the water and milk bone on the side doormat! This time I considered dropping her off on the doorstep of the local animal shelter (and I wasn't thinking about the 'no-kill' one either), but instead I carefully picked up the rubber-backed mat and hung it over the porch railing, like the other one earlier in the day.

Then I looked at Jordan and said something that intentionally sounded like dialog from a Lifetime movie: "Why are you doing this to me? Why are you ruining my life? All I ever wanted was for you to be happy. Is this how you return that love?" But not feeling quite satisfied with that, I put on my 'street' voice and said "You're skatin' on thin ice, Sister. One more false step from you and its curtains. Curtains I tell ya!!!"

I think the 'street' voice was most effective, as she didn't give me anymore trouble the rest of the day.

Drag Queen name of the day: Jewel Reebox

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cocktail party

We left Sat morning at 9:30. It was raining but very warm so we were comfortable wearing shorts. About 1/2 way the rain finally gave way to partly cloudy skies, and by the time we arrived at Spouse's mom's at noon, the sun was out.

We took Spouse's mom to lunch at Capitol City Brewing Company, a restaurant I like but haven't been to since some time before we moved. I love the warm pretzels and horseradish dipping sauce they give you to nibble on until your food arrives! I had the beer-battered fish and chips, Spouse had the meatloaf platter, and Spouse's mom Evelyn had a cheese steak. Afterward we drove around a little, seeing what had changed since we'd move away. It was so pleasant outside we were in no hurry to return to being indoors.

Eventually we returned to Ev's house. Spouse took a nap while Ev & I talked, mostly about her upcoming social events with her various clubs: The Red Hat Society, The Fourty-Niners, The Sons of Italy, etc. She'll be 78 this Dec but she still gets around! She's constantly cracking me up with her funny outlook on things, and because of an odd little habit of removing the "s" off of words. So, instead of telling me where she was going with the Red Hats, she told me where she was going with the Red Hat, as if she were going with a single, giant, red hat! Likewise, the Sons of Italy becomes the Son of Italy, as if there were just 1 son. I don't know why but this amuses me to no end. Then we watched a little TV until it was time to get dressed and leave for my 25th high school reunion cocktail party.

I wore black dress pants and a long sleeve button up shirt with an aqua blue print. The shirt was originally $46. but I got it from a clearance rack where it had been marked down to $3. It looked like an expensive shirt and I was sure no one would guess what a bargain it was. Spouse wore black dress pants and a grey long sleeve shirt with embroidery on it. We both looked very nice.

We arrived at Kerry & Hugh's house about 45 minutes before the party was to start, so we could help with any last minute preparations. Most everything was done, so all we really did was put out some tea light candles and remind ourselves to light them just before the guests started to arrive. Then I made the pitchers of cocktails: Cosmopolitans, Appletinis, and Margaritas.

As guests began to arrive at 7:00 I tried hard to remember who they were. People change a lot between the ages of 17 and 43! But then there were a few that I recognized right off the bat, either because they hadn't changed very much or because they had a distinct look about them that would never change. It was fun seeing everyone introducing themselves and asking "Now, did you graduate with us or are you a spouse?" Since we'd only invited about 75 people we decided against name tags. They just seemed too formal. In a group this small (compared to a full-scale reunion) we shouldn't have any trouble just introducing ourselves, and it worked out just fine. I lost count of how many compliments I received on my shirt!

A few people brought their yearbooks, photo albums, and scrap books and several folks roared with laughter over their content. Everyone seemed to have a good time. The food and drinks were great and appreciated by all, and the night flew by like a run-away locomotive. I couldn't believe my eyes when I heard people saying goodbye, looked at the clock, and saw it was almost midnight! I also couldn't believe my feet, which were aching. I'm not used to standing up for 6 hours.

Although he'd met very few of the folks before, Spouse was a good sport for enduring the evening as I skipped down memory lane. Maybe he knew how important it was to me for him to be there, as my partner, with all the right to be there as the spouses of my hetero classmates. I was glad that one of my classmates brought and introduced her 'partner'.

I still can't believe I've been out of high school for 25 years. It just seems impossible.

Sun morning we had coffee and chatted with Ev until 9:30. We packed our things and left just as her friend arrived to pick her up. We got home shortly after noon and met Rick & Nick in Rehoboth for the doggie costume contest. We were late so we just saw the end, but it was nice to be out in the sunshine after 4 days of rain. It was significantly cooler and windy on Sun. We had a late lunch with Rick & Nick, came home, walked Jordan, then went to the grocery store.

Drag Queen name of the day: Kathy Kizzem

Friday, October 26, 2007


TGIF. This has kinda been a long week. Not a particularly busy week, which is probably why it feels long.

Last evening when Spouse got home we both had the same thought. (I swear, despite our many differences, we often synchronize over the oddest things.) It was cool and rainy outside and we both felt like eating pasta. I suggested we had bow tie pasta in the cupboard, but he reminded me we had no sauce. So we decided to go out into the rain for our mutually desired comfort food.

There's no shortage of places to get pasta around here; nearly every restaurant serves it, and there are several Italian places within a 5 mile radius of our home in Lewes. But Spouse really wanted to drive 20 minutes to Oak Orchard so we could eat at Serendipidy, a restaurant that overlooks the Indian River.

When we arrived there were only a few tables occupied so we seated ourselves at a table by the window, and marveled at the choppy water. The wind had picked up and made the water dance. It really was worth the drive to be there.

Spouse had gnocchi and meatballs and I had ziti and meatballs. Delicious! The meatballs are huge and definitely homemade. Its a sin how much food they gave us! Despite neither of us being shy at the dinner table, we were only able to eat 1/2 our meals, taking the rest home in doggy boxes. We ate our left-overs for lunch today.

We're leaving tomorrow morning to head back to DC. Some friends and I are hosting a 25th high school reunion cocktail party Sat night at Kerry's house. I'm in charge of the cocktails - surprise! It should be a fun, casual, yet grown-up evening. I still can hardly believe I've been out of high school for 25 years. How could this be, when I only feel 29? Time can play tricks on ya, you know?

We'll stay overnight at Spouse's mom's house, and then come back Sun morning. She's leaving at 10am for a day trip with friends and we decided that, rather than hanging around and trying to hook up with available friends, we'd simply head back home and most likely go to the beach. The sun is supposed to return on Sunday and the temperature is supposed to reach 67 degrees, so I think we'll have some lunch when we get home, and then grab the beach chairs!

Drag Queen name of the day: Dolly Lahma

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday thoughts

Have you ever noticed how many bloggers use the words "random thoughts", "random musings", and "random meanderings"? Seems like an excessive amount of randomness to me.

I still can not get yesterday's post (tortured, raped woman) out of my head. Sad as it is, there doesn't seem to be a darned thing that can be done to prevent this kind of behavior. Sociopaths exist among us until they commit horrible crimes and get put away (hopefully).

True to the forecast, it has been raining off and on yesterday and today. Sometimes hard, creating 'gully washers' that make the mulch float out of our flower beds and down the driveway. We really need the rain though.

It appears we will not be having a 'typical' fall here at the beach; perhaps no fall at all. It has been too warm and we haven't had enough rain for the leaves to transform from green to gold, rust, red, and brown. Instead the trees are still mostly fully of (green) leaves, despite the fact that Halloween is less than a week away. Those leaves that fell did so green and have turned a sickly pale beige while laying on the ground. I predict that in a few weeks the temperature will drop to somewhere in the 40s one night and all the sudden it will be winter, with no evidence that fall ever arrived.

I'm happy that we have done a good job staying in touch with our friends from the DC area since we moved 10 1/2 months ago to DE. I counted 15 different sets of friends and/or family that have come to visit us. Some of these friends have come more than once. And almost every time we go back to DC for a weekend we connect with at least 2 sets of friends. But now that DE feels more and more like our 'home' and we have formed friendships with locals, I am starting to notice the need to 'choose' between events/activities with treasured friends in DC and events/activities with local friends close to 'home'. This will not be easy to navigate, and will likely get harder as time passes.

Drag Queen name of the day: Ethel Alcohol

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Simply sickening

What is WRONG with people? For the life of me, I can not understand how people could be so filled with hatred to behave like this. Its sickening and heart braking.
Woman Wants Accused Torturers to 'Fry'
Posted: 2007-10-24 14:00:13

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Oct. 23) - Megan Williams thought she was going to a party.That is why she tagged along with a woman she says she hardly knew, up a remote West Virginia hollow to a run-down trailer surrounded by beer cans and broken-down furniture.

"But there wasn't no party," Williams told the Associated Press in one of her first public interviews since the arrest of six people now accused of becoming her captors. "I realized I'd made a bad mistake."

For days, the 20-year-old black woman was allegedly tortured, beaten, forced to eat feces - rat, dog and human - and raped by six white men and women who held her until Sept. 8.

A passer-by heard cries from the shed where she had been kept, and Logan County sheriff's deputies found her hours later.

Seated in a rocking chair in her mother's living room, about 50 miles from that shed, the slight woman says she was outnumbered by people who just wanted to hurt a black person."

They just kept saying 'This is what we do to niggers down here'," she recalls." I just hope they fry for what they did to me. That's really all I got to say," she says when asked what should become of her captors.

West Virginia does not have a state death penalty, but the six could spend the rest of their lives in prison if convicted of rape and kidnapping charges. Kidnapping carries a possible life sentence in West Virginia. Sexual assault is a crime punishable by up to 35 years in prison.

Williams and her family want the torture prosecuted as a hate crime, but no such charges have been filed by state or federal prosecutors. In West Virginia, a hate crime carries only a 10-year maximum penalty.

Prosecutors also say hate crime charges could complicate their case. Hate crimes are typically prosecuted in situations involving strangers, they say, and Williams knew one of the suspects before her captivity.

Megan's adoptive mother, Carmen Williams, says her daughter was trusting. "She's a little slow, so it's kinda hard for her to comprehend sometimes," she said. "So I think that played a big part in it." Carmen Williams will not disclose Megan's IQ but says she is "not at full capacity."

When Megan Williams does detail her alleged torture, it comes in fits. Horrifying, disjointed memories of all that she allegedly endured spill forth while she fidgets and frowns.

"They braided some switches together and beat me across the back when I was pickin' peas out the field. They tore my clothes off of me and everything, and then they took me up to the lake and they said that was the place they were going to cut my throat and throw me in, and I was never coming back to see my family again," she said.

She looks off into the distance at the end of each recollection. She often falls quiet, reverting to yes and no answers. At times she reaches up to touch her scalp, where her hair was cut off and yanked out during her ordeal.

For legal and mental health reasons, there are some details Williams has been advised not to discuss, such as the timeline of her captivity, the more graphic details of her experience and what, if any relationship she had with the defendants before the assaults. However, suspects in the case outline a series of sexual crimes.

Statements from Frankie Brewster and her son Bobby Brewster allege that Williams was forced to perform oral sex on Frankie Brewster under threat of death, that she was forced to perform oral sex on Danny Combs at knifepoint, that she was made to lick their toes, raped and humiliated.

It was that fear that led her to cut her duct-tape constraints with a knife she ferreted away, and hang her tiny arms out of the small window of the shed she was kept in, yelling for help.

Williams says "a guy named Eddie" heard her calls, and she believes he called for help. Within hours, deputies responded to an anonymous tip, and came to the Brewster trailer asking for Williams by name. She has no doubt that if the police had not shown up, she would be dead.

Charges against the six suspects are expected to go before a grand jury in January.

The defendants are: Bobby Brewster, 24; mother Frankie Brewster, 49; Combs, 20; Karen Burton, 46; Burton's daughter, Alisha Burton, 23; and George A. Messer, 27.

A coalition of civil rights organizations and black leaders are now uniting behind the Williams family, and it is receiving legal counsel from Black Lawyers for Justice co-founder Malik Shabazz.

"This case deserves national concern and national outrage," Shabazz said. "Megan Williams' case is 10 times, maybe 50 times, worse than what happened in Jena, Louisiana."

Hundreds are expected to attend a hate crime awareness march in Charleston on Nov. 3, an event endorsed by civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Conference of Black Mayors and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

On the Internet, a group supporting Williams has more than 230,000 members. Healing, however, has been a slow process. Williams has received hundreds of cards and gifts from as far away as Iraq. She hopes to use donations to her trust fund to obtain a high school diploma and attend university. She speaks of becoming a nurse's assistant.

She is slowly gaining weight, and her face lights up when asked about her favorite food."Ribs," she says, grinning. Then she looks to her mother and laughs.

Yet there are large scabs on her left leg, where her ankle was cut and her thigh was stabbed three times. She walks with a slight limp.

The nights are still difficult, she says, as memories of the abuse she suffered come in the form of terrifying dreams. Thankfully, she usually awakens to find her mother lying next to her.


Jordan update
Jordan doesn't give us any trouble with taking her pills because we shove them into a ball of peanut butter, which most dogs, including her, absolutely love. In addition to the antibiotics I gave her a Benedryl this morning, as a pre-emptive measure, to help with the itching. It has a real sedative affect on her and she almost seemed to be in a coma all day. But I figure the more she sleeps, the less she'll scratch and bite at her boo-boo. Her infected area has changed from pink to brown, and I hope this is a sign that she's healing.

After eating her dinner Spouse took her for a walk. She has 3 basic walks: #1 is just around the block, mostly in the mornings before I start work. #2 is the basic evening walk, over to Dupont Ave and back home via Fourth St. #3 is the extended evening walk, which starts out like the #2 but includes a side journey down Shipcarpenter St, a right onto Third St, and then back home via Mulberry St. Last evening Jordan selected walk #2, which told me she was feeling more energetic than she had this morning when she didn't even want to complete walk #1. When Spouse got home this evening I did as I normally do and said "Jordan, your daddy's home". Normally she jumps to her feet and runs to greet him at the door. This evening she groggily rose from her slumber and sauntered to greet him. I don't think I'm going to give her Benedryl tomorrow unless she seems to need it. She seems to be progressing.

Weather update
Despite the appearance of pumpkins on every front porch and wreaths of multi-colored indian corn on every front door, it still feels more like summer than fall. Today the temperature reached 81 degrees when I checked. Everyone is still wearing shorts and flip flops, and I couldn't be happier. I could feel the humidity increasing this afternoon. The forecast is for showers late tonight and tomorrow.

Work out update: session 7
Yesterday's work out was another where I successfully completed everything without having any blood pressure problems. Either I've gotten used to the work outs or eating a handful of trail mix 1/2 way through has done the trick. I did a new exercise called walking lunges that really worked my hamstrings. Today I am really feeling it. My temptation was simply to stay in this evening, but Spouse suggested we get some cardio by walking the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk (2 miles) so I agreed. It was warm, breezy and a little humid, and I reminded Spouse this was why we decided to move: to have access to the beach all the time. But despite the soreness it feels good to know I'm actually doing something to improve my health and appearance.

Rick's little Sheltie puppy Zack was in the gym again last evening. He is so funny! He really seems to like me. When I laid on my back for my floor exercises, Zack climbed up on my stomach, sat down, and stared right into my eyes! I had to laugh. Rick told Zack to get off me, but he didn't listen. So I started doing my 'reach for the ceiling' exercises with Zack on my stomach. As I rested from that I lightly scratched Zack's head and talked to him. He lowered his head and rested his chin on his front paws. I am SO not a dog person, but this little bugger has really got to me! Rick removed him from my stomach so I could continue my exercises, culminating with 50 'elbows and knees'. I can't believe it but I actually like working out now.

Construction update
The parade of construction vehicles continues to roar up and down our little, one-way street. Last week a cement mixer tore down the telephone line from a neighbor's house. (Since our house is new, all of the utility lines are buried.) She called the police and an officer went to the construction site at the end of the street and spoke to them. This did not seem to affect much, as the wrong way driving has not stopped. I'm still considering calling the police to voice my safety concerns, but haven't done so yet. I really thought that police officer's visit might improve the situation. So far the cinder block foundation has been built, the concrete slab poured, the initial utilities connected, and 3 of the 4 stud walls have been built.

Drag Queen name of the day: Terri Yockey

Monday, October 22, 2007


Jordan had another difficult night last night, and this morning we discovered she'd been biting a place near her tail to the point that it was very irritated and there was some blood.

So this morning Spouse called in sick, made an appointment at the vet, and took Jordan to get checked out. Turns out the poor girl has an infection and a rash, from an unknown source. They shaved the area she'd been biting and licking, exposing a very irritated, pink, swollen spot. The vet gave her a steroid shot, prescribed antibiotics, and gave Spouse some medicated powder to apply to the area when needed.

Jordan is obviously not feeling well. Her energy level is much lower than usual, but at least she's not scratching at herself like before. Hopefully the antibiotics will clear up the infection and she'll return to her normal self again.

When Spouse returned from the vet it was lunchtime. Again, the weather is absolutely unbelievable: sunny and 81 degrees, so we decided to put the top down on the convertible and 'treat' ourselves to lunch at our favorite lunch spot: Cafe Sole. We've been eating there for about 7-8 years, and almost always get the same thing. Spouse loves the Turkey Stuffer, which is basically Thanksgiving dinner on a roll. I am enamored by the Fried Oyster BLT with melted brie. Its heaven on a plate!

It is so gorgeous outside I was quite tempted to play hookie the rest of the afternoon. But I knew I had a conference call at 2:00 and figured I might was well finish out the day. So Spouse is taking a nap and I am back to work now.

I have my work out this evening at 5:00.

Drag Queen name of the day: Sheila Gree

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend full of friends

I dropped Spouse & Jordan off at his mom's Fri night and went to Freddie's for karaoke. It got very crowded very soon after I got there, and it took an hour for my name to get called to sing. Karaoke etiquette dictates that you are not supposed to sign up for another song until you have sung. However, when I finished my song I saw that the karaoke DJ had closed the sign up sheet - at 11:00. Karaoke goes until 1:30, but already they had so many signed up that they closed the sign up sheet. I was more than a little disappointed as I saw several young straight kids sing several times within an hour, which indicated to me they had not followed karaoke etiquette, and that the DJ was not paying attention. My friend Chris (from high school) was there, as were several other folks I've gotten to know from past visits, so I had a good time visiting with them even though I only got to sing once.

Unfortunately Spouse & I did not have a good night's sleep Fri night. The last few days Jordan has been coughing and scratching a lot. Attributing this to seasonal allergies, we'd started giving her Benedryl at night, which had helped some, but Spouse waited too late to give it to her Fri night. Jordan should have gotten the dose 30-45 minutes before bedtime. She woke us up several times.

Sat morning Spouse & I went to breakfast with his mother at the Silver Diner. She loves eating there and sometimes treats us to breakfast. Afterward his sister Mary stopped by and we visited some more at home with her, then met our friend Susan for lunch at the Taco House at noon. The weather was amazing so we ate lunch on their patio, then followed Susan to her new place. She used to live in a 12-floor condo but recently moved to a 2-level townhouse style condo. It was very cute and cozy. Our mutual friend Clara joined us at Susan's with her 3 month old son Kai. It was our first time seeing him. We had coffee and brownies and got caught up on each other's lives. Spouse & I left shortly after 3:00 and returned to his mom's house. He took a nap while she and I talked. At 5:30 we left to pick up my aunt Mary for dinner at McCormick & Schmick's, a fine seafood restaurant. We were celebrating Mary's and Spouse's birthdays. Mary had shrimp stuffed with crab imperial, Spouse & his mom both had grilled scallops, and I had red snapper stuffed with boursin cheese and lump crab. Our meals were all perfectly prepared! We finished up with apple pie with cinnamon ice cream, creme bruele, and tira misu, all home made with high-quality ingredients.

Sun we had a light breakfast at home and visited with Spouse's mom until 11:00, when we left to meet our friends Ron & James for brunch at 11:30. We met at the Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, which did not exist 9 months ago when we moved away. The building was boarded up after its last tenant moved out. It was beautifully remodeled and we found the brunch buffet to be completely delightful. It had lots of different items; not your typical brunch food. And since the weather was so exquisite again, we had brunch outside at a table on the sidewalk. We had a lovely time chatting and catching up with our buddies Ron & James. After returning to our home base and picking up Spouse's mom, we headed over to Trader Joe's. There are no Trader Joe's near us, and since we like their stuff so much we try to stock up while we're back in DC. When we returned to the house we packed our bag, tossed Jordan in the back, and left at 3:00.

I watched 'Brothers of the Head' from Netflix last night and Spouse watched TV in the other room. We gave Jordan another dose of Benedryl before going to bed at 10:30.

We had a really nice weekend and got to visit with lots of folks. The incredibly warm and sunny weather was the icing on the cake.

Drag Queen name of the day: Bella DeBall

Friday, October 19, 2007

A surprise

From my office window today I saw the mail man - oops, I mean 'letter carrier' - leave a box next to the front door on the porch. Immediately my mind raced to think what might be in the box. I couldn't recall having ordered anything recently, so I wasn't expecting any deliveries. Then I wondered if Spouse had made a purchase from HSN, and I began crafting a polite yet pointed statement about this latest unnecessary purchase. I saved the document I was working on and ran down the steps to get the box.

I looked at the sender's name/address and was a little disappointed to find the box had been sent by my company. I guess I was hoping for some item I'd forgotten I'd ordered. I couldn't imagine what my company would have sent me in a box that size.

Buried in multiple layers of bubble wrap I found a wooden plaque onto which was mounted a certificate of recognition for my 5 years of "loyal service" and "outstanding contribution". I was really surprised!

I remembered my 5 year anniversary had occurred around the middle of last month. I'm the kind of person who remembers the month and year I started and left every company for which I've worked. It wouldn't have surprised me to receive an email or card in the mail, acknowledging this employment milestone. Previous employers had done this, but I hadn't received any kind of recognition from my boss or anyone else from upper management so I simply assumed that kind of recognition just wasn't done here. "Your reward for 5 years of faithful service? You get to keep your job!" seemed more in keeping with the Corporate culture I'd come to know.

But perhaps this substantial recognition of my service and contributions is a deliberate attempt by our new CEO to change that sour culture. After all, he signed the certificate mounted on the plaque, and I appreciate this formal recognition.

When I used to manage people I found that nearly all of them responded positively to recognition. Whether it was for quickly and accurately completing a difficult assignment in a short period of time, or for a year without using sick leave, or even for volunteering to do the backed up filing. It seemed everyone responded positively to being recognized for their achievement. Since verbal recognition costs nothing but goes a long way, I made a habit of recognizing my team verbally often, and recognized them with 'surprises' when I could.

One year I got our director to foot the bill for the team to go bowling (on Company time) as a form of recognition. Everyone had fun and talked and laughed about it for weeks afterward. Another year for Christmas I used my own money to create small, decorated, customized gift baskets for each member of my team. They included a tree ornament, a mug, flavored coffee or tea or cocoa, holiday chocolates, and candy canes. They weren't that expensive to create, and everyone really liked them.

I've decided I'm going to send the CEO an email, thanking him for the plaque and recognition. Hopefully my expression of gratitude will encourage him to continue recognizing others' efforts.

Spouse & I are headed back to VA this evening for a visit with family and friends.

Oh, and forget what I wrote earlier about 'Father Fall' winning the fight with 'Mother Nature'. Temperatures have returned to the upper 70s and lower 80s again and it still feels like later summer. But you don't hear me complaining!

Drag Queen name of the day: Helen Damnation

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pets and pet Nazis

I guess we've all heard by now about Ellen's emotional plea for the private pet adoption agency to return the little dog Iggy to her hair stylist's daughters.

Apparently when Ellen adopted the little dog she signed an agreement stipulating that if she was unable to keep the dog, she had to return it to the pet adoption agency. But when the little dog didn't get along well with her cats, Ellen gave the dog to her hairstylist and her 2 daughters. The private pet adoption agency found out about it and promptly confiscated the pet from the 2 young girls, resulting in Ellen's televised waterworks display.

At 1st glance it may seem that Ellen's melodramatic plea was overly emotional at best, and more likely bordering on histrionic. Some say she used her status and power to 'try and get what she wanted' and 'not abide by the contract she signed'. Maybe so, but is that so different from what most celebrities do? Don't companies actually pay celebrities to use their status and power to promote their products and create awareness for their causes? I don't know that Ellen was doing anything different. She used her TV show and her celebrity status to try and get the dog returned to the 2 girls who loved it.

What I don't understand is why those private pet adoption agencies have to be Nazis about it. I can tell you from 1st hand experience that its almost as hard to adopt a pet from one of these private agencies as it is to adopt a child! If the agency's aim really is to see that the pets go to good homes, why are they so militant and unreasonable? I've not found State or County animal shelters to be so unreasonable.

Spouse doesn't believe in buying dogs and cats, since there are so many in shelters awaiting adoption. So when we decided to become parents we contacted a beagle and basset hound rescue league. A woman came to interview us and "inspect" (her word) our house and yard. She asked if we both worked full-time and when we replied that we did, she asked who was going to be at home to care for the dog during the day while we were at work? Quickly seeing where this was headed, Spouse lied and said we were hiring a pet sitter to come a few hours each day.

Are these people crazy? Who in their right mind would expect someone to stay home all day just because they adopted a dog? In my mind the chief difference between adopting a dog and a child is that the dog can be left alone for a few hours. Are single people who want to adopt a pet supposed to quit their job so they can stay home with their new furry friend? Who's going to pay the bills?

In the backyard the woman told us we needed to move our firewood pile away from the shed and fence. She claimed this 15-inch beagle was capable of climbing onto the firewood pile, jumping onto the roof of the shed, and jumping over the fence! I was just about to say "Well, she'll have to sprout wings and fly first!" when Spouse placated her by agreeing to move the wood pile. We never did, and the dog never so much as climbed onto the wood pile, much less used it as a springboard to freedom.

It was only by lying about the pet sitter and moving the firewood pile that we were permitted to adopt a dog.

I can certainly understand the need for home visits prior to placing pets with potential adopters. You wouldn't want to place a dog with someone who actually lives in a car rather than a home. You wouldn't want to place a cat with someone who already has 26 cats and lives in a 1 bedroom apartment. I see the value in home visits to weed out the crazies. But some of these people working at the private pet adoption agencies take it way beyond that and become pet Nazis.

Which is preferable, to place a dog with people who actually want it but who work full-time, or not permit the adoption, even though the people are nice and passed the home visit, leaving the dog in a kennel at the agency simply because the people work full-time? It seems to me that if the agency's true aim is to find homes for the pets, they could be a little more reasonable.

The beagle and basset hound rescue league required us to sign an agreement, just like Ellen, stating if for any reason we no longer wanted the dog, we had to return it to the agency. Is this because needing to give up a pet automatically turns us into such bad judges of character that we can't be trusted to place the pet with a stable friend, relative, or hairdresser? Sometimes people have to give up pets because of allergies. Sometimes people have to give up pets because a new job requires frequent overnight travel. There are many valid reasons why a pet may no longer be practical or possible, so people who need to give up pets shouldn't be viewed as unloving, uncaring monsters.

Its crazy to me that your neighbor's dog can have 11 puppies and nobody-but-nobody oversees who the puppies are given to or how they are cared for, yet a conscientious person trying to adopt a dog given to a private pet adoption agency must go through the equivalent to a top secret government clearance. The process robs you of your dignity. There's got to be a balance.

When we decided to become parents for the 2nd time we picked out a kitten from our County animal shelter. They asked us some basic questions to determine we weren't mentally ill or otherwise incapable of caring for the kitten, and then encouraged us to take the little guy home with us that day. I suggested we go to the pet store 1st and get a litter box, food and water bowls, etc. but the County animal shelter said we should go ahead and take the kitten home. One of us could help him get settled in while the other went to the pet store.

I'm happy to say that both Jordan the dog and Pouncer the Wondercat quickly acclimated to life with us, despite the fact that we both work full-time. In the 9+ years we've had them there's never been a shortage of love, and they have never appeared to mind that we were absent for 8 hours during the day while at work. Honestly, I believe they enjoyed the uninterrupted nap time!

Drag Queen name of the day: Rosa Rhee

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gay vs. homosexual

The other day a gay friend was 'explaining' to me the new understanding that differentiates "gay" from "homosexual". Who knew it was now wrong to use these terms interchangeably?

According to my friend:
  • "Gay" refers to a person who has sex with someone of the same sex but also dates people of the same sex, desires to have a relationship with someone of the same sex, and views him/herself as 'living a gay lifestyle'.

  • "Homosexual" refers to a person who has sex with someone of the same sex but does not date or desire a relationship with someone of the same sex. They date and desire a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and therefore do not view him/herself as 'living a gay lifestyle'.

This kind of reminds me of Bill Clinton's infamous statement "I did not have sex with that woman" because in his mind 'sex' meant 'genital penetration'. A blow job that ended with a climax? Why, that's an entirely different thing!

I suppose this new understanding of the subtle yet important difference between "gay" and "homosexual" is very convenient for the Senator Larry Craigs and the Glenn Murphy Jrs of the world. They can emphatically repeat to the public "I am not gay" without the slightest prick to their consciences. As long as they're married or date women, they can have sex with men and not be gay!

Personally I don't buy it. Everyone I know uses the terms interchangeably. "Homosexual" is the clinical term while "gay" is the slang term for the same thing: people who have sex with others of the same sex. Several dictionaries I consulted support this. But if there is a difference between "homosexual" and "gay", would it also imply that there is a difference between "heterosexual" and "straight"? Does a "straight" person have sex with the opposite sex and 'live a straight lifestyle', while a "heterosexual" person has sex with the opposite sex but does not claim to 'live a straight lifestyle'? In this age of 'love the sinner, hate the sin' and other such forms of double-speak, it seems to me that people have simply found another way to not be honest. Everything, including sexual behavior, seems to be vulnerable to a 'spin' that would make it seem somehow different than what it truly is.

When you peel away the personal and political embarrassment for Republicans like Craig and Murphy who've been voting against equal rights for gays, it really just comes down to honesty.

Craig could have said "I'm married and I love my wife and children, but occasionally I feel the need for sex with a man. I don't know why, but I'm human and this is who I am. I've kept this a secret in order not to hurt my family or my career, but its out now, so I'm telling the truth." I think most people would have respected such honesty, and would be more likely to forget about the arrest. But instead, he denies any interest in sex with men, despite repeated but unproven allegations of such spanning the last 40 years.

Murphy could have said "As a leader in the Republican party it may seem incongruent that I have, yet again, been charged with attempted non-consensual sex with a man. I am having difficulty reconciling these things so I'm going to do some personal work with a therapist and try to get things sorted out." Once again, such honestly often allows the public to give the alleged offender the benefit of the doubt and the situation could have been dealt with privately from then on. But instead, Murphy resigns from his position to follow some other job that was too good to pass up.

Will public people (and the rest of us for that matter) ever take responsibility for our actions and behaviors? Or are we doomed to hours and hours of TV shows like last night's Matt Lauer interview with Senator and Mrs Craig, where the facts and motives just get pushed farther and farther into the background in favor of debating the small details of what was and was not said to the arresting officer?

"Gay" vs. "homosexual". "Straight" vs. "heterosexual". Why don't we all just try and be "honest"? If its furry, has teeth, and BARKS, I'm calling it a dog.

Drag Queen name of the day: Patty O'Furniture

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Work out and Zack

Work out update: session 6
I had my work out last evening, and it went very well. I could definitely feel that Rick was turning up the weight on me though. I struggled with the last few reps on some of the sets, and even heard myself grunting like a big, butch, bodybuilder. (Sounds can be deceiving.)

As I do the reps Rick counts out loud. I decided that since he had upped the weights, I would try to trick him into thinking I'd done more reps by counting with him using higher numbers. It went something like this:
Rick: "five... six... seven..."
Mark: "thirteen... fourteen..."
It didn't work. Apparently I am not the 1st person to think of this strategy!

Fortunately, I was able to make it all the way through the work out with no blood pressure problems. That's 2 weeks in a row now. I'm not sure if its because I followed his advice yesterday and ate some trail mix 1/2 way through the work out, if the absence of squats these last 2 sessions has anything to do with it, or if my body has acclimated itself to the work out. And truthfully, I can live without knowing, just as long as I'm able to keep working out without a recurrence.

Rick & Nick got an 11-week old Sheltie puppy named Zack who was in the gym during my work out. When I lied down on the floor for my 'elbows-and-knees' and such, Zack started licking the perspiration off my legs. I thought it was kind of cute. When I took a break between sets, Zack climbed up onto my stomach and sat down. I scratched his head and back of his neck gently and he rested his chin on my chest. It was the cutest thing! He jumped off when I started my next set, and then began sniffing my shorts. He put his nose up the leg of my shorts and started licking my upper thigh, which tickled and aroused me at the same time. I wiggled my hips a little to get him out of my shorts, but he ran around to my other leg and stuck his nose up the other leg of my shorts. I laughed and told Rick "Your dog is gay. He's a male, and he keeps sticking his nose up my shorts!" We laughed and Rick scooped Zack up into his arms so I could finish my set.

Drag Queen name of the day: Anna Rexia

Monday, October 15, 2007

Apple Scrapple

Apparently Father Fall won the fight against Mother Nature who seemed intent on keeping us spoiled by warm temperatures. The weather actually matches the calendar page now so there's no more denying the arrival of fall.

We didn't go for our regular Fri night dinner at the Miltonian. Rick & Nick were out of town, and Stephan & Wayne had invited us to their house for a happy hour. Wayne had made a bunch of holiday wreaths and floral centerpieces and had them out for folks to see and purchase if they felt so inclined. We enjoyed a drink and a nibble to eat, but only stayed for about an hour. We came home, ate pizza and Spouse flipped around between various crappy TV programs while I watched a Netflix DVD called 'Crutch', which I enjoyed.

Spouse made breakfast for us on Sat morning and then we putzed around the house until almost noon. Stephan & Wayne met us here at 12:30 and we headed to Bridgeville for the 14th annual Apple Scrapple Festival. It was wonderfully sunny, cool, and a little breezy; perfect festival weather. On our way to Bridgeville we stopped at a gas station where I accidentally backed into the gas pump, breaking the nozzle off the handle, and breaking the tail light on Spouse's CRV. How embarrassing. The owner of the station was not present but I talked to him on the phone. He called me back today to thank me for being honest about having broken the nozzle. Since the station was not open, I could very easily have gotten back in the car and driven away. The off-duty mechanic working on his own vehicle inside the garage did not see what happened. I had to interrupt his work to inquire about who to speak to about the pump. The owner said the nozzle will cost about $180. to replace. I told him to have it done and mail me the invoice, and I'd pay for it. He again expressed his gratitude for my honesty.

The Apple Scrapple Festival was a much bigger deal that we'd thought. Bridgeville is a very small town so we assumed the festival would be small and easily completed within an hour. Au contraire! Nearly the entire town was roped off for the festival, which consisted of live entertainment on a stage, lots of food vendors (including scrapple, of course), arts and crafts booths, products and services booths, booths selling apples, canned veggies and fruit, pickles, relish, and a rather impressive selection of classic and antique cars to peruse. We were shocked at home many people the festival attracted. Afterward we had an early dinner at Jimmy's Grill, where we ate quite possibly the best fried chicken in DE, if not the entire country.

We barely had time to feed and walk Jordan once we got home before we had to hop back in the car and go to Paul & Steve's for Movie Night. Paul & Steve converted their dining room (which they never used) into a full-fledged movie theatre, complete with a projection system, huge wall-sized screen, velvet drapes, authentic movie theatre candy counter and popcorn maker! These guys took the theme and really went with it, so watching movies with them is even better than going to the actual cinema. We watched "Victim", a 1960 British film about the blackmailing of gay men when simply being homosexual was against the law, based on a true story. It was really good.

Sun morning we slept in until 9:30, then watched "The Barefoot Contessa" and "Nigella Express" as we ate our sesame bagels and drank our blueberry flavored coffee. Unable to postpone it any longer, we started doing our 'serious' housecleaning. Spouse had suggested early in the week that we do a 'serious' housecleaning that coming weekend, and by Sun at noon we knew we'd have to get started. Surprisingly it didn't take as long as we thought, and Spouse abbreviated his portion a bit, deciding to mop the kitchen floor "another day".

Again it was bright and sunny, cool, and slightly breezy so we agreed to meet Rick & Nick at the beach at 2:30. We brought sweatshirts since its often cooler on the beach than at home, but the warmth of the sun kept us from needing to put them on. There was hardly anyone there, and the water was quite calm. Rick & Nick brought their new Sheltie puppy Zack with them. He really enjoyed the beach. We really enjoyed being able to just sit and talk with our friends on the beach for 2 hours, knowing there will very few if any more days like this until spring.

When we got home I showered and then made dinner. We had tacos and Mexican rice. Spouse watched '60 Minutes' and I watched a Netflix DVD called "Unconditional Love". Despite the star-studded cast which included Kathy Bates, the uber-yummy Rupert Everett, Vanessa Redgrave, Dan Akroyd, and Johnathan Pryce, the film was rather disappointing. The 1st half was good and engaging. I really felt for the lead character played by Kathy Bates, whose husband leaves her and whose favorite pop star dies. But the 2nd half just seemed to turn silly and insipid, falling short of even being campy. I really wanted to like this film but it just wasn't worth liking.

We both went to bed at 10:30, but were awakened several times throughout the night and early morning by our darling dog Jordan. We think she has allergies because there are times like last night where she will 'cough' for 15-20 seconds, loud enough to wake us up. Sometimes she does it during waking hours, which is far less irritating than last night when she woke us up no less than 6 times. Spouse took her into a guest bedroom and closed the door, but sometime later she began to whimper and scratch on the door, so he let her out of the guest room and back into our room. This happened 3 times. I don't fault Jordan for keeping us up all night, I fault Spouse. He should have made her stay in the guest bedroom after she'd woken us up twice. This morning when the alarm went off I felt as if I'd just taken a series of 15 minute cat naps.

Pet concern update: Pouncer and Jordan are both eating and pooping normally again. Just thought you'd want to know.

Now, I'm off to my work out.

Drag Queen name of the day: Lily Pewshun

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pet concerns

When we returned from the Berkshires on Mon it was apparent that Pouncer had not eaten much, if at all, within the 3 days, which is very unlike him. Pouncer is not a finicky eater, and would likely eat until he was plump and fat like Garfield if allowed. He's been eating the same brand of food for years and never leaves a crumb or morsel behind, so it concerned us to find most of his food still in his bowl on Mon afternoon.

Then we started discovering small 'messes' where Pouncer had had diarrhea. Oddly, he chose two specific places to do it: on the floor mats in front of the front and side doors, and in front of the windows in the living room and dining room. I think this is odd because he didn't do it in front of a wall or in the middle of the room, but only in front of a door or window.

We figured he must have gotten a bug or virus, and concluded that he'd start eating again when he thought his stomach could take it. But he didn't eat on Tues or Wed either.

Meanwhile, Jordan started having diarrhea (not in the house) on Tues and Wed, too. Of course it didn't effect her desire or ability to eat. Jordan will eat any and everything, and continued her regular diet despite her gastroentrological protests. This really got us to wondering what might have caused both pets to suddenly start having diarrhea.

We're not positive, but we think it might be the new lavender scented Febreze. Having a dog and a cat for many years, we've used Febreze products before, with no ill side effects. However, I noticed the lavender scented one I just bought advertized it was a "new" scent, and I'm sure we'd never used it before. Just before we left for the Berkshires on Sat morning, Spouse spritzed the main floor of the house with the new lavender Febreze. Then on Mon when I cleaned up Pouncer's messes, I used the Febreze again.

Pouncer stopped eating and started having diarrhea sometime on Sat, but Jordan was fine until Tues, because Jordan was at the pet hotel. When Jordan returned home on Mon she started having diarrhea on Tues, so that's why we think the Febreze is the culprit.

So we've thrown away the lavender Febreze and are hoping that as the scent dissipates our pets will return to normal.

I think Pouncer believed his food was making him sick because he still would not eat his regular food on Thurs, despite the fact that we threw away the food in the bowl and gave him fresh. I felt so bad, as I calculated he hadn't eaten any food (except for treats) in 6 days. So on Thurs evening Spouse bought another cat food that looks completely different, we gave it to Pouncer, and he eagerly devoured it. He ate it without protest again this morning, so that's good. We're going to continue giving him the new food for a few days, then gradually start mixing his old food in with the new food so he'll get used to eating his old food again.

Hopefully both of our furry family members will return to normal soon.

Drag Queen name of the day: Olive Eweforever

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Work out update

Work out update: session 5
Since we were returning from the Berkshires on Mon, my regular work out day, I had made arrangements with Rick to switch my work out to Wed this week.

My work out went well. I had a little talk with Rick about the presumed blood pressure spikes and plummets and asked him if I could eat something to help prevent this. He suggested bringing dried fruits like apricots, cranberries, and raisins to the work out with me so I could have a handful to eat part way through the work out to keep my blood pressure from "crashing". He also suggested Gatorade, since it has sugar in it. So I'm going to try this going forward.

But on Wed I didn't have that problem, which was great. I was able to get through the whole session without needing to lie on the ground 3-4 minutes to recuperate from the blood pressure "crash".

Every session ends with an exercise called 'elbows and knees', where you lie on your back with your hands behind your head and you try to touch your right elbow to your left knee, and then your left elbow to your right knee. Typically he has me do 30 'elbows and knees', but this time I was still feeling like I had a little bit more in me, so I did 40 instead. Rick jokingly asked me "Where'd that come from?" and I told him I just felt like I could do a little more. So then he sarcastically replied "Well great, then give me 30 more." After a brief rest I gave him 40 more 'elbows and knees', which gained me a genuine compliment. Rick said most beginners aren't able to do 80 'elbows and knees'. So, although I'm sure I'm way behind most beginners in the weight I'm able to lift, at least I'm above the curve in something.

Drag Queen name of the day: Bobbie Ganoush

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shorter days

I think one of the best things about summer is how long the days get. Here in the Mid-Atlantic region it can stay light until 9:00 or so in the peak of summer.

In the spring we began meeting friends for dinner every Fri at 7:00 and its always been light at that time. Sometimes it would still be light when we were leaving. But this past Fri I noticed it was barely still light at 6:45 as we headed to Milton for dinner.

Jordan gets fed and walked right around 6:00, and often the sun has been so high and bright that I would wear sunglasses while walking her. But yesterday I walked her at 6:15 and didn't need sunglasses at all. In fact, the sun was close to setting when we returned home at 6:40.

Although the unseasonably warm temperatures have left us feeling as if its still summer, the shorter days and earlier sunsets are a harsh slap of reality that it is indeed fall.

I always have mixed feelings about fall. A part of me grieves the end of summer, wearing shorts and sandals, driving with the top down, while another part of me anticipates the beauty of fall leaves, the smell of wood burning in fireplaces, and the knowledge that the mirth of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are close at hand. I think I'd actually miss fall if I lived in Hawaii or some other place of eternal summer. But given the opportunity, I think I'd still move to Hawaii!

Drag Queen name of the day: Misty Meanor

Monday, October 08, 2007

Long weekend in the Berkshires

The Newlyweds arrived Fri night at 10:00, we snacked and planned our travel strategy for the next day, and went to bed at about 11:00.

Sat morning we got up at 6:00, showered, ate, packed the car, and left Lewes at 7:30. It was quite warm and we all wore shorts. The trip took longer than expected, due to traffic congestion (on a Sat?) and a wrong turn or two. After a fuel stop and a lunch stop, we arrived in Becket, MA at about 3:30.

We found the cabin to be adequate; nothing fancy, that's for sure. Both of the beds left much to be desired, as did the single tiny bathroom. But we weren't planning to lounge around indoors much so we found the accommodations acceptable. But then there was the view: Spectacular! The cabin sat on a hillside, with a large deck on the back with a direct view of the pond. There were beautiful, tall, old trees on either side of the clearing, perfectly 'framing' the view of the pond. Across the pond sat an old red canoe which seemed to draw out the patches of red leaves from the patchwork quilt of foliage behind it. I wish we'd had a camera to capture that postcard view, but we left ours home after it had acted up so much at the car show a few weeks ago. The large deck had a newer dining table and chairs, a glider, 2 chaise lounges, and a chiminea.

After unloading our gear we headed to Lee where we stopped for a little shopping expedition at the Prime Outlets. Michael had read online that they were having a sidewalk sale that day. Next we stopped at the Otis Poultry Farm in Otis and bought a fabulous homemade 'Fruits of the Forest' pie. Then we walked around Lee, had Thai chicken burritos, and then picked up supplies at the one and only grocery store called Price Chopper. (I don't know why but that name continues to make me giggle.) While in the grocery store it began to rain and continued as we got back to the cabin, squelching our plans for making s'mores and sitting around the chiminea. But it was still in the 70s so it wouldn't have been so great anyway. We talked for a while, then popped a DVD in to watch until we went to bed. Oh, and we had pie!

Sun was considerably cooler. I was the only one to wear shorts. Fortunately the rain had stopped, and we planned our day as we ate breakfast and looked at our fabulous view of the pond. We went for a walk on the streets around the pond instead of going for a hike, since the ground was still wet and muddy. One of the houses on the other side of the pond had 3 vehicles parked in front of it, all containing HRC stickers or rainbow stickers. Since one of the vehicles was a Subaru and another was a 4-wheel drive SUV, we decided it was a group of lesbians.

Then we took a driving tour around Great Barrington, Sheffield, West Stockbridge, Monterey, and Lenox which enabled us to see the pretty foliage and stop at a few tag sales, antique shops, and places of interest. My friend Sal told me to stop in and see his grandmother at her antique shop so we did. We found her to be sweet and hip at the same time. She even gave us a discount on a terrific 1940s side table we were able to slip into the back of the CRV. After returning to the cabin for showers and cat naps, we met the Newlyweds' friends Norton & David at a restaurant in Lenox called Zinc. Jamie met Norton while working at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, where Norton has worked for 30 years. The dinner and conversations were delightful. Afterward the 6 of us came back to the cabin and made a fire in the chiminea. The temperature seemed to be in the low 50s so it was ideal. We sat around the fire and made s'mores for about 2 hours, until Norton & David left. The remaining 4 of us returned to sitting by the fire until we'd burned up all the wood. It was exactly how I'd envisioned it.

Mon we got up at 8:00, packed up our gear, cleaned up the cabin, and were out the door by 8:30. The trip home went much faster, as we ran into no traffic congestion and took no wrong turns. After a fuel stop and a lunch stop, we arrived back in Lewes at 3:00. The Newlyweds left shortly thereafter.

Despite it being Oct 8, the temperature reached 90 degrees today. The forecast shows a cooling just around the corner though, with expected temps in the 70s on Wed.

Drag Queen name of the day: Leisel Weapon

Friday, October 05, 2007

This 'n that

Work out update - session 4
Once again Rick changed up the exercises so I did mostly new stuff. Pretty interesting how the same 5-6 machines can be configured for a seemingly endless array of exercises. Keeps you from getting bored doing the same thing every time, plus Rick says that each one works the muscles differently so changing them up gives you a better, balanced work out.

Unfortunately I had to stop twice during the work out to lie on the floor. It seems that either my blood pressure spikes and plummets, or my vagas nerve gets over-stimulated, both of which result in me feeling dizzy, nauseous, and very hot and flushed. It seems 2-3 minutes lying flat on my back remedies the problem, but its inconvenient and uncomfortable. I may need to consult my physician about this.

Pot luck
The bi-monthly men's group I belong to had a pot luck on Wed evening with an Oktoberfest theme. There was lots of tasty stuff to eat, including brats with sauerkraut, German potato salad, sesame slaw, pumpkin pie, and black forest cake. My contribution was not Oktoberfest related, unfortunately. I was very busy with work on Wed and had not planned in advance what to make. So with only about an hour before the potluck I quickly put together a modified version of a berry trifle; modified in the sense that it didn't have the custard. It tasted good anyway, but didn't really fit into the theme. Next time maybe I'll plan better.

Thurs I went to the DE DMV to get my car inspected, registered, and titled. What a thoroughly enjoyable process, all of which takes place right there at the DMV. In VA you have to take your vehicle to a gas station or garage and wait in line forever for the safety and emissions inspections, then go to the DMV and wait in line forever and a day to conduct your DMV transaction. Our last visit to the VA DMV took 90 minutes, all but 10 of which were spent just waiting for our number to be called. At the DE DMV I only waited about 3 minutes for the inspections, both of which were completed within 5 minutes. Then I went inside and only waited 2 minutes for my number to be called. I wasn't even finished filling out the form! My transaction was completed in probably under 10 minutes, I had my new license plate and title in my hand, and I was on my way. FINALLY both of our cars are 'legal' now.

This morning I took Jordan to the vet. It was her 1st time at the vet here in Lewes. I'd called the previous vet in VA and had them fax Jordan's records to the new vet a few weeks ago when I made the appointment. She needed 2 shots to get her updated and she also received a thorough exam from the doctor. She did very well and didn't squirm too much. Then we walked next door to the "pet hotel" and I checked Jordan in.

The Newlyweds are arriving tonight and then we're leaving very early tomorrow morning for a weekend in the Berkshires. It will probably take about 6-7 hours to get there. We've rented a cottage with a fireplace next to a lake, so that should be nice and cozy. We're hoping to see beautiful fall foliage during the day and relax next to the fire and watch movies at night. Ironically the weather is much warmer than usual for this time of year so I hope the foliage will have actually started turning colors. If not then we'll just enjoy a weekend getaway with our friends. We're coming home Mon evening.

Indian Summer
At the risk of sounding cliche, we are having a wonderful Indian Summer. I can't believe its October and the temperatures have been in the 80s all week. It is forecasted to reach 86 degrees here on Mon, Oct 8. But you don't hear me complaining! I adore Indian Summer and am loving the ability to continue wearing shorts and sandals as well as driving with the top down on my car. I really should live in San Diego.

Life is good here at the beach.

Drag Queen name of the day: Frieda Slaves

Thursday, October 04, 2007

And the construction continues

I hope I don't end up sounding like a broken record, constantly lamenting about the construction going on around our home, but thought I'd give you a little update.

In a previous post I naively mentioned construction noise and dirt in the air as my chief complaints during the start of the construction. But now that the project is in full-swing I realize I hadn't even considered the fact that multiple construction employees, contractors, sub-contractors, and vendors would be whizzing up our narrow little street many times a day, driving too fast, driving the wrong direction on our one-way street, turning vehicles around and driving on other people's private property, and blocking the one-way street with unattended vehicles/machinery.

I've considered writing a letter to the city, or to the general contractor, listing the safety and other violations (ie: driving the wrong way on a one-way street, blocking the street with an unattended vehicle with its engine running) but am still considering the wisdom of this. If I wrote the letter it wouldn't be in a bitchy, complainy way, but rather, citing the need for the general contractor's employees and vendors to use caution and be considerate of those who live nearby. God, I sound like a crotchety old man, don't I?

Then I began to think whether the idea of writing a letter about these violations and inconsiderations would have even entered my mind if I didn't work at home. If I worked in a traditional office I wouldn't have witnessed any of this stuff. Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut and pretend like I'm not affected by any of it? What to do, what to do.

Drag Queen name of the day: Korey Ography

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Psychic

Fri evening Spouse & I got the house in shape for our friends/guests before joining 'the usual suspects' for dinner at the Miltonian. Not long after we'd returned, Liz & Rob arrived.

I know I've mentioned them before, but don't think I've explained the various connections between us. First I met Liz when she and her mother moved to the area and started going to the church I attended. Then I met Randy at a party. He was visiting from WI. We became friends and Randy moved to the area and became my roommate. Randy convinced me to let Rob move in with us. I was friends with Rob's mother but didn't know Rob well at all. He needed a place badly so I agreed. All of us attended the same church so we all knew each other on some level. Randy and Liz dated, got married, moved to WI and then to GA. We lost touch after a few years. Rob went into the military, got married, and came back to the area when he got out of the military. He and I lost touch for many years.

Then about 4 years ago I got a call from Liz & Rob. They told me Liz & Randy split up, she got in touch with Rob, and now they were dating. They looked up my name in the phone book and called every one until they found me. Shortly thereafter we met for dinner, got reacquainted, and caught up on the last few years. Liz & Rob were later married.

They are both quite busy. They both work full-time, plus they take photography classes and have a part-time photography business shooting weddings. But they made time in their schedule to visit Spouse & I and have a relaxing weekend. Although it has been at least a year since we saw them, we talked and laughed as if it were yesterday.

We had coffee and talked on the screened porch until nearly 11:00, at which time we walked over to the Blue Plate Diner and had breakfast, then walked around downtown a bit. They'd been to our beach place before but we'd not really showed them around downtown. Then we sat in the living room for a while, just relaxing, talking, and laughing. Spouse needed to make a dish for the Block Party, so we relocated to the screened porch (off the kitchen) so he could stay involved in the conversation while he cooked.

Prior to the start of the Block Party the pet psychic arrived. I walked over to our neighbor's porch and listened as she verbalized the pictures the pets sent, and communicated pet owners' comments back to the pets. She's not just a pet psychic, but she also communicates with people who have passed on. During our neighbors Larry & Rob's session with their 3 dogs she interrupted by saying that she had the presence of a friend of Rob's who had passed away recently. Rob looked startled. Then she repeated the friend's name and Rob looked at Larry in disbelief. Indeed his friend by that name had passed away recently! She gave Rob a message from the friend, then returned to facilitating communication between Larry, Rob, and their 3 dogs.

Next it was Jordan's turn! The psychic indicated that Jordan wanted us to know that she was happy living here and enjoyed it more than the other place. That wasn't surprising, since Jordan gets walked at least twice a day here, which she loves, as opposed to simply having time in the backyard at our other house. Jordan also wanted us to know that she was getting enough exercise and water. She said we should be careful when lifting her into the car because sometimes it made her back legs hurt. Okay, I thought to myself, that's not very generic. Indeed, sometimes Jordan yelped when Spouse lifted her into the car. Then she said that although she was being quiet at the moment, she liked being vocal at times. That is her way of expressing her excitement. That was true, she hadn't barked at all with the psychic and she does bark at home, especially when we return from being away. So far, interesting but nothing too surprising.

The psychic said that Jordan was telling her that there was a cat in the house, and that the cat believes he is the boss, and that she didn't mind. Okay, now she had my attention. How could the psychic know we had a cat, just 1 cat, that the cat was a 'he', and that he felt dominant? Pretty interesting!

The psychic asked if there was anything I wanted to find out from Jordan. I felt a little caught off-guard, as I hadn't anticipated asking anything of Jordan, so I told the psychic we were proud of Jordan for learning how to ride in the car without getting sick. She told Jordan what I'd said, and she responded that Jordan said it had taken a little while, but she'd eventually become comfortable with it. Then I asked the psychic to ask Jordan to please not get into the trash can anymore because she could eat something dangerous. The psychic relayed my message and Jordan responded that she would work on that.

When Spouse became available he walked over and joined the session, which was nearly over. As soon as he walked over Jordan went to him and wagged her tail furiously as he petted her. The psychic looked at Spouse and said she felt the presence of 2 males in spirit (passed on) who were related to him, one was his father. She asked if he had died from cancer or something to do with the heart, since she saw a picture indicating pressure in the chest. He replied that no, he'd died of leukemia. Spouse took this as a 'failed guess' but I reminded him that although his father's death was due to leukemia, he also had a stroke. The psychic said his father was not alone in the spirit world, but that next to him was a female whose name began with the letter M. Spouse's father's deceased sister is Margie. Spouse told me he'd heard an expose' on psychics say that the most common names begin with the letter M, so he chalked this up to a 'correct guess'. Then the psychic told Spouse that his father wanted him to know that although they had not had the best or closest relationship, he stilled loved him and was proud of him. I thought this was indeed true, but Spouse (the critic) thought it was another 'correct guess', as the chances are high that gay men often have not-so-close relationships with their fathers.

So, Spouse was far less convinced of the psychic's abilities than I. This led to an interesting conversation between the 2 of us and Rob & Liz about whether psychics use physical clues and people's responses to make 'guesses' about them. Then we joined the Block Party.

Everyone brought a dish to share, and Jim & Barb generously provided all the meat and drinks. We had a nice time talking to the neighbors we already knew as well as meeting some of the neighbors we'd not met before. Jim had his iPod hooked up to big speakers which provided music for the soiree'. It was a lot of fun.

I spoke to our neighbor Brenda, whose dog Molly had also had a session with the psychic. Brenda related that the psychic told her that Molly had indicated she really liked the bandanna with the pumpkins on it and wanted Brenda to put that one on her. Brenda said just that morning she'd taken the pumpkin bandanna off Molly so it could be washed. The psychic also said that Molly enjoyed having that other dog in the house for a while, but did not want Brenda to get another dog permanently. This stumped Brenda, as she had never owned another dog while she'd had Molly. The psychic closed her eyes again to communicate with Molly, then said that it was a small terrier that had stayed with them. Ding ding ding!!! Brenda remembered that she had helped a friend out by taking in a foster dog for 6 weeks - a small terrier! I was sure to relate these two gems to my disbelieving Spouse.

We returned home to feed Jordan, and then the 4 of us took her for a walk. Rob & Liz took some photos of the beautiful church on Second St, which is lit up marvelously at night. Then we sat in the living room and talked for several more hours before going to bed, just before 1:00.

Sun we had coffee on the porch again, followed by blueberry cake and bacon which Spouse had made us for breakfast. After talking for a while, we went to Rehoboth Beach and walked along the boardwalk. Liz & Rob took pictures, and then we had lunch at Cafe Sole'. We returned home, they packed their things and left at 3:00.

Spouse & I changed into our swimsuits and headed back to Rehoboth Beach to meet Rick & Nick, who'd left us a message indicating they were already at the beach. But just after we'd gotten on the road they called to say they were leaving the beach, so we turned around and went home. Spouse said he really wanted to take a nap anyway, so he wasn't disappointed. While he napped I sat out on the screened porch for over 2 hours and read several magazines. The weather was so lovely I just didn't want to stay inside. Sept is my favorite month of the year. Spouse & I had cereal for dinner, then he watched crappy TV downstairs while I watched a crappy DVD (Mulholland Drive) upstairs.

More and more construction equipment returned today, meaning more noise and dirt in the air. I have a feeling I will be writing this many more times in the future.

Drag Queen name of the day: Dee Lourdes Myshepherd