Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

Well, its New Year's Eve; typically a time when people reflect on the events of year that has been and look forward to the opportunities of the year that is about to begin.

Many Americans make New Year's resolutions, of which I am a fan. I think there is power in making resolutions (or goals) for the year and stating them publicly so your friends can help you stick to them!

But many people speak disparagingly of New Year's resolutions, since most are not resolutions at all, but rather, wishful intentions that are quickly forgotten a few days later. Here are the top 10 most frequent New Year's resolutions:
  • Diet
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise
  • Quit drinking
  • Quit procrastinating
  • Save money
  • Go to church
  • Wake up early
  • Quit cursing
  • Read the newspaper

I like to make a few New Year's resolutions that I will really work to achieve. I make sure my resolutions are measurable. "Diet" and "Exercise" are not good resolutions, as there is no real way to measure whether or not you've done them. "Eat more veggies" and "Exercise 3 times per week" are much better resolutions because you can track them.

One year my New Year's resolution was to entertain on a regular basis. Spouse & I picked a weekend in every month and invited friends over for dinner, both Fri and Sat nights. We did it and had a LOT of fun. The dinners weren't 'fancy'. Often we had casual meals like chili or homemade soup, and we ate in the kitchen instead of the formal dining room. Another year my New Year's resolution was to sort, throw away, organize and file several bags/boxes of paperwork (ie: bank statements, paystubs, real estate documents, insurance documents, etc.) we had accumulated over many years. We did this, too, and felt a real sense of accomplishment when finished.

This year my resolution is to re-invent my appearance! (Yeah, I know. Sounds crazy, right?) No, I'm not talking about plastic surgery to look like Taylor Lautner.

For a while now I've been kind of bored with the way I look. I've always had this kind of 'wholesome', 'goody two shoes' kind of look about me. This was taken about 12 years ago......and look how utterly BORING I looked! Don't you just want to vomit? To fight my inherent saccharine sweetness I've always been willing to try experimental or avant garde hairstyles. I got my current 'fauxhawk' hairstyle almost 5 years ago when nobody else had it... ...but now its simply too common for me. Every wannabe hipster has a fauxhawk now and I'm bored with it for me. So I'm letting my hair grow out for a while. That should give me more options for my new look. My stylist is currently wracking himself in search of the next hot look for me!

But a new hairstyle is not a re-invention of my appearance, it is just one element.

I also stopped shaving right after Christmas. Unfortunately my beard doesn't grow very fast and doesn't fill in evenly so I probably won't be able to sport that 'scruffy face' look I find so sexy on other men. But I'm letting it grow for a while to see how it looks and to give me options (like a goatee, van dyke, soul patch, etc).

But I'm not done.

I'm going to continue my weekly personal trainer visits, but I'm also going back to our local gym at least once a week. Hopefully more than once a week, but once a week is an attainable goal. I want to burn some calories on the treadmill and lift weights in order to sculpt my aging body into a less embarrassing sight.

But I'm still not done.

Starting on Mon Jan 4 I am going to eat smaller, more healthy meals. My aim is to make portions that will not 'fill me up', but rather, satisfy my hunger and nourish me. I really want to increase my fruit and veggie intake and decrease my processed food intake. So if you have tried-and-true, flavorful, healthy meal recipes please email them to me! I'll need all the help I can get.

So, there you have it: my 1 New Year's resolution is to re-invent my appearance by changing my hair, possibly doing something with my facial hair, exercising regularly and more often, and loosing weight through smaller, more healthful meals. It all starts on Mon.

Tonight Spouse & I are going to a New Year's Eve potluck at a friend's house at 7:30. I have a crockpot full of meatballs simmering away in my special sauce to take with us. Then around 10:00 the potluck gang is heading out to a local watering hole to socialize and ring in the new year.

Whatever your plans tonight, please do NOT drink and drive. Seriously, call a cab if you to 'celebrate' a little too much.

I wish you a SAFE and FUN New Year's Eve, and a new year overflowing with happiness!

Crush du Jour: Jeremy Scahill

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dream

The 1st night we stayed at Spouse's mom's (over the holidays) Spouse was snoring a lot so I slept in a different bedroom, and had a strange but enjoyable dream.

Before I go any further, I just want to say that I don't put any stock into dream content. I've had many crazy dreams, and I don't believe dreams predict the future or allow you to play out deep-seated fantasies. Nor do I believe that all the characters in a dream are just different facets of you. Instead, I believe the scientific theory that dreams are the simple consequence of neural oscillation.

So, on with my dream...

I dreamed that while I was sleeping in the other bedroom I was awakened by the squeak of the bedroom door opening. I opened my eyes to find one of my blogger friends (whom I've never met in person and do not have a crush on) creeping into my room. His hair was tousled and he was wearing only underwear, as if he'd just woken up from a disorienting dream. He closed the door and then slipped into my bed without saying a word.

At first I thought "What is [Blogger] doing in Spouse's mom's house?" But after that initial thought, his presence there no longer seemed to be an issue. Since he'd slipped into my bed and quickly fallen back asleep I assumed he must have had a disorienting dream and may not even realize he'd gotten into my bed. Oh well, no worries. I went back to sleep (within my dream).

Next I am awakened (within my dream) because [Blogger] has snuggled up behind me and is getting into the spoon position. (See #4.) "Um... okay", I think to myself. "[Blogger] must really be sleeping well and thinks he's in bed with his husband." I decide to let it go and do not wake him up or tell him to roll over.

But before I can fall back asleep again (within my dream) I feel that [Blogger] is getting excited, and I don't mean 'enthusiastic'. [Blogger] has become aroused and slowly begins to press his hips against me.

Record scratch...

WTF??? At 1st I attribute this action to [Blogger] being asleep and possibly dreaming. "He probably thinks he's in bed with his husband" I think to myself.

The slow and gentle pressing of his hips (and other things) increases to a full-on grind. I can hear him breathing now, and can feel my heart rate increasing. I'm getting really turned on and that is not good. "Okay, I really should wake him up now" I thought to myself, "before he wakes himself up and wonders why I didn't wake him up." But it felt so hot and sexy and naughty and good, all at the same time.

The details get a little dim at this point and I don't know exactly when I realized that [Blogger] wasn't asleep anymore. But for sure, he wasn't asleep anymore because we wound up doing the dirty. And it was good. Really good. The kind of good where you can barely keep quiet. Yeah, that kind of good.

When we finish he gets up, puts his underwear back on, and leaves the room without a word. I immediately feel guilty for the indiscretion, knowing [Blogger] and I both have husbands. In fact, the guilt of my unfaithfulness after 13+ years with Spouse seemed to fall on top of me all at once like a ton of bricks. I'm mortified and cover my face with my hands, not just within my dream, but in reality.

That's when I woke up. I woke up with my hands over my face. It was then that I realized the entire thing had been a dream, I felt an enormous sense of relief that I had not been unfaithful to Spouse. The other thing I felt was proof of just how good that dream had been!

Crazy dream, huh? So, any guesses on who [Blogger] was?

Crush du Jour: Manuel Romero

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday highlights

Wed night we arrived at Spouse's mom's house. As usual, it felt like an oven so Spouse and his mom got into a little tiff about the temperature inside the house. He and I are practically sweating in short-sleeve shirts while she's wearing pants, a sweater, socks and shoes, has a blanket over her, and complains of being cold. Egads. Fortunately we figured out how to keep our bedroom from being too hot: Spouse's mom closes the vent, puts a telephone book over it, and keeps the door closed. It keeps the room at a reasonable temperature for us.

Thurs we slept in until 9:00, had coffee and visited some more with Spouse's mom, then took showers and picked up my aunt Mary for lunch. She treated us to a fantastic lunch at Wildfire restaurant at the Tyson's Galleria as a belated birthday gift. Since it was my birthday I celebrated with a Stormy Night martini that was absolutely delicious. I could have had 2 or 3 of them and completely forgotten about lunch! But instead, I had parmesan crusted rockfish and mac-n-cheese; Spouse had a bacon/cheese/sour cream stuffed burger and fries; Mary had short ribs with potatoes and carrots. We also shared a side of potatoes au gratin because they sounded so good. And since the waiter overheard us talk about it being my (belated) birthday lunch, he surprised me with a small flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Simply decadent.

After lunch we walked around the mall, which was practically empty considering it was Christmas eve day. The Galleria has a lot of high-end and designer stores at which I can't afford to shop. And since I was slightly tipsy from that martini on an almost empty stomach, I was glad for the chance to walk around and browse the stores before getting back into the car. We had a really nice afternoon with my aunt.

Later that evening we gathered at Spouse's sister's house for a Christmas eve open house and yet another birthday celebration for his mom. (Remember we celebrated her birthday 3 weeks ago on the weekend of MY birthday, but I'm not bitter. Anymore.) In addition to Spouse's siblings and nieces and nephews (I don't refer to them as kids anymore since the youngest is 12 and almost as tall as me) being there, his brother's in-laws came as did his wife's sister and her husband, and a neighbor family, and my longtime friend Kathryn and her cousin Tim. We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed, we gave gift cards to those we wouldn't see the next day. And of course we sang 'Happy Birthday' and ate birthday cake. We returned to Spouse's mom's house shortly after 11:00 and were surprised how tired we felt, after having done nothing all day but eat.

On Christmas day we slept in again until 9:00, then had breakfast with Spouse's mom. As I've mentioned here before, I love this woman dearly but she can really wear me out with her repeating things over and over. And before you think I'm a bad son-in-law for criticising this wonderful 80-year old woman, let me just tell you that she doesn't repeat things because she doesn't remember that she's already told you. A few years ago she started repeating something she'd already told me many times so I said sweetly "Oh yeah, I remember you told me about that", to which she replied "Well I'm going to tell you again", and without missing a beat she told me the exact same story, including the exact same phrases and word combinations. Exactly the same. She knows she's already told you, but wants to say it again, and again, and again for some reason. Sigh.

After breakfast we watched a little TV. Another one of her 'charming' characteristics is narrating TV shows. As we began watching a cooking show on Food Network, she narrated it for us, as if we were blind and unable to see what she saw on the TV screen. "Ooooohhh, look, she's makin' a homemade cake! From scratch! Look at all that measurin' she had to do... flour, salt, bakin' powder... I would never do that. I just buy a box cake mix. You can't tell the difference. Mark, have you ever made a cake from scratch?" I barely got the word "No" out of my mouth when she cut me off. "I would never do that. I just buy a box cake mix. Its so much easier. You can't tell the difference, ya know?" I'm sure that sounds real cute as you read it and picture a darling little 80-year old woman saying that, but let me tell you, it gets old. Real quick.

One of Spouse's mom's more comical characteristics is when she uses similar sounding words that mean different things. Think Archie Bunker. She had me choking with laughter when she said her life at 80 years old was "twilight zone" instead of the "twilight years"! Again I tried to hold back my laughter as she listed the ingredients of ambrosia as "sour cream, fruit cocktail and mushrooms" instead of "sour cream, fruit cocktail and marshmallows"!

At 2:00 Spouse & I left to spend a little more time with my aunt Mary. We exchanged gifts with her and visited for a while at her place. It was very nice. Then she swung by Spouse's mom's house to pick her up, and the 4 of us headed over to Spouse's sister's house for Christmas dinner. We had homemade cheese ravioli, spinach and ricotta stuffed shells, homemade potato gnocchi, homemade meatballs and sausage in 'gravy' (see #7), salad, and sweet potato shuffle. Everything was delicious!! After dinner we exchanged gifts and then watched "Home for the Holidays", which received mixed reviews from the family. God, I LOVE Ann Bancroft!! For dessert we had pumpkin pie, pineapple-orange sherbet jello, and a glass of Prosecco. Do I even need to mention that Spouse's family is Italian?

On Sat Spouse & I met up with our friend Lisa (with whom we stay when we go to NYC) at her parents' house in VA for a visit. Spouse hadn't met her parents before and I knew he'd love them as I do. We had a great visit, then Lisa came with us to our friend Kelly's house where we met up with Kelly, her dad George, and her sister Kerry and her husband Hugh. Lisa's brother Pat has been best friends with Kelly since high school, and went on a trip to Ireland with Kelly, George, Kerry & Hugh, but Lisa had never met them. As I expected, everyone got along famously. We went to an old restaurant I remembered from when I was in high school and had pizza and hippy rolls. Hippy rolls are a long piece of sausage cut in 1/2 length-wise, sauteed peppers and onions, rolled in pizza dough and baked to a golden goodness. OMG, they were as delicious as I remembered! We had a terrific time and hated to say goodbye.

Spouse & I returned to his mom's house and he took a nap while I looked at email and blogs. Then we changed clothes and went to a small cocktail party at Ron & James' house. Our good buddies Mike & Clark were there too, and we had a wonderful time! James made homemade samosas and cookies and we had a new (to me) martini called a Poinsettia. It must be the new 'it' martini because I later read that Bob & Carlos had them on Christmas eve. They were so delicious! I adore champagne and just about anything made with it. The time flew by and before we knew it it was 11:00. We bid our good friends goodnight and returned to Spouse's mom's.

Sun morning Spouse's sister came over and we had coffee and left over Christmas cookies and talked until 10:30, at which time Spouse's mother declared "Let's go out to breakfast. I'll treat." I had 2 eggs over medium, grits, scrapple, whole wheat toast, and coffee. Most of the time I don't eat breakfast but this was really good. When we returned to the house we packed our bags and hit the road. Fortunately the traffic wasn't bad for us, but there was a back-up on the opposite side for several miles.

Christmas really isn't about the gifts for us, which is why there's not much mention of what we got. For us its more about being with family and friends and eating lots and lots of food. We usually give small gifts and/or gift cards for everyone so they can pick out what they want. Gift cards also allow the recipients to take advantage of after Christmas sales, so the dollars go farther. Spouse always gets (costume) jewelry for his mom, sister, and one niece just because he likes buying jewelry. But mostly Christmas is about being with loved ones and eating.

Hope your Christmas was merry and delicious!

Crush du Jour: Daniel Ashton Johnson

Monday, December 28, 2009

Celebration

What do you get when you add

plus


???

You get

That's right, dear readers, today is Tales Of The Sissy's 5th blogiversary!!!

Its true; my very 1st post was on Dec 28, 2004 where
I introduced my blog. In the next post I introduced myself and Spouse.

Prior to writing my own blog I was not in the habit of reading blogs. My friend Mike had an
online journal (sort of like a blog) on which I used to comment. He liked my stories and way of writing and suggested I start a blog. He introduced me to Blogger.

It was only after I'd begun writing that I started reading and commenting on other blogs. I'm truly grateful for the writers I've gotten to know (yes, you're writers!) through their blogs. Many have shared experiences that have helped me and countless others feel less alone in our situations. Blogging allows us to build a community in which we can find information, humor, support, and friendship.

So now, won't you lift a glass and help me celebrate?

Crush du Jour: Gethin Jones

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday eating tips

I endorse these 10 holiday eating tips whole-heartedly!!!

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it.

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Pecan. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like Pumpkin, have two apples and one Pecan. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Crush du Jour: Vinicus Naval

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Since Christmas means different things to different people, I thought I'd share a variety of Santas with you on Christmas day. Surely there's a Santa for everyone's taste!

Merry Christmas!





Crush du Jour: Henry Cavill

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas eve

Well, its Christmas eve, which I like just as much if not more than Christmas day.

We left last night so we can spend Thurs-Sun with our family and friends in VA. Today my aunt is took us to lunch to celebrate my birthday, which was 2 1/2 weeks ago. This evening the family and some friends will gather at Spouse's sister's house for food and holiday cheer. Oh, and for Spouse's mother's 2nd birthday celebration of the month.

But likely my favorite part about Christmas eve is Frank Poole's lyric, written in 1946:

Merry Christmas, Darling
Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas, Darling
We're apart that's true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I'm Christmasing with you

Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But every day's a holiday
When I'm near to you

The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say

That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you

Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say

That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you

Merry, merry, merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, Darling

This somewhat sad but incredibly beautiful lyric was set to music by Richard Carpenter in 1966. He and sister Karen released "Merry Christmas, Darling" in 1970. Enjoy it with me right now, won't you?

Merry Christmas, Darlings!

Crush du Jour: Craig Carpurso

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas party mishap

The month of Dec is the time for parties. If you're lucky, you'll get invitations to several. If you're even luckier, they'll have terrific food and booze!

This reminded me of a tender Christmas story I want to share with you readers. Let me set the stage.

It was Dec 1993 and I had just come out 5 months earlier, met the man of my dreams (or so I'd thought), and was really looking forward to our 1st Christmas together. My man (we'll call him Bob) had introduced me to a some of his friends over that summer and now we were going to a Christmas party at Gerry & Mike's house.

Bob, Gerry & Mike were all several years older than me, had solid educations and established careers, and made lots more money than me. They were always gracious so I had no real reason to feel nervous or intimidated around them, but I did. Still I wanted to go with Bob to Gerry & Mike's party so we did.

They had a large, lovely, ornament-laden tree in the living room that would put most department stores to shame. The food was catered by Dean & DeLuca's, a fancy and expensive DC gourmet food store, and there was a full bar with a bartender. Yes, a bartender. In 1993. Now, I know its been all the rage in recent years to have a hired bartender at Christmas parties hosted by gay couples, but this was 1993! I felt intimidated already.

So everything is going nicely, Bob & I are chatting with people we've met before, etc when I realize that I need to use the bathroom. Unfortunately it wasn't just #1. I try to avoid going #2 at other people's houses, especially people's houses who intimidate me, but this just wasn't to be ignored, so I excused myself under the guise of getting another drink and found my way to the bathroom.

Once inside I lowered my pants and underwear, sat, and began doing my business. I noticed that these fancy men even had small, tasteful Christmas decorations in their bathroom! Next thing I knew, I felt something warm and wet against my ankle. I looked down and saw that the back of my khaki pants was all wet, and the wetness from the fabric had spread over to my ankle. WTF??? Is the toilet leaking?

No, unfortunately, the toilet was not leaking. That explanation would have been preferable to the truth, which I had to tell Bob in order to gain his assistance when I finally returned to the party.

No, the truth was far more humiliating. As I was relieving myself my penis was not pointing down into the toilet far enough, so my pee was coming out in that space under the toilet seat but above the toilet rim. It had run down the base of the toilet and soaked into the back of my khaki pants, turning them about 14 shades darker.

Oh. My. God. I was mortified! What the hell am I gonna do? I'm here in these fancy people's bathroom, peeing all over my pants.

After the realization of what had actually happened came the truly horrifying questions. How long can I stay in here before someone knocks? How am I going to be able to leave this bathroom? How can I return to the party with the back of my pants all wet? What will all these fancy people think of me? Will this be the thing that finally reveals to Bob, once and for all, that I am not in the same league?

After several minutes of concentrated thought I cleaned myself, the base of the toilet, and then patted my wet pants with tissue to absorb as much moisture as possible. Understanding I couldn't leave the bathroom without wearing my pants, I pulled them up and fastened my belt. Then I looked into the mirror and tried to make an honest assessment of the damage.

"Hmmm... from the front there's no indication of anything unusual" I thought to myself. Then I turned around and looked over my shoulder into the mirror at the back of my pants. Not so lucky there. My mind continued racing as I considered my options, of which there was really only one. Eventually I had to walk out of that bathroom.

I turned back around to face the mirror and repeated my 1st assessment: "From the front there's no indication of anything unusual." That was the answer! Only let people see me from the front!

To bolster my confidence I began justifying my decision. "These khakis are 100% cotton. They'll dry in no time. And until they do, I'll just stand against the wall." Really, it was the only thing I could come up with.

You might be thinking 'Why didn't he pull out his cell phone, call Bob, and tell him to grab both their coats and meet him at the car?' Yeah, I'd have probably thought of that too, only it was 1993 and no one had a portable cell phone back then. The closest thing was a 'car phone' that had to be plugged into a cigarette lighter of a car with its engine running in order to work.

I took a deep breath, walked out of the bathroom, and smiled politely at the person standing in the hallway waiting to use the bathroom. I returned to the party, found Bob, and quickly motioned him to 'come over here' as I stood against the wall and tried to look 'casual'. When he came over I quickly explained what had happened and Bob tried to stifle his laughter. I gave him a look that told him it wasn't even close to being funny so shut the f*ck up.

Then he 'wanted to see'. I figured he might be more willing to help me conceal my horrible mishap if I let him see, so I stepped away from the wall slightly and did a quarter turn so my back was toward him for a second, then returned to having my back against the wall.

Needless to say, this incident did not help me feel less nervous or intimidated by our hosts. But my khakis did dry eventually and I was able to move about the party rather than try to look 'casual' by standing against the wall.

To this day, if I ever have to sit down in someone else's bathroom, you can be sure I always check to be sure I'm pointing south, if you know what I mean.

Crush du Jour: Paul Adelstein

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pouncer to the vet

Yesterday I took Pouncer to the vet because he was showing symptoms again of the bacterial infection he had back in Sept. The symptoms include wheezing when he breathes and rapid successions of sneezing. (In case you want to know more details about it, click here, here, here, and here.)
Fortunately his current symptoms aren't nearly as bad as last time. He is still eating and his activity level appears normal, which is good. Hopefully we'll get this taken care of before it has a chance to get worse.

We decided not to take him back to the same vet, even though he likely has the same issue. We felt like the care he got there was good, but extremely expensive. Two exams, blood work, fluids, antibiotic injections, sedation and a scope exam cost over $1,100. Several friends mentioned how much they like a different vet who provided good care for their pets at a more reasonable cost. So yesterday I took Pouncer to the new vet.

As soon as I walked in the door I noticed a 'low budget' feeling. The waiting area was much smaller and was provisioned with furniture that appeared to have been rescued from a doctor's office in 1979. There was a steel blue leather sofa, on which a cat slept in the sun light, and several uncomfortable wooden chairs. The paint was dingy and there was a definite smell of animals in the air. Yes, I know it was a vet's office, but the expensive vet never smelled like animals.

Pouncer hates riding in the car but the expensive vet was only 2 miles from home so it wasn't that bad. The 'low budget' vet is about 8 miles away with many traffic lights, so I had to endure Pouncer's sorrowful moans and growls all the way to the new vet. Once inside the waiting room he quieted down, but when the tech tried to get him out of is carrier he did not want to come out. He wedged his hind legs inside the carrier opening, so we wound up having to tilt it forward to 'dump' him out.

I explained to the tech and the doctor about Pouncer's bacterial infection in Sept and his response to the treatment. During his exam Pouncer moaned, growled, and hissed at them repeatedly. He was definitely NOT happy with all the poking and prodding he received. (Funny, that's my favorite part of a doctor's visit!) They came to the same conclusion that it was likely a bacterial infection in his sinus area and gave him an antibiotic injection that should work for 2 weeks.

As soon as they let him go Pouncer promptly returned to the safety of his carrier.

Although the 'low budget' vet isn't nearly as nice or fancy as the 'glamor' vet, I will continue using the 'low budget' vet because I believe the care is just as good but at a lower price. I don't need 'fancy' or 'glamorous' at the vet that much!

Soon after returning home Pouncer must have forgiven me for subjecting him to the car rides and the vet visit, because he jumped up into my lap and allowed me to pet him while he purred.

Crush du Jour: Martin Karpan

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend highlights

We had a rather calm, relaxing weekend.

Despite it being the last weekend before Christmas, we only had 1 thing 'planned' for the weekend, a party at Steven & Thad's on Sat night. So we slept in Sat morning and had a leisurely day as we awaited the winter storm of apocalyptic proportions. After breakfast I ran the dishwasher and watched some shows on HGTV, while Spouse ran to the grocery store to get a few ingredients to make a cake from scratch for the party.

We listened to Christmas music while Spouse made his cake and I wrapped gifts. It was nice to still be together and able to talk to each other while doing different things.

The snow started around 3:30-ish but several times it sort of tapered off. We certainly didn't seem to be getting anything similar to our family in northern VA. We left at 6:00 for the party and the roads just had a thin coating of snow on them. I felt confident in our all-wheel drive Honda CRV but Spouse couldn't resist telling me to "Watch out!" or "Slow down!" any time a nearby vehicle's break lights came on.

A few folks didn't show up for the party due to the weather but we had a great time anyway. Steven cooked enough for a small army and we really enjoyed talking and visiting with everyone who came. The snow increased while we were inside, and when it was time to leave there seemed to be about 3-4 inches of snow on the ground. We drove home slowly and carefully.

Sun was another quiet, relaxing day. At 1:00 we went back to Steven & Thad's for lunch to help them get rid of some of the left overs from the previous night. We even wound up bringing some home. Some conversation resulted in Thad pulling out envelopes of old photos and we had more than a few belly laughs on his account.

We got home at 5:30 and just watched TV and used the computer until bedtime.

One of the reasons for our calm, relaxing weekend was that we decided not to decorate our house or put up a tree this year. Earlier in the month we just had too many things going on, plus we felt as though we'd just gotten our house back together and cleaned after the addition. I also did not do my usual baking of cookies for the neighbors or a holiday party this year.

I bring this up because so often people lose the joy of the holidays by feeling obligated to keep every Christmas tradition, every year. They stress themselves out and worry over activities that should be joyful. Our suggestion is that you allow yourselves the permission to skip a year for some of your holiday traditions if you are feeling stressed or behind. Your neighbors will not starve without your cookies, nor will they vote you off the block for not decorating your house.

I am content that this year I got over 140 holiday cards in the mail, went to 5 parties, and purchased/wrapped 15 gifts. All I have left is to purchase some gift cards for the teenaged nieces and nephews. I am totally OK with the fact that we didn't decorate our house, put up a tree, bake cookies, or host a holiday party this year.

There's always next year!

Crush du Jour: Sebastian Rivers

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post. Let's get started, shall we?

Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill for marriage equality in DC. Same sex couples should begin to marry in March! Woo hoo!!! Expect DC's budget deficit to go down in 2010 due to the marriage license fees and taxes on services such as catering, flowers, tux rentals, limo rentals, and hotel ballroom and guest room rentals. When will struggling states understand that marriage equality is good for residents AND good for the economy?

Earlier this week I got very excited when I found this postcard in our mailbox:
My childhood wish of being a "Nielson household" had come true! How great that Nielson would track my gay TV viewing and report it to whomever gets the Nielson results! However, my excitement was short-lived when I flipped the postcard over I saw that it was addressed to my neighbor.

While out Christmas shopping I couldn't resist buying myself 2 new pairs of shoes. I am so frugal when it comes to shopping for myself, but I won't buy something I don't love just "because its a deal". (Seriously, Spouse will sometimes buy something he doesn't really like just because he thinks its a crazy deal. I tell him its not a deal if he doesn't really like it and won't wear it.) But this time, it just worked out. I found 2 pairs of shoes that I really like a lot AND they were both 1/2 price.

These are Sketcher knock-offs and I got them for $20. I don't spend a lot for shoes because I like the ability to toss them in the trash when they get smelly or go out of style and not feel bad that I'm throwing away a $100. pair of shoes, so these were perfect for me. Merry Christmas!!

I find it highly ironic that 2 of the most liberal states, CA and NY, have voted down marriage equality for gays, while conservative TX just elected its 1st gay mayor of Houston. Apparently they don't mind us doing their hair, creating their floral arrangements, styling their clothes, decorating their homes, and holding public office, just as long we can't have equal rights.

I lifted this from JavaJunkie's blog:
Just because you can be in constant contact with your friends doesn't mean you should. Inappropriate cell phone use is RUDE!

My buddy Jared provided me with this holiday gem:
and this one too:
Jared said he wanted to be Bitchy and I responded "Want to???" Which elf are you?

Here's a little holiday tip for you: add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon to your coffee grounds before you brew, OR, use eggnog instead of creamer. Both of these will turn ordinary coffee into a special taste treat for the holidays.

Have a terrific weekend!!

Crush du Jour: Santiago Aragon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Award

I am honored to mention that I am a recipient of the "Circle of Friends Award" from fellow blogger Larry. Thank you Larry!!

Larry & his husband Greg live in OH and have been together 17 years. They got married in CA in 2008. I had the pleasure of meeting them both at the Equality March in Washington, DC in Oct 2009. To learn more about Larry and read his blog, click here.

Upon receiving this award I am to mention 5 things I enjoy or like to do, then pass the award on to 5 others. So, here goes!

1. I love jazz standards, vocal jazz, and a capella music. I remember hearing The Manhattan Transfer sing "Operator" back in the 70s and I knew this type of music was for me. Then I discovered Ella Fitzgerald and felt as if I'd found a kindred soul. (Who else can perform a song for over 9 minutes without boring the audience?) In the 90s I discovered The Real Group and am in love with their lush, tight harmonies with no instrumental back-up. If you listen to all 3 clips above, you will know me musically.

2. I love cars. Ever since I was a kid I have had a fascination with cars. As an toddler I would sit on our Electrolux and ride it around the house. Then came the Matchbox cars. On road trips I would bring to my parents' attention any car with non-original hubcaps. As a teenager I started going to local car shows and narrowed down my favorite era to 1950s-1960s. My 1st car was a 1979 Chevrolet Chevette; my 1st cool car was a 1978 VW bug convertible; I've had 2 Honda Accords, a Civic, and we currently have a CRV and a BMW 325i convertible. Finally at the age of 45 I finally my very own vintage car.

3. I strive to be an authentic person. I really don't like feeling that I have to do something or be a certain way because its expected of me. I want to be myself; my own genuine person. Traditions and expected social behavior are fine suggestions, as they give everyone a general idea of what's 'normal'. But I enjoy the freedom to be unexpected, unconventional, and spontaneous sometimes; an individual who uses good judgement when deciding when to color outside the lines.

4. I really enjoy cocktails. I'm not the kind of guy who drinks to get drunk. Even in my '20s I didn't do that. But I enjoy the endless combinations of alcohol and mixers that people can dream up, and I pretty much like everything. My favorite cocktail to make at home is a Blue PomeCosmo (aka: Marktini). My favorite to order in a restaurant is a Cosmopolitan. My favorite to order in a crowded bar or club is Malibu and diet soda because I enjoy the taste and its really easy and fast for a bartender to make. Occasionally I'll feel like having a beer, but not very often.
5. I have always enjoyed writing. I still have several 'creative writing' assignments from middle school. I wrote a short play when I was home from (high) school with pneumonia for 2 weeks. Shortly after coming out I began chronicling my thoughts, feelings, and actions that lead to that decision, which I have since updated and
shared on this blog. Blogging is a wonderful outlet for personal expression, learning from others, and for keeping track of events. Its hard to believe that I will celebrate my 5th year of blogging later this month.

Now, I will bestow the illustrious "Circle of Friends Award" upon 5 other bloggers and anticipate what they'll write about themselves. So, will Mark at Behr Blather, Bob at I Should Be Laughing, David at David Dust, Jeffrey at I was Half in Love by the Time We Sat Down, and Rob at JavaJunkie kindly bow to receive your award? Click on their blogs for some good readin'.

Crush du Jour: Seth Cooper

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Before & after

You may recall that when the interior construction was finished on our garage/bath/closet addition, I took you on a little photo tour of the inside.

I waited to show you the exterior before-and-after shots because the driveway was not done and 2 important pieces of gingerbread trim (for the peaks of the gables) had to be ordered. I'm happy to say that the driveway was completed last week and the gingerbread trim was completed this week. We are officially done.

In case you're interested, here's the backhoe tearing out the old driveway, which was cracked by the City's street paving contractor.
This is what it looked like for about a month:
An unusual number of rainy days delayed the pouring of the concrete several times, but they were finally to get it poured last week.
They poured the 2nd side on a different day, probably so they could remove the forms.

So, now I can present to you the exterior before-and-after shots.

The side of the house before:
The side of the house after:

The side/front of the house before:
The side/front of the house after:

The front of the house before:
The front of the house after:

I am happy to report that the addition came in on budget and we are very happy with the final product. Big Ella has a comfy place to rest while Spouse & I have lots of storage space in the garage, 2 additional parking spaces in front of the garage, and a glamorous master bathroom and closet/dressing room.

Most of our neighbors and friends have commented about how seamlessly the addition was integrated into the existing house. "You'd never know it wasn't all built at the same time" they say. That is exactly what we were going for! It was very important to us that it didn't end up looking like an addition, so we were very clear about this while working with the architect and builder. If anyone plans an addition or renovation, I highly recommend being very clear about what you want/don't want and like/don't like. Don't be afraid to say it over and over again. Its your house and your money!

Just in case you'd like to see how the project went, from start to finish, go to the left side of this blog and click on the 'addition' tag. This will pull up for you all posts related to the addition project.

Crush du Jour: Travis Oliver

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We'll see...

As a kid I remember hearing the phrase "We'll see..." many times, which I came to understand meant "Most likely not, but since there's a remote chance, we'll just say 'We'll see...'". This likely explains why I've hated the phrase "We'll see..." even into adulthood. However, in my quest for a more peaceful, non-stressful life I have come to appreciate the phrase.

As a kid I assumed my parents thought it was easier to say "We'll see..." than "No", hoping I'd forget about my request before it came to "see". But as an adult I have found that "We'll see..." doesn't always mean "No".

In fact, a "We'll see..." attitude often provides me with the needed time to contemplate the situation, avoid making an emotional or hasty decision, and sometimes eliminates the need to make a decision at all. Case in point:

Through Facebook I was recently reconnected with a dear friend Patrick with whom I'd lost touch many years ago. I'd tried to locate him by calling old phone numbers and using various websites, etc to no avail. Then out of the blue came the friend request on Facebook. He lives about 20 miles from where Spouse's family lives. Naturally we really wanted to see each other again so I suggested we do so over the Christmas holiday. Perfect - we'd be close by and he had no plans.

I suggested to Spouse that since we'd be back in the area for 4 days over the Christmas holiday, we should make a point to see Patrick. He and Spouse had never met and Patrick was eager to meet him. Spouse sighed and said "We'll see..."

Thinking he surely understood how important this was to me, I was a little miffed and asked "What does that mean?" "It means we'll see. You've got us all booked up running around seeing all kinds of people while we're there. I don't want to feel like I'm on a social schedule. I want to spend time with my family. Its Christmas!"

Realizing I really couldn't argue seeing my old friend against spending Christmas with the family, I just said "Okay. We'll see."

Part of me wanted him to agree right then and there to working in a visit with Patrick. But another part of me reminded me that I am not single, I do not always get my way, and that I must also consider my partner's feelings. Really, I did not need his permission, nor did I need to have an answer that day.

I could have gotten all indignant up in here, demanding that my friendship with Patrick was just as important as our relationship with Spouse's family, and that a "We'll see..." answer was insulting. But instead, I let it go. I decided to truly "see" how things worked out, and indeed, they did work out.

Two days later as Patrick and I were chatting on Facebook he announced that his brother in CO had surprised him with a free plane ticket (using his frequent flyer miles) to spend the week of Christmas with him and his wife in CO. It had been several years since Patrick had spent time with his brother, sister-in-law, and their kids so he was absolutely thrilled with his brother's generous offer.

Then I realized that since Patrick would be in CO the entire time Spouse & I were back in VA, it would be impossible for us to meet up with him then. But since we return to VA for a weekend nearly every month, we could always meet up with him in Jan or Feb when nothing else was going on.

The situation had taken care of itself.

It isn't always easy, and things don't always work themselves out because you don't make a decision on them right away. But there are few guarantees in life. Much of the time we have to work from our experience and our gut feelings. Mine told me it was okay not to get my way this time, and by accepting that I may or may not get to see Patrick over Christmas, I avoided what could have turned into an ugly "discussion" (read: argument).

As I accept aging gracefully, I also accept that it is up to me to create and preserve a peaceful, non-stressful life. And accepting a "We'll see..." answer is part of that. Will this result in a happier life for me?

We'll see...

Crush du Jour: Josh Turner

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend highlights

We had a schizophrenic weekend: Sat we were on the go the entire day and Sun we didn't leave the house.

Sat was all about the parties:
Party #1: Mark's birthday breakfast, 9am-12noon
Spouse & I were up by 7am getting ready for my birthday breakfast party. We'd done most of the prep on Fri night, but needed to bake the sausage/egg/cheese casseroles and the french toast casseroles, pick up the bagels and scones from Surf Bagel, and put on the finishing touches. We had 14 for breakfast and had a terrific time! This really made up for my horrible day on my actual birthday.

Party #2: George & Steve's Tree Trimming, 1-4pm
They were the 1st people we met after moving to DE. Through their annual tree trimming party where everyone helps unpack and hang all their ornaments on their 2 trees we met several of the folks who are now our friends, too. They've been together nearly 30 years so they've collected a LOT of ornaments. Afterward there's food, drinks, and conversations; always a good time.

Party #3: Jason's birthday dinner, 6:30-11pm
Jason's birthday was 2 days after mine but his partner Chris arranged a birthday dinner on Sat at their home. The food was great and the friends we visited with were among our favorites. Kevin brought a home made chocolate chunk cake with chocolate icing that was practically orgasmic. We hated to leave at 9:30 but we still had another party to attend.

Party #4: Craig & Mike's Holiday Open House, 7-11pm
We arrived at about 9:30 and stayed about an hour. We could really feel our long day catching up with us, but it was nice of Craig & Mike to invite us. Since we'd been eating all day we didn't have any room left to sample their goodies, but you know I always have room for a pomegranate martini! Craig & Mike had 7 (yes, 7) theme-decorated Christmas trees in their house! We thought it might be because they have an 8 year old son who loves Christmas, but they confessed it was really all for them!

It was a really FUN day, but us old-timers were absolutely beat when we got home at 11pm.

Sun we slept in since we had no plans for the day, and because it was raining and very windy outside. We pretty much decided early on that we weren't leaving the house so neither of us got dressed. We stayed in our comfy flannel pj pants the entire day, which I consider to be one of life's under-rated luxuries. We snacked on left-overs from Saturday's breakfast.

We watched TV for a while, we spent a little time on the computer, I unloaded the dishwasher (from Saturday's breakfast) and then loaded it with the casserole dishes and coffee pots, wiped down the counters, then put on some Christmas music and finished writing/addressing/sealing/stamping the other 1/2 of our holiday cards. Spouse helped me with the last batch of cards. Then we ordered delivery pizza and ate it while watching 60 Minutes. Then I went upstairs to watch "White Christmas" (I love that movie) while Spouse watched crap. He later joined me for the last 1/3 of "White Christmas" and wished he would have watched the whole thing.

So Sun we never got dressed, never left the house, and didn't cook a thing. It was divine.

Crush du Jour: JC Vazquez

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

My friend Marty sent me this and I got a chuckle out of it.

I was off work today. I have leave I needed to use or loose so I took today off. I ran a few errands (post office, bank, etc.) and signed/addressed Christmas cards. I got about 1/2 of my list done and in the mail.

I saw these photos over on Bob's blog and just had to repost them!
You KNOW none of her friends can complete with her holiday spirit.

I must have gotten this photo and its accompanying story from 25 different people this week!
What do you get for that person on your holiday gift list who has everything? THIS!! Or, maybe THIS!!

My friend Jared sent me this, and I've since seen it on a few other blogs, too. Love it!

By now you've heard that NY voted down the marriage equality bill, but did you hear the speech given by Senator Diane Savino? Its concise, its logical, its truthful, and its wonderful. I'm in love with this woman! And although gay New Yorkers are likely still smarting over the loss, at least they can feel good that they have such an ally in Senator Savino.

Jared sent me this and I love it, too!
My friend Lisa sent me this article about a couple who live in the smallest apartment in Manhattan - just 175 square feet! I love this! I realize that may sound insane coming from a man who lives in a house about 23 times the size of their apt, but its true. Small spaces force you to only keep what you can't live without. No collections, no clutter. Its liberating. And to own an apt in Manhattan in just 2 years, giving them money to travel, eat out, etc is a fabulous concept. I think I could do it!! Not with Spouse; but I could do it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!
Crush du Jour: Seth McFarlane