Friday, January 31, 2014

Preparing for the Polar Beach Plunge

This coming Sunday is the Polar Bear Plunge, an annual event that benefits the Special Olympics of DE.  The "plunge" refers to people plunging into the ocean, in the cold of February.  This event draws thousands of participants and spectators of every age.

Our friends Kerry & Hugh have been spending Polar Bear Plunge weekend with us and doing the actual plunge for the last 10 years.  (Spouse & I do not jump into the water.  I film the event for them and Spouse holds their little dog.)  Each year they bring a slightly different cast of characters to join them for this fun weekend.  

Some years the weather has been very cold and windy while other years its been sunny and warmer.  Wind, sun, and a few degrees can make a huge difference when they are running out of the water.

Many folks dress up in funny costumes and hats that add even more fun to the event.  Kerry & Hugh et al usually wear over-sized green leprechaun hats (purchased at the Dollar Store), since they are Irish.  

Here's a video (found on the internet) from last year's Plunge:

Kerry & Hugh et al will arrive tomorrow afternoon and we'll have dinner out somewhere, hang out and talk/laugh until bedtime, have breakfast at home Sun morning, and then head to the plunge.  Afterward they'll shower and change clothes and we'll have lunch together before they head home.  Its a quick weekend trip but its always a LOT of fun!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Racy ad

In the world of advertising, the US is known for being among the strictest when it comes to morality, nudity, and implied sex.  Many ads are perfectly acceptable in Europe and Asia, but are unacceptable here.

However, this Australian ad for Naked brand condoms which shows a couple 'trying out' the condom in the drug store was so racy that even typically liberal Australia decided it was too much. 
Personally I didn't find all that racy.  What do you think?

Monday, January 27, 2014

GLBT love at the Grammys

I tend not to watch awards shows much anymore. 

I rarely see Broadway shows so I have no idea who/what the nominees are for the Tony awards. The Screen Actor's Guild, People's Choice, and Gold Globes awards often get boring with the rambling acceptance speeches.  Why do the winners feel the need to publicly thank dozens of people we don't know?  That's something they should do on their own time!

And then, of course, there is often the dreadful scripted dialog for the presenters to deliver, which most of the time includes insincere self-deprication and 'jokes' that fall flatter than a pancake.

So I really wasn't planning on watching the Grammy awards this year.  Spouse was flipping the channel and nothing interesting came on, so when he paused at the Grammy show we began to watch it.  It was actually much better than I remember from past years.

I was somewhat surprised but very happy to see a 3 distinct occasions where GLBT rights and love were shown or spoken of in a very favorable light.

I'll start with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  They 1st got my attention a year ago with their debut song "Thrift Shop".  But last night they performed their 2nd hit song "Same Love" which ended with Queen Latifah marrying 33 couples (same-sex and opposite-sex), saying "by the power invested in my by the state of California, I now pronounce you a married couple!".
Many observers (including country singer Keith Urban) were brought to tears.  I've never seen anything quite like it! 

Next came a performance by Kacey Musgrove whose name I'd never heard of, but that's not surprising since I don't listen to country music.  Kacy performed her song "Follow Your Arrow" which contains the lyrics "Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that's somethin' you're into.  If the straight and narrow is a little too straight..."
Its a catchy tune with a terrific message.  And how can you not love a woman who wears a Mexican Christmas tree skirt?

And finally in Paul Williams' acceptance speech for Daft Punk he said they wanted him to say that "As elegant and classy as the Grammy has ever been, is the moment when we saw those wonder marriages, and that "Same Love" is fantastic and the height of fairness and love, and the power of love for all people, at any time, in any combination.

What made me stay up late on a school night until the Grammy awards was over?  I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any other support messages during the show.  And then as I climbed in bed it occured to me that I had just witnessed history:  the 1st time a marriage (or 33 marriages to be exact) were conducted during an awards show.  And some of those couples were gay and lesbian.

The times they are a-changin'.

Friday, January 24, 2014


I have noticed lately that some people seem to be obsessed with the word "obsessed".

"I'm obsessed with that new frozen yogurt place!"

"I'm obsessed with that new app on my new iPhone."

Yes, I know they don't mean that they are literally obsessed; completely dominated or preoccupied to the point of excluding or ignoring important or necessary things. 

But when people really like something, why don't they just say "I really like that", instead of describing their interest by saying they're "obsessed".

Perhaps its for dramatic effect.  I must admit to having said things for dramatic effect once or 50 times.

But just like the proverbial boy who cried wolf, if one continually over-uses the word "obsessed", those around them become desensitized to it.  Its no longer a big deal and loses its dramatic effect.

The next time I hear someone inappropriately say they are "obsessed" with something, I'm going to say "Really?  So has your obsession caused you to neglect your family and get fired from your job?  No??  Then you aren't truly obsessed.  You're just really into it.  So there!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


All day Mon we heard about the imminent snowfall, strong winds and extreme cold coming our way.

On Tues the State Government closed at 12 noon in anticipation of this "extreme weather event", even though the 1st flake had yet to fall.  Snow predictions for our area initially were 2"-5", but because we were right on the line of the heavier snow, rumors of 5"-9" quickly took over.  

It didn't actually start snowing until about 4:30, but it was very windy all day.  Sustained winds near 40mph made it feel even colder that it was.  Once the snow really started coming down it was like a blizzard.

With the possibility of being 'snowbound' for a day or 2, Spouse stopped at the grocery store for what he calls "storm food", which consisted of frozen pizza, slice-n-bake cookies, and chips.  The snow fell, the wind howled, and Spouse & I hunkered down for the night.

The State Government was closed today so Spouse got another day off.  My company decided to open at 12 noon.  It was next to impossible to tell how much snow we actually got because of the drifting.  In some places the street was visible, while in other places there were 2' and 3' drifts.  The wind receded, but man was it cold.  It was 7 degrees.  The high temperature today was 16 degrees.

Fortunately the wind kept the snow from building up on my car so I didn't have to clean it off.

Monday, January 20, 2014

RV having fun yet?

Our friends Vic & Mike were in town this weekend.

Spouse & I knew Vic from when we lived in VA.  Mike came along later.

Vic & Mike had a condo here at the beach until last Oct.  They asked me to sell it for them because they didn't like their noisy neighbor.  Now they have an RV so they can spend weekends at the beach again, as well as go other places.

They invited us to dinner and to see their RV.  We had dinner at Saketumi, one of my all time faves.  Then we checked out there RV, which was pretty cool.  Its completely self-sufficient (for a time, that is) and even has a 32" hi-def TV.

I don't think RV'ing is for me, but I think its cool that our friends are trying something new.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Vet visit

Yesterday I took Marvin to the vet for a wellness visit.

In theory I suppose you're supposed to take your pets for annual check-ups, but I'm not so sure I agree with this especially when you have a young pet that doesn't need to be 'monitored' like an older pet.  But we've had Marvin for 20 months now, and aside from his initial visit back then, he hasn't been back.

Marvin rides in his carrier in the car very well, so there was no anxiety there.  When we entered the waiting room there were no other pets waiting (although some were in the examining rooms), so Marvin could walk around, sniff, explore, and discover.  I can only imagine what he must have been thinking since there were so many doggy smells there, yet he couldn't see any other dogs.

The vet took a small blood sample to run tests (all negative, thank goodness) and gave him shots for rabies and distemper
.  She explained that Marvin will likely be lethargic later on, and that his leg may be sore from the injections, and to let her know if it persisted the next day.

(As an aside, while I was paying at the reception desk, a woman came to the desk and said to a clerk "Can you send someone outside to help?  An older woman fell and is injured."  A woman waiting in the reception area overheard this and said "I'm a nurse - I'll take a look at her."  As Marvin and I were leaving we saw the woman lying on the sidewalk in front of the entrance, blood on her face, the sidewalk and the parking lot, and several people attending to her with towels, tissues, and a blanket.  I heard one of them say "We've called 911 and an ambulance is on its way.")

When we got home Marvin appeared overjoyed at being back in his familiar surroundings and almost bounced around the house as he found toys to bite and shake and play with.  After doing chores for about an hour, I put Marvin in his crate before leaving the house for a few hours.

When I got home from my errands, Marvin seemed like a different dog.  His ears were pulled back and he seemed to have no energy or enthusiasm at all.  He came out of his crate and just stood there looking at me.  I wasn't alarmed, as I recalled the vet's information.  As is our normal routine, I called Marvin to go outside and "go pee pee and poop", but he just stood there.  I ended up having to pick him up and carry him outside - he didn't want to walk.  When he did walk, he had a bit of a limp.  Poor little guy's leg must have really hurt.

The rest of the night Marvin was very sedate and not at all like himself.  Fortunately this morning he seemed a little more like himself.  I called the vet's office and they suggested we "keep an eye on him", which is rather difficult to do since we both work.  But when I got home from work Marvin was almost back to normal.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Letter to my clients

The team leader of my real estate group has a tradition of mailing clients a beautiful, glossy calendar with photos taken by a local photographer, and includes an end-of-the-year letter with it.  When I joined the team she encouraged me to write a letter of my own to be inserted with her letter and calendar that were mailed to my clients.

Despite having written this blog for 6 years at that point, my 1st letter to my clients was rather short and plain.  I had been an agent for less than a year and was truly grateful for the business that had come my way, so my letter was basically a big 'thank you' to my clients.

My 2nd letter (the following year) evolved a bit.  In addition to thanking my clients for their business, I also offered to assist them with referrals to service professionals they may need, such as a good painter, electrician, and handyman.  I also shared with them 3 local places I love to eat.

While both letters were perfectly adequate, none resulted in any feedback other than "thanks for the calendar - its beautiful".

So this year when it came time to write my end-of-the-year letter I wanted it to be different.  And better.  So I asked myself "Besides thanking them for their business, what do I really want to accomplish with this letter?"  The answer was referrals.  I want them to refer their friends, neighbors, and family to me.  And I want the letter to me more personal and less business-like.

In my 1st draft I wrote "Should you need real estate services again in the future, I hope you’ll feel confident calling on me again, and referring your friends to me.  As you might imagine, referrals are a very important element of my business, as well as being a sign for me that I’m doing a good job for my clients."  But after re-reading it the sentence sounded too passive and almost apologetic.  

Hey, I work really hard and deliver the best service you can get from a real estate agent.  The people receiving the letter experienced this, so why should I be passive or apologetic?  

So I re-wrote that section to say "Please pass my name on to your friends and neighbors who mention real estate.  As you might imagine, referrals are very important to my business, and I consider referrals to be the ‘ultimate compliment’.  I promise to give your friends and neighbors the same personal attention that made your transaction successful."

Asking for referrals:  check.  Now onto the personal part...

I decided to take a bit of a risk and share 3 of my highlights of 2013, one of which was getting married.  I'm not so delusional to think that my clients assume I'm straight, nor do I want them to assume that.  But with some of them our conversations stayed more on the business at hand and didn't spill over into the personal, so for some this may indeed be news.  

So the last paragraph read: "On a personal note, in 2013 I finally enjoyed the experience of going somewhere warm and sunny when it was cold and snowy here.  In February I spent a week in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, which I found to be beautiful and relaxing.  Believe it or not, I saw a woman there wearing a “Rehoboth Beach” t-shirt!  After Delaware implemented marriage equality legislation this year, in October I married my partner of 17 years.  In December I was treated to a surprise trip to Paris for my 50th birthday, which was even more beautiful and charming than I imagined.  Thanks to my clients Jim & Dawn for the excellent Paris travel tips!"

The feedback I received was truly heartwarming.  No one mentioned the beautiful calendar; instead I received email after email after email of congratulations on my marriage!  Even my macho client who wears the big cross around his neck said "Hey, I want to say congratulations on your marriage.  That's awesome." and shook my hand.

Maybe the world has changed more than I give it credit.  Maybe people think its amazing when 2 people stay together for 17 years, be they straight or gay.  Maybe the Universe gave me a virtual pat on the back for taking a risk and 'owning' my experiences.  

It seems there's nothing to regret when you live your life authentically.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Visit with Manny

I got a call from my cousin's ex-husband Manny, telling me he and his girlfriend were going to be in my area for the weekend, and wanting to know if Spouse & I would like to meet them for dinner on Sat.

My cousin and I were very close until our mid-20s.  That's when she fell in love with Manny, who was not a Jehovah's Witness like us, got pregnant, and was disfellowshipped/ex-communicated.  JWs in good standing are not permitted to associate with those who are disfellowshipped, even if they are family, so I had to shun my cousin.  Some time later my cousin was reinstated and I was happy to once again spend time with her and her new husband, Manny.  But just a few years later is when I decided to 'come out' and leave the JW religion, which resulted in my being disfellowshipped.  That pretty much ended my ability to associate with my cousin.

A couple of years ago my cousin and Manny split up, and I ran into him at a wedding.  He seemed genuinely happy to see me, and I was happy to see him as well.  I always thought of him as a very nice guy; gentle and very laid back.  Pretty much the opposite of my cousin.  We friended each other on facebook.

So it was a pleasant surprise to hear that he was going to be in town over the weekend, and I readily accepted the invitation to join him for dinner.  The conversation flowed easily for the 4 of us.  Since we'd only met his girlfriend once, we learned more about her.  She is a yoga instructor and has her own studio.  Manny is a mechanic who specializes in German cars like Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Porshe.  They are both in a band that plays local gigs in their area, and since Manny had seen my "Legends" postings on facebook, we talked a lot about music and performing.  We also discussed family, pets, travel, cars, and Spouse's work.

We had a really nice time and I was genuinely surprised to find that 3 hours had elapsed.  Spouse & I invited them to come back and stay with us anytime they wanted a get-away, and they said they would.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Saying 'Happy New Year'

So here we are, on the 10th of January, out to dinner with Steven & Thad and Joe P, and I see a friend/acquaintance I hadn't seen in a while.  So I said to the person "Hey, great to see you!  Happy New Year!"

Afterwards 1 of my dining companions (I won't reveal which 1) suggested that it was "too late to be saying that", which began a short yet I believe important conversation about when is it too late to wish someone a happy new year.

Someone suggested it should only be said during the holidays (ie: the days between Christmas and New Years Day).  

However, I believe that if it is prior to January 15 and you have not seen the person since before New Years Day, it is still appropriate to wish them a happy new year.  After January 15 it is too late, regardless of when you last saw them.

What do you think??

Monday, January 06, 2014

Mirror mirror, on the dresser

Spouse & I decided a few months back that we are going to redecorate one of our guest bedrooms in the Hollywood Regency style, so we began picking up pieces when we saw them at bargain prices.  Spouse saw a clearance/close-out on a bedding set (comforter, bed skirt, shams, and decorator pillows) we purchased for $49.95 and I picked up a large sequined pillow for $12.99 and tossed them in a closet until we were ready to put the room together.

One of the key elements to making this transition to remove the large computer desk and replace it with a mirrored dresser to store some of the items from the computer desk.  I saw the perfect piece at my favorite store, HomeGoods.  It had 2 side-by-side drawers on the top and 2 full-width drawers below.  But since I hadn't done any research on pricing yet I initially thought $279. for this piece seemed like a lot, so I didn't buy it.  I came home and searched several online suppliers of similar pieces of mirrored furniture only to find that $279. was actually a very good price for the piece.  Many similar pieces were 2 & 3 times as much.  A few days later I went back to look at it again and, of course, it was gone.  (That's the way it always is at this HomeGoods.  If you like it, you have to buy it that day or it won't be there when you come back.)

A month or so later I saw another mirrored dresser that was very similar to the original one, but the drawer configuration was slightly different.  It had 3 full-width drawers, but still it would work.  It was in the clearance section because it had some slight damage (cracks) in the mirror.  It was marked down from $279. to $149.  The damage wasn't significant, and probably wouldn't be noticed by 50% of the people who would sleep in this room.  But $149. still seemed like too much for a piece with damage. 

Then a few days ago I saw that same piece had been reduced again, from $149. to $99.  I was tempted to buy it right then and there but was afraid to do since Spouse had never actually seen the piece.  I came home that evening, told him about it, and we agreed to go back the next day together. 

As we walked toward the back of the store where the clearance items are, I noticed a woman and her husband picking up a nightstand from the non-clearance furniture area that matched the dresser.  Spouse & I looked at the clearance dresser together, agreed the damage-to-discount ratio was very good, and decided to purchase the dresser for $99.  I went back to the front of the store to get a cart onto which we'd load the dresser, while Spouse began talking with a store clerk who walked by.

When I came back to the clearance area with the cart, the couple who had gotten the non-clearance matching nightstand were telling the clerk that they want this piece (the damaged clearance dresser) too! 

It was a bargain beat-out!!!

For a second I considered telling the couple the piece was mine, and showing them the cart I'd gotten from the front of the store as proof, and if they didn't relinquish the dresser, I would get all 'ignorant up in here'.  But my better sense took over and we left the store, feeling defeated.

But the mirrored lining to the story is that the merchandise in this store changes over so incredibly fast that I know it won't be long before another mirrored dresser shows up for us.  And this time I won't hesitate.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year!!!

We had a really fun New Years Eve last night!!!

We met Steven & Thad, Joe P, and Michael & Nathan for dinner at 8:30 at Dos Locos.  (I enjoyed a delicious blood orange margarita with my dinner, by the way.)  We had fun talking, laughing, eating, and drinking as expected.  But then, the owners of the restaurant, Joe & Daryl, began passing out hats and noise makers and encouraging everyone to ring in the new year with them.  It was 10:30 and I wasn't at all sure our group would agree to stay.

Surprisingly everyone at our table sort of mutually agreed to stay, so we ordered another round of drinks and "practiced" with the blowers and hand-held noise makers.
Michael & Nathan

Joe P & Spouse
Our festive table

Thad & Steven
Me & Spouse
You may notice in the photos that Joe P and Thad are wearing hats that read "Happy Birthday".  Apparently they ran out of "Happy New Year" hats but didn't want anyone to go without a hat so they brought out the birthday ones.  They were festive none-the-less.

Shortly before midnight a large screen was lowered at one end of the dining room onto which a TV feed was projected so we could watch the countdown in Times Square.  Then the servers passed out champagne (in real glass flutes) in preparation for the big moment.  At midnight we all shouted "HAPPY NEW YEAR", kissed the person closest to us and drank our champagne.

Although it was completely unplanned, we had a really fun New Years Eve at Dos Locos!