Tuesday, April 28, 2015

3 years ago on this date

...Spouse & I had our civil union ceremony and reception!  Our civil union was converted into a marriage 18 months later when marriage equality came to DE.

However, we do not consider either of those dates as our anniversary.  We consider they day we met (May 26) as our anniversary.  But I did want to recognize the 3rd year of our legally-recognized union in the eyes of the State.

If you've been reading this for less than 3 years and want to read and see more about our ceremony and reception, please click on the following links to previous posts:
It was a wonderfully memorable evening!

Friday, April 24, 2015

High pay & low stress

I saw an article on the AOL homepage that I thought was interesting.  (Yes, I still have an @aol.com email address which I access from their homepage.  It was my very first email address, and I love it.  Plus, I believe that keeping a consistent email address helps people with whom you've been out of touch for years reach you, like keeping the same phone number.)

I thought this article was interesting because most of the time we equate a high-paying job/career with high stress.  Typically lower stress jobs are usually accompanied by lower salaries or hourly wages.  But this article offers suggestions for high paying low stress jobs and tells you the education or experience needed.

Check it out!

One of the surprises to me was Economist, which studies the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services.  The average annual salary is just over $100K and requires only a Bachelor's degree.

Share this article with your children, nieces, and nephews in high school.  It just may help them select a college major and future career.  It may also be useful to those who may be considering for a career change.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Girls

I started watching a new show on the Discovery Life network called "New Girls on the Block".  It focuses on 6 transgender women who live in Kansas City.  Let's meet the cast:

Jaime and AiYana both used to be straight men, but are now lesbians in a relationship with each other. 

Chloe and Kassidy are best friends and used to be roommates until Kassidy moved to TX for a new job. Kassidy returns to Kansas City frequently to hang with her friends.

Robyn is in a hetero relationship with Andrew, who was Robyn's best friend when she used to be male.  "We went from best friends to boyfriend and girlfriend" she says in the opening.

Macy used to be Ken, and is still married to and living with her wife of several years, Sharon.

While I guess this show is technically a reality show, it is not at all like the other reality shows that are far from reality.  (Read: The Real Housewives, The Shahs of Sunset, etc.)  This show has more of a documentary feeling, and I'm enjoying learning more about the challenges and rewards of transitioning.  I have no interest in changing genders but I have a lot of respect for those brave enough to undertake it.  I've seen several shows over the years that have focused on the preparation to transition and the beginnings of it.  This is the first show I've seen that is entirely focused on life after transitioning.

I encourage you to give this show a try!  "New Girls on the Block" airs on Sat nights.  Find your channel and show time here.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Today's date is 4/20, the unofficial 'holiday' of those who enjoy smoking weed (pot).

Click here for the origin of this 'holiday'.

I've never tried pot.  It was against the code of behavior when I was growing up in the Jehovah's Witness faith, and when I left the faith at 29 years old my new non-JW friends did not happen to be partakers of the reefer, so I didn't partake either.  Over the years it seems the vast majority of my friends don't toke so I've not really had many opportunities or any pressure to do so.  Now that I'm over 50, I kind of see it as a record that I'm keeping.   

"51 and never taken a puff". 

My friends The Newlyweds think its hilarious that I'm keeping a record like that.  They teased me by adding other records to my resume:  "51 and never robbed a bank", "51 and never shot a gun", etc.

Now that mary jane is legal in several states I imagine it won't be too long before it loses its taboo and eventually becomes legal everywhere.  Perhaps many are anticipating this and celebrating today's date with a puff on the magic dragon, but not me.  I will be maintaining all of my records today by not smoking pot, robbing a bank, or firing a gun.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Joy ride

Yesterday was my day off.  Since I worked at home painting all last week, I decided not to make myself a long 'to do' list as I often do.  

But 1 thing I definitely DID want to do was to take Big Ella out for a drive.  It seems like months since I'd been able to do that, since I try not to drive her in the rain.  Yesterday was a mostly sunny day so it was perfect for an afternoon drive.
Click photo to enlarge

While I was out I stopped at Subway to have a sandwich.  A man came into Subway and asked if he could show my car to his grandson who has a passion for classics.  "Of course" I said, not surprised at all that Big Ella drew their attention.  While I ate I saw the man and his grandson walking around the car, pointing, and talking.  It was cute.

Afterward I made another stop, this time at a store to pick something up.  As I returned to Big Ella, a man sitting in the car next to Big Ella began asking me friendly questions about what year she was, how long I'd had her, did I restore her myself, etc.  As we wished each other a nice day and I opened the door, another man came up to me and said "I just have to talk to you about your
Click photo to enlarge
car."  He went on to tell me this story about how many years ago he bought a car 'just like this', only it wasn't turquoise and might have been a different year, but to him it was 'just like it'. 

So many people have a connection to this iconic car.  An uncle had one, a neighbor had one, they used to have one, they learned to drive in one, they went to 3rd base in one - it never ceases to amaze me.  (Seriously, a man once told me his child was conceived in the back seat of a car like mine.)

It makes me feel really fortunate that I get to tool around town in Big Ella, my stunningly beautiful piece of drivable art.
Click photo to enlarge

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tax day

So today is the deadline to file your federal tax return.  For whatever reason, many states' deadline is the end of the month.  I don't know why they don't just make them both due the same day, but whatever.

Our taxes are pretty complicated so we don't prepare them ourselves.  We own 2 rental properties, we own a 3rd property with another couple, and I'm self-employed so there are WAY too many deductions, prorations, etc for our comfort range.  But we have a good accountant we've worked with for years so I summarize our income, expenses, deductions and such on spreadsheets and email them to him.  I scan and email our W2 forms, 1099 forms, etc too so I've not actually seen our accountant in probably 15 years.

So our returns are filed and the checks are in the mail - literally.  Since no tax is taken out of my real estate commission checks I pay estimated quarterly tax and then always end up paying more by tax day. While its the same amount of tax either way, it always hurts to write out those checks to the IRS and state for thousands of dollars.

Monday, April 13, 2015

In memoriam

Yesterday Spouse & I went to breakfast with Steven and Joe P an hour earlier than normal so I could get back home and finish painting.  I wanted to get it done and everything put back before going back to work on Mon. 

I literally finished painting about 20 minutes before I had to be out the door.  Fortunately I didn't need to shower, I just had to change clothes, touch up my hair, and head out.  I was going to a celebration of the life of my friend Scott Weston, more commonly known by his drag alter-ego Cashetta.

I first saw Cashetta on a gay comedy show on Logo TV a few years ago when Cashetta was introduced as the "world's only drag magician".  Later Cashetta became friends with the owners of the Blue Moon and performed several times each week there in the summer months, doing magic shows, palm reading, seances, traditional drag/lip synch, and live singing.  Last summer Cashetta asked me to sing in her weekly show called "Showcase" where I picked songs that meant something to me.  It was a really wonderful experience to sing meaningful songs for an appreciative audience.  Cashetta was so gracious and complimentary.

Sadly, Cashetta passed away suddenly a few weeks ago.  While our friendship didn't go back years and years, I can honestly say that I still feel that I knew the real Cashetta.  She was always sincere, genuine, supportive of others' talents, and very, very funny.  She will definitely be missed by those who had the honor of knowing her.  The owners of the Blue Moon hosted a lovely, respectful, but light-hearted tribute to Cashetta that was very well attended.  I'm pretty sure they had to turn away people at the door to remain compliant with the fire code.  
I was glad to be there.  Steven & Joe P came too.  

Afterward we had dinner together and Spouse helped me move the furniture back into place.  Here's a shot of the foyer/entryway.  
I'll have to wait for better lighting to photograph the living room. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hollywood Regency

Last week I gave you this sneak peak into the design scheme for the guest bedroom I was redesigning:
We used the lightest shade (on the far right) called Pink Whisper.  The fabric you see in the photo above is the comforter and shames; black and white on the front and hot pink on the reverse.  My design inspiration was "Hollywood Regency".  

Here's the completed room:
This view shows the mirrored console we bought as an online close-out for $99, the 2 Ty Wilson framed prints I found at a thrift store, and the wall decor (over the bed) I got on clearance for $15.  You can only see a corner of the 5x7 black and white geometric rug I got on Amazon for $57. with free shipping.

This view (slightly shifted to the right) shows the bedding ensemble we found on an online clearance for $47.99.  That's right; the comforter, bed skirt, 2 shams, and 3 reversible decorator pillows for under $50.  Also shown are the curtain panels I found in a local store for $9.97 each.  These were NOT part of the bedding ensemble but matched perfectly.

This shot shows the reinvented night stands.  I bought these 2 matching side tables years ago at a thrift store for $20/pair.  They were brown wood but pretty scuffed and beat up, so I painted them glossy white and had mirrors cut to fit at Lowes for about $25.  Total cost for 2 reinvented night stands:  $45.

Spouse & I are super happy with the way this room turned out!  We spent less than $500 for all of bedding, curtains, rug, paint, art, and furniture (excluding the bed).  We love it!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


I'm on vacation this week, although we aren't going anywhere.  I took the week off to do a lot of painting, and a few other home projects.

I started Mon morning with 1 of our guest bedrooms.  After several interruptions I finished it yesterday, and today I started the living room and foyer/entryway.  I'll post photos later when everything's done and put back together.

I actually enjoy painting.  I painted my condo from top to bottom during the time I lived in it, and Spouse & I painted it again after the tenant moved out and before we sold it.  We painted our 1st house from top to bottom as well as our 2nd house, although we did this over the course of a couple years.  With all this painting, I've learned a few tips I'm happy to share with you:
  • Pick the right paint.  Don't be afraid to ask the person who works in the paint department.  Tell them about the room you're painting and ask for their advice.  Paint quality and prices can range quite a bit.  High traffic areas should be painted with high grade, washable paint.  Bedrooms and rooms that don't get as much traffic may not need the same quality paint.
  • Use the right tools.  Rollers come in different naps for different surface types so pick the right one for your surface.  I recommend you get 2 brushes; 1 for areas too small to roll and a smaller one for 'cutting in' along ceilings and trim moldings.
  • Remove what you don't want painted.  Remove as much if not all the furniture and move the rest to the center of the room.  Take off light switch and electrical socket plates.  Cover the switches and sockets with painters tape in case you go a little crazy while rolling.
  • Don't rush.  Put on music, relax, and take your time.  If you rush you're more likely to make mistakes.
  • Stretch your tape.  I always use blue painters tape on my baseboards to protect them from inevitable roller splatter.  To make the tape go on straight and not bubble up, stretch the tape a little as you lay it down and then press it down firmly to prevent leakage underneath it.
  • Roll first, then cut in.  Rolling covers quicker than brushing and leaves a nice smooth surface so roll as much as your can.  Cut in the rest with a brush.
  • Blend rolled and brushed surfaces together.  After rolling and cutting in, use a brush with little to no paint on it and 'feather' or blend the area where the rolling and brushing meet.  This eliminates visible lines between the rolled and brushed textures.
  • Keep a damp paper towel handy.  In case you accidentally drip a little paint or accidentally bump your roller or brush against an undesired surface, the damp paper towel handy will allow you to quickly clean up the mistake without having to go to the kitchen and get a paper towel, dampen it, and come back to the room in which you're working to clean up.
  • Remove your tape correctly.  When removing your painters tape, pull the tape at a 45 degree angle from the surface.  This will help the tape pull away cleanly and prevent splitting.
Follow these tips and you might enjoy painting as much as I do!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter recap

As I accurately predicted, it worked out very well not having the dogs with us for Easter.  We fed and walked them and put them in their crates as usual, then drove to Spouse's mom's house.  We visited a little while with his mom, then slipped over to Trader Joe's to stock up on our favorite things.

We picked up my aunt Mary and took her and Spouse's mom with us to Spouse's brother's house.  He and his wife always have lots and lots of chocolate bunnies and eggs, jelly beans, and other Easter candies.  
Just one of many Easter candy options we enjoyed!
Spouse & I both decided to go off our diets/eating plans that day so we could enjoy all these treats.  In addition to the treats they also served ham, turkey breast, rolls, green bean casserole, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, and sweet potato shuffle that my aunt brought.  For dessert we also had cupcakes, peanut butter cookies, and my all-time favorite cake:  hummingbird cake.  As much as I love chocolate and peanut butter, hummingbird cake is my favorite cake and it contains neither chocolate nor peanut butter.
Hummingbird cake with cream cheese icing - my all-time favorite cake
The weather was a little cool but it was relatively sunny so we spent a fair amount of time on Spouse's brother's screened porch.  It was nice to spend the day with the family and NOT worrying about the dogs, since our neighbor texted us to let us know the boys were fine and happy.  They actually went on 2 walks rather than 1, which they love.  We got home that night and received lots of puppy kisses, which I love.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Easter plans

Since Easter is this coming Sun, we will be heading back to VA again to spend the day with family.  

I say "again" because we were just there 3 weeks ago when we visited Kerry & Hugh for the St Patricks Day parade and spent some time with the family.  But its our tradition to spend Easter together too so that's what we're going to do.

Spouse reluctantly agreed not to take the dogs with us.  I plead my case as follows:
  • there is no advantage to going to VA after work/dinner on Sat since we would arrive just in time to go to bed, therefore we should just go there and come back the same day
  • there is no reason to take the dogs with us because they would not be "with us" at Spouse's brother's house because our dog Marvin does not get along with his dog Pepper, therefore our dogs would be sleeping in their crates at Spouse's mom's house while we spend the day at at his brother's house
  • not bringing the dogs frees us up from needing to take them outside for multiple bathroom breaks and eliminates the stress we feel that Walter may pee in Spouse's mom's house.  (He's still a puppy and is still working on house training.)
  • since both dogs are used to sleeping in their crates while we are at work, they will be fine until 5pm when our neighbor comes over to let them out to relieve themselves, take them for a walk, feed them, and play with them
So I'm looking forward to a little break from our boys while we zip over to VA, spend the day with our family, and zip back home.  We're both going off our diets on Easter so we can enjoy a yummy Easter dinner and chocolate bunnies!