Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve Toasts

"May you never lie, cheat, or drink.
But if you must lie, lie in each other's arms.
If you must cheat, cheat death.
And if you must drink, drink with all of us
because we love you."

"Love to one, friendship to many, and good will to all."

Happy 2007, everyone!

May the New Year always be better than the old.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Me me me ...

I've read this meme on a few blogs, and while I'm thinking about a serious post I want to write, I'm using this as filler ...

1. The phone rings. Who do you want it to be? Scott, or a family member, or Judi.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart? Absolutely.

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener? Generally more of a listener - you learn more by listening than by talking. Depending on who I'm with, though, I don't mind talking ...

4. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive? Hmmmm. It depends on what I had with me. I love camping, and I'm pretty good at not getting lost, but I'm a city boy.

5. Do you like to ride horses? I remember riding a horse once. I was about 5 years old, they were all tethered to a little wheel-thing and we slowly went around in a circle. Does that count?

I have ridden a camel, though. I didn't like it. I don't think the camel did either.

6. Did you ever go to camp as a kid? Yep. I was a Cub Scout and then a Boy Scout for a couple of years. We used to go to summer camp in Wisconsin for a week. I also went to a Drum Major camp in high school (yep, I was the drum major of my high-school marching band ... )

7. What was your favorite board game as a kid? We played Risk a lot, but I always lost so I didn't really like it. I loved Clue, though.

8. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew he/she was taken what would you do? Not applicable since I'm taken. If I were single, I would lose all respect for them.

9. Are you judgemental? I try not to be, but we all are to an extent.

10. Would you date someone with different religious beliefs? Luckily Scott and I have the same beliefs! I guess it always depends on how the other person accepts your beliefs and how you share them.

11. Are you continuing your education? Constantly, although just in life. I'd love to go back to school or at least take some classes.

12. Do you know how to shoot a gun? I used to, from Boy Scout camp. There's some irony there, I'm sure. But I guess I don't anymore.

13. If your house was on fire, what's the first thing you'd grab? Well, Scott would get out with me, and probably the dogs would be out of the house ahead of us. I know we'd try to save the other animals. But I can't think of any material thing that couldn't be replaced.

14. How often do you read books? I usually read every night when I get into bed. I used to read more when I took the bus to work.

15. Do you think more about the past, present or future? Good question. I'm pretty nostalgic, so I do think about the past, but I don't dwell on it. The present is usually stressful. I guess I think more about the future, since there's always hope involved.

16. What is your favorite children's book? "Oh The Places You'll Go" (Dr. Seuss).

17. How tall are you? 6'2".

18. Where is your ideal house located? I'd have to have more than one. San Francisco, Hawaii, San Diego, Arizona, Chicago, New York and Paris. There's something about each of those places that I'd like to live in. (We said ideal, so there.)

19. Last person you talked to? Scott, when he called me from work this morning.

20. When was the last time you were at Olive Garden? Good Lord ... it was before I moved to Seattle. Probably in college, so that would be about 1989.

21. What are the keys on your keychain for? My car and my house.

22. What did you do last night? Made dinner, watched part of a movie, read a little, went to sleep. Evenings are pretty low-key in our house.

23. Where is your current pain at? My neck, right shoulder, and lower back. The dogs have kept both of us from sleeping well lately.

24. Do you like mustard? Oh my God yes. I love mustard or a mustard-based sauce on almost any type of food. Especially a good grainy Dijon-type. Scott doesn't, though.

25. Do you like your Mom and Dad? They've both passed away. I still love them and like who they were (even if I didn't always like everything about them when they were alive ... )

26. How long does it take you in the shower? Probably about 10 minutes.

27. What movie do you want to see right now? A Mighty Wind. I love that movie for so many reasons.

28. Do you put lotion on your dog or cats? Lotion?!? I don't think they'd let me do that ...

29. What will you do for New Year's? Make a nice dinner, watch a good movie, play some games, and try to stay awake while watching some New Year's Eve show on TV.

30. Do you think The Grudge was scary? YES! I love good scary movies when they're done right. If it relies on blood and gore and violence - absolutely not.

31. Do you own a camera phone? No. Who's idea was that, anyway??

32. What's the first letter of your middle name? J.

33. Who did you vote for on American Idol? I never watched it, except some of the auditions. I'm not a reality TV fan. (Okay, I'm not much of a TV fan, period).

34. How many hours of sleep do you get at night? Usually around 9, since I'm not working right now. I always try for 8.

35. Do you like Care Bears? No. I can't stand cutesy stuff like that.

36. Do you know how to play poker? Vaguely. I always have to be reminded if I do play ... I'm not a big card player.

37. Do you wear your seat belt? Always. And you do too if you're in my car.

38. What do you sleep in? Nada.

39. Anything big ever happen in your hometown? Hmmm ... well, there was the Brown's Chicken Massacre in 1993.

40. Is your tongue pierced? Are you kidding??? No. I don't like piercings, on me or on others.

41. Who is the funniest person you know? Definitely Scott. And Hal.

42. Do you like funny or serious people better? Funny - as long as that's not all there is to them.

43. Did you eat a cookie today? No. We do have a lot of Christmas cookies around, both that I made and that people gave to Scott at work. So, I'm sure I will later.

44. Do you use cuss words in other languages? No. I know some, but English cuss words work just great, thanks.

45. Do you steal or pay for your music downloads? Pay.

46. When was the last time you said "I love you" and meant it? This morning when Scott was leaving for work. Why would you say it if you don't mean it?

47. Is your cell phone usually on Vibrate or ring? Ring, but I don't take it anywhere that it would annoy anyone.

48. Do you need a boyfriend/girlfriend? Got one, but thanks anyway.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Santa Baby, slip a sable under the tree ...

Scott and I agreed that Christmas is way too commercial ... that rushing around trying to find not only the perfect gifts, but a way to PAY for them, is much too stressful. We wanted to keep a limit on gift-giving, and just spend some time with friends ... drive around and look at Christmas lights ... go downtown and enjoy the whole feeling of the season ...

Well, it KINDA worked.

Scott, working in retail as he does, has been working horrendous hours. Six days a week, 12+ hour days, getting home in time to collapse and eat dinner and go to bed and start all over again seven hours later. But he, as usual, loves loves loves to give gifts. Silly ones, fun ones, and he always surprises me by giving me at least one gift that makes me tear up a bit because I didn't expect it but it's exactly what I'd like to have or somehow means something to me that I don't expect him to realize. Not that he doesn't know what I like, or pay attention to things I admire - but in some way he always surprises me, and that's what he loves. Someday I'll write about the book he gave me one Christmas ... but that's probably a post in itself.

Anyway, in the spirit of the days after Christmas, here are some of the gifts I got from Scott and others, everyone of which I love:

A very cool candleholder and candles from Scott's Mom and brother, to both of us. We love candles (duh - we're gay) and didn't expect or want them to give us anything, but we love it. Right now all of our Christmas decorations are on top of the entertainment center (out of puppy reach), but this will be going up there when we take the decorations down.

Hickory Farms cheese and sausage and mustard box ... mmmm!! My oldest brother and his girlfriend sent this to me. Scott's not big on it, but this reminds me of Christmas and New Year's when I was little. Perfect. I remember the Hickory Farms kiosks in the malls when I was growing up ... true holiday comfort appetizers. I'll probably eat most of it myself on New Year's Eve (healthy, eh?)

DVD versions of 1970's gameshows!!! How fun is that?? Scott and I love having "game night" with friends, although we haven't done one in ages ... this is motivation to have one again, soon! If only there was a "Match Game" so we could fight over who gets to be Brett Sommers ...

Have I mentioned that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the movie "A Christmas Story"? For the most part I love the nostalgia, the perfect idealized depiction of the 1940's when my parents were growing up (I so love that era ... must be why I love Restoration Hardware so much). Scott got me a set of these lights a few years ago, and they've been hanging in the kitchen year-round since then. They went tits-up this year, just before Christmas - so Scott found some on EBay and they arrived yesterday - along with this:

The Leg Lamp Nightlight. We collect seasonal nightlights that we put in the kitchen throughout the year ... I think I'm going to put up a fight before taking this one down.

(BTW - if you haven't seen "A Christmas Story" and don't understand the significance of the Leg Lamp, just let me know - I'm happy to share the joy!).

This was my big surprise gift this year (and the one that I KNOW pushed Scott over the "spending limit"!). I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, especially in the evenings after Scott gets home and I'm getting dinner ready. I've had a small iPod player with speakers sitting on top of the microwave for a while, but it's not the ideal place for it and I have to move it every time I want to open the cabinet above. So he got me one that mounts under the top cabinets, which also plays radio and TV stations. The iPod sucks up into the player so it's out of the way. How cool is this?!? I was a little peeved that he spent the money, but he knew I liked it after seeing it in his store a while ago, and I'll use it every day. It even has a remote with a magnet that I can hang on the refrigerator!

So there ya have it. Santa Scott was very very good to me. I'm still going to push for less spending and more "quality time" for ourselves and giving to others, but it's been more difficult than I imagined with Scott working in retail ... so I think a New Year's resolution is in order to do that year-round. I don't generally believe in resolutions, but what better way to make yourself a better person and help others than to pledge to make it a normal, everyday thing to do than just at the holidays? I feel I've let myself down by not following through well enough during the holidays with the challenge that I gave to others, but I've got big plans for 2007 and beyond, so I'm not going to stress myself about that. This year is going to be good, not every single moment of it, but in the Big Picture. I pledge that this is what Will Be. I hope the same for all of you!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Best wishes to all of you for the holiday and a happy, healthy New Year. Even if we don't all celebrate Christmas, we can express and accept the sentiment, which is of peace and love and care and hope for each other. So there is my wish for every single one of us - yes, every single one - throughout the world.
Thanks to Lewis for providing me with the appropriate translations:

Paz (Spanish)
Shantih (Hindi)
Shalom (Hebrew)
Mir (Russian)
Paix (French)
Vrede (Dutch)
Frieden (German)
Heiwa (Japanese)
Pace (Italian)
Irini (Greek)
Paz (Portuguese)
Su Thai Binh (Vietnamese)
Hetep (Egyptian)
Hau (Tahitian)
Fred (Swedish and Norwegian)
Sidi (Tibetan)
Salaam (Arabic)

Peace (For Everyone)

Christmas in Perspective

Every Sunday, I read Post Secret. If you've never seen this site, it is a place where people send in postcards with their deepest secrets, which are displayed (anonymously) on their site. It's amazing, soul-baring, tragic and sometimes funny ... but a true view of humanity and the fact that people all over the place have feelings that we, too, may feel. I gain a new perspective on my life when I read these secrets.

Both of my parents passed away during the fall (my Mom in 1982 and my Dad in 2005), so the holidays are always kind of bittersweet. I wrote in my Thanksgiving post about my family, and how I feel I've lost a link to my past now that both of my parents have passed away. I've become closer to my cousins on my Mom's side, which is a blessing.

My cousin Jo e-mailed me the other night ... my aunt and uncle travelled from Florida up to Chicago for Christmas, and my uncle became ill and was taken to the emergency room. They thought he may have suffered a stroke, or a heart attack ... he had suddenly become disoriented and unsteady. Thankfully, it turns out he has a urinary tract infection (which can cause confusion) and is being treated with antibiotics, and he should be out of the hospital today in time to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his family.

Things like this are always scary, especially when your family is getting older. But it brought us all together a bit; I talked to both of my brothers, my cousin Jo, and my uncle, and at least one brother called my uncle as well. These phone conversations between us all are rare at best. In an odd way, this was a gift to us all so close to Christmas. I got the chance to tell my family members that I love them, and bond with them all in some small way. I'm taking that thought and feeling and hope for more with me into the New Year.

So this morning, like every Sunday, I looked at Post Secret and read the new postcards. Here is the postcard that prompted me to write this post ... I suddenly don't want any gifts this year that can be wrapped and put under the tree.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Lesbians

I'm a faithful reader of Joe.My.God ... here is a link to one of my favorite stories he has ever written, which he re-posted for Christmas.

Thanks, Joe.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Christmas Story

I absolutely love "The Talent Family" - as Amy and David Sedaris have called themselves. I have a few of David's books, which are wry and funny and sometimes tragic in a non-sentimental way.

Around Christmas, there are two books that are always on my nightstand: an old collection of Christmas stories that was owned by my great aunt, and David Sedaris' "Holidays On Ice". Included in his book is "Santaland Diaries", a story about his time working as an elf at Macy's in New York during the holidays. It's not exactly your traditional feel-good Christmas story ... but it's honest, and imparts many emotions and realities of the holiday season.

A recording of Sedaris' reading a shortened version of "Santaland Diaries" is played every year on NPR (RealAudio, about 7 minutes). It's a tradition for me and Scott now.

Not Goode ... not Goode at all ...

Lately there just seems to be more and more in the news that just boggle my mind. The ignorance and bigotry and self-serving in this country really sometimes just astounds me.

The one lately that is so jaw-droppingly hateful is the story of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), an African-American Muslim elected last month. Since he is a Muslim, he wants to take his oath of office on the Koran instead of the Bible. This immediately put conservatives in an uproar - it's an affront to American culture, will damage society's fabric and "traditional values" (one of the most narrow-minded phrases in existence), and he should not be able to choose what book he pledges on - only "America" can do that.

After thinking about that, can you get your mouth closed yet? I'll wait ... I know how long it took me ...

First off - no elected official is required to take their oath of office on any book whatsoever. They take their legal oath of office as a group in Congress, with their right hand raised, pledging to uphold the Constitution of the United States, but no other object is required. Pledging one's oath on the Bible is done in a private ceremony (in most cases) which has no legal bearing. Think of getting married at City Hall, and then later having a big lavish church wedding. It's already a done deal, all legal and binding - the second ceremony is just for show, and isn't required at all.

Secondly - I strongly believe that "separation of church and state" should be taken quite literally. There are those who argue that the Bible is the basis for all of our moral and ethical "traditions", but I don't believe that. I do believe that many of the Bible's teachings do reflect good moral basis, but they were written by man to reflect and enforce the common beliefs of right and wrong - not because they are necessarily the transcribed words of God. I believe in the Ten Commandments (well, most of them), but because they are good and right, not because God will send me to Hell if I disobey them. There are those who were raised as non-Christians, even in atheistic families, who still have a solid moral compass, and I believe this comes from men and women and society, not directly from any type of god or goddess. I firmly believe that we are all a part of god (whomever he/she/it is) and that our morals and ethics and love come from within and from what we learn from others - whether it came from a religious entity or not. Whatever the religious beliefs of our founding fathers were, the Constitution was quite deliberately written to include all views, faiths, beliefs, and non-beliefs and still protect and respect all others. To require that any elected official who chooses to partake in a private ceremony, where they solemnize their oath on something that they believe "holy", use only the Bible is not only unconstitutional but asinine - qualities that I don't believe were intended to be "traditional values".

Then came Rep. Virgil Goode's (R-VA) letter to some of his constituents. This unbelievably ignorant man actually had the audacity to say that "if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran". Okay ... this is wrong on all levels. Ellison is not an immigrant; his family has been in the United States for over 200 years. The arrogance of stating that we must adopt the "Virgil Goode position on immigration" (umm, he's pretty much against it) is appalling. And you know what? So what if more Muslims emigrate to the United States? So what if more Muslims are elected to office? So what if they, or anyone else, decide to pledge their oath on a book other than the Bible? They are elected to uphold the Constitution, NOT to uphold a religion (see previous paragraph).

But Goode's idiocy doesn't stop there. He thinks that we need to curtail Middle Eastern immigration to the United States, and although he catches himself before saying it, I'm sure his true answer to the question "Do you think there are too many Middle Easterners in the United States right now?" is a resounding "yes". He seems to equate "Muslim" with "Extreme Jihadist Terrorist". Wouldn't he like to know what I equate him with.

Does anyone remember "The Great American Melting Pot" from Schoolhouse Rock? I grew up listening to that and believing this was America. People from all backgrounds, races, religions, skin colors, cultures, societies - this was what made our country what it is. Our "culture" is made up of many, many other cultures that have melded together. We accept each other, learn from each other, take part of each other into our own homes. Who here would like to eat food that came solely from their ancestors' cultures? Not me - blech.

So to say that only the Bible, only whites, only males, only heterosexuals, only anything is "American" and should remain that way ... well, no. That is a narrow-minded, bigoted, horrendous lie. It embarrasses me not only that people in this country honestly believe this kind of lie, but that people in other countries think of this view as American.

I received an e-mail last night from my dear cousin Jo, who I don't think will mind my sharing with you. This part dealt specifically with homosexuality, but you can replace that idea with any other form of prejudice and it still rings true:

"You know, in reading your blog and in reading some of the blogs you subscribe to, you are teaching me so much about your life and what it must be like to try to live a full life like all of the heterosexuals. Things I never would have thought of, like whether to come out or try to live as a heterosexual (as mentioned on someone else's blog), or in wanting children, or in some of the everyday things that I might take for granted. Your blog about Cheney's daughter and her partner and the baby and the responsibility the well-known gay community has in how they are publicly perceived affecting every other gay person in really boggles the mind sometimes. Your post about you and Scott wanting children, and especially Scott, just made me feel so sad for the two of you. I have to admit that I am thinking more about gay rights than I ever even bothered to consider before. I wish every straight person could see gays as you let me see them through your blog, even the blogs of the others. I mean, honestly, we are all human beings. You are not some alien creatures dropped into this world for any devious purpose."


Edit: This is a fantastic article about all of this - much clearer than mine:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Deck the Block

We finally got a chance to take a few pictures of Christmas lights around the neighborhood - yeah, I love Christmas lights. When I was a kid, we'd pile in the car at least once each December and drive all over the place just to see the lights. I miss doing that, but a walk around the block will have to do for now.

I wish I took better night pictures so you could see the houses, too.

This is a really cool Victorian house with a turret and big dormer. I like the big colored lights - reminds me of the lights we used when I was little:

This is another beautiful old house; a lot of people have fences in their front yards here (I don't remember that back in the Midwest), but I like how they've decorated it:

This house is right next door to the last one - lots going on here! But I like it:

Another cool old house on the corner ... I like the blue with the white lights:

Another house with those big old-fashioned lights:

Icicle lights are still all the rage here, but I like them when they're done tastefully:

Our next-door neighbor's house - there are tree branches in the way and this picture doesn't do it justice, but it's very traditional and classy:

And one last picture of our house:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

This is, in my opinion, the definitive version of one of my favorite Christmas songs. You need to see the movie (Meet Me In St. Louis) to understand why it's so bittersweet ... but I think it's beautiful and touching.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Follow Up to James Dobson post

Thank you to Truth Wins Out for this YouTube video of an interview with Carol Gilligan, whom Dobson cited in his TIME magazine artice.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

People's Choice

I asked a couple of days ago what I should write about, since there were a few news items lately that scratched at me. James Dobson won 2-1, so James Dobson it is. (I'll still address any other choices that anyone likes ... )

Background: James Dobson is the founder of Focus On the Family, an evangelical organization that works to promote a very conservative view of family values.

You may have heard of a pro-gay, pro-tolerance campaign in Colorado (where Focus On the Family is based) about Norman, a dog who moos - because, well, that's just who he is. (By the way, I think this is one of the greatest campaigns I have ever seen ... very matter-of-fact, very honest and open ... if you visit that site - and I hope you do - please watch the "What People Think" video at the end of the main page. Please). I wish more and more and more people were asked this question and actually thought before answering. But I'll leave any more comments about that to your opinion ...

Focus On the Family launched a counter-campaign called No-Moo-Lies. It basically says that the idea that GLBT people are born that way is wrong and misguided and, well, "anti-family". How is it, by the way, that straight, conservative folks know so much about "being" gay? None of them have ever asked me anything. I'm sure they must be interviewing tons of others though, because we all know you cannot make conclusive statements based solely on your own biases ... right?

I don't think I could do justice to either of these viewpoints in a short (ha! THAT was funny!!!) blogpost, so if you need to follow the links to catch up, no worries ... we'll wait.

Okay - ready?

Now, James Dobson and Focus On the Family and any other person in the world is, absolutely, entitled to their opinions. Everyone should be. And they should be shared. Left, right, up, down, conservative, liberal, anything in-between in any way shape or form ... of course we should hear differing opinions. And discuss them. Read my post a few days ago about how I invite viewpoints that differ from mine. That's how we learn, grow, advance, evolve ... by learning from others, considering others, appreciating others, and incorporating everyone else's views into ours. It may not change our fundamental viewpoints, but it may, and either way, if we listen to each other and at the very least, agree to disagree, we can move forward. If we - on either side - attack each other, scream at each other, build our walls between each side, we end up - well, where we're all at right now. Not just on this issue, but on all issues. We as a society, as a culture, as a world of cultures, are so incredibly good at screaming our opinions with words and actions, with signs and guns and bombs with our fingers in our ears going "LalalalalalaIcan'thearyoubecauseyou'rewrong" ... instead of accepting the luxury of letting our selves and souls grow and get closer to their greatest ideal and be the most that we can by learning everything we can from each other. To do less is ignorant and self-defeating.

Of course, though, my post also said that I only respect other peoples' opinions when they are offered rationally and intelligently - not with blinders on - blinders which, on the conservative side, tend to come with bibles dangling from them.

Whew - and that was the preface!

Mr. Dobson recently had a guest column published in TIME magazine. In it, he speaks about Mary Cheney's pregnancy, and about how children need a mother and a father - that two of either a mother or a father is, well, wrong. Harmful. Selfish. That two people of the same sex, or a single parent, basically do not deserve to have children. That the tradition of a mommy-and-daddy-and-two-point-five-children (actually, I think the number acceptable to the Christian Right - which I do not think is either Christian or Right - is less than that now) "is still the foundation on which the well-being of future generations depends".


Mr. Dobson cites Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale University in his article (thank you to for the following original links and responses): "Pruett says dads are critically important simply because 'fathers do not mother' ". Dobson's point is that "a father, as a male parent, makes unique contributions to the task of parenting that a mother cannot emulate, and vice versa". So, apparently, a child of two mothers will have no male influences in their life, and ... what? Will become a MTF transgender? Will only be able to raise female children? Will be only the role model that Dina Martina would be? (Mr. Dobson's article does not go into specifics regarding his opinions of the actual outcome of such a travesty - only that it would ruin society, apparently).

Now - Dr. Pruett's response to this column:

13 December 2006

Dr. Dobson,

I was startled and disappointed to see my work referenced in the current Time Magazine piece in which you opined that social science, such as mine, supports your convictions opposing lesbian and gay parenthood. I write now to insist that you not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate, without previously securing my permission.

You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly (in my view) discriminatory purposes. This practice is condemned in real science, common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions. On page 134 of the book you cite in your piece, I wrote, “What we do know is that there is no reason for concern about the development or psychological competence of children living with gay fathers. It is love that binds relationships, not sex.”

Kyle Pruett, M.D.
Yale School of Medicine

Ahem. Interesting, no?

Mr. Dobson also cited Dr. Carol Gilligan of New York University: "Mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences". His point being that, again, a child needs both a male and female parent to grow and develop correctly, to have a balanced personality. Two men (or two women) would not be able to impart any of the other sex's ideals that they apparently inherently stress. Again ... his own opinion, not truly substantiated in his column.

Dr. Gilligan's response to this column:

Dear Dr. Dobson:

I am writing to ask that you cease and desist from quoting my research in the future. I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine. Not only did you take my research out of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals that I do not agree with. What you wrote was not truthful and I ask that you refrain from ever quoting me again and that you apologize for twisting my work.

From what I understand, this is not the first time you have manipulated research in pursuit of your goals. This practice is not in the best interest of scientific inquiry, nor does bearing false witness serve your purpose of furthering morality and strengthening the family.

Finally, there is nothing in my research that would lead you to draw the stated conclusions you did in the Time article. My work in no way suggests same-gender families are harmful to children or can't raise these children to be as healthy and well adjusted as those brought up in traditional households.

I trust that this will be the last time my work is cited by Focus on the Family.

Carol Gilligan, PhD
New York University, Professor


Hmmm. See a pattern here?

Mr. Dobson is citing sources without regard to the actual message and intent of these sources. I don't think he was expecting anyone to actually read past his own words, and he expected that his column would be accepted and unquestioned - that it must be true because he is citing such reputable sources. Quite interesting that both reputable sources requested that he no longer cite them. Where are the valid sources to back up his claims?? If they exist, are they so unreliable and, well, impossible to find that Mr. Dobson would not bother to cite them in an article in TIME magazine?!?

Are that many people in this country really and truly just mindless sheep? Are that many people honestly unable to think about more than one side of something before making their opinion??

Are you, dear reader, unable to form an opinion that someone did not force-feed to you?

We're not talking the National Enquirer here, kids. TIME magazine has been around for years, is one of the popular weekly news and opinion magazines, carries some generally arguable weight. And - referring back to the beginning of my post - everyone should have the outlet to offer their opinion.

But for such a well-known publication to let an unchecked, bigoted, misleading column to carry their name, with pretty quickly-refuted citations? That is just plain unethical. Look what happened to Jayson Blair of the New York Times. I don't see this as any different. I'm sure that legally this isn't the same, but ethically it is. It is misrepresenting and misusing your "sources" to support an, apparently, otherwise unsupportable opinion. If you really want us to buy into this crap, Mr. Dobson, you need to do a hell of a lot better work.

Yes, very interesting indeed.

Every item I have read which spews venom against gay marriage, gay parenting, anti-gay-anything seems to pan out this way. Citing irreputable sources, or misrepresenting sources, or taking everything out of context, or lashing out without taking the opposite viewpoint into consideration (look back to the "What People Think" video earlier in this post, where pro-tolerant people asked for straight peoples' opinions - show me where Focus On the Family has done anything in a similar way). If anyone has good, solid, concrete and refutable sources that prove me wrong here, BY ALL MEANS send it on. What are the negative effects of having same-sex parents (other than those evils heaped opon them by the intolerant and hateful anti-gay-raised spawn)? How many children of same-sex parents become gay? How is society spiralling downward due to same-sex parents living and loving together, and showing a loving and committed relationship to their children?

I truly and without question agree that this post is not well-written ... but it is what it is, it's out there, and it begs comments and opinions to go forward. And of course, as I've said, the whole purpose of reading anyone else's opinions is to grow and evolve your own opinions. So ... in he-who-shall-not-be-named's words, "Bring it on!" I love a discussion even more than a parade.

P.S. If you are so inclined, you can e-mail a Letter to the Editor at:

More pictures!

Yes, a couple more pictures while I'm working on a "real" post ...

Hunter, the cat with thumbs (really ... look at his right front paw ... ):

Our winter wreath in the front hallway (we have one for each season):

The tree in daylight (a little easier to see):

The house with our last (?) addition ... the tree on the left:

I will work on a "real" post today ... really. No, really.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cut off from the world ...

I've been cut off from the world for a day ... so I'll write about the topics in my previous post soon.

Wow ... the Pacific Northwest's weather is in all the news this fall. How weird ... it's usually so bland ...

We've had some windstorms lately, but Thursday evening/night was incredible. I don't know exactly how high the winds were, but a railing on our balcony blew halfway off, roof shingles went flying (not ours, I don't think), and all the leaves that were in the street where I usually park are now gone. I don't care where they went - probably Idaho by now.

And - our power went out.

Not such a big deal, normally ... the power goes out, for a few minutes or a few hours, then it comes back on. Inconvenient, yes. Part of the thrill of a storm coming through? Yeah, for a bit.

Ours went out sometime in the very early morning; I woke up around 2:30 and it was eerily dark everywhere. No streetlights, no sounds, no light at all as far as I could see in some directions. I went back to sleep, figuring the power would be back on by daylight.

Nope. Something like 700,000 people were without power in the Seattle area - more than a million throughout Washington and Oregon. We got out the flashlights and the battery-powered camping lanterns, turned on the radio, and Scott got ready and left for work. And I waited for the power to come back on. And waited.

Jeez, I thought, how f-ing annoying. No computer, no television or DVD player, I can't even make something for lunch. I stayed upstairs where it was a little warmer - in the office mostly. Tap tap tap ... drumming my fingers on the desk, listening to the fourth replay of some interview or other on NPR. Grrrrr.

And it kept getting colder. No heat. It only got up into the low 40's today, and the forecast says down to the 20's tonight, maybe some snow. Hmmm. That's not good. I check the thermostat - it's down to 54 degrees inside. I put on a couple t-shirts, a sweatshirt, extra socks.

Slowly, I hear the news reports say, power is coming back on in sections of the city. Now 170,000 without power ... now 137,000 ... now 110,000 ... still no power here.

Then it's getting dark. Still no power. How will we eat? I take a flashlight down to the basement, haul up the propane camp stove and think of what I can cook outside on the deck in the wind. I light every candle I can find, for light and for warmth. This isn't fun anymore. It's not just annoying. I'm cold, and hungry, and getting a little worried.

How do people do this? How do all the people that I read about every year survive having their gas and electricity shut off when they can't pay the bills? How many people was it that died last year in Chicago from the cold? And this year? All over the country? How do they live like this day after night after day? I've seen houses in my neighborhood with broken windows, sheets and towels hanging over them to keep out the cold. I know some of them probably don't have power, at least some of the time. I know that there are kids who wear their big puffy parkas inside because they have to. I'm thinking of putting on my gloves and I think, do they have gloves?

Our power came back on around 6:30 or so tonight. *Whew*. I turned the furnace on right away, turned on some lights, turned on the Christmas tree, turned on the oven to start dinner and take the chill out of the kitchen. On went the iPod player. Thank god that's over.

And I felt guilty. I was inconvenienced for about 18 hours. I was bored and cold and hungry and a little apprehensive for 18 hours. For 18 hours I felt what millions of people all over the world feel every second of their life.

It was a good reminder to me ... even though I knew we'd be okay, for just a short time I felt pretty helpless. We (I, definitely) take so many things for granted. Lights, heat, e-mail and internet access, a working refrigerator and oven are just some. I've had the opportunity to consider what many people don't have, and how easy it really can be to help. Do something to help those in need. Remember that there are many that are less fortunate than you. Don't think that you can't someday be in their shoes, even if for a short time. The world is pretty scary when it's cold and dark and you're hungry and you don't see it ending. And we should all have to know how that feels, sometimes.

Edit: The winds were 69 mph in Seattle ... 90 mph on the coast ... 113 mph on Mount Rainier. Oy ...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What to choose ...

Anyone who has read through all of my posts know that I don't generally shy away from voicing my opinion - although I try to do it in a rational way, not just going head-over-heels emotional about it. Doing that, without a doubt, would be the best way to alienate people of different opinions. I want people to consider my opinions, to think about them, to try and understand why I think that way. And although I, like everyone else, have very strong convictions that may or may not be able to be swayed, I welcome any and all dissenting points of view - as long as they are presented truthfully and rationally. If anyone attacks me with their opinion, I can go quite Julia Sugarbaker on them (Scott has taught me well). That hasn't happened on this blog ... yet. My "audience" comes from the same ilk as me, it seems. But I still learn from y'all.

There have been a few things in the news the past few days that made me consider blogging about them, because they have made me think in one way or another. But I haven't, yet. I guess I feel a little unfocused lately, and no one thing has really stood out beyond the others.

So I ask you, dear readers, to vote on what I should next write about:

  1. A New Jersey pastor spewing anti-gay-marriage venom in his invocation of the New Jersey senate session
  2. TIME magazine's publishing of James Dobson's lies-as-facts guest column regarding gay parents
  3. Pittsburgh Steeler's linebacker Joey Porter's "apology" for his anti-gay slurs at another player
  4. South Dakota Senator Tom Johnson's illness and possible political impact
  5. George W. Bush's approval rating being controlled by the media

Vote if you're interested. Beware, if nobody has an opinion, I'll write about them all. So there.

And if you have other topics I can lash out about, let me know. I'm here to serve.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Time Is Here ...

The tree is up, the decorations and lights done yesterday (Scott had a day off - yay!). So a few pictures are required of me ...

The Tree:

The house from across the street:
The front porch (the lights slowly twinkle):

A neighbor's house (blurry, but we were walking the dogs at the time) with Big Balls (yes, they're gay - I covet these porch decorations):

One Kali Leaping:

One Matt a-pleading (really, I was playing with the doggies):

Scott and I took other pictures around the neighborhood last night while taking the dogs for a walk - but trying to take night pictures with a puppy attached to you makes for some not-so-usable pics. So I'll try again later. Tonight it's too rainy and windy.

I love it when people decorate their homes for the holidays, no matter how simply (like us). It just makes a walk or drive much more fun. I'd love to see some pictures of what your home looks like for the holidays (Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, whatever you celebrate ... ).

Enjoy ...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Deck the ... WHAT THE HELL?!?!?

I spent the entire day cleaning the house and am too tired to get the Christmas decorations out from the basement (they're behind the Halloween decorations ... 'nuf said). That'll have to wait 'til tomorrow. And hopefully, we'll get our tree soon. I'll try to get some pictures of our decorations and others in the neighborhood - but for now ...

Enjoy, y'all.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

We're having a baby ...

(Disclaimer: No, Scott and I are not having a baby ... )

So ... Vice President Dick Cheney's out lesbian daughter is pregnant (from an unknown source) and will be having a baby with Heather Poe, her lesbian partner of 15 years.

Let that sink in a little. A little more, now. Are we ready to think a little more?

She and her partner live in Virginia. A state that has passed some of the most vehement anti-gay laws ever, especially (and most recently) against gay marriage.

In the state that they live in, Mary and her partner will have no legal rights as a couple. Even by jumping through the legal hoops and setting up wills, Durable Power of Attorney contracts for financial management (witnessed by at least two people and notarized), Delegation of Authority contracts (also notarized), and Durable Power of Attorney Contracts for Health Care (also witnessed by at least two people and notarized), which is the least that Scott and I have to go through in the State of Washington (at our own expense) to cover our asses as life partners, Mary and her partner will still possibly have no legal access to each other or even joint finances in the event of one's medical emergency or death. Mary's partner will have absolutely no legal access to "their" child. She cannot legally adopt it. If Mary passes on, her partner will most likely have to give the child up to the state for adoption. As the law sees it (and I am certainly no expert, but if I am incorrect please tell me where I should get more information), Mary is basically a single mother with a baby being born out of wedlock and no one else (except perhaps Dick and Lynne?) has claim to anything that Mary has earned, loved, or given birth to. No one. Not even with legal documents that she may have to pay for (with her own hard-earned money, of course) to show that she, in a sound state of mind and body, shared with her partner of fifteen years the desire to love each other, take care of each other, hope upon oh-please-dear-god-let-us-be-blessed-with-a-wanted-child hope that they could raise a family because it's what they want and believe in and have a heartbreakingly acute desire to bring an actual beloved child into the world instead of oops-I'm-pregnant-oh-well-there's-always-welfare-here's-another-potentially-abused-welfare-kid-for-the-country-to-take-care-of-but-not-me ...

Let's let that sink in a little, shall we?

I know that not every unplanned child becomes an abused welfare statistic. I know that many children born out of wedlock are still wanted and loved and very well cared for. I know that many people in the situation of an unplanned pregnancy, where they cannot give the child a fair start in life (and one doesn't have to be raised in a wealthy home), make the extremely brave and unselfish and supremely loving decision to give their child up for adoption.

I also know that in the neighborhood where I live, there are a lot of single unwed teenaged mothers who do not have the means, either emotionally or financially or in any way, to raise a child ... well, I've seen my share of innocent children getting yelled at, slapped or worse because the parents are not ready or even willing to be parents, whether married or even together in any way or not, enough to know in the deepest part of my heart that if someone truly wants a child, to love and raise and guide and nurture and have what is best for them to the best of their abilities with no sacrifice too great, should not be denied the ability and the right to do what is, well, the right thing to do. To love and cherish and help and guide a child into becoming an educated, thoughtful, sympathetic, well-rounded adult member of our society.

So yes, I think that Mary and Heather should have this child. They should love it and help it and should have absolutely no encumberance to its' growth and life that any straight couple would not have to endure.

But will that be the case? Will they have to move to another state to have this available to them? Should they have to? Will the path somehow be paved more evenly for them due to Mary's political "clout"? And if it is ... what of everyone else who struggles against the bigotry that has been voted for by the people in whatever state they reside? Should Mary's choice to have a child be made any easier, or should she and Heather have to deal with what every other gay child-loving couple in the country has to put up with?

What will be the reaction from her parents, from the White House, from the country?

Will this make a difference, or be swept oh-so-conveniently under the rug?

And I am purposefully not commenting at all on my individual feelings about Mary Cheney. That's not the issue here.

I would love to have children. Scott would love to, more than I would. I'm worried that we're too old, that I don't have the patience, that it would be too hard and unfair and we can't afford to do it right and that maybe the rest of the country and the world is right. It's exhausting, mentally and physically and emotionally, and I wish more people in the world would go through similar anguish before bringing another child into this world. But if a couple, or a single person, goes through that anguish and still wants to have a child for the right reasons ... I want them to be able to have full support to do so.

So bless you and good luck, Mary and Heather. I hope upon neverending hope that this makes a difference - not just in your lives, but in everyone's lives. Whether you wanted it or not, you have thrust your lives and your upcoming parenthood into a spotlight. Don't let any of us down.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Air it out ... "

I've only watched MadTV via YouTube ... but it has some of the most hysterical skits I have ever seen in my life; anything with Ms. Swan has me almost literally rolling on the floor, and Debra Wilson (who plays Oprah Winfrey in this skit) is absolutely brilliant. I have a feeling I'll be posting some more MadTV videos soon ...

I had seen this one a while ago, but found it again and cannot stop laughing. This is a take-off on "The Vagina Monologues", being read by former First Ladies. My female readers may laugh even harder than I did (and I certainly hope y'all see the humor in it and nobody is offended - you know that is never my intention).

I can't decide what my favorite line is in this skit - they're all too perfect. Maybe I should start a poll.

Enjoy, y'all.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bob the Crab

Okay kids, time for a silly post ...

Scott and I have gone out to Kalaloch on the Washington coast a couple times this year. We've rented cabins and taken the dogs and gone for walks on the beach and watched the pups run and gallop and get tuckered out. The last time we went in September, we stayed in the same cabin that Laura Bush had occupied sometime last year (that would explain the Xanax pez dispenser we found under the bed). Ooooohhh ... I've used the same shower as the First Lady.


Anyway ... one afternoon Scott went for a walk/exploration down on the beach, and I stayed behind with the dogs and a fire in the fireplace. Scott took about 700 pictures, and a couple videos. This is one of him and his new friend, Bob.

Scott's a little on the silly side. I love this video - you don't see Scott, but you hear some of his silly voices and his silliness in general. How can anyone not love this guy? (Oh, and Bob was cute, too).

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006

As you hopefully know, today is World AIDS Day. Whether you are straight or LGBT, whether you are male or female, whether AIDS has personally affected you or not, you must recognize the horrible tragedy of this disease that has affected the entire world. We need to recognize - everyday - the importance of working toward ending it. Start today, if you haven't already, by supporting the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of AIDS and taking care of those who are afflicted.

I had the privelege of working for a short time with an AIDS prevention/education/care agency here in Seattle. Although I worked behind the scenes in Finance, I occasionally went to the client services area, where counsellors, insurance advocates, housing advocates, food workers, and education/prevention advocates worked. I have never been so amazed at people working to help those in need. These people are tireless. I was humbled to even be in the same room as them.

Agencies such as this one are constantly fighting for their clients' rights, for funding, for research, for education and prevention and against the stigmas surrounding this disease. It's heartbreaking to see such hard work, devotion and caring shoved so far down on the list of priorities in this and other countries.

AIDS affects everyone from all walks of life. Gay, straight, rich, poor, male, female, children. Please - do something to help. Start with this website. And also visit here.


Support World AIDS Day

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I have to admit right off the bat - I'm kinda uneasy writing this post.

It's about God. There, I've alienated some people right there.

It's about my anti-religious ideas. Okay, alienated some more there.

I'm gay. I'm a liberal Democrat. I live in Seattle. I'm not supposed to have anything to say about God.

(Is there anyone else I can alienate?)

But I started thinking (uh-oh) the other day. After my Dad died last year, I've tried to keep in touch with my cousins. We were never close growing up, but with both parents gone, I wanted to hold onto whatever family I had left (and, they're pretty darn nifty people). Plus, my uncle pretty much demanded - to me, specifically - that we stay in touch. 'Nuf said.

My cousin JoEllen (Jo) and I have kept in touch the most, I think. In an act of bravery, I quite recently offered her the link to this blog. And in a "You showed me yours, I'll show you mine" moment (her words! I know you'll read this, Jo!), she sent me the link to her blog.

Jo is a very faithful Catholic, which plays a huge role in her life and in her blog. It is her comfort, and more than that, her path and direction in life. This, as those who know me a little may guess, is quite different from my life. However, I truly honor and admire her faith and her path, whether it is the same as mine or not. She's a wonderful, warm, quick-to-laugh woman, as evidenced by our talks after Dad's funeral. And - after we got back in touch with each other, Jo pretty much guessed (like everyone else in my family, I bet) that I am gay. And she has never once been anything but kind and supportive of me since then, which admittedly surprised me (not due to her personality by any means), but is quite a nice treat coming from my background.

I sent her an e-mail after reading her blog, trying to explain my ideas about God, but I'm sure I fell short and her eyes glazed over before rolling back in her head. It got me thinking about what I do believe rather than just what I don't, which is the way I regarded my spirituality for so long. So, I know this is a long read, but it's my blog and I'm writing for my own outlet. Deal, kids. Read it or not.

I didn't grow up in a church-going family. We were taught the stories of the bible and to believe in God, but I only remember ever going to church once, for an Easter sunrise service. I didn't question it; I knew other people went to church, I knew people of different religions, I knew others who didn't go to church, it didn't seem to be a big deal. I don't recall ever questioning it at all until high school, when some people would look at me funny when I answered their questions of "Where do you go to church?" with "I don't". I wondered if I was missing something.

My Mom died of cancer just after my 15th birthday. Since we didn't have a pastor to officiate, we asked the hospital chaplain to perform the funeral. I remember being a little embarrassed that someone who barely knew my Mom was up in front of us, talking about her life (yes, this was repeated when my Dad died, with the pastor who had been with my Dad at the nursing home and at my family's home when he passed away officiating - and pronouncing our last name incorrectly). I wondered if we were bad people because of it. So shortly after that, I started attending church youth group meetings that a friend of mine invited me to at a United Church of Christ. I started getting involved in the church and going to services most Sundays. I went on retreats with the youth group. There were "spiritual bonding" sessions, "strength bombardment" sessions ... I don't remember what else. It was what I felt I needed at the time ... but it also felt hollow to me. Like I wasn't doing it right.

I went to a Swedish Lutheran college that had originally been a seminary (back in the 1800's) but was now a private liberal arts school. We were required to take religion courses, but just as part of the well-rounded liberal arts education. My first day in my first religion class, "The History of the Old Testament", the teacher said "The bible is not the word of God. It was written by man to relate the stories and teachings as they interpreted them in their day and age".


I was astounded. This teacher was a Lutheran minister, and he was telling me that the bible wasn't true? That wasn't the complete gist of his teachings; he explained that the bible was a historical document and taught the values and moral lessons that we should still follow - but that we shouldn't regard everything in it as the end-all word of God that we had to follow to the letter. That was an epiphany for me. It took years to form that idea into my own beliefs, but it was truly a revelation.

While in college, I did go to weekly chapel services at times ... being a musician, I often played at them, or went with friends of deeper faith than mine, trying to capture what everyone else was getting from it. Still, like in high school, I always felt out of place. I felt like I was trying to find answers, peace, God I guess? But that nothing was connecting. Again, that feeling that I wasn't doing it right. Something was wrong with me, of course.

I'm sure a big piece of this was that I was struggling with the idea, the thought, the terrifying knowledge that I was gay. Looking back, I always knew. From my earliest memories, I knew I was different somehow, but it didn't scare me until after puberty, when I knew what it was. And reconciling that knowledge (although I hadn't fully admitted it, even to myself, and "come out" yet) with the teachings of most any church ... well, there's a brick wall to run myself into.

When I did come out in graduate school, it was slow; first to new friends (much easier without the past baggage, and being in one of the top music schools in the country - well, kids, let's just say that I was not alone in my gay fabulosity), then to old friends, never quite to my family (WAY too much baggage and terrible consequences to deal with). And I figured that since the church told me I was bad, and God was the church, that I was already going to hell and couldn't do anything about it since I coudn't change the fact that was gay. So I figured the whole idea of God couldn't be a part of my life.

Fast forward (yeah, you wish) a few years to me moving to Seattle. One day I was walking around my new neighborhood and came across a bookstore (I love books) and started browsing. Something caught my eye - a book called "Conversations With God" by Neale Donald Walsch. It looked interesting ... new-agey, but something that might make me think, if nothing else. So I bought it, and sat down outside to browse through it ...


That was another epiphany. This was what I believed. This was the God that hadn't been shown to me before. This was why I always felt so hollow trying to find peace and direction and comfort and God in a stained-glass pew-filled room in front of an altar. The basic idea in this book is that we are not just created by God, but that we are a part, quite literally, of God. God is inside of us. Our reason for being here is to experience God as fully as possible, and for God to experience us. Everything that exists is part of God. Evil is a part of God, because he created all possibilities, good and bad, love and fear, left and right, up and down - everything. When we truly have experienced being God, then we return to being a part of him. Evil is necessary to define good. Fear is necessary to define love. We are all on a different part of the journey, and God delights in the experience. Before man, he was all that was. And in order to define himself, he had to create something that, previously, was not. There had to be opposites to define each other. There cannot be good without bad. There is no love without there being fear. No left without right. There is no word, no sound, no sight, no idea, no image that is not a part of God. Evangelical preachers, devout Christians, drag queens, Muslim extremists, meth addicts, mentally ill homeless people, child abusers, soccer moms, Dubya - all a part of God's creation and no one else's. Satan, if you believe in him, also a part of God, somewhere on his path back to God. We are all on a journey, and we try to influence others and the world with our view from the part of the journey we are on, but it's still God. You may use a different terminology - Goddess, Karma, zod, can opener, anything - but I believe that we are all a part of something. We have to be.

Now, I am very aware that the criticism of this book that brought me such comfort is voluminous. That it is heresy, blasphemy, yadda yadda yadda. So, if that's your thinking - don't read it. Or rather, DO read it, but only if you can keep an open mind. If you're offended already by my post - well, it is what it is. It is me. I try to keep my mind open to others and hope they do to me as well.

Okay - I'm done. Blast away.

It will be interesting to see what other epiphanies are ahead for me. I'm hoping for one soon.

What were your epiphanies?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

BLIZZARD OF 2006!!! (umm ... Seattle style ... )

Yes, another weather post ... you wouldn't guess that it's my brother who's the meteorologist ...

It rarely snows in Seattle - well, not right in the city. Maybe once or twice a winter we'll get a dusting of snow, sometimes a few inches, and then the city shuts down. Completely. Since I grew up in suburban Chicago, I thought this was silly - but since it doesn't snow very often, people just aren't used to city driving in snow and ice. Plus, it's a very hilly city, so it's almost impossible to get around, and the buses usually can't make it on the steep hills. When I worked downtown, I would have to walk the three miles to work (up a steep hill and then down some very steep hills) anytime it snowed even 2 inches. THAT was always fun ...

So we had a winter storm come through yesterday. We only got about a half-inch where I live, but some areas up north got up to 18 inches. The schools are all closed, a lot of bus routes aren't running (basically the only public transportation we have), a lot of people have taken the day off of work. It started here with a big hailstorm just before 5:00 - perfect timing to really screw up rush hour. Scott works in a suburb north of the city, which usually takes him 30 minutes - maybe 45 minutes if traffic's bad. It took him three and a half hours to get home last night. There were cars in ditches, people abandoning their cars on the side of the road, people pulling into parking lots and sleeping in their cars because traffic just wasn't moving. Today it's only about 25 degrees, so everything is frozen and icy. It took Scott an hour and a half to get back to work this morning. I'm glad I'm at home ...

Here are a few pictures I took:

From the front porch, waiting for Scott to get home ...

From the living room window this morning ...

Our back yard from the balcony ...

Kali getting her first taste of snow ...

I know, I know ... it doesn't look like much, but trust me - solid ice and hilly streets (and not a whole lot in the way of snow removal equipment here), and it's nasty. So, taking Lewis' advice, I may start pulling some of the Christmas decorations up from the basement today. God knows that on Christmas it will probably be raining and 55 degrees ...

Monday, November 27, 2006

To pay or not to pay ...

What exactly should one do to deserve reimbursement? Click on this link and let me know your thoughts.

I won't share my thoughts just yet ...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Christmas Gory

Okay, this really is my favorite ever Christmas movie (right up there with "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle On 34th Street"). And I am seriously contemplating a trip to Cleveland to see the renovated house. And I definitely remember not being able to put my arms down in a snowsuit.

You think I'm kidding.

Anyway ... this video is great. I never realized that "A Christmas Story" was a horror film. Perfectly, every scene is actually from the movie. (You HAVE seen the movie, haven't you??????).


P.S. Did anyone else notice that the crate says "His End Up"?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

'Tis the Season

It's ironic that this season of "goodwill" and "peace on Earth" etc. etc. has become the most hectic, stressful, ill-mannered time of the year. Whether you celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas, you're still somehow sucked into the season in this country (and many others). So why does it need to be such a cranky and horrible time for many people? I certainly feel for Scott, and anyone else who works in retail or restaurants or in any way has to deal with the public masses, normally for extended hours and fewer days off during the holidays. People can get not just testy or grumpy, but downright evil and nasty - and they take it out on whomever is nearest to them (especially on an employee of wherever the hell they happen to be at the moment). That's just wrong. Not just as a Christian holiday, but as what is even a secular season of hope and peace and love (it's certainly secular to me), these people are the antithesis of the whole spirit and idea. There's probably a reason ... stressful family life, job stress, financial stress, all with the pressures of a disgustingly commercialized season weighing on them and being pounded into them by the advertisements and decorations being thrust on them starting in - what, September these days?? That's why I love Thanksgiving more than Christmas; to me it's all about love and family and friends and reminding yourself and each other of what is important and what to be thankful for, not about standing in line at 4 a.m. to get into some big box store and trample and shove perfect strangers to get your hands on that specially-priced DVD player because your Christmas gift-giving will be destroyed if you can't get it. Bah humbug, indeed.

So I've decided - after years of thinking about it - that I'll be damned if I'm gonna let it all get me down. (How Charlie Brown of me). I don't want tons of gifts this year. I don't want anyone scrambling to find something that I might like (jeez, I'm actually very easy to shop for!!!), getting stressed because I'm not crossed off their list and there's no time and no money and what the hell am I supposed to do now? I want to spend time with people whom I love and don't get to see often enough. Not with fancy overdone dinners (well, maybe just one), or Christmas parties ... no gift exchanges or forced merriment while wearing reindeer sweaters ... no adding stress to anyone. Make a few quesadillas or a pizza or some burgers, pour some wine, sit around in grubby clothes and talk and watch movies and enjoy each other. Remind each other why we love them, why we're friends.

I came across this link on Lewis' blog - and what a great idea. Use this season to do what it's really about. Take care of each other. Be kinder to each other. Bring peace to someone, make someone smile. Recognize that you can do something, in some small way, that will make someone's day. It doesn't have to be expensive; it doesn't actually have to cost you anything at all. Offer to take someone's shopping cart back to the rack in the parking lot. Help a mother with a stroller onto the bus. Let someone into your lane on the freeway even if you have the right of way. Give a smile to everyone. Anything.

Scott and I live across the street from two ladies that have lived there for over thirty years. They're in their 80's, fairly poor, but the sweetest and most interesting people around. Every year we bring them something for the holidays - usually a Christmas wreath, since we know they don't spend their money on things like that. This year we brought them a big pointsettia plant just before Thanksgiving; it really didn't cost us much, and we told them we saw it and thought of them and how they might like a little holiday cheer. They always get a little teary-eyed when we do this, and thank us and tell us how sweet we are and how good we are to them. It wasn't a difficult or expensive thing for us to do, but they appreciate it, and we felt good making them feel good and knowing they have something cheery for the season.

Thanks to Lewis and Mr. Joe Blog's Blog for a great idea. I can't think of a better way to make my holidays better than by helping others do the same. And let me know any random act of kindness you give. That, too, is sharing the holiday spirit.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Well THAT'S over with ...

So Thanksgiving has come and gone ... and I have to admit we don't have any pictures of it (sorry - I know how much y'all were looking forward to that ... ). Things got a little hectic, and even though the camera was around, it didn't get used.

The plan was for people to start showing up around 1:00 and dinner at 3:00. Our guests were all friends who work for Scott's company, plus their families. Well, in the retail world, the day before Thanksgiving, well, kinda sucks. Scott worked from 7:00 a.m. until midnight trying to get the store ready for Black Friday, and everyone else had similarly horrendous days. One of our guests called a little after 1:00 and had just woken up (she had worked an overnight shift), and they live about 45 minutes away. Our first guests arrived a little after 2:00 - and the guest who was supposed to bring the appetizers showed up a little after 3:00 because the fire alarms had gone off at his store and he had to travel 40 miles to Puyallup to work with the fire department. Luckily, I had a few things I could throw in front of the people who were there. Our last guests showed up a little after 4:00; luckily I was running a bit behind so dinner wasn't ruined.

Once everyone was here, though, we had a great time. Dinner was a success, which I was additionally thankful for since it was the first time I'd done all of it myself. We shared our home and dinner with some fantastic people, had good music and wine and laughed a lot, and then they all left to rest up for today.

Scott went to work around 4:30 this morning and is hoping to be home by 7:30 or so. Ick. I hope he's surviving ...

So how was YOUR Thanksgiving???

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Here comes the rain (again) ...

For those of you who don't live in the Pacific Northwest, yes, it rains a lot. Not huge downpours, rarely thunder and lightening, but just a fairly steady mist or light rain. And certainly not all year round - fall and winter mostly, and November is usually the wettest here in Seattle. Then we get into the lightly rainy winter, the start of drying out in spring, and the oh-my-god gorgeous summer.

This year we've already had our share of storms; it's the wettest November on record. We've had high winds, flooding, almost constant fronts moving through. It's been nasty. Here's a picture of yesterday's storm that came through hard and heavy - lightening, thunder, hail, downpours, wind ... luckily I was already at home by then. At the first boom of thunder, the dogs came running downstairs with these wide-eyed looks of "What the hell was that????"

It looks like another big storm is set to come through tomorrow afternoon, with lots of snow up in the mountain passes - so if you're around here and travelling tomorrow, leave early and be careful!!!!

Now it's time for me to start the preparations for tomorrow - run to the store, finish cleaning the house (can't do that too early with a puppy around), start brining the turkey, make dessert, drink vodka, and make everything ahead of time that I can. Our dinner has gone from seven people a few days ago to possibly twelve - so I'm a little stressed. I don't think I can fit twelve people at our table. I hope we have enough place settings. I hope we can borrow enough chairs. Did I mention the part about drinking vodka??

I'm sure there will be pictures to post. I know you're looking forward to that.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. We all have something to be thankful for. Remember those less fortunate than you, be good to each other, and enjoy the holiday.

Monday, November 20, 2006


When I was growing up, we always held Thanksgiving dinner at our house. My aunt and uncle would come, she in her horn-rimmed glasses and oddly out-of-date (and sometimes crocheted) outfits, he with a quick wit and lively blessing at the dinner table, smelling of pipe smoke; they'd bring my grandmother with them, who was my only living grandparent and very sweet and very old and very frail, but who was also a strong Swedish woman. They were all a wonder to me, a link to my Dad's childhood, an older generation than most families of kids my age; my parents were older than most in that era, both when they were married and by the time I was born. My aunt and uncle had never had any children, which made both them and my grandmother seem older to me ... all black-and-white photos and slightly moth-balled but warm scents, all part of this homey 1950's hats and gloves and plaid car-coats and big clunky black telephone era that I wished I had been a part of. My Mom's parents had both passed away by the time she was about 20 years old, and we rarely saw her brother's family even though they lived in a close-by suburb, since they had their own four children who were a little older than me and were closer to their Mom's side of the family than we had stayed. So my Grandma and my Aunt Edith and my Uncle Eddie had to be a link for me to my Mom's past as well, since they had all known each other for close to 20 years before I was born. This was usually the only time all year that I would see them, and I would look forward to Thanksgiving for weeks beforehand, and on that day I would look out the living room windows, watching for their big green 1970-something Ford to pull up.

After dinner, my aunt and I would always go for a walk around the neighborhood - I remember it always being cold but dry, the light of the late afternoon, the crunch of leaves, the smell of woodsmoke from the chimneys. I don't remember much of what we ever talked about - it seemed more the pleasant company (she always had a smile on her face) and the sights and sounds and smells that I think she knew I appreciated just like her, even being a young boy. And then later, when it had gotten dark, I remember the sadness when they left, that this one wonderful day that I looked forward to all year long was over. And life would go back to my parents and my two brothers and I, living in the present, knowing a little more about my parents but wanting to see more of them as younger people again, acknowledging that they weren't always middle-aged, recognizing that they were young and vibrant and beautiful and interesting and actually quite incredible people. I loved knowing this about them. I love this even more now, appreciate it even more now.

Now, some 30-ish years later, that's all long past. My Mom passed away two weeks after my 15th birthday; my Grandma died two years later; my aunt died two years ago; my father passed away just over a year ago. When my Dad died, it felt like a final link to this past life had been broken. Although my two brothers still live in the Chicago area - one in the big house we grew up in, although we'll be selling it - this link to my parents, to their pasts, to some old part of myself maybe even from before I was born, was gone. It can't ever be the same. It was a comfortable, warm, grounding feeling, a sense of belonging and loving and centering and ... a past. Even as a young boy, I felt a part of myself that was my past, an old part of the soul, older than me.

So, I try to make Thanksgiving at our house have the same feeling. The same ritual of getting up early to start cooking, turning on the Macy's parade on the television, expectantly watching for guests to arrive. It's not family that comes to dinner anymore, but we try to invite everyone who doesn't have someplace to go, who doesn't have family here, who maybe needs to feel the same way I did as a child - welcome, loved, appreciated, centered. To get a break from every other day when we're all in the present and forgetting about where we're from, what we love, who we are. And I'll look at my parents' wedding picture that's in the living room and remember who they were and where I come from and I'll get a little misty-eyed and then I'll go back to everyone and know what I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for a long list of things ... for being fortunate enough to have a dinner to share, a warm comfortable bed, material things that almost embarrass me, the ability to give to others.

For Scott and friends and neighbors and pets and their love.

For having a past that grounds and centers and defines me.

And I'm thankful that I have this picture.

Jeanne (July 31, 1929 - November 7, 1982)


Jim (October 20, 1923 - October 13, 2005)

Married September 14, 1957

Oak Park, Illinois

If ya wanna play with the big dogs ...

... you gotta be a big dog yourself.

And she sure as hell is!

Kali had a vet appointment today for her final set of shots. Everything looks good and her shoulder is pretty much healed. She's as healthy as a horse - and as big. She weighs 47.2 pounds at 17 weeks old. She is as big as Stoli (one of our 10 year old dogs). She can practically get onto the kitchen counter, so we're working on "down" and keeping bad things out of her reach.

But ain't she cute? :)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Hero? Harlot? Am I more conservative than I thought?

I'm a little torn about this after reading Joe.My.God.'s post. First off, I have to say that I admire and respect Joe ... a lot. I don't take what he has to say lightly. So Joe, if you read this, please keep that in mind. My respect for you is unending. Embiggening, even. :)

If you read Joe's post, he (and certainly not he alone - his blog is just where I started looking at this idea) is advocating helping out Mike Jones - the male escort who outed Ted Haggard and quite possibly helped to change the outcome of the recent midterm elections - with donations to him via PayPal. Part of me wants to jump on the bandwagon - I really do. But something in me feels uncomfortable with it. And there is where I'm torn.

Why should I support him? Well ... he came through and outed someone because he felt Haggard was being hypocritical - and in the worst way, an outspoken evangelical pastor out to influence the world. I absolutely disagree with "outing", but perhaps this was important. Perhaps showing the true despicable nature of hiding one's sexuality, of being ashamed of whom God created you as ... perhaps this alone was worth any backlash. If the Mighty Ted Haggard is a model of how horrible denying your true self is, then perhaps outing him made a difference.

Perhaps this added to a rolling landslide of the nation heading toward a Democratic congress. Perhaps this was the final straw that broke a few of the conservative Christians' backs, that showed that just because someone proclaims to be showing The Way To Christ (or to whomever) and has The President on his speed dial, doesn't mean that they are one fucking millimeter closer to morality than the People Like Me ... perhaps Mr. Jones will go down in history. Perhaps in hindsight I will agree that he deserves more admiration, more applause, more gain from this action than I am able to give him just yet. In light of the support the gay blog world has been showing him ... I almost hope so. Almost.

So why shouldn't I support him? Why shouldn't I send money to him, thank him for what he has done?

Perhaps I am a prude. Although, trust me, I have never been accused of that. But honestly, as much as he may have done for this election ... I don't want to have "won" by an escort who sold (or helped Haggard to acquire) crystal meth, having that image be our symbol of "victory", of how The Gays swayed the vote, the balance of power in the congress ... this reeks too much of the exact image that the conservatives and even the moderates have of gay culture. One of the first things that came to my mind when this all came down was George Michael being caught after cruising in a park in London, saying "this is my culture" ... and thinking, "Wait a minute - that's not MY culture!!!". I do not promote promiscuity. I do not promote public, anonymous sex. I do not promote prostitution. I do not promote drug use. I understand why - at least in part - the whole easy sex/drug and alcohol use/club scene came to define homosexuality. I lived my share of that culture (and not ALL that long ago, kids!). But - I also think we have outgrown that. That we NEED to outgrow that. That in order to progress, to move forward, to be accepted, to be a part of society without having our mere existence needing to be validated by persuading others that we're "okay" or "normal" - that we cannot give the rest of society more reason to stereotype us. I just know that many conservatives who DID vote Democratic may have considered the Haggard scandal as another part of "the corruption of the Republican party" ... but this also solidified many opinions of gays as promiscuous, drug-using, sex-for-money-or-whatever-it-takes degenerates.

Now of course, I do not know Mike Jones. I do not know his history. I do not know why he became an escort. I do not know anything about him, or, truthfully, other escorts. I honestly do not condemn him due to his profession, regardless of whether or not I like it. And I do know that many other people have a very different opinion of this whole thing. I do know that as of right now, I will not be sending him any of my money. I am thankful that he came forward, for whatever reason, and outed not just Haggard's homosexuality (or bisexuality, or whatever it is) but also his hypocrisy. I just cannot, in my best conscience, donate my money to him, regardless of any impact this all may have had on the midterm elections. Please, please, let me know your thoughts. Especially if they are opposite of mine. Maybe I'm missing something here. Maybe we all should give freely to him. Maybe we owe it to him to make sure that he survives, to know that we are thankful for what he did, to support and encourage speaking out against evil and things that are, well, just plain wrong. I want to embrace something that may have had a positive impact on our lives, but is this the way to do it?