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?

Homegrown Democrat

I'm embarrassed that I missed this before (being an NPR and Prairie Home Companion fanatic), but thanks to Lewis I came across this today. It's a few months old, but good reading nonetheless. I want Garrison Keillor to adopt me.

I just received his book "Homegrown Democrat" from Amazon today. I have a few other reads in front of it, but if anyone is interested I'll pass on my thoughts when I've read it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

One of my heroes ...

If you're not familiar with Mark Morford, he's a colmnist with the San Francisco Chronicle. I faithfully read his columns on Wednesdays and Fridays on (you can subscribe to his posts as well). He is outspokenly liberal, sarcastic, in-your-face, and intelligent. He regularly writes in support of the gay community - and he's straight. I really admire this man and his writings. Check out today's column about the gay marriage debate and the "rationale" behind the argument against gay marriage. And then e-mail him with your thoughts. Oh, he gets plenty of hate mail - so if you disagree with him, he won't be offended. But if you do like him - let him know that, too. We need more straight people like him fighting for us. I wish I could speak out (write out?) with his style. He makes me want to do just that.

Oh, and speaking of straight allies - check out Atticus Circle as well. I just came across this today. It made me smile. There is hope.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One more baby step in the world ...

Today, the South African Parliament legalized same-sex marriage.

I know that it will happen here eventually, but it seems strange to me that the United States, self-proclaimed Superpower of the World and Compass of Humanity, is so regressive regarding civil rights. We (well, some of us) try to fight the good fight, but we continue to fall behind. I'm too tired to write any well-thought-out political post today, but I will soon.

A very dear friend of mine lived in Capetown last year for a school term ... maybe she'll post some comment on her views on how this reflects South African culture and why this is so different from ours. She has an amazing view of the world and I'd be interested to have her input.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Miss Otis Regrets

I was updating my iPod and came across one of my favorite ever Bette Midler songs. (What? Okay, so I'm a big fag. You have a problem with The Divine Miss M???). Here's a video of her performing this in Las Vegas (with her backup girls, The Harlettes). If you have never seen her in concert ... oh, you must. She is a force of nature.

If you have seen her before, you'll enjoy seeing this again. Oh, and my favorite line ever:

"What's the matter, Soph? AIN'T YA GOT A VASE???"

(Bonus points to anyone who gets it ... )

Doggies, doggies everywhere ...

Kali got her stitches out this morning and is doing beyond great. Now on to training her ... we've let that slide a bit in the interest of just getting her healed, and it shows (especially her housetraining).

I've mentioned that we have two other dogs as well (also Weimaraners), so I thought I should introduce them. Kali's had enough attention lately, and our two older girls are feeling left out.

Scott got Stoli when she was just a pup, and she's now 10 years old. But she refuses to believe that she's NOT a puppy. She's been like this all her life. She's spoiled, yes ... but she's well-behaved, beautiful, and loves nothing more than to just cuddle. Her name was suggested by one of Scott's co-workers and it stuck. She has the most pitiful-looking puppy-dog eyes when she's trying to get her way - which is always. And, yeah, it works.

We got Kitty after Scott and I met, when both dogs were about 18 months or so. Kitty was raised in a family with small kids (they seemed to pump them out year after year), and that family would get a puppy or two, then get rid of them when they grew to adulthood and get a new puppy. She wasn't well-cared for; she was overweight, had some skin problems, and got no affection whatsoever. She was only allowed in the kitchen to eat and sleep in her kennel, and was punished if she even tried to set foot on the carpet. We know she's had a litter, even though we were told she hadn't (it's pretty obvious). About a year and a half ago she got very sick and we almost lost her. Luckily she recovered, and is the most incredibly grateful dog ever born. She has the run of the house but is very respectful, she sleeps on the bed when we let her (all 90 pounds of her), and her favorite thing in life is to go camping with us and be by our sides 24/7. She's amazing. Oh - her name? When I first started dating Scott, whenever we would see a big dog out and about, he'd call it "Kitty" (as in "here, kitty kitty ... "). So after trying to come up with a name for this huge dog we'd just adopted, he jokingly called her "Kitty" and she came running. She's just a big baby - but she takes care of us. Both of them are great guard dogs (a good thing in our neighborhood), and I think they're teaching Kali pretty well, too.

Next time I post about our family, I'll introduce the cat who has thumbs. Seriously.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I gon' rock yo world ...

I swear, the moment I saw this picture of Ted Haggard ...

... all I could think of was Wanda from In Living Color.

Is it just me?

Coneless in Seattle

Kali's stitches don't come out until Monday, but she's doing so well that Scott took her cone off last night. So far she hasn't touched her wound at all, but she sure is a hell of a lot happier without that big thing around her head. Quieter, too ... you could hear her banging against everything all over the house before that damn thing was gone.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Allen Concedes

Senator George Allen (R - VA) has conceded the election to Democratic candidate Jim Webb.

(Editor's note: Yes, I screwed up the names before ... )

Now comes a lot of hard work. Please help keep them on track!

Dog Days of Fall

I'm writing this from Scott's mom's house in Port Orchard, Washington. It's pretty rural where she lives ... there are deer and bears and woods - and dogs. She has three dogs - two standard poodles (one's a puppy) and a Bichon Frise. I ended up bringing Kali with me since Scott had to work late last night and all day today and tomorrow, and I didn't want Kali to have to be alone outside all that time - for her sake as well as for the yard and deck and everything else she likes to try to destroy. The other dogs are okay staying inside the house, but Kali is in her Terrible Twos, and despite of her ongoing recovery she's a doggie dynamo. She's terrorizing the Bichon, Sweetie (who lives up to her name admirably), romping with the puppy (Rosie), and luckily is smart enough to stay away from the bigger dog (Bianco). But they're actually getting along pretty well, despite Kali's love of literally galloping around the house, playing with THEIR toys, and pouncing on whatever unsuspecting dog she sees. Methinks a puppy class is in the cards ...

Besides feeling like a pre-school teacher, I'm pretty bored. I don't know the area well enough to put Kali in the car and go exploring, and it's been raining steadily since I pulled into the driveway so I can't just sit out in the back yard with them (his mom has beautiful gardens). So I'm sitting inside, NPR on the radio (I forgot my iPod), checking the news online every so often and waiting for the Virginia senate seat to be decided. If Kali takes a nap (for maybe ten minutes at a time) I can read some of the books I brought with me for a short while. I'm looking forward to heading back to Seattle tomorrow!

I don't have access to my e-mail from here, so if anyone wants to post any comments ... please do ... love is good ...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Feeling Blue?

Congratulations to the Democrats for taking back the House, and possibly the Senate. Hopefully we can turn the country in a different direction. Bush's press conference this afternoon should be interesting.

To the people who voted for the state amendments banning gay marriage in Idaho, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado ... I am not just disappointed, I am disgusted. Shame on you. Your "traditional values" and "moral high road" are, very sadly, not what you think they are. To those who voted against this bigotry and are heartbroken today, I am so sorry. I can imagine how these decisions not only disgusted but crushed you and your hopes that you would be treated as an equal member of society. Kelly, you and Jeff are in my thoughts today ...

And to those in Arizona who defeated the proposed amendment in your state - thank you and congratulations. You're all invited to dinner at my house.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Scott and I walked (in the pouring rain, thank you very much) down to the school at the end of our street and voted. We voted for everything we believe in and the candidates and referendums that reflect that.
We thanked the poll workers for their job well done. We filled out an exit poll as we ... umm, exited.

Have you voted yet???

What are you waiting for??????

The polls are open until 8:00 p.m. here in Seattle. Probably a similar time in your town.

DO YOUR PART!! The country you save may be your own ...

What are YOU doing today?


Did I mention you need to vote today?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kali the Wonder Dog

So Kali had her first vet visit this morning since her surgery. She had her drainage tube removed and the wound flushed out and it's looking good. Unfortunately her stitches don't come out for another week, so she's still a conehead. I'm house- and dog-sitting for Scott's mom Wednesday through Friday over in Port Orchard, and Scott has to work, so I'm worried about not being able to take care of her while I'm gone. But, she's a big bouncing ball of puppy energy these days and as long as she doesn't scratch her sutures, I think she'll be fine. It's really amazing to me that she is recovering so quickly; the day after her surgery she didn't seem to notice anything or be in any pain at all. She needs a LOT of training still - housebreaking is still a BIG issue and she doesn't understand the concept of "down" - but she is an amazingly cute and cuddly and affectionate girl. And she's gonna be a big girl. Both of her parents are in the 80 - 100 pound range, and she's already almost 40 pounds at 16 weeks. Apparently she will be kicking us out of bed soon. And yes, of course she sleeps on the bed with us - duh. How could you say no to this face?

Our rainy season has started in Seattle with a bang - flooding and winds and constant rain. Hopefully we'll have one or two dry days still before March, but it's ugly today. In some fit of stupidity, I apparently rolled down my passenger-side front window last night when I came home from the store. It has "one-touch" window buttons and maybe I hit that window button as I was trying to open the trunk from inside and didn't realize it. It was open all night ... this morning I panicked at first thinking someone had broken the window, but then realized I was just an idiot. It was wet, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Luckily the Wind Gods were throwing the rain around from a different direction. Relax, the car's okay. Here's a picture of Joe (Joe Jetta):

More later ... don't think I'm not going to post another Election Day plea ...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sway the course

Before I moved to Seattle, I was never very politically motivated. I believed that my one little vote wasn't going to do a damn thing one way or the other, and honestly I was naive enough to think that the issues that everyone debated about didn't really affect me.

Wrong, wrong, WRONG.

On Tuesday, GET OUT AND VOTE. Period. There is absolutely no reason in the universe that you should not. NONE. If you cannot excercise your right to shape the future of our country, then you do not understand how precious a right it is, and it's true, you will have no right to bitch and moan about the outcome. So DO IT. I mean it.

I was going to write about the big issues we're facing in this election, but there are so many places to find information on all the issues - and I won't pretend to be an expert on any of them. I was then going to just write a few quick bullet points on my opinions - but that felt like "preaching to the choir". So if you aren't sure about the sides to the issues - LEARN ABOUT THEM! NOW! And if you need any help, just ask. I'll do my best to help you find what you need.

And on Tuesday, for all of our sakes, GO VOTE! And send me a comment telling me you did it. Make me proud. No ... make yourself proud.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Feelin' groovy ...

Well, Kali is a huge ball of energy the past two days - even more so today. She really doesn't seem to be in much pain, but I keep giving her the pain pills anyway, at least until her follow-up visit on Monday. She's jumping around, trying to play with the other dogs, trying to chase the cat, just trying to be ... well, a puppy. I keep worrying that she'll break her stiches, or scratch out the drainage tube, or just plain overdo it. I worry a lot. Luckily, I can keep a level head when needed (to an extent) and am taking care of her every waking minute. She's on a short leash attached to me as I'm typing this, and she and I are pretty much confined to the office with the food bowl, her water cup (I hold it for her while she drinks - she's a sloppy drinker), her medicines, a bed and blanket, and lots of toys. I'm trying to keep her occupied and as happy as can be, but all she wants to do is run around and play and rough-house and dig. Yeah, I discovered she's a digger - not just the plants nearby (we take a lot of tropical plants indoors for the winter) but she seems to think she can dig through the dog bed and carpet to get to ... where? The kitchen? Hmmm ... she does love her some peanut butter ...

The downside to all of this (and believe me, I'm very happy that she's doing okay) is that I'm exhausted. I can't really have her out of my sight for a second (I need to make sure she doesn't start scratching her wound), so I've only taken quick three-minute showers (with her in the bathroom) and haven't been able to shave. Poor Scott is working long hours (he's a retail manager starting the holiday season) and has a bad knee at the moment, so I want him to be able to relax and recuperate when he gets home. I can be kinda anal about the way the house looks, so not being able to clean up the house (all those Halloween decorations are in the dining room now) or get the laundry done or run errands is making me cranky.

Blah. Blah blah. Blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. I'm in a complaining mood and since I'm almost literally anchored to my computer, well, this is my blog post today.

And this is the toll it has taken. Sigh ... to be clean-cut and well-groomed again ...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Oh the Places You'll Go ...

When I was little, we used to take family vacations by car. Mostly to a lake house we built in northwest Illinois, but sometimes we'd do big road trips - Colorado, Montana, Washington D.C. - hours upon hours in the station wagon with my parents and two brothers and me. While there are certainly negatives to family trips, we actually - generally - had a good time.

One year my dad gave my mom a big posterboard-mounted map of the United States which was hung in the den. Every family road trip was to be mapped out here in marker to show where we had all gone together. It didn't last - I don't think more than one trip was documented - but I thought it was a cool idea.

And look! Now you can do it electronically. I thought this was cool since I always love looking at maps and love travelling. So I thought I'd post where I've been in the U.S.:

And throughout the world:

create your own visited country map

I have an awful lot of world travel to do ...

P.S. Kali is doing great today - she has more energy than me! Although her conehead has already knocked over one formerly potted lipstick plant and scarred a few walls. And I discovered that she didn't swallow her antibiotic last night, so she has now learned the universal joy of Peanut Butter (Adams 100% Natural - Crunchy).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Our baby's sick ...

Scott and I have lots of animals. It's a joke among our friends and neighbours that we live in a petting zoo. The neighborhood kids love it! I won't name all our "children" here, but three of them are dogs - Weimaraners. The oldest two (Stoli and Kitty) are 10 years old, the youngest (Kali) is 3 months. Kali is at the age where she just loves testing her boundaries, especially with the other dogs. So, once in a while she gets a warning bite from one of the Big Dogs. That's part of owning a puppy, and we know from experience how to take care of those wounds.

We don't know if that's what happened, but she got some sort of puncture wound on her right front leg, probably earlier this week. We didn't even see it at first, and it didn't bother her. It ended up getting infected, so I called the vet yesterday and arranged to bring her in this morning. It ends up she has an abscess deep in her shoulder, and had to have surgery today. It all came about pretty quickly and we don't really know how it happened. So of course, we feel like horrible dads. She's home now, with a big ol' collar around her head (which she hates), a big shaved patch on her shoulder with a drainage tube sticking through it, she's in pain and crying and doesn't understand what's going on, and we can't do anything about it except stroke her muzzle and sing softly to her and feed her pills and keep her from scratching at the stitches and at the tube. Ugh. I hate this. Luckily Scott was off today (and he worked in a veterinary clinic once), but the next few days are going to be rough. Carrying her outside to do her business (she weighs 38 pounds already and of course we started our rainy season TODAY), keeping her on schedule with her pain medicine and antibiotics, hot-compressing her wound, and hoping that I don't have to eat or use the bathroom during the 11 - 12 hours a day that Scott's gone. Call me Nurse Diesel.

And of course, Scott and I are emotionally (and financially) drained by this. She's our baby, and to see your child in pain and not be able to really help - it's heartbreaking. I think she may just taste bacon for the first time tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Scott really enjoys Halloween. No, I mean really, REALLY enjoys it. A lot. I always have, too, but I dropped it after I got old, and he got me back into the spirit of things. (Get it? "Spirit"?? Oh, c'mon ... ) So every year, we set up quite a mean display. We're one of the only houses on the block that does, so it's not a competitive thing, other than trying to outdo ourselves from the previous year. We're talking creepy, scary, things that fly, things that crawl, things that go bump in the night. I won't even tell you how much we spent this year on new decorations. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years the house collapses under the weight of it all, since we keep adding on. So I thought I'd post a few pictures of our preparations on the blog ...

One of our friends hanging around ... (Get it? "Hanging" around?? Hahahahahaha. *ahem*)

Here's Scott hanging up some of the flying things ...

The front hallway with the mechanical hand that crawled across the floor when we opened the door to innocent children ...

Scott dancing with the headless ghoul (which, yes, moved and held its' glowing, moving skull in one hand ... )

The front yard - front GRAVEyard, that is ... (c'mon, that was just BEGGING to be said ... )

And the house, almost done, from across the street (yikes, that wisteria needs to be trimmed) ...

Unfortunately, we didn't get any good after-dark pictures to capture the full glory. Strobe light in the attic window, a string of blacklights on the ledge under the second floor windows, the orange flickering candlelights in the graveyard, the fog machine on the front porch, the eerie music and sounds playing ... you get the idea, no?

We also don't have any GOOD pictures of us in costume. Scott wore a skull mask and had a hooded black cape; I wore a gauzy grey robe thing and white/blue/black makeup with faux ice crystals on my eyebrows. And a sassy grey wig. It was NOT pretty. No kids, not pretty at all. One of our neighbors busted out laughing when he saw me (he actually is a great friend of ours, though ... his daughters weren't as amused, more like "Yeah ha ha give me the candy ..."). Some children cried. Literally. (I DID feel bad about that ... but we calmed them down by telling them we were just having fun and wearing costumes, too, and are really nice people ... really!) The parents all loved it though.

So that's that. I think I've been a bit heavy-handed in my first few posts, so I felt the need to show that I DO have a fun side. No, really. Sometimes I do.