Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spirit day

Today is Spirit Day where everyone is encouraged to wear purple to show we are against teen bullying.
Not that familiar with Spirit Day??  Find out more about it on GLAAD's website HERE.

Because I'm always down for a good cause, I snapped this selfie at my office for use both here and on my facebook page.
I need to go on a diet.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Weekend highlights

Our longtime friends Ron & James and Mike & Clark came this past weekend for their annual visit.  We used to hang out a lot when we lived in VA, and they would come visit our beach house with us every year beginning in 2003.  So this weekend was our 12th annual weekend together.

They arrived on Sat and we immediately met them over at our mutual friends Karen & Marty's home for lunch and a visit with Karen & Marty.  The weather was cool and rainy so we didn't spend any time on the porch.  That evening we had cocktails at home and then went to dinner at 1776 Steakhouse.  Our steaks were fantastic (even coming from me who really isn't a steak fan) and so was the banana coconut cream cake we had for dessert.  Afterward we returned home for more conversations and catching up.

Sun morning we had coffee and talked while some also perused the newspaper.  Eventually we dressed and walked over to JD's Cafe for breakfast.  It was cool but sunny so after breakfast we went for a nice walk through town, ducked into a few stores, and walked through Canalfront Park before returning home.  We talked and laughed some more until it was time for Spouse & me to get ready to go to a wedding.  Our dear friends Deb & Greer invited us to their wedding and reception nearby so we went to it while Ron & James and Mike & Clark went shopping at our wonderful, tax-free outlet centers.  The wedding was a lovely event and we had a terrific time.  
The brides
We met the guys back at the house, walked the dogs, changed our clothes, and headed out again, this time for dinner at Cafe Azafran.  Spouse & I ate rather lightly since we'd nibbled on goodies at the wedding reception earlier, but everyone enjoyed their meals. 
Can my face possibly look any fatter??  I don't think so.
After dinner we went for a walk on the boardwalk along the ocean before returning home for more talking and relaxing.

This morning Spouse went to work as usual and I stayed with the guys until they packed up and left at about 9:45.  

We were really happy that our friends who don't have dogs were so comfortable interacting with Marvin and Walter and vice versa.  We certainly wouldn't expect those who don't have dogs to play or hold our pets, but they did and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  We had a great weekend, as always, with our great, longtime friends.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Progress

Marriage equality made great progress this week!

On Mon the Supreme Court (yes, I typed it out... I have the acronym SCOTUS) decided not to take up any of the pending cases in 5 states, which meant the lower court rulings declaring anti-gay marriage laws to be unconstitutional were upheld.  This meant marriage equality became a reality in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia.

Yes, Virginia!

I am the most surprised about Virginia because when Spouse & I lived there a terribly-written law went into effect that not only blocked same-sex marriage, but basically also said 2 people of the same sex couldn't do anything that might try to imply the same rights and benefits as marriage!  In other words, a guy couldn't leave his cabin in the woods to his male childhood friend in his will because this might be seen as trying to imply a right or benefit of marriage.  Both the content and the wording of the law were so reprehensible and offensive it was actually 1 of the main reasons Spouse & I decided to move out of Virginia.  Thankfully that is all behind us now and we look forward to receiving wedding invitations from many of our friends still living there.

With days, more states like Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Kansas, and West Virginia joined the bandwagon, and its not over.  Keep your ears open for announcements in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

My blogger buddy Bob & his fiance Carlos are getting married soon in Washington (near Bob's dad) and hope that their marriage will be recognized in their home state of South Carolina by the time they return home!  How great would that be?!?!  For continuing, up-to-date info on Bob & Carlos' wedding AND states joining the equality march, be sure to visit Bob's blog HERE

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Perspective

So the other day I got a little annoyed because I was trying to get into a parking lot and the drivers in front of me were unable to get in due to the car exiting the lot that was in the middle of the roadway, rather than on 1 side.  The cars were backed up trying to get in until the clueless driver exited.  I was in a bit of a hurry.

I finally got into the parking lot and of course there were no empty spaces close to the store so I parked at the far end of the lot and grabbed a cart as I entered the store.  I'm looking for a specific gift, but unable to find it, I begin thinking of a back-up gift.

These days they really seem to pack the stores.  The isles are more narrow than ever, and passing someone with a shopping cart is next to impossible.  I see these 2 'mature' women with carts who are stopped and talking, totally blocking the isle.  They're old, they don't work, they're not on a timeline like I am, yet there they are, blocking the isle with their empty carts while they chat.  I can feel my patience running thin and my blood pressure spiking.  One of them finally notices me and moves her cart so I can pass.

I round the corner and head down another isle and see a woman heading toward me with another woman clutching the 1st woman's arm.  Then I notice the 2nd woman is wearing dark glasses.  She's blind.  I pull my cart over as far as possible so the 2 women can pass by me, and I count my blessings.

I think about my recent silent complaints about the traffic congestion, the far away parking place, and the shoppers blocking the isle.  Suddenly these things seemed insignificant compared to being blind.  At least I have my sight.  I can drive.  I can shop alone.  I can do all kinds of things that blind woman couldn't do.  I just needed to see her to put my 'problems' into perspective.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Lovely lyrics

Its been quite a while since I've done 1 of these, so allow me to share with you a song I like a lot that contains lovely lyrics.

Day By Day
performed by The Four Freshmen


Day by day, I'm falling more in love with you
And day by day my love seems to grow
There isn't any end to my devotion
It's deeper dear by far than any ocean
I find that day by day you're making all my dreams come true
So come what may I want you to know
I'm yours alone and I'm in love to stay
As we go through the years day by day

Day by day I'm falling more in love with you
And day by day my love seems to grow
There isn't any end to my devotion
It's deeper dear by far than any ocean
I find that day by day you're making all my dreams come true
So come what may I want you to know
I'm yours alone and I'm in love to stay
As we go through the years day by day

I find that day by day you're making all my dreams come true
So come what may I want you to know
I'm yours alone and I'm in love to stay
As we go through the years day by day
I'm yours alone and I'm in love to stay
As we go through the years day by day
Day by day, day by day, day by day

Friday, October 03, 2014

Weekend


I'm working both Sat & Sun this weekend.  What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Watching, learning...

Its been just a week and 1/2 and I am completely amazed at how quickly Walter is developing.  He has bonded with me and Spouse, he knows his name and often comes when called, he knows where he gets fed and where he sleeps, he knows where the door is after being outside, and he's doing great with the house-training.  Having never had a puppy before, I would say he is at or above expected behaviors for his age.
Walter's last day before the collar and leash

I also think he's developing quickly because he watches and learns from Marvin.  We've seen Walter imitate some of Marvin's behaviors, so its good that Marvin is so well house-trained and accepting of guests in the house.

Until today we could keep an eye on Walter relatively easily because he was too small to go up the stairs.  But today he surprised me.  I realized I'd left something upstairs and ran up to the bedroom to retrieve it.  When I returned to the top of the stairs, there was Walter on the next to top stair!  No doubt he'd seen his big brother bound up the stairs effortlessly and decided he would give it a try.

We also introduced Walter to a collar today.  Its actually a cat collar which is more appropriately sized for his little neck.  He seemed aware of it and tried to remove it for only about 5 minutes.  Then it was no longer a concern to him.

Once used to the collar, I attached a leash to it and took both boys for a walk.  Walter tried to bite the leash for a minute or 2, but then walked on as if it were suddenly routine.  Again, I think having observed big brother on a leash helped him understand it was nothing to be scared or frightened of.

Not every minute of being a puppy's dad is lovely.  Walter loves to bite and chew things so he must be supervised and told "no no" more often than I'd like.  But we understand that he is a puppy and this will pass.  We will then have 2 great dogs to love and enrich our lives.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Walter update

Surprise - I'm totally in love with Walter.  He's very sweet and affectionate, and the fact that he's tiny and adorable probably helps his case, too.
My biggest reservation about adopting a puppy was house training.  I've never had a puppy and never house trained a dog, since Jordan and Marvin were both house trained when we adopted them.  I feared that he would pee and poop all over the place and our house would stink in no time flat.  But my worries now seem highly exaggerated.  We been taking Walter & Marvin outside about every 2 hours (give or take) and Walter has really gotten the hang of it.  He's had very few 'accidents' and one of them was my fault.  He has the benefit of seeing Marvin 'go' outside, and we've been using verbal praise and petting to reward his success.

Since my office is only a couple miles from home, I have come home at lunchtime each day and taken the dogs outside, eaten my lunch, fed Walter, and taken both guys for a short walk around the house/yard.  Once Walter is older and able to 'hold it' longer, I won't need to come home in the middle of the day anymore.

Walter is a good eater.  He eats about 3-4 times a day.  We can't leave food out for him to eat at will because Marvin will eat it, and its too high in calories for him.

Walter is dying to play with Marvin, and often tries to engage him in some sort of play.  Marvin on the other had is just tolerating Walter at this point, and is probably wondering when this "house guest" will go home.  Occasionally he will growl at Walter who gets the message and leaves him alone.  We've been careful to spend equal time petting and tending to both dogs so Marvin doesn't feel replaced, and we try to encourage them to be together and not just sit on the other Daddy's lap. 
 We're sure that with more time Marvin will recognize and accept Walter into the family.  

Sometimes when we're watching TV at night Walter and I will play with a toy on my lap until he gets tired.  Then he will fall asleep on my arm, or he'll climb up my chest and get comfy on my shoulder.  I'm fine that.

Yesterday I took Walter to the vet for his new puppy check-up.  He did really well, riding in his carrier in the car, as well as being handled and examined by the vet and techs.  While they may say it to all puppy daddies, they couldn't stop talking about how cute Walter is.  Of course I didn't fight them over it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

What a weekend!!

OMG - what a weekend!!

Fri night Bugsy & Roger arrived and we caught up.  It had been about 2 years since we'd seen them.

While I had scheduled myself to be off work all weekend, I ended up needing to meet my clients, a home inspector, and a contractor at a home I have under contract, then meet another couple from out of state to show them a couple homes.  While I was working, Bugs & Rog and Spouse walked over to the farmers market.  When I got home at noon the 4 of us went to lunch, and then picked up a few extra items at the grocery store.

All 4 of us pitched in as we prepared for Steven's birthday dinner at our home.  Spouse and Roger made Mexican lasagna and fajitas while Bugsy and I got things set up.  There were 9 of us for dinner, and we ate on the screened porch since the weather was nice.  We had a fun time, and I can't believe I didn't take any photos of the birthday dinner.

Sun morning the 4 of us had coffee and hung out on the porch until it was time to meet Steven & Thad and Joe P for brunch.  Our 2 favorite servers were there and they made the entire restaurant sing 'Happy birthday' to Steven, which had the intended level of embarrassment.

After brunch we picked up Walter!  Spouse & Roger stayed home while Bugsy & I picked him up in a mesh carrier.  When we got home, I sat in the yard with Walter still in his carrier.  Spouse brought Marvin outside on his leash and over to where I was sitting.  Marvin wasn't exactly 'welcoming', but I'm convinced the introduction went much better than if I had brought Walter inside the house right away.  Bugsy took a couple of videos of the interaction, then edited them together to form an 8 minute video.  Since its too large to send via email, he AirDropped it onto my phone, but I don't know how to get it onto my laptop to upload.  The rest of the afternoon was spent bonding with Walter, making sure Marvin was paid attention to, and visiting with Bugsy & Roger.  
They left at 5pm and we began working on the potty training with Walter.  When both dogs were ready for an evening nap, we crated them and stopped by yet another client's home to drop off a gift, then ran to the store for puppy supplies.  When we got home, both dogs peed outside in the yard, making both daddies ecstactic!

Bedtime was a little difficult.  Marvin slid under the sheet and between my calves as usual, and Walter was placed in his soft/fuzzy bed inside his crate.  The lights went out and the wimpering and squealing began.  Spouse & I had agreed in advance that we would not talk once the lights went out, and that Walter would need to learn that lights out means time to sleep.  After about 10 minutes (which felt like 30 minutes) he fell asleep.  It could have been much worse.

Our lives have changed for sure.  Our morning and nighttime routines are far less routine, but its all worth it.  There are no words to describe the feeling you get from the love of a pet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We're expecting...

For several months Spouse & I have been checking the local SPCA website for a playmate/sibling for Marvin.  We think he'd really enjoy a playmate, and we'd like another Chihuahua, but have had no luck finding another rescue.

One of Spouse's colleagues also has a Chihuahua and volunteered to help us find another.  Yesterday she texted Spouse a photo of 3 available Chihuhua puppies that were available from friends of friends, and he forwarded it to me.

What???  A puppy???

Initially I'm very apprehensive since I've never had a puppy before.  How would we manage until the puppy was old enough to house train?

We talked through some of the details and I agreed to go see the pups this evening after work.  The dark male and the light female were already spoken for, so just the light male was available.  All 3 pups and their mom and dad were playing in the backyard when we arrived, and we were pleased that none of them barked or growled at us.  To the contrary, mom and dad greeted us and welcomed our petting and scratching them.  This is a very good indicator that the pups' personalities will be friendly and laid back, similar to Marvin's.

We each held the light male pup who snuggled right up to my chest.  
I could tell Spouse really, really wanted the light pup so we agreed to claim him.  He's scheduled for shots on Sun, and we have house guests this weekend, so we agreed to pick up the new little guy on Sun afternoon.

Unless something changes, his name will be Walter Nelson.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Funeral

Spouse & I arrived at the hotel in PA at 5:30 and greeted his mom, sister, and 2 brothers who had arrived a little earlier.  After a brief visit with them, we changed clothes and went to funeral home.  Only this one isn't called a funeral home, its called a Life Celebration Center.  Isn't that sweet?  Its almost cheery enough to make you forget that someone died, only that's the reason you're there.

The viewing was from 6-9pm, and we arrived about 6:15.  There was already a line to view the body (which is always creepy in my opinion) and greet Aunt Antoinette and Uncle Domenic's 2 sons, Anthony and Fiorenzo.  Spouse & I were happy that so many of his cousins came from both near and far.  Several of us visited in the anteroom while those in line paid their respects.  There were several photo collages assembled to showcase Uncle Domenic and those he loved.  A TV in the anteroom ran a slide show of even more photos.

We were impressed with the number of people who came, but I guess we shouldn't have been surprised since Uncle Domenic & Aunt Antoinette went to the same church for many years, had the same neighbors for many years, belonged to the same social groups (including the Sons of Italy) for many years, and were active in their community.  Spouse whispered that some of those who came to the viewing looked as if they could be extras from "The Sopranos".  I whispered back that we were on the set of "My Big Fat Catholic Italian Funeral".  When the line finally subsided at nearly 8:30, we paid our respects and and offered kind words to Aunt Antoinette, Anthony, and Fiory.

Since none of us had eaten dinner, Spouse's mom, sister, and 2 brothers went with us to a Mexican restaurant near our hotel.

The next morning we arrived at the church at 9:45 for the funeral which was supposed to start at 10am.  Spouse's sister sat with us in the back rather than in the front pews reserved for family because Spouse did not want to be 'obvious' about not going up to partake in communion.  We whispered to each other as we saw cousins and their spouses and children arrive, but there was no sign of Aunt Antoinette or Uncle Domenic's coffin.  Spouse asked "What time is it?"  I looked at my silenced phone and responded "10:04."  Without missing a beat Spouse said "Uncle Domenic is going to be late for his own funeral."

This struck me as absolutely hilariously funny and I struggled like Mary Tyler Moore at Chuckles the Clown's funeral to restrain my laughter.  

I usually don't have much in common with Catholic theology but I must say that the Priest's funeral sermon was probably one of the most practical, uplifting, yet sensitive I've ever heard.  He spoke of having talked with Domenic days prior to his death and shared that Domenic was not sad or scared of his imminent death.  According to the Priest Domenic said he'd lived a long and good life, had a wonderful family, and knew that what was waiting for him on the other side was even better.  He was ready to go.  I thought this was likely comforting to those who share his belief in Heaven, and was certainly more personal than just reading archaic Bible verses.  There were likely 150 people there.

After the funeral mass the family and some others went to the cemetery (next to a freeway) for a short reading.  Everyone was handed flowers to place on the coffin.  Fortunately they did not lower the coffin into the grave until everyone had left.  (I remember that horrible detail when my grandmother died many years ago, which I find to be unnecessarily brutal.)  Then we all went to a local restaurant for a luncheon.

A woman named Nancy and her husband were seated at the table with Spouse's mom, sister, cousin, brother, and the 2 of us.  Nancy had met Spouse's mom before, but asked how each of us was related to her.  When it came to me, I said I was her son-in-law.  However, later in the conversation Spouse's sister mentioned that her husband was not here.  Nancy looked back at me and asked "How are you related again?"  My blue eyes and pale complexion made it obvious that I wasn't a blood relative.  I repeated "I'm Evelyn's son-in-law."  Nancy said pointing at Spouse's sister "But her husband isn't here and she's the only daughter, right?"  There was a brief pause and then I said calmly "That's right.  I'm married to him" and pointed to Spouse.  Nancy looked confused.  "You're married?" she asked, to which I responded "Yes..." and smiled.  "Where did you get married?" she asked.  "In our living room" I answered.  "Did you have a Justice of the Peace?" she inquired.  "No, our very good friend was a pastor so he married us." I answered.  Additional questions followed and I began to wonder if the others at the table were getting uncomfortable with this extended inquisition, but I decided to capitalize on the opportunity to share with this 70-something year old Catholic woman how 2 gay men live, love, and marry.

While I'd prefer to never attend another funeral, I can see why many cultures still perpetuate the practice.  To some it provides closure.  It offers family, friends, and neighbors an opportunity to provide comfort.  In our case, it created a non-negotiable date for far-flung family member to return home and share remembrances, commune, laugh, cry.  As I age, I suppose I will have to attend funerals with greater frequency than I have in the past.  Hopefully I'll be seated with more Nancys.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Road trip

Today I am working a 1/2 day (I have a final walk-thru followed by a settlement) and am then coming home to prepare for our road trip.  Spouse has taken the full day off.

We are leaving this afternoon for PA to attend the viewing and funeral of Spouse's uncle Domenic.  He had been in poor health for many years.  The viewing is tonight from 6-9pm and the funeral is tomorrow at 9am.  Uncle Domenic was Spouse's father's brother.  Since he and his wife, Aunt Antoinette, lived in PA we did not see them very often.  Neither of them should be making interstate car trips, and we only made it up to PA a couple times to see them in the last several years.  Fortunately we did attend their big 50th anniversary party a few years back.

Uncle Domenic made a wonderful impression on me the very 1st time I met him and Aunt Antoinette when they were visiting Spouse's parents.  The house was full of relatives and when I referred to him as Domenic he stopped me mid-sentence.  Pointing to the family members in the room he said to me "Hey, all these people call me Uncle Domenic.  In my eyes you are just as much family as they are, so you call me Uncle Domenic too."

Obviously with my family situation (Jehovah's Witnesses who shunned me when I came out), this warm acknowledgement of my place in his family was certainly appreciated.

Spouses's mother, sister, and 2 of his brothers will also be arriving this afternoon for the viewing and tomorrow's funeral.  According to facebook, several of Spouse's cousins have flown in.  Hopefully it will be an occasion to pay our respects but also reconnect and share some happy, upbeat moments too.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering

Today is the 13th anniversary of 9-11-01, the day that changed America.  I still get chills when I recall the events of that day and my personal experience.
  Many innocent people were killed in the World Trade Center attack, the Pentagon attack, and the hijacked airplane that crashed in PA.  Many more were killed trying to help them.  

On that day and the week following it, there were no Democrats or Republicans, no upper-middle class or lower class, no haves or have-nots.  There were just Americans.

Today we pause to remember those people: mothers, fathers, children, husbands, wives, partners, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors.  

Americans. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Showcase

The Blue Moon began hosting a weekly show this summer called Showcase, which gives an opportunity for local talent (singers, dancers, magicians, etc) to be showcased and talk about their musical inspirations, appearance venues, etc.

Knowing that I won the 2011 Rehoboth Idol contest and that I've been a performer in the LEGENDS shows for the last 4 summers, the emcee invited me to be a part of the Showcase.  I asked if there was a theme I should keep in mind when selecting songs, but I was told no.  This was my opportunity to sing what I wanted.  While this may not sound like a big deal, keep in mind that the LEGENDS show is a celebrity tribute show, so I am not performing as myself; I'm impersonating iconic musical legends.  

In costumes.  And sometimes in wigs, hats, and wacky rhinestone glasses.

So I was really excited for this opportunity to pick 3 songs that I love, that mean something to me, and that a part of my musical development over the years.  And sing in my own clothes.  So this is what I sang:
Why do these songs mean something to me?

I've always loved Linda Ronstadt's music, and I have a childhood memory of writing her a letter when I was like 10 or 11, informing her that I had learned all the harmony parts to all the songs on her recent album, and that if 1 of her background singers were to get sick or leave, I would be fully prepared to step in.  Yeah, I was a confident kid.  Linda's technical talent, song choices, and abundant harmonies have always been favorites of mine.

Again, the harmonies sung by the Fifth Dimension attracted me.  I have a childhood memory of playing with Matchbox cars while my mom ironed clothes in the laundry room with the Fifth Dimension playing in the background.  I'm a sucker for torch songs and One Less Bell is about as torchy as they get.  When Spouse & I were removing the wallpaper from the dining room in our 1st house together in 1996 I remember the Fifth Dimension CD playing over and over again while we worked.

I was 14 when I Love the Nightlife hit the disco charts and I especially liked the stylized way Alicia emphasized the word 'action' which sounded like 'ack-Shawn'.  It was a part of the film and soundtrack for "Priscilla: Queen of the Dessert" in 1994.  I picked it because its fun and upbeat, and everyone knows it so they will often sing along. 

It was a great night!