* * * My Words, My World, My Way * * *

Please Write: ALewisPDX@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Long Shadows Fall

The long shadows stretch their way across the nearly frozen earth. Most all of the myriad of trees are devoid of the frilly leaves attached by a thread to their branches during much of the year. The longest day of the year has just passed. And we've got a blue moon tomorrow -- on the very last day of 2009. Ominous and fun.

Call me crazy if you must, but I enjoy this time of year. The color of the sky is such an unusual one. (Well, that's if the sky in Portland is ever anything except for gray...which I also get into.) The blue is a quiet blue. A peaceful and unobtrusive blue. A winter sort of pale blue. There are birds, but few. We do have many flocks of beautiful geese who winter here by the hundreds. I love knowing that they are safe and able to rest here with us in this season of cold and delight. Delightfully barren. I think I also enjoy this time of year because so many other people don't. I tend to migrate toward the underdog in that way many times. The lesser known or enjoyed is often the one I gravitate toward.

It snowed about three inches across our city yesterday afternoon. It was Portland's first measurable snow of the season and created nothing but trouble. Portland is just that way. Some years (last year!) we had about 20 inches on the ground right now. And some years we have zero. It looks like the winter wonderlands that are scripted in fantasy poems, songs, plays and books. I like it when things are asleep. Quiet. In resolve. Peaceful. Contemplative. And that's the way I see winter. Especially this portion when the nights seem to stretch on forever and the warming rays of the sun are not seen nor felt. I was staring at the one of the trees outside of our window just this morning -- watching how the dark, barren branches simply hang. Nothing to do but recuperate from a long growing season. Resting up for next season. For the next big hurrah of their lives. In fact, they aren't made to keep going, to always have leaves on their branches. They are designed to regenerate and recreate each season.

Me too. Happy Fresh New Year my friends. To each of us.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

The ghosts of Christmas past have visited again. I've just returned from Mason's walk along Fremont Street -- right alongside the Rose City Cemetery in Northeast Portland. It's not unusual for me to stare through the fence at the grave stones...thinking and wondering....I'm just that kind of guy. And tonight is deliciously cold. Perfectly clear with a strong possibility of fog. I checked out the stars above and I always take a moment to enjoy the amazing color of the sky after the sun has set.

And we're alone, Mason and I, until hubby arrives in a few hours from his working trip. And it's not unusual for me to be reflective during alone times. I've been considering the many Christmas Eves, year after year, that we spent at my grandmother's home in south Boise along with every other possible family member living nearby. There would be about 30 of us complete with a table of sliced ham for sandwiches, potato salad, a giant green salad with Fritos on it, and baked beans. Great Aunt Ruth would have made what seemed like a million Santa Claus cookies for each person. And my father would drive us slowly through downtown Boise on the trip back home -- so that we could look at the department store windows with their displays and decorations. Christmas morning would find us in our pajamas, cavorting and frolicking around the living room and tree. My mother always having prepared a special holiday breakfast for us. I swear, my parents took the best care of us. I miss my dad on days like this. And I am highly aware of the nearing of the end of my mother's life. It makes me sad. I miss those days.

But tonight, happily, my lover will be home -- in the city and home that we love. We may go to our favorite late-night Christmas Eve service at a beautiful old church in downtown Portland complete with top-notch organ music and followed by everyone going outside onto the nearly-deserted streets to sing Christmas carols at midnight. Mason will be with us, of course. And tomorrow brings ten of our favorite friends and family over to share the holiday with us. We'll dine on spiral sliced ham, roasted pork tenderloin, brussel sprouts roasted with walnuts, garlic green beans, scalloped potatoes, and some delicious dessert. And it will be all better. The ghosts will be gone. Until some other memory prompts their soon return to my head.

Merry Christmas -- to friends and loved ones -- those we see frequently and those who we may never have the opportunity to meet. For those who put up with me, for those who love me and have stood next to me, I thank you. I wish you the best Christmas ever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where In the World Is the Cheer?

Is there any particular reason why I'm short $300 that I didn't have to spend in the first place in only a few short hours this morning? Oh yeah, groceries, a ham for Christmas, trip to Target and the liquor store. I've been on a very long six-day trip which set me down in such faraway ports as Los Angeles, Seattle multiple times, San Diego, Denver, and Dallas. I have today off, and then work the next three. And today is totally filled with errands, shopping (alas, I'm minus the aforementioned funds), we have appointments the remainder of the day and I work tomorrow. I haven't read any blogs in a week. I haven't posted here in a week. I haven't been to yoga in months. The gym hasn't seen my sweat in numerous months, either. My presence on Facebook has been pretty limited -- umm, except for that little post on Saturday evening about my watching the Glenn Beck Christmas Special on Fox News. Yeah, bitch, there's a good time. My sleep is fitful. I've been having headaches for several months now. I'm wondering why not everyone who is invited to Christmas dinner RSVPs when they are asked too -- I mean, if I'd been invited to a free Christmas dinner, I'd respond...right? I have a bad attitude and really don't have much cheer in my stocking. I've been trying to drum up some yummy childhood memories to relive with you here. But, they just aren't there. Nothing is coming to me. So, that's it. Merry Christmas for those celebrating. Well, it's Christmas anyway -- whether you celebrate it or not, really.

PS -- I haven't even brushed my teeth or taken a shower today and have been out in public! It's now 1pm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

SoCals Vocals Ramp It Up

My fellow good-friend-o-blogger buddy David over at Someone In a Tree has a cousin participating in NBC's television show The Sing Off! airing tonight through Friday. I just watched a trailer for the show -- it made me feel so good, so alive, so energized. I haven't even heard of the show until now. But I can tell you that I will be watching.

From my limited understanding, the SoCals need to end up in the finals on Wednesday in order for television audience members to be able to vote for them for the Friday finale. Obviously, David and his family have a giant stake in this deal. So, check it out, would you please? No orchestra, no instruments, no karaoke. Just hot vocals by a bunch of fired-up folks in this world of lackluster television shows and blah. I hope you'll take time to watch in your busy schedules.

My Christmas Wish List

I've just discovered what I want for Christmas. How could I have overlooked it? I'm registered at Target if you're interested.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We Dun Been Ta Church......

We Dun Been Ta Church..... having experienced an energetic Portland tradition last night for the first time, we joined our good friends Alex and Paul at the Oregon Symphony's Gospel Christmas program at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland. What a great time of year to be in any city's downtown area -- with the shoppers, sparkling cold winter nights, and everyone in warm coats, stylish hats, and finger-warming gloves made in China.

We stopped first for Happy Hour at another place we'd not been to yet (you'd think we lived under a rock, for god's sake). Saucebox. A very trendy, cool place filled with sexy wait staff in black t-shirts. Sweet potato spring rolls, spicy cold Chinese noodles, onion burgers, and edamame. Oh, and liquid too -- Sidecars! Then it was off for a leisurely stroll up Portland's trademark downtown street....Broadway. Past the historic Benson Hotel and it's annual giant Christmas gingerbread house and pretty lobby tree, through Nordstrom for expensive lip balm for dry cracked winter lips worn out from kissing, into Banana Republic where I did my best to chat up a nice young salesman, a breeze through Columbia Sportswear's flagship store in which I found no shortage of expensive things I wanted, a quick stop for dessert at Flying Elephant's Deli where I looked for my friend Stephen, and finally to the concert hall.

What the concert lacked in traditional Christmas-type music, it more than made up for in its energy and enthusiasm. The hundred or so vocalists are from quite a number of local churches and provided a performance that would rock anybody's world. They've been doing this with the Oregon Symphony for 11 years now. It was filled with the spice that lacks in many of the circles that I run in -- good old fashioned gospel Christmas music complete with hand-raising, foot-stomping, and worshiping. Praising and hand waving and standing up in appreciation and honor. It was clear that the four of us gays were like fish out of water. Although I did spot a few other typically Portland types -- sort of au natural, funky-hat-wearing, gray-haired, Subaru-driving, recycling sort of folks. I kept saying to myself, "I love this concert but I don't really fit in with the audience." Weird, but true. Everyone looked conservative. And I had to stop counting the number of fake-blonde-bottle-jobs I saw (are their any white women that don't have their hair colored nowadays??). I kept overhearing people around us talking about "praying for this or that," or "what a good job the Lord gave me." And the cross! The giant gold cross that gentle nestled itself between the aging breasts of the mid-50s woman in the top, center row of the chorus -- it kept catching the rays of spotlights just so and beaming itself right into my eye. But I'm just that way. I like things that are out of my element or activities that I'm not typically a part of. Sort of expanding my four walls in that way. It's good for us. To see how the other side lives.

So, it was a blast. A wild, rockin' explosive time of blues combined with gospel backed up with a full symphony and all done in a holiday sort of way.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Multnomah Falls Frozen!

What a day. We've had below-freezing temperatures for many days now. It's been clear, ultra cold, and a bit unusual for us. After my morning turn to Orange County, we headed east out of Portland up I-84 to Multnomah Falls. It's just up a ways past one of my favorite clothing-optional beaches (Rooster Rock), about 20 miles east of us up the Columbia River. The falls are one of the highest in the US. And right now, they're frozen! In fact, there were many such areas along the shear cliffs as we drove along. Amazing views. If you have never been here, it definitely needs to be on your list. And you wouldn't believe how many photographers were out there -- it was at least as busy as a summer day. Enjoy the pictures here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

To The Man

Today, we mark our 12th Anniversary. (Well, it could be tomorrow, depending on when you're reading this.) Maybe you remember last year's post. Or the 2007 version. Or the one from 2006. December 9, 1997, as we both stood in the dog food aisle of a since-torn-down Safeway in downtown Portland I asked him "If this thing was going to work out between us." And he said YES! Not a church wedding, no pretty gowns showing off our perky breasts, or little mints on the tables. No crepe paper nor roses. And no guest list, nor gifts to bring. None of that. Just a Safeway store. With him. And me. And now Mason.

I've been a tough nut to live with, there's no doubt about that. He's put up with my pickiness and "requirements." Oh boy. I have failed him in more ways that I'd care to admit. I seldom walk the dog. I have a bad attitude sometimes and I get crabby and irritated easily. I've said things to him that I regret -- those words sometimes escape my lips before I have time to stop them. I've behaved poorly. I've had moments of indiscretion and such. I've said "No" when I should have said "Yes" and vice versa. I've rolled my brown eyes and I've sighed heavily. We've had many a sleepless night and early morning. The tiredness has sometimes gotten the best of us. I've cried many times -- and he not so much. I've griped and bitched and moaned from time to time. And I have even used the "F" word in anger....imagine that. I've made him feel uncomfortable and out of place and I've taken advantage of his good-natured spirit.

And still he loves me. And I love him. Dearly in both directions. Our life together has evolved. And our individual lives have changed as well. We are older, more gray, more crinkly -- and the hours of time have marched across our faces. We are a bit less carefree, unfortunately. We've seen death and new life. And we've lived in numerous homes in Anchorage and Portland.

To the man who has shown me how to be a better person, more filled with life and spirit than I could ever have imagined, I say thank you. I love you. And I am more than happy to be living out my limited days on this planet with you. Would you accept my love, today and tomorrow? Would you accept my apologies for the times I've hurt you? Hold my hand, would you, as we continue down this road? I love you. That's all. And that's enough. Happy Anniversary.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Portland City Views

Our last few days have taken us out to all parts of our super cool amazing city. It's been clear, very cold, and windy. A nice way to begin the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

If I Were a Carpenter

If I were a Carpenter, and you were a lady....... No, wait a minute.....I only was pretending to be a Carpenter. Karen, that is. In spite of the fact that I was painfully, youthfully, enamored with sexy Richard. Who wouldn't be? Seriously. In that skin-tight white suit. And delicious high thick-soled shoes. And the feathered hair. Umm.

The year was 1974. I had done nothing but wear additional grooves into my copy of The Singles 1969-1973 -- Richard and Karen Carpenter's album....certainly you remember, don't you? The brown covered one with the gold lettering? I still have it. And I have the piano music book too....tattered and worn like a bad girl in a cheap Winnemucca whore house. I got a copy of the record (that's what they used to be called, my dear youngsters....) when it came out. And the song book came shortly thereafter. I was in the height of my glory when I had that music in front of me at the piano. I was quick to discover that I did not have Richard's piano skills, nor Karen's drumming skills. But I thought I could give Karen a pretty good run for her money on the vocals. And so, I tried. Regularly. Say, like, every afternoon after school. No one would be home after school for some reason. My parents had a Magnavox console stereo -- which I had to dust on Saturday mornings while armed with a can of Pledge and my mother's dust rag which was always neatly shaken out and folded and resting just-so on top of the Pledge can. I would high-tail it home, lock the doors, and hit it. I'd turn up that record as loud as I could get the (now) cheap and old fashioned stereo speakers to go. I wouldn't only pretend to be Karen Carpenter....I would actually BE Karen Carpenter. The vocal runs up and down the scales -- she and I would race through the likes of We've Only Just Begun, Rainy Days and Mondays, and (of course) Top of the World. There was just no limit to what I could accomplish when I combined my innate vocal skills with the Magnavox and The Carpenter's album. Oh, and the kitchen spoon too. I had to have a giant kitchen spoon as my microphone. I sang into that bad boy like nobody's business.

So, 1974 rolls around and two girls in my church invited me to go with them to see The Carpenters at the (then) Boise State College Gymnasium. I swear, I was beside myself with giddiness. Until the afternoon of the scheduled concert when they cancelled "because Karen was sick." I could say that I cried. But that wouldn't be appropriate. I bawled. And bawled. I was 12 years old, mind you. In Idaho. By all rights, I should have been helping someone plow the fields, castrate the cattle, or picking potatoes in the field. But, no, I was bawling because The Carpenters cancelled their concert. The good news is that the concert was reschedule a few weeks later and I did go. Ahh. Delight. Karen in a long, flowing pale yellow dress....ankle length, wrist-length sleeves. She glided back and forth while Richard sat at the piano in the aforementioned white Angel's Flight sort of suit. I still remember it fondly. Gayly.

I'd like to tell you that my love affair with The Carpenter's went by the wayside. Alas, it continues its strange little perverse grip on me. I think it's because that was such a formative period of time for me and that I was in such a position of discovery then. We have yanked that piano book out of its storage in the piano bench more than once in our nearly 12 years together. Combine that with a bottle or two of Chardonnay and you've got a perfect recipe for a night of fun and frolic. I remember one such evening with several friends, even, when we sang the entire album. Shh, don't tell anyone, please. They may get the wrong impression of me....as if the impression they already have isn't bad enough. I mean, hey, I just wanted to be a Carpenter.