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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blue Boy Needs to Leave the Red State

So we've returned from a lovely night of warm dessert at my cousin's home.  All was good until the Miller beer started flowing over the lips of my step father and my cousin's husband.  Oh boy.  I had to move myself across the room way down by my uncle.  And I did my best to keep him out of their conversation and keep him centered on words with me instead.  I succeeded.  But I glanced over at my LoverBoy when I kept on hearing about our "Muslim President" and his horrible wife....THE worst First Lady ever....how dare she demand that our children can't eat certain foods.  If they want to eat it, they should be able to eat it.  Oh dear. 

And it continued on and on about the Jews, Israel, Saudi Arabia, debt, deficit and the horrible nation that he's allowed to happen.  My ears were on fire.  Redder than ever.  Absolute hate.  Disgust.  They hate, hate, hate our president.  And not just strong dislike.  I mean hate to the core.  It was some of the worst conversation, phrases and words I've heard in person.  It all sounded so mainstream.  So simple, cheap, easy words.  Common phrases and sentences filled with zero depth, no thought.  No educational background, church-driven, fear based.  All fear based. 

I still think it would be much easier if people would simply admit that they are bigots and hate black people.  That would cut right through all of the false rhetoric and straight to what they are actually meaning to say.  Boy Boy Needs to Go Home Now. 

Academy Awards

And the award goes to........all of us.  Each of us.  For what we do each day, for the tasks we do, and what we put up with.  Seriously, I give myself a big old giant gold Academy Award.  And each of you get one too.  For being attentive to those around you, for meeting the needs of those nearby when you can, for being positive and keeping your heads held high.  That's the extend of my Academy Awards.  (Except that I do hope that The King's Speech wins...it's the only movie I've seen in more than a year....)

We're in Boise today and headed back across the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon tomorrow before yet another snowstorm hits later tomorrow and Tuesday.  The trip over was totally uneventful.  Cruised along at 70mph without event.  I'm hoping for the same tomorrow.  It is February, you know.  Snow should be expected. 

Our visit has been different.  Good, nice, but different.  My 15-year-old niece has been diagnosed with Conversion Disorder.  She is no longer able to attend public high school.  She is in Special Education classes.  And you all know what we used to call "those kids" as they arrived in the short bus.  It's not pretty.  She's having a tough time.  She has a hard time speaking, walking, eating, and dressing herself.  And this has all cropped up since January 1.  Life is a real bitch sometimes.  I told her that I loved her and expected her to do her best to get this thing resolved.  They say it's stress related.  My heart is broken.  And hers is too. 

It's funny....returning to the place where you were born and raised.  How the feelings are different, stranger.  How things look smaller, or larger, than you remember.  The feelings are unusual.  We've driven up and down the streets we rode our bicycles on and looked at the house we grew up in.  I did get to enjoy a great evening with a few of my cousins and my aunt.  It's been years...many, many years....since I've been able to enjoy one another.  Tonight we're headed over to another cousin's house for dessert.  No complaints about that. 

And the award goes to.........

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Eagle, Idaho, to be exact.  We're in Mommy's house trying to stay warm.  Our trip from Portland yesterday was uneventful in spite of our (my??) getting all worked up with regard to Interstate 84 road reports for the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon calling for a zillion inches of snow.  Zero snow on the roads.  A few wet spots but nothing that couldn't be wiped up.  And, we're here......

After a delicious homemade cream of potato soup with spinach soup topped with shredded smoked gouda and warmed garlic olive oil, we settled into this warm home filled with good laughs and plenty of giggles.  We haven't been here since November -- if you'll recall we were here in Idaho when LoverBoy's mother passed away.  And now we've walked into an overnight sensation of my 15-year-old niece's newly discovered Conversion Disorder.  She's trying physical therapy, counseling, child psychiatric care and headed toward neurotherapy treatments.  It makes me sad.  And I can't even begin to imagine how it makes my sister, her mother, feel.  Or my own mother, her grandmother.  You know, you just never know what is around the next particular corner of your life.  I'm thankful I (sort of) have the wherewithal to sort things out in my head.  And just when you think things are beginning to get headed in a more positive direction........

Tomorrow night is a family taco bar dinner with my immediate family plus my aunt and cousins and who knows who else.  I seldom get to see any of them so this will definitely be fun.  And today after sister's work, we're taking her to get her very first iPhone 3GS.  She is beside herself (and, no, that doesn't mean there are two of her....).  Mason has made himself right at home with his oversized backyard to run around in and chase the birdies.  He can come and go as he pleases here....without having to be taken on his leash up and down three flights of stairs like we do back at home.  And how could I forget to mention the gun rack filled with more than enough weapons.  We feel right at home. 

So, think of us...would you please.  We always have fun, and we will again.  But this thing with my niece has us both sorting out a lot of things internally.  And for now, The Spirit signs off from Eye-Da-Ho. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Recap

Overwhelmed....to say the least.  My fingers were busy, busy, busy all day yesterday answering text messages, listening to voice mails, hitting "like" on Facebook wall posts, and checking my own blog comments.  I'm exhausted.  You all pulled through like champs.  You definitely made me a happy boy and reminded me of how many people love me and have chosen to include me in their lives.  Thank You!  The Recap includes:
  •  Close to 150 Facebook wall posts.  
  • 35 text messages including one whose predictive text told me "Happy Birthday my DEAD friend" instead of "Dear" friend.  Yikes.  He was not happy.  I laughed.  
  • 10 voice messages -- including one from France!
  • 17 comments on my birthday blog post.  
The highlights of my day:
  • Flying right over the top of Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens on a clear winter morning.
  • Having several of my coworkers and friends buy my dinner and/or lunch treats for me.
  • Having numerous passengers tell me "Happy Birthday."
  • Reading through my cards when I arrived home by myself.  
  • Spotting a dark chocolate bar and yummy candle on the counter when I arrived home.
  • Watching a flock of geese fly over the top of me while I walked Mason.
  • The winter sunshine as I watched the long shadows of the day begin to form.  
  • Getting home and seeing my LoverBoy and Pooch!
  • Checking out a super nifty evening sunset to put my day to rest in fine fashion--thanks Mindy! 
  • Eating ice cream and Sun Chips.
Thanks to all of you for your friendship, love and commitment to me.  I love you all dearly.

Friday, February 18, 2011

49 and Counting

No, seriously--honestly--I'm turning 49 today or tomorrow, depending when you're reading.  I know, I know....nobody believes us when we say we're "39, 49, 59, 69...."  They always think we're skirting the reality of our humanity.  But, honestly, I am turning 49 tomorrow.  February 19, 1962.  The day before John Glenn orbited the earth.  I received my first AARP card in the mail a few weeks back.  I swear I thought they waited until you were turning 50.  I perused the possibility of receiving some sort of discounts at a casino or a free piece of pie at Denny's but decided to toss it in the rubbish bin. 

Some days it feels like I've learned a little something in my life.  Other days, I wouldn't count on my knowing anything.  There are days I feel like I'm on top of the world and other times that I feel like I should return to the starting point in my life and give it another go.  I began 2011 with this list of commitments to my own life.  Some are going better than others.  I'm grateful to be alive and thankful for all of my many friends who keep me going and put up with my shortcomings.  But I'm most thankful for my partner who has endeared himself to me over the years.  And who has easily taught me how to endear myself to him.  He is nothing short of life's greatest blessing. I cannot imagine this life without him. 

Today, I do what I've done for a few years now....post my mobile number for the masses to use....for a short time.  I know, I know....call me crazy.  I'd love a text or voice message or picture.  But please remember to tell me who it is so that I'll know who the message is from.  I've heard from so many of you on my birthday for several years now.  I can't wait to see how many messages I can get this year.  So, here you go, use me and abuse me for today only -- XXXXXXXX.  

And because it's my birthday, I get to do what I want.  And what I want is for the world to be a nicer and better place to exist.  I want for world peace, but who doesn't.  I want sick people to be healed.  I want mean people to go away....and the crazy people too.  That's all I want.  Easy, simple, doable.   Oh, and I want a piece of birthday cake too.....with ice cream. 

Thanks to you all for making my birthday, and this world, a much better place to be in.  I love you all dearly.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Favorite Times of the Year

And this is one of them.  I love that mid-February feeling, especially in Portland.  I've already spotted crocus in bloom and buds in some bushes.  And the pink trees along the Willamette River in downtown will be in bloom within a week or so.  Those are the first signs of late winter, early spring to me.  The grocery stores now have primrose and pansies stacked in front of them....perfect for pairing with kale in a pot near a front door.  It is still cold, but not below freezing like much of the rest of the country.  I like it here.  It feels comfortable. 

Plus, there's Valentine's Day.  Tomorrow.  Valentine's Day was my due date when Mommy was pregnant with me.  Alas, I needed five additional days of sweetening up in the pot before she pushed me out.  And, unfortunately, the five extra days didn't do a damned thing for sweetening me up.  At.  All.  I like having my birthday at this time of year. 

We are heading to Boise next week on another of our pilgrimage road trips back to Idaho for a family visit.  We're planning a big combination Birthday/Valentine's Day/Niece's Birthday gathering while we're there.  We do have to traverse the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon as we move along Interstate 84....but, honestly, the winters have just not been what they used to be years ago as far as snow, cold, ice and all of that.  We always enjoy our road trips. 

Tomorrow our taxes get done.  Like clockwork.  It's a little complicated nowadays what with our registered Oregon Domestic Partnership and all of that.  It requires extra pieces of paperwork to be completed.  And of course, the benefits that we get in our own state don't apply on a federal level.  Grrr.  But it always feels good to have them done for the year.  And it goes without saying that it feels good to have the extra cash back in my own pocket! 

So, it's easy for you to see why this is one of my most Favorite Times of the Year. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Today I've been furnished with a reminder.  I was going to say a "gentle reminder" but it's really not at all gentle.  This was in my inbox today:

"....Your method for picking friends is odd. It's hard to get a kick out of you when you don't let me. It's also odd how much alike we are. ( I can tell by your interests, and I dearly love your partner). You hurt people sometimes though. Do you care? Just wondering." 

Lordy, the truth hurts sometimes.  I guess there are mirrors in our lives for a reason.  You'll excuse me while I turn inward for a bit.  I've got some reflection to do. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

No Wonder Grandma Always Smelled So Good

You just never know how things are going to come together, or how the stars may just line up for you on any given day. Like when one sits down to write and express. I started to tell a coworker about my grandmother one day. We got to chatting about fancy air freshener sprays which reminded me of my grandmother. And that thought turned into another, and that one into yet another. And before I knew it, I had a whole sheet of ideas on my Grandmother.

Grandma and Grandpa moved from Ohio to Ontario, Oregon, around the tail end of the 1920s or 1930. My father was born in 1931 in Ontario. I know that Grandpa was an alcoholic and died of stomach cancer in 1965. Grandma went to work after that. For 90 cents an hour as an assistant at a nursing home. She retired 20 years later making $2.90 per hour. They lived in an old farm house on the outskirts of Ontario. Grandma tells me the story of getting herself all prettied up one day and walking into town to ask the businessman in town about the possibility of actually buying that house...for $4,000. With a single stove for heat. And they did buy it. That's where many of my early memories of Grandma took place. I remember her teeny tiny little black and white television with the rabbit ear antenna. And her black telephone up on the far south wall in the kitchen. I remember her telephone number to this day. I remember the day that the big old giant barn behind her house caught on fire thanks to my own father while he was just trying to burn down a few weeds near the barn. I remember all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins being piled into her small farmhouse kitchen eating on Sundays after church. Chicken and dumplings sticks in my mind for some reason. I remember the first time that my mom had to explain to me what a dumpling was. She never drove until after my Grandfather passed away. Then she bought herself a red Ford Comet that stayed with her until she drove no longer. She made her own clothes -- in fact, she had very few store-bought clothes. And it was all dresses, never trousers on Grandma....the church wouldn't approve. And she never wore jewelry except for her cameo necklace with Grandpa's picture in it and her wristwatch. The church wouldn't approve of jewelry. I would lay awake late at nights listening to a little black AM transistor radio -- KSRV was the station. I looked it up in the telephone book, found the address, and asked Grandma to drive me in the red Comet out to see where KSRV was located....to see where the little voices on the radio were coming from. I also asked her to drive me out to the Ontario airport so I could take a look. There was about as much there way back then as there is today.

And then she decided to leave the big farm house. She, my mom, and I went trailer shopping. They are called manufactured homes today. But this one was a trailer. A single wide. For $5,400. And she lived in that for many years and sold it for $5,200. I think that's where I remember bologna sandwiches on white potato bread (with butter for me, since I thought mayonnaise was the work of the devil just the same way I still believe today). And we'd wash it down with Cragmont cream soda from Safeway. Very often, I'd ride the Trailways bus from Boise to Ontario on Friday evenings. It would leave Boise at 5:30pm and arrive in Ontario at 7:30pm. And Grandma would be waiting for me, sitting in her car next to the Assembly of God church while the bus pulled in.

But the thing that got this whole piece started was when I was chatting with the coworker about good smelling air freshener sprays. Which reminded me of Grandma. You see, I would sneak into Grandma's bathroom when she lived in the trailer house and lock the door and start going through her medicine cabinet. And she had this pretty little can way up on the top shelf. I'd spray it in the air because it smelled good. And it should have. It was Grandma's F.D.S. spray.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Dog-Gone It

So, yeah, some days I think we're further down this trail of actually living in the year 2011 than others. Some days I think we're still living in the Dark Ages, the Stone Age, when things were rough, tough and horrible. But this is, indeed, the year 2011. When we are supposed to respect others. When we are supposed to draw attention to living and enjoying life. Being productive and progressive. And then the wind gets knocked out of our sails........

About 100 Husky dogs were slaughtered execution style in British Columbia last spring. After all of the hoopla and money surrounding the Olympic tourism died down and the visitors all returned home. Outdoor Adventures in Whistler, BC, is in a bit of trouble. As they should be. Their website makes note of the fact that they have suspended dog sledding for the time being. They ordered one of their employees to shoot 100 dogs and to dispose of them. And he did, to preserve his job. The investigators are now digging up the mass grave to continue in their investigation -- to decide if the dogs were even dead when they were placed into the grave. Rumors have it that at least some were still alive and clamoring to get out of the giant hole they were put into. And I love the part in the Outdoor Adventures Environmental web page where they talk about how much attention they give to recycling, that they are a carbon-neutral company, and that they are an "industry leader in stewardship and sustainability." Really? Really? Bullshit. I'm so sick of coverups and corporate crap. Fancy websites mean nothing if you've just ordered the shooting of 100 beautiful dogs to profit your bottom line.

Here is the Press Section of the Outdoor Adventures website attempting to explain how they were really trying to make this whole operation come off in a pretty, healthy, happy way....only killing the dogs that were "too old, sick, or not adoptable." What? You were employing dogs that were old and sick? Ugh. Oh, and the website also says that the company is "shocked and appalled" at the accusations. Umm hum, I'll just bet that they are. And here is an editorial by The Province journalist Jon Ferry.

You're worthless. Zeros. Nothings. I will speak up for the dogs any day over you. Our world is a mess. We're upside down, good looks bad and bad appears good. And now we're minus 100 beautiful, amazing and charming creatures in this world. Makes me so proud to be a human being living here on planet earth.

Friday, February 04, 2011

If You Have But One Life to Lead, Why Not Live It As a Blond?

Tell me, are you a blond? Brunette? Are there intrinsic, appointed qualities, behaviors behind one's coloring? How about what a blond would wear? Or how they smell? Or what their bellybuttons look like. I'm at the tail end of My Lives by Edmund White when I came to page 294 and his expose on being blond:

"....Everyone in America liked blonds and wanted to be one. 'If you have but one life to lead, why not live it as a blond?' was a Clairol ad of the day. Blonde women were sexy and dumb; blond men were intelligent and masterful. Blonds had downy hair on their arms, a shock of cotton candy under each arm, skin that was poreless and smooth as old percale and rubbery with youth, cool feet and warm chests, beards that came in late and heads that went bald early. Even their balding was patrician. Blonds were rare, pure; their necks and foreheads burned and their arms became amber brown under a dust of gold shavings. They looked good in pink or pale green linen, faded blue denim, their tanned feet sockless and sinewy in old, high polished loafers. Blond men were tenors. They had no smell or only the smell of cold lake water. They inspired love, not lust. Their best look was classic, not contemporary. They looked good in camel's hair overcoats, blue blazers, frayed but expensive old Oxford shirts, machine-washed sneakers, an inherited gold signet ring. They should never wear Speedo's, just baggy old swimsuits. Their bellybuttons, optimally, were outies as neat as a child's ear. Their lips should be slightly chapped, sore and pink and unkissable. They should dance badly, self-consciously and seldom. Their bodies should look better in clothes than out of them. During long periods they should not follow the conversation. They are idols and should accept it. An idol doesn't converse...."

Wow. I had no idea. But then again, I'm not blond.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Jesus People

Well, now that I'm on a roll about exciting, entertaining passengers I may as well toss you another bone of laughter from my recent travels.

You remember the Jesus People....right? I do. They were alive and well during my early, formative church years. Well, don't tell anyone, but I think I saw them today. In a new, fresh updated style for the year 2011. They appeared in rows 16, 17 and 18 headed to the rich, white, Republican land of Orange County. Perhaps that will explain the entire story that I'm about to tell you. And you already know how I feel about that sterile mecca. Scattered about the rows like the violent storm on the Sea of Galilee. Daddy, Mommy, the Nanny and six little kiddies. Well, there was actually a seventh child at home which I found out via an overheard conversation. Seven children. For god's sake. I immediately thought Mormon or Catholic. But I don't think it was either. I'm thinking big evangelical church. A happy-go-lucky sort of compound where there are giant screens to put the words to the hymns on along with a praise band and fancy wireless Madonna-style microphones on the pastors.

Daddy caught my eye. Perhaps it was the intense butchness of his persona that attracted me. Or perhaps it was his closely-trimmed beard with just an edge of gingerish red to it. Or perhaps it was the look that I've seen from straight men in the past when they are ushered into that uncomfortable lair of whirled up, rainbow-colored gayness. The look of "Are you gay?" The look of "Don't you even think of coming near my children." You know, trying to read me. Harsh, cold and rigid. But I think that the dead giveaway that they were the Jesus People reincarnated was their set of matching t-shirts. Each one had them. Bright, pretty sky blue in color. With their last name in large letters across the shoulders and a scripture below that: "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Oh boy, the cameras were flashing pictures of one another; the kiddies were running around like the Disciples when Jesus entered the room. Coloring books, crayons, iPods, Hello Kitty backpacks. And Bibles. Oh yeah, Mommy was reading one. She probably needed to with seven children. I know I would. And, you know, they were not much more than 40 or 45. With seven tax deductions! I'm estimating an annual tax savings of about $7,000 ($1,000 per child) for the little rugrats. Maybe I'll start having children.

And there was what I originally thought was the oldest child. A girl. Maybe 18 or 20, pretty, blonde, and clearly removed, distant, from the rest of the family. Headphones on. Singing the words to our airline's boarding music.....Drops of Jupiter by Train. Cool song. But for a church girl? Maybe that's the way they do things nowadays. But when I was in church, there was no crossover between the spiritual and the secular. There is no way we'd be singing a song of the devil. And then she stands up and it all becomes clear when I see the "Super Nanny" distinction blazoned across her back with the scripture following. She's the nanny in this family overrun with children. No wonder she had her headphones on.

Amen and Praise the Lord.