Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Greetings

Some Holiday Photos

We had a little get together the Sunday before Christmas - just coffee, tea, eggnog, wine and lots of cookies and snack food.  I was determined to take pictures during the party.  But, as usual, I got so busy eating, talking, flitting around like a butterfly, that I totally forgot to use my camera.  These pics were taken before guests arrived.

We spent a very quiet Christmas Eve.  After a long hike with the dog we drove to Litchfield and stopped for lunch @the Corner.  We had a very pleasant and leisurely lunch and Dottie joined us for coffee and dessert.  She took our picture.  We went home and watched Netflix for the rest of the evening.
It makes me happy to know that after nearly 25 years, Leon and and still enjoy each other's company and can share these simple times together. 

We went to my brother and sister-in-law's for Christmas dinner and Leon snapped a photo of me and my sister and brother.  I realized that we have no photos of the three of us together so this was a rare occasion - the three of us happened to be sitting on the same sofa.
Me and My Sibs - MaryAnn and Mike
We had a wicked snowfall the other day - six inches of water-logged snow which we ended up shoveling mostly by hand because the snowblower we have is crap.  Has been ever since we purchased it 5 years ago.  Snow melts and gets into the belt drive which then slips and sometimes overheats to the point that it smokes.  The machine also never cleaned the snow well, usually spitting it out haphazardly and not even getting down to the asphalt.

Leon, after having it "repaired" several times at outrageous  expense, decided to matters into his own hands.  He went out and bought new belts and we went on YouTube to find a repair video - which of course we found.  Leon is handy like that anyway, and in a pinch, I can tackle a mechanical repair if needed.
Leon Being Butch
This Is The Worst Machine We've Ever Owned
So we took the snowblower apart and replaced the belts.  Leon put weatherstripping tape around the belt housing to help keep snow-melt from getting the belts wet.

Me, Trying To Be Butch
Got it all back together and tested it out on yesterday's six-inch snowfall.  Leon was happy.  Said it has never worked better - even when new or after the many trips to the dealer for repairs and adjustments.

Sorry, no photos of snow-blowing...been there, done that.

Last night we were invited for dinner at Dottie's.  Dottie is a friend we met about a year and a half ago at the doggie park.  Her dog, Katja and our Benni are in love.  Dottie is vegetarian and she wanted to cook us a meal to demonstrate how good it can be.

Dottie has a very nice open concept home which she designed and furnished with her very unique style.  She loves stone and granite and contemporary furnishings. She even made her own acrylic dining room table.
Dottie, Cooking in Her Unique Kitchen 
Here is dinner - or part of it.  We also had a nice salad, and tofu and baked apples for desert.  Everything was delicious.   Note the beautiful stone/granite/marble counter top on the right.
Tempeh and Vegetables over Angel Hair Pasta
We had a real nice evening, eating, chatting and being molested by Katja who couldn't understand why Benni didn't come with us.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Here is a Christmas Album with renditions of Silent Night, O Holy Night, The First Noel. Voices, and True Blue Miracle by one of my favorite singers, my niece, Andrea DeFrancesco.

I wish it had a video of her performing, but you get to see her album art which is by a another talented young artist, her cousin Michael Ryczek who has a very cool blog and who sells his paintings on his web site here.

Please take a moment to visit Andrea's YouTube site and Michael's websites and let them know what you think of their music and art.

I'm going to take a little break from posting on the blog - unless something happens that compels me to post or unless I get inspired to write something meaningful or brilliant (not likely).  You guys whose blogs I list on the sidebar do a great job of keeping us informed about all that's gay in the world, so I trust that no one will miss my musings.

So here's wishing you all a great couple of weeks of holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pope's Audience With Uganda MP's

Read an interesting analysis of the recent papal audience with Ugandan parliamentary speaker over at Enlightened Catholicism 

This has been covered in the gay blogosphere during the past week, but not in any depth.  Coleen gives a broader picture based on the Vatican Insider explanation of the controversial meeting.  Her connecting Uganda's parliamentary agenda to US oil interests is a new twist.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Heart Wrenching News Here in Connecticut

Prayers interspersed with outrage and deep sadness at the senseless tragedy that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14, 2012.
It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the deaths of the little children and the adults who were killed and extend our sincere condolences to their families, loved ones and community.  Words cannot be found that fully express our sorrow.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Supreme Court to Hear Prop 8 and DOMA Arguments

Supreme Court to Hear Prop 8 and DOMA Arguments

Read the article on the Scotus Blog above link, probably the horse's mouth in this case.  Sounds very legal and iffy.  Sounds a little like the Supremes are trying to wiggle their way out of making any real Constitutional decisions.

And here's a link to the Prop8Tracker blog.

Any other insights?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Palace - A Netflix Recommendation

For those of you who enjoyed Downton Abbey and Upstairs/Downstairs and other such English TV programmes, here is one for you:  The Palace.

The Palace is a British TV series about a fictional contemporary young prince who assumes the throne when papa dies.  The somewhat untraditional English monarch Richard tries to do everything with honesty and openness, but is constantly challenged by events and the schemes devised by both the royals, their trusted staff and the help.

The series is an interesting and entertaining look at a somewhat anachronistic institution.  There is only one season, but Leon and I sat through nearly the whole season one recent rainy afternoon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

How To Survive A Plague Part 2

Just got in from the local showing of How To Survive A Plague.  The film was powerful, moving, artful, and dare I say nostalgic documentary of the history of Act Up and the challenges and achievements of the early AIDS activists.  A few times both Leon and I had moist eyes - seeing the courage of young men with AIDS putting themselves on the line, getting arrested in non-violent demonstrations and standing up to "authority".

One of the most poignant segments was the demonstration in front of the White House where loved ones and friends tossed the ashes of the dead over the fence onto the White House lawn.  I don't remember this protest being reported by the news at the time, but then the media did not view AIDS activism as very sexy or having mass appeal.

Of course most of the footage was before High Def, so the images are often grainy and the audio not always audible.  Subtitles were used in a few cases where it was difficult to make out what was being said.  But despite this, the film was very well done, well edited and kept us engrossed for two hours.

My only disappointment was that there were only about 28 people at the showing - on a college campus.  There were no faculty members, and almost no one from the local community.  I didn't see anyone from the local AIDS or gay organizations or the local or state health departments or any of the activists I worked with back in the eighties and nineties.  The turnout was pathetic.  But AIDS is so off everyone's radar now, that people are comfortably apathetic.

History is so important - especially this kind of history - real people living, dying, fighting to make a difference for those who now have the benefit of their activism and courage.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How To Survive A Plague - Showing at CCSU


Speaking of Health Care, the 1980's was a decade of health care challenges and health education challenges.  If you are in or near New Britain, Connecticut on Monday, December 3rd at 6 PM be sure to catch the showing of the film, How To Survive A Plague.   The documentary about AIDS and activism in  the 1980's promises to be a powerful historical statement and hopefully will engender a renewed interest in fighting for Health Care Justice in America.

As a footnote:  I am convinced that it was the AIDS epidemic that forced many gay men out of the closet to become activists that gave the LGBT equality movement new impetus and helped move it forward.  It also slowly changed the direction of Gay Liberation away from the exciting and freeing experimentation of the 1970's and toward a more "conservative" position that would like to portray us gays as "the new normal" including permanent/long term (monogamous) marriages and families with children.

While this normalization is probably inevitable, we, as sexual minorities, must never let our guard down, because ultimately "they" - the so called "straight" world, the religious fundamentalists of all stripes and those who believe they are morally superior  WILL NEVER GET IT.   As Bob from I Should Be Laughing recently pointed out in a repost, even our closest friends can turn on us when faced with the prospect that our relationships are equal to theirs. Believe me THEY WILL NEVER GET IT.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fly on the Wall in the Oval Office on November 29, 2012

Mittsy: Oh, Barackie, can I sit in the Chair?

President Obama:  Please don't call me Barackie.  Only Michelle can call me Barackie.  And NO, you cannot sit it the Chair.

Mittsy: Oh, come on, Barack, no one will know.  We're behind closed doors.  It's been my dream.  That's the only reason I accepted your invitation.  Please, please, pretty please.

President Obama:  Look, Mitt.  I won, and the Chair is mine and I can't let you sit in it.  But if you must, I'll just stand over here and give you a minute or two to TALK TO IT.  You and Clint can compare notes.

Mittsy:  Oh, Barack, you are cruel.  Are you sure that the turkey chili we're having for lunch isn't made with crow?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adventures in Health Care - My Liver

I hope that this topic does not become a regular feature here at RR.  At my age, anything is possible however.

Back in September of 2010, while vacationing in Provincetown, I had an annoying discomfort just below my right ribcage.   I had experienced this before and the discomfort always went away within a few days and wouldn't recur for months.  Out of sight out of mind, so to speak.  When it wasn't bothering me, I didn't give it a thought.

This was all pretty much according to my philosophy: if you wait a while, generally three months, the pain or ache or whatever goes away.   Like when I threw that rock out of the garden one day and my right shoulder kind of went "crunch".  I don't know if it was a sprain, or what, because I never got it looked at.  For a while I had to bring my left hand to the assistance of my right arm - just to hang my bathrobe on a hook.  I waited three months.  It got a little better, but not much.  I waited another three months.  It would get a bit better, then worse.  Well, it took about two years more and it's as good as new.  OK, so the three month rule doesn't always apply.

So with the pain in my side, I figured.

During my yearly physical back in November, 2011, the doc asked if there was anything that I was concerned about.  I started to say, "No, nothing."  But then I figured, what the hell, I'll tell her.  Well I mentioned three things.  One was an infection that started with a hangnail on my left middle finger;  the second was the discomfort under my rib cage and the third was a sinus problem.

Well, I guess the doc now had something to do.  She prescribed an anti-biotic for the finger and made referrals for the ache in my side and sinus problem.  So began my adventure in health care.  I  am fortunate that my complaints were minor in comparison to people with real health issues.

To make two long stories short, the hang nail was finally cured around July or August of this year 2012 after three courses of two different antibiotics and a surgical lancing which was not done by my primary care physician, but by a surgeon and which came with a hefty bill to the insurance company.  I could have done it myself with a new single edge razor.  So, even with medical care, my hang nail took about nine months to cure.  My fingernail still has scars from the infection.

The sinus problem was dealt with by an Ear-Nose-Throat Doc and Flo-nase.  Knowing that my insurance is crap, I had verified several times that the Doc accepted my insurance and even had the receptionist write that on my co-pay receipt.  Turned out, the receptionist called me at home later to say I could not come back for a follow-up visit because they did not, in fact, take my insurance at that office.  Good thing the sinus problem cleared up with the flo-nase.

The third story - the pain in my right side, began with blood work and a referral for ultrasound of my gall bladder.  The gall bladder was OK, and the blood tests were good except one showed an auto-immune antibody for smooth muscle - the liver - which might indicate that my body was attacking my liver, or so I understood.

So Primary Doc sends me for a MRI and to a rheumatologist because they deal with auto-immune diseases.  The MRI showed an enlarged liver.

It took a couple of months to get an appointment with the rheumatologist.  The rheumatologist said "I don't know why you were referred to me, you need to see a hepatologist - a liver specialist."  But I still had to pay my co-pay for the rheumatologist, of course.

That referral to the liver doctor took another three weeks.  I had more blood tests.  More co-pays and something called "co-insurance".  The hepatologist said, "Much ado about nothing, but I want to do some more blood tests."  By the time the blood tests came back, I was experiencing a discomfort lower in the right side of my abdomen and my checkbook.  I was thinking I'd developed a hernia because one day when I had bent over it felt like my innards had turned inside out.

About four weeks later the hepatologist said the blood test were normal, except for high triglycerides, which I've always had.  I was assured that I probably did not have a hernia, but that I should have a liver biopsy.

That took about another four weeks to schedule.  I had to have more blood tests and co-pays first.

So today, a year after I told my Doc that I had some discomfort in the area below my right ribcage, I had a liver biopsy.

I would not recommend having one, just for fun.

The hepatologist was very good, explained everything during the procedure and was very accurate and precise.  I tried to relax during the procedure by pretending to be One With The Universe.  After the somewhat painful local anesthesia, the actual needle insertion was instantaneous and hardly felt. But there was an immediate pain as soon as the needle had done its job, like being punched in the gut.

It made me think how painful it must be to be shot with a bullet or stabbed in the gut with a knife.  And how there is way too much violence on TV.  And how people should not do such things to others.  I was on a minimal dose of pain medication.

The recovery required two hours laying on my right side to prevent internal bleeding.  I had a good dose of  IV pain medication that was very nice, but I couldn't help wondering if the insurance would cover it.  I had peed at 8 AM.  The procedure and first two hours in recovery brought me to 12 noon.  They were dripping a quart of saline by IV into my vein during that time and if you don't think I had to pee by 10:30 AM, you'd be wrong.  The nurse brought in the "urinal".

Leon says that the moon and stars must align for me to pee in a public place.  There was no way my faucet would open while laying on my side, especially with all the hustle and bustle just beyond the curtain and the nurse waiting for a result.  I can't pee under duress, like if someone is waiting to use the urinal I'm trying to use at the Pennsylvania rest area after three hours on the road -  even with a bladder ready to burst.

I tried four different times between 10:30 and noon.  Finally at noon I was allowed to sit upright and I scooched off the bed, against orders, to pee standing up - the way nature intended.  Then I begged for a blueberry muffin and orange juice.  I was wondering if that would be added to the bill for charges the insurance would not cover: Blueberry muffin, $15.98, Orange juice, $9.47.

So now I must wait a week or two for the biopsy results.  And for the hospital bill for what the insurance didn't pay.  That will be a whole different adventure.

P.S. Leon took pictures of me in the recovery room on his phone, but it is an old phone, not at all smart, and we need to figure out how to download the photos to the computer.  So no pics on this post for  now.  Maybe tomorrow, if I don't look like a 64 year old who's just had a liver biopsy.

UPDATE: Results of the biopsy showed only a fatty liver - something like fois gras before being paté.
I should eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet and lose weight.  That was it.  I guess that means little or no cheese or dairy, not bacon or sausage, little or no pasta or bread and definitely no cookies (yeah, right) no occasional glass of wine or beer.  Una cena senza vino (pasta, pane, biscotti, gelato, formaggio) e come una giornata senza sole.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Thanksgiving Walk by the Beach

Leon and I were at Mercy Center today visiting my Sis.  It was just the three of us as the others who  live with her were off with families. Sis hasn't been feeling well, so wasn't up for traveling to our house.  And my brother was doing Thanksgiving with in-laws.  So, I cooked a turkey yesterday and we packed up turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, gravy, butternut squash, sweet potato, and store bought apple pie for our Thanksgiving dinner at her place.
For more pics of Benni see his blog
She is very fortunate to get to live here in her "retirement" years.  She lives in a house on the grounds - see the one with the hydrangeas below.

After Thanksgiving Dinner and before dessert, Leon and I took Benni for a walk around the grounds.

Mercy Retreat and Conference Center is on the beach and they were fortunate that they did not get much damage from hurricane Sandy.  Just a small part of the beach was washed out.

The spot is very serene and a great place to walk and contemplate.  Which is what people go there to do mostly.  It was quite deserted today as there were no programs going on.

So it was definitely serene and contemplative today.

My Honey, Contemplating Dessert

Dried Hydrangeas


Related Posts with Thumbnails