Monday, January 30, 2012

Let You In On Project Number One

 The "minor" project Leon and I have been working on is painting the living room and kitchen - while also working on another major project, which I can't mention yet.  Here's the result of the paint job.

Note: I am very disturbed by the exaggerated perspective that my camera is imposing on these views.  
Living Room: "Pollen Grains" and "Spice"
In case you notice the rolled-up rug under the credenza, it is to prevent Benni's racquet balls from going under the furniture - when he wants his lost ball, he won't let us rest until we get down and fetch it.
Looking for a Larger Art Piece I Think
Kitchen: "Garbanzo Bean" and
Backsplash: "Pollen Grains"

Monday, January 23, 2012

From My File Cabinet - 4 "Fledgling"

Fledgling - Notes From Mid-Life Adolescence

            It was a Sunday evening in February 1985 and a bunch of us guys decided to go out for a drink after the Dignity service.  Back then, about eighty or ninety people would show up in the basement of a local community center early Sunday evenings for Mass.  It was one of many organizations I got involved in after my personal liberation, six months previously. 

            We decided to check out the new gay bar in town.   I had no intentions of doing anything but have a drink or two, chat with the guys and go home. The place was called BearsDen.  It was a restaurant bar with a congenial, comfortable, neighborhood atmosphere.  Not noisy or rowdy or cruisy - well, at least not on a Sunday night.  

           About fifteen guys were sitting at the bar when we walked in.  Norm and I took seats at the table next to the bar.  Tom and Brad joined us when they came in and then so did a few others.  Guys came in, others left.  I had been checking out the traffic, but must have missed seeing this one guy come in.  When I first noticed him, I glanced twice.  I assumed he was with someone.

            I motioned to Norm to check out the guy in the denim vest.  He was about twenty-five, dark-haired and slender, maybe 135 pounds, about my height.  He had dark, brown eyes, hair brushed back, a thick mustache extending down past the corners of his mouth, almost to his chin. 

            Norm had already noticed him.  “Oh, you too.  Yeah, he’s the best looking guy in the place.”

            “I’m really new to all this.  What are you supposed to do?  I’ve never cruised before, not really.  Besides, I’m shy.  Well, that’s half of it anyway, being shy.  But the other half is, you never know what you’re picking up, when you pick someone up.”

            Norm just laughed and said, “Yeah, Fran, you’ll learn.” 

            I was still glancing over at the denim vest, who was now at the video game table.  He looked over in my direction a couple of times and I knew he registered my interest.  I was getting antsy.  “I wish I had the …” I paused mid sentence, “balls.” Norm interjected, as if on queue.  “To just go over there and do it.” I finished my thought as I got up and walked over to the bar.

            My move to the bar was made without any plan.  Like other moves of late, I found myself acting, doing something without analyzing… without thinking myself into inaction.  I moved to the bar even though my eyes were fixed on the guy at the video game.

            To stay seated where I was would have been to accept being stuck in my frustration.  So I moved to the bar and greeted the bartender as if I had known him for years – weeks at least.  We chatted a bit and I think he thought I was coming on to him because he wouldn’t let me pay for the drink I ordered. 

            I guess this new attitude of “whadaya got to lose?” seemed to go along with being newly out and liberated.  I’m tired of watching life go by.  I want in.  I want to check some things out for myself.  I know enough to take something for what it is.  And the number I wanted to cruise walked back to the bar next to me.  He mentioned his game score to the bartender like it was an ongoing conversation.

            That gave me an opening, so I asked, “What’s the game?”

            I had to acknowledge my inadequacy with regard to video games, but my number was definitely interested.  No doubt about it.  He invited me to play a round of “Moussey”.

             I never play video games.  I’m just not good at it.  But I didn’t even hesitate.  If playing “Moussey” was part of the ritual, I was game.  We both walked over to the game table with our drinks in hand.  I asked him to explain the game and we gave it a try. 

            It was a short session, especially when it was my turn.  “Game Over” the machine taunted.  We introduced ourselves, “Fran,” I said.  “Bryan,” he said.  “Just moved here from Maine.”  He lit a cigarette and tried to light the swizzle stick I had been sucking on as a substitute for the Marlboros I had given up less than a week before.  It was great!  He was as distracted as I was!

            Unfortunately, it was getting late.  Bryan said he had to be at work early and got up to go to the men’s room.  I think he expected me to follow.  He came back and sat down for a minute or two, then made the motion indicating he was ready to leave.  I did the same and we walked out together.  Shit, I didn’t want to let him get away. 

            He asked where I was headed.  “Home,” I said, “eventually.  And you?” 

            “Home, but I am horney,” Bryan teased. 

             “Do you live alone?” I asked. 

            “No, I live with my lover, but we have a pretty open relationship.  We just don’t bring anyone home.”

            “You can come to my place if you don’t mind a twenty minute drive.”

            “No, it’s kinda late.  You wanna duck into the ally-way for something quick?”  Bryan offered.

            “Not my style,” I came back, “That’s no fun.”

            “It can be.” he tempted.

            “Well, no.  Maybe some other time.”  I knew there would be no other time.  I just said, “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

            “Well, take care,” he said.   I repeated his parting line, “Yeah, take care.”

            I got in my car.  “Shit,” I said to myself, but with a definite congratulatory tone.

            I had cruised and had come that close to scoring.  I was shaking.  I was so revved up and excited, I probably couldn’t have gotten into the moment anyhow. On the job training.  I was a bit frustrated but not particularly disappointed.  So what? I didn’t score.  But it was definitely flattering.  Thinking out loud, I said, “Man, I could go for a few cigarettes.”

           I heard that Bryan died of AIDS a few years later.

Monday, January 16, 2012

May Be Busy

Leon and I are doing some projects around the house and may be involved in another major project over the next several I may not be contributing much here.  Forgive me if I don't check in on your or other blogs as often during the upcoming weeks...Frank

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Story of Bi-National Gay Couple With 4 Kids v.s US Immigration Services

I invite you to visit the current post on Mark's blog "Our Simple Lives" and learn how very not simple their lives are fighting the Department of Immigration in order to stay together as a family of two dads and four adopted children.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let Us Pray

If you heard about the Kansas congressman who was "praying for Obama" to let his days be numbered, the prayer can go both ways sweetie.  Isn't it something like treason for an elected official to intimate the wish for the President's demise?  Not to mention his other blatantly racist and derogatory comments and emails about Michele Obama.  The man is a disgrace.

Lets take that psalm from the beginning and it could easily be turned against Mike O'Neil himself - "let his prayers condemn him".  Imagine Obama praying these words (Psalm 109):

1 My God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
2 for people who are wicked and deceitful
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
5 They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.
6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

16 For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.
17 He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
may it be far from him.
18 He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.
20 May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me.
28 While they curse, may you bless;
may those who attack me be put to shame,
but may your servant rejoice.
29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.
You know, many of us, but certainly not all, are not particularly fond of religion because of the hurt/hate that emanates from so many religions,  religious leaders and adherents.

But we really should start reading the Bible/Scriptures because there is a lot of good stuff in there that these "religionists" conveniently have forgotten or purposely ignored.  We should give them their own words on a platter.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Good Meal in Winchester (revised)

We just can't make those long drives  like we used to - without a stop-over.  We stayed in Winchester, Virginia as we have several times and treated ourselves to a nice dinner at the Union Jack Pub and Restaurant on North Loudon Street. 

A special thanks to Noah, our friendly server who made us feel very welcomed and advised us on the beer and ales as well as entrées.

The pub serves up some very authentic (what do I know) English fare including Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, Shepherd Pie, Steak and Ale Pie, and Full English Breakfast to name a few.

(revised): As for the beers, Noah had gone through a few suggestions, including Boddington's Light and Speckle Hen.  I had Steak and Ale Pie washed down with a pint of Boddingtons Light.  Leon had the Fish and Chips, and, trying to recall the long list of ales, he ordered a pint of "Spotted Chicken";  Noah understood that he meant "Speckle Hen".  

Either way, an odd name for a beer.

We shared a Raspberry English Triffle with our decaff coffee served in small, individual coffee presses.  Nice touch.

Prices are more than we usually pay for a regular dinner night out back home, but we both needed a little extra indulgence last evening.

Last summer we stopped at Brewbakers, another restaurant on Loudon Street which is a pedestrian only street with some nice shops and several eateries.

If you  are passing through Winchester, VA and want to avoid the BIG CHAIN restaurants with their Ho-Hum predictable offerings, most of which are probably assembled in a factory somewhere and shipped frozen so that the food tastes the same everywhere, check out the Union Jack or Brewbakers.  It's not that far off the Interstate and so much better than a chain.

P.S.  Hope you all caught the premier episode of Downton Abbey last evening.  Unfortunately the motel cable service did not carry PBS, so we missed it.   Luckily we had already seen it, yes, on YouTube a few weeks ago.

Here's one of my favorite scenes from Season One:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm Depressed and Grouchy and Likely to Offend Someone

Travel, especially away from the Interstate and along some of the byroads on the way to Leon's mom's house can be depressing for me.  We pass both occupied and abandoned homes, some once quite livable, and strip malls and main streets lined with empty businesses and landscapes strewn with human debris.
Once a Very Fine Home, I'm Sure
Once we arrive, I find a low-level anxiety permeates my spirit and world view.

We have plenty of depressing surroundings in our own "backyard" and they do distress me.  But I guess we get so used to them, on some level, that they no longer form a strong Gestalt.  In someone else's "backyard" I notice more acutely the blight of rotting cast-offs that ruin the countryside.

I need not post too many photos: we've all seen it, if not in our own "backyards" then on "Hoarders" and "American Pickers"  and "Storage Wars".

Even watching those shows can cause me the same kind of anxiety as I am feeling after several days of seeing trash and "collectibles" up close and personal.

That is why I have tried to keep the blog on the positive side during our trip.  I posted photos of Pearl Fryer's Topiary Gardens - a delight in an otherwise uninteresting travel event.

Not wanting to bore you all once again with our annual/semiannual trip south, I posted some links with minimal commentary, but perhaps even that was too much commentary.  I was trying to keep things low-key, for my own sanity.

In these environs, Leon and I begin to question if we are not, in fact, "abnormal" because we like a clean and somewhat orderly home, a yard free of rusty cars, rotten boats and no longer functioning machinery.

There is a Zen quality to simplicity and order that promotes peace, tranquility and motivation.

We discard, as responsibly as possible, those things that are discardable and bring other, still useful items to Goodwill if they are in the way or no longer being used.  We are not exactly minimalists, but that is an ideal I could aspire to.  We are not great decorators but we try within our means.

To see people living amongst the utter chaos of their accumulated possessions, many of which are damaged or rejected and many of which were purchased on the suggestion of slick TV advertising and not worth the plastic they are made of - usually by people who live from hand to mouth - makes me both sad and anxious.

Even more disturbing is seeing people who do not take care of (or actually abuse) useful or necessary things that often cost good money: cars, boats, home appliances, furniture, plumbing, roofs, foundations, doors and windows.  How does one prioritize buying another, new, flat screen TV...

To ease my anxiety I search out something of beauty and order.
Pastoral Scene, Devoid of Trash
It Is Possible to Maintain Order and Beauty 
It is amazing how a botanical garden or a row of neat picnic tables can give me a sense of calm and inner peace.

How An "Empty" Space Conveys Order and Peacefulness
And how a flower can ease my dis-ease.

By the way "Chicken Bog" is not a town in South Carolina.  It is a regional dish made with boiled and deboned chicken, smoked sausage or bacon, vegetables and rice.

Friday, January 6, 2012

It Irks Me That Santorum Uses The Catholic Membership Card

As one who was brought up Catholic and still has some appreciation for the Catholic tradition in its most spiritual and radical expressions, I am repulsed by the current heresy of the church and those who wave their Catholic credentials around like a certificate of Sainthood.  Especially those who have a political career to further.

Read this article that pulls the Catholic rug out from under the feet of Republican candidate Santorum.

As for Gingrich, another so-called "Catholic" and a "convert" to boot, I wish someone would debunk his holier-than-thou Catholic credentials.  After all, didn't he convert to Catholicism so that his first two marriages could be declared null and void as they were "outside the Catholic church"  How very convenient for him.

Stamp to Commemorate Gay Codebreaker Alan Turing (edited)

Another lazy day, another link:  this is of interest not only because Alan Turing was gay, but because, while he was instrumental in breaking the Nazi code during WWII, he was nonetheless a victim of archaic and oppressive laws against homosexuals. (Personal observation edited)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Here or There?

Given my location, I assumed that "Chicken Bog" was the name of the town where First Church of God is located.  At least one of you guys knows what this sign means.

Out for a walk with Lance, Rolyne and their dog Sadie.

We stopped with our friends to see some topiary.


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