Tuesday, July 31, 2012


OK, a bit lame, but it might be fun...go to MickeyD's (or even KFC or Burger King) for a chicken sandwich tomorrow, August 1.  Take a pic, and post it on your web site or Facebook.  I'm game!

P.S. We are so fortunate NOT to have a Bigot Fil-A restaurant in Connecticut.

Federal Judge in Connecticut Rules DOMA Unconstitutional

Once again the courts have ruled DOMA unconstitutional .  This judge is a George W. Bush appointee.  Apparently she refuted the Congressional defense of DOMA point by point.  Good.

The Republicans want states rights - and put marriage laws squarely in the jurisdiction of the states, yet they want to define marriage on their terms for every state and want to deny legally married individuals the rights and privileges they are entitled to.

As they say - Can't have your cake and eat it.

I'm so proud that the ruling came here in Connecticut.  Read more at link above.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why Do My 4 O'Clocks Bloom at 7:30? And A 'Hummingbird' Moth

Not that I'm complaining.

'Hummingbird' Moth on Impatients

Friday, July 27, 2012

American Accents - A Little Humor

My buddy Russ at Blue Truck Red State recently posted a comedy sketch about Southern accents vs Northern accents.  Apparently Southerners think the comedy routine was hilarious.  I didn't get it.  But it made me think of Greg and Donny who do comedy sketches about the Piksberg accent.

For Northerners, there is but one Southern accent - most of us can't readily tell the difference between a Texas twang and a Mississippi drawl.   Or is it a Texas drawl and a Tennessee twang?

Up north, especially in the Northeast, there are almost as many accents are there are neighborhoods.  Lung I-land, Brwooklyn, Bahston, New Yawk, Na Hamsha, Haaartferd, etc.

Now here are Greg and Donny.  I don't know why I think they are a stitch, perhaps because they're just so real - and Donny is SO cute.

 And one more.

 Go to YouTube to see more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

VITO - A Documentary on HBO

Just a quickie post here tonight.

I was able to watch this documentary "VITO" on the life and work of Vito Russo on HBO this evening.

The film centers around three themes that dominated Vito's life: the first part concerns Vito's work documenting the depiction of gays and Lesbians in film from the beginning of the movie era and the publishing of his groundbreaking book The Celluloid Closet; it then moves into his involvement in the Gay Liberation activities of the 1970's; finally it covers his continuing activism with Act Up and fighting for an appropriate response to the AIDS crisis from the government and health care/pharmaceutical  industry.

The documentary is one and a half hours and is a bit slow in parts.  But it is an important historical document that should be required viewing for our young gay people.

Leon and I even said "How quickly we forget." - and we lived through much of and participated in some of the protesting and demonstrating for LGBT rights and AIDS awareness.  Anyone much younger than 50 may have only heard what a huge role gay liberation and AIDS activism has played in getting us to where we are today - a world of assimilation and complacency and near apathy.

This film, along with several others (e.g. Before Stonewall, Life and Times of Harvey Milk) should be required viewing for anyone who applies for a membership card in the LGBT community.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Memorium - Brother Richard Jonathan Cardarelli, SSF

This morning I went to a memorial service at Holy Trinity Church in Middletown, Connecticut for Brother Richard Jonathan, of the Society of Saint Francis, an Episcopal Religious Order based on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.  When I first met Richard he was Father Richard Cardarelli, Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin and a chaplain for Dignity/Hartford.  That was in 1984.  To me he will always be Father Richard.  He was 60 years old. (see obit)  (and Hartford Courant article)
Hector, Me, Richard, Robin, ??, Joe, Barb
1987  March on Washington and Protest at Supreme Court
Richard Jonathan Cardarelli may not be a national religious figure but I am remembering him here for anyone who knew him or for those of you who might have known him had your path crossed his.

I learned more about Richard from today's eulogies.  He was drawn to the Church, to the priesthood and to the Franciscans from a young age and entered the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin after graduating from college.  Richard took his ministry seriously, but that's not to say he was without a sense of humor.  Those who knew him best recall sharing much laughter together with him.

Richard was arrested more than once for non-violent demonstrations, championing causes such as anti-nuclear proliferation, Civil Rights, and protesting the Supreme Court decision upholding Georgia's sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick.

Richard was gay.  He was an out, gay, celibate Franciscan priest and friar.  His Dignity flock knew it, his Franciscan brothers knew it, the Archbishop knew it.    His special ministry to the LGBT community was dear to his heart and he was vociferous in his ministry.  

Richard was very intelligent and an inspired preacher. His sermons at Sunday Mass at Dignity were always affirming of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons and when preaching on the gospel and readings he always found therein evidence of God's all inclusive love.  But expressing God's unconditional love for his Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people eventually put him at odds with the Archbishop and official Catholic teachings.

I don't know all the details that led up to his excommunication from the Catholic Church but I do know that that was the most devastating event in his life and began a period of great anguish for him. He began drinking heavily to ease his overwhelming depression.  After receiving treatment for his addiction he remained sober and began secular social work with psychiatric patients - but even his work there was always done in the spirit of St. Francis.

His personal spiritual journey took him to several independent, non-Roman, Catholic churches and other Ecumenical Churches.  He ultimately found a loving home in the Society of Saint Francis, an Episcopal religious order where he was professed and where his priestly orders were recognized.  He was with the Society of St. Francis for the past 10 years and served in San Francisco and Long Island where he was the director of vocations.

I am glad he found a loving home with his Episcopal Franciscan brothers but I am so ashamed of the Roman Catholic Church for cutting him off like some infected limb from what they believe to be the body of Christ, the Church.

Todays services included all the candles, incense, robes, bells, hymns, organ music and even Gregorian chant that he would have loved.  Of course, he had planned the whole service before he passed away.

I owe my personal coming out to the existence of Dignity/Hartford and to a great extent to Father Richard Jonathan Cardarelli whose support was vital.  Father Richard, may you be with your loving God.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Connecticut's Well Kept Secret Beach

UPDATE: Dogs are no longer allowed on the beach during bird (piping plover) nesting season - all summer. My letter to CT DEEP:

   As you will note from the DEEP Website which I have attached, Bluff Point is designated as a swimming area (see "Activities") though it is "Unsupervised Swimming" which is what many of the visitors there do. The beach area remains open during the plover season for people and their children and used to be open to dogs on leash as well.

    It is unfortunate that well-behaved dogs who may have less of an impact on nesting plovers than poorly behaved children, are banned from this beach. In addition, Dogs were always required to be on a leash, whereas children are not. 

   I don't think the dog restriction at Bluff Point was reasonably thought out before adopting the ban, but was rather a knee-jerk reaction to the presence of piping plovers. Dogs automatically become enemy number one: Dogs and plovers - the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

  Bluff Point was at one time a jewel in Connecticut's otherwise "dog-unfriendly" environment. The loss of this gem is unfortunate.

  So many other states make reasonable accommodations for families with dogs to enjoy the beach by designating areas where dogs are permitted. The several expansive shoreline beaches on Cape Cod's National Seashore being the the most dog-friendly places in New England even near and along side the piping plover nesting areas which are fenced off.

  Besides being dog-unfriendly, in view of the many other restrictions imposed by our State legislators and State Park bureaucrats, I propose that Connecticut's tourism motto should be "Have Fun, But Not In Our State"

I've posted pics of Bluff Point before (mostly the rocky bluff to the east of the beach which is pictured below) (see here) and (here) and I visited there again yesterday.

It is Connecticut's only unspoiled public beach.  (Given the fact that Connecticut has the worst beaches in New England, if not the country.)

Bluff Point is nearly deserted on most weekdays because you have to walk or bike about a mile and a half from the parking lot - or come in by boat.  There are no amenities.

It would be the perfect place except for the beach flies that zeroed in on me like I was the only meal in town.  I guess I pretty much was, yesterday.

Bushy Point Beach at Bluff Point State Park

The Perfect Spot Except For The Flies

Electric Boat, Groton on the Right
New London Lighthouse on the Right

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Exploitation of Workers Here in the USA

I was going to write a little essay about how the "Effort vs Enjoyment" scale for many of my favorite pastimes seems to be shifting toward more effort, less enjoyment.

But as I was driving to the beach where I became a buffet for those huge green flies, (aka "beach flies", aka "sand flies" aka "horse flies") despite using "Off" which seemed to work for about fifteen minutes, I was listening to Tom Ashbrook on NPR.

Today's discussion was about a crawfish packing company in Louisiana that supplies Walmart with the delicacy.

The company uses "forced" labor and requires workers to be on 24 hour shifts, locks them in and threatens harm to their Mexican families should they be non-compliant.  The workers are here legally through the Guest Worker Program but the program is not able to monitor every host company.  In addition, guest workers cannot "quit" their jobs and work elsewhere.  They are under contract to a specific employer.

The gist of the discussion was that unscrupulous employers take advantage of their workers, forcing them to work unreasonably long hours in inhumane conditions and often even restrict access to paychecks/wages.  All so companies like C. J.'s Seafood can get lucrative Walmart contracts.   All so Walmart and companies like Walmart can offer the lowest prices on goods.  All so corporate America can make huge profits.

The exploitation of workers is utterly despicable.  The profits that are made at their expense are despicable. The Walmarts of this world are even more despicable.

They are not only keeping wages low, but such practices actually force wages downward for almost all working class jobs across the board.  Because the real income of average Americans has become less and less during the course of this recession and they even less buying power with that income, many average people have little choice but to shop at Walmart.

So the exploitation of workers in turn creates a growing base of customers for Walmart and the like.  Corporate greed just gets more and more ugly.

While I never shop Walmart, I do look for bargains elsewhere - I can't afford to shop at "Whole Foods" or even some of the big supermarkets.  So that makes me part of the problem.  See how complicated it gets?  But I'm not renouncing my citizenship!

Now we see the trend of the super-rich who have become super rich right here in the United States, renouncing their US citizenship rather than pay taxes!

Talk about skimming off the top!  This country will go bankrupt if these practices are allowed to continue.

Meanwhile drought conditions are forcing ranchers to sell off cattle because they can't feed them and many farmers are without crops to market.  Somehow this too must be related to corporate greed but I haven't figured out how.  I'm sure the right-wingnut refusal to believe in global warming has set us back in this regard.

And farmers are looking to the Federal government for help - a Federal government that is so far in debt but cannot get the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes!

We are getting closer than ever to becoming a "third world" country, though I'm thinking some other term might be more appropriate.  There may be a whole segment of our society relegated to "forth world" status sooner than later.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vermont - The Ledges - The Good Old Days

(UPDATE: 7/26/14 We were at Lake Harriman in Wilmington yesterday and while it is peaceful and serene, it is not what it used to be. It was a cool summer day, so maybe that's why there were so few people there. If this were in Connecticut, it would be packed, especially as there is no parking fee. Nice place to swim, but the rocks seem to be less comfortable the older I get! We like it because the dog gets to come along and swim too.)

Leon and I met at Rock River in Vermont nearly 24 years ago.  I remember because he asked how old I was (how uncouth) as we were hiking the trail out and I replied, holding my hand over my mouth to muffle the word "Forty".  (Oh, to be forty again!  But I'm still hiking the trails!)
An Old Couple Tooling Around In Vermont
We have returned there many times over the years.

We've also frequented our other favorite swimming hole - Lake Harriman in Wilmington, VT otherwise known as "The Ledges". 
Lake Harriman From The Ledges
Wild Lilly At The Ledges
The past couple of weekends we were staying in our camper in Vermont and did some reminiscing - or rather lamenting about how so much has changed.

Harriman Reservoir is primarily used to control water flow to a power generator downstream from the dam.  The Ledges is a section of the lakeside accessible by way of a long woodland path or by boat.  The rock ledges where nudists congregate has been a popular spot for many years and when we first started going there, the crowds were substantial.

The water level back in the late 1980's and 1990's was always kept lower than it has been for the past six or so years since the reservoir is under the new management.  There used to be a much larger rocky beach and a much greater area of exposed rock ledge for people to gather.  Hence it could accommodate a lager crowd.

You would have to get there early in order to find a parking spot and when the lots were full, cars would park along a mile stretch of the dirt road leading into the park and make the long hike even longer.

The large rock Ledges area was always considered the "straight" area with the "gay" area further along the path (naturally) occupying smaller rock ledges all along the waterline.   As years went on, the path got extended further and further along the lake shore until it nearly reached a privately owned home on the lake.  
Benni On The Main Trail
In addition to the main path, there were many hiking trails off to the side and up the hill.  Lots of guys liked to hike there, but I can't imagine why.  Guys would seem to all leave their towels on the rocks, get up, and start hiking in the woods, usually, it seemed, around 11, then around 1 and again around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, but mostly all day.

We would usually go to the Ledges with friends. Along with a large group of other "regulars" we became quite a community.  Some people had regular names: Joe, Doug, Pete, Rodger, Marty, etc. but those who we were never formerly introduced to had acquired names -the names we gave them: the landscaper, bikini boy, cigarette man, pretty-boy, Sherwin-Williams, bearded lady, and some I'd be better off not mentioning.  

They were all pretty friendly and easy-going guys, but every now and then some attitude would show up and insult one of the average-looking guys: "I wouldn't do you if I was drowning and your balls were full of oxygen."  Now that is just not nice.  

The guys we knew would all bring food and drink and there was one guy who always had a large backpack with more food than could possible fit in it - he reminded me of Jesus feeding the crowd with a few "loaves and fishes".

The rocky shoreline was strewn with large and small flat rocks, many the size of small cars.  Unfortunately when they made the reservoir, they didn't bother to place all the rocks with a flat surface in a useful horizontal position.  Some of us who like such things, spent many hours creating multi level terraces out of those flat stones that we could move.
More Than A Few Years Back, Just Before The Ordinanc
Our regular lakeshore "site" which we were guaranteed to occupy if we arrived early enough, was one that I had helped to landscape.  It had steps down to the water and several patios on which four or five guys could sun their bodies, have lunch, and stash coolers and backpacks.

When we acquired Leon's dad's 12 foot aluminum john-boat with a put-put motor we would sometimes boat in from the boat launch area in Wilmington, a good half hour trip unless you had a real motor.  That way we could bring our cooler, a gas grill, cushions and all the things we'd possibly need for the day.  And, once out on the water, we could go naked boating as well.

When, back a few years, rich people began acquiring property around the lake, one uptight homeowner got her hairs in a knot when some guys wandered too far from the main path and displayed overt, ostentatious gayness adjacent to her backyard.  (A book on nudity in Vermont, written for and by "straight" people described gays at the Ledges as "overt, ostentatious, homosexuals" and then went on to disparage us and  our "lifestyle".)  She, the homeowner, then got it in her head that nudity should be banned in Wilmington.  Well, Vermont is known for its indifference to nudity, so this proposal was a big deal.

Wilmington passed an anti-nudity ordinance.  The following summer, the area restaurants were not too busy and the motels had vacancies.  Gas stations, souvenir shops, Vermont crafts, all saw business slack off. I think even Ben and Jerry decided to sell out that year.

Well, the ordinance was overturned prior to the following summer, but things were just never the same after that.  They replaced the ordinance with some law about "lewd and lascivious behavior".

Besides, the water level was kept too high, parking was restricted, and most of the gay guys went to play at the Rock River.  Too bad, because the lake is great for swimming and boating, whereas the River is more for wading and dipping.
Lake H From Whitingham Side
Nothing stays the same.  We were nostalgic for the past but just grateful that we were there when The Ledges was in its heyday.  And we still enjoy an occasional day of hiking and swimming there.

Us At The Ledges In 2011

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thinking of Moving to PTown?

You know how much I love going to Provincetown on Cape Cod.  It has always been a dream of mine to live in PTown, or at least summer there.

I'm inspired by Bob over at I Should Be Laughing who always showcases architecture, usually homes that are unique.

So I thought I'd give you all a taste of what is available in Provincetown in our price range.  That is, if we were to sell our 1,000 (+/-) square foot home in Connecticut - a three bedroom, one bath, kitchen, living room, sunroom, full basement with basement garage on 2.75 acres of woodland.
An Older Picture Of Our House In Connecticut
We could give up all we own for this 156 Square Foot "condo" listed at $129,000 and still have money left for a dinghy and fishing pole.

"Adorable studio cottage in Beach Point Village with private deck and parking. Cozy wood interior with cathedral ceiling, newer slider & skylight. Tiled kitchen with stainless steel refrigerator and frosted cabinetry. Short walk to the beach on Provincetown Harbor!"

OR, for a nice view of the harbor we could splurge and buy this: 150 Square Foot three-season "Condo" listed at $149,000 and still have some money left for a few week's worth of groceries.

BOLD TYPE MY EMPHASIS: "Waterfront cottage on historic Union Wharf. This three season home is on the pier over the water. Life here will embrace your soul and senses with the views of Long Point, Provincetown Harbor and the breakwater. Watch the sparkle of a Provincetown sunrise! Union Wharf has a rich history. There is a large shared deck out over the water with panoramic views of the harbor. The seller will separate the electric and water prior to a sale (????). Seller will also make recommended repairs to the Pier. There is a private half bath and a shared shower. Betterment to be assumed by the buyer for balance due on one bedroom assessment. (????)  This is the perfect summer getaway for those who have to be on the water!"

I guess your guests can sleep on the "large shared deck"

OK, Bob, now We All Should Be Laughing.


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