Monday, June 23, 2014

Masonry and Cooking in One Afternoon or What An Old Gay Guy Does For Fun

Our house is built on the side of a hill, so we have these concrete stairs from the driveway to the deck. The person who built them decades ago was an amateur (I should talk I don't have any credentials in masonry but I've mixed a batch or three of cement in my life).

The steps are all different heights, from seven inches to almost nine and a half. (I could make comments here, but I'm tired and just want to make the point that some of us can go from doing masonry to cooking a semi-gormet meal without a second thought.)

There are also gaps in the cement and some holes that were formed because whoever poured the concrete did not bother to make sure it seeped around the rock filler they used.

Anyhow, we have lived with these these stairs for fourteen years and could never figure out what to do with them. We had a mason give us an estimate recently that included replacing the stone wall on either side of the stairway. That was going to cost a minimum of $9,000.

So, that was out of the question.

I thought about how to fix the steps for cheap. I decided that if I raise each step by putting a layer of concrete on them I can get them to be roughly of uniform heights. I bought a couple of bags of concrete and went to work - from the top down. This will result in the last step being about 10 inches to the driveway, so I will have to make a landing or stoop to ease the transition, I hope. Leon thinks I will be in trouble there.

I finished two of the eight steps today. Then I went in and made dinner. Grilled Salmon, Cabbage and Fennel Slaw and Green Bean Salad.

I will post the finished masonry project if it comes out good, otherwise I will be up a creek without a trowel.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pre-Solstice Excursion to My Favorite Place

Just returned from Provincetown. These are some rambling thoughts from the past few days.
Same Old T-Shirts
Actually Benni the dog and I stayed in Truro at the motel which offered pre-season rates and free stay for the dog; after this week, the rates just about double and dogs pay $20 per night. I enjoyed three beautiful days at the beaches and wandering around town.

I've posted about Provincetown many times: my favorite place, with qualifications. Not the town, but the place. The beaches, the dunes, the ocean, the sky, occasionally the people. I must say, I find most people there (tourists, visitors, summer folks) friendly - approachable and easy to converse with. Met some nice people. Having a dog helps.

I had just arrived on Monday morning and the first stop was the doggie park, of course. Met two older gentlemen (my age) there. One has just retired and will be living full time in their summer house in town, his partner, who is still working, comes up on weekends. We had a nice conversation.

I took a minute to call Leon to let him know I had arrived safely. Mentioned that I was at the doggie park. One of the guys shouted into the phone, "Don't believe him, he's at the baths. Don't forget your towel." And they both laughed, and so did I. It was that kind of exchange that made for a great start to my little vacation.

(A summer house in PTown - Oh, to have friends with benefits. -  Alas, we don't).
Having a Dog Helps at the Doggie Park
I have an issue with class and can't seem to get past it. I definitely have ambivalent feelings about PTown and its residents: townies, wash-a-shores, seasonals, weekenders, tourists. There is plenty of wealth for sure and there is definitely some attitude. This is pre-season and although there are plenty of tourists, if you are frequenting a place that is not normally a tourist attraction you may be mistaken for a seasonal resident, though never a townie. I find that a kind of innocent pretense.

Pretense that is not as obvious as outright pretentiousness. Some pretty down-to-earth folks who are fortunate to have summer homes there and who spend more on dinner than I do in a month for groceries aren't pretentious on purpose or blatantly. It's only when they assume you're one of them that you see the other side of class pretense: the belief that everyone here must, of course, have a summer home, or a long-term rental and a rescue dog and eat Edwige for breakfast and the Mews for dinner. "Everyone lives like this, don't they? At least everyone I know does."

The town itself has little to offer besides expensive restaurants, expensive drinks, expensive guest houses, expensive art, expensive clothing and expensive jewelry, expensive doggie accessories, expensive parking, and expensive barrooms. I have no need for any of the aforementioned.The town has gotten even more pricy, more exclusive in the true sense of the word. More condos sprung up over the winter and if there is a patch of earth anywhere, they will be building on it soon enough.

I am surprised that the one and only horse farm on West Vine or the campground hasn't been sold for a trillion dollars and a hundred condos built. (If you want entertainment go to realtor dot com and check out what $150,000 can get you in Provincetown - 289sq ft or condos with "fractional" ownership.)
View From Truro

Near the Breakwater
Photo Ops Free
Could Be Art
Met my friend Eddie for dinner on Monday night. Went to a little take-out fish place at the Aquarium mall where meals are served in plastic plates and you eat with plastic utensils on a picnic table. Not at all pretentious. Eddie enjoyed his Portuguese stew ($24, I believe).  My blackened mahi-mahi over a garden salad was very good. $14.95 plus $2 for a tiny cole slaw; the owner/chef even came out to talk to us - mostly to inquire about my dog Benni - having noticed the Weimaraner traits. I went over to the raw bar for a beer to accompany my meal - Bluemoon on tap - 8oz plastic cup for $6. Just a bit over the top.

So I blew my wad on one meal. The next two nights I ate in my room - I had packed two home-cooked meals that I heated in the microwave. I can afford to "splurge" once in a while by being frugal.

Other stuff in Provincetown is free. The beach is free (very free, if you count being bare ass on the beach), the hiking is free, the photo ops are free, people watching is free, eye candy is free (though sorely lacking on this trip), the sunshine is free, the flora and fauna are free, continental breakfast was free, and WiFi here and there can be free.
Free breakfast
The Beach is Free
Now what I find sad is that so much has changed over the years, seemingly an exponential change; gays seem to be no longer in need of a special place like PTown to go to to "be themselves". Perhaps the one of the last vestiges of LGBT commerce in PTown is the Equal Rights Campaign store and the gay bars - but even these, with their drag shows and stand-up comics and musical reviews seem to be as much for the straight tourists as for the LGBT crowd. A safe tour of the gay world as it used  to be - the equivalent of "slumming it" - gaying it?
Ops! How Did This Get In Here?
Pier Henge
Benni lost his rainbow bandana somewhere and I could not find another rainbow bandana in the entire town (not that I looked everywhere, only in the most obvious places). There are no "Pride" stores in town anymore and I think it is a sign that we are well on our way to being mainstreamed. Sad, in a way, isn't it?
Things Have Changed Except For Love and Happiness

Friday, June 13, 2014

Pride Month Video - News Clips from the 1980s

Thanks to Russ for posting this.

Important reminders of the tremendous obstacles we faced in our collective struggle for our rights and dignity.

Many of those obstacles still exist - we should not rest on our laurels lest we be caught off guard.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Fork In The Road or Deja Vu

Every so often one comes to a fork in the road of life. I was reminded of this in a couple of ways last Friday as I waited for Leon to find a steering wheel in a junkyard in Hyde Park, New York.

But let me begin in the middle. Anyone who knows Leon, knows that he is a car enthusiast. He (we) belongs to Lambda Car Club, Nutmeg Chapter. We are not wealthy enough for him to own one of those beautifully restored vintage autos from the 1940's or 1950's like some of the guys do. He doesn't have an original Mustang convertible in the garage (I wish). 

What he does have is an old Chrysler LeBaron, I'm not even sure what year - so that tells you how enthusiastic I am about his hobby. 

Well, he took the LeBaron to a car show two weeks ago and on the way home he ceased a brake caliper. He was able to drive it to a friend's house and have it towed to our neighborhood mechanic the next day ($). In the process, the tow truck guy didn't start the engine when unloading the car from the flatbed, merely forced it into neutral, thereby ruining ignition switch mechanism and the steering column. ($). 

Giovanni, our friendly mechanic, said Leon should have kept driving the car when the brakes ceased, that it would have eventually caught fire and that the insurance company would have given him more than it was worth - which isn't much.

But by now Leon was into it for the price of the towing and the pride of owning a "classic" car. So he decided it was worth fixing. 

In early May he had found parts for the LeBaron at a junkyard in Hyde Park, New York while there for the Rhinebeck Car Show. So he knew there was a LeBaron there waiting to be stripped of its steering wheel.

So last Friday he took a half day off and we drove to Hyde Park.

While I was waiting for him to extract the steering wheel I took Benni for a walk, made phone calls, answered emails and went for a ride. This was a good hour or more wait.

It was then I realized I had done this before. 

Now I will begin at the beginning. Nearly twenty-seven years ago. When I was 40 and Leon was 26. When Leon’s old Chrysler K car got stolen and was recovered with a broken steering column. When the car was not drivable. When I assumed that the normal thing to do was to junk the car, call the insurance company and be happy if they paid anything after the deductible.

But Leon doesn’t do what normal people do when it comes to his vehicles. He dragged me off to some junkyard and found a compatible steering column and wheel, detached it from the junked car it belonged to, paid the man and then we drove back to the impound yard where he attached it to his K Car, signed the necessary paperwork and drove it home. No insurance company needed.

It was more than a entire sunny Saturday afternoon that I had wasted driving to and from a junkyard, watching him do auto repairs and wondering why I was there.

Wondering if I really wanted to get involved with this guy who couldn’t understand that junking the car was the most expeditious thing to do.

Wondering why he didn’t realize that the insurance company would likely pay something for a car that had been stolen.

Wondering why I was with this guy who had greasy hands and dirty clothes.

Wondering why I had agreed to drive him around while I got sweaty and bored just waiting.

But last Friday I realized that that day nearly 27 years ago was a kind of fork in my road. And even though I didn’t understand or appreciate Leon’s automobile addiction, we both chose the same road.

So there we were, nearly 27 years later, at a junkyard to fetch a steering wheel for another Chrysler K car that both I, and our friendly mechanic down the street, thought should be in the junkyard next to its organ donor.

The difference this time was that after the junkyard Leon took me to dinner in Rhinebeck at nice restaurant with outdoor seating.

On the way back from Hyde Park last Friday we passed a landmark that I think sums it up quite nicely.
As we drove home I felt a profound contentment. Despite the forks in the road, we are still choosing the same way together. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pride Month - A Rainbow Garden

I've posted my Irises before.

They are just as beautiful this year, so I can't resist.

So here again is my favorite flower, in honor of LGBT Pride Month.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pride Month Video

Thanks to Wicked Gay Blog for this video. I have not had time to view the entire video, but I am posting it now rather than later.

I'll maybe add a few words after I've had a chance to view the entire video. I'll just say that I think it is important for us all to know our LGBT history - and not to forget or dismiss the struggles of the past in light of the victories of the moment.


Too bad the video ended abruptly - hope there is a part 2.


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