Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Remembering Marcus D'Amico - Michael Tolliver/Mouse

The actor Marcus D’Amico has died at the age of 55. D’Amico is best remembered for playing the role of the beloved gay character, Michael ‘Mouse’ Tolliver, from the 1993 TV production of Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

I am feeling like I've just heard that a best friend has passed away.

The books, Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, etc. came into my life just as I was embracing and celebrating my gay identity in the eighties. 

My first trip to San Francisco in 1984 or '85 for an AIDS Conference was one of the most exciting events that ever happened in any job I'd ever had. San Francisco, from the moment I left the airport, seemed like being home. But of course I had to return to Connecticut where reality consisted of holding a job, being self-sufficient and not dreaming too big, let alone even thinking of moving across the country.

But when the TV series, Tales of the City aired on PBS, it was like being transported to OZ. Back to San Francisco!

Very soon, it was like I knew all these amazing characters and knew them personally. They were a temporary but significant part of my early gay life. They all became acquaintances, and some, like Michael Tolliver and Mona and Mary Ann became like friends I'd known for years. They helped make my being gay a positive, life-affirming reality.

I was an invisible tenant at 28 Barbary Lane and secretly watched all the drama. I lived vicariously through all of them and their many misadventures, loves and intrigues.

Funny, I never even knew the actor Marcus D'Amico, never knew his name until now. But his character Michael Tolliver was sweet and shy and fun and cute and vulnerable and sincere and loving. The actor Marcus' passing is also the death of Michael (despite the title of one of Maupin's later books, Michael Tollive Lives.)

 This has truly been a year of sadness.

 If you have never seen the series (the original PBS and Showtime series 1994. 1998. 2001) treat yourself. It is available on Netflix and possibly some other platforms. Here is Season 1, Episode 1. 

Letter from Michael Tolliver to his Momma as read by the cast of the 2019 Tales of the City Netflix update: (Italian captions were not intentional on my part, it's the only version I could find)

Friday, December 25, 2020

This Old Scrooge Thanks You

Just a short note to my readers: I got up this morning and was going to delete the long rant about my Christmas conflicts and inadequacies before anyone actually had a chance to read them. But alas, the cat was out of the bag so to speak and there were already comments from you all. 

So I just want to thank you for visiting and for the support your comments have provided. I don't know what gets into me at Christmas. Perhaps there are some repressed feelings or memories that come to the surface...but whatever.

I want to let you guys know that I enjoy visiting your blogs even if I don't always comment...sometimes I get so caught up just reading blogs and news items that the hours pass and I've not done anything away from the screen...

Enjoy your Holiday. Stay safe, stay well, and lets hope for better things in the New Year. I hope we can all get through to January 20th without further disasters. 

Tacky But Bright

The Yucca Lit Up

Our Rainbow Luminarias/Farolitos


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Happy Holidays....Confessions of a Conflicted Scrooge

Leon and I want to wish you all a very Merry, Happy, Healthy and Blessed Christmas…or Hanukkah, or New Year… 

In this Strange and Unpredictable and often Bewildering Time, 
Even Christmas is not quite what it used to be. 

Very likely there will be no visitors coming or going, sharing drinks or coffee or cookies. 
I may be wrong about the no crowded department stores, no large family gatherings, no traveling to relatives for dinner, no packed Midnight Masses. At least for us that is the case.

For some, celebrating the Season with More and Brighter Decorations, More Lights and Ribbons and Bows will be an antidote to many long and stressful months.

    [For others of us, a low-key Holiday is more in keeping with our personalities or personal values. Leon decorated with lights outside; me, I've been cooking and baking but we have little in the way of decking the halls indoors. A Poinsettia and cards that others sent us. A Christmas table runner that my sister-in-law made. We gave her all our tree ornaments when we moved here, so no tree.
     Confession: I am not sending cards this season. I usually find it a chore, more stressful than satisfying. I used to enjoy sending cards, buying little gifts and stocking-stuffers and wrapping boxes and making bows. Now, not so much. Maybe it's age. Maybe it's just an existential feeling of performing empty rituals.
    Christmas always entails conflicting emotions for me. I grew up Italian Catholic or Catholic Italian, I'm not sure which, but the religious aspect of Christmas was always of great importance - Midnight Mass and all. And to be brief, while over the years I've been marginalized and rejected by my Catholic church and less inclined to embrace any religion, I find the the commercial, non-religious aspect of Christmas to be hypocritical. 
    Add to that the fact that I am the worst "consumer" you may ever meet and a horrible gift-giver, and even worse gift-receiver, I find the holiday to be most unpleasant. I cannot ever decide on a gift, and when I do, I am always doubting my choice: they'll think it's stupid, stingy, cheap, not thoughtful. It's ridiculous to spend that kind of money on THAT. So, yes, it's stingy. I'll talk myself out of whatever choice I make, time runs out and I get very anxious. I really hate Christmas. Maybe it's the anxiety that I find too difficult to tolerate. When I receive a gift, my thought is "why did they spend so much money, why did they get me more junk I don't need, dust collectors, stuff that will go in a closet or the garage, or to Goodwill. What will I do with this? And why am I so stingy and unwilling to go out of my way?" And then I feel guilty for not doing anything, not doing enough, not doing more, not having the "spirit".
     More stressful than satisfying.
     If I celebrate the Holiday at all it tends to be about the food...the Italian in me is stronger than the Catholic in me. I spend hours making cookies, bread dough, fish, meatballs, ragu, lasagna. If I give away cookies, I never give enough. When others give us cookies, they give twice or three times as much. I can't seem to get the ritual right. I'm so stingy. Makes me feel anxious and bad. I really hate Christmas. More stressful than satisfying.]
So....Whichever way you choose to Observe the Feast Day, the Holiday, the New Year, We wish You and Your Loved Ones, Joy and Peace and Love. 
Buon Natale, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, 
Feliz Natal, Joyeux Noel
Happy Hanukkah
Happy New Year (we can only Hope!)

And I would like to share with you two favorite Italian/Catholic Christmas/Seasonal songs:
 Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle (Luciano Pavarotti) and Ave Maria (Il Volo). (Click the links...Some of you may especially enjoy the Video of the Italian Trio, Il Volo)



Monday, December 21, 2020

Remembering My Sister Mary Ann On What Would Have Been Her 81st Birthday

For some reason I am thinking about my sister Mary Ann who passed away in 2015. December 21 is her birthday, first day of winter, winter solstice and always easy to remember because it's just before Christmas.

With Mom and Dad 1957

We were more than 8 years apart in age so there was a fairly large gap in our childhood experiences. And she left home to join the Sisters of Mercy when I was just 12. Anyhow a few photos in tribute to her. 

With Mom back in the Middle Ages of Nuns

(left side) With the "Modern" Nuns at a Protest March

One of her Watercolors

In New Orleans with Leon and Me 1991

Having a Little Bubbly at Our Wedding 2014

Obit: Sister Mary Ann DeFrancesco

Sister Mary Ann DeFrancesco, (Dominica Marie) of the Sisters of Mercy died unexpectedly on Monday,May 11, 2015 at her home in Madison. 
Born in Hartford on December 21, 1939 of the late Dominic and Theresa (Daversa) DeFrancesco and raised in New Britain, Sister “Dee” entered the Sisters of Mercy on September 2, 1957 and professed her vows on June 26, 1960. 
After receiving her B.A. degree from Diocesan Teachers College, Madison, Sister taught for 16 years in several parish elementary schools throughout the Hartford Archdiocese prior to transitioning into the ministries of Retreat and Spiritual Direction. She did advance studies at Holy Name College , CA and received Master’s degrees in both English and Pastoral ministry from St. Joseph College now University of St. Joseph in preparation. During her last two decades in ministry Sister Dee became Spiritual Director at various centers: Blessing Place in Louisiana, Francis House of Prayer New Jersey, Emmaus Spiritual Life Center, Uncasville, and Mercy Center at Madison.Before retirement she served as Pastoral Associate at Church of the Holy Family, Hebron and ministered tirelessly in Pastoral Care for Hospice in Southeastern CT. 
In retirement, Sister Dee volunteered countless hours of ministry to her Sisters in residence at St. Mary Home.Known to all as “Dee”, Sister was of that same informal, welcoming, comfortable and comforting disposition. Everyone who crossed Dee’s path was greeted with kind and encouraging words, giving of herself tirelessly in service to others. Love of Mercy Center and its environs, naturally drew Dee outdoors, to work the garden soil, to harvest its yield, to contemplate, to read and to practice her special gift, painting with acrylics. She abounded in creative talent, was attentive to both family and friends, planning funadventures, joyful ways to keep them close. 
Universally esteemed and loved by her sisters in Community Dee will be sorely missed. Sister Mary Ann is survived by her brothers Frank and husband Leon O’Hart, Michael and his wife Claire De Francesco , nephew Joseph, niece Andrea, several close cousins, and her community of the Sisters of Mercy especially Sisters Mary Daly and Ann McGovern with whom she lived.A Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated on Monday at 6:00p.m., St. Mary Home, 2021 Albany Ave. West Hartford.

From Sister Agnes:

Sister "Dee" as she is affectionately known to me, was one of my best friends.  We lived and worked together at the Emmaus Spitirual Life Center for nine years.  I cherish the memories of her with great affection.  We cried together, laughed together, prayed together, and played together.  Very different in personalities,  Dee was my social planner.  Being a stickler for work, I could count on her to plan an outing or two so we could play.  

Dee loved her sisters and her congregation and was very loyal to them.  Always interested in the various programs of the Sisters of Mercy, she shared those with me with great enthusiasm.  She was close to her family and cared very much about their well-being and happiness.  Belonging to a French Congregation, ____, I shared our story with her as well.  She liked that I could speak French and always asked me how to say such and such in French.  She was a joy to live with, and I will miss her very much.  She left us too soon, but I know that she will watch over us from above.

Sister Agnes

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Popcorn and Kleenex on Amazon Prime

I was ordering a few odds and ends from Amazon this November and December, a few food/flower gifts for mom and family back east, and just stuff we need  that I am too paranoid to risk getting in person, like face masks, some containers to keep the mice away from the stuff in the garage pantry, chimney brushes which were not in stock at our local hardware stores...so I took advantage of ONE MONTH FREE of Amazon Prime. (At $119 per year I will not renew as I won't make up the cost in shipping and their free movies/TV series are not worth it in my opinion.

 But...here are three gay-themed entries I would recommend if anyone has Amazon Prime. 


The first, Retake, Starring: Devon Graye, Tuc Watkins follows a middle age gay man who picks up hustlers on the street in San Francisco and pays them to "role play" a past lover so he could re-live a past memory. 

The first hustler didn't satisfy his needs but the next one not only "gets it" but is adept at taking on a new identity and acting out his required role. The two take off to recreate a trip to the Grand Canyon. (not sure why it took so long to get there, but that was the only flaw) 

The dynamics and relationship between the two men is quite artfully portrayed by Graye (Brandon/Adam) and Phillips (Jonathan). Graye delivers an often delicate balance between the his role as Brandon and his real self Adam.

I'll give this one 5*stars because as gay-themed movies go, they are mostly kind of amateurish and poorly acted. This one was not only great acting but it was certainly not a "run-of-the-mill" plot. No murders, no cops chasing criminals, no guns, no loud music. Just good acting, interesting plot development and dialogue.




This is a series that I hope to finish before our free month expires. The episodes are short but packed with intensity. 

This is about two older guys (but much younger than me and in much better shape) which is told in present-day vs flashbacks. I won't be a spoiler except to say I could only get through three episodes and had to take a break. It's a tear-jerker.


And how could I forget the new movie "UNCLE FRANK" (Popcorn) About Frank, a gay Southerner and his niece, Beth. They return to the family home with for his dad's farewell. Husband Wally follows them and the long delayed coming out at the funeral is punctuated by undercurrents of Frank's father's rejection of him which are played out and take center stage.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Christmas Cookies


I did make cookies this year. It took me hours and three days. It is my one concession to Christmas. No tree. No gifts. No cards this year. Leon put up lights in the front yard. That's about it. Except for the cookies.

But no one is coming to visit. 

No coffee and cookies with friends or neighbors. It is too cold to be sitting on the deck trying to enjoy a cup of hot coffee or tea. It was 17 degrees F. this morning when I went for a walk with Benni and it is 39 now as I write this. 

So no breakfast or afternoon tea on the back deck. No gathering for Christmas Eve or Christmas Dinner. New Year's Day will be a bust.

What to do with all those cookies?



We have a social media site called NextDoor which serves our small town of 500+/- residents. So I put out an ad:

Donate to Food Bank/Shelter ....Get Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies — A 1-pound assortment of Cucidatti (Sicilian Fig Cookies)*, Biscotti** and Chocolate Totos*** (Did I mention Homemade?) 

Here's the catch: $20 for the one pound assortment — $15 of each 1 pound purchase will go to a local Food Bank or Shelter. ($5 of the 1 pound purchase will help to defray part of the cost of ingredients and containers.) 

If you choose, you can make the donation portion of the price payable by check directly to one of the charities listed below. Please feel free to donate more than $15. I will forward your check or cash as soon as possible after sales are done. Message me via NextDoor to reserve your 1-pound of cookies packaged in tins or plastic containers -- WHILE SUPPLIES LAST! 

The Charities I am working for are: 

Roadrunner Food Bank Albuquerque, 

St Elizabeth Shelter Santa Fe

The Food Depot Santa Fe, 

Allergy - Ingredient information: 

*Cuccidati - Sicilian Fig Cookies: figs, dates, raisins, orange, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, flour, eggs, sugar, vegetable shortening, milk, natural flavorings, salt, BP.                                                                                                             **Biscotti: flour, eggs, sugar, butter, hazelnuts OR almonds OR anise seed, natural flavorings, salt, BP.                 ***Aunt Stella’s Chocolate Toto: flour, cocoa powder, sugar, raisins, vegetable shortening, butter, coffee, spices, natural flavorings, salt, BP, walnuts or almonds on top of some.

So that was the ad.

I got replies. 

So far, I've sold 10 pounds of cookies (out of 11, not counting what I set aside for Leon and me and a few special friends)

Several of our neighbors were very generous and donated more than the $15 requested. 

Donations received: $190

Cookie revenue: $50

You know, my take of $50 is not going to cover the cost for flour, eggs, sugar, figs, vanilla extract, cocoa, butter, raisins, nuts, cookie tins, etc. 

But those things are already paid for. So I decided to donate the extra $50 and divvy up the $240 for the three charities. It's not much, but maybe it will help.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Charming Horse Manure

We had been talking gardens and compost and fertilizer and manure with Sylvie, a neighbor of ours who it so happens volunteers at the local horse rescue organization on Sundays...cleaning up the barn yard of manure. 

She suggested I come with her on Sunday last and I could help her shovel manure and then get some manure for my garden. Sounded like a good idea.

The Barn Yard

I took the truck, anticipating a large haul even though Leon said that horse manure will likely be full of hay seeds and the garden will then be full of weeds. Sylvie said there was lots of well composted stuff to take.

But there wasn't a lot of well composted stuff and what there was, was rather difficult to dig up as it was all around the perimeter of the stables and very compacted. Most of the barn yard was covered in fresh manure. 

Which we shoveled, and shoveled and shoveled...into one wheelbarrow which we had to wheel to a manure pile on the far side of the barn. And we shoveled and shoveled and shoveled...for two hours.

I am not one of those people who love animals. Like they are nice creatures, they are large, they are quite pretty. I'm not sure "pretty" is a good word to describe them, but you get the idea.

I will use a stereotype: it seems that horse-lovers, the ones that have to save the planet one horse at a time, are usually women. Leon's two sisters both have/had horses. The woman who runs the horse rescue fits the look. There were at least four or five other women who were either boarding their horses at the farm or who just came to "visit" the horses.

Several of them walked down the dirt road to see the herd  of "wild horses" that were also being cared for by the rescue woman. Actually they are probably "feral" rather than wild, but what do I know. 

Wild or Feral Horses

I do know that I see wild or feral horses whenever I drive along Rt. 16. I've taken pictures on occasion. Really no big deal - unless you are a horse-lover I guess.

For my part, I couldn't get out of there soon enough. Like zoos, this farm with all the penned-in horses and mules and donkeys kind of made me sad. They had no real life. They just stand around all day and munch on hay, looking bored. 

Two of them were very curious and were snooping in the bed of the pick-up truck. I think that was their thrill for the day.

Anyhow, the dirt, the dust, the manure, the fallen and deteriorating Cottonwood tree in the barnyard, the rusted fences, the adobe barn, the metal gates, piles of junk along the road...were just so depressing. But that's me.

I guess if you're a horse-lover you might find it all charming and quaint.

I didn't get much horse manure for the garden. I think I'll just stick to buying compost in 40 lb bags at Lowes.


Related Posts with Thumbnails