Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hysterical Historical

The following are two photos of my room from when I was in High School.

I swear no one knew I was gay.
On the left wall:
Mirror. Light up goose lamp with grass skirt headdress. Year-round Christmas lights. Plastic shopping bag from super trendy store in the Beverly Center called "Heaven" (which I had never been to, but been told it was super cool by a friend who did go.) Signed album cover by Lauren Bacall. Signed album cover from Manhattan Transfer. Signed tour poster by Amy Grant.

On the right wall:
Hugo Boss Ads. Valentino Ads. Calvin Klein Ads. (all the ads were pulled from "W" Magazine back when it used to be newspaper sized and made great free posters.) A globe hanging from the ceiling with a plane circling it.

Here's the other side.
Left wall: Profile of Paul Reuben's (a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman). Calvin Klein Ad. Pee Wee Herman for LA Eyeworks ad. Grace Jones in sunglasses. Calvin Klein himself (!) in a Calvin Klein ad. Handsome man in sunglasses. Paul Schaeffer. Pee Wee Herman. Hot shirtless guy.

Right wall:
Calvin Klein underwear ad with men and women. Hot guy with shirt open ad for Basic Elements. Amy Grant poster. Two Calvin Klein collages. A palm tree lamp. A tiki carving from my grandmother. And going off to the side another fashion ad (probably Calvin Klein).

As I would put up or take down any pictures from my wall I would count. How many men versus how many women. I needed to make sure no one would think I was gay. Because I was not gay. I was just nervous about being perceived as gay. And I needed pictures of hot shirtless men on my wall.

I always counted Lauren Bacall and a fully clothed Amy Grant as equals to any guy in underwear. See? Balanced. Just as many men as women. If it was a one page ad with the same guy repeated in different clothes, he counted as one guy. Good lord, how would I ever balance it out if I had to count him as 12?

Occasionally I would put up one of those Calvin Klein ads with men AND women in them in their underwear. Having to look at half naked women was the price I had to pay to make sure that no one thought I was gay. Because I was not gay. I just didn't like that the women were half naked. It just had to be wrong to objectify them like that. I only had the men up there as inspiration for me to stop eating ice cream and start running. Yeah. Inspiration. Don't you see?

It was all a big choice you have to understand. Obviously I needed to be gay. Looking at all those fashion ads totally pushed me over the edge.

I probably should mention that the one wall you can't see in any of the photos is painted in an oil based super shiny FIRE ENGINE RED. My parents will never be able to paint over it. Luckily that room is upstairs.

Years later I would have the chance to meet my idol, Calvin Klein. True to celebrity meeting form, I was literally dumbstruck. I had babbled on and on about how I HAD to meet him and why I HAD to meet him and that I would DIE if was so close and did not actually meet him!!!

Lyle went up to Mr Klein, introduced himself, pointed towards me and said how I'd love to have a photo taken with him. He came over, Lyle introduced me and I tried to not foam at the mouth or throw up. Then the photo was offered and everyone waited for me to go over to the available side of Calvin Klein. I was rooted to my spot. I could not move. I did not speak. And this is the photo of my shining achievement.
Nice one.

Vote No on Prop 8, November 4th!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's the write thing to do.

I've lost sleep over this. I've taken an internet holiday to clear my head. We've got signs on our cars. Signs in our home windows. We've given money. On Monday and Tuesday (election day) I shall be on a street corner with my "No on 8" sign.

What more can I do?

I will challenge EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO READS THIS POST to open the dialogue with the people they work with, are related to or meet on the street. If they are not California voters, they probably know a California voter.


A personal connection is what it takes to change the hearts and minds of people. Yes, it's that simple.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Summer round up

Well, summer is almost over. It was only 98˚ yesterday and at night I have to wear shoes. Sad days indeed.
As I was clearing a camera memory card off, I came across these photos I took during the height of crazy bird days here in my back yard. (Most photos will embiggen nicely if you click on them.)

Now we are just at the point of regular bird days.

How many birds can you find in the fig tree?

Don't cheat.

Keep counting.

And that's just the ones that fit nicely in the camera viewfinder...

Let's not forget the squirrels. We chased one out from under the bird feeder this morning... okay, Cooper chased it. I didn't even see it until Cooper made it move (quickly) up that tree.

(sigh) I haven't seen a hummingbird in weeks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Let's play doctor! (ages 2+)

Does this seem inappropriate?

Or does my mind just "go there"?

"My first Doctor Kit"

"Ages 2+"

Who wants to play doctor!?

As seen at Target.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Table. Set. Match.

This is how you set a table for dinner when you know you have a working dishwasher.
From the left:
Bread plate with butter scooping knife
Second course fork (grilled halibut over a spinach salad with haricot verts, fingerling potatoes and a hard boiled egg tossed with a warm brown butter anchovy dressing)
Entrée fork
Silver charger (we will be plating in the kitchen)
Cloth napkin (we also have a working washer & dryer)
Entrée knife (it was lamb kabobs on a rosemary skewer)
Second course knife
First course soup spoon (last of summer heirloom tomatoes gazpacho)

Above the charger, from the left:
Dessert spoon (raspberry gratin)
Glass for red wine with lamb
Glass for white wine (with soup and fish)
Glenn Plaid crystal glass for... water.
(not seen: cocktail glass from before dinner)

Repeat for five.

Run dishwasher three times. (five if you count the two times it ran during preparation.)

What? You want to see the food as well? Fine, but I forgot to take a photo of the soup.

Warm spinach salad with grilled halibut, heirloom cherry tomatoes, niçoise olives, haricot vert, fingerling potatoes, hard boiled egg, and a warm brown butter anchovy dressing.

Rosemary skewered lamb kabob with lima bean puree and feta parsley garnish

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yo, Ho!

I am a Polo Pirate.

There, I said it. They say admitting it is the first step. Who are we kidding? I have no intention of quitting!

I fell in love with the über-glam of Ralph Lauren Polo's take on the whole pirate motif a year or more ago. I didn't buy it then. Too gauche. Too new. Too "too". Instead I treated myself to a near-Polo Pirate item of a skull and cross-bone toiletries bag for travel.

Lyle did me one better and got me the Polo Pirate umbrella!

But I stopped. Taken too far and a minor obsession can become a fetish and suddenly you're known as the weird "Pirate guy" behind your back.

Then last Spring I found the Polo Pirate flip flops. On sale. I had to. Michael Guy threatened to make me walk the plank as he was having the same obsession in Chicago and we were starting to overlap. Pirate twins? No thank you.

Then I recently came into the possession of a 30% off coupon for Polo merchandise (including Rugby by Polo) and online purchases. I may have gotten carried away.
Go ahead. Take in a deep breath. Let it out while you slowly shake your head in disbelief. Who knew there was so much to be had! I found the treasure!

However I make this solemn vow to you now: I will never wear them all together. (seriously, flip flops with a bow tie in the rain? As if!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Get it? Got it? Good.

Somebody out there gets it.

I ranted about my new term "fake Christians" the other day and a lot of people got it. Mostly you, my choir, that I knew already and was preaching to.

I got this note that my mother received from a friend she had forwarded my rant onto,
"Thanks for the link. Nicely written! I agree with Jim's rant and serve a church he'd feel comfortable visiting. Did you know Faith Lutheran is the only Lutheran church in Whatcom County that's 'Reconciling in Christ"? That's Lutheran-speak for "we welcome all people, regardless of age, sex, race, or orientation."
Hooray! Somebody in my hometown gets it! Lots of somebody's! And that church is walking distance from my parents home.

Then I saw this today (via, Signing For Something. It is a website with a purpose I can get behind:
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been taught, “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government …” (Doctrine and Covenants 134:9). Recent action taken by the First Presidency in support of a constitutional amendment in the State of California has rallied us to the cause of freedom.
So I went. I signed the petition. I let them know about my rant on my blog. I'm not a Mormon, but I fully support the church staying out of politics.

I think there are some pissed off real Christians who are sick of being embarrassed by the fake Christians, but are too polite to say anything. Or perhaps they don't agitate foolishly to get themselves on TV news. Either way, it seems time to stop this nonsense and get back to raising people up and not trying to hold people down.

As the political campaigns keep telling us this election will be a milestone, a turning point, a change of the path we are on... but which side will you fall on to?

No matter who gets elected, with the current economic outlook I think we're going to need charitable societies more in the next few years than ever before.

I think we may be on to something here. (pssst... tell your friends)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Smash 'em! Crash 'em!

From the day we moved in, I hated the fireplace.

But we rent, and it's not my house to tear the fireplace out of. But oh, how I hated it. I hated it so much I covered the bad Formica plastic fake ass faux wood mantle in fake Burberry plaid fabric for Christmas the first year and never took it off.

We talked and talked about what we would do, if we could do, whatever we wanted to do. The chimney was removed from the outside of the house long ago and nothing about the fireplace remotely functions. It was just there. ALL OVER THERE.

I had a brilliant plan that if we owned the house, I would rip everything out down to the wall, smooth it over, flip the furniture around to face south instead of North and place a double sided gas fireplace in the south wall so we'd have a fireplace inside and out on the front porch. I'm like that. I think BIG.
I hated this fireplace so much, I couldn't find any full frontal photos of it for this post. I always cropped it out of the picture whenever I took photos around the house.

But we don't own the place. And I'm not investing that kind of money in it. The landlord is not a "big" thinker.

Then one day, Lyle mentioned my "big idea" to the landlord and she said, "Well, not this month, but look into it. I understand. I never liked that brick fireplace either. You know, it's all hardwood under the hearth. You can take it out if you want, I don't care." (all said in her Peruvian accent)

That weekend I realized that the brick fireplace in our house had become like the weather. To paraphrase my dad, "Everyone talks about how ugly that fireplace is, but nobody ever does anything about it."

And while Lyle was outside in the garden and Chandra was writing on her laptop outside, I got out a hammer and a chisel in the living room.
Note the area on the floor next to the carpet. 20 bricks remain in the center of what was the hearth.

Oops! Did I just do that? Day one and I've removed about 30 bricks from the hearth. IT WAS NOT NEARLY AS EASY AS I HAD HOPED.

But wherever there was actual hardwood under the brick, they did come up. I tap, tap, tapped away all by myself and then carried out the bricks 7 at a time to the side yard. The broken brick and mortar bits I collected into a bucket and wound up dumping under the deck in the back yard.

Lyle came in and caught me at final clean up. "I'm cleaning it up!" I shouted in a preemptive strike. He just stood there shaking his head. "What? You don't like it? You're angry that I started this? I just did the front of the hearth so if we didn't want to go any further we don't have to..." I rambled nervously on...

"That's not it," said Lyle, "It's just now that you've started, I want that thing OUT!!!"

That night I was sore. Brick work is hard work. The hammering is bad, the clean up is awful and the carrying rubble and bricks out is the worst.

The next morning, once I was able to move again and Lyle was outside, curiosity got the better of me... "How hard would it be to get rid of just one side arch?" I wondered.
Note the hardwood flooring revealed in the front. Formerly under brick.

Tap, tap, tap... Tap, tap, tap... Tap, tap, tap... and before you know it, I've knocked off this top part of the left side. But I can't go on. I have a shower and lie down to take a nap in the afternoon. So very sore.
The plaster on the wall behind all that brick is going to come off with the brick removal. This thing was not built for the temporary.

An hour later I wake up and can hear in the distance somewhere, Tap, tap, tap... Tap, tap, tap... Tap, tap, tap... CRASH. In my head I begin to panic, "Oh no, oh no! Lyle is stealing my job!" or the worse thought, "Oh no, he's going to make a much bigger mess than I did!"

Up to now, I had only used a regular hammer and chisel. But there he is, with the sledgehammer. "It goes tonight!" says Lyle with a maniacal look in his eye.

"Let's roll up there carpet and cover the furniture", I suggest. "If you're getting out the sledgehammer, it's gonna be messy." We also lock the dogs out of the living room because they keep trying to eat the rubble and I'm worried about flying debris hitting them. Yeah, it's gonna get messy. I think we probably should have changed out of the flip flops we had on, but it was pretty funny to watch us both jump when bricks went flying towards our feet. I guess we care more about the dogs than our toes.

We kept promising, "just until this part" or "just until that part" "Ten more minutes" "One more bucketful of rubble" but we couldn't stop ourselves.

Suddenly I broke through the proverbial wall. Pain no longer mattered. Accomplishment! Completion! One goal is all I have in my mind! I went round the loony bend and gave a crazy laugh as I busted down the entire side arch on the right. "I hate you fucking bricks!" (crazy laugh) "Ugly! Ugly! Ugly!" I chanted on each hit, and then with a creak and a moan, the outside wall fell in and the top threw up a few pieces which brought out a girly squeal as I ran for the protection of my toes.

As the literal dust settled, I realized the awful truth. Shit. Now all that had to be taken outside.
The rubble pile in the driveway Its very much in the way and its been 4 months. I can't move it. I keep begging Lyle to conjure up a project in the yard that will force him to move it and use it.

Bits and bobs thrown under the deck to keep down anything that may consider growing under there. Free homemade gravel!

But the major work was done. 90% of the fireplace was removed. Waiting for discovery behind it was a (gasp) attractive original fireplace!
Much more in keeping with the style and scale of the house.

We showered. I couldn't lift my arms to wash my hair. Instead I lowered my head to my hands. We called it a day and went out for dinner. That was Sunday.

Monday. I ignored the fireplace.
Tuesday. I caught the bug again. I sat down at the last 10% of the brick with my small hammer and chisel. Tap, tap, tap... Tap, tap, tap... Tap, tap, tap...

Aw screw it! Wham! Wham! WHAM! I beat the last remaining bricks to smithereens, cleaned up the rubble, hauled it outside, dusted, mopped and had a shower.

I was sitting on the couch in the living room when Lyle came home.

"Hi Honey," greeted Lyle
"How are you?"
Good. Can you cook dinner tonight?
(there is a long pause as I can feel Lyle's gaze burning through me and then scanning the house) "Can you wave hello to me?"
"You couldn't stop yourself could you?"
"And now your arms don't work. Do they?"
Not just my arms. My hands don't work either. You may have to feed me.
(There is a long silent pause. Lyle let's out a heavy sigh)
Are you mad at me?
"No. I'm just so happy that fireplace is completely gone."
Whew. I'm happy you're happy. Please make dinner. I'm very hungry.

Lyle left the room. I sat on the couch with my arms vibrating and my hands throbbing - so hungry. Lyle returned to the room with a step ladder and a hammer.

What are you doing?
Nothing doesn't require a step ladder and a hammer.
"I just want to see something."
I just wanted to see dinner.
"I won't be more than a couple of minutes."
(At this point he is at the fireplace and I begin to panic. I know where he is headed.)
No! Stop! Don't start this! It can only lead to trouble!!!!

Remember this fireplace and mantle?
We had only removed the brick from below. The mirror was still in place. Lyle was determined to find out if it could be removed.

He started at the side. He started to rip stuff out of the walls. Brackets for the ugly shelves that ran up each side, those came out. He wanted to figure out what was behind the box that was built behind the mirror. He discovered the the box was built out of mirrored tiles that had been painted over. Those came out. A dark space behind the mirror held a shape. He got the flashlight. And then hew found what he was looking for...

The original mantle.Behind the mirror Lyle found a scrap of newspaper that had been used as a wedge. He unfolded it and it was dated from 1943.

Lyle stopped when he realized that the mirror was too big for us to move by ourselves. However fate, or dumb luck, sent our good friend Tony over to borrow some clothes on Wednesday and the next thing you know, the mirror is down and moved into the hallway. (where, by the way, it fits like a dream and is already mounted to the wall.)

Patching started on the wall surrounding the fireplace. It had been been plaster and lathe. Now it is lathe and putty. We decided to go with a "rustic" finish. Okay, we decided that since I couldn't get it any smother, we would tell people it was a "rustic" finish and be glad it was over.
I painted the fireplace stark white with a primer. It was filthy. 60+ years of dirt had crept behind that mirror. After I painted the walls brown to match the room, I decided I would paint the mantle and fireplace white as a temporary solution until I decided what color I wanted.

And now, 3 months later, I like it white. I like being done. I love the openness of the room. I like to sit and stare at my non-working fireplace. It was totally worth it.

From this:
To this: (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Polygamist Cult against Marriage Equality

I promised myself I would write something upbeat and happy before I ranted again. I promised myself I would take a day off and ignore the news. Apparently I broke my promise already.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Mormons living outside California have been asked to volunteer for a telephone campaign to help pass a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in the state.

Never underestimate the power of fake Christians.

In fairness I must post a link to this video. One family gets it. Thankfully they are telling their neighbors.

I have donated $250 to the No on 8 campaign.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

25.4 million links on your chain in hell

It's being reported that 25.4 million dollars has been spent to defeat marriage equality in California.

I've been working on a new term, "fake Christians". Rachel tells me there is already a word that applies and it's "fundamentalist" but I think fake Christian is more direct and appropriate.

Let's start with all that money. 25.4 million dollars that isn't feeding, clothing, housing or helping anyone. Praise Jesus! He would never have helped those poor people anyway! It's God's will because I am one with him and know his every move and desire, I am just that good! In fact he told me that people on skid row deserve to be there and I should keep my car window rolled up and tinted so I don't see them.

I attended George Fox College in Oregon for a whole term. Many lovely people and lovely friends met and made there (even met my first boyfriend through there). But apparently they also let in some fake Christians who recently hung an effigy of Obama on campus. WWJHIE? (Who Would Jesus Hang In Effigy?)

I blame fake Christians. I know quite a few people who identify as Christians and I believe them in their actions and words. They are not the same people and quite frankly are getting pissed off at the people who are hijacking the name of Christian. How can you tell if someone is a fake Christian? The minute they tell you that they know exactly what God wants and how God wants it to happen. Think of the Pope. Possibly an okay person (though not by me), but when he starts telling that God speaks through him, watch out!

I think that the when you become a Christian you open up a direct link with God and your relationship is unlike anyone else's. There may be people who can guide you, stimulate you, and discussion is always a good thing. But when one group decides that their religious viewpoint is the only way, Hello Crusaders and welcome to the Inquisition (but I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition!)

And I am thoroughly sick of of these fake Christians twisting language and suspending rational thought.

Pro-Life - uh, I'm not anti-life. I think that if you really wanted to limit abortion then you would be in favor of comprehensive sex education so no one is forced to choose an abortion. If you know how babies are made and you don't want one, then you would know how to stop that. I think abortion should be the last choice in a long list of choices. Unfortunately fake "Pro-lifers" think there should be no discussion of how sex works and then are shocked when someone doesn't want a baby they didn't know they were getting. And just as an aside, why is life so precious when its a fetus and so expendable once it reaches 18 and joins the military? Or perhaps its still a baby and just happens to live in the wrong part of the world. If life is as special as you believe, take all that money and energy you devote to protests and campaigns and give it to people who already have living children and can't feed them. Precious and scared doesn't end at birth.

Pro-Family - Hmmmmm, who is more family friendly? The person who thinks you should have health care coverage, a house to live in, your children should be educated and live in peace, or the person who thinks its everyone for themselves, good luck, good riddance, stay ignorant and let's drop a bomb? Nothing says pro-family like being able to go to a hospital when you are sick and living to see your family another day.

Protect Marriage - My wedding was so earth shaking that I hear 25 straight people divorced the same day. Funny thing, 25 people divorced the next day, and the next day, and the next day but I didn't get married anymore. What marriage is threatened by two people getting the same rights to visit each other in the hospital? John McCain's 2nd marriage? Newt Gingrich's 2nd marriage or maybe his 3rd? The other argument is that if marriage equality is granted then we will have to teach the children that being gay is normal. What a horror! Next you'll want to teach them that black people are just as smart and capable as white!

The Bible I read, with the teaching of the Jesus I read about implied a personal relationship with real sacrifice. Lifting up the weakest amongst us and stripping away the lies and hypocrisy. Though I don't attend a church and I no longer have a firm belief in one religion over another, I still play by my rules. I do my best to not harm others. I try to be honest and fair (yes, I return the change if I get too much). I give of myself and if you know me, you will never go hungry.

I think it's time for the real Christians to take back their good name. I know a few who are already working on this and I applaud you. Gather your friends, take a stand, pray for wisdom not results, and tell the world that no one speaks for you but you. Remind those fake Christians that I have a direct link to God and I know exactly what he has planned for them... uh oh...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Brother, can you spare a billion?

In the past I have been a little fiscally irresponsible. However I have seen (some) of the errors of my ways and we have been working hard to pay off debt and live on cash, not credit cards. It can be difficult at times being self employed. Often a client owes you money and doesn't pay you the day you complete your work. Technically you have earned enough money, but it won't be here for three weeks. So you bust out the credit card to get by and promise you will pay it when the money arrives. Well that's how it should work in theory.

Now we are managing it better at the moment and things are looking good. As long as I still have work and clients. But these times are indeed troubling.

Because I am newly responsible, I am looking ahead to a day when my financial empire could crumble. I am not expecting it to, but everyone (and every company) should be wise enough to have a "what if" plan and know your options.

I've decided to put my hand out now before the trouble comes. If the government is giving out money because a business is too big to fail (and how did that happen again? Mega mergers approved by...? Oh yeah, the government.) then I would like to point out my vast financial empire and its far reaching impact.

If I go under we will have to let go of the housekeeper. She will stop sending money to El Salvador and a nation will topple. Save me in the interest of global stability.

If I go under I will have to let go of the gardener. I believe he employs former gang members and with no legitimate income they will return to the streets. Save me in the interest of domestic stability.

If I go under I will no longer be able to go out to eat. Save me for the sake of the farmers in rural America.

If I go under I will be forced to stop shopping. Multiple sweat shops in Asia will go out of business. Save me for the sake of the Children.

If I go under I will no longer be able to keep up my beauty regime of facials, waxing, nail salons or highlighting. Save me for the sake of the most vulnerable in our society, save me for the sake of the gays. (Or your eyes, think of your own precious eyes!)

I am sick of hearing about "Wall Street" versus "Main Street". Is there any barrier any more? As far as I can see the only difference is influence. Apparently "main street" doesn't have any say in how things are run but Main street is the one getting dumped on and has to fix all the ills of Wall street. I feel like an abused spouse. Beat me up, tell me I don't know anything, blame me for being greedy and then make me clean up the mess you made. Hey thanks Wall street.

If anyone knows of a nice shelter in Europe, let me know. You'd be surprised how fast I could pack my things and get the hell out of here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cooper & Lola!

Finally, the photoshoot is over.

All I want to do is get back to my real life. Which obviously includes tormenting the dogs with feather boas.