Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Storm!

We are getting a little snow here in Boston. Again.



Here's the view of Boston, from the middle of the Mass. Ave. bridge around noon o'clock.



This is the view of Cambridge from the same vantage point.

It looks like we are in for it again, though at least this time it is all suppose to be fluffy and the temperature is suppose to drop like a rock, so it will stay this way for a while instead of turning into ankle deep slush and ice water.

At least here, 2008 is going out with a bang.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day



I had a very nice time yesterday afternoon at Chez Wahz. Old friends, good food and champagne. Funny cards were exchanged as well as funny stories.

This morning, against all expectations I actually got up early and went to the gym. I am beginning to think my pal Monkey is right and I am possessed. However, it got the blood circulating and by the time I had showered, I had come to my senses and I am having a rather leisurely day around the house. I will toss some laundry in the machine and later I will probably head out to pick up a few groceries.

I am trying to make the most of the fact that I have all this free time this weekend. If anyone sees me hurrying to do anything, please give me a clip in the ear and a talking to. I don't have plans and I really need to keep it that way.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

C'est si bon



Another sad loss this year. Miss Eartha Kitt has passed away. I will remember her for a lot of songs that she put her own special spin on, but when I think of Eartha, this is the song I think of.

I one day, long ago got to sit near Eartha at the A House bar in P'town one afternoon. I didn't chat her up, it was enough of a thrill to be sitting 2 stools down from her.

She was a true icon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Xmas to all.....

Alice and I just want to wish everyone a Happy Xmas, Solstice, Chanukah, Kwnaza or whatever you do to celebrate this time of year.



Here's hoping the fat man brings you whatever is on your list.

Sweet dreams

I mentioned in a recent post that I was getting a CPAP. I was suppose to pick it up last week, but the snow storm put the kibosh on that. So, I went and picked it up today.

It turned out to be an appropriate day to do it too. For starters, I got a lousy nights sleep last night so I am, to use Yellowdog Granny's words, feeling like hammered shit. When I did drag out of bed, there was a report on NPR on a new study on the importance of good sleep to your health. In particular, heart health and weight management.

So, here it is Xmas Eve and Santa brought me a CPAP. Hopefully, it will be easier to sleep with at home than it was at the sleep center. I have already made up my mind that I will just sleep with the damned thing no matter what. Dr. Fred is actually very good about common sense and doesn't rush off to the most expensive or most complex answer when I have a problem. So more often than not, we manage to find a cheap easy solution to any complaints I've had since I've started seeing him. After going over the results from my sleep study, he was pretty adamant about my sleeping with the thing, so I trust his judgment on this.

On the upside. I am feeling confident that this gadget will help ensure my continuing bachelorhood, unless someone has fantasies about sleeping with someone who sounds like Darth Vadar at night.

So. That's what Santa brought me this year. Hopefully, a good nights sleep.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snocial Science

As Wahz and I slipped down the snowy sidewalk at Forest Hills, grumbling and fretting our way through the snow storm, Wahz turned to me and said, "You know 20 years ago, we wouldn't have thought twice about walking out to JP in this, because it was so pretty out."

I agreed, but pointed out that we would probably have had a couple of bracing cocktails in us before we left his place and that by the time brunch was over everyone would have been 3 sheets to the wind.

We were on our way to our friend C's house for a Solstice brunch. C. doesn't really do Christmas anymore, but it's nice to do something for the season, so he usually has a couple of people over between the first day of winter and New Years. This year it was a combination of winter solstice and "Hogswatch" a mythical holiday from a book by Terry Pratchett that we all love, which is a send up of Christmas, among other things.

Dinner was lovely. C. had opted to order in Chinese, which he filled out with a few special touches of his own and the table was a thing of beauty. This is no surprise, since C. is a retired scenic designer. However, C.'s mad culinary genius was not to be entirely silenced. Dessert was a white fruitcake that he made, which was served warm with a zabaglione to go over it.

We had a delightful time and left sober as judges. Which later really struck me, since in the old days we used to refer to the holidays as "Drunkmas".

For my part, I have developed gastric problems which keeps me from drinking much. This is quite a change from my youth, when I never met a cocktail I didn't like. I can't say I'm terribly sorry. Starting off my day with a clear head the morning after, really is it's own reward. However, I can't regret the happy alcoholic fog I wandered around in during the holidays when I was young. I will never be able to look back with anything but fondness on Christmas Day spent at our late friend Steven's house, which started off with a glass of champagne in your hand at noon as soon as you walked through the door and ended 4 hours later staggering home after port, Stilton and walnuts. Steven was an old New England Yankee and a great believer in traditions. One of these traditions was that if he invited friends to Christmas dinner, they were going to walk out of the house with at least one bottle of good champagne under their belt by the time they left.

These days I have Christmas with Wahz at his house with a few other old friends. Conversation will turn to Christmas with Steven and that in turn will bring back memories of epic parties of the past. Who was it that always passed out in a hallway and would be stepped over for the rest of the evening once the party got into full swing? Who got caught doing the host's boyfriend in the guest bathroom? Famous party misdeeds that live on in legend. It was fun at the time and it is still fun to remember, because it happened in a far away land called our youth.

I read Susan Cheever's piece which she wrote for the Times about epic drunken holiday parties from years ago and the fact that a lot less booze seems to get consumed at parties now and no one smokes. This was unheard of in my youth and so it would seem in Ms. Cheever's as well. I thought it was a good piece of writing and really enjoyed it. However the comments that were left were a bit discouraging. The majority of them seemed to be in terms of scolding. I can only assume from the tone of the comments that the individuals writing them spent their youths doing good works and attending temperance meetings. Speaking for myself, I have to say I was as badly behaved as most people are in their 20's and early 30's. I can't say I regret a minute of it either.

One gets the impression from the current trend of thought that the new nanny society is ending youthful indiscretion, but I am fairly certain that young people out there are even now, getting hammered, waking up with blinding hangovers and in general living life to its fullest. This is as it should be and I suppose that equally, whenever people of a certain disposition get past a certain age, they are bound to disapprove of anything that looks like young people might be enjoying themselves. In turn today's young people will go out and behave excessively and with any luck, will live to tell the tale when moderation or outright abstinence becomes their lot in life. No doubt, some of them are merely drinking and smoking their way into their roles as the scolds of tomorrow.

As for myself, I'm glad I misbehaved when I was still young enough to do it and that eventually I grew up and changed my ways instead of turning into a sloppy old drunk. I am also thankful that I still have a few friends who survived from those days so that we can reminisce about those times from the safety and comfort of our relative old age.

As for the young folks that are drinking and smoking and carrying on, good for you.

For all the vinegar faced old shrews who are going on about the evils of drink among other things, I can only say I'm sorry you never had any fun when you were young, but stop trying to take it out on the rest of us.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More snow






We are getting another winter storm here in Boston. The photos are from earlier this afternoon. Since then, it has decided to start throwing down a mix of rain and frozen rain. I understand we can look for some sleet as well.

It's going to be so much fun getting into work tomorrow. I really envy my friends who are retired.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bread and Soup



It is pretty snowy here in Boston. We got about a foot of snow last night and it has been spitting snow all day. Plus it's colder than the balls on a brass monkey. Though it doesn't feel that bad because for a switch, the wind is giving us a break.

However, to get into the spirit of the thing, I decided to get all domestic and make pea soup and bread. The pea soup by the way rocks. If you don't believe me, ask RG who came over for a visit. He was going to leave before the soup was done, but with very little arm twisting he agreed to stay until the bread was baked and the soup was ready. Either he really liked the soup or he's a really good actor, since he ate 2 bowls.

The bread was okay. I was trying out a new recipe for whole wheat bread and next time I think I will add a little more salt. It's not terrible, but it was a tad on the bland side. Nice texture, but I think it needed a bit more salt to bring up the flavor.

So, I am full of soup and bread and I may need to have a brief food coma before I tackle cleaning my now restored bathroom.

I kind of love the first few days of winter that are like this when spending the day being domestic and making cold weather food still has the novelty factor going for it. By mid January I am going to be losing my mind and praying for warm weather. For now, I'm just going to enjoy it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow day

We are suppose to be getting our first big storm of the season today. The last report I heard predicted between 6 and 12 inches. The snow has just started to fly. I suppose I will have to go out and get some pictures, but at the moment I am enjoying the fact that we got cut loose from work early and I have not had to deal with slipping around on the shit.

However, it will be sort of nice if we actually have a white Christmas this year.

Yummy Xmas

Yesterday, the mail hottie Claudio stopped by my office to deliver a package. I didn't take much notice at first since I thought it was just something I had ordered for faculty.

Then I looked at the return label. Those awesome Oregonians Mark and Roger sent me a care package full of holiday goodness. Habenero Dill Pickles, Tomatilla Salsa and 3 kinds of jam! Raspberry, Apricot and their own special blend that they call "Black and Blue" jam, which as the name implies is made with blackberries an blueberries. As good as it sounds, I am prepared to tell you since I am having some on top of my post workout English muffin, it is in fact better than it sounds.

As I get older I am not that big on receiving presents for Xmas anymore. Usually it entails getting some toy or useless item that you really don't need and will more than likely will wind up in the back of the closet.

I am however more than willing to make an exception for such things as the Nieces annual "heart attack in a box" package of baked goodies and I can also say that I just love my surprise package from Mark and Roger. Getting consumer crap is one thing. Getting something that actually took some effort and was made with care seems as I get older a much more sincere expression of friendship.

I have been lucky enough in the past year to get a box of goodies from Mark and Roger, so I know what I have to look forward to. You can all begin to envy me now. The only problem will be to restrain myself from scarfing it all down like the greedy pig I am.

Thanks again guys, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tagged

I got tagged by the niece with a meme. Since I am trying to write a couple of longer pieces and I'm a little desperate for material until I post these pieces, I figure what the hell.

You are suppose to send this along to 2 other people as well as the person who sent it, but I figure, the Niece will read this and I'm hoping at least 2 people will check my blog today, so my work here is done

Two names you go by:

1. Tony
2. Anthony

Two things you are wearing right now:

1. reading glasses
2. argyle socks

Two things you want very badly at the moment:

1. Good Coffee
2. New hard drive for my laptop.

Two people who will most likely send this back:

1. Not going to pass it along
2. Seriously, I'm not passing it along

Name two things you did yesterday:

1. worked
2. Gym

Two things you ate yesterday:

1. soup
2. oatmeal

Two people you last spoke to:

1. Doralong
2. Frank our IT consultant

Two things you are doing tomorrow:

1. Painful workout
2. getting my CPAP machine


Two states you'd like to visit:

1. Oregon
2. New Mexico


Two favorite beverages:

1. coffee
2. water

Yeah, I know, my life is non-stop excitement.

Whitman Sampler

I must have pissed off the weather gods who have decided to channel my father. "Stop your crying, or I'll give you something to cry about!"

So far this morning, here in Boston, we have had snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain.

The sidewalks are unhappy and are taking their hostility out on pedestrians. Among the more brainless sights I've seen are people out riding their bicycles. Can we say "death wish"?

I think I will keep my comments about the weather to myself from now on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weather report

It is turning into a typical New England winter day. I was raining lightly when I left for the gym this morning. A couple hours later, when I left for work, it was pelting sleet. Then I chatted online with RG, who is a couple of towns over. It's snowing out there. WTF?

I find myself almost missing the winter in Vermont. At least up there, once it gets cold, it's cold. There are no sneaky surprises with 10 degree weather one day and 50 the next. Once it's cold, it's cold. You just have to get used to it.

This has nothing to do with thinking of myself as a hardy New Englander. I am pretty sure it's more about wanting the weather to just make up its fucking mind. Fer Christ's sake! It's December! Just get it over with.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh Tannenbaum!

Birdie was asking about peoples favorite Xmas memories. So, I thought I would repost this story from last year. It seemed to be pretty popular, so I figured no one would mind rereading it and if anyone is new to the blog, I think it offers valuable insights into some of the more formative experiences of my childhood.



*RG has reposted his Xmas story from last year. For those of you who havent' read it, I highly recommend that you check it out. And if you did read it last year, I can say it is just as wonderful a second time around.

Oh Tannenbaum!

Say what you like about my parents child rearing skills, Christmas was always a big deal around the house. I think this was due in part to my mother's childhood experience of the Great Depression and the old man's toyless childhood. My Pepe was of a rather stern disposition and felt that children did not need to be playing with toys, they needed to be out working. In contrast, my Grandma did what she could to provide the furniture of childhood for my mom and her brothers and sister, but there wasn't much money. While some of this influenced my Dad's own parenting technique, he did make sure that there were toys under the tree, come the morning of December 25th. The fact that the situation by lunch time had deteriorated to a state of trench warfare didn't matter as long as the presents made it under the tree.

In this spirit, every year our family went through the agonizing ritual of “The Christmas Tree”.

My mother would announce that it was time to go out and “get a tree, before all the good ones are gone.” we would be shepherded into the Ford and off we would go on the annual quest.

My mother had been in charge of getting the tree, ever since the now infamous episode in our family history, where the old man had been allowed, while shithammered, to go get the tree unsupervised. To this day my mother still brings up the unlovely specter of the “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”.

After that my mother exercised due diligence. The disgrace of the “stick” as she also referred to it, was never to be repeated and the entire family was dragooned into going out to find a decent looking tree. In all fairness to my mother, the tree did really look like it had been grown on a bare rock and then napalmed just before it was harvested. The specter of this tree seemed to haunt her every holiday and no matter what the circumstance she would dutifully head off in the direction of the tree lots even when she was actually sick as opposed to her ground state of hypochondria.

At the time, she was the only female in the house. There were my father and my 2 brothers to boss around, but my older sister had flown the coop by the time I was 8. Neither of my brothers had any patience for this, nor did my father. Eventually the spirit of rebellion against this holiday tyranny formed in the breasts of the male population of our household. Finally, my father and brothers refused to go tree shopping. However, it was also decided that my mother could not be expected to deal with a six foot plus Christmas tree by herself, so at the age of 10, I was volunteered to accompany my mother on her tree buying expeditions.

Among my mother's eccentricities was the belief that the perfect tree was at the next tree lot. What this usually entailed was visiting every Christmas tree lot in the area, only in the end to wind up back at the original lot, to purchase the first tree that she had liked.

Thus every year, a couple of weeks before Xmas, Mom and I would get into the car and start our search. She knew exactly what she was looking for. A Scotch pine. She had a deep seated dislike of firs because they shed too much. She did not like small trees. They had to have the right shape. She favored broad conical trees, big fat pyramids that could hold what became a vast collection of Christmas tree decorations. Over the years things changed and grew. Ugly decorations made by the eager hands of children were replaced by carefully chosen glass balls. The old fat incandescent Christmas lights that I still love with their saturated colors were replaced by the modern fairy light type of tree lights. The only constant was the angel that sat on top of the tree, “Suzie the Christmas Angel” which my Mom had purchased when my older sister, Susan had been a small child.

Being a little fairy, I really didn't mind. The prospect of decorating the tree was always a big deal for me. My mother was willing to spend ages making sure the ornaments were just so and if it meant taking every last piece of tinsel off the tree and starting over, so be it.

The penultimate tree experience came though the year I was 14. By then we had graduated to the 65 Plymouth wagon, a car that could seat 10 people with comfort. It was a car designed for my mother to finally indulge her every Christmas tree related fantasy of excess.

Our first stop was at a new lot. This was unusual in that ordinarily the first place, and usually by virtue of it being the first lot, it would be our ultimate destination was Polino's greenhouse, after having scoured every other tree lot in central western Vermont.

We looked around a bit and my mother was dismissing the offerings as being not nearly as nice as the trees that she usually got at Polino's, when she saw, “the tree”. I can only imagine that Ahab got the same look in his eye the first time he saw Moby Dick.

It was quite the tree. It was a scotch pine and it really was something else, thinking back, the tree had to be 8 feet tall. She made the man selling the trees hold it up for her as she circled it seeking out imperfections. At the base, it easily spread to a width of 6 feet and it was full and beautifully shaped. It was the type of tree usually only encountered on Christmas cards or in lavishly illustrated children's books of the more treacley holiday variety.

Still my mother is my mother. She sniffed and said she would have to think about it and off we went to look at what else was on offer abroad. However, she had the gleam of that tree in her eye. I might be making this part up, but it seems as though she was somehow motivated to seek out an even higher pinnacle of Christmas tree perfection after coming across this holy grail of the Christmas tree world. Through the cold dark evening, we scoured every lot she could find, as she tried with all her might to find a tree that would outdo this vision of perfection. Tree after tree was examined as we worked our way through every tree lot in the lower Champlain Valley. All were found wanting. Nothing could compare with the beatific vision that had been imparted unto my mother in that first full moment in the initial tree lot.

Finally, having exhausted every other option, we returned to the original tree lot, my mother filled with anxiety that “her” tree would have been snapped up by some other lucky family.

But the Xmas tree gods that had first inspired man to gather wood at the darkest time of the year and build bon fires to bring the sun back smiled upon my mother. Her quarry was still there, waiting for her in the cold, clear winter night. It was destiny. There probably should have been flights of angels, a celestial chorus and a ray of light beaming down from the heavens as my mother completed her transaction and we laid claim to this paragon of treeness.

We put down the back seat in the station wagon, and I loaded the tree into the back, while my mother supervised, continuously fretting that something might befall the tree to mar its perfection, finally, with my mother holding the top of the tree, I closed the tailgate and with the rear cargo window open, we drove off into the night headed for home, my mother radiating the same glow of satisfaction that some tribal huntsman must have displayed when bringing home the fresh kill that would sustain his family for a few days more in the harsh northern winter.

The next day my father had his first opportunity to admire Mom's tree.

“Jesus Christ, Mother! Why in the hell did you buy a redwood. We're going to have to cut a couple of feet off it just to get it in the stand. Well, I'm not going to do it till the weekend.”

What happened next was my father's own fault, by that point he'd been married to the woman over 20 years and he should have recognized the look on her face.

Dad went off on some self appointed errand that distinctly had nothing to do with Christmas trees and Mom went in to mix herself a drink. As the day wore on, my mother started making “we really ought to get the tree up” noises. My brothers were both off somewhere and it was just she and myself in the house. A couple of drinks later, my mother announced that we could get that tree up by ourselves and she wasn't going to wait around until dad was in the mood, or it might not be put up until Christmas Eve!

I found myself being instructed to drag the tree into the house. I expressed a few doubts, to which my mother answered, “Well, if we can't get the tree up, then your father will just have to do it, since he won't have any choice once it's in here.”

It was one of those flat statements of my mothers that over the years I had learned to just not argue with.

As I manhandled the tree into the house my mother, well, mother henned her tree with many an admonition to me to “be careful”.

Inside the house, the tree really was looking pretty big. Actually it was looking huge. I think even my mother was beginning to have some doubts about whether her goal could be achieved. However, my mother would not be my mother if she was not equal to giving some hair brained scheme a sincere effort and a will to die if necessary in the attempt.

We had got out the tree stand, the lights and the decorations beforehand and a saw to take off what I thought would be a good sized chunk off the bottom of the tree.

As I prepared to start sawing off a couple of feet from the bottom of the tree, my mother let out a shriek. “What do you think your doing?”, she demanded.

“Well, Dad said….” I began.

“You just saw off a few of the lower branches so we can get the stand on. You're father doesn't know everything, in spite of what he thinks.” I was informed in imperious tones.

I guess I felt as though any trouble I got into in the future with my father would be nothing in comparison to the trouble I would be facing immediately if I didn't do as I was told by the old lady. So I sawed off some lower branches under my mothers careful directions and baleful glare.

As it turned out we did have to saw off about 8 inches from the bottom of the tree to get it even close to fitting into the stand. With more cautious removal of lower branches we proceeded. I held the stand up to the stump of the tree.

“We're going to have to cut off a little more,' I said. 'the stand is still a little to small.”

“You are not cutting anymore off of my tree, young man! You just wait right there and I'll show you what we're going to do.” I was informed.

At this point I didn't dare disagree and besides, I was intrigued as to what she was going to do. She disappeared into the kitchen and I heard her rummaging around in a drawer. A few minutes later she was back with a hammer.

“Now, I'm sure you can just tap the stand onto the tree.” I was informed.

The tree wasn't in fact all that much larger than the opening on the stand and while it took a couple of whacks to get it over the widest part, after that it was more like getting a fat lady into a girdle, it just took a little wiggling.

After the little knurled screws in the stand had been screwed into the base of the tree the moment of truth arrived. We hoisted the tree up and the legs on the stand immediately splayed out flattened to the floor. The tree began to sway.

My mother made a mad grab for the tree and caught it before it could topple over.

“ I guess we're going to have to wait for dad to come home and….” I never got to finish the sentence.

“You just hold this tree up!” I was commanded.

At this point, my mother had the light of battle in her eye. She disappeared into the kitchen once more and once again I could hear the rattle of the utility drawer. In a minute she was back with a hand full of nails. She stood back, looking appraisingly at the tree and began to have me position the tree so that it was upright. Once it had been adjusted to her satisfaction, She told me, “Just nail the tree to the floor, that should take care of the swaying.”

“I don't think Dad is going to be very happy if I start putting nails in the floor.” I offered weakly.

“I'll worry about what your father thinks, you just nail that tree to the floor.”

I was faced with the immediate threat of not nailing the tree to the floor and dealing with the consequences of not doing what my mother told me and the future prospect of my father coming home to find a scotch pine nailed to the living room floor. I looked at my mother and took the hammer and crawled under the tree.

Let us leave our hero for a moment industriously nailing a Christmas tree to the floor of the family living room while I explain a little bit of history about our house that will illuminate what was to happen next.

My parents bought the house they live in, in 1960. When we moved in there was no heating system, no plumbing and the electrical wiring had been installed in the early 20th century. Over the next few years, the old man installed a furnace, baseboard heat, plumbed and rewired the place and dry walled and insulated walls, so that by 1969, two things of historic significance occurred. The Americans landed on the moon and the old man had finished dry walling and painting the first floor of our house.

After I crawled out from under the tree, I got my first good look at it. It was pretty impressive. The top of the tree practically touched the 8 foot ceiling and it stood there in all its holiday glory.

Slightly swaying.

The damned thing was still about as stable as a top that was winding down. My mother however was not about to have victory snatched from her when she was so close to her goal. However, her plan was going to need the full support of her meager troop of one. But drastic times call for drastic measures.

“Why don't I just fix us both a drink while I think about this,”, she said and we walked into the kitchen while I wondered what Mom had in mind and exactly how much more trouble this was going to get me into. That being said, at the age of 14, a cocktail in the hand was worth an asskicking in the future, and with any luck would help to, at least metaphorically, soften the blow.

Mom made us gin and tonics and then began to rummage through drawers again. Eventually, she pulled out the roll of kitchen twine that usually only made an appearance when she was making roast pork or gigot. She sipped her drink thoughtfully as I tried not to gulp mine down. She tapped on the glass for a minute with her fingernail and then told me to go down cellar and to get a couple finishing nails. Not quite sure what she was up to, but having a bad feeling none the less, I at this point was resigned to my fate and dutifully went down into the basement secure in the knowledge that at least when my father killed me for whatever was about to happen, I could meet my maker not entirely sober.

I came back up the stairs with the nails and a sense of foreboding. My mother was waiting there, hammer in hand. She took the nails from me and then walked over to the newly painted and plastered living room wall and carefully tapped the first nail in. She then went to the other side of the tree and repeated the process.

“Dad's really going to…” I began.

“I told you, I will deal with your father, now hand me that twine.”, was the only answer I got.

I have to hand it to her. The guy wire system which she devised, going from one nail around the tree and to the other nail really did the trick! The tree was now standing straight and tall and not weaving drunkenly.

I guess Mom felt that one sober person, or in this case tree was plenty. I think she also felt like she had thrown caution entirely to the wind anyway, so she made us both another drink which is probably why we decided to string the lights without the assistance of my father.

Now, my mother is 5 feet tall, and if I am remembering correctly, at the age of 14 I was still a bit shorter than her. Somehow, with the aid of a step ladder and a lot of direction from Doris, we got the lights strung on the tree in a manner that met with her approval. At this point I was in a happy haze of gin and I guess my mother had the feeling of , in for a pence, in for a pound, because the decorations came out and over the next hour or so we got out all of the garland, ornaments and tinsel and decorated the tree.

Finally, my mother had me do the honors and I plugged in the lights. The tree was beautiful. The angel was bumping its head against the ceiling, but finally, my mother had found a suitable canvas upon which she could demonstrate her vision of what a Christmas tree should look like and it held every ornament that she had collected over the years without looking crowded or having to banish any of the glass balls for another year and another tree.

We stood there, gin in hand admiring our handiwork and the old man came in the house.

He just stood there for a minute, agog.

“How the hell did you get that thing up by yourself? Jesus Christ, Mother! Why didn't you wait for me to trim it down. It's touching the ceiling for Christ's sake!”

“I think it looks beautiful.”, was my mothers reply.

“Yeah,' I announced happily under the influence. 'We had to nail it to the floor.”, with the happy idiocy of a tipsy teenager who knows he’s about to die and is beyond caring.

“What”, the old man bellowed. Walking over to the tree for a closer look he saw the nails in the fresh walls.

“God damn it all!', he yelled. 'Who put nails in my fresh walls?”, he demanded looking directly at me.

“I did.” Mom announced flatly.

Glaring like a thunderhead, the old man stomped into the kitchen to get himself his first beer of the afternoon with my mother directly at his heels. I could hear a lot of muffled “God dammits, Jesus Christing, dammits, a couple of Jesus H. Christs an assortment of shits and knowing Dad, I am sure the words stupid bastard and son-of-a-bitch had a prominent part of his side of the discussion. There was also a fair amount of muffled but stern sounding Mom sounds that tended to indicate that things had better go the way that she had decided that they should go, or she was damned well going to want to know why.

I will never know what Mom said to the old man. Or should I say what instructions he received about what his behavior was to be, but I never heard another word about the nails in the floor.

After a few minutes, the old man stomped out of the kitchen without a glance at me and went into the TV room and threw himself into his recliner to steam in front of the set.

My mother and I returned to our contemplation of the tree, It was in its own way the most perfect thing of its kind we had ever seen and we basked, cocktails in hand, in the warm glow of a job well done.

It was at that moment our 20 pound tomcat, Boots chose to make his annual attack on the Christmas tree.

And with the exception of a couple of ornaments falling to the carpet in front of the tree, I have to say, Mom's cable stay system held up beautifully, even as she shouted the cat out of the tree.

That may well have been one of the happiest Christmases of my childhood.

Bettie Page

I was very saddened to read that Bettie Page passed away.



I remember her from my childhood and rather enjoyed the fact that she developed a second career in the 90's as a cult figure.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's a gray day. It really feels more like late autumn than winter. Gray and wet. Not really cold but the damp makes the cold in the air feel raw. Not on the whole, in my opinion, a great day to be out.

I had planned on walking into the office as usual regardless of the fact that I had already tortured myself on the aerobic machines at the gym however, with one thing and another I was a bit later getting out of the house than I had planned. By the time I had reached Mass. Ave. I decided that if I wanted to get into the office early like I had planned, then I had better take the bus.

For those who do not live in Boston, the number 1 or Dudley bus has a reputation for being one of the worst lines in the city. I've known a few people who have worked for the T as drivers and the impression I have received from them is that the Dudley is a combination rite of passage for junior drivers and form of discipline for senior drivers that have pissed someone off.

I should say right now that after over 30 years of using that particular bus line that over all my experiences have not been that bad. It does tend to be very crowded during high use hours and very slow because of rush hour traffic. More than once I have beat the bus over the river walking. However, this morning I needed the bus.

Just as I got to the corner of Mass. Ave and Boylston. I saw the bus come into the intersection. This tends to be one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations. I had to decide if I was going to try and run, creating a little amusement for the driver so he could close the doors and pull away just as I was getting to the bus, or just walk and have the bus pull away just when I was within 10 feet of it.

As I said, I had got enough exercise, in my opinion, this morning on the stationary bike, so I opted to walk. As fate would have it, traffic was a bit snarled this morning and so by the time I was within 20 feet of the bus, it appeared that if I ran I could still catch it. So I ran and naturally the bus started to pull away.

Then it happened. The clouds parted, heavenly hosts sang, the bus driver looked in his mirror, saw me and.... stopped.

Not only stopped, but missed the opportunity to blow through a yellow light!

The day might be a wash out in all other respects, but I have been convinced that miracles really do occur.

I hope this doesn't keep up. I am not sure I want to find myself believing in god. Even if it's just the mass transit god.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Reindeer games

I really don't have anything else.




You Are Dasher



You're an independent minded reindeer who never plays by the rules.



Why You're Naughty: That little coup you tried to stage against Santa last year



Why You're Nice: You secretly give naughty children presents.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving recap

I went to the nieces for Thanksgiving dinner Saturday. My older brother (her father) my sister-in-law and her younger sister were in attendance.

It was a really nice day. I arrived in Salem at 10:00 and the niece, anxious to get a break from the family was actually waiting at the station when I got off the train. This was something of a notable occurrence, since arriving on time is usually something that happens to other people.

When we got to her house, the sister-in-law had achieved the perpendicular and was working on regaining consciousness. As she went to take a shower, by older brother and the other niece arrived back from a shopping expedition.

After that it was socializing, getting the dinner table ready, cooking and more socializing along with a fair amount of teasing. Older Bro and I kept the troops entertained with stories about all the things we got up to as kids, including sending my mother over the edge with the hanging teddy bear trick, which I am sure I will describe someday.

The turkey, in the way of Thanksgiving turkeys everywhere, took longer than it was suppose to, but was well worth the wait. The Niece outdid herself. I had provided a pecan pie that my sister-in-law requested, she had made mince pie.

All told it was a very enjoyable day, which is something. For years I have avoided family holidays, simply because they are usually just an excuse to get together and argue, but I am guessing with the blessings of age and the absence of my mother we were able to relax and just enjoy each others company.

So, a big thank you to the niece for a wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's the day before Thanksgiving. Things at the office were quiet with only the occasional flurry of mad panic as everyone who actually showed up today prepares to head out for self induced food comas.

My own plans for tomorrow are pretty tame, since I will be doing the triptaphan orgy on Saturday at the nieces. This will involve my brother, his wife and my other niece. I am praying against all expectation that things will go smoothly and quietly. You know things are serious when an atheist starts praying.

My plans for Thursday include, rising at my usual ungodly hour, throwing a couple of loads in the machine, getting a start on some seriously needed housework. Breakfast. Hopping on the train to go to my gym's sister facility in Southie, since our branch will be closed. Home. More housework and baking a punkin' pie.

Since I am not that big of a fan of turkey, I will be having a nice fat pork chop I picked up at TJ's, mashed 'taters and green beans and cranberry sauce (it is Thanksgiving). I will then eat some of the pie for dessert. What I am going to mostly do (aside from housecleaning) is going to be enjoying some peace and quiet.

RG has said he may come over to torment me at some point, which will be fun. We may even go out for a drink. Though what I mean by drink is that RG will get to have a drink and as usual, I will probably pass. But you never know, it's a holiday and I may feel festive.

Mostly, what I am looking forward to is 4 days off from work. I hope whatever you have planned you have a great time.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Xmas present to myself



Joe
has a guest post up right now. Carl Siciliano the founder and director of the Ali Forney Center has posted a letter asking for donations.

The Ali Forney Center has experienced some serious funding cutbacks and needs help.

I became aware of the Ali Forney Center a couple of years ago, when Joe posted about it before. Since then, whenever I have had a few dollars to spare I have sent what I can. My childhood may not have been ideal, but at least I wasn't thrown out of the house. God knows I was such a little queen that my parents must have known I was gay. After I came out at the age of 20, well after I had made my own escape from the parental clutches, there followed many years of being kept at arms length, but I was never completely cut off from my family.

The Ali Forney Center is for young LGBT kids who don't even have the lukewarm support that I got from my family.

I had earmarked some money to get myself a Xmas present that I really wanted. Instead I am donating that money to the Ali Forney Center.

I don't expect anyone else to do the same, but I do ask that if you read this blog that you donate what you can. I know times are tough and like a lot of people right now I am worried about the security of my job. But I'm a grown up and I have the ability and the experience to see myself through hard times, even if it means I wind up mopping floors. These young people don't have those resources or that experience.

Please donate and post a link to the online donation page on your blog. The more money that goes to the center, the better the chances are that the Forney Center will be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of kids that have been thrown away by their families.

If you need added motivation, If you don't donate, I will give your phone number to Doris. You do NOT understand the meaning of the word suffering until you've had that crazy old woman chewing your ear off, so don't make me do it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Video chat

Like I don't have enough ways to wastes my time, I have discovered Gmail's video chat. So, I tipped CB to it and we got to video chat this morning. It's pretty cool and it actually works. So far anyway.

I got to tell CB that I had already been to the gym and CB got to give me the finger. So much more effective than emoticons! I could get used to this, though I can also see the downside.

I mean, it's not like I have to worry about bed head. What little hair I have left I keep buzzed, but there is the whole issue of first thing in the morning, zombie eyes for starters, though the camera on my laptop is pretty low-res and I'm not going to be buying a better camera for just chat. So that may not be so much of a real worry.

On the upside, it will be one less thing to aggravate my RSI.

At any rate, I have a new toy to play with! Won't this be fun?

I can't wait to see who else downloads this so that we can come that much closer to tormenting each other in person.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We All Want The Same Thing





RG and I met up a little after 12 to head over to Boston City Hall Plaza for the Impact rally against Prop. 8. It was a gray day here, though at least it was in the 60's, so not too bad. When we got off the train at Government Center about 1:00 there was a fine rain, but for a switch the weather cooperated and it stopped pretty quickly. Our big question was "are the queens going to come out in the rain". And when we arrived things were looking pretty sparse.



However, suddenly we heard a lot of noise and the young rowdy people started marching in.



Though it is not really a REAL gay protest rally until the crazy Jesus people show up.



And more people showed up.



and more



RG was willing to venture thatat least 75% of the folks there were 25 or under. It made it pretty exciting and for added thrills aside from scoping the hotties, was that a lot of straight people were pissed off enough at injustice that they showed up too.



Here's State Rep. Byron Rushing addressing the crowd.

It made me feel pretty proud that Congressman Ed Markey, Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas, Congressman Richard Neil and MY Congressman, Mike Caupano and State Representative Byron Rushing all spoke. They all spoke and spoke well, though I have to give props to Ed Markey for firing up the crowd.

What was really amazing though, was that Impact MA was put together in 6 days by a group of college students and teachers. 6 DAYS! Even more amazing is that Impact which I can only characterize as an internet phenomena mobilized people in all 50 states to get out and make themselves heard. This movement also inspired our neighbors to the north to get out and speak up in support of equal rights in the U.S. Check our Canadian neighbors out on This.That.No Other. Go over and visit Tater to see some of the action in Chicago.













This being Boston, it's never too soon to get involved politically.



Where do we go next? The organizers here in Boston announced that there will be another rally in January (get out the long johns) I'm not sure where we are going to go next with this, but I plan on being there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Film at 11

It's been a busy day. I went to the Impact rally at Boston's City Hall. At least 5,000 people straight and gay showed up. Man are they young! My Congressman showed up. RG brought his video camera. All in all a very encouraging sign.

Ironically, this evening I went to some straight friends engagement party.

I will be posting pictures from the rally in the morning. This old man needs to get some sleep.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba



I was very sad to hear this morning on BBC radio that Miriam Makeba died suddenly in Italy. According the news reports that I have seen, she collapsed onstage during a performance.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Doris weighs in on the election

GoddamnitallJesusChristson-of-a-bitchingbastard!

This is a famous Doris quote. I heard it most of my childhood. Consequently, a lot of bad language got used around our house. Doris wasn't crazy about it when she heard these pearls coming out of our mouths, but there weren't any real consequences except in 2 instances which the old dear found absolutely unacceptable. One was the F-bomb. The other one was the N word. The only person in the house who didn't earn a slap in the mouth for using the N-word was the old man. Though he still heard about it, usually accompanied by a string of invective which explained in graphic detail exactly why my mother didn't want to hear this word coming out of anyone's mouth in her house.

So, I called Doris up tonight to see what she thought of the election results.

"Thank God! I wouldn't have been able to put up with it if that sick old man and that idiot of a moron woman had been put in the White House. He's old and sick and wouldn't have lived 4 years and the thought of that stupid woman as president just made me sick. We've already had to put up with too much from that stupid idiot that's in the White House now. I can't tell you how proud I am that Vermont voted for Obama. I remember when Franklin Roosevelt was elected so I've seen a lot of presidents. George Bush will go down in history as the worst president we've ever had. I am so relieved that we finally elected someone with a brain in their head. After the last 8 years, I don't think the country could have survived any more. This is worse than the Great Depression. It was different back then, people didn't have much in the first place."

Doris went on like this for a half an hour. This is an 82 year old woman who never went past high school. She spent her childhood in the depression in a single parent home. She has lived her entire life in what I believe is still the whitest state in the country. She watched both of her brothers go off and fight in WWII. She has never lived far from the town she grew up in. There is no reason that she should have been anything other than a small minded, small town, bigot.

Instead she does her best to be as accepting as she can be. She says things sometimes that make me want to crawl under a rock, but by her lights she does her best. When my younger sister was dating a black man and my father started acting up, she made him go to their parish priest for a little talk and he was basically told not to come home till he'd got himself straightened out. She also put a couple of words in the priest's ear about what she expected for results.

Now this woman has a black man for a president and couldn't be happier and prouder. If there is any better example of what "real Americans" are, I don't know what it would be. So, it would seem that small town, small state people, people that are having a hard time getting by these days also believe in change. Against what we have been told, little old ladies who have met very few people of color, who don't live in great intellectual centers still have the common sense to vote for someone because than can see what they are capable of and aren't too concerned about what color they are.

And if Barrack needs a hand, he can give Doris a call. She'll slap any trouble makers into shape. You can trust me on that one.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Civic duty

I showed up at the polls about 15 minutes before they were to open, feeling pretty confident that I would beat the rush and be in and out in good time.

In fact by the time I got there the line was about a block long. It took an hour.

The good news is, that people seemed to be taking it in stride and seemed to be in a good mood. I can't remember the last time I was in a long line and I DID'T have to listen to non stop bitching. This time around, no one seemed to mind too much.

So. I'm done till the next local or state election. All we can do now is wait and see whether this country is going to begin to deal with the mess that has been made.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chasing Rainbows




As I turned the corner to walk across the Mass. Ave. bridge, there it was. I wish the pictures were better. This was the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen in my life. The colors were so vivid and brilliant, the arc spanning the river Boston on one side, Cambridge on the other.

It was one of those things that made me want to attribute some significance to it. Some deeper meaning, some symbol. Which made me stop and wonder why I would want that? It was light refracting through moisture suspended in the air. Really, what could be a better miracle than that.

Little Duffy Cloud*



I went to see Duffy on Saturday with the Niece. I have been struggling ever since to write a post about it. I have finally figured out that it is 2 posts. One about the concert, the other will be about the venue experience.

The concert was at Foxwoods, which is a resort casino in Connecticut. Like I said, this is a whole other post.

The concert itself was very good and Duffy is a trooper.

The show started at 9:00 on the dot which was something of a shock. I don't think I have ever been to a concert in my life that has started anywhere near the time stamped on the ticket.

Duffy started the show with just herself and the lead guitarist doing "Syrup and Honey". It would have been a little more effective, except the lighting engineer was asleep at the switch and there was no spotlight on Duffy, so she pretty much sang the song in the dark. I give her credit, because she did a beautiful job on the song in spite of this. I would have given up half way through and started screaming where the fuck is the goddamn spotlight?

After a very warm reception from a very middle aged audience, the rest of the band came out. This is where her troubles continued. The sound guy must have been napping with the lighting engineer, because for the first 2 songs, Duffy was definitely competing with her band to be heard. All told, she did a great job in the face of this.

After that, the sound balance was adjusted and we were off to the races.

One of the gambles you take when you go and see someone in concert is finding out whether the artist sounds as good live as they do in the studio. Sometimes you don't even find that out. I am thinking of a Grace Jones concert I went to in 1980, where a very high Grace Jones attempted to lip sync her way, unsuccessfully, through her show. If it wasn't a high point in my concert going career, it does have that clusterfuck value in that it was a memorabley bad show, that was fun at the time because my friends an I were going to press this one in our little book of memories to be taken out and examined whenever we needed a funny story.

Duffy I can say, sounds as good in person if not better than on her album. It was fun to hear her interpret the music for a live crowd. The live crowd was the other obstacle that the poor woman had to deal with. Not that they weren't enthusiastic. They were in a quiet, middle aged, suburban kind of way. I don't know if I had ever realized until Saturday, how much and audience can affect the atmosphere of a concert.

Duffy tried to get a little energy going and as the show progressed, she did to a large extent succeed. By the time she sang Mercy, she actually managed to get some of the audience up on stage with her dancing.

All in all, it was a good show. I think because I got to see her in less than optimal circumstances and she managed to pull it off. If her stage presence lacked the polish of some of the big headliners that are around now, what she did have in abundance was the enthusiasm of someone who at 24 is doing something they love and who is giving off a vibe of "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this".

I'd love to see her again, next time in a venue where she is getting a little more from her audience, and I am hoping that one of the new songs she did gets released as a single, since I could use some new music to dance to in my head.

Oh, before I forget, Duffy is absolutely adorable, and I am assured by Joe who first alerted me to Duffy that she is a real charmer in person. He got to meet her and she bummed a cigarette off of him. The lucky dog.

Thanks to CB for the post title

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

East Coast Elitist behavior

I went out last night and behaved like an east coast, liberal elitist again. Yup. I went to the opera.

"Der Freischutz" or in English, "The Marksman" was last nights offering from Opera Boston. I was put in mind of Anna Russell. The story doesn't have to make sense as long as you sing it.

In this case the plot had holes you could drive a truck through, but honestly, if you attend the opera that is usually one of your least concerns.

Sarah Palin might have actually felt comfortable with this particular production, not because of all the basques, dirndls, alpenstocks, or lederhosen on the stage, but because of all the guns. Plus at one point an eagle was shot. I'm not even going to get started over that prop. But what could be better than killing an endangered species if you are a moose hunting, red blooded American like Sarah?

But back to the opera. I will keep this short and sweet. Opera Boston produced another fine show. As always the orchestra was magnificent. Also no surprise, the talent were all very good. Excellent indeed. In the first act, Kaspar was a little wobbly in the upper range, but once he had warmed up it was all smooth sailing. The rest of the cast were superb throughout. It also has to be noted that the baritone singing both Samiel and The Hermit was a real hottie as well as a very talented singer.

Musically, von Weber is well worth listening to. As an opera, there is a reason sometimes that certain operas are rarely produced. I would happily listen to this opera again. On CD. At home. Enjoying it simply for it's value as beautiful music, but I don't think I will ever need to sit through a production again.

Having got that bit of snippiness out of my system, I also have to say that I was once again impressed with Opera Boston's dedication to staging works that are not in the top 20.

You will all be relieved to know that their next production is not being staged until March and I doubt I'll be able to come up with the cash for any of Lyric's productions this year, so you will be able to enjoy the long lull until they put on Shostakovic's "The Nose".

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Levi Stubbs

Levi Stubbs passed away. With him went another part of my childhood. Hearing the Four Tops will always bring back memories of days at the lake and music from the AM station out of Rutland. Unscanctioned nights of staying up past bed time, listening to the tinny sound of transistor radios in the dark with the volume down.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend plans

Another Friday and not a moment too soon! The problem with short holiday weeks is that you tend to have to try and cram 5 days of work into 4 days. What with one thing and another it has been a rather full week and I am looking forward to some R&R.

I may or may not do some fall clean up in my garden, god only knows it is in desperate need. I may also see about taking a field trip to a fabric store, since I need to get some thread to alter a few pairs of pants and Woolworth's doesn't exist any more. And yes, I shorten my own pants. When you have a 27 inch inseam it's either shorten the pants yourself or pay someone else to do it. And I'm French, which is the same as saying "cheap bastard".

I would like to see RG this weekend as opposed to being stood up by RG again this weekend, (hint, hint) so we can hang out, gossip and ogle boys.

All in all, I would like to have a quiet and pleasant weekend, which is why I will try avoiding any discussions about the election, which currently has me using language that would make a pirate with tourette's syndrome blush. The state of the economy, because if I want to depress myself all I have to do is look at the extra poundage around the waist that seems to be immune to both exercise and diet. I don't want to think about all the unpleasant crap that has been dropped into the lives of friends or the nice big stinkin', steamin' heap o' that has landed in my own little life.

So, big plans for the weekend. Laundry, gym, groceries are on the must list. On the possible list of activities are shopping, kaffee klatch, gardening, reading and if the mood moves me, napping.

Come Monday it will be back to bitching an whining. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

AARP Porn

I was informed the other day by some cute young twink that I look like a porn star. This opinion was unsolicited and really rather unexpected. I am choosing to believe that he meant that I look like a porn star in a hot way and not in some burned out druggy way.

It has made me think though. It could be a whole new career for me, porn starring the over 50 set. AARP porn. Think about it. I'm sure there must be a niche market and with the economy going the way it is, I really need to be looking at every option for employment if my job goes south.

Let's just hope that no one decides to film in hi-def.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nonna update

I went over to the hospital today to see Nonna. She seems to be doing well, though she's on drugs, so she wasn't her usual ornery self. Still, she seemed glad to see me.

I had to go through a list of people who sent their good wishes, which included the entire staff, all of the faculty, the grad students and a couple of former grad students who are now full fledged doctors and are poisoning the minds of susceptible youth. Especially, my friend Dr. H. but that's a different story.

The thing about Nonna is that she is pig headed, ornery, bossy, opinionated, and can be down right cantankerous. And that's why people love her. She always seems to know when someone needs a gentle hand and when they need a clip in the ear to get them moving. What she didn't seem to know is how many people have come to care about her.

After I got done listing off all the people she knew, I mentioned that people who read my blog were also sending out good wishes for her and she was pretty impressed, by the way Willym, that someone lit a candle for her in Rome!

We are still waiting for the results from pathology, but I think just knowing how many people are pulling for her has done her a lot of good.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Personal space

Thanks, Mr. iPhone Guy on the bus. I just wanted to let you know I am really impressed. The way you sat down next to me and established that your required personal space was one and a half seats, right off the bat. It was masterful. And your balls! They must be ginormous, since you were sitting like you had a basketball between your legs. Wow! No really, it was amazing. Especially, since it's not like you were grossly overweight.

Then when you whipped out your iPhone! I mean golly, talk about letting people know what an individual you are by making sure that everyone within eyeshot saw that you too have what is probably the most ubiquitous consumer item on the market. It just made me sit up and take notice. I said to myself, "Now here is a true individual, a risk taker, not some shallow cretin who has pissed away several hundred bucks on a cell phone and now has to make sure everyone knows that he has the cell phone status symbol of status symbols." No sirree, Bob. I could tell by the masterful way you were fiddling with it propped up on the back of the seat. The proud way you were able to establish for anyone that looked in your direction that you had an IPHONE!

Also there was the masterful way you selected your musical choice. At least 3 times. The things you learn watching other people. I would never have imagined that it took that much elbow action to operate a touch screen. It left me breathless and not just because you kept ramming me with your elbow while you were trying to go through the not particularly complicated menus.

All in all it was an amazing performance you friggin' asshat. What do you do for an encore? Step on old peoples feet and push pregnant women out of your way?

A city bus is PUBLIC transportation, jackass! Not your fucking personal limo. Learn how to confine your stupid ass to your own seat. Keep your goddamned elbows in when you are playing with your dumbass toys and try acting like a considerate adult and not some spoiled 14 year old. Especially since you, like me, will never see 50 again either that or you look like hell for your age. Whatever the case, you're not cute and even if you were, I still shouldn't have to put up with this stupid shit when I am on my way into work in the morning.

Thanks again iPhone guy. I hope someone improves your day as much as you improved mine!

Think good thoughts

If you've read Willym's blog, you have heard about Nonna's. Italian women who will give you advise, mother you whether you want it or not and if they like you, feed you.

At work we have our own Nonna. You have heard me mention her, usually in connection with her making incredibly fattening and delicious treats which she then brings in and feeds me. If you know anything about older Italian women, you also know that you never turn any of these offerings down if you know what is good for you. If my waistline has been in danger, my tastebuds have been very happy.

Nonna has bullied, laughed at and babied me since I have started this job. She is also, my pal, La Simpatica's mom.

Today she is going into the hospital for surgery.

The situation is rather serious, but the outlook is optimistic. None the less everyone at work is very concerned. So, If you find you have a spare minute today, think good thoughts about Nonna. I know La Simpatica will appreciate it and we need Nonna back at work to keep us all whipped into shape.

Nonna update I heard from La Simpatica and it sounds like good news for Nonna. The doctors said there were no surprises and the surgery was going to take less time than they thought. All in all it is sounding pretty good, so with any luck Nonna will be back to keeping us all toeing the line in a few weeks. Thanks to everyone for their good thoughts and wishes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Todays Rant

I for one am getting a little tired of hearing the Republicans complaining about "East Coast Liberal Elitists".

I grew up in rural Vermont, so all I can really say about that is, fuck you, you fucking, fucktards!

To hear this snotty, self serving, horse shit coming out of the mouths of people like Sarah Palin and her merry troupe of ignoramuses causes my blood to boil.

It isn't even so much the wrong headed assumption that anyone who is within spitting distance of the Atlantic Ocean spends all their time reading Kirkegaard and listening to Philip Glass atonal music. (which by the way makes me want to ram sharpened pencils in my ears just to make it stop) What sends me up the wall is that the implication that anyone who uses their brain for anything more than some extra padding to keep the top of their skull from caving in is somehow the incarnation of evil and is unpatriotic to boot.

I would like to remind all of these good, solid citizens who seem to show all the intellectual curiosity of a curb stone that the country was founded by a group of east coast intellectual elitist. Not by a bunch of the guys who'd decided that a revolution would be a good idea, after a few brews while watching the game on TV.

I also find it more than annoying the assertion that living on the east coast means that you are incapable of as much dumbass as people in the flyover states. I really must beg to differ. I personally have witnessed as much unthinking ignorance, fear of the unknown and aversion to introspection here in the east as I have ever heard about coming out of the midwest. I feel compelled after over a half a century of living on the east coast to defend our local morons. You need only spend a day here in Boston, paying attention to what comes out of peoples mouths to hear as much ignorant bigotry, homegrown piety or just out and out stupid as you would be able to hear in Nebraska, or Wasilla, Alaska.

Therefore, I would like to thank the republican poster child for stupidity, Sarah "the Rapture" Palin to shut her fucking cakehole about East Coast Liberal Elitists. Why should we listen to her? Because she's as dumb as box of rocks? Or is it the idea "You can trust me, I'm an ill informed, ignorant jackass"? Personally, I don't trust someone who is so fucking stupid that they can't even recognize other people who are just as moronic as she is.

Therefore, I would like to urge all of the idiots here on the east coast to vote against McCain/Palin. They are trying to deny you your god given right to be just as fucking stupid as anyone else in this great country of ours.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Under cover

I have been keeping up on the workout in spite of life conspiring to trip me up. Getting on the scales I discovered that I am once again redistributing my weight. While it turns out I have not lost any weight I have noticed my pants fit a bit better, though some shirts are destined for the thrift shop, since they are getting a bit too snug through the chest.

All in all, the change in gyms has worked out pretty well, even though I went from working out in one of the straightest gyms in the city, to what may well be THE straightest gym in the city.

This has been fine. I have not run into any homophobia and to be honest, the guys at this gym have more to worry about from me than the old gym ever did. While there is a good age cross section and probably half the guys that go there are in my age bracket, by and large the tend to go from "in good shape" to "smokin'!".

Which is why the locker room at the new gym sort of puzzles me. I am encountering a lot of modesty. I mean a lot. Like neurotic.

When people head for the showers, I have seen them cover up with towels to take off their drawers. There is a certain amount of furtive scuttling to the shower stalls and people seem to get into their clothes in record time. It all just struck me as a little odd.I have not seen so much concern among guys for making sure that their junk was covered since freshman gym class.

At my old gym people didn't seem to have too much trouble with wandering around naked. As a matter of fact the rule of thumb about the less you wanted to see, the more likely you were to have to look held true. There was of course the exception of my old locker neighbor Kevin, a tall, handsome and incredibly well set up fellow of about my age, who on more than one occasion would get into a conversation with me as I was sitting down to take my shoes off all the while with his rather impressive wedding tackle at eye level with me.

Nothing like that has happened to me at the new gym and people seem to keep themselves as covered as possible. Though the oddest example of extreme modesty was today. There is one fellow who I have seen on the gym floor and to be honest, he doesn't do much for me. As I was exiting the shower, he was coming out of the sauna. He was wearing his gym shorts, but that isn't all that odd. What was a little strange was he got in the shower with his shorts still on. And on they stayed. I was just finishing up brushing my pearly whites when he came out of the shower.

I can safely say now that a pair of sopping wet nylon gym shorts leave nothing to the imagination. I can also say that while this lad may not win any beauty prizes, he has nothing to be ashamed of.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What do they call that....

All was not gloom and doom while I was talking with Doris last night. She had me on the phone for a solid hour and I swear the woman never stopped to draw a breath the entire time.

I suppose she is grateful for the audience since my dad in her words "is deaf as an adder".

It would seem that one of Doris functions at the age of 82 is to serve as a combination clearing house and sounding board for my numerous cousins. I have to tell you, Doris gets into some interesting conversations with the distaff side of the family.

Doris: "You know your cousin (name redacted) got remarried. No? Well, she did. They've moved to ---. Well, I guess she's happy and he seems like a nice guy but you know what your cousin is like. She's happy enough, but she keeps complaining she isn't getting it enough. And then there's this whole business with, oh what do you call it. You know what I'm talking about it's that business where you get tied up..."

Me: "S&M, Mom?"

Doris: "Yes! That's it, well I guess that her new husband just isn't into all of that and..."

Somehow, it is a great comfort to me to know that my 82 year old mother is having racy conversations with her nieces about them getting their kink on. It gives me hope for my own impending old age.

You do what you can

I am thinking about Jane Austen. Aside from the fact that she is one of my favorite authors, I was thinking about a piece of criticism that Eudora Welty wrote where she mentioned that one of the complaints about Austen that some critics level is that while Austen was living in the tumultuous times of the Napoleonic Wars, she barely alluded to them. Instead she concentrated on everyday life in English villages and towns and the lives of the middle classes.

Welty's point was that we always live in unsettled times and few of us play a role in the great schemes of the world and so our concerns are about such mundane things as paying the bills, our relations with our neighbors and occasionally falling in love.

Currently, the economy seems to be falling apart, we are in the midst of a nasty presidential campaign here in the U.S. and we have been involved in a poorly thought out, ill advised and illegal war. I can't do anything about these problems other than fret.

On the personal front, I found out that 2 different friends of mine have cancer, one has had surgery and is recovering before she starts chemo and the other is going in for surgery next week. I can't do anything about this either, other than fret.

Last night I called up Doris only to find out that they have been plagued with trouble as well. First their TV died, then their computer died, the new pellet stove they had ordered to replace their wood stove is sitting on a loading dock because the truckers that were contracted by the stove company quit and then one of my sister's hen houses burned down.

They got a new TV, my cousin is fixing the computer and from what I can gather they have made arrangements about the stove. Once again I can't do anything about that either.

Out of all this mess, there is only one thing I can address. I can buy my sister some new poultry. So, with the aid of the internet and a phone call to Doris to find out if the Bantam chicks can go in with the broody hens (they can't, not enough room) I am going to be buying chickens as soon a the new coop has been built. 25 of them.

Considering the state of the world, it is an insignificant thing. It is not ending war, fixing the economy, curing cancer or bringing the country together. All I am doing is helping out a middle aged woman who I find myself often annoyed with and who I am frequently impatient with, but who has taken on the rather onerous task of caring for my very difficult parents in their old age. Goodness knows that in her world which is even more circumscribed than mine, her Bantams loomed large and their loss was a real blow.

It ain't much, but it is one thing I can do and it's making me feel a little less helpless.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thank you Neti pot!

I bought a Neti pot today. I had thought I was going to have to scour health food stores and then swallow my pride and give Whole Foods some of my hard earned money. No fear. I was in the CVS (local big drugstore chain in the northeast) and lo and behold they are now carrying them. They even had a store brand one for cheap, so 3 guesses which one I bought.

Now I know you are all just dying to hear me tell you all about flushing out the old snot locker.

Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. I think I was expecting that it was going to burn and screaming would at some point be involved, not to mention crying like a little girl. Honest, if you follow the instructions, not bad. I don't think it's something I want to spend all of my spare time doing, but I also have to say it has done a better job of clearing out the congestion problem than all the benedryl I've been popping.

I also have to admit, it's kind of gross. Essentially, you fill this little pot that looks like a cut rate version of Aladdin's lamp with salt water, stick it in one nostril and pout water up your nose. Water comes out your other nostril. And my use of the word water is just to spare you a bit. I'm sure you get the idea. Then you get to do the other nostril. Then you blow your nose. Once again, I'll spare you. Let's just say, it's not pretty.

Actually, I have less of a head ache than I have had in days. And I am breathing through both nostrils! Now if we would just get a hard frost to kill off all the friggin' ragweed, I will be able to spare myself this new indignity until next spring when the trees start going at it again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Age discrimination

I had stepped out to indulge in a quick smoke and had wandered over to a more secluded area than usual, just to get some peace and quiet because working with Excel spreadsheets all day is making my brain hurt.

A minute or 2 later I saw my office mates come trooping out the door. They plunked down and after a few exchanges of shading our eyes and peering dramatically at each other, it was clear that if I wanted company I was going to have to get up and traipse over to them. Which I did.

When I got over to them, they announced that they were lazy. I suggested that they should be ashamed of themselves, because I am pretty much twice their age.

Co-worker 1: Yeah, but you are in better shape than all 3 of us put together.

They all looked at each other and nodded.

Co-worker 2: Shit! You have more muscle mass than all 3 of us put together.

Once again, they looked at each other, this time nodding vigorously.

I suppose I should feel complimented, but I still say they are just plain lazy.

Snot funny

I would like to know what earthly purpose ragweed serves, other than making my life a misery.

I would also like to know where all these allergies came from.

When I was a kid, nothing bothered me. I could roll in poison ivy and I wouldn't break out, for Christ's sake. Now, every spring when the trees are feeling frisky my sinuses shut down and in the autumn, when the ragweed gets going I feel like I need a respirator. Or at least a drain.

Yesterday, a friend told me about a thing called a Neti Pot. I gather that the function of this little item is to pour salt water up into your sinuses and flush them out. I think it will be a good indication of how desperate I am that I am actually going to go out and buy one of these things. And don't make that face! You're not the one that is going to have to use the thing.

For me the worst part is that feeling like someone came in the night and poured concrete into my sinuses makes the act of concentrating next to impossible. Unfortunately, I have a job that requires me to pay attention. What with one thing and another, I have the attention span of a goldfish right at the moment.

I should be looking at the bright side of all this. Considering the state of the world right now, it is probably just as well that I cannot hold anything in my mind much longer than about 5 seconds.

Then there is the fact that this has been screwing with my workout. I am hesitant to go into the gym when I have to worry about dropping a heavy weight on my head.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that this too shall pass. We are bound to get a hard frost soon, which should take care of things for another year. Until then, if my posts seem incomprehensible at least you know I'm not on drugs. Other than decongestants.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ann and Nancy hand out an asskicking

I generally don't write about politics. Other people do it much better, with more insight and intelligence. Every now and then though, you come across something and you just want as many people as possible to know about it.

I stole this off of Voenix Rising. (Thanks Alex) Even if I didn't have fond memories of Ann and Nancy Wilson from my long lost youth, I would fall in love with them just on the strength of this letter!



Go out and buy a copy of "Barracuda" if for no other reason than to piss John McCain and Sarah Palin off!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm back

I apologize for not posting recently. It has been crazy at work and I have also been trying to deal with a few problems at home as well, not the least of which has been sleep deprivation.

The sleep problem has reached the point where Dr. Fred sent me off to have a sleep study done. I will be getting the results in a couple of weeks. In the mean time, Tylenot PM is my new BFF. The one thing that has been ruled out is sleep apnea, since they didn't have to come in and hook me up to a CPAP mask. Otherwise it is all still a mystery.

Autumn has also snuck up on me. I have noticed the days getting cooler and this morning when I woke up it was to discover that you could store furs in the ganome lair. Time to get out those warm layers again! I noticed is that it is once again dark in the morning as I crawl off to the gym. The other morning I noticed the first traitor leaves starting to turn color in preparation to dropping off the trees.

Wasn't it just the other day that the leaves were finally coming out?

Where the hell did summer go?

To cheer myself up, I am going to meet up with RG later and get some coffee and leer at cute young men. It's always fun to spend time with RG mostly because you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. With the economy tanking and the election coming up, I am sure RG will have plenty to say.

Be that as it may, I'm back! Now if I can just get some sleep I may once again be able to string together the occasional coherent sentence.