Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From Our House (and Ralphie's) to Your House

In hunting for a great Christmas greeting picture, I came across this photo of the actual "A Christmas Story" house. I thought -- Other than Santa or the Nativity, is there another icon that better typifies the holiday with all its magic and wonder all amid the backdrop of everyday life? From tempermental furnaces, neighborhood thugs and dogs to leg lamps and "themes", Christmas and its wonder breaks through and somehow makes everything wonderful. I can't think of a better way to express my wishes for you and yours to have a magical Christmas with your own special Red Ryder BB gun or whatever other dream is foremost in your heart this season. May God bless each of you this Christmas and in the coming new year. I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyous Kwanza, Happy Solstice, or whatever labels you place on the season. Peace, love, blessings, and hugs.

Was This Intentional or Just Providential?

As you know from my previous post, while I am not a great fan of Rick Warren, I am not going to beat up on him or on Mr Obama for Warren's inclusion in the Inauguration. However, I ran across this ad for a new site dedicated to getting rid of Warren. Look carefully at the web address -- www.dumprickwarren.com, and look at the possibilities. Is it simply his name or is there another meaning? Perhaps DumPrickwarren.com? Whichever way it was meant, either way fits. I just about howled with laughter over this thing. Guess it doesn't take much to give me a chuckle.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday Night Soundoff

As you can tell from the time of this post, it is actually now Monday morning, but I'm still going from Sunday, so this is my Sunday sound off before my Sunday snooze off and my lazy Monday morning (I hope). First of all, the weather has been poopy (I would have said Sh**ty, but decorum dictates delicacy). We got the big snow storm of Friday and I had to go to work Friday afternoon. The roads were kind of bad, but the worst thing was being stuck in my own parking lot. It took Ben and me about 20 minutes to rock, dig, push, pray, and finally maneuver the car out of the foot of snow in which it sat. I fought like that and drove on bad roads expecting the store to be a ghost town -- boy, was I wrong! The place was a fornicating ZOO! You would think it was the end of the world the way folks were buying up the place (and of course returning stuff almost as fast as they bought it -- see next paragraph). Saturday's store business was a repeat and more of the madhouse Friday.

OK -- the story about sales and returns. What is it that makes people buy a zillion items and then -- before Christmas even comes around -- bring the stuff back with lame excuses like, "I changed my mind" (People don't plan their gift giving?) or, "My mother and I bought the same thing for my daughter (Don't grandparents and parents coordinate gift giving anymore?) or "He didn't like it (How did "he" get to see his Christmas present on the 20th of December?).? I am quickly coming to the conclusion that we live in a very self centered selfish commercially oriented world and I don't much like it. Christmas for me surely involves giving gifts to those I love as it should, but I hope for the most part that I exercise reason, thought, and some effort in what I purchase to give. After a huge of dose of "service desk-itis", I am beginning to think that people don't give any thought to their gift giving until they walk into the store and see something on the shelf -- then they buy it, take it home and think about it, and often return it. How stupid is that? On top of that, based on the past couple of days, I think one of the most popular (and crass) Christmas gifts is a bunch of lottery tickets. A few as stocking stuffers is fine, but these folks are buying as much as $100 worth of tickets -- that would stuff a lot of sox, eh? Maybe they should just give their gift-ees a note that says, "A donation to the state education fund has been made in your name." I like to think that when I give a gift, the recipient will be able to enjoy it for longer than the moment it takes to scratch those losing tickets. Maybe I'm old fashioned.

Well, enough ranting about that. Now on to today. Church went well, although getting there was a bit dicey. The road were again attacked by the snow monster and his friend the big wind. I watched a car literally blow off the freeway into the median. Then there were the two tow trucks pulling people out, and my own slip sliding. Had a lot to be thankful for when I got to church. Before leaving for church, the phone rang and it was work wanting to know how soon I could come in (I was due in at 5PM). I told them I'd be there at 3 and I was. The woman who came in to work from 6 -10 griped all evening about how bad she felt (as per usual), and whined until the management let her go home early. The other person who was supposed to work the desk with me for most of the evening was put outside to push carts (Sure glad they didn't try to get me out there -- too cold and too old). The net result was that I busted my butt, put in 8 hours (God forbid we should have OT), and ended up leaving a couple of carts of merchandise unsorted -- too bad. I am off tomorrow (HOORAY), but it's back to the grind on Tuesday before being off on Christmas Eve and Day.

Then came tonight's drive home. The roads were fair to poor condition again. However, I was on a main road where the limit is 50. I was happily moving along about 40-45, being sure to leave adequate room around me for slips or stops. Then I encountered them -- the folks who think they need to be in the left lane going 25 to 30. If they wanted to go 25-30, the right lane was just about as good a choice as the left, but no -- they felt they have the right to set the slow pace for everyone, because after all, it's all about them. I finally got home, took out the trash, and am now settled in with a root beer and chips and unwinding before hitting the sack. Thanks for letting me vent -- hug someone and wish them well today. God bless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too Much Ado for Me

The spoiled brats are at it again! I am talking about the ongoing vitriolic blogging and more regarding President Elect Obama's selection of Rev. Rick Warren to give the Inaugural Invocation. Now, don't get me wrong. I do not like Rick Warren or his views, and I think that his behavior and attitudes have done a lot of damage in the GLBT community. He surely would not be my choice. However, he is a recognized and successful religious leader of our day, and while there might have been choices that might have been more accepted by a lot of folks, he certainly has the credentials to "qualify" him for this honor. To exclude him because of his views would be inappropriate, just as would be the selection of someone else because he or she is pro-gay. It must also be noted that Rev. Joseph Lowrey (an avid civil rights activist and supporter of the GLBT community) is offering the benediction. I don't hear the religious right screaming about that choice. I sometimes wonder who the bigots are here. I think that Mr Obama has bigger issues that should be consuming his time. energy, and economy than this flap over who is invited to pray. Good grief. Can anyone tell me who offered the invocation at GW Bush's inauguration? How about at Bill Clinton's? Who cares? We are inaugurating Rick Warren nor does his inclusion mean that Obama agrees with his views.

Several years ago, I was invited to offer the invocation for a session of the Illinois General Assembly. This invitation was the result of some behind the scenes work by a gay staff member of a gay assemblyman, and I was honored and pleased by the honor. However, I didn't use the situation to offer any comment regarding my political or social views, and I suspect that Rick Warren will be a professional and will offer a prayer. I think it says a lot that he, knowing that Obama is publicly supportive of GLBT folks, is accepting the invitation. It's called "crossing the aisle." Obama has reiterated his support for GLBT issues, so let's drop it, move on, and offer our new president our support and prayers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A "LULU" of a Mall

Today Ben and I were fortunate enough to have a day off together. Once we got up and moving, we headed out to visit with one of my church musicians to run through some stuff for Christmas Eve. After a few minutes of review, we moved on to a delightful conversation and then we were off to lunch at a local restaurant where we each had our own pizza (they were small, but they were among the best I've had in a very long time). After lunch, Ben and I stopped at the church to do some copying and the rest of the day was ours. He is posting some pictures from along our journey, but I've got a couple of mine posted here. Our journey took us to another unusual mall (Last week, the mall was eerily empty). This one has very few merchants in it, but has become almost a museum of assorted and odd memorabilia as you can see from the pictures. The statue of Little Lulu (remember her from the comics?) brought out the pervert in Ben and I had to get the shot.

Here's a couple more to let you see the odd stuff -- the heli-boat was really odd, but the sign said it is the only one in existence. It struck me as a bit "James Bond-ish."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hope on the Horizon

Hope springs eternal on the job front. I have been contacted by the temp agency I was with previously about a possible return to the previous client. That option is now in play with no definite start date. Then, on Wednesday, another temp agency contacted me after finding my resume on Career Builder to offer me a similar position with their client. I went for testing and preliminary interview on Thursday and should hear something from them early in the week. And on top of that, I am about to extend my church contract for another three months. It all might make for an interesting holiday season. Stay tuned.

The Answer Revealed

Thanks to the folks who submitted guesses as to the subject of the picture in my previous post. No one got the right answer -- don't know if that's the result of bad photography or unusual subject. The picture is actually a straight on shot of the brand new Country Crock Spread. I just love the smooth and perfect surface that is never the same once a knife touches it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Challenge

This is a picture that I took of something in the house. Who can tell me what it is? I can't offer a prize, but the winner will get a big cyber-hug. So -- post your guess and I will announce the winner (if there is one) and reveal the answer this weekend.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Who Knew?

Well, today was the big day at church -- a vote on whether or not to close. They voted by a 2-1 margin to not close. I'm not sure that they all caught on that this means that they need to buckle down and get committed, but I guess it is a good sign. The day for me was exhausting -- the emotional strain about did me in. At least I didn't have to go from there to work today == hooray! Now I wait for the higher ups in the denomination to help me determine what's next. Might be interesting.

Monday, December 01, 2008

More Random Thoughts

Well, I haven't had much to say since Thanksgiving -- too much "stuff" going on I guess. Thanksgiving with the family was great -- the only thing to have made it better would have been having Ben there instead of at work. I managed to dodge the "work" bullet for both the holiday and Black Friday. I was wise enough to not even think about going shopping at 4 or 5 AM, and waited until about 3 to get some groceries. By then the stores were pretty dead -- thankfully.

Sunday at church was weird with the specter of possible closure hanging over the congregation. Of course, the rumor was rampant that I was intent on closing the church from the first day I got there. That of course is patently false, but I guess they needed someone to blame. I dispelled that rumor publicly. If I had been so sure about closing the church last winter I would likely not have accepted the task and, if I had it would have been long since accomplished. Two of my four board members have already jumped ship (pretty clear indication of the future of the church I think). The whole thing becomes very exhausting, but next Sunday they will vote on my recommendation to close -- more later.

And after all of that, I got to drive home in our first yucky storm of the winter, slipping and sliding as I went. Also went to work and got to drive home in it at near midnight. All is safe and sound.

Had the day off today and dug out the boxes of Christmas stuff -- put some out, but the tree will come out later in the week. By next weekend, it should look like the Griswold house around here. We have all Ben's stuff, all my stuff, and some stuff we got when Mother emptied out her house. So what did we do tonight? Went and bought just a few more decorations -- don't know where everything is going, but it will be both a challenge and a joy to see it all. That's about all from this frozen winter wonderland -- hug someone and drive carefully.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Take time to consider God's blessings in your life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good News

I got the results of my recent bloodwork today when my doctor called. Much to my surprise my cholesterol, he said, was good. And then he told me that the "bad" cholesterol was good and the "good" cholesterol was bad (too low). He called in a prescription for something to bring it up. He also reported that the kidneys are functioning normally. I told him that they often function overtime -- water pills and coffee are a killer combo. LOL. So, tomorrow I will go get the new pills and add them to the two or three others I am taking. Gosh -- now I have to remember what to take when and to do it.

AND - today I took the dog to the groomer (She was a shaggy mess). I anticipated a bill of $29 (a really good price at the local pet store), but then I got the phone call -- she was infested with fleas. Seems I had let the flea preventative run out. This is the first time in the eight years we've been together that fleas have appeared (shame on me). SO -- add a flea bath, and then there's the flea treatment for the dog, the flea treatment for the cats, and the flea foggers for the house. Instead of the $29 bill, it came to nearly five times that. OUCH!
Lemuel's post about pet's being victims of the economy became very real to me in that moment. Between grooming, flea meds, cat butt drugs (for the frequently impacted puss), food (none of it cheap), vet bills, and the host of other expenses that go with pet ownership, is it any wonder that people end up giving up their pets when they can no longer afford them? For most it is a heartbreaking experience and often adds one more dimension to the feeling of failure that comes with economic messes like the one in which this nation and the world find ourselves.

After dealing with the dog grooming and getting the needed meds and such, I headed to work, stopping along the way to pick up the new meds -- of course they weren't ready in time for me to go to work, so it's another trip tomorrow. Ben came home, packed up the animals, set off the flea bombs, and headed out with three animals for a while until it was safe to return home -- hopefully flea free. Then he had some cleanup from the fumigation -- bless him, he's a wonderful soul.

And that's the way it goes on this 25th of November -- only one month til Christmas -- actually the countdown snowman says 29 days, 29 minutes and a few seconds. Ready or not, here it comes. Hug someone

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Saturday night, Ben and I had the opportunity to go to the local community theatre for their production of "It's a Wonderful Life - the Musical." The movie with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is one of our favorites (after all, it's a Christmas movie, right?), and I wanted to see how it was adapted for a live musical. It was very well done (It was LONG -- we were there over three hours), but well worth the time and the money. The things that struck me were 1) the children -- they were so talented and having a great time, and 2) the entire cast seemed to really enjoy doing the show. After all, aside from Mr. Potter, what's not to like? Our little foray into local culture was a smashing success.

Halloween Revisited

You may recall that Ben and I went to the Halloween Party at church last month. I finally got a picture of us from one of the church members, so I thought I'd share it with you. In case you don't know, we went as the ECONOMY-BEFORE AND AFTER BUSH. Ben, obviously, represents the relatively healthy economy of eight years ago (note the tux and the money in the breast pocket) and I am the economy of today -- the out of work, homeless bum. We didn't win the costume contest, but we got great reviews and we had a great time doing it -- so it was all worth it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Angst

Well, here we are on Friday afternoon, and I am struggling with trying to pull a sermon together for a congregation who will hear (immediately after worship) my recommendation to close the church. That makes preaching a challenging upbeat sermon an awkward task at best. The sermon plus the stress of the post service announcement is giving me fits. I am also watching the work schedule for the week (It should be finalized by tomorrow afternoon). At this point I am scheduled off on Thanksgiving and the day after (an amazing combination). The Service Team Lead said more than a week ago that no one would be off on Friday (Maybe my name is"no one"). Of course, even if I am off those days, Ben will be working them (that sucks).

On a potentially positive note, I had a call from the temp agency the other day asking if I would be interested in going back to client employer I was with until the end of March. I said, "YES" of course. The potential assignment is set to begin in mid-December. I need to find out how much it's paying and how long it's expected to last. I'm sure it'll pay more than I am making now, but the length of the contract is important. I'd hate to take something for a month or two and then be unemployed again. So I will need some more info on this before making a decision.

Tomorrow I work through the day (Ben is off) and then we go to the Community Theatre to see "It's a Wondeful Life." I just hope we can both stay awake through the performance -- it's terribly rude to snore at the theatre LOL. It should be fun and kind of a change from the pace of life around here.

I guess that's the news from this suburb of Hell -- hug someone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday Night Musings

Well, here we are -- past another weekend and still standing. Yesterday I recommend to the church board that we look at closing the church for several reasons, and they agreed that this was the best course of action. Now, I have the pleasure of presenting the concept to the congregation and watching for reaction as they prepare for a meeting in a few weeks to vote on this issue. Yesterday's service and meeting wiped me out, but like a good trooper I went to work last night. Today, after a lengthy church related phone call, Ben and I headed out to a mall not too close and not too far and then I was off to work. Tomorrow I have a doctor appointment to renew my BP meds and whatever other things he feels prudent -- after all this old bod isn't getting any younger. It's been a week since I posted my resume on here, and as yet, I have not had any fabulous (or not so fabulous) job offers. Rome wasn't built in a day I guess. Next week it will be Thanksgiving already and I am carefully watching the schedule for work. We were told that many would be working on Tgiving and ALL would be working on "Black Friday." Yet, as I see the preliminary schedule, I am scheduled off both of those days. That is still subject to change between now and Saturday, but I am going with the "less said the better" mindset. Hopefully it won't change and we can do the family thing on Thursday and either shop or hang out on Friday. I guess since it is rapidly approaching 1 AM, I ought to go crawl in the sack and snuggle against a warm, sleeping sweet Ben -- and then drift off to sleep. Much to do in the next few days so I will need all my beauty sleep. Hug someone special!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another Saturday Night

Well, here we are again on Saturday night. Ben worked early today and I worked the midshift -- got off work at 530PM. I came home to a home cooked dinner (yummy), and then sat down to do some work for tomorrow's church service. I finished (a relative term) the sermon and then drafted a document evaluating the congregation where I have served as Interim Pastor. In this document, I am recommending that the church decide that it is time to close the doors. This will the major topic of the Board meeting (the one from last Sunday got postponed due to lack of attendance), so it will be a trying day. After church and this lovely meeting, I have to go to work until 11PM or after. Oh, goody! Ben is off on Monday and I don't go to work until 4 or so, so we will have a few hours together -- a rarity in this day. As November zooms by, we are beginning to see some Christmas lights here and there. Of course, we've had Christmas lights on our patio since we moved in in April -- but I imagine we will add some more soon.

Please just keep us both in your thoughts as we deal with church issues, job issues, and an uncertain future -- I guess it that uncertain future that is supposed to build faith. Hmm, is there a sermon in there somewhere? Anyway, hug someone special and stay warm.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Looking for Some Help Here

If you check out the bar of links on the left of this page, you will see a new section entitled "Nick's Resume." I have put my current resume (with name, address, phone deleted for obvious reasons) online as part of my ongoing search for gainful employment and life direction. Ben and I are willing to consider relocation to other areas of the US, and I can be available for a new position in a relatively short time. If you are a potential employer, I would appreciate your consideration. If you know of potential employers or would like to offer suggestions or improvements for my resume, I would love your assistance. To some, this kind of "self - selling" might seem like a last ditch effort, but it is not that. Rather, I was inspired to attempt this use of the internet as part of an ongoing and aggressive search for a new position. Any assistance that you, my readers, can offer will be appreciated. I will report on the results of this post at a later date. Thanks, all, for your help.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday Night Rants

Well, here it is Saturday night and I am looking at a Sunday service for which I have no real enthusiasm. The sermon prep I've done (or not done as the case may be) shows my lack of desire or drive to be there and minister to these folks. We have reached the point of trying to decide whether or not this is a viable congregation with any potential for growth. We shall see how that process goes. The day will start with Bible Study at 930 (if anyone shows up for it), then service, then a Board meeting, a couple hours of "off"time, and then work for 6 hours and end up getting home about 1130 or midnight. Welcome to my Sunday.

That kind of day is piled on the crappy evening I had tonight. I am less than thrilled with my current position. I am getting so tired of demanding and ignorant consumers. They want sale prices on items NOT included in the sale, they are all in a dreadful hurry, they want something for nothing, and they bitch when they don't get their way -- which usually leads to management caving in and kissing their asses. Our question is not whether or not to bend over, but rather -- how far and for how long. I could see a future in this kind of work if the pay were better. I am just above minimum wage, which is far too little to put with the bullshit that comes my way in a day. Besides the customers, the pace of work is often nuts. I have to call and get permission to take the breaks and lunch periods that are mine under the laws and the contract, and am often made to feel guilty for asking. All too often I end up at the desk alone while co-workers are either pulled to other tasks (because they won't hire the help needed to do the jobs) or are goofing off doing nothing somewhere else in the store. I don't claim to be perfect -- I like some down time and fun time on the job as well, but still the job and the customers come first. It pisses me off when co-workers are standing around chatting and laughing and generally screwing off when there are customers to be dealt with. Am I wrong?

Well, as you can tell from the tone of this post, I am not a very positive frame of mind at the moment. I will go to church tomorrow and be wonderful and I will go to work and deal with more of the same. The sun will come up and I will live the day.

As I was talking with a co-worker about his future plans, I came to the realization that the only things holding me in Michigan (the unemployment capital of the nation) are my family and my partner (and he's as ready to move as I am). I am facing additional loss of income at years end and beyond as the church gig ends and unemployment runs out. That will leave me with this lovely part time job that will in no possible way cover the expenses.

The frustration level for us is almost insurmountable. I thank God for Ben and his patience with me as I rant and rave and as we look at an uncertain future -- where will we be? How will we live? Is there a future in the church? Am I destined to minimum wage level jobs with crabby customers? In the words of Doris Day, What will be will be. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's A New Day

This post will be a collection of rambling thoughts about the election and the future. Yesterday was an amazing day for the US and for the world. Not only did we elect the first African American President, but there have been some major changes as a result of yesterday's elections. For the first time since 1952 there will be no one named Bush or Dole in national elected office. The excitement in the air last night when the election was called was incredible. Less than 50 years after the birth of the civil rights movement, we elected a person of color to the highest office in the nation and to what many see as the most powerful position in the world. I was sitting here wondering this morning about the future; I wondered whether in another 20 or 30 years this country will elect an openly gay or lesbian president. We skirted the possible election of a woman as president (before the conventions) and a woman as vice president (following the convention). The election is over -- Where do we go from here? I was impressed by the acceptance speech of President elect Obama and by the concession speech of Senator McCain. I thought as I listened to McCain, "If he had spoken like this during the campaign, this race might have gone differently." Obama supporters -- we need to be good and gracious winners and not crow about the outcome. McCain supporters -- you need to be good and gracious losers and not boo the results or strive to impede the work that MUST be done over the next four years. The economy is in the toilet; the wars in the Middle East drag on; the image of the presidency and congress is badly tarnished; the overall image of the US is in a shambles around the globe. The only way if we can change the course is to work together and put the country first -- ahead of personal agendas, personal hurts or wrongs. We are the United States, not a bunch of separate groups identified by red or blue, old or young, rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight. Let us all work together from this day forward to bring this nation and this people into the new future that awaits us. And that, my friends, is the way it is this 5th of November.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Did You??

Ben and I went and voted this morning. It only took a few minutes and was painless. If you haven't done it yet, get busy -- it is a right and a responsibility, and with the way things are in this country right now it is ESSENTIAL!! GO VOTE. (unless you are a Republican! -- LOL)

Monday, November 03, 2008


Tomorrow is Election Day and EVERY American of voting age and legal standing needs to be out supporting his or her choice for the numerous races across the country. In addition to the Presidential race, there are Senate and House races, local races, numerous ballot initiatives and more. Some of the proposals have merit, others are just plain wrong! I am not afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed to tell you that my choice for President is Barack Obama. For those in Michigan, I am voting YES on Propositions One and Two (Medical marijuana and stem cell research). If I lived in California, I would vote NO on Proposition Eight and if I lived in Florida, it would be a NO vote on 2! I will be so glad when the political season is OVER -- I am sick of all the commercials and especially of the negativity. I wish candidates would state THEIR positions and stand on that rather than slogging mud on their opponent. Everyone who is running for office from Obama and McCain to the guy running for Drain Commissioner or School Board is putting him or her self out there to serve their communities or the nation. Regardless of your position, take the time to exercise your right (and your responsibility) as a citizen of this nation -- VOTE!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's That Time of the Month Again

Now, don't get all excited. I may not be addressing what you think! We are in the last few days of the month, and it's time to cough up the bucks for the rent (See? It's not so nasty after all). This is the week where Ben and I scramble to shuffle money from one account to another, to think about eating out less, cutting other items of the budget, and so on, just to pull the rent together before the first of the month. Somehow, we always manage to find just enough. This month had some extra expenses (my traffic ticket, Ben's church convention, etc), so it's a bit tighter than usual, but with a little creative budgeting, we'll get by. Someday, we will both have incomes that will allow us to not have to sweat every first of the month and also to have some extra disposable income. Please understand -- I am not really complaining. God has continued to see us through, and I know that that isn't going to change. I also know that God has a plan for us, and we need to persevere and await a great future. It would be wonderful to see what lies beyond the next few months, but that's not the way things work. Things will be revealed as they come -- we may be here struggling through each month, we may be here with better incomes, we may find opportunities in other parts of the country, who knows? God knows, so if we stay faithful and remember that we won't be dropped along the roadside of life, we will get through and walk into a brighter and better future. Can you all just take a moment and say a prayer or whatever your faith journey leads you to do? We appreciate it -- thanks. Hug someone today!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

And So the Season Comes

Here we are exactly two months until Christmas. In honor of the date, I bought the first Christmas present of the season. Ben was at his church convention and the mall was right across the parking lot from the hotel, so....... Like any good card carrying friend of Dorothy, I shopped! I also spent part of the day with Mother. She is living with my sister and brother in law, and that kind of arrangement sometimes causes tensions and upsets. Today was no exception -- in the twenty years or so that they have been married, I don't think I've ever seen the BIL upset with his Mother in Law. Today he just needed to vent, so besides occupying Mom for a while, I was also a listening and sympathetic ear. Mom is not a horribly controlling or demanding person, though I think she likes to be in control. Now that she's not out in the world or managing her own home, the little things become oh so important. I took a moment to remind Mom of the years when Grandma lived with them and how difficult that sometimes was.

Last night we were at the church convention banquet and had a great conversation with the rector from a large wealthy church. We discussed ministry, the sexuality issue, and had a great evening. It's nice to be included in things. The hotel room was nice (and there were NO animals taking up space in that huge kingsize bed.). Now we're home again and it's time to get ready to do church in the morning. After church, I have a budget workshop with the Board (YUCK) and then go to work for the evening. At least I am off on Monday.

Sorry it's been a while since I posted -- guess I hit a dry spell. I've been dealing with some level of depression, but nothing lethal. These seasons come, we deal with them, and move on with life. No time to slow down and deal with the underlying issues. Life goes on. So that's what new in this end of town -- how about you? Hug someone -- and remember -- only two more shopping months until Christmas.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


I just noticed when I logged into my blog that my counter is currently at exactly 8000 -- thank you all for reading even when I am lazy about posting. It's been an interesting experience to ramble through thoughts, events, feelings, and problems. Thanks to all for your support and patience. Now we move toward 9000!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I must be on a roll this late night (or early morning) -- imagine -- two posts in a row! Anyway this one has been brewing for some time. For the past three months I have been working a job at the Service Desk of a regionally based retailer (not the BIG W, but similar and smaller) and in these three months I have begun to lose my faith in the inherent good and compassion of a vast majority of people. I am finding that over the past few years, people are becoming more self centered, rude, and downright greedy. Now I must say that there are a lot of nice people in the world and some of them even cross my path at work frequently. However, there are more who are 1) in a hurry, 2) on their cell phone when they are trying to conduct their business at my counter, 3) looking for every potential thing they can GET (awards for misscanned items, deeper discounts, faster service -- translated that means that we exist just to serve them and only them. I also find that people don't read the ads or signs correctly and somehow feel that the store policies (or even the state laws) may be okay to apply to everyone else, but certainly THEY are the exception. To any of you who are customers of this kind of retail establishment please remember a few things -- 1) many of us are working for minimum (or nearly minimum) wage, 2) we are doing the best we can, 3) it is not my fault that you made an error reading the signs or ads or that you "bought the wrong flavor cat food and need to return it (Yup -- they do, and we end up having to scrap any food related items that they bring back), 4) I don't set the store policies or legislate the laws about awards, coupons, returns, lotteries, liquor, or the host of other things you don't agree with. Please don't take my refusal to meet your request (or demand) as a personal affront -- I will respond the same way to the next customer with the same issue. And finally, remember this -- Screaming at me, swearing at me, or telling me what an idiot I am are not ways of encouraging me to find a way to accomodate your needs and wants. And for God's sake, hang up the cell phone when you come to the counter!!!! I had a customer tonight who "gassed" on her phone the entire time I was ringing up her huge grocery order and bagging her treasures. She even continued to yak yak yak through the payment process and was still blabbing away as she left the store! There was no opportunity to greet her, to make sure she was satisfied, or to tell her to have a nice day (or to go jump in the lake). That is a perfect example of the ever rising rude quotient! I know this post is rambling, but I could write pages about the stuff that these "guests" (they aren't guests, they are CUSTOMERS) pull. And in conclusion, contrary to the old adage -- the customer is NOT ALWAYS right! Sometimes they are just plain misinformed or perhaps just brain dead! And that is my thinking on the subject. Be nice to the cashiers and others who are there to help you have a great shopping experience!! Remember it's not all about you and that the store will still be there whether you get your way or not.


I have remained fairly quiet on the whole issue of the government push to spend three quarters of a trillion (how many zeroes is that?) dollars to rescue the economy. Around the house, Ben is probably tired of my saying "Let the economy collapse if that is where we are headed.", but it is the way I feel. It is also apparently the way that a LOT of citizens feel based on the information coming out of various congresspeople's staffs as to constituent input on this matter. I was pleased to hear an interview with a LosAngeles based US Representative who made it clear that she listens to her constituents (Wouldn't it be nice if they all did that?) and out of 1500 calls and emails (admittedly a small number of her constituents), 2 were in favor of the bailout plan and the rest were opposed. That kind of response has been reported from other districts as well which tells me that a vast majority of US voters are opposed to the plan set forth. I heard one man say that it is better to let the economy fail now and have the current generation suffer the consequences than to burden our children and several generations with the enormous debt this would incur.

I oppose the bailout for several reasons:
1) No one bails me out when my finances run amok
2) Why should the government buy the very risky loans and investments that the financial industry says were the very things that led to this crisis? A bad debt or investment is bad whether it is made on Wall Street or Pennsylvania Avenue.
3) Too many people have been raping the financial system for personal gain for years -- they need to be called to account for their possibly legal but surely unethical and greedy actions.
4) All of these federal bailouts (this one, the proposed huge loans to the automakers, Freddie and Fannie, and others) set a dangerous precedent. It is a precedent that can not be carried to the point of bailing out every industry or business that is in trouble, so why start here?
5) Perhaps my biggest reservation is that this crisis is being brought forth by the Bush Administration -- a body of folks known for their collective forthrightness and absolute honesty. If George Bush told me that the sky was blue, I would have to go look to see if it really was so. From the stealing of the presidency in the 2000 election to the illegal invasion of Iraq to go after the "WMD" (Which of course never turned up), to everything else that has been a load of horseS**T (to use the word purportedly muttered in the debate by John McCain), we have been misinformed, misdirected, badly governed, and essentially screwed over.
6) Actions have consequences -- SOME of us try to teach that lesson to our children (though it seems that more parents than ever before seem to not be teaching it to their "special" children). If we (the people) bail out Wall Street, what kind of object lesson is that?

Now, I don't pretend to understand global economic matters, and perhaps some kind of government intervention is needed. However, I think it needs to a responsive action rather than a reactive jumping to a rapid conclusion -- a jump that could essentially bankrupt not only Wall Street and the business community, but the US Government.

Just to wind down, I say again, "Let's be responsible and responsive -- make informed and well thought out plans and actions and listen to the electorate -- not just to get their vote, but because I for one still believe in "We the people". And that, my friends is my take on this mess.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Christmas Countdown Begins

Well, many of you who read this blog should have been expecting this post. It is now exactly three months until --- wait for it --- here it comes --- don't scream yet -- Christmas! By now the early birds are planning their decorating, shopping, and celebrating. We are beginning to see signs of the Christmas crap (I mean "goods") in the stores (Trust me, there's plenty more on the way.). I fear that this year as I work in retail, I will be Christmas'ed out long before December 25 comes along. But Ben and I will have a wonderful time celebrating together -- it is without a doubt the favorite of the holidays. Get ready -- it's coming.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Autumn All

Happy beginning of Autumn. It won't be long before we get to see the colorful panorama of changing leaves and feel the crispness in the evening air. Enjoy the season.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

They Got Me

Well, I guess it had to happen. Last night as I was heading home from work (near midnight), I exited the interstate and started the short northward drive toward home. The speed limit through this area (a main road no less) is 25MPH, which I find a bit slow. It is currently a construction area, but there was no construction going on at that hour. Anyway, I guess I was in a hurry. As I zipped along, I saw headlights come on in an adjacent parking lot and saw a police car. Of course I slowed down and went on my way. As I rounded the next corner, the flashing red and blues came on behind me. I turned into a residential street and pulled over, waiting to take my medicine. The police officer was very polite and kindly handed me a ticket, but only for 5 miles over the limit instead of the 15 or 16 over at which she clocked me. So now I have to come up with the bucks to feed the local coffers. I admit I was exceeding the speed limit and therefore violating the law -- but I also think that the speed limits in our community are set intentionally slow. Most folks I know are not always going to poke through town on major roadways at 25 MPH. Trouble is -- the police are lurking, always ready to present drivers with a local souvenir -- a traffic citation. The cost of my ticket will be nearly 150 bucks -- should be fun finding that kind of cash lying around. Ah well, if you speed, you bleed (in this case GREEN). So -- slow down and save money. My new slogan is "Drive 25 -- arrive alive -- eventually!"

Sounding Off

Well, here we go. Hurricane Ike was poised to hit the Texas coast with nasty force, but its so called effects were already swirling around the gas station community hours before the storm had any major impact on the market. I am not belittling the force, vengeance, or threat of Hurricane Ike -- sure am glad I'm not in that part of the country right now. However, as I looked out from the store at the gas station in the parking lot, you'd have thought they were giving something away. Then I headed for home -- the first other station I passed had jumped their price a dime this evening -- not unheard of I guess in these uncertain times. I drove on toward home, gambling that I might still get a decent price for a fill up in preparation for the weekend. When I got off the freeway, the signs were reading 3.91 (right where they were when I went speeding by -- another subject -- last night. I pulled in and was pleasantly greeted by the pump price of 3.89. I filled up and headed out. The next two stations I passed had signs with prices of 4.59 and 4.49 respectively. I heard rumors of some neighboring communities with gas in excess of 5 dollars per gallon. Now -- they are going to attribute this huge jump in price to the Hurricane. I grant you that the oil refineries will be lucky if they survive the storm. BUT -- the gas that is in the tanks at the stations today is not impacted by storm damage that has not even occurred as yet! I can only attribute the premature jump to two possible motives -- fear and greed. Some stations may fear that they won't be able to get gas next week, so they are going to try to cover potential future losses. Others, I believe, see the opportunity to gouge (Yes, I said it) the communities in which they function and hike the price for gas that they already have purchased for a lower price to new record prices. My guess is that if the motive is gree, then we can see those stations hike their prices even higher next week because "our costs took a big jump." I wish that I could convince my employer to pay me based on what my rent and utilities might be next month. I will remember the stations that are holding the line on prices for the moment and will likely give them my future business. No doubt by tomorrow or Monday at the latest even these stations will jump to new record prices, but they will do it based on what they are paying for new gas, not on what they paid for their gas on hand. The whole issue of oil and gas prices is a major issue, and I pray that we can elect some leaders who have the guts (I would have said "balls" but that might be seen as sexist) to develop a comprehensive plan and to regulate pricing. I know who I am voting for and it is NOT more of the same old song and dance -- and that not a very entertaining song and dance. I do not approve of price gouging -- come on station owners, stop practicing economic voodoo and behave responsibly. I guess I've said my piece. What's your take on the situation?

Monday, September 08, 2008

It's Coming!!

Christmas is coming! We all know that on some level, but working in a retail establishment is making that reality hit home already. I went to work the other day, and the area that up until the other day held garden ornaments is morphing into a Christmas wonderland -- just on the edge of my line of sight from the service desk there is an entire display of green garland. I woas off yesterday, so God only knows what may have appeared and what I may face when I return this afternoon. I love Christmas, but I fear that working so close to that section of the store may give me an overdose. Hope not! Hug someone today.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Food Meme

via Torn and Lemuel

1) Bold all the items you have eaten.
2) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Venison – Not Impressed.
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile – No, but have had their cousin Alligator
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue – I think so – it was cheese, so it had to be okay.
8. Carp – Again not impressed
9. Borscht –NYET!
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich – A mainstay of school lunches in my day!
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart -
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream – Yes -- once and only once – yuck
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries - Yes! Strawberries! Raspberries!
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - Yes.
25. Brawn, or head cheese – no thanks
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters – Just can’t bring myself to it.
29. Baklava - Yes, too sweet for my taste!
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas -.
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - Yes! Yes! Yes! - as long as it’s New England (cream) style. One of my fav’s – love it from Panera!!!
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut - YUCK
35. Root beer float - O my yes! But it has been so long! In a frosted glass mug at an A&W drive in. (Lemuel’s answer is so appropriate)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea -.
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo - Yes, but I’ll pass. Usually too spicy for my palette.
40. Oxtail - Yes. By mistake.
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - Not intentionally. (I’m keeping Torn’s answer here, because it is *so* right!)43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk -.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - Yes, hot from the oven –otherwise they get kind of gross
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal – No – too much “stuff” on them.
56. Spaetzle - Yes,
57. Dirty gin martini – taught me I do not like gin
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips - Yes - not as good as chocolate.
61. S’mores - Yes.- not as excited by them as most folks.
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs – yes, quite tasty
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - Yes (funnel cake). A fair/carnival staple.
68. Haggis – Not in this life -- Even though it is from my ethnic history, it’s beyond my comprehension
69. Fried plantain - Yes
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill -
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - Yes,.
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict – Can’t stand Hollandaise.
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash -.
88. Flowers – Not that I know of
89. Horse - HORSE – no; LIKE a horse – all the time
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam - Yes, when times were tough, it was a budget stretcher. A camping and trailer park staple
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish – a true bottom feeder
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox – Bagel yes; lox -- yuck.
97. Lobster Thermidor -.
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake -

Special bonus for Sociètè members:
101. Picked red beets and eggs.

I guess I am too picky an eater for this list -- a lot of this stuff I've not only not eaten, but also have not ever heard of. Ah, guess I have a lot to learn. LOL Hug someone

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Night

Well, there's nothing exciting in this spot 20 minutes from Hell. But since I haven't posted all week, I thought I ought to let people know I am still alive and kicking. I am off work from yesterday through late afternoon on Tuesday (almost a vacation). There is, of course, church stuff going on. We have a special guest in to do leadership training today and preach tomorrow (That means I don't have to!!). I went to the Detroit airport to meet her yesterday, then to the church in Flint to do some work, then to her host's home west of Flint, then home -- a rather lengthy trek. Today Ben got up and went to the church with me for the training session -- he actually worked on his sermon and did some shopping -- plus helping to resolve (at least momentarily) a difficult relationship situation that threatened the peace and harmony of the church. Then, once the church stuff was done, we went to the home where our guest is staying for a delicious dinner (the best part was that I didn't have to come home and cook). Tomorrow Ben goes one direction for church and I go the other. And there's probably an aiport run in my Monday --- who knows? Thank God for a car that gets really good gas mileage! Anyway, hoping you all have a wonderful weekend! Hug someone.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday Night

Actually, the post title is a lie -it is really now 12:20 something Monday morning, but for me it is still Sunday night. Last night (Saturday) at work was nearly my last night on the job as all kind of crap occurred. First, I discovered that my going in early on Friday (at management request) had screwed up my time and showed a missed shift for Friday -- not fun. I finally got a note to the manager on duty about 10PM and he promised to fix it so that my pay will be correct on Friday -- we shall see. I didn't get my lunch break until I had worked nearly six of a seven hour shift and then I almost had to beg to get it. On top of that, I had a problem at the register I was on and called the appropriate person -- who came over (finally) and talked to me as though I were an idiot (in front of the customer). This is a "kid" (probably about 20) whose rear end is immense (I mean when this girl walks past all I can picture in my mind is "slosh, slosh, slosh"). She does not handle the stress of her job well and takes out her stress level and her physical discomfort (an ass that wide has to hurt to carry on two legs) on the rest of us. It was -- shall I say?? -- nutso! Tonight was a bit better at work and big butt was a bit nicer.

This morning I did the church thing and it went okay I think. The past three Sundays have been kind of a free flow sermon series encouraging the congregation to a sense of ownership and purpose. I preached on "Possess the Land" (It's not enough to arrive and sit down, but we like Israel need to POSSESS it). Last week I preached "Press on" (keep striving forward and don't rest on the accomplishments of the past). Today's message was from Proverbs "Without a vision the people perish" (It dealt with focusing a vision for self and for congregation and in the light of the previous two messages, moving forward to take ownership of that vision and "become" that vision). I was quite pleased with it -- now if only it will encourage some folks to step into the batter's box and take a swing at being church. We shall see. We have two outside guests (denominational powerhouses) coming to visit in the next few weeks and that may build on what I preached. I have four more months on my contract to help them get in shape for a healthy future -- a real challenge.

Now I sit here having arrived home at 11:45PM to a sleeping Ben and a dark house. I kissed him on the forehead and he didn't stir, so I let him sleep. Soon I will join him. I don't go to work until 4PM tomorrow so I pretty much have the whole day to get ready.

That's about all for now from this locale (as Ben puts it -- twenty miles from Hell). Hug someone and get some sleep. That's where I'm headed in a minute.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

International Criminals

Hi all! Ben and I both had the day off so, as usual, we headed out for an adventure. We drove to Detroit and visited the two big casinos (I think between us we played about 3 dollars and lost it all). After watching the people for a while, we realized that we were only a few feet from the international border with Canada. Always being up for something new (Ben had never been to Windsor) we decided to head to Windsor to look around. We battled through a major construction mess to get to the bridge and crossed the Detroit River. When we arrived on the Canadian side, we got the third degree -- where were we from, how did we know each other (we said roommates -- why rock the immigration boat) where we were going, etc. They pulled us aside, searched the car, asked a million more questions and finally admitted us to Canada. We drove around a bit, visited the big casino there, had lunch, and decided to come back to the good old USA. We came back through the tunnel (to avoid some of the construction near the bridge) and got to the customs and immigration lane where we were questioned again and were informed that we were in violation of federal law because we did not carry proof of US citizenship. I remember the days when you didn't even need ID to cross -- ah, times have changed. After scolding us and explaining the law, the agent waved us through and we were back on our home turf. The whole crossing in both directions made me feel as though we were being treated as criminals. As Ben said -- if we had been planning an attack (which neither of us would ever do) we would have had papers in order and been right up the letter of the law -- the perfect crossing tourists. The fact that we were so scatterbrained as to not have proof or even a specific destination in Canada should have been a tipoff that we were on the up and up. I think that today was the last crossing to Canada for either of us for the foreseeable future. I can go to work and be treated better LOL. Anyway, with the exception of the third degree, we had a wonderful day and now are sitting at home enjoying the evening.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Whose Money?

I find that I cannot stomach a lot of TV commercials that are out there today. They tend to employ deception, vanity, sloppy logic and a host of other questionable methods to sell their products. One of the most annoying for me is a company called JG Wentworth. For non-TV watchers, this is a company that will buy out your annuity or structured settlement (I'm sure for a whopping fee) so you can have the money now. The thing that blows my mind is the statement from "clients", "It's my money, I need it now!" My sense tells me that while the money WILL be yours according to the terms of the contract, it is not yet "yours" until the time specified by the annuity or terms of the settlement. Using the logic of this company, my landlord could say a month into a one year lease, "It's my money, give it to me now!" Again, it is not their money nor do they have any claim on it until the time specified in the lease (or possibly when the lease is broken). I structured settlement or annuity is set up the way it is for a reason -- and to demand changing that is likely to leave the recipient wanting in the long term. Why doesn't the company simply advertise their willingness to act on the recipient's behalf as a paid agent to negotiate a buyout of the annity or settlement? That's the true fact -- getting the money now that will be yours later on is gonna cost you -- both in the short term and likely in the long term. Are people so stupid or do the ad people think they are? God, I hope not!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

In my previous post today I mused about the past 60 years of life. In this post, I want to share some of my celebration today. In yesterday's mail I received a card from Ben's parents. What a wonderful gift -- they are so accepting and have welcomed my into the family with open arms. THANK YOU. Ben got me a new piece for my Boyd's Bears collection (this one is a church that lights up -- isn't a church a perfect choice for a couple of preachers?) and a French Press Coffee Maker. My first experience with french press was on our recent trip to Iowa -- it seems so chic and classy (perfect for the quintessential gay couple). He woke me up with a pot of french press coffee and a plate of fruit. He's such a sweetie. I am off work today (which is cause enough for celebration) and tonight Ben is taking me out for dinner to a gay place in Ann Arbor. There's no gay places in this lovely little burg where we live. I expect a birthday card from Mom in today's mail. I don't know what other surprises await me, but so far the day has been great. Hope your day goes as well. Hug someone!

Pause for Reflection

Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the birth of ME! On this celebration of six decades of life, one pauses to reflect on where one has been, where we are, and where we might be headed in the remaining years of life. First, I want to thank my parents and my God for the gift of life. Without that, this post would not be possible. Thanks to my parents for raising this difficult and different child. When I was born, there were some physical and mental issues that prompted doctors to recommend an institutional kind of life, but Mom said, "No way!" By about age three or so, the problems self (or God) corrected and life went on. I can't say that I had a happy childhood -- I was often in some kind of trouble (never serious or criminal in nature, but trouble just the same). My parents did the best they knew how, and as I look back, I know they loved me through it all. I made it through high school, went to college for a year (I wasn't really ready for it), and then got a job. I chose to join the Army (can't imagine why) and soon married my high school sweetheart (or the closest thing to it). On my 21st birthday, I received the greatest possible gift -- the birth of my daughter (Cathy, if you are reading this -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY). The marriage ended in divorce for several reasons including my sexuality. That sexuality led me to new discoveries and in new directions in life. In my late 30s, I finally answered God's call to ministry and have served there since. I have pastored churches, served in leadership roles, and currently am serving in a quarter time interim position. I wonder if I have achieved anything along the way. I have been in a couple of long term relationships, but have never felt as loved and cared for as I have since meeting my beloved Ben. I feel respected, valued, affirmed, and loved. I am working a part time minimum wage job which is a little demeaning in that by this point in life I should be thinking about and planning for retirement. I fear that my retirement years will not be filled with ease and comfort, but I will survive. For the most part, I have my health, though there is the BP issue, weight control (0r out of.......), and the usual aches and pains. From some perspectives, my life hasn't amounted to much. However, using a more spiritual and less tangible yardstick, my life has been filled with irreplacable experiences and blessings. The opportunity to touch lives, to participate in life celebrations, to see my daughter all grown up and a parent in her own right, to have the opportunity to meet my grandson, to see my Mother grow old, to see a host of nieces growing up, doing college, marrying and such, to experience Ben, to just celebrate the gift of life all add up to a mental album of memories that will carry me into the later part of my life. To all those who have touched my life -- family, partners, co-workers, parishoners, blogging friends, and total strangers who I've encountered -- thank you for your roles in making me who I am and for helping to shape the life I celebrate today. If you're still reading, thank you for allowing me to muse. Give someone a hug and celebrate life.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

OH - For a Self Cleaning House

Well, it's been a busy week for both of us with work and church stuff. On our day off, we wanted to relax and enjoy each other's company. As a result of all that, coupled with a bit of procrastination, the house looks as though a bomb hit it. I think that ground zero has to be the kitchen with a bit of splatter to both bathrooms. Other areas look as though a cat exploded, throwing hair here and there. Now, while I've seen far worse and while neither of us is a neat-nik, it needs some attention. I have a feeling that when I am off on Monday, it will be a kitchen, bath and laundry day. If we can put people on the moon and if we can invent all kinds of "labor saving" devices, why don't we come up with a viable self cleaning house? At the moment, I can say, "Thank God we don't have to worry about yardwork." If we did, I'm afraid we'd be looking at a weed infested jungle. Ah well, it may be a mess around here at the moment, but it is OUR mess. Hug someone.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Where Did It Go?

I was amazed yesterday at how quickly the money seemed to fly away. I had some errands to run and a few things to pick up and by the time I got home I had spent almost half of the check I had just deposited. It was time to renew both my license plate and my drivers license (a quick 75 bucks). Then I renewed two generic prescriptions at the big "W" store (another 30 bucks). Then it was off for a few groceries (a cool 80+ bucks), and finally I got some needed computer paper and a few cheap pens for work (22 bucks). That totalled over 200 dollars in about 2.5 hours. And I still need to get gas and write a check for a graduation gift today. Not bad -- work nearly a week on this new "high-paying" job and spend it all on the day off. That seems to be the American way. I came up with a new slogan last night about the job. "M (abbreviated employer name) -- a job, not a career." I will keep that in mind when the difficult guests come up to complain and rant. Well, tomorrow it's back to work to pay for next week's day off. Hope your money is better grounded than mine. EEK!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why and Who Cares?

I don't know about you, but I am tired of hearing the stories in the media that bring into question the sexual orientations of sports figures, politicians, celebs, and more. My first question is, "Who cares?" Does it matter to me who someone is sleeping with? I know that publicly affirming one's sexual orientation helps to provide role models for GLBT people and for heteros who are trying to figure out what makes us tick. However, making someone the latest grist for the rumor mill or publicly outing someone does absolutely nothing for either the GLBT community or for that individual. If Actor "A" is gay and chooses to not come out, that is his or her own business and none of mine. If Politician "B" inhibits GLBT rights and actually is gay, that might open the door to some public scrutiny, but in the end it is still her or his business. The bigger question in mind other than who is or isn't gay this week is this -- Why do we do this horrible stuff? How would you like it if I called your boss, your spouse, your next door neighbor or someone else close to you and outed you (or hinted that you MIGHT be gay)? Is the GLBT community really so shallow that we have nothing else to do but stick our noses in someone else's private business? Why does it matter? Are we trying desperately to justify our own lives by saying, "See, so and so is gay too"? We need to become much more self assured and self accepting rather than spending our time doing unto others what we would hate to have done unto us. I know this post won't be popular with some folks, but hey -- it's my blog. And just for the record, I am gay and proud. And that's the way I see it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What a Week

Well, folks, it's been almost a week since I've posted anything here. That is partly because I have been dog-tired what with the new job and all. It amazes me how hard people will work for the minimum wage. It's hardly a get rich quick (or ever) scheme, and I don't think this is a career move for me -- but it is an existence. Last week I put in about thirty hours;this week will be closer to forty (but it is still "part time"). For the most part, the co-workers are all right, some more helpful and friendly than others, and none of them mean or hateful (so far). The guests (in common lingo that means customers) likewise for the most part are pretty decent folks. There are those few who drive me up the walls. For instance:

1. The other day I had a woman at the register with three or four small and unruly children with her. They wanted to go on the pony ride (you know the kind in the front of the big "Mart" type stores). She was doing NOTHING to keep these monsters from grabbing at stuff, screaming, trying to spin the bagging carousel (which made it pretty tough to hit the bags with the groceries. And SHE has the right and privilege of being a parent? Hmmmm.

2. The woman who was not only upset but furious that a cashier had rung up an item twice on her order. I grant you, she was justified in letting us know and getting the adjustment, but she went on and on as though the cashier was either an idiot or had done it to her on purpose. And she couldn't handle this stress because of her heart. If she had simply come and asked for the money back, the stress level would have diminished and she'd have been fine -- but no -- she was the wounded one here and everyone (everyone) had to know about it.

3. Then there was the guy that I somehow overcharged for his tomatoes. He came back to my lane (3 customers later) and wanted an adjustment. I told him he would have to go to the service desk for an adjustment. Then he decided he didn't want them at all, to which I replied that he had to go to the service desk to return them. He blew a gasket and yelled that it was my fault that he was in the @@@****$$&&#* store 20 minutes more than necessary. I choked back my suggestion as to where he could stick his tomatoes -- after all, he was the guest and I was the grunt.

4. Today I had a woman guest with two big carts of groceries (so we know that this was not an unplanned stop). When I got about two thirds through her order, she discovered that she didn't have her check book (and apparently no cash, credit cards, or common sense either). That meant suspending her transaction while she called her hubby to bring the checkbook (after he searched for a new pad of checks). Fifteen minutes she was back at my register with the needed check, so I had to make another guest wait while I went through the process of receiving her check -- I didn't have to ring anything up again, but the computer had to reprint the entire register tape - and it went on and on.

5. And lastly, there are a few who want to be the exception to policy. This is especially true on the matter of returns. Our return policy is clearly stated and we do make some exceptions, but what some of them want is way beyond an exception -- they almost want an exemption so they can do whatever they please. I wonder if their mothers told them that they were more important than everyone else or if they are simply assholes. LOL

So that's it for Wednesday. You all have a good week and be kind to those cashiers. They work their asses off for YOU. Hug someone.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Home Again

Hi all; well, I am back home after spending a couple days caring for Mother and the dogs. It was a nice time, but it is nice to be home again with Ben and the animals. I worked this afternoon spending almost 7.5 hours in front of the computer learning about the company history, shrink prevention, hazardous materials, sexual harrassment, and more. YAWN. How exciting. I will be working the next 8 days in a row before I get a day off, but at least I will be free to go to my niece's graduation party. Oh goody!! Anyway, since I just got home I think I should go spend some time with my man. Have a good evening. I know I will.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Spending Time With Mom

Well, it's been a fun week so far. Monday morning I left home about 6:15 to head over to spend a couple of days with Mother while my sister and family are away. In the midst of all that, I started my new job on Monday afternoon (only 2.5 hours Monday) and then back to Mom's. It means getting her meals and making sure she has what she needs. Of course, it also means caring for their two dogs -- and these dogs are definitely missing their people and their routine -- one of them seems to have an upset digestive system today (cleaned up three indoor piles of poop). And the dogs had me awake at 530 this morning (the click click click of doggy toenails on hardwood floors). Took Mom to a doctor appt this afternoon that was a real waste of time. After waiting in the exam room for nearly a half hour, the doctor came in for about 5 minutes and really did nothing but ask how she felt and told her to continue the super duper antibiotics and come back in six weeks (after the doctor's vacation half way around the world. The entire visit could have been as easily accomplished by telephone and saved us time and gas as well as the stress on Mother of getting to and from the car and the office. And on top of it all, I bet she and Medicare get billed for this visit too. Ah well, that's life. Tomorrow afternoon I report back to work for a day of CBT (that's computer based training) learning and then home to Ben and the kids. He tells me that he had the dog and both cats in bed last night -- good thing I wasn't there -- where would I have slept? Ah, can't wait to get back to my own home, bed, and man..... Love to you all.

Friday, July 04, 2008

RIP Jesse Helms

This nation lost a dedicated lifelong public servant today as Sen. Jesse Helms passed away. Now, I agreed with little that came out this arch conservative's mouth. He opposed most of the things that I stand for and stood for many things that I am against. His anti[everything rhetoric was horrid and hurtful to millions. BUT he was doing the job to which he was elected to the best his abilities based on his beliefs and such. I have seen several posts today from GLBT sources gleefully reporting his death with relish. Such gleeful reaction to the passing of a former US Senator is horribly rude and immature. It also gives some degree of credibility of the attitudes held by Sen. Helms and his cronies. It is also terribly insensitive. The man left a loving family and scores of friends and colleagues who are grieving his passing. If the roles were reversed and the conservatives gleefully reported the death of a prominent GLBT activist, the community would be up in arms. Are we so damaged that we can justify being so hateful and immature? I extend to the people of North Carolina, to Sen. Helms' family and friends, and the US Senate prayers of comfort and peace during this difficult time. To those who want to revel and rejoice in his passing -- grow up!

Independence Day Thoughts

As I sit here this morning on the 232nd birthday of Independence Day, I have very mixed feelings about how much to celebrate. It is true that many have given their lives (physically, emotionally, financially, etc) for the life and liberty that we enjoy and that too many take for granted. Yet, as I ponder words like "liberty"', "freedom", and "independence", I wonder just how they apply to many of us. We are not free from our dependence on foreign oil. Many of us are economically trapped by rising prices, lower wages, fewer jobs, rising debt, and the like. Many of us are prohibited by law or by simple discrimination from freely expressing our love for the person whom we have committed ourselves too and from enjoying the same rights and privileges of our heterosexual counterparts. As I watch the news, it seems that our government often has us in a stranglehold -- oh yes, we the people elected these folks to represent us, but do they? Or do they represent the special interests and monied lobbying groups who can fuel their re-election campaign with much needed money? It is impossible for an average Joe to get nominated for or elected to the office of the President, although there are some highly capable and qualified people who don't have the name recognition or huge net worth that it now takes to get into nearly any office. Mind you, I am not proposing that we scrap the US or our way of life. What I am suggesting is that as you eat the picnic dinners, play the games, watch the fireworks and all that you not take liberty for granted. It comes with a price -- that price is learning to work and live side by side with people who, in many ways, are different from you -- different ethnicities, different religions (Contrary to the beliefs and preaching of some, we are NOT a Christian nation), different orientations or family structures, different economic levels, different educational backgrounds, different political opinions, and more. Even with all those differences (and those I've missed), we are Americans. Sometimes we work to change others, sometimes we have to work to change ourselves, sometimes we have to agree to disagree, but still we are all Americans bound together by principles and a legacy that transcend all that "stuff" that separates us from one another. Pause today to remember not only the flag waving and bumper sticker kinds of patriotism, but the deeper historically ingrained patriotism that allows us to love this country while at the same time recognizing that we are not perfect and that we do not have all the answers. Enjoy this day of celebration, but also remember to work to preserve and strengthen the fabric of these United States by being informed and involved and by being willing to listen to other views and to speak out against injustice. Freedom is hard work -- be a part of it or risk losing it. And that's the way I see it today. Happy Birthday, United States -- you are a grand old gal!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hope on the Horizon - Part Two

Well, I got a call a few minutes ago to let me know that my background check came back clean. That means two things: 1) I am not indebted to my potential employer for bad checks or shoplifting, and 2) I start my training on Monday afternoon. So, life goes on -- of course I will be making about half the amount on this job that I was on the last assignment. And it could be hours anytime of the day or night -- ah, twenty-four hour retailing. But it will give my life some much needed structure. I guess if there's anything I want to do or such, I'd better get it in between now and the weekend. Let the adventure begin!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hope on the Horizon

Well, I had a job interview today -- if one could call that an interview. It's not much -- a service desk clerk at a local superstore (similar to Wal-you know who, only local and nicer), but it's a start. Assuming I pass the background check (and Ben will attest that there is nothing wrong with my "background" LOL) I should start on Monday. It is only part time, but that can run as high as 40 hours. And since it is part time, I can continue to collect unemployment benefits (reduced of course in accordance with income) through the remainder of my benefit period. HOORAY! So stay tuned, faithful readers, for the outcome of today's visit.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Gnome Unmasked

Well, the keys have reappeared and the identity of the gnome is now known. It seems that Ben borrowed my keys to get something from the car last night and then left them in his pants pocket. Now, why would I check his pockets for my keys? Hmmmm. Well, anyway maybe it was in God's plan to give me a day off today. So all is well and we were out for a while this afternoon. Now it's sit and veg the rest of the day. Hope your weekend was as "interesting" as ours. Love ya!

A Frantic Morning

The gnomes are at it again in Howell. Ben left for church this morning, and as I was getting ready to go, I began looking for my keys -- and you guessed it -- I am still looking. I had to call my Administrative Assistant and my pianist and have them lead the worship service -- it was time for a good old fashioned hymn sing anyway I guess. I had the keys when we got home yesterday afternoon and I think I had them when we got back from the balloonfest last night. SO -- if those presumptions are true, either one or more of the animals hid the keys somewhere or the gnomes are being particularly playful. This afternoon we will go back to the balloonfest to see if anyone turned in keys, and with Ben's help we will tear the apartment apart one more time. Stay tuned for details.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Busy but Fun Day

Well, it's been a busy day and I'm pooped, but it was all worth it. It actually started last night when we literally walked across the street for the Michigan Balloonfest, an annual event with hot air balloons, carnival rides, vendors, FOOD, and tons of people -- all sizes and shapes. It was great to watch the balloons lift off and float freely over the city. This morning we headed to Lansing for Michigan Pride. We were a few minutes late for the parade kickoff, but we joined the tail end for the walk to the state capitol. Then we witnessed the mass commitment ceremony with several dozen couples publicly committing to one another on the capitol steps (Too bad the state won't recognize the relationships). From there Ben, the dog, and I headed back to the park for the Pride Festival. There were thousands of folks, lots of vendors, food, beer, and blaringly loud annoying music (Why must it be played at earsplitting levels?). The weather cooperated for us and we all came home tired but satisfied. We walked over to the Balloonfest for tonight's launch which appears to have been cancelled due to winds and threatening weather. Now we are just sitting kicking back and getting ready for the big day tomorrow --each of us off to church in separate directions. BUT the good news is that there is NOTHING we HAVE to do after church. We will probably walk back and see what the balloon people are doing, but I expect that will be about it. Of course with us, one never knows.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Now I'm Angry

Well, I reported on "bargain" gas prices last night. They didn't last long. Today I went out and as I headed east through town, gas prices were 4.08 and 4.09 (we live in a high price area) and then I found one at 4.25. Well, I went and traded cars with Ben to try to get him some gas before the price jumped. Well -- you guessed it -- by the time I headed back through town (a matter of less than 30 minutes) the prices had jumped and they were all 4.23, 24, 25, and even 4.30. It is nothing short of a stickup to see prices jump 15 cents a gallon at five separate stations in thirty minutes. I'm sure glad I was able to get me some gas last night at 3.98. Someone needs to do something -- not sure who or what, but if it doesn't stop soon, our economy and lives are going right down the toilet. Ah well, maybe the next President will have the answer -- this one sure hasn't found it.

An Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the 38th annivesary of the first Gay Pride celebration (Christopher Street Parade) in New York City as they marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riot -- the birth of the modern GLBT movement. Here in 2008, things are still difficult for GLBT folks -- we can't get married, gay teens get bullied or worse, we can often lose jobs, family ties, or other vital relationships if we come out or are found out. But if we think we have it bad, go back and read the histories of the gay movement. The people in this picture were taking a really big risk. Many of them are now gone, but the steps that they took that day some 38 years ago began a march for the GLBT community that has continued to this day and will continue until we are included as full, worthwhile members of society with the same rights and recognitions enjoyed by our straight neighbors. I look to the day (probably after I am long gone) when Gay Pride celebrations will not need to have a political or struggle aspect, but will simply be times to gather to remember how far we've come. Ben and I will be spending the day tomorrow at Michigan Pride in the state capital of Lansing. We plan to walk in the parade, attend the rally, and spend the afternoon among "our own". Take a moment to pause and remember with gratitude the folks who have gone before, paving the way for us to pick up the torch. Then find a way to stand up and speak up and be a part of the movement to set the stage for the next generation of GLBT folks.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bargain (?) Gas

Imagine my surprise and joy when I found gas for less than 4 bucks a gallon tonight. It was 3.98, which by today's standards is a bargain. Needless to say I topped off the tank. Maybe there is a slight break in prices for the moment. The need remains to conserve and to find other means of energy. All in time (perhaps not my life time). Hope you are getting some relief too.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Funerial Funnies

We recently began subscribing to the local paper because we found a deal that was really to good to pass up. I look at the headlines, and then I move on not to the comics, but something funnier--the obituaries. I am not one who usually pokes fun at the grief or suffering of others, but some of the things that people put in the obits is just too funny or weird to pass up. The funniest I have seen in ages says (names changed of course): George left his wife Mary to go be with his sister-in-law Jean. This is but one of the creative ways that people say "He died." My feeling is that if your name appears in the Obituaries, it is to be assumed that you are dead --right? There are phrases like "he passed into glory", "she was called home to be with Jesus", "He was translated to the church triumphant" (I'm not one hundred percent sure what that one even means), "Departed this life for another", and more. Not only do they get creative in describing death, but some of the pictures are a riot. Some guy dies at age 85 and the family submits a picture from 50 years ago -- what's that about? Either the picture is way out of date, or the guy found the fountain of youth.

Today's obit winner: "Although Bob and his family lived in Ohio, his hear never left Michigan, especially his cottage up north......" My first thought was, "If he was in Ohio, and his heart was in Michigan, is it any wonder he died?" Perhaps my humor is morbid, but it does give me some chuckles at the start of the day.

My advice is this: Write your own obituary being careful to read and re-read it keeping in mind that although YOU know what you mean, others may interpret or infer something quite different. If you are going to put in a picture, make it a fairly current one -- and for God's sake, take off the hat.

Sorry if this kind of post offends anyone's sensibilities. That is not my intent. To those who have recently lost loved ones, you are in my prayers. I hope and pray that you are still able to see the humor in this post. Watch for other "winners" coming soon.

Happy Summer, Everyone

I just stopped in this morning to wish you all a great summer on this, the first day of summer -- at least in this part of the world. I hope it is a time of fun, rest, great vacations, and renewal. Enjoy it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And the World Hasn't Ended

Well, folks, I can only imagine the surprise and likely disappointment in the camps of the doom predicting right wing religious folks. For more than 48 hours, GLBT folks have been getting married in California and the state hasn't fallen into the ocean yet. I also haven't heard of an increase in the number of traditional marriages collapsing in the path of same sex couples heading to the county clerk's office. God hasn't sent floods, flames (other than some of the couples getting married), earthquakes, or other forms of Divine punishment. Is it possible that, unlike the religious right, God is smiling on and blessing the events rather than sitting on the Holy Throne plotting some evil response? Can you believe it -- a God who loves, blesses, and affirms the joining of people who are in love? Ah well, I knew all along that such a God exists and reigns. Now if we can get the religious right to get acquainted with this God instead of the God they know who sits at the ready to squash anyone or anything that doesn't fit the dogma set forth by the rabid religious right. Congratulations and thank you to the many newlyweds who have stood bravely in the face of criticism and threats. Hang in there and enjoy the blessing of wedded bliss. And don't worry -- California isn't falling in the ocean this week.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When Did McCain Visit Utah?

I saw an online headline "Utah announces 'major dinosaur fossil discovery". Imagine my disappointment when the article was not about Sen. McCain making an appearance in Utah. Enough said!

Last One out of Michigan, Turn out the Lights

It's time for Michigan to wake up or give up. There are all kinds of things going on in this state that are literally driving people to move to other areas. Of course, there is the same sex marriage issue. While California and Massachusetts are allowing same sex marriages and New York has been instructed by the Governor to recognize the unions, Michigan holds fast to the horrific constitutional ban on same sex marriage (which actually gives a very narrow and bigoted definition of marriage). Legalized discrimination is not the way to keep people in a state that is facing other major issues as well. Not only are we one of the most publicly bigoted states in the country, but we also hold the number one slot in unemployment. So Ben and I find ourselves in a state where we are leagally banned from formalizing our relationship and where neither of us is able to find employment with income and benefits that can keep up with the record inflation. Hmm, sounds like a commercial for the Chamber of Commerce -- Come to Michigan where you can live in poverty and where you will be discriminated against. On top of that, our votes only count for half (if we're lucky). And then our largest city (Detroit) is governed by crooks, idiots, and wimps. The antics of Mayor Kilpatrick and the wishy washy actions of the city council are an embarrassment to the entire state. It would be so refreshing to have our state make the news for something GOOD for a change. And the big wigs in the state can't figure out why people are leaving the state! DUH! Wake up. Our plan is to be out of this cesspool of a state within the next year or two. Anyone have suggestions as to potential relocation sites? Employment, inclusion, weather, and such will all be factors in determining our eventual location. Come on, Michigan, wake up before your entire structure implodes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Need Your Help

Hi readers. This is an unusual post, but this is the only place I know of to seek what I need at this moment. I need to find one or more people who have experience as the partner of a person who has had a penis piercing. I need someone to chat with about this subject because Ben now has an adornment in that area. Suffice it to say, I have some concerns and hangups, but I know how ever it goes I will be fine and we will adapt to this change. If you -- or someone you know -- has some experience (not as the pierced one, but as his partner), I'd sure appreciate a comment or an email so that we can chat and I can get the assurances that my old fashioned mind is seeking. Thanks in advance for your help.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Another Grammar Mess

Well, here I go again. I often find grammar or language useages that drive me nuts. The most recent was on the morning news. The weatherman was reporting the forecast for "Your Fathers Day." The traffic reporter was talking about an accident blocking "Your left lane." When did I take ownership of holidays, weekends, roadways, and more? What about a clear forecast for Fathers Day? a blockage of THE left lane? It's really not a huge deal, but it is annoying to me because it is a lazy, bad habit and a miserable misuse of the English language. These are supposed to be professional people, and yet they seem to have trouble mastering the English language. Come on, newscasters, weathermen, and others--have some respect for yourself and for the primary language of this country. Learn to speak it correctly. And that's the way I see it today. Hug someone.