Friday, November 10, 2017

Miss Jackson if you're nasty

Today Spouse & I are going to Atlantic City with Steven & Thad to see Janet Jackson in concert tonight!  We're staying overnight so we can spend some time in Atlantic City too, since Spouse & I have never been there.

I have always enjoyed her music and videos, dating back to the release of her epic album "Control" in 1986.  I remember playing it over and over again at peak volume in the cassette player of my Honda Accord.  (Yes, I'm old.)  I knew all the words to the album's hits like "What Have You Done For Me Lately?", "Control", "Nasty", "When I Think Of You", "Pleasure Principle" and "Let's Wait Awhile".

Then came "Rhythm Nation 1814" in 1989 with its hits "Rhythm Nation", "Alright", "Escapade", "Come Back To Me", "Miss You Much", and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)".  Yes, I also attempted to learn some of the legendary choreography but let's just say that I can sing a LOT better than I can dance.

Since Janet hasn't released an album recently, I'm really hoping she'll do many (if not all) of her hit songs.  Regardless, I'm sure the 4 of us will have a great time!  Look for a full report on Mon.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Ron & James visit

Our longtime friends Ron & James came for a visit this past weekend.  We met them 20 years ago when we were living in the DC area, and even after we moved here to the beach they've continued to come visit us at least 1 weekend every year.

They started their visit with a little tax-free outlet store shopping, and then we met up with them for lunch.  After lunch I went back to the office for a little while, but shortly thereafter joined them and Spouse back at the house.  We chatted, laughed, and caught up on many mutual friends.  We were slightly envious as we heard about Ron's life after having retired (early) last year, and James' new schedule of working about 50% in preparation to retire.  Before we knew it, it was time to have dinner.

We went to Fork + Flask and ordered cocktails at the bar while our table was being prepared.  I had my old favorite, a cosmo.
Me and Ron
Shortly thereafter we moved to our table and ordered some apps to share, followed by our dinners.
James and Spouse
Our food was really amazing, but we were a bit underwhelmed by the 'seasonal dessert'.  But we had a lovely time.

Ron & James wanted to see the Legends show at the Blue Moon (despite me not being in it this time) so we did.  They really enjoyed it, and afterward I took this photo of them with 'Etta James'.
Spouse, Etta James, Ron and James
Once back at home we talked again for a little while until bed.

The next morning we had breakfast at a local diner, and then they were on their way back to the DC area.  It was a short visit, but a good one none-the-less.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Seniority

Marvin & Walter, 2016
Marvin & Walter get along very well.  While Marvin is several years older, Walter is taller and longer.  For a while Walter tried to be dominant, since he's bigger.  But I felt like Marvin deserved to be dominant since he has seniority in the family.

So I began using routine tasks to gently coach Walter into a submissive role.  Every time I let them in and out of their crates, I let Marvin in/out 1st and Walter 2nd.  When I'm going to take them outside, I put Marvin's leash on 1st, then Walter's leash 2nd.  These simple, non-verbal routine tasks have really worked!  I noticed the other day that when both boys ran to the door when I said "Let's go outside" Walter actually stepped aside so I could put Marvin's leash on him, then stepped closer to me for his own leash.

Bedtime is another opportunity to train Walter.  He immediately burrows under the covers and settles in somewhere near the foot of the bed.  Marvin sits on top of the covers next to my torso while I pet him for a few minutes, then goes under the covers.  Marvin prefers to sleep in between my legs, near my knees/ankles, but occasionally Walter chooses that spot.  When Marvin would come to claim this place of seniority, Walter would growl before giving it up to his brother.  I would then pet Walter and tell him he's a good boy for giving Marvin his preferred spot due to his seniority.  But just last night when Marvin made his move from on top to underneath the covers, Walter willingly surrendered the spot of seniority with no growl.  He crawled up near my waist and I stroked him and whispered "Good boy".

If left unchecked, I think Walter would eventually steamroll Marvin in everything, both because of Walter's larger size and Marvin's naturally laid-back personality.  I'm really glad Walter has responded to the training and is polite to his older brother and respectful of his seniority.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Weather

The weather this time of year can be quite changeable.  While the calendar says its fall, the actual weather feels like summer.  This is commonly referred to as Indian Summer.  Its almost Nov but the temps have been close to 80 degrees recently, with just a few 60 degree days mixed in, just to keep you on your toes.

People don't know how to dress when its like this.  You'd think they'd look at the weather on their phones and dress accordingly.  Just today I cracked up when I saw someone on the street wearing a quilted parka, hat and  gloves and someone else right behind them in shorts and flip flops!

But you won't hear me complaining.  I love summer weather, regardless of what the calendar says. I will do my best to wring the last drops of summer out before switching over to long pants and sleeves.  I don't think twice about putting the convertible top down on a warm winter day if the sun is shining.

I should live in southern CA where convertible drivers rarely put their roofs up.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Costume

Tomorrow is the big Halloween costume party at the Blue Moon.  They REALLY go all out for Halloween there so its absolutely the best place to be for Halloween. 

Last year was really fun because I had my costume idea months in advance and had all the elements assembled and tried on several days in advance.  I was Little Edie Beale from Grey Gardens.

This year I just can't seem to come up with a good costume idea.  I tried to think of some timely political concept that didn't involve Trump, but came up empty.  And I can't repeat one of my costumes from a previous Halloween, as that would be lame.  So, unless I'm struck by some great costume concept between now and tomorrow night, I'll probably just stay home.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wedding recap

We left Alexandria VA at 10:00 and arrived in Fayetteville NC at 5:00.  We stopped for an hour for lunch, and a temporary highway closure due to an accident added some extra time.  We checked into our hotel, freshened up, and went to the rehearsal dinner.

When we arrived nieces Lauren and Leslie (the bride) greeted us, as did my sister.  Just as a reminder, my sister and her husband are active Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) and their religion's policy is not to associate with disfellowshipped people, including relatives.  Both my nieces chose not to get baptized into the JW faith, so since they were never 'official' JWs their parents do not treat them like a disfellowshipped person.  The concept is you can't be disfellowshipped from something you didn't commit to.  I'm sure that if my sister and brother-in-law had it their way, I would not have been invited.  But my niece Leslie invited us and we were happy to be included.  Leslie is 27 years old.  The last time I saw her was 24 years ago.  It was great to see my 2 nieces and meet their guys.

So my sister gave me a hug, and once we were seated I ended up diagonally across from her, so we participated in most of the same conversations over dinner.  After dinner, some of the folks went to a bowling alley.  I'd been instant messaging with my cousin's son Andy who had just flown in an we decided to meet at the bowing alley.  Andy is 30 years old.  The last time I saw him was 24 years ago.  Andy's parents were both JWs when he was a boy, but his mom (my cousin) decided to leave the religion when he was a teenager so he and his brother were never baptized either.  It was really nice to catch up with Andy, hear about his wife and 8 month old baby, and some of the other relatives I haven't seen or heard about in a long time.

The next day Mary, Spouse & I had breakfast at the hotel, then drove into downtown Fayetteville for the Dogwood Festival, which we had heard started at 11:00.  The website showed no times for the events nor a specific location, which we thought was odd.  Once we parked and stopped into a couple shops we asked about the festival and were told its location.  When we arrived there we saw a banner indicating it started at 3:00!  We ducked into a couple other little shops on our way back to the car, then picked up Andy and the 4 of us went to lunch, then back to the hotel to get ready.

The wedding ceremony was short but sweet and was immediately followed by the reception.  The venue was great!  I really liked the rustic, industrial bones of the building, softened by fabric table clothes, flowers, candles, and photos in vintage frames.

The food was scrumptious, there was an open bar, and a DJ played music for dancing.  Andy was seated at the table with Mary, Spouse & me, as were my niece Lauren and her boyfriend Jimmy.  We had a lovely time.
Leslie & Brandon
Me with Leslie & Brandon
Jimmy & Lauren
Spouse & me with Andy
Lauren photobombing Mary, Spouse & me
Sun morning we had breakfast in the hotel again, checked out and headed north at 10:00.  Unfortunately we got caught in another traffic jam, so with that delay and the stop for lunch and gas, we got to aunt Mary's just before 5:00.  After letting her out we immediately headed home, arriving at 7:30.  It was a lot of time in the car, but well worth it.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Road trip

Today Spouse & I picked up my aunt Mary and we're driving to Fayetteville NC for my niece's wedding.  The idea of a road trip always reminds me of this:



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Crazy week

Not really me  ;-)
This is a crazy week!

On Mon I had 2 walk-thrus followed by 2 settlements.  I had another walk-thru and settlement scheduled for Tues but it had to be delayed to today, due to an issue with the seller.

I'm normally off on Thurs but I'm working this Thurs because I have a home inspection in the morning and a showing in the afternoon.  

Spouse & I are leaving Thurs evening and will stay overnight at his sister's house in VA.  Then Fri morning we're picking up my aunt Mary and driving to Fayetteville NC for my niece's wedding.  More on that next week.

So this is definitely an unusual week.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friay the 13th

Today is Fri the 13th!

Joe loves watching "scary movies" like this, but I find them dumb.  I mean, if you're alone in a house and hear sounds, don't walk around the house in the dark, turn on the damn lights!!

Today is also our nephew Eric's 20th birthday.  He's a sophomore in college.  He also dabbles in stand-up comedy and is teaching himself to play the guitar.  We're very proud of him.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day.

I remember years ago when I was so excited about NCOD because I knew how important it was for GLBT people to be visible.  Each year I made it a goal to come out to at least 1 person.

But in my case, I really only had 1 conversation where I directly came out by saying "I'm gay" and that was with my family.  All the other times I simply worked it into conversations so that I indirectly came out and the person to whom I was speaking wasn't put on the spot.

What I mean is, when you make the proclamation "I'm gay" you kind of make a big deal out of it and the person then must have some reaction or response.  This can make them uncomfortable, not because you're gay, but because they've suddenly been put on the spot.

I prefer an indirect coming out which doesn't require an immediate reaction or response.  For instance, I'd say "Last night my partner and I tried that new Thai restaurant..." or "This weekend my partner and I are going to NYC for his birthday.  I love NYC - have you ever been there?"  To me this is the least confrontational way to come out because you get your point across and the person to whom you're speaking can choose to acknowledge it or not.

Although some people may be a little slow on the uptake.  Years ago I introduced Spouse as 'my partner' at a work holiday party and the person to whom I introduced him said "Oh, what kind of business is it?"  I replied "He's my domestic partner."

I was surprised to see this article on Facebook, written by an out gay professor, suggesting we abolish NCODI totally disagree with his 'logic' that the act of coming out further perpetuates that being gay isn't normal, and that straight people don't come out because being straight is normal.  I would say that straight people don't come out because they're the majority and never worry about being discriminated against for being straight.  GLBT folks are the minority (although at least 10% of the population) and are constantly concerned about hard-won rights being stripped away, and being discriminated against in employment and housing where that's still legal.

A friend posted this from his employer's website and I found it worth sharing:
Today is the 29th celebration of National Coming Out Day. We celebrate the bravery of those who have the courage to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. Why do we need to honor coming out? Many people are unaware of how frightening it can still be for people to “come out”.
Did you know?
• 1 out of 4 LGBTQ youth say the community in which they live is not accepting
• Being LGBTQ is illegal in 72 countries
• According to the FBI, LGBTQ are the most likely targets of hate crimes in America
• Over 100 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in 2017
• 41% of the transgender community attempt suicide versus the 4.6% national average
• Many who identify as LGBTQ are ostracized from their family, schools or employers
• Only 20 states have LGBTQ employment protection laws
Coming Out is incredibly personal and brave and living openly isn’t something that is done once, or even for one year. It’s a daily journey of living authentically and having open dialogue.

I encourage everyone to live authentically, come out whenever and where ever you can, and be a vocal advocate by contacting your representatives when anti-GLBT bills are up for discussion/vote.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Meeting Armistead

Wed I left DE early enough to miss most of the DC rush hour traffic.  I decided to stop at the Trader Joe's for some goodies.  That place was like pumpkin overload!!  I've never seen so many products made from or flavored with pumpkin.  But since I love 'seasonal' merchandise I picked up a box of pumpkin Joe-Joes, some pumpkin biscotti, and some pumpkin spice coffee, as well as several other non-pumpkin goodies.

Then I drove through the old neighborhood where Spouse & I 1st lived together.  The house is still there, but is cuter now that they painted the siding a soft lilac and the shutters and front door a medium lilac.  Its not everyone's taste but I thought it was adorable.  Great memories.

Then I met up with our friend Roger (of Bugsy & Roger) for an early dinner at Taco House!  The owners changed the name to Cantina Mexicana years ago but it will always be Taco House to us.  The weather was sheer perfection so I chose a patio in the shade on the patio.  We had a delicious dinner then walked to the metro.

We arrived at the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian a bit early so we sat outside and enjoy the stellar weather and the beautiful facade of the building, meant to look like a pueblo.  
 Eventually we went inside and took our seats, eagerly awaiting the lecture.

Armistead Maupin was introduced and then received a standing ovation before uttering a word.  He began by stating that this book is a memoir, but that as readers learned about the people close to him throughout his life, they'd likely see characteristics of many of the "Tales of the City" characters.  He did a short reading (probably 5-6 minutes), then spoke a bit more.  Several of his extended family were there so he introduced his 2nd reading by saying to them that they will enjoy hearing his words of appreciation about his grandmother.  The 2nd reading was probably 20 minutes in length, and then he opened up the lecture for questions from the audience.

I can't accurately describe what it was like, except to say that his calm and gentle demeanor were exactly what I expected, and that I felt so connected to him that it was as if I was listening to an old friend I hadn't seen in a while but knew well.  It was kind of magical.

He thanked everyone for coming and received a 2nd standing ovation.

We filed out of the auditorium and were directed over to where Armistead was sitting at a table for the book signing.  Roger & I waited in line for 45 minutes but it was totally worth it.  They didn't take our books from us to be signed and then wisk us away quickly.  Oh no... each person was allowed to talk with Armistead while he signed their book. Maybe because we'd paid $30 for the lecture and book signing?
I said "At the risk of sounding like a 13 year old girl, I have to tell you that I'm a huge fan.  Honestly I don't read a lot but I've read every one of your books and just love them.  Hearing you speak and meeting you now is a bucket list item for me."  He was very gracious and thanked me for my kind words.  

Then as we shook hands I said "Oh, and please don't stop writing!!"

While I absolutely love all my Armistead Maupin novels, this memoir is extra special to me because he signed it and because of the extraordinary experience of meeting him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

New book

Look what arrived yesterday!
I pre-ordered it months ago on Amazon, and received notification that it would arrive on Tues, the official release date of the book.

In case you're new here, Armistead Maupin is my favorite author.  I love all of his "Tales of the City" novels, and also his novels not in the "Tales" series. My blog's title is a tribute to his fabulous body of work.

This new book is a memoir, so I'm looking forward to finding out more about his childhood experiences and life influences.  Maybe we'll learn about some of the inspirations for the characters in his novels.

And what could possibly be better than a new Armistead Maupin book?  

Getting my new book SIGNED in person tomorrow evening!  That's right - I'm going to a lecture and book signing tomorrow evening in DC and expect to have my book signed by Armistead.

I.  

Can't.  

Wait!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Rescue me

A colleague of mine runs a kitten rescue, part-time.  She finds temporary foster homes for abandoned or surrendered kittens, gets them healthy and up-to-date on shots, and find forever homes for them.  Its a noble thing to do.

Once a year her rescue holds a fundraiser at a local restaurant, and since Spouse and Steven & Thad and I had been talking about trying to do some new/different things, I talked them into going to the fundraiser last evening.  

They were skeptical, imagining a bunch of 'crazy cat ladies' there wearing sweatshirts with kittens hanging from a tree branch saying "Hang in there!"  But I told them there was a buffet for just $15 and a silent auction, and that we needn't stay any longer than we wanted.  They reluctantly agreed to go.

Of course, it wasn't just 'crazy cat ladies', there was quite a mix of people/ages.  The food was actually good and we ran into a few people we knew, although we all agreed NOT to 'check in' on Facebook at the kitten rescue fundraiser.

However, 99% of the silent auction items were kitten/cat themed so none of us felt obligated to buy tickets... until I saw a $50 gift card for a nice restaurant we like.  So, to help out the poor little kitties I bought $5 worth of silent auction tickets and put them all in the box for the gift card.

Thad didn't want to wait around for the auction results but I lucked out and they started the auction with the $50 gift card.  They called out the winning ticket number but no one claimed the prize.  They must have already left.  So they pulled a 2nd ticket, called out the number, and it was mine!!

All the way home I got to tease them about not wanting to come to the 'crazy cat ladies' fundraiser and now we have a $50 gift card to use.  It was a fun evening.