Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Fun Holiday List

Jennie, fellow list lover over at Trim and Fashionable put me onto this. Chime in with your own answers or copy the questions and answer them on your blog.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?

Egg nog if it is the stuff made with whipped egg whites, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and rum. It’s like eating a tasty cloud.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Wrapped them with the same paper my mom and dad used. Mom evidently didn’t think much of our deductive reasoning abilities.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Both, mixed together. I also use the big colored lights mixed with the small ones and I like a random twinkle here and there. Outside I don’t outline corners of the house or anything. Just a lighted evergreen garland over the doorway.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

No, but I love hearing stories about people taking their shotguns into the woods to shoot it out of trees. It's so cavemanish. A violent start for such a romantic tradition.

5. When do you put your decorations up?

In fits and starts beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving. I’ll keep putz and rearrange stuff until after Christmas. I even put out all of the ½ off after Christmas bargain decorations I buy, even if it is just for a day or two.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?

My mom’s cornbread dressing.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

My sister and I and our cousins Kara and Howard all got matching sleds one Christmas Eve at our Mamaw and Grandad’s. We were ready for bed when we opened them, but since it was one of the few Christmas Eves that it snowed when we were kids our parents let us take a quick nightime spin down the bank by the driveway in our pajamas. I hope when I get to be a parent I have the good sense my parents did not to ruin the moment.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

My sister took me up to the attic before Christmas where our presents were hidden so we could play with our Santa gifts. Any dissappointment was offset by the knowledge that my net fun was increased by opening my presents early.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

We open one on Christmas Eve. Sometimes John gets so excited about the things he gets me that he wants me to open more so I do. I'm just selfless that way.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

Anything not nailed down is fair game. My mom and Mamaw hid some of our presents in the tree. If my mamaw thought something looked Christmasy she would just go ahead and put it on there. One year she whipped up some suds from ivory soap flakes and she and I put those on her tree. We thought it looked like snow. I loved how random everything was. I’m definately a more is more tree decorator-mostly German blown glass ornmanents, but also love ones people give me. About 800 lights (I put the shiny silver balls on the inner branches so they reflect light out for more sparkle). No garland but a few years back I found three packages of the old-fashinoned heavy (I think they are actually made of lead, which is probably why they stopped selling them) shiny tinsel icicles. I put them all on. I love vintage and tons of it, but I aslo always admired Judy Nall’s restrained tree with its limited number of matching (cross-stiched) ornaments and white lights (only).

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?

Even now that I live in the cold midwest I still LOVE snow.

12. Can you ice skate?


13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

A red wool, short-waisted jacket my mom got me when I was in high school. She had seen me eyeing it in the store. The fit was perfect, and there hasn't been much in my wardrobe before or since about which I can say that.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?

Being with family.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Fruitcake. Not really. I love a coconut cake at Christmas time. I actually do like some fruitcake now.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Watching White Christmas with John and a little bourbon on the rocks. We sing along to all the songs. Sometimes we dance along, too. Then, John’s mom’s Cookie Bake and our church’s Christmas Eve service.

17. What tops your tree?

A faded vintage silver star tree topper that Miss Pat (McClain) mailed to me when I was in college. She was with me when I’d admired it at an antique shop but didn’t have the money to spend on it. It showed up in my mailbox just in time for Christmas.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

Buying (kidding, sort of). I’m honestly very happy doing either, but I’m never that confident in my gift giving abilities.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?

Last Month of the Year, sung by the Blind Boys of Alabama.

20. Candy canes! Yuck or yum?

Yum. Especially big Bob-o-Canes and the ones First National Bank used to give out to customers to hang on their trees back in 1970s.

Quote of the Day

Gerry Cardinale, a NJ senator is trying to keep the state from meeting its court ordered mandate (tee hee) to offer gay couples the full rights and protections of marriage. He is proposing a solution far from equal prompting Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality to utter our quote of the day:

"...today's proposal has as much chance of passing as Gerry Cardinale's marrying Dick Cheney in the ballroom of the Baghdad Hilton."

From Blue Jersey

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Smokin' Camera

Not knowing how long I could keep the "good" act up, I talked Santa into dropping off one of my presents early--a new camera. It's a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07, and I like it a lot. It is a lot more powerful than our last camera so I'm still learning my way around it. We actually only got a few memorable shots from Thanksgiving Weekend, which is too bad because my friend Rosie visited all week from Philadelphia and we had many photo-worthy moments.

I like this one where I am teaching Claire to smoke. The cigarette is fake--a .75 piece of fun from Turandot in Broad Ripple. Dave and I bought them to shock our friends. Even though I'm horrible at fake smoking (Dave acts like he's been smoking since he was 2), the cigarette looks so real it freaks people out.

As with many things she learns that don't require listening to us, Claire was a quick study when it came to smoking.

She's really getting the hang of it here. I hope Turandot sells the fake Patch.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chris's Vagina Monologue

If you haven't popped over to Chris in Tajikistan you should. This is from his recent entry about his visit to an Uzbek village:

Some of us have this bad habit of saying.. uhm.. It’s fun in school because when you get bored you can count how many times the teachers says.. uhm.. or your friends say uhm in a presentation. Well, it’s not a habit that translates well into Uzbek because the word for vagina in Uzbek is pronounced “ahm” or “uhm.” I bet you can only imagine the trouble I get into when I’m trying to speak. So sometimes I say things like “ Today I… uhm… went to…. uhm… the store. ” which in Uzbek translates into “ Today I… vagina… went to…. vagina… the store..."

Way to represent, Chris. Lately I've been giving people rap names. I think I'm gonna start calling Chris "Uhm Daddy." Chris comes back to Indy in December. Send him a little love to let him know we're looking forward to seeing him and that we won't hold his potty mouth against him.

(Chris and friends right before he clears the room.)

Moving Up to Gloryland

A Pennsylvania school board vice-president calls gay students "faggots" and a student organization designed to help gay and straight students get a long better a "sex club." From the Beaver County Times via Pams Houseblend.

Scherfel, 65, said he has nothing against anyone's sexual orientation, but that he grew up in a different generation when certain terms were acceptable in referring to gays and other groups. [Yeah, it's just generational--while we're at it, let's just give people sixty years old and above a pass when they use terms like Darkies, Blackie, etc.]

When reached at his home earlier Wednesday, Scherfel chuckled at the thought that someone would consider him a "gay basher,...I have homosexual friends believe it or not...," he said. [Really? Or do you just think they're you're friends? You might want to do a little check in. Or is this just one of the "some of my best friends are..." kind of statements?]

In better news, South Africa is poised to offer marriage rights to its gay citizens. Who knew that a country with such a horrible civil rights past would surpass the U.S. in this area in less than 20 years? Oh, and Mexico City also is trying to offer domestic partnership rights. I'm so proud of these countries, but I miss the days when the U.S. led the way in expanding freedom.

Funny thing, on the Underground Railroad tour during our recent visit with Julie and Tommy, we were all put in the role of slaves escaping to freedom in Canada. We spent a lot of time hiding in the bushes listening to actors talk about their perceptions of slaves. Two sentiments we heard over and over were "they want to undo God's natural order" and "they get treated pretty well. They should be happy with what they have." John and I did a lot of eye-rolling, since this is what we hear today.

There is no such thing as partial liberty. Unlike enslaved people in our past, our lives are not currently at risk, though KBG (killed for being gay) happens across the globe even today. Still,our civil rights violations are more like those from the 1960s than the 1860s.

I read somewhere recently that it was the African-American struggle in America that has best defined and refined our country's understanding of freedom. I believe that. It seems strange to me that almost 150 years after slaves traveled to freedom in Canada, John and I are considering the same option.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yelling Still Doesn't Work

John and I got up at the crack last Saturday morning to head to Cleveland for Tommy's birthday weekend. We hoped to get on the road at 5:00 a.m., but we didn't finish packing the car until 5:30. We loaded Claire in last and she immediatlely wormed her way into the front passenger seat. She knows better and normally will just move to the back when we say something. But this time she flattened and glued herself to the upholstery. After failed attempts to move her by command, I finally started tugging on her leash from the open door of the back seat, which was a lot like trying to pull a boulder out of the frozen earth with a pair of tweezers. Turning up the volume to a yell, I shouted "Get in the back! Back! Back!" which merely filled the air with quick puffs of steam--steam and confused sighs from Claire, who seemed to be utterly befuddled by my inabilty to grasp the fact that she'd gotten to the seat first and therefore had rights of first refusal on other places in the car, which she was presently exercising.

Not having had enough coffee or sleep to better my judgement I slipped with mindless ease into roar mode. Before I knew it, I could hear the word "Claaaaairrrrre!!!" in deep thudding tones like dynamite blasts bouncing between the houses up and down our street. It seemed awfully early for that kind of racket. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was the source. John who was calmly watching all of this, opened up the passenger side door, pushed Claire from that direction and got her moving. I gave her a swat on the behind as she passed me. A few muttered cursewords later and we were on the road. I was embarrassed by my behavior before I even started the car, "Man, I feel like an ass." John just looked silently at me with his patented non-judgmental judgement stare, which by the way keeps me in a constant state of awe. I could work for years and never come close to mastering this look the way he has. He should teach courses on it.

I calmed down as we drove and apologized to Claire who licked my hand in forgiveness heaping coals of fire upon my head. Deep in her gracious eyes I could still see a glint of irritation, a remnant leftover from being unjustly booted to the back seat. As good natured as she is, I know she will pull this out to use later.

By the time we got to the Mt. Comfort Rd. exit around 6:00 a.m. we were ready for a stop at McDonalds for breakfast. The lights were on when we went through the drive through, but the joint was closed. We could see staff inside lazily milling about, which just increased our peevedness. John suggested I yell at the restaurant the way I had at Claire. So as we drove by the door I screamed out the window, "McDonaaaaalds!!! Open! Open!!! Nooooowww!!! Oooooppppennnn!!!!!" The people inside were frozen in horror and confusion. Turns out my yelling had the same effect on McDonalds that it did on Claire, but I felt infinitely more satisfied with the results at McDonalds.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Taboo Birthday Weekend

John and I are off to visit Julie (Gunstream Girl) and Taboo in Cleveland this weekend. It’s Taboo’s birthday! Jennie (Trim and Fashionable) and J. will be there, too, so we are doubly excited. Julie said that she and Jennie are making a mad scientist cake for Tommy (he’s a science teacher). I hate that I won’t have a camera to take with me.

This will be the first time John and I have met Bob Barker, Julie and Taboo’s dog. Julie even invited us to bring Claire. It will be our first road trip with her. I’m not really nervous about it. She loves to ride in the car. She would drive if we let her. Claire definitely holds to the “move your meat, lose your seat” philosophy and hops into the driver’s seat as soon as it is vacant. I’d love to believe this is just because she wants to be as close to us and our scent as possible, but I’m pretty sure it is because she thinks she could handle the car better (in my case, that is probably true).

I’m very excited to see what Julie has done to their house. Last time I was there she told me about her wall painting plans and they sounded very exciting. I would describe Julie’s style as “world funk,” which is appropriate given that she works for Heifer, International.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Arizona First State to Vote Down Gay Marriage Ban

And it's a red state! Good for the Southwest.

Predictable bigotry prevailed in Tennessee, Virginia, Idaho, and some other places where we wouldn't care to live anyway.

Dissappointments are in Wisconsin, who should have known better, and Haggard Land, Colorado. Colorado voted for a ban on gay marriage and against a proposition that would give families like ours at least some protection. So you can strike that state right off our list of places we'll move. Besides, John's brother Ben and his wife Lise are moving back to Indiana.

Here is Pam's play by play.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Santorum Bites It

Watching Rick "gay marriage=man-on-dog relations" Santorum give his concession speech is an even more satisfying moment than I expected it to be.

"We stood up for families." Does he even realize how offensive that statement is to families whom he sought to disadvantage?


Today may be discussed as just one more day in a blue or red America, but I don't see it that way. Election Day is when we are ALL allowed to be our most patriotic selves. Privately expressing our agreements and differences in a voting booth is an oddly unifying experience.

So grab your umbrella and go vote. If you live in Indiana, take your driver's license or some other photo ID. If you don't know where to vote, , The Star has a voters' guide.

Now a message from the paranoid person in me--watch for any voting impropriety. There are a lot folks with a lot too lose in the U. S. today. If your voting machine (especially if you have to use a touch screen) does not work properly, stick around and raise holy hell until you are satisfied that your vote is accurately recorded.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Worn and Haggard

Who knew when I blogged about Ted Haggard and Jesus Camp a few weeks back that we'd be seeing him plastered all over newspapers for meth and gay prostitution allegations, at least some of which are turning out to be true. His quick resignation makes me wonder if others won't be proven in coming days.

I've said this before: though I think it can be unhealthy in the long-run, I don't have a personal issue with gay guys trying to live in straight marriages. Every couple needs to decide for themselves what is most important to them and what they can live with. Those decisions are none of my business. Honesty is important, however. And if I were Haggard's wife, who just found out that her husband has been hanging around with and scoring meth from a gay male prostitute (meth tends to blur judgement about safe sex) I'd be scared to death.

We see this same story over and over. It's almost a cliche at this point. Anti-gay pastor stumps to disadvantage gay families, and then gets caught in his own scandal. Haggard has been pushing mightily to oppose the Colorado amendment that would give couples like John and me some protection for their relationships, though not marriage rights.

As much as I try to puzzle through this, I still don't get it. Do the Haggard's of the world fight so hard against us because they think all gay folks are making the same dumb-ass, compulsive decisions they are, and therefore must be stopped? Do people like him and closeted conservatives like Foley think if they fight hard enough against equality for gay families no one will possibly suspect they are gay? I wish I knew.

Haggard is the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals. The pastor of a 14,000 member congregation in Colorado Springs, just down the road from his friend James Dobson and Focus on the Family, which is a huge Exodus ex-gay ministry supporter. Surely if Haggard believed in what Exodus was selling, he could have taken advantage of it. He had enough money to afford a gated home. He had (I supppose still has) every resource in his "community" available to him. And yet this is where this chapter in his life has ended. It's downright Biblical. Someday I hope there is a way for these folks to get to a better place that doesn't involve hurting so many people.

By the way, Haggard is from Delphi, Indiana, hometown of our friend Christine Perkins, who is married to Sneer's Jason. Aren't you all proud?

Halloween Redux

Does it bother anyone besides me that as a design event, Halloween has no shelf life? I mean once it's over, it's over. No waiting until the next holiday before striking the set like you can during the days between Christmas and New Years (or between Christmas and St. Patrick's Day in my case). November 1st comes and suddenly all of those pumpkins with faces that were so cute only yesterday now seem like awkward guests who know they should leave the party but just can't seem to find the door.

Karen brought a pumpkin to work a couple of weeks ago, a decorative refugee that Marc had given her, leftover from a luncheon at church. At eight inches in diameter it has what I believe to be the golden circumference of sit-around vegetables. We looked it over. It was covered with hot-glued artificial fall-colored poppies and raspberries, neither of which can be found in nature this time of year. And it was topped with a tuft of dried pine needles that stuck straight up.

We ditched the foliage with the exception of the needles. This left the pumpkin looking like the mohawked head of a pre-adolescent boy. So we named him Justin and set him up on a nearby file cabinet that everyone passes. Eventually we made him paper eyes and a smile with Chicklets for teeth. I put a bag next to him along with a sign that read "Please, Feed Me." Justin was popular, especially with the ladies, and he acquired quite a bit of candy in a short amount of time, which he kindly (as kindly as can be expected of a 'tweener-aged pumpkin anyway) shared with Karen and me.

But then Halloween ended, and the next day Justin had that awkward "What am I doing here?" look. We stripped him of his human features. Now he is in a chrysalis state. At first we thought we'd turn him into a pumpkin turkey, a Thanksgiving Phoenix, with cut paper tail feathers, a few pheasant ones, too, and a beak. Then, inspired by the recent weigh-in on ham's popularity here at Growing Sense, we decided to make him into a pumpkin pig. Karen is off today looking for a pink marshmallow nose.

In the meantime, Justin's just sitting faceless on the cabinet, well almost faceless, he is sporting some big green googley eyes I had leftover from Halloween. They are supposedly candy, but they smell funny so I won't eat them. Candy typically has a very long shelf life, and it should never smell funny.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New to Me Blogs

If you look to the right of your screen you'll see the blogs that I frequent. And towards the bottom of the list are three blogs that I've started reading regularly.

Meandering Mango belongs to my friend Karen, with whom I work, and in fact, without whom I would not be working, at least not on such a regular basis. Karen and I literally stare at each other all day. Her cube faces mine. It is so fun to work that close to a good friend. Karen is another Broadway person. She's hilarious, creative and tells a great story, so I was thrilled when she started her own blog.

No Exit belongs to my friend Jennie's friend David, whom I've never met. At least I don't think I've met him, unless he was at her last Lincoln Party. Anyway, for some reason I started popping over to his neck of the online woods and kept going back. Someone who lets whatever is rattling around inside pop out, he also is not afraid to let his values show. David also has the distinction of being the closest I've come to meeting someone who got an essay for the NPR radio series This I Believe.

Adam in Chiner is actually just the link name for my Batesville friend Adam's blog: Digressions from the Middle Kingdom (too long a name for my blog roll, which I prefer to keep neat). "Chiner" is the way Adam's mom, Mary, pronounces China, which is where Adam lives and works. Mary is from Virginia and we've been making fun of the way she says things for years, so I don't think she would be any more offended than usual that I used her pronunciation in my link. I think Adam was born around a campfire because he treasures a good story more than just about anybody I know. And since China may not keep its great firewall open all that long, you should take advantage of checking into Adam's blog while you can.

Shower Dog

This morning as I was shaving, Claire curled up on the towel in front of the shower to watch me. Then when I was getting out of the shower, I accidently hit her with the door because she was lying there again. This is new behavior. She used to just lay outside the bathroom door and watch me get ready. I'm sort of surprised she goes anywhere near the shower of her own free will since that is where John gives Claire her baths--actually her showers, after which she goes bonkers and bounces around the house like Woody Woodpecker for thirty minutes. Maybe now that it's getting colder in the mornings, the bathroom is a little warmer place to be.