About me

Friday, September 30, 2011

Spider lilies

I freakin' love these things. We had one in the yard growing up. Mama bought it on a lark. The leaves popped out in the spring, they grew, they died, and we forgot about it until later, much later, in the early fall, one day, we'd wake up, and there would be the gossamer red bloom, springing unannounced, unheralded from the dying, if not already dead, grass that we'd probably mow anyway.

So here I am in Charleston, the one in South Carolina, and let me tell SC now that it would do well to better emulate Charleston. I got lucky. How often do we go somewhere one might really choose to be, and then also have a spare couple of hours in which to rent a bike and see something worth seeing? Those times are few and far between, let me tell you.

And what do I do but wade through ancient graveyards. Yes, I'm weird that way, but you knew that already, and what do I espy with my little eye this day? A cemetery of tight graves and tiger lilies.

Here is the first to catch my eye. I thought it might be an anomaly, something planted by a grieving soul over a century ago, here now to brighten my unexpected day, which it did sans initial intent.
 And then another.
And another.
People spoke differently of the dead back then. Perhaps it was the constant walk with death and the on-going reminders of mortality. I suspect burying a lot of children brings a certain perspective most of us should be glad to no know. Yet, where now might you find a stone with much more than a name, a pair of dates, and maybe a poignant line or two? We don't think like this anymore, and we certainly don't speak this way anymore, which is likely a good thing owing to the underlying reasons, but in this change, I think we give up so much clarity, respect, thoughtfulness. OK, humanity.

What have we become in this pursuit of progress?

And then, with the turn of a single step, a line of simple beauty fading in the light of early fall.

I need to live here.

Another day. Another time.

In another day and in another time, I had a plan, and the plan had aggressive financial underpinning. Think 30 feet and a sea breeze.
But not this one, which would need a crew, and for as much as I would enjoy a crew of inadequately attired boat boys, and for as overly aggressive as the financial underpinning was for a man making quite less than $30k a year, this example would be too large. There's a smaller example not pictured because it's less photogenic even at 4x optical zoom, and besides, we're portraying a lost dream here, and lost dreams can be exaggerated some.

Besides, I'm making it sound like I rue the loss, and that's not true at all. It's substantially unhealthy to look back like that, look back with a rueful eye, which is something I avoid. I don't even look back all that much, and besides, always in motion is the future. Who know? The Lillian Rose might still sail one day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Molded cheese for dinner

I stepped out for dinner as I'm about to be eating hotel food for a fortnight, and while we don't stay in dives, there is often a certain monotony that comes with food in the hotels.  I went over to the Boylan Bridge Brewpub where that still carry a summer ale that I've grown quite fond of, and I had a pint of that with a fruit and cheese tray.  Am I, or am I not, just the upscale bitter old queen?

One of the cheeses had blue-green flecks.  Upscale mold.
It was quite tasty, but I found myself thinking how I often toss out cheese at home that develops mold.  I'm probably wasting perfectly good moldy food.

Upon my return, I checked the fridge.  First, the shredded Mexican cheese.  This is four cheeses shredded and mixed.  I doubt you could find it in Mexico despite the name, and yes, it has blue-green mold.  I could be in the money.
The blue spot will become a blue ball in time, and usually, I just toss it out.  From now on, I'm selling it the the Brewpub for fancy appetizers.

Then I checked the cheddar.  It's just plain Food Lion cheddar that I keep in a plastic container after I open the package.  It's not as greasy as the rat cheese Mama fed us, but it serves it's purpose.
I believe I have found my retirement plan.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A moment at Pride

Yesterday, we had the state's Pride festival over in Durham on the Duke campus.  You can see 12 minutes of ribaldry here.

As you might have noticed, we had rain at the end of the parade, and while that did soak just about everyone, the joy of being steeped in acceptance was not dampened. This day, we were not just fair weather friends.

However, I do have an expensive hairdo to consider, and for that reason, we stepped under an ancient oak on the Duke lawn.  Yet another reason to love a campus.  As the rain progressed, the drops started to win, even under the tree, and I covered the top of my camera bag lest something get a touch too wet.

With that, a fellow at a small tent near us pulled out an additional tarp, and he began to set it up.  Bro and I have a demonstrated skill with not being able to do much more than pinch fingers in these activities, and we stood getting wetter while the female member of our troop stepped over to help.  In time, we were all under the tarp, thanking the gentleman for being there.

He was a world-weary man, a man with too much history written on his face, a history that spoke of pain followed by matter-of-fact forbearance, a man and a life worthy of a Faulkner short story or two.  His was not the visage I often expect at a Pride parade.  In a few moments, as a lull in the casual greetings and follow-up conversation appeared, he spoke, first haltingly, then with familiar vigor.

His son, his Sean, had been murdered in a hate crime.

He spoke at length as the rain continued.  His accent was natural, fluent, soft as a man speaking his peace calmly with the practiced control of underlying emotion that concurrently lent him strength and threatened to overwhelm.  With the rain on the tarp and the rise and fall of the surrounding celebration, he was sometimes difficult to hear and understand.  He repeated himself without impatience, and I suspect he's learned to do that often.  Practiced, he is, in getting out his message.

You can find it here.

I suspect the intentional death of a neighbor's farm animal received more attention from the South Carolina authorities than did the murder of his son, an act intended not just to kill one more gay man but also to strike fear in the rest of the gay population.  In more civilized places, such a crime is seen as a hate crime, and the pursuit of justice progresses with greater vigor, but few of us live in civilized places, and even my North Carolina of late has become far less civilized, leaving all of us are at risk to meet a similar violent end.

Please send this man some money so that he may continue his good work.  We will never know the specific good that one extra dollar will bring or which life it might save, but we all will welcome the nudge, the gentle turn, that dollar will make in this tiresome world, a world in serious need of pause, thoughtful consideration, and illumination.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Castor beans

If you're looking to stockpile ricin, here's what you put in your garden, your very large garden.

I used to requisition small patches on the farm, often by the garden, in which I'd grow flowers.  Zinnias and cockscomb were my favorite, and they still are, or would be if I had a garden, but often, off to the side of the side, or at the end of a tobacco row, I'd have a few castor bean plants.

The one in this picture grows by the fence at the local arb.  It's rather petite, mainly because it's eeking out an existence under very difficult circumstances.  Till the soil.  Add some fertilizer.  Water on occasion.  It'll grow 15 or more feet high.  Those leaves will be two feet wide, if not wider.

While the children were small and prone to eat whatever they found, I kept the castor beans out of sight.  Later with the doods older, I put a few in the garden.  We used it as a teaching tool.  They examined the seeds.  They knew that a single one would kill them.  They marveled that the bugs could eat the bean and survive.

One grew at the edge of the drive next to the neighbor's yard.  The local world marveled at it's lush tropical foliage.  Then came the October Blow, as Cousin Lulu called the hurricanes.  The castor bean fell directly into the neighbor's yard, and yes, being ever the typical suburban dweller, she was on my porch telling me as the sun rose that morning.

I hate suburbs. (I moved the castor bean a few days later.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We face no greater risk

After we come out, it's all down hill, and this is the big reason that I encourage the peeps to "never piss off the queer staff."

Watch this video.


A soldier. Trained for battle.  Trained to help bad guys to meet their makers as necessary.  He might have never been so scared in all his life as he was on this one call.  Do you suppose he now has a new bar for what defines a stressful moment? I guarantee you he does.

After coming out to my own pre-teen children, I can assure you there's no risk left to take.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Then it would be an assignment

Diana and I have a new post up over at the moon thing.

More than once as I've described this project to other people, they've expressed surprise that Diana and I do not compare notes before the moon.  The question is always a variation on: How do you know you'll each do something that fits with the other?

I usually reply that we live in the same world.  We watch the same news.  We have a large circle of shared friends.  Well, OK, her friends and my colleagues.  They're paid to put up with me.  The thing is that we do not live in a vacuum, and neither of us lives on a fringe of reality, though I do often yearn for that.

The more important thing, and I believe this is true for us both, is that if we compare notes, if we decide what it's about ahead of time, then we don't have the creative expression we want, we need, but instead, we have an assignment.  Neither of us needs another assignment.

Call it unbridled.  Undisciplined.  A waste of good planning.  I call it a delight, and without this one delight this one moon, I'm not sure I would be retaining my rights as an American citizen, what few the gay citizens retain these days, but instead I'd be at risk to be a ward of the state, or at least the county, give the rage I felt over the insult we all endured from the elected officials, the ignorant, dumbass, sons of bitches, each of whom needs a solid whomp upside the head for not remembering the simple humanity most of us learn at our mothers' knees.

How can a citizenry that started it all, a citizenry that developed a simple document, the Halifax Resolves, that soon became the precursor to The American Declaration of Independence, a citizenry that, just seasons before, sent the colonial governor packing by moonlight, well more like torchlight, to Virginia, a citizenry that later developed a state constitution in which Article I, Section 1 states without equivocation "We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.", text such as you've probably heard before, how can a people descended from unimpeachable stock such as that pass a bill to put an amendment before the voters of this state by which the civil rights of a minority are determined?

Trust me: I'm calm from what I was earlier, and I need to go and recalm myself now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Not barbecue

This is not barbecue.  However, I'm going to use that word for the sake of being understood, all the while hoping the folks back home don't come chasing me, again, with pitchforks and torches.

We lucked into some boneless pork chops at Food Lion today.  Three packs.  I cooked two packs, cut up the chops, froze one set, and stashed the other away for sandwiches over the next week.  The left the third pack.

Oh what to do.

So before the houseboy can remember to wash the pan, stir all the left over stuff together.  Or not.


Now, add some rices.


I sprinkled on some salt, but I doubt you can tell it, probably because I added the salt after taking the picture. That's just the kind of guy I am.

Now, add that third pack of pork chops.  I do love a sale.


I splashed on some olive oil for good measure. Yes, it's who I am; it's what I do.


That olive oil can be hard to see sometimes.  It's effect on my blood chemistry is equally hard to discern, but that's another matter, and I still have a few gallons of the mess in the cabinet.

Then I slathered on what Kraft calls original barbecue sauce.  It's good, but I'll tell you right now that this is in no measure barbecue sauce.  However, I would rather not start Armageddon this evening.


On goes the lid.


I do love iron cookware.  This thing goes in the over at 450F for a couple of hours.  You'll know it's done by the smell.  If your nose is stuffed, and you can't, your ears will let you know when the smoke alarm goes off.  Please turn off the stove as you evacuate the building.  Do not take the elevators.

And finally it's done.


I'll leave the lid off for a while to let it cool while the rices continue to soak up the liquid they need.  This mess won't last long.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Letting one go

Letting go of old emotional baggage is important.  Of late, I discovered one that surprised me.  Of course, it shouldn't have.  I've known about it for decades.  It's just in this season, this month, and especially this week that I've decided to deal with it.

The driving cap.


Yeah, that's me, sweating the weather that's going to keep me from pedaling downtown for a nibble, unless I choose to revisit Sunday last with wind, rain, lightning, and that sobering three-fold brush with my mortality.

Back to the cap.

My daddy wore these pretty much 24/7.  I never did, and he was the reason.  I suppose I've rejected a good many things because of him and our relationship.  One exceptionally naive counselor even attributed my homosexuality to him.  Yes, I managed to restrain my reaction because I was trying to be good, not argumentative, but I still break out in a good laugh when I think of that.  The old fool was too deeply entrenched in the Catholic priesthood to be of much use to about anyone.

Oh well, both he and my daddy are a thing of the past.

I used to dream of fighting with Daddy two or three times a week.  I'd grab him by his feet, swing him around me, and dash his head to a pulp on the rocks and trees around us.

He died some 20 years ago, and his ashes are buried in the cemetery by the church where his daddy once preached briefly.  It took another five or so years to work through my feelings about him, and no, a hired gun counselor was not involved.  I generally do not trust those folks much, though I'd likely benefit if I'd deal with that on too.

Yeah, that's probably another set of baggage for another day.

I thought I was about finished processing my feelings toward my daddy until last week when a local store put hats on clearance, a serious clearance.  On an impulse, I laid down a few bucks, and brought 100% cotton Woolrich cap home.  Shouldn't it be made of wool?

Then I wore it, briefly at first.  Looking in the mirror, I saw him.  Now, everyone at some point looks in the mirror and sees parents.  It's what we do, especially at midlife.  Then it occurred to me that I was denying myself a hat that I liked simply because I once had problems with a dead man.  I should be smarter than this.  That I wear the cap does not make me his post-traumatic stressed self.  (The man fought at the Battle of the Bulge in the second world war.  How do you come out of that and not be scarred?)

Then it was clear, just as I realized five years ago that I could find the courage to climb and sit in the shoe shine chair in the Washington airport, and thereby let that withered man and handsome soul earn his living, I could find the strength to wear a cap I really do like, and step beyond the bullshit of all those years past.

That our past colors our present and future is nothing we can change.  In fact, it's something we should embrace.  What defines us, however, is another matter.

High school reunion?  Don't go get all funny, not yet.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I cannot believe this

I cannot believe this.  Take a breathe, brace yourself, and click here to see a something you won't believe over at the New Yorker.

This is to help parents teach children about 9/11?  Give me a freakin' break!  A Bin Laden double-tap coloring book?  Where are the lynching coloring books?  Where are the atomic bomb in Japan coloring books?  How about an electric chair coloring book?  I know!  Let's make a coloring book of dragging people down the road behind a truck full of rednecks with rifles, shotguns, beer, and not an IQ point to share among them.  Even better!  Let's have one of Mathew Shepard tied to a fence gate.

This book is NOT about teaching children the events of 9/11.  It's about promoting hate in this already hate-filled world where compassion is a weakness, education is held in distrust, and fear stalks the land as thinly veiled concern, a world in which "Love Thy Neighbor" only counts for the few who are secretly worthy, and "Feed My Sheep" has been supplanted with "Build a Bigger Church."

If this is the best we can do, we do not deserve our place in this world.  We only assist the terrorists as they continue their march unimpeded to our assured destruction.

Friday, September 2, 2011

NC and gay marriage - reprise


North Carolina is entering the gay marriage debate, which seems reasonable. The unemployment rate is high, and many people have nothing else to do. The legislature might as well debate a constitutional amendment that institutionalizes second class citizenship for anyone not heterosexual while it waits for all that saved tax money to trickle down and feed some hungry people.

Here is my suggestion for dealing with this problem.  (Yes, revised from a couple of years ago.)

Marriage: Let us define marriage as something the church does so that people can get frisky without going to hell. A church may apply the filters it sees fit to maintain it's purity and it's heaven. If you meet the specifications defined by the church, the church may marry you. Although this marriage infers that you'll be headed to heaven because you're not living in sin, you get nothing from the state. The marriage is all about going to heaven. If you want legal things, you need to see the next paragraph.

Civil Union: Let us define civil union as something the state does to recognize the union of people. The state may not deny the right to a civil union to any citizen. The civil union granted by one state will be recognized by all other states. With the civil union, you get all the legal things like inheritance, joint tax, hospital visitation, but you do not get to go to heaven. If you want to go to heaven, you must find a church that will accept you.

What's good here: What is good here is that the separation of church and state leaves both to do what is right for them. If the Mormons want to bring back polygamy, and some never let it go, they are welcome to it. If a splinter group of queer Mormons decides to accept polygamous same sex marriage, they can do that. If a Baptist church gets more than a little hot and bothered by the snakes it uses, parishioners could marry one. It's all cool.

The state, on the other hand, will grant civil unions to citizens with all the rights and privileges therein, as defined by law. If space aliens land, settle in, and start to get frisky with the locals, the space aliens can become a part of the tax paying citizenry, visit the local magistrate, and start filing join tax returns with the rest of us. If at some point, we determine that house ferns are sentient beings capable of loving and giving relationships, the law can be extended to permit those marriages as well, though it'll probably be a while before we can go green.

What's bad here: What's bad here is that there are more idiots in this world than I will ever count, and some of those idiots carry a substantial degree of influence such as the representative who made the local cable news loop with his remarks that link gay marriage to bestiality. I do wish that man had to stand before my children and explain himself.  I suspect he would wither before the glare I know m'Lily can produce.

Why in the world an expression of love should elicit such unnecessary expressions of hate is simply beyond my comprehension. We got over it with the Indians. We got over it with the Blacks. We got over it with the Mexicans.  (Yes, the Indians, Blacks, and Mexicans will say we still have some work to do.)  It's time to just plain get over it, people, and move on to some real problems.