Wishing each and every one of you all good things in the new year.


She's outta here

Tonight, Prada's excellent adventure comes to an end as I return her to her daddy, and things get back to normal around here.

She has traveled the backs of sofas and launched herself from end tables. She's chewed on my shoe and peed (more than once) on my carpet. She has led me through rain and snow across Union Hill in search of a spot suitable for pooping. Her ball and Kong remain intact, while Alex's favorite toy is in shreds. And she has chased and chewed Alex from nose to tail. Just this morning she even goaded cranky old Jack into joining the rolling wrestling match that has dominated the last week here.

She's a pain in the ass, and completely delightful. Brett and I both look forward to next time.

Christmas night

After a relaxing Christmas day, and a late afternoon nap with the schnauzers, Brett and I headed out to a movie tonight. That's rare in itself as I'm not much of a moviegoer, much to Brett's dismay. We headed to the Tivoli to see Milk, going there because it's rarely crowded, and the crush of people is the thing I hate about movies.

You already know the basics of the story. Harvey Milk leaves New York for San Francisco, energizes the Castro, and after a number of failed attempts is finally elected Supervisor. He orchestrates the defeat of Proposition 6 and enacts a gay rights ordinance, only to be shot to death by Dan White (portrayed as an uptight, ego-driven boozehound by Josh Brolin). Still, the storytelling is really well done, and there's probably some things you'll learn while you watch. The Twinkie Defense? That came from Dan White's attorneys, which I did not know. I also didn't know that Dan White served 5 years and was released from prison. Five years for two deaths doesn't seem quite like justice, but he returned to San Francisco and evenually killed himself so in the end I suppose it doesn't matter.

There's also lots of old news footage of Anita Bryant. We Wiki'd her when we got home to see if she was still alive. Sadly she is, but I'm pleased to report that her divorce apparently ruined her in the eyes of her fundamentalist christian audience, and she's filed for bankruptcy twice. She now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma where she runs something called Anita Bryant Ministries. I've never heard of Anita Bryant Ministries, which is just as it should be.

Sean Penn is amazing as Harvey Milk. You start watching thinking "wow, Sean Penn just kissed a guy" but before long it's all Harvey and no Sean. The supporting cast is just as good. James Franco plays Milk's boyfriend Scott Smith, and couldn't be more adorable. Admittedly, I have a bit of a 70's fetish. The hair, the clothes, the mustaches...yeah baby. But even without all that the acting is great.

My verdict: well worth the price of a ticket. Go and enjoy.

Our holiday houseguest

We've got company for the next 10 days! Prada (owned by a cute 23 year old gay boy, thus the unfortunate name) is a year old schnauzer who's staying with us while her daddy goes home to Michigan for Christmas.

I picked her up today, and within an hour or so she and Alex were chasing each other around the house. Jack doesn't really want to play, but doesn't seem to want her playing with Alex either so he just sits and barks. They're on break now and she's sitting in my lap as I type, and Jack is taking a breather on the couch.

Her dad likes her shaggy rather than in a standard schnauzer cut, and while I like my boys trimmed up, I do think she's awfully cute all fuzzy. She got a bath and her teeth brushed for her stay, and she's just as sweet as can be. The boys know to avoid the laptop cords from our computers so once she figures that out we should be all good.

Cross your fingers for us. I don't really mind the mayhem so much, but I worry that Brett's head may explode!

Only slightly stronger than my vanity...

...is my love for the schnauzers. I nodded off on the couch this evening and Brett proceeded to take phone pics of us. Alex is good about sleeping on us. Jack prefers his pile of pillows, but isn't against wedging himself up against whichever of the daddies is close.

In other news, I'm horrified at how thin my hair has gotten on top.

Office party

Over the years at my firm the holiday gathering has gotten bigger and more involved. Until this year, when we had a holiday lunch at a hotel up the street from the office. It was a nice room, and because the hotel doesn't have food service it was catered by Grand Street, and really quite good. Except the mashed potatoes, which were magical.

I work in the Operations group, and have a few vacation days in a use-or-lose situation, so I took today off and put together a little gathering for my co-workers. I think 10 or so is the perfect number for things like this, and that was about what I had.

It was a nice opportunity to use the old white ironstone pieces I've been picking up lately, and I was pleased with how my table looked. The mix of patterns and styles, all in white, against a neutral linen cloth was nice. I wish I had taken a picture, but I was still pulling things together when the first person arrived. (Thank you again Dan for putting together my cheese platter!) My bronze altar candlesticks work with everything, and the bowl I brought back from France made a perfect centerpiece just filled with colorful retro Christmas ornaments.

Everyone came and seemed to enjoy themselves. We're having the most God-awful, freezing, wet weather, so I did some hot ham sandwiches with a mustard and butter spread, and a cheesy potato and corn chowder. For those that just wanted to snack there were cheeses and grapes, hummus, vegetables and dip, and nuts and wasabi peas. (are wasabi peas addictive for anyone besides me?)

Finally, props to the girls behind the deli counter at the Brookside Market. You recommended a ham, which you advised I should taste. When it was delicious and I ordered some, you first asked how I wanted it sliced and then laid it out neatly, making it easy to build sandwiches for a crowd. The other grocery store I sometimes shop at just grabs a fist full, weighs it, and tosses it in a bag.

All in all, a busy day, but a great evening. Here's hoping rush hour tomorrow morning isnt a total mess.

This post is brought to you by the number Eleven

Happy anniversary sweetheart!

All my love-

Bath day at Chez Malaise

When Jack was a puppy I gave him baths in the kitchen sink until it was time for his big boy haircut, then he went to the groomer in our vet's building. The last time he was there they scraped his neck and didn't tell me. I found out after returning home from dinner to find my baby all pink from bleeding and scratching. $170 later at the emergency vet he was bandaged up and much better. I cancelled his next grooming appointment and wondered where we'd go.

A woman I worked with gave me a business card for AJ's Zoom N Groom. Amanda and Jacquie came and showed me around their mobile grooming van. Extended in the back and on top it housed a full size tub, hydraulic grooming table, heating, cooling, and maybe most importantly, lots of dog treats. I got an appointment and hoped for the best.

I worked odd hours then, and was home for Jack's second appointment. We answered the door and when he saw who it was he ran to the kitchen, got one of his stuffed animals and brought it to them. That was all I needed to see.

When I sold the house and moved in with Brett, Kirby and Jack got groomed together. When prices went up we stopped, but before long we were back on the waiting list, and shortly after that back to regular grooming. When Kirb was gone Jacquie cared enough to send a card. When Alex arrived she was happy to add him to the appointment.

It's wonderful to see people who have their own business and a great product do well. The girls run two vans now, each working alone, because all of their routes were full and they were turning away so many customers. It's so convenient to just leave a check on the counter and know she'll take care of everything. More than that, it's worth the price (which isn't cheap) knowing that she'll be good to them like they were her own, and after an hour and a half or so they're back home safe and sound.

She comes once a month, usually on a Thursday, early in the morning. Brett's in charge of AM walks, and says they pull like hell when they see the van. We go off to work as she does her thing, and come home to the clean, handsome boys you see above.

Celebrity Blogrolls

How do you know when your blog is attracting serious attention? When Elle Decor wants to know what you're tired of.

Congratulations to Mrs. Blandings, Decorno, and ArchitectDesign! Here's wishing you all a less styled, less icon-laden, and taxidermy free new year!

Faux Fir

Who knew it would be so hard to shoot a Christmas tree?!

I got home from work, and after a quick walk and getting schnauzer dinner in the bowls, I grabbed the camera thinking I'd take a couple shots of my funky blue, orange, and silver tree. Daylight was not my friend. It seemed to make the tree look oddly flat, and you could see the light wires clear as day.

Once the sun was down I turned off all the lights, set my camera for night shots, and things got a little bit (a very little bit) better. The night setting seems to emphasize even the slightest hand movement, so you'll have to pardon a bit of blur.

Here's a detail shot taken mostly to show you the blue onion ornaments. I loved the shape and color, but because they're plastic I was really ambivalent. You can see the seams in places, and there were only two boxes in the entire place. But I went for it, and on the tree they really don't appear any different from the glass balls. I'm loving the orange glass balls too. I might have to venture back for a few more boxes of them for Christmas future.

About my balls

In an effort to smack ourselves into the holiday spirit we've put up the Christmas tree. As I've said in the past, I don't like a lot of holiday decor, but what I do decorate, I want to decorate well. Our tree began with clear lights, followed by pearl balls and more balls in three different shades of silver. I also threw in the 9 Pottery Barn mercury glass drops I bought on after-Christmas clearance a few years ago. (these are wonderful, I wish I'd tried to get more, eBay has none at the moment) It was sort of monochromatic (which I like) and simple (also good), but seemed to lack something. Brett said the something was color.

I'd taken the green balls and put them in a glass urn on our new cabinet in the entry. The red and blue ones went in a huge glass hurricane on the sideboard in a subtle Christmas nod to our alma mater. And the gold ones...they stayed in their boxes in the plastic tub. I have some gorgeous brown ones as well, but no real use for them this year. And my small collection of retro Radko Shiny-Brite are on the dining room table in the white ironstone bowl I brought back from Paris.

The point being, I have a thing about buying Christmas balls. In a few years we'll have a complete wardrobe of them in every color, because it seems I can only handle a limited pallette on our tree.

Our office closed at 4pm today because of the ice and snow. Frugal shopper (and 4-wheel driver) that I am, off I went to Hobby Lobby to find some half off bargains to pimp our tree.

You could burn about 80 percent of that store at no real loss, but there are a few things there I can put to work. I found a couple sets of onion-shaped ornaments in a really great blue. Think blueprint rather than navy or royal. I also picked up a box of 12 sort of swirling, ribbed, tulip-shaped things that were that blue over silver. They're plastic, and I thought they might be awful, but they've turned out to be just fine.

And then, there in the aisle of glass ornaments, was what I had in the back of my mind but never thought anyone would have: burnt orange Christmas balls. I bought three six packs. Finally, some blue plaid organza ribbon for garland finishes it nicely, without being overly visible. (Note to lower-price-point ribbon manufacturers: There is still a market for ribbon without wired edges. Please remember us going forward.)

So the tree trimming is complete. Not overly traditional, but not at all out-there, and we're way pleased with the result.

(my apologies to anyone offended by this post's title. I'm afraid I'm just the kind of boy who cant resist a good ball joke)

Craftsman Corner: Ed Gilliam

Not long after I started working at my company I joined a few of the ladies for a day of antique shopping and a craft show. It was there that my co-worker Judy introduced me to her brother-in-law, Ed Gilliam, and his carved wood Santas. I loved that they were clunky and imperfect, and often times sort of angry looking. Judy said for that reason they were all self-portraits, although Ed was always just as nice as he could be to me. I believe that Ed worked for the railroad until an injury put him on disabililty, and then he started carving.
Brett fell in love with them as well, as evidenced here. We've picked up a few each year, and while we have a couple of the Father Christmas figures, we like the Santas most, and they make up the bulk of the collection. Brett also bought his mother a few as gifts over the years as she liked them too.
Some of them have things in their hands, a gift or a flag, or a sack of toys. Some just stand. We have a couple cowboys and one in his union suit. There's one vaguely shaped like a top, one like an egg, and one shaped like a Christmas tree with Santa faces on three sides.

I love the ones that don't smile.

Although the ones that do smile are fun as well. The little one on the right above is probably my favorite of all.

Ed was getting up there when we met in the 2002, and now isn't able to work anymore, so these are it. He and his wife sold their place in Paradise, Missouri (north of Smithville) and got an apartment in Smithville to be closer to family.

While it's sad that he can't carve now, it's nice to think of how many of these he's left behind. He sold them all over the country and had a nice little following, so there are lots out there. I think that sort of legacy would be appreciated by anyone who makes things for a living.

First Impressions (and another old lamp)

Last month Brett and I went out to First Friday because Harriet Bigham, my high school art teacher, was showing at Barkley down in the Crossroads. I'd always liked her work (still do) and I'm so glad she's painting again.

It was cool enough to keep the crowd down (you'll never see me there in the summer when it's more beer garden than gallery walk), but not so awful that you hated to be out. After a few galleries we walked over to Pizzabella for dinner, and then down to see what was new at Black Bamboo.

I've long been a fan of old asian lacquered furniture, and you can always count on Black Bamboo to have some great pieces. Our entryway has needed attention for a while now, and Brett really liked some of the old lacquer cabinets. Still, I wasn't sure that red or black lacquer was exactly right for where we had in mind. There was a small piece in a gorgeous burnt orange, but on our two-tone brown marble floor, hmm, maybe not.

Last weekend we stopped in Kincaid's at 45th and State Line, across the street from Mrs. Blandings favorite, Christoper Filley. Kincaid's is exclusively asian casegoods, architectural, and ceramics. She's got some really wonderful things, including the Chinese cabinet pictured above which now lives in our entry, and totally jump started us to get that room in shape.

Tonight after dinner, completely on a whim, we painted the walls. We'd been planning to since we moved in, but with the cabinet and the print (relocated from the bedroom where it was never really visible), and some paint we had on hand (Sherwin Williams Restrained Gold), we got on it.

The white crackled ceramic lamp (yes, there's always a lamp) was a six buck estate sale buy that I had rewired and waiting for the perfect spot. The new small black barrel shade and silver greek key finial from The Light Shop give it more the scale of a buffet lamp. The lines, while not expressly asian, work great with the old lacquer cabinet. A small round raku box, a preserved boxwood wreath from Nell Hill's, a candle, and we're good. This will be great to come home to each evening.

Bowled over

My grandmother and her sisters were great cooks. Each with her own area of expertise, grandma was the baker. One of my favorite memories is of huge salt-glazed crock bowls of dough rising on the stove, covered with a tea towel she embroidered herself. She's been gone a long time, but I've got those bowls, and one of the tea towels. That's how the collection got started.

The most recent addition is pictured above. If you spend any time in antique stores or malls, you've seen the barrel pitchers, pottery embossed to look like a wooden barrel. An auction last weekend contained a huge collection of old yellow ware, including this barrel bowl. It's in pristine condition and I've never seen one before, and I was thrilled when one of the ringmen finally picked it up to sell. I waited nearly 3 hours for it, I'm not sure if that's embarassing or a point of pride.

I'm also pretty omnivorous in the type of bowl I like. These glazed bowls are all marked USA, with the exception of the pale blue one on the far right, which I believe is unmarked Bauer ringware. I use my bowls for cooking, and often for serving, so I don't buy anything cracked. Chips don't bother me if they're small.

My favorites, from a visual standpoint at least, are the striped ones. Martha Stewart ruined the market on these years ago, but I've noticed prices seem to be trending back down. Really small ones, or complete nested sets can still set you back, but single bowls seem to be pretty reasonable again. Mine have come from auctions and estate sales, a few from eBay, and a couple were gifts from a friend when she thinned her collection.

Here they are all together on the workbench in the dining room. For now I keep them nested up in a cabinet, although I've already started planning for display/storage in the next kitchen. When I pulled them all out to shoot them Brett and I were both surprised at how many I've amassed. It doesn't seem so big until you unstack and spread them out.

Oh, and this doesn't include the white ones. Porcelain, ironstone, salt-glaze and restaurant ware. I'll save those for another post.

No longer protecting the innocent

HG suggested that referring to my boyfriend as "Boyfriend" made him sound replaceable, and asked if we might not assign him a name. An anonymous commenter added that calling him Boyfriend seemed like something Hillary Duff would do. I know that Hillary Duff is an actress, but I'm unfamiliar with her work. I'll assume it wasn't a compliment.

Boyfriend is a lawyer with his own firm here in town. Not a huge firm, but they do a fair bit of business and I decided early to keep him anonymous. He's a reader of the blog (hey baby!) and assures me that using his first name is fine.

So the secret's out. I'm not hiding Anderson Cooper, but I do have my own personal silver fox. His name is Brett.

The man behind the mayhem

It's been two days since my chance meeting with boozehound hit-and-runner Kory Snider, when what should drop into my lap today but his gay.com screename! He said so little at our initial meeting, of course now I know that was only because he was looking for an escape route. When we met again he was being cuffed and stuffed into the squad car, so there was really no opportunity for us to get to know one another. Curious, I poked around his profile to see if I could get a sense of just who Kory is.

I know what you're thinking, but no, this isn't Sunday night. Officer Santana was a handsome guy too, but this isn't him.

Kory describes himself as an "all around person who'll settle for nothing but experiencing life to the fullest." Trust me Kory, this is not going to get you a date. I know it sounded exciting when you wrote it, but it says nothing. Also, a photo in front of Olive Garden doesn't exactly scream "adventurer!" Mostly it says you enjoy breadsticks.

Having your photo taken with the singing cowboy while holding an I Heart NY bag? Meh. What's the cultural capitol of the world compared to a man in his underwear.

I read further, and he goes on to say "I enjoy meeting new people and learning new things because there is something new to learn everyday and alot of times the people you meet are the ones that teach these things to you." I'd like to teach you some things Kory, starting with grammar and punctuation, and ending with the dangers of mangled metaphors. If we have time I can also cover how to gracefully refuse a drink, or ask the doorman to call you a cab.

Look, my favorite photo of all!

Kory mentions that "I have just made a huge lifestyle change for the better and I am working towards doing all of those things that I have always dreamed of doing, but have never been able to do so." I'm not convinced, but hey, reach for the stars. I suppose if you've had to work up to property damage and fleeing the scene of an accident I should cheer the progress.

Finally, he ends by saying "I firmly believe you need to grab life by the balls before it takes off on you." I say keep reaching for those balls Kory, because I think life's getting ready to grab you right back. And I'm hoping its by the ankles.

Turkey Tagged

Jen has tagged me for a special Thanksgiving meme. Could someone give me some insight on the word "meme" please? I know what it is, vaguely, but that's about it. I assume it's prounounced as "meem" although a big part of me wants it to be "may-may." Anyway, five things I'm thankful for and why:

1. The love a good man.

Seriously. I'm fully aware that I'm no picnic to live with. The fact that he loves me as much as he does, and has for as long as he has, well, that's just pretty amazing. If he would occasionally wipe down the handle and door on the refrigerator, my life would be near perfect. =)

2. Dogs.

My schnauzers are barky little terrorists that I love only slightly less than Boyfriend. People who aren't fond of dogs don't understand the depth of this devotion. A neighbor of mine took a passive-aggressive verbal jab at my boys last week and I'm still mad about it. My new hall policy? No correcting, and no apologizing. I will love and adore these dogs until their last breath, and after we move I will never think of this neighbor again.

3. The Internet.

While it may separate us in some ways, it's brought us together in others. Blogs, ebay, banking, chatting, porn, I mean entertainment...all at our fingertips. What's not to love?

4. Being 41.

Not the number so much, as the change in my mind once I hit 40. I'm far more interesting now than I've ever been. I've lost the ability to care about the inconsequential. I've lost the fear of growing old, of not succeeding, of others opinions. It's been wonderfully freeing.

5. Just being.

I've been lucky enough to be healthy all of my life. I'm rarely sick. I've never had any medical procedure outside of a dentist's office, and I've been to the emergency room exactly once. I turned 18 in 1986 when HIV was the "gay cancer" that wiped out a generation of young men, and I came through it unscathed. I'm a lucky boy.

So there's my five. I'm not tagging others, but if you're reading this and you blog, how about telling us what you're thankful for. Leave me a comment so I can come see what you say.

Here's to you Kory Snider

Who is Kory Snider? He's a drunk driver and hit-and-runner, and I met him last night while sitting at the stop light at 39th and Wyoming. Sitting at the stop light while driving Boyfriend's car.

I was looking for something in my wallet so I didn't see him coming, when boom! there he was. I got out and walked back and asked if he was ok. He seemed a little glazed but said he was alright. Then, and here's what probably caused a whole chain of events, I told him we needed to call a cop because I wasn't driving my own car and I'd need a police report.

He suggested we pull off out of the middle of the street, and I figured that was probably a good idea. You can see it coming: When I pulled over, he turned south on Wyoming and was off.

Now I've never loved Boyfriend's Acura. There's nothing wrong with it, I've just never loved it the way I loved some of his other cars. I have a new found respect for it now though, because when you decide to chase someone who crushed your bumper, this is the car you want. Speed, handling, braking, it's all there.

I'd forgotten my phone so I couldn't call the police, and I'm not really sure what I was thinking, other than I was going to catch him or he was going to get away. He led down Wyoming, and west on 41st (blowing stop signs all the way). He led still down State Line as well and turned on 42nd. At the west end he blew right out into Rainbow, and somehow didn't hit anyone. I got stopped by traffic and saw him turn west on 43rd, and I knew I'd lost him

So I pulled out to turn east on 43rd, go back to where I'd started, and find a phone. At the light I looked west, and what do I see on a side street but a flashing light. Could I possibly be that lucky? A turn around in the McDonalds parking lot and I was on my way. When I turned off 43rd towards the light, YOU CAN IMAGINE MY GLEE at seeing Mr. Snider pulled over, with a cop at his window.

So much glee in fact that I pulled right up, window down, and said "You just hit me and drove off you bastard!" The cop wasn't sure what was going on, he pulled him over for mowing down a stop sign. I told him to check the front of his car, and the back of mine, and it was all over. Cuffed and thrown in the back of the cop car with what I learned later was a DWI.

The car belonged to the passenger, who was also drunk, but at this point at least seems to be insured. The claim is being turned into his insurance company, and the police were pretty decent about making sure I had the info I needed.

So, don't drive drunk. And if you do, and you plow into someone, someone who gets out and inquires as to your well-being, just pull over and take what comes from the police. You could kill yourself or someone else driving like that through residential streets. And if karma pops up in the form of a stop sign, you end up in jail anyway.

As well you should, Kory Snider, you bastard.

The company we keep

Love it or hate it, the commenting community at Joe.My.God is always lively. I don't automatically agree with everything said, but overall the commenters are smart, compassionate men and women I've enjoyed getting to know. A number of them are bloggers themselves and participating in the community has turned me on to some incredible writing (Hey Lynette!) as well.

Joe has gained a fair bit of celebrity, and along with that comes the pleasure of trolls commenting on his posts. They usually come from WingNutDaily or some other conservative christian blog, and they're always breathtakingly hateful. One such commenter earlier today finished his diatribe by stating that he was looking forward to a new strain of AIDS. You know, so we'd all die.

I had two thoughts after I read that. First, I love the fact that my blog audience is tiny, thoughtful, witty and well-mannered. And second, could wishing a disease on someone as an insult be any more lame? I've insulted a few people in my day (it's rare, but not unheard of), but never once did it occur to me to say something like "I can't wait for you to contract an inoperable tumor, or a never-before-seen variety of liver cancer!"

Later in the day, a new name popped up in the comments during a verbal evisceration of Michelle Malkin. Let me note that I did not take part in the ritual because I don't really know much about Ms. Malkin (apparently she's just dreadful!), and because the original post linked to the Live Puppy Cam. (I'm watching it while I'm writing this, one of them just peed. On the pee pad. Good Puppy!)

The new commenter, who to his credit was not anonymous, and linked to his own blog (which I looked at briefly, he thinks Obama is a communist) said the following:

"Look, I will do you all a favor. This is obviously a blog where no one outside of your coffee klatsch is welcome. I will depart. May I suggest that you tone down the vitrol please? You want people like Michelle Malkin to stop writing about Gay hate, stop it here. Prove it to the outside world. Peaceful demonstrations, not interrupting church services and going after people who donated to Prop 8. Keep it civil, keep it peaceful and maybe people will listen. Give them fists and profanities and they will hit back and hit back hard. There is a blog I regularly comment on. It is liberal and the Blogmaster if you will is gay and has been to many PEACEFUL, NON VIOLENT demonstrations."

Then he gave the link, signed off with "peace," and was immediatly lambasted by the fast-typing, foul-mouthed homos that are the JMG regulars. God love them.

I thought about it all afternoon, and reread his comment a number of times, and I'm just not sure what to make of it. I do have to give him props for not hiding. And more credit for what, on the surface at least, seems to be an effort to add something to the conversation, especially when he'd have to know he'd be the minority viewpoint standing squarely in hostile territory.

But telling us to tone down the vitriol? (note I spelled it right) You really should know your audience before you start making those suggestions. Then I get to the part about gay hate (we have our own now!) and it starts to sound like blaming the victim. The comment about interrupting church services I actually agree with. (That stunt pulled by Bash Back was just stupid. Don't give ammo to the enemy!) As for Prop 8, using the donor list doesn't strike me as much different from the boycotts the evangelicals have been staging for years. Let's all put our mouths where our money is.

But then he says "Keep it civil." And if you read my big Prop 8 post you know how that pisses me off. It's like saying "you be good gays, quiet gays, and maybe we'll think about easing up on the denial of rights thing..." I'll point out here that we really shouldn't have to ask for any of this.

Then there's his follow-up warning that our foes will "hit back hard," which seems to suggest we should be fearful (we're not). And he closes by telling us that he's a reasonable conservative. Why, he's even a regular commenter on a liberal blog run by a gay dude! Who demonstrates peacefully!

I'm stumped. Who would I rather have a conversation with, those who's opinions and beliefs fall somewhere near my own, or someone with whom I'm bound to disagree on almost everything? Does a discourse between opposing viewpoints educate both sides, or are the sides so far apart that in this battle at least, there's little chance of finding middle ground?

Protest Virgin No More

I'd never protested anything before today, but Kansas City joined cities across the country in protesting California's recent passage of Proposition 8, which removed our newly-minted right to marry in the Golden State. Held on the edge of the Country Club Plaza, we got there early and headed over to Restoration Hardware to buy new drapery hardware for our bedroom. So gay! But they were having 20% off the entire store, and our current curtain rod sucks. Here's some recap photos in no particular order:

Before and after the speakers (who we couldn't really hear because their PA system was small) everyone lined up along 47th street and cheered the cars that honked as they passed. The event organizers said that we needed to keep the sidewalks clear and people gladly complied.
When we got there the crowd was just assembling, and as always, some of Fred Phelps' family were across the street with their fag signs. Not sure why, but they didn't stay much past the start of the rally. They'll never realize how much their brand of crazy has helped our cause. Just think if they'd focused all these years on something positive, who knows what they might have accomplished.

After the speakers finished we went back to the street, and the crowd was big enough at that point that some crossed to line the other side. So much honking and waving. Only one thumbs-down that I saw from the female passenger half of an old couple in a big F-350.
The crowd assembling by the JC Nichols fountain (which is my favorite in a city full of fountains).

One of the speakers, I'm afraid I don't know who he is. Obviously I need to get out more or something.

My favorite sign of the day, because sometimes, even the most noble of causes benefits from a sense of humor.

My other favorite sign.

So there you go, a great day for a great cause, in spite of the cold. Way to go Kansas City, I'm totally proud of all of us!

Quality, not quantity

Decorno started a conversation on holiday decorating, which we're going to try again this year after a two year hiatus. I don't like lots of decorations, but what I do decorate, I like to decorate fully. The mantle above was at our old house. I did something similar the first year we were settled here in the condo, and will give it a go again this year.

I may not use fresh greens however, as they dried out really quickly here, probably due to heat from the tv mounted over the fireplace. I may use slightly fewer glass balls too. I hadn't looked at this picture for a while and it seems like there's just a few too many.

It's a start

Ok, time for something lighter after that last post. Let's talk about my den.
This is the second bedroom in our condo. It's been Boyfriend's office and a storage room for boxes. It's also been chocolate brown, and a bad shade of pale blue. Finally, it's going to be our den.

The color is the same as our kitchen/dining/living room space, Sherwin Williams' Restrained Gold. The room is about 11 foot square, and the pale khaki makes the room feel much lighter.

I wanted a piece with storage, and had been scouring estate sales and craigslist for months looking for a sideboard. I'd come up with nothing when I found the dresser above on craigslist. It's about a year old, and is Mitchell Gold for Crate & Barrel. I hadn't originally planned on something with a mid-century feel, but I did have a great mid-century side table I'd refinished, and the dresser was a great deal. And it had nice lines so I bought it. The two adorable boys who were selling it even carried it out to my truck.

So I've got a start on the room! The white lamp was a super cheap auction find that I've mentioned before. I've also got a large mirror at the workshop and I'll be hanging it this week after I paint the frame. (That tray of stuff needs serious tweaking, I know!) Boyfriend's desk will live on the wall to the right of the chest (with another white lamp with black shade), and to the left I've got a chair awaiting reupholstery, and the mid-century side table.

So we're moving toward a nice quiet place to read (or blog). Some art, a rug, and we'll be good to go. More photos to come as I make progress!

A ring and a cake

There was something in the air on Tuesday, an electricity just beneath the surface as Boyfriend and I stood in line to vote. The line stretched around Our Lady of Sorrows (yes, really) and down the street. People had books and cell phones, some brought chairs, one woman stood knitting in the frigid wind. All of us were prepared to wait, determined to make ourselves heard. I wasn't sure Missouri would go blue (it didn't) but I could feel the possibility. It seemed reasonable, given the disaster of the last eight years, that as a country we'd had enough.

I thought of California only once or twice throughout the day. Liberal, laid-back California. Gavin Newsom and Nancy Pelosi and the Governator. The left coast would never move to actively discriminate, especially now with gay marriage already on the books.

I trusted my gut, it was all going to be okay.

Barack Obama would bring some dignity and intelligence back to the White House. And sometime, when we had a few days and some extra cash, Boyfriend and I would go to Palm Springs, and after more than a decade together, make it legal. For the first time in a long time, it was all going to be okay.

But my gut was only half right.

I've been surprised at how Proposition 8's passing has effected me, the level of anger and hurt that I feel. I think that maybe it's because we seemed to be moving in the right direction, and now we've taken this gigantic step back. Or rather, we've been pushed back by the leaders of the mormon church

Yes, I've placed my blame.

I read an article that proposed the black and latin communities, not believed to be supportive of gay rights, made the difference because they turned out in higher numbers to vote in the general election. I suppose that could be true, but it seems both racist and facile. Money, on the other hand, always makes a difference when Americans have something to vote on, and on that front the mormon church led the way.

For these churches (mormon and others) the priority is not food for the hungry, treatment for the addicted, or apparently any kind of help for those in need. Ensuring that Boyfriend and I remain unequal in the eyes of the law, that's job one.

So, what do I do now?

As the shouting began, the mormons issued a statement asking for "a spirit of mutual respect and civility," and here I sit, feeling neither. After eight years of watching the Bush administration wreck our reputation in the world, of having my patriotism questioned simply because of my party affiliation, you'll have to pardon me if I'm less than satisfied with where civility has gotten me.

And now, for the religious right to effectively block my entrance to the courthouse, when I've never once asked to walk down their aisle, well I'm not feeling especially respectful. Am I supposed to stand quietly by, with a smile on my face, while they continue their work to ensure that I never receive quite the same benefits, or enjoy quite the same rights as my straight counterparts?

If Boyfriend were to drop dead, from a legal standpoint I'm nothing more than a guest in my own home. I don't believe his family would throw me out, but do we ever really know what people will do in the throes of grief? My friend Linda found this out the hard way. She'd lived with Ron for 25 years when he died suddenly. They'd never married. Were it not for one of his sisters, the rest of the family would have cleaned out Linda's home.

So I've spent the week trying to make some sense of it. I've written and re-written this post each day because I'm alternately disheartened and enraged, and no combination of words seems to adequately convey the way I feel.

I can only conclude that I'm trying to make sense of something that makes no sense. Were I to marry my partner none of those who voted yes on Proposition 8 would know, no change in their lives would occur. The institution of Marriage, battered and bruised as it is, would remain.

I've tried to explain this in past letters to representatives. I've asked why, legally, I should be denied this right. I've asked how my marriage would affect theirs. They've never replied with anything more than a form letter assuring me that my opinion counts. I can only believe it's because they know deep down I'm right.

So I'm left feeling lost, not sure what to do, if anything can be done. And sad. Sad because of all that transpired throughout the California campaign. And sad because as we enter the holiday season, and as I think back on Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, Westminster Cathedral, all toured on our recent vacation, I have no charity, at least for now, for the church.

More Notre Dame, Ile de Saint Louis

Today, more pictures, less commentary.

There's metal work like this all over the cathedral. Again, the things in these buildings are every bit as fine as the architecture.
Neighborhoods all over Paris look like this, but the Ile de Saint Louis is markedly better maintained. I can't imagine how wonderful it would be to wake up here each morning.

Another shot inside Notre Dame.

The Cathedral from across the river.

Living in a neighborhood this beautiful, fresh flowers around the house would absolutely be necessary. There are florists like this all over the city, each of them this gorgeous. Click the picture to embiggen for even more gorgeousness.

Tomorrow, Sainte Chappelle and l'Arc de Triomphe.

Paris Pictures

We ended up with over 250 photos from the trip. I'd never force that on anyone, but I can certainly share some highlights.Shortly after we got to the apartment and got settled on day one, we trekked up the hill (the really steep hill) to Montmartre, and the basilica of Sacre Coeur, shown above. I read that the stone becomes harder and whiter over time. It really is very white, but it's hard to tell as it was a little bit overcast when this was taken.That evening we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Everyone has seen a picture, but it really is quite amazing when you're standing right there. On the hour the twinkling flash lights that debuted on New Year's Eve 1999 go off making the whole tower sparkle. If you happen to be up in the tower, or looking away, you know when it starts because the crowd cheers.

We went up to the first level and walked the perimeter, and here I am. On each side there's a panoramic photo of the view that points out the landmarks that can be seen in that direction. Probably a better proposition during the day because at night not much is lit.

Day two began with Notre Dame. Plenty of people, but not the sort of huge crowd I'd imagine in the warmer months. The weather, by the way, was pretty great. Crisp, but with plenty of periods when you really didn't need a jacket, and no unmanageable hordes of tourists. The cathedral was as amazing as I thought it would be. I mentioned to boyfriend that college professors really should encourage students in architectural survey courses to visit these monuments. Sitting in class watching the slide show is one thing, being there is something else entirely.

Inside and out, there's tons to see.

These buildings were designed to inspire, and they certainly do. What awes me even more is the engineering and craftsmanship poured into almost every surface and object. Beyond the architecture, the glass and the furniture is every bit as amazing.

Up next, more from Notre Dame, Ile de St. Louis, and Sainte Chappelle.