Sunday, December 27, 2009

A View of Christmas (Recently) Past

I'm not really a December holiday guy. Generally, the pre-holiday consumerism, greed of untrained children and the long lines to return the bounty the day after Christmas really just sort of suck. On the other hand, we have the return of the sun and, subsequently, longer days on the winter solstice. This is good. I also have the opportunity to spend some time with friends and family that we don't get to see as often as we should. So this is good, too.
Here are some highlights from this year's holidays with family:

1. The weekend before Christmas, Curt and I ventured to my sister's "cabin" (read huge ass house in the woods) near Lansing, IA. Her husband had been complaining about all the "Faith-Family-Friends" signage that my sister has collected and placed about the cabin. He said he wanted a sign of his own with all his favorite things. This is the result:
My sister's friend painted the sign. Take a look at the penis she painted. Curvy.
CENSORSHIP UPDATE: I had previously posted the full version of this picture, in which my brother-in-law is holding the sign and my sister is standing next to him making a bl*w j*b face. I discussed it with my sister, and although we both thought it was funny, we decided to take it down just in case one of her co-workers got a hold of it. She's a nun. Just kidding.

2. This is my sister with her two boys Tweedle-Dustin and Tweedle-Brandon. Their holiday tradition is fighting (literally) over their mother's chex mix- which is really unusually good. I think it is the cheese crackers she puts in there. Anyway, this year, they absconded with all of it on their way out. Bad piggys. Bad piggys.

3. Curt's clan all came over for Christmas day this year. How many people did we squeeze into our dining room? If you guessed 16, you're right. The rest of them sat in the lower level. Curt's clan is a great bunch. They all get along (a real bonus). The nieces and nephews are all reasonably well behaved. And, best of all, they are a lot of fun to hang out with.

4. Curt's clan still exchanges gifts. Lot's of gifts. There also is a fair amount of mischief in the gift giving. Here is niece Ashley with some thongs from her cousin. She made the mistake of telling her cousin she had to go commando one day because she didn't have any clean laundry. Wa la! A thoughtful Christmas present is born.

5. One of the more interesting family traditions are the two lingerie boxes that get passed around to unsuspecting victims. For about 25 years or more, there has been a Frederik's of Hollywood box that usually has a fun gift inside. After Curt's Dad died a few years back, a Victoria's secret box entered the rounds. The first year, it held a bubble pack of his dad's Viagra that the family found while cleaning out his condo. The next year, the bubble pack had one less pill in it. The following year, I got the box, with no Viagra but a pretty normal gift. So, when it came time to pass it on last year, I put some of my own personal lingerie in it and gave it to my sister in law Tammy. This year she passed it on to our niece Rachel with a few added adornments. Swanky. The kids called them granny panties. Nice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just In Time For the Holidays

This past weekend, Curt and I went to my sister Linda's "cabin" in the woods near Lansing, Iowa for my family's version of Christmas. At the big event, my sister served up some of the most amazing cheesy potatoes I've ever had. Curt and I made some for our friends when we returned home. Another big hit. The recipe is extremely easy to make. So, here is my (my sister's really, but who's keeping track) holiday gift to all of you:

Sister Linda's Kick Ass Pan of Cheesy Potatoes
(with color commentary by me)
2 lbs of hash browns
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
8 oz of sour cream
(NOTE: don't be a pussy and try to save calories or sodium on the cream of soups and sour cream. This is cheesy potatoes for god's sake. Let them be bad ass.)
1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter softened or even melted
8 oz of finely shredded cheddar cheese
(I used sharp cheddar. Use real cheese or I will call you a name.)
5-6 cups of Corn Flakes crushed
(Not Special K!)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a big bowl, mix the soups, sour cream, butter and cheese. Mix in the hash browns until they are well coated with cheesy, soupy mix. (Feel free to add some pepper or diced onions, too.)
3. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with Pam. Spread the potato mixture evenly in the pan and place in the pre-heated for 60 minutes.
4. Crush the cornflakes. Not to a dust, but a crumble.
5. At about 50 minutes of baking, pull the pan out and spread the cornflake crumbles on top of the potatoes and return to the oven to finish.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Am Not a Greasy Fingered Deer Hunter and Other True Stories

1. It has been deer season in Wisconsin for the last several weeks and I am not a deer hunter. For one thing, I am a big screaming girl when it comes to guns. I fear/hate them. For another, I think deer, while tasty as can be, are really stunning creatures. Yes, I know there are occasional periods of overpopulation and times that they attempt to eat all the buds off our yellow magnolia. I don't care. They are pretty and I can't shoot them. Eat them, yes. Shoot them, no.
Yet, I think the primary reason that I am not a deer hunter is male bonding. Getting up early, starting the day with 5 beers before loading the gun and talking about- I don't know what (help me out here straight guys)- with your buddies while walking the ditches just doesn't appeal to me. Even less appetizing is what happens after the hunt. Up at the cabin, we get a local news flyer called the Northwoods Shopper that is about 15 pages of business ads and classifieds. Well, let me tell you that during deer season the size jumps up to about 25 pages and is full of "alternate" activities aimed at the influx of deer hunters to the area. For example, a local resort had a special on rooms, a nice buffet and a beer bar. Nice. Okay.
Then there are the other establishments that offer even more interesting alternatives. There is a bar & grill down the road from our cabin about 3 miles called Gruzy's- with the "z" backwards. I guess that's like Cyndi the cyclops with an "i"- just to stand out, you know. During the summer, this place is like any other bar and grill, only with shit for service from the evil waitresses with push up bras to show off their stretch marked boob tattoos who will look at you like you just asked them to felch you if you request a fuzzy navel. (It's true. Ask Marina.) Anyway, what do you suppose this family friendly establishment offers during deer season? You're right if you guessed women's oil wrestling on Tuesday night and exotic dancers Thursday. C-l-a-s-s-y. And you wonder why I'm not a deer hunter. Ladies, don't let your men tell you that they hang out playing cards and drinking beer. Oh no. They are getting greazy- with a backwards "z"- fingers while tipping scantily clad women dripping with french fry oil. Not for me. Not even a little.

2. This past weekend, Curt had a volleyball tournament. So I figured why not go up to the cabin with the pooches and hang out. So what does a real man do at the cabin by himself? He hooks the iPod up to the TV and re-watches the entire season of Glee thus far. He organizes a cabin scrapbook with pictures of all our guests to date. And, of course, he gives himself a facial. (Not that kind of facial, Dean, but I'm flattered you think I'm that flexible any more.) This weekend I brought up a all purpose anti-aging scrub, various creams and lotions and an activated charcoal mask. While waiting for the charcoal mask to dry, which is pitch black, I wandered around the cabin a bit, worked on the scrapbook a bit, started a little kitchen prep, then suddenly got a little paranoid. The thought crossed my head that if I were to cut myself badly with a kitchen knife or fall down the stairs and break my neck, the EMTs or sheriff would find me injured or dead with what would appear to be blackface on. "Chubby Gay in Blackface Dies In Tragic Scrapbooking Accident" would be the headline. Gads. I carefully approached the sofa, waited for the mask to finish drying, carefully headed to the bathroom and rinsed my potentially offensive face off.

3. Speaking of potentially offensive, what I am about to say in print may piss you off. It may not too. I was not saddened one bit to hear that Oral Roberts died today. This man claimed to glorify God, but all anyone can see are monuments (some failed- law school, medical center, etc.) that he named after HIMSELF, a history of financial scams against his followers and putting his scheister son in charge of a university where he absconded with about $50 million that was spent on his luxurious lifestyle. And still the man is revered. Pull your heads out of your asses people. Recognize a fraud. Lots of lousy shit has been done in the name of God. Know it when you see it. Call a duck a duck. Enough said. Another dinosaur extinct. Good riddance.

4. It was reported this week that drinking coffee may be good for the prostate. If so, I have a really, really healthy prostate. I hope.

5. On the health front, my fabulous hematologist Dr. M. told me that there is a clinical trial going on at Mayo for my genetic mutation that has been having really great results. So great that it appears that the mutant gene becomes inactive and many participants are completely asymptomatic. So, I have a choice. I'm doing pretty well on maintenance blood work and blood lettings and can continue that. This risk is progressive bone marrow scarring, which if it gets far enough could be not very good news at all. Or, I could try to get into the clinical trial. However, I wouldn't know for sure that I wasn't in the control group. And, if I was getting the real stuff, I could grow a second head or a third nipple or something since the side effects aren't well known. Hmmmm. What would you do? Not a nice blog topic, but there you go.

6. It appears that we may miss the deadline again this year for sending out holiday cards. If that happens, I want to say in advance "Happy Holidays!!"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More Miscellany

If I could stay focused on one topic long enough to compose more than a paragraph or two, I wouldn't have to subject you to these damn lists. But I can't, at least today. So here's another list for you.

1. Why on earth would any human being in 2009 still believe that a mullet is an acceptable form of self expression? I believe even rugby playing lesbians have retired that look in favor of the plain old flat top. I typically wouldn't give a mullet any air time, but here is what Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings has to say about mullets:

Party with two Rs? Extra mayo? Okay. Fine.

2. It took about two weeks before Curt and I both slept through the night after witnessing and assisting with a horrible accident scene at the beginning of the month. We were both a little surprised at how deeply it affected us. I think the thing that has changed the most for me is I've become a little less judgemental. We helped to care for the boy who caused the accident after he was launched from his truck. He was alive but basically dead from the massive head injury. Yes, he was likely distracted. Yes, he was an inexperienced driver. Yes, he killed a father and his only son. But, he was some one's son and brother and only 18 and he didn't mean to do it. It was indeed an accident. In the days that followed, the message boards were filled with hateful messages- glad that the boy was dead, that he should burn in hell, that he deserved to die. Unbelievable. Before the accident, I probably would have had a similar reaction- judging those who cause accidents harshly. Now, I pause, give it some thought, and try to think compassionately about things. Do I still get angry that people drive drunk, drive poorly while doing their makeup or talking on their cell phones? You bet. It is a difficult place for me to find some balance, but I"m trying.

3. I heard today about a winter snow warning for southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. The first thing that came to mind was worry that my dad my slip and hurt himself outside. I still do it 18 months after my died dad and it makes me miss him. I'm not sure sometimes that I was a great son. We didn't see eye to eye on some things or have much to talk about. I was often impatient and frustrated with him. But, I loved him and he knew it. I just wish there had been more time to let him know.

4. Saturday was a marvelous cookie extravaganza at our house with MNMom and me. Though my chocolate crinkles were crap again this year, everything else turned out pretty darned good. For a taste of adventure, I let MNMom's 15 year old twin #2 take the wheel to go pick up our pizza while MNMom finished some baking. Even though I threatened to scream bloody murder all the way there and back, I must say that I am a very cool cucumber when it comes to this sort of thing. I think twin #2 would say so as well. She's also a very good, responsible driver. So that made screaming less important.

5. My seasonal depression is kicking my big jello ass. So, I have been dragging my butt to the gym, taking vitamin D supplements and trying to eat better, which seems to help. In May of 2008, I went off my antidepressants for the first time since 1990 and have been managing to keep myself afloat even through some pretty rough patches. How many days until winter solstice? About 15. That's right. When the days start getting longer, I start getting happier. That's just how I roll.

6. I am on the project from hell at work. 7 vendors, no formally documented requirements and my team is supposed to start testing on the 15th. How am I supposed to pull this off? Well, according to the project manager, I am supposed to just be laid back and go with the flow. WRONG ANSWER, BUCKO! WRONG ANSWER!

7. I pulled off a pair of socks that stunk to high heaven the other day. It reminded me of my college friend Thomas who never had a problem finding creative ways to tell me the truth. It was he who told me that my feet were "foul vinegar hooves". This phrase has stuck with me for 25+ years now and I use it whenever I can.

8. Vikings are on. Better go. Can't miss Jared Allen and that sexy mullet. It is amazing he gets laid.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Little Something For You

If these guys aren't gay, then they earn honorary status for their sense of fun and flair. Get ready for the big costume change at about 3:00 and again 30 seconds later. Woo hoo!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Welcome White Boy to the Blog Role

Please welcome a new entry to my blog role "White Boy From Wisconsin." Woo hoo! No, this is not a white supremacist, Hamms drinking typical white boy from Wisconsin. Oh no. This is an old college chum who is frighteningly smart (think Fulbright), a great writer, very entertaining and insightful. Please, pay him a visit. (And best of all he's promised me a nickel for every referral.) Click away!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

If I Were Dorothy...

I would have felt the same way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

53% of Maine Residents Are Morons

[Note: If you are a conservative christian and don't want to be pissed off, stop reading here.]

Wow. I shouldn't still get surprised by anything that conservative christians will do to force their beliefs on others, but I am. Take Maine for instance where Stand for Marriage Maine, heavily funded by the conservative christian movement narrowly repealed the gay marriage law. The whole campaign was based on lies and fear mongering to people who can't think for themselves. Sadly there are a LOT of those people out there still. Here are just some of the lies that are on the Stand for Marriage Maine website. (You should also watch the TV promos while you're there. Unbelievable.)

Lie: Vote Yes on 1 protects [marriage] as an essential institution that has benefited mankind since the beginning of time.
Truth: Since the beginning of time?? Get a grip. The version of marriage to be protected here- monogamous between one man and one woman- is a relatively recent invention. Gosh, if you consult the BIBLE- which, according to the science bashing conservative christians IS the beginning of time- you will see clearly that Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and others all had multiple wives. Why aren't you getting polygamy on the ballot? If, as you lying bastards believe, the bible is the indisputable word of god, then you better believe all of it.

Lie: Every culture in the world understands that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Truth: Have you heard of the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, South Africa, Norway or Sweden? Those cultures believe that gays and lesbians should have the same legal standing in marriage as heterosexuals. Or don't they count?

Lie: Maine citizens from all walks of life and backgrounds, whether religious or not, agree that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Truth: 47% of Maine voters believe otherwise.

Lie: [If same sex marriage is permitted] Maine will have abandoned its commitment to promote monogamous marriage as a foundation of society and an important policy to enrich Maine families. The interests of children in ensuring healthy marriages will be eliminated.
Truth: Did the Maine legislature allow for polygamy when it voted for gay marriage rights? NO. How will children be harmed if gays and lesbians are afforded the same legal rights as heterosexuals. THEY WON'T. Research shows that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are just as healthy as those raised by heterosexual parents. (But we aren't even talking about that here. ) These fear tactics are so very typical of the divisive behavior of these so-called christians. If Maine wanted to protect marriage "as a foundation of society", THEY WOULD HAVE OUTLAWED DIVORCE!! And here's what Jesus says about that in Matthew 5:32 "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. " Look it up. Then look in your own church to see who the adulterers are and prevent THEM from remarrying.

Lie: If the gay marriage law takes effect, teachers could have little choice but to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage and parents could lose control over what their kids learn in school about marriage.
Truth: NOTHING in the law passed by the state legislature of Maine dictates that teachers would have to say ANYTHING about marriage to their students. Yet, isn't it funny that these christian nut bags attack school boards across the country to force the teaching of creationism in favor of evolution. It never fails to amaze me that these hypocrites say that gay marriage is forcing our "lifestyle" upon them. Yet, when we say we don't want christian teaching in our schools (because, let's face it, the non-christians might get offended) we are christian bashing. F*cking hypocrites. And we know Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrisy. Look it up, bitches.

I am so weary of this fight. I am so weary of the lies that are told in the name of Jesus. I am so sick of the focus that conservative christians have placed on gays and lesbians in order to maintain their culture of fear and divisiveness. I am sick about the amount of money raised to prevent me from having the same legal privileges (not rights folks, privileges) that are afforded couples who happen to be heterosexual that could have been used to help people improve their lives. I don't profess to be a religious person, but I do know enough about the philosophy of Jesus to understand that the conservative christian movement is an extremist perversion of christianity and I think they've got a big surprise waiting for them. Peace and love are hard to find in the crazy rantings of today's talabanic christians. What a shame. I trust karma and the universe enough to know that one day these hypocritical ass hats will be dinosaurs. One by one they will fade into obscurity. Buh bye. Can't come soon enough.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stacy Grabbed My Junk And Other Reunion Stories

This past weekend, I went back to Decorah for my 25th high school class reunion. I know. I look too young. I couldn't believe it myself. A lot of people don't look forward to their reunions. We are fortunate to have a really fun class to get together with- and at only 150 in the class, we really know pretty much everyone. I was so proud of myself for staying up until 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. It was almost as good as a parade. So, here are some highlights.

Ruthie was my hostess for the weekend and put me up at her house. You probably all know that Ruthie and I have known each other for almost 40 years after she appeared in the culvert with some Barbie dolls all those years ago. Yes, we played in the ditch and in the culverts in Iowa. As you can see, Ruthie is fun to hang with and I adore her.

Ruthie is prone to singing. She can't help it. She is genetically pre-disposed. Her entire family is inclined to burst into song at the mere suggestion of a lyric. So, Ruthie spent the entire weekend cajoling people to sing with her- Beatles songs, old choir tunes, songs we learned in 1st grade. If she had the chorus and remnants of verses, she burst into song. Here is Ruthie coaching people on old choir songs at the reunion pre-party on Friday night.
Here are Ruthie and Aimie doing a luau number called Hawaiian Rainbows that we learned in elementary school. I'm telling you, it was non-stop and only intensified with alcohol. As a result, Ruthie sang A LOT on Friday night. A LOT.


We weren't a terribly diverse class back in Decorah in 1984. Rich above and Shegun- two pictures up- were about it. That's kind of sad when you think about how white the town was. Before Rich and Shegun, the only diversity we had was between the blond and brown haired Norwegians. *sigh* We had some other diversity that emerged later- me and a lesbian- but that doesn't count because we weren't out then. We only had 50% representation from the homo camp. However, one classmate's wife could have easily stood in for a lesbian. She's, well, a little, you know... butch. And she smelled like Old Spice. Okay. She didn't smell like Old Spice. I'm making that up.

You can probably tell just from this picture that Stacy (left) has a lot of fun potential. Saturday night, Stacy was having a lot of fun mixed with a little alcohol. Much dancing and merriment ensued. During my moving group karaoke rendition of Like a Virgin, Stacy joined us on the stage and grabbed my genitals briefly with her right hand. It was only a split second, but enough for me to need therapy for the next several years. Stacy, if you're reading this, wash your hands and know that I still think you're a ball- just don't grab at mine any more. Alright?

Since my personal safety and decades long friendship would be in jeopardy for posting this picture, I have decided to protect the identity of this woman. This display was a reenactment attempt of the Dance of The Virgin to try to seduce her husband to take the dance floor. Sadly, the steps had long since been forgotten and said husband remained in his chair.

Lisa showed me her ass tattoo again. And for the second reunion in a row, I took a picture of it. Here it is. Your ass is just as nice five years later, dear.

Is it just me, or do we look GREAT? My pal Suzette, on the right, and I sat around marvelling at how good we look for all being 43 or 44. It's true. Aimie even got called a MILF by some college boys. Even though there is some hair missing or a few pounds thrown on here and there, we all looked really good for our age. Best of all, we still know how to have fun together.
I discovered early in the weekend that not many people knew what the term tea bagging is. So, I entertained myself by asking people I suspected of being conservative if they enjoyed the Glenn Beck tea bagging parties. Oh, how I amuse myself.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crabby Ranting

Watch this. This is our nut bag 6th District state Representative Michele Bachmann. If you have time watch the whole thing. She's a piece of work.

There are so many things to say about Michele Bachmann and her unique brand of paranoia and lunacy. I used to think that she couldn't possibly believe all the lies, hatred and craziness that spew forth from her collagen enhanced lips and that she was a clever, calculating Republican hag. Now, though, I think she is just plain crazy and she does it all in the name of Jesus. Will someone who really believes in Jesus stand up and slap Michele and her lying conservative pals? It should sicken followers of Jesus that Michele and her cohorts wave the Jesus flag then fabricate lies for the American people to keep them in fear of anything that resembles change. Who believes this shit? Oh wait, that's coming up later.

A few notes for Jamie, the young woman who wrote the letter that Bachmann read in that irritating children's story time voice:

1. The clinic did not advise you or give you permission to CHOOSE to be sexually active at age 14. You CHOSE that. The clinic gave you protection- for your personal safety.

2. But, judging by the number of times you CHOSE to go back for the morning after pill, you clearly didn't CHOOSE to use that protection. Sounds like you also CHOSE to sleep with lots and lots and lots of boys. Bad CHOICE.

3. You also CHOSE to ignore the advice of your parents. Although, I'm guessing your parents probably weren't the great parents you paint them to be. Not many girls sleep around at age 14 without something seriously missing in the home. Just saying. Unless, of course, Jamie, you are mentally ill, which might be the case.

4. The clinic staff are not your parents. Your parents needed to take responsibility for parenting you. Too bad they didn't.

5. Don't blame the health clinic that offered you protection from your bad CHOICES for your bad CHOICES. You did it. You own it. Personal accountability- a Republican value- is about taking responsibility for your own CHOICES. Own them, forgive yourself and move on. Don't try to point the finger at anyone for this. There are lots of young girls who are curious about sex, have those feelings and CHOOSE not to. Yes, you were young and probably not in a great position at that age to figure life out, but they were your choices. Move on.

I heard a conservative commentator on NPR talking about all that Michele Bachmann is doing to stimulate the Republican base. Holy shit. Is THAT really what it takes to stimulate the Republican base- fabrication and exaggeration? Then we should all be scared. Who are these people that buy in to this? Watch this:

Listen, folks who believe the never ending stream of bullshit:
1. if a politician- Democrat or Republican- says something that sounds too terrifying to be true it probably is not true. But, if Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity say anything that sounds too terrifying to be true, it definitely is not true.
2. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are not the news. They are entertainment. They will be the first to tell you that. Believe me, folks, they are laughing at you all the way to the bank. These guys are not stupid men, they just know how to spin people who choose to live in fear of, oh let's say a black president, into a froth.
3. Nazism, Socialism and Fascism are really kind of opposing principles. Fucking look it up. You are viewed by much of the world as MORONS for trying to equate the three.
4. Think for yourself. Can you try it at least? It is entirely possibly for two opposing opinions to have elements of truth. Not all issues are black and white. There exists far more gray in the world than pure black or pure white. You just have to agree to host ambiguity in your brain.
5. Don't be afraid. That black man in the White House won't hurt you.

6. Oh, and that black man hasn't raised your taxes. Quit it. He hasn't. And George Bush likely didn't cut yours either unless you're filthy rich.

Okay. Enough of my bitching for now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Love A Parade: Cranberry Festival

This weekend, we had Curt's mom and step dad and our friend Marina up to the cabin. Why? Cranberry Festival in Stone Lake. Why not? As you know, I love a parade, especially a small town festival's parade. The whole festival took place in a town that has about 500 residents. Saturday, the population was about 15,000. This festival was nice, because it felt local and home grown. On a bog tour, we got a brief history of the Cranberry Festival parade. I guess it started 30+ years ago when four local women "sitting around their kitchen table" (here you should read, drinking too much) went outside and started a four person parade and encouraged everyone to join in. Hmmm.
So, every parade needs grand marshalls. I think everyone in this town will eventually get to be grand marshall at some point. I didn't catch their names because I was distracted by the sparkly car decoration.

Check out the flaming grill on this fire vehicle. Fancy.

These were the Senior Center King and Queen. The queen was hanging out her window waving vigorously. The old guy sat back, less enthused, and was probably thinking about the shitty food they're serving at the old folks home and wondering if he can make a break for the pork chop on a stick stand.

King Tot and his Cranberry Court. Remember these kids from the Spooner Rodeo Days parade where they looked all hot and miserable? They were a little more enthusiastic this time. Someone must have read them my blog comments from their last appearance. See that little girl in the red robe on the right? I later saw her drinking water from a frisbee like a dog. Love her.

MAN OF THE YEAR!! MAN OF THE YEAR!! Tom McDonnell. Do you know him? Me either. Nice car though.

This is one of the three marching bands. Three is a pretty darn good turn out in this economy when schools are selling children into the sex trade for football uniforms. Or at least that's the rumor in Glenn Beck circles.

Okay. Let me ask you this. Would you want to be forever known as a Musky Queen? I've met some rather musky queens in my day and it is not a title I would want to be saddled with. However, I have to give them credit, because, unlike all the sad sack queens in the Spooner Rodeo Days Parade, these queens were having a great time.

Here is another queen having a great time in a dress that completely clashes with her float. Good job pushing through that fashion mishap, I say.

Yet another marching band. I love it when the percussion sections go by. I loved that when I was a kid, too. It was like I could feel the vibrations throughout my body.
One of these cub scouts hasn't earned his posture badge yet. Can you guess which one? So, this little display of scoutiness was nice, but look at the atrocity that followed behind them (see below):
This old thing! He wasn't fooling anyone in that dusty rose neckerchief. One day the scout master is going to figure out that this guy isn't the 10 year old he's pretending to be and then all hell is sure to break loose.

And still yet, another marching band. We love the marching bands.

These old gals fall squarely in the category of "Fun at a Party." Perhaps a little too fun. We figured that the pink ladies were like the Red Hat Society only with lots and lots of liquor. Maybe a little weed too.

This is more like it. While the Spooner Rodeo Days Parade had their own version of politics, Cranberry Festival had politics more to my liking. And who doesn't like likeable politics?
Here is the Singing Cranberry. He serenaded us with songs like "Ain't I Tart?" and other catchy numbers. He was a real highlight of the parade for me, until you see what's coming up later.

Recognize these gals from Spooner? They didn't even bother to dress up, but they sure waved a lot better than last time. Again, someone must have read them my last blog post. I guess I'm performing a public service here?
Don't bother to analyze this, but this was the highlight of the parade for me. I loved, loved, loved it. It was completely unpretentious and homespun and it made me smile when it drove by. A horse tank, riding lawn mower and an outdoor umbrella. I guess I am easy to please.
This was a great float from a plumbing company. The guys were sitting on toilets with their pants down around their ankles throwing candy over the top. The woman standing next to me was a complete stranger, but I dared her to go see what the boys were wearing under the stall door. So, there she is checking out the boys. I've never seen a woman with a cane run so fast. Larry Craig would have been proud of her technique. She was a gem.
Here's the cutest candy tosser in the parade. Funny thing though- she was not letting go of that candy.
All in all a great parade and a fun day. The soap box derby followed the parade. We got to see 10 year old Megan in her lavender car kicking the boys' butts down a big hill. Cool.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Here's A Bone. Poor Blog.

Well, my poor, neglected blog called me up whining for some attention. I've been either too busy to write anything or afraid I might truly offend some thinking conservatives while taking down their ignoramus "death panel" friends a notch. More on that to come, rest assured. Today, however, I serve up a mish mash of randomness that is floating around in my giant Scandinavian cabbage head this a.m.

1. Speaking of thinking conservatives, I sit next to one at work. We disagree on just about everything imaginable. Her hot topic is being pro-life. I am pro-choice. But, can we find common ground in our opposing views? Absolutely. She is VERY religious. I am not. But, do we find some common ground in our values on which to base our conversations and a personal connections? Yes. What is the difference here between this dear woman and the loud mouth idiots featured so prominently on the news? She is interested in and respects the opinions of others while maintaining steadfastly to her own. She respects all people and seeks to find that place where reasonable conversations can be held. She, rather than claiming to be Christian and behaving like a boob, is a Christian with values that are in line with the teachings of Jesus (yes, boobs, that is what you're supposed to be doing- LOVING not hating and dividing) and she recognizes the hypocrisy of of the aforementioned others. That's enough on that topic. I love her to pieces.

2. I need to make some time next year to go back to El Salvador to build more houses. I think I left a piece of my heart in that little village last year. Every time I look at my pictures and recall the time I spent there, I get quite teary. Anyone want to come with me?

3. Speaking of teary, I have been missing my mom and dad like crazy. I think now that the bulk of the family drama is over, some more grieving for my dad is surfacing. Showing my folks pictures from our trip to Europe would have been fun. Some of it I imagine is seasonal. I'm always weepy in the fall, but mostly I miss my parents.

4. Must lose 50 lbs before our class reunion in October. F*ck!

5. Even though I am fatter than I want to be and it frustrates me to no end, I have LOTS to be insanely grateful for. I have a job that, though hard sometimes, doesn't require me to leave my soul at the door. Though I would like to see them more, I have good friends who would take a bullet for me. (We'll test that theory the next time I offend someone at a health care rally.) I have a marvelous and extreeeeeemely patient partner who puts up with so much of my shit that I don't believe it most days. We have not one but two homes, when someone I love very much is struggling to find one. We have two absolutely astounding critters in our home that every day bring us more and more joy. I am wildly fortunate.

6. I am failure averse and it holds me back. I don't care so much about advancing at work and taking risks there. I don't have much more aspiration in that regard. This is more on a personal and creative level. Lots of dreams, but spooked. Working on that.

7. I heard a story about someone that I have no love for who is sort of on the verge of self destructing right now. This person just really bugs the shit out of me and is selfish and cruel. I figured this day might come and always imagined that I would feel smug and righteous. To my surprise, I felt sad for this person with a hint of compassion. Does that make me a grown up?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Care Reform: Glad to Get This Off My Chest

I have very quickly gotten quite ill with the "debate" over health care reform recently. Actually, this is not a debate at all. It is a shouting match. Well, not even a shouting match so much because a match would presume that both sides are shouting. No, truth is that it is "patriotic" Americans from one side of the aisle shouting over the top of anyone who supports the radical notion that all Americans should have access to health care without fear of bankrupting themselves. These loud Americans call what they are doing the democratic process, yet when the other side of the aisle shouted about the lies told that got us into Iraq it was called Un-Democratic , Un-American and downright dangerous to our national security. Clearly Democracy is all about the loudest dissenters drowning out the voice of anyone with whom they disagree, then putting a folksy, flag waving spin on it to keep unthinking Americans uninformed and really only interested in the Jerry Springer entertainment value of the whole thing.

So, in the spirit of "debate", here are my objections to some of the common objections about health care reforms:

1. Whine #1: Death panels
This is completely a falsehood and I am embarrassed for Sarah Palin because she is incapable of being embarrassed for herself. Even Republicans know that this is not part of the bill, but since Sarah's display of ignorance has gotten so much press and generated so much furor among the uninformed, no one is backing down from it. End of life counseling -living wills, medical intervention orders, end of life wishes- is a voluntary choice in the bill. (Now being withdrawn from the bill because of misinterpretation by idiots.) Once every 5 years, a person can voluntarily seek out a doctor to discuss end of life issues and get help drawing up their end of life wishes. The plan would pay for this service every five years. A few years back, my doctor and I sat down and had a frank discussion about my end of life wishes (which, in case you're curious are in a box under the desk in the office). It was an awkward conversation, because these are tough decisions. That said, I want control over who makes my decisions when I am incapacitated (Curt), what level of care will be provided (pull the plug) and how my remains are disposed of (cremation, and I don't care where you put me after that). A panel of doctors didn't decide this for me and they won't decide it for you in any government funded system. Duh.

2. Whine #2: I won't be able to choose the doctor that I want.
Honey, go look at your current health care plan if you are fortunate enough to have one. Do you need to choose a network or primary clinic as a requirement of this plan? Unless you are a senator with about 16 health plan choices, I'm reasonably certain that you can't see just any old doctor you want, without paying out of network fees. Similar concept with health care reform. You will likely have a choice of network or primary clinic. No where does it say that some bureaucrat will be randomly assigning you to a clinic. Think for yourself here.

3. Whine #3: I won't be able to get in to see a doctor when I choose.
Can you now? If you can, you are lucky. I have to wait several days sometimes for an appointment and I've got pretty damn good coverage. In fact, when I was on anti-depressants, I had to schedule appointments with my shrink 4 months in advance because, like most shrinks, they have a single day or two of coverage at each clinic they work from. Also, the current state of not getting to see a doctor when one chooses also contributes to the ridiculous number of emergency room visits for non-emergencies, which drives up health care costs for all of us. Typically these non-emergency visits come from people who don't have any insurance, or from under-employed/under-insured who can't leave work during work hours to see a doctor because their employers are dicks.

4. Whine #4: We will be no better than Canada.
What the f*ck is wrong with Canada? We talk about Canada in many regards like they are a third world pariah. Enough of that. Really listen next time when health care objectors get on Meet the Press or other news programs and mention the state of Canadian health care. All their objections are based on hearsay about what happened to a friend of a friend of a friend who was denied a specific treatment. Anecdote and hearsay do not represent the state of health care in Canada. Which leads to the next whine...

5. Whine #5: I don't want anyone choosing for me which medical procedures I have done.
Wake up, dear. What do you think the insurance companies do for you? Most clinics in this country are set up so that you never have to see the insurance pre-approval process for most procedures. The only time you ever hear about it is if it is not covered and you have to pay out of pocket, or the service is denied. Then we get into situations like all the scary anecdotes coming out of Canada about insurance companies denying needed services. And, don't tell me there aren't a LOT of complaints about our current system for anecdotes just like these. Lots.

6. Whine #6: This is going to cost the country too much money.
Yes. This is going to cost the country a lot of money. Our current health care system and government funded systems (Medicare/Medicaid) already have costs that are spiraling out of control. We taxpayers are already taking it in the ass for Medicare/Medicaid. Why not do something that will help control overall costs AND provide coverage to the under insured and uninsured?

But, let's face it folks. Most people who object to health care reform really just hate the working class and the poor. You just don't want to get everyone on a reasonably level playing feel because that would make you less special, less entitled. Most Americans are so incredibly greedy and selfish that the thought of actually just raising taxes by one iota of one percent so that all Americans can have access to health care makes them cringe. You believe that the poor are not just like you, that their values of faith and family must be flawed, that if they would only pull themselves up by their bootstraps then they would be better people, that they are just fundamentally so different that you couldn't possibly imagine doing anything to help them. Yet, most of you are one paycheck away, one layoff away from being in their ranks. Then who are you going to blame? And when you find yourself in the situation where you have no health care coverage and need assistance, are you going to be angry? Are you going to say that you're a (formerly) hard working American who DESERVES health care? Hmmm. If it takes you blowhards losing your jobs to find yourselves in this situation, then may the misfortune rain down upon you so that you will wake up and realize that everyone, even the poor and different, deserve access to health care.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Blog Miscellany

1. A few weekends back we had a marvelous crew up to the cabin. Jeff and Aldo came in from San Francisco and Carolyn and Jeff came up from Rochester. Here are some pictures.
Enjoying the pontoon. When the weather is nice, we spend more time on the docked pontoon than just about anywhere else. This particular evening the crew got lucky when a group of deer and wild turkey came down to the lake for drinks.
Our first cabin rainbow. I don't need to explain why we were excited, even if it was just a partial rainbow.
This is what happens when a guest's loon calling more closely represents the call of another of god's creatures. You know who you are. Practice might not make perfect, but it won't call the dolphins.
This is our favorite eatery in Minong- The Longbranch. The long branch is home to Nikki, Nikki and Trixie- our fabulous wait staff. The food is pretty darn good but their great service keeps us coming back.

2. We stayed home this weekend. It was our first weekend home since the beginning of May.

Between thunderstorms, I went to the farmer's market. I love the farmers market this time of year- so many great colors and smells. I have missed it with all our cabin weekends and was thrilled to take it in.
Here I am at the Uptown Art Fair. Okay, you can tell that's not me because I don't have a scorpion tattooed by my navel. Actually, this is a life size "sculpture" but I just call it creepy. I don't know that the artist ever sells anything, but he sure draws a crowd. The artist strikes me as a little off- maybe necrophiliac or something. I didn't want to get too close, though I'm not dead yet so probably needn't worry.

3. I saw a beige squirrel on Saturday. I've seen gray, red, black and white, but never beige. It was pretty, but strange. Today we saw a gray squirrel with a big white, furry tip on its tail. This was our lucky squirrel weekend.

4. There is a great editorial about the "birthers" in the Star Tribune today. Birthers are the whack jobs that, despite all evidence to the contrary, continue to try to prove that President Obama wasn't born in Hawaii. The gist of the opinion piece was that these "birthers" are just masking their racism. I couldn't agree more. We have a president whose skin is darker than yours. Get the f*ck over it.

5. The job is frustrating and I'm thinking of seeing a career counselor. My brother tells me that if my goal is to make a high hourly rate, it would likely involve a hand job. He's terribly supportive.

6. 25 more days and we'll be on our way to our Mediterranean cruise. Doesn't seem real yet, but it will the night before when I've lost my passport and am scrambling and cursing while packing. Perhaps this trip I'll do some thoughtful planning.
7. Physical fitness is a problem. Not for everyone, but it is for me. I've been too mentally wrecked after work to do much of anything but be a lay about. *sigh* Must change.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cabin Pride

I know there are a lot of uber conservative freaks out there who think they have an idea of what the gays do when they get together- most of which is their fantasy, not ours. So, for my gentle readers, I have documented what utter depravity can happen when about 40 or so gay men and two very patient lesbians get together in the north woods of Wisconsin for Cabin Pride. On with the sickness and depravity:

These two are our friends Peter and Duane, co-hosts of the Cabin Pride festivities. Curt and I have known them for about 10 years. Wonderful guys who love dogs and have a cabin about 25 minutes from our own. Here is how the day went:

10:00 A.M.: Brunch at Peter & Duane's neighbors, Doug and Bill. Of course we had brunch. The gays invented brunch and we are proud of it.

11:00 A.M.: Parade!! Yes, we love a parade. This one was small but had many elements of bigger more populated parades. Here are some highlights.Every gay parade must start with a dyke on bike. This was no exception. This was Nell, of Nell & Laurie who live up the road from Doug & Bill. They are the sweetest things you could ever meet. She and Laurie have had a cabin in the woods for over 20 years. We're going to take them out bar hopping in Minong some evening. We might get in early that night as there are three bars in town, four if you count Grandma Links, which is like Perkins with beer.

Flag corps!! Fabulous! They spent several minutes before the parade started practicing their choreography and it showed. What they lacked in precision, they made up for in enthusiasm.
At the end of the cul de sac, they gave us some thrilling moves set to music. It consisted mostly of one guy barking out commands like "Circle! Flags up! Flags down! Maypole! Maypole!" and the others obeying. It was fun and lovely.
Every gay parade must have royalty. This was Ruby, Queen of the Bogs, from Stone Lake, WI, home of Cranberry Festival. She threw craisins instead of candy.
What Wisconsin event would be complete without a meat raffle? This gentleman was advertising for the event that would happen later in the day.
Here is the one and only float titled "Wisconsin Bait & Ballet." I'm not sure how the two go together, but it was a pretty float. The crowd went wild.
After several years of this, the straight neighbors had to join in. These are the token heterosexuals blowing kisses to the crowd.
12:00: GAMES!!If there are children watching, this would be the point where you might want to turn their little eyes away, because things get really out there and sick at this point. In this game, one partner had to put a plastic cup on his head, while the other partner had to blow a pink marshmallow out a tube with the objective of knocking the glass off the other's head. And they did this right out before God and everyone! Can you imagine?
Next was the water balloon toss. Here is Curt catching a water balloon. I had to use the sports setting on my camera to capture the fast paced action.

Here are more water balloon catchers.
2:00: Floating in the lake. CANCELLED due to crappy, cold weather. Instead, most of the crowd descended on a bar called the Crow Bar that is about 5 miles from anywhere on a highway somewhere in Wisconsin.
I was a little wary about 40 gay men just dropping in to take over their volley ball court and bar. But, you know what? Not one person in that bar deep in rural Wisconsin even flinched when we showed up, even the big guys with their mean looking girlfriends. The bartender even brought out two free rounds of frozen pudding shots for the crowd. And of course, the gays loved the place because mixed drinks were only $2 for regular liquor and $2.50 for top shelf liquor.
The bar even provided us with Polish horseshoes. I like that bar.
4:00: Meat raffle!!
The meat raffle was held back at Peter and Duane's place. It was basically meat bingo, but we let them call it a raffle anyway. Of course, the crowd went wild every single time O-69 was called. It's a tradition I guess.
After the meat raffle, was a fantastic dinner put together by Peter & Duane, followed by karaoke and dancing. Curt and I skipped out after dinner to go take care of the dogs. All in all a very satisfying day with very kind, fun people. How sick and twisted is that?