Sunday, August 23, 2009


That's what they say, anyway...all good things must come to an end. Does this always have to be true?

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, I'm sure you know about my partner, Andrew (thebuxstophere). We'd been together for almost 7 years. That good thing came to an end this week. We'd been having our issues for a while, but were taking steps to work on those. (or so I thought)

Now, I could sit here and rant all day about the reasons and circumstance around our breakup, but this isn't really the place for that. Besides, why would I bore all of you with our trivial problems.

Instead, I want to focus on the good that we had. I've spent some time being angry and trying to sort through the emotions that go along with a breakup and while I'm just in the beginning stages of all that, I've come to realize that being angry really doesn't serve anyone well and while it is a necessary emotion, truly is a waste of energy if not dealt with and then let go of.

I met Andrew in November of 2002. Sitting across that table from him, having dinner on our first date, I couldn't help but think, "how could I be so lucky?" This guy sort of just popped into my life just 1 week before in an internet chat room. When I first saw his picture, I was immediately taken buy his charming good looks. The olive skin and the dark brown eyes were certainly "my type". As our chats went on through that week, we made plans to meet and have dinner.

That was the beginning of what I feel was some of the best years of my life. We traveled together, we shared so much of our lives with one another. I met and developed a wonderful bond with his family. Though they were spread all the way across the country, his sister, Monica in New Jersey and his parents in Washington state, we all came together, usually a couple of times a year and had a wonderful time together. I was welcomed into the family right from the very start.

My family welcomed Andrew in different ways, but they welcomed him just the same. I'll never forget my Mom's words to me a few days after Andrew had dinner with my family for the first time. "he's a good eater." You see, that's what's important to my Mom. She raised a large family and the biggest compliment you could pay her is to sit down at her table and eat like you're hungry and then take seconds. She was pleased.
Later, when I shared my Mom's comment with Andrew, he wasn't really sure how to take it. We had a good laugh over it, but I think he understands what she meant.

Over the years we gave to each other in different ways. Andrew was always a very generous person with me. He would surprise me with vacations, concert tickets and even just little day trips to places he knew I'd like.
I gave to him in my own ways as well. Being raised with the father I have, I learned a lot of things about car maintenance, home improvement and basically just doing things for yourself rather than hiring it done. Over the years of doing things like that I got pretty good at it and that was one of the ways I gave to Andrew. Fixing his broken dryer when he was ready to haul it to the curb, replacing windows in his house, painting, fence building, kitchen remodels, wiring and basic home repair and upgrades. A lot of those things were done while we were living together, so I guess you could argue that they were actually done for both of us, but I like to think that they did mean something to him.

I guess my point is, we gave to each other in a lot of ways that were sincere and thoughtful - the way it should be in a relationship.

Unfortunately, issues that started out as minor were allowed to go unresolved between us and grew into larger problems to the point where they just couldn't be fixed. I feel truly saddened and regretful about that. We both share equally in letting things go unresolved and I hope we have both learned from our mistakes and won't repeat them in future relationships.

I've learned a lot from Andrew and I know he has learned a lot from me. Am I sad by our breakup? Of course, but I know the process of healing has to take place for both of us and after we've had our recovery time, I think we'll both look back at the past 7 years as a wonderful and very valuable experience for us both that neither of us will ever forget.

The one thing I am regretful of is the fact that due to circumstances around the end of our relationship, we will never be able to be friends or even speak to each other again for reasons we are both aware of.

So, as this long and uncomfortable process begins for me, I really want to thank a few very good friends for their emotional support and for just being there when they are needed most. They know who they are. Though they live across the country and while I can't physically feel their hugs, I know they are there and I can feel them emotionally.

Must all good things end? No. ALL good things do not end. Some do, but not all. Things that end are always replaced by the beginning of something else. Sometimes it's just difficult and takes a while to see it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Nope. Sorry.

It will ALWAYS be the Sears Tower.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


...but at least they are a little green.

Aren't they cute? And such a deal - buy two get one free!

These will grow to about 10-15 feet high and won't they look great with white Christmas lights?
We still plan to plant something smaller with a square or roundish shape alternating in between these. That will also help hide the ugly gas meters. Any suggestions?? This is the East side of the house so it gets full sun from morning to around 1-2 pm.

Here it is from another angle:Let's hear some ideas for the spaces in between...

Saturday, June 20, 2009



I read his blog everyday. It's where I get a lot of my news from the gay/political front. I've been reading Joe's blog for about 3 years now and I have read his PRIDE month re-post every June for those 3 years. It's a very inspiring post that makes me stop and think every year. I'm guessing that I'm not the only one who needs to be stopped at least once a year and reminded to be less judgmental of some of my fellow gay people out there who have been more visible in the community than I have; The people who have been fighting for our rights for years and have succeeded in reaching many milestones toward equal rights for the GLBT community.

If you already check Joe's blog everyday like so many do, you've likely already read it. In fact, you've likely read it several times. I won't re-print it here, but please go to Joe's site and read his annual PRIDE post. It's well worth the few minutes it takes to read it and hopefully you'll use it as a little reminder as well, to be less judging of people because of the clothes they wear, the color of their skin or hair, or how flamboyant they may be.

Oh, and happy PRIDE month, everyone!

Monday, June 08, 2009


Friday, June 13th, 2008 is a day I'll never forget. The Cedar River crested here, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at around 7am at over 31 feet above flood stage. Thousands of homes and businesses were already under water, which had been rising at a rate of 2 inches per hour over the past 24 hours. In the days prior, the city kept increasing the mandatory evacuation areas, spreading farther and farther out from the river because the water kept rising and no one really knew how high it was going to get.
Thousands of homes and hundreds of downtown businesses were destroyed.
A year later, a lot of people are still not settled back into homes. Many are still living in FEMA trailers and some still living with friends or relatives. Still others moved away after losing everything, to start new. For months after the flooding the post office had temporary mailboxes set up in a few locations around the city so the people whose homes were destroyed could still get their mail. Many of the people getting mail at these temp locations never picked up any mail. It was just assumed that they had moved away. No one really knows where, they just disappeared.
A few days prior to the river cresting, I and many others were sent home from work because one by one, the roads in and out of Cedar Rapids were being closed to all traffic due to the water. I remember driving home that afternoon around 2 pm and thinking, "it can't get much worse than this because if it does, there will be no way to get in or out of town". Well, it did get much worse. Just hours after I went home that day, this is what the highway that I drove home on looked like:

This is normally dry land, no river, no bridge, just dry land. When I took this road home the water was lapping at the sides of the road. It was like driving across an island. Little did I know it would end up this deep!
By the morning of June 13th the only road still open was Interstate 380 which runs north and south through the middle of Cedar Rapids and it was only open to the north. Southbound was closed.

This photo is of Mays Island which is an island in the river where our city hall, county courthouse and county jail are located. You can barely see the tops of the railings on the 3 bridges that cross the island. In the distance you can see the I-380 bridge, the only bridge that remained open during the flooding. This is the only way you could get from one side of Cedar Rapids to the other for several days. If that bridge had closed, it would have meant about a 2 hour drive to get from the north side of Cedar Rapids to the south side.

A few shots of downtown during the worst:

This one was taken from one of the many skywalks that connect buildings downtown. This is actually 4 blocks from where the river usually runs:

Among the casualties was a railroad bridge that had been standing for about 100 years. Here are before and after shots of that bridge:

The power of the rushing water was unbelievable. They had loaded the bridge with rail cars containing sand and rock in an effort to keep it in place. Even the immense weight didn't save the bridge from being taken out by the power of the water. Imagine what it did to many of the homes that sat along the river. Even a year later there are still neighborhoods where homes are moved completely off their foundations and garages are smashed up against houses.

Another example of how powerful the rushing water was:

A mile or so up river from the downtown area is a marina where people had boathouses docked. The high water broke many of them free and they floated downstream until they got caught on another railroad bridge just north of downtown. Since the flood last year, the city has banned any new boathouses on the river and has given owners a deadline to have them taken off the river. As you might imagine, this was not a very popular decision to the owners who have spent thousands of dollars and put in many hours of hard work into these.

The good news:

Today, being the one year anniversary of this disaster, there are several celebrations taking place in Cedar Rapids and other surrounding communities that were also effected by the flooding. Some people are slowly able to get back into their homes if they were lucky enough for FEMA to deem them safe to go back into. Thousands of homes were coded unsafe and will have to be torn down. Most of those homes still sit, but progress is beginning to be made.
At this point 80% of the businesses are back open downtown and many others are still working on their buildings preparing to reopen.
Some businesses have relocated to other parts of the city.

One success story is our favorite restaurant downtown called Zins. It had been open less than a year before they were forced to evacuate two days before the river reached it's crest. The flood waters, then destroyed everything inside the historic red brick building they were in.
I heard yesterday, that Zins opened back up on Thursday at 4:15pm. One year to the exact minute that they closed and sandbagged their doors in hopes of keeping the flood waters out. I can't wait to go back and show our support.

At the risk of sounding overly sentimental and mushy, even a year later my eyes still well up when I see videos and pictures of the devastation that the flood caused. I grew up in this city and know it very well and remember so many places that simply don't exist anymore.
It still boggles my mind to imagine how many people were effected by this disaster. In September Andrew and I moved into our new condo while others were still being built around us. As we meet new neighbors, we're finding that a lot of the people who live around us now, lost everything in the flood and these units were being built at just the right time for them. They are the lucky ones who were able to afford to move to a new place. Many people weren't as fortunate and are still in FEMA trailers or living with friends or relatives. But people are slowly getting back on their feet and Cedar Rapids is coming back. It will still be a long time before the reminders of the devastation can no longer be seen, but little by little, improvements are being made.
Here are a few more before and afters to show how far we've come:

Sunday, June 07, 2009


...And why does my head hurt so bad??

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I saw this on Joe My God's blog this morning.
Totally hilarious!