Sunday, November 26, 2006


It's Sunday. The day of rest. One of my few days off to just do nothing. I have a whole house to clean. I have Christmas lists to write. The kids are here today and I should be spending time with them. Let me see...what else can I think of as a good excuse to not rake?

We learned our lesson last year when it came to raking. We raked the leaves into several piles with good intentions of bagging up the piles for leaf pick-up. Then it snowed. The piles stayed there for the entire winter. In spring when the snow was gone, the leaves were still there, now wet and packed down on top of the grass. That's when we decided to pick them up. We did and under them was nothing. the grass had completely died. So, we had about 5 large circles of dirt spaced out across the lawn. It looked like we had crop circles, only not as perfect and not in interesting designs. It took all summer of seeding and watering and fertilizing to get the grass back. Then what happened? The leaves fell again. Grrrrrr!!

So, now we're left with this dilemma - do we rake (and bag) or do I just mow over them with the mulching mower and chop them up into tiny pieces?

I still haven't decided. Check back at a later date and I'll be sure to let you know what we decided.

Have a great Sunday!


New York is great. In my book it's no Chicago, but it's still great.

Andrew and I went in September to visit Monica, his sister. Monica lives in Cranbury New Jersey which is just minutes away from Princeton and a short 1 hour trip by train into Manhattan. We stayed with Monica all but one night. Andrew and I planned a 1 day and 1 night stay in New York.

Andrew took on the task of planning and making reservations for our short stay in Manhattan. We were on a fairly tight budget for this trip and needed to find a hotel for the one night. Now, I've been to New York a few times in the past and for not a lot of money, (under $200/night) Have stayed in some fairly nice hotels in great locations. Well, apparently those days are over. We searched every web site we knew of. Expedia,, Hotwire...ect... Seems as though you can't find a decent hotel in New York for under $400.00/night anymore! Well, that just wasn't going to work. So, we decided to lower our standards a little for this one trip. Afterall, it was just going to be for one short night.

Enter, The Chelsea Star hotel. Ok, we now understand why it's not called The Chelsea "StarS" hotel. One star, and I think the only reason it has one star is because doesn't rate hotels on the minus star scale and they are in the business of selling hotel rooms.

So, the hotel description says that it's a "theme room" hotel. Ok, fine. Maybe a little wierd, but hey, we're open to a little adventure. We read on...ok, so it doesn't have it's own this point we start looking for another hotel. After searching for others in the same price range, ($120-$160) we decide that the Chelsea Star is the best one in the best location; 1 block from Madison Square Garden and very centrally located for the amount of walking we were planning.
We still had to get past the fact that 5 rooms shared 1 bathroom. Ok, so we pondered this...we're spending 1 full day in Manhattan, meeting up with Bruce, a friend of Andrew's who lives in Manhattan, going to a show that evening, then out to dinner and probably a club or two. The next morning we'll be up early, have breakfast, walk a few blocks to the train station and head back to New Jersey and we can just shower at Monica's house when we get back. Cool, no need for the bathroom at all. The pictures online looked ok. This just might work! And, at $130.00/night, it's well within the budget.
Reservation: booked.

Fast forward to our day in Manhattan. Awesome! We took an early train from New Jersey and got to New York and began our walking tour of Soho, Grenwich Village and tons more of midtown. Found a fantastic, reasonably priced Thai restaurant for lunch and then decided to go scope out the hotel and check in to drop off our backpacks that contained our clothes for the evening.
Ok, 8th Ave and 30th street. Not a bad area and a great location for getting to the places we wanted to visit on foot. The hotel itself, from the street, was just a single door with a small canopy over it with the name of the hotel. Hmmm, strange, but, hey, this is New York. Real estate space is at a premium. The first clue that should have had us looking for other accomodations was the sign on the inside of the steel front door. "Do not let anyone enter behind you after dark." Hmmm. ok. We made our way up the stairs to a hall way with steel diamond plate for flooring. ( I assume it cleans up easily) Andrew went into the lobby with the life sized statue of Betty Boop, to check in. They had no reservation for us and they were booked. After several minutes of conversation with the desk clerk and a phone call to Expedia, he magically came up with a room for us. We proceeded down the steel clad hallway to room 105.

The door opens part way and hits something. It's the bed. a double bed. Now, Andrew and I sleep in a queen sized bed at home and often fight over space. Oh well, it's just for one short night. The room contents: one double bed with only a sheet, a small unusable chair, a broken floor lamp, a telephone and a 13" T.V. bolted to the wall. That's it. Nothing else. Carpet so dirty that we didn't even want to take off our shoes and walk on it. at this point we look at each other and seriously consider the $400.00 hotel that is just a block away. I'm sure they still have rooms available. But, after thinking it over for a few minutes, we decide that, "ok, we'll only be here to sleep for a few hours, then back to Jersey". So, we begin to unpack our things in the "Cher" room. Remember, I told you it was a theme hotel? Cher would NOT have approved. Two walls and the ceiling painted with badly hand-done leopard spots and the other two walls are stainless steel panels. Hmmm, strange. There were two bath towels on a shelf, so I spread those out on the floor so we didn't have to walk on the nasty carpet. We weren't using the bathroom anyway, so we didn't need them. Oddly enough, the two bath towels covered the entire visible part of the floor. Yeah, we had rented a closet with a bed. Ok, again, we're just sleeping here for a few hours. We changed and left.

We went on about our business and took in more of the city.
We ended up meeting Bruce, then going to the theater to see "The Wedding Singer" and then out to a great little trendy restaurant called Vynl. If you go, make sure to visit all of the restrooms. Very cool. I used the Elvis restroom and only got a glimps of the others. After our late dinner we headed to Therapy. This was a blast. The show that night was a drag queen who's name we never did get. She was a Joan Rivers type who was a train wreck of an alcoholic and kept us laughing through her whole show. Not only was she hilariously funny, but she included segments with some scantily clad friends from the audience who were there simply as eye candy. yum!

Around 3 am, back to the hotel. Fortunatly we'd had enough drinks that going back to that room and falling asleep was not as big of a problem as we'd expected earlier when we had checked in sober.

You know, it's experiences like this that we all learn from and look back later and laugh about. Andrew and I started laughing as soon as we opened the door to that hotel room and haven't stopped laughing about it since. I'm actually glad we had that experience. It's something we will always remember as part of our trip to New York in 2006.

Damn, why didn't I get pictures?! :-)

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I love it!

Friday, November 24, 2006


November 22nd was Andrew's and my 4th anniversary. He surprised me with a trip to Las Vegas last weekend. (because that's just the kind of guy he is) We left on Thursday evening and returned home on Sunday. It was a great trip! Neither of us are big gamblers. So, why go to Vegas, you ask? One word; SHOWS! Some of the best entertainment in the country has got to be in Vegas.

We went to Las Vegas two years ago and saw the Cirque Du Soleil show caled "O" at the Bellagio. Andrew had seen it a year or so earlier when he went with friends. I remember him coming home and telling me about it and not being able to desribe it in much detail. Well, after I saw it 2 years ago with him, I understood.

Travel far enough away,
my friend
and you'll discover
something of great beauty:
your self.

"O" is the most beautiful and best choreographed show I have ever seen. The first time I saw it we had front row "wet" seats. We really didn't get very wet, but the view was fantastic. This time we sat about 12 rows back from the front and the view was different, but still amazing.

o, the world's a stage they say
upon which mortals strut and play
until the final hour of day
until the curtain calls

I remember walking out of the theater after the show the first time I saw it. I was literally speachless. I mean, I could not talk. What I had seen stirred my inner emotions so much that I knew if I had said a word, the tears would have started streaming. I was very moved by that show. I can't even explain after seeing now for the second time, why that is. Except I was completely in awe of what I was seeing from the time the curtain went up, (or down as it were) until the time the curtain came back down. ( or, in this case, back up. I'll explain in a minute) The sheer genius, and maybe a little lunacy that went into the writing and direction of this show is amazing. The only way I can think of to desribe "O" is to say that it must have been born from the wildest of dreams of Franco Dragone, the writer and director. It seems as though you are watching someone's very strange dream. There is so much going on all over the stage at the same time, it hard to keep up and it gets a little overwhelming trying to.

o, to sing with all my heart
caress you with my soul, my art
embrace you as my counterpart
until you turn away

The curtain- I have never seen this done in a stage production before. The red fabric theater curtain looks like any other; about 3 storeys high and maybe 60-75 feet wide. Quite large. When the show starts, instead of opening in the traditional manor by parting in the middle or rising up, this curtain is suddenly released at the top and slowly falls in billows down to the stage floor. Then, by invisible wires, it starts being pulled quickly back and up toward the upper back center of the stage in one long flowing red stream, revealing the massive stage which is an amazing feat in itself; a deep pool of water where you expect the stage to be. At the end of the show the curtain reappears in an equally amazing and unexpected manor. You'll have to go see the show to find out how. :-) I absolutely loved hearing the audience's gasps in reaction to the way the curtain fell and then reappeared at the end of the show.

o, the wind of change doth blow
in which direction, who can know
I dare not ask, I turn and go
I'll find out when I get there

The acrobatics- WOW! That's all I can say. These people deserve a standing O just for the stunts alone! I was awe-struck through the entire show. It's truly amazing that humans can do the things that these awesomely talented people do!

o, the all-consuming fire
licking, laping like desire
exalting, rising ever higher
until the wind blows in

The music- Some of the most beautiful music there is. I sat though the entire show the first time 2 years ago and never noticed that some of the singing and music is actually done live during the show. We only just noticed this during the second time seeing it. If you look very closely to the sides of the stage and up in what would be the upper box seating areas, you can just make out people with microphones and instruments behind smoked glass. We were both surprised to notice that this time. After Andrew had seen it the first time, he made me a CD of the soundtrack. That was about 4 years ago and I still listen to that CD at least once a week. Beautiful.

o the circle, o the cycle
o la vie, an ode to thee
o water of life
please carry me

Please, the next time you find yourself in Las Vegas, go see this show. The tickets are not inexpensive; $150.00 each, but, beleive me, they are worth every penny. Skip Celine Dion. you can pop in a CD and hear that crap any day of the week. Go see "O". You will never forget it and I hope you are as moved as I was both times I saw it.

To the scores of silent alchemists
who wreak their joy
in darkness and in light
bringing magic to life

we bow most humbly.

See a clip and read about the show here: Cirque Du Soleil

Sunday, November 12, 2006


We had our friend Sue over tonight to celebrate her birthday. 'nuff said.


Sunday morning...

Andrew was up and out of the house by 4:50am this morning, I slept in till 7am, Jeremy is at an overnight birthday party, Robin just got up a few minutes ago, coffee is made, dishwasher is running (which means the kitchen is clean) and I'm sitting at the computer. Can life get any better than this?? Haha.

My Mom and Dad and my Grandmother are coming over for brunch this morning. We do this every couple of months or so. Robin LOVES to have Grandpa and Grandma over on the weekend for Sunday brunch. I love it too, but she's usually the one who thinks of it and asks. I got my Mom hooked on mimosas a couple of years ago, so now when I ask them over for brunch she always offers to bring the orange juice and champagne. Haha.

I know I'm so fortunate to have my parents around. My Dad is 70 and my Mom is 64. A co-worker who is my age just lost his father this week. It was quite a shock and unexpected. So, Mike has been out this past week and won't be back till next week since the funeral and family is in Arizona and Nebraska.
When things like this happen, it really makes me stop and think about how fortunate I am.

My parents have always been model parents. Family vacations every year as we were growing up and we never wanted for anything. My parents were never rich and still aren't, but as a kid growing up in a house with 3 other sibblings, we never went without. I'm not sure how my parents did that. Christmases were fantastic and the gifts were always abundant. The family vacations were always fun and to places that they knew we would enjoy. Some of my favorites were the ones to Colorado. Even at 10 and 12 years old I noticed how beautiful that state is and appreciated it.

I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. With so much depression in the world and so many people who are hungry and needy, I feel very fortunate and I have my parents to thank for most of that. They made sure I was raised with the values and the work ethic that is required to be a self-supporting, law abiding citizen, and they did it all without letting us know they were doing it. That is a good parent.

I think I'm going to take a picture of them to post here when they are over this morning. I don't take enough pictures of them. With my co-worker's loss this week, it really made me think about how valuable time really is when it's spent with loved ones.

Have a great Sunday! I'm going to :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I love this city. I don't mean "yeah, I've been there and it was fun", I mean, I LOVE THIS CITY. For me, there is nothing like packing up the car early on a Saturday morning and heading east toward Chicago. From Cedar Rapids/Marion where Andrew and I live, it takes us only about 4 hours by car. Since getting the I-Pass, and now with open road tolling, we can be there in 3 1/2 hours without any stops as long as traffic is moderately good.

We go about 5-6 times per year to spend a long weekend, sometimes to see a show, do some shopping, catch a museum or just to hang out. Every trip includes at least a few hours of walking Michigan Avenue. From the river, north about 10 blocks is some of the world's best shopping. Water Tower Place, Nordstrom Mall, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, 900 North Michigan, Kenneth Cole...The fantastic places to shop go on and on. This IS the place to be in the weeks before Christmas. It is cold at that time of year and the wind of the "windy city" doesn't help any, but the magic of Chicago during the holidays seems to overshadow any of those negatives.

Spring and summer in Chicago is beautiful. That is my favorite time of the year to go. From walking and biking trails along Lake Michigan to bar hopping in Boys Town. there is always something new to see and do.

I guess living in ultra-conservative Iowa, makes me love visiting Chicago even more. Being a gay couple, living in a neighborhood of traditional families with a dog and 2.5 kids is ok and a pretty good life, but once in a while it's nice to get away and go someplace where walking on the sidewalk, in public, holding hands with my partner and not even getting a disapproving glance from others on the street is a very refreshing feeling. Stealing a quick kiss across the dinner table in a Cedar Rapids, Iowa restaurant would likely get us throw out or worse. Because "no one wants to see that shit". Hmmm, but a straight couple, having a romantic anniversary dinner at the table across the room, practically having sex on the table is "just fine" and "oh, how sweet, it's their first anniversary, let's surprises them with a free dessert to help them celebrate". ...I just don't understand.

Andrew and I found ourselves in Chicago this summer one weekend to see Margaret Cho at the Chicago Theater. She was there for the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Gay Games. We never went to any of the Gay Games activities, but oh, were the Mary Janes out in full force in Chicago THAT weekend! The city was aflutter with queens of all sorts and nationalities. This was apparent as soon as we entered the loop on Congress Parkway on our way into town. We began playing a little game; gay or straight. After a couple of minutes it just got way too easy and we gave up. The whole city was gay! Not that that's a bad thing, of course. That's the point that we remembered, "oh yeah, Gay Games are in town this weekend." And it all made sense.

We leave for Las Vegas in 5 days, then our next trip to Chicago is mid December. I can't wait to get back there and experience the holiday magic of Michigan Avenue again this year. As much as I love the desert and warm weather, there is still nothing like Chicago around Christmas.

You know you truly love a place when, as you're driving away, you feel sad. I feel that every time I visit Chicago. I watch in my rear view mirror as the city gets smaller and smaller and we start planning our next trip back to The Windy City.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Well, Christmas this year just won't be the same.

For the past 4 years Andrew's parents, Randy and Laura have traveled from Minnesota and most recently, from their new home in Washington state, to Iowa to spend Christmas at our house. Monica, his sister has also traveled each year from her home in New Jersey. Christmas, for Andrew's family is laden with holiday cheer, much merriment, an embarassing amount of gifts, and most important,
tradition...and you'd better not fuck with it!

Yes, the details are discussed, hashed over, and diplomatically agreed upon by all, weeks in advance...then, Laura decides what we do and eat.
Seriously, the meals are all planned out, the groceries are purchased and then, for the next 4 days, we eat. When I say "eat", you have no idea. Laura is a cook like no other. I swear, when she is in the kitchen cooking, she waits for the exact moment when no one else is looking, and at that very moment, she tosses in the magic ingredient. Who knows what it is, but it's to die for.
Andrew follows closely and almost has it down. It must be a family secret.

This year, sadly, we are not all getting together. Randy and Laura are very busy with their new restaurant venture on Lummii Island, where they live and, understandably, would really like to spend a Christmas in their beautiful new home on the island. Unfortunatly, Andrew's work schedule and my need to be here, where my two children are, will keep us at home over the holiday.

There is nothing better than watching the kids, Jeremy and Robin, open their gifts and seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they realize that Dad
didn't forget what they really wanted.
They have also come to love spending time with Randy, Laura and Monica. Robin still talks about last year when she got to cook with Laura. She learned so much. That girl's brain is like a sponge!

There is such a contrast between Chirstmas Eve here with Andrew's family and Christmas Day with my family. Christmas Eve here at home with Andrew's small family is all about sharing good wine, "holiday punch", fine food and great conversation about Christmases past and future. My Mom is at the height of glory on Christmas Day with all four of her children and all seven grandchildren together at once in their huge 16'x30' livingroom full of screaming kids and knee deep in gift wrap that was ripped from 325 gifts within about 15 minutes. However, the unconditional love that radiates from both of my parents, out to everyone in the room makes the whole chaotic day worth every single minute.

We comprimised this year. Andrew will be here at home through Christmas Day and fly out to Seattle on the 26th to spend a few days with his family. I'm sure their celebration, although a few days later this year, will play out just as it has for the past 4 years that I have been a part of it. The food will be plentiful and fit for a king, the wine and "holiday punch" will flow freely, Monica will end up some time during the gift exchange with a gift bow on her head and I'm sure there will be a few evenings spent in the hot tub out on the deck with amazing views of the North Pacific. At some point, someone will say something that offends and that will erupt into a rather brief argument where a few minor, but hurtful things will be said and then one of them will turn to the rest of the group and exclaim in a disgusted voice, "MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS!"

I'm really going to miss Christmas with Andrew's family this year.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I'm here!

Yup, I’m here. Now what?

It’s so strange how I go brain dead as soon as there is a blank, white page in front of me. That’s it; I’m not cut out to be a writer. I should just quit this thing before I ever start.

I’ve been contemplating starting my own blog for weeks now. Thinking about what I’m going to write about. Standing in the shower at 6:30 am every morning I can think of the most brilliant things to write about. Why am I brain dead at this very moment? Ok, that all just rolled off my fingers in about 40 seconds. Maybe I’m not so bad at this…

There are several things that have gotten me thinking about starting my own blog. My friend, Tom started one a while back and I just love logging on and reading about the things going on in Tom’s life. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me, but I’ve sort of taken to reading blogs now.

Another reason might be that my friend, Phil in North Carolina is a writer and posts about once a month on his site. I have gotten many hours of entertainment from Phil’s writings. Sometimes they make me laugh out loud sitting here at my computer all by myself, and sometimes they make me cry. You never know what you’re going to get with Phil. But, rest assured, it will be entertaining.

Just this weekend I ran across another blog that caught my interest. Reading Matt from Seattle’s blog kept me entertained for quite a while on a boring Saturday evening when Andrew, my partner of 4 years, (more about him later) was out of town. Reading Matt’s “100 things about me” almost sounded like he could have been writing about me. So, I emailed him just to say how much I enjoyed his blog. I will be checking back in on Matt regularly. Hey, I gotta keep up with Kali’s recovery. (See the link to his site to the right and you’ll understand)

So, here I am, on a Sunday evening while Andrew sits behind me on the sofa in our family room, doing what he does best…operating the TiVo remote. Actually, I’ll bet he’s asleep by now. J

Seriously, Andrew is a wonderful guy. I think about how lucky I am everyday to have such a caring, and thoughtful partner as him.

Are we programmed at birth to just be thoughtful and caring, or is it a learned thing? I try to be as attentive as Andrew and come up with little ways to surprise him with small gifts, notes, nice home cooked dinners, but somehow he never fails to outdo me. It’s not that he tries to; I think it just comes naturally to him. For instance, we’re leaving for Las Vegas in just a couple of weeks to celebrate our 4th anniversary together. Only the most recent of his surprise trips with me. It was a surprise trip that he had planned for months. I don’t know how he does it. I’m lucky to remember my car keys before getting to the garage each morning. Sad…they hang on the hook right next to the door on the way TO the garage. (More about the second love of my life; my ’05 VW Jetta in later postings)

Well, if you’ve made it this far reading my ramblings, you’re either a very good friend to me or you’re almost as boring as I am, reading about other people’s lives. Either way, I’m glad you’re here and I hope you feel like returning to check out the progress. I promise to post more interesting stuff as time goes on.

So, let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is always welcome as I’m sure many of you are much better writers than I.

Take care, and drop me a line anytime!