Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Long weekend with good friends

This weekend, our friends Brad and Bob are visiting. Marc first met Brad and Bob over 20 years ago. I met them not too long after meeting Marc (and, as I've mentioned a few times, that's coming up on 10 years ago).

They got here Sunday afternoon, and we spent time relaxing and catching up. Yesterday, we used the holiday to drive out east and enjoy the beauty of Long Island. We went all the way out to Montauk Point (which is roughly 125 miles east of New York City).

We visited the Montauk Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in New York (commissioned by President Washington in 1792). I took this shot of Brad and Bob standing in front of the lighthouse grounds...

Yes, if you're wondering, they're a couple. Yet another example of those gay couples who can't commit and shouldn't be able to marry (that's sarcasm, in case it didn't come through clearly). After all, they've only managed to stay together for 27 years (well, I exaggerate--it's not 27 years until next month; only 26 years & 11 months, as of now).

Okay, this isn't supposed to be a political post, so I'll get back to the fun stuff.

We walked down to the beach, and I enjoyed the sound of the waves hitting the rocks. Isn't that the most relaxing sound? Well, I have no wave sounds to share from yesterday, but here are a couple of pictures...

We were walking around there for a bit. Here, we see Marc taking a break...

...before going back to hunting for rocks...

Hunting for rocks? Yes, for the rock polisher. The rock polisher is a machine we have--a throwback to my childhood--that takes ordinary rocks, smoothes them and polishes them. We rarely use it, but all of the nice rocks there at the shore inspired me to fire it up again. So Marc and I filled our pockets with rocks for the polisher.

After leaving Montauk, we headed to Sag Harbor, a quaint old village that now does a heavy tourist trade. It was packed, and parking was a nightmare, so we just cruised through and headed up to North Haven where we caught the ferry to Shelter Island.

Shelter Island is situated between the forks of Long Island. It was settled in 1652. Well, actually, white people showed up there in 1652. The Manhasset tribe was there long before that.

One stop we made was at an old cemetery. Even the newer headstones there are quite old, and looking at them feels like a glimpse into history. What amazes me are the ripe old ages to which some of the people lived. Here's one for a lady who died in the early 1800s at the age of 75. That's a pretty good run, considering how people lived back then...

One interesting feature are the stones that are set into tables like this...

This one, for a member of a family that was among the first settlers (a prominent family whose name is on historic markers on this island), is showing its age. I guess that's understandable, since it was put there in 1752...

After more exploring on Shelter Island, we headed to the "North Ferry". That took us to Greenport. The trip itself is lovely. On the way, we watched other boats pass by...

Including one of our ferry's sisters...

Here, we're approaching Greenport, a truly lovely little town...

Once in Greenport, we (barely) found a parking space. Then we went for some health food. Okay, so it was ice cream...

After Greenport, we headed west to Pindar Vineyards, a favorite winery of ours. Pindar, like the Village of Greenport, is located on the North Fork of Long Island. They make wonderful wines, and we love taking people to their tasting room. Sorry, no photos from that--my hands were too busy with wine glasses--but we had fun. (Note: I drank very little overall, so I could drive. I wouldn't want to leave the wrong impression!)

Then we headed closer to home, stopping at Robert Moses State Park, so Brad and Bob (who hail from land-locked Kansas) could enjoy a bit more time at the shore. You can see pictures from a prior visit to this beach here.

After that, we came back here and had some wonderful Italian food.

Today, we're heading into Manhattan. We'll be roaming around, seeing what fun we can find. Then, this evening, we're going to see Avenue Q. Brad and Bob bought tickets for all of us. Wasn't that nice of them?

Tomorrow, we may head north, exploring the Hudson Valley a bit. I say that we may, because it will depend upon the fatigue level of all concerned when tomorrow arrives! :)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Go Blue Jays!

I got my BA at Johns Hopkins (properly, "The Johns Hopkins University"). As you may know, Hopkins' flagship sports team is its Division I lacrosse team. When I attended, we could still say the following: from the time that the collegiate lacrosse championships began, no class had gone through Hopkins without seeing at least one championship win. Sometimes more.

Since my years there, we lost the ability to say that. In fact, the last championship win was in 1987, when I was a junior. That is, until today!

I never played lacrosse, but I was photography editor of the school newspaper, so I spent a lot of time photographing the games. I got some great shots in those days, and I have some fond memories (including some blurry memories of parties with some of the lacrosse players).

Anyhow, today, Hopkins won the championship. It's a nice feeling of pride. Despite the school's stellar academic reputation (and the fact that that's what really matters), there's still something fun and uplifting about the lacrosse team taking home a championship once again.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


One of my Mom's favorite breakfast-related stories had to do with a visit by one of my older brother's friends. She asked if the boys would like waffles for breakfast. They liked that idea, so she started making batter and got out the waffle iron. As she proceeded to make waffles, my brother's friend sat there stunned. Finally, he worked up the courage to comment, "that's not how my mom makes waffles." "How does she make them?" my Mom asked. "She puts them in the toaster."

When my Mom died, the waffle iron came to us. It seemed appropriate. Marc is the best cook extant in this family. Besides, he always was my Mom's favorite of the spouses (just don't tell my sisters-in-law). :)

This morning, we had a nice, relaxing start. After we made our way downstairs, Marc asked if I'd like waffles for breakfast. I said yes, knowing this would be the first time we'd used the old waffle iron. I suppose the healing process kept us from using it before now, but the time had come. So out it came...

It's old. I don't know to whom it originally belonged. Something makes me think it was my mother's grandmother's waffle iron, but I'm not sure. Whomever the original owner was, this appliance is from the early days of electric appliances!

So Marc plugged it in and got busy making batter. When the waffle iron was ready, in it went...

It was just like I remembered. As the waffle cooked, the lid lifted up...

If I had been making them, the waffles would have come out underdone and falling apart or overdone and burnt to a crisp. Fortunately, Marc was in charge...

So we both had waffles for breakfast. How did they taste? Hmmm...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Yeah, sure it will

Is this the best they can come up with? I know the people in Washington, DC, are against sex, except for married politicians cheating on their spouses, but this is the best they've got? Viagra and Cialis can make men go blind?

Will it grow hair on their palms, too? Geez. I know you guys like to lie to us, but at least update your material. This stuff is right out of the 1950s!

Well, with that out of the way, how about some poetry. One of the classics, I think...

Roses are red,
Violets are bluish,
If it weren't for Jesus,
We'd all be Jewish.

Like it? I knew you would!

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. You've been a wonderful audience. Goodnight!


Happy Birthday PatCHy!

Imagine the following being sung in a lovely voice (unlike my singing voice):

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday dear Patrick!
Happy Birthday to you!

And many happy returns! (whatever the heck that means--I never did understand this line, but it's supposed to be some kind of good wish, so I'll go with it) :)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

When hearing it isn't good

Warning: this post will make reference to dog flatulence. Leave now, if you wish.

Still here? Well, this is posted almost in real time--at least, as fast as I can type. I'm sitting here, taking a break from chores. I tied up some large carpet remnants, moving them from the office to the furnace room. I've broken up boxes, thrown out trash and done other fun things. So now I'm on my union break. ;)

While sitting here, I heard the audible expulsion of some rather wet-sounding flatulence. Well, it sure wasn't me! In fact, the sound came from the direction of a certain dog I know. This sound was followed by a few more similar sounds.

When we were kids, we referred to certain gaseous expulsions as SBDs--that meant that they were "silent but deadly." The general juvenile wisdom was that one was better off suffering with audible flatulence. In the case of dogs, however, virtually all of their gas escapes in silence, as they have no butt cheeks.

On rare occasions, they will somehow have things positioned at the exhaust pipe end so that there is some sound. In this case, a few separate ones in a row, and I'm frightened! Dog gas in noxious enough. Multiple rounds of audible air biscuits are likely to be fatal.

Even Mandy lifted her head up to look toward her own butt, wondering what that noise might be.

This may be my last post. I expect that when the cloud wafts over this way, I'll be overcome, dying of chemical gas poisoning. Just thought I should let you know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Fleet Week!

This week, New York begins "Fleet Week", its annual celebration of the contribution made to our society by the Fleet Enema.

Given the assistance that this simple item has provided to so many gay men, I'm always happy to recognize this important celebration. Obviously, this is the kind of celebration that could only occur in a gay-friendly city like New York!

Also, in case anyone has any remaining doubts about what really goes on in the Navy, I've noticed a sudden upsurge in sailors in the city with every Fleet Week. So, if they're not into gay sex, how do you explain that?! Hmmm? ;)

That fast?

As you may know, we've been living in our new house for a couple of months. After getting the old house just how we wanted it, we put it on the market. It was listed last Tuesday with an asking price we came to, with the help of the broker, after much discussion and comparison to other houses being sold in the area.

It seemed like a fair price, but it was also a little higher than what we thought it would actually sell for. That's the way the game is played. Our broker, who is someone we've known for years and is a real pro, had a goal of getting a price for us that was within ten thousand dollars of the asking price.

Well, our efforts to have a nice house and get it "just so" before listing it seemed to be paying off, since we got a lot of interest in just the first few days. Not only individuals looked, but other brokers who saw it kept bringing back clients, since they seemed to like the house. One broker told our broker that our house "blew away" another house he had listed down the block.

So yesterday afternoon I got a call from our broker. He has an offer that's only four thousand less than the asking price. The people have mortgage pre-approval and will be putting a very healthy 20% down. Just one week, and it looks like we have a deal.

It appears that my fear of carrying two mortgages for many months is unfounded. These people even want to close fast. This thing might be done in the next thirty days!

Now the last bit of work--moving the rest of our stuff out of there. Anybody want to come help? There's free food and drinks in it for you! :)

Monday, May 23, 2005

What the heck was that for?

No offense to the vast majority of the members of our military whom I believe are dedicated, sensible and hard-working, but I can't help but think that there are some delinquents in your ranks. Not many, but some.

Even though there's military housing right near here, we don't see much military activity in this area. It's just not safe in such a huge metropolitan area (barring something like a real terrorist threat requiring the risk). Well, right after 9/11 we did, of course. Normally, however, we don't see much. We certainly don't see low flights of military aircraft around here. It's just not that kind of area.

So imagine our surprise when a few of these flew over very low late this afternoon...

What's the deal with that? When I went to school in Baltimore, I was used to such things. For example, we often saw A-10s fly low over the campus on weekends, on their way to who-knows-what. By the way, if you're curious, an A-10 looks like this...

Anyhow, multiple huge helicopters flying practically at treetop level in such a densely populated area (as of the year 2000, 4,655 people per square mile in this county) is just wrong, unless there's a damn good reason for it. So, as much as such things impress me (because there's still a little kid alive and well inside me), it really strikes me as reckless.

So did anyone hear of a terrorist attack on Long Island's beaches that needed to be repelled? Otherwise, I'm one unhappy taxpayer.

Bully for you, TR!

I've tried to say this myself on many occasions, but this was so well put that I had to share it (I just wish I'd read it long ago). It also carries a special weight, because it was said by a war hero and former President:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic & servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918

Without even trying, I've tripped over quotes showing how greatly at odds the current Administration is with this and other Presidents held in great esteem as the better Presidents in our history.

If I really made an effort to look for more quotes, I'm sure there are a ton of them from the smart and wise men we've had serving in the highest office in the land. What a sad state of affairs we're in today.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

James Marsden

I'll leave it to each of you to Google "James Marsden" and come up with your own pictures of this hottie, if you haven't seen him yet. What impresses me more is this straight (married with a kid) young actor's interview in the May 24, 2005, issue of The Advocate.

One thing he said in the interview: When you hear about these homophobic people who feel so threatened by somebody's sexuality, to the degree that our president wants to amend the Constitution? I mean, are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you really so threatened by somebody's sexuality? It seems ludicrous to me. We should all take a deep breath and relax and just let everybody do their thing.

Okay, so he's talking to a gay publication, and he knows what we want to hear. Even so, I have no reason to think he's anything less than sincere. He seems quite level-headed and honest.

Now I want to see the film where he's kissing Jesse Bradford. Yummy. :)

Looking at James Marsden's photos, I find him very attractive. After reading this interview, I think I'm in love. Just don't tell his wife or my husband. ;)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Crushes, houses and relaxation

I'm still enjoying my good news. As nice as it can be to have a couple of weeks to relax and get ready for the new job, part of me wants to get started. I guess it's a feeling that it'll be real when I'm there doing the job--or when I cash the first check. Yeah, so I'm a little neurotic.

Other than that, things are semi-quiet. We've been spending a lot of time at the other house, letting people in to look it over. No offers yet, but it has only been on the market for a few days. The broker thinks it won't take more than a dozen showings before the first offer. That first one might not be a good enough offer, but it would be comforting anyhow. We shall see. Tomorrow we're having an open house, so that may help.

We went to Crate & Barrel today. Friends had bought some dishes off of our housewarming registry (thanks to Patrick, the word got out about the registry, even though we'd decided not to ask anyone to give gifts), but the dishes didn't look as good when we got them as they did online. So we exchanged them for other dishes. While there, I noticed how many unhappy straight boys are wandering the aisles of Crate & Barrel. I guess they get dragged there by their wives and girlfriends and just can't manage to look happy about it. Poor things.

We were riding in the car, on the way back from C&B, when a song came on the radio. It reminded me of how powerful and long-lasting crushes can be. The song was Shadow Dancing by this man...

Yes, that's Andy Gibb. His demons brought him to an untimely end, but that's not what I remember when I hear his voice. Listening to him sing Shadow Dancing, backed up by the wonderful harmonies of his brothers, I immediately felt my heart jump. Oh, he was so lovely, and at an age before I even really understood what I would do with him if I could get my hands on him, I knew I wanted him desperately.

That I still felt that same tug when I heard his voice so many years later says a lot about the power of such feelings. Or perhaps it says something about my little obsessions. :)


One more thing to add. I was just reading the latest issue of The Advocate, and I saw a quote from Bill Maher that I liked so much I just had to share it. I haven't always agreed with the things he's said, but I love this: "I would like to suggest that as a national policy we encourage the reestablishment of the Soviet Union. Sure, it was an evil empire, but at least it kept the GOP busy. Who has time for gay marriage, activist judges, or brain-dead bulimics when you've got a real boogeyman to freak out about?"

Friday, May 20, 2005


Yes, that's a new pillow. :)

It's official. Over the past day, I was told that they reviewed over 100 candidates. About 15 made it to interviews at the corporate offices. Half a dozen were interviewed by the Senior VP. You're reading the blog of the last man standing. As much as I wanted this to happen, I can hardly believe it's true.

Today, they made it official, giving me an offer letter which I immediately accepted, signing it and leaving a copy with them.

I start two weeks from Monday. I'll be back in to meet one other senior person on Monday, and I may go back in at some other points over the next two weeks, but June 6th is officially D-day, in the historic sense and for my new job.

It'll have its challenges, of course, but I'm very excited. Wish me luck!

Deliberately quiet

Not much to say at the moment. Not much to say, because I may have much to say later. Well, not "much" in terms of the number of words. Rather, things may be changing. We shall see. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I want a new pillow

Weeks ago, I decided that I needed a new pillow. I also decided that this was a luxury to which I would treat myself when I got a new job. Recently, I stopped Marc from getting me a new one, even when he told me he had a gift card he needed to use at Fortunoff's, so why not get me a pillow? Nope. No new pillow until I get a new job!

Today, I had two more interviews as part of the process for trying to get this job I want. I've mentioned it before--HR Director for a big, prestigious hospital in the city. Lots of competition for the job from the very start, but I'm a finalist.

I don't know if I'll get the job, but I've sure had to go through a very long process. Anyhow, I'm hoping for a new pillow in the near future!

On another, semi-related topic... there are so many gorgeous men in Manhattan! I don't know what drives that. Maybe they start somewhere else and wind up there, to make the most of their looks and bodies. Maybe there's more pressure to work out and look your best in NYC. I don't know, but every time I go into Manhattan, I see some truly gorgeous specimens.

Today, after the second interview, I was walking by the emergency room entrance when a paramedic walked out. He was about 6'2" tall, I'd guess around 200 pounds of solid muscle, blond hair, handsome face. *drool*

What does that have to do with pillows? Come on! Isn't it obvious? Well, I'm more of a top than a bottom, but one look at him and I was more than ready to do some pillow biting! ;)

On that note, I think I'll go let the dogs out (since they still refuse to use the toilet).

Now THAT is bad sex

I've heard about people having bad sexual experiences. Now, I'll admit that some partners were better than others, and certainly one time can be better than another with the same partner. Even so, I can't say I ever had a bad sexual experience. I mean, I never really felt sorry for having taken the time to engage in whatever my partner at the time and I had done. So I guess I've been lucky.

Still, despite the stories friends have told me about "bad sex", I think I've found a new low. Well, I only read about it, thankfully. An appeals court in Massachusetts was dealing with a case involving a straight couple (those pervs) engaged in a "long-term committed relationship" who were having sex when she did something that eventually led to him suing her for negligence.

Apparently, the defendant was on top of the plaintiff when she changed positions in such a way that she caused a penile fracture! According to the court, she "did not think about the possibility of injury to the plaintiff . . . Although this was generally a position the couple had used before without incident, the defendant did vary slightly the position previously used, without prior specific discussion and without the explicit prior consent of the plaintiff."

Oy vey. This is probably because they're straight. If men and women were meant to have sex with each other, God wouldn't have given us in vitro fertilization (or turkey basters, for that matter!). Every sensible person knows this. Now this man has paid a high price for his strange sexual practices!

So sad.

(Oh, if you're wondering, the court threw out the guy's claim.)

Monday, May 16, 2005

On the market

We did it. Tonight, we met with the real estate broker and signed the papers. He suggested what seemed like a good asking price, one that will bring us the best money we can get while not being so high that it will slow things down and/or limit interest. So the "old" house is now on the market.

I hope it sells fast. Starting next month, we're paying two mortgages (not to mention payments on lines of credit we took out on the old house to pay for renovating the new one). Even if I get a new job soon (oh please!), it'll still be too much to handle without dipping into savings.

So our broker has scheduled a "broker's open house" for this Friday, to be followed shortly thereafter by a public open house. He thinks we may be able to get some quick interest, since the house has been very well maintained, we did a lot of improvements, etc., and the market is still pretty good.

Wish us luck! :)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A happy memory returns

I know from losing loved ones over the years that it takes time for the good memories to reappear after the pain of loss.

February 6, 2004, was one of the worst days of my life. On that day, my Mom died. I still hurt, and I suppose I will for a long time. Just typing "my Mom died" brought tears to my eyes, but today's post is about a sign of healing.

While watching this morning's CBS Sunday Morning (a favorite show of mine), I saw a piece on a guy who is an expert creator of topiary. These days, I understand that topiary is the art of carving plants into shapes, often animal shapes.

At the age of 17, however, I hadn't heard the word topiary. For whatever reason, I just didn't know the word.

It was the summer of 1983. My Mom, my younger brother and I were in southern California to attend the wedding of my cousin, as well as getting in a week of sightseeing. One day during our visit, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. The shrubs out front had been carved into various animal shapes.

As we were entering the restaurant, my brother and I both pointed to one and said, "it's a dog." My Mom said, "it's topiary." Not getting the point, we both repeated, "it's a dog!" At that point, my Mom again says, "it's topiary."

My brother and I look at each other, exchanging our best "what's wrong with her?" look, and say, even louder, "it's a dog!!" At that point, my Mom is laughing. Having too much fun, she just repeats, "it's topiary!"

Somewhere around this time, we caught on. Still, it was a funny moment.

As I watched the show this morning and heard the word topiary, I also heard the joint cry of two teenagers, "it's a dog!" and could see my Mom smiling. It was a nice moment but a hard one, too. I was smiling with tears in my eyes.

I'm healing, but it will take a long time. Still, it was nice to be able to smile and enjoy a memory of the most wonderful lady I'll ever know; as far as I'm concerned, the most wonderful lady who ever lived.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Pleasure in just relaxing

It's a slow day for me. Marc has to work (and that really sucks--he's actually at the same conference center that Michael was at earlier this week), so my options are limited. I went and ran some errands this morning. I had the a/c contractors back in to address an issue with the central air (all seems to be well now), and our painter is back, finishing work he hadn't gotten to before.

At the moment, I'm just sitting on my butt, typing this and watching Real Genius, a 1985 movie that has always held some special appeal for me. I'm not sure what the appeal is, but Marc thinks it's because Val Kilmer's character is a smartass much like me.

So here I sit, just relaxing. I know it's hard to imagine that someone with my Adonis-like physique could just sit and do nothing, but there it is. :) All in all, not a bad day so far. I have the plantation shutters open, and the sun is pouring in. I'd open the windows, but my allergies already are killing me, so I don't need a fresh burst of tree pollen!

I'm also watching some people move in across the street; apparently, we're getting new neighbors. I hope they're nice.

Just sitting here doing nothing. Getting laid would be far more fun, but, lacking that alternative at the moment, this is definitely a relaxing way to spend some time. :)

Friday, May 13, 2005

It must be my lack of sophistication

Every time I read a book because it won an award, I wonder why it won. I just finished reading The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. I think I first heard about it on NPR. It won the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. As the prize web site will tell you, the award is meant to recognize "the very best of contemporary fiction."

Also, this was a gay-themed book by a gay author, so I really wanted to read this book. In light of my current financial situation, I did something radical. I got it from this place here in town. It's like a bookstore, but they don't charge anything for the books. All you have to do is return the book when you're done with it. I forget what it's called. It starts with an L.

Anyhow, I read the book.

For a book containing young gay men and gay sex, it was quite tedious. Mr. Hollinghurst knows lots of fancy words, and he seems hell-bent on making sure you know how brilliantly he can say simple things. Why make a point concisely, when the same task can be accomplished over the course of several paragraphs?

I must be a literary philistine. Having finished The Line of Beauty, I've gotten a David Baldacci novel from that "L" bookstore. I'm sure it will be more my speed.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

No job yet, but some good signs

As I mentioned on Monday, I felt that the interview that morning went well. One of the people there is someone I knew from a prior job, but he'd never been in a position to interview me, so I was interested in his feedback, as well as hearing what the others guys there said when they discussed me after I left.

The short version is, they all agreed that I was "very impressive." Well, that helped my ego! :) I also heard from a mutual friend today that he had heard from the aforementioned interviewer/colleague who said his colleagues thought I was very relaxed and obviously professional during the interview.

Aside from helping my swelled head not fit through the door anymore, this feedback makes me more comfortable. If they liked me, others will.

Speaking of others liking me, the job I really want--for which I will be going into "round four" next week--has an added wrinkle. The big boss at corporate HR wants to talk to me tomorrow by phone, before I go meet the executive management of the hospital (meetings that will take place in two parts, on Monday and Tuesday). I'm still trying not to get my hopes too high, but it sounds like a good sign. Perhaps he will tell me that he's sending a few different candidates in next week to see who is liked the most, but I think it's also possible that I'm his guy and he wants to prep me for the meetings.

I know, I know. I'm really getting ahead of myself, but it's hard to avoid. I really hope I'm in the lead. That would be wonderful. Now, I just hope next week's people like me, too! In the meantime... Note to self: Relax, Jess. There may be several finalists, and you may not get the job.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Balls the size of Alpha Centauri

I've been getting e-mails from John Kerry. Before the election, I understood, especially since I'd given the man's campaign money. Since then, the e-mails have continued. Well, fine. More spam, really, at this point. I should tell them to knock it off, but I haven't gotten around to it.

About an hour ago, the phone rang. It was some fundraiser hired by "Friends of John Kerry". He gave me a pitch about how John Kerry was pushing to insure all of the uninsured people in the country. As far as I can recall, he didn't actually say, but I assume we're talking about health insurance, unless John Kerry has an interest in people driving without collision coverage. So health insurance. Yeah, that's gonna be an easy thing to fix.

So, to help John insure all of these people, could I give him $110? By now, I was irritated by this thinly veiled attempted money grab--I mean, what does health insurance have to do with John Kerry's campaign war chest (and it was obvious that the call would wind up with a money grab)?

With that in mind, I was ready with my response as soon as he made his pitch: "Feel free to tell John he can give me a call in three years if he's running for something."

The nerve. Oh, and I love the thing about "John" appreciating my help and "John" wanting them to call me. Blah, blah, blah. John Kerry wouldn't know me if his limo ran me down in the street. Give me a break!

Introducing the newest super-heroes... The Anal Gland Girls

Anal gland power... activate!

Welcome to the stinkier part of my life, and be warned... This post ain't pretty!

You may have heard that small dogs have problems with their anal glands. Well, I have some larger dogs who would choose to differ with those who say this is a "small dog" issue.

Today, I took Bernice and Mandy in for their annual tune-ups. (As I tell the vet's people, "lube & oil and rotate the paws.")

Well, sure enough, they both had enlarged anal glands. Dodger gets this, too, and had the joy of having his squeezed when he had his tune-up last fall.

In case you haven't had the joy of being around for this procedure, the vet sticks a finger (or more than one finger, perhaps? I try not to watch too carefully!) up the poor dog's butt and squeezes out the excess fluid. Someday, I may have to set up a camera to capture each dog's face when this occurs. Bernice tries to take it in stride, but Mandy always gets a look that clearly says, "WHAT THE HELL?!"

This solves a problem for the dogs--as this can get to be a serious issue--but the fluid that comes out... Well, imagine what something that has aged in a dog's butt for a year might smell like. Yeah, that's the idea.

After each one is done, the vet cleans her butt-fur, but there's always residue. Needless to say, the residue is fragrant. I spread plastic inside the truck, and I scream at the dogs repeatedly during the ride home, trying to get them to just stay flat and immobile. I dread the thought of them pulling aside the plastic (which they like to do, since they understandably don't like the plastic) and getting their lovely juices on the carpet on the back of the folded-down seats. It has happened before, and, believe me, it takes a lot of shampooing to make sure that smell is gone!

Once home, I had the joy of giving them showers. Dog showers are normally a lovely experience--cooperative, they are not--and are made that much more joyous by the need to pay extra attention to their, um... flanks.

All in all, a lovely day. Oh, the icing on the cake... check-up, shots, bloodwork, a year of Sentinel pills (anti-flea, anti-heartworm, etc., etc.) for two dogs: $660. Having their annual check-ups while I'm unemployed: priceless.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A bright, bright sunshiny day

Amazing how life seems so much better when the sun's out and the birds are chirping.

Today, I did some errands, brought Marc lunch, did more errands, went to the old house to clean and pack more stuff and then went food shopping. It all felt effortless in the beautiful sunshine under a bright blue sky.

One interesting moment in my travels was this...

If you look carefully (as carefully as you can in my camera-phone photo), you'll see that the trailer in this picture looks somewhat bent. In fact, if I were able to get a shot from another angle, you'd see that its roof is torn off.

This truck remodeling is brought to us courtesy of a man who died years ago. His name was Robert Moses, a somewhat controversial figure who oversaw the development of many public works projects in the New York metropolitan area in the early/mid-20th century. For his work, there are things named for him, like Robert Moses State Park (truly a lovely place) and the Robert Moses Causeway which one may use to reach the aforementioned park.

So what does he have to do with the smashed truck? Well, take a look at that photograph. Notice the stone bridge? That's part of the story.

Mr. Moses wanted to protect Long Island's lovely beaches and parks for the more affluent folks who lived out here. Not that it's a cheap place to live now, but back in his day the people who lived here tended to be truly well off.

So how does one protect Long Island? One makes the parkway bridges too low for buses to get under. Voila! We're now safe from the city's riffraff who might otherwise try to make use of our beaches, parks, etc. :)

So, every now and then, some hapless trucker misses the "Passenger Vehicles Only" signs at the entrance to one of these parkways, and his truck gets a rather destructive haircut. It's entertaining to the rest of us, but I'm sure it ruins the poor trucker's day.

In other news, after running around all day, I decided that the day was too lovely to allow it to pass without some lazing about. So I got my hammock all set up near the red maple...

I took a book out there (I'm currently reading The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst) and proceeded to enjoy the afternoon breeze. About half an hour into my relaxation, I was treated to a sight that made it all perfect. Looking up at the tree above me, I saw a cute little woodpecker pecking away. He went from branch to branch, pecking at each one in turn. He was surprisingly quiet (usually, you can hear their pecking). Perhaps the smaller branches he happened to be attacking were softer and less prone to producing noise from his pecking. I don't really know, but I was delighted to watch him for a few minutes. Once he flew off, I returned to my reading.

Later, I moved the hammock across the yard, because it was getting too cold in the shade. When my other half came home and declared his intention to take a nap, I told him to use the hammock. That provided us with the opportunity for this lovely sight...

Alas, as he was wearing only a t-shirt, he soon declared it to be too cold, even in the sun, and came in here to finish his nap on the couch. That's where he is right now, so I believe I will go molest him, in order to wake him up. After all, he's napped long enough! ;)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Tough choices ahead?

The sun was shining as I drove to an interview in Brooklyn. The good news is that they liked my answers so much that these senior HR professionals couldn't keep from saying so right there in the interview. The bad news is that the job doesn't pay all that well, and it's a relatively difficult commute. So, assuming they offer me the job, I may have a hard decision to make.

I said I may have a hard choice because of another job possibility hanging out there. Of all the jobs for which I've interviewed, there is one that stands head and shoulders above the others--for a large hospital that is the flagship of one of the networks in NYC. I've been to three rounds of interviews for that one. If they still liked me after round three of the network-level interviews, they'd call me back to meet with some folks in the hospital itself.

This morning, the call came for round four. Of course, it's possible that there are other candidates coming in for round four, too. It's possible that someone won't like me in this next round and the whole thing will evaporate. Still, it's quite encouraging. If that job comes through, it makes my decision easy.

Now, if I'm still waiting on that job and I get an offer from today's interview, then what? If today's folks are willing to give me time, that's good, but they might not be. So then I put pressure on the people at the job I want and hope they can give me an answer.

An even worse problem would be this: what do I do if I don't have the good job offered at all (maybe they pick someone else--a distinct possibility, as the competition for the job is huge)--and then I'm offered the Brooklyn job. It pays less than my last job and entails a big commute.

I want my next job to be somewhere I might stay, happily, for a while. So do I pass on this and wait for something else? Do I hope something better comes along before I deplete lots of savings? This is all so tough, as is being unemployed in general.

I hope the better job is really going to be mine, but I don't want to get my hopes too high. If I do, and then I don't get the job, it's going to be a tough emotional plunge.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

More on the big barbecue...

For another take on this Saturday's festivities--this one from the perspective of our head chef--take a look at my lovely Marc's blog... "Leftovers"

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Great fun with the bloggers

Today was the big day. We hosted a barbecue at our home. I barbecued burgers and hot dogs. Marc made brisket, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, cherry cobbler, chocolate chip cookies and various other yummy things.

Now, with limited interruption for an occasional comment, some photos...

Isn't this next guy a cutie? (Okay, so I'm biased.)

We had a break in the festivities to watch the Kentucky Derby...

Check out this cherry cobbler Marc made...

And here's what left of the piles of chocolate chip cookies Marc made...

My favorite part of this next photo is Matt laughing (on the right). I don't know what had him going, but his expression is great...

I'll post this next photo, since I know there are people in the other shots who won't like theirs, so why should I be immune? This was my mistake, for letting Patrick have the camera. Thanks a lot, Patrick--catch me slumped in the big chair... could you possibly have made me look any fatter? :)

Later, the gang learned that Aaron had posted photos from last night's gathering at Barrage.

Oh, and this last one is right after Jase took a close-up shot of Jere's eye. Don't ask...


I forgot this when I initially posted the photos. Two dear friends went out to run an errand while I was out back barbecuing burgers. I was told that they had gone to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart? For what possible reason could they be doing that?

After they returned, I looked at the front lawn and found out. Very funny, guys!