Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So how about some rugby photos?

As always, just click on the photos to see bigger versions...

No shortage of blowing dirt on the pitch this time

Okay, I suppose that's enough for now. More to come!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Serious thoughts

A few years ago, our neighbors two doors down retired to the southwest. Richie and Linda are genuinely nice, down-to-earth folks; we were sorry to see them go. Richie was the Chief of our local fire department for a number of years and was a member of the department for as long as I can remember. Having grown up in this house and moved back after my parents died, these are people I remember from when I was a kid.

Today, I saw an obituary in the paper for Richie. He wasn't old. Perhaps he was somewhere in his 60s. Far too young to die.

So Marc and I went to his wake tonight. Linda was devastated, of course. I gave her a big hug, and we stood and talked for a bit. We remembered how she used to tell him not to hit the siren until he got off the block. She talked about how good their life was together and how they traveled and had fun a lot. Even so, she's too young to be a widow, and he was too young to go. Of course, I know this is how life can be. Both of my parents were in their 60s, and I lost a friend when we were in high school, so I know people die much younger.

One thing that really hit home is that he died while getting a medical treatment that my Mom barely survived early in her cancer battles. I'm glad she survived and had those extra years with us, but I'm glad for him that he didn't suffer all my Mom went through. *sigh* There's no good way to go, of course. I hope he's somewhere good. Maybe Richie and my Dad are chatting happily somewhere. They always liked each other.

Days like this are hard, but they're also reminders to make the most of life while we can. Do your best to enjoy every day, my friends!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

LIGALY "Out Idol" and a rugby weekend

Friday night, we volunteered as judges for LIGALY's annual "Out Idol" competition. We've done this in years past, but they changed the format a bit this year. They broke the group of contestants into two for the first round, so we only had to endure judge four of them, with four more going next week. In the past, we would have had all eight perform in a single first round evening. Apparently, some complained that this took too long.

Of the four performing for us, two were quite good and two... well, let's just say they're not destined to make their fortunes singing.

Making the evening (and weekend) even more fun, Jeff was out for a visit. He's always fun to have around, and he went with us to Idol.

Then, on Saturday, Marc and Jeff went off to do some errands, while I headed for a rugby pitch in the northern part of the Bronx. Believe it or not, it was a lovely setting. It's not what I think of when I think "the Bronx," but I tend to think of the parts around the Cross-Bronx Expressway, and this is a far different place.

The pitch (that's rugby language for "field") :) was in Van Cortland Park, named for Stephanus Van Cortlandt, the first native-born mayor of New York, and home of the oldest building in the Bronx, the Van Cortland Mansion, seen below.

Van Cortland Mansion

There are modern buildings nearby...

I liked the statue of the tortoise and hare that you can see near the bottom of that photo. Here's a closeup...

The park had acres of fields, and they were being used for all sorts of games: softball, rugby, cricket (yes, they were playing cricket there!) and others. The trees lining the fields look like they have been there for ages, especially the ones on the rocky hills. It can't be easy to grow there!

Big trees in the background

I noticed that one of the rock outcroppings was being used recreationally...

Of course, any rugby match will bring nice things to look at...

But I think we'll save the rugby photos for another day!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A staple remover and a walk down the block

Dodger had his staples removed (from surgery #2) today. The orthopedic surgeon said his patella is now nice and stable, and he thinks Dodger is walking very well, considering the length of time since the surgery.

He said we now can walk Dodger down one block, and then we can work up from there. So when we got home, I took him out of the car and took him for a walk. Just to the end of the block and back, but he was wagging furiously the whole way and sniffing trees, lampposts and the like all the way there and back.

Some of our neighbors were out, and it reminded me of the old days when neighbors would stop and chat with each other. Very nice.

However, tonight, Dodger and Mandy suffered traumatic experiences. Yes, that one thing worse than knee surgery: a bath! Actually, a shower, but the distinction is lost on them. Bernice would have gone in for one, too, but I ran out of dog shampoo. Honestly, that's fine with me. Dodger and Mandy needed it the worst. Besides, I'm exhausted, and washing two of them is plenty of work!

Anyhow, it was a good day. Our boy is really on the road to recovery now!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

That's celebrating?

This baffles me. To celebrate the Montreal Canadiens' win last night, some of the team's fans rioted, including attacking the police, burning patrol cars and vandalizing local businesses.

One of the several police cruisers that was burned

What kind of people think that a riot is a good way to celebrate? I'll never understand this. Apparently, this isn't new there. According to the article, "A similar riot after a Stanley Cup victory in 1993 caused major damage." This type of post-win mayhem has happened in other places, and I'm always mystified. I just can't relate to violence as a way to celebrate. What's wrong with people?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekend festivities

We did the uncle thing yesterday. Our nephews, Owen and Quinn, had their annual joint birthday party. Their birthdays are in March and May, so their parents rent a place in April and have one big party.

Since they're 3 and (almost) 5 years old, the venues for these events tend not to be the kind of places adults particularly enjoy. Yesterday, it was a "kids' gym," full of tumbling equipment, things to throw, etc.

The kids had fun, we helped spoil them and it was mercifully short. There were people there to coordinate the activities; among them was a young man who I enjoyed watching as he helped my nephews and the other kids. Of course, I enjoyed watching him because he was so good with kids. Yeah, that's why. ;)

See how helpful he is? Mmmm. Yeah, beautifully helpful.


Continuing to be deliciously helpful!

(I'm not going to put a face shot. I have some discretion!) :)

And now some photos of the honorees...

And their sister...

How about that for a look?

That's about it for this weekend. Nothing too exciting, but it was pretty relaxing.

If you want to read about (and see photos of) some of the hard work Marc has been doing in the yard, wander over to his blog. He did two posts this weekend, including lots of lovely photos.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Across the Universe

Normally, I don't care for covers of songs I like. One group whose songs are very special to me is The Beatles. I could go on for quite some time about The Beatles, a group that was like no other. Efforts to cover Beatles songs usually result in debacles like the one I witnessed a few weeks ago on American Idol. (And why do we watch that show, anyhow? Is it the "car wreck" theory? But I digress...)

Tonight, we watched the movie Across the Universe. It's a musical built around songs of The Beatles, and it was wonderful! We both loved it. New arrangements and new voices were brought to terrific old songs, and I loved the whole thing. I have to admit to being a bit skeptical before the movie started, but I was won over quickly.

It's a wonderful movie. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A really neat gift

I just got a great birthday gift (my birthday was several days ago, but it took some time to actually get this into my hands). I got one of these:

A Philips digital photo frame

Byrne and Marc both contributed to it, and it just arrived today. I loaded a bunch of photos into it, and I will take it to work tomorrow, so I can enjoy looking at it any time things are stressful or I just need a break from work. Most of the photos are from our trips, and I love reliving those moments.

Thank you, Byrne and Bokey! It's a great gift!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lunch in the park

I walk by the pond,
sunlight dancing on the rippling water,
ducks quacking as they fly overhead.
A Red-winged Blackbird sits,
clinging to a single blade of tall grass,
the reeds swaying in a gentle breeze,
ten feet of amber tranquility,
as fresh water flows over rocks from a source unseen.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Please, sir, may we have some more?

With apologies to Charles Dickens, the title of this post is the approach that nearly every charity to which I give seems to approach me (and, presumably, every other donor) these days. I send them some money, and they then inundate me with thank you letters that always end with a plea for more. They have all the subtlety of a junkie begging on the street.

Can they not even muster the restraint to wait a bit? Can't they truly be thankful for the donation and not spend a chunk of it on another solicitation days after I send them money?

I give more money to charity now than I ever have in the past. With each little increase in my wages, I edge up the total I give (since I decided to try to stick to giving 10% of my gross earnings to good causes), but I give to a smaller group of charities. The list still includes several causes, not just a few, but I have been cutting off the ones to which I give relatively small amounts ($50 or less), because they throw so much of it away on begging for more.

Does this approach work on anyone? I have to think most people are turned off by this ingratitude. I understand that donations are their life blood, but I would give more to a charity that said, "We're only going to ask twice a year, but please remember us whenever you can." In fact, one of our favorite charities, LIGALY (and the Long Island GLBT Services Network) rarely asks for money. They just notify us of events and invite us to attend. They have the class to know that we will be as generous as we can.

Why can't more organizations take that approach?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More surgery and an angry boy

Dodger is not happy. Yesterday, I took him back to the surgeon for a follow-up visit. Last week, the surgeon told Marc (who took Dodger in for that follow-up) that the patella (kneecap) seemed a little loose. The surgeon said that, while it wasn't a huge deal, it would be best to tighten it up.

So he said to come back in a week, so he could check again. When I took Dodger in yesterday, the surgeon said it still seemed a little loose. The surgery to correct it would be minor, compared to the surgery of a few weeks ago. "Just a couple of stitches, one on either side of the knee." (BTW, it's technically not called a "knee" in a dog. It's the "stifle joint." I have no idea why, but it may have something to do with Archie Bunker.)

So Dodger was checked in yesterday morning and was ready to go home last night. No overnight stay. That seemed good. What didn't occur to me is that we didn't get to see him right after the last surgery, since he was in the hospital for two days afterward, getting morphine, inpatient care and physical therapy. He also came home with a narcotic patch on him to keep the pain down. So Dodger immediately post-surgery was a new experience.

Last night, he just had a big bandage on his leg. No pain patch, and he was in a really foul mood. I guess I can't blame him, and I can't help but think that he was angry at both of us for taking him back to that place where they hurt him again. Remember, he had a very hard early life; he knows the world can be harsh and cruel. Perhaps I'm over-thinking it, but still...

Today, Marc checked on him at lunchtime and found that he was very uncomfortable. By the time I got home this evening, he seemed a bit better, but he's still hurting.

I hope this does it. I hope we're now on the road to recovery, because we can't stand seeing him hurting. For now, he's back to hopping around on three legs (and he was finally starting to use the fourth again!), but he should be doing better soon!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A nice weekend

Yesterday, we hosted a party. About 15 people from my office came over, and Marc stuffed them with food and drinks, as well as a fabulous dessert. It was a lot of fun.

Today, we had a relatively quiet day, and then a law student I know came over so I could help him prepare for a mock trial he's doing. (I also cooked shrimp scampi for all of us, so he got dinner, too.) His being stunningly cute doesn't hurt at all! ;) What I really liked is that my other half being a guy doesn't bother him in the slightest.

In fact, as he left, he said he should have us over. Okay, he said he was going to get his mom to cook for us. Well, he's only 20-something and still lives in his mom's house, but he assured us she'd love to have us over. Anyhow, the point is that he has no problem inviting a gay couple over for dinner. Things like that give me hope for the future.