For the Birds

We were doing some outside cleaning and freshening up this weekend. Our house has two front entrances. The secondary one has two large magnolia bushes in front of it, so we don’t use it to enter or exit the house. (Side note: we’re having the bushes removed as soon as we’re able to have the porch repaired and repainted.)

When I went outside to sweep it off and wipe it down, I noticed some weeds and grass on top of the porch light.

on closer inspection, it turned out to be a nest:

and a quick snap of my phone camera revealed its an active nest.

The last thing I want to do is be a home wrecker. I guess I can finish cleaning that porch later this summer.

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By a thread

frog

Its hard to write about anything other than the protests. I won’t be one of those people who expresses my outrage and then moves on.

I’m tying to educate myself on what I can do to be part of the solution and keep the conversation going. I know, at the very least, I will not remain silent to avoid upsetting other white people when I refuse to accept their dismissive comments towards black and brown people (I’m talking to you “all live matters” and “but the looting…” people.) I’m trying to convert my anger into action. I’m trying harder to listen to people of color and let them tell me what they feel and what they want and need from me, not the other way around. I’m reading their stories.  I’m also trying to be sensitive to the fact that, as a gay man, while I absolutely believe we have shared experiences of oppression, it is definitely not the same, it is not the point,  and it is not a competition. I am struggling with acknowledging LGBTQ+ Pride month (June, y’all) in the midst of (what I hope) is a social revolution and profound change in the national conversation and action pertaining to the systematic, blatant, and deadly oppression and disenfranchisement of black and brown people. (Psst…the gay rights movement really gained momentum (note I did not say “started”) and forced gay oppression and abuse into the collective American face after the Stonewall Riots. Sometime, you need to make people see and hear you by whatever means necessary.) If you’ve never had to protest, march, or riot for your civil rights or equal treatment and protection under the law, let alone in the midst of a potentially life threatening pandemic, acknowledge that. And be grateful.

On the home front, we are dealing with several issues. Our fence is falling down, our septic system is on its last leg, and some of our trees are ailing. We are trying to address all the issues, coordinating bring people in (oer outside, as the case may be) to deal with the various issues in the order they need to be dealt with. The tree guys were here yesterday at 6:45am and spent several hours sheering the uppermost branches of a tall pine dropping branches onto, and battering, our already feeble fence. They then removed one third of our backyard Oak that had grown over our house and was damaging our roof. We have a fence guy on call, but we can’t start that work until we have a septic diagnostic done so we know what we’re facing with that. We are grateful to have some funds to pay for all of this (living frugally has paid off) but its wiping out what little savings safety net we had. If only it wasn’t hitting all at once.

Adding more straw to the camel’s back, the vet informed us our dogs need teeth cleanings and/or oral surgery to have a tooth or two removed. Expense aside, the thought of putting them through that is stressing me out.

Finally, we are starting to put in place a return to work plan and employees are already up in arms about safety protocols, PPE, fear of exposure, and losing their (admittedly temporary) telecommuting privileges.  As low-rung  management, I have the luxury of enacting directives from above, and taking hits from below, without actually getting to be part of the decision making.

All of this has amped up my anxiety – and my eating, which is wreaking havoc on my waistline, not to mention my self esteem.

I feel like  I missed the line I was supposed to stand in to get all the tools and coping mechanisms I need to  function in a crisis. Every day is an experiment in survival of the fittest and I’m definitely not winning. I am tired. I am weary.

And I am running out of ice cream.

 

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Black lives matter, too!

I feel broken and I have struggled with expressing this, and questioned whether I even have the right to, but I need to say this, even if no one is listening.

I’ll try to explain this in simple terms:

Stating black lives matter is not stating “instead of” or “more than,” it means “too.”

As in: “I don’t think black people should be killed for traffic violations, jogging, bird watching, or doing anything a white person can do a hundred times…a thousand times a day…without fear of death, because black lives matter, TOO, not just white ones.”

It’s just like saying Women and lgbt+ people shouldn’t have special protections under the law. We don’t. We have laws that had to be placed on the books to give us the same rights other people ALREADY had. Ironically, by denying others the same liberties, freedoms, and rights some people already have, you’re enshrining special rights, not preventing them.

Look. I’m a white guy. I don’t know from being a person of color one bit. As a gay man, I do know what it means to be treated as less than for most of my life. And we are no strangers to discrimination, hatred, and violence because of our very existence. But it’s not the same. You can’t tell I’m gay by the color of my skin.

More importantly, I’m human. And I feel sick watching this country brutalize part of its population over and over again, and turn a blind eye.

I don’t know what I can do. I don’t know how I can help. I don’t know what the fix is. But I know staying quiet and complacent is not the answer. So I’m saying something:

Stop terrorizing and killing black people for existing and then blaming them for fighting back. For standing (or kneeling) and saying ENOUGH!

I am not apologizing for senseless violence and looting. But if you can see cops (and self proclaimed white vigilantes) brutalizing and murdering black people every day, for daring to be alive and black and in society like, you know, every fucking other person, and not judge all cops and white people for the action of those “heinous few,” then I’m sure as hell certain you can apply the same rationale when comparing a few rotten apples to another entire race of people with skin darker than yours.

No more excuses. No more explanations. No more apologies. Unequivocally, people of color deserve every bit of respect, dignity, freedom, fairness, justice, protection, opportunity, support, trust, love, compassion, understanding, acceptance, inclusion, and cooperation that is automatically given to people not born with darker skin.

Their rage is justified. Their pain is real. Their lives are endangered. Their blood is running. And their lives FUCKING matter.

I know this one stupid post won’t matter. I know I won’t change a damn thing. But I have to say it, none the less:

To all of my fellow black Americans, community members, neighbors, family members, co-workers, and friends:

I see you. I hear you. I understand what you’re saying and doing, and I understand why you’re doing it. And even if you can’t see me as an ally, I do NOT see you as an enemy. I see you as a human being in pain. I see you as a community under attack. I see you as a people fighting for your lives.

You may not need to hear that from me. But I need to say it to you.

Until all of us are free, none of us are free.

Yours in solidarity.

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I’m just saying

Look, I’m not pretending to know what a perfect life looks like, but I’m thinking sipping Gimlets while watching the Justice League movie, sitting on the sofa in your air conditioned home, with your beloved partner and fur kids, has to be pretty damn close.

And…umm…Henry Cavill’s chest…just yum!

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And now, a word from my better half…

We just finished watching a new episode of Spiegletown Wild Kingdom. The Dogwood, the Azeleas, and the Lilacs are in full-bloom. And a couple of long lasting flowers are still hanging on the apple trees. (The Magnolia bushes, the Japanese Maple trees, and the Forsythia have already lost their blooms.)

The birds were eyeing us wearily – tempting the dogs, and politely letting us know that we could go back inside at any time. We could see six bird nests from the pavilion. Our flying neighbors always seem more at ease once we’ve returned to the screen porch or gone inside.

Two carpenter bees appeared to be getting ready for a housewarming, while two others struggled to escape the carpenter bee trap. Oh, the circle of life.

Speaking of which, no birds were harmed during tonight’s episode. However, Harvey and Rita Mae made multiple attempts to capture them. We’re pretty sure Rita Mae never actually saw the birds, and just ran because Harvey was running after them. However, she’s gotten a couple already this year, so birdie beware.

We’re enjoying every minute of it, but mornings of late involve so many bird symphonies and sightings that one wonders if we are on the edge of a bird-pocolypse. (Tippy Hedren, where are you?)

Perhaps most interesting was the wonderful music playing, and the wonderful time Sean and I had enjoying it all. (Him: Perfect Gimlets, Me: Gibson Martinis. And the sad emptying of another bottle of Tangueray.)

Jeffrey (aka Mrs. Sassybear)

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Do Not Disturb

If I don’t go to bed at my allotted time, and Harvey gets to my spot first, he refuses to budge. As far as he’s concerned “first come first serve.”

Sure, he only weighs 5 pounds and is the size of a large croissant, but when he’s nestled in and stubbornly refuses to move, he’s just an adorable lump of dead weight and he’s harder to move than you’d think. I’ve spent many a night contortioned around him until he finally gives in and let’s me lay in my spot.

Lesson learned. Get my arse to bed at a decent hour.

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Adult Toys

Nothing reminds me I’m a grown up more than getting excited over a new kitchen appliance.

The little food processor on the left is the first (and only) food processor I’ve (we’ve) ever owned. We got it as a wedding gift 21.5 years ago, and we’ve gotten by with it until now. The shiny big one on the right is the new one we got in the mail today.

After years of wishing I had a larger, more powerful food processor with a few more bells and whistles than my two speed, single blade 2 cup Cuisinart, we finally ordered a 12 cup multi option Hamilton Beach model.

I took it for a test drive tonight and shredded some cheese for fondue. It hummed and purred and shredded 3 cups of cheese in 30 seconds (give or take.) I’m definitely going to be playing with it more this weekend.

Don’t judge me! I’m sure I’m not the only man deriving great pleasure from an electric device purchased through the mail.

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La Familia

I don’t feel trapped with these three…I feel damn lucky!

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Hello, 49!

I thought it was going to be a low-key birthday weekend of quiet, rest, and solitude with me, Jeffrey and the dogs.

Wrong!

Much to my pleasant surprise, this guy came to celebrate my birthday with us:

I haven’t seen him since early March and have missed him horribly. These guys (along with many others) have made my birthday incredible, even in isolation:

I love these guys with all my heart, and they gave me a birthday to remember!

We did puzzles:

We did Mad Libs:

We ate (Gluten Free) donuts:

We played Skip-Bo:

I got balloons delivered by my Mom and Sister and a “Happy Birthday” serenade from the car:

I got cards from fabulous friends (thanks AM and Java!)

There were gifts and decorations:

We watched Gerald perform:

We had cocktails:

My dogs were an essential part of the weekend as well (of course):

Texts, emails, phone calls, and FaceTimes from so many people made my heart swell. If I didn’t know better, I’d thing I was dying.

Such an incredible weekend. And that it was all a total surprise made it 300% better.

Just goes to show that the right people can make even a lockdown birthday feel like a fabulous celebration – never underestimate the people you love (and who love you back!)

I’m feeling the love, folks.

Happy Birthday to me.

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