Saturday, June 25, 2011

Victory in New York

I just received this email from HRC and am excited to pass this along to everyone. Especially because it happened on my wedding anniversary.....

Dear Stewart,

The hopes and dreams of millions just came true: Marriage equality is about to become the law of the land in New York.

Just now, in a bipartisan vote, the New York State Senate approved a bill granting same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities of marriage as everyone else. It'll soon go to Governor Cuomo – a stalwart champion of marriage equality – for his signature.

This was no easy victory. In 2009, right-wing groups helped derail marriage equality at the last minute. And just a few weeks ago, the extremist National Organization for Marriage (NOM) committed $1.5 million to stop us from passing this law.

Soon, New Yorkers young and old will be able to marry whomever they choose. Loving, committed couples will be recognized by law. And the cause of equality will have advanced yet again, in one of our nation's largest states. New York joins just five other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex couples to marry.

But this isn't just a victory for New Yorkers – it's a victory for supporters of equality nationwide. It brings us closer to the day when fair treatment is not just a hope or an aspiration, but a reality.

Stewart, you and I both know we won't win every fight along the way. But even the most heartbreaking losses are only temporary detours on the path to full equality. When we stand together, fight smart, and refuse to give up on a dream, we will get there in the end – just as we have in New York.

Thank you for all that you have done, and will do, to continue winning the civil rights battle of our generation.

Joe Solmonese
President HRC

One state at a time. I know that Michigan will follow, some day.


Friday, June 24, 2011


I pulled up to the grave site and as I stepped out of the long blue Cadillac hearse, I noticed this tacky plastic gargoyle that someone had planted on their loved one's grave. I couldn't help but think "How tacky!"

Then the day got even tackier.

It all started back at the funeral home where the service was held. The family had given us no indication as to who was to go first in the car line-up for the procession to the cemetery. When the first car arrived, he said that he was an uncle to the woman that died and that her two sons should go before him. It all sounded pretty straight forward and simple. Until the next three cars came in and they all claimed to be sons. None of them could grasp the idea that their cars should be facing in the same direction as the hearse. After finally getting the first two lined up properly, the third wanted to squeeze his car between the second son's car and the uncle's car. The only way he could do that was to put it in there sideways. He was already upset about a number of things so we decided that it was good enough. So that made the second line of cars not-so-straight because they had to swerve around his car. It turned out to be a small service and I didn't need the space anyway, so it really was no big deal.

When it came time to have the service, I had to go around to all the cars that people were lounging in "having a smoke" and remind them that the service was starting. One proclaimed to me that they couldn't start without him. And I told him that they just did. Forty five minutes into the service, we still had people arriving. They actually looked shocked that they were late. We even had two guys show up as we were bringing the casket out to the hearse. During the service, I don't think there was any moment that at least one of the three doors leading into the chapel wasn't open. People could not seem to sit down and listen for more than a five minute period and everyone had to get up and say something. Even those that were too upset to talk.

We finally got everyone into their cars and proceeded to the cemetery. After the committal service in the chapel at the cemetery, two more guys showed up and wanted us to open the casket for them to see her one more time. We got authorization from her daughter and opened it up, one more time. We then closed it and took it over to the grave. This is where it got interesting.

Many members of the family followed us to the grave site. As we lowered the casket, they started to sing. It was very nice and touching. The family had rented an artificial casket spray for flowers to save money. As I was taking them back to the hearse, I was mobbed by people wanting to take a flower, either for themselves or to put on her casket in the grave. I fought them off pretty good and got the flowers to safety. While I was doing that, the cemetery workers lowered the lid to the vault on top of the casket. The woman's brother then stood over the grave with an open bottle of whiskey (obviously had been sampled) and announced "One more for the road sis!" and poured about a quarter bottle on top of the vault. The woman's daughter (on the opposite side of the grave) yelled "OH NO YOU DON'T!" with a dive across her mothers open grave and sent her uncle and his whiskey flying. She then jumped down on top of her mother's vault weeping, trying to mop up the whiskey from the top of her cement vault with the fabric of her dress. We helped her back out of the hole and she sat for several more minutes with her feet dangling inside, crying. After a while she was able to stand up and finally people started to return to their cars.

This was all on a day when I had been up since the morning before, worked all night, took my dad to an appointment in the morning and then did this service, only to return to work that night. You just got to shake your head in disbelief.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two more

I was just roused from my comfy chair when all of a sudden there was a thud against the window followed by some fluttering of wings against the glass. I looked out onto the patio to find one more of the baby birds sitting on the arm of the patio chair. After a little shake of his head, and stretching of his wings, he flew off to the top of the willow tree at the back of the yard.

Yes, today there were two more birds that left the nest. They are both resting in the bush next to the tree where they were born just a few short weeks ago. The parents don't mind Pugsley being in the yard but I was chased away when I tried to video tape the two babies.

There is one more in the nest. Then this episode will be over.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Life Update

These are rough, unedited videos that I wanted to share with you today.
This video was shot just 4 days ago of our baby robins.

This one was shot just yesterday.

This morning I came home to find the largest of the babies sitting outside the nest on a lower branch.

Moments later as Pugsley was doing his morning thing, he (or she) took off for his first flight. Did rather good for the first time flying. Better than I would, I'm sure. The parents are on high alert, keeping most all of the other birds away. They don't seem to mind Pugsley at all and he just likes to watch them.
The other babies seem like they might be another day or two before taking off.
What an exciting day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Visitor from beyond

Years ago, when I first built my house, there was plenty of wildlife in the area. They had recently paved the main road and there were still farms growing corn and rhubarb, all around me. One day, I looked up from cleaning my car and there was a young female deer staring at me. Obviously lost, she grunted at me, jumped over my small car and continued down the street at a trot speed.

Since that day, we haven't had much more than the many birds that frequent our yard and some rabbits. Once they cleared the small area of woods that neighbored my street and built condos, it just hasn't been the same.

Then the other day, out of nowhere, I looked out the front door to see this little fella. He was, like the deer, very lost. He obviously didn't realize that a dog lived here as he came right up to the door.
He explored the yard, meandering around checking things out.
When he got too close to the robins nest, got chased away a little.

I quietly watched as he explored.
 Of course I didn't let Pugsley know that someone was in his yard or he would have wanted to go out and play.
 Perhaps our visitor will return someday from wherever he came from.
 Pugs was raised by his big brother Dash (the rabbit that I've mentioned before) and is always looking for new friends. Too bad these wild ones don't realize how gentle he is.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Apples to Apples, Dust to Dust

Today, we have a guest post from my husband. He spent several years working in a small funeral home in an even smaller town. He often tells me funny stories that happened along the way and I encourage him constantly to write it down. This is one of those stories.....

Stew and I were discussing the topic of  "shoes" and if it was customary to place them on the deceased inside the casket. I mean, are they really needed ? Will the ground be that hot or the clouds that wet at there final destination ?

Now it has been my experience, being in the business over the past seventeen years, that most directors do not place shoes on the deceased. Although I did meet a young director and father of fore that would tie the laces in a double knot. ( good habits are so hard to break.)

If footwear is brought in with the clothing they may be placed in the foot end of the casket but seldom worn. Unless specifically requested by the family.

This brings me to just such a time when a request was asked of our funeral home.

The deceased had lived at a group home for the mentally disabled. She was quite large and had given us grief in the embalming presses. (Leaking)

The family had asked that she wear her favorite fluffy red Elmo slippers. (Imagine a thousand years form now, archeologist's trying to figure that one out.)

We carefully hoisted her into the casket and placed lots of absorbent material around her mid section. This, in the unlikely event that any leaking may accrue. I stood back and took in the whole odd scene. She at one end and a pair of crazed punk Lemurs at the other.

During the visitation everything went well. That is, until some of the family got the brilliant idea to lift the bottom end of the casket lid to see if she really was waring the red Elmo slippers.

In doing so, water had spilled out of the casket flower piece and drained into the casket and, of coarse, all over the deceased.

Embarrassed, they replaced the lid and said nothing.

By the next morning, as we began to arrive for work, the smell was horrific. I walked in to find the funeral director, with a hair dryer in one hand and a can of Old Yankee, red apple room spray in the other. As we ran around opening windows and turning on fans, our other worker, Old Morris, walked in. Making a sour face he asked in a loud voice " Good god, it smells like rotten apples in here. What's the hell's going on ?" I could not have put it any better myself. We got the roomed aired out and carried on with the funeral that day with no one the wiser but us.
 Just another day in the funeral biz.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A walk in the outback

Not that "Outback". But it seemed hot enough for it.
92 in the shade according to this gage.

Fortunately, we have a few more trees to shade us than the Aussie Outback.

Just outside of town, across from the railroad tracks, sits a lovely stone cottage where my husband grew up.His 92 year old father and his 58 year old brother still live there. They are both a little obsessed with old vehicles.

We were there the other day preparing our boat for the water this year and I decided to take a little walk. Hidden in all the weeds, I was able to find these lovely beauties that have been collected.

It would look like a junk yard if they were all parked near each other. But they are spread out hear and there.

There is also tractors, boats and anything else you can think of.

These boys sure do love their toys.

Some collector would wet their pants over this mess.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The heart of the man

No man's life can be encompassed in one telling.
There is no way to give each year it's allotted weight, to include each event, each person who helped to shape a lifetime.
What can be done is to be faithful in spirit to the record and try to find one's way to the heart of the man.

- Gandhi

Friday, June 10, 2011

New Life

This season's new hopefuls

Since this blog is about life, today I'd like to show you what the universe has dropped on our front porch. Well, about 20 feet from our front porch. 

Mama bird keeping the eggs warm

Evidently, everything went so well the last time, that our local robin family has set up their nest once again in the crotch of the white pine in our garden. They have a fertile yard to hunt for worms in and the protection of our little guard dog to keep the predators away. Again, the nest is only about 3 feet off the ground. They never really mind when we are in the yard, gardening or even mowing the grass. Often I will find Pugsley sitting right under the nest in the shade of the tree. He protects them from the other birds and anything else that may wander in the yard. They seem right at home, as they should.
The day they hatched

Protective mama


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Motor City Pride

 Now there's an oxymoron for ya. Detroit, aka The Motor City, is falling apart. There are abandoned houses, buildings and factories everywhere you look. To drive through on the freeway will turn your stomach. The people that are left are the ones that can't afford to get out. After several years of corruption, the city has been picked apart to the point that the current mayor is looking to shrink the city, just to make it more manageable with a smaller government and infrastructure.

What does Detroit have? It has a few key people that believe in it. They have invested millions to try to bring it back. But it takes more than money. It takes people caring enough to clean up their little corner without someone forcing them to. It takes people in the suburbs to attend functions in the city and supporting local businesses.

This year, Motor City Pride moved the GLBT Pride festival from the neighboring suburb where it's been for nine years to the heart of the city. Right downtown in the river front park known as Heart Plaza. It's right on the riverfront, next to the world headquarters for General Motors and the tunnel that goes under the river to the neighboring city of Windsor, Canada.

In the past, the festival was held on the main street in the small suburban community. It was nice enough and felt rather safe and homey. Having it in Heart Plaza really opened it up for meandering from stage to stage enjoying the entertainment and allowed the vendor area to be in an area of it's own.

It was nicely done and didn't seem so much like a block party.

But something was missing. There were NO RAINBOWS!. What is a pride festival with no rainbows? And while there was plenty of food vendors present, in true Detroit fashion, everything downtown was closed on the weekend. Over 25,000 people there each day for two days and there were no open restaurants, stores or bars to go to other than the three casinos that have become the only thing to do in the city. What little bit of money is left in the area, is being sucked up by the casinos.All in all, it was a good day. The move to downtown was a wise choice by the event coordinators. The weather turned out to be perfect. It was mid 80's and sunny as you can tell from the pictures. There was three stages with varying entertainment and a dance floor set up in the underground area of the park. Our area gay and lesbian center is located in the city where the event used to be. They held a smaller event out there and even ran a shuttle from one to the other. I think that the total event would have been better if they had all worked together and not try to split things up like that. But we had fun anyway.

We took with us a young man that has been hanging around our house for the last 7 or 8 months. He's never been to a pride event before and likes to think of himself as a drag queen. It was great to see him enjoying himself "amongst his people". And to witness live drag shows by big name queens (at least around here they're big names).

Well, that's what we did last weekend. How's your summer shaping up? Anything to be proud of ?


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

525,600 Minutes

525,600 Minutes, 525,600 Moments so dear.
How do you measure a year?
-In daylights?
-In sunsets?
-In midnights?
-In cups of coffee?
-In laughter and strife?
How about Love.

Every day, I help people to work through the loss of a loved one. I've done this surprisingly with very little loss myself. Over the course of this 30 day blog challenge, I've faced many of my fears and demons. I've also, as you know, lost my own mother. Between those two things and trying to maintain a life of my own with my partner, I have put myself through quite the emotional roller coaster. To add a little more stress to these situations, we have been in the middle of a major kitchen remodel in our home. There have been days with no water at all in the house and days when eating in, was not an option. So there I was, an emotion wreck, without a shower or clean cloths, down at the local diner having a meal or two. Quite the sight.

What have I taken away from all of this?

It's all about LOVE!

As Betty pointed out in yesterday's comments, each day is a gift. In fact, each minute is. How we spend each and every one of those minutes, makes up the whole of our days, weeks, months and years. How will people remember you? How will they measure your life? Measure your life in love.... Seasons of Love.
The story never ends. I hope that my part of the story will be written and I will be remembered as someone that truly loved and was loved. So let's celebrate and remember our lives with love.
Daily, we make choices. Those choices make up who we are tomorrow. If we want people to love us and respect us, then we have to do the same for them. Even the poorest person can afford love and respect to give freely. Those things are free. Give them to everyone that you know and the left overs, give to those people that you don't know, yet.

How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter most is not what you have, but what you gave.
What will matter most is not your success, but your signifigance.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered by whom and for what.
A life of meaning and purpose and happiness.
That is what matters most. Spend each minute wisely.

Day 30 has finally come. It calls for a recent photo and something that I've learned over this 30 days. I had no idea what I was getting into. I hope that you've gotten some enjoyment out of this too. I can say that it's been a learning experience and I feel like a more enlightened and better man for having done it. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Stay tuned.

Portions of this post have been borrowed from Anthony Rapp's song, "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway Musical "Rent".