Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas in Arizona

It rarely snows in the great Phoenix area, yeah that shocked ya back a bit didn't it!  Last year we did have a brief snowstorm, but it was in late January, not around Christmas.  Every year the Tempe Marketplace Mall has a snowstorm from daily from 7-8 pm. The kids run around trying to catch the flakes, it really is festive.  Its really amazing, to watch it snow at 60F!  I tried to capture a picture of it, but some how I just couldnt get the snow to show up with the camera in my iphone, so here's a snap I found on the webby.
These next two are my photos, snapped at the Tempe Marketplace on a Meetup movie night.
There are festive Christmas lights everywhere, but the malls really go all out with their decorations.  So, even if it doesn't have that Christmas card look of glistening snow laying around and about, it does lift ones spirits.

Tomorrow, the 15th, I fly back to Alaska for 2 weeks to celebrate with the family.  Without a doubt I am going to die of cold.  Today while doing laundry, which is on the patio, the cold was biting into me quite firmly.  Convinced that the temps had to be hovering around freezing, I did a quick check on my phone to find out it was all of 53......sigh.  I have turned into a weather wimp!  The high today at my Alaskan home was 7. 










This will be me on the way to the grocery store!  Gotta watch out for those polar bears, dontcha know.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: Two views of Military life under DADT

I have a tendency to binge on one topic, and I some how got off on the lives of men in the military under DADT.  Most likely it was a suggestion from Amazon based upon the topics I enjoy reading. 

While these two books are an enjoyable read, they come at the topic of how DADT affected their lives from two totally different directions.  The main focus of the books aren't from the same vantage point either, something that I found interesting and really rounded out the experience of serving under this stupid policy.

Brett Jones 
PRIDE:The Story Of The First Openly Gay Navy Seal




                                                                            PROLOGUE
                                                                                In Danger

"I hung up the payphone with my head hanging towards the ground.  "Fuck. Fuck, Fuck! How could they possibly have found out that I am gay?  I am always so careful.  I am always really careful.  Somebody must have informed on me...but who?  Who do I know that would do such a thing?  Take a breath, Brett, and just breathe.  Just. Breathe. Dammit."  I thought to myself while exhaling deeply.  I looked over to the gate and saw that my flight had already started boarding."

This is how his book begins and it takes the majority of the book to cycle back around to this point in time.  What fills the rest of his book is his journey to become a Seal.  And while I knew it was an arduous ordeal where most of the men who start the training wash out, I literally had no idea just how grueling the training actually is.  He is open and candid about his flaws and his weaknesses. 

When his parents found out he was gay, they had his older brother drive him to a cheap hotel, gave him $300 and told him never return.  He was a senior in High School, yup a good "christian" woman and his Air Force father thought it was acceptable to toss out their son.  He finished school and at some point between his being tossed out and joining the Navy his parents let him move back home. 

The primary focus of this book is Brett's fight to excel in the Navy and become the end all and be all to him, a Seal.  His relationship with the man which caused him to be released from the Navy is only touched on.  He is open about being gay and different hookups but this portion of who he is really takes a back seat to Brett Jones, Seal.  He has an epilogue letting you know how his life after the Seals has been.

This book was a page turner for me.  I was engrossed from the the first paragraph to the last word.  I will admit that I wish he would have included more about the relationship with the fella he was living with while a Seal, but then again, maybe he didnt want to invade his privacy. 


Stephan Snyder-Hill  
Soldier of Change: From the Closet to the Forefront of the Gay Rights Movement
Forward by George Takei

You might remember this video from the Republican Debate September 22, 2011, where a serving soldier on active duty in Iraq was booed by the audience.



                                                 1 A Leap of Faith

"We boarded the plane.  I sat down and closed by eyes.  I looked down at my watch, December 4, 2010, 22:16.  Could this be happening again?  My mind was like a film projector, flickering backa nd forthe between thought - my first deployment to Iraq twenty years ago for Desert Storm, my boyfriend Josh, my parents, my brother, my pets- then back to Josh.  We had been dating only a few months, but I knew this ws the person I wanted to spend my life with.  We'd had to say goodbye underneath an escalator, where no one could see us.  Knowing I was leaving for war,  knowing I might not ever see him again, I held him tighter than I'd ever held anyone.  All around us husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, hugged and kissed each other in plain sight, without sexrecy, without shame.  Josh and I wiped our tear dry and left our hideout in opposite directions so people didn't notice.  This is the real fact of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Stephan's book while talking a great deal about his life in the Army focuses more upon how restrictive his life was while serving under DADT.  How he would race around to remove photos of him and his boyfriend.  How he made sure never to be overheard on the phone while talking with Josh.  The whole game of changing Josh's gender by using feminine pronouns when talking about his love life.  How he hated having to field questions about why he isnt married, or has pictures of his "girlfriend", until he finally had a female friend pose for pictures with him to hush up the whispers.

The last part of the book was talking about his lawsuit and the advocacy work him and his husband Josh have been a part of.

There were times I felt this book lagged a bit, but was a solid read.  When the book was finished, you know who Stephan Synder-Hill is, and he is a very likeable chap.  What I found the most interesting how life under DADT was miles worse than before it took effect.  After DADT it became a witch hunt for gays and lesbians in the military, and people were prying constantly for personal information,  checking for facts that didn't match up with previous telling of the same story.  It was hard for Stephan to come out, and he wasn't planning on showing his face on camera, even after DADT was repealed.  How his company reacted to his coming out was a very strong portion of the story, and at times surprising to me as a reader.
 

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day


Today over at Joemygod's blog, I had a very interesting conversation and thought I'd share it here.

Jim: "Perhaps my biggest disappointment with gay culture is how many men have continued to play Russian roulette with their health despite the virtual fool-proof insurance of simply using a condom. I haven't had "unprotected sex" in almost there decades but frankly couldn't imagine a more fantastic carnal history. And it's included a lot of positive men - the same ones so many others want nothing to do with once they turn positive. In fact I'm turned-off by anyone who demonstrates such open contempt for themselves and their partners by not using a condom. They can otherwise be the hottest conquest I've ever contemplated, but if they want to sell me some BS about how I should take their calculated risk... forget it. Because just like someone who wasn't wearing a seat belt when they had a life-changing car accident, I've never met a HIV positive man who thinks the partner who gave him HIV was somehow worth it in the end. (pun intended) There are plenty of incredible men who hold themselves - and YOU - in higher regard. The rest are selling themselves - and YOU - something so much less. Get with the program already."

Biki: "Wonderful! You hit the nail on the head, perfectly. I often wonder if some of the refusal to use condoms is having to grow up hidden and believing there is something wrong and vile about being lgbt? If we can ever normalize sex across the board as an act that as innate as breathing and as important, no matter what gender(s) your partner(s) are, then maybe at that time we will learn to care more about ourselves and others?"

Jim: "You bet I think it's a manifestation of self loathing, and/or a belief their life won't be worth much when they get older anyway. Why else would someone live like they're that worthless. It's acting-out exactly what the haters and homophobes have been selling all along. Now that I'm past my 50s, I realize more than ever how much my healthy survival is perhaps the wisest personal decision I've ever made, and the greatest triumph against those who'd rather see me sick or dead. And all I had to do was follow a simple protocol that took NOTHING of any real consequence away from an amazingly rich and fulfilling sex life - that continues today. Don't buy into the hate. Take care of yourself. You really ARE worth it after all."

If I had unlimited funds I would blanket this country with bill boards quoting Jim's words.


Don't buy into the hate. Take care of yourself. You really ARE worth it after all.


Words I think we all need to embed deeply within ourselves and believe.   It doesn't matter if we are LGBT or straight, which gender if any, skin color,  or if we are gifted or disabled.  We are all worth it.
All of us.



Friday, November 28, 2014

TH Comes to Visit

 TH was here in Arizona for 10 lovely days.  Sigh.....it was the best 10 days since I left Alaska.

Which meant a trip to the airport,  eeek!  I've been in quite a few airports, but the traffic lanes at Skyharbor are beyond silly.  And I always end up in trouble, in the wrong lane, missing the terminal completely, and having to leave the airport to circle around for a new try, sigh.  However, this time was different!  They have finished the light rail connection to the airport.  Triple dog score!  I drove to the free park and ride lot, left wee George and boarded the train for Skyharbor.  Its totally amazing, after leaving the light rail, you ride up an escalator to a beautifully designed moving sidewalk hallway, then a light rail trip to the airport, and if need be a shuttle bus ride to the correct terminal.

      details of the floor design

 the glassed in skywalk over the terminal roads
 looking thru the doorway at the tracks with a window wall bisecting.  a wee bit of trompe l'oeil camera work

 It was the best trip ever to pick up someone from the airport.  I arrived in plenty of time, was cool, calm and relaxed.  TH liked the trip on the light rail as well.  Oh, and the price was right.  $6.00 for the both of us! 


We had some great talks about our future and how long he should work, it looks like June is the new retirement date.  But that could change, and its ok if it does. 

On Friday, we packed George up with suitcases and a cooler full of drinks and headed out to Tombstone and Bisbee, which we never managed to see, we fell in love with Tombstone.  We decided to drive state roads as much as possible to really see more of small town Arizona.  One thing we learned is just how much cotton is grown here!  Its truly amazing to see cotton as far as the eye can see.

Early afternoon we pulled into the hotel, dropped off our bags and headed out to see Tombstone.  The old main street is off limits to car traffic, something we both really enjoyed.  Most of the "downtown" area is original to the 1880's era.  While most of the bars and business buildings are all converted into gift shops the buildings themselves are mostly untouched.  There are a few that have retained their unchanged identity.  The Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper building and the Bird Cage Theater.  The cool thing about the Bird Cage is that when the silver mines went bust, in 1889 the owners, just locked the doors and walked away!  With thousands of dollars of mirrors, a grand piano and other furnishings.  The building remained sealed until new owners bought it in 1934 and found it mostly untouched!  I didnt take any pictures inside of this amazing building, because your gentle blogger followed the rules about no photography within the theater.  However, not all is lost as there are others who aren't as rule following as I.

The red curtained areas are the "bird cages" for the soiled doves to ply their trade.  The area that used to seat the audience is now housing artifacts from the Tombstone area.  Many interesting wee items, but it was the building and the original fittings that fascinated us.

A long horn steer at Big Nose Kate's Saloon, where we had great burgers.  They had a fun thing where you can don a duster, handkerchief and stetson and they toss a sign around your neck, along with a noose, to hang the "town drunk".  And your loved ones can snap a photo.  I wanted TH to be hanged, but he declined.



 These are the lovely horses that pulled the stagecoach around the main part of town.  The man on the seat is Tom and he narrated the history of Tombstone as we slowly rode for 15 minutes.  The company is owned by a 4th generation native of the town, his family came into the area a few years before the town was established.  Tom was a fountain of information, so much so that I wanted to ride again just to listen to it all again.
We fell in love with Tombstone, and if it had a bigger population, I'd move there in a heart beat.  Its considered mid-level at 4,540 feet, and so the weather is much milder than in the lowlands around Phoenix.  The wind smells sweet and fresh and there was just something about the light and the air and the scenery that tugged me to live there.  We even went to look at a house, that is just our style, surrounded by ranch land and mountains.
After checking out of our hotel we took a long, convoluted path home, going through many towns, and dipping within a few miles of the Mexican border.  The really odd thing was about 20 miles from the border was a border crossing.




Complete with sniffing dogs and very serious looking boarder patrol men.  I didnt know if they would allow me to snap a picture closer in, so I took one where they couldnt see me.  I actually got yelled at entering Canada for attempting to snap a pic of the crossing where the guards could see me!

We slipped into Tucson in time for lunch, and yes we timed it so we would be full on hungry for our favorite restaurant in all of Arizona, The Tucson Tamale Company.
The food is AMAZING!  The guacamole is so good, I just want to eat it with a spoon, the hell with chips!  Next time, I'll do just that!





And then, it was time for TH to head home again. 








Monday, October 20, 2014

L G S M !

This is a movie that shouldnt be missed.  My meetup group saw this Saturday night, and it was fantastic.  It draws one right in, and never lets up until the triumphant end.

Its a story about the Mining Strike in the UK. 

And the LGBT being targets for violence, from citizens and the police, and sadly, parents. 

Stir in the beginning horror of the AIDS crises.

But what this film is truly about is finding the common ground that exists between us all, no matter how divergent the groups seem to be.

Love,  this film has acres of love, in all its wondrous corners, and where its least expected.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hallelujah!!!!!

Alaskans are free at last!  Monday morning equal marriage licenses will be available and a quick three day wait and then

M A R R I A G E!






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sweetness and Hate! Now! in one very Convenient Package!


Saturday night i had a meetup, the plan of attack was to meet in front of a local cupcake store in downtown Tempe, choose our treats and walk to Starbucks and buy liquids and sit and eat and visit.  Six people, including myself were on tap to come.
Well, one of the meetup members, Trica is celiac like me, however she isnt the least bit careful and does cheat a goodly bit.  And she is also allergic to soy.  The cupcake place does offer GF cupcakes, but they say their could be cross contact due to them being made within the same kitchen.  However, their good works dont help me as they use dairy and eggs, so none for me.  The store only used to offer the GF cakes once a week, but they must have expanded their GF offerings as they had two flavors that night.

Not knowing if there would be any treats for her, she was excited that i was going to make cupcakes for the two of us.  When i grocery shopped I made sure to by soy free vegan butter, and to read the cake mix to be sure its soy free.

  ok!  all set! 
 
Saturday came, i heated up mr. oven and set to work!  Just as i shut the oven with the cakes nestled within their paper liners, I said a very filthy word, I had used soy milk. 
 
 blast and damnation!
Quick quick I ran into the living room fired up the computer, and started looking for a cup cake recipe that i had all the ingredients for.  Oh this one sounded good, and I had all the ingredients!  As i blended the flour the thought hit me, i only have soy milk!   I need to go to the store after all!
Oh!
Wait!
Last week I accidentally purchased chocolate almond milk instead of soy, and it was NASTY to drink.  Totally the wrong texture, way to thin and odd tasting.  But what the hell, it will be entombed within a cupcake, so no worries!  Added that in, slipped them into the oven and hoped.
My timer on my phone jingled jangled and sure enough, they were done!  Whoopie!
After they were cool enough to taste, I bravely took a bite and
OH MY HEAVENS!   
these were the best cupcakes ever!!!  like seriously ever!
While they were cooling awaiting their crowning glory of frosting, and no, I dont go in for miles high frosting, just an old fashioned amount, thank you very much!  I left a comment on her blog telling her how much i adored the cupcakes.  Thanked her a zillion times.  Trica liked the cupcakes, heck so did everyone else that tried them.  She bought one even though they couldnt promise there wasnt soy in them???  Yeah I dont get Trica at all. 
Yesterday while doing my once around the web, I thought I'd go back and see if she left a comment to me.  And you know what?  She deleted my comment! 
gone!  
nada!
el disappear-e-o!
Then I looked at her profile, god and jebus is mentioned a zillion times.  Ahhh so she was offended that a transman liked her treats.  Wow, how christian is that of her?
Oh well, I suppose not everyone can live according to that big book they admire.

 FACE PALM!! 

oh my!  Thats just what she was doing, yeah?  Learned her hate from that book quite well i'd say.