Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let's make canned carmelized onions! First go to Safeway and purchase a dozen sweet onions and some cider vinegar. Then chop the onions up.

18 cups of chopped onions.

Add 3/4 cup water, 3 cups sugar, and 3 teaspoons canning salt. Turn the burner on your 1950s Visibake gas stove on and set the onions to boil, covering the pot for the first 20 minutes.

Boiling onions.

Be surprised at how much liquid comes out of the onions! After the liquid has been dramatically reduced (it took forever), add 2 1/2 cups cider vinegar. Boil some more until it has reduced some more and the onions have gotten dark. Taste. Exclaim "Delicious!" loud enough to startle one or more of your feline companions, who have completely forgotten about how they pushed the back door open last night and ran away, causing yours-truly to have hysterics in the backyard because I could not find Puff, who finally crawled out of the bushes after 45 minutes, thereby ending said crisis.

Ready to be canned.

Be somewhat disappointed that the batch and a half of the carmelized onion recipe made only one large jar and four small jars worth of canned deliciousness.

Canned carmelized sweet onions.

As I was typing this two of the jars made that pleasant popping noise, indicating the jars sealed correctly. Canning is fun!

As a child I always wanted to find a secret staircase. Nancy Drew, whose mystery stories I loved (was that a sign I was a homo or what?), found several over the course of her sleuthing career.

Secret staircase!

I am out at a historic ranch site, where the 1870s house is being restored. They have been pulling off later additions and removing concrete slabs. I watch as the workers dig holes in the ground, checking to see whether they are finding artifacts.

1870s Ranch House.

The original house had five or six rooms, one of which had a basement. For Arizona, especially Arizona in the 1870s, that is very unusual. One reason why they may have built it is that the Apache were still raiding ranches at this time. If Apache approached, you could send the women and children down into the basement to keep them safe from bullets.

So the workers had removed the concrete floor in the room next to the room where the basement is. As they were digging up the loose dirt they started to hit rocks. I took over and soon uncovered a rectangular rock foundation with loose board lying inside of it.

Foundation and rocks.

The basement has a closet sticking into this room, and after I pulled off the boards I quickly located the beadboard ceiling of the closet. However, the area next to it had fill dirt and as I started to remove it I found out that the rectangular area was the original stairways down into the basement.

Partly excavated staircase.

It is difficult to see, but I uncovered the wooden top step of the staircase, leaving the rest still buried in dirt.

Top step.

I know, not as exciting as Nancy Drew's secret staircases, but it pretty amazing to see a long-buried wooden staircase, one that helps tell the story of life on this ranch back in the days when you had to hide in the basement if the Indians attacked (and as far as I know, the ranch was never attacked).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Well, what have I been up to? Not really paying attention to the news, I watched some telly the other night and the political ads were just ridiculous. I went to Ms. Ruth McClung's website (the Republican running against my US Representative) and it was like looking at some high school student's term paper. She claims she is a rocket scientist. Right.

Work is going well, I am still gainfully employed. The shingles pain has largely subsided and I correctly diagnosed someone else as having this affliction.

Last night I made another batch of watermelon rind pickles, using half brown sugar instead of refined white sugar. They come out much darker, although I think the taste is probably the same. Someone asked why I am making them- Holiday presents!

Brown sugar watermelon rind pickles.

Is it just me, or is Facebook just getting boring?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Question... So which is worse, a politician who publically pretends to hate the homosexuals, while personally not giving a crap (e.g., George Bush, John McCain); or a politician who publically pretends to love the homosexuals (with some reservations), while personally not giving a crap (e.g., Barack Obama)?

This has been on my mind the last few days, especially after Mr. Obama directed the Department of Justice to file injunctions on National Coming Out Day and on the day when people were remembering the deaths of bullied gay teenagers. So fucking awesomely classy, Mr. Fierce Advocate.

At least if John McCain had won, I would have not had any expectations dashed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I changed high schools between 9th and 10th grades. It was a miracle. At the very small school I had attended (300 kids, kindergarten through 12th grade), I was unpopular. Picked on because I was physically weak and too smart. Some of the kids suspected I was a fag. I had no close friends, I was miserable.

My father's mid-life crisis consisted of uprooting our family and moving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My home life became a nightmare of mental abuse from him, his way of dealing with the fact that he was pretty much a failure at everything he did. School became an escape. At Sault High I made friends with some of the girls- Michelle, Angie, Jennifer, Marjorie, Mary, Missy. I got my first ever "A" in gym class (the teacher told me that he graded on how hard I tried, not on how fast I could run). No one cared if I liked to read.

But I still kept quiet about probably the most important facet of my life. I was a homo, a faggot. Queer. Although there wasn't a lot of anti-fag stuff at school (at least I don't remember any), I knew that it was something that other people didn't accept.

At graduation night I remember seeing one of my classmates, Scott, who I didn't know very well. I can see his face in my mind. A few months after graduation, he killed himself, supposedly because he was gay. I remember being startled when I heard this.

I never considered suicide because I always assumed that life would get better after I went to college. I escaped to the University of Michigan, despite my father's efforts to prevent me from going.

The first gay person I met was my resident advisor on my hall. Good lord. All of the stereotypes of gay men that I had heard about- effeminate, high-pitched voice, weird- well, he certainly fit the bill. And I was so insecure that I thought to myself, "If I come out, I will be just like that." So I didn't come out. I remained hidden away. Occasionally I would go to the graduate library and browse the HQ 75 section, looking at the small set of books on the topic. But I was too scared to come out.

I stayed in the dorm my junior year and in February of that year some of the guys decided to have a "No Fags" party. They put up signs all around campus- that red circle with a slash mark through it over two stick figures butt-fucking. That year I had a closeted resident advisor, Mitchell, who did nothing to stop the party. I was too chicken and closeted to do anything either. So I sat in my room fuming while the hall was packed with people attending the "No Fags" party, embarrassed that I was such a fucking wuss. One of the hosts of the party is now a prominent Republican lawyer in Ohio.

So the next Monday I called the University of Michigan's Gay and Lesbian Office, which miraculously the school had, and joined a Coming Out Group which met every week. Going to that first meeting was one of the scariest things I have ever done. This was in the days before the Internet, before major and minor celebrities dared to come out, before there was even a single positive gay or lesbian character on television (Steven Carrington did not count). And I discovered that being an out gay man was so much better than I have ever imagined.

So yes, things do get better. Like every person, I have my ups and downs. But the ups vastly outweigh the downs (in particular, right now is AWESOME). I don't think I would ever have imagined, back when I was a scared teenager, that my life would be as great as it is now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I travelled north to Flagstaff to go camping with Evan at Upper Lake Mary. We canoed across the lake and I managed not to do anything more embarrassing than have the end of my oar fall off.

The small cove next to our campsite.

The lake is ringed by tall pine trees. On the mesa next to our campsite I saw elk poop.


We gathered wood for a campfire and Evan made supper. We sipped some nice tequila and had some beers.

The sun is setting.

After sunset the moon rose and there were a million stars in the sky.


We were awakened in the middle of the night by the biggest skunk I have ever seen trying to have some corn chips. It ran away after I made a loud hissing noise. I was glad we did not get sprayed.

It was an awesome weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You know I was a big supporter of Obama when he was running for president. Not so much anymore, although I am soooo glad John McCain is not our president. The constant foot dragging over DADT and DOMA and the obvious instructions to the Justice Department to continue appealing these discriminatory laws has dulled my enthusiasm toward Obama. Really, how hard can it be to tell someone in the Justice department to stop?

It sucks being a second class citizen just because religious nuts and politicians need someone to hate so bad. It used to be the Communists, but after they went away in 1989, faggots and dykes and trannies got the spotlight turned on us and holy motherfucking zombie Jesus, it has certainly made Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, and other peoples very fucking rich. It must be alarming to these cretins that the cash cow is going to stop once the young folks grow up or the country goes utterly bankrupt (or both).

Anyways, I expect the nastiness and violence with grow as we grow closer to obtaining equal civil rights. You can see it in the words of that loathsome "person" Maggie Gallagher, who is getting more shrill and threatening as time passes.

Someday, she will be a footnote in someone's PhD dissertation. I hope I live long enough to crap on her tombstone. Isn't that a nasty thing to think? But truly, she and her ilk are evil and don't deserve any respect.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And the winner is.... Demas. He received 11 votes, followed by James (9), John (2), and poor Frank (1). And most people correctly guessed that James was my favorite. He is dreamy.

In case you were wondering, James was born in Bohemia (modern-day Czech Republic) in 1857, was married to Mary in 1881, and had five children- Stephen, James, Adelaide Josephine, Julius Alva, and Hortense Harriet. He owned a jewelry store that I think is still in business. He died in 1931.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In honor of National Coming Out Day I decided to do two things. First, I went to NewspaperArchive.com and searched the scanned newspapers from my hometown, Traverse City, Michigan, to see the year when certain words were considered "fit" enough to print in the local newspaper. This may not be completely accurate, since not every issue has been scanned:

- sodomy: 1948
- homosexual: 1950
- homosexuality: 1953
- lesbian: 1967
- faggot: 1976
- buggery: 1977

I also looked at "queer," "gay," and "dyke" but those words had other uses and there were Gay and Van Dyke families in my hometown, so it was too time consuming to track down the first time they appeared in usage connected with us homos. I also learned that "faggoting" was a sewing term!

All of the early usages appeared in national stories, the McCarthy hearings were the first time "homosexual" was allowed in print and an advice column was the first time "lesbian" was printed.

Secondly, I present to you photographs of four men from a circa 1900 publication. Who is the handsomest? Please vote in the comment section.





Can you guess who I think is the best looking of these 19th century men?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Strawberry jam. First, buy the very inexpensive strawberries at Safeway. I sliced the tops off and then mostly just sliced them in half because I like chunky jam.


I used four packages of strawberries which comes out to about 10 cups sliced strawberries. I dumped them in a big pot and added (gulp!) 14 cups sugar.

Strawberries and sugar.

I used the CERTO package recipe and honestly, I think next time I will reduce the amount of sugar, it is rather sweet. I then cooked and stirred until it boiled. I added a tablespoon of butter to reduce the amount of foaming.

Strawberries, sugar, butter, and liquid pectin.

I poured the jam into four big and three little jars (I could have used all big jars, since I have a bowl left over). After processing them in a boiling water bath, I sat and listened to the lids make that distinctive popping sound, indicating they were properly sealed.

Chunky strawberry jam.

Jenny asked about canning equipment. I purchased the large kettle and home canning kit on Amazon (the kettle is on sale!). Canning jars and lids can be found at Ace Hardware or at Fry's grocery store (the price is about the same). I have found that I need to ask for my canning jars back from people, otherwise they end up in the recycling.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Alex came down from Phoenix along with Pancake and Buddy and we went to Tucson Pride. According to the little booklet, it is the 33rd year.


I will admit to not being in the best spirits. I had heard tell that having shingles was painful, but didn't know just how painful until I lay in bed last night and it felt like someone was stabbing me over and over again in the chest. The vicodin numbed the pain, but made me sooooo nauseous. I just took another half pill and I can already feel the spaciness coming on. So yeah, WHINE!

Anyhow, we got to Pride fairly early because I wanted to see Tom Goss perform. I missed him last time he was in Tucson, but he is a Facebook friend and I have been following him. He and his boyfriend Michael got married a week ago in Washington, D.C.

So Alex and I, and the dogs, plopped down on the lawn and listened to a drag queen have a little fit because something wasn't right on stage. Another impersonator walked by and I asked to take a picture.

She was very gracious and graceful.

We admired a very cute guy and then he got up on stage to sing and it turned out to be Tom.

Tom Goss.

I liked his music. Afterward, we went to meet him and his husband and I purchased a CD.

Homer and Tom.

At home I lay on the couch and feel asleep, and after Alex went to meet his friends back at Pride, I went to sleep again. I finally got up and went to the store to buy some ingredients for tomorrow's canning project.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Raul Grijalva is my US Representative. He is a Tucson-native, served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, and is an honorable man. He has been unpopular among many people for pushing for a boycott of the state after Governor Brewer signed the unconstitutional SB 1070 legislation. After portions of the law were declared unconstitutional, he rescinded his call for a boycott.

Raul Grijalva.

Not surprisingly, for a Native of southern Arizona, he has Mexican ancestry.

Ruth McClung is the Republican running against Mr. Grijalva. Below is the piece of campaign literature I received from the Arizona Republican Party, which sent it out on McClung's behalf.

Courtesy, Arizona Republican Party.

In case you didn't notice, the Arizona Republican Party photo-shopped Mr. Grijalva's moustache to look like the racist, stereotypical depictions of Mexicans that used to common back before people started to think that maybe that wasn't such a cool thing to do. Example below:

I am surprised that the Arizona Republican Party didn't photo-shop a sombrero onto Mr. Grijalva's head.

I also received campaign material from Mr. Grijalva. No photo-shopped images of Ruth McClung.

I sent her an email telling her she should be ashamed of herself.

Well it wasn't a spider bite after all. Instead I have a case of shingles. Nice. I am waiting for the pharmacy to bottle up some pills (including Vicodin!). The doctor was pleased that I had caught it so early (thanks to blog reader Stephen for diagnosing me!).

Thursday, October 07, 2010

So on Monday my skin on the left side of my chest started to ache. Having a shirt rub against it was painful. That continued on Tuesday. On Wednesday I looked in the mirror and there were a cluster of small raised marks below my arm. You can sorta see them in this very blurry photo.

Blurry bite marks.

The skin for about a foot in diameter around these bite marks is remarkably tender. Just sitting here as I type this, the skin aches soooo bad.

I thought it was a kissing bug, which we have here in Tucson. But I showed it to Lisa and Susan at work and they said no (they have experienced with kissing bug bites). Turns out it is some sort of spider, perhaps a black widow? Probably happened when I was pulling weeds on Monday afternoon or perhaps while I was sleeping.

Anyways, I recommend not getting bitten by insects. It is very painful.

Less painful, but somewhat itchy, is my neck since I haven't shaved in about 9 or 10 days. I am turning into Caveman Homer.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010


- I couldn't figure out why the skin on the left side of my chest hurt sooooo bad. This morning I discovered a cluster of bites- apparently I've been nibbled on by spider (co-workers looked at the bite marks and siad they were not kissing bugs).

- We have had a stormy last couple of days. While the rain pounded down last night I discovered water leaking through the top of my bedroom window. That is annoying.

- Going camping up in Flagstaff area in a couple of weekends.

- Bought Mummy's plane ticket, she arrives November 20th for five months.

- Haven't shaved in 8 days or so. SCRUFFY!

Monday, October 04, 2010

It's like a nature show outside my window at work. Hawk has decided to hang out a lot, occasionally watching me. On Friday it was busy looking for something to eat.


A squirrel also likes to hang out under the mesquite tree, eating the pods. The two had a confrontation and I called my co-workers in the next room to watch as Hawk chased Squirrel around.

Hawk vs. Squirrel.

I was moving from one window to another when I heard them cheering- Squirrel had gotten away (this time). Hawk later caught something else or found some road kill, and was busy tearing it apart on top of the post.

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