Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Well another year is over. Can't say I am sad to see 2013 go. It was a year of disappointment and no real progress. A lot of the goals I had set for myself (get a book completed, save money) fell by the wayside. Some other stuff happened too. Turning 50 and experiencing one of the dullest birthdays ever, well that was a thrill. Suddenly single. Breaking a tooth. Trying to be patient with mother in her elderly-ness.

There were a few highlights. Teaching field school and meeting a younger generation. Interesting to see how things have changed, including attitudes. A trip to see Forrest and Travis. A trip to see LeGrand. Some new old clothes. Getting some work done on the house and yard. That article in American Ancestors magazine. The All Souls party (although I was less of a fan of the actual Procession).

If you had asked me a year ago about certain things I would not have thought they would happen they way they did. But life is full of unexpected events and you cannot predict things. If someone had told me nine states would legalize same sex marriage including Utah (Utah!) I probably would not have believed them.

Not making any resolutions or goals. Why set yourself up for disappointment? Here's hoping that 2014 is better than 2013. If you happen to read this, I wish you a Happy New Year.

Annual end-of-year self portrait.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Well I get to have a crown put on my tooth on January 9. The dentist filed down the sharp edges so until then I won't be gouging out my cheek.

At home I am stir crazy and lonely. My mother continues in her elderly-ness. For some reason the city did not pick up recycling and she asked me if I had bounced a check. I asked her if she knew how rude that was, that I had not bounced a check in 25 years (Actually, I believe it was in 1986). I know exactly how much money I have or don't have.

I wonder sometimes whether she is the least bit self-aware. Very frustrating dealing with minor things that in my mother's mind are so major that she automatically gives up. I hope I don't get like this when I am old.

And it is so quiet here. He doesn't call me. Guess I am forgotten now. I come across the notes he wrote me in unexpected places. I thought about gathering them up and sending them back. I erased some pictures. It didn't make me feel better. You would think after six months I would be numb or maybe just over it, but I am not.

I don't have any big dreams for the next year. I've got to change some things I guess.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

So I'm sitting at my desk typing away, eating a Frito, and I bite into a rock, I think. I spit it out and then realize my mouth feels weird. Geez, I just broke the corner off of my left first maxillary molar.

The offending cusp.

I've only had one dental caries since 1985 and I think it was actually this took that got worked on last year. Anyways, it feels so strange- I can feel the sharp edge of the filling scraping the inside of my cheek.

Hopefully, my dentist is open tomorrow and I can get this fixed before I go crazy. Crown or root canal- I can hardly wait.

Honestly, I have been dreading the holidays. It all seemed to be rote- get a tree, make some cards, buy some presents, put up some lights.

Mummy's tree and presents.

I made some more snowman cards. I am creative.


Doug came over and we opened presents. Then I dressed up and went over to Richard's house for his annual party, taking some vanilla meringues with me.

Richard's 12-foot-tall tree.

I was over-dressed and hot, so I went outside and made some artsy light photos.


I ate a little cookie covered in powdered sugar and it got on my vest.


I got nice presents- a Lincoln Log set, a pair of Smokey Bear salt and pepper shakers, and a vintage blue plate.


We opened the Lincoln Logs and just as the comments on Amazon suggested, the number of small pieces vastly outnumbered the larger ones. Weird. 

Smokey and Smokey.

I have alternated between being sad and lonely, and having an alright time. At the moment, cheesey cauliflower and gluten-free stuffing is re-heating in the oven for supper (we always eat fancy lunch on Holiday).

Now two days off, then the weekend. Have to think of something interesting to do.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Let's make caramelized onions.

First buy a bunch of onions on sale, some cider vinegar, and a big bag of sugar. Also go to Ace Hardware and buy canning jar lids.

Chop up a lot of onions.

Some of them made me cry.

During the two days that I have been doing this New Mexico and Utah became the latest states legalizing same sex marriage. I wonder if Brian Brown is blubbering away?  

Put the onions, four cups sugar, three cups cider, and two teaspoons salt in your big pot and turn on the gas. The kitchen fills with steam.

Starting to cook.

The house is already overheated because my mother has her electric heater on 24-hours-a-day in the living room and huddles under her electric heating pad. It is so hot I have to walk around in a t-shirt. Buddy likes sitting there, all warm. I have to send him outside with a piece of cheese so he can go to his doghouse.

Cooked down.

I add more onions as the liquid evaporates. Then they cook down until they are dark brown. Tonight Mummy criticized my onions, because they were not dark enough. "I'm going to find a better recipe." I did not take this kindly. I told her I was sensitive about being criticized, "When you are a teenager and your father tells you repeatedly you are a worthless piece of shit, you tend to be sensitive." She said, "If I had known how much like his mother he turned out to be, I would never have married your father."

Arthur sent me an awesome lid holder- no more burned fingers for me! Thank you Arthur! XOXO (This will likely be the best Holiday present I get this year).

Arthur's lid holder.

I used my old canning kettle instead of the new pressure cooker that someone gave me as a mystery gift for my birthday (I have no clue who sent me that awesome present, was it you Arthur?). I sterilized the jars first, before pulling them out, filling them, wiping the rim, seating the lids, and screwing the rings on (gosh, that sounds dirty!).


Twenty four cups of onions makes nine pints (seven jars) of caramelized onions.

The lids go pop!

Well this is what a lonely gay man does on a Friday night before a major set of holidays.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Patrick is the smartest dresser among my friends. So I was excited to give him a bowler from the Gentleman's Emporium for a Holiday present. He really likes it.

1890s Patrick.

I watched as Patrick put his lights on his tree and then the ornaments.


Later that evening he arrived at my house, tied my bow tie (still haven't figured out that last step) and off to Rick and another Patrick's Christmas Party.

Victorian gentleman, or scoundrels?

I spent a lot of time talking with straight women. Also everyone got to try my tophat on.

Shawn and his sister, whose name I cannot remember.

The gin and tonics were super strong, good thing Patrick was the driver because I got very tipsy before I realized how strong the drinks were.

Drinky-drunk selfie.

And of course I woke up feeling nauseous and spinning. The cats were happy that I lay in bed for a super long time. They view me as a giant heating pad and snuggle up against me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I asked Doug to make me a bookshelf.

I have used this small metal bookshelf for years, mostly holding my genealogy books. But I have accumulated so many, some were in my closet and one of the shelves was starting to bow.

Sorry for the blurry photo.

Doug is a wizard with wood working. We discussed the overall height of the piece and the height of the individual shelves, which vary due to the height of the various books I own.

Almost done.

Along the top I asked Doug to replicate the molding in my kitchen.


The shelf is now in my study, loaded with books. I placed the plastic Bald Eagle that used to hang in my mother's house above it. I finally have a place for most of my books.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Laurene came over for supper (tostadas, green corn tamales from the lady at Mexican Safeway, and Homer-made-from-scratch chocolate pudding). We had a nice time catching up and Mummy enjoys visiting with Laurene. Afterwards I announced "CRAFT TIME" and pulled out my enormous tub of craft supplies and we made Holiday Cards.

People who send me cards, get one back. That makes it simple. George and Jim will be getting the first one.


This year I experimented and made some new types- old stamp trees, snowpersons, and reindeers. The one I made for Forrest, Travis, and Colin features Mexican loteria images of things we like to do.

Snowperson, reindeers, and a tree.

I have an 1820s accounting book that the University of Michigan business library discarded back in 1987, when they were busy throwing out all of their old books, because really, why would a business person be interested in history. And realistically, after hauling it around for 26 years what was I going to do with it? I used it for many of my cards.

Slightly blurry.

It was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours being creative.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

It turned cold and rained. Buddy had to come inside and sleep in my bedroom. He snored.


I guess winter is here. Mummy has so far not complained about how cold it is. The electric heater in the living room pumps out a lot of heat. Can't wait for the electric bill.

I invited Doug, Dan, and Cathy over for supper and tree decorating. I bought a new vest and was dressed up. I served vegetarian shepherd's pie, asparagus, a Caprise salad, and a grapefruit meringue pie. Everything was delicious. Also made butter pecan Chex mix, which my mother really enjoyed.


An eight-foot-tall tree from Home Depot for $64. I believe this is the first year my mother did not comment about how trees were free on the farm.


I bought one new ornament- a Virgin of Guadalupe. 

Dan, Cathy, and Doug.

With four people, decorating went fast. My mother watched.

Holiday tree.


Doug bought my mother some lights and she decorated her own tree.

Mummy's tree and toys.

She had a nice time at the dinner party.

Joey and Mummy.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

My nice grandmother was a Republican and lived in northern Michigan for all but one year of her life. There were few non-white people there during her life span, from 1910 to 1998. Even today, it is about 95 percent white.

Grandma subscribed to US News and World Report, which I called Screwed Up Views and World Distort. She also read Reader's Digest and the local newspaper. It wasn't a surprise that her views on many things were crappy. She often blathered on about the Trilateral Commission, which to this day I have no clue what that was all about. She had a page torn out of Reader's Digest that showed countries in Africa that were coming under the influence of Russia. Again, I did not really see how this concerned her.

In the 1980s, there was a growing movement to get rid of apartheid in South Africa and free Nelson Mandela. I attended student protests at the University of Michigan- we were trying to get the Regents to stop investing money in companies that did business in South Africa. And of course the Republican-dominated regents refused to do so. They also refused to give Mandela an honorary degree because he was unable to attend the graduation ceremony. He was in prison at the time. The student protests eventually caused the way honorary degrees were handed out and Mandela would receive one in 1987 while still in prison.

Something came on the news about protests to free Nelson Mandela and Grandma said, "He's a Communist!" My response was, "Have you ever met a Communist?" She replied, "No." And I was bratty and told her, "Well if you don't know what you are talking about you should just shut up."

Probably not the nicest thing to say, but I in college years I had realized that the world view promoted in northern Michigan was stunted, fearful, racist.

Nelson Mandela died today. I'm glad he was able to live the last 25 years of his life in freedom. He was a true hero in a world that still needs heroes.

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