Archive for November 2007

GrowingSense Goodbye

November 30, 2007

Is blogging dead?  I hope not, but as more ops for different levels of social connectivity and idea generation emerge via the Web, people who thought blogging was for them may find an outlet more in line with who they are.  Want to stay in touch but have to do it on the fly using tiny snippets of time?  Twitter.  More interested in sharing resources than recording the details of your lunch with a whacked out friend?  Del.icio.us.    

For me GrowingSense has been a way to workshop writing ideas, to let off some steam from time to time, and to stay in touch with family and friends.   My cousin Kara is talking about starting a family blog, which I think sounds like a great idea.  In fact, I’m retiring GrowingSense today with the hope of being a part of that at some point in the future.  I plan to keep Good Home open, at least for awhile, because the content is easier and fun for me to generate.  Plus there seems to be a place for a design lover who really doesn’t know what he’s doing but is willing to experiment and develop in front of people.  So if you want to check in on me there from time to time, you are always welcome. 

Whether you were a GrowingSense reader, commenter or just an occasional browser, thank you for letting me be a part of your life and for being a part of mine. 

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Someone Call a Doctor. No, a REAL Docter.

November 15, 2007

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Religion Editor, Frank Lockwood, gives a possible heads up that Bush could make a recess appointment of James Holsinger to the position of Surgeon General. Seems Holsinger has been saying as much to folks.

Holsinger, you may not know, is the author of a white paper called Pathophysiology of the Homosexual Male, in which he tried to convince the Methodist church that all gay men are promiscuous and unhealthy. His “evidence”? A sample group that consisted of patients in places like STD clinics and hospital trauma units. Talk about finding what you are looking for.

A July editorial from the Washington Post sums it up nicely:

“Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality” is a six-page romp through sexual practices that would be extreme for anyone regardless of sexual orientation. Yet Dr. Holsinger ascribed these practices to all gay men and decreed that the practices marked all homosexuals as promiscuous and diseased. The idea that two people of the same sex could establish a relationship based on love was never broached. Instead, he concluded his NC-17 report by saying the hardware store popularity of male and female pipe fittings proves the primacy of heterosexuality.

Bush, please! This better be a rumor, because I know that in the entire United States you are not gonna tell me that the only physician you can find as a possible candidate for the nation’s doctor is someone who has spent his mental capacities coming up with unscientific and obviously deceptive ways to disenfranchise others. Aren’t strong ethics and judgement at least the minimum qualifications for this position? I don’t even want to tell you what the fact that you might think that Holsinger is so good that he is worth a recess appointment leads me to believe about your judgement.

In an effort to answer criticisms, Holsinger is saying his views have evolved (why don’t I believe him? Oh yeah, because he presented his crappy “research” as truth). How many millions of well-qualified, red-as-strawberry-jam-Republican doctors are NOT getting this job so that some bozo with specious credentials can have it?

Mr. President, I pray that in your last seven years at Hard Knock University you have at least learned enough to drop Holsinger. But I must admit, my time at the same school leaves me with the sinking feeling that you won’t.

Update: Looks like Senator Harry Reid is shutting down the possibility of recess appointments by holding pro-forma sessions during the Thanksgiving break. Don’t think I won’t be putting that on my list of things to be grateful for. Hat tip Americablog.

A Sparkly Gray Golem

November 13, 2007

When Karen and I walked outside after work today we were both taken aback by how suddenly dark it was. For a few moments my mind lurched to the future, two months from now, when the great cold, like a giant dentist’s drill, will strip-mine life from the plains for a few months. A sense of momentary dread, like a Golem of clay, alive with the breath of my fears, thumped me on the forehead. Thankfully it didn’t linger.

Karen says Midwesterners have the God-given grace of seasonal amnesia. This is how they survive long winters. It isn’t that a deep, dark coldness doesn’t bother them. Like anyone confronted with the turnipy gray of mid-March, the butt end of winter here, they moan, mope and curse the deep chill, but come April, a switch goes off in most Midwesterners’ heads, and it is as if the darkness never happened. It is a trait I will always admire, and hopefully, some day possess. I actually told Dave that I hoped the cool gray of a recent day would stay for a while. That’s a step in the right direction I think.

Like I said, this evening the dread feeling passed, chased in part by the beauty of what I know will be the less surly side of winter—the holidays, when the lights of the season start poking through the ever increasing darkness.

I’m not one to sublimate Thanksgiving in an effort to stretch Christmas out even more. Not that I’m not tempted. The kid part of me that counted the days to Christmas when I was young is still very much alive, embarrassingly so, and as naggy as ever. But Thanksgiving is just such an upright holiday—hey, let’s get together with our families to express gratefulness! Who can fault this premise? And there’s no out of whack commercial gain for anyone besides those with Butterball stock. We should make the most of the better parts of ourselves more often.

Still, tonight, shortly after my spasm of dread, I accidentally bumped into Christmas. As I pulled up to our door I noticed my neighbor, B.W., washing the enormous window in the parlor of his circa 1860s farmhouse. B.W. is something of a miracle. He’s my age. Completely sanguine to the point that he has been entirely comfortable with taking eight years to single-handedly transform what was once a fallen down shack into a subtle and charming treasure. One year, he bent the tin necessary to replace his roof. Another season, he nailed lathe and plastered the walls of his home the way it would have been done a century ago.

Occassionally I pop in–typically unannounced–to say hello and marvel at whatever new thing he’s done. I’m appalled at myself for never calling first, but B.W. always just throws his door wide open to me anyway. This time he showed me the trim and crown molding he’d cut from poplar trees (stunning) and his new floors, which he laid and stained himself. As we stood in his parlor I asked him if he would be putting his Christmas tree in front of the enormous picture window. I don’t know why I asked such a random question.

He got the biggest smile on his face and with a hearty “yep!” started describing the tree he wanted, 9 feet or taller, huge, fat—and artificial, “because that’s what I always had when I was a kid. Menards has them on sale. I’m gonna go buy one next week so I can have everything up by Thanksgiving.”

His sudden excitement made me smile. As an aside I asked him if he would like our artificial tree because I’d recently started using real ones. Ours was perfectly fine, and I hated to throw it away. It was my and John’s first tree. You would have thought I’d offered him a ticket to turn four of the Indy 500. “Really?!”

“Sure. It’s in good shape. And it would look awesome in here. The perfect size.”

Then with the same kind of kid-ness I see pop out of me from time to time, he started talking about how excited he was about Christmas this year. How he’d already started listening to Christmas music and how he was really gonna do things up right. He didn’t know what it was, but he just couldn’t wait for Christmas.

I loved seeing this guy in his 40s, a construction contractor who travels to China for business and who is hand-working a 19th century farmhouse back to life, get so excited about Christmas. I told him we would help him get the tree over to his house this week so he could start putting it together if he wanted, which made him even happier.

So it may be getting darker, but in some ways it is getting lighter. I have to admit, after talking with B.W. I got a little excited about the coming month. Surely there’s a way I can find joy in the inevitable visit from the giant gray Golem of winter that is February and March, too. I’ll start praying to see that grace now. Maybe I’ll poke some early season lights into his heavy form. I doubt he’ll mind.

Vote

November 6, 2007

Whatever your values, today is a good day to make them count.

Baby Ben’s Gifts

November 4, 2007

Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out” conference was Saturday. My earlier thoughts are here. But if I needed another reason to be annoyed, Paula over at Whtz On My Mind has one:

Tickets to this seminar were $50-$60. They estimate attendance at 1,000. One day. $50,000.00. For what? To convince some poor soul’s loved ones that if they just work harder, pray harder, be harder, that loved one will be “saved” from “the gay”.

50K to have a one-day seminar? Really?

I was glad to hear that PFLAG sponsored a quiet protest. I would have gone, but our neighbors down the street needed us to babysit their one-year old, Ben, while they did some running around.

Ben has stayed with us before, once for the weekend when his parents went to their 20th class reunion. We always have a good time with him. So when it came down to making the choice between protesting or taking care of a kid who laughs at my jokes and happily listens and claps along to the Mighty Clouds of Joy with us, well, you do the math.

We were a little surprised that out of all of the young families in our neighborhood, Ben’s folks asked us to keep him. We kind of assume that because we are gay that the locals think we are either swingers or pedophiles, since that’s the rhetoric we hear from the right wing when the topic of John and I marrying comes up.

We heard from a neighbor once that the swinger assumption was an actual conversation a couple of years back at a neighborhood weekly moms’ group meeting. I don’t know where they were going to meet their sample group, but “swinger” doesn’t exactly describe the folks we know.

Anyway, I know Ben’s mom was at that meeting and that they go to a church that sponsors an ex-gay group. Plus Ben has Downs Syndrome and has had some special health issues, so taken all together, one would assume that people already raising children would be asked first.

But we didn’t bring any of that up. We were just happy to be asked and to get the chance to hang out with Ben, who is the perfect baby because like I said, he laughs at my jokes.

We love Ben. For me he is a reminder of the many forms God’s gifts can take. A few years back, Laura Schlesinger (aka Dr. Laura) on her national radio talk show referred to gay people as “biological errors.” There was a time when I was so full of fear and self-hate that I actually agreed with her. I know better now what an insult that is to God.

I may be a biological variation, but I’m hardly an error. Not to sound all Marlo Thomas Free to Be You and Me or anything, but I have unique gifts to offer to the world because of who I am. Ben does too. Ben and I share the trait of being biological variations, and all of the gifts that come with it. He has mad skills. I see how full of joy and love he is, and how he imparts all of that to others.

Ben is God’s gift to us, the world, and not just his parents and siblings. I think his parents realize this, and that may be why they ask us to keep him from time to time. Or it could be because we live two doors down. Who cares? We’re thankful for the gift.

Claire’s Candy Carnage

November 1, 2007

Around 6:30 this morning I got up to take Claire for her walk. She trotted downstairs with me and walked nonchanlantly right past the 13 Tootsie Pop sticks scattered on the dining room floor, all gleaming and completely bare, pristine as sun bleached bones. Their wrappers lay like scalps all around.

Claire's Candy Carnage

I’d parked the candy bowl on a chair by the front door before going to bed so we would be ready for Halloween (I wonder if I’ll ever learn).

I don’t think it ever entered Claire’s mind that I would give the mess a second glance, but I was so surprised that my feet froze. I looked at her in stunned silence (I know that last part is hard to believe, but it’s true), and instantly she put her tail between her legs and slinked back upstairs.

I didn’t yell at her. And since John’s mom asked, we didn’t spank her either. In fact, we didn’t punish her at all, at least not intentionally. But tonight, as an army of trick-or-treaters passed by our door, she had a pitifully sad look on her face as she sat and watched the magic candy bowl slowly empty its wonders into the hands of strangers.

Don’t feel sorry for her though. She got more candy than any kid did.