70 For 70

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My mom turns 70 today.  In honor of this milestone, and of her, I thought I’d throw out 70 facts about her.  So off we go….

1. She has the best smile of anyone I know.  Period, the end.  She smiles with her eyes, and is always sincere.

2. She played a mean trombone when she was younger.  I actually have a record of her playing with her high school band.  She rocked.

3. She lived next to and was friends with a prostitute when she was younger, though she was naïve and didn’t really know it at the time.

4. Her love of music led her to her love of my dad, which led to me and my brother.  He was playing in a band at what I think was a bar.  Their eyes met across the room….  (actually he might have known someone she knew, or something like that, and they were introduced?  I should really ask her this question.)

5. She is kind.

6. She can solve most problems to do with fixing things.  She’s very handy to have around because of this.

7. She isn’t above being silly, which I love about her.

8. She loves deeply.

9. She manages to handle tough situations with more light and grace than anyone I’ve ever met.

10. She’s one of the two best people I know, the other being my honey.

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11. She went back to school when my brother and I were in grade school and got her degree in education.

12. I learned to play guitar because she took guitar in college.

13. She’s super artistic and can draw really well.

14. She really pays attention.

15. She was a Cub Scout leader.

16. Every time she made a pie when we were kids she made squirrel tails out of the extra dough.  (squirrel tails are made of pie dough sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and then rolled up, cut into little rounds, and baked… you should try them.  Tasty!)

17. She used to read to us while we ate breakfast, before school.  This gave me a huge love of books and words.

18. She’s a mean Scrabble player and we played a lot of Scrabble growing up.

19. She loves to laugh.

20. She’s an amazing gardener.  She can grow anything, and has probably tried to.

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21. She can carve a pumpkin better than anyone else I know.

22. She’s always there to help, genuinely.

23. She’s someone you can always count on.

24. She has big feet for a small woman, size 10.

25. She’s the second born child of seven siblings.

26. She worked at the Salem hospital for a few years.

27. She’s in much better shape than I am.

28. She used to be a Jazzersize fiend.

29. She makes me proud to be her daughter every day.

30. She’s a breast cancer survivor.

31. She can drive a tractor.

32. She took Latin in high school.

33. She’s lived in the same house since 1979.

34. She’s generous.

35. We’ve had many a dance party in various kitchens.

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36. She’s incredibly smart.

37. She’s very emotional, which is where I get it I think.  I’m glad of this.

38. She’s the one, and probably doesn’t know this, who got me interested in photography.  She loves taking photos, the art of it, and has all my life.

39. She once slept in a hammock by a river in the jungles of Guatemala.

40. She has eaten some gross and disgusting things (this goes along with the category of will try almost anything) like crickets and fish eyes.  Gross.

41. She loves road trips and travel in general.

42. She can fit into tiny spaces and is the person you want when you need to have a small area painted.  Somehow she fits in there and gets the job done.

43. She loves to sing.

44. She used to make our clothes when Kev and I were younger.

45. She used to knit and I still have a crazy sweater she once made for me (at my request I think) that’s made up of all the left over yarn she had.  It’s multi-colored and awesome.

46. My friends, throughout my life, have loved her and consistently told me how lucky I am to have her as a mom.  They’ve been right.

47. She calls our dogs her grand dogs and they love her tremendously.

48. She was a row boss when Kev and I picked strawberries as kids.  She was tough.

49. She once substitute taught for one of my grade school classes, I believe it was 5th grade.  She was hard on me.  I deserved it.

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50. She’s a mama bear when someone threatens one of her cubs.  You don’t want to mess with her when she’s defending someone she loves.

51. She’s vegan and has been for a few years now.  Even still, she calls herself a weekend carnivore as she sometimes eats meat on special occasions.

52. She’s open to and interested in other people’s ideas and thoughts.

53. She’s a staunch supporter of her gay daughter and her gay daughter’s partner.  It breaks her heart when discrimination of any kind is mentioned to or seen by her.

54. She used to fly fish the Metolious River with me, and my brother.  I loved that time with her.

55. She used to be a little overweight, but decided to lose it and has kept it off.  It’s inspiring and she looks awesome.

56. She always swam with us when we were kids.  I have great memories of being in pools with her at little motels all over the place when we’d go on family vacations.

57. She used to water ski, and we have the super 8 video to prove it.

58. She has an adventurous spirit and loves to do new things, try new things, and push herself.

59. She’s brave.

60. She once traveled across the country in a train.

61. She has the best laugh.

62. She has a big love of family.

63. She’s interested in how things work and is curious by nature.

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64. She’s played miniature golf on a cruise ship and eaten pineapple on Antigua.

65. She’s always the first to volunteer help when someone needs it.

66. She did a  4 day 40 mile hike along the Rogue River.

67. She grew up on a farm where my grandparents, for a time, practiced the ‘have more’ plan.  Basically self-sufficient farming, etc.

68. She’s had to shoot many a skunk and possum in her life.  She doesn’t like it, but does it because it needs to be done.

69. She knows what’s important in life, and has always made that clear, and thankfully, passed it down to me.

70. She is loved so much by so many people it’s pretty amazing.  I doubt she knows how much people think of her, or how much she means to so many.  She’s humble like that.

I love you Mom.  More than I could ever express.  I am so lucky to have you in my life, and I’m thankful for it every day.  Happy birthday!

Desert Winds

It’s windy out there tonight.  I can hear the rattling of the blinds as the wind whips in, rustling them, causing a banging on the window frame.  I may have to shut the window, but maybe I’ll put up with it, I love the cool desert night air.  And I love the sound of the wind, whipping by outside.  Whistling, then howling, then still.  It is a symphony.

It’s after 11:00 in Vegas.  It was warm today, 79 and blue sky.  I wore shorts and a t-shirt, had on my slide shoes and had to squint when I was out driving around.  I think the people who live here think it’s still sort of cold.  They are used to the heat.  My body doesn’t expect it until June.  I live in the Midwest after all.

I’m missing my honey and don’t much like being so far away from her, but am glad I came.  Friends like these are gifts.

It’s amazing how people can be so different, and yet have so much love for each other.  I was a bit nervous about coming.  Not sure how, after all these years, we would get on.   Hoping it would be the same, wondering if all of life’s ups and downs might have changed us all somehow, made us different people.  Those ups and downs have changed us, all of us, but who we are, and have always been, to and for each other remains.  Distance and time haven’t altered that.  Thank god.

I am blessed to have these people in my life.  And with them, as I always have felt, I am home.  We’ve been in each others lives for so long there’s a comfort and certainty that is reassuring and magical.  There’s a peace that happens not brought by any one of us, but made by our presence together.  Deep love and understanding resides there.

Understanding.

Hanging On To Life

Hanging On To Life (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

We may be different, see the world differently, but we understand each other and know, always, that there’s a love and a respect and a kindness there.

My wish for the world is that people would feel this sort of kinship in their lives.  I’ve been lucky enough to feel this with several people throughout the course of my life.  Spectacular people, each and every one.

This tapestry of lovely humanness is overwhelming, and as I sit here, the blind still banging on the sill, I feel an incredible sense of humble gratitude for how fortunate I am, for how full my life is of beautiful people, and for the sounds of the wind, right outside the window.

 

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Airports

It’s travel time, once again.

I’m currently sitting in the Central Illinois Regional Airport which is located in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois.  Here in Illinois we seem to like our twin cities.  There are shirts for sale here that say, “Leaving Normal”.  I like them.

I got here way too early.  I’m not used to these small airports.  When I checked my bag I had to ring a bell for service.  There was no one behind the counter and the guys at the TSA screening station looked half asleep and hopeful I might actually be bringing them a bag, and consequently a little something to do.  Both of them helped me when I walked over.  Two guys, one small bag.  Funny.  I got to security and same thing.  No one in line.  Not a single person.  There were three TSA people there to tell me I had pre-screened and so didn’t have to remove my shoes or my jacket.  Sweet.  I did, however, still have to take out my laptop and bottle of nose spray.  No biggie.  I didn’t mind.  I never mind actually, it’s security after all.  I’d rather be safe.  But, back to the lack of patronage at this airport at this time of day.  I got through security in less than two minutes.  Slick.  Next, a sandwich and a bottle of water.  There was, again, no one in line at the counter so I had a nice little chat with the gent who told me there was a less expensive bottle of water around the corner, if that mattered to me.  It did.  I don’t care what kind of bottled water I get, as long as I get something to drink.  The short line didn’t mean the bill was cheap though.  Airports are still airports after all.  Nearly 20 dollars later, with only a sandwich, small bag of chips, a bottled water, and a package of peanut m&m’s for later, I was robbed, but not going to be hungry.  I looked around for somewhere to sit and, I saw three people at the four gates that were up near the snack bar/restaurant.  It’s been an hour and there are still only three of us.

I guess people who fly out of this airport regularly know the secret.  This whole idea of getting to the airport two hours e arly is bunk when you come here.  I could’ve strolled in with 30 minutes to go and been OK.  That would be cutting it close for my timely sensibility, but an hour instead of two, now we’re talking.  Next time I won’t make the same mistake.

This airport is great though.  Good amenities.  Free WiFi, plenty of comfortable seating, areas to charge your electronics, and a nice guy at the snack bar who will give you a money saving tip.  Plus, there are sculptures of horses and nice art, and loads of windows for light.

I fly from here to Dallas.  It’s everything this airport is, and isn’t.  It’s huge, so big it has it’s own train, and it’s usually crowded.  I don’t have to brave security there, as I’m just flying through, but I’ve spent some time there.  Big.  Big with all the things big brings with it.  Lines, hurried people with tired attitudes, rush.  From there I’ll fly to Vegas.  Same thing.  Lots of people, rushing,

Oh, wow, there are now two more people sitting in my area.  Oh, make that four.  The crowd, as it is, is forming.  Hold your hats people.  It’s starting to feel like an actual airport in here.

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And The Oscar Goes To

Whose that guy?  He’s the guy Mary really likes.  No, he isn’t.  That’s someone else.  Oh.

Did you fill out your ballot?  Yes.

He just needs a tad bit of dental work done.

When did he get this old?  He went from looking young to having age spots, like me.  When did that happen?  I don’t know.

She looks frumpy.  Must be his daughter.  Isn’t she a filmmaker too?  No, that’s Coppola.  Oh yeah.

He should win best hat.  Even the smiley face has the hat on.  See that?  It’s making me happy.  His shoes make me happy.

Samuel L.

I don’t think their hairstyles were that great, but they did make them look good.  Yeah.  A lot of them were sickly.

Wow, she’s had some plastic surgery failures.  Look at her lips.  Who is she?  Kim Novak.  She was in Vertigo.

I got it!  Me too!  Good guess.

We should keep this list and try to see some of these.

I think Tam researched.  I didn’t.  I guessed.

Why are they standing?  That wasn’t that good.  They are looking around at each other and saying I guess we should stand too.

Kevin Spacey… he’s so cool.

U2… wow.

Angela Landsbury.  She looks the same.  She looks great.

Awesome selfie.  @TheEllenShow

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Ellen is the only one who could pass out pizzas and everyone will say, wow, she did a fantastic job hosting.

P!nk rocks.  That was my favorite part of the show so far.

Ha ha ha!!  I love Ellen.

Jennifer Garner.  That’s a great dress.

John Travolta.  He’s an old guy.

She was a little rough when she started.  She’s a little nasally.  She sounds like she lost her way with the orchestra.

Hey, no makin’ out under the blankets. Ha ha ha!

That was my least favorite performance.

Think they are going to do writing next?  I don’t know what gave it away.

That was a strange acceptance speech.  Yeah, “they are all up here.”

Which movie is that?  Gravity.  Wow, what a shocker.

We only have three left.  The big three.

Cate Blanchett.  Awesome.  She was so good.

The heads honey.  The heads.

Matthew McConaughey is just plain cool.

12 Years a Slave.  I want to see that movie, but I just know that it will be so intense.

And, that’s a wrap.  I got 10.  I got 14.  Anyone?  I’m not counting.  I’m not even close to that.  I lost track.  I’m hot.  It’s hot in here.

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Seven

Weston And Hedgie

Weston And Hedgie (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Our boy turns seven today.  Seven years of love and snuggles and play and joy and laughter and smiles and exasperation and sweetness and tail wagging and pawing and cuddle-time and barks and bullies and deep soulful looks.  Happy birthday little man, we love you so.

Weston at Saturday Market

Weston and Hedgehog

Weston and Hedgehog (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Sir Weston

Sir Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Weston

Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Weston in the creeper

Weston in the creeper (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Weston

Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

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Weston

Weston

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What Makes a Marriage

I’m married.  At least K and I feel we’re married.  We’ve already had two marriage “ceremonies”.  One on a beach in Maui, just the two of us, words spoken, rings exchanged, sand ceremony, poetry read, and lots of love.  We consider that one our real marriage ceremony.  It might not, technically, have been legal, but it was sincere, honest, and full of love.  It had everything, everything we needed and wanted anyway.  It was beautiful, and perfect.  The second, not actually a ceremony, was when I walked into the courthouse, paid the filing fee, and left with a domestic partnership certificate for the two of us.  We had to certify that we’d lived together for a certain length of time, by then we’d been together for a few years.

Now, nearly 11 years later, we’re living in Illinois, not Oregon, and in June, when the Illinois marriage law takes effect, we can, once again, get married.  We find this funny by the way.  Not funny that we’ve had to wait for marriage or hope for marriage or long for equality, but funny that this will be our third time.  We joke that maybe this time it will stick.  One can only hope.

All of this has me thinking.  What makes a marriage?

In June we will take our domestic partnership certificate in to the courthouse here in Illinois and exchange it for a marriage license.  They will back date our marriage license to the date we got our domestic partnership, which is great.  It means we will be considered legally married from that date, which was like, oh, six or seven years ago.  I can’t remember.  It wasn’t THE marriage so we honestly don’t even know the date we did it.  I’m sure it says on the certificate.  And, suddenly, miraculously, we will be, after all these years, legally married.

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The thing is, we are already married.  When we made those vows to each other on that beach in Maui, we meant them.  We didn’t need someone else to sanction it, or tell us it was OK.  We just needed to hear from each other that we loved and were loved in return.

So what’s the big deal about legal.  Well, it is a big deal.  Not so much to us, or to our friends and family who I think all consider us already married as well.  It’s a big deal because we will be protected under the law.  The taxes we pay will, finally, be used to our benefit, and we won’t be paying for other people to enjoy freedoms and benefits that to this point we weren’t allowed.  We will be the same.

The same.  That’s the thing, really.  We are the same as everyone else.  I know I’ve said this before.  We laugh, we love, we have friends and go to family functions with both sides of our families.  We work and do the dishes and go out to dinner and clean our bathrooms and mow our lawn.  We vacation, collecting heart rocks on every trip, take our dogs to the groomer, and go to the movies.  We babysit our grandchildren and buy organic food and go on bike rides.  We live.  We live and yet we’ve always felt just a little bit separate.  We’ve been made to feel separate. We’ve been told we are less than.  We aren’t.  But this is why gay groups have sprung up and gay people have banded together and held each others hands and been out and proud to be out.  We’ve had to. We’ve had to in order to feel what community feels like, since the larger community has shunned and pushed us away for so long.

And now… now we will be the same.  Still ridiculed and feared in same places, by some people, but the same legally.  We will, finally, be included, be part of the larger crowd.  We will be, honestly, the same.  Which is all we’ve ever wanted.  To continue to live normal lives and instead of being gay Tam, I’ll be Tam.  I’ll be Tam and K will be K and we will be married.  Married just like my Mom was married and my grandparents were married and K’s parents are married.

We will be married.  A piece of paper does not make a marriage, but it sure makes a marriage a legal, tangible, and a real thing in the eyes of the law.  It makes it real in the eyes of the community at large, even those who would still try to deny us.  What has, and will always be, real and true to us, will be real and true to our larger community.

Wow.