the garden party

tony and i went to the community center's garden party last night and we had a great time. aside from the standard suburban banquet venue and the lukewarm catering, it was nice to be in a room with so many of northeast ohio's gay men and women. i knew a bunch of people there, and many of them independently of my partner. that was a good feeling. i feel like after a year in this part of the world, i have made a home here.

i was pleased to run into patrick and shamus. we had a little mini-blogger -convention. it was cool to finally meet the people in person that you know just a bit from these pages. hopefully it won't be the last time, either. it seems we are all facing the fear of having to give our lives over to blogging. patrick and i agreed that we are spending alot of time on this whole business, especially with the addition of the tribe. only shamus seems immune...he remains safe because he is only able to blog at work! mebbe if i went back to a dialup connection i would find it too frustrating and give it up. (yeah, right! like that would ever happen...)

work this week has been good. i am getting my sealegs in the office and it feels great. i hope i have as much to offer the company as they can offer me. i also did another bout of canning, making some bread and butter pickles. as my friends and family eat up what i have already given them, the empty jars are starting to trickle back in. with these returns comes the compulsion to fill them again. i need to keep all the jars full all the time, they seem to be saying to me, taunting me with their emptiness from behind the cupboard door. ...shiver...



94 things about me, because i couldn't think of a hundred that were interesting

1.  I was born in Galveston, Texas.
2.  We moved to Valparaiso, Indiana when I was two.
3.  I grew up in various towns, both small and large, in and around Chicago.
4.  I was in band in high school, including a couple of years as drum major for the marching band.
5.  I got to wear the big hat and carry the big pole.
6.  That’s “shako” and “mace” to those in the know.
7.  I got a BA from Kalamazoo College.
8.  My degree was in economics.
9.  I never went into that field.
10.  One week after graduating, I moved to New York. 
11.  I got started in the food business working at Dean & Deluca.
12.  I have never eaten so well, so consistently, as I did during that job.
13.  It was five years before the city—and the AIDS crisis—wore me down.
14.  I stopped counting after I lost my 25th friend to that hideous disease. 
15.  It was a relief to be back in the Midwest.
16.  I worked in a bunch of really great kitchens in Chicago, under some amazing chefs.
17.  There were also a few clunkers in there, sad to say.
18.  I left Chicagoland in August of 2003.
19.  I now live in Shaker Heights, Ohio. 
20.  As far as I can tell, there are no more Shakers left here.
21.  I love the change of seasons the Midwest affords.
22.  I would hate to wear the same clothing year-round.
23.  My work is very important to me.
24.  I love the job I have right now.
25.  Everyone at my work thinks I am 10 years younger than I really am.
26.  I like a vodka martini…positively arid.  Basically, what I’m looking for is ice-cold Hangar One or Belvedere, with a twist, in one of those cool shaped glasses.  As for the vermouth, the bartender should have it nearby without actually putting any into the shaker. 
27.  And yes:  shaken, not stirred.
28.  I do my best to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables everyday.
29.  I also do my best to eat at least one serving of chocolate everyday.
30.   I am an excellent cook and baker (and obviously not afraid to brag about it).
31.  Julia Child is one of my heroes.
32.  She taught me how to cook, as well as several important things about cooking.
33.  “Always remember, you’re alone in the kitchen.  No one can see what you’re doing out there.”
34.  “Never apologize for what you’re serving.  Bring it to the table with a proud smile and pretend that your failure is exactly the way you intended it to be.”
35.  My favorite things to make are comfort foods like meatloaf, roast chicken, brownies, biscuits, etc.
36.  I make my own puff pastry.
37.  My favorite dessert is chocolate cake.
38.  There as many different recipes for chocolate cake as there are restaurants and bakers.
39.  After 25 years of collecting kitchen equipment, I’ve stopped going to cookware stores. 
40.  That means one of two things:  I have everything, or I need a bigger kitchen.
41.  I LOVE coffee.
42.  My first cup in the morning is always instant…preferably Nescafe.
43.  That way, I’m drinking coffee 90 seconds after I get out of bed.
44.  I drive a forest green Saturn station wagon. 
45.  It’s about as far from a sportscar as one can get.
46.  I am fluent in German.
47.  All of my father’s family still lives in Germany and Switzerland.
48.  I speak un peu French and un poco  Spanish.
49.  My favorite vacations usually center around cities (New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam), but I had a spectacular time on the island of Kaua’i this spring.
50.  Vitals:  5’11”,  140, brown hair, hazel eyes, goatee, glasses.
51.  When I was in my youth, I was painfully thin.
52.  When I hit 39, everything changed.
53.  At that time, I acquired a belly which I have nicknamed “the alien baby.”
54.  I came to need bifocals.
55.  I can no longer function on 4 hours sleep, as I could at 25.
56.  I prefer my fashion as simple as possible.
57.  I am on my third identical pair of Timberland oxfords in as many decades.
58.  Briefs…never boxers.
59.  I like bold colors in my living space.
60.  My apartment currently sports the hues of the dutch railway.
61.  My last apartment was smurf blue, red clay, eggplant and clinique green.
62.  I watch too much television.
63.  I am a star trek fan, although I would not call myself a trekkie.
64.  I rarely watch the news on tv, though. 
65.  I get my information from the web or NPR, thereby avoiding the endlessly annoying video that goes along with CNNMSNBCABCNBCCBSFOXnews.
66.  I am not a religious person at all, but I would consider myself somewhat spiritual.
67.  I find it hard to believe that all this incredible beauty and order we are aware of around us just happened by accident.
68.  I came out to my parents when I was 19 and we’ve never looked back.  They’ve been remarkably accepting and loving.  I’m a very lucky man.
69.  My father was the first president of the Chicago chapter of PFLAG.
70.  My mother wrote a book on children coming out to their parents.
71.  One of our proudest family moments was marching together in the gay pride parade in Chicago.
72.  I’ve been in love a coupla times before.
73.  My first boyfriend from college is now married with children.
74.  My second boyfriend partnered with my then best friend.
75.  The results were a disaster for me.
76.  After a few years, we all became friends again.
77.  I now have the most wonderful boyfriend/partner/husband in the world.
78.  He and I are now engaged to be _________ed. 
79.  We aren’t quite sure what the verb will be, yet. 
80.  We bought each other rings and are wearing them now.
81.  I know that he is THE ONE.  Period.
82.  Favorite authors:  Don Delillo, Raymond Carver, Steve Erickson, Paul Auster.
83.  Favorite books from these authors: UnderworldWhere I’m Calling FromDays Between StationsThe New York Trilogy.
84.  Favorite magazines:  Fine Cooking; Cook’s Illustrated
85.  Favorite music:  Melissa Etheridge, Anita Baker, Sade, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson (pre-1995), Boston, Led Zeppelin, Disco in general.
86.   Favorite movies:  2001 A Space Odyssey (and most of the rest of Kubrick); Lawrence of Arabia;   The Women.
87.  Favorite artists:  Warhol, Rothko, Mondrian, Mapplethorpe, Holzer
88.  Favorite restaurant dishes, presented as a single menu:  
              grilled seafood sausage at Chanterelle (NYC);
              gazpacho with warm langoustines at Christophe (Amsterdam); 
              sea scallops and oxtails at Les Nomades (Chicago);
              roasted pork with potato gratin at Chez Panisse (Berkeley, CA); 
              salade verte at Lutece (NYC); 
               sticky toffee pudding at The Ivy (London); 
               mignardises at Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago).
89.  In addition to cooking and baking, I once learned how to knit and made a half-dozen sweaters. 
90.  I also know how to do home canning, including jams and pickles and relishes.
91.  On the other hand, I hate doing laundry and housecleaning.
92.  When I win the lottery, I want to take singing lessons.
93.  I strongly dislike both olives and blue cheese.

94. Let's not elect him this time, either.




after a week of truly oppressive heat, the weather has cleared and we are being rewarded with a gorgeous, clear weekend.  the temps are in the 70s and the sky is like a blue china bowl overhead.  my dad is here staying with me for a few days while he completes the closing on their new home on out in chagrin.  i did the walk-through with him on friday.  he met with the contractor who will do the work and went room by room over what they would like done.  no space will be left untouched. in addition to new kitchen and bathrooms, they will update all the lighting throughout.  it will be beautiful, i'm sure, as have been all their previous homes.

i had my review at work this week.  my raise this time around (we are eligible for raises every quarter) was more in line with what i had expected the last time around.  the fact that i am being promoted makes a bigger raise possible, too.  the review was awesome!  i felt like sally field at the oscars:  "YOU LIKE ME!  YOU REALLY LIKE ME!"  it's always so rewarding to have these reviews.  it gives me a great sense of what i'm doing right and where i can improve.
i've done a bit of cooking this week as well.  this morning i made a little saute with calabacita (mexican squash), red pepper and tomato.  plus a small peach blueberry pie with a lattice crust--very doris day.  it was simple as i had the pie crust in the freezer and the fruit at hand.  i love having a well-stocked pantry and being able to whip things up on the spur of the moment.  earlier in the week i made a cold supper for tony and me, with a corn and roasted tomato salad;  a broccoli and pepper salad; and a caesar salad.  the weather was brutally hot that night and it was the perfect meal.  we also had dinner last week at the cleveland grill which is one of my fave westside restaurants.  i only wish they had a liquor license so i could have a beer with dinner.




moon landing anniversary

leave it to our friends at the onion to tell the story of what really happened 35 years ago tonight.  link on over if you need a belly laugh.


new moon

thanks to this guy, for pointing out that it was a new moon.  i knew there was a reason i wanted to get all that filing/organizing done. the big project is finished and i feel much better.  there has been this nagging thing in the back of my head for all the years i have been collecting all those receipts that one day i would have to go through them all.  the relief is palpable.  the focus now has to stay on not starting in with that habit again.  once a month i have to sort and shred and dispose.

when i arrived here this morning i found all these additional options.  hooray!  now i can match the look of each entry more to my mood for the day.  of course it will probably just look confused and messy initially...but isn't that just like life?

i got all the cooking done that i had planned, as well.  the coffeecakes were yummy...one for the guys in the garage, one for my sister's family and one for work.  everyone was so appreciative.  it's so rewarding to me to cook for people.  the macaroni and cheese thingy is awesome, with niman ranch bacon, browned mushrooms, caramelized vidalias and both madrigal and rokisko cheeses.  this latter is a lithuanian cheese that one of the local chains has been featuring and i love it.  plus it's relatively inexpensive.  we have some cheap lithuanian beer at work right now, too.  i guess these former soviet republics are the place to look for new, lowcost foods.  local tomatoes have arrived and i roasted some in the oven this week, as well.  they are just delicious, but still a bit timid this early in the season.  i can't wait for the really intense ones at the end of august where you want to eat them like an apple, standing over the sink to catch all the juices.  yum!

my dad is coming to town the end of the week for 5 days and he'll be staying with me.  he is here to do the house inspection on their new home and meet with contractors.  i have not had him stay in my house before.  he'll get the bedroom.  i think i have to buy a coffeemaker for his visit, as i only drink instant at home now pretty much.  it's a good excuse for me to clean really thoroughly, too.  it should be interesting.




now we can exhale

whew! i am relieved to see that the federal marriage act failed by such a wide margin. i understand all the politicking around the timing, etc., but i think most people understood it was folly from the git-go. if i hear the phrase "activist judiciary" one more time i think i'll scream. you can see how your senator voted here. this issue is far from dead. no major legislation is ever passed on the first attempt. but at least we seem to have killed it in this particular congress.

i've been spending time the last week sorting through four file boxes of old bills that i moved here from chicago. i had saved every receipt, bank statement, paid bill, atm slip, insurance card--you get the idea--since 1998. i had just blindly dumped them all into boxes to sort later. well, later is now. my accountant gave me some guidelines on what i needed to save and for how long. it is a monumental task that covers all of my L-shaped couch, the coffeetable and most of the surrounding floor space. it's been rewarding shredding everything and consolidating the remainder. out of those four, i hope to have less than one file box of things to keep.

the heatwave has passed and i have a big list of cooking projects i want to get to in the next couple days. blueberry coffeecake, chocolate cheesecake, macaroni and cheese (with caramelized vidalias and sauteed mushrooms) and cornbread. my freezer has alot of space in it and that always sends me into the kitchen!

sunday dinner at my sister's was a mid-summer feast this last time around. we had barbecue chicken on the grill, corn on the cob, a big green salad with cucumber and tomato, biscuits, corn relish and pickled vidalias, and a peach/plum/blueberry tart with vanilla ice cream for dessert. my brother-in-law is a master with the weber...the chicken was juicy and delicious. plus, my sister made the original barbecue sauce recipe from betty crocker (circa 1968) that we grew up with my mom making. i find as i get older that i love the meals that fit in to the seasons most of all. whether it's something like this meal, a perfect apple pie in october, a steaming pan of cassoulet in january, or a platter of asparagus in april, it's all about the food being appropriate to the time of year.

tony and i are taking a class at the local gay and lesbian community center entitled "the joys and challenges of being a queer couple." it's not so much a class where you would expect lectures, as it is a series of facilitated conversations amongst a group of couples. i really like the other folks in it and the discussion was thoughtful and informative. it helps just to see how other couples deal with everyday stuff. one of the issues for me is embracing the fact that tony is not as out with his family as i am. this is a big difference in our lives and certainly counts as one of the "challenges" we face.

i've been planning his birthday outing as well. we are doing an overnight trip to pittsburgh. we'll spend the day at kennywood, which is described as america's finest traditional amusement park. it looks like alot of fun, with a ton of coasters and, purportedly, the world's best french fries at the "potato patch." these fries are legendary...we'll see if they live up to their hype. after a night in a nice hotel, we'll stop at the grove city outlets on the way back. i'm looking forward to the whole trip!



putting things by

that's the olde-fashioned phrase for what i've been doing. i cannot seem to stop with the canning. i made the chutney yesterday, with fresh peaches, dried tart cherries, both sweet and hot peppers and tons of fresh ginger. then i realized this morning that i had made a huge batch of barbecue sauce for my 6 little pieces of chicken, so i decided to bottle that as well. i am quickly approaching a hundred ball jars in my cupboard, which doesn't count what i've already given away. here's the list so far, starting with the top left and working around clockwise...

Corn Relish
Five Pepper Relish
Pickled Vidalia Onions
Pickled Green Beans and Carrots
Asian Barbecue Sauce with Mango
Gingered Peach Cherry Chutney
Georgia Peach Sauce
Blackberry Jam with orange rind
Ohio Strawberry Sauce

would somebody please stop me?!?!


the promotion!

i finally got the word on tuesday that my promotion becomes official on 7/26! it's a relief to know what is going on for sure now. i talked with my boss for about an hour and he answered all my questions about compensation and benefits. there was alot of misinformation for the first two that moved up, so i got the scoop straight from the big guy's mouth. basically, what i am in, as of that date, is a training period that should last about 6 months. at that point the full benefits (and the big $$$) will kick in...woo hoo! so by the time we get to the first of the year, that should all be in place. this is the same period when i will know about where i will be placed and tony and i can think about a home together. it's also when my parents should be getting here. i just have to be patient and all these things will come into my life.

not much else to tell. i have a couple days off here in the middle of the week. i'll have breakfast with my sister as usual. i made barbecue sauce (an asian one with hoisin and ginger and rice vinegar) that i'm gonna do with chicken. i also have the stuff to make some chutney, a cheesecake and/or a plum tart. we'll see how motivated i get in the kitchen.


ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...turn and face the strange

i wish i knew more about %$#*&@# html coding! i am at the mercy of my webhost and their limited selection of templates. whenver i see a site design i like, i realize that in order to get there, i would have to learn to write html code. right now, i don't feel like i have the time to delve into all that for a blog as casual as this. consequently, any changes you see here may look odd and will almost certainly not be permanent. and i can't seem to get the comments capability the way i want it!

anyway, it was a great 4th of july! i got up late and made a big bowl of fatoush (a lebanese vegetable salad with toasted pita) to take to one of the barbecues we were invited to. then i checked the news on the web and found that today's "evildoers du jour" were lebanese. OOOPS! so i decided to vaguely describe it as a middle eastern salad and leave it at that. in any event, people seemed to like it. the other food was classic american picnic fare...bbq chicken on the grill, kielbasa, baked beans, red/white/blue jello, fruit salad in a carved out watermelon, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and apple pie. we finally ate around 6pm and then tony and i had to dash off to our second party. when we arrived there they were just setting up the buffet for that dinner. we had to eat again about an hour after the first time...yikes! the food here was similar, with burgers and kielbasa on the grill, baked beans, potato salad and some other more interesting sides including a delicious asian slaw. for dessert they had lemon poundcake with yogurt and fresh berries--YUM! i was so full by the end of this that we just went home and crashed. i had to work at 5am on monday anyway, so we missed the fireworks. if you missed them, too, you can make your own here.



perceptions of time

a fellow blogger's entry on time reminds me of an interview i saw on pbs once with famed pearl-wearing socialite and 'what's my line' panelist kitty carlisle hart. her take on the perceived ever-increasing speed of time came from her mother, who claimed that by age 60, it seemed that "every 20 minutes it was time for breakfast again." as i careen into middle age i can certainly relate. it's that moment when you wake in the morning, not sure if you slept a whole night and have passed into a new day, or if you just fell back asleep for an additional half-hour.


bush is an idiot

i know this isn't shocking news to any of us, but it's even clearer now that i've seen Fahrenheit9/11. michael moore is absolutely brilliant at putting together the pieces of one of the most frightening periods in our lives...ever. he is quite skilled at juxtaposing footage and music and documents. his handling of the world trade center attacks themselves was both understated and moving. the story of a mother with two children in the military is powerful and compelling. and most of all, he is not afraid to speak the truth: BUSH IS AN IDIOT.

when he was appointed to office 3 1/2 years ago, we were promised "four years of cringing." little did we know just exactly how bad that would be. embarrassing us on the world stage; sinking into the quagmire in the middle east; watching the deficit return and balloon to record levels; wincing as our "leader" stumbles through another speech. who could have imagined just how awful this all has been?

so my advice to you, dear readers, is to get up from your chair and proceed immediately to the theater to see this film. think about it for a few days. tell everyone that you meet to go and see it. initiate conversations regarding this film everywhere you go. and then go see it again. there is so much information packed into these two hours that it bears repeated watching.

the ultimate tribute to mr. moore will not be his palme d'or from cannes or the oscar (should hollywood have the cujones to give it to him). rather, it will be the end of bush's term of office and the swearing in of a president who will have been truly elected. this is a task that we can all work to make happen over the next four months. let's make it happen!
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