Thursday, May 25, 2023

Tales of the neigborhood

Woe to anyone who crosses her.

The other day, while catching up with our neighbor Gertie, she and I witnessed a heated discussion between neighbors. 

Evidently, the one (Blond, Bitchy and Big Boobs) who is a total bitch to everyone wanted her yard cleaned up.  So husband hired a yard crew to clean up and mulch down the yard that BBB could care less about.

They brought out their gasoline-powered blowers and proceeded to blow last's fall and winter's detritus onto the other neighbor's freshly landscaped and mulched beds.  When the next-door neighbor saw what was going on, she asked BBB to ask her yard men to stop blowing crap into her Zen garden.  

BBB, screamed back that "You'll have to ask my husband to do that," because ""He's the one who handles the yard."

Which prompted a "Seriously?" commented from the aggrieved neighbor. She had a point. I mean really, what kind of smack is that?

BBB then said, "I mean that Zen garden is just a giant litter box!"

And then she walked back into the house because that is the type of passive-aggressive Barbie doll that she is.

So her aggrieved neighbor did what felt good at the moment- but wasn't very Zenlike - she got out her husband's gasoline-powered leaf blower and blew the crap back into BBB's yard.  

"Oh," said Gert, "I think we are in for another bug tussle."

Now I was torn. Part of me found the aggrieved neighbors take no shit, take no prisoners attitude something I could cheer on. 

"We went through this a couple years ago," opined Gert.  "This just made for unpleasantness."

But we all know that revenge is usually a dish best-served cold. Yet another question was, why wasn't wronged party meditating on it, which is very Zenlike. 

THAT prompted BBB to storm out of her house and walk up to her gardeners, and based on her hand gestures (it was kind of hard for us to see through Gertie's hedge, and the machines in the yard were making an awful racket) order one of the men working in her yard to blow the shit back into her neighbor's yard.  

I think body language is pretty universal, and he essentially was telling her "I am not your champion." He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.  

SO, BBB went over to the fence and started screaming at the neighbor, who screamed back "I THOUGHT ONLY YOUR HUSBAND COULD SPEAK WITH THE GARDENER!"

Our neighborhood picnic and potluck is this weekend, so I for one am interested in how BBB is going to play this. On the other hand, I think that it would be best to steer clear of both of them. 

Sunday, May 7, 2023

My cocktail with Blobby


Blobby is very real. 

Believe me, reader, when I tell you, the man and the myth lived up to the hype, fellow blogger Blobby everything and more. 

When I knew that I had some family things in Ohio that needed tending, I contacted Blobby to see if he would like to get together for coffee or a beer, and the date was set at the Van Aken District (VAD) Market Place. 

Blobby and I were both at OSU at the same time, but we never crossed paths.  That can happen when a student population is 60,000+.  I mean the University is so large it has its own zip code.  No, not the Zip+4, I mean 43210.  But we grew up in Cleveland's eastern suburbs, and I swear that it's a small town. 

We chatted about stuff, I had a lovely time, and I hope he did too. He got me to sit outdoors, which my Husband will tell you is near impossible, and we toughed it out until the sun sank behind a building. Upon finishing our beverages we left and went our separate ways.  I did invite him and 714 to come to visit us in Baltimore. 

Just as I got out to the car, some woman came running up to my car, jumping up and down and it was my lab partner from 8th-grade science. Now Cookie is known for spotting people, but the last I heard, she was in Cincinnati, so I never dreamed of seeing her, but there she was so back in I went.   We talked about our big project - making five gallons of wine and monitoring the fermentation process. But, being 14, our parents were there for the bottling and they got to keep the spoils. Could that really have been 46 years ago? Where does time fly?

I have to say this, I have had meet-ups with bloggers and they all go well, with the exception of a former blogger who tried shaking me down for cash. And we'll just leave it at that. 

But, Oh, Cleveland, how you evolve in the most wonderful of ways, and a big f-you to media outlets that continue to only focus on that sliver of bad that every city has.  Before I left I did tell the husband that if our old family house was for sale in the Lomond area Shaker, our move would come immediately, not later. 

But it was not to be!

So it was out on Thursday, driving in the rain, was no fun. This was not only my first long-range drive travel since the Pandemic began but since the cancer surgery as well.  Visited, ran into cousins, eat a disgusting amount of heavenly food, and left there at 6am.  I arrived back in Bawlimore at 1:00 PM.  Not bad for a six-hour trip with a breakfast break and stops to use the necessary here and there. 

It's good to go back home and to the place, we'll be living in 18-24 months. 


Thursday, April 13, 2023

What not to eat: Wrigley's Franks and Hot Potato Salad Dish


When I was a child, there were a series of jokes that were always prefaced with "What is grosser than gross," and then the disgusting punch line followed with a cringe-inducing line, usually "When your great grandmother kisses you goodbye and slips you the tongue."

Shiver, ick!

Cookie keeps a file on foods out of women's magazines that are filed under "Food - Inedible". This is one of those files, and well, this is a grosser-than-gross post:

Franks and Potato Salad Dinner, brought to you by Wrigley's Spearmint Gum isn't so much a 'recipe" - none of these three color ads are true recipes.  They are more "assemble the usual suspects, an arrangement like this, serve them, and then stick a stick of our gum in your pie hole to cover up the taste. 

In this one, line a casserole dish with one pound of skinless franks, and slice in half - because evidently, we want to spread this around and make it last.  make sure that you cut one end of the severed frank into a point, so when you slide them into the round dish to seal the bottom. {Wink}.  The fill the void - and folk we all have a void to fill - with potato salad, one of the famous cold salads.  

But here, things get weirder than average because they want you to bake this mess for 20-25 minutes.  Now anyone who bakes basic potato salad is a deviant, ok?  But, they give you the option of filling the center with German Potato Salad, which is meant to be heated. 

We leave weird and cross over into disgusting when they suggest that you ice this mess with the "bewitching taste of "Catsup*", Chili** (and where is that recipe?), or BBQ sauce. 

Yeah, BBQ sauce really dresses up this hot mess.

Now the only people who could stomach this hot mess are heavy smokers.  The type that smoke while they eat.  People named Estil, Corliss, Bud, and "Sister Girl".

For dessert - after people are done vomiting this back up - then comes the gum. Because the whole family will be desperate to get that lasting bile taste out of their mouths. 

Making these ads all the better are the cheap, but lurid color separation.  That the page is stained with age, or coffee, or whatever, just makes you even more queasy.

You can thank me later when you download the image, post it on your blog or the Face of Book, to gross out your friends. 

Now excuse me while I get a refreshing cool cloth for the back of my neck, after sharing this with you.

 *We here at Ville Cookie are a step up when we buy "Catsup" because we only use ketchup when appropriate. 

**Could they mean Canned Chili? Quelle Horrour!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Oh, Bother - or - when your BP become 150/110


Forward and Forewarned, Apple users, I know you love your system. But crowing about how flawless it is isn't going to make me feel better.  Unless you plan on buying me a factory-new Apple desktop, keep you IOS to yourself. Kisses.

Well, it was too good to last. 

After a year of running flawlessly, a Microsoft Update (the one for March 2023) destroyed my Windows 11 operating system. 

Cookie doesn't visit sites that he shouldn't, doesn't open emails from people he doesn't know and doesn't click on links, or run programs he shouldn't.  And cookie keeps his antivirus updated and runs frequently. 

But that update from Microsoft brought down my desktop. Thank our Lord in Heaven, Jesus Christ Almighty, but Cookie had the brains to install a secondary drive to keep all his doc and photos on. So the angels sang out "For verily, you followed our instruction, all is well on that front."

Working with Dell Support was a dream. They couldn't have been nicer, and it was worth the extra money when I bought the system. They even call you back to make sure everything is copacetic. 

BUT what Cookie didn't learn is when you buy a PC from Dell and pay for Office Home and Student to come preloaded, they do not send you the activation code. 

How can this be? Trust me, "It be" because everything they do is handled on a peer network connection with Microsoft or some such other malarky, but they don't send it.

Which means, you, the consumer, has to go back to Microsoft and have them activate the Office Suite. 

And guess what that means? 

Sisyphus has a better chance of rolling that rock up that mountain than you have in reaching anyone, in any department that can help you.  Why? Because there is no such thing as Microsoft Support, except online, and the links to get to that are better hidden than the mystery of life itself. 

The bottom line is this - once you buy something from them, you are dead to them.  

Now think about this.  Money doesn't grow on trees where Cookie dwells. 

This of course raised Cookie's stress, anxiety, and blood pressure to dangerous heights.  Seriously, trying to get this resolved through Microsoft literally made me throw up. 

If you follow the online links to get help, you either reach a dead end, a circular link, or a telephone number that tells you all support has moved online.  In other words, there is no honest way for a law-abiding, license-owning person to resolve this.  You can reach a human through chat, but they want to sell you Office 365, which gets expensive at $100/year.  And if your internet connection goes down? You are shit out of luck.

My only option was to buy a second copy of Office.  Bad enough I paid $150 when I bought the computer, but now I was shelling it out a second time.  But this time I have the activation key

And Cookie blames this Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, who is a fuckwit. 

This is the same fuckwit who crowed about Bing having the first AI Engine available to the masses.  The same fuckwit who disappeared when that AI Engine started developing personality problems and began issuing all sorts of troubling answers. 

At least with Bill Gates, Microsoft functioned like a normal evil empire, but under Nadella they issued Widows 11 will all sorts of retrograde engineering that the ability to control the operating system meant you couldn't customize even the basic toolbar. Worse still, once you buy it, there is STILL no refund, no support. 

So now, and a week after the failure, I am just getting up to speed. 

And oh, yeah, tonight I am eating meatloaf in honor of Nadella.

UPDATE: The meatloaf was delicious!  So were the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Beware the Ides of March, or Put That Dildo Down Casca!

 Well, its the Ides of March, ladies, and gentlemen.  

It certainly wasn't a very good day for Julius Ceasar. The Roman Emporer met his doom on this day when he was stabbed in the back, and chest, and neck, and then the back again, and etc., etc., etc.

I understand that they never could get all of the blood stains off the marble.  Not even Bon Ami could work that kind of magic. 

The picture above is from Julius Ceasar, the 1953 movie that crowned Louis Calhern as Ceasar. Marlon Brando was Mark Antony, James Mason was Brutus, and wielding the knife character, Casca, is actor Edmond O'Brien.  The film even includes John Hoyt, the man in the lower right (face partially blocked) looking up at Ceasar.  Hoyt always looked very old and frail to me - he seemed to get more roles the older and trailer he got.  Flinty, and with the bluest eyes, Hoyt had an amazing build and tight muscled body into his early 60s.  

But let us take a look that that dagger about to be employed into Ceasar by Edmond O'Brien. It only appears in the briefest of flashes, and then it's die, die, my darling when it is plunged into Ceaser. 

But let us look really closely at that prop dagger:

It looks a bit like a dildo. 

Of course for safety's sake, it has to be rounded, and not something that can hurt a real live person.  I mean it is Julius Ceasar and not Rust thank God. 

This was first pointed out to me years and years ago when I was looking at a Hollywood prop auction catalog with a long-gone paramour. 

"If you squint, you can see the pee hole," said Jeff. 

But every time I see this showcase for Brando, the dildo knife makes me giggle.  Not his death, but the spring-loaded dildo-looking knife. 

I often wonder what happened to the dildo-looking knife, and if the person who bought it bought it because it was a prop knife, a prop knife that looked like a dildo. 

Well, I hope that nothing foul happens to anyone out there, today.  May cooler heads prevail. And look forward to this Sunday when we bid adieu to that old scorn winter, and the first day of spring follows on Monday. 

And we all know how Cookie revels in spring. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Someone just wild about Dick.


And not any Dick.

But a certain Dick. 

Cookie, too, sometimes thinks about that certain Dick.

Not a Rick, Rich, or Dickie, but Dick. 

And who amongst us hasn't welcomed Dick at some time or another?

Personally, I think it's wonderful that she has her mind on a certain Dick.  

I mean, people will talk. 

But evidently, this Dick she can't seem to forget is a powerful Dick. After all, Dick is enough to make her Whirlo. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The one where Cookie crosses over the 2,400 mark


Who are these men?  They need decorating help.

This is the one where Cookie toots his own horn.

As of yesterday, I have validated and then uploaded 2,400 images of copyright-free photographs of people - long dead, of course - to Find A Grave.  And these images are not of famous people.  Nor are they pictures of grave markers - that is a different count.  These are electronic images scanned from the originals. 

It is all about putting a face with the name on the memorial.

Cookie sees himself as a history connector - one who connects people to history - and to that end, I have always felt that if a picture is worth a thousand words, well then, it makes it far more likely that someone will be able to see that a memorial on that site isn't just a name and grave location, but the face of the person behind that name. 

One could just snap up pictures found in yard sales and just assign the picture of Anna Smith of Toledo, Ohio, to the memorial for Anna Smith buried in Toledo.  But that would be a recipe for chaos. I mean, per Find A Grave, there are 29 people named Anna Smith buried in Toledo who have memorials, so how do you know you have the right face on the right memorial?  And in Lucas County? That adds in another 14.  Ann Smith, then things snowball. 

Well, you only know if you study the image, note the name of the person, their possible age, and the era in which the picture was taken.  Those huge mutton sleeves on the comely Anna Smith in the image give you an idea that she was perhaps, 16-25 at the height of the fad in the 1890s.

Then you hunt for Anna Smith on FamilySearch, Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage, and you pour over newspapers looking for obituaries, and marriage announcements.  You look at birth records, you look at death records, you search until you have proven that the picture of the Anna Smith you have is the person on the site. 

And what if Anna married or remarried?  Stayed local or moved away?  I guess what I am getting at is that each picture can take an hour, or weeks, months even.  Then there is the pile of images that my forty-five years of experience searching for people means nothing.  These are the people for which there is no positive way to identify them.  Those make me the saddest. 

But when I make that connection, I scan the image, encode the metadata, and if need be restore it in Photoshop.  After all, everyone likes to look their best.  

Then the upload. 

Another one done.


Onto 2,401.

Of course hunting for the images is a duty in itself.  Flea markets, book and paper shows, etc., and so on.  I also try and rehome these images. I have only had one person tell me to throw out an image: "I have plenty of pictures of him, throw it out," said the person's granddaughter. 

That one got mailed to the local historical society as a gift.  Maybe one day her grandchildren will be looking for the image as well. 

I don't care if people download the images.  If it makes a connection for them, fine.  Isn't that what helping people make connections is really about?

Needless to say that I have plenty of time to work on these.  My goal is 3,000.  But when I get to that, the foot gets punted down the field to 3,500, maybe 4,000. 

I really believe that we owe people something to help them find a link to their past if they search for it. Ignoring history just makes it that much harder to unearth further down the line. 

I want to be the person who in a small way helps them make it there. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Phlebotomist is Having A Day


Cookie had a mad dash to the doctor today. 

I was scheduled for blood tests today in advance of a follow-up with the surgeon when one of these God Damn messages from their automated system comes in and told me that I need to check in for my appointment. 

But the bloodletting was scheduled for 10:30.  Now it's 9:30?  Well you can't call the doctor without getting trapped in the Hellish phone tree, and not wanting to miss my window, I decide to make a run for it.

So I grab a jacket, push the Prius to its limits, and make it to the medical building ten minutes late, so I am technically on time in Baltimore metrics. (You can be up to a half hour late here, they don't care.)

I sign in and get called up only to be told that my appointment is at 10:30, which I thought.  

So Cookie shows them the message, they look it up, and Receptionist tells me that "that's for next week."

"But shouldn't it give me a date for the appointment check-in?"

"One would think.  You should have called," says Receptionist.

"Your phone tree isn't easy to work through," said I.

Receptionist says, and I quote: "Yeah, we hear that a lot." and then, crickets.

I mean it's not her job to fix it, but a Comcast representative will tell you the same thing about their phone tree, which is closer to the black hole of Calcutta than anything service related. Yet these systems never get fixed.

Anyway, I get to the Vampires Den, and I think were doing one tube. I get Hotty McHotty, the male phlebotomist, and he asks how I am doing.  

"I am having a day," I reply. 

"You and me both."

Now Miss Thing is built well, looks damn good in scrubs, has a dimple in his chin, and is totally desire-worthy, but he is a prima donna.  I have seen him at the home of one of the neighborhood power couples. 

"I'm sorry."

"I'll live.  The world keeps going." Then he says under his breath "Keep it together, Minnelli."

Reader, it took every ounce of strength not to laugh.

Then a woman I have never seen comes by and tells Hotty to take a break and she'll stick me. Sotto voce she tells me "He's having a day."

Out comes my arm, looking for veins, pat, pat, pat, and she finds one she likes, then she remembers "I need to get the tubes."


I thought this was just a follow-up PSAT.  WRONG.  They haul out a whole battery of tubes. 

She sticks me, and I don't feel a thing.  This woman is good. And better her than Hotty, because you don't want Miss Thing jabbing you if his mind is someplace else, like looking at his husband's messages on that man's phone. 

So it was four vials, and she admonishes me for not drinking enough water before coming over, and then she hands me a cookie. 

"Usually we only give these out when we draw a lot of blood." I didn't fuss or freak out, so it was my reward for being a compliant patient.

Then she says, "He's a little off, but he'll be better in a moment. I'd appreciate you not mentioning that to the doctor when you see him."

"Me?" I say. "Not the doctor.  Besides, who am I going to tell?  "  

And I have not broken that promise. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The car that wasn't there. At first...


I call this one "The car that wasn't there." It's a 1962 Dodge 800.  When Dodge rolled out its disastrous 1962 model line in the fall of 1961, the one thing missing was a big, BIG car. 

It's a whole corporate cloak-and-dagger thing.  Suffice it to say, the boys at Highland Park got pantsed by their former CEO William Newburgh. 

Things got out of hand when Newburgh overheard Ed Cole (GM) talking about their forthcoming small Chevy, and only hearing whispers, Newburg panicked.  Upon getting back to the HQ, he ordered that the full-size Dodge and Plymouth's proposed for 1961 be shrunken, and fast.  This threw the whole styling and engineering sections into total chaos. They had to shrink the length, and to get the proportions right, the width as well.

Things got completely out of hand when, in short order, Newburgh was shown the door in a conflict of interest scandal.  Chrysler ended up with a CEO named Lynn Townsend who was a bean counter, and accounts make lousy heads of car companies. 

THEN things went totally out of control when Chrysler found out that Chevy wasn't shrinking any vehicle, but it was coming out with the compact Chevy II.  By that time, and with Townsend not wanting to waste tooling dollars, it was impossible to stop the development of the small cars slated by Dodge and Plymouth. But reader, the body dies were literally cast, and there was no going back without a massive loss. 

In short, Newburgh had screwed Chrysler's pooch. 

So all Dodge dealers had in the fall of 1961 were intermediate shrunken-up Dodges to sell. And they were ugly.  Well, not ugly, but weird. Obtuse angles. Asymmetrical lines. Unexplained bludges.  Dealers complained and buyers ran to GM, Ford, and AMC.  Even Studebaker benefited from the stumble.   OK, they had the look that only a mother could love. 

Vice President of styling Virgil Exner, the man who just five model years before had been hailed a hero, was given his walking papers.  Never mind that Exner had warned the higher-ups that this would be a catastrophic disaster.  The dealers demanded retribution on someone, and Exner was axed. 

Quick thinking, in the late fall of 1961, Chrysler decided to make a new Dodge out of that year's Chrysler body.  From the cowl back, this is a Chrysler Newport. But, from the windshield forward, it's a 1961 Dodge front clip with a restamped hood.  

To make it look different, Chrysler's new head of styling, Elwood Engle* (a man as exciting as his name sounds) brought out a box of disused trim pieces from previous years and taped them to the body of a cobbled-together test mule.   Dodge's new symbol, the "Fratzog" ended up on the grille, faux vent fins from the previous year's Chrysler made it to the front fenders - you know making do with parts are in the warehouse. 

The irony? The 1962 Chrysler was a 1961 Dodge with a 1961 Chrysler front clip and redone rear quarter panels that did away with Dodge's funky reverse forward high fins. 

There was no time to fix the rear of this Dodge 880. If you were sitting behind a 1962 Chrysler or a 1962 Dodge 880, they looked exactly alike, save for the names Chrysler on one and Dodge on the other.  

To confuse this even more, let us ask "What of Chrysler's 1962 Chrysler wagon?" 

It didn't start out as a definned Dodge, and it couldn't use the Chrysler wagon body that had fins as big as a wedding cake, so it used the Chrysler front clip, mated to the 1961 Plymouth station wagon body.  And when the 1962 880s came along, they too used the Plymouth body.  One thing carried over from the previous two years was the hardtop senior station wagons - a body style both dropped by GM in 1958 and Ford's Mercury division at the end of the 1960 model year. 

What of the 1962 full-size Plymouth? Well, there wasn't one. 

Instead, Chrysler took its Newport and dropped the prices so low it stood in for a Plymouth.  This damaged Plymouth's ability to sell cars, because its shrunken "full-size cars" weren't beauty winners in their own right, either.   It also damaged Chrysler's reputation as a maker of better cars.

In 1963 Chrysler got its cars the "Clean, Crisp, Custom" look, and Dodge carried on with the Chrysler body that had been a Dodge body.  For 1963 they got rid of this gawd awful front end and got new round taillights. 

Dodge made do with the basic body through 1964, getting an almost modern look from the rear. 

In 1965, All was made right, sort of. All three brands got all-new vehicles.  But that is a post for another day. 

*Cookie is sure he was a lovely man, but the cars he created at Chrysler were hit or miss.  The 1965 Dodge was a yawner, as was the 1969 Plymouth.  And we won't even discuss the 1966-67 Plymouth Belvedere/Satellite or the concurrent Dodge Coronet.

Monday, February 20, 2023

No Manic Monday here.


Well, I guess it's time for an update of sorts, frankly, I cannot think of anything that is going on with mentioning. 

Verily, if I could, it would break this horrific case of ennui and boredom that envelopes me.  It's not depression, but seriously low energy, and a bad case of nothing new.

No manic Mondays here in Baja Towson.

As my recovery progresses from surgery I really can't set out on an escapade, or travel.  So there is nothing new there.  Genealogy is all caught up. TV is a vast wasteland.  And we're in that part of February that has some springlike days, but no consistent springlike weather. 

One good thing is that Husband had a summons to Boston, and has returned safely.  The best no-drama there is. 

I am planning on ordering archive materials from Gaylord on March 1st, but that isn't the stuff of entertainment, just another form of work. 

Got my allergy shots today, so yeah me.   Self-care, everyone's a winner!

See what I mean.  

I feel like Gooch - a giant sponge. 

Oh, well.  Tomorrow really is another day. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Never lose anything in your muff, again!


Now that we are at the heights of Muff Season, be careful when you put in your muff.  

Tis' a tragedy as old as time itself that someone shoves something into their muff only to lose track of it, or worse loses it in there.  Why an old muff, which has become loose with age and wear, things can simply fall out if you are careful. But using the suggested trick will keep everything small accounted for. 

And it's essential that you use that muff of yours.  In cold weather, if you can. (You muff enjoys being cold, in fact!)

And remember, never let a man into your muff in public.  Your reputation may suffer from whispers about your ease with familiarities.  People will talk. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

1983 to 2023


Not Cookie. But, oh, what fun we had in your youth

On January 21, 1983, I came out to myself.  And over the next many months, to every one else.

It was a long process. Oh, I had long been having sex with men, lusting after them, and dreaming about men.  Why, when I was five, watching the original Batman on TV, I kept hoping that Adam West's costume would rip open.  I had no idea, but it made me feel all warm inside. 

But on that night in 1983, I understood that gay men really were humans and not just people driven by sex. 

That was the night that the light (Disco Ball, if you will) went off in my head and I realized that they had lived like everyone else, had hobbies and interests like everyone else, played cards, laughed at movies, and were concerned about their futures.  And at the climax of the night, they could hold each other after sex, sex that was good, satisfying, and felt natural. 

I know that may sound odd but back then, society still treated you like a joke, as something less than, nothing more than a punch line on a TV, or doomed to a life of fulfillment, and worse still, someone people really rejected. 

And I also came to understand that the older generation in 1983 had had it far worse than what I thought was our current situation.  Those who came before us had it much worse when it came to law and to relationships with their families. 

In 1983, I never thought that I could one day marry a man and be happy.  In 1983 I thought we had to be content with calling our other half my lover, a term that connoted only sex. 

One by one, the people who knew me told me they knew all about it, and for a long time.  My mother kicked me out of the house but came around once I showed some backbone.  My father never came around, which is no surprise, because he was unable to admit he was ever wrong about anything.  His loss, not mine.

What a difference 40 years makes in many ways.  I am now happily married to a man I have been with for decades, someone who is my very best friend and someone I thought would have rejected me in 1983.  On the contrary, he was in his own closet trying to keep his head down, and not be identified. 

We all make different journeys.

Now Cookie is the older generation.  And sometimes it feels damn lonely here. If the joke is Gay Life ends at thirty, try sixty.  I always deferred to my gay elders, but I really feel that younger gay men have become so callous as to see us as their brethren. 

I have been called "Troll" "dead man walking" and "Boomer". I have always found safety in the company of men who are older, but here I am with at best maybe 20 years left.   My friends are varied, but younger gay men forget that people like me pushed and pushed hard to be able to be out at work, that we pushed and pushed hard to open up housing, employment, and yes, minds.  Just as the older generation did, and grateful I have always been, for the guys of my era.

To those who mock me, my answer is always the same: "If you are lucky, you'll make it to my age. And that's a big "If".

And I think of all the men stuck down by AIDS when there were no cures, just death. 

Still, I worry about the next ten, twenty, and thirty years.

Will my marriage be invalidated?  Will our health insurance be cut off because we aren't a straight family? Will we be hunted down, and forced to separate for our own safety?  Because there are certainly enough angry people who see the LGBTQ+ community as the easiest target that can find.  Without a boogie man, they have no platforms. Without hate, they have no power.  That scares Cookie.  

I hope not.  I hope we grow old into our dotage. And before taking that final step into an afterlife, if one exists, there isn't much of a wait for the other to join the first to go. 

But the one thing that remains constant is that we will remain at war with society until they give up trying to make us into something less than they are. We have to keep pushing, keep making our voices heard and our rights guarded, and we need to keep pushing. 

We have to remember that being enough isn't just enough, but that our rights matter, we will not be pushed, and shoved around.  We will strike back, and our allies need to know that we love them, and we'll support them as they support us. 

Nothing won is ever safe. Life is full of struggle.  My Ancestors taught me that. 

Still, what an amazing forty years it's been.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Moving About, A Cookie Surgical Update

Time for my final post-surgical update. 

Well, since having the dreaded Catheter removed, my mood, pain and overall recovery have all accelerated.  Still a bit sore and such, but I can move about, run the vacuum, fold laundry, and drive. 

Yesterday poor husband had to put up with me as we ran three BIG errands, with only pee break, which is a good day, all things considered.

I spoke with the spouse of a neighbor who went through this - and she is a former nurse, and she said that she was really happy with my milestones, but again, urged me not to do too much too soon. 

This is a problem for people recovering from surgery.  Fifty years ago, I would have been fileted stem to stern, spent a week in the hospital, and then released to mostly rest at home, then been told to introduce light activities. 

Today, you go in, have the surgery, and get taken to your hospital room where I spent 30 hours, during which I had to get up and walk the halls of the hospital four times.  Then they released me. Coming home, it was more of the same, up and moving, a nap, more walking, etc. By the third day out, I was walking around the block.  I got tired, but they wanted to walk so I did. Followed by a nap. 

But they keep saying don't do too much. 

OK, but how much is too much?

On that point, they get a little fuzzy.  They want you to do a little more than you did the time before if you feel up to it. 

"Just keep moving, but don't push yourself too far."

It seems a game of platitudes tempered by nebulous warnings. You want A, but not too much A.  How will I know. You'll know.

Anyhow, I stay busy, doing stairs, walking and walking, standing and standing, and when I get tired, I relax and nap out. 

Still, my twisting days are still away, and joke that I told the surgeon.  If you know about surgeons, they are a different breed of human. Often times distant, most of the time detached. So when I said the twist comment the surgeon looked at me and said:

"You don't want to do too much, too soon, but you also have to get up and move. I would avoid twisting until you feel up to it."

You can't win for trying. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Someone has their flabby teats in the wringer

 Name the member of Congress in this picture:

Said member of Congress vehemently denies that it is them.

So let's do the layover image between a campaign picture and the one above:

Clearer, yet?

How's this?

Let's see how many Tea Party trolls protest Miss Thang over her sordid past. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Hopeful news, but not cured, yet.

Cautious Optimism Could Be Called For

Well, we have hopeful news from the lab tests and dissections:

1) They got all the known, evident cancer.

2) The margins (extra) they took were clear.

3) The lymph nodes on both sides that they took were clear as well.


4) The lab found evidence that microscopic bits of the cancer were found on the outside of the prostate. 

What does this mean?

We are not out of the woods, totally, yet.  And I don't want to go dancing in the streets until I know more. 

I have always viewed cancer as a chronic disease, not always immediately cured by surgery, chemo, or radiation.  We have all heard the phrase "The Cancer is back..." and usually that's bad. 

Really bad. 

Cookie says you can be happy with the first three bits, and by all means, strip into your natural state, grab a tambourine, and dance in the street if you are so inclined.  Fly that Cookie Freak Flag! Enjoy this moment.  But the other - well, that is what the follow-up brings. 

What happens next? 

Well, for the short-term future, people undergoing this surgery have additional PSA tests, and if the numbers are good to improving, well good.  And if the numbers are really good for a period of time, that might be a signal of a real cure. 

But, if the numbers aren't where they should be, or are trending down and then up, that would be another PMSA Scan (where they shoot you full of a radioactive isotope that targets the PSA in your body and see where it is active) that could lead to radiation, Chemotherapy, and additional surgeries.  Now the last PMSA scan said it was just in the prostate, but that was in August. So I am hopeful that we're still in that bubble as no microscopic cancer cells showed up in the margins. 

IN OTHER NEWS, the Catheter was removed, so no more bag! Sweet Jesus, what a freaking relief. 

My next goal, aside from passing the PSA test, is to sleep on my sides again without pain.  In a couple weeks, we should be there. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Recovering, covering up, and "It's in the bag, man."

Hello My Pretties,

This is Cookie, who is now one week and a day out from my cancer surgery.  I am here to tell you that all things considered, I am healing and feeling pretty fine. 

Last Monday was the operation and I must tell you, it was rough.  Well, it could have been a whole lot worse. They were able to use the DaVinci robot to cut out the involved prostate and reattach the pee pipe to the bladder - there was a chance that wouldn't happen because of previous abdominal scarring.  

The Cancer (because Cookie has lived in central and Southern, Ohio - we have to use the article in front of the disease noun - as in The Cancer, The Sugar, etc., and of course, et. al.) and some lymph nodes were sent to the lab, we get those results tomorrow.  

I was glued up, a drain inserted and stitched into place, brought to, and remarkably had no sore throat from the anesthesia tube.  I guess it was forty years of practice that paid off.  What hurt like Hell was the trunk of my body.  

Dear God!  

The pain from the CO2 that they fill you up with was excruciating.  I felt like Mr. Tropogrosso!

The worst of the worst is the exterior plumbing. Because they have to attach the pee tube back to the bladder, you have to have a catheter (NOT a Sureflo unit, and I did not have a buttocks drape either) and an external collection bag. They don't want the bladder to spasm, and they don't want the bladder to blow up with urine like a water balloon, yet.  So I have spent a week with three feet of tubing attached to the collection vessel (the bag).

The catheter itself is rubber and has a small balloon inflated in the bladder to keep it from pulling out.  It's not comfortable.  The figurative "pain in the ass" is the tube that connects the catheter to the bag.  The plastic tubing has a mind of its own.  It keeps wanting to twist and coil back into its original shape.  

Verily, it will not be denied. 

In the hospital, it was no problem, because you have people to help you deal with it, and IV poles for the bags of fluids, and you can hang it from when you have to walk the halls.  And yes, I was up walking the halls within three hours of the surgery.  But the tubing isn't a problem. because it's attached to the pole, which is on wheels, and around you go.  

But at home? No pole.  

This makes wearing pants next to impossible.  So I have spent the week in my husband's boxers while I sit around the house.  But because I need to walk up and down the street, that means stuffing said bag and non-compliant tubing into the large of some baggy pants.   And that makes for a look that gets second looks from people driving by or neighbors out for their walks. 

Add all of this up and you can't sleep well.  You are propped up on your back at odd angles.

My diet is pretty limited - soft food and semi-soft food. So lots of soups. Chicken soup is going in and out by the gallons because it's nourishing and surprisingly restorative.  I was able to have a crab cake because this is Maryland and crab cakes are our official food of choice, and a God-given right. 

But now the neighbors are sending food, and I am grateful, but they are sending gallons of Chicken soup.  I keep telling myself: soup is a meal and a liquid...soup is a food and a liquid...hydration is good...

I should start clucking soon. 

Soon, the catheter and I will part company, and we'll get the lab results.  I could pull it out at home, said the doctor.  And I replied "I couldn't but I won't."  I have had a catheter removed about eight years ago, and it wasn't something I was prepared for and I am glad of that.  So no, Dr. Surgeon is removing that clown car. 

The good news would be no spread, nothing in the margins, and nothing in the lymph system.  That means that I will have quarterly PSA tests (blood work), and that will reduce over the next five years.   The bad news is something in the margins, or something in the lymph system, which could mean radiation and chemo. 

Either way, you may not hear from me for a week or so because, and frankly, I am exhausted. 

Now all of you men out there, go to your doctor and get a PSA test. Seriously.  All of the above was but a minor nuisance compared to how this could have gone had I ignored the problem.  And I was that lucky because I insisted on them doing the damned test.   I watched my uncle die from this cancer as it spread through his body at 65, and I am determined that will not be me.  Oh, something will get us all one day, but it won't be prostate cancer.   

So don't let it happen to you.  Better to battle a bag for a week to ten days than to end up on a morphine drip headed into eternity. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Our New Years Party

Well, we threw a humdinger last night!

The Mistress said she wanted proof.  

...and, here it is!

A light menu, nothing fancy, has been selected. 

But first, Hors d' Oeuvres are being enjoyed.

The polite guests have been seated. 

Our bartender is offering a full-service menu. 

Oh, dear. Who let Muriel into the basement where the bubbly was being stored?

Our main entertainment was a smash.

When it got within a second of Midnight, Mrs. Potts gave the word!

The New Year was announced!

Who let Perimenopausal Pauline in?  
Get her out before she brings us all down. 

And with some help from Xavier Cugat, we formed a Conga Line.

Whew, that was fun. 

The orgy is next door and Fawn and Fred's. 
(The scene at Fawn and Fred's as the couples started to pair themselves.)

I did not book this band, that's for damned sure. 

Meanwhile, in the Garage, the second half of the night is underway. 

And by 4am, Vonda was turning our knotty pine basement into the Naughty Basement.

But in the end...

Everyone was able to get home, happy and exhausted, but mostly many will have to sleep it off.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Everyone has cameras these days... above all other things tonight, remember your dignity.  And think about it: La publicité!

Have a SAFE and Happy New Year's Eve.  We'll post pictures from our party tomorrow!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Look who showed up for a a cup of Christmas Cheer

 Why it's Miss Minnish, the newly retired girl's gym teacher from the grade school.  She's come to spread sunshine, and smoke from her Phillip Morris.  "I snip the filters off because they interfere with my rich, full tobacco enjoyment."

Vonda came over in her nightie to show us her cat's costume. Never mind she is her underwear. She just had to show us King Ferdinand of Tiggie-Whompers and his Kitty Costume of Good Cheer. "He thinks he's the ghost of Christmas past." Yes, Vonda, that's it exactly

Aunt Faye has shown up.  Fay was supposed to be here Yesterday.  She and Miss Mannish don't get along.  As long as Faye stays in the living, and Mannish stays in the den, we should be OK.  I should add that Fay is pissed off, she is judging you.  "Did Dom leave me here and drive back to Bayonne? That bastard." And Faye is not in the holiday spirit.  Not. At. All.

And then these two assholes showed up, complaining about their sled.  "Sled's need snow, Steve, and we ain't got none," Aunt Faye had to opine.

And finally, Aunt Gert would like us to freshen her drink.  We just poured the damned thing.  "Well honey, I like my Scotch neat and in a manly kilt!" Her throaty laugh reminds cookie of wuffa-wuffa sounds the exhausts on a 1969 Riviera make pulling away on a cold day.  

As for Cookie, I am looking forward to getting the house back to ourselves.  Merry Christmas, all y'all.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Ghosts of Christmas Parties Past: The Special Purpose Christmas Party


The following was part of a post that Cookie made back in 2014.  An update follows at the end.

Last Friday the Husband and I went to the painful, unfriendly Christmas Party ever.  Husband is a member of LGBTQ+ network at International Amalgamated.  He joined because he thought it would be a boffo way to meet people, and we have met people.  Strange, odd people.

Anyhow, Christmas was at the home of two men who live the "Loft Condo" lifestyle.  You know, RAW brick, RAW steel trusses and beams and ENORMOUS windows for all to see out of, and for the neighboring similar condos to see into.  Designers call this great sophistication, but Cookie is unimpressed.

We were greeted at the door by one of the hosts who was high as a kite, and TOLD to put our coats in the closet, then TOLD to get a drink.  Once we had said drink, made with well spirits, we were TOLD to go up-stairs to the living level.  This was a four-floor condo, and I knew we were on the ground floor level, but if the next level up was for living, and one level presumably for sleeping, Cookie wondered what the other mystery level did.  But we were told to go up a level, and up to the living level we went. Arriving on the living level, we were TOLD that they would give us a tour of their "space".  We walked around this enormous room and were told that the air ducts "delineate our purpose spaces."

"Purpose spaces?" asks the husband.

"Well, we can't very well call them rooms, can we.  It should be obvious that there are no walls.  Will you excuse me while I go greet Monica?  You can find your own way back to the Conversation Area.  MONICA!...."

(Husband turned to me and said "Bitter party of one...")

Monica, a woman of color and her bald girlfriend walked in.  Bald girlfriend, Clothilde, shaves her head to shatter the male dominated paradigm for women's fashion.  Monica told us this.  Clothilde, who we have tried to chat with before is rather rude.  She looks, and she doesn't engage, but does engage with other "womyn'.  In her path to shattering sex, race and gender paradigm, EVIDENTLY Clothilde doesn't include men in that mission.  Fine by me.

And we had been at other events where both women had been outwardly annoyed whenever I had been seated by them, or by how I chewed my food, how I breathed, how I had the audacity to simply be. Husband said that he had talking to them and Angelea said the bare minimum before turning her back.  They were both fine with the organizers, they were both fine with the people who worked in their building. But as far as we were concerned, they were simply rude. 

Anyhow, I had worked a ten-hour shift on my feet earlier in the day, my legs were killing me, and I was exhausted.

But I put on that support husband smile and chit chatted for about two hours, when my body - which was still 50 days out from surgery (two feet of colon removed for chronic diverticular disease) - started to get wonky.  I needed to sit and sit fast before my legs went out from underneath me.  

Even the husband noted that after drinking three plain old ginger ales (from cans we brought) and dining at the buffet while standing up, that the color had drained from my face.  He looked into the "casual dining purpose space" and saw that a chair had freed up and sent me to it.

No sooner than I had sat down then Clothilde said her first words to me: "You aren't going to sit down there.  There is a pregnant woman standing over there," and she nodded at a youngish twenty something with a trim figure. I must have had the "Huh?" look on my face so Clothilde reasserted herself by calling to the pregnant woman 

"Renee, git yourself over her, this man needs to git up and out so you can git off your feet and sit in this chair."

I looked up at the husband who looked at Baldy, who looked at him and said "Find him some other place to sit."  Both offended, we walked towards the kitchen area where there was a food bar and stools when the host, who was on the verge of a hissy fit came over and TOLD us to move towards the "Social Purpose Space" (reader I am not making this up) because "I spent all this money on this loft and people need to learn to use the spaces."

So the husband and I got up, and moved towards the stairs, which moved up toward the coat closet, which moved toward donning our coats.   

The man who runs the group saw this ten-minute Kabuki Theatre presentation and looked as horrified as we felt. As we donned our coats, he had followed us downstairs. 

"Fred's just nervous about hosting ... and Clothilde is a lovely person when you get to know her. Please stay."  We thanked him, but I pointed that I really did feel wonky, and had to work the next day.  "Maybe another time," and we left.

Now, all this said, and Clothilde, and the creepy host aside, this group is important to the husband at International Amalgamated because it gets him social access to decision makers.  And the man who runs the group is very nice, and 90% of the people are exceptionally nice as well.   

But even the husband was really put out by these people.

On the way home, husband said "Did all that really happen?"  Yes, it did.

Between the host who treated us like circus dogs by ordering us about, and ol' Baldy, I am just fine as long as we can get away from these people.

Just fine indeed.

UPDATE: As it happened, this was our last event with this group.  

Months later we saw the group organizer who noted that he saw we had moved, and what a lovely house we once had, and we explained that the new house was much better for hosting gatherings.  He remarked that he would love to know if we could host the Christmas Party in the coming months and we honestly said we'd get back to them, though we never did.  

Sometimes, you know where you belong, and sometimes no matter how hard you try to accommodate people, it just isn't in you to do so again and again. But these people would have shown up, used our house and our efforts, and walked out. 

But oh, reader, in my mind how I yearned to show Clothilde hospitality really works.  

You see, in our house, anyone can sit anywhere. But if I catch you telling another guest that they cannot sit in the empty chair next to you, you'll be invited to go sit on our curb.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

People with problems


Why, because, we all have...tendencies.  

And his is your hair.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The pre-Christmas rant


Time for Cookie's pre-Christmas rant.   So take heed.

1) One of Cookie's most hated seasonal songs is the Little Drummer Boy, which can suck the happiness out of any room. So Cookie has joined the Little Drummer Boy Challenge.  It's easy - you are a winner as long as you don't hear anything from that song. The song, lyrics, melody, etc. when you are listing to playlists, grocery store muzak, waiting room muzak, NPR, the Robert Shaw Chorale, ringtones, anything.  So far, so good.  And the husband who loves all kinds of music has been placed on notice to void that song from any playlists he might listen to protect my ears. 

2) People in Baltimore with cars in parking lots.  Good Lord in heaven above, but every time I pull into a parking lot - be it the grocery, target, the little market down the hill, etc., and so on, I swear that Jesus is testing me.  Evidently, the rules of safe driving are off the table as people shut off every sense that there is anyone around them and pull some of the most dangerous and stupid things.  

Like today, the woman who pulled into the market lot about ten minutes from our home and just stopped her car to check her texts blocking the entrance.  There were no cars in front of her, but she blocked the whole parking lot entrance.  Cookie was trying to make a left into the parking lot, which is on a busy road, but it was the people trying to make the right that lost it.  And what did the driver do? She stuck out her hand as if to wave people around her.  One driver tried that and what did the driver of the car blocking the lot do, she started moving forward and CRUNCH hit the car she just waved around her.  Cookie said "hell with this" and went to the veddy veddy upper crust market in Ruxton instead. 

3) Rude people at parties.  These are the people who act like assholes without the benefit of being drunk.  But put a Christmas Sweater on Dale from one block over and he becomes Super Dick, and not the kind you like to look back on with misty memories.  

4) The twenty-dollar Big Mac meal.  I can't eat them, but for the love of God, twenty dollars for a Big Mac, fries, and a soda, indifferently bagged by a person making $20/hr.?  This comes from my friend Dee Dee who nearly choked when she got the receipt at the drive-through in California.  "Christ, I can make four quarter pound sirloin burgers for $8.99, add in the buns, and tater tots, and you are feeding FOUR people."  Convenience, what can I say.   

5) 49% of voters in Georgia.  For Christ's sake people, Walker couldn't finish a goddamn sentence without sounding like a moron, is evidently cheating on his property taxes, is against abortions for others (but its OK for his girlfriends) and doesn't know how many children he has, and yet as of today, 49% of voters across Georgia voted for him.  WTF.  Anyhow, Warnock won.  Thank you 51%.

6) Cable TV.  This is a perennial complaint.  Comcast sucks.  Day in and day out. 

7) And Finally That Guy in Florida who stole top-secret papers from the White House, and has had his lawyers TWICE state that these were all the documents he had, until today when his lawyers announced that they had found a third collection in a padlock-secured storage unit.  

Do we really think that this is the end?  Nope.  Dig Up Ivana and what is in that casket!!!