Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gay Pesach Seder Dinner

Although Passover began last Monday, we are hosting our Seder dinner tonight on Saturday. Most Jews celebrate Pesach or Passover with a Seder dinner on the first and/or second night of the seven (some say eight) day festival. Tonight 20 gay men will be sitting down and retelling the ancient story of freedom and liberation.

I have written and posted in the past about our gay men's Passover Seder. Here is a collection of some of my favorite and informative posts.

The story of liberation. In addition to telling the Exodus story, we also tell and remember the lives and contributions of gay Jews.
Remembering the Stories of Gay Jews in the History of GLBT Liberation:

On our Seder table we have both the traditional Seder plate and a GLBT Seder plate.
The meaning of the Gay Seder Plate:

Some of the readings we incorporate into our service around the table.
Gay Memorial Candle and a Retelling of the Ten Plagues in the GLBT community:

Our menu for tonight. Lovingly prepared by my husband.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cover to Cover: Gay Novels

A couple weeks ago NYC blogger, journalist and author, Matthew Rettenmund (, put together a list of gay novels he liked. He said his list was not intended to be a definitive list, just the one he liked. With his list, he included the first and last sentences of the novel.

The list is quite extensive. Of the 120 novels he showcased, I have read the following 23 of them:
Hold Tight (1988), Father of Frankenstein (1995), Gossip (1997) by Christopher Bram
Dancer from the Dance (1978) by Andrew Holleran
Faggots (1978) by Larry Kramer
The Lost Language of Cranes (1986), While England Sleeps (1993) by David Leavitt
The Men from the Boys (1997) by William Mann
Tales of the City (1978), More Tales of the City (1980), Further Tales of the City (1982), Babycakes (1984), Significant Others (1987), Sure of You (1989), Maybe the Moon (1992), The Night Listener (2000), Michael Tolliver Lives (2007), Mary Ann in Autumn (2010) by Armistead Maupin
Band Fags! (2008), Drama Queers! (2009) by Frank Anthony Polito
Interview with the Vampire (1976) by Anne Rice
Myra Breckinridge (1968) by Gore Vidal
The Front Runner (1974) Patricia Nell Warren

However, I have a number of them on my bookshelf or list to read. They include:
Giovanni's Room (1956) by James Baldwin
Surprising Myself (1987) by Christopher Bram
Flesh and Blood (1995), The Hours (1998) by Michael Cunningham
Maurice (1913/1971) by E.M. Forster
Nights in Aruba (1983), Grief (2006) by Andrew Holleran
A Single Man (1964) by Christopher Isherwood
Purgatory (2012) by Jeff Mann
The Days of Anna Madrigal (2014) by Armistead Maupin
How Long Has This Been Going On? (1995) by Ethan Mordden
At Swim, Two Boys (2003) by Jamie O'Neill
The Charioteer (1953), The Persian Boy (1972) by Mary Renault
Boy Culture (1995), Blind Items: A (Love) Story (1998) by Matthew Rettenmund
The World of Normal Boys (2000) by K.M. Soehnlein
The Story of the Night (1996) by Colm Tóibín
The City and the Pillar (1948), Myron (1974) by Gore Vidal
Harlan's Race (1994), Billy's Boy (1997) by Patricia Nell Warren
Nocturnes for the King of Naples (1978), A Boy's Own Story (1982), The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988), The Farewell Symphony (1997), The Married Man (2000) by Edmund White

Alan Hollinghurst is one author I hadn’t heard of before but am now intrigued to learn more about.  Two of his novels are: The Folding Star (1994), The Line of Beauty (2004).

One author Matthew doesn’t include is Michael Thomas Ford. We have enjoyed a number of his novels. His work has been nominated for eleven Lambda Literary Awards. He has authored over 50 adult and young adult books. The ones we have read are: Last Summer (2003), Looking For It (2005), Full Circle (2005), Changing Tides (2008), The Road Home (2011).

Last Summer (2003)
FIRST “I could just go back.”
LAST “Josh looked at him for a moment, then leaned in and kissed him. ‘Yes,’ he said when the parted. ‘I did.’”

Looking For It (2005)
FIRST “Another fireman. That makes five.”
LAST “Mike lay his head on Thomas’s shoulder, nuzzling his neck. ‘And some of us are lucky enough to find it,’ he said.”

Full Circle (2005)
FIRST “Ned, it’s Jack.”
LAST “And although some will doubtless be disappointed when no clear answer arises to give them comfort, those who look carefully will find that I the search – in the questioning and wondering and raging – there is beauty beyond reckoning.”

Changing Tides (2007)
FIRST “As Ben Ransome descended through the water, he had the feeling, as he always did, that he was entering a cathedral.”
LAST “Knowing this, he opened his eyes and looked into the strong, bright face of his future.”

The Road Home (2010)
FIRST “Burke couldn’t remember the rest. It was something about peace and singing.”
LAST “’I am home,’ he said.”

Bonus: The cover artist on most of his books published by Kensington Books was the renowned Canadian gay artist Steve Walker.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: “Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? A Memoir”

Kenneth Walsh’s first book, “Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? A Memoir," is his coming out story and coming of age in the 1980’s and 90’s. It is a fascinating bumpy ride from Detroit to Phoenix to Los Angeles to Washington, DC to finally his sought after magical dream residence and career in New York City.  Kenneth is a NYC blogger that I have been following shortly after he began his blog, Kenneth in the (212) in 2005.

These kind of true stories I find interesting. Not only did I come out much later in life, it took me a long time to figure out my sexual nature. I also came out in the early 2000’s when it was much more accepted. Kenny knew his life was destined to be different from watching “Family Affair” reruns as a young kid. There was a glamorous city life available for someone willing to make a journey.
“As I grew up, I continued to plot my move to the Big Apple. Family Affair reruns gave way to Woody Allen movies (all those glamorous neurotics in those huge apartments!). The Goodbye Girl (even struggling creative types could do it!), and Desperately Seeking Susan (that’s where New Wavers like me live!).”
And what a journey he tells: several young dysfunctional relationships, a porn star roommate, mistaken celebrity doppelgängers, a morbid curiosity for unsolved crime stories, and penchant for New Wave music and style.

In the 80’s and 90’s it was still a hard time for a young guy to come out to himself, family and friends. There still were not a lot of positive portrays in the media. The AIDS crisis fueled fear, prejudice and suspicion both in the gay community and in society in general.

Kenneth describes one of the traumatic events I can relate to when he was 9 years old. Kate Jackson was on The Tonight Show to promote her new film “Making Love.” It’s “a love story about a married man who has an affair…with another man.” The audience loudly boos when Kate says it deals with homosexuality.
“What had started as somewhat typical “embarrassing” teenage moments—when parents’ friends would ask if you “like girls yet” or “have a girlfriend”—turned into crippling anxiety after seeing that hostile reaction to homosexuality on Johnny Carson. Instead of brushing off such inquiries, which plague plenty of socially awkward straight kids as well, I began to avoid all situations that could lead down this path. My self-doubt and increasing sense of worthlessness—the whole nation would turn hostile and boo me if they knew who I really was—became who I was.”
Kenneth’s memoir is a reflection of gay culture of the time, 1980s through 2000s. It is all there: critical intelligence and aesthetic insight, cattiness, melodrama, poignant self-awareness, adoration of female icons, and obsession with mothers. I look forward to future works by Kenneth Walsh.

Bonus: YouTube video of Kate Jackson on The Tonight Show (1982). At the 8 minute mark is where she talks about the movie.

Monday, March 31, 2014

My Eulogy for My Mother

I want to share with you today a journey I have taken for the past 63 years with my Mother, Evelyn Lois Doughty Reynolds.  This journey is full of stories that, in some cases, are only my stories; but also my journey certainly includes scenes many of those who knew her as sis, Nana, Aunt, or just Lois will readily recognize.  I know my brother Mike has stories of a journey with her that are very different from mine, partly because he is eight years younger than I and mostly because for the past 45 years, he has lived in the same small town and supported his Mom while I have been far away and absent, save occasional, short visits.  And let me add, for all those years of being her near-by, go-to source of help and support, I will be eternally grateful to Mike.

Whether you knew my Mother deeply or just peripherally, you must know that hers was often a difficult and sometimes even unhappy life.  Over fifty years of chronic illnesses, at least two-plus years of her life spent in hospital beds, and probably one-third or more of her life spent in daily pain of varying amounts took a toll on her and on any one around her.  On top of that, she was handed a divorce after 37 years of a rocky, yet still important-to-her marriage and then faced 25 more years of living alone and in some bitterness that never totally dissipated.

From my own observations and confirmed by her sister Kathy, Mother was always a sweet, shy, and very introverted person, Many of us know that as she grew older, she became almost a hermit -- both due to her declining health and to her unwillingness to reach out and create new friendships as valued, older ones disappeared.  My sense is that for most of her life, she was a person who built up expectations and dreams in her mind that all too often did not come true, leading to much disappointment, self-doubt, depression, and sometimes even deep anger that lashed out its ugly head at those she loved most.  My Mother created pictures of what relationships should be, be it with her husband, her sons, her sisters, her friends, and later, even her grandchildren; and when the realities could never meet those internally-created dreams, she sometimes and again increasingly felt betrayed by life.

I tell (and/or remind) you all of this in order to put some perspective on aspects of my Mom that some of you may have experienced but not totally understood as she got more and more sick and isolated in the past number of years.  I also say these words aloud to you today in order personally to let go of those aspects of my Mom.  I want to put these away in a sealed envelope where they will not be my everyday memory of her.  In the past six weeks since her death, I have realized that this is not the Mom I want to remember the rest of my life.  Rather, I want now to tell you about whom I will always remember and miss and appreciate.

The Mother I will remember is the person who was my best friend during all my growing up years.  Until I was twelve, she was active, vibrant, usually happy, and mostly healthy; and she was central to every day of my then life.  She was whom when I came home every day after school listened seemingly enthralled as I told almost every minute of my day at school, as I sang every new song learned, and as I retold in great detail and aplomb stories we had read or heard read that day – all done as I sat in the kitchen on a stool while she cooked dinner.  That rotating seat on the stool must have made a million revolutions over the years as I recounted the events of my life to my biggest fan and did so all the way through high school.

From my mom in those years, I learned to be much of who I am today.  My love of reading and books came because she early on she not only read to me for hours, but also introduced me to our public library. She also liked my reading to her as she cooked and worked or later, as she spent sometimes weeks in bed like the three months she was bed-bound while pregnant with my brother.  My diligence to schoolwork and subsequent straight A’s were fostered because she had the patience and willingness to drill me on my spelling words, my times tables, and later, my history facts, the periodic table symbols, and even the Latin vocabulary to be learned.  My love of board games came directly from all the time the two of us played games (most of which I somehow always seemed to win) – a passion my sons will pass to their someday kids.  I picked up a desire to create table settings and to entertain from a Mom who let me take the Scotts, embossed napkins and then to use Crayolas to outline and enhance in wonderful, loud colors those napkins – all of which she would proudly use at family gatherings and celebrations.  I learned countless kitchen tricks and methods by just watching her in all those hours I spent with her in the kitchen (where I always studied up until I left home), all of which inform my love and techniques of cooking today.

Mother was always making things with her hands and could have in another life been a crafts artist by profession with the proper training.  Her skills of decoupage, shadow boxes, sewing, flower arranging, cake decorating, etc. etc., continued and increased for many decades.  Our many joint projects at the kitchen table imbued me with a fondness (if not actual skills) for drawing, arranging flowers, and even creating table decorations for a bar mitzvah or 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

My willingness to make the best out of whatever came my way I think goes back to my having more and more to pick up at the age of barely eight the everyday house chores like cleaning toilets and tubs, ironing all our clothes, and even fixing some of our meals while my Mom was bed-ridden during pregnancy.  But she often at that time made it an adventure for me as she would lie on the couch or bed or sit weakly at the kitchen table and talk to me about everything as I did the grown-up chores – school, world events, the latest thing I had read.  And even my innate ability to design meetings and events for my clients (or for ten years of Cub Scout den and pack meetings) has to go back to our co-creating elaborate parties that I would put on for youth groups at our church – events we would plan for weeks such as a TV game party (think homemade Jeopardy board with all the categories and questions or Password clues or Match Game set ups) or an elaborate Haunted House that we did in our church basement that I am sure the Southern Baptist minister was a bit shocked when he went through, guided by me as a Dracula in full costume and make-up made by my Mom.

But what I really owe to my Mom in terms of who I am today is due to all the many battles she bravely fought on my behalf, year in and year out.  Examples started early in my life.

I loved to play house as a young boy of four.  All I wanted was a set of my own dishes.  My mother gave me a box of old ones from her own kitchen, but I wanted so badly one of the boxed, beautifully colored toy sets from Woolworths.  I got such a set under the tree one December.  My father, not unlike many 1950s fathers would have done, threw a fit and said they had to go back.  As I wondered why and how Santa would do such a thing as come back for them, I left the room in tears (something that I did many times for the next dozen years in such situations) with the tension very high in the room.  The raised voices and slamming door scared me at the time; but in the end, I got to play house all I wanted.  The same happened thing happened a year or two later when I wanted (and eventually got) paper dolls (think Blondie & Dagwood and Archie comic characters).

And then there was the year I decided to take all our previous year’s Christmas cards and cut them out to create decorations that I hung all around my room and on bedroom door  -- complete with tinsel and icicles.  When I heard them being ripped down as my father proclaimed that they looked ridiculous and what would guests coming over that night think, I was devastated.  I had thought the room was beautiful.  The next day, my Mother spent hours while I was at school creating new decorations and then had them up and waiting when I got home.  Those never came down, and she and I created even gaudier decorations together for several more years to come.

And such background (and often foreground) battles continued but over issues that shaped in even more fundamental ways who I am today.  Because of my Mom’s persistence, I was able to take six years of private voice lessons in junior and high school, with the first year’s fees coming from her allotted grocery and household money.  Those lessons gave me the training and confidence to sing solos and to be in various ensembles in many venues around our town in my high school years as well as to learn to sight sing and led to many choir and choral memberships up through today.  It took two years, but finally by the eighth grade I got a clarinet and was able to take band lessons.  Two years later, I was first-chair in our high school band.  Repeat the same story for the speech and debate club, for the Thespians, for being able to attend high school dances, for going a choir tour – the no’s were turned into reluctant acquiescence because of a Mother who wanted her son to have every opportunity he could to be who he wanted to be.

The ultimate was a major battle that went on for weeks concerning where I would go to college.  My desire to go to a large campus on the other side of the state rather than to live at home and commute to a near-by school was accomplished because I had an advocate who put time and again everything on the line in a relationship where she was overall powerless.  She gave up possible victories for herself to be sure I got some very important to me.  Going to the University of Tennessee and its campus that was three times the size of my hometown opened up many new worlds for me beyond just the academic aspects and enabled my to find my voice, to be a leader, and to walk through new doors.  I now know all of these things happened for me because of a Mother who was not sure why these things were so important to me but who wanted to be sure that I had a chance to see where they would lead me.

So much of who I am today and what I like to do today I can now see trace either to experiences I had one-on-one with my Mom as a young boy or to interventions where she prevailed against huge odds.  My love to cook, to entertain, to sing, to design and to plan -- all come from her.

But also I am sure other aspects so core to me came from her because I wanted to live some of the dreams she could not.  I have extreme optimism; many might say I am a Pollyanna.  I have learned never to let adversity to stop me from living every day to its fullest and even to push my (and others’) boundaries to be sure that is so.  My strong desire to travel, to have adventure, to see live theatre, to do new things -- I believe these are so core to me because I wanted to do so many of the things my Mother always told me she wanted to do and which we would often fantasize about doing.  And I think she encouraged and nourished early on those very qualities and dreams in me because at some level, she wanted to be sure I did live that life that she was only able to imagine and dream about.

So, my now-long story gives you a flavor of whom I am remembering today and will be remembering tomorrow and beyond.  I see today that younger, smiling, high energy and often mildly devious scheming partner and close companion who sent me off each morning with hugs and a promise to remember everything that happened and to tell her all of it when I next saw her.

And from this day on, I am going to remember my Mom as Evelyn Lois Doughty, period.  She was so proud of her Doughty heritage and loved so much her parents and her sisters.  I carry a lot of that Irish Doughty in me:  the reddish hair, light and freckled skin, the ugly ‘Doughty knees,’ and as Joyce and Ed (and others) can attest, the Doughty stubbornness.  Her father has always been my male role model.  Her mother was my teenage confidant (and my fiercest Scrabble rival).  Her sisters and their families were the sources of many, happiest childhood memories; and my Aunt Kathy has been a second Mom for me all my adult life.  The Reynolds part of my Mom’s being brought her the sons she always adored and eventually the grandchildren she worshipped, but I am going to remember and honor the Doughty side that really made me who I am today.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It is springtime

It is the first day of spring here on the university campus in Palo Alto, California. It is a warm sunny day… ideal to sit out with you shirt off and study with your Apple Mac in your hand. After all, it is winter quarter finals week.
Networking in the Engineering Quad

Friday, March 07, 2014

First Round

Getting some "folfox" chemotherapy.
I have just about finished my first round of twenty-six treatments of chemotherapy (6 months).  So far, it is going OK. The side effects are relatively minor. But I hear that the constant rounds of chemo really beat down one’s system.

The hardest part was leaving the house for my appointment at the infusion clinic where the chemotherapy is administered. I was fussing around trying to gather up a bag of stuff to have while I sit in the clinic. Book, iPhone, and notebook. But I couldn’t find my earbuds and I started to lose it. Eddie came over to hug me and I burst into tears. I didn’t want to go. This was going to make the diagnosis too real: Chemotherapy for stage 4 cancer of the lungs.

Infusion bottle attached to
my chemo port.
The treatment itself wasn’t painful or uncomfortable, just long. Once I am hooked-up with all the IV tubes and bags, I set there for hours while the drugs slowly drip into me. The previous week, I had a chemo port implanted into my upper chest. The nurse just taps into that instead of a traditional IV setup in my arm. At the end of my session, the nurse changes the IV drip bags for a chemotherapy infusion bottle. I stay attached to it for 3 days of constant drip.

My husband’s comments about my progress and status so far:
Ed is in now Day 10 of his first 14-day chemo cycle.  He received the drugs in Days 1-3.  So far this first round, the side effects have been fairly minimal.  He has only had a few minor waves of nausea that quickly go away with a couple of Saltines and a anti-nausea pill.  His hands are very susceptible to cold, so he cannot put his hands into a refrigerator without gloves on and even wears them when he is feeling a bit cool around the house.  

He cannot drink or eat anything really cold because it would feel like glass going down his throat.  He can eat nothing that is not cooked unless it has been something that was peeled.  (So, no salads, raw veggies, berries or grapes, sushi, rare or undercooked meats or seafood, e.g.)  That is because of the risk of contamination when his white blood count is down from the chemo.  In addition, I have been giving him a shot each night to fight the deterioration of white blood cells.

But, he is working every day, even starting on Day 2.  He is now walking to work (2 miles each way), and we just went for a 3-mile run today on our local Baylands park trail.

Next round starts next Thursday.  This will go on at least through August.  We are pretty sure (based on reports from others) that some side effects and feelings of being tired my increase in later rounds, but we will just have to wait and see.

We plan to still do our theatre, ballet, etc. as much as possible.  He will just wear a mask when in big crowds. (We are looking around now for the sexiest, most fashionable one, LOL.)

So that's the update.  Every day at this point is a bit anticipatory to see what happens next (or not).  He goes up and down in moods, but I am doing all I can to keep him focused on normalcy and on being positive.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

An unwelcomed sequel

My husband posted the following message on Facebook and emailed this notice to other friends.  He and I have written often on GuyDads about my previous battle with cancer. 
It has been a challenging start of the new year for us. At the beginning of the week, Eddie’s mom passed on after a long illness. Meanwhile, for the past two months, I have been having on going tests, procedures and doctor appointments. Unfortunately, very few of them resulted in good news. 

Dear Friends:

It is with heavy heart but still with much hope that Ed & I want to report a new development in his health situation.

Bottom-line: Ed's cancer is back.

The original colorectal cancer from four years ago, which we thought and hoped was totally gone, has in fact metastasized. We discovered something might be awry through the every-six-month blood tests he has been getting since he first got cancer. The latest numbers in December had exponentially increased from the previous June, leading to a P.E.T. scan and the discovery of nodules on both his lungs. This test led to two different, one-day biopsy sessions and a diagnosis of there being cancer cells among the nodules. Think of the nodules as small (largest is about .9 cm), numerous, and scattered between both lungs.

Even though the present nodules on both his lungs are very small, the fact they are metastasized from his original colorectal cancer means this is Stage 4 cancer and means he now enters into a stage of life where ongoing periods of chemotherapy will be the "new normal" (i.e., forever) -- with a hope that the drugs work, of course, along the way to give him periods of no chemo.

This first regime of chemotherapy (3 days at a time, every two weeks) will last at least 6 months, maybe 12. (Day one is on site. Days two and three will be an automatic drip system that he can use and carry on life as normal.) There are possibilities that other, more targeted drugs may be used, but that is not clear at this point if they are applicable to his kind of cancer.

As long as and when he feels like it, the doctor says he can continue things like jogging/walking, going to theatre/ballet/opera, etc. Most likely, it seems, the weeks he receives the treatments he will want to back off from much activity. The interim weeks, he hopefully will be better able to do more things. Short trips (even a week at a time) will be possible in between treatments; long trips (like our usual month in Europe in the summer) are out this year at least and during periods when he has chemo.

We are told each case is unique, and we are going to try not to look at the survival statistics (which of course we have already seen). We are going to be focused on healing and on enjoying each and every day along the way to its fullest (which, as you well know, has been our mantra all along).

We do believe in the power of community (global) and in the power of all good thoughts, prayers, drumming, toasts over dinner, etc. So, friends, go to it. Keep it up. We will do the same, if G-d forbid, you should require the same.

With much gratitude to have so many wonderful friends,

Eddie & Ed

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mom's passing

This has been a very trying week for us. There has been a numerous family and health challenges. Eddie’s birthday was on Monday, February 10th. The day began with the phone call from his brother telling of his mom’s passing a few hours earlier. His mom, Lois, had been seriously ill for the last couple months. We knew her time was not long and she was likely to pass on at anytime. The last several weeks she has been on hospice care. 
Fortunately, we were able to spend some time with her over the Thanksgiving holiday. During this time, she was still aware of the people around her and her surroundings. 
Dying on a relative’s birthday has been somewhat a family trait. Lois’s mother died on her birthday. And there have been several other instances of the phenomenon in the last couple of generations. 
Eddie wrote this beautiful, sweet obituary notice of his mother for local publication in Paris, Tennessee. 

Long-time Paris resident Lois Doughty Reynolds passed away on February 10, 2014 after a prolonged illness.  A silent partner in Furniture Exchange, Co. with her son and store manager Mike, Ms. Reynolds died at the age of 83 after enduring over fifty years of severe asthma and increasingly multiple other maladies.  
Born on December 5, 1930 in what was known as “Graystown” (a rural community now at the bottom of Kentucky Lake), Ms. Reynolds grew up in a loving, very close family of three daughters, her mother (former teacher/then homemaker, the late Cozie Futrell Doughty) and her father (a L&N Railroad worker, the late Elbert S. Doughty).  Her family moved often (Louisville, Puryear, Paris, Henry), with she and her sisters attending several schools along the way.  She graduated from Henry High School in 1948 and then began studying to be a Registered Nurse at the then Nobles Hospital of Paris.  Near the end of her preparation, she met and married the late Edward L. Reynolds, to whom she was married for 37 years.
While she was sick off and on her entire adult life and probably spent in total over two years of her life in the hospitals of Paris, Jackson, Nashville, and Memphis, Ms. Reynolds still found time to develop many interests and skills.  She was an outstanding cook and known for her decorated, four-layer cakes; her decadent fudge and brownies; and especially for her vanilla/chocolate pinwheel cookies.  She loved setting elaborate tables for entertaining her family at holidays; and the Super Bowl parties she hosted for her son Mike and his friends are still renowned.  She was also skilled in many decorative arts (decoupage, flower-arranging, shadow-box creations, etc.) as well as creative sewing of kids’ and grandkids’ Halloween/party costumes.  
The key joys of Ms. Reynolds’ life were her sons Eddie & Mike and their families.  Her life was often centered in making their lives the best she could.  Nothing gave her more happiness as her grandkids were growing up than to spend hours working puzzles, playing games, looking at photo albums, or cooking together.
Ms. Reynolds is survived by her two sons and their families: Mike of Paris and son Matt of Murfreesburo and daughter Katie of Paris; Eddie and his husband Ed of Palo Alto, CA and sons Joshua, Eli, and Jonathan, all of the San Francisco Bay Area, CA.  She is also survived by her sister Kathy and her husband Tom of Pinole, CA as well by many wonderful nieces and nephews of Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and California.
She was also preceded in death by a sister Edna Lee Tapp.  
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in memory of Ms. Reynolds.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hump Day

From the 2011 SFB production
Wednesdays are usually referred to as “hump day” but this last Tuesday evening (1/28/2014) it was Hump Day on stage at the San Francisco Ballet. The company was performing the classically romantic story ballet, “Giselle.” This tragic dance of seduction and betrayal is about a peasant girl named Giselle who dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover is betrothed to another. The Wilis, a group of supernatural women who dance men to death, summon Giselle from her grave. They target her lover for death, but Giselle's love frees him from their grasp. Overall, the performance was just about as perfect as one could imagine.

EXCEPT >>> Halfway through the first act, a hunting party of noblemen and women arrive on stage seeking refreshments and entertainment. The group includes the betrothed princess, Bathilde, the female rival to Giselle. Bathilde enters with two beautiful, full-size white Russian Wolfhounds (or Borzois).

As she sits down amidst a stage full of dancers, villagers and the royal entourage, one dog mounts the other and starts to VIGOROUSLY humping it.  All focus is now on the dog-on-dog action. The orchestra begins playing some 'pause' music. The stage full of dancers and actors are doing all they can to 1) not lose character and roll on stage in laughter, 2) get the dogs apart, and then 3) finally drag the still-humping dogs off stage. The audience members, in the meantime, were rolling in the aisles in laughter. What a scene to be remembered!

Three year-old twin Borzois, Roman and Genesis.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Word of the Day

I learned a new word for an old term. It is a $10 medical expression for fainting.
Vasovagal. \ˌvā-zō-ˈvā-gəl\

I never heard this before. But I sure heard a lot of it during my last medical procedure. That is because I fainted half way through a diagnostic procedure. I was having a lung needle biopsy done. I am being tested to see if I have developed lung cancer.

My husband heard of my vasovagal episode while sitting in the waiting room. He heard the hospital speaker announcement of “Code Blue in CT room.” [Code Blue is generally used to indicate a patient requiring resuscitation or otherwise in need of immediate medical attention.] The emergency code was quickly cancelled. Hubby said he wasn't worried or too concerned. He just assumed it was just me fainting again.

Needles have always troubled me. Ever since I can remember I have swooned and passed out when confronted with them. I have fainted in the doctor's office, dentist chair, blood lab, etc. Over time I have acclimated to most needle usage. I no longer have a “vasovagal episode” with injections, blood work or IVs. But a needle through the chest did me in this time.

According to Wikipedia: A vasovagal episode or vasovagal response or vasovagal attack is a malaise mediated by the vagus nerve. When it leads to syncope or "fainting", it is called a vasovagal syncope, which is the most common type of fainting.
Some typical triggers for vasovagal episodes that work on me:

  • The sight of blood or blood drawing (a big one for me. I always avoid looking.)
  • Any painful or unpleasant stimuli, such as watching or experiencing medical procedures 
  • Stress (Needles stress me!)
  • Sudden onset of extreme emotions
  • Lack of sleep 
  • Dehydration (can be triggered by fasting that the procedure requires.)
  • Hunger (also result of fasting.)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Another Year, Another Birthday

It may be cold outside, but I am going to celebrate with my shirt off. And so will several other guys that share my birthday on January 9.

1913 Richard Nixon, was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974, when he became the only president to resign the office. Nixon had previously served as a Republican U.S. Representative and Senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. Have you checked out last year's post about Tricky Dick's secret love?

1915 Fernando Lamas, a film, TV actor and director from Argentina. Father of Lorenzo Lamas. Was married to Esther Williams. He was the inspiration for Billy Crystal’s “Fernando” character on Saturday Night Live ("You look marvelous!") and the Dos Equis Beer's “Most Interesting Man in the World” character.

1925 Lee Van Cleef, a film actor who appeared mostly in Westerns and action pictures. His best know rolls include: Kansas City Confidential, High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

1935 Bob Denver, comedic actor known for his roles as Gilligan on the TV series Gilligan's Island and the beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on the TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

1944 Jimmy Page, an English musician, songwriter and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist and leader of the rock band Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin are widely considered one of the most successful, innovative and influential rock groups in history.

1950 David Johansen (pictured with singer Morrissey), a singer, songwriter and actor. He is best known as a member of the seminal protopunk band The New York Dolls. He is also known for his work under the pseudonym Buster Poindexter.

1967 Dave Matthews, a singer-songwriter, musician and actor, best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band. During the period from 2000 to 2010, his band sold more tickets and earned more money than any other act in North America.

1967 Steve Harwell, the lead vocalist and a songwriter for the band Smash Mouth. The band is known for such songs as "Walkin' on the Sun" and "All Star" as well as covering of popular songs such as The Monkees' "I'm a Believer".

1978 A.J. McLean, a singer, songwriter, actor and a member of the boy band, Backstreet Boys. The Backstreet Boys have sold over 130 million records worldwide, making them the best-selling boy band in history, and one of the world's best-selling music artists.

To be fair, here are several GPOY shots of me hiking or running on recent vacations.

Florida 2012
Canada 2012
France 2013
Scotland 2011

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The golden fruit of hospitality: Pineapple Point

The front gate of Pineapple Point
What an amazing two week holiday we had at Pineapple Point Guesthouse & Resort and in Fort Lauderdale area during our annual visit. Usually when we travel, we have a full agenda of cultural, tourist and physical activities such as hiking and biking. But our Florida vacation is always centered on socializing with several dozen friends and hanging around the resort.

We went to 6 great parties with old & new friends;
Went out to 10 dinners and lunches with long-term, local friends;
Noshed at the nightly wine & cheese social gatherings at the resort pool;
Partook in a huge Christmas Day feast catered around the pool,
Attended 4 current movies at the nearby Gateway Theater (Philomena, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, and Nebraska);
Read at least 3 books each while sitting around the pool;
Went out dancing twice in Wilton Manors;
And wandered around the Las Olas Art Fair.
In addition, we ran 5.5 miles to and on the beach for at least 10 of the days we were there.
Hmmm, for a relaxing two weeks, we still did a lot!

We are sending lots of love and hugs to all our Ft. Lauderdale friends, all the dear friends who (like us) come year after year to Pineapple Point, and to all the staff at the resort who are there every December to welcome us back like long-lost relatives.

How can we wait until December 2014?

BTW, I learned something new about pineapples:
In the Caribbean, Europe and North America, the pineapple became associated with the return of ships from extended voyages, and an emblem of welcome and hospitality that made its way into contemporary art. The fruit came to symbolize the high spirits of social events; the image of the pineapple expressed the sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection inherent to such gracious gatherings.

Local movie theatre

Our room at Pineapple Point

Christmas tree in the breakfast sun room

Lunch around the pool Christmas day

Ed dancing at Village Pub in Wilton Manors

Eddie dancing at Village Pub

Holiday decorations in nearby Wilton Manors

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