Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Das Hounds

Readers from my last blog may remember I was sharing my domicile with various critters, two of which were dogs. Elder and Younger Hounds shed their fur in my home for over 16 years, and I consider myself blessed to be loved by such silly dogs.

Elder Hound came to us when my daughter, Spawn, turned 10. She’s turning 28 on her next birthday. That crazy canine wreaked such havoc in her puppy-hood, more than once I threatened to give her to the next door-to-door evangelist. She tormented our big dog until said big dog dished the trouble right back and nearly broke the puppy in the process. Later, Elder Hound (who was still the younger dog) escaped the yard and got hit by a car.

She was fine, but the car had a nasty dent in it.

When her older sister, Big Dog, was struck and killed by a car in 2001, I was devastated and vowed to never get another dog.

Three weeks later, Spawn told me of a poor beast who was on her third family and they had grown weary of her and were going to have her put down.

I was incensed. So incensed, I brought her home the next day.

Once Younger Hound discovered we were good people, she blossomed into an energetic bundle of goofiness that was hard to keep up with on a daily basis. We always joked that the two dogs would leave us in very different ways: Elder Hound would probably sleep her way across the Rainbow Bridge, and Younger Hound would most likely keel over, years later, in the middle of a wild romp around the back yard.

Elder Hound developed a strange lump that was proven to be a benign mass of fatty tissue. It didn’t bother her, and we didn’t worry about it. When Younger Hound developed the same thing, we didn’t worry either.

Fast forward a year and Younger Hound was starting to slow down. Not too surprising, since she was standing on the threshold of being 16 years old. I attributed a lot of her decline to age and the big changes in our lives, especially since her boy, Thing, had moved away.

Both dogs were moving slower, in fact, neither of them did much once the dinner hour was over. Getting Either dog to move was a difficult undertaking, because they were both mostly deaf. Sometimes the only thing that could get Elder Hound off the couch was Younger Hound’s piercing bark.

Then one night I heard a thump and a whimper. When I went to check, I found Younger Hound had collapsed on the floor and could not move. Thinking she was going to leave us, I spent most of that night on the floor next to her, but when I went to check on her in the morning, she was still with us. She wasn’t doing well, but she was still there.

I called Thing and Spawn, telling them it was time to come say good-bye. It was a sad time, and I felt so helpless. Finally, I could no longer wait for her to pass on her own and the next day, I took her to the vet to be put down.

I’ve never had to do anything like that before, and had no idea what to expect. The vet was so gentle and caring to both of us. He explained what to expect, and he was right. Nothing was a surprise. Heartbreaking, yes, but not surprising. Afterward, he said we (Tam and I) could stay with Younger Hound for as long as we wanted, then he left us alone.

It took a long time to stop thinking I was hearing her wander around the house. I missed the way she would keep her older “sister” from getting too lost in the back yard, by herding her toward the door when it was opened. I had her cremated, and her cremains returned. They came back in a lovely wooden box with a brass plaque on the lid with her name misspelled. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and cried for days whenever I saw it.

Elder Hound misses her sister. Even though she sleeps 22 – 23 hours a day, she’s still very much a big part of our family, and is still spoiled rotten. But I see a marked difference on a weekly basis, and the dog who never missed a meal in her younger days, has slept through more than one.

I keep thinking I’ll wake up one morning and it will all be over. Tam will be the one to find her, because she’s the first one into the living room for her morning smoke. Neither of us is relishing that day, but you know, I can rest assured that I did my best to make those dogs’ lives as good and happy as possible.

Just as they have done for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It’s Not Because You’re Gay…

The minute I hear the words, “it’s not because you’re…” I know it’s EXACTLY because I’m whatever they don’t like, be it gay, fat, short, 50, divorced, whatever.

“It’s not because you’re gay.” My mother said those words to me not long ago after asking if I could stay with my father for a few days while she went visiting. My father has a tendency to fall and getting up is quite difficult for him. Personally, I think he’s not falling so much as he is throwing himself over the steep edge of their property so my mother doesn’t catch him smoking.

Anyway, she asked if I could venture down to their place to take care of my dad while she’s gone and I said, “we’d love to.”

“Tam and I.”

That’s about the time the stammering began accompanied by a lot of hemming and hawing.

“I thought you’d be coming alone.”
“No. Tam and I can stay in the camp trailer. We’ll be fine.”
There was a long pause before my mother said, “ I’ll have to get back to you on this. I’m just not sure it’s a good idea for Tam to be down here with you. It’s not because you’re, um, you know, gay…”

Oh. Really?

Her excuse came a few days later when she called back and explained that she was afraid I’d be too busy paying attention to Tam than I would be to my father. While that made some sense to me, I was annoyed that she was treating me like an infatuated teenager, rather than her adult daughter. Her gay adult daughter.

I reminded her that there was no way she would have said anything of this nature to me if I was still married to my ex. But, the clincher was when I said, “Besides, there is no way I can lift Dad by myself if he throws himself over the edge of the property again. I’ll need help getting him back up to the house. If Tam and I can’t lift him, then one of us can go for help while the other stays with Dad.”

My logic. It was awesome.

But it also brings me to the latest issue of Nasty Neighbor. She never caused so much trouble when my ex was still there. Not that she was a stellar individual at that time. I mean, this is a woman who yelled at my boys when they were little. Why? Well, they left May baskets on her porch, and she came running out of her house yelling that there was a possum living under the quince bush in our side yard. Evidently, she was under the impression that my five and seven-year-old boys were in charge of landscaping the yard. Bitch never even thanked them for the flowers.

So, she’s never been terribly nice, nor has she made a good impression on most of the folks living around her. My parents owned the house where I’m currently living and Nasty Neighbor was there then, too. At one point, NN’s husband came out to talk to my mother and he apologized for his wife’s behavior, stating something like, “she’s going through the change, you know.”

But she never called the city on my ex and I, even though the yard looks pretty much the same as it does now. The difference is, I’m gay and she knows it. And it bothers her. Not enough to confront us directly, but rather by nasty notes left on our front door regarding the condition of our yard, then calling the city despite the fact that we’d been cleaning up “the mess” per her request.

Do I really believe it’s not because we’re gay?

Not for one damn minute.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Wasn't Going To...

I wasn't going to post today. In fact, to be totally honest with you, the day kind of came sneaking up on me; not quite clicking in my brain with the significance of the date.

Please don't think I don't remember, or that I have no respect for the dead, because believe me, I do remember and a part of me mourns for those who were taken from us that day.

And I mourn for those who have been taken from us in the name of that day ever since. Because, when you think about it, there are those who keep feeding that day as though it was a ravenous monster demanding human sacrifice.

It isn't. It's just a day, a date on a calendar. It’s a day when people are married, or are having children, or who are going out to celebrate something wonderful. These things keep happening on this date. The date demands no sacrifice.

There is nothing wrong with honoring those who were taken, by giving today a moment of silence, but don't give it any blood.

Or flames.

Or rage.

The time of rage is over. We can still be hurt and angry at the small group of people that changed the world, but we needn't rage. We need to remember that the whole world felt our pain that day, we weren't the only ones plunged into chaos.

We aren't the only ones who lost.

We aren't the only ones left, either.

Time did not stop. Life did not stop. They both keep moving along and they're not waiting for us to finally climb out of our bed of ashes and move along with them, they have things to do and places to go. So do we.

We have a world that needs peace. We have a planet that needs nurturing. We have children who need love. Love and a safe place to live.

I'm wiping the blood off my calendar. I'm going to move forward as best I can with the memories of this day, but I will not wear them like a ball and chain. I will honor it, and those who were lost, with a moment of silence, then I will move on and try to make some part of today a little bit better.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Summer’s End

Vacation has drawn to a close and I view its demise with mixed feelings. It’s been grand having summer off, being able to relax (ha!) and get lots of things accomplished (ha! Hahahahaha!). But there have been moments when I’ve realized that I kind of miss my job and the kids and stuff to do that gives me a paycheck. It’s not like I don’t have anything to do at home, it’s just home doesn’t write the checks, it just hands out the bills.


This year will be a little different at work. I’ll be teaching reading to groups of three students instead of working one-on-one. It’s not that the student I worked with last year no longer needs a 1:1, we just don’t have the staff.

As for home, well, we still have lots to do, after all, Tam still hasn’t finished unpacking yet (of course, I’m still finding boxes that were never unloaded after my ex and I moved into the house, so I guess there’s no real rush). And there’s yard work, thanks to a nasty neighbor. Ok, the yard work has always been there, but it’s something that we’ve worked on at our own pace (between jobs and other things that need our attention). But, nasty neighbor decided she doesn’t like us and called the code enforcement guys out to tell us to trim some shrubbery and tidy up the side yard.

That’s about the time we learned that nasty neighbor attached some birdfeeders to OUR fence (without permission). I’m thinking Nasty Neighbor is going to find her birdfeeders difficult to fill. Hell, she’s going to have to find them first. Oh, they’ll still be on her property (I’m not a thief), but they’ll be on her roof. Or under her car. Better still, I’ll just give them the old heave ho into the middle of her back yard. That way, I can return her things without trespassing on her property. See? I can be very considerate when I need to be.


It’s probably a good thing summer is winding down and work will start up again. I’ll be too tired to cause trouble.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My life and my partner. After much deliberation and discussion, it’s been decided that my darling would like me to use her name on the blog. “After all,” she said, “we’re partners, shouldn’t partners use their real names?”

I reminded her that I never mentioned my ex-husband’s name on my old blog. Or my children’s real names, for that matter. Hell, I never even called our pets by their “real” names. I was kind of into, um, privacy to a certain extent.

Anyway, despite my reminding her of these facts, she remained unfazed.

So, in the spirit of blogginess and joy, I’d like to introduce you to Tam, my best friend, partner, kitchen queen, and all around awesome gal.

Tam and I have known each other since grade school. I still wonder why it took us so damn long to figure out we were meant to be together. She says it’s because we both had things to do, like large chunks of our lives to mess up, children to raise, and men to divorce.

While I was married, Tam and I would spend lots of time together, grocery shopping, mall crawling, and otherwise just enjoying each other’s company. After all, we’ve been best buds for…forever. She was one of the first to witness me coming out of the closet. Her response to that little piece of information was, “Yeah, I know.”

Evidently, the gay person is always the last to know they’re gay. Awesome.

We were both still married and remained that way for a few more years, then things began to fall apart for her and I continued to hold fast to my familiar lifestyle. Or rather my familiar “lie-style.” We supported each other as best friends do, through thick and thin with a few falling outs tossed in for good measure. After all, we’re both human and women with many emotions, so there is no such thing as smooth sailing.

Besides, I was having some very strong feelings that were getting harder and harder to ignore. At one point, I’d decided to throw caution to the wind and confess my love to her. It didn’t quite work out as planned: I never got to tell her and we ended up having a rather nasty fight that led to me cutting short a vacation.

But, I did eventually tell her, and she finally admitted that she felt the same toward me. It was a very difficult time, because I had to decide if I wanted to remain in the safety of a “normal” life, or give it all up to be with the woman I love.

It was an agonizing decision, for I wasn’t leaving an abusive mate, or one who had treated me particularly bad. He isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but considering how horrible my first husband was, he is a gem. But I could feel myself longing for something that he could not give me, something I desperately wanted and needed in my life. I was afraid that we would become bitter and resentful toward each other. He knew I was gay, although when I came out to him ten years earlier, I said I was bi-sexual because I thought it would go over better. He told me I was going to go to hell. Yay, thanks.

My husband moved out and Tam moved in about a month later. We muddled through the usual stuff, dealt with unpleasantries, and both of us grew during that time. It wasn’t easy, but during that time, I’ve learned that I can live with much less than I thought I could, I am stronger than I thought I was, and I love more than I ever thought possible.

And…I am loved in return, and in such a way that it feels right. That good man I divorced couldn’t show affection, he was embarrassed by my appearance (I’m a rather large woman), and my lack of formal education bored him to distraction.

Tam accepts me as the large, uneducated woman that I am, and will even hold my hand in public (unless it’s scary public where we run the risk of putting ourselves in danger of verbal or physical harassment). We are cautious, but open. I am not an embarrassment to her.

Being gay in a small city like the one where we live is not the most comfortable thing to do. But we are frequently surprised by those who accept us (and relived when others simply ignore us), and on occasion, we know we’ve given someone else hope and courage to be themselves.

It’s the young woman who seemed relieved to see us walk in, obviously a couple (but not falling all over each other). She may be questioning herself and wondering if she’s alone in our fair city. I cannot begin to tell you what it’s like to find “family” in such a place. The relief is palpable. I suspect it’s like that for anyone in a fringe area of society. Finding someone who can relate to your particular situation means you’re not the pioneer you thought you had to be, someone has already blazed a trail.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Life as a Dyke

It’s still new to me, this lifestyle that I’ve finally accepted after years of self denial. Things I never gave a second thought to, now get second, third, and fourth thoughts. Things like holding hands.

In public.

Where people, people who aren’t my family, can see us.

That simple act is one I took for granted when my ex and I were married (at least in the first years of our marriage, back when he didn’t mind being seen holding the hand of a large woman). But now, when my partner and I go to the grocery store, there is a little bit of fumbling and quick-release moments that drive me crazy.

Oh, she’s fine with the whole public displays of couple-ness, it’s me. I’m a chicken shit. I dislike confrontation. Confrontation makes me shrill and incapable of sounding like a semi-intelligent human being. When confronted by someone who is determined to share their opinions of my lifestyle, I tend to wind up sounding like a demented dolphin on crack.

Probably because I’m a total coward. It’s easier to just shriek and freak than state my feelings calmly and rationally. At least I’ve managed to control the windmilling arms effect. That was never a good thing to do to strangers who foisted their opinions on me.

Still, I’d love to be able to walk around with my sweetie and not worry that someone is going to make a scene, or worse.

It’s the “or worse” that really makes me cautious. We may live in an enlightened society for the most part, but there are some folks who just turn their backs when it comes to justice for gays. To be perfectly honest here, I’m very allergic to having the shit beat out of me for the simple reason that I am a lesbian.

Being “out” in public gives me the same sensation that I get every time I come out to someone; it’s a jittery, “how are they going to take this” kind of feeling. It never gets easier, simply because every situation is different. Every situation has the potential to go either really well, or really bad. I know some day my being an “out” lesbian is not going sit right with someone and there will be confrontation. I’m going to have to choose to walk away, spazz out, or stand my ground.

I pray to the Goddess that I will have the strength and courage to stand my ground.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Names and Other Issues

She’s whining. She wants people to come to “our” blog, but since I’ve only barely given up the old one, I’m a bit leery of going forth with the new one so quickly. What if I bomb? What if I realize (once school starts up again) that I cannot keep it going because I’m too wiped from ducking and dodging my students to write anything.

“She” is my partner, and my best friend. She’s also my oldest friend and the topic of more than one post from the old blog. There, she was known as Killer, but after much discussion, it’s been decided that things need to change, and her blog moniker is one of them.

Unfortunately, she still hasn’t decided what she wants me to call her on the blog, so for now she’ll remain nameless.

So, what brings me to this blog? How did I land here and what’s with the name?

My old life was one of plenty and ease and deep familiarity. There was also a rather strong case of complacency that kept me at odds with myself. It was hard to give up what I had, but at the same time, I knew if I didn’t, both my ex and I would probably end up bitter and resentful of me.

Personally, I didn’t like the thought of that, so I did the unthinkable and walked away from it.

I’m not going to say I never looked back, because I did on occasion, but the regrets were small and based mostly on creature comforts that I had taken for granted. Those comforts weren’t the basic necessities, rather they were the fun things like shopping, dining out, and knowing that if an appliance broke, we could get it replaced immediately. I didn’t have to worry about paying the bills, because that was my ex’s job and he was very good at it.

Now, my income is about 1/8th of what it had been while married. It goes up to ¼ if I include my partner’s share. I have to remember to pay the bills when they’re due. Hell, I have to remember just what bills ARE due every month. Yay for auto pay.

Despite all that comfort, I wasn’t happy because both my husband and I like women. We split over irreconcilable similarities not differences. Believe it or not, that is not conducive to a happy marriage.

He knew about my preferences, I had told him ten years prior to our divorce, so it wasn’t a total surprise when I told him it was time to split the sheets. It wasn’t easy for either of us, but we’ve managed to remain on good terms and as time passes, it gets easier.

Falling in love with my best friend of 40 years was a pretty easy step. She moved in shortly after he moved out, but it wasn’t because we were ready for a relationship. She needed a place to live, and I couldn’t afford to live on my own. Our friendship grew and blossomed (quickly) into something more and took its natural course, right into pandemonium.

It wasn’t easy to blend our two families. Not that the kids weren’t accepting of our relationship (although my youngest was pretty pissed off about the divorce and decided to live with his father), but the joining of two groups is generally a difficult thing and as a result there have been lots of changes.

Her older son moved in with HIS dad, my older son moved into my garage (don’t worry, we put a bed and some other “furnishings” out there). Right now, we’re calling the hot water heater “art” because it makes him feel better. The “him” in that last sentence is my son, not the hot water heater. Her younger son is living in what used to be called “the Minion Nest” and he shares that space with the cats and assorted spiders that come to visit from the attic.

The offspring all had cute little names like Middle Minion (who became Bubba), Most Minor Minion (who became Thing), Monkey Boy (a.k.a. Beans) and Li’l Red. Cute. The female offspring also had cute names like Spawn and The Hair.

There were the cats known as the Furry Beasts 1, 2, 3, and 4; the dogs I referred to as Elder and Younger Hound; and I lived in The Manor with my husband the Lord Of The Manor (a.k.a. LOTM).

My mother was known as Grande Dame of the Universe and my father was The Prince Consort (or PC)

Lots of cute names fitting for that time of my life.

Now, Bubba doesn’t want to be known as Bubba, but like my partner, we’re still not sure what to call him. It’s a tough choice; how much of my past do I bring into this blog? My past is still there, my children are clear evidence of it, so it is not something that can be ignored. Moving forward is not always easy, no matter how necessary it may have become. I’ll try to keep looking the right direction and not drag too much of “the good old days” into my world.

After all, I’ve found a love I never knew existed and despite the hardships we’ve endured through financial problems and other moments of “ohjustfuckingkillmenow” I’m happy. I want to move forward. I can look back and smile but not linger, because that road ahead has a special lane for people like me. It’s the scenic route through a whole new world.

So climb aboard and fasten your seatbelts as we take a trip in the Dyke Lane.