Thursday, July 30, 2009


I have much to talk about, but too much going on right now to sit down and get it all on the page.

Miracles are happening this week.

First, a friend sent me a note with a check. A big check. Enough to get us through this month and be OK. The note said to consider it an interest-free loan to be paid back when I am able. I read it and cried. I am so blessed to have friends who can do things like that for me.

Second, my aunt in Massachusetts sent us a check to help with some of the bills as well. The knife has been lifted.

And third, I applied for one job, and am in the process of applying for another, and then I got a call from the bus/taxi company people (remember them - we brought the bus to the hearing back in May?). She's jammed up and needs bodies in cars NOW. Like tomorrow morning, and do I have time?

No shit. What a day to be me.

It's amazing. I think we're gonna be ok.

bisy backson.

Monday, July 27, 2009

a new low

We're in tough shape, folks.

It has rained or been so humid for the past eight weeks that it makes any kind of outdoor work essentially impossible. That means aside from a single job indoors and the one where I had to refund all the money I made, I have been out of work. As a self-employed contractor, this means I have had no income. I also do not qualify for unemployment compensation.

Laura has been out of work since she got laid off by the Census Bureau and the feds and the state apparently don't like to talk or deal with each other when it comes to unemployment, so she's had nothing coming in either.

Eight weeks of rain has made us deficient in vitamin D, depressed as hell, and now we have a hard time moving. Why? Because we've been cooped up inside for so long that we are out of shape and a simple trip up a flight of stairs today was enough to set me panting for several minutes.

It is difficult to stay upbeat when we are up against it this hard. My savings account is down to almost nothing. I have less than $200 in my checking account. Rent is due Friday. Laura's car needs to have new (used, but new to us, and with some tread left) tires mounted and a tail light repaired in order to be inspected, and the old sticker ran out at the end of June. I'm pretty sure my truck needs a new catalytic converter and I need to spend some time getting rid of some rust and patching things. Only if the weather is nice enough for me to work on my truck, I feel like I should be doing something to earn money, only the things I have lined up right now need it to be substantially drier than it is.

This is frustration and angst and depression and hard times all rolled into one. We're just not sure what to do. Do we close out the savings account entirely to pay the rent? I suppose we might have to. What about next month? And then there is the phone/cable/internet/electric/etc. bills. We can't dump the cable without incurring bill weirdness to do with the phone and internet. They're all bundled together. And I do use the internet to communicate with clients. Although lately those conversations have been along the lines of "so, it's still raining and too wet to work, I'll check in next week to see if it has dried out at all..." Gah.

This is killing me.

And to top it all off, the church of my childhood (Catholic) has pledged two million dollars to help fight and repeal the law that will (would) allow Laura and I to get married. They're even closing schools and selling churches to raise cash to pay their bills and fund this important work. Asshats. Maybe if they hadn't had to pay out all those zillions of dollars to people who had been molested by priests for all those years, they might not have to be selling churches now, but still. I suppose I am glad that institution is in such a weakened condition for this fight. I'd rather fight it now than fight the church of 20 years ago before they had to start selling some of their holdings. Bleh.

So that's where I'm at, kids. Broke and nearly broken. Damp, dank, depressed and discouraged. We have some food because we bought in bulk a couple weeks ago when some things were on sale, so our grocery bill will be pretty light for a little while anyway. But this is grim stuff to say the least.

Any ideas would be appreciated. If anyone has a line on whoever is in charge of the weather, I'd love it if you could call in a favor and get me a few nice weeks. You'd think after all that snow we had this winter, we'd catch some kind of break in the summer. Apparently not. Phoo.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

sexy is...

This new belt buckle.

Actually the buckle is old - 1975 is the date etched in in the back of the thing. Artist etched "IVAAN 1975" on the back with block letters. It appears to be a cast piece, probably pewter and pretty hard, so I can only imagine that it is not the only one of its kind out there.

We haven't been able to learn much about him, other than he died fairly recently and there is an exhibit of some of his work currently on display at a museum in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The buckle was the gift of a friend who wore it in her younger, wilder days carrying on with Midwestern suburban housewives during those heady years of sexual revolution. She put it away years ago, and recently decided it was a thing I could wear and carry off. I am honored to wear it, and spent several delightful minutes tonight at the political volunteer phone bank thing showing it off to the women there. I am beginning to really understand the appeal of this buckle.

The belt was custom-fitted, punched and cut to length for me by a guy I know from church who looks vaguely like Santa's evil twin. Helluva guy. We talked politics and Unitarianism and special orders (he won't do 'em - pick something he's made or get out!) and had a great time.

The woman who gave me the buckle I know from church as well. The minister has seen it and raved about it. Both directed me to Bob the leatherworker for a new belt. Bet your church ain't as much fun as mine!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Got some stuff goin' on, I do.

Seem to be at a crossroads of life.

Thinking about working for a living. Like for someone else. Yeah, I know.

Got a couple of things swirling in the pot of stuff that is my life at this moment.

the jury on one item is out for at least another 24 hours.

I'll let you know how it comes out, I promise. Plan B depends kinda on how plan A shakes out. Again, I'll let you know.

In the meantime, I've been busy running around and trying to coordinate things so Laura and I can get married this fall.

As you may know, earlier in the spring, Maine's Legislature passed and our Governor signed into law a bill to allow for same-sex marriages. Laura and I set a wedding date for September 19, the first Saturday after the law is due to go into effect.

But then some pissants decided that our getting married would stop the world turning, so they hired some people to collect signatures and they are going to force a state-wide referendum on the issue this November. That's right: the whole state of Maine will have an opportunity to vote on whether Laura and I get to be married. How ridiculous is that?

So now we're organizing. I mean, we were organized before, but now we are mobilizing. We've got committees and offices set up everywhere, we're asking people to pledge their support and Vote No On 1 in November. We're gonna have to raise a ton of money, and that sucks. Because really, I'd rather see that energy and money all go into solving other pressing problems, like health care or school budgets or affordable housing. Not fighting a political battle of epic proportions just so we can be married.

We're doing what we can. We're organizing house parties, phone banks and volunteer trainings. We ask people to give and give and give some more. We talk to neighbors and friends and coworkers and employers and the folks at the grocery store. This is how we're going to win this thing.

We can do it. I know we can.

If a skinny law professor-turned first term Senator with dark skin and a crazy name can become President of the United States, then we can do this small thing. Obama won because he competed in every state and territory. The way for us to win is to do the same. We need to compete in every county, every town and every village. We are not going to win them all, but we are going to be like people's fucking credit cards: Everywhere they want to be.

This is about love and it is about fairness. While Mainers aren't much for talking publicly about such mushy stuff as love, we have a keen idea what is meant by fairness. That means everybody plays by the same rules, even the fella you don't like so much. Rules is rules, and that's fair. And that is all we're asking for - rules that apply to us all equally.

We can do this.

Yes we can.

If you're reading this from somewhere out of state and want to help, click on THIS LINK and make a donation. I don't care if you tell them I sent you, just give what you can. This means an awful lot to us. Thanks.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

rough week in two parts

Hey all.

Sorry I have been absent for so long. It's been a rough week. And per usual, some of the rough stuff is a result of my own actions. Sigh.

Shitty week PART I

Back awhile, I posted here about a guy I know to be a child molester who belongs to a list serve that I am a member of. I had a lot of discomfort about him being there, but he'd done nothing to get himself thrown off, so there was nothing I could do.

Well, he got all arrogant and sniped at some people, so I called him on his hypocrisy. I told him out loud and in public on the list that his actions were a detriment to our effort to achieve marriage equality because no matter how much time we all spend saying we're not child molesters, people can point to this loser and say "but he is." I was a reporter in his town just before he was arrested and charged for molesting a kid under the age of 14. I remember seeing kids swarm around in his store and I remember thinking "that's not quite kosher." I was transferred to another area just before he was arrested and went to trial.

I was rough. I was nasty. I laid him out to whaleshit.

And frankly, I don't much care. The guy ran a comic book store. He was a textbook case in how predators behave, both before they are caught and after. He went to prison and is now listed on the state website for sex offenders. There was nothing I wrote that wasn't public record.

But I got blasted by the members of the list serve. I got blasted by my best friend, the one whom this guy had taken a verbal swipe at and whom I had sort of been defending. All of the people who defended this guy were men. Of the 30 or more people to weigh in on the subject, only a handful supported me. They were all women.

For years I have argued against the notion that all men are idiots. I know lots of men, I said, who are not assholes. Not all men stop thinking at the end of their dicks.

That's harder for me to say now.

Much harder.

I've had two, maybe three guys support me in this. The rest were outraged that I embarrased and ridiculed and verbally attacked this man.

The women on the list were more supportive, particularly those with kids. And a couple of social workers.

**** PART II of shitty week from hell ****

A couple weeks ago, we went down to the big city for gay pride and to do a small job for a friend. She needed some steps built on her rental property and I was glad to do it. The old ones were not to code, the railing was simply a piece of 1 by 6 plank laid up on edge, and the steps were too steep.

I tore down the old set, ripped out the rotted siding and replaced it with new plywood, found the cement footers and laid blocks on top of them to set the posts on, and built the steps. I installed some flashing to direct water away from the house so it wouldn't rot again. I explained each step to the owner as I did it, and worked around the rain that fell nearly steadily for the week. It was hot, muggy work, but the steps looked fabulous and the owner was pleased. When I presented the bill, she complained that it was too high. I offered to reduce it to the original quoted amount, but she said no and wrote a check for the full amount. A few days later she complained about the travel charge, and I offered to refund that portion in order to keep her satisfied. It is important to me that people are pleased with my work and not left feeling treated poorly. Again she refused my offer of a refund. Everything seemed OK.

Until I got a letter last week. She wasn't pleased after all. She didn't like the price. She didn't like the work I did, she didn't like the blocks, the flashing, or the railing posts. She had another contractor look at my work, make a detailed list of all my sins, and presented them to me. She demanded a re-do of the work or a refund, to be satisfied within 30 days. If I do not make good on the demand, she would take me to court to get it.

Twice in the letter she said that she valued our friendship (of some 20 years now) and did not want to damage it.

I got this letter about a half-hour after I got the note on that list serve from my best friend saying I was an asshole and needed to apologize to the pedophile and everyone on the list for outing him.

Like I said, it was a pretty awful day. So awful was it that I did something I have never done as an adult: I went back to bed and sobbed for three hours.

No shit.

Because I am such the kind of person who spends countless hours sobbing into my pillow. My guess is that if you've read this space for more than one or two entries, I wont have to explain that I was just being sarcastic. Yeah. Sob in my pillow? Not since my last horrid break-up, I think. Only this was worse. This was a 20-year friendship circling the drain.

I cannot remember a time when I felt so low. So hurt. So betrayed. So completely abandoned. If felt as though I had been kicked in the gut by a horse. Twice. I had no idea what to do. My stomach hurt, my heart hurt, my head was spinning, and nothing I looked at seemed to make any sense.

Eventually I got up and went and did a little job for some friends. They liked it and paid without complaint. I cannot tell you what a relief that was. To have something work. To have a customer be pleased.

I've had displeased customers over the years. I've even had them ask me to fix something I did that was not to their liking, and I have done it. But I have never had anyone hire someone else to critique my work and then threaten to sue. That was a new and terrible experience for me.

I was completely out of sorts.

I quit the list-serve. I have no interest in participating in a group that will defend and protect a child molester.

I spent a week trying to figure out how to respond to my friend who values my friendship but might sue me if I don't give her back the equivalent of one month's rent and groceries and gasoline. Like I've got that kind of cash hanging around in the bank or under my mattress, right? Yeah. Not so much.

After a week, I was able to respond. I wrote a reply in which I acknowledged and owned the errors that were mine, but handed back the rest. I reminded her that she had approved every step of the way the items that now she has issues with, and I'm going to send a check first thing Monday morning. I haven't got that kind of money, but I'll find it by then. I don't want to be taken to court. I don't want to deal with this ever again. If a thousand dollars will make my stomach stop aching like it has been, it's worth it. I never knew the cost of a friendship. Apparently, now I do. It's a thousand dollars.

I'm still pretty stunned by it all. Yes, I screwed some stuff up. No job is perfect. Each has its mistakes, and each has its lessons.

I shuffled through the week in a haze of hurt, self-doubt and grief. I questioned my every decision. I doubted my every move and every thought. Is this right? Do I really know? What if I screw it up? I don't want to lose any more friends. Maybe this was karma for outing the pedophile. That seems kind of unfair, but that stuff happens sometimes. It was pretty awful.

Friends have offered all kinds of hypotheses as to how and why this happened, but I don't know that any of them fit. Nothing seems to make any sense. We were friends, allies, confidants, partners in efforts both political and personal, sounding boards upon which the other could rely for real truths when others would be polite. It's all gone now, and I am left with a feeling of grief at the loss of something so huge.

I think I need to maybe get back to writing here. I have done some reading of old posts lately, and can see a time when my thoughts seemed to be clearer, when things were more orderly in my brain. I don't make any promises, but I think I will try. It does me good to write, to get my thoughts and feelings out in public where I can see them by the light of day.

Thanks for bearing with me as I churn through this stuff. It is uncomfortable for me. I can only imagine it is less than riveting for you all. Stay tuned. I think it will get better.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I feel like I should be writing more. I have tons of ideas in my head. Loads of things I want to write about and share. But I can't get out of my own way.

The bra project was a delightful diversion - oh, and "Iron Maidenform" won the naming contest hands-down. The friend who came up with that name was delighted and pleased. Sharon, one of the organizers, was delighted to have the bra in her possession and now I have ideas for something else. But first I have to get some real work done

Work is rough this year. The economy is in the toilet, so lots of people are holding off on repairs and maintenance to their homes. I had a nice big-ish job in Portland last month, and I'll have another there next week, but otherwise it has been pretty thin. Some friends of ours in the Portland area have been lobbying pretty hard for us to move back there. I don't know though. There are pros and cons to all of it.

I like living on MDI, but Portland has a lot more going on, particularly in the winter months.

We have a great community of friends here, but we have friends there, too.

There is better access to charity medical care in Portland, and that would be good for Laura - she could get her back treated. Here, we have no options.

But living cheek-by-jowl in Portland again does not appeal to me. It just doesn't. I don't like hearing and knowing what my next door neighbors are doing, and I don't like them hearing/knowing what I am doing.

But there is work there, at least more of it than there is here. I have told some friends that if I can see six month's worth of work there, we could move. I can't just pick up and go without having some kind of income set up for when we get there, but I am not sure we can afford to stay here. It is discouraging. I love living in this part of Maine. Yes, I complain about tourists and cruise ships, but honestly, they interfere on a limited number of days each year. Most of the time, we have Acadia all to ourselves. The trout are hidden in quiet pools and streams, if hikers wander through, they quietly wander back off again without disturbing us or the fish. It's a pretty good life.

Except for the lack of work and access to medical care.

Yeah. except for that.

I guess what I'd prefer is that a move like this present itself in a positive way for me. But I don't see it that way. This is a retreat, in my mind, not progress, not an advance. Like I/we lost a battle of some sort. I don't know.

What I do know is that I have some metal that I need to make into a handrail for some customers. That will keep me busy today and probably tomorrow. The rest of the summer's work will fill in the way it fills in. There is not much I can do beyond schedule it on the calendar and follow the money.

And be open to what the world offers me. I have to work on that. I think I need to stop trying to fit the world into my schedule and to see what I can do to work in harmony with what the world sends my way. That will be my goal for today. Blessed be.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

I'm not much of a patriot, I suppose.

But then, I don't have full citizenship rights like some of my friends and the whole rest of my family. I suppose that means something.

I am up early today, though, preparing for a parade and for some political action.

A couple magician friends of mine have a show locally and the show will be participating in Bar Harbor's July 4 parade. There are two magicians (one can't make it) and a couple of belly dancers. One of the magicians has asked me to drive my truck in the parade to carry the sound system and one of the dancers. So I will be driving my big rusty truck through downtown with a dancing belly dancer in the back. How cool is that??

The other reason I am up so early is that the state-level Freedom to Marry people have asked the Hancock County people to start collecting signatures of supportive voters and identifying volunteers for the effort to preserve marriage equality. I am one of six people who will spread out with clipboards, canvassing people, asking for their support and their signatures.

This morning I am up at an unholy hour to prepare fresh bagels for these volunteers. Volunteers are much happier and more productive when they are well fed, preferably with good food.

After the parade and subsequent seafood festival, we'll all retire back to our house here for a cookout of the veggies and chicken and spicy noodle variety and to celebrate. When lesbians grill, I suppose I should be glad there is no tofu in the mix.

What better act of patriotism could there be, I suppose, than working to make our democracy a better and more equitable place for everyone to live? Laura and I have set a wedding date of September 19, but I expect the law allowing it to be stayed by a court injunction before we can do that. Opponents are out in force already, and telephone push-polling has begun in our area.

So today, in celebration of our democracy, we shall engage in democracy. We will work to educate our fellow citizens, we will do what we can to secure their support for our civil rights. We will do what democracy is about: participatory government. Rule of the people by the people. Not by violent overthrow, not by force of might, but by ourselves. Rule by democratic means and in the name of justice. Because it is just that if we pay taxes like everyone else that we enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

Only we've got some work to do to get there.

So this morning I will make bagels for our volunteers. I will marinate supper for grilling later. I will carry my share of clipboards and talk to my share of strangers and smile when I don't feel like it. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It is a living, breathing thing, and if I don't care for it, it won't care for me.

Music on Maine Public Radio this morning is all 18th-century stuff. What was being heard in salons in Europe and the colonies as rebellion was percolating through the streets. Later I will sit and listen to my favorite voices from National Public Radio read the Declaration of Independence, and you know what? I'll get goosebumps first, and then I will weep at the beauty and strength of the words, as read by my heroes of the free press. People can say what they will about the media, but really it comes down to this: the media is the first (and sometimes last) protection the people have against tyranny. The journalists of NPR read the Declaration every year - or at least it is broadcast every year - on this date, and every year I try to make a point to listen. Google it and listen on line if you can't catch the live broadcast. It is inspiring.

Now I am ready.

We are fired up.

We are ready to go.

Watch us change the world.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reader's bra poll

Hey all. The steel bra is done and delivered to the auction organizers.

The Bra art auction will take place on Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 4 p.m. at the Unitarian-Universalist Church on Easy Street (no kidding!) in Pittsfield, Maine. For more information, contact Sharon Mack at I expect that there will be something set up soon to handle silent bids made in advance of the auction. Contact her if you want to learn more about it.

Here's the link:

I received more than 60 suggestions for names for this marvelous creation. Laura and I have whittled that list down to five finalists, and we now present them to you for your consideration. Leave a note in the comments section regarding your favorite. The final choices are:



Iron Maidenform

Bra Templar

Bra Hallah

I look forward to seeing how this all shakes out. Also, here are some additional pictures of the bra from various angles. There is nothing but metal and paint in this thing. No plastic, no glue, nothing but sheet metal, bits of iron, some welding wire and paint. I am now half-tempted to make some kind of g-string to go with it. Note I said HALF tempted. I still have other stuff to do...