Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I've Moved

Please come visit me at my new blog Czech & Swede.

Monday, February 22, 2010

He Lives, He Breathes

He remembers to update his blog on occasion.

Lots has happened in the last couple of months. We bought a new car. We put together a supper for a woman who is dying of cancer. I started school. We've had the warmest winter in the history of our county. Our pregnant horse, isn't - pregnant that is. She's still a horse, of course.

So this week - I will update my 101 things list, tell you about going to community college in rural Maine, discuss the farm, and consider rural health care.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Gossip Belt

The part of The County that I live in is known locally as "The Bible Belt" because of its large population percentage wise of churchgoers and the affect they have on the local area. Alcohol is not served or sold on Sundays in this stretch of The County, for example.

I think its all fine and good to call it The Bible Belt, but I think in reality it should be called The Gossip Belt.

Trust me, I'm getting as good at it as anyone.

I noticed from my first visit to The County (one year ago yesterday, to be exact) that this was the norm, as I imagine it is in most rural areas. When you live in a closed society, so to speak, what is happening within that society is important.

Of course this means that I now know far more than I really ever should have known about the people around me. Because here in The Gossip Belt, it is not uncommon to have piece of gossip - "Can you believe she's cheating on him with so and so?" - lead into the distant past - "I'm not surprised. I remember when she stole Amanda Smith's boyfriend in the 10th Grade by offering to 'tutor him'. She's always been that way." - then into distant family history - "I was told her father used to have two women on the side when he was a trucker going downstate, so its no surprise she turned out this way".

I choose to look at it as a positive. I get to learn everyone's names, for one, because I'm the slow guy at the table. "Who is she?" I'll ask and get the answer - "Oh, you know. She drives the white ford van and has the little kid that always wears a parka, even in Summer. You saw her at Thanksgiving at The Restaurant. She was at the table with the three kids that ate the crayons." So I have decided to use it as my who's who education here.

Of course, that leads me to worry about what is being said about me, naturally. In reality, though, what really can be said about me? I'm half of the only openly gay couple around these parts, so in most people's minds, they already know the "dirtiest" thing they can know about me, although many people still seem to think its odd that I'm not hiding what they must think of as a hush hush secret a little better. Other than that, I think most of the gossip centers around me working for "liberals". I figure it'll take another year or so for the really juicy rumors to start.

I'll keep my ear to the ground for you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snow Daze

I am quickly coming to terms with the fact that, outside of a surprise trip to Florida from The Partner (one can hope), I probably won't see green grass again until May.

Truth be told, there is a certain beauty to the white landscape. And this isn't my first Maine winter, so its not like I'm not used to snow.

But when I lived in Portland, there was small chance of a January thaw, even if only for a day or so. Here, there's a better chance of Joe Lieberman voting with Democrats than there is a mid-winter thaw.

Don't know where I'm going with this. I was just trying to look through the ice encased windows at the blowing snow, and got the realization.

So you know what that means - when I don't know what else to write, I throw it back to you. How do you know its winter where you are?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

101 Things - Travelling Fool

My latest update on my Day Zero Project of completing 101 things in 1,001 days. Progress is being made.

Completed On The List

#20 - Give an anonymous gift to someone in need - For reasons that are clear, I can't and won't share details, but #20 is complete.

#22 - Plan a surprise overnight getaway - The Partner's birthday and our anniversary are two days apart, so I worked with The Girls at The Restaurant to get his weekend shifts covered, got his family to cover all the farm chores, and surprised him with a trip to Boston! We stayed at the fancy schmancy Nine Zero Hotel right across from Boston Commons, and had a wonderful time.

#50 - Attend a benefit supper - Okay, so this was a pretty easy one, since we seem to have a benefit supper weekly here in The County. But still, it was great to help cook all the food and see all the neighbors come together to help someone in need. Now if I can just get people to think of a national healthcare plan as a better response to our neighbors going broke when they get sick instead of a spaghetti supper. Ah, one thing at a time...

#54 - Decorate for a holiday - The tree is up, the candles are in the window, Mortimer the lighted snowman is out, cards are on the mantle, and knickknacks are on every free space. Yup, I chose Christmas.

#71 - Take and out of state vacation with The Partner - See #22. I thought about this and asked myself if a weekend counts as a vacation. Then I thought about all the work we put in covering everything for just 2 days away and realize that the idea of us ever taking longer than that away probably isn't feasible. So yes, I'm counting it.

#76 - Watch and Academy Award winning movie made before 1968 - "To Kill A Mockingbird". I can't believe I hadn't seen that movie before now. If you haven't, put it in your Netflix queue right now.

#77 - Watch a sunrise - We had friends visit from Portland for a weekend recently, and showing them around and hearing what they had to say renewed my love of home. The first morning, I got up, went into the field and watched the sunrise, and spent a moment basking in gratitude for all I have.

#82 - Attend a board meeting in person - I am on a few boards, and usually have to attend them by phone just because of the travel. Well, one of them happened to be in Bangor just as we were coming back from our Boston trip, so we were able to attend in person. It was nice to see everyone and feel really a part of the conversation.

#83 - Attend an LGBT dance - On our way to Boston, we went to the Bridge Alliance dance in Bangor. We've gone before and we always have a great time. If you live in Northern Maine, consider going to one of these. They're held every month.

In Progress

#9 - Get my Nexus Card or Passport - I've got the application. Now I just need to get The Partner to go into town so we can get our pictures taken and submit it.

#14 - Enroll in and complete a semester at a community college - I have been accepted to Northern Maine Community College and start classes - Psychology, Ethics, and Speech will be my first three - next month. Even better, they accepted 21 credits from my failed attempt at college in 1987, so I'm already 1/3 of the way to my Associates of Arts!

#69 - Attend a fundraising dinner in Aroostook County - This is happening December 28 in Presque Isle for the woman that will hopefully become the first woman governor in Maine's history.

Back To Step One

#23 - Send holiday cards one year by the Saturday after Thanksgiving - I got a lot of them out, but I'm still collecting addresses, so I hope to accomplish this one next year. We'll see.

There are some pretty big projects still on the list, including the writing. I'm still excited about this and it has been a great motivator to keep active. If you want to join me, go to the Day Zero Project website and get started.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Approaches. Then Wham! Winter's Here.

Not very subtle of you, Winter. Not subtle at all...

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'm learning a unique colloquialism to rural farm areas: the difference between "lunch", "dinner", and "supper".

Now I've had some experience with these terms. My mother came from rural northern Minnesota, and on occasion used the term supper. But mostly she treated this the same way that my grandfather treated his Swedish -- as something to be forgotten. Both were seen as being "less than", for my grandfather, less American, for my mother, less urban.

So here I am again, hearing people talk about lunch at 9pm, dinner at noon, and supper at all kinds of times. So as a service to myself and you, dear reader, I will attempt to put these terms into context.

Lunch - This is a "break meal". My guess is that it came from times when everyone would be out farming and doing chores (or youngsters in school), and they took a meal with them into the fields. I have heard this term used by the snowplow driver here in town for his 8am meal, and by a waitress at The Restaurant for her post work meal at 9pm. The meaning is the same, though. Its a meal taken during a break from working.

Dinner - This is a formal meal, but not necessarily the evening meal. Oftentimes, this is the noon meal. But whenever it is, it is usually the largest meal of the day, and all (or most) of the family is expected to be in attendance. I was quite surprised when on Thanksgiving at The Restaurant we filled our Thanksgiving Dinner seatings at noon & 2pm, but had no takers for later. I grew up with the concept that the largest meal of the day was always the evening meal. I now know better.

Supper - This is the less formal meal. It can be considered the "other meal" from what I can tell. This is larger than a snack, but not necessarily by much, and isn't necessarily taken as a family. I've noticed that people will have sandwiches or soups as this meal. This may be taking into account the reality of rural life that family members often work on different schedules.

So, I'm learning something new. If you have more input on this, I'd love to hear it. Or maybe other meal colloquialisms that are unique to you.

Gotta go now. Dinner's cooking.