Here It Comes!!!

Today is the last day of November. Sigh. Goodbye Fall. You know what’s next, right? That’s right – Christmas. This is the general feeling of anticipation at my house today…

Waiting-for-Santa-ClausMy Sweetie loves – and I mean LOVES, L-O-V-E-S – Christmas. I do too, actually, but not to the extent he does. It is actually one of the reasons I love him so much – he is totally invested in holidays, and makes every one special for me/us. Plus – the good news about marrying someone from another culture? You get to celebrate the holidays observed by BOTH. So, while I have always enjoyed Christmas, now I also get to enjoy St. Nikolai Day, too. St. Nikolai Day on 06 December is observed with a small gift and delicious cookies:

cookiesCookies? A gift? Then Christmas two and half weeks later? How could it get any better?!?

I’m a lucky guy in so many ways – I have a great spouse, a loving family and friends, a job I enjoy (I guess I could be richer and thinner, but…) and my health is pretty sound. So, going into Christmas, I really don’t have “much on my list.” I pretty much have everything I need/want already. Like I said, I am a lucky guy!

Did Stuff

Did stuffToday (Friday) I had a “full day” – some Black Friday shopping, some time with my Sweet MSW and (together) we spent a few hours at our friends’ house, helping them decorate for Christmas (they host a LAVISH Christmas party every December and decorate like 7-9 trees a year – we helped a little today!) So yeah – this post is late but I have been busy and now I am tired today/this morning…

A better post tomorrow, promise.

My Belly Hurts

I know, I know – every year it is the same old story. I cannot help myself…

ate too muchI have had a LOVELY Thanksgiving – I spent the day with my husband, at my Dad’s house, with my siblings and their families… If I had ONE request, it would have been my other brother-in-law, my oldest niece, her husband and their adorable son and my rotten oldest nephew would have also been with us today. They live 506 miles away, so such a trip isn’t really a reality (but I can always hope, right?)

The meal was great, the company fun and – for probably the first time since my Mom passed away five years ago – the day felt “right.” Don’t get me wrong, we all miss Grammy (my Mom) but I think my family has finally “re-invented” Thanksgiving so hopefully, going forward, it can be the happy day it is supposed to be. For all this, I am thankful…

Hard to believe this is how the day ended. The turkey looked like it had been attacked by walkers from The Walking Dead…

turkey carcassI have never been able to understand why Thanksgiving turkey tastes so much better than “any other day” turkey – but it does! Thank you to my beloved partner, MSW, for a beautiful day, my Dad and family for being with us and The Universe for allowing it all to happen. Hope everyone had a GREAT Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving Friend

One of the things I love most about Thanksgiving is seeing old friends – friends you may not have seen or really even thought about since LAST Thanksgiving. I got together again with a long-time friend like that tonight:

Vintage Crock PotYeah, that’s right – my old friend, the legendary Rival Crock-Pot Slow Cooker. I get to “visit” with mine usually twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes we even get together for New Year’s. See, my “requested covered dish” at every family holiday gathering is grape jelly meatballs. Uh huh, grape jelly meatballs – you know the ones: three ingredients, throw ’em in the oven, serve them in a Crock-Pot. My family loves them (I do, too!) and, for whatever reason, my family seems to think they are an elegant appetizer.

Works for me…  

So the meatballs are already out of the oven. I have pulled my old friend down from that weird, useless cabinet above the fridge, the one that stores everything you use once or twice a year – candlesticks, a table runner and the Crock-Pot. I have had my Crock-Pot for probably 25 years (no lie!) and, if I had been as successful at investing in stocks as I have been in investing in a “reliable slow-cooker,” well, I’d be rich.

It’s funny how you associate food traditions with holidays. I mean, my Crock-Pot is not the one pictured here (mine has a cute circle of mod trees around the base) but, every time I see it, I am transported back to past holidays and enjoyable times with friends and family. It is a nice feeling…

So tomorrow, as my family sits down to enjoy our “classic” Thanksgiving meal together – a Butterball turkey, Stovetop Stuffing, potatoes (both mashed and sweet w/mini marshmallows), green bean casserole with those crunchy French’s Onion thingies on top, dinner rolls and, of course, some jellied cranberry sauce, sliced right out of the can – I will be thankful for good food, great friends and a family that loves and supports me. And I will certainly smile and wink at my old friend, the Crock-Pot, sitting in its usual place of honor on the folding table in my parents’ kitchen.

Hmmm – As faithful and steadfast as the Crock-Pot has been to me, and with it being such a good friend to my entire family, I might have to consider moving it out onto the counter top to a place of “higher honor” – maybe right beside the Keurig Coffeemaker!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Chillin’ Out When It’s Chilly Out

It’s happening, just like always, every winter. It’s starting to snow, and the world is getting hysterical…

The evening news is on as I type this, so currently I can hear the endless discussion of potential flight delays and airport closings, and blah blah, blah blah blah… Yeah, seems there is a big, significant winter storm immediately to our east, and this is a holiday week – the biggest travel week of the year, according to the stats they are reporting. But I guess, in my mind I ask, why the insanity? It snows EVERY YEAR come winter time, so – as a life-long Ohio resident – I say “Bring it on, Mother Nature. Show me what you got.”

snowI understand how bad weather can compromise travel plans, and believe me, I relate to the disappointment that comes when a trip to see family and/or friends has to be canceled. However, for the world to act as if civilization will end if we even get a foot of snow is ridiculous. And – no offense, weathermen and women – but even with your “Dozen Doppler Forecasts,” you all rarely get the weather right anyway. So, everyone? RELAX. Tomorrow will still come. It may be cold, windy and white, but we will be here. We will all survive, no matter what the weather is.

iglooI just heard the news anchor announce that Pittsburgh is a “…virtual white-out.” Hmmmm. That is not our weather here in Cleveland but, if it were, I would slip into my flannel PJ pants with the reindeer on them (one of last year’s Christmas gifts), load one of my favorite movies in the DVD player, make a big ass cup of hot chocolate, crawl under a blanket on the couch with my Beloved MSW and just relax. Relax and enjoy it.

I mean, what the heck? The holiday season is upon us – isn’t there enough to stress out about without giving yourself an ulcer over a snow storm? What if they sell out of the big screen TV’s before we get one?

Black Friday

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick tock…

That’s right – the clock is ticking my friends. I am excited (and anxiety-ridden) to remind you all that Christmas is a mere ONE MONTH from today! Hooray!!!

Christmas LightsSo to get you all in the same “festive” holiday spirit I am embracing, here are a few holiday-themed pics to (hopefully) help you get your jolly on early…

Christmas VintageI know, I know – it seems a disservice to Thanksgiving to speak of Christmas already but, hey – I didn’t make the old “fourth-Thursday-in-November” rule. Thanksgiving is LATE this year and so, while I honor the spirit and intent of THAT holiday, I am already looking forward to Christmas…

Christmas picSee, my Beloved and I have family overseas and – to ensure their holiday packages arrive in time – we must mail their presents this week. So today, there is wrapping paper and cards and bows, and carols and eggnog – you know, all the good things that make Christmas fun and family-focused. And essentially, isn’t that what makes ANY holiday meaningful – loved ones, happiness and good will?

This week is a double header for me – it’s like I get to enjoy TWO great holidays with the people I love, and use today as the kick to a month of joy, love and goodwill. I’m a lucky guy.

Elves

You’re Getting The Finger Today

As my series of thankful posts continues, today I wanna’ give you the finger:

happy fingerI know. Silly, right? After an emotionally-challenging past few days, I had a pretty great day – I was dressed in “real clothes” for about ten minutes (I had to return a movie to Redbox) but, otherwise?

I have spent the entire day in my pajamas, at home, with the guy I love. Life is good. Thanks for asking…

A Musical Tribute To Dan Rogan

As most of you know, my friend Dan passed away yesterday morning. Many of you reading this probably know Dan – or know “A” Dan. My friend Dan was always at the center of every party yet could make that one person over in the corner who knew no one feel like the party had been thrown just for them. Dan was that kind of guy. I hope everyone meets at least one “Dan” in their lives…

Anyway, as I was trying to think of a way to honor Dan and all the fun we had together, I remembered that a LOT of shenanigans and tomfoolery we enjoyed involved music. I am mad for music – I love most every genre (no rap/sorry!) – and Dan and I shared a zillion great escapades, some with their “own theme songs.” Here are five songs/artists that remind me of Dan, in no particular order, with a short back story for each…

Grace Jones – La Vie en Rose

For a while (longer than I am proud to admit!), Dan Rogan and I terrorized the local Cleveland “alternative” club scene almost every night. I saw Grace Jones with Dan TWICE – the first time at a long-defunct club called The Ritz, on a Sunday night. Grace Jones was carried onstage seated in a huge executive office chair, under a sheet. She sat there for probably almost 30 minutes, hidden from our gaze, soaking up the energy of the club before she threw back the sheet, stood up, sang three songs then left the stage. The place went INSANE!!! We also saw Grace Jones perform some time later at a club called U4ia – that was the night when the “Hellen-ate-Grace-Jones’-cheese” story originated. I shook hands with Grace Jones that night, and Dan got me her autograph on the back of one of his business cards from that crazy radio station where he worked that programmed international music. Ms. Jones’ autograph is framed and hangs in a place of honor in my home…

RuPaul – Supermodel (You Better Work!)

Before I really even knew who RuPaul was, Dan took me to see her at U4ia. It was shortly after this song was released (and before RuPaul became a famous, household word/diva). RuPaul came out in almost the exact outfit she has on in this video – striped sailor sweater, a long pencil skirt and I must say, her make-up and hair are MUCH better now than I remember them being then. RuPaul was like seven and a half feet tall, and we LOVED her! Danyo uttered “You Better Work, Bitch!” as his answer to any remark for weeks after that night.

Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation

One of the few “real” concerts we went to, Rodan and I saw Ms. Jackson perform at The Coliseum in Richfield – remember that place? The concert was pretty kick-ass but the part I remember most fondly? Both Dan and I wore black t-shirts and dark jeans; turns out, Janet Jackson had her own security team there who were ALSO wearing black tees and dark jeans. As we moved steadily down the Coliseum from the nose bleed seats to the main floor, Dan never flinched – he effortlessly directed people to the restrooms, he showed people their row numbers and when he was through, we were down on the main floor, enjoying the concert and – in Dan’s words – “Partyin’ our asses off like silly white girls.”

Sade – The Sweetest Taboo

Alfred/BOFOA, the lovely Dar, Dan and I all went to see Sade at the height of her popularity at Blossom on a warm summer night. To be honest, I really don’t remember much about that concert other than Sade came on stage, the whole hill of people at Blossom rushed the pavilion and Sade said, “Please, everyone take your seats. We are gonna’ have a mellow night but you have to sit down.” The entire crowd stopped, turned and went back to their lawn seats. Sade was a god then.

Madonna – Vogue

Like no other, this song reminds me of Dan. We were all standing in the darkness at U4ia on a Saturday night/ Sunday morning at like 1AM when this video “dropped.” The DJ at the time teased us for like ten minutes, replaying the intro loop over and over, then the huge screen came online and there she was, Madonna, big and beautiful. The whole club screamed and we all danced to this song for like 30 minutes straight. A group of us – Dan, myself, Alayne, Alfred/BOFOA, Russell/Skank and Angela Green – became the resident “voguers” at U4ia. Whenever this song came on, we all ran to the dance floor and did our best version of voguing. And always, Dan was right in the middle (we vogued tableau-style), striking a new pose with every phrase change. Before the song faded in popularity, at times we had 10-15 other dancers voguing with us. Forget Sade, we felt like gods then…

So, there are five songs that always will remind me of Dan. The songs are joyful and fun, just like the youthful times we shared together. Thanks for the memories, Danny Boy.

Thanks for Everything, Danyo…

Today I lost a dear friend, after his valiant battle against cancer. His name is Dan Rogan, and he is an amazing person. The world is a sadder place today because of his passing…

Dan battled bravely – and somewhat unconventionally – against his illness and, when it seemed as though he had defied all odds, was profiled in SCENE Magazine in Cleveland. The cover of the magazine carried this picture of Danyo…

Dan RoganIt seems fitting to me that my friend Dan would be portrayed as Superman – he was the funniest, most loving person I have ever known (and secretly, I think he LOVED capes, LOL!) He is a super man. Dan was instrumental in my own “coming of age/coming out process,” and I’m not sure that I ever thanked him for that help and support – although he would have just brushed it off anyway. He is that kind of guy, Dan Rogan – an unassuming every man, loved by all who were fortunate enough to have met him. Dan never thought he was special, but he was more than special – he was, cheesy and corny as it sounds, one of a kind.

We were besties for many, many years and then, through job and life changes, grew apart a bit. At first, I was sad by that but realized maybe Dan was needed by others, people that needed his help, love, attention and support as I had at one time, so I reluctantly let Dan “go.” We’d see each other every so often, and each time, it was just as it had always been – fun, warm, familiar and awesome. It was always as if we had just had lunch the day before, even if it had been months since we last spoke. Dan Rogan is my friend for life – and beyond.

Knowing Danyo as I do, I know he would not want us to be all sad and morose – in fact, we always joked that at our wakes, we wanted disco balls, a DJ, an open bar and a Madonna impersonator (OK, maybe I am dating our friendship a bit). Things have changed since we drafted those plans – disco is over, I don’t drink and now it is all about Lady Gaga, but I am sure the spirit of the event would be the same – love and laughter, joy, no tears…

Earlier this week, I committed to a week-long posting spree of thankfulness. When I started this post, I feared I would have to break that commitment yet now I see that I am thankful even today – thankful that I knew Dan, met a lot of his family and friends and that he was such an amazing influence in and on my life. So thank you, Universe, for not only creating Dan Rogan but also allowing me to spend some time with him. I look forward to seeing him again when the time comes. And listen, “Rodan” – you better be saving me a good seat in Heaven, right? Thanks… I will miss you. Lots of love, my dear friend…

Thankful Thursday

Feelings of thanks and gratitude spring from many different situations, sometimes many different situations. Take my day today, for example…

Today, my business partner and I got to enjoy lunch with a friend we knew from “the old neighborhood.” She is a lovely woman and a lot of fun – it was great catching up and “shooting the breeze.” For the opportunity to enjoy lunch today with friends, I am thankful.

place_settingThis afternoon, we landed another contract to do a home office for one of our favorite, ongoing design clients. It’s definitely not a HUGE job, but we really like the couple, they are fun to work with, they have awesome taste (YEAH!) and they don’t live on the edge of The Universe. For the opportunity to continue working with great clients on a fun new project, I am thankful.

contemporary home officeTonight, I attended an educational open house at a local kitchen showroom with my business partner. We made some new contacts and learned a few new things – plus, they had a chef there serving THE most delicious food. Yum. For the opportunity to learn new things – and taste yummy food – I am thankful.

contemporary kitchenFinally, I am now home, with my beloved Husband (who is blogging in the next room!). He also had a very full but fun day and we are both exhausted. For the opportunity to live a full life, with the guy I love fully and with all my heart, I am thankful.

I am also thankful that today is almost over – great as it was/is, I am BEAT! Thankful Thursday? Time to hit the sheets!

cats