Monthly Archives: November 2008

it’s a long way to tipperary


This Veteran’s Day I’d like to thank Tessa’s grandfather (“Paw-Paw”) Paul W. Tessman, for not only fighting in the Battle of the Bulge through the forests of Ardennes, but making it back in one piece to be a father to Sandy and an emotional anchor for Tessa. So traumatized by war, Paul – at around 6’3″ – became a gentle giant, not even interested in driving the family car, finding gentle respite in his woodshop, making gorgeous hand-crafted toys and furniture for the family.

An amazing fellow who died having not told half of the harrowing tales he’d survived. On January 10, 1945, while in the village of Kappel, France, he wrote a poem – part of which I scanned several years ago:


That “someone dear”? Lucille Tessman, our Lucy’s namesake. Here’s to you, sir.


motor cars, handlebars, bicycles for two


Oh, hey, wait – did I tell you we got a puppy?


We weren’t meaning to, I swear, but this particular little Mini Austrian Shepherd saw Tessa from the cage, and the two of them immediately forged a bond that transcended explanation, so we went for it. Her name is Lily, and she is a bouncing furball bunny of cute pleasure. No yapping, and she’s already bizarrely smart.

Oh, and ever since Lily came, MY DAUGHTER IS ON CRACK. It’s all I can do to get Lucy to stop mauling her, hugging her, dressing her up in costumes and writing sonnets about her.

Lucy’s godfather Chip wrote an email today about something being “‘kitten curled up with puppy taking a nap together’ cute” and I thought I’d go one better. Here’s Lucy with Lily being visited by Christine and baby Jack. CUTE McCUTIEBURGERS FOR ALL THE UNICORNS IN FUZZYLAND!!!


i am hated for loving


I’m not going to ruin a perfectly nice seismic sea change in American history for long, but I don’t think it’s possible to take in the enormity of yesterday’s outcome without also being deeply disgusted and saddened by California’s decision to nullify the rights of married same-sex couples. Actually, saying “California” did it is something of an inaccurate synecdoche; it was really two groups of people: African American women and churches.

I suppose it’s the ultimate irony that Barack Obama inspired a huge number of black Americans to vote, and in doing so, also doomed hundreds of thousands of gay Americans. It’s further jaw-dropping that these particular demographics – such as black and Hispanic Californians – would vote so overwhelmingly to strip people of the same rights once denied to them. I simply can’t fathom it, but it leads unavoidably to…

Churches. Especially churches in the poor-income areas of California’s big cities, but particularly one church that looms 750 miles over the Sierra Nevadas: my ancestral homeland of Mormons. The Church of Latter Day Saints hates gays like gays were the eleventh Plague, nestled somewhere between Pestilence and Incurable Boils. They have no problem going door to door in nice neighborhoods spreading their cheery brand of homophobia disguised as doctrine.

When I saw the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars coming down Interstate 15 to shove Proposition 8 (aka “Prop Hate”) through the system, I wondered why our side didn’t immediately blanket the airwaves with ads like “Are You Gonna Let the Mormons Tell You How To Vote?” and “California: Not Utah, and Damn Proud Of It” but frankly, I think the progressive community got blindsided.

The homophobes ran ads saying that gay marriage was going to be force-taught to 2nd graders, which was an outright lie – but before long, the “yes” numbers started to creep up, and last night, the gay-haters won down the stretch. I predicted this in May, right after same-sex marriage was legalized:

Inevitably – INEVITABLY – a bill will be put before the government, or a referendum on the ballot, that will declare same-sex marriage illegal, and it will be sponsored by some of the most morally-repugnant lowlifes in politics and organized religion. I have trouble fathoming most conservative and Republican behavior, but going after gays is truly sickening. It’s one thing if you truly believe in unprovoked war, or unfettered capitalism, or denying climate change… but there’s a special place in hell waiting for those who punish homosexuals for daring to get married. The vindictiveness is astonishing.

The fight isn’t over; it never is. The arc of the moral universe, plus a lot of lawyers, will see to that. But until then, two things need a reckoning: first, I have to come to grips with my extended family, because if I find out any of them helped fund this travesty, my enthusiasm for any more visits or reunions will be almost zilch.

Secondly, THE MORMON CHURCH NEEDS TO LOSE ITS TAX-EXEMPT STATUS. As does any church that donates millions of dollars of its own money to change governmental policy. If a preacher tells his congregation that voting for Obama will send them to hell, that’s fine, BUT REVOKE THAT CHURCH’S TAX-EXEMPT STATUS. I am absolutely disgusted that these institutions are allowed to take their members’ tithing, use it to violate the human rights of our fellow Americans, and then, in turn, NOT PAY ANY TAXES TO THE GOVERNMENT THEY ARE TRYING TO CHANGE.

My gay friends are actually paying taxes to make up for the shortfall of church tax revenue, money which is instead used to demonize… my gay friends. They are paying money for the right of churches to strip them of their rights. In what way doesn’t this suck?

Is this what it has come to? Are homosexuals our last bogeymen? I know we had a huge victory yesterday, and pardon me for asking for too much, but how long do we have to wait for this shit to be over?

noah’s ark vs. the moral arc


And so we have made it to Election Day.

When I was a little kid, my Uncle Chuck used to visit, and he’d tell stories of his days in the Marines, and subsequently protesting the war in Vietnam. He was on several government bad-guy lists, wrote an anti-war underground newspaper in the Bay Area, and got so despondent after the 1972 election that he found a place in British Columbia to move. Fortunately for us, some land opened up outside Telluride (way before it became “Telluride”) and he built a house, worked the fields, and became that uncle that changes your perspective on everything.

He was always something of a Buddha, very equanimous about all subjects, but when he talked about Nixon, veins would bulge on his forehead, and he got genuinely scary. He loathed that man so much you could feel the bile rising across the room. As kids, we were always like “geez, Uncle Chuck, chill out!”

And now I know: I became my Uncle Chuck. I turned into the guy who is so perpetually angry at a political philosophy that I risk not being understood by a future generation who doesn’t understand – and further, doesn’t care – about my overwrought hissy-fits. They will not know the visceral reaction of seeing a venal numbskull like Sarah Palin call Barack Obama a terrorist and distinguish “real America” from the one I live in. They won’t feel any of the rage I feel when John McCain constantly questions Obama’s patriotism. These questions will have been settled.

And so I will try to salvage my wits, and make it simple for them: that we lived in interesting times, and nothing was for certain, but I was honored to check the box next to the first African American with a fantastic shot at running the country. We think the madness may be abating; the tide is coming in, the falcon – left for dead – returns to the falconer.


and if you have any thoughts from your polling center, please share!

caterpillar in a hurry


Yes, I’m sure if you read my last blog (and cared) you’d think I was creating a nightmare for my daughter’s Halloween, and I have to say, I wasn’t too sure myself. However, I think the costumes turned out okay for a bunch of wire, sheer fabric, spray paint, hinges and headbands:


I’ve always taken Halloween very seriously (as documented) but sometimes if something doesn’t exist, you just want to make it. I wanted to be a Carolina blue butterfly, and the closest match was this morpho Helena:


…and I tried to turn Tessa into the Luna Moth that some of you commenters identified on my farmhouse door back in June, for which I thank you very much:


And after Adventures in Glue-gunning, I finished the get-ups with five minutes to spare – then we immediately hit the “walk streets” in Venice:


with our friend Monica

Advice to those making butterfly costumes at home (which, by my estimation, is about 2,347,558 of you): Lucy’s monarch had two separate wings on hinges, meaning they flapped when she walked, and she could pull them in when it was crowded. Tessa and I lacked the hinge option, and therefore created a swath of destruction everywhere we went.


Did you know the difference between moths and butterflies? Moths rest with their wings spread out (like on a screen door) and butterflies fold theirs in. Also, moths have fuzzy antennae, and butterflies have long antennae with a little bulb at the end.

*long silence*

Okay, so we’re a little nervous about the election. Gotta do something with that energy, right?