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Operation: Moth balls

Back to work yesterday. Ugh. And last night's problem: tackling some cheeky chipmunks.

It all started about a week ago, when I decided I wanted to really make a consistent effort to fill up the bird feeders around Green Victoria. I don't know why the thought popped into my head. I'm just that kind of person, I gues. Occasionally thoughtful.

We have one feeder that is located right by the archway leading into our yard. The very day after I filled it, I noticed that most of the seed was missing and there were a ton of empty shells around the feeder. It looked like the end of the night at the local saloon.

"Hmmm." I said to myself. "I doubt the birds are THAT hungry. Even if I haven't filled that thing up for about a year."

So, I kept my eagle eye out. And soon enough, I realized that there were an awful lot of squirrels and chipmunks visiting that particular tree. Aha!

Duly warned, I went to the old Stop and Grab and bought bird seed that birds like, but squirrels and
chipmunks detest because it has cayenne pepper sprinkled in. Take that, mammals with bland appetites! I filled that bird feeder up to the rim with caliente.

The next morning, I walked out of the house. Damn tricky mammals. The fuckers had somehow managed to scoop through all the seeds in the birdcage to find the ones they like, grabbed those, and dumped all the cayenne-covered seeds onto the ground. The cads!

But we've kept up with the hot seeds, and the past few days, I've noticed that the birdseed level has gone back to normal. So either the squirels and chipmunks have moved on and accepted that this feeder is muy muy caliente or the birds are finally full.

Although perhaps the bird feeder problem has resolved, the whole experience uncovered another problem. You see, everywhere I turn since then, I've been encountering chipmunks these days around the hallowed grounds of Green Victoria.

No, seriously. In the trees. Scurrying underfoot.
I open the door in the morning to let Kyra pee and she goes scampering after something, instantly, Crawling out of my cereal ball when I pour milk into my Rice Crispies. Those little guys sure hate that Snap Crackle and Pop!

(Note: maybe one of those examples is a lie. I leave it up to you to guess which one.)

I'd say I've gone a bit nuts, but Corb's noticed it too.

Last evening Corb decided to do something about it. Project Mothballs has begun.

"I read that chipmunks don't like the smell of moth balls," explained Corb as we hunted around the grocery store. Where do they keep moth balls, anyways?

"Are you sure you didn't misread it?" I asked. "Maybe they actually don't like the smell of meatballs."

"Silly Ted. That's only Italian chipmunks," replied Corb. "No, what we need to do is to wrap up some moth balls in cheesecloth and throw them around the outside of the house. Around the foundation, in any holes you see. The smell is supposed to keep the little pests away."

"The smell makes me want to run away," I complained to Corb as we were wrapping up the moth balls later in the kitchen that evening. "I mean, I like the smell of mothballs in little old lady's drawers, but this is too much."

Corb frowned at me. "I always suspected that about you,.." Yeah, I am a regular Nathan Lane in Little Old Lady land. Lick me. Touch me.

"Isn't this going to make the whole place smell like moth balls?" I asked Corb as we started tossing the little bags into nooks and crannies around the house. "Isn't it bad enough we have an old Victorian? Isn't this going to make it seem really old?"

"Shut up and throw," he replied. Ah, who am I kidding? I just followed him around and made wiseass comments.

So, that's been our life the past week. Chasing the chipmunks. Forget about Pokemon Go! We've got a different kind of wildlife to capture. Or at least, release. First we had deer, then flying squirrels, now this. Sometimes I'm not sure if I own a home or a wildlife sanctuary.

Maybe a combination of both.

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence day, all you Yankee doodle dandies!

Repeat after me: It's only a movie.

Have you ever screamed really loudly in a movie theater and then realized you're the only one screaming?

It happened to me last night, while we were watching The Conjuring 2. There's a scene where this little girl is home alone from school because she had a fever in the morning. She's sitting on her couch watching TV, when all of a sudden the channel changes to some British parlimentary thing. Annoyed, she changes it back to the dumb British comedy she was watching. A few seconds later, it changes back. She turns it back. It moves back. She goes to hit the TV, it goes all fizzy and in the screen she can clearly see the reflection of--


Oh shit. Was that me? Damn, that was pretty loud.

I hear nervous laughter. The couple in front of me turns around to look at me. Ashes hides her head in her arms, mortified.

And that's the moment I realize that I'm not just watching the show. I AM the show.

So I spend the next half hour acutely aware I screamed when no one else had, and now I'm living my life in fear that I'm now known as the screaming guy. There he is, the screaming guy! Can't wait for him to scream next. Will it be loud? Will it be inappropriate? Oh, I can't wait, loud and inappropriate! More, more! Kids, get over here, let's listen to the screaming guy!

I blame it on the play. For months I've been so trained to react to respond to clap loudly to scream (Corb hates it when I scream. He thinks I sound like Howard Dean running for President) to lose all inhibition and support that I've forgotten how you are supposed to behave under normal conditions. You should see me in front of my TV at night.

It's not easy to move back into the normal world. But for that next half an hour, I'm on my very best behavior. I try not to do all the things I typically do. No screaming. No squirming in my seat. No hiding my eyes. No contorting into a ball. I'm going to try and be normal, dammit!

Then something scary happens and I go, "Oh fuck it, it's more fun reacting."

On another note, it was a good movie to scream with. There were some dumb moments, but for the most part, it kept your attention and was really creepy. Kind of had to keep a light on for a while when I say down to watch Doctor Who (Terror of the Zygon special features...Tom Baker and Liz Sladen reminiscing about his time on the show) later that night.

But there was one part that still kills me. It kind of strained disbelief. I'm not giving anything away, I swear. The guy who plays Ed Warren knows that the kids in the haunted hovel he came to visit come from a broken home. The dad left with all of the (I am not making this up) Elvis records, and the mom is ever so sad about it. So, to comfort them at Christmas, Ed takes the dad's guitar (which dad happened to thoughtfully leave behind. That's right, he took the Elvis records but left his guitar. Gotta have our priorities here.) and starts to croon "I can't help falling in love with you." The kids sit around the couch with Brady Bunch smiles on their face, all bedecked in mid-seventies pajamas (boy do I miss wearing mid-seventies pajamas). Then Ed gets to the final chorus and asks the kids to join in.

What I wouldn't give. WHAT I WOULDN'T GIVE... Well, I would have given my left nut if the little English girl who was possessed had started singing along in her evil demon voice. It would have been wonderful. There's this classic little seventies English family, all moppy hair and bad teeth, sitting around the living room singing along to Elvis. What did that scene need to make it utterly perfect? Of course, this week's special demon guest star Valak, who stops riding his two headed dragon and commanding 30 legions of demons so he can dress up like a nun and join in on a classic Elvis ditty in Enfield. The singing demon nun. SWEET!

I actually urge you to try this, if you go to see this movie. Just start belting out the end of the song in your best Linda-Blair-possessed-by-a-demon voice. It will add a wonderful Rocky Horror feel to the evening. Who knows, maybe everyone else will sing along, too.

And this, my friends, is why I don't direct movies.

That, and the screaming.



Good news today. My mom went for her follow up with the doctor today and it looks like she is cancer free :)


I think it's been months ince I posted anything on Live Journal. Probably the longest I've ever been away.

I've been busy directing a production of Jekyll and Hyde, which went up two weeks ago and ended its run this past Saturday. That's a photo from the last night. Had a full house and they were on their feet before the curtain went down, which was pretty cool.

It was an amazing experience all around. Probably the best production I've ever directed. The level of commitment of the cast was intense and I think it made me want to be a better director. Maybe it succeeded, too.

And now, back to reality! But at least I have mementoes. Posting these links here so that I have them for as long as they are around. Things come and go so quickly in one's life: who knows if they'll be working two years from now?

Much more to say. But this should give you a taste of what I've been up to.



Worried about Mom.

She's been going through her chemo and radiation treatments and seemed fine at first, but about three weeks in, her white blood cell count started getting low. She was hospitalized one time for a fever.

Now in her seventh week. The chemo is done. This past week was supposed to be the last week of radiation, but it's been the hardest. She finds it difficult to sit because of where the radiation is centered and has been losing her appetite.

Yesterday, dad took her to the emergency room because she was so lethargic. After waiting all day, she was admitted for a few days. I spoke to her last night and she seemed tired, but relatively upbeat. She still has two more treatments to go. They cancelled today's.

Today she was told she would be having a blood transfusion. Turned out to be two. I spoke to dad at the end of the night. He seemed pretty down. It's the first time I've heard him down through this whole thing. That's gotten me concerned.

He had just left her for the night at the hospital. "Looks like you and me are both alone without our signifcant others, huh?"

"Yeah," I said. "I don't like it."

"I've been watching a lot of Rome," he said. "I always liked the series. I like how Marc Anthony is played, don't like much how they portray Caesar." He paused. "It helps me keep my mind off things."

I know how he feels. Thank God I have the play to keep me distracted.

I miss having Corb around.



"I'll talk to you today/tomorrow."

With Corb and I on different schedules now, that's how we tend to say goodbye nowadays. Between our sleep schedules and the eight hour difference in time, we tend to speak to each other around 11:30 or 12 midnight (when he is waking up and I am going to sleep) or at two in the afternoon (when I am at work and he is just going to bed). It's weird.

I think of all the animals, Ping is missing Corb the most. That makes sense, because Ping considers Corb to be her mom.

Every night when at bed time, she would cuddle next to him and lick her tail for about an hour, before jumping out of bed to terrorize the other cats (she is the smallest cat we have, but definitely rules the roost).

Without him around, you'd think she might try to snuggle up to me instead. However, she has decided I am a poor substitute. Instead, she has elected to stretch out on the floor next to our bed and do her thing. Here she is at bedtime last night. I think she's waiting for Corb to show up.


Tough night sleeping. I think I got four hours, maybe.

Corb flew off to Bulgaria yesterday. He texted me at one in the morning to tell me he reached London. Around seven this morning, he reached Bulgaria. He says it looks like Soviet Russia.

I miss him very much. 


A hot mess in the mess hall.

I hate this photo of me.

"Are you a gay couple?"

The one thing we didn't know much about when it came to being on a cruise involved the etiquette one observes when attending the dinners in the formal dining room. The first evening, when we found our assigned seat, we discovered we had been placed at a table holding eight. There was only one couple, an older man and women in their sixties, sitting at the every end of the table. He looked like George Bush, she looked like my mom. We didn't know better. We sat at the exact opposite end of the table and proceeded to ignore them the entire night.

"Are you a gay couple?"

The next evening, we discovered with great pleasure that the table was completely empty as we approached it. We immediately moved over to the seats that George and my mom had occupied the night before. They were plum spots. Right at the very end, by the windows, overlooking the water. I sat down in anticipation of a delicious meal served up by our waitress, a lovely lady from Kenya who had a broad smile and loved to contrict the food selctions recommended by the chef. We had also started to quiz her about her life back in Kenya (she has two kids and doesn't see them for seven months at a time), and I was looking forward to getting more information out of her.

And we were just about to get started on that, when a couple made their way to our table and sat down next to us. He was a nice enough gentleman, kind of non-descript, with a balding head and a short moustache. She had stringy blondish hair and a willowy build. Carried a glass of beer in one hand. And after we had exchanged pleasantries and ordered our meal, she turned to me, took a look at the Appletini in my hand, and asked...yes, you guessed it..

"Are you a gay couple?"

Hmmm. Well, I'm not used to being asked it quite like that, but I'm also not used to saying no. So I just smiled politely and said, "Yes. Yes we are."

A huge smile crossed her face. "Are you?" she asked, sweetly. Her voice had a hint of southern twang to it. "Well, I think that's just great. My son's gay, too. Has a boyfriend that is about ten years older than he is."

Oh, I thought to myself. This might be a nice conversation. How nice that she wants to open herself up about...

"He hates me!" she continued, her eyes widening. "He is HIV positive and a pagan. A pagan! And he has the nerve to go on Facebook and even though he knows I am a Christian, deeply conservative woman, he goes out of his way to offend my God and my beliefs and say the most mean, vile things, even though he knows that I might actually read therm. But tell me, how is your boyfriend's family about your relationship?"

Ummm... "We all get along really well," I replied. "His mother loves me. And my family loves him, even my ex-wife."

"Oh, you were married," she replied, and turned to order another ber from the waiter. "I was married, too."

I glanced over at the man next to her. "Oh, I didn't realize that--"

"Oh no, we've been together a few monthsm" she replied. "He's a genius! Recovers military equipment! But then, so's my son. Former military! Wrote ten symphonies before he graduated from high school! And now, because of this guy that he's with, he no longer writes any music at all. Oh, I just love my gay son. I love all of your kind. Tell me, do you get along with your ex-wife?"

I turned to Corb, who was engaged in conversation with her...boyfriend? I mean, I gues. Okay, no help there. "Yeah, we are great friends. I mean, she's the mother of my children, you know what I mean? And one of my best friends. Is that the way it is with your ex-husband?"

"Oh we get along as well as someone can with a former coke addict crack addict who lies and cheats and hates gay people more than my conservative evangelical family does. Even though his own son is gay. But of course,m he doesn't really know that, because he never sees him. He does see my daughter, though."

"Oh? You have a daughter?" I asked, brightening up, desperately trying to change the subject. "What's she like?"

"Stupid," she replied, and kind of laugh. "Not like my gay son. How's your family about you being gay?"

"Oh, they're fine with it," I replied. "My sister is gay, too, so it kind of runs in the family." I attempted a nervous laugh. "So I gues your family doesn't know...about your son..."

"If they did, they would kill him," she replied. "My father was a preacher all his life and would have disowned him. Of course, I hated my daddy. Didn't talk to him the last 15 years of his life, because he would always come around every Saturday for years and tell me how much I had disappointed him. Finally one day I snapped and told him he didn't need to come by any longer. That was it. Just like that! And when he was dying, my family told me I should go see him one last time, he wanted to see me, and I just said, 'Nope, I done said my peace with him 15 years ago. I don't need to say anything else.'" Then she turned and stared at Corb. "Is he always brooding like that?"


It went like that for the rest of the evening. Questions about being gay. We'd move back to her gay son. Family. Her deeply conservative background. Her God. My kind.

At the end of the evening, I gave her a great big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I thanked her for sitting with us that evening. "You know," she said, "I truly believe God plans for these type of chance encounters. He sat us together for a reason."

Well, wasn't that sweet?

I waited to say anything until we were away from the table. Out of the dining room. Close to our cabin. I know that Corb was waiting for something. Some word. Something.

"That was nice," I said, finally. "And I'll be damned if I'm going to sit with her ever again for the rest of this trip."

Corb smirked. He knew it! "But you two seemed to be getting along so well," he said, using his card key to open our door. "You even kissed her on the cheek."

"And I meant that! I meant the hug. It wasn't a bad conversation at all. I'm glad we spoke, actually. She's clearly looking for something and is troubled about her son and needed to speak to someone. Us? Me, I guess. And you, even if you are brooding. She's trying to evolve. I mean, that's clear. She doesn't mean to be offensive. And I would never want to be rude to her. I just don't ever want to sit next to her again. That's all."

I know, that sounds harsh. I'm not sure I can do justice to why I feel that way. I mean, you're on vacation, you know? You want to relax and get some rest. Have a lot of good food, enjoy the sites. Engage in meaningless small talk with strangers. Maybe, make plans with the one you love. Focus on a project or two.

She was a nice enough lady, but EXHAUSTING. How many more family secrets did I really want to dig up?

And besides that, how much more did I want to talk about being gay, to be honest? Believe it or not, straight lady, being gay and my relationship with Corb and how my ex-wife is about it and how my kids are about it and how my parents are about it is not something I need to discuss for hours on end.

I once had a friend at the last company I worked for who was chief legal counsel for one of the companies and was partnered to a brilliant, succesful artist. She was a fierce advocate for gay rights. People loved having her go places with her partner. But, a lot of times at dinners for the company she'd either get really drunk or skip them altogether. When asked why she skipped out, she'd sometimes say, "I wasn't in the mood to talk about being gay all night long."

It was fine for one night. For the other four nights of the trip? Look. A cruise only lasts so long, you no what I mean? I just didn't feel the need to go through that particular ringer for three more meals.

Post script: we had a lovely meal at an Asian restaurant the following evening, and then checked with our Kenyan friend the next two nights. The rest of our dinners were spent exchanging strictly small talk with complete strangers.

Just what the doctor ordered.


Bon voyage

Docked at one. Yeah, I think I can get used to this...


Snapshots from Green Victoria

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