Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Faerie Tales, Transformations and Music, part two

Continuing the story of Heather and Alex, Dreamweaver and I finally got a hold of the DVD of "Everafter", the DVD of Heather's farewell concert before transitioning. It was simply, totally amazing!

First of all, none of her fans knew ahead of time that Heather was going to do this. Here is how she handled the concert. As a faerie tale teller, she laid out the story that she was going to the Fae, in fairyland, to be granted a wish...a wish she had held in her heart for many years, but had given up on ever coming true. The faeries would grant her this transforming wish, and in her absence, her heir, Alexander James Adams would return to take over the music and her legacy. Through out the concert, hints came - such as before her song "Stolen Child" (a musical setting of William Butler Yeats poem) she said she has often heard the faeries inviting her to have a "wee dram"...which she has always turned down before, but she now might go try it. Think about it...every time she did a song, that was the last time that she as Heather would ever do that song for her fans, ever have that connection with her fans. She was saying goodbye forever as Heather, and her fans didn't even know it! And she had no way of knowing if her singing voice would survive the transition, so it could very well be the LAST concert for her ever. How she got through it I will never know. We know now that Alex emerged victorious, and the music is more alive then ever before...but Heather could not have known that then. And I have no doubt that it had reached the point for her that it was change everything, go for that final hope and wish, or die, if not literally, then spiritually inside! For me it's one of the most awesome stories of human courage I have ever known! At the end of the concert, she stepped through the curtain, presumably into the land of fairy...and was never seen again as Heather by any of her fans, or anyone else.

The more mundane backstory - altho just as transformative and magical - was that on her 40th birthday, some years ago, her friends took her skydiving. The exhilaration of the jump and the power of the experience restarted her life again. She had a brilliant career - 12 albums, world traveled - but her cocky powerful stage persona was a cover for her deep depression. A depression that anyone struggling with GID knows from the inside out. That jump out into the air at 15,000 feet re=ignited her joy and passion in life and she realized that making your dreams come true was possible...for a price. In this case a HUGE price...and she paid it, without knowing what the ultimate cost would be. And Alex came forth to take on the music career that Heather had bequeathed to him. Can you imagine the gamble...would his singing voice survive the transition? Or would the vocal part of his career be forever over? And you have to understand how distinctively powerful, unique and beautiful Heather's voice was to understand the horror of that risk and fear! Would the fanatic band of Heathers fan club, affectionately known as Heather Heathens - and I am one of 'em - stand by him and accept this transformation, or would he lose his whole fan base? Heather was married...and that came apart in flames and ashes, never to recover. ( the break up song she wrote for her former husband on her last album as Heather will tear your heart out! ) Well...it worked.Alex's voice survived beautifully...he is a glorious baritone now, altho his early concerts were a little rough for him as his voice was still dropping. Heather's fans have embraced him completely and have cheered his journey on! There are many, many comments on the fan forum on his website that say in effect, "God, we always knew there was something deeply sad and wrong in Heather's life, but now we know what it was and Alex is whole and happy and it's like he was there all along, just under Heather's skin, actually doing the song writing." (http://faerietaleminstrel.com/) His career has taken off again, and has released at least three new albums, "The Cat and the Fiddle", "Balance of Nature" and "A Winter's Tale", I wish to draw your attention to the third CD mentioned there..."A Winters Tale". This may be a first in transgender history. Before Heather "left for the Fairy lands" she recorded a Christmas / Winter Solstice CD (it's a mix of Christmas and Pagan music - you Christian Pagan readers take note! ) and she recorded the female vocals, leads and harmonies. Then, when Alex got back, he recorded the male vocals, leads and harmonies. The result is UNBELIEVABLE! On the cover of the CD, is a photoshopped picture of Heather and Alex leaning on either side of a huge tree together - they look like brother and sister - and the by-line on the CD is "A Winter's Tale; Heather Alexander and Alexander James Adams." They sound like a perfectly balanced singing duo! And it is beautiful! One of the most beautiful Christmas carols I have ever heard, which she...he...they wrote, is on there called "Unto Us a Child is born". I sat with tears running down my face listening to it. If you have a transgender shopping list for Christmas, go order this CD!!! "Unto Us a Child is Born" was written by Heather specifically for both Pagans and Christians after years of looking out over the audiences at concerts and seeing her fan base wearing Pentacles and Crosses seated side by side.

By the way... a funny point... the title of Alex's website, Faery Tale Minstral is a sly inside joke... F aery T ale M instral - FTM. Female to Male (transgender). Head-desk-thud. Excellent! LOL! So ends part two...part three will continue and conclude with the specific impact that Heather and Alex's story has had on my life. Coming soon...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Faerie Tales, Transformations and Music: Part One

Alright everyone,
Gather around the fire, friends for a faerie tale...

I refer to Heather Alexander…

…and James Alexander Adams.

Two wonderful musicians with something very much in common. Once upon a time, ( all good faerie tales start this way, right?)...

In the very early 90's, I spotted a CD in a store in the mall. The store was a Natural Wonders chain store, and back in their new age music selection was this CD that had a great painting of a redheaded girl strolling along a cliff with a fiddle and a back pack; the CD was called Wanderlust, and the singer/songwriter was Heather Alexander. On the strength of the CD art alone I bought this unheard and took it home. I was stunned by how good she was. Glorious contralto voice, fantastic guitar, bodhron, and fiddle, Celtic music themes and innovative original songwriting along fantasy and mythological lines...WOW!

I was an instant fan and stayed glued to her progress. She quickly became one of if not my favorite musician. She is virtually unknown out of her area which is west coast, San Francisco, and Oregon area The years passed...and the CD's kept coming. "Life's Flame", "Festival Wind", "A Gypsies Home", "Midsummer" and on and on. She kept getting better and I stayed enchanted with her music. My life underwent changes. My marriage broke up, I came Out, I endured one more break up, then met Dreamweaver (pausing momentarily for a heartfelt prayer of thanks for that one!) and Heather's music remained the background tapestry of my life's journey.

Two years ago, checking in at a convention at a dealers table for the latest on Heather's music, I heard the news that stopped me in my tracks...Heather had passed her musical legacy to another person who was taking over the website, the music and the concerts - named James Alexander Adams.

Say what?

Then the news went further... Heather had transitioned as a Female To Male transgender to BECOME Alex! Say WHAT!?!?

Needless to say, my jaw dropped. I have to admit, I didn't know whether to cheer his courage or mourn her voice! How was the music going to survive? (it did settle one thing for me...the few pictures I had seen of Heather - which had a slight resemblance to me. the red hair of course, and the Scots descent and pay attention to this, we'll return to this in a minute - had twigged my gaydar, and Gender Identity Disorder will show up, fuzzily, and confuse my gaydar. Evidently even across fuzzy 2D photography, the hint of the transgender was there.)

So there I stood, totally shocked and wondering what had happened and how the music was to survive...and more, how was Alex surviving the change?

And thus ends part one...yes it's a cliff hanger. There WILL be a part two or more coming up.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hard news to share...the passing of Marco

Dreamweaver chronicled some of this on her blog, too, but I also wish to speak of Marco, a precious gray and white cat that we have lost. In the picture to the left he is the cat on the right, on the left is his litter mate, Legba. This picture of them was taken last week before Marco went on walk-about one last time. Marco was born about 8-9 years ago, when Luna and I shared a house and had very little financially to be able to get cats fixed. There were a number of litters born, and many of them carried this characteristic grey and white color and pattern marking. They were all affectionate, loyal, sturdy and maybe not too bright. Marco was probably in the second or third generation of greyboys born, and I held him in my hand when he was less than half an hour old. When Dreamweaver had to move in with us for a while when she came to the area from another city, Marco adopted her hook, line and sinker. He squirmed his way into her heart and her room and announced this was his person and went with her when she found her new home.

Later, when I moved in with Dreamweaver 6 years ago, of course, Marco and I were reunited!Then he discovered the joy of the out of doors, and took to being a get-out-the-door cat. Eventually his wanderings grew longer and further away. Then came a long gap where we did not see him. When Marco turned up again a year or so later, he wore a collar and was fat and sassy. He had evidently charmed his way into yet another home! Over the 6 years we have been here, he showed up two or three times, would get fed and petted and then disappear again. We missed him sorely, but we honored that he had chosen a new home.

Until last fall. In September, Dreamweaver was going out the door at 4:30 am to leave for work, and when she opened the door, there was Marco. I was wakened to find her standing by the bed holding him in her arms; he was desperately sick and dying. He was dehydrated, starved, emaciated and crusted with snot, virtually unable to breathe. We only recognized him by his distinctive markings, which included a white spot on his right hip. Needless to say, I took him straight to the vet and was there at the door when they opened. The dr. was concerned, ran tests, gave me meds and an IV water drip to take home and frankly did not expect him to live. While at the vet, Marco endearingly climbed onto my back and shoulders while we were waiting for the dr., put his chin on the top of my head, heaved a deep sigh and began purring. I was sort of stuck there, since he was dug into my shirt with his claws. The vet and vet assistants thought he was adorable and took a picture before rescuing me!

It took a few days of giving him meds, hand feeding him, and administering fluids by IV, but finally he responded to the meds and began to eat and drink on his own. One further round of antibiotics to get the last of the congestion cleared up and he defied the vets dire predictions and began to gain weight and thrive.

He happily reintegrated into the house, reforged his old bond with us, slept on the water bed at night with us, reconnected with his old cat friends, especially his litter mate, Legba. Marco loved to be petted, and would plop onto his side, all paws up to be chin skritched and belly rubbed at the slightest excuse. We could only speculate on why he came home in such horrible shape, when he was obviously being loved and cared for at his other home. Our conjecture was that maybe they had moved and been forced to abandon him, or not been able to find him in time? We will probably never know. And yes...he did resume his old dash out the door to run outside pattern, which distressed us at first. However, short of duct taping him to a wall, there was not much to be done with him - he was fast enough that I would call it teleporting! However, while he loved to play catch me if you can, he never wandered off again, clearly having chosen to return to us permanently. Eventually, I discovered that if you didn't chase him around like a maniac, but sat down and "ignored" him, in about less than two minutes he would come tail waving to be picked up and petted! What Marco wanted was the thrill and attention of being chased!

However, this last weekend, in the confusion of the crowd sleeping over for the funeral, Marco slipped out again, and stayed gone a for a week. We wondered if the confusion had been a little too much and if he had decided to see if his "other home" was still there. All we could do was hope he would return; both Dreamweaver and I separately drove and walked around neighborhoods looking for him. Until last night. My neighbor across the way knocked on my door while Dreamweaver was on the way home. Shaken and concerned, she told me that there was a dead cat at her place and she was afraid it was one of mine. My heart sank. "What does the cat look like? I asked. "He's grey and white..." she said, and my heart broke.

Sure enough it was him - the while mark on his hip and the distinctive pattern of grey and white. Evidently he had gone to sleep that afternoon in her yard in the sun by the porch, and simply never waked up again. He had not been hit, or savaged by another animal, no sign of poison, nothing. He lay just as he had been, asleep. We suspect that his heart gave out. He was close to on to 9 years old, and the grey boy cats of his generation had, due to some inbreeding, a tendency to a heart condition. He was not the first one to go of heart failure. We are devastated. We have had too damn many losses too close together and we simply don't quite know what to do. However, he had a full long life, he was loved and happy. He died peacefully evidently in his sleep at a full age. While we deeply regret having so little time with him, due to his wandering ways, we are so grateful that we had him back the last 9 months before he passed.

I wasn't ready for you to go Marco. It's gonna take a long, long time to grieve you. I love you, and I look forward to being reunited with you in the Summerlands someday and see you coming towards me, grey tail waving, to get your chin skritched and your belly rubbed. I held you in my hands just minutes after you were born, when you were a little scrap of hissing white and grey fur....likewise I will hold you in my heart, until we meet again, little brother.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Different Look at Farrah...

We all know that Farrah Fawcett passed away today. There are tons of red swimsuit pictures, references to Charlies Angels, occasional mention of some of her Emmy nominated work, and a lot of the discussion of the 70's all over the place. If you squint real hard and you don't let yourself blink, the word Sculpture goes by, as in "Sculpture major in college before she..." and then mention of a collaboration with another prominant artist. His show, and works get the most coverage. So...what you aren't seeing is that she was an accomplished sculptor, who continued in her art her whole life. Let the picture of her work here speak for itself. An artist has passed. Maybe someday the world will catch up to the fact.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bearcub: A Cat in Crisis...

Bearcub as a very small kitten

We have a beautiful tabby cat named Bearcub. He came into our lives because, on his way to the pound (taken by one of Dreamweaver's coworkers at her previous job) he cried and squirmed his way into her her heart. At 7 am in the morning the phone rings in my ear and before she can say anything, there is this little "meow" over the phone. Dreamweaver says "Um...Cameron..." and I sighed and said "I will be right there." as I pulled on my clothes. There are some fates that cannot and should not be fought - that Bearcub was to come into our lives was one of them. So here is Bearcub on his first day home being utterly totally tiny and adorable.

And lo, he grew into a happy (slightly bigger) kitten and was everything he should be...fearless, happy, bonded to his people, and totally relaxed with his environment...did I mention relaxed...

Bearcub is now an enormous muscular young cat edging up on a year old. He is an accomplished egg hockey player (Egg Hockey definition - when your cats decide that plastic Easter Eggs are the worlds best ever toys, and create a game out of them...under the guest bathroom door appears to be the goal. Every so often we fish out the eggs piling up under there and it starts over again.) Bearcub is handsome and still fearless and sweet as can be. His best four legged friend is MacDhu the dog.

And he even slid one over on us and managed to get the last unfixed female cat in the house *ahem* with child the week before he got fixed at 6 months. Suprisingly unlike most love 'em and leave 'em male cats, he not only has a continuing bond with Marmalade, the mamma cat, he is also a very caring papa who loves his son Firedancer very much. He grooms him, they cat-nap together, he gently plays with Firedancer and appears to be teaching him the rudiments of egg hockey.

However, Bearcub is now a cat in crisis.

He has one small quirk...t-shirt sheets. As a little baby (see the first picture above) he was still in the suckling stage, and promptly wanted to suck on my t-shirt. I gently discouraged this because the suction was rather intense - I have an "inny" belly button, not an "outy" and I wanted it to stay that way. Almost all the sheets we own are soft t-shirt material sheets, rather than regular cotton, and he transfered this habit to the sheet on the bed. Ok. Fair enough. (I thought.) He'll grow out of it. (I thought) Now he is this heavy giant of a cat that every night runs into the bedroom when I go to bed, and leaps onto my chest (Him: *loud thump* Purrrrr! Me: "OOF!!!"). He then sprawls out - and thats rather a lot of sprawl at this point - and he sucks happily away on the sheet, doing the kitty bread thing with his paws. Usually he will trance out and fall asleep there with me - which is rather nice and companionable. Sometimes he bounces up afterwards and runs off to play egg hockey. This leaves me with a line of soggy cold wet cat spit soaked sheet to work around which is not so companionable.
Here is the current crisis which began yesterday...Dreamweaver changed the bedding and for the first time in years put on plain cotton sheets. Not t-shirt sheets. I got to bed last night and Bearcub comes charging up onto the bed, leaps onto my chest ("Oof!) and suddenly stops cold. He sniffs the sheet. He paws at it. He stands bolt upright obviously distressed. He sniffs around the bed frantically, leaps from one side to the other, sniffing and begining distressing little mewp sounds (how Dreamweaver slept through this is beyond me!) and finally, ignoring me trying to reach out to him and help, ran off into the living room for the rest of the night. He had no t-shirt sheets! The world had come to an end as he knew it!

Now, while it was nice to sleep unhampered by a cat-spit soaked sheet, I admit I was rather concerned for him and distressed myself. So when Dreamweaver got up at the ungodly middle of the night hour that she must do so to go to work, I woke up enough to groggily inform her of the crisis and the cat. She got one of the t-shirt sheets out of the cabinet, and tossed it to me and I pulled it up to my chest...INSTANTANEOUS Bearcub! He must have heard the cabinet door or he has a 6th sense for t-shirt sheets, but he came flying into the bedroom, leaped for the bed and plopped down on the t-shirt sheet as I spread it out. (*thump* Purrrr! Oooof) and began happily suckling away. He weighs a ton. The sheet is getting soggy. But he and I are happy and all is well.

So for a few days we will have to have an auxillery sheet for our crisis cat until we change the bedding again. What would we do without him? I leave you with a picture him and Firedancer - Father and Son.

It's getting late, and I have to set up the sheet....

And Now for Something Completely Different...

This was written by my friend Skeptic - a person of much originality it must be said. I share here that all may be (ahem) up lifted....

How farts are like hope--

1. May not truly be appreciated except by its originator.
2. Can be long-lasting, but also tend to dissipate over time.
3. Some are secret, some everybody knows about.
4. Some seem destined to catch fire.
5. Can be more than just fleeting - they can produce results that are visible, durable, and tenacious.
6. Can usually be expressed only around closest friends and family.
7. May pop out unexpectedly.
8. Not easy to repress once you think about it.
9. Can awaken you in the middle of the night with a deadly urgency.
10. Can make you realise you have a hard job ahead of you.

In our own back yard!!!!

No trouble at gay rights march, despite protests
City's first gay rights march draws crowd along with protesters

Tim Kimzey/tim.kimzey@shj.com
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A few hundred people participated in the Gay Pride March held in downtown Spartanburg, Saturday morning. Eight area churches and other individuals protested the event, the first of its kind held in the city.
By Craig Peterscraig.peters@shj.com
Published: Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 3:15 a.m. Last Modified: Sunday, June 21, 2009 at 12:06 a.m.
Signs, songs and shouts from the streets and sidewalks of downtown Spartanburg Saturday offered opposing perspectives, but organizers and police said the city's first gay pride march went smoothly.
More Photos:
Gay Pride March
The Upstate Pride March and Festival featured a 1-mile route that started and ended at Unitarian Universalist Church on Henry Place and included guest speakers and musicians. Marchers included gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning persons, as well as heterosexuals that are referred to as straight allies.
PK Weiss, a member of the church, helped organize the event and participated with her husband, mother-in-law and children.
"Some said we couldn't do it. Some said we shouldn't do it. But we at Upstate Pride said it must be done and did it," Weiss told the crowd after the march.
Weiss said she originally hoped for 50 participants. Spartanburg Public Safety Director Tony Fisher estimated that 400 marched and another 300 people lined the sidewalks, mostly to protest.
"It was an amazing turnout," Weiss said. "It was beyond our wildest expectation. Our marchers handled it the way we instructed them to, with very little engagement (of protesters). Our crowd was fun and upbeat."
Fisher said he was "very proud" of the behavior of marchers and protesters alike.
"At some point in life you have to have respect for other folks' opinions, understand the passion behind those opinions and stay within reasonable boundaries," Fisher said. "That's what happened here today. People on both sides expressed themselves, for the most part, in a very respectful tone."
Marchers held signs that read "equal rights not special rights" and "value all families," sang "This Little Light of Mine" and chanted "two, four, six, eight, God does not discriminate."
Protesters held signs that read "God hates sins but loves the sinner" and "sodomy is not a family value." Some shouted as the marchers walked by, but many simply remained silent. One group of protesters from Polk County, N.C., sang "Room at the Cross for You."
One marcher said to a friend, "I wonder if the protesters actually think they're going to change someone's mind?" The friend replied, "Yeah, but they could say the same of us."
Roberta Dunn, a pre-operative transgendered man who is a self-described devout Christian who reads the Bible daily and claims to be "politically right of Rush Limbaugh" came from Mooresville, N.C., to march. Ten years into his heterosexual marriage, Dunn told his wife he always felt more like a woman. Dunn's wife, the mother of his children, bought him wigs and female clothing and they have been married 15 more years.
Larry Candler of Greenville and his wife participated in the march to show support for their two gay sons and one lesbian daughter. Candler said one of their sons hid three notes at age 11 that said he was gay, and one note was found when the son was 15. Candler said he and his wife did not have an immediate positive response, but now support their children's sexuality. Candler said he hopes homosexual couples attain rights and benefits that heterosexual married couples enjoy.
Joseph Vita sat on his horse, Leviticus, near the start of the parade. Vita, who came to the Fountain Inn/Laurens areas from Connecticut about two months ago, quietly passed out copies of John and Romans and a passage from Leviticus.
Greg Owens of Rutherfordton, N.C., and a member of Landrum Independent Baptist Church was loudly protesting on Henry Street. One marcher brought him a flower and offered to trade him for a an index card that referenced scriptures. Owens discarded the flower a few steps later and said he doesn't believe gays should use flowers or rainbows for symbols.
Minor dispute
One minor dispute occurred near the beginning of the march when protesters from Mountain View Baptist Church in Cowpens attempted to leave the spot for which they were permitted and walk along the sidewalk with the marchers.
Fisher allowed the protesters to move along the route to another location because he said they were not being disruptive.
Mountain View pastor Steve Griffith said the protesters "agreed to get a permit, but didn't agree not to use the public sidewalk."
Others lined the sidewalk in support of the marchers. Diane Maybin and Sylvia Johnson said sexuality is an individual choice and they support equal rights. Construction workers like Shane Nations of Chesnee who are remodeling the Hot Spot stopped and watched the march near its end. Nations said he believes "everyone's got a right to be happy, as long as they don't encroach on anyone else."
Spartanburg-based Truth Ministry hosted an event at First Baptist North Spartanburg an hour before the march and issued a news release opposing a "society that not only accepts homosexuality, but openly and proudly promotes it."
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Done and over and yet not over....

For anyone who is checking in to read, I am going to be a good girl today and work on my school work...since one of the assignments involves a composition, I may post it here later just to show what I am working on. Briefly....
The funeral is over, everyone has begun to scatter to their homes. Some are staying for a week. Priestess has several friends, her "brother" Trueheart, Misbehavin' and her sister continuing to be with her as of now. Christian Mystic was able to give good advise re: Social Security issues, Fiber Geek solved computer problems, Dreamweaver and all involved did housework -the house is cleaned, Priestess' meditation altar room is cleared and reset, and decisions are being made regarding possessions and keep sakes. And there is a ton of food in the house, sent by many, which is good, since it was much needed!
Dream Weaver and I are arranging our schedules to spend time with Priestess every week and see what continuing needs she may have.
When I pulled into the driveway Sunday night at 2:00 AM after taking Christian Mystic home to GA, I checked the odometer - I had done over 600 miles and crossed state lines 4 times in 24 hours. I was exhausted and spent Monday being courted by a migraine. (I keep telling it "No!" and sending back the flowers...)
The funeral was an abbreviated Episcopal funeral, which brought comfort to the family - and left a great many pagans squirming in frustration and puzzlement. We will be having our own "funeral" near Samhain for Truth Teller's Pagan community. Funerals are for the living. Truth Teller has already the celebration he needs - he came to the Summer Lands at Solstice, or to Heaven, and runs free of illness and pain there, reunited with his stepdaughter and grandmother and any others who have preceded him. However, the Episcopal funeral was well done, and dignified - Truth Teller would have approved, I think. (having been to a funeral that came very close to me assaulting the minister afterwards with violence due to the insult of the service, Father Cameron was no problem and kind and gracious to all of us. I'll tell the tale of the other funeral another time)
As I am an Episcopalian, the service also meant a great deal to me, as I was familiar with the form - it was an abbreviated version, as there was no eulogy, and no Eucharist. But that was ok - I'm not sure that the family needed to go through a lengthy service. They played Truth Teller out with Amazing Grace on the Bagpipes, played by one of the local pipe band - and that touched all of us deeply, profoundly and primally regardless of creed or belief!
Any and all who read this, blessed be and thanks for all the energy and prayers! You have honored my friend in his passing and given help to his community as we continue to care for his family. Thank you far more than words can say!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In Memorium for TruthTeller

Years ago when I met Truthteller, our beloved friend who passed away this morning), his wife Priestess and another friend of ours who is of the Voudon faith, encountered a really WEIRD ring that Priestess inherited from her grandfather. The ring was...cursed? Haunted? Basically, it wasn't nice. How they got rid of it is a story unto itself. I wrote a ballad about the event...and it gives you a very clear picture of Truthteller and who and what he was at his best.I am including the ballad here...the rythym and rhyme scheme makes sense when you hear the tune. (I did not write the music. Music by Leslie Fish and kudos to anyone who recognizes THAT name!) I don't attest to my song writing abilities, but I do vow and swear that every word is true. I share it in memory of my friend Truthteller. (oh...and the line about Holy ground...there are 3 churches in town that have NO clue about just WHAT is in their adjacent graveyards! ROFL!)

In the song, Priestess is the Witch, the friend, Misbehavin', is the Priestess, and Truthteller is the "Technomage" .

Three’s – The One Ring Version
( A True Story)
Words by Cameron, Music by Leslie Fish

A witch once had an unknown ring
Passed down through years untold.
A legacy of distant shores
From a grandfather grown old.
No one was left alive to date
To tell about this ring.
But the antics it got up to showed
It was no normal thing…
Three things to be wary of:
Strange disciplines unknown,
Anything your cat avoids,
And a weird ring in your home !

The ring was old and different
Marked numbers one through nine.
It’s sigils strange and metal bright
Could not be brought to mind.
It disappeared quite frequently,
Refusing to be found,
Then returned across the miles unknown,
By magic strange unbound…
Three things never trust in:
That which chills you to the bone,
The dark that will not answer,
The inheritance unknown !

What’s worse the ring would whisper soft,
To those quite unaware.
“Put me on,” it would insinuate
“Your finger is quite bare.”
And once upon the finger there,
It then would choose to stay.
As dread crept up the wearer’s spine
At the power on display…
Three things are most dangerous:
Knowledge not in check,
The power of an untrained fool,
And a dark ring with a hex !

The witch decided to confer
With her friend about this ring.
Her friend, a Voodun priestess, was
Unfazed by anything.
But the ring it caught her unaware
And pulled its little act.
Setting off alarms that warned
This was a dark attack…
Three things scream of danger:
The trap that’s set to spring,
Your instincts when they’re sounding,
And the cold waves from this ring !

The two friends knew they faced a fight,
And grimly waded in.
But nothing that they tried or did,
Affected anything.
Baffled by the ring’s dark force,
They looked and this they scryed.
Nine souls there bound in anguish,
Their deep power undenied…
Three things never changing:
Old time’s relentless turns.
The threat of death and taxes,
And the lust for life that burns !

The priestess and the witch sat down,
To try to think this through,
The ring refused to be unmade,
Despite all they could do.
“If a hobbit should come knocking,
”The priestess halfway laughed,
“He can have the ring for all I care,
I’m going out the back!”
Three things are always lasting…
A friend that’s proven true,
A dry sharp sense of humor,
And that good will yet win through !

At that moment came a cheery voice,
“Hello,” they heard it call,
The witch’s husband came on in,
Briefcase and coat and all.
The technomage with computer toys,
Was done with work this week.
All set to play with gadgets now;
Homeward came the geek…
Three things see no ending:
Computer toys galore,
Technologies advancements,
And that he will want one more !

He heard their tale of woe
And then he looked upon the ring.
He got inspired, his eyes shown bright,
“I know what’s just the thing!”
He came back trailing wiring,
And electrodes on the floor.
He dumped this tangle on the ground,
And said “There’s one thing more.”
Three things never fail you:
That reflex in your knee,
The laws of science working,
And a DieHard battery !

He hooked the jumper cables,
To the ring in all its pride.
Diehard stood true and ready,
At the witch and priestess’s side.
Electricity came coursing,
And the ring began to scream.
Battered by this force of which
It had never dreamed…
Three things are always ending:
The night when dawn is past,
The darkest spell when broken,
And this ring’s strange life at last !

The ring is dead and silent now,
Nine souls released at last.
Divided into pieces,
Into Holy ground they’re cast !
The witch’s power freed the souls,
Priestess had its evil blocked,
But the technomage, he saved the day,
He thought outside the box…
Three things here have triumphed,
The priestess in her power,
The witch’s craft and courage,
The technomage’s finest hour !

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Truthteller's Final Journey

There is a journey that comes to us all, to leave this life for the next. My friend Truthteller is walking the ending of the Labyrinth of this life. He is now, in the hospital in Pallative care - no further treatments, fluids or Dialysis. He is resting in the arms of his wife, Priestess, and in the arms of Deity.
He is a man of many strengths, and many quirks - he probably has the Olympic gold medal as the world pickiest eater. He could be harsh and quick to speak without thinking, some times. He did not take as good care of his body and it's medical needs as perhaps he should have. He was also humble, gentle, utterly ethical and utterly truthful. If at times he stuck his foot in his mouth, he was also quick to apologize and make things right in utter sincerity. He would tell you always what needed to be said, when you needed to hear it, which wasn't always comfortable, but was always a treasured blessing. He is - is, for he is still with us - a computer geek of the highest degree, and kept many, many of his friends computers up and running when no one else could make anything work. When my computer crashed and ate 2 portfolios, all the pictures for the portfolios and all the class notes for the two classes the week before they were due, Truthteller put in a great deal of time on my computer and when it surpassed even his magical skills, he allowed me the use of his copier to reconstruct the assignments in time.
Years ago when Priestess' daughter, Butterfly, was struck down with leukemia, he gave them unconditonal shelter, and love and care, until Butterfly passed herself to the other side at age 19.
The words that sum up Truthteller are that he has a generous truthful heart like few of us have ever seen.
We will miss him profoundly on this side of the veil, until we take our own final journeys to catch up with him.
Go with God, my dear friend...may your passing now be painfree, fearless and wondrous, and may Butterfly meet you on the other side. Know that Priestess will NOT be left alone or uncared for, for we will all be there for her, always. That is my solomn promise to you. Truthteller, I will miss you, until we meet again.

It's getting scary....

Below is an AP article about increase violence against Gays - it should be more appropriately stated as GLBT's, as trans are mentioned too. It is sobering to read....
Of course, part of the increase in violence against the GLBT community and individuals is perhaps a signal of how much change and affect we are causing and seeing. If we were keeping our heads down, and not moving forward in what I suspect will become known in years hence as our period of Civil Rights movement, then I am sure there would be less upheaveal - both because societies paradigms would not be challenged and because there would be less reporting of violence.

So, it is a time of conflict, change and upheaval. And there have been deaths. I am afraid that this summer's Gay Pride season may be marred by violence and I am praying that we don't see the level of violence seen in Selma and Montgomery in the 50's and 60's begin to occur.

I saw May Lin's Water Table at Civil Right's Memorial Center in Montgomery Alabama with the names of those who died, and catastrophic events egraved upon it.

I pray that when the day comes that a GLBT memorial to our time of change is created that there will not be too many horrors carved in blood upon it's surface...the list is already too long as it is!

Group: Gay Bias Killings Highest Since 1999

AP Associated Press
By MARCUS FRANKLIN, Associated Press Writer Marcus Franklin, Associated Press Writer – Tue Jun 16, 2:29 pm ET

NEW YORK – The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people killed in bias-motivated incidents increased by 28 percent in 2008 compared to a year ago, according to a national coalition of advocacy groups.
Last year's 29 killings was the highest recorded by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs since 1999, when it documented the same number of slayings, according to a report released Tuesday by the coalition.
"What we're also seeing, more disturbingly, is the increase in the severity of violence," said Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which coordinates coalition.
Stapel theorized that at least some of last year's violence was backlash against issues that arose during the during the presidential campaign. She cited debates about same-sex marriage, the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as possible flash points.
"The more visibility there is the more likely we're going to see backlash, and that's exactly what we see here," Stapel said.
Overall, the number of victims who reported anti-LGBT violence in 2008 increased by two percent compared to 2007, said the New York-based coalition of programs in 25 states.
Coalition officials say their figures are more accurate than those from law enforcement agencies. As an example, they say, the FBI doesn't record bias crimes against transgender people because gender identity isn't covered by federal hate-crime law.
Also, victims sometimes are reluctant to report bias incidents to police because they don't want to reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity and/or they fear bias from police, officials said.
Reports of physical abuse by police increased to 25 incidents last year from 10 in 2007, the report said.
For the new report, programs in Milwaukee, Minnesota, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, Houston, Pennsylvania, New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, Michigan and San Francisco submitted data.
Programs in Vermont and the Boston area participated in the 2007 report but not the current one. The program in Rochester, N.Y., participated in 2008 for the first time.
The largest increase — 64 percent — was in Milwaukee, where the number of reported incidents rose to 18 in 2008 from 11 in 2007, the report said.
Officials weren't sure whether reported increases were attributable to more people reporting incidents or an actual rise.
Meighan Bentz, a victim outreach advocate at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, which includes an anti-violence project, said, "I think it's a combination."
"Certainly there are more people reporting," Bentz said, adding that the project started in 2005. "As time goes on there are more people aware of our program as a resource."
Bentz added, "I do believe there are ongoing issues of violence and its affect upon LGBT individuals. It's a vulnerable population."
Many of 2008's incidents made headlines.
In December, a man was beaten to death in New York City while he walked arm in arm with his brother as their attackers yelled anti-gay and anti-Latino epithets. Two men have been charged with murder as a hate crime.
In February 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence King was shot to death at school in Oxnard, Calif., near Malibu after enduring harassment after he told classmates he was gay; a classmate is charged as an adult in the killing, which prosecutors classified as a hate crime.
Last June, a surveillance tape was publicized showing Memphis, Tenn., police officers beating Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman, and shouting slurs in a jail booking area; a public outcry erupted.
In November, Johnson was found fatally shot on a Memphis street.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Second Road Trip

The Second Road Trip –

I am calling this the Second Road trip because in many ways it bookends the road trip from several years ago that we made in a mad scramble to see DreamWeaver’s oldest son get married in Jefferson City. Missouri, and the two trips are both similar, and yet very different. Three years ago we were suddenly contacted by DreamWeaver’s oldest son, The Marine – after a five year estrangement - and asked to attend his wedding. He called on a Monday – the wedding was that Friday!!! We had very little money and almost no hope of making it. Nor were we particularly welcome to be present, both because of anger and tension between DreamWeaver’s ex-husband that has existed for years, and because we are gay. But we went.
For that wedding. we drove 1700 miles from South Carolina in a roughly three days round trip and were present for The Marine and Patience’s wedding. It was wonderful and devastatingly heartbreaking, as we were excluded from almost everything and only had what part we did because the bride’s family stepped in and made a place for us over the anger and rejection of DreamWeaver’s ex. We found out early this year that her second son, The Enlightened One was getting married in Arkansas, a week after his college graduation. And so began the second great road trip. In this case, we had months of knowing in advance. We also heard obliquely through Patience, The Marine's Wife, that we were once again not wanted. And yet we received an invitation in the mail from The Enlightened One and The Scientist. And some things NEVER change – we were still flat broke. So…road trip on!
The first huge hurdle, since The Enlightened One and The Scientist were getting married a week after his graduation was our own school schedule. DreamWeaver is in graduate school, I am an undergrad. The vagaries of college scheduling meant that we were going to have to leave before the week of our exams to get there. So we spent all semester planning with our teachers to take our exams and final projects early and scrambling to make it happen.
Then there is the fact that DreamWeaver’s parents live in Arkansas, only a few hours away from the wedding and DreamWeaver had not seen her parents in 12 years. Any trip to Arkansas had to include time with them. They are in their 70’s and their health is poor. Time was not on her side in this. Also, DreamWeaver’s relationship with her parents is very strained. Her mother has had paranoid schizophrenia all her life. DreamWeaver’s childhood was extremely difficult and abusive due to her mother’s illness and her father’s ineffectual struggle to manage the scenario. She does not have happy memories of her past or a comfortable relationship with her parents and this translated into the feel of returning to the lions den. And none of the family scenarios mentioned above are particularly accepting of homosexuality.
The Marine has rejected his mother because she is gay and has cut her off from her grandchildren. Her ex-husband despises her anyway (the custody battles were epic. There is a law in the state of Arkansas that says that a restraining order to keep a parent from their kids may not be served on school property. That law exists BECAUSE of DreamWeaver and what happened to her! That should give an idea of how bad things got!); he also is very homophobic, so add that into the mix.
DreamWeaver’s Father is a retired Church of Christ preacher whose extremely conservative website once had a page of anti-gay rant on it. We were hearing NOTHING from The Enlightened One and The Scientist, beyond the invitation itself, and getting phone calls from Patience warning us that we were not wanted and to expect to sit in the back if I came with DreamWeaver at all. We were also going to try to see DreamWeaver’s best friend from high school, who wanted to see DreamWeaver, but had written her an “I don’t approve of gays, but I love you anyway” letter. It was shaping up to be a really interesting week....
But we went. We were pretty stone broke, so by pinching every penny in sight, and some charitable help from friends, we arranged to camp out for a week on the campsite at a gorgeous lake, a few miles from where DreamWeaver’s parents live. My car could not make it – the transmission would never make it up in the Arkansas foothills of the Ozarks – we would have had to bury it on the side of the mountain roads up there! Translation – we went in DreamWeaver’s little compact Honda, instead of my station wagon. And her Honda is a gear shift. Have I mentioned that before this trip I could not drive a stick? Have spent most of the spring stalling out the Honda on hills and in parking lots and swearing a lot, but I got to where I could drive it pretty well. We got down to a few weeks before the trip. School was insane.

We finally heard from The Enlightened One, and made arrangements to spend Wednesday with him and The Scientist before the wedding, but had no idea even then what our reception with them was going to be like. We got down to the day to leave, with me sweating out a vicious take home exam in Art History that held us up several hours and that we had to drop off at the school on the way out of town. The car was absolutely STUFFED – I maintain firmly that my dear sweet DreamWeaver over packed just a wee bit. Ahem. Anyway… off down the road we went on Saturday the 9th.We stopped over night in Atlanta and stayed with friends (family to us – Cat’s son Little Raven is our god-son) and that was wonderful. Sunday night we camped out in Mississippi in a state park. And here came the true test of any relationship. Setting up a tent together for the first time. LOL! Actually, it went very well. The weather was not great, drippy and cloudy, but the tent was new and dry and the air mattress well made and we discovered that we camp very well together. So onward we went the next morning. That was where the first fun digression occurred.
We were in Olive Branch, Miss. when we spotted the used bookstore…U-turn! It was a goofy thing to do, but we had promised ourselves that we were on a vacation for us irregardless of family drama, and well, a used bookstore is one of those irresistible things. Ten pounds of books later we were happily back on the road assured of reading material at the camp for the week. No such thing as too many books! (And the prices in that bookstore were exceptional – we barely spent any money! Too bad it’s in Mississippi…or maybe that’s a good thing!)Then we crossed into Arkansas, in the lower part to drive up to the foothills of the Ozarks. It was flat. For miles. Nothing but flat. And flooded fields that might eventually become cotton, soybeans or rice. MILES of fields. Did I mention it was flat? The occasional battered house with 3 even more battered trailers behind it for the successive generations as they married out of high school and moved in behind mom and dad. More wet flooded fields. NO restaurants, few towns and few gas stations. Tons of tiny little Church of Christ churches. More flat fields. Now, I am a mountain girl, from the foothill piedmont of SC and real mountains are less than an hour away heading into NC from where I live. So this became progressively more and more alarming and depressing for me. The Church of Christ presence wasn’t very reassuring either, particularly since they are pretty violently homophobic and I am kinda hard to miss – it’s that flashing dyke sign over my head.
We went through the town where DreamWeaver grew up, and apologies to any Arkansans on the list, but things did not improve. To my eyes, there appeared to be a great deal of bitter poverty, no middle class, and some extreme wealth at the very top, in a very sparse population base. We were no where near Hot Springs or Little Rock where civilization begins, so I admit I was probably not seeing the state in the best light. But it was spooky all the same. Passed a huge billboard that said in 3 foot high letters, “If you love your children, use the rod!” and quoted the pertinent scripture verse. Out of the blue, just sitting by open fields. Down right alarming!But at last we began to climb into the upper part of the state and got into the foothills of the Ozarks! Beautiful, beautiful country! Wow! HOWEVER…similar dynamics prevailed up there. If anything the dichotomy was even worse – extreme wealth, or deep poverty. Nothing in between.
We reached our home sweet home for the week on the beautiful lake there and got a campsite right on the lake. It was well before the season started and we were the only tent campers in the park. Arkansas has had a lot of rain lately…our campsite that was about 5 feet above the waterline was 8A. Campsites 7A though 1A were *ahem* underwater! We could just make out the outline of the table in site 7 beyond us below the surface of the water. Wow. So we pitched our tent, got unpacked (which is where I began to suspect we were a lil’ over packed) and went to see DreamWeaver’s parents.This is where we encountered the first blessing of the trip. We did not know exactly what to expect. DreamWeaver’s mom might be fine, or not, or we might see them once and then only see DreamWeaver’s dad after that if Mom was shook up by the visit, or we might not see them again, period. We just didn’t know. Well, they met us on the porch all smiles and hugged us both! DreamWeaver’s mom called me her other daughter, and her dad was just elated we were there. They were both delighted and talkative and Mom was really engaged and connected with us and with reality! They fed us dinner and then we visited.
The only downside to the first evening was that Dad, whom we knew was a conservative old coot, turned out to be more of a right wingnut than we had anticipated and there were some very strained moments as we listened to him rant. And the man is obsessed with politics, conspiracy theories and his own heroic – in his eyes – stand against the evils of the world. Ooof. I swear he made my dad look like a liberal. But we just kinda nodded and changed subjects as we could and enjoyed everything else about the visit.Tuesday morning we went back over to her parents to help her dad get his old car down to a dealership and sell it, since mom does not drive. We thought we were going to be just us and dad; however, Mom met us at the steps with him and came with us, as happy as could be, which was wonderful – although I think her dad was a bit miffed over not having DreamWeaver to himself at the start. At the dealership, while dad haggled (and they made no gain off him!)DreamWeaver and mom got to visit. I hovered in the background and listened and it was a very moving conversation.
Mom was very open about the progression of her illness, and her meds and how the schizophrenia has impacted her life. Realize that she had been a school teacher with several degrees and certified to teach 7 subjects, specializing in math. To DreamWeaver’s dismay, her mom sadly admitted that she can no longer really read much or even do basic math because of meds and damage from the illness. And her Mom KNOWS what she has lost. It was very sad, and yet she was cheerful and delighted to be with her daughter and it was a deeply moving conversation to see between the two of them.After dad finished skinning the dealership, they wanted to take us out to lunch…which turned out to be miles away, up and over and around the Ozark foot hills to this little tiny Barbeque shop. The food was excellent!

The company however was disturbing. The man who owned the place was a long time friend of Dad’s and came out and sat and visited with us for about an hour after we ate – or rather visited with Dad, as we were all just sort of along for the ride on that conversation. Turns out the man had been a policeman as well down in Texas years ago, as DreamWeaver’s dad had been a policeman up North. They swapped tales of harassing “hippies” –laughing about shaving heads, hosing them down with fire hoses, taking their money and running them out of town broken, all the while complaining about the civil liberties laws that had stopped their “fun”. I was a little sick to my stomach, and Mom, DreamWeaver and I basically shut up and stayed as quiet as possible. It was a disturbing view of DreamWeaver’s father and not one I think that she had seen before. Things got better after we left the restaurant, and headed home.

They took us through areas that had been mowed flat by an F5 tornado the year before – the landscape was all twisted and battered and houses, or what little remained of them, were still torn apart and unrepaired. Eerie. So we got home after this to our little camp site and went gratefully to bed, only to be kept awake by one of the wildest rain and wind storms I have ever weathered in my life.

The wind howled down over the lake, battered the tent, scattered our extra tarps, and pulled one end of the tent up, taking the stakes right out of the ground! I expected to land in Oz at any moment! Somehow we managed to doze off despite the howling of the wind and the rattle of the tent and I awoke in the early morning – still pitch black dark, way before dawn, to unearthly silence. I tiptoed out of the tent, and saw a perfectly clear sky with a million stars over head right where I could reach out and touch them and the lake was so still it was mirror, reflecting every single point of light. It took my breath away!
But later, when I got up after sunrise, the next cloud mass had rolled in, and the sky was grey. That was Wednesday. And The Enlightened One and The Scientistshowed up about 9:00 am to pick us up to go caving. It turned out to be a delightful blessed day! The Scientist was wonderful, happy to meet us and hugged us both. The Enlightened One, who I first met years ago when he was 11 years old and watched grow up, was a cheerful young giant of about 6’3” and met both his Mom and me with enthusiastic bear hugs. We left and ran by Mom and Dad, so that they could see their grandson who they had not seen since he was a small child, and could meet The Scientist, and then we were on our way. We spent a few hilarious hours lost with a GPS navigator that steered us all over creation but where we needed to go, and then we got to Blanchard Springs Caverns. That was amazing for me – I had never been down in a cave before and it was strange and beautiful beyond belief; wonderful twisted landscapes with stalagmites and stalactites and massive pillars of living stone.
We stopped at the gift store and I got a stuffed toy bat to remember the trip by – so we are probably one of the few people who could come home from a primitive camping trip with more stuffed animals than when we started! LOL!
Then, lost again with the malfunctioning GPS – I swear it made me think of Hal from “2001; a Space Odyssey” – we finally arrived for supper at Jerry’s Famous Pizza. Now, this is not a chain restaurant. It is one of a kind, in the middle of NO where in the back roads of Arkansas. It has no website. It is listed in all sorts of travel pages, such as the National Geographic’s Travel guide and really is famous. And it was the absolute best pizza I have ever had in my life and I am something of a pizza connoisseur! Starving, we dug in and ate pizza until we were stuffed.
And then came the moment DreamWeaver and I had been dreading. Nothing had been said much about the wedding all the way through this excellent day, which was a rather glaring omission, given that these two wonderful people were getting married in 4 days. DreamWeaver was too shaken to say much, so I took a deep breath, and very gently, finally brought up the white elephant on the table. What were the plans for the wedding? Where did they want us to sit? Did they want both of us there? Would it be easier if we weren’t present?And The Enlightened One, with a sweet smile on his face, looked at his mom and said, “Mom, you will be seated as part of the wedding party, with the family. You are my parent. I want you there.”
DreamWeaver had tears running down her face, and I was elated. So I asked him, “What do you need me to do?” And he looked at me and smiled even larger and said “You and Mom are my parents. You will be seated as parents, with the family, both of you!” And at that point we about lost it! We were simply amazed! DreamWeaver asked him what his father thought of this, and Aaron grinned and said, well, he doesn’t know yet. I am going to explain this at the rehearsal. By the way, you are both invited to the rehearsal dinner and the rehearsal. That we declined. We said we figured he did not need us on the spot while he set this up with his dad, and he laughed and agreed. So, full of pizza and utter joy, we were dropped off at our campsite that evening and we finished our day with a camp fire and s’mores. (And that night with a second hammering thunder and lightening storm, but we were getting kinda of used to that and the tent did not leak once!)

However…we still had another visit with DreamWeaver’s parents to navigate, we were going to try to see DreamWeaver’s best friend from high school from 20 some odd years ago who was some what homophobic, and there was still the wedding looming ahead…which we figured was going to be interesting to say the least after The Enlightened One sprang this one on his dad Friday night. But that night around the fire, we enjoyed the feeling of being together and of knowing for certain that The Enlightened One and The Scientist loved us unconditionally, with out one scrap of homophobia or judgment.
And that is part one – yeah, it’s a cliff hanger to some degree, but it’s after 1:00 am and I have to get up early. So I will finish the tale tomorrow night…more to come.
…so off to bed we went after our campfire and s’mores and endure the second night of stormy weather we were to face. There wasn’t much wind associated with this one, but it was a lightening and thunder display I will not soon forget! Several times lightening must have struck the lake water beyond us for the bolt of light and the thunder to be that crushingly loud and simultaneously!
At one point I finally began to feel a drip of water and thought the tent had finally begun to leak under the onslaught, but then I realized that the zipper was a little open on the “window” at the end of the tent above us. I reached up and zipped it, and the leak mercifully stopped – our little canvass home was still intact.We slept in a little, and I awoke with the sun up and shining and the storm blown past. DreamWeaver had beaten me out of bed and was fixing breakfast and blessed hot chocolate which was a treat. We relaxed awhile, I cleaned the breakfast debris, and we went and grabbed showers.
From there we went back over to her parent’s house to spend the afternoon. Now, DreamWeaver had brought her jewelry making supplies (beaded necklaces and earrings) and set about making her mom 3 necklaces and matching earrings with her mom sitting and helping and picking out beads. Lovely bonding time for them. Her father kept hovering around the edges and rumbling about politics and I finally heaved a big internal sigh, and cornered him down at the other end of the room with the intent of holding him in conversation and giving Mom and DreamWeaver the time and space they needed for this. And they NEEDED it, because it was very healing to the strain on their relationship that the years of mom’s schizophrenia had created. I have to admit, I really wasn’t looking forward to an afternoon of juggling political conversation with her dad though. So, I tried a different tack. Her father had been a cop, who had become a Church of Christ minister. I asked him how was it that he was not in a church and was retired. And surprisingly what followed was one of the most wonderful conversations I have had in ages. He became a different man when he spoke of the Bible and his faith – a man filled with humility, gentleness and love, not the embittered paranoid wingnut we had been tiptoeing around for the past 4 days! I could scarce credit it! He very gently indicated that his retirement from the ministry had been due to his wife’s health and that I can totally believe. Being a minister’s wife is not compatible with struggling with paranoid schizophrenia and listening to DreamWeaver’s tales about that time, which was when mom’s illness worsened to the point of finally committing her and the diagnosis of her life long symptoms lead me to believe that it was a hellish time for the whole family. I can see why he retired, particularly since he is her sole care.
After he touched on that very briefly, he then began to talk about the Bible and some of the things he was studying and the conversation took off! Not to put to fine a point on it, I was raised in a Presbyterian church that took scripture memorization and knowledge very seriously, as did the Christian Schools I attended growing up. I KNOW my Bible, which I give thanks for because since I came out over the years, that knowledge has more than once given me the ability to talk myself out of a corner with someone out to “save” me from being gay. In this case, with DreamWeaver’s father, it was instead a joy of our shared love for God’s word. We both took turns quoting scripture and being delighted with the other’s ability to finish the verse or even quote the passage beyond it. We talked about faith and works and love and forgiveness, and the earthly church’s short comings. It was amazing…I went from gritting my teeth, expecting to have a tedious afternoon listening to conservative ranting, and instead was filled with joy and fellowship with this brother in Christ. I could barely believe it.

I don’t know where the break point is inside him with his bitterness and hate that he can spout, and the gentle loving retired minister whose heart is so filled with compassion. I suspect there is a great deal of personal pain and emotional damage to have so splintered him. I was simply very grateful to see the man that DreamWeaver had described to me all those years ago and to meet him at last. And never once did he broach homosexuality or turn the conversation that direction. Not once. And that is an interesting point. Remember, I have known DreamWeaver for almost 11 years. We were friends for years before we fell in love and became a couple. So DreamWeaver’s dad had heard of me in conversations for a long time, and he knows I am gay. Knew I was gay before DreamWeaver and I became more than friends. So his restraint and lack of confrontation was absolutely amazing. I don’t know too many ministers who would have passed up a shot like that, especially ones with an antigay website! All I know was, it was a blessed afternoon for all of us, and DreamWeaver and her mom enjoyed their time together as well.

Back we went to our little campsite and called DreamWeaver’s high school friend, to see about setting up a visit with her. We were also debating what to do the next night, Friday night before the wedding. We really didn’t want to try to get ready in the tent. We had done very well visiting with DreamWeaver’s parents but we knew it could get overloaded for her mom any moment, so we were wary about the idea of spending the night there or invading in a scramble to get ready for the wedding. And our slim cash flow looked a little thin for a hotel room. And here is where we got our second blessed shock, or was it the third or fourth? Her friend, upon hearing our situation, promptly invited us to come spend the night with her on Friday night! Remember, this is DreamWeaver’s friend that when DreamWeaver came out to her a few years ago by letter, wrote her a “homosexuality is evil and I will pray for you” letter, and then maintained her distance after that. So this was the LAST thing we had expected and not even considered!

Her friend also lived down in the little town where DreamWeaver grew up, which was on our way out and to the church. Gratefully we took her up on it and went home to our little tent much relieved, though a little apprehensive over staying the night with her. I fully expected to be sleeping on a couch somewhere or in a different room, but I would deal with that if I had to, under these circumstances. Our last night on the lake was the only night we had clear beautiful weather with the stars out all night long, and we got a good sound sleep uninterrupted by the elements! Which was a good thing; because we faced a huge task that morning when we awoke…packing up the campsite and stowing everything back into the little tiny Honda. Ooog.

Well, I was determined that however it went back into the car, somehow I was going to get us a little more rearview visibility out the back. I think I managed a little. I’d shove things around until I could not stand it, and sit and take a break while DreamWeaver took over. Then vice versa. The tent was the easiest thing to drop, thank goodness – we even managed the unbelievable and got it folded up back into its carry bag, correctly, like it was packed from the factory. That might qualify as a miracle unto itself! It took us a few hours, and we were hot and sweaty and mildly grumpy with inanimate objects by the end, but we managed without really losing our tempers, which after a week in a storm lashed tent and a tick infested campsite, I think was really amazing! I haven’t mentioned the ticks. I am not really going to talk about the ticks. I don’t even want to remember the ticks. Or the mosquitoes – which qualify as the Arkansas state bird in my opinion…with landing gear and lights! Little blood sucking vampires! A brief digression on the flora and fauna – plenty of both. We lost count of the deer we saw; we also saw a coyote, a (living) armadillo and tons of cheerful little frogs! We also developed a fondness for the lizard at the bathhouse that greeted us when we showered. We unfortunately saw way too many flattened road kill armadillos all along the way. Worse than possums in SC. So I count myself blessed to have seen a living one. As for plants – that state was solid ragweed from one end to the other! By the time we left DreamWeaver’s allergies had kicked into high gear and she is only now beginning to breathe normally. Note to self…next trip back, don’t go in the spring!

We finally had the car loaded, we showered and stopped by to retrieve our go-to-wedding clothes from her parents and say good bye. That was a little sad…it had turned out to be such a wonderful visit, unexpectedly, and I think it was hard on both sides to let go. They asked us to come back soon, next year if we could. Who knows…but we hugged them and finally got back on the road. We did find a Laundromat on the way out, and managed to get clothing clean. We called her friend to let her know we’d be there as soon as the dryers stopped spinning. She said we could have used her washer and dryer, until we pointed out we had six loads worth of smelly camping clothing, and she hastily backed down her offer which we thought was hilarious.

So we got on the road and got there in time for Pizza – which we had offered to pick up, but she wouldn’t hear of it, and already had it ready when we got there. We were fortunate to overlap with her son and daughter being there. Her daughter was doing her laundry before proudly heading off to her new apartment and had brought her little shiztu dog with her. The dog, Benton and I bonded and I was immediately drafted into throwing Benton’s rather slobbery tennis ball for him…repeatedly…all evening…every 30 seconds! The family was taking bets on who would tire first, the dog or me. I won. He finally took his ball and collapsed on the air conditioning vent to the cheers of everyone else who had never managed to slow him down before! But he was a really cute puppy!

Their son was also there very briefly – he was just graduated from college as a theater major and was leaving in the morning for a year long job in West Virginia as an actor with a theater troupe. I spent awhile talking with him about the theater, acting, back stage chaos (I have done a little of that) and productions we had seen. That included telling him about seeing “The Laramie Project” which he was familiar with and had also seen. Definitely a GLBT ally. Which was very cool! DreamWeaver and her friend had a great visit, which was very precious for both of them. I got to listen to a lot of school reminisces and gossip, which was fun! And then, very late with everyone needing to get up early, we got our sleeping gear and clothing out of the car.

And there came a moment I have to tell about. DreamWeaver called me to come outside to the car, so I went out and looked where she was pointing. In the field next to the house, were hundreds of thousands of Fireflies blinking and winking, until the night was constantly ablaze with the strobing light! It looked like the light of faery land come to earth, unearthly and immortally beautiful! I had only once in my life ever seen them like that before back in my own teens. DreamWeaver had never seen them like that. We stood there, arms around each other for I don’t know how long, entranced by the glowing fiery trails in the night. It was one more blessing, unlooked for, and treasured.

And, probably with anguished howls from those who are reading this runaway missive, I am going to break once more and finish it in a part three. I am starting another mural tomorrow, so I have to be able to get up and function in the morning. So stay tuned…And I will finish it in part three.


So…the day of the Wedding dawned. Debbie and her family had scattered to the four winds before we woke up due to work and travel schedules. We got up, got dressed. And yes…I wore a dress. I actually went and bought that dress just for this. Laurence should be posting a picture of the wedding party with me in a dress in it, as proof. �In fact…a momentary side trip backwards of several weeks before the trip…


The Story of the Dress

I was insisting on wearing a dress to Aaron and Kim’s wedding…I mean, things were tense enough without me strolling into the church in male or semi male attire, or even feminine pantsuits, seriously.

DreamWeaver, who is so femme she doesn’t even clock on anybody’s radar as gay unless I am standing next to her (we refer to me as the gay accessory…) was the one balking at me wearing the dress. Which is a real switch, because normally the butch/GID is going “over my dead body am I putting on a dress” while the femme is the one saying “it’s just for one morning, you can do this! It’s a really bad place to stick out…” DreamWeaver was horrified at the idea of asking her beloved GID partner to don a dress. And she insists that while I look really good in one, it’s just WRONG! I love her!

But I really, really felt that the situation called for some attempt to blend in with the natives, as it were. If nothing else, it was The Enlightened One and The Scientist's day. Everyone was to be looking at them and not at the defiant butch cross dressing in their midst. And with that point, I convinced her. HOWEVER, that does not mean that I went cheerfully to my fate as we stepped into Ross’s women’s department. I confess…I wanted to bolt. I growled. I whined. I groaned over some of the current (hideous) fashions. DreamWeaver, God bless her, alternately hugged me, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, or tossed selections left and right as they were discarded, with a gentle patience and humor. She is amazing! She finally herded me into the women’s dressing room with five selections against all odds, squeezed us into a changing stall and started tossing dresses on and off me.

We actually found two. (One summer weight that was spring green and that’s the one I wore to the wedding and one that would work around the seasons – funerals and weddings do occur, and sometimes you just gotta. Although, if people would just please manage to schedule marry’in’s or bury’in’s in the winter once in a while?! I have a kilt of Official SC tartan, hand sewn, and hand woven in Sky, that I love to wear. Spring/Summer, it’s right out though! Amazingly dense thick wool…) Having made my selections, I scrambled to the front, while DreamWeaver prudently gave me some space for a bit…or maybe she needed the space to avoid committing murder, I don’t know. Or maybe something caught her eye, shopping. At any rate, I made it to the registers up front, with 2 dresses, a blouse (went with one of the dresses, and some tops for DreamWeaver), total about 120.00 before tax. (And please note, we went through the tags and added it up, against our budget, so I KNOW that’s how much we had.)

I got to the registers and spotted the person working the far register…Mohawk, tattoos, piercings and all. Oh thank God, a normal human being! I went and got in her line! So I got up to her and plonked down the armful of fabric on the counter…and suddenly spotted the gay pride tattoo on her arm!!! Family! So I said to her – “You gotta understand…butch dyke buying dress for partners sons wedding…” She winced and replied “Oh I am so sorry! My sister got married last summer and made me wear a dress! I so get it!” So we laughed and commiserated and she rang up our purchases and said “Ok, that’ll be 69.45” My jaw dropped. I said, “Whoa, hold it! That’s about 120 dollars there, you hit the wrong button. Your registers gonna be screwed! Ring that up again!” She said, “OK.”, re-rang it all, and repeated “its 69.45.” and grinned at me. She had given me her employee discount, I saw it come up that time, and she refused to budge. So with heartfelt thanks to her, DreamWeaver and I went out of the store feeling that there is indeed a community and Family that we are a part of. And someday we will pay that forward! And that is the story of the dress.


Back to us in Arkansas…armed with directions and a severe case of nerves, we set out for the church. Aaron had not called and said that there were any problems, but he also had not called and reassured us that everything was ok either. Which could mean anything…we could get there and be seated amid severe frosty disapproval possibly at best. Not fun.We found the church. In we went to the front foyer. And there of course, wereDreamWeaver’s ex-husband/ The Enlightened One's dad, and his step mother, right there as we stepped in. They saw us…they lit up, smiled, came over, DreamWeaver's ex-husband HUGGED DreamWeaver and shook my hand, and his wife hugged us both!!!!

They were glad to see us, and directed us to get in line, “Come on, parents here…you go in first on the row, just make space!”Our jaws dropped in total shock. We don’t know what The Enlightened ONe DID, but as far as I am concerned, he should bottle it and sell it – they could end the war in Iraq in a week! The other thought that comes to mind (for those that catch the reference to the old movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) was that these were the alien pods and the real people were stashed in the basement somewhere! I remember very clearly the level of hate and disapproval radiating off these two people 3 years ago when we went to the Marine, the older son’s wedding, and nothing we have encountered indirectly and directly over those years has ever indicated any change in this up until that moment! This might qualify as a Biblical miracle as far as we are concerned! We were also included, as parents, in the pictures afterwards with the grooms family! Simply amazing!
The wedding was beautiful, and simple and wonderful. The reception was also simple – they were going to Disney for their honeymoon, so the wedding cake topper was a Precious Moments couple wearing Mouseketeer ears! There was also a groom’s cake made of Twinkies that were made into little groomsmen and a bride with icing!We also stole a few minutes and saw The Enlightened One (in the reception area) and The Scientist in the dressing room (gorgeous bride!) before the wedding. And we ran into The Marine. Now, The Marine is the one who invited us to his and Patience’s wedding 3 years ago over violent disapproval, after being estranged from his mom for 5 years. Then months later, when his daughter Beauty was born, he had us come up and spend the weekend and see our granddaughter, Beauty. Then The Marine went off to Iraq for about 8 months. And when he came home, he backed away from us again, worse than before. We have not seen Beauty since she was born. And now her little brother Wisdom, who was born a few months ago – well, they did not call to let us know when he was born. We found out about 2 weeks after the fact when we checked on-line photos. The Marine refuses to have any contact and we maintain a tenuous connection through Patience who is caught in the middle of this.

Well, there was The Marine, in his gorgeous dress uniform as his brother’s best man. And DreamWeaver went up to him and hugged him before he really knew he was there. And he hugged her back so hard…and then stiffened and pulled away. And that’s kinda how it went the rest of the day…he would relax and be his old self with us (he hugged me) and then he would remember he wasn’t having anything to do with us, and would back away. It was painful to see and painful to experience. There is no doubt that he is confused, conflicted, loves his mom and yet doesn’t know what to do, and it is a torment to him. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is causing DreamWeaver deep pain, and is basically a very angry immature young man.

Beauty doesn’t have a clue who we are, or who DreamWeaver is. DreamWeaver was just that nice lady who spoke to her for a few minutes. No clue that is her grandmother. And The Marine and Patience never let DreamWeaver hold the baby. She only got to see him up close at all because I saw Patience with the baby in the carrier heading out of the church at the end and headed her off and talked to her until DreamWeaver caught up, and that’s how we got to see the baby. But not hold him.

Patince at that point, agonized over the situation, told us that the problem was – “no offense to you, Cameron, never, but –“ that we were gay. I laughed a little and said, “Um, DUH? We figured that out awhile back, Patience.” She told us that we could call her ANY time, whether or not The Marine was home, but that she could talk more freely if The Marine wasn’t there, and to please call. Ouch. Something tells me, she isn’t any happier than we are about the situation.And then everyone left, the bride and groom on a cloud of blown bubbles and well wishers in the lobby (and they snuck back to change clothes 15 minutes later, having evaded chasers and we got to hug them one more time), and it was over and we made our own escape. Phew!

The day went fabulously, beyond our wildest hopes, dreams or anticipation! With of course, the exception of The Marine, and the division from him and the grandchildren. It is so ironic, that 3 years ago we went to his wedding with so much hope for healing with him, and saw the beginning of that healing, only to see it die, and things become worse than before. A friend has raised the point that he is absolutely immersed in military culture…his relationship with his dad is also not easy (long story for another time, and maybe DreamWeaver’s place to tell It).

So the military is The Marine's all in all. And that puts him in a virulently homophobic environment, that is being rocked by the “don’t ask don’t tell” controversy. And he appears to have bought into it completely on top of whatever he may have absorbed from a conservative upbringing in Arkansas. That is a guess, but it is a shrewd guess, I think. I would welcome comments and thoughts on this.

So, our next stop was a gas station and five minutes later we were in blessed casual (and in my case, male) attire and rolling down the road to home. We plowed straight through to Memphis and caught a Jazz festival on Beale Street which was fantastic. Ate in a little restaurant with a wonderful singer. Then pushed on, and pretty much drove straight through the night (with a couple of nap spots in safe places) until we arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. Which was a little bit of a different route, but we went for a reason.

This past semester in my Art History class, I did a report and power point presentation on Maya Lin’s Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Maya Lin is the brilliant artist and architect who designed the Vietnam War Memorial in the early1980’s, and has gone on to produce many other powerful works, some that continue this connection to social and political issues and have become activist statements. In Montgomery, Alabama, around the corner from the church where Dr. King served as pastor during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-1956, and the capitol steps where the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march ended in 1965, the soft sound of running water heralds the approach to the Civil Rights Memorial Center where Maya Lin’s water table stands. It is a waist high inverted cone of black granite; the polished surface of the base serves as the “table top”.

Carved into the surface around the edge are the names of the people who died in the civil rights movement between 1934 and 1968 as well as the events that took place in those dramatic years. Across the names and places and dates, runs water, reflecting literally and figuratively the words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Biblical quote from the book of Amos, “…until Justice rolls down like waters and Righteousness like a mighty stream.” And DreamWeaver and I HAD to see it! Particularly after being ringside for the Soul Force Bus Ride at Bob Jones!

Of course, when we got there, it was raining. No, let me correct that. It was pouring! And we had the place to ourselves. So, me being me…I proved that I did not have the sense to come in out of the rain, bailed out of the car, as is, no rain gear and lost myself in the site and the water streaming down the black wall, walking around the table, reading the inscriptions of those who died and those who triumphed, known and unknown, letting my hands trail through the water flowing over the table (which is how Maya Lin wants it to be experienced – by touch.)

And DreamWeaver being who she is, decorously came up with a rain poncho and an umbrella and got pictures (and also ran her hands through the water and over the black wall). We both had tears in our eyes. I looked at the gay pride bracelet on my wrist against the stark black granite of the Civil Rights Memorial and wondered if the GLBT community will ever have a memorial, and if maybe someday, Maya Lin could design ours…

From there it was simply a reverse. We stopped back in with The Fiber Geek and Cat in Atlanta, going in, as we had going out, and reached home mid-Monday afternoon, a little over a week after we left. And that is the great road trip of 2009! Our next goal is a short camping trip maybe before fall semester down state in SC to see Brookgreen Gardens over a weekend…a true vacation, just for us (and our stuffed animals and our tent.) without anybody else’s agenda or drama driving us. Until then…school starts next week and I am painting on a new mural, DreamWeaver is working and seeing clients, and we are back into our everyday life we love and share together.

Blessings to all!