Family

We are blessed. We have two families. The one we were born into and the one we choose.

Our natal families folded into one larger family after we settled into our life together. I into The Better Half’s, he into mine and ours into each other. This made for one big family that blessed us even more.

Living away from our family for many years allowed us to choose a chosen family of good friends who care and love each other as if we had always been and will continue to be. This family is large and blesses our home with more than 30 holiday celebrants each and every Christmas Day. Our blessing overflows.

Our friends extend beyond or natal family and our chosen family into our work, interests, neighbors, bloggers, vacation acquaintances and just plain old good friends who live both near and far. Our bounty of blessings humble us.

Love, respect and sincerity are the basis of this blessing we call family.

This most recent trip filled our cup. I met with two blog buddies for a wonderful dinner. Unfortunately the third wasn’t able to join due to an illness but we sent our love to him in hopes that better days lie ahead. We, the better half & I, then set off via Amtrack to New York with part of my natal family for one of those experiences that money could never buy (but definitely helps with😉).

You see after the loss of my father I asked my mother, who had been caring for him, where had she always wanted to go. She said New York to see The Rockettes. That was her dream. Not Paris, not London, not even Hawaii. I promised her then that we would take her to New York. It took two years and she lost her oldest son before it happened, but it happened. We made a family trip out of it with Mom, me, The Better Half, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, her husband, two great grandchildren and a nephew.

Family

Nothing, no nothing will ever mean as much to me as my mother grabbing my hand after the curtain fell at the end of The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular as tears streamed down her face as she said “I have never seen anything so beautiful!” They exceeded her expectations and believe me she had high expectations.

For her to have her family with her on a trip she had only dreamed of all of her life, a dream she probably thought would never come to be, was truly a dream come true. I cannot express my gratitude for the blessing that that moment, my family and life truly is.

The moral of this post, at least for me, is that this is our one life, so live it, love it, share it, and give it. Give it to your natal family, or your chosen family, or both. Give it to someone you meet, you work with, you run into or even to someone you don’t know at all. Give a smile, share a laugh, respect, understand, forgive, serve and most of all love. Just love.

Entering Macy’s Herald Square entrance during the debut moment of holiday decorations.

The employees lined the side of the aisle and cheered us as we entered the store, Stunning

Lady Liberty

911 Memorial, -emotional-

Fearsome Photobombing in Time Square

Sightseeing under Lady Liberty

3rd row Center Stage at Radio City

Santa

The Rockettes

Up front and close enough to see their smiles!

From 5 to 85, New York is fabulous, family makes it even better!

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Live from New York

Fearsome and his family take on The Big Apple!

Fearsome and the Family

Wind blown with Mom on Top of The Rock

At St. Patrick’s

In Time Square with The Better Half

Enjoying Renoir

Eating real Chinese (except with a fork)

Experiencing Egyptian ruins

Travel day!

Today we fly to Philly to stop on our way to join Mom, Brother, sister-in-law, a niece, her husband, their two kids and a nephew for a train trip into the Big Apple. Mom has always dreamed of seeing The Rockettes, so we are all taking her to Radio City Music Hall for The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular!

Fearsome & I are headed out a day early so we can have dinner with Todd , Anne Marie and Mistress Maddie!

WooHoo! We is gonna have a blast!

The Iconic Boeing 747

First released in 1968, Boeing’s 747 was, and still is, an engineering marvel.

United is retiring their 747 fleet for more fuel efficient 777 & 787 aircraft and fuel efficiency is a definately valid reason. Other airlines will continue to fly them so the iconic look will still be seen in larger international ports. However their numbers may continue to dwindle as technology changes.

I’ve only flown the 747 six times in all of my travels on these routes:  Miami to Aruba, San Diego to London, Los Angeles to Sydney. Thus far it is my favorite airliner. The adjectives roomy and majestic come to mind. I even know the layout well enough that I have a favorite seat. I’ll miss this mighty bird for she gave me many wonderful memories.

Somewhere in the southern Caribbean

Many a moon ago aboard Dolphin Cruise Line’s SS Sea Breeze we found ourselves anchored just off the coast of Aruba. Fearsome was in remission at the time as I had developed a bad habit called shaving, but he was there in spirit as he always is. It was an early morning under the searing southern Caribbean sun and not a good morning for the hangover from last evenings heavy drinking dance floor adventures.

We found ourselves amongst  many other bleary eyed hungover gay men searching for that perfect spot on deck of this RSVP cruise from which to observe that days total solar eclipse. We were anchored just off the coast of Aruba for a reason, we were in the path of totality in a spot calculated to have the longest time in actual totality, about 3 minutes 40 seconds to my recollection. That sun was hot and all I wanted was a place to sit down, drink my coffee and nurse this hangover. A friend handed me a Bloody Mary. Life was suddenly better.

A passenger affectionately known as The Chicken Lady passed by pouring creme in anyone’s coffee who needed it. She was carrying her trademark chicken purse and the creme flowed on demand into awaiting coffee cups out of an artificial breast that she wore under her bikini top. The Chicken Lady wasn’t known to be reserved nor inhibited in any way imaginable.

The ship’s crew worked feverishly to make sure all 800 passengers were well taken care of and comfortable. They made sure we all had our beverages of choice as well as our solar eclipse viewers. Morning cocktial music played, we laughed, the scent of sunscreen permeated the air and we waited.

The searing heat of the tropical sun started to diminish. A quick check with the solar eclipse glasses confirms that the moon has begun it’s journey between us and our sun. It seemed as if someone had found both the dimmer and the thermostat as not only was the light becoming more appropriate for a party, but the heat had been turned down a notch. We continued our wait laughing with our friends, checking the moon’s progress through the viewers and ordering more cocktails.

Suddenly it all changed.

I had experienced partial eclipses before. No. Big. Deal.

This was different.

In the distance it appears as if a very dark storm had formed. It was black out there. It was moving. It was moving fast and it was headed toward us. However there were no clouds but just darkness. Not just darker but black. This shadow was moving and there was no escaping it. That shadow of black was coming for us and fast. We adorned the viewers and looked up to find just a tiny pierce of the sun left and then it was gone. Nothing left but a faint corona and then a voice from the crowd, all on their feet at this moment, screamed “It’s safe now, take off your glasses!”

Our photos from Aruba’s total eclipse

Nighttime. Nighttime with all the stars out yet a faint light of dawn 360 degrees around us just at the lip of horizon. The birds, the songs of the birds as if it were daybreak. The lights, all the streetlights and lighted signs on the tiny island of Aruba had lit up. It was nighttime but it wasn’t. The horizon was beautiful. The colors of sunrise 360 degrees around us with all the stars out and this black circle above us. Tiny black, very black circle with a moving light shimmering around it.

Surreal.

Ouch! The light! Someone screams”Glasses on!”

The moon had moved on and the first pierce of intense light had broken through. The sun was back, although just a tiny corner. We looked down to realize that we were no longer in the dark shadow as a faint light of sun had encompassed us. The shadow was moving again. The darkness had left us and it was moving again, moving away from us. Moving away fast. We could see it’s circular edge moving across the sea as the light replaced the darkness in the water. The great storm of darkness moved on and so fast that we couldn’t follow it.

We watched as the wonderment of that total eclipse moved on for others to experience that day.

Then we danced.

Today I sit in awe and gratitude for all the gifts I have been blessed with thus far in my wonderful life. Thus far!

Happy Eclipse!

Travel Beard

Big Apple Beard

We flew into New York Last evening and started at Rockefeller Center.

Time Square

Under the ceiling of the Al Hirschfeld Theatre before seeing Kinky Boots

Back at Rockefeller Center

St. Patrick’s

Today at One World Trade Center

9/11 Memorial

Ceiling of Westfield World Trade Center

Battery Park view of Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Stonewall Plaza

Stonewall Inn

The Highline view of Empire State Building

Our 33rd floor room view of Chrysler Building

Capital Treasures 4

After our enjoyable visit at the National Gallery it was time for our appointment at The African American History Museum.

National Museum of African-American History & Culture

Definately an amazing museum and wonderful addition to the Smithsonian, this museum is worth the visit. Still being the new kid on The Mall it was packed and tickets hard to come by. We enjoyed it immensely, but we will make a point to come back at a later date when it isn’t so crowded and can be enjoyed as a Museum of its caliber should be. I know they have a lot of people waiting to get in and that tickets are limited in number, but I think they could do better limiting the number of tickets issued to an even smaller number.

Contemplative Court Waterfall Fountain

The Contemplative Court Waterfall Fountain was worth the trip itself alone. Overwhelming. Fearsome had some tears to catch as I began to sob. Cleansing.

Jackie Robinson #42

Fearsome had more tears to catch as I choked up over Jackie’s jersey. One can see the faint reflection of Fearsome’s San Diego Padres hat in the glass just above the shoulder to the right of the Jackie’s face.

Jackie Robinson is truly an inspirational man of honor. Integrating baseball was not an easy task. Jackies strength was in his own personal restraint and self discipline. Fearsome highly recommends the movie about Jackie’s life. The movie is simply “42”. Jackie is one of Fearsome’s heroes.

Capital Treasures 3

After our time at the Hirshhorn we crossed The Mall to check out have some lunch over at The National Gallery of Art. After sharing a wonderful lunch in the Garden Cafe we discovered their current exhibit Frederic Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism. 

Fabulous!

A Pierre-Auguste Renoir on the left of Federic Bazzile painting his Still Life with Heron on right.

Federic Brazil was an early impressionist who came of age with Renoir, Monet, Manet, Cezzane and likes. They were a close group and there are many paintings where they painted the same subjects and each other.

Fearsome stands amount the Beards of the great impressionists.

This last painting above is a Bazille that includes many of his impressionist friends in his studio, Bazille is the tallest standing beside the easel. Bazille’s parents always kept him in a studio in Paris and his young impressionist friends, including Renoir & Monet, often stayed and even lived with him in his various Paris studios. Note the painting on the upper left above the man on the stairs as it is the painting of the male nude featured above.

Bazille joined the Army at 29 years of age and left his young impressionist friends behind to only be tragically killed on his first assignment. He never gained the refinement nor fame that his contemporaries did due to his unfortunate untimely death.

Rumors do swirl around why he left and joined a faction of the army to fight on the front lines. Was he in love with one of his contemporaries that couldn’t be fulfilled? Did he need to get away? Was it almost an act of suicide? Or was he just looking for male companionship in the trenches? Rumors that will never be confirmed.

Homosexuality was quite frowned upon at the time and the place where he and his friends lived and bromanced. His counterparts went on to marry, he ran away. He housed and supported them and maybe it was only friendship. We will never know. We do know that the loss of his life at such a young age deprived the impressionist movement of a budding young talent who had hardly began his journey.

Frederic Bazille

Capital Treasures

Fearsome, The Better Half and I are all three galavanting about on holiday. Our first stop was in our nation’s capital. We took the opportunity to focus on the beauty and inspiration that is available in D.C.

First up was the Hirshhorn and what a treat to find part of Ai WeiWei’s @Large which he designed for and exhibit at Alcatraz.

The Hirshhorn’s long curving spaces lend themselves to exhibiting these pieces designed for large Alcatraz common spaces.

Legos are the medium for the pixilated portraits of 176 exhiled or imprisoned activists.

The pixelated portraits lend themselves to viewing through the lense of ones smartphone. Some being almost completely unrecognizable/illegible to the naked eye without this technology we all hold in our pockets. A technology, that if used properly, can enlighten us.

Intricate wallpaper detail of security cameras, handcuffs and Twitter birds.

This part of his Alcatraz exhibit is entitled Trace. It extends for one full circle of the Hirshhorn’s second floor. Stunning.

Ai WeiWei himself is also an imprisoned freedom activist who isn’t allowed to leave his own country of China. The entire Alcatraz exhibit was created by him for the prison space with the help of many other artist who could aid in its design, creation, set up, delivery and installation. Ai WeiWei never was able to visit his own work in the space for which it was designed. The Twitter bird represents his own ability to speak freely beyond his confines while being detained and monitored continuously.

It always happens…

Why it is that every time I have a trip to make I get crazy busy right before it is time to leave?

Is it Murphy’s law?

Since I’m busy getting ready do I attract more busy?

Busy attracts business?

Dont get me wrong, I like busy. Busy brings me income. Busy creates meaning. Busy gives purpose.

I think I’ll decide to sit in my seat 2B to Chicago this morning in gratitude for being busy.

Questionable Beard

So this happened…

I’m passing through TSA, something I do about once a month, and I’m stopped and asked “Sir, is your Beard for religious reasons?” It’s very early in the morning and I am am in a hurry and my focus is getting through to grab a snack in the United Club Lounge prior to lining up at the gate. What the TSA agent said to me in my Known Traveler TSA Pre-Check express line didn’t register at the moment and I quickly blurted out “No, it is not” to which the agent replied “Ok” and let me pass on through.

It wasn’t until much later when I replayed the exchange in my mind that I realized what had actually happened. What if my answer was yes? I mean Fearsome is a rather large fellow. He stands out, really stands out. And so what if Fearsome is a Beard of religious reasons? He is an American citizen and last I checked these United States are a land with freedom of, and from, religion. Was I being profiled for having a Beard and possibly for having a religion? Is it a TSA agent’s business why Fearsome adorns my face or what religion I do, or do not, follow?

Airline Double Feature Picture Show

Quiet Beard Fearsome is of recent. I’ve been busy (no excuse) and haven’t allowed Fearsome any time to think. He’s a bit miffed at me.

Tuesday we flew to the east coast in order to attend one of my Real Estate seminars in Richmond Virginia. Friday we rented a Hyudia Elantra and drove ourselves through blinding rain to the old home stomping grounds of Roanoke.

Aboard the friendly skies of United to Richmond via Newark the handy dandy iPad Pro entertainment system treated us to two notable flicks. The first feature is a classic that I had missed along the way. Pedro Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown …

What took me so long to see this film? Needless to say Fearsome loved it! I’m going to follow up by purchasing it. Entertaining, campy, hilarious, fast paced, twisted, visually gratifying and memorable are just a few of the adjectives that pop into my head. It is highly recommended by both of us and therefore gets two mustache tips up.

Tip: if renting from iTunes it will default to the dubbed version. The dubbing is terrible. It at least allows one to hear the priceless lines in ones own native English… if English is ones native tongue. After which both of us highly reccomend re-watching with its original Spanish soundtrack which one can choose in the iTunes menu and also choose the subtitles in several convenient languages.  Fabulous! Period.

Feature number two? You ask? A heartwarming documentary by the name of Chicken People.

Quirky, funny, interesting, endearing and enlightening come to mind. The human experience is an facinating adventure. Learning about interests other than my own through such an entertaining film as this little gem is a treasure. I simply adore being eccentric and therefore love other’s eccentricities.

You guessed it right if you predicted another two mustache tips up on this highly reccomended flick.

Hot Tickets

We’ve got ’em.

Saturday August 12.

And On that same trip there is this: …click on the headline for more info if you are so inclined…

It will be a quick summer trip. It’s gonna be great!

Mom updates

Mom is doing much better. Big relief. Physical therapy has worked well for her. She is much more herself.

Her birthday party was a success and she absolutely loves her new Apple Watch. She is calling everyone from her wrist. Seriously!

Fearsome Mom

Fearsome Mom

Yes, I made the cake. Kentucky Butter Cake! (You can find the recipe HERE)

After a wonderful time with mom, Fearsome and I boarded our flight to start our journey home. Due to the tumultuous weekend of policy changes by decree we figured we may see a bit of discourse along the way. San Diego International did not disappoint.

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Outside baggage claim thousands of peaceful protestors as far as the eye could see, even on the upper level drop off area. We added our cheers of support as we made our way through the crowd having to walk to the smaller domestic flight only terminal for pick up. It was an uplifting walk after a weekend of disconcerting news.

Yesterday we took another step in our support of compassionate human values. If you are so inclined you can add your support as well simply by clicking HERE.

We are glad to be home safely with our family. We pray for everyone that are separated from families/loved ones and for all those that are displaced from their home/homelands that are simply seeking safe refuge in order to live.

 

Fearsome’s travel updates

We arrived safely in Ft Lauderdale only 20 hours later than the originally scheduled arrival time. Thanks to a helpful club concierge we were rescheduled on the easiest most comfortable route to our final destination. Fearsome has taught me that a smile, patience plus a few kind words go a long way with those who work in customer service. His wisdom worked to our favor.

After waiting out our delay in snowy Washington DC due to the line for de icing we were finally airborne. Shortly into the flight or Captian let us know that due to storms aloft we were re-routing but would make it to Ft. Lauderdale. He warned us if a bumpy flight ahead and that services may be delayed as from time to time the flight attendants would have to sit down and strap themselves in. Yeah! A thrill ride!

Actually the experience aloft turned out to be fairly smooth and the re-route took us out to sea. When landing in Ft Lauderdale on most often arrives over the Everglades but due to storms we descended to our destination via a route over the Bahamas. As the Captian put it we were going to just “slip in between storm fronts” so we could land safely.

Our sneaky route between storms allowed some incredible vistas from my window seat the United Club concierge snagged for me:

One of the Bahamas below.

One of the Bahamas below.

Storms in the distance.

Storms in the distance.

Stunning azul of the shallow Bahamas waters.

Stunning azul of the shallow Bahamas waters.

Storms head over Ft Lauderdale Beach during approach.

Storms head over Ft Lauderdale Beach during approach.

What we found when we got off the flight in Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International was a freakin’ mess. Due to all flights being cancelled the day before and the one whole terminal being closed as it was a crime scene, left our arrival terminal looking like something out of Night of The Living Dead. As we deplaned we entered a terminal packed to the point there wasn’t even a place for people to sit on the floor and the stranded passengers looked at us almost as if they were hungry enough to eat us. They wanted on to our aircraft and NOW!

The there was baggage claim. Oh shit!

Ft Lauderdale/Hollywood International United Baggage Claim 1/7/2017

Ft Lauderdale/Hollywood International United Baggage Claim 1/7/2017

Apparently in the evacuation of the airport during the previous days shootings everyone was told to leave their bags and run. These were just the yet to be claimed bags from arriving passengers. Departing passenger bags were available for claim and re-checking to destinations on one’s newly scheduled flight upstairs. The nightmare the day after a nightmare.

My bag? After a reschedule and a night left outside on the tarmac at Dulles International it arrived! Still frozen, but here with me! Whew.

I made my way to Dollar Rent A Car and was greeted with no line in which to wait but a friendly face who discounted my rental and upgraded me to a full size car “due to the travel interruptions” I had endured. I was off to my hotel and welcomed not only by a familiar and friendly face at the front desk but also by my comfortable and familiar room.

Room 219, Fearsome's favorite room.

Room 219, Fearsome’s favorite room.