Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's A Jungle Out There!

I just stepped out onto my rear deck. It was about a quarter after eleven, and since the temperature was mild, I wanted to get a breath of the cool night air. I flipped my porch light on and stepped out. Save for my light, and the distant porch lights of a few neighbors, it was pitch black out. Suddenly I heard what sounded like a very large cat letting out a loud snarl from a distance so close, that it made me very uncomfortable! This was nobody's pet tabby, nor was it a feral cat. It was much too loud. It had to be either a bobcat or a cougar. I know we have bobcats here in the Piedmont, but there have been no confirmed sightings of cougars for a very long time. Yet when I Googled wild cat sounds, this cougar sound was almost identical to what I heard coming from my woods, no more than 30 yards away. After hearing it a couple of times, I decided to douse the light, and step back into the safety of my house.

Melissa XX

French Transsexuals Gain A Small Victory!

How long before the rest of the world follows? Some countries have already taken the lead, but so many still lag behind. Those who adhere to strict gender norms will be displeased with some of the references in this article, but so what?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oliver Twist

What is it about Dickens, that stirs my soul? Could it be my own painful dark past, that makes me relate to his long suffering heros? I think there is more than a grain of truth in that assumption.

I am currently ensconced before the TV in my great room, my formerly trusty cozy quartz heater having finally gone on the fritz, yet here I remain completely mesmerized by a BBC production of Dickens' story of the hapless orphan Oliver. What a treasure Dickens' writings are, and what superb acting by the players in this wonderfully produced and directed mini-series! By the looks so far of Oliver, I'm counting on the rest of this BBC boxed set of Dickens' stories to be equally entertaining.

As usual, I went to my mother's for supper Monday night. When I get there, mom is usually in the kitchen, and I come in and fix myself a drink. She has an automatic ice maker, so I usually just grab a handfull of ice from her freezer and put it in a glass, then I reach for a two liter bottle of Root Beer or Dr. Pepper in her fridge, and pour a glassful. All went as expected until I reached for the ice. I put my hand into the pan holding the ice cubes from her automatic ice cube maker, but they were all frozen into a solid block!

I said, "Mom, your iced cubes are all stuck together", and pulled the pan out of the freezer to see what could be done about it. Mom..........yes my feeble ninety year old mom, took the pan away from me and hoisted it back into the freezer, where she proceded to bang the pan against the back wall of the freezer, in an attempt to loosen the frozen cubes! It seems she had previously left the freezer compartment door open, and all the cubes began to melt. Then, rather than just dump the defrosting mess into the sink and start a new pan of ice cubes, she just closed the door, and they all froze together into one solid block of ice! Of course her attempts to bang the cubes into submission was unsuccessful, and I asked her if she had an ice pick, which of course she didn't, but she did hand me a rather thin bladed steak knife, which I carefully began to chip the cubes apart with. Fortunately we only needed enough cubes for three drinks, since my bro-in-law and my niece weren't coming, and we sat down to a supper of chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes, a fresh garden salad, and chocolate pudding with a whipped cream topping.

Before I left my house for mom's I got a message on my phone from my sister. She wanted me to help her move a special reading device from an acquaintance of hers on a lower floor, up to mom's apartment. We would need a flat bed cart to move it, so when I arrived, I got the flat cart stored next to the utility elevator on the first floor, and proceeded to take it up to the tenth floor, on the utility elevator, but the utility elevator was out of service, so I had to take the cart around to the lobby and up on the the normal passenger elevator.

When I got there, my sister and I took the cart back down to the seventh floor and to her friend's apartment. What she was giving away was, a reading system for people with macular degeneration, which consisted of a 25" television set, and a camera system that mounts on a table over the book you are reading, and displays its text magnified many times on the TV screen. Mom was recently diagnosed with macular degeneration, and has had an increasingly difficult time reading, even with reading glasses, so this should be a big help to her.

I like to purchase DVD's, and when I'm done with them, I like to pass them on to my sister, for her enjoyment. Monday I gave her a two DVD set of an excellent mini-series called The Corner. It is about life in a run down black neighborhood in Baltimore, where some otherwise decent men, women and adolescents get caught up in the heroin and cocaine scene, and the resultant violence that has flooded their once peaceful neighborhood of row houses. It's a great series about a depressing subject, if you can handle it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and discovered how hard it is for those living in that environment to not get trapped in it, and once trapped, how hard it is to get out.

The ongoing TG vs TS war continues unabated, often hyperbolized in wishful thinking and self-serving rhetoric, but every now and then you hear a voice of reason. Teri, of Common Teri's Commentary is such a voice. She is a sweet, intelligent and talented trans woman, with her feet planted firmly on solid ground. Do yourself a favor it you haven't read her blog, and pay her a visit. By the way, she is a very talented audio, and visual artist! She plays guitar, writes and sings, and has done some very lovely photography, as well as some beautiful drawings.

The weather here has moderated significantly from just a couple of weeks ago. You'd think that spring had already arrived, with temperatures soaring into the mid to upper 70's°F several afternoons. Still, we had our sixth snowfall so far last night, albeit just a light dusting that was gone by mid-morning. My kind of snow!

Melissa XX

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Are You An Idolater?

I am! Now, I'm not speaking of kneeling before the golden calf. If I ever do that, you can come and put me in a straight jacket! No, I'm speaking of the pop TV show, American Idol. They are still in the process of separating the wheat from the chaff, but this year's show promises to showcase some pretty serious talent, if the contestants can only refrain from attempting to guild the lilly, as they have been so want to do in many seasons past. It appears that the worst offenders have been weeded out, so we shall see. After all, it takes more than pretentious vocal gymnastics to become the next American Idol.

Up to 65°F tomorrow, and 75°F on Friday! WTF? Has mother nature suddenly reverted from cruel bitch mode, and and taken pity on our poor suffering souls? What a fickle mistress she is! Give me one good reason why I should have any respect for her above any other deity? My view of deities is like that of the mischievous Greek gods, cruelly toying with us for their own pleasure. Who needs them?

On a somber heart is with CBS journalist, Lara Logan tonight, as she lays in a US hospital, recovering from a brutal beating, and sexual assault by a gang of despicable, ignorant, misogynistic thugs in Egypt this week, while covering the pro-democracy protests for her network. She will get over the bruises, but will she ever recover from the emotional trauma? Her experience highlights the dangers that all foreign correspondents must endure to send stories home from around the world, but especially the dangers faced by women reporting from countries where women are still treated with little more respect than slaves.

A moment ago, I was in my master bathroom, taking a pee (Shouldn't that be leaving a pee? Who would actually want to take a pee?), and even though it is after midnight, through the skylight, I could hear the Canada Geese on the pond out back, making a commotion. What could be disturbing them? Is there a fox, coyote, or bobcat prowling the bank? The geese tend to stay in the water, far from the shore, for their own protection. After all....long fanged predators, who would love nothing more than to dine on fat succulent gooseflesh, await there stupid mistakes.

But then the darker side of my imagination kicks in, and I begin to wonder if some murderous psychopath has escaped from the prison farm on the southern edge of the county, and stealthily made his way here to my wooded neighborhood to murder me. But now, the geese and the neighborhood dogs are all calm, so hopefully, any convicts on the prowl have moved on.

Melissa XX

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Early Arrival Of Spring?

I just paid my third electric bill in three months, in excess of $300. This one was the highest yet, at $344.44. Thankfully after more than 37 years of blood sweat and tears in an international chemical corporation's manufacturing plant, I have a decent secured pension, and could afford to heat my home this frigid winter. Sad to say, that many of those younger folks following me, will not be so lucky, as corporate leadership elected to do away with the company secured pension plan, and force everyone into funding their own retirement, through volatile IRA's, and 401 K's.

As cold as it has been for the last 2 and a half months, spring seems to be at our doorstep! Yesterday the mercury soared to 70°F/21°C, but along with it came tropical storm force winds, gusting at 40 to 50 MPH! Living on a wooded lot, high winds are always a concern, especially for the dead and dying trees, and yesterday was no exception, as an old dead tree gave up it's ghost, and tumbled down across the driveway. A last minute call had to be made to my mother, to inform her that I wouldn't be coming to supper, because I had some emergency lumberjacking to do.

In another sign of spring, I heard a tremendous chirping of birds this morning. I rushed to the back door to see what was causing the commotion, just in time to see a huge flock of starlings taking flight across our finally unfrozen pond, from the the trees above in my woods out back. They are amazing birds, and when in flight, remind me of schools of fish, in the way they behave as a single unit.

I must be getting old, because Im not very keen on learning new tricks. I recently obtained a DVD of The Social Network, because it had received rave reviews, and won a bunch of Oscars at the Academy Awards Show. I'm sorry to say that I was not all that impressed. It did have and intense driving musical score, that kept the film on a very upbeat pace, but the storyline about a surly, obnoxious computer geek, starting up Facebook, left me kind of cold. I'd give it maybe, six or seven stars out of ten. I'm just not that impressed with the subject. Indeed, I rarely ever visit my own Facebook account, because just like Betty White, I think FB, Twitter, and the like, are such a colossal waste of time. I've thought about closing my Facebook account, but I keep getting requests for friendship from people I have met here on Blogger, and many others I have never met at all. My usual reply is to accept the ones I know, with the caveat, that I rarely ever check into my account, so don't hang around waiting for me to respond if you leave a message. I will eventually get to it, but by then any response will more likely than not, be irrelevant.

Here is a treat for you all. Unfortunately, I can't embed the video. It's a lovely clip of an Orangutan and Blue Tick Hound, who have become the best of pals! Check it out here.

Melissa XX

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It Snowed Again Tonight............

...........for the sixth time so far this winter, but we have been incredibly lucky here in the Virginia Piedmont this winter, compared to last year. We have been on the fringes of all the major blizzards blowing from the southwest up to the northeast. Tonight was no exception, just another light dusting. Maybe a half, to an inch of snow. A mere sweep with a broom tomorrow and the deck will be cleared. If we have to endure snow, let it always be thus!

Tonight I popped in a DVD of Alice In Wonderland (the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version). As the movie started, I ate a light supper, consisting of a skinless/boneless chicken thigh, some collard greens and a small serving of baked beans. Hardly a carbohydrate laden meal, but halfway into the movie, I started to nod. I think the fact that I only slept for 4 1/2 hours the night before may have had something to do with it. I tend to stay up late, and even though I have venetian blinds in my bedroom, when the morning sun begins to shine, I wake up, and once awake, I have a hard time going back to sleep. So....if after a half an hour or so, and I haven't fallen back to sleep, I usually just get up and fix breakfast. I'm usually good for the rest of the day then, but I think it catches up with me in the evening. I'll have to give Alice another try. What little I did see was fascinating! I love Tim Burton's art.

My longtime readers all know of my love for the works of Gustav Mahler. Right now I am typing this post to the strains of his Symphony N0. 1 "Titan", by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. It's perfectly magical! Please take the time to enjoy this little snippet.

Melissa XX

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It Isn't Easy Being Green

Kermit is absolutely right!

I like to eat green things. Not Kermit of course! I could never eat such a dear sweet frog. However.........shamefully though I must admit, over the course of my life, I have eaten a few of his cousins........possibly even some of his brothers and sisters!

Of course the kind of green thing I'm speaking of, is the green, leafy, cruciferous kind. I love greens. In addition to Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and altough not green, Cauliflower, I usually buy a can or two of mixed greens........turnip,and mustard usually. Last night while shopping, I remembered how long it's been since I had eaten collard greens, another one of my favorites, so I bought a can of them too. I had planned on eating them tonight with my supper, so I opened the can.

Now, because canned vegetables usually have an over abundance of sodium, it's been my practice to pour off the liquid before heating them up. So.......I partially opened the lid on the can of collards, and began to pour off the briny liquid. I poured.........and I poured.........and I poured..........and I poured........hmmm! There is an awful lot of liquid in this can, I thought. I continued to pour. By the time I was done pouring, the can felt extremely light. I resumed opening the top with my can opener, and sure enough, there was but a half a can of greens left inside! My first thought was, "The stingy bastards!" Then I realized I must have gotten the last can of the batch! Still, poor quality control.

But, que serĂ¡ serĂ¡! My luck was rotten, but not as bad as the man who found a mouse in his bottle of beer, the woman who found a thumb in her can of peas, or the hapless soul who found a breaded, deep fried chicken head in their order of chicken McNuggets!

As Teri posted on her blog yesterday, always look on the bright side of life!

Melissa XX

Monday, February 7, 2011

Working Up A Sweat

No.......this is not going to be a blog about hard work or exercise, what I'm talking about here is a simple trip to the grocery store. Tell me please, is there some kind universal law governing retail merchants, that compels them to keep the heat in their stores at 80°F or higher throughout the winter? For my non-American readers that would approximate 27°C.

From past experience, I knew it was going to be warm in Krogers this evening, so I intentionally left my jacket in the truck, thinking a lightweight cotton shirt and a cardigan sweater would be just the ticket. About five minutes in, I began to wonder what their monthly electric bill was, and then how hard their refrigerated cases had to work to compensate for the ridiculously high ambient temperature. Then begrudgingly, my thoughts drifted to how much cheaper my weekly grocery bill would be, if they would only lower their thermostat to a more reasonable 72°F/22°C.

Warm as it was while pushing my cart around the store, it was nothing compared to the burning hell of the checkout lanes, where heat ducts have been strategically placed to ensure that cashiers and baggers don't have to suffer the life threatening consequences of gooseflesh! God forbid they should ever be advised to put on a sweater if they feel a chill!

So there I was in the self-checkout lane, my sweater living up to it's name. By the time I had finished packing my first bag of groceries, I could feel beads of sweat forming on my forehead, and by the time I was ready to pay my bill, my undershirt was sticking to my flesh! The temperature outside was just 47°F/8.3°C, but it felt like heaven when I emerged from that cauldron. I crossed the parking lot and loaded my groceries into the truck, then put my cart in the adjacent cart corral. Getting into the truck, I removed my cap and wiped the sweat from my brow. Needless to say, my jacket remained on the passenger's seat for trip home.

Supper at my mother's was pleasant this evening. My niece couldn't make it, but the other usual suspects were there. My sister told me she enjoyed the DVD of The Girl With The Pearl Earring that I gave her for her birthday last week. That entire movie is shot to ressemble a Johannes Vermeer's painting. If you haven't seen it, and love Dutch Golden Age art, you will surely enjoy this movie.

My bro-in-law wanted to tell a story, that he had already told us three times, about his brother using a hernia as an excuse not to lift anything over 25 lbs. He began by saying........"Did I ever tell you about about the time I............", to which my sister said, "Yes, you have." Well, he proceeded to tell the story again anyway! When he was done, I said that's the fourth time you've told us that story, you must be losing your short term memory, to which my sister replied, "I wish I was losing mine!"

Melissa XX

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Just Finished Watching The Tudors Tonight

Whoever said there was nothing worth watching on television, never saw The Tudors. I just finished watching the final season, and it was one of the best series I have ever seen on TV, bar none.

Even though Henry VIII was portrayed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as more of a young rock star, than the portly potentate that he truly was, it was still great television. The cinema-photography was nothing less than stunning. The costumes, and especially the dresses worn by Henry's Queens and their maids, were absolutely gorgeous! The script was wonderful, and the acting.....? Nothing short of superb!

The series pulled no punches for the sake of political correctness, and there were several scenes in the Tower and on the gallows, that brought me to outright fits of weeping, over man's inhumanity to fellow man. How in the world was it ever conceived as just, to hang, draw, and quarter someone in front of a crowd, or burn them at the stake, let alone to torture them unmercifully in a dungeon beforehand, in order to draw out a confession? Sadly, there are still those unenlightened ones among us, who wouldn't hesitate, out of allegiance to their country or cause, to do similar things to their perceived enemies today.

The Tudors is a series well worth watching. If you are so inclined, you can buy all four seasons at If so, it will be money well worth spent.

Melissa XX

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


It's raining right now. I suppose that should be a relief, I mean at least it's not another round of snow. And yes, it is a relief. We've had five snow falls so far this winter, and even though none of them have approached the depths of last winter's three blizzards, they are still an unwelcome hassle. Pretty as they are coming down and during the morning after, the reality of shoveling a walkway, and clearing the vehicle sets in, and then there is the constant dripping and refreezing of the of the snow melting off the roof onto the deck below. I hope we've seen the last of it for this year. Temperatures over the last few days would indicate that winter is making its exit, but I'm not nearly naive enough to buy into that. It was a balmy 48° F today, and it's expected to soar to 57° F tomorrow, but I'm no fool. February has just begun, and Februarys past have brought us some of our most memorable snows, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
That great old Stones hit was playing in my head, as I rolled out of Ruby Tuesdays parking lot on my way home last night. Ruby Tuesdays is a restaurant chain, and last night my sister, my mother, my bro-in-law, and me met there to celebrate my sister's 67th birthday. You would never guess her age by looking at her. She is still very adorable, and not just in looks. She has an equally adorable personality as well.
I gave her two DVD's of movies that I thought she would like. She was an art major in college, so I'm sure her interests are far more sophisticated than mine. Nevertheless, we share a love for a lot of the same things, especially beautiful things. I remembered her saying that she had not seen Memoirs of a Geisha, an absolutely beautiful movie, so I got her a DVD of it, and added a DVD of Girl With The Pearl Earring, about a young peasant maid, working in the house of painter, Johannes Vermeer, who becomes his talented assistant, and the model for one of his most famous works, an equally beautiful movie! If you have never seen it, I wholeheartedly encourage you too. Johannes Vermeers paintings are absolutely wonderful, with some of the most beautiful representations of light and color that I have ever seen. The wonderful thing about this particular movie, is that it is shot to look just like his paintings! I remember first putting it in the DVD player, and instantly falling in love with it! I had remembered my sister asking about Memoirs of a Geisha, so I thought that I would get that for her too, but when she opened it, she said she had just bought it for herself, so she will be giving that one to someone else. Well..........I guess 1 out of 2 isn't bad. Buying presents for someone is always a shot in the dark. That's why I write checks for my sister and nieces at Christmas time, so they can buy whatever they want. Maybe I should do the same for birthdays, but I'm not so sure. Birthdays are more intimate than Christmas, where everyone is getting something. Birthdays are our own special day. Shouldn't we all be made to feel special on them?

Ruby Tuesdays was a welcome departure from Red Slobster. Better atmosphere, and definitely better food! My sister and mom got the Talapia, my bother got his standard New York strip steak that he gets regardless of the venue, and I got their classic cheeseburger and fries (chips), and a plateful of salad from the salad bar. I have to have my veggies! I was hoping to get a buffalo burger, but sadly they are no longer on the menue. Mom and my sister shared some sort of torte, apple I think, with a scoop of some sort of nondescript (my sister couldn't describe the flavor) beige colored ice cream for desert, but I declined. My cheeseburger, fries, and salad smothered in Ranch dressing, had enough calories to last me until lunch the next day! I offered to helped pay for the meal, but mom said she wanted to put it on her card, and I wasn't going to argue with her over it! Never look a gift horse in the mouth!

On the way out after we parted with our b-in-l, and my sister raised her concern that not only did he not give her a gift, but he didn't even offer to help pay the tab, even though he is loaded. She remembered that he had come to our mother's birthday meal with no present, and paid for his meal separately instead of sharing the bill. She said she wanted to write him a letter, telling him how selfish he was, but I told her not to waste her time, because he was just a tightwad and it would only fall on deaf ears. You can't shame people like that. They are completely self centered, and any criticism rolls right off their back, like water off a duck.

After getting pretty fed up with my poor reception of the new broadcast digital TV channels, I succumbed to the lure of the internet and, and bought a passel of DVD's. After all, I have to have something to watch at night! If you look to the right resources, you can find a lot of good viewing out there. In addition to watching episodes of PBS Masterpiece Theater's Downton Abbey on line, so far I have almost completed watching HBO's mini series, The Pacific. It is an excellent series produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielburg, and it is a vey accurate depiction of the US Marine Corps 1st Division combat on Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa in WWII. WARNING! You will get combat fatigue watching this series! When I said it was an accurate depiction, I wasn't fooling. Lots and lots of very realistic bloody close combat scenes, with no punches pulled. It was very hard to take at times, and I shed quite a few tears watching it, but I felt like I owed it to the many who gave their lives and sufferd the horrors, to experience what they went through, if only vicariously. If you don't weep for the those who fell, or lost their innocence in that horrible wretched war, then you are indeed a lost soul.

Another series I am into at the moment, is The Tudors. I love it! I've watched all three previous seasons of this depiction of Henry VIII, and his wives, and now I'm watching the final season. It is one of the most beautifully filmed series I have ever seen, and it really captures the politics and intrigue of his court, as well as Henry's own machinations and of course, his narcissism.

I'm also very fond of old TV westerns...........and no silly, thats not transvestite westerns! I'm talking about old television cowboy shows. I saw an add for the complete late 1950's series Wanted Dead Or Alive, starring a very young Steve McQueen, and I had to jump on it! It's great! Just as good as I remembered, when I saw it on it TV, as a 10 year old kid! What amazes me, is how they were able back then, to pack a great story into one 30 minute TV show, but after watching the timer on my DVD player I had a clue. Today, an hour of TV has about 20 minutes of commercials. These old shows ran an average of 25 to 26 minutes, meaning that they were interrupted for commercials less than half the time of today's TV shows, and a 20 second Speedy Alka-Seltzer commercial was a whole lot more entertaining, than a depressing, intensive two minute hard sell pharmaceutical, or cancer treatment center commercial is today. Thank god for the mute button!

Another great mini-series I'm watching is the Emmy award winning series, The Corner, about the lives of hapless souls, trapped in a drug ridden neighborhood of inner city Baltimore. A modern day Dickensian tale, but with true stories about real people. Truly great stuff, filled with very sad, hilarious, and poignant moments!

I also got a BBC collection of Dickens' works, including Our Mutual Friend, Great Expectations, Hard Times, Bleak House, Martin Chuzzlewit, and Oliver Twist. I can't wait to dive into them! I do love Charles Dickens! After a life of many frustrations, I can identify so well with his subjects.

On A Sadder Note
Unfortunately, I removed myself as a follower from a certain person's blog today. I had been contemplating it for a while, but refrained, because I was still unsure of this person's true nature. I truly admired her for her independent spirit, and especially for her artistic abilities, but she had dark side that always disturbed me. She would occasionally type angry polemics about the state of affairs in American politics, and recently began to pen angry diatribes against the mainstream trans community. Her latest angry rant was the last straw for me. It left me wondering, who pissed in this poor girl's cornflakes? Who, or what has caused this trans woman to be so angry with the rest of us, that she would go out of her way to push away people that tried to befriend her? It made me sad, to leave. I love most people and I'm more than willing to forgive them for their faults, but who wants to befriend someone who wants to smack you in the mouth, every time you misunderstand them? I'm sorry girl. I sincerely wanted to be your friend, but you pushed me away. I leave you in peace.

Happy Candlemas, everyone! Only six weeks til spring!

Melissa XX