Sunday, July 03, 2011

It's About Time...UPDATED with pictures!

Well, another month has sped by…and “the 4th of July crept up on little cat feet,” as Jean Shepherd paraphrased in his wonderful tale, The Legend of Ludlow Kissel.

I have to admit, I have become a Bad Blogger. Who would have thought that retiring would mean LESS writing of blogs instead of more? It’s just as the old adage says, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Or in this case, a working person. I’ve even been lazy about checking e-mail these days.

It hasn’t been all sloth and lethargy, though. I’ve been doing some writing for a local blog, covering events in my town, and perhaps I have been expending my writing energy that way, leaving none left for my own blog.

Plus, DH, his dad, my aunt and I all went to Cape Cod during the second week in June – followed by my coming down with a dreadful, energy-sapping, soul-sucking cold that actually took two weeks to go away. It included a consumptive cough, a head cold, and a temporary loss of the ability to taste things, which was certainly not a pleasant way to spend the middle of June. (Luckily that sense has returned, along with my appetite, something that is rarely out of commission under ordinary circumstances).

I can’t say nothing happened in the past month worth talking about – far from it. Of course, the most important event of all was the recent passage of the gay marriage bill by the New York State Legislature, and immediate signing thereof by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had pushed so hard for the law to pass. The news of the law’s passage came late Friday night last weekend, when we were up at our cabin in the Adirondacks.

I was thrilled that this finally happened – especially in New York, which is so tied in with the gay rights movement, starting back in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots. It’s about time, New York! Now if only my home state of New Jersey would follow suit. Of course, our governor, Chris Christie, in his usual pleasant way, has said he’d veto any effort by the legislature to pass a gay marriage bill in his state. Remind me again how we ended up electing this guy? It certainly wasn’t a choice I made. I think I’ll start thinking of New York as my home state. It feels better.

It was inspirational to see Governor Cuomo go about his efforts to push through the bill. According to columnist Maureen Dowd, who recently interviewed the governor,

"The governor says he sold the marriage-equality bill as a matter of conscience and didn’t try to buy off any recalcitrant lawmakers with promises about roads or bridges.

He said Senator Roy McDonald, a Republican who grew up in public housing and represents a somewhat conservative district in the Albany area, told him that he wanted to vote for the bill because 'it’s the right thing. I believe my God is a God of love and acceptance.'"

The four Republicans who voted "yes" deserve a great deal of credit for bucking their party's line and doing the right thing.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg gets some credit as well, as he expended a lot of political clout on its behalf.

It’s too bad President Obama can’t get any further in his “evolving” viewpoint on the subject and come out strongly in favor of it. He still says it’s an issue best left to the states, and while there may be some political reasoning behind this, that wouldn’t stop him from at least saying honestly what he believes in. (Note to the President: “states’ rights” was the excuse given for ongoing segregation as well.) And now that 53% of Americans approve of gay marriage, the tide of popular opinion is starting to turn - not that people’s intrinsic rights as human beings should be decided by popular opinion in the first place.

It’s possible that leaving it to the states for awhile would still be a wise policy, until enough states passed gay marriage or civil union laws to reach a tipping point where the Supreme Court would be more likely to rule in favor of gay marriage.

But in the meantime, federal laws do not recognize those state-endorsed marriages, depriving spouses of federal pensions and social security benefits from their partners, and marital law in general will be a mess once people start moving around the country and try to get their marriages (or divorces) recognized in other states, as John Schwartz in the NY Times discussed in today’s paper.

And if the Administration is ostensibly no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act, why doesn’t President Obama use his bully pulpit, as Cuomo did his, to try to get Congress to repeal it? I can only hope he is waiting till after the next election, when he no longer has to worry about being re-elected, before pushing for this. But if he wants to win that election, he’d do better by supporting his base, which includes many gay rights advocates, than kowtowing to a conservative populace that won’t vote for him anyway. Just once I'd like him to do something bold about this issue, which should be a matter of conscience for everyone, not a political calculation.

In other June news, Republican candidates continued to come out of the woodwork, but I am not paying much attention to them at this point. Wake me up next year when we have some idea of which way the wind is blowing. Right now the group includes rightwing ideologues like Michelle Bachman, perpetual candidates like Ron Paul and now Newt Gingrich; and a range of more mainstream candidates like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, who are stepping all over themselves trying to be more rightwing so the primary voters will vote for them.

Then there's the botched rape case against the former IMF director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. At first it all seemed so simple: Aging lecherous Frenchman rapes innocent immigrant just trying to make a life for herself in the United States. Turns out she wasn't so innocent, had some unsettling ties to drug dealers, and had a history of lying to the government when seeking asylum a few years earlier. Her stories were inconsistent and her credibility damaged. So now Strauss-Kahn is leaving his house arrest and the case is in disarray. But the question remains: Just because she's a liar, do we know for sure he's not a rapist?

So, enough of all that...I will just concentrate on what we’ve been up to the past month. Our annual spring trip to the Cape was a big success. My aunt came with us this time and stayed in the cottage my mother always stayed in. She hadn’t been up to the Cape in about 15 years, so was happy to finally get back there. Her 18-year-old cat had just had to be put to sleep, and the trip helped get her mind off that. And, in fact, if she still had the cat, she might not have felt comfortable going away for a week, so it all worked out for the best in some ways. Amazingly, we had wonderful, warm, sunny, clear weather for 5 of the 7 days we were there, and even the other two days were just partly cloudy.

We did all the usual Cape things: went out for lobster, sat on the bay beach not far from our cottages, took a ride to Provincetown. We also spent a lot of time just relaxing on the serene grounds of the cottages, looking out at the pond.

I had a few gratifying chats with the lovely woman who is the owner of the cottages we stay at, a staunch Democrat who was a supporter of Barack Obama before I had even decided who to support in the primaries. Now she asked me, somewhat wistfully, "Do you think he can survive the haters? The Tea Partiers?" (We were there not long after the most recent kerfluffle about his birthplace.) I assured her I thought that wasn't going to be his problem, but that he should do more to support his own base. She agreed, saying she wasn't always happy with everything he's done, but continues to support him nevertheless. I think a lot of Democrats would agree with that sentiment. But I'm not sure about the indpendents, and there will his problem in 2012 if things don't improve.

Diva and Angel had a great time at the Cape also. Diva, as usual, loved her swimming sessions in the pond. We tried to get Angel to go in, but she apparently is not really a swimming-style of dog. She did go in up to her shoulders and at one point took off swimming toward a school of ducks (do ducks travel in schools? Herds? Bevies?). Her prey drive is stronger than her dislike of swimming, apparently.

Here are pictures of Diva and Angel, close up. In the second one you can see Diva is getting impatient with picture-taking and revving up her "demand bark." This picture definitely shows the difference in their personalities!

And a nice portrait of Angel lying in the grass near the deck of the cottage.

My aunt reading with Diva sprawled in front of her.

The ducks in the pond were very bold; one mama duck kept trying to come up to our cottage when we were sitting outside, followed by her babies. She kept coming even as both dogs went nuts barking at her. We kept having to get up and shoo her away. Someone who was previously in that cottage must have been feeding her!

DH’s dad had a good time too – he always does. We went twice to his favorite restaurant, and he ate lobster in all forms at every meal, including baked stuffed, steamed, in the form of a lobster salad roll, and more.

We had a low-key Father’s Day; just had Dad up for a pancake breakfast out on the deck. By that time my cold had improved enough that I was functional and able to be a hostess! Here's a portrait of DH and his dad and Dad's "grandchildren."

Now comes the real “cabin season.” We are finally getting warmer weather, after a long, cool, rainy spring. Even as recently as last weekend the weather was so cool at night up at the cabin that a fire in the woodstove was needed at least once a day to take the chill off.

Now it’s finally warmer, so we’re using the outdoor firepit out on the deck for our fires in the evening. But even still, the weather is unpredictable - yesterday, clear blue skies and sunny; today, thunderstorms, clouds and rain. But even then it is peaceful and beautiful at the cabin, and better than being in the hustle and bustle of suburban New Jersey. The dogs both love it here and like to lounge around on the deck and relax, looking out at the woods and occasional wildlife. Angel, who is so over-reactive to every human-generated noise at home, is calm here. Nature doesn’t trigger her alarm.

We’ve planted a miniature raised garden here at the cabin, using bricks that were left lying around by the previous owner. Our crops include basil, rosemary, and oregano. We just extended this little garden and will now plant some beans to see if we can get a small crop of string beans. Plus we bought two patio tomato plants that we’re hoping will survive our absences long enough to yield some home grown tomatoes. Surprisingly, nothing seems to be eating our herb garden. It will be interesting to see if string beans are another matter.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, and I don’t know whether we will participate in any local festivities or not. Before we came up to the cabin we went with friends to the annual county display of fireworks in our local park, so we had our fix already. Up here, a couple of years ago before we had our own cabin, we stayed over in Schroon Lake and sat outside and watched their annual 4th of July parade go by, and later sat on the beach at the lake being eaten by mosquitoes and watched the fireworks there. But that’s kind of far away. So tomorrow may be another quiet day here…but that’s fine with me!

Angel by the pond - she is enjoying the country life.

Hope everyone has a happy, safe and fun Fourth! I'm posting this without pictures but will update tomorrow - when the sluggish internet connection here might be better - with pictures of the dogs and more!


Christopher said...

I was starting to think I had another dead link to remove.

Glad that isn't the case.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. What can I say except I think we have our presidential candidate for 2012 or 2016. He's a shining example of leadership on LGBT issues. Obama should watch and learn instead of capitulating to the religious right and the GOP. Obama is way in over his head. He belongs in the US senate -- not the White House.

So excited are we about marriage equality in New York that Jim wants us to move back to the Empire state. I'm not so sure as the cold, snowy winters just leave me, well, cold. Maybe we will marry and return west, as New York has no residency requirements.

Glad you're still writing even if it isn't on your blog. Writing is so cathartic and fun.

Mauigirl said...

Great to hear from you Christopher! I know, I've been bad...but don't give up on me. I need to set aside one day a week for blogging. I have been too caught up in crossposting dogs over at Facebook trying to save them becomes all-consuming. I hope to blog at least once a week, call it a summer resolution since it's not New Year's!

I agree, Cuomo would make a great candidate in '16. 2012 would probably not be a good idea for him as it would disrupt the party plus he probably would be more prepared after a full term as governor. The pundits are already slavering over the idea of Christie vs. Cuomo. I don't understand their love of New Jersey's answer to the rabid right. I can't stand the guy. I have a feelig Cuomo could outsmart him easily though.

That would be great if you came out here for a wedding trip - but isn't there still hope the courts will finalize same-sex marriage in California? I know it's still in limbo but you could always come here first and then do it again there! This is changing, state by state - and it will be the law of the land eventually!

Fran said...

Good to see you Maui.
You know all I can say is its a good thing MLK did not approach Civil Rights as a States rights issue, and neither should LBGT equal rights be handled in that way.
Sure it is a step in the right direction, but cross a State line & *poof* your marriage can disappear.
No laughing matter.
But here in Oregon we passed equal rights marriage, then some idiot out of state group pressed to have it reversed & won.
Its too volatile to that kind of tampering.

My favorite part of that story is a courthouse near Corvallis protested by refusing to perform ANY marriages or process marriage license applications because the denial to gay people was discrimination & against State & Federal laws!
Now that was some creative thinking.
Either don't discriminate or shut the whole thing down.
they were later ordered to resume, but I loved their response.

Oh well... the canines look like they are having fun & so do the pet humans.

Dave Dubya said...

I'm glad your "whole pack" had a good time.