C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

In Memoriam: The Dance

My first husband in 2009, the last time I heard from him.
By chance, I just recently learned that he died in 2020, age 54.
By all accounts, he loved his life and was much loved.

Thirty Years Ago

We Danced.

Planet & Comet

Took a Big Chance.

Big Love.  Big Loss.  

Big Hurt -- Long Time.

Hard Lesson.

All Forgiven.   

Bless you, Babe.  

Roll on through Heaven.

Russ in 2009.
Everybody's got to leave the darkness sometime.


This is post 1 of 4


Sunday, December 25, 2022

The King's Christmas Broadcast, 2022

A Christian king addresses his multi-faith people in Britain and around the world. Continuing a tradition set by the late Queen, King Charles makes his first Christmas broadcast, and in my view. says all the right things in just the right way. Well done, Sir. 

I am standing here in this exquisite Chapel of St George at Windsor Castle, so close to where my beloved mother, the late Queen, is laid to rest with my dear father.

I am reminded of the deeply touching letters, cards and messages which so many of you have sent my wife and myself and I cannot thank you enough for the love and sympathy you have shown our whole family.

Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones. We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition.

In the much-loved carol O Little Town Of Bethlehem we sing of how “in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light”.

My mother’s belief in the power of that light was an essential part of her faith in God, but also her faith in people and it is one which I share with my whole heart.

It is a belief in the extraordinary ability of each person to touch, with goodness and compassion, the lives of others, and to shine a light in the world around them.

This is the essence of our community and the very foundation of our society.

We see it in the selfless dedication of our armed forces and emergency services who work tirelessly to keep us all safe, and who performed so magnificently as we mourned the passing of our late Queen.

We see it in our health and social care professionals, our teachers and indeed all those working in public service, whose skill and commitment are at the heart of our communities.

And at this time of great anxiety and hardship, be it for those around the world facing conflict, famine or natural disaster, or for those at home finding ways to pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm, we see it in the humanity of people throughout our nations and the Commonwealth who so readily respond to the plight of others.

I particularly want to pay tribute to all those wonderfully kind people who so generously give food or donations, or that most precious commodity of all, their time, to support those around them in greatest need, together with the many charitable organisations which do such extraordinary work in the most difficult circumstances.

Our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras, have once again united in feeding the hungry, providing love and support throughout the year. Such heartfelt solidarity is the most inspiring expression of loving our neighbour as our self.

The Prince and Princess of Wales recently visited Wales, shining a light on practical examples of this community spirit.

Some years ago, I was able to fulfil a life-long wish to visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.

There, I went down into the Chapel of the Manger and stood in silent reverence by the silver star that is inlaid on the floor and marks the place of our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth.

It meant more to me than I can possibly express to stand on that spot where, as the Bible tells us, ‘the light that has come into the world’ was born.

While Christmas is, of course, a Christian celebration, the power of light overcoming darkness is celebrated across the boundaries of faith and belief.

So, whatever faith you have, or whether you have none, it is in this life-giving light, and with the true humility that lies in our service to others, that I believe we can find hope for the future.

Let us therefore celebrate it together, and cherish it always.

With all my heart, I wish each of you a Christmas of peace, happiness and everlasting light.


Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas 2022

Madonna and Child by Il Sassoferrato, 1674. 

Another Christmas has arrived, another year has passed.  When I was a little boy, it seemed that Christmas took forever to get here, and the wait was awful.  Now it seems more and more that Christmases just fly by, like transit stops, and are gone before you have time to register the fact.

But amid all the changes and chances of this frantic modern world, Christmas endures as a fixed point in everyone's life, even for non-believers, and its traditions are remarkably steadfast:  the Christmas tree loaded with decorations and lights, presents wrapped in all manner of glittering ways, lights in the windows and on the roof, a gargantuan feast of all sorts of delicacies that "we always have" at this time, and for most folks, a houseful of family and friends, all ages, at least for Christmas dinner.  It has been said that "you can't go home again," and in a certain sense that is very true; but even so, Christmas remains the one day of the year that you just must "go home again," even if you don't particularly want to.  And, sadly, some people don't.  For others, there is no longer any "home" to go to.

But for most, Christmas dinner is a love feast, a few hours of merriment, remembrance, and affection, a joyful reconnection with the people we love most.  In Christian terms, it typifies at the family table the Feast of the Incarnation that we celebrate in church - or would, if our infirmities did not prevent us from doing so.  That magnum mysterium - God becoming a man - a baby - born to a human mother, not in a palace but in a stable full of animals and all their smells - with not even a cradle to lie in, but a manger - a feed trough, we might say - the great humility and tender love of the Creator for his creatures, shown in the humblest possible circumstances.  In the golden words of the Communion Prayer, which means so much to me (emphasis mine):
Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us
for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become
subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus
Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human
nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.
A breathtaking thought!  People around the world worship many gods, but I know of no other religion which proclaims that God Himself became man and dwelt among us.  And not to lord it over us or live in royal state, but to fail miserably, as the world accounts failure, abandoned by his friends and condemned to a brutal death, as the prayer I just quoted continues:
He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself,
in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole
And so death was not the end of the story, but the beginning - the divine paradox at work here is rather typical of God, actually:  the first shall be last, and the last shall be first, and so on.  And from that inglorious end, from that glorious beginning, countless millions of believers have drawn comfort and hope in every sort of adversity, and strength to do good works of all sorts at all times and places; to spend their lives in loving, humble service to God and their neighbors, according to the light they had.

A humble faith gives meaning and purpose to even the most obscure life.  Of course, not every Christian life is a successful one - but by Our Lord's own example, we may understand that what seems a useless failure to worldly eyes is perhaps not quite so worthless in the sight of Heaven.  I was struck by something the dear old Queen said in one of her recent Christmas broadcasts, which appears on the sidebar of my blog, and has become a light in my heart:
We cannot all do great things; 
but we can do small things with great love.
To which I would add, Keep on; do what you can.  Our small efforts may not seem like much in the world's eyes or in the scheme of the universe; but He whose eye is on the sparrow will surely value them at a higher rate, if done for love's sake.  Because that is what the Christian religion is all about:  God is Love.  The love of parent and child; of brothers and sisters; of spouses and neighbors and friends; of all mankind, rich and poor, high and low alike; the Love that moves the stars, as the poet says.

That is what Christmas means to me:  the remembrance of a profound act of love by God for us foolish, faithless, selfish human beings, which gave us the means of grace in this life and the hope of glory in the next.  Even if you do not believe the story is true - and I do not say anyone must - you can still, I hope, appreciate it as a magnificent piece of poetry, a feast for the soul, and a light in the darkness, which this rough old world is always in need of.  We would do well to keep the feast in our hearts all the year through.


Well, there's your Christmas sermon in case you don't make it to midnight mass.  But having gotten that off my chest, I wish a very Merry Christmas to Tim, Frank, Davis, and all my other truckbuddies - God bless us, every one!

Our new 7.5-foot tree (cost only $25), with a rotating star
 full of rainbow-colored lights.

Our happy little hacienda in a rainbow of colored lights; the pic does not convey the real beauty.  All of these new-fangled lights are quite bright and distinct from one another, though they appear to blur together in the photo.  Some of them in the windows and around the eaves twinkle.

P. S. - Go hear Frank's very talented niece singing "O Holy Night."


Friday, December 23, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend

Good boy or naughty boy, Santa's got something for you!


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Zelensky Visits Washington


During a lightning ten-hour visit to Washington, D. C., yesterday, embattled Ukrainian President Zelensky - the Winston Churchill of our time - met with President Biden at the White House and also gave an address to a joint session of Congress.  The gallant wartime leader appeared haggard and hoarse, quite understandably, but remained resolute and defiant, as the Associated Press reports:
Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy told cheering U.S. legislators during a defiant wartime visit to the nation’s capital on Wednesday that against all odds his country still stands, thanking Americans for helping to fund the war effort with money that is “not charity,” but an “investment” in global security and democracy.

The whirlwind stop in Washington — his first known trip outside his country since Russia invaded in February — was aimed at reinvigorating support for his country in the U.S. and around the world at a time when there is concern that allies are growing weary of the costly war and its disruption to global food and energy supplies.

Zelenskyy called the tens of billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic assistance provided over the past year vital to Ukraine’s efforts to beat back Russia and appealed for even more in the future.

“Your money is not charity,” he sought to reassure both those in the room and those watching at home. “It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”
I continue to pray for Ukraine's deliverance and peace.  I don't see how this stupid war can end unless we bomb the hell out of Russia, or Putin croaks, whichever comes first.  But we can't just abandon the Ukrainians to a grisly fate, either.  All of this gives me a new and deeper perspective on the fears and feelings people must have had in the lead-up to World War II, when the outlook was dim and the outcome was as yet uncertain.  Please God, there will not a third world war.  

Here in Texas, the arctic blast has arrived, and temperatures are steadily falling - it's 16 degrees as I write, with a wind chill of -5.  Brrr!  We won't be above freezing again until Christmas Day.  In our happy but drafty old bungalow, it's already quite cool, despite the gas furnace and the electric fireplace running continuously.  My thoughts and sympathies are with the poor Ukrainian people who now have no lights, heat, water, or in many cases, any kind of home to hunker down in.  All because of one wicked old man's twisted lust for power.

There has been talk in scientific circles of late about sending manned missions to the Moon again, or maybe even to Mars.  If it comes to pass, I've already got a short list of prime candidates to be given free one-way tickets aboard the first rocket going.
I've got a little list, I've got a little list,
Of societal offenders who never would be missed --
Who never would be missed!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Liz Cheney Denounces Trump's "Utter Moral Failure"


From the YouTube description:
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., spoke on Dec. 19 as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack presented its final findings to the public.

She blasted former President Donald Trump’s actions in office on the day of the Jan. 6 attack. Cheney referenced testimony from Trump administration officials collected by the committee that said the former president watched the riot on television from inside the White House without calling on his supporters to stop.

“This was an utter moral failure and a clear dereliction of duty,” she said. “No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again. He is unfit for any office.”

Cheney said Jan. 6 was the first time an American president “refused his constitutional duty” to transfer power peacefully.

“The committee recognizes that our work has only begun,” she said. “It's only the initial step in addressing President Trump's effort to remain in office illegally.”

The Jan. 6 committee will release its full report later this week as the panel wraps up its work.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Sunday Drive: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, 
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means, “God is with us.”


Friday, December 16, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Biden Signs Respect for Marriage Act

In a ceremony at the south front of the White House, President Biden today signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, thereby extending the protections of federal law to millions of gay, lesbian, and interracial couples nationwide.  A landmark piece of legislation that wipes DOMA off the books.

And I have lived to see this day.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Sunday Drive: The Magnificat, John Michael Talbot

 The Third Sunday of Advent

The Song of Mary

Luke 1:46-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.


Friday, December 9, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend


Thursday, December 8, 2022

House Passes Respect for Marriage Act

The U. S. House of Representatives today passed the Senate version of the Respect for Marriage Act, by a vote of 258 to 169.  All Democrats voted for the bill, along with 39 Republicans.  After the vote, retiring Speaker of the House Nancy smiled broadly as she displayed an enrolled copy of the bill to reporters, capping her 35-year congressional career with a milestone piece of legislation.


Retired Senator Barney Frank (D-Mass.), was present at the enrollment ceremony and had high praise for Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), one of the sponsors of the bill.  Both Frank and Baldwin were among the first openly gay people elected to Congress.

The bill will next be sent to President Biden, who will sign it into law - I haven't heard when, but I expect that will happen very soon.

And I have one thing to say to all the catty, ratty little creeps who are already bitching and moaning about what the law doesn't do, to wit:  STFU.

Why do I say that?  Because this bill is a) the FIRST TIME gay marriage has been ENACTED into federal law; and b), it is what could be passed right now, before the House gets a Republican majority on January 3rd.  It has a strong legal effect nationwide; and it sends a powerful message that the Supreme Court will surely pay attention to.

I vividly recall that when I came out in 1980, the idea of "gay marriage" was pure fantasy, wishful thinking, as remote from reality as any science fiction story.  At that time, there was NO protection or recognition of gay couples anywhere in this country, or in any other country in the world.  No domestic partnerships, no civil unions, no marriage equality. There still isn't, over huge swaths of the earth's surface.  But today in America, fifty years after Stonewall, democracy worked out beautifully.

So I am extremely grateful to all the legislators who walked this bill over the hurdles to get it passed.  If you aren't proud and happy - you are a stupid, selfish, short-sighted jerk, so just go away.


Wednesday, December 7, 2022

On the Road with Charles Kuralt: The American Heritage

I'm sure my truckbuddies of a certain age will remember fondly, as I do, the folksy, fascinating reports of CBS newsman Charles Kuralt (1934-1997) from his travels across the highways and byways of America, delivered with an ear for poetry and an eye for natural artistry.

This 1989 compilation explores a number of interlacing threads in the magnificent tapestry of American history - a story, like all human stories, of highs and lows, light and shadow, sinners and saints.  Sadly, it cannot be told in this way today.  All history must now be cut to fit the latest pattern of right or left - and shouted, not said.

So enjoy this before it disappears down the memory hole.


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Sunday Drive: Bach, Wachet Auf (Sleepers, Awake!), BWV 640

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.

Diane Bish, the grand dame of American organists, plays the 4th movement (chorale) of the lovely Bach cantata

My late husband Cody studied with this lady while he was in college; he admired her greatly.


Friday, December 2, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend


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