Relaxed.

I’m sitting on our balcony wrapping up the weekend, doing some chores on my iPad and making sure I’m ready to tackle the workday bright and early tomorrow. Earl is relaxing in bed; he is coming along nicely in his recovery. He decided to skip his pain medicine today and he’s no worse for the wear. I think his very positive attitude is the leading reason for his recovery coming along so well.

After he went to bed last night I spent some time sitting on the balcony reading and watching television. I ended up falling asleep out here and slept for about two and a half hours “under the stars”. The breeze was beautiful, just like it is tonight, and there’s no bugs. I mentioned this to my Mom during a phone call this morning; I told her I figured mosquitos were too lazy to fly up five stories to get to us.

I find it so calming and peaceful to have this little peace of nirvana in the middle of the third largest city in the United States. I’ve mentioned before that I’m tired of Chicago getting a bad reputation, especially when folks that have never been here believe everything the Tanned One says about how Chicago is a war zone. He just doesn’t like it because the Obamas live here. Plus, he’s racist. Honestly, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I thoroughly love that we moved to Chicago and I’m damn proud to call it home.

It’s nearly 10:00 PM and it’s still 86ยบF. The breeze is refreshing. Life is good, especially when we are determined to keep it that way.

Maude.

I enjoy watching reruns of the old TV series “Maude”. Don’t tell anyone but they’re readily available on YouTube. The versions I’ve found are cut down for syndication, but you still get the gist of the story, despite the attempts to wedge more commercial time into these masterpieces. One would think the story lines wouldn’t age well, since “Maude” was so politically and socially topical back in the early 1970s, but since the Trump administration is so adamant about pushing our social agenda as far backwards as possible, “Maude” feels like it was made yesterday.

I hit the pause button on a video last night and it happened to stop on the screen cap I’ve included with this blog entry. The cap struck me as hilarious. Of course, it could be because I’m drinking beer and sitting on the lanai (see what I did there?) while typing this blog entry, but the look Vivian is giving Maude, who is exuding her typical smugness, is priceless. It feels Gay Pride Month appropriate. When we go to Chicago’s Gay Pride parade next weekend I’m wondering if I’ll see any Maude and Vivian drag.

“Rue, I have no desire to play ‘Maude and Vivian meet Sue Ann Nivens'”. That’s what Bea Arthur said to Rue McClanahan when she called up Bea to convince her to consider joining the cast of “The Golden Girls”. My mother didn’t let us watch ‘Maude’ during its original run; it was way too adult for my elementary aged mind. My great Aunt Jenn had the height and a bit of a Bea Arthur presence. My mother was a closeted feminist; she tried to fit into the rural town we called home, but being raised in a decent-sized city, she was independent and thought outside of the cowtown box. I inherited that worry of what others think of me from my mom, at least to a certain degree. As I approach the half century mark I don’t really give a damn anymore.

You know what’s kind of kicky to me? Rue and Bea are playing characters that are younger than what I am today. Same goes for Bill Macy and Conrad Bain. They are actually in their late 40s and here I am less than a month away from 50. I don’t feel like I should be waltzing around with a head of gray hair and a dress over a pant suit. I still feel young and vibrant and alive. I wonder if Bea and company felt that way back when “Maude” was in its original run?

I’ve never been a huge fan of “All In The Family”. Sally Struthers’ whining seemed way too formulaic to me. But I can groovy on “Maude”; she’s just as groovy as the Wurlitzer organ that’s so prominent in her theme song.

“Amelia Earhart flew a lot of airplanes, except that time when she didn’t come back”. She what I did there?

I think the beer is kicking in a little bit. Mrs. Naugatuck would be proud. OH! I rode my bike by the old Cabrini-Green Housing Development a bit south of where we live. J.J. wouldn’t find it so “Dyno-mite!” anymore. It’s been gentrified and is pretty much prime real estate here in Chicagoland.

God’ll get me for this blog entry.

Universe.

The Universe leads us to where we need to be. We moved to Chicago, which meant we needed to find a new primary physician. Getting acquainted with our new primary physician involved an annual physical and associated tests. He urged us to get the tests that middle aged men should get; for my husband this involved a colonoscopy. It was his first. During the colonoscopy the doctor discovered some roughness to his prostate and he was urged to get that checked. He had his prostate checked on at 5:04 PM on 5/4, he received news that he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. The blood tests had spiked and come back down, but the biopsy was the tell-tale sign. Because my husband is relatively young in prostate years (don’t tell him that, it’ll go to his head), the best course of treatment was surgery. For older guys they go with radiation, but for younger guys, they go with surgery because if the cancer is contained to the prostate, the cancer is completely removed. If radiation fails, they can’t do surgery, but if surgery doesn’t get it all, they can do radiation. My husband made the decision to go through with the surgery and as I type this he’s in the operating room. The procedure can take 3 to 4 1/2 hours. I will be able to see him again this afternoon.

If we hadn’t moved to Chicago, resulting in finding a new doctor, we probably would have been lazy about our annual physicals and who knows how long he would have had this cancer without detection. His cancer was caught early, very early, in fact. There is over a 97% chance that he will be 100% cancer free when all is said and done.

He likes numbers. We both like numbers. We especially like these numbers.

For the 22 years that we’ve been together I’ve always been the one that is going into surgery with his support. For the first time in our relationship the roles in this regard are reversed. It’s been amusing but we’ve settled in.

I’m putting my trust in the Universe today.

Carol Burnett.

Tonight we went to see Carol Burnett at the Chicago Theatre. It was the first of her two shows here in the Windy City; I purchased the tickets as a Christmas present for Earl. We were all delighted with the show. Earl and I were a little concerned that Jamie wouldn’t know much about Carol (he’s a little younger than us), but he enjoyed the show and I saw him look at Wikipedia only once.

Carol Burnett with Elizabeth Montgomery in the 1963 movie “Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed”

Carol’s show as basically an extended Q&A session like she used to do at the beginning of her variety show back in the 1960s and 70s, interspersed with clips from the show. We all agreed this approach was quite brave as she had no idea what kind of questions she would get from the audience. People asked her about current events, what it was like working with the very celebrities she had on her show, about growing up, and some asked for advice on how to break into the business. Carol had a way of weaving her answers with humor and it was truly a fun show. We laughed a lot.

I thought about asking a question; I had always wondered if she had improvised her dance in “Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed”, but I none of the ushers made their way to our row. All in all it was a great experience and I was a little choked up when she first came out on stage; it’s great to live in a city where it’s easy to see a legend in person.

Everyone was smiling at the end of the show. It was a really good time.

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Waiting.

Earl is having a stress test as I write this. I told him this morning if he was fine after living with me for 22 years, he would pass this stress test with flying colors. He chuckled.

I am playing the role of supporting husband during his test, waiting in a common area at the Northwestern Medical campus. The dings of the nearby elevators indicate the busy traffic from here to there and back. People watching is always enjoyable for me. The two clocks within my eyesight, which should be synchronized to the second but are not, are making me a little crazy. Clocks designed to be synchronized should be synchronized. “Close enough” is never good enough, especially when we are counting the seconds of life.

I’m starting to realize too many reminders that I am approaching in my half century mark. Life is outpacing my mentality. I still feel like the naive farm boy I was 40 years ago.

Always find a reason to smile.

Architecture.

More and more of these modern houses are popping up in the neighborhood. I’m enjoying this modern, 21st century twist on mid-century stylings. I don’t know much about architecture, but I do know what I like, and I like this style of home.

I mentioned to Earl that when we win the lottery we’ll have to build something like this and sublet our condo. Lost in my musings of the moment, I don’t remember his response, but I’m sure it was something of a positive nature.

A quick look online prices this particular home at $800K. It’s not as expensive as I thought it would be, but it’s kind of close to the ‘L’ so that probably brings down the price just a bit. It’s not for sale, but it’s great to admire.

Surface Hub 2.

So I’ve mentioned before that I’m intrigued by the Surface lineup of laptops, tablets, and the like from Microsoft. Today I took a look at the new Microsoft Surface Pro, which is the version following the Surface Pro 4. Microsoft is trying to be like Apple with their confusing naming conventions, apparently. It’s what we do in the world of 21st century marketing.

The look and feel of the Microsoft Surface Pro is awesome. I’m impressed with feel, the fit and finish, and the overall hardware experience. I’m not as impressed with Windows 10, though I think it is getting where it needs to be. Honestly, I’m not overly enthused with the latest version of Apple’s Mac OS either, so it should be no surprise that I’m looking at alternatives from the offerings from Apple.

Then I saw this marketing video from Microsoft of their next version of the Surface Hub, a collaboration device aimed at conference rooms near and far.

WOW!

I have always been a fan of the “vision” Microsoft had hoped to achieve by 2020, as documented by some videos from the beginning of this decade, before Windows 8 came out, failed, and Microsoft got a little weird with things until they got back on track. The typography in the version of Windows on this new Surface Hub 2 is amazing. The collaborative capabilities, the tie in to Microsoft Office (especially OneNote) and the integration of Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams is compelling. I would LOVE to be able to sit in on a design meeting with my team at work using tools as demonstrated in this video. I think Microsoft is leading the pack if this product lives up to the marketing video.

I hope to have an opportunity to see one of these setups in person with real time work going on. I’m ready for the future.

Changes.

It was 11 years ago this weekend that Earl and I decided to head down to New York City and join up with other bloggers for “GB:NYC4”, or “Gay Bloggers:New York City 4”. Before the days of Twitter, with Facebook confined to college campuses at the time and with MySpace trying to gain traction, folks were writing personal and professional blogs and sharing their thoughts through the medium on the Internet. This was before we got in the habit of communicating in 140 280 characters or less and it was before we tried to reduce our thoughts down to dancing, leaping, and squirming emojis. Back then an emoji looked like this: ๐Ÿ™‚

I still use ๐Ÿ™‚ and nothing more. I am not an emoji kind of guy.

Going through my photos of the event and remembering the nice time we had with this great group of people back in 2007 made me miss the days when I was sit down and actually write something of substance on this blog. It was back before Obama, so I would wretch on W from time to time, but I liked to think that I had a fairly breezy attitude toward life. Of course, I was 11 years under (38 at the time), the country wasn’t being smothered by this plague called Trump (he was just a nuisance trying to grab airtime any way he could), and the future still felt like it could be brighter. We were still a month away from the dawn of a smartphone in every hand. People were flipping open their phones, plunking messages on a physical keyboard, and taking photos with cameras.

Are we any better off today?

I’m still friends with a few of the folks shown in the picture and I try to follow along with the few bloggers that still update their blogs (JoeMyGod being an exception to the blog abandonment trend, of course, because he still blogs a lot and he does a nifty job at it). As much as I wretch about Facebook, it’s become nearly an indispensable way to maintain contact with those in other parts of the world.

It’s a shame that decently composed discussion has given way to the burps and bleeps of today’s Internet experience.

Seeing these pictures and remembering what life was like just a little over a decade ago has helped me smile a bit more this weekend. It’s also inspired me to try to blog more; I’ve been lazy in the month of May. I think my 30-day personal challenge for June will be to blog something of substance at least once a day.

Who knows, maybe my efforts will catch on and someday we’ll get back to speaking in complete sentences without crazy emojis jumping off the page.

๐Ÿ™‚