Friday, November 30, 2007

Season's Greetings

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
With my green and coral color theme on the house, the traditional red ribboned wreath wasn't going to work. And you can't find orange decorations! So it's gold with a flare -- in this case, a peacock! It's not that clear in the photo, but it sits above the ribbon and it's tail feathers flow across the top of the wreath.

And the best part of a live wreath on the door is the way every time you return home and open the storm door you're greeted with the aroma of pine. Mmmmm.... That's a real Holiday smell.

I Told You....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Wrestling is gay.

Should the caption read:


Let's play hide the gerbil?

Who turned out the lights?'s gay.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Art I'm Seeing #22

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Also at the National Gallery of Art is an exhibition of works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). He's a superstar in art. Utterly amazing and revolutionary. Early works depict grand landscapes and seascapes like this image of Switzerland's St. Gottlieb's pass. The subject is one of Europe’s most amazing and profound locations. The work my quintessential early favorite.

And from here Turner moves more and more toward the abstract, the impressionistic -- always with light in the apex of the composition. As an unremarkable artist I am in love with light, but like so many artists my love is based on what light does in the context of objects. Turner loves light for the way it crowns a hyper-impression of objects. To the point of leaving objects unrecognizable at first glance, but light profoundly present. You see this in watercolors like the one of many of his sketches of the burning of Parliament.

Dead after 76 years of life in 1851, you can see how 100 years later, abstract expressionists picked up the mantel. How many of us have a genius 100 years ahead of our lives? Go see it, if you can.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #106

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Sgt. Steven C. Ganczewski, 22, of Niagara Falls, N.Y.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.; died Nov. 16, in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from a combat-related incident.

"Army Ranger, 22, Killed In Iraq"

Military service was the path Sgt. Steven C. Ganczewski chose early in life, and his determination never wavered, even when his grades at Niagara Falls High School would have easily gained him admission to a good college.

“He got a lot of [resistance] from guidance counselors when he said he was joining the Army,” said his father, Mark. “They didn’t understand why someone with his potential would join the Army.”

Ganczewski wanted to be an Army Ranger, and it was in that role that he died. The Pentagon announced Sunday that the 22- year-old husband and father was killed during combat operations Friday in Balad, Iraq, making him the 32nd member of the military from Western New York killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’re very proud of what he did, very proud of what he accomplished,” said Mark Ganczewski. Added his wife, Maria, “He was successful at whatever he did. He had a good head.”

“We knew pretty much right away that [the military] was what he wanted to do,” said high school friend A.J. Gelose. “He always had that drive. That was his dream.”

When he was 15 or 16, he attended a rescue course sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol. That, his father said, is when the military dream narrowed to the dream of being an Army Ranger. That also was about the time of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Mark Ganczewski remembers his son watching the coverage and saying, “Dad, we have to stop these people.”

At Niagara Falls High, Steve Ganczewski played football and ran track. At home, he shared his father’s love for classic rock, NASCAR, the Bills and the Sabres.

When it came time to leave high school, Maria Ganczewski said she really did not want her older son to join, “but that’s what he wanted to do.”

Mark Ganczewski said his son understood the risk. “He said, ‘Dad, what am I supposed to do, take something safe?’ ”

In the Army, Steven Ganczewski served several tours of duty overseas. While stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., he met Rachel, also in the Army. They married a year ago in October, and Steven adopted Rachel’s 2- year-old daughter, Makayla.

The couple purchased a house in Columbus, Ga., and Maria said her son worked diligently to make it a home for his new family.

“He made a house for his dogs outside,” she said. Inside, he was partial to the family iguana, Leroy.

“They were just here in September,” Mark Ganczewski said, adding that his son told him he was more confident than ever that he had chosen the right path.

“He loved [being a soldier],” his father said. “He said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ He thought he was making a difference there.”

Aside from his parents, his wife and his daughter, Steven Ganczewski also is survived by his brother, Christopher, a senior at Niagara Falls High School who just interviewed for admission to the Air Force Academy.

2008 Senate Race Up-Date

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
With Trent Lott's cynical announcement today that he will retire before the end of the year, the control of the Senate in 2008 continues to tilt like a Tsunami toward the Democrats. Dear old Trent, defrocked one time Republican leader of the senate, has to leave before 2008, or he'll be prohibited from earning millions of dollars as a capitol hill lobbyist for TWO WHOLE YEARS! under new legislation enacted by the Democrats.

His departure brings to 6 the Republican members of the senate calling it quits and leaving open seats for 2008. Of the 6, 5 are vulnerable to Democratic pick-ups. Of the remaining 15 Republican seats, another 6 are vulnerable. Which equals eleven likely turn-overs and a majority for the Senate in the Democratic camp not seen in my lifetime. Talk about your swinging pendulum!

On the Democratic side, only 3 seats have been identified as "at risk" and with the growing tide of change, they are less and less likely to be in play.


Super likely to switch are Oregon, Minnesota, & New Hampshire; very likely are Nebraska, Alaska, and Virginia. Vulnerable are Maine, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Idaho.


Seats that have been weak for the Dems are Montana, South Dakota, and Louisiana.

Max Baucus of Montana has long been a rather do nothing member of the Senate; but in his favor are two wildly popular Montana Democrats: Junior Senator John Testor, and Governor Brian Switzer.

Tim Johnson of South Dakota scared us all with his recent stroke and Republicans drooled over the chance to run in that state for an open seat; however, Tim is back. His illness is taboo. The populous of the state recently defeated a draconian anti-abortion law to the chagrin of the Republican right, and the Dems have a very popular federal representative in the wings to run for the senate should, God forbid, the need arise. It's a safe seat.

Mary Landreau of Louisiana may wish to thank her junior senate partner, David Vitters, for her up-coming win. No matter how precarious Democratic fortunes are in Louisiana, at least she's not a hypocrite who likes to wear diapers while have kinky sex with Bourbon Street prostitutes! I know, not a ringing endorsement, but we are talking about Louisiana.

My prediction. The 112th Senate will be made up of 58 Democrats, 40 Republicans, 1 Independent, and 1 Independent Democrat (who will either switch to the Republican party within a month or resign).

Art I'm Seeing #21

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
There's a lovely little retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg at the National Gallery of Art. It's just five rooms of the guy who was photo-shop before there were personal computers. His work is lush and often beautiful, thought provoking....a nice way to spend an hour on an autumn afternoon. It's there in the basement of the West Building until the end of March.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Random Quote #79

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

~ Pablo Picasso, 1881 - 1973

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sunroom Etc....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Now that the swing is up the painting continues on the sunroom. I have decided upon a red, white and blue scheme which picks up the colors in the floor tiles. And which ought to keep me busy for most of the winter....

My Thanksgiving indulgence (and it was a modest one) was to purchase a hanging ceiling lamp for over the swing to use for reading and a 3 tiered magazine rack that I afixed to the wall behind the swing, both from IKEA.

I'm ready for snow days! And reading again. At present two novels: "Farewell To The Sea" by Cuban Reinaldo Arenas, and "The Man-eater Of Magudi" by Indian writer R. K. Narayan. Both are rather dense narratives. They are like TV shows that I watch for an hour and then switch the channel on. It's an ADD thing, I'm sure....

Saturday Musings

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
After spending a little time prepping my backyard gardens for winter (and it’s colder today than I thought it was gonna be!), I retreat inside and have been adding images to my database of U.S. soldiers killed in the War on Terrorism. I have collected photos now of over 3,200 of the estimated 3,875 killed in Iraq and have a total surpassing 4,000 face shots of the brave American military members killed in all of the theatres of this War (i.e. Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Philippines, etc.)

From time to time the search leads me to moments of revelation, moments that lead me to more profound feelings. While adding images to my archive of soldiers from Massachusetts, I happened upon this quote in an article about Marine Lance Cpl. Edward M. Gavin of Malden:

“During her husband's funeral, Melissa Garvin recalled her wedding day when she caught Edward M. Garvin wearing his favorite green shorts, singing to himself in the mirror, "Going to the chapel and I'm going to get married." "I strongly believe he is with us today," she said. If he could say something, "he'd say something silly to make us laugh," she said. "That's what he would have wanted." Garvin, 19, of Malden, Mass., was killed in combat Oct. 4 in Anbar province.”

Can you get the image of this vibrant young couple on the eve of their nuptials in your mind's your heart? Sweet young people about to join in the act of holy matrimony, a covenant of blessings to one another, to their families, to their community…OUR “community”.

And, again I wondered about our “enemy”. Don’t they fall in love? Don’t they sing silly songs on the eves of their weddings? Don’t they desire to live in a world in which they can bless their love, bless their loved ones, and die in peace at a ripe old age?

Is there not a way, on this our fragile island-home that we call earth, to meet our enemies with tears of fear and tears of joy so that they no longer represent more to us in our understanding than “the other.”? When will we strip the artifice of nationality, of religiosity, of gender, and sexual expression, of all that separates us from one another away and wage a war of unity whose goal is a peace based on our reverence for one another, for community, for the holiness of life?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Funny

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Is that a banana..... Oh, no -- wait, this isn't my joke. It's one sent to me by my Colorado cousin, who also just sent me some hard personal news. And then he sends a joke? Go figure. Hope I always respond to fate as generously.

From J.H. in Denver:

Many times when I am troubled or confused, I find comfort in sitting in my backyard and having a beer along with a quiet conversation with Jesus.

This happened to me again after a particularly difficult day. I said, "Jesus, why do I work so hard?"

And I heard the reply: "Men find many ways to demonstrate the love they have for their family. You work hard to have a peaceful, beautiful place for your friends and family to gather."

I said: "I thought that money was the root of all evil."

And the reply was: "No, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Money is a tool; it can be used for good or bad."

I was starting to feel better, but I still had that one burning question, so I asked it. "Jesus", I said, "What is the meaning of life? Why am I here?"

He replied: "That is a question many men ask. The answer is in your heart and is different for everyone. I would love to chat with you some more, Señor, but for now, I have to go finish your lawn."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007 a la Baghdad

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Shortly before sunset, a series of rockets or mortars crashed into the Green Zone, sending up plumes of smoke into the sky as the sounds of the detonations reverberated through the center of the city.

The attack, the biggest against the Green Zone in weeks, occurred as many Americans were marking the Thanksgiving holiday. Loudspeakers in the Green Zone warned people to "duck and cover" and to stay away from windows.

Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. spokesman, said there were no fatalities but some people were wounded. He refused to give numbers or nationalities.

FOR THE RECORD -- And this is freedom from what?

Thanksgiving Nirvana

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
A day in flux. I spent the morning blowing a million mostly yellow maple leaves into a huge pile on the curb. 77 was a new record high for this date in DC. My curious neighbor, C., came over and I invited her into my sunroom to see the finished product. She was taken by my reproduction Buddha statue and roled her eyes when comparing it to the one her husband had purchased from China. He shared it with me one day while taking me on a tour of his backyard gardens, and so I know that it's cost is like it's weight -- A TON.

In the early part of the 20th century, an obscure (at the time) German poet also took a moment from his busy day to contemplate the Buddha. Enjoy!


Center of all centers, core of cores
almond self-enclosed and growing sweet
all this universe, to the furthest stars
and beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
1875 - 1926

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
And I am thankful for.....

1) My health: It's good in a world of other possibilities! I have a doctor who's known me since 1994. A man who's become more than a physician; he's also a friend. [And since I just found out that a dear cousin has been told that he only has 3 months to live (when will doctors STOP playing "god"?), health has suddenly taken on a new awareness in my life.]

2) My friends: many and diverse over the years, and in some ways few and precious. Each a gem whatever their longevity and carat!

3) My home: a gift....a sanctuary.

4) My nation: How could I have ever become me any place else?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Priceless Photo!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Is his expression based on where his opponent's head is "locked," or did he just get caught spanking the boy?! Whatever, wrestling is so GAY!

And here's a story to support the premise.... I had a dear friend in college who actually married my best friend from high school after I introduced them...paint me "cupid". She is absolutely one of the most extroverted and fun-loving people I have ever known.

One day we were at a local mall in Central Kentucky and we ran into a friend of her younger brother. He hadn't seen him in years and so engaged my friend in conversation as to where he was in his life, and then he went into a veritable homage to their friendship and rivalry as wrestlers on opposing teams. He said things like, "He was the best wrestler. He was so quick, and I just couldn't get out of his grip. He was both firm and gentle with me, a real pro! I almost enjoyed being pinned....."

The joke was that this testosterone emoting young man was praising her GAY brother. We didn't have the heart nor even felt that it was our place to connect the dots.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Old House #15

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Having established the pathway, the work for spring now enters a critical phase. I need to remove all of the surrounding ground cover and plant the dozens of bulbs ...

The photos from next spring ought to be amazing!

This Old House #14

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Took advantage of the relatively nice autumn day to lay in the path to the back entrance to the sunroom. And did it right.

Dug out the path, established the stepping stones, lined it with thick plastic: And THEN laid down the edging, the stepping stones, and the pebble filler in between. It's really a classic case of better planning = a more perfect result.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What I'm Watching #116

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Dear boys, dear me! Where to begin with "Dear Boys"?

It's a Dutch film made in 1980. it's called a "gay classic"; and frankly, I don't bother to consider any film made after 1965 as a classic anything! So the only Gay classic in my book is "The Wizard of Oz!"

One description says that the story is "outrageous". And that works for me. It's a completely fucked-up story with bizaar characters who behave in inexplicable ways for reasons that are never articulated. There's a splash of stereo-typical archetypes; but even they make no sense. It's a film made on hasheesh. And that's the only reasonable explanation for it. It's as odd and esoteric as a turn of the century Russian film by Tarkovsky, or a work by the Italian film maker, Pasolini.

Honestly, ZERO stars.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What I'm Watching #115

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Close to Leo" is the English title given to this French film. The better translation of the original a mon avis is "All About Leo" (Tout Countre Leo), but be that as it may, it's a film that really struggles for a focus.

Do we follow the story of Leo? At 21, the eldest of 4 sons in a family that is compassionate and accepting of his homosexuality. A family that even accepts his discovery of his HIV + status.

OR do we focus our attention on 12 year old Marcel, the youngest. Who is kept in the dark as to Leo's condition, but who knows and festers a strong resentment over his exclusion.

In the end Marcel persists in his knowledge; and Leo persues a self-destructive and successful trajectory that makes absolutely no sense given his loving family (and the generous public healthcare system in France!).....

This is a touching, emotive, and confusing film -- you know, it's French!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunroom Interior 01

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
While the work continues on finishing the interior of the sunroom, my plants have begun the process of acclimating themselves to this winter haven.

C. has figured out the best way to hang the porch swing and promises to come by one day this week to complete the work.

Looking forward to relaxing amidst the flora in the full view of winter...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Our Latest American Hero #105

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Staff Sgt. Carletta S. Davis, 34, of Anchorage, Alaska; assigned to the 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Nov. 5 in Tal Al-Dahab, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near her Humvee during combat operations.

"Alaskan Among Fort Drum Soldiers Killed In Iraq"

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Staff Sgt. Carletta Davis’s mother said her daughter seemed to sense something might go wrong this time when she was deployed again to Iraq.

Before she deployed, “She visited people she didn’t normally visit, I think because she knew something,” said Lavada Napier.

Davis, 34, who grew up in Anchorage, was one of two Alaskans killed Nov. 5 when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Tal Al-Dahab, Iraq.

Davis, who graduated as Carletta Ward from East High School in 1991, joined the Army in 1994. She hoped to become a physician’s assistant when her military career ended, her mother said in a telephone interview from her home in Fairbanks.

As a flight medic, Davis spent much of her adult life in harm’s way. Besides the deployments to Iraq, she served six months in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1996-97 and a year in South Korea in 2002.

“It was hard, but she said ‘Hey, I’ve gotta do it,’ ” said Davis’ mother. “She didn’t never worry. She just didn’t like the fact she was going for a third time.”

Napier and her daughter spent six weeks together after Davis returned from her second Iraq tour in 2004-05.

“I said, ‘Tell me how that was.’ She says, ‘Mama, the children over there are like grown people. They’re doing things that adults would be doing. When one of them gets injured, they don’t even show pain on their face. They just hold the limb that has been severed.’

“She says it’s like the Twilight Zone. It’s like looking at a movie. Your emotions are so paralyzed once you see so much death. You just try to rescue who you can in the equipment you are in. She said that was the most hurtful thing — so many people needing help.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What I'm Watching #114

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Is a wonderful movie about a man who is trapped by his own sweetness in a sexual identity conundrum. It's punctuated by much witty reparté! And a storyline that overrules the mediocre production values. (a par with a film like "slutty summer")

Also, as a gay man who once fell in love with a straight man; and who has now forged a tender friendship with that man of 25 years, I can relate to the angst in this film all the way around.

Worth the time, especially on an evening when a little distraction is appreciated.

This Old House #13

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

The exterior of the Sun Room is finally done! The ornamentation painted in greens and corals looks really nice (too bad the sun glare made part of it look white--strange).

The interior is still a work in progress, but I'm almost done with sealing the floor with a glossy finish. And I've been painting the door to the livingroom, but still have about two coats to go. The palate will be red, white, and blue. The red favors a burgundy wine/brick tone, and the two shades of blue will draw from the blue tiles in the floor. The trim will be in a semi-gloss white, meant to reflect light and hopefully allow the room to look larger....

C. plans to return one day this week to mount the swing and collect the rest of his tools.

This Old House #12

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Here is the back of the new Sun Room. The steps lead to a series of stone slabs that lead to an arcing sidewalk. I'm planning to redesign the entire space into a new garden featuring field stones and over a hundred bulbs of Tulips, Daffodils, Narcissus, Muscari, and Hyacinths in various shades of cream, yellow, purple, maroon and white.

Sunday Funnies #9

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Truth in advertising?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What I'm Listening To #31

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"eastmountainsouth" is Kat Maslich and Peter Adams. This CD was their debut tome back in 2003, and as far as I can tell it's a one hit wonder.

An amazing duet whose music resonnates deeply with me. I love to crank the volume and match pitch with either of them. It creates a vibration within my chest that's nearly orgasmic in it's elative qualities.

Packed with songs; nay, stories, sung in a way that grabs your heart and blesses your soul. From a stunning rendition of the traditional folk tune "Hard Times" as it's first track to the beneficent tidings found in "Mark's Song," there is such a rich tapestry of music in this one work of art. I can't imagine why these two gifted artists aren't super stars!

October Casualty Statistics

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The trend is looking much better. We've clearly entered into a period of relative calm in Iraq. Things are heating up in Afghanistan, but the cumulative effect is still a dramatic decrease in casualties of American soldiers for the month of October.

October's History of Military Casualties:

2003 - 44
2004 - 64
2005 - 96
2006 - 110
2007 - 49

Over time October has defined itself as one of the deadliest months, which makes this October's statistics all the more dramatic and welcome. Let us hope and pray that more than just a lull in the conflict, we are witness to a shift in the trend of violence and destruction.