Thursday, July 19, 2018

Political Bias in News Reporting - and how I try to balance it.

As some of you can tell, this TG gal is a political news junkie.  Or, that's how I've been described.  Most people don't see how national and world politics affect their lives, but people like me are keenly aware of how the big picture affects little people like us.

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Lately, the many foibles of the Trump administration have been in the news.  I am one of many people who think Vladimir Putin has some Comprimat on Trump, and this more than serves to explain why the political, social, and economic institutions built up over the past 70+ years are being dismantled by our president. Sadly, I also believe that Mike Pence was chosen by Putin to be Trump's VP, so that even moderate Republicans would be afraid to remove Trump from office.

Most of the news sources I ingest tend to lean slightly left of center on the above chart. I enjoy ingesting articles from the Associated Press, Reuters, the three major TV networks, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Der Spiegel (I wish I could read the German version of the site), and other relatively centrist news outlets.  I'll also ingest articles from the Wall Street Journal,, the New York Post, and the Washington Times.  And for fun, I'll read the leftist Palmer Report.  But for the most part, I try to ingest news of real value, whose sources are verified, and who try to base their reporting on fact instead of strongly biased opinion.  As a result, I find that I can sometimes say good things about Trump, a man I personally hate and despise.

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Unfortunately, many people choose news outlets to confirm the biases they already have.  Hard left leaning folk may get their "news" from Patribiotics and the Palmer Report, while thise on the right get theirs from Newsmax and Infowars. So it is often hard to have a reasonable conversation with someone whose "facts" do not jibe with reality.

A while back, I had an online conversation with a TG Trump supporter.  One of the common problems with such a discussion is that people like this take Trump's claims as truth without testing it against other sources.  Although these claims are easily proven as wrong (such as the US having a trade deficit with Canada), Trump supporters ignore the truth in order to keep their faith with a false messiah.  Sadly, he will sacrifice them in the end to preserve his power with his base.

People like the Trump supporter above have caused the GOP to lose its spine.  No longer do they put their country first.  Instead, they have developed a transactional basis for power.  GOP leaders ask Trump to give them his ignorant base to win elections and plunder this country for the plutocrats, and he gets power to destroy the social norms which have served to preserve America as a democratic republic. These leaders allow Trump to collude with Russia, each willing to sell out this country for the short term high from the power binge they now are enjoying.

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What will happen when today's GOP, now drunk on power, eventually comes to its senses and finds out that they have lost that power to either Trump or to the Democrats?  Will their lies hold up with the base?  Will the base even matter at all?  I keep reminding myself that this nightmare will eventually pass.  But what cost will we pay for this political insanity?

So many things are being done wrong now, that I can't begin to itemize them. We are destroying America's ability to have influence beyond its size when it comes to economic treaties, military treaties, and scientific treaties.  For example, the USA has signed a treaty never to militarize space.  Trump is about to break that.  Trump wants to break up NATO and NAFTA.  He is unraveling the very tools which allowed the have outsize influence in our small world.  And he is giving Russia everything it could dream of in the process.

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At home, families are breaking apart over politics.  We haven't seen things this bad since our civil war. Yet, I feel that reason will eventually prevail.  Conservative pundits such as Joe Scarborough and George Will have abandoned supporting today's GOP.  And there are many GOP leaders who are retiring, rather than support the party of Trump.

It will take time for things to heal.  But we must maintain the health of our centrist news organizations, so that civil America has a chance to see reality without the biases of left or right.  Polarization and social isolation is the danger we must deal with now, and the only way to counter bad propaganda is to flood the media with objectively reported news....

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A missed connection with a newer friend.

Over the weekend, the Cat Lady thought she had sprained her knee.  Instead, it is likely that she has a Torn Meniscus and may need surgery. And this affected our plans for this week....

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Sunday came, and I didn't do much until GFJ arrived. If I had known how late she'd be coming from an afternoon bridal shower for a friend's daughter, I'd have gotten up early (though I was exhausted from Lili's son's shindig the day before) and gone to church as Marian before going back home and changing into Mario in anticipation of GFJ's arrival.

When GFJ arrived, she was wearing a dress, and looked good in it.  Too bad that she doesn't wear them more often - she has a nice set of legs, and it's nice to see them displayed. A little afterwards, we went out for dinner at the diner - and brought home leftovers we could eat sometime over the next couple of days.

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Monday was a day that we'd spend apart - GFJ had shoe shopping to keep her occupied while I (as Marian) attended the Arts Westchester (AW) meeting. So GFJ ended up going shopping in New Jersey while I spent my time at the AW meeting.  For once, I arrived on time.  Although I didn't get an assignment for the Summer, I did get to see the woman who introduced me to the group (T), as well as a new member - my friend, former hypnotist, Pat.

After the meeting ended, I chatted a little with T and then with Pat.  It seems as if Pat's daughter now has a date for an operation which may render her unable to walk.  And the daughter is very afraid, as she expressed her fears for the first time to Pat.  I'll be sure to keep in contact, if only because she may need a shoulder to cry on. When I went back to the car, I met a woman from AW doing her shopping at Shoprite. We chatted for a bit, but I don't expect to see her again for a long while. Coincidences seemed to be the order of the day, and would continue to be so until the end.

GFJ returned around 6, and we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  She didn't recognize the place until we got inside.  But we were able to have a nice, quiet, romantic dinner - which we couldn't have done if the place was busy.  Later on, we decided to have leftover dessert.  She noted that my air conditioning wasn't on, and I found out that the fates decided to give me a birthday present - a dead, 22 year old air conditioner.  You can guess what I planned to do the next day.

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Both GFJ and I had things to do today.  She had a yoga class to attend early in the afternoon, while I had to run to lower county to buy a new Air Conditioner.  Knowing that TCL was not up to having dinner tonight (and that I had a Co-Op board meeting), I texted TCL to let her know that I knew we weren't going out for dinner until her leg healed a bit.  She will likely need an operation in the near future, and if possible, I will be there to give a helping hand to a friend. So I volunteered to pick up some groceries sometime this week and deliver them, in order to keep her from having to go shopping in a wheelchair.  (She has no problems with me coming over as Marian for this kind of visit.)

On the way to lower county, I chatted with both TCL and Lili.  When I arrived at the store, I knew exactly what I wanted - a 14,500 BTU Friedrich AC with 220 volt circuitry that fits into a Fedders sleeve. All I needed to do was show my plastic and place the order.  It took me longer to get out of Croton than to buy the AC at the store.  There goes the rest of this month's money from the family homestead!

After taking a little rest at home, it was off to the Co-Op board meeting.  Although I can't discuss any details of what we discussed, I can discuss one thing that frustrated me.  HWV was trying to get the meeting over with in a timely manner, and HWA wanted to discuss something that wouldn't be done, by a vendor whose services we are highly unlikely to use. The best analogy to what happened would be a decision for me to drive to Albany using one of two routes: The Thruway or The Taconic State Parkway.  Once the decision to take the Taconic has been made, does it make sense to discuss the tolls on the Thruway? HWV and I discussed this after the meeting, and she told me of more "battles" we may have to fight in the near future.  I, for one, am very grateful that we have her services on the Co-Op's board of directors.

To close out the day, I took advantage of a coupon from Boston Market which gave me two meals for the price of one.  This was perfect, as I could finish up Sunday's leftovers for lunch tomorrow, and tonight's extra meal for lunch on Thursday.  I'm grateful to be able to avoid cooking anything in a room without AC this week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Quickie: A missed connection with an old friend.

At this time of year, the NYC subway is a sweltering mess.  And yet, I might have endured it (as Mario) to see an old friend.  Brenda is a friend of my late wife who (with her husband and child) occasionally comes into NYC on business/pleasure trips.  And I try to connect with her on each of her visits, as it is a way of maintaining a healthy connection to good memories of the past without falling into the trap of living in the past.

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About a week ago, Brenda came to New York with her entourage, and we agreed to meet while she was here.  Unfortunately, both the holiday and the wedding got in the way of us getting together. And, there was no way for us to connect on her last couple of days here, as they had Broadway tickets for their last two nights in the city.

Do I really miss the chance of getting together?  Not really.  It would have been nice to see her again.  But GFJ and I have other things we want to do with the next couple of days.  Couple this with an appointment I must make in Marian Mode, and that leaves almost no time to meet up with Brenda.

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Over the years, the connections I have with my past are loosened but not severed.  A friendship with Brenda is one of these connections I'll always have, but one that will grow ever less important as the one link that binds us continues to fade away into our past. I've seen this happen with a former girlfriend, Eileen.  My wife and I were there at her wedding, then she and her husband were at our wedding.  We are linked on Facebook, but neither of us make the effort to contact each other when we are in each other's home towns.

One can view this type of change as a sad thing.  I don't.  If we're lucky, it's part of the process of renewal, as it makes it possible for us to keep the relationships that are important to us and to make room for new relationships that may yet become just as important to us.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Quickie: An accidental email I received.

The above picture was taken about 8 years ago, a reminder to me about why I was going to break up with Ex-GF-M. Her apartment was filled with clutter, and even the Living Room had way too much stuff in the way for it to be used without taking time to clear out the clutter. So I was very surprised today when I found an email coming from her account - even though she passed away several months ago.

Background for new readers of this blog:
  1. I dated Ex-GF-M from 2003-2011.
  2. Ex-GF-M was heavier than I am, and her health was deteriorating all the time I was dating her. As a food addict myself, I decided I had to leave her sometime in 2010, but didn't have the self esteem to do so until the next year.
  3. The steps in Ex-GF-M's upstairs apartment were dangerous in bad weather, and she needed to hire people to clean her steps to get out of the house.
  4. Sometime in 2012-2013, Ex-GF-M moved into the downstairs apartment with Mother in Law. (She was widowed in 2008 or 2009 and shared the building with her Mother in Law.)
  5. Ex-GF-M was injured while taking care of her parents in Florida.  This left her needing a cane to walk.
  6. During the next few years, she adopted 3 dogs.  (When we dated, she said that she would never have pets.  It's amazing how people change given new circumstances in life.)
  7. One year, I was there to pay respects at her mother's wake before going to a Widow/Widower gathering. We agreed to meet for dinner.
  8. When we finally met for dinner, I met her as Marian. And that was how I met her each time afterwards.
  9. On my last visit in 2017, her apartment reeked of dogs.  She was no longer able to take care of herself, her mother in law, or her pets. The building had started to show important signs of neglect, but Ex-GF-M was unable to live on her own anymore.
  10. Shortly after my last visit, her mother in law died. Ex-GF-M was truly alone, and was not allowing her family to visit.
  11. At the end of March, Ex-GF-M died. Her family felt that Ex-GF-M's death was preventable - but Ex-GF-M refused all help.  They also said that everything in the house would have to be put in the dumpster - the place was infested with vermin.

The messages:

I presume this ( is your email address. Just saw an
email come in from M's account, and wanted to know that this was

How are things going over there?  I was by M's house a couple of
times recently, taking the subway in from her station.  It looks like
you've started to do some rehab on the place, as the lower front window
has been replaced AND the laundry room door is new. How much have the
cleanup have you been able to do?  I'll bet that everything is taking
much longer than expected.

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Sorry am error- she hoarded emails too. Over 6200. 
Things moving along   We had to hire clean up crew. Only 1 piece of furniture left to go to L’s. Virtually everything had to be tossed. 13 truck loads. Now just working with the lawyers. 
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Hopefully, the clothes and handbags could go to a charity.  Books to a library, etc....

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Unfortunately severe rodent infestation. We were advised not to take anything for fear of contamination. Through out virtually everything. $$ wasted was staggering. 

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Rereading your first message, as soon as you said 14 truck loads, I realized that that had to have included both clothes, accessories, books, and other stuff.  I can't imagine how bad it had to be upstairs after years of not being used.  I know downstairs was extremely bad, as I visited it 6 months before she died.  The smell overpowered me.  I've only been in one other house where animal smell was that bad, and the worst of it is limited to one room.

Hopefully, the lawyers won't eat up the proceeds from the house. It's a simple textbook problem for a lawyer skilled in handling estates.  But you can never be sure of where a complication will pop up.

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In many ways, I'm glad to be able to say that I didn't get a picture of Ex-GF-M or her place at its worst.  I prefer to remember her with a smile on her face.  I'm also glad that her brother accidentally sent me a message, as I had the excuse to chat with him over some emails and see how far they've gotten.  It's doubtful he'll slip up and send any more messages. But it's nice to know that life is moving on for the family as well....

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Wedding Day.

As you can guess, I started to write this entry before the wedding.  I figured that by the time the wedding was over and we returned to my apartment, that I might not have enough time to finish this entry and post it between the time YGM left and the time GFJ arrived.  Not only do I want YGM to linger a bit before she leaves, but I have to change back to Mario before GFJ arrives.  So I expect that time will be an important theme in today's entry.

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If it weren't for a pressing need to go to the bathroom this morning, I might have stalled getting up from my bed. The bedroom was a mess that I'd have to straighten out, and the TV was on from the night before.  As you might expect, it was tuned to a channel playing 1950's and 1960's TV shows, and the Saturday Morning Westerns were on. It's a little comforting to me to see some of these shows from my youth, as they remind me of a time of certainty in life, a time where I felt more secure in my future.  In reality, there is little certainty in life other than death and taxes, so it's a good thing when the only problem I face when getting up is making it to the bathroom on time.

Once done with my business, I had a decision to make.  How much should I straighten out my apartment before YGM arrives?  But this decision was made for me when YGM said that she was arriving even earlier than planned.  So I had to rush to get ready for her arrival, showering, shaving, etc., in order for her NOT to see any traces of Mario when she arrived.

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When YGM arrived, she brought several dresses with her.  Most of them were party dresses that I wouldn't wear to a wedding.  One of them would give her visible bra straps.  So I suggested that she try on a dress given to me by Vicki which served her aunt well, but wasn't in Vicki's style palette.  Although it was not in YGM's style palette either (it made her look older), she agreed to wear it so that we could attend the wedding in similarly structured outfits.  Although very different in style, we looked like we could be mother and daughter - a comment several people made when seeing us together.

We chatted in my apartment for a while, and a couple of hours later, left for the wedding.  Appetizers were already being served when we arrived, and we were greeted with cold glasses of water when we entered the outdoors wedding area.  After roughly 30 minutes or so, everyone was instructed to find a seat for the wedding ceremony.

Shortly afterward, the ceremony began, and the "youngsters" said their vows.

Lili's son looked much more like an adult than I remembered him being.  I guess that, in part, this was related to his haircut and his slightly receding hairline. The newlyweds were now "formally" married in the eyes of their families, and it was time to go inside for the indoor festivities.

Lili looked stunning in her dress, but my photograph does not do her or the dress justice. You can easily see that if one stood the wrong way when a picture was taken, one would get terrible results, as in the picture below:

Hopefully, I'll be able to get a better picture of the two of us together when Lili gets to view the wedding album.

Now that we were indoors, I began to meet other people in Lili's life that I met before - most of whom remembered me, but not me them.  So after an embarrassing moment or two, I was able to catch up on things with them, and enjoy the dinner to come.  I won't bore you with the details of the reception dinner.  It was tasty, filling, and probably worth every cent of what Lili paid for this banquet. But I will note that I got out on the dance floor for a while, something I never liked doing as Mario.

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Eventually, it was time to leave.  So I drove around town chatting with YGM. Then as she was getting tired, I brought her home and we chatted some more.  In another time and in another life, we would fit well with each other. But in this life, we can only be the best of girlfriends. And that's good enough for me.  So after another round of chat, YGM took off for home.  Hopefully, I'll be able to visit her one last time before she goes to Florida.  If not, this was a good last visit between two "besties".

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The day before the wedding....

Today is the last day before the wedding of Lili's son.  And I'm looking forward to wearing my formal dress tomorrow.  But first, I'll have to get a mani-pedi. And I wasn't sure of what color polish that I'd be putting on my nails when I started drafting this entry.

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Lately, I find that when I don't get enough sleep the night before, it takes me forever to wake up and get moving the morning after. When I note that I don't get moving until the afternoon, it's usually because I didn't sleep well the previous evening. Yet, last night, I got to sleep in the 3 am range, was semi-conscious by 7:30 am, and up to cook breakfast by 8 am. On my list of things to do for the day was to take care of 2-3 loads of laundry, withdrawing some cash from the bank, paying a bill or two, and getting a mani-pedi to prepare for the wedding. For a change, I had the energy to start taking care of this list early enough to have a chance of getting everything done.

Although I could have started the day by doing some laundry, I decided to pay some bills - including a bill that has gone unpaid since April.  Normally, my tax preparer would send a bill reminder in May or June. By then, I'd have the refund in the bank - so I'd pay on this notice.  However, I never received my normal reminder - and decided to pay before this bill grows even more stale.

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Around 1 pm, Lili and I went to her nail salon.  She got a French Mani Pedi, while I just got the French on my fingers while getting my toes in a solid pink. As much as I like the look of my fingers, I like the look of my toes more.  So I'll go with this shade of pink for my next mani-pedi.  After the salon, we went out to eat at an Italian joint.  The food was good, but I'm not sure that I'd eat there again.  Nothing really stood out as special, and I want that in a place I might want to add to my "go to" list.

Lili and I chatted some more on the way back to her place. She still had some cleanup to do, as she was hosting one of her daughter in law's friends for the wedding night. Unfortunately, she screwed up her nails (I also have a smudge I have to fix), and things went wrong at one of the rental houses she owns.  So I told her NOT to do anything about fixing the house until next week, and hoped that she will be able to enjoy the wedding tomorrow.

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After I dropped Lili off, it was home for the night.  I didn't know that I was going to take an overly long nap.  But it was just as well, because I didn't have anything else to do as Marian.  When home, I arranged to get together with BXM next week.  In addition to her father being in in-home hospice care, she is having health problems of her own.  As much as losing her Dad will be a sorrowful event, it will free her of a lot of responsibilities no one person should have to take on.

Once I realized I was home for the night, the Cat Lady started up another online conversation.  It involved my choices of nail polish and shifted to asking why I don't live as Marian 24x7, save for the time with my family. Right now, if I'm going to shift to living as Marian as my legal identity, I want to do so openly - and that won't happen while my dad is alive.  I'd have to drop a lot of weight before I could go on hormones. Once on them, I'd have to deal with the physical changes to my body.  Since I have good reason to believe that my brother's family would not be supportive, it doesn't make sense to do this until I can sever the financial links between myself and my brother.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Digging out a backup wig for tonight

Lili's son's wedding is coming up this weekend, and I don't want to break out the new wig I have in my closet for the occasion. Instead, I wanted to wash this wig and wear a freshly cleaned wig this weekend, since I don't want to break in a new wig over the summer.

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It took me a while to get moving today.  But once I did, I started to take care of little things before deciding to get showered, made up, dressed and out the door. And I found that the Cat Lady (TCL) wanted to chat about taking her social security benefits.  She wanted to figure out an optimal strategy for taking benefits, as she doesn't want to leave any money on the table for the government if possible.  (She can get more money if she waits before claiming. But there are risks involved in this strategy that she has to be aware of.)  So we chatted for way too long, and I closed the phone call saying that I had to make another phone call by the end of the day. GFJ also tried to call.  For some reason, the phone didn't ring.  Why, I do not know.  But I wasn't able to call her "right back" as she was going to have dinner with a friend. Instead, we chatted while I was on the road to Yonkers.

I arrived in Yonkers with more than an hour to spare before game night.  So I ended up eating at Panera Bread.  And I exchanged pleasantries with one lady who is a regular there on Thursday nights before and after my meal.  It was nice to have someone say hello to me for a change....

Once done with my meal, it was over to game night where we played the usual games and had a good time.  When the hostess arrived home, I was pleasantly stunned by her appearance - she was wearing a nice black and white polka dot dress (large dots) and showing an appropriate amount of cleavage.  As much as I was finding her breasts attractive because of their perfect shape, I also felt a little envious, as I'd love to be able to have a dress like hers look that good on me.  Who knows?  Someday, I may be lucky enough to have a pair as attractive as hers.

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Throughout the day, I had an ongoing conversation with the Cat Lady about the shoes I was going to wear to the upcoming wedding.  She didn't care for the gold sandals I planned to wear. But given a choice between white flats (with gold trim) and these sandals, the sandals won out.  So expect to see a few pictures of me in these shoes from the wedding....

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Quickie: Independance Day with GFJ

I grew up on Warner Brothers' cartoons, and not the type of Television that Fred Rogers would endorse.  But I think we'd both agree that what I watched was still much better than the mindless action loaded crap shown to kids today to brainwash them to be thoughtless participants in a valueless consumer economy.

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Tuesday night, GFJ returned to the house after a night out with her friend. And then we spent much of the next day doing nothing but taking a needed nap.  So it wasn't until 4 pm or so that we considered getting ready to go out and seeing the documentary about Fred Rogers' career, "Won't you be my neighbor?"

By the time we were dressed and ready to go out, it was 7 pm.  So we took the long way down to the Drafthouse, stopping for ice cream along the way.  When we finally arrived at the Drafthouse, I found that I had a free snack credited to my account which had to be ordered on this visit, unless I wanted to lose it.  This meant that GFJ and I were going to enjoy some popcorn with our movie.

As usual, GFJ was having a hard time keeping her eyes open during the movie. Whereas, I found it easy to stay awake enough to enjoy this modest documentary about a truly quiet, humble, and truly Christian fellow (in all of the best senses of the phrase). The world lost a lot when this man passed away, and I wonder what he'd be saying if he saw what mess we've gotten ourselves into these days....

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Shopping for an All-in-One

Having a day without GFJ has its advantages - especially when I want to purchase an "all-in-one" foundation undergarment for use when I attend the wedding of Lili's son.  GFJ had to go to work today, and then have dinner followed by fireworks watching with one of her girl friends.  So I took advantage of the late afternoon and early evening to take care of tasks that require the presence of Marian.

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, GFJ left my apartment early enough to get in a full day's worth of work.  It may have been a little exhausting for her, as she hasn't been getting enough sleep these days.  But it was productive, as she was able to take care of a few tasks related to the liquidation of marital assets - one of which is the signing of the contract to sell a commercial building.

On my end, I took it easy most of the day, as I didn't get enough sleep the night before AND I had the luxury of sleeping until the afternoon came. But when I got moving, I got out the door and on my way to Catherine's in Paramus just in time for the Pre-Independance Day rush hour traffic jams.  And even then, I was near the store by 5:30 or so.

While in the store, I struck up a conversation with a lady who was looking at some dresses. Both of us had similar feelings about a dress, but she articulated her point much more clearly than I would have. At $70/dress in a "B1G1@50% off" deal, I wouldn't even consider this dress a good value. And that was the start of a very nice chat, where my feminine voice was in perfect form without any glitches. I picked up an "All-in-One" which was slightly too small for me (I knew this would be the case - I'd prefer buying a size 50 instead of a 48. But I can squeeze into the smaller size if needed.) Luckily, I had a $25 off coupon which brought the price of the undergarment down to $30.

Somewhere along the way, I called my brother.  The monthly rent check for the family homestead was deposited, and my brother told me that I can withdraw another tranche of cash to pay off a debt he owes me. So this month will be one of the last bonus months I will get when it comes to money coming out of the house.

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Arriving home, I took above photo to show what I looked like when out and about.  The saleslady at Catherine's commented that she loved the necklace I was wearing, as well as the floral top I was wearing to help make the dress pop.  She said that I was very well put together.  So I captured it in this photo and the photo at the top of the page.

While I was taking photos, I changed into the All-in-One, then put on the outfit I'm wearing to the wedding.  It looks much nicer than the last time I posted a picture of this dress.  Given that we're likely going to have good weather on Saturday, I can't wait to go to the wedding.  It'll be nice to look really pretty for a change!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ending a weekend with GFJ, with another visit from GFJ to come tonight.

Saturday, I spent the night with the Cat Lady celebrating her retirement.  Although she will need to find some work to close the gap between her income and her outflow, I expect that she will be in a happier place now.  Next is to hope that GFJ finds a way to provide for her future without the Wasband, and that she's near enough to me for us to enjoy some sort of relationship.

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Sunday was the hottest day of the weekend. And GFJ had workmen cutting down trees, as well as painting buildings on her property.  They started at the break of dawn, and kept going until the summer's heat sapped all the energy out of them - at 2 pm.  Work is not complete, so they will need to come back later in the week to finish their jobs.

GFJ was also sapped, but she knew that even if she showered, she'd need another shower when she got here.  So she packed up her bag and drove here in time for a 5 pm arrival. After her shower, the two of us went out for dinner and a short drive before packing it in for the night.

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Monday came, and we had a decision to make.  What time do we leave to see a movie?  I wanted to see "The Catcher was a Spy", a true story based on the life of Moe Berg. After some discussion (and some time killing) we left for a 7:30 pm showing of the film.  The worst of the heat had broken, and we were lucky enough to park within 100 feet of the theater. To make things better, we both enjoyed the film!

On the way back home, we stopped for a bite to eat at the local diner, and again, we had leftovers we could eat on a following day.

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Tuesday (Today) is the explanation for this entry's title.  GFJ had to go back to her office and later, see a friend for dinner and fireworks.  So.... With a little kiss at 7:30 am, she left for home, and I went back to sleep for a while.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get some time out as Marian before she comes back tonight.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Quickie: The hottest day of the year - so far.

As I write this entry, the temperature outside is likely to hit 100 degrees in New York City.  For the beginning of July, this heat is not unreasonable, but it is higher than normal for this time of year.  And I have decided to avoid most of the heat by staying inside and using my air conditioner. GFJ, on the other hand, is supervising workers who are preparing her house for eventual sale.

Doctors tell people to be careful in this kind of heat wave, and I have learned to avoid situations where I can suffer severe dehydration.  I feel a little bit sorry for those people working on GFJ's property today.  GFJ will likely be making sure that those workers are well hydrated today, as she doesn't want anyone having to go to the hospital - which is at least a half hour from where she lives.

GFJ's house was already supposed to be on the market by now.  However, there will always be headaches in liquidating marital assets in a divorce, and her divorce is no exception to this. So, it is likely that this asset liquidation will take much longer than expected. And it is reasonably possible that GFJ will spend another hot summer in the family homestead.

- - - - - -

It still amazes me that in my lifetime, we have gone from a world where most middle class people suffered in the heat to a world where we can avoid much of the suffering via modern air conditioning.  I couldn't bear to live in my apartment without modern air conditioning, and I am grateful that this modern miracle exists.

When I was young, we didn't have modern air conditioning in our "pre war" house. Instead, something like "Swamp Cooling" was used.  In our house, we had a contraption which looked like one of today's air conditioners. However, one poured ice and water into the top of the box, turned on the fan, and drained off the remaining water after it no longer helped cool the room. Smaller versions of such a system are sold today for personal use.

GFJ is dealing with a house like that I lived in years ago.  Hopefully, her future new residence will be much more comfortable in the summer than her current place is now.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Celebrating the Cat Lady's retirement.

A Hot Summer Saturday.  The purrfect time to go to the movies to keep cool and relax.  And the perfect time to take the Cat Lady (TCL) out to dinner to celebrate her retirement.

- - - - - -

When I woke up, I made sure that I had enough time to get showered and dressed before going out to the movies.  The movie, Book Club, was playing in New City, NY and I decided to go to the 1:30 showing and kill time until dinner with TCL.  So I double checked my routing with Google Maps and it was off to the movies via the Bear Mountain Bridge.

I made it to the movies with a few minutes to spare, and sat down for an entertaining piece of fluff.  One could say that each of the main actors/actresses in this film was long past his/her prime.  And yet, their talents in making characters believable made what could have been a forgettable film into something perfect for enjoying in air conditioned comfort on a hot summer's day.

After the movie was done, I decided to kill some time at Barnes and Noble at the local mall. TCL tried to reach me while I was in the movie, and I texted her back when I got her messages.  Instead of meeting at 6 pm, she asked me to come later, as she couldn't get an earlier restaurant reservation.  So I ended up going to another Barnes and Noble to sit in air conditioned comfort for an hour before driving to TCL's house.

Once at TCL's, I took the time to make room for her in the car. And then we drove to the restaurant and had a very leisurely meal.  2 1/2 hours later, we were still talking at the table when TCL noticed that we were the last people in our section of the restaurant.  So I paid the bill, and drove her home.

- - - - - -

You'll note that I didn't mention GFJ today.  We chatted while I was driving to the theater. And I noticed from her online profile that she probably was sleeping after having to get up very early to deal with the painter and tree cutter working on her property today.  So I'll be in contact with her in the morning and figure out when in the afternoon she'll be coming here to get away from the heat....

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Quickie: The start of the weekend and the start of the heatwave.

Today is the start of a stretch of days which say "Summer is now here!"  There is a high pressure zone in this area which has locked in hot and humid weather that is expected to last until Independence Day - if not longer.  The "real feel" for most of this stretch will be near (or over) 100 degrees, and may keep my feminine self indoors until Monday.

- - - - - -

Waking up this morning, I didn't want to go outside. I had a 10 am doctor's appointment, and didn't want to miss it.  So I got dressed as Mario and went to my physician's office.  In the past, I've often seen a crowded office - even on a Friday.  Yet, for the past 2 visits, the office seemed empty.  Could he be winding down his practice?  I don't know, and I wouldn't ask.  But he was available within 5 minutes, and we had a chat while he checked my blood pressure.  He asked me a couple of questions, and then changed my meds.  And then, I was out the door getting breakfast at the nearby deli.

While waiting for my prescription to be filled, I killed some time chatting with GFJ before going home to rest. Rest was higher on my priority list than picking up my pills, so I ended up going out again at 6 pm for those pills.  Then, I stopped for a couple of slices of pizza before taking a drive to Barnes and Noble to kill some time.  (It was too late for me to switch into Marian Mode to go out again.) And after that, it was onward to my home.

- - - - -

GFJ called back while I was putzing around with the computer.  It seems as if her mom's condition is stabilized (again) at the hospital, and they will try to replicate her mom's morning routine to see what could be triggering the condition that sent her mom to the hospital twice in 3 days.  We discussed some issues involving her divorce, and then she asked me what I was doing on Monday.  Since I had an Arts Westchester meeting, I mentioned that I'd be in Marian mode for the afternoon.  But I will suggest that she come down on Monday night and stay until Independence Day evening.  Hopefully, she will do this....

Friday, July 6, 2018

The day started out very wet, but got better as the sun went down.

Last night, we had a thunderstorm come in around 2-3 am.  By the time I woke up around 11, the worst of the first patch of rain was over, with much more yet to come. At least, the rain kept the temperature in a tolerable range.  The next 4 days will be uncomfortably hot and humid - making me glad that I no longer have to commute to lower Manhattan.

- - - - - -

When I got up, I had 3 things on my schedule. The first was my weekly volunteer stint at the GLBT center. Next was going to see a movie. (I mistakenly thought that "Book Club" was still playing in Port Chester.) And finally, game night in Yonkers. I only got around to two of these items - and it was just as well.

Shortly after 12, I got showered and ready to go to the GLBT center. Yet, I arrived there around 2:30, leaving me 90 minutes to work there before going to the movies. And I was tasked with some mindless activity - sealing and stamping about 200 envelopes.  This was just what I needed to occupy enough of my mind to stay awake, and yet allow myself to relax at the same time. The envelopes were finished at 4 pm, and I rushed out the door in an attempt to see a movie.

Unfortunately, heavy rain started to fall when I got in my car, and I was dealing with this rain all the way to Port Chester.  Arriving at the theater's parking lot, I checked the schedule, only to find out that the movie I wanted to see was no longer playing there.  So it was off to the Bronx to see if a handbag I wanted was at JC Penney.

- - - - - -

The Co-Op city shopping zone is a little strange. At the Northeast end, there is an L-shaped strip mall with clothing stores, restaurants, and a supermarket where parking is free.  A little Southwest of that is an enclosed mall with JC Penney and Macy's as the two main tenants, where one has to pay $3 for parking in a multi-story parking lot.  Across from the enclosed mall, separated by more free parking is a Saks 5th Ave. outlet store and a K-Mart.  Northeast from there are other stores and at least 2 dining outlets, all with free parking.  I parked in a free parking area next to the enclosed mall and went handbag shopping at Penney's. 

I was looking for the same handbag I currently use, but this one in a shade of brown instead of black.  This way, I could coordinate the color of my handbag with the color of my shoes.  Luckily, the bag was available, and "on sale" for 45% off.  This meant that for $33, I could get a nice leather bag with a strap long enough for me to be comfortable carrying the bag around all day.  When I brought the bag to the register, I chatted with one woman who had 4 dresses with her.  Of these, 2 would really look nice on her. And since she was going to a wedding in Virginia this weekend, I figured that these same dresses would be best for an outdoors daytime wedding. Once I got to the register, the computer didn't pick up the discount I was entitled to on the bag.  So I had to wait until she went back to the handbag department until she had the correct pricing information, and then I walked out of the store paying only $33 plus tax for the bag.

- - - - - -

Next, it was over to Stew Leonard's to pick up a crumb cake I could bring to game night.  While I was there, I decided to have fish and chips and sit on benches outside.  For $8, I got 3 pieces of fish, a truck load of fries, and a refillable soft drink.  Although it took a while to fry the fish, it wasn't bad. But I wouldn't order it again.  Instead, I'd buy some food from the hot counter indoors, and eat it in the same area which I ate my fish and chips.  After I finished my dinner, I went in back of where I was sitting and found that Stew's had some farm animals to entertain little children who may accompany their parents as they shopped. In all the years I've shopped there, I've never bothered to visit the animals.  Now, I can say I have done so.

I killed some time before being the first person to arrive at game night.  We played a couple of games, including one which permanently changes its rules each time the game is played. It's an interesting concept. But only if I were an avid gamer would I consider buying a copy of the game.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I decided not to wake GFJ up.  She has some early morning appointments to deal with, and I know to let her sleep.  Over the weekend, she'll be busy dealing with both a painter AND a tree cutter, so that she can prepare her house for sale. With 90+ degree weather expected AND the tree cutter expected to arrive shortly before sunrise, this will not be a weekend that either of us would enjoy each other's company.  Hopefully, we'll be able to get together for July 4th....

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Quickie: No ham and eggs in Carolina today.

Today was a day that I woke up late and stayed in bed all day.  Not much to talk about, save that I didn't bother getting dressed until 6 pm so that I could have dinner with GFJ.

- - - - - -

Lethargy was the order of the day.  I didn't wake up until 11 am, and then stayed in bed most of the afternoon.  GFJ texted me in the morning to relate a problem that sent her mom to the hospital.  She rushed over to the hospital once she finished with some divorce related issues that couldn't be postponed unless her mom was on her death bed, and we chatted during the last 5 minutes of her drive to Danbury.

At this point, I was awake. So I called Lili to find out that nothing much was going on.  Several hours later, I got a call from my brother - and I related some of the issues we discussed at last night's co-op board meeting.  He then suggested an idea GFJ might be able to use to reduce her capital gains taxes - but it may not work for switching an investment from commercial to residential rental property.  My brother will check on this in the morning.

As I was finishing up with my brother, GFJ called.  And we agreed to get together at the Red Line Diner for dinner on her way home from Danbury.  So I showered, shaved and dressed as Mario, and off I went to Fishkill for dinner.  I was certainly driving on remote control, and one mistake I made (not hurting me, my car, or anyone else) caused me to be concerned that I wasn't paying enough attention to my driving.  (If I could have done so, I'd have handed my keys to a friend and asked her to drive.)  This was probably caused by a lack of hydration and no food in my system.  So I won't worry about this too much.

Eventually, I made it to the Red Line, and we had dinner in a very noisy diner.  Everyone, it seemed, had decided to go to the diner for dinner, and we could barely hear each other speak for most of our meal.  (Marian's voice would not be heard over the noise.  Too bad that I couldn't check the decibel level in the place.)  Both of us had leftovers when it was time to leave.

Shakespeare said that "Parting is such sweet sorrow."  Neither of us wanted to leave, but the rain chased us into our cars.  This weekend, we will likely not see each other due to the extreme heat and humidity we are likely to experience.  (Her house is not air conditioned, and she has to be there to oversee the work being done at her house.)  Hopefully, we will be able to get together in the middle of the week, as the following weekend is Lili's son's wedding, and I'll be in Marian Mode all weekend.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Lili, the Co-Op board, and Sweet Sweetback

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song - It's a very unconventional film, and something that gives an idea of how many blacks were treated in places such as Los Angeles about 50 years ago.  It was something I've wanted to see for a long time, and tonight was that chance.

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When I woke up today, I had 3 things on my docket:
  • Lunch with Lili, followed by foundation undergarment shopping.
  • Co-Op board meeting, where we dealt with urgent issues (which I can't discuss here.)
  • Going to the Drafthouse to watch a classic movie.
With a busy schedule like this, I got up earlier than usual and shaved, showered, made up, and dressed as Marian before driving to Millwood to meet Lili.  We then took her car to Mt. Kisco, where we went to a restaurant she raved about on her last visit.

Arriving in Mt. Kisco, we parked in front of the restaurant only to find that the parking meter wasn't working.  Lili left her car in the spot expecting a ticket, and we went to the restaurant. We weren't sure if the restaurant was open, as someone stuck some Pennysavers in the handles, and we had trouble opening the door.  Luckily, someone opened the door for us, and we went inside to enjoy a nice meal.
After lunch, Lili thought we could walk to the Elephant's Trunk where she could buy some foundation undergarments. She needed to make her breasts look nice while hiding the "bump" on Lili's back.  We were over 2 blocks away from the store, so I insisted that she drive to the store.  Later on, she admitted that this was smart advice, as she had a 3 pm Veterinarian appointment for her 2 dogs, and couldn't risk running late. For obvious reasons, this was my first time in this type of store, as I buy all my female undergarments online, or from stores such as Catherine's.  And it was nice to be in a place to totally dedicated to femininity as this store is.

- - - - - -

Once done shopping, Lili dropped me off at my car and drove home the long way.  At home, it was off with the dress, makeup, wig and other things that help define me as Marian. Then, I changed into Mario and went to the board meeting - which lasted over 3 hours.  Sadly, I can not yet talk about what we discussed. But once things become public, I'll talk about what will be publicly available.  Unfortunately, our problems need to be addressed quickly, and we will need to focus on the most important of them until we have a resolution. I ended up leaving the meeting after 3 1/2 hours.  Although it was closing down when I left, there was still more I had to say to our president - both board business and personal business.

- - - - - -

Rushing to the Drafthouse, I made it with a few minutes to spare before Sweet Sweetback went on.  And I was not disappointed by the film.  If I described the film as a man's escape from a crooked LA police force, making it to Mexico and safety, I'd be doing the film an injustice. The film has violence and sex. Yet, both are appropriately used in the telling of the story. And I could describe it as social commentary on race relations in the USA 50 years ago, but that wouldn't give enough credit to the film maker for telling a good tale of a man on the lam. Its star, Melvin Van Peebles applied for, and received workers' compensation for his work on the film:

Van Peebles couldn't afford a stunt man, he performed all of the stunts himself, which also included appearing in several unsimulated sex scenes. At one point in the shoot, Van Peebles was forced to jump off a bridge. Bob Maxwell later stated, "Well, that's great, Mel, but let's do it again." Van Peebles ended up performing the stunt nine times. Van Peebles contracted gonorrhea when filming one of the many sex scenes, and successfully applied to the Directors Guild in order to get workers' compensation because he was "hurt on the job." Van Peebles used the money to purchase more film

Certainly, this has to be the most interesting way one can get into a situation where one can collect workers' compensation.  And this film is NOT pornographic. Some people called it the first Blaxploitation film. I prefer to think of the film Shaft this way. On the Drafthouse's page for this film, the plot is summed up this way:

Melvin Van Peebles stars as a black orphan raised in a brothel and groomed to be a sex show performer. Set up by his boss and two corrupt cops for a murder he didn’t commit, Sweetback escapes custody and is thrust into an increasingly hallucinogenic world of violence and bigotry where no one can be trusted, and the possibility of death lurks at every corner…

I highly recommend seeing this film at least once.  It's not a great film.  But it is an important one.

- - - - - -

Given that I didn't have a chance to talk with GFJ this evening, I called her on my way home from the movie.  Surprisingly, she was at the office - and we chatted on my drive home.  We came up with an idea that could save her some money, transferring some of their office building sale risk to the Wasband in exchange for her absorbing the risk on the sale of their house.  Hopefully, this may be the germ of an idea which could help her separate her interests from her ex's as quickly as possible.

- - - - - -

PS: Years later,  Melvin's son, Mario Van Peebles made a film (Baadasssss!) about his father's struggles in the making of Sweetback.  Hopefully, I'll get the chance to see that film soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The drive home to nap on my own bed

That say that a smart squirrel stashes food away to be eaten when food is scarce.  In my case, I was lucky enough to put money into the bank when times were good, so that I could ride out a long period of unemployment.  And this was a topic that came up with GFJ before I left for home this morning.

- - - - - -

Both of us woke up late (for different reasons), and had a late breakfast.  Around noon, both of us were getting ready for the afternoon.  She had lots of things to do in regard to liquidating marital assets, and I had to get home and take care of things not taken care of over the weekend.

On the drive home, I called Lili. She was driving to Long Island to see her nephew in law in regard to an issue related to her sister's inheritance. (Leave it to some families to fight over money after someone has died - in this case, both Lili's mother and Lili's sister.)  It wouldn't be right to go into details here, so I won't do so. But I'll give everyone some advice here: Make sure you have a well written will, and make sure your heirs know what you want to do with your assets in advance.  If one wants to buy/sell their interest in an inheritance, make sure that everything is in writing - and that a good lawyer has drafted the document people will sign.

Once I got home, I put last night's leftovers in the fridge, and took a nap.  Although I could have gone out as Marian today (and tonight), I decided not to do so because I had no one to see and no interest in spending more money.  However, I did send an email to YGM to say that I had a good time last week, and to tell her that they jacked up the price of the dress I bought the day after I bought it.

- - - - - -

Tomorrow looks like it will be a half and half day.  Lili wants to get together for lunch, and I have a co-op board meeting scheduled for the evening.  If I had my druthers, I'd skip the meeting and suggest to the Cat Lady that we get together and celebrate her retirement. However, that will have to wait until I have a free evening to do so.

Monday, July 2, 2018

A last weekend with GFJ before the hot spell arrives.

GFJ was expecting for one hot day this weekend.  So I over packed Mario's suitcase with extra long and short sleeve shirts before driving up to her place for the weekend.

- - - - - -

I got the call that GFJ wanted me to drive up to her place after Friday's rush hour. I told her that I'd be driving up around 7 pm. But due to my stupidity and clumsiness, I knocked over a large container of coins and had to clean them up before leaving the house. GFJ decided to grab something to eat, and I said that I'd pick up something on my way up.  Sadly, I made the mistake of picking up Chinese in New Paltz, and this would later make me wish I had picked up Mickey D's food instead.

When I arrived at GFJ's place, she was dealing with the realtor who might be helping her sell her house.  The divorce settlement calls for the liquidation of all marital assets, and this means GFJ will be selling off a commercial property, closing down a business, and leaving her home of approximately 30 years. She will be striking out on her own into a life of great uncertainty and risk.

While GFJ talked, I got my Chinese food out of the bags, and she kept me company while I ate my meal.  I'll remember not to go to this take-out place again, as the food had no flavor and I wouldn't consider eating any of the food as leftovers.

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Saturday came, and we didn't get moving until late in the afternoon.  The sky was overcast, rain kept threatening, and neither of us wanted to go out.  So we stayed inside all day, did a little work to clean out a closet in the basement, and then cooked steaks.  It wasn't much of a day to write about, so I'll keep this part of the weekend's report down to this single paragraph.

- - - - - -            - - - - - -            - - - - - -

We expected for the rain to be over on Sunday, with clearing skies and hot weather.  This was not the case.  GFJ got up before 10, and was on the phone by 10:30 with her two sone talking about the sale of the properties. Around noon, they got on a call with the prospective purchaser of one property, and that lasted a while. Then, it was another call with her sons to discuss what she should do.  As I see it, she's in a bind, as she'll need both a place to live and a good income stream for her old age - neither of which looks likely right now.

By the time 4:30 came around, she was finally free, and we decided to get showered, dressed, and out to the movies.  Considering that the only movies at the Kingston multiplex were typical franchise action films, we ended up going to the theater in Rhinebeck to see RBG (a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SCOTUS justice.)  As usual, we barely made it to the theater with a minute to spare. But we were there in time.  If one is into documentaries, I recommend this film.

Once done with at the movies, it was back to Kingston to eat at the diner. Neither of us knew what we wanted to eat. So GFJ took a safe option and ordered an omelet. As for me, I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken.  During dinner, GFJ and I overheard a few snippets of conversation.  One snippet involved one lady who ordered the pot roast, then couldn't eat it because there was too much meat - and returned the dish.  The waitress retorted "this isn't a nursing home" - and one could easily tell that she was upset at the lady for wasting a meal she wasn't going to pay for.  When the waitress went back to the kitchen, the lady commented to me that she was finding my observations in my conversation with GFJ very interesting.  (Moi????)  After she left, the waitress returned, and we had a nice shat with her.  A little later, she came back with this lady's uneaten food and gave it to me as it was untouched, and still perfectly edible.  (Strange, huh????)  So with my leftovers, and this uneaten meal, I had food enough for another two days.

Of course, it was time to go home.  So it was back to GFJ's, where I got interested in an old HBO show, "The Newsroom" while GFJ fell asleep.  If you get the chance to watch this show, make sure that you watch it from the beginning of the first episode, as Jeff Daniels' opening pontification is one of the best speeches one will have the pleasure of watching on TV. And better yet, the show is more meaningful now than when it first ran on TV.

Too bad that I couldn't binge watch the show over the next 12+ hours.  I had to get some sleep before going home, and GFJ had to get up early in the morning to take care of phone calls related to both work and her property sales.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Thursday spent not playing games.

YGM.  She's a friend I met at the Yonkers Game Night meetup, and someone who I wish lived closer to me.  She's moving to Florida from Eastern Connecticut, and today may be the next to last time I see her before she leaves for her new abode.  Hopefully, we'll stay in contact after she moves. But, being realistic, I'm not sure if we'll be able to maintain a friendship over time.

I was the friend who was there for her when her husband was suffering from delayed PTSD after 2 stints in Iraq.  (It would be wrong to go into his symptoms here, but they triggered her move from Yonkers to her mom's house in Eastern Connecticut.)  After getting treatment AND  separating from the service with a medical discharge, he's looking for work in a region that is less densely populated.  Hopefully, he will experience the peace that he deserves, and that their family will enjoy health, happiness, and prosperity in their new home.

- - - - - -

Earlier this week, I received a message from our game night host that he was cancelling tonight's get together.  Family issues (which I won't go into here) prevented him from being able to host a session this week.  So I scheduled a get together with YGM and made plans to drive the 220 mile round trip to see her.

Not getting much sleep last night, I didn't get moving until 10 am.  Even then, I was moving slowly, as I didn't have much energy. So I got shaved, showered, made up, and dressed. Then, it was out the door by noon.  The drive was uneventful, save that I got caught up in a traffic jam in Waterbury. And I arrived at YGM's place shortly after 2 pm.

When I got to YGM's place, it was as no time had elapsed since the last time we were together. And a lot of things had changed. Her mother was already at their house in Florida, YGM's house was in a worse mess than usual, and YGM was on the phone negotiating a price to move their family belongings from Connecticut to Florida.  Instead of staying at her place and taking a swim, I suggested that we drive to Catherine's to see if the blue dress I saw in Poughkeepsie (see above) was available here. This made it possible for YGM to talk about personal things before reaching the store.

Arriving at Catherine's, I immediately looked for the blue dress. Seeing it on the rack, I "rushed" to try it on, and both YGM and the saleslady said that it looked beautiful on me (with and without the floral chiffon blouse I was wearing). So I jumped at buying the dress, as well as a nice T-Shirt bra which was marked at half price.

After Catherine's, we stopped at Lane Bryant (nothing interesting), Walmart (where she picked up sandals and shoes for her son), and Target (where she bought underwear for both of her children). Then, we went back to her house with a stop at the local market for something to eat.  At her house, her husband talked about his plans for a business he'd like to run.  Only one problem - he has the passion, but not the plan to make it happen. Even though he was in the military for 18 years (with a medical discharge due to PTSD), he is not the conservative that most armed service members are. He has seen way too much to be swayed by the propaganda being issued by the regime in power. So we had a wonderful conversation before I had to leave.  (I'll bet that he was surprised about the points I was bringing up, as he was thinking along those same lines.)

- - - - - -

On the way home, I tried to reach GFJ several times.  She went to sleep early, and called me back when I was near Danbury. She doesn't yet know whether she will be coming down to be with me, or me driving up to her place. Additionally, she doesn't know when she'll be free, as she has to meet with the man buying some of the joint marital assets - and the "Wasband" will be around some of the time.  So I'm hoping that I get a heads up about tomorrow early enough to either get together with her or to make other plans for the evening.  And if I have to make other plans, I'm hoping I can spend another night as Marian before my coach turns into a pumpkin.