National Coffee Day

Bumbi’s Mom has a love letter to coffee, which pretty much sums it up.

Until I met my Love, coffee was whatever came out of the urn at a jobsite or a diner nearby.

My Love, on the other hand … “Fanatic” would not be too strong a word.

Just to give you an idea: She has three burr grinders, one set for the filter coffeemaker, one for the French press and one for the espresso machine. The espresso machine is a brass, lever-action Pavoni – a gorgeous work of art.


My Love is NOT a morning person.

On the first morning I stayed in her apartment, I was up first. I made coffee. When she woke up, I brought her a cup in bed.

She took one sip. Without a word, she got up, went to the kitchen, poured the cup down the drain, picked up the pot and poured it down the drain. Then,

Sweetie, I love you more than life itself. But if I have to get up before you to keep you from making ghastly coffee, this is going to be a short romance.

And she showed me how to make coffee. It took me a half-dozen tries before I made a pot that she would even taste.

She wouldn’t let me touch the Pavoni until I’d been in New York for months. It was a month before I could pull an espresso that didn’t taste like hot water soaked in the butts of cheap cigars. It was another month before I could pull an acceptable crema.

Now, she will even drink my espresso. I’ve never been so proud of any accomplishment. I bask in the glow of her favor.

And I’m as fanatic as she is about coffee.

Advertisements

Cookout

Every August, while my fiancée is home, her family gathers at her parents’ ranch for a cookout.


Last year, they had two cookouts. Only her siblings and their families were invited.

At the first cookout, my fiancée came out to her siblings and their spouses. The next day, at church, my fiancée’s sister outed her to the minister – who then set my fiancée up with me for our first date.

At the second cookout, on Labor Day weekend, they got together again to meet me. The warmth for each other and for me was overwhelming.


This year’s cookout promised to be a gigantic affair. Relatives in three states – out to third cousins – angled an invitation.


I thought my fiancée incapable of worry. Her self-possession, her self-confidence, is unnerving.

She’s no Pollyanna. She has known hard times, even financial disaster. Her partners say that for the first few years of her firm, she only slept when she collapsed, and she didn’t have an untroubled night’s sleep for three years during the recession.

But I have never seen her nervous about the future. She’s like a kid watching a thriller, on the edge of her seat in excitement about the surprises about to unfold in front of her.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.


We had a lovely, romantic evening after our anniversary dinner.

She was up early, which is out of character. She was itching to go, which is even more out of character. Getting her going in the morning is the most difficult thing in our life together.

We had planned to shower and dress at the ranch, to be as clean and fresh as possible. But my fiancée’s mother called to say that people had already started to arrive at the ranch. So we showered and dressed at the B&B.


Before I flew out, my fiancée told me to make sure to bring my lemon-yellow sundress. It was what I wore when we had our first kiss. (She loves that dress on me.)

She wore a light blue sundress. (I love that dress on her.)


We drove over in my fiancée’s 50s-vintage pickup. Bench seat, stick shift on the floor. I slid all the way over next to her and she drove with her arm around my shoulder. She let me do the shifting, which is considered pretty damn chivalrous out where we’re from. The sort of thing you only let your best girl do.


It was an absolutely glorious day.

The day I arrived had been beastly hot – almost 100 F/38 C. Late afternoon thunderstorms had broken the heat. It was in the 50s (10s C) that night and the forecast was a high in the 70s (20s C). The sky was spectacularly blue, without a cloud, and there was no humidity.

Her pickup pre-dates air-conditioning. It was cool enough that we didn’t get sweaty. With the windows down, we did get windblown.


We thought that the heat and thunderstorms of the previous day would have discouraged some of the cousins – particularly those from farther away. We were wrong.

The ranchyard is a half-dozen buildings surrounding a gravel lot of a couple of acres – big enough to jockey split-rig stock trucks around and back them up to loading chutes. When we arrived, the lot was full of cars. We parked in the machine shed.


The cookout was in full swing when we arrived.

Everyone else was wearing plaid shirts and blue jeans. We could have gone full butch and fit right in. Much as we love our butch sisters, that’s not us, and not the message we wanted to send. I’ll post more on that later.

My fiancée’s dad called everyone around the back porch and introduced me, my parents, my sister and brother and their spouses and kids.


Everyone brought food. The variety was unbelievable. Eight different kinds of potato salad. (Freshly dug little red potatoes from a mountain valley, cooked with a bit of crunch left in them, are one of this world’s great pleasures.) Green beans. Peas. Five different kinds of cole slaw. Lettuce salads. Cucumbers, right off the vine. Carrots and radishes, right out of the ground. Roasted beets. Roasted potatoes. Roasted peppers. Roasted squash. Corn on and off the cob. Grilled onions. Homemade pickles. Homemade onion pickles. Homemade relishes. Even Jello.

Steak, sausages, hot dogs and burgers, with charcoal and wood grills to grill your own.

I like steak fine, but wood-grilled lamb is my favorite meat. My fiancée (or her sister) must have talked to one of her lamb-raising cousins. He brought baby lamb rib chops, cut one to a rib, just for me. He dipped them in olive oil and rosemary and grilled them for me over the wood fire. It was the best lamb I have ever eaten. I’m sure that he’d never been kissed by a lesbian in a sundress before. If he wasn’t married, and I wasn’t a lesbian and engaged to his cousin, I might have married him, right there.

Slow-roast pork shoulder.

Raspberry pie. Rhubarb pie. Huckleberry pie. Peach crisp. Blueberry cobbler. Chocolate cake. Lemon cake. Gallons of ice cream.

Growlers of IPAs and stouts and summer wheats from one of the local microbreweries. Lemonade. Limeade.

One of the best things about the Mountain West: Mormons don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, so they make root beer. Not sugar syrup and flavoring in fizzy water. Real, brewed root beer. One of my secret vices is a root beer float with Mormon root beer.


Most of them had been to college and most lived in towns or the small cities within a couple of hundred miles of the ranch. They had probably all at least come into contact with gays. But there probably weren’t any gays in their social circles.

On the whole they were open and friendly – and curious.

I was afraid that we might be ogled and studied like creatures in a zoo. After everyone left, my fiancée admitted that her anxiety that morning had been exactly that – that she suddenly regretted that she was going to put me under a microscope, to be examined critically by strangers.

I did feel that, at first. My fiancée and I made a special effort to engage with those she and her parents thought might be the most difficult.

I thought it might be better for me to mingle separately, rather than with my fiancée as a couple. Engaging as a couple might be provocative – a poke in the eye – and meeting people separately might make me seem more a person and less half-a-lesbian-couple. Also, my fiancée seemed so nervous that I was afraid she’d put a damper on the happiness of meeting people. On the other hand, my fiancée didn’t want to abandon me in a sea of strangers. The only large gatherings of strangers I have ever been in were professional conventions and scholarly gatherings. She was concerned that I’d not be able to turn on enough charm.

In the event, it didn’t make a difference. We worked the crowd together for a while, then went into a cycle of splitting up and getting back together. She had a good sense of when and where I should circulate – a talent I’ve never had. She’d engage a relative or a group, then wave me over. We’d talk together, then she’d leave me and warm up another group.


At first, we were careful not to display affection. After a while, we held hands when we were together.


There was a lot of ooh-ing and ah-ing over our (matching) engagement rings.


I was afraid the older relatives might prove difficult, but they were fine. I’m not sure that they all had gotten the whole story – maybe that they’d been told we were just good friends.

One of the oldest aunts, however, sat me down to tell me that her favorite aunt (my fiancée’s great-great aunt) was a lesbian. After all, the aunt had never married – and she lived in Seattle. With a roommate.


I did get some of the silly questions that lesbians get asked. But they were good natured and seemed honestly curious. There were a few who plainly did not approve, but they were well behaved. The rest ran the spectrum ran from tolerance to acceptance to approval.

My fiancée’s mother was keeping a mental register of those she judged would not attend a lesbian wedding. It’s not an issue; the potential problems are beyond the first-cousin circle, which is as far out as we planned to invite.


I had one uncomfortable chat. It started pleasantly enough. The woman (a student at a well regarded liberal arts college) seemed genuinely curious. But then she said, “I just don’t get lesbians” – and followed it by stridently disparaging the very notion that a woman could find satisfaction without a man. Her vehemence (and lack of understanding) startled me; I brushed it off with an inconsequential reply.

As I thought on it later, the remark irritated me more and more. I’ve been mulling it over ever since. It dovetails with a perceptive comment that I received a few weeks ago. I’ll write more about it, although probably as a protected post.


My family had a roaring good time.

Dad is an affable guy and a great hobnobber. He loves a good party with lots of new people; it’s an opportunity to get out from under Mother’s shadow. He made friends with everyone. Every time I saw him, he was either laughing with some guys or looking at my fiancée or me with pride.

I was afraid Mother might cause trouble if she ran into some poor soul who didn’t show what she considered proper respect for my fiancée and me. She was generally well behaved, the sort of gigantic personality that goes over well in a big, boisterous crowd. There was one lapse: A woman told Mother that my fiancée and I seemed like nice people, but the woman couldn’t approve of our “lifestyle”. More on that in another post.


My siblings and their spouses had a good time, too. They didn’t walk away from the Catholic Church, as I did, and were initially lukewarm about a lesbian in the family. Since Mother laid down the law, however, they have been fine.

I was afraid they might be drowned in the boisterous sea at the cookout. My siblings are very nice and I love them dearly, but they are very normal (compared to my fiancée’s siblings). Their socializing is limited to business, church and their kids’ schools. In the event, they found like-minded people and connected with my fiancée’s more conservative and business-oriented relatives.


A teenaged boy waylaid me away from the crowd. He told me that he thought he was gay, and it frightened him. He was sure his parents would be OK – they had been cordial to my fiancée and me – but he was afraid of being ostracized and bullied in school and he had religious qualms.

I told him he should talk to the minister who set me up with my fiancée, and should consider discussing it with his parents. I didn’t think that he should come out to anyone else – and he shouldn’t act on it – until he was in college. The most awful mistakes of my life were my sexual activity in high school; from that experience, I firmly believe in teenage celibacy. I offered my and my fiancée’s good offices; he didn’t take us up.

He called a few days later to say that he had discussed it with the minister and with his parents. His parents were disappointed, but they were OK.

He thanked me for being a “good role model”. I’ve never been accused of that before.


Almost no one left before sundown, even though some had four-hour drives. They all pitched in to clean up and distribute the leftovers – of which there were surprisingly few.

Anniversary dinner

The last two weeks have been eventful.


Friday, 14 August, I flew home for a week of vacation.

Flying home from New York is an all-day affair. There are no direct flights. Even with a 6AM first leg and picking up two hours with time zones, it was mid-afternoon by the time I arrived.


I first met my Love one year, to the day, before.

For our first anniversary, we reserved a table at the restaurant where we met.


Growing up, this was The City. Now that I’ve seen New York, London and Singapore, well, it’s a town. But it’s a delightful town. Someday, I want to have one of the 19-aught houses with a yard for a half-dozen wild kids. Ozzie, the girl mathematician entrepreneur. Harriet the girl engineer.

I reserved a room in a bed & breakfast in one of those 19-aught houses. When I made the reservation, I delicately asked the owner if she would be comfortable hosting a lesbian couple. She laughed and told me that they had just hosted a gay wedding.

I checked in and took a little nap. I got up, soaked in a hot bath with my Love’s favorite oil. I made myself as pretty as I could.

I took a car to the restaurant. Last year, she was there first, waiting for me. This year, I was there long before she arrived. I wanted to savor her entrance.

She came in. The world narrowed to her. She wore the same dress, the same pearls, the same studs as last year.

I stood up.

She saw me and smiled. My world exploded. I felt what I felt last year, when she first touched my cheek. That I would never draw another breath. And that would be fine.

She is tall. Slender. She moves with exquisite grace. Her dress moved with her. Every eye was on her. All conversation stopped.

Last year, we didn’t touch. I didn’t dare. I was deeply in the closet.

This year we kissed. Not a public display of affection. Just a, “Hello, sweetie,” kiss. But we were radiating such happiness that no one would doubt what we were to each other.


Last year, she hadn’t had trout in a year, so she had trout. I had rabbit.

This year, I hadn’t had trout in six months, so I had trout. She had rabbit.

We are firm believers in swapping bites.


In the mountains, trout tastes sweet. I tried it once in New York. It wasn’t sweet. It tasted odd.

I’ve gotten accustomed to Atlantic fish – other than Atlantic salmon. I love Pacific salmon. But Atlantic salmon tastes rancid to me.

The trout was pan seared and served in almond shavings and tarragon butter. It was as sweet as I remembered.


The rabbit – in a rosemary-mushroom reduction – was a warm note on a cool summer night.

An elegant light Willamette pinot.

Dinner conversation was New York heat and humidity, Western wildfires, putting up hay, hay yield, calf yield, food, wedding plans, the next day’s cookout.

She gave me background on the parts of her family I would meet for the first time at the cookout. A warning that we would be the first lesbians some of them had ever met. She wasn’t sure how open-minded some of the distant cousins would be. I could tolerate some pleasant bigotry, and even a suggestion or two that I was headed to Hell. Still, I suggested that – for the sake of inter-family harmony – we keep any doubtful relatives away from my mother.


The chef came out of the kitchen with three glasses and a half-bottle of Sauternes to toast us over a deep dish berry crisp.


The B&B was romantic and gay-friendly. Very romantic. Very gay-friendly.

August

She’s gone.


My Love has always spent August at her parents’ ranch. She helps with the August work: cutting, raking and putting up hay; riding fence; chasing strays; doctoring cattle; working on trucks and tractors and implements.

She rides her horse back into the wilderness. She honky-tonks with her high school friends.


Her whole family – parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins – gets together for a big cookout. Steak for the adults, burgers and dogs for the kids, potato salad, green beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumber slices, berry pies with home-made ice cream, home-baked bread.

In years past, the main sport at the cookout was teasing my Love about her lack of a love life. At last year’s cookout, she came out to her siblings. The next day, her sister outed her to the minister of her church – the minister who had been counseling me. The minister set us up a few days later.


My Love left for home on Friday.

I’ll join her out there this coming Friday – the first anniversary of the night we met. We’re having dinner at the same restaurant.

Her family cookout will be Saturday.

Everybody will be there this year: brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandparents, uncles, aunts, great uncles, great aunts, cousins, second cousins, even some third cousins. They are coming from three states.

Everybody wants to meet the girlfriend. (That would be me.) My family is coming, too.

My Love’s family is unusually close-knit, even out to second and third cousins. They are also hilariously boisterous. Should be a lot of fun.


After the cookout (and Sunday services at my old church), we’ll spend a few days at a “luxury guest ranch” in the mountains and the weekend with my parents. I don’t know what the sleeping arrangements will be. I’m not going to push it.

I’m less than 6 months into my new job; I can’t take off more than a week. My Love will come back with me and play Suzie Homemaker for the rest of the month.

So that’s why they’re called “love apples”

This past weekend, we stopped at a farm stand and got heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve never had a garden. My only experiences with tomatoes are canned tomatoes (delicious for cooking) and supermarket tomatoes (paint them white and use them for baseballs).

I’ve never liked raw tomatoes. I don’t dislike them; I just never got the point.

My Love insisted that we buy a pound of them. I thought she was nuts, but I indulged her.

She showed me how to select tomatoes. I was amazed that they had a nice firm softness, like – well, like something I would describe in a protected post. Her most important advice:

Always get the ugliest tomatoes.


That was Friday afternoon. Saturday for lunch, we had tomato sandwiches.

Oh

My

GOODNESS!


Tomato Sandwich

  • Two slices of slightly stale bread, preferably something that will disintegrate when wet (e.g., Portuguese corn broa)
  • mayonnaise
  • sliced tomato
  • salt
  • bottled beer

Smear mayo on bread. Stack at least 3/4 inch (20mm) of salted tomato slices between mayo’ed bread.

Eat. Drink beer from bottle. Repeat until sick.


Notes:

  1. Don’t bother with a plate. Eat it over the sink. If the tomato is properly ripe, the juice will run down your forearms and off your elbows into the sink.
  2. Don’t wear a white shirt. In fact, don’t wear a shirt at all. Before starting, my Love stripped to her bra and undies and encouraged me to do the same. I wondered why she was wearing her yoga bra and undies. Now I know.
  3. My Love says you can substitute olive oil for mayo.
  4. Don’t drink the beer from a glass. Be careful with the bottle. Your hands will be slick.
  5. Part of the trick is to finish the sandwich before the bread completely disintegrates.

So, if you see two 30-somethings in their worst bras and undies standing over the sink, drooling red, making obscene slurping sounds, swigging beer from the bottle and laughing, you’ll know you’re at the right place.

Well, OK then

In a box on the administrative page for this blog, WordPress shows the search terms that people have used to find it. Today was a red-letter day: There was something in that box! Somebody had found my blog using Google search!

What was the magic search? What thirst for knowledge led someone to that profound oracle, the Family Values Lesbian?

lutheran funeral jello

Whoever you are, I hope you’re satisfied with the result of your search.

Is Jello a dessert?

Baroness Buttercup has nominated me for The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. I will do a proper post (amalgamating it with the other nominations I’ve received). But her first question, viz.,

Should Jello ever be considered a dessert? Why, or why not?

requires immediate response.


With respect, Your Ladyship, it is plain that, in your youth on the baronial estate, you were isolated from rural Scandinavian Lutherans.

Jello is the canonical Lutheran Church basement pot-luck dessert. It is served at all weddings, funerals, Bible School graduations, Sunday School awards, Tuesday Clubs, Men’s Bible Study … . It would be served at the Gay-Straight Alliance meetings, if there were any gays.

But not just any Jello:

Lime Jello with mandarin orange slices topped with Miracle Whip!

Out at the West Jerkwater Evangelical Lutheran Church, they still talk about how daring Mrs Larson was to use red Jello! Of course, that was back in the 60s, and Mrs Larson had some radical tendencies. She even voted Democrat once. She claims that felt sorry for that nice Mr Truman, who was going to lose so badly to Mr Dewey.

It is rumored that the Methodists mix in marshmallows, and substitute Cool Whip for Miracle Whip. Just another indication that the Methodists are heretics, if not outright blasphemers.


But not all Jello is dessert.

Make Jello in a cake tin. Cut it into rectangles about three inches long by one inch wide. These make the most amazing toys.

They wiggle and shimmer.

If you put one on the table and push at one end, it will crawl along the table like an inchworm.

When it breaks, you have to eat it.

I don’t know if my family was exceedingly inventive, or exceedingly easy to amuse or just exceedingly goofy, but a tray of jello rectangles could keep me amused for hours. Even when I was a sullen teenager. Even though I hate Jello.

Which just goes to show you how exciting life can be out in West Jerkwater.


Jell-O and Miracle Whip are trademarks of Kraft Foods. No Lutherans or Methodists were harmed in the production of this post.