• The Case of the Missing Drag Queen

    Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie’s support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship. On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance. Luke reluctantly agrees to help his new-found friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.

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  • Aucune Bonne Action

    La veille de Noël, en 1966, Philip Potter, un conservateur du Smithsonian au grand cœur, termine ses achats de dernière minute. Au même instant, James, son compagnon depuis plusieurs années, s’ôte la vie chez eux. Inconscient de ce qui l’attend, Philip dépose des cadeaux à un refuge pour sans-abris, un acte généreux qui fera plus tard de lui un suspect dans le meurtre d’un prostitué. Après la mort choquante de James, deux hommes entrent dans la vie de Philip… et tous deux conduisent une Continental jaune. L’un d’eux, toutefois, est un tueur avec le sang de six prostitués sur les mains. Et tous deux cachent quelque chose. Comme Philip est sur le point de le découvrir, aucune bonne action ne …

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  • Equality: What Do You Think about When You Think of Equality?

    In the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Stride Toward Freedom and Malala Yousafzai’s, I Am Malala, Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality? presents thought-provoking and compelling personal essays that probe a concept professed to be the very foundation of our democracy—a concept that may even be more vital today than in the past. From international bestselling author, Anne Perry who asserts we must look within ourselves to our emotions, experiences, and beliefs before we attempt an honest and truthful answer, to Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist and author, who claims diagnostic labels used in treating mental illness often stigmatize and dehumanize the patient causing clinicians to view their patients in terms of their diagnosis rather than …

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  • No Good Deed

    On Christmas Eve in 1966, Philip Potter, a kind-hearted Smithsonian curator,  wraps up his last-minute shopping. Meanwhile, his lover of several years takes his own life back in their home. Unaware of what awaits him, Philip drops off gifts at a homeless shelter, an act of generosity that will later make him a suspect in the murder of a male prostitute. Following James’s shocking death, two men enter Philip’s life—and both drive yellow Continentals. One of them, though, is a killer, with the blood of at least six hustlers on his hands. And both are hiding something. As Philip is about to discover, no good deed goes unpunished. (Originally released by MLR Press in 2013 as After Christmas Eve)

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  • Whippersnapper

    Tellumo Magnamater is a fresh-out-of-college, first-year English teacher at Salt Lick County High School in Kentucky. He rides the bus to and from work, and every day he walks to the gym behind his small efficiency apartment to exercise. Perhaps because of being raised by two lesbians, Tellumo is attracted to older men. He sets his sights on fifty-something available bachelor Oliver Crumbly. But Tellumo isn’t the only resident interested in Oliver. Peggy Tucker, a widow approaching her sixtieth birthday, is determined to marry again, and she thinks Oliver is her perfect match. Despite Tellumo and Peggy striking up a friendship at the gym, neither realizes they are interested in the same man. But the joke might be on both of …

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  • Happy Independence Day

    Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. Little does he know the world is already changing, and his part in it won’t be what he expects. A prelaw student at Columbia University, Terrence’s interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie, the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn. Too bad Cameron bolts whenever Terrence looks his way. College dropout Cameron McKenzie left tiny Paris, Kentucky with dreams of a career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he prostitutes himself to survive. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes. He’s in over his head with no way out—at …

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  • The Bear King of Snowbird Mountain

    Recently single Jeremy Jenkins is an average guy working hard as a landscape designer in the mountains of Tennessee. At a conference in DC, he meets gorgeous Donald Matthews, who says the strangest things—like how he thinks Jeremy is hot and wants them to spend the rest of their lives together. This story is part of A Taste of Honey, a Dreamspinner Press Anthology. Other stories in the collection: The Bear Fetish, by John Amory The Bear Next Door, by Jack Byrne The Bear at the Bar, by J. Scott Coatsworth Barefoot, by Lillian Francis Just Breath, by John Genest Bear Chasing, by Renae Kaye Golden Bear, by G. P. Keith Hunting Bear: A Fairy Tale with a Very Hairy …

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  • Until Thanksgiving

    Josh Freeman knows his best days are behind him. After his partner of seventeen years has an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself in takeout boxes, half-smoked joints, and self-pity until his best friend gently kicks him in the ass and encourages him to try out a new job in Washington DC—at least until Thanksgiving. Though DC has its share of troubles, specifically in the form of a murderer targeting gay men, Josh soon discovers its charms as well. Unlike his old home, DC is crawling with men who want to date him—apparently he’s not as overweight, out of shape, or over the hill as the man he once loved made him believe. In particular, Josh would love …

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The Crotchety Old Man

Aug 16, 2021
By Michael Rupured

Slow as Molasses

I haven’t set foot in the gym since before the pandemic. Plantar fasciitis forced me to stop running last November. After months of foot exercises and tons of ibuprofen, I decided to try running again in April. The initial goal was three miles, every other day. After several pain-free weeks, I started walking four miles on days I didn’t run. That morphed into a daily four-mile walk/run at a pace faster than 15 minutes per mile. MapMyRun keeps me on track with announcements at the end of each mile about my total time, average time per mile, and time for the last mile. I’m a Goldilocks runner. If it’s too hot (above 80ish) or too cold (below 55ish), I’m staying …

Jun 27, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Wall o’ Maters

My track record for growing tomatoes is decidedly mixed. Back in Kentucky years ago, a handful of plants routinely yielded tomatoes for me, my family, neighbors and coworkers. Since moving to Georgia, ripe tomatoes have been few and far between. The 2021 crop is shaping up to be an exception. This year’s plants are the healthiest and most robust I’ve ever seen. The cause is hard to determine with any certainty. Too many factors have changed since last year to point to any one in particular. Success this year is likely due to a combination of changes. The spot where the tomatoes are growing was home to a big magnolia last year. The “virgin” soil makes a difference. Growing tomatoes …

Jun 06, 2021
By Michael Rupured

My Plant Babies

Growing flowers and vegetables from seed this year has been largely successful. Nearly everything came up and, along with garden center acquisitions, found a home in the garden. I love them all, but my home-grown babies hold a special place in my heart. Sweet alyssum was the first of my plant babies to bloom and perhaps the easiest to start. They sprout within a few days, start to bloom in a matter of weeks, and keep producing masses of honey-scented flowers for months. Volunteer seedlings are likely next year and, unlike some self-seeders, are easily managed. Marigolds were next to bloom. I started two varieties: ‘Strawberry Blonde’ and ‘Elevate’. The latter is extra-tall at maturity (30 to 40 inches) with …

May 27, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Running Man

I’m not one for regrets. For better or worse, my life is the product of the choices I’ve made. What if’ing different choices is a waste of time. What’s done is done. Celebrate the good, learn from the bad, and move on. That said, I wish my early experiences with running had been more positive. My aversion started in grade school. When I tried to run, severe side cramps forced me to stop. I vividly recall my shame for being unable to finish a mile run in Phys Ed class. Trying too hard was the problem. For some reason, I thought all-out was the only option. I got a wild hair in my early 20s during a downpour one summer …

May 10, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Retirement Bliss

The first four months of my retirement were crazy busy. Remodeling projects kicked off the first week of January and continued well into April. I’m happy with the results and thrilled to have the near-constant disruption behind me. Having to work would have complicated things. Telecommuting would have been a challenge with all the noise and I had no desire to go anywhere. Call me weird, but I want to be home when strangers are in my house. Had I been working, Toodles would have been an issue. I stopped kenneling her when her diabetes was diagnosed and have never confined her to one room. Mostly, she sat with me. Once in a while, she wandered back to check things …

Apr 27, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Plant Factory Update

The little seed-starting operation I set up in January has been a success. I’ve grown hundreds of flower and vegetable plants from seed and counting. The exact number or even a good estimate is unknown — I’ll keep better records next year. At least a few plants came up of everything I planted. Varieties include black-eyed Susan, Canterbury bells, foxglove, delphinium, calendula (pot marigold), sweet allysum, petunias, marigolds (2 varieties), zinnias (2 varieties), tithonia (Mexican sunflower), love-lies-bleeding, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and a ton of lettuce (3 varieties). ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias were the exception. The microscopic seed are slow to germinate. Algae covered the seed-starting mix before they had time to sprout. I’ve had the same issue with petunias. A …

Apr 14, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Just Add Water

When I was young, Dad built a fountain with brick, ceramic tile, a recirculating pump, and a concrete mermaid. He bored a hole in the bottom of the statue for water to flow into the pond below. Unable to make the turn to reach her mouth, water gushed from the seated mermaid’s crotch. Despite the glitch, the fountain provided years of enjoyment. Several goldfish thrived until the above-ground pool froze solid. After it thawed, we were amazed to find them alive and well instead of floating belly-up. Inspired by friends who’d created a beautiful waterfall for next to nothing, my first water feature was made with rocks picked up from the side of Central Kentucky roads and a waterbed mattress. …

Apr 05, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Evolution of My Backyard

The realtor for my first house said I bought the yard and took whatever house went with it. That’s not entirely true, but garden potential has always been a big factor. An ugly lot with no potential is a deal-breaker. I loved my current home as soon as I walked in the door. The privacy fence around the backyard sealed the deal. Sun all morning and shade all afternoon make the patio pleasant for most of the day. The landscaping when I moved in, however, left a lot to be desired. I’ve mostly tinkered around the edges to make mowing easier. The lawn needs to be mowed once or twice a week for nine months or more here. Replacing hard-to-mow …

Mar 29, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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No More Waiting

Six months ago, I decided to do some remodeling around the house. I thought everything would be done by the end of December. Shows how much I know. Barring (another) unforeseen delay, the last project will be completed this week. In my defense, work didn’t start until the first week of January. The list of projects expanded too — a lot. One thing led to another until, three months later, Chez Rupured has been transformed. The initial plan was to upgrade the master shower and replace carpet in the bedrooms. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. Along with new carpet, I ended up renovating the entire bathroom, painting every room, replacing old furniture, and fixing drainage issues in the …

Mar 08, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Practically Perfect

The home renovation and remodeling projects I’ve been talking about since September are drawing to a close. The bathroom is done, the entire interior has been freshly painted, and the bedrooms have new carpet. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Everything in the house had to be moved — twice. Putting things back was an opportunity to purge and reorganize. Rejects that fit in my car went to the Goodwill store in one of many trips over the past two months. Everything too big for my car vanished soon after being placed by the curb. I’m very proud of the neat and well-organized closet. I hate to brag, but have practically perfect closets is rare. We’ll see how long …

Feb 25, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Late-winter Veggies

My second attempt at a winter vegetable garden has been more successful than the first. I can’t really take credit. Success came down to an unusually wet and cool September followed by months with only light freezes. The bar is admittedly low. Merely surviving the winter is a success. Months of root growth will pay off later for annual flowers. Any harvest is icing on the cake. My approach to growing vegetables is more than a little random. I don’t have room for a full-on vegetable garden and don’t want more than I can eat or easily give away. Mixing produce in with flowers works for me. Spinach is my biggest success so far. Freshly-picked leaves have been turning up …

Feb 22, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Crotchety Alert!

An ugly confluence of events has brought my inner crotchety out of hiding. Spring fever, pandemic fatigue, and renovation delays have had me on the brink. Disruptions to my nap routine pushed me over the edge. This time of year is always rough. Solar energy fuels my usually sunny disposition. Cold, dreary days suck the life out of me. Moving south for shorter, milder winters has eased but not ended my suffering. I know. Pitiful. They don’t call it SAD for nothing. Staying home for the past year hasn’t been too bad, but COVID-19 safeguards are getting to me. I may not have ventured out much before the pandemic, but I could. I guess I still can, but I’d rather …

Feb 16, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Napping

Sleeping in didn’t make my list of retirement activities. Years ago, my internal clock eliminated the need for an alarm. Come five o’clock, I’m up. Getting up so early makes napping a necessity. Toodles is partially to blame for the early hour. She gets her insulin injection every twelve hours. We could do it just about any time, but first thing in the morning suits us. She no longer minds the injections and lets me know it’s time for the afternoon dose should I run late. Getting up at the last possible second used to be the norm. Before coffee was an essential part of my morning routine, I could be showered, dressed, blow-dried, styled, and on my way in …

Feb 11, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Coming Soon: Drainage!

The company doing my bathroom renovation is more about solving moisture and mold issues than remodeling. I asked the project manager about drainage issues in my yard. His company doesn’t do that kind of work, but he knew someone who did. A downspout from my next door neighbor’s house runs into a plastic pipe buried in the ground. Where it empties is a mystery, but I suspect the dry streambed was put in to channel the water away. During heavy rains, the water flows enough for kayaking. My downspouts empty into the yard. Rather than flowing into the streambed, ponds spring up all over the place. The ground stays sloppy wet for days after a big rain. I figure the …

Feb 08, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Antsy

Patience is not among my strengths. Never has been. Waiting for my COVID-19 vaccination, completion of the renovation, and the end of cold weather has me a bit antsy. Throughout my childhood and well into my teens, I didn’t sleep a wink on Christmas Eve. Anticipation built for weeks. By December 24th, sleep was impossible. Christmas is date certain. Come hail or high water, it’s December 25th. Knowing the date made counting down possible, and that made waiting easier. Kind of. I’m waiting for open-ended stuff. Work on the house is on track to finish by the end of the month — probably. I’ve registered for the vaccine, but have no idea when my number will come up. I’m not …

Feb 04, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Gardening

Surprise! Gardening made my list of retirement activities. Like nobody saw that coming. Few things make me happier than puttering around in the garden. Starting a flat of seed, turning over ground for a new flower bed, or setting out plants provide instant gratification. The rewards keep coming too — for weeks, months and even years. I’m growing mostly annuals for now. They’re easy, colorful, bloom for months, and I can change things up every year. They’re also high maintenance. I don’t care. I’m retired. Permanent plantings would be more cost effective, but I can’t decide what I want. Even if I could commit, drainage issues need to be resolved first. After a big rain, my lawn resembles a rice …

Feb 01, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Happy Groundhog Day!

February 2nd has long been my favorite day of the year. Call me skeptical, but I couldn’t care less about some groundhog. Shadow or not, the possibility of spring weather being just six weeks away lifts my spirits. Cold weather and I fell out in college. The rift started in high school. Snow was fun — until I got my driver’s license. Resentment simmered for years, boiling over every time I had to walk to class in sub-zero temperatures, blinding snow, or bone-chilling wind. Gardening pushed me over the edge. Freezing temperatures became the enemy. I wished for the end of winter with more urgency. Even in Kentucky, where cold weather persists into May, I never stopped hoping for an …

Jan 28, 2021
By Michael Rupured

Purging

Although I live alone in a 1200 square-foot house, storage is an issue. There’s plenty of space, filled with stuff I rarely or never use. That’s why a massive purge made my list of retirement plans. The remodeling projects somewhat forced my hand. Between painting every room and replacing all the carpet, I have to move everything anyway. No point putting stuff back I no longer want or need. Doing the whole house is the only way to go. Reorganizing one space tends to spill over to another. Managing the spread is the challenge. To move out of the master bath for the renovation, I first had to clear everything out of a hall closet and the tiny, rarely used …

Jan 25, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Remodeling

Fixing up the house made my list of retirement activities. As I have no desire to move again, this is my forever home. A year of social isolation and way too much HGTV have inspired a desire to make better use of the space and how it works for me. I spend the majority of my waking hours in my recliner or at the coffee table on the footstool Toodles uses to jump onto the couch. The coffee table is my desk, dining area, and financial center. The dining room is home to my orchids and seed-starting operation. I use the office as a walk-in closet. Phase 1 (in process) is to renovate the master bath. Deciding to go from …

Jan 21, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Mid-January in the Garden

Winter in Athens has been fairly mild so far. We’ve had frost on windshields many mornings, but only one when the mercury dropped below 25. I covered what I could and crossed my fingers. Everything survived — including plants I was not able to cover. Aside from scattered blossoms, annual flowers have hunkered down and are focused on root development. Dense crowns have replaced scraggly stems. We’re not out of the woods yet, but more roots increase the likelihood of surviving a hard freeze. The veggies are doing great. I’ve been cutting spinach leaves for omelets, salads, and stir-fries. Heads have formed on the broccoli, and little beets and turnips are visible beneath the foliage. Peas and Brussels sprouts look …

Jan 18, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Blogging

Keeping my blog going is #2 on my list of retirement activities. Why keep blogging? Good question. My best answer is more excuse than justification. I enjoy writing. Blogging feels more constructive than journaling and is a lot easier than knocking out another novel. This blog and my reasons for keeping it have often changed. Initially, the Crotchety Old Man bitched about things that pissed me off. When my anger issues proved insufficient to keep it going, I expanded to other topics. I wrote a memoir (including many blog posts), joined a writing group, and penned my first novel. I confess to believing my contract and advance were equivalent to winning the lottery. Millions of fans would flock to my …

Jan 11, 2021
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Alternative Reality

Alternative Reality

I am not a Republican. Although registered as a Democrat, I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool supporter. I’m not big on identity politics and am not a single-issue voter, but freely admit support for gay issues often moves me to vote for Democrats. I believe in the party system. Leadership positions I’ve held have shown me the value of diverse points of view. Hearing opinions other than mine has been extremely helpful and often moved me to alter my position or even change my mind. Solving problems requires agreement on the facts of the matter. Differences of opinion about how to respond to those facts are legitimate and worth discussing. Manufactured facts shut down the process and eliminate any hope of a …

Jan 07, 2021
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Journaling

Journaling

Writing in my journal tops my list of retirement activities. I’ve kept a journal for more than four decades and counting. Over the years, my reasons for writing and the frequency of entries have often varied. If there’s any pattern, it’s that I write when I must. A pen an ink journal is the only option. Anything else is too easily edited as I write or later. Editing as I go wastes time. Lots. I can spend hours wordsmithing a first sentence. Beyond scratching out a word or two, ink prevents self- editing. I prefer bound journals with lined pages. Binding keeps me from ripping anything out. Lines save time too. Without them, I’d drive myself crazy trying to keep …

Jan 04, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Retirement Resolutions

As of January 1, I’m officially retired. Friends ask what I’m going to do. The short answer: Whatever the hell I want. Living my best life is the goal. Figuring out what that looks like is the challenge. Rarely leaving the house for most of 2020 was good practice, a learning experience, and a chance to think about life after work. Moving is unlikely. Athens is a great place to live. I love the historic vibe, the tight-knit community, and the mild climate. Unlike anywhere else, I know my way around enough to get where I need to go and have friends who are happy to drive when I can’t. Travel is doubtful. Vision issues prevent me from driving and …

Dec 31, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on After the Freeze

After the Freeze

Planting a vegetable garden is a risky venture. Experience helps, but luck always plays a role. A winter garden is especially tricky. Sub-freezing temperatures can be fatal. A two-day cold snap this past week had me holding my breath. When it comes to winter weather in Athens, anything is possible. My first year here, the temperature stayed below zero for several days. That’s rare. More often, the temperature will fall below freezing for maybe an hour or two early in the morning. Even before the freeze, the lettuce was iffy. I suspect the transplants had been in pots too long when I bought them. Except for some butter-crunch in pots, none of the lettuce survived the cold snap. Most of …

Dec 28, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Little Plant Factory

My Little Plant Factory

Toodles surprised me this year with everything I need for my own seed-starting operation. I’m guessing my sweet little dog thinks her thoughtful gift will keep me at home. She knows me so well. I’ve mostly avoided planting anything permanent. There are many reasons, but the biggest is a deep and abiding affection for annuals. I especially enjoy experimenting with new varieties and changing things up every year. I started off small enough for a few twelve-packs from the garden center to do the trick. My flower beds expand a bit every year and nearly doubled in the past few months. Relying less on garden centers and more on home-grown plants makes sense and (theoretically) saves money. Seed catalogs offer …

Dec 18, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Garden 4.3ish

Garden 4.3ish

My first garden (Garden 1.0) was on someone else’s property — a duplex with a fenced-in yard and a patio. I may have gone overboard a wee bit. Over the next few years, “a little color” along the patio morphed into a flowerbed that covered maybe half the yard. Garden 2.0 was literally an overnight success. The last load from the duplex was a pickup truck filled with shovels-full of plants I wanted. Good thing. The landlord mowed everything the very next day. I planted the truckload of blooming plants late that night. The neighbors were amazed next morning. Garden 2.0 was also my introduction to plant and seed catalogs. Not since the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalogs of my …

Dec 10, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Spot On with Spotify

The way buying and listening to music keeps changing has long pissed me off. I’ve gone through vinyl, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, compact discs, MP3s and a variety of music players and streaming apps. With the possible exception of the awful 8–track, each has pros and cons. Spotify, however, tops them all and keeps me decidedly less crotchety. Though many consider vinyl the gold standard, it ain’t perfect. My favorite albums had warps, skips, sticks and other flaws that messed with the sound. Listening to one or two specific songs was too much work. I’d stack three or four of my favorites on the turntable (hence all the damage) and would eventually end up liking the entire side. My album …

Dec 03, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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My Bubble-mate

This week marks nine months of working from home. The residents of my bubble (me and Toodles) elected not to celebrate the holidays. We talked about a party but decided to follow expert advice and avoid social gatherings. To be totally honest, Toodles was never a fan of the party idea. Crowds aren’t really her thing. For her, two is perfect and three is a potential riot. ANTIFA and Proud Boys are everywhere. Though we generally agree on politics, we do have our differences. I think she should go out the doggie door to our fenced-in backyard without me. She disagrees, and insists I’m stingy with the treats. No matter the fight, we never go to bed angry. Pandemic fatigue …

Nov 26, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

An early mentor was a big believer in the power of positive thinking. He’d thoroughly researched positivity, often spoke on the topic, and developed a program on the subject for the Kentucky extension service. His sage advice and practical suggestions for fostering a positive attitude have stayed with me and served me well over the years. The glass is both half empty and half full. How you see it is a choice. Focusing on the positive (what you have) instead of the negative (what’s missing) has all kinds of benefits. The silver lining may be hard to find, but it’s always there — somewhere. Sone find staying positive easier than others. I’m a natural. Long before learning about the gratitude …

Nov 15, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Winding Down

My thoughts about when to retire have changed many times over the years. Early on, saving for the golden years wasn’t a priority. Retiring before 75 or even 80 seemed unlikely. Saving enough seemed impossible — even after I finally started putting money into retirement accounts. For the longest time, quarterly statements confirmed I’d indeed be very old before I’d have enough to fund my retirement. Oh well. Better not enough than nothing at all. I kept contributing through several jobs, ending up with 15 to 20 aggressive-growth mutual funds. Statements from several brokers came at different times without attracting my attention. Then I sat down and added them all up. The grand total made me nervous. I couldn’t stop …

Oct 27, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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A Work in Progress

After downsizing in 2012, I decided to figure out what I wanted before doing much to the tiny yard. Changes since then have been obvious and mostly involve removing things to make mowing easier. The garden is still a work in progress, but what I want gets a little clearer every year. The rock edge on the lawn side of the dry streambed makes mowing and edging difficult. Keeping the Bermuda grass from growing between the rocks is impossible. Replacing the rocks with edgers solves the problem and will add several square feet of lawn. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how protected the backyard is. The picture above shows why. The six-foot privacy fence in the background sits atop a …

Oct 23, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Seven Months Later…

COVID-19 has been with us for seven months. Millions of lives have been forever changed. My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones, jobs, homes, or peace of mind. For me, the pandemic has so far been more inconvenience than hardship. I’m grateful, but take nothing for granted. I rarely leave home and always wear a mask when I do. I canceled my gym membership due to COVID. A bout of plantar fasciitis has forced me to suspend my daily runs. Sprucing up the yard has become my total body workout. I’ve removed big limbs, cut shrubs back hard, and moved tons of rocks, edgers, soil, sand and mulch. I’ve kept off the weight I lost and …

Oct 17, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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My First Last Lecture

Monday was the last day for my big class. Meeting twice a week cut the time in half for this one-credit course. Despite being the largest class I’ve ever taught and the first never to meet face-to-face, they are the most fun group of students I’ve ever had. I launch the Zoom fifteen minutes early with my camera off. A Spotify playlist of vintage R&B artists (Aretha, Roberta Flack, M People, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and others) fills the awkward pre-class silence. All my students were born after 2000 so it’s all new to them. Comments about the music fill the chat box before class starts. I stop the music, turn on my camera and wait for them to turn …

Oct 11, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Gardening is for Optimists

Gardening is for Optimists

An unseasonably cool fall prompted a flurry of activity in the garden. I’ve spent a small fortune on dirt, mulch, and plants and followed by hours of manual labor. Visions of a bountiful harvest and beds teeming with colorful flowers keep me going until the work is done. Telling myself the coming season will be the best yet is standard operating procedure. I’m usually right too. Weather can wreak havoc and varieties sometimes fail to meet my expectations, but more often than not, the garden exceeds my expectations. Weather is a perennial wildcard. Temperatures need to climb above freezing every day. I got lucky and experienced no serious cold snaps with my last winter garden. Anything is possible. We had …

Sep 29, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Winter Garden

My Winter Garden

Fall has arrived early in Athens. Summer heat typically persists through September and into October. Not this year. Aside from a few muggy days, September has been wet and unusually mild — perfect planting conditions for a fall/winter garden. High temperatures and dry conditions usually prevent me from planting anything before the middle of November. By then, garden centers have been picked over. Last wee, I popped by just in time for a shipment of fall veggies and picked up Romaine lettuce, Bibb lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower (which turned out to be cabbage). A six-week head start this time of year is huge. Shorter days slow growth as plants shift energy to developing roots. Bigger, more robust plants …

Sep 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Faking a Connection

Even with 45 students in one class, teaching twice a week has always been more or less all-consuming. This semester, I have four times as many students in two different courses. Time flies when you teach four days a week. I’m teaching from home via Zoom. A grad student sets it up so students see me on a big screen and I can see the classroom. Few if any students attend face-to-face classes. Most opt to attend via Zoom. I assume the rest watch the recordings. My goal is always to make every student feel like I know them. It’s an illusion created with individualized feedback on every assignment. Grading takes FOREVER with nearly 200 students, but I can’t do …

Sep 05, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Class without Exams

Two weeks into a most unusual fall semester, my classes are going surprisingly well. Bending over backwards to connect with students I’ll probably never see in person — all 180 of them — is paying off. They love me. Doing away with tests may be a factor. Students are great at memorizing things well enough to pass the test, but whether they actually learn anything is an open question. I’ve never liked tests and for my last semester before retirement, wanted to try something different. Assignments in my class are very applied. Most require students to further explore the concepts discussed in class through structured activities. This semester, I decided to increase the number of assignments from five to ten, …

Aug 27, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Sprinting for the Finish Line

It’s official. After more than thirty years in academia, I’m retiring at the end of the year. The paperwork was signed, sealed, and delivered earlier this month. Now I’m sprinting for the finish line. The original plan was to keep working for at least three more years. I agreed a while back to teach two classes a semester for two years starting this fall. For Fall 2022, I’d cut back to one class and decide if I wanted to keep teaching or retire. I told my boss as long as I was having fun, I’d stay. Lord knows I try, but planning never works for me. Time and time again, something blows any plans I’ve ever made out of the …

Aug 15, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Zingy Zinnias

Zingy Zinnias

My father grew lots of zinnias every year. Vases of the colorful blossoms filled the house all summer. Anyone he visited (or who visited him) received one of his arrangements, often in a coffee can covered with aluminum foil. Cut-and-Come-Again is a common nickname for zinnias. The plants sole purpose in life is to make seed. Cutting the flowers before they go to seed (also known as deadheading) makes the plant produce more flowers — typically two for every one you cut. My vase (above) is overly crowded after deadheading my garden. Because they’re plentiful in garden centers, the shrubby, heavy-blooming Profusion variety are typically the only zinnias in my garden. These (above) are orange. They also come in pink …

Aug 04, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Ten Pounds in Five Months

August 7th marks five months of staying at home. Beyond trips to the grocery, doctor appointments, and Zoom meetings, every day looks pretty much the same. Toodles has never been happier. The biggest change has been a dramatic decline in my activity level. I can’t go to the gym and haven’t been motivated to use my exercise app or the dumbbells I bought last year. On some level, it’s like, what’s the point? Nobody sees me anymore. 😉 On the other hand, I’m not ready to throw in the towel. Running has been my go-to activity for several years — a fact I never would have predicted even fifteen years ago. I hesitate to say I enjoy running, but I’m …

Aug 01, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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School Daze

When the fall semester begins in three weeks, I’m teaching two different classes. We’re planning for face-to-face instruction, but preparing to go online if necessary. Figuring out how to make things work either way has me dazed and confused. I’ve come a long way since March when UGA suspended classes for two weeks to enable faculty to switch to online teaching. I tweaked the syllabus and had class as scheduled via Zoom. Students didn’t enjoy 75-minute Zoom lectures any more than I did. A team of UGA experts put together a training for faculty about teaching online. I recently completed the course (mostly) and was impressed. The training was well done, very useful, and a great example of what teaching …

Jul 25, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Growing Conditions

Growing Conditions

Success in the garden involves numerous factors. Some you can control, some you can’t. Rain, wind, and sun exposure are beyond your control. Choosing the right plant for the growing conditions is the difference between failure and success. “Growing conditions” covers a lot of ground. Every plant has different needs related to light, moisture, temperature, and soil. The better the match between conditions and plant needs, the happier the plant will be. Some varieties are very exacting, but most will tolerate some variance. Knowing your USDA Hardiness Zone is the first step, especially for permanent plantings. Tea olives and camellias thrive here in my Georgia (Zone 7b) garden but can’t survive Kentucky (Zone 6) winters. Bluegrass, lilacs, and carnations won’t …

Jul 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Watering the Garden

It’s hot! Highs consistently into the 90s and triple-digit heat indexes are the new normal. The abundant rain we had earlier this summer has ceased. Watering has become an almost daily task. I’ve tried just about every type of watering device ever invented. By and large, the results have been disappointing. They’re flimsy, hard-to-control, wasteful, and/or otherwise less than satisfactory. A slow, steady rain over several hours is ideal. Short-lived summer showers mostly evaporate or run off. Longer showers enable the water to soak deeper into the root zone. The rule of thumb is an inch of water every week, depending on factors such as humidity, type of plant, and soil type — to name a few. Hand-watering with a …

Jul 14, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Cooking for One

Cooking for One

Single people have long-lamented the challenges of cooking for one. Family-size packaging is the norm. I ain’t gonna lie. A preference for anything but leftovers has meant a lot of perfectly good food ends up in the trash. Not anymore. Shortages, guilt, and a desire to minimize trips to the grocery have changed my wasteful ways. Watching chefs on Chopped deal with mystery baskets helped. As with the TV show, transforming the ingredients is the key to success. Thought my recipe ideas might inspire you as well. Chicken thighs work better than breasts or tenders for leftovers. I season with salt and pepper and bake (375 for 20-25 minute) the whole package (usually six pieces). I eat two with sides …

Jul 09, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden

This Week in the Garden

Last week was plenty hot with high temperatures into the 90s. As summers go here in the Deep South, this one, so far, has otherwise been relatively mild. I’ve had to water a bit in between nice, soaking rains. Maybe ten percent of the zinnias have bloomed. So far, flowers have mostly been various shades of pink. That should change in the weeks ahead. I planted mixed colors of five different varieties in the same area. I’m harvesting Midnight Snack cherry tomatoes. As you can see, they’re rather eye-catching. The flavor is decent — almost as good as a “real” tomato. In other tomato news, my Cherokee Purple tomato is, in fact, a Beefsteak. I’ll pay more attention next year. …

Jul 05, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Pandemic Shopping

Some consider shopping to be a fun and enjoyable activity. I’m not one of those people. In the best of circumstances, shopping pushes my crotchety button. Grocery shopping is the worst. Before COVID-19, I ordered everything but perishables online, mostly from Walmart. Convenience, selection, low prices and free shipping keep me coming back. Aside from shipping delays, I didn’t anticipate any problems. Wrong. Almost everything I usually order has been out of stock. Substitutes have been in short supply too. Damn. I checked out pickup and local delivery options. The next available appointments/delivery dates were weeks away. Availability is better now, but I’ll pass. Sooner or later, another person choosing my produce would surely piss me off. Masked and armed …

Jun 28, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Retirement Practice

Retirement Practice

A colleague has long been my retirement role model. Rather than quitting cold turkey, she transitioned out over three years. She dropped from full-time to 75% the first year, to half-time the next, and to 25% the year before she retired. She said easing in was good practice for life after work. Being home for nearly four months has been good practice too. I’m still full-time, but my work habits have changed. With no set schedule beyond Zoom meetings and doctor appointments, boundaries between work and personal time have blurred. Weekends and weekdays look pretty much the same. I’m up by 5 every morning and out like a light a good hour or two before midnight. Work happens in several …

Jun 24, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Mystery Tomato Identified

Mystery Tomato Identified

The wild and crazy Cherokee Purple tomato plant featured a couple of posts ago continues to grow much faster than my other tomatoes. The vines are twice as tall and extend beyond the top of the cage. The other three tomato plants don’t even come close. The giant plant is covered with clusters of fruit. Each little tomato is purple on top with a green bottom. Looks like I’m in for a bumper crop. I don’t recall ever seeing so many fruit on one plant. A visitor who works with local farmers thought the robust plant was a chocolate grape tomato. The name refers to the size and color of ripe fruit — not the flavor. I despise cherry tomatoes, …

Jun 22, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Social Anxiety

After more than fifteen weeks at home, leaving my little sanctuary makes me nervous. COVID-19 continues to spread like wild fire. Mixing with others hardly seems worth the risk. Trips to the garden center are my only nonessential outings. I wear a mask, stick to outside areas, and go early enough to avoid long checkout lines. Growing things makes me happy. A haircut isn’t worth the risk. My plan to let my beard and hair grow for a potential appearance on Queer Eye didn’t work. Trimming my beard is easy enough, but the thought of cutting my hair scared me. Previous attempts always required an emergency visit to the barbershop. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I finally used my …

Jun 19, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden

This Week in the Garden

Today is the last full day of spring. Thanks to mild weather and abundant rain, new arrivals to the garden are well-established and off to a good start. So far, so good. Eye-catching color combos fill the back border this year. Whether “eye-catching” is a good or bad thing depends on your point of view. Grouping varieties together for larger color blocks seems to make vibrant clashes work. Above, magenta Wave petunias, electric-orange sun-patiens, and several varieties of coleus are grouped together. The broad-leaved seedlings in the picture above are zinnias. I planted seed for those between the sun-patiens and coleus. The rest are volunteers from last year’s zinnias. Controlling color is next to impossible with annuals. The bottom-most New …

Jun 10, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden: Tomatoes

This Week in the Garden: Tomatoes

Real estate is limited in my little garden. Location is everything. Demand is high for a limited supply of desirable spots. It doesn’t happen often, but plants that fail to meet expectations get evicted. Plant selection reduces evictions. Different plants have specific needs and tolerances for temperature, water, light, and soil chemistry. Selecting an appropriate plant for the spot often involves some trial and error. Labels help, but don’t always include everything you need to know. Few things taste better than a vine-ripened home-grown tomato. Growing them has been a challenge for me here in Georgia. My mouth waters and my eyes tear up when I think about the grocery bags of surplus tomatoes I gave away every summer back …

Jun 06, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Working from Home

I’m a homebody. Even before COVID-19 restrictions, I rarely left the house other than for work, errands, or doctor appointments. Social distancing hasn’t changed my world all that much. Vision issues have limited my travel for years. The odometer in my 2015 VW has yet to hit 25,000 miles. Going to unfamiliar locations or anywhere at night means finding a ride. Toodles keeps me home too. I can’t see to check her sugar, so managing her diabetes is more art than science. Her behavior is my guide. Disrupting her routine is asking for trouble. Were I to leave her with anyone, I’d worry too much to enjoy the trip . My last overnight trip was more than two years ago. …

May 31, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden

This Week in the Garden

Staying home for the past few months has meant more time in the garden. Compared to previous years, I got off to a late start. Took a while to work up the nerve to hit garden centers. Fortunately, mild temperatures and plenty of rain extended the planting season. Planting in the root zone of a tree is asking for trouble, but the space begs for something. I tried a few things last year, and was stunned when they returned this spring. A mix of dianthus, petunias and impatiens are doing well so far. I cut several struggling boxwoods to the ground to make room for annuals until I make up my mind about permanent replacements. You can barely make out …

May 29, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Dumped!

Dumped!

My retina specialist told me to find another doctor. That’s right. I’ve been fired as a patient. In truth, she didn’t tell me — she had someone else do her dirty work. Whatever. My regular eye doctor referred me to the clinic more than ten years ago. The retina specialist for most of that time retired a few years ago. After a year on the job, his replacement left for greener pastures. I’ve been seeing the new replacement for the past year or so. My condition — Advanced Macular Degeneration — can’t be cured. Treatment involves eye injections of either Avastin, Lucentis, Eylea, or Beovu. I’m legally blind in my right eye — they stopped treating it in 2015. I …

May 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Stressed

Stressed

My eleventh straight week at home is wrapping up. The first week I took off from work. Then the coronavirus hit the scene. I’ve been home pretty much ever since. I’m lucky and grateful. I still have a job, a regular paycheck, and everything I need. There’s no homeschooling at my house nor any children to entertain. Nobody I know is sick, incarcerated, or in a nursing home. Despite my good fortune, I’m anxious, stressed and more than a little overwhelmed. The increasing divide between science and politics doesn’t help. Ignorance, misinformation, and stupidity make things worse. The federal government is in shambles. Institutions I’ve trusted and relied on my entire life are under attack. Watch dogs and whistle blowers …

May 19, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Technical Issues

Technical Issues

Technology surpassed my understanding years ago. I’ve been spoiled. At work, a tech support staff sets things up and fixes any problems. At home, Andy did the same thing. Since he died two years ago, I’ve been on my own for tech support — and it ain’t pretty. A box in my living room has been blinking for months. I believe it has something to do with my Wi-Fi. There is no on/off switch. Unplugging it overnight didn’t resolve the issue. Everything seems to work so I haven’t worried about it. The living room TV has three HDMI ports. Cable comes through one. A Roku device is connected to another. I have no idea how, but a slideshow of Andy’s …

May 08, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Impulsive Garden

My Impulsive Garden

I’m an impulse gardener. Browsing catalogs and garden centers for additions that catch my eye makes me happy. Planning doesn’t suit my style and never works for me anyway. Limiting myself to annuals simplifies things and gives me the chance to start over with new plants every year. Skipping fall planting to improve the soil left all my planting beds barren. The surprise reappearance in late January of two varieties (cyclamen and primula) prompted an outing in search of companions. I’d mostly filled up the flower bed they’re in before COVD-19 brought everything to a screeching halt. Undeterred by a little pandemic, I immediately went online in search of tomatoes, peppers, and bedding plants. Shipping veggie plants to Georgia is …

May 01, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Online Learning Experience

My Online Learning Experience

The semester I’ll never forget is just about over. Switching from the classroom to the Internet during a two-week hiatus after spring break was a daunting challenge. Except for maybe graduating seniors, students and faculty alike are happy to see the semester end. Teaching online isn’t all bad. I see the potential. How to make it work is the challenge — especially for crotchety old men like me. A greater command of technology would help. I can do what I need to do, barely. Call me incurious, but exploring the capabilities of devices, software, or apps never crosses my mind. The switch to online teaching forced my hand. I’d used our online interface to post lectures, collect assignments, record grades, …

Apr 26, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on What I’m Watching

What I’m Watching

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, when awake, my television is on pretty much all day. Mostly it’s on HGTV or Food Network for background noise. Serious television-watching is reserved for the evening hours. Netflix and cable are my only options. DVR is essential. Watching network TV without fast-forward is torture. Finding something to watch has never been a problem so I haven’t subscribed to additional streaming services. If you’ve run out of stuff to watch, here are several I enjoy. I was telling friends to watch Tiger King (Netflix) weeks before it hit the news. The title character is one-of-a-kind, but the entire cast is bonkers. Think crazy cat ladies with guns without regard to age, gender, or sexual preference. …

Apr 10, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Creeping Toward the Apex

Creeping Toward the Apex

I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost all track of time. Not the date, day, and hour — they’re readily available on various devices. Distinguishing one day from the next is the challenge. Since March 7, I’ve lived in my own little world. My car hasn’t left the garage more than six times. Toodles and I go for short walks two or three times a day, and I’m trying to run three miles three or four times a week. I’m not — twice a week is more like it — but I’m trying. Work keeps me busy. On top of additional demands related to the crisis, everything takes longer. Email exchanges over several hours or days have replaced the …

Apr 04, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Teaching to the Grid

Teaching to the Grid

The two-week suspension of instruction to enable faculty to transition to online teaching ended a week ago Friday. Students returned to class Monday. My first class was Tuesday. It didn’t go well. For starters, students couldn’t hear me. I have to lean in close to see anything on my laptop. Students watched a closeup of my forehead as I frantically scrambled through settings trying to figure out what the hell was wrong. Students tried to help without success. One day, I’ll laugh about it. Ended up dialing in. Had to use my phone to talk and my laptop for everything else. Didn’t help that my first online lecture was new to me from slides used by a guest speaker last …

Mar 27, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Three Down, so Far

Three Down, so Far

I just wrapped up my third straight week at home. So far, so good. How much longer sheltering in place and social distancing will be the norm is anyone’s guess, but I don’t expect to return to business as usual any time soon. For the foreseeable future, staying at home is my new normal. The first week I took off for Spring Break. With my teaching schedule, opportunities to use vacation days are few and far between. After a crazy busy start to the semester, I was ready for some R & R. Other than doctor appointments on two days, my only plans were to get some sun, resume my long-suspended exercise routine, and spruce up the yard for spring. …

Mar 22, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on The Best of a Bad Situation

The Best of a Bad Situation

The global corona virus pandemic is the most frightening situation I’ve ever experienced. The virus could but isn’t likely to kill me, but with no one to care for me should I fall ill, avoiding possible contagion is my top priority. Consequently, I’m homebound for the foreseeable future. Were I to get sick, friends would take care of me. Tony and Jesse have looked after me for years and rescued me too many times to count. They’ve drug me along to lots of events since Andy died which has expanded my circle of local friends. I’m grateful, and owe it to them and others who’d help me to minimize my risk of exposure. Staying in the moment is my second …

Mar 18, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Coronagedden

Long before corona arrived, Pandemic, a documentary series on Netflix, scared me so much I quit watching. According to the experts, a pandemic outbreak at some point is inevitable. Now we’re living it. Bad as the Covid19 outbreak is, we got off lucky. Some who get it will die, but the novel corona virus isn’t nearly as lethal as Ebola, HIV (untreated), or smallpox. Many who’ve tested positive have no symptoms at all. I’m not trying to minimize the threat — just saying things could be a lot worse. I took off work starting 3/7 for Spring Break, before things got real. Other than outings early in my stay-cation, I’ve been sheltering in place ever since. Classes were suspended for …

Jan 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Back to WW-ork

The Weight Watchers app is back on my phone. I lost nearly fifty pounds on the program more than ten years ago and have been thinking about giving it another go. Television ads about the new WW piqued my interest. An attractive sale sealed the deal. I haven’t exercised for months and eat way too much junk. The only running I do is to the grocery when I’m out of cranberry juice, orange juice, ice cream, roasted almonds, whipped cream, or chocolate-covered raisins. Gotta have my healthy snacks. Signing up for WW reactivated my old account. Everything from the first go-around was there. Much to my surprise, I weigh EXACTLY the same as I did in 2011. Customizing the diet …

Dec 10, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Green Thumb

My Green Thumb

A knack for growing things is in my blood. The gift comes from Dad’s side of the family. I used to think growing plants successfully was a skill anyone could learn. Experience has taught me that’s not the case. Plant killers are everywhere. Nobody sets out to kill potted plants. Victims tend to be gifts. Plant killers mean well, but know ending up with them is a death sentence for the plant. Eventually, they stop wasting time and money trying. At times, my collection has gotten out of hand. Keeping that from happening has been a priority since I moved seven years ago. All but three reside on my kitchen table. The Christmas Cacti and anthurium (I have two of …

Dec 04, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Teaching Evaluations

Teaching Evaluations

Classes end this week. Finals are next week. Another semester is drawing to a close. How did I do? I’m optimistic, but the summary of my teaching evaluations won’t be available for a few more weeks. Figuring out what to teach, the order of the topics, and how much time to devote to each took two semesters. Aside from a few tweaks here and there, that’s all settled. My goal for this semester — my third teaching the same class — was to be more interactive. Ages ago a couple of county extension agents got real with me about the shortcomings of the programs I developed. They explained the need to add activities, games, and videos to make programs easier …

Nov 11, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Granny

Granny

Dad’s mother — Granny to me — is the only grandparent I had the chance to know. She was an amazing woman — practically perfect as grandmothers go. I adored her. Granny was born in 1902 on a farm Hustonville, KY — a tiny town in Lincoln County just south of Stanford. She quit school in the eighth grade. As the oldest of ten kids, she was needed too much at home. She stayed on the family farm into her twenties. At 24, she married Arthur Rupured (1891-1964) who worked on a dairy farm near Lexington. From all reports, he never went to school at all and couldn’t read or write. He had two kids of his own when they …

Oct 16, 2019
By Michael Rupured

Countdown to Retirement

An udate and a surprising turn of event with….

Sep 25, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Hitting My Stride

Hitting My Stride

I’ve devoted more than half of my life to developing consumer education resources and providing training to teachers, county extension agents, and community educators. I do the occasional presentation for the pubic, but my audience is primarily professional educators. Or was. Last year, I agreed to teach a one-credit overview of Family and Consumer Sciences for freshmen and transfer students. Reagan was in the Whitehouse when I last taught in the classroom. In truth, very little teaching was involved. Mostly I arranged for guest speakers from across the college. After that experience, my department head asked if I could teach a 3-credit basic consumer course. I said I would, but only if I could keep teaching it. Putting a class …

Sep 16, 2019
By Michael Rupured

A Long, Hot Summer

Most years I complain about summer being too short. Not this year. Instead of June 21, my summer started when classes ended in early May. Though only psychological — I didn’t take off any more than usual — the difference was very much appreciated. Long, hot summers are the norm in Athens. Highs have bee mostly in the 90s. Fortunately, we avoided triple digits this year — so far. Record-breaking highs in the past week have come close. Rain has been in short supply too. I quit watering months ago. Survivors include zinnias, Gerber daisies and an astounding variety of weeds. Now is the time to start planting my winter garden, but first it needs to cool down quite a …

Aug 14, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Third Time is the Charm

Third Time is the Charm

School starts back at UGA today. My class meets for the first time tomorrow. Having taught the same course twice before, I’m ready. My first time teaching the class was a hot mess. My biggest mistake was to follow the textbook, chapter and verse. Some of the content I hadn’t seen since my own college days. Creating tests was a challenge too — questions that looked straightforward to me were confusing to students. Lessons were learned. Things went much better the second time. I devoted an extra class session for some topics, combined others into one session, and added a few new topics. Test questions were less confusing too. Student evaluations of my teaching were very positive. My biggest shortcoming …

Aug 08, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My New Fitness Regimen

My New Fitness Regimen

Sharing about backsliding on my diet and exercise program a few weeks ago prompted me to act. Changing up my exercise program was easier than dealing with my diet, so I started there. Baby steps, right? Some who read my Backsliding post suggested a personal trainer. Being accountable to someone helps, for sure. Direction about what to do on my own would be helpful too. Finding a good trainer, however, is a challenge. My experience with trainers available from the gym has been mixed. One of four I’ve worked with was great and worth the cost. Knowing the quality ahead of time is nearly impossible. As changing trainers requires an act of Congress, I’ll pass. It’s 2019. There’s an app …

Aug 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Climate Change & My Garden

Climate Change & My Garden

More than thirty days with little rain and highs above 90 degrees have taken a toll on my little garden. After much deliberation, debate, and a water bill three times the usual amount, I decided to withhold life support. Since pulling the plug, we’ve had some rain — not much, but enough to keep things alive a little longer. How long remains to be seen. Hot, dry conditions will likely persist into October. Keeping my summer garden alive is not a new struggle. Heat, drought, and an abundance of deer have long conspired against me. Though I grow tomatoes every year, ripe fruit are nearly as rare as snow in summer. By comparison, my first winter garden was a nearly …

Jul 16, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Backsliding

Backsliding

Eleven years ago, I got a wake up call about my health. The message: change my habits or die. I joined Weight Watchers, started exercising, and vowed to change my lifestyle. I counted WW points, hired a personal trainer, and started running. In time, I managed to lose nearly fifty pounds — enough to drop from “obese” to “overweight” on the Body Mass Index scale. My doctor took me off several medications. I felt great and had never been in better shape. Proper nutrition was the first casualty. Snacks between meals and before I go to bed are the problem. My ice cream addiction is serious. Donuts continue to be a problem, and don’t get me started on baked goods …

Jul 03, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on LGBTQ History: Missing Pieces?

LGBTQ History: Missing Pieces?

June 2019 was the best LGBTQ Pride Month ever. The level of media coverage was unprecedented, and several excellent shows were aired. All in all, I was blown away and thrilled for our history to be so widely shared. Coming out in 1979 sparked a life-long interest in gay history. I realized while doing the research for No Good Deed and Happy Independence Day that the history I’d gleaned from magazines, books, and the grapevine was more than a little incomplete. Documentaries aired during Pride Month filled in even more blanks. The Lavender Scare (PBS) is an excellent overview of gay history in the United States. Homosexuals have been around forever, but didn’t emerge as a social group until early …

Jun 27, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Staycationing

Staycationing

I’m fortunate to have a job with paid sick leave and vacation days. We can accumulate unlimited sick leave, but vacation time has to be used within a given period. Some coworkers lose days every year. Not me. Forfeiting paid days off is against my religion. Nobody does my job when I’m out, so long breaks often make me sorry I took off. Using vacation days throughout the year around weekends and holidays works better. Teaching duties limited my ability to take off as much as usual, resulting in vacation days I need to use. Campus is practically deserted this time of year. The last week of June and the first week of July are a good time to take …

Jun 20, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on The Birth of Gay Liberation

The Birth of Gay Liberation

In 1969, a group of New York’s most disenfranchised citizens fought with police during a late June raid of the Stonewall Inn. John Lindsay was mayor and running for reelection. The raid was part of his campaign to clean up the city. State regulations in New York prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages to homosexuals. Any establishment that did was deemed a disorderly house and lost its liquor license. Gay establishments all over New York had stopped serving alcohol or closed. On paper, the Stonewall Inn was a private bottle club. In practice, it was a sleazy bar, owned and operated by the Mafia. Watered-down drinks were expensive and, due to a lack of running water behind the bar, the …

Jun 05, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on No More Garage Sales

No More Garage Sales

Late last year, I set a goal to have a garage sale in April or May — before it got too hot. Setting the goal lit a fire under my butt to finish organizing closets, cabinets, and drawers, but the garage sale ain’t happening. In fact, I may never have another garage sale again. I do a mean garage sale. Lots of signs and ads attract a big crowd. It’s not about getting the best price or what things are worth. The value to me is zero or it wouldn’t be there. Getting rid of stuff is the objective. Any proceeds are icing on the cake. “Keep, sell, donate or toss” was my mantra as I slowly worked my way …

May 30, 2019
By Michael Rupured

Time on My Hands

Teaching has kept me busy since before Andy passed last year. I’ve grieved plenty, but drowning in sorrow wasn’t an option. Between teaching, my regular day job duties, and taking care of myself and Toodles, I’ve had too much to do. I’m grateful, and not just for the distraction. Teaching a basic consumer course, while all-consuming, is incredibly gratifying. Many students say the class should be required. I bring my own flavor, of course, but the feedback is the same, no matter who the instructor is. No more working nights and weekends to stay on top of my class. School’s out until the middle of August. Having taught the class twice, I’m mostly ready — far more so than the …

May 17, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Summer Vacation

Every year I complain about summer coming to an end too quickly. Teaching highlighted the cause of my angst. Relying on the solstice was the problem. Summer starts when the spring semester ends. Before I started teaching, my involvement with students has been limited to the occasional guest lecture. Whether classes were in session or not, my job was the same. Other than days the university closed for business, the academic calendar had no impact on my life. Preparing to teach a real class for the first time since graduate school more than thirty years ago kept me busy last summer. After classes started, teaching my one little class was like running a marathon. The pace was grueling. Toward the …

Apr 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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My Journalig Habit

Journaling satisfies my compulsion to write and keeps me sane. The first of 24 volumes dates back to 1979. It’s not exhaustive — I’ve sometimes gone weeks and even months without adding a word. Since Andy died, I’ve been writing at least two or three times a week. I’m not trying to document my life for posterity. Leaving behind a record for whoever might be interested is not the point. In fact, finding a way to make every volume vanish when I die (Mission Impossible style) tops my bucket list. Over the years, preferences have evolved into idiosyncracies. The journals themselves have to be the right size. Lined pages are required. The last ten or so volumes had black leather …

Mar 25, 2019
By Michael Rupured

I Love Annual Flowers

Fear of commitment has kept me from planting anything permanent in my garden. I have too many favorites and too little space. Before this year’s winter garden, nothing planted in the past seven years was suppoed to survive a hard freeze. Sticking to tender plants means starting over every year. Mostly. Some selections turned out to be hardier than expected. A few varieties return from seed every year too. Everything else is a carefully selected impulse purhcases from nearby garden centers made over several months early in the season. This time of year, I pop in every few days in search of new additions. Stock at popular garden centers turns over fast. I picked up some gorgeous red cyclamens a …

Mar 18, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on A Sad Anniversary

A Sad Anniversary

Hard to believe a year has passed since we lost Andy. My ex, the best friend I ever had, and the love of my life died a year ago today. Adjusting to a world without him has been quite a challenge. To know Andy was to love him. He was kind, generous, thoughtful, and always considerate of others. The students, faculty, and staff he worked with in our college adored him. Being the partner of such a nice guy boosted my image around the college. He was the center of my universe for seventeen years (18 now). Since his death, I’ve thought and thought about our time together — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Could I have done …

Mar 11, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Countdown to Retirement

Last week I celebrated my 61st birthday. Had to call 9-1-1 after my house filled up with smoke. Birthday candles were not involved. Somehow, I accidnetally closed thechimney flue when adding another log to the fire. Fortunately, the only damage was the lingering smell of smoke. Next year, retirement becomes an option. Barely. I’ll be 62 — old enough to collect Social Security. The longer I work, of course, the bigger that check will be. Social Security won’t be my only source of income. I’ll also get a small pension from a former employer. Most of my retirement income, however, will come from tax-deferred accounts. As long as I keep working, me and my employer will continue to contribute to …

Mar 04, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Spam-tastic?

Cooking for one without dying of boredom is a challenge. I get tired of fixing the same old stuff — a universal problem for anyone who cooks much. I’m always on the lookout for new things to try. Last week, I picked up a can of Spam. Not just any Spam, mind you. This was pepper Spam. Fancy. A dim memory of fried Spam on white bread slathered with mayo sparked my decision to drop Pepper Spam into my cart. I mentioned the purchase to mother, who retched a bit and then declared she’d hated Span since childhood. No way she ever fixed it for us. I must be thinking of the fried bologna sandwiches she fixed from time to …

Feb 19, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Winter Garden Update

Mild weather has been the norm in Athens this winter. My garden experiment has turned out better than expected. We’ve had a few cold spells with below-freezing temperatures, but the polar vortex stayed well north of here. The coldest weather is behind us. Lows two or three degrees below freezing won’t hurt anything I planted. Locating the garden between a heat-retaining dry-streambed and the shelter of an eight-foot privacy fence offered aditional protection. I was prepared for colder temps, but never had to cover things up. A winter harvest was unlikely. Cool season crops need to be in the ground in August or September when it’s too hot here for the plants to survive. Planting before late October is a …

Feb 18, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Accidental Orchids

About this time last year, I decided to reclaim my kitchen table, home to the orchid collection I’ve nurtured since 2012. None of my orchids showed any sign of blooming. Some haven’t bloomed for years. Several didn’t look very healthy, and a couple appeared to have crossed to the other side. I wanted to throw the entire collection in the trash. They’d lived longer and bloomed more than I ever expected. Time to move on. I couldn’t do it. Except for a couple too far gone to rescue, I put them outside under a magnolia tree and more or less forgot about them. Thanks to the wettest summer on record here in Athens and contrary to my expectations, they survived. …

Feb 12, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Teaching: Take Two

Teaching the consumer class again is a different exprience. A much better understanding of the purpose of the course and the shortcomings of the textbook led me to make quite a few changes. Students this semester are getting a new and improved version of the course. The class is smaller this semester. Instead of 48 students, I only have 26. Fewer students makes a huge difference. With four assignments, four exams, and a final, grading takes about 90 minutes per student over the course of the semester. Last semester, I devoted a full lecture to every chapter in the text and covered every term and concept. Focusing on the most important stuff this year has cut so much content in …

Feb 04, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Worth Watching?

I’ve been recording my favorite television shows to watch on my schedule for a long time. The ability to fastforward through commercials and boring parts of reality shows made DVR a much better option than OnDemand. Then I got Netflix. No commercials or waiting a week to find out what happens next. I still DVR a few favorites (mostly reality shows), but increasingly, my favorites are on Netflix. Because of all the options, finding things to watch on Netflix can be a challenge. I watch whatever catches my eye on the “home” screen and shows I’ve heard about elsehwere. I’m especially keen on documentaries, biographies, and historical fiction. Here’s a sampling of my favorites. Grace and Frankie. Lifelong frenemies and …

Jan 21, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Forced Procrastination

Procrastination has never been my thing. Waiting until the last minute freaks me out. Being on time or early is a lot less stressful. I’ve been behind since a three-week bout with the flu last January. Losing Andy in March put me furher behind. Doing things at the last minute is my new normal. Most evenings and the biggest part of my weekends for the past year have been devoted to work. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get caught up. Every time I get close, something else falls on my plate. A three-week break over the holidays was my time to catch up and work ahead. That didn’t happen. For three glorious weeks, “I’ll work on it …

Jan 07, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Winter Garden Update

Winter Garden Update

Last fall, the weather folks forecast a milder-than-average winter for North Georgia. Compared to Kentucky where I grew up, even tbe worst winters here in Athens are mild. I decided to take my chances on a winter garden. The results, so far, have exceeded my expectations. In previous years, I planted pansies and violas in the fall and nothing else until February or later. Emboldened by the forecast, I set out collards, cauliflower, and broccoli plants. I also sewed seed for turnips and peas. I like turnips, and they are easy to grow. Fresh peas are vastly superior to canned or frozen. Snapdragons are another experiment in my winter garden. Snapdragons, petnuias and diantus and other half-hardy annuals can surive …

Jan 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Down Time

Time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day is standard operating procedure at the day job. I add vacation days to either end to extend the break as long as possible. This year, I took off three full weeks. I brought home a ton of work. January is crazy busy. Class starts the 9th, a billion reports are due the 15th, and I have a big presention on the 20th. Thinking about all I need to do makes me anxious — and there’s no end in sight. I didn’t leave the house the first few days except to walk Toodles, get the mail, or take out the trash. The work stuff could wait. Netflix required my full attention. After several …

Dec 31, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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A New Holiday Tradition

I had no plans for Christmas this year. Vision issues and my diabetic puppy make travel difficult. Dinner with Andy has been the extent of my holiday celebrations for more than a decade. This year would be different. I decided to cook rib roast for my Christmas dinner. It’s not the kind of thing one cooks for a solo meal. I called my great friends T & J and invited them to dinner on whatever day best suited them and was pleasanlty suprised when they suggested Christmas Day. The table I never use in my eat-in kitchen theoretically seats six. It’s barely visible beneath potted plants, piles of stuff for class, and visual reminders of things I need to do. …