• 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

Sep 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured

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

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

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

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

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

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
Comments Off on Countdown to Retirement

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
Comments Off on Winter Garden Update

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
Comments Off on Forced Procrastination

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
Comments Off on Down Time

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
Comments Off on A New Holiday Tradition

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. …