Tuesday, February 10
by Sue on Tue 10 Feb 2009 08:26 PM EST
Press release from the American Family Association regarding an upcoming episode of their series "Speechless: Silencing the Christians." Apparently, this is the week to take on the homos.
It will air on Channel 40, WPCB also known as Cornerstone Television. I checked their schedule and here it is. The whole "Christians are being silenced" perspective is utterly ridiculous and part of this false pitting of gay rights against freedom of religion. Ridiculous. Christians are not being silenced to any further degree than any other American citizen.
I say the best response is for all you Christian identifying homosexuals out there to follow the call of Reverend Janet Edwards and reclaim your churches.
I wonder if I count as a militant gay activist? Cause that would make my day.
by Sue on Tue 10 Feb 2009 08:39 AM EST
Yesterday, we placed Buttercup at the Humane Society which is vigilant in finding suitable homes for Pit Bulls so we rested easy knowing Buttercup is in the best possible place for her. I also spoke with a woman on the phone who told me she is a foster home for Pit Bulls with the Humane Society and might end up fostering her if no owner turns up.
So, today, I ask you to help out the Western PA Humane Society by clicking on the link below to vote for Elsie, their ambassadorial pit bull. If Elsie wins the most votes, the WPHS will win $5,000 toward their pit bull rescue work. That's a very simple two minute request. Voting is open until February 28.
If the Michael Vicks story outrages you, please vote. If local stories of dog fighting outrage you, please vote. If you took the time to read my post yesterday about Buttercup and this one, too, please vote. If you love dogs, please vote. If you don't love dogs, but believe that all animals deserve to be treated with decency and compassion, please vote.
by Sue on Tue 10 Feb 2009 08:19 AM EST
Sadly, Dr. William I. Cohen has passed away. He was not an acquaintance of mine, but I do note his many accomplishments:
Dr. Cohen was also an openly gay man, serving on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. I bring this to your attention to acknowledge how tastefully the Post-Gazette incorporated this aspect of his life while focusing on the many, many medical and personal accomplishments of a man who appears to have been devoted to his patients and their families.
While I do question some of the PG's recent "let's be relevant" decisions, including recruiting pep to quasi-blog for free while laying off unionized employees who also seem to be able to write and the atrocious article about the County Ordinance hearing, I must continue to recognize that they do a pretty good job on a day to day basis "covering" gay news. Dr. Cohen's death is a tragedy for his family, which was acknowledged to include his long time partner, but certainly for his patients and their families as well.
Including the whole of his identity among his accomplishments is a perfect illustration of two things. First, there are plenty of accomplished persons who are LGBT and not necessarily headline grabbers because of that fact (he was a physician who happened to be gay). Second and perhaps more nuanced ... being out in your workplace can be one of the most brave and powerful ways toward true equality. Certainly. Dr. Cohen was buffered by his class, gender and his professional accomplishments, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily easy to be an openly gay individual within the worlds of UPMC and Pitt. We cannot begin to know the lives he touched and educated about gay issues simply by being authentic.
There are hundreds of Dr. Cohen's around Pittsburgh and, for that, we should all be grateful.
Rest in peace, Dr. Cohen. And thank you.
Monday, February 9
by Sue on Mon 09 Feb 2009 08:45 AM EST
Wow. My respect for animal rescue people just went through the roof and I'm still feeling pretty lousy. Last night, we found a dog running along a street on the Northside. She jumped right into the car and has proven to be a real sweetie. She's very very unhappy at being left in a crate in our basement, but we cannot introduce her to our other dogs. We were happy to feed her and so forth, but then ???
Believe me I tried. I posted her on telephone.org which is the universal lost/found service for all the local shelters. I called all of the shelters only to discover that they don't open on Mondays until 11 AM! I tried to contact rescue groups. Eventually, we crated her in the basement overnight and she was relatively calm.
This morning is a different story altogether. She refuses to eat and she's hysterical in the crate. I had to put her bodily into it and now she's flipping out. Plus, I have this thing called work. Ledcat is going to stay home until I can home from my meeting to run her up to the Humane Society at lunch. I tried to call everyone this morning at 8:30 when they open, but just more voice mail.
You know what's sad? That if you find a dog after 5 PM on Sunday evening, there is literally no one to help you until 11 AM on Monday. I get that the shelters do the best they can with the resources they have, but what are you supposed to do? Leave her roaming the streets seems to be the only option. Even Animal Control closes up shop at 5 PM and doesn't open until 7 AM. I hate to call them this morning because she's a sweet dog and could either be someone's pet or find a home.
The sad thing is that no matter how hard they try, a cadre of volunteer individuals cannot make up for the damage society inflicts on the world when they don't take care of their pets and public services that don't fund these services adequately. We'll figure something out this morning, but it does make me realize that the next time I see a dog running on the street and it isn't during the daytime, I might be better off letting it keep running which I know is ridiculous. What a horrible position. For the poor dogs of the world running down the street looking for help.
God Bless the rescues who at least try to help.
Sunday, February 8
by Sue on Sun 08 Feb 2009 08:38 AM EST
"This is the shop that our neighborhoods rebuilt," says Kerry Kennedy, proprietor of K.S. Kennedy, Distinctive Floral, Gift and Gourmet which recently reopened in a new storefront just a few doors down from his former location on Western Avenue. The former location was destroyed by a New Year's Eve fire which also consumed Kerry's live in apartment and damaged adjacent businesses, including the Modern Cafe. While no one was injured in the fire, including Kerry's devoted four-footed companion Lucy, all three business suffered tremendous losses. The Modern Care has not decided whether to reopen yet.
Kerry's original store had become a destination shop for many throughout the Northside neighborhoods who appreciated the delightful accents he added, including the always freshly brewed coffee and a line of Swiss truffles available nowhere else in Pittsburgh. He also carries a line of LGBT oriented cards, the 10% line, which he chuckles about as he shares stories of matronly grandmothers picking out cards for their gay grandsons and nephews. Unlike traditional florists, he drew a tremendous amount of walk-in business, unusual considering he was the only retail establishment along Western Avenue, a corridor of the Northside which has been under scrutiny for revitalization efforts and home to several restaurants, bars and several abandoned storefronts.
Kerry chose the location because he wanted to one of the first ones in to what he perceived as a future boom area for Northside business. He stayed because of the people.
The night of New Years Eve, according to fire investigators, faulty wiring caused some sort of electrical arc "Act of God" which sent the first floor of the floral store up in flames. Kerry and his companions escaped into the night, leaving even his wallet behind to be consumed by the fire. He acknowledges that for a split second he contemplated running away as he watched fireman battle the flames. Kerry stayed with friends in Swissvale the night of the fire. He came back the following morning, New Years Day, and found Ed owner of the nearby Parador Inn standing in front of the storefront. Ed said "Please allow me to do this for you" and offered him the ballroom for a workspace and use of the room above for his residence.
Knowing he had a wedding and a funeral that weekend, he rolled up his sleeves and took over the Parador ballroom. People literally were knocking down the ballroom doors with donations of clothing, vases and other items all of which reminded him that the Northside is his home. People helped rebuild the business because they valued his store and the beauty he tried to bring to the community.
The outpouring of community support literally moves Kerry to moments of near tears and occasional speechlessness, which for those who know him, is not a frequent occurrence. One friend, an antique store owner from Tennessee, drove three days through winter storms hauling a ten foot trailer laden with furnishings for his new store. She spent one night in the parking lot of a Waffle House and the next in motel room with no electricity service. Kerry proudly points out the items she brought to him.
His card distributor loaded up his trunk with sample stock and gave the whole supply to Kerry which enabled him to triple his card display when he reopened. Card business has been so brisk that the distributor has been back weekly to keep the stock replenished.
When a neighboring tenant decided to close their business, the landlord immediately approached Kerry about reopening and he didn't hesitate. The outpouring of love and support from his community reaffirmed his original vision of a vibrant, dynamic Western Avenue and he fully plans to be part of that revitalization. Kerry has also relocated his personal residence to a carriage house on Brightonn Road, another gracious offer from a longtime customer. He reports that he and Lucy are adjusting well to their new abodes, even though he has had to take Lucy to sniff the former store several times to help her realize they no longer live there.
There was a benefit at the Allegheny Universalist-Unitarian church organized by long-time customers, Suzanne and Tom Roberts. Kerry was touched that they did the performance because they personally valued the shop. Kerry took a rose to everyone who attended. The pastor and his partner are also frequent customers. This was a powerful moment for him as Kerry had left a little Greek decorative column at the church from a previous event and they dug it out to bring to him during the concert as a symbol that rebuilding was going to happen. It was something whole and beautiful left from the shop.
A florist from Florida sent him a box of florist supplies such as wire and other things. His high school class sent him a laptop via Fedex and put a substantial donation directly into his bank account. They've kept in touch over the years and have been like his family. He attributes the generosity to karma because anytime a class member has lost someone, he always took care of the flowers.
He was working in the Parador ballroom and people were literally banging at the doors with boxes of vases and donations of clothing (better than his original clothing, he chuckles, mentioning a lovely cashmere scarf someone passed along). He thinks that people seeing him getting right back to work gave them faith in the ongoing revitalization of their neighborhood.
"I've learned the absolute joy of saying 'thank you'" he speaks. "This experience has taught me how to accept things with grace and dignity" He learned that his way to pay people back was to reopen and that people in the community needed him to reopen to fill the hole in their lives when the store was lost.
In an interesting analogy, Kerry acknowledges that most people don't get to see how much people care about them in their lifetime - like seeing their own wake. People repeatedly ask him about his faithful companion, Lucy. While we talk, the mail carrier comes in and goes right to the treat jar to share a moment with Lucy. She also noticed the red bustier vases on display in the counter that I think would be a great gift for Ledcat. Ssshhh.
Fast forward six weeks. The new store is open for business. The space is about 1/3 larger than his original store, but the workroom in back is substantially larger. He still lacks a cooler for the flowers, but acknowledges that he managed for six months without one in his original space and still got corporate business. For now, the back room is plenty cool and he just ushers customers back to select their own fresh flowers. He also compensates by making more frequent trips to pick up fresh flowers during the week. He has been able to make some nice changes like adding a small seating area which allows for folks to visit a bit more comfortably, but also gives some privacy for families who want to look through his books as they make decisions for momentous occasions. He is restocking his "signature" gift items, including the Swiss truffle chocolates he is expecting this week.
Kerry hasn't been able to return to the shop or his apartment to reclaim most of his personal items. The fireman helped him recover a few items. His apartment is salvageable, but he's waiting permission from the owners to go in and sort through. The source of the fire has been determined electrical arc fire due to an "Act of God" that probably began with a deteriorating wire.
He hopes the owners of the property, also the owners of the Modern Cafe, will permit him to return to his apartment to sift through the literal ashes and claim whatever remnants of his life are possible to retrieve. Having lost all of his family members save his sister, Kerry wistfully notes that even a fragment of a memory is better than nothing.
The Northside Leadership Conference has collected set up a fire relief fund for all three business owners. Kerry hasn't yet tapped into it this funding. He feels a sense of obligation to spend the donations wisely. He is looking around for a cooler and would love someone to call him if they know of a gently used cooler available for purchase. When discussing the fund, Kerry pointedly mentions the other neighborhood fire which destroyed an apartment building in Deutschtown, displacing 13 people including children. His heart breaks for the children and he made his own contribution to that relief fund (see link above).
The best thing people can do to help at this point is to support the businesses. Order flowers. Get your hair done. Support the Modern Cafe deli. Kerry is back at full capacity to accept flower orders.
Kerry notes that business is going reasonably well in spite of the recession. In the flower business, people are buying bouquets instead of a dozen roses, but flower occasions (funerals, weddings, birthdays) continue along so the demand remains consistent, if on a more modest budget. He believes that florists should not compete with $9.95 bouquets from grocery store and box chain stores, but instead remain associated with the big occasions that mark passages in life such as weddings, anniversaries and funerals. He also knows from experience that people walking buy will see the "beauty" and stop in to pick up some flowers.
One "cool thing" he gained from this experience is the realization that he can recycle vases so that's a way to also contribute to his ongoing commitment to go green. K.S. Kennedy has a long-time practice of offering fair trade flowers including roses. He's now got a "bring in your vase for a refill" policy and is contemplating a special Earth Day project. Along with neighbors, Allegheny General Hospital donated dozens of vases, an effort spearheaded by the sister of the owner of the Parador Inn who is a hospital employee.
Kerry refuses to sit and dwell on what was lost, but focuses instead on what he gained from this experience.
Kerry has lost most of his family members so he is a true believer in telling people you love them everyday, not just on special occasions or most especially when they've passed. He feels very lucky knowing that he's made a difference in people's lives.
After asking about himself and Lucy, Kerry chuckles that most people asked about the Cowher chair. Kerry is a big fan of Bill Cowher. He was upset when Cowher retired and signed up for the family's house auction. Kerry got his desk chair which he affectionately dubs "the Cowher chair" and it represents so much to him. He even appreciated the dog hair that came with it! He also acquired a pair of his sun glasses. It became a local destination. Folks came in and get their picture taken sitting in it. Kerry took it upstairs two weeks before the fire and thus it avoided the fate of his shop. When he returned to his apartment and saw the sunglasses and the chair still relatively intact it was like a phoenix had risen and what was important to him survived.
The one thing he learned is to have renter's insurance for his residence and contents insurance for his store so he won't face the same devastation if it ever happened. He also realizes that he'll probably always fear another fire, but cannot let that fear interfere with life.
Kerry is reluctant to identify any needs he has at this point. So perhaps the gift we can give him at this point is to say thank you to him for being part of the heart of the Northside community. He feels like people have invested in the \new store, that it is bigger than K.S. Kennedy's individual business but now the Northside's floral shop.
I'll take the grand leap of suggesting how the community can continue to support Kerry:
- Assist him with getting access to his apartment so he can retrieve his personal belongings. They have meaning to him regardless of their condition and it is somewhat cruel to keep him out when he is persevering in rebuilding his business.
- Find the man a cooler. Ask around. Check out Craig's List.
- Join Kerry's new Facebook Page
- Think flowers when you need a little something to take for a hostess gift or some such small need. Every $10 or $20 you spend is $10 or $20 toward keeping this heartful business firmly nestled in the Northside.
- Keep paying it forward. Kerry emphatically believes that he should continue to repay his supporters by paying it forward. He especially urges people to donate to the Deutschtown relief fund.
Friday, February 6
by Sue on Fri 06 Feb 2009 01:18 PM EST
Thanks to Gary Van Horn from the Delta Foundation for passing these along. I was disappointed that County Council staff did not return my phone calls to get a copy myself. more »
by Sue on Fri 06 Feb 2009 06:15 AM EST
It is 5:25 AM and I am still stick. I spent yesterday pretty much in bed which I rarely do. Last night, I tossed and turned with the whole "I'm cold/I'm hot" thing and body aches. I took some Tylenol, but now I'm awake at 5:25 AM (actually I was awake at 5:00 AM) with the whole "I'm cold/I'm hot" thing and body aches. My tossing and turning was keeping everyone, notably Ledcat, awake and causing much stirring amongst the critters. Since the second bedroom has accumulated at least 3 loads of laundry to be folded (I did briefly consider flopping down on the pile but opted against further annoying Ledcat), I dragged myself downstairs to curl up on the couch with the night stalker aka Coco. On the bright side, I did enjoy my first meal in 36 hours -- saltines and gatorade. Yummy. With a Tylenol chaser.
I have a training to attend today and, ridiculously, I'm still debating attending. Clearly, I'm sick. It is 64 degrees in the house and I'm not the least bit cold at this particular moment. My body feels like I just ran into a wall. Do I actually think I will avoid infecting other people AND still absorb something from this training? I'm blogging at 5:32 AM so rational thought probably isn't an indicator of anything for me. I'm just going to keep typing until I get tired enough to maybe get a few hours of continuous sleep or should that read a few continuous hours of sleep? My point is still made.
I was going to read my much overdue library book about Descartes but it is too heavy for me to hold upright without shaking. Also not a good sign, huh? I wish I had a Linda Fairstein novel to read. Descartes is a bit much. I hate being sick with nothing light to read. I may have to pilfer some issues of Rolling Stone from Ledcat.
What I hate more than being sick is when people come to work sick. I mean a cold in one thing, but people who look like death warmed over a few times and then some should stay home. I'm very fortunate to have worked at places with generous sick time. I remember having PT jobs upon which I depended for rent money and not having a choice about taking a sick day. I really appreciate my job right now.
On the bright side, my new poster from Ms. Magazine apparently arrived yesterday. When I renewed, they sent me a poster featuring Barack Obama wearing a "This is what a feminist looks like" tee shirt. That's kind of awesome. Another bright side is that Ledcat did a "sick" grocery shopping so I'm stocked up on crackers, Gatorade and chicken noodle soup. She's very good about doing that and always gets just the right things for me. I really appreciate my Ledcat right now. I hear no stirring of little toe nails so apparently the dogs settled down and she's drifted back to sleep. Another bright note is that we have two movies from NetFlix so my inability to go out and do anything will be softened by watching "Margot Getting Married." I really appreciate NetFlix right now.
Maybe I should toss in some gay stuff now, aside from the normal household stuff of two women coping with illness, laundry and dogs in need of nail trimming while living in a homosexual relationship. You know, life lived in sin.
Read Pam's take on the newest incarnation of the Office of Faith Based Programs. As we have been arguing here in Allegheny County, religious groups will be free to continue discriminating against gays under the guise of their religious freedoms. Should they be funded to do so? Hmmm. How does a queer teen experiencing homelessness feel about "praying away his gay" before he gets a bowl of soup and the right to take a weekly shower? Even this sick woman sees that we must have ENDA in place to tackle the unjust fallout of religious discrimination. There's nothing wrong with a faith based soup kitchen, it just shouldn't receive governmental funding if it uses those tax dollars to cause harm to vulnerable people. Cause harm on your own dollars.
OK, I think I'm ready to sleep. I can feel that the room is chilly which is a good sign. So here's hoping for some sleep and another delicious meal of crackers sometime soon. Have a great day, kids.
Thursday, February 5
by Sue on Thu 05 Feb 2009 08:15 AM EST
Barb Feige, Deputy Director of Pittsburgh's ACLU, wrote in to affirm that the proposed anti-discrimination legislation will not interfere with anyone's religious liberty.
It is an interesting vantage to defend both Fred Phelps and the County Ordinance, but one that offers us some light through the jungle of protest growing up around this ordinance. My hope is that people of faith will take the ACLU at its word, but I continue to also hope that other people of faith will step up in support of the ordinance.
Wednesday, February 4
by Sue on Wed 04 Feb 2009 10:10 PM EST
An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin
February 7, 2009 at the Benedum Center
Performance at 8:00 PM
Followed by a Meet and Greet reception benefiting the GLCC
If the names: Edith Ann, Madame Lupe, Judith Beasley or Trudy make you think of Lily Tomlin and you would enjoy a night of Classic Lily Tomlin, followed by a meet and greet after the show, you are in luck!
One of America's foremost comediennes, Lily Tomlin brings an extraordinary, award-winning career that spans Broadway, film and television to Pittsburgh. "An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin" is a nostalgic presentation of more than a dozen of her famous characters including Edith Ann, the precocious five-and-a-half-year-old, Trudy, the New York City bag woman who plays host to visiting aliens, Ernestine the telephone operator, and Lucile the rubber addict. It will be a night of sidesplitting comedy, woven in with Lily's affectionate reminiscences of her Midwest childhood.
Ticket orders for this event must be received by February 5th, 2009
To purchase tickets: $90.00
PLEASE NOTE: If you already purchased a ticket for Lily from the Cultural Trust and would like to attend the Meet and Greet fundraiser, you can add on the event through the GLCC for an additional $23.00. See above for ordering options.
All Tickets for the Meet and Greet will be held at the Will Call office at the Benedum Center