Saturday, March 24, 2007

 
I've been extremely proud to be a Massachusetts resident for a very long while. Despite politics that are truly bizarre and a Political Correctness that can go over the top into idiocy at times, Massachusetts at heart is extremely decent, highly inclusive and appreciative of diversity.

New Hampshire, on the other hand, didn't seem so welcoming, even when Fritz explained to me that "Live Free or Die", the state's motto, means that people are free to live as they wish without hassle, at least theoretically. But there may not be any legal acceptance and, indeed, in the wake of gay marriage being legalized in Massachusetts, New Hampshire fell over itself to pass a law specifically banning the recognition of any other state's same-sex marriages.

The explanation at the time was that the state feared an influx of gay couples of retirement age who would settle in New Hampshire because of the legendary tax-friendliness of the state, and overwhelm the state's health care providers while not providing anything to the economy. I must admit that I never saw the logic in all that. The argument presupposes that all married gays are close to retirement age, have no alternative but to head directly north, and won't do things like build houses, buy things, or pay New Hampshire's confiscatory property taxes, the state's dirty little secret that manages to trump a lot of the savings from no sales tax and no state income tax.

But, this week just past, on the same day that South Carolina officially ratified a voter-sanctioned amendment to its Constitution banning gay marriage, the New Hampshire House of Representatives Judiciary Committee endorsed the creation of civil unions for same-sex couples in a bipartisan vote of 15 to 5.

"I am very pleased that we have taken this step," said one of the bill's sponsors, Democratic Rep. Marlene DeChane, a lesbian.

A vote by the full House is expected next week, then the measure also must pass the Senate, where Republican Bob Clegg has proposed legislation for "contractual cohabitation" giving unmarried adults the same legal rights as married couples. New Hampshire may now be falling into step with the rest of the Northeast.

*******

Here's the latest on the new house: we met with M who had just gotten the drawings back from the structural engineer. He's now free to do all the working construction drawings. We had a meeting yesterday morning to go over many more details; heaven, they say, is in those details and that's really how the character of the place will be determined.

M is finding us pretty easy to work with. As he put it, we "don't dither" over things. For one thing, Fritz and I have a pretty strong sense of our own identities and tastes. For another, there's no sense of a struggle for control of the look of the house--our aesthetic senses are pretty close, and I include M in that, which is one of the main reasons we chose him to work for us on the project. In other words, we give good client.

We started with the window contract, a huge chunk of a house desiring passive solar gain and beautiful views of the hillside and the woods. We had three possible suppliers of either double- or triple-glazed windows, each with differing details, costs, hardware considerations, etc. We disposed of that in about 20 minutes and passed on to items like interior doors (we're planning on touring architectural salvage companies and getting antique doors), door hardware, and the color/texture of the slab on which the house will rest and that becomes our interior floor.

You can do it two ways: pigment mixed into the concrete--and there is a nice variety of colors for that—-or a wash of acid stain that's mopped onto the finished, set concrete and pulled into the surface about a quarter of an inch deep by the acid's interaction with lime in the concrete. Technically, you're living on a giant fresco. The advantages of the latter are that the stainer can achieve a variety of patterns and textures, the end result looking like art stone—-alabaster or marble or simply a variety of mottled, sponged effects. With pigment mixed in you get nice color but a flat, uniform and frankly pretty dull floor. With the stain, the floor has a depth and richness that are striking. We chose that in a heartbeat.

After the meeting was over, we went on a bit of a wild goose chase to find a Verizon office and discovered that Verizon has dropped everything in New Hampshire but cellular phones. The rest of the business—-internet, cable TV and phone was sold off and I now have to contact what the Verizon guy called simply "the land line company". We need to do it pretty quickly as the road up to the house is going to be vanished (graded and graveled) in two or three weeks and part of the job is to dig the conduit trench which will pass UNDER that road at some point. The cable and Public Service of New Hampshire pieces of the pie have to be coordinated as soon as possible.

Blessedly, next week is Spring Break at MIT and I'll have a chance to spend more time than usual in New Hampshire tending to all this—Fritz and I hit the salvage places on Monday. I've been to the one in Exeter with him before and it's a treasure house—-the antique hardware section alone is dazzling.

As to my house in Roslindale, it's a gorgeous day, another set of ads has been placed in the papers and still nobody has come to see the place since the original open house two weeks ago. My realtor and I can understand last weekend's lack of buyers since the weather was dire, but today is an ideal house shopping day. He told me that January was very busy but February almost dead and that perhaps things haven't quite rebounded yet. He's going to hang out around the open houses tomorrow and try to find out what's going on. Tomorrow, Fritz and I will be back in NH, lumberjacking in the afternoon and hosting a crowd of guys for the Sweat Lodge and pot luck in the evening.

*******

Speaking of a wild goose chase, one of the endearing things about living and working in the Boston/Cambridge area is the geese. We have the brown and black wild migratory Canadian Geese, of course, whose numbers are growing all the time. They've completely taken over Harvard's playing fields by the hundreds. Not coincidentally, those fields have some of the lushest, most brilliantly green grass I've ever seen on football fields, but I'm not so sure I'd want to be tackled and slammed down into that which makes those fields so beautiful.

At the MIT end of the Charles River, we have the permanent resident flock of white geese, so famous they even have their own blog http://charlesriverwhitegeeseblog.blogspot.com/, preservation society http://www.friendsofthewhitegeese.org/index.html, and photographer groupies http://www.historicpages.com/geese/wg.htm. They're seen here in a little hollow in the riverbank nestled up against at he Cambridge end of the Boston University Bridge. They go here to preen their feathers and spread out from here to paddle upstream to various of their usual haunts, or to venture off the riverbank and cross Memorial Drive to graze or explore.

Coming home from MIT last night, I was delayed a while at the rotary on the Cambridge end of the B.U. Bridge as a large contingent of the flock crossed from under the overpass embankment, where there's grass to eat, to the riverbank. Geese are not to be rushed, their amiable waddle is a stately tread. One driver got impatient and began to edge forward, to be greeted by two of the males with a hissing, spread wing warning. He decided he'd just wait with all the other stopped cars. Although it's a pain to be stopped while they're crossing if you're in a hurry, it's both encouraging and wonderful to see that in this frenetic society, nature can still bring a city to a halt.

Comments:
You know, Oregon has proposed two different pieces of legislation this session that would create a civil unions bill. One or the other is sure to pass with our Democratic senate, house, and governor. All of this in spite of the fact that we voted in Measure 36 (one man, one woman) several years ago. Ick.
I love the acid washed concrete....really, a lot!
 
Love the flooring. They look beautiful. It's so true about the real estate taxes in New Hampshire.

The geese and ducks look like fun, but preferably in small doses.
 
geese look silly but they can be nasty; they also make frightful messes.
 
I love the floor! Where I work, they did the same type of acid wash on our breakroom floors. It's very unique and cool looking process. It looks like your guy's Gay Paradise is coming together splendidly.
 
We are still fighting for full marriage in Connecticut (we have civil unions here). Today, I get to attend an open forum at the capitol to listen to why we need full marriage. That would be fine, but everyone gets to speak (which is good), but some of the things they will say about us is simply awful.

It takes a lot to sit there and not jump out of my chair and tell them what I think...

But, it's progress I suppose that the talk is happening.

Oh... and the geese are awesome. I have a liking for geese. Wonder what that means? I should discuss that with my therapist. :)
 
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