Macrander Late Thanksgiving Poem

It's that time of year when plump, ready turkeys start to disappear, When the Macrander family near and far,

Start gassing up the commuter car.

For Emily, Thanksgiving day was held in Sugar Land,

Though why Aggie always gets the first invite, I don't quite understand.

Aggie at the Underwood Thanksgiving.

Aggie followed around cooks and sat in the sun all day long,

Because the bond between her and Kaitlyn's cat was never strong.

Sarah flew from Denver to be with the rest of the clan,

And told the family about her new boyfriend, Steve, not Stan.

Sarah and Todd by Todd and Nick's apartment.

In Baton Rouge, Todd and Nick were kind enough to host the whole group,

Though in such close quarters, Dad struggled to find a private place to...stoop.

We always cherish the moment we get to watch Dad cook,

Because we know these secrets are found in no book.


After Thanksgiving, Jarrod and Emily did arrive,

But only to hop in the car and head to New Orleans - another drive.

On the hunt for a restroom, we went into the mall,

And found a tree to take our Christmas photo by, oh so tall.

Merry Christmas from Nick, Todd, Sarah, Emily and Jarrod.

As with custom with every trip,

Each Macrander goes to Todd to get a clip.

Todd cuts Jarrod's hair.

After several days of family fun,

And starting to feel like we each weighed a ton,

We gathered around the apartment stairwell,

While Todd ran to apply some last minute hair gel,

And took this lovely family photo.

Macrander family looking spiff.

Fresh Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad Recipe (That doesn't suck!)

Ah, 'tis the season for food that you really don't want to eat. Right!? The old 'if it's not shaped like can then it's not really cranberry' adage? Because of this, I'd pretty much given up on cranberry sauce (crap-berry, anyone?). So, I was more than thrilled when J's grandma served us this salad last week. It's a-maz-ing. Like eat it with a spoon for leftovers good. Fresh Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad Recipe (That doesn't suck!)


2 cups of each (ground fresh cranberries, sugar, ground pecans, crushed pineapple)

2 packs cranberry (or strawberry) Jell-O


Grind cranberries, pour sugar over and set overnight.  Add the pecans, pineapple to the Jell-O and add cranberries.  Place in fridge until ready to use.  I use the juice of the pineapple for some of the liquid to make Jell-O.

J and I passed out after a football game

Grandma's Thanksgiving Roasted Bacon Mushroom Green Beans

Happy holidays, Macrander family! It's here finally. Last night, J and I went over to his grandmother's house for Thanksgiving-Christmas dinner with his out-of-town aunt. She's going to be with her partner for the holidays and they will not be traveling so we had to celebrate early. Here's the standout dish from last night. Grandma's Thanksgiving Roasted Bacon Mushroom Green Beans

Grandma's Thanksgiving Roasted Bacon Mushroom Green Beans

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Heat oven: 375 F


2 lbs. fresh green beans

2 tbsp. EVOO

2 tbsp. all purpose seasoning

6 slices (or more) thick-cut bacon

1/3 cup sliced shallots

2 tbsp. (or more) garlic

12 oz. fresh mushrooms

1 cup low sodium chicken broth


1. Trim and wash the green beans. Toss with EVOO and seasoning.

2. Roast beans in the oven for 10 minutes.

3. Dice and cook bacon in deep skillet (iron skillets make magic). When bacon begins to brown, add shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Stir fry until bacon is brown. (You might want to drain out the bacon fat at this point, or what the hell, YOLO, leave it in.)

4. Add roasted beans to the mix and add 1 cup broth. Cover pan and cook on medium for 10 minutes.

Mexico Unlimited

October 22nd marked the departure of Todd and myself from Baton Rouge to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on our very first international trip together. Our flight into Puerto Vallarta most definitely had either a drunk pilot or a super rookie in the cockpit the evidence was in the multiple attempts at landing. IMG_2070

October 23rd was our first full day and we found the tigers and parrots. We also went boogie boarding until we burned from both sun and board. That night we planned a dinner with all 16 family members that were present for 8pm. While the family was getting that together I shook Todd off my tail and ordered wine and roses to be sent to the room for 10pm. Quickly after that I gathered my cousins and asked that they take the ring and our camera to the gazebo on the pier and wait for me to bring Todd. At 7:30pm sharp the sun was setting and I had Todd in hand as we marched down the rocky jetty stopping to stare at every creature along the way, but we finally arrived in the Gazebo where I knelt to one knee and asked for Todd's hand. As quickly as I did that Todd snatched the ring from my grasp and thrust a ring toward me with a big smile and a YES!


October 24th was my quarter century birthday, which was spent with my new fiancé. We had four new arrivals bringing our group number to 20 people.

October 25th we were approached by my father to help in his proposal. Everyone in the group was given a card that told his soon to be fiancé, Tina Kelley, one thing he loved about her. My fiancé and I were the first card where Todd was the photographer and I was the navigator to get Tina around the resort to all the people and cards she was supposed to receive. The last person Tina saw was my father surrounded by everyone in the group with a rose in the sand and a ring in the hand.


October 27th Our entire crew of 20 piled into a little boat and headed across the bay to downtown Puerta Vallarta. On our arrival we noted that bathrooms cost 5 pesos to get into and everything was "almost free" according to the merchants. We also noted that everything for sale everywhere looked oddly similar to every other stands' merchandise even though each claimed to have hand made everything.


October 29th: Twelve of the bravest in our bunch headed out to the renowned Hidden Beach. We sorta snorkeled around for a bit until we hunted down and mercilessly ravaged by jellyfish. After a brief recovery onboard the vessel dubbed the "Mexican Titanic" by the crew, we jumped back into the water and were guided through a treacherous rocky water filled tunnel which served as the passageway to the beach. After we enjoyed our time on the beach the rising tide forced us out. For our return voyage we were given tequila and cervesa and watched the crew force passengers to striptease each other for entertainment...I should have filmed it.


Halloween: Ten of the best dressed including my adorable Peter pan went to Puerto Vallarta in search of a righteous good time. We managed to find ourselves in an overpriced club with table service which we then were escorted out of for our debauchery. After a few clubs/bars later we survived the night with only one casualty.


November 1st: We went on our last little excursion with a boat ride around the area in search of crocodiles. We found every shape, size, and color of iguanas in trees and rich peoples yard everywhere as if they are the Mexican squirrel. Pelicans flew overhead alongside blue footed boobies and we did run across a few crocodiles. More importantly many hours after our tour completed we went on a night beach walk. On this walk Todd stepped on a little fresh baby turtle and amidst that discovery we noticed several dozen baby turtles were covering the beach. We quickly gathered every one of them we could find and brought them all to the safety of the sea.


November 2nd we returned home completely satiated and ready to get back to normal life.


Cause for celebration

Something big happened yesterday and I will take a few moments from my busy schedule to recognize it. On the surface, it was a small thing. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear cases in which several lower Federal courts had found that States' laws banning same sex marriage (SSM) were unconstitutional. Ok, so they declined to hear these cases, so what? That means that the Supreme Court looked at those cases and determined that there were no issues there that were unresolved. In short, SSM is now legal in all of those states that were trying to get their laws banning it upheld AND in other states that are covered by the Appellate courts that had made these rulings. Another way of saying this is that the Supreme Court essentially said that the issue is not worth their time. BOOM! It might have been more satisfying, had the Court decided to hear the cases and officially rule on the issue, but In one decision, they determined that there is no merit upon which to challenge SSM. Suddenly the number of states where SSM is legal changed from 11 to 30. I am sure that some of these states will attempt new banning legislation and, essentially fight a stop gap war. There are also states that still have banning laws that have not been challenged, but the war of attrition has begun.

Not only are more states now in the legal marriage category, but, since the states included are many of the more populace states, we can say that a majority of the same sex couples in the country can now legally marry.

So, why, aside from just being a general live and let live as long as it doesn't hurt anybody liberal, is this cause for celebration enough for me to set my lunch chilli aside to write? I will admit to a personal journey. Like many, my view of gltb was that it was, at least, aberant, if not quite abhorent. From there, my kids and their friends showed me the path to tolerance and the joys of being the gltb "friendly" house for a bunch of high schoolers. From there, it was still a journey accompanied by some kicking and screaming to get to the full embracement that is now our lives. Somehow, the tolerant attitude was not quite as easy when the gay person in your midst is your son (sorry for that Todd).

The difficulty of this journey was, in part, a sadness that a parent feels for their child when they see a future that is not what we had hoped. As a white, male, intelligent (somewhat), affluent, middle of the road adult, I have limited experience (ok I'm short) with being reviled or legally limited for what I am. But to look down the road for my son and think that he would always be unjustly hated or dismissed by a segment of the population and would be denied certain basic rights, like choosing and forming a life long recognized commitment with someone that you love, was a sadness that was difficult to bear. I came to realize, though, that of the many ways that our children may face challenges, being gay was certainly not even close to being the worst.

In part, that is because the world is changing. I believe that, in the past, gltb people had limited choices. They could deny their sexuality and live a life devoid of sexuality or that special love that has a sexual basis. Despite the views of the catholic church, I am not convinced that this is a great option, or one that actually and truthfully works. They could deny their true sexuality and try to live a straight life. After nearly 30 years I am haunted by a memory of witnessing a man in a volvo with a child seat in the back engaging in a surreptitious hook up in a city park. How sad. They could admit their sexuality and live a life of closeted relationships, one nighters, and living on the wild side. OK, so maybe that doesn't sound that different from other youthful lifestyles, but we are programmed to pair to be happy. We also know that the wild side is not a healthy place to live for long.

So, now our sons and daughters and friends and neighbors are a bit less reviled for who they are. Gradually, they are gaining the right to openly seek and find someone to fall in love with, marry, and share a long and healthy life together (or not). When I look at all three of my kids, that is one of my greatest hopes.

And, do you know what? The world has not ended. The streets are still safe from gltb people chasing down and having their way with unwitting heterosexuals. The walls of our churches and governmental buildings are still in tact. In fact, I would say that the moral fiber of our country has been improved. The path to love has been made a bit less bumpy and a bit more feasible. Love, isn't that always a good thing? And, I am exuberant.

Actually, Love Actually

A few weeks ago mom & I were watching HGTV as usual. She nodded off leaving me with an uninteresting Flip or Flop and the controller in my hand. I surfed the guide and found that Love Actually was just starting. Quietly, sneakily, guiltily I switched the channel and settled in to enjoy one of my favorite repeat viewing movies. About 15 minutes in, mom woke up, looked blearily at the TV, and said, “Really, Love Actually.” She got up and headed upstairs for her bath. As she left, I thought, “Yes actually, Love Actually.” So why does LA rank up there with Forrest Gump and That Thing You Do as movies that I will sit and watch no many how many times I have seen it. There are a bunch of reasons and a host of levels. Woody Allen ended his biggest movie, Annie Hall, with a musing around a joke. A man went to a psychiatrist and said doc, my brother thinks he’s a chicken. The psychiatrist says, why don’t you have him committed. The guy says, well we need the eggs. Woody then says that is how he feels about relationships, they are crazy and make no sense, but, when you come to it, we all need the eggs.

Through its many stories and ensemble cast LA asks and answers the question that love, actually…is everywhere. The crime author is cuckholded by his brother and becomes the reviled Uncle Jamie, but finds unexpected love with a housekeeper that he cannot communicate with. A young man is desperately in love with the newlywed wife of his best friend and copes by acting unfriendly toward her until she figures him out. A married couple who live a quiet life (but wait the wife is the sister of the prime minister), are challenged by the attentions of an attractive and predatory young employee. The bumbling husband falls prey. The young boy, who has lost his mother, experiences the perils of first love. Perhaps most poignant of all is the story of the woman who is hot for a co-worker but eventually comes to terms with the fact that she is committed to her troubled and institutionalized brother and finds the love there that matters most. The stories range from vacuous (Colin finding sexy babes in the US) to the sad (the despair of the married woman discovering that the expensive jewelry was for someone else) but love prevails. The only character that does not find love in the end is the evil secretary and we are just fine with that. Oh yeah, and the fat Portuguese sister.

For dad and the Macrander kids LA has become our own family Rocky Horror during which we can act out parts and join in the fun on the screen, zipping our sweaters and yelling, “I hate Uncle Jamie.” We know that Kira Knightley’s character has terrible taste in pies, that the video needs a bit of editing (thumb and finger held a bit apart), and that the Prime Minister’s bodyguard has an incredible singing voice. London, where we spent part of our one and only European vacation, is a co-star of the movie. We have walked across the pedestrian bridge and cruised along the Thames. So, there is family fun to be had when watching together, or remembered when watching solo.

Most of the acting is puffy mail in, but there are a few gems. When Kira finally figures out that the photographer actually loves her, the slow turn of her expression is masterful. The performance of the young singer, tears the house down. Some of these can only be appreciated through repeated viewing when you know what is coming and can watch it unfold.

So, maybe this makes me a sappy girlie man, or a sad idealist seeking reaffirmation. But, it is hard for the romantics among us to watch LA and not be warmed by the victory of love…..actually.

Broken KitchenAid Mixer Correspondence with Dad (posted by Emily)

From: Dad Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11:15 AM To: Emily Subject: RE: I made butter...

Don’t cry over churned milk.  Back in the day, every small town and neighborhood had a small appliance repair guy.   These were frequently wounded vets or odd little guys who didn’t really fit in to the larger society but had an affinity for tinkering, boundless patience, and nothing better to do.  Their lairs were often dark basements or tattered store fronts but were always cluttered by partially deconstructed appliances, magnifying lenses, assorted screws, and electronics.  The places were scary and intriguing at the same time.   Though these people could not have made much money, they were valued and respected within the community for their apparent wizardry.

Perhaps there is a message here.  These days, when things (or people) break they are cast aside partly because there is no on there to fix them but partly because we quickly give up, and partly because it is simply easier to throw it away and get something new.


From: Emily Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 5:42 AM To: Dad Subject: RE: I made butter...

Thanks, Dad, for this really thoughtful response. I read it to my officemate and she said that you are a “true poet.”


From: Dad Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11:15 AM To: Emily Subject: RE: I made butter...

I should have probably made this a comment on the blog, but that would require logging in and I still find that clunky.

Do you have your KitchenAid fixed?  You know me, I would probably just keep it unplugged and work with it that way for years.  I guess that is why I can’t have a sailboat.

Two years ago, my snowblower (which we bought 2nd hand when we got here) broke.  I tinkered with it and tried to fix it myself, but, worried that I would only break it more.  I tried looking up small engine repair places and found that the only ones that were around were only open during very restrictive parts of the week.  So, through the winter of the most snow on record, I shoveled that crap, while the snowblower sat in the warm garage.   Finally, at the end of the winter I discovered a little place that was open and, at least said, that they could fix it.  The first thing I had to do was work out a way to get the thing to their shop.  I tried to fit it into the back of the big Volvo.  That was me trying to lift this huge awkward thing and fit it into our new car without scratching anything, all the while mom standing by making unwelcome comments.

A near hernia later I decided to go rent a pickup from U-Haul.  You know how I hate borrowing things from other people and I refused to borrow someone’s truck and U-Haul advertises trucks for $19 a day.   Of course taxes and charges etc. added up to about $30 but, at least, I wasn’t borrowing something.

When I arrived at the repair shop, it was as I had expected.  The outside front and back was littered with row upon row of pieces and parts of lawnmowers, snow blowers, and other unidentifiable small engine devices.   I tentatively stepped through the door into a dark and cluttered Quonset hut and was confronted by a group of about six  guys with a mixture of what do you want and who the heck are you expressions on their face.  I felt a bit like I had interrupted something important.    After a couple of beats, one of the more amiable guys stepped to the counter and asked, “what can we do for you.”  The room seemed to relax and what ensued was a hilarious group dialogue of the “your momma” variety with all of these guys cutting on one another and even, gratefully, including me in their joshing.

Eventually, the form got filled out in spite of the laughing.  A guy was dispatched to go into the parking lot to help me unload the snowblower, which he did by basically reaching into the truck and lifting this 175 lb. piece of equipment out with one hand.  As I drove away I wondered if I would ever see my snowblower again.

In just two weeks I got a call that it was fixed.  I asked if they could deliver it, to save me the trouble of renting another pickup.  They said that they would have someone deliver it for an extra $25, which was a bit of a gouge, but well worth it.   Of course last year was one of the lowest snow years on record, but the snowblower worked better than ever.  The one thing I missed by having them deliver it was that opportunity to step into that other world where men are happy to hang out in one another’s company, where skills with things mechanical are held in high regard, where appearances are less importance than reality, where a well told joke or well played prank is valued, and where camaraderie is easy and natural.

Everything is Awesome (Weekend Update)

Good Tuesday, family! J and I were about town (though finally stayed in town) this past week.

The start of the week was odd as I missed Monday because of my trip to Atlanta for Mary's wedding. I have an assistant that just started working on my project and her first day was Monday...oops.

Well, her second day was just as strange because instead of going to the office, we went to The Galleria for the company's Users Group. It a big annual conference that we hold each year for our customers. It started with, like, 14 attendees and has grown large enough to fill a ballroom. That's pretty cool. Employees were invited top attend the keynote.

Wednesday at the office, we invited our customers to tour the office. Mom, Dad and J have had the pleasure, so they know that it's a real treat. Everyone loves the ping pong room. Also, this meant during-working-hours-drinking. That's pretty cool. Because of my winning personality, I was chosen as an elevator greeter. My coworker Josh captured this picture of me in action.

Wednesday evening, J and I went to Papasitos with Jason, Emily and some other friends for two-for-one fajita night. Since we had a big party, we were placed in a room with other big parties...which were birthday parties. So we heard the Papasitos birthday song several times. Do to copyright issues and it being a Spanish restaurant, it's not the real birthday song. Not even close.

Friday, I went to CVS Pharmacy to pick up some drugs. While there, I also picked up some nail polish. So, because I'm strange and not patient, I started painting my nails while in line. It started by painting my thumb then went from there. I finished one hand in the pharmacy line, then had wait in another line to buy some stamps. So, I started on the other hand.

There was this kind older woman that was my cashier and she needed to take a swig on her Arizona Tea, so I had time to paint. Anyway, with fresh and wet nails, I could really maneuver the checkout process. So my kind checkout lady took my card out of my wallet, put my stamps into my bag, helped me sign my receipt and then put the $20 I took out into my wallet. All the while, she was kind and said she "understood" that sometimes a girl just needs to "pretty up."

Sunday was church as usual in the morning. Though this week the band was all new. That was pretty cool. Since J has been back, he's had the opportunity to play quite a bit, but this week he chose to sit it out.

We finished out Sunday with a trip to Little Woodrow's in Rice Village to watch the USA World Cup Game. Here's a picture from a happier moment before that final goal.

That time J and I almost killed each other in Zac Brown rodeo traffic

This year I made it to three shows at the Houston rodeo: Eli Young Band, Florida Georgia Line and then last night, Zac Brown Band.

I’m pretty sure I did more rodeo this year than I have done in my life. I learned an important lesson, too. People do “rodeo” differently. We’re always growing in our relationships, right? Learning to be better, more supportive (not submissive) people.

Well, you see, J likes to do ALL of the rodeo. I thought that meant getting there 15 minutes before the show started in time to see the Mutton Bustin’ event and then you see the show you really came to see, right? Wrong.

Apparently, some people (Jarrod) grew up with the “total rodeo experience.” What is that? Well, that means you see the entire rodeo including every buck and barrel race. But thats not it. You get there before the rodeo to “walk the grounds.” Apparently there is a livestock show and a stadium full of vendors. Think of it as the Nutcracker Market but more rhinestones and redneck. Wait. Just kidding. Nutcracker Market is both of those things. It’s just like Nutcracker Market but smaller and perhaps more cowboy hats.

Because J and I have “jobs” the last two time we went to the rodeo… It’s also worth mentioning here that J got a fantastic deal through his work on tickets. We’re not suddenly lushes who spend all out money on entertainment.

Back to the what I was saying, though. The last two times we went were on week nights. That meant that were unable to do the “total rodeo experience” and that J was totally unhappy. Both times we missed a few events and were unable to even set foot in the Rodeo Nutcracker Market. Let alone see the livestock show which is apparently also a thing people get really excited about.

So anyway, yesterday we set out early. And this time we prepared. After church we went back to J’s home and I took a nap so that I would be fully rested for the “total rodeo experience.” I even ate a wholesome meal (grabbed a peanut butter brownie on my way out the door). Fast forward. Rodeo show. J getting his nickers in a twist because we had neighbors that were not observing no talking or moving while performance is happening. The show, a day show, was out by 8 p.m.

The day before J and I had argued because I wanted to go home early Sunday and “get some stuff done at my place” (watch Parenthood on my DVR). So J was gloating at this point that as predicted the show let out before 9 p.m. and we were on our way home. Or so we thought.

Now to understand the frustration in the following scenario you must understand a few things. Number one, J has a handicap parking tag and always has, so he’s used to premium parking and not waiting very long. Number two, J doesn’t do the best with waiting. Number three, it had been raining all day long so we were wet and cranky. Number four, I’d been an irritable grouch all weekend, so on the walk back I’m sure I picked an argument about something. I honestly can’t remember or I would share.

We got into the car ready to go home and get ready for the upcoming week. We got into the car and, ugh oh, traffic was slammed to a halt. I mean no one was moving anywhere.

At this point we were both grumpy and tired and totally over hanging out with one another. Have you ever, EVER, been ticked off at someone in a CAR? THERE IS NO WHERE TO GO. Not to mention the ever-present traffic is irritating.

So we sat there in the car, both squished to our respective passenger doors not talking to each other. I don’t know about J but I’d occasionally cast a glance over his was just to make sure he was still just a mad as I was. Ha.

We sat there, I kid you not, for an hour. We sat in Zac Brown Band traffic for longer than the entire concert performance.

Eventually we waited so long that we had to talk it out. And we talked about some logistical stuff that has caused bumps in our love story. And we caught up on what’s been going on in our lives and minds. No one ever told me (I don’t think) that when you’re romantically linked to someone and spend a lot of time together that you can somehow slip into just doing and have no idea what is going on with your partner. I don’t know how it’s possible to spend time together and yet be disconnected. I guess when you’re doing you’re having less “feelings” conversations.

All in all, as it always goes, the rodeo traffic eventually let up. And a day later I’m grateful for the time we got stuck in the car, couldn’t go anywhere and had to talk out what was bothering us. So I look back over this rodeo season and think, ‘holy crap that kept us busy.’ But I suppose that you look back and talk about the time you saw XYZ band live at the Houston Rodeo more often than you talk about the time you came home from work and went to bed. So a little bit of busy in this case isn’t so bad.

Happy Monday, family. Talk to you all soon.

Christmas with Nick & Todd

We just spent 3+ great days here in Baton Rouge with Todd & Nick. It was a really special Christmas. We had great food, lots of good wine, did some shopping and sight seeing, farkled (Thanks to Sarah for introducing our family to farling) and, generally relaxed.

There are many special times for a parent. The birth (of course), first step, first goal, off to school, becoming an adult and accomplishments and honors along the way. What must rank right up there is being with your child as they cross into that special relationship that makes them whole, happy, and secure. Being with Todd & Nick feels that way. Our family is bigger and stronger.

May you always continue to grow in love and support one another as you mature as people and expand their horizons individually and together.

Thanks for a wonderful three days.

Twas a Macrander eve before Christmas eve

On the eve before Christmas eve and all through the nation, Mom and Dad were driving to Baton Rouge and trying to agree on a radio station.

Excited to visit Todd and Nick, and wave goodbye to their daughter,

Mom exclaimed, ‘Oh my! Texas couldn’t be hotter.’

So far in the trip Dad had visited his sister,

And Mom had bought some cheap shoes that dad swore would cause a blister,

Shout out to Kayla, the newest addition to us all,

Who was born at just over six pounds on Friday and oh so small.

Todd was busy cleaning, while Nick busy mixing,

Lots of treats to fill their home, Mom and Dad would surely find transfixing,

Sarah was still in Denver, though lonely was not she,

For the beauty of friends and mountains, how much better could life be?

So this morning, Emily sits at her computer not working, oh no, no,

Excited to see Jarrod and family, but more to the point Santa, ho ho ho.

God is great, Jesus is born, this is the reason for the season,

But getting to see the ones we love sure is extra pleasin’

So as we close this year before,

Let’s enjoy our moments together and plan for many more.