Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Went To A Gay Pride Parade, And All I Got Was This Fabulous Rainbow Flag

As some of you may remember, Chuck bought me tickets for the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert at Duke University on Sept. 25.

I finagled my work schedule so that I could have both Saturday and Sunday off, so we could spend some time hanging out in Durham and Chapel Hill.

Saturday morning, we left quite early. We couldn't check into our hotel room till about 3pm, and we were wondering what the hell we were going to do for like 5 hours.

We pulled into Durham, and Chuck asked which freeway exit we should get off of (I'm always the navigator, 'cause I'm damn good at it). I said I didn't know, because I wasn't sure what we were going to do. We wanted to go looking at an old cemetery in the area, but we also wanted to get something to eat. Couldn't decide what the priority was.

So I picked an exit in the general Duke area, and we tooled on down the street. The traffic was heavy, and Chuck was getting agitated (he is the Road Rage King). We couldn't figure out what it was all about.

We were cruising slowly down the street behind a line of vehicles, and saw that there was some commotion going on up on the right. I could see a whole bunch of coloured flags flapping in the air.

'What the hell's going on over there?' asked Chuck.

My eyes lit up.

'Chuck! I bet there's a Gay Pride parade going on today!' I gleefully shouted.

Sure enough, we drove past people getting their floats ready for the parade. There were an assload of tents set up. Drag queens were tottering down the sidewalk in heels. Dogs were festooned with rainbow bandanas. Children were excitedly waving miniature flags.

I frantically started begging Chuck to park and let me watch the parade. I had always wanted to go to Gay Pride. Not only do I wholeheartedly support gay rights, but the parades always looked so fun when I've seen them on the news. A plus!

All the parades I've ever been to were boring (except the one St Paddy's Day parade I was actually participating in with my Gaelic Football team). Chuck saw the look on my face, and he was awesome enough to park the car and watch the parade with me.

The parade route was set up on a main street along Duke's East Campus. A long, low stone wall (hmm, on words not intended) skirted the avenue where people were already perched and waiting to watch the parade.

It wasn't going to start for awhile, so we walked up into the area with the tents set up, to look around.

"You know how you always say 'I feel like I'm in a movie'?" asked Chuck.

"Yes," I replied.

Chuck looked at me with wide eyes. "Well, I feel like I'm in a movie," he said.

Chuck was pretty hungry, so I bought him a couple of hot dogs from 'The Weenie Women' tent. Hilarious name, and we were supporting a fundraiser. How could I not buy from them?

Now that Chuck was full, I led him around so I could check out the tents. I bought myself a flag to wave during the parade.

We sat down under some shady oaks to escape the scorching sun, and to people watch for a little while:

"What if we end up on the news? What am I going to tell my friends?" asked Chuck.

"We're not going to end up on the news. There's thousands of people here, " I answered.

The wall was rapidly being occupied by the crowd, so I thought I'd better go claim my parade-watching spot. I sat with my feet dangling, laid my flag out over my legs and Chuck stood behind me just in case he had to move underneath the shade again.

I'm sure that Chuck's fantasized about being sandwiched between 20 hot lesbians, but I don't think it turned out quite how he imagined it.

They were was 98 degrees outside! (that's 37C to the rest of the world). But most of them looked as though they could crush his balls *cough*, I mean head in the crooks of their elbows if he tried to get fresh.

It was People Watching Paradise. At one point a car drove past, and a cheerful (and I believe, intoxicated) man leaned out the passenger window and yelled to a pet walker, 'I love your gay dog!'

The parade was about to commence. The Durham police were present to signal the start of the parade, they led the way with sirens blipping.

Notice? A cameraman from News Channel 14 set up right in front of us on the sidewalk. We had picked a great spot.

I love this chick's sign about the 'Gay Agenda'

It was about this time that the news cameraman turned his camera towards the parade watchers.

Get a load of this photo that I took. Look who's face is reflected in the camera lens.

In case you're going 'Who's face?', that's me. I had to lift my camera up above the heads of the people in front of me to snap decent pictures, and I could only vaguely see what I was aiming at on the screen in the back of my camera with my arm up in the air. So it's a crazy that I got that shot of my reflection in the camera. No doctoring, I promise I'm too stupid about computers to do that.

The cameraman turned back around to shoot the parade participants.

"Chuck! That dude was filming us!" I squealed.

"Oh man, we're gonna end up on the news, like I said," Chuck lamented.

"Nah! They just film all sorts of stuff to make sure they have enough footage for the story. We're not gonna be on the news," I reassured him.

Why would we end up on the news when there were more interesting things to film? Like these people.

After the parade went by, we crossed the street to walk down to where our car was parked. By the time we got to the other end, the parade was coming back. So we watched it twice, really. And a good thing too, because I got pics of stuff I missed the first time.

Like these chicks with their boobs out. A boob is not a naked boob if your nipples are covered with strips of red tape. Everyone knows that.

And these guys in cow-print hotpants. I'm almost afraid to check out what is! But strangely compelled...

This older guy really struck me. I saw him walking through the crowd earlier when we milling about. With all the strutting drag queens and lesbians roaring by on bikes...why would this one man catch my attention?

Well...this is what I said to Chuck when I'd seen him earlier.

"There is no way in a million years I will ever be confident enough about who I am, as that guy is about himself.'

I bet that he's been through a lot in his lifetime. A lot can change in 30 or 40 years. He may have been afraid for his life a few times back in the day, maybe even hiding who he was. Now he's marching down the street in a pink paper hat, proudly waving his flag.

Protestors did show up, by the way. I didn't get any pictures of them. Wouldn't waste my memory card space. And there were so few of them that I laughed at how silly and out of place they looked standing on their little streetcorner, not even in parade range. Score one for humanity.

Here are some of the final pictures I took.

These ladies were smart and wore flats. There were a lot of limping drag queens by the end of the parade...

This is one of the last shots I took, and one of my favourites. Chuck thought the girl wearing the 'Peace, Love and Crabs' t-shirt was hot.

I just think it's a great pic, with a great message. The message on the sign, I mean, not the thing about the crabs.

I'm so glad that chance brought me to this event. I'm so glad Chuck was comfortable enough with his sexuality that he agreed to stop and let me participate. It was one of the coolest experiences that I've ever had. Even if Chuck did stick to me like white on rice...or a straight guy in a crowd of gay guys. ;)

There was so much energy in the crowd. So much joy. It was a true celebration.

It made my heart happy.

After the parade was over, Chuck and I went back to our hotel to take a shower and change into our concert-going attire. Chuck turned it to News Channel 14 to see if the Gay Pride coverage was airing yet.

The story came on...and Chuck and I were in the second shot!!

I jumped around the hotel room screaming 'I'm on the news! I'm on the news!' The cameraman had even filmed my feet against the rainbow flag I had across my lap...I was happy that I had worn my blingy pink sequined flip-flops and that my toenails were painted. I didn't even care about how chunky I look on tv.

I can't embed the news video, but here's the link.

My feet are in the shot 0:08 seconds in. All of me is in the shot at 0:26 seconds in. Chuck's standing behind me with the Kinston Indians t-shirt on.

What a crazy, AWESOME day.

How was the concert you ask?

In a word, fantastic. But I think a full review will have to wait till the next post...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Someone Told Me Once

That when you get a sky like this, all pretty pinks and yellows at sunset, that it's because of all the pollution in the atmosphere.

What a Debbie Downer thing to say, eh?

Took that a couple of weeks ago outside my back porch. Love it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Are You Listening To? Wednesday

I don't like a lot of chick musicians.

I suppose that's just being unfair, but if you put all the bands/singers I like in a list, I'm sure 85% of them are dudes.

I don't know why. Same thing with comedians. You gotta have something special if you're a chick and you want me to take notice.

Ok Feminists, you can flame me all you want, this is your chance.

Now that you got that out of your systems...

I do, however, like a few. And I love Imelda May. Her album 'Love Tattoo' was one of our in-store play CDs at the bookstore a few months ago.

Imelda May is originally from Dublin. Her music mainly has a rockabilly feel, but there's some blues thrown in for good measure. She sings and plays the bodhrán.

'Big Bad Handsome Man' is my favourite song. Very sexy, very slinky. Makes me want to put on a tight satin dress and sip a martini.

A dirty martini. *phwoar*

Imelda May has a fantastic, distinctive voice and a striking look. She just started touring in the U.S. this year. I'm hoping she widens the scope of cities in the future, because they've all been too far away from me.

December 2010 through February 2011 she's in Ireland and England, so if you live in these places you should go down and check her out. Just to make me jealous.

You can see her playing on her bodhrán in 'Johnny Got A Boom-Boom'.

She's coming out with a new album called 'Mayhem' this October 4th. This is the title cut from the album.

If you'll excuse me, I've got to get up and dance now...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sun of a Beach

Chuck and I both had a day off together yesterday. Sadly, that's pretty rare these days.

We decided to hang out on the beach for most of the afternoon.

Hurricane Igor passed us yesterday. Not close enough to give us any bad weather at all, but the surf was pretty crazy! In fact, I think the waves were more impressive and beautiful than when Hurri-lame Earl came through.

The air temps have cooled into being tolerable (it was about 84F/28C), and it was sunny all day. Chuck tested out the water while I watched from my chair.

The rip current was very strong, but Chuck knows how to come out of it okay if he gets sucked out too far. In fact, he's had to rescue some people before who got caught in it.

I was more worried about his one-lunged ass getting pounded into the sand. Those waves were powerful!

I felt like I was in a surfing movie. Every surfer's girlfriend in the surrounding area must have been pretty lonely yesterday. That means I got to look at their fit boyfriends without the fear of being punched in the eye!

Don't worry, I wasn't being selfish. There were a lot of jiggly-boobed, football-tossing bikini girls for Chuck to ogle as well. I'm all for equal ogling opportunity!

If you enlarge this next photo and squint, you can see a tiny dark spot in the middle. That's a surfer. And he was AWESOME. He rode that wave a long way...

Everyone brings their pets to the beach. We thought this family's choice of dogs was quite interesting.

That big dog is the size of a freakin' pony! Saddle that thing up and go green! Its paws look like my hands.

The other dog could fit in a shot glass. You can barely even see the other dog!

We spent about 5 hours at the beach in total, with a little picnic in between.

Afterwards, we had to go fill a prescription for me at the drugstore by the beach. The pharmacist told me it would be about a 45 minute wait. Chuck and I decided to take a ride around the neighbourhood instead of walking around the drugstore for 45 minutes like losers.

I saw this sign whilst driving past an older beach house. In fact, I made Chuck circle back around just so I could get a picture. I'm copyrightin' this one.


Just goes to show you: when it comes to vacationing at the beach, you're never too physically challenged to party!

Great day. Wish you were here. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn Garden Tour Extravaganza 2010

I had to make my podunk garden sound more impressive. Did that do the trick?

Decided to take a walk through my yard and take some garden pictures this morning, just before sunrise.

Because the name at the top says 'Crystal Coast Gardener' not 'Crystal Coast Liar Who Rambles About Other Shit When She Promised You Gardening'. Right?

I hauled myself out of bed and headed straight out there before I could procrastinate. Usually when I get the notion to take garden pictures, it's midday, and the sun is blazing, and the pictures look like crap.

This time, the pictures still look like crap, but at least there isn't all that annoying glare.

It's five days away from the official start of fall. Time for turkey. Time for pumpkins!

No, not those Pumpkins! Sillies.

These ones!

That's better. :)

My gardens look nice for about 2 seconds in the spring. They look horrible for 4 months in the sweltering summer heat. And then they look good again towards the beginning of fall, and stay that way till Christmas usually.

These are from my back garden.

All of the vincas you see? I didn't plant them. Those things reseed like mofos, they're all offspring from last year's planting. Because I was cheap this year, and they LOVE the heat of the west side of my house, I let a lot of them just grow.

This is the first year I planted purple gomphrena. Those bright globes have been delighting me constantly since springtime. I'll be planting them again next year. Ditto on the salvia.

Osteospermum IS something I plant every year. They fill in the garden nicely. Usually I plant the 'spoon' variety. This year I opted for the white with a purple center.

Moving on through the backyard...

The other thing that has perked up with the cooler temps and the sun not being so high in the sky is my okame cherry tree.

It stayed bald or burnt most of the summer. I planted it in full sun, hoping that it wouldn't be too much for the tree in NC, but it was hard on it. And hard on my water bill. But it's looking better right now. Especially with that beautiful autumn-coloured tree across the cotton-field as a backdrop.

I'm hoping that it will build up some tolerance to the sun as the years pass, if I just water it enough lol. Like my 'Ann' magnolia did.

This is the best year 'Ann' has had, despite the nasty hot temps. I also planted it in too much sun. It got crispy and bald three years in a row.

This year I've barely watered it and it stayed nice throughout the summer. No leaf loss, and it stayed completely green until the last couple of weeks. Had a lot of flowers on it this spring.

You're also looking at my project for next spring.

Here's another view.

I really want to find something that will hide the A/C unit and the gas can. Some sort of latticed screening maybe. That crap is on the south side of my house, and very visible to the road. Bleah.

Also on the south side...

My clematis has squeezed out a second flush of blooms. If you can call two blooms a 'flush'. :)

And my butterfly bush is looking the best it has looked all summer. That thing's kind of been a bitch to take care of. It looks all mangy at the bottom if you let it go.

Finally, the front of my house, which faces east. The only place I have shady enough to plant anything that needs part shade.

My 'DD Blanchard' magnolia is doing well. This is the first year I had to actively water it since I planted it, it was nearly leafless by the end of June. It's bounced back and is now a healthy 9 feet tall. When we planted it four years ago, it was 4 foot 2. We planted it on our first wedding anniversary, so I have a very soft spot in my heart for this tree.

It only had one flower on it at the end of May (when it is supposed to bloom), but I got 5 more last month as a surprise second blooming.

This is my front garden.

My rosebush is all blackspotty, but this is the most leaves and blooms it's had in the fall since I first planted it. Usually it's bald and yellow by now. I'd dig it out, but it's my baby. And it looks so nice in May...

Next to that are my toad lilies. They're just starting to bloom.

Nothing much else is in that garden besides my azalea. I'm planning on planting some stuff in there in the next couple of weeks...some petunias or pansies or something that will last through Christmas.

There is some colour in my front porch garden, although things are starting to look kinda ratty. Which is awesome since it faces the street :P

These pics don't look too bad.

My elephant ears look terrible. Oh well.

My potted coleus looks a little less sexy than it did a couple of months ago, but with a little makeup it would look fine.

The geranium needs a shock to the heart. It's been growing for two years though, maybe it's a little tired.

And I recently bought my first Japanese maple!!

My cheap ass found one on clearance at Lowe's garden center a few weeks ago. I paid a whopping $12 for it. They always leave these things in too much sun (pot calling the kettle black), and they look like crap by the end of August. I gave it some shade and it's popping out a couple of leaves. it's still on my porch because I can't figure out where I'm going to plant it. :(

For some reason the camera wouldn't focus properly on the new leaves unless my feet were in the picture. Sorry.

The 'Red Beauty' holly is sporting some shiny red berries! I highly recommend these.

They have such a nice upright, compact habit. And they were bred to withstand our southeast coastal conditions.

One of my neighbours must have a holly, because this is the only one I have and it still gets berries.

I'm starting to move in the autumn plants as well.

Orange mums.

Gaillardia. They look kinda sad though.

Being a gardener, you would think that spring would be my favourite season.

Not so! I love fall. I love the leaves turning. The cooler temps are refreshing after the heat of the summer. I love eating all the delicious food.

And in MY house, we get two thanksgivings. One in October for the Canadian, and one in November for the American.

This song makes me feel fall-y.