Friday, August 29, 2008

Last Library Steps

Monday night was the last summer concert on the steps of the downtown library, and I was thrilled to have the chance to hear my good friends, Fourte, one more time. Hats off to the library for hosting such a great concert series, and highlighting some outstanding local acts. And my bare feet thank the library’s gardener, who keeps the liriope grass out front nice and lush, and perfect for concert-goers on a summer night.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pride in the Burg '08

We spent a few hours on Saturday at the Pride in the Burg event, sponsored by Fredericksburg Pride, Inc., and held downtown in the city parking lot on Sophia Street. Booths lining the lot featured gay-run businesses, social services geared to the LGBT community, pro-gay rights political organizations (that would be the Democrats), gay-friendly (and possibly not so gay-friendly) churches, and an assortment of clothing & jewelry vendors. After strolling the booths, we settled in to enjoy some entertainment. Wicked Jezebel, the all-female all-gay Wammy award-winning rock band, was terrific. My husband thought their cover of “Gimme Shelter” was fabulous, and he’s a pretty harsh music critic. Gaye Adegbalola’s set included material off her new CD, Gaye Without Shame, and she was outstanding as always. There were some lip-synching drag queens and (and this was the first time I ever saw this) drag kings. I’m used to the drag queens dressed in their most over-the-top diva outfits (hello, last week’s Project Runway, anyone?), but the women dressed and performing as stereotypical men was pretty funny: the redneck character munching chips and scratching himself, the ultra-nerd with the pocket protector and receding hairline.

We enjoyed a little lunch prepared by Allman’s and Anheuser-Busch. After tasting Michelob Ultra Amber, I learned that “Ultra” is the beer code word for “light” (I suppose to appeal to men who don’t like the idea of drinking light beer), and that amber to Anheuser-Busch just means brown-colored. If you closed your eyes, you’d swear it was Bud.

I was intrigued by the booth with the big banner proclaiming “Jesus Loves Gays and Lesbians” and felt compelled to engage in a little conversation. The guy I spoke to seemed genuinely sincere in his effort to show the gay community that not all evangelical Christian churches hate gays. But really, there’s no way around it, they love the “sinners” but hate the sins, and his church is decidedly not gay-friendly, even though he was trying to be (being himself possibly gay, according to someone with better gaydar than me). His group was giving out literature that made it clear that adultery is a sin, and sex outside of marriage is adultery. So if you happen to be a member of a group for whom marriage is illegal, well, so sorry, no sex for you. And in fact, it’s not even enough to abstain from sex, since lusting in your heart is also sinful. So you can’t even want sex. So I’m thinking that “love the sinner, hate the sin” actually means that if you’re gay, you’d be welcome in a traditional evangelical church if you don’t ask, don’t tell, if you stop having gay sex, and if you stop wanting gay sex. In other words, could you just stop being so gay?

In a more uplifting conversation, I met Lori McPherson, the warm and welcoming interim pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination that is not only inclusive of the LGBT community, but offers them a positive message, ministers to their spiritual needs, and works for human rights in the community. So why would a gay Christian suffer under the damning message of an evangelical church, when MCC is so welcoming? I don’t really get it.

And I also have to put a plug in here for the Unitarian Universalists. We are a welcoming congregation, where gays and straights are equal partners in every way. We are not a Christian denomination, but are an inclusive community that welcomes open-minded thinkers from a variety of religious backgrounds. Our Fellowship includes people who identify as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, atheists, agnostics, humanists, and others. 1115 Caroline Street, service Sunday at 11 through August, two services at 10 & 11:30 starting in Sept., Sunday school for the kids, end of advertisement, thanks for reading. I guess that sounded downright evangelical, huh?

Wicked Jezebel performs:

The rainbow gateway to beer and barbecue:

The lovely Miss Fred Pride:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Barely Bloggable Week

Last Wednesday, we saw the “Music Under the Stars” performance by the Fredericksburg Community Concert Band at Hurkamp Park. A good show, but...been there, blogged that. On Saturday night, we went to a fun Greek/Olympics themed outdoor party, complete with Greek food, backyard games, and plenty of ouzo (Opa!). I had a great time, but didn’t take photos. I missed last week's Perseids meteor shower altogether. This past weekend, I puttered around the house, finished a few little projects, did some de-cluttering...but nothing blogworthy. Tonight I'm off to my Women's Group get-together at a downtown restaurant, but they'd kill me if I took their pictures, let alone posted them on the internet. So instead, I will post this photo of a monotype I purchased on Saturday from a talented local artist and friend, David Lovegrove (he teaches art at James Monroe HS), called Red Fountain II:

This is the second artwork I've purchased this month. I think I'm on a roll.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Overnight Campout

This past Saturday, some church members got together for an overnight campout on the land our church owns, but hasn’t built on yet. The outing was led by a bona fide Scoutmaster, and included everything a good Scout campout needs: raising a flagpole and hoisting a homemade camp flag, hacking down brush for tent sites, cooking dinner on camp stoves, enjoying a well-constructed fire (with all possible safety precautions taken), eating S’mores, singing songs & telling ghost stories, trying to avoid poison ivy, and being rudely awakened in the middle of the night by the sheriff. Oh, wait, maybe that last thing isn’t traditional. I’m not sure if I should be irritated that the sheriff’s department is harassing people having good, clean fun on their privately owned land, or happy that they are keeping the riff raff off our property. I mean, the other riff raff.

I love a roaring fire that someone else is responsible for. Of course, it only roared a little while, then settled down to marshmallow toasting level.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

NH Craftsmen's Fair

After our trip to Saratoga Springs, we headed over to visit with my (other) brother and his family in Newbury, New Hampshire for a couple of days. I was thrilled to hear that the NH Craftsmen’s Fair, held right in town, was on the schedule. I’ve been to so many crap crafts fairs lately. You know the kind: vendors selling things made out of beer cans, or license plates, or clothespins, and every third vendor selling commercial products, like replacement windows or skin care treatments.

The last real craft fair I remember going to was the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival in Maryland about 20 years ago. So when we arrived at the Craftmen’s Fair at the foot of Mt. Sunapee, I nearly wet my pants with glee. A juried exhibition with over 200 true artisans, and not a piece of crap in the bunch: potters, fiber and basket weavers, glassblowers, printmakers, woodworkers, furniture makers, quilters, photographers, silversmiths and jewelry artists. It was so exciting to be in the midst of all of these wonderful artisans that I broke down and did something very uncharacteristic: I bought something. I can usually talk myself out of buying just about anything, but I loved the work of printmaker J. Anne Eldridge so much that, in a bold move, I bought this print:

Here is just a small sampling of some of the pieces I encountered at the fair (wooden bowls, a large wall hanging of ceramic tiles, and handblown glass):

The weather was great, and the setting at the ski resort was picturesque. They had the chair lift running, giving rides to the top of Mt. Sunapee, where the view was amazing. Okay, the thought of riding an open chair lift to the top of a not-insubstantially-high mountain made me way too nervous. Too much like an amusement park ride, and I don’t do amusement park rides. As I’ve said before, the wildest ride I’m interested in is the swan bench on the merry-go-round. But my camera made the trip to the top, and here’s the view:

We had dinner one night at Peter Christian’s Tavern in New London, which has been around for as long as we’ve been visiting (over 30 years). The restaurant was lushly landscaped with flowers:

The soups and sandwiches are commendable, the atmosphere is cozy, and the signature honey mustard is a family favorite (my sister-in-law keeps me well-stocked). The waitresses work their tails off, so if you go, please tip heavily. Here are their award-winning baked wings (baked means healthy, no?):

Here’s the house my brother built. I believe it’s the same house where Heidi nursed Clara back to health, under the watchful eye of Grandfather.

I love visiting northern family members in the summer (which by Virginia standards, only lasts from July to August). I’m way too wimpy for the winters up there. Here’s the type of snow removal equipment a rural NH homeowner keeps stashed in the backyard:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mom's 80th Birthday

Our trip north last week was for a family reunion to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday. About two dozen family members were there, including the two newest additions, my great nephews (and while they are of course great, I mean I’m their great aunt), one 7 months old, and the other just 6 weeks, plus a couple of long lost cousins (not technically lost, but I haven’t seen them in many years). We stayed with Mom in Saratoga Springs and partied at my brother's in S. Glens Falls, NY. A fine time was had by all. Here are a few photos of the trip.

Here's a bit of Mom's garden, with the new solar powered bird bath/fountain we bought her as a gift:

Mom's yard backs up to this view of the golf course:

Downtown Saratoga Springs in full bloom:

I normally don't post recognizable photos of family members, but I couldn't resist this photo of Mom with the youngest great grandbaby. Hopefully neither one will mind.

Next stop: New Hampshire.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Traveling North

For the past week, we’ve been traveling in upstate New York and New Hampshire to visit family. We got home late last night after a 12 hour drive from NH. Here are 10 things I learned while on the road:

1. If you are driving to New York City or points north, the quickest way is via I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike. I know you hate I-95—who doesn’t? It’s long and boring and prone to traffic tie-ups. Suck it up, and resist the urge to take the western “scenic route” through Pennsylvania, which will be a lovely change of pace, but will take you two hours longer at least (see #2). Unless you have time to kill.

2. Every highway in PA is under construction at all times. It’s the law.

3. At no point should you exit a highway in New Jersey. If you can’t get what you need in the highway’s service areas, do without. Exit, and you risk being stuck for eternity in a vortex of jug-handle U-turns from which there is little reasonable expectation of escape.

4. New Jersey is one of only two states in the country without self-serve gas (Oregon is the other). The state banned self-serve gas back in 1949. No choice about it, and apparently, New Jerseyites are proud of this. It’s part of their “identity.” So if you need gas, try to get it in any other state, so you don’t have to pay extra for some guy to stick the nozzle in your gas tank for you. And don’t think you’re getting your windows washed for the extra’re not. New Jerseyites are lousy drivers, to boot. Just another part of their identity.

5. The DC area has the worst radio stations, particularly for a city of its size. By comparison, the NYC/Philly megatropolitan area, including much of NJ and eastern PA, has great stations—lots of high powered college radio with an eclectic mix of new music, instead of tired top 40 retreads. So bring along a stack of CDs to head north, but when you get anywhere close to NYC or Philly, check out the radio.

6. If you stop to take photos in every picturesque town or at every scenic panorama in Vermont, you’ll never get through the state. That’s why it costs so much to live there. Pretty isn’t cheap.

7. If you go north at least twice a year, get an EZ-Pass. If you don’t, you will wait at long lines at the tolls while those lucky EZ-Pass-holders sail right through, and you will be bitter, like me.

8. GPS is an incredible invention. I borrowed a GPS for part of the trip, and found it both useful and mesmerizing. If they could couple GPS with real-time traffic updates, it would be even better. In any case, I feel there’s a GPS in my future.

9. Don’t expect to get cell phone reception in the mountains. Can you hear me now? No.

10. Keeping track of all the different state license plates you encounter is surprisingly entertaining. We saw 40 states and 3 Canadian provinces.

No, I couldn't resist stopping in Vermont for just one scenic panorama of the Quechee Gorge.

More trip blogging to come!