Friday, June 29, 2018


Every year a different town in Holland is chosen for the national last-weekend-in-June Gay Pride parade -- named Roze Zaterdag (Pink Saturday).  This year:  Gouda!  (We pronouce the name of the town and its cheese completely wrong in English.)  Besides Roze Zaterdag, there is a major Gay Pride hoo-hah in Amsterdam every August which is a boat parade through the canals.  I've never seen it.  Can't figure out why.  Maybe it became big after I moved away.

My friends American Christopher and Peter, who live in Rotterdam, always attend Gay Pride in whatever town it's in.  They  invited me to meet them and their houseguest Beverly there.  I'd never been to Gouda.  It was a bit of a hassle to get there because the train tracks were being fixed, so I had to take a train AND a bus.  Got off the bus at the wrong place, either because the bus driver couldn't understand MY Dutch or I couldn't understand HER Dutch.  Probably both.  Much as I bemoan the intrusion of smart phones into our lives, I probably would have never found my friends if we both didn't have one.

It was a beautiful sunny day -- quite a treasure in Holland any time of the year.  Gouda is a lovely
 city of 70,000.   It was a BIG DEAL to the Goudenaars (that's what they call themselves) to be hosting a national event, and the town was decked out.

Waiting for my friends to find me, I encountered this adorable couple.
Actually a trio.  That is a PROUD pup!  But she could have done a bit more work on her costume.

And we marched -- not such a long time through such a small city.  I must admit, it was a great treat to be in a Gay Pride event that wasn't as massive as San Francisco's.
The pink t-shirts with the star are the Socialist Party. 
The front says "Rode voor Roze" -- Red for Pink.

It was easy for the four of us to stick together.  Peter's yellow shirt was a great help.
C&P have been together for a loong time.  Their energy toward each other
is so affectionate and playful.  Great to be around them.
Beverly is Peter's cousin from California.  I cannot believe I don't have a photo of her talking to someone.  This woman is a networker extraordinaire.  And it comes from her heart.  She is genuinely interested in people and passionately devoted to helping women, who are doing any kind of business or cultural work in the world, connect with each other.    We got luscious vegan smoothies at a little shop owned by a young woman.....

  Beverly got her business card, so that she could recommend Miss Nice Banana to other travelers.  You go, Beverly!  We need more women like you.  
Beautiful Dutch Dykes
"Meer Dan Gewents" = "More than Wished For." 
The contingent of gay parents with their children.
More Gay Parents (and coincidently beautiful Dutch dykes)

Some Dutch take the pinkness of this day VERY seriously!

"Autism is also Diversity" & a protest against Chechnya Persecution.  
This Gay Pride march was a very big tent with room for everyone.  I love that about us.

A happy, well-adjusted child of gay parents.

A Drag Queen or two... or Three....

An old man trudged grimly through the happy crowd.  
He wasn't going to let any damn Pink Saturday keep him from doing his shopping.

Our short parade ended at the town square with its magnificent City Hall, built in 1450.
When this was built, it was a powerful statement of the ascendance of secular political power over religion.  This was quite an advance over the Catholic Church making decisions. 

Then we explored the booths....
One of the few booths focused on lesbians -- this one for women of color.  If you're noticing that there are more men than women in this blog -- it's true.  There were many dykes in the crowd, but not so many women-oriented booths or women at booths that were just generally gay-oriented.  

But the Dutch army had a booth, and there WAS a nice lady soldier there.....
The bumper sticker reads "Homosexuality and Martial Power."  Not a frequently seen bumper sticker in my own country.

AND the gay tax collectors had a booth!
Can you imagine the IRS having a booth at a Gay Pride parade?  Not yet!  

Ah, here's Beverly chatting with someone --  a tax collector.  She got his phone number in case she had trouble getting her VAT taxes returned at the airport.  

Don't know what this building across from the City Hall is.  It's just so damn beautiful.

And we spent the rest of the day exploring Gouda.  Perhaps that'll be another blog.

Friday, June 22, 2018

An Amsterday

The view from my friends' apartment.  Note the flower-bedecked bicycle in the lower right corner.  
There are many scattered throughout the city.  I heard that an American does them.

I'm back in Amsterdam for the first time in nine years.  I lived here about half-time between 1986 and 1994.  I went back and forth between Amsterdam and San Francisco during that time.  Hard to believe I actually did that.  I fell in love with this city then and had many adventures and romances and happy times.

It's very strange to be back.  I've changed.  Amsterdam has changed.  The world has changed.  Do the city and I still fit together?  I'm still figuring it out.

Last night, friends Lieke and Elizabeth fixed dinner at their apartment.  Lieke and I go back to 1986.  Elizabeth has been her partner for more than 10 years.  I felt so at home in their home, both of them taking care of me.
Elizabeth pours the wine for a fabulous meal.

Today, I visited the biggest museum, the Rijksmuseum.  Got there when it opened to avoid the crowds and wandered around.

This may look like one of those gorgeous still lifes but in fact it's a POLITICAL statement.  At the time, 1670, the House of Orange was in eclipse. Their enemies had forbidden anyone to publicly support them.  But you COULD still paint a picture of fruit -- any fruit.  The title of this painting, "Viva Orange," makes the subversive meaning clear.  It took guts for Jan Davidsz de Heem to give it that title and paint not one but TWO oranges.  You go, Jan Davidsz!

I love all depictions of The Last Judgment, with fabulous demons torturing the damned.  So creative!  These small images are from a huge triptich.  On the opposite side of the frame, the good folks are entering Heaven.  BOOOOORING!

Then it was on to the very small section of modern artists.

I'm sorry, I did not record the (obviously female) artist's name.  This is hilarious and luscious, no?  It is the size of a coffin.

Then I met up with Lieke and it was on to the Stedelijk, the modern museum.  The Stedelijk is the NASA of museums, experimenting with technology like drones and weird stuff.  Much seems from outer space.  And not so easy to photograph.

  This is a mesmerizing video of concrete blocks floating slowly over the Scottish highlands.  I didn't understand if they used drones or were manipulating video.  It was magical to watch.  Ultimately all the dozens and dozens of blocks come together langorously in a huge mass.  When the last block dropped into place, it was very gratifying.  Hmmm.... I wonder if this sounds interesting to you.  Maybe not!

Then it was time for Lieke to go home and for me to wander around my dear Amsterdam.
I've never seen a Polka-Dot Bike Bell before.

Cyclists and Flowers Everywhere

A very funky, not to say strange, frame shop.  I remember it from when I lived in the neighborhood.  So few of these quirky corners are left.

It's late.  Tomorrow I'm meeting my friends in Gouda for Roze Saterdag -- Gay Pride.  Gotta go to bed.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

There's Something About Blue

When it comes to flowers, I'm a blue freak.  I love bright, strong colors in general.  But I get such enormous pleasure looking at blue.  Why?  I don't know.  But plants with blue flowers take pride of place in my garden.  I have a vine that is supposed to have turquoise berries that Hector, my friend and gardener, has been moving to different places.  One year it had one pale turquoise berry.  Aqua, really.  I will never forget that berry.  Now the vine is on the back fence.  We'll see what happens this Fall.

But now my garden is in its full glory.


When Calla & LauRose left San Francisco, they FORCED me to take an 
enormous amount of plastic silverware, because they couldn't face the prospect 
of throwing it all out. I have always resented this, but now finally I have found 
a use for their bounty.  This is my strategy for keeping squirrels from 
eating my lobelia flowers.   I prefer to think it's squirrels rather than rats.