From this weekend’s trip to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. You’re not allowed to take pictures, but I snuck a few in with my phone anyway. One of those shots was this one of the painting Almond Blossom. It’s my favourite painting of his, even more so than classics like Starry Night. Too bad the museum chose to cover many paintings with a glass plate. It makes for ugly reflections.
After buying another cheap day ticket for the train last month, I suggested to Gert we should go to Amsterdam again. He immediately mentioned he’d never been to the Van Gogh museum. And just like that, we had plans. And yesterday was the day to execute said plans.
We left Grunn early so we would be in Amsterdam somewhat early as well. We arrived at the central station around 10:30 and, priorities, went to Starbucks for a drink. We then got on a tram to the museum square where the Van Gogh Museum is.
When we got out, the sun was shining, the weather was nice (albeit cold) and across the field we could see the museum. As we crossed we saw a lot of people outside the museum. When we got close enough, we saw it was the queue.
And not just a queue to get in the museum, no, the queue to get a ticket. Every minute or so, yellow-jacketed hosts would let another handful of people through to the queue at the door where they could go in to buy their tickets.
We had talked about pre-ordering tickets online but forgot to do so. But it gave us an idea. We checked with a host, and indeed, it would work. So, on Gert’s phone we ordered tickets online. He immediately got them in his mailbox and we could skip the queue and go straight to the entrance 😀
Disappointingly it was not allowed to take pictures in the museum. Not even just flash-less pics, no, not at all. This did not stop us from sneaking in a few phone pictures anyway.
The building has several floors that thematically lead you through Van Gogh’s life. Starting with an Eye to Eye section with nothing but self portraits to his final works before committing suicide. There were sections for his early work after he had decided he wanted to be an artist, leading up to the Potato Eaters, his moving to France where he got in contact with impressionism and such making his work lighter and brighter. Also his Japanese inspired works, his period in the institution, and the brief period after he got out and before he killed himself.
Our second plan for the day was to hit the book shops. When in Amsterdam we also tend to go to the American Book Center. This time around we decided to add The Book Exchange to the mix. This is a large second-hand bookstore with nothing but English works. Since this shop would close earlier, it became our first stop after we finished in the museum. We got on the tram again, but accidentally picked the one going the wrong way. So we got off again two stops further. Reassessing our priorities, we hit another Starbucks for a drink, and for Gert to charge his phone.
After a well deserved break, we got back on the tram, the right one this time, and headed for the city center. From there it was just a few minutes to get to The Book Exchange. We dove straight into the basement where they keep the scifi and fantasy books. I picked out some Star Trek books and then went around the room alphabetically. I found several books that had been on my list, or are sequels to works I have. I found Elizabeth Bear’s first books (the Jenny Casey trilogy) that I’ve been wanting. I found the follow-up to C.F. Bentley’s Harmony and also the sequels to Robert Sawyer’s Hominids. I’ve been looking for these last two for ages! They also had a fun Stargate book, and two Kim Harrison books that I still needed. And, in a surprise, twist, part four in that trilogy I got at the local thrift store on Wednesday…
A quiet hour later, we both had our arms full of books and decided to call it quits for now. With packed bags we stood outside and quickly agreed to skip the American Book Center for today. We walked back towards the city center. Gert bought himself a pink waffle with sprinkles. (I tasted, it’s ridiculously sweet)
In the morning we had sort of decided to eat Asian for dinner. But after what we spent on books, we decided on cheap food. KFC was our first choice but it was insanely crowded so we skedaddled. McDonalds was close by so we tried that. The first one we found was out of Maestro Burgers so we picked another one just a few hundred yards further. This one did have the Maestro’s, which are glorious.
After eating, we headed back to the station to go home. It was a good day 🙂
I have acquired a dining table 🙂
With Nienke going away soon, I need some new pieces of furniture. Well, new to me anyway. Priority pieces are a cupboard for my plates and other kitchen stuff, and a dining table and chairs. So, I have been browsing Marktplaats quite frequently lately. A few days ago I stumbled across a beautiful table. Large, massive legs, real wood, in a nice pattern and a good dark colour. I bid on it and nothing much happened for a bit. Then I got outbid in a fairly serious way. I could outbid that person, but I felt she would continue and I might end up paying more than I wanted. So I mailed the seller directly, asking her to sell it to me for her asking price. And she agreed!
Eva had offered to help me get the table so after some contact with both Eva and the seller, Wednesday afternoon was agreed upon. Eva came shortly after I’d gotten home from work. We had a cuppa first and then drove a few towns over to get my baby. The table is one piece and the legs cannot be removed. We had no other options then but to put the table in the back of the van with the legs pointing up. We strapped the legs on one side to the car seats. Then we tied the van doors around the legs on the other side so they’d keep still while driving. The doors couldn’t close, so we drove home gently.
We got back without incident, and with a little help from my Uncle the table was inside in a flash. The cats, notably Monkey, approved. Now to get chairs for it, although that will be a while as the ones I want are not yet in the budget.
We then decided to check out the thrift store and turned the rest of the afternoon in a fun little shopping trip, taking Nienke with us. I almost bought a jacket, but didn’t like the fit enough. I did find a nice wooden decorative box and a reed basket. And books. Because I cannot leave there without books. It’s usually children’s books as they don’t generally have a lot of English works.
Nienke pointed out a Dutch translation Indiana Jones tie-in novel to me which I scooped up as I already have another one in this series. I also found a good, English, copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking glass and what seems like a fun youth book about a 19th century family emigrating to the USA.
Then I came across a rare find, at least for our local thrift store, a complete science fantasy trilogy in English. With them being only 30 cents a book, I got my grabby hands on them and did not let go 😀
I’ve been having some pain in my left leg. I really noticed it earlier this month after coming back from Amsterdam. We’d been there with the whole team from work to kick off the year. At first I blamed it on the train and the chairs, and just-my-leg. But then I started thinking. And I realised my leg has been hurting more, and differently, than usual for weeks now. Even so that at work the chairs I’ve been sitting in for years are now uncomfortable to me. I even started sitting on a yoga ball and I really like it.
Last week I went to my doctor to discuss this. Based on how it feels and some Google, I figured the issue has something to do with my sciatic nerve. The pain is sharp and can radiate throughout my leg. The doctor did some basic tests and concluded there’s no nerve damage. He gave me anti-inflammatory painkillers for a week and told me to start moving normally again. This was a good point, as I’d been favoring the leg, and that doesn’t help, it only accentuates the bad positioning.
I also spoke with him about getting an x-ray done of my hip. The last time I had anyone look at it was in my late teens just before I decided I was done with hip-doctoring. The doctor agreed that it was smart to get a benchmark x-ray done. He didn’t think there’d be any real issues, but it’s nice to have a comparison picture for later. He got me a referral and I called for an appointment right after. Surprisingly, they had room for me to come in next Monday.
So, yesterday morning I went in for my photo-op. This was done at the same hospital I used to go to as a kid, but not the same hospital I now go to for my gender stuff. So I had to get a new info-card made. Despite handing over my ID, the system picked my old info out of the archives and spit out a card with my current ID picture and my old name 😀 The lady at the desk was quite apologetic about it, and manually fixed the info.
Then it was on to radiology. There, at the check-in desk, they had to remake my appointment in the system to match the new name. I was then sent on to the waiting room and shortly after it was my turn. The referral from my doctor asked for an x-ray and a description comparing it to my last. The radiologist kept me around for a bit to confirm my old data and to verify some things. It turned out that my old x-rays were no longer there, but the description were. So they took two shots, one of my hip in general to compare left to right, and a detail shot of left.
It was supposed to take about four or five days before the files would be back at my doctor. I had planned to call next Monday, but this afternoon the doctor called me. He had already gotten the x-ray and description. As he had expected, there was no cause for concern. There was some degradation, but that is to be expected with the way my hip is wonky. No action is required at this point. Maybe take another picture in another couple years.
The pain is getting better with the pills. It hurts much less now, and when it does, it’s less sharp. I’ve also been paying attention to how I walk and sit to keep doing this normally. I think it’s helping. We’ll see how it goes after the week of pills is over.
Wednesday Gert and I went to see Deadpool. We had some time before so we first had lunch at Wadapartja. A few years ago it would never have worked, but now it does. It’s a very vintage-retro-hipster place. Furnished with old formica tables and chair, mis-matched lights. A lot of wood and brick and signs everywhere that if you see something you like, you can buy it. They have a lunch and dinner menu and fall in the mid-range when it comes to price. I went for a brown seeded bun with slices of pear, blue cheese, walnuts, honey and arugula. It was very tasty, but it could’ve been a wee bit larger for the price.
Then came the movie, and it is fantastic. I don’t want to spoil it, but I enjoyed the movie so much, I want to see it again. The movie regularly breaks the fourth wall. It occasionally uses bullet time during which Deadpool converses with the audience. He also references other superhero movies, points out stereotypical bits, names actors by name and so on. The story is thin, but as an origin story it gives insight in who Deadpool is and what makes him tick. Also, Ryan Reynolds is awesome.
I also wanted to see Hail, Caesar. Except it only plays on ridiculous times either in the middle of the day, or late at night. Saturday would then be the best option so I decided to go. Gert said he might come. The next day I got texting with Ingrid and she suggested she return the moving boxes on Saturday. Catching two birds with one stone, I proposed she come here in the early afternoon with the boxes, and then go to the movies with me.
And thus Ingrid showed up today, with tasty bread for lunch. I was still in the middle of doing the litter boxes when she got here but after finishing that, we had lunch. Gert texted that he would like to join for the movie also. Ingrid and I then played some Fluxx and some Scrabble before driving to the city. We met up with Gert at the cinema and got our tickets.
Hail, Caesar is a weird movie, but a fun one. It is set in the fifties, the time of big movie studios pumping out film after film with stars they had under contract. The movie takes the pacing of films from that age and has about three or so major plot lines. They all interconnect and all have a similar level of importance. Because of that, combined with the calmer pace and the low level of action a lot of the events are unexpected. There’s also the occasional laugh-out-loud fun in small moments and dance routines mostly.
After, we went to Subway for dinner before splitting up. Gert to find his bike, and Ingrid and I to catch the bus.
Saturday I saw Black Grace perform in the Schouwburg. Black Grace is a New Zealand dance company led by Neil Ieremia. Ieremia choreographs dances inspired by and drawn upon both his Samoan heritage and the current world of New Zealand. They’re doing a tour of the Netherlands with a show called Verse 3: a collection of five short works and excerpts of various older works.
Pati Pati (2009) was the first. It’s a mix of fragments from four other works using Samoan seated dance (Sasa) and slap dancing (Fa’ataupati). It has pieces from Relentless (1998), Black Grace (1995), Fia Ola (1998) and Amata (2007). I really loved this because of the rhythm and repetition. It’s meditative.
The second was Human Language (2002), a work inspired by the body language of men and women when they start getting romantically interested in each other. It also mimics various forms of mating behaviour. It starts out, for example, by the men blowing up colourful balloons. As the girl parades in front of them they raise their heads so the balloons hang at throat level. Similar to how some birds inflate their necks to show of their vibrant neck and belly feathers. As the girl turns them down, they let go of the balloons in defeat, letting them shoot away as they deflate.
Gathering Clouds (2009) was made in answer to an article in a New Zealand newspaper. The article went on about how Pacific Island immigrants to New Zealand had the lowest education levels, were most represented in prison, most without jobs and so on, basically saying they were bad for New Zealand. This pissed Neil off so made this work to deal with his feelings and show that things aren’t perfect, they evolve and change and unrest comes from that, and helps with that. The dance starts with strong Samoan influences, traditional dancing and traditional music and halfway through morphs into more modern dancing on a number of Goldberg Variations by Bach to show that yes, we’re all different, but we’re all also the same.
Mother Mother (2013) was choreographed on request of New Zealand group Fat Freddy’s Drop. They wrote a song called Mother Mother and wanted Neil to make a dance for the videoclip. Ieremia refused a couple times but eventually agreed. The work starts out with a lot of physical manipulation of the body culminating in the literal raising up of women as a symbol for how Mothers help their kids up.
The final piece, Minoi (1999), is traditional. It is a Samoan song which literally means to wiggle. It starts with a woman singing the song and then blends with the dancers. They appear behind her and take over the singing. Mixing it with slap dancing and turning the song into a round it becomes a mantra.
So, today we went back to the furniture store with Dad. After some trying out of both, the decision was made to get the one we chose Wednesday. Except in a different colour.
Mom had been thinking she wanted it in a more blueish colour. The associate got out his samples and he had this pretty blue-grey one (left in the image). In a very smart move, Mom had brought a curtain along to check how it would look with the sofa. She liked the blue and it seemed it was going to be that until she spotted another colour on the sample ring. This was a more green-grey colour (right in the image).
In the middle of the show room I wasn’t too impressed with the colour. It seemed too dark and ill-matched with the curtain. We put everything on a table near a window to check the effect in natural light. There the green-grey one stood out and really fit with the curtain.
Thus it was decided. After filling out the order form, Mom decided she also wanted a new chair to go with it. In the showroom across from the sofa was a chair she had been eyeing while we were there. It’s a more modern and streamlined shape than the old-fashioned wooden chair they currently have. The covering resembled that of the sofa on display without being too matchy-matchy.
The associate brought out fabric samples for the chair and luckily it came in a grey colour that matched with the one for the sofa. The order form got amended to include the chair, and that concluded our business there. In between I drooled some more over the cabinet I saw last week. It’s still very much out of my budget, but it is so pretty. So I took a picture 🙂
Next stop was the thrift store one town over. As of today Nienke has a new house, so I will need some additional furniture when she moves out. That will still be a few weeks away but we’re in the neighbourhood anyway. The thrift store didn’t have anything that struck my fancy in the furniture department. I checked out the books, and hit the jackpot there. I found both the third part in a three-book series that I’ve been missing. I got the first two parts as a kid and always wanted to get the third to go with it. Here it was, for fifty cents 🙂
Then I found another book I’ve been looking for for years. I read Hadassa as a kid and it always stayed with me. Once I got older, though, I could never find it again. Until now. This book was ten cents. And then it turned out all books were 50% off. So I got both of them for thirty cents total!
We then made our way over to the town center to check out a few other stores and to have lunch before heading home.
At home I worked on the stairs some more. I got sick of the laminate flooring on the stairs. The metal corners are noisy and sharp, and the way the laminate has been places shortens the treads. Plus, it’s slippery. Last week I pulled off all the metal edges and the front laminate. Today I started taking off the laminate on the treads.
This has proven to be one hell of a job. The previous tenant glued everything on with a cement-like substance. It’s fairly easy to remove on its own, but it’s a bitch to pull the laminate pieces loose. It took me about an hour and a half, two hours to get as far as in the picture. I’m continuing on Friday, but this is gonna be a multi-day project. Once the stairs are all clear I’ll be sanding and painting it and then adding some tread rugs to prevent slipping. I’m still thinking about what colour to paint it.
A little after five Mom picked me up to drop me off at the bike repair shop. I brought my bike in last weekend for repairs and it was ready today. I’d been putting new air in my back tire every morning for weeks now and got sick of it. Beyond that, I also had the guy put on a new back light, move the front light forward and check the chain.
He called this morning when we were in the car to discuss the front light. It turned out it was full of water and the dynamo was fried. He suggested replacing all that with a battery powered light which would be a lot cheaper than replacing dynamo and regular light. I’m all for cheaper, so I agreed.
When I got there he walked me through what he did to the bike. Beyond the discussed things he also replaced a broken spoke and tightened the brakes. The chain was rusty so he cleaned it and he re-aligned the front wheel also to better deal with the weight of the crate I have in front. I’m really satisfied with what the dude did, and how he did it.
My parents are probably buying a new sofa set.
Saturday Mom and I went grocery shopping. While underway, she said she also wanted to check out the furniture store. The current sofa set they have isn’t very comfortable and some of the stitching is getting loose. Mom’s been thinking about getting one sofa and two recliners so she wanted to check it out.
At the store we wandered around and looked at everything, taking our sweet time. We tried out various recliners and sofa’s with no particular intent to actually pick something. I drooled over a particularly pretty kitchen cupboard that is way out of my budget range and a likewise pretty cabinet that was even more out of my range.
Eventually we stumbled across a pretty brown sectional. It was comfortable to sit on and Mom really liked the colour. A sectional won’t fit in my parent’s living room, but it also comes as separate sofas. We filed it away in our mind and continued our round.
Later on, we stumbled on another sectional. This one a different shade of brown with the stitching in a contrasting lighter colour. This one was also comfortable, and also available as separate sofas.
By now we had made a full round so we tried out both sofas and compared. In the end both Mom and I preferred the lighter one. It was more comfortable to sit on and looked less massive. Especially since it’s available with thinner arm rests.
After some more discussing sofa versus recliner, Mom realised Dad would not be happy with a chair. He just wants to be able to lie on his side when napping. With that squared away, the choice almost made itself.
What with Dad being at home, Mom couldn’t make the decision then and there. We’re returning on Wednesday with Dad to sit on it some more and decide. But I’m pretty sure this’ll be it. 🙂
Ingrid called, earlier this week, if I wanted to go out for dinner and go with her to pick out a new fridge on Saturday. Of course I said yes 🙂
We settled on dinner at Chi-Chi’s, a Mexican place. We could only get a reservation for 20:30 so we turned the order around. Fridge shopping first, dinner second. Only, during the day Ingrid found out that the Mediamarkt isn’t open on Saturday evenings any more…
We still headed to the city at the agreed upon time. Except instead of shopping, we went to La Brasse for drinks and a pre-dinner snack. Cue cappucino and cheesecake 🙂
We stayed there for about an hour and a half just chatting and talking. Then we crossed the street to go to Chi-Chi’s. I’d never been there before but I enjoyed it. A nice location, looking pretty modern and not like a stereotypical Mexican place. They had choices between actual Mexican stuff like burritos, taco, quesadillas and more Mexican-American inspired burgers.
I went with a spicy burrito as a starter, a steak burger for a main course and fried ice cream with whipped cream and honey. It was very tasty!
After getting my bike padlock frozen I borrowed Mom’s bike to use until I had time to look at the lock. Tuesday went fine, but Wednesday morning, the ice got the better of me, again. This time when I went around the corner near the Chinese restaurant. There, too, it was slippery. Luckily I was, again, not going very fast so there was no damage to me or the bike.
When I got home I returned the bike to Mom’s and set to work on my busted lock. After some wiggling, the key slid in and it just opened… Stupid lock.
Yesterday after work I hit the city with Kim. The temple of her glasses broke so she wanted to get that fixed and maybe get new ones. Unfortunately they couldn’t fix the temple as they didn’t have that particular size and hinge mechanism anymore. They also had no time anymore to fit her in for a measuring for a new pair so we left with nothing except an invitation to come back the next day.
We were now pretty hungry so it was Pappa Joe’s for dinner. I decided on nachos instead of a burger and had some bread and herb butter to go with it. Afterwards we walked down the main shopping street to browse and get some stuff. Kim wanted gloves, and she found a pair she liked. I checked out the book outlet and found two graphic novels I liked. So score for the both of us!