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 😀
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.
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. 🙂
Saturday Ingrid had her housewarming get together. In the morning I took a quick trip to the town centre to pick up a small gift. I found a pretty vase, vaguely diamond shaped, and a jar of coloured stones to fill it with. I then added a fake flower from my collection for a pleasing little arrangement. In the afternoon I headed over there and had a pleasant time with Ingrid and friends. We all ate together as Anne and her boyfriends made a huge pile of pancakes. Nom!
Gert recently got a train card thing that lets him travel for free during the weekends. So, on Sunday he came over. We had planned to play some games, but we ended up just talking and drinking tea and such. He stayed for dinner and we played with the Monty Python fridge poetry before he had to head back home. I grabbed my bike to accompany him to the station.
It was still cold and occasionally icy outside, so I was pretty careful when leaving. Nevertheless, the ice won. As I turned on to the road from the path beside my block, down I went. Fortunately I wasn’t going fast so I didn’t get hurt. Gert had walked ahead so didn’t even notice. I got back up on the bike and caught up with Gert. He had heard the noise of my bike padlock rattling in the basket when I fell, but figured I rode over a bump 😀
Yesterday was mostly uneventful. So, to compensate for that, my padlock decided to freeze up and stop me from unlocking my bike. I couldn’t even get my key in. I carry a small container of lock anti-freeze in my bag, but that didn’t help. So I had to walk home dragging the bike with me… To say I was ill-pleased is putting it mildy.
Today I went to the movies after work. I’d wanted to see Joy for a while now, but I couldn’t quite make it work time-wise until this week. I was a bit disappointed by the movie. Id’seen trailers and they made it seem like a family drama kinda thing set in the sixties (ish). Plus, Jennifer Lawrence.
A few times during the movie I checked the time, or wondered how far along we were. That’s not a good sign. I didn’t expect the actual plot where she is a regular sort of dead-end housewife who does an invention. The invention goes on TV and becomes popular, then she has to fight over the patent and all’s well that ends well.
There were definitely good bits. Especially the interaction between Joy and her ex-husband is nice. However I didn’t really understand the reasoning behind letting grandma be the narrator when she’s not around for most of the movie. The other family members annoyed the crap out of me. I also didn’t like how jumpy the story became where they would meticulously show everything that happened when it wasn’t really interesting, and then skip parts that I wanted to see. In the end, it’s the kind of movie you watch when you happen to come across it during channel surfing.
We’re having ice everywhere. I’m very glad I’m off work this week because everything is frozen. People are skating on streets even…
The front yard has stones in it, they are all frozen over and solid. The tile path, the street, the tiled front yard of the neighbour, it’s all ice.
Monkey is not impressed and stays in. There’s still ice on the window like in yesterday’s picture, but it has lessened some. In the backyard the ice is less thick so I managed to break it where it’s covering the path. I could shove it aside like piles of broken glass.
Saturday Nienke, Kim and I exchanged winter gifts. I got Kim a colouring book about owls, pretty shower stuff and a dvd of A Knight’s Tale. It’s Kim’s favourite movie but it broke so it wouldn’t play anymore. She got me a bag of chocolate drops mixed with marshmallows to make your own hot cocoa with, a glorious bar of chocolate and a book called The Book of Ivy. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it sounds like a really good book. I’m looking forward to reading it. Captain spent the evening helping us unpack.
Sunday I took town the trees and Monkey needed to make sure I put the tree parts in the bag just right.
I have this week off work so while Milo looks disapprovingly at the weather outside, I cuddle up on the sofa with Captain “lazy bones” Blackbeard.