Saturday, September 26, 2009

Graffiti and musings from a coffee shop

more Dutch graffiti, notes from a coffee shop

Delft Mosaic Mirror

A beautiful mosaic mirror in a restaurant bathroom in Delft

I forgot about these photos because they were taken with my iphone camera!
This beautiful blue and white mosaic was in a quaint little restaurant in Old Delft.  I love the 3-dimensional quality of the tile, and the fact that the faucet (seen in the first image, lower right corner) is
made of ceramic.  I didn't return to the Delft factory and museum this year, to my great regret.
Maybe next year.....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Empty Box from Amsterdam

My boxes arrived.  The one with all my bulbs was completely empty.  I purchased "uncertified" bulbs again this year, as I did last year.  I guess I didn't get away with it this time.  The only difference in them is that the bulb producers have to pay an exorbitant fee to the FDA inspector to "certify" bulbs, so they limit the # of bulbs that get certified due to the expense.  Naturally, I wanted the huge amaryllis bulbs that were not certified (along with some very cool black calla lilies).  It was a rather expensive lesson.
The great thing is that Tim's books, my awesome mulberry bark, and my sack of dried water chestnuts got here-yay!  Photos will be coming in the near-future.

Sunday, September 20, 2009



I jumped off the plane from Europe, slept, and on Friday started a 3-day class with Hollis Chatelain in portraiture.  This class is part of a multi-year program to enhance drawing, color-comprehension, and more.
This was a wonderful 3-day class, and the drawings above are among several that I generated during the workshop.  We had 4 sets of models to draw the first 2 days.
I truly enjoyed this experience, despite the proximity of the workshop to my jet-lag.  It was a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Leaving Amsterdam to travel home

Walking to the Metro station;  boarding the Metro for Centraal Station
Train leaving Centraal Station 
I posted a number of photos late last night but no commentary.  Tim fell asleep and my fingers clicking were a source of annoyance, so I didn't type more than necessary.
I had a beautiful last full day of wandering.  I mailed my boxes home, then wandered into yet another area of the city I had not seen before.  I found some amazing bleached mulberry bark, which I purchased and had to make a return trip to the post office!  Also:  I was able to find the elusive Chinese market that I spied the dried water chestnuts last year.  I purchased some, packed them in another box, and with fingers crossed I shipped them home.  Let us hope they don't confiscate them from me!
Now we sit in the airport waiting to board our flight home.  I don't know how the time here could have been better.  I have fallen further in love with the Netherlands, if that is possible.  I love the gentle, friendly atmosphere of this place.  The people are kind and friendly.
I'll post more photos state-side.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you as I travel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last day in Amsterdam (part 2)

Who is driving this truck?...........Leslie in an outdoor cafe
Beautiful night scene; Tim & Leslie being silly

Last day in Amsterdam

Does anyone know what this plant is?
A visit to the flea market; another stray hollyhock along the sidewalk
Another gorgeous canal in the city

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alternative transportation and clotheslines

I loved this shot:  a built-in wheelbarrow/baby carriage on the bike, parked next to their houseboat!
This clothesline surely works better than the one in my hotel room!
Today was another lovely cool, breezy day.  I wandered the city without direction.  I spent some time looking around in the cookware section of a department store and in a grocery store.  It is interesting to see what things are displayed in each of these places, and how it differs from what I consider the standard fare at home.
I sat for awhile in the sun on a public bench near the Amstel bridge watching people pass by.  It felt good to soak in a bit of sun while listening to an audiobook on my ipod shuffle.  
We will meet a large group of people from Newtek US/Europe for dinner soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Anne Frank House, Flower Market, and a walk in another neighborhood

A friend selects tulips to take home
A sea of bikes near Central Station, and lovely wooden shutters on an apartment house
I met several friends for a tour of the Anne Frank Museum today.  I toured it when I was here last year, but was happy when they said they wanted to go.  Anne Frank's diary had a huge impact on me when I read it as a kid.  We were able to view the actual diary as well as a number of her loose pages of writing which were on loan from the War Museum.  These were not at the museum last year, so it was wonderful to see them today.
After lunch we wandered over the the flower market, where I bought a number of amaryllis (huge!) and about a dozen calla lilies to ship home.  These were quite heavy so we walked back to my hotel and dumped them in my room before moving on.
We walked into a neighborhood on the northwest edge of the city that is located on a small island, and has been residential since the 1600's.  It was one of the only places in the city that was strictly residential, with the exception of artist studios or small galleries.  It had a very low-key, bohemian vibe, and we really enjoyed wandering around looking at the buildings and the small gardens.  We even ventured into a small garden, thinking it might be a community garden, and sat for awhile on a nice bench!  No one seemed to mind....
I had an adventure on the tram this afternoon when returning to my hotel:  the tram was "redirected" away from my stop and headed far south in the city.  At first, I thought perhaps I had boarded the wrong tram (wouldn't be the first time!) but several other passengers jumped up and began questioning the employee about what was happening.  When I asked her what to do she began shuffling papers, looking quite bewildered.  Finally, a young woman passenger told me, "She doesn't know any routes besides her usual so she isn't able to help.  I need to go to the same place you are going so we can go together".  We hopped off the tram at the next stop, walked down the street and I bought a Metro ticket and we took the subway back to where we wanted to be.  The people of Amsterdam, with few exceptions, are warm, friendly, and gracious to tourists.  I love this city!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Windmills, Teller, laundry, and Five Flies

An old Dutch windmill, still operational, in Delft;  A sign advertising Teller's presentation
An attractive clothesline in our hotel room; a very old door-knocker inside the Five Flies restaurant
We returned to our hotel so late last night that I was exhausted.  Tim, equally exhausted, had to get up early this morning and go out to the IBC tradeshow (the other reason for our being here).  I elected to remain horizontal as long as possible.  Ah, bliss!  It was really a luxury to stay in bed a couple extra hours and catch up on some sleep.  
Our friend Teller (of Penn & Teller) is in town presenting a program about Illusion to the Psychological Society and he invited us to attend.  It was a wonderfully fascinating exploration, and demonstration, of illusion as seen through the eyes of a magician.  I met Tim at the site of the presentation.  It was very special, and well-received by the audience.  Tim took off to return to the trade show, and he had a dinner scheduled with the European dealers this evening.  I joined Teller and several other friends for dinner at the Five Flies, and old and very nice restaurant which is composed of five townhouses from the 17th century that have been combined to create the restaurant space.
After our dinner we all parted ways, and I joined Tim at the Newtek-Europe dealer dinner, which I discovered was quite close to my location in the Spui (pronounced like Plow but with an S).  I enjoyed seeing some old acquaintances and meeting dealers I don't know.  It was fun, and I'm glad I made the decision to crash the party. 
Here is a clip from a restaurant review that I found:
D’Vijff Vlieghen – it means ‘The Five Flies’ – restaurant in medieval Amsterdam is a landmark, full to bursting with everyone from business diners to tourist busloads to couples who love it. The nine dining rooms ramble over five classic 17th century townhouses, each dining room a different expression of the Dutch Golden Age. The Rembrandt Room features etchings, the Knights’ Hall a collection of armour and so forth. Groups can book different rooms or hire the whole amazing place to seat up to 300. The founder, one Nicolaas Kroese, started it all in 1939. He had gigantic charisma that attracted attention from everywhere. Plaques on the chairs commemorate past guests: Walt Disney, Gianni Versace, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis. Chef Jeroen Groot creates exciting New Dutch cuisine dishes, using mainly organic veg and other respectful sourcing, presenting a la carte, seasonal, vegetarian five-course, and tasting menus.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Elephants, Swans, and funny signs

I'm pretty sure this is a sign for "cooking school", but I think I prefer the American-interpretation!  
I'm gonna sign up for that workshop.  Another stylish custom paint-job on a bike in Delft
Painted elephants found everywhere in Amsterdam will be auctioned off to raise money for an elephant reserve.  
A swan family taking an afternoon swim in a Delft canal.
They make a lovely "whistling" sound.  Who knew?
I think the gray swans are the youngsters.....
The film crew has been shooting for 3 days in Amsterdam, Delft, and The Hague, sometimes moving back and forth between cities in one day.  This portion of the little project wrapped this evening, and we took the train back from Delft to Amsterdam, arriving at 10:15 pm.  I had no internet connection yesterday, despite efforts to locate a hot spot in Delft in multiple locations.  So much for good T-Mobile coverage in that area!  
Today was more of the same (no internet access) so I had to wait until we got back to our hotel room after dinner in Amsterdam.  The temperature has cooled off considerably since two days ago, so we are back to wearing layers.  
Tim is busily hanging our laundry (that he washed, I might add) up in our hotel room.  It looks like a tenement in here!  Everyone in Amsterdam will be thankful that my black skirt and leggings are going to be clean when I hit the streets tomorrow.  Ha!  I bought a light-weight black wraparound skirt in LA this summer and it has been a big hit on this trip:  it layers well over leggings (or black tights) and many shirts, as well as under a dress that is constructed of similar black fabric and I wear as a long tunic.  I brought some black slacks that I haven't worn since I was in New York moving my daughter into her dorm.  
Today I took a ton of photos in the various spots where we spent time, and also spent some time sketching.  I was disappointed in myself for not bringing a graphite pencil.  I didn't bring much in the way of art supplies because I didn't have room, but I really pined for a pencil.  I wanted to take some rubbings in the Old Church in Delft, but Tim was concerned that the guy who overseas the building might frown on it.  Since they were filming I decided not to rock the boat in any way.  Oh!  how I wanted some of that script!  The crypt covers on the floor were mostly too dimensional to take rubbings, but the lettering was a different matter.  I'll post more photos of the stonework in a later entry.
I spent some time playing with two little kids from Houston out on Market Square in Delft.  They were running around playing tag and I struck up a conversation with them (ages 4 and probably 6-7).  Their parents eventually came over to see if I was someone they should worry about-ha!  The father is a pilot with Continental and they were in the Netherlands vistiing his brother, who was transferred to The Hague with an international company.  I enjoyed talking to them very much.  The father said, "Come on kids, you shouldn't bother her (me), and they replied, 'It's okay, dad.  She's nice and she likes us!'".  Too cute!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Amstel Canal

houseboats line both sides of the Amstel canal
The houseboats interest me a great deal:  many have patio gardens on the deck, hammocks, and political signs.  Many (most) have residential mailboxes in front, as well as bikes parked nearby.  What an interesting life it must be to live this close to water level!


The film crew outside the Rembrandt House, then later in a cafe.  The weather is much cooler today:  perfect for this sort of activity.

Barnacle Bike and Bee

Guess what got hauled out of a Delft canal today?! looks like a scary haunted barnacle bike
I had a little companion helping me with my honey this afternoon.
I was glad he was enjoying himself because I wasn't eating it!
Here are a few more photos from the day's wanderings.  My feet are tired and happy.
Several people have inquired about the one-bag travel idea.  I'm including a link to a great resource for this idea.  I don't pack exactly like this site recommends, but I have used many of the resources on this site.  As to the packets of Woolite:  I found mine in a local travel/outfitter store.  I have also resorted to dilute shampoo out of desperation at times.  I carried a "quick dry" towel on this trip which has been extremely helpful in removing moisture from just-washed clothing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Amsterdam, Den Haag, and Delft marathon

I'm simply at a loss to explain what is happening to my photo uploading skills in Blogger.  Please forgive the disorganization of the images to subtitles.  The first image is of a 16th century glass window; 2) riding on the tram in Amsterdam; 3) carved window casing; 4) wonderful door hinge in Delft; 5) canal in Delft with the Old Church in the distance.
Today was a marathon of movement through the Netherlands to do location scouting for Tim's project.  It was very warm, probably in the high 80's, which I can tell you I wasn't prepared for in my packing!
Let's just say that I was "glowing" quite a bit throughout the day, shall we?  By the time we returned to our hotel this evening I had that horrid "salt-crust" feeling.  I did sink-laundry immediately after my husband did his, and that shower never felt so good!  I really should take a photo of what our room looks like after we do laundry:  hilarious!
 A number of Tim's employees arrived today for the trade show so there are more jet-lagged Texans in the area.  

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sculpture in The Hague, back to Amsterdam & the Van Gogh Museum

detail of outdoor installation in Den Haag
This is one of two similar sculptures
I assume they commemorate the Holocaust, but have been unable to find any specific info about them
plaque inside the Van Gogh Museum.  The last sentence is riveting to me!
Self-portrait in front of the easel (1888)
Who says Van Gogh didn't have a sense of humor?
We returned to Amsterdam early this afternoon from Delft.  After checking into the hotel we met with a friend and toured the Van Gogh Museum.  I don't suppose I will ever tire of seeing these paintings.
I get goosebumps when standing before many of them.  The museum displays the paintings in a fashion that allows the viewer to see and understand the progression of the work, and also to understand significant events in the artist's life.  His brother, Theo, had a profound influence on his work and this is quite evident in the exhibit.  To stand before these paintings, I think to myself, "I'm standing in the same approximate place the artist would have stood while working on this painting".  To see the brush-strokes of these paintings is indescribable.  There is, quite simply, nothing like it.  No print can do justice to these paintings.  
Wiki entry on Vincent Van Gogh:
More info on the Van Gogh museum:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday, September 7th: Den Haag

Coming in for a water-landing, and splashdown!

"tape art" on the street

a couple demonstrates the Argentinian Tango
After spending the night in our 2nd Delft hotel we arose, had breakfast, and caught the train to Den Haag (The Hague) to visit two museums:  Mauritshuis and The Escher.  Mauritshuis is more than Johannes Vermeer paintings, but that was what we were focused on.  "Girl with A Pearl Earring", probably the most famous in the collection, always had a crowd.  "A View of Delft" was on the opposite wall of the same room.  It was great to view the painting today, when yesterday I was standing upon the spot where the house Vermeer created the painting in once stood!  I was so pleased that we had time to walk down the street and spend time in the Escher Museum.  I didn't allow adequate time for both museums when I came last year.  It is always a thrill to view art created by one of your favorites, and Escher is someone I admire greatly.  To view such a comprehensive collection of his work was very special, indeed.
We noted that there was some sort of festival just outside the Escher museum, so after leaving the museum we wandered around.  A large stage with a variety of performers was close to the museum.
At first, I thought it was a rock concert, but when we left the museum there were 2 dancers on stage.  
As we wandered we saw children playing, puppeteers, dancers demonstrating their specialty, etc..
I think we were seeing a performing arts fair, with professionals demonstrating their craft as well as the schools that taught them.  Alongside this was a flea market similar to what we saw yesterday in Delft, but with less street food.
Later, we sat outside and listened to a small jazz trio, then wandered down another street and managed to find our way into an exquisite restaurant.  We really did well:  the food was outstanding.
The day was partly cloudy and cool:  perfect!  After dinner we took the train back to Delft.  Tomorrow we will travel back to Amsterdam.