Archive for August, 2009

My ‘Dam Vacation Kicks Off

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by Yarn Over New York

After nearly six full months of intensive training and formation, the City of Dreams Project was ready for a VACATION!  Many people opted to go straight home to their countries of origin, others of us decided to see what else Europe had to offer.

Marshall, Emily (his sister) and Mike (her husband) headed to Amsterdam on the morning of my official last day of work.  In the evening, I hopped on a train to meet them in the “Venice of the North.”

dam fun

'dam fun

The next day, summer was in full swing and the sun was shining.  We decided to (eek!) rent bicycles to explore the city and see Vondelpark.  Now, I only learned how to ride a bike a few years ago for Burning Man and am not the most comfortable rider.  Amsterdam is famous for its crazy (read: kamikaze) cyclists and I was too petrified to bike on my own there.  However, this did not stop us.  Emily and Mike each rented a normal adult bike and Marshall and I hopped on a cute red tandem.

tandam bike

tan'dam bike

Our first stop was Museumplein, home to the Van Gogh museum, Rijksmuseum, the Concertgebouw and, of course, the i amsterdam sculpture.  We climbed all over the giant letters and Marshall did a handstand.

damstand

'damstand

The next stop was Vondelpark for some monkey business.

I am hidden behind some dam leaves

I am hidden behind some 'dam leaves

Somehow, we made it back to return our bikes in one piece.  Marshall and I banged up our knees a little on the low handlebars of the tandem and I vowed to learn to ride a bike good enough to survive traffic in the future.  (Please do note that for the remainder of our travels together when Marshall wanted to ride a bike, he went off on his own and I sunned myself on the beach.)

Emily had heard of a “museum” called House of Bols.  It is a sensory overload that takes you through the history of Bols Genever (which is kind of like gin, but not exactly) and Bols Liqueurs.  There is music, there is video, there is a rainbow hallway where you sniff flavors from little perfume bottles and there are the requisite free drinks.

rainbow hallway with dam funhouse mirror

rainbow hallway with 'dam funhouse mirror

Emily takes a sniff from the mystery bottle

Emily takes a sniff from the 'dam mystery bottle

Once they ply you with 1 free cocktail and 2 free shots, they send you into the “Flair Booth” to test your bartending skills ala “Cocktail.”  Marshall and I might not be Tom Cruise, but I think we got some skills.  See our video here.

During our wandering Marshall noticed that the Amsterdam Yellow Clog in Dam Square was missing!   However, the next day on our way to the Van Gogh Museum, we found it in another part of the city.

Marshall and the dam yellow clog

Marshall and the 'dam yellow clog

All in all, our short trip to Amsterdam was lovely and a nice way to end Emily and Mike’s visit to Europe.  More photos here.

And I leave you with a photo of a bird for Elise.

Elise can you identify this dam bird for me?

Elise can you identify this 'dam bird for me?

I Hate Nature and I Love Olde English Comedy

Posted in funny with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by Yarn Over New York

Okay, I don’t personally hate nature.  In fact, I like it quite a lot.  I like to explore it and photograph it.  But more than that, I like to watch it on TV.  One of my favorite TV series is the BBC’s Planet Earth.  I like it so much that when I packed up my life to move across the pond, the only DVDs I brought were Planet Earth and the Blue Planet.

However, I want to promote a young comedy troupe started by a few former students of mine at Bard College.  They are witty and funny, they are Olde English Comedy.

Here are two videos for you to enjoy.

Ducks, naturally

Posted in funny, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by Yarn Over New York

Several years ago I made the bold prediction that same sex marriage would be totally legal and recognized in the United States by the year 2010.  I was hopeful; I was positive it could/ would/ should happen.  Although I think I may have been a few years ambitious with my prediction, it will happen and it has started to happen.  Despite setbacks like Prop 8, several states are changing their legislatures to allow and recognize same sex unions.

Dark blue=legal, medium and light blue=some restrictions

Dark blue=legal, medium and light blue=some restrictions

I am proud to say, that I currently live in a country where same sex marriage has been legal for more than 6 years.  In Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, and Sweden a marriage between any two partners is equally recognized.  Many other countries have civil union laws similar to marriage and are showing America and the world that marriage is a human right for all not just for the heteros!

blue=same sex marriage legal; yellow=under consideration; red=not legal

blue=same sex marriage legal; yellow=under consideration; red=not legal

Other countries that recognize gay marriage: Canada, Australia, South Africa, Nepal, Israel. (not necessarily a complete list)  Many others are working towards legislation to recognize or perform same sex unions.

In response to recent legislation in New England, Pat Robertson made the following [insane] comments.

In response to his ludicrous statements equating homosexuality to bestiality, the comic duo of Garfunkel & Oates wrote a beautiful song called Sex with Ducks.  Which you can download for your listening pleasure here.  Or watch the video below.

yeah, ducks . . .

yeah, ducks . . .

Planckendael Zoo (including Name That Bird edition 5)

Posted in Life in Belgium, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2009 by Yarn Over New York

Exqi (the documentarians) planned a trip the Planckendael Zoo in Mechelen for our group.  About 20 of us (artists, technicians, and families) met early on Sunday (19 April) to take a boat to the large zoo/ animal park.

Once at the zoo, we split into groups and wandered around the park (trailed by a camera crew, of course).  All in all, it was a really fun day.  We got to see lots of cool animals and birds (Elise can name them for you).

A rare specimen indeed

A rare specimen indeed

Upon request from the camera crew, we played in this boat.  (Andy, Lidia, Me)

Upon request from the camera crew, we played in this boat. (Andy, Lidia, Me)

Lazy Camel

Lazy Camel

Gibbons!

Gibbons!

There were also two BABY giraffes, but I didnt really get a good picture

There were also two BABY giraffes, but I didn't really get a good picture

Now for the birds.  Go Elise!

There were in fact more birds and more animals.  Find them here.

Countdown to Vacation . . . or when the Bubble Bursts

Posted in Life in Belgium, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2009 by Yarn Over New York

After our four day holiday when I visited Prague, things at The Bubble (as we affectionately call our home/ studio) started to heat up.  We were prepping for our final presentation to show the bigwigs what we’ve been working on.  We were prepping to move out and head home or wherever.  We were working like crazy with longer and longer hours.  We were also still trying to have as much fun as possible.

A rousing game of football

A rousing game of football

As the evenings grew longer and longer, we started hanging out on the Terrace more and more often.  Just to share a beer or two after a long day.  As mentioned, we all live and work in same building.  Therefore to talk to one another, we just stick our heads out of the window.

The sunsets got later and later but kept on being beautiful.

We still had time to make a few quick trips to nearby places.

Sailing with the Doctor

Our Clinic Doctor invited a group of us to join him and his friends on a sailing trip on the Oosterschelde.  It was WINDY and COLD but we managed to have fun.  We sailed until we got to a small town (I forgot to write down the name and now I have totally forgotten).  We walked around the town and then stopped for a lunch time treat.

After lunch and a quick handstand from Marshall, we were all revitalized enough to sail back home.

I even got to drive (steer, sail, whatever) a little bit!

I even got to drive (steer, sail, whatever) a little bit!

More photos from the Dutch sailing trip can be found here.

Visit to Oostende and the Three Masted Ship

On the first of June, a large group of us (including the ever-present documentary team from Exqi) went on a trip  to the Belgian town of Oostende to visit the Mercator, a three masted ship.

Me, Marshall, Anne-Caroline and Anaelle at our brief stopover in Ghent

Me, Marshall, Anne-Caroline and Anaelle at our brief stopover in Ghent

The ship serves as a museum and you can view the crew quarters, infirmary and mess hall.

A nice collection of sailing knots

A nice collection of sailing knots

For some reason, no one cared that our acrobats went a little crazy crawling and climbing all over the boat.  (And the documentarians loved  it, of course.)

Beata, Janusz and Klodi climb

Beata, Janusz and Klodi climb

Godfrey is Superman

Godfrey is Superman

Janusz puts Beata down the tube

Janusz puts Beata down the tube

I try to rescue her

I try to rescue her

After the ship, we split up to explore the town and grab some lunch.

Marshall, Aya, Anaelle, Anne-Caroline and her sister eat some seafood

Marshall, Aya, Anaelle, Anne-Caroline and her sister eat some seafood

More Oostende photos here.

Still to come our last few nights at the Bubble!

La Femme Cactus Meets the Mother-in-Law

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, funny, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by Yarn Over New York

To refresh your memory(ies), a few months ago I was wandering around the city center of Brussels and a man called me “La Femme Cactus” because I was wearing a furry yellow hat and wearing a long green skirt.  I guess I did kind of look like a cactus.

As I was alone that day, the only evidence of my cactushood is in this car window reflection portrait.

As I was alone that day, the only evidence of my cactushood is in this car window reflection portrait.

As my mother remarked, I do wear that hat a lot.  I crocheted it a few years ago during the HORRIBLY cold winter of 2006.  It’s furriness keeps my head warm especially when I have little-to-no hair.

I wear this hat so often, sometimes you think there are two of me.

I wear this hat so often, sometimes you think there are two of me.

As my friend Scott once commented, “That hat is amazing.  It’s so yellow that you don’t even realize that there’s orange in it at first.”  But do not worry folks, there is indeed orange in this hat.  And green and purple and blue.  But I digress.

Not me, but it is my hat. (Not Scott either, sorry)

Not me, but it is my hat. (Not Scott either, sorry)

At the botanical garden in Uppsala, Sweden, I discovered the cactus that I most resemble when wearing my lovely hat.  It is called “Mother-in-Law’s Seat.”  (Ouch!)

I guess you can see the family resemblance.

photo by Tomek Rossa

photo by Tomek Rossa

Swedish Language Lesson

Posted in European Summer Adventure 2009, funny, Travel Europe with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2009 by Yarn Over New York

As an amateur linguist and frequent traveler, I make an effort to learn a little of the local language wherever I happen to be.  Sometimes I learn quite a bit and sometimes just enough to handle the basics.  Here in Stockholm, I have learned a few things that have thrown me for a loop.

The Swedish word for “hello” is “hej,” which is pronounced “hey.”  Not that strange, you might think, but every time I walk into an establishment, I am greeted with “hej.”  My first thought is always, “Do I know you?”  To my American ear, it sounds so casual, like I am being greeted by a friend.

And to add another layer of language weirdness, “thank you” is “tack” which sounds exactly like “tak” in Polish which means “yes.”  My head is spinning.

But my favorite word of all is “hiss” which means elevator.

Cant you hear the doors closing with a . . . Talk about onomatopoeia.

Can't you hear the doors closing with a . . . Talk about onomatopoeia.