Posts Tagged ‘new experiences’


Day Trip to Keukenhof.

May 20, 2010

I’ve been told that only old people and tourists go to Keukenhof. And while I do live in the Netherlands now, I’m still pretty much a tourist. And my mom, who visited me last week, was definitely a tourist.

So we went!

And I thought it was beautiful. We spent about 3 hours there, looking at flowers and sculptures and other people and that’s about it.

Oh, and we ate. But when do I go anywhere and not eat? I mean, really.

I have more pictures than I do stories from that day, so why don’t you come on in for both.



May 4, 2010

Like other areas of concentrated marine debris in the world’s oceans, it is thought, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents.

I learned my first big lesson in photography this week. I’ve read just about every Beginner’s Tips and Photography 101 website there is, and I had taken in the words that these sites printed, with their tongue-in-cheek lesson number 2 (after the number one tip of Take Your Camera Everywhere), but I didn’t really GET the lesson. Until Friday, April 30.


Queen’s Day.

Come inside to hear all about the biggest street party I may have ever seen.


First week of March.

March 8, 2009

This week was an active one. Monday night was German class. Tuesday night was Krav Maga (this class’ highlight was the moment just before we adjourned when we formed two rows and walked one by one down the center, at which point everyone else pummeled the chosen one as hard as possible. Lovely!). I just wish that both of those classes were more than once a week! We cover so much in that 90 minutes or 2 hours; just imagine what we could accomplish with twice that.

Wednesday night, we headed to London to celebrate my cousin Josh’s birthday. Then Thursday night, I attended a presentation on Zaytoun olive oil, during which I heard why one Palestinian man would prefer we fight for his cause by trading with his people instead of merely giving handouts (“a future with dignity,” he called it). I did my part! Bought olive oil, herbs, soap, and almonds.

Friday night, I did NOTHING, and it was glorious. Oh, except make stuffed peppers, which took three hours. One hour of prep, and two of cooking. I am clearly quite dedicated.

Yesterday was the best night of the week though. We attended an International Women’s Day celebration at RISC. My friend, Alice, had a part in the evening’s festivities. She was throwing a spontaneous tea party for the crowd. Spontaneous for us, not for her. She put a lot of thought into it beforehand! She made chocolate cake, lemon muffins, and had to bring enough dishes to serve dozens of people. (There were a couple hundred people in attendance, but not all of them sat for tea. I did, and I don’t even like tea. I do, however, like chocolate cake and my friend, Alice.)

Her classmate, Lucy, also had an exhibit. She had a room set up of framed, semi-transparent paper, backlit by spotlights. The idea was that females would place their body parts (any body part – the frames were at different heights so you could show off your shoulders, or lay down and do your back, or sit and use your legs) behind the frames and see what landscapes get created. Alice demonstrated for me, and the ruffles on her apron created the neatest little houses on the hill of her hip. It was daunting at first to participate, but once I gave in, it proved to be quite fun. My curves are pretty, haha.

There were also performers. The MC was a magician on the side, so she threw in illusions between acts. There was one singer/songwriter who was painfully amateur, so I won’t be linking her myspace! There was a gospel singer, who doubled as a comedienne. We did miss one of the headliners – a 63-year activist/poet/raver who apparently fit the exact mold of the feminist that send men and prim and proper girls running. Poetry about periods, mostly. There was also the Reading Gay Chorus, and I don’t know if the group comprises lesbians alone, or if they kept their gay men at home since this was a celebration of women. They were…enthusiastic.

During their performance, there were a couple of women in the crowd who were singing along, and I daresay they were attempting to outsing the chorus. I looked at Michael and said, “Isn’t that weird?” And he replied, “What? EVERYTHING?” He said he felt like Don Draper hanging out with his mistress’ crowd in Mad Men.
(“How do you sleep at night?” “On a bed made of money.”)

The best performance of the night, though, was by Invocal, a trio dressed in Victorian fashion (cellist), in lingerie (singer), and as Johnny Depp in…any Johnny Depp movie, really (guitarist). Their voices were superb, and their songs were funny as hell. One song was about the guitar player’s childhood, which she called quite idyllic. She described the farmland and the hills surrounding her house. Then she clued us in to the title of the song, which was, “Treachery, Conspiracy, and Doom.”

I was actually a part of the fun though! One artist’s piece in the exhibit involved a patchwork of local women with the names of women that they admire. And my picture and choice was in it! I took a picture to show you all.


Do you see what I see?



Irish Whiskey

March 1, 2009

If I had to pick my favorite moment in Dublin, it was probably not my actual run in St. Stephen’s Green, but the half hour following, when I explored Iveagh Gardens, on the recommendation of the guy behind the counter at the hostel. My SECOND favorite moment, however, was the tour of the Jameson Distillery. And they got a new customer out of it, or rather, 1.5 new customers. Whiskey has always been my liquor of choice, but I still end up turning to wine most often. Michael, however, loved the stories and whiskey samples I brought home, so he’s purchased two bottles in the past six weeks, and ordered it when we’ve gone out to dinner. Considering they charged me for the tour as well, I’d say Jameson’s business model hit a home run with me.

It was again the boy behind the counter at the hostel who pointed us in the right direction, for we knew going in that we’d be visiting the Guinness Storehouse, but since I was stopping at reception to rent a towel anyway, I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask what else we needed to hit while in town. And the guy, I think his name was Steve, offered his opinion that the Jameson tour was actually more fun. My traveling companion voted to skip the distillery because she doesn’t like whiskey, but then, since it is my favorite liquor, we decided to go. And when the tour guide asked for some volunteers, a leprechaun must have grabbed my hand and held it up because I realized immediately that I was going to be in over my head – I was going to participate in a taste test…with no mixers. I love whiskey, but I love it with Coke! I’ve had to return to bars before and ask them to weaken my drink! So I’m not quite sure what possessed me to agree to drink THREE different brands, all of them neat. But agree to it I did. Can you see the apprehension?


The three brands I compared were Jameson (so smooth and warm) to Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch (the only one I couldn’t finish) to Jack Daniels (which I normally drink, and no WONDER I have to put a lot of Coke in it!). I almost feel like I was brainwashed on the tour. But Jameson really was the best. And just for saying so, we got another Jameson for dessert.

So yes, we did continue onto the Guinness Storehouse after Jameson. Not even 1 in the afternoon and I’m already a bit tipsy. When in Rome, right?


And in my hand there is my bag from the store at Jameson. Not only are we buying their whiskey for our after-dinner drinks, but we’re drinking it out of Jameson tumblers.

I wonder if good ol’ hostel worker Steve is getting any kickbacks for that seemingly sincere recommendation! Not that I mind – I have to say that he was right. Jameson was more fun than Guinness. It was smaller, and it was guided. So it was easier to stay focused on the information being presented to you. Guinness was a little overwhelming. Fine, fine, and I didn’t like the free alcohol at the end of that tour as much as Jameson’s.

To round out the post, I’m going to throw in one last picture of me, but this is in Oxford. Not that you can tell it’s a different day, different country; I’m wearing the same uniform of coat, jeans, and Chucks. But it relates back to the previous two pictures because:
a) I’m wearing my Ireland hat in it
b) I’m seconds away from having a drink in it.


The drink was actually unplanned. When we walked into that alley, we had no idea what was on the other side, but it was just too enticing to NOT walk down it. Well, on the other side, there was a bar. It was called the Turf Tavern, and there had been a drinking hall on that spot since 1381. 1381! I can’t even think of anything clever to say!

So I’ll leave you with the sign from the beer garden of the Turf Tavern instead. A horribly worded sign, but fun nonetheless.



Krav Maga

February 18, 2009

Last night was my first Krav Maga class. I attended a beginner’s induction two weeks ago, but this time, I was thrown in with the masses. There were about…30 people there, and only two of us were girls. (And I’m not allowed to wear jewelry during practice, so I had no wedding ring on. I felt quite naked without it! I forget how much I rely on it to broadcast that I’m NOT INTERESTED.)

At one point, we took turns punching each other in the stomach.  Punching.  Each other.  In the stomach.

Even stranger, however, was the moment during a later drill when the teacher turned off the lights.  I stopped and waited.  My partner urged me to keep going, to continue fighting him in the dark.  He made the very good point that if I ever do get attacked, it is quite likely to be at night, so it only makes sense to practice that way.  It definitely freaked me out.

I’m taking classes with the Institute of Krav Maga UK, and so far (two whole weeks!), they’ve treated me well. The beginner’s induction class was in another town (centrally located to all of Thames Valley), but as I have no car, it was not that convenient of a location for me. I called the director, whom at that time I had never met, and he arranged for me to get a ride with the instructor.  Which meant that the very first action I took to participate in a self-defense class was to get into the car with a stranger.  For that reason, I dragged Michael along.  Although he of course made the point that if an expert in Krav Maga decided to attack me, Michael would probably not really be able to stop him.

I’m quite excited about taking my safety into my own hands though.  I only wish I could learn it all straightaway.  A 90-minute class once a week means it’ll be rather slow-going.  Regardless, I feel stronger already.  Not physically stronger (yet!), but more mentally aware and just…in control.