My sister has been making glass art for a few years now. She has three ovens (one of which is in their vacation home) and has been making all kinds of things: sometimes figurative, sometimes abstract, sometimes purely decorative but also things like trays and vases.
She was coming to the Netherlands for over the Easter break, and she brought the smallest oven and some of her supplies. We went there on the Monday to work on some projects!

The material to work with

She has worked out a technique to make ‘murini’, small rods of glass with a pattern. These can be used to make things like ‘millefiori’ (literally: thousand flowers), something that Murini, the glass-makers island of Venice is famous for.
I had thought long and hard on what to make, and I decided on making a little Estus flask, from Dark Souls. It’s the healing item, and it’s a flask filled with a yellow and red glowing liquid. My sister cut out a flask shape out of transparent glass, and I would put all kinds of dots and smaller pieces of glass on there. By baking it really hot, I’d get a ‘full fuse’ and get a single sheet of glass with all those colors in. Then on a second firing, the flask shape would be made round so that you could set it upright.

I’d pick up a dot and glue it in place with a tiny, tiny bit of hobby glue — that would burn off in the oven anyway, but the important thing was that it would keep in place when handling the unfired item.

Work in progress.

It requires a bit of concentration, but I got the routine down. We had some smaller pieces of glass left, and we made a few ‘dots plates’ and other items too.

Some of the other items we made that day.

It’s kinda weird to have a thing that gets to 800 degrees Celcius on your living room floor, but the oven is quite well insulated so it doesn’t get stupidly hot outside. Firing the glass takes about 24 hours.

My Estus flask after the first firing. Apparently there is a spot that got ‘devitrified’, and my sister didn’t have the tools with her to rectify that, so the item is now in Denmark for that. There will be a second firing to make it round, too.
I like how it looks, but I think I should have used a lot less green and blue. But maybe there will be a second one in the future…

One of the little ‘dots plates’ we made. I like how it’s a little colourful mosaic, but since it was fired on ‘full fuse’, it’s all smooth.

It was a lot of fun. Perhaps, when we visit Denmark in the future, we’ll do more of it.

I had heard good things about the new Dune movie, but I didn’t think I’d have the stamina to sit through a movie that’s almost three hours! But earlier this month, my father turned 81, and he wanted to go see the new James Bond movie — which is of comparable length. My mom asked me to take him, because she is not a Bond fan at all. I agreed: it would be fun to do something one-on-one with my dad, and it would get him out of the house.
However, logistically there were some challenges: he is almost blind — so would he be able to see anything meaningful? And with the length of the movie, we wanted to get an afternoon showing, so as to not make things too late. And since he can’t walk all that well, we also needed to find a cinema close to a parking spot. The Vue cinema in Eindhoven satisfied all the criteria, so that’s where we went.
Of course, we had to present our proof of vaccination, which is a QR code that, when scanned with the accompanying app, shows your initials and birthmonth. Very few places actually check these (so you could use someone else’s code), but here they asked for an ID so they could match this info. The lady scanning our phones saw that my father walked with two walking sticks and had some trouble moving around when searching for his ID, and she asked if we would rather use the elevator to go upstairs (where the screens are). Of course we would: the alternative was an escalator, which is kinda scary when you have to step onto it when you don’t see that well… But since the elevator was roped off because it was not part of the walking route, we needed some help to get there.
The lady simply closed the entrance and walked with us towards the elevator. Maybe that’s a small thing for her to do, but it meant a lot to us that she was willing to let other customer wait until we were on our way up. Later that week, I used the complaint form to give her a compliment for that — and her boss waved it off as “of course we do that for our customers!” but it was clear they were really happy to receive such a compliment.

The movie itself was (very) long, but there was a break in between so I could go to the toilet and get a drink refill. And I wasn’t bored a single second — it didn’t feel like three hours! I’m not going to spoil anything about the movie, other than wonder who will be the main person in the next Bond movie. It was a very satisfying end.

So emboldened by my success with the Bond movie, I proposed to Klik to go see the new Dune movie. Which we did last Sunday, in an afternoon showing.

Spoiler Inside: Dune, old and new

The showing turned out to be without break, but there was so much going on that we didn’t even have time to check a watch! We were a bit disoriented when we emerged from the viewing, though…

It’s been quite a while since I posted here. But I don’t really have much to say, because not much has been happening.
We’ve started to relax our strict distancing a bit with our respective families. Klik has resumed her visits with her mother, but she does keep her distance (no hugs etc). And yesterday we visited my parents for a ‘garden date’: we sat at one end of the garden, they at the other. It was good to chat with them in person again, and we could also do a few chores for them that they are not equipped to deal with adequately anymore.

I’m playing in three online RPGs, and running one — that’s maybe a tad much, but so far I’m really enjoying this increased activity. Lots of fun with great people.

Other than that, most of the time we’re just playing Animal Crossing — I don’t seem to have the energy or focus for much more. I’m doing a lot of online stuff with it (mostly getting DIY recipes from villagers on other islands), and today we managed to get the coveted 5 star rating for our island! We might do a little video tour to show it off to our parents…

The past few years, the Rijksmuseum (‘State Museum’) in Amsterdam has been under heavy renovations. With only a skeleton collection, the museum was very generous with giving their pieces to other museums on display. But with the newly renovated museum in full operation again, it was time to call in the favours from those other museums and collections. The result is the exhibition of The Late Rembrandt.

Of course, the Rijksmuseum is best known for its collection of works by Rembrandt (most notably the Nachtwacht), but they are not the only museum that has a collection of Rembrandts. The exhibition focusses on the last years of Rembrandt’s life, when he developed a more… let’s say “impressionist” style. And it features works that have not left their spot for decades, but that they somehow managed to get on loan. The list of participating museums and collections is quite impressive.
So, all in all, a unique exhibition with works that will probably never be seen again together.

It’s just that I’m not much of a fan of Rembrandt — my tastes range more into modern art. But my father wanted to see this exhibition, and I thought it was a good reason to spend some time together after all his medical troubles. He rarely leaves the house without my mother, and it would be good for him to spend some time on things that interest him. klik also came with us.
We spent Sunday night at my parents’, and in the morning set off to Amsterdam. We parked near the museum (my father would pay the extortionist parking fees) and we set off.

I must say that my opinion of the works of Rembrandt has changed quite a bit. He is most known for his use of light in his paintings, and that could be seen in full effect in some of the larger works. The photo on Wikipedia does not do it justice, but The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis has really dynamic lighting. (And apparently it had not been moved from its spot in the Swedish National Museum since 1864 — until this exhibition…)
If you have even a passing interest in Dutch masters in general or Rembrandt in particular, then you should go see this exhibition. I’m glad we went, not only because we got to spend some quality time with dad. The rooms were quite busy though — even though everyone had tickets for entering during a 2-hour timeslot, and by the time we had seen everything, my dad was exhausted. We managed to get some lunch and then went back.


Yesterday I visited my parents. It’s become a bit of a tradition to do so when klik is on sesshin. And I still had my mum’s iPad lying around, and my dad had some configuration issues with his new laptop, so my visit was also practical.

We took the bicycles and went to the village center for some sort of art expo — sculpture by local artists. I was fun to wander around a bit and look at the scultures. Some where not my taste, others were intriguing. There was nothing that I would be willing to pay for, though.
But what is it with sculpture and female nudes? There were loads of images of women — some pregnant, some with their breasts emphasized, some with long hair… And there was only one male nude. What’s up with that? Why the obsession with the female figure? One artist even had only female figures, and nobody seemed to think that was kinda odd…

I also looked at a marble head of a woman, where diagonal lines ran through the face. Hard to describe, but it was a very ‘technical’ piece, and I enjoyed that. I looked at it from all sides (it’s three dimensional, after all). The lady that loitered around near those pieces (could have been the artist) asked me if I did sculpture as well. According to her, the way I looked at the pieces betrayed the view of a professional. Of course, I don’t do sculpture, and I told her so. She asked me if I did ‘anything else’, so I told her that I did a lot of bookbinding.
“Oh,” she said, “so nothing creative?”

That turned out to be the fastest way to end a conversation with me.

The hard thing about giving my parents tech support over the phone is that I don’t have access to the same applications as they do. So I have to search online for a description of the menus and screens of Outlook 2000, because I can’t (and won’t) run it myself. And if I don’t describe the steps one by one, it won’t get done correctly.

Signed copy

One of the things that’s always on my wishlist at the end of the year is the yearly bundle of Fokke & Sukke, a very popular Dutch newspaper comic (and syndicated into LJ through fokke_sukke).
My mom got me the book for Sinterklaas (which we always celebrate with Christmas) during a signing session by the cartoonist. He asked mom what my name was, and what things I liked. Mom said I liked Japan. So he drew this on the cover page:

I’m quite happy with my signed copy!

Family outings

We had thought of a plan to get ingiechan‘s grandma to the exposition of her work, then to swing by her parents in order to congratulate her sister who is celebrating her birthday this week.
Obviously, a lot of kilometers. When we proposed the plan to ingiechan‘s parents, their reaction was: “We’re in, but good luck getting Grandma to agree!” Apparently she feels she is imposing too much on others with things like travel — or something like that.

Grandma is 94, and is still living on her own. In a flat on the first floor — without an elevator. One time when we went to visit her, she was complaining she had to take two different types of medicine every day. I know people my age who take more medicines, but hey.

Anyway, I called her. She has a soft spot for me, apparently, because she readily agreed to go along with the plan. She did object that we would have to travel a lot, but I countered that it would be fun! Other than that, she was all in favor.

ingiechan‘s mother has threatened to use me to get grandma to go along with her plans.