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.

Rock&Roll uncles

Every family has one: an uncle with a rock & roll lifestyle. They’re always your mom’s or dad’s youngest brother, men who can’t find their place in life and thus have all sorts of odd jobs and odd friends.
And the rock & roll uncles always die (too) young. Sooner or later, their lifestyle catches up to them.

ingiechan‘s died more than a year ago. Mine, named Hans, died before I was born (my second name comes from his name, and I have a younger cousin who is named after him as well) — he died in a car accident two years before I was born. I am a fair bit older now than he was when he died too.
My parents told me some stories about him — how he had loads of women after him, and that he even came to visit my parents to elude all the female attention. Of how he loved fast cars…

He is buried in Mook, where his parents used to live, which is really close to Nijmegen. My mom had visited the graves of my grandparents and Hans some time ago, and they were pretty neglected. She asked me to help her with Hans’ grave, because it had been completely overgrown by ivy that had gone completely out of hand.
It was quite hard work to get rid of the mass of roots at the foot of the grave. As I got deeper and deeper, I wondered what I was going to find… But it didn’t come to that — most of the roots have been dug up and now that space is occupied by more well-behaved plants.

It was a bit… surreal. I was digging at the grave of my uncle I never knew, from whom I got my second name. And my grandfather was buried three rows further — that is from whom I got my first name. If this were the middle ages, it would serve well as a memento mori.