London Without Kids – Wicked, the National Gallery, Tate Modern, and St. Paul’s

London Without Kids – Wicked, the National Gallery, Tate Modern, and St. Paul’s

One of the Things You Do while in London is go to a musical (although I’ve extracted a semi-promise from Tony that next time it will be a Shakespeare play). We picked Wicked. And Tony has been crushing on the Dutch actress who played Elphaba ever since. I liked it even more than I thought I would, and it’s been so highly recommended to me by so many people that I was expecting to like it a lot. It was a spectacular piece of theatre. I loved the opulent costumes and the steampunk feel of the sets.

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London Without Kids – The British Museum

London Without Kids – The British Museum

So far, London is spectacular. At least what I’ve seen of it, which is mostly the inside of the British Museum. Because let’s face it, we all know which person I am here:

It is entirely possible that I went straight there from the airport (having arrived at Heathrow shortly after eight in the morning), and stayed until I was literally shooed out at closing time. I also had to replace my audio guide when the battery died after several hours in the museum. So I guess I’ve confirmed my family’s suspicions on every vacation we take that I would just stay in that museum indefinitely if they didn’t drag me out.

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Tony’s First Tattoo

Tony’s First Tattoo

Yes, he did it. While we were in Malta. And it was the most romantic thing ever.

Because he did it on holiday, you might think that it was a spur of the moment (and possibly regrettable) decision. But he’s actually been planning and talking about this particular tattoo for years. So when he saw a snazzy looking tattoo shop just down the street from our AirBnB, he figured it was a sign. From the inside, the tattoo shop was even better. There’s so much of the weirdly wonderful going on here, from the guy sitting to the right–who is not a guy, but a ghost–to that piano/shrine/home bar with all the candles gloriously melted over it

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Malta – Valletta and the Knights of St. John

Malta – Valletta and the Knights of St. John

In 1530, Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, gave the Island of Malta to the Knights of St. John in exchange for a single falcon, to be paid annually to the Viceroy of Sicily. The falcon was a token. The real exchange was that the Knights would hold Malta as a strategic front against Turkish incursion into Europe. Did you know all this while growing up watching Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon? I did not.

Sunflowers for Van Gogh

Sunflowers for Van Gogh

I’ve already showed you some lovely examples of the Dutch obsession with flowers. And it goes beyond just having pretty gardens. In fact, 80% of the world trade in bulbs comes from the Netherlands (which is also the world’s top producer of onions; for the statistically minded, visit this website for more facts about the horticultural dominance of this tiny country). They also love to incorporate flowers into other events. Many of the floats at the Canal Parade were covered in flowers, and there is an annual 42 km Bulbflower Parade that we missed in a fog of jet-lag this April, but I’d like to attend next year.

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Drawing on Glass

Drawing on Glass

I think it’s time for an update on my drawing career. When last we met, I was turning off my left brain (aka the Monkey Mind) by drawing things upside down to let my gloriously creative and visual right brain take over the drawing. Here’s upside down Spiderman (although upside down is probably right side up for Spiderman). Raj and Axa were very impressed with this drawing.

And then here’s this drawing of a sixteenth century horse and rider, also drawn upside down, although it got a little blurry in the photograph.

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Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Well, I’ve become a believer. This Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain book is quite amazing. Yesterday I drew this:

OK, I know that looks weird. It’s upside down. But that’s how I drew it, per the book’s instructions. It’s a copy of this sketch of the composer Stravinsky by Picasso.

Here’s mine again, right side up this time.

Obviously, I’m no Picasso. But it’s the closest thing to an actual person that I’ve ever drawn in my life. Aside from the fact that I gave him a pinhead, he actually looks pretty good. And I’m reasonably certain I could never have drawn him this well right side up.

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Missing General Conference

Missing General Conference

Barely a day goes by when I don’t consciously think about how glad I am that we don’t attend the Mormon church anymore. Still, there are some things I miss. You can’t grow up in a faith without absorbing parts of it into your soul, and certainly into your memories and routines. This is the first time in my life that I haven’t tuned in to General Conference, the twice-yearly weekend where Mormons get together all over the world to listen to the words of the leaders of the Church, as spoken from Salt Lake City.

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Drawing on the Wrong Side of the Brain

Earlier this week, this fun set of drawing pencils arrived at my house.

It was waiting for me when I got home from work, and after the kids were in bed and Tony had left for his weekly Euro-gaming night, I opened it up and looked at everything in it. It seemed like an awful lot of different pencils, all marked with cryptic number and letter combinations.  I tried out a few, noting how the softer lead of some of them slid onto the paper so effortlessly. The charcoal looked fun too, but I’ve always hated how chalk or pastels feel in my hands, and had no desire to get black all over myself, although that eventually happened anyway, since I just had to try smudging the pencil lines with my fingers to see how the different hardnesses of graphite reacted.

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Taking up a New Hobby

I’m not sure if it’s the result of a midlife crisis, or just an expression of healthy personal growth, but I recently decided to take up painting. As you know, my inner artist has been mostly dormant since childhood, with only brief intervals of resuscitation. The latest of those happened thanks to my friend Ali, who invited me to go with him to a place called “Painting with a Twist.”

It’s kind of like those painting shows on T.V., except it’s live and they paint the painting right in front of you while you paint your own approximation of the painting along with the instructor. Here’s Ali, halfway through his painting:

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