Brussels, Art Nouveau, Musical Instruments Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Atop

I’ve been downsizing travel books this week.  They’re some of the hardest to let go, maybe because I equate releasing a travel book with releasing the possibility of going back to a place I loved touring.  This week I listed Rick Steves’ Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent on Amazon and it sold by the next morning. I love it that someone is going.

In honor of releasing books, I’ll post some photos from our 2015 trip to Belgium. That’s October 2015, in the days of innocence BB, Before Bombing.

On the first morning there, we walked up to the Musical Instruments Museum.

Brussels Belgium

Brussels, looking up the hill toward MIM, the Musical Instruments Museum…

Brussels Belgium, up the hill toward MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

It’s the one with a tower and a turret, on the left.

Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Art Nouveau splendor: MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Art Nouveau splendor: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments MuseumNow that we’re here, we can go atop —

Art Nouveau: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Here’s a view out from behind those Art Nouveau curves…

This Art Nouveau building was originally the “Old England” shops. It was designed by Paul Saintenoy, built in 1899.

View from atop: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

The view from atop MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

There’s a restaurant up top. Sam had the crème brûlée, and I became a person who takes pictures of our food.Crème brûlée at MIM, Brussels Musical Instruments Museum

Art Nouveau: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

More on MIM: gorgeous elevator and stairwell

Art Nouveau: Brussels Belgium, MIM, Musical Instruments Museum

Sam checks out the bagpipes… I’m still gaga over the architectural details.

Brussels Belgium, night view

What goes up must go back down the hill. This is a popular view… I love taking pictures of people taking pictures, especially when I can see their phone screens glowing…

Here’s the picture we all took from atop the steps —

Brussels Belgium tourist view

… and now it’s noon on a Wednesday, time for the next photo challenge. Why am I always late with the Weekly Photo Challenge?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Atop

More on MIM, and panoramic photos of the interior

Save

Cabin Fever, Cabinet Fever, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax

My fortune cookie said “Now is the time for peace in your life” but I can’t relax while I still have so many messy spots in the house. There’s still a long way to go from here to Hoarder Came Clean, but staying in on rainy days has been a big help. I’ll take every little victory I can.

My kitchen pantry cabinet went from piled up to somewhat organized… (in what universe do I need 3 boxes of cornstarch when I can’t remember the last time I used any?)

Kitchen Pantry Cabinet

Edited somewhat by the time I took this photo… and edited a bit more afterward.

Some pretty old stuff had migrated to the back — and why it was in the food cupboard is anyone’s guess. Here, for example, are the contents of a chocolate tin full of matches. My favorites here are like a story of my life.

Vintage matchbooks

Vintage matchbooks and boxes, and yeah, I’m pretty sure a matchbox won’t hold all my clothes.

Every place used to have matches to give away and apparently I liked to have them as souvenirs. Now I remember my onetime favorite Kansas City restaurants, long closed — The Souper, The Prospect of Westport; and restaurants from the UK, Athens, Amsterdam, New York City.  There’s Asti (NYC), where the waiters were opera singers and everyone waved white handkerchiefs and sang “arrivederchi Roma” when leaving. It might even still be there… ah, sadly, no, I just looked. It closed in 2000.

There are even matches from the Milgram’s grocery store chain, stores long since acquired. All this reminds me that I probably have a bigger collection of matchbooks somewhere. I presume they’ll show up in their own good time. As for now, I found a “lazy susan” in the basement and organized the cabinet so I can get to everything. I’m not sure what to do with all the matches. (Bonfire of the vanities?)

Here are my reorganized cabinets, upper and lower … oops, now I see I neglected to clear out the drawer between them. It’ll keep me entertained on the next rainy day.

Upper kitchen pantry-cabinet "after"They’re still too full. I’ll have to remember to cook from the pantry first, not from the grocery store. It’s past time to whittle down supplies. Meanwhile, I can relax a little, with one more corner at least semi-organized.

Lower pantry kitchen cabinet - "after"

Do you have any cabinets left to clean out? And can you relax until you do?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax

And for opera lovers, more on Asti

Save

Dragon Con and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify

I stared at these ladies for a while before it came to me — Lego Ghostbusters! It’s hard to get any more transmogrified than cosplay, so this week’s challenge gives me an excuse to share some photos from Dragon Con (Labor Day weekend in Atlanta).

Lego Ghostbusters at Dragon Con 2016

Lego Ghostbusters

Here’s one more for scale — dancing Lego Ghostbusters, not exactly high-stepping though.

 

Photo ops at Dragon Con 2016

Don’t get too close to the Transformer…

Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes from the Star Wars Cantena

Jivin’ to Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes from the Star Wars Cantena

Guinan from Star Trek TNG - Dragon Con 2016

And in a bar next door — Cheers from Guinan , Star Trek TNG

Dancers from the Sheraton Lobby

Dancers from the Sheraton Lobby

I could use some help identifying this ghost. (Pokemon, maybe?) Anyone know?

Ghostly costume

It was a little early then, but just right today — Happy Halloween!

Meanwhile, on the downsizing/remodeling front, house painters are here this week transmogrifying the exterior. But wait — it’s Halloween, maybe I should have waited a week. Those spider webs they cleaned off the windows could have served as decoration.

What are you wearing for Halloween?

 

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify

More on Dragon Con

2016’s Castleberry Hill Loft Tour, Coming Up Oct 22 (and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Local)

Atlanta locals, take note. It’s almost time for this year’s Castleberry Hill Loft Tour. Meanwhile, just for inspiration, here’s a mini-photo-tour from last year…

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015 - dining area

I love the rhyming lines in the stair railing and the chair backs.

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015

In the same home, with Sam checking out a window of the laundry room.

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015

A great idea for displaying a collection of vinyl…

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015

Can you tell the owner here also runs an art gallery?

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015 - mannequin and art

Another view — art? mannequin? hat-rack?

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015

Welcome now to more signs of my obsession with stairways…

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015

 

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015 - art and stairwell

Down one more stairway and out — back soon for this year’s tour.

Revisiting last year’s tour is wake-up call for me; I see that yet another year has passed and I still haven’t finished downsizing. If I’m going to get out of my house and find a new home in a condo, apartment, or loft by this time next year I’m going to have to focus. Meanwhile, on Saturday I’ll get another look at Castleberry Hill — an historic intown neighborhood,  interior brick walls, stairway angles, tall ceilings and gallery walls — all very appealing.

What do you think? Doesn’t a loft look like a great alternative?

More on the Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2016

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Local

Save

Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

The stresses of bathroom remodeling and personal access to H2O were getting to me, so what better way to make my peace with the element than to visit a watery refuge that doesn’t depend on plumbing…

Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge - heron

Life imitates Art – this heron blends in with the surroundings so well, it reminds me of Arts & Crafts wallpaper.

Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge - coots

These are coots – apparently they’re shy and I made too much noise approaching…

… because, next photo, here they are, fleeing. Still, they splash the H2O around nicely.

Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge - coots

The official beginning of migration season is coming up on October 15, so I got to Squaw Creek a little early.

Now, it’s time to get back home and splash in my own new tub.  Well, maybe not quite time, as you can see, this bath still needs some finishing. The counter-top will be ready in a couple of days, after that it’s get the sinks installed, the walls painted, and the rest of the cleaning up done.

hall-bath-img_1127

I’m just posting this “during” remodel photo in a blatant bid for sympathy… so how about it, are you sympathetic yet?

More on Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge:   “The refuge includes 7,440 acres of wetlands, grasslands, and forests along the eastern edge of the Missouri River floodplain.”

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

Surprise Lilies, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

Here’s a favorite flower that I just can’t seem to grow in Georgia. In the midwest we called them “surprise lilies” aka hardy amarylis.  Here’s a close-up —

Surprise Lilies/Hardy Amarylis

Surprise lilies, photo taken last week on a trip home to Northwest Missouri

And what’s so narrow about surprise lilies? You judge —

Surprise Lilies/ Hardy Amarylis

This clump is just beginning to bloom. And, they are fast growers. When we walked by the following day most of the new stems had shot up to the height of the old blooms.

Look Ma, no leaves. The foliage comes up in early spring and dies down shortly after, all about the time spring bulbs bloom. Then, surprise, in July or August the narrow flower stems pop up.

One reason I can’t grow them is that I can hardly ever find them for sale. But even when I think I have, I plant them and they never come up (and that’s no surprise any more, since I’ve tried several times). To me they’re an heirloom plant, a childhood memory and symbol of home.

I can’t complain too much, since right now I have a backyard full of phlox and four o’clocks and black-eyed susans, but a few surprise lilies in the mix would be comforting. Like the peonies and lilacs I got from my mother and grandmother, they don’t grow well here, and they’re now a potent memory of the yard I had in Kansas City. And, speaking of hoarding (which I hadn’t got around to mentioning yet), that yard was full of plants I hoarded, er, collected, all my life. I need to remember that even though I had to move on, the plants-of-my-life are still going/growing strong in yards all over the midwest, and I can still drop by and enjoy them.

Are you missing some favorite plants?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

More on Surprise Lilies

Leftover Foreign Currency, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare

Got any spare change?

Spare Change

Funny that they call it “currency” because it seems to go out of date pretty quickly.

I’ve been tidying up for quite a while now, but even though I’m heading for a spare (simple) environment, I still keep spares (extras) of useful things. What hadn’t occurred to me until I saw this photo challenge?   — Change… spare change that is. And when it comes to pre-euro European currency, I can vouch for the fact that nobody wants it.

Before our trip to England in May, I found a stash of British currency that must have been from the 1980s. I found more traveler’s checks too, and in pounds — bonus!. I was singing “We’re in the money…” but then, when we got there, we had to find someone who’d take the traveler’s checks (thank you Post Office).

Leftover currency from New Zealand

More leftovers. Bob had just a small amount left from a 1990s business trip to New Zealand.

I had enough English currency to be a welcome addition to trip expenses, but it did require side-trips to the bank to exchange it for current — ok, “up-to-date” — currency. The old stuff was no longer spendable. In the countries on Euro, only a few banks will still exchange old currency at all. Last fall I took some leftover Belgian francs to Brussels. We spent time looking for the right bank, then learned they’d take only the larger bills. Sam thought I was joking when I said that, after the transaction fee, there might be enough for coffee.  Now I’m still left with the coins and small bills that my frugal nature doesn’t allow me to just throw away.

Coins from pre-Euro Greece

Sometimes we ended up with extra cash and kept it, thinking “we’ll be back” — and sometimes we ended up with just a souvenir amount. This little packet (with a note in Bob’s writing) was all we had leftover from Greece.

Even though it’s easy to use credit cards now, there are times it’s still good to have some cash. Tipping the cleaning staff springs to mind — I always sympathize with the maids. And in the future I’ll remember that some airlines collect extras for charity, so I could donate on the way home and avoid the spare change problem.

And this post? Late again, because it seems the only thing I don’t have enough to spare is time.

What do you do with spare foreign coins?  I’m thinking I’ll declare mine art material. A travel collage might be interesting…

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare

P.S. Anybody remember Scrooge McDuck? — I’m starting to feel the urge to play in piles of coins…