Thursday, February 28, 2008

April 2008 Activity -- Facial Yoga

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Face-Val-U facial yoga class
Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel
1330 Maryland Avenue, SW DC
Cost: $35 per person

For the second time in Dilettante history, we had a guest dilettante. Amanda's friend from Indonesia (and former member of the Indonesian Parliament -- seriously), Tanti. (Ergo, she will be heretofore known as, "Dilettanti.")

At the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Spa, we were taken into the gym area where we met our instructor, Val. She wasn't big on the warm fuzzies and just jumped right into the class, which was pretty cool. We all sat on Swiss balls facing a mirror for the duration of the class, so that we could watch our posture and our faces as we learned to isolate and work each facial muscle.

Her non-sugar-coated assessment of each of us:

Amanda "Mean Munchkin" Lonsdale: Sounds like she represents the lollipop guild when trying to talk with her tongue in the roof of her mouth (a strengthening exercise). Also, she never smiles and is apparently a total pessimist based on the lengthy "Can't never could" lecture she received after she said that she could not do one of the exercises.

Dilettanti: Has small eyes and bags underneath them. (Which probably has nothing to do with the fact that she's Asian and had recently flown in from Indonesia.)

Kathleen "Crow's Feet" Canedo: Pretty self-explanatory -- although I do prefer "laugh lines" and sue me if I don't worry too much about these and actually kind of like my face advertising that I like to laugh

Nicole "Jowls" Bono: Needs to work on her jawline so that she does not develop flappy jowls down the road. (The dilettante consensus was that Nicole should introduce herself to her new Ashburn neighbors as "Jowls Bono" so they don't mess with her.

Amy "Droopy" Schirmer: Has to open her eyes much bigger and wider so the upper lids don't droop.

We went through many facial exercises that came with theatrics such as pretending we were snooty toots, talking like we were from West Virginia and South Carolina, and rubbing balls on our faces (hee hee -- she said "rubbing balls on our faces.")

She also taught us how to do some everyday things more elegantly. These tips included how to drink properly from a glass and through a straw and how to walk in a more feminine and sexy way (and repeatedly commended Amanda on her superior butt action -- which, combined with her lollipop guild voice probably makes for some interesting encounters for her husband). All of these things help work muscles and improve posture. She mentioned that walking properly would get a lot of construction workers to take notice...funny -- we always thought that a pulse was all that was required.

The hour class stretched into an hour and a half because she was having such a good time. We wrapped up by slapping ourselves silly all over our bodies.

So, some good tips that we can probably implement just by being more aware of them. But also a lot of tips that I cannot see anyone spending a considerable amount of time is just to short and botox is just too available.

March 2008 Activity -- Photo Safari

March 30, 2008
Photo Safari -- Afternoon Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin
3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Cost: $54/person
This photo safari promised photography instruction during the peak of the cherry blossoms. We were to meet in the late afternoon to take advantage of the late afternoon sun at the FDR Memorial and then to move with the sun behind us along the Tidal Basin toward the Jefferson Memorial.

We met for lunch before the activity -- at Cafe du Parc next to the Willard Hotel. With one preggo, one sickie, and one open-house-haver-that-day, it was a much drier dilettante meal than usual. We made up for it in cheese. Prolly some of the best onion soup, ever. There was a bit of a lengthy discussion about things that should not go in (certain body parts) that was pretty hilarious. We had such a nice, lesiurely lunch (er, dejeuner) that we lost all track of time (er, merde!). So we hailed a cab -- which was all but slowed to a stop for the short drive over to the FDR Memorial -- Cherry Blossoms and Cherry Blossom Traffic were in full bloom. Amanda called the instructor from the cab to let him know we were we got there about 15 minutes late, only to see that everyone else in our class had schmancy cameras with huge lenses. The four of us with our point-and-shoot numbers felt a little red-faced at first, but our instructor assured us that he could teach us to take better pictures even with those cameras.

The instructor, E. David Luria was funny and cool and had some great tips including:
1. Hold the camera correctly (holding with two hands makes for a steadier camera and a better picture)
2. Get CLOSE! (don't think you need everything in a shot -- focus on what's important and move in)
3. Mind the composition (place the elements of the photograph in a way that makes the photograph interesting.
4. Determine the best angle and time of day for shooting.
5. Keep your verticals as straight as possible.

Ansel Adams Lonsdale took to this activity like (insert funny analogy here). Once our instructor assured her that she was not SOL due to dead batteries (yes, Ansel -- they do sell camera batteries in DC -- a place known to attract a camera-toting tourist or two), she was on fire. She was a bit show-offy, what with her black and whites and sepia tones and all, but the woman can take a picture. Amy cornered the market on the composition aspect of things...pointing to the perfect shot of a kindly gentleman bent over and giving us a full moon. Nicole was great at getting close to her subjects and even got down on the ground for a couple of shots like a true pro.

We all decided that we took away some great advice as to how to take better pictures and we also learned about the features on our cameras and how they could help us do that.

Very worthwhile class with the bonus of getting to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. The favorite photos that each of us took are shown above and below this posting.