A Walk through Little Havana

img_1060It honestly was an accident that my sketch of the Calle Ocho chicken ended up with a big ol’ yellow bloom under its butt, but I have to say, the expression on that bird’s face made it look like he had just been pantsed. And yes, I know, it’s a ROOSTER, not a chicken. But chicken is funnier, and reminds me of college, when my husband used to get SO pissed when our friends dubbed his Finnish Eagle tattoo “The Mighty Chicken of War.”

img_1048Unclear whether he was being paid to do this, or if he was just hanging out there, but at any rate, this sweet old guy just sat outside the cigar shop on Calle Ocho, and would raise his hand and greet everyone walking by. I guess it’s like being a greeter at Walmart, except it’s totally acceptable or even encouraged to be smoking your cigar on the job.

img_1056When our friends suggested we take a walk to check out Domino Park, we drove there in separate cars and parked illegally at the McDonald’s half a block away. I was instructed to text them and say we would “meet at the Northwest entrance” but in the time it took me to type that up, we tripped over the park entrance and it turns out the whole thing is the size of half a basketball court. A sign by the entrance states that you have to show identification that proves that you are above the age of 55 and a resident of Miami in order to play. Only in the Spanish version of the sign, though. In the English version, it just says “Tourists Welcome.” It’s a super sweet place, though: mostly abuelos (a few abuelas) hunched over their dominos, shooting the sh*t with their buddies.

As I was sketching this, I was mulling over the mathematics of a domino set that goes to 9  dots, instead of the standard 6. I thought I had it, and posted my sketch with my math analysis to Instagram before double checking it. Turns out, I was way off. The actual formula is ((n2 + 3n + 2)/ 2), so a set of 6-dot dominos has 28, and a 9-dot set has 55. No impact on my life, really, but the moral of the story is: always check your work before posting it on social media.

A Trip to VerSYLes

It was our last day in Miami, and we had agreed to meet some friends for lunch in Little Havana. Earlier in the week, we had met up with another old friend from college, and as we were chatting about the not-to-miss sights in Miami, he had mentioned a place he called “VerSYLes” in Little Havana. I remember thinking, “Hm, that’s an interesting name, wonder how you spell that?” but it didn’t occur to me that this would ultimately be the same place where we would eat lunch on our way to the airport. I’m pretty sure there was an audible click when I saw the sign and said, “Ooooooooooh, VERSAILLES.”

img_1064My friend Susana also pointed out an interesting phenomenon that, as soon, as she pointed it out, I began to see everywhere in Little Havana. Apparently, it became a trend among some Cuban-Americans in Miami to give phonetically-spelled names to their kids. Sure enough, our waiter’s nametag announced him as “Serguey,” and a salon across the street from Versailles was “Dilany’s.” I thought this was cool and kind of funny, until I realized that someone named “Empi” really shouldn’t think that was all that strange.


Playa Caleta for the win!

60It’s been almost a year since we bought the apartment in Malaga, and after sampling all the scooter-accessible beaches, I think we’ve decided that Playa Caleta is our favorite. There’s a play area and workout equipment for the kids, a nice long spit of sand for exploring and creature-hunting, and best of all, a chiringuito that’s open almost all year round, unlike the others that seem to think that no one would want to come to the beach in February.

Art peeps

My Peep characters (as in, turning marshmallow peeps into pop culture figures, a la Washington Post Peep Diorama) have been a mainstay of Easter for me for many years now, but this year I decided to change it up a little and go for interpretations of great works of art by/for/featuring the yellow Peep bunnies. SO much fun.

Down in Town in Zermatt

Months ago, we had decided that we would visit Zermatt over the Jeune Genevois weekend.  Yay! Somehow, though, it was only about a week before the trip that I became fully aware of a salient detail: that the purpose of the trip was for my husband to climb Monte Rosa: 4,634 meters, second-highest peak in the Alps.

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Traffic on the way home from school dropoff = an unscheduled detour to Coppet for breakfast.
© 2017 Empi Morn, Marie Pauline Mörn, empimornart. 
All rights reserved. The images on this website are copyrighted and may not be downloaded or reproduced without permission from the artist.

20 Hours in Dijon

On a quick weekend road trip from Geneva this past weekend. Gray skies and the first touch of cold weather inspired the palette for these sketches. Also, it’s apparently Inktober. Which I think I prefer greatly to Movember.

Paroisse Saint-Michel

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Bretagne: Port Aven to Concarneau

As new expats in Geneva, we are always on the lookout for a new destination to visit on a long weekend. When my husband’s colleague generously offered to loan us his summer home in Bretagne, we booked a cheap EasyJet flight, hopped off to Nantes, and two hours’ drive later, we were at this lovely home, bursting with beautiful flowers, apple trees, and country house charm.

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Amsterdam Weekend


I realize I have yet to post a blog with sketches from Switzerland, but what can I say? Blame EasyJet. I had a free weekend before a 10-day stretch with my husband out of town and two kids to herd singlehandedly, so off I went to meet my cousin and her husband in Amsterdam.

What’s Amsterdam without its museums? And my favorite, museum cafes. This one at the Stederlijk had a nice view of the Concertgebouw and a row of fancy shops, so I sat there for a bit pretty much every afternoon. Thanks to decades of KLM freebies, I will always think of them as “Bols Buildings,” but those distinctive Dutch rowhouses are hard to resist. I sketched this stretch out in pen, intending to watercolor later, but I got to like the black and white look. Continue reading