Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Night Visitor

We're turning into a regular wildlife refuge. This guy showed up outside the sun room while we were watching the ballgame. I think he was more interested in the large bug that was a foot away from him.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Friday Five

Himself is a loyal Boston Red Sox fan. I watch the games with him more for the company than the sport. The slow pace of the game makes watching paint dry seem exciting.Lately, I've been learning a new language from  guest color commentator, and former Red Sox pitcher, Dennis Eckersley. Who knew you would need a Rosetta Stone to understand Eck? Five Eck phrases:

1. Going bridge: hitting a home run

2. Moss: hair whether it's on the head or face.

3. Cheese usually high cheese: a fastball thrown high in the strike zone.

4. Salad: an easy to hit pitch.

5. Hump: a fastball that jumps up

Do you know any other baseball jargon?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mark Your Calendar

Thursday, 5. September 2013 from 5:30 PM - 7 PM. The Worcester Art Museum Faculty Art Exhibition

Meet members of the faculty, see their amazing artwork, and sign up for a class or two.

Openings are still available in

The Art of Calligraphy
Saturdays, 14. Sept. 2013 - 16. Nov. 2013
9:30 AM - Noon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Afternoon Visitor

Yesterday afternoon, this turkey vulture stopped by the old watering hole.

Have you ever seen one of these bad boys?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Garden in the Woods

The Meadow
Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts is home to the New England Wildflower Society. The Society is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of native New England plants.

My friend, Teague, and I spent an hour or so roaming the paths of this living museum. Each turn of the trail offered a different gallery: a lily pond, a meadow where I instantly identified goldenrod, and a meandering brook. For a needed rest or place to meditate log benches were scattered through the preserve.

I think a trip back in the Fall (when the goldenrod has passed) to sit and sketch will be in order.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Drawing Club

Wednesday  from 1 pm to 3 pm is Drawing Club day at the Worcester Art Museum. A different gallery is chosen each week, materials are provided  and visitors can copy the masters. Visitors can also bring their own art materials (dry media only).

The Young One and I decided to go last week. Armed with pencils and our journals, we found the drawing club in the Early American Portrait gallery. I'm comfortable drawing letters and stylized flowers, but the human figure is out of my comfort zone.  Perfect.

I chose the portrait of 9 year old Rebecca Orne and her pet squirrel by Joseph Badger as my subject.  The Young One who is quite accomplished in art (she gets her art gene from me (-:  ) gave me some pointers to help me get proportions a bit more in line. She also told me one of the instructors she had assisted during the summer program had told her students that they were only allowed to use their eraser 3 times. Draw a line, erase, draw a line, erase, draw a line. We laughed. I'm so lame, but it was a great time.

If you're looking for a way to take in some art and make some art, drop in for the Drawing Club on Wednesday afternoons from 1 pm to 3 pm. The Drawing Club is free with museum admission.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Friday Five

Everyone had the day off, we made our annual pilgrimage to Boston's Museum of Science.

1. Because the Longfellow Bridge is undergoing reconstruction and traffic around Boston and Cambridge is being re-routed. We decided to take the subway in and rode  the Green line from Riverside station to Science Park.

2. Our visits aren't complete without the Electricity show. It never gets old, but this time around it was new! The demonstrator didn't do the usual demonstrations. Lots of lightning, loud cracks of static (thunder), and the 1812 Overture on the Tesla coils. Wicked!

3. We took a trip to the edge of the Universe via the planetarium show.

4.  For me, the most exciting part of this visit was The Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest texts of the Bible discovered in caves in 1947. I was surprised how tiny the scroll fragments are. Some are hardly bigger than an inch! Besides the scrolls, there were lots of artifacts (large clay jars, woven fabric, coins) that showed what life was like thousands of years ago. There was an ink well, too! Because of the lighting, it was hard to see the actual writing on the scrolls. Happily, these ancient manuscripts are being digitized and made available online.

5. The MOS has a new exhibit, the Pixar Lab, that they are testing out as a traveling exhibit. This was right down the Young One's alley as she is studying Interactive Media and Game Development (IMGD) at WPI. A bit of a bus man's holiday, she played with skinning, animating, adding texture. She then left feedback on what she liked about the exhibits and ways to improve the experience along with her e-mai address. Never miss an opportunity to network.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gargantuan Bug

It was right there! Right there on the screen door! The biggest bug I've ever seen. It had a long, thin body and long, long legs. The bug had to be at least 6 inches long. Hand to Gawd! It was 6 inches long!

I grabbed the cellphone to take a photo. I thought I'd get a better shot if I opened the sun room slider. Very slowly and carefully, I opened the slider just a crack. The vibrations of the door must have scared the living daylights out of creature and he flew away. So I don't really have a blog post for today.

But he was right there. Right there on the screen! And he was huge!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Final Wishes and Documents

Counted cross-stitch over two strands
Irish linen, DMC embroidery floss,
pearl seed beads
Another uncomfortable topic to bring up with Elders is final wishes. Fortunately for me, Dad brought this topic up himself. My dad was very proud of his military service during WWII, and wanted to be buried in a veterans' cemetery. My mother, as his spouse, would also be allowed to be buried with him. He told me he had an insurance policy through the Veteran's Administration. He said the insurance policy would take care of expenses for both of them.

At the time Dad went into the nursing home, the insurance policy had to be cashed in and used to prepay funerals. The funeral director said he would make all the arrangements with the veterans' cemetery and all he needed was Dad's honorable discharge papers.

I should have checked to see if other documentation was required because I could have saved myself some aggravation and worry. The veterans' cemetery where Dad is buried required:

1. a pre-registration application (taken care of by the funeral director)

2. military discharge papers (given to the funeral director at the time I prepaid the funerals)

3. birth certificate for both my parents. I had copies of these when I did the cross-stitched family tree for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, but I hadn't organized the genealogy box where I put them. It took some time to go through the box to find them.

4. Driver's license or State ID. I found my mother's state ID, but Dad lost his wallet while looking for something in the crawl space in his home. His wallet fell between the space of the attic floor and the ceiling of the room below. I wasn't able to find his wallet when I was cleaning out the house, and frankly, I didn't think it was going to be a big deal since he would be in a nursing home.

5. Marriage certificate. I did not have their official state marriage certificate. I did have the certificate signed by the priest who married them.

6. Residency certificate. The funeral director contacted the town clerk in the town where the nursing home is. The town clerk wrote a letter declaring my parents have been residents of the town for two years.

7. Death certificate which the funeral director had. He also gave me official copies that will be needed to close bank accounts, social security, etc.

The first person at the veterans' cemetery that the funeral director spoke with was a real stickler for the paper work. He wanted me to go into Boston to get an official copy of my parents' marriage certificate. Somehow, he didn't seem to understand that even if I went to Boston to request the marriage certificate, I wouldn't be able to leave city hall with the record in hand. The clerk would ask me for the fee (usually $20 or so), the date my parents were married, and a self-address stamped envelope. The document would be mailed in 10 to 14 business days.

In the end, everything worked out. The town clerk gave the funeral director another contact who was more sympathetic and accepted the documentation we had.

So, when you have the final wish talk with your Elders, and find out where all the important papers are kept: insurance policies, discharge of mortgage, military papers...Ask your Elders for copies of their birth certificates, marriage certificate, driver's license or state ID.  Just in case, these documents are needed.

If birth certificates and a marriage certificate are not available, you can request these from the town or city clerk where your Elders were born and married. These are public records and anyone can request them for a fee.

When you have all the documents you may need, put them in a better location than the bottom of box used for genealogy research. Save yourself some aggravation at a time when you have enough on your plate.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Wolverine

We went to see The Wolverine. Predictable. Reluctant hero. Very thin love story to bring in female audience and/or sex sells. Mash-up of Samurai, Ninjas, and Gundams. All that was needed were pirates. All rolled up into a movie that was an hour too long and one sequel too many. Overall, a generous meh.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Plant ID Help

My SIL sent this beautiful basket containing a peace lily, ivy and elephant ear. Anyone out there know what these tiny white flowers are? Is this plant harmful to cats? Can it be planted outside?

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Theory of Relativity and Spelling

45th Anniversary Bruno Gaetano Society
Sons of Italy
15. November 1953

A discussion began on my (2nd) cousin's Facebook page about how we could be cousins but our family surname is spelled differently. I thought I'd explain that here because I needed a blog topic for today and because, my cousin and I only recently "met." So, PT, this is for you and your sister, too.

Our great-grandfather, Antonio Donato Zeferino Todisco was born in 1855 in the town of Torre Le Nocelle in the province of Avellino in Italy. Proof of the spelling of the name can be found from the cemetery photos on The Genealogy of Torre Le Nocelle blog. Great-grandpa's gravestone is the 39th photo on the page, and the name chiseled in stone is spelled Todisco with an "i".

The major players in our story are the three sons of Antonio Todisco, (the three older gentlemen in the front row of the photograph) .Left to right (my grandfather, your great-uncle) Achille Todisco (b. 1889), then (my great-uncle, your grandfather) Alfred Todesco (b. 1891), and (our great-uncle) Guiseppe "Joe" Todesco (b. 1887). My father was named after Great-uncle Joe.

If the young man, Joseph Todisco, in the front row center looks familiar to you, it's because he is your father's first cousin and is my dad. Your dad and my dad looked a lot alike.  The man to my father's right is his brother, Mario Todisco (my uncle and your first cousin once removed). Since our fathers were first cousins, our relation to each other is second cousin. Your father and I are first cousins once removed. My dad is your first cousin once removed.

Now the spelling of the name. When I asked Dad why his Uncle Alfred's (your grandfather's)  last name was spell differently from ours, I was told:

When Uncle Alfred came to this country and had to sign his name at customs, he made a loopy "i" and dotted it, but the customs officer read it as an "e" and when he recorded it, he spelled Todesco. As an aside our grandfathers, Achille and Alfred, and our great-uncle Joe came to this country through the port of Boston, Massachusetts and not Ellis Island, New York.  If you do a search for Alfred Todesco on the Torre blog, you will find a copy of his WWII Draft Registration card and the family name clearly spelled with an "e".

So, that is how we are related, but spell our family surnames differently.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Battleship Cove

sail and gun mount of submarine
 USS Lionfish

While in Fall River, Massachusetts, Teague and I went to Battleship Cove.  This is a maritime museum of decommissioned WWII vessels. A must to visit if you have little boys, big boys, or a naval history buff. Visitors get to roam above and below decks, and vist the bridges of the battleship USS Massachusetts ("Big Mamie", the destroyer, USS Joseph P Kennedy, Jr, the corvette, Hiddensee, formerly of the East German Navy. There was also an exhibit of a couple of restored PT Boats. My favorite exhibit was the diesel submarine, USS Lionfish.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Friday Five - In Memoriam

17. March 1919 - 4. August 2013
Last Sunday, my dad quietly passed away. He was 94 years old. Five facts about my dad.

1. Dad served in the Army Air Corps. during World War II. Attained the rank of Sergeant. He was in New Guinea and the Philippines. Was in the battle of Luzon. Dad got to be with his hero, General MacArthur. Pulled sentry duty to guard the General's residence in Manilla and occasionally chauffeured the General in his staff car.

An amusing story Dad told was while on sentry duty. Mrs. MacArthur and young son accompanied the General to Manilla after the island was retaken and secured. She didn't like to see the guard soldiers standing out in the rain, so she had the General order a small shelter to be built. After a long day of drilling Dad was sitting down while on guard duty when a Major came by. The Major called Dad on the carpet for sitting down and then roared, "And where did you get the chair?" "Mrs. MacArthur brought the chair to me, sir..." The Major threw his hands up in the air and walked away.

2. In 1951, Dad graduated from Portia School of Law (now New England School of Law) and in April of that year, passed the bar exam. Though he practiced general law, his specialty was criminal law. In 1968, he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Not many lawyers attain this. The highlight of his trip to Washington DC, was a tour of  Speaker of the House, John McCormack's office (Mr. McCormack was from Massachusetts) and the House of Representatives. Dad was also invited to sit in the Speaker's chair in the House. In 1970, Dad was admitted to practice before the U.S Military Court of Appeals.

3. He was a Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus and a District Deputy. Loved history, political debate and politics; was a Town Meeting member. He self-published a political newsletter, The Iconoclast, and was instrumental in getting Proposition 2 1/2 passed.

4. When I first saw the picture of Dad as a young man (taken when he was about 20 years old), I thought with his dark eyes and thick, wavy, dark hair, he resembled the actor, Tyrone Power. Dad loved that. comparison.

5. Besides the law, Dad's passion was singing, and he had a beautiful voice. He had some classical training and wanted to be the next Pavarotti. He sang in his church choir, and his signature solo was Schubert's Ave Maria. He also sang with the Senior Center Goldenaires and eventually became the musical director. I have no doubt Dad will be taking over as the director of the Heavenly Choir.

He was wicked smaht and a fun guy to be with. Click on Joseph Todisco to read his obit.

I'll miss you, Pal, and yeah, you were as handsome as Tyrone Power.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Kelleher Rose Garden

The Kelleher Rose Garden in the Back Bay Fens is a hidden jewel. You enter the garden through a rose arbor which opens to a formal circular garden. There's a pathway to walk, arbors to sit under (seemed to be a popular place for the young people), and thousands of roses. Teague and I were there in late July so most of the roses had already passed. The garden must have been spectacular in June when the roses first bloomed.

There was also a large bunny who didn't seem to mind having his picture taken.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Life Insurance

If your Elder has a life insurance policy, is going into long term nursing care, and is applying for Medicaid, the monetary value of the life insurance policy is considered an asset. In order to prevent Medicaid from taking all assets (bank accounts, stocks, bonds, property, insurance) the life insurance policy should be "cashed in" and the money used to prepay funeral expenses.
Dad had a life insurance policy he purchased through the Veteran's Administration. To cash in the policy, I had to have Dad's military discharge papers and a copy of the Power of Attorney. The funeral director took the check, divided it in half to cover expenses for both my parents. The money was then put into a funeral trust fund. The trust is administered by a bank. The bank sends a yearly statement of the money in the account for Medicaid and tax reporting. It's a relief to know Medicaid didn't get everything, and there's money set aside for the funeral costs.
I'm not a lawyer, don't pretend to be one. What's offered here is my experience going through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts system.  Your state regulations may be different. An attorney well versed in your state's Elder care laws is worth the fee.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Borden House

Today is the anniversary of a heinous crime that rocked the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and put the city of Fall River on the map. I bet you've even heard of the event or maybe skipped rope to the rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

On 4. August 1892, the bodies of Andrew Borden and his (second) wife Abby were found bludgeoned in their home. Even more shocking, Andrew's 32 year old daughter, Lizzie was charged with the crime. After a 10 day trial, the jury acquitted Miss Lizzie. The murders remain unsolved.

The Lizzie Borden Museum and Bed and Breakfast  is located at  230 Second Street in Fall River with daily tours of the home. Amid period furniture and with a guide dressed in period costume (though the mood is broken when he carries around a Styrofoam cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee), you'll hear about the crime and see horrific photographs and evidence from the trial.

The bed and breakfast is immaculate, but the house creeped me out. I thought it had a funny smell to it, but Teague didn't smell anything. Perhaps a product of an over-active imagination, I didn't like being in the house and the outside looks like it's still screaming.

If you're in Fall River today, the Pear Essential Players will be dramatizing the events. Time and Ticket information here

Would you be able to spend a night in Lizzie Borden's house?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Veterans Memorial Park

While in the Fens, came across the Veterans Memorial Park. The WWII monument was designed by architect, Tito Cascieri. The bronze angel statue sculpted by John Paramino.
The angel also watches over the Korean and Viet Nam war memorials.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Friday Five

After toodling around with my friend, Teague, we ended up back at her house. She asked if I wanted something to drink so I asked if I could try the soft drink, Moxie.

When I was a kid  saw bottles of Moxie at the home of one of my father's closest friend (more like a second father). When we visited, we were told we could never have Moxie because that was Charlie's, but we could have our choice of other soft drinks.

1. Moxie was invented and marketed as a Nerve Food in 1885 and was promoted as a health tonic. Some time during the early 1900s, the word "moxie" become associated with strength, vigor and guts.

2. It has a medicinal though not unpleasant bouquet from the main ingredient, gentian root.

3. The first sip is yuck.

4. While it poured out quite fizzy and had a good head, it quickly lost its effervescence and tasted flat. It wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be, but it definitely would not be my go to soft drink.

5. I told Teague, Moxie is an acquired taste. Acquired by Chamberlains. Teague is related through her mother's side of the family to John Chamberlain, the model for the logo. John is known as The Moxie Boy.

Have you ever tried Moxie?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Month of August

Looking for something to do and a way to beat the heat? The Worcester Art Museum is offering free admission during the month of August.