Monday, June 30, 2014

It's Back

The clematis came back! A couple of Winters ago took a big hit on the plant. I thought the poor thing was never to be seen again. Happily, the plant seems to be hardier than I thought.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


One of my team members coined the play on words "transpartation" for the Art of Science Learning project we are working on. Our project will be to design an art-infused STEM  curriculum using transportation as a theme.  This image was my contribution to the presentation we had to give. It's a mix of traditional and modern motifs visually interpreting the intersection of art with STEM.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Summer is officially here! Bring on the hazy, hot, and humid.

2. I skyped with my elementary school best friend. She lives in Arizona, and I hadn't heard from her in a while. Technology is wonderful.

3. Met Himself for a lunch date. 

4. We had our presentation for the Worcester Incubator. Hard to read the panelists whether they liked the idea or not. My part in the presentation was a timeline. 

5. I had a lazy day, yesterday. Did absotively nothing and don't feel guilty about having an extremely non-productive day.

How was your week?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday

This is my dad's certificate to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Dad was sponsored by Peter F. Hines, an attorney and member of the Boston City Counsel.

Other than the header, picture of the courthouse in Washington, DC, and the seal, this document is entirely handwritten! I can see faint pencil lines where the calligrapher ruled lines for the text. The text is written in Copperplate.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Walden Pond

After lunch, Teague and I went to Walden Pond. Yeah, that Walden, where the 19th c. author and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau lived for two years in a small cabin in the middle of the woods. Concord locals pronounce his name like "thorough".

 Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing are allowed. There's a designated swimming area with a beach house and  lifeguards though visitors can swim anywhere around the pond at their own risk. The day we visited, several people were swimming across the pond (maybe a mile and half or two miles). A recent controversy has sprung up as a local group wants to end swimming and boating. Their reasoning is to "preserve the pond for future generations." It would be a shame if swimming is banned. The pond is a beautiful place to swim and picnic. And it's very clean. No one leaves trash. What's the sense of preserving the area, if it's not used? I think some of the locals are fed up with the increased tourist traffic in an area that is already heavily congested.

We followed a path to visit the site of Walden's cabin. We were too busy chatting and missed the stone marker so we had to back track. Nine stone pillars mark the cabin site. The cabin was dismantled long ago.  Yankees, ever frugal, reused the wood. I think I heard the wood from the cabin roof was used as a roof for a pig pen. There's a cairn where visitors leave a stone as a sign of respect. Pick one up before you leave the beach as most of the stones around the site are scarce. Someone left a rose.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I Know Where He Is

Last week, after not being able to find Zio Manny in the cemeteries I thought he might have been buried, I sent for his death certificate. The document arrived on Thursday.

I was almost afraid to open up the SASE. I thought perhaps, a record couldn't be found so the City returned my check. Inside the envelope was the pale green document. Seems criminal to be smiling while holding a death certificate, and to be excited to plan a cemetery hop.

And the really cool thing? The cemetery has an online locator. I don't have to make a call to the cemetery office or the Archdiocese of Boston. Just plunk in Zio's name and a map showing the location of the grave and which road to take through the cemetery pops up.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Got my first choice project for the Art of Science Worcester Incubator. We met as a team for the first time. Should be an interesting ride.

2. I can see clearly now. Picked up my new glasses.

3. A personality conflict arose, and though I was tempted,  I didn't feed the trolls.

4. For a bit of color, planted petunias, lobelia, marigolds, ageratum, and impatiens in pots and the window boxes.

5. The death certificate for Zio Manny arrived in the mail.

How was your week?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday

From 20. June 1950, 64 years ago, my Dad's "sheep skin." This is his Bachelor of Law degree from Portia School of Law. In 1969, the school became New England School of Law.

The document is printed on vellum, in this case, sheep skin. Vellum is usually calf or sheep skin and parchment is pig skin.

His name is hand written in an Old English script with really lovely hair lines, those very thin lines.

An interesting factoid is the American Republic Date, CLXXIV or 174 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

One of Dad's pet peeves was someone stating the United States is a democracy. If you made this statement while speaking with him, he'd have you recite the Pledge of Allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands..." If the light bulb didn't flash over your head quickly, you'd get a long lecture on forms of government. :-D

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Orchard House

Teague and I took a day trip to Concord, Massachusetts. Our first stop was Orchard House. This was the home of  19th century author, Louisa May Alcott

The tour of the house began with a short film with Louisa where she described her home, family, and her writing. She wrote several novels, but is best known for her first, Little Women, based on her family. The book has been translated in hundreds of languages and has never been out of print.

We got to tour the house though photographs inside were verboten. Most of the items (80%) belonged to the Alcotts. We saw the half-moon, shelf desk, Amos Alcott, Louisa's father, built so she would have a place to do her writing.  Anna's (Meg in LW) grey silk wedding dress, also described in the book, was on display. Anna's real-life wedding was described in the book.

One amusing fact about Louisa was found in the parlor. On the settee was a small, rectangular pillow. It was called Louisa's mood pillow. Apparently, Louisa was temperamental and moody. The pillow was a signal to family members whether they could safely approach Louisa. If the pillow was vertical on the settee all was well. If the pillow was horizontal, stay away.

After the tour, we walked around Concord Center visiting the little shops. We had lunch at Helen's in Concord Center. The sweet potato fries are pure heaven. After lunch, since we were in the neighborhood, our next stop was...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Phipps Street Burying Ground

Another stop on our cemetery hop last week, was the Phipps Street Burying Ground in Charlestown, Massachusetts. This cemetery is one of Boston's oldest 17th. century cemeteries.

There are two unique features of this site. First, the headstones remain in their original configuration. During the 19th. century, a lot of the old burial sites were re-arranged to align the headstones in neat rows. Second, an unidentified stonecutter, know as the Charlestown Carver, carved many of the stones. His style was continued by the Lamson family and became a regional style.

Most of the stones are carved from slate. The Puritans didn't believe in religious icons such as a cross, and they didn't believe in giving human form to God or angels. The motif found on most of these early gravestones is a skull with wings, sometimes called "Winged Death". The symbolism represents physical death and spiritual resurrection or the swiftness of life.

Floral embellishment on the stones give a softer, more feminine look to the stone, or the deceased loved flowers.
After the Puritan influence waned with time and progress, "Winged Death" took on a more fanciful look with cherubic faces and elaborately flourished wings.
Raised punctuation was used to conserve space. Spelling during this early time period had not been standardized. In the above example, lies is spelled with a "y". Another interesting short-hand on this stone is the Anglo-Saxon character, thorn, which looks like a "y". It was used in words like "ye" as in ye old shoppe and later became "the".  Long "s" which looks like the letter "f" with a long tail and missing crossbar is also seen on this stone. Long "s" is usually found in words with a double "s" (submissive on this stone). Long "s" fell out of use in English by the middle of the 18th. century, but survives as the character "esset", ß, in German.

Besides the carvings, I also wonder about the stories carved in the stone. Anne Badger was only 25 years old when she died. How long had she been married to her husband, Stephen? If you enlarge the image, you will see Anne is buried with her 16 day old daughter, Elizabeth, who died on the same day. Did they die from complications of childbirth? Illness? An accident? Murder? Was Elizabeth the only child of Stephen and Anne? Did they have other children? In any case, Anne's story is a sad one as she never saw her daughter grow up and perhaps have children of her own.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Baby Name

January 1956, age 6 mos.
If I was born a boy, my name was going to be Reginald.  The name was a sort of twin name to The Brother.

Do you know what your name would have been, if you were born the opposite sex?

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Was asked to look over the Young One's resume and a cover letter. The Eldest asked me to go with her to a doctor's appointment. Nice to be asked for an opinion or help.

2. The Young One and I went into the Knight's gallery. She wanted to do some sketching. While she sketched one of the knights, I sketched her.

3. Had an eye exam. My prescription is the same as the corrective lens made for the Hubble telescope. New glasses will arrive sometime end of next week.

4. Teague and I took a daycation to Concord (pronounced Con-cud)

5. Couldn't find anything worthwhile to watch on television, but found Duck Soup on Netflix. Extremely bad puns slay me and the Marx Brothers didn't disappoint.

How was your week?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Unsolved Mysteries

Tracing your genealogy is a lot like working on a giant picture puzzle. Except, the puzzle pieces are the same shape and have similar colors. Just when you think you have a section of your puzzle completed, you find you're still missing a piece, and the piece you had doesn't fit.

That's what happened when my friend, Teague and I arrived at the cemetery to find my great-aunt Angelina's grave. Not only was I interested in Z'Angeline (as my father called her, zia is aunt in Italian), but I wanted to "meet" her husband, Manny. Manny was a stonecutter and family lore stated he carved his own tombstone.

I'm happy to have found my aunt, but was stunned to find Manny wasn't buried with her. Z'Angeline is buried with one of her sons. And all the headstones in the section of the cemetery are all relatively new. So this stone wasn't carved by Manny since he passed away many years before his wife.

Not only was Manny not resting in peace with his wife, but someone else is also buried in this grave. The name is not familiar to me. So another piece of the puzzle. Who is this woman and how is she related to my aunt?

Back to square one with finding information about Zio Manny. I haven't been able to find a death certificate for him. I had suspected he passed away in 1926, but had no definite proof.  I went home happy to have found my great-aunt, but at the same time disappointed.

Later in the evening, Teague called me. She's the one who got me involved in genealogy. She decided to do some detective work on my behalf. She searched through a city directory for 1927. I didn't find a directory for 1926 and had searched through 1927 with every variation of Manny's name I could find. Teague has learned some tips and tricks about genealogy research. She found an entry for Manny with a date of death 10. June 1926 and his widow, Angelina.

The weird thing about her finding the information when she did, today is the 84th anniversary of Manny's passing. But now that I know the date he passed, I'll be able to find the cemetery he's buried in.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cemetery Hop

planned for this week. Color me giddy with blue. I'll be looking for the grave of my great-aunt and uncle. And at the same cemetery, I'll visit my uncle (father's kid brother.)

If the weather is nice, we'll also stop at the beach and lunch at Kelly's.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Yes, We Have No Bananas

So, I'm scrolling through Facebook, and I read an article that says most people have been peeling bananas the wrong way. If the research is on Facebook, it must be correct.

The article states most people peel the banana from the stem. Apparently, this is incorrect especially if the banana isn't quite ripe. From time to time, I've struggled peeling a banana from the stem if the banana is still a little green. Usually, a quick slice with a knife solves the problem.

 According to the article the correct way to peel a banana is from the bottom and the evidence sited is observing monkeys. Monkeys hold the stem end, pinch or bite the bottom, and easily peel a banana.

Monkey read, monkey do. And OMG, it works! I pinched the the bottom, I didn't bite it. No wrestling with the stem to peel the banana. No knife. Just a nice clean peel.

For further proof, I turned to YouTube and if the proof is there, it must be true. And lo! A cute monkey peels a banana from the bottom.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Took my car in for its 10,000 mile check

2. Visited my folks at the cemetery

3. Was stuck in traffic on Rte 146 while a helicopter delivered two cables (one at a time) to some electrical workers in a bucket truck.

4. Found out, I've been peeling bananas the wrong way!

5. Discovered a nesting pair of sparrows in the honeysuckle vine that acts as a privacy screen for the sun room. They weren't happy with me cutting a bramble bush that is choking the honeysuckle. The male chased me into the sun room.

How was your week?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Dad's diploma when he graduated 8th grade from the Donald McKay School in East Boston, Massachusetts, June 1934. Dad was 15 years old.

The document measures 16 in. wide by 18 in. long and provides an interesting glimpse into history.

Donald McKay built clipper ships. His shipyard and home were located in East Boston. The bottom center panel shows clipper ships, perhaps an illustration of McKay's shipyard.

The top image shows a seated goddess holding a caduceus, a staff carried by heralds, and the seal of the City of Boston.

I have two guesses as to the identity of the goddess. Iris, is a goddess of the sea and sky. She is associated with communication, messages, the rainbow, and new endeavors. Fitting image for graduation. She is often depicted carrying a caduceus, a staff carried by messengers. Iris was messenger to the goddess, Hera. Iris is usually depicted with wings. No wings on this illustration.

The goddess could also be Athena, goddess of knowledge, wisdom, learning, craft,and justice. I haven't found any references to Athena carrying a caduceus. In earlier cultures, entwined snakes were the symbol of fertility, wisdom, and healing, also associated with Athena. Perhaps, the caduceus was a means of imparting wisdom upside the heads of lazy students.

The center left illustration is Benjamin Franklin, scientist, politician, statesman, and inventor. He was also born in Boston, Massachusetts.

The center right illustration is Josiah Quincy, mayor of the city of Boston from 1896-1899.

The diploma is signed by Maurice J. Tobin, Chairman of the School Committee from 1931-1937. He later served as mayor from 1938-1945, and as governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from  1945-1947. In 1967, the Mystic River Bridge was renamed the Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge.

Sadly, many diplomas and important documents are no longer lettered by hand. Dad's name is hand-done in a Gothic or Old-English script. I wonder who the calligrapher was. Perhaps, someone from the school or more than likely someone from the print shop who practiced calligraphy. The document is not dated other than the month and year.

The diploma is printed on a heavy weight card stock. It must have been handed to the students and tied with a ribbon as it was saved rolled. Dad's name is lightly written in pencil on the back of the rolled edge. The handwriting is not Dad's.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesdays With Elders - Auntie Rose and Family Info

Himself and I finally got our estate planning affairs in order. Power of Attorney (the primo document), Healthcare Proxy, and Wills. The planning wasn't nearly as painful or expensive as I thought it would be. I was feeling a bit smug as I signed all the documents at the attorney's office. Our girls would not have to go through the angst of going through the court system to have either of us declared incompetent as we had to do with my mother. Our papers were signed and our ducks were in a neat, little row.

Then the attorney asked if something happened to either of us would the girls know where to find copies of these documents, bank accounts, safe deposit box, homeowner's insurance documents, social security numbers, marriage and birth certificates. The list went on and on.

She handed me papers with blank lines to fill out personal information, bank information, etc. She called the papers Aunt Tilly. She said most families had an Aunt Tilly, the family member who knew the family history and information on all members. The problem is Aunt Tilly carries all this information around in her head, but has never written it down. What happens if Aunt Tilly isn't the last woman standing?

I'm in the process of filling out the Auntie Rose papers. Readers of Whine and Cheeze (the blog I kept about dealing with elderly parents) will recognize the picture of the psychic my mother sent money to. Ma had the psychic's picture on the family wall so The Nephew named her Auntie Rose.

If something should happen to you (God forbid!) would your children or other family members know where to find your Power of Attorney, Healthcare Proxy, and other important papers if Auntie Rose isn't around? Maybe you should sit down with your Aunt Tilly or Auntie Rose, too.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A New Blog

The Young One has a new blog showcasing the art she has created using tools like Maya and Z-Brush. My favorites are the video of Ember's Inklinko,  the game she and her team created for their MQP (Major Qualifying Project) for Disney Interactive and the Humpty Dumpty animation.

Pop on over to Corinne Kennedy - My Art to see what the next generation is creating.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Bread Slicing Guide

Sourdough Bread
Is there anything better than a loaf of fresh, baked, home-made bread? Well, maybe chocolate, but home-made bread comes a very close second. The only problem with home-made bread, besides the fact that a loaf doesn't last very long, is it's hard to get even, thin slices like commercial loaves of bread. I love a slab of bread as much as the next person, but eating a sandwich on a slab of bread is difficult. Until now.

At blessed I found an expandable bread saver that came with a slicing guide. Instead of uneven slabs of bread, there are nice, evenly cut, slices of bread.

Now, my bread slices will look as good as a commercial loaf of bread, but taste way better.