Saturday, April 30, 2016

World T'ai Chi and QiGong Day

If you're in the MetroWest Area today stop by:

Farm Pond Woodland
Dudley St.
Framingham, MA - just across the street from the baseball fields. Near Loring Arena. Parking is free.

FREE T'ai Chi and QiGong classes to celebrate wellness, life, and you! Learn some gentle movement and breathing techniques to reduce stress.

QiGong #1 begins at 11AM coached by Bob Doherty

T'ai Chi begins at 11:45 AM, coached by Roy Kennedy

QiGong #2 begins at 12:30 PM coached by Bob Doherty

Classes will be held on the concrete pad down by the water. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a bottle of water.

If it rains, the event is cancelled.

For more information, contact Bob Doherty (508) 872-3100

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Was surprised when a red-tail hawk swooped by the kitchen window.

2. Had to change my walking schedule with Red. Felt bad about bailing on her, but it couldn't be helped. When I called to tell her, she said she was just about to call me because she had an appointment and had to cancel walking, too.  I didn't feel bad.

3. The lease for my car was due to be up in a couple of months. Calls from the dealer came for Himself, but he ended up in a game of telephone tag. On the way home from work, Himself stopped by the dealer. I got a text asking how I liked the color. Himself never texts me and never sends photos. So, I'm thinking who is this? The dealer made Himself an offer he couldn't refuse.

4. I picked up my shiny, new wheels.

5. A fountain I ordered for the Zensical garden arrived earlier than expected.

How was your week?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday

27 cents per gallon is the cheapest gas price I can remember. After we visited my Grandma and Auntie in East Boston, Dad would fill up at the Sinclair Gas Station in the Neptune Rd. area before heading back to the Sumner Tunnel.

I don't remember how old I was. I liked the Sinclair station because their logo was a big green brontosaurus.

What's the cheapest gas price you remember?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pilot Parallel Pens Trials and Tribulations

I really, really wanted to love this tool. All the convenience of a fountain pen with the size range of the dip pens.

The ink cartridge that comes with the pen is dreadful. It's so thin, it takes decades to dry and worse, feathers and bleeds on lots of papers. The cachet for the pen and the cartridge inks is you can blend colors together. Not wicked cool when the ink soaks into the paper.

The cartridges when empty can be filled with writing fluid of choice. The process is a bit messy. Several colleagues told me to fill the barrel. I was a little worried that the barrel would leak. I tried Moon Palace sumi ink, Old World Iron Gall ink, and Ziller Glossy Black. The barrel only leaked when being threaded and didn't leak when nib was put to paper.

Except, no matter which fluid, I couldn't get the ink to flow consistently. I used a 3.8 mm and the new 3 mm nib. I'd get a stroke or two and then the pen would seem to dry up or clog. I'd try to get it started with water. I'd clean the nib plates with the piece of film that came with the pen. I'd scratch, push, and pull. Maybe a half-hearted line. Mostly, I plowed furrows in my paper. Frustrated and not happy.

If you've had success using a high quality writing fluid (not Higgins Infernal), let me know what I'm doing wrong. Obviously, there's a problem between the chair and the paper.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Into This

While hunting the Interwebs looking for ideas for the zensical garden, I came across a bench made from cinder blocks and 8 foot 4 x 4s. Showed it to Himself and asked if it was something we could do.

He engineered the project (with only 1 extra trip to Ray's Hardware!) while I stained the wood with leftover stain from the log wall in the sun room.

Don't we make a great team?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

World T'ai Chi and QiGong Day - Save The Date

If you're in the MetroWest Area on Saturday, 30. April 2016 stop by:

Farm Pond Woodland
Dudley St.
Framingham, MA - just across the street from the baseball fields. Near Loring Arena. Parking is free.

FREE T'ai Chi and QiGong classes to celebrate wellness, life, and you! Learn some gentle movement and breathing techniques to reduce stress.

QiGong #1 begins at 11AM coached by Bob Doherty

T'ai Chi begins at 11:45 AM, coached by Roy Kennedy

QiGong #2 begins at 12:30 PM coached by Bob Doherty

Classes will be held on the concrete pad down by the water. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a bottle of water.

If it rains, the event is cancelled.

For more information, contact Bob Doherty (508) 872-3100

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Red invited me to her house to watch the new season of Outlander.

2. Himself bought me a new rake so I can try to rake patterns in the Zensical garden.

3. Took a ride to the cemetery to visit the folks. Stopped for lunch at Michael's Pasta in the Pan restaurant, our favorite eatery in the area. Ok, the only place we know.

4. Another pressie from Himself arrived for the Zensical garden.

5. It's finally tee shirt and fugly shoe weather.

How was your week?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Was visiting the Morse Institute Library in Natick, Massachusetts. I spent a lot of time there when I was growing up. While the Brother got saddled with accordian lessons, I got to go to the library with Dad to wait. He'd drop me off upstairs in the children's library while he went downstairs to the adult library.

Sometime when I was in 5th or 6th grade (10 or 11 years old), the children's library went through a remodel and was moved to the basement. I liked the Alice in Wonderland stained glass window. I remember the nuns trooped a bunch of us to the library a time or two. I didn't use the children's library much after 6th grade. I preferred the slightly, musty scent of the books in the stacks of the adult library and the adventure stories. Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo, The Saint, Scarlet Pimpernel

Several years ago, the library got a major face lift.  Dad was part of the library expansion committee. The new children's library still has the Alice stained glass window. There were other stained glass panels at the entrance depicting Make Way For Ducklings, Thomas the Tank Engine and other stories.

Library spaces are very different from when I was growing up. No longer places where people just went to read, study or research in a silent space. The library is now a community space. Programs from poetry readings to knitting take place. And  talking (in subdued tones) is allowed! Patrons can take out books, movies, and music. There are plenty of comfy chairs to sit and read. The library also has computer available for use. Free Wi-Fi and access to computer tutorials on a variety of subjects.

Have you been to your local library, lately?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

His Latest Project

We've been eating a lot of veggies and salad lately so it probably seemed logical for Himself to announce he wanted to grow veggies this Summer. I reminded him, we've been down this road before especially when the girlies were little. There's the initial excitement of tilling soil, planting seedlings, and then no one wants to weed the garden.

As an aside, gardening is not an activity I enjoy. I enjoy flowers and seeing green things, but hate to put my hands in the dirt. Let me get my hands dirty with paint, ink, and glue. No problem. But gardening, nope.

He assured me this time would be different. Unh-huh. He heard about planting in straw bales. Prepare the bales with fertilizer, plant your seedlings, and ta-da, veggies but no weeds. Unh-huh.

He bought some straw bales. Determined the best spot for sun most of the day was by the sunroom, and prepared the bales with fertilizer.

A month or so ago, Himself had started seedlings in a cold frame. The weather didn't cooperate with his plans. Temps plummeted, it snowed, and the little green things froze. Not sure if he planted more seeds in the little green house or whether he will buy seedlings already started. Stay tuned.

Have you heard of straw bale gardening?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I'm Not Dead, Yet

This catalog arrived in the mail the other day. It's chock full of walkers, canes, wheel chairs, incontinence supplies, and other things used by the elderly. I'm 60. I'm not dead, yet.

Though that little scooter on the cover would looking FNA in cobalt blue. Go, Granny. Go, Granny. Go, Ganny. Go!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Which Side of Your Brain is More Dominant?

Here's a happy, little time waster to "determine" which side of your brain, left or right, is more dominant. You can take the test here

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Arch Bridge, Uxbridge, MA
Five good things that happened this week.

1. Attended the bridal shower for The Nephew and his Fiancée. Too die for Texas French toast at the Luxury Box in Leominster. Someone gave the couple two coffee mugs. Mr. Right and Mrs. Always Right.

2. Was invited to lunch at Red's house. She made a delicious chicken salad. We made plans to walk two days a week.

3. Check up for my bionic tooth went well. Everything is healing just fine. The dentist kept asking if I've had any pain. Nope. Guess it's a matter of no brain, no pain. :-D

4. Red and I took our first walk along the Towpath, part of the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Sunny, but a bit chilly. Turtles sunning themselves on logs didn't seem to mind. We didn't see the blue heron, but saw a red squirrel scampering among the trees.

5. After the walk, Red and I took a ride to find the new restaurant, The Uxlocale, former museum co-worker, my favorite Elaine is opening up. Can't wait.

How was your week?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Do you remember having to separate trash from garbage? The garbage went into a bucket in this special concrete bunker located outside the backdoor.

On trash day, one guy (drawn by lots? the rookie?) walked with a barrel hoisted on his shoulder through the backyards of the neighborhood. His job was to collect the garbage while the rest of the crew took care of the trash in barrels at the curb.

The garbage men that serviced the neighorhood where I grew up came early in the morning between 6 am and 7 am. I can remember lying in bed and seeing the garbage barrel float above the bushes outside my (first floor) bedroom window.

I think the garbage men were the signal we could go outside and begin our day during the Summer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Inner Critic

Reprint from March 2014. Because I didn't have an idea for today's blog post, Pink gave me the idea to repost, and we all can use the reminder from time to time.

An artist friend had an interesting blog post the other day. She expressed her feelings about not always being satisfied with her own style, and she wondered if others felt this way, too.

I'm sure she is not alone. She's brave and honest for admitting her negative feelings in an ether-world where feelings are projected as rainbow unicorns all the time.

I think we all compare ourselves to others, and because we can be hard on ourselves, we come up short. We listen to the little voice. That voice, the one that says we're not good, or not good enough, or wonders why we can't be more like [insert name of artist, author, person]  is The Inner Critic.

An author friend told me about an exercise she had to do at a writing workshop. She was given a small scrap of paper and envelope. On the paper, she was told to draw a portrait of herself or something that would represent her. When the drawing was completed, she was to fold the paper, stuff it in the envelope, and seal the envelope shut. That's where the Inner Critic belongs. Out of sight, out of earshot, out of mind.

To listen to The Inner Critic, to believe the words, to internalize the words is destructive. Those negative words destroy creativity and spirit. Harry Chapin's Flowers are Red illustrates the point.

The Inner Critic exercise was a good one, but it hit home for me when Himself's karate group was having a discussion about their forms. As martial artists, they worried their forms weren't good enough and when would they ever grasp the elusive ideal of perfection? Could they ever be perfect? Someone brought up  Wabi Sabi, a Japanese concept. Wabi Sabi states: Nothing is perfect. Nothing is permanent and nothing is complete.

There were times I'd worry about making the first mark on a sheet of pristine paper. What would happen if I made a mistake or ruined the paper? The feeling was terrifying, sometimes paralyzing. And silly because no one was going to die if I smeared ink on the paper. Wabi Sabi gave me confidence to try and perhaps fail. I just had to believe in myself and my abilities. I found this concept so freeing applied to myself and my own work. I used to fret that the lettering in my journals wasn't "perfect". Sometimes, I'd tear out journal pages to start again. Which really defeats the purpose of keeping a journal.  Wabi Sabi made me realize, "you don't need the feather to fly, Dumbo." I didn't need to rule up lines. My work became more spontaneous and full of life, and I found I can pretty much write a straight line without guidelines.

I can't make perfect letters, but I can strive for perfection. The work I do today will be better than what I did yesterday. Tomorrow's work will be better than work I did today because I'm still growing, still reaching towards perfection. I'm good enough for today. I'll be better tomorrow.  I have my own voice because I know I won't be happy painting "flowers in neat rows of green and red."

So my friend, embrace Wabi Sabi. Deep down, you know you're good, and you don't need the feather to fly.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Bridal Shower Gift Suite

The girlies and I attended the bridal shower for The Nephew's Fiancée. I found some pretty paper and a bow at Target. Wrote the couple's name on origami paper and folded it into a paper crane for the gift tag. Folded another crane from the gift wrap. 

Strathmore 5 " x 8 " cardstock. Made two origami cranes and an origami heart from origami paper and a scrap of the gift wrap.  Cut the red edge off the card and deckled the front edge. Cranes mate for life. They are a symbol of long life, happiness, good luck, and peace. All things we wish for the young couple.

A scrap of gift wrap glued to the edge of the card adds a dash of color.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Parallel Pen Trials

While at the museum open house, I played with a Pilot Parallel pen. The pen is a cross between a fountain pen with the size range and functionality of a dip pen. The pen comes with ink cartridges, but I don't like the ink. I find it takes too long to dry and sometimes smears. The cartridges when empty can be refilled with writing fluid of choice, but it's a messy procedure.

In a discussion group, someone suggested filling the barrel of the pen instead. I thought this was brilliant because you could easily change the nib size when desired.

First time use takes some fiddling to get the ink to flow. On smooth paper, the pen writes like a dream. I was writing in a Strathmore Visual 140 lb watercolor Journal and had difficulty on the rough paper which I don't encounter with a traditional dip pen. More play time with the pen is needed.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Called The Brother to wish him a happy birthday. Had a nice chat catching up and talking about his son's upcoming wedding.

2. Himself and I went shopping Saturday night. Good thing, too, as the 1 to 3 inches of snow predicted turned into 4+ inches of snow. We were able to have a lazy day.

3. Messy weather on Monday, the girlies and I enjoyed a snow day.

4. Had a play day with my friend, Teague. She baked up some chocolate chip scones I'm fond of and sent me home with some.

5. Some students stopped by during Open House to tell me how much they enjoyed my class. One student submitted an awesome, calligraphic piece done on glass for the student art show.

How was your week?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Souvenir plate Dad's youngest sister brought him from her trip to California. This was one of Dad's favorite expressions. Or, words to that effect. (-;

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Springtime in New England

Friday, 1. April 2016

What a difference a few days make.

Monday, 4. April 2016
Bye bye, daffodils.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Favorite Childhood Books

Found this link and had to share. Make Way for Ducklings was Himself's favorite childhood storybook.  The description just cracked me up. (I was going to say quacked me up, but I resisted the temptation)

"This story is super cute except for the fact that it’s about a bunch of dicks who want to stop all traffic just so they can run around and do whatever the hell they like. I mean, they stopped STORROW DRIVE which, if you’ve ever been to Boston, you know is a major thoroughfare and already horrible with traffic, so basically this family of ducks ruined the day of countless drivers all for their own selfish gain. Moral of the story: if you insist on being a duck, don’t be a dick about it."

Check out the other books, all equally amusing. 21 Favorite Childhood Books That Are Explained As An Adult

My favorite childhood book is Green Eggs and Ham. Is your favorite story listed?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Seasonal Tree

I got carried away with making origami cranes. I found it very relaxing and meditative, but what to do with all of them? A fleeting thought was to make 1,000 paper cranes in reference to a Japanese legend . The other fleeting thought was where would I put them all? Instead, I decided the April tree theme would be paper cranes instead of April showers. In case you are wondering, I folded 27 paper cranes. Only 973 cranes to go.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things. A Day Late

Teapots, MFA Boston, MA
Five good things that happened this week.

1. I saw my first robin in the backyard. Spring is finally here!

2. Had a wonderful Sunday. Had  Easter egg bread for breakfast. Made a roast lamb. Himself made roast sweet potatoes, new potatoes, and carrots with walnuts in a honey glaze. I made a lemon cloud pie. We ate jelly beans, took a nap, and watched Ben Hur

3. Had an appointment. The day was rainy, cold, and raw. I didn't want to leave the house. And then the appointment was cancelled.

4. Because of the holiday baking, I didn't get a chance to collect Prissy's trash or have tea with her. Her son-in-law dropped the trash by the mailboxes and Himself went to collect it. On Tues, I spent the better part of the afternoon with her. Sipping tea and swapping gossip.

5. I took my Thursday afternoon calligraphy class on a field trip for the last day of class. We visited the Prints Department. The curator brought out several, beautiful, illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. As a special treat, she also had a book from Renaissance Germany about swordsmanship. Not only is it exciting to see these eye candy treasures, but also because many of these pieces haven't been viewed in decades.

How was your week?

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

April Fools! 
I made you look. 
You dirty crook. 
You stole your mother's pockabook.