Saturday, February 23, 2008


You know what I love about this time of the year? No, not the 10 inches of reminder in the driveway that winter is still with us. No, not Peeps. They are disgustingly sweet, though they do provide some savage amusement when placed in the microwave to explode.

I love this time of the year, because it is the only time of the year you can get Hot Cross Buns. Hot Cross Buns are made from a sweet yeast dough. Raisins, currants, or dried fruits are baked into the dough. Each bun is iced with a frosting cross. Mention Hot Cross Buns to me and I'm salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs.

The other day I had to take my ma to an eye doctor appointment. Her appointment would end around lunch time so I stopped at the supermarket to pick up some lunch items. First place I headed? Yup, the bakery. There was a whole display of tin pans filled with bunny goodness. Did I pick up an extra pan to take home to my family? D'oh!

This morning I really wanted a Hot Cross Bun. What to do, what to do? I made a batch! Well, I can't really say I made them. I had a recipe from Betty Crocker. Dumped all the ingrediments into the bread machine bucket. Pushed a button. Watched an episode of Chip Morton and voilá, Hot Cross Bun dough! I shaped them into buns, put them in a warm place to proof, and then baked them. When cool, I made a simple powdered sugar glaze.

Thanks to Betty and the bread machine, I can make them any time I want. As The Young One would say, "Sweet!"

Friday, February 22, 2008


Another copycat post from Erica's Friday Five, cars that you have owned or driven.

The first car I learned to drive on was Dad's '66 Olds F-85. I loved the color. Nocturne Mist which was a midnight blue. Then he got another land yacht, a '74 Olds Cutlass Supreme. The car was so big I couldn't see over the hood, and I could barely reach the pedals. I had to sit on the Yellow Pages directory. Got in the habit of using the seatbelt just so I wouldn't slide off the book taking the corners.

The first car I bought myself was a '79 Ford Mustang. Ford scrapped the Mustang II and released the newly styled Mustang. Hubbell, named after Robert Redford's character in The Way We Were, was Metallic Jade Green (as close to British racing green as I could get) with a tan interior. Since this was the first release of the new model, it was a lemon from the get go, but I loved Hubbell. Christmas Eve Day '84, Hubbell and I were on our way to work for an impromptu office Christmas party. Himself was to present me with an engagement ring in the evening. As we got to the top of the ramp on the highway, Hubbell hit a patch of black ice and we spun donuts across 3 lanes of traffic to the median and back, finally slamming into the rock mound the road was cut through. With the help from my guardian angel and the seat belt, we were badly shaken and not stirred. We were lucky it was holiday and there was no traffic or the outcome would have been very different.

Hubbell limped along for another year or so and then I bought a light blue Mercury Topaz (same body as Ford Taurus) I was a married woman now so Halsey (Redford's character in Big Foss, Little Halsey) was a sedate, four door sedan.

By this time, I had left my computer career behind to start a new career as Mama. Since I just needed a car to toodle around town and get to Grandma's, I drove Himself's old car while he got a new one. I drove a series of Ford Escort wagons. None of them had a name. The Brother works for Ford so we were loyal to the brand.

Himself ditched the Escorts for a bigger, nicer Ford Taurus sedan in Metallic Blue Denim. I inherited this car. Had a freak accident. The girls and I were on our way to the pediatrician for a check up when I stopped for gas. As I was pulling into the station, a car was coming at us in reverse, the driver's door was open and the driver waving his arms was running to catch up. The Eldest, around 6 yrs. old, thought we were on Funniest Home Videos. The car dinged the left corner of my bumper and continued to roll across Rte 20 where it finally came to rest after hitting a brand new boat at the marina. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The ding to my bumper was small and there was a black scrape (tire rubber), but the insurance company said the whole bumper was fiberglass and would need to be replaced. Himself scrubbed the black spot off and we decided we could live with the ding, so we took the insurance money and bought a black and white laser printer instead.

Our cars were wearing out about the same time, so I got a brand new car. I wanted a van which I test drove and liked (a Ford). For the first time, I could see over the hood and the whole road. Opted instead for a Taurus wagon in case I had to drive my folks around. The thought turned out to be prophetic. Whoever decided the color label of my wagon must have been color blind. The car is labelled green, but is a metallic greige, sort of grey, sort of beige and in certain light grey with a green tint. The girls call the color Swamp.

Since gas prices were expected to jump, and Himself has a long commute to school, he decided he wanted something much more fuel efficient. He bought an '05 Toyota Corolla in Desert Sand Mica.

I've never gotten a speeding ticket.

What cars did you drive? Did you name them?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Book Tag

Erica tagged me with a book game.
The rules are simple.
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
Find page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.

In keeping with the water theme of pumping out the basement, the book I am re-reading is Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October

...Barclay, I want to see your evaluation of what our friend Ramius will do. Assume he's still the clever bastard we've come to know and love."

"Aye, aye, sir."

What book are you reading?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

First Job

In keeping with ripping off Erica's ideas for blog fodder, this week five things learned from the first job I had.

1. The day after my 16th birthday, Ma told me I had to get a job. She had already made arrangements for me to see the neighbor across the street. He sold to retail artificial floral arrangements. I went to talk to his wife. She said they needed some help, offered to drive me to the factory to check it out. She said it was a dirty place and I might not like it there. I told her it didn't matter whether I liked it or not. Ma said I had to have a job. First lesson, when the big boss tells you to do something, you jump to it.

I actually loved working at the factory. The company was small and employed 7 people. They were a great bunch to work with. The boss, George, treated us very well. I learned how to make artificial floral arrangements, bows, how to pack boxes for shipping and other life skills.

2. One of the first arrangements I learned how to make was done using a small (size of your palm) ceramic planter in the shape of a swan The arrangement took2 flowers at the shoulder, two at the hip and one up the butt. The space in the middle was filled with a filler flower, babies' breath, statice, forge-me-not, or other tiny flowers. The type of flowers and bow colors followed the seasons. , oranges, golds, and browns for the Fall and Thanksgiving, reds and greens for Christmas, pastels for Spring and Easter. One day, I was told 700 of these little arrangements were needed to fill an order. The first 25 were fun to make. After that, the task got old pretty quickly. Lesson learned: sometimes we have to do things that are boring and we don't like.

3. We worked in an old factory building. One area had been partioned off for a retail sales area. George would sell floral stems, tape, colored pots, etc. to do it yourself crafters. My job on Saturdays was to open and man the retail area. For some reason I was not given a key to the building, so the only way to get in, was to walk across the sloping metal roof to crawl through a second story window. It wasn't bad in dry weather, but was a little dicey in wet or icy weather. I'd like to think the lesson learned was confidence and a sense of adventure. I should have learned assertiveness to tell him I ain't walking across the roof.

4. We had to spraypaint 4, 6, and 8 inch plastic pots in seasonal colors. Lesson learned: there is a reason for the warning to do this in a well ventilated area. Always turn on the big fan!

5. I was paid $1.65 per hour which was minimum wage back then. I saved up my money and when I had enough, I bought a pair of Frye cowboy boots. Lessons learned: financial independence, saving for something gives you time to really decide if you really need the item. Those boots were cool, even if I couldn't find a pair like just like Heath's.

What was your first job?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh The Weather Outside

Oh the weather outside is crappy,

Inside I’m not too happy

With all of this rain and snow,

The water has no place to go.

All afternoon, I’ve been vaccing,

I’d rather have been napping,

With all of this rain and snow

The water has no place to go.

I wish the rain would freeze,

The mold is making me sneeze

With all of this rain and snow

The water has no place to go.

There is no sign of stopping,

I’m glad I’m vaccing and not mopping.

With all of this rain and snow,

The water has no place to.

In tongues I have been speaking,

About my basement that is leaking

I wish I had some place to go

Without this damn rain and snow.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Naughty Years

Erica at On the Write Path, has blogged about five things from middle school, grades 5 through 9. Well, I can’t blog about middle school because I didn’t go to middle school. I was still at St. Patrick’s, technically an elementary school. In the photograph, the graduating class of 1969 poses for a picture on the steps in front of the auditorium. In case you’re looking for me, I’m the one in the plaid skirt. Monsignor Mahoney is wearing the cassock. Father “Three Our Fathers and Three Hail Mary’s” Murray is to his left. Charlie is wearing a regular dress. MP and Mother Superior are wearing the modified habits.
Oh, and people have been remarking about my “incredible” memory. I think it’s a savant thing. Truth be told, I loved school. So, now some of the stories from the naughty years.
Fifth Grade: Sister Stellan was the art teacher for the entire school. This particular year, there was to be a Diocesan wide art fair at the end of the year. We spent the whole year preparing for the art fair. We did absotively no work at all! No math. No history. Well, we did have religion class, but we were in a parochial school so that was a given. I did an ink print of St. Michael the Archangel for the fair. I won an honorable mention. The fair was broadcast on the local PBS channel. My print was done in red ink so didn’t show up on the black and white broadcast very well. No big deal, Sister was still pleased. Me, too.
Sixth Grade: We had Sister Helen Charles. We called her Charlie. Not to her face of course! She told us personal things about herself. She told us her real name! She took her religious name from her mother and a favorite, (maybe only) brother. She told us she earned only 17 cents an hour. Our classroom faced the main street. Every time a siren sounded, we had to stand and say a “Hail, Mary.” We were up and down constantly praying, a bit like Catholic aerobics. We started French classes. If we heard a siren, we had to say the “Hail Mary” in French. Je vous salut Marie… I learned important French phrases. Ma petite soeur a avale un bouton. My little sister swallowed a button. The nuns decorated the bulletin boards in the classroom with felted paper. Only the holiest of holy girls were chosen to cut out the expensive paper. I was lefthanded and never chosen. When it came to penmanship, the nuns, bless their hearts, never forced me to switch hands. They did insist my paper be slanted in the same way a right handed person would hold the paper. The bottom left corner of the paper, had to point to the middle button on my uniform blouse. Everytime, Charlie saw me canting my paper the other way, she’d yank my paper back to the proper position. Because of this, I became a hooker. Well, not with my elbow twisted around, I cock my wrist and approach the line of writing from above the as opposed to below. A new convent was built for the nuns. We used to have recess in a tiny area behind the school, but now we played on a hard topped area next to the new convent. Hopscotch, Chinese jump rope and tag were very popular. Lot of us loved the singing group, The Monkees. I had a crush on Davy Jones. Charlie was fond of the comic strip Peanuts and Linus was her favorite. For Christmas that year, she got 48 boxes of Linus stationery made by Hallmark.
Charlie told me I was unique. I went home and looked the word up in the dictionary. In a world where we all dressed alike, talked alike, thought alike, I thought it was a very high compliment.
Seventh Grade: Sister Donatus was transferred and we got a new Mother Superior, Sister Mary Agnolita. We also got new uniforms. The ugliest grey, green plaid wool you have ever seen. And stupid green beanies for the cooler weather. The 7th and 8th grade girls got to wear a skirt and blouse instead of the jumper. My brother was dating a girl who was going to hair dresser school. She cut my hair very short, like the model Twiggy. I loved my short do and have been wearing it very short ever since. Some of our classmates had left and we got some new ones. We were down to 44 and still the largest class to go through the school. Dougie Horton got held back. I had a crush on Dougie. Green Hornet was a popular show and I had a hat like the Green Hornet’s chauffeur, Kato. Dougie called me Kato , but I didn’t mind. We also moved into a new wing that had been built. A decision to split the classes into two smaller grades instead of a huge one like mine, had been made. The addition was to accommodate the double graders coming up. We had desks that were made of formica and opened from the top. The desks and chairs were also moveable. Our desks in the old building were wood and wrought iron and bolted to the floor. We had to slide our books into an opening in the front of the desk. During recess from now through 8th grade, we were separated from our male classmates. They continued to have recess by the convent. The 7thth grade girls were shepherded across the street to play in the new church parking lot on Mulligan St. and 8 We played kick ball. Liz Raddock was one of my best friends. Her father owned the pharmacy on the corner. The nuns forbade us from going to the pharmacy. Liz used to take the daily receipts to the bank for her dad so the nuns made an exception. I used to tag along after Liz. Liz’s dad used to let us have a candy bar from the candy case. I loved Walnettos. Wanna Walnetto? Just like the dirty old man said on Laugh-In. We got a new nun, but we were such a horrible class, she had a nervous breakdown. Charlie came back to us. And OHMYGAWD she was wearing a regular dress and short veil! She had legs! And curly hair on her head. We had been convinced that nuns didn’t have feet though we did see their funny nun shoes. We also thought they were bald and that’s why they wore the wimple. Charlie sewed her own dress. It was red wool. Looked very itchy.
It was decided that we would try changing classes like they did in the public school. The nuns couldn’t handle all of us milling around in the corridor so it was decided we would stay in the classroom and the nuns would move around. We had Charlie for English, Spelling, Religion, French, Reading, Geography, and History. We had Sister Marion Patricia, nicknamed MP for math and science. New Math was the teaching method of the century. I couldn’t even get the hang of old math. The nuns weren’t that great at it either.
Report card day was a stomach twisting event. We would be lined up in alphabetical order. Boys first and then girls. I was the second to the last in my class. I can remember standing in line biting my nails and shaking. Monsignor Mahoney would hand out the report cards. There would be hell to pay if you didn’t do well, especially the conduct and effort grade. Sometimes he got physical with the boys, never the girls though we were verbally abused. He would yell at us until we were reduced to tears. Tell us how stupid we were.
The year was spent in preparation for confirmation. We had to decide what our confirmation name was going to be. We were to pick a Saint whom we admired. My brother had attended a prep school, St Sebastian’s Country Day School. I had been very taken with the story of the Roman soldier turned Christian. There was a cool statue of Sebastian at the school pierced with arrows. Nope, the nuns wouldn’t allow the name because it was a man’s name. Try again. Xavier because it was a cool name. Nope. Tarcissius. Pick a woman’s name! I couldn’t think of anything so put Marie down on my card. Wasn’t as clever as my friend, Pam. She wanted Augustine. Nope. Augstina. Good choice. I could have tried Sebastiana or Xaviera. Oh well. It’s not like the name is used beyond the confirmation ceremony. We had 50 catchechism questions that we had to memorize because the Bishop would be asking these questions. Periodically, All through school we had been told we were better than the public school children. And now we had to prove it. The day before confirmation day, no one could remember one of the last questions. It was extremely long. As punishment, we had to write out that question 50 times and deliver it to the rectory before the ceremony or we would not be allowed to be confirmed. I got the question written out 47 times. The ceremony was to be at 2pm on 1. May. My parents took me into Boston to a photographer to have a professional portrait of me done in my confirmation robes. All I could think about was I hadn’t finished writing out the questions. I begged my Dad to take what I had written to the rectory. He did. My friend Pam Robinson had written out the question all 50 times and she took the assignment over to the rectory herself. She said Monsignor took the paper, didn’t look at them and just tore them up in front of her and threw them in the wastebasket. He was a real SOB. Before we got stuck with him he was an Army chaplain. Had risen to the rank of full bird colonel. We made our confirmation and Bishop Reilly never even asked us a single question!
Eight Grade. MP was our main teacher, but we still had Charlie. We had Charlie for 3 years running! MP still did math and science and also religion. Charlie had the rest of the classes. I had nice penmanship, though not nice enough to win a penmanship medal. That lefthanded thing. I spent hours practicing penmanship. Looking at how adults wrote and picked out the cool way they made this letter or that letter. I spent many happy hours changing my handwriting so it wouldn’t look like Palmer method the nuns taught.
Some things in 7th and 8th grade are blurred together because we did them in both classes. We took turns working in the cafeteria. The girls helped the lunch ladies serve the food and the boys ran the dishwasher. We usually finished before the class came back from recess, but not enough time to join our classmates. We ended up girls and boys fooling around in the classroom. One time, Gerry Hanrahan had some how gotten Joey Haswell’s loafer off. He stuck it on the end of the window pole. The windows were something like 15 feet high so a pole with a special hook was used to open the top sash. Anyway, Gerry had the shoe on the end of the pole and opened the bottom sash and stuck the pole out and shoe out the window. The shoe fell off and Joey had to scramble to get outside, get his shoe, and get back to class without getting caught.
During the month of May, a large statue of the Virgin Mary was set on a small shrine at the front of the classroom. Each morning, two girls would process with a small, artificial floral crown that would be placed on the statues head. My partner was usually Mary Ann Sullivan, thank God she was tall because I couldn’t reach the top of the statue. Mary let me carry the crown. We all had to sing the hymn: Oh Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today. Queen of the Angels. Queen of the May.
All through my school years, the first Friday of the month was spent at Mass. We also got Holy Days of Obligation off from school and feast days. We had to attend an 8am Mass on the Holy Day. Attendance would be taken and then we would be dismissed. March was a great month. March 17 was St. Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of the school. We had to greet the nuns on the steps after Mass with, Top o’ the mornin’ to you, Sister. And she would reply “And the rest of the day to yourself.” Then we could go home. Two days later on March 19 was St. Joseph’s day. The sisters were of the order of St. Joseph so we got their patron saint day off too. We were forbidden to go to Sussenburger’s Bakery. Have no idea why we were forbidden. The way the nuns talked, going to Sussenburger’s was like committing a mortal sin, like not going to Mass or knowingly eating meat on Friday. We went anyways. I don’t think the Sussenburger’s minded. Jelly donuts and cherry tonic (soda or pop to you Land of Here There Be Dragon Dwellers) was usually the favorite choice.
Kevin Flynn’s little brother Patrick was hit and killed by a car while riding his bicycle. We had to attend the funeral Mass. I have never seen anything so sad as when the little white casket was escorted into the church. All the eighth grade girls cried.
On Good Friday, since we would have the day off from school, two at a time, we had to sign up for an hour to sit in front of the Monstrance, a large golden vessel shaped like a sunburst that held a consecrated host. This was supposed to be an hour of adoration and devotion. A wake of sorts. We sat in the lower church and cracked jokes. Tried to make our partner laugh. Dared each other to go on the altar to kiss the feet of the statues. At that time, lay people were not allowed beyond the altar rail. It was considered a mortal sin. After sitting for our hour, we went for donuts at Sussenburger’s Bakery.
One time MP took 3 or 4 of us over to the church. She was going to lay out a new altar cloth and decorate the altar with fresh flowers. She left us in the sacristy. In the corner of the room was a large, plastic bag filled with communion wafers. The church had just got in a new delivery. We were Heathens and, we were hungry so we bore a small hole into the bag and had a snack. Don’t get your panties in a bunch, they were unblessed wafers!
By 7th and 8th grade, we became a very close knit class. That was the fault of the nuns. If one of us did something wrong, the entire class would be punished. They thought the “good” kids would gang up on the “bad one”. All it did was make us stick by one another. Us against them. With 44 of us, someone was bound to slip up. I spent nearly every day of 7th and 8th grade after school and had to walk home after completing a punishment assignment. Usually the punishment was copying spelling words, writing out the definition and using them in a sentence. One day, MP had to leave the classroom. She left the adjoining door to the 6th grade open. Of course, we started to cut up and
make lots of noise as soon as MP disappeared across the threshold. The 6th grade nun, Sister Andrew, came in and hollered at us. We had to stay after school and her punishment was we had to write out the name of the states and their capitols. Gerry Hanrahan had a pecil box with a dial on it. You turned the dial and in a small window a state name and its capitol would appear! Gerry was holding up his desk lid with his head and calling out the states and capitols like Bingo. Sister Andrew came in. The room went deathly silent. I sat next to Gerry and tried to hiss at him and get his attention to warn him Sister was on the warpath. Sister Andrew came up in front of his desk. Gerry was still calling out the states. Sister took the lid back and slammed him in the head with it. So much for Christian charity. It’s a wonder the kid didn’t end up with a concussion. Our papers were collected, torn up, and thrown away, and we had to start all over again. Another day, I missed the bus and had to walk the nearly 2 miles home. I always walked up Washington St. instead of Walnut St. just so I could go by Dougie Horton’s house.
When I was in 7th grade, pantyhose was invented. When I was in 8th grade, the mini skirt became vogue. Both were forbidden to us. We rode the bus with the public school kids and they made fun of our uniforms. To try to fit in, we would roll our skirts up real short. We wore pantyhose too. There was a low stone wall in front of the new addition. Every morning, you would see the 7th and 8th grade girls unrolling skirts to regulation length and putting knee socks or ankle socks (May and June) over the pantyhose. Friday was uniform inspection day. The girls would be escorted out into the corridor. Sometimes the nun would make us kneel on the floor as she inspected the line. Our skirts had to pool on the floor or we would be instantly dismissed and sent home with a note that the skirt had to be lengthened before we would be allowed back to the classroom. Other times, we would have to stand at attention while the nun measured with a yardstick the distance between the floor and the hem of our skirt. Our skirts were to fall to our knee cap.
The basement of the new building was called the All-Purpose Room. It was really a bomb shelter. Along one wall were stacked 55 gallon drums of water. We had recess inside when the weather was bad. The science fairs were held there. One of the nuns taught the girls Greek dancing. It was the only time I ever had gym in parochial school.
The boys were sent to the rectory while MP talked to us girls. It was our sex education class. She read a passage from the Bible, and “Adam knew Eve” with no other explanation as if we knew what it was supposed to mean. Then she read a page of begats. That was it. Never heard what talk the boys got.
The nuns tried to talk us girls into hearing the call of the vocation. The call to become a nun. All circuits are busy, please place your call at a later time.
My mother wanted me to take the entrance exam to Mother Elizabeth Seton High School. I refused. I had enough of the nuns.
Graduation. We got small pin with school shield and class year 1969. My mother bought me a lace dress which wasn’t bad, but it was the hated pink color. Patty Burke hosted a pool party at her home. I had a black two piece bathing suit with white daisies. Kevin Flynn and Dougie Horton threw me in the pool. I didn’t mind.
Ninth Grade: Finally away from the nuns and the freedom of public school. I went to Henry Wilson Jr. High School. Henry Wilson was the 18th Vice President of the US and he had a cobbler shop in town. What a culture shock public school was! We could wear what we wanted, except the girls could not wear trousers. There was a dress code. No jeans for the boys. They had to wear button down shirts or polos, no tees, and slacks with a belt. We had to wear skirts or dresses. They could be mini skirts! We were painfully behind the public school in math and science. I didn’t get put in dummy math, but in slower paced Algebra class. I didn’t mind. I had the handsome Mr. Tupper for math. He made my heart sing and for the first time, I started getting A’s in math. The first day I embarrassed myself when he called on me. I stood up on the right side of my seat to answer as I had been trained for eight years. My classmates laughed at me. Mr. Tupper kindly told me it wasn’t necessary to stand to recite. I replied “Yes, sih”, as I almost said “sister” automatically. Managed to spit out “sir”. I sat down with my cheeks burning a flaming red. Later in the year, some girls knew I had a terrible crush on him and they made me ask him for a ladies’ choice dance at the Spring Dance. He accepted and I died and went to heaven. I wore a silver lame dress with silver slippers. Mr. Tupper smelled of Old Spice aftershave. He held my hand and we danced a slow dance. Don’t remember the song. I haven’t washed my hand since!
The school would not give any of the parochial school kids credit for the 3 yrs of French we had, so I had to repeat French all over again. On the first day of class, the French teacher, Mrs. Colombo, asked who had attended parochial school. I remembered not to stand up, but just raised my hand. She said: You have already had what I am teaching this year. I will not call on your for the entire year. And she didn’t. I got an A in French.
For some reason, I was placed in an English class full of juvenile delinquents. Now, we might have been behind the public school when it came to math and science, but we were light years ahead of them when it came to English. They were just learning how to diagram sentences in 9th grade. I had learned how to do that in 3rd grade. I was the only kid in that class who turned in homework. By the time October rolled around, the teacher took me aside and said, you shouldn’t be in this class, I’m recommending you for honors. I had no clue what that meant until I found out I was being placed in the Honors English class, an advanced class. That didn’t bother me, but I was so upset to find out that Honors English met at the same time as Mr. Tupper’s math class. I was being moved! He escorted me to my new English class. I cried the whole way and he gave me a hug and said he would miss me. My new English teacher, was Miss Coss. She was just out of teacher’s college, very young and very fun. We did a lot of creative writing in her class. Since I was new to the school, I didn’t have very many friends. Most of the kids had been with each other since kindergarten. Miss Coss had to leave the classroom to go to the office. I pulled out a paperback Man from U.N.C.L.E book. A girl named Teague came up to me and said: Wow, you like U.N.C.L.E too! We became good friends and she’s my best friend 38 years later. The guidance department thought since I
had done so well in Mr. Tupper’s math class, I would probably do fine in the regular Algebra I class. The first day in the new algebra class, Miss Mahoney told me she was giving a quiz, but she wouldn’t grade mine. She just wanted to see where I was in math. A day or two later, she passed the papers back. She placed mine face down on the desk so no one would see the grade. “We have an awful lot of work to do” she whispered. I got a 50. Miss Mahoney had her brighter students tutor her slower students after class. My tutor’s name was Annmarie Piscopo. Annmarie was a new girl too having moved from Dorchester, near Boston. She was very patient with me and she helped me to manage a B for the whole year.
Another culture shock was gym class. We had to wear a navy blue, one piece, short coverall that was sleeveless. When we went outside, we had to wear a white sweatshirt over it. The sleeves were cut small and cut into your armpits. To this day, I hate wearing sleeveless things. I hated gym class. We had to do the President’s Fitness test. Didn’t do well on that one. I could Greek dance, but that wasn’t offered. It was rumored that Mrs. Casey was a pervert. We had to take showers after gym. Each girl had her own shower stall with a dressing room in front. Supposedly, Mrs. Casey would come in and stick her arm into the shower to make sure you were taking a shower. It never happened to me. Most of us never took a shower. We just dampened the towel. Towels were inspected for proper dampness.
Mr. Meagher was the history teacher. He was a good looking fella, but he creeped me out. My seat was right in front of his desk. He used to stare at my boobs. Not that I had that much to stare at. It was rumored he was a pervert too. I used to hold my history book up in front of me.
If you stuck through all of this, thank you, blogging is so much cheaper than therapy. So what about you? Want to play?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Class Project

I like to include small projects in my classes so students can see and use some practical applications of calligraphy. Besides, most people like to have something to take home to hang on the fridge and wow family and friends.

As beginners, our writing is quite large and we may not have learned all our Italic letters so projects like books, poems, and quotes are beyond us at this step of the journey.

Circle of Crafters has some cute card templates available free. I adapted their Teddy card instructions to use with my beginners on Saturday. The cards will be 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" or a standard (American) sheet of paper folded in half. Held in the landscape format, this will give the beginners plenty of room to write a sentiment. We haven't learned all our letters yet, as this is only week 3, but we know the letters to be able to write "be mine".

Next step, to gather the paper, scrap paper and glue sticks they'll need to complete the project. All this preparation to make a card that will take less than one hour. And some people think all art teachers do is play.
This card is for Himself. The inside sentiment is how I sign my emails to Himself. Higgins Calligraphy ink and Speedball 1

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Valentine/Thank Ewe

This card is a valentine/thank ewe for my friend, Lambie. She's always making cinnamon buns for me and home made marshmallows, too. I'm pretty sure Lambie doesn't read my blog, but if you do, Lambie, you know how worthy you are.

The card was adapted from the scottie dog card found at Circle of Crafters. A lamb was chosen because Lambie used to raise sheep to spin wool. Red is her favorite color. The hardest part of the card was the threading the needle and doing the chain stitch. Almost opted for pasting a heart on a doily and calling it good.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Five Things from Elementary School

Erica at On The Write Path does a Friday Five entry. This week’s entry is five memories from elementary school. I told her I’d play too.

Kindergarten: Walnut Hill Nursery School and Kindergarten. Mr. Whittaker, the owner and lead teacher’s husband, picked a bunch of us up in a beat up old station wagon. He smoked cigars and I complained loudly to Ma and Dad about Mr. Whittaker’s stinky cigars. I was a paste eater. It had such a pleasant smell and the taste was not bad either. We were given scissors to cut out some shape. Mrs. Whittaker leaped over four tables trying to get to me as she screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Being left handed, the only way I could get those stupid blunt scissors to cut paper was to turn them upside down and cut towards me. She made me use my right hand to cut. I stayed all day at kindergarten because my mother worked. Mrs. Whittaker made me lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day because that’s all I would eat. I took a nap after lunch on a cot with my special blankie. I got saltine crackers and orange juice for a snack. Mr. Whittaker puffing away on his stinky cigar would take me home.

First Grade: My first year at St. Patrick’s School. We wore a maroon uniform jumper with a maroon clip on Western tie. I was a rebel because my uniform blouses had a picot edge to the Peter Pan collar instead of straight. My cousin, Denise, went to Sacred Heart in East Boston. She was two years older than me and I wore her hand me downs. Ma couldn’t see buying the plain collar blouses when Denise’s blouses were perfectly good. My first grade teacher was Sister Marie Patrice. The eighth grade boys called her “The Beak” because she had a very sharp nose. She didn’t seem to have much patience with first graders. She yelled at all 52 of us a lot. We were terrified of her. One day she scared Collette Glynn so badly, poor Collette wet herself. Sister was not happy and made Collette clean up the floor. In May we had a May Procession on 1. May to crown the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lisa Lentini, Joey Haswell, and myself were the three tiniest kids in the whole school so we go to lead the May Procession. Lisa and I were flower girls and carried little flowered baskets. I wore a white dress with embroidered pansies. Joey wore a white suit and carried Mary’s floral crown on a white satin pillow. An 8th grade girl was chosen to crown the statue. The girl wore her mother’s white wedding gown. We held up traffic as the nuns had us leading the whole school (about 200 students) as we crossed West Central Street to the church.

Second Grade: Sister Mary Ethel was plump and always smiling. We got a new Mother Superior, Sister Mary Donatus. She was called Sister Mary Donuts behind her back. We got a new uniform too. Ma was not happy because she had spent good money to buy my uniform for first grade and it still fit! We got a very pretty green plaid with a solid green tie and green knee socks which made more sense for a school whose patron saint was Saint Patrick. We wore white ankle socks beginning May 1 to June. I still wore Denise’s hand me down blouses. During the winter months, we could wear slacks or snowpants under our uniform to school, but had to remove them in the classroom. We also got to participate in the Pope Pius X Reading program. You got a pin for reading 5 books. Another for reading 10. Then fancy certificates for 15, 20, 25. Lisa and Joey both grew over the summer. I was the shortest in the class and got to sit in the first row, first seat. Lisa sat behind me, and Joey sat on my left. (The rows went girl, boy). Because I was in the first row, first seat, I got to be the errand girl. My job was to collect the attendance and hot lunch slips from each class. There was a small wooden mailbox outside each classroom. I had to stand on tippy toe to reach. While running errands one day, Sister Mary Donatus came flying out of her office with her black veil flying behind her like a death sail. Her rosary beads cinctured around her waist clacked like a death knell. Some of the eighth grade boys (my brother included) were just outside her office pitching pennies against the statue of St. Patrick. Stephen Herd shouted in tongues which is why Sister came out of her office like a banshee. Stephen was a pretty big kid. I heard he had been in eighth grade for three years. Sister Mary Donatus was not a large woman. She was trim and maybe was 5’ 5”. With her left hand, she picked Stephen up by his necktie and collar of his shirt and bashed him against the wall. With her right hand, she slapped his face. I was so terrified I shook for days. Towards the end of the year, we got Lindy ballpoint pens with blue ink and we learned Palmer cursive. I was disappointed we didn’t get to use pen and ink. Our desks were bolted to the floor and had an inkwell. Second grade we made our first penance. We quickly learned to go to Fr. Murray. No matter what you did, penance was always 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Marys. Father, I disobeyed my mother. 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Marys. Father, I murdered 13 people using an axe. 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Marys. First Communion was on March 31. It was freezing cold and rainy. We didn’t have a procession from the school to the church. We went downstairs to the lower church and took off our coats and processed to the upper church. I loved visiting the third grade nun on my errand, Sister Concepta made a fuss over me. My grandma had taught me how to count in Italian so Sister let me show off. She was always telling me how she was looking forward to having me in 3rd grade. Four of my classmates left parochial school. We were down to 48 and still the largest class to go through the school.

Third Grade: Over the summer, Sister Concepta was transferred to a school in Haverhill. (Yes, birthplace of Big Valley’s, Peter Breck). We got Miss Coomba. A lay teacher! She was a stout woman and had a maroon and black print dress with ¾ sleeves. She wore that dress as much as we wore our uniforms. We thought she looked like a crab in that dress. We found out her birthday was March 30 and we gave her a birthday party. She was so surprised.

Fourth Grade: We were now considered upper classmen and moved upstairs to the second floor. We had Sister Anita. She was the same height as me. She was also a thousand years old and made a prune look smooth skinned. (Several years later, a new neighbor moved across the street and he told me he had Sr. Anita when he was in 4th grade. He was 35 when he moved across the street) Sister Anita was also deaf as a post. We used to go stand in front of her and move our lips as if we were talking. It was a big yuck to hear her yell, “Speak up!” On April Fool’s Day, row one, my row decided at 9am we would all push our math books off our desk. 9am. Our math books hit the floor. Sister Anita wasn’t that deaf and row one had to stay after school and copy words from our spelling book, give the definition and used the word in a sentence as punishment. In the Spring, the church got a new steeple. Monsignor McHale had the entire school sit on the front lawn to watch the giant crane lift the new copper steeple into place. He said it was something we would never see again. One day, he stopped the busses at the front of the school and had the drivers bring us kids back home. He said the boiler was broken in the school and there was no heat. Later, he told us there was nothing wrong with the boiler, but it was such a nice day and he remembered when he was a kid in school how he would have loved a day off for no reason other than the sun was shining. He retired after our 4th grade year and we were sorry to see him leave.
What about you? Want to play?

Iris Folding

Was chatting with Lambie. She's making up some missed classes in Callinana's class. Lambie told me next week, they would be working on Iris folding to make valentines.

I wasn't sure what it was. Lambie explained it was folded strips of paper, and I started thinking origami and no way could I do that because I have problems telling my left from my other left. Question Mark A quick internet search for directions led me to Circle of Crafters where I found this heart pattern.

Strips of paper are cut and folded and then placed over the pattern and taped. You work from the reverse side. The craft originated in Holland and is reminiscent of the iris of a camera lens. The center of the iris is traditionally filled with a scrap of holographic paper, but I used a bit of cardstock and a button.

I thought it might make a good project for my class of beginners. They could make a card and then letter the inside saying. The folding directions were not difficult. Seriously, if I could do this, anyone can. However, the amount of prep time and making the card was almost an hour, half my class time. Then there is the question of supplies. Invariably, one student won't bring in any supplies for herself. Another student will run out and buy a whole book of scrapbook paper instead of finding scraps from home (e.g. gift wrap). I have tons of paper. I'm not thrilled with the idea of cutting and folding enough strips of paper for 6 people for the sake of saving time.

Then again, I'm not sure I enjoyed the craft. I'm not sure if the colors just don't grab me. They looked fine in large sheets. The heart's ok, potentially harmless. I think the folding was just too tedious for me. Nice to know, but I 'spect I'll pass.