Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I had to fill my '04 Taurus wagon up with gas this morning. $3.53 per gallon in Sutton. It killed me to see the final tally hit $40.00, to me a staggering sum. For that amount of money, I could have bought:

4 bags of diapers when The Eldest was an infant.
4 fill ups of gas for my '79 Mustang
FIOS internet access for my dad's boat anchor (aka the computer he never turns on)
4,000 pieces of penny candy when penny candy actually cost a penny
4 tickets to a movie matinee (before 6pm) with $8 change left over.
when my dad was buying gas for his Dodge in the early 60's, he would have gotten 148 fill ups.
400 Hershey bars (or Zero, Sky Way, Bit O' Honey) when I was a kid
160 bottles of soda from a machine when I was a kid
400 bottles of Coke when I did temp work at the Coca Cola Bottling Plant
267 cones of ice cream with a dip top (candy coating) when I was a kid
22 round trips via the Mass Pike to visit my folks

So, how much did you pay for gas at your last fill up? What could you buy with that amount of money?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Heath

Happy Birthday to Lee Majors. He may be remembered as The Six Million Dollar Man or The Fall Guy to most, but he'll always be Heath to me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Dark Side Revisited

At the museum open house the other night, my table display included a few ATCs recently done. A woman stopped by my table and admired one, a vampire with the caption "Call me" She asked if it was for sale. Well, ATCs are never to be sold only traded. She was trying to think of what she had that she could trade. She had a friend she wanted to gift. The friend would go wild when she saw the vamp. I didn't really want to part with it as I really liked the card as well, but I gave it to her. In a way it's flattering to have your work admired and I knew I could always make another. Who knows, maybe there's a market for this sort of thing.

Though as I sit here typing, I am kicking myself. I should have told her I'd give her the card, if she signed up for my Monday night calligraphy class. What a dolt not to think of that sooner! LOL

I spent a pleasant afternoon in the sunroom combing magazines for suitable pictures. The technique involves mounting the magazine pic onto a 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" card. Gesso is dry brushed over the picture, only to soften not to obliterate. The fun part is doodling and painting the pic. The lettering was done with a Brause 1.5 mm and Ziller Glossy Black. I'm not that happy with the lettering, though I do love the "k". It's been a while since I've done Fraktur. I practiced on scrap paper, but I think I over practiced.

The second card should be filed under the heading warped humor.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another Altered Pig

I just can't resist altering the piggy banks. This Mafundsalo (My funds are low) done with a Monopoly theme. It looks like the piggy is wearing a cape, but those are supposed to be wings. His top hat is the remnant of our Monopoly game.

Materials: ceramic pig from Michael's, Monopoly images turned into stickers using Xyron 150, acrylic gouache, crow quill, Mod Podge

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vintage Whine

While Spring cleaning The Young One’s room, I found a picture that brought back lots of memories and made me laugh. The timing for finding the picture is eerily coincidental as it was four years ago this month, that it was taken.

Four years ago, The Young One was in sixth grade. April was an incredibly busy time as the children were getting ready to participate in a week long field trip called Nature’s Class Room. They would travel to Connecticut the week before the April school vacation and spend the week learning about nature and conservation. Parents were given a long list of items the children needed because the trip was held rain or shine.

About this time, the Fifth Grade Teacher, bless her heart, thought it would be fun for the fifth and sixth graders to participate in a social studies fair. This was on the scale of a science fair and would take place the week after the April vacation. Each child was assigned a topic.

When I saw the picture, nostalgia for a vintage whine kicked in. About this time, I was hanging out in a chatroom for Big Valley fanfictions writers. I wasn’t writing fanfiction at the time, so I whine loud and long about the dreaded Roman project. The authors in the chatroom were patient and sympathetic while I vented:

The teacher in her whimsical moment had decided the children would make costumes. They were told sheets wrapped around them would not be acceptable. The children also had to make something that had to do with their topic, (a food, an invention, etc.). They had to write a three page paper prepare a tri-fold presentation board, and then make a presentation at the fair.

Not to mention the fair was ill timed. The sixth grade parents had to spend time packing up their kids. The sixth grade children lost a week of project time because they were in Connecticut which meant their vacation week was spent working on the project. Parents spent the week making the costume, working on parts of the project, and nagging their offspring to write the ^@#%$# paper.

The project topic was too broad and beyond the scope of a sixth grader. Not many 11 or 12 year olds had the skills necessary to decide what material to make the costume from, buy the appropriate yardage, make a pattern, sew, etc. And as to food. I’m glad I didn’t have to learn how to prepare peacock tongues or some other Roman delicacy.

Fortunately, The Young One’s topic was Julius Caesar. What did Caesar make before he became emperor? That’s right, war. I hired my friend Lambie to sew a Roman Centurian’s costume. In her research, The Young One found Caesar had built a bridge to cross the Rhine to sack the Germans. The Young One was sent outside to gather sticks to make a bridge which was hot glued together. Yeah, I know, Caesar didn’t have liquid nails, but tough cookies.

I photographed The Young One sitting on a chair and then with her by my side, we played with the pictures in Paint Shop Pro. The Young One astride a white horse leading a phalanx of soldiers in parade by the Colliseum, and then prepared for battle coming across the bridge. I took a head shot of The Young One and through Paint Shop Pro we “minted” coins. (Caesar was the first emperor to mint coins with his own image) We made stickers and stuck them on York Peppermint Patties. Headings for the presentation board were typed in Latin, well as near as Latin for Dummies could get me. No letter J or U because the Romans didn’t have those letters.

At the fair, I wandered around passing out the mints to the fifth graders (American Colonies) and the sixth graders for all their hard work. At one point, the Third Grade Teacher, another notorious for giving parent vs. parent projects, asked me what I thought. I slapped a mint in her hand and said, “This better get me an A.”

The Fifth Grade Teacher had the misfortune to approach me. She asked me what I thought. Now I honestly had no intention of raining on her parade. She was a very young teacher full of whimsical ideas, but she asked. She had approached me with a broad smile which quickly faded. She took several steps back and all but ran away. Hey, she asked!

The Young One’s paper was approximately 20 pages long. When the teacher was collecting the papers, she asked about the length. “Oh, these pages are my paper,” said The Young One fingering her three pages. “The rest is my mother’s paper.”

The Young One’s paper was returned. There were no correction marks on any of the misspellings or use of punctuation. There was an A, though I doubt the teacher read the paper.

The memory is funny now, it wasn’t then. On the other hand, I wouldn’t give up the aggravation because while whining in the chatroom, I made some very close friends and later had the opportunity and thrill of meeting two of them in person.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Six Words

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Got this idea from a piece on Good Morning, America. Sum up your life in a six word sentence or phrase.

Here's a couple of mine:

Dancing as fast as I can.

I thought I had another week.

What about you? What six word sentence or phrase represents you?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Little Book of Dreams

In trying to reduce clutter, I came across a stack of loser lottery tickets. I thought they would make good pages for a small book. I cut up a brown Outback doggy bag because I liked the pattern to make the cover. On each lottery ticket I wrote things like college education, mortgage, car loans, vacation, retirement, etc. The pages were bound using a scrap of leather lacing. Walnut ink, crow quill, Brause 1mm, Ziller Glossy Black

How very green of me to recyle. How's that for procrastination? Me thinks the emperor is naked.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Altered Dreams

This afternoon, I took the...not sure whether to call it a sculpture or a doll. Anyway, I took my altered box doll sculpture (just to cover all the bases) to the Worcester Art Museum where I teach beginner calligraphy to adults. Each Spring, the faculty participates in an art show. This year, the show was called a Do It Yourself - Work in Progress, and we had to hang or install our work ourselves.

I wasn't sure if there would be a hook where I could hang the doll. Fortunately, she can sit without tipping over so I found a stand, right up front in the Higgins Education Wing. Tee hee.

I ran into some engineering problems while I was setting her up. Isn't that the way it works? She worked fine at home, but on her stand in the museum, her head fell forward. I had brought some double stick tape with me, and was trying to shim her head to her neck. Wouldn't you know I picked a stand that was just a tad too tall for me to work at?

I moved further down the hall to a stand I could work comfortably at while standing up, but the lighting wasn't very good. Besides, my colleague, Callinana's piece was hanging on the wall near the first stand so I moved back. No one else was installing their work so no one hollered at me to just pick a spot and stick with it. My boss did walk by and scared the juice out of me when she said hello.

Finally, I got the doll all sitting pretty and took a couple of snaps of her. The front and inside are not finished. The label by the pink butterfly pin reads "Dream". The back, nightmares, is complete.

The show will run from from 11. April to 4. May 2008. The artist reception will coincide with the Education Department Open House on 17. April 2008 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM. If you're in the area stop on by to say "hey", see some amazing works of art in progress, have an hors d'oeuvre or two, and maybe sign up to take a class. Calligraphy I/II on Monday nights, 6:30 to 9:30PM, 12. May to 30. June 2008 would be a good choice. (-;