Saturday, May 30, 2009


I have a modest wish and that is to keep house unexpected company drop in clean. My house used to be kept in this fashion when I was a newlywed and when the girls were small. Then driving them to and from school and after school activities, plus driving my elderly parents around, seems things got tossed onto the dining room table before I was running out again. I'd end up doing a cleaning frenzy when company was coming, but that left me worn out and junk piled in my bedroom. That was part of the frenzy. Toss stuff in my bedroom and just shut the door. Seemed I couldn't get out of my own way. There was lots of stuff to be done, but it was overwhelming.

Then my friend, D, happened to join a FlyLady group on Facebook. You know, Facebook, enabling the nosy? So I went to check it out. And then bombarded D who has been flying for awhile with a million questions. FlyLady is a small step at time approach to decluttering your home and getting into a routine. FlyLady calls it flying, and I've been fluttering along for a month. Seven things I like about FlyLady

1. You can start slow and take baby step to get yourself out of clutter. I've sent several bags and boxes off to The Big Brother/Big Sister organization (they send a truck around town every month). Getting rid of stuff I haven't been using and don't want feels good.

2. FlyLady's philosophy is set a timer and do a job for 15 min. It's amazing how much you can get done in a small chunk of time.

3. FlyLady has you put things into a notebook so you can easily refer to it to see what's next on the to do list. I use Microsoft OneNote for my notebook on the laptop. No papers, no clutter.

4. FlyLady divides the house into zones. Once a week, each month, cleaning is focused in the zone. Each day, a small chore (15 min) is to be done.

5. I like the schedule of it. I like the fact I'm given an assignment to do each day.

6. I can vary the schedule to suit me. For example, this week the zone was the living room. One of the tasks was to dust the tops of the window and door jambs. I thought as long as I was dusting the tops of the windows, it seemed like a good time to take the curtains down and give them a wash, and to wash the windows since my windows tilt in to clean.

7. I'm finding as I flutter along I have time to not only keep up with the daily grind of things, but I have more time to devote to things I want to do like blogging or getting a new website up and running.

If you're a person who likes schedules, this system will work for you. One of the downsides of the group is several emails a day that have more to do with FlyLady products (which you don't need to buy) or members giving testimonials to the system. It's easy enough to delete the stuff you're not interested in. Check out FlyLady. The group is free to join. Do you fly?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Media Trailer

A sample of a media trailer for Pony Express Graphics. This was so much fun to put together. Though it looks quite clear on the website and fuzzy here. How's it look to you?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Floor

A week after the floor was started, the sun room is back in order. The floor took longer to put down than Himself anticpated. It was also a lot more difficult to clean the grout grit and haze off than I anticipated. I was able to get the surface dirt off with a mop, but had to scrub each tile individually while on my hands and knees. Pardon me while I raise my wrist to my forehead. I kept wondering what maroon thought textured tile was a good idea. Luckily, we found a radio station 1250 AM WARE that plays real oldies, music from the 50's and 60's. Scrubbing to do-wop made the chore go faster.

I'm so happy to be back out here, and I love the floor. Himself did a great job. Ink is happy to be back on his (my) chair though not happy about having his picture taken.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Beginnings

Today is John Wayne's birthday. Seems an appropriate date to launch a blog with a Western flavor. April 3rd would have been a better launch date as this was the start date for the Pony Express. I was busy composting (thinking, planning, day dreaming) and missed this date. I'm in the process of reinventing me and what I do.

I've been giving my website a new look, started tweeting on Twitter, and a new blog. A rather odd combination. A little bit old, a little bit new. Calligraphy and computer graphics.

Why Pony Express? First, I love cowboys and Westerns. If you're going to do something, it ought to be what you love. Secondly, coming from Massachusetts, there are lots of Colonial, Pilgrim, Minutemen, Kennedy, and I wanted something different. Brainstormed with a friend. Cowboy, cowpoke, Maverick. That was cool sounding, but all variations were taken on the domain names. Outlaw, Renegade, but those implied something shady even though I liked Outlaw. Pony Express. Dependable, reliable. Ta-dah!

Cool, but why pick a name from a failed venture? There's a bit of irony there between the Pony Express, calligraphy and computers. I didn't consciously think of it, but it's there.

The Pony Express was started in April 1860. It was a dangerous and expensive mail run from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA and it lasted a little over one year. The invention of the telegraph made the Pony Express obsolete and the company folded in 1861. A little like computers and desktop publishing has impacted hand-done calligraphy. Ironic? Yes. Appropriate, yes. The legend and romance of the Pony Express still lives on in Western movies and those of us who love "The Old West". And even though computers have had a big impact on calligraphy, that still lives on, too. People still want their wedding invitations written in a beautiful hand. Some want their wedding vows, a favorite poem or quote turned into a piece of hand done art. Calligraphy is still taught at art museums, adult ed., and craft classes. The art will be passed on and it will still live on.

So stop by from time to time as I ramble on about calligraphy, computers and computer graphics and cowboys.

The graphic is an ATC (artist trading card) done for an exchange with the theme Words to Live By. From She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, John Wayne as Captain Nathan Brittles: Don't apologize. It's a sign of weakness.

Screen capture taken from the movie and then sepeia toned through the magic of Paint Shop Pro X2, walnut ink, gel marker, Rubinato pen on Diploma Parchment dyed with burnt sugar. The Duke's image was mounted with double stick mounting tape to give a 3D look.
Happy Birthday, Duke!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


When the sunroom went up, we put down an inexpensive peel and stick linoleum floor. Temporary until we got more do re mi to invest in good flooring. With the temperature extremes in the sunroom, it didn't take long (about a week) for the peel and stick to lift because the glue melted and the tiles started to shrink. We decided this weekend was the weekend for a new project, tiling the sunroom floor. That is Himself will be doing the tiling. I'll be the "Hey, Dude! Get me..." or just plain staying out of his way. Seven things about this project.

1. Picking out the tile. I wanted slate, but reading about the maintenance of a slate floor put me off. We went to the place where we got the bathroom tile. J. knows his stock. I asked if he had tile that looked like slate. He did. Because we were returning customers, he knocked a bit off the price and suggested a perfect color grout too.

2. Moving the furniture. All of the sunroom is now crammed in the livingroom/diningroom. Funny, how my chair (the chair and a half) weighs a lot more than it looks.

4. I got the shop vac and picked up the dust and dirt.

5. Pulling up the peel and stick went very quickly because the glue was all melty.

6. Too bad the porcelain tile wasn't the same size as the peel and stick because we could clearly see the tile lines.

7. Even though, we could clearly see the center room mark, Himself measured and laid out the tile so he could decide where to put the cuts.

Have you been working on any home improvement or gardening projects?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Starlight Double Delight Cake

I got this recipe from my ma. I'm pretty sure she clipped this recipe from a magazine during the late 50s or early 60s. The cool thing about this recipe is part of the batter becomes the frosting. The cake is very dense.


6 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. shortening, softened (I use butter or margarine though I think this refers to something like Crisco*)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. peppermint extract (I'm not crazy about peppermint so I subsitute either orange extract or raspberry extract and I increase the amount to 1 - 3 tsp. depending on taste)

6 c. Confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)

1/4 c. hot water

4 sq. (4 oz) melted chocolate

2 1/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 c. shortening (see note about shortening above)

3 eggs

3/4 c. milk

1 tsp.salt

1. Preheat oven to 350o F. and grease and flour 2 nine inch cake pans

2. Cream together cream cheese, 1/2 c. shortening, vanilla and extract flavoring of choice until fluffy.

3. Blend 3 c. confectioner's sugar into the mixture. Add hot water with balance of confectioner's sugar

4. Blend in melted chocolate. Reserve 2 c. of chocolate mixture for frosting for cake

5. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt

6. Combine 1/4 c. shortening and remaining chocolate mixture.

7. Blend in eggs one at a time. Beat for 1 minute.

8. Add milk alternately with dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Begin and end with dry ingredients. Use low speed.

9. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30 - 35 min. Cake is done when cake tester or toothpick inserted into middle comes out dry.

10. Cool in pans for 15 minues. Remove from pans and cool thoroughly on wire rack.

11. Frost with reserved chocolate mixture.
12. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In

Back to square one. Himself celebrated his birthday last weekend. I baked a Starlight Double Delight cake, a recipe from Ma. The cake batter makes its own frosting. Birthday cake should be considered free food like carrot sticks and celery.

Monday, May 18, 2009

More 25 Random Things

Another happy time waster borrowed from D. at Facebook

Whats your dream house?
A Dutch colonial with a sunroom and a Dutch kitchen door.

Where would you be able to spend hours and be happy?In the sunroom

What's your favorite doughnut?
Bavarian Creme

Do you know how to cook?

Do you like icecream?
I can take it or leave it

Who posts the most on your news feed?
Don't know.

Who doesn't post enough on your news feed?
Don't know.

Have you been in a close to death situation?

At what age do you want to die?
At the last age I attain

What is the color of your room?

How big is your house?
The size of a dollhouse

What do expect for your future?
Being upright and breathing

Do you have any allergies?
Yes, latex, pollen, cats

How many times do you hugs people in a week?
I hug my family, but I'm not much of a hugger.

Are you a facebook addict?
Not really, but I enjoy it

Do you believe in God?

What is your fave type of underwear?
plain, comfortable cotton, no lace

Do you like snow?

Winter or summer?
definitely Summer

When are weddings better when its cold or hot?

What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?
There have been so many

Do you believe in ghosts?
Not sure

How old are you?

What is your favorite sport?
Art is my favorite contact sport

What was the last movie you saw?
The Rock
Copy and paste if you want to play and let me know.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


A recent bit of Flair made me laugh: I do many things well. None of which generate income. Seven jobs I've held:

1. General Help. My first job was making artificial floral arrangements. I also spray painted plastic flower pots in seasonal colors, swept the factory floor, cleaned the work benches. Walked across a steep roof in order to open up the shop on Saturday. That wasn't bad during good weather but a little dicey in the winter. I loved this job.

2. Sales Associate. I worked in the Lingerie department of Filene's. Not a thrilling job. Got caught by one of the floor managers counting out my change till early one night. He yelled a department away and I jumped and slammed my fingers in the cash drawer.

3. Lab Clerk. Started out as a receptionist, answering the phones, typing up test slips, handing out urine cups. Eventually, I became a float helping out in the different departments. I was taught how to draw blood using wound drains filled with water and a few brave co-workers. I was the test for new phlebotomists since I have such tiny veins. If they could easily draw my blood, they were qualified to go to the Nursery, Pediatrics, and ICU. I helped out a lot in Microbiology plating specimens. You name it; I had my hands in it. Literally, this in the days before gloves were required. I had to leave this job when the state mandated one had to have a 4 yr med tech degree and be certified on a state exam in order to work in a hospital laboratory. I didn't have enough years experience to get me in under the grandfather clause.

4. Girl Friday. I worked for a cement company. Took orders by phone and sent the orders to one of the plants by teletype machine, dispatched trucks, resolved billing problems. Sat in on a weekly sales meeting as the my sales manager was grooming me for the position of Office Manager. The promotion never happened. When it came time to move up, Corporate decided I wouldn't be effective because of being female even though I had done the work for two years. However, they did want me to train the new male office manager. I went out on my lunch hour and got a new job. Tendered my resignation. I told the regional manager it was ludicrous for me to train the office manager if I couldn't be the office manager. He said he was very disappointed in me. "Not half as much as I'm disappointed in you. If a company can't appreciate me for my dedication, integrity and service, quite frankly, the company can go to hell." I was 24 or 25 at the time. The regional manager told my boss, "Still waters run deep." It's the best compliment I've received even though it wasn't meant as a compliment.

5. Inside Sales. This time for a food brokerage. During the interview, the boss wanted to know if I'd be able to handle the job. I told him I was doing the same job only shipping cement. Didn't seem much different to me if I was shipping bags of cement or bags of frozen potatoes. I was hired on the spot. (On my lunch hour, see #4)

6. After I graduated from computer school, I went to work for my uncle's steel distribution company. I was in charge of the computer room. Responsible for printing all the month end and year end reports. Franny, one of the outside programmer/consultants gave me some training in programming on the new mini computer. I proudly showed her what I had written. She smiled and then slammed her hand against the keyboard. The program crashed and burned epicly. She taught me a programmer had to think of every possible input especially the wrong ones. She sent me back so I included rude little phrases that would pop up if the operator input incorrect responses. I thought this assignment was just something fun for me to do. Had no idea she used the module in a real program for the Purchasing Manager. Some of the rude phrases (What ah you...) popped up while the manager was working. He came back to tell me he loved them. We became good friends. When I had paid my dues and was ready to move up, he was the one who encouraged me to go out and find another position. He gave me a programmer's ruler which I still have and is a valued possession.

7. Letter Programmer. I programmed junk mail for a marketing company. Amazing and frightening the information they collected. Most of what I programmed were form letters from colleges hitting up the alum for donations. Every morning, we went to a meeting called "Shove". Basically, it was confession. You told the manager what you were working on, what you were having problems with (if sales sent you the wrong tape to use) or the printer jammed. If you had nothing in your queue, you were given another assignment. Work was sometimes slow and the bosses didn't like to see us sitting around doing nothing. We worked across the street from a mall so after shove, we'd go to the mall. Then go back to see if there was more work. If nothing came in, we'd go to lunch at the mall. The work wasn't challenging, but it was a cushy job.

As you can see, I've crossed a few hills. What about you? Have you had any odd or interesting jobs?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In

Another hectic week of appointments. Stress + not much walking = weight gain of 1 pound.

Monday, May 11, 2009

ABCs of Me

Another happy little time waster from Facebook. Here are the ABC's of Me

A - Age: 53

B - Bed size: Full

C - Chore you hate: Dusting

D - Dad's name: Dad

E - Essential start your day item: a cup of tea

F - Favorite color: blue

G - Gold or Silver: gold

H - Height: 5'  1 1/2" if I stand up straight

I - Instruments you play(ed): guitar, piano, kazoo

J - Job title: I. M. G. S. (interactive media graphic specialist) though I also answer to Her Serene Highness

K - Kangroos or Koala Bears?: koala bears

L - Living arrangements: very comfortable

M - Mom's name: Ma

N - Nicknames: Bones, The Kid, CJ, Ceej

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: one surgery

P - Pet Peeve: Computers that boot slow

Q - Quote from a movie: "We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well and live." (Ben Hur)

R - Right or left handed: Left

S - Siblings: The Brother

T - Time you wake up: About 5:45am

U- Underwear: sometimes

V - Vegetable you dislike: onion

W - Ways you run late: if I'm working on a project, I lose track of time.

X - X-rays you've had: teeth, ankle, chest, wrist

Y - Yummy food you make: shrimp Creole

Z - Zoo favorite: Bears

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I had a very hectic week. Running out every day shuttling the elders to the mahket and eye doctor appointment, my own dental checkup, a marketing presentation, and picking The Eldest and her dorm room up for the summer. Whew! Today's seven are the things I forgot to do this week because of all the running.

1. I forgot all about Tues. night.

2. I forgot to watch The Mentalist on Tues. night. The only television program I watch, and I forgot all about it.

3. I forgot my Wednesday morning routine. Walk on the tread mill.

4. I forgot to blog the Wednesday Weigh In. For chuckles I weighed myself on Friday expecting the same old number to register on the scale. I lost a pound!

5. I forgot the bank manager's name. She greets me all the time. We chat and this time around I called her by my dental hygeniest's name when I was leaving. How embarrassing!

6. I mentioned to Sunflower as I was signing off IM on Thursday, I had to fill out the order form and a check for The Young One's senior sweater for next fall. I shut down the computer. Passed go, passed the check book and went to bed. I had to rush to fill out the form just before we left for school on Friday morning.

7. I know there was one more thing, but I forgot it.

How was your week? Did you forget to do anything?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Marketing Me

A student in my calligraphy class teaches a graduate level Marketing class at a local college. She asked if I would like to be the final project. I saw this as a wonderful opportunity. The students would have a real world case to work on, and I'd benefit in an area where I'm severely lacking. Besides, it would be all about me. Monday last, I was invited to the presentations.

From a teacher's point of view, I was fascinated by the creative process. The students were divided into groups. Each group was given the same basic information (factoids about me and what I do, my CV) and then told to be creative. Though there were common threads (website, pricing), each group had a different take on how to grow my business. There were some great suggestions. The teams gave me so many things to think about. My mind is reeling with possibilities.

I'd like to thank all the students for their enthusiasm and hard work. Your presentations were polished and insightful. Presentations have certainly come a long way from a blackboard and a pointer or more commonly, the back of a napkin. I loved the company names, titles, acronyms, artwork and props. My jury is still out on the value of Twitter. (-; I think you all deserve an A.

Thank you, SB, for allowing me to sit in on the class. I gained so much from this experience.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Guest Artist

With The Young One's permission, I am posting her winning entry for the Spring Concert Program cover. The first concert was yesterday afternoon, and it was such a thrill to see the finished drawing on the cover and credit given to her inside the program.

I had watched her working on the doe. The Young One was not happy with the shape of the face so she worked and reworked the drawing. The illustration was done in pen and ink. Shading done with pencil since the cover was going to be printed in black and white.

Two years ago, she came as my classroom assistant (aka slave) when I taught a teen workshop during Spring vacation. After she fetched rulers, erasers, pencils, markers and other art supplies, there was nothing else for her to do, so I told her she could sit in on the class. The students learned a quick Uncial (Celtic) script.

I was surprised and pleased to see The Young One used what she had learned in the workshop. She did a great job on the lettering.

I just love the design. The doe and her fawn are so real. The birds holding the banner and the little bird tweeting his heart out make me smile.

Ya done real good, BD. I'm so proud of you.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Seven quirks:

1. I don't use public toilets though the exception to the rule is Target and Barnes and Noble as they are very, very clean.

2. I can speak a few words (some of them even in polite company) in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, Polish and Klingon.

3. I don't parallel park.

4. I've never been to a professional football game.

5. I don't like to eat in public.

6. I've never gone to a movie by myself.

7. I can't read while riding in a car or a bus (I get motion sick)

Got quirks?