Friday, January 29, 2010

The Friday Five

This week we had the annual one to two inches of heavy rain. With the ground frozen and a hefty snow pack on the ground, the water had nowhere to go except in my basement. Fortunately, we did not lose electricity or the sump pumps and were able to keep the flooding to a puddle with the two shop vacs. Swabbing the deck made me think of my favorite submarine movies.

1. Richard Widmark in Hell and High Water gritty Cold War story meets filme noire love story aboard a stubmarine.

2. Run Silent, Run Deep. Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. A popular commander is passed over for promotion in favor of a tough captain with a personal score to settle.

3. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming misunderstanding and a common goal lead to detente in this Cold War comedy with Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin

4. The Hunt for Red October The Soviets and Americans in a cat and mouse game searching for the Soviet sub, Red October. Sean Connery "One ping only, Vasily." and Alec Baldwin "Next time, Jack, send a memo"

5. Das Boot Jürgen Prochnow. The hunters become the hunted.

And for good measure let's toss in K-19, The Widowmaker, U-571, and seasons 1 - 4 (part 1) of the television classic Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

When bad weather keeps you inside what movies do you like to watch? Or if movies aren't your cup of tea or coffee, what books do you like to read?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Writing Desk

In an attempt to get out of CHAOS (Can't have anyone over syndrome, coined by Flylady), I've been slowly chipping away cleaning the basement/playroom/studio. This is the area in my home where I work and also the area where crap is tossed to get it out from other areas of the house. A good portion of the junk is mine. I don't always put my toys away when I'm done. I can overlook the clutter for only so long. Today was the day the Spirit said to move so I cleaned off the writing desk. This is the set up where I address invitations. I make a template of the envelope, put the template on the lightbox, envelope on top and away I go. The Slinkys function as a drying rack. They stretch across the top shelf and attach with cup hooks. Slinky is for envelopes and Slinky Jr. for escort, table cards or other small items.

I also started cleaning off the drafting table. This is to the left and perpendicular to the writing table. I still have miles to go, but the place didn't get wrecked in one day and won't get cleaned in one either. I've been so bogged down with the clutter both physical and mental that I've lost the creative spark. I can feel a little flicker of creativity just seeing a clean work area with room to actually work.

What's your workstation like? Do you like to work amid clutter or do you need open, clean spaces?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Week 3. Italic lower-case "a" on gouache background textured with plastic wrap. While the letter was still wet, I dropped some Dr. Ph Martin Iridescent White. Big blob dropped inand I moved the piece and some of the wet escaped from the borders so the letter is slightly askew. Like me. The project rules stated the size of the paper and that a total of 52 letters had to be made. Nothing said about whether the letters were perfect or not. (-;

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Specs

Got a call on Thurs. last to pick up my new glasses. Actually, the glasses were ready two weeks ago. When I first saw the thick lenses, my thought was I was being fitted with lenses meant for the Hubble telescope. I tried the glasses on. Everything and everyone I looked at had a rainbow aura with a shift towards the bright yellow part of the spectrum. That's because there are prisms in my lenses because I've been seeing double. Though seeing everything with a rainbow aura was cool in a My Little Pony sort of way, the bright yellow was more than I could take. (Though if the shift was towards the blue part of the spectrum, I might have kept them.) Turns out the lab read the prescription wrong and put the total amount needed for the prism in both lenses instead of splitting them between the left and right lens.

I picked up the corrected lenses on Friday. Was relieved to see the lens thickness was normal. And I could see clearly with no aura effect and no double vision. Now comes the part of trying to get used to the new prescription. Even though I've been wearing bifocals (with graduated lenses) for 9 years, it still takes me a few days to build up to wearing them full time. After a few hours, I end up with a headache and a sensation of vertigo. Weird as it seems looking through them for a couple of hours makes me motion sick.

I'm learning to like the new frames. I had wished they were more square like my old glasses. But the square-ish magnetic frames didn't come in blue. I just had to have blue frames. Why magnetic frames? So that I don't have to spend another zillion dollars on prescripted sunglasses. The frames come with a sunglass frame that attaches by built-in magnets and doesn't look as dorky as the old clip ons. The earpiece metal is twisted which makes a nice decorative element. Downside to my frames is they are two-tone. Blue on the outside and pink on the inside. Yes, pink. Deep sigh. Forlorn look. Pink. So not my color. Since I had to have blue frames, this is what I had to go with. Happily the frames are a lot darker than they appeared in the catalog so the pink is more of a deep magenta. Since it's on the inside of the frame and the curve of the earpiece hidden behind my ear, the pink won't really be seen.

Ms. CJ Bear is modeling my glasses. She was a gift from Himself when I first started teaching at the museum. In her left paw, she's holding a hand-turned wooden, nib holder. A gift from the delightful Catherine Whiteman in Scotland. I always thought the handle was too pretty to get mucked up with ink. The nib Ms. Bear is using is a gold plated Eiffel Tower nib, it's in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. Though the nib writes well, for me it's more decorative than functional.

Time to remove the new glasses, pop some acetaminophen, and go lie down for a bit. Do you wear glasses? Bifocals? Does it take you a few days to get used to your new prescription?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

National Handwriting Day

Today is National Handwriting Day. It's celebrated on John Hancock's birthday. So celebrate today and sign your name in your best penmanship with a big flourish!

Today is also young J's birthday. Happy Birthday, J! Have a great day!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Friday Five

Five amazing things you might see if you look up.

1. Rainbows. Sometimes you see them when most unexpected. Like driving The Young One home from school and a very faint rainbow bar can be seen on the clouds. Once while flying, I looked down on the clouds and there was a perfect rainbow circle. So cool! The photograph was taken by The Young One in 2006

2. Geese. In an impossibly brilliant, blue autumn sky, they write a sharp "V" as they fly in perfect formation. I like their honking too whether they are encouraging each other or yelling at the leader to stop and ask for directions.

3. As a kid life didn't get much better than lying in the grass trying to see pictures in the clouds. There's a boat! There's a shoe! My girlies enjoy this too. Sometimes we search the clouds while driving. There's an elephant! There's a cat! There's a truck right in front of us!!!

4. The moon causes endless fascination especially when it's full. How awesome the full harvest moon looks when first rising. Huge and luminous. Even if it's enormous size is due to parallax view, it's still a cool sight. When I was young Himself's father taught us how to tell the weather by looking at the moon. A halo around a full moon during winter meant snow. Depending how a crescent moon was tipped, it meant it might rain, if the "bowl" couldn't hold water.

5. Sirius. The dog star. Seen just below and to the left of the constellation Orion. It's the brightest star in the night sky. During the winter months because of reflection and refraction, it almost looks like the Christmas star seen on cards. I just learned Sirius is actually two stars, one of the pair is a dwarf star. Pretty cool.

Are there things that capture your imagination if you look up?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I loved kindergarten. I was especially fond of the paste. The just right size for chubby hands container. The twist off lid with the brush. The pleasant smell and the delicious taste. Yup, I was a paste eater. Nothing like a good two finger dollop to get you through until snack time. Afterall, it was not toxic. Flour, water, a bit of sugar, and cinnamon or vanilla flavoring.

The cheeky Young One has a theory that my lackluster math skills can be attributed to eating paste. Maybe. Maybe not. English major. You do the math.

But you know what? It occured to me, lots of people are paste eaters. Look at the recipe. It's a base. Add an egg and shortening and you have a cookie or cake recipe! Yup, I'm a paste eater and proud of it.

Did you eat paste when you were in kindergarten?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wed Letter Day

Week 2. The Greek letter Delta which became the Roman D. My drawing is also a fractal, a shape made up smaller parts of the whole. This triangular arrangement is known as the Sierpinski triangle named after the Polish mathematician who described the figure in 1916.

I was insufferably pleased with myself for thinking of this fractal shape. Math is not a strong suit for me. The Young One offers a reason why my math skills are lacking, but the answer is in tomorrow's post. (-;

How many triangles can you count?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Saint John's Bible featured on Fox News

At Legacies 2005, the international calligraphy conference held in Dallas, Texas, one of the evening programs featured The Saint John's Bible. Well, a traveling version, a copy, but we were able to see up close the hand that was developed for this work, along with the amazing art work and illuminations. Too stunning for words.
If you're lucky to live near Collegeville, MN, you can visit the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library to see a small exhibit. If you can't get to MN, you can read all about the project and can see the Bible here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Do Not Call

Massachusetts has a do not call list where residents can register their telephone number to prevent telemarketers from calling. My telephone number has been signed up for quite some time. The do not call list doesn't prevent charities from calling. Nor it seems, does it prevent calls from candidates running for public office.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts is holding a special election to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat.

We've been bombarded by television "vote for me" ads. He said, she was an idiot, and She said he was an idiot ads. Every day for the past week and half, from 3 pm until 8pm, I've been receiving phone calls from the candidates asking for our votes. These are auto-dial calls from Scott Brown, Martha Coakley, Scott Brown's daughter. And there are also opinion poll calls. It's so annoying! Isn't soliciting votes similar to telemarketer calls?

I screen my calls. God bless caller ID, but sometimes these calls leave messages on the voice mail.

So Ms. Coakley, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Brown's daughter, go look at the do not call list. Stop calling my number!

Do unsolicited telemarketing and political calls annoy you?

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Friday Five

This week, five things I dislike doing.

1. Driving. Kids,parents, appointments, errands. I log so many miles, I pilot a shuttle. Wasn't always that way. Used to love to drive when I was cool and drove a 1979 Mustang. Driving got old quickly when I was a computer consultant and serviced 21 banks in 5 states. Once an accident at 4 and 225 off of 128 (there's always an accident there) gave me the bright idea to get off the highway and travel the back roads. I was like Paul Revere: Lexington, Lincoln, Concord, Sudbury, Marlboro, it took me two hours to get home instead of the usual 45 minutes. Maybe I'd love to drive again if I had a sleek Mustang instead of a jellybean of a station wagon.

2. Salad. I hate making salad. I know making a salad isn't rocket science, but I find it a dreadful chore. Tearing lettuce, cutting tomatoes, chopping other veg. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy eating salads. Love to have a salad on the side when I go out to eat at a restaurant (unless the establishment ruins the salad by putting nasty cheese on the top). Give me a polybag of Dole's Greener selection and a container of grape tomatoes. Tada! Salad.

3. Shopping. I don't care to go shopping especially food shopping. Hate the crowds. Hate rummaging through racks of clothes looking for a bargain. Hate pawing through piles of produce wondering whether other produce pawers washed their hands. Pure torture. Now I don't mind shopping for books, DVDs or electronics. That's fun. And point and click shopping is a dream come true.

4. Gardening. Not much of a gardener. I look at plants and they whither and die. I don't like digging in the dirt, weeding. Don't like getting my hands dirty. Don't like getting the gardening gloves dirty either.

5. Cleaning out the strainer in the kitchen sink. Nasty job. Not a little princess job. No one else does it. They just leave the detrice of lunch or dinner molding in the strainer.

Oh, and one more job that's not a little princess job. Man cleaning the toilet. You know, lifting up the seat to clean under the rim. Even when the bathroom is brand shiny new, it's still not a little princess job.

What's your little red wagon of dislike?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Graceful Envelope Contest

It's that time of year again. The call for entries to the 2010 Graceful Envelope Contest This year's theme is A Stream of Letters. The contest is open to any one and there are two separate categories for children. What a great way to promote penmanship and letters, especially for kids. Follow the link to read the contest requirements. All entries must be postmarked by Friday, 30. April 2010. I've got to go find my thinking cap!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wed Letter Day

This is the first for the on going project A Letter A Week in 2010. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these pieces. For now, they will live in small photo album while I decide whether they should be bound into a hand-made book or turned into a quilt. A set of wooden blocks came to mind too.

Time to work on the letter for week 2. What are you working on?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Type Are You?

Here's another happy little, time waster found at How About Orange. Let yourself be psychoanalyzed by answering four short questions. The doctor will then diagnose your type and give you a brief analysis of the typeface. What type are you quiz?
My result was Marina Script. What's your result?

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm A Crayon

Found this fun quiz on author, Georgiana Daniels' page. What Kind of Childhood Toy Are You? I don't put a lot of stock in these quizzes. They're just happy little time wasters, but the answer I got and the answer Georgiana got are dead on for our professions. I did spend a lot of my time as a kid drawing and coloring.

Coincidence? Why don't you take the quiz. Does your answer fit you?

You Are Crayons

You've always had a creative, artistic streak - even when you were a kid.
You were the type of child who could spend hours with a box of crayons or markers.

Even now as an adult, colors and design matter to you. You are probably very fashionable and stylish.
Maybe you even dabble in the arts from time to time. You certainly still have the talent.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Friday Five

I am in love. I am just loving my new Samsung Omnia 2 smartphone. The five features that have sent me to cloud nine:

1. It has a touch screen. Touch a button, touch a screen. Sleek. Even though there's a screen protector, I do find myself wiping my greasy prints off the screen. I like that shiny, out of the box look.

2. Typing on the virtual keyboard can be a challenge with my sausage fingers. I don't know how the young people can make their fingers fly over the tiny keyboards to text. The phone comes with a stylus which is a godsend when adding appointments to the calendar.

3. Since the phone can be synched with a computer (it didn't like synching with Vista 64, but works well on the laptop with XP), I can use my own sound files for ringtones. Plus downloading old television theme songs from I've been having a blast picking out tunes for family members. The best one is the one I picked for my dad. He's 90 and we've been dealing with some problems/health issues for my 91 year old ma. Dad's been calling a lot lately. His ringtone is Johnny Weissmeuller's Tarzan yell. Cracks me up when I hear it and is a great stress buster.

4. The phone has a large screen. For someone who just got new glasses with lenses manufactured by the same company that made the Hubbell telescope lenses, this is a huge plus. The better to see you, my dear.

5. The best feature of the phone is the Call Recognition. Press a button and a female automated voice prompts you to say a command. Like Call Home. The downside is the automated voice must have been trained to respond to a flat, midWestern accent. You know the one. The one all the television news anchors have. So the phone has a hard time interpreting my Boston accent. Call Home has me having a conversation with the phone.

"Did you say 'Call Glow'?

Glow? Ok, glow might be considered an eye rhyme with home.


"Did you say 'Call Pizza'?

Pizza? What ah ya? That one doesn't even come close.

I try to speak slower. I've heard that complaint from those outside of Boston. Seems we talk too fast (though I think some just can't keep up (-; )

"Call one mississippi, two mississipi, three mississipi Home

The screen lights up with Dialing... and the home phone number.

Add a sixth feature. I just love to customize my brains out to make my phone unique. The picture on the lock screen is Mr. Morton, the XO, of the submarine Seaview from the television show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The XO keeps all areas running smoothly on the boat. Seemed a fitting mascot for the phone.

Do you have a phone or other gadget you love?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Three Item Snack Erica's idea for Three Ingredient Thursday, is this idea for a three item snack.

You will need:

1. Crackers, bread, pound cake or something else to snack on that you can spread...

2. Nutella. If you have never heard of this you are missing out on an awesome, to die for, taste treat. Nutella is a hazelnut spread with skim milk and cocoa. See it's good for you! It's heaven in a jar. It's a bit pricey but worth every penny. My local Target carries it in the food area next to the peanut butter and jelly.

3. A knife or spoon.

Slather a good dollop onto your cracker, toast, pound cake and enjoy.

What do you think of Nutella?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Letter A Week for 2010

From Australian calligrapher, Gemma Black

The aim is simply to:
· Write a letter a week
· Creating 52 letters
· Which must form 2 x alphabets
· By the end of 2010

The only real rule is that the letter must be presented on a piece measuring 7cm x 7cm

[For those of us that don't work in metric this would be approx 2 3/4 inches x 2 3/4 inches]

· We can use any medium, on any surface.
· We can use any hand or representation of a letter.
· The presentation of the final product is up to each of us – we could mat and frame the pieces as a work of art; we could make a stack of cards, we could bind them individually; we could bind them in a book; we could cover a box with them....
· We can also use any theme or approach we wish in the project – we may choose to do all our letter in black and white and red; we may choose not to repeat a combination of medium and surface; we may choose to be experimental; we may choose an animal theme; we may choose a letter linked to a poem....
· We may start at the beginning of the alphabet, the end of the alphabet, we may make two alphabets simultaneously or we may just decide that today feels like a “D” day and decide to write a “D”

We will also aim to do a monthly sharing – on the first Wednesday of a month, we will share photos of our letters from the previous month. How’s that for prescriptive!

Other than that, I think we just go do what we want to do. Feel free to invite other calligraphers to join and do a letter a week; or other artist types who might want to do a 7cm x 7cm piece a week... Depending on how we go, and where we are and what our final pieces look like; it might be nice to try and arrange a showing or mini-exhibition of the pieces once we have finished . Wednesday 3 February we will each need to have 4 x letters ready to show, and perhaps some words about our approach/theme or what we are hoping to achieve.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Himself teaches college chemistry and is home on the Winter semester break. (Actually, he's starting a sabbatical, but that's another story). I was watching him reading his mail and shaking his head. Mail from his students some of them questioning why they got a poor grade and wanting to drop his class. He read me some of their excuses. Some are amusing. Most are lame. The school gives the students the opportunity to drop the class up to a week before the final. Himself clearly lays out his grading how to in the syllabus. Coming to lecture does not guarantee a passing grade. Tests, homework assignments, and labs all count to the final grade as does the final exam. Himself offers office hours each day where he's available for help.

I'm getting old because when he told me all these things my first thought was, When I was in college, we only had a two week period to drop a class. We couldn't wait until the class was nearly finished to decide we didn't like it, or it interferred with the whist tournament. If you missed the drop period, tough.

Most of the comments the students listed were variations of the course was too hard. (Mind you, many of these students are planning on going to pharmacy school or nursing school so the chemistry classes are a requirement)

"You need to add something to your syllabus," I told him.

"What's that?"

"Chemistry is hard. It's rocket science!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I'm not in the habit of making resolutions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. (-; I'm just going to hold on and try to enjoy the ride.
Do you make New Year resolutions?