Monday, October 31, 2011

Greetings and Salutations!

I bid you a Happy Halloween, a good Reformation Day, Blessed Samhain, a great Monday, and if you share your birthday with Ink (he's 14), a very Happy Birthday.

However you roll, make it a good day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cabbage Night

Cabbage  Night. That's what the night before Halloween was called when I was a kid. It has other names. Mischief Night, Hell Night. It was the night when windows were soaped, clotheslines were cut, trees were festooned with toilet paper, pumpkins were smashed. (I never did this kind of stuff!) or

Mailboxes were tipped over. Cabbage Night was a day early this year as Mother Nature blew through with a snowstorm. That's a picture of my mailbox lying comatose in the snow.

What does your area call Cabbage Night?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Water Alarm

One of the banes of my existence, is water in the basement. There's an interior floor drain which runs to a large sump pump in the garage. Most times it works well, but if the rain is extremely heavy, the drain or the sump can't keep up and water flows into the basement. It's usually a large puddle, a pain in the butt, but easy enough to keep up with a couple of shop vacs. That is unless we lose electricity, and then all bets are off.

Seepage usually occurs when no one is downstairs or often in the dead of night. By the time we find the water, it's a bigger problem. Himself came across this water alarm. You put it on the floor and when it detects water, it  ends an audible alert, like a smoke detector.

Forecasters are gleefully predicting a Nor'easter for tonight. Snow estimates for my area range from 6 to 10 inches. The snow is expected to be heavy and wet with high winds which may bring down tree branches still loaded with leaves. There's a potential for power outages. No power, no sump pump.  Hopefully, this little alarm will do its job. If the power goes out, Himself has the generator ready to keep the sump pump  (and the phone and iPad charged, I have my priorities, too.) running.

This little baby performed well in a test. Hopefully, it will work in a real water situation.

Do you have problems with water in your basement?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Friday Five

I whine a lot about the snow and cold weather. Can't help it. I like the heat and humidity. I love hanging out in the sun room, but in the interest of accentuating the positive, five things I like about Fall.

1. The leaves, minus the snow, look pretty when they turn colors. I especially like the vivid reds of the swamp maples. Too bad the fallen leaves can't melt like the snow so they don't have to be raked.

2. In the olden days, I loved the smell of burning leavings. Burning season in my town runs from 1. Jan to 1. April. Leaf burning at this time of year is verboten.

3. The grackles return or maybe they are starlings. They are black birds with shiny, midnight blue heads. Whatever they are, hundreds of them land in the backyard picking and poking the grass for whatever goodies are hidden in the leaves. If something startles them, they lift en masse, their wings beating the air. My house must be in the middle of their migration path though I never see the hordes in the Spring.

4. Halloween, my favorite holiday. I thought it would be cool to have a birthday on Halloween. Too bad my birthday is in July. Still I look forward to the Halloween decorations, costumes, and

5. Candy.

What do you love about Fall or October?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alternate Transportation

I saw a graphic of the saying "yes, I can drive a stick" floating around the Interwebs and decided I wanted one, too. And only in the way of can you make this project more time consuming, I decided to make the broom from a twig, and some straw from an old whisk broom.

The saying is lettered on a scrap of Canson Mi Tientes, Ziller Glossy Black and a Brause 1 mm.

The Young One was watching me make the broom. "Are you going to dress up as a witch for Halloween?" she asked.

"Oh, honey, I don't need to dress up as a witch." (-;

Can you drive a stick?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Hat

The past couple of days I've been in a holding pattern waiting for answers to a problem. Seemed a good time to take on another project that required lots of wait time.

I found the wooden hat at Michael's. Sanding, sealing, and a couple of coats of acrylic paint. Lettered on the hat band with Ziller Winter White and a Nikko G nib  is "The witch is in." The hat was sealed with Starlite Varnish.

What do you do while you wait for answers?

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Friday Five

Chilly mornings, chilly evenings. No more sweltering , hot days )-: Time to turn to five, small comforts to get through the cold days ahead.

 1. Time to put on soft, thick, fluffy socks.

 2. Wrapping hands around a mug of mulled cider or

 3. A steaming mug of chai. It's not cold enough to break out the polartec fingerless gloves or flannel-lined jeans.

 4. Wrapped in the down throw while playing with the iPad or watching television.

 5. Wearing the zip front, sweatshirt that used to belong to Himself ( it shrunk in the wash and doesn't fit him
 ( -; ) I peel the sweatshirt off when  my personal thermostat kicks into overdrive.

 What little comforts do you turn to when the weather gets chilly?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Senior Spectacular

Fallon Community Health Plan invites seniors and caregivers to the Senior Spectacular at the DCU Center. 20. October 2011 from 10am to 3pm. The event is free. There will be seminars, workshops, music, giveaways, and more!

I'll be there from 1pm - 2pm. Stop in and say hello. Make a postcard, bookmark, or try your hand at calligraphy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Carry On

I first learned about the effects of the full moon when I worked in a hospital laboratory. It never failed at full moon we'd be busy, requests from the floors would keep us hopping, and the emergency room would be insane. Full moon effects are like a virus: three days coming, three days with you, and three days leaving. And the effect happens at the new moon which is a full moon we can't see.

I've been straining under the full moon for a year now. Maybe even longer. And there's not much to be done except carry on. Put one foot in front of the other and dance as fast as you can.

I can't even remember when I started this journal piece. Fans of Supernatural will recognize the song, Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas as one of the theme songs used in the show.

Acrylics, FW acrylic ink in blue and black, Ziller Glossy Black, Ph Martin Spectralite Silver, Brause 1.5 mm.

What about you? Do you believe in the effect of the full moon?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

I admire the work of Tim Burton, and I love his slightly askew view of reality.

I enjoy reading the blog, Cake Wrecks which usually features professionally baked cakes gone horribly wrong.

What do cake and Tim Burton have in common? Cake Wrecks has show cased some incredible Burton inspired cakes on this week's Sunday Sweets. (During the week, Jen features the wrecktastic cakes, but on Sunday she features cakes that are WOW show- stoppers and too awesome to eat.) So point your browser to Cake Wrecks toot sweet and see what you can do with fondant, a lot of patience, and skill.

Jack Skellington cake by Bluebird Cakes

Aren't these cakes amazing?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Friday Five

I grew up in a small town, 20 or so miles west of Boston. The town has since blossomed, but back them it was  located in the back of beyond. It may have been small, but there were plenty of places for a kid to spend an allowance. I got 50 cents a week. Five places where I spent my allowance.

1. The Golf Range. Across the empty lot and through a small, wooded path was a driving range. There was a small shed like building, too small and rustic to be called the pro shop. Besides being able to buy a bucket of balls or a colored golf ball and putter for the the mini-golf, there was an array of candy and gum. Zero Bars, Sky Bars, Bemis gum. I stopped buying candy there when I opened a package of Bit o' Honey and found ants had beaten me to the treat. Candy bars cost a nickel.

2. During the Summer months, just past the last golf driving tee was the Frosty T. Soft service ice cream cones were just 10 cents. For an extra nickel, you could get a dip top which was a waxy, candy hard shell. My favorite combination was a chocolate cone with a cherry dip top. Oh, and the glorious smell of fried clams was free!

3. In the center of the Clarke Block, downtown, Sterns' Cigar Shop carried yards and yards of gimp. We'd braid the colored plastic lace into bracelets, necklaces, and lanyards. You could buy candy at Sterns' or gum.The gum was coveted for the wrappers which were folded together to form chains. Sterns' also carried comic books. I didn't spend my cash on them, but went next door and read the latest Himself had bought.

4. Woolworth's Five and Ten had it all. Small hardware, household items, candy, and toys. Little cars, dolls, whistles. It was all there. And the place to go for Halloween costumes though Ma and Dad usually bought the Halloween costumes.

5. Tilly's carried penny candy: Atomic Fireballs, Mary Janes, Squirrels, root beer baby's or barrels, wax lips, Mint Juleps, Dubble Bubble Gum, Tootsie Rolls, and Tootsie Pops (they cost 2 cents).

When you were a kid did you get an allowance? What did you spend your jingle on?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Requirements to Be President of the United States

Normally, I don't write about hot button topics on the blog. I stay away from political and religious debates. I don't bait the bear with whether Heath is a better cowboy than Nick. However, the latest round of presidential candidate bull and the press reporting the stories has put a burr on my shirt tail.

I'm sick of the whining and finger pointing of candidates or their supporters bemoaning their opponent's ability to run for an office because they are not considered a good, practicing, member of a certain religion.  Excuse me?

Have you ,politicians, aspiring politicians, political supporters, members of the Press, and everyday citizens (just for good measure), bothered to read the Constitution? You know, the document that lays out the ground rules for the 3 branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial)? I realize that reading the original document in its beautiful English Roundhand script might prove difficult for some, but the document has been printed.

Article II, Section I of the Constitution deals with the requirements to run for the office of President of the United States.

 "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

Let's look at this line by line, shall we?

No Person except a natural born Citizen, that means you have to be born in the United States, and not just the 48 contiguous states, but Alaska and Hawaii are also bona fide states. At least that's what I learned in grade school, but I also learned that Pluto was the ninth planet in our solar system. Pluto seems to have lost favored planet status, but I'm pretty sure Alaska and Hawaii are still states.

That phrase Natural Born Citizen means your parents could have emigrated to the USA from Europe, Asia, Africa, etc. or Pluto.  If you were born in this country, you are automatically a citizen and you can become President of the United States even if your parents are citizens of another country or planet!

Let's continue. Or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President . The Constitution was adopted in 1787. Someone around at that time would now be some 224 years old, so that ship has already sailed.

neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, You have to be 35 years or older. (And there is no cap on how old is too old) The 15th. Amendment to the Constitution granted male Citizens the privilege to vote regardless of race or color.  The 19th. Amendment to the Constitution extended this right to women. So as long as you are 35 years older or older, it doesn't matter whether you are male, female, blue, green, purple or any other color. You can be President of the United States.

and been fourteen Years a Resident  within the United States. Ok, this last statement may be a little fuzzy as it doesn't address whether your 14 year residency must be consecutive, or residency as an adult.

Let's recap.There are only 3 simple requirements to be President. You must be a natural born Citizen. You must be 35 years old or older, and you have had to reside in the United States for a period of 14 years. Period.

No where in the Constitution does it state you have to be a good, practicing member of a particular religion.
You don't even have to practice a religion. You aren't required to have diplomatic or previous political experience. Being a member of a certain race, color, or sexual orientation is not required. Being married to the opposite sex or same sex is not a requirement. These aspects of a person's background shouldn't even come into question!

And members of the Press? Shame on you for reporting the he said, he said, she said. When ridiculous issues of whether one is a member of a cult or not, arise, set the record straight and remind your readers or viewers that this is not a requirement to be president.

If you're in Washington, DC, you can visit the National Archives and you can see and read the original documents. Admission to the National Archives is free! If you can't travel to Washington, DC. you can visit The National Archives on line and can read the documents and download images of the documents yourself.

Maybe reading The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights, should also be a requirement to run for any political office.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Experimenting with a new medium can be exciting, and at the same time frustrating. I've been re-creating my paper alphabet blocks on wood. The wood blocks were sanded and sealed with polyurethane. Alphabet letters were drawn with a Sharpie marker or outlined with Ziller (acrylic) ink and painted with acrylic craft paints for wood by Plaid.  This part of the experiment went well.

Now another hold my breath part, sealing the painted letters. The instructions on the paint box said the paints didn't need to be sealed as the paints wouldn't chip or crack. However, while working on the blocks, a bit of paint ran where I didn't want it. I used a dampened paper towel to gently remove the offending blot. Horror as the painted background on the block square flaked revealing the wood beneath. Obviously, the paints would need to be sealed.

Even though the paints are acrylic would the paints bleed when the polyurethane was applied? I tested on the bottom of one of the blocks. So far, it looks good.

I also thought I'd like to decoupage a picture of myself sitting on illuminated initial blocks. I created this image in Paint Shop Pro and use it as my avatar.  I printed the image on photo paper. I spread a thin coat of Modge Podge Decoupage sealer over the image. Was shocked when the image streaked!  Now what? I tried again this time using the polyurethane. No streaks!

What are you working on? Are your experiments turning out the way you expect?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Disk Cleaner

Sooner or later, your PC begins to bog down and doesn't seem to run as fast as it did when it came out of the box. You run the Disk Cleanup utility that's found in the System tools, but all that seems to do is empty the recycle bin. Yeah, it takes care of the temporary files from IE, but it doesn't seem to get junk files if you use another browser. (You are using another browser like Chrome or Firefox, aren't you?)

I heard about CCleaner from Andy over at Fish Wrap. The utility is free (there is a paid version which offers technical support) so I figured I didn't have anything to lose except junk files. All I have to say is wow! The utility not only gets rid of IE junk, but cleans out the superfluous files from other browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari). There are download versions for Mac besides Windows. The utility even has a registry cleaner feature which gets rid of old or broken registry keys.

CCleaner has become part of my weekly maintenance. Make it yours, too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Friday Five

When I was a kid:

1. A printer was a person who owned a shop where books, pamphlets, invitations, etc were reproduced onto paper. The printer set metal type (letters) into the press to print the documents.

2. Aids were people that helped the teacher in a classroom. Unless you went to parochial school like I did. The nun's teaching aid was a ruler or a yard stick.

3. A mouse was vermin and to be eeeked at if you saw one.

4. An apple was a piece of fruit. A McIntosh  was a tart apple good for baking or eating.

5. Coke was a carbonated, soft drink. If you wanted to get a buzz from Coke, you mixed it with rum.

Can you add to my list?

Thursday, October 6, 2011


One of the more interesting aspects of delving into [my] genealogy, is trying to link  family lore with facts. For as long as I can remember, I heard a great uncle by marriage was a stone cutter. Dad said Uncle Manny worked in marble and granite. Sure enough, I found in the 1910 and 1920 census, Uncle Manny's occupation is listed as a stone cutter. Family lore claims Uncle Manny was one of the artisans that carved the lions at the Boston Public Library.

" Guarding the landing at the turn of the stairs are the two regal couchant lions carved from solid blocks of unpolished Sienna marble, the work of Louis Saint-Gaudens, brother of Augustus; each is a memorial to the men of the two Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry regiments who fell in the Civil War.",  A Handbook to the Art and Architecture of the Boston Public Library

I contacted the BPL and asked if there were any records of the artists who would have worked with Saint-Gaudens. A day or two later, I received an answer from the Fine Arts Reference Librarian. Sadly, they could find no reference to Uncle Manny. I still want to believe the family story that Uncle Manny worked on the lion crew.

So if you find yourself at the McKim Building, (the old building as opposed to the new building which was built in the 1970s) of the BPL go on the art and architecture tour of the library.  It's free! As you walk up the grand staircase, between the two lions, you'll notice the lions are unpolished except for the tail of one of the lions. The lion's tail has been polished by millions of hands. The docent will tell you patting the lion's tail will bring you good luck. Pat the lion and think of my Uncle Manny and the other faceless artisans who helped create such a beautiful work of art.

Any interesting lore in your family history?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I love Halloween. Love the decorations and enjoy making them especially if they are quick and easy to do. I came across the Paper Pumpkins and had to make a couple. This would be a good craft to do if you have to keep little people busy. The original instructions used a "cool" glue gun, but I used double stick tape instead. (There's a reason my ma didn't name me Grace.) The small punkin was made by following the directions and using 1/2 strips with 1" circles to hold the strips together. I doubled the dimensions for the larger punkin. The longest part of the craft is cutting the strips. Goes quickly if you have a paper cutter. The punkins took about a half an hour to make and that included gathering materials.

After Halloween is over, the ghosties will disappear and the punkins will get extra mileage as Thanksgiving decorations.

Do you decorate for Halloween?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Night at the Movies - A to Z

 26 weeks sure whizzed by! The last movie, Z, is a bit of a cheat. Zorro. It should be The Mark of Zorro, the 1940 swashbuckler starring Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone.

Don Diego, an aristocrat, pretends to be a fop to hide his secret identity. As Zorro he champions the rights of the masses in early California.

While Guy Williams will always be the "real" Zorro for me, Power does a creditable job and cuts a dashing figure as well. The real entertainment from this film comes from the dueling scene between Rathbone and Power. Rathbone fenced during his school years and was quite accomplished at the sport according to his biography.  Rathbone has an elegant fencing style and is delicious as the evil Captain.

Pop some popcorn, sit back, and be entertained with this classic.

What's your favorite Z move?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Winner of the MyMemories Suite Software

Thank you all for playing the MyMemories Scrapbooking Suite software giveaway. Drum roll, please. And the winner is Linda! Congratulations, Linda. I know you're going to enjoy the software. Please, email me to receive download code and instructions.

For the rest, didn't win? No worries. Here's an offer you can't refuse. is giving Pony Express Home Station readers a special promotion code. Use the promotion code, STMMMS65809 at MyMemories Digital Scrapbook Software, and get $10 off the software price. Also, you'll receive a $10 coupon to use in the store to purchase templates, digital paper packs and embellishments.