Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Symbaloo

I use Chrome for my web browser. While Chrome will show my most frequented websites, it doesn't show them all. I wanted a page where I can see all the sites I use all the time, all in one place. And now there is.

Symbaloo is a visual bookmark organizer. Symbaloo uses the term Webmix. Websites are displayed in tiles which give you the look and feel of a tablet. You can arrange the tiles the way you want. You can change the colors, icons, or use your own pictures for icons. You can have multiple tabs to arrange icons by category. For example, you can have all your social media sites displayed on one tab.

Create a free account, set Symbaloo as your homepage, and you will have all your bookmarks on any device you use. You can also share your webmixes, and search other webmixes to add interesting sites to your webmix.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday with Elders - In the Beginning

Retirement was quite rosy for my parents. They had time to pursue their interests. Dad was heavily into town politics, became a town meeting member. He also enjoyed the Senior Center, joined the glee club and eventually became the glee club director. The group would travel to surrounding towns performing at other senior centers or nursing homes. He also sang in the church choir.

Ma enjoyed gardening, crafts, and  cooking. She didn't like going to the Senior Center because she didn't like hanging with "the old ladies." She also indulged in lotteries like Publisher's Clearing House. She used the small amount she got as her union pension. She "won" jewelry, kitchen gadgets, and other small prizes. The activity seemed harmless enough.

All that came crashing down in 2003. Dad had gone to the Senior Center. Ma (85 yrs old) was enjoying a warm, November day raking leaves when she had a stroke. She was found 2 hours later by one of the neighborhood girls coming home from school. The girl ran to get her mother who was a nurse. Dad came home from the Senior Center to find the ambulance in the driveway.

At the hospital, she was stabilized and in the wee hours of the morning, she underwent surgery to repair a brain aneurysm. The stroke had effected her balance and her mobility. With therapy, she was able to get around with a walker which she only used when she wanted sympathy or was going shopping or visiting. Around the house, she cruised furniture and walls like a toddler. She was a tough, old bird and made a remarkable recovery.

Dad became her primary care giver with me and Himself picking up the slack or giving him a needed break. He wasn't happy doing the cooking, cleaning, or laundry. If I offered to clean or do some other chore, Ma would yell at me that I had my own family to take care of. She had told me when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, she had waited on Dad for the first 50 years, and the next 50 was her turn. She wanted Dad at her beck and call.

Dad was waiting for Ma to make a full recovery. He wanted her back in the kitchen making ravioli and eggplant Parmigiana. He couldn't seem to grasp those days were over. Poor Dad wanted to soar with the eagles, and his wings were clipped.

Next week: OPD

Monday, January 28, 2013

Work In Progress

Poor coat of arms has been languishing in the work in progress drawer since the Summer.

Today finally lettered the name in the banner (2mm. Brause and sumi ink).

Traditionally in illuminating with gold leaf, before any painting is done the gold leaf is applied. This is done because the sheet of gold is so fine, it becomes statically charged just pulling the sheet off the pack. If any areas that are painted are even remotely damp, bits of gold will stick where they are not wanted. In illuminating classes I have taken, gold is the first step even if the gold is just paint. So I painted the first layer of gold using Schminke Gold Perl watercolor. I love this stuff as it yields a bright 24 karat gold finish. I will apply 3 or 4 coats of gold.

How's your work in progress coming along?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Full Moon

I was going to whine about the effects of the full moon. Got a nagging feeling I already did that so searched my blog for "moon". Sure enough, I already did a rant on the subject. If you're interested, curious, or bored, you can read about it here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Friday Five

Five surprises that happened this week.

1. As I was taking my walk around my block, a large shadow passed over me. A beautiful, red-tailed hawk landed in the tree across the street.

2. I was surprised by the hawk because I was in the city, and the buildings around me weren't very tall. I wouldn't think the area would house hawks .I am always amazed when I see hawks up close, how big they really are. I'm used to seeing them riding the thermal currents in my neighborhood in the Land of Here There Be Dragons.

3. I took a picture with my phone. He wasn't happy having his picture taken. He swooped right over my head. So close I could almost reach up and stroke his tail feathers.

4. When I went to review the photo later, no hawk!

5. I found the journal I had been looking for.

 How was your week?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Counting Blessings

I had been looking for the Counting Blessings journal for months. I don't always put my toys away. If I did, I wouldn't have this problem. I wanted to take the little journal to show at the Open House tonight. I was looking in a pile I had searched a million and two times before (I counted!) and there was the journal.

I had pre-painted pages to save time for working in the journal. Found this page where the green wash had run and dried in this funny shape. Color pencil dots revealed this smiling fellow.  Ziller Midnight Blue ink, Zebra Comic G.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday with Elders - Having The Talk

One of the most difficult topics to bring up with Elders is Estate Planning.  There may be a lot of hemming and hawing. Or we already have a will. That's great, but  a will isn't enough. A will only plans for the estate after death. Your parents need to have a  Durable Power of Attorney. Not only does this document grant a person to act on behalf of another in business and private affairs, but it also allows the attorney in fact to have his/her charge admitted to a long term care nursing facility should the need arise.

When my aunt and uncle retired, they had everything they owned put in their only son's name. Their house was deeded over to him. Utilities were put in his name, assets transferred to him, title and car registration were put in his name. Auntie and Uncle paid all the bills with their social security and pension. They traveled to Italy, California and enjoyed their retirement. 

Auntie and Uncle urged my parents to plan for the future and do the same. My parents refused. The Brother tried to convince them this would be a good idea. The answer was no. When I tried having the talk, Ma blew a gasket. She was convinced The Brother and me were only after the money/house and would throw her and Dad out on the street. No amount of talk would convince her otherwise. No one was going to tell her what or how she could spend her money. 

That last statement would be their undoing. We probably should have tried the talk again. What's worse is my dad should have known better as he was an attorney.

Next week: The Mariner Tells Her Tale of Woe
I am not an attorney. What I relate is my experience going over the hurdles of the legal system in Massachusetts and negotiating the maze of the Medicaid system. If you need legal advice, hire an attorney who specializes in Elder care law. If you're not sure who to hire, contact Social Services at your local hospital or rehab facility. They deal with attorneys all the time and will be able to recommend someone. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Is It August, Yet?

Not quite, but you can come in out of the cold on Thursday night. Come to the Worcester Art Museum Open House. 24. January 2013 from 5:30 PM to 7PM.

Meet the faculty. Watch demonstrations. Check out some new toys (art supplies) from CC Lowell! Sign up for a class or two.

I'll be teaching Color and Form in Calligraphy, Saturdays, 23. March 2013 to 4. May 2013, 10 AM to Noon.

Stop by the Education Desk to sign up for classes.

Can't make it to the Open House? You can register for classes on line or you can call the Education Desk, Tuesday to Friday from 9AM to 5PM (508) 793-4333 or (509) 793-4334

Hope to see you Thursday night.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Sayings

"Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling." - Walt Whitman

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Friday Five

One of the things I did to say good bye to my parents' house, the house I grew up in was to take a picture of the door in my bedroom when I was little. I spent a lot of  time in this room. When Dad was home, he didn't like The Brother and me to make noise, especially if he had clients coming to the house.  Ma would send us to our rooms.

Besides reading, drawing or whispering to The Brother through the heating duct, I liked to look for the faces on the door. The faces were sometimes grotesque, but never scary.

There was the lion.

The lion chatting with the sweet potato

I wished I had straight hair like the girl with the pageboy do. There was the potato man and the woman with the fish lips.
And the boy who could blow doorknobs out his nose.

Oh, I think I forgot the owl. Can you find him?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stop the Inner Critic

Was rummaging through some old stuff and came across this. Was probably in the scrap bin because the colors are not my usual choice. At the time, I didn't like it, but he made me smile this morning.

Acrylic paint was spread on notebook paper. When dried saw the shape of this fellow. He's a good reminder to stop the inner critic. "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

Acrylics, Ziller Glossy Black, and whatever pen was in whatever holder I grabbed when I did this piece.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders

Something new for Tuesdays. As I've mentioned, I've come through the end of a hard journey getting long term nursing care for my parents. I thought I would relate my experiences here. Elder care is a subject adult children need to have with their parents and with their own adult children. It's a difficult topic to bring up, but necessary. I hope my experience will be a warning so your family can avoid what happened to my family.

I am not an attorney. What I relate is my experience going over the hurdles of the legal system in Massachusetts and negotiating the maze of the Medicaid system. If you need legal advice, hire an attorney who specializes in Elder care law. If you're not sure who to hire, contact Social Services at your local hospital or rehab facility. They deal with attorneys all the time and will be able to recommend someone. That's how I found the lawyer who helped me.

Stop by Tuesdays and share a glass of whine with me. And if you want to skip Tuesdays, no worries. I'll miss you, but won't take offense.

Next week: A Will is Not Enough

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Hate When That Happens

When I wake up at 3am not groggy half-asleep wake up, but wide awake. My brain is traveling at the speed of light going through the pre-flight check of tomorrow''s to do list. Call that..check on this....No matter how many times I scream in my head for my brain to shut up, it does not obey. I'm up wide awake and ready to start the day. My only consolation is Himself is up, feet to the floor, ready to prep his classes which begin next week. That's his habit to get up at half past stupid and to do some work. I think he likes the alone time. A nap later, and he will be his usual chipper self.

I know if I do get up out of bed, the day's rythmn will be thrown off. I will crash mid-morning and be tired and cranky for the rest of the day. I try to roll over and go back to sleep. Try to stretch out and take up the entire bed. I try, for an hour, but I'm still wide awake. I get up make a cup of tea. Have some breakfast. Read blogs, and chit chat with Himself busily tapping at his keyboard. I read blogs, email. Darkness gives way to another grey, foggy day. The weather won't help as I need sunlight to function. I head back to bed. I'll be tired and cranky for the rest of the day. I hate when that happens.

Can you function on little sleep?

Sunday, January 13, 2013


It started with a whine, a very high pitched "eeeeee". The sound was an alarm of some sort. Apparently, I, with my hearing in the range of the large Aricebo array, was the only one to hear it. Even Ink, asleep on his corner of the loveseat, slept peacefully unaware of the tortuous sound, of a nail being driven through my skull. I directed a hunt through the house.

The hunt came to an end in the basement. The carbon monoxide detector was squealing., "I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew batterieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees." Only the "push here" to get to the battery wouldn't budge. Prying, poking, shaking didn't reveal the batteries. The sound was monstrous. So I put the heinous device in the front porch against the open window.  Maybe cold air would quell the sound. And it did for all of ten minutes.

That's when I grabbed the detector and threw it in the snow, your Honor. That incessant shrieking was driving me insane. Lying in the snow, the device chirped a few times before it wheeeeeezed into silence. All was calm. All the animals went back into the forest. Until last night. a week from the first incident, I could hear it from the dining room, like some electronic tell-tale heart. The sound was piercing and frightening. I did the only thing I could do.  That's when I buried the apparatus in the snow and snuffed its shrill shriek. I'm very sorry, your Honor. I didn't mean to kill it. I just wanted the squealing to stop piercing my brain.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Friday Five

Last Friday, The Kennegeeks  made the annual pilgrimage to the Museum of Science, Boston. We decided to go before The Young One returned to college, Himself had to go back to his classroom, and The Eldest had to return to her job at the lab. We picked a good day as Christmas vacation was over, and the kids were back in school. It was too early in the season for field trips, so the museum wasn't crowded. We didn't have much of a wait to purchase tickets so we felt as if we had the place to ourselves.

1. The Eldest wanted to see the new planetarium show about Moons. The planetarium shows are always exciting, but the new camera made the show spectacular. You almost felt as if you were on the surface of the Earth's moon, or hopping from one moon of Saturn to another.

2. The Young One wanted to see the 3D film Flying Monsters. We donned our 3D glasses and traveled back in time to soar with the pterosaurs. The Young One analyzed the quality of the animation.

3. Because there were no lines, we were able to take a nice break in the Butterfly Garden. Himself was the one who noticed a Blue Morpho butterfly hanging out on the window. If you moved a couple of steps to the right, the butterfly looked as if it was climbing the Prudential Tower. I wrote about the butterfly terrorizing the Back Bay the other day.

4. We saw the Shipwreck! Pirates and Treasures exhibit. Learned how treasure and artifacts are collected from a wreck. Saw lots of gold and silver coins, and pottery and bottles without so much as a crack or chip. There were tales of famous pirates, a robotic arm to try your hand at gathering treasure, and a wind tube so you could feel hurricane force winds.

5. We stopped by to see Sue, the lovely, life-size T-Rex model. It was a chilly day so museum staff had wrapped Sue in a long red and white scarf. Outside her permanent exhibit, we happily fed quarters and pennies into the machine to emboss the penny with dinosaur images. The disclaimer on the machine said it was not illegal to deface legal tender, and was a lot safer than placing pennies on the subway tracks which The Brother and I did as kids. Thanks to Fraue for teaching The Young One about the penny machines when she took us to visit the Minnesota Zoo almost 7 years ago. We decided the next trip, we need to bring more pennies and a boatload of quarters to hit all the machines outside of the big exhibits.

The only disappointing part of the trip was we didn't have time to see my favorite exhibit, the lightning show with the singing Tesla coil. Oh well, next trip.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

One Word

With the start of the new year, I saw people opting for one word to change or inspire their year instead of a long list of resolutions. I don't make resolutions. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I have very good intentions.

All last week, I thought about my word. I wasn't sure I even had a word, but BREATHE popped into my head. The last two years have been extremely stressful as we negotiated red tape mazes and jumped through legal hoops. We were pulled and stretched emotionally and financially.There were times I didn't think we would ever get past the white water, but we did. Beached, a little worse for wear, but blissfully relieved.

Work is slow. Funny, to think that would be a good thing, but it is. There's time to breathe, to gather strength, to renew creativity and spirit.

I wasn't sure how to artistically interpret my word for my journal. While drifting off to sleep, I saw the word written on a smooth stone. Printed a computer wallpaper of river stones and ta-da, instant journal page. Ziller Midnight Blue ink, Zebra Comic G nib or whatever was in the holder.

Do you have a word?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Today, I shall be tied up in red tape as I negotiate Social Security Administration on my parents' behalf. What's your day going to be like?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Behemoth Blue Morpho Butterfly Menaces The Back Bay

Photograph and by-line: C. J. Kennedy
Friday afternoon, a giant blue butterfly terrorized workers in Boston's Back Bay. The giant insect clung for an hour to the side of the Prudential Tower. The butterfly's wingspan dwarfed the width of the 749 foot  structure. The Pru, completed in 1964, was once the tallest building in the city.

No one seems to know where the insect came from or why it landed on the 52-story building. Local entomologists are speculating the Blue Morpho was attracted to the iridescent blue coloring of the glass and aluminum skyscraper.

Structural engineers have been called in over the weekend to ascertain the building's integrity.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


It's so dry in the house. We need to get a humidifier before this happens

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Sayings

"Even now, this late in the day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me - more promising than a silver cloud, and prettier than a red wagon." - E. B. White

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Friday Five

I saw something like this on FB so decided to adapt it to the Friday Five.

1. 2013 Creative

2. The first five (5) people to comment on this post

3. Will receive something from me sometime this year

4. It will be a small surprise (card, artwork, just something I think you would like)

5. Sent without warning whenever the mood strikes me.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tools, Gadgets and Widgets - Bamboo Paper

Yesterday, Sherrinda at Simply Sherrinda had blogged about starting the New Year off more organized. She came across a free-printable calendar to help keep your blog organized. There were places to write down blog ideas, giveaways, etc.

It's quite a nifty package, but managing two households, I'm awash in paper. My goal is to reduce my paper clutter electronically. You know me and widgets. I have two methods for taking care of blog or creative ideas.

The first method doesn't involve any kind of widget. I just take advantage of Blogger's built in scheduler. You know you can schedule your blog posts ahead of time in Blogger, right? Just compose your blog post and then on the right is a schedule pull down. You can set the date and time of your blog post. Easy. If I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to write about, but have an idea, I'll title the post, make a quick note in the text box as to what the post is about and then instead of setting the date and time, I'll just save the post as a draft. Then when I'm ready I go back and edit the draft, then schedule it or just publish it right then and there.

The second method involves a widget on the iPad. I may not be near the computer, but the iPad is my Gal Friday. Bamboo Paper is an electronic notebook system. Allows you to jot ideas, draw, doodle in an electronic notebook. Wacom, the manufacturer, claims the widget may have problems if you don't use a Wacom stylus, but I haven't had problems using another stylus or my finger. Bamboo Paper is free for iPad and Android users, but you get a limited number of notebooks you can create. For a mere $1.99 you can create 20 notebooks each with up to 100 pages!

I have notebooks for journal prompts,my calligraphy class syllabus, genealogy notes. It's the best two bucks I've spent on software. I don't have to worry where I'm going to store a notebook in the dollhouse, and I don't have to worry about losing a slip of paper.

How do you keep your blogging or creativity ideas organized?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Footing

Chinese food is more appealing than haggis.
In Scottish tradition, if a tall, dark-haired man is the first to cross your threshold in the New Year, you will have luck for the year. He also should bring a gift. Whiskey is considered an appropriate gift.

After much cajoling, I finally got Himself to go out onto the porch and ring the doorbell. He was welcomed in and his gift accepted. Hopefully, he will ensure our luck even though his once dark hair is now white. I'm hoping the fact his roots are still dark counts.  Happy Hogmanay!

Do you practice first footing?