Friday, May 31, 2013

The Friday Five

Last week, I won the Miss Communication award

1. The Eldest was going to the Anime Boston convention. She needed a lift into Boston so she wouldn't have to worry about the usurious parking rates. I heard her say she needed to meet her friends at 5 pm. on Friday. She was supposed to meet them at 5 pm on Thursday, but the chauffeurs already had Thursday plans. Oops.

2. Himself was on a committee interviewing candidates for teaching positions at the college. As he was leaving for work, I wished him an early day if the candidate for the last appointment cancelled. She did. Wish granted, but she cancelled because her son had broken his arm and she had to take him to the emergency room. Oops. Be careful what you wish for.

3. I got the weirdest call on my cellphone. If I don't recognize the number or CallerID says unknown, I don't answer. If the call is important, the caller will leave a voice mail. The number for this call was 565-666. It's not even a real phone number! 666 the number of the Devil! I think Crowley, the King of Hell from Supernatural was trying to call me!

4. While following the GPS to A's house, I took a left too early so drove all over town looking for a chance to make a legal U-turn.

5. I started this post last week, scheduled it, but never finished it until now.

Have you had an off week?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Step Back in Time

My friend, Teague and I were looking for something to do. We decided to visit a place in our own back yard we had never been to, The Willard House and Clock Museum. The museum is located in the quaint town of Grafton, Massachusetts.

The colonial, saltbox house and workshop has the largest collection of Willard clocks, family memorabilia, antique furniture and knick knacks. There were also needlework samplers, hand-written documents, and letters.

We got to the museum an hour before it closed. There was no one there so we had a private tour. Our docent, Sarah, was fabulous. She knew so many interesting facts and tidbits about the Willard family, and she didn't seem to mind our endless questions.

Besides all the tall case clocks, wall clocks, and mantle clocks, there were also a couple of huge, clock tower works. I found watching the movements and the ticking meditative. Sarah described the sound like rain.

So, if you're in the area, like clocks, history, antiques, or genealogy, take a step back in time and visit The Willard House and Clock Museum.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Ten Day Bed Hold

With Ma and Dad in the nursing home, I could breathe a sigh of relief. They were well taken care of, fed, and most importantly, safe. The solace was short-lived.

If an illness (pneumonia), a fall that breaks a bone, or a behavior problem that the facility is not equipped to handle, your Elder will be sent to a hospital that can. In Massachusetts, the nursing facility is required to hold the bed for the Elder's return for 10 consecutive days. After the 10 day bed hold, the family can opt to pay the nursing home a per diem bed rate to hold the bed if the nursing home will take the Elder back.

In my family's case, a behavior issue was blown out of proportion and the nursing home sent Ma to a geriatric psych hospital. The nursing home refused to take Ma back. With the help of the social worker at the hospital, I found myself in the middle of a blizzard touring a nursing home that would not only take Ma, but would take Dad. It was important for me to have the two of them together. I didn't have a huge selection of choices this time around and certainly not as well-appointed.

One of the facilities suggested was a transitional care facility Ma had been in for a wound that would not heal. I refused to have Ma sent there. While Ma was there, she had been labeled as at risk for fall. She was supposed to ring for a nurse or aid if she wanted to get out of bed or out of the wheelchair. A magnetic safety alarm was attached to her clothing and then to the bed or wheelchair. If she tried to get up, the alarm would go off. I went to visit one day and heard the alarm blaring. It seemed to me the alarm had been ringing for some time. Ma's roommate was lying down, she got up, came around to Ma and showed me how to turn off the alarm. Peer care? I don't think so.

If your Elder is in a transitional care facility after a fall or illness, pay attention. Most transitional care facilities are also long term nursing homes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

The plan was to pick The Eldest up at her hotel around 11:30 am, Sunday. Since we were so close to the Museum of Science, we would head over to view The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit 

Since it was a holiday weekend, we made good time on The Pike and got into the city in under an hour. Usually, it can take an hour and a quarter to two hours depending on time of day and traffic. The Eldest was waiting for us outside the hotel. We headed across town to the museum, and our good timing and plans came to a screeching halt.

The museum parking garage was full. Two lanes of traffic were backed up trying to make the left hand turn to the alternate parking lot at the Galleria Mall. I was hoping Anime convention goers, OneRun runners and spectators (Sat) would head over to the MFA for their Free Memorial Day Community Weekend, but looked like they had the same plans we did. "The best laid plans of mice and men, gang aft aglee."

Himself has Fridays off during the Summer so we'll try again. Did you get to do what you wanted to do this weekend?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Just Like Ma's

These are the kind of cookies my ma made. No, not for every day. The special occasion cookies for holidays, bridal and baby showers, weddings, funerals, and graduations. The texture is soft, almost like cake and usually flavored with anise, a bit of frosting and some colorful sprinkles.

To celebrate the rain, I baked a batch yesterday, but didn't use Ma's recipe. The Grandmaster gave me her recipe. The Grandmaster's cookies are like Ma's only better. Shhh, don't tell Ma!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie Day

A dreary, rainy Friday.The Eldest was at the Anime convention, The Young One was at work, and Himself had the day off. Our plans for yard work were drowned so we headed to the movie theater, and my wish to see Star Trek Into Darkness came true.

I heard a lot of negative comments about the movie, but for the most part I loved it. Lots of special effects, homages to the original show, and Bones is still my favorite.The leads must have spent hours watching the original show as speech and movement are so close to the original actors.

I could have done without the cartoonish alien, companion of Mr. Scott. The little character brought nothing to the movie not even comic relief which was the intent, I think. I also hated the romance between Uhura and Spock. So out of character especially when they suck face on the bridge. Conduct unbecoming an officer.

We came home to find Verizon offering free access to the premium channels. We settled down and watched Battleship. My pick. I love action-packed, special effects and things that go boom. Predictable plot, but fun.

If that wasn't enough movie watching for a rainy day, we watched Prometheus. It had special effects, things that go boom, a rogue robot (because aren't they all?) and no plot. I'm glad the movie was free.

And the weather dudes are predicting the weekend will be a washout. Wonder what we will watch next?

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Friday Five

Five movies I want to see

1. Star Trek: Into Darkness 

2. Man of Steel 

3. Despicable Me 2 I love Cru and the minions slay me.

4. The Lone Ranger Why would I miss a chance to see a Western on the big screen? Besides, I like Johnny Depp. Hopefully, this take will be grittier than the Lone Ranger I grew up watching.

5. Thor: The Dark World Chris Hemsworth, thud!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Very, Very, Very Fine House

A couple of times a month, I Skype an art session with my friend, A. On Monday, our schedules coincided, and I was able to take the two hour drive to A's house to have a face to face art session.

A lives in a cottage, and I just love her front door. So welcoming. A blue grey flagstone walk leads to a door that is out of Hobbiton. A also makes beautiful wreaths and arrangements. I loved the verdigris cone shaped container. Pink flowers, pink azaleas are so A.

I had such a good day spoiled with tea, a nice lunch, delicious goodies, chat, and art.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - The Notebook

Graphic from
As a caregiver, one is often called on to give a medical history. Sometimes in the adrenalin rush of an emergency, information may be forgotten. To make your life as a caregiver easier, prepare a notebook with information that is needed.

Insert or glue a sheet of paper to the notebook cover. Title the sheet: Emergency Information for Name. Include a picture of your Elder. Make a notebook for each Elder in your care. Keep the notebook in a prominent place in the Elder's home like a coffee table, so if you are not available,emergency personnel can grab the notebook if the Elder is not able to speak for him or herself.

On the first page include name, address of the Elder and Social Security number, and birth date along with names, addresses, and phone numbers of emergency contacts, primary care physician, pharmacy

Use dividers to make finding information easier:

1.  Insurance: photocopy front and back of insurance card, Medicaid card

2.  Medication: list all medications and dosages taken.

3.  Medical history: List ailments, injuries, surgeries with dates if possible (It always amazed me that even though medical personnel would have a notebook with my parents medical records, they never seemed to open their notebook to read the medical history.)

4. Include a copy of the the Power of Attorney and

5. Healthcare Proxy

While you're preparing the notebook, you also might want a copy of a bank statement so you have checking and savings account numbers. It will make your life easier if you can have your Elder include your name on all their bank accounts.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Shipping on eBay

The dollhouse is bursting at the seams, and I really need to get rid of stuff. Though I sold a few small items on Etsy, I don't think it drives enough traffic. Next stop, eBay.

My questions have to do with shipping. On Etsy, I found in order to move the few things I did, I had to have zero shipping. The buy it price included shipping. But how to handle that on eBay?

I've poked around on eBay and have seen ridiculously low postage rates that won't even cover the cost of a box, packing tape or bubble wrap. The post office figures shipping based on zone plus weight of package, but if you don't know where the buyer is located how can you figure out the real mailing price?  They also have a flat rate if it fits in the box, it ships which is what I used on Etsy plus an extra $1.85 for insurance. Currently the medium flat rate is $12.35 and the large flat rate is $16.85. Tracking is included.

Let's use the teacup above as an example. The original price of the cup was $15.00 and I've seen the cup on  replacement china sites for $25.00. Do I start the bidding $30 ($15 for the cup plus $14.20 for the medium flat rate plus insurance?) Do I start the price low like $9.99 and hope the price goes up to cover the shipping? Or the bid starts at $9.99 plus shipping ($14.20) My goal is to get the stuff out of the house, but I'd like to earn a few cookies for the time it takes to upload pics, monitor the site, pack the item, go to the post office, and buy packing tape and peanuts? What to do, what to do?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Brush Play

During the art Skype session with A, I fooled around with a flat,  a round, a liner brush and watercolors. Fun to turn, twist and pull the strokes to see what kinds of flowers I could make. Looks like a fine crop of weeds. (-:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Friday Five

Yesterday, we went to see Iron Man 3 because it was Himself's birthday. Five things I liked about the movie

1. We went to an afternoon show. There were only two other couples in the theater so it was like having a private screening.

2. Tony Stark is such a smartass. I love him.

3. I want Tony's computer, Jarvis.

4. It's always fun to see where Stan Lee will show up in the movie.

5. Staying until the credits have finished rolling.

Have you seen Iron Man 3?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Legal Eagles

My great uncle Manny carved the Eagle statue
 now outside of Boston College.
With temporary guardianship/conservatorship in hand, I was bothered by the fact that Ma never had a chance to have her say about what was happening to her. It didn't seem fair.I knew it wouldn't change the outcome, and personally, I didn't agree, but as her guardian, even a temporary guardian, it was my obligation to protect her rights.  I asked the State attorney if the Court could appoint an attorney for Ma.

My wish was granted at the August hearing and the temporary guardianship/conservatorship was extended. The Court would revisit the case in November. At the November hearing, I got to meet Ma's attorney though I had spoken to him several times on the phone. At the November hearing, Ma's attorney asked for a continuance as wrench got thrown into the works. (That's a story for another time.)

Ma's attorney explained to her the Court would appoint a guardian/conservator and since that was going to happen, it might as well be me. At the January hearing, I was finally granted permanent guardian/conservatorship. The entire process took nine months.

While I could have done without the added stress and the trips back and forth to the courthouse, I'm glad Ma had  legal representation. It was the right thing to do.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Crazy Shoes

The past couple of Friday mornings my friend, A. and I have Skyped an art session. While working on small projects, we chat.

My project was creating a pair of crazy shoes. I picked up a pair of inexpensive canvas sneakers and took the Sharpie Stained markers to them for fun, wearable art.

The fabric markers are so much neater to use and more convenient than fabric paints. An appeal to my anal side. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Want To Play?

Would you like to be an Artist in Residence du Jour at the Worcester Art Museum? You can find all the details and contact information here. All visitors are encouraged to give it a go, not just professional artists. Give it a go. You know you want to.

What? You don't live close by? No worries. Part of the collection has been digitized and put online. Visit the Online Galleries to find your inspiration and then follow the details and contact information above.

Have fun!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Spring is here, finally, and that means the cleaning hormones are starting to ramp up. Time to give the home environment a facelift. That goes for the virtual home, too.

I have a new webpage and domain name. My old webpage was hosted by Yahoo. In the beginning they were great. Easy to edit templates, webmail with the domain name, and all the marketing goodies you want. Here comes the but...a few months ago, the webpage editor started giving me headaches. A simple change of description and fonts sizes changed all over the place, or font color. The editor would only work with Internet Explorer which I hate and Firefox which I'm not overly fond of. I like Chrome. Since Google and Yahoo are competitors, they don't play nicely with each other.

May is the month my subscription ran out so it was the perfect time to look for a new home and a new domain name. As much as I love, it was a lot to type. And it should have been ponyexpressstudio, but for some reason, my fingers typed graphics and hit enter, before I could correct the mistake). Marketing articles and tips I read screamed "brand your name". Do you know how many Kennedys there are in Massachusetts? Someone had the nerve to take Now what to do? Something has to be appended. Don't use numbers. Use something that defines your business. Calligraphy, Lettering, Lettering Art. All too long. Pen. Maybe. Ink. Ta-da! My new domain name is

Researching top webhosts brought me to The day I went to check them out, they were running a special so the price for two yeas was über cheap. They offered unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and email addresses, free domain registration, drag and drop templates, and an anytime money back guarantee.

I do have to say that customer service with Yahoo was great. No pressure or a million questions as to why I wanted to end service with them. I just had to verify some information and a couple of clicks and was gone.

The new website was up and running in minutes. A nice, new, clean layout. Thought I would give the old blog a facelift, too. Comments about the new look (like it? hate it?) would be welcome.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Friday Five

Jeff Dunham's buddy, Walter
Five things that chapped me this week.

1. Himself and I get our respective hair cut at the same salon. My hair is just a tad longer than his hair. We both get a wet cut. That is, head washed and hair cut. No mousse, goop, spray, set, styled or blown dry. His hair cut $18. My haircut $30. The salon raised the prices this week. His hair cut $22 and my haircut $35.

2. I went to by a pair of new jeans. If I stand up straight, I'm 5 feet 1 1/2 inches tall (though I lie on my driver's license and list myself as 5 feet 2 inches tall. Shhhhh, don't tell.) In either case, I need to buy trousers that are sized for petites, under 5 feet 3 inches tall. So clothing manufacturers, since when is a 30 inch inseam the right length for petite? A 30 inch inseam is for Amazon women, not Hobbits.

3. Target (or any store for that matter) when you have two registers open and 12 people in line at each one, open another damn register or two. Your clerks shouldn't be stocking shelves while people are waiting days to check out.

4. Michael's how about offering 40% off the entire order instead of one stupid item?

5. AMC you're supposed to show movie classics, but all you show are more commercials.

Want to add to my list?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In The Studio

And you thought all I would need would
be a pen and ink?
The afternoon session of my Artist in Residence du Jour was spent in the studio. The book had been prepared ahead of time for its use as a canvas. The last line of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne had been selected as the text. "On a field, sable, the letter A, gules" This is the blazon (the written description) of Hester Prynne's coat of arms. I had hoped to scribe the text on the last page of the story, but the book didn't naturally stay open on this page. The pages were painted with gesso with a touch of Titanium Buff to keep the look of the original aged pages. The edges of the book were painted with gold acrylic to simulate the gilded edges of old books.

The text was scribed using a 2 mm. Brause nib and Ziller Glossy Black ink.  In the book, the text was printed in uppercase Times New Roman. I'm working on my Romans and wasn't confident enough to use them in this piece so Uncial was chosen as the hand  or script I would use. (When talking about calligraphic writing the term "font" is never used. Font is for type, typography. Hand or script is the correct term for calligraphy. But you already knew that, right?) Uncial is a majuscule hand. There is no "lower-case" so this would approximate the uppercase text used in the book. The text was scribed on the verso page and then a large, modern illuminated A, in the style of Sherrie Kiesel, was drawn on the recto page and would be upside-down to the viewer.

A paper doll base was prepared ahead of time. The dress was a page from an old Worcester Museum Class catalog. It was painted Payne's Grey and folded with modification into an origami dress. An articulated arm was made, and a collar and cuff was glued from a scrap of eyelet trim.

While waiting for the ink to dry, I painted another tiny, illuminated A in a traditional style on a 1/2" square of black Canson Mi Tientes. When dry, the scarlet letter was pasted to the doll's dress. Baby Mary and Elizabeth's head were cut from the cover of the book and the doll was assembled. A wire stand is glued to the back. "Hester" will be positioned at the top of the recto page. The paper doll is roughly in the shape of a capital A and casts an illuminated, scarlet A shadow which is also Hester's coat of arms.

The day ended with the project 3/4 complete. The rest was finished at home. The illuminated "A" was colored with various red shades of watercolor pencil to simulate stained glass. The black field was painted with ivory black acrylic. 24 gauge, gold wire was bent and glued with PVA to form the flourishes of the illuminated initial and represent the mantling of a coat of arms. A small pearl bead was glued to represent Hester's daughter, Pearl.

Measurements: 8 1/2 in. x 7 in.x 5 3/4 in.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Jumping Through Medicaid Hoops, Part 2

With Dad in the nursing home, I had another go around with the Medicaid application. Bank accounts, insurance policies, and the value of the house were now taken into account.

I was advised to cash in his insurance policy and prepay funeral expenses. Sitting in the funeral director's office, I kept hearing the line from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. A man is wheeling a wagon of plague victims and he's calling, "Bring out your dead".

 Another man comes out of a house with a body over his shoulder. "Here's another one."

And the body replies, "But I'm not dead, yet."

"But you will be soon."

"No, I'm not. I'm getting better."

It just felt very odd sitting with the funeral director and making arrangements while my parents were still alive.

 And then I had to sell the house, and I had 9 months to do it.

Only I couldn't sell. Not because I didn't want to, but because I only had legal authority to sell half the house. As Attorney in Fact for Dad, I could buy and sell in his name. Under the temporary conservatorship for my mother, I had no legal authority to buy or sell in her name. I would have to petition the Court for permission to sell the house. And that couldn't be done until a permanent conservator was named.

With so much red tape to dispense, I needed to hire an attorney to help me with the paperwork. The wheels had already been put in motion for this when I had Dad sign over Power of Attorney and Healthcare Proxy to me and to have his will made. The attorney who handled that also agreed she would deal with Medicaid, and take care of the permission to sell the house and the contracts to sell the house. The lawyer would also wait and take all her fees when the house was sold. That was one headache out of the way.

I was told I was not responsible for  my parents' debt. Bank accounts had to be spent down to the magic $2,000 limit. The house had to be sold, but selling a house doesn't happen quickly. There are still real estate bills, home owner's insurance, utility bills all needing to be paid, along with repairs and maintenance to the house in order to sell it. And no money from Dad's account to do this with because Medicaid takes the money up front. So even though I wasn't responsible for my parents' debt, I was in the position of paying expenses out of my own pocket to keep the house afloat. I had been assured I would be reimbursed from the sale of my parents' house. Small comfort when trying to pay expenses for two households. We sometimes joked maybe we should go clean out my parents' house with a match and some lighter fluid. So we rolled along on brick wheels. We were rolling, but it wasn't pretty.

Next week: Legal Eagles

Monday, May 6, 2013

In The Galleries

I had a wonderful time as the Artist in Residence du Jour of the Worcester Art Museum. yesterday. I had hoped the museum would have done some advertising about the event, though truthfully, the weather was so gorgeous there were very few visitors to the museum all day. Next time, I'll arrange for a rainy day. A big thank you to friends and a family who braved a trip to the wilds of Central Massachusetts. I really appreciated your support.

Since I only had the one day and was expected to have a finished or nearly finished piece at the end of the day, I had planned on using Tim Rollins and K.O.S. The Scarlet Letter VI as my inspiration. Instead of doing an illuminated initial, I wanted to do some sort of an altered book sculpture. I put out a call to family and friends to see if anyone had an old copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and came up with nothing. At the last minute, I was searching for a used copy and found a 1970 copy of a Penguin Classic. Big deal, right? Except the cover was a portrait painting of Mrs. Elizabeth Freake and her daughter, Baby Mary. The portrait just happens to hang in the American Gallery of, you guessed it, the Worcester Art Museum. Was that fate or what?

I have to say I really liked having the museum all to myself. Sitting and sketching was very relaxing. I can see the advantage of having a studio outside of one's home. No distractions to take your mind off your work. No one asking about lost items, and no guilt about ignoring the siren call of dirty dishes in the sink.

 First stop was to the 20th. c. gallery where I played with the letter A

Then I paid a visit to the Freakes. 
And then on the balcony of The Renaissance Court, I sketched a really cool, bas relief coat of arms with a dragon for a crest. 
Next stop, the studio, but I'll bore tell you about the rest of the process on Thursday.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Artist in Residence du Jour

In the other versions of this image, I forgot to put on my glasses.
There. That's better
One Performance Only!
Don't Miss It!
Today, 5. May 2013
Worcester Art Museum
11 AM - 5 PM

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Friday Five

This is a picture of The Young One when she was a dollbaby.

1. Tuesday, was her last day of class for the year. (The more you pay, the less they go.)

2. Which means, she's a Senior! She'll be graduating at this time next year. (God willin', the crick don't rise, she completes her MQP,Capstone, and PE requirements.) Her college years have happened in less than a blink of an eye. I don't remember The Eldest's college years flying by so quickly.

3. In January 2014, she will spend 7 weeks as an intern with a company in Silicon Valley, California as her MQP requirement. (MQP = Major Qualifying Project) Details are still a little sketchy at this point in time. Her group met with the MQP advisor. They will be working for Disney or a Disney owned company. The advisor told them to play Disney games all summer.

4. With the end in sight, Himself will no longer have to fill out forms for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  or

5. Tuition Management to figure out the monthly tuition payment.

Though I'm excited for her and the opportunities that lay ahead (She's going to be an Imagineer!), I still wish she was my dollbaby.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Last weekend, TCM ran the 1957 sci-fi classic, The Incredible Shrinking Man. I recorded it and finally got around to watching it.

I was 7 or maybe 8 years old when I first saw this movie.I was amazed and terrorized me all at the same time. It's also where my abject fear of spiders came from.

The story begins with young couple, Louise and Scott on a boat enjoying their vacation. While Louise goes to the galley to get beers, a strange cloud passes over the boat and covers Scott with a sparkly mist. No, he's not a new age vampire! Some time passes and Scott discovers his clothes don't fit him anymore. Louise tells him he's losing a little weight. Not only is Scott losing weight, but height as well. A trip to the doctor, and more doctors, and endless series of tests, doesn't provide any answers. Scott is still shrinking. For his safety, he lives inside a dollhouse until the family pet turns from cuddly kitty into a vicious monster. Scott races for the cellar door for safety and then is plunged into the depths of a box in the basement. In the basement world, Scott fights for survival as he faces dun, dun, dun, the spider. (I can't look but I cheer Scott on). All the while Scott is still shrinking as he tries to come to terms with his life.

There are just some films that stay with you no matter how many times you've seen them. This is one of them. Though the special effects may seem a little dated, the story holds up well for entertainment and as a beautiful allegory.  If you haven't seen this movie, you need to get yourself edumucated. Sadly, it's not available on Netflix streaming, but c'mon over as the movie is still on the DVR. We can watch together. Just don't mind me as I scream during the spider scenes.

Are you terrified of spiders?