Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Plans

<------Right here was supposed to be a picture of Walden Pond. Yeah, that Walden where Henry David Thoreau spent two years living in the woods, communing with nature and getting back to a simpler life. Then he wrote a book about his experiences Walden or Life in the Woods which many high school students were forced had to read.

Teague and I were supposed to visit Walden on yesterday.The timing would have been perfect leaf peeper season is over, not many people would have been at the pond. We'd have the place to ourselves. Teague wasn't feeling well, and I woke up with a sore throat. Himself brought a cold home from the college where he teaches, and how can something so small take us both down for the count?

You probably don't want to come trick or treating at my house as you'll get more than a Milky Way. But if you're in Worcester and looking for some fun, stop by the Worcester Art Museum. I just read on Andy's blog, he'll be on Lancaster St. around 7 pm. with a giant puppet he and one of his classes designed. I'm sorry I won't be able to see it live, but will have to wait for pictures.

With that, I bid you a Blessed Samhain if you are celebrating the end of the year, a Happy Halloween, a Happy Reformation Day, or a Happy Thursday. And a Happy Birthday to Ink. He's 16 years old today. Adieu, I'm crawling back to my cave.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Waste Not

A lot of dye was left over after Himself's lab coat was dyed. I didn't have a place to store the bottles, and I didn't want to waste the dye. So, I dripped and splattered the dye on sheets of watercolor paper.  The sheets will be used to cover a journal.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On The Drawing Board

Time for something completely different. Working on an 8 in. x 10 in. piece on canvas. Think it needs to be a bit darker.

What are you working on?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lab Couture

Breaking out of the cliched mad scientist roll for Halloween, Himself will be sporting a lab coat to dye for. No need to worry about dropping acid on this beauty. It will sure catch the eye and raise eyebrows in the lab and classroom.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Friday Five

Five things I'm not or didn't do today.

1. I didn't get up at the usual milk the chickens early rise. Well, not entirely true. I woke up at 5 am when Himself's alarm went off, and I did get up. When Himself left for work at 5:30 am, I went back to bed and didn't wake up until 8 am.

2. I didn't get to have my morning tea in the sun room. It's 42o F. out there this morning. Too chilly even for the little, space heater to make the room cozy.

3. I won't be working in the sun room, today. Too chilly. Sadly, it's probably time to close the room for the season.

4. I won't be wearing my usual sloppy tee shirt to clean house or make art. I'll be wearing some girlie clothes and make up. Afterall, it's Halloween though the real reason I'll be dressed up is I'm meeting my cousin for our annual catch-up and lunch.

5. I didn't do the Friday Five today because I couldn't think of anything interesting to list.

What things didn't you do today?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - At the Social Security Administration Office

Last week, I had an appointment at the local Social Security Administration office. I was representing my mother to apply for the one time spousal death benefit she was entitled to.

I wasn't sure what I would encounter as the appointment was made before the government shutdown. While monthly Social Security payments were not effected, I wasn't sure if other types of benefits would be put on hold. I also heard several scare stories of people who had appointments but were never called or had to wait hours past their appointed time.

A couple of days before the appointment, I received a robo-call appointment reminder. I took that as a good sign. On the day of the appointment, I arrived early and had my choice of parking spots. Another good sign. Inside the door, I passed through security and the guard directed me to an automated kiosk where I was given a number. When my number was called a clerk verified I had an appointment, and I had another wait until my name was called shortly after my appointed time. So far, so good.

A  Public Contact Representative escorted me to the inner office and her desk. I was armed with documents: A letter from the nursing home and a statement from the nursing home physician stating my mother was not able to make decisions and I was her representative, letters from the Probate Court appointing me Ma's permanent guardian and conservator, my father's death certificate (the funeral director had given me half a dozen with the Commonwealth seal affixed to it). Back at the end of August, I had ordered a copy of my parents' marriage certificate from the Office of Vital Records. Because I thought I would need the document right away, I had it sent next day delivery so the cost to me was $75.00. Note to self, next time find out when the appointment will be to save yourself some dough) Because I had spent so much for the document, I didn't want to hand over the original so I made a copy and brought that. The copy turned out to be my only mistake. The representative wanted to be able to feel the seal and the documents returned to me.

I thought I would have to go back another day, but she handed me an envelope with her desk routing number. She assured me once she had the official copy with the seal, she would finish the paperwork so the death benefit payment would go through. She assured me, she would return the certificate.

All in all the process wasn't bad. I was in and out of the office in an hour.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Winter Predictors

Ink and I are trying to figure out if the squirrels and Timex, the chipmunk, are more active than usual. The squirrels have been busy gathering acorns and Timex is running around with his cheeks bulging with seeds. Supposedly, increased rodentia activity during the Fall is an indication of a snowier than normal Winter. Guess we'll just have to wait until May to figure out if that's true or not.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Friday Five - Fridays at WAM

1. Spend Fridays from Noon to 1 PM for

2. Meditation in the Galleries

3. Take time to sit, relax, and reflect surrounded by amazing art. You may want to bring a cushion with you.

4. Admission to the event is free with Museum admission. The gallery changes from week to week. Check at the Visitor Services desk to find out which gallery the group will be in.

5. I had to wait for The Young One so decided to attend. We met in the newly reinstalled Remastered Gallery. I chose to meditate in front of the museum's recent gift of Venus Disarming Cupid by Paolo Veronese. Man, if I was a model during the Renaissance, I'd be a super model.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Treat

Himself went shopping and brought me a treat. Italian Wonderbread aka Scali bread. This was the bread we had at my grandma's house. The bread has a chewy crust sprinkled with sesame seeds and a soft, tender middle. The perfect accompaniment for dipping into the gravy (pasta sauce).

Grandma didn't buy her Scali bread from the grocery store. Her bread came from Blundo's bakery just around the corner from where she lived. When I was 8 years old, I got to go to the bakery all by myself to buy the bread for Grandma. I could walk there and wouldn't have to cross busy streets.

The Big Kids (The Brother, Cousin J, and his sister D (only two years older than me) would give the old lady a hard time if she asked them to run the errand. Not me. I loved the tinkle of the bell when you opened the bakery door. And the heavenly smell of the bakery full of yeasty, bready goodness. All the breads in the bakery were artisan breads eons before artisan became trendy!

I was not allowed to buy a loaf of bread that was wrapped in a plastic bag. That bread was not fresh, but had been on the shelf for a day or two. Grandma wanted a freshly-baked loaf of bread, and she wanted it sliced into neat, even slices. Mrs. Blundo would take a loaf from the shelf near the bakery kitchen door, and she'd bring it to the special table saw where she would cut the bread. She'd put the bread in the plastic bread in front of me so I could tell Grandma the bread was fresh. I'd hand over the money, and Mrs. Blundo would sometimes give me a cookie.

Back at Grandma's as a reward of running her errand, Grandma would give me whatever change she had in her pocket. She sometimes gave the Big Kids a dollar just because, and the Big Kids would lord it over me that they got a dollar and I only got the change Grandma had in her pocket. It didn't take me long to figure out that sometimes the old lady had more than a dollar's worth of change in her pocket.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Box

Himself wanted to know why the box was on the grass outside the sun room.

"Because of the spider"

"On the box?"

"No, inside."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wells Beach, Maine

I was tempted to relocate this sign to my house
Our day trip ended at our home for the night, The Bellevue. in Wells Beach, Maine. In the olden days Wells was shoe outlet heaven. If the weather marred a beach day, you could always save the day at the Bass and Dexter shoe outlets.

Motels in the area have gone upscale. No longer just a room, now they are converted condos. If the facility has an indoor pool in the main building, they bill themselves as a resort!

Our unit at the Bellevue was newly remodeled and just beautiful. There was a loft with a king-size bed (I won the toss), a pullout bed in the living area and a galley kitchen. The walls were painted a Wedgewood blue with white trim. Just for me! Our unit was on the second floor and offered an ocean view. See the peak of the white house? To the left there's a grey trapezoid. That's the Atlantic Ocean! If you're looking for a place to stay in Wells request unit 206 at the Bellevue.

The condo was a short walk to Wells Beach. I love walking along the beach especially when it's nearly deserted.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Friday Five - York Beach, Maine

Downtown York Beach. The Goldenrod is on the right. It's a sandwich, ice cream and candy shop
The Goldenrod is famous for their saltwater taffy. You can stand on the sidewalk and
watch the automated taffy puller.

The big building in the background is the grand dame, Union Bluff Hotel.

Short Sands Beach, steps from downtown. I prefer Long Sands

Dump Ducks (aka seagulls) enjoy the water

Looks like the Dump Ducks had crab for lunch

Thursday, October 10, 2013

York's Wild Kingdom and Amusement Park

The park was closed for the season and the animals must have gone to their Winter home, wherever that may be. The gates were open so we walked around the abandoned midway. I had never been to the park. The only movement I did up in York was to plant my lounge chair on Long Sands, and get up every hour to turn into the sun. From the outside, the park seemed huge, but it's really small and eerily quiet. Fitting as we were in Stephen King country. Without the crowds and noise, the figures and murals on some of the rides were very creepy. I half expected to see a balloon and Pennywise, which would have freaked me out. Go read Stephen King's It if you don't understand the reference.
The Carousel

I would ride the wild, black horse.

Look, Ma! I can ride the rides all by myself.

One of the games on the midway

Does my butt look big?

Sad Kong

Look! It's the Letter I. Okay, it's a weird apple tree

Creepy catepillar

Lonely Ferris wheel

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Road Trip to Maine - Nubble Light

Over the weekend, my friend, Teague and I ran away to south coast of Maine. Our first stop was Sohier Park and Nubble Light, a popular and much photographed tourist attraction.
Looking out over the rocks to the Atlantic Ocean
Fiddling with the camera on  the new phone. Either that or I was really interested in the cigarette butt and
my red Connies. 

Nubble Light
Too bad, the public isn't allowed on the rock island to tour the lighthouse. It was foggy out and we got to hear
the foghorn blaring.

Some sort of bush with berries growing through the rock crevices. Where there's a will, there's a way.
Trying to get another picture of the lighthouse without other people in the shot.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Siri

One of the fun toys with the iPhone is Siri, the personal assistant. Siri recognizes voice commands. She can send and read text and emails, find information on the Interwebs, remind you of appointments, tell you the weather. It's a nice feature if your sausage fingers don't always negotiate the touch screen key pad accurately but...

Siri needs to be trained to your voice commands and she doesn't always get it correct. The more you use the voice commands the quicker Siri will recognize what you mean.

The first time I asked Siri: Who is the fairest of them all? Siri thought I asked: Who is the fairest of the mall. Siri brought up links for Disney Stores featuring Snow White.

You can choose a male or female voice for Siri. You can tell Siri to call you by your nickname or a title like Your Serene Highness.

Siri isn't all business. The assistant has a sense of humor. The second time around my query: Who is the fairest of them all rewarded me with: Your Serene Highness, you are full fair 'tis true but...No, you're definitely the fairest of them all. Good answer, Siri.

Do you use an artificial intelligent, personal assistant? Would you?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Microwave Popcorn Without Using a Bag

Kernels nuked with butter and salt
I like a crunchy accompaniment to my lunch. I like the convenience of microwave popcorn, and I try not to think about the chemicals in the bag. Recently, I came across a recipe to pop plain popcorn kernels in the microwave in  a glass bowl covered with a glass plate. The recipe stated you'd end up with a bowlful of healthy, fluffy popcorn.

1/4 cup popcorn in a microwave safe bowl covered with a microwave safe plate. Nuke for 2 minutes and 45 seconds.

I ended up with a half dozen fluffy kernels and a whole bowlful of unpopped kernels. Unlike the commercial microwave bags, the beauty of this recipe is you can re-nuke. I got a few more fluffy kernels which tasted like Styrofoam packing peanuts, and the bowl and plate were wicked hot.

Another search turned up a recipe that made more sense. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the bottom of a microwave safe bowl. When the butter is melted, stir in salt to taste and 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels. (I used 1/4 cup because I wasn't convinced I'd get any better results.) Instead of covering the bowl with a glass plate, this recipe said to use a vented microwave cover. The reason is steam pressure will build up under the glass plate and there's the potential for the plate to crack. Makes sense. I used plastic wrap and poked a few holes in it.

The problem with these recipes is microwave wattage varies and none of the recipes indicated how many watts the microwave used had. I used a 1,000 watt oven. 2 minutes and 45 seconds wasn't long enough to pop all the kernels but the result was better than the plate and bowl method. Nuked again for another minute. Got more kernels. There were still unpopped kernels, but didn't seem to be any more than in a commercial bag.

Recipe pro: You pop and eat out of the same bowl. No bag to throw away. You control the amount of butter and salt and no nasty chemicals.

Recipe con:  A real trial and error method. Your mileage will vary.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Scenery from Mount Auburn Cemetery

This is the last post about Mount Auburn Cemetery. "Hand to Gawd", she said with fingers crossed behind her back.

With 175 acres to roam around, one would need a good week to discover all the gems of the cemetery. Here are just a few:

fountain in main parking circle

Civil War Memorial

The Willow Pond 

My favorite monument: Metatron, Celestial Scribe

Auburn Lake, view opposite Isabella Stewart Gardner's Mausoleum
Interesting note,  the view is similar. Mrs. Gardner lived across from the Muddy River

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Friday Five - Mount Auburn Cemetery

While roaming the hills and pathways of Mount Auburn Cemetery, we looked for the graves of some of Boston's most notable people.

Edwin Booth, actor and brother of infamous assassin John Wilkes Booth,  1833 - 1893

Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science and Church of Christ, Scientist,  1821 - 1910

Buckminster Fuller, architect noted for the geodesic dome or Bucky Ball, 1895 - 1983

Isabella Stewart Gardner, art collector, philanthropist, and founder of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1840 - 1924

B. F. Skinner, behavioral psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Harvard University,  1904 - 1990