Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Stuff in 2014

My colleague and friend, Sue Simpson has come up with a wonderful idea to focus on the good things that happen through the year instead of being bogged down by the negative. Sue proposed a Good Things jar. Every day, you write down on a slip of paper something good that happened that day no matter how big or small. Then you put the paper in the jar. On the last night of the year, you empty the jar and read all the wonderful things that happened. I like the idea, but I'm going to keep it as a journal.

I've been blogging since 2007 and am running out of ideas for The Friday Five. Since the blog layout got a makeover, it's time for a new twist for Friday. Starting this week look for Five Good Things That Happened This Week.

Here's to a productive, healthy, and happy 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Keep Art Alive

Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples
used with permission of Gemma Black 
This is a game from Facebook to keep art alive. Leave a comment and I will assign you an artist. It doesn't matter if you don't know their work; just Google them and choose an image of the piece you like most, and post it on your wall with this message. If the artist is alive and well, you may want to write and ask permission to use one of their pieces in your blog post or on Facebook.

My artist is my good friend and teacher, Gemma Black from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. You can visit Gemma at her blog or her website, and read about the Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What's Your Word?

From a Facebook friend, found this happy little time waster. The Oxford English Dictionary Birthday Word Generator. Find out what word entered the English language the year you were born.

1955, my word: artificial intelligence

1956: Himself's word: nitpick

1988: The Eldest's word: beatbox

1992: The Young One's word: poptastic

What's your word?

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Friday Five - A Cold

Himself brought a cold home at Halloween. It took me 6 weeks to get over it. He brought another cold home with him this week. Five things about this lousy cold.

1. The annoying stuffy nose. I keep trying to tell myself breathing isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

2. The slightly more annoying runny nose. With this much fluid loss, I should be losing a pound a day. At least, having a cold would be worth it.

3. Itchy, watery eyes. Wait. That actually might be an allergic reaction to Ink. He's been a cuddle bunny lately. It's a good thing he's cute.

4. Chapped lips from having to be a mouth breather.

5. The worse symptom of all is the fatigue. Even the smallest amount of effort wipes me out for the day. Ok, that's it for me. I'm going back to bed. Hope your day is more productive than mine.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Night Visitor

Christmas Eve, ten years ago. The Eldest was 16 and The Young One 12.

 A week or so  before Christmas I was downstairs playing on the computer. I don't remember where Himself was, perhaps he was teaching his night class. Suddenly, from the garage, there was a loud bang like one of the storage boxes falling to the floor. I was shaken, but did not stir. I do not venture into the garage where the spiders live.

When Himself came home I told him about the loud noise. Himself poked his nose in the garage as it is his domain. Nothing looked odd to him so he decided I must have heard a mouse. From time to time, I have heard mice scrabbling in a wall. It was not the same sound unless this was a giant mouse.

The next night, I'm sitting at the computer and Himself is watching television. Whump!

"That is not a mouse, unless, it's a giant mouse." I felt like Sylvester the cat trying to convince others about the giant mouse.

Himself agreed. The next morning he went to the hardware store and bought a trap. A humane trap like a cage. One way in, but not way out.  He baited the trap with some leftovers. When he checked the trap in the morning, the bait was gone, but no critter in the trap. This went on for a few more days until Christmas Eve late in the afternoon. A loud bang signaled the trap had been sprung.

Himself opened the door leading from the playroom to the garage.He called us all downstairs to see.

"Aw, he's cute," cooed the girlies.

Inside the trap, worse than a mouse was a giant, rat of  possum.

"Let's name him Chris!"

"We are not naming a rat, and we most certainly aren't going to keep it."

I called the town animal control only to be told they only take care of dogs or cats. I was told I would have to call the Department of Fish and Game. Fish and Game told me it was Christmas Eve, and they wouldn't be able to do anything until a day or two after Christmas.

"Listen. I have kids. The last thing I want for them to do is to come downstairs on Christmas morning to take a peek at the critter to find he chewed his paw off trying to get out." I might have sounded slightly hysterical.

"Okay. I'm not supposed to tell you this, but you can take it out and let it go.  You can't drive it out of the area, because it might have a disease, but you could let it go on your property."

And so began the big expedition. I got the flash light. Himself got a golf club to tap on the back of the trap in case Chris was too scared to budge. We got dressed in winter jackets, mittens, gloves, boots. In the dark of night with much muffled laughter, shushing, and stumbling knee deep in snow, Himself carried the cage to the corner of the woods at the back of our property where The Leaf Lady's property adjoined ours.

I was hoping we would be inconspicuous, but there was a lot of laughter, and flash light beams bouncing all over the woods. No back door lights from The Leaf Lady's house illuminated the darkness. No one screaming, "What the hell is going on?!"  A good sign. Himself opened the trap, and Chris, petrified with fright, wouldn't budge. A gentle rap on the back of the trap and Chris bounded out of the trap, across The Leaf Lady's back yard to the woods on the opposite side.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Christmas Eve 1988. The Eldest's first Christmas at six months old. We had spent a long day with my family and the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes typical in Italian households.

I had decided when I had children, I didn't want them to have the kind of Christmas I had. Christmas Eve with my grandmother and aunt and her family (Ma's side). Christmas morning was hectic with opening of gifts, a rush to Mass and then back again to Grandma's and Auntie's for Christmas Day with side trips to visit Dad's two brothers  and sisters because they lived in the same area. Inevitably, there were tears among the cousins as tensions were high, toys got broken, and the crushing noise of screaming kids and adults.

I wanted a day where Himself and I could enjoy our home and children in peace and quiet. No running all over creation seeing relatives we saw once a week or more. Our home would be open to anyone who wanted to visit, but we were not budging out of the dollhouse.

I'm getting ready to put The Eldest down for the night. I'm also looking forward to my own long, Winter's nap. Himself has the video camera and wants to film the Christmas Eve tradition of leaving milk and cookies out for Santa. This was also not a tradition I grew up with.

I'm not sure if we didn't bother with milk and cookies because it wasn't part of our Italian heritage or because The Brother was six years my senior, the tradition was old hat. By the time I was seven years old, I had a healthy dose of a Christmas reality check so maybe we just didn't bother.

So pajamaed baby in my arms and a camera rolling in my face. Himself announces we have to put out milk and cookies for Santa. Ok. I'll be a good sport. I get a dish and put a couple of cookies on it. Go to the fridge, grab the gallon of milk, and pour a glass of milk. I'm looking foward to night, night Santa.

"Mama, you forgot something."

"What? There's milk and cookies." I couldn't quite keep the irritation out of my voice.

"You forgot the carrots."

"The carrots?"

"For the reindeer." Came the cheerful reply.

I'm tired. It's been a long day. I want to go to bed. Nevermind putting the baby to bed. I'm also not good at masking my feelings. Because I'm thinking carrots for the %#@$^&$* reindeer? You have got to be kidding. You got your milk, you got your damn cookies and, now, I have to prepare carrots for the &%%^$ reindeer?

Himself is really good at reading me.

"You don't have to cook the carrots."

With baby on hip I go to the fridge, take the bag of carrots, and plunk the bag next to the milk and cookies.

"Carrots. For the...[a pause] reindeer."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice Moon

Yeah, I know everyone takes a picture of the sun on the solstice, but it was cloudy and not out at 6:30 am. Here's to longer days. Is it July, yet?

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Friday Five - Christmas Cookies

This is baking weekend. Five cookies I'll be making for the holidays.

1. Gingerbread Men. Real ones, per The Young One, not the clay creations I made for the Waters Farm Christmas tree.

2. Thumbprint Cookies filled with raspberry preserves. These will be for The Doctor Who Christmas episode. The cookies are a quick and dirty variation of the 11th. Doctor's favorite Jammy Dodgers.

3. Ma's Butter Cookies, one of her signature recipes.

4. Emily's Italian Cookies which are too die for and way better than Ma's recipe. Sorry, Ma.

5. Cowboy Cookies. I have no idea why these oatmeal and butterscotch chip cookies are called Cowboy Cookies. I like the name but will be making them with regular chocolate chips.

Do you bake any special goodies for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Stockings

were hung by the piano with care,
Because there was no fireplace in the dollhouse.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It Is...

de vine. Traditional vine motif done on recent commission.

Gouache, Schminke Gold watercolor, Pigma pen on Diploma Parchment. (Not the crappy, mottled paper sold in pads in craft stores. This is a lovely to work on, cream colored 90 lb, hot press, watercolor paper which was used for diplomas.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Graphite

Thursday it was cold, not frigid, but temps were in the high teen or low twenties. Typical Winter weather for New England. Imagine my surprise when I came home after running errands and my house key wouldn't fit into the lock.  The key wouldn't fit into the lock all the way. The shaft fit, but not up to the shoulder of the key. WTH? Was it cold enough to freeze the locks off the brass door knob? Fortunately, for me, The Eldest was enjoying her day off from work, heard me leaning on the doorbell, and opened the front door.

The night before I had complained to Himself that I had difficulty getting the front door to unlock. He said he would spray some liquid graphite into the lock, but with his five jobs and finals week approaching, the lock never got its serving of liquid graphite.

Before leaving the house on the following, cold day, I tried the key and it still wouldn't turn in the lock. Himself had said liquid graphite, but I had no idea where he kept it. It must be stored in the garage somewhere on his work bench, but I don't often venture into areas where spiders lurk.

I did find in my tool bag, the nub of a  woodless, graphite pencil. Rubbed the pencil on all over the shaft of the key and inserted it into the lock. It fit and turned smoothly. Oh my gawd, he was right! It worked. Himself is wicked smaht.  Good thing for me because the only one  home was Ink, but without thumbs, he wouldn't have been able to unlock the door from the inside.

The pencil is now resting on the window sill inside the front porch. Just in case.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Friday Five - Friday the 13th

1. Are you afraid of a black cat crossing your path? I can't be afraid because a black cat owns me, and he crosses my path at least a hundred times in a day.

2. If you spill salt, do you toss a pinch of salt over your left shoulder to keep the devil at bay? Why doesn't anyone toss pepper over their shoulder?

3. Do you avoid walking under ladders? A very good thing to do.

4. Do you knock wood three times to bring luck or ward off evil? Guilty.

5. Are you friggatriskaidekaphobic? That is, have a fear of Friday the 13th? Well, you might want to stay home today.

Are you superstitious or just regular stitious?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On The Drawing Board

today, illuminating the vine. Drawn with Pigma Micron .01

What are you up to?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weather Update

Today's forecast: cold with a dusting of sugar snow.

What's out your back door?

Monday, December 9, 2013

On My Front Door

This year a little something different. Found the candy cane bow and then got the idea after seeing the candy cane wreath here.

The candy cane wreath is a bit fragile. Not sure how long it will last. Left the wrappers on just in case opening and closing the door causes stress fractions.

Thinking it might need a few more silver doo-dads around the outside. What do you think?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Prissy's Wreath

It's wreath making time. This year, the wreaths came from a Boy Scout fund raiser, and the wreaths came with a beautiful, red, velvet bow.  All I had to do was to hot glue some baubles, and voilá, a wreath for my elderly neighbor, Prissy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pantone Color of the Year 2014

Pantone, the authority on color announced the color of the year for 2014. It's called Radiant Orchid.

Meh. Pretty, but not a color I would pick. Too bridesmaid-ish. What do you think of Radiant Orchid?

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Friday Five - Thoughts on Casinos

Some thoughts on the recent proposals for building a resort-style casino in Massachusetts.

1.  A few towns in Massachusetts have been voting whether or not a casino can be built.  So far, the votes have been no one wants a casino in their town. I don't really get the gambling thing. It holds no attraction for me. I've only been to a casino once in my life. We went to the casino on Paradise Island in the Bahamas on our honeymoon. At the time, I didn't really understand or play any of the games. Himself got me a roll of quarters so I could play the slot machines while he went to play a few hands of Black Jack. It didn't take long for me to lose all my quarters. Twenty-eight years later, it still bothers me I lost two weeks of laundry money.

2. The casino promises to pay the town where the casino is located a sum every year. Why should a budget be based on profits from gambling? Who is ultimately going to pay for increase in services for police, fire, schools, etc.? And doesn't the idea of a casino encourage addictive behaviors like gambling? Who pays in the end? I doubt it will be the casino.

3. The casinos promise there will be jobs for town residents. What kind of jobs? Initially, there will be construction jobs for the couple two or three years until the complex is built. What's left? Low paying jobs as chamber maids? restaurant waitstaff? Won't the corporation bring in their own management?

4. Casino advertisement emphasizes that having the casino in a town will promote local business. Where? Once inside the complex, the casino doesn't want you to leave. There are hotels, shows, restaurants, entertainment. You're not going to leave the complex to buy souvenirs at the local mall.

5. If a casino is built in a predominately residential community, what happens to property values? Will they decrease because no one wants a casino in their backyard?

Just thinking.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

On The Drawing Board

Today, I'll be working on a commission. One of the things I love about my job is helping to bring a poem or a quote to life.

What are you working on?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Decorating the Blog For Christmas

I wish getting the house ready was just as easy. Have you put your decorations up, yet?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Don't Eat The Cookies

because they're not cookies. Last weekend, I helped Red to make some Christmas ornaments to decorate the Waters farm house for the upcoming Chain of Lights festival. We were talking about other Victorian era decorations to make. Gingerbread men was a thought, but because the house is old (built in 1759) and in the middle of woods and fields, little critters might be tempted to invade the house.

Over the weekend, I dug out the play dough recipe I used to make my girlies during my Earth mother phase. The clay is a variation of salt dough, and I added cinnamon for coloring. The "cookies" were baked in a slow oven for a couple of hours to speed drying time (and they made the house smell fabulous!) as they need to be delivered to Red on Wednesday. Cloves for eyes and buttons, and a fine point painty pen complete the details. The boys will just need a coat of spray sealer which will hopefully, keep any critters from taking a nibble.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Black Friday

Himself is an early riser so no surprise on Friday before 6 AM that he was up. As I forced one eye open, I noticed he was not only up, but dressed.

"Going shopping?" I teased.


I looked at Himself as if he had four heads. "Are you insane? What could you possibly need that you have to go out at 6 AM to get?"

"A new shower head."