Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Ma kept this necklace made of shells and plastic bell-shaped flowers on a Lucite chain in her hope chest. The necklace had been a gift from my dad when he was in the Philippines during WWII, sometime between 1943 and 1945.

I never saw her wear it. Most likely, because the chain was broken, there was no clasp. I don't know if she ever wore the necklace at least one time. This wasn't Ma's style.

I decided to give the necklace new life by repairing it with a  length of gold-tone chain, and a magnetic clasp. I also removed two of the small shells from the ends to make earrings.

It's a bit gaudy, but I've been enjoying wearing my old, but new fashion jewelry.

Monday, July 28, 2014

On This Date in History

1364 - Battle of Cascina
1540 - Thomas Cromwell is executed
1634 - Robert Hooke, physicist and chemist
1741 – death of Antonio Vivaldi, violinist and composer
1750 – death of Johann Sebastian Bach, organist and composer
1794 - Maximilien de Robespierre is executed
1794 - Louis Antoine de Saint-Just is executed
1844 - Gerard Manley Hopkins, poet
1864 - US Civil War: Battle of Ezra Church
1866 - Beatrix Potter, author
1868 - 14th Amendment to US Constitution is certified
1887 - Marcel Duchamp, artist
1901 - Rudy Vallée, singer
1907 - Earl Tupper, inventor of Tupperware
1914 - WWI, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia
1929 - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 37th First Lady of the United States, journalist
1935 - First flight of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
1945 - Jim Davis, cartoonist
1947 - Sally Struthers, actress
1949 - Vida Blue, baseball player, sportscaster
1954 - Gerd Faltings, mathematician
1955 - CJ Todisco Kennedy, The Little Princess
1960 - Yōichi Takahashi, illustrator
1973 - Summer Jam at Watkins Glen
1993 - Andorra joins the United Nations
1996 - The remains of Kennewick Man, a prehistoric man, a found near Kennewick, WA

Anyone want a piece of Blue Velvet Cake?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bridal Shower Card

The Eldest is attending a bridal shower and needed a card. I hate buying greeting cards. They are so expensive and half the time I can't find one I like.  A sheet of origami paper folded into a little dress, a scrap of cardstock, a bit of ribbon, doo-dads, and voilà, a sweet card. Directions for the origami dress can be found here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shape of the Dragon

Underpainted dragon takes shape on the canvas. No, that's not a softball in its hand. That's a pearl of wisdom. Acrylic on canvas.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. What a difference a new mattress makes. Ahhhhh. No more waking up with a backache or a headache.

2. I received a very nice thank you card from one of the teachers in last week's workshop.

3. The Young One had a sore throat for several days. She went to urgent care over the weekend. The good news: no strep. The bad news: no strep. At least if she had strep she would have been given something to make her feel better.

4. Even though The Young One wasn't feeling well, we celebrated her 22nd birthday with a red velvet cake. Chocolate always makes you feel better.

5. I went out to lunch with my friend, Red. Sadly, this was the last outing with her for some time. Red is moving to New Mexico. I'm glad we'll be able to stay in touch via Skype and E-mail.

How was your week?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday

From 1981 or 1982, playing Barnstormer on Atari with my friend, D. Miss you, D.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Full STEAM Ahead

If you're looking for me today, I'll be here. In the sun room (where I work during warm weather season) attending STEAM 2014 Connectivity Conference. This virtual conference explores how arts fit into the STEM initiative. That is using arts to teach science, technology, engineering, and math and changing STEM to STEAM.

Monday, July 21, 2014

We're Getting Legs

So far, Customer Service at Sleep Number was easy to deal with. I explained my problem with the wheels on the bed. The Rep offered to send caster cups (free of charge.) I refrained from making a comment how they should be free. I asked if the bed frame could be swapped out for one that had good, old-fashioned legs. The legs were extra. I said after I paid the same amount for this bed as I paid for my first car, I didn't feel I should pony up any more dollars and cents. She said she would check with her supervisor. After a minute on hold (the hold music is ghastly), the Rep said she would order legs for the bed. Later in the week, Sleep Number would call to make an appointment for a technician to come remove the wheels and install the legs. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wheels on the Bed

The new Sleep Number bed arrived on Friday. Yay! The upside is the bed seems to be comfortable. The downside is the bed frame is on wheels. WTH? When I mentioned this to the delivery man who set the bed up, he said he could lock the wheels, and we could go to the big box store and buy cup casters. WTH? We paid close to the amount for this bed as my first car. He locked the wheels, but the frame still careens across the floor with the slightest touch. Not safe.

So, I went back to the store to complain. I mean, really, unless the bed is to be used in a hospital to get from the ER to another floor, what the hell does it need wheels for? What a stupid design! The store manager was very nice. She said  the design is being changed because of the complaints. She said the delivery guy was supposed to have the cup casters on his truck. Guess not, if he told us to go buy them at the hardware store.  I asked if we could swap the wheelie frame for a stationary frame. She called customer service, but CS isn't opened all day on Saturday and not at all on Sunday. Of course, not. She sent CS an email and noted my complaints. Said I should hear from them sometime Monday. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. We celebrated the Eldest's 26th. birthday with a pink velvet cake with hot pink frosting.

2. I got a couple of new t-shirts from 

3. I had misplaced my TARDIS (Travels and Ramblings Done in Style) journal. And I found it in the drawer I had previously searched through three times.

4. Monday and Tuesday, I had a blast as a guest artist introducing a group of teachers to the joys of calligraphy. We learned Uncial and knotted illuminated letters. Their knotted letters were amazing.

5. The check out clerk put a tape handle on the packages of paper towels and toilet paper to make carrying easier. It's all about the little things.

How was your week?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day at the Beach

After visiting Uncle Manny, Teague took me to Castle Island in South Boston. We bought lunch at Sullivan's and sat on the hill shaded by Fort Independence and trees to eat our lunch. It was hot and wicked humid so I had a hamburger instead of an order of fried clams. After our picnic, we strolled by the fort and walked along the harbor way to the beach at Pleasure Bay.

Memorial to shipbuilder Donald McKay

Flag on top of the fort

view of the control tower at Logan International Airport

across the harbor (pronounced habah)

Monument and Fort Independence

Jelly fish

Another view of the harbor

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Carved in Stone

St. Michael's Cemetery in Roslindale (a Boston neighborhood) doesn't boast the ambiance of the garden cemeteries like Mt. Auburn or Woodlawn. There are no weeping willows and peaceful streams. The stones are packed in close much like the triple deckers many of these individuals would have lived in. The residents are predominantly Italian.(The cemetery was founded in the early 1900s by four Italian pastors as the cemetery across the street wouldn't allow Italians to be buried there.) St. Michael's might not have the landscaping, but the monuments are just as spectacular. Most of these stones are carved by hand. Many were done by the Ardolino Bros. stone works. Mausoleums ring the cemetery and the Ardolino Bros. stamp are carved into many of them. Uncle Manny's mother was an Ardolino, and I suspect Manny worked for his cousins. As I roamed the cemetery, I wondered which stones Uncle Manny might have worked on.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus watches over the matriarch and patriarch. They are flanked by St. Teresa of Avila (matriarch's side) and St. Theresa, the Little Flower. The cemetery doesn't allow planting so many of the stones have vases on the base. 

A praying angel

This angel lost her wings. They can be seen lying to the left of the stone.

Scroll pierce by a  palm branch. It almost looks like a quill.

This little angel lost her hand.

This was the most spectacular monument I saw at the cemetery. St. Michael, the Archangel dispatches Satan to Hell. The stone is a good 8 ft. tall.

This is my maiden name. Further research needed to find if this is a relation. 

Monument of Clamanzio Ardolino, one of the owners of the Ardolino Bros. stone works and maybe Uncle Manny's cousin as well as one of his bosses. Beautiful lilies grow at the foot of a cross.

The Lamb of God decorates this child's grave.

An unusual stone carved to look like The Book of Life for this individual.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. The electricity went out just  before Hurricane Arthur was supposed to hit. Have no idea why it went out. There were no heavy winds or rain. It came back on two hours later before the heavy rains arrived. So no worries about the basement flooding because the sump pump couldn't sing.

2. We had a cookout at The Brother's and watched the Worcester fireworks from his back deck.

3. Himself and I went looking for a new mattress. Ended up buying a Sleep Number bed.

4. I finally found my great-Uncle Manny.

5. After visiting Uncle Manny, Teague and I spent the afternoon at Castle Island.

How was your week?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I finally found my great-uncle (by marriage), Manny. He was a stone cutter by trade and family lore states he carved his own tombstone.  I have no way of verifying the story.

The stone tells an interesting tale and may point to some truth in the family stories.

Uncle Manny, as my father called him, is buried with his son, Americo, who died two years after he was born in 1910. An accident or an illness, I have no idea. Either way, sad to lose a child.

 Uncle Manny died in 1926 from heart disease.

Little Americo's name is not the first name listed on the stone.  Usually, the first name on a stone for a multiple grave is the person who passed away first.

Also, a headstone was an expensive purchase (still is), even with a discount, or at cost, or a less than perfect stone for a stone cutter from the monument works where he was employed. That would explain why such a long time passed from the time Americo died until a headstone was erected. If Uncle knew he was dying, and knew he would be buried with his son, perhaps he carved everything except his death date.

Records with Uncle's family name are spelled DeCristoforo, not with the "faro" ending. Manny's children, my father's first cousins all use the "foro" ending. I had suspected the family name is, indeed, DeCristofaro,  and just defaulted to the "foro" spelling when records were filled out. Manny's father's name has been recorded with the "faro" ending. Not unusual to find variations of spelling due to transcribers not being able to understand thick accents and language barriers. Note, Uncle carved the stone with the real spelling of his surname.

The pink, marble stone is rather plain in its decoration except for the stepped top. A simple cross with the letters IHS (the first letters of Jesus' name in Greek) and palm branches. The back of the stone is rough hewn (like the base) and the stone is unfinished, that is, not polished.

This same unfinished technique was used on the lions at the Boston Public Library which Uncle Manny also worked on according to family stories. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the artist who designed and carved the lions also left the stone unpolished. The lions are a Civil War memorial to two units of Massachusetts soldiers. The stones were left unpolished to symbolize the unfinished lives of the soldiers who died during the war.

Perhaps Uncle also left the stone unfinished in memory of the little boy who was taken before his life even began.

Monday, July 7, 2014


from How To Train Your Dragon. The kids might like him. He's probably not what the Chief Instructor had in mind and I'm betting Dreamworks would not be amused.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dragon Studies

I'm really enjoying this project and the dragons I've been sketching have happy faces.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I think the dragon's face for the dojo should have a more menacing look.

This dragon looks more Medieval than Chinese, but at least s/he looks fierce. The beauty of the dragon is, it can be anything it wants to be.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I was all set to begin working on the first painting for the dojo. I thought I'd begin with the tiger. Driving around doing errands, I saw a dragon in the clouds. Cool! While out and about the next day, I saw a dragon in the clouds. Weird. And the third day, another dragon in the clouds. Ok, message from the universe. Start with the dragon.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Himself is on vacation this week.

2. We ran errands and went out to lunch

3. The clematis is still thriving

4. Himself, the Young One, and myself went to see How To Train Your Dragon 2.

5. Woke up to the electricity being out and Hurricane Arthur on its way. Good news is we were only without power for 2.5 hours. The electricity was back on before the heavy rains started. Whew! The sump pump can sing all afternoon.

How was your week?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Dwight D. Eisenhower was President when I was born. I can remember watching Big Brother Bob Emery during his TV show toasting President Eisenhower with a glass of milk while "Hail to the Chief" played in the background.
Who was the President of the United States when you were born?  or King or Queen or Prime Minister?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Now For Something Completely Different

for me. I was asked by the owner of the karate studio (dojo) where Himself takes classes and teaches to paint five large pictures of the five animals used in the Villari system: tiger, leopard, crane, snake, and dragon. The paintings are to be poster sized, 2 ft. x 3 ft. That's the challenge for me to work big and without text.

At the last dojo, fantastic murals had been painted on the walls. The poor crane took a bit of a beating as the black belts got a little too enthusiastic in their sparring. When the owner found a larger studio space, the murals had to be left behind.

This time, he wanted paintings he could take with him if he ever moved. The wall space is in a secondary room, 20 or 30 ft long by 15 ft. high. He'd like something that wouldn't break if it should be hit. The room is used for students to play games or practice weapon training like the Bo Staff. (like Robin Hood meeting Little John at the river). I thought of using wrapped canvas. The canvas wouldn't need to be framed and could be bolted through the wall so it wouldn't fall if it got hit with one of the small balls used in games. There are also a row of kicking bags in front of the wall (extra protection).