Monday, August 31, 2015

Ender's Island, Mystic CT

Ender's Island is no bigger than a postage stamp. Beauty and inspiration are everywhere you look. The island was coldly beautful when I was there in March, but absolutely stunning at the end of August. The gardens at St. Edmund's Retreat Center were in full bloom and an air of peace and serenity envelopes you the moment you get out of your car, carries you through the week, and invades your soul.
Morning mist first morning on the island burned off by afternoon.

The Little Beach, my favorite spot

The dahlias were the size of dinner plates

Garden paths leading to niches to sit, rest, and reflect.

The main house

Rocks behind the maintenance buildings

Hydrangeas bowed under the weight of their heads.

Sunlight on the water looks like marbled paper

Just after sunrise, last day at the beach 

Saturday, August 29, 2015


One of the projects we did in my Art of Stress Relief  class was to make a mandala.

The word "mandala" is Sanscrit meaning circle. It's a spiritual symbol representing the universe. It's used to focus attention during meditation.

There are some rules with drawing a mandala, an inner circle within a square forming 4 gates, and a central point, drawing from the center and working outwards.

I didn't want to bog people down with rules. other than making doodles in a circle. We used a circular graph template found here. The template was placed under our drawing paper so we wouldn't have to worry about drawing circles using a compass.

To get us in the mood, we watched a time lapsed video of Tibetan monks painting a mandala with sand.

Then to take the fear out of a blank sheet of paper, we also watched How to Grow A Mandala. The artist breaks down a mandala design to a series of different kinds of lines with a central dot or seed.

Drawing and coloring a mandala is relaxing and meditative. There is no right or wrong. Try to keep the design symmetrical and if you should lose count as I did when trying to draw the birds and bush, you don't stress about it. Just move on.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

I've been away this week. I'm attending the Advanced Manuscript and Illumination Class at St. Michael's Institute for Sacred Art on Ender's Island in Mystic Connecticut. Even though I'm writing this before leaving, I know this week is going to be awesome.

Five things that will happen this week.

1. The gardens should be in bloom. When I was on the island last March, there was still some snow on the ground.

2. There won't be any ice on the water at the little beach.

3. The food will be wonderful. I hope there will be some Irish Soda bread on the menu like we had in March.

4. The opening and closing meditations will be thoughtful and uplifting.

5. The class will be small so it will be like having private instruction.

How was your week?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday

In 1952, Dad passed the Bar exam, and my parents moved from the city to the country. (It seemed like the country to Ma as there was no subway.) The Brother was 3 years old and played with an older neighbor boy. Mrs. P., wanting to find out about the new neighbors, asked The Brother what his daddy did for a living.

Fresh from a trip to the Boston Public Gardens, The Brother enthusiastically piped  up, "My daddy collects quarters for the Swanboats."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Cruise

Spirit of Boston 8/18/2015

We had the perfect day for the cruise, sunny, hot, and humid. Just the way I like it. As advised we arrived an hour before the Noon sailing, and picked up our tickets. The staff let us board early and a staff photographer took our photograph. These were available for sale.

The Spirit had just undergone a renovation. Everything was white, shiny and gleaming. There are 3 climate controlled decks. We were on the 2nd deck.  The cruise wasn't filled (an advantage of going mid-week) so we had a table to ourselves with a window view. Every one had a window view.

Himself suggested we eat lunch before the ship left the dock. (While on our honeymoon cruise we met another honeymooning couple. The young man was in the Navy. On the honeymoon cruise, I was feeling a little seasick, and he advised eating something.Said it's better to have something in your stomach and you won't feel sick.) Himself reminded me what the sailor had said. Lunch was a buffet of rolls, broccoli, encrusted salmon, herb roasted chicken, pasta, garlic mashed potatoes, turkey breast, salad. Delicious! I also had a glass of Zinfandel. The wait staff were polite and very attentive.

I could feel the vibration of the engines and could see the slight rocking of the ship before we left the dock. Himself wasn't aware of the vibration or the rocking. I could feel the warning aura I get before the vertigo sets in. I took out my vial of lavender and peppermint oils, took a sniff and rubbed some on the back of my neck, temples, and inside wrists, I also applied pressure to the white buttons on the Sea bands. I thought some air might help we we went outside onto the bow deck and felt better Once the ship got under way and up to speed no worries about being seasick. We enjoyed seeing Boston from the water and picking out familiar landmarks.

The ship turned around at Castle Island and we went in to enjoy dessert. Fresh fruit, pound cake, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and pecan pie. A sweet ending to a perfect day.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pre-Cruise Prep

I was looking forward to our anniversary cruise, but I was worried, too. I was worried that a bout of vertigo and motion sickness would spoil the day. I needed a pre-emptive strike, but didn't want to take Dramamine.

I've been using essential oils, diffusing for their scents and for making lotions, creams, shampoo, etc. Would there be any essential oils that would help with motion sickness? Lavender is calming and Peppermint is used for an upset stomach. Both oils are comforting for a headache, too.  I added a few drops of each essential oil to a half an ounce of difractionated Coconut Oil (Coconut oil remains solid when tempertatures fall below 76 oF.) and put into a roll-on bottle. Essential oils should never be used neat (right out of their bottle) and rubbed onto the skin as they may cause skin irritations. (There are a few exceptions). Oils in the roller bottle could be sniffed as well as rolled on the skin. They would provide comfort and would smell pretty, too.

I came across the Sea Band. The Sea Bands (there a two to a package) are "accupressure bands that fit around the wrist just like a sweat band with a pressure stud sewn inside." You wear a band on each wrist. The Sea Bands "are a drug free alternative treatment for the control of nausea." With the help of the pharmacist, I found the Sea Bands at my local Target.

As an extra back-up, I had a small box of peppermints, and a couple of Ibuprofen. (The blue mints are Wintergreen as Himself doesn't like peppermint. I'm not crazy about them either.)

Before leaving for Boston, I donned the Sea Bands and applied the lavender/peppermint blend to the back of my neck, and inside my wrists.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Idea

We took a cruise on Disney's Big Red Boat on our honeymoon. I loved the cruise and thought a second honeymoon cruise to Bermuda or the Bahamas would be fun. And then all the news stories of cruise ships running aground, the Norovirus sweeping through the ship, and ships with mechanical problems being stranded in the middle of the ocean with no sanitary facilities other than plastic garbage bags and two weeks before a Coast Guard rescue. No, thank you. Not a Little Princess cruise.

Our 30th. anniversary rolled around, and we wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. Something fun that wouldn't cost a couple of arms and legs. Himself came up with the brilliant idea of a cruise around Boston harbor.  All the fun of the cruise with no worries. If something did happen and the ship did become disabled, it wouldn't take days for a Coast Guard rescue.

Spirit of Boston offers two sailings, a casual, two hour, lunch cruise and a more formal, three hour, dinner cruise. Storms were forecasted during the late afternoon and evening of our anniversary. The dinner cruise offers dinner and dancing. Himself does not dance and isn't keen on dressing up. We opted for the lunch cruise.

With tickets purchased, there was only one worry left.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cuisipro Soap Dispenser Repair

A couple of months ago, I bought the Cuisipro Foam Soap Dispenser. It's sleek. Has lines so you know how much soap and water to use. The foam is creamy and feels nice on the skin. When I went to refill it, the whole spring straw fell apart. It didn't seem to be a big deal. I filled the dispenser, put things back together. Took a test pump and the dispenser spit little foam puffs. You'd need a dozen puffs to wash your hand properly.

I went back to the Amazon site and read some of the reviews. Lots of people had complaints with the product. My friend, Teague, has the dispenser in her powder room. She's had it for quite some time and says she loves it.

Searching the Interwebs, I found a solution to the problem. (I love the Interwebs!) Seems a small bead that prevents back pressure was missing. I had some pearl craft beads so plunked one in the tube. Didn't help. Then while browsing the craft area in Wallyworld, I found a box of 27mm Ball Point Pins. Figured what the heck. Bought the box,

The bead was half the size of the pearl bead I had used. I used a wire cutter to liberate a bead from the pin shaft. Plopped the bead in the spring straw and TA-DA lovely, luxurious foam to wash hands.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week

1. Enjoyed our outing with Grandmaster E and Master Beef. Also glad we all made it home safe and sound before strong thunderstorms moved through the area

2. Found a pair of girly shoes to wear

3. on the Spirit of Boston lunch cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary

4. Himself is on vacation until he goes back to school (after Labor Day) We've been enjoying afternoons in the sunroom watching Midsomer Murders.

5. Our (well) water is high in iron and manganese. Occasionally, after a spin through the washer, orange stains will show up on white items. The latest victim was my Mondrian Doctor Who tee-shirt. I wanted to wear the shirt while on my art retreat. I hit the stains with laundry detergent and gave the shirt another ride through the washer. Ta-da!

How was your week?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday

From 1997, a fun piece I submitted to the Fall issue of the Masscribes newsletter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Hey Kid,

It's been a great ride. I can't wait to see what the next 30 years bring.

I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Feast of Saint Rocco

Grandmaster E and Master Beef invited us to the Feast of St. Rocco held annually at St. Mary's Parish in Franklin, Massachusetts. The Italian festival is dedicated to St. Rocco, patron saint of healing and hope to the broken hearted, ill, and the lost.

Lost certainly applied to us as we missed the turn to the church and had to loop around. We thought we'd have a hard time finding parking, but found a space right in front of the entrance.

There were lots of rides and games of chance on the Midway. Our destination was the food stalls. So much food. Eggplant Parmigiana, Italian coldcut subs, sausage and pepper subs, toasted ravioli. The stalls were filled to the brim with Italian food. "Our food" as my dad would say.

No fair would be complete without fried dough. I've never seen such a huge portion of fried dough. A pillow of fried dough, light and fluffy, with a blizzard of powdered sugar.

We ate our way through the food stalls accompanied by music from the band, loud conversation, and the shouts and shrieks from riders on the Midway. We made a dontation (the dollar bills attached to the red, green, and white, Italian flag, colored ribbons, and a prayer to the saint that the Italian pastry stand wouldn't run out of Napolitanas (Neopolitans), my favorite.

After a brief walk, it was time for dessert.The Italian pastries rivaled the pastries from Boston's North End (Mike's Pastry was the gold standard for my family). Himself and I split a Napolitana. Thank you, Saint Rocco, for saving us dessert.  A rectangle of Heaven on a paper plate. I was too busy eating to take a picture.

Resting on a bench and trying to decide what to eat next was interrupted by dark, ominious clouds and flashes of lightning. We made the decision to get out of Dodge before the storm crashed over us, but not before going back to the pastry stall for some eclairs to bring home to the girlies. That was the excuse.

We got caught in one downpour on the highway and made it home before the skies opened up. Thank you, Grandmaster E and Master Beef for the good food and great company.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

NASA image
Five good things that happened this week.

1. I thought the rose bush by the bird feeder was dead. It produced a single, perfect, red bloom

2. Lots of birds have been showing up at the bird feeder . A mourning dove is the newest visitor. I love mourning doves. They remind me of the time when The Eldest was a toddler, and she heard the mourning doves cooing. She would call to the mourning doves "yoo-hoo" and they answered back.

3. My elderly neighbor, Prissy, celebrated her 89th birthday. Her daughter invited her over for dinner and surprised her with a birthday cake. Prissy brought home a piece of cake for me.

4. Himself woke me up at 12:45 AM to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We saw a couple of meteors, but the shower was slow to start. The girlies drifted out to watch. Himself went in after a short time as he had to be up early for work. The Eldest got bored and followed him. The Young One and I sat on the front steps chatting, cracking jokes and watching a few meteors streak across the sky. the Perseid meteor shower amazing. Spending time and watching them with the family, priceless.

5. Took advantage of free August admission at the Worcester Art Museum. Spent a wonderful day at the museum and had lunch in the museum cafe with my friend, A. We're making plans to visit another museum in the Fall.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday

My Auntie had a round, white cookie jar with a little, red knob on the lid. The cookie jar was always filled with cookies. My favorites were the spice cookies shaped like windmills, dutch boys, and dutch girls.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Writing on the Walls

Practicing for an upcoming project. Writing a quote on a wall. Waiting for the canvas to be prepped (wallpaper removed, surface painted, color for writing to be chosen) and time (after art retreat,client kids are back in school)

Original thought,Uncial/Half-Uncial letters would be 3 inches tall. Tried using a 1 inch foam brush, but didn't like the feel. Felt mushy (technical term) Didn't like the way the paint flowed.

Switched to a 3/4 inch brush, so letters will be a little shorter (2.25 inches tall). Had more control. Edges are crisper. I like the faded look with one coat of latex paint (Valspar). If client doesn't like the look can paint a second coat with a smaller brush.

What are you working on?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fight the Monday Blahs

Found this little gem from my favorite, creative instigator, Jan at Creative Instigation

Take a break from the Monday (or any day) blahs by clicking on the big, red button at Bored Button You may be educated, amazed, or entertained, but you won't be bored.

And pop over to Jan's blog to get ideas to get your creativity flowing.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. I completed the Index Card A Day Challenge. Had to play catch up, but I finished.

2. Went to see Minions with the family. AMC Framingham has recliners! Not only was the movie enjoyable, it was comfortable.

3. After the movie, went to The Outback for dinner.

4. Lots of birds have been visiting the feeder. One chickadee perched on a stack of flower pots on the picnic table to wait his turn. Might try that image as a painting.

5. Fierce thunderstorms went right around my house and cleared Worcester by the time I had to leave for class. Whew!

How was your week?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Throwback Thursday

One thing that grandparenthood did for my dad was to mellow him. That was a good thing. Here he is playing dress up with The Young One.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Fur Pig

We have a new visitor to the yard. The critter is a woodchuck (ground hog, fur pig, marmot) named Woody (very original)

Several years ago, we had a woodchuck that lived under the shed. He was pretty hefty, and I suspect he became coyote chow.

Woody is not as hefty as the previous Woody. He looks to be the same size as Ink. He has a cute, lumbering hop-run, but can move toot sweet for a chub.

What's in your yard?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Free Admission

ICAD - Channeling Pollock
Looking for something to do? During the month of August, admission to the Worcester Art Museum is free.

The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
The museum is open Wednesday through Friday and Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM. Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

So beat the heat in climate conrolled comfort and be inspired by beautiful works of art.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015