Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cry Me A River

Back on 9. May, I blogged about the problems we had with our well.  On 24. May, Culligan came to install a water softening and filter system.

The installation was going smoothly until the technician brought the system on-line. The tank had little to no pressure to fill.

The Technician went to the outside spigot and turned on the water. Initially, the water gushed out, pressure dropped the water to a trickle.

Technician said there was a problem with either the pump inside the well, or with the well tank in the utility room.

He took the system off-line and said not to put it in service until we got the well guys out to see what was wrong with the well. Hopefully, it would be a loose connection at the tank.

To be continued...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lettuce, Pepper, and Tomatoes Grow

Lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes grow.
Lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes grow.
Can you, or I, or anyone know
How lettuce, pepper, and tomatoes grow.

First the farmer sows his seed.
Stands erect and takes his ease.
He stamps his foot and claps his hands,
While turning 'round to view his lands.
He sees the chipmunk having a feast.

Then the farmer opens his mouth
"You little bastard!", the farmer shouts
He grabs the tomatoes pot and all
And puts them in the sun room where they won't be mauled.

Based on the children's song Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Straw Bale Garden

Himself planted his garden using straw bales. Lettuce, beans, peppers. Supposedly, plants can thrive in the straw, but weeds do not. We shall see. He also bought a potted cherry tomato plant.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Happiness is a day spent cleaning the bedroom.

2. Made steak tips in marsala sauce. Baked shortcakes for strawberry shortcake for dessert. Mmmmm.

3. Water filtration system was installed. More about this later

4. Got a call at dawn from Prissy's LifeLine. The alarm had gone off, but she wasn't answering.Had LifeLine on the phone as I ran across the street. Himself came with me. Prissy was shaken, not stirred as she had fallen out of bed. She bumped her head so I requested an ambulance to check her out.

5. The well and pump guys showed up. More on this later.

How was your week?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Throwback Thursday

I recently received a large envelope from a high school friend. She was in the process of downsizing her home and in some high school memorabilia she found a bunch of doodles I had done.

I love this cheery fella scribbled on the back of an in-patient laboratory test sheet from the hospital where we worked as laboratory receptionsists at the age of 16. It must have been a slow weekend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just The Facts, Ma'am

From time to time, I get asked questions about my business practices. Or people make comments Thought I'd answer some of the questions and comments here.

1. A bottle of ink doesn't cost that much so why are your (envelope) prices so high?

Well, I don't think my prices are high. My prices are competitive with colleagues in my area. I don't want to undercut my competition. That's just bad business. I also use The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. I have the 9th edition which was published in 1997. (Note to self: time to get the latest edition of the guidelines.)

Price are also set so I don't end up working for less than minimum wage. I'm sure you don't work for less than minimum wage, you shouldn't expect anyone offering services to you to work for less than minium wage.

For the laborer is worthy of his (or her) hire Luke 10:7

Also, art is my work. It's not a hobby for me. It's my bread and butter. While a bottle of ink doesn't cost much, it's part of my overhead for doing business: studio space, utilities, equipment (computer, scanner, copier), art supplies, professional development, organization dues, etc.

2. I'm a teacher, student, senior citizen, member of Junior League, why don't you give discounts?

I don't stock inventory which needs to be moved so I can add new inventory. I offer a service.

I'm also not a 6 week wonder. I'm a specialist. I've been practicing calligraphy and lettering arts for over 20 years. Pricing includes my expertise and skill with materials to create your artwork. You don't ask your doctor or your lawyer for discounts, why don't you offer the same courtesy to artists?

There were times when I first started out, I would cut my prices to get the work. What happened was I would be resentful of doing the work when I realized I was working for less than peanuts. Reducing my price also sends the message to you that you're right. My work isn't worth anything. And that's certainly not true.

But the bottom line is the bank, electric company, telephone company, don't give me discounts.

3. Why won't you donate your services to my group?

I do donate my services to groups and causes that are near and dear to my heart. Even then, there are only so many times during the year, I can donate services. The IRS frowns on too many charitable tax deductions.

4. My matron of honor said she would address my invitations for 50 cents each. But she's pregant and I don't want to impose on her. I really like your work, but don't want to pay that much.

So, you don't want to impose on your matron of honor, but you want to impose her less living wage rate on me.

Your matron of honor has offered you an incredible and generous gift. You'll have someone close to you putting a personal touch on your invitations. In the interest of cutting your costs, invite your bridal party to an invitation addressing party.

5. My Aunt Tillie does calligraphy.

How nice.

6. I have 10 certificates with names and dates to be done, and I have 10 certificates. Your rate is higher than what we have been paying.

I'm not a machine and sadly, mistakes do happen. A higher rate is charged for the stress and pressure factor of not having extra stock, just in case. You are free to comparative shop.

7. Why does it take you 7 to 10 business days to address 100 invitations?

 I'm not a machine so I can't pound out your envelopes in an hour. And, your project is not the only one I'm working on.

8. I can't pay you, but your art work will get lots of exposure.

While you may think that's a generous offer, it really isn't. You don't work for free, you shouldn't expect anyone else to work for free. See the Bible quote in answer number 1. What you're really saying when you ask for work to be done for free, is you don't value the work or the skill to accomplish it.

9. I only have one certificate, can you fill it out while I wait?


If you didn't hear about it, Sainsbury, a London grocery store advertised for an artist to decorate their staff room for free. Here's the article and an artist response to the ad.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Open For Lunch

Seems the sun room isn't the only place to be for breakfast. It's now the place to bring your honey to lunch. While Timex was foraging in the self-serve feeder, Mrs. Timex joined me for lunch.

And then Ink, delicately stroking the glass, decided he wanted to have lunch, too.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sun Room Season

a little late, has officially begun. Timex is back and joined me for breakfast this morning.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. A good time was had by all at Himself's birthday celebration. Fun movie, dinner at Longhorn using a gift card, His birthday dessert request, blondies, wasn't festive enough for me so I added a scoop of Sea Salt Caramel gelato. Mmmmm.

2. More essential oils arrived. Several blends to support respiratory functions during allergy season.

3. We purchased a whole-house water filtration system which will be installed next week.

4. During the toilet bucket brigade, the toilet lid crashed to the floor and shattered. Placed a call to F.W. Webb where we purchased the toilet 7 years ago. They were able to find a replacement lid for very short money without having to buy a whole new toilet.

5. Happiness is a toilet that flushes. Himself replaced the flush valve. No more filling up buckets. No more Mary on the Prairie. Thank Gawd, Himself is so handy. Yup, he's a keeper.

How was your week?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Throwback Thursday

I came across an article about an artist who recreated a 19th century photography study in 1:12 scale. The studio reminded me of author friend, Erica Vetsch's novel, A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City.

Erica and I were chatting about the authenticity of the little studio. I noticed there was a pose as a scantily clad bathing beauty wood cut outs. While amusing, not accurate for the time period. Women wore bathing dresses complete with bloomers, stockings, and a mob cap.

This also triggered a memory of a song Ma taught me when I was little. She would sing "Roll 'em, girls. Roll 'em. Roll 'em down and show your shaggy knees" The song is from the 1920s by Billy Murray. It was a song Ma most likely heard as a kid growing up in the 20s. (Ma was born in 1918). And I'm sure as kids do, the lyrics were changed from "pretty knees" to "shaggy knees"

Monday, May 16, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Himself announced he wanted to go see Marvel's Captain America: Civil War for his birthday. the girlies and I were happy to oblige.

Lots of testosterone and adrenaline rush in the film. High speed car chases, buildings, cars, and villains being blown up. A good time had by all.

Not many surprises though, I was surprised of the stance goodie-two shoes, Cap takes. (Yeah, I'm an Ironman fan). Also a bit confusing as to which side everyone was on.  Oh, and if you go stay until the last credit rolls or you'll miss the Easter egg.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Don't Blink

While doing some work at the writing desk, I realized I needed a clock. Stopping to wake up the cellphone to see the time just wasn't going to do. I didn't want to buy a small clock. What to do? Then I remembered a clock given to us as a wedding gift. Because of the digital, alarm clock that charges the iPad, the poor old clock was just gathering dust. Not anymore.

Fits perfectly in the corner. Just don't blink. (-;

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Playing around with the bells and whistles in my car. Used the GPS. Happily, this GPS has a warning ding-ding so you know where to make the turn. It also tells you which side of the road your deistination is on. The GPS in my other car didn't have these features.

2. A rainy, raw Saturday gave me the excuse to try the heated car seats. Mmmm, heavenly.

3. For Mother's Day, I got to indulge with Five Guys Little Bacon Cheeseburgers, coconut gelato, and chocolate dipped strawberries. No, I'm not spoiled (much) goodies just fit for a Little Princess

4. I got word that I'm enrolled in Reggie Ezell's year long calligraphy class 26 Seeds. Class starts March 2017. Can't wait.

5. New essential oil arrived. En-R-Gee.  Love the oily goodness.

How was your week?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Throwback Thursday

When we first moved to this small, rural town 30 years ago, our mail was delivered by RFD (rural free delivery) from the next town over. We were on RFD route one for our mail. The town didn't have its own zipcode. We used the zipcode from the larger neighboring town.

The town didn't have its own telephone exchange either, but shared the exchange from the larger, neighboring town, too. But what was cool, because the town was so small (population barely 7,000), in order to telephone a neighbor, all we had to dial was the last digit of the exchange and the 4 digits of the telephone number. The process was one step removed from cranking the phone to connect with the operator and telling her, "Mabel, get me Prissy."

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


When we moved here 30 years ago, there wasn't much in the way of conveniences. Banking, shopping, and post office runs had to be done next town over. We did have a strip mall. There was a pharmacy that also carried greeting cards and lovely gifts, a convenience store, a jewelry store, and a restaurant. Gradually these things moved out. The restaurant became our own post office. The convenience store couldn't compete with the gas station convenience store across the street. The jewelry store became a bank. Several actually, as small banks were bought out by larger banks.

A sign in the parking lot boasted major shopping coming soon. We were thrilled, and we waited with excitement. We waited and waited. The sign was taken down. I thought it was the same kind of response I got shortly after we moved in to town. I asked when we would see town water and sewerage. I was told not in my life time.

We did have Tony's Pizza at the interesection of the highway and main road to town. Makes a good pizza (I think mine is better), but great subs. Even if Tony's doesn't deliver. Friday night, you can get fish and chips. Sometimes scallops and chips, but hurry because he sells out fast. Tony's used to have a donut/bakery shop next door. That became an insurance office and then Tony expanded his restaurant.

Bank of America built a new bank on the other side of the highway next to the gas station.

Last year, ground was cleared and broken along the highway. A shiny grocery store arose from its depths. It won't compete with Ma's beloved Mahket, but it's nice to be able to run 5 minutes down the road to pick up stuff instead of 20 minutes or longer.

And then the rumors about what other stores were going in the shopping complex. A Starbuck's, one of the big box hardware stores, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Real hamburgers and fries cooked to perfection. Five Guys was no rumor. The restaurant opened last week.

When Himself asked what I wanted to do for Mother's Day. I didnt' ask to be taken out to a fancy restaurant for brunch or dinner. The Little Princess wanted a Little Bacon Cheeseburger with mustard, relish and a pickle to be brought to her. And that's what Himself did. He also stopped at the grocery store to pick up Coconut Gelato for an extra treat for me. Yeah, he's a keeper.

So slowly, civiliation is arriving in our sleepy, bucolic town. Maybe if I wish real hard, we'll get town water and sewerage, too.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Water Woes

While Himself and I were enjoying The Heavy Water Wars, we were waging our own battles with plain, old water. One of the joys of living in a rural area, is having our own well to provide water to the house. We have the water tested periodically and know what's in it. The downside is we know what's in it.

Our well water doesn't have chlorine or fluoride and tastes very fresh and clean. However, the water is high in iron and manganese and while these metals don't effect the taste of the water, they can effect the appearance notably mineral deposits in bathroom fixtures. Sometimes after heavy rain or prolonged rain like this past week, the well gets churned up and sediment comes through the taps. The water will be muddy, or cloudy. Not a big deal. After a short time, the sediments settle back to the bottom of the well and tap water is fresh and clean again.

One of the projects we had completed some years ago, was to have an in house water filtration system installed. It worked by aerating the water which precipitated the iron out. The iron stuck to a sand berm in a tank. The tank was backwashed every night and the sand berm rebedded every 5 years. The system worked well and then reached the end of it's life. The tank began leaking while it was backwashing. We took the system offline and since money was needed for other things, the project was back burnered.

This week, we were reminded about this we'll get around to it one of these days project. The week long rains churned the well, sediment came through, but instead of clearing, fixtures became clogged with thick, black manganese. Cold water wouldn't come through the taps. Thankfully, the hot water did. Cold water not flowing freely meant the toilet tank wouldn't fill with water after a flush. Yeah, not a Little Princess thing to happen.

It took two days for the plumber to be able to come out to take a look see.  In the mean time, we were living like Mary on The Prairie by filling buckets with water from the outside spigot to pour into the toilet tank so the toilet can be flushed. On the plus side, no cooking except pre-packaged foods that could be heated in the microwave. Disposable paper plates and plastic utensils were used, too.

The plumber said he had never seen a problem as bad as ours. He went to clear out the toilet innards and the plastic parts collapsed. He replaced them, and the toilet worked just fine until he got a mile or two down the road. Of course.

The only solution would be to install another filtration system.

The kitchen faucet posed another problem. Washers and screens from the portable dishwasher adapter got jammed inside the faucet and wouldn't budge. Faucets nowadays don't come apart. His recommendation was to purchase the cheapest faucest we could. No sense investing in a nice faucet if it was going to jam with gunk.

Himself was able to install the new kitchen faucet. The plumber returned to collect a water sample to be tested. He also can install the dishwasher though I will lose cabinet space and the double sink. He has the name of a cabinet maker who can reface cabinets and take care installing a new counter top.

Me: Seems the Lucky Cat is working for the plumber.

Himself: You didn't think "Luck of the Irish" meant good luck, did you?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Seasonal Tree - May

I almost forgot to upload a picture of the seasonal tree for the month of May. I know you are all dying of curiousity to see what I did.

I like the origami cranes. Seemed a shame to take them down. Found some fabric flowers on clippy clothespins and so the tree bloomed.

The tree has also settled in perfectly with the family. Life in this household is slightly askew.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Himself and I started watching a new (to us) Netflix series, Heavy Water Wars. It's about Heisenberg in the race to build the atomic bomb  and the Allies attempt to stop the Nazis from building it.

2. Heard from a friend from junior high school. Fun blast from the past

3. I'm on Prissy's LifeLine call list since I live closer to her than her son or daughter. After lunch LifeLine called saying Prissy's alarm went off. They tried to call her back, but weren't able to get through. I was asked if I could go over and check on her. The operator told me most likely there was something wrong with Prissy's phone.

Prissy was fine (what a relief I didn't have to find her dead on the floor) and madder than a wet hen. She had tried to test the system and got no response from them. She was on the phone trying to complain, but kept listening to your call is important. Prissy doesn't have call waiting so if she's on the phone and someone tries to call, they get a busy signal. She gave the poor operator an earful.

4. Water woes this week. The plumber finally showed up.

5. An appointment cancelled so I had a free day.

How was your week?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Throwback Thursday

When The Brother lived in Harriman, New York, a small town in the foothills of the Catskills, Ma, Dad, and I took a trip to vist. The Brother took us to visit the United States Military Academy at West Point. We walked around the beautiful campus. Got to see a bridal party posing for pictures at the chapel.

Here's a picture I took of Dad with his four year old grandson in front of the decapitated statue of General George Patton.

After leaving West Point, I couldn't find my beloved, Bolle, aviator sun glasses. It wasn't' until several years later while going through photographs, I found where I had left them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lucky Cat

I purchased a fountain for the zensical garden, but in order to get free shipping I had to purchase an extra item, or two. I was charmed by the maneki-neko, the Lucky Cat, so that became part of the purchase, too.

The little cat is a plastic, solar-powered figurine that waves or beckons. In Japanese tradition, the figures are used in businesses and are supposed to bring good fortune and luck to the establishment. Their popularity has grown and the little kitty is now seen in homes. If you're interested, you can read the lore about Maneki-neko.

While Himself and I were out shopping, I stuck my hand in my pocket.

Me: Hey, I found a dime!

Himself: Wow, your lucky cat is really working.

Monday, May 2, 2016


photo courtesy of JPPI on morgueFile.com
I just wanted a pair of jeans. Good, old-fashioned, 100% cotton, comfortable, denim jeans. Instead, along with the cotton, manufacturers add elastane, lycra, or spandex to the weave. It's supposed to add stretch and keep its shape. The fabric stretches. The pocket stretches and if you put your wallet in the back pocket like I do sometimes,  your wallet falls out especially if you visit the rest room. The fabric no longer breathes and feels like one is  wearing heavy-weight pantyhose. If by chance you do find 100% cotton, straight leg, denim the fit is so baggy, the jeans look more like pajama bottoms.

If finding 100% cotton denim isn't hard enough, finding a petite length is near impossible. I've whined about this before. Hey, Denim Manufacturers, a 30 inch inseam isn't meant for a woman with a height of 5 ft 3 in. or less, unless she intends to wear 4 inch stiletto heels or she is going to hem the trousers herself. I don't intend to do either.

And why in the name that is all good and holy, do the pockets need to be intricately embroidered and studded with rhinestones? Is it just so you can double the price?

I didn't think I would need to go on a quest to find a pair of jeans.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy Beltane, Beltaine, May Day

Welcome the greening of the earth as Morris men dance up the sun on Glastonbury Tor. Happy Beltane, Beltaine, May Day to you. Blessed be.