Sunday, June 25, 2017

How Does Your Garden Grow?


While working in the sunroom, I caught something large move by out of the corner of my eye. When I turned I saw a red-tailed hawk had landed in the yard. I'm always amazed at how large the hawk is. Usually, I've only seen them riding the thermals high overhead. The hawk sat for a minute then lifted with a strong beat of his wings in a cloud feathers. Sadly awesome. Looks like mourning dove became lunch.


Hard to see, but someone dug a shallow depression behind the birdbath.


Cacciatore likes to stretch out in the sun. I almost caught him lying on his back, but I startled him when I opened the window screen to get a clear picture.


Wild strawberries grow among the rocks along the driveway.


Morning glories and moonflowers getting taller.


Scattered showers and downpours yielded an inch and half of rain.


So much for planting the morning glory in the pot. Looks like someone nibbled the leaves.


The overgrown area by the front steps. These were plants were here when we bought the house and took over when we moved the front steps. Not sure what the variegated green leaves in the foreground are. Some sort of ground cover. Queen Anne's Lace is in bloom. Orange Day Lillies soon to follow.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hidden Letters

I mentioned that we had watched the movie, Hidden Figures.  I really enjoyed the history and a glimpse into the lives of these amazing, women pioneers.

One clip that jumped out at me was the woman lettering John Glenn's capsule, Friendship 7. I wonder who the calligrapher was that did the lettering? And did she letter all the Mercury 7 capsules?

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things


 Five good things that happened this week.

1. The hummingbird stopped by. Rested on the morning glory cage before flitting off. He was too fast for me to get a picture.

2. Himself went out early to buy donuts and a chai for me before I left for Reggie's class.

3. Gorgeous weather for the Solstice.

4. After hearing people give high marks to Hidden Figures, we rented the movie. All those who gave it thumbs up didn't steer us wrong. A really interesting story of the African-American women who broke gender and race roles at NASA in the 1960s.

5. I lost the magnetic sunglass clip for my glasses. Got a call that the replacement was in, and I could pick it up.

How was your week?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

In fact, when I was 14 years old I was singing the aria from Pagliacci and Uncle Vincent came to visit and he heard me as he was coming down the hallway. Mama opened the door and he came right in with that's a voice! Then and there he offered me a scholarship at the Conservatory in Boston. He said he wanted three things from me. No smoking, no drinking, no women.

Uncle was a singer in his own right, like Grandmother T. [ed: Dad's mother], and his brother, Louie (Louis). He was a lawyer at the time and doing well. And the reason for his three things I had to steer away was due to the fact this his brother-in-law was a Director with the New York Opera Company. He was in charge of the music, sets, costumes, and hiring extras, of course, he had workers under him. And whenever the company came to Boston once a year they would go on the road so called. His name was Ernesto and he would come to visit, and my father, Uncle Michael, and Uncle Vincent were in their glory. My father loved operas he knew all the arias, all the plots and where things would happen. He and Uncle Mike would watch backstage. Uncle Vincent would be on stage as an extra. My cousin, Ned, called him, The Spear Bearer.

At Ernesto's visit the talk wold be about the operas and the divas and the men singers and who was sleeping with whose wife when the husband was on the road and vice versa and also who was ruining his career with partying and ruining his voice with drinking, smoking, and women. Hence this condition for my scholarship. I would have liked to do this. But this meant Uncle would pay for the lessons, but my parents had to come up with the books, transportation and any other things I needed. This was how things were done. So I said no go.

I was not going to go through the same things I was at school. It would only make things worse.

In a way it did. Because I began to hate the life I was living. There was very little I could do. The money for extras was not there and I just went to school and stood aloof as usual. I began to hate school at sixteen I began to think of dropping out.

In 1935, with 26 days to go to the end of school. I was fed up and I dropped out. Of course, this upset Father and Mother.

While I was sitting on the curb in front of my house, the truant officer came across the street to me and said I should be in school. (The school sent him). I told him that I didn't have to be in school. He asked me what made me think I didn't have to be in school. I told him that I checked the statute and it read that at 16 years one could leave school. I was 16 on March 17. He made a note in his book and left.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

T Stands for Cowboy Cookies

Besides calligraphy and related arts, calligraphers also excel at snacking. At workshops, everyone brings in snacks to share. My tablemate, L,  in Reggie's class made some delicious, oatmeal cookies. She called them cowboy cookies. They were loaded with pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut and are sinfully delicious. They were also extremely popular. I asked her for the recipe, and she told me the recipe was Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies.

On Sunday, L, surprised me with some cowboy cookies of my very own. I have no idea why they are called cowboy cookies other than you can make giant-sized cookies or regular size. No matter. Big or small, the cookies are so good. Help yourself. You'll want the recipe, too.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang is up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.



Monday, June 19, 2017

All That Glisters



Another busy Reggie weekend. The third session of the year-long course. We began the class with gilding. During the second session, we had done some gilding using a Instacoll as a base. It yielded good results but was a little fussy to work with as if you weren't careful with brushing it on, the brush strokes would be seen through the gold. Not very pretty.

During this session, we used two different kinds of bases to give a raised effect. In the photo, the small vial on the left was a bit of gesso colored Pepto pink. Gesso is usually used to seal canvas before painting. Traditional gesso (slaked plaster of Paris, fish or rabbit glue, and white pigment) is also a base used in traditional, raised gilding, but it is fussy to work. Enter acrylic gesso.


The first thing we did was to use Golden Extra Heavy Gloss Medium Molding Paste on the heart. This was used so the gilding would have texture. A bit unusual. The steps we did are hazy for me as we had to work quickly so there wasn't enough time to take detailed notes.  So after the molding paste dried, the gesso was applied to the heart and to the compass points. After the gesso layer was dry, a layer of clear Instacoll tinted red or dark pink, was applied over the gesso to raise the base. The coloring was added so it wouldn't blend with the pink gesso. There's a small window of opportunity to gild on the Instacoll. It needs to be dry, but still tacky. If it dries thoroughly, then the metal leaf won't stick.


We got to try out various metals. 24 Kt. Loose Gold, 23 Kt. Patent Gold, 18 Kt. Lemon Gold, Palladium (used in place of Silver as Silver tarnishes over time and  Palladium doesnn't, Aluminum (used in place of Silver. Aluminum doesn't tarnish, but it's very thick and hard to work with, Variegated Gold, and Moon Gold which looks a bit like Pewter) Reggie didn't have any 23 Kt. Loose Gold so the dark pink Instacoll base still shows.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How Does Your Garden Grow?






The honeysuckle has started to bloom. Honeysuckle is a favorite of the hummingbirds. Haven't seen any hummers yet, but we did have a new visitor to the garden. I heard a very pretty, bird song coming from the honeysuckle vine. 


This handsome fella made his appearance. He's a Grey Catbird. He also kept going after his reflection in the kitchen window.


 When I fill the feeders I toss some seed on the ground for the ground feeders. This little gal decided to stop by for a snack at the front feeder. That's a turkey hen by the feeder.


I planted some more morning glories and moonflowers in a bucket by the sunroom door. The tomato cage will give them something to climb on.


I planted another morning glory in a small pot at the base of the gazing globe hook. The pot should protect the plant from the weedwhacker.


Absolutely gorgeous weather this week. We started the week with a heat wave (3 days of temps of 90o F. + ) My kind of weather. Mid-week temps and humidity dropped.  Some areas closer to Boston had a severe thunderstorm with heavy rains, high winds, and hail. No rain for us.

How does your garden grow?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Reggie Homework Warts and All

This is the third Reggie weekend. My teaching schedule and commission work made it difficult to fit time to do the homework. Again, I marched to my own homework drummer as there were things I needed to work on. After all, that's the purpose of homework to reinforce skills. The homework this time around focused on pressurized Romans and again working with gouache.


Since time was growing short, I opted to skip working with gouache. I tried, but too many other variables to worry about mixing gouache went very low on my totem pole. That and I realized I don't like writing with gouache. I also had lots of difficulty with the pressurized caps. I still wasn't confident with a plain Roman so that was my first assignment. A stream of consciousness calligram. Done on Arches Watercolor paper, Winsor Newton Ink and a Brause 2 mm.



We were to make an exemplar of pressurized caps with serifs. 1 inch tall with a Mitchell  #2 . We also were to do a short quote. I combined the two assignments. I had a flash on inspiration instead of writing out the entire alphabet, I'd pick letters that represented all the shapes. Straight, angle, curve, circle. This fit with the quote ANCORA IMPARO. Translated as I am still learning and may or may not be attributed to Michelangelo. Pressurized caps require a very light touch. I'm ham-fisted. Since I was having some problems making delicate serifs, I opted to skip the wasp-waisted letters for a more plus size letter with serifs. I also had problems working so large so decided to work at 1/2 inch. Scribes don't have a patron saint. We have a patron demon named Titivillus. Titivillus happily waits for the scribe to make an error, and then he scoops the mistake into his bag. When Judgement Day arrives for the scribe, the errors in Titivillus' sack are weighed against the good deeds the scribe did. The scale would determine whether the good outweighed the bad, and the scribe could be admitted to Heaven. ANCORA IMPARO - I am still learning.


We had to make another exemplar of pencil drawn caps with serifs, 1 inch tall on grid paper. then we were to cut and paste these letters to make a layout and do a short quote. The layout was to be transferred to black paper, underpainted with white, and then painted or gilded the letters. Another assignment involved mixing 5 values of intermediate colors of gouache. We were to paint the quote with a color from the mixing assignment that appealed to us. Again, mixing colors very low priority for me, and as I'm partial to blue that was the color I opted to work with.


Translation of the quote was gilded along with the dots. The lines in the illuminated "I" were painted with shell gold. The gold was burnished using a Letraset (shoe) burnisher and glassine.

Lots of things I need to work on. Spelling for one. At least, I have pieces to turn in for confession show and tell to prove I wasn't a total slug. ANCORA IMPARO Titivillus will have a field day with this one. I am still learning.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. A. sent me a postcard from her trip to Ireland. The cottage reminds me of White O'Morn from The Quiet Man.

2.  We finally got caught up with Game of Thrones.

3. Saw a new bird in the honeysuckle vine, a Grey Catbird.

4. Enjoyed the early morning quiet while weeding the Zensical Garden.

5. Phone call from sister-in-law

How was your week?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

The thing that kept me on a level balance was that in 1933 I ran into a fellow named Charlie Arnold at the schoolyard of Daniel Webster School.  [ed: Dad would have been 14 years old]

In the Fall I went to the Marginal St. Center of which he was the recreational director. He was at this Center for a year when he was transferred to Central Square Center. I enjoyed the activities, games dances, dramatics.

I would rush through my homework and make sure that I was fed to get to the Central Square Center. I enjoyed this place, especially on school vacation.

I took part in a Christmas drama. The name of the drama escapes me but it had to do with "Heart" the second word. It was about the Three Wise Men on their way to find the newborn child that would be a Savior.

I was given the part of the strong king and had a beautiful dialogue to give. In the play, when I came upon a man on the ground and covered him with my cloak. The play went well. It was well received. Afterward, we went to the Center's Directors House for a party after the play.

I received a number of compliments and one woman said I did not think you had it in you to carry that part which was difficult and she was surprised that I was able to project strength that the part required. She said I projected the part to be regal and strong. Considering my reputation as a little ruffian.

While this part of my life was interesting, the other was getting worse for me. [ed: school]

It was getting hard to come up with the carfare which was a dime roundtrip. I could not participate in the extracurricular activities as it cost money. I was lucky to be able to get a uniform for the military drills we had. And in the Spring the Boston schools would hold their annual parade. 17,000+ schoolboys. Bands and march. The drills were run by the U.S. Army officers. We had a major and a captain drilling us.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

T Stands For Qi (Chi)

Himself has been having problems with his back. Besides going to physical therapy, he's also been doing some energy work on Fridays at the dojo. Last Friday, he invited me to tag along, but first we stopped to have breakfast at Friendly's in Framingham.


We ordered out drinks. Coke for Himself and a cup of tea for me. I was really looking forward to breakfast.


I ordered Cinnamon Bun pancakes with bacon. Himself had ordered the Big Two Do. Two scrambled eggs, two Brioche French toast, two sausage, and he also got an order of home fries. The waiter brought his breakfast, but my breakfast was no where to be found. Color me disappointed. Several minutes after his breakfast was brought out. The waiter came back and told me they ran out of the frosting that is drizzled on top of the pancakes. What? If you're going to offer menu items, the least you can do is have everything as listed. Otherwise make it known that a certain item is not offered when someone is placing the order.. And to be honest, it's not that difficult to make a frosting. 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, a couple of teaspoons of milk. Ta-DA! I decided to have the Cinnamon Bun pancakes without the frosting.


A few minutes later, the waiter brought my breakfast, but with sausage instead of bacon. I told him I ordered bacon, and he went back and brought me a plate of 3 strips of bacon. We were the only people in the restaurant at this time, but the waiter clearly wasn't happy, didnt want to be there.

The restaurant has a table kiosk to pay your bill, but the kiosk wasn't working. The waiter took another kiosk off another table for us. I was only able to eat half of my pancakes. They were delicious, but huge.Three of them at least 6 inches in diameter. The waiter asked if I wanted a take home box. Sure! He went back to the kitchen and we never saw him again...We waited for the box. Himself decided to use the men's room. Still no box. We left. We've had great service at the Worcester and Auburn locations. We'll skip the Framingham location from now on..

We were early when we got to the dojo. Master Beef was running his Master in The Morning Class. He works one on one with students. D, a second degree brown belt was working on a scythe form that he would perform at the annual regional tournament in November.



Karate Scythe
I helpfully told D, he could use the scythes to make shishkebab.

Master Beef gives pointers and direction.
Setting up in the CJ Kennedy Gallery


Himself works with Bob, not to be confused with Bob. Bob is owner, of SimplyQiGong. His practice focuses on Meditation, soft stylized movements, and breath work to promote deep relaxation, stress relief, pain relief and more.  Bob's program has been developed through practices and training in Guided Meditation, Reiki, QiGong, Tui Na, G-Jo, Myotherapy, Acupoint Tapping, Trigger Point Therapy, and continued research and practice.


 They started with some good mornings.


Bob sounded like he was coming down with coughing up a lung. His wife had been ill with bronchitis which morphed into pneumonia, and Bob was worried he had caught it, too. He asked Himself if he would do a Tui Na exercise to get his chi moving in his lungs. This included a move that looked like slapping the back. Similar to burping an infant, but with a little more force.


Hugging the tree

Holding Buddha's belly

The Drum (tapping kidneys)

They did some floor exercises for back and sciatica. After all the stretching and ramping up of chi, it was time to go home for some horizontal meditation.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang is up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Godzilla Chicken Breasts



Can you believe the size of this chicken breast? What the hell are they feeding chickens? It weighs over 1 pound!


That's one breast. Not two breasts. Not a whole chicken! One breast! With enough meat to feed 3 or 4 people.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

How Does Your Garden Grow?


This week, Cacciatore, was joined by Hassenpfeffer and Chip. Wasn't able to get a picture of Chip as he wandered out of frame.


The honeysuckle vine, which provides a privacy screen for the sunroom is about to bloom. The honeysuckle is a favorite of hummingbirds.


Holger sits among the weeds under the honeysuckle vine.


The morning glories and moonflowers are getting taller in Ink's garden.


I wasn't expecting M and his crew to arrive the minute the rains stopped. I didn't get out in time to put a chair by the base of the gazing globe hook. The weedwhacker must have thought the morning glory was a weed.


Another week of rain with a total of 2 inches. The sun finally came out mid-week.

 Morning glories, moonflowers, and milkweed getting taller


Looks like the Japanese maple has survived the gypsy moth infestation. Himself had foiled wrapped the tree last year to try to save it. The tree was grown from a spring from the tree at my parent's house.

Clover grows among the weeds at the front light post. Someone needs to get out there and weed.


I found the clematis growing at the base of the front lamp post. Surprised it came back, thought it was lost after the past couple of harsh winters.


Mother's Day petunia basket is still blooming. Someone needs to deadhead the plant, and someone needs to paint the post.


Under the hydrangea, Dedo, the gargoyle protects the house.


Wild Iris


I had weeded the vinca and ivy earlier in the week. It's supposed to look like it's spilling from the overturned planter. I should have taken a picture earlier because it was covered with small blue flowers. They didn't last long.

And a warning from the Sutton Police, This little guy was seen roaming around town. Here he his strolling through  St. Mark's parking lot.

How does your garden grow?