Friday, March 31, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. I saw my first robin of the season. Too bad, its poor little beak will be buried in snow this weekend.

2. Dusted Ma's chairs and thought of her. Looked out the window and the male cardinal was sitting on the trellis. Lots of birds were visiting the feeder. Chickadees. Nuthatches. Juncoes. The cardinal hopped to the ground and was joined by the female cardinal. They pecked at the seeds on the ground for a bit. She flew off and he followed. Always a good day when they show up.

3.National Grid showed up to put in the new meter for the solar panels. Himself switched on the solar panels. Now we need some sunshine.

4. Another breakfast date with Himself. As we were seating ourselves, the waitress brought a couple of menus and said: A tea and a Coke, right? Made me think of the TV show, Cheers: Sometimes you want to go Where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. (source: 😸

5. There is radiant floor heating in the bathroom. A year or so ago, there was a power failure. When the electricity came back on the surge must have scrambled the heating control's brains. The read out was in Klingon instead of  English date and time. Fixing it was a low priority. There was the hassle of trying to find an electrician. Was the repair simple, just fix some wiring in the control? Or would the tile floor have to be ripped up? How much would it cost?

As I walked down the hall the day after the solar panels were turned on, the radiant floor heating control was back in English showing the date and time though the time was a half an hour slow. (About the same amount of time as it took the National Grid technician to turn off the electricity, install the new meter, and turn the electricity back on. Hmmm.)

I don't know if the rewiring of the electrical box for the solar panels fixed the problem or the floor somehow got wired into the solar panels. Whatever happened, I'm grateful the Little Princess no longer has to walk on cold tiles in the morning.

How was your week?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

CJ, 4 years old
I do not know how old I was but my first remembrance was in bed in the room which would become my sisters' room.

I remember a tall individual looking down on me, and I was frightened.

My next memory is of sitting on Zia Philomena's lap and being pinched. She was to give me some care, but she did not care to perform this task.

I also had a playmate. I only remember two incidents with my playmate. It was a good start for me. She was a girl. [ed: Always the ladies' man :-D]

I remember being down in the yard. I was swinging on the yard gate. It was summer and behind me was the vegetables growing in their rows. In front, was my playmate. I do not remember her name. But she was dressed in a pink light dress with a darker pink belt and her dark blonde hair in curls.

Dad illustrated the little girl's curls

She was also drinking from tiny bottles which contained different colors of liquid fruit and when emptied serves as gum. At least she shared these and I chewed them as gum while I continued swinging on the gate. What we talked about, I don't remember. My next remembrance came when I was in our kitchen with my father and mother.

My playmate had died and they were debating whether I should go downstairs and have me pay my respects. She was waked in her living room. In those days it was the custom to wake the deceased in their homes. And the automobiles were starting to come in use and the funeral was held with horses leading the procession. And autos in the rear. Funerals were large at that time.

My mother finally agreed and my father told her to dress me in the trousers he had made for me.

I went downstairs into the parlor and my playmate's mother saw me come in and I remember her saying, "Joe, you lost a friend."

This much I remember. And many years later when I was visiting my sister, Olga with your mother, her brother-in-law, Peter came in. He married late and to Lillian Sacco. We talked about the old days. How he and his brother wired the building we lived in as electricity was starting to gain and gas lights were losing favor. So wasn't the horse carts. 

We talked about family and Peter talked about his brothers and sisters. He omitted one member and I said there was another sister and she died and I recounted my visit at the time. He thought awhile and turning to me he said you remember that? I nodded and he continued that she died of a childhood illness. 

In those days the medical profession was not any where as high tech as today. Hospitals were not in favor. If one was sick and was sent to a hospital it was to die. It was the attitude of the community.

As he was talking about his little sister, he turned to me with surprise and said "You remember that? You were three years old!" I replied "I remember that by not my age until you told me."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

T Stands For - Too Much Fun

Warning: Picture heavy.

Tuesday last, my friend, A. came for a visit. A and I live half a state away so we don't get to visit very often though we do try to have art dates over Skype at least once a month and occasionally a field trip if the weather and schedules cooperate.

I met A. about 20 years ago at a Masscribes guild workshop. We were the new kids in the guild like being the new kids at school. We found beyond a love for calligraphy, we also had other things in common. We were both Southpaws. Our children were about the same ages, so we gravitated towards each other.

A. made exceptional time coming from the North of Boston to the wilds of central Massachusetts. She had lots of surprises for me. She brought me flowers.

I was working on a project and needed 2 bright, green buttons. She brought her button jar. No green buttons the right shade or size, but she had some cute heart shaped buttons and gave me a bunch.

She also had an extra punch for a fancy border.

She had some healthy snacks, chocolate covered almonds, granola bars, cookies, and small ziplock snack bags with portion marks on them. She spoils me!

After a short visit, we decided to go to lunch. We were going to go to Panera. See, A. watches what she eats and I figured she could get a healthy lunch. When we got to the mall, I mentioned the other eateries besides Panera: Uno's (Chicago style, deep dish pizza), Red Robin (hamburgers), Longhorn Steakhouse. She asked if we could go to Uno's as she hadn't been there in a long time. So Uno's it was. It was Tuesday so we had the Tuesday lunch special. A Chicago Classic (individual deep dish pizza with tomato and sausage) and a salad. I had a house salad and A. had a Caesar. Unsweetened ice tea for me and water with lemon for A.

After a nice lunch and catching up, we went back to the house because there was so much to do. First, we played with essential oils. A. sniffed the oils and decided she would like bergamot and eucalyptus to make a hand-sanitizer. I also had crocheted a small bag filled with lip balm, sugar scrub, lotion bar, a wellness roller, and a sample of my favorite, Thieves cleaner for her to try.

Then it was time for tea and cookies.

Then we looked at the notes and some of the homework I've done from the year-long class I'm taking.

And then all too soon it was time for A. to go home with promises to come back again.

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, March 27, 2017

Tiny Tomato

One of the tomatoes on Himself's indoor tomato plant has started to ripen! The tomato is about the size of my thumbnail. Unless the other tomatoes begin to ripen, we'll either have to cut the tomato in quarters so we each get a taste or hold a lottery to see who gets the tomato in his or her salad.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

During Himself's Spring break, we decided to go to the movies to see Hidden Figures, the movie about the African-American women mathematicians during the early years of  NASA. The movie was playing at a theater north of the city and waiting for the electrical inspector to bless the wiring for the solar panels, meant we wouldn't make the show time. Our fall back movie was Kong: Skull Island

As a kid, I loved the 1933 King Kong and the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen. I don't remember seeing the movie on the big screen just on our old, black and white, RCA television.  Same goes for the 1949 classic Mighty Joe Young. To me, these are the real Beauty and the Beast stories, and I was mesmerized by the stop-motion.

I rated Skull Island meh. There was no story. Well, a thinly veiled attempt when Kong rescues the female photographer, and she pats Kong on the nose. Most of the movie is taken up with CGI special effects of Kong and stuff being blown up. Entertaining as that might be, the pyrotechnics went on ad nauseam.

I also thought Kong walked too upright until I saw a YouTube clip of Ambam, a silverback gorilla walking upright. Art imitates life, I suppose.

I made Himself wait until the end of the credit roll because I had a feeling there would be an Easter egg. Sure enough, seems that movies nowadays have to be made in multiples. It looks like remakes of the Japanese monster films like Godzilla (though that's been remade a ton of times), Mothra, Rodan. and maybe some others I can't remember won't be far behind.

So, a good way to kill an afternoon, but we probably should have saved the money and waited for the movie to hit Netflix.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

good morning sunshine clipart

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Haven't seen the cardinals for a few weeks. The male cardinal showed up at the feeder on 3/17. Happy Birthday, Dad! I think he was checking to see how his birthday party plans were coming along. We would have had a family party for Dad on Sunday.

2. Himself introduced me to another Marvel series on Netflix he thought I would like Iron Fist. I need to find some time to binge watch.

3. Himself and I went to out to breakfast. I love breakfast especially if someone else makes it for me. We went to Friendly's, a local chain ice cream/sandwich shop. They offer 50% off the entire breakfast check for weekday breakfast. Can't beat that deal.

4.  Had a great day when A. came out to visit.

5.  A student told me she enjoyed the format of my class. (I almost told her don't tell me, tell my boss :-D)  She liked how each hour had a specific task/concept to be accomplished.

How was your week?

Thursday, March 23, 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:

Cousin Louie well after both his parents deceased got my brother, Bobby to go see where he lived. And while they were there Louie got sick and was hospitalized. So a Sunday my brother went to a restaurant in town and probably the only one and made an order and the owner said to him you are new around here as I haven't seen you before this time. Bob explained he was with his cousin who got sick, etc. The owner told him that Uncle Louie and the family were wonderful people etc. and very well thought of and missed.

Uncle Vincent had talked him [ed: Louie, Sr] to move back to the Boston area where he would be close to his family on his retirement. He did and regretted this. He complained that he wasn't being visited by his family.

We blamed Uncle Vincent. We all had lives of our own and it was had to add visits.

Your mother was for visiting her parents every Sunday and holidays. It was a time when we also were in the process of doing things to improve our home.

Also, Uncle Vincent, while he meant well stuck his nose where it didn't belong.

Uncle Louie had set down roots in the town he lived in. He was loved and respected. He made a lot of friends and could go to the outskirts to visit with farmer friends and visit him.

Cousin Louie went to B,U. [ed: Boston University] and lived in Boston when at school. Uncle sent him $50.00 a week besides paying his tuition. He also studied to become a lawyer. Uncle Vincent had him come to the office for training. He was doing ok until Uncle assigned him to try a case at the Boston District Court. This caused him some problems with his stomach. He got nervous and told Uncle who turned the case over to me. and we both went to the court and have Cousin Louie sit in on the case. This was not for him and he went looking for a job and found one with a bank in the trust department.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

T Stands for Art Challenge - Day 5

My calligraphy teacher, mentor, and friend, Callinana, invited me to participate in the Five Day Art Challenge meme on Facebook.

This piece comes from my 2011 art journal. It is my favorite journal page even though it was done at a very difficult time in my life. There are times when you have to go through the motions, even though you know what the outcome will be. From Harry Chapin's song Dance Band on the Titanic: "I'm in the dance band on the Titanic. Sing Nearer My God to Thee. The iceberg's off the starboard bow. Won't you dance with me?"

If you're not familiar with Harry Chapin or his music, you can have a listen.

Acrylics with glazes, Zig Painty, Dr. Ph. Martin's Spectralite Silver and whatever pen hit my hand first. A Gillotte 1068A, I think.

Today is the last day of the art challenge. I'm supposed to challenge other people by name to play along. Not everyone likes the memes, but if you're looking for a blog idea, you'll have 5 days of blogging done toot sweet. You can always post to Facebook, too.

And today is also Tea day. While I could show you the mug of cold tea sitting near me as I blog, that would be boring. Instead, a photo of these grande dames I found in my parents' attic when I had to clean our their house and get it ready for sale. There must have been at least one silver tea service on the Titanic.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are 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, March 20, 2017

Art Challenge - Day 4

My calligraphy teacher, mentor, and friend, Callinana, invited me to participate in the Five Day Art Challenge meme on Facebook.

Another piece from the Way Back machine from 1995 or '96. When The Eldest was born, I designed a guardian angel prayer for her room using a cross-stitched angel pattern I found.  I thought I would do the piece in calligraphy for The Young One's room.

This piece is one of the very first pieces I did as a fledgling. It's one of the few pieces I did as a beginner that doesn't make me cringe when I look at it. I was proud of this piece and still am. I can see the progress I have made on my calligraphic journey. Do you look back with pride at pieces you did when you were first starting out on your art journey?

And please pop over to my friend, A's new blog, Artful Journey, and welcome her to the blogosphere.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Art Challenge - Day 3

My calligraphy teacher, mentor, and friend, Callinana, invited me to participate in the Five Day Art Challenge meme on Facebook.

You've heard of NanoWriMo? National November Write a Novel in a Month? This piece from November 2012 is from NanoJouMo, National Journal Page in a Month.

I heard we're supposed to get some more snow this weekend. Since I'm sick of the white stuff, thought this would be an appropriate choice. So far, the weather dudes are saying this storm will go further south of us and we won't get any snow. I hope they're right.

Mixed media collage. I did a similar page last year (2011) for a mixed media class recycling your own artwork. I even used the paper towels I used to blot soupy spots on the previous journal pages.  I'm happier with this incarnation.

"Dear God, If it must snow, can it snow chocolate instead?"

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Art Challenge - Day 2

My calligraphy teacher, mentor, and friend, Callinana, invited me to participate in the Five Day Art Challenge meme on Facebook. Yesterday, was Day 1.

 I thought I'd flourish two birds with one pen so to speak since I cross-post my blog to Facebook. Why waste an opportunity for blog posts? (-;

This piece was done in July 2011 as the title page for a notebook where I scribbled quotes for potential calligraphic fodder.

One of my favorite quotes, supposedly attributed to Michelangelo, Ancora imparo, "I'm still learning." Apropos on many levels. Skills, life lessons.

Acrylic, Ziller Winter White ink, whatever pen point I grabbed first (either Nikko G or Gillotte 1068A)

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. So glad Friday's snow was just a nuisance and didn't prevent me from running errands

2. A sent me this funny St. Patrick's Day card because I'm honorary Irish, love cats, and bad puns,

3. The storm wasn't as bad as predicted. Everyone was safe at home, and we enjoyed Pi Day

4. Went to the town hall to pay a late excise tax bill. Town clerk didn't charge me interest or a penalty fee.

5. An Amazon order was delivered on Sunday!

And today would have been my dad's 98th birthday. Because his birthday was on St. Patrick's Day, Dad considered himself more Irish than the Irish. Buon Compleanno, Padrone!

How was your week?

Thursday, March 16, 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:

My mother had two sisters and two brothers, and a sister in Italy.

Zia [ed: aunt] Lucia was the oldest, Zia Filomena was the youngest. Both women were lookers. Zia Philomena was on the husky side and lived a few doors down from us. When she came to America she lived with my mother. Her complexion was peaches and cream. She stayed with us until she married.

Zia Lucia was tall and rather beautiful. Although the oldest, when asked who was the oldest of the women, she would say Fanne [ed: Dad's mother] or Filomena. She had two sons and five daughters.

Carmen was the oldest of the two brothers. Nedio or Ned was the younger of the two. [ed: I have another brother: Earnest found on the 1930 census]

There was Bette and Phyllis the oldest and Mary. The others [ed: names] escape me [ed: Louise, Helen, Mary, Dorothy, and Elizabeth]

Of the two brothers [ed: Dad's maternal uncles] Uncle Vincent was the elder of the two. Uncle Louie, the younger. [ed: According to the records I have found, Uncle Louie was the elder born in 1882 and Uncle Vincent was the younger, born in 1894] Both were barbers and Uncle Vincent was the ambitious one. He decided to become a lawyer and built a nice business. He made a reputation for himself. He also played the violin and taught students.And at some point he became the owner of a genuine Stradivarius violin which cost him $10,000 at the time. It came with expert acknowledgment and papers. He also had a nice singing voice and went to the Conservatory [ed: Boston Conservatory] for lessons. He went for the full course and was an alumni and later became its president.

Uncle Louie was a wonderful man. The type that everyone would like. I remember when he lived in Boston that he would come to visit and he would bring his tools and give me and my brother, Mario, haircuts.

He married but his wife did not seem to fit in the family. She was somewhat aloof and they had two children. Cousin Louie and a brother who would need care all his life as he had physical and mental disabilities. And the mother was blamed for this.

Uncle Louie moved to a small town in New Jersey. It was surrounded by farms. He opened a barber shop and did well even during The Depression. He also developed a custom. The big day in this town was Saturday and since it was surrounded by farms, the farmer came to town on Saturdays to buy and stock up on things they needed.

Uncle Louie would invite the last customer whose hair he cut and his family to have dinner with his [ed: Uncle Louie's] family.

He also had a nice voice. And from a story my cousin Louie told me, it must have been a beautiful voice.

On a Fourth of July evening, he [ed: Uncle Louie] had a cookout with his friends. He borrowed a portable amplifier from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The party broke up about midnight. Uncle was feeling good and also tired. Forgot that the amplifier was still on, he began singing Italian songs and arias. He continued to do so until two or three in the morning.

Later it turned out that he kept the town people awake until he stopped. Yet no one called the house and told him to shut up or send the police to tell him to call it quits.

On the next business day, many townspeople went to the barber shop to thank him for the concert he gave them. While he was being complimented, on the one hand, he was apologizing and embarrassed on the other.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

T Stands For Pi Day

Today is one of the Geek holidays we look forward to each year. Pi Day, which celebrates Π, 3.14159...the number that is the relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle. If that's not enough geekiness for you, today is also Albert Einstein's 138 th. birthday. Alles Gute zum Geburstag, Herr Professor!

At my house, Pi Day is usually celebrated by eating pies.Usually, chicken pot pie for dinner and a pie for dessert. The Eldest wanted to make a Pluot Galette she had seen on a cooking show. Except Pi Day coincides with a blizzard expected to whack the region with mass quantities of snow. The galette a little too time intensive as the focus must be on storm prep and all cooking or baking done the day before the storm. So another time for the galette.

Himself requested an apple pie. Granny Smith apples waiting to be peeled, cored, and sliced. Store-bought crust will be a huge time saver. I never emptied the buckets of water for toilet flushing from the first big storm back at the beginning of the Winter so all I had to do was fill the pitchers with drinking water. I was cooking a pot roast in the crockpot for dinner on Monday, but the electricians for the solar panels showed up to do some work and had to shut the electricity off for 3 or so hours. Himself suggested we send out for sandwiches and I cooked the pot roast for Pi Day dinner.

Since everyone will be home during the storm, the plan is to have the main meal at noon. I'll just reheat the pot roast and fixings as long as the electricity doesn't go out. Otherwise, it will be cold pot roast. Fingers crossed we don't lose electricity.

But back to Pi Day prep. Apples have been prepared, tossed with sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and put into the bottom crust.

While waiting for the oven to heat, the top crust was put on, edges sealed and fluted. An egg wash was brushed on to give the pie a nice golden sheen and some sugar was sprinkled on for extra yummies. For fun, a Π symbol was cut into the top crust to vent steam. The pie shield will prevent the crust from browning too quickly. Thanks, Ma!

While we wait for the pie to cool

I'll set out some cups and we can use the beautiful Celtic knot coasters my friend, Red, made for me as it's almost St. Patrick's Day, too.

You can have your choice of tea. English Breakfast, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon, Earl Grey, English Teatime, good ol' Tetley,  Vanilla Chai, White Christmas, Holiday Chai, decaf Tetley, Honey Vanilla Chamomile, or  Lemon Ginger, 

For those who drink coffee, I make horrible coffee. I wouldn't know as I don't drink coffee, but The Brother has assured me, I make wretched coffee. He usually stops at the Dunkin' Donuts on the way to the house to buy his coffee. If you don't want to stop at Dunkin's (we also recently got a Starbuck's), The Eldest has a Keurig brewer. Your choice for coffee is French Vanilla or a classic Donut Blend (I'm assuming it's supposed to be like the coffee you'd get at Dunkin' Donuts)

Before we lose electricity, let's see if the pie is ready, shall we?

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, March 13, 2017

Kung Fu

When we hear the term Kung Fu, we think of martial arts. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li with fists and feet flying. Did you know Kung Fu isn't limited to martial arts? The definition of Kung Fu means great effort of time and energy. That means any learning or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete.

We practice Kung Fu when we put our whole heart and soul, body and mind into our art, craft, profession, or our daily lives. Done with pride. Lofty or mundane. Done with discipline until things become second nature aspiring to perfection. Always learning. Always reaching.

Do you practice Kung Fu?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

100 Days Left

to the first day of Summer. Eight days left until the first day of Spring and the weather dudes are predicting mass quantities of snow for my area. What else is new? How's the weather where you are?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Class Notes

Today is homework day. A few doodles from the notes and instructions I took in class. Sometimes the doodles help to remember the finer points or bits of instructions.

In order to make good letter forms, we must train our hand, eye, and mind to work together. Making letters with a pencil (aka Pencil Skeletons) is a good way to practice the shape and proportions of the letter. The skeleton is supposed to be juggling a hand, eye, and a brain.

From other people who have taken a class with Reggie, I heard the phrase, "You're not old enough." when a question is asked before Reggie has gotten to that point in the lesson. I thought it was just a myth, but he really says it.

Don't use hot water to rinse or wash your paint brushes. And, the eye is the arbiter of what is good.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Another week and five good things that happened.

1. Thanks to GPS found my way to the workshop without getting lost.

2. Reggie weekend. Just wow.

3. Andy Fish gave my blog a shout out. Made my day

4. Himself gave me a just because present. A crazy cat lady tee shirt. Just in time for St. Catty's Day.  Found in all places, the men's' department at Walmart. Really?

5. Good to have colleagues to share a good whine with a side helping of cheeze!

How was your week?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

X-stitch family tree
DMC floss, pearl beads, on linen
CJ Kennedy 1993
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:

My mother was born in a little town named Grotta di Minardi [ed: Grottaminarda], Italy. My grandfather was named Euplio and was not born at this town. He came from also within the area of Naples. Siena. He was also a civil servant [ed: postmaster] and was assigned to the Grottamminarda area.

Here he met a woman and fell in love with her, married her, and she became my grandmother. As I stated previously, neither o my parents talked about their parents when we were around.

Also as we grew into school years, the community was at odd with each other. Like all [ed: Italian] immigrants they wanted us to be able to speak Italian and also give us a part of their culture, and a part of the community was the opposite. Speak English. They are Americans [ed: talking about the children of Italian immigrants born in this country] They will be taught English in school. And that is how I became bilingual.

At one time, I not only spoke Italian. I could read it and write in Italian and in junior high, I took it as one of my elective courses.

However, at this stage of life, I have forgotten a lot of the Italian language.

While I never learned my grandmother's name I did of my grandfather. [ed: His maternal grandmother's name was Gaetana Maccarone. I think Dad just forgot because according to Ma, his parents wanted Ma to name me Gaetanelle. I was able to verify my great-grandparent's names when I embroidered a family tree for my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. I sent for my grandparents' marriage licenses which had their parents' names on it.]

When I got older, I did get to see a picture of him at my mother's uncle, Zio Francisco. He appeared to be short, well-dressed with a vest pocket watch and chain. And nice and rotund.

He did come to America. Opened a restaurant. His paisan [ed: friends] attended on a regular basis and in keeping with customs did not pay for the meals. Eventually, closed the business and returned home to Italy. I learned more about him later in life.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

T Stands for 26 Seeds

Another Tuesday, another T Stands For. No doubt you will all get really sick of me talking about Reggie Ezell's year long calligraphy class, 26 Seeds. This is a nuts and bolts back to basics class. Reggie taught this class to Masscribes, the Massachusetts, and Rhode Island calligraphy guild back in 1997. I wasn't ready at that time for a class like this. I waited and hoped he would come back. I'm so fortunate to be able to study with him as after this class, he will be retiring from teaching 26 Seeds.

The class is held at the Norwood Sportsmans Club in Norwood, Massachusetts. There are 22 students in the class from 5 different states. Most of the photos were taken before class, during breaks, or after class while cleaning up. There was just so much information that I'd miss a lot taking pictures. Not to mention I was in Reggie's line of sight so it felt like doing something wrong.

Setting up. Blue water bottle filled from home. I'm spoiled as our well has very pure water, and I wasn't sure if Norwood treated their water with chlorine. The smell of chlorine makes me nauseous and dizzy.  A jug of distilled water for mixing gouache (opaque watercolor, pronounced gwash) with more than enough to share. Ott light, stack of handouts and my traveling tea mug.

I found this metal travel mug at Walmart. I really like it because it's small and holds maybe 10 ounces of liquid instead of the typical quart that people seem to like to carry. The mug is insulated and will keep a beverage hot for 4 hours or cold for 6. It has a lid that snaps securely shut. There's a reason my mother didn't name me Grace. I crocheted a kitty cat mug cozy so I wouldn't burn my hand. I also had a plastic beverage container that could be put in the microwave to heat water. It has been a long time since I've taken a workshop with the guild so wasn't sure what the set up for tea would be. Fortunately, the workshop coordinator is a tea drinker and there was an electric kettle. The water was wicked hot from the kettle, and I burned my tongue.

The first exercise was starting from the very beginning with Roman capitals. These are the letters our Western language writing is derived from. Just like in first grade, we used a (mechanical) pencil to lightly render one-inch, tall letters on the grid pad.

Calligraphy isn't like the handwriting we do or learned to do. It's really about drawing the characters. The letters all have specific proportions and various lines have more or less weight. Just like in figure drawing, you need to understand anatomy and physiology to draw a human form. In calligraphy, the skeleton shapes help us to train our hand, eyes, and brain to render the letters. Learning is repetition and repetition builds muscle memory and experience. Think of learning a muscial instrument. In order to play well, one must practice endless hours of scales and drills.

Reggie deer instructs the class on the materials needed for the next lesson. Take out a ruler, a blue pencil or blue lead for the mechanical pencil, a pencil sharpener or lead pointer, and page 8 from the handout.

This exercise involved choosing either the word, calligraphy or the word, languidly. Page 8 was the alphabet printed in the font or typeface, Palatino, which was designed by calligrapher, Hermann Zapf. We drew a non-repro blue pencil line under the letters and then carefully cut them out with an Exacto knife. I chose the word, languidly.

Back in the olden days before computers, all text for newspapers, magazines, and flyers was typed and then words were cut up and positioned onto a form. Words would be moved around to get the best layout and design. Old school. You need to understand the past to have an appreciation for the modern.

We placed our letters on a waxed grid. We could reposition letters as needed. The idea is to have the same volume of space between letters. Done not by measuring with a ruler, but by eye.

One of the homework assignments will be to photocopy this word onto plain paper and then onto an interesting paper (scrapbook paper, a painted background, calendar page) some colored paper which will visually interpret the word. The pale blue lines of the grid and the blue lead pencil lines will not copy onto the paper.

A little disconcerting having all eyes on you.

Table arrangements were two table pushed together to accommodate four students. It was particularly difficult for the students who had to sit with their backs towards Reggie. They had to crane their necks to see him demo on the overhead projector. Sunday after class with the room cleared out of bags and materials, we spent some time trying to arrange 11 tables so everyone could sit comfortably facing front. The room will be set up in the new arrangement next month.

We were told to bring a power strip or extension cord and an Ott light. I'm glad I bought a power strip with an 8 foot cord. The outlets were high up on the wall. I had to stand on a chair to reach the outlet. Which reminds me. Note to self, get an adapter. I had to borrow an adapter. The power strip had a ground plug and the outlets were old-fashioned two prong outlets.

As I said there was a lot going on so not much time to take interesting pictures of what I was working on.  Except I did get a photo of the jackalope at the back of the room.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are 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.