Saturday, April 29, 2017

Baby, The Rain Must Fall

and then you get to measure it in a cool rain gauge. We had quite a bit of rain this week. Enough to push us out of the drought. Or at least alleviate the drought somewhat.

What's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Saturday after Reggie's class was a social hour. We chipped in and the coordinator sent out for Middle Eastern food. First time I ever had Middle Eastern food, it was quite good.

2. I didn't miss the turn on the way to class.

3. At Staples, I found the inks I needed for the printer so didn't need to order them online

4. My debit card with security chip wouldn't work at a couple of places. At CVS, the clerk showed me a trick to get it to work. You rub the front of the chip. She said apparently, it gets dirty. Don't know if that was true, but it worked.

5. Traffic wasn't so bad on the commute home. Surprisingly, people were polite when trying to merge onto the expressway. I must have been an alternate universe

How was your week?

Thursday, April 27, 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:

At one of my birthday's, I was sitting on the kitchen window sill rocking back and forth and went back a little too far and fell on the piazza floor and split my head a bit enough to go to the local first aid hospital in East Boston. It would not be the last time.

To backtrack, when I returned to school in the Fall of 1924, I was put in the first grade. There was no problem this time. I think it was due to my teacher. She was beautiful and I took to her. And talked my mother or pestered her to invite her [ed: the teacher] for dinner and she finally did ask the teacher, Miss Mulledy, to lunch.

At the time, there was my brother, Mario, and me. And we had one room and shared the bed and still had the dining room. And our lunch was pasta and trimmings eaten in there. [ed: the dining room]

I was in my glory and proud to take my teacher home and back to school. At the end of the school year, I was moved to the second grade. In the Fall, I went into the second grade. For some reason, I did not like my teacher. She appeared strict. But we got along after a fashion. I don't recall anything special about her or myself. Once at recess, she gave the students rides on the swings and I got one. But sometime after school started, my mother began to worry about me. Because my complexion was changing color. And my father agreed. The following day the doctor was sent for. He lived in East Boston, not too far over the bridge and railroad tracks on Chelsea St. I think. Anyway, he was a relation of my father. Just how close, I never found out, but he was our doctor. His diagnosis was yellow jaundice and prescribed a prescription that was rather bitter. I was grounded for most of that year. And although I went back, I had not been in school long enough to do the necessary work to move into the third grade.It took some time for me to recover and the sickness was transferable so I had to have a clean bill of health.

Things continued in this manner for me

My birthdays were celebrated, the little music trio or quartet came, my mother's uncle came to make the Italian pastry. I was treated as a prince.

I became aware of my brothers and sisters and did not pay much attention to them. Until much later. ,Mario was next [ed: 18 mos. younger]. Olga [ed: 3 years younger]. Emma [ed: 5 years younger], Bobby [ed: 10 yrs. younger]. I remember Bobby's birth and something was wrong and I was sent to the pharmacy over the bridge on Chelsea St. (corner) I got what was needed and returned. When he was born, we were in The Depression.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

T Stands for Tools

I have a picture of some of the tools I use for calligraphy on my header. My favorite mechanical pencil and some pens are resting on a pen dragon.

The Eldest had fashioned my kneaded eraser into Ink. Since she was little, she liked making all sorts of creatures out of the kneaded eraser. I keep the eraser in a plastic Easter egg to keep it clean. I've always enjoyed opening the egg and finding a surprise. She has created a mermaid, dolphin, turtle, cat, whale just some of the creatures I remember. Even now that she's grown up, I still occasionally find a surprise in the egg.

A mechanical pencil isn't good without a lead pointer and a bottle of ink for the pen assortment. Decorated letters pop with gouache, an opaque watercolor. For extra special creations, the decorated letters are gilded with real gold.

The teacup isn't used to hold tea, but a special paint made from gold leaf called shell gold. Two years ago, I traveled to Ender's Island, Mystic Connecticut to attend a week of illuminating and gilding at St. Michael's Institute of Sacred Art. (I loved it so much I attended an advanced class, too.) The week-long classes were taught by Valerie Weilmuenster. Besides learning how to gild, Valerie also taught us how to make shell gold.

Oversimplified, you need a few drops of gum arabic (sap from the acacia tree) in a small, smooth, bowl or cup. You dip your finger in the sticky liquid and lift a sheet of gold leaf (either loose leaf or patent gold) and with your finger "grind" the gold until it is a few small crumbs of gold are left and most of the gold stains the cup. This process is repeated 6 or 7 times. Then the side of the cup and your finger are washed down with distilled water. It is a very slow almost tedious process but it's also meditative.

After several hours, the sediment settles. The water is poured off and you're left with gold that can be used as paint.

I like using the teacup to hold my shell gold instead of the blue bowl I brought to the class. The teacup was sitting unused in the curio cabinet. The teacup was a souvenir from a trip to the United Nations a lifetime ago. It's a pretty china cup but doesn't hold a substantial amount of tea. When the shell gold is not in use, the saucer becomes a lid to keep out dust and debris.

The gold paint got its name of shell gold because, in the middle ages, the gold paint was kept in a seashell. The gold paint dries to a matte finish unlike gilding with gold leaf which is gleaming and shiny. Used together, gilding and shell gold yields a beautiful contrast.

 The C was gilded with gold leaf. The J was painted with the shell gold. The contrast shows up well in the black and white image.

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, April 24, 2017

My Precious

So much fun in Sunday's Reggie class. We played with gold. 23 karat gold. Reggie had a sheet of symbols, and we got to choose a simple symbol to gild. This was mainly due to time constraints as we started gilding mid-afternoon.

We traced our design onto Arches 90 lb. watercolor paper using Saral transfer paper. Reggie gave us Instacoll (gilding base) and patent gold (4 inch sq of gold leaf).

If you're new to gilding, it's scary and exciting. Mainly, because you don't know what to expect and not sure how to work with the materials. Intstacoll is an easier base for beginner's to work with compared to traditional gesso. There's some wait time for the base to dry and a small window of opportunity to be able to lay the gold, but the results were impressive. After all the steps were complete, (transferring the design, applying the Instacoll with a brush, sharpening edges with a fine nib, waiting for the Instacoll to dry, laying the gold, adding a second layer of gold, removing excess gold with silk, and burnishing the gold) we passed our papers around and oohed and aahed over everyone's efforts. Even though some of us chose the same design, they were all a little different.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Reggimented Sunday

Another assignment was to "make an alphabet of 'Plain Romans', broad-edge, 1 inch tall, black gouache on grid, touch-up, paste-up reproduce to make an exemplar. Use a Speedball C-2 nib"

This assignment caused me much anxiety, and I ended up procrastinating until I ran out of time. I didn't quite get to the touch-up, and paste-up part. And of course, CJ didn't read the assignment thoroughly so instead of black gouache, I used blue.

I wrote out a few of each letter on a grid pad. Then I chose the best letter, cut it out and arranged it on a waxed grid.

Instead of arranging the letters in A to Z order, I arranged them in the sequence Reggie suggested for practice.  I pulled the C from the G line and the J from the U line to sign my work.

From Reggie: "Always start at a point where you can give yourself the opportunity for the most success and encouragement. Do not start with the hardest first and defeat yourself. We all need as many confidence builders as possible when attempting anything new. Roman Capitals are the most humbling letterforms you will every try. Be patient and give yourself opportunities to succeed."

I should have read that statement a dozen times instead of giving in to the negative whispers of the inner critic. I should have just done the work instead of worrying what my Roman looked like. I shouldn't have been comparing my fledgling efforts to others in the class, especially classmates who have taken this course before.

I was pleased and relieved when I finished the assignment. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but some of the letters aren't half bad. After all, if I could do these letterforms in my sleep, what would be the point of taking this class?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reggimented Saturday

Studiomate, Ben Dover, tries his hand at the assignment
This weekend is another Reggie weekend so I will be up to my elbows in gouache, ink, and gold.

One of our homework assignments had to do with spacing. Spacing can effect mood. During class, we cut out letters from Hermann Zapf's typeface, Palatino. We had our choice of two words. Calligraphy or Languidly. I chose languidly. Our assignment was to create an image with tight spacing and then with wide spacing on an interesting background.

I chose languidly because I have a picture of Ink taking a nap on our old chair in the sunroom. It was hot that day, and Ink had just melted into the cushion. I thought this was the perfect definition of languidly and used tight spacing.

For wide spacing, I thought languidly on an ocean background would work. While trolling images, I found one of a string of seagulls dipping and swooping over the ocean. Through the magic of Paint Shop Pro, I replaced the seagulls with the letters to spell languidly. I tipped the L and added a dot to represent a person just floating languidly in the ocean. Using the clone tool, I added water splashing over the letters and a drop shadow so the letters would look like they were in the picture and not just on the surface. The shadow effect looked better in my head, but the gist is there.

I liked this assignment. It was one of the few assignments I approached with confidence. I enjoy playing around with images in Paint Shop Pro so I could have some fun and enjoyment with this assignment.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. The sunroom is open for the season!

2. Breakfast in the sunroom. Lots of activity at the feeder. Lots of birds, the male cardinal, and Timex sat in the hatch and stuffed his face. A robin had a splash in the bird bath and a squirrel took a drink too.

3. Watched the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who.

4. Made Easter egg bread and the traditional roast leg of lamb. Was such a warm day we had dinner in the sunroom

5. Met the New Girl, and her Little Girl. Brought a plant and a crochet panda, for the Little Girl. Asked a favor, if the lawn service could park his equipment in her driveway when he came to mow my lawn like he used to when he mowed Prissy's lawn. No problem. New Girl showed me the inside of the house. Prissy wouldn't recognize it. The wood floors were refinished. The kitchen was remodeled. Beautiful! I told her there were happy memories in the house, and I hoped she would be happy there, too.

The Little Girl gave me some stickers, a picture, and some fairy dust (dirt and gravel from the driveway)

How was your week?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Throwback Thursdays - 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 father also took me with him on weekends when he went to visit his sister or his relations in the Boston area. He did not do this with my brothers or sisters.

At the time, they may have been too young and things would change as time moved on into the Depression. Those were halcyon days for me. On my birthdays, my mother's uncle Zio Francisco, who was blind, was brought by a member of his family, my cousin, to our home, early and came back in the afternoon to take him home. They came by streetcar [ed: can't make out the rest of the sentence]. He was an Italian pastry chef baker and he came to make pastry for my birthday. I cannot recall how many time he came. It was a number of times.

My mother would put the board on the table, set the flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and other things on the table and then she would help him up and he would be at the center of the table. She would take his hand and at his direction place it as he directed on the flour, sugar, eggs, etc. He would then start with what would be called the piece de resistance. The birthday cake. He would mix the ingredients he would need to make the different filling for the cake.

My mother would then put these on the stove, turn the gas on, and her uncle would then mix whatever was needed to make the filling for the different layers of the cake which would become the chocolate, the cream, etc.

While doing these things, he would have my mother stirring the chocolate cream etc. until it reached the right consistency. He would ask my mother if she felt that the right thickness had arrived. And if she said yes she helped him to the stove he would make his test. Had her set the filling aside to cool, check the sponge cake layers and continue with the Paragini, Cannoli, Biscotti.

The birthday cake was a 3 layer cake with different layers, lemon layer, chocolate layer, etc. It was the same size as the board. Paragini, cannoli, biscotti and other sweets some made to go with wine. When he was through, his nephew would come and take him home.They would not stay. The affair would start after our dinner. And at a certain hour, there would be some noise in the hallway followed by instruments playing. My father would open the door and in would march five men playing trumpet, violin, guitar, etc. Playing Happy Birthday followed by the guests. In retrospect, the guests were all adults none of my friends or playmates were present.

Now my birthday falls on St. Patrick's Day. And when I was old enough to read, I learned of the parade in South Boston and who marched. Being a child I thought it was being held for me. And wondered why I didn't attend. At one event I stated that the parade was for me and that's where I found out it was and like all kids who are not grown up, I objected and hought it was unfair I should have been asked to be the honoree. As time passed my thought were that the [ed: birthday] celebration was for my father, which I later associated with a statement he made when I was somewhere in my thirties or early forties.

[ed: The statement had to have been made when Dad was in his 30s. His father died in 1954 and Dad would have been 35 years old. March was a big birthday month for Dad's family. It would have made sense to have a big birthday bash to celebrate all the March birthdays: Zia Angelina, 3/12, Dad, 3/17, Dad's father, Achille, 3/22, Uncle Joe, 3/24, Uncle Vincent 3/29, and Auntie Filomena 3/31.

Dad mentions the fact that his father never took his other children with him on visiting rounds. Dad had told me the reason he was always with his father was as the first born, he was the heir apparent, If anything happened to his father, he would have been expected to leave school, get a job and support the family. Being with his father was an education in familial obligations. My Uncle Bob, Dad's youngest brother, used to joke even though the family was too poor to afford a crown, the siblings all knew who was the Crown Prince.]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

T Stands For Tiggy

My teacup when Ma and I had tea
I've known my friend, Tiggy, for some 20 odd years. We have never met in person. We met in an old IRC chatroom for calligraphers. Tiggy got her nickname from her love of hedgehogs and Beatrix Potter's hedgehog character, Mrs. Tiggywinkle.

At the time we met, my girlies were little. The Eldest had to do a social studies presentation and her country was Scotland. Tiggy sent all sorts of trinkets, tartan hair ribbons, pamphlets and helped with facts. Four years later, the Young One used Scotland in her presentation.

Recently, Tiggy has had some health issues and has been going through a rough patch. I wanted to send something to her to cheer her up. I found a crochet pattern for a hedgehog applique. The instructions stated the larger the crochet hook, the larger the applique. I used the largest hook I had, a size K. I thought the size would make some cute coasters. I sent a note to Tiggy I made four coasters. One for her, her husband, and her son when he visited. The fourth coaster was mine when I visit. (An item on my bucket list). Of course, I graciously gave her permission to use the fourth coaster when she has company that drops by for tea.

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, April 17, 2017

Humble Pie

There is a lot of homework in the year-long class. One of the homework assignments involved two parts. The first part was to mix gouache to paint a color wheel. Part two was to use one of the colors with 2 tints and 2 shades to letter the poem Do It Anyway attributed to Mother Teresa. We could also choose our own text as long as it was about the same length. We were to letter the poem in Basic Romans on a sheet of Arches 90 lb watercolor paper with a Speedball B2 nib. The letters were to be 1/2 inch in height with 1/8 inch interlinear space. The letters were to be packed tightly and the color gradation would enable the reader to read the text clearly.

I had great difficulty with this assignment. Mostly figuring out how to use the spoon-shaped B nib. I was also having a tough time getting the gouache the right consistency, like light cream, to flow through the pen.

In the olden days, I would have struggled to complete the assignment as instructed. I would have ended up unhappy and frustrated with my efforts. But with age comes the wisdom that a student should get some value out of homework. Not just to mimic what the instructor did in class.

What did I need to get out of this assignment? I really needed to figure out how to manipulate the B pen. Rather than bother with the gouache, I used a bottle of Winsor Newton Blue ink to letter The Beatitudes 

As Reggie said, Roman letters are very humbling. There is a precision to them and the shape and width of the letters adhere to strict rules.It's like going back to first grade. Very humble, indeed, but I'm also pleased with my first efforts, warts and all.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

View From The Zensical Garden

First garden kite of the season. It was supposed to go up to celebrate the Vernal Equinox, but cold, snow, and rain kept that from happening until now. "Here comes the sun" kite made from packaging material. Ziller Glossy Black ink, Sharpie marker, colored pencils.

The gewgaws have landed. 

The newest addition to the garden. Himself gave the dragon to me at Christmas. The dragon holds his pearl of wisdom which is a solar powered light.

For Christmas, I gave Himself a Jeffersonian rain gauge. 

Leftover yarn, ribbon, and Ink's hair scraped off my writing desk chair as nesting material offering for the birds. All corralled in a suet basket.

I reconstructed the stone towers. Either they were knocked over by some animals or the weather.

Rocky, the face I carved from marble is showing some wear from the weather.

The dragon's pearl illuminated at night. The pearl cycles through white, red, green, and blue. The pearl can be set for one colored light, but I like watching the pearl change colors.

How does your garden grow?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Recycle DVD Case To Do List

I had a lot of things to do and needed to write them down so I wouldn't forget. I usually keep a notebook by my workstation but wanted something more in my face. A small whiteboard would be perfect but that would mean running out to buy one. And the word for the year is frugal. What did I have around that could be used?

I thought of using a sheet protector but wanted a more rigid writing surface. I had a bunch of DVD cases taking up space. Perfect size about 5 x 7. A dry erase marker made a mark and could easily be wiped off. If the ink dried, a bit of Windex on a paper towel would erase the mark. Ta da!

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Lots of rain and no water in the basement. Knock wood!

2. Beautiful weather gave me Spring fever so I did some cleaning in the Zensical garden.

3. Started cleaning the sunroom and did some homework out there.

4. Took a trip to Target to buy all important jelly beans and then went out to dinner with Himself

5. 7:30 PM and the sun was just starting to set

How was your week?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

L - R: Dad's youngest sister, his parents, youngest brother
As to clothing, it was a period of 4 seasons. Clothing for Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.

I remember that during the Summer season or the weather was warm, every Saturday my father and his friends would play card games. While my mother would be cutting Italian bread and Italian cold cuts all afternoon. My father at that time before the Depression was doing well and he shared.

We did not lack for thing within reason, plenty of food and company, clothes and entertainment.

At 4 years old, in 1923, I became eligible for kindergarten. But, it was not to my liking the school, Daniel Webster was just down to the end of the street and I would put up a fuss as I was taken by my mother and was left there. And I cried day after day. I was uncooperative until I was allowed to go home. Amy my mother would be upset. Both parents didn't know what to do about this. They tried. I enjoyed being with my mother and I liked to hear her sing as she did her housework or have neighbors next building open their windows and ask her to sing. She had a beautiful voice. And as young as I was I would just sit on the floor and hear her. An onlooker might conclude that I was entranced. All I know I felt nice hearing her. She would sing Italian love songs and songs of Summer and other seasons. Or she would be asked to sing a particular song by our neighbors. My kindergarten days were ended by the teacher who finally talked to my mother, that it would be best if I was withdrawn her opinion was that while I was eligible to attend, I was not ready for school. And she assured my mother that I needed a little more time to grow up. That next year I would be ok as I entered the first grade.

I continued to stay with my mother. At times I would play with a toy cart and run with it from one of the piazza [ed: porch] and slam it into the rear door to the yard which got to my mother as she would want me to stop. She put up with this antic.

As the days passed by in 1923 on certain occasions, she would have me to go meet my father at the street car stop of Boston elevator [ed: now Maverick Square Station on the MBTA Blue Line] Sh also would have me go to meet my father with an umbrella if it was raining and with instructions to wait in the doorway of the bakery.

When I saw my father step down he would spot me and I could see the happiness in him as he saw me. And we walked down to Frankfort St. to our home. I would be sent to meet my father on Spring, Summer and Fall and Winter if not too cold, snowing, etc. He would talk with me but he always kept his eyes straight ahead as we walked side by side.

At some point, I noticed that on a lot of times windows would go up and women would be going through the process of greeting each other. At the same time, as young as I was I noted they weren't looking at each other but at my father. He seemed aware of this. And it took me some time in the future to figure out why. He wasn't a bad looking guy. He was one inch short of 6 feet. He had a scar on his cheek where he got too close to the ironing board when his sister, Angelina was ironing and hit him with the iron. Anyway, he had the appearance of being a German officer who got the scar on purpose to show that he got it in a duel. Which was well known by the people who were European. Which caused the women to drool over men who were handsome.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

T Stands For - Walking with Red

Last year, my friend, Red, and I walked a couple of times a week from Spring until Fall. At least we tried to if schedules and weather permitted. This week's weather was predicted to be perfect so I called Red and asked if we could get back to walking.

We walk around Red's development as there is no traffic, Usually, everyone has gone to work when we walk our route. From the development, we walk down Birch St., a main road. Sometimes, a little tricky to navigate as there are no sidewalks and sometimes cars speed down the road even though the speed is a 30 mph zone. We walk to Whitins Reservoir. Check out the dam spilling water into the Mumford River. No matter how hot the weather is, there's always a cool breeze at the reservoir. Back the way we came back through the development to Red's house. The walk at a leisurely pace takes about an hour. According to Red's gadget we walked 7,000 steps or about 3.5 miles.

Some things we saw along our walk. Clockwise from top left: My shoe, cap, and water bottle before I left my house. Yellow and purple crocus at Red's house. The rock that was split and a birch tree growing out of it. I think the rock looks like a whale. A patch of dirty snow in the woods along Birch St. The halfway point, a view of Whitins Reservoir from the top of the hill. Because of the heavy rains, the water was running fast and furious in the Mumford River. Someone lost a pontoon. A view of the reservoir (middle) with some gorgeous homes. The no trespassing, no swimming, no boating, no breathing signs on our side of the reservoir. The picture of the little cove (which I forgot to edit)  where Red used to take her baby daughter (now almost 29 years old!) swimming. A bluejay feather. Another area where swimming was allowed. Swimming was banned because one year it was so blazing hot, people came from all over to swim and cool off. They blocked the road and people's driveways so spoiled a good thing. Signs of Spring, tulip, iris, daylily, vinca and back to Red's and looking at her perennial garden

Can you see the Slinky toy around the bird feeder pole? It's to keep the squirrels from climbing up and raiding the bird feeder. Red is so clever.

Red's Mister was busy over the weekend

After the walk, Red asked if I wanted a cup of tea. I told her I was dying for a cup. Godzilla was dying for a cup of tea, too.

She had lots of fancy tea choices, but I decided I just wanted a plain, ol' cuppa tea.

Ah, perfect. And one of Red's too pretty to use napkins. She loves lighthouses.

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, April 10, 2017

Going Solar

South side array
Summer 2016 we began researching going solar. Several solar companies had come through the area. Some had rent your roof options, leasing panels in a solor farm, or buying the system outright. Renting/leasing was the least expensive option, but buying the system offered tax advantages as well as savings on electricity. We decided to buy the sytem.

We signed a contract in September. We were assured that all construction would be completed before the end of the year as certain benefits would not be available in 2017.  And then we waited. What usually happens when a company comes into an area to offer something new, everyone wants on board. The salesmen happily sign up customers. The reality is these companies rarely have the amount of technicians able to do the installations. And that's what happened with us. We waited and waited and waited. September rolled into December. (We should have anticipated this as it happened when fiber optics for Internet, phone, and cable came to town, too. That install took nearly 9 hours over a course of 3 days.)

The worse part was trying to chase the company down for answers. When will this happen? Will we lose some of the incentives. And then in January, a call on Monday saying installation would happen on Wednesday. As if the homeowner could turn his schedule on a dime,  had nothing better to do, didn't have to take time off from work..

The installation did go very smoothly. The guys were in and out within a few hours, and we were the proud owners of a solar array. And then more waiting. Inspections had to happen. The town building inspector needed to add his thumbprint to paperwork as well as the electrical inspector. And then the electric company would have to come out and put a new meter on the house. And the snow flew and and flew and more waiting and chasing the company contact down.

By now it was late February, and we had a beautiful boondoggle on the roof not producing electricity. My thought was to call and tell the company to come and get the damn thing off the roof and put the roof back the way it was. Himself sent a letter to the company to that effect.

Another project manager contacted Himself and, we got to have a face to face meeting where we expressed our frustration and anger. Turned out the company had closed the office with the project manager we were dealing with. We were assured the company wasn't going under. And I told the new project manager their communications sucked.

We passed the building inspection, but failed the electrical inspection twice. Part of the problem was the electrical box is right near the rollers for the garage door. So as the garage door goes up and down, some of the protective wrappings on the main electrical to the house was being worn away by friction. The electrical inspector also didn't like the quick and dirty fix the company used. The company wanted us to cough up the money to have the electricians fix things. Our counter was the company should have noticed this was going to be a potential problem when they bid on the job. Not to mention the loss of time as in 6 months, and we had a system that was as useful as a teat on a bull. Yes, I said that to the project manager. 

West side array
In the end, the company stood by their product. They absorbed the cost of having the work at the electrical box fixed the way the electrical inspector wanted. They also refunded some money. The electrical inspector signed off on the project. The electric company showed up a few days later to change the meter on the house. Himself flipped the switch, and the system went live on 28. March 2017.

As our luck held, there was the April Fool's blizzard and then days of clouds and heavy rains. I always thought luck of the Irish meant good luck. The weather cleared. Today, the sky was an impossible blue with nary a cloud in the sky, and the solar array was busy producing electricity. Waiting in anticipation for the first electric bill to see how much we will save. I don't mind waiting for this. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks

Late blog post. Slept in. Went food shopping with Himself. Had a late lunch. The weather was gorgeous. Too nice to stay in. So I spent some time outside picking up sticks and debris from the Zensical Garden. Scrubbed the bird bath and filled it with clean water. I'm pretty sure the birds would be like Ink and would prefer dirty water, but I cleaned it anyway.

Spent some time looking for the shepherd's hook that holds the gazing globe. The globe was brought into the sunroom for the Winter. I thought the hook had been left outside, but it is gone. Must have blown away. Relocated the hook from the front which usually holds a plant. Figured Mother's Day is coming up and a new hook and plant would be an easy gift idea for Himself.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Mixing Well Covers

Part of the homework for 26 Seeds was to paint a color wheel. Reggie suggested going to the hardware store to have plexiglass cut for covers to keep the plastic palettes clean. Remember my word this year is frugal so I wanted to think what I had around that could serve the purpose.

I've heard of people using cleaned styrofoam from meat trays but didn't have any on hand. Looking around I found a bunch of old MRI films from when The Young One injured her shoulder at karate. I've used a couple of them to cover the work table while doing messy work. They were thin and would do the trick.

I traced the palette with a black marker, cut, and covered. An elastic band to hold the cover in place will be perfect.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Didn't have to worry about the black ice warning and The Eldest driving home from work late at night as she was at the anime convention in Boston.

2. The Eldest arrived home safe and sound on the train after her anime adventure in Boston over the weekend

3. The Young One hasn't been feeling well for 14 days. Trying not to worry while waiting for test results. Saw the male cardinal at the feeder. Dad stopping by to tell me everything will be alright.

4. The Young One ate a little bit of real food. A scrambled egg and toast. Plain spaghetti with butter and cheese, two small meatballs without gravy, and some ginger ale.

5. Test results for The Young One came back negative. Still don't know why she's feeling blah and still in pain.

How was your week?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

Other things that I remember was my mother in my early years was a happy woman. She would sing while dusting or cleaning, doing other chores.

I remember we used to have company. Uncle Joe, Uncle Alfred, Uncle Louie, Uncle Vincent, cousins, etc.

I remember one Christmas when Aunt Philomena and her husband, Uncle Mike, spent that Christmas with us.

Uncle Mike brought me a gift, a wind-up, toy car. I played and played with it that Christmas Eve until I over-wound it and that was the end of that.

I remember that my father made wine and my mother put up vinegar peppers. Which was a community custom.

This period [ed: 1920s] was a happy one. And on certain months attention was paid to Christmas, Easter, birthdays, holidays.

The men worked long hours. The women stayed home. As young ladies, they worked as secretaries, garment industry, chocolate or candy factories. Schools up to 14 years old and work. Not many attended high schools. The cities and states encouraged education. And it was not unusual to have many to sent to work at 14 years.

The days of the supermarkets was still off. One went to the local family run store for food, fruits, cold cuts and canned goods.

A lot of fruits, fish, and vegetables were purchased from vendors who would come with their horse and wagon or push cards and hollering of their wares to attract the attention of the women. It would be quite a bargaining event as they bargained to bring the price down. Usually, it did [ed: work] because one woman in the crowd would say forget it. Wait for so and so, he'll be along soon, he's at such a street and should be here in a short while. And he's selling at giving the price. Usually a penny or two less. The price would go down.

Fruits were bought by the dozen starting at ten cents a dozen and 15 cents for larger sizes. Canned goods were sold by the ounces at 16 ounces or tonic [ed: soda pop] bottles which came at 10 cents for the quart plus two cents to insure return of the bottles. All glass and the legend printed thereon "made from all natural products" Our food in those days tasted a lot better.

Just First National, and coffee and butter and local grocery stores, pushcarts and wagons.The men who earned their living in this manner awoke at 5 am to go to the distribution centers to buy their products for resale. Meat, veggies, fruits, etc. And some delivery.

In Winter it was rain and snow for those with pushcarts, would stop. The horse and wagon vendors would return to the barn, unhook the horse from the cart and hook up to the sled and back where they left off.

Not many vehicles. But lots of carts and wagons and it continued right after WWII when things began to change. Even pies and baked goodies were sold in this manner.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

T Stands for Water Containers

I had to be vigilant about emptying water cups and bowls after inking or painting. Ink liked to jump on the drafting table to take a swig or two of the dirty water. I was never sure why. He always had clean water in his bowl in the kitchen.

I don't know if he liked the "get down from there. You don't belong up there." attention if I was working at the computer station and heard lapping noises. Maybe it was any dirty water container instead of trotting upstairs if he wanted a drink. Or maybe forbidden water, when no one is around, just tastes better. I've also repurposed Ink's water and food bowls as über clean, sorta clean, and dirty water bowls while painting.

Sample for upcoming workshop at the Worcester Public Library
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, April 3, 2017

Fix It

Recently, I purchased some black cat desk items from Amazon, a smartphone stand, and an eyeglass holder. I was crushed and upset when the items arrived in pieces. Whoever was in charge of packing and shipping, shipped the items without packing material to guard against breakage. Not very bright. The tails on both cats were broken off. And worse than that, the front legs on the smartphone stand were broken off completely and shipped without feet!

Both of these items came from third party distributors. The smartphone stand had a notation that the item was not returnable. I didn't notice that at the time of purchase. Caveat emptor. Amazon was great about issuing a refund, and since the item could not be returned, I didn't have to bother sending it back.

The tails on both items had been broken off cleanly and were easily fixed with a bit of Gorilla glue. But what to do about the broken smartphone stand.? I didn't want to just toss it in the trash. I didn't think the polyresin it was made of could be recycled.

I thought of painting the stumps and gluing a bit of yarn in front as if the kitty was playing with a skein of yarn. I really liked the stretching kitty pose. Ink used to do that pose a lot.

I decided I'd try to make legs with a bit of Sculpey clay. Sculpey is a polymer clay which needs to be baked in order for the clay to harden. When baking, the clay gives off toxic fumes. I had an old toaster oven which was dedicated to baking the polymer clay, but the oven died long ago. I never bothered to replace it as I didn't really do much with polymer clay.

While in Michael's picking up the Sculpey, I wandered around to see if there was another type of clay I could use. One that didn't give off toxic fumes, could be air dried and didn't need to be painted.

In the kiddie aisle, I found a package of Magic Model by Crayola. It came in a rainbow of colors, could be reused or air dried. It even came in black. Perfect! So I fashioned some legs and molded them directly to the stumps. They seem to be holding without having to use glue. With some Tombow markers, I colored the white features on the face to resemble my Ink. So a happy ending to a shipping disaster.

The legs are still drying so not sure how long it will take for them to harden completely. I've since propped up the body so air can circulate completely around the front legs. I'll also have to take care to make sure the stand doesn't get knocked off the table as it won't survive a fall.