Friday, January 28, 2011

Bloomin' Paper Whites...

This morning, Travis woke me up when she stepped on my face to get onto the windowsill. 
Once awake, I was greeted by these petite pretties...

Travis promised she would wait until they are in full bloom before she knocks the pot off the table...

Pictures Printed on Canvas - A Way to Keep Fond Memories...

Long ago, Tam's dad was a soldier in a far away land. He was scared and homesick. He left a wife and two small children, to fight a war halfway across the world. Tam's Mum was alone at base housing, far away from her husband and family too. Mum took a snapshot of the kids and sent it to Dad.

While Dad was on leave in an unknown city, he took the snapshot to a man who painted photos onto canvas. When it was finished, he paid the man and had the canvas shipped home to his own mother. When it arrived, Gramma opened the package and wept. The painting showed a scene of a lone soldier, walking in the sunrise. Above his head, within the clouds, were the faces of his two cherished children.The original snapshot was lost, but the canvas painting remains. Tam has taken photographs of the painting in an effort to preserve it for many more years to come. Today, she learned about canvas printing.

Tam is going to go full circle and have 3 square canvas prints made. One for her, one for her Dad and one for her brother. The original painting is more than 40 years old and quite fragile. Tam still wants to display the painting, but is concerned that the light and air will further age it. She wants to send the pictures she took and have them printed on canvas, which will keep the original idea intact, yet create whole new paintings.

Tam's brother wants to take pictures of their Mum and Dad, him and Tam and the five grandchildren and have a 3 panel canvas made. This he would like to present to Gramma on Mother's day. Stories and memories are very important to this close-knit family and this is one way to keep them close, for a long time to come.

Skywatch 4, #29...Weekend Reflections....


Take a spin and check out more Skywatch Friday and Weekend Reflections...

Monday, January 24, 2011

In Which Penny Investigates...

Mum gave me some Narcissus papyraceus (paper whites) bulbs for Christmas. I brought them home and put them aside. I decided the other day that I was tired of winter. So I brought out the bulbs.

Penny was very interested in these bulbs...

I planted the bulbs and set them in the window. 
It seems the paper whites like the window.

10 days later...

I am well pleased. Thanks Mum...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Crowd Control at Convention Centers...

For a few years, I worked in the kitchen at a busy convention center in Boston. We had a couple cafeterias, some snack stands and a restaurant. During super busy shows, we added speed lines and some very portable stands as well. The decorating company laid out the booths and created aisles for the show with pipe and drape. Then the decorators used various methods of crowd control.

At the ticket booth, retractable belt stanchions were used to keep people queued up safely and to minimize the space for the queues themselves. Stanchions were also used at our cafeterias and snack stands to form queues to keep diners in a small area so they wouldn't block the vendors booths. Moving food and equipment around was difficult during these busy shows. We often tried to get in very early and move our stuff around before the show opened to the public.

At our restaurant, we used velvet rope to funnel guests into an area that wouldn't disrupt regular traffic flow. The entrance to the lounge was at the end of a short corridor with doors leading to meeting rooms and conference space. The velvet rope was placed along one side of the corridor and diners waited in the queue until the hostess was able to seat them.

In some instances, a show would include retail space as well as the convention itself. In these cases, barricades were used to keep the show area separate from the retail space. Very often, we had a speed line or a small gourmet stand within the retail space. The decorators always created a small opening in the barricade for us, so we could move back and forth between the kitchen and our stands without disrupting the  traffic flow. These entrances were often hidden behind pipe and drape, so they were not visible from the show floor.

I liked my work at the convention center even though it was quite challenging at times. It was hard to move huge carts through masses of people who may not be paying attention to what was happening around them. I learned quickly to use an outdoor voice. "Behind you!" and "Hot stuff coming through!" worked well for the most part. But there were times when the show was so busy, and the queues overflowing, that we had to pause and wait for the crowd to thin and the effectiveness of an outdoor voice was lost.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dish Network: A New Reality...

I think I may have a problem. I'm finding myself more and more interested in reality shows. I hear people talking about them at work and the beauty parlor. In the past, I've scoffed at these people and their taste in tv. Before now, I wouldn't waste one precious second of my viewing time on people who survived something horrific or Hollywood types telling mildly scary stories. It seems my tastes are changing.

At home, I only have basic cable. So, for the last few weeks, I've been going over to Margie's house to watch Dish Network. She is totally in love with that guy from New Jersey who makes elaborate cakes and the English ladies who clean peoples houses. Aside from those shows, we've been watching food network shows and crafting, sewing and hours of DIY. Margie is also a Simpson's junkie, so we look at plenty of that too.

This afternoon when Mick came in, I think he was expecting dinner. What he got was a bunch of shooshing and hand waving because Margie and I were engrossed in some horrific crime scene investigation programme. I like to think of myself as a little more intellectual than other folks who love reality tv. It turns out I am not. I feel a weird sense of intrigue when peeking in on someone else's life. I guess voyuerism sells and I have been a television addict since my parents let me stay up to watch Carson and The Midnight Special. Up until then I was shooed off to bed after Disney or Wild Kingdom.

But I am positive I would never sign up for people peeking in on my life. The ratings would tank after viewers realised all I really do is watch tv. Now there's a thought, a whole show revolved around me and my infatuation with the boob tube...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Note to Self: Find Computer Repair Service...

I'm so tired of having no room in this house! Every closet and corner is filled with so much stuff I cannot stand it anymore. Even though it isn't quite yet spring, I started my spring cleaning today.

I began with the closets. No one will believe me when I say that I found boots Shawn wore in kindergarten. I found clothes the girls have not worn in a decade. A decade. Seriously, who keeps stuff that long? I'm ashamed to admit I found stuff that I forgot I even had. I found magazines from the '80's, wallpaper, old paint, and a hampster cage. A hampster hasn't lived here in a very long time. I do remember when that pet died. We had a funeral and buried him in the yard. I'm certain we did, really.

I finished up the closet project by tossing the offending objects out into the dooryard.

My next project was a massive pile of stuff in a corner of my living room. Digging through more magazines and a lot of papers, I found 17 permanent markers. Don't go buy one if you need one, I have plenty for you. The biggest surprise in that pile was the two CPU's I found. One had a note taped to it that read: "Find a reputable Computer Repair Service, there are more than 600 pictures in here you want." It's a good thing I attached that note, I was ready to fire that thing out the door when I first saw it.

I went to Manda and asked her when was the last time we used either of those computers. She indicated the one with the note and said,"That one we used in December, it has all of your vacation and holiday pictures on it." As I put it aside, she dragged out the other CPU. As she turned it around and around inspecting it, she let out a heavy sigh. "Is something wrong?" I asked. "No, No. Nothing wrong," she said. "I can't tell you the last time we used this one."
"Do you remember it?" I asked her. "Oh, I remember it all right," she says. "I bought this computer when I went away to school 9 years ago!"

Two Layers of Shingles...

But no tar paper.

Who does that?

Whoever roofed my house last, that's who! 
More than 25 years ago, before I lived here.

Anyway, there will be a new roof on this house very soon!
Everyone please say thank you to Joe and Shawn for making this very important improvement!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011



Guest post from: Steve Delaney

There is no more relaxing activity to do while watching satalite tv than knitting. Some people occupy themselves by eating while catching their favorite movie or sitcom. That divergence can add weight and other unpleasant health related issues. While knitting, on the other hand, is self occupying, calming and productive. Anyone can learn to knit.
Visiting any local craft store will be your first step in learning to knit. Your craft supply store will have books on knitting that give step by step instruction on how to hold the yarn, how to cast on a stitch, how to hold the needles and how to begin knitting. Learning to knit from beginner knitter's books is the simplest and less expensive way of learning to knit. It is actually much better and more efficient than paying someone to teach you how to knit. A book with illustrations can be copied as knitting is the simplest craft that looks absolutely complicated.
Don't forget that knitting was man's earliest cloth making invention. Imagine the great dames of castles as well as cottages sitting in front of great fires and joining yarns made from the coats of sheep, and you can have some idea of the history of knitting, a great way to spend the evening. The easiest and the most self satisfying craft is knitting that can be done by both women and men alike as well as children.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ella Tries to Call Thom...

But Ella doesn't know Thom's number!

She's a card that Ella, and she's had a great adventure here in
 South Eastern  Massachusetts!
When she woke me up banging on the grill and demanding food, I thought she was rather bold to disappear for so long. Then to refuse to explain before I put a plate down in front of her?
Well, let me say I was rather perturbed, but I acquiesced.
After the feeding frenzy, this is what I got out of her:

She will not tell all! Now she wants cake!
I called Tam, she usually has some kind of cake.Tam says she won't be home for another hour.
So, we wait...
I did manage to wrestle my camera from Ella's grasp.
After looking through the snaps, I can see Ella has been busy and made some new friends.

One day last October, I went out to do errands. Ella climbed in with me and said she'd take the ride. We got up to the corner and with a giant screech, she jumped out the window and bolted. I didn't see her again for a long time. After going through the pictures she took, I have a good idea.

Each year the Carver Fire Department is holds an open house, a kind of outreach program, designed to educate kids and families about fire safety. The Fire Chief and Deputy Chief and a bunch of the fire fighters gather uptown with some of their equipment, a bouncy house and a few pizzas.

I see by this photo that Ella is eyeing the bouncy house! I don't see any kids in there so she must have chased them all away...

Carver Fire is an equal opportunity organisation!
This is Christine...
During the open house, the fire department showcases some of their equipment and they do demonstrations not only with their fire equipment  but with the devices they use to rescue people from water and auto accidents too. The firefighters wear their fire suits and engage kids in a discussion about why the suit is so big and bulky, and why there is so much stuff hanging off it.

Fire safety and education is a huge concern of our fire chief and his whole department. The chief uses this simulator to teach kids and families the best way to escape a  smoky or burning building.  We see here that Ella made herself at home by climbing all over everything and asking a bunch of questions.

While looking through the pictures, I put a call in to the Chief. I thought he would be mad because an elephant hijacked his engine, but he said the idea of the open house was to engage people and create a dialog between the department and the folks in town. He wants to educate people, especially kids. Chief said in the years he's been doing the open house, he's had an excellent response from everyone in town, but he's never encountered an elephant. He told me he just asked Ella to behave and continued on with his next class.

Pizza! Pizza!

I guess Ella must have cozied up to this guy. It seems he had some pizza and she decided it was lunchtime! 
The hovercraft must have been of interest too, Ella got someone to take her picture!

I haven't been through all the pictures, but I'm sure there's more. Once Ella gets some cake in her, she may be a bit more talkative...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Your Writing Assignment #1...

Your Writing Assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to write a complete story in 500 words or less using the scenario below to kick-start your thinking. Publish your story on your blog January 15th, then go on over to Quilly's and link to her January 15th story, here.
Quilly has twelve writing assignments ready, one for the first day of every month. Every month! 
The stories are due on the 15th, even in April!

The Scenario:
You received a set of clunky, old-fashioned roller skates from the oldest, most eccentric member of your family. The skates appear to be too small, so you try to return them. S/he insists you try them on. You decide to humor him/her. To your amazement the skates fit. Suddenly you are overcome with the urge to skate and … (tell us what happens next in 500 words or less).

~ - - - ~ 

Yo' mama may be high yella, but you aint. Take dees heah and git!

That's what Aunt Sara told me when she gave me the skates. Aunt Sara didn’t mean this as an insult, only a reminder to mind my place. I was the oldest child on the farm and therefore had a responsibility to set a good example and look after the younger children.

You go roll dem skates down on de ole road to de mill. It pack hard. You gon' sail 'long smooth. Now git. Take de baby too.

Aunt Sara implied I was not to lord it over the other children and to share the skates. I couldn't quite figure how 8 children between the ages of 2 and 17 were all going to share the same skates. But I took them and the baby and set off for the barn.

I wan' all you chil'ren back a'fo long, ya heah? Wash' up an' ready fo' church. Papa preachin' taday.

Papa owned the farm. He didn't call his sermons preaching. Years later he told me he spoke in church to remind himself to be humble and follow Jesus. He was not a proper preacher, but folks looked up to him.

Lady, put dat chile down, he got legs! How he ever gon' stand on his own, you carry him 'bout so?

Morris was only two and he could walk, but he was slow and curious. He stopped every few feet to inspect flowers or bugs. It was faster to carry him. So when we were well away from Aunt Sara, I picked him up again and ran to the barn. The others were finishing up chores. We all ambled over to the old mill road.

Dees heah skates too big or small fo' all y'all. Dey ony gon' fit me. Give 'em heah.

Marshall grabbed the skates from me and put them on while the others grabbed and snatched at him. He shook the little ones off and took off down the road as we looked on. After his turn, he passed the skates on to each child and helped them lace up and get moving. Each child claimed the skates fit perfectly and sailed down the road like they were born to skate. When my turn came, I had little confidence that the skates would fit me.

Y'all know I'm too grown fo' skates that fit you lil ones, I neber gon' be movin down dis heah road...

My feet slipped easily into the boots. The laces seemed to tighten by themselves, perfectly conforming the boots to my feet. I stood feeling a little leary of these strange conveyances. My feet took off before me and sent me down the road, gracefully and grandly. I felt like I was floating on air. I felt free and easy.

Laaaaady! You bring those chil'ren back heah now! You heah me? Arliiis? Arliss! You come draw some water fo' Lady! Wash 'em up, we ain’t got all day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Roof?

We're putting a new roof on the house in the next couple of weeks!

This is so not what I planned to do with the money I have right now...but it's necessary.
I hope everything goes easily and there are no un-planned costs.

Look forward to more about this soon, doing a roof in January in New England cant be easy!
Can it?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Fixer Upper

Guest post written by Pete Domino

Now that my wife and I are starting to do really well financially, we are interested in making our house look classy and more upscale. While we would be perfectly happy with the current situation our home is in, we really want to be able to show off how happy and great weÕre doing when guests come, which hasnÕt always felt like the case. Your home should be something youÕre proud of, you know? WeÕve worked on all aspects of the house for the past few years, and this year we really need to focus on the kitchen. The kitchen itself looks very old and outmoded, and we want something we can really be proud of when we entertain. The first step to vamping was installing new sears kitchen counters and trading out the old refrigerator with a top-of-the-line model. It takes a pretty penny for items like this, but itÕs going to be worth it in the long run.

We are going to have to temporarily hold off on the house parties, but we should have the place fixed up in a few months. After that, we are going to really celebrate by having some good people come over.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Down Argentine Way...

A restaurant on the waterfront is hosting a wine dinner featuring wines from Argentina.

I don't know much about wine but I'm supposed to. Culinary school taught me, I didn't retain it. I did however, recognise all the food being served. And it looks good. The price is a little out of my range, but I could splurge.

Who wants to join me?
I invite everyone to stop here and visit.

I'm not being cryptic, when you get there, you'll know why I sent you...

Ella is Still Talking...

... and she hasn't stopped!

She threw me a bone last night and let me have one of the pictures she took with my camera!

Where in the world did she get that snapshot?!

Melli, Ella says she's had enough adventure and is ready to come home. But first she has to collect all her stuff and pack it up, explain to me where she has been, where she took all these pictures and book a flight.

If anyone has a clue where Ella took this picture could you let me know? Even though she's talking she is still being kinda secretive!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday Wickedness - Simpson

Hi and welcome to Wednesday Wickedness! We are like other memes in that we will ask you ten questions each and every Wednesday. But our little "twist" is that each week we will pick a famous person and pick ten of their quotes. Each of our questions will be based on the quotes. Got it? Great! Let's begin this week's meme!

1. “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals … except the weasel.”
What was the last thing that you weaseled out of?
Taking phone calls. I shut my phone off. Ha ha! Try to reach me now, Bill Collector!

2. “If they think I’m going to stop at that stop sign, they’re sadly mistaken!”
What was the last thing that caught your eye that you stopped for?
Cookies in Margaret's kitchen. Then I ate almost all of the peanut butter cookies, which she was saving for Jim.

3. “You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once, and move on.”
When was the last time that you blamed yourself?
Three seconds ago. But then I said "What the hell? What can I do about it?" And then I forgot about it.

4. “Here’s to alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems.”
Does alcohol play an important role in your life?
Not so much. I have a healthy disdain for alcohol. Sugar, candy, fried food, soda, that's my alcohol!

5. “All right, let’s not panic. I’ll make the money by selling one of my livers. I can get by with one.”
Would you ever donate a kidney or another organ to someone?
Depends on too much to say generally one way or the other.This is something I would decide on a case - by - case basis. And in each case, I say I keep my parts to myself.

6. “Bart, you’re saying butt-kisser like it’s a bad thing!”
Have you ever thought you were a butt-kisser?

7. “Everyone knows rock n’ roll attained perfection in 1974; It’s a scientific fact.”
What do you consider rock ‘n roll perfection?
Lou Reed -Rock 'n' Roll Animal. Heroin, glam rock, Hunter and Wagner. How do you get any better than that? 

8.“Hey, he’s not happy at all! He lied to us through song! I HATE when people do that!”
How seriously do you take an artist’s lyrics?
Most times I can't even understand them. Take Bob Dylan for instance: just call him Mr Mumbles. Or Neil Young: Mr Monotone, I get bored listening. Then theres Perry Farrell: if one can even understand what he sings, they would have a difficult time putting meaning to his lyrics. Such a person would need to ingest a bunch of drugs to even try.   

9. “If something’s hard to do, then it’s not worth doing.”
What was the last thing that you did despite the fact that it was hard?
I sat with my brother.

10. “The Internet? Is that thing still around?”
Can you imagine being in a time without the internet?
I was. I did more stuff then. The internet made me very lazy and anti-social.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ella Resurfaces Again...

I woke at the crack of dawn to some serious clanging outside. I toss back the shade to see this:

Ella, dressed in the same clothes we last saw her in, politely requests a hot breakfast of cakes and syrup, eggs over easy, grilled ham and sausage and grits.
"Ella, this is Carver. We have cream of wheat, not grits! But more importantly, where have you been?" I demand.
Ella pauses and then, "First I eat. Then I talk."