Friday, June 24, 2016

In praise of the tiny

I've always loved the tiny. Small is good. I live in a 350 sf apartment. I like macro photography, both viewing it and creating it. I prefer teaspoons to tablespoons. I like small journals. I've even made small journals:

The little journals are my creations. The smallest one is called a jelly bean book. The framed watercolor is done by artist Cathy Nash. Her watercolors are very small, and usually depict rural scenes. Here is another view of her work-

To that end, here is Rachel Beltz with her very tiny watercolors. In praise of the small! Definitely click on the link to see the rest of these tiny masterpieces of detail and charm.

See even more of Rachel's work at her Instagram page.

Big or small, "Art is literacy of the heart" ~Elliot Eisner

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Fabriano find

I went to buy some Amish soap at the Second Time Around store and they were out. They called right on the spot and ordered some so I'll look for it when I go back. Meanwhile there was browsing to do!

I bought a bunch of stuff for my teacher's prize box for students. I got two sets of colored pencils and two pair of scissors for my teacher also, plus a long wooden thing like a scrabble tile holder. It has a slot in it to place a white board or chalk board, so we don't have to keep holding it up the whole time while teaching small group at a table. We never have enough hands! Hands-free white board display will be perfect.

I went there not only for the Amish soap but I needed a stencil, an artist's journal, and some tablespoon measuring things for the kitchen. I found those, but the


of the day, lol, was a Fabriano journal. Fabriano is a mill and also a brand of paper in Italy. Fabriano is also the name of the town in Italy where paper has been produced for 800 years. The Italians perfected paper making from the Asians, and also introduced the watermark, since the 1200's in Fabriano Italy. Fabriano paper is very expensive, smooth, easy to work with for artists and painters. The journal was only $2. SCOREEEEEEEE!!!! Here is their blurb:
Very few companies can claim a longer or more distinguished heritage than Fabriano. Dating back to 1264, the Fabriano mill’s fine arts papers were used and highly praised by Michelangelo. Fabrianese paper masters pioneered many of the processes now common in paper manufacture today, including the watermark and the technique of surface sheet gluing using gelatine. In 2002, Fabriano became part of the Fedrigoni Group
And my journal is made by the Fabriano Fedrigoni group. It's authentic, in other words. I'm so excited! I had wanted the stencil to try an art technique using paint and collage, and the journal to try the technique. So I'm tried it today and inaugurated my new Fabriano journal.

This is my art journal and the stencil, plus some line green polka dot tissue paper for collages just because it was there and only 89 cents!

See? Fabriano. For realz.

My collage in the journal was underway. The paper is so smooth the paint spread so easily. Ahhh.

I love thrift stores!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

50 channels and nothing on

TV. What're you going to do?

I'm on vacation for the summer. After a morning of study, an afternoon of chores, and a late afternoon of crafting, cooking, bird watching, or napping, I like to watch TV.

I tried to watch many different shows.

L.A. Law, which was an excellent show that began in 1988 and at least the first two seasons do hold up, which is all I watched. But its all about sex, sex, sex, court, I win, billable hours, sex, sex, I lost, smooch, I love you, smack, I hate you. When it got up to Douglas having an affair with his step-mother 1 Corinthians 5:1 kicked in and I quit.

Murphy Brown was another 1988 series, this one was a comedy. I remember it as being cutting edge and funny. Watching it now, Murphy is just a selfish, complaining harridan. She is really annoying.

New Girl is a new show. I read the reviews and the reviews at Common Sense Media said it was sweet and quirky. It's about some upper 20 somethings of mixed gender inhabiting a loft. The premise is problematic enough, but where LA Law they actually did have copious amounts of sex, in New Girl, it's all talk of sex. Talk of sex, drunk sex, drunk texting, sexting, boobs, sex, talk, dates, hookups, passed out, hoping for sex, drunk again. I really have to stop relying on Common Sense Media.

Odd Mom Out, another new show but after a few episodes it just seemed juvenile & perverted to me. There was always something just a bit off color and I just got sick of it. Cross that one of the list.

No Offence. A British show about cops. I like cop shows but not gore. I'm also leery of any and all British cop shows because they are all slightly odd with sickening story lines. I've had a lot of bad esperiences with them. Not sickening like NCIS, Criminal Minds, or Bones, that's just juvenile immature. But an odd chord of weirdness goes through UK cop stories that are more like Hannibal Lecter kind of sick. And sure enough the very opening scene of No Offence was terrible. Hoping they just did it once for the shock value, I tried to press on, but in short order, another terrible scene and I quickly turned it off. No more UK cop shows for me. I'm done. (New Tricks was the only great UK cop show I've watched. Hilarious! Line of Duty was great, too, I should say, and Foyle's War was great too as was Death in Paradise, but that one wasn't set in London, but in the Caribbean which makes a huge difference!). Broadchurch, Midsomer Murders, Happy Valley, Prime Suspect, Inspector Morse, Wallander, George Gently, been there, done that. Ew.

Where are the genteel shows like BBC's The Detectorists or The Cafe? THOSE were some good shows! Speaking of genteel,

The Great British Bake Off. Another British show and I loved it. I watched the current series on Youtube and enjoyed he light town, the great editing, the educational aspect, all the way through the entire competition...until the finale. That episode was absent from youtube and apparently online anywhere. Wah! I can't tell you how disappointing it was to have committed to these contestants and gone through 11 episodes only to have the final moment denied.

I really love shows like GBBO as the Bake Off is called. It's educational nice, nothing perverted, and it's progressive. I like counting down, I like that it's always the same. I just like it. But quality shows like GBBO are few and far between, and today's comedies and dramas are too corrupted. Shows of old like Murphy Brown and LA Law might be a bit better but in some ways the presentation of the 1980s man as the doormat while the rise of the feminist woman took over is just as depressing to watch. The era of the "Wimpy Man" had begun then and boy did the TV shows reflect it.

I really wish there was something good to watch.

Friday, June 03, 2016

MasterChef vs. The Great British Bake Off

The difference between watching Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off



Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day remembrance: In Flanders Fields

From American History, Smithsonian Institute.
In Flanders Fields. The poem, written by World War I Canadian Army surgeon John McCrae, provided a vivid image of sacrifice. Corn poppies flourish in disturbed soils; they bloomed by the millions among the splintered trees, tangles of barbed wire, ruined corpses, shell holes, and trenches lacerating the battlefields of Europe. These tiny scarlet blooms, seemingly stained by the blood-soaked soil, gave hope that something beautiful could arise from the cruelty and violence. Since 1921, the corn poppy has been a symbol that we shall remember them.

Poem In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Visual Journal

The Creative Photographer book I've been using as a workbook/inspiration/sumptuous feast book has yielded up another tip that I decided to follow. Keeping a visual journal.

I know, I know, I've blogged several times about how I'm a failure at persisting with any sort of journaling at all. It is true, I don't write down my feelings and dreams and all that crap stuff. I also don't re-read anything I've written. For a while I even had a photography blog as an online visual journal, but along with my other two blogs I soon gave it up as too much work. Now there's Pinterest...

But a visual journal instead is just that- visual without words. One pastes into a blank journal either one's own photos or pictures from magazines etc that we like or want to try or in some way connect with. Over time one begins to see what a person likes, what subjects are gravitated to, colors, composition, subject etc.

On Facebook, which is one big photo album, let's be honest, I see over time one wife who posts herself and her kids but never her husband. Over time, looking at lots of photos I see another person likes to take photos of landscapes and rarely photographs people. In another example where a DVD slide show was made as a gift, someone remarked, "Gee, there are a lot of photos of her and me together". I noticed that too.

If I can see patterns and trends in other people's pics, then what would I be able to learn about myself if I consistently placed photos of interest into my journal over time and then looked at them all at once?

My next task was to obtain a journal. I browsed Amazon but the artist's sketch journals were too expensive. Then I though, hey, check my OWN shelves to see what would suit. I spent years making blank journals and I have certainly not used them or or given them all away yet. So, I found this:

Believe it or not, this was originally a placemat. Now it is the cover of a large-sized soft cover journal I'd made out of it. I found it at the Lubec Maine Annual Fourth of July Historical Society Yard Sale 12 years ago! Here it is unfolded-

Here's the inside:

The fact that the cover is cloth will allow me to be able to close the journal after I've glued lots of pics inside. Spine size won't be that much of a problem. The page size allows for gluing several photos on one page. And the fact that I made it and already owned it meant I didn't have to spend money on getting a new one!

Now all I have to do is remember to print out pics I like, and buy more ink for the printer.

Another idea I implemented from the Photography Book that turned out to be a success was a combination of two ideas. I learned about the 2 inch insta-printers one can plug into your camera or phone and the zero-ink technology allows for cute little pics to be printed on the spot. The other idea was to make a display of photos, printing and laminating them and then hanging.

The author reminded us old folks how fun the Polarioid pictures were. We had an instant reminder of the fun and a permanent souvenir. The author said a zero-ink ("ZINK") insta-printer is especially fun for kids' birthday parties, the children love to see their pics right away. No one prints out pictures anymore. They stay in the camera or on the laptop or in the phone. So I decided as a gift to print out all the pics I could find on her Facebook page in 2" format, laminate them, and put them in a little box with a quote about memories on the top. It was pleasantly received. It didn't take too long to do and I think I will do it again sometime.

So far the book The Creative Photographer by Catherine Anderson has proved to be very useful and informative!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A charming find at the second hand store

On the way home from school yesterday, the last day of school I might add, I decided to stop at the Second Time Around store. This is one of these stores where you can buy anything from kitty litter to a lawnmower to a vintage Swedish poetry book- in Swedish. You never know what they'll have. Which is why I like the store, an endlessly entertaining and thrilling inventory.

I try not to stop there too often, I really don't have a lot of extra money to be throwing away. But the occasional under $10 spending spree is sometimes necessary to maintain sanity.

I found some terrific treasures! Five sharp knives for $2, and knives were something I'd needed. Anthony Bourdain's seminal book, Kitchen Confidential, for 50 cents. Hey, can't go wrong with that. A small purse for $1, and it was clean. A vintage hard cover Methodist Hymnal for $1. I plan to use the pages for collage etc.

And this: a vintage Kodak Vigilant Six-20 collapsible camera, complete with instruction manual and surprise ephemera! It was $4. Wow.

The Kodak Vigilant Six-20 medium format camera was manufactured between 1939-1949 and originally sold for US $38 (about US $642 in 2016). There were several variations of shutter/lens combinations probably due to the war and scarce materials, and also that the technology at that time was rapidly advancing. My particular version with the Dakon lens was manufactured between 1946-1948.

My father had given me my first camera, a 1930's Olympus. I am sorry I got rid of it, or rather, I don't know what happened to it. I was fond of that ole camera. These are the first two photos I took with it:

I also owned at one time a Russian Lomo camera, which I loved. I gave that one away. I do like old cameras.

My Kodak isn't rare so it is not worth much money, I looked that up. I just like the vintage look, the heft and weight, the ephemera, and the charm of finding a magnificent machine like this at a second hand store next to the hammers. Here is the Kodak I found yesterday, pretty cool:

The ephemera I mentioned. The pouch the Vigilant came in also held these, a guide to taking snapshots under different conditions, the manual, and a ticket to the photo-sub.

The photo-sub at Silver Springs is a Florida attraction and has been designated a historical landmark. It was founded in 1852 alongside the clear artesian waters springing up from the waters under Marion County FL. In this HuffPo article from 2013, we learn that
Just east of Ocala, Silver Springs is one of the world’s largest artesian springs, gushing up to 550 million gallons of clear water to form the Silver River, a 4½-mile shorty that feeds the Ocklawaha River and eventually the St. Johns. Glass-bottom boats were invented and launched here in the 1870s, and in the 1920s a pair of developers created what became the theme park — and what many call Florida’s first tourist attraction. Animal exhibits, rides and a water park joined the glass-bottom boats, from which visitors still eye fish and fossils beneath the surface, and turtles, alligators and myriad birds above it.
The photo-sub to which the ticket refers was another attraction developed for the pleasure of shutter bug tourists. From this 1956 magazine touting the Springs,

Adapted for taking moving pictures, the "photo-sub" has a well in the forward section. Glass windows in the well permit the photographer to follow the movements of swimmers, and to portray, with fidelity, the great variety of underwater life in Silver Springs.
And here is the photo-sub. You see out one of the portholes, one of the swimmers had approached right up close, giving the photo-riders a great photo-opp.

The little trip down nostalgia lane sparked by the discovery of the Vigilant Kodak was fun. I learned a lot about cameras and lenses of that period as well as the history of the Silver Springs attraction. Second hand never know what you'll find!

One reason I love summer

Summer is a time of celebration, and there are a lot of celebrations joyously occurring this summer among my friends.

Three teachers from school are getting married this summer, one of them today! She is a young woman and this day is the very day she has been dreaming about since she was a girl. Another has suffered the grief of widowhood but by the Lord's grace, after a time, has found love again.

A friend of mine is graduating. She graduated high school last night and her celebratory party is today. She has her life in front of her and plans to attend college after one year of working. Her family surrounds her and celebrates her achievement and  the hope of her life promise.

Other friends are headed to various vacations - the beach, the mountains, family reunions. I love summer for families who make memories. They last.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Apparently I have healthy eyes

I've gotten a couple ideas for some blog essays here at The Quiet Life. I think you'll like them. I'll be writing them in these first weeks of the summer. I know for sure my life will be very quiet! Plenty of time to write.

I got new glasses frames and inside the frames are new prescription. It had been ten years since I had them checked and reading had become a little dicey as my eyes would not focus to see the words with my old glasses on or off.

The Eye Doc said I have really healthy eyes. Go figure. One problem was my glasses had slipped and I was looking out the wrong part of the bifocal. Adjusting the nose pads fixed that. My eyes have changed prescription, it's been ten years after all, he said. But nothing abnormal nor anything to indicate any disease, which I had been hypochondriac-ally imagining the worst. I was mentally in a hospice already. So, good news. He also said my right eye has an issue seriously reacting to allergies. I hadn't known that. Go figure.

I'm always happier before I go to the Doctor and I dwell in ignorant bliss. I made that remark to Tracey & said also the time I went to the X-Ray guy after I fell in school and the Doc said did you know you have a lot of arthritis in my knee and I said "NOO, sheesh". And the other lady buying glasses who was also my age burst out laughing. Sistas in infirm golden years. We had a moment.

The lenses were expensive, even after I had the nurse X out all the extras on her list with the prices next to them. No to compressed. No to progressive bifocal. No to transitional. No to everything except a Coke bottle glass fitted on there with duct tape. But the frames were free. My friend helped me pick them out. I didn't even look, I'd had enough by then. So, it will be a surprise when they come in.

Anyway, new glasses should be in next week. Just in time to read the stack of books I have on the coffee table.

Today I finished packing the classroom. My half of it anyway. My classroom is packed up tight, as are most of the rest of the classrooms in my school. The halls are filled with upturned furniture temporarily stored there while the custodian crew clean the walls and the floors in the eerily empty classrooms.

Tomorrow we have one final meeting, then a retirement picnic for the three retirees who will be leaving us, then our summer begins. Nine weeks of glorious hermitage. I even did my grocery shopping today so tomorrow all I have to do is come home and BASK. is a magnolia flower. They're blooming on the tree out in the front yard. White velvet with dewdrops, ahhhh.