Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

2014 was a good year, a regular year. At the end, my father died. That wasn't regular. We weren't close. That wasn't regular either. Oh well. I hadn't seen him in 8 years, and not for many years before that. But it's still hard to know that he isn't just distant, but forever gone.

Last January a third cat adopted me. I wasn't looking for another cat. I was very happy with two older cats. But the kitten was gong to die out there in the frozen cold, so...He's inside now and very loving and sweet. Murray. He only jumps on Luke's head sometimes.

Otherwise, it was a year that clicked along normally, albeit on the school calendar and not the calendar calendar. I love the school calendar year. (As an expatriate New Englander, an Aug to May school year just wrong. The school year should be September to June. But I digress). I love my job. In 2014 I went to work, went to church, went out a (very) few times with friends. I read books and wrote my 3,026th blog essay and adjusted to the changing seasons, and all the normal things. It's a normal life. A quiet life.

A few weeks ago I slipped in a large puddle inside a classroom, from a heretofore unknown roof leak. I was be-bopping pretty fast, and went down like a cartoon character, feet in the air and hit hard with stars rotating around my head. I was sent to the doctor, and he took an X-ray. Thankfully no bones were broken, just severely bruised, but he said, "You have quite a bit of arthritis in your knees. You probably knew that."

No. No I didn't know that. I didn't WANT to know that. See? This is why I don't like going to the doctor. Now I'll just fixate on my hurting knees, where before they felt fine.

Today was the first time Murray the new kitten sought cuddling. He'd cuddle before, but only for a few moments. Today he asked several times, persistently like cats do, and snuggled deep and purred. Welcome home Murray! You're finally a house cat.

This evening a friend stopped over and dropped off a gift basket, containing a new mug with tea, biscotti, and hot chocolate. Best of all we chatted in the driveway (her kids were in the car so she couldn't come in) and we laughed. It felt good to laugh. It is so nice to have friends. I am very, VERY blessed.

I learned how to do that HDR kind of color splash thing. See?

EPrata photo
That's my New Year's Resolution.

Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

After almost a week of sopping, cold rain, the day dawned bright and clear. I'm glad for the people who have to travel. I am only going a mile down the road, to have Christmas supper with friends later.

Meanwhile, I've been playing with my photo editing software. I am making collages, and I am also experimenting with color splash. In Color splash, it strips the photo of color, except for the one spot the editor wants to splash back in. Here are the results of some of the splashes and collages.

In splash, I discovered, the key is to find one large graphic that is colorful. Most of my bird photos are of brown birds so when stripping the photo of extraneous color and adding back in the black or brown, it doesn't make for too much of a splash, lol. Here is one bird photo I'd had that was colorful. Kind of.

In the photo below, I snapped it at Campobello in New Brunswick Canada. It is of a pitcher plant, (a carnivorous plant like the Venus flytrap) and the surrounding color was various shades of green. I stripped the green and added back the plant's natural red.

In these collages, I know I went overboard with adding elements, but I am a child of a first camera being old Olympus with the 1940s huge flash bulbs and using 35 mm film, then waiting a week for your developed photos to come back. Being of an age to see the entry of digital photography into the world and then the added bonus of free photo editing software has simply made me giddy with delight.

In the photo below I began with a picture of the moon.

Then I added stuff. The butterfly is my photo too.

The "If not us..." will become a series on my other blog. The quote refers to Christians who are called to witness and testify to the power of a risen Christ.

In this next collage, I started with a photo of heather, a weed that grows around here.

Then I added stuff. I was reminded of the verse about the wheat and the tares, or the seed that falls on the weed.

I have lots and LOTS of photos of boats. These are both from Lubec Maine, bordering Canada. The natural slate gray of the water and the brown of the dock made it easy to strip the color, retaining the already existing blue on both boats

So that is some of the fun I am having today.

Last night was quiet. A friend stopped over and we visited and had Christmas cookies and tea. Then I watched documentaries and then listened to Louis Prima for a while. Right now I'm going to get dressed and take a walk in the sunshine. With my camera of course ;)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My father's obituary: John B. Prata Jr.

PRATA, JOHN B. JR. of North Kingstown and Naples, FL passed away on December 15, 2014 at 12:15pm. He was the loving husband of Raisa E. Prata with whom he had resided for 16 years. Born in Providence, he was the son of the late John and Yolanda (Bernardoni) Prata.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his three children: Elizabeth of Georgia, Christopher (Sharon) of RI and Jessica (Stephen) Ph.D. Miller of Maine and two grandchildren. He also leaves three sisters: Norma Prata of Providence, Lorraine (Raymond) Tortolani of Florida, Janet Msumba of Massachusetts, two grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

John was graduated from Classical High School, class of 1951, and the University of RI in 1954, with a degree in Accounting and Economics. He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity where he served as Secretary and Treasurer.

He entered the Navy Officer Candidate School and was commissioned an Ensign in May, 1955. John served aboard the USS Estes out of San Diego and participated in Operation Redwing in the Marshall Islands, Redwing being the hydrogen bomb tests at Bikini and Enewetok atolls. He later served at Quonset Point where he was the Paymaster.

USS Estes
Redwing: "Erie", Runit Island, Enewetak Atoll, 1956
Upon separation from active duty John entered the New England Institute of Anatomy in Boston where he received a diploma in embalming in June 1959. He was elected President and graduated first in his class. He entered the family business where he served his apprenticeship and earned titles of Registered Embalmer and Licensed Funeral Director. During his tenure at Prata Funeral Homes John was elected President and Treasurer, eventually expanding the business from four funeral homes to nine, becoming the largest Funeral Service firm in RI. He was also President and Treasurer of the New England Soliciting Co. and The Merritt Co., both being burial insurance firms. He also founded Westminster Memorials, Inc. a cemetery monument company.

In 1972 John founded J. B. Prata, Ltd. a coater of adhesive tapes and printer labels, marketing its products throughout the U.S., Europe and South America. In 1964 he entered politics in East Greenwich as a member of the East Greenwich Republican Town Committee. He ran for and was elected a member of the Town Council in 1966 and was re-elected in 1968 serving as Vice President of the Council. In 1972 he was elected Chairman of the Republic Town Committee. With quality candidates and outstanding efforts by Committee members, all 20 of the contested positions were won by Republicans, a first in everyone's memory.

He also served as President of the East Greenwich Jaycees, founded the Golden Agers Club, was a founding member of Save the Bay, and a founder and officer of The Greenwich Club. Online condolences may be made at

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas vacation started yesterday at 2:30

Today was the first day of Christmas vacation. Phew. Working in school is great, and being stationed in the kindergarten wing is the best, if you ask me. Except perhaps, the excitement the week before Christmas break. It all gets to be a little much, lol. The kids are wildly excited and as Friday nears they can barely think straight. It truly, truly is like herding cats.

Our state is being hit hard with flu, extra quickly and extra severely.

Center for Disease Control
These last ten weekdays we had many children out with the flu and many staff as well. At one point with three kindergarten classes, we had only about 10 kids in each class, or nearly a 50% absentee rate in our wing. Other grades were not so hard hit. The little ones don't seem to take the no nose-picking, no uncovered sneezes, no uncovered coughing as seriously. Germs spread fast. I'm glad vacation came now so that we can all clear to personal home corners and stop the contagion.

Today I slept until 7:00 am, late for me. I enjoyed leisurely coffee, watched the last two episodes of the British detective show "Broadchurch." Then I had a nice brunch and then went back to bed at 10:00 until noon.

When I awoke I decided to finally clean out the fridge and do the dishes. When I'd completed that long-overdue task, I processed fruit. I'd bought a pineapple, half-cantaloupe, mangoes, and grapefruits several days ago. Unprocessed fruit does not do my body one bit of good so I spent a while chopping and peeling. If it is ready in the fridge, I'll eat it. I hate to see unpeeled fruit go to waste. Now I have chopped up and cleaned fruit to throw in the delicious homemade granola my friend gave me for my birthday. I also roasted potatoes, broccoli, and processed a bunch of jalapeno peppers and roasted them too. A friend gave me some of her fresh eggs for a Christmas present so I boiled four eggs to be ready to put into spinach salads this week. All that took me several hours.

The afternoon was filled with bible study, and also learning how to use the new bible study software I'd bought. I studied the Sunday School lesson, and I wrote a blog entry at the other blog, ("The Way of Balaam"). Then the evening was for dinner (ham sandwich and roasted potatoes and broccoli) and playing with photos. I experimented with layering and making a collage out of one of my pictures. I'd taken a shot of the full moon last week, and I used a lasso tool to make a cutout of a butterfly photo I had. I opened Pixlr to layer with the items they have on their photo editing software. It's harder than it looks, but here is what I came up with-

We go back to school January 5 and the kids return January 6. I'm looking forward to more study, more reading, more learning how to make art out of my photos, more cooking, and more tv and movie watching. I like the hermitage here, and I don't plan any social activities.

Except for church. And speaking of that, I better get to bed so I'll awaken fresh and ready to worship tomorrow, this last Sunday before the birth of our Savior.

Vacation is here and it just feels so good!!