Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day thank you

I published this post on May 26, 2013. Today I added the photo just below.

They came home. So many others, didn't.

Thank you to the men and women who served with honor. Since the Revolutionary War, you have set aside your life, and in some cases, given your life, to serve a greater cause. The liberties I enjoy are attributable to you. Thank you.

Thank you to Americo V. Bernardoni, (Great Uncle) who served in WWII from enlistment date of June 1942 through to the end of the war, plus 6 months. He was a Private in the Branch Immaterial Warrant Officers, USA.

Thank you to my grandfather, (below, front row, 2nd from right) who served in the the First World War in the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. This regiment was an infantry regiment of the line in the British Army, with a history going back to 1688. It saw service for three centuries, and during WWI, the regiment increased from five to nineteen battalions which served in France and Flanders, Mesopotamia and Palestine. The regiment lost approximately 6,000 dead in the four years of war.

Thank you to John Prata, (father) who served in the US Navy in the 1950s. He graduated from Officers Candidate School in Newport RI and Athens Supply Corps school in Georgia. He served as Ship's Bursar, and in the theater of the Pacific at Bikini. He was on the ships that were testing Hydrogen bombs.

Thank you to Raymond Tortolani, (uncle) who also graduated from Newport's OCS and served in the US Navy.

Thank you to William Keogh, (uncle) who served in the United States Coast Guard.

Though these family members did not lose their life to war, (though many of my father's shipmates came down with various cancers due to the radiation fallout from the hydrogen bombs), I thank you for serving our nation.

To the ones who are grieving, your grief is noticed and the sacrifice of your loved one is honored.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The final teapot

Several years ago I began browsing in a small shop in my small town, a shop called The Shabby Chic Cottage. The ladies who owned it would acquire items from yard sales or estate sales, refinish them if they needed it, and then resell in their store. They had gorgeous items, everything from art to furniture to ceramic items, rugs linens, and everything in between.

I bought my first vintage bone china teacup there. The pattern from manufacturer Tuscan in Duchess pattern is described at says "Roses, Gray & Cream Bands, Gold Trim". It's fine English bone china, it's delicate, and it's pretty. I was hooked. I wrote about its acquisition here.

That was two years ago and sadly, shortly after, the shop closed. I was sad for the ladies but sad for me too. I had been bitten by a bug and no way to salve it. Then a friend told me of another shop, not as nicely arranged but prices were even better, and it wasn't far from me. I began haunting it and soon acquired over the last two years, 8 more china teacups and 3 more teapots.

As I went along in this quest, I had in mind THE teapot I wanted. I acquired the other three only because I was looking for THE one and they charmed me in the meantime. But in my mind, if you're sipping tea from a fine English bone china teacup, there should be a fine English bone china teapot it came from. And to me, an iconic English teapot is round, white background, with some kind of flowers as a motif. As you can see from my collection, I'm not married to the notion that this kind of teapot is the only kind of pot, as I've collected American and Japanese pots too. But a collection in my opinion would have the iconic English pot.

And it was that very one that escaped me for so long. Here are my teapots so far:


Tetsubin, which Wikipedia explains are "Japanese cast-iron kettles with a pouring spout, a lid, and a handle crossing over the top, used for boiling and pouring hot water for drinking purposes, such as for making tea." They are traditionally used to heat water or tea over a charcoal brazier.


The folks at My Tea Ware say, "Kutani is a regional brand known for vibrant colors and intricate patterns of painting on porcelain. Kutani kilns are located in rural part of Ishikawa prefecture by the Japan sea."

This Japanese Kutani crackle porcelain teapot has all-over crazing under the clear glaze for a crackle design. The transfer design is an iris and bird motif with gold leaf on both sides and on the lid, with a bamboo or rattan handle. The color is an ivory or cream color. Kutani porcelains are characterized by their elaborate picture decorations in thick gold, red, blue and some other colors. In latter years I understand that these decorations were no longer hand painted but usually transferred by decal.

I am unsure of the date of the piece but it's likely late 1970s, early 1980s. This teapot and cup are not vintage but are extremely functional. The pot is the perfect size for three or four cups, it keeps the tea hot, and the design is growing on me more and more. It's the most useful and functional of all the teapots I own.

American: Hall

Due to the style of backstamp, the teapot was likely made in between 1915-1929. I think. It's so cool to think this pot is a hundred years old. There's a reason it looks so good for its age. According to eBay Hall teapot collecting tips,
"The innovative heir to The Hall China Company, Robert Taggart Hall, sought to devise a way to bring back the single-fire method, which was prominent during the Ming Dynasty. At the time, pottery producers used a two-step firing process, with the first to harden the piece and second to set the glaze. Working with the company's ceramic engineers and chemists, Hall and his team created a new glaze recipe for the single-fire process. The new process allowed for many vivid new colors, which were previously unseen, in United States pottery manufacture."
This firing process keeps the pot looking new, it doesn't craze.

Whittard: English

Here is the Whittard Clipper I received as a gift. It's an English pot. The ridge along the bottom is so that the pot would nest into a specially made pairing of a teacup. I broke the cup. The little 2-cup pot stands alone now. Whittard is an English company founded in 1886. My pot, however, is new.

At The Special Store the other day I found another iconic teapot, this one is American. It's a Homer Laughlin, maker of the famous Fiesta ware and Riviera ware. This line is called Eggshell, and being thinner, it was a departure from the thicker and sturdier ware like the Fiesta introduced in the late 1920s.

The teapot I found was a mid-century style pot in Eggshell, Cavalier style and Spring Song pattern. It was actively sold between 1952-1959. SO mid-century! It's large, the largest pot I own. I really like mid-century modern styles, as long as the motifs aren't overdone with the outer space patterns of galaxies and stars and stuff.

cute decoration atop the finial

So I needed one more English pot, the iconic one I'd had in mind as the ideal. It would be made by a good manufacturer, white background, flower motif. Then I saw the photo the store had posted, I thought, 'Wow! PERFECT!'

When I got to the store it was perfect, with one issue. It is a mini-teapot, a 1-cup. It holds 8 ounces. It's cute and lovely and charming and I bought it immediately. It is a Sadler mini-pot, Rosebud swirl pattern, gold edging. I had not known that Sadler teapots are highly collectible, and highly thought of in the China world. I just thought it was cute.

This completes the teapot collecting, and the teacup collecting too. I now have two American teapots, two English, and two Japanese pots. For cups, I have 9.

--Limoges C. Ahrenfeldt, (French) consomme cup, 1894-1930
--Made in Occupied Japan, (Japanese) Rose pattern, 1945-1952,
--Tuscan, (British) Duchess pattern, 1947-1965,
--Syracuse China (American) Federal Shape, pattern, 1949-1970,
--Vernonware, (American) Raffia pattern, made in 1953-54,
--Noritake, (Japanese) Stanton pattern, made between 1953-1961,
--Noritake, (Japanese) Glenrose, 1951-1957,
--Fine China of Japan, Platinum Wheat pattern, dates unknown but sometime mid-century,
--Aynsley, Louis XV pattern, post 1960.

I love the shape of the Raffia small pitcher. It is exquisite.

At the bottom of the Noritake Stanton cup there's a bouquet of flowers

I think the Duchess is my favorite

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Marigold Festival

Each town has their "thing" for which they want to be known. In Maine, where I lived for a long time, the nearby town of Yarmouth is known for its Clam Festival. Here in Georgia, the town of Helen in the mountains is known for its Oktoberfest. Also in Georgia, 45 years ago, the Town of Winterville decided it needed sprucing up and planned a fundraiser and morale-booster. The planning committee chose the marigold to be their town symbol. The marigold stands for "hardiness, versatility, and vigor, and because it is a symbol of friendship all over the world." Funds from the festival are funneled back into the community to maintain buildings and beautify the area.

The town is small with population 1200 at last census. Strangely, it's its own municipality contained wholly within Athens GA. It's quaint, really quaint. Large, two story homes with wrap-around porches line the streets, a nice looking Baptist Church is front and center, an original train depot stands historically and heroically, and Pittard Park is the locale for many community doings, including this festival.

In my opinion, this festival is the perfect size. It is long-standing and reputable enough to attract a variety of vendors, but not so large that it's difficult to get around. My friend and I had a nice time for a few hours walking around and listening to music. Here are my photos of the day.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Crafting Friday Night (and Saturday morning)

The urge to craft and make things comes and cannot be denied, lol. I like making bookmarks. They're smaller. This is good because the larger page is more intimidating. The blank page when I'm writing doesn't bother me at all, ever. But the blank page when making arts or crafts is highly daunting! I'm not that creative with making things. There seems to be a disconnect between my mind's eye imagination in seeing, and my hands in producing it. What I produce is amateurish, and only that, after a struggle.

Anyway, last night I made bookmarks from my photos, and overlaid scripture on them. Then I laminate. I've been dissatisfied, though, in the results. I can't quite get the size right. Sometimes they come out too skinny and other times too fat. These two came out not-horrible.

I finally got a clue and searched online for a bookmark template. I found one on Teachers Pay Teachers, for free.

The next challenge was to figure out how to insert the clip art, photos, or pictures that I want, into the bookmark while keeping the shape. Hmmm. Just copying and pasting didn't work. After clicking around some, I found that if you click the image, then click 'Fill' and then follow the pop-up menu to where or what you want to fill the shape with, it will work. In my case, I had prepared some clips of work I'd already done.

When I paint or collage or stencil, I then scan the finished product into the computer, thus digitizing it. So I had a number of items from which to clip sections from and insert into the shapes above.

From left to right: an acrylic painting, a color pencil stencil with digital clip art overlaid, a watercolor, a stenciled and painted collage, a paper collage with stencil on top. All art is by moi.

Then the job is to print out. I forgot that when printing pictures from Word I need to lighten it in the edit section, so, they came out a bit dark. I used regular paper and I think photo paper would make it a little sharper. Something went wrong with the last bookmark and there is no black line border all of a sudden, but those are the vagaries of printing. If I make the margins smaller the whole thing goes funky. So, I'll figure that out next time. I just need to cut out this last batch. Overall, I'm pleased. I like the different shapes of the bookmarks, it makes them more interesting I think.

I plan on attending the Annual Winterville Marigold Festival later this morning with a friend. I'll be visiting and also photo taking at this charming festival held in a small and pretty town.

I might be so jazzed up that I come home and have a blast processing my photos and maybe make more bookmarks. Or the predicted heat might make me decide to lay down with the kitties and take a nap, falling asleep listening to birds out my window. Anyway, it seems to be a good day ahead. I hope it is for you too!

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Summer state of mind

I think these two photos represent my upcoming summer life pretty well.

Oh, the joy of reading. I found the Mrs. Pollifax book series lately and I'm looking forward to a long read through 14 of them. Well, 13, as I already read the first. They are cozy spy mysteries with an elderly female main character that turns out to have a knack for spying for the CIA.

And leisurely mornings drinking coffee. Sometimes with whipped cream! Slowly and quietly, from my favorite mug, not guzzled hastily from a Thermos so as to make it to school in time for the first bell.

School, where I work, is coming to an end in 15 work days. In 12 1/2 work days, the children will be released from school, and then we have a remaining 3 days to have our concluding meetings, and pack up our classrooms. School isn't over, and it's incumbent upon the teachers and staff to maintain standards until the end, but in my mind, oh, goodness, in my mind:

What a complete blessing to be able to work with children, educate them and support teachers on a  great team like I have in my school, then to stay at home and recover refresh relax rejuvenate...well, all of the above!

Teaching is demanding work. Gone are the days of snacks and fingerpainting, if they ever existed at all. Teachers work very hard to meed standards the Local Board, State and the Federal Government set, and parents too. It's like an extension of motherhood. Because our work involves real people with real needs from physical, to emotional, to educational, it almost never ends.  Planning, meetings, correcting, hugging, problem-solving, sometimes clothing and nursing, all happen in addition to teaching, all day long.

And I don't even teach. I am support staff, where I support my teacher in doing all of the above. When you invest emotionally and educationally in an entire person, it's tiring. When you do it for 22 little ones every day all at once, it's more than exhausting. The educational or behavioral strategies you apply, the changes you make in order to reach them, the love given out, the sadness when someone needs to be chastised, the heights when they succeed, or depths when they continue to squander their mind due to various reasons...all take a toll.

So summer comes along and as it approaches there comes a bounce in my step and a twinkle on my eye. I feel pretty happy also when moms get to spend valuable time with their kids at home and they do family things away from the hurry and scurry of the busy-ness of school year.

I always have Grande Plans for the summer. I'll write War & Peace! Not really, but huge plans, I never seem to meet them. Admittedly, it takes discipline to maintain a schedule throughout the 9 weeks we have off for summer. (We return on July 30). It takes discipline not to sink into a laziness that expresses itself in sleeping late, staying in pajamas all day, and eating potato chips or popcorn for breakfast (not that it has happened to me, noooo) but one has high hopes every year.

I do tend to wilt in the extreme heat of a southern summer, and I'm not an active person anyway, so much of the time I'll be in my small, cozy, lovely apartment that I love so dearly, reading, studying, listening to sermons, crafting, and watching movies. Alone. That is my summer state of mind.

Soon to make an appearance, first on May 22 at noon when we load the kids onto the buses for the last time of the 2017-18 school year, then again in force on Friday afternoon when we conclude our retirement party for the staff that are finishing strong after many years of service and are dismissed as staff for the last time this year.

Can't wait!!!