Avast me hearties
Friday, 11:52 am
Arrr, it’s one o’ those thin’s, you know, not ha’in’ your camera with you when you mightily need it.
This mornin’ I was startled out o’ me reverie when I saw t’ huge black Jolly Roger flyin’ proudly over t’ high school. (it replaced t’ state flag and really, how could we *not* notice it!). I mean, t’ thin’ was huge and flappin’ gently in t’ breeze. It created quite t’ little traffic jam on t’ street below.
Well, aye, thar was a reason for it. Today be Senior Prank Day and lad did they pull pranks. Last night it took them roughly 2 hours t’ clear every desk and chair out o’ t’ entire high school, lug them up t’ the football stadium, and design a huge skull and crossbones with ‘em.
They also forked t’ fore lawn and parked their cars on t’ sidewalk so that thar was no place t’ walk except gin’erly between t’ fork tines. Interestin’.
Then, thar was t’ vice principal’s office which they decorated with 300 paper cups o’ water on his floor so that t’ only way in t’ his office would be t’ pick up t’ cups as he went—Aye, otherwise step on cups o’ water or kick them o’er. Gar....
Me thinks thar war a few other pranks pulled as well, aye, but I don’t know what they war. I hope they all be allowed t’ graduate after today.
In any case, t’ senior class went dressed as pirates today and they’re all talkin’ like pirates and breakin’ into t’ intercom system roughly every 20 minutes with tunes from Pirates o’ t’ Caribbean. I’d reckon nothin’ much be bein’ accomplished up thar today.
But it’s tradition. And se’eral o’ t’ intrepid staff members were on hand last night t’ make certain nothin’ too untoward happened.
Aye, tis’ good t’ be a pirate.
Walking Maudslay Park
Friday, 1:04 am
Maudslay Park was once the estate grounds of Frederick Moseley, whose 72 roomed mansion was originally named Maudesleigh. The home and 480 acre grounds were built/developed between 1895 and 1910. Somewhere along the way, the estate’s name was shortened to Maudslay. I have yet to find out who Moseley was or what he did, but I assume it was lucrative to have such an enormous estate.
The grounds were designed by landscape architect, Martha Brookes Hutcheson, one of the first female students of landscape architecture at MIT (1900). She also had the distinction of being among the first three female members of the American Society of Landscape Architects. She seemed to do well for herself despite professional condescension from her male colleagues. In 1923 she published a book entitled, The Spirit of the Garden, which received critical acclaim and was a commercial success.
While at Maudesleigh, Hutcheson was responsible for designing the grounds around the 72 room mansion, the entry drive, and the several formal gardens and garden rooms.
Unfortunately, she never received the professional acclaim and fame that some of her male counterparts enjoyed and her work slid into obscurity during the last half of the 20th century. The gardens at Maudslay were allowed to decay and, tragically, the Moseley house was demolished in 1955.
The estate was acquired by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management in 1985 and renamed Maudslay Park.
In 2000, the Garden Conservancy entered into an agreement with the Maudslay State Park Association to help raise funds for the grounds’ rehabilitation. When the Association became aware of Hutcheson’s work on the grounds’ and gardens’ designs, they wanted to rehabilitate and preserve them. In 2001-2002 the Conservancy assisted in the planning effort for the rehabilitation of the gardens. The project is still ongoing.
As I said on Wednesday, it’s a beautiful place in which to walk. These are the sights we see:
* Ever shrinking layer of ice.
* Little bridge crossing a waterfall.
* One of several stone bridges on the property.
One of the corridors designed by Hutcheson.
There are doorways to ‘garden rooms’ along it.
* One of the formal gardens in pretty good repair.
The stairway doesn’t lead to anything currently.
The flowers are beautiful—not sure what they are.
* On some of the photographs I employed the Orton Imagery technique, which is kind of fun, lends a bit of a dreamy look to a photograph, and covers a multitude of sins.
Walking in the park
Wednesday, 10:19 am
Late yesterday afternoon J (JustMe) and I began our walking in the park program. There is a gorgeous state park here in town with uphill and downhill paths and great stretches of trail along the river and through the woods. It’s a beautiful place to walk and, before the end of the year, we should be clocking about a 14 minute mile. (Yes. We will, J!) Not jogging, mind...just a very fast walk that does quite remarkable things to one’s muscles. Having a walking partner helps with the motivation end of things.
Yesterday, however, we noted that several of the trails are still closed to the public while the bald eagles finish their nesting and chick raising. I think the ban lifts on March 31st. Some years ago the eagles decided they liked this particular area along the river and started moving in. Gradually the population has increased and, every once in a while, I’ll see one gliding along the river. Not as often as I’d like, but once in a while. They are beautiful birds and it’s absolutely thrilling to see them fly.
In a couple of days we’ll have access to all the park and the eagles will be off about their business. I hope they’ve had a successful nesting season. It would be nice to hear stories about a new crop of baby eagles fluttering around the river front this spring.
It's another world
Wednesday, 3:08 am
Continuing on with the theme....
I was already astonished after I came across the $9500 pencil the other day (scroll to bottom of the product chart), so the $4200 fountain pen didn’t surprise me all that much, although it certainly seems to be an accident waiting to happen.
But this Conway Stewart fountain pen simply boggles me. Quite beautiful, to be sure, but holy cow. Take out a second mortgage and it can be yours.
It’s all relative, isn’t it? I think the last one is elegant.
Making a journal
Tuesday, 11:12 am
Journaling is about as necessary for me as breathing. The on-paper-with-a-pen (pencil, crayon, color pencil, etc) kind of journaling. It’s something I started doing when I was thirteen years old and has been, with only a few pauses, a constant in my life. Up until about three years ago. That was when I discovered Moleskine notebooks and I developed a sudden and astonishing thing for them. Beyond anything rational, I couldn’t stop touching them, toting them around, opening and closing them, reading about them...everything except writing in them.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I use three of them regularly for various mundane activities. Like my eternal list making and garden planning and as a collection agent for the details I used to scribble on a couple thousand little scraps of paper, which I could never find when I needed to remember something. But for a journal? Wasn’t working. I’ve had a Moleskine journal for three years. In those three years, I’ve written a sum total of 37 pages. Mostly moaning about why I wasn’t writing in my most wonderful Moleskine notebook. Three wasted years!
Well, I read something last week that was like a kick in the pants. The final gist of the article—when something isn’t working, quit doing it. Yeah, but. I wasn’t ready to cast off the Moleskine for which I have an unaccountable obsession. Seriously, it’s a disease. So I thought...well, how about pencils. And pretty drawing pencils and pens and inks. Maybe I could bring some life to the pages of that most wonderful little notebook for which I have that unaccountable obsession.
Nah. Three more pages whining about why I loved the stupid notebook and still wasn’t putting anything in it.
People with pen and paper addictions think in strange and tangled ways.
Finally the words penetrated. When something isn’t working, quit doing it. I had three years of words bottled up and they wanted out. As a remediation, I tucked the lovely, lovely Moleskine out of sight and bought a few 85¢ third grade composition books with cheap pulp paper and I wrote. And wrote and wrote and wrote. Filled one up and started a second one. Then a third. Words poured out and it was sort of like cleaning out my brain’s basement and attic and all the rest of its rooms. Oh, the freedom and the joy.
When that itch had been sufficiently scratched I made another list (in a Moleskine, naturally) of what I expect from a journal, what I want from one. Sort of like this:
1) It has to be impermanent and burnable. You don’t even entertain the thought of burning pricey bound books. Or, horrors, ripping pages out.
2) It has to be permanent. Archival quality paper and inks for the pages that I want to survive.
3) It has to be fountain pen friendly. In fact, I don’t even want to consider whether a pen’s ink will bleed through the paper. Which ever pen I grab has to work. Period.
4) The paper has to be thick. Enough of this paper that I can sneeze through.
5) It has to be an open format into which I can add pages like clippings and print-outs (sometimes I do type a journal entry) or collage creations or photographs or recipes, or the odd ticket stub and event program.
6) It has to have easily rearranged pages. I change my mind a lot.
7) It has to be entirely customize-able. Different page formats and designs as the whim requires. I change my mind a lot.
8) It has to be fun. Enjoyable. A place for me to relax, do the daily mind dump, create, play, try new things, remember the old.
Three words: Loose leaf notebook.
The next issue—what kind of paper to put in it? I selected Southworth 100% cotton, 32# ivory paper. It’ll outlive the next six generations. In theory, anyway. It’s thick stock and accepts fountain pens and markers and gel pens and colored pencils and just about anything I can throw at it. The paper’s finish is smooth and my fountain glides across it. Yum!
For a little personalization, to start things off on the right foot, I designed the journal pages so that I’d have plenty of writing room, yet lots of structure and white space. Unfortunately, without lines on a page, I write uphill and downhill. So, I made a template and laser printed out pages like this:
I added some color with Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils and Gelly Roll gel pens.
Because I change my mind a lot, the newer pages may look entirely different. But that’s the point. This journal is flexible. I can make it whatever I want. Whenever I want. In the back of the binder are a few clear sleeves to stick things in, a few grid pages for diagrams, some acid-free/lignin-free 65# card stock on which to make collages. And a few blank pages on which to do whatever.
As much as I love Moleskine notebooks (OH, I do!), they can’t do all that. Instead of trying to force it, I finally quit trying to make something work that wasn’t. I love my new journal. It does everything I want: it will keep everything I want; will let me get rid of that which I don’t want to keep; allows for mistakes without messing up the entire book; gives me flexibility to experiment and Change My Mind; lets me write, write, write; lets me use lots of color; lets me be creative or not, depending on the day; lets me switch the order of stuff around; lets the journal grow with me. By the end of the year, I’ll have transferred the contents over to a 3” binder and it’ll live happily on the bookshelf, to be pulled off and examined now and then.
The journal will outlive me by several life times and, maybe, someday one of my descendants will get some enjoyment from it, too. I think I’ve finally hit the age where leaving something behind, more than just a gory collection of introspection, is very appealing.
I remember, after my parents died, sorting through their desk. One of the most delightful caches that my brother and I found was a bundled set of papers my mother had saved and tucked away from back in the Great Depression years. Little mundane grocery lists where a loaf of bread was 10¢ and a pork chop was 5¢. In one of her weekly budgets, she noted in the margin that since they’d already used up their $1 of gasoline for the car for the week—their friends were coming over to sit in the car out in front of the house. Just to talk and have fun, sort of like a front porch.
Those are details that we wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t kept the bundle of papers. Stuff that we routinely throw out. Those are the details of life that add flavor and paint mental pictures. That’s what I want to do, too. For me, for the lad, for his children and maybe his grandchildren. He likes the idea, too. Life is short, 100% cotton paper lives on.
The internet is big when...
Friday, 7:19 am
This week I learned that my favorite—and the only—art supply store in town closed a few weeks ago. They reopened in a smaller store this week and only do picture framing now. I asked whhhhy???? He said, “I couldn’t compete with the internet. Everyone’s buying their supplies online.” The nearest art supply store is now in Portsmouth, NH.
Another shop in town, which used to sell Moleskine notebooks, doesn’t carry them anymore. The company increased the minimum order requirement and he doesn’t sell enough to make it worthwhile. “People buy their stuff online anymore.” He’s thinking of retiring and closing his doors, too.
I love the internet, but it is still nice to have the option of seeing products in person before buying. It’s nice to be able to walk into a local shop and walk back out with what you want. No waiting, no shipping and handling fees. Can’t do that with the internet. But this online shopping trend will continue, regardless, and many more little shops will probably close. It’s a good reminder to patronize the local shops before they close their doors.