Thursday, April 26, 2012

Windows . . .

Not talking about Windows vs. Mac. Just talking about bare windows and how tiring it's been to be using paper shades. I had been waiting for the last of six windows to be replaced before deciding on my window treatments. The six paper shades for ten bucks were getting very tired looking and I was getting very tired of lifting them up and clipping them with a plastic clip and dropping them down in the evenings for privacy. Finally the sixth window was put in about 10 days ago. Since the pocket book is still quite skinny I decided to make this a DIY (do it yourself) project. I measured each window's width three times (top, middle, bottom) since nothing's ever square. I headed off to the Home Depot but couldn't find anyone to help me so I drove a little further down the road to Lowe's and there was Mary and her miraculous Levolor cutting machine. I picked out the faux wood fruitwood color and she trimmed each blind. I was left with the task of installing them and shortening them. You have to remove the extra slats. I practiced on the first window and the rest were easy and now my writing room and office look great!

Of course, I didn't run home and tackle this job immediately. I did what I often do: I procrastinate.
I knew that the task was going to require great patience and concentration so I took a nap to recharge myself. After a couple of hours I got up,
turned on my streaming radio channel of Groove Salad (Soma FM) through my computer and tackled the first shade. Then the next, and the next, and so on until all six were installed. It sure makes the place feel more finished and it's very easy to open and close the slats instead of having to fold up the paper shades each day. I had originally planned to buy white faux blinds but I didn't have a deep enough inset so the head rails would be sticking out so I bought the 1.5" slates in the fruitwood color which really adds tremendous warmth to the room.

I had always assumed that I would hire someone to do the measure and that I would have to special order the shades, but the powerful Lowe's Levolor special computerized cutter in the hands of Mary cut through the slats and headers flawlessly. Smooth cuts. And I didn't have to pay for shipping or installation since I was able to do it by myself with the help of some lively music. The cost of the six windows was less than $300!
Here's a picture of Mary from Lowes standing beside the Levolor cutting machine. Everything is self contained and sealed off once the cutter starts and there's no need of safety goggles.

 And here's a shot of the the room where I teach writing classes. There was bright light outside when I took the pictures so you really can't see the color of the blinds very well but you can see how they finish off the room.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Scenes of Boston.

Not much to say today in the midst of this idyllic weather when everything is bursting forth with newborn greenery and blossoming so I thought I'd share a few shots from my travels around Back Bay and the Fenway the last couple of days. Enjoy.
Ukelele playing Rick in the luscious lair of his Fenway Victory Garden plot.
The army of Pedicabs are out in high style to bring folks to Fenway Park or anywhere else. They're free; you offer a tip and that's how they make their living.
Sunday brunch at Sonsei along Newbury Street. Elegant. Cheerfully noisy.
Great art on the walls. Tasty fare that pleasantly fills the gut but doesn't empty out the pocketbook.
Under the blossoms of a tree in the middle of Fenway Victory Gardens.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A little known Boston/Japan Connection: Anime Boston

If you found yourself strolling around Back Bay near the Hynes Convention Center this weekend, April 6 through 8, you might think it was an early Halloween. Not. Thousands of animation enthusiasts convene every year in Boston to celebrate and imitate the animated characters they've grown to love. This is the 10th year of Anime Boston. The convention presents popular events which include a masquerade, an anime music video contest, video programming rooms, an artists' alley and art show, karaoke, game shows, video games, manga library (manga is the Japanese word for "comics/cartoons"), and dances and balls and industry representatives. Here are some of the characters I saw walking around the city today.
Just looking at the couple at the right you would think that they came as a pair: Kei Kishimoto, left, and Kei Kurono. They hail from two different parts of the state and met at the conference.

Some other characters were G-Dragon and Scootaloo as well as two computer quasi human characters, Freya Chi and Chobits.

That's what I love about walking around Boston. I never know what convention is in town and what surprises my eye will take in, surprises and culture shocks that wake up my mind. Seeing so many people at play, honoring imaginary worlds, and characters with super powers put me in a very happy mood.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gloucester Treasure: Born to Dance . . . Movement in Slate at Tessera Tile and Stone

Made entirely of slate gathered from around the world by ceramic and stone artist Eric Rattan and reminiscent of the movement, scale, and passion of Picasso's Guernica, this 12' w x 8' h triptych (Guernica is 25'w x 11'h) Born to Dance was not something I was expecting to see when I walked into Tessera Tile and Stone on Bass Avenue in Gloucester this afternoon. 

Molly Andrew of Tessera
Tile with her hands on the
warm countertop that
demonstrates to the touch
the comfort of radiant
heat under tile.

My Cape Ann painter friend Anna Comolli had told me that I would see materials at Tessera Tile that I wouldn't see anywhere else and she was right. Not only do Molly Andrews and Dennis Bryant have a full range of exquisite tiles in glass, porcelain, and ceramic, they attract and represent the work of accomplished artists like Eric.

To extract a piece from Eric's website, "The Indian, Chinese, Brazilian and Pennsylvania slate mosaic Born To Dance was created from slate, garnets, and micaceous slates. The mosaic loosely portrays the teachings of Paracelsus, a sixteenth century alchemist, philosopher, mystic, astronomer and physician. The mosaic also reflects the commonality and potentiality of the components of our universe. In this case, the slates coming out of the ground closely relate to our above ground earthly environs and to what we see in the sky . . . Depending on the size of the commission, 300 to 2000 stones are washed and sealed, then scattered at random about the room. It is a challenging process to explain that the picture is already there on the rocks: creative selection will allow the picture to develop and reveal itself, piece by piece. It involves watching and listening so that the stones can guide the picture along using the artists hand and eye to audition each stone and execute an image that is preconceived but not completely finished or assembled. No preliminary sketches are made or offered."

It was very clear to me after spending just a few moments in Tessera Tile and Stone that Molly and Dennis are artists themselves, dedicated to creating beauty not only in every display in their showroom but also as catalysts for creativity in the community. They offer workshops, family craft days, and design support so that customers can Dream • Design • Create their way to tile and stone solutions that express the individual style and aesthetic of each customer. Vision to creation. So the next time you've got a flooring, wall, or back splash to tackle, you should drive up to Gloucester and get inspired!

Tessera Tile and Stone is located at 90 Bass Avenue, Gloucester MA 01930, Telephone: 978-515-7223

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Change is good for its own sake . . . especially when it comes from the reliable voice of word-of-mouth referrals.

Sometimes the best antidote to the blahs is to change something. Maybe it's re-arranging the furniture, throwing something out you no longer need or want. Maybe it's just taking in the change of the seasons, the buds, the gentle flow in the air.
For me, this week it was a hair cut. You can see the new look in my profile picture on this blog. Not only was the haircut a change, but the way I did it was a change, too. Didn't go to a mainstream salon, but instead I chose the in-home salon of Nancy Sposato, Licensed Acupuncturist, Hair Designer, Sculptor. No waiting to shuffle from chair to chair leafing through magazines until it's my turn. Nancy works on one person at a time, whether upstairs in her acupuncture studio space, or downstairs in her private salon complete with professional shampoo sink, Goldwell color formulas, and the same mirrors you'd expect in any salon.

Once I grew past the hair straightening dictates of the 60s, I finally embraced my naturally curly hair in the 70s and 80s. Since then, I've hated to use a hair dryer, pulling out my curls. Any cut that requires that work is not for me. Nancy totally understood my desire for a wash-and-wear style that required no ironing. And that's exactly what she gave me and I love it. Now there's no need pull my hair up and worry about it wet and dripping after hot yoga class. The hotter it gets, the curlier I go.
A little touch of elegance in the stairwell just outside of Nancy's in-home salon.
Nancy didn't push any hair products on me either. She's a great believer in less is more. Part of an underground multi-preneur generation who does what's needed to flourish, she combines talents and resources. With her sculptor's eye, trained at Mass Art, Nancy believes all her interests and talents are connected; to choose one over the others isn't necessary. Although she has a website for her acupuncture business, I never would have found her if it weren't for the power of word-of-mouth referrals. I saw someone's hair I liked, asked her who had cut it and she told me about Nancy and her in-house salon. Without high end designer salon prices, Nancy gave me a designer cut at an affordable price and I'm sure I'll go back for regular trims.

Or maybe the next time I'll try one of Nancy's Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture Treatments that is designed to stimulate Qi and blood flow to the face reducing the visible signs of aging. For now I'm sticking with the new "do." One of Mother Nature's gifts to us mature adults is waning eyesight. That's my own mental Facial Rejuvenation trick. It sure eliminates the fine wrinkles from view. A generous blurring lens that erases the years' markers when I keep my reading glasses off to put my make up on.