Thursday, July 28, 2016

Seeking Dead People

{available here}

The Captain is obsessed with genealogy.   He has traced our family histories,  watches every genealogy show on TV  (yes, that's right - there ARE shows about genealogy), and we have all contributed DNA so he  can trace our ancestors' migrations across the continents  (or so Homeland Security or the NSA can keep track of us in their databases).   Since he puts up with my obsessions, which are legion,  I try to humor what I can his  "certified old man  hobby".

Hence a trip to a local cemetery to search for a local ancestor.

As you can see, this is a cemetery from the Pilgrim  era.   Many of the stones are broken and many of the engravings are worn away.   These folks were a serious lot and lived a hard and often short life.  One family plot had parents and their three daughters who died at 3 , 8, and 20 years old.

Some of the stones are still legible, and the inscriptions are heavy on the religious fervor of the day:

"Here lyes Interred the body of the Revd. MR NATHANIEL GOOKIN M.A. & Late the Pastor of the 1st Church of CHRIST in HAMPTON, who died Augt. 25th. MDCCXXXIV in the 48th. Year of his Age, & the 27th. of his Ministry. He was A Judicious DIVINE, A Celebrated Preacher, A most Vigilant & faithfull PASTOR, a bright Ornament Of Learning and RELIGION & An excellent Pattern of PIETY, CHARITY, & HOSPITALITY"

"In memory of Reverend Ebenezer Thayer, who for nearly twenty-six years dispensed the bread of life to the S"ociety in this place and on September 6th 1792 fell asleep in Jesus, supported by the Christian hope of a resurrection to eternal life. AE 58 "While o'er this modest stone religion weeps, Beneath an humble, cheerful Christian sleeps, Sober, Learned, free from care and strife, He fill'd the useful offices of Life; Admired, endeared as Husband, Father, Friend, Peace bless'd his days and innocence his end; Blameless throughout, his worth by all approv'd, True to his charge, and by his people lov'd, He liv'd to make his hearers' faith abound, And died that his own virtue might be crown'd."

"In Memory of Mr. John Moulton, who died March 4th, 1794 aged 45 Years "In his death, his Consort has Lost an affectionate & Loving Husband; his sisters a kind & friendly Brother; & the publick a useful member of society & one courteous & hospitable to strangers."  We noticed several stones with either the husband or wife listed as "consort" which apparently was used to mean spouse.  It seemed odd that the Puritans would be announcing a less than sanctioned relationship!

Not even an old cemetery is safe from The Google!

While he was looking for his ancestor,  I was just appreciating the headstones.   

This weird alien-like head , the Death's Head,  is common in stones of this era.   The Puritans were a cheerful lot - this head symbolized mortality and got around the prohibition of creating religious images that looked like real people.

The stones were shaped like headboards with the high center arc and smaller ones on each side.  This was supposed to symbolize  the headboard for your final sleep.   

This one isn't so dark - the face looks more human, less alien and there are flowers and flourishes- how worldly !  This is about the time of the Great Awakening when things lightened up for the Puritans - less gloom and doom.

 I am fascinated by the lichen growth on the stones.


Many have a green lacy growth, but  there  was this beauty nearly covered with white lichen and green lacy lichen along the bottom.

I did a little research on lichens, a combination of algae and fungus that grow slowly -- about a millimeter a year.   They can  eat away at the engraving over time.    I discovered that there is a British Lichen Society (why are we not surprised?) that is dedicated to the preservation of lichens.    Cleaning stones to remove the lichens damages both the stones and the lichens - and the British Lichen Society is having none of that!

The Captain didn't find his long-lost, but added to another of his obsession - factoids - this time  about headstones and lichens .  You know how often both come up in everyday  conversation  !

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's Been a Busy Summer !

It's been a busy few weeks around here - this wonderful event happened:

Our youngest son got married!  (More on that later!)  Lots of family events and festivities.

Amazing breakfast at Elmer's General Store in Ashfield, Massachusetts.

The Texas grands at their Cape rental.

Ice cream with our Montana Grand.

My sister came from Florida for the wedding and we hit the seacoast tourist spots.

What a wonderful few weeks!   Once the professional pics come in, I'll share some of the special, beautiful moments.   I didn't take many pics, wanting to savor each second without worrying about a picture composition and anyway, the few I did take are pretty blurry !  Shaking with love and excitement, I guess.


Fortunately the gardens just did their thing this year.  

Crookneck loosestrife - I love it even though it is seriously invasive.  I just pull out the ones that crop up where I don't want them .   I also discovered that planting them in a a bottomless pot sunk in the ground keeps them in check.

Japanese painted fern

The bees are loving the bee balm.

A late-blooming volunteer foxglove.

Echinacea - another favorite

Life is good!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Gelli Printed Tape Stickers

I've been playing in my art room, mostly making embellishments .    I saw this video on the Gelli Arts site and immediately gave it a go  - whoo-ee- what fun!

The technique is simple but genius.   Spread acrylic paint onto Gelli plate,  add marks with acrylic paint ,  leaving some areas unpainted,  letting each  paint application dry completely , then place packing tape over the painted design and lift off the painted design.  You then either dust the unpainted, sticky surface with pigment powder or press some text paper onto it or both.    Watch the video for details , but it's super easy.   Pretty sure you could use regular tape to get narrower strips or even a sheet of clear contact paper to get one huge sticker- more options to try.

So here is my painted Gelli plate.  This is different than regular Gelli printing - it is important to let each color dry completely before adding the next.    You will notice some areas that have no paint - also important.    Make designs, marks whatever on the dried paint, then let those marks dry completely.

Here are some of my fancy mark-making tools- a paper tube,  a silicone basting brush from the Dollar Store, a hand-made cork stamp, a whisk from the Dollar store , and the cap from an embossing marker.   

Packing tape strips laid down on the plate and lifted off - here they are in all their painty goodness.

And here they are after dusting the sticky side with Perfect Pearls - I used Blue Patina and gold.   I also stuck down a few strips of book paper.   The areas without paint take up the Perfect Pearls and provide a space to add some text (or sheet music) bits of paper.   The pigment powder will also fill in around the painted areas, adding a great shimmer.

I'm going to be cutting these into thinner strips and some shapes - such fun !

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Tower Hill Gardens

Winters are long and dreary here in the Northeast, so when things start to green up, we go a bit overboard, leaving no garden store or garden unvisited.

This week my friend  Amazing Grace and I went to Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.  In 1986, the Worcester County Historical Society began work on the 132 acre Tower Hill Farm and transformed it into the botanic gardens.  (I got stuck on why the garden is called "botanic"- what else would a garden be?   Turns out that while plants may be wild and free, the folks in charge have R.U.L.E.S. and Botanic Gardens Conservation International {seriously!}  has set the definition for a botanic garden.  It's dull, but if you must, you can read it here.)

The site is beautiful, overlooking the Wachusett reservoir.  The grounds and gardens are meticulously maintained, wth plenty of benches for sitting and soaking in the pretties.   Here we are, at the Garden cafe after a great lunch.

We started  with this amazing wall of plants- annuals, perennials, grasses, lettuces and herbs - so lovely.

A  couple of close-ups of the wall.   The wall is a grid of three inch rectangular pots in  a frame.   This makes for a lush solid wall of colors and textures.  I've seen a much less grand version done with wood pallets - it's on my to-do after seeing this one.

Love the little succulents in the stone fireplace.

I just bought a weigela for $3.00 from a nursery store's Death Row - wonder how long it will take to turn into this beauty.

 Winter?   What winter?    Everything is green and blossoming and life is good.

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