Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
It looks as though I kinda fell off the face of the earth some time in late August.
That sounds about right, time-wise, given the fact that, in early September, my cardiologist started talking to me about open-heart surgery (a septal myectomy, to be exact) as the next step in trying to get a handle on the severe symptoms—shortness of breath, dizziness, extreme fatigue, and lack of stamina—I'd been experiencing for the past couple of years. Seems as if my heart condition (a genetic one, called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM) was getting worse and worse, and seriously affecting my quality of life.
Well, long story short, after a roller-coaster of an emotional ride trying to figure out what I should—HAD!—to do, I underwent surgery in early November, and am now recuperating—slowly but surely. I hope to post more on my experience in the weeks ahead. Until then, please know that it's good to be back (to be alive!) and I'm looking forward to all the possibilities the future might hold.
Here's to a healthy and happy 2010!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Now, we are a crafty, creative bunch for sure. As I type: my step-mom is making a quilt; my sister is "crocheting like a madwoman" as I understand it, working on a little oufit; my brother, cabinet-maker extraordinaire, is working on a wooden box which I'm sure will be a treasured family heirloom some day; a couple of my neices are working on blankets; and my other sister (the grandmother-to-be) is sewing everything under the sun—except for baby bibs, 'cuz that's what I promised to make. (She is a professional seamstress, and costume designer, and has the most amazing fabric stash I have ever seen! But since she's in FL and I'm in NH, I had to hit up the fabric store...)
My goal was simple: I had eight weeks to make seven bibs, one for each day of the week. But then, after drooling over all those "quilter's quarters" at the fabric store, and having a tough time narrowing my selection down to only seven prints, I decided I'd make the bibs reversible, and picked out 14 instead. I figured I could mix and match the left over scraps for appliques, ruffles, and such. I didn't have a pattern, so I bought an 89 cent bib, scanned it into my computer, and traced it in Illustrator. I added a seam allowance and printed out a template. I was ready to roll....
My head was swimming with ideas, so I dove right in. Now, I am no professional seamstress, and sometimes my creativity gets the best of me on projects. On the first bib, I got totally carried away making applique flower petals at the neckline (so when it's on, the baby's head looks like the center of a flower). It is so-o-o cute, but it took me three weeks to complete! (I don't have a whole lot of spare time between running a business, chairing a non-profit, planning a remodel of a second home, and basic family & household obligations....)
Down to the Wire
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Who doesn't love bacon? (Well, I know a couple of people who don't, but I always tell them they're crazy….) I even wrote a short story about bacon once—actually bacon and religion, if you can believe it. It was an excercise for a writing class I was taking. (Sorry, but I'm not quite ready to share that here, folks. Maybe some other time…)
A Virtual Side of Bacon
Anyway, when you visit bacolicio.us, you'll see how easy it is to add a rasher of bacon to your favorite website—too much fun! (Go ahead, give it a try. It only takes about as long as zapping a strip or two of that pre-cooked stuff in the microwave does.) Now if they could only capture that smell somehow…mmmm, bacon!
PS: For you true bacon enthusiasts, check out Bacon Today! :)
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Oh, the Irony!
This morning I came across an interesting online article at The Consumerist, heralding back to the simpler times of yesteryear, and remembering some of the ad campaigns which ran, toting life's most modern conveniences: Mother's Little Helpers? Lead Paint? Asbestos? It's all there—and more…read on.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I've just returned from a long weekend in Los Angeles, CA, which is, pretty much, located on the exact opposite corner of the US from where I live (and similarly, is an exact opposite to the type of place I call home, here in New Hampshire).
Despite claims by folks we chatted with, that "they were everywhere," I didn't see a single celebrity all weekend. (Of course, I'm not much of a "star gazer" anyway, so it is entirely possible that I could have bumped right into one without having any idea who they were! :) And, admittedly, we didn't actually spend any time in Hollywood itself—nor did we go anywhere near Burbank….
This was my first visit to LA (other than passing thru LAX on journeys elsewhere). My SO had business to attend to the first two days, so I mostly relaxed poolside at our hotel (or hid away in a spare office in Century City) and caught up on some reading. When the work day was done, we drank Mai Tai's at Trader Vic's and enjoyed a delicious meal at Wolfgang Puck's at LA Live one evening, then dined on sushi and took in breathtaking views of the city from the famous Yamashiro Restaurant, perched high in the Hollywood Hills, the next. We took a spin down Rodeo Drive and Sunset Boulevard, then left Beverly Hills to head down the Pacific Coast Highway to Manhattan Beach. Checked out Harbor Boulevard and the pier, then ventured further down to Redondo Beach, where we sat oceanside at Joe's Crab Shack for some fresh shellfood and cold beers after strolling the ocean walk. We were just in time for an outdoor concert on the boardwalk (featuring Open Wide, an "all-dentist band"), followed by a gorgeous pacific sunset.
It was one of those whirlwind trips, and just as I was getting used to West Coast time, we were flying back east, only to confuse my internal clock all over again. All in all, we had a wonderful time on our brief tour of LA, and I'd love to return some day to see more of what the City of Angels has to offer.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I've always wanted to visit Seattle (almost made it in May, when my SO was traveling there on business, but one of those pesky paying jobs I get from time-to-time got in the way....). Anyway, now that I know Seattle's got a rotating ampersand sculpture (how awesome is that?!?), I figure getting there has gotta be my destiny now!
Click on the photo or the link to enjoy a "short long photo" of the ampersand by Striatic, found on Flickr. (Note the beautiful lighting and red-against-gray colorscape—very nice.) See you in Seattle some day...look for me by the neon red ampersand!
Monday, July 6, 2009
Okay, I'm "easing back into things" here at the studio after a much needed long weekend of fun visiting friends and family down on Long Island (in the sun, no less!) So I couldn't resist taking a stab at this game I came across this morning on one of my favorite blogs, I Love Typography, called "The Rather Difficult Font Game." (And hey, it's still work-related: I'm honing my type identification skills, right?!?)
Now, I've been a typophile since way back in Junior High, and used to think I knew a thing or two about type identification. But lately, with all the new foundaries emerging, and programs which let folks design and sell their own fonts, I'm not always quick to recognize a new font I come across, and I was starting to wonder whether or not I was still as "up on things" as I used to be.... Well, I'm happy to report that I've still got it. (Check out the Rather Impressive Hall of Fame top scorer, above—it's me! :) There were only two fonts I missed (aarrgghh!). I only played one round, and it says the fonts change each time you play, but I figured, why mess with success? I'm in the number one spot (for now anyway), so I'll leave it alone.
The game is "rather fun" though (fun for type lovers anyway). Give it a try here. Then, get back to work!
Monday, June 29, 2009
Have you been to the Newmarket Farmers' Market yet? (What's that? You hadn't heard that there was a farmer's market here in Newmarket!?! Well, it's been mentioned on my blog a time or two, and you can learn a lot more about it over at Newmarket Happenings, the Lamprey Arts & Culture Alliance's blog.) Local farmers and vendors offer a terrific selection of fresh, locally-produced foods—and other great stuff!—every Saturday morning from 9 AM–1 PM (no market on July 4) in the parking lot of the historic Stone Church meeting house. You've got to check it out!
And, of course, if you have been, you already know what a great little market we've got here in town. So I shouldn't have to ask you twice, then, to give them your vote. (Just click on the graphic below.)
By clicking on the graphic (above), you'll be connected to "care2care," an organization who, along with "Local Harvest," is running a contest amongst farmers' markets to promote fresh, local, healthy foods. The winning farmers' market (that is, the one with the most votes) wins a $5,000 cash prize! All you have to do to is give the Newmarket Farmers' Market (Newmarket, NH) your vote. It's quick and painless, with no strings attached—and it could help the Newmarket Farmers' Market to win $5000! Please vote today (and tell your friends)!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A Beautifully Designed Anicillary Character Gives Me Pause
Yes, it's true, the name of my business, Ampers&® Studio, is centered around, and includes, an ampersand (&) character. Not so surprising. I am, after all, a typographer. And what typographer doesn't love ampersands? I've written about them here.
But in this instance, the letterform giving me pause is that third-order reference mark used in punctuation, a.k.a. the double dagger (‡), pictured here in a graphic I came across on Typography.com. (And isn't it lovely?) The graphic accompanies an article about Reference Marks:
"Daggers come from that archipelago of typographic symbols known as reference marks, which refer readers elsewhere for explanatory or exegetic notes. The traditional first-order reference mark is the asterisk (*)…."
And that, my friends, makes fascinating reading for typography fanatics such as myself (seriously). If you love type, too, you might enjoy reading more from H&FJ News' article, House of Flying Reference Marks, or Quillon & Choil, here.*
A Dire Dagger Dillema
This glyph, in particular, happened to catch my eye because of a situation in a recent project I'd been working on. You see, an asterisk had already been used within the project's text, as had the dagger (the second-order reference mark). So when my client requested to add in a third reference set, I used a double dagger, which is standard operating procedure in typography.
Well, as it happens, the dagger had been used to indicate those deceased individuals mentioned within the text (which, if you think about it, is kind of ironic...). Anyway, to use the double dagger as a reference for a distinguished position held, even though proper, somehow didn't seem right. Further, it was difficult to tell who had been honored and who had passed on! (This would not do at all.) So instead, I threw the rules of typography right out the window (gasp!), and went with a lovely lozenge or diamond (◊), which seems like a much more distinguished mark to use for signifying a distinguished position. So forgive me, my mentors—who taught me the differences between, and proper usage of, EM- EN- and regular ol' dashes—I know the situation called for a double dagger, but "sometimes you just gotta do whatcha gotta do, eh?"
*Check out the asterisked bit at the end of H&FJ's article, an advisory notice from the New Oxford English Dictionary on pronunciation. (Don't you just love it? :)
Friday, June 12, 2009
Candace Reed Stella Returns
Only recently returned from a trip to Ireland, local artist-teacher Candace Reed Stella has been inspired—okay, and perhaps challenged a bit, by yours truly when I asked her if she could handle an impromptu show for our upcoming "NH Wines" tasting/educational event ;)—to create a series of small canvases based on her journey. This will be her second solo show here at Ampers&.
The brushes must be a-flyin' over at Candace's because in the last couple of weeks she has painted and posted photos of several gorgeous pieces on her blog, that are hauntingly beautiful in their simplicity of palette and capture the true spirit of the Irish countryside perfectly. I've been fortunate to have visited Ireland a few times, and I found my mind pleasantly drifting back over the western coast of Ireland when I saw her new canvases.
Show Opens June 20 (sneak preview on 6/19)
In celebration of summer's arrival, Candace's exhibit officially opens on Saturday, 6/20, from 11-2 PM, with light refreshments offered. This coincides nicely with the grand opening of the Newmarket Farmers' Market (every Sat, 9-1, in the parking lot of the historic Stone Church Meeting House) and the kick-off of the Music on Main Street series—now in its second season (with live music by local musicians, every Sat. through Labor Day, from 11-2 PM at the bandstand downtown).
A sneak preview of Candace's works (and hence, my aforementioned "challenge" to Candace) is afforded those guests who sign up to attend a very special NH Wines wine tasting/educational event, featuring local wine expert Carla Snow, CSW. Click here for more info on Carla's new book: Wine & Dine with New Hampshire, featuring six NH wineries.
The show will run through Thursday, July 2, in the gallery at Ampers&, with weekday hours from 2-6 PM each T, W, & Th afternoon. Hope to see you there!
Friday, June 5, 2009
Detail of large format painting, by Kendra Mongeon
Detail of photo collage, by Kalie Goodwin
The second annual student portfolio review—sponsored by the Lamprey Arts & Culture Alliance (LACA)—is held each year to honor artistically-inclined members of Newmarket HS's graduating class. In addition to showcasing their works—including ceramics, photography, paintings, prints, and charcoals—participating students get a chance to win a $100 check from LACA, towards the purchase of art supplies. This year's lucky winner, selected in a random drawing, was Dana Wergen.
A happy D. Wergen, holding her $100 check,
with art instructor A. Blake
Chock full of colorful, creative expressions by twelve budding artists, this show is truly a feast for the eyes and senses. Participating Seniors include: Danielle Dodds, attending Great Bay Community College to study Liberal Arts/Vet Tech; Kaylie Goodwin, attending New England School of Photography to study Portraiture; Jordan Greenfield, attending University of Vermont to study Nursing, with a minor in Art; Jaclyn Jensen, attending Boston College, with an undeclared major; Kendra Mongeon, attending Great Bay Community College to study Liberal Arts; Emily Roulo, attending the New England Institute of Art to study Graphic Design; James Rosa, attending Marine Maritime Academy to study Marine Engineering; Samantha Scott, attending Great Bay Community College to study Vet Tech, with a minor in Art; Michael Sheehan, attending Great Bay Community College to study Art Education; Emily Small, applying to Emerson College to study Film Production; Danarae Wergen, attending Great Bay Community College; and Lindsey Wood, attending Sage College of Albany to study Graphic Design.
Props must go to Ms. Annette Blake—NHS Art Teacher extraordinaire—and her crew of friendly volunteers who came in on Thursday after school and, in a flurry of activity, worked together to install the show in record time. Last night we held a reception for family, friends, and neighbors, and with over 70 people in attendance, the gallery was a bustling hub of happy, smiling visitors—all gathered together for a pleasant evening of community celebration.
Dont' miss out: stop by next week (open T-W-TH afternoons, from 2-6 PM each day) to check out these talented students' artwork—and be inspired!
At the reception, on June 4th
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Carla Snow Returns to Ampers&
On Friday, June 19th (7–9 PM), the Lamprey Arts & Culture Alliance will host another of their popular wine tasting/educational events, with Carla Snow, CSW, of A Grape Affair, here in the gallery at Ampers&.
Snow has written a new book, Wine & Dine with New Hampshire, offering an in-depth look at New Hampshire's award-winning wines, ciders, and meads, and the pioneer companies who create them: Candia Vineyards, Farnum Hill Ciders, Flag Hill Winery and Distillery, Jewell Towne Vineyards, LaBelle Winery, Piscassic Pond Winery, and Zorvino Vineyards. Full of wonderful photography, interesting info on wineries—located right here in New Hampshire!—and a recipe section, too, it makes a terrific gift for wine enthusiasts and NH natives alike. Copies will be available at the tasting for purchase ($19.95) and signing by the author.
At the LACA event, Carla will present from her book and share six samples for tasting; cost is $28 per person, including samples, wine/cheese, and two hours of interesting and entertaining discussion on NH Wineries. Call 659-6823 or 969-4768 for reservations.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This past weekend, I ran into some friends I hadn't seen in quite some time, and they congratulated me on my recent web site award. My confused reply, "What are you talking about?"
Needless to say, I was curious, and they didn't have much more info, as they had heard it from another mutual friend of ours.... So, when I got back to the office this morning, I did a Google search, to see what I could find. (I didn't find any mention of an award, so if someone knows more about that, please share.) What I did find though, was that, apparently, back in February of this year, my website had been reviewed in a local newspaper (see the review online at seacoastonline.com), and scored a respectable 17.5 out of 20. (Who knew?!?)
Anyway, thank you John Shore, for your kind words. It's always nice to be recognized and to hear that someone notices and appreciates your design efforts. Cheers!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
New Hampshire Natives
Who doesn't love the wonderfully fragrant bouquet of lilacs, wafting on the breezes across New Hampshire, in the month of May? Always one of my favorite flowers (so lacy and delicate, in varying shades of one of my favorite colors!), each spring I eagerly await the budding of the lilac bush outside our home, transplanted from a neighbor's yard—24 years ago—in celebration of our first home and the birth of our first son.
There's nothing quite like sitting out on the porch on a sunny day, and taking in that familiar fragrance carried on the warm spring breeze. My whole family looks forward to this small window of time (two weeks at most—and early this year!) when we can throw open the windows and let the heady fragrance in; we hack off a few glorious bunches for good measure, and bring them inside, allowing their luscious scent to seep from room to room. It's a comfort, and a reminder—of family, of home, and of childhood memories.
I'm a New Hampshire girl (born and raised and forever true). When I was young, we used to sing a happy song about NH and lilacs at summer camp, which captures the feeling perfectly:
I want to wake up, in the morning,
where the purple lilacs grow;
where the sun comes a peepin'
into where I'm a sleepin'
and the songbirds say, "hello!"
I want to wander, through the wild woods,
where the fragrant breezes blow,
and drift back, through New Hampshire,
where the purple lilacs grow.
I couldn't have put it better myself.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Did You Know…?
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 was painted by American artist James M. Whistler in 1871. However, the sensibilities of its Victorian-era viewing audience simply could not accept what was apparently a portrait being referred to as a mere "arrangement"—particularly as it was of his own mother! Thus the explanatory "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" was added and Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist's Mother became the new official title. It was from this revised title that the work acquired its popular (albeit incorrect) colloquial name, Whistler's Mother.
Celebrate Mom! Celebrate Spring!
There's been a flurry of activity at the gallery this week, in preparation for an upcoming special exhibition, our own "Arrangements in Grey and Black," which will feature a collection of black & white photography by Seacoast Camera Club members, alongside a selection of colorful floral shots by Russ Simon. The exhibit (in honor of Whistler's mother—and moms everywhere) will be the anchor show for the Lamprey Arts & Culture Alliance's 4th annual Mothers Day ArtWalk celebration (Sat & Sun, May 9 & 10) in downtown Newmarket.
The ArtWalk features business specials being offered by ten downtown merchants (all of whom will be displaying student artwork in their establishments); live music by the BrandyLeif Quartet at the bandstand on Saturday (12-3); free mimosas & pastries (while they last) at the gallery at Ampers&—and 10% off all merchandise (12-3 both days); and, weather permitting, easel artists set up along Main Street.
If you're in the area, swing on in to town and check it out!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tired gray piles
of granular snow
sit slumped by the roadside
waiting to melt
in the warm noonday sun.
leaves of crocus
poke their heads up
through the soil.
With each day,
the piles recede
and the grasslike blades
the snow does melt
and the crocus do
as if to say,
I was inspired by April's being National Poetry Month, and by the crocus photos I took recently, and the unseasonably warm & sunny weather we've been having of late, to write and post this poem today.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
LACA's Spoken Word
Last week I planned to attend the April installment of the Lamprey Arts & Culture Alliance's Spoken Word, and to take a photo or two for mine and LACA's blog while I was there.
As you'll notice, there are no poetry reading photos posted here. That's because I was at work on a design project (totally immersed, in what I call "the zone") and completely lost track of time—again. Fortunately, I finally remembered where I was supposed to be, closed up shop, and dashed across the street; arriving in time—camera in hand, even!—to enjoy the last hour or so of readings. Not so fortunately, I forgot to bring along the camera's memory stick.
How ironic (and yet pathetic at the same time! :)
The poetry reading was awesome, however. Such a talented (and fun) group of individuals! And the surprising thing is, if you happened upon most of them on the street, you'd never guess that they wrote poetry. So if you find yourself with some free time on the second Thursday night of the month, make your way to Crackskull's in downtown Newmarket, NH, grab yourself a chai tea, pull up a chair and have a listen. You'll be in for a treat. Better still, bring along one of your own written creations—or a favorite poem by another poet; everyone is welcome and encouraged to share.
Poetry on the fly
So, since I didn't get to put up photos from our Spoken Word, check out this wonderful "street poems" video shot in Dublin—what fun!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Created in the plein air style, by University of New Hampshire Fine Art Graduates Jason Bombaci (BFA '07) and Kathi Smith (MFA '08), the show is a wonderful combination of works from an art history/art study class they attended in Italy during the summer of 2008.
Detail of Georgia's Window by Jason Bombaci
Pink Balcony by Kathi Smith
It seems no one can resist the juxtaposition of Bombaci's warm and cool color palettes and his uncanny ability to portray light and shadow in his works. Or Smith's seemingly effortless and spontaneous brush work in response to changing light. Both artists have sold paintings from the show—six in total, which is remarkable given the current economy. As always, our little non-profit gallery is grateful for the public's show of support for the arts in our community.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
…and I saw a Robin the other day. Two telltale signs that spring has, indeed, arrived here in New Hampshire.* Since our neighbors across the way (those who live on "the sunny side of the street") already had daffodils in bloom while we still had two-foot snow piles, we had my son rake out the piles a bit, to help with the melting. And lo and behold! There were the crocus poking out to greet us—in all their purple and yellow glory.
First signs of spring
Now I am itching to get into my gardens, clean out the beds, divide some overgrown perennials, put out the ornaments, spread the mulch, plant the annuals...
On Monday morning, I raked and hauled leaves out of one half of one bed before the rain came. It was about all I could handle anyway, before being totally out of energy and breath (and having to get ready for work). At this rate, it's looking like it could take me a while to get them all ready for spring planting, but that's fine with me. It's the simple act of being out there, puttering about, that's the real joy of having a garden in the first place. So, welcome spring!
Oh, sunny day!
*I would be remiss not to add that winter is my favorite season and as much as I like playing in my garden, I, for one, am not happy to see the snow go. You see, I am an avid snowboarder and, even though it's spring on the Seacoast, there's still plenty of snow up on the slopes. Cannon got four inches last weekend and their season is still going strong. Plus, next weekend is the annual Reggae Fest at Sugarloaf (always a good time, mon!). So, even though I welcome spring on the one hand, I still say "let it snow!" :)