Thursday, April 30, 2009

My friend George Landino

My friend George Landino does some amazing stuff. First, he is an amazing artist, drawing and painting many wonderfully whimsical things - but more about that in some other blog entry. We have been craft show friends for many years, and though I haven't seen him in person in several years, we still keep in touch. The other day he sent me the above piece. Hand lettered in pencil for the original, and hand cut on a jig saw! If you are not familiar with jig saws, they can do amazing things in the hands of a skilled person, but every time you want to do an "inside" cut - an area with no direct connection to the edge - you have to drill a small hole, remove the tiny blade, insert it through the hole, fasten it into the saw, cut what you want to cut, remove the blade, insert it in the next hole, fasten it into the saw, ---- you get the idea. In this case - 277 times unless I skipped a beat somewhere along the line?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maya Wednesday!

Having a granddaughter makes you walk around the neighborhood, and see things you probably would have missed - even riding a bike!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Very early tomatoes!

This is a nice one to click on for a bigger view?

Last fall I blogged about a tomato that when opened, had sprouted seeds inside.

I tried planting the sprouts, but all seemed to die. By January, a seed had sprouted, and now I have three (at least) tomatoes growing!

Monday, April 27, 2009


A nice home made Whirligig for sale down the street at ReHouse. A couple of mended spots, but pretty cool none the less!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New use for tops!

This blog is pretty much always pictures and stuff from my life. Today's entry comes from one of the blogs of other folks that I check in on regularly. There are about 4 or 5 of these. One is The Rag and Bone . They make books, but they love to search out odd and unusual art - usually paper and book related. Today they went a bit outside their usual - sort of like I am now. As a collector of tops for about 20 years, my eye definitely twitched when I saw these two pictures. An artist named Nick Cave - not the musician - makes costumes out of really interesting stuff, combining visual and auditory effects. Here, he uses metal spinning tops, and metal noise makers, to create a wonderful effect..... I'd love to see this in person! To see quite a few of my tops click here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What brand do you use?

I've always been a fan of odd things we put electricity in.... my favorite to date is the "Spin Pop" - a device that appeared around 10 years ago to aid those who need a sugar fix, but are too tired to actually lick or suck on a piece of candy. It turns out that there are actually double spin pop machines, and they are patented!

United States Patent 5690535

"An improved (emphasis mine) candy pop holding device which includes two different spindle shafts each including a receptacle for holding a stick of a candy pop. The device includes a power supply, a switch for controlling the power supply, a motor for driving a suitable gearing system for rotating the two candy pops at a convenient rotation for consumption by a consumer. The motor and gearing system is designed to produce a desired torque and rotational speed to spin the two candy pops."

I think I'll add things that seem to have totally irrelevant endorsements added to a product. (I apologize in advance if Hannah Montana is really a cleanliness expert, and indeed endorses this particular brand of hand sanitizer as more effective than others.) Just a quick note - if your hand sanitizer has less than 60% alcohol, it is not doing much good, and if your hands are dry in less than 15 seconds of rubbing, you didn't use enough to be effective. I've noticed my doctor coming in and using a quick squirt, followed by a 2-3 second rub? About as effective as that little alcohol swab they swipe across your arm before sticking you with a needle? I remember our vet using an alcohol swab on one of my cats before giving her a shot, and saying with a smile - "I just do that to make the people feel better!"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maya Wednesday!

This was a long walk --- I need a rest, and this is a nice quite private spot!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Land, air, and water transportation

It is bike riding season again, and my bad hip seems to be allowing me the chance to ride nicely. It is always a bit of a struggle to get going - mostly the problem is limiting my early season rides to shorter distances. I always want to push myself around the next bend, go see that special spot along the canal, make it all the way to Henpeck Park, or just chalk up more miles than I did last April on my distance spreadsheet, but after a winter of lethargy, my body does not appreciate doing too much in the beginning. I have put in over 30 miles so far, in 5 rides. The hardest was the first day - 3 miles on very soft tires, trying to find an air compressor! If you think proper inflation of your tires doesn't save gas, try riding a bike on soft tires! The next hardest was 8.6 miles on the second day when I should have stuck to about 5!

That's me above with my trusty steed - a Biria "Easy Boarding" bicycle that allows me to get on and off without swinging that bad hip over the back. That move used to fairly often put me on the ground in unceremonious fashion!

Below, two views from a bridge over the Genesee River. An airplane heading for the nearby airport, and some University of Rochester women's crew gals getting in some practice below.
Me, my bike, and my camera, makes for a very peaceful hour or three.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nature's first green is gold!

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

Every spring the first two lines of this Robert Frost classic pop into my head when I see the willows, and lots of other trees suddenly turn gold, only to very quickly turn green. Looks like this is the third year of this theme!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Balancing Act - Sunflower

Another prototype Balancing Act piece -- a Sunflower with watering can balance weight. I've made a couple of adjustments to subsequent pieces - including cleaning up the laser smoke, but again, I couldn't wait to post this one --- ;-) --- video below. I think I've learned that the higher the weight on the upper portion of the piece, the slower the swing? This one swings less frenetically? Any physics folks out there with imput? See original Balancing Act - Dancer here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Maya seems to be a very kind and loving person --- even to those of the stuffed persuasion! She also kisses her stuffed animals, and opens the kitchen shutter so "bunny" can see out the window! If you missed her patting her gingerbread cookie on the back - go here.

Thanks to Wyatt for this picture!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Eggs

For several years my old business - The Toycrafter - created wooden Easter Eggs for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. It was always a terribly stressful time. We would create, paint, and print up to 30,000 wooden eggs, often working round the clock to meet the last minute shipping deadlines. Various folks in Washington would take their own sweet time deciding on colors, artwork, etc, always very sure that we would deliver on time no matter how long they took to decide which shade of blue to use! We always did deliver on time for the folks in D.C. to run the boxes through their security checks, and get them to the White House for the Monday after Easter.

We always maintained great secrecy around our part in this. We were not to use our role in any way to promote our business, and we wanted to fend off the "friends" who would have lined up to get those special eggs. In the beginning, the only way to get eggs was to go to the event.... they were not for sale as they are today. In fact, we got the job when it was discovered that the previous supplier had been letting some eggs go by other channels! "I wonder whose making them now".

While it was a great relief to be done with that stress when I sold The Toycrafter, I still have a special place in my heart for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Especially this year with the names Barack Obama and Michelle Obama on the back of the eggs! Click here for a slide show of some pics of this year's event.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


A series of great pictures by Maeve. She was in New Orleans with her Mom visiting Tulane - which seems to be choice number one right now for next year's "off to college" venture! Leftover Mardi Gras beads on a fence above, and a fountain close-up below.
A Gaslight below.
Street performer launches over 6 very brave folks below.
Oh --- Tulane quad below. I wish it were me heading off to college!

Monday, April 13, 2009

There goes the street!

We're getting a new street today! They came by bright and early to scrape up the old one!

See two years ago!

Friday, April 10, 2009

View from under a daffodil!

These are good ones to click for a bigger view.
If you were an ant, or an earthworm just emerging, this might be your view!
We usually look at the other side of daffodils?
The regular view below.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Maya Wednesday!

Maya watching a squirrel in the yard.
Maya watching me - with remnants of that skeptical look she used to use on me so often!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Balancing Act!

I should wait till I get a little video done, but I can't resist.... I've been working on this concept for a while, and finally seem to have it right. The dancer rocks for over 3 minutes on a good run! A very simple concept, but strangely compelling. I've got lots of ideas for other "Balancing Act" pieces, but suggestions are very welcome! This one is about 8" tall overall.

Below is the video! Posted in the evening.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Another picture from last weeks "search for old stuff" trip to Naples, NY. Here lies Bart and wife Kittie. In the diary (1886), Bart is 17 years old, and is off working at Leicester Fox's farm for $15 per month, plus food, laundry, and mending. His dad gets the $15. Bart and Kittie are my great grandparents. I have vague memories of Kittie, but Bart died before I was born.

I didn't find Henry and Sarah's stone. Turned out I was in the wrong cemetery. They are buried in Old Ingleside Cemetery - right across the street from the church. I was searching around the New Ingleside Cemetery - just a quarter mile down the road. I'm sort of glad I was in the wrong place because I found this stone, and the stone of my great grandfather and grandmother on my Mom's side too.... below.
I'm fascinated that while I don't remember them, Clarke and Jennie Drake certainly knew me because I was two/three when they died. Clarke appears in Henry's diary a bit later in the year, and thus I think, is the only character in that 1886 diary that I knew, smiled at, threw up on, sat in his lap, ???? I was about the age of my granddaughter Maya when I knew Clarke and Jennie Drake! As you will see later in the year, my great grandfather Clarke- age 22 at the time, bought raspberries from my great great grandfather Henry, years before their grandchild and great grandchild would marry and create me! Here in New Ingleside Cemetery my two sets of great grandparents lie just a few yards apart, with Bart never knowing that they were more than just neighbors!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Evergreen Farm - Ice Pond

In late February/early March, 1886, my ancestors - Henry, Omar, Bart, and Mills Olney, cut ice on this pond. Solid blocks of ice, cut with special hand saws, hauled 4 miles by horse and wagon, and stored in an "ice house", insulated with sawdust from their own wood cutting, and from a local sawmill. Even city folk didn't have refrigeration in those days, but the stored ice would last all through the coming summer and fall. General day to day use of refrigeration was not a common practice. Milk, eggs, fruit, etc. was grown on the farm, and used on a daily basis. The ice was probably used for special cool drinks, and maybe ice cream making when they had company? Click here for more details. I was sort of disappointed with how small the pond was, but even a small pond - frozen solid - is quite a bit of ice!

I spent last Tuesday in Naples, NY area where they lived. Got some great pictures. ( although I had my camera set for smaller images all day - much to my chagrin!) Also spent time at the Naples Library, and the Atlanta Library, looking up stuff to round out my knowledge of 1886. Got lots of info, including some additional information about the businesses they traded with, and general details of life in 1886. I'll probably write more later, but was interested in one article in the local newspaper detailing efforts on the west coast in the territories of Washington, and Oregon, to get rid of the Chinese. Bands of folks evidently rounded up local farm workers of Chinese descent, and drove them out of town! Some attitudes don't change? We just switched to Mexicans - and some other groups in between.

Other things do change.... there were evidently 2 local area cigar factories - definitely 1. That means tobacco was probably a local crop in upstate NY in those days. I'll need to do some more research on that! In those horse and buggy days, it is highly unlikely that they were importing tobacco from the southern states to roll cigars in Naples and Cohocton.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Even More Spring!

Turn up your volume for the one true sound of spring in Upstate New York. Not much visual at the time of day when the spring peepers are out!
Robins, and maple syrup are high on the list of signs of spring in my part of the world, but the sound of spring peepers (actually small frogs looking for sex) starts my heart beating faster, and brings a smile to my face! These peepers were recorded near Atlanta, NY on Tuesday night, after a wonderful evening of digging through the history/genealogy stuff at the local library, looking for information to add to my blog of Great Great Grandfather Henry Cadmus Olney's 1886 diary. I confess - the video/audio is mine, but I borrowed the picture.