Thursday, December 29, 2011


I'm not commenting on her skills with kids, but don't hire her to teach your kids anything!

And, while I missed getting a picture, I saw a car driving away from the Wegmans parking lot with a plate on the front that said


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December assortment

Haven't posted in a while, so here goes an assortment of December 2011 stuff.
Above - a bottle tree Mom and I found in Fairport, NY on one of our Tuesday "just wander around and take lots of left turns" drives. Actually, this particular Tuesday drive had some method in the madness. I wanted to see if I could get Mom to confirm some information I had about places she lived in Fairport many years ago. We couldn't confirm anything, but we had a great time. We hit some streets that I had never been on, despite living in Fairport area for pretty much all of my childhood! As we sat looking at this bottle tree, I spotted a cemetery behind the homes on the other side of the street, and we then drove around and found
Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Civil War Monument in the cemetery.

Above - CJ at the diner, and below, Maya trying a violin at preschool.
Grandchildren are an important part of any month!
Below our 2011 Christmas ornament of the annual holiday party at the Palmeri home.
This year a top that doubles as an ornament! Not a great picture, but I loved that spinning the top in the lid to the cookie tin yielded a view of the other color on the bottom of the top!
Below, a creche puzzle created by our friends Russell and Sue Greenslade graces the mantle at the Sams household! The missing palm tree piece on the left has since been found!
Happy New Year!
Maya - always on the lookout for a project to do - wants to make a bottle tree!
Past Bottle tree posts...
Bottle tree in the neighborhood and Bottle Bush

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Old Whistle made by The Toycrafter

Maya's preschool teacher found this among some old Christmas ornaments, and was very excited to show it to me the other day when I was there to work with the kids. The date on the side is 1979, but may have been made at any time over a number of years as I never changed the copyright stamp that we used on these whistles. This one illustrates very nicely the design system I used in designing this and 5 other whistles -- all based on the basic "police" whistle. Mentally remove the upper portion of the music note, and you have a classic metal (or plastic) pea whistle. We used actual cork balls just like the originals. Blowing on the whistle causes the cork pea to rotate around inside the chamber, with the whistle noise stopping each time the pea passes by the opening. Check out the video/audio below.

I won't go into all the details, but the first designs of "pea" whistles that I did all utilized the same basic blank to create two whistles from each blank. We could create a few hundred blanks, and then later cut out whatever style we needed..... music note, Zwiggle (see picture below), bird, etc. (I can't make my memory bring up the other designs right now) Also shown below is a Saguaro Cactus whistle that I made for my Dad who lived in Arizona for a number of years, and loves all things Arizona!
We usually used the yellow nylon cord loop on the whistles as shown in the music note picture at the top, but for a while we tried using a key chain hook, but these did not sell as well as we had hoped. Below, you can see the opening in the whistle that is the key to the whistle. The whistle is a very simple musical instrument, with air blowing over a hollow space creating a tone. The size of the hollow space determines the pitch. If you take the lower portion of the music note above, and mentally place it over the Zwiggle body, you can see that the exact same whistle blank can be used for both pieces. More about Zwiggles

Below is the Saguaro Cactus I made for Dad!
Also from the same basic whistle blank.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Community Puzzle with Maya's PreSchool Class

Grandpa Don took some Community Puzzles to Maya's Preschool class... morning and afternoon sessions.

Above - the Community Puzzle partially completed during the morning session.

Below (and below that) the completed puzzle toward the end of the afternoon session.

Somewhere around 20 years ago, I created The Community Puzzle. I subsequently sold the product to a friend, who has since sold it to someone else, etc., until it is now owned and distributed by California Paper Goods Company.

Maya and Grandpa made one at home a while back.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Just in case you thought frost was something simple?
Click pictures above and below to embiggen - not as big as they used to be, but still pretty cool - Get it?? Cool???

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Designed and made a while ago.

The main odd thing about my new Samsung Android Charge is that the pictures taken with it automatically rotate 90 degrees, and cannot be rotated back to vertical in the camera. If you rotate them in a photo program on the computer, they seem to show up rotated when I try to use them on the blog, but this one - while rotated on the phone, and rotated on the computer reverets to correct orientation when I use it here on the blog!!! ???

Anyway, the piece above is a wooden menorah with wooden "flames" that can be removed and replaced as the days of Hanukkah go by, without involving younger folks with open flames? This one is sold as of today, but contact me if you simply must have one. We also did a Kwanza Kinara version if you'd like one of those?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Found and shared as it evidently has been for at least 114 years!

At a dinner for law alumni of New York University in 1907, Walter Lloyd Smith of the New York Supreme Court read “the most remarkable document that ever came into his possession” — the will of an inmate of the Cook County Insane Asylum at Dunning, Ill.:
I, Charles Lounsbury, being of sound mind and disposing memory, do hereby make and publish this, my last will and testament, in order as justly as may be to distribute my interest in the world among succeeding men.
That part of my interest which is known in law and recognized in the sheep-bound volumes as my property, being inconsiderable and of no account, I make no disposal of in this my will.
My right to live, being but a life estate, is not at my disposal, but these things excepted all else in the world I now proceed to devise and bequeath.
Item: I give to good fathers and mothers, in trust for their children, all good little words of praise and encouragement, and all quaint pet names and endearments, and I charge said parents to use them justly and generously, as the needs of their children may require.
Item: I leave to children inclusively, but only for the term of their childhood, all and every, the flowers of the fields, and the blossoms of the woods, with the right to play among them freely according to the customs of children, warning them at the same time against thistles and thorns. And I devise to children the banks of the brooks, and the golden sands beneath the waters thereof, and the odors of the willows that dip therein, and the white clouds that float high over the giant trees. And I leave the children the long, long days to be merry in, in a thousand ways, and the night and the moon and the train of the Milky Way to wonder at, but subject nevertheless to the rights hereinafter given to lovers.
Item: I devise to boys jointly all the useful idle fields and commons where ball may be played; all pleasant waters where one may swim; all snowclad hills where one may coast, and all streams and ponds where one may fish, or where, when grim Winter comes, one may skate; to have and to hold the same for the period of their boyhood. And all meadows with the clover blossoms and butterflies thereof, the woods and their appurtenances, the squirrels and the birds, and echoes and strange noises, and all distant places which may be visited, together with the adventures there found. And I give to said boys each his own place at the fireside at night, with all pictures that may be seen in the burning wood, to enjoy without let or hindrance and without any incumbrance of care.
Item: To lovers I devise their imaginary world with whatever they may need; as the stars of the sky; the red roses by the wall; the bloom of the hawthorn; the sweet strains of music, and aught else by which they may desire to figure to each others the lastingness and beauty of their love.
Item: To young men jointly, I devise and bequeath all boisterous, inspiring sports of rivalry, and I give to them the disdain of weakness and undaunted confidence in their own strength, though they are rude; I give them the power to make lasting friendships, and of possessing companions, and to them exclusively I give all merry songs and brave choruses, to sing with lusty voices.
Item: And to those who are no longer children or youths or lovers, I leave memory, and I bequeath to them the volumes of the poems of Burns and Shakespeare and of other poets, if there be others, to the end that they may live over the old days again, freely and fully, without tithe or diminution.
Item: To our loved ones with snowy crowns I bequeath the happiness of old age, the love and gratitude of their children until they fall asleep.
The original, it turns out, was written by Williston Fish in 1897 and published in Harper’s Weekly the following year. He had intended it as a poetic trifle, but newspapers around the country had picked it up and run it as fact, often embellishing the language, until, Fish wrote in 1908, “this one of my pieces has been translated into all the idiot tongues of English.” Charles Lounsbury was the name of an old relative of his — “a big, strong all-around good kind of man,” but not, evidently, insane.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Anyone want to buy a classic ice cream stand! And this one comes with miniature golf, bumper cars, go-carts, driving range, and an arcade!
I've always dreamed about owning one of those classic 1950's tourist trap places. A roadside ice cream stand was always high on the list, but the closest I ever came was actually talking to the owner about buying The Teepee on Route 20 in New York State just west of Albany in the Cherry Valley area.
Click on this link for some great pictures of The Teepee, and some of the classic 1950's stuff for sale therein.

The Teepee is just down the road a piece from the Petrified Creatures Museum

For your chance to own a classic near Batavia, NY (On Route 5 - sort of kid sister to Route 20) - below is the For Sale Sign on the ice cream stand plus!
If you buy it, you owe me 4 cones - Grandpa, Grandma, Maya, and CJ!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Only one of many people and things to be thankful for!

It would take me all day to blog about all the things I'm thankful for, so I'll let this picture represent all that is good about my life!

Grandpa and CJ on the occasion of his 2nd birthday party!

Seeking a little quiet time amidst all the hub bub of the celebration!

Life is good!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Art with Maya!

I can't figure out why this picture rotated, but after about 7 tries, I can't get it right.. However, since the pieces Maya and I made are round anyway, who cares! Chipboard 7" discs, and some spirals and stars that I saved from making a big stencil to decorate a dress on one of our big dancers. For some reason Maya settled on an orange crayon to color the pieces. The picture isn't great, but in keeping with the orange theme, grandpa suggested adding pieces of tangerine skin, and art history was made!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Opal & Twig

Earlier this year, a new customer came to us looking for a container for her magical potions. Who wouldn't enjoy designing a carrier for Goblin Snot, Troll Sweat, and Mermaid Tears? I can't find the pictures I took quite a while ago, so these are borrowed from the new Opal & Twig web site.
Who are Opal and Twig? Go to Opal & Twig to learn more, and to find out what magical powers there may be in Troll Sweat?

Got a product you'd like some special container for? Call us, e-mail us, snail mail us, (fax still works, but is so 20th Century!) Right now I'm working on a three pack of some great salsa/tomato sauce flavors!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rattlesnake Pete

While hunting for something else, I found these pictures I had filed away of Rattlesnake Pete. Peter Gruber was an entrepreneur of the most eccentric sort in Rochester, NY in the late 1800's - early 1900's. Fascinated by snakes from an early age, A native of Pennsylvania, Rattlesnake Pete located his restaurant, bar, and museum in downtown Rochester after being turned away from Pittsburgh and Buffalo where mixing drinks and snakes was evidently frowned upon!
Rattlesnake Pete provided food and drink, and a large collection of snakes, 4 legged chickens, etc in the finest sideshow tradition, but in a permanent location..... our own local P.T. Barnum!
Pete's exhibit included a stuffed horse, hundreds of arrow heads, the first harpsichord in the upstate NY area, a pipe supposedly smoked by John Wilkes Booth, the battle flag used at Custer's last stand, jars of pickled brains, the weight used in the gallows mechanism from the last hanging in Rochester, the skull of General Sheridan's horse, and an ax used by a wife murderer, and much much more!
Who wouldn't want to stop by for dinner, drinks, and a chance to see cages full of writhing snakes!
He sold snake oil, as well as snake skins, skunk skins, etc. Today we know snake oil as a term for any bogus cure, but Rattlesnake Pete actually extracted oil from snakes and sold it as a cure. Below he is shown practicing his goiter cure - wrapping a black snake around the sufferer's neck. Oddly, the constrictions of the snake actually massaged the goiter, and may have provided some temporary relief.
Rattlesnake Pete was bitten by rattlesnakes or copperheads somewhere between 29 and 33 times depending on the account, but lived to the age of 75! 1857 to 1932.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Patriotic Sales Technique

I won't add much to this, and will keep the event where I saw this unidentified, but food (or candy?) for thought!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Dad the Sheriff!

I have to start out by telling you that I have great difficulty picturing my dad as a cop. Of course I remember moments of childhood punishment when the word sheriff might come to mind, but basically my dad is a very gentle kind sort of fellow, and guns were never a part of our life even though we lived on a farm, and a 22 might have come in handy for woodchucks?

I have of course seen a couple of pictures of dad in the uniform of a
Pinal County Deputy Sheriff ,
but that part of his life was in Arizona, and the one time I visited him there, he was working in a gas station. That's dad (in uniform - sans hat) and my mom, the day they got married the second time 39 years ago. There is another classic pose with the hat, with his foot up on a log, leaning on his knee - I think there is even cactus in the background. But I still didn't entirely believe.

Until dad showed me a story in the Casa Grande (Ariz.) DISPATCH Wednesday, June 13,1973. I had heard this story before of course, along with lots of other classic dad stories about various incidents in his life as a deputy sheriff, but here it was in the newspaper! Dad had googled himself after hearing about doing that on a TV news show, and was amazed to find this 38 year old newspaper article. I've posted the copy below because the PDF file at the link above is not perfectly clear.
San Manuel Man Faces Three Felony Charges

A San Manuel resident was to be arraigned in Mammoth
Justice of the Peace court today on three felony counts stemming
from a disturbance at his home Tuesday night.

A tear gas grenade was needed to force Jesus C.
Borquez. 42. from inside the house after six Pinal County
sheriff's deputies and two officers from the Mammoth
Police Department were summoned to quell a family
fight, deputies said Borquez was in custody in lieu
of $20,000 bond pending his arrignment on charges of obstructing
justice and two counts of assault with intent to commit murder:

Investigators said they were called to the home after
receiving a report about 10:05 p.m. that the suspect was
fighting with a son, Chuie. They said the family members
had left the house and Borquez locked himself, inside
when the officers arrived Borquez appeared from a
window with a 30.06 rifle and 12 gauge shotgun and fired two
shots, deputies said. That fire was returned by Deputy A.T.
Richards, who fired one- shot to knock out a porch light. Later a
second deputy lobbed the tear gas inside and Borque appeared
outside about 10 minutes later, deputies added.

Deputy Mel Olney received a slight eye injury when he was
struck while attempting to apprehend Borquez, investigators
said. He was treated and released at Magma
Hospital in Mammoth. There were no other injuries.
Borquez was placed in custody about 40 minutes after
officers were called, authorities said.
My dad!
Injured in a gun fight!
Not quite, but shots were fired!

Friday, November 11, 2011

132 posts in a row, but I missed 133!

The picture and the story of the missed blog really do go together.

That's myself, and my dad, Mel. above.

My hat purchased at the Specialty Shop at Strong, a tiny little shop that seemed to mostly sell breast feeding supplies in the lobby of the University of Rochester Medical Center. I'm not sure why this little shop is separate from the larger gift shop, but as we walked by on our way out of the hospital, I spotted a hat in the window that looked very much like my favorite winter hat. Turns out they had several and the little shop was run by a friend who was at our wedding many years ago! The small assortment of men's hats ???? For guys doing chemo. We always hear about the women and their wigs, scarves, hats, etc, but it turns out men have the same things to adjust to! Anyway, I got a new brown hat, and Dad, on a lark, wore my old gray hat home... picture taken with a timer outside our neighborhood diner!

Why were we at the hospital? Dad was getting an electronystagmogram (ENG) which measures involuntary rapid eye movement. And why an ENG? Dad has suffered with vertigo for years. Lest you think vertigo is that queasy feeling you get as you look over the edge of a bridge, as a medical problem it is a lot worse. The feeling is similar, but a lot worse, and you can't just step back from the edge to make it go away. Recently Dad's vertigo has gotten worse and more frequent, so we have been consulting various folks looking for a cure. The ENG is a test that tells the people who know - something about what may be causing the problem. Below you can see Dad in the goggles they put on him, and the picture of his eyes on the computer. The little box on top of the goggles holds two video cameras that show the computer his eyes from straight ahead..... note the little 45 degree one-way mirrors on the front of the goggles. Then they do various things that simulate conditions that might cause vertigo, and measure the involuntary movements of the eyes. The computer measures and graphs the eye movements, and somehow this tells them something but we don't know what yet!
Anyway, thus the trip to the hospital, thus the hat, and thus the missed blog entry, because Dad had one of his worst vertigo attacks yet, or at least the longest, a couple of days later. I went over to Mom and Dad's place about 5am yesterday, to help, and did not leave until about 1 pm today. Maybe I'll figure out how to blog from my new smart phone (so far I'm lucky to have a phone call go smoothly!). I know I can do Facebook entries - but I missed doing my blog thing yesterday. Maybe the pressure is off now, or maybe I'll try for another run of daily blogs.... I really do enjoy doing this!

I am pleased that this my 813th blog!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A great idea.

I've got no idea where this originated, but it appears to have gone viral, and I'm glad to support the idea by passing it on here. Forgive the Christmas theme, but I guess it really is about Christmas, because it appears to me that our friends of other religious persuasions seem not to have any such crazily consumer oriented holidays. (I'm willing to be corrected on this.) I did not write this, but with minor adjustments I concur!
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods—merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year can be different. This year Americans should give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone, EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the American Dollars on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants—all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains—this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom ? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

Perhaps someone’s computer could use a tune-up. There must be some young person who is struggling to get their repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS should be the new American Christmas tradition.

This is another way of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

And please remember to wish everyone a Merry Christmas instead of saying Happy Holidays!


Again, I don't know who first wrote this ---- I do know I found it posted on a blog from 2008 among a lot of other places, so it isn't terribly new ----- but it does seem to ask for some thought, and maybe even some action?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Birthday tops again!

Those little pieces vibrating around yesterday were chocolate chips! Above - painted a nice dark brown! Below - painstakingly glued into the appropriate holes in the cookie base.To maintain balance for a nicely spinning top, I did 1/4 of a cookie complete with three chips, and an uneven edge. Then I rotated that quarter three times to complete the cookie, welded the 4 images together, and there you go! A perfectly balanced chocolate chip cookie spinning top. My favorite detail? The chips are made of slightly thicker wood so that they stick out from the surface a bit!

Below - CJ absent mindedly spinning his top!

Oddly, the cookie monster theme for his birthday was based on his strong dislike of cake (or ice cream). Deanna baked a large chocolate chip cookie for him, but when it was served cut into wedges, he refused to even taste it, and ate three tangerines while the rest of us got fat!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Happy Birthday!

We often use a vibratory sanding process to clean up and smooth smaller parts. A small motor mounted on the bottom of a hard plastic bowl has an off center weight clamped to the shaft. Since the bowl is mounted on springs, this results in the bowl shaking the parts around, smoothing them very nicely! I love this picture I took of some small pieces as they vibrated around.

And Happy Birthday to CJ.
My grandson turns 2 today. I'll show you what these little parts are later, after CJ gets his birthday tops!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Main Street Armory - Rochester, NY

Exterior of our old armory - built in 1905
picture by
Matthew D. Wilson

They don't build them like this anymore!
I think this is the second nicest bathroom I've seen. Number one is still at The Madonna Inn. Picture below - guys pee in the waterfall at the right, keeping in mind that women may come in at any moment to see this unique urinal!
Back to the Armory.
We went to the Mayday Underground Indie Crafts & Art Show this afternoon!
Bus man's holiday!
Some quite interesting and creative things. As old timers on another era of craft shows, we noted that there were no booths with any walls - even people with paintings or photographs had them propped up on easels on a single table. Only about 6 booths made any attempt at lighting! It certainly would make set-up and tear down a lot easier, but for people used to a different style, it would take some getting used to. I think that next year, I'm going to try some of these local venues with my mechanical pieces. Will do on weekends when Cheryl is not away at some of the "bigger" shows, and see what happens. Lower cost, less travel, probably lower sales, but possibly a better percent return on the time and $ invested?