Thursday, January 29, 2015

Up and Down, Southwestern Ohio's Typical Winter Weather

It was 4 degrees F yesterday morning.  By the end of the day we had rain.  Overnight it was cold enough for yesterday's rain to freeze.

This morning we have white ice and black ice on the driveway.  The temperature is 35 degrees and it is raining again.  A Facebook friend carrying a load of odds and ends sat down on black ice this morning.  Fortunately, she didn't hurt herself.

We are expecting snow and colder temperatures this afternoon.

This is our second cold spell this year. We had a cold spell starting early in January but by the fifteenth of January we had balmy temperatures in the 40s and 50s.  The weather has been cooling down again since January 25.

The ice covering the falls at Charleston Falls Preserve was gradually melting until this new "blast of arctic weather" as the weatherman called it.

January 17....

January 20...

January 23... You can see that the snow on the ground on January 17 has melted.

But on January 26, I awoke to see a backyard covered with a new layer of snow.

I haven't been back to the park yet but I expect, especially since more cold weather is coming in today, that the falls will soon look  like it did on January 17.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tuesdays With Morrie Presented by the Rivertown Players, Inc.

On Sunday, January 11, I saw Tuesdays With Morrie, presented by the Rivertown Players, Inc. at the Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot Ohio.  The play was presented by arrangement with The Drama Workshop who owns the playhouse.  The performance I saw was the last of four.

It has taken me a while to process all the thoughts and emotions this play evoked.  It is  quiet but witty, a thoughtful, engrossing play about everyday life...loving, learning, living, dying. Whether I am reading a novel, nonfiction, poetry or looking at a painting, I am drawn to what encourages me to see or learn something deeper about the world around me.  This play does this.

Kent Smith (Morrie Schwartz) and Ray Persing (Mitch Albom)

Kent and Ray look happy and they should.  They have just received a standing ovation for their performance in Tuesdays With Morrie.

Kent, a good sized man, gave a convincing portrayal of a man gradually wasting away from Lou Gehrig's Disease ( ALS).  He had to do this with voice and hand actions while barely moving from one spot on the stage.

Ray, portrays Mitch, a reporter intent on becoming the best by doing everything asked of him by his boss and forgetting about living a life of his own in the process. He ranges about the room as he reacts to Morrie's comments which seem outlandish during the first few visits. By the end of the play, Morrie, with witty and insightful conversation, has changed Mitch's mind about what is truly important in life.

Amanda Borchers was the director and Victoria Garcia was the producer.  They did an admirable job of helping  Kent and Ray to get into the skins of the men they were portraying.  Stage manager was Jamie Haney.

If you look closely at the set below, you will note that the black background behind the set is of two shades.  The center section is a fabric curtain.  Victoria Garcia, (also the producer) playing the part of Mitch's new wife, sang "The Very Thought of You" from behind the curtain accompanied by pianist, Jeremy Stevenson. The song was a beautiful highlight.  Lighting on the fabric illuminated the singer and pianist as silhouettes. The song brought a voice to the swirling emotions that had been gradually accumulating throughout the play.

As always, there were many others involved in bringing this play to the audience...backstage crew, set builders, hospitality hosts and hostesses, lighting and sound crew, etc.  These people included members of  The Drama Workshop as well as members of the Rivertown Players.  I thank them all for taking time and energy to provide wonderful entertainment.

Here are photos of  quotes from Morrie Schwartz which were displayed in the lobby.  Click on them to see a larger photo.

To learn more about Rivertown Players, Inc. go to their website...

To learn more about the Glenmore Playhouse and The Drama Workshop, go to their website...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Christmas Project With Lilian Nichols, A Glass Ball Covered With Chrysanthemum Cane

Lilian's daughter gave her this Christmas ornament.  Lilian decided it would be a good project for our class.

Before we started, Lilian reminded us that we needed strong contrasting colors to get the best effect.  She also told us to check any flat-backed jewels we used for decorating by baking a sample jewel in a bit of polymer clay.  All of our acrylic jewels melted to some degree.  Now we know Lilian is right.  Jewels inserted in polymer clay should be made of glass or crystal.

Linda's Choice of Colors (and base sheet to the right)

There are several steps shown in the photograph above.  To the far right is a bit of the 5 inch by 3 inch strip of White clay covered by a 5 inch by 3 inch strip of Pearl clay.  These were rolled together on the thickest setting and set aside while we worked on the next step, a strip of 5 inch by 3 inch Translucent clay.  We covered the Translucent clay with bits of colored clay.

Below are DeeDee's Color Choices.

We laid the Translucent rectangles covered with the colors of our choice on the White clay covered with Pearl clay rectangle.  We pressed the layers together with our roller, stretched the resulting rectangle a little thinner, then rolled the stack into a jelly roll.  Here are the results.

Annette's rolled...and (below) after she sliced off the uneven end

DeeDee's roll after slicing off the uneven end

Linda's roll after slicing off the uneven end

The next step was indenting the roll to get the chrysanthemum effect.  Lilian used a ruler with a metal edge.  She wrapped the edge with wax paper so the metal edge would not cut the clay but would be sharp enough to indent it.

In the photo below you can see the lengthwise indentations.  The indentations must be done carefully so they are evenly spaced around the cane.  It helps to make 4 evenly spaced indentations, then make 4 more indentations between those.  The final result will be 8 evenly spaced indentations.  It is important to press fairly deeply into the clay so the petal design is strong.

DeeDee's Petals

DeeDee's ball partly covered  She decided to attach her slices side by side leaving bits of the clear ball showing.  The result was a lacy effect.

The rest of us elected to cover the glass ball completely.

Annette's ball....

Linda's ball...

My ball...

Lilian's ball...

Now it was time to bake the ball.  Lilian gave us cleaned out cat food tins with polymer quilt fill in them.  The fill kept the balls from rolling while they were baking at 275 degrees for 25 minutes.

The next step was to decide whether to sand the ball or leave it with a textured surface.

The sample Lilian showed us was sanded until it was very smooth.  I settled for semi-smooth.

Polymer clay is wet-sanded because the dust can be hazardous if inhaled.  I used 400 grit sandpaper to smooth off the most noticeable imperfections.  If you want a smoother surface after sanding with 400 grit, continue sanding with 600 grit.

The next step was adding the jeweled cap.  Beside the ball is a small bit of silver clay in which I embedded an acrylic bead.  The faceted surface melted, leaving an acrylic blob.  On the cap I embedded crystal beads.  They are larger than the ones used in the original cap. I had trouble drawing the lines in the clay so opted to skip the lines.  Next time I will try again to draw the fine lines.  The cap is silver with Translucent clay added to it as well as a tiny scrap of Ultramarine blue.  I baked the ball again.  I will add a bit more design to the top of the cap with another piece of clay in which I insert a curved wire for hanging.

The original ornament

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 6, 2014...Winter has arrived

I looked out the front door yesterday morning and this is what I saw.  Somewhere between three and five inches of snow ( 7.6 to 12.7 cm) had fallen during the night.  Our winter usually starts in earnest sometime in early January.  The day was beautiful with bright sunshine.

This is what I saw from the dining room window.

 My little camera doesn't take good photos of the birds at the feeders because the patio is unlit but the yard is bright with sunshine.  I asked Tom to help me out.  The following bird photos are his.

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor).  We have had titmice for two years now.  Our area must be providing a better habitat for them than it did in earlier years.

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis).  The goldfinches are duller yellow in the winter than they are in the spring and summer.

The Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) have come down from Michigan and Canada for the winter.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).  It is always a pleasure to see the flash of bright red as the males fly in to pick up a oil sunflower seed.

The Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis)  also stop in for a change of diet.  Out in the yard they have buried dozens of nuts from the walnut tree.  It is not unusual to see them digging through the snow to get to those buried treasures.

The birds and squirrels have good appetites so we keep busy putting out seeds.  They will need all the energy they get from the food they eat today.  Our predicted temperature for tonight is -5 degrees Fahrenheit (-20.556 C)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

All Set for 2015

All I need to start the new year.  Probably should have added a cup of tea to the photo.  Hope this coming year is a good one for all of you.  We can count on the year being interesting.