Burning Down the House

The new craft I tried this year was woodburning. I saw a kit online about a month ago and decided to try it and make some Christmas gifts in the process.










The kit included the tool, a few different-shaped points, letter stamps, and a bunch of wooden utensils.

I wasn’t nervous until I watched a video tutorial, during which the host mentioned that the tool warms up to 950 degrees.

That’s hot.

I’m happy to report that I didn’t burn myself or any of my possessions. I enjoyed trying it out, although I have a long way to go to perfect it. I really liked using the letter stamps but realized that one needs to have somewhat of a perfect touch to get the whole letter burned—not too light and not too dark.








This might be a craft that I explore further. Have you tried woodburning?

Happy New Year to all! Thanks for reading about my birthday list adventures.

Steve Martin, Museum Curator

He’s a comedian, actor, producer, and musician. And now he can add museum curator to the list.

Steve Martin was in town last month to talk about the exhibit he helped curate at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Martin is also an avid art collector, and he enjoys the work of Canadian painter Lawren Harris. He must know someone at the Museum of Fine Arts, and I imagine they started talking about Lawren Harris, and the MFA person suggested that Martin help curate an exhibit, and there you have it.

My friend Tracy and I stood in line outside of the MFA on a March afternoon for two hours to ensure that we would get a seat at a free panel discussion about the exhibit. Martin, artist Eric Fischl, and writer Adam Gopnik sat on the panel, which was moderated by MFA director Matthew Teitelbaum.

Luckily the lineup was projected onto large screens, so I didn’t have to keep craning my neck to get a glimpse of them.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston








As I listened to them speak, I imagined that I was really smart and rich and I was attending a cocktail party in New York City at which this type of conversation is commonplace. For an hour, they talked about Lawren Harris, the art world, and the MFA exhibit. Martin was serious most of the time, but he did crack a few jokes and made some signature faces.

It was totally worth the two-hour wait in line! I’ve been a fan of Martin since the ’80s and have always marveled at his many talents. It was a joy to see him in person.

So I have about six weeks to accomplish nine more things. Totally doable, right?

T – 58 Days

I’m closing the book on another decade in fewer than two months!!!!!



I’m taking solace in my new Peeps socks.








I have 20 things left to do on my list and am trying to talk myself into staying calm.

I’m planning to finish Tender Is the Night this weekend (#28 on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels List). And I am going to try my hand at Tatebanko, the Japanese art of paper dioramas. Those who know me well know that I’m just crazy about dioramas.

I was introduced to Tatebanko after visiting the Museum of Fine Art’s stunning Hokusai exhibit last night. I noticed the Tatebanko of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa in the gift shop and thought I would give it a shot. If I figure it out, I will post a pic. Wish me luck!



Feeling Irish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m celebrating with a Shamrock shake, green Peeps, and some Cranberries.

This shake is totally worth the 600 calories.
This shake is totally worth the 600 calories.











I feel a little more legit about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day since discovering that I have a few Irish ancestors. According to AncestryDNA, I am 4 percent Irish!

I couldn’t help but feel 100 percent Irish at the Dropkick Murphys concert that I attended last week. This band was founded almost 20 years ago in Boston and bills itself as “Celt punk.” For as long as I can remember, the band has played multiple shows in Boston around St. Patrick’s Day. I decided that this would be the year that I put Dropkick Murphys on my birthday list.

I only knew one song going into it and I couldn’t make out any of the lyrics to any other songs, but I had a blast. Punk music with bagpipes, flutes, and young Irish step dancers = impossible not to have fun.

Courtesy of Linda
Courtesy of Linda









And at the end of the show, they invited fans to come up on stage. Party time!

Courtesy of Linda
Courtesy of Linda









I checked off another item last week: Visit the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum. Dallin was a sculptor who lived and worked in Arlington, Massachusetts, for more than 40 years. The museum docent, a sweet man in his 70s, told us stories about Dallin and his work as we made our way through four small rooms. Dallin was very talented and I enjoyed learning about his career.








So that leaves me with 22 things left on the birthday list. April and May will be busy!






Copper, Silver, and Gold

I made two rings last weekend at Stonybrook Fine Arts.








Our instructor Sophia walked through the whole process for us first. The class size was eight, which was a good number for the space. All in all, it took us a little under three hours to make two rings.

In short, there was blowtorch wielding, hammering, stamping, molding with pliers, measuring and more measuring, sawing, more blowtorch wielding, and more hammering.

Sophia and her assistant, Eve, took care of the tricky parts: soldering the ends together and polishing. This is Kevin the polisher.








Sophia went around and polished the rings that we were wearing too; it was sweet. I left the workshop with a new appreciation for all of my jewelry.

When I returned home that evening, I watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, which is #74 on AFI’s Top 100 List.



This is the second of his movies that I’ve watched. I watched City Lights (#76 on the AFI list) a year or two ago. I remember enjoying it, but I don’t remember feeling this level of enthrallment. One of my favorite scenes was his dance of the rolls. I vaguely remember seeing a brief clip of it before. But the whole dance is just plain wonderful. The split at the end!

Now I am ready to watch every film he ever made. Do you have a favorite Chaplin film?