A Day at the Museum

A Museum Can Bring the World to You.


#Rodin’s Garden in Paris is amazing that you can touch and feel the many carved pieces he made hundreds of years ago in a museum, once a house and garden where Rodin actually lived.

Above, I stand below his full size The Thinker – a smaller version can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as well as many other sculptures.  On my most recent birthday a few weeks ago I visited the Met as it is called, to take in the permanent exhibits as well as current ones, which are only visiting for a time.  My visits are few and far between but the Met is by far my favorite museum because I can travel around the world inside and still be close to home. On this most recent visit I went to Egypt, Greece, Africa, Asia, Japan, and parts of America all within 3 hours time. They have 3 restaurants to choose from inside and the food is good, the views of Central Park, wonderful.

Entrance to Temple statuesarcophagus

My all time favorite place at the Met is the Egyptian section.  They have real temples pieces  taken from the actual Pyramids famous outside of Cairo in valleys where archeologists dug decades ago. You can see a sarcophagus or two but no real mummies are there. So many paintings and artifacts that if you were to only stay in this section it could easily take hours to see all the pieces one by one. But, it’s a lot easier and less hot than actually traveling to Egypt.  I’ve been to the British Museum in London as well and if you like Egyptian artifacts they have them nearly on top of each other there including the actual Ramses Head and the Rosetta Stone.

As one section of Asia was being reassembled for a new exhibition on China: Through the Looking Glass and had part of the exhibit closed, I explored the American Wing which I really hadn’t paid much attention to before.  Louis Comfort Tiffany has several windows he made on display – Priceless, as most museum pieces are and absolutely gorgeous in person.

Tiffany windowsTiffany grapes close upOn my visit to Japan I saw many examples of Jade dating back two or more centuries old.  No pictures in that section are allowed.  Leave it to the Japanese to glam up a deer. The example below is taxidermy and then ornately decorated with glass balls and crystal balls.  Gives me some ideas to deal with the abundant deer population on eastern Long Island.

Blinged out deerWherever you are, or want to go, there is a museum near you, where you can explore many cultures, artifacts and learn more about other countries history as well as our own even if you can’t travel outside of the country.  A Stay-cation at a museum can be a great getaway and renew your interests near and far.

I’m planning my next excursion soon.


An Illustrated Life

3 pigs and Wolf                            Dog and Fish

The wonderment of children is easy to see when they read a book or have it read to them.  That wonderment is shared and admired by the writers and illustrators of children’s literature. I am a great admirer of the children’s picture book genre and have been a member of SCBWI or Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The following is the first of what I hope are many interview style Blogs about interesting people who I’ve met through the course of following my many interests from arts to science.  This first is of an illustrator, graphic artist, who has done illustrations for chapter books, and pictures books alike.

Roberta Rivera is an illustrator.  She spent her life dedicated to this fine art.  In fact she has a BFA, Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kansas City Art Institute.  I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if I majored in Drama and pursued the Arts.  Just as prolific as Meryl Streep one would hope. The life of an artist is not always smooth, self doubt is common as is lack of steady work. Roberta is married and lives on Long Island but her professional pursuits take her into New York City and the boroughs for work, classes and art exhibitions.  Right now through May 30 there is an  exhibition of her work and other illustrators showing at the Poe Center For the Arts in the Bronx, NY call 718-365-5545 for more information.

Here were the questions I asked her and her answers:

KV: How long have you been doing illustrations?

RR: I’ve been illustrating most of my life.  Even as a child I had a pencil, brush or marker in my hand and was scribbling away. My parents would encourage me to enter art contests.  I would go to the public library in my home town in Connecticut and pour over children’s picture books and read chapter books and middle grade. Professionally now for 20 years.

KV: When did you know that illustrating or drawing was a talent you had?

RR: My drive to be an illustrator/artist stemmed from wanting to keep up with my older sisters.  They were and still are marvelous artists. It was probably when I was in 6th or 7th grade when my sister Leigh came home from art school, with her portfolio to show my family.  She had a picture book dummy called “Friends” which I kept until my nephew went off to college and then I gave it to him.  I passed the magic on.  I’ve done odd jobs and had a decorative art business along the way to pay the bills.

KV: If you could do anything for a living what would it be if not an illustrator?

RR: Zumba instructor!  No, just joking. I would like to try animation.

KV: Who are some of your favorite children’s picture book authors and illustrators?

RR: I’ll go with the classics Beatrix Potter, Wanda Gag, Maurice Sendak, Virginia Lee Burton, Robert McCloskey and Ernest Shepard.

KV: Who is Ernest Shepard?

RR: He is the original illustrator of Winnie the Pooh he’s on top of my list of favorite classic illustrators. I was told by an art director last November that my work reminded her of Ernest Shepard.  What a compliment! She wanted to see more of it.

KV: If you could travel anywhere in the world with all expenses paid, where would you go?

RR: Another trick question! There are so many beautiful and exotic places but why not the Fiji Islands.  After this rough winter I sure could use a vacation.

Thank you Roberta!  We all could use a vacation after this winter!

(Thank you to Roberta Rivera.  To find out more about Roberta’s work please go to her website and see more wonderful illustrations like the ones on this Blog – http://www.robertariveraart.com )

Hal and his pack

Vacation All I Ever Wanted…

The Go Go’s, that female rock/pop group of the 80’s had a song called, “Vacation”.  The title of this Blog post is a line from the song dedicated to that thought, it’s all I ever wanted!  It’s been several years since I’ve taken a proper vacation of a week away from home.  I’ve done the stay-cation  a few times in the past several years.  You know, getting away from home but not that far, within an hour somewhere you can get away. I’ve done pet sitting, house sitting, in the journey to “get away”.  Lovely cats they were.  I believe only one out of the three are still alive.  Sigh. The ugly winter is over, I can move around freely now.  It’s time for a getaway!  Oh, the places I could go?  If only the price was affordable.  Looking back on some fun vacations over the past 20 years.

Far Away Getaways

Far Away Getaways

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Tropical Vacation

Tropical Vacation

Back to the Future

BTTHEfuturecell phone slideBack in 1998 I worked at Duracell on rechargeables. I was what they called an HPC – High Powered Chick. I allowed them to call me a chick only then. The rechargeables I worked on were cell phone batteries. Didn’t know they made them? Yes I know, and part of the reason that division closed later in 1998. Duracell was trying to be the Number 3 company for replacement batteries. They were thinking ahead to a time when cell phones, or mobile (oh how many meetings were there to determine cell or mobile??) phones were going to be an everyday part of most peoples lives.  The same way that replacement alkaline batteries are for our electronic devices.  Cell phones could cost upwards of $700 then, not a small investment  .Most people didn’t have one in 1998. Motorola and Qualcomm were the leaders in the U.S. with their StarTac and Faser phone a la Star Trek – the thinnest flip phone to use CDMA their digital frequency we take for granted today. Sprint was the leading telecom to utilize the digital frequency and the two companies made great partners and a great product. You couldn’t upgrade to get a new free phone for a two year contract then.

Hmm? Forward to 2015.
Guess what, after years of upgrading to a new phone for free or very little in investment, usually under $100 depending on the phone you choose, we have to buy them! If not buy them then lease them for a year or two. Lease? What?
iPhone or Samsung, or Sharp (Yes, Sharp), LG or T-Mobile to AT&T to Sprint. Get the time machine I want to go back!

I want to go back to five years ago and see what made the mobile phone industry rewind to another time.  Yes, you can still get a phone that will text too for under $40 to buy and a similarly low monthly fee. But, if you want a SmartPhone, basically a hand held computer in another form, then you must pay upwards of $200 for the phone and a high monthly price.

And, all those games, promotions we see now, Europe and Asia had those gimmicks back in the late 90’s. Their landlines are not as good as ours, so citizens embraced mobile over there, long before we had the notion.  I used to have to examine all the offerings and relate it to how American’s would be interested and write analysis of it and present ideas at meetings.  At the time, I thought, only teenagers are going to be interested in games and other promotions. What adult is going to spend their day on gaming on a mobile phone? Oh, how we have changed as a nation because of our little hand held devices.  Be kind, rewind.

Teaching an Old Dog New Tweets

Twitter logo twitterpic

Social media has been a craze now for several years.  I first opened my Twitter account in 2009 against my will.  I thought “Oh No, here’s another tech trend that may or may not last.” When I saw journalists using it for story ideas and reaching out to contacts that’s when I thought it was legit.  Then I liked it. I realized I could follow all the news outlets, entertainment, corporate entities, C level execs and friends and get the overall news of the morning in five minutes. For a news junkie like myself this was great!  I used to read the front page of the Wall Street Journal to get an overview of the news but now, I can online.  Two years ago I felt compelled to write an article on Twitter for Newsday’s Part 2 section which is published on Saturday’s and was geared toward seniors.  So I wrote why it’s a good idea to use Twitter – To #Twitter or Not to Twitter that was the question.  I got some positive responses from seniors in my own town about how they now understood it a bit better. So, why not present to a room of seniors and others on the merits of using Twitter for communication, information sharing and helping you in a crisis?

Having been a substitute teacher for elementary kids, I know I like teaching. Having an M.A. in Marketing Communication and over twenty years of practice I know I create strategies and have ideas for messaging that have helped companies, C level executives and the entrepreneur move their businesses forward and get them publicity.  So why not teach adults and seniors?

I created a program via the old Powerpoint and have presented at half a dozen libraries thus far.  I have more scheduled. Having had close to 100 audience members I’ve gotten a thrill of helping mostly seniors who attend understand the tech social media phenomenon and why it’s good for them to use.  It is another form of communication.  140 characters make it SMS text or Short Message Service. This is important to know as the old Beeper’s used 160 characters or less and allowed mostly doctors, executives get messages when other forms of communication were not possible.  In fact, texting, or tweeting can get your message out even when you don’t have a signal – it will hold the message and send when you do have a signal.  I teach them to keep important numbers, emails, people’s addresses on a piece of paper too.  Paper doesn’t lose internet connections.  Paper doesn’t lose electricity.  Technology has greatly advanced our way of communicating but only when the wireless or electric is working.

In 140 characters you can share information, connect with like minded people, companies, around the world.  Every minute brings new tweets, information and connections with family and friends. And, if you are without electricity and limited signal on your cell or tablet, you can actually tweet out to targeted people add a  # to make sure your words or emphasized and trend to get attention.  Who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks? I’ve learned that I can take my marketing and communications skills and teach what I know to willing and interested adults who in turn have learned more about communicating.  I’ve discovered I can create new avenues for my career and in turn help others.

Summer Time Blues

Snow Dock

Have you got too much to do? Is the sun shining, the birds singing, the air steamy? It’s summer and there is so much you could do outside from yard work to puttering in the garden, including watering your precious flowers. But, work is still calling. Someone calls you just after you leave the office asking for the document you scanned and emailed last week. Ok, now back to the office to send it off again. Friends call you about a round of golf – sounds good. Until you arrive at the golf grounds only to find out you left your cell phone at home. Oh MY God! I cannot play golf and not have my cell phone handy for work calls that will take me moments away from finishing a round of golf! Drive back home to pick up cell phone or do I dare indulge in some down time, some cyber free time and take in the splendor of the surroundings and the great weather?

I love tennis as a fan. I cannot play and haven’t played for decades do to an injury but I am a huge fan. My dream is to fly around the world for a year as a fan, taking in the major tournaments and minor ones that occur. Starting in January in Australia and ending in Queens for the U.S. Open. Ah, what a dream. If only my screenplay has been sold, the movie made, the cash deposited. Ah, well, back to work for now. Try to enjoy some summer sun and down time while you can. Remember you can’t play golf, walk the block, or garden under a blanket of snow and ice! You could watch the Australian Open but that is months away.

A Great Client Deserves Remembering


There is much talk about customer service and how to do it well.  There have been books, lectures, seminars on how to respond favorably to achieve great customer service.  Companies, small businesses, entrepreneurs understand the value and return good customer service can bring back to you.  I’d like to talk for this moment about great clients. Great clients can make it possible to deal with less desirable clients as they come along. Mary Lou was such a client.

Being a Realtor isn’t an easy task. I’ve met the most unethical people I’ve ever had to work with doing real estate.  Lies, half-truths, misleading customers to get their way in hopes of a larger something or another. That’s from agents and customers alike.

I was lucky enough to have two great clients come my way the first year I was practicing real estate sales.  One bought a house from me, and continues to stay in touch,  and one rented a summer rental from me and continued to come back to me for the next six years to rent something.  Mary Lou Cain was the nicest summer rental client I have ever had.  She called me Honey Dear.  Who does that? No one.  She was disarming in her charm and grace.  She was a lovely person inside and out.  As a couple she and Charles had much to be proud of.  Retirees with discretionary income to enjoy lifes many pleasures.  Large family, grand kids to share their lives with. One son is a doctor at Columbia Presbyterian in New York.

People who met them said the same things. She was a lovely person. She kept in touch for Holiday’s and birthdays with people she only knew seasonally. I looked forward to calling her and helping them find their next new summer rental.  For two years they would rent the same home then look for something new.  Then two years again. She would compliment me on my choices that I found for them. “You always do a great job finding us something wonderful Kathy”, she would say, “you really do.”

Sadly I just learned I will not rent them a summer home anymore.  Mary Lou I knew had a cancer diagnosis last December but thought at the time it was controllable. With cancer you never know, and her Ovarian Cancer was not controllable. She passed the end of March.  Her diagnosis came too late.  She is at peace now.  I pray for her family, Charles and all their children and grandchildren that they have the great memories of her to sustain them.  Having gone through my father’s cancer death and Hospice care I shared with Charles my own experiences and he seemed comforted by that.  Hospice care givers are an amazing group of people. Charles is a wonderful example of an outstanding client as well. Always respectful and kind in his words. They made it possible for me to deal with less respectful clients. There confidence in me, and the way they expressed their gratitude buoyed me through other trying times. That is the mark of a great client.
  Charles said he thinks back and says Oh, if we did this sooner, if we did that sooner perhaps the outcome would have been different. But we can’t go back only forward.

RIP Mary Lou Cain. You will be missed greatly by all that knew you and you will stand in my memory as the best summer rental client I have ever had to date and probably ever will have.  Thank you for the memory you were truly dear to me.