Category Archives: Websites

New Digital Images–A Traditional Painter Aims for the 21st Century

Digital Painting, Plum Island Spring, Mary Baker © 2014

Plum Island Spring, Mary Baker © 2014

Jeff Ives, the husband of Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, did the nicest thing.  He put the first four images of the new digital body of work by yours truly, up on Tumblr. I was very moved.

Way, way, way back in December 2012 I wondered out loud on The Newburyport Blog, if traditional painting was going the way of the buggy whip and the typewriter. And way back then, I decided to learn “digital stuff,” and have come up with, what I hope, is the first 4 images of a new digital body of work.

Although The Newburyport Blog got a recent mobile device friendly facelift, my traditional art website languishes in a less well coded world, soon, one day, to be updated with the new digital images.

For the moment, this new art foray into the 21st century, by moi, a traditional painter for so many decades, I don’t even want to say, is on Facebook, and the new images as they get created can, for the moment, be found on the “New Work “Album here (and if you would “Like” the Facebook page here that would be most awesome!!).

Editor’s Note:  My apologies, my hosting server redirected the blog to another place, it has now been corrected.  Thank you so much for your patience.

The Newburyport Blog Can Now be Read on Phones and Other Mobile Devices

George checking  to see if the blog can be read on an IPhone

George checking to see if the blog can be read on an IPhone

George is happy that I finally did something about “this” (we haven’t heard from George, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog, for a while, “Hello George.”). “This” being that the format of the Newburyport blog was not mobile phone or mobile device friendly.  Oh George, such an “on trend” frog, trying to keep me focused on such “nerdy” things as correcting code.  And of course the silly little frog is right. Not to have the blog mobile device friendly, how unfocused of moi.

So George has been sitting around at a laptop, experimenting.  And yes, much to George’s delight, the blog now seems to be readable on a mobile phone as well as a mobile pad or a tablet.  What a happy frog.

Walking with Dogs in the Greater Newburyport Area

First it was learning about the Happy Chickens blog, and now learning about a blog about dogs – “Walking with Dogs in Greater Newburyport, (off leash experiences in the Newburyport area),” by Kim Kudym.  Kim’s blog is an an exploration of the area’s gorgeous places that can be shared with a canine friend. How fun!

Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

And how fun not only for dog owners, but anyone who would like to explore the area, with dogs, children, family, friends or just on your own.  Very cool!

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

Kim has started to post photos of outings in various places. Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, and Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury – and they just want to make you go out there and start exploring!!  There are also many Newburyport favorites including Cooper North Pasture and the Little River Nature Trail Newburyport, to name a few.

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

A great addition to the Newburyport blogosphere!!  Thanks Kim!!

Content Syndication and SEO at The Newburyport Blog

George looks at me and says, “Dahling…”

“Dahling” George? “Dahling?” First it was “Oy Vey,” and now it’s “Dahling.”

The frogs pow-wow around my computer.

The frogs pow-wow around my computer.

The “Oy Veh” thing was suspect enough for me and the readers of the Newburyport Blog that your wonderful Newburyport “pedigree,”  George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall, might be suspect.  But what in the world has the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog been watching? (And, really, do buttoned up old Yankees [not many buttoned up old Yankees around these days, at least they seem to be dwindling here in Newburyport], say “Dahling,” I don’t think so.)

George and the twins pow-wow around my computer.  They point out to me that another site  is getting a whole lot of credit for stuff that I write on my blog, even images, good grief.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the Newburyport Blog going out the window.

George rolls his eyes at me and continues, “Dahling, how could you have known? Stop beating yourself up.”

(George has obviously been watching some sort of combination of Dr. Phil and Bubbles Devere [aka Matt lucas], good grief!)

George, I’m not “beating myself up,” so get a grip. These folks could not have been nicer.  They wanted to promote the Newburyport Blog, and put at least, count’m, 5 links back to the blog on every post they syndicated!  Who could ask for more than that!!

But what do do.  With some sadness, I get in touch with these kind folks, and ask them if they would take all the content down that is from the Newburyport Blog. Sigh. And maybe Google will sort it all out in a week or so, and Google would realize that, moi and the Newburyport Blog writes this stuff.

The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog

The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog

“You could have done your homework, you know.” Say the Twins (aspiring political consultants to the Newburyport Blog).

“Say what?”  I say, and am in a little bit of a huff. Twerpy little frogs!!

But they are right. And this is from Google itself (which I had never seen before).

“Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”

Who knew. I would feel weird asking someone not to index (i.e. having their stuff show up on Google etc.) stuff on their sight, even if it was my stuff. And from a technical point of view, it could be mighty hard, especially if folks would be using a blogging software like WordPress.

So Google puts one in one weird dilemma.

George’s Take on Happy in Newburyport

George pondering the relationship between The Newburyport Blog and the website Happy in Newburyport

George pondering the relationship between The Newburyport Blog and the website Happy in Newburyport

George Cushing, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog has pointed something out to me.  He has pointed out that I am not showing up for the stuff that I am blogging about on Google, the way I used to, even a week ago, and the fact that traffic to the Newburyport Blog is down. Instead, George points out to me, that the “headlines,” “titles” that I’ve been writing recently are showing up for something called “Happy in Newburyport,” and he and I and The Newburyport Blog are somewhere way down the list in Google world.

Who knew that George was such a tech-savvy frog?

So George and I have a chat.  This is the thing, the owner of Happy in Newburyport contacted me because he wanted to promote the Newburyport Blog on his new website, Happy in Newburyport.  “Fine, fine, fine,” says moi.  And I explain to George that this was a very nice compliment, I just didn’t expect that Google would now find me semi-irrelevant.

I also explain to George, now George is looking at me very puzzled, that the owner John Wells is a realtor in Newburyport that not only sells, but actually appreciates historic homes.

Well, George likes this.

And I tell George, that John Wells is a realtor that is now standing up for Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD), which is a very nice thing, since I’ve been getting a lot of (mean spirited) flack lately (vast understatement)… if you consider being called a “Nazi controlling zealot,” flack.  And that it is very refreshing to have a realtor in Newburyport stand up in a no-nonsense sort of way and speak out very strongly about the LHD.

George ponders with some pensiveness this piece of information, so I show George the comment that John Wells wrote on the Petition in Support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District, which you can sign here… :

As a Real Estate Broker, I feel that protecting the appearance of Newburyport historic homes is important to maintaining everyone’s real estate values in town. I am also comfortable with the layers of controls in the proposal that will ensure that the commission members do not have unreasonable power over homeowners and will be replaced on a regular basis while being selected from a pool of citizens of varying interests. We cannot leave future development to chance!”

And then later Mr. Wells is even more emphaphatic:

I urge everyone who believes in the future of Newburyport to step forward and support this action. The opposition to it is completely based on ignorance of how this is set up to work – there are checks and balances and property owner interests are not thrown out the window as they would have you believe. If you are concerned, the details are online at http://cityofnewburyport.com/Planning/lhd.html.”

George really ponders this one.  And we decide that it is very nice to have someone in the Newburyport real estate world that so fiercely defends Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), and that we will monitor and ponder the fate of how Google thinks about The Newburyport Blog in light of this new semi, sort of partnership with Happy in Newburyport.

Web Design, Newburyport

The idea for the last of the free websites from Mary Baker Design, came from my walks around the historic district in Newburyport, MA. The web design is the “Window Box” website. A portion of the original photograph is at the top of the entry.

For me it is often the preservation of not only large elements, but also the small, sometimes intangible things, that preserve the “soul” of a city. In the photograph of “Window Box” there is one of those things. The window in the photograph is original to the house. Original glass is wavy, has “personality” if you will. A small thing, but when every window looked out of has historic glass in it, the experience adds up. The first house I owned in Newburyport, MA had original windows. And I loved looking out at the world though the window of all the people that had come before me.

The window in the photograph of “Window Box” has a storm window over it, which are often put on windows of historic homes. Storm windows appear to have gone out of fashion, which I think is too bad, because, when I had the privilege of living in an historic home, I thought they worked. In the photograph, you can see the screen on the storm window, as well as what I think of as a quintessential Newburyport, New England curtain.

And then there is of the custom, so loved in Newburyport, MA, of putting flowerboxes in windows all over our small, historic New England city, making it a delight, for people like me, to walk all over town, and appreciate the effort and pride that residence of Newburyport, MA have in their homes and in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

The demo of the free website “Window Box” at Mary Baker Design can be seen here. The web design of the “Window Box” can be downloaded for free here. If you need any help setting up your free web site, please feel free to contact me at Mary Baker Design. A screen shot of the web site is also included in this entry.

Newburyport Website Design

The second free website design that I created, contains three historic photographs of Newburyport, Massachusetts. It was a tough decision to decide which ones to use. But eventually I chose the photographs of the clipper ship in Newburyport’s waterfront harbor, a view of downtown Newburyport, looking up the Merrimac River, and a detail of the a clam worker from the historic photograph, the Clam Houses. All three photographs are in the public domain, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library, in Newburyport, MA. The historic photograph of the Clam shack worker is at the top of this post.

The website design “Old Photographs” can be downloaded for free at Mary Baker Design. A demo of the Newburyport website design can be seen here.

The website design is in a WordPress format. WordPress is a terrific software. It is very flexible, and the person who downloads the website design can put their own title, description, content and navigating information on the top menu bar as well as on the side.

The site can be made to look like a website, a blog or a combination of both. If you are puzzled by what to do with the website once it is downloaded, please contact me at Mary Baker Design.

The first two websites based on the old photographs of Newburyport, MA are a way of giving back to the seacoast, New England city of Newburyport, MA that I love so much. And I figured that if the website designs are downloaded and used, that they would be a great advertising tool for the historic city of Newburyport, MA, a wonderful place to live, to work, to visit, to raise a family, to retire to and just to plain old enjoy and have fun. I’ve also included a snapshot of what the website design of “Old Photographs” actually looks like. You can see the “Old Photograph” website design page here.

Newburyport Websites

In this lousy economy I’ve been working on designing websites. And because there now appear to be so many folks blogging in Newburyport, MA, I’ve designed a series of free websites that can be downloaded for free at Mary Baker Design. The websites are in the form of WordPress software and can be configured in any way. The title, description, content and menus on the top and side can be custom created by the person who downloads the website. They can look like a blog, or they can be made to look like a website or a combination of both. If anyone does download a free website, I will be glad to help them set it up. See the contact information at Mary Baker Design.

Because the historic photograph of the Clam Shack Workers is so beloved in Newburyport, MA, I decided to use that photograph in the first free website design. The photograph of the Clam Shack Workers is in the public domain, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library, in Newburyport, MA.

Over the years I’ve discovered that one of the things that folks seem to like best about the Newburyport Blog is the collection of Newburyport historic photographs, from either the Newburyport Public Library or the Library of Congress. The website “Clam Shack” is one of two free websites that uses old photographs of Newburyport, Massachusetts. A demo of the “Clam Shack” website can be seen here.

Old Photos and Bippies

I’ve been working my bippies off. I’m not sure what bippies are, or how much or just how many are actually left, but I’m pretty sure I have a whole lot less of them.

It’s the website thing. I’m designing websites. And this is what I’ve concluded. Why in the world would someone have a website that, when they want it changed, every page need fixing, when there are these content management things, and when you want a “new look,” poof everything changes in a flash.

I decided that if I’m going to design websites, it would look pretty silly not to design my own website. Missy Chabot of Chabot Web Design, not only designed my website, way back when in the year 2004, but she also became a really good friend. So do I feel like a heel? Yup, I sure do. But if I don’t want a website designed by moi, than who else would possible want one? And besides, who better to practice on than myself.

What I discovered, I never really thought about this, is that I have 24 pages on my website. That’s a lot of pages, there’s no poof on that one. The Newburyport Blog, I see, now has more than 1000 pages. That’s really a whole lot of pages. And I say to myself, “Can you imagine changing 1000 pages one by one, when poof, 1000 pages can change like that?”

I’m working away on changing my website, I’m currently on page nine, there’s a ways to go.

The other thing that I’ve discovered is that I have “Safari,” and everything I design looks pretty good in Safari. But when I go and take a gander at whatever it is that I’ve designed, in Internet Explorer, it looks like crap. Plus all the IE versions look different. Things look different in IE5.5, in IE6, in IE7, I mean really different. I’m trying to make friends with IE, but sometimes I’m starting to think of IE as the enemy.

I have a “draft” of a website, that’s based on old photographs of Newburyport, MA, that are in the public domain, courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library, here in Newburyport, MA. When Mary Baker Design goes live, folks can download the website with the old Newburyport photos for free. A sort of giving back to the community thing.

I don’t know if my friend /enemy IE is completely happy with the draft yet, the wrestling with IE providing me with a lot less bippies. But I’m willing to let folks take a peek at the upcoming free Old Photos website from the upcoming Mary Baker Design (currently in beta version).

Photoshop Frames for Frogs

As most of you already know, but probably most of you don’t really care, George Cushing of Frog Pond, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog, is pissed at me because he thinks the “new look” makes him look yucky.

I’m a sucker for frogs who feel sorry for themselves, and actually George has a point, he could look better. Also, in exploring my inner geek, I’m also falling in love with Photoshop all over again. So, I decided (not just for George, but also for my paintings that are on the World Wide Web) to see what I could come up with Photoshop frame-wise, to make him look just a little spiffier.

Placating frogs. Yup, that’s what we do over here at the Newburyport Blog.

Website Design Outrage

The frogs are outraged.

The frogs are outraged because they think the new “look” of The Newburyport Blog makes them look awful. In fact they think it makes them look “tacky.” (What can I say, they’ve always looked somewhat “tacky,” but believe me, I’m not going to go there.)

I tell the frogs (I haven’t put a photo of the frogs, just incase the new “look” does in fact make them look less than their amphibian sparkling best, just a previous link to their entire frog page, “About George”) that the color scheme is actually pretty close to the old “look.” They are not placated. They tell me that the maroon headlines brought out their eyes (I of course am rolling mine). I tell them they have beady black eyes and the maroon headlines did nothing of the sort.

I also tell them, if I’m going to experiment with designing websites, for goodness sakes, why not start experimenting on one of my own sites, for crying out loud. And that there is always tweaking that can be done, and worstcase scenario I can always change back to the old look. Good grief.

I also tell them that they should pay attention to their new president, who said that it was “time to put away childish things,” and that they are definitely being very childish. That there is a big difference between silly and whiney, and they are definitely being stupid wildly whiney.

And they say, they don’t care, that they would like to be selfish, narcissistic (pretty big word for a frog, have they been studying psych?) frogs and they don’t give a rip what the new president said. And I say, “Guys, depending how you look at it, you are in “good” company, because there appear to be plenty of Wall Street folks who feel exactly the same way.”

Rhododendron Weather Predicting Qualities

I don’t need to turn on the weather channel or peer at my web weather channel bookmark setting on my computer, to know in the morning when it’s New England cold outside.

When I wake up and my hands feel all crinkly and dry, I know it’s one of two thing. A) I’ve developed some mysterious fatal disease over the last 8 hours, or B) the humidity in the house has dropped because it’s freezing outside.

Since so far it has never been A) I usually figure it must be B).

After a few sips of coffee, I shuffle into my studio (where I’m also trying to madly expand Mary Baker Art by obsessively designing websites to be sent out into the world via the World Wide Web) and peer out my window at my trusty outdoor thermometer. And sure enough, it’s B), the wretched thing reads below 10 degrees, and it’s freezing outside.

I also learned to tell whether it was cold outside, without looking at an outdoor thermometer, by my Dad. As a young girl, by father would take me to the dinning room window, point at the loan rhododendron in the small yard next door, and point out that the leaves on the loan rhododendron were not perky, but shriveled and pointing straight down to the ground. Ergo, my father would point out, it was freezing outside and I better “bundle up.” Sure enough he was always right.

I’ve always been fond of rhododendrons. Maybe it’s the vast array of rhododendrons at Maudslay State Park here in Newburyport, that at one point were subjects of lots of paintings by me. Or, it could be the fond memories of my father’s rhododendron weather science predictions. Or it could be multi-determined.

I’ve planted all sorts of rhododendrons in my small Newburyport garden, and I peer at them on winter mornings, trying to guess the New England temperature, before I shuffle in and peer at my trusty outdoor weather thermometer. My rhododendrons, weather predicting wise, are always right on the money.

However, I’ve noticed that rhododendrons, landscaping wise, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, appear to be going out of fashion.

As I keep squeezing yet one more rhododendron plant in my now rhododendron filled small garden, I notice that huge, literally century old, magnificent and stately rhododendron plants are being hacked out of century old High Street magnificent gardens, not to mention lesser century old rhododendrons in “lesser” Newburyport destinations.

So, either I’m out of touch with new landscaping designs (which is highly probable), or the owners of the dwelling in which these gorgeous rhododendrons are being hacked down, don’t know about their weather predicting qualities. Or maybe they do know about their weather predicting qualities, but figure since they now live in the 21st century, they can watch the weather channel instead.

Newburyport Perpetual Winter

I’m still here you know.

I meet someone in the grocery store. Their face lights up with relief, huge hug, “You haven’t left,” they say. “You didn’t go to Minnesota.”

It’s nice to see their face light up.

Endomorphins from huge hugs are always appreciated.

But the “Minnesota” thing has me stumped. Maybe in the midst of yet another New England winter from hell, I might, might consider, possibly a stint in much warmer place like North Carolina, for instance. But Minnesota? As I recall from my vast readings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, winters in Minnesota are far worse than in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

I meet someone in CVS shortly after my very nice encounter in the grocery store. “You’re still here? We thought you’d left.” No, “How nice to see you.” Certainly no lighting up of any face. No, just a good old “Newburyport Yankee,” “You’re still here?”

Ah, what a relief. The “dichotomy” that is Newburyport appears to be very much around. The “dichotomy” that I’ve written about on the Newburyport Blog for now 3 years (good grief), poked at, mused over, tried to explain, is still very much part of the community in which I live. I find myself oddly relieved by this.

I like these “tough old birds.”

“Tough old bird,” was a “saying” that my Mother used to use. This was way before feminism was even quaintly fashionable. No one in their right mind would refer to any female these days as a “tough old bird.”

Where have I been? Obsessing over the sucky, let’s face it, yes, it’s beyond sucky, economy. Wondering (vast understatement) if anyone in their right mind would buy gorgeous paintings (I’m an artist), when even the very rich are losing their houses (or at least some of their houses).

So I’ve been designing “web stuff.” (Hopefully more on this later.) Thinking that it could be a good idea to expand “Mary Baker Art” to “web stuff.” I’ve been contemplating that websites could be works of art, launched into the universe by the World Wide Web, aka the Internet.

Yes, and what better project, I say to myself, than to design websites, during a sucky New England winter, that feels like something out of Narnia when that witch was in charge. It feels sometimes, like a frozen, perpetual “Ground Hog Day.”

One of my neighbors looks at me quizzically as I brush my front steps of snow (lots of snow) with a dainty, somewhat beat-up, broom. I tell them that it gives me hope that in the not too distant future, I will be complaining about wretchedly long hot summers (this is actually true).

They shrug (it’s a good thing that I’m an artist, I can pretty much get away with this kind of nonsense) and look at me as if I’m nuts.