Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Second Card of the Season

A brown Santa bear, a shiny bright star, twinkling lights strung in a row, winter berries, and words of cheer: All lovely confirmation that it's my favorite time of year! My second Christmas card is from Maria. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Inklings

The first snow! Made me wonder:  How many snow angels can dance on the head of a safety pin? So I watched "It's a Wonderful Life" one more time and tried to do the math. I need a cheat sheet. Clarence is still the best angel to come in from the sleet though.

Last night, before I slept, I drew a short stack of holiday postcards. Coloring is scheduled for tonight. Ooh la! Today I was determined to make a gumdrop tree but couldn't find the courage to mangle the little lemon tree that grows in a pot on the patio. I scrubbed the kitchen table, dried it well, and rubbed essence of lemon oil into the wood instead. Busy work is always better than sitting on my hands, and it saved a potential tree. I placed a bowl of lemons in the center, and inhaled deeply. It altered my mood. Now the kitchen smells positively tropical! Perhaps I should have used oil of peppermint?

This is my first Christmas card. It came today. Talk about serendipity! 

I do wish for snow. JC does the opposite. He actually asked me why. I, in turn wonder why he asks why! Can you believe we have a fireplace? A gas one at that. It's never been used--not even when it "snowed.". It's a waste of space if you ask me. Besides, who needs a fireplace in a living room in the south? Did I mention we're still using the a/c? 

So, yes indeed, the first card of the season is a very big deal. A little magic was tucked inside; with it came the year's first offering of YuleTide cheer! I like that happy Santa seal. It's such a big deal! Thank you, L.R.! It's beginning to feel like Christmas in this very wonderful life.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Feeling Like the Back End of an Elephant

If you ever find yourself feeling like the back end of an elephant, shake it off. You can never ever imagine what the back end of an elephant feels like, for real. So think of yourself as the truest thing you are: human. To err is human. To fall and get up again is why there are ups and downs. Forgiveness begins at home. And, try not to be a show-off. Try not to say, "I told you so!" It might feel good, but don't say it. Don't even think it. Because if you do, you might jinx yourself. 

Remember all he "Olympics" mail I sent to Rio? Mailed it and forgot about it. I didn't even keep count because it wasn't about the numbers. Well, maybe. To some, one might be the loneliest number, but that's all it takes sometimes. One is better than none, right? You'll never guess who wrote back. I put the envelope someplace to keep it safe until I got around to telling you about it. Guess what else. I cannot find it. Perhaps that's what I get for wanting to show off? 

This is all sounding like lost-so-go-seek. I found all those stamps I ordered some months ago, during my search of said Olympian's response. Yea, me. 

The more I searched the more I discovered.

I remember these! How did I lose misplace so many stamps??? 

Q:  How can so many goodies hide in plain sight? 
A:  Perhaps you have too much stuff, girl.
A:  Perhaps.

I wish I'd kept a tally of all the mail I've released into the world. Come the new year you'd better believe that I will. Keep talley that is. If I remember. That, dear people, is the secret to successful tallying. Remembering! 

Lovely stamps--perfect choices. The Olympics and Matthew Henson, two favorites that are right up my alley. Matthew Henson's descendants must be proud. Nat' Geo did a story about them one year; They look just like him. I still wonder if it's true that he arrived at the top of the world first because Peary was too ill and had to remain back at the camp until later. I still want to sleep in an igloo. Are they as warm as we've been led to believe? Do you wonder if ink flows from fountain pens there? How often is mail delivered? I wonder who the first Inuits were. Why did they choose to stay? How did they know what to eat? Just wondering. I'd like to get a letter from the North Pole. From someone who lives on the North Pole. In the North Pole? And, no, not from Santa! Or elves. Polar bears either. Speaking of people who live in freezing climes? I discovered a new word today, thanks to Susan Branch. It's hygge! Look it up, or follow this link: 

More on hygge later, but, until then, I consider writing mail, reading mail, reading books and drawing  good hygge. 

So is this. "The lines are very quaintly writ." Don't you just love it? Thank you, dear Anna. Imagine a letter written by a stranger to a stranger and you have the story of us. It set me thinking about pen friends--people we will never truly know, yet we share ourselves nonetheless. I saved a quote that says we read because we want to connect. I scoffed. Quotes aren't necessarily true simply because they are pithy. We tend to hold on to the ones we connect with. Right? And so, I believe it is with pen friends. Every once in awhile, I feel so connected with you that it feels a little scary. But then I settle down, and recognize the truth that we are more alike than we are different. I like to believe that I am a lot like Matthew Henson too, because I want to believe I would have been foolish daring enough to try to make it to the North Pole too, given the chance. Then I come to my senses, and am perfectly honest with myself. I confess, "Girl, you like creature comforts too much to have ever lived like an explorer." I laugh because I haven't always been this way. Sometimes I feel like I'm following the back end of an elephant--holding tight to its tail while it does all the trailblazing. 

Since the best letters are ones with the lines that are very quaintly writ, I'll try to write some tonight.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Mail Magic of Threesomes

You know how celebrity deaths happen in threes? Well, so does goodness. There were three wise men who bore gifts across the desert on camels. Our flag is 1) red, 2) white and 3) blue. There's the baker's dozen: 10 plus 3. Lionel Ritchie says I'm once, twice, three times a lady. There were three blind mice bothering playing with the farmer's wife. In baseball you get three strikes before you're out. There are the 3 Rs in learning: Reading, riting, and ''rithmetic. We have to knock three times on the ceiling . . . Well, the mail man brought three packages that are "r"oughly the same size, yet totally different when it came to their impact. Hmm. 

Do you think there's any such thing as precognitive mail? Anything is possible if one believes, right?  I'm much happier because I believe there are people in this world who know when an act of wonderment is needed. Like  Kerry and her other envelope. I honestly believed the leaf was real. Her scanner is just that good at fooling me. Note the little free lesson? The cleverness of it all impressed me so much! So much so that I went out back and took a leaf from my own little tree, another freebie. It too came free of charge. It took up its abode in a clay pot beneath the free willow. It's taller than I am now, that little maple. It's growing straight and proud. So this is what I did.

I relieved it of a single leaf, wrapped it in a layer of waxed paper, and tucked it inside my King Arthur Flour cookbook for preservation. It's home for the time being is the bookcase in the living room. This is how it looks after a week. It's beautiful! It wants to grace the back of an envelope too some day. So many good things come into my life via mail. Seeds fly in via "air mail." Leaves and pressed flowers arrive via snail mail. I get my share of nature via pigeon post too! 

The front, oh, the front is like the beginning of a strip tease! Such stamps, huh? Such everything! I was making dinner when JC brought home the mail, but those green onions draw the eyeback and forth between them and caterpillar stamps. Right? Okay, let the strip show begin!

Imagine my surprise to see a moose leap from the paper confines! Kerry did what I couldn't figure out how to do safely. I'll tell you about it tomorrow. This is a lovely gift that keeps on giving too. Note the leaf. Hold on to the image for later. Those birds count too.

Autumn and a moose fell into my lap! It's magic. I promise. I'd earmarked the magic for my Christmas mail campaign but Kerry beat me to it, and I'm so glad that she did. You'll see why later. Thanks, Kerry!

Pretty-petty-pretty! If you close your eyes, and run your finger tips across the design, you get a rush that makes you glad you have skin senses.

The cute little note is a perfect match.

The three panels from yesterday stretched out are a marvel. Remember? See? Magic often comes in threes. JC mailed three little letters for me. I wanted to be three sheets in the wind twice this week, but the nasties would still have happened, and I wouldn't be this happy now. I think I'm back. I'm just busy making merries for Christmas. My studio is beginning to hum like a laboratory, or an elf's workshop? No, just me in my creative space, letting loose. This is fun. Oh, what fun!

See you before the snow flies! Prayers going out to everyone in the south east. Be safe. Be well. Let us know how you are.

Oh! The Magi. The three Magi always remind me of magic. They tried to make us see, times 3. (grin)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

. . . continued

An Early Christmas . . . continued

I think I've always been fascinated by female monarchs. Growing up, I read all the romanticized stories and books about Elizabeth that I could get my hands on. She's remains a mystery to this day. It's not like anyone interviewed her back in her day, but PBS recently did a lovely show about the young Queen Bess's wardrobe. Viewers got to see what she looked like from her knickers up! All those layers of clothing and she didn't even wear undies. She didn't need them? The best parts were . . . It was all worth watching, truth be told. The dress with all those eyes and ears embroidered on the fabric was as much fun as the speculation about her virginity and the stories about her giving birth to a daughter. Was Lord Dudley her secret lover? I choose to believe she died with her virginity intact. That's more romantic than imagining she succumbed to her baser passions. Besides, how could her dresser and ladies in waiting have kept secret a royal pregnancy? Women love to gossip too much to keep their tongues still and their lips sealed! Sorry ladies.

I watched the movie about her great grandmother, Queen Victoria last night. I look forward to the new upcoming series that'll be featured Downton Abbey style on Masterpiece in 2017. No one really knows what she was really like either, but since imagination is allowed free reign when it comes to the long dead, so much so that I'm allowed to believe Victoria came again incarnated as Elizabeth I, who incarnated as Elizabeth II. What a lovely story that would make! Too Sci-Fi for you? Victoria and Albert did wonderful things for their subjects, according to the movie, that improved lives across the land. Covering furniture legs do distract from their good in the face of their hypocritical . . . People who try to curb the passions of others usually need dampening themselves. I mean, Victoria and Albert had nine children! Nine! They weren't found in cabbage patches, that's for sure, huh? All those layers of clothing were definitely not reliable methods of birth control. I shudder at the thought of having nine babes back in the day. Laudanum, y'all! Absinthe, too? Emily Blunt did a decent job in the role of Victoria but the cinematography, and watching Albert pen letters to his future wife sold me hook, line,and quill. Sorry, but looking at the photos of the real queen . . . it's easy to imagine her being super smart and not at all passionate enough to bear nine children, who married royalty spread around the rest of the royal world.

Do you ever think of poor Eva Peron?  She only wanted to be vice president. Elizabeth I is still my favorite monarch though. She was clever, intelligent, fiercely independent; a woman of the ages, and a good role model. How the weather turned the tide of war to victory still gives me goose bumps. Such is the stuff of legends. I wonder. Did Victoria ever smile in any of her portraits? I'd be upset if any artist painted my portrait and it ended up a stylized version instead of the real me because I was too plain to please the eye. Thank goodness for photography, right? The camera does not lie. America is long overdue a female at her helm. Whomever she is, she'll steer our still-young ship as righteously as . . . Well. As steadily as . . . as a loving but firm mother who has an eye on each of her too-numerous-to-count children, and their futures. You know what I mean! Elizabeth II cannot ever out-rule QEI. I do admire strong, wise, intelligent women who are not queens or princesses, but are mothers who birth future citizens, and keep their brain jobs at the same time! So thank you, dear Anna, for remembering. It's a good thing I'm not British, because if I were, I'd want young Will's baby sister, Charlotte, to grow up and become queen too. If she wanted to.

Anna, if I could do what you have done here, I'd . . . I don't know if I could part with it. You're super creative. The rich fabrics, papers, stitching, embellishments, and craftsmanship make my mouth water. The jewels are the crowning touch. I wish you could see Elizabeth's undergarments that were curated. She appears to have been tiny. Her clothing was to cry for, and she passed laws forbidding her subjects to out-dresss her. Vain? Or was that her father? Sometimes the trivia I have stored in my brain cells overlaps. Do you wonder how long it took seamstresses and embroiderers to embellish the fabrics that went into her dresses? Such lace! Have you ever sewn beads and pretties on fabric? Those poor women! How did they move? Walk? Ride a horse? Poor Elizabeth.

Those ruffs were beautiful works of art in their own right Those clothes were Kevlar of the time, too. No one could get too close for all the whale bone and fabric! This dress has to be one of my least favorites. Those bows are scary but that red hair makes up for it. I wonder if her face really was caked with ages of makeup that had to be scrubbed off after she died. I like this quote. The colors all work together to create an air of mystery and richness to this powerful woman. She did some chest bumping didn't she? Weak and feeble. Ha! Good for her. 

Your scissors skills are enviable. This is so pretty. The background is a rich tapestry that complements the young queen to a T. The ribbons enhance and repeat the designs in her beautiful jewels and attire. You have no idea how often I've pored over these images. It is said she always carried such religious books . . .

I removed the goodies. They were trapped by a bit of adhesive and needed a day of freedom, otherwise I'd tell a longer tale of the contents. But, then again, some things are meant to be enjoyed in private. Everything is so compact, yet light and delicate. I got goosebumps again when I saw the leaves. I really must find the one I drew as practice for a bit of embellishment. 

This is the perfect back for the perfect Elizabeth folded booklet. Thank you. This makes up for all the ugliness we've had to endure recently. Each time I see this I am reminded that goodness and kindness far outweigh darkness and pain. Y'all have been so nice to me. You've given me beauty that repeats itself with infinite gentleness, and a sense of peace that speaks to all that is right in our world. 


your friend

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Be Still, Be Still, Be Still

Since fast approaching my old girl stage--the eve of my crone age--while I'm outfitting my crone cave, I'm going through all the stuff I thought I needed to get through this lifetime. Sorted piles shrink and re-grow depending on my mood. I find myself wanting less stuff yet am confounded by the amount of stuff that needs being disconnected from. How in the world . . . ? Who'll want it? Not Erin. 

Once upon a time I had very little of everything. I knew better than to ask for anything early on because it was a natural part of learning to make do within the tribe called our family. We moved a lot so the less we had the easier moving was. Hand-me-downs meant I had less than my sister. I wanted books, and crayons, and construction paper, and pans of watercolor. My sister wanted none of those things, so they stayed where they were unless someone els bought them for another girl child with similar tastes. My sister got an electric typewriter when she was sixteen because typing was her thing. She went to college and became one of Houston's finest legal secretaries. We got a set of encyclopedia around the same time the typewriter came. Guess who never got to use that typewriter, but my mother pounded home "You should be a secretary like your sister. There's no such thing as an artist."  I got my first library card and my Social Security card though, knowing I'd get a babysitting job--earn my own money. Then I'd buy all the books and art supplies I needed to paint like the masters I drooled over at the library. I promised I'd have my own big coffee table art books too. Not even adults were allowed to take those darlings home from the library. I bought my own Michelangelo Time Life book at the impressionable age of sixteen. At $4.95 per month, it created my first debt. I never told my parents because I was too frightened. No babysitting jobs came. The employment agency didn't hire people like me. Someone should have told me, don't you think? It would have saved me owing $16.00 to Time Life. The guilt is still with me. Consolation lay within those tomes of Encyclopedia Britannica. I grew to be crazy for Jeopardy. "I'll take $1,00 for whatever, Alex!" Will there ever be a need for all the trivial facts stored inside my brain? But anyway . . . The three siblings that came after me had the latest toys. They eventually got  a bicycle. And we all lived happily ever after. And my cup runs over like there's no end! I have more of all the things denied me than any little girl, young girl, or any old girl could have imagined. Wow. And wow again. I realized it two nights ago. Can you believe it? But that's a whole other story. Oh, dear God! Cicely Tyson is telling me of getting her "Trip to Bountiful"as I type! I've been tripping to bountiful my whole life. Still am, too.

Yes, we all live happily ever after. After all the stuff that comes with living. Like this moment. I've been away for awhile and need more time to do the good things I'm doing, not doing, thinking of doing, and learning how to do. It isn't easy. But nothing worth doing well ever is. So, this is my be still time. It's be still or break, and there's not enough glue in all the cans at Best-Test to put a broken limner back together again, once she breaks. Nothing broken is ever the same. Wait a minute. Maybe it's not the breaking that makes us afraid, maybe it's someone forgetting some of the pieces that might get left behind on the floor--vital pieces. No one wants to be Humpty Dumpty! Who has king's horses and king's men to put us together again? Then again is that so bad? Yet, while I get to be still, sometimes I miss answering and writing letters, and making fun mail art. Truth is, I just cannot do it. Not yet. So, thanks for thinking of me now more than ever. Thank you for the loveliest surprises. 

I photographed this November 9. Chances are good it came before then, but I could be wrong. I do remember my heart going to mush when I saw Griff. He got me good! And all those stars! You see, JC and I saw some stars the night we were in the backyard looking for that super moon. Were startled by all those luminaries that overshadowed it instead. It was a rare experience, since the stars at night are not always big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. See that moon? All those stamps of some of my favorite things? Yes! 

The balloons! Oh, the balloons! I like balloons but always, always, always wish people didn't let them go. We forget what goes up must come down, and when they do their strings too often do damage to wildlife. They entangle creatures meant to live untangled! Mylar does not disintegrate. What happens to the helium? Never mind. I am so in like with balloons! Peace. What does peace need saying for itself? It simply is.

Tucked inside the lovely envelope lay this gem. How could Kerry know? Who told her I have a weakness for such prints? Did you tell her I've been a fan of Andy English for years? And Mangle Prints? And more! How beautiful, right? So perfect, too. Kerry suggested framing it. Well, Kerry, you know me well. I'll hang it in the perfect place to gaze upon its perfection when I sit still to be still. Thank you.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Early Christmas

Are you ever left speechless? You know how when you're someone who can always find the right words to express how you feel: good, bad, or indifferent? And you can talk about someone or some thing you're crazy about until the listener's eyes glaze over and you know they're not listening, but you keep talking anyhow because you'll burst if you don't tell someone how you feel??? Then there are times when you're telling someone, showing them, expressing yourself so well but they don't get what the big deal is. It hurts doesn't it? Just a little, but just enough that you wish you had someone-anyone on the planet who understood. So you grab your journal and you tell it all the things that need telling. It doesn't judge, misjudge, or misunderstand. It just listens.

Do you ever wonder who buys some of the world famous works of art and hide them from the rest of the world; they keep it in special vaults that only they have the combination to, and it's for their eyes only. I never got that until Erin explained it to me recently. How selfish. But I should have understood just a little bit since I'm that way about certain beauty. I tend to indulge my senses with a thing once in awhile too, until I've enjoyed each point of beauty to its maximum. No, I'm not as bad a Gollum, but there are times when you have to believe that it's really yours, so you keep going back for another look, another feel, over and over and over. Then you have to let the notion that someone thinks enough of you to award you stewardship of such beauty sink in. You have to pore over every single detail until you have it all committed to memory. By the time to awaken a lot of time has passed. When you come to, you pray you remembered to send a thank-you note! 

I have seen some beautiful and rare things in this lifetime. I love cotton, and linen. Throughout my life needlecraft has been as familiar as my own handwriting. When I was just girl I could not wait to start piecing quilts. My place at Grandmother's quilting frame was a given. What a shame arthritis ruined her hands before my debut and I outgrew my quilting bag. I took to sewing like a duck takes to water. It was great comfort in the wake of my denial. Cross stitching eventually onsumed my life during the eighties. It was as necessary as food and water, and books. It became an obsession that lasted a decade. I wish I'd finished this. Had I, I'd give it to Anna. Because how could she know of my appreciation of needlework? The doily she gave me still graces my reading chair. How can she bear to part with such priceless gifts? How can I match her generosity?

Drawn thread needlework is absolutely beautiful! I know, I know. I imagine some of you wondering what this has to do with letters, and mail, and mail art. But what is this but a linen drawn thread envelope??? That came through the mail!

Sorry for the latex but I forgot where I stashed the cotton gloves. Turned out they're in my underwear/ sock drawer! But no way could I keep touching the fabric and threads with my bare hands. I didn't want to even breathe on it! Do you wonder who made this? Did the same person who stitched the "envelope" do the fine work? 

I'd love to make such an envelope; so much so that last night I sketched an easy design just in case. You see, I'd love to make a lovely linen envelope too. What would it hold? Oh! I forgot to show you what Anna put inside! Tell you what. I'll show you next time. 

. . . to be continued