Saturday, January 21, 2017

Made My Day

Surely some of you know how much I like letter openers. They're like hot clogs:  you can never have too many. So where was a letter opener when I really needed one??? I was in such a hurry to open it I used a serrated knife for goodness sakes! I will never neaten it up though. No, not ever. I like it just the way it is, because this is the last letter I'll have from my president. And I will never ever use that knife for food again. I'm gonna bronze that thing!

I apologize for the poor quality but low light is to blame. I won't share the full content of his last letter here; some words are meant to be savored in private. Hope. Hope, like prayer. is personal.

President Obama's staff have always answered my letters. They manage to say the right things in response to my queries and comments. Their words sound like his. And they use my first name. That makes me blush! Every single time. I feel like he really is talking to me. And here, he says, "Again, thank you for writing to me." Repetition reinforces a feeling of sincerity. 

This lovely letter would have arrived on Dr. King's birthday but for the fact that it was a holiday. Talk about serendipitous! Tuesday was good. 

I wonder which stamp he would have used if he could have chosen. Gosh! I'm giggling!

Thank you, Mr. President. You really made my day yesterday.

Sincerely sincere,


Friday, January 20, 2017

A Perfect Antidote for a Stormy Day

You know how you have an idea that stays put while you work out the details only in your mind? No sketchbooks required. You haven't had time to even sketch it out so it works out in demo mode as if you had. This does not mean the thing turns out perfectly, but at the end of the evening it's good enough to wear a handmade label. And so it does. And that's what happened here. An epistolary book comes with different pages between its covers. Gotcha, didn't I? You were expecting the other one . . . the one I haven't finished. (wink and grin)

I forgot to count how many pages there are. But I used some of my best resume papers. The tactile surface is perfect every ink lover's pen of choice. Good paper is always the perfect paper.

Not even bookbinder's glue dries well when you have stormy weather every day in a week. The damp wreaks havoc on the strongest fine tissue paper no matter what yo do. Blowing on it does not work. Neither does an electric fan. If you accidentally get it on tulle you can forget about gently washing it out. You'll only succeed in ruining the sweet tissue paper you saved for five years. So, you do the best you can, and hope the recipient will call the little hiccups  perks that come with it being handmade. 

The gold ribbon embellishment works for me. That tulle is something else.

The intended recipient loves trees as much as I do. This I know for a truth. I saved this paper for at least three summers. Who knew I'd meet the perfect owner two years later?  For each thing there is a season. Life works out that way sometimes. The same scene played out before me today, yesterday, the day before, and several days before that--just outside my window. Everything is all taupe skies, brown muddy ground, and rain. The perfect antidote for stormy day? Repeat the colors in a special way. Make them match! Or out-match it, and do whatever makes you happy!

The perfect envelope color ? Orange of course! 

A label to match and . . .  my mail bag is fuller by one! I still haven't gone to the post office yet. Doing so seems to take more than a notion lately. Soon. It'll happen soon.

A postcard that bears "old" news now.

Most of my letters seem to need Weight Watcher's. They're overweight. They're older than the date written. One might be from December. Sorry. Two boxes and a package definitely are, but Christmas always keeps! Birthdays too. And you won't believe what I found!

. . . to be continued

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Limner Link Flash!


Here's something special for you Janeites: Who can resist a box of lovely period postcards, especially Jane Austen's? Check out the English Muse's blog. I'm willing to bet she has other gems to share. 

Oops! I'm right. Here's another:

"Another," I ask? And I answer myself, "Yes, dear self! It 'tis! Have a look-see and spread the word!" And so I am:

Do you read post comments? Sometimes I cannot help but read them. Try these. And thank the English Muse. Please.

I have a surprise of my own, too. While much cannot be revealed just now, I cannot help myself from showing you this:

A different accordion booklet. It's in my must-try column. Do you save the cardboard stock postage stamps are shipped with? They make great book cover stock. I hope to have mastered this gem by Valentine's Day.

I knew I saved cute little shopping bags for a reason. What a show-and-tell epistolary book this will be! All the little good things I hoard save were destined for grander things. Their destiny unfolds, albeit slowly. But guess what. I have an entire year minus nineteen days. Yum! 

This is just so sweet. It's on my list too, perhaps with a twist.

I look forward to venturing into this section. I've only thumbed through because I couldn't help myself or trust myself not to dive right in. My drawing table overfloweth with projects stuck mid-way between being a notion, listing in the demo stage, and being not quite ready for review. I am in my element!

(I pecked this while waiting for glue to dry.)

. . . to be continued  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

There's a Whole Lot of Shakin' n Makin' Goin' On!

Sometimes my hands shake when I wish they wouldn't, but how can they not shake when the body they belong to shivers with excitement? Just seeing R47 Strong Red sends a frisson of pleasure up my spine! And all her kin bump it up several degrees. Anti-ci-paaa-tion is making me quake.

I'm torn between showing you the books I'm binding--all intended to become epistolary memoirs. No-no-no! Don't freak out! Epistolary memoirs or bits of memoir are, simply put, letters in book form. Whew! Those little folded gems won't leave me alone, so I'm ramping mine up a degree or three. Don't judge yet. Wait and see. This little Christmas gift keeps me reading and oohing and ahhing before lights out at night. There are wicked ideas between these covers. Some just plain blow my mind. Scary and good are the best descriptors for content here. 

Baring my bound guts here. Had to buy new binding needles 'cause I couldn't find my old. The natural linen thread took some getting used to. It works for me though. And the books. Oh, the books on my mental assembly line keep me working day and night. 

I'm stumped here thinking I should have covered the tabs too, but too little too late. The pink and yellow burns my retinas, but it's actually cute enough to compensate for the pain. Besides, my eyes return to normal by bedtime. And this is the back. 

It's what's inside that counts more than anything else. Well, there's the clever design. Ahem.


Ta-dum! I knew all the binding, and bookmaking tools, and supplies would come in handy one day. Some are years old but still and all  . . . As long as it doesn't go to waste. Winter months are good for more than hibernating, y'all. And booking stuff isn't just for books.

. . . to be continued

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why I Can't Make It to the Post Office

Why I Can't Make It to the Post Office 
Why I Haven't Gone to the Post Office. Yet

Goodness. I wish I knew. No matter how hard I try there's always bunches to do.

I have to patch the giant snowman since no one else seems to care that the sun makes him melt and in places he is bare. 

Un-decorating the giant fir must be done with absolute care. Someone has to do it so the job fell to this semi-hibernating she bear. 

Looks like a Snuffleupagus died and someone buried it in our back yard! Hacking and whacking a thwacking away with a machete hasn't made it disappear. It'll be decomposing well into this new year!

So I found time to help it along. A whole lot of work multiplied one long hump by five! Now there are four more smaller piles that need a disguise. Oh, my goodness, time is closing in on me. Forget visions of sugar cane juicing around inside my head! The big giant plant is dead for the winter.

I squeezed in time to make cream of broccoli soup. Today of all days! Flavor buds cannot be duped into eating anything canned. Hot homemade soup will never be banned, not even on a warm day like this. And we know homemade takes time. Cook now, write a letter about it later. Oh, yum! You're a mum too, right?

I found time to pick up this poor thing again. It's been over a year (I think.) since I first cracked the cover. This house is littered with unfinished books. How shameful. Right? Not really. Not much else says your cup runneth over the way a surfeit of books does, says the little girl who almost died of starvation for the written word bound and covered. Let the church say amen. And there's flossing and eye drops for too dry eyes, clay tools, stamps, a mouse, bookbinding and bookmaking and book illustrating and drawing fun stuff . . . 

There's forever time to enjoy my very last Christmas gift! Homemade charcoal from Anna. I love how it smells and works on paper. My first charcoal came from our trash pile. Did I ever tell you that? I discovered the leftovers from Aunt Pauline's burn pile made lovely marks on paper, and I smuggled it out every chance I got. Thank you, dear Anna. And please, please, please post oh how to  make handmade charcoal! 

Even the box was chosen with thought and care. Did I tell you hover flies fed along side bumble bees last week before the first frost? I took pictures! Now all the sunflowers are dead and gone. Spring will be here though, before very long . . .

I had to try it out the very first day! Oh, I am so rusty, you say. It's true. Old artists never die they just get up and give it another try. Besides, drawing from memory shouldn't count. There's always time to draw. I have 365 more chances since December. 

There's time to reminisce and laugh--look back, no over long lingering lest we turn into a pillar of salt. Heed Mrs. Lot on your way forward along the path. No chipping away for a little taste! Mind your manners and move on. 

I'm still working on the story behind my great escape that never made it off the page. It's still raw. Almost too painful. My heart is still sore. (sigh) 

It hurts a little less each time I wear my bracelet. Santa gave me the new Silver Stream charm. You know they let your practice driving and parking those gems before you buy, right? You learn right off the bat if you're incapable of soloing. The truth can hurt. But there's always someone else who can, and the word vicarious becomes a gentle substitute for the real deal. And links! A link can be balm. This is one of the best blogs ever. I hope you will find enough time to get to the "jumping off place." Wink at me when you do. Until then . . . let us live well that we may write well. See you in the mail first chance I get. I'll make it to the post office soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Straddling Old and New

Here's hoping yesterday was not another "It's a Monday Moaner;" instead, I hope everyone was so glad to get over the weekend that we hugged Monday so hard its bones creaked like old fashioned stays. Tuesday's totally embraceable too because we're still huffing Monday's lovely fumes. We basked in sunshine two days in a row here. And while I love overcast dove gray days as much as any other, I got to sit on the patio while the birds looked down on me in wonder. Baby birds chirped! How? Because although I twisted and turned in every direction that has trees, I could not for the life of me discover their hidey home. Their trills sounded so sweet--sweeter than a sugar beet tastes. Or so I imagine. Truth is I had trust Google for the sugar beet facts, and ended up wondering why sugar cane isn't preferred. No matter since I like turbinado sugar best anyway. A little goes a long way and it enriches my tea while I sip and read. Or write. Or sit on the patio. One cannot eat sugar cane and sip-read-write, but I do like those sugary bites my mama taught me to savor. We were kids when she did. We laughed, groaned, and made fun of her for thinking we'd touch that funny looking length of pole with a ten foot pole! But it was pretty with all those colors that blended from deep root beer purple to pale-pale green. 

She ignored her silly children, and peeled back sections of the stalk with the sharpest knife in the kitchen. Six cuts in all with the first being hers. You smelled the juice before you saw it! My mouth waters now just as it did way back then! I got the first piece, and made like a vampire. Mama just laughed and said, "Just chew it." She didn't have to tell me twice. Too entranced to ask if we should wash it first, I bit. Warm sweetness gushed, filled my mouth, and dribbled down my chin before I swallowed a single bite. Who knew? Why didn't she warn me? I tried to lick my chin and simply forgot to talk but I grinned. Those bursts of flavor and juice running down converted me. I chewed quicker-quick-quick--as vigorously as all get out, and had that de-juiced fiber been pounded and spread out, it could have been pressed into paper. It was just that good! And no, you cannot, should not ever try to swallow the fiber after the good stuff is gone. 

With five children I still wonder why our mama brought home a single stalk of sugar cane. To tempt us, of course! To teach us a little bit more of the world we lived in then? To share a little sweetness from her childhood--her old life? Such a lesson for the city kids she and Daddy brought back to their hometown never left us. So I asked. Turned out her cousin's husband was pressing sugar can for cane syrup, and he gave her a gift for her young 'uns. I can see bamboo to this very day and taste that pale sweet nectar like I'd discovered it for the first time just this morning. There's a story behind my very first taste of turbinado sugar too, but it'll keep for another day.

Good mail is just as memorable as sugar cane. Even unanswered it stays with me, and I find yourself composing replies in my head as I go about my daily busy-ness of living, just like some of y'all. I tend to sit and engage in daily contemplation more than ever lately but I believe that is just another part of what comes with this season. I find myself reading a little bit more instead of pining for things I cannot quite picture or name. Keeping notes and forgetting why I did is slowly coming back to me. It's because I mean to share lovely anecdotes with particular pen friends! Reading through a recipe to see if the ingredients are on hand happens more frequently too. I dream of avocado sandwiches! Do you cook less and boil more in winter? I do. But I see yellow layer cakes instead of apple bread too. Green apples! Green pastas and colored salads quicken may palate! What? Am I ahead of Spring already? The new year always shakes me up a little--sure signs the Green Season is waiting in the wings!

The new year is the best time to file away the past year's mail as well. You'll find it in the most unlikely places throughout our home including summer's put away bag, books, drawers, and any one of my Mama's Got a Brand New Bag bag. Wherever I am have been, mail is. I marvel at all the words sent my way and returned in reply before guilt stabs and jabs my conscience over the envelopes and postcards that fell along the way to shorter days, diminished energy and presence of mind. I muster enough goodwill for one letter . . . two . . . and then I'm blue again. Not sad blue! No, not sad, but a blue that's too calm to disturb; the blue that gets you through winter because it swaddles me in a blanket of Peace and Detachment that Mom Nature knit and blocked just for me. It gets a body through the darkness. Father Time helps me lose count of days and weeks when he allows me to sit on my hands, or do some of the things I've neglected three seasons back. In truth, to every thing there really is a season. And it is so when it comes to correspondence. 'Tis the time to collect last year's mail, band it and box it, and put it away. 

This is me straddling last year and the new. It's a good feel.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Letter One On January One In 2017

I am excited for all the promise 2017 holds for each of us, because I believe each year has 365 days for us to repeat, delete, and get things right again. We get to write new mail and answer the old.  There's amnesty too. We get to forgive and be forgiven for falling short of our letter-writing intentions. And yes, if we are judged by our intentions, then we are judged righteously. So in that vein I declare this to be my official first letter of the year. 

May the little blue bird of happiness land on your head.