Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Twenty Mule Team Borax and Tail Feathers

I took this photo two years ago of yy first bluejay in our backyard. Notice I said my bluejay?  I've fed them at Chez Limner for over twenty-four months now. Cardinals followed. You'd think there would be feathers aplenty by now, yes? 

Well, my largesse finally paid off. A blue-tinged feather! Yes! Sunlight made it the bluest of the blues. It's all I saw in our expanse of green grass. I picked it up, pressed it to my breast, and scurried inside. I remembered to give it a borax bath a little late however. An asthma episode from feathers doesn't seem fair somehow, does it?  This one is the second in as many days, so I used enough borax to make that long ago twenty mule team seem like one of the seven wonders of the world. I washed that little feather as gently as possible, but it still lost its natural form. It's so much smaller now. Instruction from other feather-washers mention using a hair dryer. A what? Who uses those in this house? I blew on it. Even spread the bits with my fingernails. The feathers spread out underwater. They hug each other before they break the surface on their way out. 

I wish I'd Googled how to clean feathers first, as in measure twice, cut once.The best advice is a long, drawn out affair that has to work if it doesn't drive you nuts first.  For the dry cleaning method, here's the link. Dry Clean Feathers. Not up to clicking? Read on:

Steps to Clean the Feathers:

1. Fill a bag with óne cup flour, one cup corn meal, and three tablespoons borax.
2. Place the feathers in the bag.
3. Close the bag and shake the feathers around in the powdery mix.
4. Once the feathers are clean, remove them.
5. Shake the feathers to remove any excess powder.

The gasoline method is scary. If you're like me, and you use fire for wax seals, don't mess with this one. I do not use Woolite so let us skip that one too. I used borax in a bowl of tepid water. Go ahead and laugh. Then go clean your feathers after you get over yourself. I'll try the dry method as soon as my respiratory system calms down. 

I might be sick but I wrote a one page letter with Mrs. Duffy's gift before I caved. The nib is a beautiful Italic. I'm better at Italic than the other calligraphy styles, probably because I've messed around with it for decades. My bamboo pen is one of my secret treasures. It makes such pretty marks and lines. I have yards of bamboo in the garage. I ordered a quill knife yesterday. News arrived today announcing a two to four week delay in getting the order to me. My scalpel from Kaufmann's Mercantile will do just fine. 

One more time! One of my favorite chapters in The Art of the Handwritten Note is "Rescue Your Handwriting." Shepherd makes you feel good about recognizing our chicken scratch for what it is, and her advice makes us feel better about our desire to make it better. She says, "It may be beyond your ambition to redesign your writing. But don't write off the handwritten note (I say "handwritten anything!") just because you're not proud of your script; there are still a half dozen simple ways to make your handwriting good enough to put your ideas across without a struggle for you or your reader. These six quick fixes can upgrade anyone's script." . . . 

She goes on to say, "Your writing reveals you the way your face reveals you." I'm not sure that I agree with that last sentence, but it strikes a chord with my young readers who are homeschooled. They're learning cursive. Alex and his sisters get a kick out of leaving me "mat mail." That's what we call the letters they leave for me atop the front doormat. They are rightly proud of their penmanship. It makes me want to work on my lax letter formations. We can forget about my grammar. It might sound silly when you hear that I send postcards and notecards to them via regular mail. It makes them feel important, and it makes up for their grandmother not answering their letters. Should I find them pen pals? 

Anna sent three sets of stamps to introduce them to stamp collecting. I decided to hold on to them until Christmas. They are not even close to being ready for such a hobby. Thank you again, dear Anna. Christmas feels like the right time since they'll have time off from classes, and their mom will appreciate the distraction. 

A Scout kite! Scout on a kite? Scout's double?

Thank you, Patty! I promised to give Alex these pretties. That's Scout, right? Please say it is so! And I do love a gecko! 

This bright yellow envelope and address label feel like a part of summer's last hurrah. This feels like the first August on record without sunflowers, so I think I've matched the vivid bright color to a T. It is indeed a special delivery! All that brightness before all the colors go on the wane.

Orange has its moments in the sun too. As in my single letter written last night.  I won't show the front since my chicken scratch is shameful. All the embellishing in the Katy couldn't fix the mess I made. And I can't compare it to the Beautiful Mess that came in yesterday's mail. Thank you, friend Patty! That gold mesmerizes me. I'm not sure what I'll use those pretty lips for just yet, but there are too many possibilities to count. You can't begin to guess my favorite color scheme. I bookmarked the blog. Such food! And a fodder for a future post. Feels like Christmas came early this year! Hug your neck for me! Hard!!! Women are awesome. And so is Randall.  :) Y'all think outside the box, while I limp along trying to draw myself into one. Sheesh. 

The mail truck was a no-show on this fine day. My two letters will be retrieved tomorrow, a day late, and hopefully not a stamp short--like it was the other day. I didn't write a single letter today. The brain needs ample oxygen in order to function properly. Mine ran short all day. Bird feathers! It's reason enough to take a day off, although I started a letter. On my old Rhodia grid paper mousepad. I thought the surface had spoiled when the blue ink looked green. Turned out I'd written with the gray fine marker instead of blue, but still . . . 

Why is the graveyard shift called the graveyard shift? Think before you Google it! Don't cheat. Did they bury the dead only at night and before dawn? 


  1. the graveyard shift is called that because when they buried people they had a bell ringing device attachment inside the coffin and if they person woke up they could ring the bell and someone would hear it . My source is the tv show bones they had an episode about it .great post.

  2. Laughing hard here! Images from The Fall of the House of Usher flashed across my sky. I thought wakes did away with the need for the string and bell. :) Of course I just Googled the question and you are correct. Expect your prize by mid-week, seeing as how I forgot today is Friday, and I tend to avoid the post office on Saturdays. Oh! Unless of course I use Ace's, but I was there this afternoon.

    Prize? What prize you're probably wondering. Well, read todays post and see. :) Congratulations!