Saturday, June 10, 2023

Orphan Annie to Valerie in May


Speaking of stealing - I stole this from Rachael. I think I steal more from Rachael than anyone else. There is some stealing coming up in the June envelopes. It was not successful.

This one looks a little weird in the photo - I think I liked it better in real life. That orange is almost neon - and neon colors photograph a little weird. The colored pencil helps. 

I've forgotten if I have already posted any May envelopes with cartoon stamps. There are a bunch coming up. I love the stamps - and deeply regret that I did not use them during a time when I had nothing but spare time and no complications hanging over my head - but - that time seems to not exist - so we're just firing off a bunch of stuff - and hoping for a couple good ones.

Friday, June 9, 2023

From Maggie to Tracy - Angela, MT

So pretty - but what's going on with that zip code?

This was not a happy outcome for the envelope - but it was a wildly exciting trip down memory lane for Jean. Somebody in Angela, Montana made darn sure that this envelope got to its destination - and documented where it had been. 

The scanning machine must have read it as 59312 - instead of 50312. I'm not sure what the issue was with the 5. Maybe the postal worker tried to make it more *five-ish* -- and messed it up. The issue with the 0 looking like a 9 seems like a stretch. But, if you look at the 0 in 420 - the scanner machines are probably not seeing many zeros that look like that.

This just reminds me to make my addresses clear - and machine readable. I'm not saying the rest of you need to do that - but - you take a chance when you do anything other than block printing.

Here is the fun part (for me): since I was born in Montana - I had to check the map and figure out where Angela is. Oh, my gosh. It's 25 miles from Miles City and I lived in Miles City when I was a toddler/pre-schooler -and- I have very strong memories (as an older kid) of riding along highway 59 from Miles City, heading northwest to Jordan - on summer trips to visit my grandparents. From Jordan to Miles City is 80 miles of peace and quiet. It was almost eerie how little traffic there was. Of course, I had to check Zillow to see the houses in Angela.

There is a lovely property - price reduced to $2.6 million - 1,245 acres and a modular home. Seems pricey for a modular home -- until you read on - and see that you get "roughly 800 head of sheep." If you have time to kill - there are 50 photos of the ranch - and you will be enchanted by the field of sunflowers and then probably stunned when you see the one lonely tree. Yup -- one lonely tree - on 1,245 acres. It's a true minimalist hunk of earth. 

Yes, I see that it is outside the 59312 zip code - but it was the only listing to pop up anywhere near Angela.

Oh my gosh - I just went to Google street view. I hope this link works. If not - just Google Angela, MT on Google maps. It's a spectacular view of what must be one of the loneliest post offices in the US. But they do have a tree. One tree.

I started wondering what the postal worker thought of Maggie's beautiful envelope. It might fun to send some random mail to *Angela* at the Angela post office.....

Thursday, June 8, 2023

From Janet to both Amy and Tracy

Amy is a newer exchanger and she read my suggestion to send me images of envelopes that are really pretty. It was fun to see the two variations of flowers that Janet sent. Sorry to keep repeating this - but you really can't go wrong with flowers.

Technically - I did *go wrong* with flowers on something that is coming up. They aren't barf-worthy. But they didn't turn out quite as nicely as they should have. I'll explain when we get to it.

I always feel a little guilty stealing directly from people I know - but, I don't know why. I'm all about stealing. People should be flattered when I steal their stuff - right?

We are getting close to the end of the set of Tracy envelopes. Family O' Foxes left a comment at the beginning of the series hoping I would tell how I presented the envelopes. 

As I mentioned a few days ago - I ended up wrapping all of the cards in one package with a card and envelope from me on top - and forgot to take a photo. Grrrr. Tracy sent the nicest email with the word *Speechless* in the subject line - although, I knew she'd have some fun things to say.
Here are excerpts from her email:

truly overwhelmed
studying each envelope
plethora of design masterpieces
gesture of supreme beauty

I knew Tracy would love the envelopes - thank you to everyone. I am going to put her mom, Caroline Levine, on the list for August because her birthday is in September. Caroline loves all things blue and white - her accent color is yellow. So that should be a fun color palette - if anyone wants to start pondering ideas. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

From CathyO to Tracy - non-machineable mail

 I warned everyone - that writing blurbs with variety about the envelopes for Tracy would be hard - because they were all so pretty. This one is sooooo pretty - and her name fits the layout beautifully. Name length can be so challenging.

By the way - I did get an answer to why that envelope had NON-MACHINEABLE MAIL rubber stamped on it. I described it to a different clerk and her guess was that because I asked for the envelope to be hand cancelled, the clerk wanted to make sure that it did not go through the machines that would give it a machine cancel. That makes sense. I was at the main post office - so I should have asked if there is a way to hand cancel them and then put them in the non-machined *place* where they get sent on their way.

I have a feeling that there is - because I think many years ago when I had a very serious comrade/cohort at the post office - he told me that he took my mail *downstairs* and put it someplace where it would not get another cancel. He retired quite a while ago. I wonder if I should look into getting another comrade/cohort/collaborator. One would think I could get my son to help out -- but he has moved to a different building - so that is not an option - unless I can figure out a way to get him to go back to the main plant on his own time -- and that does not sound like anything I could get him to do. Or maybe I could.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Real time from Valerie

I hardly ever write a post that is going to appear the next day - but somehow I woke up (on the 5th) to a missing daily post - and nabbed the one for the 6th - so here it is, 6pm and I am creating a new post for the 6th. It appears to be summer - and I am not a summer person -- plus I only have a couple days to get my exchange envelopes in the mail - and then prepare to encounter my grandkids on their turf (a trip). There were plans - but - now things have changed. I feel like they just plot and plan to lure me into the chaos that is life with kids. Maybe the change of scenery will be good for me.

It is impossible to write posts at 6pm - so far - this is just drivel - why don't I mention the envelope. It was the most recent one to arrive. Easiest one to find to photograph. I like this idea and I did a few rough drafts for my June exchange envelopes - but have not decided if they are going to work. I only have 8 left to do - I'm not nearly as good as Chuck - at working ahead - he's working on July already and I saw his layout for November -- This idea from Valerie is steal worthy for July.


Monday, June 5, 2023

From Grace to Tracy

Sorry if you were confused earlier when there was no new post - I have no idea what happened.

Tracy's name is perfect for stacking. I just realized that I did not make an envelope or card for her. Now that I see the ideal number of letters in her name - I'll see if I can remember to do one more for her.

Here is an strange bit of jabbering. 
Do not read any further if you have things that need to be done -
or if you might need to groom some facial hair around your chin.

There was an email to my PTEnvelopes(at)aol(dot)com account. 

Hi there,

My name is Laura, I am the main editor at Balding and *insert the word for facial hair around the chin* (Jean removed the link)

While browsing your site, I noticed you have an amazing article from this page:

My team actually just published a comprehensive article on "How to Trim and Shape the Perfect (insert the word for facial hair around the chin) Neckline in 11 Simple Steps" which I think your visitors would truly appreciate and add value to your awesome article.

You can check it out here: (Jean removed the link)

If you were willing to add our link to that page, my team would be more than happy to share it to more than a thousand of our social followers  to help you gain some visibility in exchange.

Let me know what you think and thank you for your consideration!


Laura Minor

OK - this is ridiculous. I had to click on the link - because I could not recall any mention of facial hair on the blog. The post was about a person whose last name is the same as *facial hair around the chin* and he has a bunch of really good videos on YouTube about artists. I'm guessing this email is from a computer that is programed to collect any mention of the word normally used for *facial hair around the chin* - and is trying to get me to promote them. I have gone in and changed the info so that the links don't work. Then I realized that I had to take out the word that caused the computer to find me and pester me - so I deleted the word for *facial hair around the chin* If you have a facial hair around your chin and you want to learn 11 steps for trimming it -- Google the highlighted words (and use the word that I have not used) and it should pop up.

Apologies for this weird (and worthless) post. Hopefully I will come up with some better stuff.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

From Kate to Tracy

When I collect these sets of envelopes for people who are not expecting them, I am always impressed with the variety. This one stands out because it was the only black one - and it is understated - which is always a welcome variation. That's the gift of designing around flowers. One is enough. Three is lovely. A whole bunch of one is obviously fun. A wild conglomeration of many kinds is exuberant. It's pretty hard to go wrong with flowers. After all these years - one would think I could just do a steady stream of flowers....

I just came from a walk with Tracy and gave her the pack of envelopes. I wrapped them in a paper that I really didn't care for - but it was handy. I have a hard time parting with pretty paper - so I figured I'd use something not worthy of being saved - in case she has the same temptation to collect used wrapping paper. 

I have 20 posts with envelopes ready to go - as soon as I fill in the jabbering. I know I will be hearing from Tracy - so at some point you'll hear her response to her mail. The weather was bad so we had to drive to a mall for our walk. There was a huge temporary garden shop set up in the parking lot. She had mentioned that there is one particular shade of terra cotta impatiens that she likes and it's hard to find. We did not find it. This is her artistic side - she's on a quest for a particular shade of flower -- and there will be no substitutes. My kind of person.


I should have taken a lot more photos of Tracy's garden. It is gorgeous. I love her chair made out of giant stones. That's a big bag of cotton burr compost off to the side. I tricked my son into coming with me to unload some bags for Tracy and put them around her garden since neither Tracy or I could lift them.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

To Kate in May (11)


Here is a quick peek at something I sent in May. We still have a couple for Tracy to look at before I get into the hodge hodge of my May envelopes. Don't get your hopes up - because you just went through 10 days of reading what a difficult week I was having and I didn't say anything about that being the same week where I needed to get my May envelopes in the mail. 

The envelope above is the one I sent. It is vellum and the name is cut paper. I cut up the envelope below because after I looked at the wimpy black outline on the one below, I thought maybe a bold outline would help but it just made it worse. 

Even though I have no idea who Krazy Kat was - I thought it would be fun to write Kate in the same style as the Kat - but red marker would turn to muddy purple on the blue paper.


Closing statement from the 10 part story of the certificate.
Thank you for letting me jabber. It was a silly story - with way too much information - and as I mentioned at the beginning, I know there are some old school graphic designer types who read the blog - and I figured they could relate to some of the stuff that happened. 

The moral of the story - if your last job before your retirement is official turns into a hot mess - that's OK. It doesn't mean you are an idiot who never learned how to execute your assignments. It means something else. I'll let you know what that is when I figure it out.

Friday, June 2, 2023

From JeanR to Tracy (10)


The Certificate Story - Chapter 10

So, against my better judgement, I trusted that Familiar Face and I had fixed everything -- and that the file would be printed exactly as we left it - without me seeing a proof. We even talked about being extra careful to save the FINAL-final file. 

It was no surprise to me that the last 4 changes we made had disappeared. Familiar Face was incredulous. He did not utter any expletives - but, I think we were both thinking them. I was totally expecting something to be wrong -- so I was prepared to just give up and let it be whatever it was. 

Nobody was going to notice the minor issues with size and spacing - the artwork part looked really nice.  It looked like monks had been working on it for a few days. FamilarFace was adamant that he could redo the changes and get a corrected version printed. I convinced him that it was just fine. And it was/is.

CrustySeaCaptainJean knew that there was only one more opportunity for a disaster - and that had to do with the framing.

We ended up with a certificate that was about an inch wider and and an inch taller than the previous one - so I had to make sure the framer did not order the stock for the frame before he had the new certificate. It was even nice to talk to him and reflect on how many years we had been doing the job. We figured out that we had started in 1997 - so that's 26 years.

I still think it is a ridiculous hunk of paper in a very expensive frame -- and wish there was some way to get the association to figure out a better thank you for their outgoing president. 

Was there some wisdom to be gained by having my last official job be such a ridiculous ordeal? Maybe. If it would have been all kinds of fun - maybe I would have been sad that I will never do it again. I'm definitely left with a good riddance aura. And not just a little glow - a bright light that's as big as the universe - that is grateful for my happy little career. I am beyond peaceful with the ending of that phase of my life.

There will be a closing statement tomorrow.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

From Irene to Tracy - JUNE exchange sign-up

Scroll down to the next post for the 9th chapter of The Certificate Story.
Also - shout out to Karl - we first emailed one year ago - and the progress he's made with his Spencerian would knock your socks off. Full story coming later.

 More pretty flowers for Tracy --- from Irene. I have a real hankering to try to duplicate these flowers.

Sign up for the June exchange is today though June 4 and lists will be sent on the 5th.

Please send the following information to me - in this format:

Your Name
123 Your Address
City, State, Zip

My email is:  PTEnvelopes-at-aol-dot-com

There are details at this link - if you have never signed up before.

From Janet to Tracy (9)

This is in my steal worthy file. Thank you, Janet


The Certificate Story - Chapter (9)

I was assured that the certificate would be printed by Thursday at the latest. I had never gotten to see my paper proof. I gave up on that. While they never acted like I was becoming annoying - I just felt like it was time to back off - and have some faith.  But that paranoid Jean from yesterday - her intuition just kept pestering. She had to come up with a secret method to pester the digital people without them knowing that she was pestering.

I left them alone on Tuesday - but on Wednesday afternoon, I realized that I had taken my old school metal ruler (18-in) on the second trip on Monday so I could measure the paper proof - that I thought I would see - and because I had learned on the first trip on Monday that they did not have any rulers handy - they only had a tape measure. Then I had left my ruler there on Monday - so I figured that was a good excuse - to drop in late on Wednesday to retrieve my ancient relic of a ruler and ask - "By the way -- are we going to have that final printed certificate done by noon tomorrow?"

I retrieved my ruler - which had one of my return address stickers on it - from my years of teaching and labeling e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. so they had kindly left it at the front counter. FamiliarFace assured me that the certificate would be printed by noon on Thursday, I headed out to the parking lot. 

Whoa - what's this -- here comes Familiar Face -- guess what -- it's already printed. Thank heavens he went to look at the pick-up desk - and there it was. I went inside to look at it -- and who appeared -- Person A - remember him? He took the original order before I left for Chicago - and I have not seen him since then. He's holding the file with my layout and the original art. He has missed out on everything we've been through. The file is clearly marked: Connie Wilson - as is the finished certificate. So that explained why nobody could find anything. I should have asked him if he thought I was Connie.

So the three of us open the package to view the certificate.

Care to take a guess as to what we found?

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

From Kristine to Tracy (8)

Kristine has a certain style that I always recognize - and I keep thinking I will do a version of my own -- s.o.m.e.d.a.y.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 8

When I got home, I found another old copy of the certificate (actual size) and marked it up again -  to show them what my original directions looked like - since they had not fiound them. Person C called me and I headed off to see what they had come up with. 

This was the worse moment - because it was still not a hard copy - and I was starting to look like the worst customer in the universe for saying I needed to see a hard copy at the exact size. 

F.i.n.a.l.l.y Person F showed up. F for Familiar Face. F for FireFighter. The guy who can bail all of us out.

Familiar Face understood why I needed to see the proof at the actual size. But the printer was still not working. He had a really good idea - to put my *pencil lines* with the dimentions I needed onto the image on the screen -- and when he did that -- AH-HAH!!!!!! Validation!!!!! Things were *off.* I finally felt like we were getting somewhere - it was still Monday - and the changes seemed pretty simple....

....why - yes - Familiar Face said -- so simple -- let's just do them right here, right now -- and so we did. 

Was I feeling better about the whole situation? I was - until I found out that Person D - the fine art scanner was not going to be able to print out the certificate until Wednesday or maybe Thursday morning? This was cutting things way too close. Familiar Face and I had fixed it -- just print it out - today - Monday - or Tuesday. Or maybe it is complicated to load the various papers, etc into the printers -- I can see how that might have been an issue. So, I thanked FamiliarFace and tried to feel confident that the final would be OK even though I never saw a paper proof. 

But wait a minute -- this has been a crazy path - why would I expect things to run smoothly at this point. I should know that letting my guard down at this point was a StupidJean move. I had signed off on a screen image. I had never gotten my hard copy proof. This was not the time to just *trust* that we'd had enough problems and we were not going to have any more.

At no point should anyone think that I was going overboard with my paranoia. And yes - spoiler alert - I was not overboard. I was a crusty old sea captain with a lifetime of learning experiences. That *worst moment* I thought I was having a few paragraphs before was not the worst. Walking out - agreeing to getting a final on Thursday - with no hard copy proof - and no more days to sort this out. This was the worst. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

From Leslie to Tracy (7)

Exuberant AND lovely. Thank you Leslie.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 7

I got home on Sunday, took a Tylenol PM (the hard stuff) at 7pm and slept until 8:30am - and raced to the digital art place to see the new improved proof. I walk in and meet person C. I ask for Person A. He's not in today. I ask for Person B. Long pause. Person B is no longer with the company. Is this really happening?

We're not even at the worst part of all - but we are getting close. StupidJean really pulls herself together and says to herself, "This is it. This is the last job you will ever do. You've salvaged a lot of disasters over the years. You're going to have to do it one last time. Pull yourself together. This is your swan song. Whatever the heck that means."

Ok -- Person C - I'm so happy to meet you. What can we do to find this proof that I was supposed to look at. C looks up my name in *the system* - and finds nothing. Somehow I pull up some emails on my phone and she tracks down a digital proof with the new fonts - and prints out an 8 1/2 x 11 proof - and it looks OK - but PulledTogetherJean says -- I think it's OK - but I really need to see a hard copy at the actual size to sign off on it - because... because... well because I need to see it because I have to make sure that the space is right for the gold seal and the ribbon.

People who spend their entire life on screens do not need to see anything on paper. I don't understand how anything turns out the way it is supposed to. But, I am content to declare myself a dinosaur and I am eager to go to my tar pit.

I know I looked like I was being obsessive -- but, in the back of my mind, I just knew that I needed to see the full size proof. It didn't seem like a big ask - and Person C seemed to think she could run it off - and I think this might have been the worst part.....she kept clicking things on the printer - and calling people to come help --
and eventually there were 3 people futzing with a printer -- and this is a company that has the most sophisticated printers in our fair city - and they print really cool stuff on the sides of large buildings - but on this day they can't print out a 11x 17 proof on plain copy paper. I almost asked them to send the file to the OfficeMax across the street - but - did not really trust that kind of alternative to work either. In my heart I know I would have been hit by a truck if I had crossed that street. Not killed - just injured enough to be paralyzed from the neck down.

Can things get worse? Keep in mind - nobody knows where my original layout and original artwork is - while they are futzing with the printer - I figure out a way to show them that something is off with the proportions and it needs to be fixed. I mark up the 8 1/2 x 11. 

Person C calls in Person D who does all the fine art scanning. She could see the proportion and spacing/cropping issues and assured me that they could be fixed - but said we needed Person E the graphic design person who could resolve things - but - I could see some panic in her eyes - because I think she knew we were all cleaning up after that Person B who made the mess and *is no longer with the company.* Heaven only knows how many other messes they were dealing with. I was grateful that they were trying to resolve my goofy certificate.

Person C agreed that once the changes were made she should call me on my phone since neither of us trust email or texting any more - and it would be essential for me to drop everything and drive down to look at the proof. The spacing changes looked like they would be simple.

We shared a moment of happiness over the fact that the business is my neighborhood - and I am 5 minutes away. I could tell she was a smart cookie - and knew how to impress upon me that I needed to be on high alert. I could tell she'd been run around the block a few times by customers who do not hold up their end of the process. But, this did not lull me into thinking that we'd turned a corner.

Monday, May 29, 2023

From Lynne to Tracy (6)

Some very nice flowers from Lynne. This confirms once again that black and white with a touch of red is a  very nice color pallette.

 The Certificate Story - Chapter 6

A couple days after StupidJean told Person A to *just find another Old English font* a PDF proof was emailed from Person B at the digital artwork company. Well, if you ever accidentally eat rat poison and you need to throw up really fast - email me and I'll send you the PDF and you'll throw up really fast.

I had no idea that anyone could do such a bad job of replicating something that was pretty straight forward. It wasn't just the font. It was all kinds of craziness in the spacing and proportions. And on top of it -- they kept Connie Wilson in the loop which added layers of confusion that I will leave out.

If you are thinking that we just find new fonts - and adjust some spacing - and everything works out - think again.

StupidJean's adrenalin kicked in and she did a quick search to find a couple fonts that would work and made a concise list of changes - describing the changes that were needed - and it's really hard to describe proportions and margins and spacing changes - in words - through email. In my world - we have layouts and proofs - on actual paper - and we make marks, giving directions, with pencils. I might as well have been communicating with two tin cans and a string. But, I gave it a try.

It was only Thursday - so - it seemed like a minor setback - but not too concerning.

Until Friday - when I ended up with the usual illness that the grandkids bring home from school - and their parents feel so bad that once again, they are sending Nanna home in less-than-optimal shape -- and in Jean's clouded head - she can see the future - and she knows there is no way that the certificate proof is going to be OK on Monday - but at least she has until the following Thursday to sort things out - if she is still alive.

We are prepared for things not being right - but is there any way to anticipate how far off course things are going to go. Even my sleep was interrupted by nightmares where I was on a catastrophic trip. I had not yet resorted to drugs - yup - you know Nanna is in bad shape when she busts out the Tylenol.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

To Leslie, Valerie & Maggie in April

This post is out of order - Chapter 6 of our story will pop up tomorrow.

Apologies for all these same-old-same-old pointed nibs and indigo. I had tons of fun - and that's the whole point of this blog and the exchanges.


Amy sent this very nice link to an actual USPS carrier telling us exactly why we do not want to put our return addresses in the middle of the back of the envelope. I love the way he acknowledges that there are people who want the mail to be *cute.*
You do not need a TikTok account to view it. 

I do not watch or do anything with TikTok - but it seems to be in the news - and I do not have the bandwidth to follow what's going on. I actually don't even know what bandwidth is. When grannies are using these techie terms - it seems ominous. Hopefully - technology will continue to have niches that are simple enough for the grannies to still enjoy ourselves.


Saturday, May 27, 2023

Double chin tuck

 Many years ago, at an IAMPETH conference, there was one class on preventing aches and pains from too many hours at a desk. The chin tuck was a fantastic exercise to learn - and I always passed it along to my students. I've thought about making a video of it to share on the blog - but, it never made it very far up the to-do list. Then - a video popped up on IG - and it is double chin tuck - but is essentially the same thing I learned plus it adds another stretch that looks like it would feel wonderful - so here's the link:

LINK to chin tuck video

Think about how, if you do not work at a slant board, and you lean forward slightly, tipping your head down so you can see the paper - it takes muscles to hold your head in that position. It puts a lot of strain on your neck and upper back. 

Even monks knew that. This image is from the 12th century. There are other images - more recent - and they show a slanted desk - but the scribe is still bending his head down. If I had time, I would look for the seated posture that was recommended by business colleges when they were training people to write all day - prior to the invention of the typewriter. As I recall - we can sit upright and have our eyes gaze down at the paper - keeping our head in a better position. I think our teachers in elementary school used to say things like, "Don't write with your nose," when kids would hunch over.

The regular daily post is below. 

Apologies to CJ for skipping tomorrow's chapter. I think that is the only time I skip a day.

Updating Post Office display (5)


Lovie, the manager of the clerks at our main post office knows my son and asked him to ask me how much it would cost to have me address a new set of envelopes for the current clerks at the main post office. I should have said, two sheets of stamps - but, I said I would be happy to do it for free. I tried to make them very scanner machine friendly. I will post the photos of the actual envelopes in late June or July.

LINK to some other Lovie envelopes

Here are some more that were on the earlier display LINK to postal clerks


The Certificate Story - Chapter 5

We are going to skip some of the additional complications and challenges that went on in Chicago. Let's just say - it's a big city. Sometimes they just need to shut the water off for a few hours - but at least they put a little post-it on your door to warn you. And Chicago thought that The Windy City would distract people from the reality that it is The INSANE Weather City. Or maybe it's global warming -- but - good grief - the weather is unpredictable - which is a polite way of saying - two solid weeks of winter weather - at the end of April. I am not exaggerating. It snowed.

During my down time while the kids were in school - I updated Person A, who had taken my order to make the entire certificate digital that I would be out of town for an additional week - but could OK the certificate online and look at a hard copy proof on Monday the 8th. No problem he says -- and then he responds pretty promptly - telling me that the fonts that the original graphic designer (Connie Wilson) sent over will not work with their system.

There was a flurry of emailing - as Person A, Connie, and I discussed why the fonts she sent over would not work. It's not worth trying to explain. It has to do with fonts and how people own fonts and try to make a living off the use of fonts. Connie could explain it - but the details don't really matter - the bottom line is that periodically - she has to re-purchase fonts as basic as Helvetica -- and they are not cheap - and yes, I know there are alternatives that might look like Helvetica - but when you can tell the difference - you can't make yourself use the cheap imitations. It's like telling me that the margarine tastes just like butter. No, it does not.

Another fatal mistake - made by StupidJean - she told Person A to *just find a similar Old English font.* I am embarrassed that I said that. All I can do is plead temporary insanity. Everyone knows that you do not turn font selection over to anyone unless they are a close personal friend and even then - opinions could clash.

So - we know exactly what's going to go wrong at this juncture.


Friday, May 26, 2023

From Mary to Tracy (4)

This is clever - to put apple blossoms with the Shel Silverstein stamp - very clever as well as lovely.

The Certificate Story - Chapter 4

What could wrong? All I did was book myself into Chicago for two weeks to help out while my granddaughter had her tonsils and adenoids out. They warn parents that the first week can be pretty rough (true) and even the second week can be a bit painful (also true). The Saturday between the two recovery weeks was the day of a HUGE school fundraiser that my daughter has worked on for enough years that she had worked her way into a position that entailed a ton of work and her husband had a work trip scheduled for the following week. Having Nanna on board for a couple weeks seemed like a good idea. 

What could go wrong? Well, dad could twist his ankle on his way out the door to the hospital for the tonsillectomy and it could end up being a broken bone. And he's one of those dads who actually does a ton of stuff around the house. Actual helpful chore type stuff. Stuff that my daughter and I would never do - like plant flowers and water them. So daughter and I end up without Mr Helpful - and she had tickets to meet up with a friend - for a mom's weekend on the weekend that I was supposed to go home. HelpfulDad could have easily covered that weekend on his own.

HelpfulDad felt really bad about being incapacitated - and said that if I was willing to stay an extra week he'd really like WearyMom to go on her mom's weekend. I didn't think it would be any problem to stay the extra week. I could approve the certificate online - see a proof on May 8th - and still have time to make changes and get it run off by May 11 - for meeting on May 12. What could go wrong?

Thursday, May 25, 2023

From Ming to Tracy (3)

This sweet little design is from Ming. Her copperplate is lovely.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 3

Details and digression. The story needs some details about the certificate. The who, where, when, and most of all WHY?

Who the heck wants a big stupid certificate thanking them for being the president of a state level  organization? I don't want to talk about what kind of organization is still presenting a certificate to a past president. Part of me wants to find out where they are having their ceremony to present the certificate and get a job as a bus boy and walk around filling water glasses during the meeting where they present the certificate. I really don't want to talk unkindly about them -- but, I can't imagine anyone really wants this big stupid certificate. They probably stuff it in a closet. I can't imagine anyone hangs it on a wall. Although many of them live in small towns - so maybe archaic framed certificates fit right in. Maybe *quaint* is their thing. That's fine with me.

IMHO - it is time for this organization to come up with something different. But, there is no way for me to actually talk to them. Actual members do not actually deal with this certificate themselves - and for all these years, it has been some kind of secretarial administrative assistant person who handles the process of getting the certificate and then taking it to the framer - and I imagine the frame is about $300. 

The scheduling is interesting, too. There are members of the organization all over the state - and the officers meet in DSM in mid May. While officers are in town, they sign the certificate so that it can be framed and presented in September. So - it's never a rush job - although it's a hard deadline to get the signatures at that mid May meeting. Yes, I know we could mail it to people to sign - but there was that one time when that one certificate ended up punctured and soggy - and had to be reproduced - so - we don't want to try that again.*

I am going to suggest that they send the signatures to be scanned and dropped in -- or maybe I won't. I once had another certificate job - where in a time crunch - they just had me replicate a signature - which was fun.

I knew I was going to be out of town from April 13-29 - but that left 2 weeks to make sure the new certificate was fine prior to the May 12 meeting. What could possibly go wrong?

* and it would have been a UPS employee who went *postal* on the certificate. It was not a USPS employee. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

From Mia to Tracy (2)

 This is lovely - and the stamps coordinate beautifully. I wonder if she used a ruling writer. Is it paint or ink? Either way -- it's just lovely.

The Certificate Story - Chapter 2

Could-a. Would-a. Should-a.

I could/should have done the exact same artwork to fit the exact same space. But, StupidJean thought that she could improve upon the scrolly doodle design along the left margin. She also thought that artwork often times looks better when it is slightly larger - and then reduced when it is scanned. This was a very bad decision - to make slightly different art and slightly larger than needed. But that's what StupidJean did. 

StupidJean took the original artwork and a very detailed layout to the digital art and graphic company. She has done a ton of work with them and they are the very best people in town to scan artwork and print it on fine art paper. They do all kinds of things with art and fonts. They literally cover large important buildings with images. I apologized for even bringing such a ridiculous little job - but they know me - and they have one other stupid little certificate job that they do every year. So - they made me feel OK - about a really archaic looking certificate. We chuckled at how pitiful it was that people were still stuck in a medieval aesthetic. 

I have a friend, Connie Wilson, no relation, who is the graphic designer who converted the certificate to fonts when I switched to printing the lettering and adding the swirly doodle by hand. She's been updating the file for at least 15 years - and we both figured that she could send her files and the fonts over to the big company and they could scan the scrolly doodle art and drop it in.

 Connie and I are both 71 and we know how to anticipate problems. This seemed like a piece of cake. What could go wrong? 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

From Patty to Tracy (1)

By process of elimination, I deduced that this is from Patty - who did not put a return address on the envelope. I also recognize her manuscript printing. It's a lovely composition and the USPS did an excellent job with their non-conforming cancel. Way to go USPS.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 1 (of 10 - for those who do not like surprises - and will get tired of the story and want me to just wrap things up) It is not even worth 10 chapters - and it does not even approach the quality of my annual Xmas eve rant/story - so - keep those expectations low. Unless you were a graphic designer - in the previous century - and then it might strike a chord.

Many years ago - at least 20 - probably 25 (maybe more?)  someone called me and asked if I could hand letter an entire certificate - not just fill in a name. She had a photocopy of what the previous person had done and I deeply regret that I did not save that photocopy. It was bizarre. The person had not even ruled straight lines in pencil. It was astoundingly inept on so many levels - and that is not an overstatement. I was excited to take on the job because it was going to be sooooo easy to do an improved version. There was a scary, gold swirly-doodle design adorning the left margin.

I hand lettered it and added an actual gold leaf swirly doodle. Each year I refined the swirly doodle a little bit. I morphed it into a green and blue acanthus leaf design and added gold gouache dots, details, and drop shadows to the lettering. After a few years of doing the whole thing by hand - I decided that it was too time consuming (based on what I was charging) so I switched to a printed font and had the acanthus stems printed in black and added all the leaves and color by hand.

After I bonked my head, I decided that it was time to retire the account - so last year I told the client that it would be my last year and for the 2023 certificate - I would come up with a design that could be entirely digital. The first year would cost the same as the hand done certificate. After than it would cost significantly less - since it would be entirely digital.

The client was happy with the proposal. They understood that these old school styles of certificates are relics from the past - and were pleased that I had an alternative for them.

What could go wrong?

Monday, May 22, 2023

From Smash to Tracy

 This is one that probably needs to be seen in person. There is something about the layers and the actual ink on paper that just *glows* - that's not the right word. There is something about actual stuff that has a look - if anyone knows a better word - please let me know. I'd forgotten how pretty that stamp is. The bluish highlight on the right side of the bell is so perfect with the brown tones.

I could go on a long rant here about a job I did for at least 25 years - that I had to morph into a digital job because there is nobody in town who is available for original calligraphy any more. In theory - it would have been simple. In reality - it was one of the most complicated and confounding ordeals I have been through. I'm almost tempted to tell the full story because I know there are few of you old timer analog people who will appreciate the challenge of converting to digital. 

Maybe I'll tell the story in chapters - to fill up these Tracy posts -- since I will have mostly the same thing to say about each one -- isn't this pretty --

Yesterday I pointed out the unfortunate red rubber stamp stating that the envelope was *non-machineable.* It happened when I went to branch post office and asked for hand-cancels and the clerk assured me that she could make sure that the envelopes did not go through the machines - but she did not tell me that she was going to add her own *non-machineable* stamp after I left. A different clerk at the main PO thought that the other clerk was trying to be helpful - by avoiding the machines that would have put a second cancel over the top of the hand cancel. 

I still need to have a conversation with someone who can tell me if there is a way to get a hand cancel and avoid the machine cancel - without the *non-machineable* rubber stamp. I'm guessing that the only way to make that happen is to have someone at the main PO who can walk the mail to the place where the non-machineable mail is gathering - and put it into the queue. I have more to investigate and will keep you posted. Way back in the previous century - my PO pal, Dave, who ordered a special cancel stamper - JUST FOR MY MAIL - that used black ink (instead of red, self-inking) - and he had to change the date by hand -- I'm pretty sure he told me that he would walk my mail down to *somewhere* and I'm guessing he was going to where he could put it in with the non-machineable - but it was also beyond people who had any kind of rubber stamp to add to the letters. Just a hunch. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

To Sharon, Mary, Janet in April

This was written a while ago - and got bumped. After this - we'll have a steady stream of Tracy's mail.

OK, we're back to the pointed nib with indigo ink that I did in early May. Sharon's might be the best - partly because it looks so nice with the stamps. It would not have worked with just the tole stamps. It needed the blue on the clown to tie it all together.


I had done those bands of flourishing on a whole stack of envelopes and then when I started filling the names and addresses - I started making a lot of mistakes. For me -- 3 is a lot. I suppose I should compare the number of mistakes to the overall number of envelopes...seems like it was about 9 or 10 - so that's around 30%. That's really bad.

Rather than attempt corrections on Maggie's and Leslie's, I put theirs into outer envelopes. Then I spaced off on finding (and fixing) the third error -- and didn't even think about it until I got home from the PO. Grrrrrr. I started looking through the photographs to find the one that had an error - and I knew it was in the zip - but I couldn't find it. It was driving me a little crazy that I couldn't find a wrong zip in the photos -- and I just figured that I would wait and see if it was returned. Technically - if the zip is wrong - the correct address - street+city+state - should get the letter delivered.

Thankfully, Mary sent me a photo of hers - so I knew that it had arrived - and then - I realized why I couldn't find the zip error - because it was covered up when I photographed hers with Janet's.

So what's with the NON-MACHINEABLE rubber stamp?
This was in the stack that had some square envelopes - and some multiple stamps - that I took to a clerk -- and that  particular clerk sounded like she knew exactly what to do -- but she must have added that non-machineable stamp after I left -- because I sure as heck would not want a standard shaped envelope with a clear address stamped with that red stamp. 
I asked a different clerk at a different station and got a bit of an answer. Which will appear tomorrow.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

From Valerie to Tracy

Well - the cancels do not add to the design - but - I like the flowers. The choice of colors looks nice on the kraft envelope. That's a very pretty stamp - which I should have purchased. I saw it when I went in for the Tomie dePaola stamp - which they did not have yet - but then I bought the Roy Lichtenstein stamps - and now I am not sure I like them.....luckily we have 3 weeks of Tracy envelopes before we have to look at what I did for the May exchange. The end of April and the first half of May were chock full of bad weather and too many unexpected events - although, I am not complaining ---- just filling space - because the days are flying by and I have those weeds to conquer. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

From Chuck, Jessica and Amy to Tracy

I thought it would be fun to gang the bunnies. Bugs and the troll from Chuck - and a close up from Jessica and a stamp inspired pose from Amy. 

I am continuing with my *thing* where I put someone other than myself on the list for the exchange. For the April exchange I chose Tracy Levine. I'm wildly excited for you to see all the Tracy envelopes. Tracy is another one of my art-friends. She was the director of a program that promoted local artists (including singers, dancers, musicians, poets, puppeteers, etc) and booked them into teaching and performing gigs. 

When I put Tracy's name on the list, I mentioned that she is a serious gardener - so there are lots of flowery envelopes coming up. She has a birthday in May - so there are some birthday greetings as well.

There is a part of me that wants to hire a film crew to capture Tracy opening her mail because she gets wildly excited over anything that is done by hand. While she is not an artist in the sense that she works at producing artwork - she is a consummate cheerleader for the arts - and will be delighted with her mail. Her home and garden qualify as *works of art.* 

I am debating whether to give them to her all at once - or sneak over to her house and deliver one piece per day for 21 days. Decisions decisions. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

From Janet to Mary & from Leslie to Nela

Two nice examples found in my folder of art that people have kindly sent for me to share. 

Here is a book that may be of interest - not to buy - to check out from the library. All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley. I'll run this excerpt from the NPR review of the book because it does a better job of describing the book than I could. He spent 10 years as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. He weaves his views of art/guests/co-workers/grief/etc into a very nice read.

But Bringley's guard's-eye view is unique, and he presents his personal story with a refreshing sincerity and absence of edginess or posturing. In the wake of his 27-year-old brother Tom's death from cancer in 2008, Bringley, two years his junior, gave up a prestigious "high-flying desk job" at The New Yorker, where "they told me I was 'going places,'" for a job in which "I was happy to be going nowhere." He explains, "I had lost someone. I did not wish to move on from that. In a sense I didn't wish to move at all."

Drawn to "the most straightforward job I could think of in the most beautiful place I knew" — a job that promised room to grieve and reflect in the wake of his loss — Bringley arrived at the Met in the fall of 2008. He explains his state of mind when he pivoted toward this union position for which he donned a cheap, blue, polyester uniform and received an allowance of $80 a year for socks: "My heart is full, my heart is breaking, and I badly want to stand still a while," he writes.


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

To JeanR in April

 The idea is not too bad. The tiny writing has the amount of the stamps added up for the postal workers. Of course - this is in the batch of envelopes that probably should have cost more because of the height of the envelopes - but this might have slipped through.

There was major grrrrr-ing at myself when I saw this image pop up. I had efficiently put all the April envelopes in the mail - promptly - to free up the end of the month - and I photographed and loaded the images. It is now April 25th and I am in Chicago - filling in blurbs. 

I did not notice until right now that I had left the H out of ROTHFUSZ. Grrrr. And the way I did not have guidelines is strange. I must have been distracted by the stamps. Jean let me know that there were several stamps that she had never seen before. Me, too. Thank you to PenpalPP who sent me her stash.

Apologies for how I might be repeating myself - be forewarned that any glimmer of hope that I'd get myself on track or that these posts would have any rhyme or reason is gone. Randomness reigns. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

To Carolyn and Grace in April

I'm impressed. Mary read about the *snowball sentence* yesterday and wrote an excellent one:

A no can feel sadly abrupt, turning sunshine instantly fuliginous.

 I had to look up fuliginous. Pertaining to soot; sooty; dark, dusky

More Pop-Art fonts - and I'm not sure if either of these is better than the other. Grace's might have been better if I had not let the EDMANDS run uphill. I am not going to post this font because I do not know where it comes from and there might be someone who owns it and doesn't want me giving it away.

If you want the full font - Google *Pop Art Font* - and you will see it in the images.
Or maybe you won't. I have no idea how Google works. I just know that if I Google those 3 words - I get it and many others.

I deeply regret that S in Edmands -- and I deeply regret that we do not hear from the originator of that line - "I deeply regret..." If you still check the blog, Rachael - we'd love to hear from you.


Monday, May 15, 2023

To Kate in April - pop art font

Here is a new type of puzzle - or *new to me* I should say.
It appeared in Morning Brew - something that pops up in my email every morning to offer tidbits of news which often times get my blood boiling -- and then at the bottom they have a variety of puzzles and quizzes. 

The *puzzle* blurb said: what is *unique* about this sentence. I didn't spend any time trying to figure it out - and will post the answer in a paragraph below - but, I need something to fill the space before I post the answer - so I will talk about that envelope.

This is the *puzzle* - What is unique about this sentence:
I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting.

I'm  auditioning styles to go with the Roy Lichtenstein stamps that will come out one of these days. I just read the Wiki article about Roy. Lots of details - mostly confirms that his work was controversial when he did it and it's still controversial. Somehow - being controversial is sometimes *the subject matter* of art. And even that is controversial. OK - here is the answer to the puzzle: It’s a “snowball sentence”: The first word is one letter, the second word is two letters, etc. Can you write your own snowball sentence? This is as far as I got.

I am not blue about orange jumpers