Thursday, December 31, 2020

Extra post - Stamp for the upcoming exchanges (Paul Antonio)

Today's regular post is below this one.
This stamp is coming out on Jan 14th. You can pre-order on Since it was so much fun to see all the inspiration from the polka dot Celebrate stamp, we are going to have fun with the new LOVE stamp starting in February. It will be entirely optional to use this stamp on the Feb and Mar exchange. Maybe we can extend it into April. Then we will pick a stamp for inspiration for the summer and one for the fall. Again -- entirely optional. It will be fun to see how this stamp compares to the polka dots.

On a very sad note, it was announced on IG that Paul Antonio has covid. I first met Paul through CyberScribes 20-25 years ago. At the time, he was living somewhere in the Caribbean. Then he moved to London and he has had a fabulous career as a lettering artiest. He makes time to teach online and do live-streams where people can ask questions. He does charge for classes - but is also very generous in the amount he posts for free.

Link to some PAScribe videos

The thing that struck me about his notice was: Who lettered it? Obviously, it was Telmo. Isn't it interesting how lettering artists pull themselves together and use their skills even when they have bad news?


Loose ends (Maggie's Wreath)

Thank you, Maggie, for sending me this pretty wreath.
Somehow my last post of the year had an odd photos and not much else.
I might add an envelope --- haven't decided.

I plugged something in for this date on Sept 14th -thinking I could add odds and ends 
-- and then never added anything related to envelopes.


Sept 14 -- This post is going to be filled with all the leftovers and question marks I run into as I clear off my virtual desk for 2020 - and see if 2021 can be slightly more organized. 


Dec 8 -- My new goal is to stop putting one-hour meals in the oven and then leaving the house and finding what's left of the food after 2 hours. Mr. Wilson is a good sport and says it tastes fine. He's probably overlooking a number of other things - like my frequent forgetting to comb my hair. 

Plan B - since there are no exchange-related-leftovers

Fill this space with an off topic and wish everyone a happy new year.

I'm originally from Montana and mostly grew up in Minnesota, two places that the rest of the country considers *the coldest states.* I do not know why nobody includes North Dakota when declaring which states are coldest. It is just as cold. Maybe it is because North Dakota has no personality. Or so I thought.

Good old Atlas Obscura had a picture of a cool replica of a Scandinavian church located in ND and when I clicked on it, I discovered 4 more things that I would visit if I ever decide to drive around to obscure places.

1) A rock museum. In my next life I am going to be a rock. 2) The world's tallest turtle. 3) The geographical center of North America. 4) Oldest surviving mosque in the US. 

Link to sites in ND

You can also search obscure and interesting places near wherever you live.

Scandinavians make everything look like fancy pastries. 

2020 is officially over (she wrote on Dec 4th)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

From Janet in Aug - dotty flowers

 This is probably the last of the celebratory polka dot envelopes that came in August. It's one of my favorites. A fun idea - not overly complicated - but has a nice 3D effect. The USPS did a nice job of adding to the design by putting the cancel in the lower left corner. It would have been fine on top -- but somehow, I like it this way. Thanks for the stealworthy idea, Janet. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

From Paula (NH USPS)

Paula (Sam's USPS clerk in NH) sent me these two images. They were her first foray into mail art and I do not recall exactly what she said - but her words indicated that she didn't think they were fabulous. Actually, they have a lot going for them.  

First, I like the straight forward design. Running Santa off the edge is a very good idea.
The gift would not have worked as well, running it off the edge - but it's nice and big.

The lettering is lovely. Nice clear shapes that mix upper and lower case.
Nice spacing.

Overlapping the name and address on the gift is a good idea.

I have a weird feeling that I already posted the one that Paula sent to me.

Maybe Paula will tell us what happened at her station over the holiday.
How much mail piled up?
Were you in the path of any of the big snow storms?
Are you caught up yet?

If you are still exhausted and working overtime -- don't worry about responding right now.

Thanks for sharing these.

And here is the one that arrived in my mailbox.
I love it.
I'm a fan of mid-century design --
It's just lovely.
If she has time, I hope Paula signs up for an exchange.


Monday, December 28, 2020

From Trish in Aug - alcohol inks (herding rant + bicycle article)

 Oooops. Trish's envelope got the ornery grease pencil correction on the zip code. The bubbly background and silver dots are a nice backdrop for the celebration polka dots. She enclosed a note explaining that she had used alcohol inks on both the absorbent envelope and the super, slick, glossy card stock. Clearly, those alcohol inks are happy to hit the slick paper. The photograph does not do it justice. Super fun.

And I am flattered to be called amazingly amazing and it will amaze no-one that I intend to steal that line.

I've lost count on how many people have mentioned that they enjoy my rants.
Enough that ranting is still on my to-do list.
This was going to be a follow-up rant to the Dec 24th mention of my pet peeve about guests who linger over drinks and chit chatting instead of herding themselves towards the food when the hostess announces that it is time to shift to the food portion of the gathering. It's a little warning in case any readers are driving cross country and their car breaks down and they get stuck in Duh Moines on a holiday and have the good sense to contact me. I would be delighted to help out - but when in Jean-world, you might want a heads up on Jean-rules.

Originally, there was a long rant here about herding guests to the buffet line or to the table and wondering why people are not more respectful of the hostess. I deleted all of it because I'm the only one who is bothered when people do not stampede towards the food. 
It's all on my head. Everyone else is normal.
Beer, wine and cocktails do not agree with me, so I have nothing to do during cocktail hour except get hungry. So, if you get stranded on I-80, just email me - and I'll send Mr Wilson to pick you up and he'll take care of your beverage needs. 
I won't let it bother me if you are not in the stampede to the food.


Here is a very long article - but I was utterly fascinated on several levels.
It includes a lot of travel adventure and being welcomed in for a meal.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

From Rebecca in Aug - big, bold, black marker (Smash's tree)

 I really enjoyed the note inside this envelope from Rebecca in the UK. First she noted that she forgot my surname and hoped it would not be a problem. I rather doubt it would be a problem anywhere that we are living in houses or apartments with addresses. I'm pretty sure that the names are ignored.

Then she said she needed to buy a very large felt tip marker after seeing a *stealworthy* idea on the blog. She said it was unfortunate that hers had ragged edges -- but then said it's got a certain charm -- and I agree wholeheartedly. I love the strokes. In a perfect world we would have one of each in about 50 different colors.

This is a really nice design and goes beautifully with the stamps.


I still allow myself one quick surf through IG every day and there were so many gorgeous pieces posted that I felt like my red and green kitchen towels were borderline rude. But, then I reflected on the wide range of styles in the tree photos that people sent in and realized that we seem like people who like variety. 

So, maybe I am silly - but, maybe that's OK.


And then on Dec 26th, Smash must have enjoyed the variety of tree photos that I posted and she sent a picture of hers. Oh.My.Gosh. It is sooooo cool - and she said it is the first time she has had a tree. It is inspirational. I love it. Wow. Thanks so much for sending -- and I'll be happy to post any more trees or holiday things that people care to send in.

I hope that Blogger maintains resolution. It was nice to see the details when I zoomed in on the photo.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

From Lauren in Aug (Cyberscribes + Holiday cards)

 What's the best thing to do for a holiday hangover? Ice cream? Yup. That'll work.

OK. Onward. 
I spent most of Dec 25th surfing. 
There is a ton of interesting stuff out there.

Jan 1st is coming up. 
We have one new person already signed up.
Her address is 
FPO, AP 96349
So, that must be military - which we have never had before.
Google tells me is Navy - and in Japan.
It's always fun to welcome new people to the exchange.

I wonder if she knows that she is in the absolute Mecca of pens and markers.
Most of the good stuff comes from Japan.

Something for those who are interested in calligraphy:

CyberScribes has been around for decades. It started as a ListServe - which was an early form of gathering on the internet. It was hosted by YahooGroups and then about a year ago, Yahoo dropped that service and the moderators figured out how to roll the whole *club* over to a new place. There were photo albums that rolled over.

The group still does some chit-chatting -- and this year, they opened a new photo album for people to post images of their holiday cards. The link is not open to the public. You would have to join the group to see the album and other albums. It's a very nice group and easy to join. You do have to wait for the moderator to OK you.

I did a search for my name and found all the posts I had posted going back to 2004. I know I joined earlier than that - but maybe that's as far back as the archive goes. It was like finding a stack of old letters talking about all kinds of things I had completely forgotten about.

This 2020 holiday card is from Julie Wildman. I'm not sure I have ever mentioned her - but she is well known in scribe circles.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Holiday *decorating* - (2020 Tree photos)

Jan 9th, 2019 - when I started this post.
This post might get bumped or it might be here when we get to Dec 25th.

May 26th, 2020
Maybe I will add some shots of the holiday touches that pop up in other rooms in my house.

Dec 18, 2020

Earlier in the month, we had the fun idea of people sending me photos of their trees and then I would post them. My emails piled up and I apologize if you sent photos and I have not yet found them. It's been a complicated two weeks.

I was going to make a game of it - where we tried to match the name with the tree, but, I'm clearly down to the wire, so I'll just post them. Thanks to everyone who sent in photos. If you want to make a game of it - you could scroll down to where you see the photo - and then guess whose it is before you scroll to the caption.

Here are the people who sent photos in no particular order:
me (Jean), Chuck, Maggie, Alyce, CathyO, Lauren, Janet

Apologies for the weirdness of the columns and layout. Blogger has been having all kinds of fits and I've noticed other people mentioning it on other blogs. So, we'll just put up with it and assume that it will get back to normal someday. LOL. That's the story of our daily lives, eh?

The monkey was a gift that Alyce's mother received for her first Christmas in 1933.  
It’s a tradition that the monkey is the first thing put on the tree.  

Alyce's 2019 tree. 

A doggy 10th birthday cake for CathyO's daughter's dog. Lucky dog.

An early 60s tree that Cathy sent to her daughter when she was in college. 

Detail of the tree below.

This is a *cheer up* tree that Cathy's sister made one year when Cathy needed cheering up - and she says she treasures it. 

A box of ornaments from Lauren. Those are exactly the same vintage as the ones I recall from my youth.

A happy Santa from Lauren. 
I'll tuck in a side note about Santa here. Every year Mr Wilson plays Santa for a friend of his who has a party for the kids in her day care. This year, instead of a party, she asked Mr Wilson to just come over at the end of a regular day and they had a masked and distanced hello. I always have to help him get into the costume - and this year when it came to stuffing the tummy -- I clearly was not thinking -- and blurted out, "You don't actually need to add anything."

Awkward silence.

Mr Wilson, "You're telling me I'm as fat as Santa?"

Me: "Hey. Not all Santas are fat. Some of them just have a jolly, little belly. You look like a healthy Santa,"

Nothing more was said. 

Note to self: For next year - make him a t-shirt with a little padding in the front - which would be more comfortable than stuffing a pillow in the waistband.

Lauren's tree.

Chuck sent this - not a tree -- but a fun take on one of our favorite paintings.

One of Janet's trees. I hope to find the original email because I think she said she has more than one tree. 

My tree. I couldn't decide which photo looked better.
Many years ago, I worked on a project making the paddles for an auction and the numbers were attached to paint sticks. There were this many paint sticks left over and I had my dad cut them into various lengths and drill holes in them and I stacked them on a dowel. I've always loved the tree and wanted to think of some clever ornaments. It is a little wonky at the top because the branches are all smooshed down. I didn't bother to slide them up.

Sometimes I use it as a card and envelope holder. I suppose if I went back through the nearly 5,000 blog posts I could find the picture of it with envelopes stuck in the branches. It used to sit in a prominent place in my studio when I had the dream studio with all the space.

On Dec 26th, Smash sent this photo of her tree.
Isn't it gorgeous?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Lower your expectations. Or perhaps: Eliminate expectations.

What does Elmer's glue have to do with Xmas eve? Nothing. I just grabbed the first envelope I could find. It is one that Sam kindly sent to help me fill the blog with variety.

For the past 2 or 3 years, I have included a little holiday-memory-story in the Dec 24th post. I do spend time pondering which of my holiday memories might be entertaining. As luck would have it Mr Wilson is providing a story for 2020 - in real time (in 2019) -- which is helpful - in a convoluted way.

It doesn't work out for our kids to be in town for Xmas so it's a pretty low key holiday for the two of us. But the traditional Wilson family Xmas eve dinner is a fair amount of work and I am still willing to provide it - even though it is for just the two of us. I do not hide the fact that I need my time and space and no interruptions so that I get everything done just right. And I expect people to be ready to eat at the appointed time. One of my pet peeves is when when people put a lot of work into a meal and then the guests are so engrossed in their drinks and chit chat that they don't herd themselves towards the food with eager anticipation when the hostess announces that the food  is served. I coach my family members on how to act like they are wildly excited that the food is ready and herd themselves appropriately. Mr Wilson has generally had enough of the coaching that he's usually on board with my script and needs no prompting.

So -- here we are on Dec 24th of 2019. I have the traditional family Xmas eve dinner ready to cook. Mr Wilson knows that the meal will be at 4 pm. Yes, that's a weird time for dinner -- but that's how it works.

So even though that 4 pm dinner on the 24th is agreed upon -- at 3 pm on the 23rd, he gets off the phone and tells me that he has to meet with someone at 4 pm on the 24th to provide some kind of help to that person.  Apparently he is running some kind of helper hotline.

I just nod and say, "OK." I do not mention that he has double booked himself. I'm curious if he will realize it on the 24th when he sees me cooking.

The whole point of this post is sharing with you -in real time- my decision making process on how to adjust the dining experience.

Am I going to eat by myself at the appointed hour? Or am I going to delay the dinner - knowing full well that he is prone to losing track of time. A lot. And knowing that I am not pleasant when I'm hungry. [massive understatement] I suppose I can nibble (a lot) and then just pretend to eat a meal with him, later.

The title of the post is *lower your expectations.* Or perhaps it should be *delete the whole concept of expectations.* (Yes, I did go back and use the word eliminate after I thought of it.)

I hope I do not sound snarky. It's really fine. Sometime during 1981, Mr Wilson came home late and noticed that baby Ellen had tossed her pancakes on the floor and he asked, "Are those OK to eat?" And when I assured him that they were just fine, he ate them. So, it's not like he's picky at all. He's the easiest person to feed.

Maybe there will be a postscript telling what transpired.

May you all have pleasant and carefree holidays - with people who adhere to the schedule.

Here is the postscript. Around 1PM Mr Wilson asked, "What are we going to do about dinner?" Apparently he realized that he was double booked. I said I could bump it up to 3 - and then we could snack later if we got hungry. It actually worked out just fine. Not my best Xmas eve story...but I'm going to leave it in -- unless I reread it closer to the date and think of a better story.

Dec 23, 2020.
Not the best story -- but these are wacky times. I already know what the story for Dec 24, 2021 is going to be and it's a doozy. 

I like how Sam often added something fun on the back.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

From Leslie and CarolynC in August (Illuminated pants)

 Exuberant. That's the first word that pops into my head. Obviously, I like Leslie's envelope for the use of the alphabet and walnut ink. I'm not sure if she planned on putting the stamp in a portrait orientation, but, it wasn't anything I had thought about doing. So - once again, something really simple packs a fun punch. 

Note the circle around the zip code. Mr. Grease Pencil almost added to the overall design. If he would just work on his ovals -- he could have made it fit in with that other spiral on the left. 

Another detail worth noting is the dot+bar on the j. It's like a floating serif. It makes me want to do a whole series of floating serifs. Or maybe Leslie wants to do one for us.

In this case - the cancel being in the right corner is probably the best place for it. We're lucky they were agreeable to delivering this without adding a surcharge. I'm sure someone had to pause and figure it out. 


Carolyn thought of collaging her dots. I'm pretty sure these are the only two to collage. I thought of using reinforcements - and I might still do that. I also have some white circular stickers that I could color in.

Only one day left for Santa to decide what he's going to toss down my chimney.
These would be lovely - although, I rather doubt I would wear them in public. They would be fun around the house.  Maybe a jacket?

Ranting on Sunday.
Did we need additional stuff layered on the pandemic and the postal system?
Apparently, Mother Earth wants us to feel really bad about the icebergs that are threatening wildlife in the south Atlantic Ocean. I'm actually curious about the people who are paid to track icebergs. 
I bet they are an interesting group.
Had enough bad news?
Too bad.
There's more.
Apparently there is a new COVID-19 strain that spreads faster.
Thanks for the update.


I think Leslie's envelope coordinates nicely with the trousers.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

From Marijke in Aug (JeanR + Irving Harper)

 Sorry about the link yesterday - it didn't go to the right place.
And to make things more confusing -- Blogger still won't let me leave a comment. 
I'll have to figure out a work around.


Marijke sent this fun envelope in the August exchange and there was a lovely card inside. The string and muslin and mesh all go very nicely with the brown craft/kraft paper. It's 2:28 and I keep looking at the clock, thinking it might be bedtime.

Organizing my virtual desktop and virtual folders is exhausting.

I think I already posted the one from JeanR - and forgot to file it.

Also, I ran across a designer I'd never heard of - which surprised me - because I was certainly familiar with his work. Irving Harper. He designed for Herman Miller and designed the marshmallow sofa and that coat rack with the big colorful spheres that was featured on a USPS stamp. He lived to be 99 -- and spent his last years making stuff out of cardboard and paper that is swoon-worthy - if you like that sort of thing. If you Google his name, there are other links

Link to Irving Harper

I'm kicking myself that I did not sign up to send cardboard and tools to the little girl who wrote to Operation Santa. What was wrong with me? I wonder if her letter is still there. (just checked - nope - they seem to have taken down all the letters)

Des Moines USPS update -- my little postal worker says that they are down to 15 trucks waiting quietly for space to unload. Although, he says it's pretty hard to predict how long it will take to catch up. Maybe last week was the worst - and by this week -- the truly *last-minute* people are fewer than the ones who were scrambling last week.

Don't think that I am going to back off one tiny bit next year. I am going to start my harangue in early November.


No rant today - but I was researching something that took me back to 2015 and I was inserting *Rants* as far back as 2015. So clearly -- ranting is not new.

Monday, December 21, 2020

From four in Aug


Once again, Maggie makes me want to dig out my pointed nibs.

A few people did not use the celebrate stamps. 

GraceH - I wish I had done a better job of labeling posts. There are some other envelopes similar to this one. Always makes for a very fun envelope.

A photo enclosed in Inta's envelope.

Inta makes her own envelopes an finds lovely coordinating stamps.

I had the wrong thing in a link here.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

From Lauren and NancyM - Aug (falling down dance)

Envelope and card from Lauren. It's too bad it has a second cancel, but it's really nice that the second one ended up at the bottom. The collage on the card is so pretty.

NancyMcE's envelope is much prettier in person. It's hard to photograph transparent. The address is on a paper doily. I'm pretty sure I have some paper doilies in my stash -- and I know where my clear envelopes are -- so I see myself doing something along these lines -- assuming the doilies come out of hiding.


One lonely up-side to the pandemic - getting more stacks of stuff organized so that I actually know what I have and where it is.


Non-rant add-on.
People dancing and falling down - not literally, but making a dance out of the idea of falling down.

I almost got dizzy watching them.

Here is my public service announcement, that has probably already appeared, but you can't repeat this enough times. I was 67 years old before someone told me how to walk on ice in a way that will minimize the falling down. I have fallen so many times. And by your late 60s, it starts becoming a activity that can usher you to places you may not want to go.
So here it is:
Put the ball of your foot down first.
And here is the crazy thing: when you Google *how to walk on ice* they have a ton of tips but this one does not lead the pack. So far, I have not even found it once, but, it might be there. 

They mostly recommend shuffling and waddling.
That's not as good as putting the ball of your foot down first.
When you put the ball of your foot down first, you can decide if it is going to stay put before you commit to taking a step.

When you put your foot forward and let your heel hit the pavement first, you are pretty much setting yourself up for flying into the air.

I'll keep looking for a video.
Maybe this is my calling in life -- to bring proper ice walking to the masses.
I really don't have time to scour the internet to see if this tip is already out there.
Any volunteers to do the search?

If you have Netflix, there is a series of hour long videos about the making of some well-known movies. I think there is a regular series and also a series on just holiday movies.

The first one I watched was Elf - and it was so interesting how they did some of the scenes where Buddy appeared so large. They used forced perspective instead of digital magic. There were other things that were interesting about how the story evolved, the characters were cast, etc.

Then I watched HomeAlone - Oh.My.Gosh. This one is full of amazing details about how the concept evolved and the financing unfolded. They literally built the all the interior sets in an old high school building and when it came to the scene at the end with all the water flooding in, they built it in the pool. They had no idea that the movie was going to be a blockbuster. It is interesting to note that the way they ended up with John Williams for the music probably contributed a whole lot to the success. 

There are so many people involved in making movies - it's interesting when they talk about things that happen behind the scenes. 


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Five dotty celebratory envelopes


I'm grouping several of the dotty designs because I'm having this marathon day of scheduling posts and there are more than enough to fill up December. It should help if I get all the August envelopes posted in December and then in Jan, we will start with Sept.


Leslie mentioned that she thought these looked like Christmas lights.



Nanski's card


I believe I mentioned that it takes very little encouragement for me to keep adding rants/musings/reports. Thank you KRH :-)

I had all the holiday mail addressed and gave Mr Wilson an emphatic plea to add his personal notes on the 4 that he wanted to add to. So, Wed, Dec 16, he gets them done. He sees that I am heading out on errands. I agree to take them to a mail box. I happened to hit one of the huge ones sitting outside a station as a postal worker pulled up in his truck to unload it. I got to see how the mail handler handled the mail. He scoops up armloads and dumps them into tubs. His only concern seems to be not dropping it on the ground. The envelopes go through a brutal process and that is only step one.

And then Clover sent this link to an article that has details about what's going on. I think the article doesn't even cover the current situation in the northeast - the snow that is complicating everything. 

Link to USPS inundated article