Monday, November 30, 2020

From Janet to Hunter + From Sam's Post Office

Uber clever Janet came up with a very cute idea for my little postal worker.
She included a darling card using the fingerprint characters that are often from Ed Emberly which she know I love -- although, his books seem to be mostly for kids -- so I am curious if this was Janet's idea or if Ed has some grown up idea's too. I suppose it could be sparkling apple juice or 7-Up.
Note to self: do some Ed Emberly this year.

Above written a long time ago.
an adorable postcard from my friends as the Hudson NH post office where Sam's dad purchased stamps.

I'll wait a week to post the mail that I will be sending to them.
I spent all day Sunday figuring out how to copy another one of RachaelT's holiday envelopes.
It was way harder than I anticipated.

If you look closely at the pilgrim hat on the turkey - you can see that it is bent over and becomes that little bit on the top of an ornament that should have a name, but, I sure don't know what it would be. It's the part that the metal thingy attaches to that allows for a string or hook to hang the ornament on the tree.

Remember when Finn came up with the word *lens* as the official term for the shape of a 2D football?
Well, Finn, here's another assignment. What is the name of the protrusion on the top of an ornament?

I should add: whoever did the printing on the postcard has nice printing and we can turn you into a lettering artist. Give us a holler in January after you have recovered from December.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

From GraceE to Hunter (Spider art)

Cool rubber stamps from GraceE. I wonder if she carved them herself. I have the complete set of those 8-cent stamps commemorating the postal workers. There are 8 or 10 in the series. I'm not sure what to do with them. 

This photo was loaded and I had no idea that I had not filled in blurbs - so the daily blurb and daily rant are all together. November went sooooo fast. I'm grateful that I'm not in a situation where I have nothing to do and the days are painfully long. 

I'm not sure all this extra jabbering is of interest. But, I'm having trouble thinking of art-y comments on design. Some days I think that I might need to take a break from envelopes. But, I know that feeling always passes. 

I have no idea how many of you check This is Colossal every day. I forget sometimes - and then when I go back, there are sooooo many cool things. This one caught my eye. Spiders made out of watches.

Actually, the artist's website is better. He had a long career creating digital graphics and switched to making actual stuff.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

From Finn - Dec 2019 (Nakizumo wrestling)

 Finnbadge, aka Phillip - sent this lovely postcard. It must have come in an envelope. I've lost track of Dec 2019. It's always a mistake to load the photos and plan on writing the blurb later. It is probably not a habit that I will break. 

Not really a rant.

So what was that photo yesterday? The one that was similar to this one.

Remember the program (Becoming You) that I reported on where Japanese parents send their kids out on errands at a very young age - to instill confidence? Well, it seems they have another tradition that has gone on for 400 years called the Nakizumo Festival. You can Google it and read all about it and see lots of adorable pictures.

This is the first paragraph from Wikipedia:
Nakizumo) is an annual Japanese festival in which babies are held in the arms of sumo wrestlers in an open-air sumo ring. Two babies compete in a short match in which the first child to cry is proclaimed the winner. According to Japanese folklore, a crying baby has the power to ward off evil spirits, while a strong, loud cry indicates the child will grow up strong and healthy.

There are so many Japanese things that I just love. And then there are also quite a few things that are so different. As strange as this one seems, I'm pretty sure I would be first in line if I had a baby. I doubt I could have done it with my first one. But, I could have totally done it with the next two. As I recall, tips on surviving life with a baby that come from western sources often suggest that babies do need to do a certain amount of crying each day.

I only have one more episode to watch. I wonder if there will be anything as unexpected as this. The topic is talking - so it will probably be pretty tame.

Friday, November 27, 2020

From Fatima to Hunter

Really nice pointed pen work from Fatima. The stamps look really nice with the gold ink.

Today is my daughter's 40th birthday. 28 years ago, when I turned 40, Mr Wilson took the three kids out shopping and bought 40 greeting cards. They signed them all, addressed them, put stamps on them, and mailed them the day before my birthday. It was one of the best birthday presents ever. It was 4 years before I even learned about mail art. Mr Wilson does not recall how he came up with the idea. I think it was some kind of cosmic message implanted by some postal force that humans do not even understand. 

I've had all kinds of ideas for my daughter's 40th birthday. Sadly, I did not complete a single one. I saw a really practical jacket on sale and mailed it to her with some sugar free chocolate from our favorite chocolatier. Boring. I'm not sure why I dropped the ball. Maybe I can think of some fun stuff to mail in Jan and Feb. Her kids have Nov 9 and Dec 17 birthdays - so with 3 family birthdays + Christmas all at the same time -- they are saturated with stuff.

IG is full of messages for mommies to not be so hard on themselves. I think a lot of us never get over questioning whether we did or are doing things in the most constructive way possible. It can get exhausting to continually be second guessing.

On the other hand -- every time I meet a mommy who is so sure they know exactly how to parent, my immediate response (in my head, I would never say it out loud) is:
That's actually scary.
It's like *my way or the highway.*
Pretty much the opposite of how I see things.
But -- maybe it works for them.

We need a second picture today.
I'll explain it tomorrow.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

From Maggie in Sept - Celerity from Chuck

Happy T-day.
It is 5 am in Des Moines
I just woke up
and this post would make more sense if you read the post right below. I meant to switch them.
I need to focus on Mr Wilson's turkey dinner.
Wish me luck.

Once agin, I have to find something new for this post. 
I could have put in Chuck's Sept envelope, but I am going through the list of envelopes in reverse alphabetical order. Hopefully, I will remember to refile the ones that are already posted.

I'm thankful for my pen pals.

I also loved this vintage poster that Chuck sent and I learned a new word:
I had to look it up.
It means swiftness of movement.
There is a company at
I spent some time trying to figure out who they were and where they were.
They have a street address in McLean Virginia - and 400 employees, but not a single name of a single person on the website. It is a gloomy, rainy day and I obviously went down a rabbit hole. But, it was just a brief break from the fabulous job I am doing at organizing my files.

 I guess this is Thanksgiving. <yawn>

Real time - Thanksgiving in Canada

The word bubble says: I guess we don't realize how lucky we are. It was done in 1954. I'm not sure what was going on in '54 that inspired this cartoon. 

I found the cartoon here:

Museum in Montreal 

It's quite the rabbit hole (the McCord Museum). I developed a fondness for Canada when my daughter and family were living there and I spent a fair amount of time in Toronto. Now my older son is in Whistler, BC. Wow. I'd like to visit -- but I usually end up screaming when I visit him in his natural habitat. Too many cliffs. If we are in a car, I am screaming. If we are on foot, I am too scared to scream. 

I thought of spinning an idea off this for my Nov exchange envelopes. I would have had all of us at our desks addressing envelopes. Maybe next year.  Now I have to decide if I am going to show any sneak peeks of my Nov mail....decisions - decisions.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

From Smash in September

Yippee. I found the caption feature on the new Blogger format.
This is from Smash -- and it is sooooo cool. 

This is my third post that I had to re-do at the last minute because I discovered duplicates. At first, I was taking it all in stride. Then I got cranky. Then I yelled at myself to person-up and stop whining. Person-up is like man-up, but we all know that man-up implies something that we do not want to imply. Also, it gives me an opportunity to mention something I saw. Actually, I can post it. I apologize for not having the source - but that happens and I'd be happy to add the source if you contact me and give me the info.

It's a whole bunch of gender-neutral terms. My favorite is Theydies & Gentlethems.
Snickerdoodles is pretty good, too. 

The BigHelpfulBrother and I had a conversation recently about which teachers were our favorites in high school. One of mine was a social studies teacher who would say, "People, people, people," in an Oklahoma drawl. When I run out of places on my daily surfing, I search for obituaries of former teachers. His was very nice. It's interesting to read about some of the people who had a significant influence on you when you were young and impressionable. I should probably work on my obituary since nobody in my family knows about my secret online society of kindred spirits. They just think I am chilly and aloof. They have not caught on that I am using reverse psychology. 

Oh, here's a good story. A friend of ours grew up on a farm. When the kid was in 3rd grade, his dad opened a checking account and put in enough money for the kid to take care of all his needs, including any fees to school for activities or whatever. When the kid graduated from high school, the dad shook his hand and said, "Good luck with your life. It's been nice having you." And the son has done very well. I'm not nearly as chilly as that dad. 

No ranting today - let's hope everyone is OK with their plans for Thanksgiving. 

Bonus post - Jane's Zoom class

Scroll down to the regular daily post.

Yesterday, I quickly posted the info about the free Zoom class to learn how to do wedge brush wreath's. Then I had time to check Jane's IG. Here is the picture she posted which might give a better idea of what she is teaching.

She has a lot of good stuff on her Instagram and I will post a link. If you are interested in Neuland, please do not follow any of her Neuland examples. She does every single thing that I do not like about Neuland that is just a shade off of what gives the style all of it's punch.

Here are the things that I think look super awkward. There are all kinds of kooky thins on the beginning and the endings of strokes. She has the short center cross stroke on the E. She lets the widest part of the some of the letters happen lower than the center which make the overall letter look droopy. And then there are the proportions. A lot of them are Roman proportions so they end up being a hybrid that is living in that zone where they are just awkward. 

Now, if you think they are gorgeous, you are entitled to your opinion. I think all the rest of her work is lovely. But -- I know some of you have had an interest in Neuland and I do not want you to think that I am recommending her Neuland. Unless you are looking for examples to avoid.

Again -- I am a big fan of doing variations of styles -- but the four I mentioned above are the ones that I recommend people avoid - until they have learned the original. Then you might have a reason to write droopy letters -- or you might stretch them into Roman proportions -- I'm not sure I've ever seen those thins at the beginnings and ends look right - but, if I ever spot one, I will post it. And the short center stroke on the E looks fine with certain styles -- but not Neuland. Again, if I ever see one of the rock stars doing it, I'll post it.

Link to Jane's IG

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

From Troy in Sept and Carole in Dec 2019 (Voodoo doll)

If you are interested in a free Zoom class on wedge brush flowers, scroll down to the post after this one.

This post is a quick fix post - when I discovered some re-runs. The booklet and envelope are from Troy. He made the booklet after taking a class with Marina Soria. She's from Argentina and there is a ton of stuff to look at on her website. Troy's envelope has one of my all time favorite stamps. Letters Mingle Souls - as well as the trompe l'oeil art by old what's-his-name.

Below is the holiday card and envelope that Carole sent in 2019 to the Wilson Family. That Merry Christmas tree is stealworthy.


I'm not going to get into details about this voodoo doll. A friend of mine is making voodoo dolls for friends who are stressed. I blocked out the second embroidered word. You can probably figure it out.

On a less stressful note, Hester was so nice to comment on my difficulty in getting rid of vintage holiday cards and suggested ways to turn them into decorations. The cards are already gone. However, I have photos of them and that's going to be fine. I've already noticed that my kids are just as happy to reminisce about things where the only thing left is a photo of the thing.

Is that really how you spell reminisce? I just guessed and Blogger is not underlining it in red - so it must be right. I seldom get words right when I am guessing. Fuchsia. That's the only word I have ever learned and then remembered. If there is a lull in the conversation, you can always ask, "How do you spell fuchsia?" It is rare that anyone gets it right.


Zoom class for wedge brush flowers

 I just saw this invitation to learn how to do those flowers with a wedge brush.

It was on CyberScribes.

Hi, all. Southern California's Society for CalligraphySan Diego chapter is sponsoring a free Zoom holiday program on Sunday, Dec 6, 1:30-3pm, Wedge Brush Wreaths with Jane Matsumoto. We had expected that this would be mostly our own members, but we personally invited members of a couple other guilds and it turns out the instructor posted on her own website, so now we have 135 registrants with two weeks still to go and we've barely publicized! So, we need to upgrade to Zoom's next tier, which accommodates 500 people. We agreed we can now invite many more people!

I know there are other programs going on that day and we're not aiming to take anyone away from those. This is more for people who'd like a quick little fun project and didn't have other plans. I'd especially like to invite those from smaller guilds, which might not have anything going on that particular day. So, please feel free to spread the word.

This is self-serve registration: Dec 6 is the second event on our calendar. 

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

This is an example from Ruth - done with the wedge brush.
I do not know if Jane will teach poinsettias

Monday, November 23, 2020

Pre-scheduled debacle - from Vivian in September (The First Errand)

It's been a couple weeks since I pre-scheduled all the posts for the rest of the year. And then today, Nov 16th, which is only a week before this runs, I discovered that I had a bunch of repeats.

As luck would have it, I also had my stack of mail from the September exchange, so I have thirty new envelopes to post right now. My challenge will be to remember which ones I posted so that I don't accidentally repost them in 2021. 

This one is from Vivian. She only exchanged once. Her return sticker says: Purple Martin Lettering and Graphics. I highly recommend you surf on over to her website. She has some really fun stuff. There are pictures on a wall made with tape. It is taking a lot of self control to not head out to one of my freshly painted walls and start taping the Eiffel Tower.

Link to Vivian's website


I mentioned the grandkids yesterday which reminded me to share something I discovered that amazed me. I'm really curious to know if any of you have already heard about it.

Because I had to buy a new iPhone, I have one year of AppleTV for free. I had no idea what AppleTV was, but, I have watched a couple things. I saw a new listing for BecomingYou. It is a 5 part series that filmed 100 little kids to show the developmental stages of the first 5 years of life and all the aspects that are universal across various cultures.

I flipped on the first episode - and the very first segment showed a family in Tokyo that was sending their 3 year old out on an errand to pick up sushi That's right. A 3 year old crossing busy streets and picking up sushi and paying for it and getting home safely. The narrator claimed that The First Errand is a milestone in Japan and it's what they do. It seemed unbelievable. So, I Googled it - and there are several articles. It's pretty amazing and also heart warming. The whole series is interesting in a slow paced way. 

I mentioned the series to my daughter but warned her that other than that first segment, it might not hold the interest of her kids (7 and 5). But, she reported that they loved it and are excited to watch the other episodes. 

Here is the kicker. There is long running program in Japan that films kids going out on their first errand. So maybe Japan has just turned their entire country into a reality program and they just film everything. Maybe the entire country is just one big film crew. Maybe my coffee was too strong this morning.

Link to article about First Errand

I was feeling so much better that I did not have a daily rant. Just a warning. There is a rant tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Rachael's corner to GraceE - Sept (Link to Hoopla)

Shout out to Ruth -- she emailed Friday afternoon that she was done with her holiday mailing. As the person who is leaning on everyone else - I am sad to report that I have not even started mine. But, I have lots of good excuses.
Put *Ruth* in the search box if you want to see some really gorgeous lettering.

I stopped at one of my least favorite post offices on Friday - and was thrilled to see that it has been spiffed up and they now have a large screen TV behind the counter so we can watch postal loveliness while we wait in line. And one of the new clerks is young, and perky, and super helpful. 

This has been a real time Pre.S.
That is like a P.S. - but it comes before the daily blurb
(that is often written weeks ahead of time).


 This might be the last one in the Rachael's corner series. I know it was the last one I did. A recurring theme in my jabbering is to do multiples and to see if the idea wants to morph. My usual morph is from something tighter and more precise to something loose verging on wild. Sometimes I go too far. I was rather pleased with this one. It's pretty wild without going haywire.

What does haywire mean?

*** I had time to look this up when I inserted the shout out to Ruth. Apparently the rolls of wire used for baling hay have a mind of their own. If you do not keep them under control and they get off the spool, they can turn into a hideous mess. And it is used two ways:

  • Roughly-made, unsophisticated, decrepit (from the use of haywire for temporary repairs).
  • Behaving erratically or uncontrollably, especially of a machine or mechanical process; usually used with the verb "go".
  • I might look it up when this post gets closer. If I had had a ton of those Bill of Rights stamps, I think this idea might have gone somewhere. Julian Waters designed that stamp. His mom is the famous Sheila Waters. 

    And---I think the G is a nice letter for drop-capping. 

    One final envelope from September - Coulda been better. Coulda been worse. Shoulda matched the Popeye lettering


    Real time. My Pinterest surfing is way down. But, this envelope caught my eye.

    The design is not USPS friendly, so you might want to save the idea for 2021. It is from Kim of Hoopla Letters. There is a link to her blog below. If you like the looks of her style, there is a ton of other stuff you can find through the tabs. All of her lettering is fairly loose so it might appeal to those of you who have not taken formal lessons in calligraphy. If you come from a traditional background, I already know that you might cringe at some of it. I do not have an opinion one way or the other. We do not all start in the same place. 

    I'm recalling Barry Morentz,  a very well known calligrapher. He signed up for one of my classes when I was teaching in New York and I was startled to see his name on the class list. When he showed up, I asked him why in the world he was taking a workshop with the likes of me. He said he was open to new things. At the time, the NYC guild had not embraced the newish wonky styles of lettering. But, my wonky styles were inviting to beginners and the guild was hoping to attract new members. Barry took my ideas and did them with his very experienced hand/eye -- and the results were fantastic. 

    I'm pretty sure I have told this story previously - but the lesson is worth repeating. Be open. I just did a search and found the original story - May of 2013. I love Blogger's search function.

    I am pondering the idea of going back through all my posts and gathering the stories and chatter that I think is worth compiling into an organized format. My grandkids seem to like making things and their parents are not big *makers.* So, if I fall off my perch before I share all my lessons, maybe I can leave a lesson book for the whole family. While the grandkid's parents are not natural born makers, they have been very good about buying kits and making stuff. It's a start. Most kids love art. For some odd reason, my kids weren't that interested in art projects. It was probably a blessing in disguise. I don't think Mr Wilson is that fond of the mess that accompanies art.

    Saturday, November 21, 2020

    Sept to JeanR - Kraft+black+white (Real-time chatter - SUGRU)

    The name should have been larger. I had the black one pictured below in a stack of steal worthy ideas. I'm pretty sure it is from Janet. After I did Jean's name, I remembered that we were going to give the PO a break and not make addresses that were hard to read. So, I printed out a very easy to read address. Note to self: go back and steal Janet's idea after the first of the year when we assume they will not be bothered by reading our funky lettering.

    I love those stamps. It would have been so much better if the name was large enough to add a white drop shadow. Grrrrr.

    There are not many product endorsements on the blog, but I did run across a product that I think is super handy if you like to fix things. Sugru. Plus, you can do more than just fix things.

    I have no way of knowing how many readers are into making things other than envelopes or attempting to be creative in fixing things. Because I have ordered Sugru online, I am also getting a weekly newsletter with offers and ideas on how to use Sugru. It is a putty-like material that I used to fix the handle on the Britta pitcher. I am impressed with how well it is holding up. I found it one time at Target. But have not seen it lately which is why I had to order it.

    I'm a big fan of all the different techniques for patching, mending and repairing where you celebrate the repair. Or at least do not disguise it.

    Sugru is rather expensive, but, I think it works really well. To me, anything more than $3 is expensive. The most recent Sugru newsletter had some cute ideas. (Link below) The last idea caught my eye since I got into my rubber stamping supplies for the November exchange envelopes. I normally don't like rubber stamping because the ink is messy. Most of my ink pads are so dry, that I can only get really faint images and the pads are too dry to be messy. So, I might be doing some more rubber stamping.

    Here is the main website.


    Friday, November 20, 2020

    Sept exchange to Smash and KateR (Place card story)

    Thank you, Patty, for letting us know that the 2021 stamp designs have been announced.
    OH.MY.GOSH.  They are fabulous.
    I'm so happy that I got rid of my hoard of vintage.


    There have been a couple envelopes with this style of writing. I used walnut ink and I treated myself to a new set of scroll tip nibs. I colored in the space with colored pencils. There's nothing noteworthy about this one. It ushered stamps out the door.

    Even though I jabber about choosing stamps first to avoid problems, the envelope below is a good example of when it does not work. I was very careful about thinking through the whole concept. But, there was something wrong. So at the last minute I swapped out some stamps. Bad move. Then I tried to fill all the spaces. This one sat on my desk for a couple days - and finally I just mailed it.

    It's hard to tell what I will think down the road. Sometimes I realize what would have saved it. Other times, I decide to go in and delete the image because it bothers me. So, here it is Sept 12. I wonder what's going on in November. 


    Answer to the question I asked in Sept.
    Pandemic is spiking.

    Here's a story:

    I have a client who has been so much fun over the past 10 years. Fun parties, big budgets, and best of all -- she works way, way, way ahead so that the jobs are never last minute. She contacted me in September to do 24 place cards for Thanksgiving. I've been so blah that I couldn't make myself do them. She wanted two sets. One in black on white and the other white on black. I finally got myself to pull out my box of place cards and I had no black so I did white on gray and then I did three sets of black on ecru. I have no idea why I did not do any on white. And I dropped them in the mail.

    She responded to my email telling her that they were on their way - "How much do I owe you?"

    I replied:
    Well, considering that I did 4 sets and none of them were what you asked for, I think you should cancel Thanksgiving. Tell your guests that the stupid calligrapher screwed up the place cards and you can't possibly have dinner without proper place cards.

    I'm guessing that a lot of Thanksgiving gatherings are being cancelled this year. I'm thinking of doing some kind of hourly report on the blog - on Thanksgiving. This idea was inspired by those books called Book of Hours.
    A description off Google:

    The Book of Hours was a prayer book for the laity that developed in late medieval Europe and that was used for private devotion. These works were often personalized for individual patrons and illuminated with miniature paintings depicting the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and individual saints.

    ** end of description - back to my chatter

    Obviously, if you owned books and could read during the medieval times, it meant you were so wealthy, you had nothing to do all day. So, the priests thought up ways to fill your hours. I'm pretty sure that an hourly report on Thanksgiving -  from my house - would be really boring - but, people could leave comments - we could have a contest to see who sets off their smoke alarm first. 

    Or we could have of those contests where you win if you guess what time Jean's smoke alarm goes off. I might be the only inept cook in our friendly little gang. Or are we a cult?

    Which is better - a gang or a cult? 
    Or is there something better than either of those?
    Was my coffee too strong this morning?
    Did all y'all notice the 2021 stamp celebrating coffee?


    Thursday, November 19, 2020

    Rachael's corners to Patty and Lauren - Sept (Ranting about HoardReductionRegret)

    I took a break from posting the Rachael's corner envelopes because we don't like to see the same thing day after day. These were done later in the whole series. At first I was sticking close to the style of lettering that Rachael had used. I guess I can rerun that photo. When I got around to using up the illustrator stamps, I thought the colors on the red one were so pretty and knew I had a broad edge marker in that color. I also like the lighter color on the corner design.

    Lauren should feel honored that she got the treasured American Gothic stamps. It was really hard to part with them. But, the stamp addict part of my brain keeps telling the other part that the only path to peace of mind is to resolve the stamp hoarding. I suppose addicts have these kinds of thoughts. Will I have regrets when they are all gone?

    One more note on whether or not to make the first initial taller...I don't think the L does well when it is a drop cap. At least not with that style.


    The daily rant

    I'm sure I have speculated that some of you just like the blog because it is comforting to know that you are functioning at a higher level that I am. Some of you do not have hoards so, you probably just snicker at those of us who do. And now that the stamp hoard is gone, I am working on the cards and envelopes. 


    I thought I was bad at the stamps. The cards are even worse. I did not even see the movie Sophie's Choice but, I'm sure I out-Meryl that mom when I am gazing at some of these cards and attempting to send them away. Some of them are holiday cards from the 70s and they were cards that my mom sent - but she saved one of each because she loved them so much and we'd get them out and look at them. It's idiotic. 

    Why am I sharing this? I don't know. Maybe I am experimenting with how it feels to expose myself as a lunatic. My apologies if that word is now considered offensive. If anyone wants to send me the PC word for lunatic, please do.

    I will spare you my rant about how hard it is to keep up on which words are OK and not OK. If I even wrote out the examples - it might backfire. 

    P.S. I remembered Google - and just checked to see what's online about the use of the word lunatic. Plenty of good reading - just Google:  Is lunatic a bad word -- and there are tons of articles. (Mostly it is considered archaic. I'm happy to be considered archaic.)


    Wednesday, November 18, 2020

    From Leslie to Nancy - dots (Minor rant - it could be worse)

    Leslie says:

     Inspired by an IG env. with the Celebration stamps on astrobrights paper.

    Jean says:
    I'm liking the loosening of the dotty pattern. A lot of us were going for pretty symmetrical dots and maybe it's better to let them go a little wild.


    I have heard from a few people who have a lot to rant about.
    So, if your life is just dull and you are tired of staying home, trust me - 
    there are worse things than staying home and missing out on holiday traditions.

    Did I even mention my friend with wrinkles on her retinas? 
    Something else that I'd never heard of.
    It's a wait and see situation -- but - geesh -- what next?

    It's not unusual to cope with hardship by thinking of things that could be worse.
    But then thinking of things that are worse can be a slippery slope.
    Is there a remedy.
    Here comes my broken record:
    putter at your desk.

    I've been a really long slump and was not sure I would ever come up with any more good ideas. 
    I decided that the issues of the day were bigger issues than my ho-hum creativity and assigned myself the task of doing all my Nov and Dec exchange envelopes as fast as possible.
    I actually came up with some ideas that I like.
    There is no way to know if they will please me down the road - but for most of one day, I was having fun and enjoying the change of pace.
    Just for fun --
    here is a sneak peek at the one that started the fun.
    It is too hard to read - and I will probably add some more details.
    I ended up doing 9 more.

    I sure wish I had some fake postal cancellation rubber stamps. 
    That would be cooler than heck.

    5:21 am - today
    Rats. I just got up and read the blog and see that I left an A out of Rachael's name. And I mailed this a couple days ago. Sorry Rachael.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2020

    From Chuck to Penelope (Rant free day) (Operation Santa)

    Chuck's artwork is mostly black and white.
    This time he added some color which reminds me a little bit of holiday lights.
    His snowmen are adorable. 
    I wonder if we will have much this year.

    The NYTimes has an article about Operation Santa.
    It's a website where you can read actual letters to Santa, and choose one, and respond to it.
    By respond, I think you sign up to send a gift.

    Details at the website:


    The BigHelpfulBrother sent this. 
    He probably suspects that I would get those two words mixed up.

    People who don’t understand the difference 
    between etymology and entomology
     bug me in ways I can’t put into words.

    There might not be a rant today.
    Perhaps the anxiety has backed off just a tiny bit.
    Or maybe we are worn down to a nubbin.
    The Operation Santa website is pretty uplifting.
    I am curious to see how it works exactly.
    It doesn't actually start until Dec 4.

    Monday, November 16, 2020

    From Chuck to Hunter and Jean (Happy Rant - used up all the orphans)

    I'm so tempted to steal this idea. 

    I also just found 4 posts that had pictures loaded - but no jabbering.
    So, instead of real time musings/ranting/lamenting
    I will just drop in real-ish time jabbering.

    Today is Nov 1st, sign up day for the exchange, plus the fall-back of daylight savings time. And current events are continuing.

    The good news -- the upcoming week is expected to be in the 60s and 70s.
    That should take the edge off - just slightly.
    The above *real time* was actually written a couple weeks ago.
    That warm weather was insanely wonderful.

    I am wildly excited to report that I have all my Dec exchange envelopes ready to go.
    I am going to put them in the November envelopes.
    I figured that I could use up all my non-Forever orphans on envelopes that were going inside another envelope. It was getting to be impossible to make arrangements that I liked even a tiny bit.
    This might have been one of my best ideas ever.

    I'll be posting them next year.
    I'm tempted to show them to you now because I actually like most of them.
    The part where they were going inside another envelope was what made them so much fun. They did not have to be scanner-friendly -- so they are WILD.

    It's really crazy how fast this month has gone.

    Dec exchange lists will go out today.
    If you missed this sign up - go ahead and send me your info.
    I will be sending out lists as they fill up.
    And at the end, I have people who are willing to do extra envelopes
    so, nobody gets left out.

    Sunday, November 15, 2020

    From CathyO to Hunter - No daily rant - Atlas call for interesting place

    Written Nov 2, 2020

    These are so pretty. Miss Cathy is fortunate to be taking all kinds of online classes.
    I wonder why she doesn't start a blog so we can see more of her work.
    Maybe I can get her to start one.
    There was a time when I had a contest with the BigHelpfulBrother's employer as to which one of us could get him to do the most outrageous thing.
    I wonder if the BHB kept track of which outrageous things the two of us got him to do.
    Not that starting a blog is outrageous -- I'm just curious as to how far my powers of persuasion might reach.
    There are other exchangers who should have blogs.
    Or, if you just want to send images to me -- that's fine.
    I'm getting slightly less interested in persuading people.

    It is a relief to not be ranting today (Saturday). Having a calm day seems like a good idea.
    I hope it's not dangerous to be lulled into calmness.
    I've been ranting about how complacency was behind a lot of unpreparedness for the pandemic 
    and it's not like we are in very good shape at the moment.
    Maybe calming down and staying home is the right thing to do.

    Here's something to ponder:

    Instead of a rant today, I am reposting this offer from Atlas Obscura.
    I'm signed up for their emails and I think I get about 2 per week. They have a ton of interesting things and provide me with hours of enjoyable distraction.

    Their posts are organized by location (atlas) so it's fun to check out a particular state or a big city and see how many cool things there are -- in case we ever get to travel again.

    The most recent newsletter announced this offer to call them and describe something interesting in your neighborhood. Your recorded message might pop up on a podcast.

    I'm trying to think of something interesting in my neighborhood - 

    Saturday, November 14, 2020

    Patty's online workshop + CaroleV's mail for Hunter (Natalie's address)

    On the Sept 25th post, I mentioned that the Chicago Calligraphy Collective was running an online workshop featuring envelope ideas. Patty signed up and she kindly sent us an image of a couple envelopes inspired by what she did in the class. She's pretty excited about the folded pen. These remind me of Ralph Steadman's lettering. He's a favorite of mine.

    Below is the card and envelope that arrived from CaroleV for Hunter last winter.
    I really like that stamp with the fireworks. 

    Real-time rant/extra

    We don't need to feel sorry for Hunter this year. He has a cushy indoor job at the post office. Cushy compared to the situation I described last year. He only works 40 hours per week. He also has health insurance and went for a physical - probably his first since high school - or perhaps his college required one (2006?)
    Anyhow, doctors are now giving out party favors and Hunter got a FitBit.
    He regularly walks between 9 and 12 miles per day. I wonder how that compares to the people who actually walk on delivery routes. He's super happy.
    With the walking.
    He still has mixed feelings about switching from the only world he knew - food - to the USPS.
    I doubt he'll ever go back to food. He was always so concerned that the customer was happy when he was either making the food or serving it. It occurred to me that with the USPS, the customers are pretty much every single person in the country. That's a lot of customers. 

    Remember Natalie, the head of customer service at the Des Moines USPS?
    We sent her some envelopes quite some time ago.
    If anyone wants to brighten her day - here is her address again.
    She's a lovely person.

    Natalie Welter
    Customer Relations Coordinator
    7900 Hickman Road
    Des Moines, Iowa 50324-4400