Wednesday, June 30, 2021

From Chuck and Kristine (Pondering) (hidden message stamps)

Chuck's (above) and Kristine's below look like they were working at the same desk and sharing their markers. 


This might be the last pre-scheduled post where I forgot to put in an add-on. I keep thinking about all the similarities between the people in creative careers who either write books or have documentaries made about them. Just because they are famous, does not mean that their experience is any different from the kinds of things that we all go through when we are *creating* things. 

So many people who took classes with me were emphatic that there is a difference between people based on their skill levels. Famous people have something else going on - different from hobbyists or wanna-bees. (not sure how to spell that word)

I have given up trying to convince people that famous people or professionals are not all that different. Of course there are some differences. But, those questions, insecurities, indecisions, frustrations that the non-famous experience -- are alive and well in the famous. IMHO, the only difference is that those who end up with fame -even a modest amount- really only had one thing that made them different. 

They couldn't make themselves stop doing that thing they felt like doing. Of all the common threads I see when reading the biographies or watching the documentaries - that is the one I see the most.

So, with that -- June is complete -- and we will launch ourselves into July and if you are bored to death with two full weeks of wedding mailings -- I apologize. But, of all the things I've ever done, I'm pretty sure it is my all time favorite project. 

Mystery Message Forever stamp

link to story about the hidden message

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Is this a repeat ? (CathyO)

Hopefully this is the last post where I am confused about whether or not it has already been posted.

I got such a kick out of this note. I assume that after all these years of exchanging mail, Cathy knows that anything that crosses my desk might appear on the blog. Her work is consistently gorgeous. So, it should be comforting to all y'all to see an example of someone having a rough time with the exchange envelopes and just letting it go.

There are other posts where I encourage people to relax, have fun, experiment, and not get stressed about perfection. I don't think I have beat the topic to death. It seems like it's not something that I have mentioned for a while.

Some of you get little notes expressing my deep regret about things that do not please me in my own mailings. Deeply regret -- the comment from RachaelT -- which has stuck with me forever. 

Shout out to anyone who has been thinking about exchanging - but hesitating. Go ahead. Take the plunge. It really is fun to putter about, drop 5 envelopes in the mail, and then get 5. The sign up for July is the day after tomorrow.


Monday, June 28, 2021

Lily from AmyG - (upcoming topics)

 As usual, I have lost track of which folders full of images have been posted. When I find images rather than the actual stack of mail, I have trouble  remembering if it is actual artwork or collage. Either way, it's really pretty. I like the combo of stamps.


In filling up the blog, I've mentioned that my new method is to just fill it up day by day and not jump around. That's been helpful. I am also going to go through my folders and pick one- and post everything so that I do not lose track of what's been posted.

I finally have the folder of the mailings I did for my daughters wedding and I am going to start a very long series about mail and a few other tidbits about the wedding. It will start on July 2nd. Since it has envelopes, it is not off topic. My jabbering will be off topic. It occurred to me that my daughter or granddaughter might be interested in all the little details of the mailings. Maybe not. It might just reinforce how unusual I am. Of course, some of you may not think I am unusual. Some of you might be on board with sending a ridiculous number of mailings for a wedding.

I also read through and edited all the June posts and found a number of topics to come back to. That has inspired me to go back and review the entire blog and find the items that I think are worth storing in my official *Jean's Perspective* blog. We'll see -- slogging through 10+ years of blog posts seems like it might be more than I can handle.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sunshine from Debbie (more games and puzzles)


This exuberant design is from Debbie and she included a fun card to celebrate the sunshine.
There is a second layer of loops in gold gel pen that add a nice touch of sparkle.
They probably don't show up in the photo.

I forgot to add a list of games and puzzles that Janet included in her envelope that came yesterday.
I have not tried them yet - but whether I like them or not -- if you like morning games and puzzles to get your brain up and at 'em -- you need to try them and see which ones you like. 

The Daily Quiddler
The Daily Set Game

I lost track of where I am on the resolution of my *doldrums.* I'm sure I announced that everything was resolved and I am back in a groove. I'm pretty sure that I announced that the remedy was a combination of two new pens from Chuck. So, I'm supposed to be posting some new stuff. So far, I have only written one letter with the new Uni-Ball Signo Ultra Micro. Oh.My.Gosh. It is fine-fine-fine. It took a while to get it to write without skipping but it was so worth it. I'm not sure it will produce anything that is wildly impressive in photos. But, I'll post some stuff pretty soon.

The other pen is a Jinhao X450. I need to fill it with ink. First I need to figure out if I have any ink that works in fountain pens - and then I have to fill it. Chuck forgot that I am not a fountain pen whiz. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Coffee time with Janet (dream dolls)

I love this lettering from Janet. It will be easy for me to steal it and send my own version back to her because she did the J-E-A-N which are the first 4 letters I need for her name - and then I only need a T.

I also love the sentiment on the back of the envelope.


After reading just the first chapter of the scary sci-fi story about ISU, Hester sent me this link to *nightmare catchers.* I called them dream dolls, when I typed in the heading because I could not remember what they were called. I'll post the link to the blog where she saw them.

That link looks like it might go to the current blogpost. I can't make it add on the date. You may need to scroll to the May 26, 2021 post to see the nightmare catchers. She also has some nice shots of her garden.

I admire people who have such pretty gardens. From time to time, I have made an effort to improve the situation in my yard. This was the year that I announced to Mr Wilson that I am through with the yard. I give up. The weeds have won. He is free to do whatever he likes. I also gave up on the houseplants. One of them had a lot of sentimental value as it came from a cutting from my *that person* in college. I can't remember what you call the person who has to sign off on all your decisions. Advisor? I guess that's it. Anyhow, I thought the world of him - and was delighted when someone who had a cutting from his pencil cactus gave me a cutting. So, I've had that plant for longer than Mr Wilson and I have been married.


Just like that.

The pencil cactus - not Mr Wilson.

Not to get back into sci-fi again -- but, I've been on board with any and all of the research that discovers the way plants are just like people - they communicate and look out for each other. So - I did feel like a murderer. But, I got over it. I think the cactus was relieved to get out of my house. I think it's going to be a lot happier. Or, perhaps, someday it will exact some revenge on me. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Curly caps from Kate - (Chuck-motivator)


Kate said she was not all that thrilled with how these curly caps came out. I think they are just fine. My only suggestion was that they might not feel as spontaneous as my version because she used a pointed nib and it is a little trickier to get your speed up with nibs and ink. I told her that I was going to try to do that style with some nibs and ink - and hopefully I will actually do that. I need to keep a list of all the things I blog about that I want to do. I might feel like I am accomplishing more and better stuff if I had a list and could cross things off.


As promised - for quite some time - Chuck thought of something to drag me out of my doldrums. The doldrums are gone - but I think I am missing them. No. That's a joke. But not really. It was a wretched phase and I apologize for putting you all through it.

Although, I did enjoy the part where I looked up words and learned a few things. And I enjoyed a few of the other things that went on during the dark time. Darkness is relative. And relativity is dark. I think I just made that up.

Is it obvious that I am having my noon cup of coffee -- and that Mr Wilson is grilling lunch? When I was whining about my disinterest in meals - and I said he could only make grilled cheese and pancakes, I forgot that he can grill. And he uses real charcoal. Whoop-whoop. My apologies to Mr Wilson.


Is she ever going to get to the Chuck-motivator?

Did anyone offer any guesses?

Are you all bored to tears because you know he sent me a new pen?


TWO new pens.

Yup - that's all it took. Voila. I snapped right out of it. Miracle, huh? Details tomorrow.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Pink flowers from Lynne (guessing what Chuck sent)

 How did I miss this stamp? Is it grouped with some others? Grrrr - no time to do research. However, it has occurred to me that part of my slump is that I no longer have my ridiculous hoard of stamps. It might have trashed my creativity to deny myself the variety of stamps. I'm not going to go out and buy a bunch of stamps. I'm going to see if I can get back in the groove - on minimal stamp options. 

D - terrible add on. Complete waste of time. My sincere apologies. Unless I get some good guesses.

Very first part above written before Chuck resolved my situation.

Lynne did her artwork on nice watercolor paper and then put it in a cello envelope and put the stamp on the outside. Really good idea. I have a hoard of envelopes, too. And I keep wondering what would happen if I used them up. I'm pretty sure that I could be very happy doing all of my envelopes on nice paper and then tucking them inside a cello envelope.

Oh dear, this is enough jabbering for one day. I'm pretty sure I can get back to the Chuck-motivator tomorrow. This is the first time in 10 years that I have had myself posting in order and not jumping around. It is a very good feeling. Ten years - see, that should make us feel better - that someone who was nearly hopeless was able to drag herself out of a miserable chaotic mess.

I am resisting the temptation to ask readers to submit guesses as to what the Chuck-motivator is. So, if you have a guess, go ahead and guess -- and we'll see if anyone can guess. I'm 99% sure that the answer will appear tomorrow. I'm 99% sure that starting today - the blog will not jump around. LOL

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

HB to G3 - two cakes (Gary Clough)

 Two fun cake themed envelopes (Patty (top)  and Lynne (bottom) - both fine ideas to steal.

B+ -- possible inspiration for everyone since it is not primarily calligraphic.
I can stall my announcement of the Chuck-motivator by sharing a wonderful find. Chuck alerted me to the work of Gary Clough. Oh.My.Gosh. His work reminds me of Chucks. It is also chock full of good ideas for envelopes where you fill a space and then leave room for the stamp and the address.

He has many different *paths* - although that might not be the right word. I highly recommend you check out his IG account. I chose just one - which is a fairly simple layered pattern. It does not give even a hint as to how wide ranging his work is.

Thanks, Chuck. I appreciate all the fun stuff you send my way.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

From Leslie to NH (computer Easter eggs - Tetris - paper tape)

More that I can't remember posting - but I am going to post them together for the sake of wrapping up the folder in which they were all residing. 

This post gets a B. It's not awful, but it might be of no interest to some of you. If I had time, I would edit it. Feel free to skip it as it is entirely off-topic.

This is an example of when I ask the BigHelpfulBrother a question -- and I get an answer where - technically, I can read all the words, but I have no idea what he is talking about.

He worked on computers back in the day of paper tape with holes punched into the tape - and maybe there are readers of the blog who did that too. If so, this is for you. If not -- just skip the whole thing as it will not be inspirational.

I had asked him about a secret Tetris that was buried somewhere in my laptop. I remember enjoying Tetris and have been trying to find a free version. If anyone knows of a free version, please share. The free version on the laptop is clunky - not like the original.

BHB's response:

Those are called 'Easter Eggs' and have been around since the beginning.
I never knew that these were buried in MacOS but I’m not surprised.

Distraction. Entertainment. Solving puzzles. Creating. To impress your nerdy friends.

I put one in a program once — the program that punched paper tape; the happy birthday one.
I was giddy from the time pressure on me and just had to do something entirely harmless — unless you count wasting 10 inches of paper tape — to make myself smile.
In an imbedded language switch [think speaking in English but inserting a paragraph in French] I checked my assigned job number and if that number was an exact multiple of 19 it would punch out “WOOF” . . . because the name I gave to the program was “Bowser: my pet program that chews paper tape”.
What I called it didn’t matter because it was just a called subroutine and would be named according to their software tracking plan.
I handed it over for testing — all the other subsystems were going to use it — and later asked what had happened. The guy told me they saw it but could never figure out what was happening.
I showed him how to kill it before they put it into production.

Here is a photo of the paper tape that BHB refers to. He wrote a program that would punch out an actual message. I'll need him to add a comment today that tells us why *they* needed it. *They* was the the US Air Force - computer communicater people.

The tape is long and spells out the whole happy birthday song.
The image in the background is the Banksy artwork that *we* painted on their kitchen wall.


Monday, June 21, 2021

HB to G3 from JeanR (grading the posts - book of hours)

JeanR - this looks like it was inspired by Benoit.
And the envelope lettering is very interesting - maybe it is Jean's own creation?

I do not like this add on, but, I am going to leave it. As I have mentioned, I try to check my pre-written posts so that I can edit them if they sound goofy or if the topic no longer amuses me. BigHelpfulBrother pointed out that I have had a few posts that were serious and I'm pretty sure we don't need to cultivate that habit.

From now on, if I am previewing a post that is ho-hum or odd - I will give it a grade to warn you to lower your expectation for the day.

Today's post is C- 
(JeanR's envelope is A+)


I've mentioned that when I have envelope jobs, I put the big stack of envelopes in a place where I am forced to stand up and walk to them to replenish my supply. I only get 25 at a time - to force myself to get up and take a break and stretch. In addition to stretching, it is good to look out a window and *stretch* your eyes. Switch from all the close up looking to some distance looking.

I've been wondering if anyone has ever done a contemporary Book of Hours. They were pre-printing-press books that people carried around and every hour there was something to read. As far as I know, they were devotional type readings. I'm sure you could find out a ton of stuff about them and I apologize if my skimpy information  is full of errors. But, the idea of an hourly reminder seems like tie in with a plan to establish some improved habits.

I like the idea, but the first stumbling block is the need for a timer to alert you hourly. I don't really like that idea because I don't like the interruption. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

From Leslie -- (Philately video)

 This might be a repeat - but it is one of my favorites.

Also from Leslie - to one of our NH USPS pen pals. I lost track of which ones I have posted. Somehow, this one does not seem like a repeat.


Another one that was already full -- stay tuned for Chuck's motivator


May 3rd - and I am waiting for lunch to show up - and sifting through the emails that I send to myself to remind me to post random items that may or may not be of interest to the 300+ people who seem to be checking the blog pretty much every day. That's a lot of people. I'm so flattered.

I am also curious as to what your interests are. If any of you have any interest in philately, here is a video. I have not watched it yet - because it is more than 3 minutes. It's 56 minutes. I do know someone who watched it and thought I would enjoy it. He is a cover collector. Philately is stamp collecting. Covers are envelopes with stamps and addresses. Cover collectors do not have a fancy name like philately. 

Here is a link with more info on cover collecting terminology

We are cover collectors, if we save these envelopes that we exchange. Do you think anyone just tosses all of them? That would be interesting. Although, it wouldn't bother me. As I repeat endlessly, it's not the content - it's the process.

Do you think we should have a fancy name like philately? Envelatily? We can do better than that.

Philatilist is a collected of stamps. Envelopiter? 

Enveluppity? Yes, sounds uppity. Plus there should be one name for the people who collect as well as a name for the people who create them. I think Mail Artist is fine for the creators.

Link to the philately video:

Saturday, June 19, 2021

KristineK. - (Haley's Worm bible comments)

 I think I have 3 envelopes from Kristine - and I need to respond. It is May 1st, and I have been sifting all day - and now I am sifting through my stacks of photos. I load most of them and do not write anything. The writing gets done at a later date. This blurb is just to jog my memory about this day. 

This add on was added on a long time ago - so, I am not going to bump it. Chuck's motivator might show up tomorrow.
I'm going to lump this wonderful information about the Worms bible lettering that Haley sent me. I'm still hoping to give that style of lettering a try.

So I was looking around your blog again and came upon the post about the Worms Bible (in January) and you asked me about those crazy letters last fall. I tried to comment but I don’t know if it went through. Basically I said that there are lots of abbreviations in those Latin Bibles because “everyone knows” those common words. Like SCI with the line above it is an abbreviation for something. I don’t read Latin very well and we didn’t learn ecclesiastical abbreviations. I took in high school but that was a couple of decades ago. Anyway, that page you were wondering about isn’t even the text of the Bible. It looks like it is a prologue or introduction to that particular Bible. It says Frater (brother) Ambrose so it might be a little history or background how that Bible came to be. Saint Ambrose was someone who stood against various church heresies in the early church. I would have to puzzle over that text a long time to figure out what exactly all those paragraphs said but I hope that is helpful. I imagine the letter after P you wondered about is a letter attached to an abbreviation mark. It could be PLRM because the first line INCIPIT (here begins) EPLA and SCI are abbreviations with the L having an attached abbreviation line. The last few words say something about the whole history of the book. 

I reeeeeally hope I get around to trying that style.

Another envelope from Kristine :-)

Friday, June 18, 2021

Two blue from Janet. - (pondering)

Top one, photocopy - came inside the one below.
Both are very pretty.

Here's another one that has been cancelled twice. I wonder if I am ever going to get myself together to request a meeting with someone at the USPS who can answer all our questions about how the mail goes through the canceling machines.

I had to delete today's add-on, so I get to insert a topic that has come up quite recently. One of you who enjoyed the rants was surprised to learn that there were quite a few people who let me know they enjoyed the rants. Additional conversation ensued about why people might enjoy the ranting of others. It seemed like it might be worthy of further discussion here. 

Something else I noted -- it was surprising how many people enjoyed the serial-story that was silly. So, I thought maybe I should come up with more chapter stories or chapter topics.

Then I decided that it doesn't matter what I write - those who show up daily just like the consistency.

After 2020 and all the weirdness and adjusting to some significant changes, we are now inundated with observations about the next stage. I'm sticking to a modified hunker-mode because there are too many reports of virus-variants. I don't want to go back to my 2019 routine if at some point, we all have to face another 2020 situation. 

The blog seems to be the only *constant* in my life. Everything else is fluid. Except death and taxes. Lucky for me MrWilson is in charge of taxes. 

Trust me, I will try to stay off the topic of death - because it is not a popular topic. Although I have to add something to my comments about leaving something for my kids to read after I'm gone. I've always wanted to leave a stack of mail for my pen pals (blog readers) - to be mailed after I am gone. The idea still appeals to me, so, if the pandemic turns into a lengthier ordeal, I might find time to start that stack, too. Lucky for me, I have a postal worker in the family who will make sure they get mailed. He accidentally bought a whole roll of flag stamps. He deeply regrets his purchase. I might offer to trade some good ones because it will take him decades to use up his flag stamps. 

The thought of my fellow exchangers getting an unexpected envelope from me -- with a flag stamp - cracks me up. They'd think, "What's going on with her? Has she lost her marbles?" Then they'd open the envelope and find out - I was beyond the marble-losing stage. Of course, I have ruined the impact of that whole scenario by telling you about it. But -- now I have an opportunity to think of something even MORE creative/clever. 

How many people thought - Oh, no. Ashes.

Don't worry. I'm peculiar. But not THAT peculiar.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Copperplate from CathyO (2 posts today)

So beautiful.

 I know -- that's all I ever say about copperplate -- it's so beautiful. 

I had to delete the add-on to this post - so, instead of an add-on, there is a double posting - the one with the Anything Goes handouts.

Not PartyTime font - Anything Goes (2 posts today)

A few days ago there was an envelope with a fun font that I called PartyTime. That was the name on the the first exemplar I had which was done by Cheryl Adams. After I started teaching, I made my own exemplar and called it Anything Goes. It was one of my favorite fonts for teaching lettering because it illustrates how all 26 (x2) letters are made up of circles, arcs and straight lines.

If you Google *Partytime font* -- you will find a bunch of them. I posted one at the very end. They are wildly different, so, there is probably no way to figure out where this concept came from.

It is helpful for getting people to pay attention to the components of a letter. I redid the exemplars from time to time - and will post all of them. There is a lot of repetition. In a perfect world, we would create something that has everything we need on two pages - but that's not going to happen.

Above shows the construction of the letters.
I don't think they look that good if they are used in an orderly fashion.
I think they need to be tipped and bounced.
The secret to tipping and bouncing is to make the tipping and bouncing very subtle.
Beginners tend to put too much tip and bounce - so it becomes distracting.

Below - you can see that I squared off the word aNytHinG - with a G-Tec - so it has crisp square strokes.
That's my favorite way to make this style a little more refined. Goes is not squared off. It looks more generic. It's fine -- but aNytHinG is spiffier.

I found these handouts in one of my big fat 3-ring binder of exemplars.
I have 4 of them.
S.o.m.e.d.a.y. I might get all of them scanned and posted somewhere.
Or -- someone will inherit them. I need to find the person who is going to carry on the blog when I head out on the west bound. My offspring would just dump them.

Here is a Party-time font from FontHaus>
It has some fun options that could be dove-tailed with the ideas on my handouts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

HB to G3 from GraceH. ---- (comparison)


This one is very cool in how it is constructed.
There is a fold on the edge and opens like a book.

This is the back
and below it the inside.
I had a very *paper bag* feel which I liked a lot.


I hope you liked the rather long post yesterday. Every time I read through it, I am amazed at how many details I have forgotten. And then I think that I am an idiot for even trying to write well-written blog posts. And then I tell myself, "Technically, you are not even trying to write well because technically, you have not had any instruction on how to write. You just jabber." 

Once again, I am reminded of a favorite saying: Comparison is the thief of joy.
There is no point in comparing my writing to the writing of a Pulitzer Prize winner.
I won that international penmanship award that one time - so, I've accomplished what I need to accomplish. And none of my kids ended up in prison or the tabloids - so A+ in parenting.
I've got my 1,297,420+ page views -- that's incredible.

Balance. That's what I can be satisfied that I bring to the table. A steady diet of only the very best writing would be monotonous. I provide those ordinary sandwiches that you have when you don't get around to making or ordering something wildly exciting.

Note to self: add some tips on figuring out meals because when you were whining about making meals, there were a few people who let me know that they, too, struggle with meal making.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

HB to G3 + No Left Turns.

A bonus birthday envelope this week. I had filled this slot very early in the year and made a note to add an envelope. I am 99% sure that this is from Maggie. 
Yesterday, when I was hoping that today would be drivel-free, I did not realize that I had chosen this day (randomly) quite a while ago to repost something that I have probably posted before. It is definitely not drivel. It is one of my all time favorite essays.


Every once in a while I like to post examples of writing that are so much better than my writing.

 I have posted this column before, but, I think it is worth posting again. The people lived in my neighborhood although I do not know exactly which house. (The DMPublic Library researchers found the address for me. 732 40th Street. It is very close to and also looks a lot like Halston's house. The son who wrote the article is a person of note - a Pulitzer Prize winning author. He's only 82 - and is still around. 

I pull this column out every few years and am reminded why I like it so much. On a daily basis, I avoid making left turns. And if I am riding in a car with Hunter, he will offer to take a right-turn-only route, just to honor/indulge my preferences.

A life without left turns 

Posted 6/15/2006 9:57 PM ETE-mail | Print | Subscribe to stories like this 
Carl Gartner in 1934.

Gartner family photo
Carl Gartner in 1934.
My father never drove a car.
Well, that's not quite right.

I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."
At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:

"Oh, bull——!" she said. "He hit a horse."
"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none. My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

Our 1950 Chevy

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one."

It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown. It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

The ritual walk to church

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.) He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church.

He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. (In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.") If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?" "I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.
"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again. "No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support. "No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works."

But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. "Loses count?" I asked. "Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said. "If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.) He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

A happy life

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer." "You're probably right," I said. "Why would you say that?" he countered, somewhat irritated. "Because you're 102 years old," I said. "Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: "I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet." 

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:
"I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life.
Or because he quit taking left turns.

Michael Gartner has been editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

There is another (heart-breaking) column by Michael Gartner about losing a son.

Link to another Gartner column 

Monday, June 14, 2021

HB to G3 from Smash (famous people)

Soooo pretty - from Smash.
That O-R-G is genius.
I am having this weird feeling that I already posted this and talked about how long it took me to figure out the *stay safe* on the card. 


It's a shame to have this lame daily add-on linked to such fine calligraphy. But, I am trusting that Smash will not take it personally. We can call it - going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Recently in posts about some famous Iowans I pondered why people pay attention to where famous people come from. It's probably a lizard brain function. I feel a tremendous kinship with my ancestor's countries as well as places I have lived. There must be some kind of lizard comfort experience kinship.

I found this information on a website that has plugged in tons of famous people and you can do a search for people from any town, or from any state. You can also search for a date and find well-known people who were also born on that date. Once you are at a state - you can refine your search for just the singers or the politicians or whatever. 

The (huge) downside is that they have included a ton of people who are YouTube and TikToc *celebrities* so there are a TON of people whose fame might be short-lived. I imagine they have not included all the famous artists from all time. And while Ralph Lauren is on their list, Halston is not. I imagine it's hard to find every single person who has ever been famous. I believe there is a similar site that has just birthdays of artists - applied artists, painters, sculptors, etc. I'm not even tempted to search for it. 

The link takes you to famous people born in Chicago. 

We will try for something less drivel-ous tomorrow.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Extra post - regular daily post is below this one.

 How to write in a book.

Janna needs to write in a book and wondered how to do it without penciling in guide lines.

Before I show the steps I use, I'm going to add my thoughts on how to warn the client that it is nerve wracking to write in books and prepare them for what will happen if there is a mistake. I explain these things:

1. Many calligraphers refuse to take on these kinds of jobs because they do not like the stress.

2. I only do them if the client understands that we will have to agree on a backup plan if there is any unforeseen issue.

3. If there is an accident -- even if it is my mistake - I will not replace the book. I will cover it up creatively and beautifully.

There are many ways to cover up mistakes. 

If the paper is awful, I propose that I write on a friendly paper and then adhere it to the page - as one would do with a book plate. Clients often like the look of a bookplate. You can layer a decorative paper to make a border.

If I end up writing in the book, I always do the job when I am home alone. I get all the preliminary work done the day before. I turn off the phone. I do not do it when I am tired. I write the words a couple times on practice paper. And then I write in the book. I do not like to do the preliminary work and then do the writing the same day - because they are two different kinds of brain work. I like to do the lettering when I have a clear head. It is possible to do it with people in the house, but you have to tell them to be very quiet and not make any loud noises that might startle you. 

Depending on the client and the size of the job - sometimes I tell them that I will just do it for free. They always argue - but if I am not in the mood to feel the stress - sometimes, I insist on doing it for free - and that relieves the stress entirely. I never had more than one write-in-a-book job per year. So, it is hard to feel really skilled at something that you hardly ever do. But, it is nice to help people who just want something pretty. I often showed them samples of really pretty lettering using Pigma Microns. They were usually thrilled -- and there wasn't any need to use pen and ink. 

The yellow paper is going to be a mat around the area to be lettered upon.
The mat should be slightly larger than the actual page.

This shows the page turned.
It also shows that the mat needs to be taped with Post-It tape 
so that it will not shift when you do the lettering.

There are marks to show the edge of the page on which the lettering will be done.

Pencil the perimeter of the page.
Pencil the wording, including the base lines.
Photo 7 shows darker baselines.
I darkened them just for the photos - so you would know they were there.

Pencil a rectangle which will become an opening to accommodate the words to be written.

The X is to show where you will cut.
You will not cut the opening in the mat because a cut edge is not smooth 
and it can grab your hand 
while you are lettering.

Using an Xacto knife - cut the X.
I am compulsive, so I use a bone folder to score the folds.

This shows the top triangle folded up.
If you want, you may fold all four triangle flaps towards the front.
You will then fold them to the back as shown in the next photo.

Notice the base lines along the left and right edge.

You need to crease those folds so that they are very flat.
A lighter weight paper is best for the mat
so that there is no bulk and nothing that will grab your hand.

The green paper needs a fold, so it is smooth and not *grabby*

The green paper is used as your guide - instead of penciled lines.

You do not need to letter the descenders as you letter the lines.
Just leave them off - and add them after you have completed the line.
Be on the lookout for any ascenders and descenders that will overlap.
Resolve that issue on your preliminaries.

Hold the guard sheet (guide) in place with Post-It tape.
Post-It tape is one of my favorite tools. 
If you do not have any, you can use other kinds of tape.
Masking tape works. Press it on your clothes a couple times to make it less sticky.

IMHO, an essential part of writing in a book is creating a larger surface that is flat so that you are not trying to write off the edge of the book.
This photo shows a stack of paper and a tablet on top - to show that I kept adding things 
until it was the right height.
I like to use books rather than stacks of paper - and try to find a book that is the same depth. 
You do not want things that might slip and slide

Close up of the built up area at the bottom.
Sometimes I build up the area to the right as well.
I do that if the writing is going to go over - closer to right side of the page.
That happens when you are writing on family tree pages.
You do not want your hand to fall off the edge on the right.

This was hard to shoot by myself, but shows how I like to have a level surface under my arm.

Good luck --