Saturday, April 30, 2022

Repeats from Lauren and JeanR?

I think this one might be a repeat. After spending way too much time looking for it I decided to just go ahead and run it along with the one from JeanR. A rainbow with an *unfortunate coffee incident* is ideal for today. On this - the 6th day of covid, I am supposed to be able to get on with my life and just wear a mask. While it's nothing alarming, I'm still dragging - and spilling coffee. 

Of course, anyone who has graduated out of living under the same roof as elementary aged kids - but finds themselves back in that situation - could just blame everything on them. Talk about flashbacks. My daughter took the kids out to get shoes and spring/summer clothes. Upon return - she discovered that they had not gotten all the correct items - so she is back out - exchanging. My flashback was to the year I got my daughter a credit card and told her to just ride the bus to the mall and pick out her own stuff to spare me the ordeal. She was probably 12 or 13. Her friends were incredulous - that she had a credit card. But, she knew that I had to OK purchases - and as we recall - she never had to return anything. 

Bear with with me - as I fill the daily posts during what is hopefully - the end part of the covid.

And in case this has been a very recent repeat - here is another one that was misfiled that I can't find on the blog. I do love the lettering - and the colors.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Q3 - CathyO's March envelope


CathyO sent this in March. And yes, we spent most of March anticipating some nice spring weather. There would be more to talk about - because there was more in the envelope - but it's in DSM and I am in Chicago - on the third day of quarantining myself in the guest room. 

The good news is that my daughter and I tested negative. Dad and the two kids are positive. My daughter offered to buy me a plane ticket home but I opted to stay. Even though I am all alone in the lower level and even though I have a negative test from a couple days ago - doesn't mean that I didn't get infected while I was riding home in the car with the two kids who turned out to be positive. I feel like it would be really easy to unknowingly take it home to MrW - not to mention spreading it around O'Hare and an airplane. 

That was written on Thursday. My daughter and I thought we had been keeping adequate distance and we went to confirm that we were still negative on Friday - and that evening we both started to feel symptoms. So, while waiting for PCR results, we did rapid tests at home and were positive. 

So - this will probably conclude the quarantine commentaries. Even though I know a lot of people who have had it without any lingering problems, I had been vigilant at avoiding it. It hasn't been much worse than a  regular cold - so, I'm relieved. I'm also going to credit the vaccine with reducing the severity - and will continue to boost as advised. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Q2 - J's March to Lynne and CathyO

Ho hum ideas that were sent right before I left for Chicago. Lynne and CathyO had sent me March envelopes even though I was not on their list. For April, I did not end up on any lists - but invited people to send envelopes and if they send one, I will respond. 


This will be the second covid-whining post - written about 2 hours after that first one. I'll try to space them out rather than bore us with daily whining. Obviously, I have my immediate family and friends plus 20-30 exchangers I could whine at - directly - but, I realized that it might be better to dilute the whining to the approximately 300 people who check the blog every day. 

I still don't know if I am pos or neg - so just hanging out in limbo.

My daughter had the kids make a basket of stuff to help me while away the hours. Rapid tests, coloring book, colored pencils, pistachios, crackers and one lonesome piece of chocolate. Now that I know there is chocolate in the house - I might need one more piece to get me through the afternoon. 

The note from the 8-yr old references being rude in the car. She wasn't all that rude. She just didn't understand that even though she had not tested positive - with a rapid test - she had to stay home until the PCR test result comes in. 

She also mentions a house -- we are working on a cardboard doll house. 
Nanna loves to make things out of cardboard. They are usually pretty wonky - but, it is nice to see how much her construction skills are improving.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Ochopee Post Office - thanks Alyce

Big thank you to Alyce who sent me these photos. I met Alyce when I taught in Milwaukee and I also met Karen, who found this little post office and sent the photos to Alyce. Isn't it adorable.

Here is the wording on the brass plaque pictured on the postcard. 

Ochopee Post Office

Considered to be the smallest post office in the United States, this building was formerly an irrigation pipe shed belonging to the J.T.Gaunt Company tomato farm. It was hurriedly pressed into service by postmaster Sidney Brown after a disastrous night fire in 1953 burned Ochopee’s general store and post office. The present structure has been in continuous use ever since as both a post office and ticket station for Trailway bus lines and still services residents in a three-county area including deliveries to Seminole and Miccosukee Indians living in the regions. Daily business often includes requests from tourists and stamp collectors the world over for the famed Ochopee postmark. The property was acquired by the Wooten Family in 1992.

Thanks Alyce and Karen -- we *heart* all things postal.
Here is a link to their website - it includes a map - so you can get a feel for where it is.

Or I guess I can add these screen shots -- it's cool to see the setting.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

HB to Patty + Chuck/Leslie/Janet/JeanR (March)

Patty had a birthday in March so I thought I would drop a card in the mail - even though I did not participate in the March exchange. I frequently think of going through all my exemplars and posting all of them - one-at-a-time - as a way of putting them all online so that I can toss the big fat notebooks. Part of me also wants to count how many I have - because I know it is up in the hundreds. 

I can't post the ones with copyrights - but I can always do my own versions of those - so, the idea was to do my own versions on envelopes. I pulled out the first exemplar which I remember getting from Chuck. I'm guessing it is in the public domain. Maybe not. It is posted at the end of this post. 

There were two bad purple blobs on the PATTY - I photographed them and then covered them up with bits of sticky white paper from the edge of the sheet of stamps. I think there is a name for that stuff - in fabric it would be the selvage. Is it the same with stamps?

I do like to do a bunch of names in one style. It helps to figure out how to fit them together. It is always helpful to get a little bouncy to fit them together.

Comparing Janet and Jean -- I like the proportion on JEAN much better. And when I compare it to the actual exemplar - it is interesting to note that the original is a taller-skinnier proportion. Once again- paying attention to the original is a good idea.

My favorite thing about the exemplar is how the panel of flowers goes from white on black (at the top) to black on white (at the bottom.) So cool. It is all done with very fine cross-hatching lines. Nice numbers, too. So - if you like this style - print out the exemplar and maybe take it for a spin.


Monday, April 25, 2022

(Q1) - From JeanR in March

Isn't this pretty?
I wonder if Jean lined up a row of envelopes and made long swoops across all of them? Assembly lining envelopes seems like a good idea. Keeping the address easy to read (by scanners) and at the bottom of the envelope is a good idea. There is a lovely coordinating card, too. The brown looks more like gouache or paint - rather than walnut ink - but, ya never know.

I'm writing this on Tuesday, April 5th. I just emailed out the lists for the April exchange. I was tempted to whine that I am stuck in my guest room at my daughter's house because two people have tested positive for Covid. The other 3 of us are waiting for our PCR test results. I am thankful that the kids are 6 and 8 because they can understand the things we have to do. None of us have been complacent at all. Maybe this strain is more aggressive?

I do need to do my morning jabber -- so, whether you like it or not - you are going to get some jabbering from a quarantined person. I'll label them Q1, Q2, etc - and maybe I can delete some of them if better topics pop up.
I deleted my first quarantine post - because it was boring - and re-wrote this to reflect that things turned out fine.

Update on Sunday, April 10th, during my trip to Chicago. 

The 6 year old grandson had 8 kids in his class test positive. He was asymptomatic. The rest of us have had fairly mild cases. Now that we have turned the corner, we're slightly less panicked about life during a pandemic.

For us -- the early warning sign that we missed - was that the 6 year old mentioned that he had a *frog in his throat.* His parents felt really dumb that they didn't interpret that comment as a covid-symptom. Once we experienced our first symptom - a frog in our throat - we realized that it doesn't feel like illness - it just feels froggy. I suppose there are lots of different symptoms - but, for what it's worth - if you feel a frog in your throat - maybe do a rapid test. A few more tips will pop up over the next few posts.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

From Janet in March (USPS fan club)


Janet's envelope confused me. DMS seems like it should be the correct abbreviation for DesMoineS - but then DSM seems like what we usually use. I never thought about where the S goes. I think the airport abbreviation is probably what started it. Either one would work. Or DSMS? We could pronounce it D'zM'z.

Does this look like the scanning machines could read it? Probably not. Do I wonder who read it? Yes, I do. I have pretty much ditched the idea of having a bucket list - but I'm thinking that the tour of the PO is probably something that I still want to do. First I have to contact Natalie. 

My postal worker son gets some really good newsletters from the USPS. There is an office - out there - somewhere - with people who have to fill the pages of the newletters. One of them features wonderful things that the postal workers do - for the customers. Sometimes they save lives. Sometimes they find lost things. I need to figure out a way to get those of us who are postal aficionados linked up with the postal workers who appreciate us. Some kind of fan club.

Yeah-yeah-yeah---endless supply of good ideas here at the 420 - and minimal skills to get anything done. I even missed celebrating 420 on 4-20 - if anyone is not following me - I live at 420. If you don't know the significance of 420 - Google it. My drug of choice is coffee - so, I don't pay much attention to the other popular drugs.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

From Leslie in March

 Leslie sent flowers in March. Wishful thinking. I am writing this on March 24th and it is snowing. March is bi-polar (or whatever the term is for extreme flip-flopping). 

Here is another rabbit hole for people who like to surf. It is on the tab for *art & design* - so if you need extensive surfing - check out the other tabs. 

I wonder who these people are who have time to surf and post all these things. Maybe they are people just like me. It's interesting to be alive during this era. It's amazing how many things have happened in our lifetime. Or does everyone feel that way during their lifetime? This is just mindless drivel. Hopefully, something urgent will come up and I will get to delete this and write something more interesting.

April 22 - nothing better to report.

Friday, April 22, 2022

HCYGBOTWTINT? - @hooplaletters

 These envelope ideas are from Kimberly Shrack's IG. Maybe I've linked to her previously. Today, I am linking because yesterday when I woke up - and checked the blog - there was no new post. This was the second time in just two or three weeks that that happened. The only people who will have noticed will be the night owls who stay up past 1:00 am and check the blog - or the Europeans - or the extreme early birds.

OldJean would have been a lot more concerned about the blip in scheduling the daily post. NewJean just went into her dashboard and bumped the Friday post to Thursday and started a new Friday post. The first thing she thought (and also used for the title) was How Can You Get Back On Track When There Is No Track?

This is a cryptic message to my BigHelpfulBrother. He had a blip in his own calm and sensible life when a complication blind-sided him. I was only learning about it after the fact. Part of me always wishes I could be helpful to him - but for the past 30+ years - he's been bailing me out of my *situations.* And I just shower him with thanks. 

And then I had to do a quick post for Friday. And that line popped into my head. And then I thought to myself: Maybe there is no track. Maybe I need to stop trying to get back on my track because it is an illusion. And then: there I was - standing on the metaphorical train track and this giant steam engine ran into me.

I'm curious to know, BHB, have you figured out where this story is going?

He probably remembers that the last coherent thing our mom said before she died was, "Your dad is off his track." She was resting comfortably in the same room at hospice where he had died 8 years previously. The pain meds had contributed to a pleasant end-of-the-road. The comment was a little *out there.* But, so was she.

So, today, I am embracing the idea that maybe I/we don't need to be on any track. Maybe I can just embrace the endless not-knowing-where-things-are-headed. And yes -- this is coffee talking.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

World's Smallest Postal Service (J's to Irene and Christine)

 I have not had a chance to delve into this website - but, it looks like it has been around since 2008. It seems strange that this is the first we have heard of it. Better late than never.

Have fun surfing around at all the cuteness. A tiny little part of me is sad that I won't be able to open my own sub-station here in DSM -- but -- that's the way things go.


I found these envelopes in my phone - and so far, I can't find them on the blog - so, I'll park them here.

I think both of these were tucked inside another envelope to Irene. I really like her name and have a feeling I could have a lot of fun with it. Maybe I should just focus on having fun with names and not bother with the envelopes.

And this one to Christine who is one of those people who ran across the blog and sent me real mail. As I recall, the whole concept of mail art was something she knew about - but hadn't been doing it for a while - so she was re-inspired to get back in the envelope groove - and she kindly sent me a thank you note. 

I think my envelope included a note to her - wondering how one would pronounce her name. I'm not even sure I copied the letters in the right order. As of March 19, when I am writing this, I have not heard from her. I'm not complaining Christine - I'm just mentioning it in case you mailed me something that has become lost in the mail. Or perhaps mine never arrived.

Clearly - the h in her first name was wedged in - after forgetting it. Grrr

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Smash and Leslie (Feb) - Rajiv+Guy (stoneware)

Smash's Feb envelope above and Leslie (below) remembered that MrWilson has a Feb birthday.

Business sized envelopes are a really fun size to work with. They are perfect for long names. Or, if you don't want to fill the space with the name, Smash's design along the left side divides the space nicely so that she ended up with a standard sized space to fit the name and address.

Any time you want to feature the word *celebrate* - consider using the business sized (or No.10) envelope. It's a nice long word.
Yeah! - a shorter word needed some extra flourishes.


Ten days ago, I posted a video from Rajiv Surendra. It featured his home with multitude of things that he's interested in. After I was so disappointed in his dumb-downed approach to bookbinding, I thought I would give another topic a try. Towards the beginning, Rajiv shows a letter he wrote that knocked the socks off a very skilled potter and Rajiv got his foot in the door to continue his studies in ceramics. 

I actually found this video quite interesting. I never know if what interests me is of interest to anyone else. I'm including it because they have a kiln explosion. My memories from college and the threat of explosions along with the kiln explosion incident in Animal House nudged me into adding this.

That people have even figured out how to fire clay and glaze it - boggles my little mind. So many complicated details - and then I start wondering if there any new innovations. Maybe I should consult with the actual potter or ceramicist that I know. I wonder which word she uses when she has to fill out a form that asks for *occupation.*

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

CathyO in Feb (Amity Parks)

CathyO wrote that the caps on envelope are from 1888 and that the card (below) includes some Amity Parks mulberry paper. I can't remember if we have ever talked about Amity. Here is a link to her IG. 

And here is something Amity did - starting with one line. There are lots more interesting things on her IG.

I can't find a word counter on Blogger - and this post seems a little skimpy on words. It's because I spent 2 days painting walls and woodwork. And it was too much. I just can't focus for that long - even when it feels good at the time. I knew I had done too much when I was washing a few things by hand in the kitchen sink and I couldn't find the little scrub brush. I had been using it - and I am right handed - and I looked and looked and looked. Somehow it had gotten into my left hand - but, it just wasn't on my radar to look there. Quick reminder: be careful-don't fall down-don't hit your head.

Real time add-on.
The too-much-painting happened right before I left for the two weeks in Chicago - and I have returned to DSM - and Oh.My.Gosh -- the pile of mail that was waiting for me is spectacular. Thank you sooooo much. It looks like it will pop up in early May. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

From Leslie in Feb

Leslie and her folded pen. These are really nice. I wonder if Leslie ever tosses anything any more. It looks like she is getting to the point where she has achieved a consistency and predictability and probably doesn't turn out any clunkers any more. Maybe she will tell us.

I, on the other hand, have gotten so rusty that I have been turning out mostly clunkers. They're OK - but, when I scroll back over the past 12 years - there are definitely some things that have a lot more finesse than what I am doing these days.

This is not complaining - it is just an observation. I only mention it to reassure anyone who is going through a rough patch that they shouldn't get too stressed about it. It's an opportunity to explore alternatives. That's the path that I am on. Don't hold your breath. They might be dead ends. But, they might not.

Either way, it's fine with me. (Quote from Randy of the Redwoods. Does anyone remember Randy?)


Sunday, April 17, 2022

J's Feb odds and ends (Nanski, Kate, Jessica, Cathy)

There was an adorable little envelope drawing like this on Pinterest. I can usually do quick little scribble flowers - but this one had some problems with markers and pens that did not get along. So, I decided to just use it as stuffing in a better envelope. I also had no idea which stamp would look good - because I completely forgot that I had the new LOVE stamps. The pink one would have been very nice.

I forgot to reshoot this one after it had the stamp and address. I used the new pink LOVE stamp that is in the first photo. The pinks clashed. The envelope has hot pink and I can't think of the name for the shade of pink on the stamp. It's more muted. 

This one seems redundant. I hope I have not overused this idea on Jessica's envelopes. Her name strikes fear into the hearts of some of us. All those SS's. I thought it was just me - but someone else actually mentioned it -- so I know there are two of us - and all it takes is one other person for me to feel validated by anxiety inducing letters.

One of my ways of dealing with the s's is to make them skinny.
Scripts are also a pretty good way to handle the s.

I liked Debbie's Dec envelope and thought it was both stealworthy and impossible to mess up. Wrong. Talk about letters that strike fear. C's. I have a heck of a time with C's. And then there is the O'R. Very challenging. And she has the *thy* - just a very busy combo of 5 letters - flinging themselves in all directions.
And then the O'R is followed by the quiet little *ear.*
I always struggle with Cathy's name and now I know why.
JeanWilson would be boring without the l in Wilson - 
Jean Winson would be so boring.
I think I do better when I do CATHY in all caps.
I wonder if I have ever done an O'Rear that I like?

Also -- the marker was too dry and the letters needed to be more angular.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Patty Feb - The Quilt Index

The new love stamp provided inspiration for Patty. I met Patty when she signed up for one of my classes - and we've stayed in touch. She had a background in teaching so we connected on that level, too. Not that I majored in art ed - but, there is something about art that can transcend formal education. Something I learned from getting the BFA was the interconnectedness of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  I'm not sure if there is any fool-proof way to make sure students learn about that. But, many teachers connect by virtue of being teachers. And now I have lost my train of thought. I think there is a connection with Patty's work... maybe it will come back to me.


Whew. I'm not going to talk about domes today. Here is a website for the quilters. If you are not a quilter - you might want to check out the second link that has the really long list of every possible thing you could document if you were going to document a quilt.

This site - The Quilt Index - is just that.
I have not figured out if the index is open to the public -- I was just blown away by the number of things there are to consider about a quilt. I wonder how many details one could come up with if they were indexing envelopes. The Quilt Index has more than 50,000 quilts. I only have 5,000 envelopes on the blog. Maybe I should start indexing them. And maybe I should learn how to fly.

The first link will take you to the page where their quilts are organized by pattern. I'd love it if someone would count how many categories they have - and let me know.

The second link takes you to an example quilt and along the right you can see the remarkable number of details that one might have for a particular quilt.

Oh -- here it is -- the main page - that tells all about the index.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Lynne's Feb - more dome talk

Nicely coordinated idea off a stamp that was one of my favorites. I really like the blue from the lettering that pops up within the heard.

If I get hooked on a particular off-topic and babble about it day after day - does that become annoying to my readers? I'm still on my dome thing (because I just wrote the blog post yesterday about 30 seconds ago.) I'm still inspired by the woman who said: and those who gaze down at the top and criticize the shadow placement can make their own damn dome.

Those who don't like me going off on tangents can write their own dang blog. Those who are new to the blog may not have reviewed all 5,000 posts to find out what kind of person I am. My kids called me Mean Jean. Although, I might have been the one to bestow that nick name on myself. My never ending quest to be the one in charge. Sometimes you just have to assert yourself when the troops look like they are going to resist. Is that an insurrection? Or mutiny?

Enough already with the idle chit chat. Back to domes. Does anyone even remember Buckminster Fuller? When did he live? 1895-1983 How much would a very nice basic dome cost? $100,000 for one that you could live in. Although, I am not sure if that is one that would work in a colder climate. I imagine it's a lot more if it's going to be livable through a snowy winter.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

JeanR Feb - cardboard dome

The impression on the envelope (which I am guessing was made with bubble wrap) is a nice complement to the grid pattern on the stamp. Remember the elements and principles of design? Elements are the things like lines, colors, shapes, textures. Those are the basic things that you put down on paper. Principles are things that you use to make all those parts *work together.* Like repetition, contrast, movement.

How many different ways did JeanR repeat the circles?
What can we observe about the circles?
There will be a additional discussion of the elements and principles of design in May as I make a concerted effort to get the blog back on track with worthwhile content.


Cardboard fever continues. I keep finding more and better instructions for Buckminster Fuller inspired domes. I'm pretty sure I will be building one. This one caught my eye - because the design will probably appeal to my son. Or maybe it is too ---grrrrr - I can't remember the name of that fantasy style. His house has a lot of original 1920 oak - so it's on the verge of craftsman style. Maybe I could get it to look like oak. Steampunk. That's the style I couldn't remember - but then I did.

It is a really long article - because the woman shares my yearning to use only items sone already has on hand. All she had to buy were glue sticks for the hot glue gun. She has many details about work-arounds. And the grand finale is when she writes this:

If you look at the dome from the top, there's no real direction that the light should appear to come from, since I painted ALL the rivet shadows on the lower left side.  That's okay with me.  People are likely to only look at one side of the dome at a time, anyway... and those who gaze down at the top and criticize the shadow placement can make their own damn dome.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Leslie's thank you - late bloomers


Leslie sent this nice thank you for running the exchanges. She said it's her 3 year anniversary. Lauren's was 5 year. I wonder how many others know how long they have been exchanging. I think Smash, Chuck, and JeanR were all in the very first exchange -- I wonder how many old lists are in my stack. I wonder if I can remember where I put that stack.

I really like how Leslie added her own design to the preprinted thank you card.


Here is one of those after-thoughts I have when I am editing posts right before they pop up.

Remember that topic about regrets - and how so many people regret that they did not pursue their creative dreams when they were younger. Because I listen to so many audiobooks and I end up listening to a ton of autobiographies and a lot of them tend to be people who had long careers in something creative - I have finally discovered a very good reason to never regret that you had an interest in something creative - but you chose a different path.

People who had a successful career at something creative describe intense pressure that one has to endure to sustain a creative career. Every single one of them goes through stuff that is very difficult and the list of people who shot to stardom at an early age and then died young is pretty long. It is not a coincidence.

So, if you always dreamed of doing something creative - go ahead and give it a try. It's never too late to start most of the things on the creative spectrum. I actually can't think of anything that you can't start at a later age. Maybe you shouldn't try breakdancing if you are in your 80s. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Troy's tiger - MollyST


Here's Troy's tiger image with the tiger stamps. Troy uses really nice paper. I wonder if he will tell us what it is. It looks like the envelopes are already made and all the edges are deckle edges. So cool.


As I write this on March 11th, there are distressing things in the news. When this pops up in April, things will either be better, worse or the same. In case people think that I have a frivolous (or oblivious) view of the world, I'm reposting something from Molly Suber Thorpe. She's a lettering artist who has been around for a long time and is currently living in Greece. Here's what she had to say a month ago.

mollysuberthorpe It’s really easy to feel like making art is pointless – or at least unnecessary – when the suffering in the world is so great. But beauty, and expressions of true human experience, are the best antidote to ugliness. So artists always need to keep making, writers keep writing, musicians keep playing – not just for the need it fulfills inside us, but for the way it contributes to the good parts of the world, too.⁠

Whenever the world feels especially hard, I turn to Virginia Woolf because she always knows how to speak to me. I hope you have your equivalent of Virginia in this time: a private place to escape for a small dose of comfort and renewed sense of purpose.⁠

Link to Molly's IG

I snagged 3 images off IG. The middle one is the image that goes with her comments.

I feel that the writing I am doing is far more necessary than anything else. V Woolf